May 24, 2007

Bite-Sized Mold

The LOST season finale was on last night at 9pm. I made plans with my friend Karen to come over to my house so we could watch it together. She showed up around 8:30pm in her post-workout Jazzercise gear and we were hanging out in the kitchen catching up before our favorite TV show began.

She commented on how many 100-calorie snacks I had on my counter-tops. Ever since I began my diet back in February, I’ve become the queen of 100 calorie snacks. Love them! She happened to see my three boxes of the new Hostess 100 calorie Cup Cakes and decided to try to Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese filling variety. I really wasn’t paying too much attention because I was rooting around in my Lazy-Susan trying to find alcohol. (I recently received a recipe to make some sort of fancy ‘Crocodile’ mixed-drink that involved Midori, Lemon Juice, Vodka and Triple Sec) I thought it would be a fun way to kick off the season finale since we both like Midori.

As I was opening cabinets to find fancy glasses, Karen told me that the cupcakes really didn’t taste that good for 100 calories.

But as Karen popped the second cupcake in her mouth, I noticed a slight tinge to the frosting. I grabbed the package containing the last remaining cupcake and exclaimed, “Don’t eat anymore! It’s all moldy.” Karen pulled a face and we both ended up laughing so hard after she swallowed the last bite. I showed her the green fuzz and we both got appropriately grossed out.

But I was very surprised. Don’t Twinkies and the like last for decades? I would have assumed a Hostess cup cake would do the same, but then I realized the fuzz was all over the cream cheese frosting. I quickly inspected the other remaining varieties on my counter: chocolate cake with chocolate icing and golden cake with chocolate icing—both perfectly fine.

I’m not a person who is aware of expiration dates. A gallon of milk is really the only consumable in my fridge that catches my attention every day when I prepare my cup of morning coffee. I can’t tell you how many dozens of eggs or tubs of Cool Whip that have found a home in my trash months after their expiration date. I’ve also learned not to let myself get fooled into taking advantage of seemingly amazing sales for 20 cups of yogurt for five bucks because they too have expiration dates. Who knew? I thought those little tubs of yogurt had bacteria in them already-why would they expire?

Expiration dates are everywhere. Cans of Pepsi, bags of pre-packaged Dole salads and even medicines in your bathroom. The two moldy reduced calorie cupcakes Karen ate hopefully won’t make her too sick, but at least she was eating healthy.

May 15, 2007

Exclusive! People Magazine Has Jumped the Shark

Is it just me or has the word "Exclusive" somehow lost it's meaning for People Magazine?In the recent May 14th edition of People Magazine, you've got the ever-present Rachel Ray taking up about 75% of the cover. (So what else is new? What hasn't this woman conquered? Don't get me started on her Dunkin' Donuts commercial. ) But to the right, there are three other pictures with captions that are supposed to entice potential readers to either buy the magazine while standing in a checkout line or at least select it amongst all the other magazine subscriptions tossed on the table in the waiting room of your gynecologist's office.I take no issues with the first two photographs. I can see the masses being interested in who might be diddling the newly-single over forty hottie Heather Locklear and our unimaginable fascination with the offspring of Princess Diana--but showing SHREK blaring the words, "Shrek's A Dad! Exclusive Photos." Come On! This is a joke, right?Has nothing happened this past week that trumps showing a cartoon's babies? What about Extreme Home Makeover's beloved Ty Pennington getting busted for DUI? He even gave a perfect soundbite to Extra! that could have been placed nicely under his goofy grin: "I made an error in judgment." At least he was only driving a car while drunk! Imagine if he was using power-tools?I have never held a subscription to People Magazine because it's too expensive. I usually just borrow my copy from the local library and thumb through the interesting stuff within ten minutes. I know the magazine is filled with fluff, but I still like reading it because they have great celebrity photos and the articles are oftentimes topical mixing in celebrity news with touching stories about people who have overcome great obstacles. In reading about their triumphs, I strangely feel good about myself and all of man-kind.But I simply cannot digest their proclamation that they got an Exclusive on Shrek's baby photographs. Even the talented Johhny Depp can poke fun at over-the-top movie marketing campaigns in the most recent issue of Entertainment Weekly: "I drew the line at hygiene products like Captain Jack toothpaste. It just seemed wrong." At least he gets it.Imagine being reporter Jason Lynch at People Magazine. Sure it's cool to say you're a staff member for one of the most recognizable magazines in the world, but do you think if he were at a swanky cocktail party he'd admit to having landed the exclusive photographs of the Shrek babies?Then again, what do I know? I'm just a blogger writing about how pathetic People Magazine is right now. Jason Lynch is still doing far better than me. After all, he got to meet Shrek and Fiona.

May 14, 2007


Who would have thought a visit in passing to a newly launched Walgreens store on West Boylston Street would find me draped over the steering wheel crying my eyes out?

Of course the uncontrollable weeping was held at bay until I got into the privacy of my trusty Mazda 3, but I sure would have been a sight if someone had happened upon me in the Seasonal aisle wracked in sobs of grief over my dead mother. I'm telling you, I nearly lost it coming across a box of imported-from-China battery-operated hand-held personal fans.

She loved Walgreens and I hated that store with a passion. I used to get really irritated when one of the old ladies at the nursing home would give her a copy of their weekly advertisement from the Sunday Telegram because it always meant my mom pleading with me to visit Walgreens to pick up some of their sale items which they invariably NEVER had in stock. I can't even convey the extent of my arguments with my mom over something not being in stock. It usually went something like this:

"But it's in the paper. They've got to have it. It's on sale!"
"No, " I would try to reason, "They make up these ads months in advance and just because it's on sale doesn't mean they're going to have it."
"Maybe it's in the back?"
"No, it's not. They don't have it."
"I'll go ask someone."
"Well, you can go ask someone, but they're not going to have it."

It would go on and on like this. She would insist and I would try to reason with her, but in the end my voice would rise in frustration, we would start swearing at each other and eventually she would just get really pissed off at me and storm off into another section of the store.

Our most infamous battle was over the aforementioned battery-operated fan. She wanted it so much because when you hit the Go button, the fan would spin around really fast and make this bright, LED colored light show. It was kind of groovy and psychedelic to just stare at it and I think that's why she wanted it so much. I, of course, thought it was the biggest waste of her money because she would use it once, get bored with it and then want to give it to me as a gift.

Sometimes I would break down and take her to the only local Walgreens which was on Park Ave in Worcester. I feared for our safety going to that store because of its location and wouldn't have been surprised if during one of our visits, we were involved in a violent stick up while my Mom was buying a bag of Strawberry Creme Savers.

But every time we went there, she would look for that damned hand-held personal fan. She just kept thinking that they'd get it back in stock. It didn't matter that it was the middle of Winter, she wanted that fan and was determined to buy it. I just couldn't get her to understand the retail marketing strategy of the Seasonal aisle. Winter months featured Christmas decorations and Valentine's Day candy. Spring brought Easter decorations and Jelly Beans...not personal hand-held fans that gave off light shows. That was reserved for our hottest months and there was no guarantee that who ever supplied these cheaply made fans would continue to supply Walgreens with the same design year-after-year.

I remember when I showed her this soon-to-be opening Walgreens on West Boylston Street. I happily said, "See? We can go there anytime you'd like because it's so close and much safer than the one on Park Ave." She was excited that I was willing to take her to Walgreens without any fuss and was looking forward to when the store opened.

I forgot all about the new Walgreens after she died this past November. I'd pass it every so often and see it's construction progress. But I had no interest in visiting Walgreens. After all, in the food chain of discount drug stores, Walgreens gets the lowest position because it's just a junk store that never has advertised sale items in stock. Here's my current ranking:
  • CVS Pharmacy
  • Target
  • Brooks Pharmacy
  • Any supermarket drug store section
  • Wal-Mart
  • Walgreens
But tonight on the way home, we decided to stop into the newly opened Walgreens to check it out. To tell the truth, they had advertised a new SKITTLES flavor: Limited Edition Carnival and I just had to hit that. But rest assured, they didn't have it. And right after being disappointed, I found myself wandering over to the Seasonal aisle and that's when my hidden grief over losing my mom to cancer back in November hit me like a ton of bricks. That stupid personal fan. There it was tucked up on a shelf--boxes and boxes of them waiting to be advertised and bought by anyone else other than my mother.

I paid for my purchases and got back into the car. I gripped the steering wheel and just let the dam burst. I never would have thought during all those annoying shopping trips we took together that going shopping with my mother to a Walgreens would be one of the things I miss most now that she's gone.

I would have told you were she still alive and well that I hated taking my mom shopping every Tuesday and Friday for these past eight years because it was always a source of massive frustration. I'd bargain with her over what she could and couldn't buy in the store like she was my five year old daughter. Sometimes I would buy what she wanted just to shut her up so I could get some peace. Other times I would lie and tell her the store didn't have something because I knew she really didn't need to waste what little money she had on yet another $5.99 t-shirt. (She had to have every color Hanes t-shirt made, one color was never enough) Other times I would leave her to sit in the car while I ran into the store to buy her a bag of candy because I didn't have the patience to deal with her slow lumbering movements with the walker because I knew that I could be in and out of the store 90% faster than if we both went in together.

As her caregiver and her only child, I know that I did my best for her. But coming across that stupid cheap fan really hit home to what I lost when my mom died six months ago.

May 12, 2007

Blood Diamond

Set against the backdrop of civil war and chaos in 1990's Sierra Leone, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer (Leonardo DiCaprio) - an ex Mercenary from Zimbabwe - and Solomon Vandy (Djimon Hounsou) - a Mende fisherman. Both men are African, but their histories as different as any can be, until their fates become joined in a common quest to recover a rare pink diamond that can transform their lives. While in prison for smuggling, Archer learns that Solomon - who was taken from his family and forced to work in the diamond fields - has found and hidden the extraordinary rough stone. With the help of Maddy Bowen (Jennifer Connelly), an American journalist whose idealism is tempered by a deepening connection with Archer, the two men embark on a trek through rebel territory, a journey that could save Solomon's family and give Archer the second chance he thought he would never have. ( Written by Production )*********************************************************************************This was an amazing movie for me to watch. I had a really tough week at work sitting in 8-hour a day training classes on mind-numbingly dull topics for five days straight and all I could think about after watching this movie was for me to stop by bitching because my life is a cake walk compared to what others are suffering around the world past and present.Here I am sitting in a class room really hating my life and then I think about this character Solomon in the movie who has lost his family and is forced into slave labor mining for diamonds. He has nothing except a diamond that he knows is valuable, but never more valuable than getting his family back together.There are so many disturbing scenes in the movie. Children being brain-washed and trained to become murderers, people being shot mercilessly to further the cause of conflict diamond trade and a journalist who is trying to be one person making a difference.I loved this movie. Leonardo DiCaprio amazes me with his talent more and more in every movie that I see him in. He does such a great job with dialect which certainly adds to the experience of watching any character he portrays. Djimon Hounsou was thrilling as the father Solomon Vandy. There was one particular scene in the movie that sent chills down my spine watching the emotions play across his face when he confronts the man that has taken his beloved only son and forced him to become a killer.Most importantly, this movie touched me and made me realize that no matter how much I might sometimes think my life isn't going the way it should, I still have family, a good job and a home that no one will take away from me. I am fortunate that I was born in the United States and never had to know first-hand what it's like to live in a war-torn country. I know that sounds really lame and corny, but that's what I love about movies like Blood Diamond. A movie that's as well done as this one is should make you sit back and reflect on what you have to be fortunate about.


Who would have ever thought that former Duran Duran band member Andy Taylor would have anything in common with the infamous Howard Hughes?

I'm a huge fan of Texas billionaire Howard Hughes. If Worcester Magazine caught me for their People on the Street section and asked me, "If you could have dinner with one person, who would it be?" I would answer without hesitation Howard Hughes. Not Jesus, Not John Lennon or Kurt Cobain. Just Howard.

I just have so many questions for him.

Have you perhaps seen the previews for the new Richard Gere movie The Hoax? The movie is based on a bogus biography written by Clifford Irving about Howard Hughes for the McGraw-Hill publishing house. These past two weeks have found me reading his book, The Hoax, which this movie is based upon.

The book overall wasn't too interesting until you get to the eventual unfolding of the plot to dupe McGraw-Hill. Things begin to start heating up nicely once Howard Hughes calls a press conference (via telephone) and states that he never met Clifford Irving.

By now you're probably still scratching your head wondering where the link is between between Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes. Get ready to have your world rocked: The author Clifford Irving, his wife Edith and his two sons called Ibiza their home for many years and it's where Clifford and Dick Suskind came up with the hoax for the Howard Hughes book. It's also where Andy Taylor is living now.

Now this might be stretching this whole Six-Degrees-of-Separation link, but having just discovered that Andy Taylor is now living in Ibiza and has a recording studio located there is kinda weird in my small little world of personal interests. Therefore my link between Howard Hughes and Andy Taylor has been firmly established, has it not?

You're right. It's a lame link between the two, but still a very personally strange coincidence for me. It's like Sour Skittles, balsamic vinegar, ice cream and tuna salad. Individually their delicious, but when combined don't make much sense.

But like Andy Taylor and Howard Hughes, they are some of my favorite things.

Conan Visits Intel

I don't know how long this clip will be available for viewing so please HURRY and watch it while you still can. Conan O'Brien visits Intel and his observations on the cubicle life at Intel is spot-on. You'll love the cafeteria where a group of geeks are playing Chess during their lunch hour and Conan confesses his love of playing Hungry Hungry Hippos back in the day.

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