Sunday, January 30, 2005

Gala...a report from the trenches.

The gala thing was...



One of the hazards of marrying TFBIM (and, rest assured, in many walks of life I am known as Mr. TFBIM) is lots of people know who I am, have an accurate-enough picture of my general likes/dislikes, and a working sketch of my biography. They come up to me and greet me warmly, engage me in none-too-brief-conversation and excuse themselves reluctantly and with great warmth.

I then turn to TFBIM and say:

"WTF were those?"
"Those were Robert's parents."
"Who's Robert?"
"Remember that birthday party at the zoo? That was Robert."
"Which kid was Robert?? There were, like, 634 kids at the zoo; I thought the cages had sprung open."
"Oh. My. G-d. ROBERT. He's the blond boy, straight hair."
"The one with the Moe haircut? Is he the 2nd grader with a cell phone?"
"No, that's Michael!"
"I don't remember Michael."
"You're impossible."

So we had a lot of that going on last night. So, while I mostly tried to avoid looking stunned, TFBIM looked stunning last night. Rarely does she get to wear this one black strapless number, but she did and paired with a Tiffany Signature white gold set, plagiarized, I freely admit, from Poppy whose husband gave her a yellow gold necklace (with diamonds) from this collection. I omitted the diamonds, changed yellow gold to white, and threw in the earrings and bracelet and voila all of Creation is none the wiser. One interesting sidebar to this: every once in a while the Official Photographers will do their foul work in black and white and this combination (as well as the black tie combination) looks beautiful therein. Yellow gold and colored stones, in my estimation, don't photograph well in B&W.

Part of the weirdness of the gala world is photography. Some events/places have only the official portrait photographer and no more, some others encourage you to bring your camera (weird, but true) and lots are somewhere along this spectrum. Last night, disposable cameras (35mm retro) were at every table AND there was an official portrait photgrapher AND there was an official walking-around photographer. Whatever. I just grinned and bore.

On the ego-boosting side, the valet recognized that my car was Some Serious Thing and let me park it myself up front with only a new Maserati--which costs more than twice what mine did--to share the limelight. Nice. He even comped me the parking. But the battery of this car has been, as my Brit pals would say, dodgy for some time and last night, with TFBIM and self arrayed in our evening finery, it decided to go on strike. Fortunately, I had enough sense to park on an incline and all I had to do was let it roll with the key in the ignition, pop the clutch and VROOM. "Eeet ees aliiiiive!" as Colin Clive said in those Frankenstein films.

But I digress. One of the more dangerous aspects of these events is the Silent Auction. Most of the time you end up buying a load of overpriced stuff because you talk yourself into the ol' "It's for a good cause" thing. We managed to get out the door for under $600, and that is ameliorated by the fact some of the stuff is actually OK. Lots of certificates to restaurants, a custom shirt (!) and some Limoges thingy for TFBIM, plus a couple of Original Jewelry Pieces (every silent auction is scrofulous with these) which we plan to pass on as gifts.

The gala itself was pretty nicely themed. This year (I have no idea of previous years' themes) it was a "Flying Around The World" thing. The organizing committee was arrayed in flight attendant garb (the chair & co-chair were in pilot raiments) and the tickets were printed to look like boarding passes. Each table was decorated to look like a destination (New York, Venice, Paris, etc.) but fortunately we didn't have to stand in an interminable line to be seated.

Dinner was OK. I could tell that, prior to resting under the ruby glow of a heatlamp for 45 minutes, it had probably been pretty good, but by the time the plate hit my place the moisture had been successfully, permanently and thoroughly driven from the edibles. Dessert was a hit though, and given that my dinner was left mostly uneaten (perhaps one day the doctors who rebuilt the Six Million Dollar Man would be able to implant powerful hydraulics in my jaw) I felt no guilt about diving into the chocolate mousse torte. The appetizers at the cocktail hour were also pretty good, especially these miniature Beef Wellingtons they had.

Beef Wellington, to me, is memory-whiplash of the Sophisticated Continental Restaurants of the 1970s and making them in teeny-tiny bite-sized bits is a clever way to get away with serving this, under the cover of being retro. In fairness, Beef Wellington--IF DONE RIGHT--is pretty yummy stuff, but overrich for today's 21st century palate. A bite size variant is just right on all counts.

But I digress. Now I am off to see what may be done, battery-wise, about my silly car.

Posted by Joke at 7:10 AM 2 comments

Saturday, January 29, 2005

It had to happen sometime

My silly Italian sports car left me stranded today. This has never before occurred, that one of my silly, vintage Italian sports cars left me unable to get mobile.

I was picking up Numbah One Son (NOS) from one of his after school activities, and because it was raining, I was late. Anyway, I pulled into the parking lot, extricated Numbah Two Son (NTS) from the back seat and went in to grab NOS and upon our return, with everyone buckled in and filled with anticipation I turned the key and...nothing. Just that sickening "uhhhrah...uhhhrah...uhhhhhhh...rah" sound that tells you you're chances of going somewhere are minimal.

"You broke it, Daddy" said NOS helpfully. I explained to him the battery was dead. "How did you break it?" he asked. Meanwhile, NTS was quietly disassembling the rear speaker, much to my chagrin. I got on the cell phone and did the manly thing: I called my mommy.

The Fabulous Babe I Married (TFBIM) was axle-deep in beauty salon land, and therefore could not be budged to render assistance. On a rainy SoFla day, AAA was easily two hours from being any damned use. Mom was about 20 minutes away, even in rush hour. I could have told her to send my Dad but, frankly, my dad is no prize in these matters. He would insist on lecturing me on why this was all my fault, then explain to me why Italian cars are Mussolini's Revenge and I really hadn't the time nor the inclination to deal with this.

One of the interesting things about my car is how the battery is located in the trunk. Since batteries weigh an abominable amount, the engineers at Alfa Romeo put the battery in the back to equalize weight distribution and therefore provide AMAZING cornering/handling. Just not so good for being jump-started. When you jumpstart, you're supposed to ground the "receiving" battery, that is, connect the negative wire to, say, the engine block or some other bit--Japanese cars usually have a little round tab-thingy for this very purpose--that is not part of the fuel system (a weenie roast is fun, if you're not the weenie). But with the battery in the trunk, there is no such tab thingy.

So I took my chances, and connected the two batteries directly.

VROOM. Started right up. Sopping wet (it was raining, remember?) I issued profusely sincere thanks, clambered in and drove off. Had it been non-rainy it would have been a snap to push-start it, but such was my luck.

Anyway, the reason why TFBIM was getting all beautified was because she roped us into going to a fundraising gala tonight. These are always touch and go, since most people involved therewith are vapid and witless and monumentally boring. If it's a thing for curing leprosy all you have in common with them is that your Uncle Billy and their cousin Wilbur both are lepers. Conversation tends to flag after you've (quickly) exhausted the topics available to you. You have no interest in their collection of cuckoo clocks, or their whittling, or bass fishing. They can only smile politely at your fetish for fountain pens.

If its a fundraiser for something a bit broader, like historical preservation of homes built originally by the Spanish colonists in Florida between 16XX and 1819, or a winemaker dinner, then it's a far more palatable proposition. Tonight is somewhere in between.

Part of the problem is that my wife considers--quite wrongly--making friends as an exercise in breadth rather than depth. As a consequence, most of her friends (with some three know who you are) are, um, No Great Shakes. This all came to a head during the JoeFest preparations when I was drawing up the guest list.

"Where's the invitation for Gladys?"
"I'm not inviting Gladys."
"Why not?"
"Do you want the long answer or the short answer?"
"I don't want to invite her and her dullwit husband to my 40th birthday."
"Long answer, then?"
"She's an imbecile, she..."
"She's nice!"
"She's an imbecile, she has all the conversational reach of a bucket, she's dull, she's devoid of any charm or grace, has no interesting anecdotes to tell, is engaged in no interesting work, her husband won't eat anything if she doesn't cut it up for him, she..."
"And I suppose all these friends of yours..."
"...are a damned sight better to me--and it is my birthday we're talking about. When you turn forty we can take a Caribbean cruise on that ship of fools populated by people who are your friends solely on the strength of them having something tenuously in common with you and being, as per your estimation, 'nice'--than Gladys. My friends, and even you can't deny this, are invariably funny, charming and can (and frequently do) mingle fluidly in civilized society. In the meanwhile, your friends, are, frankly, not."
"You're inviting Jayne, Elaine and Martina."
"They happen to fit my criteria for worthy guests, coincidentally. That's why I don't roll my eyes when you suggest we visit them, as opposed to Gladys and her massive husband."
"You're too picky...and I don't think you calling Gladys and Michael 'the Dursleys' is so funny."

TFBIM is only now, 4-5 years into it getting comfortable with the idea one can make real-life pals on the Internet. You can only imagine, Gentle Reader, the commotion that occurred when I went on a business trip to Chicago in 2001. Normally I stayed at the Fairmont and was schlepped around by my clients. But that time, my pal Poppy offered me the use of her pied a terre in the very heart of Chicago and I accepted with all due gratitude.

"Let me know what room you get at the Fairmont."
"I'm not staying there."
"My friend Poppy offered me their condo."
"Who is this Poppy?"
"She's my friend."
"Why haven't I met her?"
"Well, I haven't physically met her yet. We met on the Internet. She's the one I read to you from the fashion group."
"Wait...wait" she said, her voice struggling between the competing demands of incredulousness, composure and exasperation, "you met this woman on the Internet??"
"Uh huh." (I originally wanted to append a "What? What-a-a-at?" but thought better of it.)
"on the Internet?? The Internet?"
"Are you insane?"

So it was the source of some domestic discord, but seeing as how the die was cast and I needed to see the clients, off I went. It didn't help matters this was just a few days after Sept. 11, but there you go.

Fast forward to March 2002. Poppy at al. are spring breaking it in Vero Beach and we scheduled a meet-up. TFBIM's right eyebrow was semi-inextricably knotted to her scalp at the prospect of meeting Poppy and her crowd. All my entreaties were of no avail. Deep in her marrow TFBIM simply refused to allow for the possibility that someone cool could be met on the Internet. If you didn't befriend someone "in real life," then, to TFBIM, that was simply inadmissible.

But upon meeting Poppy and those whom she had offsprung (her husband would join them later in the trip, so we met Poppy by herself) the clouds parted. Poppy was an allowable friend. We could coordinate trips to, say, Disneyland, together with Poppy et cie.; TFBIM now wanted to tag along on my Chicago trips (before, she couldn't stick the notion at any price) and things have even gotten to the point that, to TFBIM, the idea of babysitting Poppy's kids for a weekend was a no-brainer.

So it just goes to show you: It's always something.

Posted by Joke at 8:16 AM 1 comments

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Random Musings, 1/27/05

WTF is with the word "catsup?" I'm rummaging through one of my favorite cookbooks (Let The Flames Begin by Schlesinger & Willoughby) and these guys keep using this affected, antediluvian "catsup" instead of the infinitely preferable "ketchup." Their other, otherwise excellent cookbooks are equally guilty.

Speaking of ketchup, I have managed to find what may be safely considered the pinnacle of the condiment: Heinz organic ketchup. I'm sure there are all sorts of enviro-reasons for making this purchase, etc., etc. etc. Frankly, it just flat-out tastes better than anything else in the ketchup realm. Probably the substitution of pure organic cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup is the greatest factor at play here. If you don't care about ketchup, then pretend this ketchup will help save the earth.

While we're waxing organic and tomatoishly, I must issue a rave for the Coral Gables Farmer's Market. There are many misguided people who get all atwitter about living somewhere with four seasons. Well, you know, we live in a pluralist have at it. I like living somewhere were dead-ripe tomatoes and corn are available fresh and locally in February. Every Saturday (or, at stone worst, every other Saturday) I meander over to the farmer's market. Last week the tomatoes were so stunning, I bought a whole damned flat of them.

Contemplating, on a Thursday evening, the huge number of tomatoes left in the flat (after making a killer pico de gallo salsa on Tuesday) and my beloved wife hinting she wanted a simple spaghetti marinara, I put 6 of them through a tomato press I bought on clearance at Williams-Sonoma. The tomato press cleanly and quickly separates the seeds and peel and other undesirables from the pulp. With said pulp, I made a simple, fresh, marinara sauce to go on spaghetti.


I mean, really...WOW. The difference is off-the-charts. Most jarred pasta sauces are made with tomato puree or tomato paste or both. This is because tomatoes are mostly water and hauling the tomato puree/paste needed to make X pasta sauce is a HELL of a lot cheaper than hauling the fresh tomatoes needed to make the same amount of sauce. Since we live in a country where people eat things out of boxes, cans, freezers and drive-through windows (as Numbah One Son has learned, "That's not food, that's groceries") nobody seems to mind a whole bloody lot.

But the taste is so much fresher and more complex and the work required so minimal, I am amazed more people even foodies haven't picked up on this. So I issue my huge rave to the farmer's market and the organic produce they bring to our tables.

I'm sure there are people who buy from these farmers because they care about "sustainable farming" or worry about pesticides in the ecosystem, or because they get to shop with those European-like knit bags. Whatever. The food tastes better, and if you think I am doing the right thing for the wrong reason, that just shows how out of whack your whole reasoning is and, most importantly, how wooden your palate has become.

Tomorrow I am going to my local Italian deli, where they make fresh mozzarella (from raw milk!), and we shall be having Insalata Caprese and quaffing prosecco all weekend. This is what life in what passes for civilized paradise is supposed to be like. Now all I need to find is a hardcore butcher* and I am all set.

One last word on farmer's markets...get the Williams-Sonoma farmer's market cookbook. Sometimes the W-S cookbooks are absolute clunkers, but this one is great. The recipes avail the diner of what is freshest and combines the various ingredients to highlight the amazing flavors of perfectly ripe, lovingly grown produce, with intelligent wine/beer pairings too.

Now you know.

* The last time I was in Boston, I went to one of my favorite restaurants, The East Coast Grill in Cambridge, and had bone-in ribeye steak topped with a grilled kimchee and I have been jonesing for this for nearly a year.

Posted by Joke at 10:46 PM 0 comments


In case you were not keenly aware of this: I. So. Rule.

The software has been successfully updated and all that remains is for someone in my client's staff to redo the transactions for January, which is a damned sight better than having to redo all the transactions for 1995-2004. I get any gratitude? Nooooo. All I get is "what about January's transactions?" Which is sort of like rescuing a damsel only to hear "Ew! Who's gonna mop all this dragon blood?"

But my sense of self-worth has been given another boost, as if any were needed, and I am well-pleased with my own damned self.

Posted by Joke at 4:06 PM 0 comments

The sorts of headaches with which I deal

A client of mine has been using a certain, rath-ah expensive financial reporting/accounting software. One day last November, the maker of said software called said client and announced that version 9.0 (the one the client was running) would no longer be supported. So client orders and receives the 2005 version (his was issued in 2002).

To make a short story pointless, the process of converting from the 2002 version to the 2005 version completely MANGLES his data. Customers who owe him $25K are shown to owe him $600K.

So far, no effort has been successful, complicated by said client's CPA who has unorthodox and, I daresay, So Not Expedient methods for proceeding.

I am displeased.

Posted by Joke at 8:40 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Today's Forecast: Much Coolness

I placed an order last week with for a vintage Walt Disney World lunchbox. You, kind reader, ought know I am an inveterate Disney geek. A refined and discerning one, to be sure, but a geek nonetheless. This geekness is manifested in many way, but mostly through collecting stuff my parents were, as far as I could discern, too cheap to buy me when I was a kid.

This lunchbox was one of them. It was designed to coincide with the grand opening of Walt Disney World in 1971 and from the moment I laid eyes on it, I have been jonesing therefor. Now that I am somewhat more affluent than I was at age 8, I am taking a perverse delight in getting all the cool stuff my parents never did; lots of ViewMaster things, for example. And this lunchbox.

Officially titled "Disney's Magic Kingdom" this little beauty STILL has the price sticker on it and is in brand-new shape (not easy for an item intended to be banged around by kids 35 years ago). That it has a mint thermos as well is a small miracle. I have added it to the display along with the Disney's School Bus lunchbox/thermos set, as I build my geek shrine.

Posted by Joke at 5:51 PM 0 comments

The End of an Era

AOL is discontinuing newsgroups. To many among the assembled readership, this would generate a noteworthy yawn. "AOL? Why...WTF cares?" To many among the more jaded residents of Usenetville, AOL members let loose on newsgroups was, frankly, a clear sign of the Apocalypse.

AOL users, as recently as, say, Thursday were derided as unsophisticated. Not that I mind the inaccurate portrayal (if you had my worldview, you'd get inured to this rather quickly), but I find it immensely amusing. "Why?" I hear you asking. Well, because there is really one sort of human being who cares about the cyber-sophistication of others. And that sort of person, frankly, is a middle-aged virgin with a pantently laughable sense of sophistication in matters non-cyber.

To add to the risibility of the thing, we're talking about sophistication in matters related to newsgroups. Not, for example, in being able to select a car, or wine, or home theatre gear, or an opera company to select for subscription. I look at the matter of being a sophisticated Usenet user much like I view the prospect of being awarded the Most Authentic Costume at the Rennaissance Faire. Not something likely to weigh heavily upon my conscience.

Because I am imperturbably shallow, I have managed to develop a fairly decent level of sophistication in many different areas. Of course, every once in a while, reality intrudes and I am required--kicking and screaming, oftimes--to put the cerebellum on the treadmill, smack down my inferiors (legion) and/or set out a light to the nations, before proceeding.

One of the problems of being very sophisticated in a broad array of areas (showing impressive depth and breadth, if you will) is that I cannot really do it all at once. I cannot, for example, put on the deerstalker and look for a vintage Italian sports car to purchase AND simultaneously decide to which surround sound preamp I should upgrade AND ponder what wine makes the most sense to purchase by the case.

The latter is easy to answer for the moment, Bosco's Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. I've been on a serious regional Italian cooking jag for about a year, and this wine is an excellent default. It was rated "only" an 87, but it is supremely food-friendly, and about $11/per. Many highly rated wines shatter on the palate when forced to share it with something edible. Most Chardonnays have this as their Achilles' Heel, for example. Anyway, almost anything non-seafoody and Italian goes--and goes monumentally well--with this wine. Bucatini al'Amatriciana, Saltimbocca alla Romana, grilled pizza, antipasti, risotti, Bistecca alla Fiorentina, Arristo di Maiale...all of these go beautifully, grandiosely, spectacularly with this wine.

Which all leads me to thoughts--shallow ones, as is my wont--about my kitchen. I have plenty of time to think these thoughts because I am, work-wise, in my Really Slow Season while my wife (the accountancy maven) is going insane because for her it's Tax Season. So I am in a househusband-ish capacity and I think domestic thoughts. Anyway. The kitchen. It's not necessarily falling apart...but you can see "falling apart" from here. I'm not quite sure which way to go here. The only nonnegotiable is the floor. It's a pretty spiffy, pale saltillo tile with hand painted "azulejo" inserts. That led me to think of a sort of neo-Mediterranean thing, with coll, barely-red-tinged or white bead-board wood cabinets and white appliances and a white tile countertop/backsplash, with azulejo inserts to tie things together.

We also need a new roof. But you knew that already. We also need to redo both bathrooms, gut and reconfigure the master bedroom (to get both a larger room AND more closet space...don't ask). We'd also want a pool soonish, as well as converting the house to gas. We have the permits in place to put a 2nd story on the house (adding ~1300 sq. ft.). We'd like to completely redo the driveway. And we need a new dining room set, since ours is both old (as opposed to antique) and cheap and tiny. Oh, and reupholster the family room furniture and get seating for the home theatre.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn't be easier to just move.

Posted by Joke at 9:07 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Now, other stuff.

It still feels a smidge wintry here in the subtropics. Sure, it's not 42 feet of snow, like people Up Nawth are griping about, but hey...we had to bring the orchids in last night. Anyway, we have to seize these opportunities to make that sort of hearty food one associates with winter. If one is Iberic and, in particular from the region of Asturias, one dish comes to your mind's palate.


Fabada is made with "fabes" (the sharp-eyed among you will notice a similarity to "fava") which are a sort of navy bean with a pituitary condition. They are extraordinarily creamy in texture and of such a size you couldn't really spear more than one on a fork. Anyway, fabada makes use of the main culinary products of Asturias: Chorizo (not the Mexican stuff), jamón serrano ( dry cured ham, like prosciutto gone uptown), fabes, and paprika. If you look for any recipe for fabada in any authentic cookbook, you'll never find any, because making this is simplicity itself.

Figure a ¼ cup of beans per person, 2 oz. each of thinly sliced chorizo and cubed (dice-size) ham, plus a half onion and 4-5 cloves sliced garlic and a couple of teaspoons of Spanish paprika. Render out the fat from the chorizo (there will be a LOT) and wipe as much as will be absorbed by one paper towel. Add ham, onions, garlic, water or chicken or (ideally) ham stock, paprika, beans (no worries about soaking them) and just simmer as low as you can.

It lends itself beautifully to a slow cooker (which I don't have) because it cooks best when it cooks slowest. Like all slow cooked things, it tastes better the day after.

Have I mentioned how much I love driving my car?

I need (well, OK, want) a new THX 7.1 compliant surround sound processor. I also want a new DLP TV set, but that can keep.

Posted by Joke at 9:01 PM 0 comments

The Carson Thing

It's taken a couple of days to let that sink in. Johnny Carson has assumed room temperature. Johnny Carson was/is the only entertainer about whom I could honestly say "I grew up on..." I remember vividly the last episode, not the Robin Williams/Bette Midler one, but The Last Episode. Just Johnny and Ed and Doc, at 11:35pm EST, bidding America farewell.

NBC had been treating Johnny pretty shabbily in the months immediately preceding his announcing his retirement. Jay Leno had intimated the whole Johnny/Ed/Doc triumvirate was, essentially, The Axis of Unhip. Johnny handled it all with polished grace.

But people forget the amazing job Carson did as host of the Oscars. And people forget that for two weeks, during a writer's strike, he wrote ALL of The Tonight Show's material. And, ironically, it was the funniest and freshest stuff the show had seen in many moons.

I am reminded of...

The characters he played in the skits (especially Carnac, Floyd R. Turbo and Art Fern "We now return you to our feature, Ma and Pa Kettle Go To Plato's Retreat")

The precision of his timing

The way the band would strike up "Tea For Two" and he'd tap-dance when a monolgue was dying.

Whenever he'd call a comedian to the couch, especially if it was that comedian's first appearance.

The Jim Fowler appearances with wild animals (and his dead-on Marlon Perkins impression: "While Jim is wrestling the brace of alligators, I'll be in the tent with a pitcher of Margaritas.")

The interviews with Burt Reynolds, which would invariably degenerate into a pie fight.

When he confronted Don Rickles--while Rickles was on TV, live on another show--for breaking his cigarette box.

When Jackie Mason was a guest shortly after Johnny's last (and most expensive) divorce.

I remember very vividly being an 11 year old boy, with a bedtime that was WELL BEFORE the 11:30 start of the Tonight Show, having the old, beat-up B&W TV in my room on as low as it would go, with my ear pressed to the speaker--so as not to get busted, natch--watching The Tonight Show, and staying up until 1am, reveling in the sophistication and sparkling wit.

Once he retired, I never really saw the Jay Leno iteration. I saw Letterman with somewhat greater frequency, but nobody ever held the same sway. And nobody, in all likelihood, ever will.

Requiescat in pace, Johnny...make the angels laugh now.

Posted by Joke at 8:33 PM 0 comments

Monday, January 24, 2005

The joys of being on the cutting edge of an ownership society

Today we had a visit from The Plumber.

Last night, taking a shower was like being in one of those old sub, say Run Silent, Run Deep or one of its ilk. This is because you were standing calf-deep in unsavory water while getting soaked from above and in a mild state of agitation at the circumstances.

This seems to have been prompted by a flushed golf ball. Mr. Plumber was called and after much excavation, discovered the problem was not so much the recovered golf ball, but that the drainfield pipes were, essentially, made of grade-B shrinkwrap. Oh, and they had a BOULDER resting atop them. Why there was a boulder resting atop them we have no idea. Certainly said boulder was not a naturally occurring mineral formation, and the pipes were clearly not tunneled under the boulder. When you buy a fixer-upper, you get silly little surprises like these.

Mr. Plumber Guy took me around and explained this to me with great zeal, as if I were also one of the initiates into some secret fellowship of plumbing aficionados. He prattled excitedly about "T-joints" and "cleanout valves" and so forth. It is only due to my superior breeding and strength of character my eyes didn't just glaze over. When I am dishing out $125/hr., I'd prefer to not know Applied Plumbing Theory, but rather, to be allowed to return to my pursuits which afford me the possibility of having a guy turning my side yard into the main runway of the Kandahar Airstrip for $125/hr.

Since I am in SAHD mode for the next, say, 2½ months, I took the opportunity to do some stuff around the house. In the days of Mrs. Cleaver, that would have meant mopping and dusting, but in this case it means going to the garage and fussing over my car. I'm trying out a new product called SpeedShine (, and the purpose of this product is to extend the "just washed and waxed" look of your car from about a week to about 6-8 weeks. This is especially handy now that winter--such as we have it here in SoFla, with temps in the low 40s--is here, and getting soaked in the process of washing one's car is not wise.

I turned on the digital audio server (The Feb. issue of Home Theatre magazine has an excellent article on these, although mine is a generation older) and turned on the mostly New Wave-ish tunes of my global playlist and off I went. Normal people turn on the radio, but here in SoFla, that means invariably disco (rhythm and blues for people with neither, if'n you ask me) and, frankly, that simply will not do.

15 minutes of spritzing and wiping and I was done. Conclusion: Not bad! I then vacuumed the inside and polished the glass surfaces. The car looks well detailed after a mere 25 minutes, as opposed to 4 hours it'd normally take for a full-blown detail. The car is still in no shape to be taken to any concours, natch. The paint has too many teeny little chips from its life on the roads of the Copper State, the headliner needs to be steamed out (or worse, replaced), and all the rubber gasket-y bits need to be replaced. All the engine bay stickers need to be replaced too. Still, it's one of only 35 ever made...even more, it only one of 5 prototypes in the world, and while natural appreciation will take its value upwards, getting it in concours shape (and entering and getting a prize) will help take its value upwards. Here is the photo album of the car's previous owner:

Posted by Joke at 8:31 PM 4 comments


It turns out that several of my friends have been blogging away merrily, but I only found out about it now.

Check these out:

The opinions expressed thereat are not necessaily mine, void where prohibited, professional driver on closed road, your mileage may vary, etc.

More as today develops.

Posted by Joke at 6:54 PM 2 comments

Pretty, pretty cars.

I discovered a pretty neat trick on Saturday. I had to attend this event held at The Breakers in Palm Beach, held for Ferraris, called the Cavallino Classic. Anyway, if you get there at 3:30pm...the people working there, who are in charge of making sure you pay your $40 to get in, just LEAVE.

Better yet, if you stand in the right spot ALL of the gigabuck Ferrari cars will drive right past you. If you are smarter than I am, you will bring a digital camera that has been fully charged, instead of one with 4% of the battery life left. Still, I got some decent pictures.

Anyway, today was a second event, open not only to Ferraris, but to other gigabuck cars as well. It went...OK. It was at the Palm Beach Polo Club. It looked like it was going to rain, and I am guessing that kept (or contributed to keep) a good number of scheduled cars from attending. The reunion of prewar Alfas somehow failed to materialize, but my friends Ted and Marc were both there with their dueling Giulia Spiders, both (the cars, not Ted & Marc) looking stunning as usual.

There was a pristine Alfa Romeo Montreal fromWisconsin and an 8C-2300 in what must have been "preserved" (because if THAT's what "restored" looks like, someone needs a lawyer, fast!) condition. A decent number of Maseratis, and a 1910(?) Fiat. Loads of Ferraris, including a 250SWB and, my personal favorite: a Zagato 250GT with the trademark double bubble.

I took Numbah One Son and he got tired of walking after 3 hours, so we left then. I hope Ted and Marc did OK in the judging. I'll post pictures soon, promise.

Oh, and our plumbing's all clogged again.

Posted by Joke at 12:34 AM

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Would it be THAT inconvenient...

...for you to go to and make a donation?

I just lost another friend to prostate cancer and while it prompts me to make sure that I get Dr. Astro Glide to check mine, on the other hand (NPI), it pisses me off this cancer--which kills about as many people as breast cancer--gets 1/10th the funding.

Just click "support our cause" and give 'em a couple of bucks. It won't kill ya, and might save someone's dad.

Posted by Joke at 1:26 PM 0 comments

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Have I mentioned... much I love my car? Yes, it is immature and irresponsible, but I got said car up to 144mph. Richard Sirgani, the WIZARD at AutoVolante ( did his regularly scheduled voodoo thereto and it is running like an absolute dream. It still needs little touches here and there, but dammit, what a car.

If you, the guy in the black 1987 Ferrari Testarossa (license plate "1FAST TR") are reading this, sorry, but let that be a lesson to you. I'm also sorry your chick had to see that. With a car like that, you'd figure that a radar detector would be a no-brainer.

If it's any consolation, my gas mileage was far worse than usual.

Posted by Joke at 7:18 PM 0 comments

Saturday, January 01, 2005

What a way to start

My New Year has gotten off to a Hell of a decent start.

For those of you who are maladjusted, one of the Usenet groups to which I post under one of my many guises is one called "" and from there I have culled some of the bestest pals any sentient being could want.

One such pal, Claire in SF, posted a snippet that had a link to a website that had a list of the various years' song countdowns as per KROQ-FM (one of the great radio stations, in case you were wondering). It was a goldmine and it allowed me to find a zillion songs which I had at one point heard, loved, but had never known the title or the artist. In the interim, I have been filling up my home theatre server with, so far, 27 hours of nonstop music, most of which sprang from the Golden Age of the 80s. Not all are, and not all are New Wave, but much leans in that direction and I particularly enjoy the "memory whiplash."

New Year's Eve was fine. Got arrayed in black tie, went to our club for dinner (these are always a serious gastronomic thing) and dancing and returned home pretty early to relieve my in-laws, who were doing liontaming duty in our absence.

Personally, I am glad to be rid of 2004.

Posted by Joke at 2:37 PM 0 comments