Sunday, February 27, 2011

Feel like a million bucks in one easy lesson.

There’s nothing quite like a Sunday morning Internet shopping spree to make a girl feel like a million bucks, and today was the mother of them all. I started at The Company Store, where I loaded up on a pile of new towels for the master bath ... all on sale and MONOGRAMMED FOR FREE. My color of choice is “Tarragon” (the middle shade of green in the photo) with a white monogram. I’ve wanted monogrammed towels my whole life and finally feel like a grown-up. It only took 60 years.

Then I get an epiphany. As long as I’m jazzing up the master bath why not jazz up the master bedroom, too, so I decide to hunt around for new decorative pillows for our bed and the sofa in front of the bay windows. But everywhere I look — Macy’s, Crate and Barrel, Pier One, Bed Bath and Beyond — the prices range from they-must-be-crazy to absolutely OUTRAGEOUS. Who on earth besides Donald Trump spends $79.95 for a stupid throw pillow? I finally wind up at and — as always — they’ve got exactly what I want. Their pillows are really cute (see below) and really cheap ($12) and the entire order ships for $2.97.

At this point I’m so damn happy I also decide to order a set of Wal-Mart’s 500 thread-count wrinkle-free sheets in “Olive,” which are posing below.

Please humor me for a minute while I offer an unsolicited Howdygram product recommendation. WAL-MART’S WRINKLE-FREE SHEETS ARE AMAZING. I already have three sets in other colors, and trust me, they really don’t wrinkle and they only cost $59.88 for king size. EVERYBODY NEEDS THESE SHEETS so click here.

I’m going to take a shower now and reheat Friday night’s chicken egg foo young. Pass the soy sauce.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting an early start.

Sam and I did something really weird last night. WE SWITCHED SIDES IN BED. There’s a long, convoluted explanation for this, so grab a cup of coffee and keep reading.

For the last two or three weeks I’ve been writing about carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand. The pain always seems to get worse late at night so it’s almost impossible to get comfortable in bed. A couple of days ago I discovered I can sleep — and wake up in the morning — without any pain at all if I’m on my left side with my left arm stretched straight out, palm up. I know this sounds crazy, but after way too many sleepless nights I’m pretty damn happy that I found a solution. And the only way to make it happen is to switch sides with Sam so he can’t roll over onto my arm.

There are, however, a couple of negatives: 1) Sam says my side of the bed feels creepy; and 2) I don’t like to sleep facing the alarm clock. On the plus side, I’m nine seconds closer to the bathroom now and at my age that’s a lot like winning the lottery.

Thank you for reading this. I mean it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Earthquakes and other discoveries.

Since my recent charity drive for Australian flood victims didn’t exactly launch as planned (see my recent post re Nose Plugs for Australia) I am hereby and forthwith pleased to announce Trash Bags for New Zealand, an official Howdygram fundraiser for the recently-rattled earthquake survivors of Christchurch. We’re recommending that each of y’all send us $250 towards the purchase of Hefty bags, first-class round-trip airfare for Sam and me to Wellington, plus a five day/four night layover in Fiji because we’ll be depressed after all this and nothing says “cheer up” like a five-star tropical resort. Sam also needs new swim trunks.

Please submit your contributions by email as soon as possible.

Also, please permit me to recommend my new favorite website, The Prepared Pantry. They carry a whole lot of everything if you love to bake, but in my case I’m hooked on their BREAD MACHINE MIXES ... more than 70 different varieties — with guaranteed perfect results — ranging from Gourmet New York Rye to Black Russian to Knobby Apple Cinnamon (pictured below), which makes the house smell like you’re baking a pie so you can impress the neighbors. Those three are actually our favorites. Other flavors you won’t find anywhere else on the planet include Tuscany Basil Tomato, Loaded Baked Potato, Smokin’ Hot Chipotle Cheese, Sour Cream Onion and Honey Graham Granola.

If you don’t own a bread machine you can buy one cheap at and then load up on mixes from The Prepared Pantry. Sam and I have the Oster Express Bake Breadmaker, which I love to pieces and is really easy to clean. And then you should buy an Adjustable Bread Keeper (I've got two) from Now go bake something and invite me for lunch.

Speaking of baking, we received a surprise thankyou gift today from Sam’s Aunt Adie in California, who sent a box of homemade biscotti (see below) in exchange for the note cards she won in our New Year Giveaway. This was a truly brilliant and inspired idea, Adie, because biscotti is my all-time favorite vegetable right after Mongolian Chicken. Please feel free to enter every Howdygram giveaway for the rest of your life.

Thank you for reading this!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cruel and unusual punishment.

Sam is at the office today, on Sunday. I woke up at 10:45 after a crappy night’s sleep and he was already gone, apparently forgetting to leave a Post-It on my computer monitor so I’d know where he went. When I called his cell he said he’d be bringing home a surprise for dinner ... OUR FAVORITE HOUSE SPECIAL PIZZA from i Fratelli in downtown Dallas. To wrap my head around this unexpected joy I immediately Googled “i Fratelli” and wish to share the following formal portrait for your possible interest:

Unfortunately, expecting me to wait SIX HOURS for this would constitute cruel and unusual punishment in any court of law on earth, even in whacked-out North Korea. What the devil am I supposed to do in the meantime, eat GRILLED CHEESE or HARD BOILED EGGS or LEFTOVER CHICKEN CHOW MEIN? Actually, after some calm reflection all of these are sounding pretty good in the interim so maybe I’ll just mosey into the kitchen and eat things. Thank you for reading this. Seriously.

Hiding in plain sight.

Lock the doors. This is the ultimate frustrating story about how you can’t find something that you know is really around here somewhere. I’m referring to Sam’s missing black stretchy pants, the ones he always wears to fall asleep in the family room when we’re watching an Errol Flynn movie. Two weeks ago he took them off to change clothes AND WE HAVEN’T SEEN THEM SINCE. Below is a copy of the ad that ran yesterday in the Dallas Morning News.

In our conversation with police detectives earlier today we admitted that a pair of renegade socks could have helped the pants escape because Sam’s sneaky socks have the run of the house. We constantly find them slinking down the hall, leaping out of the washing machine, creeping under the bed or bolting towards the back door. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if an enterprising pair masterminded the pants caper for a fee. We’ve looked EVERYWHERE. 

By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not asleep it’s because I tried and couldn’t. I flopped around in bed for a couple of hours and finally decided to just get up and do something productive. As soon as I finish this post I’ll reheat some leftover Mongolian chicken and watch Pollyanna. Shalom.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The 6 a.m. soup craving.

I got up an hour ago dreaming about homemade soup, which is definitely better than the dream I had night before last about my maids breaking things all over the house and hiding them from me so I wouldn’t know. The soup dream, however, has a basis in fact ... I made chicken barley soup yesterday that didn’t finish cooking until after 9 p.m. and the fragrance is still hanging in the air.

I think somebody should invent a candle that smells like chicken barley soup for people who don’t cook. Other possible candle scents could include “Litter Box” for people without cats, “Exhaust” for people without cars and “Fabric Softener” for people who don’t own a washer and dryer. Feel free to post a comment below or send me an email with your own suggestions. Thank you.

In other news, in an interview yesterday weird little Canadian pop star Justin Bieber offered Rolling Stone magazine his opinions on world politics and abortion. Keep in mind, this kid is barely 16 and looks like a little girl. His fans, who are mostly still in grammar school, would be more interested in his views on bicycles, hair gel and what’s your favorite color.

So here’s what this little genius had to say about politics: “I’m not sure about [political] parties, but whatever they have in Korea, that’s bad.” Bieber then told Rolling Stone he doesn’t believe in abortion, and when asked what about in cases of rape, he said: “Well, I think that’s really sad, but everything happens for a reason.”

If Korea is “bad” and rape “happens for a reason,” what we have here is a Canadian version of SARAH PALIN. Except I think Bieber is prettier. Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Killing time with late-night waffles.

Sam called a few minutes ago to let me know he’ll be working late tonight. VERY late. Maybe six more hours, which means he won’t get home until 5 in the morning. I’m not thrilled about this, of course, but to kill some time I’ll just write another Howdygram post, make frozen waffles and watch this week’s episode of “Top Chef All-Stars.” I guess you could say I’m really livin’ la vida loca here.

And now, please allow me to review another new product I tried from Schwan’s this week. This might be their best one yet!
No kidding, Schwan’s Eggplant and Zucchini Pie is as good as anything I’ve ever had in an Italian restaurant. It’s sort of a combination eggplant parmesan and vegetable lasagna with lots of ricotta cheese (exactly like the picture, believe it or not) and really excellent red sauce. I’ve added it to my official “order this forever” list, and it’s my goal — with proper training and practice — to eventually eat an entire tray all by myself when nobody’s looking.

Thank you for reading this. Have y’all filed your tax returns yet?

Keeping up with Marcy.

Good morning. It’s 5:35 a.m. In case you’re nervous that I’m turning into an insomniac, I really didn’t plan to get such an early start on my Wednesday activities and fully intend to creep back to bed within the next half-hour.

So far my plans for today include sending Sam to Wal-Mart for foam plates, light bulbs and frozen waffles, watching three really short women clean my house beginning at 10 a.m., our semi-monthly Schwan’s delivery at noon-ish and then making a monster-size pot of homemade chicken barley soup after Sam leaves for work at 2. My chicken barley soup, incidentally, is exactly the same as my beef barley soup (see recipe) except I substitute a major ingredient. There might be a prize for the first Howdygram reader who can guess which one, so please send an email as soon as you figure it out. Best of luck. I’m going back to bed now.

Wednesday marches on. It’s 11:15, the maids have come and gone and I just finished mopping up a Coke Zero spill all over my expensive two-line phone ... the one with the big fluffy shoulder rest. For the moment the phone is still working, but you never can tell with electronics because some of them prefer Diet Pepsi. Computer keyboards, on the other hand, are usually “dry clean only.”

I’d better fix some lunch now because Sam’s stomach is making so much noise it sounds like there’s a truck idling in the driveway. Pass the napkins and thank you for reading this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Your prizes are on the way.

Seriously. I wouldn’t joke about this. To the lucky winners of our New Year Giveaway, YOUR PRIZES ARE ALL IN THE MAIL AT LAST. Sam drove them to the post office this morning while I was still asleep.

In other news, it’s spring in Dallas! The temperature today — and forecast for the entire week — is in the low 70s. I haven’t been out of the house lately because my left hand is still a claw and I can’t drive, but there’s no reason I can’t sit on the patio for a few minutes and enjoy some fresh air. The back yard will be a little drab for the next few weeks, though, until our lawn is green again, our Oklahoma redbud tree starts to bloom and our new cedar fence is installed. (The fence will be a very big deal. Sam is still collecting estimates.)

In case you’re interested, here are …

The top 5 things I’m sick of reading about in the news:
  1. That President Obama is not a U.S. citizen.
  2. Anything concerning Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s ambitions, Sarah Palin’s whiny offspring or Sarah Palin’s mind-numbing opinions.
  3. Barely pubescent Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, who looks and sounds exactly like a 14-year-old girl.
  4. Iraq and Afghanistan.
  5. Red carpet photos from endless awards shows, where overpaid, overexposed and overappreciated celebrities throw parties to congratulate themselves for their own accomplishments.
Over the years I’ve actually become extremely Sam-like where that last item is concerned. I know he’s going to smile when he reads this. Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

Remembering Valentine's Day.

First of all, Happy Valentine’s Day from all of us at the Howdygram! Hope you have something fun planned today. I’m going to do a heap of laundry, make homemade chicken barley soup and watch Here Comes Mr. Jordan with Robert Montgomery and Claude Rains. It’s a full life.

And now, here are some famous events that occured on February 14 in other years.

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (1929). Four of Al Capone’s goons disguised as police officers entered gangster Bugs Moran’s headquarters on North Clark Street in Chicago, lined seven of Moran’s henchmen against a wall and shot them to death with machine guns. This was the high spot of an ongoing gang war.

The Discovery of Penicillin (1929). Bacteriologist Sir Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery led to one of the great developments of modern medicine. He left a plate of staphylococcus bacteria uncovered in his lab and later noticed that a blob of mold had fallen on the culture and killed most of the bacteria. He identified the mold as a strain similar to the kind found on old bread and named it “penicillin.” Personally, I would’ve named it “pumpernickel.”

California Begins Exporting Oranges (1886). The first trainload of oranges grown by southern California farmers leaves Los Angeles via the transcontinental railroad. This must have been quite a big hoo-hah in L.A., which was still a small town of 48,000 with no smog, no traffic and no nail salons. At least they had decent citrus fruit.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

You have to forgive me for this.

Before I dive into the main topic of this post I want to mention that Sam got home from Houston on Saturday morning exactly as I predicted ... FIVE HOURS EARLY. Apparently he woke up in the middle of the night and didn’t feel like going to back to bed, so he packed, checked out and drove home. At 8:15 when he called to let me know he was only 20 minutes away I was still asleep and didn’t pick up the phone, so he called twice more back-to-back. By the time I finally put on my glasses to check caller ID Sam was barely 45 seconds away from opening the garage door. I made lox and bagels to celebrate. At the moment he’s conked out in the family room with a bag of pistachio nuts watching Gone With the Wind. It’s good to have him home.

At last, here’s what I wanted to write about tonight.

To the lucky winners of our New Year Giveaway, I HAVEN’T FORGOTTEN YOU. All of your prizes were packaged 10 days ago and ready to mail with really cute shipping labels, but nobody here has been able to take them to the post office. Fortunately, I’m prepared with a variety of lame excuses excellent explanations, which I’ll share with you right now.
  1. The Weather. During the last week and a half we’ve had two ice storms and five inches of snow. Dallas was paralyzed and we never left the house. Even my favorite Chinese restaurant stopped making deliveries.
  2. The Business Trip. Just as our weather started to improve earlier in the week Sam wound up in Houston for five days. While he was away I didn’t go to the post office due to ...
  3. My Left Hand. Carpal tunnel, remember? I can’t open a car door or hold a steering wheel. The only thing I can do without help is write blog posts and WHINE, and I’m damn good at both of them.
Sam promises that your packages will be shipped on Monday, which means y’all should have your prizes by the end of the week except maybe Hailey in Canada, but don’t quote me on that. I don’t know for sure if mail to Canada takes longer or not.

Incidentally, if anybody wants to go out for lunch with us today please send an email and let me know. I’m thinking about Saltgrass Steak House in Rockwall (see below). We love their Texas cheesesteak sandwiches. Plus they have really excellent ketchup.
It’s time for Goodbye Mr. Chips now on TCM. Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Howdygram celebration.

There’s so much to celebrate that I almost don’t know where to begin. First — and most importantly — Sam is coming home from Houston today. And knowing him, he’ll probably wake up at the crack of dawn and surprise me by showing up hours earlier than I expected. He might even get home in time to take me out for lunch, which would be terrific because I’ve been craving a BLT.

Second, after years of experimentation I finally developed the perfect “MARCYTINI” ... which consists of 12 ounces of Coke Zero, nine ice cubes and a coaster.

Stop laughing. I’ve been working on this for YEARS. It’s not as easy as you think to get the right ratio of soda to ice cubes.

Third, my order of white glossy inkjet labels from Creative Label Concepts finally showed up last night ... four days late. UPS pounded on the front door at 8:15 and scared the living crap out of me.

And last but not least, I’ve discovered that taking a very hot shower two or more times every day will reduce the carpal tunnel pain in my left hand. But there’s good news and bad news. The good news, of course, is that I always smell great and don’t have to take as many pain-killers. The bad news is, my skin is starting to look like a day-old pie crust.

Please take a minute to post a comment below or send me an email and recommend your favorite moisturizer before this turns into a worldwide crisis like overthrowing Egypt. Thank you in advance.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Things I can do without Sam.

Howdy. Sam is still in Houston tonight. I’m freaking bored when he’s not here and — worst of all — there’s nobody around to scratch my back. I sort of wander aimlessly from room to room, taking showers, eating raisins and trying to remember where I left my wrist brace. I guess the only good news is, I’m expecting UPS to deliver a box of inkjet cartridges today and there’s still some leftover chicken chow mein in the refrigerator. I guess I also should mention our improving WEATHER situation. The temperature will hit 50° today, and by the middle of next week we’ll be in the low 70s. This is a huge deal, believe me, because it’s been really cold here. I’m so excited I might even drive around and buy myself a cheeseburger! (Okay, maybe not.)

About the wrist brace comment ... about two weeks ago I developed carpal tunnel syndrome in my left hand. (A year ago it was in my RIGHT hand, which was monumentally worse.) Apparently mine isn’t caused by a repetitive motion injury, though ... it’s a form of neuropathy, or a deterioration of the peripheral nervous system, which is one of the many irritating and seemingly endless side effects of diabetes. I’m dealing with it, but when one hand turns into a throbbing claw it’s almost impossible to do really ordinary things like making the bed, turning a doorknob, folding socks or trying to unscrew a jar. Thank God I can still TYPE. I’d blow my brains out if I couldn’t at least write posts. I mean, I can always teach Sam’s socks to fold themselves, right?

Sam is driving home tomorrow (Saturday) morning. It’s 250 miles from Houston to Mesquite, or about 4½ hours including pit stops, during which he sometimes looks for sushi or tacos. With Valentine’s Day coming up maybe he’ll even buy me a PRESENT. (At the moment I could use a new left hand. Seriously.)

Thank you for reading this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome to Dallas, a city of honored felons.

Our latest Einstein is a local boy ... Dallas’ Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway, who recently honored convicted felon football star Michael Vick with a key to the city. Although his decision wasn’t cleared in advance with Mayor Tom Leppert or anyone else on the city council, Caraway held his event at a local night club during Super Bowl week and was videotaped announcing that he’s “proud of Michael Vick.” As he hands Vick the key, he says: “You’ve earned this, Michael. We appreciate you.”

Keys to the city are usually ceremonial and not very important, but this is an awfully low bar that Caraway has set. Caraway claims he was focused on Vick’s efforts to turn around his life since leaving prison. I WANT TO GAG AT THE THOUGHT OF THIS. Vick is still on probation for running an illegal dog fighting operation and for torturing and murdering animals with his own hands, and then goes back to making millions of dollars playing for the Cowboys’ most despised rival, the Philadelphia Eagles.

I just can’t comprehend how or why the city of Dallas — or ANY city, for that matter — would “appreciate” a horror like Michael Vick.
When challenged afterwards by just about everybody for his mind-numbing stupidity, Caraway said, “I care deeply about animals, but Michael has been speaking to children about staying in school and making positive choices about picking friends.”

I’m speechless. Dwaine Caraway is just another brainless boob who’s ready to slobber all over any rich jerk who can throw a football. I think he should Google “Michael Vick Dog Fighting,” click “images,” and then take our damn key back so we won’t have to get all the locks changed.

Thank you for reading this.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Winter weather, off the charts.

My niece Melissa just sent me some photos from last week’s blizzard in Chicago. The one on top is a shot of a mountainous six-foot drift blocking her back stairs and burying the patio. The bottom photo shows a snowdrift across her front door. I have no idea how (or why) she got out of the house to take these pictures.
Seriously, I’ll never whine about half an inch of sleet again as long as I live. I’m a native Chicagoan who turned into a winter sissy after spending 12 years in southern California and now almost four in Texas. I’ve lost my sense of perspective. And I don’t own boots, gloves, a hat, Chapstick or a really warm coat, either. Mostly I just write posts and order Chinese food, not necessarily in that order. This doesn’t make me a bad person.

Thank you for reading this. Stay warm.

I must be blind.

This is what happens whenever Sam isn’t here ... I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON. It’s 7 a.m. and the map on shows a huge blotch of ice and snow (depicted as pink crap and blue crap, respectively) moving across the area, and a big, bad headline on the Dallas Morning News’ website is screaming in giant type:


Except when I look out the window I don’t see any ice and I don’t see any snow. I can hear plenty of wind, but I’m squinting as hard as I can and there’s just nothing else going on. Maybe I’m crazy or still asleep, or maybe a cyclone — Auntie Em! — magically transported the house to another city overnight. I don’t get it. However, I’m positive that Sam would be able to find the ice and snow if he was here because he has a foolproof system ... he just swings open the front door and steps outside.

In other news, skanky mock-celebrity Lindsay Lohan is facing grand theft charges today for stealing a $2,500 necklace from a Venice, California, jewelry store. She was seen wearing it days after the store said it was stolen, and they’ve got a surveillance video of her trying it on. If convicted, Lohan faces up to three years in prison, which might be reduced to probation if she signs up for six weeks at the Shoplifters’ Rehab Spa and Casino in Palm Desert. Lohan’s latest mug shot appears at right. She’s not looking so hot these days.

Winter storm update.
I just figured it out. Sam called from Houston to ask about the weather so I went back to the big windows in the living room for a quick reassessment now that it’s actually light outside. Upon closer inspection I was able to determine that we’re getting INVISIBLE SLEET, because there’s some white frosty crap on the pavement but nothing on the grass. The frosty crap is actually ICE. Nothing is moving out there. No people, no cars, no lizards, no coyotes. (Just kidding about the lizards and coyotes.)

I think I’ll go back to bed for a while. Thank you for reading this.

Sedatives and guilty pleasures.

It’s late, I’m tired, and I should have been in bed an hour ago, except it’s hard to fall asleep when Sam’s not here even if I take a sedative. Around 10:30 I had a very hot shower, watched two recorded episodes of “Hardcore Pawn” and ate peanut butter with a spoon ... three guilty pleasures and lots of fun when you’re home alone. Incidentally, if you like screwball TV shows, nothing beats “Hardcore Pawn.”
This is basically an ongoing series on TruTV about a gigantic pawn shop in Detroit owned by a Jewish man (Les Gold) and his two kids. The weirdos that walk into that store are beyond belief, trying to pawn everything from sex toys to grandma’s dentures to caskets. Even better, at least once a day their beefy bouncers have to drag a screaming low-life out to the parking lot. “Hardcore Pawn” is television at its very best. I think I even like it better than “Operation Repo.”

Our winter storm is getting closer as I write this. There’s already sleet falling in Fort Worth, which means all that frozen crap will hit Mesquite sometime within the next hour or two. We’re actually expecting half an inch of sleet followed by three inches of snow. And lots of wind.

I know this doesn’t sound like a very big hoo-hah to those of you who live in a fun climate like Chicago, but winter weather drives us crazy here in Dallas because we’re not equipped for it. We have no plows, no road salt, and no ability to drive on anything that’s slippery. The whole city basically goes to hell in handbasket until everything melts. Schools and businesses are closed, public transportation stands still, highways shut down and the airports cancel hundreds of flights ... even if we only get an inch or two of snow.

Here’s an amazing aerial photo of Dallas’ famous “high five interchange” after last week’s winter storm. Please note: IT’S DESERTED.
FYI, the “high five” in north Dallas includes 37 bridges on five levels connecting Interstate 635 (the LBJ Freeway) and U.S. 75 (North Central Expressway) plus assorted service roads headed in every imaginable direction. The interchange is an amazing feat of engineering that can make you dizzy if you don’t know where you’re going. You have to pay attention all times. Do NOT try to unwrap an Egg McMuffin, for example.

I’ll post more in the morning and let y’all know how the storm is progressing. Sweet dreams.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Learning to live with adversity.

I’m trying to overcome a moderately crappy day. There’s a big ice storm on the way overnight with snow tomorrow, I ran out of sugar-free chocolate pudding, and ever since I woke up this morning I’ve been trying to deal with a major system failure by my web host. Not only wasn’t the Howdygram functioning, all 24 of my clients’ websites were offline and I didn’t have any email service! For a while I wanted to blow my brains out, but there’s not much a girl can do about bad weather and the Internet. Unfortunately, I’m still out of chocolate pudding.

As I write this post Sam is driving to Houston for a three-day business trip. He calls every 20 minutes to tell me he’s okay or guess what he ate for lunch or he just passed a big field full of longhorns. This is almost as much fun as being in the car with him except my knees don’t get stiff. For your possible interest, here’s a map that shows Sam’s route on I-45. The pink map pins represent: A) our house in Mesquite; and B) Houston. Zoom in and you can see me waving. I’m the brunette in a red bathrobe just below the map pin at the top.
Before I forget, take a look at this photo from one of those lousy obstructed-view seats at Super Bowl XLV. As long as action on the field takes place between the 45-yard-line and the second hashmark you can see what’s going on. At other times you’re expected to squint at that barely-visible 42-inch TV hanging from a ceiling beam. Show of hands ... would YOU pay $1,200 for a seat like this?
I hope somebody strangles the NFL. Thank you for reading this.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The ice hump cometh.

With apologies to playwrite Eugene O’Neill, metro Dallas is expecting another round of nasty “winter mix” precipitation Wednesday morning and, with any luck, we’ll end up with another magnificent, photogenic ice hump in the middle of our patio. For those of you who neglected to respond to our exciting limited-time special offer on Saturday, we still have FREE PACKAGES OF AWESOME ICE HUMP NOTE CARDS available to the first two readers who respond to this post, either with a comment or by email. No normal person would ever pass up an opportunity like this. I’m just saying.

Remember those obstructed, unsafe and uncomfortable temporary Super Bowl seats that I posted about on January 28? Apparently all 1,200 seats were sold at the bargain price of $800 apiece ... except on game day (yesterday) the seats and scaffolding didn’t pass inspection and the Arlington Fire Department roped them off and wouldn’t allow fans to sit down. Cowboys Stadium managed to find alternative seats for slightly more than half, although if you traveled to the game with friends or relatives it was impossible to be seated together as group. The remaining displaced ticketholders wound up standing in the middle of a lobby area watching the game on video screens. Although the NFL promised to refund triple their ticket price, that’s not much consolation if you figure in the cost of airfare, hotels, meals, time off from work and the overwhelming level of corporate greed and negligence that created this situation in the first place. Maybe somebody should have offered a few free cheeseburgers. (Or ice hump note cards.)

And now it’s time for a quick shower and this week’s episode of “Tabatha’s Salon Takeover” on Bravo, which is basically a haircare version “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” for distressed beauty shops. Tabatha can be way meaner than Gordon Ramsay, but I forgive her because she’s Australian and I love her haircut.
Thank you so much for reading this. Don’t forget to floss.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Super Bowl XLV halftime report.

Just in case you’re not watching the game, here’s a report of all the important Super Bowl activities as of halftime.

The score. Packers 21, Steelers 10.

The national anthem. Crappy, overly-modulated rendition sung by Christina Aguilera (see right), who wore so much lipstick she forgot the lyrics.

The commercials. Incomprehensible. The Doritos ad actually grossed me out.

Celebrities seen in the stands. John Travolta, Michael Douglas (looking extremely pruny) and Catherine Zeta-Jones, George and Barbara Bush, and a slightly skanky Cameron Diaz feeding popcorn to Alex Rodriguez.

The game just got started again, so it’s time to head back into the family room, where Sam and chicken chow mein are waiting for me. Thank you for reading this.


Things that make me happy on Sunday.

I’m having a very good day. First, this morning I landed a new client who wants me to design three print ads for her business. I celebrated with a bowl of Cream of Wheat.

Second, we’re apparently having a brief respite from winter weather. It was already 50° by 10 a.m., which means all of our ice and snow have melted into oblivion and I’ll be able to order Chinese food this afternoon and not worry about the delivery driver breaking his neck. However, snow is supposed to start falling again around 7 tonight ... just in time to screw up the roads for 100,000 fans heading home from the Super Bowl. Yee-ha.

Third, I just ordered a pile of new DVDs from Titles include a collection of five early 1930s musicals with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald and a whole pile of movies with Errol Flynn ... Captain Blood, The Adventures of Robin Hood, The Sea Hawk, The Adventures of Don Juan and Operation Burma. This is an excellent haul and I can’t wait to add these classics to our DVD library, which now fills several shelves guarded by a Robert Osborne limited-edition bobblehead.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Winter as art: the illuminated ice hump.

Maybe it’s cabin fever, or maybe it’s NOT ... but give Sam a digital camera and he can even find something beautiful on a frozen patio. Take our “ice hump,” for example. Yesterday it was nothing to write home — or a blog post — about, but today in the sunshine it’s an artistic sculpture with lots of little dents from our dripping roof. Please enjoy this framed portrait with our compliments.
Limited-Time Special Offer.
The first two Howdygram readers who comment on this post or send me an email will receive a package of 10 FREE ICE HUMP NOTE CARDS with white envelopes. Good luck, and thank you for reading this.

Admiral Bird reaches the South Pole!

This morning the Howdygram’s resident explorer — Sam — decided to brave our vast wilderness of unplowed roads to shop for a list of essentials at Tom Thumb, which included: 1) mozzarella sticks; 2) Clorox bleach; 3) pepper jack cheese; 4) a lifetime supply of Coke Zero; 5) bananas; 6) nonfat milk; and 7) toilet paper. Sam says the roads are still icy and the parking lot sucks, but his accomplishment is so exciting I almost can’t stand it. However, I regret to report that Tom Thumb is apparently out of bananas.

In other news, it’s time to review another Schwan’s product that we tried this week for the first time: Bagel Dogs with Cheese, which are pretty damn good and way better than the photo (right) would suggest. The sausage inside is actually more like a Smoky Link than a regular hotdog, which is fine with me, and the onion-poppyseed bagel wrap turns out great in the oven. They also come with microwave directions but I’ll bet a nuked bagel dog could make a person gag. And in case you’re wondering, these are FULL-SIZE SANDWICHES and not teeny little appetizers with cocktail weenies inside. I thought you’d all want to know.

Admiral Bird just pulled into the garage with our loot from Tom Thumb, so while he empties the trunk I’m going to fold a mountain of laundry (my project for the day) and eat Cream of Wheat. Hope you have a swell Saturday, and thank you for reading this.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ask and ye shall receive.

My sister-in-law Lisa just commented (see previous post) that I didn’t include any pictures, so I sent Sam outside to play with my digital camera. We don’t have any photos from the ice storm on Tuesday because we never left the house. Today, though, Sam was a willing photographer because he couldn’t wait to romp around in five inches of new snow, no doubt because he grew up winter-deprived in the San Fernando Valley. In MY case, I’d be happy if I never saw this crap again for the rest of my life. (Seriously.)
Please note the white van in the bottom photo. It’s been stuck there for several days because the driveway is a sheet of ice. If it hasn’t been moved by April we’ll plant flowers and turn it into an arboretum.

Incidentally, I’ve been so distracted by the weather this week — and also not having any Internet access for four days — that I never posted the winners of the Howdygram’s New Year Giveaway. So here they are:
We gave away our own exclusive “Thank You for Reading This” merchandise, including five packs of note cards, two mouse pads, two tee shirts and refrigerator magnets for EVERYBODY. Prizes will be in the mail as soon as the roads become passable, which probably won’t be until early next week because there isn’t a snowplow within 350 miles of here. Thank you for reading this.

Sometimes heaven freezes over, too.

Day 1: Tuesday.
Remember that ice storm we expected? It got here right on schedule. As a matter of fact, Sam and I woke up around 4 a.m. to the sound of sleet pellets pinging against the windows. By 7:30 the city was covered with half an inch of ice and a layer of light snow, temperatures dropped into the single digits, and that’s basically where we’ve been ever since. The roads are impassable and we can’t leave the house.

Day 2: Wednesday.
During the wee hours Wednesday morning Dallas’ primary electric provider decides to have some fun with “rolling blackouts” to prevent overloading the power grid, an act that defies logic since 85% of the homes and businesses in North Texas are heated with NATURAL GAS. But regardless, as soon as we lose power all of our smoke alarms, which are hard-wired with emergency backup batteries, begin shrieking in unison like a flock of prehistoric raptors. We nearly have HEART ATTACKS. It’s 5 a.m., the house is pitch black, and Sam has to grope around in the pantry to find our flashlight, drag in a gigantic aluminum ladder from the garage, and then disassemble the smoke alarms and remove all the batteries. Please note: we have NINE-FOOT CEILINGS throughout the house.

Half an hour later after two false starts the power finally surges back to life and everything is fine, pretty much, except now we have to reset electronic clocks throughout the house (three in the kitchen) and the D-Link router that connects our computer equipment gets fried. The same kind of thing happened with the router on January 30 (see post) but it eventually started blinking a few minutes later. NOT THIS TIME. Now it’s ready for the coroner and we’re making plans to sit shiva. In the meantime, Sam and I go back to bed and I figure I’ll call my Mac technician, Betty, the next time I get up.

Surprises continue. We roll out of bed at 9:45 to the sound of our maids ringing the doorbell. I have no idea how three women from Guadalajara, Mexico, maneuvered their van up our hill on sheer ice, but I’m glad they’re here because they do great bathrooms. A few minutes after they skid away I get a call from my Schwan’s delivery dude, Gary, who’s parked in front of the neighbor’s house and complaining that our street is covered with ice — tell me something I don’t already know — and that he almost slammed into a mailbox and doesn’t think he can get out of his truck. I say, “Well, you don’t have to, Gary. You can skip our delivery this week if you think it’s too dangerous.” And he whines, “But I’m already HERE.”


When I finally have a chance to call Betty she tells me nothing’s open for business due to the ice storm so she won’t be able to buy a new router at Fry’s and install it for another couple of days. Unfortunately, we have no Internet service in the interim. I suppose I could rewire my Mac and figure out how to connect directly to the cable modem, but I’m surviving for now. Whenever Betty finally gets here, though, I’ll ask her to help me pick out a Mac laptop so we won’t have to go through anything like THIS again.

Day 3: Thursday.
As far as I can tell without ongoing updates from, Dallas is still mostly layered with ice and temperatures won’t rise above freezing until Saturday. Last I heard, tomorrow we’re actually expecting up to three inches of SNOW. This kind of stupid hoo-hah totally paralyzes the sixth-largest metropolitan area in the United States because DALLAS DOESN’T USE ROAD SALT. They occasionally throw a little sand on icy overpasses, but sand can’t MELT anything … it just gives you some crappy traction (if you’re lucky) and then turns into Texas mud.

Incidentally, Sam has been home from work all week eating Mrs. Fields ice cream sandwiches. He also likes to go outside, snap icicles off the side of the house and bring them in for show & tell. It’s a full and rewarding life for one of us.

I talk to Betty at 10 a.m. and she’s on her way to Fry’s to buy our router. I’m so excited I think I’ll make Cream of Wheat! Sam calls his office and finds out they’ll only be open today until 3, which means he can stay home again and work remotely in his robe once Betty gets our computer network reconnected to the outside world. This is good news, although I think we’re out of ice cream sandwiches. Stay tuned.

Day 4: Friday.
We’ve reconnected to the outside world and and it feels GREAT to be back in action. I spent a little time last night before bed answering a small ton of email; this is my first opportunity to publish a post since January 31.

Today’s biggest challenge will be SNOW, because I just peeked outside and we got at least four inches overnight ... like a pile of white frozen frosting on an icy cake. I’m hoping all that hot air from the Super Bowl will melt some of this crap on Sunday. Hold a good thought, y’all, and thank you for reading this.