Friday, November 26, 2010

Let's Talk Turkey

Thanksgiving was spent at Debbie's twin sister Dennie's house with most of the family there.

Since the Gallagher clan has more than (what seems like) 500 sons, daughters, grandkids, great grandkids and dogs ... there were only about 20 in attendance. Actually it was exactly 20 ... I know that for a fact based on Dennie's precise plate count (which I will tell you about later in this writing).

The morning started out with a trip to Menorah Manor to pick up Sam. He was dressed and ready ... although he somehow thought we were coming at 4 instead of 2:30 ... and he was wearing his favorite Haband slacks and purple shirt. His Habands were ordered from a catalogue that we know well, because we hear the story repeatedly about how he opened an account, got confused on the "discount", stopped his account, ordered more and opened another account, got upset and cancelled that one as well.

Sammy was pretty chatty on the way to Dennie's house. His big topic of discussion was produce. He just could not understand why the "Manor" was serving oranges from California. He also wanted to know where all the Chiquita bananas were. He hasn't seen any lately and that disturbed him as well.    

When you are 89, apparently food is the main thing you talk about when you're not talking about bruising and bathroom skills. For my Dad ... sports is the other thing on his mind. Thanksgiving Day football ... especially because the Saints were playing ... was his main focus when he hit the door and shuffled his walker to a big chair right in front of the TV.

The usual pre-turkey conversations took place ... Mark and I talked about gambling, Debbie and Lee talked about real estate (which prompted yet another diatribe about the banks and their sinister plot to punish people who want to close on their homes on time), the kids were all talking to themselves by cell phone, Larry talked about his gall bladder (so did all the sisters), Kevin talked about fishing and Kelli talked about her kitchen expansion and a hilarious discussion that her builder and the interior designer had about the size of the refrigerator handles (short and thick or long and thin).   

Patty talked about .... something.

Despite Larry blowing his nose, Sam coughing up pieces of turkey and Kelli gagging ... we made it through the meal.

During dinner, Lydia, a family friend came in late. It was then that I found out about the plate count. You see, when she tried to serve herself, she mentioned to Dennie that there were no plates.

"Of course there are plates. You are the 20th guest and I bought exactly 20 plates from Sam's Club."

Mark looked over at my plate and said ... "Joel's got two."

He was right. My expensive plastic plate had leaked so someone had double plated me.

"Use the second one that Joel has." Dennie said.

I lifted my other plate and cleaned it off for our other guest.

"See. I knew I had 20," Dennie said.

"Dennie. Why did you buy exactly 20?" I asked ... not even bothering to ask why we couldn't use one real plate or heaven forbid buy more.

"Well .... because that's how they come. In 20s."


Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Port-o-let Stays!

Here's a new construction update:

1. New Living Room Table ... actually I should say table(s) because Debbie found the perfect pair of matching living room tables. We now eat here, use our computers here and watch the dust and smell the paint from here. I bet you thought they were TV trays. Me too!

2. The New Piano Cover ... This is pretty neat because I had no idea that you could actually drape a piano in plastic and then put a drop cloth on top of that. It really protects it well ... I think the last time I played it was in 2009 just before the fourth or fifth home makeover.

3. New office/great room/dining room/ library.... I'm not sure what to call this room because it's not quite finished and Debbie has changed her mind quite a bit with bookshelves or a desk or comfy chairs or tv sets ... but whatever it is ... I hope we keep the neat painter's platform and roller extension. I'll tell you what ... not many homes have that inside.

4. Pool and patio .... This is the most exciting feature of the house. As you can tell by the picture ... we are really close to being finished with this area. The hole for the pool is about 4 feet around and (as you see) the pool chairs already are in place.

You know ... I think that our next door neighbor has a heck of a nerve calling us white trash!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Do Over: My First Real Job

First published 10/4/09

Atlanta seemed like a good place to find a job.

So when I graduated with my Graphic Design degree, I followed my instincts. I moved in with and mooched off my ex-roommate Jeff and his wife Sheryl, hit the streets of Atlanta with my portfolio and waited to be discovered by all the top agencies in town. Why wouldn't they want me? I looked the part ... my hair was much longer and I had a moustache. My portfolio contained examples of nude studies, watercolors, silk screened logos and cartoons.

My only real concern was whether I would accept a $100,000 a year as a starting salary. I knew I would have to negotiate.

Surprisingly, I wasn't courted by the top agencies. Can you believe it? In fact, I didn't even get in the door to most of them. When I did get appointments, they were with administrative assistants, file clerks and once I think I met with someone in maintenance.

I lowered my expectations after a month.

Jeff and Sheryl were about ready for me to move on. I was picking up signals after they left a note on the sofa bed saying "We think it's time for you to move on".

I had one interview left that was arranged by a friend of mine from school. It was on Peachtree Street (that narrows it down for you, of course. Those familiar with Atlanta know that EVERY street is Peachtree). I was nervous but I remained calm and convinced them that I could handle any job big or small. There was a lot of discussion ... it was a big commitment and it required some negotiation. But I got it ... my first real job ... and I did it on my own.

It took me the rest of the summer to finish painting that wall in the Drug Overdose Suicide Prevention Center.        

Friday, November 19, 2010

Reality Spin-Offs

After my missive on Dancing With the Stars ... I decided it was time for me to come up with a positive spin on reality shows and competitions that have some REAL meaning. I came up with a few ideas:

The Apprentice Role Reversal

The tables are turned on Donny Trump as HE competes with other famous bosses like Steve Jobs and Richard Branson in a series of apprentice like scenarios. The two teams go back to college and try to get through a statistics class, they are given jobs cleaning hotel rooms in time for new guests to arrive and they have to figure out among themselves how to give something valuable to a homeless family.

The boardroom will be presided over by an apprentice who will berate Trump for his ignorance in statistics, lack of energy in cleaning a room and given counseling on how to have compassion for others.

By the way ... He will probably be FIRED.

Survivor ... The Teen Edition

A dozen teens are dropped in an urban setting to fend for themselves without the help of any electronic devices. They will have access to pencils and paper. Of course ... they will have training in how to write, spell and speak.

If any do survive, they will be reunited with their families and appear on a new series: Family Makeovers.

The Great American Race ... Dysfunctional Team Competition

Recently separated couples are forced to work together as teams as they compete for prizes like separate vacations with their respective attorneys, free listings on websites like and dividing up the lost assets from the losing couples.

They will travel around the world encountering a series of challenges like ... Calling their children and deciding on holiday visitations, surviving a one hour counseling session with a Christian marriage counselor and dropping in on mutual friends to discuss why they are getting divorced.

Not surprisingly ... There are no winners in this competition so prizes are never awarded.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dancing With the Stars ... Really?

One of the dumbest TV shows on the air is "Dancing With the Stars".

Yes I said it ... and certainly I have deeply offended some of you. I also realize that I might have lost half of my readers with that comment. The other half will leave me when I tell you that the second dumbest was "American Idol" (but I’ll save that for another day).

To be fair, I could only watch about an hour of each. I made it through the last few minutes by pretending that I was watching "Saturday Night Live".

I mean ... Really? A bunch of wannabe/ used-to-be/never-were celebrities trying to compete by doing tangos in tights .... Really? Whiny judges who berate fat people for not being light on their feet ... Really? Were they ever light on their feet? I should say … Were they ever NOT light on their feet?

I have to say that the creators of the show did a heck of a job making this one of the most watched programs in history (I just made that up … but it’s probably true.) The popularity is truly cult proportions. I hear people talking about it everywhere. Teams, individual performances, scores, personal info … if I didn’t know any better, I would swear they were talking about Kurt Warner’s passing average instead of his score for creative use of costume. And what’s with Warren Sapp and Jerry Rice … I am embarrassed for both of them.

Just like other sports , this show has its share of accidents:

Marie Osmond fainted after her performance in week five of the competition, after which the program immediately went into commercial; however, Osmond was able to regain composure and continued with the program. (She also had a resurgence of her career).

During week seven of Season 6, Cristián de la Fuente suffered a ruptured tendon in his left biceps muscle during his performance. The judges critiqued him according to his performance up to the injury. He was sent to the hospital immediately and missed the end of the show. (I don’t know who the heck he is … but it was important enough for him to appear in Wikepedia.)

In Season 8, after landing on a wireless microphone pack and injuring his back during a dress rehearsal, Steve-O was unable to perform live. (What a jackass).

I wondered about the scoring system so I checked it out online …

The scoring begins with the judges' marks. Each judge gives a 1 to 10 score, for a total score of 3 to 30. When multiple performances are scored, only the cumulative total counts. The contestants' "judges' shares" are calculated as the percentage of the total number of points awarded to all contestants that evening. (For example, if a team earned 20 points on a night when the judges awarded 200 points, their judges' share would be 20/200 = 10%.) This percentage is then added to the percentage of North American votes received by each contestant. The bottom two couples are identified in the results show, and the couple with the lowest combined total is eliminated.[1] Season 8 added an occasional "dance-off," in which contestants could re-do one of their dances, in an effort to improve their judges' score. This might be discontinued due to the eliminated couple always scoring higher than or equivalent to the couple that was saved.


It’s really very simple. There are judges who give a percentage of the total and “voters” who call in their votes. If you’re wondering why some dancers like Bristol Palin are still dancing, it’s because the popular vote REALLY counts and the judges votes REALLY don’t. So if you are someone that people love to watch … you’re in!

In April 2010 it was revealed that Kate Gosselin had e-mailed friends and family asking them to vote as many as ten times each. ("Whether such ballot-stuffing is possible under ABC's voting algorithm remains to be determined." said an ABC spokesperson.)

Okay … maybe I was too rough on them.

Say … does anybody know what happened to the other Jennifer Grey? You know the one who looked like Jennifer Grey?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Monday

Some TRULY Demotivational Posters

love this

see me .... feel me ...

Mini Me is right behind him

enough said

sure laugh .... you KNOW we've all been there.

Okay ... your turn .... add your own captions.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

DO OVER: Fresh Meat

Watching the LSU/ Alabama game this afternoon made me a little nostalgic for my college days. I decided to reprint an earlier post that hopefully will put a smile on your face. 

Fresh Meat (9/10/09)

One day you're on top of the world. And the next, the world's on top of you.

Senior year of high school was my coming out party. I had finally made it to the rank of cool and accepted. My skin had cleared up (kinda), I could speak a whole sentence without putting my head down and I learned how to spit water between my front teeth. The latter was clearly the most important.

Just when I thought I made it, I began my freshman year at Louisiana State University and slid from hot shot to not-shot.

Freshman hazing was still a ritual at LSU when I was admitted (just my luck ... it was outlawed the very next year). This was the practice of making all freshman feel as though they are the lowest form of life. Apparently it was started in the 1920's by upperclassmen who figured out if the freshmen boys had their head's shaved, the upperclassmen would have an edge on the "Fresh Meat" ... the freshmen girls. So all freshmen went through this ritual when they started classes.

If this wasn't bad enough, the freshmen were also commanded to wear little beanies with the name "Dog" and their last names written on the underside of the brim. When they were confronted by upperclassmen they had to do whatever they were commanded to do like pushups, washing a car, barking, telling the upperclassmen how hansdsome and smart they are ... everyday stuff.

There was also the tradition of wearing pajamas to the first game. It was mandatory ... if you didn't they would kill your firstborn child or something. So I remember sitting with the other freshmen and my roommates watching the game with our dumb beanies on ... no hair ... and pjs. what I didn't know was that at halftime we were supposed to throw all the pajamas off onto the field. Apparently everyone else knew, because I was the only one that didn't wear clothes under my pjs.

All freshmen had to take ROTC. The choices were Air Force or Army  ... I should say it was chosen for you. All freshmen lined up in the big Cow Palace (the Ag Center) and were plucked one by one ... right and left .... Army and Air Force. Well, if there's one thing you learn early it's DON'T get picked for the Army. You had to march with a rifle, classes started much earlier, uniforms were wool and much hotter. So I cleverly started to trade places in line as I looked to the front and counted the numbers, playing the odds. Army, Air Force, Army, Air Force ... Army ... "Well hello Mr. Momberg. Welcome to the Army!"My roommates of course got Air Force. They marched at 10AM and then took naps in their cute little blue short sleeve shirts. I marched at 6AM until forever with my M1 rifle ... on which we had to constantly have "loading" exercises where you stick your thumb precariously into the cylinder while pulling out quickly before the bolt snapped it off ... like our sergeant's thumb. 

By the way ... Army had the nickname of "Ground Pounders" and Air Force were "Flyboys".

But what really made that first semester so special was the fourth roommate we had in the dorm suite, Phil Miley, the freshman punter from Bogalusa, Louisiana. Phil was 6'8" and weighed all of 300+ pounds ... and as gentle a soul as you would ever meet. He was soft spoken, had a Looooosiannna drawl and  always willing to lend a hand when someone needed help.

I think it was the first week that Phil freaked me out. He walked over and sat on my bed in the middle of the night. Actually he sat on my legs and he also happened to be stark naked. Phil stared down at me without any expression ... just staring ... no hint of his signature grin.

"Phhhphhhphhil?" I calmly said. "You're ... um ... you're sitting on my legs".

No movement.

"Well ... really it's okay if if if you wwwwant to do that."

Still no movement.

"You wanna trade beds? Is that what you want? Sure ... I will. Don't like yours, huh?"

Phil calmly got up, turned and went back to his bed.

I, of course, didn't sleep (that night or any other). I got up cautiously that morning at 4AM to polish my shoes for ROTC and tiptoed out the door. I saw Phil later and he acted as if nothing happened. He was his old jovial self and in fact never mentioned again. But I was always sleeping with one eye open never knowing when he might get "frisky" again.

Months later at dinner, I remember,  he turned to me and said, "Hey, know what I forgot to tell you. Sometimes I walk in my sleep ... probably won't happen here but just in case ... didn't want you to be concerned."

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...