Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Monday Musings with a Drunken Monkey

It has been said that if you gave a room full of monkeys a bunch of typewriters, they would eventually write the whole works of Shakespeare. I gave a monkey a bottle of tequila and my blackberry this weekend. Let’s see how he did.

I wonder how much of a difference Purell would have made in the life of Lady MacBeth ? She seems like a natural spokesperson.

Hey Madison Avenue, I want my 10% when you steal my idea.

Was Hester Prynne actually fashion forward or was Laverne De Fazio just a clueless copycat ?

Leftover thin sliced prime rib, sharp cheddar & Gold's Horseradish Spread pressed in a loaf of fresh ciabbatta bread made for an excellent sunday night dinner. Roasted vegetables leftovers can be blended into a quick soup later today.

Saw a Goth Girl driving a black car with a bumper sticker that said "Yes Wiccan". I think she put a spell on me when I passed her because I hit 3 straight red lights after that.

Got the dirt turned & the topsoil/mulch combo spread in the swampgarden just before the heavy rains came last night. I am taking a less is more approach to my garden this year. Raspberry & blackberry bushes both show early growth, green & buds. I need to add at least one more of each along with more strawberries. The trees I took out last fall should help with the afternoon sun in this section.

I don’t think a Kahuna sized cup of coffee could have helped me this morning.

“Up In Smoke” came on the other morning while I was jogging on the Dreadmill of Doom and all I could think was like “whoa….”.

I hope the Amazon Birthday Fairy remembers to get me that one for my birthday.

The Boston Marathon must be coming up because I have seen the Little Jog Mom out running every morning since we got back from Maui. I am still writing my post about Maui just in case you were interested.

Loved the Richard Alpert episode of LOST. There is a Desmond-centric/slideways episode coming up in 2 weeks.

God invented voicemail for a reason and some people just can’t seem to grasp that concept.

Boondoggle Week seemed like a good idea when it was first planned. Now it just seems like a waste of time. I better grab a good book or two for all of my flights every which way.

James Lee Burke sure made Hackberry Holland a very difficult character to give a rat’s ass about in the first half of “Lay Down My Sword & Shield”. I had to keep reminding myself that this book was written in 1970 and not today. The character did grow on me as he started down the Dave Robicheaux path of redemption. The sequel, “Rain Gods”, just became more interesting to me now that I can see how the character has grown in the almost 40 years since his debut.

Butler, West Virginia, Michigan State & Duke – it does sound more like a pre-season holiday tournament than a Final Four but games leading up to this point have been outstanding to watch.

My New York Rangers however, have been less than outstanding to watch and it pains me to know that they have my playoff money hostage when they clearly are not going to make the playoffs.

Part 2 of a 2 part Castle tonight – too bad I missed Part 1. Hello Hulu !

And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades on this rainy Monday….swampy abides…

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Can I Kahuna Size That For You ?

During our recent trip to Maui, thanks in no small part to the efforts made by my darling swamprat daughters, who have never met a store they couldn’t shop in, we accumulated enough frequent shopper points for me to get a new travel coffee mug for my car. It’s kind of cheesy in a fun sort of way in that it has a 60’s style surfer and an old Woody on it. It’s not just big. It’s Kahuna sized. It holds 50% more than my old Iditarod mug that a friend picked up for me in Walsilla. I guess they were sold out of Sarah Palin mugs. So now I am knocking back even more of my Community Coffee w/ Chicory & CafĂ© Bustelo combo on the way to the morning train. I don’t think anyone is going to want to get into my way. It also got me thinking and as we all know, that can be a dangerous thing at times.

If I ever owned a restaurant or a diner, I would have to have something on the menu that had the word “Kahuna” in it. It could be Kahuna Ribs or a Kahuna Burrito or a Kahuna Burger or even some Kahuna Pie which would have to be a slice about 8 inches high and at least a quarter of the whole pie. I could have the servers asking patrons if they wanted to “Kahuna size” their purple molokai sweet potato fries. I could also have a “Kahuna Khallenge” and invite Adam Richman from “Man vs Food” come in to take the Kahuna Khallenge and make me a cult favorite with foodies & gluttons everywhere. I can just see it now – “Swampy’s Big Kahuna – home of the Kahuna Khallenge”.

Now Kahuna would also be a great word to be used in a coffee shop. No more of that pretentious Venti or Grande crap. The largest cup you could get would be a Kahuna. I can just hear it now. “Dude, gimme a triple skinny no foam soy Kahuna frappuccino.” I would throw them right out of the shop. Nobody needs to use that many words to ever order a cup of coffee. Triple & Kahuna would be the only extra words allowed to be said. I would even hire HUGE EMPLOYEE and dress him up like a GIANT TIKI and have him stand by the cash register so he could enforce the rule. Kahuna Kona Koffee Ko. would rule the koffee world and Starcrooks could kiss my Kahuna sized butt !!!

Okay, I think maybe someone has had a few too many kahuna sized schooners of koffee this so I am going to have to say that this the view for now from Behind The Shades…..swampy abides…

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Fox Named George

I awoke on Sunday to an absolutely beautiful spring day for the northeast. The sky was blue and the air was warm. I knew that after the warmth & rain of the last two weeks that the ground that had never really frozen hard this winter would start to be soft & pliable. I knew it was going to be a great day to start working on the 2010 version of my vegetable garden.

I have a large garden out back at the edge of my yard back by the brook. I have outsized expectations every year for my farming prowess but that discussion is for another time. Be that as it may, I was out in the garden turning the dirt by hand with my four pronged Hound Dog T-Square Garden Cultivator while listening to silence all around me. It was filled with the birds chirping, the brook babbling and the occasional Sunday driver cruising our dead end street. I could feel the breeze that was lightly moving the branches in the trees above me causing them to make a slight clicking sound. I could sense more than hear the occasional jet passing by overhead on it’s approach into the New York area. Suddenly the afternoon exploded with the sounds of our neighbor’s two dogs barking & yapping as loudly and as much as I had ever heard them. My first inclination was that they had seen a wayward squirrel or that perhaps a deer had wandered onto their side of the brook but the barking became louder & more persistent. I began to wonder if perhaps they had something cornered. The smaller of the two dogs seemed to be especially agitated. His yapping was reaching an unprecedented crescendo.

It was at that moment that a fox with a fantastic golden red coat and thick white tipped tail slipped out of the bushes on the far side of the clearing down by the brook. I knew this particular fox as I had seen him many times before as I gazed out my kitchen window with my coffee mug in hand. I called him George. He had what looked like a small rabbit in his mouth. George stopped just as he emerged from the brush and he looked at me. Then he looked back at the distant sound of the still barking dogs and then he looked back at me again. I hadn’t moved. Our eyes met for just a second before he darted across the clearing and disappeared into the tangle of overgrown brush. A minute later I caught a quick glance of George through the trees. He was on the other side of the brook and he was briskly heading for the field on the far side of the woods. The barking finally slowed and then stopped. I went back to turning the dirt and listening to the silence with a bemused smile as I thought of how George had once again given his pursuers the slip.

So I chose my fox tie today as a subliminal tip of the hat to George.

That’s the view for now from Behind The Shades….swampy abides…

Monday, March 08, 2010

Returning to a Simpler Time

My father & I were sitting around his kitchen table the other day discussing a little bit of this & a little bit of that and really nothing of any great importance. Just the kind of talk I like having with my Dad when I haven’t seen him in a while. We laughed. We joked. We remembered. My 4 ½ year old son sat there between us plowing through his red pepper slices & his bag of apple slices with a touch of lemon so they wouldn’t brown. His eyes shifted back & forth between us as he watched & listened. I hope that some day I have those same kinds of talks with him.

While we were talking, the subject of the local college basketball team came up. They were better this year than they had been in some time and while they obviously aren’t going to make the “Big Dance” there is an outside shot that they might get an invite to the NIT. They won the NIT in 1975 back when it still mattered and wasn’t the also ran hoopfest that it is today. We remembered how we had been on vacation on a tropical island at the time and that it took a couple of days to get a score for a game. Al Gore had inspired “Love Story” by then but he hadn’t yet invented the internet. Getting world or local news wasn’t as easy as a point & a click. I truly think that the waiting & the anticipation made both the victories sweeter & the defeats more painful. In some ways, you just didn’t want to know and you just didn’t need to know right then. The world wasn’t going to end or even be somewhat more dramatically different if it took a little longer to find something out.

I mention all this because I am headed out on a vacation with my own family to a tropical island. Only it’s not 1975 anymore, it’s 2010 and with that comes all of the gadgetry and need to know now technology of our modern day world. I am truly excited that I am actually going to get to watch LOST via satellite on the plane as I fly over the Pacific. (I checked, my flight number is not 815 or 316 – bummer) However when I get to our final destination I have decided (with the help of – okay threat from – my wife) to return to that simpler time. My blackberry is going into the safe in our room. It’s not going to be turned on. Work will survive without me. There are plenty of people back in the office who are completely capable of handling my job for the 9 days that I am gone. The world will not come to an end.

Tomorrow I am getting on a plane with my wife & 3 kids. I’ll check back in when I get back. I am sure we will have some stories to share about a little bit of this & a little bit of that and really nothing of great importance but they can wait. The stories may not get any better with age but you will still be able to drink them in.

And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades…swampy abides...aloha

Monday, March 01, 2010

A Conversation About What I'm Not Sure

I live in a fairly small town out in the country and like most small towns, we seem to have our share of local flavor mixed in. That’s not to say that big cities don’t have their own brand of eccentrics but they aren’t quite as endearing as the small town types. In fact, some of them are downright scary. I should know, I work in New York. But that is neither here nor there because there is nothing scary about this particular local character. The only thing he has ever been known to kill is the few free minutes you may have had as you raced about trying to get your errands done.


Now I had just come out of the drugstore with my Sunday copies of the NY Daily News & NY Post. I’ll buy them but I won’t have them delivered. Have to keep up appearances for the neighbors you know. When suddenly I heard someone call my name. I am generally not rude enough to pretend that I didn’t hear a person call my name so even though I definitely recognized the voice, I turned to say hello and there he was. Let’s just call him Peter.


“Hey Peter. How are you ? I haven’t seen you in a while.” I said with a smile that did not befit the thought in my mind that I was now going to be stuck for the next 10-20 minutes.


“I’m fine Mr. Nomo. I’m fine. You know I saw you at Shop-Rite a while back with one of your daughters but I didn’t say hello.” He said earnestly.


“You no doubt did. I am there a bit too much. You should have said hi.” I replied.


“Now Nomo, that’s an Irish name, isn’t it ?” he asked as though we hadn’t changed topics.


“No, it’s actually Welsh.” I began to wonder where this was going and how long it was going to take to get there.


“Ah, Welsh. Well you still have some Celt in you. You know I’m Irish but the spelling of my last name is English because when my ancestors came over it was better to be English than Irish so we added a W.” He began to ramble.


“I see.”


“So I’m still Irish though you would think I was English.” He smiled.


“I’m a little bit of everything myself Peter except for Italian. I let my wife handle that part for the kids.” I knew I had said too much but somehow it came out anyway.


“But you still have some Irish in you.” He beamed. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I have maybe enough Irish in me to spit. “You know I got up shaved, showered, made my coffee and got out the door today in 45 minutes.”   


“Sounds like me getting ready for the train each morning.”


He ignored my reply and continued on. “Have you ever had Bailey’s Irish Cream ? I would think a Celt like you would have had it before.”


“Yes I have Peter but not in the 20 odd years since I quit drinking.” I was starting to begin to try and piece our conversation together and I think I was beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I know I saw a couple of people come out of the drugstore, take 2 steps in our direction and then veer off across the parking lot in a circuitous manner back to their cars.


“Oh it’s really good. They now make an Irish Cream International Flavor Coffeemate that is almost as good as the real thing. I always buy it. I have some in my coffee mug in the truck right now.” He smiled again.


“Really. I haven’t tried it.” I replied.


“Well you really should. Like I said, it’s really good. They sell it in Shop-Rite all the way in the back by the milk.” He informed me.


“I’ll have to look for it. Thanks Peter.”


“No problem Mr. Nomo. You have a nice day. I’m kind of in a hurry. See you.” He said and with that, he was off walking across the parking lot back to his truck and I was left to wonder how seeing me set us off on the trip from Shop-Rite to names to Ireland to Coffee to Bailey’s to Coffeemate and back to Shop-Rite.


I have to admit that later that day when I was in Shop-Rite, I went looking for the Irish Cream Coffeemate all the way in the back by the milk but they were sold out. I guess Peter bought the last one.


And that is the view for now from Behind The Shades….swampy abides…