Monthly Archives: December 2011

Lame Adventure 265: Realistic Resolutions

Are you like me?  Do you start each New Year with a set of resolutions that you spend the next twelve months failing to keep?  What are we thinking when we vow to drink less, exercise more, or shed thirty, thirteen, or three pounds?  Could we make ourselves climb a mountain that is any higher?

A dozen years into this not so new millennium, I pronounce 2012 the year we divorce ourselves from the tired cliché of New Year’s Resolutions.  Let’s decree 2012 the Year of Realistic Resolutions!  If you are unsure how to proceed with traveling this uncharted course, allow Lame Adventures to be your guide.  Illustrated below are my own resolutions from 2011 as compared with those from 2012:

2011                                                                       2012

1.  Appreciate those with opinions that         1.  Avoid idiots.

differ from your own.

2.  Exercise a minimum of five times a          2.  Quit riding the elevator from

week.                                                                       the second to the first floor.

3.  Eliminate profanity from your                    3.  Substitute asshole for

vocabulary.                                                            motherfucker.

4.  Embrace aging.                                         4.  Dye hair monthly.

5.  Swim twice a week.                                   5.  Drink more water.

6.  Complete writing your opus.                  6.  Invest in a shredder.

7.  Learn a new language.                              7.  Learn proper use of the semicolon.

8.  Run the New York City                              8.  Walk more in Central Park.

Marathon.

9.  Stop cornering Milton into doing                9.  Start cornering Coco into doing

humiliating antics.                                               more humiliating antics.

10.  Be a better person.                                 10.  See number 1.

Lame Adventure 264: Don’t Mind the Nude Guy

JetBlue Snooze Kit

I ventured my way East via the JetBlue red eye out of Oakland, not my preferred flight, but it was at my preferred price: cheap.  The midnight hour flight boarded and took off on time.  The crew was the usual, pleasant and professional.  There were not any whiny toddlers or crying babies.  All was looking great.

I was sitting in the aisle seat.  There was an empty seat between me and the other passenger in my three-seat row.  He was a guy around 30 give or take five years.  His was the window seat.  He was a handsome, buff, well-groomed, coffee color chap with an elaborate sleeve tattoo on at least one of his arms.  I only like men for their minds, so I don’t look that closely at guys.  It’s possible that both of his arms could have been tatted.  He was taking forever to shove his carry-on crap in three of the overhead bins. I found that annoying. He seemed oblivious to blocking the aisle for a million waiting passengers.

Me:  Are you ready to sit down yet?

He sat.

Also, he was reeking of pot, but that doesn’t faze me.  He did have the munchies.  Typical.

As the plane takes off, he keeps grabbing his tee shirt and fanning it like he’s a blast furnace.  I ignore his antics.  After the captain gives the okay to reactivate electronic devices, he plays with his iPad.  He had every iGadget going — the MacBook Air, the iPhone.  It’s late. I’m tired.  The crew shut off the cabin lights so we’re flying in the dark.  I close my eyes.  When I open them I notice that he’s stripped down to just his tighty whities.

I think:  What the hell is this about?

I say nothing.  There are no small fry running around or are there any kids on this flight, but Jesus H. Christ, no way would I exhibit myself on a commercial flight.  I don’t even like my Special Someone to look at me when we get horizontal, upright, sideways, on the ceiling, etc.  So, is Mr. Natural intentionally trying to freak me out because he assumes I’m a demure middle age woman?  Is he blind to my motorcycle boots, the telltale sign that I’m not quite yet the Little Old Lady from Pasadena?  I do what I always do when I encounter some idiot clamoring for attention.

I ignore him.

When the flight attendants hand out snacks and beverages, they can fully see this guy is practically naked.  When one asks him what he wants, Mr. Natural chirps:

Mr. Natural:  Cookies!

I used to eat Cap’n Crunch when I got stoned.  The attendants, three women, act like everything’s cool with this nearly naked guy in our presence.  Do they know something I don’t?  Is he our Air Marshall?  Part of me think that by keeping cool about this situation it might be for the best.  Do I want JetBlue to land the plane in Wyoming to place Mr. Natural under arrest and then I don’t get home until five in the afternoon instead of nine in the morning?  Next, I wonder:

Me:  Am I being punked?

Yet, Ashton Kutcher seems to have other things going on.  I also wonder if Mr. Natural looked like Sydney Greenstreet, would his being nearly nude then be an issue?

Sydney Greetstreet aka "The Fat Man".

After a while, I need to pee.  When I return to my seat, Mr. Natural’s in his clothes again.  Great, this aberrant episode is behind us.  He needs to get up, so he does.  He returns with two fistfuls of more cookies.  I close my eyes and drift off to sleep.  When I open them and stir, I see on my TV screen showing our route that we’re leaving Iowa and entering Illinois.  And, oh yeah, Mr. Natural’s now napping STARK NAKED with his mitts covering the sausage.

Inside my head, I’m screaming:

Me (screaming):  What the fuck is going on here?

I long to take a picture of Mr. Natural for Lame Adventures, but I’m too intimidated.  He’s clearly a gym rat with biceps the size of cantaloupes.  If he hit me he’d probably knock me straight through my seat and through the seats of all the passengers sitting behind me.  Plus, the lighting is too low.  I know I’ll need to use my flash, and that could wake him if he really is asleep.  In addition, this guy is possibly just messing with my head.  What do I do here along side a naked man sitting next to me on a commercial jet?

I resume doing nothing.

Actually, I drift back off to sleep.  When I wake, we’re exiting Pennsylvania, and he’s clothed again.  I’m now wondering if I’ve made this all up in my mind?  My shoulder was hurting before I boarded, and I considered popping an Aleve, but I was concerned that it might make me feel loopy at 35,000 feet in the air.  I’m completely drug-free and I doubt I had any contact high from the pot field Mr. Natural surely smoked before boarding.  Later, when I encounter him again standing several feet away from me at the luggage carousel, he’s staring at me.  Even though I feel his stare, I act like he’s not there.  I get my bag first and split.

When I return home, I share this tale with my buddy Coco.  She’s super straight so I figure if anyone can explain to me what was going on here with Mr. Natural, she’s the source:

Coco: Who gets naked on a plane?!?!?!!! Who strips to their underwear!??!!! How are the stewardess’s ok with this? I have never heard of anything more inappropriate! Gross! Bare ass cheeks on the seat!!!!  Maybe he was a stripper. He obviously smoked some excellent pot because he did not give a rat’s ass about anything …. except for cookies.  This is total LA!!!! That is insane! I am speechless.

I could not have surmised this better myself.

Lame Adventure 263: Out of My Element and Into Nature

As my three faithful readers know, I am the consummate city slicker that thrives on soot, crowds and enclosed spaces. I view the outdoors as anything but great and a surefire way to activate my tree, grass, and fresh air allergies.  My best friend from college, BatPat, is my complete antithesis in this area.  The woman is a walking encyclopedia about birds, trees, flowers, the solar system, etc.  If it’s anti-concrete, glass or steel, BatPat is all over it.  She fishes, cleans it and cooks it.  I eat tuna straight out of the can feral-cat-style.  As opposite as we sound, there’s a glue or maybe it’s the super tankers of pinot noir that we’ve quaffed over thirty years that has kept us close for so long.  When we got together during my visit to the San Francisco Bay Area, she suggested we take a hike.

Me:  You want me to go on a hike?  Are there escalators?

BatPat:  It’s a flat trail.

I wince, squirm and make monosyllabic sounds in response.

BatPat: You can hear the freeway from the trail.

Me:  Really?  Okay, let’s do it.

BatPat drives us to Rush Creek in Novato (Marin County).

Rush Creek sign

It’s a general open space preserve with very specific dos and don’ts.

Rush Creek dos and don’ts sign.

For example bike riding, horseback riding, and dog walking (with leashed dogs) are all in the do column.  Shooting guns or as they call it, hunting, is in the don’t column along with smoking and lighting fires.  The idea of not getting my head blown off by a trigger-happy descendant of Elmer Fudd has great appeal to me.

As soon as we climb out of the car, a pile of horse crap the size of Delaware greets us.

A real pile of crap.

I suspect that the owner of the horse did not have a back hoe available to shovel the mess into a thirty gallon Hefty bag the way my sister, Dovima, and brother-in-law Herb (with a silent h) are forever cleaning up after Thurber, the family dog, with sandwich bags.

“Leave it to you to compare my marble-sized droppings to Trigger’s.”

We proceed down the trail that lies ahead.

Looks flat from here.

I notice a tree that brings to mind the Six Feet Under Tree.

Six Feet Under tree.

Across from the Six Feet Under Tree is a tree that appears to be bending.  It reminds me of when I threw out my lower back something fierce in 2010.

Bad Back tree.

I walked at that angle for about a month.

We see a feather in a pile of oak tree leaves; one of the few feathers that has not found its way into an Alexander McQueen design.

Feather on oak leaves.

We look up into the branches of the tree.

Tree branches.

BatPat:  Wouldn’t you just love to climb that tree?

Me: No.  Not at all.  Never. I’d rather have a colonoscopy.

We see an egret.

Egret hanging out.

BatPat marvels at how it’s one with nature.  She has a bird, Buttafuoco, named by her son, Guinness.  Buttafuoco loves to eat mashed potatoes.  I suspect he’d be one with New York City.

Buttafuoco

As we walk past these branches we hear a bullfrog croaking.

Croaking branches.

We see a few ducks swimming.

Ducks enjoying a swim.

The next night I dine on duck; hopefully not anyone in this couple.

We see two more ducks hanging out on the creek’s bank.

A moment of calm in-between an hour of fidgeting

The duck on the left drove me crazy.  It was constantly fidgeting and scratching.  It took me forever to get this shot.  I hope I ate that one for dinner.

BatPat loved this red plane that flew over us.

Zoom!

It reminded her of a toy.  Between the combination of my snail slow reflexes and snail slow shutter speed this was the best shot I could take.

This crow had a set of pipes on it that were almost worthy of the Metropolitan Opera.

“Figaro!” Not quite.

I say “almost” because although it had power, the tune it was singing, “Caw, caw, caw,” was quite a cacophonous racket.  I think the phrase, “Shut the hell up,” might have been coined in response to its song.

BatPat decided we should climb this grade.

Where’s an escalator when you need one?

Me:  Hey!  That’s not flat!

BatPat:  C’mon, climb it!

Me:  No way!  That’s Mt. Kilimanjaro to me!

BatPat:  You’re taking a picture of this?  Do you want to look like an idiot to the entire Internet?

Me:  Of course I do!  I can’t let down my readership!  Do you think I can get an airlift from a low flying hawk?

I huff and puff my way up trying to not think about how one misplaced foot fall can surely lead to my death … of embarrassment.   Yet, I make it to the top.  Since I don’t have a flag to plant, I take another picture from the reverse angle.

Ugh.

We walk on.  I see another bird giving me another opportunity to get National Geographic.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

We continue down the trail.

More flat trail. Hallelujah!

We encounter a tree stump that irritates BatPat.

Where’a the rest of the tree?

When she last visited a few months earlier, the entire tree had been on the ground.  BatPat had planned on taking a family portrait with her husband, Mick, her son, Guinness and daughter, Hepburn.

BatPat:  Who moved the tree?

Me:  Tree poachers?

She’s relieved that the birdhouse is still in another tree.

Anyone home?

BatPat:  I wonder who lives there?

Me:  Why don’t you toss an acorn at the hole?

BatPat gives me the stink-eye.  We then return to civilization – her house where, appropriately, since we have birds on the brain, we eat turkey for dinner.

Lame Adventure 262: Picture Perfect

Apparently,  my sister, Dovima, has reached her statute of limitations with me constantly photographing, Thurber, the family dog.

"Christmas, is over, am I stuck wearing this red bow until New Year's?"

She has asked me to shoot a Christmas day family portrait of her with Sweet Pea, her daughter/my niece, and Herb (with a silent h), her husband/my bro-in-law.

Mr. & Mrs Smith with The Cookie Maker (yes, that be you, Sweet Pea)

In return, my sister, has taken it upon herself to shoot an action shot of me sitting in-between our pappy and brother, Axel.

Axel worrying about the sodium content of the Christmas dinner for everyone in America.

Lame Adventure 261: Christmas Overload

The Lame Adventures family dog, Thurber, is suffering.  Everything he got squeaks.  In fact, he did not seem like his usual perky self when I suggested:

Me:  Next year I’m gonna get you a squeaking Excedrin, Little Guy!  What do you think of that?

"God in Heaven, please make it stop!"

At Target, my sister found the equivalent of a Harry & David sampler with a squeaking sausage, pear, Swiss cheese, cheesy ball and bag of crunchy cashew nuts.  I gifted him with the purple squeaking duck.

"Hm. This doesn't smell like a pear."

"Hey! This Swiss is squeaking!"

"I'm trying hard to not appear to be suffering mental cruelty."

My niece, Sweet Pea, turned on the TV to the Yule Log.

American classic or why Europe thinks we're idiots.

"This is mesmerizing!"

"You change that channel, I'll bite your paw off!"

Lame Adventure 260: Child Labor

While my sister, Dovima, and I pound Trader Joe’s Brandy Beans by the fistful, her daughter, my niece and heir to my string collection, Sweet Pea, is busy baking all the Christmas cookies.

Excellent!

Gotta say Dovima has raised that kid right!  Sweet Pea is baking snowballs, press cookies and Oreo Truffles.

Snowballs, also called Mexican Wedding cookies or Sandies (a name preferred by our late grandmother, Vesuvius) are my favorite.  Sweet Pea is baking those first.

Cooling sheet of naked snowballs.

Bowl of powdered sugar snowball dressing.

Dressing the balls.

Unwelcome intruder.

Snowballs!

After baking the snowballs Sweet Pea moves onto another holiday hit, press cookies in the shape of Christmas trees.

Pressing away!

Pre-launch press cookies.

With the leftover dough Sweet Pea makes three freak-shaped cookies – one each for her mother, father and aunt, which we eat while watching The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at the multiplex.

Freak cookies. Yum!

Company cookies.

A few words about the film; we liked it very much, but everyone spoke English with a Swedish-y accent.  This reminded me of films made back in the day when the bad guys whether they be German spies or Japanese military men always spoke English to each other with accents, probably because Hollywood has issues with subtitles.  Our real problem with the accents is that our three sets of middle age ears each missed portions of the dialogue.  Dovima is still banging her head against the kitchen counter since she entirely missed the twist at the end The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo resolving the mystery with Christopher Plummer’s granddaughter.  My sister’s new mantra is:

Dovima:  Idiot!

My brother-in-law, Herb (with a silent h), and I have tried to assure her that she’s not an idiot, just pretty deaf.  Herb even went so far as to claim:

Herb:  Honey, there were times during the movie when I wanted to stand in front of the screen with a hearing horn!

His attempt at delivering a comforting lament fell on deaf ears.

Overall, this film is a very entertaining thriller and probably even better if heard in its entirety.

Back to cookies, after baking the press cookies, Sweet Pea made some Pillsbury slice and bake for a friend of hers.

Not bad.

Product placement shot like Coca Cola and Marlboro cigarettes in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Dovima and I, the official tasters, tried a few of those.  Surprisingly, they were pretty good.

Dovima:  What do you think’s the center stuff that makes them taste so good?

Me: Probably a lot of hydrogenated fat.

Then, Sweet Pea made her own favorites, Oreo Truffles.  Just smash a package of Oreos to smithereens, mix in a brick of cream cheese and refrigerate for two hours or freeze for 45 minutes.

Pulverizing Oreos.

Mixing cream cheese with Oreos.

Truffles ready for chilling.

Thurber keeping his distance.

Outside cat taunting Thurber, "Hey Big Dumb Wuss!"

Highly not recommended for the lactose intolerant set.

Lame Adventure 259: By Request, How I Wrap Gifts

In a one-word answer: poorly.

My blogger buddy, Kathy, who is the Martha Stewart of Tennessee, has been egging me on to reveal my gift-wrapping style.  She anticipates a good chuckle at the expense of my incompetence in this department.  I hope I deliver.

On Tuesday, my unwrapped gifts and I exited my comfort zone, the soot coated Apple, to head out to the San Francisco Bay Area to spend Christmas with my family.  As I do every year, I am spreading my special brand of sour to my sister, Dovima, niece, Sweet Pea, and brother-in-law, Herb (pronounced with a silent h).

Since my finances have been in freefall for the third year in a row and showing zero sign of reversing, thanks to having a get rich slow job at Cheapskates R Us, it has been years since I have given anyone of either my nearest (my East Coast posse) or farthest (my family and best friend from college, BatPat) a gift they rate.  Fortunately, I am the intrepid-type, so I do try to at least give everyone that matters a gift that reflects some degree of thought.  Yet, I arrived suffering a mini-crisis for I completely forgot about getting anything for Thurber, the family dog!

"How could you forget me?"

This is the first year I’ve ever forgotten the hound. I felt terribly turdish.  On Wednesday, I raced out to Target with Sweet Pea and Dovima to get him something he can chew on.  I was leaning toward a squeaky chicken but Sweet Pea thought this purple mallard went better with Thurber’s fur color.

Quack.

I was drawn to the duck’s soulful expression, the same sultry look I’ve been known to give my special someone, Yakking Gadfly.  The clerk at Target, a guy about my own age – over 40, under death – eyed me and eyed Thurber’s duck.

Me (screaming inside my head):  What?!

I withheld my inner irate New Yorker and silently shelled out five clams for the duck.

Target Clerk (snarky):  Happy Holidays to you and your duck.

Then, he quacked.  I bring out the best in everyone …

Onto my wrap-style, but not with Thurber’s duck, but with my brother, Axel’s, original gift I literally spent hours researching.

Danny Shanahan New Yorker Magazine tee shirt.

This New Yorker tee shirt happens to now be a collector’s item!

Lame Adventures Readership (en masse; all three of you):  Why?

Apparently, The New Yorker is no longer producing mugs or tee shirts with any cartoon of a reader’s choice.  I’m outraged!   Had I known this, I also would have pounced on getting a few Michael Maslin cartoons on tee shirts.  Check out his wonderful web site here.  Now that these tee shirts are such rarities, I am sure I will score even more points with my brother, not that I think this will ever top the toaster-radio that scored such a hit with Axel ten years ago.

How to wrap a New Yorker tee shirt without a box:

Swipe a roll of your sister's gridded wrapping paper.

Cut gridded wrap with your pen lying on top so you do not misplace your pen again.

Place tee shirt on gridded wrap.

Fold tee shirt.

Fold wrap left.

Fold wrap right.

Accidentally photograph dart board on wall.

Accidentally photograph stars on wall above dart board.

While holding camera strap in teeth trim wrap.

Yes, that is drool on wrap from holding camera strap in teeth.

Wrapping finally cut to correct size.

Spend ten minutes looking for tape.

Tape sitting atop tags where it had been all along.

Taped wrapping.

Tagged wrapping.

Select blue ribbon in recognition of many Jewish friends that loathe this time of year.

Spend fifteen minutes struggling to unpeel backing from bow.

Peeled bow.

Voila!

Take a two hour nap.

Qaulification to enter Recycling Hall of Shame.