Friday, January 20, 2012

Hiding in tech-land or "Me, myself and (You if you're eavesdropping)"

The stupid thing about those games on Facebook is that you have to convince your friends to play in order to actually make any progress - most of my friends don't play them anymore. ...remind me to tell you about the Christmas grab bag at the office...

The stupid thing about me is that I decided to create an alter-ego on Facebook so I would have an additional friend to be my neighbor in the those games. To be honest one additional friend is usually of inconsequential (v) value and a regular pain in the butt because you have to log-out, log-in and log-out and log-in... etc, etc... stupid... BUT then I found that my a-e actually had a much better purpose to his cyber-life...


boy, howdy!

He's the best! He can insult me like no one else. He can make brilliant observations about my posts and actually state those things I'd never say myself. Is he vicious? Yes, he actually is.

Does that make me a coward? Maybe it does.

I used to be the guy that always avoided the inappropriate comment - so much to say, quips, remarks, one liners... I thought, "some day I'll write a book". These days, I say what I want, but I'm perceived as the guy who is "on his cell phone..."

So I'm in the grocery store behind this dame whose child is screaming and I say out loud and directly to the back of her head...

"Your kid would be better behaved if you were a better parent. What a monster."

As she swung around at me, I continued a different part of that same conversation about parenting into my "ear piece", reached past her and grabbed four cans of tuna; jabbering about nothing important to no one at all.

She waddled off.

She couldn't pick a fight with me without admitting two things:

A) that she was listening to my conversation
B) that her child was acting like a monster

I feel sorry for parents with children who misbehave, but isn't that why God created peanut allergies? ...but I digress...

Maybe I'm a coward who has found a new way to talk behind your back right in front of your face?

Maybe I'm sensitive and care what others think so much that I've found a way to hurt their feelings that also provides a way to rationalize it away.

Maybe I'm a new type of hunter with a new type of blind.

I have an idea for a gizmo that makes another driver's car horn go off when you press the button. (someone has to blow their horn at that stupid traffic cop, but he doesn't have to know it's me)... I'll call it "van-triloquist"...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Birthday warning!!! (One Month Away)

So, my birthday is one month away - exactly... Sept 28!!! Yea! And you don't have to get me a present, but if you do I won't be angry.

I'm turning 45.

45 is so many things to me.

It was the speed limit for the stretch of road I lived on when I grew up.

It was the smaller size of a record.. that was the one you bought when you only knew the one song and couldn't buy the whole album...

It sounds like middle age to me... ...but I won't dwell on that.

I like the idea of the record. You see the 45 was the single that they released when they knew they'd have a hit (or hoped). And for every 45 that had a hit on side A there was always another song on Side B.

And so here I am standing and looking at 45 wondering whether I've just lived through Side A or Side B and whether the years that have passed have been the Hit or the extra song that didn't get much airplay.


Friday, August 27, 2010

Dessert so sweet, defeat so bitter or (get used to disappointment Cupcake)

As baking is one of my passions I decided to enter the company bake-off with what I knew would be a winner - my lemon bars. They are not too complicated and people just love them... however, as I discussed the competition with co-workers and competitors I began to get concerned that my winning lemon bars would be just too simple.

-Do you wanna win, Wolfe asked?

(as if he knew there was any point in asking a child whether or not he wanted a Christmas present)

-If you wanna win, make the toffee cheesecake.

-I guess I could.

-Sylvia has been talking about it for years. (Sylvia is Wolfe's mother)

-I was thinking lemon bars, but...

-Do you wanna win?

So I started thinking cheesecake. In Wolfe's defense the toffee cheesecake is a show stopper. It's a recipe I got off of (I only get recipes from there because they are rated. With over 100 cookbooks in my shelves, the only things I bake are from Epicurious because people will say if the recipe is good or bad or doesn't work or is too sweet ... no holds barred - you get the truth... an author selling cookbooks generally won't say, "This one doesn't usually work" or "looked pretty, but tasted like crap")... where was I?

Oh, the toffee cheesecake, from Epicurious... It's a cheesecake with a gingersnap crust, filling, rich with butter and brown sugar, coated in a layer of caramel and toffee. It is outstanding.

It was a three day process (if you don't count the days I spent buying cream cheese - you see I buy cream cheese when it's on sale because it's so expensive and it's a must for cheesecake. I keep a stock of it in the fridge just in case)... the first day I made the toffee and caramel sauce. The second day I made the cheesecake itself so it could age overnight in the fridge. And this morning I assembled it... Gorgeous! ***sigh*** A masterpiece!!! It was a doubled recipe in the largest springform pan known to man.

The crowds oooed and ahhed as I walked past them-caramel running over the sides of the cake carrying chunks of toffee like pieces of glacier. People begged for samples as I cut it into bite sized pieces for the judges. After the judges' portion was set aside the rest of the cake was put out for general consumption at the company picnic.

It was the only cake to be demolished and people came back to pick at the crust and the globs of caramel and cream cheese.

When the flies had settled on what was left over by all the other contestants, my plate was completely clean. I knew it would be...

...and as I sat at my desk, knowing full well that I would not even place, I was still very surprised that I didn't.

Nope, I didn't even place. The top two prizes went to box mixes with adders - I should have known. I have copies of all the cake mix doctor cookbooks and they are pretty good... but if I were judging a bake-off and saw a list of ingredients would I pick the cake that had "1 chocolate cake mix" right at the top of the recipe?

I admit it, I'm a snob. I am a dessert snob. Is that a crime?

At the end of the day did the judges go with what tasted best? Who knows. You will think that they did. But I tried all the competition and have to say that the desserts I thought were best were others that did not place - a carrot cake nearly as good as the one I make, a pecan pie cookie bar that was delightful, a banana cake that was light and scrumptious and Indian carrot dessert that was better than what I had previously tasted in my favorite restaurant...

maybe my taste buds are just so superior to the average shmo' who'd volunteer to be an office dessert contest judge (we all know the type), that I completely missed the boat.

-a fellow contestant smiled at me and said, we just need to try harder next year.

I sent a "Didn't win... or place" text to Cricket who felt bad and sent a simple frowney face back as support.

As I walked in the door Cricket greeted me with a drink,

-I'm sorry you didn't win. Are you disappointed?

-I am disappointed. But more than that I feel like I wasted all that cream cheese for nothing.

-Yeah, well, that cream cheese was way past expired. You should have thrown it away a year ago...

Some people know just what to say. ...and suddenly I wasn't even disappointed that I hadn't had a chance to taste my own entry.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Practically twins or (or that gentle breeze you feel is not a good sign)

I've been working... as in, I found a job, so you will have to excuse the fact that I've not blogged in possibly a year...

With a new job come so many fun things to tell about the new and the old... some fun people...

So, I was having lunch with a new coworker-Kadie, she choked (mildly) on something she was eating and (as is the occasion so often for me) was concerned that she now had something in her nose. She sniffled and wiped and excused herself, but continued until I finally confirmed for her that there was nothing in her nose. I went on to relate a story of how Agnes and I had a pact when swimming (the nose is notorious for running when you're at the shore). If one of us had a "bat in the cave" when swimming, the other one would simply say, "you do". We never had to ask if we had something in our nose - we knew that the other had our back (so to speak).

Kadie laughed, "what a great idea..."

I went on to fill her in on all the other "secret messages"... one fave was the agreement with Charlie and Peter (guys I had worked with); if one or the other of had our fly down, the noticing party would simply say, "Look up here." It was our cue to check our fly, while anyone outside the circle would simply "look up"... it worked like a charm.

She laughed at this one, "Ingenious! Now, where did you work with these guys?"

-Well, years ago I worked in a church. I was a pastor.



"That's so cool! I'm an amateur burlesque dancer on the side!"

Now, this remark took me by surprise for a great many reasons. I have to admit that the leap from pastor to "stripper" for me was a big one - and yet, oddly enough, made absolute sense to her.

-You are?

"I am! Tho I admit, I'm not very good at it."

-Buttons can be tricky...

"Ha, no, it's more about the singing and dancing than it is about taking off your clothes."

(this was news to me)

-So you sing?

"um, not well..."

-But you dance.

"No, not really."

I was pretty much out of awkward questions that I was willing to voice. So instead I decided to continue with what seemed to be the whole train of thought...

-yeah, I was a pastor for about 5 years.

"How did you ever get into that?"

So, it looked like she was going to ask the questions instead...

It was quite the conversation; I explained that I had preached on occasion and enjoyed public speaking... I told her about my one Christmas eve sermon.

Charlie had decided he'd spend Christmas eve sitting with his wife and kids in the pew instead of running the service and... that I could preach, do whatever I wanted. So, I pondered it for a while and decided that I'd simply tell the Christmas story in my own way - I like to write poetry - tell stories in rhyme and metre - so, I set the Christmas story to rhyme and I was very pleased with it. I decided that instead of standing behind the pulpit I'd memorize the piece and deliver it walking about the platform - I find that much more engaging. It worked for me, but I couldn't help getting the sense that it just wasn't working for the crowd. I made the most of it.

After I finished there came the time for the candle-lighting part of the service; the lights would dim and each person at the service would light their candle from the person next to them as the church slowly filled with light...lovely. The pastors would carry lit candles and start the lighting at the end of each row. Charlie and Peter came to the front of the church to get their candles. As Charlie took his candle and walked to light it from the glowing candle near the piano he turned to me and said,

"Look up here..."


My fly had been down the entire time I had preached. ...and no, I couldn't stand modestly behind the pulpit reading while nicely ventilated down below...

My parents were in the crowd that night - perhaps the only time they'd ever heard me preach; mom's comment on the evening was,

"The next time you're going to prance around a stage in your underwear you might want to pick a color other than green."

...and as it turns out, I've not pranced around a stage in green underwear since...

....i suppose that every line of work has its own kind of exposure....


Thursday, July 2, 2009

An evening with Mr Foote (a three for Thursday)

I had coffee last night with my friend Mr Foote.  He's a great guy with an opinion about everything from politics to parenting...  he's very well read and consumingly interesting...  funny even...  

So, in an effort to let you get to know me better here are a few of our interchanges from last night...

On his 20 y/o son's girlfriend (he doesn't like her)

"Mindy has moved into the house.  She is a total slob!  And on top of everything, she told me that she wants to get a tattoo.  I know Matt; if she gets a tattoo he will be completely turned off.  If I warn her I..."

"Warn her?"

"Yes, well... he's not going to like a tattoo, so..."

"So?  It's perfect.  Make a pot of coffee, sit down with her and ask her if she's thought about which design she wants.  ...and ask if she's found a reputable tattoo artist...  and recommend something, something intricate with lots of color..."


On what he's reading/recommending...

"So after he's been trapped in the 1800s for a year or so it becomes clear to him that he is the poet he studied before the time travel and was kidnapped..."

"You know, every time you read a good book, you tell me how it ends.  I'm going to start wandering the aisles before we meet (we have coffee in Barnes and Nobles) and pick out the worst drivel to recommend to you; something with a bare-chested man on it."


And the ever unintentional...

"So I was going through my storage unit and found the Snoopy toy Matt gave to me so many years ago..."

"How long ago that was!  Matt must have been only 5 or 6.  Are you moving stuff out of storage?"

"No, just pulling out junk for the garage sale..."



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Ride on the Mood Swing or "We don't tell people we're twins..."

You're not going to get this unless I establish right from the outset that there was no one in the bank, but me.  Well, ok, no one but me and the staff (is that what you call them?).  I stepped in and was surprised to see that tellers weren't even doing whatever it is that they are doing when you walk in and they look up at you and smile as if to say, "I am SO VERY busy, but you are SO VERY important that I will help you..."

I've had this same account for 15 years at Bank A.  It's a savings account and the account number starts with a "6".  (You're thinking that you don't need to know this, but you do.)  So about 11 years ago, Bank B bought Bank A.  Three years later Bank C bought Bank B, but kept the name of Bank B.  Only for all of this to be rolled up into Bank D.  Bank D is certainly no huge mega-bank, in fact, I'd be very surprised if they have offices outside of NJ.  

I know very little about Bank D, but I know this...  their Checking account numbers start with a "6".  

For several years now I've gotten blank stares from tellers who look at my savings withdrawal slip and then proceed to correct me and send me away for a checking account withdrawal slip...  (as a side note, I've found that a very creative way of withdrawing from my checking account is to write a check... not run to the bank, but maybe that's just me) that point, I have to correct them.

At the end of May I decided that I should walk (it's good exercise afterall) and so it was that I walked to the bank, which is a tad over a mile (one way).  I stepped in, filled out a slip and went to the line.  An older lady called me to her counter, picked up my slip, took one look at it and said, "Oh, that's one of those old savings account numbers isn't it?"

"Yes it is", I answered and smiled.

She could not have been nicer.

So June passed...  (I didn't really get around to walking in June because the weather was so lousy, as a replacement for that exercise I simply did nothing...  what a great feeling of accomplishment!)

...and today I went back into the bank...  (no I didn't walk - it's over a mile!!!)

I endorsed my Obama check (this is how I refer to a small Federal check that augments unemployment, the amount is so small I really do wonder why they've bothered - which makes me sound ungrateful, but I'm not - when it all runs out I'll be thankful for every last dime)

stepped up to the line (let me say again that I was the ONLY customer)

"Yeah?" asked the same older lady who was so very nice the last time.

"Hi", I responded handing her my endorsed check when I stepped up to her counter, "I just want to cash this, this is my ID."

She looked at my ID, slid it back to me like I had smeared it with pig snot (which I may just do next time)...  

type, type, type..  grumble, grumble...

type, type...


"You can't cash this here.  This is not one of our accounts."

"Oh, it's a savings account."

"No, Sweetie, savings accounts don't start with 6."  (Nothing so condescending as Sweetie, Darling or Honey said in the correct tone.)

I was so stunned that I didn't know what to say.  I looked around for Alan Funt, or is it Regis these days, but there didn't seem to be a hidden camera.

"It's a very old account."

She paused.

Now, just so you know...  I wasn't wearing a mask or a dress or my anti-senior citizen T-shirt, maybe I should have shaved, I don't know.

She punched the numbers into the system again, grunted and gave me my money.

How is it...

...not one part of the interchange made sense to me whatsoever.

As I took my money I did the only thing I knew how to do...

I winked.  I smiled.  I said, "Please tell your sister I said Hello..." I turned she gave me a puzzled look...

...I haven't seen her sister since that little girl from Kansas dropped a house on her...


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Stop in the Name of Sanity or "Fame rhymes with Shame, so be careful"

As I sat watching "Dance Your Ass Off" last night I was shocked to think that these people weren't terrified to be seen doing what they were doing.  Yes, I'll admit that I love the early stages of "American Idol" when they showcase the "talent-free" auditioners and that I've gotten to the point where I watch reality TV just to see contestants fact, the harder they cry, the harder I laugh - I just can't help myself.  

...but this is in a class all by itself...

If "Saturday Night Live" had cast their all-time best comedians to perform a sketch that poked fun at a scheme to combine "Biggest Loser" and "Dancing with the Stars" it wouldn't have come close to being as funny as this was...  it takes "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????" to a whole new level.

Sometimes our 15 minutes of fame just ain't worth it...

When I was in college two friends of mine convinced me to do a routine with them, in drag, for a talent show.  The whole idea was to dress up like Diana Ross and the Supremes and lip sync "Stop in the Name of Love" - I was to be Diana.  I knew that at 5'4, with my football player shoulders, I'd not really make a convincing woman, but, then as now, I really do enjoy making people laugh.  

We went downtown to a thrift shop, found a few bridesmaid dresses that had been donated (if you want to make a bridesmaid dress more hideous than it already is just put it on a man)...  Mine was a yellow chiffon number that had a drapey thing off the shoulder.  I figured I could fling the drape around for added laughs.

Flash forward to the night of the talent show...  We were the big surprise opening for Act II and even the other people in the show (you know, the "legit" bands, girls who wrote their own songs and the Biology Prof who always wanted to sing opera) didn't know we were going on... I'm waiting back stage, in a closet, in my yellow dress and horrible wig when the MC checks in on us and says to me, "You know, Diana Ross had great legs and always had a slit in her dress."

One of my cohorts grabs a pair of scissors, kneels beside me and starts snipping...  pulling, snipping, pulling, snipping...  

"You guys gotta go on..."

Onto the stage we go; my dress is all askew from having the slit cut into the side.  In the dark I'm trying to fix my dress as the MC announces the number which will hopefully perk-up an otherwise dud of a talent show.  Something doesn't feel right, but I'm not adept at dress wearing...  I think I'm good, but then, no, but, OK, but...

Up come the lights.
     (my back to the audience, I'm frozen in a pose)
The music starts.
    (this is bible college and I begin to question my decision - my knack for questioning decisions is always right on target, it's my timing I need to work on)
The Supremes start the number.
     "Stop in the name of love, before you break my heart..."
I convince myself that the dress is fine and the trouble is nerves.
    (Bum-bah-bah-Bum, Bum-bah-bah-Bum)
     "Baby, baby I'm aware of where you go, each time..."
Diana turns around to begin the first verse.  In the light I realize the problem is the slit; the "pulling and snipping" has cut the slit from my left side ankle, across my knee and up to my groin.  The audience laughs and cheers as I lip-sync, trying to pull the dress down and twist it so that my tightie-whities aren't on display...  but there's choreography...  and as I lift my arms the dress rights itself.  


I pull the dress down again and twist it trying to do the dance moves with just my hands - having my elbows firmly planted against my sides.  This does NOT help, I'm just too wide for the dress and any movement causes it to ride up like a tube top on a hoochie-momma...  I twist, reaching over my shoulder for the drapy thing (that is somehow behind me), but this only makes matter worse as I shift in the dress.  The audience cheers when I realize the drape is on the OTHER shoulder and grab it to cover my (not-so) privates...

Eventually, the guys in the dorm quit calling me "white tornado", thankfully the photos were deemed "inappropriate" for the Year Book (this was Bible College afterall), 

but there was this little chinese man with whom I never spoke, who I never met, who never ever said anything to me, but who would burst into laughter at the sight of me the whole time I was in college...

My hope for you is that, when you look back on the 15 minutes of fame in your life, you don't wish you had just stayed in bed...