Tuesday, August 30

Morning, welcome to 7-11 TV

For reasons best left unexplained I found myself grabbing coffee in the 7-11 today.

The whole transaction probably took a few minutes. You have to select a cup size, then a flavor of coffee, then you realize they have no skimmed milk, then you go searching for the blue fake sugar, a stirry thing, then a lid.

During this multiple choice escapade, the TV above my head repeated the title of post ... every 3 seconds.

I asked the guy at checkout if it annoyed him. "No, I tune it out" was his reply.

Your customers don't.

Monday, August 29

Ker-ching

We dropped my sister and niece off at the airport tonight. The expected tears rolled. As I got home, a feisty large woman of color was knocking on our door. She had come to interview me for a survey. It was just the tonic!

I got to run through 100 cards featuring magazine titles. I picked out over 50 that I had read in the last 6 months. Scarlett had to ask me about each one.

After a 90 minute interview she gave me a 110 page booklet outlining all of the consumer choices we make each month. I'm filling it in. I've already sharpened my pencil twice.

I love this shit. And they're paying me.

Sweet.

Sunday, August 28

Hurricane Nonsense

It's bad enough that my mum has to share a name with this latest storm front. At least in 2005 Hurricane Katrina assigned Katrina and the Waves to the pop-music dump-bin.

The Weather Channel continue to be the pornographers of bad weather. The tangible glee with which they have built up this storm is in poor taste. As the category number goes down, they back shift to pedal floods and power outages for their viewers' vicarious titillation. And it is vicarious, because if you are watching the Weather Channel then you have both electricity and basic cable ... necessities in these troubled times.

The guy at Radio Shack yesterday was pushing flashlights like a dope dealer on the Haight. Meanwhile I have a summer cold, so I'm coughing and spluttering as the rain comes down.

In other news I got to play with a kitten yesterday. Which was very nice!

Thursday, August 25

Holidays must end as you know

Breakfast in P-Town!! A grilled muffin and hot chocolate for Grace while the rest of us ate healthy unhealthy food. The toast might be multi-grain, but it's still scooping up an omelet.

Back at the cottage I made an executive decision. Let's go home. I missed my bed, and I think we were all 'beached out'.

But first we needed to cross a few things off of our 'to do' list.

Buy sentimental tat. Check.
Pay $4.50 for 10 mins on a trampoline. Check.
Play mini-golf. Check. Richard to win? Uncheck!

After a fucking crazy lunch in a new-age Jewish sandwich shop with no windows we headed for a Go-carting place just off of the Cape.

10 mins later we were done. Pifffff.

Back home we threw Grace in a shopping cart at Shaw's, bought (and ate) ice cream.

Wednesday, August 24

Arrrgghhh Kelly

What's a pirate's favorite singer?

The following conversation has never happened

Parent "What occupation do you hope to follow?"
Teenager "A children's entertainer"

Thus my skepticism of anyone who gets paid to make children laugh is formed. And you can double down when they wear make up and a silly wig.

Today we headed for Hyannis so that Grace could aboard a pirate's shp. But first we stopped in Chatham to buy Taffy and observe how the rich and snooty live.

In the afternoon while Grace was being sold a plastic sword for $4, Anne and I slipped off for a quick adult beverage. Entering the bar we saw but one guy with ponytail and silk shirt propping up one end. We sat at the other end. He was chatty ....

I ended up loving this guy. He had that smarmy confidence that money, power, and whisky brings, and he looked like the bad guy from Kindergarten Cop ... 20 years on, with a bit of modern day Mickey Rourke thrown in.

He asked a few choice facts about the 2 of us, and after initially calling me Jim, settled on calling me 'English'. Anne was tagged with the name 'Red', after the guy ran his hand through her not red hair.

Chatting about the crumbier parts of Cleveland he said, "I knew a broa ... lady from that part of town once".

God knows how he got his property in Manhattan, and the largest and prettiest lot of land on the Cape, but he has 6 kids that he admits to, and had taken to giving sage advice to the young and busty bartender who wobbled between eye-rolling and charmed.

I think Grace had a Hot Dog tonight.

Tuesday, August 23

Chewsday

Today began with Auntie Anne and Uncle Richard exposing Grace to the LGBT wonderland of P-Town. Being a cool kid she took it in her stride, in fact in a coffee shop of Adonisi (which I'm making up as the plural of Adonis), she didn't worry about the guys making out beside us. Instead she noticed they were wearing their caps back to front and promptly spun hers around too.

We also bought a joke book, so all morning was "Knock Knock" this, and "Why did the [blank] cross the road", that.

This afternoon all of the ladies in our party headed for the ocean and a swim. I stayed by the house in my water wings and snorkel, during which time I felt the earthquake that terrified the East Coast.



For dinner we went south so that Grace could have her 14th (and as it turned out 15th) Hot Dog of the trip.

Every time she says Hot Dog, she recites a line from a Disney show "Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog". Tonight Hot Dog 14 rolled out of the bun and onto the floor. As mum went for #15, I suggested Grace say "That's a bummer" on mum's return. "No, that'll make her angry", was Grace's terse reply. Smart kid.

Monday, August 22

Burn Baby Burn

After the usual breakfast of 'whatever snacks I find in the kitchen', we headed for a great big pond.

A pedal boat for Lorraine and Grace, and a kayak for Anne and I. Halfway thru' we did a switch and Grace joined me in the kayak. At the far side of the lake, with the wind against, my arms sort of gave out, around the same time the knees of my missus and sister gave out too.

We headed for Wellfleet for lunch, and among the plethora of shitty pottery shops and artisan hollows we found a good lunch and some more ice cream. Attached to the ice cream place was a chocolate shop with a small side business in passive aggressive signs. The c behind the counter, yes c, was a prissy little fuck who caught the ire of Anne, when Anne asked if there were any public toilets in the area. Being grown up and accompanying a child I offered to go fart in the store upon our return.

We then hit another beach. I built a kick ass sandcastle only for Grace to delicately 'fucking destroy it' with her shovel. We headed back to our towels for a game of catch only to find the beach ball had blown away. Kind of like the Wilson moment in Cast Away but without a scruffy Tom Hanks but with much more gravitas. We switched to frisbee. The wind blew the disc into the gut of a small child playing nearby, so we stopped with that too.

I went for a walk and watched as my sis and niece climbed the great big sand dune that led back up to the parking lot. This thing must have been a 100ft high. Talk about cardio.

It had been hours since we bought anything, so we went T-Shirt, ball and deck-chair shopping, before heading back to the cottage for more catch. Our neighbors on the left appear to have spawned 4 teenage girls. They are smoking. Cigarettes.

Our neighbors to the right comprise of a skinny-ish woman with a mis-matched schlubby husband and 2 well behaved kids, and the next one along is a couple with a kid who appears to have a learning disability. He is the one I've spoken to the most so far this holiday.

Tonight we watched old comedies again, and I appear to have made it until 9.30 before hitting the bed. Rock and Roll.

Oh, and I burned myself to a crisp today.

Sunday, August 21

Someone didn't have ice cream today

Well I didn't have ice cream yet.

We saw a dead ray this morning! Freaked me out a bit, but Grace took it in her stride

Today we went to the beach, but first we bought a kite and some taffy. We needed neither for the beach, but it's important to plan ahead.

The beach was awesome. Sandcastles, wave jumping and playing catch. I burnt my feet, but I built a pretty splendid sandcastle.

For lunch - grilled sandwiches and fries. Afterwards everyone but me had ice cream, because I'm a model of restraint.

Back at the cottage I had a nap ... like an old man in a nursing home. Then I showed Grace how to fly a kite. Goddamn if she wasn't better than me at it. She's also beating me 10-1 at Guess Who.

Because I saved space in my stomach, I was able to eat a cupcake, some taffy, some fruit gummy shit that Grace eats, plus dinner.

Dinner was BBQ'd hot dogs and hamburgers. Being calorie conscious and an idiot, I paper-toweled off all of the fat on the burgers. Everyone will thank me next week when they hit the scale but for now we had to eat shoe leather.

We also took Grace to the liquor store. Start them young I say.

Tonight we went shell hunting again, and now it's Ice Age on the TV until the kid falls asleep (unless we nod off first).

Another great day!

Saturday, August 20

Are we there yet?

Today's the day that Auntie Anne joins the party. We're off to the Cape for an old-fashioned beach holiday.

Sandcastles, kites, ice cream and shell collecting are on the agenda. We packed Anne's brand new car to the roof with all kinds of stuff and off to North Truro we go.

Tonight at the Stop & Shop in Provincetown we packed our cart with unhealthy food, mingled with suntanned old queens, fraught vacationers, and pale vaguely angry lesbians.

Back at our beach front cottage we ate ice cream and potato chips before falling asleep to the sound of the ocean 20 feet away.



Tomorrow I promised Grace we'd buy her a kite 'first thing'. I've a feeling this will come back to haunt me.

Friday, August 19

TGI Friday

Today we hit the Museum of Science. Plenty of shrieks of fun and laughter, and some tears.

I think everyone who visits the museum, enjoys the musical stairway. I told Grace that her daddy will build something similar into their stairs at home. Sorry Chas.

This is not Grace, but you get the idea ...



Next we went to the Planetarium to see the 180° dome roofed presentation of planets outside of our solar system. Horrific! Music, fiery gas and volcanos combined to freak the shit out of Grace.

As a side-note I'm impressed how the Museum has updated all of it's exhibits to push Pluto off of the Solar System listings.

Much scarier is the dinosaur movie at the iMax. Guess what? Grace loved it. Lorraine and I had to look away a few times ....

A rainy walk home was made all the happier with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. Grace has spotted that there are thousands of these damned places spotted all over our State.

Thursday, August 18

Uncle Jeff

Jeff and Aaron came over tonight. We ate 5 pizzas and drank beer.

Grace more than held her own at the dinner table (probably the 3 Rolling Rock she downed?) It was cool beans to watch a five year old from England captivate the table.

Jeff brought a basket of goodies for Grace, so after dinner Jeff and Grace went onto our balcony and had a bubble blowing competition. When I went out to check on them, I discovered Jeff found it easier to adopt a Dick Van Dyke English accent to communicate with Grace. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Jeff and Aaron have now met all of my family (they met mum and dad in May). The common factor is pizza and booze. Fantastic.

The next morning I asked Grace if she had a good time, and she said she really liked Jeff and Aaron. Cute.

What's a shih tzu?

A zoo with no animals, like the one we visited today. Grace continues to humorously mystify me. She was totally unimpressed by massive black bears literally a sheet of hardened plastic away from her, but she could hang out in a gift shop that sells fudge for hours. Of course as an adult, I know that BOTH are worthy of my attention.

Meerkats, monkeys (not cheeky), otters and cougars (feline variety) were highlights.

A boring owl, a sad and lonely kookaburra, and stinky bats were low-lights. As were grouchy moms with precious kids called Tarquin.

Being a marketing professional, I kept 'teasing' the rest of the day. Grace swung every 15 minutes from excited to terrified at the prospect of kayaking.

After a noisy lunch at the 99 where kids eat for free and parents load up on liquor, we hit the lake.

Kayaking was a hit. Grace and I shared a kayak while my sister donned a life-vest to photo-journal our aquatic excellence.

"Uncle Richard, can we do this for hours?", Grace asked.

"Yes", I replied as my upper arms burned.

20 minutes later I lied to a child and told her we'd been out here for 2 hours. She fell for it. Sucker!

Wednesday, August 17

Fun. Fun. Fun.

Dropped my sis and niece off at the Water Park today. I went into work and 2 hours later Lorraine texted me to say she'd eaten a wasp. Ugh.



On the drive home to make my poor sister happy we stopped at the 'English' shop and bought Curly-Wurlys, Blackjacks, Yorkies and Treacle Toffee. Yum.

Tuesday, August 16

Not what I expected

Children's Museum in Boston.

I was hoping for kids in formaldehyde behind glass. Turns out it's a museum FOR children.

It's $12 to get in whether you're a kid or an adult. My sister pointed out that really adults should pay less, because they don't use the jungle gym, climbing frames or Wizard of Oz displays.

I countered with au contraire. Looks like those French lessons are paying off. A pedophile would get value for money here. I also pondered if an adult would be allowed in on his own?
"One adult for the Children's Museum please"
"What's that? You're a member?"

Anyhoo. They have this massive carpeted chute of tunnels and cargo nets that your kid could get lost in for hours, plus hundreds of other things that children can just jump on. As Grace ran around like a demented chicken with a sugar rush, my sister and I nostalgically remembered our childhood day trips to Withernsea, which I hope has fallen into the North Sea due to coastal erosion.

Monday, August 15

First Day of Summer

My sister last visited me in the Summer of 2000. It rained like a bastard for 2 weeks. Yesterday she arrived during the first day of rain we've had in about 4 weeks.

Not to worry. Because this time she came armed and loaded with my 5 year old niece, Grace.

Today we all got up at silly o-clock, Lorraine and Grace because of jet-lag, and Anne and I, well because we always do.

After Anne left for work the rest of us headed to the supermarket. Our food is just like the UK's. Only by law we stick about 7 different bursts on all of our packaging with health and value claims. Of course it's not as healthy as the food in the UK, but so what? Fuck those minimalist designs, we've got space to fill.

Next stop was Target. We bought Grace a big bouncy ball and one of those 'catch the ball' in the plastic shuttlecock devices.

We had all of this done before 9am. Then we headed for the Aquarium. Penguins, seals, sharks and turtles, and a memorable ham sandwich for Grace. Me and my sis just tried to not get annoyed at pesky Yank kids.

And then home for an afternoon of Pixar movies and cookies, laid out on a blanket with a pile of cushions for support.

Overall a pretty good day. Tomorrow we're off to the Children's Museum!

Wednesday, August 10

Tales of the Expected

My set of Facebook friends are relatively blowhard free, but one has the misfortune of being linked to this guy.

Speaking of the riots in England, The Blowhard writes,

I've always been Proud of My Country, but I'm not Proud Tonight. I'm Embarrassed, What's Going on?. Is it a Money thing? a lack of Education?, Morals?, Discipline?, Do their Parents give a Toss?. I never behaved like these Feral Numptys, because I was raised to know what is Right and Wrong!. So Sad, Great Britain is going down the Toilet!. It worries me what England has to offer my Beautiful Son. If I was under 40 I'd be Off!. Australia maybe?.

I hope the kid grows up with a sense of right and wrong, but I also hope he learns some basic rules of grammar.

-----

Meanwhile, the Libyan foreign ministry spokesman Khalid Ka'im made me smile with this.

Libya calls on world governments to take action over the unrest in the UK. David Cameron has lost legitimacy and 'must go'. Libya demands that the international community not stand with arms folded in the face of this gross aggression against the rights of the British people, who are demanding its right to rule its country.

It's a good take on events isn't it? When civil unrest hits the Middle East, it's the power of youth (and Twitter) demanding the toppling of old-fashioned government, and their police-backed states. When it happens in the UK? Well it's kind of the opposite.

Also nice to see the Libyan spokesman using 'dick quotes'.

Tuesday, August 9

What's that behind you Richard?

Oh, those are my best years.

I've switched desks at work again, as I often do, and I'm sat near our new junior designer. I asked her when she was born. 1989 was her answer.

I started my professional life in this industry on August 9th 1988.

And another small part of me dies ....

Monday, August 8

Crouch End

As London erupts in spontaneous riots I notice that my old neighbourhood of Crouch End is doing OK. I think the most outraged they'd get would be if the price of a latte went up, or if the local Budgens ran out of free-range eggs.

In the words of a comedy Scouser, "Just calm down everybody."

Sunday, August 7

Re-hashing content

Following on from my birthday post of yesterday, I dug out my blog post for the first time we went to Radius back in August of 2007. If anything it proves I was a better writer in my 30s ....

Went to Radius during restaurant week. No clue why, considering dinner for two ended up costing approx. $180 more than it should do during the aforementioned restaurant week.

Love their set up. You walk in and the maitre d is the gatekeeper to the restaurant. If she deems you worthy she opens a gate for you to enter the 'Kingdom of Radius'.

We get in!

Shuffle to our table and a few minutes later our extraordinarily tall dark and handsome waiter shows up ... with a reserve waitress stood behind him.

Knowing nothing about posh restaurant etiquette Anne and I spend the night supposing she is essentially his bitch. He asks what we want and she scurries off and writes it down. Survey says "Ugh Oh". I'm told she was probably in training. Ah well. Much prefer my option. A master waiter and a pimp.

This all happened a few weeks ago so forgive me if I don't remember the food details. During the time we were ordering, a train nearly hit us. The figurative wreckage ended up on the table next to us.

Saving the best for last I'll start with the guy. Badly cut but vaguely expensive suit (come on, if you're going to wear suits, just buy a few expensive ones and have them tailored to fit), the frames of his glasses looked a little headmistress-like to me, but also said "I like coke". Finished it off with a finely trimmed goatee.

Let's cut to the chase, the chick-ee-dee accompanying him had freakish breasts. Not 2 guys at a bar saying "check those out" breasts, but the kind that even my demur and proper wife said "Holy Jesus Christ those are massive tits". Of course she chose to reign them in with a bra 8 sizes too small and an ill-fitting spaghetti strap bingo* dress

* From the start of an English game of bingo, when the caller says "Eyes down and look in".

The waiter asked the 'lady' what she wanted to drink and the guy chimes in "We'll have Champagne". With few exceptions this is a douche move. He then requested a bottle of red for their main course. After the waiter and his white slave moved away, the guy tells his lady friend that Bordeaux is a place in France famous for its wine. Wow, we're sat next to a sommelier!

We had an amuse bouche, as a welcome from the chef. We felt special until we realized everyone got one.

Before our apps came out, the bread guy rolled into town. Talk about quick on the draw, the food wasn't even at my esophagus and there was another roll on the plate.

I started with rabbit. Inspired by Anne's course at Rendezvous. It was delicious until a day later when I found myself in the Liberty Tree mall pet shop looking at cute bunnies.

Anne began with warm foie gras. Don't know exactly what it is, but she was in a happy place while eating it, so must have been good.

I had filet mignon. Usually I order steak when I can find nothing else on the menu, but I was in the mood. Anne teased me because I ordered the meat on the rare side. I prefer well done, but I think when you are in anything higher than Fuddruckers it is offensive to the chef to order it too well done. That's me ... sensitive to the needs of the chef.

Anne ordered the $30 vegetable plate. I think we were both curious just how much veg you get for 30 big ones. It was cool, lots of varied veggies prepared in an artistic manner.

Meanwhile next door, we discovered that he was some kind of combination doctor/weapons expert, and she was not. They spoke as if it was a first or second date, and once in a while held hands across the table. She periodically giggled at the right spots in his conversation and all was going well until she blathered out how much she wanted kids, and a stoney uncomfortable silence ensued.

Not surprisingly the table on the other side was dysfunctional too. The woman ordered a bottle of wine but added "Although one of us has to drive home". The waiter (when not whipping the shackled wench behind him) suggested they order just a half bottle, at which the woman replied "Yes, and then we can order another half bottle later".

I turned to my darling wife and said "She's just effing stupid". As if to further my elucidate point wino woman spent the next 30 minutes reading the wine list like it was some James Ellroy page turner.

We had dessert. Because why the hell not?

Anne ordered a cookie platter - the menu stated it was 'for one'. After the previously small haute cuisine portions she was suddenly faced with a platter that would not be out of place at an Italian wedding. Six cookies! Hey, six cookies are great at night when you are under a blanket watching the tube with a glass of milk, but shoveling down six cookies in a fancy restaurant is a bit much. So I finished them for her. After my cheese platter was taken away. Note to all: The Greeks makes sub-standard cheese.

Over at the first date table, the guy disappeared for 10 mins. I presumed 'coke run' but apparently his credit card did not work. It got to the stage where I nearly asked the circus freak if she was OK. I thought he had done a runner.

All in all a great night. A full belly and some great people watching.

Saturday, August 6

10 into 4 goes ... pff whatever

I accompanied my gorgeous wife to Radius last night. The event was my birthday, and the plan was to eat rich, well prepared food. We managed to execute our plan.

They have a 7 course tasting menu, but we thought that to be a little gauche, so instead we opted for the 4 course tasting menu.

Here's what I had,

An Amuse Bouche of Crispy Citric Salad (thanks again Top Chef)
An Orange and Mango Soda Shot
• A Water Melon Salad
- Apparently, all of these were just lead ins, to the main event

Ginger Poached Muscovy Duck with spicy coconut caramel, jicama, curried cashews, and grilled scallion compote 

• Pan Seared Cod with soft brandade, favas, wild mushrooms, and a red wine reduction

• Slow Roasted Rib Eye with robuchon potatoes, haricots verts, pearl onions, and a red wine sauce


Blue Cheese interlude (no musical accompaniment, but a thick glass of port)
A Cherry smoothie - which apparently was just a palette cleanser

Pilon de Chocolat; bittersweet chocolate cone filled with ganache, peanuts, fenugreek ice cream, raisins, caramel

• A bijou platter of almond cookies, profiteroles, and cubed jelly fruits. To share ....

Wow. We also had 5 (6 counting the port) wine pairings ... and about 4 pieces of Sourdough Bread.

Not sure what I was more of - full or drunk. Either way, a top night of gastronomical delight!

Along the way I coined my new catchphrase "Ganache is better than Panache", and Anne's bon mot was "There's too much new", I think she was referring to books, but she decided it was relevant to all walks of life and culture.

I married a philosopher.

Friday, August 5

Welcome to America

We're pretty lucky over here in America-land to get movies and groovy i-devices before the rest of the world, but we're bringing up the rear with the music streaming.

We finally got Spotify recently and I just got round to tinkering about with it, and I see what the big deal is. Now I get to share my shitty playlists with people I don't know!

Thursday, August 4

Erm ... thanks?

I received a birthday card from my local councillor. I'm not affiliated to a party, and I've no recollection of whether I voted for him. Infact I don't even know if Leland is a him?

Monday, August 1

Yorkshire Day!!

Today is Yorkshire Day - to promote the historic English county of my birth!

Introduced in 1975, in Beverley, as a protest against Local Government re-organisation. Beverley is the East Yorkshire town that inspired the name of Beverly, Massachusetts, where I work.

The date alludes to the Battle of Minden, when Britain, or more specifically the Yorkshire Light Infantry ... yet again ... defeated the French.

August 1st is also the anniversary of the emancipation of slaves in the British Empire in 1834, for which a Yorkshire MP, William Wilberforce, had campaigned.