Grape Juice With a Kick

Tara and I met up with a friend to go wine tasting over the weekend. This was a new experience for us, and I gotta say, it made me feel like…

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I like wine, but I’m hardly a connoisseur. Hell, it took me several tries just to spell the word connoisseur. And I’m a professional writer! The whole experience is rather intimidating if you’re a wine novice like me. The person pouring the wine is talking about “oakiness” and “tannins” and “a nice finish” and I’m thinking ooh, what a pretty shade of purple. 

And then there’s the tasting menu. How are you supposed to pluck out “notes of grapefruit and lavender with a butterscotch finish”? All I taste is grape juice with a kick.

I think I was thrown off by the town itself. When we made plans to go wine tasting, I was picturing stops like this…

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Instead, we apparently wandered into that creepy town where the children of the corn resided.

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That would be Carlton, Oregon. I’d never even heard of the place before Saturday. Is it any wonder? Apparently those who wander into town never leave. Was this my payback for flirting with a nun, I wondered?

Creepy signs aside, at least the wine tasting in Carlton was convenient. The main street looked like this: wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, wine shop, cafe, wine shop, jam shop, wine shop, wine shop. We got buzzed without walking more than half a block. And then after leaving town, we did stop at the nicer-looking winery pictured above. There, we got into a heated debate that did not involve pinot noir vs. syrah, but rather, Prince vs. Michael Jackson.

OK, maybe we were really buzzed at that point.

But I loudly contended that Prince was a far better music artist than the vastly overrated Gloved One. Our friend Chris, on the other hand, thought I had lost my marbles.

“Billie Jean!” she declared.
“Purple Rain!” I countered.
“Thriller. Zombies.”
“‘Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.'”
“Your guy changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol,” she said.
“Your guy dangled a baby over a ledge and bought the Elephant Man’s bones,” I responded.

We were both rallying the people tasting wine around us to our side. Chris got some random woman to agree with her, but then her husband sided with me. I think the whole thing ended in a draw, but c’mon…

…I’ll take Prince over Michael Jackson any day.

How ’bout you?

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The Crosby Show Airs Again!

Last week, I reported on my run-in with the fake David Crosby outside the Keller Auditorium in Portland. I wondered who he was and why he enjoyed tricking people into believing he was a rock ‘n roll star, but figured that was pretty much the end of the story.

And then, while driving home from the Oregon coast on Sunday, I got a text from Audrey. My parents watched her while we celebrated our anniversary weekend, and took her to an Oktoberfest celebration in Portland. What Audrey texted caught our attention.

Your fake David Crosby is here. 

Wait. Seriously?! I didn’t really believe it was the same guy…until Audrey sent us the following photo.

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Here’s mine, from five days earlier.

10660365_10202875049578081_4602986690754332541_nLest there’s any doubt, when Audrey approached him, she showed him this pic and asked if the man in the photograph with his arm around dear ol’ dad was him. He confirmed that yes, indeed, it was.

Like father, like daughter. What are the odds?

I wish she’d called him out on his fakery, but then again, she’s only 14 and should not be provoking a strange man. Teach your children well and all that jazz, right?  I’m just dying to unravel the mystery.

A comment on that post did help to shed a little light on the situation. A man named David (I’m assuming that’s his real name, although my track record with Davids isn’t the greatest these days) was at the Crosby, Stills & Nash show last week, and had his own run-in with the un-Crosby. He wrote,

My wife (saw) him from 50 feet away when we were parking and yells “that’s David Crosby” and he waved. About 5 minutes later as we walked over all excited that he was still there I knew it was not THE David Crosby but a very close second. We talked to him for a few minutes when the REAL David Crosby came out of the back door of the Keller Auditorium 15 feet away from us and walked into his bus.
We did talk to the look-a-like for almost a 1/2 hour and watched the excitement he caused with people thinking he was the “real thing”. Very pleasant fellow that said he has been mistaken for Crosby for a very long time…several people came up to me after they seen me talking to the look-a-like and asked if it was really him and I told them politely that it was not. Some of these people did not believe me and I told them to just ask him……he was honest. Some of these people thought I was his body guard. Take a picture anyhow…….what would it hurt.

Interesting! It appears that Fake Crosby relishes the attention and doesn’t go out of his way to tell people he isn’t the real deal…but won’t continue the charade if asked point blank.

I don’t know how to feel about that. On the one hand, we’re the ones who assumed he was genuine, and you know how that equation goes: ass, u, me. On the other hand, he was signing CSNY albums.

Tsk, tsk.

Kind of Hard to Beat Brinner

Last night, we had brinner.

I don’t know about you, but there’s something especially exciting about having breakfast-for-dinner. It feels forbidden. Rebellious. Naughty, even. I couldn’t help but think to hell with convention as I bit into a sweet, chewy pumpkin waffle drizzled with maple syrup last night. By the time I speared the accompanying sausage links with my fork, I was waving my fist in the air and shouting, “Damn The Man!” Sure, Tara and Audrey looked at me peculiarly, but I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

You know what I’m talking about, Christopher Turk!

So, how about you? Do you ever indulge in brinner? Does it feel like you’re breaking the law when you do? And what’s your favorite brinner meal – Poached eggs? Oatmeal? Pancakes? A frittata?  Do share.

Will the Real David Crosby Please Stand Up?

Last night, we saw Crosby, Stills & Nash at the Keller Auditorium in Portland. Some of our Facebook friends were surprised to learn that David Crosby is not dead. Truth is, he’s alive and well. And for one blissfully ignorant half-hour, we thought we had met this rock ‘n roll legend.

We had time to kill before the concert, so we were strolling around the auditorium. A couple of tour buses were parked in back and standing next to them, just minding his own business and leaning against a railing, was a very distinct looking man who was bald on top with a shaggy mane of white hair cascading down the sides and a big, bushy mustache.

“Holy shit!” we said. “It’s David Crosby!”

We don’t generally like to bother famous people, but he was introducing himself to his fans, posing for pictures, and chatting away. So we approached and shook his hand.

“I’m a big fan!” I announced.

Tara was wearing a t-shirt from our Tom Petty concert last month. “Tom Petty,” David Crosby snorted. “He sings through his nose!”

“We’re much more excited to see your show,” Tara said, stretching the truth a little but more than happy to butter the guy up. After all, it was David freakin’ Crosby. He played Woodstock, man.

“We hate to bother you, but could we pose for a picture?” we asked.

David Crosby was happy to oblige. He put his arm around me (OMG!), smiled, and joked about how “we go way back.” It was one of the most surreal moments of my life.

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We thanked him for his time and walked away, immediately posting this picture to Facebook and Instagram. For the next thirty minutes, we could not believe our good fortune. It’s not every day you shake hands with a rock ‘n roll pioneer.

And then, Tara had to go and pull out her phone.

She clicked on a hashtag I had posted – #csny – and pulled up a whole bunch of photos of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Recent ones.

“Umm, that was not David Crosby,” she said.

“What are you talking about?!” I replied. “That was totally David Crosby.”

Only, she was right. The man we met was most definitely not David Crosby. THIS is David Crosby:

davidcrosby110613wWell, shit. In seconds I had gone from shooting the breeze with a rock ‘n roll legend to shaking hands with a weird, fat, sweaty Portland guy who put his arm around me.

Eww.

Yeah, he fooled us. The resemblance was pretty remarkable (though in looking at recent photos, not quite so much as we initially believed). At least we weren’t the only ones bamboozled by this weirdo. People were chatting him up left and right and taking pictures with the guy. One poor schmuck had him sign a CSNY record album he was toting around. Now, that would piss me off.

In retrospect, it did seem odd that David Crosby was just hanging around outside the auditorium 45 minutes before a show without a care in the world, taking the time to chat up everybody who happened to wander by.

That guy’s a real jackass, whoever he is. I’d almost rather have remained in the dark because boy, were my friends awed and impressed by this picture. For a few brief moments, I felt like a hero to them. But then Tara posted that he was in fact not the real deal, and the Crosby was out of the bag.

Oh, well. We did get to see the real David Crosby, at least. From the third row of the second balcony, but whatever. CSN put on a great show. The vocal harmonies may have diminished some from their heyday in the late 60s and 70s, but when they gelled, they were on. “Cathedral” was downright rockin’, “Guinnevere” gave me shivers, and the combination of “Helplessly Hoping” and “Our House” was executed flawlessly. Three hours had passed by the time they came out for a final encore, “Teach Your Children.” We got home really late for a work night, but it was totally worth it.

There's the real David Crosby: that tiny white-haired speck on the right.
There’s the real David Crosby: that tiny white-haired speck on the right.

 

It’s the Singer, Not the Song

Earlier this week, I was saddened to learn that Jimi Jamison had passed away.

Jimi was the lead singer of Survivor, one of my favorite bands from the 80s. When most people hear this, their reaction is, I love “Eye of the Tiger”! I love “Eye of the Tiger,” too. It’s long been my personal anthem through rough times. But Jimi did not sing “Eye of the Tiger.” He joined the band after that song was released, when Dave Bickler, their original lead singer, developed vocal polyps and was forced to quit the band.Vital+Signs

Well take a message from the man
Who’s not afraid to come on strong
When there’s magic in the music
It’s the singer not the song

Still, the Jamison-led version of Survivor found success with the release of 1984’s Vital Signs, an album that includes the hit songs “I Can’t Hold Back,” “The Search is Over,” and “High On You.” I still have the original vinyl LP I purchased that year, and consider it one of my favorite albums ever.

Whenever I listen to Vital Signs, I am transported back to a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon in the winter of 1984-85. I was fifteen, and living on Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. I don’t remember the month…probably December or January. All I know is, the sky was overcast, the wind was blowing across the prairie with a fierceness any resident of the northern plains is familiar with, and the temperature hovered around zero. I piled onto a school bus with a ragtag group of kids my age for a weekend field trip to a pristine lake in the Black Hills to try my hand at ice fishing. It sounded like a fun way to pass a few hours, but in reality, it sucked. I have never been so cold in my entire life. The wind blowing across the frozen, exposed lake made the temperature feel like -20°F. A heavy winter coat and a makeshift shelter on the ice did nothing to ward off the intense chill. I was completely miserable the whole time, and of course, we didn’t catch a damn thing. Either the fish were too smart to leave their hiding places, or frozen solid. I did learn one important lesson that day: ice fishing was not for me. I never did it again.

When it’s comin’ from the heart
All the people sing along
It’s the man behind the music
It’s the singer not the song

Thawing out back on the bus, I slipped on my headphones and pressed PLAY on my Walkman. The cassette I was listening to? Survivor’s Vital Signs. As the bus wound its way through the otherwise-lovely Black Hills, Jimi Jamison’s voice filled my head. This is the rare album where every song is good – so good, in fact, that decades later when Tara and I first started dating, I declared in a Facebook post how “I Can’t Hold Back” perfectly summed up my burgeoning feelings for her. But it’s not just the hit songs I like. “Broken Promises,” “Popular Girl,” “Everlasting Love” – all feature catchy melodies and monumental choruses. Those songs made me a Jimi Jamison fan for life.

RIP Jimi Jamison. (Courtesy of staugustine.com).
RIP Jimi Jamison. (Courtesy of staugustine.com).

Which is why his death hit me hard. Survivor had just performed a concert in Morgan Hill, CA Saturday night. Sunday, Jimi suffered a heart attack and passed away at the age of 63. By all accounts, he was a friendly and generous man who always went out of his way to please his fans, chatting with them after shows and happily signing autographs. Too many celebrities act like celebrities. Jimi, in comparison, never let the fame go to his head. He will be missed.

Survivor may never have achieved the huge mainstream success I feel they deserved, but in my eyes, they are bigger than life.

RIP, Jimi.

I’d Rather See Balki

Have you heard that Full House revival might be in the works?

Also: why?

Don’t call me a hater, but I’m really not interested in seeing Jesse & The Rippers twenty years later. And if the last thing Dave Coulier ever did publicly was stomp on Alanis Morissette’s heart (inspiring her revenge anthem “You Oughtta Know” in the process), I could live with that. I simply have no desire to revisit the Tanner clan, especially when so many other deserving sitcoms languish in the television graveyard.

If you’re going to revive anything, how about Seinfeld? Jerry and the gang never got a proper sendoff, anyway. I’d love to see what schemes Kramer would come up with a decade and a half into the 21st century. Besides, we could use some fresh new catchphrases. Think of all the great contributions Seinfeld made to the English language! Spongeworthy. Yadda yadda. “Master of my domain.” Low talkers. Close talkers. Festivus. “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.” I don’t think there’s ever been a show so consistently fresh and funny. I’d love more Jerry!

I’d also be down for a Friends revival, even if the only characters returning were Joey and Chandler. They could do a lot with 22 minutes every week. While we’re at it, let’s bring back Cheers. Or Family Ties. Or Charles In Charge.

Just kidding about that last one. Although…

Hell, even Perfect Strangers is more deserving of a second shot, in my opinion. There’s no such thing as too much Balki.

I kinda miss this guy.
I kinda miss this guy.

So, we leave this evening for Nevada. I’ve been prepping Audrey in advance by giving her some tips on how to fit in. Like, for instance, she has to call a creek a “crick” and the glove compartment is actually a “jockey box.” And scones as we know them here are nothing like the scones out there (or the scones in jolly ol’ England, either). She has spent an inordinate amount of time figuring out how swaggy to look. I had to break it to her that Nevadans don’t give much thought to swag…at least not those in the part of the state we’ll be visiting. Ahh, teenagers.

Yesterday I was packing, and realized I’ve really got it down to a science after so much traveling these past few years. At one point, I even found myself piling up clothes in the order in which they will be worn.

“Hey, Audrey!” I called. “Do you pack your clothes in order?”

“Are you kidding?” she responded. “I’ve got two pages of notes with detailed information on what I will be wearing, and when.”

I didn’t believe her, but…

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She even listed items that were currently in the washing machine as she was compiling her notes. And she’s got outfits broken down by day and night. I’m beginning to think my daughter might be a little bit OCD.

Tonight, we’ll hit Baker City, Oregon. And then tomorrow it’s on to Ely.

Bon voyage!

Get Crazy With the Cheez Whiz

This crazy, busy summer continues to speed right along.

It’s hard to believe we will be in Nevada this week. We’re driving to Ely to visit family and friends. And bringing along Audrey, who is in for a serious case of culture shock because she has never experienced small town life before. We’re leaving Wednesday after work, driving to Baker City, Oregon for the night, and then staying three days in Ely and another in Elko before returning home on Monday.

In case any burglars out there are thinking of taking advantage of the public fact that we’ll be out of town, I need to warn you that we’ve got a very large and very hungry animal guarding the place in our absence.

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Her bite is worse than her bark, so don’t go gettin’ any bright ideas, okay?

Also right around the corner: Audrey begins high school next week! Where did August go? For that matter, where did May, June, and July go? For that matter, where did her entire freakin’ childhood go?!?!

When August rolled around, I mentioned it was going to be a very busy month. It has definitely lived up to its billing! Last week, we got to see Beck in concert at McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater in Troutdale. This outdoor venue east of Portland is gorgeous, and the weather was perfect that evening. We had a great time; the self-described Loser put on one hell of a show, with a set that nicely represented his two decades of music. Can you believe Beck has been putting out records for 20 years now? I’m really digging his new album, by the way. I like mellow, introspective Beck more than “get crazy with the Cheez Whiz” Beck. The highlight was probably his duet with opening act Jenny Lewis, a cover of Rod Stewart’s cheesy disco classic “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy.” Pretty much everybody was swaying or singing along to that little ditty.

Great venue for a summer evening concert! (Courtesy of edgefieldconcerts.com)
Great venue for a summer evening concert! (Courtesy of edgefieldconcerts.com)

The evening before, our Sacramento newlywed friends, Heidi and Ross, dropped by for a visit. I suppose the 580 miles between us means it wasn’t “dropping by” so much as making a planned trip north and coming over while in town, but still, we appreciated seeing them again. Tara made a fantastic dinner (roast pork loin and homemade mac ‘n cheese) and we spent hours catching up over wine. Our mutual friend Chris was there, as well. Everybody seemed to really like our new apartment, which was nice to hear.

Speaking of, I was out running errands yesterday and found myself in the vicinity of my old townhouse, so I made a detour through the complex and drove by the place. I don’t know what I was expecting to feel, but it ended up being surprisingly little. It felt familiar, I suppose, but no longer home. It makes me realize how quickly we adapt to change.

Beck. (Courtesy of the LA Times).
Beck. (Courtesy of the LA Times).

A similar thing happened years ago. In February 2007, I had ordered some CDs from Amazon (shows you how dated this story is!) and realized when I got the shipping confirmation that they were going to my old address – the house my ex and I had sold five months earlier while going through a divorce. So I drove over there one afternoon and knocked on the door. That was strange enough. When the new owner answered and invited me inside, that really felt odd. It was like stepping through a time portal and being spit out into the past. Except for the shiny stainless steel refrigerator in the kitchen and the scent of Vietnamese food permeating the air, the place was remarkably the same as when I had left it. Same ugly green carpeting, same Pergo flooring, same wooden pocket doors. And yet, it felt like a lifetime had passed since I had last set foot in there. In some regards, it felt like I had never actually lived there. I blogged about the experience, and wrote,

 It felt weird inside there, and natural, at the same time. As if both sentiments could coexist. The house didn’t make me feel happy or sad, but rather ambivalent. There’s a phrase about a house not being a home, and even though it feels like a bad cliche, it’s true. Did I have happy memories there? Of course I did. And last year, I had many sad memories, as well. I guess perhaps those conflicting emotions cancel one another out. I thanked him for allowing me inside…got back into my car and drove home. To my real home this time.

In many ways, the same sentiment holds true today. Even if I had been invited inside my old townhouse yesterday – and I should point out the same amount of time has passed since we moved out, 5 months – I would feel like it is no longer home.

By the way, the current occupant, according to my former neighbors, is a strange and paranoid man who has turned one of the kids’ bedrooms into “a gun room” and the other is devoted to video games. He takes the battery out of his cell phone every night because he believes the government is spying on him. And, he’s deciding which breed of large and vicious dog to acquire as a pet.

Yeah, the neighbors miss us…

Three Degrees of Kevin Bacon

I was driving in the car yesterday, and a Kenny Loggins song came on. I started singing along because sometimes you gotta cut loose. It was actually Kenny’s duet with Stevie Nicks, “Whenever I Call You Friend.”In that moment, I had a sudden epiphany. You know that Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, in which most people can be linked to the famous Hollywood actor via six or fewer acquaintances? I can actually get there in three! Because I work with Kenny Loggins’ nephew.

It’s true. Kenny Loggins is the uncle of Bruce, one of my company’s marketing coordinators. He is so nonchalant about it, too. “Yeah, we got together for a barbecue at Uncle Kevin’s house last July. He made great ribs.”

He made great ribs?! That’s fine and dandy, but I want to know other things. Like, when he bought the meat, did he take the back roads or the highway to the Danger Zone? Did he get to meet the fake gopher in Caddyshack? And did Jim Messina contribute potato salad?

So, my 3 links to Kevin Bacon:

  1. I work with Bruce.
  2. Bruce’s uncle is Kenny Loggins.
  3. Kenny Loggins recorded the title song for the movie Footloose starring Kevin Bacon.

Whoa.

And then, I got really excited because I’ve always liked Stevie Nicks and I couldn’t help but wonder if Bruce knows her. Think about it. Kenny Loggins recorded the above-mentioned song with Stevie, so conceivably they might still pal around. Hell, maybe she was there at that bbq last summer, twirling around in her white flowing gown while scarfing down deviled eggs.

I so want to sit down at a picnic table next to Stevie Nicks and chat about music while eating deviled eggs. I’d tell her how much I love songs like “Rihannon” and “Edge of Seventeen,” but I’d have to playfully chastise her because thunder does not only happen when it’s raining. Minor quibble.

Because of good ol’ Uncle Kenny, I also realized there are only 4 degrees of separation between me and Tom Petty. I work with Bruce > Bruce’s uncle is Kenny Loggins > Kenny Loggins recorded a duet with Stevie Nicks > Stevie Nicks recorded several songs with Tom Petty.

Holy shit. I could be the next Heartbreaker! If Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers ever add a tambourine section, that is. Too bad I couldn’t have parlayed this close association into backstage passes for the Tom Petty concert we attended Tuesday evening.

If only I’d heard that Kenny Loggins song a couple of days earlier…

It’s pretty cool that I work with somebody who has a famous relative. Bruce isn’t the only person in the office with an interesting story. One guy played football in college, was drafted by the New England Patriots, landed an acting role on the recently-cancelled television show Leverage, and – in his spare time – is a fire dancer. Another one plays in a rock ‘n roll cover band (we’re actually going to check him out tonight). One woman raises chickens and quail and sells their eggs at a farmer’s market on weekends; another is married to a news anchor for the local CBS affiliate. What’s that famous line? There are eight million stories in the naked city? I can believe it, considering there are four or five good ones in this office alone.

So, how many degrees of separation lie between you and Kevin Bacon? Is Stevie Nicks really a witch? Do you work with anybody interesting? Isn’t this the catchiest song ever?!

She’s a Good Girl, Crazy ‘Bout Elvis

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And, I can cross another name off my rock ‘n roll bucket list.

When Tara moved here in 2012 and we started going to concerts, I named three classic rock artists I wanted to see before I died: Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. All were long-time favorites of mine, and their music entertained and inspired me.

In the span of a little over two years, I have now seen them all.

That, in itself, is kind of remarkable given that all three performers are well into their 60s. After all, time is finite. How long can they keep on rockin’? Bruce looked like he could easily last another decade. Then again, he is The Boss. Bob remained seated through much of the show, but that didn’t stop him from plowing through his hits with gusto. Tom was definitely more spry. From the opening chords of “So You Want To Be a Rock ‘n Roll Star” through hits like “Into The Great Wide Open,” “Refugee,” “Free Fallin’,” “Learning to Fly” and “You Wreck Me,” he brought it. The new material was pretty catchy, too. By the time he walked off the stage two hours later after the final encore – a spirited rendition of “American Girl” complete with red, white and blue stage lighting to hammer home the point – he had rekindled a rock ‘n roll love affair with the crowd. What a show! And let’s not forget The Heartbreakers, who brought great energy to back him up. Tom is humble, engaging and funny…and one hell of a story teller. It was definitely one of the better shows we have seen. And the timing was perfect: his new album, “Hypnotic Eye,” is #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 chart – and is the first #1 album of his career.

What’s cool is, the opening act wasn’t too shabby, either. Steve Winwood delivered a great set that included solo material (“Higher Love”) in addition to lots of classics from Traffic (“Dear Mr. Fantasy”), Blind Faith (“Can’t Find My Way Home”) and the Spencer Davis Group (“Gimme Some Lovin'”). After he finished, I turned to Tara and said if we left right then and there, we’d have gotten our money’s worth. It felt like we got two concerts in one.

Afterwards, we stepped out into a gentle rain as we waited for the light rail train to whisk us back to our park ‘n ride lot in north Portland. It was nice to avoid the hassle (and cost) of arena parking. Note to self: next time we see a show at the Rose Garden Moda Center, take light rail. We didn’t get home until after midnight, and had to get up early for work this morning, but it was totally worth the sacrifice!

Afterwards, we learned that my friend and business associate Erik had been at the show. We found this out through pictures he posted on Facebook. Here was Erik’s view of TP&TH:

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And here was our view:

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If that isn’t front row, it’s at least within spitting distance! Can’t say I’m really surprised. This is the guy who once had me over to his mansion on a hill for dinner and beverages. Great guy, that Erik, but I’ve got one thing to say to him:

Help a brother out next time.

So, who’s on your rock ‘n roll bucket list?

The Afterlife is Like Syndication

When did pizza places become synonymous with chicken wings? It used to be you’d call up your friendly neighborhood pizza joint (even picking up the telephone seems antiquated now) and order a pie. They might offer you breadsticks or a liter of Coke. If they were fancy, perhaps a salad. But now, everybody’s got chicken wings, too. I really don’t understand the logic behind this.

First off, pizza is Italian. And chicken wings are not. They originated in Buffalo, New York – about as far from Naples as you can get. And yet, every Tom, Dick, and Harry who sells pizza also sells chicken wings. We ordered from Domino’s last week, and couldn’t even get to the checkout screen without being bombarded by an ad for chicken. Yes, I’m QUITE SURE I don’t want to add it to my order, thank you very much. And Domino’s has taken things a step further; in addition to wings, they’ve got “specialty chicken bites” which are nothing more than gussied-up McNuggets coated in sauce and cheese.

How does this make sense?
How does this make sense?

If I’m ordering something coated in sauce and cheese from a pizza place, it’s going to be pizza.

This would be the equivalent of serving Pad Thai with pretzels. Or sushi with french fries. Or tacos with tater tots.

Only, that last one really happens. “Mexi-fries,” anyone?

Speaking of food, this weekend there are three big food-related events happening around town: The Bite of Oregon, the Clark County Fair, and the Alberta Street Fair. I’m a little annoyed that these aren’t spaced out better. We have 13 weeks of summer, and all three occur during the same weekend. It’s not even a matter of logistics so much as money. Who can afford all three? So we’ll pick one, and it’ll be The Bite because The Bite rocks. Besides, my bevy of belly-dancers is once again absent from the Alberta Street Fair, so really, what’s the point?

R.I.P.

Audrey has fallen into quite a routine this summer. First off, she’s been taking tennis lessons, and has gotten pretty good. But those don’t start until 2 PM, so to kill time before then, she’s been watching old television series on DVD. I usually come home for lunch, so I’m able to catch an episode or two before heading back to work.

First up was The Office. Watching the escapades of Michael Scott, Dwight Schrute, and Jam (Jim and Pam – right?) in their prime made me realize just how freakin’ good that show was. Week after week, for many seasons, it delivered big laughs without fail and was one of my all-time favorite comedies. I miss seeing the gang from Dunder Mifflin.

Eventually she ran out of new old episodes, so I suggested she check out Scrubs next. She was too young to appreciate the show when it originally aired, but oh how loved it. Zach Braff’s sitcom was side-splittingly funny, and the fantasy sequences that were a staple of the show were cleverly unique. Like The Office it grew stale the longer it dragged on, but in its prime there was nothing funnier on the air than Scrubs. 

18ixrp49kpnkvjpgSeeing these old favorites again, I had a revelation that a cancelled TV show is like a dead friend or relative. You mourn the loss of both and grieve their passing. These are people you saw on a regular basis. You invited them into your home, and shared in their laughter. And then suddenly they’re gone, never to appear again. Except in reruns, of course, which led to another thought:

The afterlife is kinda like syndication.

I’d expound on that thought further, but the preseason is about to begin and I’m ready for some football. Go, Broncos!

 

Catch Me If You Can

Ill_CatchMe

Have you ever seen the movie Catch Me If You Can? It stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, a real-life con man who successfully posed as a pilot, a doctor, and an attorney in the 1960s before being captured by the FBI. It’s a great film, and an amazing story. I’d always wondered how somebody could be slick enough to get away with so many elaborate ruses.

Over the weekend, I found out when I stepped into Frank Abagnale’s shoes.

Tara is a social butterfly, and wanted to go to a local meet-up for an opportunity to connect with new people and maybe make a few friends. I’m all about supporting my spouse even if it’s not something I’m personally interested in, so I went along with her.

From the moment we stepped into the room, I felt uncomfortable. For starters, we were all seated at a long table in the private room of a nearby German restaurant. Not a big deal, but everybody in the group around us was at least 70 years old. We were easily the youngest couple there, until another younger couple sat down next to us. And there was no organized topic of conversation; we were simply asked to slap on name tags and talk with the people around us. I found the idea excruciating, but decided if I was going to be stuck there for another hour and a half, I might as well have a little fun.

“Whatever happens,” I whispered to Tara, “Just play along with me.”

When the woman across from me asked what I did for a living, without missing a beat I replied, “I’m an audiologist.”

And with that, I spent the next 90 minutes playing doctor.

Now, I’m not generally the lying type. If anything, I am honest to a fault. Because every time I fib a little, it seems to backfire on me. I just figured I was never going to see these people again, and was in the mood for a little storytelling. I honestly did not plan on pretending to be a doctor until I opened my mouth, and those words came spilling out. Fortunately, I work with audiologists on a daily basis, and develop content for ENT clinics every single day. If there’s one thing I know, it’s hearing. My friends have even come to me for medical advice, so it made perfect sense.

If Leo (Frank Abagnale) can get away with it, why can't I?
If Leo (Frank Abagnale) can get away with it, I bet I can, too!

When the lady across from me said, “Perfect! I’m a high school music director and could use your advice,” my stomach sank for a brief moment. I could have come clean right then and there; after all, my little white lie was still hanging in the air, only thirty seconds old. But I decided to soldier on, curious to see whether I could actually bullshit my way through this.

I have to say, I pulled it off pretty admirably. She asked for advice on preserving her hearing, and I suggested custom high-fidelity musician’s earplugs that provide balanced sound reduction without affecting mid and high frequencies. This reduces loud noises while allowing speech to come through clearly. She then wondered if her two-month old baby would benefit from hearing protection if she were to bring her to a high school football game. I told her earplugs were a must for an infant’s sensitive hearing, and suggested she prevent them from falling out of her baby’s ears by wrapping a scarf around her head to ensure they stayed in place. This is a real solution I picked up during research for articles I have written. Suddenly I felt giddy. Here I was, helping somebody by dispensing medical advice! No wonder many doctors infamously have a God complex.

“How did you decide to become an audiologist?” somebody asked.

I got a real pensive look on my face, cocked my head to the side, and replied, “Well, even from a young age I knew I always wanted to help people…”

I got so wrapped up in my fake story, I was even starting to fool myself. When I got a text from Audrey, I wondered out loud if it was my message service paging me with an after-hours emergency.

Tara has a hard time keeping a straight face in situations like these, but did a pretty good job playing along. She has difficulty fibbing herself, so when the woman next to her, whom she was engaged in deep conversation with, asked what I did for a living, she tapped me on the shoulder and said, “What do you do, dear?”

“I’m an audiologist,” I replied, the words flowing smoothly now.

“A what?”she asked, and then laughed.

“Ha-ha,” I said, recognizing immediately the little hard-of-hearing joke. “I’ve never heard that before!”

Cue laughter from the rest of the table.

I have to admit, I had a surprisingly good time once I got wrapped up in my fake life. So much so that I was almost disappointed when the meet-up came to an end. No harm, no foul…right?

Of course, with my luck, we’re liable to be shopping for groceries one of these days and have somebody recognize me. “Excuse me, Dr. Petruska,” they’ll say. “I need to schedule a hearing exam.”

At which point I’ll say, “I’m sorry, but I’m no longer an audiologist. I decided to become a pilot instead.”

Frank Abagnale, you’re a bad influence…