Viewing posts from June 2015

The Food, the Bag and The Ugly

RefrigeratorHaikuMy refrigerator is the place where food goes to die. It’s not so much a refrigerator as it is a food morgue. Inside are things that look like they’ve been in there since my bar mitzvah. The “bodies” of the decomposed generally stay there until they can no longer be identified and are then laid to rest en masse in a tall kitchen bag.

It all starts when I buy food I like, and ends with me chucking it, uneaten, into a dumpster. Why this happens, I don’t know. It just does. Some would think I’m wasting food and money. I prefer to think of it as creating job security in the waste management industry.

saladRefrigeration, as we all know, keeps food fresher longer by slowing down the decaying process. Yet there are certain foods that don’t fully adhere to that. Like bags of ready-to-eat salad. On paper, it looks like a brilliant idea. Want to make salad for a family of four? Open a couple of bags, add some dressing and you’re done. The ultimate in healthy convenience. No more filling your shopping cart with lettuce, celery, carrots and other individual fresh veggies. No more spending time chopping, grating, slicing and dicing. No more driving to the emergency room for stitches. That alone saves me thousands of dollars a year.

The flip side to all this convenience is salad with an expiration date in minutes. Open the bag and it’s like watching a time-lapse movie. Within seconds, the beautiful crisp, colorful veggies that enticed you to buy, start to wilt until they’re brown and have the consistency of pond scum. Funny how they didn’t put that picture on the bag. That’s why the first thing you should do when you get home from food shopping is throw out the salad. Then you won’t have to worry if the salad will last til dinner. Who needs that kind of pressure?

FairFoodAs quickly as a bag of salad disintegrates, other foods in my refrigerator seem naturally immune to decomposition. These are the staples like butter, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Technically, these aren’t really food. They’re food-esque. Quasi-foods. If you were lost in the woods I seriously doubt you’d want to survive on just butter, mustard, ketchup and mayonnaise. Eating one or any combination of the four just to stay alive doesn’t seem worth it. However, take those same four items, deep fry them and you can make a fortune at a county fair.

GrapeJellySomething else that seems to last forever in the fridge is grape jelly. I’ve got a jar in there that doesn’t even have an expiration date on it. Well, it may. I just can’t tell. Three years ago something leaked nearby and now the damn thing is welded to the door shelf.  

What I can’t understand is why I have grape jelly in the house in the first place. I can’t eat peanut butter so what’s the point in even buying it? What purpose could it possibly have other than to be one-half of a classic sandwich? I mean, really. How many recipes require grape jelly as an ingredient?

So what’s the take-away from all this? Now you know why I’m still single.

Til next Tuesday…

MarblesMind Marble:

An apple a day keeps the doctor away especially if you throw one at him.

Whatever Happened to Flying Saucers?

gortHow many people here believe in flying saucers, raise your hand? Okay, you are the true believers. How can I tell? Anyone who is asked in print to raise their hand in answer to a question—and does so—is a person with conviction…or possibly, some cranial chemical imbalance. I don’t know. I always get those two mixed up.

We haven’t had any UFO sightings lately, have you noticed? Neither has anyone else. People aren’t looking at the skies anymore. They’re looking over their shoulders. And at themselves, which, if you can do them simultaneously, is a good bar trick.

There are two reasons for the dearth of sightings: 1) cellphones, and 2) our Overall Galactic Rating.

GalaxyCellphones have ruined everything. Gone are the days when visitors from planets like B:zԹNpԽ (pronounced “ðLtk-<”) would have an encounter with some stoner out in the middle of nowhere who just finished his third bowl, then record him trying to convince people of what he swear he saw. Back on their home planet, those recordings went cosmic, my friends.

UFOs will never return now. No visitor from another planet can possibly come here without expecting at least ten million camera phones capturing it all on video. Having a UFO show up now would be like Alec Baldwin driving around looking for the paparazzi. Not gonna happen.

surfingsasquatchA slightly different fate befell Bigfoot. “B,” as some of its closest friends called it, was too clever. He was elusive to the point that no one really cared anymore. He could have been bigger than Donald Trump, which would have been a welcome improvement, but once the talk show offers dry up, so do the  multi-million dollar endorsement possibilities and you may as well pack it in. Which Bigfoot did. Last seen in a singles bar in Florida, I do believe.

favoritemartianThe second, and main reason for our lack of extraterrestrial visitors is that our Overall Galactic Rating, or OGR, has dropped precipitously. So has the overall rating for Overall Galactic Overalls, but that’s another post altogether. In Places to Visit in the Universe, Earth used to be #1. That was a mere two decades ago. We are now #4023. You can’t get a rating lower than 4023. We’ve hit bottom. Considering we are the most advanced civilization that we officially know of, that’s embarrassing. To give you an idea of how low #4023 is, #4022 is a Black Hole. Word has gotten around that Earth isn’t as much fun as it used to be. Yeah, tell me about it.

Yes, the UFOs are gone. No creatures in the universe hate having their pictures taken more than the B:zԹNpԽ-ians…except maybe Alec Baldwin.

Til next Tuesday…

Zombies 101 — A Primer

zombie1To bastardize the catch-phrase from the 1970s movie “Love Story,” being a writer means never having to do research. I don’t know much about zombies so, as a writer, this qualifies me to write about them. This isn’t to say that I’m totally clueless about the subject, it just seems that there isn’t a whole heck of a lot to learn.

I’m not afraid of zombies. There’s nothing about them that I find frightening. I’ve seen scarier people at the DMV. Vampires are creepier to me because I grew up watching Bela Lugosi as Count Dracula. This guy was scary! He could transform himself into a bat! I saw it on TV with my own eyes! Of course, had I known back then that bats eat the equivalent of the entire Duggar family’s weight in insects every day, I might have wanted one instead of a dog. But I didn’t know and I freaked out. I guess with vampires you have to take the good with the bat. Yes, a terrible joke. So let’s move on.

brains-for-dinnerThe smart thing would be for zombies and vampires to join forces. It’s a natural. Both prefer nighttime to the day. Their prey is the same animal, humans, but they go for different cuts. Zombies like to eat brains, which, btw, is why you never see zombies in Washington. No food source. Vampires, on the other hand, need to drink blood. Add some vultures to the mix and you have a very efficient, very green, but gruesome business model.

While the Walking Dead get all the media attention and movie deals, a lesser-known branch of the family tree is the Running Dead. The Running Dead are far more threatening and lethal than the Jump-Roping Dead, Skipping Dead or Hopscotching Dead combined. And because they’re faster, they have an unlimited supply of food, judging by the obesity stats in this country. If you ever needed a reason to join a gym, zombie lovers, this would be it.

Even more bone-chilling than the Running Dead, however, are the Bicycling Dead. These creatures travel in large packs and take over roads especially on weekends, putting themselves—and the rest of us—at risk as they ride, side by side, in their spandex outfits looking for food. Since their favorite meal is snickering humans, the purpose of the skin-tight clothing becomes apparent as prey quickly reveal themselves. As one Running Dead told me it’s like shooting tuna in a can.

Because they’re the least threatening of all zombie types, the Driving Dead will get a minor mention here only due to the facts that they are huge in number and primarily confined to Los Angeles. In perfect Darwinian fashion, and endless gridlock, the Driving Dead have been forced to wean themselves off of brains and have now adapted to sustaining themselves on the fine European hand-stitched leather and burled wood interiors of their expensive cars. In so doing, however, they have been moved from True Zombie status to the L.A.-apropos “Hybrid” classification. To purists, these zombies are embarrassments and have also lost the right to sit at the Adults’ Table at Thanksgiving and Passover.

walkingdeadIf you happen to find yourself visiting Southern California, don’t miss the largest swarm of Walking Dead in the world. Go to Anaheim and hang out in the Disneyland parking lot at closing time. These Walking Dead are neither hungry nor dangerous. Trust me, after being on their feet for twelve hours, gorging on some of the most expensive food in America while standing in the hot Southern California sun, these creatures are neutralized. You can follow them closely and even poke them with sticks without peril as they wander for hours across acres of asphalt looking for their cars.

I hope this gives you an idea of what to look for when zombie-watching. Some questions about zombies still remain. What kind of wine goes with brains? What do zombies have for dessert? If you’re a zombie and have a sweet tooth, what do you snack on? Can a zombie have a gray matter allergy, go into anaphylactic shock and wake up alive?

Looks like I’m going to have to do some research after all.

MarblesMind Marbles:

I saw the newest issue of Oprah Magazine today and guess what? She’s on the cover again! She must know somebody there.

As a kid I thought aficionados were people who knew a lot about fish.

A friend of mine has mega bucks up the wazoo, and I realized that’s my problem. I’ve got to find out what a wazoo is, where I can get one.

Did you ever notice that whenever somebody says “To make a long story short…” it’s already too late?

Til next Tuesday…

Room with a view

surveillanceI don’t want to seem paranoid, but every time I go into a clothing store dressing room, I always have the feeling that somebody’s looking at me from the other side of the mirror. Forget the Age of Aquarius. We’re in the Age of Surveillance. This is why I’m always self-conscious about which way I’m facing when I’m in there trying on clothes. I can’t be sure, but when I was trying on a couple of muscle Ts last summer, I swear I heard laughter from the other side of the wall. 

If that wasn’t bad enough, I’m also amazed at the things I’ve done in a dressing room to reduce my fear of some thrill-seeker suddenly throwing back the curtain without first checking to see if my legs are showing underneath it. As soon as I hear someone coming down the hallway, I make a pre-emptive strike to make my presence known. I’ll clear my throat or cough. I don’t know why I do that, really. What’s the worst that’s going to happen? They see me half naked and they end up in therapy? Hey, there’s a price for being an idiot. I’m talking about the other guy.  

dressingroomTo conquer my fear, I’ve developed a few techniques you can try if you’re as paranoid in the dressing room as I used to be.

One strategy is to first admit you have a problem, then deal with the problem head on. Defuse the anxiety by having fun. Make it a game. Here’s what you do: before you try on anything, don’t close the curtain. Leave it wide open. If you need to work up to that, then calm your nerves by loudly singing and acting out “I’m a Little Tea Pot.”  Trust me, people will leave you alone.

Or, if you opt to keep the curtain closed, but still don’t want to be disturbed, just keep repeating, “Oh, baby. Yes, yes, yes! Right there.  Right there. Right there!” while knocking your body against the wall several times. Generally, strangers will realize it’s a private conversation and will respect your right to have it, though they’ll still listen. Those accompanied by their parents will be quickly ushered out to try the clothes on in the safety of their own homes. 

waitingforyouFor those of you who aren’t quite ready to take either of those bold steps, it’s because you’re not used to taking control of the situation. You react defensively instead of taking charge. The way to overcome this is by being proactive, being prepared with a response for the inevitable intrusion. This exercise will quickly build up your confidence. Simply go into one of the store’s dressing rooms, close the curtain and sit there partially dressed. Don’t say a word. Don’t make any noise. Just sit there. Then when someone whips open the curtain, sees you sitting half undressed and says, “Oh, I’m so sorry,” quickly take control of the situation by using this prepared—and practiced—retort, “It’s okay. I’ve been waiting for you.” As the intruder closes the curtain and makes a hasty retreat, you’ll feel both empowered and proud of your immediate success.

clothespileThroughout all of this, you know who I feel sorry for? The guys and women attendants in the dressing rooms, the ones who have to put back all the rejects that other people leave behind. What a sucky job that must be. Not only do they have to clean up their own dung-hole bedrooms at home, they’ve got to spend eight hours a day, six days a week tidying up after total slobs for minimum wage. On the positive side, this gives them plenty of opportunity to put their lives in perspective. They can reflect and possibly conclude that maybe it wasn’t such a wise choice getting that Master’s Degree in Early Druid Ringworm Recipes. 

So there the attendants are, looking at a recently used dressing room—clothes thrown over the partition, on the floor and some used in lieu of a handkerchief. I’m certain that more than once during a shift the attendants think to themselves, “If I have to fold up the same #%$@& shirt one more time, I swear to God I’m taking somebody out with me.”

As I’ve totally forgotten the original purpose for writing this post, I’ll close by saying, be alert. You never know who takes my advice.

Mind Marbles:

GlutenFreeSince we’re on the subject of clothes, why is the zipper on the front of a pair of pants called “the fly”? Is there anything down there that even remotely resembles something that lands on your food at a picnic?  I hope not.

I’d like a definition of “gluten-free.” Does it mean something doesn’t contain gluten, or does it mean the gluten is there, but they’re just not charging for it?

The Jeans Pool

nopantsIf it wasn’t for jeans, I’d be walking around without any pants. As would a lot of people, which would quickly give new meaning to the phrase “ugly Americans.” Luckily, jeans are real and while they may be a fashion statement for some, for the rest of us they’re everyday wear, camouflage to hiding a multitude of sins for which we all should be grateful.

dungareesThey weren’t always called “jeans,” you know. When I was growing up they were “dungarees.” Nobody wore “jeans.” I always thought a good ad would be: “We put the dung in dungarees.” I doubt corporate would see the humor. Truth is, dungarees used to be worn by miners and farmers in the 1800s. Chances were that if you owned a farm, dungarees and animals were not strangers to each other. What most people don’t know is that the word “dungarees” is actually derived from the ancient Gaelic word meaning “pants with animal crap on them.” Okay, I made that up.

To be honest, I’ve often wondered why “jeans” or “pants” is plural.  Don’t say it’s because there are two legs. A shirt has two sleeves, but nobody ever says to you, “Hey, I like the blood splatter pattern on your shirts.” And if I go out and buy “a pair” of pants, how come I end up with only one item in the bag?

I love jeans. I do. They cut my daily clothing picking process down to choosing a single article of clothing—a shirt. That’s all I have to think about when getting dressed. Deciding what shirt I’m going to wear. The rest is a given. Underpants, jeans, socks, sneakers. Done. If I’m going to a meeting, I might wear a sports jacket.

Jeans aren’t for everybody, though. My dad wore jeans maybe five times in his life. The rest of the time he wore “slacks.” He worked in slacks. He fixed things around the house in slacks. He mowed the lawn in slacks. When my brother and I got out of line, dad kicked our butts in slacks.

stilettojeansAnother beautiful thing about jeans is that you can wear them with any kind of shoes. Jeans with stilettos are very sexy on a woman. On a guy, not so much. Barefoot, flip-flops, loafers, work boots, cowboy boots, toe shoes, horseshoes, clown shoes …doesn’t matter. Jeans will match. The only shoes that look terrible with jeans are wingtips. Wingtips can only be worn with a suit. You can’t wear wingtips with jeans. It’s the law. Unless you’re playing golf, the game for the fashion-blind.

My jeans cost about $42. Buy a pair in Bloomingdale’s or some other hoity-toity store, and you’ll drop $350! Is the denim any different from the pants I buy? No. Is it better cotton? No. Is the denim made and processed/stone washed/dyed by employees who earn hundreds of dollars an hour? No. Has the fabric been blessed by God? Doubtful, but I don’t know. Maybe God wears jeans. With all the work He has to do, I wouldn’t be surprised. So what’s the difference between Bloomingdale’s jeans and mine? $308.00.

hobojeansIronically, the more ripped and tattered new jeans look, the more they cost. It’s Hobo Chic, though at $125 a pop even hobos can’t afford to look like “real” hobos. If these rail riders were smart, they’d form a corporation, sell their worn out, grimy jeans to the Palm Beach/Beverly Hills trendoids and retire to some place warm.

Yeah, jeans are my pants of choice. They’re right for wherever I go. That’s why if you’re going out and don’t know what to wear, throw on a pair of jeans then add whatever you want. If you’re going to a black tie affair, wear black jeans and you’ll be okay. If anybody gives you crap about it, tell them they should be happy you have any clothes on at all. The only requirement for attending was to wear a black tie.

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