NYC in (Mediocre) Photos, Part 1

I went to New York last month for Blogworld & New Media Expo and I didn’t blog about it here. Shameful, really.

Actually, as you may have noticed (all 2 of you), I haven’t blogged about much of anything in a while. A long while.

Well, I’m here to make up for that now with some very mediocre and random photography from my trip to NYC. Please enjoy…

Legs in a Plane
























Legs on a Plane!  – Sure, I have some shots of the Empire State Building, Times Square and such, but let’s focus on the important stuff … like my comfortable seats on the United Flight to New York. Viva Air Travel! (Forget Coach. Next time I’m flying in the 1% Class).

Phillipines Day

























Luck O’ the Filipino! – We arrived just in time to see the Philippines Independence Day Parade. What’s this Blarney, you may ask? Why are there kilts in a Philippines Independence Day Parade?  As it turns out, there is a New York City law requiring a bagpipe brigade in each and every parade within city limits.
















Apparently, someone didn’t get the memo about the change in parade schedule. Mardi Gras has nothing to fear…




















Glorious, isn’t it?  History Lesson: This is the first pharmacy in America.  Alexander Hamilton established it in 1784, and soon thereafter attempted to make it American’s official “National Pharmacy,” but Congress thwarted his plans. He ultimately had to settle for creating a bank. Ironically, Aaron Burr rushed here to pick up some hydrogen peroxide and Band-Aids after shooting Hamilton in a duel, but he didn’t have a loyalty card and couldn’t get 20 percent off, so he left. Hamilton later died.























I was told that this hotel is famous for people … ummm … “rocking the Casbah” with the curtains open or right up against the windows. In fact, it was featured in the recent sex addiction-themed film “Shame,” a delightful family romp featuring Michael Fassbender and his member. However, this had nothing to do with the fact that I stood in this location for three or four hours. Nothing at all. I’m just a fan of architecture.

Well, that’s it for now. Not much after a seven-month absence, I know, but there’s more to come. I promise. Just like I promise that all information in this post is 100% historically accurate.



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Hello, all! I know I’ve been away for a while, but things have been a little crazy lately (parenthood and whatnot). Nevertheless, I wanted you to know I’m thinking about you during this glorious holiday season! If you miss me, you can always find me here.

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Things That Make Me Uncomfortable, Vol. 1

As a blogger, I believe in sharing. This may seem obvious, but I think that some bloggers hold back on personal details. Some are dedicated to specific topics and they rarely provide insight into their inner workings or personalities. Well, you’ll find no such reluctance here. I wear my heart on my sleeve (unless my shirt has stripes and it looks too busy), so I’m going to open up to you today and share a very special list that will help you better understand me.

I considered starting this program of  “sharing” with a list of things that make me happy, but that seemed a little trite. Not “attention-grabbing” enough. So, I chose to begin this process with something negative. This will be (enemies take note)… a list of things that disturb me or really make me squirm.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you …

Things That Make Me Uncomfortable, Volume 1

1. This picture (and the ratings for this show) ….

Please, please don't reveal...

2. Smelly elevators – Whether it reeks of fried food, mold, body odor or (God forbid) human flatulence, this is an all-around nightmare scenario. The smell serves as an especially unpleasant reminder that you are temporarily trapped in a very small space and it also sets you up for public humiliation. Undoubtedly, when someone else boards the elevator (usually an attractive member of the opposite sex), they will mentally assign blame for the smell to you. It’s inevitable… You are there. The stink is there (and obviously fresh). In this person’s mind, you become one with the stink.

3. Any TV commercial that references “embarrassing odors”

4. Female friends/Wives of friends/Coworkers/Acquaintances who post pictures of themselves in swimwear on Facebook. Please stop this. I cannot click on these. Indeed, I cannot event glance at them. It’s akin to walking by a strip club on Bourbon Street with family – even once quick look and you feel like a filthy pervert. It would be unthinkable for me to “like” such a photo or comment on it. Would a husband, boyfriend or my wife buy it for a minute if I were to say “Wow, the beach sure looks amazing!” or “I would love to jump in that pool behind you”?

5. Old William Shatner

Need I say more?

6. Watching comedies I enjoy with anyone over the age of 55. This never goes well. I have nothing against older people, but they tend to be a bit befuddled by what I find amusing. I once watched Tosh.0 with my parents. This won’t happen again.

Not funny to retirees, "the Greatest Generation" or anyone who might vacation in Branson, MO.

7. Large men in tiny jogging shorts …

Even for fit people & Daniel Tosh, this is simply too much thigh.

8. Riding in a car with my father behind the wheel – I love my father dearly, but he has been retired for a few years now and has fully entered that “Screw it, I’ve earned this…” phase in which traffic laws are viewed as unsolicited advice. Stop lights can be run if no one is around and turn signals are simply silly, unnecessary automobile extras like tissue box holders.

9. My entire 2011 Fantasy Football roster.

10. This contest on the official CBS “Criminal Minds” website. Seriously … an “Ultimate Fan” contest for a show about deranged serial killers? Isn’t this just tempting some nut job out there to commit a heinous crime modeled after one seen on the show? This would certainly prove their devotion to the program, while also giving them a chance at fame by ultimately becoming a plotline on the show itself. You’re playing with fire, CBS.

The contestants so far... Place your bets!

11. Circus Peanuts (see this post for full details)

12. Dogs that  Bark at Me When I Jog Past Early in My Run, But Stare Silently When I Pass Again on the Way Home – I’ve noticed a trend recently when I run and it troubles me. When I energetically bound past a fenced-in dog about a block from my home, he chases me from one side of the yard to the other, barking ferociously. However, when I am plodding past the same yard on my way back, I strain to hear over my pounding pulse and squint to see through the sweat pouring from my forehead, and there is nothing. Then, just as I’m about to pass, I notice the beast looking at me from the corner of the yard, a disinterested look (or maybe a look of pity?) on his face. There’s no reason to chase this prey. This prey is dying. It will soon be lying helplessly on the ground. They say dogs can “smell” cancer. Can they sense my impending  coronary?

"You are dead to me ... No, seriously, you might be dying, so I'll eat you after my nap or something."

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It’s my birthday, so Sue me

I don’t really know Sue Zemanick, but I celebrate my birthday at her place every year.

"Abandon all hope of not stuffing your face, ye who enter here"

For the past three years, my wife and I have celebrated my birthday at Gautreau’s in Uptown New Orleans, the well-hidden restaurant where Zemanick serves as Executive Chef. The place is so damn cozy (okay, small) that when we go there it feels as if we’re barging in on a private dinner party Zemanick is hosting at her home.
I’ve seen Zemanick there, but I’ve never actually spoken to her. She makes regular appearances in the dining room, chatting up guests while sporting a ‘Hornets teal’ chef’s jacket. I believe she stopped at our table once and asked about our meal, but my mouth was full of lovingly prepared rainbow trout at the time and my wife had to respond on our behalf.
My point is that, until recently, what I knew about Zemanick, I knew from the amazing dishes she prepares; dishes that stick with me long after I leave and that have prompted me to rave about Gautreau’s to everyone who has ever asked me where to eat in New Orleans. Dishes like, well, this…

I hope my last meal looks something like this (but with a side of cheese fries).

Delicious looking, no? Trust me, if you go to Gautreau’s, you should try whatever fish is on the menu that night (it changes regularly). You can’t go wrong. Here, let’s take another look…

I have a framed picture of this meal on my desk, next to photos of my wife and daughter.

So, if you’re getting the idea that I like Gautreau’s and that I’m a fan of Sue Zemanick, you are correct. In fact, when I have excellent meals at other restaurants, I refer to them as “Zemanick-ian” (it’s easier than “Gautreau’s-ish). That’s why I was tremendously fired up when I heard that Zemanick was going to compete on the spring 2011 edition of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters. When the show premiered in April, I put on my official, teal “Zemanick #1″ jersey and prepared to tune in.
Initially, I believed that Top Chef Masters would help shed a little light on just who Sue Zemanick was, but it didn’t. In fact, I believe ended up learning more about how reality TV works than anything else.
Outsize personalities rule the day in Reality TV and, I don’t believe that Zemanick was as wacky or “colorful” as some of the other contestants. Also, I have to believe, early episode editing of these shows provides more than a few hints about who will be making a season-long journey and who will be gone in a matter of weeks. From the word ‘go’, Zemanick seemed almost invisible. Sure, the roguishly-handsome-but-smarmy Aussie host (I don’t recall his name. He’s supposedly a good chef. Whatever…) occasionally acknowledged her (see photo below), but it wasn’t enough.

Don't trust Crocodile Douchedee, Sue. In the end, he'll take you down for a death roll at the bottom of the lake.

Sue was voted off in the second or third week in an episode that actually made me like Christina Hendricks a little less (for about 10 minutes anyway). I won’t go into the details. You can read all about it for yourself here or check out Sue’s “post-game” interview. What it meant was that I didn’t get to know Zemanick any better, nor did the rest of America. However, while it’s certainly a shame for America, I realized that this didn’t matter so much to me.
What I’ve learned about Zemanick is that she’s one of the best damn chefs in New Orleans and each year, her cooking helps me forget how old I’m getting. That’s the perfect birthday gift and all I really need to know.

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No More Clowning Around

By now you’ve probably heard about the controversial push by doctors and public health leaders to get McDonald’s to retire Ronald McDonald and stop marketing to kids. Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue and I must admit that I’m conflicted.

Who would want to do anything to hurt this somewhat creepy face?

On one hand, I understand the public health concern and don’t want to see our nation’s children drowning in frying grease, but I also remember Ronald as a part of my childhood. He holds a unique position in the pantheon of kiddie characters, in that he was not only amiable and entertaining, but accessible.

What do I mean by accessible? Allow me to explain… as a child, you always knew the “real” Mickey Mouse had big ears and a shiny new outfit and lived in Disney World. He was definitely not the dingy, small-eared version dancing around doing ‘jazz hands’ at the church carnival. And the “real” Batman — the one you watched on TV? He was probably in Hollywood, not appearing at the local car show. But Ronald McDonald was different. Every McDonald’s was just as “real” as the next. If you saw Ronald McDonald during a birthday party at McDonald’s, then it was THE Ronald McDonald. He may have looked or sounded slightly different than the one in TV commercials, but the one on TV didn’t always look the same from one commercial to the next anyway. Ronald was an aggressively friendly, ‘down to earth’ mascot for the masses.

But, if the times dictate that something must change, then something must change. However, I believe I have a compromise that will work for everyone. Instead of “killing off” Ronald McDonald and crushing those of us who have fond childhood memories of him (and of Grimace, Mayor McCheese and those French Fry Tribble things), I suggest a Ronald re-imagining. I propose a darker, morally complex Ronald. A clown that’s crying on the inside. A mascot that will alienate kids, but captivate adults and make the ladies swoon (while simultaneously making them crave a Filet-O-Fish).

I have two initial suggestions. These are just a beginning, but they should give you an idea of where I’m going…

“Ronald Re-imagined” Idea #1: Ronald McDraper
Scorned wives, mistresses and office backstabbers make for one Unhappy Meal when Ronald becomes a magnetic-but-troubled marketing exec for an up-and-coming fast food chain in the 1960s.

Booze, babes, and burgers…Who could ask for more?

“Ronald Re-imagined” Idea #2: Ronnie McDarko
Ronald as a strange, bunny-like creature that haunts the imagination of an unstable high school student who’s obsessed with Quarter Pounders, which, in turn, are the key to wormholes or time travel or some such nonsense.

Dark humor, twisted plot, and disturbingly bad photo manipulation.

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Bad Influences

So, I’m a new dad.

This means, of course, that I’m currently going through all of the typical “new dad” stuff: sleepless nights; holding, rocking and consoling; speaking in ridiculous voices; forgetting to shave or wear pants to work; and trying like hell to overcome the guilt I feel when I say goodbye to my frazzled wife in the morning and leave her alone with our screaming (but precious) little girl.

Early on, I also found myself fighting off a peculiar fear — that she would be too much like me and not enough like her mother.

Does she favor me? I’m sort of hoping she’s got more of her mom in her…

When your still a father-to-be it’s easy to fantasize that your unborn child will have all of your best attributes and none of your worst. However, once your baby arrives and you stare into her big, beautiful eyes, you go blank on these best attributes. No matter how hard you search yourself, you find a paucity of positives (Question: Is a penchant for alliteration a positive or a negative?).

Naturally, this neurotic thinking begins to fade, as you grow comfortable with the fact that she will, for better or worse, have bits of you and bits of your wife in her, balanced by the presence of her own, unique and wonderful personality. It’s at this point that your worry shifts to the dreaded “outside influences.”

What do I mean by outside influences? Well, for instance, as a young child in the 70s, I was regularly exposed to things like this:

Horrifying, isn’t it? I often think that whatever amount of “weird” I may have within me can be traced directly to drug-influenced TV programming such as this. So, naturally, I have a healthy fear of what my daughter may be exposed to once she’s able to comprehend popular entertainment. I can only hope and pray that she never sees anything like this…

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Yep, I’m on the Pad.

Consider this post a noble experiment. It is my attempt to bring to the cutting edge of Blog-dom and leap right over it. For you see, this post was created on (drumroll)… (unnecessary additional drumroll)… an iPad 2! (Or at least I think it’s an iPad 2. When I went to the store, I didn’t actually say “I would like an iPad 2, please.” So, I suppose they could’ve sold me some employee’s used, original iPad.)

Random Aside: There are a hell of a lot of parentheses in that last paragraph. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, that’s right, I was telling you that I’m on a Pad, which is a little like saying “I’m on a horse,” but not as manly or as likely to become a meme. And, really, this entire half-ass post is nothing more than a test to see if can use this new blogging App I shelled out $2.99 for.

Thus, in closing, I present to you – apropos of nothing – the trailer for one of the finest films of the 1980s…

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Return of the Mack

In honor of my return to blogging after an extended break, I give you this 1996 masterpiece by the great-for-five-minutes Mark Morrison…

This song, which can only be described as Montell Jordan-esque, has always had a way of sticking in my head. After tracking down the lyrics, I now see why.  Poetry such as this is hard to find…

(Return of the Mack) it is
(Return of the Mack) come on
(Return of the Mack) oh my God
(You know that I’ll be back) here I am
(Return of the Mack) once again
(Return of the Mack) pump up the world
(Return of the Mack) watch my flow
(You know that I’ll be back) here I go

So I’m back up in the game
Running things to keep my swing
Letting all the people know
That I’m back to run the show
‘Cos what you did, you know, was wrong
And all the nasty things you’ve done
So, baby, listen carefully
While I sing my come-back song

So, this is it, people … I’m back to run the show. In fact, I’m running things to keep my swing, because, you know, what else would I do? I’m all about swing-keeping.

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Countdown to Christmas: Oy Joe!

The exciting-only-to-me Foodiot “Countdown to Christmas” continues with an amusing, early-80s TV spot for Hasbro’s G.I. Joe action figures. My first experience with G.I. Joe came at a very young age, when I took possession of one of my uncle’s freakishly fuzzy-haired, scar-faced G.I. Joe dolls from the late 60s/early 70s. Christmas brought me plenty of cool equipment and weapons for Chia Head Joe, but he remained a one-man fighting force without a proper enemy. If he wanted to see action, he was forced to fight the only other toys I had: Darth Vader, Godzilla, and supervillains like The Riddler. In short, Joe was way out of his league (Okay, he could take out The Riddler if he didn’t fall for his trickery, but still…).

Needless to say, I was excited when the updated G.I. Joe action figures were introduced and the line included an enemy: Cobra. Finally, I could have a full strike force of Joes (sadly, without fuzzy hair) fighting equivalent/appropriate villains in weird blue uniforms and masks! Unfortunately, my time with the new G.I. Joes was relatively short-lived, as I found myself growing out of my toy phase a year or two after their launch. Still, I enjoyed them for a few Christmases and long enough to recall the figure introduced in this TV commercial.

“I don’t know any Zartan … I’m just a innocent, bearded fetishest wandering in the jungle.”

Where do I begin with this one? How about … A villain who changes color in sunlight? Is this really an advantage if he’s still wearing clothes? I’m not impressed. Hell, even a civilian like me can change color in the sunlight, it just takes a while and I only blend in with Stop signs or JazzFest crowds. What is impressive, however, is Zartan’s vehicle. Who wouldn’t want a snowmobile/jet ski mashup that drives on rocks, flies, and is easily transformed into a heavy pile of junk you can drag around behind you?

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Countdown to Christmas: Darth’s Head Cheese

I’ve found that preparing for the arrival of a first child leads one to think deeply about a variety of subjects, from finances and career goals to personal health and home ownership.  Perhaps least important among the array of things one is moved to contemplate when becoming a parent is one’s own childhood.  

If you know me, then, you can probably guess that my childhood is the thing I’ve been thinking about the most, as it is far less stressful than the other subjects and I have some degree of expertise in it.

I’m also thinking about my childhood because I want to be prepared to be a positive influence on my daughter. Right now, I have no idea what sort of books, TV shows, comics, toys, music, and games will capture my little girl’s imagination once she’s is old enough to comprehend such things, but I surely recall the things that I loved in my youth.  And, ultimately, isn’t it going to be my duty to impose all of my interests on my offspring? Shouldn’t I get started preparing a list of things she will be required to like?

Let me answer that for you:  Of course I should!

That’s why I’m launching a very special “Countdown to Christmas” post series, featuring a forced walk down my memory lane.  This is an important project that will help both my daughter and you, the reader, better understand my dementia, so let’s get started…

All your favorite characters, trapped within the head a murderous villain!

First up is this fantastic late-70s TV commercial for Kenner’s Star Wars Darth Vader action figure collector’s case. My childhood Christmas lists were dominated by Star Wars toys, so it felt appropriate to begin with this. There are dozens of these dated TV spots to be found (some feature children actually playing outdoors – remember those days?), but I chose this one because it focuses on a carrying case and that amuses me. The marketing assumption, it seems, was that a majority of young boys at the time were extremely anal and deeply concerned with arranging and displaying their figures in just the right way.  Maybe this was true and I was just an odd duck, but my primary concern at that time was possessing every possible playset and spacecraft and attempting to cinematically blow them all up.

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