Helping You Get the Most Out of Your Misery






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Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Read an article today on the Guardian UK about a massive shortage of bread in Egypt. We've got people going hungry in Uganda, in North Korea, in Zimbabwe. There are starving people all over the world and there are people in the States, too, who are facing rising costs at the grocery that are making it harder to put food on the table.

At the same time, we're suffering in America from health problems brought about by foods that rely too much on corn syrup. Corn syrup that requires shitloads of corn, I've gotta guess.

Then there's also the vast numbers of farms where they're growing corn for use in Ethanol. That's an awful lot of corn, an awful lot of farmers and an awful lot of land being used.

Now, I'm kind of an idiot. I've got no real depth of knowledge on this subject and I freely admit that I might be grossly misinformed here, but doesn't it seem like we could solve all three of these problems--or at least make a bit of progress on them--if we just used some common sense?

Corn syrup's bad. I use corn syrup in my pecan pie, but I'm making that once or twice a year and I'm not even sure if Caro is the same as the shit they load into junk food. Why don't we take this whole "banning trans fats" thing a step further and craft some legislation that requires makers of various shitty foods to start doing away with the corn syrup?

Ethanol, as far as I can tell from what I've read everyplace except maybe in propaganda from the super-powerful Ethanol lobby, is not that fucking great. It's not solving global warming or even really putting the tiniest of dents in global warming. So why don't we move on to other types of alternate fuels that actually fucking work and we can shitcan Ethanol.

Then, we can take all of these farmers who're making money off all this non-edible corn and we can have them grow food that could be used to feed all these hungry folks around the world. Hell, I wouldn't even object to continuing to pay them their subsidies, if it helped feed some poor family in Egypt who can't afford a goddamn loaf of bread.

Can we get on this, please?

Monday, May 19, 2008


Oh, And Also...

I totally didn't have a chance yesterday to blog a Happy Birthday to my lovely and wonderful wife. So...

Happy Birthday!

Pretty damn cute, isn't she?


Too Relaxed to Write

"Joe!" you might say. "Why haven't you been vomiting forth inanities onto this site for the past week?" To which I'd reply, "Shut up your fucking whining, you miserable wretch!" Then, we'd sit down for nachos.

Anyway, things have been busy 'round here. My in-laws have been in town since Wednesday, so I've been doing my best to be the mediocre host everyone who knows me has come to expect. Seriously, shouldn't I have enough practice to be the sort of person who has the giant mound of dishes taken care of before my guests arrive? Apparently not.

On the baby front, my wife has felt all kinds of movement lately, which is awesome. For her. 'Cause it's not the kind of movement that the daddy can enjoy. Do I wish I had a womb, so that I, too, could feel the wee bairn's motorizing? Not really. I just like to complain.

One thing I can't complain about is the surprise my wife sprang on me last week. She went ahead and purchased the type of awesomely comfortable chair that we've been coveting for, literally, years. It's ever-so-comfy! In fact, I'm gonna go sit in it right now. I'm gonna sit like I've never sat before.

Monday, May 12, 2008


With a Name Like Smucker's, It Has to Be Poisonous

As this pregnancy progresses--and, I've gotta say, that's a great phrase to be able to write--we're encountering things we haven't had to deal with before. One of those things is weight gain. Which I'm working on, dammit. I'm big-boned.

We're also dealing, or rather, my wife is dealing, with worries about what she needs to ingest to optimize our baby's development. What supplements are good, what foods are bad, how much tequila is too much; all these questions factor into it.

We've read book after book and a lot of them give contradictory information. So, in order to try to get an expert opinion, my wife decided to consult a nutritionist.

My response, when asked for my opinion on this move, was essentially, "Go for it. Whatever you need to do to reassure yourself that you're doing what you ought to." Then my wife asked if I'd go with her. Which is when I started to question the wisdom of this plan.

But I sucked it up and joined my wife this evening on a jaunt to the Upper West Side, where we visited said nutritionist in her apartment. The lady was very nice. She seemed to have a good sense of humor and her advice really did seem, for the most part, sage.

My only real issue with her personally, and it's very tiny, is that, at one point in the conversation, she said, in response to a comment one of us had made, "Well, I don't have a TV, as you can see." Folks, I've got nothing against people who choose not to have televisions. I like TV and have no shame about it. If someone else decides they'd rather not include television in their life, that's just fine. But why do they all feel the need to mention it? If someone doesn't have a TV in their home, you can pretty much bet your grandma's life savings that they'll find a time to slip that fact into a conversation. Even when no one was asking.

Anyway, that one teeny glitch aside, I just want to state for the record that this was a pleasant person who really seemed to know what she was talking about.

I have to state that for the record so that I can then go on to describe how I resented the living fuck out of her.

See, I've felt pretty good right along about the job I've done providing the proper nutrition for my wife and for our baby. I've been pushing fruits and vegetables, yogurt, whole grain breads and such. And the nutritionist basically took my good feelings and pissed all over them.

Since I do the cooking in our household, I was quizzed about what exactly I'd been buying. Looking over my wife's meal diary, the nutritionist asked, "What kind of bread are you using in that peanut butter and jelly sandwich?"

"Uh...twelve grain."

"What brand?"

"It', Arnold."

Whereupon she would take me to a website featuring the nutritional labels from Arnold bread and point out the corn syrup and sweeteners and frigging rat poison and all the other stuff it contains. "What kind of jelly?"


"Yeah, you'll probably want to use something that's all fruit."

And so on. So basically I haven't been doing things right and my kid's going to be born addicted to Ben & Jerry's because of my piss-poor cooking habits and he or she will weight five hundred pounds by the time they're two. Not really, but that's how I felt while sitting there.

It's really just some adjustments that need to be made. Some things that were lacking from some meals. Some things that I need to be smarter about when shopping. Okay, well, she did suggest I start making quinoa. Which pissed me off. See, I love vegetarian cooking, but I hate the kind of vegetarian cooking that seems to be entirely sprout and barley-based. And I lump quinoa in that category.

Anyway, I'm hungry now, so I'm going to go crush a couple handfuls of BBQ Lay's Potato Chips into a bowl of Coco Puffs and call it a day.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I'm Appreciated!

Wow! What a busy, busy week. As I'm sure I don't have to tell anybody, this was Teacher Appreciation Week. And, let me tell you, it's amazing to feel so very, very appreciated.

I've gotta say, folks, the gifts that were showered on me this week, the ticker-tape parades, the lambs offered in grateful sacrifice, it's all nice. It is. But it's not why I teach in a middle school.

Nor do I teach for the $37.8 million I pull in per year. Although it's satisfying to know that society feels our work is important enough to be rewarded financially.

No, the only reason I'm in this career is for the gleam in the eyes of my students as they look up at me and say, "Mr. Wack, you've opened up a whole new world for me. The love of theater you've instilled in my heart will never fade. Thank you."

That's what makes it all worthwhile, people.

Now, if I taught rooms full of kids who couldn't give a teaspoon full of rat turds that I was there, was paid a salary that could be generously described as "paltry" and was rewarded with something like a collapsible umbrella that blew apart in the wind the first day I used it...well that would be another story, wouldn't it?

Thursday, May 08, 2008


Baby Update...or "Bupdate"

It's truly a bizarre notion that something as awesome as listening to your baby's heartbeat with the Doppler thingy can actually seem anti-climactic.

My wife and I had our latest appointment with the OBGYN yesterday and it went well. He said everything looks and sounds good. Which is fantastic. Really, it is. Don't get me wrong.

It's just that we were going in hoping vaguely for an ultrasound that might, just conceivably, reveal the baby's gender. This, we did not get.

So we're going back in a couple of weeks for the big 20-Week scan (which is actually going to be coming a few days early, but I'm not gonna quibble.) That's the one with which we should be able to find out if we need to buy pink clothes or blue. Because they don't, apparently, make much that's gender-neutral. Those thoughtless pricks.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Hairshirt Horoscope

Aries: Don't let current events get you down. That's just lazy. You should be able to get yourself depressed without outside aid.

Taurus: Snoring is cute and all, but when you're actually shaking loose plaster from the bedroom ceiling, you may need to take steps.

Gemini: You have a yearning to call forth your inner gourmet this week, Gemini. Unfortunately, the best you come up with is something you call "Lemon-Rubbed Toast".

Cancer: The worst thing that happens to you this week, Cancer, is that your feet get wet during a rain storm. The worst thing that happens to everyone around you is that you won't stop whining about it.

Leo: For God's sake, Leo, try to get it straight: Rip Torn is the Oscar-nominated character actor who starred on The Larry Sanders Show. Rip Taylor was the flaming Match Game panelist and host of the $1.98 Beauty Pageant.

Virgo: Drinking and driving don't mix, Virgo. Everyone knows you drive better when you're high.

Libra: This week, Libra, you proudly tell everyone you know about your athlete's foot, possibly in the mistaken belief that people will think you're actually an athlete.

Scorpio: It is a clear sign of just how deluded you've gotten, Scorpio, that you truly believe that your "Boob Inspector" t-shirt is going to fool someone into letting your fondle their breasts.

Sagittarius: You don't have a long-lost wealthy uncle who's going to die and leave you a million dollars. So go ahead and take the job at Arby's.

Capricorn: Some people look good in stripes, Capricorn, you look best in shirts that can miraculously camouflage spilled ketchup.

Aquarius: You're feeling existential this week, Aquarius. Which leads you to ask the age old question, "What's dinner for?"

Pisces: You're feeling the need to brighten up your apartment with something green and alive, Pisces. So you should either buy a fern or just take the month-old sandwich out of the fridge and put it on your windowsill.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


Existential Food Crisis

There are some things in this life that we know for certain. Not much, but some. And about half of those certainties revolve around what we do and do not like to eat. This can, I realize, change over time; certain foods rising or falling in our esteem as our palates mature and evolve.

I would say, though, that the great majority of us reach a certain point in life where our likes and dislikes solidify, like Jell-o around canned pineapple.

All of my adult life, there have been some truths I hold to be self-evident. Among these are hatred of Dijon mustard, dislike of relish and the pursuit of desserts. Now, in my golden years, I--

Okay, wait, "golden years" are retirement-age, right? Am I in my "salad days"? Or is this the "summer of my life"? Man, this stuff is confusing.

Anyway, now that I'm grown up and shit, I'm finding some of these firmly-held beliefs called into question.

The first two beliefs may still be solid, but I'm having doubts. See, I was reading through an issue of Cooks' Illustrated and two articles caught my attention. One was a taste-test of Dijon mustards. They compared several French brands to their American counterparts. Happily, the American mustards did every bit as well as the French. (Suck on that one, froggies!)

Now, this article shouldn't move me one way or another, as I've always preferred honey mustard. But I actually found myself wanting to try these brands. Wanting to spread a little Grey Poupon on my next sandwich. Maybe even eating that sandwich in my limousine.

The relish thing stems from another article in the same magazine. They tested for the best recipe for American-style potato salad. I love potato salad. My grandma Gossiaux made a version that, while simple and unassuming, fully captured the spirit of summer and everything good in the world. I've never had her recipe, so I've never tried making the stuff.

This article, though, as all Cook's Illustrated articles do, tries dozens and dozens of variations until the single, undeniably greatest recipe floats to the surface. The best possible recipe for potato salad? Of course I want to try it. I mean, I'm not a fool!

But their winner has relish in it. Relish! Chewed-up pickles floating in vinegar and evil! Green chunky vomit! But, if I don't include the relish, it's not the greatest recipe, is it? No sir. No, it's not.

The final earthquake in my food beliefs is a little simpler and a little sadder. I love dessert. To me, the single greatest thing about adulthood is that you have the power and ability to make/eat dessert whenever you want and there's no parent to smack it out of your hand. Which would explain why I've reached the weight I've reached.

So I'm now forced to try and shake this habit of mine of eating dessert after every meal except breakfast. I'm going to have to train my mouth that it doesn't need a sugary reward for chewing up all my vegetables. And it's going to hurt.

I look at these heretofore rock-solid food principles and I ask myself: just who the hell am I? (In terms of food. On non-edible identity issues, I'm pretty sound.)