Friday, August 31, 2012

Cooking Tip #371


I've learned and used several methods for separating the yolk from the egg but this one, whic I only haven't tried beacuse I have zero eggs on-hand, seems amazing:

 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 88 Meme - Part 1

1. What type questions do you hate on a meme?
I don't like questions that make assumptions, for example, see question 2.

2. If you married the last person you texted, what would your last name be?
I'll start with the answer, Daniele. Referrring to question 1 and my answer, this assumes a few things, most significantly, that getting married requires a name change.

3. Were you happy when you woke up today?
I'm definitely happy that I woke up today, that's a good thing.

4. When were you on the phone last? And with who?
Yesterday afternoon sometime, with a colleague discussing a technical support issue.

5. Who are you excited for?
I am not sure why this is a difficult question. Whle scared, I am excited for my daughter as she just started high school. I hope that this is a good time for her and that she growns and begins to find herself and doesn't get caught up in the drama and bad stuff that some kids find themselves in with in high school.

7. Honestly, who was the last person to tell you they love you?
My daughter.

8. What's the last thing you put in your mouth?
Post workout mmoothie.

9. Have a best friend?
This feels like a high school question. At my stage of life, I have freinds from many different times and places in my life, all of whom I treasure. Yes, there are that have more significance and a deeper place in my life.

10. Were you ever or are you scared to fall in love?
Yes to both. Howver, it seems that the heart doesn't care about my fears.

11. Do you think teenagers can be in love?
I think it's possible but love as a teenager is a very different think than love as a mature adult. Love is probably harder to define than most think and by most people's definition, I would bet that most would have no problem answering this question with a yes and no further thought.

12. Last person you wanted to punch in the face?
A colleague whose name I shall not mention here. However, he's a pompus S.O.B. that genuinely thinks he's better than everyone and treats most people really crappy.

13. What time is it right this second?
12:03PM

14. What do you want right now?
To have a conversation with someone.

15. Who was the last person you took a picture with?
Pretty sure it was my daughter.

16. Are you single/taken/heartbroken/or confused?
By definition, I guess single is the most appropriate answer of the choices given.

17. When was the last time you cried?
Last night.

18. Do you have a good relationship with your parents?
Both of my parents passed away a long time ago. I miss them both very much.

19. Do you find it hard to trust others?
Yes.

20. How fast does your mind change?
Depends on the particular thing but generally, not very fast.

21. I bet you miss somebody right now. Who is it?
I miss a number of people right now, all for different reasons.

22. Can you honestly say you're okay right now?
No, I don't even know what that means.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Bento-ver Backward to Get These Together

At 3:55 pm yesterday afternoon, while I was driving to pick up my daughter, she called to ask if it was possible to put together a Bento Box lunch for her first day of school the following day. She exclaimed, "I have all the recipes and ingredients and it will be...." How am I supposed to say no to this?

It was a pretty stressful day, work is great but this time of year is always stressful compounded by the fact that every computer on all three campuses is in the process of being replaced, we are short-staffed, and on top of that, I got other things my brain are trying to process. If you read yesterday's post, you'll see that the stress was taking a good shot at me, but I won that battle!

Anyway, I looked at Vickie's ingredients and recipes and we went to to markets to get things and make compromises and the cook in me made some mental modifications so that I can stretch my creative muscle. We arrive home shortly after 5pm and got started right away.

First up was the Japanese potato salad and I also got the rice going for the sticky rice cakes (or whatever they were actually called). My creative input for these two dishes included using cider vinegar instead of regular vinegar in the potato salad and because I didn't have "sticky" rice and didn't want to spend $7 on the smallest quantity that either of the two markets sold, I had to strategize how to get a similar effect from the rice I had.

Next up were the Vienna sausage Octopuses, to which I added some ginger soy sauce to the saute for flavor and color and finally, I ignored the chicken recipe on the sheet and seasoned some boneless, skinless thighs with sesame oil, salt, pepper, paprika and a variety of other seasoning in the form of Trader Joe's 21 seasoning salute (I love this product). I then prepared a breading of seasoned flour, seasoned egg wash and seasoned panko and fried them in peanut oil then just after they come out of the fryer, I hit them with a drizzle of honey. Are you hungry yet?

This morning, we assembled it all in these cute little Bento boxes that my daughter had and here's what it looked like:

The top box has the chicken on the left and the potato salad on the right, garnished with cucumber slices,








The bottom has the sticky rice cakes with nori.








The two boxes get covered then stack and have a decorative cover and elastic band to hold them. Here (to the right) is what it looks like closed up for transport along with some chopsticks. Pretty cute, eh?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On the Verge

Many paths were crossing today and it was shaky going at one point when I truly thought I might have a full on panic attack. I don't say that lightly but I also know that being able to articulate such is a statement as to what a difference a decade or so makes.

I've got two friends that have been dealing with children 5 and under with Leukemia, a friend who just had major cardiac surgery, and it goes on. How can I not have at least some perspective as to the precious value of life?

Today though, between the pressures of getting the semester going at work, once again short staffed, along with tomorrow being the first day of high school for my daughter (and only child), and my brain focusing on something that's been tugging at my heart strings for some time and on top of that, my daughter had some requests that I really wanted to fulfill for her but they were not easy and kept me tied ip at the market for an hour and then in the kitchen for three more....there was a lot of coping skills and breathing exercises.

I am just winding down right now. I am calm, not relaxed, but calm. I know that many of my problem are those that some people would wish for.

Tomorrow is another day and I'll start it ready to move forward and tale on the day and take action.

This may be disjointed and even a tad cryptic but I appreciate the forum to vent.

Typed on the iPad, sorry in advance for typos.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Window

do you see it? Click on the picture to see it full size and take a look. I took this picture this morning out the window of the library on campus. Obvious are the color of the trees and grass and even he shadows might tell a story.

What captivated me wasn't the very obvious but slightly less obvious, that which can be overlooked yet it's right there. The spider web is beyond interesting and impressive but makes me wonder why that particular spot was chosen. Was there a reason beyond it just being a spot?
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Entertaining/Tragic? You decide. However, here's the kicker, it's on a "microwave" inside an institution of higher education.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
This one cracks me up as well.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Flan

My daughter and I were invited to have lunch over the house of some folks at church. I thought I would make a dessert to bring and got the idea to make a flan; cause it's been a while since I ahve made a flan.

I had a recipe on hand that I used in the past but thought I'd nose around to see other recipes and found a rather unique version that uses both evaporated and sweetened condensed milk instead of whole milk and heavy cream. I though I would do a practice run and tried out that different recipe.

The net result, much less work but not nearly as good - overly sweet and while okay, a bit denser than I think a flan should be, so I went back to the other preparation - but came across a slightly modified version and I will offer the recipe here along with some pictures from my preparation.

Ingredients:
For the custard:
1 cup of Heavy Cream
½ cup of Whole Milk
½ Vanilla Bean, seeds scraped out with a sharp knife
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
Pinch of salt
3 Tbsp of Granulated Sugar

For the Caramel:
½ cup of Granulated Sugar
3 Tbsp of Water

1.      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Fill a tea kettle with water and let it come up to boil. Place 4 (6oz) ramekins in a large roasting dish with high sides and set aside, and spray them with non stick cooking spray.
Note: My ramekins are 4 oz. capacity.
2.      In a small saucepan, add the heavy cream, milk, vanilla bean and a pinch of salt, cook over medium heat until it comes to a simmer then turn it off and let it sit while you work on the caramel.
Note:The bloack dots is the vanilla from the bean.
3.      In a saucepan, add the sugar and water DO NOT STIR, cook over medium high heat until the mixture turns a deep amber color, remember you can swirl the pan but never stir. This process might take up to 10 minutes so be patient and do not leave it alone because it can turn from amber color to burned in seconds.

4.      Divide the caramel between the 4 ramekins and immediately tilt the ramekins to make sure the whole bottom surface is covered in the caramel.

5.      In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk with the 3 tbsp of sugar until they are well mixed. Pour the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk well to combine. Remove the vanilla bean and divide the mixture between the ramekins.

6.      Pour some hot water in your roasting pan up to about half way up the ramekins, bake them for about 35 to 40 minutes or until set.

7.      Remove from the water bath and let them chill for a couple hours in the fridge or up to overnight. To serve, run a small paring knife around the edges and tilt upside down on a plate.

The results where fabulous. I tasted it and it was exquisite and everyone loved them.

Added Monday - I realize I should have taken a snapshot of what they look like when served, it's quite beautiful will the caramel pooled at the top then drizzling down the sides. This recipe is not cloyingly sweet, it's just right and the vanilla from the vanilla bean really makes a HUGE difference over extract.

Flex-ing My Memories

It's always interest, to me anyway, how memories can be triggered by random chance. I was driving yesterday and at a red light. While waiting, one of the cars that crossed my path was a Silver Ford Flex, much like the one in the picture here:
 

It's a hard car to miss partly because it's enormous and partly because it doesn't look like any other car on the road. I haven't seen many of them but a few here and there, though not recently.

In fact, seeing the car pass me by reminded me of the last time I recall seeing one, one very much like this one, it the memory it triggered was of one of the best days of my entire life. Funny how just seeing a car drive by can do that.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Arachnophobe and Other Stuff

My daughter is not fond of spiders - they make her screech and run fast. She stood at my house on Sunday and minutes after I ehard her turn the shower on, I heard her yelp. I inquired and she screeched, "A SPIDER!" I came to the rescue destrying the spider to which she though was both heroic and disgusting; end of theatrics...

...Until this evening, again she goes to take a shower and just as she turns on the water, I hear a loud screech and then the water goes off and she yelps once more, "DAD! ANOTHER SPIDER!" "Chill out Vickles, I'm on the way." I told her that I haven't seen a spider in ages, she must be bringing them with her, that freaked her out a bit (I kept the laughter to a minimal and to myself).

I was in the campus bookstore recently and this textbook caught my attention. I began to laugh then started rambling in rapid succession in my best infomercial voice:

  • From the publisher of the million selling text, "Plumbing Concepts for the Plumber" and "Electricity for Electricians".
  • From the company that gave us the classic tome "Carpentry for Carpenters".
  • The companion text for "Phlebotomy for the Phlebotomist"
You get the idea. Good thing I crack myself up!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High School Kid

Today I took my daughter to an orientation at the high school, where her official first day of class is next Wednesday. I am nervous about so many things -

My daughter had a rough go of it in school last year. She made lots of progress toward the end of the year and she's said she's ready for a "fresh start" - I hope so.

The of course, there's the fact that she's in high school, there will be high school boys there, and the social pressures that go with high school - scared me when I went to high school, scares the heck out of me now as a parent of a girl entering high school.

Oh, and if the pressure of dealing with a girl entering high school wasn't enough, they were handing out flyers tonight for the first dance. WHAT! Already! How am I going to get through four years of this?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Things Are Picking Up A Little

As the fall semester is less than two weeks from the start date, things are picking up on campus. Many, "I forgot my passwords" already along with the usual stuff. Also, every computer on campus is getting replaced, that's going to be fun!

My daughter's first day of high school is next Wednesday. Tomorrow we are going to an orientation where she'll get her final schedule, and visit all of her classrooms and get the lay of the land at the school.

I made a practice flan today (sorry for lack of a photo). I call it a practice flan because it's been years since I last made one and it's not a super easy thing to get right. This one came out okay, not great. Most of the issues are related to the physical appearance, plus, the caramel didn't come out perfect.

I found myself today more interested in how a tennis match went than ever before. I have watched many, many pro tennis matches and been entertained. However, I've never really cared so much about the outcome, just wanted a great match. Today, a dear friend's daughter was scheduled to play in her first match for the team she worked really hard to make - so this time, I actually do care about the player more than the match,

Heard today that this coming season will be the last for "The Office". It's definitely time but I always hate when one of "my shows" goes away.

That's all for now :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Summer's Bounty 2012

This evening,  there was a lovely dinner called "summer Harvest" which featured fresh, farm grown produce along with some other dishes, an amazing foccacia and some nice wines and sangria.

This first picture was taken as they were finishing the setups of the tables. I am not a big fan of al resco dining but this was nice anyway.


At the top picture are the two giant trays of home made foccacia and the libations. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you'll get a kick out of the names of the two wines on the right. I drank a glass of the middle one and it was quite delicious.

This is a picture of me and my daughter, taken with the typicaly evil front facing camera on my cvell phone. In this instance, the camera chose to not be so evil.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Happy Birthday Cuzzup! (etc.)

Today is my cousin Annalisa's birthday. I've written lots about here here on the blog, she's one of my more regular readers so me posting this is mostly because she likes dolphins and I thought the picture of the dolphin cake, plus my modifications to make it topical, are fun an I am betting she may even like it enough to not be too freaking lazy to post a comment here and let me (and all of you know).

And now for some other totally unrelated and random photos:


This photo was taken in (I believe) 2004 in the writing center on the campus where I work. As I recall there was a reception of sorts, perhaps an end of semester soiree, and there were a bunch of the regular students who used the center and one brought her little boy, whom everyone passed around to share in his cuteness; this was my time to hang with him.



I don't know when this photo was taken, and I'm betting if you are reading this, you know her name. Barbara happens to be one of the writing specialists and an adjunct professor of English at the college. She claims that this photo, taken by me, is her favorite picture of her. The picture was "lost" for a number of years and when I uncovered it last year, I make a 5x7 print and framed it then presented it to her; she was grateful. What a cool lady!

I don't know for sure where this picture came from but I think I may have been looking for cool photos and just found it one day and then saved it. I am sure I used it as a desktop background at one time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meme-ishness: Answer the Title

The idea here is to respond th the questions bing asked of you by these movie titles:

1.Shall We Dance?
Sure, why not. Howver, I may require a cocktail first.

2.O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Middlesex County, Massachusetts.

3.What’s Up, Doc?
Not a whole lot right now. Looking forward to not having to wake to an alarm (especially a 5am alarm) tomorrow morning.

4.What’s Your Number?
I haven't played baseball in some time. Let's shoot for 7 for now.

 5.Did You Hear About the Morgans?
No, but I have heard about the O'Connors - who leveraged their visit to CA and friendship with an episode director into a cameo on the show - NICE!!!! I can't wait to see that episode.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Dear Johnny (B.S. XIV)

My friend Johnny D wanted a full report on the Springsteen show from last night and as I typed an email to him, I realized it was more or less a blog post. Here's what I sent to him:

Johnny,

Getting harder for me to review a Bruce show because I just love him so and am always so mesmerized by how he is able to do what he does. As for last night, I’ll start with the venue. As a lifelong baseball fan, I can tell you there aren’t too many ball parks like Fenway, especially at this juncture. Fenway is a great place for a baseball fan to experience a ballgame (and some history) but it’s a terrible venue (in my opinion) for a concert. The layout and sound were just not up to par and while any outdoor arena will have its challenges, having seen many outdoor concerts, including Bruce at venues such as Giants Stadium, Shea Stadium and Gillette Stadium, all of which had sound that worked within it’s confines, at Fenway, it left much to be desired.

The next issue regarded the crowd and I don’t know if it had to do with the poor sound system or the pending doom off possible thunderstorms but it took a long time for the crowd energy to mount despite Bruce and the Band pouring it on in their usual way. Because I allowed this to affect me, it affected me but not for long because there was too much fantastic music and performing on the stage and that is why I was there, for the fourteenth time, to see this incredible performer. The good news, at some point, the crowd couldn't help but get pumped and it didn't take long.

NOTE TO JOHHNY D – THIS STARTED OUT AND IS BEING TYPED INTO AN EMAIL TO YOU BUT I REALIZED AS I WAS TYPING IT WAS BECOMING MY BLOG POST SO THIS WILL APPEAR FIRST IN YOUR EMAIL THEN LATER, ON FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM.

Looking at the set list, well, let’s look at it first (thanks Backstreets.com for me not having to keep score myself):

Thunder Road (Bruce & Roy)
Bruce walked out with Roy and he briefly addressed the crowd saying something like, “Roy and I are gonna get things started” and then Bruce pulled out the harmonica and the world became more than right, there was a Rock and Roll tranquility that set the tone for an performance that kept us guessing while being blown away as usual.

Hungry Heart
“Let’s play some summertime music” (or something close to that) exclaimed Bruce; and so he did, and it was glorious.

Sherry Darling
Summertime Blues
Girls in Their Summer Clothes
I feel like I liked the “Working on A Dream” record more than most people did. I was hoping for this song and glad that he played it. The arrangement was a bit different from both the record and version he played while touring for that album but it was as appropriate as it can be here on this oppressively humid night under the clouds in Fenway (literal and figurative for Red Sox fans).

We Take Care of Our Own
The first of the songs from the most recent record and this along with the rest have a new energy behind them.

Two Hearts
Wrecking Ball
Yes, he mentioned, “where Giants come to play”, got “booed” then apologized. Hey, there’s a need for a little schtick!

Death to My Hometown
Wow! Loved it early in the tour, this time, was a powerhouse – I loved it.

My City of Ruins
“The Rising” is one of my all-time favorite albums, not just Bruce albums. This song always delivers! During this song he paid tribute to the recently deceased Red Sox legend, Johnny Pesky with some banter and shining a spot light on both the “Pesky Pole” (the foul pole in right field at Fenway) and his number up on the rafters.

Knock on Wood
This came from a sign in the crowd and Bruce went on about how they’ve never played it before and he has no idea how it will turn out but they played it, and nobody in my general vicinity (nor a dude on the train ride home) believed for a minute that they never played that song – they KILLED with it.

Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Thundercrack
Frankie
This is a deep cut from Tracks that I had no idea what it was during the show but it was sweet. I was trying to figure it out but then just listened knowing I would see it on the set list online.

Prove It All Night ('78 intro)
Stunning! The intro was spectacular, the song blew the house down.

Darkness on the Edge of Town
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
This three song sequence beginning with Darkness almost tells a short story – classic Bruce pacing and arranging here with a great build. Shackled and Drawn is phenomenal on the live stage.

Waitin' on a Sunny Day
Timed perfectly, after two hours of wondering if it will rain, the rains began during this song.

Backstreets (with Dream Baby Dream interlude)
Sweet!

Badlands
Land of Hope and Dreams

* * *Encore:
Who'll Stop the Rain (acoustic)
Rocky Ground
Another show stopper from the latest record.

Born to Run
Detroit Medley
Killed it!!! Awesome!

Dancing in the Dark
Quarter to Three
Another sign from the crowd and a lot of late night theatrics from Bruce, very entertaining I might add. Took a minute to figure out what the heck song it was (couldn’t read the sign from where I was sitting) but wow! Great. I should also mention that from the Detroit Medley on, the amount of dancing in the crowd just grew and grew.

Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
Clarence memorial – still haunting and beautiful.

American Land (with Ken Casey)

When the show ended, some three and a half hours after it began, my friend Mike turned and said with joyous sarcasm, “only three and a half hours, we got cheated again!” Later, Mike quipped, “he sucked again! 19 times and the same shit every time!” It’s hard to imagine how much longer this can go on but this was the fourteenth time seeing Bruce for me and once again, I was so blown away by how this man, and this incredible band, put on a show that capture so many emotions, makes you feel everything in ways that you can’t imagine feeling, makes you think about the time and place and make the moment you are in the most important moment.

All I can really say is WOW!!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

R.I.P. Horseshack/Hello Bruce!

Ron Paolillo, most famous for his role as Arnold Horseshack in the 1970's sitcom "Welcome Back Cotter" died at the age of 63. That dude made me laugh a lot back then!


The other day, I thought I tickets had come my way to see Springsteen at Fenway park for tonight. I wasn't looking aggresively but these just found me so I went for it and then, they fell through. I figured that was that even though there are two more area shows, I have been agressively seeking tickets for one of the shows at Wrigley field in Chicago.

Today, my friend Mike texts me and next thing I know, him and I are going to see Springsteen at fenway tomorrow! YAY!!! I am still aggressively seeking out Wrigley tix.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dots In Front of Statements

  • R.I.P. Johnny Pesky
  • R.I.P. Helen Gurley Brown
  • Kenny G is getting a divorce, he must've heard his own music for the first time and felt bad for her (LOL - come on now, that was funny-ish!)
  • The Olympics are over, and I didn't see a single second of coverage
  • Presliced apples sold to McD's and Burger king recalled - may be tainted with Listeria. That's what happens when you bring healthy things into those places
  • How about a new verse:
         I left my heart in another city
         because yours is there too
         I can't help but count the time
         till I'm back there with you
  • Did you watch the film I posted yesterday? It's pretty cool, my daughter wrote and directed it and I am so proud of her - 14 years old and first time out of the box.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Stages of Grief

This is the film my daughter wrote and directed as a result of her week at the New York Film Academy at Harvard University last week.

I am so proud of what she came up with - please feel free to leave comments for her here and I will be sure to pass them along:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Parental Pride

My daughter spent this past week at a film making camp by the New York Film Academy at Harvard University. While it was a bit of a pain in the ass driving to Cambridge every day to pick her up, it was a great opportunity for her to explore her creativity and ended up giving up some great quality time together to share in that creativity and at the end of the week, she will have created her own film and participated on some of the other film projects.

On Tuesday evening when I picked her up, she had spent two days at the camp at that point learning about the equipment and other important film making things and she was scheduled to shoot her footage on Wednesday and was panicked because she had yet to conceive an idea for her project at that point. I asked her if she had any ideas at all and she started out by thinking of things that she couldn't do, or thought she couldn't do because of her perceived limitations. I told her not to think about what you may or may not have at your disposal but the come up with an idea first then figure out how to make it happen with the resources you have to work with.

Victoria was quiet for a bit and then exclaimed she was kind of blank, so I told her I would run some ideas by her if she wanted; she agreed. I ran a few things by that seems to not phase her until I came up with an idea where there was this character that was going about their day and suddenly get word of some bad news and you get to see how it affects her. This seemed to spark some interest and then we went back and forth to develop it a bit and then she just ran with it and made it into what became the central theme of her film.

I won't go into detail here right now, I should be able to present the film in this space in a few days but until then, I'll tell you this: Friday evening I went to the screening and was so proud of what she came up with. I can't believe how beautiful my 14 year old daughter was able to develop and tell this story inside of three minutes.

In addition to making her film, she worked makeup on a fellow students Zombie film, which led us on Wednesday evening on a grocery store run to purchase some red dye and corn syrup so she can make blood, later her mom would take her to get some acrylic pains and she went off and created some interesting ideas in that film as well - the makeup work was really terrific.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Battle Fatigue

Between the festival style concerts in the scalding humidity, the 10 hours of driving this past Monday and picking up the Stix from Harvard each day this week, I am kind of running on fumes - pretty tired.

I have oodles of laundry piled up to be done and a litter box that's gone more than a day without a sifting. I have to get my ass in gear and get some rest ad get cooking.

My daughter is in film camp this week. When I picked her up last night, she mentioned that "tomorrow" (meaning today), she begins shooting her film and can't come up with an idea. I began by asking a few questions then threw out a few ideas and she decided that I am a genius :) Her film is going to revolve around the five stages of grief.

I think that's about all I have the strength to say right now. Good night!

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Alley Gang

It had been in the works for a bit of time, so the anticipation had been at its peak. Yesterday was the day it all happened, a bunch of us from the old neighborhood back in Brooklyn got together again after many years. We met for a late lunch at Brennan & Carr, the home of the best Roast Beef sandwich in the country.

Here are many of us after lunch in front of Brennan and Carr.


Afterwards, we ended up at "The White's Residence". The Whites lived a few houses down from me. Eddie and Margie were the parents and 4 daughters, Maureen (Moe), Francine (Franny, or as my mom use to call her, Fanny - lol), Kathleen, and Patricia (Patty).

This photo was of the ladies at the White residence (now owned by Franny).


This is the back  (or "Alley" view) of the White's house. I had no idea this photo was being taken, I was scoping out the alley way.




This is my favorite photo, it all of us that showed up (except for Franny, who had to go to work), sitting on the "big hill", just like we did as kids. The wall is the same, the graffiti has changed.


It was a really great day and so cool to see everyone. There were some folks there I hadn't seen in decades and some people there that I have known for 40+ years. I hope we can do it again at some point less than decades from now.


Monday, August 06, 2012

The Useless Questions Meme

Have you ever written a song?Yes, several. My favorite is one called "A Vision of Life" which actually took several years to write and came together after going through bits and pieces of writing then finding things that worked together.

Have you ever been in the opposite sex's public toilet?
I have; I had to go to the bathroom so bad, I mean really bad one time and just ran into the bathroom and only after being in the stall and in mid pee did I realize where I was and was scared to death from that moment until I left the room.

Are you superstitious?
Not really.

What's the most daring thing you've done?
I've performed stand-up comedy, or more accurately, what was meant to be comedy - on more than one occasion.

Did you have a baby blanket? Do you still sleep with it?
I would assume so - after all, I was a baby at one time. I don't still sleep with my baby blanket, I haven't seen it since I had it and even that is an assumption at this point.

Have you ever tried to cut your own hair? If yes, how’d it work out?
Yes, a few years ago I bought some clippers and went at it. As for how it worked out, I returned the clippers the following day and let others cut my hair ever since.

Have you ever sleepwalked?
According to my brother, yes. However, I have no recollection of it - which makes sense, I would have been sleeping at the time.

If you could be any age, what age would you be?
If we are talking for just a day, perhaps I'll go for 21-ish. If we are talking for keeps, I'll probably have to get philosophical and choose the age right where I am - unless, I can go back to an earlier age knowing everything I know right now.

What is your dream car?
I have never been a huge car guy. I have always loved the 1967 Camaro and if I could have one all tricked out, yet modernized to the point where it rides nice and has better amenities. I do like a nice Lexus (though with all the issues Toyota has had of late, I may have to look at an Acura) as well - sweet comfy ride with practical appointments.

What is your favorite cartoon of all time?
I hate to have to choose but if I must, in the moment I guess I would throw Tom & Jerry up there; I loved a number of cartoons - of the more recent ones, Spongebob rules.

If you were in a car sinking in a lake, what would you do first?
Pray that I can figure out how to get the fuck out and survive (since I can't swim).

Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
Unfortunately.

How many foreign countries have you visited?
Wouldn't every other country I visited be  foreign country? I believe the count is 3: Canada, The Republic of Kiribati and Brazil.

If you fell into quicksand, would you try to swim or try to float?
Crap, you could do that? I had no idea! Both I guess.

Do you talk in your sleep?
(***cue The Romantics***) I can't say for sure though I don't believe so, at least not anymore. My brother insists that when I was a kid, me and my sister had conversations across rooms in our sleep,

Have you ever slipped in the bathtub?
Yes, but I caught myself before I hit the bottom and then jumped up as a knee-jerk reaction almost causing me to slip once again.

If you could invite any movie star to your home for dinner, who would it be?
I am assuming that is a non-sexual/fantasy thing and just a who would you most want to hang with thing. Four come to mind off the top of my head: Jack Nicholson, Bill Murray, Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep. If there's a gun to my head and I had to pick one and only one, I am going with Jeff Bridges.

Have you ever re-gifted?
Yes.

If you could attend an Olympic Event, what would it be?
Ski Jumping - I'd love to see what that looks like up close.

If you could participate in an Olympic Event, what would it be?
Given the ability and testicular fortitude, Ski Jumping. Just watching ski jumping gives me goose bumps.

If you won a $5,000 shopping spree to any store, which store would you pick?
I think I'd go with Amazon.com because of the diversity of their product line. I could get stuff for me and gifts for others.

What do you think is your best feature?
I wasn't aware I had any features.

If you were to win an Oscar, what kind of movie would it be for?
I'd love it to be for a comedy.

Which of the five senses is most important to you?
Easily one of the hardest questions to answer. I think it's easier for me to say which of the five sense I would surrender if I must surrender one, that would be taste. I can't begin to imagine how to choose one over the other, it would take many hours to work through that.

Would you be a more successful painter or singer?
I suck at both. I think in order to be a way better singer than painter to be successful. I've seem some really shitty paintings by very famous/successful painters that I can't believe require all that much talent as a painter - so I will choose painter.

How many years will/did you end up going to college?
8 including grad school.

Have you ever had surgery?
Yes, several.

What do you like to collect? How many collectibles do you have?
Not a collector at this point, I have a few things that are considered collectible but not much emotional attachment to any of them.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Monsters of Mayhem 2012

This was the main lineup for the show at the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. My 14 year old daughter and I ventured out on Friday arriving around 2:30, just in time to see some unsigned band on the only stage in a shaded area.

At 2:45, a band called "White Chapel" played on an alternate stage and while I thought they were really good musicians and enjoyed the music, the vocals kind of sucked - a bit too much scream with no depth or real significance. I must say the freaking mosh pit was the scariest I had ever seen - there were some nasty shit going down in there.
I do feel the need to discuss the whole mosh pit thing. I have never condoned it, not even when I was a young dude going to the shows in the eighties. I think the mosh pit is violent and unnecessary, and should be completely outlawed.

The dippin' dots stand has no relevance to the music but seeing it there was a joyful reminder of one the best days of my entire life and it made me smile so wide it hurt so good.
"Dirtfedd" was the next band and we didn't watch them so much as listen to them (eh, take'em or leave 'em I guess I would leave 'em but mostly indifferent) while checking out some of the booths at the festival. Same for "The Devil Wears Prada' (shitty-ish), "Upon a Burning Body" and "As I Lay Dying" - watched a little, walked around a little, paid attention a little. Nothing overwhelmingly good or bad, just okay at best. There were a couple of excellent mohawks along the way:

And, there was a t-shirt of a great band that didn't play this festival, but it's a band I dig a lot thanks to Tori for introducing them to me - I thought it would be fun to snap a pic of the t-shirt:

The band I wanted to see more than any other took stage at 5:25, Anthrax. I go back with Anthrax to pretty much the beginning and saw them for the first time in 1985-ish. While I rarely like to listen to bands I am going to see on the way to see them, I did bring Anthrax's 1985 album "Spreading the Disease", which features my favorite Anthrax song, "Madhouse" (which they played).
The band was the classic lineup and singer Joey Belladonna still has a great voice even after more than 25 years of belting out these songs. Their set was truly spectacular and totally made the day but it would be the end.

Following Anthrax, we headed to the main stage, which had seats!!! The first band on the main stage was a one that my daughter was looking forward to, "Asking Alexandria". I thought they kind of sucked be she liked them so I dealt with it; especially since the band that followed them, was legendary...the great Motorhead!

Motorhead is fronted by the 66 year old Lemmy Kilminster and they rocked so hard, they were so freaking awesome, that between them and Anthrax, it was like a clinic that the older folks put on for all of the younger bands. Motorhead totally blew it out of the box and when they were done, just before 8 pm, I suggested to my daughter that we leave. While Slayer then Slipknot were still to play, I don't really like either and she doesn't know either so leaving would give us the chance to avoid leaving arena congestion and traffic and, go grab some real food somewhere outside of the amphitheater where a burger was $10 and looked like a disease on a bun.

We made it to the town of Franklin in short time and hit the local Five Guys for real burgers and fries then made it back home just a bit after nine having enjoyed a great day together.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Podcast: Only God Knows Why - The Legend of Johnny Kool (Part 3 of 3)

This is the conclusion to the series - I hope you enjoy and please, let me have some feedback.

You can go to the podcast site to download or subscribe of listen right here:

Friday, August 03, 2012

Hair-assment?

My daughter and I decided to get haircuts before going to the concert today so as we have in the past, we went to the local beauty school because it's super inexpensive. Thus far, my daughter has loved every cut/styling she's got there and while I've only left with different levels of bad haircuts, I have no real emotion about such and it usually works itself out after I get back home and wash it then within a few days to a week of growth, it's all fine-ish.

My daughter was super unhappy with her cut/style today but the emotional outbreak was minor and only lasted until I got her back home where she restyled it and was over the hump. Me, I never really cared that my cut/style was awful but aside from the fact that the stylist was effervescing as if she'd accomplished something great and was proud to let her client leave looking the way I did (it was pretty bad- a mousse helmet in effect).

Forgetting the horrible job at cutting and styling, let me tell you about the levels of inappropriate that she was. Oh wait! At the beginning, I felt my head shaking to the point where I was almost worried that I may have either been stroking out or having a major panic attack but there were no other symptoms of either and I was pretty calm - so I kind of ignored it until I realized it wasn't me at all, the SIT (stylist in training) was shaking like a _________________ (fill in the blank and think something very shaky).

You know how there's always small talk, so I played along. She made some comment about how my hair was so nice and soft and naturally wavy in the middle of what I thought was a conversation about family. I had mentioned to her at some point that my dad was bald except for one of them horseshoes around the back of his head but still went to his barber all the time. I then mentioned that my brother had a bit of a balls spot but it seems to have skipped me so far. She then went on the say, and I quote, "so, your brother was the ugly duckling and you - you were the ho...handsome one." ***WHAT!*** I replied, "Hey, you just dissed my brother, that isn't cool. He a handsome fellow, just with less hair than me." From that point on, she got a little too touchy-feely and it was starting to get a bit creepy. Don't misunderstand, she didn't put her hands down my pants or anything like that, but the seemingly unnecessary hand on the shoulder then slide down to the chest was a bit much and definitely inappropriate.

When she went to was my hair, she said, "do you prefer a scrub or a massage?" I really had no idea what the hell that meant, I came in for a haircut - not a laundry/massage. I told her I had no idea "what the hell that means" and to just wash my hair the way you wash a customer's hair and let's put a wrap on this to which she replied, "if you like, first I can scrub, then I can massage." ***REALLY?*** Who the heck was this SIT and where the heck was the supervising faculty?

Finally, back to the chair and she's trying to decide which product to use then asked if I had a preference. I mentioned that I use a pomade. She went off to get a pomade, put some on her fingers then said something that I can't quote verbatim because I don't even wanna think that she could even have gone there but said she didn't want to use that one in my hair because it reminded her of some thing sticky. She went and got another pomade and was unpleased with the feel of that...I then said, "Look, I gotta go, this is the oddest cut I've ever got...please, finish in the next 30 seconds."

She looked at me through the mirror, which was was way creepier than I thought it could be and almost begged, "can I please use some mousse?" She ran, and I mean ran, full speed to go fetch some mousse and put a wad of it - the size of a damn softball on her hands then went to freaking town with the entire wad of it on my head. What a damn mess but after she announced she was done and removed my cape, I ran to my kid and got the hell out of there.

There's a part of me that feels compelled to report her behavior to her supervisor. Is that an overreaction?

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Stupid Verizon

Seems like the easiest transaction to get right ever - I bring in a defective box, they swap it out, I get it home, connect it, activation kicks in and done. Right? Wrong! Not because that isn't how it should have gone but because of a stupid mistake caused in part by a piece of poor programming/design work and and even more set of irrational intricacies and I am pissed (though a bit less since I bitched my way to a $56 credit on my bill).

I was at the local Verizon storefront for 25 minutes of my lunch time swapping the box. The dork (not just throwing that out there or judging, the dude was a dork and a rude-ish one at that) entering the order into the system erroneously entered it as a "by mail" order instead if an "in store" order (which is where the program screen design flaw comes in, why was it the default choice from in a store to do a mail order?). Dork-man reenters the order then instructs me to "wait a few minutes or so so that the activation kicks in".

Much time passes and it's at this time he explains the initial error in entering and that because of that, it's holding up the correct order from processing and activating the box. I told him I had to go and he told me to call him when I got home, before attaching the box, I call him hours later, first at 4pm, then after not getting him, again at 4:30 where we spoke and he said something like, "blah, blah, blah----blah, give me about 30 minutes and I will call you back."

I never get the call back, I know the store closes at 6 so I say fuck it and call Verizon tech support, explain the issue and it turns out they can't figure out how to activate the box. 40 minutes of hold with very rare updates leaves me with the discovery that the wrong order that went in had a service change date of 8/16 - which in a nutshell means that would be the earliest they could activate the box. I asked them, "Why not just cancel (or edit) the wrong order, then re-enter it correctly?" "Oh, we can't so that, you'll need to contact the store or the sales area for that. Pissed, I hang up on the asses as tech support and call the other number.

The FIOS person sees the issue and is prepared to fix it all and just when I get my hopes up, they tell me there's a note on the system from some department call some stupid name that they are working on resolving an activation issue and as such, it's locked out from everyone else. I express my frustration to FIOS person and while she is apologetic, she felt it was work crediting my account for $56.

Now we see if tomorrow I can get the box activated and just wait till I get a hold of that nincompoop dork at the store.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Scrambled Thoughts

Most people, including myself, could probably write at length about the last few days; more accurately, some of the stuff I've heard in conversations - really deep, heavy and in some cases, brutal stuff, but this isn't the stuff you write about. I think just being able to write this, so far, has helped to diffuse some of it, if even just a wee bit, because while I said deep and heavy, some of it was way deeper, heavier and even disturbing and sad than just about anything I have ever heard. Okay, I'm done with that - and I apologize that it must remain cryptic, just know that the strong can survive - and if you somehow find your way to this post, know that you are strong, a survivor and I am so proud of you!

Two of my oldest blog friends both posted in some fashion about one of their mutual friends, whom I haven't had the pleasure of knowing, that she (their mutual friend that is) has been diagnosed with Cancer. Shit, I've had lots of tears in the past few days, even for people I don't know. "Sizzle", we share some mutual blog friends; I heard of your diagnosis and am so sorry you must deal with the horrors of Cancer. I will keep you in my prayers - Godspeed!!!

My dear blog friend Joy is having major cardiac surgery on August 13th. Please keep Joy in your thoughts.
* * * * *
Have you ever felt so much inside but had no idea how to express those feelings effectively? Ever unsure of the best way to make clear how you feel because of really bad past experiences? Ever feel like your going to explode, just ker-blong because you want nothing more than to put it out there and know that every day that you don't is another day lost and if anything, everyone knows the importance of time and living in the present?

How is it August 1st already?