Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Strong Man's Favorite Things Summer 2011

In my new quest to fill the O-sized void that Oprah has left in the universe, I have taken it upon myself to develop a list of Favorite Things for the summer of 2011.  There is no need to thank me for helping you get this through this difficult period.  I, too, am at a loss as to which candy or cake flavored body cream to adore this season.  I will get you through these dark, Oprahless days and we will emerge on the other side better, stronger people. (Isn't that a very uplifting statement? Very O-ish. No?)

Without further ado...

A Strong Man's Cup of Tea Favorite Things Summer 2011

The Gathering by Motes Books

(My future girlfriend, Kate Larken)
The Gathering is a weekend event for writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and songs sponsored by Motes Books, an independent publishing company based in Louisville, Kentucky.  The weekend is intended to offer artists, whether they be professionals and published (others) or novices and bloggers (me) thought provoking activities,  meaningful insights, sincere feedback and encouragement, reflection and time to hone your writing skills.  I was so nervous attending my first Gathering last year, I could barely walk into the room.  However, from the welcome hug that I received from the incomparable Kate Larken, who led the Gathering, to the incredibly talented new friends that I met during the weekend, the Gathering has done more to inspire and encourage me to continue writing than anything else ever has.

If I were Oprah, I would now say, "YOU ARE GOING TO THE GATHERING! AND YOU ARE GOING TO THE GATHERING! AND YOU ARE GOING TO THE GATHERING!"  Unfortunately, I am not Oprah.  But I will give you the link to Motes Books where you can get information about any upcoming events and also check out their collection of incredible books:

Motes Books

Pickled Bologna

There was a time in my life that if I recommended getting pickled, it would have had an entirely different meaning, but this summer I am bringing pickling back.  Not just pickles, no, no.  Pickles are so 2009.  Pickled Bologna is where it is at.   That is the stuff, fo shizzle, boo.  It is tangy, but not too tangy; disgusting to think about, but delicious to eat.  You can purchase in different forms, but I must insist for this list that it be the authentic rope variety:

The best part of getting a jar this size?  After you have eaten the rope of bologna, boil yourself a dozen eggs, pop them into the used brine, wait a week or so, and BAM! you have pickled eggs:
You can thank me later.  God, I am feeling just like Oprah right now!

Live Bait Machines

I don't fish.  I don't like to catch my own anything.  I like my food to be served to me, preferably with a nice garnish, a complementary wine, and a lively conversation.  However, the idea that there is a vending machine that dispenses LIVE things to be used for bait is amazing to me.  My hometown, Hyden, KY, has one of these machines, and although I have never seen another, I imagine that there are others in other places.  The mystery of it all is one of the reasons that it made the summer list.  Oprah sometimes picked little known items and they then exploded into our popular culture.  Don't be surprised if you see a Live Bait machine in your city soon.  Again, you can thank me later.

Corn Husk Dolls

Corn husk dolls have been made by Native Americans since the Pilgrims sold the first corn seeds to the Choctaw Nation, which resulted in the first Easter.  Hey, don't blame me, Kentucky public schools use those history textbooks published in Texas.  Another group who make a mean corn husk doll are Appalachians.  These tiny dolls are truly works of art.  I fondly remember the corn husk nativity set that my family had as a Christmas decoration for years.  If I had known then my future as a post-O trendsetter, I would have taken better care of it.  Sadly, I did not know, but I did have an A-HA moment while reminiscing!  I am going to take a class and learn how to make these lovely tidbits and give them as gifts next Christmas, so they very well could end up on ASMCOT Favorite Things Christmas Edition as well.  Get used them. (Don't, however, expect one as a gift.  In the trunk of my car I still have a 25-pound bag of Dead Sea Salt, 50 glass bottles, and some organic aromatic oils that were to be my homemade Christmas gifts last year.)

Local Peeps Getting Jiggy-Wit-It

Jason's Website
One of my very favorite things in the world are local people who have done well or who are doing well for themselves.  It is truly amazing to me the power and the talent of our very own Appalachian brothers and sisters.  Whether it be in business, military, sports, entertainment, activism, art, literature, or education, our area of Kentucky is home to many shining stars.  In the past year or so, I have been fortunate enough to meet a few more Appalachians who inspire and motivate me.  Jason Howard, from Pineville, KY,  is an accomplished author, editor, activist, and commentator. His works have appeared in several publications, he has been arrested during a protest in Washington, D.C., and, I swear to you, the man is like 10-years old.  He has accomplished so much in such a short time, and lord only knows what this phenom will accomplish next.  What I am sure of, though, is that it will make me, and probably all of you, awfully proud he is one of us.  Also, Jason can quote most lines from all the Designing Women and Golden Girls shows, and if that doesn't scream good breeding then I don't know what does.


Our Summer list concludes with what may very well be may all-time favorite thing: Grippo's BBQ potato chips.  If Oprah had eaten one of these bad boys, she may well have stayed on the air another 25 years.  They are salty, sweet, spicy, and oh so good.  If you do not live in an area that sells this brand of goodness, I implore you to rent a U-Haul, pack your belongings, and head this way.  Tonight.  As O would say, "I LOVE MY GRIIIPPPOOO'S!  I LOVE MY GRIIIPPOOO'S!"

OK, so there you have it.  The Strong Man's List of Favorite Things Summer 2011.  If I were with you in person, I would give you an air hug, making sure not to actually touch you, just like lady O.  I hope you all enjoy and make use of the list.  Feel free to comment on any additions which you feel need to be considered for the Christmas list.

In Oprah's name,

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 - The Bedazzled Summer?

Ah, Memorial Day.  The unofficial beginning to summer.  Sunshine.  Swimming pools. Grilling.  This is the day that you realize that there will be no more days of snow, of frost, of bone-chilling winds for at least 4 months.  You are completely in the clear to pull from storage all patio furniture, grills, and water toys.  Open the pool. Tune up the jet skis.  Disinfect the coolers.  The world is your oyster!  By the way, enjoy this feeling.  It usually only lasts a few weeks until around mid-June when people start complaining about the sweltering humidity and oppressive heat of summer.

During my years in Florida, I became desensitized to this glorious feeling of euphoria that comes on this day. My pool stayed open year-round, and I became cranky with a week of 60-degree weather, usually stating that I was freezing my bits and pieces off.  Although Florida living has many advantages, appreciating Mother Nature's ever changing moods is not something that you can thoroughly achieve living at the beach.

With the advent of warm weather, unfortunately for most, comes the requirement of skimpier clothes.  Clothes that are intended to help a body not overheat in the warmth of the sun or allow a body to perform at its maximum peak during all summertime activities, such as swimming.  To my dismay, many people couple the need for this need for this type of clothing with very unrealistic body images of themselves.  When that happens, things like this happen:

(Family Reunion, Memorial Day 2010)

(Pretty people.)
However, my own family notwithstanding, many people can pull off very nice summer looks.  These people are slim, trim, and hairless.  They can pull off showing and tanning body parts that I haven't even been able to see on my own body in three years.  If I said I did not hate this people, I would be lying.

I have discovered a new fad, however, that I implore each and every man, beautiful body or not, to avoid this summer. 

(I ain't talking about your mother's Be-dazzler)
The first, and most disturbing, is the Pejazzle.  The Pejazzle is basically a set of self-stick shiny objects to be-dazzle your penis.  That is correct. Be-dazzle your penis.  I am not sure what occasion this would be needed for, but I would think it would be a warm weather event.  Perhaps a poolside cocktail (no pun intended) party? 

(Another caveat: Only the well-hung have a chance with this)
The inventor is quoted as saying, "Men wear diamond watches and bling earrings - this is no different."  Um, yes sir, it is different.  He also advises shaving the area before applying the be-dazzle.  For the extremely hairy, which I assume would mean most men over the age of, oh 20, he says that a judicious waxing or laser removal may be necessary.  OK, now we have crossed the line.  If any of you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am all for manscaping: keeping the lawn in control, but not removing it, with few exceptions. My motto is "If it's gray, take it away. If it's black, cut it some slack." (I actually just made up that motto, but I think I like it.)  If you have to wax your naughty area in order to wear a fashion accessory, I say it is too much trouble.  Furthermore, how do you go to the bathroom with that thing on?  And how do you get it off?

The only thing worse, I suppose, would be wearing the accessory without first waxing.  See the viscous circle the Pejazzle draws?  It just isn't worth it.  It does not bring sexy back.  In fact, it only brings pain, and probably razor burn. 

In case you want to order, here is the website:
Pejazzle My Penis!
If you do order, I ask only one things: please send me a picture so I can post and make fun of results.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Strong Man is Crabby

Perhaps it is the stage of the moon.  Maybe my Libra house is moving into the cortex of Venus (I have no idea what that means).  Maybe I should not have stopped taking my mega-dose of Cymbalta.  All I know is that I have been on edge lately.  My happy-go-lucky self has been bombarded with things that are getting on my nerves to the point of rage.  Well, rage is a strong word, I should say to the point of my making some really crabby faces and shaking my head disapprovingly. 

I thought that if I wrote down the stupid things that were on my nerves this week, it may make me feel better.  Maybe these things bother you as well.  To those you of you who read these and think, "Wait a minute, I do that," all I can say is, "Suck it. You're on my last nerve."

Things That Bother Me And/Or Things I Don't Understand And, Therefore, Get On My Nerves

  • The state law that requires restaurants to post signs in the bathroom stating that all employees must wash their hands before returning to work. 
(Not gonna work.)

Is this really necessary?  If you are the type of person who would normally not wash your hands after completing your business in the bathroom is a small sign posted by your boss going to change your mind?  I don't think so.  In fact, all it does for me, the customer, is remind me that (a) there are employees in this establishment who need reminding to wash up after finishing up and (b) there are rebel employees who have purposely not washed their hands BECAUSE of the sign.
  • People who say they are taking a break from Facebook.
(You really think Facebook will let you quit?)
I don't know why this grates on my nerves, but it does.  Maybe I am jealous, and a little paranoid, thinking this person is basically saying, "Hey, Losers, I am getting off here and going out into the real world and I am going to be so busy with my new life I won't have time to read your pathetic little statuses anymore."  I am not asking people to stay in touch if they don't want, but really, it is scientific fact that 95.6% of all Facebookers have the app on their mobile phone.  You can't check up on us any at all during your busy new life?  Hmph.  And don't get me started on the ones who say they are taking a break, then you see them right back on Facebook in a week.  Don't even get me started.
  • People who abide by the bathroom mantra "If it's yellow, let it mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down."    

OK, I almost puked just typing that.  What kind of person does this?  I am all for water conservation and living green, but I draw the line at my leaving human waste of any sort mellowing in the toilet bowl.  If your home bathroom smells like a Texaco station loo, then you are living wrong.  You just are.
  • People who have cosmetic surgery and either deny it or say there was a medical reason for it.   
(Cosmetic surgery? I have no idea what you are talking about.)
This is infuriating.  Celebrity examples:  Star Jones.  The woman obviously had some weight loss surgery but was adamant that she didn't.  Bristol Palin had her faced worked on, admitted it, but said it was medically necessary.  Whatever.  No one would argue that Star needed some of that fat surgically removed or that Bristol needed that butt-ugly face worked on, but come on ladies, admit it.  There is nothing wrong with saying that you didn't like something about yourself and had it fixed.  Trust me, if I can ever afford it, I will be sucked and plucked and tucked and will be letting everyone know about it.
  • Signs that say things such as "Welcome to our 'ool.  Notice there is no "P'' in it.  Please keep it that way."   

If there is someone reading this that has never peed in a pool, raise your hand.  To the person who just raised his hand, you are a liar.  Give it up people, there is chlorine in the stupid pool, plus isn't urine sterile or something like that?  (I realize I just cut my pool party invitations in at least half, but it had to be said)
  • People who either answer someone else's cell phone or who go through the contents of another person's cell phone.  
(Not your cell phone? Don't answer it!)

I hate, hate, hate calling a cell phone only to have someone completely different answer said phone.  Cell phones are individual items.  That is why there is one per person, no party lines, no sharing.  I am not calling your spouse or friend, I am calling you.  I don't like having to ask for the correct person to come to their cell phone.  Also, with all the apps and uses for smartphones today, the contents are very personal to the owner.  I don't want people grabbing my phone to see all my pics and apps.  Maybe I don't want anyone to know that I have apps such as Britney Spears 4-Ever or 1,001 Fart sounds or a GPS tracking system to locate Wynonna's every move.  It is no one's business but mine.
  • Couples who share a Facebook account.   
(Allowed to share a Facebook account.)
Words can't express how much I detest seeing JohnNMissy Johnson or Tim-And-Jim Smith on Facebook.  Good heavens.  Are you so co-dependent that you can't have your own set of online friends?  Plus, who are you talking to when they post things?  You never know.  It is too confusing, and it is stupid.  Stop it.  Note: the only time this is acceptable is with Siamese twins.
Whew!  I do feel better!  Getting that off my chest helped.  Anyone agree with these?  Anything on your nerves?  Go ahead and respond and get it off your chest!  Start your new week with a clean slate!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

For my Mother on Mother's Day

In honor of the best woman I know, I made this for my mom, Ronnie Carol Stewart.  I hope you all enjoy: