Friday, April 29, 2011

Was That Shave For Here ... Or To Go?


Check out this story in Key West. You may have read about this ... if not ... it's a "cut above" the rest:


WOMAN CRASHES WHILE SHAVING HER PRIVATE PARTS


We all know the dangers of driving while texting or talking on a cell phone. Now Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don't try to shave your privates while driving, either.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle accident on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.
It wasn't a close shave -- it was a total wreck.
"She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit," Trooper Gary Dunick said. "If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot ... who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, 'Nothing will ever beat this.' Well, this takes it."
Megan Mariah Barnes should not have been driving.
The day before the wreck Barnes was convicted in an Upper Keys court of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license.
After the accident Barnes and her ex-husband, Charles Judy, drove another half-mile, then switched seats. Judy then claimed that he was the driver.
But the burns on Judy's chest from the passenger-side airbag deploying told another story. The airbag in the steering wheel did not deploy, according to FHP.
Troopers charged Barnes with driving with a revoked license, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a wreck with injuries and driving with no insurance.
Remember: stay focused when driving and use razor-sharp judgement.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Rerun


I wrote this last year at Easter time ... it was too good not to republish:

Keli was driving her two daughters home after a visit to the school's science lab. Her younger daughter showed her the "lion bunny" who just gave birth to 8 new little lion bunnies.

Here is the conversation that  followed in the car:

Keli ... "Eight Bunnies, huh? Did you see the eggs?"

Daughter #1 ... "Eggs? What are you talking about?"

Keli ... "Eggs ... you know the things that the bunnies came out of?"

(Silence)

Daughter #2 ... "Mom, there weren't any eggs."

Keli ... "Oh yeah? Well, then ... how were the bunnies born?"

Daughter #1 ... "Seriously mom? They have babies like you do."

Keli ... "Well ... um ... I knew that ... I was just testing you ..."

Daughter #1 ... "No you weren't ... you thought they came from eggs."

Later that night ...

Keli ... "You know when I asked you about the eggs ... here's the thing. Easter baskets have always come with ... what? Eggs and chocolate bunnies ... right? Do you ever see a chocolate chicken in the basket? No. So ... logically you would think that bunnies lay eggs ... right?"

(Silence, again)

Daughter #1 ... "Sure ... when you are 3 years old ... Mom, please don't tell anyone else that, okay?"



Hey Keli, I believe you  ... and FYI ... I did find proof of a possible suspect (left). 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Bionic Sam

Sam had surgery on Thursday.

He had a small tumor on his bladder that was discovered last week. It was not really causing him any discomfort. For most normal people, this tumor would be painful and irritating. Sam feels no pain. He really doesn't. The man has had both triple and quadruple bypass surgery and never felt a thing.

His recovery a few years ago from a life threatening lung infection surprised the entire medical staff of the hospital. His breathing was so labored for so long that the nurses who were caring for him said it was like he was running consecutive marathons every day for a week.

On the day that we thought would be his last, Sam looked at me and said through his breathing mask, "Joel, can you turn up the volume on the TV ... I'm missing the Bucs game."

Days later, he had no memory of the entire hospital stay.

So on Wednesday night before the surgery, I talked to him on the phone.

Me ... "Dad are you doing okay?"

Sam ... "Listen ... you know this procedure I have tomorrow?"

Me ... "Yes."

Sam ... "Should I worry?"

Me ... "Are you nervous?"

Sam ... "No. I just didn't know if I should worry right now."

Me ... "No."

He went right to sleep.

The next day he happily flirted with the nurses and asked lots of questions (all unrelated to surgery like ... When can I eat? What time is it? Where's the TV?) He didn't understand what all the fuss was about. He thought his procedure was supposed to be just like getting your teeth cleaned.

Soon, the orderly came to get him. We followed behind as he was wheeled down the corridor.

The orderly asked him his name ... Sam told him and asked him as well.

Orderly ... "I'm Linnis."

Sam ... "Lemon?"

Orderly ... "No, Linnis."

Sam ... "Leon?"

Orderly ... "No, LINNIS."

Sam ... "Leonard?"

Orderly ... "NO, LINNIS." He was practically screaming in Sam's ear. "L-I-N-N-I-S."

Sam ... "Oh ... That's a crazy name. How'd you get that name?"

Orderly ... (Smiling) "My mom must have known I'd be special."

Sam ... "There's a special?"

Linnis wheeled him in ... and an hour later ... he was in recovery. As soon as he woke up he ordered a chicken salad sandwich, chips, a coke and dessert. Unaccustomed to patients ordering full meals as soon as they were awake, the nurses scrambled to find him some food.    

Obviously, he did fine. The tumor was removed and no longer a threat. Sam's back at Menorah Manor safe and sound. Well ... fairly safe ... We did get a call yesterday that he fell in the shower. When a 90 year old falls in the shower, it can be very serious.

The nurse said, "He's fine ... some bruises ... but ... interestingly ... he has no pain at all."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Memories

Easter is a really cool holiday.

I remember when I was growing up I was so jealous because I thought it was the day that Catholic kids went to the store to buy those little chickens dyed blue or green or purple or yellow.

My brother and I would plead with our parents to buy us a couple ... to no avail. Apparently, Jewish children were not allowed to have chickens as pets (according to my mother). They are dirty animals who scratch and poop alot and Catholics don't mind the noise and the mess. Chickens are what we cook for dinner.  

The last statement was the one I remember so well because I KNEW it was just an excuse to not get us one. Our oven had never been used ... well, maybe to store packaged goods. Esther didn't cook.

And there were those awesome easter eggs!

We loved those too. Wayne and I thought that maybe that was where the chicks came from ... so we begged for those too.

We got plastic instead.

I knew at a young age that I wanted to marry a Catholic girl

... or two.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's Truly an Art

This weekend, we took a stroll through Vinoy Park to enjoy the sights, tastes and sounds of The Mainsail Art Festival.

(Translation ... Debbie told me we were going to the Art Festival to buy a painting for one of our 23 blank walls ... on the way to Home Depot to get a leaf blower.)

We didn't make it past the first tent.

Myles, my "former" brother in law, was passing out flyers for his son Shane's business venture. Pam, his wife and daughter Kimmie trailed behind. Shane has a website for artists ... great concept ... with a few exceptions ... there is no cost to the artist, Shane gets no commission and his dad has to buy a piece of art from each artist.

More friends strolled by to talk.

Scott and Beth ... Janie and Ron ... Troy  ... Kathy ... Bill ... about 30 more people we didn't even know but pretended to because they seemed to know us .

Needless to say ... we didn't get very far ... didn't even see the whole show. But we did talk to Harvey and Kathleen.

We talked about old times. Our kids played soccer together for years. Those of you with soccer kids probably know what that means. We spent every holiday, weekend and most evenings together in towns like New Port Richey, Valrico and Land O Lakes.

We all had jobs serving our children ... like bringing oranges, driving carpool, screaming at the opposing coach and getting ejected from the playing field.

Harvey had the most important job. He was the head of the Soccer Tent Committee. He chose his committee carefully ... Gary, Scott and me. Well ... it wasn't that "carefully" ... he picked what he could get.

We immediately renamed it the Erection Committee.

Harvey instructed us on everything from organizing our poles to pitching our tent. We got so good at it that it became a military operation that was admired by all our families and even coveted by our competitors.

We competed with other clubs and continually won awards like ...


"Best Erection"
"Biggest Erection"
"Quickest Erection"

We came in third for "Erection Completed with the Fewest Members".

Those were the days.

We said goodbye to Harvey and Kathleen. It was getting late ... we found nothing to buy at the first tent ...

So off to Home Depot.


Success!
   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lunch With the Boys

Monday is our kinda-quarterly-when-the-mood-hits-ya lunch with the boys at Wing House. We've been doing it for years ... sometimes the group is big and sometimes not. The guys include four attorneys: Tom, Doug, Bob and Phil ... two judges: Mark and Jack ... a bank president: Ward ... two developers: Ken and Dewey ... a financial planner: Cooper ... and two who defy description: Ray (a fence company owner) and me.

Tom started the group. Restaurant locations have changed over the years (although Wing House has been a consistent player because of the quality of the .... um ... food ... yeah ... the food.) One of us gets stuck with the check.

So here's how it works:

1. Tom sends out an email that reads:

"Gentlemen, it's been too long since we got together for lunch. Let's do it on April 18th at the WH. Let everyone know if you plan to attend."

2. The email trail (from these "community leaders") begins:

Ken ... "I'm in."

Ray ... "I'm there ... I know Ken is going to be crying like a little schoolgirl when he buys ..."

Ken ... "When I cry I cry like I'm in the fencing business during the recession, not like a little girl. It doesn't matter tough ... I'm feeling VERY lucky."

Ray ... "Gee ... that put me in a cheery mood ... thinking about being in construction ..."

Me ... "I'm in (just to hear the cryin and bitchin)"

Ray ... "Oh crap ... Momberg's coming."

Cooper ... "Rock star from New Orleans! Can't wait. (note: Cooper's from New Orleans and this is an inside joke)"

Ray ... "Do you two need a little pillow talk time and want to smoke a cigarette??"

Tom ..." We may want to throw a bucket of cold water on the New Orleans boys before lunch."

Ward ... "There is a reason they are called Gayjuns."

it just gets worse from there.

3. We meet at Wing House, talk about the old days ... tell the same lies we did 20 years ago ... and continue where we left off on the email trail ... challenging each other about our manhood and making fun of our respective professions.

4. After lunch, Tom tears up a napkin and put the words "You're f***ed" on one of the pieces. We draw and the lucky guy who picks the written words gets the check.

It happens the same way every lunch. There's something very comforting in that.

Well ... there WAS the time that we all got together before lunch (without Ray) and decided to write "You're f***ed" on all the slips of paper. When we went around the table ... everyone said they picked a blank as Ray, the last one to pick ... shook his head.

It was the largest lunch of the year. He picked up the tab for about 20 guys (maybe not 20 ... but it sounded good, huh?)
       

Friday, April 15, 2011

Adult Truths

Below are some Adult Truths that were sent to me. Wish I would have said them first ... but what the heck ...  Adult Truth # 25 is ... "Steal from me and you've stolen twice".

Enjoy!

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day..

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I wish Google Maps had an "Avoid Ghetto" routing option.

18. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

19. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

20. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

21. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

22. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

23. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

24. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Another Sammy Sunday

As we pulled in to pick up Sam from Menorah Manor, he was chatting on the cell phone we bought him. I was overjoyed. He really seemed to understand which end was the earpiece and which end he was supposed to speak in. Every time I called him, I only spoke to voice mail on which he gives instructions on how to leave him a message "Please leave your number at this number (which he repeats)."

"Hey Dad," I yelled to him as I got out of the car.

"Joel ... this is your daughter Alissa on the phone."

"Tell her hello."

"Here ... talk to her." He hands me the phone as he steadies himself on his walker.

To Alissa ... "Hi honey."

"Hi Dad ... "

"Grampy called you?"

"Yes ... I'm not sure I understood what he was saying (hmmm how unusual). It was something about his penis."

"Oh great ... I'll explain later."

I hung up and caught him as he tried to back into the front seat. I helped him buckle his seat belt. He's never been able to do that ... know anyone that never knew how to put on a seat belt?

"Dad .... where's your friend that you invited to go to breakfast with us?"

"Oh her ... she's a pain in the ass. She invites herself to everything so I just told her she couldn't go."

"But you invited her ... I thought."

"I did ... but I changed my mind." He thought about it. "Listen, if she should ask you ... I told her you told me she couldn't go. I made up something like ... her family would have to accompany her and you told me we couldn't do it."

Now at this point in a bizarre conversation like this ... you might ask a normal person what his thought process was. I just simply said ... "Okay."

Sammy was pretty chatty on the way to breakfast. He asked me about old pictures, girlfriends, my ex wife. This was a continuation of a previous conversation that made Debbie (and me ) uncomfortable ... which mattered not to him.

"So ... do you think you could call Carol for me and ask her to come see me?"

"Dad ... I told you before ... I haven't seen her for over 30 years."

"Yeah? So what ... she was always good to me and I want to see her."

"Dad ... Debbie's sitting right behind you and I think ..."

"Debbie? Do you know Carol?"

"That's not what I meant ..."

"By the way, Joel ... did you have a car in high school?"

Switching gears ... "Um ...no"

"Wayne did huh?"

"I don't know ... I was out of high school when Wayne started."

"Fortier ... right?"

"Yes ... why are you asking that."

"Just interested that's all ... is that okay with you?"

"Yep ... hey how about calling some of Wayne's ex wives and former girlfriends."

"I know them ... I might ... I also know somebody who went out with lesbians."

"Who?"

"You."

"Oh my God (actually he was right in that one of my former girlfriends started dated women after we dated ... what does THAT say about me?) ... the things you DO remember."

Debbie was cracking up in the back seat.

We got to Waffle House and Sam told us he has lost his appetite ... so he only ordered a waffle, bacon, two eggs, biscuits and coffee. Pretty big spread for someone without any teeth.

Just another typical Sunday morning.

************************************

By the way, on a side note ... last night we saw Debbie's sister Keli at an event on the beach. She hurt her back so she was lubricating it with a few bottles of wine and advil. I'm sure she has memory loss this morning.

When I stopped by her table to say hi to Mark and her ... she whispered to me that she was disappointed that she had a croissant and the rest of the table had buns. "Did you have the buns at your table too?"

I looked at her plate ... "Keli. Did you get the croissant from the table?"

"Yeah ... right over here." There was one other croissant sitting in front of her.

"Don't eat it. It's the table decoration. The buns are in the basket over there."

"Oh ... no ... DON'T tell Mark ... he'll make fun of me forever."

"Okay."

Hey Mark .... are you reading this?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Check Please

We eat out alot.

In my profession, it comes with the territory. And now that the kids are grown, Deb and I enjoy trying out new restaurants (and frequently visit ones that we enjoyed in the past). We appreciate great food and have little patience for the bad stuff. Even when the food is okay, there are some things that the staff does that drives us crazy.

I put together a list of my pet peeves for restaurant owners that care what their diners think (maybe it's just me ... but here goes) ...

- Choice of table. Ever go to a restaurant when the place is less than half full and get offered the table that squeezes you in the middle of the only section that is full? Sure ... there are a dearth of servers and/or the hostess is supposed to seat people according to the server rotation. We get that! But what about comfort, ambience and not having to look at the fat people whose elbows are in your food? If you question the hostess and ask for another table, the staff avoids looking directly at you ... and you worry what might be swimming in your iced tea.


How you are seated. This happened just this morning. The hostess showed us to a booth designed for vertically and horizontally challenged people (Debbie just told me I shouldn't say fat people again ... midgets would be out of the question).  Just before we sat down, she opened the menus and slowly read the latest food items they were pushing that day, blocking our seats. We stood there (close to the kitchen) being bumped and pushed ... hearing the servers scream "Corner! Right! Coming out!"

Silverware. This one is simple. It's nice to have silverware BEFORE you get your food. When you do get silverware ... it's also nice to get them clean.

Excuse me ... Do you know where my waiter is? Serving staff is key ... of course ... to your dining enjoyment. We laugh about a waitress that had the highest pitched voice you every heard. It was childlike and sometimes so hard to hear that you could swear the dogs out back were barking. The "in your space" servers are the worst. They sometimes pull up a chair or scoot into your booth and sit nose to nose with you making sure you hear every word. And why is it that the servers continually ask you how the food tastes every 3 bites and then disappear when you really need something ... like your change!

Tonight's Specials. Servers take pride in memorizing them and recite them at your table. Some are so long and involved that you can't remember the one that was said an hour before that you really liked. CAN'T THEY WRITE THEM DOWN?

- Turn on the lights. How about the menus that you can barely see because the type is microscopic, in some font that resembles bad handwriting and the restaurant is almost completely dark. We now use our iphone app "flashlight" to read (I also use it to find my way to the men's room).

Food presentation.  Probably me ... but does anyone else like their food stacked on top of each other. Like ... veal on veggies on sweet potatoes on a bed of sticky rice. Is that some weird thing a chef did by accident and then became the coolest thing to replicate. That's how "blackened" happened. Chef Paul Prudhomme dropped a redfish in the skillet too long and called it blackened.



Tapas. If I'm gonna spend 15 bucks ... give me some real food ... not a shrimp and a Passover dinner.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Da Friggan Cake Boss



I "discovered" another show yesterday. (Translation: I saw a show that the rest of America discovered years ago ... and yes ... I am a slow learner).

It's called CAKE BOSS ... a food show. 

No ... that's not a fair description ... it's so much more. It's like Goodfellas meet Jersey Shore while creating baked goods. 

 Buddy Valastro, the owner of Carlo’s Bakery is the star. “Cake Boss,” which debuted in 2009 (it is now seen in 160 countries), is a reality show that follows most days in the life of Mr. Valastro, a talented baker, as he decorates 50 wedding cakes in a week (black stencils on white fondant, try that at home) or takes on challenges like replicating the Tuscan villa where Rachael Ray spent her honeymoon — in cake. He constructed a confectionary Sesame Street for the show's 40th anniversary, with all the characters sculptured out of modeling chocolate, and reproduced the Leaning Tower of Pisa as a 4 ½-foot-tall wedding cake.

Buddy (Bartolo) Valastro is a fourth-generation baker whose father was born on Lipari, an island near Sicily, where the family was so poor they resorted to eating other people’s garbage. They emigrated, and once Buddy Sr. was in his 20s he started working at Carlo’s, which he bought in 1963. By the time Buddy Jr. was 11, he was working there on weekends. When he made the football team, his father forbade him from joining because games were played on the weekends. His son did not resent this; the two were unusually close.

Buddy Sr. died of cancer at 54. Buddy Jr., who was 17, dropped out of vocational high school to take over the bakery. 

Along with Mr. Valastro, the consistent draw is his crew. This, as he says at the top of each show, consists of “mia famiglia.” Think the Loud family, only louder: His four older sisters, who run the bakery counter when they’re not screaming at him or at one another (two of their husbands are among the bakers); his mother, who likes to scold her 34-year-old son for his penchant for practical jokes (“You may be the cake boss, but I’m the real boss!”); his three adorable children under the age of 7; and his remarkably good-natured wife, Lisa, who gave birth to their fourth child on Valentine’s Day. Actual footage of Carlo Salvatore’s birth was included in a new episode, along with tears, congratulations, back slapping and 3-year-old Marco trilling, “Is it out?”

The family ...

Mauro "Chef Mario" Castano, Buddy's right-hand man, and the husband of Buddy's sister Maddalena.
Danny Dragone, employee and close family friend.
Frank "Frankie" Amato Jr., Buddy's first cousin, and the godfather to his son Marco.
Joey Faugno, the husband of Buddy's oldest sister Grace.
Grace Faugno (née Valastro) Buddy's oldest sister and Joey's wife.
Maddalena Castano (née Valastro)Buddy's second oldest sister and Mauro's wife.
Mary Sciarrone (née Valastro) Buddy's middle sister.
Lisa Valastro Buddy's youngest sister and the ex-wife of Remigio "Remy" Gonzalez. On the Cake Boss episode "Mother's Day, Mama and Mom-to-be", Lisa gives birth to her and Remy's daughter, Isabella.
Anthony "Cousin Anthony" Bellifemine, a cousin, who started as a delivery boy, and later became a baker.
Lisa Valastro (née Belgiovine), Buddy's wife.
Ralph "Ralphie Boy" Attanasia III, a bakery sculptor.
Dana Herbert, Buddy's intern (winner of Season 1 of Next Great Baker).
Maurizio Belgiovine The new delivery boy of the bakery who is Lisa Valastro's younger brother and replaced Cousin Anthony in exchange so he can start baking.

You gotta watch it ... just to hear the dialogue:

"Frankie ... we got no sugar. No FRIGGAN sugar. How do you peoples expect us to finish these cakes. I can't think of everything!"

The cakes are unbelievable ...






Makes your (friggan) mouth watteh ... huh, peoples?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Write or Wrong

I'm sitting in front of my computer ... staring at a blank screen ... while my wife Debbie is doing many useful things in and around the house.

I have only four choices: finish the taxes, rewrite my novel (for the 128th time), answer email or do some mindless blog entry...

So ... just when an idea hits me and I start to write ... I get the strangest phone call.

"Hello?"


"Hello .... Is Joel there?"


"This is he." Why do people always say that? Sounds so affected. "Who's this?"


"Well ... let's just say that I'm a voice from the past and I have been looking for you for a long time."


Okay ... now I'm creeped out. This is a male voice, I have no idea who it belongs to and the list is so short of anyone who would be looking for me ... that I never borrowed money from.


"Okay ... Mr. Voice ... I need a little more than that."


"I left you a package in the mailbox that will explain everything."


"What? You left a package? Why didn't you just knock on the door ..."


"You'll understand when you see it ... I will call you soon."


He hung up.


I think it took me about a half hour to get the courage to open the front door and look in the mailbox. Debbie had just left to go to the store and I was looking around for the bomb squad. I carefully lifted the lid and at the very bottom of the mailbox I saw a small elegantly wrapped present. Next to it was a card with my name carefully written in calligraphy. 


 I muttered under my breath, "I'm going to get even with you, Tom (brother in law and resident trickster) ... this is some dumb gag gift that sprays blue paint or sounds a siren or catches fire ... who knows?" 


Fearlessly, I lift the envelope first, take out the card and open it up. Inside it reads: "Dear Joel, Step to the left, pull up your socks, turn around three times and open the box." 


Alright. This is getting too weird ... even for Tom. I looked around searching for someone who would jump out of the bushes and say ... Gotcha dummy! Not a sound. Okay ... I gently cradled the box in my hand as if it was filled with either the riches of the world or all the evil that could fit in this tiny ring sized box and I took it inside.


I reread the card and noticed that written at the bottom were three numbers: 1452 ... 6253 ... 3689. Hmmm, not part of my address, not a zip code, not a phone number ... probably just random scribbles.
I looked at the instructions once more: 


1. Step to the left (What the hell ... no one is here ... so why not) I stepped to the left. 


2. Pull up your socks ... okay ... I pulled up my socks ...


3. Turn around three times ... done ...






4. And open the ... OH MY GOD.........









The door slams ... Debbie's home. "Joel ... you still working on the crazy novel or do you think you can come out here and help me carry the groceries?"