Thursday, November 27, 2008

Is there such a thing as too much chocolate?

Rather than wax rhapsodic about turkey on this day of turkey, aka Thanksgiving, I thought I would discuss a food that we daily give thanks for, chocolate.

Ah, chocolate, made from the seeds of the tropical cacao tree, instrument of pleasure and even, occasionally, pain. Associated with virility and fertility, this product of the cacao bean has a long, rich history going back hundreds of years. And in Chicago this Wednesday, the spouse and I, along with our daughter, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and two fellow (unrelated) chocoholics got to experience if not the ultimate chocolate fantasy certainly a chocoholics dream afternoon.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a Chicago Chocolate Tour, 90 minutes of chocolaty goodness in the Windy City (aka Obamaland) condensed into one blog post.

After meeting up at the main floor Concierge Desk at 900 N. Michigan Ave., on Chicago's Magnificent Mile, we headed upstairs to Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland, home of "The best Champagne truffles on the planet," per Zagat -- and the J-TWO-O family:

Then we braved the wind and cold to go to More Cupcakes, a feast for the eyes and tummy, run by a mother of five. There we sampled chocolate/chocolate cream and chocolate/vanilla bean cupcakes:

After stumbling out of More Cupcakes in a sugar- and chocolate-induced haze, our band of merry chocolateers headed to Sarah's Candies & Pastries, the creation of longtime candy and pastry lover Sarah Levy (who is only in her 20s -- and proof that chocolate is the secret to happiness), where we got to watch a nice man enrobe candied orange peel in chocolate -- and then eat some.

After all that chocolate, things began to get a little fuzzy (and a little too milk chocolaty) for me. We headed to Water Tower Place, to Lindt, where I vaguely remember standing in front of The Wall of Truffles and eating an extra dark truffle and being cajoled to eat/buy more chocolate, and then stumbling out of the shop in search of some water, in a chocolate-induced haze.

Then we headed downstairs to the Frango store, where I did not even attempt to eat the chocolate-covered minty creations, though my daughter gamely downed both the original and limited-edition candy cane variety of Frango Mint (which has just not been the same since Macy's took over Marshall Field's, a Chicago institution).

Stumbling out of Water Tower Place we headed across several blocks to our final chocolate destination, Argo Tea, where we drank what can best be described as "liquid candy cane" but was some kind of white chocolate mint tea concoction, and were given samples of brownies, which, like the Frango Mints, I shoved into my goody bag.

Engorged with chocolate we waddled back to 900 N. Michigan and to our car -- and headed off to Whole Foods to do some last-minute Thanksgiving shopping.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, as I sit here in my heart-covered velveteen purple pajamas, I wish one and all a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving (one hopefully filled with at least a little dark chocolate, which as we now know is filled with healthy antioxidants).

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Giving Thanks

As Thanksgiving is only two days away, I thought this an appropriate time and space to give thanks to all the people, things, and events I am thankful for this year.

I am thankful...

* that I have a spouse who not only loves me but supports all of my endeavors, including this blog (on which he often comments).

* that I have a daughter who can't say "I love you" enough; who does her homework without being asked; and who loves to learn and to read and to write. (Now if only we could get her to clean up after herself....)

* to have two affectionate cats who keep me company and make me laugh in sickness and in health (one of whom is currently batting a rubber ball all over our wooden-floored house and the other of whom is pawing my hands as I type and swishing her tail across my monitor).

* for all of YOU, my blog readers, especially the ones who take the extra time to leave a comment. (With special shout outs to Dave S., who is like the brother I never had and always wanted -- and was the one who encouraged me to blog, and EMM, who makes me laugh, over at Potpourri for $500; Larissa and her haikus; my mother, who reads EVERY blog post, bless her, and always emails me a nice comment; "Moishie," also one of my most devoted readers, who leaves me funny comments; Tommy over at Blah Blog Blah; "Betty" over at Betty Cracker, one of the best political blogs to come out of this election year; and Melanie, the estimable mistress of BeanPaste, one of the funniest, sweetest, and tastiest blogs on the Web, who gave me two honorable mentions and links recently, for which I am most grateful.)

* similarly that there is this wondrous thing called "the blogosphere," which has given me (and a lot of other folks, for better and/or for worse) an outlet to say the things (well, at least some of the things) I've always wanted to say or write -- and allowed me to discover many other wonderful writers, thinkers, and photographers (many of whom are listed in my blogroll, to the right, which I recommend you check out) whom I may not otherwise have known about.

* for the work opportunities I have had and the new ones awaiting me.

* for the roof over my head, especially now that it no longer leaks.

* for the delicious food I hope to be eating over Thanksgiving break.

* for my health and the good health of my family and friends.

* that BOTH the Jets and the Giants are in first place. (And Lord, if it's not too much to ask, a Jets vs. Giants Super Bowl XLIII?)

* that Barack Hussein Obama will be our 44th President -- and that Sarah Palin will NOT be the Vice President (at least not for the next four years). For both these things, I am especially grateful.

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Leave a comment and let me know.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Football! Beer! Sex! Pumpkin pie!

Finally, a blog post for everyone.

First, football. (And ladies, if you are not interested in me talking about a bunch of guys with no necks and upper arms the size of your waist in too-tight short pants constantly touching and trying to tackle each other all for a little pigskin, just scroll down the page a wee bit. I promise you will not be disappointed.)

So football. As many of you already know, yesterday afternoon the big story here in the New York City Metro Area (and probably in Tennessee, too, albeit for different reasons) was the New York Jets mowing down undefeated Tennessee for a Titan-ic upset (think crop duster and Cary Grant in "North by Northwest"). The stunning 34 - 13 upset now gives the Jets an 8 - 3 record, leaving them securely atop the AFC East. (Well, at least for another week.) Who'd a thunk it?

And, while I admit I am a wee bit disappointed that the Jets did not wear their New York Titans uniforms, I am not disappointed in the least with Brett Favre (who now has the most passing touchdowns in NFL history, passing Dan Marino -- and yes, probably the most picks, too), Leon Washington (that guy can MOVE), Laveranues (I rest my case) Coles, and the rest of Gang Green's performance today. Well done, Jets, well done.

As for the New York Giants... 10 and 1, baby -- and still leading the NFC! Giants. Could. Go. All. The. Way. (The crowd goes wild. Okay, I go wild. And the spouse. And, okay, probably several million Giants fans watching the G-Men put away the Arizona Cardinals last night, Eastern Time). Final score, 37 - 29. And they got it done without my man, Brandon Jacobs, who sat out the game with a knee injury; without Plaxico Burress, who had hamstring problems; and without David Tyree, the guy who made that amazing (and memorable) Super Bowl XLII catch. But you would have hardly known anyone was missing the way the Giants played yesterday.

I am definitely smelling Super Bowl (though it could just be leftover beer from last year's team-changing Big Game, which was also played at University of Phoenix Stadium).

And speaking of leftover beer...

As some of my readers may remember, this summer, while biking in the Pacific Northwest, I was introduced to Fat Tire Amber Ale, and quickly became addicted*. This addiction quickly turned into obsession when, upon my return to the Northeast, I discovered, you cannot get Fat Tire in the Northeast. Bereft and distraught (after discovering I could not even get New Belgium Brewing to ship me a case, nor could I find someone online who would ship me some), my dear friend, T. from B., who as far as I know isn't even that into beer, then took it upon herself to purchase and have shipped to me 20 22 oz. bottles of this nectar of the beer gods.

Beautiful, are they not? Talk about Drinkability. Mm mm.

Well, sadly, we are now down to eight bottles, two of which we are saving to give to my stepfather, who relishes a good beer, in a couple weeks. (And no, T. from B., this does NOT mean you need to order me more. Your original gift was more than generous.)

Besides, you know what too much beer leads to, right? Sex. Well, if you are lucky, guys. You know what else can lead to sex? Doing the dishes. (Hey, my man Obama is no fool.)

Just look at that picture. Is that sexy or what? Ladies, you know what I am talking about. The best part? I did not even have to ask the spouse to clean those filthy oven racks. He just donned his bright orange latex gloves and started scrubbing away, while our oven was self cleaning and we were watching the Jets game (see above). I think that behavior deserves a reward.

Which is why I made this:

That be mighty fine pie -- topped with the best homemade whipped cream you never had. (My secret: rum. And vanilla. Hmm. Guess it's not a secret anymore.)

Okay, technically, I made this delicious-looking (and tasting!) pumpkin pie because our neighbors (both of whom are Giants and Fat Tire fans) invited us over for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving feast yesterday, and we were tasked with bringing a pie and a vegetable. (I made a big autumn salad, even though it feels more like winter.) Also, the kid's been pestering me to make a pumpkin pie for years.

In all, it was a mighty fine Sunday. A win-win-win. (Great football. Great food. Great fun.)

Coming up next on J-TWO-O, things I am thankful for. Stay tuned...

12 NOON OFF-TOPIC UPDATE: This just in: Tiger Woods will no longer be forced to drive a Buick. According to reports, GM will no longer use Woods as a pitchman after this year, which is reportedly fine by Tiger as he hated being taken for an eighty-something driver and wearing those funny driving caps.

*A clarification: I am not technically addicted to Flat Tire (or any other beer or form of alcohol), though it sure felt that way during the latter part of the summer. It was a TURN OF PHRASE, a bit of hyperbole. Happy now, J1?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Bronx Mowgli" and what else NOT to name your child

I get the whole "let's be original! our child needs to stand out from the pack!" mentality, parents of Suri, Sunday, Shiloh, Moses and Apple. But Ever Gabo? Zuma Nesta Rock? And Bronx Mowgli? Give me -- and the poor kid -- a friggin' break! Not that I am saying everyone should name his or her kid something traditional (i.e., English or Biblical -- and let's face it, there are some mighty odd names, at least by today's standards, in the Bible). Just something spellable and pronounceable, that won't give the poor kid a complex.

So herewith I give you "J.'s Rules for What Not to Name Your Child." (Note: The opinions expressed herein are J.'s and are not necessarily shared by her family or friends.)

1. Do not name your child something offensive or obsene (or just downright stupid), like "Shithead" (pronounced "Shuh-TEED") or "Loser" (though Loser turned out to be a winner, while his brother, Winner, turned out to be a loser), both cases mentioned in the book Freakonomics. In New Zealand, authorities have the right to turn down names that are openly offensive or obscene and have already said no to Fish and Chips, Yeah Detroit, Stallion, Twisty Poi, Keenan Got Lucky, Sex Fruit, Fat Boy, Satan, Adolf Hitler, and 4Real. For real. In fact, the parents of "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii" lost custody of the child, who went by the initial "K" instead, she was so embarrassed by her name.

2. Do not name your child after a borough of the City of New York. (Yeah, I'm talking to you David and Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham and you, Ashlee with two "e"s and Pete Wenz.)

3. Do not name your child after a beach. (Do you know what kind of sludge washes up onto beaches?)

4. Do not name your child after a beverage, adult or otherwise. (Does the world really need another "Budweiser" or "Zuma"? Though the parents of the latter say they named him after the beach. Though really, is a beach any better? See above.)

5. Do not name your child after a day of the week, unless you are a member of the Addams Family. (Though, okay, Tuesday -- nee Susan -- Weld was pretty cute, though she suffered a nervous breakdown at 9, started drinking heavily at 10, and tried to kill herself at 12. Are you paying attention, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban?)

6. Do not name your child after your or anyone else's car. (Why? Do you really want to hear some guy say "Oh what a feeling to drive a Toyota" when you know he's not talking about the car? Enough said.)

7. Do not name your child after a menu item, even one from a fancy French restaurant. (Yes, I'm talking 'bout you, parents of all those "Happy Meals." And while I love a good cupcake, I do not suggest naming your child after one.)

8. Do not pick a name you can't spell, and then come up with some weird spelling that no one else can spell or pronounce. (FYI, If you, an adult, can't spell it, what makes you think your kid, his friends, and/or his teachers will?) PC Warning: The only possible exception to this rule is if you know for sure your son is going to grow up to be a professional basketball or football player in the United States. And even then, can't you cut the announcers/commentators some slack? Their job is hard enough as is.

Special note here for my Welsh and Irish/Gaelic readers: This rule does not necessarily apply to you, especially if you reside in Wales or Ireland where I assume you and other people will know how to spell your child's name, even if the rest of us don't.

I am sure if I sat here long enough, I could come up with more rules, but I need to take little Hard Day's Night Two-O shopping for some winter outerwear.

P.S. If you want to have a little fun researching baby names, try the The Baby Name Wizard, where you can "explore name trends letter by letter."

UPDATED 12:08 P.M.: I just came across this blog/web post titled "Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing: A Primer on Parent Cruelty," which is also pretty darn funny (and/or scary, depending on your point of view).

UPDATED AGAIN AT 3:55 P.M.: How could I have possibly left off Kal-el Coppola Cage, Moxie CrimeFighter Jillette, or Soleil Moon Frye, who named her children Jagger and Poet? (For more unusual celebrity baby names, click on the link.)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Will it be the (NY) Titans vs. the (TN) Titans this Sunday? And other things on my mind...

First, the Jets, and this Sunday's big matchup against the Tennessee Titans.

Think of the mayhem and witty repartee that matchup would elicit from the CBS crew covering the game, especially the color commentator, if the Jets decided to wear their New York Titans uniforms! (Laura S., cover your ears.) It would be the (New York) Titans vs. the (Tennessee) Titans, both of whom are first in their respective divisions (albeit the ones from Tennessee are undefeated)!

Btw, for those who did not read my previous post on this subject, where I asked "Yo Jets, what's the deal with the 'Titans' uniforms?, I get that the Jets (who play in New Jersey, though originally played in New York, at Shea Stadium) started life in 1960 as the New York Titans. And I get the whole nostalgia, yearning for the glory days, it's a great marketing opportunity/sell more stuff thing. But let us recall, dear Jets management and sports fans, it was not the New York Titans who won Super Bowl III. It was the New York Jets.

And this whole throwback uniform thing has got to stop. Well, after Sunday anyways, that is assuming the Jets do don their Titans regalia, which they probably won't. I mean, did you see the Pittsburgh Steelers throwback uniforms the other week? Pathetic.

More importantly, you do not see the Baltimore Ravens donning Colts uniforms (even though, technically, they were the Cleveland Browns). No. Nor do you see the Houston Texans donning Oilers uniforms (though technically the Oilers are now the Tennessee Titans, as opposed to the New York Titans, who are, as we know, now known as the New York Jets, even though they play in -- everybody now -- New Jersey). As for the current Cleveland Browns... I'll just leave that one alone.

Getting back to the Jets... As I was saying, I get the whole nostalgia + cool new uniforms = $$$ thing (though I doubt that New York Titans jerseys and paraphernalia are exactly flying off the shelves), but enough already. Or enough after this Sunday.

Please, Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum, grant me this one little wish and have the Jets wear their New York Titans uniforms one last time? Then, boys, it's back to business and to being Gang Green, not Gang Teal and Gold, OK?

Btw, I am not 100% sure about this, but I am pretty sure the Jets Flight Crew (aka the Jets cheerleaders, pictured above, obviously before winter came early) never donned Titans uniforms, though someone please correct me if I am wrong. And don't they look fine?

No matter which uniforms they wear this Sunday, though, I wish the Jets luck in their matchup with the (soon to be defeated?) Tennessee Titans, though the spouse and I have a soft spot for Titans QB Kerry Collins, who once played for the New York Giants. Still, if Brett Favre doesn't throw a pick (or three) and doesn't get sacked, and the Jets defense holds, I think the Jets could just clip the Titans.

Other Things on My Mind (in No Particular Order)...

* Dave S.'s theory of grocery bagging, which I don't have a problem with, as long as he's the one left holding the bag(s).

* Cupcakes! My friend, Cat, who lives in Paris, recently started a cupcake business and blog -- and the cupcake pictures alone (which she took) have me continually checking the site.

* When the will-she-or-won't-she drama over whether Hillary Clinton will be Obama's Secretary of State will end. (Please tell me this psychodrama will end BEFORE Thanksgiving. Please?)

* Why lawmakers (i.e., Congress) are holding the auto industry to higher standards (something they should have done YEARS ago) than the financial services industry, which has also done a good job of pissing away money, and taking consumers for a ride.

* Wondering if there is a new post up on my new favorite humor blog, I'm Not Feeling You.

* Anderson Cooper. (Blog post to come soon, Lizzy.)

* The Puppy Cam!

* People who walk behind moving cars (namely mine), i.e., see you moving but decide to walk or run behind you as you are backing out anyway and then get annoyed with YOU.

* And, should I be concerned that my spouse now has a Facebook page?

Have something on your mind that you want to share with the group? Go ahead and leave me a comment.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Alas, poor Yugo! (Last Yugo rolls of the assembly line today.)

Sure, the Yugo, the pride of the former Soviet Yugoslavia, had its problems -- engine problems, transmission problems, clutch problems, electrical problems, door problems... (Did I leave anything out?) But according to this Associated Press story, it was the Volkswagen Beetle (the original, popular one) of the former Yugoslav republics. A practical cult figure in car culture. And "over 100,000 Yugo GVs — standing for Great Value — were sold in the U.S. before Yugo America — the company that imported it — went bankrupt."

(Although Time magazine voted the Yugo one of The Fifty Worst Cars of All Time, you would hardly have guessed it from this commercial.)

But, sadly, as of today, even Eastern Europeans will no longer have the Yugo to kick (or push*) around anymore, at least not any new ones, because today, comrades, the last Yugo is rolling off the assembly line in Kragujevac, Serbia.

And as we bid a fond farewell (or good riddance) to the Yugo, which joins other once iconic vehicles (aka deathtraps) such as the Ford Pinto and the AMC Gremlin in that junkyard in the sky, I leave you with this quote from a proud Serbian Yugo owner: "This is driving in its most natural form. You feel every bump, squeak and jolt, and one can enjoy the sweet smell of gasoline and exhaust fumes.... No car can replace it."

(Or, as Hamlet might have said: "Alas, poor Yugo! I knew it, Horatio. A car of infinite jest, of most ill-conceived fancy. It hath bore me on its seats a thousand times, and now how abhorr'd in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it.")

So goodbye Yugo. And goodbye Yugo jokes*. You will be missed. (Not.)

* Q: Why does a Yugo have a defroster on the rear window?

A: To keep your hands warm while you push it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Happy Belated Birthday to Demi Moore

Who turned 46 (46!) on November 11. (Making her much older than I am. Ahem. ; ) While I am not personally a Demi Moore fan, I know at least one of my (male) readers is. So here is a little Demi Candy for you, honey.

For the record, though, I do not believe she was Mrs. Ashton Kutcher yet when this photo was taken (if you catch my drift). ; )

And speaking of Ashton Kutcher, 30, who is not-so-bad-looking himself, per today's Scoop column on MSNBC, Mr. Demi Moore threw his wifey an intimate dinner party for 20 or so friends near where Demi was shooting her latest film.

As Scoop columnist Courtney Hazlett reported:

“They were cuddling and kissing all night,” a witness told Us. And it’s no secret that Kutcher is completely smitten with his wife of three years. “He’s in such awe of her,” a source tells Us. “He’s always telling her how beautiful she is and telling his friends how lucky he is.”

All together now: Aaaaaaw.

Gentleman, please take notice. You want to know the way to a woman's heart, the real one? Remember to tell her how beautiful she is -- and tell your friends how lucky you are. Granted, we are not all Demi Moores. But then again, how many of you are Ashton Kutchers?

UPDATED 11:15 A.M.: Blog reader "Another David S." just sent me this pre-boob job picture of Demi, with the note, "How gorgeous was this woman?"

I think Demi was around 18 at the time. I am with the boys on this one: she was way better looking before all the work. But I may be a bit biased as a lifetime member of the IBTC.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Really, what is so hard about bagging a bunch of groceries?

Granted, I have a master's degree (albeit in International Relations, not in Bagging). But seriously, do you really need an advanced degree, or even a college diploma, to figure out how to put a shopping cart's worth of stuff into three canvas bags so that one bag does not weigh 20 pounds more than the others?

Oh, and before you politically correct types start pointing out that a lot of baggers are mentally challenged and don't know any better, let me state for the record that I am not referring to those particular baggers, who often do a better job than the seemingly non-mentally challenged.

Why do I even care (or care enough to blog about bagging)? Because I have a really bad upper back/neck/shoulder problem. (One doctor diagnosed me with early stage cervical arthritis years ago. The same doctor whose response to my months of agony was to tell me to take two Aleve and call him the next week.) And if or when I carry anything too heavy, the pressure on my upper back and neck triggers a migraine, which sidelines me for hours or sometimes days. That's why. So I am extremely careful about the bagging of groceries.

To prevent the dreaded bagging problem, my past strategy was to sweetly tell the baggers at my local Stop & Shop (and other grocery stores I frequent) to distribute the weight between bags (which I brought), because I had a bad back, and even made helpful suggestions. And I swear they would look me straight in the eye, say "sure ma'am!" and then completely ignore me. One time I was so frustrated, I rebagged several items right there at checkout.

More typically, though, I choose lanes without a bagger and tell the checkout person that I will bag my own stuff, which usually elicits a "thank you!" Or I do self checkout. But even self checkout is not so "self" anymore, as I experienced today (and on some other days).

There I was, doing the early morning grocery run, rushing so I could get back to my home office in time to put my purchases away before starting in on my latest project (i.e., work), flinging my stuff through the scanner when a middle-aged male store employee came over and started to bag my stuff. "Thank you!" I sweetly said, quickly tossing him my bags, so I could return to scanning my items. In the process, I failed to mention my equal distribution request. And when I looked up a few seconds later, I saw that he had crammed all the heavy items into one bag and was staring at my third bag, which was empty, until he quickly shoved the last few remaining light items into.

I sighed inwardly, signed the pad, and hurried out, thanking the man as I passed him (while inwardly cursing him). When I got back to my car, about half a block away from prying eyes, I rearranged some of the items in hopes of saving my back some strain, asking myself "Why? Why is it that in a town full of reasonably bright, at least somewhat educated, more or less logical people, NO ONE knows how to strategically bag a bunch of groceries?"

I think the Europeans absolutely have the right idea: bring your own (preferably non-plastic) bags and bag your stuff yourself.

UPDATED 11:25 A.M.: The bad news: My interviewee just bailed on me. AGAIN. Though is supposedly going to call me later. The good news: lots of action this morning on the Puppy Cam!

UPDATED 6:59 P.M.: No headache so far, despite lugging. And I finally managed to nail down all my interviews for my next article -- and wrote another article in between interviews. Yup, pretty darn proud of myself. And all this hard work has earned me another trip to... the Puppy Cam! Gosh, they are cute. Oh, and a big THANK YOU to all the folks who weighed in on bagging (both here and offline). Still plenty of time to leave more comments, folks! Step right up!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do the dishes? Yes, he can!

But will Barack Obama have to do the dishes now that he's the President Elect? Maybe, at least until the Obamas move into their new digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Don't know if any of you caught last night's 60 Minutes, which featured a lengthy Steve Kroft interview with Barack and Michelle Obama. It was a hoot. The spouse and I especially enjoyed watching the husband-and-wife dynamics on display, particularly on the subject of household chores.

Taken from the transcript:

Kroft: You told me that when you went off to Washington and made the decision to live there and when you came back to Chicago you had certain chores that you had to perform. You had to wash the dishes and make your bed.

Mr. Obama: Yeah.

Kroft: Are you free now on that front?

Mr. Obama: Well, I…

Kroft: Certainly there’s gonna be somebody else to wash the dishes and make your bed.

Michelle Obama: Yes.

Mr. Obama: Though sometimes it’s soothing to wash the dishes.

Michelle Obama: You? Since when was it ever soothing for you to wash the dishes?

Mr. Obama: You know, when I had to do it. I’d make it into a soothing thing.

Yeah, I find doing the dishes very soothing, too. How about you, ladies? (Must be all that Palmolive.)

Btw, my sister-in-law used to have a sign in her kitchen that read "No man was ever shot while doing the dishes." Unfortunately, it broke. And my brother-in-law hasn't done the dishes since. (Just kidding!) But seriously, Michelle may want to invest in one of these little aprons for Barack.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Could YOU give up your BlackBerry? What about the Puppy Cam?

Some addictions are hard to break. This weekend (courtesy of we learned that President-Elect Barack Obama (as well as many, if not most, of his advisers) is a CrackBerry addict. We also learned (courtesy of The Today Show and MSNBC) about the newest Internet addiction, the Puppy Cam.

First to Barack Obama and his BlackBerry addiction. Like many men (and women) of a certain age, President Obama, over the years, has come to depend (heavily) on this combination email, smartphone, data, application, gaming, Internet tool, whose tagline is "It's got the power and performance to drive your desires." The power and performance to drive your desires?! Whoa. That's strong stuff. And no doubt why, per the Times article, "For years, like legions of other professionals, Mr. Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry. The device has rarely been far from his side — on most days, it was fastened to his belt...."

I see you nodding your heads. You know of what I speak fellow CrackBerry Heads. And you know what's coming.

Due to concerns about e-mail security and "the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas," Obama is going to have to quit his BlackBerry (and probably email, too) FOR FOUR WHOLE, LONG YEARS. No more typing "Sox!" to friends when the Chicago White Sox win a game. No more surreptitiously looking up box scores during dinner parties or shows (oh, sorry, that's my spouse). No more firing off memos to aides at 1 a.m.

Instead of going cold turkey, apparently the President Elect is slowly weaning himself off his BlackBerry, only reading messages. But it hasn't been easy, say friends. As you can imagine, his thumbs are already twitching.

Can the President Elect go cold turkey? Could you? I doubt my spouse could stay off his CrackBerry for four hours (ok, four minutes) let alone four years.

And speaking of addictions... This morning I was nearly distraught to learn that the Puppy Cam was OFF AIR. What do they mean by "Off Air"? I want my live view of those six adorable five-week-old Shiba Inu puppies out in San Francisco!

Sure, go ahead and lure me into the addictive cuteness of watching these adorable pups sleep, play, and wrestle 24/7. Then, when I (and millions of other likewise-addicted Americans, and Europeans, and Asians) go to get my morning fix, just pull the plug (literally). (I just checked again, still "Off Air," but they do have some cute pictures of the puppies and video clips taken with the Puppy Cam.)

Curse you,! Now what am I supposed to do, watch the Guinea Pig Cam?

(Okay, technically, there is no Guinea Pig Cam, yet. It was just an idea a friend floated, after I sent her a link to the Puppy Cam. Though upon reflection she later wrote it was probably not a good idea as "the little bugger would probably figure out a way to climb up and eat it." Still, bereft of my Puppy Cam (for now), I begged her to hook up a Guinea Pig Cam anyway. But she dashed my hopes, yet again, by writing, "He's pretty boring, really. Just eats and [poops] all day long. His name is Pez because he dispenses little oblong pellets everywhere.")

So, like Barack Obama, I too must face down my addiction and learn to live without it, at least until Ustream gets the damn Puppy Cam back online (hopefully later today).

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hillary Clinton the Next Secretary of State?

As many of you probably know, the junior Senator from New York and former First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, was at Transition HQ in Chicago yesterday, meeting with President-Elect Barack Obama. And I don't think it was to give him tips on how to raise children in the White House or to suggest China patterns, despite the Obama camp saying that the talks were strictly "personal" in nature. Whatever that means.

Odds are the President Elect met with Senator Clinton to discuss what role she would/will play in the Obama Administration -- and right now the oddsmakers and pundits and talking heads are saying Hillary could be the next Secretary of State.

Although several folks in the know have been pegging or touting Hillary for Secretary of State since (and even before) Obama passed her over for Vice President (which, I believe, was much more about Bill than Hill), I never really thought much about it. Until this morning. And I think it's an interesting, and a good, pick -- and a nice plum or reward for Senator Clinton, who has done more than any other defeated candidate for President to support her opponent (in terms of campaigning and fundraising) than anyone else in history.

I also happen to think Barry and Hillary look kinda cute together.

Don't you?

Oh, and if by some chance someone from Senator Clinton's staff or the Obama camp happens to come across this post, consider this blog part of my application to serve in a Hillary Clinton-led State Department. I even listed the State Department as one of the places I'd like to work in the Obama-Biden Administration on the Long Application for Employment I filled out earlier this week, before I knew Senator Clinton was in contention to be Secretary of State. (Oh, and did I mention, we both went to Wellesley? Where's that Old Girl Network when you need it?)

So Rahm (Emanuel) or Hillary, if you are reading this, please email or call me.

Thank you.

UPDATED 4:08 P.M.: Clearly, Hillary is THE BIG topic of the day (besides the stock market crashing again and the wildfire in Santa Barbara). I've been reading lots of articles and some blog posts on the topic, and I found this one in Slate particularly amusing.

UPDATED 7:31 P.M.: Heard a line this afternoon that the reason Barack Obama wanted Hillary for Secretary of State was so that she would be the one to answer the phone at 3 a.m. Made me chuckle. Oh, and Hillary, or Friends of Hillary (FOH), if you are reading this blog, please ignore or forgive any early entries that were less than favorable. Bygones? And did I mention, you looked absolutely stunning in that royal blue (or was it tourquoise?) pantsuit and in that number you wore to the Al Smith dinner?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Can the Jets OutFox(borough) the Patriots? And Will Sarah Palin EVER Shut Up?

Yes, ladies and gentleman, only on this blog, J-TWO-O, do you see two of the most important questions of our time (okay, this week) addressed simultaneously.

First, the Jets (and the Patriots). The last time the New York Jets held a share of first place in the AFC East this late in the season was 2004. And four years is a loooong time for football fans, especially Jets football fans, who are not a patient (nor a polite) lot.

But with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still being nursed back to health by the lovely Gisele, several other key Patriots players out for at least the regular season, and the Jets, with new QB Brett Favre at the helm and just signed cornerback Ty Law (a former Patriot) on a winning streak, anything is possible, even in Foxborough.

The game will be broadcast live starting at eight tonight on the NFL Network, and on Channel 11 (WPIX or "the CW," as it is now known) in the New York Metropolitan area. And I will be watching (until I fall asleep, probably at the half or sometime in the third quarter).

As for the Governor of Alaska... Is there no stopping or shutting up this woman?! Clearly, God works in strange and mysterious ways. Or maybe He/She just got tired of listening to Ms. Palin using His/Her name in vain and just stuck on His/Her hPhones and tuned out.

Attention all male pundits, politicos, reporters, news show hosts and member of Fox News (both male and female): Please take a cold shower, lay off the Viagra (or Cialis), and stop shoving your microphones in this woman's mouth. Please? Instead, go order yourself an extra large pizza, with all the toppings, get yourself a six pack or some really good microbrew, and watch tonight's football game instead. Now that's something worth tackling.

UPDATED 11/14/08 AT 8:23 A.M.: We're number one, hey! We're number one, hey! Okay, in the American Football Conference East. Who'd a thunk it, though, huh? But the Jets managed to eke out a win over former Super Bowl champs the New England Patriots last night, 34 - 31 in overtime (though I was long asleep by then) on the Patriots home turf. Well done, Gang Green. Now onward and upward, to Tennessee and the undefeated Titans (the real ones, though I personally think it would be hysterical if the Jets wore their New York Titans uniforms next week). Stay tuned, Jets fans... (Now if only someone would put Ms. Palin in her place.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What's next, bail out the lawyers?

I nearly spit up on my keyboard earlier this morning when, as I was perusing the front page of The New York Times Online, I came across the headline "Law Firms Feel Strain of Layoffs and Cutbacks." Immediately that little voice in my head (the one that was singing Depeche Mode's "Master and Servant" much of yesterday afternoon -- thanks Dave S.) said "uh oh, here we go again; here comes another bailout." (Though I don't think the little voice used a semicolon).

According to the article, dozens of law firms around the country, including some of the biggest and best well known, are suffering financially and, as a result, laying off associates. There are even some firms that, and I quote, "have collapsed outright... [leaving] several hundred lawyers out in the cold." Brrr.

I am trying to shed a tear for the dearly departed (i.e., recently unemployed attorneys), really, but unlike when I read the words President Elect Barack Obama, my eyes are dry -- make that bloodshot.

Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are or are married to lawyers. And these lawyers are some of the smartest, funniest, nicest people I know -- honest! -- and I would feel bad (really!) if they lost their jobs. And I would have been utterly lost without the trusts and estates attorney who helped me after my father's untimely death (and I am not just typing this because she happens to be my sister-in-law).

But should law firms be bailed out? I don't think so. (And for the record, at least as far as I have heard, no one in Congress is suggesting a legal bailout, at least not yet.) I have still yet to be convinced that the Big Three U.S. automobile manufactures deserve a bailout. And do NOT get me started about AIG (unless you want to see my head start spinning around and foam pour from my mouth).

Getting back to the subject at hand... Do you know one of the reasons why law firms are having to lay off attorneys? Fewer lawsuits. And really, is that a bad thing?

11:43 A.M.: On a totally unrelated note, I just found out my comment (#149) on Maureen Dowd's latest Op-Ed piece in The New York Times Online, "Boxers, Briefs or Silks," on Sarah Palin, is an Editor's Selection and am foaming at the mouth in a good way. If you have a few seconds, click on the link and read the article and the comment.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I wonder if the citizens of Atlantis believed in global warming

And I don't mean the resort in the Bahamas.

I am, of course, referring to The Lost Island (or Continent) of Atlantis, which supposedly now lies some 20,000 (or however many) leagues under the sea (possibly the South China Sea).

And with sea levels on the rise, the Maldives (the world's lowest country, sea-level wise) could be next. Which is why the first democratically elected president of the Maldives is currently shopping for a new homeland for his people. (I wonder if he has considered California, Florida, or Nevada, all of which have warm climates and lots of available real estate, at very affordable prices!)

According to an article in today's Christian Science Monitor (which launched me on this rant), Pacific and Indian Ocean island nations are dropping like flies (or, I guess more accurately, drowning like flies). And "other low-lying Pacific islands that could disappear in this century include those in Tuvalu, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, and Fiji." (Tip to tourists: Now would be a really good time to book that vacation to the Maldives and/or Fiji, ya know, while they're still above water.)

But don't just think this is some Asian problem. Oh no. Do the words Katrina and New Orleans not ring a (warning) bell? And let us not forget that Manhattan is pretty much at sea level and possibly one tsunami or Category 4 or 5 hurricane away from having its residents swimming with the fishes (though according to what I've been reading about the current financial crisis, there are a lot of people out there who think that wouldn't be such a bad thing).

Just some things to think about as you drive your SUV and wonder if there is really such a thing as global warming.

I just hope President Elect Barack Obama keeps his promises, so we all don't wind up permanently underwater...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Jets, Giants win again... Change you can click on... And what is it with old people and Buicks?

Obama won. Jets won. Giants won. Really, does it get any better than this?

Barack Obama is now going to be our #1 (or our Numero Uno, for all my Spanish-speaking readers) when it comes to government and/or governance. And thanks to their wins this weekend, both the Jets (who slaughtered the St. Louis Rams, 47 - 3) and the Giants (who clipped the Philadelphia Eagles, 36 - 31) are now number one in their respective conference divisions. (Okay, okay. For you purists, aka New England Patriots fans, the Jets are technically tied for first in the AFC East right now. But considering where they were last year, this is HUGE. And the Giants, with an 8 - 1 record, lead the National Football Conference outright. Take that Cowboys and Redskins fans.)

I am still waiting for my official post-election Obama-Biden t-shirt, but in the meantime I am showing my support for my other favorite teams.

Btw, speaking of the president elect and his new administration, I invite and recommend you all to visit Barack Obama's new website,, where you can read the latest news about the country's next executive team, share your election/campaign stories, and even apply for a job with the Obama administration (which I did over the weekend -- keep your fingers crossed for me!).

Lastly (and having nothing to do with Obama, the Jets, or the Giants), What the heck is it about seventy- and eightysomethings and Buicks?! I nearly got run over by some white-haired granny in a big blue (circa 1990?) Buick this morning in the parking lot at Whole Foods, and this wasn't the first time. Over the weekend, I got stuck behind another elderly woman, driving an older "Champagne" or "Cashmere"-colored Buick, who illegally turned right in front of me, then practically stopped dead, then again not using a turn signal turned left after waiting what seemed like forever at a stop sign.

I know Tiger Woods, 31, has been the or a spokesperson for Buick since 1999, but I dare you to find me one Buick driver under the age of 50.

That's all for now. Just remember to drive safely -- and check out

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Why don't the Obamas adopt a cat -- or two?

I like dogs, but a cat -- better yet, two cats -- would be a much more practical pet for the White House. Cats do not have to be walked. Cats are fastidious. Cats are useful. Cats do not spill the water from their water bowl all over the floor, gnaw on shoes or tear up the house when you leave them alone for a few hours. And they can be quite affectionate.

Yes, I know Malia Obama is allergic to pet dander, but just like there are hypoallergenic dogs, there are hypoallergenic cats, like this lovely Siberian:

Oh, and for those who say dogs make better pets and/or are more fun, I beg to differ. Cats are MUCH easier to care for (did I mention the no walking at 6 a.m. or 11 p.m. in the rain or snow, freezing cold or blistering heat?) and can be lots of fun. Just check out Exhibit A:

Or even better, to show the world that his administration will be truly bipartisan, Barack Obama and his family should adopt a dog AND a cat (from a shelter, if possible).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Best Birthday Present Ever

Okay, maybe not "ever." The Nikon D70s the spouse and his mom got me a few years ago was pretty sweet. But if you are a football fan, specifically a NY* Giants** (7 - 1 and the best record in the NFC, baby!) football fan, with a good sense of humor, this gift is pretty hard to top, though the Jose Reyes t-shirt (Mets #7) in the Victoria's Secret box, which the spouse gave me for our anniversary, may have.

That said, though, I am extremely pleased to have received an official Brandon Jacobs (Giants running back, #27) t-shirt on this my natal day, as well as the official NFL-approved thongs (the tags on which promise "Satisfaction Guaranteed!"). I just had to promise the spouse that I would not pose for or post any pictures of me in said thongs, which, really, is not a problem. (Sorry Tommy.) Though we did toy with the idea of sticking them on the cats.

UPDATED 9:35 A.M.: A friend just wrote, "I would have thought the Obama win would have been the best birthday present ever." She does have a point. Am waiting for my limited edition t-shirt from the Obama campaign (for making a donation to the DNC on behalf of the Obama campaign), in the mean time, there is this:

Though really, apparel-wise, I am currently more excited about my Giants garb. : )

* Technically the New Jersey Giants
** I am also a Jets fan

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Coverage, Part Deux: Barack Obama declared the next president of the United States

Maybe John McCain should not have elected to watch the results in the Barry Goldwater Suite. More live blogging on tonight's historic presidential election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain... (Btw, to read the first part of my 2008 Presidential Election Coverage, click here.)

10:29 p.m. ET: The Barry Goldwater Suite?! I cannot believe John McCain and Sarah Palin are camped out in the Barry Goldwater Suite.

10:33 p.m. MSNBC projects Georgia to go for McCain. Again, not a huge surprise, though in my fantasy (okay, my Obama becomes the President fantasy -- I'm not going to blog about the others), the entire electoral map is blue.

Aside: What is the deal with Tom Cruise and this "Valkyrie" movie? All these guys are speaking with British accents looking, well, British (though they are supposed to be German), and then there is Tom Cruise. I say the movie dies. In other movie news, I am loving the new, sexy commercial for "Quantum of Solace" with the funky soundtrack. I don't like blonds but I think I could make an exception for Daniel Craig. (Note to self: You still need to rent/see "Casino Royale.")

10:39 p.m. Sigh. Back to presidential election coverage. South Dakota is seeing red.

You know what's fun about watching MSNBC? You get to watch some poor schlubs putting red or blue states on the Rockefeller Center rink -- and listen to the comic stylings of Mike Murphy, who is getting funnier as the evening goes on.

10:42 p.m. NEBRASKA?! Come on. Does ANYONE really care about Nebraska (besides Nebraskans and people who went to college there? Go Huskers!)

10:44 p.m. Oooh, Chucky T. (aka Chuck Todd) just used the "P" word = (insert ominous music) Projections. Though I'm liking that "284" Chuck just put up on the big board, for Obama.

10:46 p.m. The spouse is flipping channels. Oh. My. God. CNN has totally lost it. I am watching Will.I.Am "via hologram" on CNN, speaking with Anderson Cooper. How does Cooper keep a straight face? So help me, if Will.I.Am says "Beam me up, Scotty," I am going to lose it.

Flipping channels again... back to MSNBC...

10:49 p.m. Pat Buchanan admits he's not a McCain man. Shocking. Not. Blames McCain's problems on the Dow dropping 5000 points. Hurrah for Rachel Maddow counterpunching and noting that McCain ran "an atrociously bad campaign." Wow, Buchanan is totally throwing McCain under the bus, or should I say, the Straight Talk Express.

And we're back on CNN... which is panning to various "watching parties" around the world, including places like Sydney and Kenya.

WTF? Bill Bennett will "pray for Barack Obama and this country"?! What a fat, fatuous pig. So much for objectivity. And btw, what exactly makes McCain a "war hero"? Did he save lots of people? Sacrifice himself to save others? Cause being a POW, while an awful, awful thing, does not equal "hero." And as for the awful, awful war in Iraq, there would have been no need for a surge if we hadn't gone over there in the first place. How many years has it been since "Mission Accomplished"?

11:00 p.m. NBC NEWS HAS JUST CALLED THE ELECTION FOR BARACK OBAMA. MSNBC gives Obama 284 electoral votes; McCain has 146. CNN also projecting Obama the winner with 297 electoral votes, to McCain's 139.

God Bless America. And God Keep Barack Obama Safe. (And thank you for not giving us Vice President Sarah Palin.)

UPDATED 11:17 p.m.: Obama also projected to win Colorado and Florida, bringing his electoral college total to 333 -- and Jesse Jackson is crying (probably because he wasn't elected president, though maybe I'm being a bit harsh).

11:18 p.m. Senator John McCain is giving his concession speech. Very gracious. I actually have tears in my eyes. (And there are a lot of very white, very unhappy people at The Biltmore -- and no sign of Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber, at least on MSNBC. OK. Just saw her, though it took a while. Now will she please GO AWAY?)

11:24 p.m. Although he doesn't need the money, McCain could always have a career selling stuff (McCain Fein Gold anyone?) on QVC.

11:27 p.m. Okay. I'm done. Good night -- and good luck to President Obama.

UPDATED 11/5/08 at 7:33 a.m.: Yes, We Did. For those of you who missed Obama's acceptance speech, here it is (in two parts):

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the 44th President of the United States.

Election Coverage, Part 1: I've Got the Blues

In Washington, D.C., where I spent the last four days, and got to tour the Capitol (Monday) and the White House (this morning!), they have been hard at work on the inauguration, and everyone is really, really tired and ready for this election (and the inauguration) to be OVER. Amen. I just hope my candidate wins.

9:22 p.m. ET: The "big news" just announced on MSNBC minutes ago is that Ohio has gone for Obama, yet I am not holding my breath. Actually, I am holding my breath. This election, as of right now, is too early -- or too close (depending on whom you are listening to) -- to call, and looking at that constantly changing electoral map, with Florida and Virginia still uncalled, I am very, very nervous.

9:32 p.m. MSNBC just called New Mexico, another formerly "red" state for Obama.

From earlier today, from my brother-in-law, who works in downtown Chicago, near Grant Park, which is overflowing with Obama supporters: "Madness in Chicago... They shut down [my building] at 3. If [Obama] doesn't win, our city (as many others) will go up in flames."

9:37 p.m. West Virginia goes into the Red Zone, following Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and the usual Southern suspects.

9:47 p.m. Florida, Florida, Florida. Man, I miss Russert. Saw his "Florida, Florida, Florida" white board while at the Newseum this weekend. The spouse, who is (surprise) holding the remote, has flipped over to NBC. Note: The graphics on MSNBC are much better.

9:54 p.m. Illinois is projected to go to Obama. (Breathe in, breathe out.) Okay, not a huge suprise. Oh, and here's Texas: And Texas has gone for Senator McCain. Really, is anyone surprised? I am so not going to make it 'til Midnight or whenever the hell this thing is called (probably 3 a.m. or later/earlier).

Btw, what the hell does "characterizations" mean? David Gregory keeps talking about "coverage and characterizations." Is Frank whatshisname going to come on and do impressions or something? (For the record, his John Madden is quite funny.)

9:57 p.m. Commercial break on MSNBC. The spouse has now flipped over to CNN. Yawn. I don't know about you, but these pundits are putting me to sleep (though Anderson Cooper is cuter than David Gregory).

10:00 p.m. Back to MSNBC and the big news is: Iowa has gone to Obama and Utah has gone to McCain. So now the electoral count is at 207 for Obama, 129 McCain. And Florida is still too close to call, though Obama has a slight lead. Ditto North Carolina and Virginia. (And if I find out that one of my VA friends did not vote, I will be very, very cross. You know who you are.) In other states... Indiana is now too close to call, as is Arizona (McCain's home state!), and Colorado.

10:06 p.m. I am no longer really listening to Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann. It's like some political circle jerk. And now to The Biltmore in Arizona. Not exactly the same kind of energy or crowd as over in Grant Park. "If only the economy hadn't tanked," one member of the McCain campaign is reported to have said. Yeah, if only George W. Bush hadn't committed us to a futile war in Iraq... The list goes on and on. (Do NOT get me started. And the first commenter to write in about everything being the fault of Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Congress will get verbally bitch slapped. Give me an effing break. Hey, I'm not a Pelosi fan, but the Dems have had the thinnest of majorities and only been, technically, in power for barely two years. So stop your frickin' whining.)

In other big news, at least in my state/district, Congressman Chris Shays has lost (apparently big time) his re-election bid, meaning that there will now be NO REPUBLICANS from New England, at least in the House. Wow.

10:14 p.m. Chucky T. (aka Chuck Todd) is at the map, again. If you are a geography fan, you cannot beat election night. Who knew wtf all these little counties in Indiana and Florida and Virginia were called? And why is it every time the cameras pan to McCain Headquarters there is some male Country singer singing, with a big black cowboy hat and a guitar.

10:16 p.m. And Maine is projected to go for Obama. And rumor has it that Oprah (Oprah!) is mulling around (or whatever Oprah does) in the Grant Park crowd, which we are being reminded is VERY DIVERSE (i.e., not just black people, or if you want to be poltically correct, African-American). It has been confirmed: Oprah is in the house.

Reporting live from bed...

To be continued...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Mrs. "Smith" Goes to Washington

My fellow Americans, I am off to visit our great capital of Washington, D.C., for a few days, to visit with friends, see inside some of our great institutions, experience history, and measure the drapes.

And as we prepare to vote on November 4, I'd like to share this (slightly doctored) quote with you, from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (a wonderful film), spoken by the movie's hero, Senator Jefferson Smith, a do-gooder and reformer who was quite popular with the young people:

"There's no place out there for graft, or greed, or lies, or [negative campaigning, or] compromise with human liberties. And if that's what the grownups have done with this world that was given to them, then we'd better... see what the kids can do. And it's not too late, because this country is bigger than the [Bushes, the Clintons, the Republicans and Democrats], or you, or me, or anything else. Great principles don't get lost once they come to light. They're right here; you just have to see them again!"

Until next week... (Well, unless the Jets wear those lame Titans uniforms again, in which case I have a blog post waiting to go.)