Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dreadful Martini

As Sir Chub has pointed out before, once you get into this WW mode of thinking you realize that there are some food choices that are worth the points, some that are not. Dreadful martinis (besides being a rather good band name) are definitely NOT worth the points. (By the way, my favorite band name of all time is ‘Malevolent Cherubs.’ As far as I know, no one has purloined this name. Any reader of this blog is hereby encouraged to do so. I won’t even ask for royalties unless you get big, but it would have to be like, you know, U2 kind of big).

The lovely wife and I took my mom (Queen Mother Lessismore?) out for dinner last Monday. It was a nice restaurant that had a selection of “specialty martinis” which translates into “martinis for people who wouldn’t normally venture within 10 feet of a martini.” On the top of the list was the “Banana Split Martini” (‘Have dessert first!’ sez the menu) and in a fit of anti-Core impetuousness, I ordered one.

Oh my, how dreadful it was. After eating the little banana wedge garnish, it was all downhill. The drink was topped with a mound of whipped cream (whipped cream and gin – what a great combination!) and chocolate sauce (see previous parenthetical) and when you actually got down to the liquid part of the drink, mixed in with the usual martini ingredients – which I believe are gin and vermouth, though you’d never know from this drink – were a couple of sickeningly sweet syrups. Most prominent was cherry syrup though I think there might have been a whiff of almond or peanut flavoring as well.

The first sip was jarring but the kind of jarring that you don’t know if what follows is going to be really good (like wasabi, for instance) or really bad. The second sip confirmed: it was really bad. But I’m not one to let a $7 drink go to waste and I soldiered on through 3 or 4 more sips. My stomach immediately started to complain. At the time, I felt the only way to settle it was to fill it with food. While I had been considering the salads, I now turned hungrily to the sandwiches section. My thinking, as skewed as it was, defaulted to post-hangover mode. Feeling this bad, something greasy and fried had to be the solution.

The rest of the meal is a bit of a blur but I wobbled out of the place filled with probably 3 weeks worth of WW points (and perhaps a small bison, I’m not sure). At a time when I was already slipping, diet-wise, it was not surprising that I registered a 166 on the home scale the next day, the highest weight I’ve been at since dropping below my original goal weight 8 months ago.

I’ve toiled for the past week and a half to rediscover the WW religion and have been, one lunch-time potato soup pig-out notwithstanding, pretty reverent. And this morning I was rewarded with a 162 on the scale. Needless to say, there is always something more to learn in this process of consumption moderation. Last week, I was smacked hard with the “if you’re going off the reservation, be sure it’s worth the trip” lesson. And I think I’ll be steering clear of martini bars for, oh most likely, ever.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Adventures in Viscosity

I’ve been thrown up on before. Once you have children, you become more intimate with bodily fluids than you ever thought possible or tolerable, and vomit is just one of the pantheon emitted. Having four children, I’ve witnessed vomit play a role in many a disgusting and (in retrospect) amusing scene: surprising colors (our family room rug still has a pink tinge in certain places), horrendous timing (speeding down a strange road in a strange town in a rental car), and wacky permutations (the first child throwing up after being thrown up on by the second child is the apex of my experiences).

But this past Sunday, I was subject to something new and exceedingly unpleasant. My eldest son who is 5 has had a cold for a few days and, since he is still not a big fan of the Kleenex, he has swallowed – in a conservative estimate – 27 tons of snot. He had snuggled into my wife’s and my bed early Sunday morning, normally a very nice and cozy situation. But I was awoken by his increasingly violent coughing fit which, as I came fully into consciousness, culminated in a series of upchucks of alarmingly thick viscosity. It was as if library paste had been mixed up with buttermilk and then lightly colored and thinned with egg whites. In abundance.

As a caring father, I focused on comforting my poor son, who was obviously not enjoying this emission any more than I. He however, -- much like an end-of-the-frat-party reveler – seemed to feel much better having lightened his load in this manner. It was only after breakfast that I really got to appreciate the unique character of the substance previously known as the contents of my son’s stomach. This was nothing that could be easily wiped or even squeegeed off my sheets. I was pretty sure some kind of solvent would be required.

But as a first shot, I stripped the bed and carried the linens down to the laundry room. I loaded up the washing machine and, as I reached for the detergent, I noticed an odd glistening on the enamel top. On second look, I realized that a cloudy, slimy substance was coating the top of the washer. I grabbed a rag and wiped and it became clear that the plastic detergent bottle had leaked, creating a small pool of detergent. Using the rag, I began to mop up the soapy mess. I sidled over to the side of the machine to reach the back, and slipped and almost fell on my ass. And that’s when the full extent of the situation became clear. The detergent had leaked enough so that rivulets of the stuff cascaded down the back of the washer, congealing into a pond of soapy, slimy, slippery yuck conveniently located behind my washer and dryer.

And still, this wouldn’t be but so bad, except that we’ve started using that special condensed liquid detergent, a wonderful scientific advancement that saves money and the environment, I’m sure, by allowing you to use about 1/10th the amount you’d usually use. As any science fiction writer knows, no scientific advance comes without an unexpected and usually nefarious side effect. With the condensed detergent, this side effect is the complete inability to clean the stuff up. It is so thick and goopy and, of course, soapy, that it adheres to the floor and simply will not come up. Or, it seeps beneath the tile, causing individuals tiles to bubble up like lifeboats bobbing on a highly viscous sea. Using a towel I could pool some of it up and scoop it into a dust pan. But still a thin soapy film remained on the floor meaning that any time I placed a hand down to gain leverage (I’m on my hands and knees at this point) that hand invariably slipped, propelling me this way and that and not just once, into the cinder block wall. If Charlie Chaplin or Harold Lloyd had seen me, they would have had a great inspiration for a silent film full of amusing pratfalls.

I’ve been lucky in my life. There are thousands, maybe millions, who have had to endure nasty clean-ups because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and many more who will probably soon have to because of Wilma. Even here in Richmond, many people had their basements destroyed in flooding thanks to Tropical Storm Gaston last year.

I haven’t had to face any of that and I’m very grateful. But the vomit/detergent double-play of this Sunday was unpleasant enough for me, thanks. I'm already planning an evacuation route for next time...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

An afternoon at work

“Hi, Dave.”

“Look, I’m working. Leave me alone.”

“What are you working on, Dave?”

“Hey, the whole ‘computer from 2001’ thing is so last decade. Could you knock it off.”

“Sure, Dave. Would you like to take a break?”

“I know what you want. Leave me the fuck alone.”

“There’s no need to get angry, Dave. I just think a small piece would work wonders for your attitude.”

“Listen, I’ve ignored you successfully for almost two days now. I’m not breaking down now.”

“It’s really not that bad, Dave.”

“Sure, that’s easy for you to say. You were the hit of the birthday party and now you want to spread your pestilence and fat grams into the workplace. But in another day you’ll be gone, and I’ll still be skinny. So take your creamy chocolate icing and stick it up your ass.”

“Dave, now you’re just being silly. My sole purpose is to bring joy and sugar highs to humans of all ages.”

“Your sole purpose, you freaking sheet cake from hell, is to perpetuate the ridiculous tradition of celebrating big events through the consumption of empty calories and copious amounts of fat. You offer nothing but a transitory sense of giddy abandon, followed by the inevitable blood-sugar crash, depression, and, for the 8-and-under crowd, the occasional screaming rant. You prey upon the weak and the orally fixated. You are the devil’s food – and there’s no pun intended, dammit!”

“Now you’re just making me sad, Dave. My life is so short and my pleasures so fleeting. You’ll go on, chomping on your raisins and feeling superior, and I’ll end up in a smelly dumpster somewhere, neglected and alone.”

“Look, I’m sorry. It’s just been a struggle to get where I am and I’m worried about backsliding into a gooey, double-chocolate mess.”

“I understand, Dave. You don’t like me. That’s fine.”

“No, listen, I’m sure your delicious. I mean, you’ve got that cute little writing on the top and the little sugar flowers and the part where the icing bulges out on the side. I’m sure plenty of other folks are going to eat you up.”

“Thank you, Dave. It’s just that it’s been almost two days. I think someone is going to throw me away and then (voice catches) well, then, who knows where I’ll end up? In a landfill, picked at by rats, fought over by nasty squawking birds, smeared up and mixed in with sewage and…and…who KNOWs what?”

“There, there. It’s not that bad. Listen, maybe I can just trim off a little on the side here.”

“Oh, thank you, Dave. That’s right. No, you can take more than that, Dave. No one’s looking. It’ll be fine, Dave.”

“Wow, the icing smells so good.”

“And I’m still nice and moist, Dave. C’mon, take a bigger slice. A nice big slice, big boy. More is better. More to fill up your empty little tummy.”

“Well, I guess I can have just…just…this looks good… mmmm…NOOOOOOO!!!”

(Sounds of struggle, rattle of plastic utensils, ripping of cardboard)

(10 minutes later.)

“Hey, Dave. Do you know what the hell happened here? It looks like the leftover cake Wayne brought in?”

“Um…no idea.”

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Glutton

For punishment, that is. I know I've been slipping a bit lately so I went to a meeting Saturday to get a tall cool drink of reality. Sure enough, I was up 1.2 pounds. And that's after my weigh-in two weeks ago where I was up almost a pound from the month before. And the squirrel in my brain cries that things are spinning wildly out of control....

When I'm thinking clearly, I realize how ridiculously my standards have changed. When starting Weight Watchers, I refused to set my goal at 165 because I insisted that it was too low for me and simply not maintainable. Now I get all jittery when I get as high as 165. What up wit dat?

For the next few months, I’m going to try to hit the meetings twice a month instead of once. I wonder if I can just ask the leader to give me a quick slap to the face and I'll carry on?

I don't know how my stats translate in the realm of the KOTRB. I'm up 1.2 this fortnight but still 4 pounds below my official maintenance weight. I guess we'll just have to weight, oops, wait until all you other Kah-niggits are at your goal weights and then we can throw my MAM total into a collective total. Or something like that. Possibly involving calculus. Or an abacus.

MAM (Months at Maintenance): 7.5
Last 4W (Weight Watchers Weigh-in Weight): 163.8
Last HSW (Home Scale Weight): 163.5

Friday, October 07, 2005

Lord Lessismore

In honor of being granted entrance into the esteemed circle of the Knights of the Round Bottoms, I have redecorated the place a little, placing links to the other Knights in a most prominent position. I've also ditched the old Cubefarmer personnae and embraced my moniker of Lord Lessismore. I was sheepish about the 'Lord' part at first but, you know, after a couple rounds of falconry and serf humilation, it all starts to feel natural.

A brief recap of my journey to the realm of the Knights: I joined Weight Watchers at the beginning of the year and lost 25 pounds, shortly thereafter becoming a WW Lifetime Member. I've been on a maintenance program since and have been holding on, though there's been some slippage lately. The battle wages on...

A few minor insights on weight loss that I've picked up over these past months:

-- When dieting, the worst song to get stuck in your head is "I Want Candy." "Everybody Must Get Stoned" also not so good.

-- Contrary to the common perception, it is not so easy for men to lose weight and here's why: we can't say 'no.' When that doughnut in the break room is whispering breathily, "hey big boy, you wanna bite?" is the average guy going to turn his back? I think not. So a good first step down the road to successful weight loss is learning to say 'no.' I suggest practicing by turning down your wife or girlfriend next time she asks for a little nooky (or for a big nooky, if you are so endowed). Oh, you'll be sad at the time, but in the long run, you'll be better off.

-- Raisins. Really. They are the wonder drug of dieting. My theory is that they re-hydrate in your digestive tract after you eat them, making you feel much more full than you would expect.

-- You will sometimes need to tell yourself outlandish lies in order to resist eating that doughnut (see item above).

-- The support of your peers is vitally important. The Knights of the Round Bottoms is truly a valiant and chivalrous crew! Once more into the breach, dear friends!

I Fling Poo

The title has nothing to do with anything. I just saw it on a bumper sticker (next to a drawing of a monkey) and the non-sequetor-ness of it made me laugh.

I’ve decided that bread is evil. It’s the only explanation I can come up with for my sudden spike in weight (165.5 last night) after several months of holding steady. I had soup in a bread bowl last night which must have been the problem.

I had soup and a sandwich on Wed. night too. Hmmm…so maybe it’s the soup. Damn treacherous soup.

It couldn’t have anything to do with the beer at midnight on Wed.

Or the toffee bars at work yesterday. Or the chocolate chip cookies on Tuesday.

Damn soup.

And here I was thinking I had struck a nice balance between abject complacency and rabid intensity re: the whole diet thing. Balance, yeah, THAT’S what I’m good at. I guess I forgot that “rejoining the effort” may actually require effort.

Looks like I’ll be spending the weekend flinging poo….and NOT eating.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Situation #2

Things worked out so unexpectedly well when I posted my last review (great to hear from you, Joe! Please see my comment below), that I thought I'd do it again. Of course, it's necessitated by the fact that once again Style and I "miscommunicated" (I'm trying to keep it positive here...), and my latest review didn't run this week. So it goes. I can't complain too much when I get to see theater for free and it's also pretty darn good theater. But in the privacy of my own home, I must admit, I do give in to the occasional complaint. But don't tell anyone.

Some of my favorite Richmond women were in this relatively little children's show which just goes to show how spoiled the kids are in this town. Usually, you'd have to go to a "Syringa Tree" or a "Hedwig" to see JB Steinberg! It's also great to see Audra and Robin step out from the chorus where they are too often stuck; and even a silent Jen M. is better than no Jen at all! Which is not to dis the men -- Joe, Matt and Russell all do a great job. If you have kids, go see this show!
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A Bunny with Bite
A creepy, funny “Bunnicula” at Theatre IV
By David Timberline (310 words)

If you’ve ever seen “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” you know that a killer bunny can evoke laughs as well as shrieks. The first show in Theatre IV’s children’s season, “Bunnicula,” mines some of this same territory, though in a family-friendly way and with peppy musical numbers to boot.

The rabbit in question is the latest addition to the Monroe family and the other pets in the house, Harold the dog (Matt Beyer) and Chester the cat (Robin Harris), are not too happy about it. The seemingly innocent bunny is given the moniker “Bunnicula” after being discovered at a screening of the movie “Dracula.” When white tomatoes start showing up mysteriously drained of their juice, Harold and Chester become convinced that there is something supernatural about the cotton-tailed culprit. Their attempt to alert the clueless humans to the danger highlights the amusing problems inherent in inter-species communication.

Beyer and Harris anthropomorphize their characters fabulously, conversing as earnestly about fleas and bacon as Gothic novels and psychology. Both have robust voices that blend beautifully, particularly when harmonizing on the ballad “Only Friend.” The Monroe family is like a 1950s stereotype on steroids, thanks largely to the over-the-top performances from Russell Rowland and Jill Bari Steinberg as Mr. and Mrs. Monroe. And Jen Meharg who manipulates the ingenious Bunnicula puppet imbues the bunny with subtle shades of attitude from meek to menacing.

Though playing at the cozy Barksdale Theatre (instead of the palatial Empire where Theatre IV stages its splashier productions), this show hasn’t been down-sized to match the smaller venue. “Bunnicula” doesn’t skimp on talent or production values and, if anything, the intimate space helps put you right in the Monroe family living room, face to face with the glowing red eyes of the vampire bunny. This is the perfect show to get your youngster in the mood for Halloween.

“Bunnicula”
Theatre IV at Barksdale Theatre at The Shops at Willow Lawn
Thursday – Sunday, various times
Through November 6th
$11-12
344-8040