Saturday, April 30, 2011

Where Are My Bell Bottoms? Cause I'm in the 70's

Even when I set my sights on playing a game of minesweeper in fewer than 80 seconds I didn't think it was really possible. Everything has to go just right to get a game in the mid 80's so you really have to get a good draw to break the 80 barrier. Never the less, that's what happened to me earlier this week.

It was late on Tuesday night and I was sitting by the computer listening to the pregame coverage of the Geelong Cats game vs Hawthorne. Since the bastards at ESPN3 didn't make this game available in video form on line, I had to settle for the radio broadcast on K-Rock out of Geelong. And since there was nothing for me to see, I decided to play a little minesweeper while I listened.

So, I set another Kate Upton pic as my backdrop and I started clicking away. I played a few good games, including one at 88 seconds, but since I was listing to the pregame I wasn't paying full attention. Then I got a really good start on a game and decided to tune Cam Mooney out for a second while I tried for a personal best score. The result is this 79 which represents the best I ever did in either minesweeper or solitaire. Plus, the Cats won, so it was good news all around.

Friday, April 29, 2011

XL is 35!

Christ we are getting old. But, to be fair, XL is getting older faster than I am. Today is his 35th birthday and tomorrow he's coming to York to celebrate it. We've got a nice little Saturday planned. We're going to Home Depot to pick out some wall paper, then maybe we'll hit Big Lou's for some BBQ. I don't know. I don't know if we'll have enough time.

In all seriousness, I don't know what we're going to do to celebrate this momentous occasion in XL's life. We are just as likely to drive to Cincinnati to see a Reds game and have some skyline chili as we are to go to the batting cages here in York. That's what makes it fun for us, the not knowing. Either way I'm sure we'll have a blast and eat food that is very bad for us. It's what we do. It's kind of our thing.

Let's all take this time to sing Taco's Birthday Song to XL and wish him a happy 35th.
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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Following the Example

Yesterday the President of this land finally gave up and showed all the fuckwits out there is birth certificate. I can't believe we've come to this, but, here we are. I have no idea what people think happened 50 years ago but I guess it goes something like this: Black man and white woman want to take over the USA. So they have an interracial baby (Because that was all the rage in the early 60's, which were basically the 50's for all intents and purposes) in Kenya. They think ahead and call two newspapers in Hawaii and place birth announcements in the paper so in a few decades their offspring can rise up and turn all the Christian NASCAR lovin' folk into dirty Muslims and queers.

People are WAY stupid these days. I know how hard it is to be half black and half white in modern America. Even though I am a panda teddy bear, I have felt the scorn of those around me. God forbid I even think of going out in public on a date with a stuffed polar bear and I might get strung up. It all comes down to a lack of respect, trust and empathy.

People out there have it tough, and so they think that other people couldn't have it as tough as them. They think that everyone else is juking the system and they are the only ones who have a hard time in life. They can't possibly consider how hard it is to be truly different in this ever homogenizing world and as a result they become even more suspicious of anyone who doesn't buy in to their idea of what it means to be an American.

In the past, people have questioned me too. I'm a stuffed panda. I'm of Chinese decent. I'm not what they think of as real American. Well I got news for all the daughter kissing tea baggers out there. Like George Washington and Hulk Hogan before me: I am a real American, my birth certificate says so.

Read it and weep bitches!
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In the Neighborhood: Lebanon, PA



It's not often that someone makes a movie set in and around my hood, so I thought I'd point this one out. It's called "Lebanon, PA" and is set in that tiny town famous for its bologna. Not since Witness and Kingpin have movie cameras come to Central Pennsylvania, so this is kind of a big deal for folks around here. I guess. Who knows at this point. I just thought I would point it out and maybe if I have a few hours to spare I'll go out and check it out.

If you'd like to as well you can check out the movie's web site.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

When I was 14 my sister took me down to the pizza parlor she worked at and told them I would make a great mop up boy/dishwasher. After they talked to me for a while they told me they'd call and let me know. Two days later I was sitting in the family dining room literally staring at the phone, waiting for it to ring. My mother walked in and said something like "you know staring at that thing won't make it ring you know" at which moment it did in fact ring. Not only did that moment prove to me, yet again, that parents don't always know what they are talking about, it was also my first experience with waiting by the phone for something I wanted.

A few years later, when I was in college, it was a summer job working in a factory that I was waiting to hear about. More time spent sitting by the phone waiting to hear back and more "a watched pot never boils" wisdom from Mom and Dad. Now, even all these years and jobs later, I still can't stand the waiting. It kills me, in fact.

I had a interview on Friday for a job that, if I'm being honest, I wouldn't have wanted very much a year ago. The guy told me that he'd call me the next day, which of course was Saturday so I wasn't worried that I didn't hear from him despite the fact that I knew he was working. It was Saturday after all. So I figured it would come Monday but the day came and went with no call.

Try as I might I couldn't get the phone to ring by staring it down like I could twenty years ago.

Maybe this guy subscribes to the three days rule like we're dating or something. Maybe it's not a priority to the people who are doing the hiring even though it can be of the utmost importance to the job seeker. Maybe I'm finally getting yanged for tall the good luck Yig I used to have. Who knows?

I'm just dreading another day of staring at the phone waiting for it to ring so I can get excited about getting a job that still represents the huge failuer of my entire adult life.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Stuck in the 80's

After last week's amazing triumph of getting to 81 seconds I was sure that I was going to bust into the 70's this week. Alas, the best I could do was a tie with my personal best yet again. How could I not do better to honor the death and Resurrection of such a cherished deity. I'm speaking, of course, about Lindsay Lohan who was kicked off a movie this week only to rise again and be cast in a different role.

For this particular game I decided to go with yet another leading lady as my back drop. I opted for Kate Upton, who is arguably the next big thing in hardly dressed modeling. She should end up on the cover of the SI Swimsuit Issue around '13 or '14. For music I was bopping to the thing I'm most thankful for this week, namely the Paul Kelly Tribute Record "Before Too Long" which is finally available on iTunes. Now I just need to make my way into the 70's and all will be right with the world. Oh yeah, and I need to get a job too. Can't forget about that.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Song Spotlight: Hayes Carll "KMAG YO YO"



Here's an early contender for my favorite song of the year. I love the toe tapping country feel to the song, but I also dig the irreverent lyrics that tell an amusing little story set in a positively un-amusing time and place. Carll is best known for his 2008 hit "She Left Me For Jesus" which is decidedly more country but also very funny. Witness the lines "If I ever find Jesus, I'm kicking his ass" and "I bet he's a commie, or even worse yet: a Jew."

His newest effort is even better, since it's less camp and a bit more good ole country. Plus, there's less of a chance that he'll get stoned by a right wing fundamentalist over this one. That doesn't mean its not good though!

Well, daddy joined the Air Force
Said, it was a good source
Danger, love, and money, but it
only led to divorce

Ended up in Abilene
Working at a Dairy Queen
Put me in the Army on the
day that I turned seventeen

Here I am standin’ in the
desert with a gun
Thought of going AWOL but I’m
too afraid to run

So I got myself a new plan
Stealin’ from the Taliban
Make a little money turning
poppies into heroin

Sergeant didn’t like it so they
put me in a hole
I said, “It’s easy shootin’ when they
don’t know where to go.”

Threw me on a lily pad
Sent me home to NORAD.
I knew I’d be in trouble but I
didn’t think it be this bad.

Stranger wearin’ all black
Met me on the tarmac
Told him I was sorry but
I ain’t ever going back

He said, you ain’t in trouble son
Learn to fight without a gun
Got a new assignment now, you’re
working for the Pentagon

Gonna take a trip, wouldn’t
tell me what it’s for
Gotta serve your country, gonna
help us win the war

MIT, Ph.D.’s,
night and day, they’re testing me
Ain’t what I was thinking but I’m
being all that I can be

I ain’t no genius but I
knew it wasn’t right
Eating uppers in the morning
and LSD at night

Send me off to deep space
Help ‘em win the arms race
Ola me, oh mighty, but this
shit has got a funny taste.

I think I hear the countdown
Hundred feet above the ground
Told me when I’m leavin’ but
a’nothing ‘bout a’coming down

Sittin’ on a bad dream
Thousand pounds of gasoline
Ain’t leavin’ nothing but some
rubble and my slipstream

Mama always said, I should be
aimin’ for the moon
Never would’ve guessed that I’d be
passin’ by soon

How the hell’d I get here?
Blastin’ through the atmosphere
Drop the rocket boosters and I’m
shiftin’ into high gear.

Bowie on the system and a
bottle on my knee
Armstrong ain’t got nothing on me

Hey ho, here we go
KMAG YOYO
Someone wanna get me, gotta
come up where the sun don’t go.

I think I see a bright light
Something ‘bout it ain’t right
I laid down in a space ship
Woke up in a fire-fight

Trippin’ from the morphine
Came down in a bad scene
God, don’t let me die here,
I ain’t even 19

I won’t ever ask you, Lord for
anything again
I’ll swear it on the Bible,
Torah or Koran

Lyin’ in a rhino track
‘Bout to have a heart attack
IED got to me,
someone call the Medevac

I need some fixin’ after
where it is I’ve been
Never wanna go and try and
shoot a gun again

Slippin’ out the back door
Gonna join the Peace Corps
Tell me, I’m a hero now, so
Someone else can fight this war.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

And Greazy Says I Need Work Done?

I'm going to try and make this short because I'm not exactly overflowing with self confidence these days, and I see no reason to wallow. Everyone knows how much I hate that bitch Winnie T. Pooh. Our beef goes back a ways, and I think it's fair to say there is some jealousy on my part involved in this whole thing.

Every day that passes he gets more and more famous, with the love of kids world wide and his picture everywhere. Well, not his actual picture. It's like saying that a picture of the Genie from Aladdin is a picture of Robin Williams. The photos you're used to seeing of Pooh are, of course, his cartoon likeness. The nappy sad sack you see above is the REAL Pooh. Not so lovable now is he? He looks sadder than Misery Bear and that's saying something because he looks as sad as Jim Breuer looks stoned.

It just goes to show you how unfair the world is. I'm a mature bear in need a of a bit of needle and thread work but I'm seen as old and ugly by most who meet me. Pooh is older and in WAY worse shape and he gets a fucking display in the New York Public Library.

Bull shit, man. Bull fucking shit.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What Ever Happened To A Plain Old Pair o' D's?

In what can only be called a complete 180 from yesterday's post, today I'm talking about porn. More specifically: Porn parodies. I hear you asking "Greazy, what is a porn parody" well I'll tell you. It's when you take a popular TV show or movie, like CBS's Big Bang Theory, and fill it with fucking. In the completely suitable for work trailer for The XXX Big Bang Theory (see it here) you see that the characters and settings all remain the same. The only difference is we get to see Sheldon toss Penny's salad... or something like that.

I wouldn't know, because I like my porn like I like my Habitat for Humanity projects: with nothing but screwing and nailing. And anal. Lots and lots of anal. I've never seen a porno with a storyline that I have ever found compelling weather it had totally original characters or ones stolen from someone else's intellectual property. The acting just isn't good enough to add anything sexual to the proceedings. And if there is going to be talking and story arcs in a porn I only want it if it is going to arouse me by letting me into the mind of the participants. Otherwise, the sex is all I need.

If I want comedy and a wank then I'll watch an episode of Big Bang Theory and then get on YouPorn or pop a DVD in. There is no reason to combine the two. Especially when you realize how unfunny these supposed wacky and zany pornos are. It all adds up to a whole lot of fast forwarding or hitting of the next track button to see the XXX action. Only, when you get to it the people banging all have awful costumes on that really distract from the stated purpose of porn: watching people do the nasty.

I know that I may be on the outside looking in on this phenomenon. God knows there are a million of these stories in the "Fan Fiction" world of written erotica. Want to know what it would be like if Kelly and Ryan from "The Office" seduced Erin? Just bop on over to Literotica.com and you can read all about it. If that's not your speed you can read a phone sex conversation between Lost's Jack and Kate. The list goes on and on including some really out there shit.

Anyone who knows me will say that I am no prude. If this is how people like to get off then that's great. Mazel Tov. Stroke in peace. It just seems like a whole lot of artifice to me. The erotica, at the very least, can be well done from time to time. The written word and a voluminous knowledge of the characters and storyline can allow for a fantasy within a well known fictional universe. Think of a Trekkie writing a story about Picard and Riker running the train on Counselor Troi. It's not my thing, but I get it because you, as the end user, can take the words and apply them to characters you know and conceptualize the fantasy in your own head.

The same can't be said about the movies, in this porn aficionado's humble opinion. Even if I really wanted to see Hawkeye pound Hot Lips(which I don't, I should mention in full disclosure) the actors and sets in the MASH spoof would distract me from any enjoyment what so ever. Not to mention that no movie will ever be able to compete with my sick, twisted brain. You can make the House parody all you want, but whoever you get to play Thirteen won't be an iota as hot as Olivia Wilde and so, for me at least, the moment will be lost.

That's just not how I get down.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Movie Review: The Conspirator

In the interest of full disclosure I should mention that I had particular motivation to see Robert Redford's new movie about the trial of Mary Surratt. She is my Great Aunt to the 5th power. As a kid my mother told us stories of the Jenkins family and our ties to Surratt. She reinforced in us the idea that Mary was railroaded by a government desperate to heal the wounds of the Civil War and as such she became a kind of martyr to our Nation when she was hung.

So, sufficed to say, I went into the movie with one side of the story well covered. I was happy to find that sides weren't really played out in the film, as it were. With out a doubt the film shows how Mary was denied due process owed to any citizen accused of a crime by their government. I'd also go so far as to say that the way the story unfolds would tend to point a person who came in without an opinion on Mary's guilt or innocence purely toward the innocent side of the ledger. But, it wasn't in anyway heavy handed in its portrayal.

The movie is visually stunning and superbly acted by just about everyone who appeared in it. And there were so many recognizable faces in this movie from Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Kevin Kline and Tom Wilkinson on the very well known side to Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood and Alexis Bledel on the up and coming front. Plus, there were a host of 'hey, it's that guy' actors in the movie like Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien from Star Trek), Danny Huston (Sam Adams in the HBO mini John Adams) and my favorite Jim True-Frost (Pryzbylewski from the Wire).

The movie tells a story that is complex and fraught with ethical and patriotic questions that were everywhere during Reconstruction. It serves as a wonderful piece of art in that it casts a light on a historical event without being heavy handed. It also provokes thought about the very nature of our society and how strongly we believe the things we say we believe.
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Monday, April 18, 2011

To Titletown and Back!

One of the absolute worst things about my career interregnum has been the lack of trips. Even though Inky and I have made a few short jaunts to Philly and NYC for her readings, for the most part we've been stationary for the whole time. That's why I jumped at the chance to do a two thousand mile round trip into the vast frozen wasteland that is the American Mid-west just a few months ago.

It was the night of the Super Bowl and I had been texting with a good friend of mine who is a huge Packer-backer. Brandon loves Green Bay as much as I love the Skins and O's and it could be argued that he loves them more since he named his kid after one of the players. As things started to look good for the Pack he texted me that he was leaving first thing in the morning for Green Bay so he could be there for the celebration on Tuesday. I told him that if he needed someone to tag along to keep him company I would jump at the chance. The next thing I know Inky was dropping me off at 6 AM so he and I could head out.

He explained to me that he had mapped the whole trip out when the Packers had contended for the Super Bowl but came up short a few years ago. Our first task was to drive all the way to Cleveland without stopping so we could make it to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in time for the noon showing of the U2 3D show. Sadly, we got a bit lost and so we had to catch the next performance. So we parked near Jacobs Field and had lunch in a sports bar on E. 9th St. while we waited for the show.

After U2 we hit the road again and we were determined to make it all the way to Green Bay before the night was out. We stopped in South Bend for dinner and lucked into a great little Irish Pub (when in Rome, right?) called Fiddler's Hearth where I had one hell of a steak sandwich.

After eating we braved our way through snow flurries in Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin but we were pot committed. I had called XL and asked him to check the hotel situation in Green Bay and we found out that rooms were scarce, so we booked one of the last ones on the drive. At about 2 AM we hauled our tired asses into the hotel room for some sleep. What follows is a photo essay of the rest of the trip with some commentary.

I thought it was cold when I went to Chicago back in '08 when it was 5 degrees out. But that was child's play compared to what 5 degrees feels like in Green Bay. As psyched as I was to finally lay my eyes on the football Cathedral that is Lambeau I was worried that my eyes would freeze.

We went to the Packers Hall of Fame and Museum to see the exhibits (like this hands on one, look at that perfect three point stance bitches!) but also to warm up and avoid losing a limb.

Since both Brandon and I are nothing more than big children we had to take time to enjoy all the hands on exhibits. This is a full scale mock up of Vince Lombardi's office and I had to take a load off in the big man's chair for bit.

Next up on my childlike romp through the museum was this display where I took my shot at a Lambeau Leap. It was nice of Brandon to take this shot in such a way that makes it seem like I might actually be leaping. Of course my left foot is firmly on the ground.

In all seriousness, anyone who considers themselves a football fan has to make the trip to Lambeau. I might suggest doing so for late September game to avoid frostbite but it is a must on the "sports things to do before I die" list.

After our tour and shopping in the team store we had some time to kill before the ceremony started. So we went to Brett Favre's steak house, which was right across from our hotel. I got another steak sandwich, which was awesome, but I couldn't pass up this chance to take a picture of Brett's meat. I was not wearing Crocs.

When we got to the ceremony we saw this guy out front. I couldn't decide if he was: A) Drunk B) A sex offender C) Crazy or D) All of the above.

I think my previous cold weather experience in Chicago did me a disservice. I brought all the same cold weather gear I had on that trip since they had done a great job of keeping me warm. They did next to nothing in the Wisconsin cold and by half way through the celebration I was thinking about cutting Brandon open Ton-Ton style.

It was really cool to be there with all those Packers fans who were just so excited to be a part of their team's win. When the Cats won in '07 and '09 Inky and I didn't have anyone to celebrate with like this, and God knows I have no hope of going to DC or Baltimore for a parade any time soon.

After the big party we braved the traffic and made our way South. We stopped for dinner at a place called Spokes outside Milwaukee that had a special on hot dogs and sausages. Since my diet was already screwed I got a Chicago style, a polish and a cup of chili. I'm sure you've guessed this already, but there was a whole lot of gas in that car. And I'm not talking about the tank.

After dinner we made it as far as South Bend before we had to stop and get a hotel. In the morning we went over to the UND campus and saw the Golden Dome, Touchdown Jesus and the Football stadium. It was still very cold out and, judging by the face I'm making in this picture, I may have still had a bit of that gas I was talking about.

After Notre Dame we grabbed some lunch and then pointed east till we ended up back in Central PA. All told it was 2,000 miles in 62 hours with next to no sleep. What little sleep I did get the first night in Green Bay came in the bathtub because Brandon snored so loud I could block it out. I found some respite by taking all my bedding into the tub, but I could still hear him. I got about two hours and spent much of that Tuesday in a daze. When we got to South Bend on Tuesday night nothing short of physical abuse was going to keep me from sleeping. I got about 7 hours before we headed out for the campus and then the trip home.

Once I'm back at work I hope to plan another trip real soon. It's one of the things I love the most in this world and I always feel more alive when I'm on the road with Inky or XL. Fingers crossed it will happen real soon.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Just Call Me REO Speedwagon...

...because I'm rocking in the early 80's. Next up: the 70's? Who knows. All I know for sure is that I spent a little time mine sweeping on a rainy Saturday and I ended up with another career best time. Sure, it's only one second better than my previous high water mark, but the important thing is that it's forward movement.

As I said last week I decided to ditch Kelly Brook for a bit as my background inspiration. So I opted for the lovely Elle Basey as my background for Saturday's games and she brought me a great result. I also have to tip my cap to Paul Kelly for having so many amazing songs. I was rolling through my Paul Kelly playlist on iTunes while playing and he always keeps the great tunes coming.

Now that I have a faster time in minesweeper than I ever had in solitaire I don't know where to go from here. I'll keep at it for a while while I hope to play that mythical one minute game, but I may be tapped out.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Washed Away

Earlier this week I was all ready to do some yard work but then the rains came. Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty much washed out by those damn April showers. I, for one, couldn't care less if we didn't get any May flowers, thank you very much.

So Inky and I spent Thursday afternoon out in our front yard pulling up thousands of rocks that I laid between our driveway and our neighbors driveway less than three years ago. They did the job well for the first year, but then we started to get weeds growing on top of the black plastic weed-block which kind of defeats the purpose of putting that stuff down.

Add to that the fact that all manner of garbage and leaves ended up trundling down the hill and getting caught in there and we had a situation that needed another solution. So, Inky and I pulled up all the rocks and removed the black plastic in order to put down some grass seed. We figure it won't matter if some weeds grow in there with the grass because when the people come to do the landscaping they'll just weed-wack the lot of it and we'll be square.

So for a few hours on both Thursday and Friday we worked at our task and by last evening it was all done. Just in time for today's torrent of rain. Fuck! We'll see how it turns out, but it's supposed to rain for something like 998 of the next 1000 days so I may be buying some more grass seed at some point.

In the meantime I'll just sit here and listen to Paul Kelly sing "Midnight Rain" on my foul weather playlist and hope for sunnier days.
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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Book It!

I know most people think of me as nothing more than a rag or a sock. I get it. I'm not what you would call a conventional blogger, but I can't try to be more than I am. I'm just plain old Theodore.

My plain and unassuming appearance belies a life of experience. I turned 34 last week to very little fanfare from Greazy and Inky. Sure, they commented on my FaceBook page but that's really the least bit of acknowledgement you can pay someone on their birthday these days. But I'm getting away from the point, which is: I've seen some stuff in my life.

I think I've led a unique life. And as such, I want to write a book. Sure the blogging is fun and all, but really I'm only doing it to help Greazy out. I'll open up a bit here, but what I really want to do is spill my stuffing out on to the page. I have deep emotional scars to go along with the real life scars that mar my once beautiful visage.

I ran with a fast crowd in New York City in the 80's. I got into drugs, organized crime and stuffed animal prostitution. I carried on a three year affair with Mama Berenstain; a transgression made all the worse because Papa was my attorney and long time confidant and golfing buddy. I made a ton of money short selling the market in '87 only to lose most of it at card tables, including one night where I lost 250 grand to Teddy Ruxpin.

That was only Act 1 of my story, however. By the early 90's Greazy was off to the Seminary and I found myself on more solid footing as well. I landed a gig as consultant and executive director of the shot lived Hanna Barbera series "The Adventures of Don Coyote and Sancho Panda" which was my first experience with story telling. When that ended I spent some time riding the Amtrak from Central Jersey down to D.C. to serve as a translator for the Giant Pandas at the National Zoo. After that came college, which I undertook at the same time Greazy did, but at a different school in the same town.

During my time in D.C. I got involved in an on going card game with a group of shady and really intense guys. I forgot all about them for a few years until we moved to the Baltimore area. One day when Greazy and Inky were both at work these men came to our apartment and talked me into going to work for a government agency that I can't name. Sufficed to say, I traveled a whole lot and my ability to speak, read and write Chinese came in handy.

The last decade or so has been a time of leisure for me, and during that time I have started to gather the material that will make up my memoirs. Greazy says I'm like the Forest Gump of the teddy bear community, and I don't know if that is an insult or a complement. Either way, that movie made a fuck ton of money so I'm thinking there might be a market for all my stories. Even the one about Ralph Jr. cutting my nose off.
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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chef Greazy Recommends: Tuna Wrap

Last week I blogged about my weight loss odyssey which has been a two pronged assault. By getting my ass to the gym at least six days a week and cutting back on what I eat I've been able to get myself to a point where I feel pretty fit. I'm not done losing weight, but I don't feel as awful as I once did.

A big change for me has come at lunch time. At most of the jobs I have had since college I have gone out for lunch just about every day. The average calorie count on those meals with soda included must have been well into the four figure territory. It's no wonder I packed on the pounds. Then, when my career interregnum started I was eating some pretty crappy stuff at lunch, and while I was paying less to eat it at home, I was still racking up the calories.

Now, I'm really trying to cut back on the over all calories I eat and also trying to make them count more. One thing I've added to my lunch time repertoire is a really great tuna wrap. I make it using Chobani plain 2% greek yogurt in the place of the mayo which really cuts down on the fat. I mix one can of tuna with the whole container of yogurt and three ribs of celery, chopped. That mixture adds up to 290 calories but I get three meals out of it with each coming in at less than 100. I eat it on a wrap that is normally about 100 to 150 calories and I stuff it with baby spinach which adds on another 20 or so calories.

If you need a bit more flavor than the yogurt provides you can add a tablespoon of mayo to the wrap before putting the ingredients together. I don't always do this but when I do I opt for the canola mayo which ads another 45 calories. All told this wrap will end up at between 275 and 300 calories which when paired with a piece of fresh fruit and a very small serving of chips will provide a satisfying lunch.

Bon appetit.
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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Last Great American Rock Band?

Last night Inky and I watched the documentary "Back and Forth" about the Foo Fighters. First things first, I love a good Rock-doc and this one was very good. You don't necessarily have to like the band to like the movie, but you don't have to love them either. I just find the life of a band, with all its infighting, drug use and comings and goings, to be very fertile ground for a compelling story. And when the subject is one of your favorite bands, it makes for a very enjoyable couple of hours.

The Foo's are a band that was born and took it's first fledgling steps toward a long and accomplished career completely on my watch. Other bands have come and gone since they formed when I was in college but few if any have enjoyed the staying power of Dave and the boys. I think enjoyed is the most important word in that sentence because it has always been obvious to anyone watching that Dave Grohl likes being a rock star. Sadly for many of my friends in high school, one of his old band mates didn't have the same disposition and ended up eating the business end of a shotgun seventeen years ago.

So Dave had to come out from behind the drums and front his own band, and I think rock music is better off for it. They might not have U2's status as a band crusading to make the world a better place but they have all the chops of an all time great. Watching the doc you realize just how many great songs they have churned out over the last sixteen years. When they burst on the scene there were other "big bands" but that is a phenomenon that is sadly lacking in our world today. The big acts are all solo, R&B, Rap or pop and the music industry is worse for it.

Sure, there are great little rock bands that have taken advantage of the changes in the process of recording and disseminating music. Many of them are great in their own right, but the very mechanism that allows them to reach a small audience with less record company guidance also tends to keep them tethered to that same small audience. In an iTunes world it has become far more important for the big acts to strike quickly with as many cross-promotions and ad placements as possible. Rock bands make records, Lady Gaga makes a collection of ring tone ready singles.

Thank god the Foo's keep doing it and today they release their seventh album: "Wasting Light" to a world that really needs to be rocked. I've got my fingers crossed that it is just what the doctor ordered.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

A Weak Week

I really thought I was going to have a game in the 70's to post this week, but no such luck. Inky and I spent some time on the road so I wasn't able to really jump into my mine sweeping the way I'd like. I know that sounds like an excuse but it's the truth. It is my solemn vow to do better this week.

This 86 second game came with my "Top 25 Liz Phair Songs" playlist going and yet another wonderful picture of Ms. Kelly Brook on the desktop. With word going around that Kelly is now with child I've been thinking about picking a new lady to help spur me on to minesweeper greatness. I re-watched "Love and Other Drugs" last week and that led me to consider Anne Hathaway for the post. We shall see.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Must Watch: Geelong v Port Adelaide on ESPN 2

Anyone who reads my blog knows I am a huge fan of the Geelong Cats of the Australian Football League. A few years back Inky and I signed up DirecTv just so we could pay an extra fifteen bucks a month to watch the Cats play. Sadly, the network that carried the AFL, Setanta, went bankrupt and so the rights to broadcast the games were picked up by ESPN. Back in the 80's, when no American sport league would go anywhere near ESPN, they did have the rights to broadcast Aussie Rules.

Now, they are too big for their britches and when they got the rights they promptly buried the games on their on-line only channel: ESPN 3. But, a few times a year they pop an Aussie Rules game on cable for everyone to enjoy. Tonight is one of those nights as the Cats of Geelong will meet the Port Adelaide Power in a game that is a rematch of the 2007 title game. Since then the two teams have gone in vastly different directions. Geelong won another title in '09 and played for the title and lost in '08. Port have fallen on tough times and became a bit of a doormat over the last three years.

The game starts just past midnight tonight, and if you have some time and access to ESPN 2 I highly recommend you check out a few minutes. It is fast paced and full of exciting play. It takes a little time to pick up the rules, but even to the novice it is enjoyable. And as Inky will tell all the ladies out there, the boys do look quite good in their jumpers and shorts. Just sayin'.
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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Small Bear in a Big City

As part of Greazy's ongoing "What we missed on the blog from 2010" series I thought I'd recount one of my best days of last year. Inky had a reading to do in New York and so she and Greazy were planning to spend the day in the city. After I begged and begged Greazy finally agreed to bring me along, which he hasn't done for a long time. I missed out on both of their trips to Oz and countless other business and personal trips over the last few years. So I wasn't taking this opportunity lightly, since it might be the last time I get out for a while.

We started the day off at Arthur's Tavern, which as Greazy said last week is one of his favorite places in Hoboken NJ. After riding the PATH train to the City we walked around a few stores and then got a milkshake at Shake Shack on 8th, across from the Flat Iron Building. Then we did some walking around the Lower East Side before stopping into Teany on Rivington St for some pre-reading Tea to sooth the vocal chords.

Not that Inky needed it by any stretch. She rocked her reading at Happy Endings on Broome and Greazy and I were both so proud of her. To celebrate another successful outing by Inky, we had dinner at Katz's which has always been a favorite destination in our family even before "When Harry Met Sally."

At that point it was late so we jumped the PATH back to the Boken and made our way home. It was nice to be in the city again after so many years away. Back in the 80's when Greazy was really young I used to hitch hike in his dad's briefcase to his office on Church Street down in the financial district. I had a nickle a day coke habit back then, and I spent more than my fair share of time down in Chinatown finding company in the soulless eyes of some of the stuffed ho's that were around in those days.

Then, thanks to some intervention from some of my friends (r.i.p. Racky) I got clean. When Greazy hit his mid to late teens and started sneaking into the city to get drunk with his buddies I always stayed behind. I knew he ultimately wouldn't find what he was looking during those crazy booze filled NYC nights. But, I also knew that I couldn't tell him that. He had to find it out for himself.

It's nice that all these years later we can both head back into the city that never sleeps and enjoy it for what it is and not face those old demons.
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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I'm Half the Man I Used to Be.

OK. Not quite half, but I'm working on it. I don't know just how I let it happen, but sometime between college and when my career interregnum started I ballooned to about 280 pounds. You'd think as a guy who has a family history of men dying of massive heart attacks well before they hit 60 that I would have paid more attention to my weight when my dad had one 8 1/2 years ago. But, I didn't. Through much of the past decade, which encompassed my mid 20's to my early 30's I was right around 270 to the 280's. I could try and blame it on the sedentary office jobs I've had for much of the time since I graduated from college, but that would be excuse making.

I was lazy, and so I got fatter.

That's the long and short of it in my case. I am a person who is prone to weight gain and I did nothing to combat it during the time in my life when it would have been easiest to do. I ate the wrong things and far too much of them to boot. I got next to no exercise other than walking to and from my car or office. As I got bigger I went out and bought new clothes rather than just getting a gym membership. And it's nobodies fault but mine.

Likewise, no one could do the work for me to get the situation back under control. Not that Inky and XL haven't been a huge crutch for me to lean on during the process, because they totally have been. But in the end I had to do the work alone, just as they have had to do their on their own. The funny part for me is that the work isn't the hardest part. Once I'm at the gym I work very hard, but sometimes it's getting to the gym that can be hard. When I'm sore or tired it can be hard to put my workout kit on and make the drive to the gym.

Tomorrow marks six months since I signed up for my gym membership. But the work started before that including really cutting back on the junk I eat. Part of being unemployed is not having the money to just blow on crap you don't need, and that is more true at the supermarket than anywhere. So Inky and I have been eating a whole lot better over the last year and a half which went along way to kick starting things.

Of course any weight loss has to be a combination of cutting back on calories in while also focusing more on calories burned. In the beginning I just went out for long walks whenever the weather allowed, but the progress was slow. From a high water mark of 284 at the time I was laid off I had gotten down to 261.5 when I started at the gym on October 7th of last year. So in 15 months I had dropped 22.5 pounds or about a third of a pound a week.

Then I started going to the gym about 6 days every week. I got a great deal at Planet Fitness where it cost me nothing to sign up and then only ten bucks a month there after. So that's 26 weeks for $60 and for that investment I have gotten myself down to 235.5 representing a 26 pound loss. That's a pound a week for half a year thanks to a whole lot of sweet.

I'm not quite done, but I have to at least pause and reflect on how far I've come. While I'm happy to look a little better, and I also enjoy putting on my much smaller jeans and tee shirts, the real benefit is how much better I feel. I'd like to think I can keep up this pace till October of this year which would see me lose 26 more pounds. I know my "ideal weight" is probably less than 200 pounds, but if I can get below 210 I think I might even buy a few more years for my self. And that's what it's all about for me. A longer, better life to spend with my friends, family and most importantly: the best wife in the world.
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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

We Couldn't Have Picked a Better Day

Yesterday XL and I were treated to the rarest of all occasions: a perfect day. It's not that everything went right during the day. Far from it. We didn't find any parking where we thought we would and we didn't get to eat where we had initially planed to. In the end, however, none of that mattered. It's hard to be glum on opening day even when it's raining or snowing, both of which XL and I have dealt with. What greeted us when we arrived in Charm City yesterday was one of those perfect weather days, with temperatures in the high 70's and hardly a cloud in the sky. So we were off to a good start.

Then, we made our way down to South Howard Street, between the Baltimore Convention Center and the new Hilton. That is where the vendors who push various food on ballpark patrons have been relocated thanks to the construction of the aforementioned Hilton. We had some cheep, but delicious food including burgers, Italian and Polish sausage and even a half-smoke. After getting some cheep bottles of water and bags of nuts (huh huh huh) to take into the ballpark we crossed step two off of the perfect day checklist.

The last part was mostly out of our hands. We took our seats behind the O's dugout and waited for the pregame festivities to end. At that point it was all up to the Orioles to bring our perfect day home. And bring it home they did. The game had a bit of everything in the form of pitching, defence and the three run homer, made all the more poignant with Earl Weaver in town to throw out the first pitch. When it was all said and done the O's had a 5-1 win over Detroit and they improved to 4-0 on the young season. You can't ask for much more...

I didn't ask for it, but I did get more. Among the fantastic upgrades to the now 20 year old stadium over the last few seasons, the O's put a fancy new video board in center field a few years back. On this board they have a spot reserved for the "K count" like a lot of other ballparks have to count the strike outs for the home pitchers. When Jake Arrieta got his first two strike outs the board read "K K" as both were of the swinging variety. That is when I heard the loud, dumb ass rednecks behind us start talking about how funny it would be when the next player struck out so the board would say KKK.

Only the next strike out was of the called third strike variety meaning the next K that went up was backwards. Anyone who has ever been taught how to score a game by their father knows that a caught looking is scored with a backwards K. Hell, just about anyone who has ever watched baseball knows that. But the ring leader of this group of hicks obviously didn't know this. Although listening to him talk throughout the game it was apparently the only thing in the world he didn't know. He kept telling his buddies that the reason they put the K up backwards was so it wouldn't say KKK and offend the black folks (my words not his) in the crowd.

Since the third strike happened early on in the game XL and I had to hear this fuckwit say this over and over again, interspersed between his thoughts on missing Sean Hannity to be at the game, NASCAR, beer, money and most importantly: how awesome Captain Morgan's is. In the 9th inning the subject of the K's came up again when one of the more intelligent (but less drunk/loud) hicks said that he didn't think head-hick was right about the K's. At that point I had enough and turned around and said something like this: "Dude! The backwards K is for struck out looking. You're killing me with this shit. It's un-American that you don't know that. You've fucking killing me."

Just the exclamation point on an already perfect day.
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Monday, April 04, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal

I am a looooooong suffering sports fan... in America that is. If I didn't have the Geelong Cats to support down under I wouldn't have a winning card to play in my sports fan deck. My alma mater doesn't have a football team, and while the basketball team made the final four a few years back they A) got the shit kicked out of them by the eventual champs, and B) are DIII anyway so it's not like crowing about a win would have done much for me in the eyes of most sports fans. I've always rooted for the University of Maryland and they won a title with in the last decade in both men's and women's hoops, but I didn't go to school there so that feels like an empty victory.

In the realm of pro sports I have the two teams I have followed for most of my life. The Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles. Both are owned owners with among the worst reputations in sports. Both have been terribly mismanaged over the last ten to fifteen years and as such have become a punching bag for the sports world. What's worse is the time in which they chose to suck. After being models of consistency and winning 3 titles each in their own heydays (the 60's, 70's and 80's for the O' and the 80's and early 90's for the Skins) they both went down the hill just in time for the dawn of on-line punditry. They are poked and prodded and laughed at time and time again.

None of this is my fault, mind you, but it still pisses me off. That said, I can't just up and change teams. I was there for the good times, like 1983 when both teams were simultaneously champs of their respective leagues, so likewise I have to be here for the bad. We do this hoping that the good times will come again through a renewal process much like spring following the winter.

But, it's been a long winter.

Not that all hope is lost. The baseball groundhog has show O's fans that one day the spring may come for us. They have stocked up with many a prized prospect, some of whom look like they might actually pan out. They have started the season 3-0 but us real fans know not to get too comfortable with that kind of pace. We know the losing streaks will come just like it did in 2005 when they started like a rocket taking off and ended like a rocket exploding. The little boy in me thinks they could be this year's version of the 2010 Giants, but the beat down fan would settle for this years version of the 2010 Detroit Tigers who went 81-81. Nothing like aiming for mediocrity, huh.

No matter what the record in September I know one thing for sure. When XL and I head down to Camden Yards tomorrow the O's will be in first place and even if they lose the game they will still have a winning record when the day is done. I'm just looking forward to sitting in the sun and watching some baseball with my best friend and dreaming that the impossible is possible.
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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Back to Eighty Two Seconds

The lowest time I ever posted in a game of Solitaire was 82 seconds nearly two years ago. Since then I've changed games... and hands. I've gone from a right handed solitaire player to a left handed minesweeper. The journey to 82 seconds on my left paw has been faster than my solitaire success. Likewise, I think I can actually do better than 82 seconds on minesweeper; perhaps I'll even play a sub-minute round one day if all the pieces come together correctly.

For this round I opted for an Australian playlist on iTunes. The song that was on while I played the record setting game was Ella Hooper and Troy Cassar-Daly's cover of "Islands in the Stream" which always puts a smile on my face and a tap in my foot. The background, of course, was provided by the lovely (and newly announced expectant mother) Kelly Brook. With the help of Kelly and good tunes all frivolous things are possible. Maybe I should tell the 2-0 Baltimore Orioles to hang pictures of Kelly all over the clubhouse and play INXS before Monday's home opener. XL and I will be there and we'd sure love to see a win...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Nothing Like Baseball Season!



I know this is a year old, but when I think baseball now, I think Jim Brockmire. "Put me on some kind of Italian boat, because that ball is gone-do-la!"
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Friday, April 01, 2011

No Foolin. This Happened

OK, I know it's April 1st and all, but this is absolutely, 100% true. This story is the first in a series of posts that will serve to look back at 2010 which was the year lost to my blog.

This particular story takes place in early July of '10 when XL and I were planing our fantasy football league draft. After nine years of simply dominating the league I stepped up to the official capacity of commissioner in 2010 and as such I felt we needed to have a kick ass draft, the story of which may well become the subject of one of these posts at a later date. But now back to the take away road kill you see above.

XL and I took a little trip out to the Eastern part of PA to scope out the place we planned to have our draft. After our food we drove up to my mother in law's house to drop off my computer, which needed a bit of doctoring after it shit the bed on me. As I was driving down a two lane road I saw this little squirrel run out into the middle of the road where he stopped on the double yellow lines. He looked up at us and then, as we got closer he decided to run right in the path of the car, completely ignoring the safe passage that lay behind him.

I heard a bit of a thud and as we drove further I looked in the rear view to see if the carcass was there. It wasn't. So when we arrived at our destination I slowly approached the front of the car and what you see above is what was waiting for me. After laughing uncontrollably I asked my mother in law for some items need to extricate Rocky from XL's grill. That procedure was not nearly as easy as you might think it would be. Granted, it was probably made all the more difficult because I was laughing my face off the whole time, but sufficed to say there was a whole lot more tugging then I would have liked.

Once I got him out and disposed of the body I was struck with a few nagging questions, which I will pose rhetorically below:

1) Why didn't he run the other way?

2) How in the hell did he jump high enough to be level with the grill?

3) What are the odds of him striking the car at just the right angle to enter the grill ass first and stick there?

4) Where's Eddie, he usually eats these damn things.

5) How many points do I get for this?

6) How much does taxidermy cost?

In the end all was taken care of with some gloves, a shovel and a car wash. We got hours of laughter out of it even if a few little squirrel babies had to go without acorns from then on.
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