Friday, March 31, 2006

The Amazing Charade

Viewers of The Amazing Race 9 are familiar with the team affectionately known as the "frat boys" -- having earned their nickname with their generally juvenile behavior, particularly when it comes to their encounters with the opposite sex.

IMHO, though, there's something fishy in Dodge City. The dude pictured on the right (Jeremy?) has a voice reminiscent of Jim J. Bullock (not that there's anything wrong with that.)

My dear Jeremy, methinks thou doth proclaim thy lust for women too much -- I wouldn't be surprised to find an iPod loaded with Barbra stashed in your backpack.

Hey, no anti-homosexual intent here -- I'm really hoping he's gay -- because the only excuse for his loutish behavior towards women is some sort of attempted ruse gone terribly wrong.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Reunion Show and Tell

If any event deserves a blog, it's attending a college reunion -- if only that it is so out of character for me and my husband. But I'm not really in the mood for a whole bunch of writing. So, I'll try and do a show and tell.

Background: Spousal unit and myself graduated from Temple University -- same year, same major -- but did not meet until 7 years later, on the job.

Neither of us realized this was a "milestone" year for our class until the invitations arrived. Turns out there was an entire weekend of events that were FREE for members of our graduating class (but $90 for guests.) Since we were both grads of the same year everything was free! (Even parking in downtown Philadelphia!) Free! My favorite word!

Feeling like we somehow beat the system, it seemed only right to attend.

We booked a room in the Marriott that connects to the Convention Center (okay, the room wasn't free, but we did get a group rate.)

We venture over to the Pennsylvania Convention Center during the afternoon to case the setup. No one questions what we're doing there. (Perhaps because I am disguised as a dark blob.)

This space used to be the train shed for Reading Railroad station. I took the train home from this station during college, so the location seems entirely appropriate.

Saturday, March 25th
Founder's Celebration 2006
Anniversary class reception 5:30 - 7 PM Open bar and hors d'oeuvres

Evidently, the Rubik's cube was the defining symbol of my class. I had no idea. Later, I am pissed that we didn't swipe the cube for the kids.

It was at this reception that we discovered that only about 50 folks from our entire class were there -- there was a list, and we didn't know anyone on it. Not even remotely. Only two other names from our school (SCAT -- Communications and Theatre.) We are released from any social obligation -- yay!

My husband owns a tux. How suave! He is smiling because we are getting free drinks and food and not talking to anyone -- the ultimate dream of the anti-social.

7 PM Alumni award ceremony.

Local TV anchors Tracy Davidson and Vince DeMentri present the awards to "outstanding" (translation: actually donate to their alma mater) alumni.

8 PM -- Cocktails, themed food stations, music by Joe Sudler Orchestra (did I mention, it's all free?)

Ice Bell Tower

We find a little stand-up table for two to continue our anti-social fest.

Sushi, baby!

Soon afterwards, we were approached by a gentleman who remembered my husband (or at least his name) from a class -- a fellow RTF (radio-TV-film) major. And I had so been hoping to get through without speaking to anyone (sort of a challenge I set for myself when I realized there was no one there I knew.) Oh well.

Sunday, March 26th,
Room service breakfast.

Not free.

But the granola was homemade.

I appear to be reaching for my husband's sausage.

5:30 PM Silver and Gold Reunion Dinner
Park Hyatt at the Bellevue

Park Hyatt staircase after dinner. We actually had to speak to others during dinner, but no photos were taken. Our dinner companions seemed fascinated by our occupation, so we got to talk about ourselves for an hour. Oh joy.

7:30 PM Kimmel Center for Temple University Symphony Orchestra and Combined Choirs

Happy to be back in anti-social mode.

I'm embarrassed to say we'd never been at the Kimmel before. It's a spectacular place. The performances were of professional quality, but Belshazzar's Feast by William Walton is not exactly my cup of classical.

Stuffed to near explosion with free food & drink, we left during intermission to avoid any actual eruptions .

Thank you, Temple University.

We look forward to what is sure to be invigorated fund-raising prompted by our attendance, which we will continue to ignore.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Wegmans revisited

No, I haven't been back to Wegmans since last week's panic-attack-inducing foray into the belly of the suburban beast. (Hmmm, am I getting poetic or am I just overly-tired?)

Rather, the "revisit" of my blog title refers to a Monica Yant Kinney article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer -- she gives her take on the hoopla surrounding Wegmans entry into the local market, as well as some quotes from the shoppers she encountered during her visit there.

I adore her line:

"If access to excess defines life in the suburbs, the opening of the Mount Laurel Wegmans may go down as a historic event in South Jersey."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

It's Only a Freakin' Supermarket, People!

From the cars circling for parking outside, you'd thought it was the second coming and Jesus was personally handing out free sushi inside.

But no, it was simply the opening of a new Wegmans -- the first of the chain in this corner of suburbia. Evidently this store is the closest thing to nirvana for the SUV set.

The store opened on Sunday, and on Monday my little family happened to be across the street. The manly husband had been monitoring the progress of the Wegmans throughout its construction and he was itching to check out the see if it was all it was cracked up to be.

Me? I was a little less enthused about entering, since it meant we would surely be outnumbered by the overprivileged. But enter we did.

Word is that Wegmans has great prepared food. But I can't confirm that, since the prepared food area was as crowded as Disney World during Spring break.

Since the swarming masses in prepared food were starting to make me hyperventilate, we detoured into the regular supermarket area...did a little grocery shopping -- and that part of the store was like combining Whole Foods type fare (at seemingly better prices) with your basic name-brand normal foodstuffs.

So, I was fairly impressed, even as my fight or flight responses kicked in. There I was, muttering, "It's just a supermarket..." under my breath, while what seemed like half the zip code vied for aisle position.

The straw that broke my psyche's back was during checkout, when the lady (and I use that a term loosely) behind me believed she was entitled to push her shopping cart into me (and leave it pressed against me) as I struggled to scribble something vaguely resembling my signature on the credit card machine. I pushed back, by the way -- but she either was oblivious or too much in a hurry to care.

"!" I thought to myself. Actually, that's not true -- I was saying it out loud -- along with, "Let's go -- NOW!"

Maybe if I hadn't spent two hours in the dentist's chair earlier that day I would have been in a better mood to deal with the maddening crowd.

And what had my dentist and her assistant been talking about as the drill invaded my mouth? Going to Wegmans, of course.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who Doesn't Love a Talking Cat?

Merujo (Church of the Big Sky fame) is evidently also an animal whisperer.

She has found means to communicate with my fuzzy friend Leo, and sent me this feline message.

In the very least, I discovered Leo has a deep, manly baritone -- I'm thinking of getting him an agent to hook him up with some voiceover work.

Merujo followed up with some real live "talking" cats. Freaky!

Monday, March 13, 2006

In Praise of the Common Washing Machine

Standing strong and angular
You accept without complaint
The vomit-laden sheets.

Sparing me the dry heaves
That hand washing
Would surely bring.

The stomach flu is no match
For the strength of your
Mighty agitator.

Oh Washing Machine, I love you
Most dearly when my daughter
Hurls at 5 AM.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

It Ain't Over Until the Drunk Lady Sings

I didn't realize the suburbs had so firmly infiltrated my DNA until my husband and I made an excursion into the Big City Friday night.

For the first time in...well...never, a relative volunteered to baby-sit our children overnight. The planets aligned when we found the band ike was playing at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia that evening. We had never seen them live but really enjoyed the songs they had posted on their myspace page.

Tin Angel is on the second floor of an Old City rowhouse -- the bottom floor is the restaurant Serrano -- and a dinner reservation at Serrano gives you a reserved table for the Tin Angel show. We were set.

Serrano is a sliver of a restaurant, but it's chocked full of atmosphere, with velvet curtains and warm dark walls. It's also chocked full of tables, and I believe I could have easily reached my fork across to the next table and sampled my neighbors' dinners. The temptation was resisted (even though their food did look rather yummy.)

In the suburbs you wouldn't find two separate parties seated at a 6-seat table. But here in the Big City, that's exactly where my husband and I found ourselves. At least it makes for easy eavesdropping...although I could have done without knowing quite so much about the ex-boyfriend of the 52-year-old (yes, she mentioned her age) woman on my husband's right. (Honey, after listening to an hour of your obsessive monologue, it was pretty apparent why he just wants to be friends.) My sympathies to her (female) dining companion who remained effectively mute throughout.

Eventually my husband and I made our way up the narrow staircase to the Tin Angel...and were pleasantly surprised to see our reserved table was second from the stage. A very tiny two-top which of course had four chairs squished around it.

We sat next to each other against the wall...wondering who would share our table. Luckily, it was not obsessive-monologue lady...but rather a gentleman and lady whose appearance somehow screamed out, "We have absolutely nothing in common with you."

I can't even put a finger on exactly why -- except to apologize for my superficiality – perhaps it was that they seemed older (although probably our age), overdressed and over-attituded.

“Hellos” were exchanged when they sat down and each couple then went on to ignore the other. At least mostly. At one point, the lady was momentarily abandoned by her escort. She looked over at us and said, "Well, I just can't sit here and not talk to you..." and nothing else. I kept waiting for her to say more...but no. Extremely awkward silence, which neither myself nor my husband felt like breaking. Hey, I have a hard time having a conversation with strangers that appear interesting, let alone ones who don’t. (Lest you judge me as overly harsh, she was probably thinking the same thing about us.)

Opening act was McGowan -- talented guy, enjoyed his performance. His set held our attention throughout. Except when a table of extremely loud ladies nearby drowned out his singing. There seemed to be much imbibing going on at their table, which was commendable if only for the difficulty of getting drinks from the crowded bar.

Imagine my surprise after McGowan's set when he went out and greeted someone at that table. That made it even more astonishing that those women had been be so rude during his performance. (If you don't want to pay attention to a performer, go back and stand by the bar -- don't disrupt it for those of us who do.)

Ike rocked! Consider that they didn't come on until about midnight and we were still riveted. Hooky power-pop/rock. The kind of stuff that gets stuck in your brain (but not in a Living the Vida Loca kind of way. Damn, just typing that will have Ricky Martin in the head for the rest of the morning.)

Not to detract from the rest of the stellar band (a chick on bass -- excellent!) but lead singer John Faye (formerly of the Caulfields)writes all the songs and he's got an expressive voice that at times reminds me of Jon Brion.

Please check out Ike's page and listen to their music if you're not familiar.

Ah, yes, the drunken lady of the title...

At one point, a blond woman of noisy-table-fame decides she is going to join IKE on the postage stamp sized stage. John turns to her and says something along the line of, "And who are YOU?" Undeterred, she then proceeds to do the "bump" with John as he seems to mentally conjure up a force field in an effort to ignore her.

Eventually, a Tin Angel employee (female) comes up and talks the lady off the stage. But never fear, a song or two later she has hopped back up again. This time, maybe even drunker. She looks like she wants to sing along with John and again he does his best to pretend she is invisible.

Thankfully, a big burly bouncer type comes up sweeps the lady up and over his shoulder and whisks her offstage.

The show wraps up with McGowan joining IKE for a rousing cover of "Fat Bottomed Girls."

We buy two Ike cds (Parallel Universe and In Real Life) shake John's hand and rush back through the frigid Philly cold to the parking garage.

It is 2 AM.

In the parking garage elevator, we encounter yet another drunk (though very pleasant) lady who asks us how our dinner was and departs the elevator with a lively, "nice meetin' you."

And such is life in the Big City.