Sunday, August 30, 2009

Midnight Snack

Ever since turning 30, I get up at least a couple times in the middle of the night. In most cases, I'm at least a tad hungry, so after going to the bathroom, I hit the refrigerator for a snack or two (I've noticed that it's easier for me to get to sleep if I have a reasonable amount of food being digested). But where to eat it? I'm not big on eating at the kitchen table and don't really like ingesting food while in front of the telly.

I hit upon the idea of eating on the floor of the bathroom at least five years ago. While sitting cross-legged on the floor mat next to the sink, I peruse EntertainMeWeakly

(check it: the cast of Seinfeld is reuniting this fall on HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm")

or Snoozeweek as I eat a NutriGrain bar (or an Oreo Cakester if I'm jonesing for some chocolate). On other evenings, I'll microwave some Pillsbury homestyle pancakes and make sure to put plenty of syrup on them.

I sometimes even eat my dinner in there; the white noise offered by the bathroom fan is a nice reprieve from the TV blaring as my wife watches stuff like Nancy Grace and "Fried Green Tomatoes". The bright lights given off by the vanity also make it much easier for me to read.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Eleven Years Ago Today

On August 23rd, 1998, I woke up by myself at the Ramada hotel in Mount Prospect, Illinois. Today was the big day. I took a long shower and shaved. I got dressed in regular clothes and headed next door to the Bristol Court banquet hall. There weren't too many people there yet.

I went to the men's dressing room. My best man, Phil, was there. I changed into a zoot suit. The other men in my party arrived soon after. I took a stroll around the banquet hall. Everything appeared to be in order. I was called over to do pictures with my about-to-be in-laws. Next, I met the rabbi (I'm not Jewish, but my wife-to-be was. Don't worry. Even though I'm not Jewish, I've been cut) who asked me to sign a wedding contract called a katuba. I didn't see her, but could hear my beloved talking from the top of the stairs (Is that bad luck?)

At 11am, it was time for the ceremony to start. I was quite nervous, but there was no turning back now. I went to my designated spot under the Jewish hupa and waited for my bride. Her parents walked her down the aisle. They had forgotten to put her veil down, however. Oh well. The rabbi gave a short talk about love, life and God. My love and I recited some Hebrew, exchanged rings, and drank wine. At the end, I was asked to smash a glass (actually a light bulb) with my foot (famous Jewish tradition). I did so and everyone said, "Mazel Tov". We then kissed (but not for too long, since her dad was just 3 feet away) and I felt mighty relieved that the most difficult part was over.

We did a meet and greet with everyone who had come (about 150 or so). Both my parents were there and 3 of my 4 siblings (the 4th one was having "issues" at the time). Many more pictures were taken by the wedding photographer.

After a while, the guests went to their seats. The entire wedding party was introduced by the DJ providing music for us. Dori and I were given a standing ovation, which was surreal, but cool. We sat down and proceeded to chow down, but not until after a few toasts. The food (caesar salad, chicken, etc) was quite good. Dori and I then proceeded to visit with our guests.

Then the dancing started. Our first dance was the Jim Brickman-Martina McBride love song, "Valentine". Next, the bridal party came out and then it was an all-skate, I mean, an all-dance. They were playing a lot of fast Jock Jams-like songs, but I just couldn't loosen up enough to really get down like some of the people there.

The music stopped right around 4pm and, like that, our wedding was complete. Me and my girl went to our respective dressing rooms and changed into civilian clothes. The girls in the bridal party suggested that everyone in the wedding party go out to eat someplace close for supper. Wendy's was right across the street, so the ten of us headed over there and had a good meal. The bridal party still wanted to have fun, so suggested a movie. They decided on "There's Something About Mary". We had seen it a week before (even back then, I was a movie freak), so didn't go along. We found out later that everyone loved the movie (it was quite good).

We then headed to my newly- christened wife's parents' house to do some laundry. We visited with them for a while, then headed to the honeymoon suite at the Ramada. Something was wrong with the bath, so we had to call for someone to fix it. The suite was nice. It had leather furniture which was quite sweet. We opened our wedding presents which, per Jewish tradition, consisted almost entirely of cash (!). After you-know-what, we went to sleep. The next morning, it was off to the Milwaukee airport and from there, a honeymoon in sunny Orlando, Florida.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wiping is so 20th Century

Toilet paper, such a waste (and not even very effective).

Check out this article from Newsweek:

Deep down, Americans have always known that wiping their rears with dry paper is ineffective; a classic survey showed that half of TP users spend their days with "fecal contamination" in their underpants. And yet we continue to mock the bidet, the Frenchest of innovations, as froufrou, risqué, de trop. But while personal hygiene is one thing, the future of the planet is another. The average American uses 57 sheets of toilet paper a day; collectively, we burn through 36.5 billion rolls each year. Tossing all the TP in America would save 15 million trees, 17.3 terawatts of electricity, and more than 473 billion gallons of water annually; the environmental impact of bidets is minimal in comparison. No wonder the Japanese bidet behemoth Toto is gearing up for a massive sales push in the States. When it's hip to be green, ditching the Charmin could actually make a difference. And not only in our (dirty) drawers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer Movies

I've been to four different movies over the past ten days. A week and a half ago, I saw "A Perfect Getaway", a thriller whose main point of interest is a doozy of a twist.

Going in, I didn't know what it was, but it's always cool trying to figure out what it is ahead of time. I wasn't able to do so in this case (I rarely do), but that didn't keep me from having a good time with it. The film took place entirely in Hawaii which made it awfully easy on the eyes (Milla Jovovich also helped greatly in this regard).

A few days later, I finally caught up with the 6th Harry Potter movie. Though there was hardly any action to be found, the characters and the struggles they faced held my interest throughout. Not something I'd wanna revisit, however, and like all previous installments, a very pale imitation of the far superior "Lord of the Rings" films.

On Saturday, I went to "District 9", a very highly praised sci-fi movie from a new director. Made for a paltry $30 million (crap like Transformers costs over $150 million), this movie had it all.

It started as a documentary about aliens trying to fit in with humans in South Africa before turning into a full-force action pic. I usually don't root for characters much in action films, but the ones in this movie really had my sympathies. A number of moments had me on the verge of cheering. Very stirring film and the number one movie of last weekend.

Yesterday, I caught "(500) Days of Summer".

As I went up to the cashier, I said, "I'll take one to "Days of Thunder". The guy asked me to repeat what I said and I did. A moment later, he gave me a tic to "Summer". I wonder if he went up to one of his coworkers later and told them about the yutz he encountered in the early afternoon.

"(500)" looks to be a love story, but the narrator states early on that this is not the case. The film had a number of laughs, but was even better at showing what it feels like to be in the "honeymoon" phase of a relationship, just not necessarily a relationship that is gonna end up with wedding bells. This is something that most rom-coms just don't get. Both leads were fantastic and the non-linear form that the film followed made for a more interesting experience than if it had followed a more traditional path.

One thing I noticed after seeing "Summer" was the high it had me on. Walking around the lake afterward, it was extremely palpable and I was reminded why it is that I love movies so much.

Here are my grades for the four: "A Perfect Getaway" (B+), "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" (B), "District 9" (A), "(500) Days of Summer" (A-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

God's Pizza

Later this afternoon, I'll be going to my favorite pizza place in town, Godfather's Pizza (I wrote about my somewhat-criminal early 90's actions there here).

The only time I go there is when they have their twice-weekly buffet. I typically arrive just before it starts (at 5), find a seat, get a pop, and make sure there is plenty of parmesan cheese at my table. I pretty much always eat the exact same thing: five slices of thin-crust pepperoni pizza and a few dessert sticks.

You might ask how I get away with taking five pieces of the same type of pizza off the buffet. Well, if there's no one nearby, there's no problem; I just go for it. If someone is behind me, I'll take two or three slices off the buffet, put the plate on my table, and then immediately go back up there to get two or three more.

Once seated in a booth, I move the table really close to me so that I don't need to lean forward to eat. If no one wishes to accompany me, I bring along an ish of TIME or Entertainment Weekly. It was while reading articles there that I first learned about two of my favorite TV shows: "Prison Break" and "Entourage". One time, when writing a check for the buffet, I wrote it out to "God's Pizza". My wife, seeing this, said, "Can you do that?"

At 5:15, I leave the restaurant quite satiated and rarin' to play with pup for a while in the backyard to burn off some of the pizza-powered energy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whoa, Nelly

Fascinating article in TIME magazine last week about exercise and how it won't make you thin.

Some choice bits:

"The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.

Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym.

This explains why exercise could make you heavier — or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito."

This time last year, I was hitting the treadmill like a madman, walking an hour every two to three days. Though it felt good, I can't say it did much to help me lose weight. If I'd eaten a bit less, I'm sure I would've had more favorable results, but fact is, I'm at a healthy weight and if anything, should work more on reducing saturated fat from my diet.

Over the past few months, I've been getting about 10 to 15 minutes of exercise each day (nothing strenuous), eat about the same amount of food, and have maintained my weight for the most part. I'm more than cool with this. Though the treadmill just sits, unused, it makes an awfully good coat rack.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fly Away

We've had a number of flies come into the house this summer due to leaving the garage door slightly ajar from time to time so that Zoe can come and go as she pleases. I have a very unusual strategy when it comes to dealing with them. Before I get into that, though, I have to note that flies in the house seem to bother the dog much more than the cat.

The dog will jump in the air to try to catch them and sometimes chases them from room to room. She actually caught one yesterday and was eating it (something that cats tend to do). The cat will chase moths in the garage, but doesn't appear to have much interest in flies (she did when she was younger).

When I encounter flies, I take a paper towel and try to capture them within it. Once I am able to do so, which can take some time, I open the deck door and let them fly away. Sometimes (though not too often), I'll clip a bit of their wing when I envelope them, but that's certainly better than what would happen if they'd wandered into virtually any other house in the neighborhood. My wife will sometimes get frustrated at my strategy saying things like, "Just kill it", but it's quite obvious to me that the fly just wants to be free; if a little extra effort can ensure this, it's a win-win.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Doesn't It Just Break Your Heart?

For more pics of animals in casts, go here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Tone-Loc or Tone-Deaf?

Video I taped of my brothers 20 years ago