31 May 2008

A Tiger-iffic week

For the last six days our house was graced by the presence of my erstwhile son Tiger.

This would've been the first time he's been over here by himself since last June. Spring Break didn't work out due to a short-lived job, and at Christmas he did come visit as usual, however the spotlight was 'shared' with our nephew Boogie.

Anyway, the kid was here for nearly a full week, and there was some good fun, like what we called our "family fun day": an afternoon of mini-golf and bowling for Memorial Day. Tiger won the mini-golf game, and over three games of bowling, I won two games of three - Tiger the other. While I enjoy bowling, I truly suck at it. My form is embarrassing, that much is true (Seraphim captured a nice AVI of it on the digital camera ... sheesh!).

FFD continued with board games, but with just my son and me. Sera had some cakes to work on. Thanks to a good luck of the tile draw and some good plays on his part, my son beat me at SCRABBLE. It was a competitive game, and he pulled it off toward the end.

But MONOPOLY was another matter. Despite the kid having achieved the grand poo-bah (Park Place & Boardwalk and hotels on both), I had a few other 'developed' monopolies, and he managed to land on 'em one time too many. I also had the Mediterranean/Baltic pair -- I always buy those, gleefully wallowing in my status as a slumlord (Once, after he paid the lofty $450 hotel rent, I said "And you'd better brush off all those cockroaches before you leave, they're hotel property.")

I enjoy MONOPOLY ... memories of games with my brother, and playing for blood.

Games were fun, and we watched a couple of movies in the process, too.

My son is now into game shows, would you believe. Most of the time, GSN was on in his room (he doesn't get that channel at home), and one evening I turned him on to some long-lost shows via a bunch of classic TV goodies I'd gotten in a recent trade. He got to see what the original Hollywood Squares looked like. That, and High Rollers -- man, the look on Tiger's face when he saw Alex Trebek circa 1979, jet-black curly-q hair and moustache and all!

Oh, and he couldn't believe Chuck Woolery ever could've hosted Wheel of Fortune. But he did. The original host, most of you remember (Sajak took over in 1981). He agreed with me that Woolery was the better of the two. And that Susan Stafford - the original "letter-turner" - looked far better than Botox Vanna. But he loved High Rollers.

Family fun. Yeah. Which brings up the reality of things today, and the happiness and sadness I feel at the same time. Mostly happiness.

My son is quite popular in his band clique. On the way over from picking him up last weekend, his cellphone rang no fewer than four times, each with different people. "Sorry, I'm with my Dad in Georgia for the week", he said each time. I almost hated taking him away from all that. But Tiger wanted to come over as much as we wanted to have him here.

A lot of his idle time was spent IM'ing with friends. Okay, mostly 'friend.' As in, 'girlfriend.' "Punkk" is the special girl in his life, and he was like any 16-year-old would be when fronted with a week-long absence from his S.O. It wasn't a moping he felt - just missing her a lot. Glad to be visiting, but ready to get home to see Punkk.

Thinking back and comparing my life at the end of 10th grade to my son's life at this point ... he's doing much better than I was. For that I'm very, very happy.

Happy for him and his life. As his Dad I'm no longer a major figure in his world. We miss each other and say as much, and we still keep in touch via MySpace, although the truth is that Dad has segued to the background.

The days of active weekends in Alabama together are pretty much on their way out. It's gone from every other weekend at the beginning, to every three weeks for a long time, then once monthly, and it's now moving toward every six weeks or so. As I see it, I've done my "duty" as a Dad by the frequent visits over there as he's grown up. And I've never thought of it as a "duty"; I wouldn't have had it any other way. Tiger can say whatever he wants about Dad, but he can never say I wasn't there. I'll still be there, too, although he's now at an age where he'd rather be with friends. And you know what? I'd rather him be with friends, too.

So why do I feel sad?

The house is empty. Too empty. I enjoyed having my kid around, even if he was messaging with friends. Walking into his room after he left and seeing an empty can of Mr. Pibb in the trash depressed me. Tiger was here.

I'm glad I feel this way, too. Tiger and I both survived a very rough patch a couple of years back when he was extremely unhappy at his school in Montgomery. Combined with early-teen rage, and - yes - attempts by my ex-wife to manipulate his feelings toward me, and there were some visits in the 2003-2005 era where I didn't get all depressed after he left. No, it was more like "Good riddance. J-belle, he's your problem now." One Summer (2005), I even took him home from Rincon a day early. I'd had my fill of his attitude.

I remember back then saying how much I missed feeling sad. So, yes, I'm happy to again feel sad. If that makes any sense.

Plainly and simply, I'm elated for my son. While the visits might now be less frequent, Tiger knows I'm always here when he wants to talk.

He's growing up into an amazing person. And I couldn't be prouder.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Empty Room" Gleck

30 May 2008

Beating Annie Lennox to the punch...

If you have the MP3 of Annie's 1992 hit "Walking on Broken Glass" on your computer, or otherwise within reach, go ahead and cue it up while reading this.

One of the most memorable, if dubious, tales from my time living in the now defunct Seminole Twin Towers at Arkansas State was an incident which took place, ohhhhh I'd say some time during the Spring of 1985.

It was around 12:30 a.m. and we'd been having problems with another student who was trying to take retribution on one of our wingmates. His name was Clark; as I had little dealings with him (he lived near the other end of the hallway) the only reason I remember his name was because he was something of an 'informant.' He was referred to by some as "Clark the Narc", and he'd earned the scorn of some druggies that'd been busted due to his information.

What happened centered on simple vandalism -- already the word "NARC" was spray-painted on his door -- and all of us were on guard and listened out for this little hooligan. Okay, again, it was 12:30-ish, my door and Lance's across the hall were open. I was watching a movie on TV, and clad in my 'late-night' garb, i.e. T-shirt, shorts, bare feet. Lance was in and out of my room. Well, just as he was crossing the hall going back into his room, there was a noise, and Lance yelled out, "THERE HE IS!! LET'S GET HIM!!!!!" Lance tore down the hall after him, as the miscreant ran for his life.

[cue stock music from The Streets of San Francisco]

Without thinking (we all wanted to sack this bastard), I followed Lance after him. He hit the middle staircase downward, and went two flights down to the sixth floor. Lance was ahead of me, as we turned the corner from the stairwell toward the elevator lobby.

I turned that corner, my body and bare feet pushing the laws of inertia as much as they could ... just as I heard Lance warn, "WATCH OUT FOR ......"

Too late. I felt crunching sounds below me, followed by a sensation as if I'd just stepped in some water.

Yeppers, someone had broken a beer bottle dead center of the elevator lobby on the 6th floor and I got it with my bare feet.

Mr. Bastard got away. Suddenly I was dripping blood down the hallway, right past my friend Phil's dorm. Phil came out wondering what all the racket was about, and there he was as I passed him, shedding my vascular fluids.

And what did Phil say? "Ummm, the Red Cross always needs blood, but this isn't what they had in mind."

Did I mention having attended college with a bunch of wise-asses??

Phil loaned me one of his towels and I then limped my way back to #810 using the 6th floor hallway to the far stairway (leaving a nice trail of red along the way), as Lance kind of "escorted" me back to my room. It's a good thing I had a footsoaker in my room (souvenir from an ingrown-toenail removal earlier that year). There were a couple of shards of glass embedded in my foot, and I pulled 'em out -- channeling Wile E. Coyote after slamming into a cactus.

Miraculously, there weren't any serious wounds. I didn't even visit the health center, no stitches were called for; the only thing I felt was a little pain for several days.

So there you are. I walked on broken glass with my bare feet, and lived to tell about it.

Even though the bastard got away. @#$%!!! Fortunately, he didn't mess with Clark again ... he knew we were watching.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Foot Soldier" Gleck

27 May 2008

"Wow, you're consistent!"

So said the nice lady at the weigh-in a little while ago.

There was no meeting in Rincon due to the Memorial Day holiday, so I went up to Springfield (6 miles from here) to see how I'd done for the week.

I debated skipping, but I decided this early in the process I wanted to face the music. Yeah, and the suspense would kill me otherwise. I didn't attend the meeting; you could call this a drive-by weigh-in. Or a "weigh-by."

Anyway, consistency is the name of the game. I lost removed an even 2.0 pounds. Again, my "official" weight ends in a ".2": 285.2

I did this after work, just going through Rincon on the way out there, so I didn't get to do a pre-weigh on the bathroom scale.

What did I do differently? Eating-wise, not much. I had about as much water as the previous week, but a lot more activity. More than usual (see below).

But drinking involved a change of near-Biblical proportion; only two times did I consume any CO2-based beverages. Last Friday, if you remember, I broke down and had most of a can of Squirt. And yesterday, during our "Family Fun Day" with Tiger (including bowling and mini-golf, and racking up 12 - count' em - 12 "Chicken Fat" activity points in the process), we ate supper at Ci Ci's, where I ate those points and then some. 7 slices of pepperoni pizza (nearly a whole medium) and two servings of Barq's Root Beer. I counted and logged 40 points for that gluttonous exercise.

In the end I dipped 17 points into my weekly 35. And still dropped another deuce.

I'll take that without complaint.

Goals for this week: More water. Water, water, water. A little more "good for me" stuff. Maybe not just two sodas, but I'll aim to have no more than four. Sound reasonable?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "TEN DOWN, BABY!" Gleck

25 May 2008

All (they) are is dust in the wind

A big piece of my life went tumbling early this morning:



My old dormitory at Arkansas State University, my alma mater, is now history. Its full name was Seminole Twin Towers, although it was more commonly referred to as Twin Towers. Affectionately to us students who lived there, it was either just "Twin", or the ubiquitous "Twin Toilets." Nine stories above the flatness of the Delta and the geographic anomaly Crowley's Ridge. Twin was built in 1967 to house the stampede of male students coming out of Vietnam, and from August 1984 through December 1987, it was my college home. I had the same room the entire time: 810.
From that window, I had a great view toward the west-southwest ... I could see Caraway Road out front, as well as the Post Office, Wilson Hall, part of the Carl Reng Center ... and, in the distance, the Riceland Foods mill - which resembled a batch of skyscrapers of a city in the farthest horizon.

At night, from my bed, I could look out the window and see the strobe lights from the towers of both TV stations in town. KAIT's flashed a little more frequently than the Jonesboro AETN affil, but sometimes they'd be in perfect synch. I can't think of the number of times I'd be talking on the phone to a friend while looking out the window at those towers.

I had no roommate the entire time (my parents assumed both my brother and I were going to attend college in Alabama, and planned for that ... I threw 'em a curveball and went in-state. So they graciously sprung for the private room each semester). The room was rather tiny, smaller than the illustrious Music Room® from which I sit. Still, it was enough room to hold all my earthly possessions ... including a pretty decent, and growing, music collection.

In the video a lot of cheering can be heard after the structure is obliterated. Many are happy to see its demise. I can't speak for 2005, or even 1995, but in 1985 Twin Towers wasn't a half bad place to rest my in-shape, fit, 180-pound self. No, it wasn't a luxurious condo, and yes the hallways resembled a prison .... but it was home. And I liked it.

Here's a cool fact: I bought my first CD player in August of 1986, and when the semester started, I learned that I was the first student in any of the dorms to have a CD player. More than a few students got their first-ever listen to a compact disc in Room 810. The song I'd most often demo? "Why Can't This Be Love" by Van Halen. The fade-in opening came out of nowhere. Minds were blown. High technology, and this Gleckoid was on the cutting edge!

Bolivar (who lived off-campus) paid me hundreds of visits, with plenty of fun, music and conversation way into the night. Friends like Lance, Adam, Jody, Mark, and others come to mind as well. It was a great time to be alive.

Time with girlfriends were also plentiful. There was "Ruth" ... Deborah ... and of course Lynda.

I can say I was blessed to have had such a memorably good college experience.

Twin in the distance from Marshall Street near the College of Communications Building
Taken February 27, 2006. The black arrow points to my room window.

Another relic: the signage along Aggie Road.

Here are some other stream-of-conscious memories:
  • My phone number throughout my time there was 501/972-3477.

  • "Quiet hours" beginning at 11:00 p.m.. That's why headphones were my best friend.

  • At 1 AM, you knew not to knock on Talmadge Gleck's door. Because he would not hear you (see above). Take a magazine, newspaper, album cover, whatever and stick underneath the door and move it back and forth to get my attention.

  • There were cockroaches. Plenty. What college dorm doesn't have 'em?

  • On the 8th floor, the la cucaracha were smaller and fewer. And manageable.

  • Also, the radio reception was pretty good that high up in the air over the flat terrain. I could get most all the Little Rock stations, and some in north Mississippi as well.

  • 98.5 was a funny one. The one in Little Rock came in ... unless I stood on a chair and touched the right-hand side of the dipole antenna, and then I'd instead get 98.5 out of Tupelo, Miss. Every time.

  • "How often does the train go by?" "So often you won't even notice it." ASU is bordered to the south by two major railroad arterials.

  • That's why I'm such a deep sleeper today.

  • I walked on broken glass in that building. With my bare feet. Ask and I shall explain.

  • My afternoon routine was to spread a towel on my bed, open a Coke or (horrors!!) a beer and a can of Peanut Patch boiled peanuts. I didn't have bowls or anything, so I just spread 'em on the towel and used the empty can for the shells. At 4:00 after Little House on the Prairie on Channel 5, Divorce Court came on. For whatever sick reason I enjoyed watching it. Then it was Jeopardy! at 4:30. That was appointment TV during those days.

  • Lance would come into my room* usually around the time of "Double Jeopardy" and watch it with me, and then at 5:00 we'd go over to the Woodlands and eat supper.

  • Lance said the same thing to me each time I was eating boiled peanuts: "How can you EAT those things??!!"

  • * = There was an unspoken and highly respected rule: if you felt like socializing, you left your door open. If your door was closed, it was assumed you wanted or needed privacy (for whatever reason[s], studious, carnal or otherwise) and were left alone.

  • During the afternoon, if I were drinking a Coke, the door would be wide open. If I were enjoying a Miller Lite, the door would be barely cracked.

  • Speaking of Jeopardy! above, the local ABC station (KAIT) aired it at 5:00. Same show. Sometimes Lance and I would go to supper later, and watch it with a couple other friends.

  • It took 'em awhile before they figured out why Lance and I both always seemed to know "Final Jeopardy" :-D

  • Twin had "community bathrooms", two on each floor, one on each side of the elevators.

  • Fortunately, the showers were partitioned.

  • Also fortunately, each room in Twin had sinks.

  • I bought lots and lots of "Comet."

  • Why? (TMI alert!!!) Because instead of taking a hike down to aforementioned community bathroom, I used it as a urinal.

  • And I was NOT the only one who did this, either. In fact, most of us did.

  • The air conditioning in Twin Towers was, in a word, awesome. Perfect for a hot-natured soul such as I.

  • There were four (4) elevators in Twin. I had another name for 'em: The Screeching Lifts. They often made grinding and scraping noises as they went up or down. Remember those, Bolivar?

  • They malfunctioned as often as my old '93 Chevy Corsica. I knew whenever I saw the Dover Elevator truck parked next to the south end, I'd better go ahead and prime myself for a long walk up.

  • Did I mention I weighed about 100 pounds less during those days? Maybe that's a good reason WHY.

  • My room was two doors down from the stairwell. I used that as an exit most of the time. I got to where I could go down 16 flights of stairs in less than 45 seconds. I timed myself a few times, too. Sometimes I even jumped from landing to landing. I kid you not.

  • In 2002, a section of brick exterior on that very stairwell collapsed.
  • I take no responsibility.

  • My parents had friends who managed a liquor store in North Little Rock. From them I was able to score a life-size cutout of Bartles & Jaymes. They were a nifty conversation piece in our wing (each floor wing at Twin was like its own community).

  • The 9th floor was the "forbidden lair." It was home to the various high-intellect international students. Quiet hours were enforced 24/7 on that top level.

  • Speaking of "hours", girls were supposed to be out of the boys' dorms by 11:00 on weeknights and 1:00 on weekends.

  • I felt those restrictions discriminated against heterosexuals. Why come the gay students (and there were more of 'em than you think!) got to quench their all-night urges and we didn't??!!

  • I had a sign on my door for a long time: "I TAKE CASH DONATIONS."

  • For some reason, that was ignored.

The fact is, I first moved into my room on Thursday, 16 August 1984 as my first taste of independence from living at home. I left that room on another Thursday, 17 December 1987 full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the world as an adult, in spite of the gathering dark storm clouds in the distance called Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

I entered Seminole Twin Towers a child and exited as a man.

In closing, I can't help but smile a little bit at one thing: the wing where I lived ... that leg of Twin Towers was the last to come down. :-)

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "810 reasons I feel sad" Gleck

24 May 2008

Not everything about 1997 was bad......

Found this tonight in a small box.

One unassuming afternoon on October 1, 1997, I filled up my '97 Nissan Altima, and bought a drink inside. 6.5 gallons would've about been half a tank. Gas was going for $1.19/9, and the cost was $7.90 .... right now, that same amount would put less than two gallons into a vehicle. Today, gas in Rincon is $3.88/9 at the Gate station.

A lot was going through my mind on this day, including an impending divorce (Josiebelle would move out 10 days later), but gasoline was never a worry. I did think a dollar-19 was a bit steep, but still, I didn't think much about price -- most places were about the same, and within pennies of one another. Today, I watch every price sign like a hawk and when I see Enmark (owned by Colonial Pipeline, the monopoly that sets prices for Savannah) going up, I swoop into the first gas station I can find that hasn't boosted prices to match, and top off the tank.

No, I don't miss 1997, but I do miss those pump prices. I'm just glad that gas was at the dollar level when I was dating Seraphim and making that 93-mile drive to Columbus, Ga. to see her.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "At least we don't have cars that run on diesel!" Gleck

23 May 2008

97 HOURS!

After a trip to the grocery store (on two empty stomachs, no less!), then going back home to put away the frozen and frigidated food product, we headed over to Subway for Seraphim's usual footlong Sub Club, and I a footlong Roasted Chicken Breast. Okay, 1 and a half. I told you I was hungry. 18 points total.

Make that 20. The 12-pack of Fresca I bought (the only "diet" drink I like) wasn't going to be chilled enough by the time we got back home, and I wanted something more than water this time.

The carbonated fast ended just one hour past four days. 97 hours. I broke into the 12-pack of Squirt in the fridge (which I'd bought last week ... a monument to real defeat of temptation), but I drank just 2/3 of it.

I'm afraid it tasted a little different. I didn't feel like drinking all of that can. Imagine just a short month ago, when I could inhale a can in minutes, and reach for another.

Either this is a cusp of a seismic change in my drink tastes, or else I'm going to snap one of these fine days, my body drumming up a mean rebellion reminiscent of Poland's "Solidarity." We could call it Squirt-idarity.

Okay, 4 points left. Enough for an ice cream sandwich (3) and a stack of 15 Pringle's Light chips (1). They aren't too bad, I have to say. Not quite as good and flavorful as the Lay's Stax (which I was really into after they first came out, and soon burned out on 'em), but I can eat enough to satisfy before that funky Olestra taste starts rearing itself.

Yeah, 97 hours without any kind of soda. Not too shabby, eh?

Okay, back to getting the house ready for Tiger's arrival tomorrow.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Breakdown" Gleck

22 May 2008

72 hours and counting

Three entire days without a single carbonated beverage.

And three weeks since I've last had a Coca-Cola (I don't count those three sips of Coke Zero I tried a couple weeks back at Chick-Fil-A).

Dearfolk, this is the longest I've gone without sodas perhaps since grade school!!

My previous goal was 5-6 sodas for the week, however I'm going to see if I can go an entire week without one. Seriously, I doubt I can go that far ..... but I believe I'll try and find out.

I just tell myself "They're empty points, Tal. You maintained 295 pounds with the excessive consumption of Cokes, Squirts, 7-UPs and gawd knows what else .... so it can only make sense for you to drop pounds by slashing this column 75% or more, even if you were to break format otherwise." (said like a true radio person)

Worst case, I'll still be way down on the sugary soft drinks from pre-WW. I'm just waiting for my body to start rebelling against this dietary equivalent of the Drake format.

Okay, I'm thirsty. I could go for some tea.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Turn off the bubble machine" Gleck

20 May 2008

A little drive-by

So I stopped by the Kroger on the way into work this morning to get a couple of things, and you'll never believe the first full song I heard over the PA system (a/k/a "KRGR - Kroger Radio"):

Thin Lizzy's "Jailbreak."

The mild jolt of hearing such a 'harder' song at 8:30 in the morning in a grocery store aside, my thoughts turned toward Bolivar. I just know he'd gone in early to the Kroger regional HQ in Memphis and was playing around with the music mix. It seemed like that was his cosmic way of saying hello from within his regular hibernations.

Hi right back to you, Bolivar ol' pal.

--Tal

PS: "Jailbreak" has a great story behind it with us. Some of you know the tale, but if you haven't heard it, say the word and I'll explain.

19 May 2008

Deal me a deuce

2.0 down this week. That's a loss I'll take and run without complaint, because this time the bathroom scale was off in the other direction. Just prior to leaving for each WW meeting, I've weighed myself to see how our scale compares to theirs. Here are the discrepancies:

Monday, 05/05:
Bathroom -- 291.4 / Weight Watchers -- 295.2
-3.8

Monday, 05/12:
Bathroom -- 289.2 / Weight Watchers -- 289.2
-0- (how often does this happen?)

Monday, 05/19:
Bathroom -- 288.7 / Weight Watchers -- 287.2
+1.5

Goals for this week: A little more walking - even if it means parking a few spaces further out from a building; drop to 5 carbonated drinks per week from 6-7; ramp up my water intake (it's not what it should be, but much better than pre-WW).

Good thing the boiled peanut orgy Saturday didn't blow me up; that means if I'm responsible all week, I can 'reward' myself come next weekend. Speaking of which, five more days 'till my son comes over for a week!!

Not much else to report, so ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "8.0 down" Gleck

17 May 2008

Backslide in motion

"....I'm gonna have to penalize you, you-ooooooh!!"

I've been true to the Sacred Point Tablet all week. Until this afternoon, I had not dipped into the weekly 35. But now I have. The reason:

It's that time again. Each season, our local Shriners set up shop in the parking lot of a local tire store on Saturday afternoon, selling boiled peanuts hot and fresh out of the boiler.

I am no match for hot, soft and salty Georgia Goobers. I bought a dime bag--er, I mean a $5.00 bag. And straight to the Gate station I went for a 44-oz. Mountain Dew to wash 'em down.

I knew what I was doing is a little weekend lapsin'.

Or is it?

There are those 35 points, after all. Okay, we had Zaxby's for lunch today while on one of those nice and leisurely Saturday errands here and there. Sera had one of the so-called "Zalads", and I had my usual 10-piece chicken with fries.

But: 1) I had water with it, not Coke, as I have in the past. And 2) Those are the only fast food fries I've had all week. (Wednesday night, we had grilled-in hamburgers with oven-baked Ore-Ida fries. Light buns, too. 20-ish points for the whole meal.)

The big-ass Mountain Dew was the second one I've had since joining WW nearly two weeks ago. I had one last weekend and then one this afternoon. I feel a little bit guilty. Or should I? What about those weekends when I'd have as many as TWO of those 44-oz. drinks from the Gate in a single day. I do recall one day when I had THREE (!!!!!).

Yeah, this was a weekend splurge. One of those a week is more sensible than one a day. I still like them. Sometimes I want one. I tell myself that water is better for me. I continue, "Self, if you abstain completely from those BAMDs, you'll go crazy, then snap. Not a good option."

The good news is, we did a lot of walking around at Lowe's, plus I mowed the backyard this afternoon after we got back home. 5 points, which covered all but one of the BAMD rating (6 citrus lovin' points). Hey, maybe I could fudge in an extra point for the heavy lifting -- Sera dropped some of her extra cake class money on a nice little outdoor bistro table set for our back patio. Plus, a stop by Sam's to get gas ($3.62/9 vs. 3.71/9 in Rincon), and to buy a replacement for the desk chair in The Music Room®. The pneumatic lift loses its air each time I lean back. In other words, it dun wore out. Sam's Club = more walking.

No, I won't fudge. I think 5 "chicken fat" exercise activity points is about right. So that currently has me one (1) point into my weekly 35, which means tonight will be into overtime.

And would you believe that supper is ready! Grilled chicken with mac & cheese. 15 points.

Could be worse.

Be right back.

[SFX: ravenous eating sounds, followed by one long belch]

Supper's finished. Two luscious cluck ta-tas hot off the George Foreman, with M&C sidesaddle. Good as usual.

*********
I've been pretty good so far. And you know what? I think I like having water much better with a fast food meal, particularly as Summer begins to creep into these parts. As we ran our errands, I liked having cold water always there as the ice gradually melted. And no flat or watered-down soda, either. The water kept me hydrated until I saw Those Good Shriners.

I'm doing my damnest to limit my soft drink intake. Used to, it wouldn't be unusual for me to have as many as six (!) Cokes (or Squirt, or "Fountain" Dew, or 7-UP) in a day. Now, I've had what amounts to less than one can per day. Thursday I went wild and had two. But Wednesday and Friday, I went an entire day without carbonated beveragia.

Those around me a lot would consider that pretty freakin' amazing.

I still enjoy my Squirts. And 7-UPs. However, I have realized - without any fanfare or drama - that after nearly 40 years of enjoying them, I am completely off Coca-Cola. True, I haven't consumed a can or bottle of Coke since Squirt became available in this area. I'd still have Coke with fast food meals. Not anymore, though.

As I become acquainted with the point system, and what each food or drink offers, I came to realize that soft drinks are purely empty points. And frankly I'd rather expend extra points on, say, an ice cream sandwich in the evening than on a can of soda.

All and good, however I'm going to do what it takes to make point room for boiled peanuts. I estimate 12 points for a five-dollar bag. Worth every salty goober.

So there you are. The latest from the trenches of lower Tiger Ridge.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I still brake for boiled peanuts" Gleck

12 May 2008

A bookmark, and less of me

Tonight was the first weigh-in after joining Weight Watchers. Proud to say there was 6.0 pounds fewer on that scale than there was this time last week. Got my "second week" bookmark, too.

The meeting was largely about "activity" (just a fancy, politically-correct euphemism for the "E" word), and how we can get in a few extra steps in our day-to-day lives. Some good ideas were discussed, and I'll be sure to try some of them.

On a bad-timing note, tonight for the first time I saw at Kroger ice cream sandwiches with VANILLA wafers instead of the usual chocolate. 3 points per each, not as bad as I was afraid of. That'll make for a nice "filler" in case I need it in the evening. And that'll give me a sorely-needed dairy item. Milk, you see, is down there with such delectable liquids as Pepsi, Hydrochloric Acid and sewage runoff (and not necessarily in that order). Go figure -- I love milkshakes, but cannot stand any kind of milk when offered straight.

I'm not there yet, however every week is an improvement. Already I'm eating better than before my first meeting a week ago. And those Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizzas, when zapped for 2:45, taste dead on perfect. Got a few more tonight at the grossy-stoh.

I also said something about it on the radio today, so there's certainly no turning back now.

Here's to another week down this different road!

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "289.2" Gleck

11 May 2008

Nine Points South

(Sounds like a very deranged intersection on Birmingham's southside)

For ten years now, Seraphim and I have had a Sunday ritual that has a shorthand name: CR&B. No, not Creole Rhythm & Blues. (C)innamon (R)olls (&) (B)acon. It started on one of our first ever full weekends spent together. Both of us have enjoyed the Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls for years (Hoo-HOOOOOOO!!) , so one Sunday morning in 1998's May, we split a can -- four each. I made the cinnamon rolls and Seraphim did the bacon.

CR&B has grown into a Gleck family institution, almost worthy of its own religion. "I praise thee, the Poppin' Fresh, the oven mitt and the holy dairy case." "May the icing be with you." "And also on you, I mean WITH you."

Seeing as how this is the first Sunday A.D. -- (A)fter (D)eath of the "old" ways (so we hope .... jury's still out on that) -- I tallied the point value for the almighty CR&B feast. Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (plain) With Icing tally up to 3 per each. Bacon is 4 points per three-strip serving. On average, we get 18 slices to a pack, which we split. If it comes out to odd numbers, Puddy lucks out.

Ass/u/me'ing a 9-strip, 4-roll CR&B plate, that is a total of 24 points.

Tonight, there were just 8 strips on my plate, so take 1-1/3 away. Okay, we'll say 23.

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED SUNDAY: 50

So I have a day's point deficit of NINE. John Lennon would be so proud.

I'm told the weekly points are supposed to reset on Monday. But my "week" officially started on Tuesday, the day after my first meeting. Dunno how I'm going to handle that one. I think I'll let 'em reset at midnight on Monday. My goal is to save the 35'ers for the weekend.

Five days out of six, I was faithful to The Sacred WW Point Tablet. Day 6, I pull 9 out of the weekly pile, leaving a surplus of 26 for week's end.

Monday should be a straight-and-narrow kind of day. Maybe I'll try another pizza for lunch tomorrow.

In closing, here's a mind-blowing fact: for many years, Poppin' Fresh The Pillsbury Doughboy (who first appeared in commercials in 1965) was voiced by the late Paul Frees. The same guy who also lent his voice to Boris Badenov, among many others. Imagine the madcap fun were the wires to have been crossed. Poke the Doughboy in the stomach, and you hear Boris' voice saying, "Raskolnikov!!!!"

On that note, I say ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Poke me in the tummy, and your buns will be toast!" Gleck

Bless its pointed little meals

Continuing from Friday's post, I sit here on Sunday afternoon. It's 5:09 p.m., and here's how I've done in the inner sanctum of temptation. That being my wife going away for the weekend to her family's annual "mother/daughter" function for Mother's Day. I was going to Alabama to visit the kid, but his band formal was last night. Whookay, scotch that.

I don't cook. Much. But I did survive post-divorce, although it was mostly on a diet of frozen chicken fingers and/or fish sticks, and canned veggies. I can do that. And did. Of course, there was always the fast food. And there was not much variety in the wilds of Troy, which at the time was made up of what I've always called Heartburn's Half Mile -- the stretch of 231 between George Wallace Drive and Brundidge Street. Chock full of your basic fast food horsehooey, including the legendary local institution known as Crowe's Chicken. If only the rest of that sewage lagoon of a city could be as good as Crowe's......

Weirdly enough, I "maintained" during that surreal period of my life (1997-2000). It wasn't until moving to Savannah and marrying Seraphim did I surge upward in the poundage. A decade ago I was, ohhhhh, probably 250-ish.

So, a weekend to myself. And typically I'll do all fast food and fill my gastrics with munchies as I watch classic TV shows I've gotten in trades, movies or whatever. What's really crazy is, I don't have a "sweet tooth." Sure, I enjoy caaaaaan-dyyyyy every now and again (Brach's Candy Corn has been a favorite for as long as I can remember), however I don't eat a whole lot of classic 'dessert'-like items.

So, how have I done? On my last post, I predicted I'd blow my 35 weekly points clear down to Sapelo Island. Did I? Read on:

Day 4 - Friday, 05/09:
As of 6 PM, I'd consumed just three (3) points. Kroger tuna and water. "Lord, I'm crazy 'bout a mercury / Gonna buy me a mercury and eat it right out of the can"

SUPPER:
I said I was thinking Arby's, and I did. In the spirit of the expectation being to eat all of our daily points, I planned on gorging myself silly. I ate what has been my 'regular' Arby's spread:
Three (3) roast beef sandwiches, at 7 points apiece (not too shabby): 21
I went crazy and got the large potato cakes: 9
Large Mountain Dew (32 oz.). Now here's where I'm gonna get all Clintonian on everyone ... a 12-oz. sweetened soft drink is 3 points. However, a 12-oz. drink (i.e. can) is all soda. Fountain drink ounce sizes are for THE CUP. And ice displaces much of that capacity. So as I calculate it, a good half (if not more) of the contents are cubes of frozen water. Point value: goose egg.

So, I'm going to calculate for half of the cup's volume. I'd say I had 16 ounces of The Dew (and no, I didn't get me a refill). I'm therefore assigning 4 points to my large Mountain Dew. If Nettie or anyone else objects, raise it in a comment and we'll discuss.

But we had a problem. After 3 tater-cakes and 2 out of the 3 sammiches, I was feeling full. I could've put away that third roast beef, but I remembered that little graphic in one of the WW booklets that said to eat until satisfied, not stuffed. I didn't want to hit the Whammy, so I passed my remaining spin to Puddy.

And, as you might imagine, the girl was quite orgasmic when I got home and gave her sammich #3 (just the roast beast, not the bun -- we're trying to watch her weight, too).

Again, Houston, we still have a problem. I bought 34 points' worth of meal, but only consumed just 27 of it. That left a point surplus of 11.

Fast forward to 11 PM. I went to Kroger and picked up a few items (I love grocery shopping late at night). I've wanted to try those Lean Cuisine pepperoni pizzas. They're about the size of your average Pizza Hut "personal pans", and - amazingly enough - are just basic pizzas. No bells and whistles. Worth a shot, however I was leery about zapping them in the microwave. Bread usually isn't too good in there. And those meals generally say not to prepare in a toaster oven. Well, I thought I'd get one of those and cook it up in the regular oven, and shoot for an even 41 as I watched a movie I rented.

Also I bought a batch of Gorton's fish tenders. Real filet, not minced fish. That was for tomorrow night.

Got home, and opened the pizza box. Well, crap! "Do not prepare in toaster OR CONVENTIONAL oven." Whooookay, guess I'll nuke it then.

Set it for 3 minutes on high, and I gave it a try. Gotta say it wasn't too bad. Quite good actually, although next time I'll shoot for 2.45 or 2.30. The outer crust was a little tough. Seriously, I liked it. Woo hoo, another diversion from friggin' TUNA for lunch. So:

LATE NIGHT "SNACK":
Lean Cuisine Pepperoni Pizza: 7 points.
Can of 7-UP to wash it down: 3

After my 7-UP was finished (it's in a green can with a big "7" on it, and "U-P" after), I had some water, and popped a bag of the single-serve microwave popcorn Sera had gotten. Not too good. There's that perfect "g-spot" for that size a serving -- miss it too soon and you have too many unpopped kernels, too long and it takes hours for the burnt smell to clear. Missed it on the safe side, but I had both - several burnt pieces and a lot of kernels. Well, @#$%. Hardly satisfying, but still just uno pointavo.

Total late-night points: 11. Making for:

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED FRIDAY: 41

Day 5 - Saturday, 05/10:
BREAKFAST:
Surely you jest. I stayed up 'till 4:30, so I slept 'till the crack of noon.

Went outside and mowed the front and side yard after I got up. "Activity" points earned: 4. (it took 40 minutes)

Had a big glass of water afterward (hey, no big-ass Mountain Dew from the Gate station ... there's hope for me yet, I think). Got showered and Simonized, and went down to Pooler to Sam's Club, where I fed Rupert some $3.53/9 petrol. Half a tank's worth, but gas is going up, not down. (Later today it gas went up in town to $3.68/9, so who's laughing now?). Then across Pooler Parkway to chow down.............

LUNCH:
Regular Chick-Fil-A meal of two sandwiches and an 8-piece nugget on the side. Instead of the unsweet tea, I tried a large Coke Zero with it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Indeed, there is no such thing as a good-tasting non-sweetened soda. That stuff was gross. Ecch. Back to tea from now on. Oh well, at least it was still zero points. Total at CFA: the usual 24 points.

Lunch was consumed at about 3:30 p.m. So I waited until about 10 or so and had supper. As previously stated, I bought a box of Gorton's fish tenders.

SUPPER:
That's right, I Trusted The Gorton's Fisherman. It was either that, or store-brand minced fish product. Parts is parts. Well, those Gorton's "fish tenders", made from filets (or so the box claimed), were n-a-s-t-y. All breading and little actual fish filet product. If Clara Peller had eaten one, you know what she would've said.

I didn't know Mr. Gorton, with his rain coat and wind-swept beard, was a fisherman in search of the elusive North Atlantic Bermudian Breaded Fishtail.

Well, I calculated the points on that abomination. The entire box (11 pieces - they weren't much bigger than your average fish stick!!) came to 17 points.

With a 7-UP alongside, the supper meal was a nice round 20.

Subtotal: 44 points.

I reached into the bag of grass clippings and made a "withdrawal" of 3 out of 4 earned "activity" points, for my final tally:

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED SATURDAY: 41

I would've done better just getting a bacon cheeseburger meal at Huddle House. No, with all the grease and the server's missing teeth, the points would've been in the triple digits. (Gotta say I actually like the HH cheeseburgers. Sometimes. Not often.)


Day 6 - Sunday, 05/11:
Sunday morning. Here we are.

Stayed up 'till 4:30 ... again ... and woke up when the weather radio started be-bopping with warnings left and right. One of 'em a tornado warning for Effingham. Fortunately, we just got a lot of heavy rain and nothing else. After that little adventure I went to Wal-Mart and got a few things .... ended up walking around in that place for an hour. 10 minutes of walking is 1 activity point. Total of 6 points in the "bank."

Which I then "spent" on a 6-inch roasted chicken on white from Subway (in the Wally World). Had a small water with it. Point value: 6. - zero sum -

After that fun-filled time, I went back to sleep. This would've been about 10:30, and I got up at 2:30. Did Arby's for lunch.

LUNCH:
Had one of the "2 for $3.00" roast beef coupons. Ordered a total of 4. That was it.
Went by the Gate station to redeem a freebie 44-oz. Mountain Dew. (buy 5 coffees or drinks and you get one free).

I ate three and gave Puddy #4. 21 points.
Mountain Dew from Gate. 44 / 2 = 22. Round to 24. 6 points.

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED SO FAR TODAY: 27
REMAINING POINTS: 14.

Amazing. I haven't dipped one iota into my weekly 35. How 'bout them bananas?

Depending on what Sera and I will do for supper, I might have to dip tonight, but certainly not all of 'em.

I got one thing to say about tomorrow night and my second "weigh-in" ... I DAMN SURE have better lost. The bathroom scale, assuming the same discrepancy as last week, shows I've dropped 7 pounds. We'll see.

Don't worry, I'm not going to be logging all of my meals on this blog. What you will be getting is a weekly "report" after the Monday night meeting. [reverb] REPORT ... FROM ... GLECKVILLE!!!!!! [lose reverb]

All this talk about points makes me feel like I've become a girl.

Now for a salad. Crutons, please. And pass that Jane Austen novel.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "2-1/2 hours 'till my wife gets back home" Gleck

09 May 2008

Point man

Day 4 of The Big Experiment.

It began with a mean wake-up call. At about 9:30 this morning, I was jerked awake by some massive cramps on my right leg. I could see the waves of contraction on my leg as I dang near yanked the hose clear out of my CPAP machine while bolting out of bed.

I tried the 'urban legend' of biting on my upper lip -- supposedly triggering a nervous reaction that helps ease what's going on downbody. Well, after a few seconds the stabbing pain abated, but the soreness lingers, even as I write. Damn, those things hurt like a mutha.

Man, that's the first leg cramp I've had in ages. I used to have them from time to time, however I honestly cannot remember the last time I had one.

This must be my body's first rebellion to what has been a near-seismic change in my eating. Monday, I joined Weight Watchers. And after officially starting the new eating pattern Tuesday morning, I've been faithful to my 41 allotted points for days 1 through 3.

Here's a little review of what I've eaten so far.......

Day 1 - Tuesday, 05/06:
(no breakfast - I did my weekly half-day 'telecommute')

Ate a banana and had some water when I got up. 2 points.

LUNCH:
One (1) can of Kroger brand white tuna in water: 3 points
One (1) can of The Grapefruit Nectar Of The Gods, Squirt®: 3 points
A buttload of crackers (original Premium Na-biiiis-cooo *ding!*): 8 points
(largely a case of prolonged munchies. Four crackers is one point. Damn, those things sure add up....)

SUPPER:
Chick-Fil-A. Two (2) CFA sandwiches and one (1) 8-piece nuggets. Essentially what I usually get at CFA. Except I forewent the large Coke and instead went with a large unsweet tea (with a couple of "Splenda" packs). Unsugared tea is nada. A large Coke would've been 6 points. Chick-Fil-A sandwiches are 9 points per, and the 8-nugget pack is 6. Total: 24 points.

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED TUESDAY: 40

Day 2 - Wednesday, 05/07:
BREAKFAST:
Breakfast is good, so they say. I started out with a bang. One (1) Subway 12-inch roasted chicken sub. White bread. No cheese. Meat and bread only (I'm serious). 12 points
One (1) 32-oz. unsweet tea from Parker's (a local convenience store chain). Passed up what I've long usually gotten: a Mountain Dew out of the fountain. Either way, I desperatedly needed a shot of caffeine. Went with the zero-point option instead (although my heart craved Doing The Dew).

LUNCH:
Can of aforementioned Kroger brand white tuna in water: 3
Finished off cracker sleeve from day before: 4
Squirt "Holy Nectar": 3

AFTERNOON SNACK:
Banana: 2
Water.

SUPPER
:
Two (2) pork chops, hot off the George Foreman: 8 (2 x 4 oz.)
Two (2) cups' worth of white rice: 8
Big ol' honkin' glass of Seraphim's Splendid Splenda Tea Product: nada.

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED WEDNESDAY: 40

Day 3 - Thursday, 05/08:

BREAKFAST:
A luffly "Del Monte" brand banana: 2
Glass of SSSTP for the commute in: 0

Stopped at Kroger on the way to the island where I pondered something besides friggin' TUNA for lunch. Perused the "healthy" frozen foods section, and -- yet again -- lamented the lack of options for us 'spartan' (okay - picky!) eaters. All of the "Lean Cuisine", "Smart Ones" and "Healthy Choice" dinners are full of frou-frou pseudo-haute food things. Okay, the turkey breast looked good, but not the "vegetable medley" that went with it. Sorry, but if I want to buy a frozen dinner, I at least want to eat all of it .... or at least everything besides the grotesque muffin-like dessert thing.

There was just one of those dinners I found to my liking, and that's the chicken alfredo. Bought one for lunch.

After I went to the bathroom to wash off all that damned estrogen, I went on to work.

Seriously, why can't just one of those companies market something called, say, "Healthy Basics" - where they have simple yet sensible portions of basic 'comfort food.' For some of us guys who are also trying to change some long-established habits? Please? No offense to the "chicks", but I ain't one.

And this lack of quick and simple options, I'd say, is one reason I've fallen off the wagon in the past, ya know?

Okay, back to the countdown.

Jingle: LUNCH!!!:
Lean Cuisine brand chicken alfredo dinner: 6
[Despite it being woefully small, I felt rather satisfied afterward.]
One (1) Seven (7) -Up soft drink: 3

AFTERNOON SNACK:
Banana: 2
Water.

SUPPER:
Dinner with Seraphim with Chick-Fil-A (can't get enough of it).
Same basic meal as above: 24

Sera had her cake class, and I went to the library with the laptop to do some editing of a radio show I produce. When I picked her up after class, we tallied our points and we were both a bit short. I lacked 6.

We both were hungry, so we had a kind of a "post-supper" meal at Chick-Fil-A on the way back home. I thought I'd try the chargrilled chicken. I did this with not a little trepidation. The last time I had any "grilled" chicken fast food item, I tasted that thing for an entire day. Ecch.

Ordered one (without the garden, and on a regular bun), with a water. Seraphim had one on a wheat bun. Wasn't too bad, actually, but I still prefer the tried-and-true "classic." Total: 5 points.

TOTAL POINTS CONSUMED THURSDAY: 40

Which brings us to this morning, and my little PITL. So, is three days' worth of change causing my decrepit body to start doing weird things? Are we talking insufficient levels of sodium or potassium? Hardly. But I wonder if sugar deficiency plays a role? I've had just THREE (!!!!) carbonated, sweetened beverages in the last three days. One a day. Hell, that's what I used to put back in a single day, or just the workday alone!!!

Maybe it's the adjustment ... my body saying, "Whoa, dude, where's the junk????"

I'm working a later shift today, so again there was no breakfast. Had tea on the way into work, and for lunch I ate one can of Kroger tuna, and I had a water instead of a Squirt. (insert dramatic music cue here)

It's almost 6:00 and I have consumed just three (3) points today. 38 left. Seraphim's on the way to Albany for the annual Mother/Daughter shindig, so I'm on my own. Here's to a good dinner (I'm thinking Arby's), and maybe some popcorn or another nice snack later tonight.

Again, can I hold on to this? It seems encouraging SO FAR. I mean, I've been able to enjoy some meals I normally eat. Chick-Fil-A, for one. Also, Arby's. A regular roast beef is 7 points. I can put away three of those, and usually have. 21 points.

My usual meal at Cracker Barrel (Chicken & Dumplings with three sides, plus two biscuits) is 26 points. I suspect my beloved Breakfast Sampler plate at IHOP is in the 30 point range.

It appears as if I can maintain some of these eating patterns, but with some slight fine-tunes (ditching the fries, for example ... and replacing a soda with unsweet tea; Splenda really helps in that department -- I can't tell the difference, and it dissolves much easier than sugar or Equal).

That sure as hell beats giving up all those things. I just eat more conservatively during the workday, dropping the cashews and other munchy-foods I'm way too guilty of putting away, and I can still enjoy some of these edible pursuits.

So far, so good. And my 35 bonus points remain untouched (although I'm sure I'll blow those out of the water tomorrow).

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Sore hobbler" Gleck

08 May 2008

Hey Seraphim, watch me pull a post out of my hat.

(Again??!!)

I've been watching some classic "Rocky & Bullwinkle" episodes from an old '90s-era VHS set a co-worker of mine has. Jay Ward and Bill Scott created what in my mind is the most brilliantly-written cartoon series east of Looney Tunes and west of Family Guy. The animation was farmed out to a cheap place in Mexico, and it showed. It looked worse than your average '60s Hanna-Barbera garbage.

But nobody cared! That's how magnificent they were.

Boris Badenov, above, was the nemesis of "moose and squirrel." I liked Boris when I was little, but as a middle-aged old fart I find him funnier and funnier the more I see him. The expressions on his face, and that mock-Russian cold war accent just makes me laugh out loud.

That's all. Just thought I'd share.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Sharrup Your Mouth!" Gleck

06 May 2008

Looking another gift vein in the needle (thankfully, the needle is a clean one)

Or: Mr. Cross, get off my @#$%ing case!!!!!!!!!!

Allow me to share with you a little phone call I received a few minutes ago. It was from The American Red Cross, and they were informing me that a blood drive was taking place this Friday at Savannah Technical College. And at what time did I want to make an appointment?

Oh brother ... AGAIN??. Do these tele-blood-eters get a commission for each appointment they get (I can see it now - a bonus charm splattered with a few drops of our blood). I've already said why I prefer to deal directly with the local chapter instead of a call center at the national level.

I told her I already gave at the portable office, which means I have 53 more days until I can do this again. And, nicely as I could (although I was a little ticked), that I did not want to receive another phone call like this. That I have marked 56 days on a calendar (June 28, in case you're curious), and after that I'll be seeking another blood drive and - again - will happily allow them to relieve me of some bloodparts.

I'll say it one more time: It's greedy and downright tacky to try and further hit up those who have already given of themselves.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Down a pint right now, thank you" Gleck

05 May 2008

Battle of the Hits (or: I Can't Disappoint Tom York!)

The contenders:

CHICKEN FAT / Robert Preston (1961)

- versus -

FOOL (IF YOU THINK IT'S OVER) / Chris Rea (1978)

Tonight, after our Weight Watchers meeting (Seraphim's seventh; my first one), we stopped by Kroger to pick up a few needed things. While we pondered the regular cream of chicken soup versus the "reduced fat" kind ...... as I've long viewed it, "reduced fat" or "fat-free" translates to "reduced taste" or "taste-free." My wife said it was the chicken stock which provided the "chickeny" flavor, not the chicken fat.

Chicken fat! Suddenly two words of infamy in Birmingham, Alabama television sprang to my mind's forefront. That was the title of an exercise record from 1961 (listen to it here). Subtitled "The Youth Fitness Song," it became the bane of P.E. classes everywhere in Kennedy's Camelot.


But anyone who remembers morning television in my native city of Birmingham knows the song for another reason completely. The Morning Show was a 32-year fixture on WBRC-TV, and was hosted by the legendary broadcaster Tom York until his retirement in 1989. Far as I know, it still holds the record for longest-running local morning show in TV history. Well, Tom York used to have an exercise segment on the show, and the song he played was "Chicken Fat." Which means, Birminghamians of my age and older look at this song in a different, more nostalgic light.

The record you see above is mine. I scored a pristine-looking radio promotional copy of "Chicken Fat" some 15 years ago in, of all places, the rickety and decrepit building in Birmingham's Five Points South housing the beautiful Charlemagne Record Exchange. I saw it in a hodge-podge of old 45s, completely unorganized and without price stickers. White-label DJ copy, near-mint condition. Oooooooh, my heart went aflutter.

I then donned my best poker-face, and asked a nearby employee -- kind of young-ish looking -- "how much for this old thing?"

He answered, in an equally-dismissive tone, "Ohhhhh, a dollar."

YES!! This guy was too young to remember Tom York!! And nobody else was around to blow my "cover." Were one of the old-timers nearby, I'm sure he'd have asked ten bucks or more for that record.

*********
A few minutes later, a late '70s pop song began playing over Kroger's PA system: Chris Rea's hit "Fool (If You Think It's Over)." And I thought to myself, "What a curious song to hear while I'm at the grocery store entertaining some smarter food items for my workday consumption."

It's as if my devil inside was openly mocking me, doubting I can pull off this Weight Watchers nonsense.

So, there you are. Chris Rea versus Tom York.

Who wins? Details after news with Bill Bolen, and a musical interlude from Country Boy Eddy and Three on a String.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Plump" Gleck

PS: One thing that just occurred to me .... my weight tonight was 295 and change (I'm very glad I never crested 300). When we first signed up for the Y in January 2007, I was fluctuating between 290 and 295. So I've kept my weight static over 16 months with my same (terrible) eating habits and woefully little exercise. So maybe with some adjustments I can make that 75 pound goal. Here goes somethin'.................

295.2

That's the magic number on the Weight Watchers scale tonight.

Tonight I made a leap of faith. A little over a month ago, my sweet and wonderful (and other sickeningly gooey mushitudes) wife joined Weight Watchers. She explained the reasons on her blog. So, why didn't I join at the same time?

Three reasons, actually:

1) I do not like how the WW organization won't allow for a 'couples rate' and instead will charge the full ticket for those husband/wife teams (or the same sex of your choice, hey it's a free country). Using the 'Monthly Pass' rate of $39.99 a month, that would be right at 80 smackers just to step on a scale and, in my case, be immersed in a pink tub full of estrogen. WW, after all, is typically a "chick" thing. I'm not a "chick", you see. For one thing, there's that phallic-like growth on my ..... well, anyway .....

2) At the time, it appeared I would've been the only one with said phallic thingamabobber. ("Is that a PointsFinder in your pocket or are you happy to see that you've lost weight?")

3) I'm too much the cheapskate. My wife wanted to join Weight Watchers. So I figured I'd just "mooch" off her literature, and act as my own agent. I'd offer immoral support and be her cheering section from the peanut gallery.

So that's how things stood for the glorious month of April. Then several things happened:
  • Seraphim hit a small pothole last week. Not much of one, when up against her record so far (I won't steal her thunder about tonight. I'll let her tell that one.), but it was still the slightest gain.
  • I felt guilty. It's as if I've let her down in the "immoral support."

  • Plus, I've been eating too many cashews in the peanut gallery. Mr. Peanut, damn your eye!
  • I cannot trust myself to keep to the points without the aforementioned pink bathtub full of estrogen.

  • It's not 100% estrogen. There are now two (2) other men who attend meetings in Rincon. Three's a charm, right? Not to appear misogynistic, but I'm not comfortable as the only Y in a sea of X, if you get what I'm sayin'.

  • I need to shed a few pounds. There's been no come-to-Jesus, no doctor's threats, my health -- apnea and gout issues notwithstanding -- is good, my blood pressure is nice and normal (per the Red Cross' assessment during Saturday's blood drive), but I wouldn't mind going back to within spitting distance of 200. ("normal" weight - i.e. what nazis like MeMe Roth have decreed - for a person of my height is 175 pounds).

  • While I wouldn't mind having a weight starting with a 1, something I haven't seen since I had the world on a string at the corner of Main and Barraque Streets, I don't see that happening. I'm settling on a personal goal of 75 pounds. The more, the merrier.

  • This endeavor is only for me. If my maternal grandmother, who thought I was a fat ass back in college when I weighed 180-185 pounds, takes any credit from above, I'm sure Gran Lera will go over and slug her one.

  • Our wonderful (cough!) and marvelous (hack!) federal gumment sweetly placed the sum of $1,200 into our joint bank account. (Ain't election year recessions so peachy-keen?)

  • After one tank of gas, that left just enough to cover several months' worth of Weight Watchers dues for my person.
So ... thanks to the generosity of Uncle Sam, I am now a member of Weight Watchers. What's really neat is that my wife will be at my side. We can cheer each other on from the same players' bench.

Can I do this? Frankly, I doubt it. But I'll try. I plan on committing to at least four (4) months of WW -- a good Summer's worth. But I have 10 months banked up from what my wife so brilliantly called our "restitution check."

Please pardon my pessimism. At the end of 2006, my wife and I joined our YMCA. Our plan was to lose some weight through exercise and a modification of our diet.
  • That went over like a led zeppelin. Much as I wanted to exercise (and I missed the whole Nautilus regimen during my days in Hot Springs), it was more than a little difficult to drag my pimpled white assparts out Highway 21 toward the Y after a long day's work. We fell off the wagon and got creamed by the Wiley Sanders semi behind it. Reupping would only be wasteful. So we didn't.

  • The apparent truth is that I have next to zero willpower. All attempts I've made at modifying my eating habits have gone under the Greyhound bus behind the Wiley Sanders semi.

  • If I'm not a picky eater, then I'd be what one might call a "very very spartan, basic 'meat and potatoes' eater."

  • The idea of further narrowing what already is a slim piece of pavement kinda underwhelms.

  • I worry about turning into a royal rhymes-with-swat. Not toward my wife or anyone else I love, however I know how I can be when I'm really hungry. I'm afraid changing the eating habits, portions, etc., will be akin to kicking a cigarette addiction.

  • In other words, I know myself all too well.

  • I hope I'm wrong, though. If I am, I'll gladly eat crow. (How many points is that?)
Words of encouragement will be appreciated. But pardon my skepticism.

I hope this is a turning point.

*********
Right now, the weight is 295.2. Never mind the bathroom scale at home read 291.4 when I stepped on it just before leaving for the meeting -- I wanted to see what kind of discrepancy there was between the scales.

10% is the first goal they set for us. In my case, that'd be 29.52 pounds. Let's say 30. I wonder if I can make that by Summer's end. Then maybe -- just maybe -- I could be down 50 or so by Christmas. And 60 by our next trip to West Virginia. Then 75 by next May.

It doesn't hurt to dream.

Next, some amusing thoughts while at Kroger tonight.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Do I get 2 bonus points just for spelling my name right?" Gleck

04 May 2008

Sittin' Southside at a Food Court table

...one token over the line!

I know Savannah Mall is hurting for tenants and business, but they must be desperate -- they now have marijuana vending machines in there!

I took this a week or so back when the missus and I -- against my better judgment -- were eating supper at the Savannah Mall food court just before her cake class. My Chick-Fil-A sandwich was ecchy (I don't get it - the freestanding locations are all good and fresh, while the CFAs at both of our malls serve up sandwiches prepared in 1992). And the one slice of Pepperoni pizza I got from Sbarro was reheated.

Like I said, "against my better judgment." Note to self: Next time, go for that hinky "Hot Stuff" or "Buffet" pizza at the convenience store.

Savannah Mall is the newer of our two indoor shopping meccas. Uglythorpe--I mean, Oglethorpe Mall was the first, opening in 1969 (trivia: Chick-Fil-A #1 is in Atlanta's Greenbriar Mall. Store #2 is the one in Oglethorpe.) That mall has since been renovated and expanded, and despite Savannah Mall's architecture appearing a bit more, shall we say, 'haute', Oglethorpe is the more 'successful' of the city's malls. But this is Savannah we're talking about -- embracing the old while rejecting the new. :-)

As uppity as the mall looks, sad to say there isn't much to it. The food court is very limited (there used to be a really good Wendy's, but it's since closed), half the storefronts are empty, and while it's bounced back from being on the verge of closing altogether in 2002-03, it's still quite dead. There's a good A.C. Moore in there (I have it on good authority they have a very awesome Wilton cake teacher), a Target, and a Bass Pro Outdoor World. Otherwise, it's very depressing inside that mall. I mean, there isn't even a music store or a Radio Shack. And while Oglethorpe has a Barnes & Noble, Savannah Mall has a Waldenbooks. Good gawd, that's like an '80s timewarp!

All this is just academic; the truth is, I don't like malls anymore. I'm 43 years old, not 17. And it's depressing to pass by the arcade (yes, Savannah Mall has one), and see a ghost town inside. Memories of Aladdin's Castle in Hot Springs Mall on Friday and Saturday nights in 1982-83 and it being more crowded than Times Square on New Year's Eve.

Galaga, anyone?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Not Tiffany" Gleck

03 May 2008

A quart low

So late this morning both Lovuhmylife Seraphim and I went down to the shopping center next to Lovett's Hardware, where a little 'carnival' of sorts was taking place. A fundraiser for the sugar refinery explosion back in February. Present in the parking lot was a Red Cross Bloodmobile. As promised, our plan was to part with another pint's worth of pulmonary payload.

But yours truly forgot to do something. I think they call it "eating." Okay, okay, so I slept in and skipped breakfast. For shame, Tal! Anyhoo, our agenda was for us to partake of lunch after we finished donating. That plan changed after we observed a little crisis in the Bloodmobile. A guy evidently went into a hypoglycemic shock of some kind, had some convulsions, and passed out. They were yelling and trying to bring him to. Yipe!

Now I've never had problems with giving blood. I fill that bag quickly, if I may toot my own vein. But all the times I've donated, it's been on a full stomach. I didn't want to chance passing out, or some other complication due to a lack of sustenance thus far today.

So we left and went to eat lunch (the Red Cross lady graciously took our completed forms and filed 'em away 'till we came back). And, after a nice and filling meal, we returned. When we stepped back into the Bloodmobile, who was there but our Congressman, John Barrow. He was there to Give The Gift Of Life, as well. (to his credit, he didn't create a media circus; it was just him, his daughter and an aide. She took a picture for the occasion, however he was otherwise just there like anyone else)

They took us into the little room where they prick the finger and ask those crazy questions, like "Have you had sex with anyone who visited Indonesia with a friend whose cousin came into contact 20 years ago with HIV?" There are a lot of "sex" questions. And much as I tried to brush 'em off with a light-hearted "If so, my wife would have some unpleasant things to say to me!", they had no sense of humor. C'mon, lighten up -- those questions are LAME -- i.e., if I patronized a brothel in Elbonia, and conducted business with a prostitute who had the AIDS virus, would I admit it?!?!?!

Those questions - at least two dozen before I lost count - they ask in a rat-a-tat manner which called to mind those stupid and pointless "car inspections" you had to have done each year back in Arkansas. My side of the conversation consisted of the lyrics to The Human Beinz 1967 hit "Nobody But Me."

Okay, the worst part over with (I, for one, find that the finger-prick for the initial blood iron test more painful than the actual needle in the elbow to fill the bag!), I made my way for the next open 'bed.' At the same time, my wife was finished with her Grand Prick-quisition and took a bed adjacent to mine.

Now there's one huge difference between Seraphim and myself when it comes to what I'll call "accessibility" ... For me - *poit!* - a vein pops up like that whack-a-mole game and it takes a blathering retard to miss with the needle. Sera, on the other hand, is like a friggin' turnip. I remember the devil of a time the nurse had trying to find a blood vessel when we each got poked for the marriage license blood test.

I have to say, those Red Cross people on duty this afternoon were good. Got her on the first try.
We filled our bags, got our little bandages and were sent on our way with "nab" crackers and our choice of fruit punch or apple juice ("Due to a mixup in Urology, no apple juice will be served today.") . I took fruit punch and the wife chose apple juice.

On the way back we picked up a couple of DVDs at Movie Gallery, and now we're home.

I'm always happy to give blood. Aside from knowing my precious fluids can save some lives and help out some of the people in this area who are still in need of blood from the refinery tragedy, I also like the fact that every bit of what I give is going to those who need it. No "overhead" to service ... it all goes to help my neighbors. And, as I've said, the karma factor always applies.

If you're healthy and able, and can do so without fainting or some other complication(s), you should consider doing the same.

Oh, and as for Rep. Barrow ... he was turned away, unable to donate blood because he traveled outside the country recently (he was in Afghanistan, I believe). Well, that sucks! As I see it, though, he gets credit for attendance.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "56 more days 'till I can do this again" Gleck

PS - Why does my left arm look like a three-week-old banana? (just kidding)

Why must Kentucky have all the glory?

Kate/Susan posed this comment to my post the other day about Kentucky Roast Beef:
"I was unaware that Kentucky was known for its beef, but then again, I never thought of Kentucky as a chicken capital of the world either."

Kentucky's role in the evolution of pressure-fried cluck flesh is simply that of being the right state at the right time. Chew on this: Harland Sanders operated not one but TWO locations of Sanders Motor Court & Cafe. ("I'm a CHAIN!!!") The home location, of course, was Corbin, Kentucky. But Sanders Court #2 was in Asheville, N.C.

What if Harland Sanders had perfected his fried chicken recipe in Asheville instead of Corbin? And, since there's no such thing as a "North Carolina Colonel", we'd instead be singing the praises of Tarheel Harland's North Carolina Fried Chicken. Our original recipe is to be, rather than to seem finger-lickin' good. '60s commercials would've encouraged us to "Visit the Tarheel."

But, lest any of you think Kentucky had the chicken market all locked up, I give you:

Yes, Maryland Fried Chicken. I believe it was started in Florida along about 1960, and developed into a chain of take-out chicken restaurants mainly along the Eastern seaboard. And like many other "dead" chains, a number of them still remain as independent operations, each retaining the old name. Albany, Georgia has at least two locations today. Pictured above is the original MFC signage, for the location on north Slappey Drive.

I've never eaten Maryland Fried Chicken, despite having made many visits to Albany (a/k/a The Artesian City, Good Life City (I dare you to say that one with a straight face), Pine Bluff Of The East) over the last decade. I've never had any, although I want to try some one of these days. I'm sure my luffly wife-matter has partaken of the stuff at least once in her life, though. It might be plenty good, but I'd be surprised if it's anything as good as Crowe's.

I'll bet Maryland Fried Chicken offers some tasty side dishes, too: Baltimore Potato Salad, Chesapeke Cole Slaw, and those fantastic, world-famous Annapolis Hush Puppies.

Why couldn't we have had Georgia Fried Chicken? I'd love a three-piece dinner with a side of luscious Terrell County boiled peanuts. Mmmmmmmm ...... *drool*

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go back to counting the days 'till our local Shriners are out on Saturday afternoon selling hot boiled peanuts.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Original or Extra Snarky?" Gleck

02 May 2008

The Colonel didn't terrorize just chickens......

I'll bet few of you were aware of Colonel Sanders' little side venture in the '60s and '70s, a noble attempt to compete with the likes of Roy Rogers (which at the time was owned by Marriott and had far more locations than today, including all over the Deep South), Heap Big Beef and an upstart chain called Arby's.

Some time back, on a 1970 Charleston, S.C. radio aircheck, I heard a commercial for something called Kentucky Roast Beef. Of course it had me curious, so I did a little Googling around to see if any pictures were to be found. I wondered if the buildings resembled the red and white striped motif of Kentucky Fried Chicken, but with another color scheme.

I found just one, on a library website from somewhere in Washington state. The KRB buildings looked a bit more elegant and upscale than the chicken restaurants. There's no indication on when this spin-off began, or when the last KRB standing finally kicked the, ummm, bucket.

Also sold at these locations was "Kentucky Ham."

The question which begs asking: how many herbs and spices went into the roast beef and ham sammiches? And were they also a secret?

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "Did they do roast beef right?" Gleck

01 May 2008

Meet the Communist canines!

It's a done deal, and all over but the crying Indian. And they've unveiled the new logo to go with it. Arkansas State University, although retaining the name Indians for the remainder of this school year, will begin competing this fall as the Red Wolves.

After enduring a few minutes' worth of cringing spasms, the logo -- in some ways -- has grown on me. At least they've gone with the old-style typeface.

In other words, there's a distinct "A-State" look about it. It loosely resembles the logo to your left, one that's been in use for decades. But that damned wolf will take some getting used to, though. It's a long way from (Running or Jumping) Joe.

The true-to-the-brand image I see in the logo is the big silver lining I see in this supercell cloud. It sure as hell beats the insignia adopted for Troy ----- University when the administration threw away thousands (if not millions) of dollars' worth of brand-building all because they thought the word "State" trivialized their puffed-up egos.

The "shield" insignia for Troy University athletics looks like some generic "Spirit" stickers I've seen on many a soccer mom's minivan! At least Arkansas State University didn't have to plagiarize another design. And respected a tradition in the process.

Ummmm, hold the phone. Respecting a tradition? Arkansas State?? Perish the thought.

Consider:
  • A university with milquetoast-dull boxy yellowish brick facades for most of its buildings.

  • A university that has singly destroyed two of its arterial roads through campus (Caraway Road and Aggie Road) in favor of "pedestrian malls."

  • A university which, literally, paved paradise and put up a parking lot. My beloved practice track behind the College of Communications, home to plenty of after-work midnight walks, conversation, and laying down on a side bench gazing at the stars while the occasional train passes by, was destroyed so some asphalt and yellow lines could be laid down.

  • A university that is ..............
Yeah. This one necessitates a separate post, but first I have some pictures I need to find and scan. Let's just say I'm a little upset about it.

Details, with Pat Prokop weather, at 11.

Ciao for niao.

--Talmadge "I-N-D-I-A-....oops, er, um, I mean RED-W-O-L-V-E-S, means Victory! Go A-State!" Gleck