Saturday, December 31, 2011

Margaret Dumont is definitely more entertaining than the bubonic plague.

It’s New Year’s Eve at Howdygram headquarters and all’s right with the world. Groucho is tormenting poor Margaret Dumont in Duck Soup, I just woke up from an especially intense three-hour nap on the most fabulous chaise ever invented and Sam is still unconscious. For the record, we also slept through Room Service and Horse Feathers. A photo of the previously-mentioned fabulous chaise appears below; Groucho and Margaret are posing at right.
Before I forget, Sam and I want to wish all of you a happy, healthy New Year. May yours include lucrative investments, plenty of cake and not voting for Rick Perry no matter what.
We had a terrific day today. After a late breakfast at Denny’s we took a nice long drive to Cross Roads, Texas, to visit the Rustic Furniture Depot. Don’t be fooled by their semi-tacky website because this store is AWESOME. They’ve got the most beautiful — and affordable! — western-themed furniture we’ve ever seen, plus lots of high-end decorative accessories, bedding, artwork, picture frames, dishes, lamps, you name it. I can’t wait to go back and spend money because everything they sell makes you think of Pa Cartwright and the Ponderosa. (All that’s missing is Hop Sing.)
And now it’s time to scrounge up some food and enjoy a couple of cheerful New Year’s Eve classics on TCM ... Fail Safe (1964), a nuclear war doomsday thriller with Henry Fonda, and Panic in the Streets (1950), about a bubonic plague epidemic with Richard Widmark and Jack Palance. It’s really too bad I don’t drink.

Happy New Year ... and thank you for reading the Howdygram’s last post for 2011!

P.S. Marie Osmond is a drag queen, naked pictures of Paula Deen and ugly world leaders.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Marie Osmond, Paula Deen and ugly world leaders.

I’d like to talk about nice weather for a minute as we’re definitely having plenty of it here in north Texas, with lots of sunshine and temperatures near 70° for the next several days. The only reason I consider this such a big hoo-hah is because I spent the first 36 years of my life in Chicago, and the end of December (and New Year’s Day) always delivered the crappiest, coldest, snowiest weather of the entire year. I remember always going out in sub-zero weather on New Year’s Eve wearing 15 layers of clothes, trying to parallel park on frozen snow, wondering if I’d ever find a way to escape from Siberia. (I did, eventually.)

Breaking news! Sam went to Wal-Mart this morning to pick up a few essentials and called to tell me they carry sugar-free Pillsbury cake mixes and frosting. This is very exciting because Wal-Mart’s prices are cheaper than any I’ve found online, plus it’s instant gratification when you can have your cake and eat it, too ... all on the same day! (Whatever the hell that means.)

Guess what. I think I’ve figured out how to ramp up the number of Howdygram visitors. As I mentioned in a post back in November, according to the Howdygram’s statistics on SiteMeter.com our three biggest attractions have been my posts about Paula Deen, Marie Osmond and the ugliest world leaders of all time. So I’m thinking maybe if I type “naked pictures of Paula Deen,” “Marie Osmond is a drag queen” and “ugly world leaders” somewhere in every post I’ll get a million hits a day. Stop laughing ... it’s possible! (I actually might try this.) My first post about Marie looking like a drag queen — way back in August 2010 — was quoted by at least four other blogs that sent 125+ new visitors to the Howdygram in one 24-hour period. That’s huge.
Talk about luck! In an effort to illustrate the previous paragraph I just discovered a new photo of Marie in her finest drag queen get-up — rhinestones, gargantuan earrings, ostrich feathers and those new, exaggerated “trout lips” from some lousy plastic surgery — plus a crazy shot of Paula Deen and the late Kim Jong Il together in the same picture. Damn, I love the Internet!

Sam phoned from work a couple of minutes ago to ask if I had any plans to leave the house today. I lied and said “maybe” even though it’s extremely unlikely. Yes, it’s a gorgeous day. Yes, it’s 68° and sunny, and yes, I’ve got a nice clean car waiting for me in the garage with a box of Altoids on the front seat. But there’s nowhere I really need to go and nothing I really need to buy, so frankly it’s hard to get motivated to put on shoes and a bra for no reason whatsoever. Don’t tell Sam but I think I’ll just stay home. However I might eat cake.

Thank you for reading this.

Gunshots, drought and cruddy bumpers.

And now for a little late-night excitement from Howdygram headquarters! About 45 minutes ago I’m sitting here at my desk and I hear THUMP THUMP outside the window. I dash into the family room to wake Sam — he was asleep on the sofa last time I checked — but he was already sitting up because he’d heard the noise, too. To me those thumps sounded like gunshots. Sam decides to check around outside without turning on any lights and bumps into two neighbors who were creeping around in the dark doing exactly the same thing. Our neighbor to the south finds a dazed and confused dove sitting on his driveway and thinks it might have smashed into our garage door — or his garage door — a couple of times. I guess it could happen, but that stupid bird must be made of concrete because those thumps were so loud I thought somebody was shooting a rifle. This is a real possibility because Texans love rifles (see example below).
At the moment I’m still a little too freaked out to sleep so I thought it might be therapeutic to hang out with y’all for a while and write this post.

And the drought goes on. Even though we had twice our normal rainfall here during the month of December I just read that the North Texas Municipal Water District is considering “stage 4” water restrictions by the end of January. Stage 4 means we can no longer water our yards or wash our own cars ... no exceptions. This really isn’t such a huge inconvenience in the middle of winter since nobody waters their lawn, anyway, and you can always go to a commercial car wash when you want to scrape the crud off your bumpers. But if we don’t get some decent rain before spring we’re definitely going to end up with a lot of grim landscaping around here. Do a rain dance for us, okay?

I think I’ve calmed down enough to go to bed now. Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Trader Joe’s, William Powell and how to get yourself some free furniture.

Glorioski, hallelujah and start the car … Trader Joe’s is finally coming to Dallas! I just saw an announcement on the Dallas Observer’s website that two stores will open here for sure in 2012 … one on lower Greenville Avenue in Dallas and another in Plano. For the record, I’ll be shopping at the Trader Joe’s on lower Greenville (see map below) because Plano is too far, too crowded, too privileged and too snooty. (Especially snooty.)
I’m so damn excited I think I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon figuring out my first grocery list even though the store on Greenville Avenue probably won’t open until September. (I hate waiting until the last minute.) I wonder if the Trader Joe’s stores here in Texas will stock all or most of my favorites from Los Angeles, such as their fresh-made individual pizzas with cornmeal crust to die for, granola, ginormous frozen sea scallops, beautiful prunes, kosher chicken, couscous salad with real raisins, stuffed peppers, teeny jars of killer sweet/hot mustard, frozen mangoes and — be still, my heart — the best large curd cottage cheese on the planet. Feel free to stay tuned for further developments.

For your possible interest Sam and I made a quick run to Costco this morning to load up on essentials for the long holiday weekend. These included rotisserie chicken salad, Sam’s favorite tortellini pasta salad with little hunks of salami, mozzarella balls wrapped in pepperoni and prosciutto, frozen pot stickers, a pair of calzones, a gigantic can of salted peanuts, a 10-pack of extremely nice kitchen towels, six pounds of ground sirloin and a few other things I can’t remember at the moment. Incidentally, we ate the calzones for lunch. (I wish we’d bought more.)

Hey there, classic movie fans ... TCM is showing another string of back-to-back William Powell films tonight, and I highly recommend all of them: The Great Ziegfeld, Love Crazy, I Love You Again, Manhattan Melodrama, Libeled Lady, Evelyn Prentice and Double Wedding. I probably won’t record these because Sam and I own all the DVDs. We own the entire Thin Man series, too. Come to think of it, we’ve got a virtual TON of classic films around here. (I buy them all from Amazon.com. The prices are incredible.)

Wow ... breaking news from Howdygramland! Remember the defective bench (see yesterday's post) I received a couple of days ago from Amazon? The seller was very apologetic about the problem this morning and refunded my money immediately ... but they don’t want me to return the bench and said I can either keep it or donate it. Seriously! Therefore I’ve decided to keep it for now and try to patch the two little flaws.
I’m going to sacrifice one of the matching throw pillows so I can cut two tiny little pieces of material and stick them on the flaws with fabric glue. If it works, fantastic, the boo-boos will be invisible and I’ve got myself a nice piece of extremely free furniture. If it looks crappy, Sam can always drag the bench out to the curb and a needy local Texan will drive away with it. I’ll let you know how my holiday craft project turns out, okay?

I think I should celebrate my exciting day — Trader Joe’s, more William Powell movies and free furniture — with a nice piece of cake. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thank God for penicillin and other revelations.

If you thought I wasn’t going to post anything today you were almost right. I got caught up in a variety of projects — such as an extended and rather luxurious afternoon nap — until I realized a few minutes ago that I don’t want to break my perfect record for the month of December. (I’ve written at least one post every day this month.)

Today’s other projects included: 1) emailing month-end invoices to a bunch of my website clients; 2) eating cake; 3) attacking my feet with a pumice stone; and 4) deciding to return the defective bench that arrived yesterday from Amazon.com (see previous post). The upholstery was ripped in two places with little wads of foam stuffing leaking out, which is not the kind of fine furniture anybody would want in a formal living room unless you’re Jed Clampett. At first I thought about requesting a replacement, but I read a number of online reviews for the identical bench in different colors and realized other customers were having the same problem, so I contacted Amazon for return shipping instructions. I’m annoyed, despondent, aggravated and not in the mood for pizza. (I wouldn’t mind another piece of cake, however.)

Please raise your hand if you’ve ever seen any of the Dr. Kildare movies with Lew Ayres and Lionel Barrymore.
There were eight Dr. Kildare movies — all with the same cast — released between 1938 and 1942. TCM showed the entire series today for Lew Ayres’ birthday. (He would have been 103 if he hadn’t died in 1996.) Although these were definitely “B” movies, it was an eye-opener to see what the world considered acceptable medical practice in those days. For instance, epilepsy was treated and feared like insanity, and doctors believed it was inherited, life-threatening and the kiss of death if you expected to have a career or family. There was also no medical treatment for a high fever other than ice cubes for the patient and everybody else pacing up and down the hall with their fingers crossed waiting for “something to happen.” Sure makes a person realize how much the world has advanced since then. We’ve got ordinary OTC meds available today that would have saved lives 75 years ago.

Can you believe it’s almost New Year’s Eve? Only three days left to buy your party hats and screwy noisemakers. Thank you for reading this.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I’d rather have hemorrhoids than Rick Perry in the White House.

And now, the latest from Rick Perry’s campaign! Apparently our blowhard Einstein had a “miraculous transformation” last week after watching an anti-abortion film produced by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Perry now claims he is completely against abortion for any reason whatsoever, even in cases of rape and incest, and has signed a stringent (translation: right-wing extremist) Personhood USA Pledge that expects signatories to oppose abortion “without exception and without compromise.” Obviously Governor Hairdo thinks a woman should be forced to reward a rapist by bearing his child.

This is the same jerk who tried to pass a law in Texas subjecting women seeking legal abortions to undergo a fetal sonogram and listen to the fetus’ heartbeat, be required to sit through a lecture by her doctor describing the fetus and the size of its limbs, and then wait an additional 24 hours before surgery. Perry’s proposed anti-abortion law — the most extreme in the United States — was based on the assumption that a woman is too immature and incompetent to choose an abortion without “informed consent.” However, according to an attorney for the Center for Reproductive Rights, “Informed consent is about medical risk. Pregnant women are already aware that they’re carrying a fetus.”

Perry’s law was struck down. And his candidacy for President should be struck down, too. I’d rather have hemorrhoids than Rick Perry in the White House, and I don’t care who knows it. Holy crap.
It’s that time again. Time to publish a list of Marcy’s Resolutions for the New Year … a collection of over-reaching personal directives that I’ll probably screw up on or before January 2. Here they are for your possible interest and amusement.
  • Make a serious effort to cut back on yellow cake with chocolate frosting and eat more devil’s food cake with vanilla frosting. Also brownies.
  • Pretend I like my clients and consider answering the phone once in a while.
  • Consume fewer bags of Chester’s Puffcorn Cheese and Butter flavors. Vow to try Flamin’ Hot.
    • Stop smashing my toes on our new family room furniture.
    • Try one new restaurant every month.
    • Increase Howdygram readership by posting naked pictures of random people. (Feel free to submit your photo here.)
    • Buy stock in Amazon.com.
    Please don’t hesitate to share some of your New Year’s resolutions because Howdygramsters far and wide would love to know. Thank you for reading this!

    Our favorite one-pot rice dish.

    Direct from the Howdygram’s Test Kitchen, here’s a favorite recipe for Easy One-Pot Greek Rice that Sam and I really love. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!
    • 1½ lbs. lean ground beef
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1½ cups raw long-grain white rice
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 1 can tomato paste
    • 1½ tablespoons salt
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons dried mint leaves
    • 4 cups water
    • juice of 5 lemons
    Dump everything into a big nonstick kettle, stir to break up the ground beef, cover the pot and simmer for about 45 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. If you want softer rice throw in an extra half-cup of water. Doesn’t get much easier than this, does it? There’s enough here to serve at least six ... or two hungry people for three meals.
    I highly recommend cake for dessert, but I’d probably eat cake with just about anything. Thank you for reading this.

    Monday, December 26, 2011

    A little Bing, a little Brian and a couple of “Cops.”

    Tuesday will be a major event at Howdygram headquarters because we’re expecting THREE EXCITING DELIVERIES … an OXO stainless steel sponge holder and a stunning upholstered bench from Amazon.com and a couple of Pillsbury sugar-free devil’s food cake mixes from Low Carb Connoisseur.
    The sponge holder and bench are pictured above (not shown actual size). I won’t bother posting a photo of a Pillsbury cake mix because everybody should know what this looks like unless you’re from Kazakhstan.
    Sam and I had a nice, quiet day today. The weather was crappy (cold, wet, overcast) so we didn’t feel compelled to do very much besides lunch at Pei Wei and a nap when we got home. For dinner I made a terrific one-pot Greek rice dish — it’s one of Sam’s favorites — with plenty leftover for a few meals during the week. I’ll post the recipe tomorrow for your possible interest. We also watched Going My Way with Bing Crosby, a terrific documentary about Brian Wilson and two episodes of “Cops” before Sam decided to hit the sack. I’ll be joining him shortly but first I need a quick trip to the kitchen for some lemonade. I’m thirsty.
    Thanks for stopping by tonight. Say hi to the family for me, okay?

    Mobsters, dim sum and Raisinets.

    I thought it might be worthwhile to write a quick post before I go to sleep. I’m not exactly tired at the moment and it always helps me unwind if I horse around with the Howdygram for a little while. First, here’s a really cute video clip from YouTube for your possible interest. (Sam and I both got a kick out of this.)



    And now, three unforgettable events from this date in history!
    • December 26, 1946. Mobster Bugsy Siegel opens the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Comedian Jimmy Durante was the headliner with music by Cuban band leader Xavier Cugat. A crowd of Siegel’s Hollywood pals showed up, too, including actors George Raft, George Sanders, Sonny Tufts and George Jessel. Unfortunately, the grand opening flopped due to seriously crappy weather, the casino lost $300,000 its first week and Bugsy wound up in deep doo-doo. (I can’t believe I just typed that sentence.)
    • December 26, 1973. Legendary horror film The Exorcist opens. Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, the movie starred Linda Blair as a 12-year-old girl named Regan who’s possessed by a demon. When her freaked-out mother (played by Ellen Burstyn) finally decides to contact a priest, he recommends performing an exorcism, during which Regan’s head spins 360°, her body levitates and she projectile vomits green bile. The Exorcist earned a reputation as one of the most terrifying movies in history. (Popcorn sales sucked and nobody bought Raisinets, either.)
    • December 26, 2004. A magnitude 9.3 earthquake — the second-largest in recorded history — off the coast of Indonesia triggers a deadly tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people from Southeast Asia to the coast of Africa. The quake lasted almost ten full minutes, triggering other earthquakes as far away as Alaska and causing the entire planet to shift on its axis. Holy crap.
    In case you’re interested, Sam and I had a pleasant, typically Jewish Christmas yesterday. We drove to Hong Kong Royal for dim sum, fondly recalling that classic scene from A Christmas Story when the family winds up at a Chinese restaurant (pictured below) on Christmas and the waiters are singing “Deck the Hors with Boughs of Horry” as they whack off the head of a Peking duck.
    Pass the soy sauce and thank you for reading this.

    Sunday, December 25, 2011

    Hey! Where’s Santa?

    Christmas News Flash. Sam has been unconscious almost nonstop since 2:30 yesterday afternoon. He stayed awake long enough to eat dinner and briefly discuss the weather, then he slept through two excellent movies, migrated into the bedroom and I haven’t seen him since. Maybe if I start singing Christmas carols he’ll wake up and keep me company. It’s raining and I’m really bored.

    Incidentally, I’m having a major issue again with my Firefox browser (see original post). It started locking up on me about two hours ago and I’ve had to “force quit” at least half a dozen times. I reloaded the software from Firefox’s website with no luck and even tried Sam’s secret trick — using the Mac’s Time Machine feature to restore an earlier version — and that didn’t work, either. I’m so fed up I’ve switched to Google Chrome and just spent 45 minutes transferring 14 folders of bookmarks. Holy crapola, what a time waster.

    Hot news from campaign 2012 indicates that blowhard presidential wannabe Donald Trump (see right) has bolted from the GOP to consider running as an independent candidate. (Writing that sentence gave me acid reflux.) This dude is a loudmouth self-promoter who’s been pandering to right-wing extremists and acting like a media clown with no tangible principles, foreign policy knowledge or understanding of the issues. Just because Trump can buy his way into the media and self-fund his own candidacy doesn’t make him a viable independent. Bottom line ... there’s absolutely nothing about Donald Trump that’s remotely electable, even if he shaves his head.

    With that said, I guess I’ll head off to bed now and dream about sugar plums hideous comb-overs. Smooches to one and all from the Howdygram!

    Saturday, December 24, 2011

    Ho ho ho, y’all.

    Unlike last Saturday and the Saturday before that, we did NOT go to the Choctaw Casino today. As a matter of fact, we almost didn’t get out of bed whatsoever, but this statement is NOT as racy as it sounds. For instance ... I woke up this morning at 8:30, took my meds, went back to bed half an hour later and slept until the crack of noon, at which time Sam and I ate lunch, watched Another Thin Man with William Powell and took an extended nap because eating and changing channels can be exhausting. At the moment Sam is still unconscious with the Cowboys/Eagles game on TV and I’m struggling to shake the cobwebs out of my brain. It feels like somebody drugged us, but I’m betting the weather — dark, rainy and 41° — might have something to do with this. It’s an extremely blecchy Christmas Eve in Howdygramland.

    Regardless ...
    We’re having lox and bagels for dinner at Howdygram headquarters, after which I’ll unwrap tonight’s Hanukkah present from Sam. He’s giving me his toes ... a different toe every night. This is such a big hit that I think the Howdygram should launch a new charity drive in 2012: Toes for Tots.

    Thank you for reading this.

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Mission accomplished.

    I’m amazing. Relative to the content of my last post I just spent an hour and a half immersed in the following projects: 1) opening assorted windows to air out the house; 2) running from room to room shpritzing Yankee Candle’s Lilac Blossoms concentrate; 3) cleaning the oven — and the oven racks — twice with Easy-Off; and 4) scraping and scrubbing the overfilled roasting pan that caused this damn mess in the first place.

    Although I still have a few more minor kitchen touch-ups left to do — and my back is killing me — I feel exceptionally accomplished and I’m positive that Sam will be proud of me when he gets home. I even think I deserve dim sum for lunch tomorrow. In the meantime, however, I’m 100% exhausted and might need cake.

    Thank you for reading this.

    I just did the unthinkable.

    Call in the Marines. About 45 minutes ago my Sugar-Free Hungarian Un-Stuffed Cabbage casserole oozed all over the floor of the oven and filled the entire house with smoke. I don’t really know what happened — maybe the pan was overfilled — but it absolutely STINKS in here. I’ve got the ventilator on full blast, I opened as many windows as possible in the family room without breaking my back — it’s 40° outside! — and I just finished transferring the stuffed cabbage to a gigantic kettle so it can finish cooking on top of the stove. As soon as the entree from hell is done I’ll attack the oven with a can of Easy-Off and try figure out how to make the house smell nice before Sam gets home from work. What a mess.

    Volunteers, general helpers and work supervisors would be greatly appreciated, so please send an email as soon as possible if you’re interested. Cookies and milk will be provided. Thank you.

    I’d rather buy a new car than Air Jordan sneakers.

    It’s a dark, cold and moderately crappy Friday here in the Dallas area, and Weather.com says we’re expecting rain all weekend with temperatures in the mid-30s. Sounds to me like we’re edging dangerously close to that four-letter word I despise so much — snow — but since nobody’s talking about sub-freezing temperatures I refuse to get prematurely hysterical.

    While my weekly pot of Sugar-Free Hungarian Un-Stuffed Cabbage is baking in the oven I thought I’d share the following video clip of stampeding Einsteins in Indianapolis, proving once again that the future of our nation lies in the hands of certifiable morons.



    These fine citizens are shopping for AIR JORDAN SNEAKERS. Thousands of them had been in line outside overnight, waiting for the mall to open. They’re shown here trampling each other, stomping on children, ripping steel doors off their hinges and fighting with police.

    I don’t get it. We make fun of brainwashed North Koreans crying for their “Dear Leader” but it’s okay for Americans to kill each other for canvas shoes that cost as much as a car payment.

    Oy. Thank you for reading this.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011

    There’s no place like home … especially for groceries.

    Oy, what a day trying to get to Tom Thumb for groceries! I was feeling perky this morning and decided to shop at the Tom Thumb at Preston Road and Forest Lane in Dallas, the store with the fancy-shmancy kosher market inside (see below). Huge mistake. Not only didn’t I find a handicapped parking spot, I didn’t find any parking spots at all. The lot was so clogged it looked more like Cowboys Stadium during the Super Bowl, with oversized SUVs (mostly Escalades) idling in the aisles waiting for somebody — anybody — to pull out of a space. After several minutes of this pointless crapola I got the hell out of there, drove all the way back to Mesquite and shopped at the Kroger that’s two minutes from home. Maybe even less than two minutes from home.
    For your possible interest, the following map indicates: A) Howdygram headquarters in Mesquite; and B) Tom Thumb at Preston and Forest in Dallas. It’s a 16-mile drive and not the smartest decision I’ve ever made.
    Before I forget, there’s another string of back-to-back William Powell movies tonight on TCM. This time they’re showing all six of his legendary Thin Man films with Myrna Loy starting at 7 p.m. Central time. You’re welcome to come over and watch at my house but you’ll have to bring your own popcorn (I don’t have any) and help me fold socks. I’m a multi-tasker.

    And speaking of legendary ... I thought I’d include this must-see video clip of Bob Hope (as Eddie Foy) and James Cagney (as George M. Cohan) dancing in 1955’s The Seven Little Foys. It’s an adorable performance, especially when you consider this was the only time Hope and Cagney appeared together on film and both men were already more than 55 years old. (Until I watched this movie a few weeks ago I don’t think I ever realized Bob Hope was such a good dancer.)



    I’m having lemon mousse and leftover egg foo young for dinner tonight but not necessarily in that order. If you’re hungry send me an email and I’ll save you some. Thanks for stopping by.

    The future of art in America.

    I did it. I don’t know why I did it, but I did it nonetheless. Last night I gave up an entire hour of my life watching the grand finale of Bravo TV’s “Work of Art,” a frightening reality show competition that’s based on the age-old premise “shit sells.” The final three contestants appear below.
    And now I’d like to post a representation of the finale’s artwork (a term I use loosely here) to demonstrate how lame, pretentious and infantile this program actually is. The lack of talent displayed here makes “Dancing with the Stars” look like the Joffrey Ballet.
    Young strung clotheslines across the gallery and pinned up a collection of his late father’s shirts festooned with snapshots of dad while he was dying. On the floor, bottom right, is a little pile of dirt with a bowling trophy in the middle. For sculptural appeal he also built a red and green phone booth.
    Sara’s show consisted of a white birdcage with a lot of paper airplanes flying out and underwear made of human hair.
    Kymia — who actually won last night — displayed three crap-filled graves and a helmet made of metal feathers. She also showed two watercolors with dirt glued to them. The one on the left is a dead body in the ground and the one on the right is a boat with feet on the sail. The judges were so ecstatic they wet their pants and Kymia went home with $100,000 and a guaranteed private show at the Brooklyn Museum. I had such a headache I took two extra-strength Tylenol.

    There you have it ... the future of art in America. Graves, clotheslines, paper airplanes and bowling trophies. God help us.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Covering all the essentials.

    I’m so tired right now I can’t see straight. I woke up this morning at 6:30 (way too early) but didn’t go back to bed because our maid service comes at 9 a.m. on Wednesdays and I’m one of those people who has to clean the house before they get here. (I’m not kidding about this.) Unfortunately, I nodded off at the keyboard a little while ago and had to delete several rows of lowercase Fs.

    To brighten up my day — and yours — I just ordered a stunning upholstered bench from Amazon.com.
    I figure this will provide essential extra seating in our formal living room even though we’ve lived in our house almost five years and have never actually had any company except for my mother-in-law once a year in October and the occasional delivery dude from China City. The aforementioned delivery dude really can’t be considered “company,” however, because he doesn’t get past the front door even if he’s carrying Mongolian chicken. 

    FYI, the price of this bench was pretty fabulous (and $18 less than Overstock.com) with free shipping and no tax. And I’m sure all of you know by now how I feel about free shipping and no sales tax.

    I’d better get back to my mountain of laundry. But first, please consider watching these excellent movies tonight on TCM starting at 7 p.m. Central time ... The Front (1976) with Woody Allen, Ball of Fire (1941) with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper and Born Yesterday (1950) with Judy Holliday and William Holden. I’m particularly fond of Born Yesterday. You should also consider tuning in for the grand finale of Bravo’s “Work of Art” to find out which neurotic, untalented street urchin goes home with $100,000. (Am I bitter? Nah.)

    Thank you for reading this.

    Finally, an overpriced shortcut to Plano.

    Just in time for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, New Year’s Eve and Washington’s Birthday, the Howdygram and the North Texas Tollway Authority are pleased to announce the GRAND OPENING of the eastern extension of the President George Bush Turnpike late Wednesday afternoon. Following three years of highly annoying construction the new stretch will connect several suburbs north of Lake Ray Hubbard to I-30 in northeastern Dallas County.

    The map below indicates: A) Howdygram headquarters in Mesquite; B) Denny’s (we highly recommend their Senior Scrambled Eggs); C) Lake Ray Hubbard; and D) the southern end of the new President George Bush Turnpike extension, about four miles from home.
    I should also mention that we’ll probably never use this stupid road because: 1) the tolls are way too expensive; 2) nobody with a brain needs an overpriced shortcut to Plano; and 3) I’m not wild about the name even though it honors George Bush senior (see right) and NOT his son.

    Big news! We get our biweekly Schwan’s delivery this morning and I’ve ordered a couple of new products ... cute little turkey meatballs and a sack of mixed berries. In a few days I’ll use the berries to make Marcy’s Sugar-Free Fruit Cobbler.
    It occurs to me that Trader Joe’s would be a lot cheaper for frozen berries — they’re cheaper for everything, actually — but they haven’t started building any of their stores yet in Texas. I’d like to yell at somebody but I don’t know who. Let me know if you want to volunteer, okay?

    Thank you for reading this.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Nothing says Hanukkah like toes, cake and mousse.

    Before I forget … Happy Hanukkah from your pals at the Howdygram! Hanukkah starts at sundown tonight and lasts for eight days, which means there’s still time to send me some presents. Please allow me to suggest the following last-minute gift options: 1) cash; 2) a set of place mats; 3) a large box of Equal packets; and 4) one week in Grand Cayman with Sam, including airfare, meals and new shoes. Click here if you need my shipping address.

    In case you’re interested, Sam says he’s giving me eight of his toes for Hanukkah. A different toe every night. I’m actually excited about this.

    Breaking news ... my first order from eDietShop.com (see previous post) just showed up and I’m so happy I can hardly stand it. I bought two sugar-free mousse mixes, one package of sugar-free pumpkin pie mix and a big pouch of sugar-free raspberry jello mix. No surprise, I just discovered that Amazon.com sells the same brand (Sans Sucre) at a slightly higher price but with free two-day shipping. I just ordered these flavors:
    Howdygram headquarters will be overrun with mousse as soon as I get myself a gallon of nonfat milk, although I might need more refrigerator space. Please send an email if you have an extra shelf I can borrow.

    I think I’ll empty the dishwasher now and then make some dinner so I can have cake for dessert. I love cake. Thanks for stopping by.

    When technology sucks.

    I’m sick of technology, and Facebook has to be the worst. Because I choose not to waste my life posting banal public messages on somebody’s “wall” I’m made to feel like a social outcast. Every business on the Internet wants me to “like” them before I qualify for a coupon and lately I can’t even post a comment to an online news article unless I’m signed in to a Facebook account. For the record, I’m also sick of “celebrity tweets.” Don’t people read books, make soup or take naps any more?
    I also want to crab about email for a minute. Although I enjoy an occasional email as much as the next person I really resent the never-ending commercial crap. For instance, after placing my very first $9 web order with PaperGoods.com two weeks ago — which also might be my last — they haven’t stopped bombarding me with ads, daily discounts, special offers, contests (who the hell wants to win paper cups?) and invitations to join a stupid reseller program. Come on … does anybody really sign up to resell Saran Wrap?

    Other serious email offenders include Kirkland’s, “Southern Living” magazine and Vista Print.

    My top-ranking pet peeve, though, is still AARP — the American Association of Royal Pests — for sending at least four emails a day on critical topics such as:

    “Job Ideas for Retirees”
    “Win a Trip to the Grammys”
    “Veggies That Spice Up the Holidays”
    “Save $3.60 on Kellogg’s Cereal”
    “Take Care of Your Gums”
    “Marlo Thomas Wants You to Laugh”
    “Master Indoor Gardening”
    “Learn to Play Pyramid Solitaire”
    “Don’t Ignore Your Feet”

    This is in addition to AARP’s daily snail-mail offers for long-term care insurance, cruise discounts, Medicare supplements, prescription drug programs and shameless requests for money. Plus ongoing political causes and how to send hate mail to Congress. (I’m actually okay with the hate mail part.)

    Maybe I should think about lunch for a while because we’ve got some swell chicken tamales that Sam bought yesterday at Costco. Tamales are good. Pass the hot sauce and thank you for reading this.

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Why I’m glad I don’t live in Amarillo.

    We’ve had a considerable amount of weather around here today, primarily heavy rain and a few non-frightening thunderstorms. I suppose I should be thankful I don’t live anywhere near Amarillo, however, because they’re being slammed by a blizzard that’s dumping up to two feet of snow. At least we don’t have to shovel rain here in the Dallas area, and I know I’ll be able to get to Kroger tomorrow to buy some groceries.

    Before I tackle the hot news story du jour, please allow me to post the following photo of transgender doofus Chaz Bono (on left) with an old and terrifying Richard Simmons, who appears to be spray-painting the front half of his head. (Note to Richard: this is NOT your best look.)
    As for the aforementioned hot news story, apparently Chaz and fiancĂ©e Jennifer Elia (see right) have announced the end of their engagement. They became engaged earlier this year on a reality show following a six-year relationship, during which Chaz was mostly a semi-attractive female with blonde hair until she he underwent a sex change “transition” in 2010 to become an unattractive, overweight dude in a size 48-short suit. This is confusing on so many levels I almost can’t wrap my head around it. I mean, is Jennifer Elia straight or gay?

    Time for dinner. I’m leaning towards a can of bean soup and a couple of sugar-free cookies, although I might be convinced to change my mind if somebody wants to come over with a large bag of Chinese food. You have 15 minutes to respond here. Thank you.

    Fear and loathing in North Korea.

    Sam is my hero. As I write this post he’s at Costco shopping for two items on my “wish list”: 1) a ginormous package of extra-lean ground beef; and 2) stuffed mushrooms. I’m also hoping to get to the supermarket today or tomorrow for a large pile of regular groceries so I’ll have ingredients on hand during the holidays. I want to make homemade Beef Barley Soup, a lot more Sugar-Free Hungarian Un-Stuffed Cabbage and a big pot of chili. I’m hungry, damn it.

    In case you missed the big news from impoverished North Korea, former supreme leader and hardcore funnyman Kim Jong Il has died of heart failure. The country is encouraging its people to support — as if they have a choice, right? — his youngest son and hand-picked heir, Kim Jong Un, pictured below. Nobody really knows exactly how old this well-fed little screwball might be, but 28 is the best guess by those who give a crap.
    According to Kim Jong Il’s private sushi chef, this particular son was daddy’s favorite because he’s so good-looking and resembles his handsome and popular late grandfather, Kim Il Sung (see inset), who had lots of teeth. We at the Howdygram wish North Korea lots of mazel with their latest rock star and hope he’ll be as modest and frugal as his late father. For example, the late Kim Jong Il: 1) reportedly spent $800,000 annually on imported French wine and Hennessey cognac; 2) traveled around North Korea in a private armored train with a team of executive chefs that had live lobsters flown in daily; 3) claimed that he learned to play golf in 1994 and immediately shot 38-under par on a regulation 18-hole golf course with no fewer than 11 holes-in-one; and 4) loved American movies and owned 20,000 DVDs. To keep all this in perspective, two million North Koreans starved to death during the mid-1990s and North Korea is considered the most oppressed nation on earth.

    I think I need to watch a Jerry Lewis movie now. Thank you for reading this.

    Sunday, December 18, 2011

    At last ... a source for sugar-free marshmallow Peeps.

    I’ll bet you thought I wouldn’t write a post today because it’s almost 10 p.m. and  you haven’t heard a peep from me since last night. To tell you the truth, it’s been a lazy, sleepy Sunday around here with overcast weather and no real motivation to do much of anything except eat lox and bagels and sleep through a couple of movies. If I hadn’t read the news that Britney Spears got engaged, Sunday might have been a total loss.

    We’re expecting a full day of thunderstorms here on Monday. Unfortunately, a crappy weather forecast totally screws the Costco junket I’d been planning. When it’s a week before Christmas the only time to do Costco is with the “cane and walker brigade” — a group to which I proudly belong — when the doors open at 10. I guess I’ll have to go Tuesday instead. If they’re out of stuffed mushrooms I swear I’ll have a brain hemhorrage. (Costco makes the best stuffed mushrooms on earth.)

    FYI, if you’re a diabetic no-sugar neurotic like I am I’ve just discovered another cool website that might interest you. It’s Low Carb Connoisseur, and they’ve got an outrageous variety of must-have products such as sugar-free MARSHMALLOW PEEPS,  sugar-free RUSSELL STOVER EASTER BUNNIES and sugar-free HOT TAMALES GUM. Oy!
    They also carry all of Pillsbury’s sugar-free cake mixes and frosting. Amazon.com might be slightly cheaper for these but Low Carb Connoisseur doesn’t make you buy everything in multiples of six, which can be an advantage if you’re not baking for the Marine Corps.

    One final thought, which I’ll reinforce with an appropriate photo ... RICK PERRY IS A TOTAL IDIOT.
    Now he’s telling Christians to stop being “politically correct” and drag their faith into political forums, demand prayer in public and prayer in schools, force everybody to celebrate Christmas and make the rest of us feel like outcasts. Frankly, Governor Perry, you’re a fool who shouldn’t be running for President. You should be running for Pastor-in-Chief of your neighborhood Baptist church. 

    Thank you for putting up with me.

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    God might be driving a FedEx truck.

    A couple of hours ago I’m really hungry and standing in the pantry hunting around for something to eat when the doorbell rings. It’s 8:30 p.m. and pitch black outside. Sam asks if I’m expecting anybody. I reply, “You’re kidding, right? We don’t have any friends.” He opens the door and it’s FedEx, magically delivering a stunning gift basket — from one of my clients in Virginia — stuffed with A BIG PILE OF AMAZING, READY-TO-EAT CRUNCHY THINGS. The timing was eerie, providential and absolutely perfect.
    I found this photo on the shipper’s website. Posing here are a bag of kick-ass pretzels and peanuts spicy enough to make your nose run, queso dip, salsa, hot sauce, tortilla chips, guacamole seasoning and chili mix. The basket itself is awfully nice, too, although I’m not sure what I’ll do with it yet. Right now my main concern is consuming as many snacks as possible — as quickly as possible — before I starve to death. (I haven’t eaten anything since we had lunch at the casino.)

    I need to eat something. Thank you for reading this.

    Celebrating coconut cream pie, freebies and a birthday.

    This was a wonderful and exceptionally surprising day. After a lazy morning we decided on dim sum at Hong Kong Royal for a late lunch, but halfway to the restaurant Sam noticed a “traffic alert” sign on the LBJ Freeway about a ginormous backup near our exit so he merged onto the 75 north and took me to the Choctaw Casino instead. Choctaw Casino! Two Saturdays in a row!

    But the exceptional surprises continued.

    For instance: 1) I had enough points on my Player’s Club card today to pay for two free buffet lunches, where I enjoyed excellent hot and sour soup, a couple of nice tamales with even nicer guacamole and a little wad of mashed potatoes, among other things; 2) today’s featured sugar-free pie was coconut cream; 3) our waitress’ name was Janice; and 4) Sam and I both won some dough at the penny slots, then we peed and drove home. Life just doesn’t get much better than this. At the moment Sam is asleep in the family room watching a Jerry Lewis movie.

    For your possible interest, our lucky slot machine today was “Cash Wizard,” with lots of free spins, bonus rounds and nice payouts. Sam does a happy dance when he wins. I like to watch.
    And now for something completely different.
    Sam’s brother David, pictured here with a car driving into the side of his head, is celebrating his birthday on December 18. Even if you don’t know him I think you should should buy a cake and sing something. “Happy Birthday” is our standard recommendation but selections by Bing Crosby, Lady Gaga or Herman’s Hermits would be fine, too. Mazel tov, David!

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    Eating cake for dinner and other incredible things.

    Happy Friday from Howdygram headquarters. I wasn’t planning to write another post tonight but so many truly incredible things have happened here today that I feel compelled to share the news. I almost don’t know where to begin but a simple list would probably be appropriate.

    Incredible Thing #1. Our handyman showed up this afternoon to do a couple of projects for us. If anything ever requires grout, caulk or spackle, Gary’s the dude to call. He’s the undisputed Spackle King of Texas. You can check out his stunning website here. Three guesses who designed it. (Me.)

    Incredible Thing #2. I updated the Howdygram’s banner and graphics a little while ago. Tell your friends.

    Incredible Thing #3. I’m having cake for dinner tonight with a side dish of mashed potatoes. (I try to include a vegetable whenever possible.)

    Upon closer examination it’s possible that these things may not be exciting to anybody but me so I apologize profusely if you feel cheated, robbed, disappointed, despondent, sick to your stomach or led astray. No kidding.

    I only have one comment about today’s preliminary hearing in the Jerry Sandusky case ... HE’S GOING TO FRY FOR THIS and I’ll bet all the coaches and university officers who looked the other way wind up in prison right alongside him. Holy crap, what a disgusting train wreck.

    Oy. Thank you for reading this.

    My pre-dawn Internet treasure hunt.

    I love getting up before sunrise because I can shop while everybody else in Texas is still asleep, such as Sam. And even though I’m basically just shopping online, for me it’s like sneaking into the mall before they open the doors. In a bathrobe with bed hair, no less.

    And so ... five minutes ago I placed my very first order with eDietShop.com! This included one each of the following products: sugar-free chocolate mousse mix, sugar-free pumpkin pie filling mix, sugar-free raspberry gelatin (one $3.89 pouch makes 32 ½-cup servings) and sugar-free chocolate cheesecake mix. Grand total: $14.87. This is damn exciting and I don’t care who knows it. You, too, can own sugar-free treasures just like these:
    After I finished ordering I answered one of those dopey BizRate surveys, thereby qualifying for up to FOUR FREE MAGAZINES for a whole year. I normally don’t bother with crapola like this but today I took the bait. I ordered “Taste of Home” (cooking and recipes) but decided to skip the rest due to a paralyzing disinterest in bowhunting, Latina fashion, black entrepreneurs, cigars, outdoor photography and motorcycle repair. There were also three vapid pop culture periodicals with assorted Kardashians on the covers (excuse me for a minute while I vomit) and one that featured yet another plastic, reprocessed portrait of 65-year-old Paula Deen (see above), the Food Network’s reigning Queen of Butter, that’s been Photoshopped into unrecognizable oblivion.

    I think I’ll go back to bed for a little while and try to warm up my feet on Sam. I’m married to a human heater. Shalom, y’all.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011

    Looking ahead to the Festival of Lights.

    Once again I’m pleased to post my annual Hanukkah Wish List, and y’all will be thrilled to know that you still have plenty of time to shop and ship before the holiday officially ends at sundown on December 28! Please send an email if you need my home address because I wouldn’t want any presents to wind up at somebody else’s house by mistake. Here’s what I want most this year:
    • News websites with large-print articles.
    • More baby pictures of Sam.
    • Cash.
    • A giant-size scratching post for humans.
    • Trader Joe’s in Mesquite.
    • An email moratorium from AARP.
    • A 24-hour dim sum delivery service.
    • Servants to make sure I always have clean sheets, an empty dishwasher and a walk-in closet that’s organized by season, color and sleeve length.
    • A lifetime supply of Coke Zero and Yankee Candle electric air freshener refills (Midnight Jasmine and Lilac Blossoms).
    In addition, I’d also like to post this Howdygram photo montage of highly repulsive creeps, jerks and idiots who have no redeeming qualities whatsoever, and if somebody could make them all disappear it would be the greatest Hanukkah present of all time. I would even send you some homemade latkes with a couple of napkins to demonstrate my gratitude.
    It’s dark and rainy today in Howdygramland, which is ideal nap weather and I might even hide the phone for a couple of hours. Incidentally, just a reminder that TCM is featuring another night of back-to-back William Powell movies tonight starting at 7 p.m. central time. Titles include a few genuine classics like Life with Father, Mister Roberts and One Way Passage plus a few titles I’ve never seen before. Call me if you make popcorn, okay? We don’t have any.

    Thank you for reading this.

    The world’s easiest dessert that’s not a box of donuts.

    Marcy’s Sugar-Free Fruit Cobbler is one hell of a great recipe even if I say so myself. It’s easy, it tastes wonderful and you can even serve it to company with no embarrassment whatsoever if you use nice bowls. I make mine sugar-free because I’m diabetic but I’ve included two recipe variations (see below) in case you prefer regular sugar instead of Equal.
    • 1 box dry Pillsbury sugar-free yellow cake mix
    • 8 to 10 packets of Equal
    • 1 stick melted butter
    • Pam spray
    • 2 lbs. frozen unsweetened fruit (peaches, blueberries or raspberries)
    Preheat your oven to 350°. Place frozen fruit on the bottom of a 9 x 13 glass baking dish that’s been shpritzed with Pam. Sprinkle the fruit with Equal. Pour dry cake mix on top and tap the pan gently until it settles evenly with no fruit visible. Drizzle the butter over the cake mix. Bake for about 45 minutes until brown and bubbly and you can’t stand waiting any more.
    If fresh berries are in season, substitute 4 cups for the frozen fruit.
    Is this gorgeous, or what? Please send an email if you’d like to request an enlargement that’s suitable for framing. The cost is $1.95 plus postage for a limited time only. Operators are standing by.

    Recipe Variations. If you’re not diabetic like me you can use any ordinary yellow cake mix and do one of two things ...
    1. Skip the Equal and sprinkle your fresh or frozen fruit with ¼ cup granulated sugar. 
    2. Instead of fresh or frozen fruit substitute canned fruit in syrup. Specifically, you’d use two 28-oz. cans plus the syrup/liquid from one of them. (Don’t add any additional sugar unless you’re a junkie.)