Recipe for How to Really Annoy Chef Gordon Ramsay

I've been catching up on episodes of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares, a show where disorganized and desperate restaurant owners turn to renowned, expletive-chucking chef, Gordon Ramsay, for a complete business revamp-- and a good kick up the bottom.

So after several weeks of keen observation, I believe I have found the right mix of ingredients that, when combined, consistently serve up the biggest, most heaping plate of stinking, steaming annoyance to the King of Culinary Corrections. Let's call it...

Effing Fail Flambé

  • 1 floundering restaurant owner. Must be rigidly firm, tart, bitter, and yet have a surprisingly thin skin.
  • 3 gallons of ignorance about how the show typically works and what Gordon Ramsay is like. Or substitute 3 gallons unrealistic optimism that, to you alone, Chef Ramsay would be a fluffy kitten you could tuck in your pocket.
  • 1 kitchen staff, green
  • 2 cups denial
  • 1/2 pint confusion
  • 1 cup passive-aggression, dry
  • Pinch of ptomaine
  • Self-esteem, shredded
  • Handful of nuts
  • Dash of melodrama
  • Enthusiasm, fresh and zested


Peel restaurant owner, light tempers, then stew over medium heat. Add in ignorance and denial. Warning: contents of pot may separate and spit as chemicals react.

Raise heat to medium-high.

Add in pinch of ptomaine.

Fold in passive-aggressiveness slowly, a little at time until color and texture of mixture changes to dark sticky syrup.

Pour in confusion, and stir throughout.

Let green kitchen staff ripen. Those that remain green, chop. Zest enthusiasm and stir.

Mix in shredded self-esteem, then add a dash of melodrama. Turn up heat to high until at risk of boiling over.

Turn down heat and leave mixture sit to congeal. After a day, fold in remaining passive-aggressiveness. Set on fire. Top with nuts.

When complete, should rate 500 f-words on the Ramsay Scale.

If Spammers Behaved the Same Way in Person

Picture yourself at a party. You're digging the tunes. You've got a small plate holding mystery-filled pastry puffs in one hand, and a frosty beverage in the other. You're chatting to old friends and new. And then the door bursts open.

A person you've never seen before enters. He is wearing a plaid jacket and a big beaming grin. On the jacket, he has pinned hundreds of random items.

He walks over to your discussion group. You've been talking about a movie you all really enjoyed. He listens a moment, smiles, nods and says:

"Roquefort cheese is made through an elaborate process which encourages the cheese to mold. It must be done in a cheese press, promoting air pockets in the milk, and by carefully monitoring air temperature and humidity. To learn more about buying fresh bleu cheeses, check this out."

He unclips one of the products on his jacket and hands it to you. It is a Wide World of Bleu Cheese brochure and something which may or may not be an actual sample of bleu cheese, but which smells suspiciously like rubber.

You hand it back to him saying you're lactose unsupportive, excuse yourself and decide to join another group quickly-- one perhaps less... cheese-infested.

Here, your friends are talking about some hot new technology you find fascinating. But you're only there for a moment when the Plaid-Clad Stranger shows up again. You're just in the middle of saying why you prefer this new technology over the old, when the stranger taps you on the shoulder and interjects:
"Conundrum spatula seven colander summertime Lord Byron hiccups."

You blink. Everyone in your circle stops what they're doing and stares.

The stranger doesn't seem to notice this reaction. In fact, he looks terribly pleased with himself. And this time, instead of passing out a brochure, he saunters away to another group of guests himself.

Well, now you're wondering what's wrong with this guy. Your eyes track him to where the host of the party is standing. The host is busy refreshing drinks, introducing folks who haven't met each other before, and making everyone feel at home.

And right in the middle of pouring martinis, the Plaid Stranger stops the host with a firm hand on his arm and proclaims:

"I like this forum. It is very good informative and overflow with happy niceness. I will return much often.... Antarctic brides! Meet hot Antarctic brides!"

And he thrusts one of the packages from his jacket at the host, which appears to be a knock-off Barbie doll wearing a fur hat with earflaps. The host is frozen with confusion. And that's when the stranger starts grabbing at the host's pants pocket, trying to relieve him of his wallet.

A few guests slap the Stranger off. "What are you doing? Who is this guy? Did you invite him? I didn't invite him!"

At this point, the Stranger is being ushered out of the room, shouting in a tongue no one understands:
"Uybay ymay oductspray! Akemay igbay ashcay! On'tday ismay outay!"

The host is explaining desperately that, no, he has no idea who this guy is and maybe they should call the cops. Together, you manage to shove the Plaid Stranger out of the apartment, and you lock the door behind him.

Hands trembling with irritation, your host is pouring himself a martini. He shakes his head and pours you one, too. He says this is the third time this has happened this week, and he just keeps reporting it.

You can still see the shadow of stranger's feet hovering outside the door.

"Good morning, Sun Shines! " he says through the wall. "But I think you're wrong! This is very helpful to me but needs more gooder information yet. Contact me to discuss!"

So you do the only logical thing you can think of. You turn the music up. Way up.

Let the Bon Essuie-Tout Rouler!

I was looking for a little snack this weekend and decided to pop-up a nice bag of... well... "Mantequilla Extra."

It used to be called "Butter Lover's." I'm sure of it. But I noticed this particular package seems to be trying to expand its multi-cultural horizons. Y'know, taking language classes in the evenings. Wanting me to better myself, by proxy. And sharing vital information on the 0g de grasa trans sin colesterol inside of it-- to say it's corazone healthy.

It also contains a whole 3 bolsas... So value for pesos, too, really.

I feel slightly pressured to have it with an ice cold cerveza next time.

What's more, I suspect the microwave popcorn has been taking these evening classes en Espanol with my saltines.
Yes, the Zesta crackers for my soup have gone "originales." And they're not just saltines anymore, either. They're "galletas saltine"...

, here, meaning: "crush them up quickly before anyone notices you eat soup like a five-year-old... arriba, arriba, andalé!"

I thought for a moment I saw Ernie the Keebler Elf wearing a sombrero and poncho in the logo, baking the galletas saltine in his enchanted Saguaro cactus. But I guess I was mistaken.

Interestingly, my paper towels seem to be taking a French class at the same place the popcorn and saltines are digging the Spanish...
I grab an essuie-tout to wipe the mantequilla off my face, thus making every snack a moment worthy of a United Nations address.

And even my tea packet has chimed-in in its own special way. Right now it's trying to get me all introspective...

"The rhythm of life is when you experience your own body, mind and soul," it says with a wink.

(Well, it would wink if it had eyes. Trust me. It's a cheeky tea.)

So I guess there must be philosophy classes down at the same place all the cool, hip merchandise is becoming reeducated in languages.

Frankly, I think the tea is getting a little above itself. It sounds like it's been hanging out with the fortune cookies and the Snapple. Spending time on the shelves in witty banter, new age music tinkling in the background.

But hey-- at least it's in English.

King Tut's Royal Image Vizier

Recently, technology has given us all new insights into the life of King Tut-- revealing that ancient Egypt's Golden Boy didn't just sit around putting on eye-makeup, making decrees, and giggling over erotic cartouches like other Boy Kings.

No, young Tutankhamun also suffered from a cleft palate, a club foot, and a good old-fashioned case of malaria.

Now, this comes as a surprise to many of us, who have pretty much pictured him as a Richie Rich in a loincloth, up to his fake beard in gold home accessories and cats.

But that's just thanks to the ancient Egyptian PR and damage control tactics of one very talented Royal Image Vizier.

This is how it all started.

VIZIER: Tut babysweetieboobie, how ya feelin'?...

Pardon?.... "Mired and Foogurts"? What are they-- a new Giza lawfirm or something?

Oh, you mean you're tired from the malaria and from dragging that club foot around... Sorry, kid, it's a little hard to understand you with that cleft palate.

Well, here's the thing, Tutty-baby. Don't you worry about any of that, I've got it all worked out.

See-- yes, soon you're gonna be introduced as the ruler of Egypt, the representative of the gods on Earth...

(A pretty nice living, if I do say so myself, congratulations. I'd like a gig like that myself some day.)

But as we both know, the people of Egypt have some expectations for their living gods. And mumbling and dragging a leg ain't it, ya follow me? You don't want to go down in history as King Gimpy al-Mushmouth.

So here's the dish, Tut-baby. For the clubbed foot. We've developed a new thing. It's a twist on the Royal Litter. But instead of four eunuchs carrying you around on a silk stretcher, we've built this throne with a big hollow platform under it.

And what we do is, we have the four guys inside it, moving you around from underneath. Nobody can see 'em, and it looks like you're gliding around unaided. It'll be really god-like, it'll drive the crowds wild, trust me....

What do we call it?...

Well, we're thinking of calling it the "PharaohRound." Yeah, we're working on the copyright for that now. I'll let you know when it comes through. Anyway, I think you'll like it. Very comfortable. Very regal. It's a good look for you. And nobody'll see that foot.

Okay, so next, there's the cleft palate issue. Since reconstructive maxiofacial surgery won't be invented for a few years yet, and the people need to be able to hear your royal announcements, we've got a thing we'd like to try.

Yeah, just something to get your message to the people without them knowing about your little oral presentation problem.

Now, what we're thinking is, you've already got the guys under the Pharaohround, right?

Well, one of them will memorize your speeches in advance and saythem for you. You, meanwhile, will just move your mouth to the words at the same time as he does. So it will sound like it comes from you...

Yes, it is innovative. We're calling it Lip-Sphinxing, on account of how the Sphinx was known for his wisdom and gift for gab.

Yeah, I like it, too.

So anyway, with the Pharaohround and the Lip-Sphinxing, I think we'll be able to get you through this. You can pose for a few golden statues, we'll prop you up for a few strategically-placed wall paintings... everybody will buy it, no problem. And—

What's that Tut-baby?... Oh, what do you do about groupies?

Well, I'd just keep quiet if I were you. Girls dig the silent type.

Anyway, since you wear more makeup than a tattooed temple dancer, you might not have to worry about that.

We'll cross that aquaduct when we get to it, knowwhatImsayin'?

Variations on the Pittsburgh Chair Law

My town, Pittsburgh, dances to the beat of its own stadium organist.

For instance, the 'Burgh believes there's nothing odd about tucking french fries inside your sandwich-- and while you're add it, slap a little cole slaw in there, too.

It believes that anybody making a left turn has a God-given right to go first, nevermind those pesky traffic laws or that giant truck barreling down on you head-on.

It stands for helping stranded motorists just because it's the right thing to do. It believes in never-ending potential for Steelers Superbowl stardom even if half the players are in full-body casts.

And it believes that once you dig your parking space out, like astronauts on a moon landing, you are permitted to symbolically claim it as your own.

And this can only be done properly by putting a chair in it.

Now, these chairs may look like ordinary chairs, but the moment they step a leg outside, they gain magical properties. That chair instantly stakes your claim. It renders that chair unmovable by foreign entities under penalty of instant epidermal liquification or a good punch in the snoot.

For Snowapolooza 2010, however, I'm noticing some creative variations on the Pittsburgh Chair Law.

I myself have never taken advantage of the Chair Law until this year. But after spending an hour digging out the space in front of my house-- resulting in my need to buy stock in a name brand Ibuprofin manufacturing company-- I was friggin' well going to make sure that spot was waiting for me at the end of a hard day.

But alas! I had no moisture-resistant chair available to sacrifice to Mother Nature! So, in an irreverent twist on tradition, I went for the Tall Kelly Green Plastic Recycling Bin.

My next door neighbors, I noticed, have selected a Homebound Resident Toilet Chair as their snowtime statement-- an interesting spin on the usual chair motif.

I have spied Tailgating Cupholder Chairs... Reappropriated Dairy Milk Crates in Leaning Tower of Pisa-like formations... and my new favorite: a stack of colorful desk "inboxes," a rainbow of hope in a tundra of white endlessness.

Come spring, these items will once again return to their original functions. Back again to the home office, the den, the spot cradling the bottom of Great-Uncle Alfie.

Or perhaps they'll end up curbside on bulk trash day. Having served their purpose for one cold, crystalline season. Having enjoyed a few months elevated as the one object that guaranteed a small moment of reprieve, of ease, in the relentless winter struggle of Man Versus Street Parking.


Question of the day:
Does your city have any odd unspoken rules visitors find confusing or funny?

The First Presidential Mardi Gras Birthday Party

Presidents' Day meets Mardi Gras in unprecedented proximity this year, one of my friends observed with some enthusiasm. But while I understand he was merrily envisioning giant paper maché Lincoln and Washington heads leading the parade down Bourbon Street, I'm afraid I've had other visions.

Visions of ol' Honest Abe flashing what's under his shawl and stovepipe hat for beads...

"Four score and seven plastic necklaces ago, this forefather enjoyed his first Hurricane from Paddy O'Briens..."

...And images of our buddy George munching on a po' boy sandwich and trying not to lose his false teeth in an unfortunate Cajun shrimp slippage.

"I cannot tell a lie. Hoooooo-dawggeee, dis po'boy is deeee-licious, cher!"

I can just see them snickering at the "antiques" in the French Quarter...

"Ha, an 18th century desk for $15,000 dollars? They must have completely flipped their wigs!"

And going in to the Amazing Madame Zelda's House of Vague Fortunes and Fresh Crepes.

"I'm not sure what this means, Mr. Lincoln, but I'm getting this strong message that where ever we seat you today, we must make sure it's not a booth."

But most of all, I can see them enjoying what New Orleans is truly famous for (y'know, aside from voodoo, loose women and pickpockets) --

The music.

Which inspired me to write some lyrics just for them during this very special occasion. (I must add my most sincere apologies to Lionel Richie...)

So dear Prezes the time has come,
You wooden toofed and bearded ones,
To set aside the votes to be won
Let the music play on (play on, play on, play on...)
Filibusters rap and politicians dance
Don't lose yourself in gov-er-nance
It's the first Party
We ever agreed on together
Come on and sing along
It's the first Party
We ever agreed on together
Come on and sing along
All night long...

All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long (all night), All night (all night)
All night long! (all night), Ooh, yeah (all night)

Leaders dancing all in the street
Shiny buckles on their feet
Chop that tree, the cherries sweet
Let the music play on...(Play on, play on, play on...)
Be it democrat or republican
Join the dance, you know you can
It's the first Party
We ever agreed on together
Come on and sing along
It's the first Party
We ever agreed on together
Come on and sing along
All night long...

All night long (all night), oooh, (all night)
All night long (all night), yeaz, (all night)
All night long (all night), yeah, (all night)
All night long (all night)...(all night)

Yeah, this is one platform you can't vote down
Leap on the stage, it's the talk of the town
Nobody's taxed by their troubles today
Blackmail tomorrow, and oh, how you'll pay!

Pundit lobby spin de me-dya
Hey veto, veto
Way to party line is goin'
Oh, party line
Pundit lobby spin de me-dya
Yeah, veto, veto

Bipartisanship is neat (all night)
But just on Bourbon Street (all night)
All night long! (All night)
Yeah, I said, (All night)
Bipartisanship is neat (all night)
But just on Bourbon Street (all night
All night long! (All night)
Feel good! Teeth wood! (All night)
(All night to fade)

Happy Presidential Mardi Gras Birthday everybody! Tell me how you plan to celebrate this special occasion...

(Aside from now trying to get this song out of your head. HAAAAAAA....)

Snow-My-God and the Good Samaritans

Not once, but twice. Twice did I get my car stuck yesterday in the Great Untasty Icee that is our Pittsburgh streets.

I didn't hear the full story of the reason our fair city was allowed to become a geographically-diverse, mud-and-salt-flavored Snoopy Snow Cone... Though rumors reached my ears that Mayor Skippy, our pimple-faced Frat-Boy-In-Charge, was off rockin' his 30th b-day outside the 'Burgh and forgot-- in the frenzy of pinatas, pints and ponies-- to call home and let loose the plows.

(I don't actually believe that, of course. He'd also need a clown who made balloon animals to truly distract him.)

Anyway, as it was, I've been driving around with a snow shovel as my co-pilot. It sits in the front seat and doesn't say much... occasionally tries to mess with my stereo and I have to slap its handle.

Ice Encounter One, during the morning commute, had me grateful that shovel was there and could earn its keep instead of just trying to change my CDs.

I'd made the mistake of obeying a stop sign at a four-way stop, where traffic was coming from all angles. And that one moment of Good-Doo-Beeness and Not Crashing turned out to my downfall. I was well and truly sunk.

But as I turned around with a curse on my chapped lips and my third shovelful of seasonal muck, there stood two burly truckers, guys delivering to a local business. Who, with nary a word, unwedged my little car from the arctic slop and sent me on my way waving.

Cheers, guys! You are My Saviors of the Snowbank.

Then evening came, and I'd fled work with visions of pajamas and pot pies in my head. And that's when impatience and a polar ice cap brought me down to earth again for Ice Encounter Two.

This time, not only did I manage to get the car stuck, I managed to do it in a way I was blocking every single one of my coworkers who'd parked in our lot from leaving to go home.

Yes, if you're going to do something stupid, it's good to do it big and inconvenience as many undeserving people as possible. That's my motto!

(Wordy, yes, motto-wise, but I haven't had time to edit it down.)

Now, it turns out my colleagues-- much smarter than I in the ways of winter and not-sticking-- were able to use their knowledge of Advanced Slop Physics, and Nascar, and Driving Better Than Jenn to help me unwedge from Predicament Two. And they were far more good-natured about it than I ever would have been to me, I might add.

So seeing as it appeared to be a full-office exercise in teamwork, I really need to reward these good people with some sort of goodies for their help. (As any office drone knows, nothing says, "thank you" like free food.) Only I realize that I'd probably have to drive to do it. Making way for the unfortunate possibility of Ice Encounter Three.

Not happenin'.

So, perhaps when the snows melt a bit and the birds begin to sing their song, I can do a proper old-fashioned office "thank you." One that fully expresses how much I appreciate their good cheer, their effort, and their not letting me freeze to death in the alley like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

I must choose something that will make them happy. That will emphasize the joy they gave me. Yet it must be symbollic.

I can just imagine the look of surprise on the cashier's face as I order 20 Rita's Italian Ices to go.

Stay safe, folks!

Social Media Contrarianism or All the Cool Kids are Doing It

"Who Am I Stalking?" Saturday...

Post the Color of Your Bra in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness, or Technicolor Boobs, or the American Foundation Garment Foundation of America...

Virtual gift swaps, and Which Teletubby Would You Be If You Were Creepy and Mono-syllabic quizzes... And Post the Fruit You Most Resemble Weeks and... I don't know... Photograph Your Favorite Fish Day...

It seems the more the social media wants me to do something, the less I want to participate.

I clearly have Social Media Contrarianism.

And I feel guilty about it... I really do... because my online friends are a great bunch of people. Folks I love reading, exchanging ideas with, and getting glimpses into their lives.

But I don't also need to glimpse into their underpants. Especially en masse. There are some things best left to the imagination.

Plus, it's the marketer in the back of my mind (well, maybe not the back, more of the frontal lobe region) that keeps whispering how all of these Facebook apps are not-so-subtlely based on some never-ending cycle of reciprocity that isn't about us at all.

I give you a Farmville cow, you give me crap... er, fertilizer... fertilizer for my fields.

You demonstrate your loyalty to my mafia family by a well-executed hit, I "Make" your little brother Vinnie.

I buy you virtual mockingbird, you buy me a virtual diamond ring.

Until suddenly, we're drowning in this giant time-suck whirlpool. Virtual cows swim by. And virtual Auntie Ems. And when we look around us, the only one who ends up with anything tangible to show for it is Facebook, who just waved six extra hours of ads for whiter teeth in front of our eyeballs.

So my Facebook Event Invitations pile up like the snow on my car.

And Twitter FollowFridays are left unstalked.

Open Houses in the Farmville real estate market will not find me attending, inspecting potential property investments or enjoying the virtual hors d'oevres.

Perhaps I'm missing out. Perhaps I'm a bad virtual friend. But I'd like to think these same folks know they could count on me if they needed something for real. Something that mattered.

Something that didn't mean active involvement in pixelated livestock hoarding.

Just sayin'.

Of Words, Birds and Bathwater -or- Is Print Really Dead?

With the Kindle, and now the introduction of the unfortunately-named iPad--

(a moniker which was supposed to call to mind a user-friendly suite of products. But which instead sounds like it should involve commercials where two women walk in a sunny field and speak confidentially about monthly discomfort)...

--Er, where was I?

Oh. Yes.... With the introduction of the Kindle and iPad, our friend the Paper Book might be viewed as having taken a hit.

But ever since ancient Egyptian best-selling authors said, "Hey, I've still got two more chapters to write and I've run completely out of wallspace. I'm feeling optimistic about that pile of dried fronds over there," the printed word has shown its ability to evolve.

Wholly-Accurate and Completely Trustworthy History of the Printed Word To-Date
  • Dawn of Time, noonish- First dirty limerick on cave wall well-received by early fans. Critics, however, dub it "the work of Neanderthals."
  • 3800 BC- Ancient Sumerians develop increasingly more elaborate pictograms, these featuring familiar images of birds, bare feet, sheaves, and a man in a bowler hat with an apple in front of his face. The hieroglyphics were originally used to share religious rituals, and to pass down favorite beer recipes. Old Mesopotamia, Old Mesopotamia Lite, Pain in the Asp and Golden Sarcophagus were top award winners at the 3787 BC "Pharaoh of the Brew" competition.
  • 3200 BC- Ancient Egyptians realize tombs are not terribly portable, growing tired of forcing slaves to roll the tomb from place to place using clever pulley and lever systems every time they want to share sports scores and the livestock market. Egyptians develop new fad of writing directly on barges and slaves.
  • 2800 BC- Writing on stone tablets invented after space on slaves becomes limited. These tablets are portable, but heavy and prone to damage.
  • 200 AD- Chinese win the race as Word Superpower, inventing inkblock printing on fabric two seconds before the Egyptians. Japanese adapt the technique for mass producing colorful images of big-eyed young girls in schoolgirl uniforms and brandishing superpowers.
  • 400 AD- European monks use pulp paper to craft elaborate illuminated manuscripts with the forethought of displaying them in the British Library 1500 years later, along with Beatles lyrics on cocktail napkins.
  • 1824 AD- Industrial revolution makes mass printing possible, creating a whole print industry including publishing houses, editors, and slush pile readers hired specifically to reject Charles Dickens' work.
  • 1836 AD- Charles Dickens invents self-publishing. And cliffhangers.
  • 2005 AD- Self-publishing meets the information age, allowing everyone, including your great-aunt who smells like mothballs to finally share her 1,000 page collection of incisive cat haiku.
  • 2010 AD- iPad and Kindle demonstrate that they can go where the printed page has never gone before.... Except for the bathtub.

So as you can see, print is designed to evolve and adapt. And as human society, we must adapt with it.

Why, now that we've created a hard tablet with words printed on it, which is heavy and prone to damage, where will we go next?

My theory is we're probably just one step away from having the very walls of our homes used as a surface to receive and view all important information...

We'll learn eventually.

Snow Day Donner Party Overcompensation Syndrome

Heavy snow accumulation. The words escape the weatherman's lips. It reaches the ear. It travels to the brain.

And it triggers a jittery, uncontrollable need for bread and milk.

Why, even if we're so lactose intolerant we'd get irritable bowel from one lonely Milk Dud....

Even if we're Living La Vida Gluten-Free...

...We Pittsburghers still grab the keys, revv up the car and roar to the closest Giant Eagle supermarket to stock up for three months of total geographic isolation, by buying things that mold and spoil if you look at them the wrong way.

It's tradition.

So, I go to the store and, in an attempt to strike a note of stoic individuality, I buy hamburger buns and coffee creamer.

"These are not milk and bread. They are non-dairy creamer and sandwich fixin's," my shopping basket proclaims proudly. "Judge not, lest thine Wonderbread and Colteryahn 2% be judged."

And, well, while I'm there at the store, I decide I'd better just pick up some more toilet paper, too. Because what if I suddenly develop dysentery during my seclusion? Or... or... scurvy? (Does scurvy involve intestinal issues? No time to look it up, but why take chances?)

Why, I'd be forced to use... I don't know... sheets from the Pennysaver!

And not only would that clog up my drains, but the print would transfer itself in ways I'd prefer to not think about. There are just certain places on the body that do not need ads for purebred pitbull puppies decorating them.

So with toilet paper in tow, I realize I might want also to cook myself a nice hearty breakfast before digging out. To give myself the superhuman energy to move the artic ice caps that undoubtedly will be moving into my neighborhood.

And so I'll need eggs...

And bacon...

And, well, if I want toast, maybe I'll need that loaf of whole grain wheat after all...

I stack it in the basket with a furtive gaze, and in an instant, I feel a flash of chilled hands and frozen toes.

Dear God! Post-shoveling I'll want a cup of tea. Do I have tea in the house?

And in spite of some sense that there's actually stack of tea in the pantry so towering that Earl Grey himself would say "pip-pip" to it, I secure another box. Safety tea, really.

So by the time I've done, my basket is a low-rider and my 12-items-or-less has somehow transformed into the fully-stocked freezer of the Overlook Hotel.

And I can see, by the bulging grocery bags of my fellow shoppers, that I am not the only one. This behavior really needs itself a name. And I'd like to suggest "Snow Day Donner Party Overcompensation Syndrome."

I suspect it's borne of some innate fear that one day, lack of preparation and an Apocalyptic dose of Mother Nature will mean we'd be force to dine on... oh... Grandpa Al to survive.

We know deep down that even if we made it through the crisis ourselves, the post-dinner guilt of noshing on beloved relatives would kill us.

Plus, Grandpa Al is a little stringy.

It's just safer to buy the bread and milk.


Question of the day: In your area, do you see the bread aisle pretty much cleaned out at the first sign of flurries? And are you one of those snowstorm stocker-uppers?


Second Childhood with Hoveround Commercial

Every time I watch the Hoveround ad-- where seniors in power chairs ride around in formation to pseudo-Beach Boys music-- it takes me back.

Back, y'know, to when I was an octogenarian with a hip fracture, and the only way to keep myself in pudding cups and hair bluing was to hit the highways on my mean, lean, geriatric machine.

(I'm like Merlin, you see. I live life backwards. I should be thin, pert, and getting my braces off in just a couple of decades.)



Okay, so... no.

But it does take me back! Back to my childhood in the 7os...

I see the Hoveround commercial, and it's like the smell of fresh Play-Doh suddenly gets ground into my ol-factory senses, instead of the carpeting where it belongs...

And in the back of my mind--

--The only place unaffected by the fumes of those plastic rainbow-colored bubbles we used to squeeze from a tube and blow into shapes with a straw (remember those? the chemicals from that stuff could peel your Kool-Aid mustache clean off)--

In the back of that fume-addled mind, I find myself recalling ads for Big Wheels... Power Wheels... and Sit 'n' Spins.

I can't track it down online to verify, but I swear the Sit 'n' Spin jingle sounded a lot like the Hoveround song:

"Some kids go when they Sit 'n' Spin..."

"I go, go, go on my Hoveround..."

As the word "go" in these examples can indicate both "speed" or "incontinence" equally well for either demographic, I think there might just be something to the comparison.

Something subliminal... Something saying, "Buy this for the senior you love and maybe he'll let you borrow it for some sweet jumps."

Of course, it could just be those fumes again.

So before I leave you today, I treat you to two little blasts from the past-- a 70s Big Wheel ad, and a commercial for the fun... the fumey... Super & Elastic Bubble Plastic:

PS-- If the next Hoveround ads show Grandma, Grandpa and Great-Uncle Pete doing spin-outs, popping wheelies, and jumping ramps in the bingo parlor parking lot, just remember-- you heard about it here first, folks!


Kickin' It at the Kit-Kat Club

(Flash!... Flash, flash!)

I peered over my computer monitor into the yard diagonal from mine.

One cat. (Flash!) Two cats. (Flash, flash!) Three cats. (Flash!) Five.

The flickering illumination revealed the truth of the matter. Backyard motion sensor + city's entire cat populace = kickin' disco strobe light effect and the hottest feline nightclub Pittsburgh has seen in decades.

The neighbors-- and more to the point, the neighbors' large dog-- haven't been home because their house is being renovated. Windows are ripped out. French doors sit waiting. And a deck is being built onto the back...

(Flash, flash!... "Pump up the jam, pump it up...")

...So the Kit-Kat Club All-Nite Rave Party's moved in.

It's a building site theme, natch. Lots of posts and planks for the go-go girls to perch on and shake their tails. And plenty of nooks and crannies for swingin' singles to cat around in.
Far as I can tell, the big yellow tomcat acts as bouncer. Yessir, the fur really flies if you can't pay the cover charge-- and at two mice a pop, he's raking it in.

Plus, they've got some pretty diverse musical acts going on there. Some rising star a cappella boy bands... Some three-part-harmony girl groups...

And then there's the grey-and-white wannabe out there in the zoot suit singing "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby?" along with bass accompaniment. No one's told him the neo-Swing movement died out in the 90s. But hey, he's persistent. Who knows-- maybe with his help, it'll have nine lives, too.

But I could swear I heard him out there practicing Brian Setzer's "Stray Cat Strut."

So now I'm wondering what's going to happen when the construction is done and the neighbors and their dog move back in.

These folks are going to come back to find rancid cartons of kahlua and cream... hairballs swaying gently in the breeze... and catnip bongs under the hedge. They're going to want to use their deck, but every time they barbeque there's going to be this vague scent of urine, upchucked Friskies and stale mice.

And what of the the Kit-Kat Club's patrons? Well, with Fido back in town, they'll have to relocate. Yes, somewhere in the city, alone in the moonlight, they'll smile at the old days; it was beautiful then.

Well, maybe they'll can find themselves a nice junkyard, low on rent, and high on acoustics where they can give the Kit-Kat Club some new life.

And if not... hey... at least they'll have memories.