Friday, December 21, 2007

Colder Than A Witch's...

So, here I sit in my humble little winery, freezing to death. It's a balmy 48 degrees inside. If we ever decide to diversify we could open a meat locker. I'm talking COLD. How cold? Cold enough to make me wonder why I spent money on a vasectomy, that's how cold. "Cold Than a Witch's Teat" cold...which - by the way - how cold is a witches you-know-what, anyway?

The good news is that this is the last day at work for a few weeks. The bad news is that most of my time off will be spent in Minneapolis where it's been averaging 29 degrees in the daytime (that's a daytime high) and 14 degrees at night. But, it's Amie's hometown, so it will be good to spend time with friends and family. Besides, the kids love romping in the snow.

Hope that you and yours have a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or whatever you might be celebrating. And, while you're at it, a great New Year's, too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!

Proof positive that it's never too late in the year to be considered a shoe-in for the 2007 Darwin Awards!:

India Tigers Kill
Man Reaching
Into Cage

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

GAUHATI, India (AP) -- A man who stuck his arm into the tiger enclosure at a zoo in northeast India bled to death Wednesday after two big cats tore off his limb as his family and dozens of visitors watched, a zoo official said.

The man, identified as 50-year-old Jayaprakash Bezbaruah, avoided zoo safety precautions in an apparent attempt to photograph the two adult Bengal tigers up close, said Gauhati zoo warden Narayan Mahanta.

"The man ignored warnings from keepers, crossed the first barrier and stretched his hand into the enclosure that housed a male and a female tiger," he said. "The animals grabbed his limb and tore it apart at the shoulder."

Bezbaruah, who had been visiting the zoo with his wife and two children, was rushed to a local hospital but died of blood loss, said Mahanta.

"I have never encountered such a bizarre incident in my 11 years as a wildlife official. It was shocking," Mahanta said.

Sadly, it turns out ol' Jayaprakash can't be considered for this year's Darwin Award because their rules state you have to have done yourself in before you've procreated. Doh!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What I Got for Christmas, Vol. 5

Without a doubt, my all-time favorite Christmas present was:
As I've mentioned in other posts, I was a bit of a 'space case'. Okay...I'll come clean: I was a BIG TIME space case. I pretty much had one of everything that you see in this picture above you. I'd play with this stuff for days on end...ah the memories.

What I Got for Christmas, Vol. 4

As a kid you're pretty much at the mercy of others...especially your parents. They were your bank, your chauffeur, your cleaners, your hotelier and your restaurateur. Every now and then you were bound to feel the urge to be in control of something. Some found this need met in bossing around younger siblings. While I did have a younger sister, she was younger than me by seven minutes. It really didn't count. More often than not, when I did try to exert some control over her, she'd slug me. And woe betide me if I slugged her parents were very much firmly in the camp of "you never hit a girl no matter WHAT!".

Others found solace in dominating a family pet. Over my childhood we pretty much had them all...dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, fish, name it. I enjoyed having pets, but - for me - pets were not so much of my 'beast of burden' as they were simply a burden. "Walk your dog", "Feed your bird", "Clean the litter pan". Really...who is in control of whom?

Nope, what this young boy needed - and got one Christmas - was a CHEMISTRY SET!:
Whoa, nelly! A chemistry set held the promise of dominating the basic elements of life! With it I could create new medicines, amazing new compounds, and unlock the keys to the universe! Turns out all I really did was find ways to stain carpets and make noxious-smelling crap. But what did it matter? I was in control! During the time I played with my chemistry set I was The Man.

Heady stuff for an eight year-old.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What I Got for Christmas, Vol. 3

As a kid, one of my all-time favorite presents - received for Christmas or otherwise - were models. Plastic models were a BIG part of my childhood. While airplanes and rockets were always numero uno with this hombre (and some people don't think I've assimilated well to life in California...hah!), I enjoyed building models of pretty much anything. From "The Visible Man" to a scale model of Mr. Spock, from the nuclear submarine, Nautilus, to the Seaview sub from "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea", I loved building them all.

While not a large part of my model collection (a collection that was constantly threatened by destruction [at the hands of me, the creator], as building rockets, airplanes and things of this nature inevitably led to lighting them on fire and/or trying to launch them into space/stratosphere. Often achieving both through the use of Estes' solid rocket engines. But I digress), I also enjoyed building the occasional model car. The memory of one of these 'cars' has always stuck with me. In a good way. Well, usually.

In the mid to late 1960s, Monogram Models, Inc., sensing young model makers' running towards all things space (actual and fictional) began to offer up a bevy of four-wheeled vehicles, tricked out and customized in hopes of attracting kids back to the basics: American muscle cars. Okay, so perhaps Monogram got into customizing model cars because rival model company Revell had signed America's favorite Kar Kustomizer, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth to design cars for them to sell them to kids. Monogram dug deep into the vaults to produce such classics as "Rommel's Rod", part dragster, part Nazi half-track; "Dragon Wagon", a sweet-looking, low-riding sled with a circus cage that contained a real dragon; and - who could forget? - the "Beer Wagon", a drag slicked t-bucket with a flatbed that barrels! You know, for kids! In retrospect, I think Monogram went on the cheap, scavenging parts from all of their other model kits and tried to build a concept car around them. But what did it matter? I fell for it all...hook, line and model glue. My personal favorite Monogram model had to be the Showtime Garbage Truck!
In this one kit, Monogram tried to cash in on all of America's favorite pastimes at once: drag racing, surfing, rock music and garbage collecting! God Bless America!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What I Got For Christmas, Vol. 2

If "Strange Change Lost World" machine ranks as my all-time fifth-favorite Christmas present ever, number four has got to be G.I. Joe...especially the one of him as a Astronaut complete with his very own space capsule!

I also loved playing G.I. Joes with my brothers and friends. REAL G.I. Joes, not those quarter-sized wannabes that they offer kids nowadays. I can still remember my first Joe...a grizzled, bearded Marine with a pull string that would bellow forth such gung-ho Marine speak like, "Cover me! I'll get that machine gun!" when you activated it. So, when they introduced an Astronaut G.I. Joe, it was only natural that I wanted one.

As a child of the 60s, I was a huge fan of the U.S. space program. I lived, breathed and ate NASA. How much of a geek was I when it came to our nation's space program? Enough to be somewhat disconcerted by the fact that when I first came face-to-face with my Astronaut Joe I couldn't get over the fact that he was sporting a Project Mercury-era capsule and space suit while wearing what was so obviously a Project Gemini EVA chest pack, just like the one Ed White wore on his Gemini IV space walk. Those imbeciles at Hasbro! Didn't they know?!? Oh ya...I was a BIG TIME space geek. And I loved this toy...despite the incongruity of Astro Joe's garb.

My twin sister was more partial to Barbie. Every now and then I'd include one of her Barbies in my G.I. Joe scenarios. "G.I. Joe comes back from a space mission" or "G.I. Joe on shore leave". The end result was always the same: G.I. Joe and Barbie would 'wrestle'. I was too young to know what they were supposed to do while they were wrestling, but I knew it was something that I shouldn't be play-acting with two dolls...even if they lacked anatomical correctness.

What I Got for Christmas, Vol. I

Whew. Posting about the "Star Wars Holiday Special" really got me into the Christmas 'bout you? By the way...did you notice? Even back in 1978 - nearly 30 years ago - network executives were practicing political correctness. Holiday Special. Sad, really. Anyhow, that post got me thinking about what were my all-time favorite Christmas presents when I was a kid. The memories came flooding back to me. Could I rate my top five, all-time favorite Christmas presents?

Turns out that I can. And here, for your holiday enjoyment, is my number five:
Produced in an era when the members of the Consumer Product Safety Commission were still wearing poopy-diapers, this was a gift any kid would have welcomed under his Christmas tree. It has it all...brightly-colored plastic pucks that - when put into the Strange Change Machine (basically a heating element with a blower....think of a vertically-mounted hair drier permanently set on 'incinerate') - would turn into dinosaurs before your very eyes!

And what was great was that this sucker got so hot that the plastic creatures became pliable enough that - when you placed them into the bare-metal vise, and turned the crank - you could press them back into their original puck form!

Of course, the combination of a heating element, bare metal and plastic often made for, um, interesting moments. If you weren't careful, this sucker could burn the hell out of you. But that was part of the fun!

I can still smell the melting plastic, hear the whir of the fan, and feel the warmth of the heating element. No doubt if Mattel released this thing today they'd be slapped with more lawsuits than a Chinese lead toy producer. Pity. This is exactly the kind of toy kids need these days. The kind of toy that is fun, that allows a kid to not only create something...but destroy it, and in so doing, will more than likely scare the shit out of them.

This toy ranks as my all-time number five Christmas presents that I've ever received. More to follow!

Have a Yourself a Very Wookie Christmas.

The last few evenings have found me busily decorating the house with Christmas stuff. Lights on the house trim? Check. The occasional wreath adorning a door or two? Check. Nutcrackers in place? Check. Obligatory nativity scene? Check. Live streaming of holiday music? You bet.

I love Christmas. The sights, the sounds, the smells. It's a great time of year. I'm often reminded of Christmases past. As a kid, I loved watching those Christmas specials on TV. You know, Charlie Brown, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams...all of the usual suspects. Then, in 1978, the Star Wars franchise tried to cash in on the Christmas Spirit, too. WTF?! As if America wasn't already buying enough Star Wars crap, they aired a two-hour, prime-time special to remind us that it was time to fill their coffers once again, and in so doing, ended up producing what is arguably the worst TV Christmas special ever.

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall at that pitch meeting:

Producer: I've got a GREAT idea on how we can tie the Star Wars phenomenon into your Christmas programming!

Network Wonk: We prefer 'Holiday' programming. Less hate mail. So, hit me with your best shot.

Producer: Okay...Chewbacca is trying to get home for his kids' birthday, and his buddy, Han Solo, does all he can to get him home in time...

Network Wonk: They've got birthdays in outer space?

Producer: Sure...but we don't have to call them birthdays. How about LIFE days? Sounds futuristic, doesn't it?

Network Wonk: I LOVE it!

Producer: This show's got it all! It's set in outer space! It's got friends, it's got warmth, it's got all that feel-good crap that folks will eat up with a spoon!

Network Wonk: But it's GOT to have love music.

Producer: It does! We've got The Jefferson Starship. Star Wars, Star Ship! Get it?!

Network Wonk: I'm with you so far. Does it have stormtroopers?

Producer: Stormtroopers? You bet your ass it has stormtroopers! One of them even kills Chewbacca's uncle, Fuzzy. His death scene is a pivotal moment in the production.

Network Wonk: Sorry, we can't have violence, even Wookie violence. It's bad for the children.

Producer: Alright, Fuzzy lives. So what can we have?

Network Wonk: How about Bea Arthur and Art Carney?

Producer: And you think that's good for kids?

And, in case you forgot just how lame the "Star Wars Holiday Special" was, here's the Cliff Notes' version...complete with Mark Hamill before the accident that turned his face into hamburger:

Some Christmas memories are best left forgotten. This is one of them. Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2007

What Happens In Vegas...

Left Las Vegas yesterday evening and headed (thankfully) for home. Las Vegas is a great city...especially if you're - like me - into food and wine. You can't swing a dead cat and not hit a world-class restaurant. But there IS a side to the city that's, um, a bit hard for me to describe. Instead of trying, I'll simply offer you this picture I took while leaving Paris (the casino, not the city):
Wow. I guess Hillary Clinton was right. It does take a village.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Airborne Freak Show.

One of the few perks of traveling as much as I do is that American Airlines always upgrades me to First Class. It's not that First Class is really all that 'special' when compared to Coach, but it does provide you with a little more leg room, an attempt at a balanced meal, and - my favorite! - free booze. The later can help you forget the brutal, naked truth that you're really just in a cattle car with wings.

Flying First Class occasionally allows me the opportunity to meet some interesting people...sometimes even 'famous' people. Yesterday I flew from New Orleans to Las Vegas, changing planes in Dallas. It was in Dallas that I met my latest 'seat mate who's a star': Carrot Top! Now poking fun of Carrot Top is tantamount to shooting fish in a's waaaay too easy. I've read other bloggers, seen a few stand-up commedians, and watched a few TV shows, all of which can't resist the comedic catnip that is Carrot Top...or as I now call him, "The dude who sat beside me in 2A". He's a walking treasure trove of laughs...after all, LOOK at this guy!
And, yes, ladies and gentleman, the guy looks as freaky in person as he does in this photo. Turns out, he's a nice enough guy...reserved, polite, accommodating to autograph seekers (but, honestly, does anyone really covet an autograph from Carrot Top?), and not at all the asshole that I halfway expected him to be. But it was tough for me to look at Monsieur Sommet de Carotte and wonder if - one day, years ago - he ran into a doctor's office holding a photo of that plastic surgery addict, Catwoman, and said, "Hey, Doc! That's the look I've wanted all my life! Shoot me up with pain killers and let's get'er done!!"

I know, I know...the dude is like catnip.

This latest flight got me thinking of other famous (or 'famous') people I'd flown with. And, you know what? It turns out the the last three folks all share a common thread...other than being a part of the public psyche. THEY ALL HAVE DEMONIC EYES! Carrot Top looks like he grew tired of the constant pre-show application of eyeliner, and elected instead to have his eyeliner permanently tattooed. Sure, it probably hurt, but think of all the money he saves.

Prior to my Carrot Top encounter, I had perchance the good fortune of flying from Nice, France to London beside ex-Go-Go chantruese Belinda Carlisle!

Now I will freely admit it, I used to have the hots for Miss Carlisle back in the early eighties. So when my wife pulled on my elbow and whispered, "That's Belinda Carlisle", I dismissed her. "No way, babe...Belinda is a LOT younger and more attractive than that lady." It was then that my wife explained that I was no longer a 'spring chicken', and that I looked - shall we say? - different than I did 25 years ago. I love my wife.

Sadly, my mind's image of Belinda Carlisle was not at all compatible with the reality sitting next to me, chatting away on her cellphone. Today she looks like a lot of those over-50 SoCal ladies...vainly trying to cling on - fingernails dug deep into someone's flesh - to an image of eternal youth via bad plastic surgery. It's all in the eyes, people...and I have to tell you, those eyes of hers were scaring me!

Prior to my mile-high experience with Belinda, the other last famous person I flew with was TV's own political pundit with the bad pate, Sam Donaldson.

Turns out that Sam's not a bad guy, actually...and he has a surprisingly decent sense of humor. But, man those eyes. Beedy, always in a perpetual squint. Perhaps it's not so much the eyes, as it is those two arched, woolly caterpillars that serve as eyebrows above them. And the truly awful toupée that sits above them. I couldn't help but wonder, 'does he wear such a bad rug to divert attention from those demonic eyes?' Yowsuh.

Yeah, First Class is nice enough. Did I mention they serve you free booze? I sure as hell need it...especially considering the company I've been keeping.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sticking Together.

I guess my mind's eye is primed to look at things, um, differently. Case in point? When I am on the road, I usually log onto the internet via T-Mobile. Now I've nothing against the folks at T-Mobile per se, but I'd really like to know the thinking that went into choosing the photo on their log-in page:Now, at first glance, this photo seems innocuous enough. Two co-workers sharing a laugh, perhaps? I can't help but thinking 'nope'. Is it just me, or does it look like our T-Mobile lady is getting a little backdoor action from T-Mobile boy? I mean look at that photo! Her shoulders are bare, and her hair is tossled. If you look closely at the top of her head, her hair is pushed up a little. Has T-Boy's hand found purchase in this young lady's mane?

And look at HIM! His teeth are bared, his eyes are turning Japanese (and we all remember what THAT song was about, right?). Looks to me like he is not about to say something professional...more like, "How 'bout this huuuuugggghhhhhh!!!!!!"

And, okay, it does look like they're sharing a laugh, but I've got my doubts that it's your typical office gossip. Perhaps something funny (as in kinda embarrassingly funny) has just transpired in flagrante. An accidental release of bodily gas, perhaps?

I dunno. Every time I log onto T-Mobie and see this photo I think there's something more to the T-Mobile slogan, "stick together" than meets the eye. Just one opinion. Maybe I should just stop while I'm (er, he's?) behind.


Welcome to my humble little blog site, Now That's Sick. For brevity's sake, let's just call this blog in nits. I suspect that most of my posts will consist of picking at nits anyway, so the acronym is apropos. Having never blogged before, I think were both in for a learning experience.

I spend a lot of time on the road. A LOT. I own a small winery in California. My wines are sold in over 30 states and a few other countries. So, when I'm not busy making wine, I'm often out on the road trying to sell it. That means a lot of airports, airplanes, hotels, get the idea. Having been a 'road warrior' for over 15 years, I'll let you in on a little secret: business travel sucks.

But travel does afford me the ability to encounter some funny stuff. Most of it is kinda funny. Every so often it's laugh-your-ass-off funny. This blog will allow me to share it all with you. The good. The bad. And the downright sick. And, should you care to share with me YOUR on-the-road observsations, please send them my way. I'd be happy to share them on this blog, too.

Welcome to my world!