Sunday, April 27, 2008


In today's NYT front page Travel section article on nudists vacations, some things stuck out (Bad Pun Alert! apologies, in advance). Attention all Naturalists, be ready to shed your attire and your (already de-valued) dollars as opportunities are cropping up for birthday suit holidays. One of the interesting things about the article is the picture. There are, count 'em, 13 people sans maillot, in the large picture and yet, miraculously, not one naughty bit. Well, a tail, yes, but not a bit. How'd the photographer do that? Photoshop and an electronic eraser? "Lots of photos. Lots.", quipped the ever-loving wife, who tartly added that the movement au natural was for "people who want to love their bodies in spite of themselves."

In my more youthful days (or is that daze), I'd frequented nude beaches in Croatia and in Greece, so it's not from a non-participatory angle that I've approached this subject. While nude sunbathing is o.k., nude swimming is not something I'd recommend. Nor nude diving, as in "diving from cliffs". Trust me on this. How I've been able to have kids is a true miracle of Nature. An especially painful body-surfing episode on Crete's Red Beach (Yes, that Red Beach) sans Speedo let me know that a little bitty piece of cloth would have been most protective when a wave rises up to smash you face first into friction-laden rocks. The thing about youth and nudity was that gravity was a much kinder mistress back then. Also, the young engine required and processed instantly any caloric intake. No stations along the way situated on different parts of the body, waiting for the locomotive to pull in and take away the sedentary loads. Au natural, like youth, was wasted on the young. So, while my mind is still open to many new possibilities, the door has been closed on leaving my clothes behind. It is you, gentle readers, that I am concerned about. there is so much our eyes and our hearts can take at this point.

A well-placed ad,
Castaways Travel is selling a sail down the Danube in the nude, from Budapest to Vienna to Nuremberg, July 20 to 27, on a 75-cabin river boat. Rates from $2,199 to $2,799 a person (800-470-2020, danubeadultcruise). , at the end of the article was actually the item that set me off about the whole naturalist thing. There you are, strolling along the banks of the Danube, perhaps just after having taking in a slice of the world’s most famous chocolate cake, the Original Sacher-Torte at Café Sacher. What could make the schlagge in your stomach curdle more than an entire cruise ship of over-35 nudeniks stretching and kvetching? Could this be more off-putting than the plunge of the US dollar against the Euro? Cake and nudity, not a good mix.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Food-What you want. What you need.

In my days of youth and meals without guilt, when being a trencherman was not viewed as an odious hobby, parking myself in a greasy spoon with cutlery at the ready and an early morning appetite at full-tilt boogie seemed the enjoyable and harmless thing to do. Nowadays, with health claims/warnings/edicts running rampant and the distant future careening quickly to the pay-me-now present, I am forced to sooth the inner eater in me by tightening the belt and perusing offerings at sites like The London Review of Breakfasts. Such a cholesterol delivery, second-hand, is a life-protracting measure. I guess?!

But, a tasty treat is always offered here. An example would be this review, which starts with,
"In Britain we have a problem with breakfasts. In fact, we have a problem with food in general and like a lot of problems in this country it boils down to class. I speak of the great divide between the caff and the café. In the caff you will be served enormous quantities of not very good quality food quickly and with no pretension or fuss. In the café, there may be a mission statement, there may be a picture of Nicaraguan peasants' children dancing happily because their parents have got a good price for their coffee, there may well be a family tree showing the lineage of the pork products. This will all be a mask to hide the fact that they don’t really know what they are doing. The service will be terrible, the sausages will be over-cooked and the eggs will be under-cooked. In places like this, I look at the quality of the ingredients and weep at the waste and weep at the bill too which normally tops £7 for a full English. Complaining is pointless because all the staff are part-time and most of them are as hungover as the clientele.

Don't know about you, but my college days memories, as plucked from the haze of encroaching senility, consisted of cheap restaurant meals, great overly loud concerts, one or two profs of distinction, standing room only at the Montreal Forum watching the Habs demolish another team, and eating at Schwartz's (yes, that's two categories of memories regarding food). I mention Schwartz's as it was more of a religious experience than simply a feeding-frenzy one. I seriously considered converting to Judaism after repeated visits there but swayed away from that temptation when a fellow student, a pre-med major who also partook of the smoked meat served there, brought me to my senses when he produced graphs and pie charts illustrating the short life span of a regular Schwartz's diner and a normal human being.

So, now I gnosh on little foods on little plates, while visions of large foods on gargantuan plates dance in my head. Being (somewhat) thin and miserable is not what I'd envisioned my life would be when I was parked at one of the common tables at Schwartz's, wholly enjoying the pleasures of real food.

Labels: ,

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hockey (Pronounced, "Haaaaacky!")

It's deep into the first round. Phlyers are up 2-1 over the Ovechkinites of DC and Ms. E. over @ The Theory of Ice has her style up to a playoff buzz.

Please notice,
"They (and no, I’m not going to tell you who ‘they’ are, my sources are confidential) tell me that this is the way playoff hockey is supposed to be, by which I assume they mean that playoff hockey is fucking weird. Fast but claustrophobic, conservative but chaotic, tidy at the core and sloppy around the edges. Imagine a ballroom dance competition being attacked by a legion of zombies; everyone frantically trying to fend of the ravenous undead with folding chairs and feather boas while simultaneously struggling not to miss a step in their foxtrot routine. This game was a lot like that, only weirder.".

Go. Read. Please. Who is this mono-lettered woman? And can she hip-check one into the boards without spilling any ink?

For her scriptures on the following, just click.

On Speed.
On Watching.
On Loyalty.
On Violence.
On Losing.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Why He'll Win in November

Continuing in my totally un-analytical prediction of the 2008 Election results, here's another reason McCain will be our oldest elected president. How do you teflonize yourself against the not-so-distant onslaught of economic woe? Well, just declare us in the Recession zone. If he wins, blame can't be put on him as he already pronounced "Bad Times Ahead". Heck, he may even make it another 2 terms for the 'pubs, since the self-evisceratin' Dems may still be at it in 2012. And, if things don't go well for China in this summer's Olympics, I think it'll be McCain who will benefit the most, irregardless as to the amount of China-bashing Mr. Obama or Ms. Clinton have done recently.

I'll be thinking of a Richardson candidacy in 2012, unless, Mr. Obama cleverly picks him for his VP in this coming election. Then, Mr. McCain may have a struggle on his hands unless Colin Powell comes out of his "former" state of being and validates a broader platform for the Arizona senator.

Now, all of that happening would make November 2008 truly interesting.

Labels: ,

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April's Rain Brings With It It's Pain

The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?Well, it's almost the 15th of April, which means, despite the gorgeous weather, I'm belted to my seat and Turbo-Taxing away. Three fingers of this (having already gotten the heartbeat racing with espressos aplenty), throwing almost substantiateable figures around and I'll be ready to be writing a final accounting of things by tomorrow night. With a full day to spare! I'll save the 15th to make sure I work out the correct spelling of I R S as I send away the money they "loaned" me last year.

A TOTH to Gwynne for pointing out this productivity test. Something to drop on the troops on Monday, oh, around two-ish, when what was lunch has settled in and kicked in the drowsies.

Frankly, I'm stunned at her score. It's mid-April, she's barely a buzz, and she calls herself a CPA!??!? She should be off the scale...unless...unless..oh, yeah the big cruise is coming.

The Very Big Cruise. You're stylin, Gwynne, just plain stylin'


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Who's your Googlegänger(s)?

Anyone read the front page article from yesterday's (April 10, 2008) NYT? Had to do with Doppelgangers on the Internet, or Googlegängers. The term "Googlegänger" has been around a while, at least 3 years, which is prehistoric in geek agedom, I presume.
Since Google came around, I've been tracking the other me(s). As the article points out, "But while many people are familiar with Googlegängers, a fundamental question has gone unanswered: Why do so many feel a connection — be it kinship or competition — with utter strangers just because they share a name?

Social science, it turns out, has an answer. It is because human beings are unconsciously drawn to people and things that remind us of ourselves.

A psychological theory called the name-letter effect maintains that people like the letters in their own names (particularly their initials) better than other letters of the alphabet.

..i.e., enough about you, let's talk about me. Searching one's Googlegänger is a private guilty pleasure. I'm assuming everybody does it and I'm assuming it's not a group activity. Unless, of course, a group of you are Googling someone else's Googlegänger. Oh, come on, 'fess up. That perfect friend/relative/co-worker must have an evil/lazy/incompetent Googlegänger out there. It's only human (or in some searches, not).

As my full name is a bit unusual, my Google search of first and last name combo peters out after 40. I seem to have a Facebook account though I've never set one up. Another Googlegänger seems to be highly involved with bowling in Croatia while another seems to be a secretary in some sports league back in the Land of Croats. Not a particularly exciting bunch of Googlegängers I'd say.

What about you? Any daredevils, swashbucklers living your alternate life?


Friday, April 11, 2008

Expenditure and Goodwill Erosion #2

These new-fangled automated parking meters are quite efficient when they are working. In Pittsburgh, I've used these types of meters in various places and was never short-changed or maltreated.

Well, same state, different story. Not knowing yet what a pleasurable visit it was to be and having just had some police issues, yours truly was not in the most Christian of moods. Little did I know that I had to deal with the cold unforgiving nature of machinery before a night of music could begin.

Driving around the South Street area is always an opportunity for agita, of the parking variety. Well, non-parking variety, really. Special parking sticker area, limited meter area, 2 HR max area, "don't you even think about moving my garbage can reserving a street spot" area.
All of these limited areas and a very limited time to find availability forced me to drive in reverse into a questionably maintained parking lot. Luckily, I spied 3 cars in the lot of a very recent vintage, so leaving my unwashed and dinged 1999 Camry with 200k miles (a Philly visit vehicle) seemed a safe bet. The lot had no attendant but it had one of those central metering schemes which involved your punching in some info, the meter calculating your fee, your feeding in legal US Currency, and, to complete this faceless financial interaction, the meter returning the difference between the fee and your fed-in bills.
Easy enough it seemed.
$15 was calculated if you wanted to leave the car overnight.
$10, if you left by midnight.
Push the $10 choice.
Feed in a twenty.
Wait for the change to drop.
This dropped.
Then this.
Oh, then one more.
Wait. Hum. Bang.
Then, with a slight thump, a ticket to place inside my car's windshield.

So, in Philly Parking Math, $20 minus $10 equals $3, plus a very expensive blend of paper.

Needless banging of meter and muttering in choice Croatian curse words resulted in no addition to the money in hand. Looking carefully at the coins in my hand, I even doubted whether the excruciatingly shiny coinage spat out by this meter bandit was legitimate legal tender. I bit one coin and winced.

This evening was taking on the expensive tinge of those Mastercard commercials. Fun to see, lack of fun experiencing them.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Quick on One’s Financial Toes

On a recent foray into Philly with my daughter, I unfortunately drove into a situation involving two seperate expenditures of cash and depletion of my goodwill toward men.

Expenditure and Goodwill Erosion #1
In search of scant parking spaces around the TLA, I was approaching an intersecting street crossing South Street, the main drag of the “Alt/Cool” section of the City of Bro-Love. The light was turning quickly from yellow with tinges of a red dawn already shining my way. On the corner were four of Philly’s finest in riding shorts, strapped pistols, and straddling pitch-black mountain bikes. On my car’s backside was a cellphone in hand motor-mouthing, SUV-driving, not-paying attention driver.
What to do?
A) Slam on the brakes to obey the signal and prevent the occifers from writing me up for running a red light, while almost guaranteeing a solid hit to my Camry by the aforementioned $&^*^*# driver?
B) Continue on through the now turning red light, but at a reduced rate of speed while looking up South Street to ensure I’d get through without being broadsided?
C) Press the ejection seat buttons and propel my daughter and myself through the sunroff my car doesn’t have?
D) Veer off to the left and plow into innocent pedestrians?

Surmising the consequences of safety and eventual financial layout, I opted for choice B.

It wasn’t but a matter of a minute or so when I glanced in my side mirror and saw three dark bicycles struggling and bouncing up the street in my general direction (Note: Philly’s streets are well-known for their debilitating potholes). One rider passed me and pulled over the car in front of me (who had driven through a completely yellow light…poor sucker.). Another shallow-breathing guy rapped on my window and asked for the usuals. As I was digging through the glove compartment for my insurance card and registration, I heard him yell to the cop who’d stopped the cart in front of me (with a touch too much of glee, I’d say), “Hey, this is a first. Two cars, one light. You bet your ass, we’re going to ticket both of them.”

His delight was a balloon I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to deflate or prick. So, to the cost of the concert tix, processing fees, indulgement fee, sight fee, I’ll just add on the cost of a traffic ticket. I’ll discuss my parking woes on this fine night in another post.

Well, at least I won't have to fret about auto body repair bills or having to file a claim for damage to my car as I wasn't rear-ended. More importantly, my daughter and I were able to walk away form the ticket sans a scratch. I mentioned this little bit to the officer as he handed me his excrutiatingly penned script, to which he opined, “Guess I saved you a bundle, bub.”

Bub, indeed.

A bub and his money were soon parted.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Minus the Bear @ TLA April 8, 2008

Yes, this marks my seemingly monthly post. Wish I could promise more at this time, dear patient readers. Suffice it to say that parenthood has its rewards and its Black Dog days.
So, scuttling along sideways from the Black like your average Blue, let me pontificate about a fine concert at Philly's Fillmore at the Theatre of Living Arts (How i hate that name!!! Just TLA, please!!!).

A triple bill.
First act was a local band, Elk.
Followed by Portugal. The Man (Always love a band that practices careful punctuation).
Then, headliners Minus the Bear.

I'll leave off giving band histories as the links provide quite a bit of such information, if you so desire.

Elk kicked off the concert with a 4 (5?) song set of their own compositions. Jared Obstfeld, Guitar/vocals, had a fine voice, though the sound mix negated any clarity to the lyrics. Mr.TJ Smith seemed to be working intently and intensely on the (his) left of the stage, on guitar. Unfortunately, the sound mix (again) knocked his solos completely out. He was hoping for an 11 on his amp; it sounded more like a two. I will vouch that he was strumming furiously. The band played with a visual energy not reciprocated with their emanating sound. A bummer for all concerned. Noticed some band parental units, with video cameras, snaking through the standing crowd trying to catch the best angles. Hope these guys appreciate their 'rents' support!

Amid lighting on the darker end of the spectrum and wispy smoke blowing along the stage, Portugal. The Man commenced with their presentation around 8:40 pm. This 3-piece band, fronted five that night. No intros were made, so the names of the keyboard and spec-'fect guy cannot be provided. Why these guys like to go the Three-Name-Route (shaded of John Wesly Harding) is not for me to get into, 'cept to comment that the Three-Name-Route suggests a stuck-up attitude that the band does not display. Zachery Scott Carothers, the bass-player, is a total nut on stage. He plays the bass as if in a set-long struggle with an anaconda. The un-mentioned keyboard player has his own movement challenges that, when coupled with the dance stylings of Mr. Carothers, made this audience member wince with empathetic embarrassment while also admiring their guileless charm tromping in mis-step on the TLA stage. Mr. John Baldwin Gourley, the lead guitarist and vocalist of this energetic bunch, cradles his guitar high and tight to his left armpit and emits tight squeals and synthesized yelps throughout the performance. The guy's an ace; it would have been great to hear some longer, more developed solos from him. His talent is undeniable. The group's set list, forgive my addled brain, was 5 songs as well, with each song tailing into and out of longer improvisations. Some of the improvs tended to the "Let's play this jag 'til it dies" style which was a shame as Mr. Gourley certainly has the licks to elucidate rather than repitate (yeah, yeah, "repitate" doesn't exist, but it reads better with "elucidate"). The sound mix was much better than Act #1 proving the point that it wasn't the sound system, it was the sound guy who was asleep or not there for Elk's part of the show.

Finally, at 9:50 (show "started" at 8:00), Minus the Bear took command. The place was packed at this point; turns out the show was sold out. The audience's enthusiasm and energy were at a fever pitch which was surprising as the TLA had ripped out the theatre's seating eons ago and the fans had been standing on the forward-tilting wooden floor since well before 8:00. The calf muscles and shins were screaming for a chair. To get it out of the way, the sound mix was clear, strong and consistent admirably reflecting each band member's contribution to each song.
What first interested me about the band was the distinctive taste and force of the drummer on the albums, Planet of Ice and Menos el Oso (which is Spanish for "Minus the Bear"). Mr. Erin Tate, the live version, did not disappoint. Tight, busy, and exercising quick short strokes, he, along with lead guitarist Dave Knudson, had the energy levels on high right from the start. Starting with several selections from their latest release, Planet of Ice, the band had the audience singing along all the way through selections from Menos el Oso. For those purists and CD-aholics (I raise my hand unashamedly), it was amazing to hear their renditions follow their recorded songs so closely. There were enough side trips by the band through some of the songs to prove they weren't a great studio band simply doing reps. The explorations tended to be short and quick, keeping the integrity of their songs, which tend to be in 3:30 to 4:40 range, in place. A fabulous performance. I encourage you all to give them a look on their current tour.

A tip of the wig to Mr. Whisky Prajer, who first clued me in on these guys. Thanks again, WP!

Here's a YouTube of their Pachuca Sunrise, from Menos el Oso.

Labels: ,

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Click for Wilmington, Delaware Forecast Locations of visitors to this page eXTReMe Tracker
follow me on Twitter