Friday, December 31

Happy Old Year

It might be lazy journalism, but I love the photos each December 31st, as the New Year sweeps it's merry way from timezone to timezone.

The BBC just showed this picture of the SkyTower in Auckland. It's where I spent my 40th birthday back in August.


It's cool to see friends in Australia wish us a Happy New Year from Facebook, and in a few hours time the Euro contingent will start too.

During the last few days of this year I arranged a business trip to China. I go in a few weeks time, just before their own New Year festivities kick in.

So my January already looks like it should be interesting.

Wednesday, December 29

Ashes to Ashes

Yay.

The England cricket team beat Australia to retain the Ashes.

Rolph Harris, Dame Edna Everage, Steve Irwin, Paul Hogan, Men at Work, your boys took a hell of a beating ...

Tuesday, December 28

Look. At. Me.

I only went and won my Fantasy Football league!

Regular season record - 12-2

And then I breezed through the play-offs and won the league tonight when dog-hating, Chris Rock impersonator "Lil' Micky Vick" failed to score enough points for my co-finalist.

I am vindicated. This fantasy thing is a piece of cake. Long live the NFL Ouchebas!!

Monday, December 27

Road Trip

I cannot say I was thrilled at the thought of this road trip from Cleveland to Boston. Anne and I travel well together, mostly because we know when to give each other a little space. In a Chevy Impala, there is not a lot of space.

Sheila at Hertz was a doll. She started a bit passive-agressive, but I won her over with my compliments and English charm.



We left Cleveland with a collection of "Don't die" type wishes from family and friends.

Anne bust a move on the first session, getting us through Northern Ohio and into the not so great state of Pennsylvania. Meanwhile I worked out how to use the Satellite Radio.

In case you were wondering ... they have a hundred channels, but each channel appears to have only 20 records on rotation. There's only so much Rihanna I can listen to, and I reached it with that fucking Umbrella song 2 years ago.

Giant Eagle has great restroom facilities if you are ever in the Erie, PA region. We stopped there and at WalMart to get lunch, snacks and phone chargers. And then, with me in the driver's seat, Anne worked out how to use the toll transponder, and discovered that some of the satellite channels share their 20 records with each other.

I'd been to Buffalo twice before. I've yet to see the sun there. I can only presume that Buffalo has the highest per capita sales of Vitamin D in the world.

We switched driving somewhere close to Rochester. Home of Kodak. The rest stop was full of people in yarmulkes. This surprised me. I wore a big woolly hat because with wind chill, it felt like minus20 ... C or F ... they're both cold.

Anne's impeccable driving skills took us through much of Upstate New York, during which time I played on my iPad. Once in a while I'd feed her a cookie or a potato chip. I'm always looking out for her. I'm supportive like that.

Albany and into Massachusetts was my gig. Numerous failed attempts to pronounce the place name Schenectady ensued. By now we'd stopped drinking to avoid having to make rest-stops. Anne took over on the Mass Pike. We figured with all the snow in Boston I'd drive the final 30 miles home.

We'd driven home because our flight, along with 1-2 days worth of every other flight on the Eastern Seaboard, was cancelled due to a great blizzard.

As we entered Metro Boston our main question was "Where's the fucking snow?" I'm happy the previous 10 hours was easy-as-pie driving. I did not want to be zig-zagging on the highway, but this was "Day out in the country" driving.

Finally 1 mile from home we hit tricky conditions. I missed a red light and nearly hit a stopped car. In my defense I was also trying to avoid hearing 'Firework' by Katy Perry for the 20th time that day.

By the way ... Katy Perry - the Dollar Store equivalent of Zooey Deschanel.

Crisis averted we managed to get home without a scratch on the rental car and back to our home, sweet home.

Sunday, December 26

A Sick Day

Picking up from last time ....

My Christmas

Dec 24
A day off work. Up at 4am. 6am flight. Soup for lunch. Check in to La Quinta mid-level hotel with free Wi-Fi!! A nap while my in-laws go to church. Perogies. An hour at my Brother-in-law's house.
The last bit was the best part. My B-in-L Bud told me that life's pains go away in your late 40's. I now have something to live for.

Dec 25
2am - vomiting and diarrhea. 3am - as previous but synchronized. Rest of the day is spent in the hotel room sleeping, drinking water, eating bread. Still have free Wi-Fi.

Dec 26
Except for one hour at my in-laws house where I thought I was dying, the whole day is spent in the hotel room. Anne is an angel putting up with my groans and whines.

Dec 27
I lied. Along with Friday, I also took Monday off. Get up. Feel better. Pack suitcase. Flight is cancelled. Call rental car agencies. Snag a car. Drive from Cleveland to Boston.

Friday, December 24

It's the most wonderful time of the year

I've lived in the US for a quarter of my life now. And a few times each year I hear people bitching that Christmas stuff is appearing in stores before Thanksgiving, or they've unveiled the tree at 30 Rock in NYC in early November.

Yada yada yada.

My recollection of England?

As soon as the 'Back to School' selection of protractors, set squares, pencil cases and spiral notebooks sold out (or became too dog eared for even Woolworths to sell) they moved in the Christmas cards, tinsel and fairy* lights ... usually during the 2nd week of September.

* Not sure if they are still called fairy lights, probably get an LGBT complaint on that one.

My point? I'm not sure, but someone needs to shut the fuck up. Probably me.

The UK does not count Halloween as a holiday. Why? Because it isn't one. I find it amusing that God-bothering bible-belters have no problem dressing their kids as whores and bumble bees to celebrate a pagan ritual, but the secular English with their 1,000 year old churches mostly skip the whole thing, and concentrate on Guy Fawkes Day where they celebrate burning Catholics.

But I do like Thanksgiving. It does provide a distraction before Christmas.

It works in the US, because for all the hoopla about little baby JC's birthday, we only get one stinking day off work.

Meanwhile back in England, the land of a 1,000 empty churches, they get 1 to 2 weeks off.

My point? I'm not sure, but someone needs to shut the fuck up. Probably me.

Actually my point is why bother with Christmas in the US when it's no different to a sick day?

Thursday, December 23

Christmas Recipes #2

So tomorrow I set off for the annual Xmas pilgrimage to Cleveland.

Thanks to the wonderfully named blogger Eartha Kitsch, this year I am going to try to make these Party Penguins as an appetizer.

And if you're looking for a recipe to use up those leftover olives, carrots, cream cheese and toothpicks then try Eartha's step by step instructions here.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Recipes #1

I've been singing the song Salade de Fruits all day by André Bourvil.

When I'm surrounded by work, or stuck in traffic I find it makes me smile and relax.

Some smarty-pants on YouTube combined it with an actual recipe for fruit salad. So enjoy.

Wednesday, December 15

Happy Birthday Pancake

It's my darling Anne's birthday today.

Here she is on Mars, because I always get her an out-of-this-world present.

I also got her some socks. Because even though she's inter-galactic - her feet get pretty cold.

Monday, December 13

Allergist

So I'm sat in the allergist office being tested to see if I flare up with a new anti-inflammatory drug.

All very prim and proper. Well. No. The test is literally me taking a pill and sitting on my arse for an hour while the lady with the animal print pj's checks in every 20 mins

The 2nd hour? 3 pills instead of 1 pill.

The allergist himself is speccing out a joinery project. He knows shit about countersinking and heavy gauge. Guess he didn't study that at medical school.

Update. The doc just popped in to ask about my MacBook. Science at work.

Sunday, December 12

When you stop caring

Anne spotted this the other day, so we gave it 24 hours and went back today to see if it had been corrected.

Shouldn't someone at BK Towers be kicking some asses about this?

Hold on, I just realized that perhaps I'm the one out of touch.

OK, I've googled sadwick, and except for some kind of German Dungeons and Dragons game, sadwick is not of any cultural significance.

So back to the BK in Somerville near Target. C'mon you lazy fucksticks, there's no excuse for this.

Friday, December 10

Result!

At the time of writing my poor darling wife still doesn't know that I just snagged the 6 hour min-series Bodyline, based on the 1932-33 Ashes series in Australia, when England attacked the Aussies with Leg Theory and head shots.

After 2 weekends of listening to live Ashes cricket, this weekend will be spent watching.

Yay for me. Boo for Anne.

Thursday, December 9

Engaged

I popped the question to my missus on this day 15 years ago.

We'd gone to St. Paul's Cathedral and I had the notion of proposing in the famous whispering gallery.

Sadly a bunch of Jap tourists stood between me and my darling wife to be, and I had no intention of getting a bunch of "Hi"s and bows from the Harajuku Girls.

Plan B - We climbed to the outside balcony high above the city.

All set to whip the ring out and get down on one knee, except we were surrounded by nuns.

I contend they were tourist nuns ... which is even worse. They would not fuck off, instead they kept looking at the grey London skyline.

In a strange moment of atheist etiquette I felt guilty about using a church to propose. And I felt the nuns were sent by God to piss me off.

Then suddenly they buggered off. I kind of got on one knee, whipped out the ring, and with a quick "yes" from my newly created fiancé we went to The London Dungeon ... The Museum of Torture. I think they call that foreshadowing in movies ....

Wednesday, December 8

Reasons to be Cheerful

So yes, I'm bummed out by this whole wrist thing.

But it's not all bad news ... I was selected to be in the Cambridge Who's Who.

Once great packaging design specialist now spends all day whining on blog ....

MRI Update


Here's a mystery sign from the MRI Dept.

5 minutes later I was in the oversized medical gown, on my way to the big buzzing MRI machine.

They took 16 scans of my fragile wrist that took more than an hour to shoot.

3 days later my slightly passive aggressive doctor (who did not order the MRI), said "It shows nothing I didn't already know from the X-Ray".

Sadly the other thing my doctor doesn't know is why my wrist started hurting in the first place.

He does know why it hurts today, because he stuck a big fucking needle full of cortisone into it.

Tuesday, December 7

Rats!

Rat in curry prompts cull at Bangladeshi university
By Ethirajan Anbarasan
BBC News, Dhaka

University officials in Bangladesh have ordered a major rat extermination drive after rodent meat found its way into chicken curry served to students.

The incident happened at Rajshahi University in western Bangladesh.

"One student detected the head of the rat while eating his lunch. That student instantly suffered a stomach upset," a spokesman told the BBC.

Soon after the incident hundreds of angry students staged a demonstration demanding action against the chef.

The chef has now been suspended and handed over to police who have been called in to investigate the incident.

"I told the students to stop eating in the dining hall of the university for two days. A drive to kill the rats in the dining hall is going on," university proctor Chowdhury Mohammad Zakaria told the BBC.

"It is a very unfortunate event and some 300 angry students gathered and protested against the unhygienic condition of food served in the university's dining hall.

"I must say that if I found rat meat in my food, I also would not be able to control my temper."

It was not immediately clear whether the rat meat was mixed with chicken curry intentionally.

In September 2009, a farmer was crowned Bangladesh's champion rat catcher after leading a team which he said killed more than 80,000 rodents in a month.

Mokhairul Islam was awarded a colour television at a ceremony attended by 500 farmers and officials in Dhaka.

The University of Rajshahi is one of the largest universities in the country and the largest in the northern region of Bangladesh.

Wednesday, December 1

A Good Sign

I love our local liquor store and I love that we call it a liquor store rather than the milquetoast 'off licence' in the UK.

Sav-Mor (that's 2 spelling mistakes), sell wacky beers I've never heard of, from places you didn't think make beer. They're all stacked up in the back covered in dust, with ripped labels. To get there you wade through the domestic light beer department and the wine selection that features the value end of the market.

I'm surprised a buzzer doesn't go off so that the foul-mouthed staff know a pretentious Cambridge Euro-git is in the store not buying Coors, Miller or 2-buck chuck.

During Thanksgiving and Christmas this is their straight to the point sign.



Fucking genius.

Tuesday, November 30

Wrist-o-rant

The never ending tale of woe that is my wrist injury continues.

Sadly the doctor cannot prescribe pills that stop me from complaining like a whiny little bitch every day, but I'm on Vicodin now, and woo-hoo am I feeling high.

I'm back at the docs next week, so I thought it might be an idea to schedule an MRI this week.

In this photo it looks like country-singer-superstar Faith Hill is the medical assistant. My appointment is at 5.45am tomorrow morning. I think I'll be the first person in the big metal tube. And I doubt I'll have Faith to keep me company.

In other medical news, I bought one of those daily pill organizers. I take the yellow ones to remind myself to take the green ones ...

What an old bastard I've turned into.

Monday, November 29

© of Monday Night Football

Stuart Scott on ESPN just said

"You look up class on Dictionary.com you'll see a picture of Larry Fitzgerald."

This is false. I checked.

Friday, November 26

Childhood Revisited

One year for Christmas I got a clock radio.

Now I realize this is better than a hoop and an orange which seems to be the go-to old timer present.

Of course it's not as good as an X-Box, iPod and Justin Bieber S&M sex doll which I think all teenagers get this year.

And while we're comparing I should give a tip of the cap to my poor sister who one year in the 1980's got a tartan dressing gown while my parents gave their favorite child (me) an Atari Gaming Console complete with Daley Thompson Decathlon.

Back to the clock radio. I loved this thing because it had a headphone jack. And most winter nights when I should have been sleeping, I would tune the radio into Radio 4 Longwave and listen to the cricket, as England toured overseas.

Wednesday night EST the latest England vs Australia Ashes cricket contest began in Brisbane. Thanks to the magic of the internet and a cool little doo-dad that makes the BBC think my computer resides in the UK I can listen to ball-by-ball coverage of the games.

Throw in a 2 day Thanksgiving holiday and I have a Wednesday to Sunday night, 5 day marathon of listening, that kicks off at 7pm each night. I listen to the first 2 sessions downstairs and then I head up to bed, put the headphones on and nervously listen to the action while Anne nods off to sleep with the feint glow of my laptop illuminating her face.

This makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 23

Ice Cube with a quaint accent and a scarf

Not at all like NWA I fucked tha po-lice this week.

Driving home from an appointment I accelerated onto the highway and was soon zipping along at around the 80 mph mark.

I spotted the police car in the slow lane and slowed down to 65mph, pulling up equal with him as I did.

He slowed to 60, so did I. 55, same again. Down to 50mph and finally I pulled into the middle lane at which point he dropped back and threw the blue lights on.

Cop "What's with the erratic driving?"
Me "I was going too fast. I saw you and slowed down."
Cop "Yes, I slowed down to 45mph and so did you, that's very dangerous in the fast lane"
Me "So you coerced me into dangerous driving?"
Cop "No! No I did not. Not at all"

A few beats of silence.

Cop "You been drinking tonight?"
Me "No".

As I said no I believed I was telling the truth, then it hit me I'd drunk a Coors Light, which is hardly an alcoholic drink, but if we're going to be technical ...

Cop "Not even one?"
Me "Well, one but I'd be glad to take a sobrietry test"

Note I spelled sobriety wrong, but that's how I said it to the cop.

Cop "Huh?"
Me "Sorry Officer, I'd happily take a test, but I struggle to say the word sobrietry"

I delivered this in my best English accent. I'd figured talking funny was my best escape route.

And so it came to pass that 15 minutes later, during which I sat bemused by the side of the highway wondering whether eating a mint would be an admission of guilt, the cop handed me a ticket.

Just a warning. No fine.

As I accelerated away I blasted out some NWA on my stereo. Because that's what middle aged white men do.

Saturday, November 13

Brussels to Leeds

Awoke to a windy and wet Brussels and headed for the train station. Just like yesterday at Heathrow I had to go through British passport control, and just like yesterday I had the following exchange.

Passport Control: Why you traveling on an American passport. Why not use your British passport?
Me: Well I have to re-enter the US on my American passport.
Passport Control: Yeah, but we recognize dual citizenship over here.
Me: I'm on a global passenger list that says I left the US. When I re-enter the US and they see I didn't 'land' anywhere aren't they going to find that suspicious?
Passport Control: Oh yeah. Never thought of that.
Me: Really? That has never come up before?
Passport Control: No. Probably best you travel on your US passport then.
Me: Thanks.

At St. Pancras I de-trained and walked over to Kings X. One Cornish pasty and a Walnut Whip later I caught a train from Platform Zero (really) up to Wakefield. And after a few hours with my mum and dad I headed up to Leeds for College Reunion II.

Seven 40-somethings had a great night reminiscing over former and present glories. Here Boff tries in vain to hide Dave's proudly displayed chest hair.



On the walk from the last bar to the hotel, Boff and I were asked twice if we would like to go to a titty bar. Once by a street-walker and the 2nd time by a guy driving a big van with 'titty bar big van' decal'd down the side.

We said no. Too old I guess.

Thursday, November 11

A Day to Remember

My flight to London was a doozie. The old geezer sat next to me had the worst breath I ever smelled. Add the putrid stains on his trousers and you get the picture. To add insult to nasal injury, I'd paid for an upgrade on the overnight flight, but that meant that my larger seat no longer butted against the window ... which made falling asleep a lot harder.

Landing in England I noticed the smelly fella actually had a wonky face and that's when I realized he was probably a veteran, and that I was a shit for even bitching about his funk. Ah well.

A train, a taxi and another train and welcome to Belgium.

These are my hotel colors.



And this is how those colors are used to furnish the room.

Wednesday, November 10

The homeland of Hercule Poirot

I'm flying to Euroland tonight. Tomorrow morning I land in London and then jump on the Eurostar to Brussels in Belgium.

Spookily, I'm guessing I'll be crossing the Western Front of WW1 in Belgium and Northern France at about 11 o'clock. I'm curious if there will be a minutes silence on the train for Remembrance/Veteran's Day?

Unfortunately, yet predictably, my reasons for visiting are less important.



I'm staying at the Pantone Hotel.

Pantone as I'm sure everyone knows is the vivid ink system used by designers and printers throughout the world (tune in next week for my thesis on TOYO inks).

Well guess what. Pantone have licensed their color system to the hotel. This is very exciting to me. I know it shouldn't be. But it is.

I have no idea what PMS color I will be designated when I check in, but based on this weather forecast, I hope it is something bright and energetic to rid me of jet lag and the grey skies of Northern Europe.



Stay tuned for photos. I hope reality isn't too disappointing.

Thursday, November 4

I'm all grown up

Perhaps not the most spectacular news but we finally added drapes in our living room.

Me and the curtain guy had one of those awkward chats where we exchanged good-intentioned but ultimately pointless design words like aspect, flow, contemporize and cadence.

That said, I love the palette of our treatments ...



That's a golf ball on our fashionably low coffee table. Anne's hurt her foot, and the Titleist is like a mini-massager.

Pink Martini

I dragged the M.R.S to see Pink Martini last night, and what a swell time we had.

After a show I'm always interested to read reviews to see if I'm in touch with the critics.

I've only read one so far, and the opening gambit of the guy from Relix drew my ire!!

Thomas Lauderdale and the band members then took the stage for an instrumental version of the classical composer Ravel’s “Bolero” to open the show

Instrumental version? What other version is there?

There are no words to Bolero ... unless you consider a crazy old lady humming along as she watches Torvill and Dean on Ice as a lyrical interpretation.

Guy from Relix - Douche.
Pink Martini - Awesome.

Wednesday, November 3

What the Hook?

No idea why I'm obsessing about this, but I've been on a mission the last few days to determine how many people have heard of 1970's country-rockers Dr. Hook.

Their quintessential song contains a fantastic double entendre - When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman ... it's hard.

One of the singers in the band wore an eye-patch and played maracas for fuck's sake. How great is that? And they recorded a song called Sexy Eyes. Eyes. Plural. Eye patch. Terrific!

A Little Bit More, Sylvia's Mother the list goes on.

Surely my parents weren't the only people listening to this stuff in the 1970s?

Saturday, October 30

Boner

My wrist has been hurting like a bitch the last few months.

Guessing I have Carpal Tunnel, my bow-tie wearing Doctor sent me to see the "wrist specialist" this week.

The usual 20 questions coupled with the prodding and the poking determined nothing, with maybe the possible exception that the intern thought I was a bit of a pansy. Screw you trainee wrist nurse. I'd give you the wanker sign but my wrist hurts ...

So they ran a bunch of X-Rays and this shit showed up!

Instead of having 3 bones at the base of my hand, I have 2. My lunate and triquetum are fused together.

A few years ago I discovered I have an extra bone in my spine.

Now I just want to get an all-body x-ray to see if I have a bit extra anywhere else ...

In a completely separate comment the doc told me he usually sees this problem in African Americans.

You know I got soul.

Monday, October 25

High School Reunion

So the wife's 25th High School Reunion was a blast.

It's weird to look out on a room of 60 women and know they are all the same age. Going in blind you'd think there was a 25 year age gap between some of them.

Being an all-girls school we were mostly saved from any efforts of re-kindling schoolyard crushes. And of the 30 or so blokes who went along as husbands or boyfriends I was the one deemed to have "a look".

Back in the day the designer look meant stubble and a Don Johnson roll of the jacket sleeves. This week in Ohio I think it just meant "the guy not wearing chinos and an oversized button down shirt".

And so it came to pass that an assortment of ladies shook their assorted asses to hits of the 80's played by a kid who was probably conceived in the 90's. I shudder to think of the royalties Hall & Oates received for this night.

After a few slow jams at night end, the party was breaking up, and as is customary in these situations we began to say our goodbyes. While Anne exchanged contacts with long lost friends, I had a 43 year old mother of four slow grind herself down my leg while she slurred "Come on Hot Dog we didn't dance tonight".

Now admittedly I was wearing a T-Shirt that said Hot Dog, and for a mother of four she was quite attractive, but it's tricky to know what to do in this situation. I have no desire to quash her already low self-esteem, but all I really wanted to do was leave.

Quite naturally I adopted the deer in the headlights pose and begged Anne to get me the hell out of there.

Smooth bastard.

Friday, October 22

To the airport. Once again.

Ohio bound. Tomorrow is Anne's 25th High School Reunion.

I considered not writing how many years, but I think she looks damn good for her age. And now I've compared her to a Buick, I'll also tell you how freaked out I am that some of her schoolmates are grandparents.

"I'm freaked out"

But I'm going in with an open mind. I'll be playing the role of the eccentric Englishman that Anne married. I'm hoping to hear the phrase "He knows shit about College Football, but damn he looks good in that Ascot and monocle."

I'm weighing up the pros and cons of saying "We couldn't have them", when people ask why we have no kids. Or better yet, "We're not allowed" because of some Draconian law drawn up after the War of Independence.

Here I am in my first year at High School. What a Fucking Hipster!

I wish we had organized School reunions, if only to angrily right the wrongs that occurred. It would be fantastic to re-inact the time when half the kids in school would flick gallons of spit and saliva via their bus pass onto the backs of unsuspecting, naive kids in Fred Perry sweaters.

Or watch a bunch of balding 40-somethings hold a kid against a wall while everyone else kicked a soccer ball from point blank range into the kids bollocks.

I'd like to visit my design teacher and tell him he was wrong. Alternatively I could tell my English teacher that he was right.

Happy days.

Back to tomorrow, maybe at the airport I'll be able to pick up one of these bad boys.

America. Fuck yeah! Nothing screams patriotism like a Stars and Stripes neck pillow.

Land of the (neck spasm) Free!

Monday, October 18

Not the greatest Blues song ever but ...

I woke up this morning ... itchin' like a bitch

So I jumped into the shower guessing that perhaps I was having a reaction to something on my skin, then in perfect horror movie style I wiped the mirror free of condensation to reveal I was a godawful freak.

My face was swollen. I looked 15 years older, and had sillier lips than when Meg Ryan had her collagen mistake a few years back.

Walking back into the bedroom I woke up Anne and said "We have to go to ER".

Anne was Cool Hand Luke. She calmly observed my hive riddled torso, dressed, gave me some Benedryl and bundled me into the car. A taxi moving like a drowsy snail held us up for a while, so Anne rode his tail until he pulled over like an old lady pulling a caravan on a Sunday afternoon jaunt in the countryside.

Once in ER, they jabbed me with a cocktail of stuff administered from one of those liquid bags that looks like the world's worst breast implant.

I'm fine. What sucks is that I had to miss my 'Hand Doctor' appointment. The past few weeks have been agony. A click of the mouse hurts like crazy, and that sucks when your only talent in life is clicking a mouse.

Sunday, October 17

The Wedding of the Year

It's a witnessed fact that last year at the previous family wedding I got blindingly drunk and became the de-facto post-party entertainment.

So this wedding I kept my alcohol intake down to just 9 beers, and 3 glasses of wine. That's positively prudish.

This time around my nephew bagged the MVP award for his drunken slow dancing shenanigans, but all in all the evening went off with awesomeness. If such a word exists. Which I guess it does because I didn't get the annoying red squiggle underneath the word.

I should probably reveal that it was my niece Mandy who was marrying her handsome beau Brandon. I don't have any photos of them, but trust me they looked great.

Instead I have this smorgasbord of drunken debauchers, from the fantastic photo booth.

Anne, her 3 brothers and President Barack Obama



Mrs Anne Taylor + 1 Guest

Friday, October 15

The Seattle Seahawks

We flew into Chicago last night for the wedding of the year ... at least in our family.

Check in wasn't exactly smooth at the Wnydham, but after 10 minutes we were handed the plastic card with the flimsy magnetic strip (oh how I miss keys), and off we headed for the 17th Floor, which happened to be the top floor no less.

In the words of white guys impersonating blacks guys "Damn". Our suite was almost as big as the crazy-ass suite I had in Hollywood earlier this week.

We are here for 3 days, and 3 different wedding events, so we hung up all of our clothes, and even put underwear in the drawers!

This morning we had breakfast with Anne's dad, and an hour later with her mom. They're not divorced, they just get up at different times!

With 2 breakfasts in my belly I returned to the room. No entry!

So I trudged back down to reception to be told 'someone' had booked the whole of the 17th floor, and we had to move our stuff out immediately.

I did my usual huffing and puffing, and got a $50 rebate. After re-packing and moving down to the 12th floor I noticed a bunch of 300lb brothers with diamond earstuds checking in.

And so it came to pass that the Seahawks fucked-over both me and Jay Cutler this coming weekend.

Thursday, October 14

Crazy tree bloke

We finally had a guy come round with a cherry picker and a chainsaw today.

Here he is cutting off chunks of tree right outside our bedroom window, which is on the 3rd floor of the house!

We live behind the Courthouse in Cambridge, notice the Court security guys watching from the loading bay at the bottom of the photo. They've been there for an hour.

That's our tax dollars at work right there.

Tuesday, October 12

C'mon Man

Long sentence alert.

So in my sophomore year of Fantasy NFL I am again aiming to prove that any monkey born outside the US and therefore without any cultural or social attachment to football but with a vague knowledge of mathematical logic can outsmart a stupid fuck who thinks he's hot shit just because he has a replica Patriots jersey, drinks Bud Light, played DB at High School, and knows enough to be dangerous about the College draft.

NFL


Yahoo


I'm just sayin'

Sunday, October 10

oh no you di'n't

I once found myself in a Fire + Ice restaurant with a middle aged Texan man.

When told by the 18 year old waiter that they did not have his choice of beer, the Texan replied,

"Kid, don't make your problem my problem".

I made a mental note to one day, use that myself.

For the uninitiated Fire + Ice is a moronic "pick out your own food, and watch it grilled in front of you" concept loved by idiot kids. Apparently it is also a sexual act involving (in no particular order) whisky, a tongue, ice and a butt.

Either way, Fire + Ice is not my thing. As usual I've digressed.

Another place I did not want to be was the Enterprise rental office in LAX at 11.30pm last night.

The guy who handled my reservation was real nice, and apologized that their computer was down. Using good old fashioned triplicate paper we worked through the problem until it came to what size car I had ordered. I confessed that I had no idea. At this point the woman of color next to him jumped in and decreed that I should know this info.

I smiled and admitted that my Business Manager had placed the reservation.

"Sir, sir ....", oh how I love to receive the Double Sir. This lit my fuse.

"Lady (note I did not double down on the lady opening), don't make your problem, my problem."

"Excuse me?" Two simple words but delivered with wide eyes, a shoulder shake, and three very deliberate syllables. All that was missing was the 'z' snap.

It went downhill from there ... which is probably why I ended up in a shitbox Kia Rio ... and to be fair, downhill is the best place to be heading in a Kia Rio.

Saturday, October 9

Cooze

Anne and I were once almost bumped off a flight in Amsterdam because one of us gave a touch too much attitude when the flight attendant pushed in line at security. But hey, that's Anne always angry and pushing buttons.

I'm much calmer. Obviously.

Traveling on a Saturday afternoon is very relaxing. Not many flights equals short lines at security. That didn't stop the AA bitch cutting in front of me with her 5 bags. They're all linked together so I guess that makes them 1 bag.

Ho hum, no rush but noticeably no thank you either. Well as they say in middle school French classes "quelle surprise". She had incorrect items in her bags. So the 8 bucks an hour guy who failed his xray class had to pull her bags out and rescan and therefore hold me up. During this phase the cooze walked in front of me 3 times. Each time brushing into me. Each time without a fucking grain of humility or apology.

As she whined to the TSA guy, I said "I guess you don't travel much. These rules have only been in place for 5 years"

"I'm a flight attendant", she replied.

"Wow I had no idea", I said as I looked up and down her bri-nylon blue outfit with complimenting brooch and scarf.

I'm sat in the lounge waiting to board. I've seen her twice again. I'm praying she's on my flight.

Thursday, October 7

A Slight Contradiction



The missus and I are both known to run with the old, "We love the different seasons of New England" line.

And yet as soon as the temperature drops a few degrees we have the heating on and we start thumbing through winter sun destinations.

Last week my mum said, "You're not going to Acapulco this year are you". I have no idea if I should put a question mark at the end of that quote. It was more of a statement given that a bunch of tourists were hijacked by a drug cartel last weekend.

Last winter we went to Florida. It was so so. Full of Floridians. Bummer.

So next February we're off to the Cayman Islands - which is odd, because that's when the Boston winter is at its most lovely.

Tuesday, October 5

Another Chocolate Story

In late August of 97, on a Saturday, during the last days of a warm summer, I traveled to Rosenberg, a small rural town with a massive print facility in Southern Germany.

With their predictable sense of punctuality and efficiency, the print company picked me up at Munich airport in a sparkling brand new Mercedes minivan.

With equal predictability the Turkish guy they were also picking up was late. When he finally arrived and entered the minivan he was wearing a fez. He nodded and said one word to me. The word was "Goodbye".

I took my book out of my bag and began to read during the 2 hour ride. I would later regret this.

Arriving in Rosenberg I was treated to a fish supper. Not great.

Sunday morning and the first press approval for Hungarian chocolate bars designed by an English agency.

The printer had fiddled with our files. The first design looked nothing like I expected.

So. Sunday on a long weekend with nobody to call today or Monday. I made an adjustment the best I could and approved the first of 8 chocolate bar wrappers. The next approval would be in 4-5 hours time. Back in my room I finished my book.

I was now staring down at 48 hours in rural Germany with nothing to read or listen to. The print rep, Hans as I recall, challenged me to a game of chess, and beat me in 19 moves.

Next we went on a drive to the nearest town. Now, I may be a cynical bastard when writing a blog, but I can be a gracious guest in real life. As we drove around this boring town I made all the right noises and approvals about the town square and the maypole.

Until he started apologizing for the Nazi regime.

Awkward.

Do not mention zi war!

The longest 2 days of my life followed. For kicks I would walk to the village store, which had 3 magazines - none of which were pornographic, which breaks one stereotype I suppose. German celebrity magazines are full of guys in leather jackets and chicks with underarm hair.

After the 8th approval, I was ushered into a side room and offered one of two gifts. I rejected a chess board.

Why?

Here's why.



Postscript.

When I got home the design agency rejected all of my approvals. Fucksticks!

Saturday, October 2

Give us a Kiss

There's been a small individually wrapped piece of chocolate on the urinal at work all week.

There is an irony to the specific chocolate too. Of course I work with a bunch of people for who irony means "Sort of containing iron?"

Standing in front of a urinal taking a "Gypsies Kiss", is common to anyone with a passing knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang. Throw in the fecal connection to Hershey's and there really is no better small individually wrapped piece of chocolate to balance on a urinal than the Hershey's Kiss.

The cleaners get $500 a month but I guess they don't do chocolate removal.

Sunday, September 26

Weekend smiles.



Anne came home with these velour tracksuit style flowers yesterday. No idea what they are, but they look and feel bizarre.

The squirrels that are running sprints on the roof. Time to hide your nuts fellas.

The groovy new white desk, credenza and book case we bought for our home office (half a point taken off because it is self-assembly)

The word credenza. Also while we are in that ball-park. The word cadenza - always a sign that you were a great musician.

Imaging our old cat Isobelle in our new house. She'd have sensory overload in this place.

Buying baby gifts in Bird by Bird in Inman Square.

The curry from Friday night that I can still taste Sunday morning.

The Iced Coffee from 1369 and the cavalcade of hipster twats wasting time in there.

People watching in Whole Foods. Funky, weird, cool, nerdy, super hot, stereotypical, straight, gay, somewhere in-between, 350lb brothers, tiny Asians, symmetrical tattoos, modern parents and their little Tarquins, mini-shorts, puffy skirts, jump suits.

People watching in Shaws. Lottery players, big latinas, skin complaints, single parents and shitty kids, crazy old broads, pasty chicks, Community College guys, Zip-car renters, sweatpants.

A full day of Fantasy Football.

This one's for my parents - they wanted to see our motorized blind in the bedroom!

Friday, September 17

That'll Do Nicely

I have a personal AmEx Card. I have a business AmEx Card. The rewards were being combined. I asked for them to be split.

There. I managed to write that in less than 25 words.

After 15 minutes on the phone AmEx said they had worked out what I wanted.

Sadly they moved 250,000 Business points into my personal account. Good for me. Bad for my business colleagues.

Just did another 15 on the phone. Again AmEx say it is all sorted out. We'll see.

Reminded me of the this spoof ad from the 80s.

I'm 2 lite beers away from this

So we're off to Cleveland this weekend to see Anne's family. The Browns are at home so I suggested we go see the game.

It's not like the Browns are the Patriots, consequently I would expect to be able to afford tickets somewhere close to the 50 yard line. For those not in the know, this is where the middle-class people sit.

My nephew called and announced he had snagged us 2 tickets. The big news? We're in the die-hard crazy bastard section behind the end zone.

In Cleveland this is called the Dawg Pound.



It should be fun, and who knows after a couple of cold domestic beers maybe I'll be 'that' guy, who dons the Dawg mask and takes his shirt off to reveal a big 'C' written across his chest.

Just in case I'll Sharpie pen a 'B' onto Anne's chest before the game.

I've nothing to say about this guy except "Wow".

Friday, September 10

Arboriculturalist

A second cousin to the more well known 'rapist', the arboriculturalist is someone who comes round your house, checks out your foliage, and then charges you an exorbitant price to 'give it a trim'.

We have a single tree with branches that are getting close to the roof. 3 swishes of the chainsaw and a flick of the chipper switch and you're good to go.

And then a few trees (notice I use the generic term 'tree', I have no clue what they are) at the back of our yard. The neighbor actually likes the privacy - she does not care to see my deck-based Tai Chi morning ritual. So in other words they need a little pruning.

The missus got a quote last week that came in at $900.

I was sure they saw her as some kind of Mac-using, liberal, chickee-dee Cambridge socialite with cash to burn, so I got another estimate this morning.

My guy has quoted $1,450. Maybe it's time to buy a big ladder.

Monday, September 6

As American as it gets

My wife, aka the eternal optimist, was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. Subsequently she has a pathological love for the Cleveland Browns football team.

As an alien to these shores it also meant that I became a fan by proxy. Sure, I don't have the optimistic disease, but I want them to win. In fact I'm predicting a massive 6-10 season for them this year.

Browns quarterbacks are like British red buses. You wait an age for one to come along, then 2 come at once, and they're both shit.

This year is no different. They've signed 2 old slappers, but then Anne told me about the 3rd string guy. He's the new kid on the block.

His name is Colt McCoy. Is there anything more Americansounding than Colt Fucking McCoy?

This guy must shit BBQ.

He went to college in Texas and he's a Christian! Tell me he wears one of those big silly hats and has a belt buckle the size of a fist with his name brand-ironed into it.

Expect to see him in October when the management team have given up on the old seasoned pros.

Things I learned yesterday

We took a road trip out to the other side of Massachusetts yesterday.

Along the way we saw a sign for the Big E which kicks off in a few weeks time. Love that Big E!

As we drove up the I-91 past Easthampton we had the following conversation.

Anne: It's probably beautiful around here, but I cannot see from the highway.

Me: I'm sure it is. Lloyd Cole lives here without any Commotion. That's an 80s joke folks.

Our first stop was LGBT fave Northampton. What an awesome town. We did our usual slow wander around the town, and walked into the quasi-famous Faces store, where Anne had this zinger of a convo.

Cash Register Woman: How you doing today?
Anne: I'm great thanks. And you?
CRW: Oh, I'm doing super. Thanks for asking!

You see. Customer Service that makes me smile. I bought some offensive greetings cards and Anne found a shrug ... you know .. a mini cardigan.

Next we stopped at Sylvester's for some coffee and a ginormous cookie. Sylvester's is located in the former home of Sylvester Graham, inventor of the Graham Cracker. Their bathroom facilities, while limited, have the most beautiful faucets I ever saw.

Leaving Sylvester's we crossed the road illegally, and were then stalked by a cop car for a few minutes. Is jay-walking the most chicken-shit ticket a cop can hand out?

Here's a list of notable residents of Northampton. And no, they're not all gay women.

Next we took a jaunt over to Amherst. During the opening week of college, the town is full of chino-clad parents and their 'new college sweatshirt' kids. So it was fun to watch the parents' faces as a shirtless banjo-playing stoner busked with his Caucasian girlfriend, who unsuccessfully tried to play one of those Chinese Harp things.

We also saw this. I had no idea what it was, but using this new thing called the internet I now know. If you're interested. Click here.

Reminds me of the joke where the YMCA volunteers are collecting for a new swimming pool, and someone gives them a cup of water.

If you find yourself approaching Amherst from Northampton, take the Rt116 turn to get to the college. It's quicker. I appreciate this factoid is tepid at best, but the blog post is named 'Things I learned yesterday'. It's not like this is paid content is it?

Next stop Sherburne Falls. Anne had no recollection of being here only 9 years ago. Don't do drugs kids.

Sherburne Falls has (at least) 2 things going for it. A Bridge of Flowers and a river and dam combo with huge glacial stone formations. I took a picture of each!!

On our way back East we stopped at a restaurant called 'The Wagon Wheel'. Sadly they did not sell these. Instead we had a BLT and Curly Fries. Also noticed a disproportionate amount of Chinese food buffet stops along the Mohawk trail. Odd.

Back on Rt2 we kicked on some tunes and sang and laughed our way back to Cambridge.

Top day!

Sunday, September 5

Double Bummer

It's human nature to try to connect yourself to a tragedy in some morbid Six-Degrees of Kevin Bacon way.

Everyone seems to have a 9/11 story, in the same way every old hippie was at Woodstock or the Isle of Wight.

So I was bummed out to see 2 New Zealand stories in the news this weekend. Christchurch was hit by an earthquake, and over at Fox Glacier, a plane crash killed 9, which is the worst crash in NZ aviation history.

So yes, I was recently in both places. It is just one of the many coincidences in life that Alanis Morissette should have sung about.

The glacier crash is the saddest. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef have created a wonderful little cottage industry flying people up into the mountains, and the tiny populations of these towns seem to understand what quality of life means.

Saturday, September 4

Swings and Roundabouts

Maybe I just don't spot average Customer Service, but I sure as hell seem to remember service at the ends of the spectrum.

Small things matter, like the pretty young woman at the Macy's counter who called Anne "Miss" the other day. She could have charged double and Anne would have swiped her credit card anyhow.

Compare that against the coffee shop 5 minutes later, and the pain in the ass young Russian chick who after learning my name for the order, then did that annoying trait of using my name as if we were life long friends.

Would you like our Saturday Blend Richard? How about a bagel Richard? I'll just be 2 minutes making your crapacinnos Richard. Would you like a Border Coffee Card Richard?

How about "Would you stop calling me Richard, and shuffle your ass over to the JavaFuckChipKulaShakerTwatiato Machine and make me 2 cups of a disappointing concoction for $9?"

Last week Best Buy managed to delight and bother. My TV was slightly on the fritz, so I popped in and they were all rainbows and unicorns, printing out receipts, organizing a Geek, and giving me a reach around for taking out the extended warranty.

Cut to a few days later and it turns out Geek Squad should be called Passive Aggressive Douche Squad. "How do you know your HDMI is out if you're viewing everything in Component?" Maybe we're not using HDMI because it doesn't fucking work?

Finally ...

... Oh I can't be bothered to write about Chase. I realized I've probably spent more time on the phone with Chase this year than I have with my sister.

After 10 years I've dumped them for another card company who have already bugged me with their perky activation assistant.

Am I so hard to please?

Friday, September 3

Animal Magic

Anne called me at work last week with some earth-shattering news.

"There's a bunny rabbit in our backyard." I got home as quick as I could.

Minutes went to hours on our deck as we watched the little fella just nestle down in the middle of our lawn (which did admittedly need a mow).

Finally I said to Anne, "Go see if you can pick him up".



So failure on the petting level, but the rabbit did return to the center of our lawn.

Later as I prepared to go to bed, I had to take one last look.

Flashlight activated, I ran the beam over the yard, prison movie style. There he was, big black eye looking back at me.

Unfortunately my Colditz interrogation freaked him out, and off he hopped.

Wednesday, September 1

Best Fail Ever

While I have never met anyone named Hugh Jass, or Heywood Jablome, they pale in comparison to this name.

I can only hope this is a fake, but the FAIL blog are running a best of, and they seem pretty sure of it's authenticity.

I think they call that a validated source in journalism.

Thursday, August 26

Living on the Edge

The nearest I get to danger is running my fuel tank down to the last few miles worth of gas.

Excuse the double negative, but I've never filled-up the tank when it was not in the orange.

And yet I've never been stranded on the roadside.

Last night on the 20-mile commute home, my credit card would not work. "Shit, fuck, piss", as my grandmother would say.

My fancy-dan car has an electronic gauge of just how many miles I can travel before running out of fuel.

This is the first time I hit zero.

Sunday, August 22

Fire Hazard

Took a quick walk down to the local mall last night. In the entrance way of the Sears they've put 3 comfy chairs pointed at a TV playing a Michael Jackson movie.

At various junctures whole families were sat watching the TV. What next? A kettle and snack tin?

Of course I know why Sears did this, but I also question the logic of making it a pain in the ass to enter a store because some low-income family are camped in the entrance way watching the King of Pop.

Then again, why am I complaining about a lack of entry point into Sears?

Finally. That's a toilet roll in the bottom of the picture.

Phrases I thought I invented but didn't

Years ago I thought I was the first person to do the Queen Latifah spoonerism of Queef Latina. Turns out I was not, and indeed someone does a tribute act under the same name.

So, yesterday I was driving to work and got myself into a giggle when I converted Horse Whisperer into Ho Whisperer.

A quick google this morning, reveals this news story from 6 years ago.

Damn.