Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Breakfast is the Most Important Meal of the Day ... or was that Happy Hour?

My six year old daughter prepares her own breakfast. The toast had been eaten from the plate by the time this photograph was taken, but what amused me (and prompted the photograph) was her beverage presentation and garnishment.

Note to Wife:

In future, to spare yourself the pain of sitting in traffic for two hours, try to avoid planning your outings wherein your route will intersect with the President's motorcade. Such a scenario is never pretty.

Monday, August 27, 2007

47 Items in the Express Line

A week's worth of food, beverages, sundries, piled high in our metal and plastic shopping cart. It was 9 PM, and as I scanned the check registers the only one open was the express lane, 15 items or less. The other lanes were dark.

I began unloading behind a young man purchasing a six pack of beer. I am often annoyed at people who disregard the express lanes at a supermarket, and I count their items as they are checked by the cashier. My inner cop wants frequently to take down express lane violators: "Hey -- you have eighteen items, there, pal! And yes, I counted the lemons as two items!"

But there I was, violating my own rule, and my inner cop was silent. "The place is practically empty," I told myself, "and no other check stands are open." I managed to justify my position, and truth and the facts were on my side.

Cabbage. Potato chips. Peaches. Ground beef. 15. 16. 17. 18 items and going strong.

No problem, I thought to myself. No other lanes open.

I was aware of the fact that there were now several shoppers behind me, each with one or two items. Five or six people, all uniformed flight attendants. One or two made a point of staring at my food items piled on the conveyor, then glancing up at the "Express Lane Only" sign above me with visible scowls.

But I was clean. I was in the right. No where else to check out.

That was when the cashier told me, "It's probably too late to mention this..." -- 31 items, two milks, that's 33 -- "but this is the express lane."

I nodded a knowing nod, and looked down at the vast empty, cashierless lanes beyond.

Except -- four other non-express checkstand lanes were open just beyond me, and other shoppers with loads of groceries were checking out.

My cashier was still looking at me, as if awaiting a reply. "When I was..." I started, "I mean, there were no other...I mean, you were the only one."

The cashier smiled. "Some days I feel like I'm the only one," she said in a patronizing tone, then turned away to scan my bathroom cleaner.

I stammered. "No, no, really... I mean...." The place was buzzing, people were checking out, and the flight attendants waited impatiently behind me as my item count rounded 40. I had become a supermarket checkstand lane bottleneck.

This was the express lane, and there was no bagger. I took me a few minutes to pay, then I had to clear all by own bags out of the area. The flight attendants were engaged in some chit-chat with the cashier about express lane violators.

I hung my head as I left the supermarket, no wiser, but chastened. I had broken my cardinal rule of grocery shopping, I had violated the law of the lane, I had become that which I had for so long despised. I had checked 47 items through the 15 items or less express lane, and I had gotten away with it.

And I had enjoyed every moment of it.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Young Frankenstein

Following on the heels of his successful Broadway hit "The Producers," Mel Brooks has brought his 1974 comedy "Young Frankenstein" to the stage.

"Young Frankenstein" opens on Broadway in November, but we had the opportunity to see the show previewed in Seattle this week.

Brooks, who picked up three Tony awards for his stage version of "The Producers," was in town for the world premiere of this latest musical extravaganza. (He is a small man, I was pleased to discover).

Brooks, who wrote the songs and co-wrote the book for this show, stays close to the screenplay he and Gene Wilder crafted for the '74 film. The sets and staging are spectacular, and the show brings enough cinematic flair to the stage to make it visually arresting while at the same time "Young Frankenstein" is still very much a stage musical.

"Together Again for the First Time," "He Vas My Boyfriend," "Transylvania Mania," and the crowd-pleasing "Puttin' On the Ritz" are favorites among the cleverly conceived and effectively choreographed songs which Brooks has added to the familiar Frankenstein tale.

It's tough to fill roles already identified by other actors, but Roger Bart, Meagan Mullally and Andrea Martin head a solid and very funny cast as Frederick Frankenstein, his finance Elizabeth and Frau Blucher.

"Young Frankenstein" is entertaining, it's bright, it's funny. If you are in Seattle or New York, Mel Brooks needs you to see it.

Abby Normal

"Now, that brain that you gave me. Was it Hans Delbruck's?"


"Ah! Good. Would you mind telling me whose brain I did put in?

"And you will not be angry?"

"I will not be angry."

"Abby Someone."

"Abby Someone. Abby who?"

"Abby Normal."

"Abby Normal?"

"I'm almost sure that was the name."

"Are you saying that I put an abnormal brain into a seven-and-a-half foot long, fifty-four inch wide....gorilla? Is that what you're telling me?"

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sea Fair

Sea Fair is here. The fleet's in town. And I've been hearing and seeing the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels buzzing overhead all week.

Those F-A18 Hornets never cease to amaze me, and I look forward to their screaming overhead each August.

My family spent the day out and about enjoying ourselves and my daughter enjoyed catching the occasional glimpse of them, though she complained that they are too loud. They are loud. Very loud.

Unlike many airshows, in which the Blue Angels must perform their show over a runway, in Seattle their stage is Lake Washington, and they roar over the city to the delight of many (and to the consternation of some).

I had the privilege of being on the waters of Lake Washington a few years ago while the Blue Angels performed their show directly overhead. Talk about loud. And let me tell you from experience -- when those guys scream directly over your head you can feel the heat of their afterburners.

Truly an amazing experience, seeing the Blue Angels for a week every year is one of the things I truly like about living in Seattle.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer Day at the Shore

My daughter and her one-year-old cousin enjoy sun and surf at Folly Beach in South Carolina.

The kids did not mind the scorching 98 degree heat near as much as I did.

I sat under the umbrella with a copy of Deliverance while Lindsay attempted -- without success -- to get up onto Harper's boogie board.

No matter. Everyone had fun. That's what it's all about.

And yet, even as we passed our time blissfully at the beach, already events had transpired a continent away to rob us of the love and affection we had grown to cherish -- our fish, Flippers, had shuffled off this mortal coil and into the belly of a hungry cat, while we laughed and swam and ran and played, unaware.