Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Don't be mad at me.

It’s been one of those weeks. I started to write a post at least half a dozen times but wound up getting sidetracked by a variety of urgent tasks and responsibilities, such as unloading the dishwasher, redesigning a client’s website, taking a nap, enjoying the daily parade of morons on “People’s Court” and folding underwear. Finally, tonight, I think I’ve managed to set aside enough time to finish a whole post. Like I said, don’t be mad at me.

Incidentally, this has been a really big month for rain around here. We’ve had 8¼" ... four times more than our average rainfall for September. However, I’m pretty sure you don’t care about this.

I saw a news item on that Octomom Nadya Suleman recently held a garage sale to raise money to pay her mortgage. She attempted to sell used nursing bras, used bikinis and photos of herself with her litter of eight ... but the event was basically a failure because only 130 people showed up to shop. Suleman owes a $450,000 balloon payment at the beginning of October or she’ll be evicted and wind up on welfare. Frankly, I’d be really surprised if there’s enough used underwear in the entire state of California to raise that kind of cash.
Maybe if this bozo would cancel her gym membership and cut back on silicone lip injections she’d have a little extra money for non-essentials like food and housing. I’m just saying.

Speaking of food, I’d like to share a couple of new products that Schwan’s delivered earlier today:
I already tried a Turkey Pot Pie for lunch and it was pretty good, with very impressive flaky crust from the microwave, although I definitely prefer the enormous fresh pot pies you can buy from Costco. And if I ever get motivated my own HOMEMADE pies are way better than anything I can buy fresh or frozen, but since this involves a truckload of ingredients and half a day of labor, Schwan’s and Costco are the smarter alternative. I’ll try my new Seasoned Potato Curls tomorrow.

Sam just called. He’s working late tonight ... VERY late ... so I think I’ll gnaw on some grapes and watch “Top Chef Just Desserts,” which I recorded a little while ago. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Maybe it's time to flush the royals.

I’ve always been a fan of the British royal family. To be honest, it’s hard not to love a well-groomed group of snooty, non-essential foreigners with cool accents whose main goals in life are wearing hats and marrying well. For the most part, the Windsors have achieved these objectives admirably with the exception of: 1) Prince Charles, who married Trigger’s ugly sister, Camilla Parker Bowles; and 2) Prince Andrew, whose over-extended ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, recently tried to sell him on e-Bay for a half a million pounds. The buyer was a reporter who secretly filmed the entire transaction, thereby providing Sarah with an exciting opportunity for a reality show on the Oprah network, although I’d be very surprised if anybody seriously wants to watch this.

Which brings us to today’s big news story. In 2004 Queen Elizabeth apparently requested assistance from a government fund that provides subsidized heating to low-income Britons when the cost to warm her palaces spiraled past $1.5 million per year. Apparently Her Majesty’s application was quietly turned down by the government (mostly to avoid the crappy publicity) and then forgotten until a British newspaper published the correspondence today after obtaining it through a freedom of information request. Palace officials confirmed the account.

The Queen is one of the wealthiest women in the world. She has royal residences across Britain, including Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Sandringham House in eastern England, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh and St. James’ Palace in London. Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain’s monarchs since 1837. While it has magnificent gardens and grand state rooms with priceless paintings and furniture, large parts of the sprawling 775-room palace are considered to be cold and drafty.

I recommend that Queen Elizabeth sell a few hats, trade in the solid gold coach (above) and invest in space heaters from Sears. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bracing for a shock: Liberace Museum will close.

Attention, drag queens and music lovers ... there’s still time to plan your pilgrimage to Las Vegas before the Liberace Museum shuts its doors forever on October 17. Apparently there has been a steady decline in museum visitors from a high of 450,000 annually 15 years ago to about 50,000 annually today. This, along with the museum’s real estate problems, mortgage debt and lack of steady income factored into the decision to close. The Liberace Foundation owns the strip mall that houses the museum, but half of the rental units are currently vacant. It’s also a safe bet that almost nobody under 40 has the slightest idea who Liberace was. If you fall into this category please read my earlier post for details.
For 31 years the Liberace Museum has been home to the entertainer’s collection of 39 custom pianos (mostly grand pianos crusted in rhinestones or miniature mirror tiles), thousands of full-length furs and rhinestone stage costumes, a vast fortune in custom jewelry, recreations of his famous bedroom and sunken tub (seriously), custom automobiles covered with jewels and Austrian crystals, and a separate room filled with a lifetime of awards. Liberace died of AIDS in 1987 at the age of 68.

And if you’re a movie fan, you may be interested to know that director Steven Soderbergh’s Liberace biopic is due to hit theaters in 2012 with Michael Douglas in the title role and Matt Damon playing Scott Thorsen, Liberace’s long-time lover and chauffeur, who famously “outed” him in a $110 million palimony suit in 1982. Believe it or not, until that time Liberace was seriously convinced that nobody on earth thought he was gay even though he wore floor-length pink fox furs and collected dishes. This movie should be AMAZING.

Dental developments and financial news.

This could only happen to ME. After spending $2,000 on oral surgery for seven extractions, I’m mortified to report that I’ve got a toothache where a tooth no longer exists. A couple of hours ago while Sam and I were watching “Way Out West” (our favorite Laurel and Hardy movie) a throbbing pain developed where my upper right cuspid used to be. I suspect it’s an abcess leftover from before the surgery, but later this morning I’ll call Dr. Gregory and tell him I need to come in right away so we can figure out what to do.

NEVER SCREW AROUND WITH AN ABCESS BECAUSE YOUR HEAD COULD EXPLODE. (Not really. But it can be serious nevertheless.)

In other news ... we refinanced our house Monday morning. A representative from the title company came over at 10 and we all sat around shuffling papers in the dining room for close to an hour. Then Sam ate two bowls of cereal and went for a walk to celebrate. I would have suggested going out for lunch, but I didn’t sleep much last night (less than three hours) and the thought of putting on shoes was overwhelming. So I answered email instead and watched “People’s Court.” By the way, if you’re not a fan of “People’s Court,” you should be, because it’s MUCH better entertainment than “Dancing with the Skanks Stars.” See for yourself.

Thank you for reading this. Please floss.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

And the good news is ...

I’m pleased to report that I’ve made solid progress since my oral surgery on Thursday and have no pain or discomfort at all. However, when I attempted to eat store-bought tuna salad for dinner I had to pick out all the little bits of celery because I still can’t chew anything harder than white bread. I’m actually thinking it might be a brilliant marketing idea to invent a line of baby food for adults, like pureed crab cakes or a meat loaf smoothie. Another surgery-related issue has been the need to lie down a lot more than usual ... mostly in front of the TV. Last night I was glued to a gritty “Lockup” marathon on MSNBC that probably gave me more time behind bars than most drug dealers usually get.
Today I watched “Gigi,” a four-part poker tournament, the Bears/Cowboys game and six consecutive episodes of “Cops.” In about 15 minutes it’s time for “Dial M for Murder” with Ray Milland, Grace Kelly and Robert Cummings. Plus I’m recording this week’s episode of “Mad Men” to watch after the movie. (I really LOVE “Mad Men.”)

Incidentally, tomorrow morning Sam and I are finishing up the refi on our house. A representative from the title company is coming over at 10 a.m. and we’ll do the whole hoo-hah in our dining room. This is very exciting and I’ll probably wear lipstick. Maybe I should record “People’s Court” in case we’re not done in time. Thank you for reading this.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Proud to be a Texan. Yee-ha.

Although “Men’s Health” magazine already has awarded several Texas towns top honors as America’s drunkest and fattest, we now also have another distinction. Texas is America’s most sex-crazed state. This is based on yet another study that compares nationwide numbers for condom sales, birth rates, sex toy purchases and state health department statistics for STDs, including the ever-popular chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Of the top ten cities on the list, Austin came in at #1, Dallas is #2, Arlington is #7 and Houston is #10.

This achievement is nothing short of staggering ... especially when you consider that Dallas, in particular, is frequently referred to as “the rhinestone buckle on the Bible belt” and still doesn’t allow liquor sales in most of its neighborhoods ... and never on Sundays even in those that do. But at least we finally know what all those religious yahoos are doing behind closed doors. If nothing else, tourism ought to pick up a little now.

Welcome to Texas, y’all. And thank you for reading this.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Final thoughts on a Thursday night.

It’s done. I had my oral surgery this morning! The surgeon knocked me out for an hour to do a huge bunch of extractions, some bone grafting and some stitches ... and I survived just fine. As a matter of fact, I’m really not having any pain at all if I don’t count the injection sites from 985 novocaine shots and I don’t attempt to eat anything more substantial than water or mashed potatoes. In a few minutes I’m going to scram into the family room to watch tonight’s episode of “Project Runway” with a can of Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, which will probably cuddle up next to me on the couch and fast-forward through the commercials. (Just kidding. I’ll make it sit in a bowl like it’s supposed to.)

Thank you for your love and support. Send Poli-Grip.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting for the big finale.

Hi. It’s a quiet Wednesday night here at Howdygramland because I’m pleased to report that I’ve caught up on all my graphic design projects ... and there were LOTS of them this week. I’ve been busy designing brochures, postcards, business cards, logos and assorted other whatnots for a variety of new and existing clients. I’m also on the verge of signing up two new website projects, which is definitely cool, lucrative and fun. (Mostly lucrative.)

In case you’re interested, tonight is the big hoo-hah finale of “Top Chef” season seven. Although I really love this series, the general concept of a televised, high-end cooking competition has one huge drawback: you can’t play along and judge the food. It’s definitely not as plausible as “Project Runway,” for example, where at least you can decide if somebody’s outfit sucks without waiting for a judge to describe it to you. Regardless, tonight on “Top Chef” Angelo, Kevin and Ed are in Singapore scrambling (no pun intended) to win the grand prize. Just between us, I hope Ed wins. His food always looks extremely attractive.

And while I’m on the subject — food — here are three new products I tried today from Schwan’s. The biscuits and taters are pretty good but the fish is exactly what it looks like ... GRAMMAR SCHOOL CAFETERIA CUISINE. For the sake of nostalgia I’d probably enjoy it more with carrot sticks, applesauce and recess.
Hold a good thought for me ... I’m having oral surgery in the morning even though it’s National Play Doh Day and I’d certainly rather be celebrating THAT. Thank y’all.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue Mesa Grill makes Sundays perfect.

Sam and I have a favorite spot for brunch. Actually, it’s our ONLY spot for brunch because we don’t go anywhere else. It’s Blue Mesa Grill, and they have five locations in Dallas and the suburbs, mostly in snooty neighborhoods, but we don’t care because we can be snooty, too, if we have to be. Fortunately,  Blue Mesa is really laid back and fun, they’ve got a picture-perfect Sunday brunch buffet and you can’t beat the price at $16.95 with free beverages like mimosas, real grapefruit juice and unlimited ice cubes. They also have Al, the best waiter on the planet. Al works at their Village on the Parkway location, has a huge mustache and will do damn near ANYTHING to make your dining experience as perfect as possible, including refilling your already-full glass of iced tea, bringing extra buffet plates every four minutes and serving as your personal guacamole slave (he appears with another bowl whenever he thinks you look too tired to get up). Having a personal guacamole slave is something I hope all of you can experience before you die. Seriously.

The food at Blue Mesa is called “hand-crafted southwestern cuisine,” and in my opinion the best dish they make is their Adobe Pie. It’s basically a dome-shaped corn-meal tamale filled with chicken or black bean paste. The photo below isn’t very appealing and may actually look more like a bowl of barf, for which I sincerely apologize.
Some of Blue Mesa’s other specialties include house-made sweet potato chips, terrific fajitas, an amazing relish made from fire-roasted corn with jalapeƱos, and teeny little flans on the dessert bar. They also have exceptionally shiny ceramic tile floors and good parking. Thank you for reading this. Rating: A.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I really hate street festivals.

Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. This year’s unofficial theme was “Sam and Marcy forever,” and to celebrate we’ve got dinner reservations tonight at Hattie’s, a fun, upscale restaurant in the Bishop Arts District in Oak Cliff that specializes in MODERN SOUTHERN CUISINE. (Translation: fried green tomatoes and cloth napkins.) Except 10 minutes ago while I’m browsing around on I notice there’s a huge weekend street festival in Oak Cliff that starts today at noon and runs through 9 p.m Sunday. It’s some weird event called Blues, Bandits and Barbecue honoring a local dead guitarist that includes 23 restaurants in tents for a barbecue cookoff, a live music stage, lots of sweaty people eating ribs and lousy parking in a neighborhood that’s already too congested. And although the poster wants you to believe everything starts at noon Sunday, they’re LYING. The news article posted alongside it said all the major access streets in Oak Cliff will be blocked off starting at noon TODAY to built the stage, set up the tents and haul in all that restaurant equipment. Plus they’re expecting a bunch of street musicians. (I hope they have a swell time. It’s supposed to be 94° with 78% humidity.)

What this means is, bottom line, we definitely have to reschedule our dinner reservation at Hattie’s. I’m thinking maybe we’ll wait until my mother-in-law is here in October ... so maybe we can celebrate our anniversary with dim sum this morning instead at Kirin Court in Richardson. (I love dim sum.) Now I have to break this to Sam. Oy.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our guardian angel really knows his stuff.

Sam and I have a guardian angel. There are millions of little reasons why we believe this, but four events today convinced us beyond all doubt. In case you’re a skeptic, read on.

Divine Intervention with Serious Medical Issues. It all started this morning when I went to the doctor for my quarterly checkup. First the receptionist tells me she doesn’t need a $25 co-pay because I’ve got a CREDIT on the books, then my doctor gives me a huge bear hug when she walks in the room and makes me feel like a long-lost best friend who showed up to return her favorite sweater, and finally the phlebotomist in the lab actually finds a good vein on the very first try and doesn’t have to yell at me for not drinking enough water. At this point I’m pretty sure I’m in the Twilight Zone.

Divine Financial Assistance. Sam’s cell phone rings as soon as we get home from the doctor and it’s our mortgage guy at Wells Fargo. He tells us that we not only won’t owe $700 out-of-pocket when we refinance our mortgage later this month, THE BANK ACTUALLY OWES US $118. Even better, we don’t need to make our September 10 mortgage payment, and because Wells Fargo accidentally overpaid our annual homeowners insurance a couple of months ago we’re also getting an unexpected REFUND of about $1,000. All of a sudden it’s like someone threw a Christmas party in our checking account with free hors d’oeuvres.

Divine Revenge Against Stupid and Mysterious Fees. And then I get my August merchant account statement in the mail this morning and discover a deduction for a bogus “mystery fee” of $99.95. I call to find out what’s going on and talk to Valerie the Crab, who insists that it’s a routine annual charge designed to defraud their customers and steal from their bank accounts without explanation (my interpretation) ... but surprisingly Val can’t tell me what the fee is for or why I have to pay it. This definitely gets me irritated because these bozos already keep a percentage of my credit card transactions, which is the cost of doing business when you own a credit card terminal. So I call my account executive, the brilliant and wonderful Evelyn, who agrees to reverse the charge. I’m so happy I want to buy her breakfast, except I’m in Texas and she’s in Los Angeles cleaning her condo for the Jewish high holidays.

Divine Protection Against Tornadoes. Thanks to tropical storm Hermine we had a LOT of weather around here today, including seven inches of rain and two tornadoes ... one around 5:30 slightly east of us in Sunnyvale, Forney and Heath that interrupted my “People’s Court” rerun with a lot of frantic National Weather Service warnings, and another just north of downtown Dallas (see below) a few minutes later that sent Sam scrambling to the main floor of his office building with a Clif bar. This was a very major hoo-hah. The downtown twister plowed through the Park Cities area, down Mockingbird Lane into Love Field airport and then headed toward a strip mall in the northern suburbs. At last report the tornado was pulling into Wendy’s for a burger and fries.
Incidentally, it’s Rosh Hashanah, and Sam and I would like to wish L’SHANA TOVAH (Happy New Year) to our Jewish friends and relatives. Please enjoy the following religious video with our very best wishes. Thank you for reading this. Pass the chicken soup, y’all.

Monday, September 6, 2010

So here's what's happening today.

First of all, happy Labor Day. You have my permission to spend the entire day doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, which includes not making the bed, not mowing the lawn and not brushing your teeth. You also have my permission not to watch the MDA Jerry Lewis telethon. Just view this video clip instead. (Trust me, it will be more than enough. Especially when his false teeth start to slip.)

The weather here is certifiably GORGEOUS right now. After five solid months of humid heat in the triple digits we’ve finally had cooler, drier temperatures in the 80s for the last few days ... and as an added bonus there’s even a TROPICAL STORM heading our way. “Hermine” is moving straight up the Gulf of Mexico and should cover most of Texas with wind, rain and thunderstorms for two days starting Wednesday. This is a big hoo-hah for the Dallas area because we’re 300 miles from the Gulf as the crow flies. Maybe a little more if you’re a seagull. I’m just saying.

Sam and I are going for a drive this morning as soon as I get dressed and stop horsing around with this post. Our destination is the Bishops Arts District in Dallas, a quirky little neighborhood southwest of downtown with upscale restaurants, galleries and notoriously crappy parking. It’s my plan to stop at the Greek Cafe & Bakery for some whatnots-to-go and then scope out the location of Hattie’s a few blocks away. Sam and I have a reservation at Hattie’s for our wedding anniversary next week. The specialty of the house is southern cuisine, like fried green tomatoes and shrimp with grits. I don’t know if Sam has ever tried food like this before because he typically only eats Clif bars, burritos and raisins. Dinner should be interesting. Thank you for reading this, and I mean it sincerely.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

I think I'm too excited to sleep.

I woke up at this morning at 6:15 because Sam and I are going to Costco today, and I’m so excited I decided to leap out of bed at the crack of dawn and write my shopping list. So far it includes a jumbo bottle of Naproxen, toothpaste, Olay shower gel, raspberries, a tub of Costco’s house-made shrimp salad, cashews, socks for Sam, a two-pound package of lox, Ziploc bags and toilet paper. I’d also love to buy Tide liquid detergent but I can’t even lift the bottle that Costco sells.

In other news ... Sam and I would like to extend our very best wishes for a HAPPY LABOR DAY. We hope you’ll consider a long nap or throwing something fun on the grill. We’ll probably do BOTH. At present, Sam is starting the weekend with an early-morning “donut run” to his favorite little greasy haunt in Garland. I don’t go with him for two reasons: 1) I’m diabetic; and 2) the first reason should be good enough.

We also hope you’ll tune in to watch five or ten minutes of the annual MDA telethon starring Scary Jerry Lewis. Jerry hasn’t aged very well, obviously, and it’s my guess that he’d probably be doing MDA a favor if he finally stopped showing up every year. Plus, after reading a disturbing news report online I also think he’s a total clod for refusing to acknowledge his disabled daughter Suzan, who was born out of wedlock 56 years ago AND LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE HIM. Sort of puts a new slant on the phrase “Jerry’s kids,” doesn’t it? Sheesh.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Pinch me. I must be dreaming.

Here’s a news flash. I fell in love with Sam 10 minutes after I met him, and for the past eight years we’ve been the president (me) and CEO (Sam) of Sam & Marcy’s Mutual Admiration Society. We even have BOARD MEETINGS. (Seriously.) But as perfect as our marriage is, and as precious as Sam continues to be, he made a statement at Wednesday’s meeting that blew me out of the water. He thinks we should go shopping together — AT ALL OF MY FAVORITE STORES — including Kohl’s, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Home Depot, Kirkland’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond. I got so excited I think I hyperventilated. (No kidding, at my age this is better than sex.)

Sam is my official pick to win the Nobel Prize for Husbands and he’s also the #1 most adorable man on the planet. Maybe in the entire solar system, Pluto included. I especially love Sam’s feet.

And now, here are three great products I’ve been ordering lately from Schwan’s.
I’m crazy about the Krunchie Potato Wedges (despite Schwan’s affinity for stupid spelling) and the teeny Deep-Dish Supreme Pizzas with the best crust EVER. The Quick-Bake French Fries are mighty impressive, too, because they have excellent little crinkles, bake in only NINE MINUTES and the texture is so good you’ll never know they were frozen! I eat them with ketchup and Marcy’s Goofy Fruity Shake.

Thank you for reading this.