Saturday, February 27, 2010

Their mothers must be so proud.

The four-man U.S. bobsled team led by John Napier crashed during its first heat yesterday at the Whistler Sliding Track in Vancouver. After the sled overturned the stupid contraption ran the entire course upside-down on the team’s heads at 95 m.p.h, which made for some pretty exciting action waiting to see if anybody got creamed. (Thank God for helmets, right?)
From what I can tell, most bobsledders aren’t exactly “young” in terms of athletes ... they’re typically overweight men in their 30s without any real jobs who seriously believe horsing around like this is a sport and gives them special value as human beings. Four men dressed in Speedo wetsuits sit on top of each other in a $100,000 sled squished like sardines and shoot down a track of ice ... and three of them don’t even get to see where they’re going. My question is, if the guy in front steers the sled and the guy in back is the brakeman, what do the men in the middle do — sing Broadway show tunes?

The only real level of skill in bobsledding is apparently how fast they can jump in at the beginning, because there’s always an announcer screaming, “That's their fastest start time yet! THE AMERICANS ARE SO GOOD AT GETTING INTO THE SLED!” Their mothers must be so proud.

Friday, February 26, 2010

And the best part is, nobody fell down!

A hearty Howdygram MAZEL TOV to the top six women figure skaters for their great show last night in Vancouver. No kidding, this was the first Olympics I can recall in recent history where nobody landed on their ass and the winning score wasn’t based on who screwed up the least. While this might be viewed as a disappointment in some circles, I was mighty amazed by the skaters’ ability to wear large amounts of lip gloss and nail all their jumps under such intense pressure. Of particular note was the gold medalist from South Korea (pictured), whose name is either Yu-Na Kim or Kim Yu-Na depending on which news article you’re reading. Before the competition she told a reporter that she would be a disgrace to her entire country and everybody would stop loving her if she didn’t win gold. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that sounds like some really heavy nationalistic crap to pile on a 95-pound figure skater. Maybe she should consider another line of work, like retail sales. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quick and easy Un-Fried Fries to the rescue.

Sam and I are losing weight. Since I’ve got way more to lose than he does I’m staying away from most restaurants and fast food, which means I get cravings for a lot of things I’ve been eliminating from my diet ... and right now French fries top the list. So here’s a terrific recipe for replacement fries that Sam loves as much as I do:

  • 2 lbs. russet potatoes

  • Lawry’s Seasoned Salt

  • Pam canola oil cooking spray

  • Preheat your oven to 425°. Spray a large nonstick cookie sheet with Pam. Slice the potatoes into rounds about ¼-inch thick. Line them up on the cookie sheet in a nice single layer, spray the potatoes with Pam and sprinkle with Lawry’s salt. Bake for 20 minutes.
    We usually enjoy these with ketchup or barbecue sauce, but I’m thinking there are other possibilities, too. For instance, I might turn these into Marcy’s Fabulous Chili-Cheese Un-Fried Fries with some nonfat Hormel turkey chili and a little clump of shredded cheese! If you can dream up other variations please leave a comment for our Howdygram readers. Gracias to everybody and I’m going back to bed now.

    Wednesday, February 24, 2010

    Please give these people a real job.

    The Howdygram is convinced this would be a perfect story for Mad Magazine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the iconic American hotdog is a danger to children ... and NOT because it’s cheap processed meat stuffed with frightening chemicals and preservatives. In a recent policy statement the group said choking on hotdogs “poses an important and relatively underaddressed problem for U.S. children,” especially those ages three and younger. They’re asking the FDA to insist that hotdog manufacturers include a warning label on its packaging and (ready for this?) REDESIGN THEIR PRODUCT TO PREVENT CHOKING. In addition to hotdogs, the AAP’s report also cited hard candy, peanuts, grapes, raw carrots, apples, popcorn, peanut butter, marshmallows and gum.

    Redesign hotdogs? Seriously? Where will we ever find buns for hotdogs shaped like trapezoids? And who’s going to redesign grapes and carrots — God? What a bunch of Einsteins. If the AAP is so concerned about choking hazards maybe they should ask parents to choose from two directives: 1) puree everything until your kid is 18 years old; or 2) chop his food into teeny pieces and then (surprise!) SUPERVISE HIM WHILE HE EATS. Thank you for reading this.

    Monday, February 22, 2010

    And now, a quick Olympics recap.

    It was a busy weekend in Vancouver. In case you haven’t been paying attention, your remote Howdygram reporter (me) is pleased to offer a brief overview of Saturday and Sunday’s highlights. For starters, Bode Miller won gold for the U.S. in the Men’s Super Combined (downhill skiing and slalom), the U.S. hockey team creamed Canada, Apolo Ohno took bronze in 1,000-meter Short Track Speedskating, and lots of uncoordinated athletes fell down mountains, landed on their butts and crashed their bobsleds. The Men’s 30km Pursuit cross-country race was particularly fun to watch because it was 55°, the course was a pile of slush and the skiiers were all waddling around like they had a pantload. Marcus Hellner from Sweden won the gold.

    And then we get to ice dancing, an Olympic event that’s really deteriorated over the years. They started out on Saturday with every couple doing the same damn dance one at a time, which is so boring you’d have a better time watching your eyebrows grow. (The judges may need to see this, but WE sure don’t.) The next day all the couples came back to do their own version of a national folk dance from any country on the planet. Fair enough. But the Russian dancers decided to interpret Australian Aborginals and showed up in red loincloths with shrubs glued to their skates. They looked like a pair of idiots.
    Halfway into their stupid routine (which included pulling each other’s hair) I prayed for another couple like Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who won gold skating to Ravel’s Bolero at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo. Torvill and Dean scored a perfect 6.0 from every judge; nobody’s ever matched them since. Here’s the video:

    Of course, one Olympic event that always stirs the soul is CURLING ... an exhilarating game for physically-challenged and socially inept men that’s basically shuffleboard on ice played with crockpots and brooms. The Norweigans (pictured below) like to dress up in clown pants.

    Sunday, February 21, 2010

    A terrific crockpot recipe for Greek Chicken.

    Every once in a while I feel overwhelmingly domestic ... and today is one of those days. It’s 5 a.m. and I’m already thinking about dinner! We’re having Crockpot Greek Chicken, and here’s the recipe in case you’re as hungry as I am. (It doesn’t get much easier than this.)
    • 1 cup flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 6 to 8 boneless, skinless chicken breastss
    • 1  can cream of chicken soup
    • Juice of 2 lemons plus chicken broth to equal ½ cup liquid
    Trim any visible fat from the chicken and cut into large pieces. Combine first three ingredients in a bowl and dredge the chicken. Place chicken into crockpot, then add the soup, lemon juice and broth. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours. Serve with a warm baguette and nice cloth napkins.
    Please let me know what you think of this recipe if you ever decide to try it. You can either post a comment here or send me an email. Thank you! (Incidentally, feel free to use paper napkins if you want to.)

    Saturday, February 20, 2010

    Out of the woods.

    I might be in the minority here, but I still like Tiger Woods. From the minute his big hoo-hah sex scandal hit the news last November my primary thought was, THIS IS NOBODY’S BUSINESS, including that endless parade of creepy “cocktail waitresses” who couldn’t wait to tell the world about the sordid details of their real or imagined involvement. The bottom line is, Tiger Woods doesn’t owe me an apology. He doesn’t owe YOU an apology, either. He’s not the first millionaire athlete who’s cheated on his wife, and he won’t be the last. If Tiger owes an apology to anybody, it’s his wife and family ... and probably to his corporate sponsors, too, for wrecking the public image they paid so much for. Other than that, it’s over. I JUST WANT HIM TO GET BACK TO PLAYING GOLF.

    Actually, at the end of the day I think the only true villain in this scenario is Gloria Allred, that sickening, media-grubbing lawyer who’s always trying to squeeze herself in front of a TV camera. According to an article I read this morning on, Allred is representing porn star Joslyn James, who’s upset that Tiger didn’t apologize to her publicly during his press conference yesterday because he once told her she was “the only woman in life except for his wife.” Nice going, Gloria. Another manufactured opportunity to plaster your name in the news.

    Friday, February 19, 2010

    Another nitwit bites the dust.

    Sam has zero interest in men’s figure skating. I’m not sure why, although it’s my guess he just doesn’t enjoy the spectacle of skinny, fruity guys spinning around in velvet Romeo costumes. But they don’t bother ME, so last night I decided to watch the men’s figure skating finals from Vancouver. For about an hour the competition was a little tedious. Some of the skaters were goony, one had really bad skin, none were very interesting and everybody fell down. Eventually we get to the GOOD STUFF ... the last group of six who had the highest scores after the short program on Tuesday.
    In a well-deserved upset, U.S. figure skater Evan Lysacek turned in a gold medal performance against Evgeny Plushenko from Russia, the smarmy little nitwit who was so positive he’d won that he actually blew kisses to the judges after his performance. Always striving to maintain his status as the biggest jerk on ice, after Plushenko lost the gold to Lysacek he remarked to reporters: “I suppose Evan needs the medal more than I do. Maybe it’s because I already have one.” Lysacek (left) and Plushenko are pictured above.

    In other Olympics news, those wacky sports-loving South Koreans apparently hold such unfathomable hatred for U.S. short track speed skater Apolo Ohno that online blogs and bulletin boards are plastered with nasty posts and death threats. The bad blood goes back eight years to the Olympics in Salt Lake City, where South Koreans think Ohno stole the gold from Kim Dong-sung, who finished first in the 1500-meter race but was disqualified for blocking. As a result, angry anti-Ohno emails numbering in the thousands shut down the U.S. Olympic Committee server for nine hours, a South Korean company manufactured toilet paper with Ohno’s face on every sheet, and there’s even a South Korean video game featuring an Ohno character you can shoot in the head. Oy ... talk about SORE LOSERS. I’m surprised the Olympic Committee hasn’t disqualified the entire country of South Korea for being unsportsmanlike SLOBS. Thank you for reading this.

    Thursday, February 18, 2010

    When everything hurts.

    Boy, yesterday was really crappy ... one of those days when everything hurt and just kept getting worse. My knees were stiff, my knuckles ached, my plantar fasciitis was in full swing, I had a bloody nose, a headache and a burning rash on my leg. I spent all day limping, shlepping and moaning. At lunch time I sliced my right index finger opening a stupid can of turkey chili, and then around 10 last night I accidentally whacked a drinking glass off the kitchen counter that shattered all over the floor. Shards of glass were EVERYWHERE. Since I was already such a whiny mess Sam swept the stone floor and then vacuumed it, but neither of us realized that a few little slivers of glass had migrated back up to the counter. Naturally I cut both hands.

    And now, on top of all that, I CAN’T SLEEP. I’ve been up for the last three hours reading the news on and MSNBC, printing new and better labels for the file folders in my desk and shopping on (my favorite air freshener refills and FREE SHIPPING), (a pair of extra-soft down pillows) and (a how-to manual for the latest version of Adobe’s Dreamweaver software). It’s been a busy night. Maybe I should try going back to bed before I order furniture and a new car. Thank you for reading this.

    Wednesday, February 17, 2010

    Meet the newest addition to the Marks family.

    I meant to post a photo of my new iMac computer a couple of days ago ... but better late than never, right? Here it is in all its widescreen glory. This is definitely the fastest computer on the planet, and Apple’s new Magic Mouse is particularly amazing. It’s a cordless Bluetooth device that lets you scroll through documents, folders and pages (up and down, left and right) like you would on an iPhone, with a two-finger swipe. Incidentally, I also upgraded to the latest version of Adobe Creative Suite, which includes InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, Acrobat, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash and more. One of these days I’ll definitely have to stop playing with my new toys and get back to work here. Please feel free to post a comment or send an email to wish me mazel tov. And now I’m going back to bed. Thank you.

    Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    Sometimes we get what we deserve.

    U.S. snowboard cross hotshot Lindsey Jacobellis screwed up her chances for an Olympic win today when she veered off course during the semi-finals and failed to qualify for the medal round. Know what? I LOVE THIS NEWS. Lindsey Jacobellis is the same screwball who loused up her chance for a gold medal at the 2006 Olympics in Torino by showboating during the final seconds of the race, landing on her ass (see video clip below) and then spending the next four years refusing to admit what she did even though the whole world saw it on live TV. She’s STILL trying to make everybody believe it was just a “snowboard trick that didn’t work.” BALONEY. Even the sports commentators knew what she did. I, for one, can’t wait to see the video clip of today’s semi-final run. (To my readers: I apologize if you think I’m being a snot, but it really feels terrific to vent like this now and then.)

    In other news that has absolutely nothing to do with the winter Olympics, MY NEW MACINTOSH COMPUTER WAS INSTALLED YESTERDAY. It’s truly a thing of beauty and I want to thank Steve Jobs and his Macintosh gods for their latest creation. Have a nice day and shalom to everybody!

    Sunday, February 14, 2010

    Things to do on Valentine's Day.

    Seriously, it really isn’t my intention to print a list of suggested activities for Valentine’s Day, such as taking somebody out for a club sandwich with fries and a dill pickle, shlepping home a few chocolates, blowing up balloons or splurging on a bouquet of flowery whatevers. Instead I’ll discuss what’s happening right here at the Howdygram nerve center, which is always a hub of excitement and adventure. Okay, maybe not.

    For one thing, let’s all take a moment to remember recently-deceased Captain Phil from the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch” TV series, who conked out last week on board his Alaskan crab fishing boat Cornelia Marie. If you’ve never watched this show, you should really treat yourself. It’s about five boats filled with lunatic crab fishermen as they zoom around the Bering Sea in the dead of winter dodging hurricane-force winds, thousand-foot waves and ice chunks the size of South Dakota. Captain Phil’s diet apparently consisted of bacon, Red Bull and Marlboros, so his death at age 53 was no huge surprise.

    Today I’m also celebrating the arrival of my new iMac computer, which arrived last night (no kidding) via FedEx Ground. It’s still in the box because I stopped installing my own computer hardware about 10 years ago. I hire people to do that for me now! I had an excellent professional set-up dude when I lived in California and I’ve got another one here in Dallas, except her name is Betty. As soon as all this gorgeous new stuff is up and running I’ll post a photo on the Howdygram. Thank you for reading this ... and happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

    Saturday, February 13, 2010

    The Winter Olympics, day two.

    Here’s breaking news from your official Howdygram remote correspondent to the Winter Olympics! Some of today’s significant stories from Vancouver include:
    • Shani Davis did not medal in the 5,000 meter race. This certainly was no huge surprise to anybody after the U.S. speedskater was caught on camera spitting and yawning less than 60 seconds before the event began. His roommate in the Olympic Village says Shani also forgot to make his bed. 
    • There are way too many Austrians in the ski jump events. I learned today that many of these athletes continue jumping well into their 30s because “the money is still there.” My question is, who the hell keeps paying these people to jump off mountains? Does anybody in Austria ever get a real job?
    • U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir is scared. He had to hire extra security after receiving snotty emails and threatening letters from activists because he likes to wear fur on his costumes. Frankly, this story ranks very high on my Who Gives A Crap List. Sure, the fur looks stupid, but I don’t think you have to hire a hitman or anything.
    And now, in honor of the Chinese New Year, I’m going to order in a pile of food and celebrate the Year of the Egg Roll. Thank you for reading this.

    Friday, February 12, 2010

    Oy, it's the Winter Olympics.

    No offense, but I honestly can’t think of anything more boring than a bunch of Canadians. Tonight’s opening ceremonies for the Vancouver Olympics included a number of opportunities to cure your insomnia: costumed Eskimos and Indians dancing around four phallic totem poles, the history of Canada narrated by Donald Sutherland, several medleys of the top two songs from Canada’s hit parade, God Save the Queen and O Canada, plus some award-winning artificial snow falling from the stadium ceiling. Adding to the games’ excitement: crappy weather, a Russian luge athlete who got killed today during a practice run and another chance to watch showoff snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis acting like a nitwit. Keep an eye on the Howdygram for more Olympics news in the days to come!

    The morning after.

    It’s official. According to a report on the Dallas Morning News’ website a few minutes ago, we got a foot of snow yesterday ... that’s a record snowfall for the Dallas area, a very big hoo-hah and definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for almost everybody who lives here. A typical winter in Dallas produces maybe one or two inches of snow ... and usually NOT on the same day! Keep in mind ... we have no boots, no shovels, no snow blowers, no windshield scrapers, no plows to clear the side streets and NO ROAD SALT. Everything on the ground froze solid at daybreak when the temperature dropped to 29°, so basically the entire metroplex will be paralyzed until this mess starts to melt later on today.

    You don’t need to feel sorry for us, however. By tomorrow the temperature here will be back into the 50s with sunshine, which is normal for Texas at this time of year. Thank God.

    I guess the only real snag is whether or not FedEx Ground will show up today with my new Macintosh computer. Online tracking still says they’re on schedule for a February 12 delivery, but I probably won’t know what’s what until later on today. Stay tuned for breaking news.

    Thursday, February 11, 2010

    It never snows in Dallas.

    Okay, that’s a lie. It snows in Dallas. And today, for the first time in 25 years, it’s snowing a LOT ... and plenty of snow is still falling as I write this! We’ve got seven inches on the ground and expect at least another three before the storm tapers off around 10 p.m.

    Sam was extremely excited about the weather this morning so he bundled up and built a snowman on the front lawn, which turned out so cute that I submitted the photo (see below) to the Dallas Morning News’ website. For your possible interest, the snowman’s eyes are Brussels sprouts and his mouth is baby carrots from the fridge. Sam used a screwdriver handle for the nose because apparently we didn’t have any nose-shaped vegetables on hand. I’m also including a shot of the front of our house as it looked around 10 a.m. At the moment we’re pretty much buried in snow here, and it’s getting worse by the minute.
    Sam came home from work early (5:30 p.m. instead of 10) after his office building lost power around 4, and then they started hearing reports that the roads were turning to ice. He said the commute averaged about 10 m.p.h. on the freeway, and the car in front of him was fishtailing every time the driver tried to slow down. Sam grew up in California and doesn’t know how to drive in weather like this. I’m so glad he got home in one piece that I’ve decided to make omelettes for dinner. Thank you for reading this.

    Monday, February 8, 2010

    The Super Bowl uncovered.

    After watching yesterday’s Super Bowl game I’ve finally come to grips with this reality: PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL IS NOT A SPORT. It’s a televised business powered by greed ... and the players aren’t athletes, they’re overpaid showoffs and performers. Furthermore, the rules are stupid (“A flag is down! The quarterback sneered before the interception so he’s technically offsides and forfeits his mouthguard!”), the stadiums are overpriced, the cheerleaders are silicone-enhanced pole dancers with uniforms, and the sidelines are populated by a mob of sour-looking NFL employees who clutch clipboards, collect sweaty towels and squirt Gatorade. Seriously ... who ARE all those people?

    Adding to my overall disappointment with Super Bowl XLIV was the geriatric half-time entertainment: the tired, wheezing, off-key Who of yesteryear, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend (see photo below).
    Daltrey and Townshend enhanced their 40-year-old playlist with a lot of silly theatrics but couldn’t hide the fact that they just were a couple of desperate old rockers looking for a paycheck. I can’t imagine why anybody thought it would be a good idea to book these guys for the Super Bowl because more than half the audience probably never heard of them. With any luck, maybe next year they can resurrect Herman’s Hermits with motorized wheelchairs to sing a rousing chorus of “Mrs. Brown You’re Wearing Lovely Dentures.” Thank you for reading this.

    Sunday, February 7, 2010

    Making the best of insomnia.

    Know what? I got up to go to the bathroom around 4 a.m. and wound up spending a substantial pile of moolah on I just ordered my brand new Macintosh computer. I’m so damn excited I could poop in my pants.

    This is basically the same iMac system I’ve been ogling for the last couple of months — with the high-definition display, Intel Core 2 Duo processor and a wireless mouse and keyboard — although I decided NOT to go with Apple’s biggest and most expensive model because I really don’t need a monitor that’s wider than my car or a 2TB hard drive. (Just between us, I have a lot of trouble conceptualizing the size of a terabyte anyway, which is the same as 1,000 gigabytes. That’s more storage than I’d use in ten lifetimes.) And since I saved some money by choosing a less outrageous system I decided to add on Apple’s three-year protection plan (worth every penny) and asked them to pre-install the latest edition of Microsoft Office.

    I think Sam would want me to wake him up with the big news, so I’d better head back to bed now. Thank you for reading this!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010

    The ghost of Super Bowl past.

    As we creep up to Super Bowl XLIV (in case you can’t translate Roman numerals, that’s a “44”) I’m reminded of a Super Bowl past in 1985 when my hometown team, the Chicago Bears, were the greatest single season team in NFL history. For your viewing enjoyment, here’s the original rap video that also turned them into big-time media stars. Were these guys adorable, or what?

    I remember the ticker-tape parade in downtown Chicago after the Bears won Super Bowl XX. I was actually THERE, in sub-zero weather, watching the team inch down LaSalle Street on the open roof of a double-decker bus, hundreds of thousands of screaming fans lining the sidewalks and a blizzard of confetti choking the sky from the windows of office buildings. It’s an indelible memory and the closest I ever came to frostbite even though I was wearing a full-length mink coat. (No social commentary, please. In those days I’d do damn near ANYTHING to keep warm.) Shalom.

    Remembering Liberace.

    Allow me to wish you a happy Liberace Day. To educate those of you who might be too young to remember this person, Liberace was the highest paid entertainer in the world for more than 30 years, earning $300,000 a week in Las Vegas throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Basically, he was an over-the-top, strangely effeminate pianist from Milwaukee who seriously wanted the world to believe he wasn’t gay. (He never fooled ANYBODY. Do you know any straight men who would wear an outfit like this?)
    I was lucky enough to see Liberace perform at the Las Vegas Hilton back in 1981 in a breathtaking two-and-a-half hour spectacle of music with 40-foot high dancing fountains, a diamond-covered piano, ermine coats and jeweled costumes. Believe it or not, the video clip below is the same show I saw in Vegas 29 years ago. God bless YouTube for preserving weird crap like this! The intro was broadcast on giant screens in the theater before Liberace appeared on stage:

    Other important facts of interest! Liberace had a top-rated TV variety show in the 1950s, performed to sellout crowds in every major concert venue in the world for more than 25 years, collected pianos, rare antiques, luxury automobiles and cute male “chauffeurs,” published a series of cookbooks, produced a line of men’s clothing and owned a motel chain (Liberace Chateau Inns), a shopping mall and a museum. The Liberace Museum is still a popular attraction in Las Vegas.

    Decades before entertainers considered coming “out of the closet,” Liberace sued three major newspapers for libel — and WON — when they hinted at his homosexuality. Still, it was no surprise to anybody when he died of AIDS on this date in 1987. (I wonder if the newspapers asked for their money back.)

    You can find out more about Liberace on his website and at And for your viewing pleasure there are lots of additional Liberace videos on YouTube. Thank you for reading this.

    Wednesday, February 3, 2010

    The role of vegetables and geography.

    I want to make a couple of remarks about vegetables. I live in a geographical area with a peculiar slant on healthy food and healthy eating: IT DOESN’T EXIST. For one thing, walk into any restaurant in Dallas/Forth Worth and you’ll find that vegetables are either slathered in sugar or deep-fried. This might be typical Southern cuisine, but I’m talking about glazed carrots, squash casseroles and beans so sweet you’ll be in diabetic shock before you get to the parking lot ... and we’re maybe the only city on earth specializing in deep-fried string beans and DEEP-FRIED DILL PICKLES.

    And for another thing, fine dining establishments aren’t much better. Instead of using sugar and batter they wreck your meal with vegetables that are barely steamed, unseasoned and rock-hard ... like you’re being punished for wanting a few vitamins with your 48-ounce Porterhouse steak. I’m sorry, but I don’t have enough teeth or energy to gnaw on raw broccoli.

    Thank you for putting up with this post. Please eat something green today.