Friday, October 10, 2014

The Saga of Evelyn and Arnie

Evelyn had the body of a cheerleader when she got married. Everything about her was perky including her perfectly formed cupcake breasts. 

Arnie had tight abs, bodybuilder pecs and big biceps when he got married. He loved wearing a speedo and he wore it well. 

Together Evelyn and Arnie had beautiful nights together. They oohed and aahed in unison until the first signs of dawn. 

Neighbors listened through the walls and were jealous they never oohed and aahed as well as Evelyn and Arnie.  

In the morning Evelyn and Arnie went to work tired. 

As the years wore on Evelyn developed flabby thighs. Her belly was no longer cheerleader tight.  It had a donut appeal. Her perky cupcake breasts sagged and bounced aimlessly if she didn’t wear a bra. 

Arnie fared no better.  His tight abs gave way to a sagging sugar beer belly. A 32 inch waist was long gone. Elastic waist pants replaced the speedo. He needed a man-bra.

At night they slept soundly.

Then one day Evelyn received a gift certificate for being Employee of the Month. When she went to the store to redeem it she couldn’t find anything she wanted. 

As she was leaving the store she noticed a display for the Fitbit, the activity tracker that measures steps taken.  On an unexplained whim she bought two.  

For weeks the Fitbits stayed on the counter between take-out containers of eggplant parmesan and orange bacon chicken. 

One bright sunny Saturday they decided to open the Fitbits.  They gasped at the suggestion of 10,000 steps per day. But since they had them they decided to give them a one week trial. 

One week became two… then three… then four… 

They walked together. They walked alone. In rain. In snow. They walked.  
They walked to the farmers market and bought organic food.  

Evelyn’s thighs got thinner. Her belly less doughy. Her breasts stopped wandering aimlessly without a bra. 

Arnie’s sugar beer belly got less jiggy.  He stopped sporting elastic waist pants.  His man boobs got more manly. He secretly bought a speedo.  

The other night while watching “Modern Family” Arnie looked at Evelyn and she looked at him.  There was a spark, a familiar spark reminiscent of how they used to look at each other.  

Before “Modern Family” was over Arnie turned off the TV and took Evelyn’s hand. He led her upstairs. 

The next morning they went to work tired.

They now easily surpass 10,000 steps each per day, and on the weekends between many oohs and aahs they hit 16,000 steps each. 

For Evelyn and Arnie the Fitbit revitalized their marriage. 

Ooh.  Aah. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Perfect Party Pistachio Cake

I love cake. 

I love ice cream.

I love a scoop of ice cream resting comfortably on a slice of cake as my utensil-of-choice gently slices through for a perfect ratio of cake to ice cream. I slowly bring it to the tip of my lips. I part my lips and savor the glory that is ice cream and cake. It’s a party in the mouth.

Mmm, mmm good…

Way back in the 70s my mother made a Pistachio Cake that was totally delicious.  It was a simple cake, and the recipe came from one of the popular women's magazines of the day.  I assume it was the 70s but it could easily have been from the late 60s.  Through the years whenever she made it I would, as a husky boy with a huskier appetite, devour piece after piece with the appropriate amount of vanilla ice cream. 

When I moved to California the Pistachio Cake became a fond memory, and truth be told, I never thought about making it myself.  I don’t know why. It just happened. 

After my mother died I was going through her recipes, all neatly typed on 3x5 index cards, and came across the Pistachio Cake recipe.  My fingers trembled at the thought of making it. In my hand was the secret recipe. I could feel the happy memories engulfing me. I even had a tear release itself from my eye. A tear of pistachio joy. 

In my snotty way I have considered myself a real good cook, a real good baker who only uses fresh ingredients and makes everything from scratch. In my kitchen the rule is no “package” ingredients whatsoever,  It would be like Picasso using a paint-by-numbers kit. 

Now I make one tiny exception:  The Pistachio Cake 

I’ve made it for friends and they all love it and they’ve asked for the recipe. So without any further explanation I have decided to share it with all of you: 

1 pkg. white cake mix
1 pkg. Royal Instant Pistachio pudding
4 eggs
3/4 cup Crisco Oil
3/4 cup water
4 tsp. almond extract

Combine all in bowl. Beat for 3 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. 

When cooled cover with powdered sugar. 

If you really want to give it an even more 60s/70s throwback feel instead of vanilla ice cream use a big scope of Cool Whip.  

The Pistachio Cake is a perfect way for me to remember my Mom… maybe your Mom too. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Doing the Sidewalk Walk

I like to sidewalk walk a lot.  It keeps me fit and sexy.  It keeps me from tripping into the gutter and  chipping a tooth. It keeps from getting hit by speedings cars with drivers too busy texting to pay attention to someone on the street. 

I guess you could say I have a deep love of sidewalks. 

This past weekend I was sidewalk walking in my neighborhood when I stumbled across a side street I was going to have to cross.  As I slowed myself to look left and to look right for any cars I happened to look down. And there right before my feet was the following: 

And yes, those are my feet, size 10 1/2, in their Reebok sneakers with day-glow green laces observing the message that lay below me. 

What was I to do? If this was the end of the sidewalk then what was I going to meet across the street? Was this an omen?  Was something deadly waiting for me? 

Now I’m not one to be scared of messages scrawled across cement. I know all about graffiti. I’ve seen walks and pavements gang tagged. This was different. The penmanship was crisp and clear and easy to read.  The author spelled everything correctly.  There was even a period at the end. 

This was a strong statement that could not be ignored. 

Now I assume you must be thinking I’m insane. Sure I’ve crossed many streets before.  Thousands of streets in thousands of neighborhoods, but never was a message written on the sidewalk warning me the sidewalk has ended.  

Was this what Nostradamus meant, and was it intended specifically for me? 

I could easily have turned around and returned from where I came, but I refused to let a message stop me from going where I needed to go.  And I needed to go ASAP. I was getting the shakes,,, the shivers… and a pounding in my head.  

I took a deep breath and leaped across the street. And once across the street this is what I saw:  

Phew!  Nostradamus be damned. It wasn’t the end of my world. I was where the sidewalk starts.

I wiped the sweat from my brow and quickly ran to my destination… The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

I am Michael hear me roar and nothing — not even a sidewalk warning — comes between me and my coffee.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Shame of Rust

Shame. It does a lot to your self-esteem, and not in a good way.  It drives some people to unthinkable acts of self-destruction.  It’s a jolt of everlasting guilt on the soul. It’s that pimple that just won’t go away. 

You can only imagine the assault on my self-esteem when I woke up one morning and found rust stains in my toilet bowl. 

For days prior the water in the tank was smelling stagnant and appeared rusty. With every flush the water flow marks in the toilet got darker. The embarrassment! The shame! The fear of having guests who needed to pee or poo! 

I tried bleaching and scrubbing and bought every available toilet cleaner on the market. Nothing seemed to work, and with every flush the rust seemed to glow brighter, taunting me, accusing me of being a bad house-cleaner.  

I couldn’t sleep. I would stay awake thinking I didn’t deserve anything better than a rust stained toilet. I was constipated with thoughts of rust. There were no sweet dreams for me. 

The shame became so overwhelming that I seriously contemplated replacing the toilet with a brand new rust-free toilet. But I refused to let the rust stains win. I am Michael hear me roar and I do not accept defeat, especially from a toilet. 

So what did I do? I did what anyone overwhelmed by shame would do. In the dark of night I secretly logged on to the Internet for help. I searched and searched and read horror stories of rust and rusty toilets and the demise of those whose toilets were forever rusty. 

Then I came upon a solution, a rather simple solution, involving cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide.  Could it be that simple of a solution? 

One-quarter cup cream of tartar mixed with hydrogen peroxide to form a paste. The paste is then rubbed on the dry rust stains and left there for an hour, or two, or overnight depending on the severity of the stain.

I carefully prepared the concoction and rubbed the paste along the rust. After waiting a few hours I approached my toilet, took a deep breath, and flushed… and Yes! Yes! Yes! Hallelujah! The rust stains disappeared. 

The shame is lifted. Friends are invited to use my bathroom again. 

Now I gratefully peer into my toilet bowl and smile a shame-less smile of total rust-free glee.  


Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Burping The Tupperware

Years ago I was invited to a Tupperware party.  I had just moved into a new apartment with more cabinet space than I needed so I figured I’d go and buy a container or two to fill a cabinet. I told myself not to spend more than $30.  

What I didn’t know was the Tupperware party was being hosted by a Drag Queen.  From the moment she made her grand entrance singing and dancing about the joys of Tupperware I was hooked.  I wanted Tupperware. I needed Tupperware.  I had to have Tupperware. I ending up spending $238 on Tupperware.

My new Tupperware filled my new cabinets nicely.  

It wasn’t until I used my new Tupperware for the first time that I experienced the true joy of “burping” the Tupperware.  

After making more pasta with chicken and sundried tomatoes than I could possibly eat in one sitting I reached for the Tupperware to store my leftovers. I carefully spooned the food into my new Tupperware container and as I put on the lid I remembered to “burp” the Tupperware in order to keep the food fresh.  

As that burp exhaled from inside the container a delicious whiff of the pasta with chicken and sundered tomatoes escaped filling my nostrils with an “aaaaah” moment.  The memory of the first bite repeated itself.  

I burped and whiffed a second time… and a third… and each moment felt better than the one before.  I was getting hungry all over again, but I didn’t eat the leftovers. I wanted to burp and whiff again and again.  And I did. 

Ever since that first moment when I discovered the joys of Tupperware burp and whiff I cannot cook any food without cooking extra.  I look forward to storing leftovers and sneaking into the refrigerator late at night for a quick burp and whiff.  Sometimes I can’t control the urge, and after numerous burps and whiffs I whip out a fork and eat everything. 

If I’m at someone’s house and see they have Tupperware containers in their refrigerator I create a diversion so I can sneak into their refrigerator, grab the tupperware, and give it a good  burp and whiff. Most times it’s a delicious burp and whiff followed by a recipe request, but sometimes, on a rare occasion, it’s a burp and whiff then stink and barf. When that happens I am forced to end my friendship with the Tupperware offender. 

Tonight I’m making lots of roasted chicken with roasted potatoes and roasted vegetables with fresh rosemary. 

Can’t wait until after dinner to… well, you know… 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Alphabet Hallucination

This morning around dawn I seemed stuck in a dream.  Or I was coming out of a dream and stuck between sleep and being awake.  Or I was awake and stuck in an early morning alphabet-filled hallucination. 

I always sleep through the night. I never have insomnia and I never have to use the bathroom in the wee hours.  Once I turn out the lights I’m asleep within minutes and don’t wake up until morning.  

One night the Los Angeles swat time surrounded my building.  Helicopters swirled above the building. They were loud. They didn’t wake me.  It wasn’t until the helicopter floodlights lit up my bedroom like a sunburst that I finally woke up.  My body thought it was dawn.  That’s how sound I sleep.

Once I wake up I’m full of cosmic energy ready to jump our of bed and dance to Pharrell’s “Happy” (which is quite the enjoyable sight to see). 

But this morning I couldn’t get myself from the sleep state into the awake state.  I was in limbo, the purgatory of sleep, and there was only one thing on my mind.

I couldn’t figure out how to spell the word “leisurely.”  The alphabet was bouncing around in my brain like millions of pingpong balls.  My frustration was bordering on hysterical.  I kept wanting a dictionary but no dictionary was within reach.  The one I keep beside my bed was nowhere to be found.   

Leasurelee… leezureley… My mind was hurting. 

Leasurelee… leezureley… My mind couldn’t remember. 

Leasurelee… leezureley… My mind cried out for help from the Spelling Bee Gods.  

The alphabet teased me relentlessly, bullying me with its letters, taunting me, laughing at me, humiliating me, shaming me… 

I was scared I might never be able to spell correctly. It was like I was drowning in a sea of alphabet soup and there was no lifeguard to save me, no life jacket, and when I reached out the letters pulled away forcing me down down down to the bottom of the broth.

I held my breath. I gathered what little strength I had…

Leasurelee… leezureley… liesurely… no, no hell no!

Leasurelee… leezureley… L-E-I-S-U-R-E-L-Y… yeah! 

I swam to the light and emerged from my alphabet hallucination… 

And I sang Clap along if you know what happiness is to you… because I’m happy…. so friggin’ happy… 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Inked Wrist Destination

My eyes wander always looking north and south and east and west aware of everything and everyone around me. Sometimes I see things no human eyes should ever see, and sometimes I see things that get me all revved up. 

Not too long ago I was eye-wandering at a film conference and noticed a woman’s wrist. It was a slender wrist that was very lady-like.  It was a wrist you could imagine being in a generic wrist watch commercial.  

Then I saw something that got me all revved up.  Adorning her wrist were a few bangles and underneath the bangles I glimpsed a colorful wrist tattoo.  

As her wrist moved so did my eyes doing my best to look between the jingling bangles and identify what the tattoo could be.  I turned my head in all sorts of directions for a better look.  And there it was… a map of some sort.  Possibly a treasure map? There were different colored lines going in different directions. I needed to see more.

Just as she was about to walk away I eye-wandered north and within seconds we were eye to eye. Smiles. Hello. 

She asked me something about the seminar we just attended, initiating proper film conference conversation, but I was too tattoo-focused to answer her accordingly. 

Then it dawned on me. It was a subway map. Was it from my beloved Boston? Was she a fellow Bostonian and possibly from the same suburban landscape as myself? 

I immediately inquired. She seemed pleased, and somewhat relieved, for the change of subject.  Grinning like a cheshire cat she announced it was a tattoo of the Chicago subway map.  I immediately asked “Are you from Chicago?”  She was, and proud of it.  She said if she ever moved back she could always find her way around the city.  

Because I live in Los Angeles in Los Feliz should I tattoo my wrist with the 181 Bus Route?  The bus stop is in front of my apartment and it goes northeast and west.   Whenever I need to take a bus (usually once a year) I waste time online checking to see if the 181 stops at my desired destination. If it were tattooed on my wrist I could save that precious search time and use my time more wisely… to get in another game or two of Candy Crush. 

If the Chicago girl moves to another subway city wouldn’t she, out of habit, keep looking at her wrist for directions and wind up lost in places she didn’t want to be, or where she shouldn’t be?  

Because I’m thinking of someday moving out of this apartment and into another neighborhood I’m going to forego the 181 Bus Route tattoo. 

I’ve decided to tattoo the cab company phone number on my wrist instead.  It’s an 800 number.