Monday, February 16, 2009


Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern is a documentary-style travel and cuisine program hosted by Andrew Zimmern on the Travel Channel. The first season debuted on Monday, February 26, 2007. Bizarre Foods “focuses on regional cuisine from around the world which is typically perceived by the American masses as being gross, unique, or, of course, bizarre.” In each episode, Zimmern focuses on the cuisine of a particular country or region, and shows how the food is procured, where it is served, and, usually without hesitation, he eats it.

The many foods sampled by Zimmern in the show include goose intestines, callos (blood sausage and tripe casserole), a still-beating frog heart, frog ovary soup, fresh bull testicle and scrotum stew, mangrove worms, lamb’s eye, poached calf’s brain, cow's stomach lining, baby eels, grouper throat, mosquito eggs, chicken feet, fermented fish heads, jellied moose nose, stinky tofu, chicken uterus, live lobster, maggot pupae, tarantula pops, cockroaches, camel paw, pig stomach, snake penis, fried deer penis, yak penis, bull penis, cow udder, and live sea squirt, among others.

I’ve seen worms wiggle in his mouth, insects dart across his tongue, crawl on his lips to escape, lobster stir on his tongue. I can’t stomach it when he eats live things. I know food doesn’t begin at the grocery store but I don’t want to eat something that is eyeballing me, or feel feet still kicking as a living things passes down my throat. Nausea. I can’t stand to look at half the “dinners” he eats, enthusiastically smacking his lips. After several episodes, I simply swore I would not eat anything that is alive. Period. No exception. The other day I was in the grocery store shopping for dessert. I love ice cream. I’m allergic to eggs, so I was reading the ingredients, and I discovered that all the ice cream brands at the store include “a live culture.”

Ice Cream! I scream. You scream. We all scream. No more ice cream. Live culture in ice cream!

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Took a Shower with Madonna

I took a shower with Madonna last Saturday morning. I like hot showers with a lot of steam. We were a little crowded, but we were hot, steamy and quick, about four minutes.

Earlier last week, I showered with The Killers. We sing great harmony together. The stall was filled and the glass door steamed like milkweed but we made a phenomenal sound. “I hear them knocking and they’re gonna break down the door. I hear them knocking and they’re gonna come back for more.” We rocked! We rocked!

Ever since I attached waterproof speakers to the inside of the shower stall, I’ve been singing every morning. In fact, singing afternoons and evenings too, in the yard, in the car, while doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen. Doing duets with Jason Mraz, harmonizing with Of Montreal, Blind Pilot, Cold War Kids, soaping to the goldies (Bruce Springsteen, the Bee Gees, Beatles, Stones), rinsing with The Spoons, Lil Wayne, 50 Cents.

Occassionally, say with Freddie Mercury, Roy Orbison, Aretha Franklin, Sam Harris, Rufus Wainwright--I might as well step out of the stall and wipe dry because they reach notes I can’t reach. But it’s a lot of fun trying.

My partner thinks I’m a noise-maker, but I’m not. I’m energy in the flesh, a whole lotta loving going on.

Is Divorce, Foreclosure, and Crime in the Future of Dick and Jane?

Dick and Jane marry, have a daughter, Sally Mae, a son, Freddie Mac, and a dog, Dick and Jane work long hours. While Jane prepares dinner from the groceries she shopped for after work, Dick puts a load of kids clothes in the washing machine, (clothes he will later place on hangers or fold neatly) helps Sally Mae with her lessons, and changes Freddie Mac’s diaper. He also gives fresh water. No one in this household, including, barks at another.

Across town, another Dick and Jane marry, have a daughter, DJ, a son, JR., and a dog, Bow Wow. Both work outside the home. Dick yells at Jane to have dinner early. Jane yells at Dick to help with the kids, the house, the laundry. Dick always wants sex. When he doesn’t get it, he kicks Bow Wow. Bow Wow barks. Every third week, Jane kicks the kitchen cabinets and curses Dick while the kids run for cover. Dick goes to a bar, comes home hours later, says he’s sorry, and wants to have sex. Bow Wow barks.

The Difference between homosapien and homicidal may be situational. After George W. Bush and Dick Cheaney busted the economy with their top 1% of incomes friends, mostly self-centered, self-righteous liars and deniars (sic. republican’ts and republic-cons), Sally Mae fell in with the wrong crowd and Freddie Mac started pulling off his diaper and using Dick’s favorite chair as a crapper. Meanwhile across town, DJ was arrested for theft at a Wally World, JR joined a violent gang , and Bow Wow bit the mailman. Jane lost her job. Her boss said she didn’t need it as much as a man who had to support his family, and that pissed off Dick because he didn’t make enough from his hourly wage to pay for everything alone.

Maybe this doesn’t prove anything about homosapiens, but it sure feels better to hear our leaders say, “One Nation, One People” instead of “You People” and “Our People.”

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Man’s Land

I leave Oklahoma City on a four-lane highway. The far right lane sign says it will close in 500 feet. Five hundred feet later, the far left lane sign warns that it will also close. I stay in the middle left bumper-to-bumper lane. Cars speed by in the far left and right lanes and disappear. Eventually, I realize that the road signs lied, and drivers have been speeding past and forcibly pulling in front of other cars. Now, all lanes are packed.

I ride the bumper of the car ahead, a white Chevy pick-up pulling a Sportsman Camper. It sports a window sticker that says, “Be a Flirt. Raise your shirt.” I consider it. My car temperature gauge is 104 f. A half hour later, left and right lanes open. I see a small town ahead. A sign warns, “One hundred miles to the next McDonald’s.” I enter No Man’s Land.

I see my 14th “Route 66 Museum at the Next Exit,” and the signs: Amarillo, 71 miles. Amarillo, 64 miles. I count 36 electric poles between House A and House B. Amarillo, 50 miles. Welcome to Gray County. It is raining. Near Groom, Texas, an ugly, cluttered little town, is an ugly, plain cross billed as “The Largest Cross in the Western Hemisphere.” A monstrosity, really, with the biggest gift shop I’ve seen in long while. Nearby is a water tower labeled as Britten, USA, that leans like the Tower of Piza. “Where am I?” I wonder.

Amarillo, 40 miles. Amarillo 35 miles. 79 electric poles between homes. Cows huddle in patches of shade. The smell of horses and cattle lingers from Oklahoma. Amarillo begins to feel like a lost civilization, a strange thing to say about a city in north Texas. The longer I’m in Oklahoma and Texas, the stranger things seem to get. At a gas station is a twenty-something woman dressed like Alice in Wonderland buying cigarettes at the counter from a man who looks like Mr. Clean with a nose ring. Two men at the gas pump wear belt buckles the size of hubcaps. After a while, my perspective becomes Oklatexed and I’m thinking: Somewhere in this world, the great grandson of Count Dracula prefers to drink a cold can of diet blood.

I know I need to get out of Texas and Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is too much like Kafka’s description of it. Everywhere I stop for a break in Texas, locals at the tables talking about God always seem to be conforming to each other: “Being good won’t get you into Heaven. Being nice won’t get you into Heaven. Being compassionate won’t get you into Heaven. Being respectful won’t get you into Heaven. Being tolerant won’t get you into Heaven.” I’m thinking, if Heaven isn’t filled with the good, nice, compassionate, respectful and tolerant, who’d want to go there? Why not just stay in northern Texas?”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Trivial Pursuit of Happiness

I arrive in Oklahoma City at 1:00 a.m. I’m beyond exhaustion and can’t find a hotel room. There’s a coaches conference. There must be 20,000 coaches, every public school’s head coaches, assistant coaches, special coaches, coaches for baseball, basketball, cross country, football, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, volleyball and wrestling, middle school, high school, community college, university.

Next morning I go to nearby Denny’s for breakfast. They could have been holding the conference there. You can’t miss them. Stout shoulders, military haircut, developing pouches, school colors, enormously muscled calves, loud voices and lots of eggs. Most have had broken noses, sport a facial scar, and throb their jaws like John McCain.

On the return trip, I stop in Oklahoma City again. There isn’t anywhere else to stop. Again, I search for a room. A police conference and a horse convention are in town. In Denny’s, they all look like coaches. Except the horsemen wear spurs on their boots to keep people waiting in line behind them from standing too close.

As I travel, I realize that I’ve watched too much of Jeopardy, Password, Wheel of Fortune & other game shows. I’m full of esoteric knowledge. It’s as if my life has been a pursuit of trivia. But I figure it will come in handy someday. When St. Pete meets me at the Gate & tells me I have good references but must pass a quiz to get in, I’ll be ready. Who Invented the Cotton Gin? George Washington Carver is most famous for which invention? How many times a month does a snake crawl out of its skin? I’ll know the answers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Tired Hand

On a recent car trip through New Mexico, I stopped near Alamogordo for lunch at a cafe called “The Hired Hand.” It had lots of ambiance. On one dining room wall was a sign, “I’m on a thirty-day diet. So far I’ve lost 15 days.” Last weekend, their ice cream scoop was missing They believe a ghost hangs out in the kitchen and took it.

In three more days, “The Hired Hand” will feed no more mouths. The friendly waitress, with plain blue tattoos on both wrists, has worked here for 18 months, and never missed a day. No one else lasted more than a month, she says. Elton John is singing, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” on the radio. Above the urinal in the mens room is a hand-sewn notice: “I aim to keep this bathroom clean. Your aim would help.”

When I first entered Alamogordo, just past Holloman Air Force Base, the first business I saw was an adult video store, its parking lot filled with pick-ups. It’s probably located as close to the base as zoning allows. This area appeals to a lot of retired veterans.

It may be that in a military retirement area, an adult video store will always attract more customers than a cafe with a ghost in the kitchen, but I think “The Hired Hand” closed because of its name. This is just my psychological view. I’m not a Jung man. I saw the adult video store first, and was probably thinking unconsciously about it when I arrived at the cafe, and looked up at the sign. Instead of seeing, “The Hired Hand,” I misread it as “The Tired Hand.” My reading was, no doubt,a Freudian slip, but I no longer had an appetite for a sandwich you eat from your hands.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Clothing-Optional Getaway

Once in a while I need to leave town, option a luxurious vacation resort, be anonymous, and relax. I went to Virginia the other day via internet to save gas, then optioned a quick side trip to Key West, Florida. It took less than five seconds to go from Virginia to the southernmost city in the continental US. Internet travel at its best.

Once there, I took the IPix Virtual Panoramic Tours to Bahama village, Clinton Square, and Higgs Beach. I also walked poolside at a clothing-optional hotel for men. I’d guess that the other men were between 40-50 years younger than me. I wouldn’t take off my clothes around them. Kind of like revealing that you were a chimpanzee before you took up golf.

But the beach, pool, hotel and rules provide that ageless attraction of seeing how the other half live, the photoshopped half that lack bald spots, or a bridge of false teeth. They spend loads of time in the fitness room, have little in common with my everyday life, my aches and pains--an altogether different kind of morning stiffness.