Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bear with Me

12 clever quips
Two weeks back, some friends and I took a golf weekend in the hills of northern New Jersey.

I played my three best rounds of the entire year and was the big winner, collecting $2.25 from my friends in our friendly waging.

I lost only 10 golf balls and never my temper.

The beverage cart managed to find me every four or five holes. Mmm, frosty Yuengling on the links.

And not only did I make this putt ...

bear crossing golf course

... but also the 300-pound black bear crossing the fairway behind me didn't eat my sorry, saddle-shoed ass.

bear crossing golf course close-up

Friday, September 25, 2009

Moxie Mona Does Stamford

23 clever quips
Some blogging buddies of mine recently decided to embark on a new venture -- world domination via social marketing. They're starting small, though. This week they are simply conquering the United States

One of their business colleagues was going to be in my area yesterday, so they asked me if I could show her around and share with her some insights into my home state of Connecticut. Since they were offering me no money, no stock options and not even a fleeting flash of their breasts for this work, I naturally agreed.


I opened the door and there she stood in a red and gold bustier and knee-high stiletto boots.

wonder woman doll

All eleven-and-one-quarter inches of her.

 wonder woman doll2

"Hey there,stud," she purred with a voice I could have felt in my hip pocket had I only been wearing pants. "I'm Mona. Mona from Moxie Media. You should have been expecting me."

"Uh, yes, I was. Forgive me for staring, but did anyone ever tell you that you look a lot like ..."

"A bustier Megan Fox?"

"Ah ..."

"A sexier Angelina Jolie?"

"Well .."

"Yes, baby. I get that all the time."

"Well, um ... be that as it may," I said, "let, uh, let me change my clothes then we can get started. Sound good?"

"Yes, baby" she growled throatily, "all except that part about you and clothes. I've been through all the other 49 states this week and you're the first male escort I've had. Rrowlllllll."

Six minutes later, we were in The Manly Minivan, Barry White playing softly in the background and us cruising through my hometown.

"Since you're with a media company and all, I thought I'd drive you around to some of the many locations in Stamford that have be featured in movies and TV over the years. In between stops, I'll give you some background on the entire state of Connecticut."

"Lay it on me, stud."

"Uh, OK. Here we go. Connecticut was founded in 1627 by renegade Massachusetts pilgrims who challenged Rhode Island to boring contest. Unfortunately, we won. Hence, our state bird is the robin, our state song is "Yankee Doodle" and stores are not allowed to sell alcohol on Sunday."

"Hmm," she mused. "Good thing it's Thursday. How about you and I get butterscotch liqueur, Cool Whip and --"

"Whoa! There's our first stop! Cove Island Park!"

We hopped out of the minivan and walked to the end of the boat launch.

wonder woman cove island

"Cove Island was the scene of two major motion pictures," I told her. "Reservation Road, released right before Joaquin Phoenix went off his nut and became a Hasidic rapper. All the park and water scenes were filmed right around here. The movie, though, was a flop.

"More importantly, Cove Island was the setting for The Horror of Party Beach, the world's 'first horror monster musical' and definitely its worst. It was so bad it was featured on Season 8 of Mystery Science Theater 3000."

After a quick swing by the former arts theater that now serves as the home for Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and Steve Wilkos, (Mona declined having her photo taken there), we hit another part of the waterfront.

"Do you recognize that?" I said as she gracefully straddled a fence post.

"Mmm, well, sweetie, don't flatter yourself too --"

"No, no, no -- I mean the building behind you!"

stamford dunder miflen the office
She looked puzzled.

"That's the Stamford branch of Dunder Mifflin from the TV series The Office."

"Oo-oo! I love Jim! I just want to take some gel to that tousle of hair he has. Then I want to ride h--"

"Sorry, Mona. As you should recall, the Stamford branch was closed. It's a sad day when your hometown gets bitch-slapped. By Scranton, no less. Besides, they didn't film anything here but the exterior of the building. However, I do have a real-life Jim-related spot for you to see. And away we go!"

With that we headed north until we stopped right here:

away we go stamford

"I don't get it," she said looking at the screen on the back of my camera. "And why am I fuzzy in all these shots?"

"Uh, that's soft focus to romanticize your raging femininity. Like they did with Cybil Shepard on Moonlighting. Now, look at this photo. Maybe it will help:"

away we go location

She pondered the photo. "Say, those are the same trees in front of us. And same walkway. And that's JIM HALPERT ON THAT SAME WALKWAY!"

Once I pried Mona off the very flagstone actor John Krasinski stood on, I explained that this house was used last year for a scene in the Sam Mendes movie Away We Go. To date, its the only time in motion picture history that a scene that was supposed to take place in Colorado was actually filmed in Connecticut.

"So, Mona," I said. "Do you like shopping?"

We took a spin by the Stamford Town Center, which is neither in a town nor the center of Stamford. It's a mall. Here I showed her the parking garage and main courtyard where much of the Woody Allen-Bette Milder flop Scenes from a Mall was shot in 1990:

scenes from a wall woody allen bette midler

This shooting was allegedly the first time Woody Allen ever stepped in a mall. After the reviews came out, some say he stepped in something else.  It was also only the second time in motion picture history that a scene that was supposed to take place in California was actually filmed in Connecticut. The first time was The Horror of Party Beach.

"I detect a trend," Mona said with a wink and a nod. And a hand on my thigh.

"O-o-o-o-K, time to wrap this up with the mother of all entertainment centers," I said as I hit the gas peddle.

wwe headquarters stamford

"Here we are," I said. "The creators of Raw. The geniuses behind Smackdown! The people who put the handlebar in Hulk Hogan's mustache. It's the headquarters of World Wresting Entertainment. Pretty awesome, huh? And if that's not cool enough, their CEO Linda McMahon is now running to be the next U.S. senator from Connecticut."

"Wow," she said looking up with those bedroom eyes, "now can I get you in sleeper hold?"

"No, thanks," I said, "I think I already put my readers in one a few paragraphs back."


Thanks for visiting and best of luck to Laura at Better in Bulk, Angie at Seven Clown Circus, Jill at Scary Mommy, Kathy at Mama’s Losin’ It, and Francesca and Kacey at Mayhem and Moxie on their new venture. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Can't Spell 'Diet' Without It

27 clever quips
A co-worker and I were once returning from a meeting when, overwhelmed by the munchies, he asked me to pull over at a 7-Eleven. He needed a hot dog, he said, because he had gone to a nutritionist who drew some blood, analyzed it and determined that his body chemistry made him "hot dog tolerant."

After I stopped the Slurpee from shooting out of my nose, he explained that it was something about his body reacting extremely well to the "protein" and burning it at a highly efficient rate so he didn't gain weight. Eating a wiener, for him, would be like pumping the highest grade octane gas into your car.

Considering the hot dogs looked like they had been on that roller grill since Madonna really was a virgin, I think he had another kind of gas coming.

I forgot about this until sometime ago a friend, in an effort to improve her health and drop a few pounds, consulted a nutritionist who drew some blood, ran some tests and gave her a thick binder full of test results along with a list of foods. Try one food for a few days, record how your body reacted to it (heartburn, pus-filled boils, speaking in tongues, etc.) and how much you weighed the next day. Bad reaction and/or weight gain -- never eat that food again! Your body is having a type of allergic reaction to it, causing water retention, battles within the autoimmune system and justification of the nutritionist's exorbitant fee.

I'm no scientist, and I certainly don't pretend to be one on this blog, but I think you'll agree with me when I say "What the flock?"

(Literary alert: "Flock" is foreshadowing.)

This seems like a good way to test for food allergies and conditions like celiac disease, but is it the most cost-effective way for someone who is otherwise healthy and happy to get into some skinny jeans?

My doubts grew when my friend ate nothing but lamb for lunch and dinner. For about three months straight.

OK, lamb may not top your list of diet foods but I give the nutritionist credit here. When your dog has skin or stomach issues, one of the first things many vets recommend is a switch to a lamb-and-rice based food. It's either that lamb is a kinder, gentler meat or just that most dogs -- and humans except for gyro fanatics -- don't normally eat much lamb so it's a good control to test if their normal food is making them sick. So from me -- two paws up!

Then there were the martinis. Apparently all kinds of wines made my pal gain weight, but a good stiff Bombay Sapphire martini (hold the olive -- please) did not add to the scales. I was glad to hear that because I feel gin is highly under-appreciated by today's Grey Goose swilling masses (apologies to Vodka Mom and Aunt Becky -- you know I'd hit the potato juice with you two any time). Other than that, I was a tad concerned about the pile of empties I noticed in her recycling bin.

This went on for months, by which time my friend should have gone through the list and determined a wide variety of good and bad eats for her. Unfortunately, every few days, tired of baby-sheep breath and juniper-scented hangovers, she snuck in a pizza or helping of nachos and had to start from the top of that list again.

Then, one day, it stopped. No more obscure ancient grains to try or eating Food A only after digesting Food B before taking an intravenous hit of Food C in puree form. She was back to normal, but with a simple commitment to more fruits and veggies, less processed foods and regular exercise.

I was proud of her because, while I too often stray from the good food path, deep down I know those are all right things to do to maintain a healthy life.

What turned her around, you ask?

Publicly, she'll say it was the long-term restrictions and the boredom of the diet and the price of the program.

Privately, though, it might have had something to do with her nutritionist suddenly dropping dead.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Survival of the Frantic

18 clever quips
I'm going to live.

If you can believe medical science, that is.

My blood pressure Wednesday was 122/80 and Doc Bollywood (she's a mellower, less glam version of Divya from "Royal Pains") was pleased that my month-long log of home readings were generally good.

Except for one.

"That's the one I took last week in the midst of a panic attack," I said, pointing at the 137/93 scribbled in ballpoint blue.

"Any idea what brought it on?"

"Um ... life?"

She asked me about my history of attacks.

I had always thought they started in my mid-20s, but recently I realized I could trace them back to about the age of 7. I got sick at the local Friendly's, probably on a rancid Fribble, and as a result I had a morbid fear of eating out in restaurants for a while. Hey, if one is going to pass out and die whilst puking, there's comfort in falling face forward into a familiar toilet, know what I mean?

I remembered this long ago incident because, well, I had a panic attack in a restaurant this summer in New York City. It was the one hot and stifling day of the entire Northeastern summer and I think the 15-block expedition in search of Mexican food, whiny Things in tow, wore me down.

And gave me a sudden onset of advanced cancer. Things like that happen, don't they?

Actual scene in the restaurant this summer:

MY LOVE: "Are you checking your pulse?"

ME: "Uh, no. (Fingers instead start scratching common carotid artery in neck rather feeling it up.) Mosquito bite. Zit. Herpes. I need to use the bathroom. Back in a flash."

"How frequent are these attacks?" Doc Bollywood asked.

"Sometimes I'll go months without one. But in the last few weeks, they've actually be happening every few days. Even when I was on vacation, lying in the pool on a floatie having a beer. I had one over the weekend while grilling out on the deck with some friends. They don't paralyze me. I still can walk and talk and breathe and function physically -- though I did overcook the steaks -- but upstairs (points to head) and in here (points to chest), I'm a total mess for a hour. Or three. Five hours once actually."

"How do you handle this when they happen?"

"Sometimes I lie down and do deep breathing while watching home decorating shows on TLC. Most of the time I just try to go about my business while telling myself it's all in my head. Not out loud, though. That would be crazy."

"So this has all been happening more often in the month since you started checking your blood pressure," she said.


She then asked me to describe the symptoms.

Alternating hollowness and tightness in my chest that sometimes climbed into my sinus cavity and out my ears.

The occasional lump stuck behind my lungs like a swallowed hockey puck.

The magnification of every teeny ache, itch, twinge and tingle.

The feeling of uncertainty and dread, like from an impending Jeb Bush presidency.

We looked over my recent blood work (Cholesterol down! Vitamin D up!) and the complete, totally clean physical I had last year.

"What you describe doesn't sound like a cardiac event or anything," Doc Bollywood said.

"I know," I said. "I keep telling myself that. Unless my entire physical condition has changed drastically in a year."

She smiled.

"That couldn't have happened," I said, "could it?"

Doc Bollywood probably started regretting her career choice.

She said, otherwise, I appear perfectly healthy. Since my family has a history of high blood pressure, I should continue to monitor it, but only every other day or so instead of three times a day like I had been doing. Watch the salt. Keep a journal of my panic attacks to see if we detect a pattern to what sets them off. Get some more serious cardio work in three times a week to bring on the endorphins and release the imaginary stresses I've created in my life. Come back in two months and we'll take it from there.

"Let's see if we can stop this before it really starts preventing you from living."


"Living your life. Not 'not breathing.'"

I left her office, walked over to CVS, bought myself a little "freak out" journal to keep around with me and -- 48 hours later -- it's still stone blank.

Unless I've developed Alzheimer's ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


8 clever quips
These digital Uncool acres have been quiet of late. Please forgive.

I'm was hibernating along the Mid-Atlantic shores, glued to The Weather Channel and a six of something frosty, for much of August. My Love kayaked with dolphins and the Things engorged themselves on normally forbidden snack cakes and watered down chlorine all while I lounged quietly, sipping, flipping through a couple of books and a dozen glossy gossip rags while trying not to fret about my imaginary heart condition which of late seems to find its way a little farther out to my lungs and up to my throat, always ending in my head which keeps repeating "there is nothing wrong with you -- stop freaking out, freak" sometimes to good result, sometimes not.

Also, the Internet connection there sucked. Probably a good thing.

So in a bit, I'm off to the doc to see if my borderline blood pressure has decided which side it wants to be on and whether she (yes, yes -- you know my life is ruled by women) thinks it would be more to my advantage to seek medication for me vessels or me noggin.

If she suggests jogging, I'll know that My Love has been in cahoots with her. Oh, she's a sly one that wife of mine.

So while I shiver in a paper nightie, wander over to DadCentric and read what I learned this summer. You can now sign in to comment over there with your Google or Twitter account. So do.

Catch up with you soon.


My Uncool Past