Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Carmen chameleon

One of the big memes out in interwebland is the stunning pictures of 37-year-old Carmen Electra sans cosmetic augmentation.

The no-makeup pictures are a bit of a career risk in this time of chemical and surgical enhancement (not that Electra has much of a career to risk at this point). But the images show that for a select few at the top of the genetic bell curve, au naturale can be better than the plastic Hollywood version.

Sure studio lighting can do wonders and the image is no-doubt somewhat digitally enhanced. Still, Electra's courageous (and Q-score boosting) move has inspired me.

Many of you who have met me in person have only met the me wearing liberally applied cosmetics. Yes, I know it's still considered kind of weird for dudes to wear makeup, but it's a skill I learned back in my days on TV and I've just never given it up.

Until now.

Here's a picture someone snapped of me at the Drunken Barn Dance a few years ago. Obviously, I didn't "put on my face" that night.

Sure, I'm no Carmen Electra, but still I encourage you all to "come out" and show us the real you.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Friday, September 25, 2009

A pink carnation and a pickup truck

I'm going to my high school class reunion this weekend, (yes, there was a time when I had class). To mark the occasion I thought I'd take a little stroll down Amnesia Lane and pull this story out of the dusty archives of my past life for your entertainment.

It was the spring of 1989, a completely different time in America. We were euphoric as the Berlin Wall was torn down and democracy erupted and was then crushed in Tienanmen Square.

Gasoline still cost less than a dollar a gallon despite Capt. Hazelwood dumping a bajillion gallons of crude oil into Alaska's Prince William Sound. TV audiences were introduced to a comical animated family known as The Simpsons, and Milli Vanilli had lip-synced their way into our hearts with with Girl You Know It's True.

In Smallville, Kansas, that clear spring evening, we had just finished the formal dinner portion of our prom. Dressed to the nines in tuxes and gowns, we were making our way across town to the sock up in the school gymnasium. But first, nearly every kid in school hopped into a car for the traditional main street cruise.

I'd borrowed dad's car for the evening. My date, Samantha, was riding shotgun and our friend Andie was in the back seat. We were full of smiles and laughter and youth as we cruised the streets jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. Windows down, radio blasting, waiving and yelling at friends in passing cars as the cool spring air blew through our hair. There was only the now.

We'd completed a circuit of the Main Street cruise and pulled into the convenience store parking lot to do a U-turn and another lap.

The next few seconds were strange, because they seemed to happen in slow-motion and at hyper speed at the same time. I had been waiting for an opening in the heavy traffic to make the right-hand turn back onto Main. When I saw the opening I quickly accelerated into the street. At the same time some unknown traffic obstruction down the street caused a sudden domino affect of seven or eight cars breaking in quick succession.

The result was that the car in front of me hit the breaks just as I hit the accelerator. The result of that was severe front end damage to my dad's car -- so severe that it was undrivable.

So prom night, dressed up, cruising main, smashed up car -- my life had become a John Hughes movie.

It took an hour or so to get everything taken care of, make sure nobody's hurt, clear the street, call my parents, try to explain -- eventually I made my way with my best friend (shout out WT!) to the prom dance. I don't really remember much from the dance, except for the drama between Andie and Blane (it was good to see Blane stand up to his snobby friends, but sheesh, Andie has to make everything about her).

The PTA sponsored an after-prom party (strictly non-alcoholic, thank you very much) which I went to since I was now hitching a ride with my friend Cameron Frye and his date. It was a good enough time, snacks, dancing, movies and stuff.

But what sticks out are the door prizes. Every 20 minutes or so they would have a drawing for a door prize, a gift card for local restaurants for example -- one of my friend even won one of those cool newfangled Compact Disc players.

Well in a final ironic kick in the metaphorical crotch, my number was called for one of the door prizes. What did I win? I'm glad you asked.

It was a gift card for $50 worth of gas a the local convenience store.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 24, 2009


It was a minor special occasion in the 3AM household yesterday, so we decided to pop open a special bottle of the special wine we've been keeping in our wine cabinet.

(We have a wine cabinet because we're neither hoity nor toity enough to have a wine cellar. Although, to be fair, our wine cabinet is in the basement...)

The wine wasn't expensive and it wasn't really exotic. Not a vintage that you would find on a list of the World's Most Famous Wines.

What made it special was that we bought the bottle of Avignonesi Bianco during our tour of Italy way back in 2001. It was our last big trip as DINKs. The last time my wife and I threw in with our "gang" our hang-out friends, cashed in our frequent flyer points and took off to show the bella vita in Tuscany.

And what a great trip it was. From arriving in Paris, the overnight to the Ligurian Coast, then two and a half weeks soaking up all of the art, culture and fermented Tuscan grape juice we could stand.

One of the biggest highlights of the trip was a totally spontaneous and unplanned trip to the Avignonesi winery. We just dropped in, unannounced, and were treated to lunch and a tour by the manager and daughter and of one of the owners. we left a couple of hours later with a couple of cases of wine.

One of the last bottles of which we opened last night.

The Bianco di Toscana is what the Tuscans would call a table wine. A blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, it's meant to be enjoyed immediately. As I pulled the cork, I was concerned that we had waited too long to drink it. It's been nearly 10 years since it was bottled, after all.

But it held up from the first sip. The color was more golden that I had remembered and the flavor was excellent, pears and some apricot. A buttery flavor emerged after 15 minutes or so. The it paired will with the tilapia fillets we had for dinner, and even better with the Honeycrisp apples we had on the side (though it was absolutely retched with the Chocolate Teddy Grahams we had for dessert).

Anyway, the point is it was a great eventing with the family, made even more special by reliving good times.

I still recommend any of Avignonesi's offerings. Though I don't think they make the Bianco anymore, if you can find their Rosso and especially their Vino Nobile go ahead and pick up a couple of bottles. You could do a lot worse.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Shadow of the Feathered Serpent

Today, the feathered serpent god Kukulkan makes his twice yearly appearance at the pyramid in Chichen Itza, Mexico.

As the sun rises and sets, shadows cast by the precisely designed and aligned pyramid cast shadows that slither down the steps of the pyramid to meet up with the head of the serpent god at the base, signifying continued fertility and prosperity for the people of the Yucatan plain.

Happy Equinox everyone!

tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, September 21, 2009

What the healthcare

These days, opinions about healthcare in America are a lot like genital warts. Everybody's got one, and they're all ugly.

While I've pretty much stayed clear of the public debate, we've had some discussions on the subject in the emawkc household, including one heated argument where my Supermodel Wife's Supermodel Sister pulled a switchblade and threatened to perform a DIY tracheotomy.

I've watched some of the president's remarks in press conferences and talking heads shows. I tried to sit through the infamous address to congress, but I get too impatient with all of the standing ovations (when will politicians realize that if every ovation is a standing ovation, then standing ovations have no meaning).

So, yeah. I'm about as frustrated as anybody on this. There's plenty to be frustrated about.

After I gave up on Congress' Standing Ovation to the President, I decided to just go get the propaganda straight from the horse's website. So I hit up www.whitehouse.gov to see what the president's plan entails.

The answer? There is no plan.

Like pretty much all of Obama's campaign proposals, what he considers a plan is merely a list of goals. A set of preferred outcomes.

There's no actual plan. This is your plan? This? Hell, Wile E. Coyote had better plans for how to catch the Road Runner!

Anyway, it's all beside the point because 95 percent of the national discussion about healthcare has been about how we can get everybody covered by insurance. So right there we've already gone off track.

Insurance coverage isn't the root problem in healthcare. Yes, it is a problem. But it's not the problem that needs to be solved.

The problem we need to solve is prices.

The president has given passing attention to the problem of prices, but it's always been in the context of "eventually bringing down the price of healthcare" -- like it's a long-term goal that will happen someday if we let the government take care of everything.

In my view, it's the one thing that we can do something about relatively quickly that will have an impact. When you get a medical bill that charges $90 bucks for a 70-cent IV, or $129 for a mucous recovery system (that is, a box of Kleenex) you know it's bullshit.

These unreasonable and unrealistic prices are why people need insurance in the first place.

Look, an MRI doesn't cost $5,000. Hell, it doesn't even cost $400. In Japan, you can get an MRI for about a hundred bucks.

So fix the issue of prices, make them more in line with costs, and you eliminate a big chunk of the need for insurance because most people will be able to pay most of their bills without help from the government.

Yeah, we won't need the government to take our money from us in order to take care of us...

... which means less for the government to do, which means less control of the citizenry at large which is why this entire post has been a complete waste.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Random Photo XVII: wedding light

One thing I learned over the weekend while attending a Laotian-American wedding is that weddings are pretty much universally boring when you're not the one getting married.

The other thing I learned is that I really like Laotian food (probably more accurately Laotian-American food). I don't know what I was eating, but it was de-freakin-licious!

tagged: , , , ,

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Blogthing: eco chamber

Because I'm such an active and concerned environmentalist, I periodically take some time to assess my ecological footprint. And while I'm the first to admit that my lifestyle has a lot of room for improvement, I have to say my footprint has been reduced significantly since I stopped flushing the toilet and showering regularly.

It's clear that unless we find four or five more Earths out there somewhere, we're all going to have to start making some sacrifices.
Ecological Footprint Quiz by Redefining Progress

tagged: , , , , , ,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Random Photo XVI: You say tomato, I say it's about freakin' time

Way back in the days of yore, about the end of April, I invested twenty bucks in some potting soil and a couple of those TopsyTurvy upside-down tomato planters.

It was springtime. My mind was full of dreams of July when I would be picking fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes and eating them right off the plant while they were still warm from the heat of the summer sun.

But then a few storms hit. My tomato plants were pummeled with rain, the new vines broken. Sure, they recovered. Tomatoes are hearty plants. But the combination of spring abuse and a relatively cool, cloudy and wet summer meant that it wasn't until late September that I would be able to enjoy the upside down fruits of my labor.

But they are still delicious.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We only roast the ones we love

Today is a big, big day in our little corner of the blogiverse. It's a day we honor one of our own. One Mr. Xavier Onassis is coming face-to-face yet again with another year of his seemingly eternal misery.

Although we know today is his birthday (he's told us as much) nobody knows for sure how old XO actually is. We sent a DNA sample away for carbon dating (kudos to Keith for obtaining the sample, that couldn't have been pleasant) and the result pegged his birth to sometime in the late Triassic.

But today we come not to praise XO, but to bury him. A few of his best online friends have come together to present this bloggy birthday present.

Happy B-Day XO! Here's your Virtual Birthday Roast!!

May your birthday find you and your loved ones happy and healthy or at least all quarantined together

You know how this works. We all submitted a few short remembrances of our favorite stories about XO. For example, there's the time when a slightly less geezery Xavier Onassis yelled at Moses to "Get off my lawn, ya' damn kids!"

In fact, Xavier Onassis is so old, he calls Walt Bodine "sonny."

Anyway, I don't want to hog the stage. Let me surrender the dais to some other people who have contributed their thoughts. Just remember, it's all done out of respect.

We kid, because we love.

"XO is still trying to figure out how to tweet with his abacus!"
-- Logtar

XO amazes me! Have you seen his balls? They're spiked. Really! I've seen photos. I bet they clang when he walks."
-- Spyder

"Legend in Ireland has it that Xavier Onassis was the model for all the Old World carved phallic stones, but he left for the New World when the Christians came and started carving crosses on every phallus they saw"
Absolutely Feisty says...
XO... Okay... I LUMI XO too much to ever provide you with an insult... but I will say this... XO IS the best friend I have ever had in my life. I am a better person for having met him. I consider myself a lucky person to know him. I tried all day to find an insult.. and as much as I do insult him in person... regularly =) Today, I am short of those words. I appreciate every fiber in his being.

okay... wait. lol I can't be the only one who doesn't have an insult... lol how about this...

XO is SO old... the only gift he could think to ask for was a video of Woodstock, as if those were the BEST days ever, and I'm not even sure in what city Woodstock was held... maybe my mom knows?"
Muddy Mo says ...
XO's idea of an exciting night is to sit and watch his leg fall asleep.

I was so impressed when I first met XO. He seemed so life-like.

XO is so old, his favorite porn download is "Debby Does Dialysis".

When XO dreams, everyone has @ symbols where faces should be.

People don’t invite XO out anymore — they go without him and livetweet him about it.
Shane says...
Eve's original sin: She was XO's first wife.

XO's an atheist. As a Christian, I'd have a problem with that but then again, he's old enough that he was around for the Creation, so he would know..."
from Meesha...
Nightmare says...
XO was asked once "Boxers or Briefs?" he responded "Depends"

XO is so old that when he takes a walk in the park Trees salute him.

XO is an avid left wing anti Gun nut or as we like to call him.......Bait

Saying XO is a leftist liberal wing nut, not only is unfair to Wing nuts, but also means he is wrong.

XO is so cranky his hair died outta spite.

XO has a collection of Playboys dating back to when they were known as cave paintings.

XO was brought to the Florida Hospital ER with a fractured hip. The ER doctor knew that surgery would be in order for the patient

“Have you ever undergone surgery?” he asked.

“Yes,” XO said.

“Remember what type of surgery was it?”

“I’m not sure,” XO said. “It was a long time ago.”

The physician noticed a scar on the right side of XO’s abdomen. He pointed to the scar. “Is this where you had the surgery?” he asked.

“No,” said XO. “It was in Brooklyn.”
Cara says...
I'm not saying XO is old, but damn has he had his share of wives. When his first wife used to say, "get out the plastic" he'd get out a condom. When his second wife said, "get out the plastic" he'd get out his credit card. Now when a woman says "get out the plastic" he gets out his bed sheets.
from Doc...
It is said that one of the most unexpected things that happens to a man is old age. perhaps that's just a perspective thing: reading X.O. you just know he was old loooooong ago, perhaps as long as 20 years ago...when he was 40.

from what Spyder says, X.O.'s aging with a vengeance: first he just forgot the occasional name; next it was faces, followed closely by asses. Then, so Spyder swears, he started forgetting to pull up his zipper. Now he has now forgotten to pull it down...

Orwell once said that at 50 every man has the face he deserves. if that is the case, X.O must be ashamed of his. why else would he post an image of himself on his blog from 30 years ago?

but enough with the insults, a piece or two of advice, X.O. i barely remember when I turned 54. it is nowhere as bad as I had thought . sure, all of a sudden i had many, many little lit rooms inside my head, and people in them, acting out various conversations, plays and memories. that was the fun part. and, eventually, i got used to the fact that i knew all these people, but just couldn't quite put names to them. you'll adapt also. after all, as bush was heard to mumble between misunderestimating children books to himself, "Old age is no place for sissies."

Many happy returns on the day...as far as you know.
from Nuke718...

No wonder why XO is single, I have seen no picture of him with women but I HAVE seen a picture of him with The Batmobile.

I'd pick on XO's age, but with that many digits it is too easy a target.

If we all pooled our nickles and dimes we could buy XO a dream present for his birthday, a trip to space. One way. I didn't say it was HIS dream present.
from Midtown Miscreant...

When emaw asked me to take part in this Eulogy, I jumped at the chance to say a few words over XO....What's that? He's not dead? Shit, and here I thought I wouldn't have to suffer through another, "Why conservatives suck" posts.

What can you say about a guy who is over a half a century old, who once drove an Ice Cream Truck, plays with swords, heh, and has been known to wear tights and a cape? I've checked the sex offender registry, so I can say "he's clean", at least in Missouri.

All kidding aside, Xo is a generous guy. I met him for lunch a couple of times. He left the waitress 50 cents and a jesus fish with the head bitten off.

And don't even get me started about XO and his Obama love fest. If XO was any more infatuated with the President, the Secret Service would have him under surveillance.

And lonely! Jaysus christ, this is one lonely fucker. Ladies, hookers, short balding men, send him an email. If I have to suffer through another of his Dating Website posts, I'll remove my eyes with a spoon. At one point he thought he had made a love connection. Her name was Lena. She had a wooden leg with a kickstand on it, a Star Wars Millennium Falcon tattoed on her ass, and was a card carrying member of the World Socialist Party. Then he found out she was also packin a light saber. XO don't play that, at least not since that drunken transgender drum circle back in the 70's.

I kid. Happy Birthday XO. Here's hoping you get everything you have coming to you, even if it means more taxes for the rest of us.
from Chris Packham...
I want to descend into old age gracefully, or at the very least not with a wet, farty splat on the pavement accompanied by a clattering spill of loose dentures and insulin injection paraphernalia. So I've been looking around for old-guy role models other than Colonel Sanders (I cannot tie a string tie) or computer-generated Orville Redenbacher (I cannot tie a bow tie). So when my grandchildren ask me why I'm wearing a Kangol hat with my Star Fleet dress uniform and my replica of Legolas' sword, the answer will pretty much be that George Clooney set way too high of an Old Guy standard and I had to lower my sights. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, X! --
from Erin...
XO is so old that the first time I met him he told me he would send me an Internet to tell me where his tube was in the series.

XO is so old he thought Tumblr was a dryer setting and Twitter was a part of the female anatomy.

XO is so old that back in his day kids didn't have computers, they just drew on the walls in their caves.

XO is so old that when AOL told him he had mail, he went outside to check.
So there you go, XO. We all did our best to make your birthday a memorable one. Sure, maybe you didn't get the Samurai sword or the Bugatti, but maybe next year.

At this time I would invite anyone else to say a few words of encouragement/condolence in the comments.

Happy birthday to someone I hope doesn't hog all the swine flu vaccine

tagged: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Serves me right

This isn't really apropos of anything. Just that I had the iPod on shuffle this morning as I was getting ready for work and John Lee Hooker came on.

Ahhh. Just the right stuff.

tagged: , , , , ,

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Blogthing: Edumacated

This quiz seems somehow apropos, what with all the blather and bluster about the supposed millions of parents supposedly keeping their supposed kids out of school earlier this week.

When a simian like me is scoring above 90 percent of the population, my friends we have trouble, right here in River City.

I suspect the latest brouhaha was severely overblown, and that the number of children absent from school was probably about the same as any other day when the president wasn't giving a speech. But let's face it, when nearly half of the participants can't even score 50% on this test, well we've got bigger problems than people not listening to presidential speeches.

tagged: , , , , ,

Friday, September 04, 2009

Frankly, my dear, you're an a-hole

Like a lot of people I gave an internal smile of satisfaction when I saw the video a couple of weeks ago of Sen. Barney Frank chastising a woman at a healthcare town hall meeting.

Like a lot of people who lack the topical knowledge or just plain smarts to make a good argument, the young woman in the video resorted to likening President Obama to Adolph Hitler. It's pretty well accepted that once you bring up Hitler or Nazis, you've pretty much lost the argument (unless you're arguing about whether Hitler could take Macho Man Randy Savage in a WWE Cage match, then I guess the Nazi references would be appropriate).

But the young woman in question brought upon herself the Barney Frank tongue lashing. She deserved it, and maybe she'll find a different, more appropriate and clever metaphor for her poster at the next healthcare town hall meeting (assuming someone lets her know what a metaphor is).

So yeah. Nice to see Frank callin' her out.

But then as I thought about it a little more, I realized I was feeling a twinge of ... something. There was something, I don't know, not quite right about the whole exchange (I mean aside from the obvious ridiculousness of the entire affair).

Then I realized that it was actually Frank who lost. By engaging the woman in the caliber of conversation with which she tried to engage him, Frank actually lost. He didn't realize that in this kind of un-argument, you can't win if you participate. That's a surprise given his vast political experience.

He took the bait and lowered himself to the level of the ad hominem.

Then, a few days later I was listening to a Planet Money interview with Frank that managed to completely erase what little respect I still had for him.

Planet Money's Adam Davidson interviewed Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, about trying to come up with a non-partisan way to address reforms aimed at preventing the kind of financial and regulatory crap casserole that allowed the recent global economic meltdown.

Frank's response was that he doesn't believe in non-partisan solutions.

"We're not dealing here with arithmetic. There is never going to be a consensus answer to what happens. You're not going to get calm, reasoned, bipartisan investigation," Frank said.

Frank proved himself to be a partisan bully. This is why there's so little hope for our country. The people in charge at the highest levels see this as some sort of game. What's important isn't finding the best solution and the best policy. What's important to them is scoring partisan points for their team.

The attitude has filtered into most of the politically aware society. The actual policies are irrelevant. People only care about associating with one side or the other and the petty "victories" those sides achieve.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

That's the ticket!

I'm a big believer in random acts of generosity.

That's why I took advantage of some interstitial time this morning to make a quick donation to the City of Overland Park.

I had just dropped my daughters off (one at school, the other at daycare) and was cruising to work down one of the many residential side streets near one of the many suburban school areas when it just occurred to me that, hey, I should make a random donation to The City.

Sure, I pay my taxes. But sometimes I think that's not enough. I mused, if only there were a way I could give a little more on top of that during these times when the mood strikes me.

That's when I realized that Overland Park has a method for me to do just that. For, as I drove down the street I noticed the familiar form of one of the Overland Park city police cruisers parked in the shade of a tree.

I was able to get his attention and get him to follow me a few hundred feet where he pulled up behind me. He put his flashing lights on and even made the effort to walk up to my car window to talk.

I explained the idea I had about wanting to donate a little more to the Overland Park general fund. I showed him my driver's license so that he knew I was indeed a resident of our fine burg. He inspected it briefly, then went back to his squad car for a moment.

When he returned, he notified me that he had a suggestion for my quandry. He provided me with a ticket, a sort of voucher, notifying me that I had the opportunity to donate $105 to the city sometime within the next 30 days. I had the option of visiting the municipal court to get a free tour and make my donation. But I could also choose to donate over the phone at my leisure.

And not only was I able to donate this small sum, but in return I was granted a one-time opportunity to exceed the posted speed limit by more than 10 miles per hour. It was lucky, since I had done just that mere moments before seeing the officer in his patrol car.

So it was a double win for me. Not only did I get a short thrill of driving 36 mph in a 26 mph speed zone, but I also received the personal satisfaction of making a small contribution to the financial security of Overland Park.

I just hope my random generosity will be an inspiration to you all in your daily commute.

tagged: , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

YouTube Tuesday: Wrestling with health care

I agree with Ze Frank on this health care so-called debate.

Calling the this a national debate is like calling a WWE match a "round table discussion." There's not really any discussion going on and everybody with half a brain knows the outcome was determined before it even started.

Hat tip to Shane on the video.

tagged: , , , , ,