Thursday, May 28, 2009

This is a test

Remember when your teachers used to say…”Okay students. Take out a piece of paper. We’re going to have a pop quiz.” You groaned, you mumbled, you scrambled for paper, you cursed under your breath because you hadn’t paid attention in class or read the assigned chapters.

None of those worries here. No cursing necessary. This is a fun test. No paper or pencils required.

Take a look at the images below and decide…..are they moving? Or are they still?

How about this one?

The images are used to test the level of stress a person can handle. The slower the images move, the better your ability to manage difficult situations.

Criminals that were tested said they saw the images spinning madly. However senior citizens and kids saw them standing motionless.

For the record, none of the images are animated. They are perfectly still.

I’ve got to admit, I think it’s a good measure. I tried it this morning when I was leisurely preparing for the day and the movement was minimal. I viewed them again this evening after a crazy afternoon and there was a lot more dancing going on.

And you?


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Better late than never

I’ve always been a late bloomer. Things just seem to come into my life a lot later than they do for most other folks. That’s not a complaint, because I agree with Bob Dylan “…I believe that things are handed to you when you are ready to make use of them.”

Yeah. That Bob Dylan. And he’s one of those “things” that has come to me later in my life.

I came of age when Dylan was roaring his way across the music world. He was always in my orbit, but being the shallow teen that I was, I gravitated more to The Beatles (because they were cuter), The Monkees (because they were funnier) and Jim Morrison (because he was more mysterious).

Dylan has become more front and center to me over the last ten years. During this time I’ve come to realize he’s more than a gravely voice. Even more than a celebrated poet. He is a non-stop wunderkind. Do you think you know his stats?

Well, here are the highlights:
- Released 44 albums in the last 46 years
- Sold more than 110 million albums
- Written over 500 songs
- His music has been covered by more than 3000 artists ranging from Duke Ellington to Bob Marley
- Won Academy Award and Golden Globe for “Things Have Changed”
- His memoir was on the NY Time bestseller list for 19 weeks
- Won a special Pulitzer Prize for “his profound impact on music…and extraordinary poetic power”
- As a visual artist he created a collection of drawings and sketches (a couple of which are featured on this post) and had them published.
- Was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Art et des Lettres, the highest cultural award in France (where he is revered)
- Currently performs more than 100 concerts a year

As you may have noticed, I’m currently embroiled in a Dylan love fest. Better late than never. I think he has probably had an impact on most people at some point. So I’m curious – how, when, where -- did he touch your life?

Bonus Question: If Elvis is The King. And Springsteen is The Boss. Shouldn’t Dylan have his own superlative handle? Your nomination, please.


To jog your memory, some Dylan lyrics are below. I’ve chosen more popular songs in hopes you will hear the music in your head.

Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
I once loved a woman, a child I'm told
I give her my heart but she wanted my soul
But don't think twice, it's all right

Forever Young
May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young.

Blowin' In The Wind
How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind.

Let It Be Me
I bless the day I found you
I want my arms around you
And so I beg you: Let it be me.
Each time we meet, love
I find complete love
Without your sweet love,
what would life be ?
So never leave me lonely
Tell me that you love me only
And say you'll always let it be me.

Just Like A Woman
She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
And she aches just like a woman
But she breaks just like a little girl.

Blue Moon
Blue moon, you saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart, without a love of my own.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's here, again

How'd that happen? Here we are coming up on Hump Day again. Where did the past week go? I guess that means we need something to smile about.

Oh oh. Somebody is fed up with social networking.

Well, times are hard so creativity counts.

Here lies the most picked-on man in history.

Well this fellow found something to smile about.

Gosh. Am I naive or what? I was looking for a way to end this post so I googled Hump Day thinking I'd find a fun quote. The results were not what I had in mind. Now before you all go running off to google that for yourself, please give me something to smile about and leave a PG rated comment.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Very clever indeed

Created by Brazilian artists Anderson Augusto and Leonardo Delafuente, this fun painted storm drain is one of many that have now turned the streets of São Paulo into popular tourist attractions.

A very clever work of art just perfect for Mellow Yellow Monday.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Thanks for your service

Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, was created to commemorate U.S. men and women who died while in military service. I think though, and rightly so, it has become a day to recognize all veterans.

My dad was a veteran of WWII. That’s his picture here….looking all handsome and snappy and devil-may-care. He was so proud to have been a soldier. He didn’t talk much about the action he saw, but he did talk about the men he served with.

His platoon remained a tight group. That band of brothers. They would hold reunions every couple of years to keep their friendship strong and once when they had a gathering near where I lived, I went out to meet his buddies.

Dad was a different person when in the company of his fellow soldiers. There was a light shining through him. A pride that just radiated from his eyes and broadened his smile. Whether they were talking about the war or grandchildren, there was a potent bond -- the knowledge they had been through something together that was important, and powerful, and ever lasting.

My dad passed almost four years ago. I think of him every day, but it’s on Memorial Day that I am awash in a special respect for him. I channel that pride he radiated. As I put out the row of small flags on my lawn today, I realized that he also instilled in me a fierce sense of patriotism.

From the editorial cartoons below, it seems as though there are others who share my appreciation for Memorial Day.

The next time you have the opportunity to be with a veteran – or a currently enlisted soldier, sailor, marine, or guardsman – thank them for their service. A salute would be nice, too.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

The gang's all here

The May television sweeps are over and drivel has returned to the tube. Ordinary drivel, not the blockbuster, hyped stuff we’ve been seeing for the past four weeks. I wanted background noise as I did the dishes so I clicked through the channels and hit a bonanza.

West Side Story.

Oh, stop wincing. This isn’t ordinary musical theatre, this is Bernstein and Sondheim retelling the story of Romeo and Juliet. With amazing choreography by Jerome Robbins, timeless songs and score, cultural differences, forbidden love…and the Jets and the Sharks!

I can remember as a kid dancing through the house (when no one was around), snapping my fingers and singing:

When you’re a jet/
You’re a jet all the way/
From you first cigarette/
To your last dying day.
When you’re a jet/
Let them do what they can/
You got brothers around/
You’re a family man.
(snap, snap)

Honestly, I don’t know how I remember those lyrics. I don’t think there is another song, other than maybe a couple of Christmas carols, where I know more than one line.

Whenever I’m in a really low mood and trying to convince myself that things are looking up, I always seem to find myself humming…

Something’s coming/
I don’t know what it is/
But it is/
Gonna be good.

How many millions of girls, young and old, have stood in front of a mirror singing:

I feel pretty/
Or so pretty/
I fell pretty and witty and bright.
And I pity/
Any girl who isn’t me tonight.

And how could you not tap your toe, shake your shoulders, and get your groove on when the Puerto Rican gang and their girlfriends gather on the rooftop at the dance to musically debate the benefits of living in the U.S.? The colors, the swishing skirts, the men in tight pants! Relive the thrill by clicking here to see Rita Moreno lead the fun in a rousing rendition of “America”.

I’m going to skip over the sad parts, because I think the ending is truly gut wrenching. Let’s just remember the pleasure of it. Play the songs in your head and tell me… what’s your favorite? Sing it for me!

Jet Song
Something’s Coming
I feel Pretty
One Hand, One Heart
Gee, Officer Krupke


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

From me, to you

It's Wednesday. Often known as "Over the Hump Day". By about 3 p.m. this afternoon hardworking folks across the planet will be itching for the weekend. While I can't make time move any faster, I thought maybe a chuckle or two would make Hump Day a little brighter.

Below I have posted photos of Hollywood types in a series called:

What celebrities would look like if they were regular people.

Gwyneth Paltrow

Leonardo DiCaprio

Nicole Kidman

Jon Travolta

Gwen Steffani

Johnny Depp

Pamela Sue Anderson

See! Now don't you feel much better? Who's your favorite?


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The truth be told

Your votes have been cast and it’s time to reveal how badly I lied and which silly incident really did happen in my life. (Spoiler Alert: If you’re just logging on, please see previous post before reading further.)

1. This is a half truth – which, of course, makes it a lie. I did work with film crews at Sea World. The Captain Kangaroo Show did indeed film on location there for a couple of weeks. And even though the Captain was a bit of a pistol, he did NOT make untoward advances while I was working in his trailer.

Personally I thought the part about fending him off “with a ball point pen” was quite creative. Thanks to Distracted by Shiny Objects for choosing this one because, she said,…. “who would make this up?” I take that as a compliment.

2. Sadly, this is also a half truth. Yes, George was in town for a couple months filming “Up in the Air”. (Watch for it later this year.) It took everything I had not to stalk him. He did frequent a certain pub. I was never there and therefore could not have been rewarded with a Limoncello from him. Sigh.

3. And by process of elimination, that makes this one – the story about the icky hickey – the truth. Good news is I got the job….and got rid of the boyfriend. That swap worked out in my favor.

Thank you all for playing along. I’d love to hear your truths and lies. I’ll be watching for your stories.

Photo credits: George Clooney on location in St. Louis. Captain Kangaroo in a network publicity shot. Sorry, no photo of the hickey is available for viewing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Two lies and a truth

Recently I was tagged by the lovely Kathleen at Easy for me to say. Her zany meme is called “Two Truths and a Lie.” The idea is to list three things that “supposedly” have happened in your life: two of them truthful, one of them not. Then lucky readers get to join in the fun by guessing which is which. Sorry, no prizes are given. Just the honor of being really smart and somewhat psychic.

Unfortunately I could not recall two interesting truths that were worth writing about. Keep in mind Kathleen was a reporter and she hung above a Nuclear Power Plant and interviewed hoodlums. All my truthful memories were either salacious or silly.

So I took the liberty of changing it to “Two lies and a truth.” I guess I’m better at making up wacky stuff than living it.

Here are your choices:

1. When I worked at Sea World I was in charge of coordinating film crews at the park. For two weeks, the gang from Captain Kangaroo shots several episodes on location. One day when taking supplies to the trailer of the Captain, his libido was running amok and he made an icky pass at me. I fended him off with a ball point pen.

2. For the past two months George Clooney has been in St. Louis shooting his next film, “Up in the Air.” Don’t want to say I stalked him, but I did happen to wander in to the pub where he was rumored to hang out. Mr. C was on premise. I offered up the most obscure Clooney trivia and he rewarded me with a shot of Limoncello. Alas, he did NOT make a pass at me.

3. Several years ago I had a big job interview coming up. The night before my bozo boyfriend got ridiculously frisky and his hormonal mojo resulted in a love bite on the neck. I had to go to the interview with a sophomoric hickey in sight. Scarves were not in style at the time.

Well, those are sordid episodes from my life. Or are they? Truth or lie?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Glorioso formaggio!

Say cheese! Or in this instance…formaggio. Il meraviglioso mondo dei formaggi (the wonderful world of cheese). Could there be any better way to welcome Mellow Yellow Monday than with a big hunk of parmigiana reggiano?

I think four of the saddest words are: “I don’t do dairy.”

This abundanza display of cheese is from the legendary Volpi market. In St. Louis there is a venerable Italian district known as “The Hill”. Charming, parochial, historic, this neat-as-a-pin neighborhood of shotgun houses and adorned Madonna statues thrives as a throw-back in time that’s steeped in heritage.

Let’s take a walking tour.

The reigning merchant triumvirate consists of Volpi’s, the salumeria, Viviano’s, the general market, and Missouri Bakery, the celebrated shop for sweets. Mixed among them are sandwich shops, elegant restaurants, sidewalk cafes, bocce courts, the local catholic parish, bars, ball parks and the best coffee roaster in St. Louis.

Volpi is America’s oldest manufacturer of authentic Italian meat products that have been hand-crafted for three generations by accomplished salumieri. Exclusive family recipes, spice combinations and curing methods have brought Volpi global success. Mmmm, I love their pancetta.

Viviano’s food and wine market is always a beehive of activity. On any given Saturday it’s not unusual to stand in line at the meat/cheese counter for over an hour waiting to place your order. Here is their bill of fare.

This aisle in Viviano’s is fully stocked with imported tomato products, and fancy pastes like anchovy and black olive. They have amazingly affordable prices on olive oil and vino!

The sugared almonds provide a spot of color. These bring back such great memories from my childhood when I felt so grown up eating them. I loved sucking off the sugar and biting into the crunchy nuts.

The Missouri Bakery draws people from miles away. Their Italian bread flies off the shelves and their famous cookies are sold by the pound. My favorite treats are the custard filled cream puffs and the old fashioned peanut roll.

One of the many, many Madonna statues that are found in almost every yard on The Hill. This one is a wee bit more glitzy than most. At Christmas they have a neighborhood display of nativity scenes along with some really sparkly holiday decorations.

If you’re parched after this tour, you can head over to Rigazzi’s for a frosted fish bowl of beer, or maybe to Milo’s to “drink the wall” and play some bocce. Ciao. Enjoy your week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bacon: The love story continues

A few months back I researched and wrote a post about the fascination with bacon in the blogosphere. Ever since then, it seems like everywhere I turn, the bacon phenom is running amok. Is it just me or is everyone – blogger or not-- suddenly coming out of the pantry and professing their love for fatty fried pork?

Recently I read a review for a new book entitled: Bacon – A Love Story. Don’t run out to buy it though. Below is an excerpt from the review.

“…Probably like many of you, I am fortunate to know some really fantastic writers; I find it disheartening that it’s so difficult for them to get published and find a wide audience. After reading Heather Lauer’s ode to bacon, I am intellectually offended that my friends remain in obscurity while this drivel is given a major platform. Do no contribute to the dumbing down of America; do not read this book.”

- Dennis Lowery, Sauce Magazine

The two bacon fusion foods that I see a lot are Chocolate Bacon and Bacon liquor. So I did a little more research and am happy to present these recipes to satisfy the porky palate.

Chocolate Bacon Bark
• 12 ounces good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
• 7 large strips of bacon, fried until crispy
1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with aluminum foil and set aside for now.
2. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in one-minute increments until melted, stirring after every minute to prevent overheating.
3. While the chocolate is melting, chop the bacon strips into small bits. Set aside approximately one-third of the bacon to be used to top the bark.
4. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, stir in the remaining two-thirds of the chopped bacon, and stir until the bacon bits are well-incorporated.
5. Pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, and with an offset spatula or a knife, spread it into a thin layer about 1/4” high. While the chocolate is still wet, sprinkle the top evenly with the reserved chopped bacon and press down gently to adhere it to the surface.
6. Refrigerate the bacon bark to set the chocolate, about 30 minutes. Once set, break it into small uneven pieces by hand, and serve immediately. Chocolate Bacon Bark can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Bacon Bourbon
750 ml bottle of good bourbon
3-4 strips of bacon

Cook bacon and keep a fluid ounce or so of the rendered fat, letting it cool but not solidify. (Eat the bacon.) Pour the fat and bourbon into a glass jar and let it sit for a few hours.

Put greasy jar of bourbon in the freezer overnight. The next day, skim the congealed fat off the top. If you’d like, you can also pour through a coffee filter.

If the food gods are with you, the bourbon will now taste and smell distinctively like bacon.

Drink it neat, or make an Old Fashioned with this recipe.

Bacony Good Old Fashioned
2 oz bacon bourbon
1/4 oz maple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir with ice and pour into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a twist of orange. Enjoy.

Please, if anyone tries any of these (or has already tried them), let me know the results. I merely pulled them from the Web and cannot attest to their worthiness for satisfying pork lovers.

If you want to see where my journey began, you can find it under Will blog for bacon.

Photo credit for Chocolate Bacon Bark: E. LaBau

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Don’t worry…be happy

Hello. It’s Monday. Let’s all be mellow as we greet the new week. Hopefully one of the following “silly-isms” will bring a grin to your face, maybe a chuckle, maybe a groan.

- Save the whales. Collect the whole set.
- On the other hand, you have different fingers.
- I just got lost in thought. It was unfamiliar territory.
- 42.7 percent of all statistics are made up on the spot.
- I feel like I'm diagonally parked in a parallel universe.
- I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be without sponges.
- Honk if you love peace and quiet.
- Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains.
- He who laughs last thinks slowest.
- I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol.
- I intend to live forever - so far so good.
- Borrow money from a pessimist - they don't expect it back.
- If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
- Support bacteria - they're the only culture some people have.
- A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
- Change is inevitable except from vending machines.
- Get a new car for your spouse - it'll be a great trade!
- Plan to be spontaneous - tomorrow.
- Always try to be modest and be proud of it!
- The hardness of butter is directly proportional to the softness of the bread.

Check out other contributions to Mellow Yellow Monday.

Illustration (above) by Mary Engelbreit, who I am proud to say lives here in the flatlands.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Late night love

“If eyes are the window to your soul, then how come it hurts when I spray them with Windex?”

- Stephen Colbert

Geez, I just love Stephen Colbert. In the opening montage of his show when he does the little turn, points his finger at the camera and looks ME right in the eye, I get all tingly inside.

Oh, Stephen, with razor wit
For hours I could sit
And watch you mock the world.
You slice
You dice
Everyone else is second rate
To the smarts you impart with style.
With a twinkle in your eye
Smiling, rakish yet sly
Nothing is untouchable.
With raised brow
And pencil jab
An innocence exudes.
Build them up
Then rip them down
No mercy for the dude….
or dudess.
At 10 PM C.S.T.
The hour that you come to me
I feel my heart expand with fondness sure.
Oh my heart, be still I beg
I cannot help but wonder what his legs
Look like in shorts.

Last night Stephen Colbert challenged Richard Branson to a duel. Stay tuned.

The truthiness will set you free!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Thanks for the memory

While I never really followed the career of Dom Deluise, I do have a fond memory of him because his chubby face was engraved in my brain during a wretched experience.

When I was twenty I had my tonsils taken out. Now if you think it’s a rotten procedure for a kid to go through, try having the surgery as an adult. Yowza. That whole play-up about eating all the ice cream you want is a bonafide myth. The thick stuff just would not go down my swollen, raw throat.

Where Dom comes in is that my doctor looked just like him.

The morning of my operation a nice nurse gave me one of those “twilight” shots. No, nothing to do with teen vampires, but rather a sweet drug that put me into a lovely, mellow state of mind.

Then I was loaded onto a gurney and rolled down many long hallways toward the operating room. Lying on your back, staring up at the ceiling lights is a most interesting sensation when you’re loopy on drugs. I remember saying a couple of things to the nurses that brought shocked looks and a stern “Shhhh.”

In the O.R. with a strange bustling going on, Dr. Dom leaned over me and smiled that silly Dom smile. Like watching a bad Ed Wood film on acid, his large floating head was both a horror and a giggle at the same time.

Dr Dom: “Say good night”

Pyzahn: “But I’m not sleepy.”

Dr. Dom: “Say good night..and then count backward from ten.”

Pyzahn: “Okay, but I’m not sleepy. Ten, ni…..z-z-z-z.”

Next thing I know I was in a semi-conscious state, with a fiery throat and thinking, “Ah, they won’t do the surgery if I’m sick.” My eyes opened. I was back in the hospital room and my Mom was looking worriedly at me.

After a few minutes of disorientation, I croaked out: “I gotta pee.” Still pumped from the drugs and before my Mom could stop me, I jumped out of bed. I made it a few steps before I collapsed against the wall and slid to the floor as Mom struggled to keep me upright.

You know, when you faint, you really do see stars. Just like in the cartoons. I went down in a wondrous celestial blaze.

It was a protracted recovery, more miserable than the strep throats that often plagued me. I had nightmares that included projectile vomiting. I was pitiful and felt sorry for myself.

If it hadn’t been for Dom Deluise and the vision of his large head looming over me, this sad tale would have no humor element whatsoever.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A walk in the park

It was a glorious day in the flatlands. The weather has been so dismal recently that waking up to sun streaming through the windows is an instant happiness maker.

Thrilled with the sunshine, I decided to treat my younger dog, Nelson, to a walk in the park. The older dog is going very slow these days and when I walk them together I know it’s frustrating for Nels to just poke along.

Turns out, though, the walk was a wonderful jaunt for me as well. I live only about a mile from Forest Park – one of the largest urban green spaces in the world. Sadly – and shame on me -- I don’t often take advantage of the proximity.

The park is amazing, so I’ve decided to do a little tourism show and tell, sharing a tiny slice of my city. St. Louis gets a bad rap for being a ho hum, blue collar town and in actuality it is a relatively wealthy, cultural hub. Someday I will do a pictorial on our neighborhoods to showcase the diversity, architecture and grandeur.

The photo above is a shot of one leg of the Lagoon. It’s a charming, small lake that is bounded by the Art Museum, the Muny Opera, the Spanish Pavilion, and the History Museum. On a warm day you can find large turtles sunning themselves on the rock wall, egrets swooping in for a fish, or happy adventurers gliding by in a paddle boat.

A few years back when I was taking a quiet stroll along the edge of the Lagoon, I looked across the water to see a young woman boldly photographing a man who was stark naked, standing tall with legs spread and arms in the air while wearing a really bad black fright wig. Interesting. And you thought St. Louis was a prudish town.

This is the Spanish Pavilion, one of the last remaining structures from the 1904 World’s Fair. Just recently the fountain was restructured to the elegant, pristine design you see here. It’s perfect in it’s simplicity to complement the intricate architecture of the pavilion.

Behold the Great Basin. This waterway sits at the foot of the magnificent Art Museum. The slope that rises up to the museum is known as Art Hill and it sees a lot of sledding action in the winter. In the fall, at the base of the hill, with the basin in the background, the world renowned St. Louis Symphony plays a free concert under the stars. It’s always a crisp, magical evening that finishes with a blaze of fireworks.

I don’t think it’s hard to figure out who this is. He exhausted himself and depleted his fluid reserve by raising a leg on every shrub and stump in the park.

My photos don’t really do the park justice. The sun was so bright it has washed out much of the color and my cheapy digital camera wasn’t designed for beauty shots. You can, though, get an idea of why I’m thrilled to be so close to this wonderful place.

That concludes the slide show portion of this posting.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Something to consider

This contribution to Mellow Yellow Monday is not as lighthearted as past posts, but considering the current hubbub about swine flu, it is time appropriate.

What you are seeing in the photo is the image from a thermal scanner. This one was set up in the airport in Indonesia to screen travelers for body heat – which translates to having a temperature. There was not an accompanying article, but I’m assuming if you were radiating heat, you would be detained or confined or whisked away.

I’m happy to relay information from an editorial that appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Instead of jumping on the media fear frenzy, the article took a step back with a different approach. Here are the highlights:

“Frightening though the risk may be, it’s also important to keep the numbers in perspective. Consider these risks…”

Annual seasonal flu deaths in the U.S.: 36,000
Shark attacks in U.S. waters (2008): 59
Annual deaths from food-borne illness: 5,000
Accidental poisoning deaths (2004): 23,618
Estimated deaths from being uninsured (2006): 22,000 to 27,000
Diabetes deaths (2004): 73,138
Heart disease deaths (2004): 652,486
Annual tobacco-related deaths U.S.: 438,000
Motor vehicle accident deaths (2004): 43,667

It’s a wacky world we live in. Be safe. Stay healthy.

Photo credit: Bay Ismoyo/Getty