Thursday, April 21, 2011

Random Acts of Thursday - Shhhmokin'

Other than a cigar on rare occasions, I don't smoke. I am personally put off by residual cigarette smoke. When bars went smoke-free, it was a positive change for me.

However, cigs and smoking are iconic. In old film, in song, even in early television, what would we have made of it when WC Fields showed up, a la Kojak, with lolly in hand in place of his cigar? (Or Winston Churchill, for that matter. I always get them confused. Drunk and wearing a hat? They could be brothers. Wait...WC? Winston Churchill? Hmmmm...)

Okay, that went a direction I wasn't expecting. Sorry about that. Damn brain cloud...
Now, my little quizlings, dance, dance!

1) What actor starred in a Disney film under the alias Paul Mall?

2) Name the television show that featured a character named Salem?

3) What iconic ad man did Don Johnson usurp for a 1991 film?

4) What brand of cigarettes does Bruce Willis smoke in Die Hard?

5) What about in Pulp Fiction?

6) What Acadamy-award-winning film is set in Newport, RI?

7) Name the brand mentioned by Billy Joel in an iconic 80's song.

8) What series of code phrases does James Bond use to identify a fellow agent?

9) In which film did Clint Eastwood light a match on the face of his opponent?

10) What is my favorite Kool and the Gang song? (Hint - it's featured in one of the films listed above.)
Bonus:  What brand did my favorite author notoriously smoke his entire life?

If you think you've got them all, check here for the answers.

Monday, April 18, 2011

You can't go to Eddy's again

I spend a lot of time thinking about food.  It's possible I spend more time thinking about it than I do eating it.  And, like other areas of life, it would seem the Chinese restaurant experience of my youth is quickly disappearing from the American landscape. 

I miss Eddy's Place, the weekly destination of my youth.  Eddy is a family friend, as is Rosie, his long-time waitress.  I very nearly proposed to Lori there, but got nervous when we walked in to find my parents sitting at a corner table.  (I did ask, and she accepted, later that evening.)  We have an afghan on our sofa that Rosie gave us as a wedding present.  Since Eddy had been pushed into closing by his landlord, he and Rosie came to my sister's wedding, and it was a joy to see them again.  This is not a typical restaurateur-client relationship, and I'm okay with that. 

Eddy's was not exactly unique in my childhood.  There were four or five other Chinese restaurants of the same sit-down variety that made their way though our dining spectrum, and only one little delivery place.  There was no such thing as the 'Super Happy Steam Buffet of Overcookedness' in my childhood.  I always got a placemat that told me what my zodiac sign meant, and strangely, it's pretty dead-on for me.

There were always egg rolls and egg foo young, and later, dozens of potstickers.  (Due to that family friendship, I have a dozen or so of Eddy's potstickers, frozen for later consumption and made by the man himself in his own home kitchen as a gift to my parents.)  There was custom ordering, combinations that didn't exist on the soy-stained paper menu.  When we were children, my sister would order milk, and since she was, apparently, the only customer who ever ordered it, Eddy would have to send someone across the street to the tiny grocery store to buy some.

As time has passed, I've watched those sit-down restaurants disappear.  In their place, buffets of questionable quality and tiny carry-out places have cropped up.  Lori and I tried yet another buffet last night, hoping for something of higher quality than we got.  So awful was this place, with multi-colored light bulbs, and a scratchy PA system that broke out into the traditional 'Happy Bursday To You' at one point (yes, bursday.  Really.) and the too-common steamed beyond recognition food, that we'll never go back. 
With few exceptions for the high-priced Chinese-Restaurant-As-Fine-Dining places, most of the sit-down places have fallen to disrepair, fish tanks empty or covered in algae, ceiling tiles falling down from unattended roof leaks.  Now, most of the places that will sell me carryout belong to families or corporations that have purchased the Chinese restaurant kit, advertised as 'New York Style'.  These places, in Wisconsin, Florida and Ohio (and I'm sure...your state has them, too...) have the same menus, the same pictures of pre-staged dishes, the same chairs with fan-patterned vinyl, usually green but occasionally pink. 

What they don't have is the same charm of the neighborhood restaurant, a casual family-owned place where the kitchen is hidden, where traditional music is streamed through bad speakers, and where I might even get an odd mix of Chinese-style and American dishes, like a plate of carrot sticks and olives, or the option to order a hamburger.  I've never ordered a hamburger at a Chinese restaurant, but it was comforting to know it was there.  (I spent years with our daughters ordering chicken strips at the Mexican restaurant, so a hamburger at the Chinese place would have opened up our family dining options a little more before their palates grew.)  

When I Google Eddy's Place for nostalgia's sake, the restaurant now comes up with his home address.  I can even see it on Google Stalker View.  Maybe this means I can go to Eddy's again.

He won't mind, I'm sure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Everything but the oink

Some of you may recall my discussion on organ donation.  Others among you may remember me posting about the Hogzilla family back in Florida.  (I feel there should be some amusing and frighteningly accurate Venn diagram here, so imagine one.  I'm being lazy.) 

Now, the Discovery Channel has decided that we're SO overrun by wild boars that it warrants a weekly series.  We here at CDS Enterprises (a wholly-owned division of NFC Worldwide) think the time has come to actually welcome our porcine overlords.  Like dinosaurs or leprechauns, pigs could very well be the panacea this planet needs.

(I am not anti-Semitic, anti-Islam or anti-any-faith-based-dietary-obedience.  I am anti-vegan, a point you, my regular reader, will already know.  But this warrants mention.  This is not intended as an ethical discussion, either.  If you've been reading for any length of time, you'll have figured out that ethics have no place in vast global solutions.)

Anyhoo.  Depending on which scientific group you believe, we may be waiting until 2018 for swine-to-human transplants, but others think we may see the first of these this year.  We may start off with limited skin and kidney transplants, but porcine physiology has been used to mimic the human body.  I watch Mythbusters and CSI, so don't try to argue with me.  When they harvest the organs and skin from a pig, that leaves loads of nutritional value to be had.  Boars' hair is used to make paintbrushes, and pigs are full of sweet, unctuous gelatin.

And since we're overloaded with saturated fat in this country (mmm, sweet delicious lard), I'm sure some enterprising person could work out refining and purifying rendered pork fat, and we could all drive bacon-scented cars and trucks, heat our homes and offices, burn clean pork fat to generate electricity.  Can you imagine?  And in nations that consider this religiously blasphemous, just think, they'd still be able to survive using fossil fuel for generations longer, thanks to the use of wild boars in western nations.
Pork.  The other cure-all. Now if we could just find a use for the oink, we'd be all set.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Fun Fact Friday - Bilirubin the Kid

As I may have mentioned, I recently became both a grampa and an uncle.  This leads to all sorts of additions to my vocabulary, including terms that should never be used in polite company (i.e. mucus plug).

Grace, my niece, spent an extra day in the hospital when they couldn't find a bilirubin blanket.  Apparently, those things are a hot commodity.  Jordan's bilirubin levels climbed once he was home, but both wee little childrens are healthy now.

Jaundice is caused by a processing inbalance.  Bilirubin (the artist formerly known as hematoidin) is a naturally occuring product of the body, created when red blood cells break down.  Because babies produce red blood cells at a quicker rate than adults, they produce a higher bilirubin-to-weight ratio than adults.  Bilirubin is processed through the liver, and eventually gets pooped out.  (Not tired, but excreted.  Don't you love the ambiguity of the English language?)

Babies can't always process bilirubin efficiently, because their livers haven't developed completely (in the case of premature birth), or because they don't manage to poop efficiently. 

In more serious cases, jaundice can be caused by an infection, or by other disorders of the thyroid.  It's also possible when a newborn doesn't get enough breast milk, or, in the case of an Rh-factor mismatch, when a mother's milk actually creates antibodies that damage the child's red blood cells.

So maybe this isn't a 'fun' fact, but it is a common occurence, and when treated properly, children can come through it without any permanent damage.

As for permanent damage, however, I'm not sure which is worse: me EVER hearing the words 'mucus plug' (DON'T Google it.  No good can come of that) or my brother-in-law inadvertently seeing the placenta drop.

Update - As Frank was so kind to point out, I never talked about how the Biliblanket works. Imagine TRON. UV light can be used to convert the subcutaneous bilirubin to other byproducts that break down and metabolize without the help of the liver. While looking like Flynn or Yori.

I always wanted one of those light cycles.

Monday, April 4, 2011

To Dream the Impossible Dream

Hey, kids!  Difficult to believe I haven't posted in over two weeks. 

Okay, difficult for me, perhaps.  I know, however, that I've had these gaps before.  You've heard me mention before that I have no concept of the passage of time, and oh, how it's flying.  Of course, the last two point five weeks have held lots of excitement and little miracles.  I became an uncle on St. Patrick's Day.  Sure, I had nieces, my brother-in-law's children, but this is my sister's first and she's adorable.

Last weekend?  Our daughter gave went into labor and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in less time than it takes us to drive from here to Wisconsin.  Three hours less, to be exact.  He was so brand-spankin'-new when I held him for the first time, and he's perfect.  I'm a proud grampa, can you tell?

This is not why you're here, though, dear reader.  I'm just making excuses to lengthen the post.  Think I ever had problems meeting those word-count requirements in school?

I had a dream the other night where I was working. This isn't unusual for me, for my job to creep into my REM-time. (Or when I'm sleeping, exhausted from my interpretive dance of 'Shiny Happy People'.)

But this was different, as it wasn't MY job, but instead a fabulous new opportunity. I was working at Waffle House.

I love the Waffle House. I take unabashed pride in my adoration for La Casa de Waffles. Breakfast, 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. Fifty-two weeks a year. Several years back, Lori and I celebrated Christmas Eve at the Waffle House. We took friends and family there, like it was some unholy mecca for all things waffled and delicious.

My dream gave me unlimited access to the biggest Waffle House I'd ever seen, or at least unlimited access to the parts I've already seen as a customer. Giant griddles, kettles of grits and gravy, waffle makers, it just makes me want to call out: "Mark: drop two, scattered, smothered covered, three scrambled raisin. Plate." I don't know just what I'm saying, I'm probably getting cheese and onions on my waffle and a raisin omelette, but hey, it's my dream and I'm ordering properly.

 Strange the pleasure I was able to take in wiping tiny fingerprints from the glass doors, in washing dishes and scraping grills, simply to be a part of the grand Waffle House experience (which I envision like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, with more carbs and less acid.)

Sure, it's an odd 'dream' job.  And I don't think I have the ability to learn a brand new vocabulary at this point in my life.  But I can dream.

We are bereft of waffle-y convenience here in the O-Hi-O, they exist but they're not at impulse distance anymore.  In my quest to make dreams a reality, I found that one cannot purchase a Waffle House franchise.  Every Waffle House in the world is still owned by the family of the original founders.  And there's no indication that they might consider changing that.  Good for them.

How about you, dear reader?  Dream job?  Amusing waffle-related anecdote?  Discuss.

Be nice and share!

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