I call myself a writer (of sorts) and as such I love language. Words and phrases and expressions are like mother’s milk to me, and as I sail merrily along I see the English language changing and evolving with the times.
Now, it’s one thing when Merriam Webster takes time out every year to add words to the dictionary, like selfie or bestie, because they are so often used that they have become part of the lexicon and therefore are entitled to their degree of legitimacy. But I think it’s an entirely different thing when English speakers just take a word or phrase and merely change the meaning or usage at will. I’d like to offer a few examples of language gone awry.
Sit, let’s discuss.
The whole concept of Facebook has given rise to a scourge of people feeling the need to tell you what they’re doing every minute of every day. For instance, I’ve seen friends post “having a cocktail at The Village Pub” and then post a picture of their cocktail (are you bored from that particular post? Because I’m bored reporting it.) Or another: “Jack is eating an egg”. Well, whoop-de-do. So, at breakfast at the diner on Sunday, when we ordered four coffees, the waitress offered “I’ll go get them”, to which, seated at a booth, I responded “I’ll wait here.” After all, if we’re sharing information….
How about when I told the server that I didn’t have a fork? She replied: “No worries.” What did she mean by that? I happen to have some worries; brain tumors, a faulty left hand…. Maybe she meant SHE had no worries, and quite frankly, I didn’t ask mostly because I didn’t care.
What’s the difference between “murdered” and “killed?”
Okay, follow me here. I saw a gal once at karaoke sing “People”, in a rather cringe-worthy way, and she was no Barbra, and I thought she murdered the song; as in
“call the music-police and have her arrested.”. Then I heard a couple of young people commenting on a rather nice rendition of a Lady Gaga song and the guy said, the singer “killed it.”. He meant in a good way. You can’t just say “killed” and expect people to know you mean it as a compliment.
“They sang and they were ‘pitch-perfect.'”. I know what perfect pitch is with all my musical knowledge, but methinks pitch-perfect might be made up. Another example is “that performance was “spot on”. The only way I use that expression is “there’s a spot on your shirt” or “get a spot on the lead singer”. That I understand.
I was sitting at a sports bar having a beer. On the next stool was a guy sitting alone with his beer quietly watching the Miami Dolphins game. Suddenly, they scored and the room roared. The man next to me threw his arms up and screamed “NOW, THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.” I wanted to say “no sir, you were not talking about that. In point of fact, you weren’t talking at all.”. But I held my tongue. Seconds later I thought he was going to “high-five me, but it turned out to be a lame attempt at a “fist-bump”. Can anyone tell me when the “high-five” was replaced by the “fist-bump?” Is it a germ thing? I want to interact with you but I don’t want your cooties? I don’t know. I can’t keep up anymore.
You people are killing me. Or is it murder?
I had to come back to this topic to finish the story. I hope you don’t mind.
Where did we leave off? Oh yeah. I was waiting for delivery on the new bed… lying in wait like a black widow spider, to refuse delivery on the $149 pillow I added to qualify for the exchange. So, several days later the truck pulled up, the guys took the sunken bed away and set up the new one. Very nice. They tried to hand me the pillow and I refused to accept it, claiming I’d changed my mind. I instructed them to credit the amount back to my R-T-G account. They said “okay”, but they were merely delivery guys in the twisted hierarchy of this horrible company. The next day, the phone call came announcing a store credit (not a credit card refund) of $149. (So, screwed again, it seems I wasn’t yet through dealing with them.
Side note: right after we moved into the Penthouse (okay, the 5th floor of a 5-story building), I fell while unpacking and a huge ceramic floor lamp took the brunt of it leaving me with both a broken lamp and a bruised ass. So, technically, we were short a lamp for the new digs, and even though I swore I’d never return to that hideous store, there was that store credit… so…
Back we went.
Actually it didn’t take us long to find an arc lamp we loved. Take a look: Two problems: when we picked it up (to avoid yet another delivery charge) and brought it home, it was very tall (something you cannot tell in a giant furniture showroom, unless, of course you look at the measurements, which, after living 16 years with 15-foot vaulted ceilings, we did not) and although it had 4 settings of brightness, the lowest was still too bright for a gay household. We have friends whose makeup would melt under that intense heat. So we needed to take it back. Of course, you’ll recall there are no returns, so I decided to fight fire with fire… and just lie. I told them on the phone that it didn’t fit in the living room and was touching the ceiling posing a fire hazard. They began with, “too bad, so sad, no exchanges””, and I countered with “manager, please?”. I asked a nice young-sounding manager “if I’d bought a couch and your guys brought it up in the elevator, but it didn’t fit in the living room, would you tell me to go live in the elevator?” He saw my point and authorized an exchange. (I’m starting to feel good right about now. My hassling them is starting to feel a lot like a pound of flesh.”). So we went back and chose again, hassling both the store manager and all of the cashiers.). As we entered the store with the arc lamp, a rather pretty woman, one of the circling vultures in rotation (well, in Hollywood they’d cast a pretty woman as the harpy guardian of Hell, wouldn’t they?) snapped and snarled “there are no refunds or exchanges”. I smiled at her and said “we’ll just see about that, Missy”. After the exchange. I swear the bitch wouldn’t look at me. On the way out the door, I shouted back at her, gleefully…” See, I told you”, followed by a mumbled “BITCH.” So now we have the new lamp. Take a look.
One more chapter and I promise I’m done.
The story of The Couch. (yes, the black couch in the picture.)
Back up six months. I didn’t write about this while it was happening, but now you’re on the inside track at the furniture madhouse, you’re entitled to hear it.
Husband and I b ought the leather couch at the aforementioned R-T-G several months prior to the unfortunate hole-in-my-head incident. It was an L-shaped affair, (that never sat next to real leather… not even on the delivery truck), with a bench and what they call a chaise , which is French for what I would call a recamier, which is also French. All was pretty good with it for the first few months. (Please bear in mind this was the first R-T-G purchase, before any trouble, and I should add that although I’m not a huge Cindy Crawford fan, I do love Sophia Vergara, so I went with all good intentions.)
After the second surgery, having lived with the couch for a few months I noticed the cushion where Husband sits, or recams was sagging from its original position. Then, shortly thereafter, when the bed began to sag and they gave me attitude, I called for a technician to come look at the couch as well as the bed. A few arguments later they sent the second techie to reinforce the chaise section with extra foam. Worked like a charm for about a month. Then, whoops, excuse me, Husband’s ass was on the tile again. By now, the saga of the bed return and unwanted pillow had begun. The new bed came and a few days later we moved into the Penthouse (okay, the 5th floor of a 5-story building),…..I know what you’re thinking… why not have the replacement bed delivered right to the new place? Duh, they had to pick up the old one anyway. So we moved with the sagging chaise, and still angry about the second delivery charge, I insisted they deal with the couch. They had a half-couch, the chaise part delivered here and the technician came back and rebuilt the couch with a whole new half. It’s fine now, and I finally feel vindicated; new couch, new bed, no pillow and a lamp I love.
The moral of this whole saga is strangely similar to battling cancer: keep up the good fight, don’t give in, don’t take any crap and you can come out on top.
Oh yeah, and for your own mental health, steer clear of this furniture chain.
I always knew this day would come. Well, not always, but for the past 17 years I’ve known. You see, that’s how old my dog was and I’ve had her from the beginning. I’ve been amazed these past few years at how long she’d been with me and how old she’d gotten. It started to seem like she would go on forever. But we all know that nothing is forever.
She was a great dog. No, she was more than that. She was a great friend, companion, playmate and source of laughter. She was always ready at a moment’s notice to be by your side, to walk with you, play tug-of-war with her chew-toy or just sleep at your feet. Her only mission in life, aside from trying to convince you that now would be a good time for cookies, was to be a cute, cuddly friend. I daresay she was a pro at exactly that.
These past several years I’ve seen her sliding gently downhill; walking slower, difficulty getting up on the slippery tile floors and sleeping more than any other particular activity. I could tell that her hips hurt, and that her legs were wobbly and that she wished getting to the cookies was easier. But she fought the good fight until she just couldn’t walk anymore.
I chose her out of many from the pound, and brought her home to live with me and to grow old together. I was single then, before husband entered my life, and she and I, I thought, were just perfect together on our own.
A mere few months later, husband came along and instantly adopted her and proceeded to spoil her rotten (hence her intense love of cookies), and over time she became more his than mine. And that was okay. She had plenty of love to go around.
We’ve all grown old together, and one of us had to be the first to go, and I’m glad it was her. Because there never could have been anyone after husband and me who could have loved her the way we did.
I made a promise to her, the day she arrived in my home that she’d never suffer. So when the time came, I knew what I had to do.
Lately it’s been all steroids and prescriptions and cataracts and deafness and incessant barking and peeing etc with no real rhyme or reason. I feel like when I get there I hope someone will take a mercy to me, as well.
So it was time. A great dog, a great life well-lived and two sad daddies. This too shall pass….it just hurts.
As you all know, I see a lot of doctors on a regular basis. Even my friends call me a sick f*ck. But this particular story is not mine, but rather occurred during a visit by Husband to the dermatologist the other day. (I’ve mentioned that I named her second child, haven’t I? If you don’t remember, see earlier blog).
Now, I love Husband, warts and all, and on this particular day he had an appointment to actually remove said warts. (Two, to be exact, both on his left foot). And of course I went along for support. She’s a great doctor in a large practice and her office is always busy so we had to wait a while. As we sat, the TV was on softly, playing game shows, and a lot of really old people sat with us and waited for either the good doctor, or Death, to take them. I don’t really think they much cared which one. In order to expedite the crowd waiting for the various doctors, helpers were dispatched to come sit with the patients and take down their info, rather than clutter up the reception desk with walkers, canes, wheelchairs and oxygen tanks. (It made sense to me). I overheard snippets of two conversations I’d like to share with you.
First up, a frail old man, perhaps into his 90s, with so much schmutz on his skin I was amazed he even bothered to try to manage it. But as he waited, a perky, pretty, assistant sat down next to him; you know the type, kind of like a candy-striper. The conversation went something like this:her: Hello, my name is Heidi and I’m going to do some preliminary paperwork. What’s your name? him: Donald Bleeker he: Okay, Mr. Bleeker, Can I see your I.D. please? him: My what? her: Your I.D. You know, your driver’s license. him: I just showed it to that woman in the window when I signed in. her: Yes, but I need it for your chart. him: Why? Do you think it’s different from when I showed her, a minute ago? her: No sir, I don’t, I just need to see it. him: All right, already. (under his breath)..you people. me: ( under my breath)...bleaker than everyone.
Imagine, these poor receptionists do this all day.
The office door opens and a man approx. 5’1″ walks in in a long black coat. (Did I mention it’s Fort Lauderdale and it’s 81 degrees outside?) He’s 90-years-old, if he’s a day. And he’s wearing black sunglasses. He walks to the front desk, signs in and takes a seat, still wearing the black glasses. A few minutes later, along comes Mary, actually, Heidi, to be exact, and takes a seat next to him. She’s already looked at the sign-in sheet so she says:Heidi: Good morning, Mr. Collins, how are you? Mr. Collins: Well, I got here, didn’t I? Heidi: Yes you did, and good for you. Mr. Collins: It’s cold in here. Heidi: Yes, it’s a little chilly. Mr. Collins: That’s why I bring my coat, you know. A guy could get sick, sitting in here. Heidi: I’m going to do some preliminary paperwork. May I see your driver’s license, please? Mr. Collins: I don’t have one. Why do you need it? Heidi: Oh, well it’s for insurance forms and the doctor’s chart. Most people offer their driver’s license as proof of I.D. Mr. Collins: Well, I don’t have one because I don’t drive anymore. I’m blind! Heidi: (puzzled). Oh. Mr. Collins: (agitated). Are you blind that you can’t see that I’m blind? Heidi: Excuse me, Mr. Collins, I’ll be right back.
I think I saw a tear streaming down her cheek.
She left the waiting room and never came back. They called us in shortly after that, so I can’t finish the story. I hope, for their sake, they helped those two old men with their eye/skin/attitude problems. Or maybe death got there first.
Okay. The cruise is over and I’m back to being the roving reporter, commenting on all things wacky.
Tonight will be a short exercise, I think, as I’ve just started it, about TV. I know we’ve done this before but hey, there’s new stuff.
My local news Channel 10 (WPLG)
This is my local news channel. It’s an ABC affiliate. The only reason to watch is that after the 6:00 news comes Diane Sawyer, whom I love, but mostly when she’s not on, David Muir, my dream newscaster has the desk. (Sigh). He’s just yummy. And not a bad newsman either. Wouldn’t you agree? But back to the local yokels.
There was an earthquake in Cuba today. (Do we really care?). Well, if you live in South Florida, home to a million displaced Cubans who hate all the people of the world named “Castro’ and want the US to ‘take him out’, “kill him” and restore democracy to their beloved island, all the while having NO intention of returning, after we, the people, run up a huge war tab, you do. I’d be in favor of same if I thought it would change anything. (See Fallujah). But the quake was on the news.
Our local newsman, Calvin Hughes (the black man to Laurie Jennings white woman…isn’t it that way in every major market?) It used to be Dwight Lauderdale and Ann Bishop; then she died and he retired, the affiliate panicked, tried to recreate the black/white duo, failed miserably but stuck to their guns and now we’re the stuck ones with an incompetent news team, watching, waiting for Diane…..whew, didn’t mean to go on like that. Anyway, Calvin managed to get a resident of Key West named Clem, on the phone (they felt the outer bands of the quake), and interviewed him and the conversation went something like this: you’ll understand the title of my piece in a moment.Calvin: So, Clem. Did you feel the earthquake? Clem: Yes, Calvin, I did. Calvin: What was it like? Clem: Well, I felt the ground rumbling a bit and then the building kindof swayed. Calvin: Really? What was that like? Clem: It was kind of like a building swaying. Calvin: Can you describe it? And your feelings? Clem: Well, Calvin, not ever having been in an earthquake before I felt uneasy, the reason being that the building swayed a bit. (Me, in the background screaming) Calvin: What else can you tell us? Clem: Not much, Calvin, only that a book fell off of my desk when the building swayed. Calvin: And there you have it, South Florida, live from Key West, testimony from a survivor. Clem: Calvin, there was no question of my survival. It was just a little sway. Calvin: Thanks, Clem. Back to you, Laurie. ME: “pass the cyanide”…
News, folks. Live and happening.
And you wonder why I need Diane Sawyer and David Muir.
Welcome to St. Thomas (again). We’ve been here a lot.
Most of the passengers disembarked (Alex, I’ll take 11-letter words for $200), immediately after pulling up to the gas station, so when I arrived on the top deck, it was fairly quiet. I must say, it was a pleasure walking the breakfast buffet without having my toes run over by fat people in scooters trying to get to the biscuits and gravy.
I have to interject a small story here.
Most of the “public” crew is Asian from either Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, etc. That’s point number one. Number two, is that whenever you approach any food venue, you are required to sanitize your hands, in order to keep down the occurrence of the dreaded Norovirus. All of the dining rooms have a Purell dispenser at the door, but in a stepped-up effort to keep us safe, the ship’s management has adopted a policy of placing an actual staff-member at the door with a spray bottle of alcohol solution, offering to gently spray your hands in lieu of the Purell. Great idea, thought I.
They strategically place these Asian workers with spray bottles, and as you approach they are mandated to say “washie-washie” as they spray your hands. I don’t know. To me, it smacked of stereotype bordering on a kind of racism. I mean, would you put a black man at the fruit station and require him to say, “Mmmm, there be some good watermelon here, folks!” It’s just that there are certain ethnicities and races who are egregiously mis-represented in the world by cultural associations and I just couldn’t fathom whose idea it was, for the battle cry against illness to be “washie-washie”. I’m just saying. Not a lot of people saw it that way, but then seriously, at that point in your day, all eyes were on the buffet and not on cultural political correctness. I didn’t say anything on the comment card but I thought about it. I’d be curious as to what you think.
Anyway, back to St. Thomas. There’s plenty to do if you ride horses on the beach, snorkel, sail a catamaran, scuba or even hunt for buried treasure (usually found in the myriad of jewelry stores which line the streets like Chinese restaurants in Chinatown, NYC. We don’t do any of that, so I ventured as far as Havensport (the man-made shopping area on the dock, updated my wi-fi for about an hour while sipping iced-tea in a cozy little breakfast nook called Delly’s Deck, and came right back aboard for a private “sea-day” in port. The ship was deserted. Husband had the entire pool deck to himself and I had, the private swimming pool, where I spent about an hour. Ah, life on a ship. I should have joined the navy, (although it’s probably a little different). A glorious day, really. Breakfast, hop into town, swim, write a bit, nap, lunch, second nap, watch a movie (I watched Funny Lady which I haven’t seen in years…I brought it with me). Then onto cocktails, dinner, and another terrific show which was a mildly chubby pianist/singer who did a great act of medleys from TV, movies etc, reminiscent of Liberace (not quite that gay), with some down-home humor from his roots, Fargo ND. (Yah, you betcha!!) Afterward, I tried to get into Dazzles, the night-club, but the pesky old folks filled the room before I got there. You’d think it was enough that they flood the dining room the minute the doors open, but it’s not only that. It’s all venues. It’s as if they need to cram in one more event before the grim-reaper comes-a-callin’, standing there with their canes and walkers, fending him off. I don’t mind, really. I’ll be old(er) someday too and I’ll appreciate it if the young whippersnappers stay out of my way. Don’t come between me and the buffet under fear of death by caning. (Or if I’m in a scooter by then, watch your toes, people).
I have a casino credit that I’m trying to use, but the room is so smoky that while sitting playing the penny-slots I fear second-hand smoke poisoning. (before you sniggle at my penny slot story and refer to me henceforth as “big spender”, you should know, I play 25 lines at a time for 4 credits so it’s a buck a pull. Take that, oh ye who laugh). But the smoke. So I play in 10-minute intervals and then go onto the promenade deck to clear my lungs. It’s funny. It’s as if the casino is the “vice-room” with people gambling, smoking, drinking and eating. Yep, buffet in there too. How many of the Deadly Sins is that? I think they should add hookers to make it complete. Of course, after an old guy gets off with a “lady of the night” there’s the whole Pride sin rounding out the deck. Geez. Me? I’m strictly a gluttony kind of guy. Not so bad.
We’re coming to the end of the voyage. Just two sea-days left. (My favorite days). There are lots of activities so the story is not over. I’ll be back.
Up early this morning. We pushed the clocks back last night. I’m having a terrible time with, well, time. My devices (phone, tablet, etc) don’t update as I have them on “airplane mode” so as not to get charged a bazillion dollars while sleeping. But then I go into ports and the phone updates but the tablet doesn’t so I’m never really sure what time it is. That’s not actually a bad thing, just sayin’.
Early breakfast watching the sun come up on the back deck. Gorgeous. I met some of the gay guys for coffee and they introduced me to another couple (our age). The wife is an artist (watercolors and cloisonné` jewelry) and the husband is a motivational speaker, very dynamic. He’s written a novel and when he found out he was in the presence of the next J.K. Rowling, he pumped me for info on self-publishing. I was happy to oblige and guide him. I look forward to reading his book. It’s about family dysfunction in the 60s; an overbearing mother, intrusive relatives and surviving. (Hey, they say “write what you know”). I advised him not to use their real names. He was adamant at first, but his wife told him the same, so he’s going to change the names. I assured him that the members of the family will know who they are in the story. At least, mine did.
Not much to report for this first of two sea-days. Lazy, gluttonous day. I spent the morning writing the blog and then actually produced the next two chapters of the Jason saga. As for dinner, we’ve been alternating between a very amiable fellow from Chicago and our new Aussie couple friends. We met another straight couple through them; a retired fire chief and his wife. I guess we’re just lucky that way. Meeting people is easy for us and our luck held in that there were almost no assholes, (with the exception of that first excursion with the ugly American, you know, the poison guy).
The show was the final performance of the SS&D; a kind of “We will rock you” event. As usual, they were great, but I must say the mikes were a bit off balance so it was hard to love it. Afterward, up on the main pool deck was the White Party where we danced the night away. Nothing funnier that baby boomers trying to recapture their youth dancing to YMCA in white clothes. It looked a little like the physical therapy room in the geriatric ward at Mt. Sinai. I gotta say, I’m tired.
One more day.
Finale. I feel a little like a zombie. I’ve have seriously eaten way too much and have the belly to prove it. I’ve drunk too much as well. And partied too hard. And traversed across South America and Caribbean islands. Frankly, I’ll need a vacation after my vacation. A few good quiet days at home with my children should probably do the trick.
Speaking of eating too much, I have a few observations.
The food was very good. The venues are all pretty casual, although there were a few “dress-up” nights. The first night steak and lobster feast kind of set us up for a fall. Because of it, I was sure the baby lamb chops would make an appearance but alas, they were nowhere to be found. I suppose the specialty steak house had them, but it seemed pointless to spend $60 on dinner when food is included. Besides, I would have ordered the big steak had we gone there, so the chops would have eluded me anyway. The desserts were only okay and the selection was limited. (Of course there was always delicious ice-cream, but even there the selection was limited to chocolate, vanilla or strawberry. Some of the appetizers were truly to die for; I had a duck sausage wrapped in a thin slice of grilled eggplant, enrobed in a kind of hollandaise. There was also a salmon tartar that was worth noting. Husband had several soups that he really enjoyed especially the yellow lentil and the white bean minestrone. (Apparently, if there is a vegetable with color involved, the chef excels). There were several lunches on the pool deck with giant grills going with chicken, pork leg and several types of roasts, grilled corn, paellas, tacos, fajitas and the like. Lots of that was very good, although the crowd hovered and the sight of all of those enormous people in bathing suits filling plates from a buffet was a little off-putting. There should be a rule; “No showing your fat stomach shirtless while others are trying to dine.” Just sayin’.
Speaking of which, I might have mentioned this, but husband observed that he couldn’t recall ever seeing so many large women on one ship is his life. As rotund as we both feel, we were rank amateurs in the giant stomach department. My mother taught me years ago, “if you want to feel thin, stand next to a fattie”. So for the most part, I felt like Calista Flockhart.
A word about our cruise director, Ian. He was, perhaps, the most enjoyable one we’ve ever had. He was knowledgeable, helpful and funny. Very funny. He began his career as a magician and on one sea day did his act in the big theater and was most excellent. I chatted with him several times and laughed a lot. He was a Brit, with an international flair for poking fun at all nationalities and did it such, that nobody was ever offended. Good job.
Our final dinner was with the Aussies and the fire captain and once again we closed the joint. Hanging out with them was so much fun I didn’t want it to end. Our final good-byes included a standing invitation to come to Melbourne to visit and stay with them. Who knows? We just might take them up on it.
So, that’s all folks. Thanks for traveling with me. We look forward to our next adventure. Imagine the stories I’ll tell if we actually make it to “the land down under?”
Curacao was the main reason I booked this cruise. We’d done Aruba and Bonaire last year, so A & B were checked off the list. But I needed the “C” island and here we are. I have to start with one word. Gorgeous. It’s currently a Dutch island like the others, part of the former Netherlands Antilles. (That’s no longer applicable as they have their own identity now, as of this year, so your old t-shirt that says “Curacao N.A.” is now officially obsolete. They tried to sell me an old one but I was already savvy, so…..
We were just going to walk to the town center, but it began to drizzle and we thought it ill-advised. If the skies opened in the middle of the walk we’d get soaked and that would spoil the experience. As fate would have it (and of course, commercial endeavor), there was a myriad of tours right on the dock, that for $20 would drive us in an air-conditioned van, all around the island. We took it and had the most marvelous time. We saw the entire country. Marketplaces, poor neighborhoods, rich enclaves, and sights not available on foot.
They still, to this day, apply the labels to the bottles by hand. Here are a few pix: that’s Husband.
Our tour guide was very eloquent and taught us a handful of words in their native language. “Bon Dini” means “good morning”. Stuff like that. Also, he filled us in on the history of the ownership of the island, beginning with the natives, conquered by the Spanish, and subsequently conquered by the Dutch. It was a huge salt-mining nation for a time, salt being very valuable back in the 1700s. (Well, the Dutch do cure a lot of fish…mostly herring). Then it became a major slave-trading hub of commerce. The Jews, fleeing the Inquisition in Spain arrived and surprisingly to me, got into the slave business. Most disturbing. Eventually, they started banks and businesses and got around to doing what Jews do best, so I can still be proud of my people. The island has the oldest synagogue in the Caribbean, dating back to the 1700s. I went to see it but they wanted ten bucks just to walk in. I knew I’d only be in there five minutes so I photographed the outside and took a pass on entering. Its claim to fame is that it still has a dirt floor. Not such a draw for me. Plenty of dirt on my floors at home, so…
All in all, a great look at a fabulous island. I could consider going there sometime and checking into a resort and just chilling in the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean. Just sayin’.
Back aboard brought the next in a series of naps. (Don’t you love vacations? All those naps).
That evening’s entertainment was complex. There was a 7:30 show in the main theater, and an 8:30 SS&D Motown revue in the night-club, and a repeat of the former at 9:30. When to eat?
Side note: Therein lies the only stress there is on a cruise; sometimes the great entertainment interferes with the feeding schedule. They do their best, but still, you know….
Second side note: I found out today, on day 6, that there’s food in the Sports Bar. I didn’t go in there because sports and I, well, you know. But there’s “Sports Bar food”. Chicken wings, burgers, nachos etc. So that solved our problem. (I’ll spare you pictures of the chicken wings. You’ve seen one, you’ve….well, you know.) We’d have some of that at 7:30, and then to Motown. Great show once again. Husband retired and I continued on to the comic/hypnotist in the big room.
Now if you’ll recall, I’ve been on stage with hypnotists on past cruises and I swore I’d stay out of it this time and just watch, which I did. If you’ve never seen this kind of act you ought to. Spoiler alert: you don’t get hypnotized just because some guy snaps his fingers in your face. (Imagine how much guys would get laid if that worked. “Hey Honey, come here a minute, would you?” Snap. “Yeah, baby, that’s it, watch your teeth.”) But the volunteers play along with the guy to produce a good show. And laugh we did. People get really silly if you let them. I hope they enjoy their notoriety for the remainder of the week. People will stop them constantly to ask “were you really hypnotized?” and they’ll tell whatever version of the truth that they like. Trust me. Been there, done that.
Afterwards, I went up to a room called “Las Ramblas” which is a tapas bar where the karaoke is held. Again, it was horrible (screeching cats come to mind), but the homo gang was there and I met an interesting new group; a gay, newly-married-in-Iowa couple travelling with one of their mothers. His name was Steve and the mother is Edie. How funny is that? When I said to them, “Steve and Edie, really?” the son replied, and I swear I’m not making this up, “Who are Steve and Edie?” I slapped him. Okay, I didn’t really but the thought crossed my mind. Edie, the lad’s mother and I explained who they were and had a good laugh. We became instant BFFs and they’re both eager to download my book from Amazon to compare Jason’s “coming-out” process to Steve’s. Cool stuff. I’m deeply flattered.
Five minutes on the top deck in the hurricane winds and off to bed. We just passed the half-way mark of the cruise. Five days to go.
Another day at sea. On the one hand those are my favorite days; lying around, choosing shipboard activities, writing, reading, napping etc, with nowhere to be, go or do. On the other hand, those are the crowded days where everyone is aboard. The saving grace is that at any given time, half are on the pool deck and half are eating somewhere (or some combination of both), so if you avoid those two areas, it’s a lovely day.
Food was a regular day. I feel the pounds creeping up on me. We’re not walking as much as usual and not going to the gym. The winds are wicked if you try to do laps, so we eat instead, to fill the gap in time. I’m not unhappy about my waist, as if we were home, without constant food offerings, we’d be doing the whole holiday season thing, and gaining weight anyway. Right after we return home is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, more bingeing, then New Year’s Eve and its offerings, so all talk of weight reduction has been put on hold until January 2, 2014. I’m okay with that. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself.) I can still get into my pants for dinner, so it can’t be too bad.
We had our pre-dinner cocktail with the gang and we made a date with several of the FOD group for dinner and had a marvelous time. The staff in the MDR now understand that we’re a presence with which to be reckoned. I had the short ribs and they were amazingly lean and lovely. Bravo, chef.
The show that night was “The Look of Love”, a production number of the songs of Burt Bacharat. It was the SS&D gang and as ever, it was great.
A stroll in the almost full moon on deck. Can we re-write the lyrics to that song “Oklahoma?” Ready?Cartagena, where the wind comes whipping through my hair. Where the roarin’ sea will make you pee and the ship will rock from here to there….
(I don’t know. I think Rogers and Hammerstein have nothing to fear, really.)
Off to bed.
This day almost needs its own blog. I have a story to tell.
It began with the view from our miniscule balcony. The sight of five cruise ships parked at the dock (looking very much like a Walmart parking lot loading with motor homes), and three floating just offshore, for a total of eight, yielding 22,500 tourists on this tiny island, should have told me to stay put. Take a look:
This is how the day went:
Background: We’ve met a Dutch couple. Let’s call them Gijs and James. Not native Dutch but rather transplanted from Canada and South Africa, but they live in Holland for the past 20 years. (You should hear the way they pronounce Holland. It’s just so cool.) They’re great guys and I think husband has a man-crush on James. He follows him around like a puppy. (Not really, but he likes them a lot). Did I mention that James has the body of a god? Yeah, he does.
Gijs, Having lived on St. Maarten for several months, years ago, wanted to take James to a secret beach about which he knew. It was a clothing optional place and strictly gay. Personally, I really didn’t need to schlep my cookies to a naked beach on a tropical island, considering I don’t even go the local one in Miami, but husband really wanted to go with, and I’m nothing if not a sport, so we did.
We loaded up; towels, sunscreen, water bottles, etc and headed out. Gijs knew about the $2 bus that would take us to our first stop; the famous Queen Juliana airport where you can sit on a beach, or in a tavern next to the runway and watch the planes taking off and landing, just above your head, practically removing your hat as they pass. It was kind of exciting, but actually we have that same effect traveling on I-95 in Broward county while passing Fort Lauderdale Airport. James thought it was very cool, which made Gijs happy. It was a bit of a walk from the bus stop to this viewing site, but we made the schlep.
From there, the schlep back to the bus stop, another ride to a small seaside community named Cupecoy Beach. After paying the driver we began a “600 meter walk”, according to Gijs’s recollection from his time there, to the beach. It was a rocky path, along an edge of a cliff suspended above the shore line and it was closer to a mile than to the aforementioned distance. I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of the path because I was a little terrified walking so close to the edge and imagined, several times, falling to my death on the rocks below. But I’m nothing if not a good sport so we plodded on. We reached our destination, a flight of crooked, rocky steps, leading down to the beach. It was about two stories down, on uneven steps with no hand-rail, accompanied by more thoughts of death on the rocks. (I began to mutter, “you guys don’t really know me that well, but this is seriously not who I am”.) They helped me down the flight to a tiny beach/cove. Then, up on to the rocks upon which the surf was foaming, at the mouth of the cove, and around a bend. We had arrived.
There was no place to lie down or even put our things down, as it was a cove in a rocky section where the surf pounded mercilessly against the boulders and often came all the way up into the cove. We hung our things from jagged edges in the rocks to keep them dry. (See photo). Gijs immediately got naked and James, the beauty, whom I seriously hoped would, of course, did not. He and Gijs grabbed their snorkeling gear and plunged into the roaring, foaming, angry sea, husband stretched out in the sun to work on his tan and I was left standing in the shade of the cove with the sandy surf roaring. (Can I inject here that this was not my favorite moment of my life? This was right up there with my colonoscopy).
There were a few other naked people, dotting the rocky landscape looking for action, but of course it’s never the people that you’d like to be naked with. Just never. Oh well. I wanted to snorkel with the boys, but literally feared for my life ending with my brains splattered all over the rocks on the beach of St. Maarten, and I hated to think about the obituary, after having lived a relatively sane life. Can’t you see the headline now? “Respected Fort Lauderdale businessman and novelist dies from injuries sustained cruising naked gay beach in St. Maarten.” What would people say? So I sat there, for maybe an hour, convinced that I’d never make it back up the rocky, dangerous steps alive. Not my finest hour, people. Finally, I announced that I was going to attempt to climb and return to the bus stop, with, or without the assembled party. Mercifully, all agreed and they helped get my things back around the treacherous rocks and up the flight to safety. I more than assured them I was not “cliff walking” back, and we found a rocky path instead. We made it to the bus stop (I’m getting pretty tired by now), and took it back to the airport, where the two of them departed and husband and I found a café with both wi-fi and a large bottle of water. We checked in with home and grabbed another bus for the four-mile ride back to the ship…..which took over an hour in a packed vehicle (mercifully air-conditioned), because of local traffic and a pesky bridge that went up for a half-hour to allow the billion-dollar yachts in and out of the harbor. (Have I mentioned I hate those yacht owners? They’re so rich they should buy their own islands and leave the rest of us alone). Anyway, we made it back to the dock, just in time to stand in line for a half-hour waiting for the tenders to take us back to the ship. (More crowded, packed seating). Once back aboard, I took a twenty-minute shower, trying to get the sand off of my body.
People, I’m a player with the best of them, but this was not my finest hour. Oh well, live and learn. Moral of the story? “Hang around with people both your own age and your own general body type.” Or a slightly different lesson? “Don’t go cliff walking in your 60s”. Point taken.
Cocktails with the boys where I was polite about our excursion, while leaning heavily on the sarcasm about the joys of near-death experiences. We had dinner that night with our new-Aussie friends. It was her birthday and her guy ordered a little cake for the occasion. We ate a piece right after the assorted cheese-cakes, tortes, and ice-creams. (Yeah, it was in addition to dessert, not instead of. Oy, ships).
The entertainment was a Gaucho act. The poster was of a guy who looked to be close to 70 wearing a Spanish-style hat and boots, holding bolos. Sound fabulous to you? Me neither. I almost blew it off but then thought, “every show so far has been excellent, so let’s peek in at the beginning and if it sucks we’ll back out”. So we did and surprise of surprises; the guy was amazing.
He did about ten minutes of standup, with an outrageous accent and was hilarious. Really. Then he cued the band and sat down at a grand piano to play Malaguena, no easy piece. People, he was a concert-level pianist. I was slack-jawed. This was followed by more banter and a chair and guitar appeared. He proceeded to play classical guitar, again, on a concert-level. Was there anything this guy couldn’t do?
He proceeded with his famous bolos, twirling and snapping and dancing in a very thrilling way. He then searched the audience for a guy with a lot of hair on his head to do the next part of his act, and because it’s such an old crowd, for the most part, he couldn’t find one so the banter began and he had us hysterical. Finally he settled on a guy, brought him onstage and proceeded to do death-defying things around this guy’s head, all the while keeping us in stiches with his banter. Among the best acts we’ve seen in a very long time. Bravo.
A full-moon stroll around the deck and off to bed. It’s hard to convey a full moon with a picture, but let me try to give you a sense. Take a look.
See you tomorrow. Stay tuned for Part 4…..
Cartagena was pretty amazing. Unlike other ports in the Caribbean, when you approach it, it isn’t all green and mountains (although there is some of that). There’s a skyline that would rival Miami. It’s a major city and port. Take a look:
Surprising, no? As we exited the ship we were greeted by some of the natives:
We didn’t go for one of the “ship tours” as they’re both expensive and a tad dysfunctional. Besides, I really hate the concept of “everybody get on the bus”…..”everybody get off the bus”….. So we found a couple of the gay guys from the group and rented a van for about 3 hours with a great Colombian driver named Gustavo, and toured this magnificent city; the old Cartagena, the new Cartagena, the San Felipe fort, the nunnery up on the top of the mountain. (I swear, I sang “Climb Every Mountain” as we, well, climbed.
We then walked for a while in the old part of the town fending off natives hawking their wares.
It went something like this:Hawker: Senor, nice hat. You buy? Only twenty dollars. Me: No, gracias. Him: Okay only ten dollars. Me: No, pero gracias. Him: Okay, how much you want to pay. Me: No quiero un sombrero, gracias. Him: Senor, okay two for ten dollars Me: Taxi!!!
It was annoying but it’s just people trying to make a living so you suffer it. I did pour some gringo dollars into the economy by buying the obligatory t-shirt and a couple of kilos of local coffee. (See, I’m thinking like a native already; I said kilos instead of pounds. Proud of me?)
Take a look at some of the old town:
One of the gay guys in our party, whom we really didn’t know before this day-trip, turned out to be an asshole. A real, card-carrying, ugly American who insulted every peddler he met, causing Husband and I to fall back and not walk with him. I was hoping the Cali Cartel would kidnap him and hold him for ransom at which point we’d all get back in the van and escape. No such luck. I’m going to avoid him for the rest of the cruise like poison sumac, except looking at the plant is pretty and looking at this asshole is not. Just sayin’.
I took my eyes off Husband for one minute and suddenly I heard, hey baby, take my picture. He was standing with a rather colorful woman of the streets. In light of the fact that there was already an ugly American amongst us, I took the picture and smiled at the woman. Moments later she held out her hand (and it wasn’t to shake mine). She wanted a buck for the posing. (Didn’t Husband’s mother ever teach him not to talk to strangers?) Oh well, she’s a working girl. I didn’t ask but I bet her melons are spectacular. TMI?
Back on the ship found lunch and a well-deserved nap, followed by a shower in the fitness center and then cocktails with the gay group. Mercifully, the poison guy didn’t show.
We went to the early show which was an aging singer who put on a pretty good act, which we enjoyed. Then on to dinner with this amazing Australian couple whom I think I mentioned. We closed the dining room again and moved on to karaoke. Spoiler alert; karaoke is no better on a fabulous ship than it is in your local watering hole or sports bar. Just a bunch of drunks singing “My Way” off key. I wasn’t nearly drunk enough to sit for more than a couple of minutes.
From there to Dazzles, the late night club where there was a cadre of young people salsa-ing the night away. There was a fabulous drag-queen dancing with the guests. He was one of the SS&D troupe. Take a look:
Is that great or what? You don’t see that on every cruise ship, I can assure you. He was 6’4”. Add 6” for platform shoes and a couple more for hair, and he was over seven feet tall. What fun.
Anyway, I’m back in the room and it’s time for bed. Can’t stay up too late as we dock in Aruba tomorrow morning and we’ve already pushed the clocks an hour. This clock pushing is killing me. Because I have my phone on “airplane mode” so I don’t get hit with huge mystery charges while sleeping, it doesn’t update, so the time stays the same. In one time zone and out the other. Then, when I find wi-fi on land it kind of malfunctions so it’s many hours off. I’m not even sure why I carry it, except it’s my camera as well. I tell you, this international travel is not for sissies.
I gotta go.
We’d already been to Aruba so it wasn’t such a big deal. Mostly we walked around looking for a wi-fi spot to check in on home to find out if the old dog was still alive. I managed to use an app to call my best friend across the street who said that all of the children are fine. Relieved, we wandered into the Aruba Casino to use the men’s room. Side note: Husband was in there making water, Miss Daisy, and I had a handful of coins, so I sat down at a slot machine outside the rest room and put a couple of quarters into the penny slot. In less than a minute there was an elderly waiter (translate…OLD) with a tray of cocktails and beer offering me a libation for free. (They really want you drinking while you gamble.) Husband and I split a beer, after which we needed to pee again. I tell you, it’s a vicious cycle. The Casino was very impressive but we don’t gamble. After my fifty cents were gone, back to the ship we went.
The usual. Shower, cocktails with the boys, (actually, I wished it was the other way around; cocktails, and shower with the boys, but alas), and a simple dinner, as we wanted to see the SS&D perform their cabaret act of Broadway tunes in the Observation Lounge at 8:30. Wonderful. I’ve met them all and we’re BFF’s by now. (Well, we all know each-others’ names.)
From there, Husband retired to the room and I moved on to the big show room for the acrobatic duo. A husband and wife team from Ukraine (aren’t they all?), who’ve never been in Cirque du Soleil, but should be. They did things that made my vagina hurt. Splits and pretzel formations and literally hanging from the drapes and ceiling, Take a look at some of these pictures and tell me how sore you’d be if you tried this. They were fabulous!
Afterwards, I strolled on the windy deck and took this video of the pool.
It’s a funny thing. The seas are rough and the wind is seriously blowing, but even this old ship has terrific stabilizers and it doesn’t rock too badly. However, you can’t stabilize the swimming pool. Water will move with other water. (Thank you Sir Isaac Newton). So this will give you an idea of just how rough the seas were. After the video, click back to continue.
Whipped by the day and the wind. I went to bed. Big day tomorrow. New port. Curacao. We’ve never been.
Voyage of the Sun Queen…..
What do you think? Is that title too Yma Sumac? I”m thinking it is, after all the NCL SUN and I am a, well, you know, so I’m going with it.
The account of Day 1…..A tale of two lobsters…..
It’s the end of the first day of eleven at sea. Yeah, it’s that time again. We’re sailing. I warned you. There’s been a lot of chatter on my part, foreshadowing this trip, so you all knew it was coming. I sit now, at the end of day one, with Husband out on the balcony, without pants (what’s new about that?) breathing in the salty night air. I miss my kids, but honestly…..life is good.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
So, first day aboard ship. Boarding was mostly a breeze, except for the drink Nazis at the entrance. Okay, I’m a smuggler at heart. I brought contraband aboard….a/k/a liquor and wine, when it’s expressly forbidden. And I’m a good smuggler. It keeps us from having a huge liquor bill. (I know the cruise ship needs the revenue, but hey, it will cost thousands by the time we’re done, so, if I can save a few bucks, who’s to mind?) Let me tell you how it went down, day one hour one.
I filled two seltzer bottles with vodka. The ships are wise to this, so I added the following conditions: (Pay attention, people, this will save you money). I used my home soda machine to inject “fizz” into the vodka, so that if they shake the bottles, there will actually be “bubbles”. I also buy bottle caps online that have the “ring”, which normally detaches and remains on the neck, still attached to the cap, so that the bottles look “new” and unopened. I also fill Arizona Iced Tea bottles with copious amounts of husband’s Manhattans, without tearing the paper around the neck so they too, look unopened. Great plan.
Today, at the port, some junior achiever inspector, looking to make master investigator, or something, opened the laptop case and examined the “bottles”. He sniffed and probed, and even asked husband to open a bottle, (which husband refused to do). I chimed in, “WTF? I thought we were allowed soft drinks. Don’t open my seltzer! It will go flat and I need to take my pills.” (Then, I coughed, gently, like Violetta in La Traviata, and the sniffing agent spat, “okay, move along”.)
“Thank you officer”, said I.
Husband and I then fretted until 3:00pm, when our five pieces of luggage arrived, as each piece contained either a box of white wine, red wine, or …..wait for it….more vodka. We thought for sure we’d be summoned to the “naughty room” having been caught. But Poseidon is on my side and the bags arrived untouched without incident. So, people….the bar is open.
While we waited for the bags to arrive, we had lunch. Now, bear in mind there are roughly 2000 people boarding and they’re all heading for the lunch buffet. Husband and I opted to NOT walk the line but rather head to the main dining room, henceforth to be called the MDR. Quiet, peaceful, elegant. A window table with a view of the hustling, bustling Port of Miami. We ate light. (I kept glancing over my shoulder to see if I could spot the ten pounds that will inevitably chase me for eleven days, but so far there’s no sign of them. They’ll be along, trust me. Must be caught in traffic.) I ordered dessert but only tasted it. After all, there are 32 more meals to come. What’s my hurry?
While lunching, I spotted several of our “clan”. A couple of old, very large lesbians and several gay men scattered about the room, poking at the shrimp salad or fish and chips. There’s a Friends of Dorothy (or FOD) meeting tonight at 7p.m. (That’s an antiquated expression meaning “a gathering of fags and dykes, but don’t tell anyone. Shh…it’s a secret society.”) These days nobody cares whether we’re gay or not. We’ll definitely go.
We headed back to the room to find the bags had come. We quickly unpacked, grabbed our hats and sunglasses and headed up to the muster drill. It was not nearly as much fun as on a gay cruise where the queens turn international orange life vests into high fashion, (oy, don’t ask. The shenanigans of those guys), but it’s mandatory.
Our room is great. We have a balcony this trip. It’s a small one, but the room is a decent size. It might be nice to have a cocktail from our smuggled contraband out there, but alas, the size allows only either you or the cocktail. Not both together. No, I’m kidding, but it is kind of tiny. The bathroom is miniscule as well, the shower being roughly the size of a vertical MRI machine. But husband and I discovered the showers in the Fitness Center so we use those. I hope our cabin boy, Rene, is grateful that he needn’t scrub our tub.
We met the FOD at the Champagne Bar and had a pretty nice turnout. About a dozen men of all ages, and one young, pretty lesbian, cruising with her elderly parents, because her fiancé of five years broke up with her. She’s very sweet. Two of the guys are way young and very handsome. They’re from Saskatchewan. Yeah, I know. Frozen tundra, right? They thoroughly appreciate the humidity in South Florida, as they usually live with very dry air, cold enough to crack your face. They were reveling in the hot, humid air. Imagine. There were a couple of single guys traveling separately who were in on a gambling pass. I guess when you’re a high roller, they love having you aboard, so NCL “comped” them a room and all the drinks they care to have, in exchange for their leaving thousands in the Casino. I’m not sure who got the better of that deal, but it seems all parties are content with it. We met a couple of guys our age from the Fort Lauderdale area, each with a younger, handsome lover. There was also a second young couple, one of whom participated in the karaoke on several occasions. (You know my views on karaoke, so I’ll describe that in a later chapter.) That’s one of the things I love about cruising. You meet people from everywhere.
At 7:30 we hit the first show which was a cavalcade of the shows to come while aboard. I won’t spoil it for you, but rather reveal as we go, but I think we’re in for a pretty good time.
Usually, the first night at sea is a relatively simple dinner. Not so, this ship. Opening salvo? Filet mignon and lobster tail dinner. Or should I say, lobster tail(s)? Ahem. You’re allowed, so why not? (Okay, another glance over the shoulder…still good).
Post-dinner we headed back to our cabin to revel on the balcony letting the ocean breeze wash over our naked bodies. Not sex, you know these blogs better than that. Minds out of the gutter, people.) Just a natural soothing wind to refresh our tired souls as we begin our adventure at sea. There are lots more days to come. Stay tuned.
A very full day.
Up early. A bit sluggish due to a couple of martinis and a glass of red wine, but hey, it’s vacation. Seven a.m. found me up, in running shoes, (although I don’t run), shorts and a t-shirt. Husband and I walked the promenade many times burning thousands of calories from the previous day. (Knock it off. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) Afterward, we did breakfast at the buffet, having found a quiet corner on the back of the Lido deck. It was very windy. (Funny story…..I was walking toward our seating area with a full, bounteous plate of nova, cream cheese, fruit and a bagel (and a croissant because I’m curious about how the French eat Jew food), and as I hit the outer door to the back patio, all of the bread items flew off my plate and into the sea. Subsequently, a school of small fish began to follow the ship. Shhh. Don’t tell the Captain. I replaced the bread products immediately before the lox got warm. Good breakfast.
Afterwards I went to the Cruise Critic meet & greet/gift exchange. It was a kind of “white elephant” party with gifts being chosen and stolen until all present, made their choice. My wrapped gift was a copy of my novel, and all modesty aside, they fought for it. I was flattered. A woman at my table picked it, had it “stolen” by a later chooser and subsequently knocked on my door to buy a copy. Ah, the price of fame…..but I digress. I walked with a ravioli mold which Husband will surely use, after we finish losing whatever weight we gain. (Yo-yo anyone?)
This was followed by a rather dysfunctional lunch in the MDR which lasted way too long, and made me late for the seminar on back pain, which turned out to be an infomercial from the fitness room beauty, Lars (hey, we’re sailing like a Norwegian here), for shoe inserts costing $189. Thanks Lars, but I have inserts from my doctor and they don’t help. (But it was a pleasure looking at your chiseled Nordic features for a half-hour. Thank you for that).
At 4:00p.m., we hustled up to the gym, showered in the luxurious spa, came back to the room, shaved, made martinis, and dressed for high-fashion dinner. We met the homos at 6:00 p.m., made some new friends and saw the ship’s singers and dancers at 7:30. (Henceforth, can I refer to them as the SS&D? Much easier for me. Thanks). They were stupendous. I love those kids. They’re so young and energetic and filled with hopes and dreams of careers on Broadway. I’m enchanted. They remind me of me. (Except for the young, energetic, hopeful, filled-with-dreams part.) Still I wouldn’t miss their act for the world. (I just need to make sure there’s no conflict with the baby lamb chops, which I hope will make an appearance at some point).
Dinner was lovely. I was good and ate a filet of salmon and didn’t eat dessert. (I still think I might be sneaking into a weight gain.) We ate at a deuce, just the two of us, but met an amazing Australian couple at the very next table, with whom we sat in the MDR until 11:00p.m. We closed the joint.
Afterward, we walked around and found the Casino, the Disco and the amazing stars in the sky that you see, well, when you’re out to sea. I’m writing now, but I need to call it a day and catch some zees. Tomorrow is another exhausting day of doing nothing on the high seas. I need my strength. Bon Soir, y’all.
Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main…..
Oh, it’s all good. Up early this morning, dragging my ass a bit. We were up too late last night at the disco with some new fun people. Didn’t do laps today. Way too windy. I’ll bet there were 45 mph winds out there, and the boat is a rockin’ and a rollin’. It’s a good thing I’m an excellent seaman. (Yes, that spelling is correct. Again, people, minds out of the gutter). There are some queasy people aboard this ship. Funny though, it doesn’t seem to stop them from mobbing the buffets. Hmmm.
At 11:00am, we had a slot pull. Twenty-six of us coughed up fifteen bucks each and took turns on the Wheel of Fortune machine. An hour later we cashed out at $12 each, realizing a net-loss of $3. I happened to be the big winner because I hit a Jackpot with the highest pull score so the odd amount of leftover cash was mine, after the divvy-up. I walked with $21.00, a net-gain of $6. Woohoo! Add to that the fact that I’ve already sold two copies of Jason’s Truth and we’re doing okay. I’ve already decided…..no drinking tonight. I have to be fresh for the Cartagena experience tomorrow morning. I’ll tell you about that later.
It’s 12:30pm. I’m late for my nap.
For dinner tonight we splurged and went to the Italian specialty restaurant. We had calamari, minestrone soup, salad, carpaccio, chicken parm, lasagna, torta di ciocolate and coffee. Amazing. We waddled around the deck awhile and then crashed.
See you later.
…..tomorrow, the Cartagena adventure.
I didn’t think I’d offer another piece before the cruise, but “I read the news today, Oh Boy”….My thoughts…..
I hope you all watched the Carrie Underwear, I’m sorry, Underwood, Sound of Music LIVE. If you DVR’d it, I suppose it’s still live, but I believe the thrill will be gone, as you’ll have read all the comments, snarky or otherwise, by now.
I don’t normally do reviews, and I suppose this isn’t one either, but rather my observations; and isn’t that what this column is all about anyway? So, very briefly, here goes…..
Sit. Let’s discuss.
It wasn’t your father’s Sound of Music. Julie Andrews reigns supreme. But this was not that, and never pretended to be. Carrie was lovely. She performed the songs beautifully, worked with the children (who were wonderful) well, and interacted okay with the Mother Abess and the nuns.
She’s NOT an actress…..yet. She may someday be.
But for me, (the biggest “Sound” movie buff ever, this was a great opportunity to see a different cast, LIVE, with all its pitfalls, (Greta lifted her dress along with the veil at the wedding….I saw the camera through the window, Carrie almost fell in the opening…..loved it!). A chance to see the play, (different from the movie version), and a chance to see something better than fat people losing weight (Biggest Loser), loser people trying to mate (The Bachelor, or worse, Bachelorette), people who are neither Stars, nor Dancing, on Dancing with the Stars (and those that excel are not live but edited before airing, and on and on.) LIVE media is a joy, and I only hope that this piece, even with its limited acting chops, spawns many more LIVE TV Theater Specials for me, as a major theater Queen, to enjoy. So dish if you must. Show me better LIVE TV and then we’ll talk.
I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Just one man’s thoughts.
The time is nigh. (Nigh? What’s nigh? Nuttin’. What’s nigh with you? Just kidding)
Nigh (near in space, time, or relation: The time draws nigh. – Thank you Mr. Merriam Webster).
What’s the fuss? I’ll tell you; we have 7 days until we sail.
I’d like to say I’m calm, but of course, I’m not. I am unable to begin to pile things which I’m taking, onto the dining room table, as Rocky, my pride and joy, the love of my loins, will piss on them in protest of our impending trip. He’s proved that in the past. So I emptied one dresser drawer in my bureau, and as I think of things I don’t want to forget, I tuck them in there. So I suppose, even with 7 days left, I’m packing. This is not an easy task for me. Even though I realize that my days as a contestant in the Miss New Jersey pageant are long behind me, I still feel the need to look my best in front of the world. It’s true. This old bag of gay bones still has a vanity streak that won’t let go. I’ll never be one of those old men in the blue plaid shirt and the beige seersucker striped Bermuda shorts with black socks and sandals walking the buffet line on the ship. (Please, somebody, throw me overboard.) As a result, I need smart outfits, dressy shirts, glittery brooches and scarves. So packing is an issue. But I’ve begun. I’ll keep you posted as to when, exactly the suit cases (four cases plus the rolling laptop, plus the man-bag over my shoulder plus the garment bag) become too much.
Wish me luck. Once aboard, the journey blog begins. My first was “Adrift…… The second was “Cruising in style…..”, the next, “Queen of the High Seas“. They’re in the archives of this blog, if you missed them. Any suggestions as to what I should call this one? Toying with “Travels of a Caribbean Queen“, but I’m open to suggestions.
We’re off to the sun, on the Sun…..
I am an ecological wonder. Husband too. Perhaps even moreso than I. (He won’t crumble up a scrap of aluminum foil and toss it. We have to re-cycle it. And I’m down with that).
So what’s my issue tonight?
Sit. Let’s discuss.
I order things online. Okay, a LOT! Husband is constantly berating me, but they’re tiny things. A watch battery. A bathmat. A case for my tablet. Rarely does anything cost more than a couple of bucks. But there are orders being delivered here, regularly. I’m on a first-name-basis with my UPS guy; Giorgio. My motto? Deal with it.
So, back to the story. We bought a new range. The old one was only eight-years-old. It’s a long story, for another night. But we needed a new oven liner to help keep it clean. (Hey, those of you who question this, I do not want to see the bottom of your oven). So I ordered one from Amazon.
Side note; I am an Amazon Prime member. For $79 per year, I get free, two-day shipping on most items and their entire online prime video library is included. When you shop as I do, you need this subscription.
I ordered this oven liner. It cost seven dollars, it’s silicone, it’s black, it lines the bottom of your oven, and it’s non-stick washable in the sink. Any questions? I thought not. And it comes with two-day delivery.
Where am I going with this?
It arrived today, (two days after I ordered, as promised), and I want to show you how Amazon packaged this item. (Remember, we’re big on the environment). The first picture is the box upon arrival.
This next, is the box being opened with a picture of the packing inside the box. (Notice the size of the box).
Finally, the contents of the box.
I’m not sure, but if you listen carefully, I think you can hear the trees screaming.
Why, in the name of corrugated cardboard, would you need a box that size for an item the size of a roll of Reynolds Wrap? Beats the shit out of me. Now, multiply that by approx. 300,000 items a day (google reporting Amazon sales), and you can visualize the forests shrinking.
I’m going to complain to Amazon about the waste, but I’m going to do it in a very nice way.
After all, I wouldn’t want them to slow down my deliveries, would I?
As I’ve mentioned before, we’re cruising in mid-December for almost two weeks. By all accounts it’s still mid-November and too early for Christmas decorations, (unless you’re Macy’s…..and I don’t mean to malign Macy’s. They’ve got to make a buck or two, somehow, and now’s their chance. Halloween’s over. Move on.) But the rest of us usually wait for the Thankgiving-ish season to put up the stuff; the tree, the trimmings, the wreaths, etc. But knowing we’ll be cruising for two weeks in the middle of it all, poses a dilemma; should we wait until late December to put it up and enjoy it until, say, January 15th? Or put it up early and have three weeks before the cruise, and a couple more after, to savor the fruits of our labor. After all, putting up all that crap…..ahem….I mean the Christmas ornamental accoutrement, is no easy feat. Guess which option we chose?
Sit. Let’s discuss.
This year, in particular, Thanksgiving coincides with Hanukkah. Same night. Turkey and latkes. Candied yams and dreidl. (If you don’t know what a dreidl is, go find a goyishe blog. Oy. Just sayin’.) So, go figure. That pesky Gregorian calendar and of course the oh-so-accurate Jewish tally are in tandem this go-round. As such, we’ve modified our greetings of the season. New expression; Gobble Tov. Don’t ya love it? How’s this one? Happy Thanksgivikkah! Oy, I’m plotzing. Anyway, back to the whole Christmas thing.
So husband and I started yesterday to get festive. For me, that could be, putting up the menorah with the candles ready to go, and perhaps the electric menorah in the front window (wrong, on so many levels…..oy). For husband, the season involves a Christmas tree (spoiler alert, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A HANUKKAH BUSH! That’s just something that the reformed Jews made up to make the rest of us not jealous about how fabulous and gay the Christmas tree is. And by gay, I don’t mean homosexual…..get your mind out of the gutter. It’s a gay season. Don we now our gay apparel (whatever that means. I don’t think it means that queens are shopping at Barney’s and looking fabulous. Really, I don’t. (although it’s a thought).
Anyway, back on point. We put up our tree today.
As we decorated and dragged out all the Christmas paraphernalia, I tossed a holiday bear onto the sofa. Someone found a best friend. My sweet boy.
We didn’t put up a tree for several years, after the 18-year old cats died and the new adopted kittens came to live with us. They wouldn’t allow it. (Actually, they don’t get to vote, but in contrast to “if you build it, they will come“, we had “if you put it up, we will trash it“. So we kind of cooled it for a few years. The children are grown now (see photo) so we put up a tree, (which I personally believe would rival Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center tree, but then, what does the Jewish kid from New Jersey know? Husband, on the other hand, who mostly did the work, is a card-carrying goy with a history of Christmas, and a gay card from Neiman-Marcus. People, stand back.
So her we are putting it up in stages. (Remember, it’s HUGE).
It might have stopped there, but no. We’re nothing if not over-the-top queens. Is ten feet high enough? I knew we bought this house for a reason. Take a look.
And of course, what’s a tree without presents underneath? I haven’t shopped yet, but today I found the present I love most. Sitting right there. (I’m begging him not to fuck around with the ornaments). So far, so good.
Click on the picture for a closer look at my big boy.
So, now that you’ve seen my tree, I wish you all good luck with your decorations (Or should I use my grandmother’s word, shmataleya).
I showed you mine. Ahem. You show me yours.
I’m not sure where the term “Mojo” comes from.
Oh, I know it has to do with Creole culture and music, and blacks and their musical blues, (did you like that? blacks and blues? I did.) And being a white, Jewish northern boy, I never considered myself particularly mojo gifted. But as my writing career has blossomed, I find myself blessed (or should I say “afflicted” ) with this particular gift. The reason for this blog offering is to inform you that my mojo seems to be on vacation.
I haven’t been writing of late. I’ve got the new book in progress, volume two of the Jason Trilogy…(Can I say that without being sued? There was, after all Robert Ludlum’s Bourne Trilogy which was about a character named Jason, so am I allowed, if I use only the first name? My Jason’s name is Marks so it seems okay. I’ll let you know if i get a “cease and desist” from Ludlum). Volume two is a “slow-go” as they say. And I’ve been dieting, so that extra glass of wine at night in my study which always accompanied me throughout my lamentations is being foregone. (That’s just fancy talk for I’ve cut back on my drinking in a desperate attempt to lose a few pounds before the holiday season, thereby going to bed early and not writing. Alas.)
So there’s that, keeping me from my blog writing. I know my adoring public is clamoring, but my muse, a/k/a Miss Mojo seems to have hit the vacation circuit ahead of me and I sit and stare at my keyboard bereft of things to say. (Well, except of course for this one, which methinks is flowing pretty well.) In any event, your’s truly‘s vacation starts in just about a month. You’ll never guess what husband and I have planned.
I’m kidding. You all guessed, I know you did.
This is an 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise that begins in Miami and takes us to exotic ports including South America (Cartagena, Colombia). I’ve been contemplating excursions and there’s this one that looks nice; it’s a cocaine factory tour. The price of the excursion is cheap enough but I hear the last part, in the gift shop, can get very pricey. And then there’s the whole how do I get this home?, part.
Anyway, the point of this rant is, I’m taking the laptop with me for the eleven days, (five of which are at sea….up a lazy river, as it were), so I”ll have plenty of time to write both this blog and of course, volume two of the Great American Novel.
So look for a chronicle of my journey coming your way soon.
I won’t say Bon Voyage just yet. That’s a phrase best used on the bow of a ship with a cocktail in your hand, while pulling out of the Port of Miami. Wouldn’t you agree?
No, not Christmas. Too soon for that. (Well, not for Macy’s. The decorations are up already). The season to which I refer is the new TV season. I’ve been watching some new shows, (as well as my old regulars) and I have a few comments. The good, the bad, the very bad.
Welcome to the Family.
Horrible. Just plain old horrible. Two different types of families drawn together by a knocked-up girl from one and the charm-free son of the other. No laughs, no redeeming features. I’d say poison but I”m saving that expression for later.
Back in the Game.
Boring. Not funny. Rude fart jokes. Even James Caan can’t save this mess.
A supposedly Jewish family that sits around and screams at the top of their lungs. And what they scream is not funny. Oy. What a waste of George Segal. To coin a Jewish expression, it’s Dreck.
More like Duds. I like Peter Riegert and Martin Mull. Well, I did until now. Okay now, poison.
Sean Saves the World.
Sean Hayes is an enormous talent. I didn’t think so on Will & Grace, but since then my respect has magnified enormously. He sings, he dances, he does comedy and Broadway and is a concert-level pianist. His new show has a lot of promise and I enjoyed the pilot. The writers let him play up the gay shtick and he’s very good at it. Linda Lavin as his wise-cracking mother adds a great touch. The problem is, there is a laugh-track, which I personally hate. I know when to laugh. (You’re supposed to laugh when it’s funny. DUH! I don’t need a track to tell me that). So if I can get past that, I might watch a couple more.
Again, some funny stuff, a bravura performance by Anna Faris and great support by Allison Janney, but it’s another with a laugh-track that is just too annoying. The writing is pretty decent. I’ll try another, but no promises.
A kind of rip-off on Revenge, (which Husband and I like). It’s steamy, sexy and there’s a warning before each episode that it’s adult material. I suppose murder, cover-ups, mob-activity, blackmail, extortion and adultery would qualify as such. I just don’t know if the thin plotline will hold up over many episodes. But so far, me likey.
Okay, here’s the thing. There’s Will Arnett, (late of a cancelled series, but the world likes him…and so do I, so they gave him another series, and he’s not bad), Jemma Mays (late of Glee, Ms. Pillsbury, the OCD teacher), and she has moments, and Beau Bridges replete with borderline humorous dementia (if that’s politically correct, which in this case I say is, because he’s funny). So it’s kind of good until….enter Margo Martindale. I don’t know her, but apparently she’s a veteran, and she’s just gold. Magic. Fart jokes are tired until she rips them. (Get it? Rips them?) Old age sex jokes are tired until we get a load of her horny old broad. She’s just sitcom genius, and I have to stay with this one for a while. What’s the MacDonald’s expression? I’m lovin’ it.
Ah, James Spader in a Hannibal Lecter-esque standout performance as a cool “mobster-who-comes-in-from-the-cold” to feed information to the Feds. He has so much style and panache that it’s a joy to watch him work. He’s a class act. This show will be a hit.
Andy Samburg is on fire! This show is the most outrageous comedy in a very long time. He’s got a great supporting cast including Andre Braugher but it’s mostly him carrying it. He’s just plain funny. All those years on SNL have paid off in spades. The writing is snarky, clever and most important, funny. It’s a pleasure to observe his nutty antics. Catch this one.
The Crazy Ones.
He’s baaaack! I, for one, wondered if Robin Williams could really reign himself in and do a sitcom and not de-volve back into Mork. Well it turns out, he can’t. He’s just as nuts, just as clever and zanier than ever. Couple that with most excellent writing and it’s a runaway hit show. Sarah Michelle Geller is a great foil as his daughter and she gets a little (not much) crazy for herself. Kindof like the sane yang to his off-the-wall yin. They own an advertising agency in Chicago. Newcomer James Wolk plays an ad exec who works for them. He is late of Political Animals, where he portrayed the handsome elder son of Sigourney Weaver’s character. He was very good in that. Real acting chops and easy on the eyes. In this show he gets to be partner-in-crime to the ever-crazy Robin, and the writers/directors give them some liberty to ad-lib a bit, and those moments are what great television is all about. I found myself laughing hysterically a few times at the antics of the two of them. You must catch the first few episodes to see what I mean. When they’re trying to sell Kelly Clarkson a jingle, you’ll just plotz. I’m hooked, big time.
New Girl and Modern Family.
My old friends are back and time is being very kind to them. I still enjoy both shows and consider them to be the creme de la creme of television. Modern Family is consistently well-written and directed, giving the actors free-run to be terrific. (Am I the only one to notice that the two gay characters are named Cameron and Mitchell? Get it? Cameron Mitchell, the actor from the westerns of the 40’s/50’s? And the daughters are Alex and Haley? Note: Alex Haley wrote Roots. Really? Am I the only one who got that? I don’t think it’s relevant to the series, but I did notice it).
New Girl is also an amazing show, and there’s the added element of some ad-libbing on the part of the four principals that adds a lot of laughs. I adore Zooey Dechanel, and Max Greenberg (Schmidt) should be winning Emmys.
So there you have it. Some of the stuff I’m watching.
What’s on your must see TV list?
I”ve written in the past about the things in my world that baffle me; the popularity of Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj’s choice of hair color, daily cialis, America’s love affair with Starbucks and the like. Yet, there are so many such items that it bears another look. Maybe I should have titled this piece: Can someone please explain to me?…..
Sit, let’s discuss. And while I’m on the subject:
I’ve heard that Starbucks is finally going to open stores in Colombia, South America. (I’ve worried for years about how the Colombian people survived without this). On the surface it sounds like just another expansion of a giant corporation into a new market. But think about this one. Didn’t it all begin in Colombia? I mean, isn’t that where God planted the original coffee beans, before entrepreneurial spirit decided that they should plant them in Ethiopia or Jamaica (on a blue mountain), or in Hawaii under the fertile soil of the volcanic ash of Kona, or even Malaysia, which produces the world’s most expensive coffee. (Hold your nose and read this):Kopi Luwak the most expensive coffee in the world does exist, and those who drink the expensive coffee insist that it is made from coffee beans eaten, partly digested and then excreted by the Common palm civet, a weasel-like animal.
So this rat-like creaure craps the beans out and we brew it and drink it. Can I get a collective EWWWWWWW!!!!
But back to Starbucks.
So we go round-robin, back to Colombia where they buy the beans, ship them to Seattle to roast them and package them, and then ship them back to Colombia for the locals to pay $4.50 for a venti-grande, half-caf, soy-latte with half-sugar and half-splenda, in a paper cup with a cardboard ring around the middle, the very purchase of which is paid for out of the 50 pesos an hour that they’re paid to pick the very same beans. Is that about it?
I don’t get it.
2) Indian Dowry. I didn’t know this until recently but apparently there is still, in India, the custom of dowries. That is, the payment of monies by the father of a girl to a man, in exchange for which that same man agrees to marry her. We used to do that in a lot of countries. I think my grandmother got married that way, long ago in a shtetl in Russia. How else could she possibly have gotten stuck with my grandfather? But the practice has fallen out of favor in most civilized societies. However, it’s still done in India. The bride will come in ceremonial wedding garb, bedecked with jewels carrying a pile of cash.
I don’t have a particular problem with that, until you read further that the murder rate of brides is astronomical. And it’s due to the fact that the dowry was insufficient; that is to say, not enough money. Roughly 8,000 women a year are killed in such dowry-related deaths and only about 1/3 of the men committing the murders are prosecuted. The rest go scot-free. Hmmmm.
So here are my thoughts:a) Do the murderers get to keep the money? Because I’m thinking you could make a pretty good living getting engaged and then offing the potential spouse and keeping it. A serial marrier like Newt Gingrich could make a killing. Literally. b) What ever happened to “just say no”? I mean, couldn’t the potential husband, rather than murder her, simply tell the father that it’s not enough and he doesn’t want his homely daughter? (I’m assuming she’s homely because they wouldn’t be killing the hot women with the big knockers, now, would they?) Take a look: Okay, here’s a pretty one: See, nobody is going to kill her, even if she’s poor. Just sayin’. c) Why wouldn’t the fathers exact revenge? I’m thinking if you took my daughter, killed her, and then took my money, there’d be hell to pay. Wouldn’t you agree?
I could go on, but I think you see my point. This is a strange custom. I don’t get it.
Okay, one more for tonight.
3) Expensive watches. I don’t wear a watch anymore. I carry a cell-phone which has a digital (or analog) clock on its face telling me the time whenever I need it. A watch, to me, is redundant. But I know for some it’s a status thing and there are some amazing timepieces out there. And guys wear them to flaunt the fact that they’re successful. (Well, that they have money, anyway. Success is measured in many ways. You can have a pile of money and your life could still be an abysmal mess; (ask the Kardshians; another thing I don’t get.)) But here’s my problem with the expensive watches: I look at the ads in magazines and see this:
Why, for the love of capitalism, would I be interested in what the inside of the watch looks like? Aren’t I just going to show my friends the face with the brand-name on it and piss them off? Or wear it to the charity ball with my tuxedo and constantly check the time until people notice it? Who gives a rat’s ass what the inside looks like? I don’t even pop the hood when I buy a car anymore. I have no idea what’s under there. I leave that to Consumer Reports. If the inside of the car is nice, and it’s a color I like, count me in. So why does Breguet insist on showing us that? Has their crack marketing team determined that if Donald Trump could only see the inside of a Grande Complication Tourbillion 5317 that he’ll fork over $100,800? Crack, indeed. You’d have to be on crack to pay that much for a watch when your Iphone 5 will tell you, out loud, for free!!! The very idea. Which brings me back to,
I don’t get it.
There will be more of these. The older I get, the less I understand about the human condition. You’d think it would get easier.
I”ve got to go. The cat just came out of the litter box and I have to get in there and remove the coffee beans for tomorrow morning.
Is it my imagination, or has Russia become a little cantankerous lately. Their fearless leader has made a few decisions that don’t seem to be sitting well with either our President or the world in general. I thought I might like to fly over there and look him in the eye and have a “Come to Jesus” moment. This is the conversation I’d most likely have with him. My first words would probably be: “Sit. Let’s discuss’.
So, Mr. President, how are you?
I’m vell, tenk you. And please, call me Vlad.
Okay, Vlad. A very auspicious Russian name. There was Vlad the Impaler, who, in the 15th century brutally murdered over 15,000 of his enemies, and upon whom the legend of the bloodsucking Dracula is based. And of course there was Vlad Lenin, the Marxist revolutionary, who, as head of the Bolsheviks, overturned governments and ruled his party with an iron fist. So which one do you feel more in touch with? The monster from Romania or the oppressor from your own homeland?
My dear David. Vat’s in a name? Perhaps, call me “Putie”.
Okay, Putie, moving on. It seems you granted Edward Snowden asylum in your country, knowing full well that the U.S. considers him to be a traitor and he’s a wanted man. He means nothing to you. Your economy is tanking and you can use all the help you can get. Why would you risk damaging relations with our President by doing that?
Vell, ve don’t like to take orders from anybody, so I felt it vas my choice to make. Besides, I kind of appreciated that he told us all of your spying secrets.
Yeah, I figured you might. Okay, how about the crackdown on gays. You’re really going to arrest people who are openly gay or even in support of gay rights?
Da, dat’s correct. In our country, we don’t have the gays. And we don’t need the gays to come here.
That’s curious. According to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, there are none in Iran either. I wonder why that is?
Beats me, but I know for fact, dere are none here. Russians kent be gay.
No, he vasn’t.
He most certainly was. Not only that, he wrote the world’s finest ballets and who do you think is dancing them? Gays.
No, the ballet dencers in our country are not gay.
Den ve vill arrest dem.
Then who will dance at the Bolshoi? You think you’re going to find straight male Russians that will put on tights, completely showing their “package” to the world, as they lift the prima ballerina. The straight guys are sitting in taverns, doing Stoli shots, trying to escape their miserable, persecuted lives under your totalitarian rule. So who will dance? Do these guys look like their ready for tights?
I’ll vorry about de dancers later.
Let me ask you a question; What would you do if, say, during the Parade of Nations at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, hundreds of athletes pulled out a rainbow scarf, or hanky, or small gay flag as they marched, in support of their gay brothers and sisters in sports? You couldn’t arrest them all while the world was watching, could you? How would that look?
Vell, you make good point. I kent do dis. I vill heff to look other vay.
So if you can look other vay, I mean, the other way, why not just lift the ban?
Okay, I’ll tink about dat.
And will you think about returning Snowden to the U.S. for trial?
Da. I’ll tink about dis too.
Thanks, Putie. I know you’re a bit of an athlete yourself. You’d best keep your shirt on if you want the gay boys to leave you alone.
Really? You tink I hef such good body that gays vould like? I mean, if ve hed gays here.
I most certainly do.
Vell, I’ll take det as a compliment.
See, I think in the long run, if you just sit down and talk to people, man to man, sometimes you can get them to see the light.
What do you think?
I don’t often do restaurant reviews. Not my style. I leave that to the Craig Claibornes of the world (you know him; the legendary pre-eminent food critic of the NY Times for what seemed like a century?) with their refined palates and gastronomic expertise. However, sometimes, after certain types of experiences, one really must open one’s mouth and say something, lest the offending parties get away with culinary murder. So, with your indulgence, I have a story.
Husband and I often dine out on Monday nights, as there’s a rash of restaurants that have “deals” to perk up a sleepy night-of-the-week; 1/2 priced specials, reduced-price items, $5 burgers, and my favorite, anything on the menu for $12.99 (I always order the $20 slab of ribs). One such establishment has a special called “Guys night”, where the entire place turns inexplicably gay, (are there no straight guys that like a bargain?). They boast $6 Grey Goose Martinis and two-for-one entrees, (from a list of a select few). Well, bless my frugal soul, count me in on that deal. So, with another couple in tow, off we went. We’d heard from friends that it was lovely, and very good food. I’ll not name names, as I don’t want to be sued, but many of you will know the place about which I speak.
All I can say here is: Sit. Let’s discuss.
Escorted to a window table in a nice corner, we sat, met our GORGEOUS waiter, (I began to understand why it turns gay), and one of us ordered a Cosmo. It was indeed Grey Goose and $6, was nicely chilled, properly mixed and I thought, we’re onto something here. Did I mention the waiter was GORGEOUS? Well, he was.
We ordered. The other couple’s fried calamari arrived, soft, cold and greasy. Husband and I split the house salad consisting of dead greens, which were over-dressed. Not a slice of tomato, cucumber, nada. Just baby greens that had wilted and should have been tossed. I began to dread the entree.
There was one special that was the Catch-of-the-day, which was Shepherd’s Pie. WTF? Turns out it was a mixture of (very little) lobster, tiny bay scallops and minuscule shrimp covered with mashed potatoes. I wanted to ask the shepherd how he felt about that, the dish usually being a meat kind of thing, but he was unavailable for comment. Husband ordered it, optimistically. I ordered a Chicken Caprese, (sliced tomatoes and mozzarella cheese), and the others were a Pasta Primavera and Lasagna. Review:
1) Lasagna- It was two flat noodles with a layer of meat sauce and cheese in between. I’d give my life if I could be that thin. $28.
2) Pasta Primavera-Cold and dry with bits of chicken. It was sent back, microwaved, and returned later as hot and dry with bits of chicken. $28
3) Chicken caprese-Large pounded breast meat layered with melted cheese and sliced tomatoes. The chicken was cooked to death. $28
4) Sherpherd’s pie-Tiny round serving with the above-mentioned filling. Basic, basic, basic. I think there are Mrs. Smith’s pot pies in your grocer’s freezer better than this was. $32
As we ate, the restaurant filled with old, gay men, who took turns ogling and touching the waiter. (Did I mention he was GORGEOUS), and he allowed them, knowing that he wasn’t going to make a fortune on the quality of the food. Might as well give the geezers a thrill. Maybe they won’t notice that the salad greens got to the graveyard before they did.
We had asked GORGEOUS for separate checks, one for each couple. No problem.
Our bill came and it was essentially, one salad and one entree (the second having been free). No drinks on ours. The tip is put on at 18% before the deduction of the second entree (fair enough). So with the tax and tip, one salad and one entree……….$53.00 (for mediocre food- I’m being kind, here, I might have said horrible.) I can only say it was a very far cry from the $5 burger from the week before. Lesson learned; stay away from restaurants that only turn gay one night a week because the waiter is GORGEOUS.
And deep down, I’m a burger and rib guy anyway. What would Craig Claiborne say about that?
Are you ready? Get this. And I promise you’re going to love this story.
It all started when my trusty vacuum device (different from the big VACUUM CLEANER), but rather the little canister guy….the Bissell Zing, (catchy, no?), had a problem. I should tell you, Husband uses it a lot. It’s practically a disorder. We have 2 cats and a dog, so there are a LOT of “tumbleweeds”, a/k/a “cat hair clumps”) rolling around the floor, on a daily basis due to ceiling fan activity. That’s the price you pay for animals. I’m okay with them (although I will admit that every so often, while eating my morning cereal, the corner of my eye espies a rolling ball of black hair rustling across the kitchen floor, and I duly scream, thinking it’s a rat. (even though we’ve never seen a rat in 16 years. What is the matter with me?)
So he vacuums a lot.
Recently, he pulled the hose, (sounds dirty when you say it that way, doesn’t it?) and the canister crossed a simple room threshold and the wheel just broke. Went all to pieces, with the rubber gasket hanging and the wheel in two pieces. Quel domage. and perhaps Quel damage. But you know what that gets me? Say it with me…..
“Baby, the vacuum broke!”
Now, suddenly, it’s my problem. Oh well. (And gay marriage is legal in so many states. What’s mine is yours, etc.)……Alas.
So of course, cheap me, (I know I”m Jewish, but I think some of my ancestors must have been Scots, because in all honesty, they’re cheaper than we are, but I digress), I go online to look for parts. I’ll be damned if I’ll buy another new vacuum device just because of a flat!
Well, an hour later, I realize Bissell doesn’t sell parts, but has, rather, “repair centers”, and I’m still under warrantee, so I call them and they instruct me to take it to an authorized repair shop. As fate would have it, there’s one right down the street from me.
So off we go, Husband and I, vacuum in hand, to “Fred’s repair shop”. (Okay, not the real name. I don’t want to get sued).
Have you ever been to an appliance repair shop? My god…..it’s like a museum. Machines, parts, hoses, motors, wheels, gears, and on and on. It’s like an appliance graveyard. I saw an old Okidata dot matrix printer that I used to have and I wept. I hadn’t seen it in 20 years. The place made me think of Steven King and that whole “Maximum Overdrive” thing he did. Scary. Just scary.
So these two bubbas, Merv, (real name, I swear), and Earl, (I know, it sounds like a sitcom), looked Husband and me up and down, and decided, in Fort Lauderdale, land of the fairies, that they don’t really care that we’re a gay couple, but only that we have a dead appliance. (Which I have to add here is NOT DEAD. Works perfectly fine. It sucks. And I mean that in the best of all possible ways. It just has a flat. Still sucks pretty good.)
Merv calls Bissel, they discuss, he gets off the phone, turns to me and says, “leave this one here, they’re sending a new one”.
I need a $2 wheel. No biggie. But no, Bissell doesn’t make the wheel anymore, so it’s easier to send a whole new vacuum cleaner than it is to replace the broken wheel. “Fine”, I say. Then Merv adds, “ya gotta leave this one here. When they send the new one, we’ll call you.”
Well, not expecting a whole new appliance, I say “fine.” “It’ll be here in about a week,” says Earl. “We’ll call you.”
And off we went.
I’m happy. New one on the way. My only problem is that rat rolling by in the corner of the kitchen. Oh wait……
By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard about this whole Paula Deen brouhaha (n. A noisy and overexcited critical response, display of interest, or trail of publicity). Shocking, isn’t it?
I’m nothing if not an opinionated bastard, so let me see if I can understand this scandal that has literally torn her empire asunder and left her shamed, humiliated and poor. (well, poorer than she was).
A former employee, Lisa Jackson, obviously disgruntled, brought a suit against her, alleging on-the-job-harassment of minorities and failure to stop the showing of pornography on the workplace computers (ostensibly being watched by her sons). Jackson, a former manager of one of Deen’s restaurants, claimed minorities were treated disrespectfully, so she (a white woman, I might add) brought the suit. It should be noted that she worked for Deen for a long time, at a restaurant called Uncle Bubba’s, in Savannah, GA, where, as manager, she must have held some sway over employees and most likely could have curtailed certain behaviors. If she was completely powerless, she always had the option to move on. But she stayed for years, and she’s suddenly offended by discrimination. At Uncle Bubba’s? In the Deep South. Really?
Anyway, Paula Deen apparently thought it frivolous and decided to fight it. One deposition later, under oath, we find Ms. Deen confessing to using the N-word, thirty years ago. What a shock! Clutch the pearls! This 67-year old southern woman, whose great-granddaddy owned slaves, used the N-word somewhere along the line. Let me say here, that it’s completely unacceptable to be an avowed racist in these modern times, I get that. And if she used the word as many times as say, Li’l Wayne does in the lyrics of just one song, Id be offended. (The argument that Li’l Wayne is black won’t work. He isn’t having a conversation with other blacks, where for some inexplicable reason it’s allowed, but rather composing “music” which airs on radio stations for all to hear (and with no apologies). Ms. Deen, at least, claims to be sorry. I’m thinking if every person who ever used a racial epithet during the course of their lives, lost their jobs, their respect, and the major thrust of their lives, we’d be at close to 100% unemployment.
Deep down, I think we’re all at least a little racist. (Okay, take away my TV show, but here it comes). If any of you out there can tell me honestly, for instance, that when you call a company for customer service or technical support, and the phone rings and a person with a thick accent comes on the line, that you’re not disappointed that it’s not an “American”, I’ll be very surprised. You know you’d rather be speaking to a person without the accent because you think it will be easier, even though Ray, from Manila, is fully competent to help you.
How about in a restaurant? Given the choice, do you want the handsome, college-type blond waiter or the tall black youth with the dreadlocks? Either of them can bring you food, but if you search your soul, most of you have a preference. There are countless other examples, but I’ll let those suffice.
But you wouldn’t consider yourself to be a racist.
Okay, now that we’ve hopefully established that, back to Deen. I, for one, honestly believe she’s not a racist, but rather just a good-ole southern boy, who happens to be a woman. We seem to take this stuff easier when it’s a man; (look at Alec Baldwin that same week, spouting off about a “toxic little queen”. Did they fire him from his Broadway show? No, they did not). That’s just who Paula is. She’s not a college professor teaching ethics, or history, or even English, but rather a down-home country cook who made it big for how outrageous her dishes are, health-wise. Those who watch her show, never intended to make the bacon-wrapped, deep-fried, macaroni and cheese squares because we know it’s a heart attack on a plate. (I should add that I, for one, would like one little bite…..just to taste it).
The whole “diabetes lie” is irrelevant as well. None of our business. She had another lucrative contract, this time with a pharmaceutical company and failed to tell us about her condition. So what? If you were a fan, you laughed along with the recipes. If you weren’t, then you didn’t watch her show, so what difference does it make what she cooks? Is it any worse than good old fast food at McDonalds or KFC, or even the Bloomin’ onion at Outback?
When Mel Gibson did his “Jew” rant, I didn’t demand that he be banned from making movies, I simply stopped spending my money on them, or watching them on TV. So why do we need to cancel Paula’s show and endorsements? If people are pissed, then they’ll stop watching or buying and THEN the sponsors are justified in cutting her loose. No, for me it was just too quick to judgement.
I just don’t understand the frenzy to destroy her. Why isn’t it enough to just tune her out like we did Mel, or Michael Richards, or Tracy Morgan?
I didn’t watch her show. The most exposure I ever had was perhaps a “Good Morning America” cooking segment in Times Square. I was amused. That’s the extent of my involvement.
My point in all of this is, can we not be so quick to judgement as to forget our own foibles and weaknesses? Remember that whole “cast the first stone” thing?
And for the record, the next time she cooks Fried Butter Balls, or Peanut Butter Cheese Fudge, or Krispy Kreme bread pudding, do me a favor…..save me one little bite.
I know you know what the title means; too much information.
Tonight’s discussion is of a delicate nature on the one hand, and a bit of repulsion on the other. You know how there’s an accident on the highway and you can’t look at it? But you also can’t look away? That’ s how I feel about this subject.
I watch some TV. Not a lot. But included is Diane Sawyer’s World News. I’ve written about the commercials in a previous piece, and my outrage at how they push pharmaceutical magic at us for a half-hour each night; Viagra, (Relax, they’re thumbs. Look closely), Cialis, Boniva, Spiriva and the rest. I didn’t know I had restless leg syndrome until they told me. I just thought I had an itch; and I scratched it. Oh, dopey me. But, I get it. We’re a drug addicted nation.
But lately there’s been a rash (good word here) of ads for products not only about which I don’t care to know, but I don’t even want to know that the problems they solve exist at all.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
Can we start with women with incontinence? Okay, in English, they piss their pants. Sometimes when they laugh, when you hug them, when they run for a cab, when they bend over to put on a shoe, etc. Just a bunch of pissy women, and I mean that in a medical way. So the ads hawk Depends, and they pour blue liquid into them and show us how they don’t drip. Why is the liquid blue? Has the woman been eating blue raspberry ices? Did she O.D. on blueberries? We all know pee is yellow, but somehow that’s too disgusting to show on TV, but discussing leaky women is not? Or those Tena pads where they pour clear liquid onto a pad resembling a hammock and then twist it to show how it holds pee (or blood?) Then the skinny white girl and the black woman with the big butt are shown doing the “Tena twist“, again, I suppose to show us dry pants. Hmmm. First, why is it that the black woman has the big butt? Why can’t it be a white woman with a big butt? There are plenty, believe me. And a black woman that looks like Halle Berre. Mad Men indeed! Second, did it not occur to them, that those of us who don’t leak really don’t need to know about this? At least not yet, anyway.
And it’s not just women.
Men too, are into it now. There are Depends for men who, I suppose, leak. (Guards, they’re called). There is an obnoxious ad these days starring Tony Siragusa former football guy, I guess, (read, 340 pound, macho asshole), boasting proudly as another guy is hanging a moose head in his bathroom, that he taught him how to be a man. (All the while hawking these Guards for his underpants for men with “dribble weenie”.) The very idea. Like I’m going to take advice about what’s in my underpants from a guy who eats like he does. If i ate like him, I’d probably shit my pants. Which brainiac on Madison Avenue dreamed up that one?
Side story here. I personally have pissed my pants a couple of times in my life. There. I admit it. But those times occur when I’m deathly ill with a fever and am delirious, and my pajamas are so wet from sweat that you can’t even tell, (except for the blue stain), or, of course, when I’ve been shit-faced drunk, (and panty shields won’t help you there. There’s gonna be puke on your shirt anyway). I’m thinking when a man pisses himself he’d better have a good reason. If he doesn’t, I think it’s time to shatter the glass ceiling. Because, truthfully, I think, of the few things that men get to lord over women about superiority, demanding better perks, better pay, etc, is our ability to hold water better than women. And when that ceases to be the case, then I think we’re all exactly equal. Just a bunch of leaky wimps, and we need to end the battle of the sexes and yield.
Next up, (hold your penises, men), is a product called Comfort Catheters. (Wow, talk about an oxymoron). Now, I think I know what a catheter is for, at least when I’ve been hospitalized, but are there really people who need to shop the internet for catheters to find the best price to buy them in quantity? What in God’s name for? Never mind. I honestly don’t want to know. It’s not right to ask me to sit through that 30 second spot, cringing in my chair. My penis hurts just thinking about it. Clutch the pearls (among other things).
No, if I ruled the world, Diane would have her half-hour of news, and I’d be all caught up with the world, and the leaky, drippy people with blue urine, and the catheter-set would receive plain brown paper mailings with inserts.
l wasn’t going to write about this, but then I read a piece by a friendly rival blogger, which was about a couch, and it was a lovely piece and it got me to thinking.
Here’s a question for all of you. How many new couches have you had?
It seems, as I talk to people, that many of us have had “hand me down” couches. (“It was your Aunt Seal’s. It cost good money, and there’s still plenty of use for it. She’s dead. She’d want you to have it”). Or, you’re young, and furnishing your first apartment on your own, (with or without roommates), and there’s a couch at the Goodwill or the Salvation Army or the Douglas Gardens Hebrew Home outlet store, that’s cheap,(we’re talking student-budget cheap) and not too horrible and mostly, it’s something to sit on whilst you smoke a doobie, or watch The Voice or Glee or Smash or whatever. So you live, for however long, with the floral print, or the slightly stained grey twill, or the leather puffy thing that went out of style in the ’60s.
The question is: When is it time for you to have your own couch, brand new, the one you really like…..in your home?
I don’t have an answer. I’d like to hear yours. But here’s a story about my mother’s famous couch.
My mother, when we moved into the first house we ever owned, splurged, (back in the early sixties), and bought a plum-purple, Mediterranean-style sofa, that was either Damask or silk, (I’m not sure, I was still only a budding homo and hadn’t mastered fabric yet. I was already good at Edward Albee plays, and Barbra Streisand musicals, but fabric would come later). It was expensive. It was also very beautiful. Until you sat on it. It was a corner unit, L-shaped, and there wasn’t a comfortable square inch to be found. Even the dog wouldn’t go on it. To maintain it, she paid big bucks to enshrine it in custom- fitted, plastic slipcovers, which I believe cost more than the actual couch. She spent the majority of her adult life sitting on one end of it, and being the large woman that she was, perched on top of a beach towel, lest she sweat and stick to the thick plastic, while watching Mike Douglas or Phil Donahue and such. She rarely moved, except to eat. (We’ve talked about that in prior pieces; her penchant for for overindulgence of food). When she died, 30 years later, my father remarried, sold the house and moved in with the new wife. They took the couch, and she removed the slipcovers and it was brand new. Pristine. Like the day it arrived. The bitch thought she’d scored big, laughing at my mother for enshrining it and not enjoying it herself, and bequeathing her a brand new, expensive sofa. Until she sat down. Then, I believe I heard, from somewhere in the universe, the sound of my mother laughing.
To this day, I don’t have a couch. We have lots of big comfy chairs.
I’d love to hear your best couch story, please?
No, tonight’s essay is not about quantum physics. (Perish the thought). What would I know about that? Not much, I can assure you.
I want to talk about cruising. (No, not the kind you do on street corners, looking for a hook-up…..(not that there’s anything wrong with that)). I mean the kind for which you get on an actual ship.
Husband and I are great aficionados of the sport, and there’s really very little we love more than to set sail upon the high seas, relax and disappear for a while. The ship gives you a cabin, with fresh linens and towels every day. They clean your bathroom and toilet, daily, and feed you sumptuous meals until you beg for mercy. There are shows and lectures and excursions and movies and napkin folding seminars (I know, it’s stretching it a bit to call the teaching of napkin folds a seminar, but they do). Here are a couple of samples:
Pretty cool, no? See what I mean?
Then there’s the nightly disco for dancing, and on and on. It’s a wonderful experience. But lately, my keen eye tells me that cruise lines have jumped the shark, as they say, with their newfangled ships.
Sit, let’s discuss.
Over the years, I’ve seen ships go from the above-mentioned amenities to the next level; basketball courts, bocci ball on the lawn on the top deck, rock-climbing, (really), ice-skating in the middle of the Caribbean, zip-lining across the ship,and even outdoor movie theaters. But hold the door.
There’s a new ship on the horizon (well, not literally on the horizon; although these ships are very often on the horizon as they sail, but this time I meant it as in “soon to be released”), called the Quantum of the Seas, from Royal Caribbean.
I mean, clutch the pearls, she’s a beauty, no?
Now, I have to interject here, that old Mr. Sciatica doesn’t much go for a lot of the new activities. I was good with food and drink and cute boy dancers in the shows. But this ship has added bumper cars. Really? We want to get on a ship for a cruise getaway and be reminded of traffic jams? Or take out aggression on the guy in the next car? (Exactly which aggression would that be? The creme brulee` was not quite carmelized enough? The turf of the miniature gold course was too tall? The ice sculpture on the buffet didn’t resemble the angel fish closely enough?) Tsk, tsk. All that cruise ship aggression.
There’s also sky-diving. (Not kidding, I swear). It’s simulated, but the wind machine blows straight up and you put on the gear and jump over the fans and free fall as though you’ve jumped out of a plane. (I’m thinking, if you want to jump out of a plane, WTF are you doing on a cruise ship? (though it could be just me.))
And then there’s The 360 Experience. That’s where you climb into a bubble room on the end of a giant robotic arm and it hoists you 300 feet above the sea so you can get a good look at the horizon. WTF? Like you can’t see the horizon from the 15th deck with NOTHING BLOCKING YOUR VIEW!!! Ahem.
Is this Royal Caribbean’s way of trying to tell us that cruising is boring unless you ride bumper cars or sky dive? Well, if that’s the case maybe you shouldn’t cruise. You might be better off jumping out of a plane over Manhattan, skydiving down, hopping into a taxi during rush hour and crashing on Columbus Circle. Some fun, eh?
No, I’m sorry. I don’t get it. I’d like to, but I just don’t. Whatever happened to sitting on a deck chair with a steward bringing you hot bouillon as you cross the North Atlantic? Ah, the old days. I’m thinking none of this is really necessary. The ship could save a lot of money and liability insurance by simply supplying wi-fi for free. That way, guests would never be bored, as they’d be clutching their devices day and night, texting, sexting, and gaming.
But then, you don’t need to get on a cruise ship to do that, do you?
I’ve covered this subject before but it bears another look.
I’m beginning to think mirrors are overrated.
I mean, I have several. There’s a big one in my bathroom over the double sink. I have a set of full-length sliding closet doors that are mirrored so I can see if my cuffs are the right length. And I have an “art” mirror hanging in my home so that just before you leave the house you can glance at yourself to make sure your hair is just right and that there’s no wad of spinach on your front tooth. I take a little pride before I walk out the door. After all, at my age, I’m no prize, but I believe in doing my best, even though there’s only so much you can do…..with what you have.
But do celebrities have mirrors? They’re certainly ego-driven, and want to be seen and noticed. Otherwise they wouldn’t be performers in the public eye. But as i glance around the internet, I find things that are most disturbing.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
It’s clear her show is not G-rated.
Girlfriend, just stop! To tell the truth, even if she were not exposed, that dress ought to be banned in at least 28 states. Just hideous.
Of course, I couldn’t leave out the fabulous Kim Kardashian, could I? I suspect this was a while ago because she’s like 300 pounds now, blaming it all on a pregnancy. Seriously, Kim, your beaver? Really? And speaking of beaver, there’s Kathren Mcphee from Smash. What was she thinking? What happened to “always wear clean underwear in case you get hit by a car?
I don’t mean to be blunt, but she’s showing tit AND twat!
That’s a nice color thong for her. (Although I think we’re not supposed to see the thong, are we?)
It’s not just the women either. It happens to male celebs as well. Here’s Robert Downey Jr. in all his glory.
And I’m not exactly sure who this is getting out of the limo, as I’m not an expert on gangsta rap, but it figures that he’s with that Kardashian woman. (It is Jay Z? or Ray J? or another of those initial people? Wait! Is that the guy she made the sex tape with? That started the whole Kardashian phenom in the first place?) Oh, and btw, that whole “prison” look doesn’t work for him. Especially on the Red Carpet, you moron!
Finally, can someone…..anyone…..explain Nicki Minaj to me? There was that whole “areola” incident on live television last year on Good Morning America, and now this. The first picture is simply WTF? What were you thinking, girl?
Come to think of it, I believe we need a new telethon. One that will raise money to buy celeb-u-tards mirrors!!!
I pledge $50.
You’ve heard of it, no? I should think you have, as there’s one on every corner in America, if not the world. Did you know they give you free Wi-Fi? Seriously, they do. (Well, if you’re anything like me, you believe the old adage that NOTHING is free. But they call it free).
I have a story to tell, and this might be just another case of the cheese stands alone, in that you already know this, but it shocked me.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
Husband and I were in Palm Beach yesterday. (Yes, that Palm Beach, where the rich folks live.) We were having a portrait done of the two of us. It’s a very famous studio and it’s very ritzy, but Aunt, (you know her by now), gave us a gift certificate (that she won in a raffle), for a free portrait valued at $3000. It’s actually a photo, which is then finished in oil paint for the look of a kind of classical painting like Rembrandt or Rubens or that guy that paints the kids with the big eyes. I’ll tell the portrait story another night, but after the shoot, we had to go kill a half-hour before making our choice from several, so we went downstairs in this very expensive mall (150 Worth, in case you’re among the cognoscenti), to have a cup of coffee. Husband loves his Starbucks. I never order from there. I just think it’s a bit overpriced, and the coffee always tastes a little burnt to me, so I’m not a fan. But nonetheless, in we went.
Once inside, I stood behind this woman who had to be wearing a five-thousand dollar outfit: in her Amina Rubinacci suit,her Tamara Comolli scarf and her Manolo Blahnik shoes. The sunglasses alone must have been $500. I think they were DKNY. (I can’t be sure, because truthfully, I only know DKJC…..David Krongelb, Jersey City). But I digress…..Isn’t she fabulous?
Okay, it wasn’t exactly her, but it was someone just like her. You get the idea. She ordered a half-caff, double-shot, venti-soy-cappuccino. Really? I mean, really? Anyway, clutching her Louis Vuitton bag, she paid and moved on. She didn’t tip.
I glanced at the price list and saw a tall latte for husband was $2.75 and a plain decaf coffee for me was $1.95. Okay, even though I could buy a bag of coffee at Publix for $4.70, I figured, we’re on an outing, let’s splurge. So I ordered those two items and asked for soy milk for husband, and mine over ice, as I live in South Florida and don’t drink hot liquids lest I immediately burst into a sweat. Even in the morning, it’s iced-decaf for me.
Now, I will admit that the iced-decaf (he called it their Pike blend), was beyond delicious, but then the handsome Palm Beach barrista said:
That’ll be $7.19. WTF???
Ahem, said I, how so?, as nonchalantly as I could, in my Dick’s Sporting Goods T-shirt, Sportsman’s Paradise shorts and my timeless, classic Rockport walkers. (I’ve lived in South Florida for 36 years but in Palm Beach I look like a tourist).
He offered, It’s $ 2.75 for the latte and .90 extra for soymilk, the decaf is $2.95 because it has to be in a big cup due to the ice, which, by the way, is an extra fifty cents. Plus tax.
Wow, quoth I. And then I muttered under my breath, something like no wonder I don’t come to Starbucks. Two coffees, $7.21. Whew. I paid and walked away. I didn’t tip either. I would have, but I have this mortgage, you know?
Now, as I said at the beginning, maybe you all knew this, but it was an education for me. Turns out, the Wi-Fi ain’t exactly free.
You all know me by now.
The opera guy, the music guy, the movie guy, even the write-a-novel guy. I crossed a line today between the fine arts and real life. I became a more manly man. I performed a task for which I would usually “call a guy” and actually completed it by myself with no more than a suggestion or two from room-mate and of course, the usual cat-calls from husband. It felt good.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
Our dishwasher began to malfunction and there were ominous signs that we were going to need a new one; an expense I didn’t need right now.
As fate would have it, Aunt, (the one that had to face The Board in her old digs before moving out), moved into her new place and brought her deluxe dishwasher with her. It’s a special kind that allows her to keep Kosher by separating the dishes into two drawers. So the one in the new place was up for grabs. It’s a stainless-steel beauty, and not wanting to see a perfectly good dishwasher go to waste, we readily accepted. Now all I needed was “a guy” to install it. Well, it turns out they get $200 for that. Not so fast, Kemosabe. But what’s my alternative?
I set about to find How To Remove and Install A Dishwasher, found four different videos, (each about 10 minutes long) and watched them all. The good news is, that they were all done exactly alike, so I figured that must be the way to go. The night before we were to pick up the new one, I followed the directions and actually got the old one out by myself. It’s pretty simple actually;
1) Unplug it. Duh.
2) Shut the water that feeds it from under the sink. Again, duh.
3) Disconnect the outflow line from the garbage disposal. Not tricky.
4) Push those items through the hole in the cabinet. A little tricky. It’s a small hole.
5) Unscrew the two tiny screws that hold the appliance to the top of the counter so it doesn’t rock. Piece of cake, even for me.
6) Pull out the unit.
Easy. Took all of about 15 minutes.
The part that none of the videos told me about was that after it’s out, you’ll need 20 minutes to scrub the dust bunnies, the spider webs, and the caked-on, greasy, black shmutz off of your tile floor and side cabinets which were covered for all those years. Not for the squeamish, I can tell you.
The new one was to be picked up by yours truly and husband, the next day, so for that night there was just the blank, empty space.
Oh, there’s one more thing they don’t tell you in the videos. And this one, I thought, was pretty important, but I learned it the hard way.
While the hose is off of the disposal, if you fill your sink to soak, and subsequently wash dishes, nothing bad happens; until you drain the sink. At that point, the draining water backs up into the disposal, which of course, is lacking its hose and simply has an open hole in the side, and when the water reaches the height of the hole, it empties onto the base of your cabinet, out the front and all over your floor. I’m thinking they should have told me that part. Then came part 2 of the scrubbing of the floor.
No, I’m kidding. It wasn’t this bad. Just about a pint of water. Anyway…..
The next day we picked up the new one, brought it home and I reversed the steps of the removal. All went like a charm until the final step; screwing the top to the underside of the counter to steady it when you pull it open. Needles to say, the new device did NOT line up with the screw holes from the old device. I mean, seriously, people, what were the odds? So I needed to screw new ones.
Did you know you can’t drill into granite? Well I suppose you can, but good luck with it. The spot you need is so close to the edge you can easily chip off a piece. I’m told that with a drill and a streaming water supply you can do it, but I’m not quite that butch. Luckily I was warned and didn’t make too much of an effort and did no harm. But I was, nonetheless, stuck. What to do? None of this was in the videos. I have it…..call “a guy”.
No, no, not what you think. I have a good friend who’s a retired engineer who lives across the street. I told him my plight and he took one look, and immediately suggested that I take a thin piece of wood, glue it to the underside of the granite and screw into the wood to hold the dishwasher in place. Genius!! Of course, if I’d gone to engineering school instead of music school, I might have thought of that too. But no matter, he did. (I, on the other hand, can name the Bach motets, by their German titles, in the order in which they were composed, but alas, that doesn’t help you install a dishwasher, does it? )
So here I am, after a session with wooden paint stirrers, Gorilla Glue, screws and a drill, reporting to you that THE EAGLE HAS LANDED. It’s a beauty. Take a look at husband showing off our new arrival. He’s the new Betty Furness:
Remember high school, where you had that insecurity that nobody really liked you, and that you weren’t popular and that people would reject you? I think it’s a universal truth. Nobody thinks they were liked in high school, when in fact many of us were. I bring that up only to convey some feelings later in this piece.
As Alfred Hitchcock used to say, now on to tonight’s tale.
Husband has an ex. As in ex-wife. (Yeah, he wasn’t always gay…..imagine that!) He’s also got two kids and two grand-kids. But this story is about the ex. The three of us are all BFF’s. (I swear. She’s a great gal, and comes to visit and stays with us and we get along, I’m guessing, better than Sonny and Cher and Greg Allman ever did.) She’s at that stage in her life where she’s approaching retirement and wants to be near her kids, one of whom lives down here. So we’ve all been searching for a condo for her to spend part of the year here (snow bird) and part up north with the daughter. Good plan. At least we thought it was.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
We found a suitable condo, she flew down, approved it, and flew home. It needs work, so the next several weeks were spent with husband and me planning the remodel, (with the help of an architectural interior designer). Here’s an example of before and after. Not her actual flat, but you get the idea.
It really doesn’t take more than a good eye and few bucks. Seriously.
All was going according to the plan and her closing was set for this past Friday. She set up the wiring of the money, booked her plane ticket, came down for a week to shop and plan and discuss and be excited and look forward to a great future. She had met with the board of directors on her last trip, having put down a deposit, and all that remained was a de facto meeting with The Committee to get approval to move in. You know how those condo commandos operate.
Thursday night, just before the closing on Friday, she and husband went to this perfunctory meeting, and sat and chatted with the committee and she proudly and excitedly told them of her plans to upgrade this modest condo into a showplace and raise everyone’s property value, when suddenly it took a turn. She told them there’d be a “rent-a-dumpster” in her parking space just outside her unit to dispose of everything as she was gutting it.
Suddenly, the committee got weird. Suddenly they wanted her to post a surety bond for $10,000 in case her dumpster damaged the parking lot. She explained that her contractor would have that, being licensed and insured, but they insisted on her personal $10,000 bond. She said no. Then they carried on about load-bearing walls and how you can’t change the inside of the unit, even thought it’s nobody’s goddamn business if you do. Then she wanted to replace the front door with a hurricane door (which many units have done), and they balked at that. What is wrong with these people?
Finally, it ended with the head of the committee issuing an ultimatum. Either you put up the personal bond, or we won’t approve you. (This is 12 hours before the closing). She said no.
The next morning she got an email from the President of the board, stating that she was an undesirable and that they couldn’t possibly approve her moving in with the likes of them. They rejected her, flat out. These eighty-year-old condo commandos, who’ll most likely be dead long before she even parks her car there…..said no dice.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. She should sue the bastards. It was all set to close in twelve hours.. But she got all her money back, and now she has NO desire to live with those assholes, so it turns out to be a happy ending. Imagine finding out that you’re living with those people AFTER you close? Add to that, the following day, glancing at the condos for sale online, she spotted another in the same building for $10,000 less. Now she’s really glad it fell through.
So, unlike high school, in this case she really was rejected, but also unlike high school, this time it felt pretty good.
Yeah, it’s that time again. I had another birthday; the 14th. Not an important one, (unless you consider each one important….as opposed to NOT having one, in which case you’ve died). But it wasn’t a milestone; 40…. 50….60. Even 65. Just your average 63. I can say that with some pride. Given my life thus far, I honestly never thought I’d live this long, all things considered. But here I am.
We didn’t plan a party because…..well, to put it bluntly, there comes a point in each person’s life, where a recurring birthday shouldn’t be that big a deal or a cause for major celebration. But somehow people get carried away and want to be noticed just because they’ve survived another year. Now, granted, once you pass 75, I think you should make a big deal out of it and the older you get the louder you should shout it out, because realistically, how many can you have? But the mid 60s are not such a much.
So it’s my birthday. What to do? How to celebrate? This was the day:
I awoke this morning and said to husband,
Let’s go to Denny’s. They give you free breakfast on your birthday. You get to build your own Grand Slam. I’m nothing if not frugal.
So, two eggs over easy, two strips of bacon, hash browns and two wheat pancakes later, with coffee, I sloshed out of Denny’s a happy man. Happy Birthday to me.
Then, I just had a regular work day.
For dinner, I searched the internet and googled “free birthday dinner Fort Lauderdale“. You wouldn’t believe the results!
So off we went (husband, roommate and I) to Champps, a sports bar. Not that we’re the least bit interested in anything on any of the 35 tv screens. Even with March Madness in progress. I was only interested in the deal, which was ANYTHING on the menu, at ANY price, free for your birthday. I would have ordered the Dom Perignon marinated lobster tails (if they’d had them), but I settled for a HUGE rack of baby back ribs. Happy Birthday to me! We had beers, onion rings, fries…..all told, I’d call it HELL IN A HAND-BASKET. Diets be damned. It’s birthday!
So, there we were, stuffed, buzzed, and drowsy, and our waitress, Karen, suggested a piece of ice-cream cake for dessert…..you know, to share? How not? I’ts Birthday! Well, they call it mile high cake. Sure, said we, and waited patiently. And then it happened. She brought out this slice. From a pie, I imagine, that’s the size of Utah. It was chocolate, vanilla and coffee layers of ice cream, with Oreo cookies interspersed, and whipped cream, Heath Bar chips, chocolate syrup and hot fudge drizzled around the side of the plate. I know, it sounds decadent, and you figure the three of us each had a couple of bites, right? Well, take a look at this monster. I mean, seriously, just take a look. Ten inches high! Did you ever?
Well, we ate it. Every last mouthful. Acknowledging what pigs we were, but son-of-a-gun, we finished it.
So now I sit here, stuffed, comatose from the sugar, tired from the beer and older than the hills, writing to you. My bed is beckoning but I’m honestly afraid to lie down. There’s a nausea factor at work. I’ll be okay, I’m sure, but I’m thinking…..I’m glad it’s a year til the next one.
Happy Birthday to me.
I ran this piece two years ago and decided that since I have a multitude of new readers, (okay, at least twelve), I ought to run it again. After all, the holiday rolls around each year, so why not honor it again?
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.
You all know who he was, right? He was born in what was then, England in the 4th century, kidnapped as a boy to Ireland, escaped, became a cleric, returned to Ireland and used the shamrock with it’s three leaf shape to teach Christianity and especially the Holy Trinity to heathens, and essentially brought Christianity to Ireland. You did all know that right? Well spoiler alert in reverse if you didn’t.
I’ve always heard some stuff about his driving the snakes out of Ireland. Let’s put this puppy to bed right now. First of all, Ireland is an island, (That’s not so easy to say. Try it three times fast). It is separated from the land mass of Europe so there were no snakes there. Nada. El zippo. So that’s just a big fairy tale. (speaking of fairies, i’ll get there in a minute). So there’s no snake story actually involved, but a similar story is popular about a pied-piper and the rats of Hamelin, but I digress.
Over the centuries, the Irish claimed Patrick as their own, and celebrations began around the 1800’s to commemorate him, involving wearing the color green (to commemorate the rolling hills of the motherland), and of course shamrocks.
The Wearing Of The Green is a tradition, and people from all over, get in the spirit and wear green, Irish or not. Why? Do Jews wear crucifixes on Easter? Do Caucasians wear dashikis on Kwanzaa? Do we all don Chinese hats on New Year’s Eve Of The Rat? I think not.
In more modern times, the celebrations have been formalized into mostly parades and drinking festivals. Yes, there’s corned beef and cabbage (although i mostly think of corned beef as a Jewish thing, personally.) but apparently the Irish claim it as their own for one day a year, so i just let it be. No point in making a fuss. My people claim it the rest of the year. (And quite frankly, I’ll take a Jewish corned beef sandwich with a potato latke over an Irish one and a boiled potato, any day, but that’s just me.) As for the drink festivals, that’s a peculiar thing.
Sit. Let’s Discuss.
The Irish, it seems, are famous, nay, notorious for drinking. (see drunken Irish). I’m not sure why. (Yes, i know they drink a lot, but then so do Presbyterians. (Albeit an Irishman’s idea of a good time is a shot and a beer, while the prezzies prefer a highball or a martini.) It’s not a big deal to drink a lot. I do it. Nuns do it too, only they use coffee cups for propriety’s sake. I even know a lot of gays that drink at least as much as the Irish, although the preference, of course, would be for more lady-like drinks like Cosmos or Appletinis. (Oh Mary, don’t ask). As I said, I’m not sure why the Irish have such a bad rap about the drinking, but if an impartial observer took notes on Saint Patrick’s Day, the jury would declare the entire Irish nation a bunch of drunks. (But then again, the same could be said about 100 million people right here in America on Superbowl Sunday, and that’s just a football game, so there.) But hey, it’s only one day, okay? Ease up, will ya?
So to sum up so far, we have a group of people, identified with a particular island in Great Britain, but living all over the world, of course, who once a year dress up in green, wear shamrocks in one form or another, march in parades, hang out in bars and get drunk and puke. Hmmm. When you think about it, it’s not much of a holiday really. Not like Christmas with it’s presents, or Hanukkah with its festival of lights and potato latkes, or even 4th of July with it’s picnics, bar-b-ques, and fireworks. It’s not even a day off from work when it falls on a weekday. I’m truly not sure what the big deal is about St. Pat’s day. But faith and begorrah, the Irish sure love it.
And about that parade. There’s usually a big one in lots of cities, but New York’s is perhaps the biggest of them all. (After all, they do have a cathedral there named for him, and it’s a beauty, too). Many of the police and fireman are of Irish descent, and in their parade, pretty much all are welcome to build a float, raise your banner, fly your colors and be proud…..except the gays. (See, I told you I’d come back to it). For some odd reason, they don’t allow the gays to march in the Saint Patrick’s Day parade in New York. Do they think there are no Irish gays? I mean, if Oscar Wilde were alive, would they let him march? Pretty good playwright, proud Irishman and all? How about Rosie O’donnell? She’s still alive. How come she can’t march? I’ve seen her march in gay pride parades. She happens to be an excellent marcher and i think she would add something to the festivities, but alas, not allowed. Hmmm. I guess that let’s me out too. Nice Jewish gay boy with Irish friends, forbidden to march. For a holiday that’s really not such a much, it seems to me they could use all the help, color, style and panache they can get. (although truth be told, we gays are not partial to green beer. Too hard to find matching accessories.)
You know what? Screw it. I’m putting this holiday up on the shelf with Groundhog Day. No big whoop. And this year on St. Patrick’s Day, i’m going to a Jewish deli to eat a hot corned beef sandwich on rye with good deli mustard and a pickle. (Way better than boiled cabbage and potatoes.) Rosie and i will see you at the gay pride parade.
Top of the mornin’ to you, and Erin Go Bragh.
Most of the time I write about things that happen to me. That’s only fair, it’s my blog with my observations. However, sometimes my loved ones have some serious stupidity happen to them and I like to think they can find a voice through my smart-ass remarks. Many of you that read this know the party involved, so it might be all the more enjoyable. But even if you don’t, it’s still a strange tale.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
Most of my father’s side of the family is long gone. But there remains his baby sister; Aunt (or, as we say in Yiddish, Tante). I’m very close to her and her kids and grandkids. A fine family and we share a lot of love. (For those of you who read my novel, she’s Aunt Rachel….not her real name).
She moved from New Jersey, (like the rest of us), years ago, to Delray Beach, built a big, beautiful house in a lovely community, so the family could visit all at the same time, if they wanted, and has lived there in peace and harmony since 2005. She built the house to her own specifications and among many other niceties, presented a plan for landscaping to the Architectural Control Committee (hereby known as the ACC), way back when, and life went on. The place is lovely by anyone’s standards. (Okay, those are not her ACTUAL digs, but I’m trying to make a point. Just lovely.)
Now, seven years later, she’s decided to sell, and move to a condo. Fair enough. It’s a good plan. Being so beautiful, the house sold quickly, is under contract, and she’s packing, all excited to get on with her life. She’s over 80 and spry as a goose, and where she’s moving has a very active lifestyle. All is good.
Suddenly, (if seven years later you can call it that), the ACC sent her a letter declaring that she’s in violation with her landscaping and that they have no record of her planned greenery on their books. She knows she sent it, and they approved it, and the plantings went forward and nobody said a word,…..until now. WTF? One might wonder who, exactly, sits on this committee, that it took them seven years?They’re threatening to hold up her sale unless she appears before them. (The kicker is, having found a buyer, she’s going through years of paperwork and shredding what she doesn’t need anymore, and happens to remember that last week she shredded the very documents they’re seeking. Ain’t life a bitch?)
So she is to appear before them, (it seems high school never ends…..back to the Principal’s office), to defend her case. I advised her to start nice. Nice usually can get you pretty far. But if they give her a load of crap, I told her to go all “Jersey City” on them and threaten them with litigation for being six years late with their insane request for papers.
Really? You come to me now, seven years after the fact, when I have a buyer for my house, to talk about my Starburst Claradendrons?
Come to me now about my bouganvillea?
The words, I’ll see you in court, come to mind.
So Tante is gearing up for battle. She has a savvy son in Boca, who, if cornered, can be a pretty good attack dog, and of course there’s me and my mouth, should she need it. But she’s going to go Round 1 on her own, and only call in the troops if she really needs us.
Personally, my money’s on her.
Ah, the government at work. Your tax dollars. Something went down the other day that I simply cannot describe. (Although I’m going to do my best to try.)
As most of you know, I take a lot of drugs. (The legitimate kind). I have issues. If you’ve been following, you know this. I have great health insurance and it covers most everything, (actually it’s Medicare), and the only glitch is the co-pay on some of my meds. I take a couple where my share, monthly, can be as high as $150/ea per month. Yeah, pricey. But there are programs through the companies, (you’ve seen the commercials….If you have trouble paying for your drugs, Astrazeneca can help…stuff like that), so I apply, jump through the hoops and generally find the help I need.
However, this year they changed the rules and Medicare patients need to apply to their local Health Dept for assistance and if turned down, then the pharmaceutical companies will kick in. Fair enough. Just another hoop, in my opinion, and I’m a very good jumper.
So I made an appointment with Broward County Health for an assessment, for 11:00am this past Tuesday morning. How did it go, you might wonder? That’s the story.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
I arrived at 10:50, was greeted by a government employee (I only include that to give you the flavor), with a computer keyboard and her smart phone in her spare hand, (obviously texting her BFF), gave her my name, and this is how it went.Me: Good morning. I’m here for my 11:00am appt for an assesment. Her: Good morning. Please take this ticket (number 52) and go to the lounge to wait. It will be approximately 1.5 to 2 hours. Me: No, No, No. I have an appointment. Her: Yes, I know. The waiting room is through there. Me: But why such a long wait with an appointment Her: Well, we’ve taken all of the 9:00am people and we’re working on the 10s. You’re an eleven. Me: I don’t understand. Why the backlog? Her: We have four interviewers and we schedule six people per hour. Each interview can take between 45 minutes and an hour, so we get backed up. Me: Why not stop at four per hour. Her: I wouldn’t know about that. It’s just how we do it. From the distance I hear: Number 39? Calling number 39? Me: So each hour there are six people waiting and four get to go in, while two wait for the next hour? Her: Yes. Me: And now, at 11:00 am, my appointment time, they’re taking number 39 and I’m 52. That’s a lot of people ahead of me.
Her: Yes, now you understand why it’s 1.5 to 2 hours wait time. Me: Hmmm. I see. Okay, what time do you open in the morning? Her: 8:00 am. Me: So if I show up on a new day at 8:00 am, I’d go right in. Her: No, there might be six people ahead of you.
Me: But how is that possible if I have the first appointment of the day? Her: Well, there are six people with the first appointment of the day. Me: Scratching my head. But I couldn’t be more than sixth on line, could I? Her: No. You’d be sixth in the worst case scenario. Me: Well that’s better than 14th, which I am now, wouldn’t you agree? Her: I wouldn’t know about that. Me: I’ll take the first 8:00 am appointment that you have. Her: I can’t get you in until next week. Me: That’s fine.
So out I walked, with my appointment card in hand, feeling as though I had jumped through yet another, in a series of hoops.
I have NO DOUBT that there will a second part to this, after the interview. No doubt at all.
Funny title for me. I’m SO not a gambling man.
Come to think of it, I’m 62 years old, and have seen and done a lot, and have, in all likelihood suffered every addiction known to mankind, (gluttony, smoking, drinking, sexing, (is that a word?), etc, with the sole exception of gambling. Perhaps because my father had a minor predilection for it. He was an aficionado of the casinos in Atlantic City or a good poker game, and I’m sure the bowling league at the Knights of Pythias had a side bet or two going. My mother would get steamed (not a pretty sight for a wee one, (me)), so I shied away since early on. Later in life, when you take an opposing position in a discussion and someone says, I’ll bet you $10,000 you’re wrong. (Well, actually only Mitt Romney ever said that to Governor Perry of Texas in one of the Republican debates), but you take my meaning. I decline wagering for the following reason:
If someone says to me, I’ll bet you 50 bucks that the next person to walk into this bar will be a fat man in pink tights, wearing a tutu, singing “I feel pretty”, I won’t take that bet. I always think, “he knows something that I don’t know.” That is the kind of gambler I am.
But the Academy Awards are upon us, and folks everywhere, especially in Hollywood,(and perhaps Las Vegas), are placing their wagers on the winners. I’m invited to a party where my guesses will be judged, along with the other guests, for HUGE prizes. (I made the HUGE prizes part up, but I do love a party). I should add here, I’ve see none of the nominated pictures, (well, I did see Beasts of the Southern Wild, and loved it, btw, but not a chance for Best Picture,) so the word “guess” really applies. But I’m nothing, if not an opinionated bastard. So what are my guesses?
Sit. Let’s discuss.
Best Picture: I think it’s between Argo and Les Miz and Lincoln. However, I hear Lincoln is great but dry. So between the other two I want to say Les Miz. Hollywood loves a good musical. (Yeah, I know, Hurt Locker beat Avatar, so Hollywood also likes a good terrorism movie: i.e. Zero Dark Thirty (but everyone hated the torture stuff)). There’s also that whole Argo fan base. But I’m rooting for Les Miz, even though Argo is going to win. I could be wrong.
Best Actor: I think it’s between Hugh Jackman (sigh), and Daniel Day-Lewis. Too close to call. They each won a Golden Globe. But my money is on Jackman. (sigh). I could be wrong. (Can handsome beat historical?) Dunno. My money is on Jackman. (sigh)
He should, at the very least, win Best Handsome. (sigh). The truth is, Lewis will win, but I’m still rooting for Jackman. (sigh).
Best Actress: They say Naomi Watts was amazing in The Impossible, but nobody saw the movie. Too depressing about the tsunami in Malaysia. Then there was that darling Jennifer Lawrence from Silver Linings Playbook who’s all of 22 with her second nomination, but I think that if you don’t win it really young (think Streisand for Funny Girl, Minelli for Cabaret, or Tatum O’neal for Paper Moon), then you have to pay your dues before you win). I think Jessica Chastain will take it, but I could be wrong.
Best Supporting Actress: Tough one. They like Sally Field. They really like her. And she’s a great actress. But Anne Hathaway has grown from Princess Diaries to Fantine. I’ve seen clips and I think she’ll edge out Sally, who will need a therapist to reaffirm that we still like her. But I could be wrong.
Best Supporting Actor: Tough to bet against De Niro, but I’m going with Christophe Waltz. I think they still love him from Inglorious Basterds, and he’s so quirky and kindof oddball-ish that he’s hard to resist. Besides nobody saw Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. But then again, De Niro hasn’t won in like 20 years, so maybe…..But, ya know? I could be wrong.
Best Director: Ben Affleck. Oh wait. They snubbed him without a nomination. WTF? He won the Golden Globe and the Academy snubbed him. That leaves Ang Lee (nobody saw Life of Pi), and Spielberg. I say the latter goes home with the statuette. He’s arguably the greatest director ever. But again, I could be wrong.
Best costumes: No, I’m kidding. I’ll stop here. Otherwise this might get as boring as the actual awards show.
It’ll be fun to be at a party with a bunch of other, mostly gay, men (some of them in costume, possibly), rooting for your favorites, (even though I’ve seen none of the films). You think the Red Carpet commentary is fun? Watch it with a bunch of aging queens. Talk about COMMENTARY! Still, it’s always a pleasure for me to see Hugh Jackman (sigh), and I hear that Barbra is slated to show up and actually sing! It’s rare, but she’s coming. Seriously…..still, like Buddah.
So those are my predictions. Again, I think they snubbed Ben Affleck. But then I think they really snubbed Channing Tatum. I mean, after all, did you see Magic Mike? And did anybody all year make your heart beat faster than he did?
I’m not wrong about that!
Oh boy. I fucked up.
I almost never start a piece with a cuss word, but I really think I changed the course of world history this week. It started out innocently enough with my reading Facebook, seeing something which I thought was funny, and re-posting it on my page for my world to see. The next thing I knew, the politics of the world were shifting, whole religions were quaking on the verge of hysteria and Diane Sawyer was talking about what I did. This is how it began. The post on Facebook:
Funny, right? At least I thought so.
The very next day, His Holiness, His Eminence, His Excellency, The Pontiff, announces that he’s stepping down from his position. (He cited ill health, but I think it’s because of what I did.) Truth be told, if he’s that thin-skinned, maybe he shouldn’t be Pope. But that’s just my opinion. (You don’t suppose he looked in the mirror and rethought his position, do you?) Not sure.
Suddenly, the Cardinals of the world are gathering in Rome to hold a conclave. (If you don’t know what a conclave is, either read the book, or see the move Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Good story about electing a Pope. There’s a dark horse in this race; the Cardinal from Ghana. He’s black, but that’s not what I meant about a dark horse, I swear. I meant he’s a long shot. They’ll probably elect a black Pope right after we elect a black President. (Oh wait. Um. Never mind. Maybe he has a shot.) The Cardinals are all in one form of drag or another, with their red robes and hoop skirts, but I dare not poke fun, lest further mayhem ensue.
I sincerely hope I haven’t tipped the balance of world power, or even religious position with my offhand, offbeat humor.
Now, here’s the tricky part. I’m this Jewish kid who doesn’t even practice his own religion, so where am I going to find a place to confess my sin?
About that surgery. Yeah, the sciatica. The story I told went straight to the event, bypassing, (if you’ll excuse the medical expression) the setup.
Having been through the Sports Doctor and his attempts, (including physical therapy, exercise and cortisone), and subsequently the Pain Doctor (which encompassed morphine, Vicodin and ultimately a series of epidural shots in my back, to no avail, I might add, I sought the next level. (Side note: Can anyone explain to me why three epidurals in my spine couldn’t stop my pain? I’ve seen a woman take one shot and push a bowling ball out of her vagina with not so much as a grimace, and I couldn’t get any relief. Okay, mine were cortisone injections and hers were something a bit stronger, but still).
So having had no relief, I visited Dr. Miracle, the surgeon. (Not his real name. I don’t want to get sued for writing, any more than he wants to be sued for ….whatever). He came highly recommended and so I made an appointment before the cruise, for surgery after our return. Husband and I arrived for my appointment and the doc was surprisingly prompt. I took that as a good sign. He has some nice digs at Holy Cross Hospital so I figured he was legit. (Personally I hate it when the surgeon has his suite in some building above Weight Watchers’ meetings or even in a strip mall that has a Starbucks an Einstein Bagels and a Pilates Class. I want to know his rent is higher than that, indicating a modicum of success.)
Having been led into his consulting room, after the preliminary height/weight/blood pressure/temperature business, we sat and looked around. (Husband always comes in with me. I know most doctors hate that extra body in the exam room, but at my age my mind is likely to wander after I hear the words incision and anesthesia so I need someone to help me remember what he tells me. Sitting and waiting I noticed some of the tools of his trade.
First off, there was a human skull on the table. Now, I know he’s a neurosurgeon but is the skull on display really necessary? I felt like I was on the set of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, waiting for Vincent Price. Or on the set of the movie Saw 3. There it was, just a big old skull on the table. Hard to ignore. On the other table there were short sections of spine; spine alone,spine with screws, spine with fusions, and spine with leaky red crap outside the spinal cord. Again, a little unnerving and unnecessary. I get it. He’s going to cut my spine.
So in he comes, with my MRI in his hand and promptly shows me my bulbous area around L4, L5. You doctors out there will know what that is. You lay people, it means the exact spot on your spine that needs Dr. Miracle’s attention. He explained that he was going to do a laminectomy, (the surgical removal of part of the posterior arch of a vertebra to provide access to the spinal canal, as for the excision of a ruptured disk. I looked it up. Really makes you believe that Medical School is not for everyone.) And that he’d make a tiny incision, use a microscope, clean up around the affected area, and I’d be good as new when I awoke. Sounded okay to me. He never bothered to tell me about the hideous, unbearable pain that I’d experience for a couple of days after. Or the sensation of broken ribs, due to the cage they lay you over while they cut your back, which digs so hard into your ribs that later it feels like they dropped you. Guess he didn’t want to scare me. (Have I mentioned how I hate surprises?)
Anyway, I scheduled for Dec 19th, took our cruise, came home, had my surgery, writhed in agony for two days and now I’m right as rain. (Truth be told, I don’t really get that expression…..right as rain Rain is not right if you’re having a picnic or at a little league game. It’s not right at a parade. So why do we say it? Dunno. A subject for another time.)
So as I mentioned in the actual surgery blog, I’m good to go, for now. And as much as I liked Dr. Miracle and his methods, I really do hope I never see him professionally again.
I’ll bet a lot of good doctors get that from happy patients.
I hope you all enjoyed Husband’s and my travels. It was a lot to tell and for those of you who made it all the way through, I thank you. It’s not quite as rewarding as finishing War and Peace, which is 1,440 pages in the paperback version, (I’m still on page 106), or the Steve Jobs biography, a mere 630, but a sense of completion of a task, nonetheless. Thanks again. On to other topics. Well not exactly. There is still the matter of the sciatica and the surgery.
So I did it. I had the surgery to end the ceaseless, relentless pain in my ass. (That’s not a curse word. It actually was a pain in the piriformis muscle which is located in your ass.) Five days after the cruise was the event.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
I had to stop taking any aspirin products for ten days prior to December 19th, which included five days on the cruise. (It’s a blood thinner, bleeding thing). At that point I switched from the Ibuprophen 800s to Percocet with codeine. (Not a bad swap in the 60s, but when you’re trying to snorkel in Bonaire……ya know.) But I did, came home, prepped for the event, (labs, clearance from the doctor, clearance from the cardiologist, etc….they really don’t want you to die on the table from the anesthesia) and on the morning of the 19th in I went. I wasn’t the prettiest patient, but then it wasn’t a beauty contest, but rather a question of whether Dr. Miracle could fix me. He was on stage, not me. And thank goodness for that. Take a look.
Talk about brave. (No, not the surgery, my showing you this picture. I promise, you’ll only see the before. The after was too ugly even for my loved ones.) As you can see, the drip is in my arm already (no, you can’t see the drip, but look at my face, people. Talk about la la land.)
Fast forward three hours.
As always, the patient regains consciousness and can’t remember anything. Total amnesia. Husband said I was a mess. Begging him for headphones so I could watch a movie, post op. Delirious.
I slept for almost two hours. I know. You’d think you’d sleep longer, but the hospital staff wakes you every two hours for vitals. And meds. And blood pressure. And to introduce themselves on shift change. And to bring you food you can’t eat. (I was on liquids…..Jello anyone?) Literally every two hours. And I couldn’t move. My back hurt so much, that as I lay dying, (don’t you love the literary William Faulkner reference? I wasn’t dying. Just sounded good in the narrative. Sorry about that). So as I lay there, I cursed the day that I agreed to the surgery. I was swearing that if I’d known the after-pain, I would have lived with the goddamn sciatica for the rest of my life. People, it hurt! But, silly me. After two days of relentless agony it began to abate and that’s when I noticed it. Oh, my back was still ripped open and it hurt, but I noticed…..the sciatica was gone. GONE. After a year of suffering, it left me. I was on my feet by day three to shuffle to the bathroom (the catheter was out…..yeah, sorry, I can’t tell the catheter story. It hurts my male readers too much. Get me drunk sometime and I’ll tell that part). But inching toward the bathroom with the drip dispenser alongside, feeding me pain-killers, I realized that Dr. Miracle did it. I was cured. A mess, but cured. I remained in the hospital two nights. By day two they brought me solid food that I couldn’t eat. Still, progress, I thought. On day three I came home.
Now it’s three weeks later and I’m walking like a champ. Still healing, not allowed to bend, lift, exercise, etc. I am, however, allowed to go into the pool, chest deep and walk back and forth for at least an hour a day. I’m just glad to be walking anywhere.
So that’s it. The sciatica saga has come to an end. I promise not to mention it again. Okay, I might mention it in passing but I promise not to dwell on it.
After all, there are lots of other things that are a pain in my ass. No?
Finale, I promise. So with the islands behind us and our digital disks almost full, we set sail for home…..a two-day sea adventure, much like the first one. (Although truth be told, we weren’t eating as much on the way home. After ten days we were a tad nauseated. Oh, not enough to quit eating, just enough to slow down.) For activities, I took a class in how to make Gravlax. (That’s Scandinavian lox for the uninformed.) I actually know how, and have made it many times, but I thought maybe the sous chef had something to teach me. Other than the fact that I make a pound at a time and he made ten, there’s very little difference. He showed us with one giant salmon. Take a look: This picture reminds me; I forgot to mention that it being early December, as we cruised, the “elves” came out at night whilst we slept and decorated the ship a little each night until it was unbelievably festive. See what I mean? So for the last couple of days, I spent a lot of time writing this account, taking a class in gravlax (okay) , or apps on your tablet (not great), napkin folding (awesome….I can make a shoe!),
How festive is that? I mean, seriously. Dinner party, anyone?
Then the shopping (didn’t buy much….hat, t-shirt….ya know) and generally relaxing. But one day I stumbled onto one of the cruise directors in the main atrium, teaching the willing and able, how to dance the choreography from Michael Jackson’s video, Thriller. He was really good at it, and over time, the passengers caught on. Enjoy this video.
Seriously, how fun was that? I swear, if I hadn’t been crippled with the sciatica, I would have been haunting the deck with the rest of them. (Of course, then you wouldn’t have seen it as nobody would have been filming). But I swear I would have. Wouldn’t you?
Finally, after the last dinner, the cast, crew and staff did a farewell show in the theater, bidding us a fond farewell and urging us to come back. I swear I got misty thinking about how much fun I’d had.
Are ya still with me? I didn’t realize how many parts there’d be. This is probably the next to the last one.
The Ports of Call.
After the two sea days, we have six ports in six days. (I know. I’m tired already).
1) Antigua. Knowing we had a huge day coming up the next day, we went easy in the first port. From the ship, the island looked pretty impressive. We walked around the town, saw some sights, shopped a bit and went back to the ship. On-board friends told us later that they did excursions and that it was a very interesting island. We were fine with that.
2) St. Lucia. (Now that you know the pronunciation. ) This was our big day. I had booked a tour directly with a local tour operator and his company, not through the ship, and his people were waiting as promised upon our dis-embarkation. (Alex, I’ll take 14-letter words for $200). I had convinced the ladies at our dinner table to come with, and we hopped into a van with six others; two young kids in their 30s, who would go on to be our new BFFs, an old man on a cane and three elderly ladies who turned out to be real players. Nothing was going to stop these gals.
So off we went. He showed us the banana plantations and took us up and down the mountains on the winding roads. We went to the “drive-in” volcano, replete with its stink of sulphur. (The town is actually called Souffriere, which means Sulphur in the Air.) Gorgeous waterfalls, cool pools, mud baths (we did NOT partake of the mud, as the stench of the sulphur was a bit stongrer than we’d anticipated.) After that we stopped for some local food tastings and I ate things I’ve never eaten before (tamarind, goat, passion fruit, etc) and loved every bite. Then we were off through the rain forest to a little dock with tiny speedboats which we boarded via ladder down to the crafts and sped away to a beach at the base of the Piton Mountains. It was breathtaking. At the beach, I snorkeled and became one-with-the-sea. The beauty and tranquility of the water, the abundance of fish, the myriad varieties of the species and the beauty were overwhelming.
We spent an hour (not enough, in my opinion), and then back onto the craft to take us back to the van. We saw some landmarks like the Governor’s Mansion and others. Back to the ship, exhausted, Husband and I fell into a well-deserved nap. It was a great day.
3) Barbados. After yesterday, we just laid low. Took a stroll into the town, grabbed some wi-fi, touched base with home and got back on the ship to rest. Barbados didn’t seem like a big deal to us, but many of our fellow cruisers enjoyed their excursions. The people were not as friendly as on the earlier islands, IMHO.
4) St Vincent. It was Sunday, so a lot of places didn’t open until 3pm. It’s a religious island. The topography was among the most dramatic we’d ever seen. Giant mansions way up on the mountaintops, gorgeous coastline, and rich blue seas. See photos:
It was magnificent. Someday I’d like to go back and really see it.
5) Bonaire. For me the highlight. This island is so beautiful with its pristine waters, gorgeous beaches, clean clean streets. (I said clean twice. It was immaculate). The people were so friendly and pretty (the Dutch, after all). We hopped a cab to the Plaza Resort of Bonaire and spent several hours on their beach. I snorkeled again and my mind was blown away by the life beneath the sea. It was like being in the movie, Finding Nemo. (I actually saw clown fish) The photos can’t do it justice but take a look:
If you look closely, that me, at the bottom of the photo with the yellow diving gloves, emerging from the sea, like the Creature From The Black Lagoon only fatter Husband and I both said “we’re coming back here, to spend at least a few days”. Just wonderful.
6) Finally, there’s Aruba. A beautiful little island, clean and well-maintained (the Dutch, again). We simply wandered around downtown, (we were the only ship in port so it was a pleasure), bought some souvenirs and came back to the ship. After all, six ports in six days is a lot). Take a look at our last port. Think CLEAN.
So as we bid farewell to our ports of call, and set sail on our two- days-at-sea voyage home, we marvel at the wonderful time we’re having.
The final chapter will be on the final two days and the insane activities that the cruise staff dreams up to keep you occupied. (Besides eating)…..
Stay tuned for Part 7.
I wanted to continue a bit more about the entertainment.
That penultimate night, we had Los Gauchos, who were this adorable couple of (straight) guys, dressed “bolero” style, swinging ropes, doing a bit of Flamenco just being downright sexy and handsome. They began with a mesmerizing act including black lights and dancing fabric. I figured out how to show it to you. Take a look:
here’s another bite:
Wasn’t that just fun and mesmerizing? Even without being stoned it was impressive.
Now, on to Los Gauchos. Take a look at these maniacs:
How fun is that????
Finally, the last show turned out to be singing twins, Gunnar and Matthew Nelson. Gotcha covered…..WHO???
Come listen to the tale.
Who remembers Ricky Nelson? (sigh). I’m sorry, his name always ends in (sigh). He was a beauty. And a pretty talented Travelin’ Man, as the song goes. Don’t get too excited. We didn’t see him. He’s dead. Pretty dead for a very long time. Here’s the catch? Did you know he had twin sons? Well, yeah, he did, er…does. Er…had, er… has. Well they’re alive and he’s not. Anyway they began a musical career of their own, way back when, under the tutelage of dad, and of course Grandpa (Ozzie). It took them so far, and then I guess the fact that they don’t have much talent caught up with them, so they’re working the cruise ship circuit now, in a show that’s an “HOMAGE” to dad. (They never once mentioned that dad was a hopeless drug addict, but I guess that’s not really good theater). So these handsome, 45-year-old twins do this “act”, if you will, telling all about life with dad (the clean version) and then singing a song or two. Not bad for cruise ship fare. And for the name-droppers aboard, (and there were so many you could just shit), it was a chance to say, “I saw Ricky Nelson’s kids”.
(I have to add here, that some people are just so starved to be near famous people. I had a woman tell me that she loaned Charo a guitar string after she broke one onstage playing Granada in grand Flamenco style. Does that really qualify as “I know her?”) Anyway…. back to the Nelson boys. Take a look:
After the show, I got all up close and personal and was telling one of them about how his Grandpa, Ozzie was legend while I was at Rutgers, and we were gittin’ along all fine and stuff, and then I remembered the Charo story and had to run. So easy to get caught up in it all, I tell ya.
Nice boys though.
I’ll come back to the final night and the parade of nations, the teaching of the Thriller video choreography and Staff Farewell at the very end. But for tomorrow, I promise the actual ports of call.
After each dinner was the corresponding show in the Masquerade Theater. It’s a gorgeous venue. Take a look: (Feel free to click and make it big)….. The entertainment is quite wonderful. The first night’s was a comic from Brooklyn, with the accent and the smarty-mouth attitude of which I am so fond. I’m kind of like that myself (in case you hadn’t noticed). We all had a lot of fun with him. He did a late show a couple of nights later, when he could step out of “family mode” and was really quite entertaining. At that point on that first evening, it was late, but having found the “Friends of Dorothy” posting in the main lobby, we ventured up to the Viking Crown Lounge to see if anyone would show. We met a few gay couples, exchanged pleasantries, sat a few minutes, said our goodnights and headed off to bed.
The second night was the first of the RCCL Singers and Dancers, in a Broadway salute that was actually thrilling. The singers were good, but the dancers were amazing. These young, beautiful, fresh-faced, young kids. (I said young twice. I like young). All I could think as I watched was, “when the sciatica is gone, I still won’t be able to do any of that.” There was lots of Chicago, Cabaret, Dreamgirls, West Side Story, et al. A helluva good time was had by all. Look at these kids. Could you just plotz? He had it comin’….from Chicago. Great number. And then this little number morphed into Dreamgirls…..could you just die?……… Geez, I love those kids. One night there was an impressionist. He donned different persona and sang as them, using wigs and props. He even did Sonny and Cher with a wig short on one side and long on the other. Hysterical! Take a look: Sonny: then Cher. Pants on one side, gown on the other. The best!! At one point he dragged a 12-year-old boy onto the stage and did a Kermit, (It’s not easy being green) number, that was sensational. The kid stole the show. Click on this one. See below. The young lad was a great kid. Smart as a whip and a real player. He was travelling with his mom and dad (a VERY decorated war hero), and his grandparents. We spent a fair amount of time together and I got to know them all. They were a really lovely family. (I wish you could have seen this little guy on Disco Night. He was rockin’! The next night was a hypnotist. Now, I’ve been the “hypnotee” previously on a cruise, and I promised that I would stay in my seat and observe the show. But darn if, during his audience warm-up, he didn’t spot my show-biz ass, pull me on stage to participate and “go under”. So with his expert direction, and being the player that I am, I proceeded to become a beauty pageant queen, a sheriff riding into town on a horse, a symphony orchestra player (each of us miming an instrument), and an orangutan, “hoo-hoo-ing” through the audience picking fleas out of peoples’ hair. Then he called upon us to become amorous orangutans and pick out an audience member and wrap our arms around them. Well, people, there he was; the hot, black, MALE singer from the RCCL show sitting in the third row and I just couldn’t resist. I threw my arms around him and buried my face in his neck, with him rolling in laughter the entire time, and me trying not to give it away, (having just outed myself in front of 1000 people.) The audience ate it up. Husband actually thought I was under the spell. For the past two days people have been stopping me on the ship to ask “were you really hypnotized?” But the truth is, if you could really snap your fingers and put someone under, men would get laid so much more often than they do now. Can’t you see it?
Hey honey, c’mere a minute, I have an idea…..snap…..yeah, ooh baby, that’s good…..watch your teeth…..
Really? Do people really think it’s that easy? C’mon guys, get serious. I guess I’m just a pretty good actor. It’s fun being in the spotlight for a bit. Then, last night was a funny act. It was a guy who played he ukulele and sang. His specialty was taking well-known songs and re-writing the lyrics in comedy. He was the least entertaining so far, (and the grumps complained), but I enjoyed him, corny as he was. He was a terrific ukulele player, I might add.
Many days later…..
The entertainment has continued to be outstanding. A couple of nights ago, there was a heavy-set woman in her 70s. I swear, she was like an old Sophie Tucker, with a little bawdy comedy, some songs and a very engaging style that drew in the entire audience. She was so funny. I gathered she was Israeli, (although I suspect she was born before the actual country). When she did get serious, she sang Wind Beneath My Wings, and she was incredible. Thoroughly enjoyable. The next night was a return of the RCCL Singers and Dancers in a tribute to the Disco Era. It was smokin’. The costumes were gorgeous and the energy level, again, made me wish I had the Bengay concession backstage. Those kids make me crazy and pissed off that I’m old. Alas. After dinner was a continuation of the Disco theme in the main Centrum. The ship’s staff had the joint jumping. Take a look at the remains of the Disco era (a bunch of old folks doing YMCA). This one is an actual video. So click it!
Last night was this very interesting and entertaining act called “Los Gauchos”….something. Two wild and crazy Argentinians doing drums and native dance and comedy and audience participation and general merriment. I gotta say, RCCL has booked some great entertainment for every night of this cruise. Very impressive indeed.
Well, drats, I’ve gone long. But I want to continue the entertainment part. I’ll come back to El Gauchos….whatever….and finish up with the Nelson Twins (you know? the sons of Ricky Nelson? I may even tell the family story. But that’s the next installment.
After that, will be the ports. The ship was moving after all…..
Moving right along…..
During the two days at sea, swells notwithstanding, we ate, drank, napped, socialized, read and relaxed. Pre-cruise, there was a group at an online website, called CruiseCritic.com, where people on a given cruise, find each other online, get to know each other, share cruising tips and make plans for the on board frivolities. As a result, I found and participated in a slot-pull whereby 49 of us, each threw in $15 dollars and we pumped it ($735 bucks) in the dollar machine! Then each participant got to pull the slot five times at max bet, which is three bucks a pull, (which, those who know me are aware is an amazing out-of-character moment), and at the end you split the money. (Gain or loss). Well, WE WON! We each walked away with $20, which is five more than we started with. It was a lot of fun cheering (woohoo!!) and sympathy sighing (awwww!) as we each took a turn. And I met a lot of great people to boot.
We had a Cruise Critic social (no free booze) , a Welcome Back party (no free booze…okay, rum punch, but seriously), for former cruisers of RCCL, a trivia round and the Captain’s Cocktail Reception (big free booze and lots of it. Can I get a woohoo for the Captain? A word about the trivia contest; I sucked. Big time. Who made George Washington’s wooden teeth? (Are you kidding? Really? That was a question. I’m willing to bet nobody knows who. Okay, it was Paul Revere. Yeah, him….the silversmith….the British are coming, yada yada…..him. Get real. I quit the trivia contest immediately and walked away in shame. Had there been an actual plank, I might have considered, well…..you know. The very idea.
(Did I mention the Captain is a woman? Well, she is). Captain Liz, one of only four in the entire cruise industry. Very cool. We met her and she’s Danish and charming. See photo:
It’s blurry, I know. Sorry. But she was a darlin’. (Did I mention I have sweaters older than she?)
It’s funny. There are a lot of “professional” cruisers on board; people who spend most of their time in retirement, on ships. They know a lot about many things; ports, shopping, excursions, best beaches to snorkel, best modes of transportation, wi-fi spots and on and on. Most of them are happy campers just because they’re out to sea. But some of them cruise constantly and are miserable anyway. “My room is not as nice as on the Freedom”, or “The food is not as good as the Allure”, or “The Double Diamond lounge is not private enough”, (to keep out those of us that are riff-raff, I suppose), and today, my favorite. One guy (had to be 400 pounds….my gag reflex went off…..), said to me:
Him: This ship is poor. Have you noticed that the décor inside the cabin doesn’t match the hallways?
Me: No, I haven’t. We’re in an inside cabin, so it’s tiny and I didn’t pay that much attention to the décor. I was just glad that all of my crap fit in.
Him: Well just take a look at it. And those beds? So uncomfortable.
Me: I’m actually sleeping like a baby, even though it’s a thin mattress. It’s kind of great with the rocking, and all.
Him: Well those springs are killing me.
Me: Well, you’re a WAY bigger guy than I so maybe that’s part of it.
Him: I don’t know about that. Could be. Anyway, I’m late for lunch. Gotta run before they close the buffet.
Me: See ya. (under my breath) Wouldn’t want to miss a meal now, would we, ya fat fuck?
Speaking of which, the meals are bounteous and fantastic. The first night we had the ship’s famous Vidalia Onion Tart as the first course of the voyage. This tart is, how you say, LEGENDARY. We were disappointed. Just didn’t care for it. I wondered if that was a bad omen. Fear not. As it turns out, that’s the only thing I didn’t like on the entire voyage. We’ve had Filet of Sole Meuniere, (how they do delicate fish like that for 500 people at a time eludes me, but it was lovely), Escargot (ooh that pesky garlic/parsley butter with the ship-baked bread for dipping into the tiny pockets of the dish), Filet Mignon (I actually got it rare), with a gorgonzola creme, ….just amazing), Turkey tenderloins breaded and crispy, and a real treat, Asian Duck, (although the head was gone so I couldn’t really tell if the eyes were slanty, thereby qualifying it as Asian…might have Long Island Duckling masquerading, still pretty good though,) Wahoo, (it’s a fish and it’s lovely), and steak with gorgonzola pasta. Desserts are magnificent as well. There has been Mango cheesecake, Pear tart, several chocolate concoctions, assorted pot-de-feu (that’s fancy French for chocolate pudding) and pears poached in cinnamon and wine. Just an artistic masterpiece. See below:
My waistline is creeping up, but I’ll do Weight Watchers when I get home. No sign of the famous baby lamb chops, but I’ve got my eyes on the lookout. I know the next formal night is lobster. I’m glad my cholesterol is good. I can eat a couple with no guilt. More on the food as we grow…..i mean go.
Moving right along…..
Dinner in the Main Dining Room (hereby known as the MDR for the purpose of these ramblings), was lovely. It was a beautiful room; Each night while we dined, there was a “duo” playing violin/piano. Sweet lovely sounds filled the room. They were positioned right “above” our table on a raised area. They added a lot to the entire experience. I never did see their faces.
Traveling “just the two of us”, not with friends or in a group of any kind, we wondered what the seating arrangements in the MDR would be, and if our table-mates would be okay with two aging, but fun-loving fairies in their midst. Well, let me just say that the Cruise Gods smiled upon us. We’re a party of six, with a Cuban couple from Florida, and two black women, BFFs, from the Long Beach and Riverside California area, traveling together. They’re all approximately our age, give or take, and most luckily, none of them weighs in at 400 pounds, so we’re not stuck with watching someone eating everything in sight while we guard our plates. What a pretty group we made. Take a look:
The women are great. One, a recent widow, apparently after a long great marriage, travels alone now. And she does it a lot. Very independent, smart, savvy and a great conversationalist. For this cruise she convinced a good friend to come with, and they’re sharing a cabin. The other gal is also bright, well-educated and has a great sense of humor. I should also add…..she’s very funny. We’re having a ball with them.
The Cuban couple is very nice as well. He’s the kind of guy that you want on a cruise ship; he participated in the “sexiest man” contest, (he came in third), got dragged up on stage into the singer’s act in the main theater, etc. In other words, he’s “a player”. His wife is a great sport and has lots of stories, including a collection of “life with the party guy.” All in all, it’s a great table.
Earlier, we had found the posting that the Friends of Dorothy meeting would be in a lounge at the top of the ship, so after dinner we ventured up to the Viking Crown Lounge to see if anyone would show. We met a few gay couples, exchanged pleasantries, sat a few minutes, said our good-nights and headed off to bed.
A word about that same lounge. It turns out, that every night at 11pm, just as we finish dinner (yeah, late, I know), and we’re looking to wander and meet up in fairyland with the others, there is Karaoke going on in that room. Terrifying. Why do people do that? There was one girl who was so terrible I couldn’t help but cluck my teeth. Tch, tch, tch. Kind of like the beginning of 60 Minutes. And I wondered why in the name of all that’s holy, wouldn’t her mate politely say to her, “Oh Honey, maybe you shouldn’t. Let the others do it” and spare her the embarrassment. But he didn’t stop her. Minutes later I found out why. He got up and sang and was worse than she. So in their family, it’s an epidemic. They’re both deluded into thinking that they’re good at it. But…..it’s their vacation too, so I smiled, continued clucking and left on the elevator. We’re going to have to move Dorothy and her friends to another venue.
As the night wore on, we realized that the seas were mightily, outrageously rough. Downright puke-worthy. Mercifully, Husband and I are good seamen (stop the sniggling, it’s a real word…look it up), so we don’t get sick. But we were weaving and rolling with everyone else. Walking sideways in the halls, bumping into people on the buffet lines, spilling things, etc. We thought it would calm down, but it stayed that way for two solid days. Huge heaving seas. People keeping to their cabins for fear of coming out. A lot of Dramamine, wrist-bands, neck patches and pepto were sold in the ship’s store. I heard dozens of people saying it was the roughest seas they’ve ever experienced. Us too, only, as I mentioned, we’re good sailors, so we prevailed. Once we hit the balmy islands, it calmed right down, but everyone was still weaving even after we docked. It was fierce.
This will be a multi-part series about our recent Sea Voyage. Part 1…..
If you click on the photos they get huge.
And so it begins,
We’re on the high seas again. RCCL this time. For ye landlubbers, that’s Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. (What’s up with that? Landlubbers? Is that a real word? Ancient English? Baby talk? Dunno). Anyway…this time it’s 12 days. First, it’s two days at sea to travel WAY south, then six islands in six days, namely Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, St. Vincent and St. Lucia (pronounced Loo-sha, not Loo-see-ah, not Loo-chee-ah, but Loo-sha, thank you very much). The finale is two days at sea to return home. This is actually day three (we’re at sea.) I’ll fill you in briefly on events so far.
Boarding the ship went exceptionally well. Due to the sciatica, they boarded me in a wheelchair, so we bypassed the line and scooted (literally) aboard. We have a tiny room but it is suitable enough. The lobby and public areas are outstanding. Take a look at the Main Hall and the Windjammer Restaurant:
As the days go by, they’ve been adding Christmas (and Hanukkah) decorations everywhere you turn.
Back at the room, our bags hadn’t arrived so we decided on lunch at the buffet. That’s when we made our first vow.
Me: I’m going to go easy the first few days, because it’s a long cruise and I don’t want to be nauseated at the sight of food until very late in the cruise.
Husband: I’m not having any pasta or cheese for the first few days. I’m going to try not to gain weight.
Me: Me too. Let’s go eat.
Walking the ship we noticed two things immediately;
1) There are LOTS of old people. We’re talking Ancient. These people don’t go to visit Ruins on the islands. They saw that stuff when it was new. (I’m actually a young whippersnapper on this cruise, albeit a whippersnapper with sciatica).
2) There are a LOT of people that are…how can I put this delicately?…okay, just say it…FAT.
And I can actually explain both phenomena.
I think the main reason for the seniority of the cruisers in general is that it’s a 12-day-trip and it’s tough for people with school-aged kids to pull them out for so long, especially because Christmas vacation is two weeks after we return. So, most of the 30s/40s crowd is out (except for the occasional newlyweds or someone celebrating a milestone birthday, like 30 or 40 or 50, or even 60. But the majority are retirees who, given the option of being stuck home with nothing to do but stare at one-another for years and years until death, or cruising, the ships win out.
As for the preponderance of the larger set, (marauding herds of barnyard animals foraging at the buffet), the reason is pretty obvious. On this kind of vacation, all food is included, and big people love this concept because if it were pay-as-you-eat, they’d go broke. But with 36 meals included, (for those who are able to contain themselves to three per day), and more if you can’t, it’s a great value for people for whom eating is their avocation.
So here we are, husband and I, afloat with a bunch of oldies and fatties, trying to fit in. I keep telling myself that I don’t belong in either group, but alas, I fear I might just be living a lie, as I probably belong to both.
With our “oaths” in mind, we set out for the lunch buffet and both behaved beautifully. A salad topped with a bit of canned tuna (no mayo), iced tea and a polite “no thank-you” to dessert.
After lunch we toured our new home and found the ship to be very much to our liking. It’s a good size. Not too small, but not one of those gigantic floating cities that are all the rage today. Those ships have a lot of amenities that ours doesn’t, but I wasn’t going to ice-skate, high dive, rock-climb, zip-line or drive golf balls into the sea anyway, in my current state of sciatic decrepitude. And I’m pretty sure I can add ten pounds to my girth without the presence of a Johnny Rocket food outlet. So I’m content with a pool, a gym, a steam/sauna and of course, a quiet lounge to set up my trusty laptop and write. Life is good. I shall not want.
After the tour of the ship, we returned to our room, and unpacked our six bags. (I know what you’re thinking…. Who takes six bags on a cruise ship? Well, people, I do. What can I say? I have issues. Fat and old as I am, I still like to look nice while traveling so I need choices of what to wear and how to present my remains to the general public- at-large (large being the operative word). (Actually, if you’re not carrying food, nobody looks at you. But still, I try to do my best).
After unpacking, the first of many naps-to-come occurred. (The beds are great, btw. You wouldn’t think so to look at them, but they are).
Refreshed, we took a steam and shower at the fitness center. To say the bathroom in our stateroom is tiny, is an understatement. The shower is like trying to clean yourself while in an MRI machine. You really can barely lift your arm to wash yourself. The shower in the gym is much better. Then we dressed for the evening, poured cocktails in the room and headed to the pre-dinner “milling around” areas for our first night to meet fellow cruisers. We had set sail while we were napping and when we awoke, we could feel the movement. It dawned on husband and me that the ship seemed rocky, but we concluded it was a windy day and perhaps it was churning up the sea a bit. Take a look: We’re good sailors so we figured it was no big deal. More about that later.
I should add that most people on cruise ships are happy. They’re on vacation. Oh, you have a small share of miserable husbands who are getting dragged along with wifey on her adventure, when they’d much rather be sitting home, vegging out in front of a series of sporting events on the tube. So they sit, mostly pouting and falling asleep with their mouths open, in the public areas (as I imagine they do in front of their televisions at home), to embarrass and get even with their wives. Husband and I try to avoid those people like poison, as they will just ruin your moments.
I simply must tell you about the food.
To be continued…..
It often comes down to this; the cheese stands alone. If you’ll remember, I’m often the only one outside a trend. Remember how I didn’t know about the Live From The Metropolitan Opera video broadcasts until everyone else was loving them? Or Avatar? Or Titanic? I don’t care for Jackie Evanko, and I think Il Volo is just okay. Well, I’ve been watching Diane Sawyer’s news each night and I realized that the whole Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, I don’t know what the f*ck Sunday, and Cyber Monday have come and gone and I did nothing. I didn’t participate at all. Out of the loop. Sitting on the sidelines. Nada.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
You all know that husband and I don’t do Christmas gifts because it doesn’t work for us on so many levels.
A) I’m Jewish, grew up without the whole process, learned to love the Holidays through the classical music with which they are associated, (i.e. Handel’s Messiah, etc.), married two guys (both Goyim) and I eventually got into the spirit. But being without children, the whole gift thing is really minimized, so as a concept, it’s lovely, I suppose, but there’s not a lot of need for me to be part of the massive throng of animals, er, shoppers busting down the door in a mall to get a deal on an HD TV, and take my life in my hands to save a hundred bucks. Sorry, that’s just not who I am.
B) Husband is a gentile, but like his Jewish partner, has pretty much renounced religion as a participant, so he enjoys a nice display of lights, Andrea Bocelli singing Silent Night, (I’m a Streisand guy, but you know that), but the whole gift thing is behind him.
As a couple, we buy what we need or want as we deem necessary or fit. No need to save it all up for one morning in December, in South Florida, where there isn’t even winter, much less chestnuts roasting on an open fire. (By the way, Broward county law prohibits open fires anyway, not to be too curmudgeonly about it).
So when I saw billions in sales both in stores and online I felt kindof bad. I felt as if I hadn’t done my part to boost the economy of Walmart and Sears. But then I found a solution. We are going on that cruise this Monday, and you can always use a few niceties when you’re being wined and dined for 12 days, So we went out on So Sad You Missed The Economic Miracle,You Lazy, Cheap Bastard Tuesday, and bought some socks and underwear for the cruise.
I feel better.
It’s me again. Old man sciatica, checking in. How have you been?
Yeah, sad to say, I’m still gimping along. I’m so UP TO HERE with it all, I can’t begin, so don’t get me started. Well, actually, I’ve already started, so just a bit more. I think it might be almost over. There have been some developments. Sit, let’s discuss.
Since last I complained to you about the endless, ceaseless, relentless pain in my right leg I did two things:
1) I went for yet another MRI to see what’s up, and
2) I’ve begun acupuncture, (combined with Reiki). Acupuncture I think you all know. But for the uninitiated, Reiki is also a mysterious Asian concept whereby the practitioner moves your energy around in your body, (without touching you, I might add), aligns your Yin and your Yang, your Chakra and aids in your general well-being. Yeah, (sigh), I know. Sounds strange. But here’s the deal. It’s helping. I see these ladies twice a week, (The one with the needles and the one with the….well….hands), and they do their voodoo on me and jeez Louise, I’m better. Not all better but MUCH better. (I call them my Witches of Eastwick…..to their faces, actually). They chuckle and continue with their Magic Arts. So I’m thinking pretty soon it’ll all be over.
Not so fast Kemosabe.
Back to #1.
The MRI revealed a bulbous area in my spine; L5/L6 yada yada. Surgery is called for. My reaction? HUH? But what about the witches and their magic power? The surgeon assured me that yes, they can ease the pain, but one day I’ll step off a curb, or lift a suitcase and the entire thing will start over. (Clutch the pearls. I can’t do this again.) So I’ve scheduled surgery.
Fear not. He assured me it’s a tiny procedure; a little slit, some scraping, a microscope to guide him, no scar tissue, sew me up and pat me on my sore piriformis muscle and send me on my way. Pain gone. (We hope).
So after our upcoming vacation, (yes, the annual cruise is upon us, complete with stories of our adventures, and of course, my favorite, the baby lamb chops), he’s going to fix me up. Hopefully, the ten pounds I gain on the cruise won’t get in the way.
The resolution of the tale won’t be until December 20.
In the meantime, stay tuned for Tales of the South Pacific…..okay, not really. It’s Tales of the Southern Caribbean. Close enough.
I know. It sounds like a sad title, but actually I meant the Republican Party. Oh it still exists. Just ask John Boner. (Did I spell his name correctly?) You know, the Speaker of the House? He’s still spitting fire and brimstone and claiming that Obama didn’t actually win, because, you see, the House stayed Republican. So he’s interpreting that as “the people really love the Republicans, deep down.” Can you spell delusional?
You know I don’t get political because, what’s the point? There’s really only one party that’s not completely insane. But I have a few thoughts.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
My first thought is that contrary to what POTUS says, there really are red states and blue states. Lots of them. Fifty to be exact, with many Congressional districts. And the Reds outnumber the Blues by quite a few. (Okay, they’re not very populated, but they exist. So if you add up Congressional districts nationwide, they have more than we do. So there’s more Congressmen from Red states. Geez, that’s just math.) But the Blue states, which are more populated, especially by educated people, have more Electoral Votes so we win the Presidency. Are you following this?
So Obama wins, and Boner (did I spell his name correctly?) thinks that he won. Hmmm. Sad, ain’t it?
The Monday morning quarterbacks, the pundits, the masters of political speak, the so-called “experts”, from BOTH parties are unanimous in why Mittens didn’t win. Ready? THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH MIDDLE-AGED WHITE GUYS LEFT IN AMERICA. Seriously. Once you alienate Latinos, Gays, Blacks, and other minorities, and most especially WOMEN, good luck getting elected dog-catcher. (Which is an appropriate euphemism because Mitt actually did catch the dog and put him on the roof of the car). So Mr. Romney lost. Oh, the popular vote was close, but he was CREAMED in the Electoral. Oh well.
And yet Boner, thinks it was a victory. (Did I spell his name correctly?)
So now, Obama, who does not have to get re-elected, (can’t actually), can get right up in Boner’s face and tell him politely, (POTUS is nothing if not polite), to FUCK OFF. I hope he does. I hope he doesn’t cave in to hostage demands from a party with no relevance anymore. Let’s all go off the “fiscal cliff” (really? hyperbole much?) together, and see who’s not around in two years.
Hold your ground Mr. President. The nation has spoken, and we’ve got your back. After all, we did win this one.
It’s time again. Election season. I usually don’t do political, but I have few things on my mind. After all, a lot has transpired since the primaries. I mean, a WHOLE LOT! Since then we’ve had serious activity on the campaign trail, such as advertising which began nicely enough and then devolved into political one-upmanship, (is that a word? ), followed by an increase in tone and fervor and then by dubious accusations and allegations, and finally lies and hearsay, all capped with vitriol and hatred (paid for by political PAC committees. (Nice job, SCOTUS). Then we had one Presidential debate and another between the VP and his would-be usurper. And now, here we are, only a mere couple of weeks until the big day.
A moment about those debates. The third one is this week. In the first Prez debate, I thought Obama was off his game, didn’t do right in the eyes of his constituents, and essentially snoozed through it. When he did make points, they were good, but his crowd in the stands was screaming for blood-pudding and he gave them creme brulee`. Romney, although he clearly gave the better performance, filled it with sophomoric attempts at weaving fiction into facts, and essentially lied his way through it. It was Mitt’s debate equivalent of Lance Armstrong doping his way to victory. (I just hope it doesn’t take ten years to call Mittens out and disqualify him). But I will say he looked great, spoke authoritatively and was convincing, especially to the people who think that Obama’s best asset is that he’s not too black.
After the debate, the poll numbers shifted, Obama’s team panicked and they pumped-up old Joe B up for the next round.
In the VP debate, Joe Biden came out laughing. Er, I mean swinging. Personally, I think he won handily, but to hear the talking heads, (who don’t want this to be over until every last advertising dollar has been milked up to election night), it was kind of a draw. (Draw? Malarkey! Joe kicked his lyin’-sack-of-shit butt.) Even Ryan knew it. He had that deer-in-the-headlights look more than once. And he drank a lot of water. (Probably to re-hydrate from the sweating due to the ass-whoopin’ he was getting.)
There are still two more debates to come, both with the top ticket guys. Obama’s pissed. He’s crammin’ like a college senior who needs to play the final game but is failing chemistry. (The difference is, he can take performance enhancing drugs if he wants to. Who’s going to ask him to pee in a cup? You? Me? Jim Lehrer? I think not. Okay, Martha Raddatz, maybe.) Can’t make Romney pee in a cup either. Can’t even get him to release his tax returns. Can’t even get him to let his dog ride in the car. So the game is on. My money is on Prez.
Most of us know where we stand on the issues, on the choice of a man, on the future of our nation, on our destiny and on our vote. But all of this hoopla is because of the undecided; that pesky 3% of the voters who remain undecided even after all we’ve been through, who can possibly still be swayed and need to be convinced to consider making a choice, while, to the rest of us, it was unbearably clear, painfully obvious on the day Mitt declared his candidacy. I mean, what is wrong with these people? They can’t decide? I’m NEVER going out to dinner with them. Imagine them with a menu in their hands with dozens of choices. WTF? I’d be home watching re-runs of Gomer Pyle before they chose the Salisbury Steak or the Meatloaf. Mashed potatoes or baked? OMG! I’m thinking they must eat alone a lot. If they order tea, please don’t ask them “milk or lemon, one lump or two.” Can you picture them in a shoe store? You’re kidding, right? Pick a pair of shoes? From all these available? I’ll need another four years, please.
But the beat goes on. You see, if the networks give up now and declare Obama will most likely win based on current trends, then people will stop watching, and all available advertising dollars for networks will shift to Dancing with the Bachelorette, or The Biggest Voice, or So You Think You Can….Go Down to the Jersey Shore with the Kardashians. Shows like that. So they’ll keep reporting the election as neck and neck until election day at 11:00PM when Obama is declared the winner. Just sayin’.)
Oh, and for the record? I’m Davidk and I approved this message.
I’ve been thinking. (Not always a good thing), and I’ve come to the realization that as old as I am, and as savvy as I am, and as smart as I (think) I am, there are just so many things that I simply don’t understand.
I can explain to you why snow geese fly in a V formation. I can tell you the difference in the preparation of garlic dill pickles vs. bread and butter pickles. I can hear eight measures of an opera and tell you that it’s Rossini and not Bellini. Honestly. I can. But for all that I know, there are just some things that I cannot fathom. Understand. Grok. Things, the logic of which just slip by unnoticed and the world goes on and I’m left in a state of bewilderment. I’d like to mention a few. Sit. Let’s discuss.
1) Justin Bieber. Oh, I know who he is and I’ve heard him sing, and as kids go, I suppose I’d have to admit, curmudgeon that I am, that he has a modicum of talent. And he’s a cute kid too. So I can see the young girls, (‘tweens, I think they call them these days), liking his music and perhaps his youthful sex-appeal, in an adolescent kind of way. Ok. Here it comes. I don’t understand why he’s so crazy popular that he can no longer land in an airport for fear that crazed teen-aged girls will riot and destroy large aircraft in an attempt to get close to him. Or why riot police have to be called BEFORE he comes on stage, and why concerts are cancelled because the frenzy is just too much to try to control. Bieber? Really?
Now, I remember the beginning of the Beatles (hey, I said I was old), and along with that came the screaming girls, so deafening, that in concert you couldn’t even hear the Fab Four. Just the screaming. But those girls didn’t overturn vehicles, or shut down commerce and industry. They mostly just swooned, and the dutiful paramedics put smelling salts under their noses and revived them, so as to enable them to continue the frenzy. (Ah, the old days).
I’ve been in a stadium with 80,000 excited fans watching Barbra Streisand,
and the only thing that comes to the mob-mind is that the stadium could use a little color. Perhaps be redecorated. Some carpeting, drapes, perhaps a sconce or two. (Well it is a special kind of crowd). But violence? Never.
When did love of a singer turn destructive? I don’t get it.
2) I’ve mentioned before that I throw like a girl, and that sports is my last category to choose on Jeopardy. Sports are huge. Big money, big fan base, big excitement.
Soccer is popular in South America. And I understand that 100,000 people will pack a stadium and cheer and scream and paint their faces in team colors and have a ball. What I don’t get is, again, it suddenly erupting into violence, with stampedes, fences being torn down, fans being trampled and death and destruction running rampant, all because the guys didn’t kick the ball quite right and maybe missed a goal. Really? Death and violence over a kick-ball match. Really? I don’t get it. Can anybody explain it to me?
Alas, I meant to mention a lot of things I don’t get, but I’ve already gone long, so here are another quick few:
4) I don’t get daily Cialis. Is an impotent man supposed to take this every day and then walk around in a perpetual state of “I’m ready to f*ck something?” Should he be thinking: “Oh look, the barista in Starbucks is hot! I should show her my boner”. Is that it? Really?
5) I don’t get electronic steam cigarettes.
Isn’t the purpose of quitting smoking (aside from the health reasons) to be able to walk through life without a “smoking thing” between your index and middle finger? Shouldn’t we be trying to break that behavior so that we’re not yearning for a real cigarette for the rest of our lives? I don’t get it.
6) I love electronic gadgets. You know I do. But I don’t get camping out on in a line on the sidewalk for a week, sleeping in the heat and cold and rain, with nasty teeth that haven’t been brushed for days, and clothes that have now been worn for 96 hours, just to be among the first to get a new iPhone. I mean, it will be there next week. And the week after. And it isn’t even the best phone anymore, it’s just a good phone. And you already have a perfectly wonderful phone that you’ve been chatting and texting on the entire time you’ve been on the line. (Look at the guy in the very front.) So it isn’t as if this is suddenly your lifeline. But there you are. Standing on the line. For a week. For an iPhone. Really? I don’t get it.
There are lots more things, but I think I’ll stop for now. Perhaps I’ll come back to this topic another day.
In the meantime, I think I’ll sit back, quietly, gently, and listen to Justin Bieber.
It’s that time of year again. School for the youngsters has started, those hulking giant men are out there again in those shoulder pads and tight pants playing football. (Remind me again why men in shoulder pads and tight capri pants is not drag?), leaves are changing colors, snowbirds are arriving and are beginning to annoy us native Floridians, and of course, the new TV season is upon us. There’s lots of new fodder out there as well as returning favorites. Now, we’re a very diverse nation with a broad taste spectrum, so the networks, at least, offer various selections. Some good, others, well…..sit. Let’s discuss.
First up, the much touted Go On, with Matthew Perry. I saw the pilot today. A one-word review of said pilot would be “Eh”. “So-so”. (two words?) The premise is a smarty-mouth wise-guy, whose wife died a month ago, and who is eager to get back to his sportscasting job, whose station manager forces him to go to grief counseling against his wishes. He goes, encounters the usual sitcom assortment of zanies, banter ensues, the group gels, (sort of ), and a series is born. Perry is ok. I’ve always liked him, but he is mostly still Chandler Bing from Friends. The assorted grief-stricken members of the group are a waste. There isn’t a funny one, an endearing one, or a charming one in the bunch. By the end of the half-hour I didn’t give a rat’s ass if they healed or not. The writing was basic, with a few flourishes where I actually smiled, but unless the second one picks up big time, I’ll take a pass. Grade: C
Next is a show called Nat and Kate. Premise: A 15-year old girl, mature for her age has a brother who is a tyke trapped in the body of her older sibling. He’s just a spitball looking for a wall. She gets knocked-up at 15, has the baby and is raising it by herself while her immature brother is having a series of adolescent adventures around the country. He pops in from time to time be zany and annoying. By the end of the pilot, he decides to stick around and help her raise the 5-year old child. (When he himself is mentally barely older than that). The leading lady is Dakota Johnson, spawn of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. Pretty girl and not a bad actress. The madcap brother is channeling something between Ross on Friends and Jerry Lewis. (Yeah, THAT Jerry Lewis). It was annoying in three minutes. Writing was a little clever, so it might blossom, but they’ll have to tone down the annoying leading man. Grade: C.
The last one for tonight is called The Mindy Project. I can only say, “I must not be getting it. I must be outside the loop. No way”.
They tell me she was a supporting player on The Office, (I confess, I’ve never seen it, but I’ve heard great things, mostly about the writing). Now she’s graduated to the star of her own sitcom. So she probably has a following.
Premise: A 31-year-old girl, raised on romantic Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan comedies, with an underlying “happily ever after” desire, is:
a) a slut
b) a drunk
c) an ob/gyn doctor.
I’m not kidding. I should mention, that for the first time in my memory, the leading lady is Indian. (You know me, I’m not good at this. She might be Pakistani. or Afghani or from Tajikistan. (Bet you didn’t think I could spell that last one, did ya?) She looks like she could have been in Slumdog Millionaire). Anyway, she’s not funny, not very pretty, and a completely reprehensible character, jumping into bed with anyone that might be a potential mate, and getting drunk when it doesn’t work out. (There was actually a scene where she was passed out on the carpet, someone woke her to say one of her patients was in labor, and she ran through the streets in last night’s dress, (the walk of shame), running in high heels, only to wash her hands in the hospital and change into scrubs to deliver a baby and then bask in the glow of her “good deed”, when actually THAT’S HER FUCKING JOB!!!
I needed smelling salts. This is arguably the worst piece of drivel ever. I’ll give it three weeks. If the run is longer than last season’s Playboy Club, I’ll shriek. Grade F.
(There is always the possibility that I’m really not understanding what they’re selling and it becomes a runaway hit of the season. After all, I couldn’t have predicted American Idol would run 20 years, so…..)
I’ll watch a few more and report back in a bit. What are you all watching? Anything good that I’m missing? Because so far, I’m 0 for 3.
I can’t wait for Revenge, Glee, New Girl, Once Upon A Time and Smash. But then, that’s just me.
We all know words that begin with the letters EPI. Take, for instance, epicenter, which is a point, directly above the true center of disturbance, mostly used concerning earthquakes, but sometimes used otherwise, as in that rascal is the epicenter of all of the unrest. You see, the use of EPI denotes a point. Moving on.
Epidermis. The thin protective outer layer of the skin, composed of stratified epithelial tissue. (I’ll leave the pronounciation of epithelial to you). But essentially it’s the skin before you hit the dermis, or the point of entry into the skin.
Then there’s Epi Pen; that device that diabetics or allergics carry, so that if perhaps, they wander past a five-year-old eating a peanut butter sandwich, or they cross stingers with a bumblebee, they may avert the onset of an anaphylactic attack of some kind, and administer the medicine to a point on the skin.
(I know, it’s a biology lesson. I didn’t like it either but I needed it for the telling of tonight’s tale.)
So the EPI in question tonight, is an Epidural, as in an injection of anaesthetic into the space outside the dura mater enveloping the spinal cord. (Can I get a “yikes” right about now?) Sit, let’s discuss.
This is a continuation of The Saga of The Sciatica, in case you didn’t see it coming. Yeah. I’m still fucking hobbling around. (Pardon the cuss words, but if you had this goddamn thing as long as I have, I promise you’d understand). Children, skip over that word.
In desperation, after several Cortisone shots to my ass, my hip, and my thigh, my new doctor, decided to opt for something new. (I should add here, that my new pain doctor is young, gorgeous and looks to be 19. Upon our first meeting I actually said to him: What are you, some kind of Doogie Howser? Are you old enough to be a doctor? He chuckled and said, yes, I’m 35. To which I responded, Are you old enough to be a doctor? He smiled…..I puddled. Can’t help it. At my age anybody young is just, well…..never mind. Back to the story.
He decided to do an Epidural. Now some of you ladies who might have gone through a difficult childbirth might know about this, but us guys, not so much. I always thought that it was a shot and you went numb from the waist down, so that you wouldn’t feel the bowling ball shooting out of what used to be your very tight vagina. (Too much? Did I cross a line here? Let me know.) and that after getting the shot I might possibly never walk again; to be forever consigned to a wheelchair, like Miss Jane Froman in that movie “With A Song In My Heart” and I’d spend my life in a chair, singing. Or like Baby Jane Hudson, destined to be tortured and fed rats. (God, sometimes I’m just so dramatic, I can’t believe it myself). No, seriously, I thought that with one shot; one dangerous shot, if I survived intact, I’d walk again, pain free, and trip the light fantastic and be all better.
Not so fast, Kemosabe.
The procedure, (that famous word), is peculiar. They had me lie face down on a table with my ass out.
(Funny story here).
I asked the nice nurse, as I lay face down with my ass out in all its glory for all the world to see, the following question:
Me: Um, do you see a lot of ass in this job?
She: Yes. I do.
Me: After a while, do they kind of seem all the same?
She: Yes, they do.
Me: Ever see the occasional hot ass?
She: Not anymore. They’re all pretty much cheeks and a crack.
Me: Thank you for that.
She: Don’t mention it. (And if I’m not mistaken, she might have chuckled. But again, I was face down, so…..)
But first, he proceeded to inject me with a numbing agent, promising that if he did that first, I wouldn’t feel the Epidural. (I believe he was chuckling to himself at how much the goddamn needle for the xylocaine was going to hurt). Having numbed me up back there, he used guided x-ray imagery to find the “X marks the spot” area,
and finally, when he injected the foot-long into my cheek, I actually didn’t feel it. (He said it was “just a little prick”.) I, graciously, didn’t take offense at that, considering my pants were down. I hoped he meant the needle.
So, minutes later, it was over. I pulled up my pants and hobbled out. He said it would take a day or three to know if it helped. I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, I’m still pondering the “little prick” comment.
I know. Racy title tonight. Trust me, I’m 62, which is old, and a little feeble, and worn down by sciatica, so when I tell you it’s not a sexual title, take my word for it.
No, it’s more about this past weekend’s activities in South Florida, a/k/a Tropical Storm Isaac. Don’t you love it? A biblical name. Could be Jewish, (There was a Jewish Isaac, way back when. You know, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob….that whole tribe). Or, it could be a good Christian name or even Mormon. Those Mormons love their biblical names. For example, Mitt Romney has five sons and three of them are Matthew, Joshua and Benjamin, Tagg and Craig being the others. I don’t get Tagg. Maybe he was named after a sale they had in the driveway, one cold poor winter. (Oh, I’m sorry, dopey me, the Romneys didn’t have cold poor winters. They never had cold poor anything). And as for Craig?…..maybe Job had a kid named Craig that we don’t know about. I’ll come back to that.
Anyway, there was this tropical storm for the past few days, and I must say, even though we didn’t take a direct hit, it certainly messed up the ‘hood, if you know what I mean. First of all, it’s been raining since Thursday, and today is Monday. Then there are the outer bands, which carry the gusts and the rain that comes down sideways. (I’m sure you’ve all seen sideways rain, but not nearly as often as we do in the Sunshine State. (Ironic, no?) The wind knocked down a few of my bushes and shrubs and there were other neighborhoods that had downed trees and pretty substantial flooding. We got through it ok, (my windows in my house are filthy from the rain), and there’s tree crap all over the streets, but I’m glad to say there is no damage.
The reason I bring up Isaac, aside from the fact that we just took a wallop, is that it’s convention season for both political parties. Normally I don’t do pieces relating to politics even though everyone knows that I’m an avowed Dem, and if you don’t like it, then…. oh well, you’re probably not reading this anyway. But I wanted to bring up the storm in the contect of political activity. You’ll see the connection in a moment. Sit, let’s discuss.
Now I don’t know if you remember, but seven years ago, (almost to the day), when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, several people of prominence opined harshly about God’s wrath and vengeance. Here are a couple of memorable quotes:
1) Minister Louis Farrakan asserted that Hurricane Katrina was God’s way of punishing America for its warmongering and racism. Said Farrakhan, Maybe God ain’t pleased. Maybe this caste system that pits us against each other has to be destroyed and something new and better put in its place. (Like a lesson in grammar, perhaps).
2) Ovadia Yosef, a prominent ultra-Orthodox Israeli rabbi, declared Hurricane Katrina to be God’s punishment for President Bush’s support of the August 2005 withdrawal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip. He added that black people died because they did not study the Torah. (Those pesky Blacks. Can anybody explain why they aren’t studying Torah? Hmmm.) Here’s another:
3) Pat Robertson implied on the September 12th broadcast of The 700 Club that the hurricane was God’s punishment in response to America’s abortion policy. (I know what your’e thinking. People like Pat Robertson are a great argument FOR abortion). And of course my favorite:
4) American evangelist John Hagee linked the hurricane to a gay pride event known as Southern Decadence Day which was to have been held in the town’s French Quarter a few days after the hurricane hit. He said in 2006, I believe that New Orleans had a level of sin that was offensive to God, and they are — were — recipients of the judgment of God for that. The newspaper carried the story in our local area, that was not carried nationally, that there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came. (So now we know why Katrina hit New Orleans. The title of this piece is starting to make sense now, isn’t it?)
So here we are, on a Monday night, with Tropical Storm Isaac bearing down on Tampa, Florida with all of its flooding, winds, wrath and fury. Does anyone know what’s going on in Tampa this week? Only the Republican National Convention where they will nominate their candidate, Mitt Romney, for President of the United States. And there are over 100,000 Republicans and Tea Partiers gathered for the festivities.
I, for one, wonder what God is trying to tell us now?
I know. You’re thinking, because of the title, that tonight will be a fashion blog featuring the above-named famous store. Not so fast, kemosabe. Rather, it’s about the state of our so-called Democracy.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
It’s August 18th. The primary election was four days ago. Here’s how it went. Flashback…..
So here we are, August 13, 2012. Tomorrow is the primary election, of which I am the Clerk of the Precinct, in charge of a staff of six in their various positions.
I did my “pre-election” stuff today…..took husband, who is my VST (Voting System Technician, for those who don’t know), to the precinct and set up the room. It was in an elementary school library. I think we did a very nice job. This is the Evid machine. (Electronic Voter ID). This is where you check in.
These are the private voting booths, where democracy is executed, standing like an army in defense of our liberty. (Lump in your throat, anyone?)
This is husband’s station. The most important one. (Where we actually scan and tally the votes). After having verified that the room was ready, I came home and called my staff, to touch base. Everyone was pretty comfortable with her role in the process. (Yes, a team of women). I think we’re good to go.
Tuesday, August 14th. Election day.
Husband and I arise early, (freakishly early…..like 4:00 a.m.), fix a supply of food and beverage in coolers and tote bags, sufficient to sustain us (mostly me, I’m the fat one), for a 14-hour day, and arrive at the polling place at 5:30. (We’ve brought breakfast, lunch, snacks like potato chips and popcorn and Fiber One bars, and dark chocolate M&M peanuts, diet cokes, etc.) Staff arrives, we do opening ceremonies, (actually there’s a huge checklist of activities to be done before 7:00 a.m. opening time) and steel ourselves for the onslaught of citizens, whom we anticipate will show up to voice their opinions, flex their collective electoral muscles, cast their votes and elevate various ordinary people to positions of authority; i.e. Senators, School board members, Judges, Clerks of Court, etc. I must say, this being my first time, I was a little verklempt at both the responsibility that I’ve undertaken and just watching my country….my homeland….my democracy in action.
We had our first voter at exactly 7:00 a.m. It was like the white sale at Filene’s Basement. He was waiting at the door at 7. I was excited.
An hour and 40 minutes later, our second voter arrived. In between the two, my staff and I became BFFs, and husband and I drank coffee and ate yummy omeletes that he had made and that we brought with us. It was a little boring, but the staff, all of whom had done this before assured me that there would be a “lunch rush”.
Two hours later, (having watched The Manchurian Candidate, the movie, on my ipod touch…..I figured it was a political movie so it was appropriate), our third voter arrived. It was just around 11:00 a.m. By now, sitting for hours with two of my workers who are Haitian, and were chosen, I suppose for their bi-lingual skills, I found myself singing along in Patois with the Creole Gospel music on one of the ipods. (Some seriously catchy tunes, I might add).
Husband brought an 1,100 page novel, Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, read about 300 pages, decided it was a tad too Paul Ryan and just a little too dystopian for his taste, and tossed it in the trash. (He then covered it with crumpled paper towels, so as not to influence any stray voters that might dig through our garbage.) He did all of that by noon.
And so it went.
By the end of the day, in a precinct with over 700 registered voters, the grand tally was 34 votes. Say it with me. WTF? That’s it? 34 freakin’ votes? Less than five percent? Yep. Pretty much.
Can you spell despair? Can you spell disappointment? I’m just sad. But I finally understand the state of the nation. Why Congress is deadlocked, why the POTUS can’t get anything done, why the same corrupt people get elected over and over. The reason is:
NOBODY GIVES A SHIT!
Hence the title of tonight’s selection. We live in a society where a mere 5% of the populace elects our leaders. And if the 5% who show up are horrible, or assholes, or ignorant, well that’s just tough titties. We, the people, LOSE.
What can we take away from this experience? Well, I, for one, am definitely working all elections from now on. If the turnout is going to be that pitiful, then I at least want to know that there’s no hanky-panky on top of it, and with nobody showing up, that’s very possible. So count me in.
The other thing, dear reader, is that I, as the Clerk, demand that you vote. Aside from participating in your own democracy, I was bored as crap! Fourteen hours is a very long day, and even I, have to stop eating at some point. I think I gained two pounds! So get out there and vote, for cryin’ out loud and give me something to do.
I thank you.
Short one tonight. I have good news and bad news.
We always want to hear the bad news first. That way, no matter how sad or disturbed or perturbed (or other “urbed” word) we are, there’s a high note at the end; the good news. So here goes.
I’m probably going to skip a week or two of writing my insanity; er…sorry…..my observations. That’s it. That’s the bad news. (Lordy, Lordy, I hope that’s bad news). You see, it’s because I’m busy. (That wasn’t so bad now, was it?).
There’s something big going on.
Ok. Now for the good news.
I don’t know if you remember, but about two years ago I announced that I was writing the Great American Novel. (Well, a novel, anyway). And then about a year later, I announced that I had finished it and that I was in the process of trying to get it published, and found myself in the most excellent of company, namely John Steinbeck and J.K. Rowling, both of whom had rejection slips to their credit. Well guess what? (I’m thinking with a build-up like that, you’ll all surely have guessed by now). My novel is about to be published. Yeah, for real. Say it with me…..OMG! There’s a little more to it than I actually realized. There’s submission of the manuscript, (don’t you love it? I get to say manuscript.) Then there’s the photo art for the cover, and author’s biography, and acknowledgements, and author’s picture for the back cover, and publicity stuff, and press releases etc. I kindof knew all this, but it knocked me for a loop when they laid it out. (Not to mention upcoming appearances on Ellen, Oprah (on her stupid channel, OWN…..damn, nobody watches that!), and of course Katie Couric, on her new show in September.) Ok, I made up that entire last part about the appearances. We’ll just have to wait and see about that. Also, I’m hoping for Steven Colbert’s show. He’s always so kind to his guests.)
The process of getting it out there takes upwards of four weeks until Amazon and Barnes and Noble have it available.
So I just wanted to let you know, that if you don’t see a new post for a week or two, it’s not because I’ve lost interest the in the little people. Or that I’ve moved on to fame, glory and stardom; you know, shopping for new digs in Beverly Hills or lunching with Amy Tan, or discussing movie rights with Tate Taylor (he directed The Help, you know). No, it just that I’m busy as all get-out. So I promise I’ll be back soon with tales of life in the fast-(publishing)-lane.
Oh, and when it actually is ready to go public, I’ll give you the details. Just in case you might want to give it a look-see.
Now I really must run. John Stewart is on line one and I really must take his call. He gets puffy if you keep him waiting…..
I’ve written many times about the dog; my girl, my first born, my baby, Savannah.
She’s a love, you know. She’s going on 16. In dog years, that’s….I don’t know…..do the math. (Something like 112 years old). And I’m not going to try to convince you that come next week she’s going to win the 100 meter sprint in London, even if there actually were doggie Olympics. She’s a good ol’ girl and I know, deep down, at 16, it’s almost over. But I’m not going to get all maudlin tonight. No, no. I’d rather tell of a funny thing that happened today when I ran out of her heart worm pills. I give her one on the first of every month and as of September 1st, I’m out. Order more, right? Sounds easy, no? Not so fast, kemosabe. Meandering through the canine health system is no easier than the people one. It’s a challenge.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
She had her last checkup about 18 months ago. All’s well for an old gal. She’s up-to-date on her shots and good to go. So I went online and ordered the six-pack of heart worm pills. (I don’t mean to be negative here, but I’m not convinced she’ll be around long enough for the twelve-pack). So I ordered, gave the credit card, clicked, and got the confirmation.
All good so far.
A minute later I got an email stating that my veterinarian needs to fax a prescription for the pills in order to fill the order. Puzzled, I called the online pharmacy (I guess I’ll call it that, but it seemed like a funny request, considering you can buy Viagra, Cialis, Valium, Oxycontin etc, online without a prescription.) So after a brief discussion I ascertained that indeed, they would not release the pills without a prescription and the only way to get the scrip is if she visits the vet and has a heart worm test. If she tests negative, she can have the pills.
(Now I can’t speak for you, but my bullshit detector was screaming! )
It went something like this:How, in the name of Holy Beggin’ Strips, could she have heart worm, if, for fifteen years she’s been taking a heart worm pill? And if she does have heart worm, what was the point of the pills? And if she needs a heart worm check because she might have heart worm (since her last checkup), then why would I buy more pills? And again, if she does have heart worm, am I entitled to fifteen years worth of refund? And where are the other dogs that have taken the pills and have heart worm anyway, and where do I sign up for the class-action lawsuit?
So I called the vet and they told me the same thing. She’s old now, so it’s even more important to check her for it. Ok, class, say it with me.
Epiphany. Times are tough and I can’t get the pills without lining the pocket of the vet. Maybe he needs a new car or something? The dog doesn’t even need to see the good doctor, just pay for the test. (It all smacks of greed and mendacity to me.) So here’s my quandary; do I take her to the vet, pay the freight and buy more pills, even though they are apparently useless? Do I say, she’s 16, and even if she does get heart worm does it matter? I mean the simple truth is that when an 80-year old man gets prostate cancer, they don’t do anything about it. He’ll most likely die of something else before the cancer does anything to him.
I’m thinking it always comes back to the referral. The part I can’t believe is that the dog doesn’t even have Medicare and I’m STILL having to do this. Oh, the indignity.
While I’m on the subject, I heard this story the other day as well.
Friends of mine also have an old dog. The difference is theirs is diabetic, and as such, needs special prescription dog food as well as insulin shots on a daily basis. (I should add here that I can’t even imagine giving myself a shot every day, much less the dog). But they’re devoted to the pooch and administer the daily shot and buy the food at Wal-mart, with prescription in hand, because it’s astronomically expensive everywhere…..except for Wal-mart.
So, recently they went to get dog food, not realizing that the prescription had no refills. As a result, Wal-mart needed to fax the vet to get a new scrip to fill the order. And I swear to you, my friends stood and waited in Wal-mart for a fax from the vet, to buy freakin’ dog food, as customer after customer got their Oxycontin, Cialis and Ambien scrips filled, (so that they could get high, get hard, or drive while asleep).….all while Wal-Mart is keeping the world safe from old, rogue, diabetic dogs eating and abusing prescription kibble, without a prescription, roaming the countryside, terrorizing what? Squirrels? Mice? Is the Wal-Mart pharmacy motto something like: We will dole out quaaludes to the masses while we dutifully keep those pesky dogs from abusing their kibbles and bits? I don’t know about you, but I definitely feel like we’ve fallen off the beam somewhere along the way.
As my southern friends are wont to say: You can’t fix stupid.
So my girl and I are going to grow old gracefully together, and I will not allow bureaucracy, stupidity, red-tape or inefficiency to mar her very golden years. She’s been way too good a girl, for way to long, to suffer such indignities.
One week later.
P.S. Since I wrote the above, I found a very accommodating pharmacy online (in Australia, if you must know), that will dispense the same pills she’s been taking for 15 years…..without a prescription. So I ordered some and, stupidity notwithstanding, I’ll continue to administer them. And I guess the veterinarian will have to find someone else to chip in for his Mercedes.
Are you watching? The Olympics, I mean. Aren’t they exciting? And from London, England; a country that we actually like! Sort of.
A note here.
I’ve mentioned many times that I am not a sports person. I couldn’t make a fist until I was thirty. I throw like a girl. (And I don’t mean a butch lesbian, I mean a 12-year-old girl). Even other gay man sniggle when I throw. And years roll by without my ever tuning in to a sporting event…..except for the Olympics. There are a few categories of which I am truly fond, and I follow, and hoot and root for the home team every 4 years. I love the gymnastics, the swimming and the diving. The rest? Not so much. There are sports I simply do not understand. Like those women with the batons and the ribbons? WTF? How does that compete with track and field or even archery? And how about synchronized swimming? Lovely girls in the pool, smiling with a mouthful of water? Not for me, thanks. Let the games begin!
So I watched the opening ceremonies and I noticed some seriously strange things. I mean really odd.
Sit. Let’s discuss.
The opening ceremonies began wonderfully enough with the whole historical British concept, directed by Danny Boyle, and it was, I must say, lovely. (Although it wasn’t quite up to four years ago in Beijing, IMHO.) I won’t opine on the actual show. It was entertaining enough, especially that whole James Bond/Queen Elizabeth segment. I enjoyed it immensely.
Then came the parade of nations, which I like, although we can all admit, it’s a tad LOOOOOOOOOONG.
So, here are a few observasions about that same parade:
1) Did anyone else notice that the athletes from American Samoa were wearing these polyester sarongs? I’m guessing it was supposed to look like silk, but any gay man worth his beads could see the shimmering of that godforsaken fabric on a plasma TV. We own that country, no? Can’t we do better than that? (It turns out our own team was dressed in Ralph Lauren, manufactured in China. Oh the indignity).
2) Nauru had a total Olympic presence of two competing athletes while Australia has 410. Hmmmm. (Nauru? Nauru is a small, oval-shaped island in the western Pacific Ocean, 42 kilometres south of the Equator.) In case you didn’t know. See photo:
3) I did not know that the country I learned in grammar school, known as British Honduras is now Belize. (And I’ve been there!) Duh!!! Did you all now that already? Is this yet one more example of the cheese stands alone?
4) There is a country named Comoros? Really? I mean, really? Hold on…..I have to google that.
Comoros is a sovereign, archipelago island nation in the Indian Ocean, located off the eastern coast of Africa, on the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between northeastern Mozambiqueand northwestern Madagascar. Other countries near to the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast. The capital is Moroni on Grande Comore. Take a look.
Don’t you love the internet. God bless Al Gore. (BTW, it looks lovely there.)
Anyway, it’s the third smallest African nation, by area. So now we know.
I could go on. As you can see, I’m only in the C’s. I watched a long time but fell asleep right after Kazakhstan.. (There were a lot of countries and I’m old, ok?)
The next day I caught video of Paul McCartney crooning Hey Jude and I was as verklempt as Sir Paul. It was a lovely moment, with the entire world chanting, na, na na na-na-na-na, hey Jude. ( They don’t write lyrics like that anymore.)
Today is day two already, and there’s been a lot of swimming, diving and some lesbian women shooting guns at something called a skeet. (Hey, I said I only liked a few events).
So the women’s gymnastics and women’s synchronized diving are on at this very minute, and I need to go watch. I love those beautiful, fresh-faced, young women and their athletic prowess. I actually kvell. They make me proud of our Olympic programs and they win honor for themselves and their country.
I’ll be back with part 2 in a couple of days.
I was born in a trunk in the Princess Theater in Pocatella Idaho. No, I’m sorry. That’s A Star is Born. Let me begin again.
I’ve spoken several times about my bartending career; twenty-two years behind the bar, mixing, shaking, counseling patrons and generally solving the world’s problems. I’ve also mentioned that I loved that life, but gave it up, some twenty-five years ago for the life of a businessman. But I’ve always had an area in each of my residences over the years, for guests, friends and of course me, to sit and have a libation. Like most folks, it was usually the living room. But since I’ve been in the big house, with husband, it’s been at the breakfast bar in the kitchen. Our friends gather with us at our dinner parties, seated upon stools, and visit while husband and I stand in the kitchen, prepping dinner. There aren’t enough chairs but if you’ve been invited to our home to feast, you’re among loved ones, so you understand. You’re kindof in the kitchen but it’s ok.
But deep down, I never really wanted this.
What I wanted was what you see when you enter the lobby of the Biltmore Hotel. (Something like this: A room-dominating bar, with elegant barstools and a well-dressed bartender serving cocktails to the gentry. Concoctions like a very dry Rob Roy, or a Grey Goose Dirty Martini, or a perfectly chilled Absolut Cosmo straight up. I would imagine that Lady Gaga or Jake Gyllenhaal, or Michelle Obama might drop by, (I know, I have a very vivid imagination…..humor me), or even Gwyneth Paltrow wearing a $90 tee-shirt, (see her clothing line. Her poor mother, Blythe Danner is suffering from post-menopausal osteoporosis, doing promo spots for Prolia while her daughter’s clothing line has $90 tee-shirts. Oh, the humanity).
Anyway…..one day, very recently, fortune smiled upon us. It sounds crazy but the gods delivered unto me, a bar. Sit, let’s discuss.
I have a friend. You’ve met him in previous blogs. A loved one with eating issues. (Doesn’t narrow it down much, does it?) Anyway, he bought a new condo, fabulously furnished, and is in the process of making it his own, putting his stamp on it, so to speak, by re-doing certain things. There was a bar (in the middle of his Great room), which was quite lovely, (and included a fridge and an icemaker), and since he doesn’t entertain much, and doesn’t drink much, and in truth, it was blocking his amazing wraparound view of the intracoastal waterway, he wanted it out. So he offered it up, and husband and I thought it might look kind of spiffy in our home, (and perhaps my fantasy could be fed), so when he had it dismantled, he also had it delivered to our front steps. See photos:
I know. It doesn’t look like much.
The price of the bar was…..how you say…..right, so I ventured to find a contractor that could reassemble it, run a water line, an electrical line, and fabricate the stone so when we shrunk it down to fit in our living room it would be made beautiful again.
Have you ever hired a contractor? Those of you that are poor, have not. I know this, because I’m poor and I have not. Poor people get Uncle Joe to put in cabinets, or bilk their bowling buddy to run a water line or ask your gay son’s lesbian friend to help put in the built-in microwave. Rich people have contractors. They say things like I’d love to have you over for dinner, as soon as the contractor is finished with the kitchen. Then they shop at Whole Foods and don’t really cook dinner, but rather bring in prepared food and pretend they cooked in their new kitchen. (Have I mentioned that I hate those people?)
So it turns out that husband’s cousin has a very talented guy that could spruce up the Taj Mahal if it ever needed it. He works cheap and he’s a fun guy. Need I go on? I like him WAY better than the $4000 guy. (Yeah, that’s just contractor talk: $4000……$6000…..you get it.) My guy? Well, let’s just say he’s my KIND of guy. We feed him while he works. We play the country music station because it keeps him in good spirits, and I have an endless supply of Cape Cod Potato Chips and M&M Dark Chocolate Covered Peanuts. He seems inspired.
And lo and behold, (I love that expression. They use it in fairy tales and perhaps Scheherazade, but not in common parlance. I love it anyway, and I need to use it now and again, so please indulge me), but lo and behold a bar is born; for hundreds of dollars, not thousands. And here is the star of the show:
Which brings me to:
You are cordially invited to a Cocktail Reception to be held in the Grand Hall at Chez DeLeo/Krongelb. We’ll gather at the Lobby Bar for cocktails and take it from there.
Every so often I confess that I’m about to try something I’ve never done before. Like that night we went to our favorite bbq joint and I discovered the various joys and horrors of karaoke. Or the night we discovered HD broadcasts in movie theaters, Live From The Metropolitan Opera.
Well I have a new one for you tonight.
It occurred to me that I’ve never participated in the government of my own country, but rather have left the running of it to others. In the pursuit of my so-called bucket list items, I’ve decided to become a poll worker in the next election and make my mark on the way the country is run. So I called the SOE office, (that’s tech-talk for the Supervisor Of Elections), and inquired. My, my, it’s a tale to be told. Sit. Let’s discuss.
I’d like to give you backstory, but you already know it. It’s the government! As in, government workers! And I am to join their ranks, however briefly.
With that in mind, hear the tale.
I called on a Tuesday morning, just to inquire, really, not even sure I was serious. I spoke to what seemed like a lovely woman and we chatted for a few minutes. I asked questions, she answered. She asked, I answered. And so it went.
About ten minutes in, she informs me that, yes, you’ll do, and yes, the job is yours if you want it, and by the way, you’re not to be a poll worker but rather a Clerk, in charge of the entire precinct for the day of the election, with all other poll workers under your employ, and there’s a class for four hours and when can you start?
My natural response: WTF?????
(It was a phone call, people. And suddenly I feel as if I’m stumping for public office.)
My mama raised no fools, so I was left suddenly with the thought that there’s something else going on here. Why, after a five minute phone call did i get placed at the head of the class? This woman didn’t know me at all. Why?, I kept asking myself.
And then the epiphany. It’s not me that she loved, but rather the others that she didn’t love. I won by default. (I immediately thought of my Homeowners Association, of which I am the President. Why am I? Because I’m loved by the masses? Perhaps. Because I’m the smartest in the land? Maybe. Because my wisdom and judgement would rival King Solomon’s? Could be. Because there isn’t another warm body in sight to begin to think about doing it and I’m the only idiot that volunteered? Yeah, that could be it. Pretty much.)
I should add here that this is not a volunteer position. They pay for a long days work (election day). It’s not a lot of money, but it’s a gesture of gratitude for your participation in your own government. Still, if one wasn’t working at all, it would constitute a very temporary gig, and some folks might show up.
So here I am, the Clerk. The Big Mammoo. The Head Honcho. . As I’m so fond of saying…..big woo!!
I should add here, that I decided that if I can do it, so can husband, so I volunteered him as well. And on that same phone call, without even so much as speaking to husband, she made him a supervisor as well. High praise, I thought. (Or are the pickins’ really that slim? Alas.) Let the training begin!
I arrived bright and early, clutching pad and my sharpened #2 pencils, as in days or yore, eager for knowlege, as I’ve not taken a class in anything, really, in decades. (One of the advantages of being old is that you can toss around the phrase, in decades, easily.) Husband’s class was the following day, so I was flying solo. There were about 30 of us, of varying ages and I immediately noticed a couple of things: (I’m going to try to be delicate here because nobody really likes a smart-ass.)
1) There were no Lexus or Mercedes or even Infinity vehicles in the parking lot, which led me to believe this would not be a rich crowd.
2) There were no young people, college-age or otherwise. I guess, not really being taxpayers yet, they have no interest in their government,
3) There were only three men. (including me.)
4) There were a LOT of middle aged, very heavy, African-American women, with gold teeth and big knockers.
5) There were several who spoke marginal English at best. (Haitian being their native tongue).
6) There was a huge amount of attitude emanating from the masses toward the civil servants teaching the class. (As if to say, I’m here to be a poll worker but you’re not the boss of me.) Which, quite frankly was not true. They were in fact, the boss of us.
And these people, in my class, are in charge of our democracy. (Maybe we do need more prayer)…..
And so it went. It was a lot to learn, and the sad, oh-so-sad truth is that the majority were chatting, checking their phones, their devices, not paying attention, talking amongst themselves and generally being huge pains-in-the-ass, to those of us geeks who were there to learn. And I had to learn all of the stations, being the clerk.
There are several positions: greeters, id checkers, ballot issuers, aides, the assistant clerk, the main clerk (me) and the voting technician specialists (husband). That’s actually the most important job. His job is to keep the ballot counting machines running smoothly and troubleshoot if there are issues. That’s why his class was separate.
It occurred to me that I didn’t see any part of the so-called top one-percent, about which we hear so much, eager to work for civil service wages for a long day to help run the government which affords them the luxury of living the American dream and cheating on their taxes. No time, I guess. Might cut in on their golf game. Clutch the pearls. We wouldn’t want to do that.
Anyway, by the end of the four hour class, I’d learned a lot, but was still terrified I didn’t know enough. I’m going to have to study my book some more. There’s a lot riding on my performance that day. After all, this is not an election for high school hall monitor, it’s for the POTUS.
I just found out that I actually signed us up, accidentally, for the August Primary, and not for the general election in November. Oops. I thought I was a good citizen but even I have NO idea what that election is for. And we all know that probably six dozen people will show up, all day, for a mid-summer, August Primary with no issues at all. There will be another class for the November elections. I guess this primary will just be good practice for my entree` into running the government of the United States.
After all, with my new phone, it’s just possible that someday I might.
You’ll not believe this. Honestly, you won’t.
The dream phone…..the very Motorola Razr 4G LTE.….(I’m not even sure what all of those initials stand for) arrived. If you know anything about smartphones you know they take apps and photos and addresses, and emails and calendars and all that. So I loaded the puppy to the max in the first three days and it was straight out of Star Wars…..The Death Star.….This device could actually call up the Armed Forces and win a war. (I seriously hope POTUS has one).
I just learned that POTUS stands for President of the United States. Did you know that? Or is it yet another case of The Cheese Stands Alone, in that I’m the only one who didn’t? And of course, now, there’s FLOTUS, as in First Lady of, etc….. Kindof cool? Not sure. Anyway, I hope he has one because goodness knows you could rule the world with this thing.
But on day three…..Houston, we have a problem. Sit. Let’s discuss.
So my baby beauty was all loaded up, and I’m the happiest camper on earth, and suddenly it began to malfunction. It kept shutting down, for no reason. An hour-and-a-half call to Tech Support, a Factory Reset later, with all of my programming of three days wiped out, and my Droid, (yes, I call it that now, kindof like R2D2 or C3PO,) seemed to be OK. I re-loaded everything over the next three days and all was right in my world, and suddenly, again….the shutting down.
Another Tech call and I wind up with: We’re going to need to swap your phone for a new one. Yours obviously has some issues.
So there’s a new one on the way. Should be here tomw. In the meantime, I bought an app that backs up everything I’ve done, with the hopes that I don’t have to spend another three days programming.
Lordy, Lordy Miss Scarlett, when did life get so complicated. Let’s not lose sight of the reality. I bought a phone! Not a car, not a house, a phone!!! One would think, a phone, big woo. But the whole experience comes with just a touch of drama.
I should add here, that there are apps for this device that defy description. (Funny, I remember from my bartending days when Apps was short for Appetizers which you’d order with cocktails. like chicken wings or spring rolls. Now it’s short for Applications. Go figure.)
So among my Apps, I have Sam, who is the Motorola equivalent of Suri. You know, the Apple Iphone bitch.) She’s the Assistant who does my bidding. You can change her name to any name you like, so mine is now officially called Blanche. As in DuBois. (I’m gay, ok? She’s a character in Streetcar Named Desire, if you don’t know. Just a wee bit demented.) I might change her name though. To Consuelo. (Now before some of you get all politically correct and shout that I shouldn’t have a maid named Consuelo, and ask if she is legal and all that?, please remember that:
1) I mentioned that I’m gay, and that’s the name of Suzanne Sugarbaker’s maid on Designing Women, my favorite tv show of all time. It’s an homage, people), and
2) She’s not a real person. She’s a droid app. (God, I hope I don’t get hate mail for calling her that. I mean it with all due respect.)
Anyway, she’s great. I say find me a recipe for guacamole and she says, take one large ripe avocado, one large tomato…..you get the idea. I think I love her.
Anyway, the replacement comes tomw. I am certain, or at the very least hopeful, that the backup app will do its job and restore all to my new device.
If not, you won’t hear from me for at least three days. I’ll be in programming mode.
Blanche, bring me a cocktail, please.
This is kind of a continuation of the zombie blog, face-eaters. I mentioned in that piece that here in Florida there is the peculiar stand-your-ground law, that enables an ordinary citizen to kill anyone he chooses and then claim I felt threatened. Honest to God. I am not making this up. The Treyvon Martin case was just such a situation and it took the authorities six weeks to even ask questions of the murderer. Only in Florida.
Which brings me to tonight’s topic. Here in the Sunshine State, (as in your home state as well, I’m sure), there are some laws on the books that need to be pointed out, and perhaps re-examined. Sit. Let’s discuss.
THE LAW: To prevent cruelty to animals and as recommended by The Humane Society of the United States, no person shall confine a pig during pregnancy in a cage, crate or other enclosure, or tether a pregnant pig, on a farm so that the pig is prevented from turning around freely,
Now, truth be told, I’m as big a tree-hugger, or in this case a pig-hugger, as ever there was, but I’m just not sure that in today’s society, with all of the craziness that goes on, that Tallahassee lawmakers really needed to stop the presses and pass this compelling legislation. I don’t know. Could be just me.
THE LAW: Any parent, legal guardian, or other person having custody or control of a minor who sells or otherwise transfers custody or control of such minor, or offers to sell or otherwise transfer custody of such minor, shall be guilty of a felony. In other words, it’s illegal to sell your children.
Good one, no? We needed a law for that? Was that a big issue before the law? Was there a whole lot of:merle: hey fred. fred: hey merle. merle: nice looking kids ya got there. fred: thanks merle. merle: i’ll give ya fifty bucks apiece for them. fred: sure thing, thanks. merle: here ya go, fred. ok kids, I’m your daddy now. let’s go.
Ya think? Big problem? Needed legislation? Maybe instead we should have a law that says it’s illegal to kill your children. That way Casey Anthony might actually have gone to jail, instead of her waltzing to freedom and a book deal. Just sayin’.
Here’s another: Unmarried women parachuting on Sunday shall risk arrest, fine or jail. So what can we take from this one? It’s ok for married ladies? It’s ok for single ladies Mon-Sat, but never on Sunday? What were they afraid of? That the parachuting single gal would be late for church? The very idea. Makes you wonder about the people making our laws.
Here’s a good one: Men may not be seen in public in any kind of strapless gown. (I swear, this is a real law on the Florida books).Again, what to glean? Gowns with sleeves are ok? Strapless gown on your beau is ok at the Senior Prom, just don’t step out into the street? Might be just me, but in a redneck state like Florida, I just cannot imagine that this was ever a problem that needed legislative action. Were there gangs of marauding men in the olden days, pillaging local villages dressed like contestants in the Miss America Pageant? This law can’t be aimed at the Ku Klux Klan. Their gowns had sleeves. I’m just baffled. Although judging by the above picture, maybe this is a good law. Not sure.
Here are a couple of quickies:
2) It is illegal to sing in a public place while attired in a swimsuit. Oh well, there goes the entertainment at the Tiki bar at the Fountainbleau hotel. Wait. Tell me again why he shouldn’t sing? I can see him as Tony in West Side Story. (Also poolside Karaoke is out. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why they passed it. The karaoke thing).
3) Having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal. (On the books, people. Not kidding). The very thought of that…..ewwww, or rather, ouch!!!!) Actually this one makes a little sense. After all, the offspring would look like this:
And my personal favorite, because some things really need to be clear:
4) If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle. This one was really important. Don’t you agree? Those elephant scoff-law people need to be punished. Here’s a quarter. Pump the meter for me, would ya, babe? And for cryin’ out loud, don’t step on his trunk!
There are dozens more of these, but I think you get the idea. I’d love to hear from you about strange laws on the books in your home state. Heaven forbid that our legislators should ever get down to doing the real business of the people.
I have a tale to tell tonight. It’s a cautionary tale. (For the uninitiated, that means Beware!!!!!) It’s about T-Mobile Cellular. I’m not afraid to name names, as they’ve more than proven their total inadequacy in their chosen field of endeavor. This was a true retail horror story, and I’m taking no prisoners. Totally unacceptable. Sit. Let’s discuss.
It began innocently enough with my wanting a new cell phone. A star-spangled 4-G beauty. It was time, and if you know me at all, you know I love a good toy, and I’ve waited long enough with the cheap phone and the cheap plan. (Not to be confused with my wonderful Ipod touch, which I love, probably more than the dog, but don’t tell her).
The last thing I wanted was a huge phone bill each month, so I considered T-Mobile with their $50. plan. Turns out, to get that rate you have to buy the phone for that plan, and the spiffy model I wanted was, ahem, clutch the pearls, $600. So clearly, that was off the table. Next choice was a contract (I know you’re all familiar with this routine so I’ll fast forward). I found a plan I could live with, and found out that for Father’s Day, they were running a special: Any phone in the house, folks, free. Oh, you put money up front, big bucks etc, but rebates galore and at the end of the day, the $600 beauty (HTC 1S, by the way), was to be free. Way cool.
Sign me up.
Then a wrinkle. I had shopped and researched online and found the deal I wanted and I found out that the business plan (if you own a business, which I do, as does husband as well, was cheaper monthly. All you need is your Business License, your Tax ID and off you go. But you can’t do it online or on the phone. (Don’t ask me why. Should have been the first clue as to what was coming). So off I went to the store and presented same and was told that a Social Security number on a d/b/a Sole Proprietorship, (stay with me, folks), didn’t count. They needed a real Tax ID. This was after a half-hour of in-store time while the clerk was on hold, due to the fact that the free phone sale was on and T-Mobile hadn’t planned on the enormity of it and the staff answering in the home office was overwhelmed, as husband and I cooled our heels. (Not enough people answering phones…..in a phone establishment. Second clue, right over my head).
Ok. Half an hour later, we were stumped when refused.
Idea. Let’s do this in husband’s business’ name. After all, we have his Tax ID.
Presenting our credentials, and another half-hour of hold-time later, we’re informed that they need to see his actual business license. ( WTF? Look it up, you morons.) Your freakin’ specialty is 4G internet access!!! But I held my tongue and said, if you need to see it, it’s available online, and gave him the website. Another 20 minutes later, he claims they need to see checking account statements. (And queue the explosion.) I lost it.
I should fill in a little about what was going on in the store for the hour-and-a-half that we were there, thus far.
A bedraggled (is that a word?), seemingly homeless guy walked in. He reeked. So much so, in fact, that one of the salesgirls who wasn’t with a customer walked around spraying Febreze into the air, as if it were Chanel No. 5. His clothes were tattered. His beard….what can I say?….he looked like Mandy Patinkin in Yentl. He whips out a credit card, and ten minutes later he’s walking out the door with his new phone. WTF???
Next up were two girls about 16 years old. Clearly BFFs. And they came into the store without looking up, each with face into cell phone, texting, (probably each other, rather than speak), and one had Daddy’s credit card, and not ten minutes later she walked out with MY PHONE! The one I’ve been trying to buy. No questions asked!!!
And here we are; two guys, who happen to own:a) two businesses, b) a fine home, c) a new car, d) two cats, e) an old dog, and who take f) the occasional cruise.
And from us they want a blood sample?
As they say on Broadway, No, No, Nanette. We stormed out.
But it’s still free-phone-day. So now I call T-Mobile on the phone to just forget the whole business plan thing, pay a little extra and get my dream phone. Not so fast, Kemosabe.
I was on hold for a half-hour. Sound familiar? T-Mobile is just so clueless. After about thirty minutes, I got cut off. Hung up upon. But even with the steam emanating from mine own ears, I redialed to try again. (Hey, it’s a $600 phone and it’s free for Father’s Day. I know, I’m just a cheap whore at heart, but bear with me.)
So I called back, and while on hold it dawns on me, sitting in my office, at my computer, to take a look to see if maybe Verizon has any Father’s Day deals. (I’m close to the brink of insanity at this point). So for the next half-hour of hold time, I studied Verizon’s phones, read reviews, examined their calling plans, didn’t find any free phones, but some good prices, and in a moment of exultation, I hung up and dialed them. There’s actually more, but I’m thinking I’ve made my point.
An hour later, (and I should add, a very nice hour, with a lovely young woman named Stephanie, who is now my new BFF and who is pursuing her Doctorate in Education, all the while working her nine-to-five,) I was sold on a Motorola Razr top-of-the-line phone, and get this: It was $600, but with specials, rebates, incentives, etc, it was $99. And the coupe de ville, I mean coup de grace was a $100 internet credit, so the dream phone was indeed, free. She waived the activation fee and signed me up for the old peoples’ plan (hey you only had to be 62) and didn’t even take a credit card. (And it’s $20 per month cheaper than T-Mobile.) The phone is on its way to me, I’m happy, husband is happy and T-Mobile should rot in hell and be forced to go to Community College and take a goddam business course!!
I tried to call T-Mobile Corporate offices to tell them SOMETHING. ANYTHING, about their stores, their policies, their employees, their inability to staff, etc, but it turns out they have no phone number. Let me repeat that. T-Mobile Corporate Headquarters has no phone for customer issues. I got a secretary at Corporate and she told me just that. She advised me to write to them. I asked for an email address and her reply was, they don’t have that either. Write a snail letter. (As if anybody on God’s green earth is going to sit down and do that, and as if they’d read it. I’m thinking if they wanted to hear from consumers, they’d make it a little easier.) Maybe I’ll just print this story and mail it to Corporate. I doubt they’ll ever read or consider anything I’ve said, but It’ll make me feel better.
3 days later……update…..
The Verizon phone arrived. And as they say in Star Wars…..the Death Star is now complete!………I rule………..
So this has been my homage to T-Mobile. My advice? Avoid them like poison.
Anybody else have a similar horror story? I’d love to hear it.
You’ll never believe this, but I won! I got a postcard in the mail that says I’ve won an eight-day cruise on a major cruise line, all expenses paid. Well, not all. I’m responsible for port charges and taxes. But still….. (Suddenly my mind wanders back to prior cruises and my standing appointment on the first formal night with the baby lamb chops. Ah, good times.) And get this; all I have to do is attend a brief hour-and-a-half seminar, with no-purchase-necessary, and the cruise is mine. (and of course, husband’s). Sounds lucky, no?
Relax, kemosabe. I was born at night. Just not last night. Sit. Let’s discuss.
So, of course I’m skeptical. Nay, cynical. Nothing is free. (Air is, but it’s filthy). But being the Curious George that I am, I phone the 800 number and glean the following:
1) You must be a citizen. (Naturally. Who gives away stuff to illegals?)
2) You must be married. (Ok, I told them I was partnered and had as my significant other, husband. That seemed to do it.)
3) You must have a major credit card. (Duh! They’re definitely going to try to sell me something.)
4) You must sit through the seminar where this travel-related business is going to try to hook you up to some serious stuff. But…..
5) You are obligated to buy nothing. NADA. El Zippo. Just sit through it.
After the show, er, seminar, they give you the cruise certificate. Easy? Probably not, but I’m nothing if not adventurous. So I made an appointment for this Friday for the workshop. I’ll know more after that. (Now I know they’re betting that they can sell ice to Eskimos living on a glacier, but what they don’t realize is that even if I weaken, and really want whatever it is they’re selling…….we’re poor, and can’t afford it. So there is NO danger of our purchasing anything, anytime soon. I can tell you that, but please…..shhhh….. don’t tell them). I am, however, wide open to using them for my travel needs if indeed they are a travel agency. I don’t have a personal travel agent and could actually use a good one. My gut tells me this all might be a colossal waste of time, not to mention a scam. A con. And it’s an hour’s drive to West Palm Beach and and hour back, plus ten bucks in gas, and if it’s bullsh*t, then it’s all for naught. Well, not exactly for naught. I am, after all, your ever-attentive blogger, and at the very least there will be a tale to tell upon my return.
If this is actually legit, I’ll have NO problem using them for my travel needs in the future, but that’s yet to be determined.
So let’s stop now and I’ll continue after the scam. I mean, the presentation. (I’m thinking that if this is a huge hoax, it’s my job to disseminate that information). If they’re messing with me, I will exact my revenge. Stay tuned…..
See you tomorrow.
Ok. I’m back.
So it was pretty much what they claimed. We arrived, filled out some paperwork, ate a free and extremely delicious cookie and had a cup of coffee, sat through a rather interesting presentation, actually, all about travel and discounts and wonderful vacation spots and then broke up into couples, alone with a high-end salesman, all to ourselves.
The deal was that it costs lots of money to join this travel club. I mean a LOT of money. It’s eight-thousand dollars. I know, I know. I said it too. Are you freakin’ kidding me? But as I thought about it, sitting there with other couples during the presentation, who travel for months-at-a-time to places like Machuu Picchu and Bora Bora and a week in Cabo San Lucas here, and a week in Quito, Ecuador there, and a week in Vegas, or San Diego or Provincetown, I began to realize that to the right demographic, this was a great deal. For an average week’s stay at a fancy resort, they could save you a couple grand. Do it a few times a year and you’re paid up. Now add to that, the membership is lifetime and transferable to your kids and grand-kids and it makes sense for a lot of people. Seriously. And people did indeed sign up.
Just not us.
They tried to make deals, lowering the price, spacing out the payments, altering the package for less money, but I held firm. The truth is, husband and I just don’t travel enough to make up the initial cost. But don’t blow it off. It really would work for a lot of people.
Just not us.
Now for the free stuff.
So, most impressively, even though we declined to purchase, they gave us our certificate for our free cruise, with no attitude at all. (Remember the beginning…..nothing is free). We are to pay port charges and taxes, and there are hoops through which we must jump to get this cruise.
1) We must fill out the certificate and mail it, certified, registered mail within 14 days.
2) We must notify them 90 days in advance of any selected dates we might want to go.
3) You can’t travel in a month with an “R” in it. They want 60 days on either side on Lent. If you have more than one child then you can’t go in the summer…..(no, I’m kidding. I made up all of #3). Gotcha! Moving along…..
4) There are extensive blackout dates, such as: we can’t book any date within one week of a national holiday, and the deal is on Carnival (not our favorite), unless we’d like to upgrade for a small fee to Royal Caribbean. (They didn’t tell me HOW small). But husband says, fuggeddaboudit, we’ll sail Carnival. And as the young people today say, we’re down with that.
So that pretty much sums up the adventure. I’ll jump through the hoops and let you now how it all turns out. After all, it’s worth the effort just for the baby lamb chops alone.
I’m in a mood.
Sometimes it really gets to me that I left the greater New York metropolitan area, all those years ago, with its opera houses, and Broadway theater district and clubs and museums and art galleries, and traded it all for some sunshine, and mostly no winters. I lie to myself a lot and say that people are people, and savvy New Yorkers have nothing on us upscale Floridians, and that politicians are politicians, and laws are laws, and no matter where you live, there’s always some strange shit that goes on. (If you’ll pardon the expression.)
But, lately, in the news down here, we’ve had a couple of stories that just defy logic. File them under news of the strange. Kind of like a skit on Saturday Night Live…..gone bad. Certainly the most notorious these days is the attack on a homeless man, by a “flesh eating zombie” who was shot to death by police, on the MacArthur Causeway in Miami. No kidding. Sit. Let’s discuss.
The reporting was a tad sketchy. It seems that when police arrived on the scene, there was a man, Rudy Eugene, who was eating the face off of a homeless man. (Of course, my warped mind wonders if homeless people taste better than the rest of us. I’m thinking those plump Cuban women might have a hint of ropa vieja about them and be pretty delicioso. Or even those artery-clogged New York tourists might have a kind of pastrami essence as you devour them.) But Vibe Magazine, (is that really a publication? not sure), reports that, and I quote: the attacker’s girlfriend kissed Rudy Eugene goodbye as he left their home, and heard nothing until she got a call at 11am Monday morning from a member of Eugene’s family telling her the bad news. She believes Eugene was drugged unknowingly, or the victim of supernatural doings and that maybe someone put a curse on him. She claims she never believed in Voodoo until now.
Really? Supernatural doings? Voodoo? (Oh I can hear Roy Black’s defense team murmuring behind the scenes. And Gloria Allred is here already. What’s with her anyway? She’s like a Kardashian, for cryin’ out loud. Always in the news). But I hear her already…..It’s Miami. There are Haitians. Haitians practice Voodoo. He’s just a victim, and he’s a vegan. He would never normally eat face. And so it goes).
So I”m thinking that maybe I ought to be worried. Seriously. I’ve never lived in a place where people eat people. I live in a land where, according to Mitt Romney, Corporations are people, and that’s strange enough. I love Streisand, and she sings People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. But I’m thinking, people who get eaten by people…..not so lucky.
So, what to do?
I could arm myself whenever I go outside. Sounds crazy, I know, but I do live in the STAND YOUR GROUND state; where you’re allowed to pack heat (carry a gun, for the uninitiated), and walk into a library, a school, a park or a government building and it’s perfectly legal. In fact, the NRA encourages it. And if, while you’re strolling in neighborhoods, as a self-appointed guardian of the people, patrolling where you ought not to be in the first place, perhaps spoiling for a fight, and you feel threatened by a passerby who looks like he might be, oh, I don’t know…..Black perhaps?, as he’s walking home from a convenience store with a soda and a bag of Skittles, and you blow his brains out, you get to claim, I was defending myself and am perfectly within the law. And sometimes it takes six weeks for authorities to question it. Yeah, that state. Florida. Home of the zombie flesh-eaters and Billy The Kid’s descendants.
But I don’t want to walk around armed and dangerous. It’s just not me. I’m already a little broad in the hips so a holster with a gun would just accentuate my belly and my muffin-top sides. No, no, no. I’m not ruining the line of my black muu muu just because one guy is running around with an appetite for face. (And homeless face, at that).
No, I’ll just carry a sock full of garlic and a big silver crucifix (oy, what would Kosher Grandma say about that? What did she know? There were no zombies in her shtetl in Lithuania. Cossacks, yes. Zombies, no). And of course whenever I go out, I’ll wear my running shoes at all times.
Have you ever opened a piece of mail, say, from a doctor’s office, expecting that your insurance has picked up the tab, and for which, perhaps, you owe a couple of co-pay bucks? And upon further reading you realize that the number in the I owe the doctor column is huge? Seriously, have you? Well guess what? (I know, I know, after the intro, you all guessed.) Duh.
I got a bill today for husband’s last visit to the urologist; a very brief visit. Mostly for a prescription. Sure he made him pee in the cup, he’s a urologist, for cryin’ out loud, but other than that, it was for a scripp. The bill we received was for $958.
I barely flinched. I know he has Medicare and I know they cover everything. (Well, so far). Those of you without Medicare, I’m sorry. Your day will come. It’s wonderful. Those of you who are of the Repugnizant , I’m sorry, I meant Republican persuasion who believe that Medicare should be privatized or abolished you can stop reading right now. (Although truth be told, I am an avowed card-carrying Liberal, so I suspect you are not now, nor have you been, reading anyway). Medicare covers you. Your only job is to find a doctor that is at least marginally good, doesn’t hang around the lake making duck noises, (as in quack quack) and didn’t pass his medical boards on the curve, as the saying goes. Husband and I happen to like this urologist. It’s his staff we abhor. Sit. Let’s discuss.
So I opened the envelope and $958 later, I’m on the phone and it’s ringing. It is answered and I hear: Dr. Gonif’s office, how may I direct your call?
(Now, bear in mind, I’m a pro at this sort of thing. Been doing it for years. With my medical history? Fuggeddaboutit. I could have had a seat at King Arthur’s Round Table, such a valiant Knight am I. I am ready for battle). You should also know that the staff member who answered the phone is NOT my favorite person. Let’s call her Nurse Ratched. The conversation went something like this:
me: May I have the billing department, please.
her: I can probably help you.
me: Ok. Hi. I’m calling about a bill for $958. My name is davidk and I’m calling on behalf of husband. Why the bill? It was a half-glass of pee and a prescription. Doesn’t Medicare usually cover this?
her: Let me look it up. (long pause). Yes, here it is. It seems husband didn’t have a referral for his last visit and Medicare refuses to pay, as does his supplementary insurance.
me: I’m sorry, he had a referral.
her: No, I’m sorry, he did not.
me: No, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to tell you your job, but I too, am a patient of Dr. Gonif, and I arrived at his office one day, a while back, without a referral, and you put my ass out on the sidewalk, like yesterday’s garbage, and told me not to come back without one, all the while smiling like Cruella de Ville. And so a week later, referral in hand, I did. So I am certain, beyond any reasonable doubt, that without a referral, husband would never have gotten past the pit bull behind the lovely sliding frosted glass window in the reception area. Which tells me that he had one, and you either misplaced it, or lost it.
her: Well we have no record of it. Either you pay the bill, or contact your primary to get us a copy of the original.
me: Really? Do you have ANY idea how busy my doctor is? And now you want me to ask his staff to stop what they’re doing and look through the records to find a piece of paper that your staff either lost or misplaced, rather than your asking your staff to try to find it? That which they lost? Or perhaps misfiled? Really?
her: Well sir, we’re very busy too.
me: Yes, apparently so busy that you don’t have time to file a patient’s referral, and as a result you reign terror down on the unsuspecting.
her: There’s no need for that kind of talk, sir. We’re doing our best to accomodate you.
me: No, my dear woman. No you’re not. If you were doing your best, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Furthermore, if this is your best, I’m glad it’s the doctor and not you, who examines my rectum. With him it’s just a finger. I’m thinking if it were you, it would be a full fledged f*ck.
Members of the jury, i ask you; Was that too much? Was I out of line?
Ok, i waited a while and called back and apologized for the profanity (but nothing else).
She and I went another couple of rounds and the upshot was that yes, I have to bother my doctor’s office to try to resurrect the referral (that’s my compromise), and they finally agreed to fill husband’s prescription again without his paying the bill first, until it all gets sorted out. (See, I told you I was good at this).
(Can you believe they were going to hold him hostage with no Vesicare until he settled the bill? How in the name of Holy Water, is an old man supposed to take a piss?) She’s mean. Just plain ole mean.
With that settled, all I need now is a prescription for valium from my primary, so I can take one before my next visit to Dr. Gonif’s office, before I have to see that bitch.
The good news is Medicare covers that.
You know how I often start my pieces with the phrase “Sit. Set’s discuss?” Well, not tonight. For this episode I need to use a new phrase.
I’m sure that at least most, if not all of you, have, or are aware of Facebook. (Personally, I’m in Betty White’s camp and think it’s a HUGE waste of time. But then, I’m not a young person jockeying for a position of popularity in a high school, nor am I a grandparent needing to keep in touch with the wee ones, nor am I hawking any kind of product (unless you count this very blog, which from time to time I might mention, in passing), nor am I political, show business inclined or even bored). So even though I have a Facebook account, I’m not logged on a whole lot. I venture there when I get a “friend” request, or an email instructing me to do so.
But today, I got an email from a child.
Well, truth be told, she’s not a child anymore. The last time I saw her she was, approximately ten years old. Now she’s most likely 40ish. I worked for, and was very good friends with, her parents. She introduced herself online and my mind flooded and we’re instantly back in contact. I’m suddenly taking a trip down memory lane.
Ok, ready? For the new phrase? Stand. Let’s stroll.
This is powerful stuff.
The last time I saw most of this family was 1983, give or take. It’s coming up on 30 years ago. (I worked briefly with the mom in 1989, but that’s a tale for another time). But the daughter has contacted me and the memories are flooding the corners of my mind. (to paraphrase Barbra). I don’t want to go into the personal stuff, since we’ve just re-connected and I wouldn’t want her, or her parents, to think I’m an opportunist, but I can give you a vague sense. Here’s a taste.
Her parents were this wild and tempestuous couple. He, Austrian, as I recall, perhaps Viennese, and she, a down home southern girl with more horse-sense than any city folk I ever did have the pleasure to know. They were a great couple, although the husband was a character.
Digress a sec.
You remember those old 60’s sci-fi/horror movies with a laboratory and experiments and such, and eventually, one of the characters in the black and white farce gets to utter the immortal words, about the scientist? He’s quite mad, you know! Well, I’ve lived my entire life, mostly, without ever meeting those kinds of people. But every so often it happens, and in this case, the husband was really quite mad, you know.
OK. Not mad in the sense of re-animating corpses, but in the sense that he had his own little world. Did I mention he was very bright? Too bright for his own good, probably. (It’s a familiar theme). And he cooked. Food. I’m talking, a chef of the highest magnitude. World Class. Five star little bugger.
The wife, on the other hand, was logical, sensible , organized, had a great sense of business and could run a tight ship. So they had the idea to open a restaurant, with him as chef, running the back of the house, (kitchen), and her running the front, (dining room), and I came to them as a waiter looking for employment, we found each other, it was Kismet, and I stayed a good while.
It really was a love affair. I loved them both and they loved me, and restaurant-wise, we ran a pretty smooth operation.
Except for the crazy part. The husband.
He was such a great chef that immediately upon opening and being reviewed by the Miami Herald, we were mobbed with hungry diners. And the wife would take reservations, and greet guests, and do PR in the dining room, while the husband cooked this great food (which I might add came out of the kitchen very slowly; he was meticulous and fastidious as well as great). And all would be well as we chugged along magnificently as a team, wowing the crowds, basking in the applause….. until something went wrong…..it didn’t have to be anything tricky, just something like a guest sending something back because it wasn’t to his liking. And when the waiter, (often me), would bring it into the kitchen, the lunacy began. Chef would rant and rave, curse up a blue streak that would embarrass a sailor, and often throw a knife. (He was actually very good with the knives; he could have hit me any time he chose, but he always missed. I’m grateful for that.)
So in the middle of the dinner rush, the wife would have to go into the kitchen and calm the maestro down, to the point where he could function again. This delay backed up the dining room even further, so the pressure on the kitchen increased, as did the frequency of the knife-throwing.
Just one of the many stories, about this family whom I loved.
And believe it or not, insanity included, they were some of the best times of my restaurant career. I’ve spent a fair amount of time, over the years, thinking back on those wonderful days. There was a lot of love there. (And a whole lot of good food).
As I mentioned, the daughter is now grown, with her own life. I don’t know how much she remembers about those crazy days in the restaurant, having been only ten years old, but I”ll be more than happy to fill her in on our collective high times and adventures, as this new re-acquaintance progresses.
It’s nice. At least Facebook is good for something.
I’m a very liberal guy. If you’ve been following at all, you know I’m a live and let live kind of person. I mean, really, when you’ve lived my life, and are as bizarre as I am, how could you begin to judge others and expect any credibility at all? So I say, get on with your life, damn the torpedoes and get out of the way.
I think you’re all aware that I shop a lot, especially online, and that leads to a lot of email and the occasional brochure. Today, I got one such piece in the mail and I must admit, it shook me to my very core. It was a bathing suit catalog, and it was just a tad strange. I’d like to share it with you. Sit. Let’s discuss.
Yummy-licious, no? Or how about this one?
<Sigh>. I know. Don’t you want to be the wall behind him for just a minute? Me too. But back to the catalog.
You’ve all seen these types of advertising. Handsome men, winsome women, scantily clad in garb designed to look good on a beach or poolside, to dry quickly after a plunge into a body of water, and to hold their shape. Some are quite beautiful, especially on the models demonstrating them in these brochures. After all, isn’t the expression, “if you’ve got it, flaunt it”, a motto by which to live?
But the ultimate question is: how much is too much? or more to the point, how little is too little?
I know, I know. Stop sniggling. I told you it was going to be strange.
So my first (of many) questions is: where exactly does one wear this? The beach? The pool? Dunno. (Btw, it’s a foregone conclusion that the target audience is gay. there’s not a straight man alive that would be caught dead in this thing/thong/thing.)
Or, how about this one?
Didn’t his mother ever teach him it’s not polite to point? The very idea! This guy has an utterly amazing body, but I can’t take my eyes off of the blue pointy thing. It couldn’t possibly be any more revealing!
Ok, I take that back. Are you freakin’ kidding me? Who wears this stuff? I mean, I’m as gay as…..ok, just say it,…..anyone on the planet, and even if I had the body, I don’t think I’d wear this particular suit. What happens when it gets wet? I’d like to say it becomes see-through, but it starts out that way. I’m thinking as he exits the pool, the entire crowd will know his religion.
Can you do one more? I mean, of the guys? (Ladies, you’re up next).
Really? To the beach? Really? To the country club? The cabana club? I can hear it now:Guy in bathing suit: Hey guys, how’s it going? Crowd at club: WTF?
It boggles the mind.
Now, as disturbed as I was by these pictures, I have to admit, the guys are hot, so I’m mildly interested in their general sexiness, notwithstanding the bizarre attire. But imagine my shock and awe when I turned the last page of the men’s section and on the first page of the ladies’, found this:
For me, there is no redeeming feature about this picture. It’s just tits on a beach. or rather, tits in the ocean. I imagine some of my less gay readers might find this interesting, but to me, the word show-off comes to mind. (So does beach-whore, but I’d better not say that). And just when i thought I’d seen it all, (and she’s actually showing it all), there’s this: hang onto your hats…..
I know, right? I have so many questions, but these are my top six:1) Everyone does realize that it’s 3 band-aids, no? 2) What holds it on? Especially in the water? 3) Does it come in a one-piece? 4) How in the name of holy-retailing can they charge $40 for three strips of mylar? 5) Are the mylar strips thicker for fat girls? 6) Does she need to wax her twat, or does the removal of the bathing suit achieve that?
It just boggles my mind.
In that very same catalog there is a line of apres beach attire that caught my eye, (and made me wish it had poked out my eye instead of just catching it.) Ladies, imagine it’s evening now and it’s time to hit the beach bar for a cocktail or two with the gang. You step into the cabana for a quick change out of your bathing suit and voila`, you’re ready to party. Take a look:
Yep, I’m thinking she’s ready to rumble. how she’ll make it from the cabana to the bar, walking on the sand in those shoes is yet another mystery. And how she’ll go tinkle is a whole other matter. Ok, one more. it comes in other styles.
Again, where exactly would one wear this outfit? I can see her now, coming down the stairs of the bungalow, down the shore, with mom and dad and younger sister watching Wheel of Fortune, and she speaks:Her: Mom, dad, i’m going out. Father: (covering younger sister’s eyes) Not while there’s breath in my body!
And so it goes.
As Fanny Brice once sang, “well, I’m miffed”.
I had no idea that people dressed like this. I guess i’m not going to the right beaches. Or pool parties. I’ve learned a lot from this catalog, but I’m going to write to them and ask them, politely, to send my next one in a plain manila envelope. I shudder to imagine what my mailman thinks.
Meanwhile, back at the doctor’s office…..
I haven’t written about medical things for a while. Lord knows, I have my share of issues, health-wise, but lately there have been no doctors, no nurses, no hospitalizations and no crises. (Well, not since that four month bout with the sciatica). But, ahem, we’ve more than covered that. I know I’m bored with it, and I’m sure you are as well. (Although i might add, at this point, it’s gone. It went as it came. One day I felt better. The next day even more so. And over a period of about a week, it ceased. It was almost scary when it stopped, like the final moments of La Traviata, where Violetta sings “the pain has stopped, I’m well, I’m renewed”.….and then drops dead. Except I’m still here, and I’m delighted to say that the ordeal is over. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition).
So I’m well, thank you very much, but it was indeed time for a checkup and first up was the cardiologist. You all know my heart stories. Alas. Sit. Let’s discuss.
It was the usual routine; labs first (drawn blood, for the uninitiated), and then wait a week, followed by the results show at the doctor’s office; kindof like Dancing With The Stars, (which is neither dancing nor stars), but you show up to see if you’ve been eliminated.
Sometimes you go to the doctor because you’re sick; vomiting, fever, strep throat, food poisoning, or boils, (actually that last one almost never happens). He prescribes stuff and off you go. But sometimes it’s just a maintenance thing.
It’s funny, but doctor’s visits have become a numbers game. After your blood work-up, you sit with him/her for your allotted 15 minutes and you discuss how you are (on paper). You think that you feel pretty good, other than the crap that comes with aging, (but there’s no cure for that), but your numbers might say otherwise. Your PSA is high; your blood pressure is high; your cholesterol is high; your blood sugar is high. Apparently, high is not so good. (Well, not since they outlawed Qaaludes. High was very good back then). Over the years I’ve had all kinds of reports, (my blood counts betraying me on all fronts). Lately, I’ve had some cholesterol issues, (high) and some triglyceride scares (very high). BTW, you all know what triglycerides are, don’t you? I mean the actual definition? Gaze upon this and tell me how we are supposed to go forward:
Anyway, the bottom line is that my new cardiologist, who, upon seeing my old numbers, with skyrocketing aforementioned triglycerides, and high LDL (not good) and mediocre HDL (also not good), prescribed this concentrated fish oil called Lovaza. (It’s prescription strength, big time. The pills are the size of actual fish! ). And lo, and behold, (which is a very fairy tale phrase, I might add), my cholesterol is 110. He’s aghast. My triglyceride count is 125. (I actually caught him gloating), and my LDLs are so low that he cut my Crestor in half (again). He actually said, your LDL is amost too low. I promised him that from now on, I’d eat the skin on the chicken. He was sort of ok with that. (No, I’m kidding. Lest you think my good doctor is a quack). So the moral of the story is, there is neither rhyme nor reason in the universe. If you’ll remember earlier blogs, replete with doctor visits, emergency rooms, ablations, catheterizations, holter monitors, echocardiograms, and other various and sundry procedures, it’s just amazing that I’m here at all, never mind with those numbers. So all is well in my world, at least for now.
I discovered a wonderful old film and I want to share it with you. It’s not an old film like Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, from 1927, or even Gone with the Wind from 1939, but rather from 1992; a mere twenty years ago. But before I tell the tale, you need a little background. Sit, let’s discuss.
There’s a new Broadway musical on the block. (Those of us that currently watch Smash understand that process.) You find a story, some composers, lyricists, a cast, and off you go. Normally, when producers attempt this process, it’s because they have a property that they think will fly. It’s a gamble, at best, (usually with other people’s money), but when the material is right you end up with the likes of Evita, or A Chorus Line or Phantom of the Opera. Sometimes they seek to produce a musical based on a proven hit movie by adding songs and often dance. Examples would be La Cage au Folles,
The Lion King,
or Billy Elliot. They turned out to be great musicals even though the original movies were not true musicals, but rather movies with a song or two or three. A lot of stuff gets added to make a show. But sometimes it gets tricky, and the material you start with is not so hot for a musical, but for some reason producers proceed anyway. Sound strange? Let me explain.
In a word, this season’s biggest flop on Broadway was Carrie, the musical. Now, the Brian de Palma film was excellent, but it’s really not musical material; a psychokinetic teenager covered in pig’s blood, along with her telekinetic, religious zealot of a mom, all committing murder on prom night. Really? Fun stuff, no? Well, it BOMBED. I think it ran for all of twenty minutes and closed on page 6. Back in 1966 there was Breakfast at Tiffany’s with Mary Tyler Moore, (in her heyday), which closed after 9 performances. (Great movie, shitty musical). Alas.
Lately we’ve had The Adams Family, Catch Me If You Can, Footloose, Sister Act, etc., all from movies. None are in the category of Fiddler or Man of La Mancha, but they’re making a buck. Producers will set anything to music if they think they can sell it.
Which finally brings me ’round to my discovery.
There was a movie called Newsies, loosely based on a turn-of-the-century story about kids in New York that sold newspapers on the street, (for Pulitzer and Hearst), were down-trodden and started a union to fight the bosses. A feel-good musical glorifying the little guy and the triumph of the human spirit, with the moral of the story being something like, make your voice heard and you can change the world (not untimely even for today). It got the full Hollywood treatment, by Disney Studios, no less. Huge production numbers, sets, costumes, hundreds of young actors in giant chorus numbers complete with dancing. Allen Menken did the score. As it turns out, it was a huge box office flop. In a year when Unforgiven, The Crying Game, and Scent of a Woman were hot, I’m thinking the world couldn’t give a rat’s ass about orphans kicking up their heels, selling newspapers. (Although in that same year, Disney Studios had a huge hit with Aladdin, which won best score and best song, by the very same composer, Allen Menken). But the public stayed away from Newsies like poison. Even I, who am a musical nut, and a movie nut as well, didn’t see it. Critics refer to it as the movie that killed movie musicals. Big expense, no return, and there were no more for many years.
OK. So here comes the kicker.
Because they’ve mounted a Broadway production, husband and I watched the old movie tonight. Can you guess? It’s outstanding! (Perhaps now, we’re in a different moment in time, or a different set of eyes; not sure), but it was fantastic. Here come the fun facts. The leading man, (the head Newsie kid), is a 17-year old Christian Bale, singing and dancing his heart out, and he’s excellent.
Of course, if they muck it up, it might close on page 20.
Update: the Tony Awards were announced today and Newsies is nominated for Best Musical. (I knew I was on to something).
Here are two minutes worth, from the internet. See if this doesn’t get you in the mood…..(there are 2 small clips in a row. Be sure to watch both.)
I want all of my New York readers to get tickets. See you in the theater.
You know how your life has cycles, and you have events that come ’round every few years that need attention? Stuff like; either renew your gym membership or pick another workout joint? Or, should you sign another 2-year lease on your apartment or think about moving? Well, i’m at that juncture with my ride. I lease my car, and it’s time for a big decision. I need to find my next vehicle. As they say, the jig is up! Or in my case, the lease.
This is not the simplest of tasks, unless of course, money is no object, in which case you might say I’ll take that black Bentley please. The one with the chauffeur. (Which, if you’ve been following, you know is NOT the case in my world. So with an eye on my budget, and an eye on style, I have begun the perplexing task of choosing my next chariot of fire. I know you’ve all bought cars in your life, with the exception, perhaps, of you New Yorkers, so I think you’ll feel my pain as we go. Sit. Let’s discuss.
My choices range from the ridiculous to the sublime. Observe ridiculous:
I know, I know. It’s lovely and all that, and it’s actually within my budget, and I love the color, but I don’t think I can get my fat ass into it. And even if I could, how would this sciatic, crippled old man ever get out? So moving on…..
Turns out, it doesn’t pay for us. We don’t drive enough. So I looked in the newspaper for specials and found out one amazing thing. CAR DEALERS ARE LIARS!! Did you know that? You see ads like:
$99/month lease, zero down, sign and drive, (fine print…..price good for first 6 months, remaining 30 at $299/month.) WTF? or,
$99/month lease, 36 months. (fine print…..$4,999 due at inception). or my favorite,
$99/month lease, no security deposit, no payment for 6 months. (Fine print…..must have 780 credit score, must be a recent college graduate, must be a veteran, must have lost a limb in a recent war, must be married with at least 1 child, and must be employed for twice what you’re worth.) Or something like that, which NOBODY is. But damn, it’s a great deal if you can get it.
Not a Consumer Reports best choice. Crappy reviews. Also, it doesn’t lease well. Alas.
I know. Isn’t this just spiffy? A little over our range, but hey, I’m 62. How many more cars will I buy before the grim reaper comes to get me? (Or before my loved ones take away the keys and say things like, ok old-timer, it’s time for you to stop driving. Come have some warm milk.) So I’m thinking, let’s have some gusto. Did i mention that this is a little sporty? And that it rides low? And that Mr. Bum Hip doesn’t have a hot dog’s chance at a baseball game of surviving the getting in and getting out process?
Back to the drawing board.
How about, we wondered, a truck? No, not a Ford F-150 (Honestly, can you picture me in such a butch vehicle? My friends would giggle). Rather, an SUV. I’ve never had one. The nice part is you don’t get in by lowering yourself, but more by sliding your ass onto a cheek-level seat, thereby easing back and ass issues. This might work.
Yep, we’re definitely closing in.
A word about the salesmen….
When you pull up to the dealership, they’re standing outside, in the driving rain, with no umbrella, circling like buzzards, waiting for your car door to open, so they can approach you with a wet shirt and a phony smile and say, Welcome to Abbruzzo Toyota, how’s your day going? (At which point you’d like to answer, fine, until just this minute.)
Confession: At the third dealership, husband and I sat in the car a few minutes discussing strategy while the buzzards got really soaked. I took a bit of schadenfreude watching them wilt. It’s not really my fault. What were they doing in the rain waiting to accost me? They could have waited inside. I was just trying to make them better salespeople.
The haggling game is the really ugly part, but I have a bit of an advantage.
1) I’m poor, so they can’t make me go over our budget. (I know, that sounds like a weakness. Depends on how you play it.)
2) I’m 62, and closing in my 10th car. The expression, that offer is only good for today, doesn’t work with me. Somehow, I know they’ll need to sell cars tomorrow too. Also, the phrase, take it home with you and see if you like it has no effect on me.
3) I have learned the art of negotiating and then saying thank you, and leaving, despite wet salespeople throwing themselves in front of my car. I know they’ll call me with a better offer in two hours.
It goes on, but you get the idea.
So we wheeled and dealed, (or is it wheeled and dealt?), and came up with a great lease on a beauty. The truck won out. It’s a Toyota Rav 4 and getting in and out is a breeze.
Isn’t it cute? Although now we have become those people that I used to hate because when you’re parked next to them, you can’t see past their huge vehicle to back out. Oh well, I say, just deal with it people. And suddenly I feel so southern:
Daddy’s got a new truck!
the world has changed. and i don’t mean, since i was a wee one, (although it has). i mean since i was a pot-smokin’ hippie. in my day, (ah, that fateful expression, designating someone who is certainly no longer young…..young people don’t ever say, in my day). but, in my day, back in the late 60’s through the early 80’s, when you needed to get stoned, you fired up a doobie. when you ran out, you called your dealer and scored. (you know this is authentic, because i’m displaying a complete mastery of the stoner’s lingo.) while i was in college, my dealer was a nice clean cut jewish kid from the suburbs, say…..scarsdale or forest hills, and he looked something like this, he lived on campus and was pre-med. (kind of ironic that someday he’d be prescribing drugs, legally). and you met, you copped a lid and all was right with the world. flash forward many years, and the entire experience has changed. sit. let’s discuss.
in the later years, when the masses realized that there’s huge money to be made, the nice boys were pushed out of the business and the riff-raff moved in, and the dealers took on a whole new look, like this guy:
starting to get scary right? these are not nice jewish boys studying medicine any more.
anyway, back to the story.
there was an article on the news the other night about a pot dealer in the rural south, named darlene mayes. she was busted for dealing in four states. turns out, she’s the godmother of the entire marijuana industry in oklahoma, kansas, missouri and arkansas. they found $276,000 in her house in small bills. bundles of $15,000 all over the house. not really so bizarre, you might think. all drug dealers have wads of cash around. oh. did i mention she’s 73? (clutch the pearls). she’s somebody’s grandmother. can you imagine? here she is. it’s a mug shot. she might be better looking than this, but really, at 73? how hot could she be? take a look:
the story went on to say that it’s not that uncommon anymore for senior citizens to be involved in the drug business. they’re quiet, they keep to themselves, don’t talk to many people and are not flashy with the money. the guy from the DEA said it’s an epidemic. there’s the case of francis cook, a pot dealer in england, who was busted with 200 plants and hauled off to the tower of london, (i’m guessing here). he is england’s oldest drug dealer. he is 83. wtf?
or the case of frances torres, 67, peddling drugs to minors in cleveland,
all of this makes me think about my grandmother. my nice bubbe. you know, the kosher one, from the shtetl in lithuania? i’m trying to imagine her doing high finance with thugs, weighing out bags of pot, or little nickels of cocaine and passing them gingerly,
in a school yard. or even worse, having people come to the house while she was making chicken soup and matzoh balls. my grandma? think about it: she finishes making the chopped liver for friday night shabbos dinner, opens the fridge to put it in, and pulls out a kilo of pot because mr. z and the crips are waiting on the porch. and i can just hear her saying: checks? i should take a check? from a drug dealer? what are you, meshuga? cash, mister, or no deal!
you see, my bubbe was a tough bird. she was a no-nonsense woman, from the old country, who spent a lot of time getting kicked around by cossacks. by the time she got to this country, i’m thinking she could have gone ten rounds with jake lamotta. she took no shit from anyone, which is a good thing, but mostly doesn’t make for a loving grandma/grandson experience. just sayin’. (truth be told, i never saw her with a dirty harry weapon in her hand, but i wasn’t with her all time, if you know what i mean. but i can picture it. )
i don’t know. what has the world come to? gam-gam is a drug dealer. (personally, i’ve never called my grandmother gam-gam, but i know people who did. mostly goyim). what can i say? it’s a cold world out there. although i must admit, that if i needed to cop a lid, (for the uninitiated, that’s drug parlance for purchase an ounce of pot,) i’d rather deal with gammy, than with vinnie “the knuckles” zambino.
at least gammy’s ounce comes with a knish and a dr. brown’s cel-ray tonic.
has it really been 15 years since james cameron’s titanic was released? really? you know it was nominated for 14 academy awards and won 11, tying ben hur for the most? you did know that, right? truth is, it didn’t win a lot of important ones, other than best picture and director. but no actor/actress/supporting anything. it won lots of music and special effects and sound engineering (what the hell is that, anyway?) and editing (good visual on a sinking ship?) and costumes. and now, it turns out, honoring the 15th anniversary of the second highest grossing film of all time, (avatar being the highest, by the same director, i might add), and the 100th anniversary of the sinking of same ship, it has been released in a 3-d version in theaters, and also in giant blind–your-eyes 3-d at the imax theater, for those of you that really want to go down with the ship.
now, i have a confession to make. i’d never seen it. (clutch the pearls).
how, you might ask, have i not? well, to be honest, when it was released, i thought to myself, (and i imagine you did too), i know how it ends, so i really don’t need to see it. i know, not the best answer, but believe it or not, i, and from what i understand, three other people on earth, missed it. (i’m guessing everyone else has seen it, based on $1.8 billion dollars at the box office.) and then the years passed, and the furor died down, (the song, however did not), and people kindof forgot about it, and so did i.
flash forward fifteen years.
so now they’re re-releasing it and i decided that i really ought to see it once, at least to relieve the feeling of the cheese stands alone, to which i am prone. so a queue-up on netflix and voila, the film is mine.
did you know that this film is over three-and-a-half hours? mon dieu! that’s really a commitment, so i serialized it and watched it in sections. part one, the love story begins, up to, but not including the iceberg, (pause for a day) and then, part two, the action story, the sinking ship. (there are some who will decry this practice as killing the pace of the movie, by stopping, but, (remember the premise), i’m old, so every now and then i need to make water, as the saying goes, so it’s better for me as a miniseries, if you take my meaning. so now i’ve seen it. not in 3-d mind you, (completely unnecessary) as actually, the only moving part of the whole movie was the water, and big woo. it’s water. it’s not pandorans swooping off cliffs, taming their direhorses performing immense roller-coaster thrills, or the giant tree of life, the hometree, eywa, falling on an alien civilization. it’s just water flooding corridors. personally i didn’t think i needed to spend $28 for husband and i, for that.
so blu-ray at home was fine for me, thank you very much.
you might ask, how did one of the four remaining people on planet earth, that hadn’t seen it, like it? i can answer that truthfully now.
it was good. no, let me amend that. it was fucking amazing. what a beautiful movie. (i know you’ve seen it so bear with me). here we go:
the beauty, the scope of it and the visual splendor boggled the mind. the acting, however, was a little wooden. leonardo dicaprio as jack, was enthusiastic and young and did ok. kate winslet as rose, carried a quality that was perfect and lovely. see earlier note about winning prizes for costumes. take a look:
(you know i have this same outfit, but i can’t wear it anymore as i’ve put on a few pounds).
rose is from the aristocracy. she has lines like put the degas in the bedroom. jack is a poor vagabond artist. he has lines like, is that a degas? is that a picasso? (name-dropper) can i paint you naked? he also has the following line: i didn’t do this, rose. you know i didn’t. i didn’t do it. (sad, but true. who writes this stuff?) but they meet and fall in love while aboard. i might add, not before he teaches her to spit. apparently, this is a skill that is overlooked and not taught at miss muff’s academy for girls, where rose took her education. she not only learns to spit over the side of the ship like a drunken sailor, but masters the art of hocking a ginder in the back of her throat, forming the subsequent phlegm into a projectile. (too much information?) she actually gets to use this new-learned skill in her final scene with her fiance, where she completely wets his face and tux with a huge clam from deep in her throat. well, i found that part utterly charming. (but then i’m from jersey city, …..we used to have contests in the schoolyard…..but that’s a story for another day.)
i only wish they’d had some dialogue that was not cornball crap. seriously, the spoken word might have ruined the film in the hands of a lesser director. if i heard jack…..rose…..jack…..rose…..jack…..rose…..one more time i think i might have jumped ship. but because of the pace, the sets, the costumes, the story, the music, the cinematography, and the magnitude of the actual ship,the movie was magic. not even billy zane, as rose’s fiance`, with his hystrionics and flailing nostrils (from the ali mcgraw school of acting) could sink this movie. nice hairpiece no? don’t believe me? google him. bald as a baby. a bald baby, that is.the action was truly breathtaking. i found myself holding my breath at times, when they were underwater trying to escape certain doom. (i understand there’s an online cult that holds contests to see if you can hold your breath as long as jack and rose in that one swim sequence. i’m not sure what the winner gets.)
the final scenes where rose is afloat and jack dies while holding her in the freezing north atlantic, i must say, brought a tear to mine own cynical eyes as i watched true love freeze to death. (kindof as it does in most marriages). but then gloria stuart, you know, rose, but like a million years later, the old lady, throws the blue diamond into the sea, and croaks instantly (and who wouldn’t, having cast a gem that cost millions to a watery grave?) she was nominated for an award but i thought they made too big a deal out of her performance. she was ok, but i think the hoopla was about the fact that she was 87 more than anything else. she was a real glamour puss in the 20’s (yes, almost 100 years ago), and worked with james whale (the director of the original frankenstein) in early horror. the fact that she endured for 70 years in show business made people nuts. but for me, she was just ok. give me jessica tandy or ruth gordon on a good day, anytime. anyway, in the film, moments later, her soul is transformed and is back on the ship, climbing the stairs in the dining room,
with all of that glorious white linen and her handsome love at the top of the stairs. (cue the tears).
well, to be honest, i was a tad verklempt. there was indeed moisture descending down my cheeks. folks, this is an amazing movie. sorry it took me fifteen years to see it, but now that i have, it’s another classic love story to embrace, right up there with casablanca and gone with the wind. and my heart will go on and on. (if only i didn’t ever have to hear that song again.)
tonight’s feature is about a practice which has been troubling me for a long time. perhaps since i was a wee one. it’s about nicknames.
as you all know, my name is david. i’ve always been david. never dave. not sure why. over the years brother has called me dave, but not parents or sister or other relatives. not sure why about that either. he calls me dave but refers to me as david. he’ll say, hey dave, pass the lasagna, but then follow with, geez i simply asked david for the lasagna and i got attitude. strange. but this is not about me, but rather the bizarre habit of the world-at-large changing one’s given name to something either close, or entirely different. sit. let’s discuss.
at first, i thought the concept of nicknames was the same as initials for certain words. like WMD is short for weapons of mass destruction. if you say WMD, which is five syllables, as opposed to the long version, it saves you two entire syllables of speech. how economical. practically cuts your talking time in half. (where’s the sarcasm font?) now i can see writing WMD instead of the other because it’s a huge difference, but speaking it? not so much. same with PTSD. four letters. easier to type than post-traumatic-stress disorder. i get that concept. so i always figured nicknames were a shorter version of your real name. until i gave it some thought.
let’s start with a couple of simple ones:
michael becomes mike. two syllables versus one. ok. i’ll buy it. but when michael becomes mikey, WTF? what does that get you? you’ve simply changed the man’s name. not only that, you’ve infant-isized him. (i needed a word, ok?). i just don’t get it.
how about john? why, in the wide-wide-world-of-sports does john become jack? WTF? same amount of letters, syllables, breath. why would people change it? and how about johnny? that’s longer, you dolts. i’m thinking if his mother wanted him to be jack, then by god she would have named him so. don’t get it.
why is margaret changed to peggy? or maggie. not even close in nature or scope. although sometimes there really is a maggie.
scott becomes scotty. scotty is longer. why change it? (i wonder if that happened before or after the whole scottish terrier issue, which is also a puzzlement. people buy that breed and refer to it as a scotty. suppose a guy had a scottish terrier and he named it scott. would the dog then be scotty the scotty?).
hey, listen up. i warned you a couple of years back i was a sick fuck.
penelope? ooh, can’t handle that. way too long. let’s change her name to a coin.
robert. oy. among the worst offenders. why can’t you just be named robert anymore? no, you have to be rob, or bob, or bobby, or robbie. the very idea.
then there’s any girl on earth whose first name begins with a d. diana, darla, denise, dora, etc. many of them are reduced to dee or even worse, dee dee.
there’s another whole subset of people that insist on changing your name if your hair is a certain color. have you ever noticed that a lot of redheads are often called red? like red buttons? or red barber? (red barber’s first name was walter, for cryin’ out loud). or worse, they’re nicknamed rusty? i think tin man’s (wizard of oz) nickname should be rusty. when dorothy first meets him, he is actually rusty! and especially because he doesn’t t have a first name to begin with? and he wasn’t even a redhead. i swear, i think people are just not paying attention.
what about poor elizabeth. a lovely given name. no, let’s make it liz. or beth. or lizbeth. or lizzy. (did you know that elizabeth taylor hated being called liz?)
a couple more egregious ones:
alexander. let’s just call him, al. or alex. or alec. or xander.
albert: mmm, al, bert, bertie ( that last one was from the king’s speech).
archibald. let’s go with arch. or archie.
you do realize i’m still in the letter a? i could go on but i think you get it by now.
i don’t know. i’m not in favor of it. i think people should be left with the names they’ve been given. if they don’ t like their own moniker then they should change it themselves.
husband just yelled from the next room: dave, what are you doing?
oy. gotta go.
interesting day today.
as you all know all too well by now, (what? you all know all? might as well have said “as all y’all know”. that southern thang. sorry about that.) but as you do all know, the sciatica is a part of me now, like a bad tooth. (difference being i’d have pulled the tooth three months ago, whereas i can’t do much about this “hip thing”). so i’m limited in some of my activity. as previously mentioned, i can’t stand still for more than a minute without the sensation of a hot knife in my thigh. i can walk short distances but it helps if i sit for a minute every hundred yards or so. and i can lie down without pain. (woohoo). and i can sit…..in a comfortable chair, with no discomfort.
however, this past week, a road trip was upon us. husband and his cousins wanted to drive to punta gorda to visit some other cousins in town for the winter. (you remember punta gorda don’t you? slammed by hurricane charlie in 2004?) i suspect they’ve rebuilt and i’d love to see it, and loving husband as i do, and totally grateful that he accepts my extended family, with their various and sundry levels of insanity and issues, (hey, i never said i was exempt…..we’re cut from the same cloth. i’m nuts as well), i said, count me in. i’d love to meet your cousins. but with this sciatica thing, the prospect of two-and-a-half hours getting there and ditto to get home, i feared the worst for my hip, being confined that long. so i took a pass and opted to stay home. husband was saddened but understood. and it seems i missed quite the party. sit. let’s discuss.
he left at around 8:30am in the suv with his local cousins, arrived 3 hours later and spent a lovely afternoon with his cousin. upon returning home, he said that i’d really have liked her. she’s 70ish, bright, and charming. i’m certain that i would have, indeed.
as we sat and chatted over cocktails tonight, he informed me that he was actually glad i didn’t go with. puzzled, i asked why? the conversation went something like this:
him: babe, i’m glad you didn’t come today.
him: well, it turns out that rosie is as great as i remember her from our childhood.
him: well…..she has this husband. he’s older than we are. like 76.
me: so? we’ll be that age someday, with any luck. i like old people.
him: um…..as it turns out, he’s not a big lover of gay men. so i felt a little uneasy.
me: hey, we’re savvy adults. we can handle that.
him: well…..not just that.
me: what? what aren’t you telling me?
him: he uses the expression “fucking jews” a lot.
me: WHAT? (clutch the pearls).
him: yeah. turns out, he hates jews. he’s a huge anti-semite. something about “banking, horns, drinking baby’s blood, killing christ and cheap miserly bastards, damned for all time by the almighty jesus.”
me: you’ve got to be kidding.
him: no. have i mentioned he also hates blacks? i can’t repeat it but the n-word came up a lot, especially in relation to the President.
me: jesus h. tap-dancing christ.
him: no, actually he kind of likes jesus.
me: well, i’m guessing that the jesus i know would not like him very much.
him: probably not.
me: so what did you do? did you react? give him a severe tongue-lashing? flash the bird? bitch-slap?
him: well, it must have been a divine intervention, because about twenty minutes after we arrived, i had an allergic reaction of some kind and my throat closed up and i got a bit of laryngitis and mostly just listened and whispered with rosie, while he expounded about how “obama and his jew cabinet were all communists and way too tolerant of all them queers, and needed to be taught a lesson.”
me: well, i can only say it’s a very good thing i didn’t go. this jew homey don’t git laryngitis. elderly or not, i would have whooped that old racist, bigoted man’s butt.
him: yeah, had i been in my own car, i would have decked him and stormed out. could have given him a reason to hate “italian cousins” as well.
me: you’re my hero.
him: poor rosie. married to that. well, i haven’t seen her for 22 years, and i suspect 22 years from now, one or both of us will be dead, having hopefully outlived the anti-semitic , racist asshole.
me: want me to drive to punta gorda and push him in the pool? i will. i could fix it so he’d end up on unsolved mysteries. no-one need ever know what happened to him. i’m not from jersey city for nuthin’, ya know.
him: naw, i wouldn’t.
me: so he has NO idea that jesus was a jew?
him: guess nobody’s ever told him.
me: well, do you have his email? i’d like to fill him in.
him: LOL. let it go.
me: ok. sorry/glad i missed it.
have i mentioned how wonderful the sciatica can be?
where was i? oh yeah, sciatica.
i know…..boring. aren’t you tired of it? i know i am. next week will be four months of hopeless, helpless cripple with no relief in sight. alas. after rounds of pain medication, stretching, chiropractic, exercise, physical therapy and finally cortisone injections in my ass i am out of options. the only thought left to me is that maybe it’s not sciatica but something else. so i finally succumbed, and at the tender age of 61, (well, actually, 62 this week…..happy birthday to me)…..i went for an MRI. have you had one? oh my, this is a story to be told. sit. let’s discuss.
after jumping through the hoops, (you know, doctor’s prescription, referral, insurance company clearance, pick a place, make an appointment and show up) it went something like this:
it begins with a few quick questions; any metal in your pockets? any jewelry made of metal? piercings i can’t see? shrapnel in your body? (i’m thinking if i had shrapnel in my body, it’s no wonder i hurt) and after clearance, they give you earplugs and you lie on a gurney-like stretcher and they slide you into this cocoon-like machine. they tell me that if you’re claustrophobic, that you’d have difficult time of it, but i’m not, so i wouldn’t know.
it’s an imposing piece of equipment. take a look :
so my tech guy puts a squeeze-toy in my hand and instructs me to indicate if i’m in trouble of any kind as he slides me in. now, it’s tight in there, but i’m guessing that a coffin is probably tighter. (i could be wrong, never having actually been in a coffin), but it’s really not so bad that one needs to freak out.
this looks way more comfy than the machine. btw, i had NO pillow. harrumph!
and then it begins:
there’s a kind of creaking noise you hear like an old water pump priming itself, which is no big deal. then suddenly, rather loudly it sounds like a cruise ship leaving the harbor…..WAH….WAH….WAH…WAH…WAH…etc for a minute or so. it’s kind of loud. then a minute later the jackhammer starts: rat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat..tat….etc. oy. some very serious noise. but certainly bearable. no motion, just a lot of noise. no pain, no touching, nada. noise.
for me, what was unbearable was that in that position, my leg was killing me, and you’re not supposed to move. i thought if i could shift a little i could relieve the pain, but i tried not to. then my nose itched. which is funny, because even if you wanted to, you couldn’t raise your hand to your face to scratch it. it’s tight in there. i thought if i closed my eyes i might actually nod off, with the rhythmic pounding serving as my white noise. but the leg…..the goddamn leg…..
so i opened my eyes and tried to distract myself for the twenty minutes by looking around the tube. right off, i saw a black speck just above my eyes. at first i though it might be a bug. you know, a tiny insect. and of course my mind went wild.
i began to think that they’d slide me out of that teleportation pod,…..i mean, tube….. and the bug and i would become one, the brundle fly. (from that movie? the fly?) and that we’d swap body parts and i’d get his head and he’s get my hands and i might be stuck with a really tiny fly penis and that would be depressing. imagine me trying to kiss husband goodnight like this:
or that soon i’d sprout thick hair on my back and have a craving for refined sugar? and then i realized i already have thick hair on my back and my middle name is krispy kreme, so what am i worried about? no, none of that happened. just a lovely twenty minutes in a noisy tube. (god i’m such a psycho sometimes.)
i should add here that they found nothing. at least nothing they could blame for my pain. alas. oh well, all things considered, it was not really a bad experience at all. i can readily endorse having one, should you need it. but a word to the wise: be sure to tell the techie the truth, because there was that one story about the woman with the big knockers and the nipple ring, and the electro-magnetic force grabbed it and it took them a week to get her out. but don’t let that scare you.
i’ve discussed in earlier pieces that i don’t exactly wear the jock-strap of the family. it’s true. i throw like a girl. and i don’t mean a softball-playing lesbian either. i mean a 10-year old girl. and my least favorite sport in high school had to be basketball, being all of a 5’6″ budding homo, as a freshman. so it’s no surprise to learn that we don’t attend a lot of sporting events. well, truth be told i watch the olympic mens’ gymnastics every four years or so, but that’s pretty much about the beautiful bodies on those boys and not so much about parallel bars or rings. no big surprise there either. (seriously the biceps and asses on those young men make me puddle…..right on the spot.) so it was a tad unusual tonight when husband and i found ourselves at a miami heat game. i know, clutch the pearls. how? why?, you might ask. sit. let’s discuss.
i have a new neighbor living next door and he’s a really nice guy. he’s obviously successful and happy to be in this neighborhood with such fine upstanding neighbors such as husband and me. (ok, i’m surmising a bit here). but a couple of weeks ago, he stopped me outside and we had a conversation:
tom: hi dave, how’s it goin’?
me: great tom, yourself?
tom: can’t complain. tell me dave, do you like basketball?
me: not really. it’s too much like sports for my taste.
tom: very funny. ever been to a game?
me: naw. if there aren’t fat ladies singing, count me out. why?
tom: i have these tickets a friend gave me for march 6th. take them, please. as my guest.
now, i’ve never been, but with free tickets, i might be game for a game. (to turn a phrase) free is good.
so tonight, husband and i had an adventure.
we arrived and made our way inside and were directed to our seats, which just happened to be courtside tickets. see below:
we were right behind these guys. pretty awesome seats, no?
the pre-game free throw began and there were a lot of tall men on the court tossing around what seemed like 100 basketballs; bank shots, lay-ups, 3-pointers, blind shots, dunks, (boy, for a non-sports type sissy, i’m pretty good with the lingo, no?). and we were literally in the middle of it. the opposing coach and his staff were right in front of us. at one point, a player got knocked down on the court and the posse ran out to help; a towel guy, a heat-pack guy, a broom guy mopping up sweat puddles (yeah, i know, real attractive job. i wonder how much it pays?). by the way, while he was down, the heat girl dancers came out to entertain. they were a bunch of fabulous women who mostly looked like this: (i wonder what you have to do to get this job). see below.
when we first arrived the crowd was minimal and i wondered aloud to husband, why do they need such a big arena if nobody comes? just before kickoff, tip-off, knock-off, whatever, the crowd swelled and looked something like this. and remember, we’re sitting on the floor: it was deafening! did i mention that i love the smell of testosterone in the evening?
another thing that puzzled me is that the heat was playing the new jersey nets, and yet their tanktop uniforms sported a big NY. i asked a few people but nobody seemed to know the answer. the scoreboard said nj nets, but the shirts said ny. hmmm. it’s a puzzlement. feel free to enlighten me in the comment section.
it occurred to me that i really don’t belong at sporting events. each time the heat scored, the crowd roared at 20 decibels with horns and sirens and pandemonium. each time the nets scored it was like a library in that cavernous arena. not a sound! i felt bad for the other team, which of course is completely unacceptable in sports. you have a team, you root and scream for them and hate the other team like poison. (i’m pretty sure that if you look in the dictionary, that’s the official definition of sport).
the other thing i noticed is that it’s expensive. the tickets (which were a gift) were $150/ea. parking nearby ranges from $15-$50. (i know, how crazy is that? i mean, even with free tickets!) then there are souvenir programs, sports junk, (sorry, licensed sports items), etc. and then there’s food.
the high rollers (or is that a gambling term?), in the seats which cost hundreds, are apparently instant members of the Dewar’s Club. what that gets you is entree to the box level for dinner, for which you pay $80/pp, which i think is a lot, but hey, i’m neither high nor a roller. (there it is again, that pesky top 1%), but the food looks something like this:
a 12-oz draft beer for another $9, a styrofoam bowl of chili
for a whopping $14, and cocktails beginning at $12 per single, $18 per double. whew. tickets, parking, a snack and a drink or two, and it’s $300 per couple per game. a tad pricey for me. i’ll stick to the cheap entertainment like a subscription to the opera. (well, it’s cheap compared to that!!!)
i should mention that there is a downside to those privileged seats. every time the heat did something exciting, the entire staff on the bench in front of us stood up to cheer/curse/whistle, and our view of the court was entirely blocked. oh well.
we left early, as it was a rout for the heat, we were really not that into it, and all i could think of was the traffic getting out. husband hated the entire affair, but as ever, he was a good egg about the whole thing. i enjoyed the grand look-see experience. and yet, as amazing and entertaining as it was, i don’t see us lining up for season tickets any time soon
although i am considering buying a jockstrap. i mean, just as a fashion accessory.
i have a confession to make. i’ve lied to you.
you know how i constantly tell you that i refuse to watch television that doesn’t have a script? a/k/a reality tv? the bachelor, and of course, the bachelorette? survivor? (survivor samoa, survivor australia, thailand, africa, borneo, ad nauseum), american idol? top chef? dancing with the stars? (which is neither dancing nor stars…..see chaz bono). well, there is one guilty pleasure. and i’m here to confess in front of god and man and baby jesus. i watch judge judy.
ok. not every day, or all of the time, but i occasionally drop in on the good judge’s program and i must admit, i get a kick out of the proceedings. sit. let’s discuss.
i suppose that the first question one might be inclined to ask is why would anybody take their legal issues to a court of public opinion which is actually public? as in, on tv? wtf? have you completely lost your mind? the world is not only watching, but laughing at your sorry ass. let me give an example:
the case of the suing sisters.
sister number 1, let’s call her showanda, (not her real name, but extraordinarily close). you know the type.
is suing sister number 2, loquisha (no, they’re not twins. perhaps the mother was in vaudeville. not sure).
so showanda claims that while she was serving time in prison, (crime undisclosed, apparently irrelevant, your honor), loquisha went to her sister’s self-storage cubicle and borrowed her television, broke it, and now refuses to pay for a new one. so showanda is suing her. loquisha, in her countersuit, claims that she paid rent to live with her sister, and was not notified that said sister was not paying the rent until 12 hours before she and her sister were evicted, so she wants compensation for rent paid. these girls are sisters!! (i swear people, i couldn’t make this stuff up. except of course, for the names.)
judge judy takes the countersuit first, and, in her infinite wisdom, ascertains that loquisha lived for 2 months in her sister’s house and paid 2 months rent. case closed. she paid, she lived. showanda owes loquisha nada. el zippo. needless to say she’s pissed off.
now for the original claim.
the good judge ruled that loquisha has to give the television back, and ordered a marshal of the court (not to be confused with a court-martial….i know, this legal crap gets tricky), to accompany loquisha to her domicile to see that she returns it. now showanda is screaming, “but it’s broken, your honor”, but judge judy, quite frankly, dealing with literally the detritus of humanity, has had enough, and utters, i don’t care. judgement for the plaintiff, counter-suit dismissed. good-bye. (gotta love her. she knows when it’s over).
ok, deride me for watching, but this stuff is delicious. it makes my life seem so much nicer than it actually is. i can’t even begin to think of anyone i need to sue, much less for a broken television.
the show goes on and on with such cases, each one better than the last, and when they break for a commercial, what do you suppose it’s for? hemorrhoid cream? deodorant? the new chevy cruze? no, my friends. it’s for slip and fall attorneys. the law offices of schwartz and catalano. (not their real names. are you crazy? they’ll sue me!) so it’s dial 1-800 get-money. i swear! i guess they figure if you’re watching judge judy, at 4pm in the afternoon, that:
a) you’re out of work.
b) there is a remote possibility that you need money. (being out of work)
c) yet another remote possibility that you’re out of work because of an injury. hence:
1-800 get-money. (to tell the truth, while watching, i got caught up in the moment and gave serious consideration to suing someone. they make it look so easy. just call the attorneys and they claim that i might be entitled to $10,000 for lost wages, and they give you money. but then i think, hmmm…..if i run up against judge judy in my lawsuit, i’m likely to piss her off. and that’s never a pretty option. case dismissed.
you know how i tend to go on about injustice? well, not in the political sense, like how mitt romney can spend his way to the nomination for president because he can afford it? i care, but i don’t write about it. or when police personnel commit the same traffic crime as a hairdresser, but somehow go unpunished? i care about that too, but don’t opine. but there are certain situations that i think are just not right and need to be exposed to the populace-at-large (or at least all six of my readers). the first is about weight restrictions on luggage on airplanes. sit. let’s discuss.
these days, i happen to think that the airline industry is out of control with their rules and hidden fees. the whole system is skewed, and not in a good way. for instance:
i weigh 170 pounds. (there, i said it. out loud. i used to be 155, but that’s a story for another day). when i fly, and check a bag, i believe the weight limit on my luggage is 50 pounds. if it’s 51 pounds i get charged extra. do the math. my luggage and i, ideally weigh 220 pounds before i get charged extra. (stay with me people, i think this is going to piss you off as well). this first picture is not me, but represents my travel style:
now, along comes mr. lard, (you all know him,) take a look:
he’s the guy that, before take-off, when you’re sitting in your aisle seat, and the hot guy with the amazing biceps two seats over is in his window seat (and you’re anticipating enjoying that view for the duration, and flirting a little, across that glorious empty seat between you,),
squeezes his way down the narrow aisle and you suddenly get really religious and begin to pray, dear baby jesus, please don’t let this man sit in the middle seat and loathe my space.) yeah, that guy. and when jesus doesn’t come through, you’re stuck next to this guy, and the first thing he wants to do is put up the armrest so that he can spill his girth sideways. and most of the time, we’re polite because we don’t really want to insult people to their faces. he can’t even put down his tray table without it being tilted, because it’s resting on his belly. so he sits with his arms folded for three hours, thinking he’s doing you a favor, because he knows he’s big, and he knows he’s sitting on half of your seat, (which is half-again too small for humanity) and we endure.
not right. but i’ll come back to this part.
the real injustice comes when he checks his bag.
let’s say, for the sake of apples to apples, that his bag, like mine, is exactly 50 pounds. so, technically he’s within the weight restriction and doesn’t get charged extra. but if he weighs in at 325 pounds, and his bag is 50 pounds, that’s a whopping (from the english word whopper-with cheese, would you like fries with that?) total of 375 pounds, compared to my 220. and he doesn’t get charged extra! wtf? but if i go one pound over in the luggage, i do. fair? i think not.
as bill maher is so fond of saying, there should be a new rule.
there should be a weight limit, say 300 pounds (and a scale at check-in) for you (holding your bag) and if you go over the limit then you’re penalized. that way, the thinner people can take more stuff
and the t-rex of the species has to take the cheese wheels and cookies out of his luggage and put them in his carry-on
i think that’s fair. this is really a pet peeve of mine, and i hope the airlines public relations people read this and change the rules.
now, back to mr. lard whose fat rolls are touching your thigh.
i’m thinking, (and i could be wrong…..or just new york style rude), that when he plants his big-ness in the seat next to me, and moves that armrest up, that i should be allowed to say:
not so fast, kemosabe. that armrest defines my space and i’d like my little tiny area to remain mine, to squander as i please. if i choose to regale myself in splendor and tilt that seatback to the full, luxurious 5 degree angle to which i’m entitled, so be it. it ain’t much, but it’s all i’ve got. you have your space as well. please confine yourself to it. so you will put that armrest down or there will be no peanuts for you, babar!
after all, he wasn’t embarrassed about eating utah, why should i be subjected to sitting next to the mormon tabernacle choir? and if i hurt his feelings, he’ll have to content himself with eating his cheese wheel and cookies without setting them down on his tray table.
i’ve written about various hoaxes over time, so tonight i thought we might revisit last year’s post about that most romantic of days. it’s a very odd tradition called st. valentine’s day. you all know the story of the origins, so i won’t bore you with the details. (briefly, a man named valentinius, (see photo),
(ok, a very fey man), lived back in ancient rome, when young men, possibly soldier material, were forbidden to marry, because single guys were more willing to fight and die for mother rome, than were men with loved ones. as a kind of chaplain he performed the marriages anyway, against the will of the emperor, and was found out and murdered and became a christian martyr. you did know all that, right? should i have said spoiler alert?) anyway, it was such a romantic gesture that it is suspected of being the origin. but all of that aside, today, in modern times, valentine’s day is a big deal on several levels.
1) single people of the world, who think it’s a load of crap. i can just hear them seething. let’s just pick a day to make us single guys and gals feel miserable. i’m a happy person all year long, and single by choice, because i want to be, but somehow on valentine’s day i can’t venture out into a restaurant because i’m alone, single, and loving life, but there’s no significant other on my arm and couples will gaze upon my independence and pity me. ME??? spare me your pity. do i look like i need it? (see photo)
think about it, people, it’s one day, out of the whole year. i mean what’s the point? you either love and have someone all year or you don’t. why the fuss over one day? (see, there’s a groundhog thing going on here. one insane day perpetuated by…..if we only knew….).
then there are the couples. they fall into categories as well.
a) new couples. oh geez, everything is romantic to them. (again, photo)
the moon, the stars, a walk on the beach, cupcakes for two, crying together watching lady and the tramp, (ok, the guy’s a dork, but she loves him with his tears.) for them, valentine’s day is an excuse to do cutesy things, that actually make the rest of us a little nauseous, but if you say that out loud, you’re a curmudgeon, so we smile and kvell a little for young love and all its glory. (i actually do. deep down, part of me is a sentimental old fluff. and hey, i was young once, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far,away.)
b) old couples they’ve been together awhile. i’ll get to the gay couples in a minute. let’s talk about straight couples. (wow, could i do a chapter or two about what straight men don’t understand about valentine’s day. the women will be cheering in a minute.). women are more romantic than straight men. period. straight men love manly things; sports, beer, golf, fraternizing with other men, (but not for sex), but including bragging, boasting, talking trash, exaggerating, and general camaraderie. kind of like grown up college boys. women are more sensitive, loving, caring, better human beings all round. (i know i betray my own sex, but of course i’m talking here about straight men), and it’s all too true. so this one day rolls around, and the female half of the equation generally buys into it, that her man ought to show a little emotion or affection by way of a gift. a card. a box of chocolates. a surprise dinner out. some acknowledgement that he has access to her vagina. something. and a lot of guys get it, and they do it. some out of love, some out of fear, some out of i just don’t want to hear i fucked up, but they do, god love ‘em. some don’t. no punani for them on the 14th.
c) the gays. my people. we get it. we know romantic love better than ennis del mar and jack twist (brokeback mountain, for you beginners). and it’s the same with us. some guys go all out. we have one couple that we love and the two of them are so romantic. they do the nice restaurant thing, and sometimes jewelry. ah romance. it’s nice. and i love them for that. they told me today, that rather than go out to a crazy overpriced restaurant with poor service because the staff is overworked on a day like today, they bring in chinese food, set it up on the coffee table and sit on the floor in the living room, by the fireplace and have a romantic dinner. (well, they don’t have a fireplace, it’s florida, ok?) but they put the dvd of the fireplace on the tv and cozy up and feed each other with chopsticks. kindof chinese lady and the tramp. (i might have made that last part up.) but they’re true role models for romance in the gay world.
d) the non-romantic gays. to them, it’s a night where, as a couple, there are specials and deals at happy hour on drinks, or they cash in on valentine’s day special dinners around town, because they are a couple. but it’s a little like a free meal at denny’s on your birthday. just not packed with a lot of emotion or love. (see photo below).
as for me, husband and i are good. we have love every day. don’t need a dinner out or jewelry. (thank god, because quite frankly, i can’t afford diamonds). we know we’re in for the long run, and that’s enough. i love him, he loves me, and that’s the way it’s supposed to be. (catchy song lyric, no?) so, in conclusion, who’s perpetuating the st. valentine’s event these days? hallmark? godiva? ftd? madison avenue? best buy? (i actually saw a commercial that said, buy your honey a kindle. talk about romance!) i’m not sure who’s behind it, but i do know, as sure as punxatawnie phil is going to poke his little head out next year, and the huddled masses will pay heed to that tomfoolery, that there will be some cards, roses and candy circling the globe on the 14th. so the truth is, this one’s as big a hoax as any of them. the difference is, that by the end of the day, there will be a lot of couples smooching, happy, getting laid, and renewed in their love and relationships, all for the price of a box of chocolates. not a bad deal, when you think about it.
something a little different tonight.
let me begin with, i like brad pitt. a river runs through it, legends of the fall, se7en, thelma and louise. i like him a lot.
husband and i just watched a movie. it was an older movie, circa 1989. (i know what you’re thinking; gone with the wind is an older movie, or wuthering heights), but this was relatively older and i’ll tell you what i mean. it was an early brad pitt movie, from the very beginning of his career. unlike say, jake gyllenhaal, who started as a kid in city slickers when he was like 10, brad was 24 in his first film in 1987. he made a dozen or so appearances between 1987 and 1989. his early credits include man with drink on beach, preppie guy in fight, and 4 episodes of dallas. he was twenty-six when he made this film, and was essentially, the lead. he plays a high school senior, and his boyish cuteness carried the look of an eighteen-year-old. have i mentioned that the film was a huge slice of dreck? (that’s yiddish for stuff that comes out of your butthole). sit, let’s discuss.
husband and i watch a lot of movies and i have seen my fair share of crap in my movie-going career. this movie was a dung-heap. brad wasn’t alone. roddy mcdowell was in it as well. (he must have needed a mortgage payment or something.) geez, to go from lassie come home with elizabeth taylor in the 40s and the iconic planet of the apes series, to playing a very fey high school principal with a penchant for staring at young girls panties, alternating with dressing in drag on the school stage while alone. so sad. martin mull was also in it as comic relief. he spent the entire movie with an arrow in his chest traipsing across california trying to get help. have i mentioned it was dreck? i believe i did.
so it’s this slasher movie, a la halloween, friday the 13th, et al, but with no budget. it was pitiful. there was one car in the whole movie (about seniors in high school). one freakin’ car! and i’m pretty sure they used a can of dutch-boy red vermillion paint for the blood. there was also a deranged janitor chasing co-eds with a string mop, through the hallowed halls of what looked like bakersfield high school, a vice-principal who resembled the wicked witch of the west, and an overweight gym teacher who meets his demise on a trampoline. dreck.
i know what you’re thinking; why didn’t we turn it off after twenty minutes? dunno. it was like an accident on the highway; you can’t look at it, but you can’t look away. i sat for the first forty minutes in utter shock that brad pitt would do this until it finally dawned on me. he wasn’t brad pitt yet.
here he was, this young good looking guy, trying to make a career of it, and he needed face-time. he needed producers, directors, (especially casting directors) to see him work. he also needed to learn his craft, how movies are made, how actors behave on the set, to hone his professionalism, and in general how the business works. (he’d take away a lot more, later, when he worked with the likes of robert redford, anthony hopkins, frances mcdormand, julia roberts and others. but when you’re young and aspriring, it’s about the exposure. take a look. what a cutie…..
at the end, husband said, i’m amazed he hasn’t bought up every copy on earth and burned them. but i say he needn’t. he was just an aspiring player learning a trade. nothing for which to be ashamed. (except that it was dreck.) the imdb database and netflix archives are filled with early outings from some of today’s major stars. and a lot of that includes appearances in sitcoms, soaps, kojaks, etc.
i might add here, that the other night we watched a national lampoon film called van wilder, starring a very young (college age) ryan reynolds, before he was ryan reynolds.
that one was actually very good (as national lampoon almost always is), and ryan showed hints of what he’d later become. so in a sense, we like our faves’ early stuff and watch films of this ilk, often. (it’s just usually not dreck of this magnitude.)
so even though poor brad was straddled with no screenplay, no budget, no director and no respectable co-stars (other that the two aforementioned bit players, i think he did ok. and remember that his current wife, angelina, did 14 films before gia, her breakout performance. if i ever get to meet him, i probably won’t bring up any of this. i’ll just talk about tree of life. (between you and me, also dreck).
that’s a funny title, i know, but you’ll understand why, shortly. i’ve mentioned before, many times, that by professional standards, i’m no athlete. (actually, by fifth grade schoolgirl standards i’m not an athlete either), so you won’t often find me either engaged in sporting activities or watching them. but upon occasion, i do frequent a local sports bar/restaurant with over 100 tv screens and more sports happening than you can imagine. (what’s that line from the movie apocalypse now? i love the smell of testosterone in the morning. or is it napalm? i forget.) either way, there are a lot of guys in there each time we go. i have a bone to pick with the decor of this place. not the multitudinous abundance of television sets, but rather the men’s room. sit. let’s discuss.
in this restaurant, the ribs are sublime, the beer is ice-cold and there are usually a lot of hot guys making manly, grunting sounds (especially when their team scores). personally, i like that more than the actual sport itself.
eventually, it comes time to use the facilities, and here’s how it goes:
i’ll enter the men’s room, step up to a urinal, unzip my pants and proceed to do my business. as i stand there, glancing up, my eyes espy (in addition to yet another television), a series of pictures on the wall. here is the first one:
now, i’m as red-blooded as the next guy, and i can certainly appreciate that this girl has a certain quality about her. i can’t quite put my finger on it, (not that she’d let me put my finger on it), but she certainly deserves to be on that cover. glancing about i see this one as well:
and yet another, and i see a pattern emerging here. lots of healthy women:
and one more:
ok, this last one is a little slutty. i don’t think she’s a sports illustrated gal. seriously, who dresses like that to drive a cab?
so here’s what i’m thinking. a straight guy walks into a men’s room to do what the beer is calling him to do. he is standing with his pants open and his manhood in his hand and is glancing around the room looking at these fine-looking, scantily-clad women. there is at least a remote possibility that he might get, shall we say, aroused, especially after a couple of brewskies. how is he supposed to tuck it back into his jeans? i’m hoping he’s wearing his dolphins or jets jersey NOT tucked in, but rather hanging over his general frontal area. and what happens if a dad comes in with his little boy to make pee-pees, while mr. el bono is standing there in a state of excitement. there could be trouble. just sayin’, is all.
now, here comes the pet peeve and my big question:
what makes the owners of the establishment think that only straight men go in there? what about me, pokey?
those ladies’ pictures don’t do too much for this gay caballero, and i insist on equal time. i want to stand in front of that urinal, with my dick in my hand, so to speak, and see this:
see? i’m an open-minded guy. i don’t even care what the bathing suit looks like.
or what about this one?
don’t you think that’s the least they can do? i mean, i’m eating, i’m drinking, i’m tipping just like the hets. i say give a ‘mo his due. abercrombie gets it. the above picture is hanging in the men’s dept of their store. ok, one more:
ok. you caught me. if this one were in there i’d probably piss on my shoes. it’s a little slutty as well. but aren’t we entitled to equal time? at least he’s not pretending he’s a cab driver.
so the next time i’m in the restaurant munching ribs, swilling beer and watching a tight end do, whatever it is a tight end does, i think management owes me. just sayin’, is all.
yeah, you know the song. sing it with me. when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore. when the……go ahead, i’m listening…..so you don’t know the second line? really? ok, it goes, when the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine….that’s ……well you get it. why bring this up? husband and i went for pizza tonight. now, as you know, i’ve mentioned before that i live on a perpetual diet in mortal fear that someday i’ll end up like mother, who, at her peak, standing 5’2″, weighed in at about 250 lbs. not pretty. but every so often, i need to cut loose and be really bad. and when i do, it’s often pizza that is my nemesis. sit. let’s discuss.
you know how there are all kinds of pizza? and seriously folks, i’m a jersey city boy here, so bullshit pizza doesn’t count. (or should i say bullshit pizza don’t count, and be true to my roots?) this domino’s or pizza hut or little caesar‘s crap is not pizza, not matter how many commercials you see, or what it looks like in those very commercials. it ain’t pizza. it’s cardboard with cheap cheese product atop, and pepperoni sliced so thin, that you couldn’t give a 14 year-old boy acne. i tried some store-bought bake-it-at-home-yourself stuff. that doesn’t cut it either. it’s tough enough to find great pizza in south florida, but the first thing you have to do is eliminate the pretenders.
so that leaves us with actual pizza joints, as we used to call them. back in jersey city, the polite term was pizza parlor, but they were mostly dimly-lit, family style restaurants, with booths whose seats were plastic, and the entire place smelled of oregano. when in search of great pizza, that’s a start. (also, there were usually gentlemen with slightly bent noses sitting around, here and there, with a glass of beer, speaking in hushed tones. i’m not sure what they talked about, but i am sure it was better not to know. there are programs like the sopranos for a reason). and back then, they were called pizza pies. not just pizza. it was a different world, pizza-wise. there was regular crust or sicilian, which is a thick crust with very light sauce. mostly a bread-like affair. there were no thin crispy crust or flatbread types. there were no coal-fired ovens back then, just regular pizza ovens which, at the time, worked just beautifully. these days, pizza, like a lot of things, has branched out. i should also add, back then, most pizza was plain cheese and tomato sauce. oh, the occasional pepperoni or sausage and mushroom or even onions, but nothing really too tricky. pineapple and ham? back then? in jersey city? you’d get the shit kicked out of you if you even tried to order it. there were mob hits for less. just saying, is all.
anyway, i digressed.
so, in a mood, we went to our favorite pizza haunt of south florida. it happens that it’s a coal-fired-oven type pizza with actual flames licking at the pie. (the cool thing about that style, is that the crust comes out a little singed on the edges which adds a crispiness that’s hard to beat.) the place is called anthony’s. we go to the original location, although there are a dozen of them now. (he branched out).
and here’s the ritual:
we arrive and put our name on a list because it’s standing room only. we would really like to circle the room and hover over people that are finishing their pies, and kindof urge them to hurry the fuck up, but that would be rude, even for south florida. (in new york, i understand you can still get away with that.) when they finally call us we don’t need menus. we always start with the chicken wings, (ok, the large order), which are also cooked in the oven with the coals, as opposed to deep-fried, so they’re only half as deadly to the waistline. they arrive on a plate smothered with sauteed onions and bread toast triangles (which are really just pizza dough rolled very flat and cut thus), but i can’t begin to describe the wonder of these wings. next up is the house salad. it’s a lovely mixture of greens, tomatoes, onions, peppers, pepperoncini and olives. we, of course, order the cup of bleu cheese topping. (it’s 2 bucks extra but hey, in for a penny…..).
now, you can actually make a meal of those two items and walk away happy, sated and stuffed. but then you would have missed the point. the pie.
husband’s half is always the same; sausage and mushrooms. to him, if that ain’t it, it ain’t right. so be it. i’m a little more creative. sometimes some pepperoni, sometimes some green peppers and olives, and sometimes, (bear with me now), some arugula. hey, nouveau pizza. what can i say, i’m an adventurous guy. (i wonder if you’d get the crap kicked out of you these days in jersey city if you ordered arugula on your pie? something to think about next time i go visit).
let me say that the pizza is fantastic. different from jersey city mob pizza, because of the black crispy parts on the oh-so-thin-crust, but it is, for me, the best of south florida. and of course, after the wings and salad, i can’t eat but two pieces, at most, so there’s lunch to go for the next day. (actually, i hate that part. i’m bad two days in a row that way, when i only meant to be bad once.) oh well.
so if you’re reading this, and you don’t live in south florida, sorry. you’ll just have to imagine it. but the rest of you, get your ass over to anthony’s. (the one by state road 84 near the airport in fort lauderdale), and run the drill. you won’t be sorry.
and it will bring back memories of jersey city, even if you’re not from there.
four weeks later…..
you remember where we left off? me? sciatica? suffering like a horse that needs to be put down? scarfing down the pain pills so fast as to relegate rush limbaugh to amateur status? yeah, welcome back to my world. believe it or not, i’m still suffering. i’d like to say it’s better, but it’s mostly just different. before, i couldn’t bend. now i can bend but my right thigh feels like there’s a knife in it. oy. but i actually took out the garbage tonight without crying. i’m in physical therapy now and we’re making progress. sit. let’s discuss.
have you ever been? i mean, in physical therapy? i’ve described it somewhat for my neck treatment, (see earlier blog), but this is entirely new. the neck guy, in the previous blog, who “whispered” what he might do, if he were allowed, is now my therapist. big time. (i might add here, that i love him.….with a deep and abiding love that will withstand the test of time, global warming, and republican presidents.) i’m here to say, he’s the MAN.
each session of therapy begins with people putting their hands down my pants, in my general ass area, and attaching tens pads to my butt cheeks. (alas, the sad part is that nobody gets a remote thrill from this, as my ass is, how shall i say this?…….61 years old and less than exciting.) but they truck on, and attach the electrodes, and wire me up and lay me down and raise my legs upon a high stool and zap me, while i’m reclining on a heating pad for 15 minutes, set to a timer. what can i say? it feels good, people. they generally have to wake me at the “ding”. after that, there are many exercises, that i wouldn’t normally do, (too much work), but i’m hurt here, so i oblige. there are leg lifts, forward bends, hunched kick motions, ball crunches, (not what you think), pulls, stretches, and general piss me off stuff. i suffer through it all to get to the good stuff. my therapist, (the one who, upon occasion, has hands on loan from GOD, rubs my affected area, causing me to wince, groan, moan, smile, yelp, groan some more, and occasionally threaten to rip out his eyes, from the pain. when he’s done with that, i feel pretty good. until the magic words…..ok, time for traction. oy.
now traction is a funny thing. (not funny, ha ha….. funny, odd). remember all of those jews during the inquisition movies that you’ve seen over the years? the rack? where they kind of rent you asunder? or the drawn-and-quarter sequence from braveheart? well, picture that. they tear you limb from limb on a table that separates as you lie there. it doesn’t feel so bad while it’s happening, but sometimes the aftermath is not pretty. well, wtf? i am, after all a jewish guy, so i feel like i’m picking up the modern day slack, and taking one for the team, as it were. oy.
after traction, i’m instructed to walk around the gym, feeling the love. or the pain. or the shift in my personality from nice to beast. not sure. and then i am dismissed. hugs all ’round, have a nice weekend, see you monday, yada yada. oy.
so i limped badly for all of yesterday and most of today and then suddenly, this evening i had a breakthrough. (might have been the wine), but i think not.
it’s definitely helping. and i sure hope so, because i’m almost out the pain pills.
are we done? has the fat lady sung? (more about her later). is the season finally winding down to the point where we can get back to sanity, regarding our daily schedules? i don’t know about you, but my holiday, christmas, kwanza, festivus season’s cup ranneth over this year. my girlish figure is shot. (well, truth be told, it was shot in the 90s, but it’s just an expression). i’d like to tell you that the madness is over but it’s not quite yet. sit. let’s discuss.
eating-wise, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times….. (i know, don’t you love dickens?)
so here’s a brief summary of my sins.
it began, of course, as it did for all of you, with thanksgiving. we came, we ate, we bloated. (hail caesar). this was followed by the previously reported post-thanksgiving cruise, (a/k/a the sciatica journey…see earlier blog) which included several meals already discussed. upon arrival home, on december 3rd, the feastivities began. (ooh, i think i just made up a word. i like it. combination feast and….well, you get it. call merriam webster). it went something like this.
1) best friend’s party. it’s an annual event, a boy party, as he likes to say. he’s a great cook, invites a lovely crowd, pretty men in scanty clothes working it (and if they’re cute enough, (and these guys were), i don’t mind that they’re not wearing much clothes and touching my food. i’m funny that way. if they had been trolls, it would have skeeved me. but they were handsome and hot so….. god, i’m so shallow). it was pretty much a food orgy replete with a running chocolate fountain.
2) the following night was my big client’s annual shindig. a fabulous affair at our favorite italian pizza place. (there will be a blog about pizza coming up very soon.) some old friends and some new faces. (wait. i didn’t mean my old friends had new faces put on them, as in “work done”. no, no. i meant there were new people as well as people i knew. whew. wouldn’t want to blow anyone’s cover, if you know what i mean). it was an appetizer, salad, chicken wings, pizza, dessert affair. divine.
chicken wings were invented by the devil himself, to tempt us all into perdition so that we wouldn’t mind having heart attacks, dying and living in hell for eternity. at least that’s how i see it. i LOVE chicken wings, but i know they’re so bad for me, so i rarely partake. however, this place doesn’t fry them. the little buggers go into a coal-fired oven, so i indulge, and they’re actually better than the deep fried ones, taste-wise. just my thoughts.
3) the very next night we attended an opera concert for which i won free tickets. it was a famous metropolitan opera soprano, and no, she’s not the fat lady in question. she was actually svelte, lovely and fabulous. we preceded it by dining at a well known cuban restaurant on calle ocho in miami called versailles. ropa vieja, frijoles negros, arroz, platanos, etc. (see, i know some espanol). i figured i’m fat anyway, so….. anyway, it was way good.
4) two nights later found us at the hard rock cafe and casino, sampling the legendary burger menu, with friends. if you’re a burger guy, it doesn’t get much better than that. and we had a coupon!
5) then the dinners with family kicked in for the final week. husband’s cousins, friends’ bashes, and the big finale, christmas dinner at the home of our loved ones, brisket guy and his husband, (who is far less finicky these days…..a christmas miracle, perhaps), and twenty friends. a sublime array of culinary delights replete with home baked bread. it was a pot-luck event with the guests filling in with side dishes around divine lamb-shank and coq au vin main courses provided by the hosts. a truly joyous day. (i was wearing pants with an elastic waistband at this point. i call them my fat-boy pants. you have to play your strengths).
6) a relatively calm week ensued until new year’s eve, when husband and i had two, count them, two parties to attend. the first was in a swanky aventura high-rise and was a 6:00-9:00 cocktail event with tenderloin of beef, cooked just-right-rare, with two horseradish condiments, and a gorgeous spiral-sliced ham, and chicken nuggets done up in a sweet sauce (divine), and on and on. a lovely crowd (another boy party). i drank gingerly as it was meant to be a long time til midnight. we dallied until the end and wended our way back north where there was a late-night new year’s eve bash next door to our house. (talk about convenient). this one included dick clark and ryan seacrest. and of course, lady gaga, who was amazing, as always. around 1:00am, i hit the hay, very tired indeed.
i awoke to a new year. (as did we all, no?)
now, realize that through all of this, i’ve still got an eye on my waistline, and i don’t make resolutions because that’s just nuts. why would i promise to do something in january that i wouldn’t do in july? silly. but i’m ever mindful of my weight, so i’m thinking it’s over. it’s finally over.
not so fast kemosabe.
it just so happens i have two sets of friends, count them, two, who celebrate both little christmas, (12 days after big christmas…..who knew that song actually meant something?), and greek christmas (no, it wasn’t invented by the manufacturers of feta cheese. it’s a real holiday in greece). and to kick my teeth in, we have a friend turning 65 who’s having a birthday party. and all three events are this weekend!
so the answers to the questions at the top of the page are: no. we ain’t done yet. i have five more pounds to gain. and yes, at the end of this weekend the fat lady will have sung. and i finally understand why she’s fat! but…..to paraphrase scarlet o’hara:
as god is my witness, i’ll never be hungry again. that is until january 9th, when i buy back my soul from the devil and sell it to weight watchers.
i have a bone to pick.
i’m normally very kind and genteel (wow, i almost wrote gentile) during the holiday season, filled with tidings of great joy, and with the spirit of the day. but i’ve been hearing about the complaints people have about holiday greetings. i, however, am old now, and so i don’t give a rat’s ass about political correctness, so i walk around and say merry christmas to my gentile friends, and happy hanukkah to my jewish friends, and happy kwanza to my non-white friends, and…..(wait. is that ok? non-white? or should i say african american?) see, it comes right back, that political correctness stuff. and to my pagan friends, (of which i happen to have a few), i say, happy saturnia day. (don’t ask. long story.) oy. what’s a jewish boy to do at this time of year? sit. let’s discuss.
contrary to what some people in the media would have you believe, it really is okay to say merry christmas at this time of year. i’m a new jersey jew, and when someone says it to me, i know they’re wishing me good things, so how could i possibly take offense? i will indeed have a merry christmas , even though i don’t celebrate the birth of the baby jesus. but it’s still a fun time of year, when houses are decorated, as are stores and malls, and carols play from loudspeakers in public places, and for the most part, people are in a festive mood (except for the chronics; they’re always unhappy. this time of year they’re called scrooges or grinches). do we really think that every time someone regales me with that greeting i should stop and explain?person: merry christmas! me: i’m sorry. i’m jewish. it’s completely inappropriate for you to wish upon me a happy holiday that my people of some 5,000 years do not celebrate. person: no, it is i who am sorry. but not for the greeting. i’m just sorry you’re such an asshole! me: well, i’m just trying to say….. person: never mind. a pox upon thy house this yuletide season. me: well, you didn’t have to get all shakespeare on me. jeesh.
see what i mean. my appropriate response should be:
me: and a very merry christmas to you too.
that way, even though i’m jewish, nobody gets called an asshole, there are no hard feelings, and no pox. (didn’t we have enough of that with the santeria curse on husband a few months ago?
likewise, if i walk into a store, and the worker-bee speaks to me in spanish, instead of the mother tongue, i don’t get all bent out of shape and decry the death or loss of our beloved country. but rather, it goes something like this:person: buenos dias. me: buenos dias. ok, that’s the extent of my spanish, let’s talk english now.
see? no asshole. no pox. genteel with the gentiles. (ooh, i like that).
i guess my question is: why can’t we all just live and let live. nobody’s right all of the time, so if people misspeak slightly, upon occasion, why can’t we just smile and go with the feeling of the moment and just stop talking about what’s correct in today’s parlance? it gets a little tedious for me.
so i’m saying that if this curmudgeon can deal with it, i’m thinking the populace at large should take a lesson.
and with that, i wish you all a merry christmas, happy hanukkah, festive kwanza, joyous feast of the pagans, happy agnostic day, thoughtful atheist day, and of course, a happy healthy new year. (unless of course you’re jewish, in which case new year’s is in september and it’s completely inappropriate for me to say it now and ……here we go again.
i’ve told you about the whole neck thing. my arthritic, stenotic, stiff, unbearable neck? for which i ended up with million dollar cream, and nine sessions of physical therapy? it’s considerably better now. it’s no longer high on my list of things about which to kvetch, since, (are you ready?), my back went out, the morning of the cruise. (we get one goddam vacation a year and i wake up, the morning of, with excruciating pain. go figure.) so i limped though the voyage, pumped up on a vicodin/soma cocktail (talk about “out to sea”) and didn’t let it spoil my fun. but when i got home, i needed to take serious action, lest i end up a rush limbaugh clone and find myself doctor shopping in boca raton, wondering why there’s a ringing in my ears. sit. let’s discuss.
i had an appointment scheduled with the good doctor, my sports m.d. (god, i feel like dwayne wade. i have my very own sports doctor, although i will say, dwayne is a lot taller than i. i’m not much for sports but i’m feeling pretty butch these days. broken, but butch ). the appointment was for the tuesday after the cruise, kindof a follow up on my neck. of course the doc didn’t know about the whole “back” thing, so when i got there he was curious why a guy with a stiff neck was limping so badly. i told him about the radiating pain originating at my right hip and running down my leg, numbing my thigh all the way to my foot.
him: it’s probably sciatica, but we can’t talk about it because you’re not here for that. you’re here for follow-up on the neck.
me: but i am here, nonetheless, and the neck is pretty good. not all better, but much better, and i’m a crippled old fuck that can’t walk, so help me.
him: without a specific referral for that ailment the insurance company won’t allow it. but if they did i’d tell you that i’d eliminate most of what i’m pretty sure it isn’t, and decide it was inflammation of your sciatic nerve. then i’d give you this pamphlet with exercises that look something like this:
to help you ease it, until you can see your primary, get a referral and come back. but i can’t until you do that. how’s the neck?
me: it’s better. the physical therapy helped.
him: it would help the back too. but i can’t prescribe…..well, you get it. so, go to it.
i left his office, called my primary, pled my case, and minutes later a referral was faxed to the sports guy. they called me, we made an appointment for the next day, to discuss my back.
later that same day, i was back in rehab for the neck, told my tale of limping and cruising to the therapist and asked him for some help.
therapist: i can’t do anything about your hip and back without a referral and permission from the insurance company.
me: well, they approved this visit, and i’m here, and we have an hour-and-a-half, can’t we begin. everything is in progress.
therapist: (loudly) nope, not allowed. you’ll have to come back. (whispering), but if i could, i’d put this heat pad under your coccyx as you were lying with the tens unit on your neck, like this. and after, i’d show you some exercises and stretches as you were lying on the decompression bolster doing your neck work. (loud again), but i can’t, so i won’t.
me: (loudly) ah, quel domage. i guess i’ll just suffer. (whispering), i love you.
all of the above was tuesday.
the next day, i’m back at old sporty,to discuss my hip. not so fast, kemosable. (i love that expression. i use it a lot. it’s probably racist, and i’ll probably get letters from the indians…..i mean, the native americans, to knock it off, but…..) first the physician’s assistant does the workup, takes enough x-rays to make me glow in the dark, (which is actually not a bad thing when you’re out late at night in a questionable neighborhood) and gets me ready for the meeting.
i should add here, x-rays these days are so amazingly cool. it’s all digital, so as the doc looks, it’s not film on a lighted area of the wall anymore, it’s on his computer screen. and he can lighten or darken and enlarge and zoom in and really see your bones. i’m thinking it takes a lot of the guesswork out. no more blurry x-rays.
so he came in, and discussed by aching back:
him: well, in the pictures, your hips are beautiful
me: (coyly), well thank you doctor.
him: no, i don’t mean it that way. i mean they’re in very good shape, medically speaking.
me: no replacement in my near future?
him: nope. you’re good for at least ten years.
me: i should live so long with these aches and pains. (suddenly i sounded remarkably like my jewish grandmother).
him: the spine is good. a tad osteoporotic, but you’re well within the five percent acceptable range, so you’re good.
me: well, that’s at least a relief.
me: uh-oh? what kind of language is that for a doctor? what’s uh-oh?
him: no, i just noticed a little plaque in your arteries. not a lot, but i can see it. you should watch your cholesterol and triglycerides. (this from the sports guy).
me: i will. my numbers are good, but i’ll watch them. so, what about the current back pain?
him: it’s definitely sciatica. i think we can ease the pain with some pills, if necessary, and some physical therapy is called for. they’ll make you right as rain. (btw, what’s up with that expression? i’m thinking rain is only right if you’re having a drought. rain is not right on a beach day, or a golf day, or a disney world day. they need to delete that phrase from the lexicon. just sayin’). so here’s a prescription for the pills, and one for the therapy. i’ll see you in four weeks.
me: sounds like a plan. thanks doc.
so, scrips in hand, i headed out. i still have three neck sessions left. i’m wondering, if i have two referrals, two scrips and two permission slips from the insurance company, if they’re allowed to work on both of my malaises at the same time in the same session. maybe i’ll ask whisper that question and see what happens.
day 5 st. marten or st. martaan (depending on your persuasion).
never left the ship. we’ve been to these ports a lot, so they hold no interest, whereas an empty cruise ship is my kind of town. it was essentially a lovely day, taking meals, strolls on the deck, a little stretching in the gym, reading, blogging, watching a movie and of course the ever popular napping (as a result of the overdose of vicodin that seems to be a part of my life now). not helping the sciatica a whole lot but my attitude is just spiffy.
i mentioned earlier that husband was singled out upon embarkation and asked if he’d like to model in a fashion show. he graciously acquiesced and waited anxiously for his debut performance. it turns out that one of the pied piper’s excursions was to orient beach for a bash, replete with food, drinks, and debauchery, (and apparently a fashion show thrown in for good measure). well, since husband and i weren’t going to participate in that trek to the beach, his debut was cancelled. (or rather he’d like to think, postponed until another time). alas, fleeting fame.
the pre-dinner show was a gal who was a female impressionist. she made it very clear to her audience that her particular job is very different from that of a female impersonator (of which there were several in our crowd). no, rather, she did song stylings (with wigs evoking certain characters), like cher, celine, beyonce, tina turner and others. she sang a few songs in her own voice and style and was actually excellent, and the impressions were fun. of course, doing all of those gay icons, our crowd really loved her.
dinner was good but not as remarkable as some nights so i’ll spare you the details.
the post-dinner festivities included our yearly theme party; this year it was called a decades event and we were encouraged to dress in the garb of the decade in which we were born. well, having been born in 1950, (don’t bother to do the math, i’ve confessed many times that i’m 61), i was still a wee one by the end of the decade, so if i were going to dress up, i would have opted for a 60s hippie kind of thing, but husband and i took a pass. he headed back to the cabin after dinner, to read, and i wandered the deck (in yet another tropical wind event) marveling at the sheer lack of creativity of most of the players. there were a lot of pretty good hippies, (glad i didn’t do it),
and a few other assorted types. extra points for the tape on the glasses. (these guys are actually friends with whom i’m traveling. )
for me, the most creative was a guy born in the 60s, who opted for 1969. that’s 69 if you take my meaning. see illustration:
yes, that’s leslie jordan to his left. more about him later.
so having been tossed and blown, (and just a tad bored), i walked on, and headed for the o.k. corral for a little vicodin-induced shut-eye. i was slightly depressed as i pondered that there were only two remaining days.
day 6 a sea day.
the days at sea are far and away my favorite days. the ocean, the sky, the sun, the clouds, the occasional stray shower, eating, lounging and relaxing with no place special to go. or lying by the pool listening to a calypso band, or watching the fashion show, or taking a crafts class or a napkin folding lesson (not kidding) or in this case, on this particular ship, the glass blowing exhibition. corning, (yes, that corning) has a show on the top deck lawn, several times each cruise. (i shouldn’t just toss that off.) there is a lawn on the top deck. guests play bocce ball, (you know, your italian grandfather’s version of golf but with no sticks?), or just lie on the grass as if you’re in the park, or perhaps a game of croquet. it’s really impressive).
so corning has this two hour show complete with ovens, kilns, molten glass, and all the tools of the trade and artisans (including, of course a handsome young man named ross. i mean, how not?) creating these magnificent pieces right before your very eyes. see below:
then they raffle off some of them at the end, and the lucky people get to take one home. it’s really gorgeous stuff and you see pieces that were created on board as you peruse the ship. see below:
i enjoyed the heck out of the entire experience.
this being the penultimate night, it was the second formal night for dining. the dining room held the traditional filet mignon and lobster as a main course. i don’t know about you, but for me, it’s worth the swollen knuckles and the touch of gout the next day. i have a thing for lobster. afterward, there was the special entertainment brought on board just for us, and you were not allowed to attend if you were not a pied piper guest. it was the wonderful comedian, leslie jordan.
for those who don’t know, he played (and won an emmy) on will and grace. he also has created the character of brother-boy, in del shores amazing play/movie, sordid lives. he’s a gifted, talented performer and he did 90 minutes of standup to a sold-out gay crowd. if you haven’t seen sordid lives, both the movie and the series, you ought to. just sayin’. after laughing that hard for that long, it was time for bed. lordy i love the way the ship rocks you to sleep. final day is tomorrow. see you then.
i’m still on vacation but i’m a little hateful today. it’s almost over. and then i have to go back to my regular life. you know, you may not realize this but living on this ship is a lot nicer than my real life. seriously, at home, when i leave my bedroom every morning, nobody goes in behind me and makes the bed, straightens up, wipes my sink, changes my towels, checks the toilet paper, leaves me a bucket of ice and the morning newspaper. ( i’d like that, but no. husband loves me, but, apparently not as much as my cabin boy.) that’s not my life. that’s oprah winfrey’s life. also, i like picking up a plate and walking through the stations of the buffet and piling food on, without having to prep it, cook it, and clean up after. i mean, how not?
the reality of it is we have to go tomorrow. but before that, one more sea day, and as previously mentioned, those are my favorites. this was a restful day, as the back thing was (literally) a pain-in-the-ass, so i kind of laid low. typical lazy day, the exception being that after dinner we had to pack. it was a little easier than getting ready to board, in that:
a) most of the clothes were dirty so we didn’t have to be so careful about packing them, and
b) the massive quantity of wine was gone, rendering the luggage about 50 pounds lighter.
so after dinner the bags go into the hallway where sometime during the night, as we sleep, the elves come and deliver them portside waiting to be picked up.
i finally remembered to take a couple of pictures in the dining room. the first is of the extensive wine “cellar” right in the middle of the room, behind the captain’s table. take a look:
the second is the amazing chandelier over us as we dined. truly a work of art:
for the record i think i should add a picture of husband and me having the amazing vacation you’ve now shared with me. (you’ll notice i’m in coco chanel black. it hides my fat rolls underneath).
ok, so we’re a little gay too. <g>
before i close, here’s a peek at what the ship looks like to give you a sense of our week. there’s a lot of amazing artwork abounding. the first is a “curtain” effect sculpture (made of stone, i swear), take a look:
the next piece is about 6 feet in diameter. carved wood.
after that is a sculpture that was simply divine:
and then a couple of paintings, wall pieces and mosaic glass. just astonishing:
day 3 san juan
it’s odd, but we arrived in san juan late in the day, about 4pm. take a look. it’s getting dark already:
so much for the fabulous beaches and rain forest (el yunque). btw, if you’ve not been to loquillo beach in your life, put it on your bucket list. white sands, palm trees on the beach, azure blue sea…..just paradise.
the rain forest too, is an event. gives you an even greater sense of the wonder of the universe. (spoiler alert. if you’re a died-in-the-wool creationist, and don’t believe in darwin and his evolutionary theories, then you’ll most likely not appreciate the way rain forests have evolved over the millennia. just saying, is all).
so, san juan at night. hmmm. i suppose seeing puerto ricans in their native habitat is fun for some, but i’m from jersey city. we had puerto ricans up the ass growing up, so it’s not all that big an attraction for me, if you know what i mean. but many passengers went ashore and ate palomillo steak and arroz con pollo. some went to the gay tea dance which the pied piper crew arranged, for mucho bailando, which left the ship beautifully quiet for the rest of us. i napped by the pool, lying in the shade on one of the coveted canopy chairs that are so difficult to come by, (unless of course, the ship is empty…..<g>).
one of the wonderful amenities of the ship is that every afternoon at 5:30 sharp, there is an all-yu-can-eat sushi buffet on the top deck. i don’t eat much of the rice, (because i don’t want to spoil my dinner), but i do kindof pig-out on the fish. take a look at all of this:
if you’re a sushi lover this is a nice plus.
there is a bar on the ship where we gathered nightly. the bartop, where one would normally lean, is chilled, kindof a refrigerated countertop with ice on it to keep your drinks cold and frosty. i swear. your cocktail sits on a counter of ice. you have to be really careful not to soak your ball gown before dinner. i saw one queen who’d had one appletini too many, lean on it and his dinner jacket sleeve, yes, the white one, landed on a snow pile. not pretty. i stayed away from it. i’m a sloucher from way back so i knew i’d eventually lay an elbow and get wet. you know the saying, an ounce of prevention…..
dinner was once again marvelous. there was a liver pate` that was the consistency of a dense mousse. not a lump or bump in it. just the intense flavors of goose liver, cognac, and peppercorns. schmeared on the french bread i found myself moaning. (and next to the captain’s table, one really needs to watch one’s decorum). the pate` was followed by an iceberg lettuce salad. (ok, tell me again. what’s up with that salad? it was so out of fashion for so many years, when did iceberg lettuce come back in? it’s the same boring watery crunch it always was, and yet now, fine restaurants get ten bucks for a wedge of it with bleu cheese. wtf? remind me in the future to take a pass on that salad.)
the main event was a new york strip steak, rare, as i requested, nestled atop a small pile of rigatoni smothered in a gorgonzola cheese cream sauce. (someone in the kitchen knows what he’s doing. gorgonzola cheese and red meat. need i say more? just heavenly.
finally, the dessert was a triangle of dark, dense chocolate, with actually the same consistency as the liver mousse. so creamy, so dreamy, so insanely over the top. i, however was a good boy. i only ate a couple of bites, with an eye forever on my waistline, and left the rest on my plate! oh be still my heart. there are still many meals to go.
next up, the show. it was a guy named garth oliver, who was a runner-up on britain’s got talent. he’s a ventriloquist. i know, big woo. or so we thought. but this guy was a true phenom. talked a mile a minute, bantered insanely with the audience, giving lessons in ventriloquism. his first “partner” was a monkey with a squeaky voice that was hilarious. the thing i love most about ventriloquists is that as the banter gets more and more furious and funny and frantic, approaching “screwball” intensity, one must remember that it’s all coming from one guy. all of the insanity, the voices, the inflections, the back-and-forth, is one crazy guy. a good one will have you convinced that there are several characters on the stage performing the routine, but it always comes back to one guy. very impressive.
i don’t have ship video, but take a look at the guy. just insane. and fun. short clip.
it was truly a side-splitting act and the audience went wild.
finally, for me, a trip up to the sky lounge, where the eclipse gang (the singers and dancers from the big production shows) all gathered to salsa the night away. some of the audience got into it with them, but they mostly just did their mucho bailando, with hips swirling and girls twirling and high kicks. they have so much energy it pisses me off that i’m so freakin’ old. i’d love to throw a high kick, but with the sciatica and all, well…..you know. Here’s a link to youtube. After you look, just close the youtube window and com back. I’ll wait…..take a look:
they never tired, of course, but i did. so i finished off my wine and headed back to the cabin for some shut-eye. all in all, a pretty terrific monday.
day 4 st. thomas
still on vacation. i know, it sounds redundant but the days flow one after another with eating, naps, entertainment, eating, conversation, swims, eating, dancing, fashion shows, eating and drinking. (i know. i said eating a lot. i like eating).
at breakfast today, i got a tad adventurous. i ordered eggs italian, which is a variation on eggs benedict, the difference being two poached eggs on a slice of crusty italian bread with prosciutto topped with a basil pesto sauce vs. the usual hollandaise. can you spell yum? really different and a new gastronomic taste.
following breakfast we forayed into town, (bad hip in tow), to buy some additional wine and some club soda. i brought some with me, but am going through it faster than expected using it as medicine for sciatica. (don’t tell the a.m.a. not sure they’d approve.) twenty minutes into st. thomas, the hip screamed take me home so back we came. we’d been there before. classic case of been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.
lunch is a bit of a blur as the vicodin kicked in, and shortly thereafter i wrote about day 2 and then napped. a shower, and a shave later, we found ourselves in the theater watching a cirque du soleil type show, with amazing acrobatics, high wire antics and handsome strong men balancing anorexic women on their heads. there was a guy with a giant yo-yo on a string (i swear), doing insane things. (is it racist to mention that of course he was asian? the yo-yo guy is always asian. i think they teach yo-yo in beijing at university.) there were also some contortionists. they were very talented and all that, but quite frankly it’s not my favorite kind of show. picture it: a guy hanging by one hand from a trapeze swing, with a woman’s thighs wrapped around his ankle and she’s planking (i think that’s the term for the new craze, kindof parallel to the stage), while dangling. what holds her up and keeps her from falling is, how can i put this delicately? it’s how tight her…..ok, just say it…..how tight her twat is. i mean she’s crushing the poor guy’s ankle with her crotch. after the dismount i’m pretty sure he was limping. so what it comes down to is a woman hanging by her labia. all in all, as a gay man, not my cup of bouillon, entertainment-wise. but i can tell you that the straight guys hooted and hollered a lot. not sure why.
on to dinner.
vitello in tonnato (for you plebes, that’s paper-thin slices of chilled veal in tuna sauce), one of the world’s delicacies.
uneventful salad. (seems unless i make it myself on the buffet, the salads are a tad lacking, for me).
vichyssoise (chilled potato-leek soup). and they really got it right. if you’re not a fan, this might have converted you.
there was no entrée that tempted me, so i opted for the standard “every-night” side of the menu, and ordered broiled salmon hollandaise. delish. the hollandaise gave me buyer’s remorse about the morning’s eggs. i should have had the standard benedict. well, there’s always tomorrow.
so having had the twat show before dinner, we had some spare time after, so we wandered into comedy central for a so-so comedian. (after the insane ventriloquist the night before, the guy would had to have been seinfeld to get a chuckle, so we left in the middle for one of the pied piper activities at 11:00pm. are you ready? this is what gay men do on a cruise. we all piled into the big theater for a movie: a mamma mia sing-along! now, as i’ve said in earlier blogs, every gay man that’s ever sucked a dick thinks he’s judy garland, so this crowd was determined to show meryl streep how it’s done. (not to mention poor pierce brosnan. i’m thinking when they made this movie, harry connick jr was busy, or something. would have been a much better choice.) so, sing along we did, and the characters were transformed from donna and the dynamos to meryl and the ‘mos. i made it to the act 1 finale, (voulez vous) singing my little gay heart out, and my bed called out to me. long freakin’ day. i finished my wine and headed for the big lie-down. all in all, a pretty good day 4. to be continued…..
i don’t mean to complain, as this is supposed to be a fun piece, but the sciatica gave me a miserable night’s sleep. i finally gave in and began to take a cocktail of soma and vicodin. (yeah, i know. sounds delicious, but i really wanted my full wits on vacation.) it still hurts, but now, who gives a shit? but i’m not going to let it ruin my time.
did i mention that we’re on the celebrity eclipse? gorgeous ship. take a look: (by the way, if you click on the pictures, they get huge!
sister ship to last year’s solstice. actually, in case you didn’t know, they name sister ships with like names. for instance, the giant royal caribbean ships are the freedom and the liberty. the holland america group (the dam ships), are the nordam, (north), westerdam, (west), zuiderdam, (south) and oesterdam (east). see how it works? then of course there are the big sisters…..the humongous ships…..the oasis and the allure. (yeah, i don’t quite get that relationship either). but for this cruise, the five sisters are solstice, equinox (get it? the seasons) and then the eclipse, reflection and the silhouette. (actually, i don’t quite get all of those either. seems like they’re all sun/moon related, i think. but that’s how it works).
the day began with breakfast at the stations of the buffet. remember them from last year? well, being the sister ship it’s the same fabulous drill. great food, beautifully presented. i’m trying to be good, so i stuck to an omelet, juice, and coffee. (okay, a few strips of bacon on the side. i mean, how not? oh, and i had to taste the corned beef hash. damn, it was good. i was hoping it wouldn’t be).
after breakfast was pool time. lying on a chaise lounge, ship gently rocking me, ipod on my head, maria callas singing norma, and a big iced tea by my side. can you spell heaven? people, i’m on vacation. even my hip eased up. it was really nice.
next up, lunch. again, man the stations, full speed ahead. i kept it to salad with a scoop of tuna. (and trust me, there’s pasta, and indian food, and chinese food, and thai and deli, and cheese, and desserts and ice cream). but i abstained. i’m determined to be good for a least a couple of days, to make sure my pants fit until toward the end. then, of course, fuck it.
after lunch, the pills kicked in big time and i needed to nap, which technically is not a bad thing. i’m thinking that’s a popular vacation option on a sea day. later a sauna, (the hot wooden wall on my damaged hip felt pretty good), cocktails and the first formal night dinner. and of course, as on the sister ship, my old friends showed up; the baby lamb chops.
it’s been a year since the last cruise, and i’ve actually talked about, dreamed about and described to friends, the remarkable baby lamb chops. i don’t care if the lambs are screaming, clarice, i’m having them! and they did not disappoint.
funny note. in addition to friend, there is another couple in our group and the first night the maitre d’ sat our party of five at a table for twelve with some other pied pipers. it started off amicably enough, but as the dinner wore on, this little microcosm of humanity turned out to be….well….ok, just say it, horrible. they complained about everything. the service is too slow, the food is not hot, his portion is bigger than mine, there’s not enough butter, it’s cold in here, bring more breadsticks, last year was better, and on and on until i wanted to stab them with my butter knife! i kind of told the one next to me, to shut the fuck up, nicely of course. i thought about consulting the maitre d’ after dinner to change our table, but i figured, i’d just talk to my group and ignore them. well, next morning, the concierge desk called and said you originally requested a private table for your party, so we decided to move you and we’re giving you your own five-top. now, i’m not sure, but it’s possible that they ousted us from their table, or maybe the house needed a 12 top for a request party. either way, we were moved and we’re next to the captain’s table now. husband is in the corner and the empty table is where the captain sits with his party on formal nights. see picture:
and here he is, that handsome devil…..the captain.
pretty cool, if you ask me. all the big-wigs are at his table, and the servers buzz like busy little bees in a hive, so our service is now amazing. see, sometimes the high road really is the way to go. those evil queens are probably stuck near the kitchen or the toilets or somewhere. serves them right.
we don’t dress in monkey suits for formal night, but many do. and sometimes…..just sometimes…..queens will get carried away. take a look:
did they actually think that if they’d not worn those outfits that nobody would know they were gay? bust a gut, people.
after dinner was the captain’s welcome cocktail in the theater, followed by the ship’s singers and dancers in a broadway revue which was really wonderful. all those fresh-faced kids, with their twirls and high kicks and lifts (on a rocking boat). quite fantastic. their salute to les miz and jersey boys was a delight. more shows to come.
well, by now it’s midnight and we have to push the clocks ahead an hour, having entered a new time zone. (damn. i just got finished pushing the clock in fort lauderdale, like, 2 weeks ago.) so we’re losing an hour of sleep which means i must go to bed. see you tomorrow.
here we go again.
we’re on the annual cruise. husband and i. a little different this year, as i kind of know what to expect. and i’m struggling to write about a different aspect than last year’s cruise. that one was primarily about food. (hey, i’m the son of a food addict so i have issues.) and i promise that there will be food items abounding, but i’m going to try to focus on the fabulous fun, frolicking and frivolity (i’m nothing if not alliterative). and so it begins. sit. let’s discuss.,
it’s now 11.30 on saturday night. sailing day. we are, as they say, out to sea.
you know it’s a funny thing. it’s a seven day cruise, but what they don’t emphasize is that the day you board the ship is day 1. i mean they let you board around noon, and your room is not ready until about 1:00 and the ship doesn’t leave the harbor until 5pm, but it counts as a day. we’ll come home next saturday and be off by 9am, so that certainly isn’t a day. so today counts. that’s why i like to come aboard early. if this is day 1 of my vacation, then by god, i’m taking it. and here’s how it went.
we awoke at dawn. (you know, the excitement and all), and surprise, surprise, it seems my hip went out as i slept; it was either from loading suitcases into the trunk of the car friday night, or from standing at the “before party” at a local gay bar the night before sailing. (a bunch of the out-of-towners wanted a “meet-and-greet” to get a jump on the festivities, so we went.) but god help me, as if there isn’t enough wrong, my sciatic nerve decided to rear its ugly head for a “hey, how are ya? how’s this feel?” so the two of us, husband and i, in a frenzy to get ready to leave by 10am, are hindered, to say the least, by old brokeback dave.
there’s a lot to do before we go away. we have to setup the children; peeps, (the angelic cat), savannah (the old dog, a/k/a grandma, with a bladder problem. can anyone explain to me why they don’t they make depends for dogs?) and of course, piss boy (if you remember last year). this year we psyched him out and bought a plastic painter’s tarp and as we loaded the dining room table with items to pack, each night we covered it, so if, like last year, he decided to “gift us” as a departing gesture, our stuff would be safe. but he was good, so we didn’t have to beat him. (no, i’m kidding. we hardly ever beat him).
so we prep the children’s food, change and leave a new kitty litter, portion out the treats for the dog, (for the sitter) including peanut butter covered garlic tabs to ward off a prevailing tick problem. did you know that? if your animal has a tick problem, feed it garlic tablets and it wards off the insects. (and vampires as well, i imagine) i know what you’re thinking. you’re thinking the 14 year old dog will have bad breath from the garlic. news flash….. have you had a fourteen year old dog give you kisses lately? trust me, the garlic doesn’t make a goddam bit of difference. it’s dog’s breath, people, stay with me on this.
having set them up, we pick up friend who’s also cruising, and head to the port. i drop husband and friend on the pier with the luggage, park the car, join them, mill through the mob and finally board the paradise express.
need i tell you that it’s the gay group again? those pied pipers? they’re a fun bunch. not exactly the hottest men on the planet, the average age being over 55, but with the seasoned traveler comes great conversation, camaraderie, and of course, endless sexual innuendo reminiscent of the things they used to do but no longer do. they don’t actually do much of what they’re implying, but they (we) certainly talk a good game. don’t get me wrong. there are many hot, sexy men aboard. it’s just that when you’re my age, we have a tendency to obtain a superpower known as invisibility. the young hot men look right through us and move on. but i’m not bitter. i was young and hot once, and had my day. someday if they’re lucky, they’ll be old invisible queens crippled with sciatica and i’ll look down from the heavens and chuckle in a very snarky i told you so, kind of way. i don’t believe in much, but i certainly do believe in divine justice.
i think i’ve told you that husband lost 35 pounds. his secret? you promise not to tell? diet and exercise. who knew? (duh, everyone, it’s just that nobody actually does it.) so, interesting note: at check-in with the group, the lead travel agent asked husband if he’d like to be a model in the fashion show later in the week. (bitch didn’t ask me. but then i’m a paunchy old queen), and husband was simply delighted, and of course said yes. they didn’t say exactly what he’d model, but count him in. more about that as it unfolds.
once aboard there was registration (purell), check in and receive hotel paperwork (purell), find your cabin and wait for luggage, unpack when it arrives, muster safety drill (purell), lunch (purell), tour ship (purell), sailaway, theater show, free cocktail party with name tags so the 700 of us can get to know one-another, dinner (purell), skip dessert, dancers in the lobby, windswept walk on the pool deck and now i’m talking to you when i should really be lying down. (they’re really purell happy here. norovirus-phobia, or something. i think they probably spend more money on purell than on the actual food we touch with clean hands. wacky world.
a word about the cocktail party. it was on the top deck by the pool. the ship was moving at 20 knots (exactly how fast is a knot?), and the prevailing headwinds were 25 knots. so together, there were 45 mile an hour winds while you’re standing on the topmost deck of a rocking ship with a drink in your hand. where i live, (fort lauderdale) that’s called a tropical storm during which: yes, we have cocktails, but no, we don’t go outside. are you nuts? i mean, it’s a gay group and all, but that’s not what i had in mind when i thought blow-job. it was fierce.
so after all of that, quite frankly, i’m bushed. (and i almost never use the word bush. you know, too much painful history and all). so i must rest. i’ll continue this tomorrow.
my neck still hurts. no no. no sympathy. shit happens.
i’m in therapy now. (wow, that makes me sound like a really sick mental case.) no. not that kind of therapy. (although god knows a few sessions on a couch certainly couldn’t hurt, at this point in my twisted development, but no.) we’re talking the big PT. physical therapy. simon says, hands on neck. sit. let’s discuss.
question: did you know that there are people in the world who go to school or college or tech classes, and set out to become workers that dedicate themselves to the healing of others? did you know that? (well yeah, doctors and nurses and shit, and of course dentists), but others who are not the really high salary types. just dedicated people who decide to become caregivers? wtf? (i’m thinking those people’s souls are so much nicer than mine. i have a tendency to sit and sneer, in my way, while they actually take an interest in my well-being……let’s say for an example…….i see a comedy vein and want to make snarky comments, and they see a collapsed vein and want to help. see what i mean? different outlook.)
so i finally got the call from dolora, (remember her? pat, can i buy a consonant? a goddamn “s”? so that my name is not completely ridiculous?) and she informed me that i could come to get my stenotic, arthritic neck treated. of course i delighted and rejoiced with that call.
off i go, and i’m met with an officious amount of paperwork at intake. (have i mentioned in previous blogs that the very first question, i mean, the goddamn primary interest of the parties involved is not how are we today?, (the royal we being implied, since it’s just me and my damaged neck), but rather, the very first question is…..say it with me now…..can i see your insurance card?
madre di dio. (ooh, i’ll bet i never told you i speak fluent italian. well i do.)
so after those particular pleasantries, i got to meet my australian therapist, fiona. (isn’t that a beautiful name? i mean, if west side story had been set down under, instead of sharks vs. jets it might have been dingoes vs. wallabies and you could actually sing fiona instead of the usual maria. try singing it. it works. just a a thought, mr. sondheim. ) and she’s thin and gorgeous, and so in shape i want to bitch-slap her into my reality, but hey, she’s there for me, so i go with it. a bunch of intake questions and getting to know you stuff later, and we’re into it.
stretch this, turn that, point your nose here, stand up straight, does this hurt?, how far can you turn your head?, how long have you had it?, push my hand, pull my arm, reach behind you, pull my finger, oh, i’m sorry, squeeze my finger, what kind of pillow do you sleep on?, does it hurt in the morning?, and on and on. ok, i think to myself. she needs to know. and so it goes…..
massage was first.
for those of you that have never had massage, wft is wrong with you? the concept of lying on a table with a devoted, trained person with magic hands manipulating your (fill-in-the-blank) is beyond the pale. you really need to do it. even if NOTHING hurts. just do it.
so ten minutes later i feel somewhat better. how not? after that we do some tens unit electric shock stuff (like at the chiropractor, and if you haven’t done that either, wtf are you waiting for?), coupled with some heat therapy, while i lay on my back on a table. can you spell nap? i nodded in a heartbeat.
upon awakening, i felt better. not ALL better, but better. and fiona scheduled me for several more. i, for one, can’t wait. she was extraordinarily nice, except every two minutes or so, she’d say stand up straight, dahling. (she’s australian not a drag queen. that’s how they say it. it reminded me of my hateful mother, always nagging me. but fiona’s right. i’m a slug type sloth that slouches. (say that three times fast. i dare you.)
so fiona is from northern australia and speaks a LOT like olivia newton john. even so, as good as she is, i don’t think she’s hopelessly devoted to me. she’s just my therapist. but i think i’m in love. oh well. although she did mention traction for next time. oy.
so, going forward from here, i’ll keep you posted. the neck is getting there. (don’t forget i have the million dollar cream to schmear as well.)
update on the new tv season. many of the votes are in. there were a few i predicted would be hits and a couple about which i was uncertain but am thoroughly convinced now. sit. let’s discuss.
let’s start with new girl. it’s good, and it’s got ratings. i can’t put my finger on it, but zooey deschanel is just beguiling. her character sings to herself (sometimes her own personal theme song), and she has this disarming way of delivering these delicious lines that make you grin from ear to ear, in a feel-good kind of way. sometimes that’s even better than a big chuckle, (although there’s plenty of those). i’m guessing that the time between the pilot being filmed and the actual season’s beginning episodes after they sold it to the network, was a while, because much of it is changed, but as a breezy sitcom, for me, it works. a solid eight at least.
pan-am. tried it. watched a couple. didn’t love it. lost interest. is it still on?
playboy club. oy. for me, even with two ex-sisters-in-law who were both playboy bunnies, (honest. brother is a tit man), i would have given up after episode two, but the network beat me to it. can you spell, get the hook?
terra nova. mindless fun. i’m watching, but i’m not loving it. it’s okay. a lot of cute men. and of course the cgi. dinosaurs snapping in your face. cool, but i don’t know if it, or i, can go the distance.
charlie’s angels. i watched the pilot. i’m no network executive, but after watching it, i’m thinking maybe i ought to be. who green-lighted that clunker? the show stunk on ice. but there is an expression that goes: if you’re old enough to remember it the first time, you’re too old to do it again. (kind of like bell-bottom jeans or tie-dye. been there, done that, got it right the first time.) next…..
another new show, that started kind of later, is once upon a time. different. strange. preposterous, of course, but the fact that we have a box that hangs on a wall, into which we spend hours staring, that brings us hd entertainment is, in and of itself preposterous, so sometimes you just have to suspend belief and go with it. the wicked witch/queen is kind of delicious, (complete with ripe red apples) and snow-white’s daughter (the heroine is feisty. i’m enjoying it. the ratings are surprisingly solid, considering it’s up against sunday night football and the simpsons. i’m thinking it’s a hit. truly a guilty pleasure.
of course my glee and modern family still rule the airwaves. great writing, acting, singing, & dancing get me every time. sign me up for life.
and i saved the best for last. (not the best show, but rather the best new show, for me.) and that would be revenge. i know, i know, it’s out of your mind impossible, (but then so was dallas or ally mcbeal or quantum leap, and i loved all of them). but the two ladies, the young girl, emily vancamp and the doyenne, madeleine stowe playing their cat and mouse games, while the former is exacting revenge, one victim at a time per episode, is yummy. i first thought, how many weeks can it run? i mean, how many people can she perform this expiation upon before we tire? well, apparently a lot, because again, it’s a guilty pleasure in the knots landing/dynasty vein. who doesn’t love to watch the immoral, pretentious, superior, upper-class be taken down? count me in every time.
so that’s what i’m hooked on these days. you?
you know how i often say, “sometimes the universe conspires?” like how the guy from husband’s high school, whom he didn’t know 50 years ago, moved into the house behind us? or my own college roommate, who was on on our cruise last november for a week, but we hadn’t seen each other since the 60s and neither of us knew the other was there and didn’t recognize each other? and then after, we reconnected after four decades? stuff like that? and you know i was born jewish, but am now the last surviving pagan on the eastern seaboard, with all semblance of the original religion of my childhood relegated not only to the back seat, but more like the rumble seat? well something’s happened and i’m thinking, that pesky universe. there it goes again. sit. let’s discuss.
that selfsame college roommate, with whom i am now close, and who was single for a very long time, finally met a guy. a male friend. a boy friend. a boyfriend. yeah, that’s it. and the two of them are having quite a time of it. i won’t go into details because:
a) this blog is rated “g”
b) the details are, actually, none of our business
c) they’re having way too much fun and i don’t want to make you all jealous.
so the new guy, let’s call him boyfriend, is a handsome, amiable fellow, and very sweet. (it’s tough to come into a group of friends that are close, and fit in, but he’s doing just beautifully.) and of course, it helps that husband and i are not bitchy queens, which makes it just a tad easier, but i take no credit. he’s welcome because he’s genuinely nice.
now, he happens to be a jewish chap, born in israel. i mean, the actual middle-east, in that little country surrounded by pugnacious, imperialistic, antagonistic, neighbors. i’ve never even been able to imagine what it’s like to grow up in a place where the threat of your very existence is a way of life, but he has, and he’s still a swell guy.
he’s a businessman, and he sells…..how shall i phrase this?…..mystical accessories related to judaism and specifically, kabbalah. (now, pardon me, but at this stage of my life, the closest i’ve been to kabbalah is reading about that nice gentile italian girl, you know the one, madonna, who went to israel, studied a bit and came home with not only a string of publicity, but an actual red string on her wrist. i know, i know. madonna has a string! big woo. or so i thought.
anyway, husband and i had lunch with the happy couple today, and we got into a discussion about all of that. (now bear in mind, i think i’ve told you i was raised full orthodox jew, and i know the rules, and the prayers and the rituals and i just choose not to participate anymore. i’m not ignorant, just disinterested.)
but this charming fellow went into an elaborate explanation about this red string that is woven in israel, and is often wound in large quantities around the tomb of rachel, the matriarch of judaism. (he also brought up a good point when he said that if the ancient jewish men weren’t such chauvinists, relegating their women to obscurity, that she would have been as important and well-known as say, abraham or moses. come to think of it, in orthodoxy today, there’s still a lot of that going on. but i digress).
now this string is purported to have some mystical powers. the practitioners of kabbalah cut strands and ritualistically tie it around the left wrist of the recipient, with seven ceremonial knots with corresponding words and prayers, and the wearing of it is supposed to bring good fortune, and more importantly, ward off evil spirits and grant divine protection. well, i say, pagan or not, sounds like a plan to me. i mean, who couldn’t use a little good fortune? and of course, being president of my homeowners association, i can certainly use a little protection from evil spirits, if you know what i mean.
so this genteel gentleman, (is that redundant? i don’t think so), bestowed the gift of the thread upon both me and husband, recited the prayers, tied the knots, and now we’re good to go. turns out you don’t have to be really religious to appreciate the mystical aspects of our being. i think just honoring and remembering what went before us, is enough. there are thousands of years of the history of my people before oh-so-important me was born, and i’m thinking we shouldn’t lose sight of that. ever. religion or not, at the very least, we all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and we are indebted to those that have brought us along this far. and this red string on my wrist makes me think about that, and perhaps climb out of my own self, in order to look inward. (or i could just be becoming a sentimental old fluff). not sure.
either way, i’m glad i made a new friend, and i truly sense that this little piece of red string has bound us somehow. it’s a pretty good feeling.
now don’t run out and buy a spool of red thread and start making knots. it doesn’t work that way. (first of all, i’m pretty sure the thread will have been made in china, and i’m thinking 5,000 years ago, air travel being what it was, that rachel never made it to china, so in all likelihood, chinese kaballah thread is a scam. although the jews do love chinese food, so there’s a chance that maybe back then they had take-out).
could be, if you believe.
a different pace for tonight. and just a short piece really. because rather than the usual musings, i must pause and pay homage. as you know, andy rooney died. he was 92. a ripe old age, and god knows he was certainly a ripe old man. i loved his work, and the persona he created to deliver it; that disheveled rumpled man with the eyebrows that stood in utter defiance of a barber’s scissors. it was as if he had a walrus mustache over each eye. in his dotage, it added so much to his facial character . and those jowls. they’d sway to and fro as he opined on the mundane things that annoyed the crap out of him. i used to just stare at them, fascinated, wondering if i live to be ripe, will i have them? and if so, will turkeys worldwide accept me as one of their own? it’s just a thought.
i won’t bore you with the details of his life. i leave that to the journalists and his colleagues that loved him as well. but i’m here to tell you that in my wacky world, night after night, as i sit and consider the things upon which i might expound, i think of him often. he was my american idol. i know what some of you are thinking; that early in his life he was unkind to gays, and intolerant. but i forgive him that. he was from another century and times were different, and i can’t imagine what his parents believed and taught him, until he figured it out for himself. he mellowed over the years in that regard. but he was the classic, consummate curmudgeon. nobody did cranky as well as he. and of course, funny. it’s what i aspire to be. the way he looked at the world just floored me week after week on 60 minutes, throughout my whole life, actually. and some day, when i grow up to be a real writer, i want to be andy rooney. godspeed, old man.
sorry. i just had to pause for that. hope you don’t mind.
i promise, i’ll try to be funny again next time.
big saga tonight. it was a rough week. have you ever had a toilet go bad? well, not really bad but not quite right? it’s not like it overflowed and flooded the premises, but over the past couple of weeks the flush wasn’t what it once was. not as stong. not as vibrant. not as decisive. (wait, you realize, of course, that i’m still talking about the toilet and not about me?) it became an issue that needed attention. sit. let’s discuss.
i have a management company whom i pay to fix things in our house. i pay yearly (and dearly), and whatever goes wrong, (pretty much), i call them and they fix. so this week my toilet in my master bath took on the demeanor of a lazy flush and i called them. the repair man came, rootered a bit, plunged (past tense of “to plunge“?) and it was still kind of slow. his diagnosis? you need a new toilet. the counterclockwise water motion isn’t enough to push the water down, due to calcified crud in the holes in the rim of the bowl. my being an expert on a bunch of shit, but not especially about toilets, it all sounded like a considered opinion to me. he left, i went to home depot, bought and carried home a new toilet, ordered the installation, and all was going to be right in the world again, come the following morning.
not so fast, kemosabe.
when the installer arrived, he removed the old toilet and gazed into the hole in my porcelain tile floor and announced, you have roots in your pipes. (come to think of it, i saw a gay porn movie once where there was a scene between a lumberjack and a camper and one of them used that very same line. but i digress.) ok, i reply. can we remove them? no, says he, you need a professional rooter guy. i’m not putting the new toilet on because when he roots your drain, it’s easier from here without the bowl and this way he won’t scratch it. when he’s finished, i’ll come back and install your new toilet. ok, says me, sounds like a plan. and off he goes.
next stop, internet, phone calls, rooter appointments and finally a very nice man with a very big tool arrives, (a drain tool people, minds out of the gutter), and he inserts a cable into my pipe (gosh, that does sound a tad dirty, no?) and pulls out…..and i don’t think i’m exaggerating here…..what came out was a sequoia tree. a five foot long root system that looked like the bottom of the tree from avatar (you remember, in the battle for the planet scene, when eywa, the tree of life, tips over and the people of pandora weep?) well, picture me weeping. that beast came out of my toilet!!!! i’m amazed it didn’t grab my ass and shove a branch up, as i sat! this thing was fierce! so he cleans out my drain, $200 later, and packs up and leaves. now, for sure, all things will be ok in the morning after the install.
did i mention i bought a kindof fancy job? it’s a double flush deal. sitter’s choice. there’s the 1 gallon flush for liquids, and the 1.6 gallon for solids. of course my first question is, and i’m sure it’s yours as well, how do it know? is there like a little tiny speaker there, so that while you sit it asks, are we done here or do you need to drop a solid? come on, i haven’t got all day. i mean seriously, how do it know? well, it turns out that there are two buttons on the top. one for number one and one for number two. (how grammar school is this? i mean, maybe the toilet wants to know if you have to go poopies. oh the indignity!) anyway, it is really, all things considered, pretty cool. there’s no handle. nothing to jiggle down the road. take a look.:
i know, it’s a freakin’ toilet. oh, big woo. but check out the buttons for number 1 or number 2.
if you click on this second picture, i don’t know if you can see it, but the buttons have braille on them. (i’m thinking if the blind guy found the toilet that’s a miracle in itself. but to have him be able to select his flush….well, talk about equal rights for the handi-capapble.)
so the installer returns, and upon trying to do his job, announces that my tile floor is very uneven and that the throne will not sit squarely, and might, perhaps, rock a bit. what to do, what to do? so he uses shims, to prop it, and pre-mixed grout to various thin and thick applications to level it off, and announces, ok, it’s in, but don’t touch it for a week. wtf? through my tears i ask, a week? he answers, well don’t even put a hand on it for 24 hours. after that you can stand and deliver liquids, but do not sit upon it for at the very least, three days to let the grout cure. (and he thinks it’s the grout that needed curing? what about me pokey?)
so the ordeal is over. the toilet is in and it’s a beauty, and barely uses any water. at the risk of being even further indelicate, since i’m still not allowed to sit, we have yet to see a solid go down but i have high hopes. i’ll keep you posted.
so this past week has yielded a victory in battle with the bees, (see earlier blog), and now a happy ending to my porcelain crisis. i am still king of my castle. unfortunately, i am currently without a throne.
congratulate me. i’ve found a new doctor. well, several, actually. and i might add, it wasn’t easy. sit. let’s discuss.
i’ve mentioned that my primary doctor, my whiz kid, who is no kid, has retired from practice. (with me as a patient, i suppose he’s suffered enough, and i must let him go). so with a little investigative skill, and some advice from friends, i’ve managed to find a new primary care doctor, who, on first visit, i think i really like. he’s smart, kind, attentive, thorough and he takes my insurance. (i’m thinking that at this point in american history, i’d make an appointment to see dr. no, if he took my insurance.) the office staff, on first look, seems to know what they’re doing as well. proper paperwork, new patient intake and all that. top it off with, for my first appointment, it was a mere five minutes in the waiting room before it was time to go in. (it’s a good thing, too. there was a guy on his cel phone and husband was getting antsy. although he’s just now getting over the santeria curse from the last doctor visit) see earlier blog.
so, upon reporting to the new doc about the current state of my neck, he was sympathetic. (have i mentioned it? i’ve had a stiff neck now for about 2 months and it seems like the only thing that might make it feel better would be a knitting needle stuck through my right eye.) he referred me to a sports medicine guy who is highly regarded, to see if he could offer up some help. he was a minor league baseball player in days of yore, and now he’s turned musculoskeletal physician (relax, i checked the spelling) so he knows a thing or two about muscles and such. i called and got an appointment two days later. so far, so good.
he’s an amiable fellow, with a lovely wife who’s a dentist. (my mother’s dream come true. two doctors, one family. unfortunately it didn’t happen to her kids), and i like him already. again we only waited a few minutes. (ooh, i have to tell you this part. while sitting, we could hear the receptionist on the phone and she said something that caused me some concern. she said, into the phone, yes, i have an appointment available next wednesday at 9:00am. good, i’ll schedule you. no, no, don’t worry about that, the doctor doesn’t come in until 9:30.) wtf? clutch the pearls. why, in the name of the march issue of bait and tackle, (sports doctor waiting room, remember), would she make an appointment for 9:00am, when he doesn’t come in until 9:30? but i bit my lip. it turns out it was one of the other doctors in the practice. not sure i could have dealt with that, if you know what i mean. that’s just wrong.)
so we went in, and one exam and four x-rays later, he refers me to a sports rehab center for therapy for two weeks. he also prescribes a cream to rub into my neck, which happens to be terribly expensive. he said he wasn’t sure if my insurance would cover it, as it was a pretty new product.
off i went to the pharmacy, to present my scrips, and of course they turned down the cream. apparently, the doctor has to call the insurance company to say that it’s necessary. (duh. would he have prescribed it if it were not?) anyway, i go out to the car and call the doc’s office and little miss nursie, (you can feel my tone changing, can’t you?) informs me that she knew they wouldn’t cover it. they never do. she knows my insurance company. but, she says, i have a coupon for 30 dollars off your prescription if you’d like to come get it. (again duh. i just left there and she knew!! why didn’t she say something while i……..never mind.) stay calm, louise. so as i trek back to the office to pick up the coupon, i put a call in to my insurance company and leave a detailed voice mail for wes, the pharmacy approval guy, bemoaning my pain and my state of mind. (in the nicest way of course). i pick up the coupon, and head home, to wait for a callback from wes. ten minutes later, the pharmacy calls to say wes called them and it’s approved. (see, nice wins every time). so back i go to the pharmacy and find out it was $150. but now it’s only $80. i flash my coupon, and it turns out it wasn’t 30 off, it was a $30 copay for the scrip. (folks, can i get an amen?)
so as i sit here telling my story to you, i reek of shmear, emanating from my neck area, and i am to do this four times a day. it’s not that bad a smell. not ben-gay-ish at all. you know, that hideous menthol that permeates the room and makes you feel like you’re smoking a newport? no, no, not like that at all. it’s more like a spa fragrace oil/rub kind of thing. kind of cruise-ship-ish almost pleasant, but certainly bearable.
all in all, i got off fairly easy in this adventure. it’s the physical therapy part that gets really tricky. stay tuned…..
You know the ditty?…The theme song from that TV show, “The Jeffersons?”
“Well, we’re movin’ on up, to the East side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky, Movin’ on up, to the East side, we finally got a piece of the pie”.
I have some news to share: Husband and I sold the big old house. We had to get out in a hurry, too, because when somebody knocks on your door with a fistful of cash you “hop to” and get your ass in gear. Challenged as I am these days operating with only one hand,, Husband did ALL of the packing, although it was probably only about a third of our accumulated stuff as we deliberately and purposefully downsized. See, after the whole “brain cancer thing”, when you’re staring death in the face, you realize you’ve left quite the footprint with all your stuff; cds, dvds, books, tchochkes, dishes, wine glasses and of course, clothes you’ll never fit into again (and even if you did get back down to that size someday, it would be a pleasure to buy new ones, etc). So it seems that moving is a good time to unburden oneself and let the crap go, and so we did.
There was really no time to shop for a new home to buy, so we decided to rent for a while. There were a couple of logical reasons for this. Firstly, we’re really not sure how long I’ll live, and we didn’t want to buy something in haste and have Husband stuck there should I die. He might prefer to be somewhere in particular should he find himself alone. Secondly, at our age, renting is a nice, carefree, worry-free option; no special assessments, no fear of needing a new roof, no angst about rebuilding after a hurricane, etc. So we opted to rent for a year, and a condo seemed smart, especially with Savannah gone and our not needing a yard for her, anymore. We looked on the beach, of course, but that gets expensive and the truth is there’s really nothing on the beach except for the beach itself, and I’m kind of wobbly-footed these days and not really suited for sand walking. Having eliminated the beach we found a great “penthouse” (okay, the 5th floor of a five-story building), on the 15th hole of a golf course, all green and manicured with a lake below the screened-in balcony (for the cats), and I gotta tell ya, Momma is home . As much as I truly loved that grand house, I feel so much better having shed the crap, downsized and moved into a beautiful 2/2 with a view. I finally understand condo living and why people our age prefer it. All these lush greens, trees and Cypress groves around us with someone else beautifying them. It’s the way to go.
I don ‘t know what the future holds or what we’ll want to do a year from now, but I’m pretty sure, no matter what, neither of us is going to want to mow the lawn. Beyond that, I’ll keep you posted.
A cautionary tale tonight.
You know I’m not a big complainer, but when an injustice is committed I must denounce the offending party with all of the strength I can muster.
That party, in this case, is the furniture giant Rooms To Go.
I’ll tell the story the way it unfolded and you decide for yourselves if you’ll ever patronize them again. All of the following details are documented in their computer system.
It began innocently enough. I’ve had a bad back for a while, as you all know. Having survived the first brain surgery for the biopsy of the cancer, they scheduled a second, more difficult one, to try to remove it. I vowed to Husband that if I lived through it, we’d buy a new bed, so that whatever time I have left might be spent sleeping better. I lived, and days later I kept my word. Out with the 10-year-old Tempurpedic, which, I might add has served me well, and off to Rooms-to-Go for a new one. Now it’s not often one buys a bed and your relationship with it can be among your longest, along with a spouse or a pet, so it’s not to be entered into lightly. We shopped and tested them all in our local Oakland Park, FL store, over many hours, with the help of a seemingly nice, capable saleswoman named Nicole Fox, (yeah, I’m naming names here) and finally picked out a rather expensive Therapedic brand king that felt great. It was the very top of their line. $1600 later, including tax and delivery it arrived about a week later complete with a ten-year warranty.
A side note about commissioned salespeople, and if you’ve ever driven onto a car dealer’s lot you’ll know what I mean. It’s true in the furniture business as well; the minute they see your car doors open they begin to circle and whoever is next in rotation will pounce upon you as you enter the showroom. It’s a little scary. I’ve actually seen one salesman stab another in the neck for approaching out of turn. (At least I think that’s why…not sure. It might have been because he slept with his wife). Anyway…so Nicole Fox got us.
This is where the story takes a rather ugly turn.
We all lived happily ever after for five weeks, when I began to notice it was difficult to turn over in the bed. There were two deep depressions where the two of us sleep. We’re average guys. Neither of us is a Sumo wrestler. So, I called Rooms to Go to report this and they scheduled a technician to come out to examine the mattress. (I should add here that the tech arrived about a week later and could have been a body-double for an actual Sumo wrestler, so I imagine the dents in my mattress didn’t phase him, as his probably looks that way as well.) But as I said we’re only five weeks in, so he was sympathetic. A few days later, customer service called to say that he reported only a dent of 1.25 inches and in in order to be called “defective” it needs to be 1.5. In the meantime, I, the brain cancer guy, am holding onto the headboard at night trying not to roll off as I try to turn over. She said to call back if it got worse.
A month later I did just that, another tech came and admitted the mattress was defective even though it was still only 1.25,and customer service authorized an exchange
Well, of course I didn’t want the same one again (fool me once), so we re-shopped, found a fairly comparable one on sale (4th of July) and chose it.
Here’s where the train derails.
First off, they won’t let me choose that bed because it’s less money, and even though I am moving in less than a month and need to furnish an entire new condo and I paid for it with my Room To Go credit card, they refused to credit the difference back to the card, claiming they had no control over “corporate policy” and that I should take it up with customer service. Okay, I figured I’d wait until Monday to call, it being Friday the 4th of July and corporate being closed until Monday. Next came the coup de grace: they charged me for delivery again! I was livid. I refused to pay it claiming I had already paid for delivery of a bed and they sent me a defective product.
Then the lying really began.Them: We can’t write up a sales ticket without the delivery charge. The computer won’t let us. Me: Really? What happens when someone come in to buy a small lamp for an end table and wants to carry it out? Them: err, uh, I mean, large items. Me: I’ll take the bed with me, then. Them: er, umm, you can’t. We don’t have one in the store. Me; You’re just making shit up now, right? Them: You’re welcome to talk to customer service (on Monday, of course)
Then, Miss Nicole tried to give me, a 64-year-old brain-cancer survivor a ” time-out.”Her; Why don’t you just go home and come back tomorrow and we’ll continue this discussion. Me: The issues that are wrong today are not somehow magically going to be right tomorrow. I don’t need a time-out. Would you pay the delivery charge again to get merchandise that should have been right the first time? Her: This is not about what I would do. Me: (under my breath) Bet your ass it ain’t, you two-faced lying bitch.
So I paid for the delivery, added a foam pillow to get the price up to where it needed to be for the exchange, which I have every intention of returning, and went home to wait until Monday to talk to customer service.
Turns out, customer service says that delivery charges are the store’s policy and they have no say in their decisions. The manager could have waved it. Ya hear that, Greg?) Fuming at the lies I was told in the store by both Nicole Fox and her accomplice, a cashier named Alicia, I offered to call off the whole deal: Take back your mattress, which you’ve already admitted is defective, issue me a refund, we’ll part friends, and I’ll go buy a bed at Macy’s. How’s that?
Turns out they have a “no refund” policy on anything, apparently even on defective merchandise (unless of course someone is lying about that, too.)
Which brings me back to where I started. Beware Rooms To Go. When a company stops caring completely about how customers feel, the word of mouth on the street, the quality of their employees and has no guidelines or recourse, it’s time to steer clear.
I ask you to post this link onto Facebook, Linked-in and the rest of social media to show big uncaring companies that we don’t have to take their crap.
As for me, take a really good look at my face, Rooms To Go . You’ll never see it again.
You will have noticed I haven’t posted since the dog’s obituary back in late March. Thanks to all who sent condolences. We miss her terribly.
I’ve been absent because I’m working on another book; this one a non-fiction. Most of you know the terrible circumstance that has befallen me, but for those who don’t, here goes. I’m sick. The book is about my fight for life. It’s to be called “What Happened?-My Journey Through Cancer.” I’m deep into it but I wanted to post the prologue so you’d know I didn’t get lazy and quit writing.
Here,then, is the proloigue.
Where do I begin to tell this story, which very well might be my last?
As I sit here in a hospital bed, I await a doctor I don’t know, in the next room looking at a CT scan from an hour ago, trying to determine if the cancer they found in my brain this week is primary, or has spread from somewhere else. Wow, I’m not sure I meant to lay all of that out in the first sentence. I probably should have said “sit, let’s discuss”. Oh well, my bad.
It all started last Monday, 2/24/14. I mention the specific date only so I may chronicle the time, in case my demise is imminent, which I truly hope it is not. I was sitting at keyboard, not unlike now, when suddenly my left hand did a Keyser Soze crimp and went into a kind of seizure. (kudos to those of you who got the Keyser Soze reference from The Usual Suspects). The seizure scared me, so husband called 911. A short ride in an ambulance and an MRI revealed a cancerous brain tumor on the right side of my brain. (Does anyone mind if I inject an “oh, fuck me” here?) As the cramp was happening I took a couple of aspirin, half-remembering a Diane Sawyer piece about heart attacks. Turns out, had it been a stroke I might have made it worse.
They checked me into Holy Cross Hospital for a couple of days for a battery of tests and then released me Wednesday to get all aspirin out of my system pre-surgery.
Well, it’s now 3/4/14, a week later, and I’m back in and my first brain surgery was yesterday. I survived. Don’t begin to get excited. There’s a lot more to this story.
But before I go into it fully, you should know a few things;
a) this episode has produced a weakness in my left hand that prevents me from using it for typing, so I am officially a one-armed bandit. I must say, that this depressed me severely as a writer at first, until I remembered that Charles Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities and Victor Hugo wrote Les Miserables with only one hand each, holding feathers dipped in ink. (No carbon paper, no copies, no backup, nada. And they’re cool, and not bad works. So I’m guessing I’ll just deal with it, albeit pecking slowly along).
b) this is likely to be a very long piece, as I hope to tell the story and chronicle my fight for life, perhaps to leave both a remembrance and a guide for others who might come along to this exact, or at the least, a similar happenstance. On the other hand, under the worst scenario, it could be a very short story indeed.
If I still sound a little like me, all snarky and glib, you should know that the news is nine days old and I’ve done a lot of crying already. I still have lapses of despair and unfathomed sadness, but there’s already a bigger picture I’m beginning to grasp. I’ll get to that stuff as we go. But for now, in the telling of the tale, I’m going to try to stay, well…me, voice-wise, so that it at least makes for a good read. (Btw, damn that William Faulkner….he took the best title ever; As I Lay Dying. I would have used that one in a heartbeat!)
As ever, it’s going to be a set of observations. I’m going to divide this missive into chapters on my reactions to my rapidly changing world, people around me, my philosophies of life and death, and expectations and understandings as I see them about impending end-of-life.
I’ll try to keep it from being too much of a downer, but there really is a lot of horse-shit to be discussed so try and bear with me. I’m charting new ground here, for me, anyway.
So there it is. The beginning of the tale. Wish me luck on finishing it