Women, if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention

I seriously think I may implode.  There are days that I feel like a huge percentage of our country must be asleep. Did I miss the memo about when we became a puritanical yet hypocritical society?

The fact that more women are not completely outraged by what is going on right now with their rights is baffling and astonishing to me.  I don’t even have a uterus and it infuriates me. But I do have a mother, a daughter, a sister, nieces and lots of aunts, cousins and friends who do. And you know what? I think this all of this birth control debate is a total load of shite. And here is why…

People are couching it around their beliefs as Catholics, but I don’t buy it for a second.

If you are Catholic and still support not covering birth control for "religious reasons", take this simple two question survey.

  1. Have you ever engaged in premarital sex?If the answer is YES,  then you are a hypocrite.
  2. Have you ever used contraception to prevent a pregnancy?If you answered YES, then you are a hypocrite.

But I want to better understand this situation which seems to be predominantly backed by the conservatives. You don’t want women to get abortions but you also don’t want to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Oh, and you don’t want to provide benefits for the women who have unwanted pregnancies and then can’t afford to raise the children. So the “solution” is for people to just not have sex. OK, that seems like a likely alternative. NOT! You know what the solution is? Education.  Teaching people how to protect themselves from both unwanted pregnancies and disease.  It’s 2012.  I’m not talking about encouraging your kids to go out and have sex.  That’s the LAST thing that I’m saying.  But it has been shown again and again and again, that if you don’t talk with your children, they’re still going to do what many (if not most) of you reading this did yourselves.  Isn’t it better to arm them with information?

The same education that somehow seems to be a threat to these frightening conservatives like Rick Santorum.  The same man whose wife dated an abortion doctor FORTY years her senior.  That’s right, the holy roller himself shares a bed with a woman that lived with an abortion doctor.  But I’m sure that they didn’t engage in any sexual activity.  They must have just played Parcheesi and read the Bible together.  Give me strength.

And I’m tired of hearing the remarks about “not wanting to pay for other people’s birth control.” It’s funny that it’s often the people who are either post-menopausal or have been neutered who are making these arguments. Again, ask yourself, when you were fertile, did you use protection? But, now that you’re done with it, nobody else should have it? Puh-lease.

And do you know what the best part is? Many women take birth control for other reasons that have nothing to do with sexual intercourse.  (This again is where education comes in.) They could be women who are not even sexually active yet benefit from the meds for other reasons.

So, do you want to a la carte healthcare? Let's do it.  Do you know what I don’t want to pay for? I don’t feel like paying for Viagra for old men who can’t get it up anymore.  Why should they have sex? Are they reproducing? If not, I’m not gonna fund it.  Nope. Not on my dime.  Let’s try getting that stuffed into the healthcare bill.  How do you think that will go?

Snooki, mangia! Then go away. And take your friends.

 Snooki got to her weight goal of 98 pounds. Generally, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anything that any of the Jersey Shore morons are doing.  But a few things annoy me. I bet you’re shocked.

First, as a whole, they completely and utterly soil anything Italian.  If I had my way, I’d require them to label their heritage “Guido” because most of us Italian-Americans aren’t like them. We are literate, pronounce the letter “h” when it follows a “t” (ex. “three” is different from “tree”) and we aspire to do more with our lives than achieving a hair height equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa or a skin color that is Hermes orange.

I get supremely annoyed by people confusing the art of Guido as Italian.  As someone who has actually stepped foot in Italy more than a few times, let me tell you that there is nearly nothing that can visually assault the eye as much as The Situation, Snooki or any of the other douche bags or douche nozzles that are on the show. Most real Italians are well dressed, well spoken and actually eat more than Chiclets and Vodka.

But besides just how the Jersey Shore morons smear the adult perception of Italian-Americans, there is what happens when kids watch the show.  And I say this not advocating that children should watch the show (because I clearly think they should not); but because I assume that some kids are being raised by buffoons who are truly not “smarter than a fifth grader”  and don’t understand that their children watching these behaviors may actually impact how their kids behave. Snooki or her other cohorts somehow become role models. (God help us one and all) And then somehow Snooki achieving what may or may not be a healthy weight of 98 pounds becomes an aspiration of young girls.  And if their parental role models are of a similar mindset, the worry of idiots becoming extinct is safe for at least another generation.

Do you know what would truly impress me about Snooki? Finding out that her IQ exceeded her weight instead of her waist. Spend more time eating and less time spray tanning.

Now if you’d excuse me, I’m going to make myself an espresso.

Shanghai Surprise

After visiting Beijing, setting aside the amazing historical sites, I found myself longing for two things - 1. A shower and 2. To get the heck out of China. Never in my life have I seen such a dreary, gloomy city where spitting outweighed common courtesy tenfold. And even the historic sites were often overshadowed by barking people, shoving and hawkers trying replicas cheesy replicas of each site often emblazoned with mini LED lights.

Flash-forward six months later, to when Greg was invited to lecture in Shanghai. Presented with the opportunity to visit Shanghai, my first thought was "Dear God, why couldn't Greg have been invited to any other Asian country to lecture?" And then, I googled it. I found references calling Shanghai the "Paris of China." Hmm, maybe it's filled with Louis Vuitton stores and rude people. Just kidding - I love Paris and don't find the French to be rude. They're just reacting to gauche Americans. But, I digress.

So, I decided to give it a go and we booked a ticket for me. Boy, was I surprised! I had done China as much of a disservice by assuming the entire country was disgusting and foul based on my experience in just one city as if someone were to judge the entire US by a visit to Topeka, Kansas.

Shanghai was an incredible city! It's very cosmopolitan - interesting and eclectic architecture, stylish people and hardly anyone spat. Unlike its capital city, Shanghai offers a much better foray into China than Beijing. It still feels very much Chinese with language barriers aplenty, insane driving and people trying to sell you fake Gucci bags and hookers simultaneously. But it is far more approachable and just enough "western" to allow one to breathe. Which speaking of air quality, Shanghai is to Beijing as the Cape Cod shoreline is to the Sumner Tunnel.

Most of the city's incredible skyscrapers have been built over the past fifteen years or so (which speaks for how quickly China can make things happen.) But whereas, Beijing had very little greenery, Shanghai had lots of trees and plants and parks among the beautiful new skyscrapers. And besides the ultra-modern parts of the city, there were tree lined boulevards that would convince you that you were in Europe.

I would gladly visit Shanghai again. Beijing and Topeka still both compete for last place in places of the world I ever hope to see again. Well, realistically, Topeka still bottoms the list. At least going to Beijing I'd earn a ton of airline miles. And I wouldn't risk running into that asshole Fred Phelps.

Hello, Dolly

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The Doctor's Wife

Medical dinners can be a mixed bag. Spouses are either really interesting and artsy or everyone is in medicine and it becomes like an episode of Gray's Anatomy sans the sexy people (give or take a few.) The one we attended the other night was the latter.

The first couple we chatted with were pleasant but had less personality than a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau. I tried for a bit but when I had finally had all that I could endure, I excused myself to phone my parents to check on Elly. I hoped that Greg would have found a way to escape by the time I returned. Ok, so I may seem like a bad husband right now but it's not like I left him a la 127 Hours.

Much to my chagrin, he hadn't chewed himself free. But a friend whose company I enjoy had arrived to the trio. We got caught up and were then called in for dinner where once again my luck would take a turn for the worst. As people filed into the dining room, we managed to land ourselves at a table with a lively and interesting couple to Greg's right and a mismatched and awkward couple to my left. I introduced myself to the gent next to me who looked like a cross between the Swedish Chef from the Muppets and an androgynous character from a Saturday Night Live skit. (Oh waiter, another Cabernet please!) And then proceeded to introduce myself to his wife who immediately proclaimed "I'm a dentist." I don't even think she told me her name. How lovely for you.

It was a good reminder that however insecure I may feel being non-medical in a sea of physicians (regardless of the fact that I ALWAYS have the nicest shoes), I have no problem being a doctor's husband. My running joke is that it's much easier to marry a doctor than to be one.

But Dentist Girl really does feel second fiddle. In many ways. They live, and her practice is in the burbs. "But my gym is in Boston." Ok, now I'm even more confused. My gym is two miles away and I have a hard enough time getting there. You make it a point to drive over a half-hour to go into Boston to work out? Really? I bet she doesn't even floss.

And just in case I didn't want to start to drink lighter fluid at this point of the evening, she started quizzing her husband on Shakespearean characters and quotes from his works. Seriously, woman? Emasculating your husband more than his haircut already does is totally unnecessary. But if it keeps you from talking to me, carry on.

And then came the best sound of the night - the clanging glass indicating that the awards presentation and speeches would begin. Phew!

The Kotex Sled

I had sort of an apparition this morning. I received a message from Mother Nature in my toast. It was a lengthy message (I had two pieces) and in hindsight, I suppose that I should have saved it or at least called Oprah. But, I was hungry. So to make up for it, I'm passing her message on here. In a nutshell, she said that she's sorry about all the snow. And that while she will eventually thaw out this ginormous mess, in the interim people should use some common sense (and common courtesy) and put down ice melt!

I thought to myself, You know what? That old broad has a point. It's not that difficult, people. Help her out a little. A sprinkle here and a sprinkle there and the next thing you know, it's a whole lot better.

But my day didn't end with just a toast sighting. Today was trash day. As I was out walking Betty and Elly (and taking our lives into my hands), embedded into one of the already soiled banks, I spotted an "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret " sized maxi-pad that didn't successfully land its way into the truck. It's amidst the rest of a neighbor's exploded trash bag, including what looks like the remnant of a Jimmy Dean sausage. I'm not sure which grossed me out more.

I am willing to bet that whoever Miss Kotex is, she will not pick it up, given the propensity to not deice around here. I just hope that some small child doesn't mistake it for a toboggan.

Saddle up, Missy!

Last night, Greg and I had an incredible dinner at the White Barn Inn in Kennebunk. We had been wanting to try it for ages and finally had the chance. (Thanks Mom and Dad for minding Elly!)

While waiting for our table, we decided to have a drink at the bar. As luck would have it, the only two open seats were at the piano. So we (quite stereotypically) sat there. In a matter of no time, the pianist began to play "Over the Rainbow". All we needed was a tv showing the Smucker's Ice Skating Competition, Liza Minelli and a local field hockey team and we would have had the quorum needed to vote the Bush's out of town.

While we were seated at the piano, hidden behind a flower arrangement the size of a Texas hairdo, we had yet to offend anyone's wholesome sensibilities. You see, there are natural habitats where one expects to have gay sightings - hair salons, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, and piano bars. In those places, we either blend in like chameleons or are amusing to see like monkeys frolicking at a zoo. But, in a short time we would be neither of those. We would soon be hyenas - dreaded and feared, out to ruin everyone's fun.

As the maitre d' escorted us to our table through the sea of white people replete in their Brooks Brothers and Talbots garb, the frost from the ice and snow outside paled in comparison to what we felt inside.

Two men dining together at 8:45 on a Saturday evening weren't likely business partners poring over documents and yacking it up about the "big game". We had clearly upset the delicate balance in this sleepy red town. Oh, the amuse bouche was just about the only thing that was amused in that dining room. A number of our fellow diners were visibly disturbed that two homosexuals had tainted their dinner. But you know what? This boy didn't care. As a matter of fact, it energized me. By the third look of disdain we got cast from the woman that I'll refer to as Bitch because I don't know her Christian name, we opted for the nine course tasting menu over the four course option. Saddle up, Missy. We're gonna be here for a while!

The beauty of it all is that by the second course, I no longer realized that there was anyone else in the room with us. It was just me and Greg. We had a fabulous night enjoying an amazing dinner and each other's company.

So, to our fellow diners who cast us dirty looks, as you're hanging up those stuffy suits of yours, remember this... Whether you may like it or not, closets are for clothes and shoes, not our lives.

Winter Wonderland, My Arse!

It just took two weeks and one blizzard to put me back in full bitch mode. The serenity of Tokyo already feels like a distant memory. I know that "serenity" and "Tokyo" would seem to be mutually exclusive terms. In my experience, they were not. More to come on that later. Now back to my rant.

My primary pet peeve in the winter (did you think there would only be one?) are jerks who don't shovel, and/or don't shovel properly. If I had a dollar for every a-hole who lives on a corner in Metro Boston who did not properly shovel their sidewalk, I would be able to afford a business class ticket back to Tokyo for myself, Greg and Elly. Some people do the four inch pathway which would be perfectly suitable if we were Lilliputians. Most of us however, are not..

When these corner house dwelling folk buy their homes, does it not enter their feeble brains that they will need to shovel? When the realtor is painting a rosy picture of all those summer days that you'll spend sipping Country Time lemonade on your front porch waving to Sally and Jimmy as they ride by on their bicycles with the banana seat and tassels, remember that those summer days give way to the nastiness of winter. And, before you know it, it rears its relentless ugly head and turns your frontage into a frozen tundra. Not shoveling, is not only inconsiderate to the average pedestrian, but is also extremely inconsiderate to those in wheelchairs or people with strollers.  It is virtually impossible to go outside without having to resort to walking on the street. And,  it's not like we're South Carolinans who get an occasional snowstorm once every ten years and don't know how to handle it. We live with this stuff for up to a third of the year!

I envision the culprits being Twinkie-eating, Marlboro-smoking people sitting on a pleather recliner watching reruns of Hogan's Heroes. Get off your lazy arse and shovel, dammit! Or pay some kid to do it for you. I and your body mass index will thank you for it.

My second peeve goes out to all the folks who claim stake on street parking by putting all kinds of crap out there to hold a spot making every day look like trash day. There was a time when this was only seen in lower brow neighborhoods, now it's everywhere. I loathe it. But it does make me wonder what the etiquette is for these spot holders? Does it vary based on the object used? Does a lounge chair buy you more or less time than a wooden chair? Does a Mary on the half-shell get you more time out of reverence than say a cooler? Regardless, assuming the spot is yours until the spring, is wrong. 

And if you live on a corner, don't shovel and put out cheesy things to hold your spot, do us all a favor and move.

The Comb-Over

In Boston, the comb-over, like the Puffin , is an endangered species.  Baby Boomers and GenX’rs alike who count themselves among the hairline challenged have typically opted for a very short “do” or have shaved their scalps to the skin.  I applaud these lads who have extrapolated Nancy Reagan’s advice on drugs and have “just said no” to the awful toupees of yesteryear or worse yet  “the maybe-nobody-will-notice-that-I’m-combing-hair-from-my-left-ear-to-my-right.”

When I spotted my first comb-over here in Japan, I assumed it was a one-off.  But now that I have had time to get a good sample set, I can see that the comb-over is certainly alive and kicking here.  If I had the chutzpah to take pictures, I would have enough material to write a book.   I even have a title for it – “From Hair to There.”

The best one that I have seen thus far I have dubbed the “Mother of All Comb-overs.” (This picture is not the actual guy but a close approximation.)  It wasn’t just a comb-over but a comb-up-and-over. In order to achieve the illusion, the gent used hair from the nape of his neck, brushed it forward to his forehead region and then swooped it ever so slightly to the side.   From the front, he looked odd, like a defective Fisher Price character.  But it took a view from the back to appreciate the artistry that went into this affront to Vidal Sassoon himself.  

One simply couldn’t keep a coif like this together with a mere dollop of mousse.  In the event that a strong Tokyo wind caused him to take flight like a parasail, forensic analysis would likely show that there was significant Brylcreem , traces of Dippity Do , and just a spritz of AquaNet to finish it off.

Raising a Politician

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Raising a Politician

Shopaholics are made, not born

As Elly shuffles around the house in her Japanese slippers (adult sized) with a shopping bag slung over one shoulder and a travel umbrella on the other, I can't help but wonder how kids pick up the things that they like to do. Or can I?

I suppose that It would only be appropriate for me to accept the blame for her penchant for footwear. Daddy has been known to have a bit of a shoe fetish. And I don't mean fetish in the skievy, toe-sniffing kind of way. I mean it in the "made in Italy, come with nice shoe bags" kind of way.

And I assume that her love for umbrellas is in reverence to her Irish side of the family. Though it turns out that Japan has been pretty similar to Ireland in its rain frequency. Maybe it's an island thing?

At any rate, it is nothing short of hysterical to watch her fly around the place, fully accessorized. It's like watching a little Italian grandmother (sans apron) who was recently inspired by Project Runway's "Piperlime accessory wall." As she sashays along, she occasionally pauses to point out and narrate her bag du jour. "Shooooes". Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. "Bag." Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. "'Brella." You work it, girl!

For the time being, it's fantastic cost effective play. And I love that she is using her imagination instead of all of the characters that we'll soon be haunted by. She doesn't care what's in the bag, or where it came from (though one of her all-time favorites has been a Kiehl's bag).

I suspect that as she gets older we may have to say goodbye to one of my favorite mythical characters, "Santa Coach" for Dora the Explorer (God help us all.) And she will probably be no longer be contented by an empty shopping bag. But on the bright side, at least I can look forward to having a partner-in-crime.


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A Little Courtesy Won't Kill You

Back west, we often excuse behavior because of the size of the city that one lives in.  Just because a city is busy and bustling doesn’t mean that the residents have to be rude and inconsiderate.  We’re currently cohabitating with 39 million other people. There are lots of things that I find incredible in Japan. The one thing that really stands out is how courteous people are. As westerners, there are some lessons that we can learn from the Japanese. 

 Here are some examples:

  • Driving - Drivers here generally don’t incessantly honk their horns, cut people off, or try to mow down pedestrians like overgrown lawns.  Many of you have probably seen those three things happen all in one setting back west!
  • Germs - People here wear surgical masks when they themselves are sick as to not get others sick.  Very unlike, the nose picker on the Green Line who coughs without covering his mouth, ha?
  • Noise Pollution - Though trains are crowded, people obey the “Don’t speak on cell phones” signs.  You never hear music blaring through someone’s headsets. That’s a big difference from the person I saw sporting a boom box in Cambridge recently.  A boom box? Really?? Get headsets! If you want to kick it old school, carry your boom box with headsets.
  • Kid Sounds - Babies and toddlers sounding up in places, even confined places, turns nary a head. We’ve been in small restaurants or crowded trains where Elly has chimed in with that toddler screech that can rival Patti Lupone. I’ve quickly turned to see what reactions have been and not a thing. People continue their conversations like not a sound was made. 
  • Security – When was the last time you left your bicycle unlocked in Times Square? We walked by at least a dozen bikes last night on a very busy street that were all unlocked, just standing on their kickstands.  Back home, you’d have a better shot at seeing Sasquatch than ever finding your bike again.  Yet here in a city swarmed with people, it’s as if you’re in a small town neighborhood.

It just goes to show that people can be courteous, honest, thoughtful and kind; when they choose to be.  Next article: It's not all Utopia. Japan has its issues, too.

Potty Training Lessons

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Potty Training Lessons

Yen Zen

Tokyo is known to be an expensive city.  My recollection from when I was here in 2002, was that costs varied wildly.  As it turns out, memory had served me correctly.  There are things that are considerably more expensive by American standards and others that are quite reasonable. It's an interesting dichotomy because sometimes the variances can occur side-by-side with no rhyme or reason.

For example, today I was on the very tony Omotesando Avenue which has been compared to Paris’s Champs-Elysees. ( I know that you're shocked to hear that I made it there within my first ten days in Tokyo!)  On one side of the street, a cup of coffee at a café was 1000¥ ($12). Directly across the boulevard,  you could fetch a Campari for 450¥ ($5). Now I’m no mathematician but it didn’t take me long to figure out I could have two Camparis for less than a cup of coffee.  Such a deal!

I have found milk to be considerably more expensive regardless of where it is sold.  It is primarily sold by the quart for about 250¥ ($3).  Besides that I have yet to figure out if I’m buying  1%, 2% or whole, I’m quite surprised at the difference.  I suppose there is less room here for cows than at home.  Nonetheless, for $12 a gallon, I feel like I should get to meet the cow or at least see her picture on the container.

The most interesting difference by far is the cost of cantaloupe here.  Cantaloupe is a cherished fruit and can range from $85 to well over $120 per melon. Yup, you saw that correctly! It is considered a luxury item. You find them in the fine grocers cloaked in what appears to be a diaper.  The fruit is cared for better than some children in this world, having been monitored and coddled from the time it was a mere seedling.  It made me wonder what  the Japanese would think if they visited Boston and saw them at the fruit stands at Haymarket for about a buck a piece.  Would they be very excited at the bargain of it all or totally repulsed by Dante behind the stand, scratching his privates and spitting on the ground?

[I wrote this article up to this point while riding the Metro back to our apartment from Omotesando.]

I’m now waiting to pick up the takeout that I ordered for Greg and myself.  An order of shumai and two grilled fish entrees with rice and sautéed vegetables  cost just less than that cup of coffee that I mentioned earlier.  Once again proving that Tokyo is not always super expensive.  It depends what you want and where you are. 

The bottom line. .. Outside of the States,  the US dollar currently has the value of Monopoly money.   You want to play, you have to pay. There are things that are good value and others that are not so good. I suppose traveling to third world nations would be one alternative.  But then you would risk catching hepatitis, or worse, no Campari.


We're about half way through our first week here so I thought this would be a great time to recap some first impressions and observations.
  1. Warming a toilet seat is a nice touch. Toilets here mean business. They're not the typical plastic and porcelain thrones that you see elsewhere. These are some high-tech loos. They are equipped with seat warmers, a multiple-function bidet and a deodorization feature. They do everything but dry your bum for you though I suspect that higher end models may do that, too.
  2. Being illiterate is a humbling feeling. While my Pimsleur tapes helped prepare me a little for communicating, not being able to read Katakana and Hiragana is hugely detrimental. There are times when there is no English to be found. It can be very confusing to figure out basic things that we take for granted. Take our trip to the supermarket the other day. I bought what I thought was detergent based on where it was located in the store. Turns out it was bleach. Looking on the bright side, at least it wasn't douche.
  3. Just because it looks like beef, doesn't mean it is. The other day we ordered take-out from pictures on a menu. We ordered one dish that looked like chicken and rice and another that appeared to be stir-fried beef with vegetables. The chicken dish was true to its appearance but the "beef" turned out to be liver. Yuck! That encouraged me to learn to read a little.
  4. Japanese people have an incredible sense of personal style. People here are typically not only well put together but they also have individuality. You hardly ever see the cookie cutter Gap, Macy's or Banana Republic looks that are ubiquitous back home. I've only seen one mess so far - a tragic old queen, sunning himself shirtless in Abercrombie shorts and a gold lame belt. Given that I have probably seen 500,000 people, that's not a bad ratio. He also inspired the title for my future book, should I ever write one - "Abercrombie Doesn't Make You Look Younger. Moisturizing Does".
  5. Japanese love kids. People seem to adore children here. Loads of people will smile and wave and coo at Elly. She of course is soaking up the attention like a sponge! I'm trying to teach her to say "Konichiwa" so she can say "hi" in Japanese but that is a bit of a mouthful for an 18-month old.

    My first impressions are that we are really going to relish our time here. How much of the Japanese language that I will actually learn remains to be seen.  I can, however, at least assure you that I won't accidentally buy any liver scented douche.

The Road to Fatherhood Part Three: Just the Right Fit

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The Road to Fatherhood Part Three: Just the Right Fit

Faux Naturel

The French are known for Brie, the Dutch for their Gouda, the Greek for their Feta and the Italians for their Parmigianno-Reggiano. Of course, this is a scant sampling of the fine global selection of cheeses available. The names alone practically taste good! You could even sing them in a song that would sound yummy.

Gou-da, Fe-ta, Par-mi-gian-no. Don't forget the Brie and the Romano.

Contrast that with one of our culinary claims to fame. American Processed Cheese Product. Ah, where to even begin?

The name itself sounds foul. Processed. I feel yucky just saying it. I envision middle-aged women with white lab coats and hairnets pushing buttons that send copious amounts of milk and Orange #978 into vats, whilst longing for their next Marlboro Light Menthol 100. It would be the kind of job that Laverne and Shirley would have taken after leaving Shotz Brewery.

And who better than us could make food less environmentally friendly? Let's wrap each individual slice in plastic. Or better yet is cousin EasyCheese packed in its aerosol can. But, since EasyCheese doesn't require refrigeration that must neutralize it's carbon footprint. Right?

All of this reminds me of the epicurean pinnacle that I once witnessed in Central Square. A group of people were sitting on a bench squirting EasyCheese onto CheezIts. What? No Bac-Os !

The Road to Fatherhood, Part Two : Looking for the Right Agency

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The Road to Fatherhood, Part Two : Looking for the Right Agency

MethLabVille and TapBrothel

Seeing how popular (and addictive) games like Farmville and TapFish are, I got to thinking. How fun would it be to develop some new games? Two that came to mind were MethLabVille or TapBrothel.  If anyone out there is a game developer, get in touch with me. We'll be rich!

Here's how they would work...

In MethLabVille, your primary responsibility is to run a crystal meth lab. At first, you'd have to go buy your own Sudafed. Once you get it to the lab, you cook away! Don't get greedy or you'll burn your lab to the ground and have to start again.  Go up enough levels and you can hire minions to go out and buy the Sudafed for you. As your meth production increases, you can start your own cartel. But, if the runners get caught, they go into lockup and your production goes down.

In TapBrothel, the main player is the madam. As the madam, a very important duty is to keep the girls looking pretty by doing their hair and nails. Tap a girl's hands to give her a mani; double-tap her feet for a pedi. To do her hair, just tap her head. Of course, each tap takes time away from her john; but it does increase her billable rate. If you miss doing her hair and nails for a few days, she starts to look haggard. Her billable rates and desirability decrease. As you go up levels, you can expand your brothel by adding more gals and offering specialty services.

This would certainly be just the beginning. In later versions, you could transfer characters between the two games. And, it of course would lend nicely to other games like TapNightCourt and VDClinicVille.

And I promise that if I develop MethLabVille or TapBrothel, it won't include the ten zillion updates that Farmville sends. You never have to worry about getting a message that "Timmy needs more Sudafed" or, "Janice is proud to announce the arrival of Krystall to TapBrothel".

The Road to Fatherhood, Part One: A Visit to the Lesbian Lair

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The Road to Fatherhood, Part One: A Visit to the Lesbian Lair

Let them eat cake (with their tea)

Some days, I have to pinch myself when I read the news. I would get more gratification however, if I could slap others. Take for example, Ken Mehlman, Dubya's 2004 campaign manager and former Republican National Committee Chair. Mehlman announced this week that he is gay. You know what, Ken? We don't want you. Thanks for helping that moron get reelected. Between you and that frightening, half-brained woman from Wasila, gays could end up in a gulag before we know it.

There are two groups of people that I thoroughly do not understand - Log Cabin Republicans and those who earn pittances yet still vote with the GOP. If you are queer and vote Republican, all that I can say is shame on you. "Log Cabin Republican" to me is synonymous with "self-loathing gay". It's assholes like Mehlman that catapult the gay rights movement back decades. One step forward and fifty steps back. And now, he is atoning? Eff you, Mehlman! Get some therapy.

And then there are the people that are two steps away from the government cheese line, yet still vote Republican for the so-called "tax breaks." Turn off Fox News and get yourself really informed. You stand more to lose than to gain by voting with your party. Don't think that being Republican is some status symbol that you wear on your arm. You want status? Go buy yourself a nice Gucci bag.

For people in either of these groups, think about this... The reality is that if you were on fire, most of the GOP would not piss on you to put you out. Wake up. It's not time for tea. It's time for coffee.

Is it too much to ask?

I could write a tome about the grammatical annoyances that I encounter on a daily basis. And I'm not talking about esoteric things, like when to use a semi-colon or a comma. I'm sure that I make my share of mistakes in that arena! I'm talking about the fundamentals of the English language that one typically learns in elementary school. By the looks of it, some folks were paying more attention to the My Pretty Pony lunchbox than the teacher.

As we approach the new academic year, I have high hopes that thousands of students will commit to memory the difference between to, two and too as well as there, their and they're. I also have high hopes for what might be accomplished this year with basic verb conjugation. It really isn't that difficult.

CattyDaddy Pop Quiz time!

Here are two statements. Which one is correct?

1. Nancy Grace is a complete and utter douche bag. I saw her show once and it made me want to eat nails.

2. I seen Ann Coulter on tv the other night. Supposively* she has a penis and an Adam's apple.

If you chose statement number one, you're absolutely correct! Nancy Grace is a douche and you have proper command of the English language. If you chose statement number two, unfortunately you are only partially correct. Ann Coulter is believed to have a penis and an Adam's apple but you might want to reserve a copy of Hooked on Phonics.

*I couldn't resist. It's like nails on a chalkboard, isn't it?

My two-cents

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My Two-Cents

Fisher Price Village People

Last week while visiting her grandparents, Elly has been playing with a number of Greg's old toys from his childhood. Most of them are Fisher Price toys from the early 1970's that he and his three sisters were raised on; decades later they are still in great condition and are being played with by their children. These toys are from an era when the Fisher Price name was synonymous with quality unlike Elly's Fisher Price toys that will be lucky to last until her second birthday. Stay tuned for that column.

While Elly and I were playing with the safari set, we came across the safari guide. I nearly wet my drawers and the floor around us! He had a classic 70's mustache that made him look more like a vintage porn star or one of the Village People than a safari guide.

This got me wondering ... How did this guy influence Greg? Did he find him hot? Why did Pixar leave VPSG (Village People Safari Guy) out of the Toy Story trilogy? Are they saving him for the adult version? If so, what will they call the movie - "Sex Toy Story"? Would Woody, aptly named, still play the lead role? In the straight version, would he be cast opposite Barbie and all her slutty friends? In the gay version, would it be Ken and throngs of army men? So many questions!

The rest of the week whenever we played safari, I had to leave VPSG in the toy chest. I couldn't quite look at him the same way anymore.

The Absence of Manners

Some things are simply meant to be done in private. I am often astounded by what some people feel comfortable doing in public. Here are a few more pet peeves to add to the plethora that I already have.

Take nail clipping, for instance. Why do some people feel that this is appropriate to do in public? I find it plain disgusting! That oh so familiar "click, click, click" sound goes right down my spine when it's anywhere outside of one's private bathroom. I have had colleagues who clipped away in their cubicles and have even seen people trimming on the train. Gross, gross, gross. I'd prefer not have to guard my Diet Coke from the errant fingernail and would be even more skieved out if I came across one later.

Next on the leaderboard is the public bathroom phone call. The only thing more foul than answering one's phone in the stall, is initiating a phone call to someone. How do they explain the sounds? I always secretly hope that the person will rip one out that resonates through the phone line like a chainsaw. And then, in case the person had any question of what it might have been, a couple of power flushes from neighbors will put it in context. Let's hear him explain his way out of that one.

Last but not least, public manscaping should be two words that never go together. There was this equine steroid freak at my gym who felt it appropriate to take a trimmer to himself in the locker room. First he'd buzz away, all over. Then he would then admire himself in the mirror waiting for passersby to acknowledge him as if he were Michelangelo's David. I would have tossed him a carrot if I had one. Good for you for keeping things under control but next time, do it at home.

I'm sure that just because I have written this that it is only a matter of time before I run into someone on a phone, in a bathroom stall, clipping his nails. I'll tell you if I do.

"Just" a Stay at Home Dad

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Metal Slides and Mercurochrome

If you are a GenXer or Baby Boomer, you'll appreciate this post. If you're too young to relate, you missed out on some fun times...

Have you been in a playground lately? Do you remember when we we're kids? Man, what a difference a few decades makes!

Our slides were made of metal and sat at about a 45 degree angle. On a good, sunny day they would heat up to about 250 degrees. In those 1970s Daisy Dukes and slathered in baby oil, you'd slide down that skillet quickly; but still in plenty of time to fry off the first several layers of your epidermis. Down you went, down, down, down! All the way to the nice, hard concrete and gravel waiting for you at the bottom.

Scraped your knee because you achieved Olympic-qualifying luge speeds along the way? No worries. You'd just run on home to mom who would paint some mercury-ladened Mercurochrome on your skin. And five minutes later, you'd be back with your friends with a FreezePop in hand.

Not today. It's a different world nowadays. Playgrounds are child proofed to a fault. Slides are made of plastic and go at a gentle slope that hardly allows a breeze to pass through your hair. The surrounding area is some kind of cushy, bouncy foam material. If a child does fall, she's going to fall on something softer than her mattress at home. There's no Mercurochrome anymore but kids are bathed in a sea of Purell capable of disinfecting the Eastern Seaboard. And FreezePops would make you look like a bad parent so you'd have to give your child a homemade-frozen-watermelon-puree-pop-with-no-added-sugar-on-a-100%-recycled-bamboo-popsicle-stick.

Honestly, I'm not sure which is better. Truthfully, it's probably somewhere in the middle.

Either way, I got to run. I hear the ice cream man coming and I want a bomb pop.

A letter to George Michael

George Michael,

You got caught driving under the influence again? C'mon! And this is the second time this summer?! Nobody should drink and drive. Period. But when people with your kind of money don't act responsibly, it really pisses me off. If you're gonna get your groove on, hire a driver! How about Andrew Ridgely? Certainly he's not doing anything.

I'm a fan of your music. I even know that your last name is singular and not plural. I do worry though that you're quickly turning into one of those tragic old queens who doesn't know when it's time to grow up.

Just like every gay man should reach a point in his life when he has to admit he's too old to wear Abercrombie + Fitch, your time has come. You asked, so here it is... "Wake up, before you go-go!"


It's not gonna pick itself up

If you've been reading my blog, you've probably come to realize that I'm fairly opinionated and have my share of pet peeves. One thing that drives me insane I'd when people don't pick up after their dogs.

Before getting a pet, one should bear in mind that there is a shit to love ratio in effect. That is, as the volume and how closely you must come into contact with it increases, the amount of love that one gets from that pet increases proportionately.

Here are some practical examples of the ratio in ascending order:

Fish - They require no real direct contact with their poo but don't expect to cuddle on the couch with Nemo either.

Hamsters, gerbils and other rodents - Their dung is small and manageable with a scoop so contact is minimal. But the turd size is directly on par with the amount of affection that you'll get from them, unless of course, you're Richard Gere.

Rabbits - The pellet size increases and so does the affection, along with the stink.

Cats - They poo in a box, are much neater and sophisticated and offer more affection, though it is somewhat conditional. Try leaving Fluffy's litter box untouched for a few days and see what she does.

Dogs - By far, dogs have the grossest poo which generally requires full hand-contact with only a plastic bag between you and last night's dinner. But good owners will clean up after them every time. Why? Because it's the responsible thing to do and Fido would do it for you.

There are no bad dogs, just bad owners. If you don't want to pick up shit, get a pet rock.

We want you as a new recruit

Today I was walking with Elly through my in-law's neighborhood when I saw the iconic purveyors of religion - two young men dressed in suits with name tags on. They stopped to ask if I lived in the neighborhood and when I told them that I didn't, they went on their way. Just after they passed, I realized I missed out on what could have been a very interesting conversation.

It did still give me a good chuckle though as I thought about the irony of it all. Most extremists accuse gay people of "recruiting." Yet some of these same people spend a big chunk of their time trying to recruit people to their religion. As a card-carrying homosexual, this really bugs me.

We don't have any quotas that we're required to fill to keep our cards. Of course, there are some small commitments, like having some appreciation for Judy Garland. But trust me, as much as it pains me to admit it, I even know a few queers who don't like Barbra Streisand!

And, it's not like the good ol' days when you opened a bank account and got a blender as a welcome gift. Quite frankly, I think the reason behind that one has more to do with gays wanting a really nice blender from Williams-Sonoma and not some crappy Oster one, but that's not the point. Whether you come out at fifteen or fifty, there's still no prize waiting for you, other than fabulosity (wink).

In fairness, I must say that these two young men seemed perfectly nice. But if someone is going to convince me to change religions, it certainly won't be someone wearing a polyester tie. And I want a blender.

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

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Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Chain, chain, chain

Do you know what makes me crazy? Chain emails. Back in the snail mail days it was bad enough. At least then people had to make copies, stuff envelopes and put postage on them. Now they just have to pick which friends they'd like torment and click 'Send'.

I don't buy that some Guatemalan girl requested on her death bed that her last wish was for a certain email continue to circulate until the end of time.

I also have a hard time believing that if I forward some message within eight minutes to at least twelve friends, the Virgin Mary will bestow a bounty of goodness on me. But if I don't, she will unleash a wrath unparalleled to anything seen before on this good green earth.

So do your friends and loved ones a favor and don't forward these silly messages. They'll appreciate it.

By the way, send ten friends a link to in the next ten minutes and ten minutes later, look at the screen to see what happens. It's wicked awesome. I promise. (wink)

Gordon Showers

For those of you who don't know her, Betty is our eleven year old Gordon Setter/Black Lab dog. That's actually the best wild-assed guess that the vet had. It really doesn't matter to us what she is - half this, half that, she's 100% good girl. We'd clone her like Dolly the sheep in a heartbeat, if it were only that simple. But, I'm digressing.

Betty just had what I refer to as her "well woman visit." Her vet suggested that we send out a urine specimen. There are things that it would show that blood work doesn't. While I hate to watch them take blood from my brave pup, it's over in seconds.

A urine sample, now that's a bit trickier. In her eleven years, I've only had to do this once or twice before. I have not forgotten those times and it turns out neither has she. As soon as I clad my hand with a glove and grabbed the little Chinet bowl that the vet provided, she decided she'd just hold it for a while.

Since this is not a commonly seen occurrence, I couldn't really get it while on a walk. I'd just have to wait her out and keep on trying her in the garden. As I waited, I wondered what she was thinking about. If she could talk,what would she say? My guess is it would be something like this, "In case you haven't noticed, I really need to take a piss and you, the glove and bowl are freaking me out." Meanwhile, I was thinking to myself, "I'm the one who has to sneak a Chinet bowl under my squatting dog, and you're feeling like you somehow got the bum end of this deal?"

She refused to go for me or Greg. We knew she had to go since she hadn't gone since bedtime. Miss Betty's bout of pee-shyness lasted a full three hours. Finally, after pretending I was doing something else and not watching her, she did her business and I got my sample. She didn't even realize I got it and the best part is I didn't get a "Gordon" shower.

Obsessed with Intervention

You've heard my toilet paper story. I can be slightly obsessive about things.  It depends on what it is.  Take Elly's toys for instance.  Every night when I'm cleaning up from what looks like a tornado struck the house, I need to account for all of the parts.  If one of the alphabet letters is missing from her blocks, I need to look for it.

Ultimately, it all starts somewhere. I used to watch that tv show Obsessed . It's about people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I had to stop watching because I felt like it was one of those shows that could actually make me obsess. Intervention, on the other hand,  I can watch all day. Of course I do feel guilty when I pause to get a snack and the show is about bulimia or pouring a big glass of wine when it's an alcohol intervention.

On the other hand, even innocent hand soap encourages compulsive behavior.  Take Mrs. Meyer's Hand Soap (which totally rocks, by the way.)  The back of the packaging says "the longer you rub your hands, the cleaner they become." You know that there's someone out there who buys the stuff by the caseful and just washes away the day.

I'm not really worried that I'll get OCD.  Most likely what will save me is my procrastinating.

On and Off More than a Bathroom Light Switch

The only thing I find more annoying than the Kardashian sisters (for the time being) is the entire Palin clan.  Sarah is like that stain that I got on my new shorts.  She just won’t go away. 

Here’s a big shocker this week.  Nineteen year old Bristol called off her engagement to Levi the day that she announced it because things “soured”.  Do you know why, Bristol?  Because at 19, if you decide to get married to help Mama get elected, there’s a good chance your relationship will have the shelf life of a gallon of milk. 

Mama Palin all along has somehow found a way to make her daughter a heroine for getting knocked up at 17.  However, if the same 17-year old was from the inner city in Detroit instead of Wasila, Alaska , I suspect that Palin would describe her something like this:  “a welfare scamming ho’ who should have kept a quarter between her knees in order to save this country and its god-fearing tax payers’ money.”

It’s just a gosh darn shame that The Bachelorette is on ABC and not on Fox, because my guess is Mama could pull some strings to get Bristol on the next season.  But fear not, I’m sure Bristol and Levi will pop up on celebrity reality shows more than Danny Bonaduce .

Gisele's Law

I'm sure by now you've heard that Mrs.Tom Brady, Gisele Bundchen , thinks that we should have global legislation requiring moms to breastfeed for the first six months of life. While I'll be the first to agree that breastfeeding is the ideal, it's not always possible. Take our home, for example.

Now I must admit that I would have gladly nursed Elly for the weight loss benefits alone! Being married to a doctor, I'm pretty certain that he could have made it happen.  But let's face it nobody likes moobs (man boobs) and lactating also brings significant clothing risks if you leak through your shirt. Who needs that!

It did get me wondering though. How would one would enforce this worldwide "Gisele Law"? Here's what I'm picturing...
-Knock, knock.
-Who's there?
-It's the Department of Global Lactation Security, ma'am. We're here make sure you don't have any bootleg Enfamil in your house. We'll also need to see your breast pump.

What qualifies a supermodel and wife of a legendary football player on global practicalities? I bet she doesn't even recycle. Personally, I don't think supermodels should be allowed to speak (see Tyra Banks ) but you don't see me trying to ban them from doing so.

Check out more CattyDaddy on the Edge Media Network

I'm really excited to be writing a column for the Edge Media Network about life as a two dad family.  You can access it through any of the Edge sites under the menu selection "Columnists".  My column is called CattyDaddy.  I hope you'll read it!

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Receptionists receive, Readers read

Call me old fashioned, but remember back in the good ol' days when receptionists would actually greet you? Lately it seems like in many places, and always at my gym, the receptionist seems to think that texting or reading is her primary job responsibility.

I don't even come into her peripheral vision or pique her curiosity enough for her to raise her head. Now, I'm not looking for a fluffed up towel or an ice cold bottle of Evian, though either or both would be nice. I'm not even asking her to queue Cher up on my iPod. All I want is a simple "hello" or even a smile that acknowledges existence. But it doesn't end there...

I approach the paper towel dispenser and it was in it's most common state - empty. I mentioned to her that it needed to be refilled and was cast a look as if I have asked her to trim my toenails. defines a receptionist as "a person employed to receive and assist callers, clients, etc., as in an office." So once again by definition, one would assume that I was within the realm of being reasonable with my request. Clearly in this case "Twilight " had me trumped. Maybe if I was Edward or Jacob, I would get that hello.

Unless you're a llama...

I'm certain that this world will never have a shortage of foul people in it. Today I'm in Home Depot when this guy walking a way in front of me hawks his gum onto the floor. Yuck! I understand that it's no Nordstrom's but still show some decorum. He was gone before I could say anything.

I'm sure the hawking would be on some security camera and for a second I wished that we were in Singapore where he would be caned as a punishment. OK, that might be a little harsh; he just spat gum out. It's not like he had on a brown belt with black shoes or anything. But I bet he wouldn't do it again.

It also got me wondering what his home looks like. It is either spotless and he is just rude outside of it or you have to plow through mounds of empty Schlitz cans and Cheeto's bags just to get to the couch. My guess is the latter.

Not wanting to let the educational opportunity pass, I told E that people with class don't behave in that manner. Whether we're in our home, someone else's home or even the Home Depot, spitting is unacceptable; unless you're a llama.

But the hole in the ozone helps my reception

I've had a bit of an auto theme going lately, so I'll continue my rant with people who have ginormous cars but are completely incapable of driving them.

If I had a dollar for every soccer mom that I've seen in a behemoth car, I'd be able to make a sizable donation to the BP cleanup. Typically, she's gabbing on her cell phone, veering here and there, totally oblivious to the cars around her or the ozone for that matter.

I really don't understand the need to super-size everything. Driving a mid-size car is costly enough nowadays, let alone something that is big enough to house a family of illegal immigrants. Unless the size of your family rivals the Brady Bunch, isn't an eight passenger vehicle overkill?

Being a one child family, maybe we're just naive to the times to come. But unless E takes up historical reenactments of the Civil War, I can't imagine that we could possibly need to schlep so much stuff that we could not fit it into a mid-size SUV.

Since my car fell victim to the recent flash floods and was totaled, I'm in the market again. I'm still leaning towards another sedan but may consider a small SUV. I won't need to decide until we get back from Japan so I have some time to mull it over. I do know one thing for sure though... this daddy will not be buying a Hummer, Suburban, Escalade or heaven forbid, a mini-van.

Take me out of the ball game

Most who know me, know that I'm not a sports enthusiast in any way. Playing baseball, hockey, basketball, you name it, just pains me. For me, a key benefit of coming out was I officially had a justification for my lack of sporting prowess. Not that all gays are bad at sports; I know number that are quite exceptional athletes. And, no I'm not just talking about my lesbian friends. On the other hand, I have no coordination and even less interest in sports or sporting events.

If given the choice, I'd rather watch than participate. I save a good bit of face that way and can zone out when I need. My preference for watching come down to overall duration and eye candy factor. In descending order, I would say it would be rugby, football, basketball, hockey, baseball and then NASCAR. I'm not even sure if NASCAR qualifies as a sport or if it's just a way to make inbreds dizzy after drinking a lot of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Rugby takes the coveted first spot. First, they very efficiently limit the game to 80 minutes. The time commitment is far better than a baseball game that makes me long for that awful Michael Bolton concert I once sat through. And secondly, the players are generally easy on the eye.

All of this said, it remains to be seen if E will be a big jock or if she'll want to play Barbies and have tea parties. Of course, I'll support whatever makes her happy and will go to every baseball game, if that's what she wants. I'll just bake some snacks in my Easy Bake oven before we go.

In the blink of an eye...

So, I’m driving down the street today when all of a sudden this guy comes barreling out of a side street making a left turn onto the main street that I was on.  Since I’m trying to avoid calling people douche bag , I briefly honked my horn to let him know I was approaching.  He then flipped me off!  Being the bigger person, I didn’t return his greeting.  I will however, rip him to shreds here.

If you read Malcom Gladwell’s “Blink”, you’ll be familiar with his concept of “thin slicing.” It’s essentially the snap decisions that we make about people with the limited information that we have. 

Here is what I know factually about him from our brief encounter: he has New Hampshire plates, a mullet and no manners.


Here’s my thin slicing: 


  • He completed no more than 10 years of school
  • During that time he was voted "Most Likely To Sleep with His Cousin"
  • His mullet must weigh his head down in a way that makes it difficult to watch for oncoming cars on busy streets
  • He was probably in a rush to get to Keno

** This wasn't the actual mullet sporter, just a close proximation that I found at   

Hey Billy Bob, would you Pledge my car for me?

Today I drove by a PT Cruiser with the faux wooden side panels. This bizarre accessorizing phenomenon confused the life out of me growing up back in the 70's. I'm even more baffled thirty years later. Why anyone would buy a PT Cruiser, with or without wood siding, is still beyond me.  But why would anyone buy a new car and then make it look like something straight out of Green Acres?

Setting the absence of taste aside, I also find it interesting that the only manufacturers from which you can order one of these monstrosities is an American company. That's right, if you have your heart set on that knotty pine sided BMW, it's not happening in 2011. Or, you know that Honda Accord that you've been dreaming of, the one with the maple siding? Nope, sorry, not this year.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going shopping for some paneling, wall-to-wall shag carpeting and avocado appliances.

Better Homos and Gardens

This past week I stripped and refinished our deck. Anyone who knows me is going to be surprised that I did something so butch. And, to top it off, it actually looks decent. Don't get me wrong, it's not like I escaped it unscathed. Some of you may have heard about the blister inducing toy assembly experience that I had last week. Well, let's just say I now have more blisters keeping my stigmata story a viable one. I'm thinking if I keep this pace up, people will line up to take pictures soon.

Will only run for pasta

Walking by the Charles River this time of year, it's quite common to see guys with -10% body fat running shirtless. My first reaction is "wow"! My second reaction is always "I will never be that thin." Why, do you ask? Two key reasons - for one, I loathe running. And secondly, I love, scratch that, I actually adore carbohydrates. I'm convinced to be uber thin, one must avoid the evil carb. You may not necessarily have to run, but it does help.

I've tried both running and going carb free several times. Neither suits me. Running, while a calorically excellent way to burn loads of calories, is simply not fun for me. I'll gladly do 45 minutes on an elliptical machine but running is as painful as the Bangles  concert that my now lesbian ex-girlfriend dragged me to in 1986.

And low-carb weight loss totally works as long as you make it a "lifestyle". When I did the Atkins Diet (before Dr. Atkins died of heart disease), I practically had to deny my Italian heritage since most of that food is verboten. I affectionately renamed it the "Anti-Italian Diet"- no pizza, no pasta, no bread, no fun.

Oh, you'll drop those pounds faster than Rosie Ruiz finished the Boston Marathon as long as you "marry" the diet and make a solemn vow to never, ever, ever to eat those wicked carbs. Cheat however, and the punishment is worse than what any nun in Catholic school could do to you. All of the weight you lose comes back along with an extra ten or so pounds as penance.

I may never be the thinnest guy on the Charles but I'm ok with that. Got to run, time to get the water going for my pasta.