Category Archives: Evangelical Christianity

LIVE! From Washington DC….

Okay, not really LIVE from DC, I actually started writing this on the plane home to Kansas City.  The original plan was to do daily updates like I did in Maryland, but believe it or not I was having such a good time that the most I could muster was checking my email every day.  It must be shocking for most of you to hear that I had such a wonderful trip, considering the trepidation with which I concluded my last post.  Long story short, the only reason I went to DC was because of a stalker.  I thought that only aging actresses who wanted to breathe some life into their sagging careers got stalkers, but I was wrong.  I tried to ignore this stalker, but she had dug up some dirt on me that I thought was long dead AND she threatened to murder my family unless I met up with her in DC.  I caught onto the fact that she was a C.H.U.D. pretty quickly, so of course I feared for my safety once I arrived……but not as much as I feared for my family.  I am rarely without at least two firearms on my person, so I knew that barring a sneak attack I could put four or five hydrashocks in that C.H.U.D. cranium if things got out of hand. And it’s not like I’m killing a PERSON, I’m just killing a filthy goddamn C.H.U.D…..but anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself here.  There were several hours of hell ahead of me before I met the C.H.U.D. for the first time…..I just wanted to let you know why I was even in that city.

 

I’m just going to put this out there……….I hate children.  To put a finer point on it…..I hate YOUR children.  As far as I’m concerned, they should be relegated to “Children Only” water fountains and more importantly……airplanes, until they are at least ten or twelve.  Now that I think of it, airports too.  And if we cannot segregate the little fuckers, then at the very least each of them should be equipped with a dilaudid drip straight into their carotid arteries, and at the other end of that drip should be one of us childless people who suffer through the little fucks on every airplane ride we take.  The kid starts getting loud….warning shot of dilaudid…..they keep it up, boom….enough to guarantee they are junkies by the age of twelve.   The little fucker keeps it up?  Well, I’ll just say this….if I had MY WAY you’d be wishing you went ahead and suffocated the little shit a la that chick from Quigley Down Under when the Dingoes were coming instead of having to listen to me yell “clickety clickety CLACK!” as I administered a lethal dose of juice.  Seriously……they shoot horses don’t they?

 

Call it karma, poetic justice, whatever you will…..but you child loving assholes will get a kick out of the next part of my trip.  After I landed and got to the luxurious Club Quarters on I Street to desk check my bags, I had a couple of hours to kill before I could get into my room.   I kid you not, the DC Metro is just about the greatest thing in the history of transportation, and Club Quarters is literally ten feet away from the Farragut West Station, so I headed on down to the Smithsonian area.  After all, it was a Thursday around lunchtime…how hideous could the crowds be?  Well, apparently after Memorial Day, every fucking day is like a bad Vietnam flashback in the tourist corridors of DC.  Sure, I’m a tourist, but I’m not one of those all up in your face, invading your personal space, bumping into you and blocking every lane of traffic with my mongoloid antics kind of tourist.  I blend in.  And needless to say I was a unique and precious snowflake when I got to the Smithsonian buildings.  Honestly, museums are one of my favorite things on earth.  I LOVE museums, I even took a class on museums as an undergrad so that I could appreciate and critique them.  But I’m telling you, tourist season in DC takes the piss right out of anything approaching enjoyment.  When I literally loathe the Natural History Museum to the point where I can only stomach ten minutes of it, something is wrong.  People shoulder to shoulder, three deep at every exhibit, jockeying for space to snap a photo of the goddamn Hope Diamond.  Children running and screaming like a Special Olympics version of Lord of the Flies.  I just kept wanting to scream “This ain’t Ellis Island, motherfuckers!  Go back HOME!”.  Please DO NOT think I am joking after I say what I am about to say…….I have never been more serious.  You know how at Disney there will be one day of the year that is chosen to be “Gay Day”?  Well, I wish that all of the museums in Washington DC would sponsor a “Sex Offender Day”.  That way I’d know what day is safe from the screaming throngs of waterheads.  I know.  I know exactly what I am saying.  I would LITERALLY rather be shoulder to shoulder with convicted sex offenders than your children.  I mean, they’re not going to molest ME, I’m almost forty.  In fact, the next time I buy a house I’m going on the sex offender registry and buying whatever is smack dab in the middle of the highest concentration of what we refer to as “touchers”. 

 

So I bailed. Back on the Metro to the hotel, cruising the neighborhood looking for a decent wine store and places for carryout.  I will say that the eccentric street folks could use work.  Compared to NYC, they wouldn’t even register. Like the black guy on the corner of 17th and I, lying in front of the bus stop doing crunches and screaming “Oh don’t go near him! He’s black!  Stay away from him!”.  Come on fella, you can do better than that. There was a lot of decent stuff in the neighborhood, to be completely honest. Tons of delis, various ethnic eateries, nice little parks…but before I allow myself to relax and tell you about the wonderful stuff, I’m going to go off on one more tangent about…… the “DC Douchebags”.  Apparently, everyone knows about these guys. Seriously, every bartender we talked to was like “oh yeah, those guys…..welcome to DC”.  You’ll know exactly who I’m talking about as soon as I describe the 5:01pm uniform……mediocre loafers, crumpled slacks, long sleeves rolled to the elbow, top button undone with the very unflattering tie loosened “just so”. And if you have any doubts about their douchebag pedigree……as soon as they speak you will know……”OH YEAH, WELL CLARK OVER HERE, CLARK WAS JUST BRUTAL TO THAT BITCH IN COURT TODAY!  HOLY FUCK!  I WAS LIKE, CLARK, EASE UP ON THAT STUPID BITCH!  WHAT A BITCH!  BUT CLARK! CLARK IS THE MAN! HE BRUTALIZED HER ‘TIL SHE WAS LOOKING LIKE A WIFE WHO JUST WON’T LISTEN!”.  Yay, being a lawyer in Washington DC…..there’s an accomplishment.  We were staying in the middle of douchebag ground zero, not far from the White House…..which I guess stands to reason considering the current administration.  DC Douchebags do not possess “indoor” voices, which is apparently caused by the fact that they constantly try to talk over one another when discussing their superior skillsets.  And when you are unlucky enough to be seated near them in a bar, it’s quite a show.  Every-single-time I was within earshot of one of them, they ALWAYS asked for some kind of gin or rum nobody has ever heard of, but they had it on a trip or a cruise……and as whatever piece of shit Jimmy Buffett fratboy anthem comes flooding back into their memory they manage to wax poetic about this magical elixir while at the same time berating the bartender for not stocking it.  I did not realize the movie “The Boys from Brazil” was a fucking documentary.

 

 

So there is my venting for the trip…..I basically hate everyone, and I am very, very comfortable with that fact.  But now I’m done with that and will get on with the fun stuff.  I finally checked into my room around 2pm on Thursday, and soon after that……..I met the C.H.U.D.  I think she was trying a sneak-attack by getting to the hotel about 2 hours earlier than I expected, but I was prepared for the worst case scenario.  If you’ve seen the Rammstein video for “Du Hast”, I was EXACTLY like the guy who walks into the barn with his hand behind his back, clutching his pistol.  For someone with no formal military training, my reflexes are pretty sharp.  As soon as I heard the key-card in the door, my hand was at the small of my back and I had the hammer back on my .45.  Any trouble, and there would be two to the chest and one in the brain; special forces style.  After about a minute or so I discerned that I was in no immediate danger.  How can I really fault someone for being obsessed enough with ME to threaten physical violence if they can’t have some of THIS?  I’m actually shocked it doesn’t happen more often.  So for a filthy C.H.U.D. she was very sweet, and we settled in for what would end up being a wonderful weekend.  On Thursday we just spent some time getting acquainted, explored the neighborhood, and had a tasty Peruvian meal at a little place called El Chalan.  Mixed seafood ceviche, and a Peruvian version of a knish: stuffed and deep fried mashed potatoes….how can you go wrong with that?

 

Friday ended up being one of the greatest days ever.  We started off by grabbing breakfast around the corner at Park Place Gourmet……eating bagels and drinking coffee and Red Bull in the park across the street.  Speaking of Park Place Gourmet, I actually saw Scrapple in person for the first time in my life on their breakfast bar.  I was intrigued by it, and also by the chipped beef in gravy which I’d never seen before either.  They were both calling out to me, and I talked about them quite a bit throughout the weekend…….but I knew, I just KNEW deep down that if there were ever foods that were the poster children for Dumping Syndrome, these were the ones.  As sexy as suffering from crippling nausea while dry heaving and spraying the bowl may be……I had to pass.  But it was not easy.

 

 

The statue in Farragut Park, our main breakfast hangout next to the hotel.

 

After breakfast we decided to take a stroll down by the White House to see what was going on.  It was a beautiful day, and it was only about two blocks away. 

 

Here is a gratuitous shot of the White House, complete with non-Mexican gardener working out front. Way to be edgy, Dubya!

 

 

Me and the C.H.U.D.  And yes, my shirt IS the ugliest one on the planet.  But it’s one of the only short sleeved shirts I have that fits now, so piss off.

 

If this isn’t an advertisement for forced sterilization, then I don’t know what is.

 

Running a very close second to the uber-male DC Douchebags are the ever present Segway Douchebags.  They are everywhere, and yes, they tend to live in clusters. 

 

 

We must have spent at least an hour just sitting on a park bench checking out the different protesters camped in front of Dubya’s Mongoloid Hostel.  Entertainment at its finest, and damn fine people if you ask me.  These are the “24 Hour Protest People”. 

 

 

We named this fellow “Box Head”.  Box Head is probably one of the coolest people ever, unless it’s really just Dick Cheney in disguise, out having some fun.  I think you will agree that the subtlety and simplicity of Box Head’s ensemble is what really drives his point home.  He left after a while, and I’m pretty sure it was because he was being upstaged by this NEXT guy…..

 

 

I don’t think anyone can come up with an argument to convince me that this is NOT one of the greatest people to have ever lived.  We were so impressed we couldn’t even come up with a name for him….so he’s just the God of Death.  The God of Death not only has an incredibly well thought-out apocalyptic diatribe that serves as the basis for his beliefs, he puts his heart and soul into his display. It is a multimedia experience, complete with smoke effects, tons of music (Devil Went Down to Georgia, for instance), literature, an interactive wheel of apocalyptic scenarios…….the dude has got it going on. He knows how to draw a crowd and keep them fixated on his genius.

 

When the crowds and school groups got to be too much, we strolled down the street and happened upon what would end up being our only “real” museum experience of the trip.  The Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery of American Art is right across the street from the White House, and for whatever reason we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves.  When I say “real” museum experience, I just mean that you are able to peruse the displays in relative peace, whispering back and forth to one another….instead of being jostled by throngs of tourists.  The Renwick is a beautiful building, and I took a few pictures of pieces of art that I wish I could have in my house. 

 

 

Creepiest kid ever, with an amazing 3D effect.  Way scarier than the movie “The Ring”.

 

 

This is a “Shaker Television”.  Get it?

 

 

 

The sheer size of this piece is what makes it so incredible.  Sixteen artists worked to create every individual piece of glass on the tablescape, which is inspired by those ornate 18th century paintings featuring huge feasts.  It’s hard to see, but all of the major food groups are represented in glass. 

 

 

 

This ceramic bunny from hell is simply titled “i am no one”.  I’m just assuming I’m not the only person who would love to have this in a corner of their dining room. 

 

 

So after the Renwick we strolled around for a while before heading back to the hotel to shower and get dressed for the rest of Friday’s adventure.  For whatever reason, I got it into my head that we should visit the Holocaust Museum right before it was time to head over to minibar.  I guess it just had something to do with the extreme contrast between what was arguably the most hideous event in all of human history juxtaposed against a dining experience that is arguably one of the greatest in the world.

 

Uh-huh. You know what I’LL never forget that I saw?  The sheer number of human bodies packed into the museum…to the point where it was literally impossible to take in any portion of the exhibit.  Tickets to the main exhibition are free, but they pass them out and time entries to avoid too many people being in there at once.  If the number of people they let in at one time is intentional, then I’d hate to see what a free-for-all would look like.  Honestly, even with my museum-critic glasses on, it was hard to find fault with the layout and design of the Holocaust Museum.  It may very well be the best executed exhibit I have ever seen.  Being assigned an “identity” of a holocaust victim upon entry is effective….basically you get an ID card and read more and more about the person as you walk through.  Then at the end you find out if you lived or died.  I died.  The C.H.U.D. lived.  Such irony.  Sadly, there were just too many people crammed in there to do it justice and give it the proper respect it deserved.  Constantly having to fight your way past strollers precludes you from immersing yourself in the experience.

 

 

And then it was on to minibar.  I won’t go into great detail here because I’ll do a whole separate post on the experience, but it truly was one of the top two dining experiences of my life (the other being at Manresa in Los Gatos, CA).  Two hours, 31 courses…..it will be etched in my memory forever.

 

Me and the C.H.U.D. enjoying a pre-dinner drink……they do mix a fine cocktail down at the bar at Cafe Atlantico.  And I have to say the bartenders earn their money….I’ve never seen an entire bus tub full of limes in the prep area of a bar before, but when you see them muddle every mojito by hand you understand the sheer scope of their lime usage. 

 

 

On Saturday we kind of took it easy, heading down to Chinatown for lunch at New Big Wong.  Not just a great name, but it was one of the only places in Chinatown that was recommended by DC food folks.  I have to say that the Mongolian Beef we shared was by far the best I’ve ever had.  I don’t put a lot of stock in “American” Chinese food, and never have high hopes, but this stuff was incredible.  Melt in your mouth tender.  After lunch we ran through a torrential downpour to the theatre right down the street. The original plan was to see Sex and the City, but all shows were sold out, so we went with The Strangers.  Not a bad movie, it’s a very good concept, there’s just no way to get past how stupid white people in horror movies can be.  “Okay, I know we should stay in this closet with this loaded shotgun…..but I’m going to run out the barn for a bit”. 

 

After the movie the weather was still kind of spotty, so we decided to find a nice bar and hole up for a while.  The area around Chinatown and the Verizon Center is not exactly the place to find a nice hole in the wall….it’s more of a place to get awesome blossoms and riblets at any one of the megachain Applebee’s/Ruby Tuesday establishments on that street.  As luck would have it, we found “Rocket Bar”.  Now, I have no idea what this place is like when it’s hopping….it could be wall to wall peckerheads for all I know. However, at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon you pretty much have the place to yourself.  Greatest jukebox ever…..all digital/touch screen and I think it’s loaded via satellite so you can literally find any song by any band that has ever put out an album.  Not only the greatest jukebox, but also the greatest bartender……..our new best friend forever Rodney.  Rodney has great stories, he pours a very, VERY healthy bourbon and coke, knows what you’re talking about when you mention DC Douchebags (but he calls them DoucheNozzles, which is even worse), and he isn’t shy about skipping through the song selections of the emo-freaks at the pool table as soon as you give him the nod.  If you are dumb enough to think a song like “Lightning Crashes” is appropriate listening in a bar where I’m drinking bourbon, then you deserve to lose that dollar so I can hear whatever Social D we’ve got queued up behind it.  The C.H.U.D. and I really saw eye to eye with all of this.  All Emo fuckers should die.  It was also at Rocket Bar that I came up with one of the best ideas I’ve ever had……you remember the movie Memento, where the guy had no short term memory and had to either write stuff down or tattoo it on his arm?  Well, if I lived in DC that’s what I’d do for when I was too drunk and needed to remember what Metro Lines went where.  All down the inside of my forearm I’d have things like “Red Line Originates in Shady Grove, transfer to the Yellow Line at Metro Center”.  Rodney really put a hurtin’ on me with their rail bourbon, and at one point I told the C.H.U.D. she needed to stop drinking so that one of us could get us around safely.  Honestly, she couldn’t have been a better travel companion, I really lucked out as far as stalkers go.  Funny, great conversationalist, puts up with the kind of humor I can’t even post on HERE, very sweet……..but when it came down to it I had to know….when the shit hits the fan, can this C.H.U.D. get us home alive?  And by shit hitting the fan, I just mean me getting pretty drunk.  Well, somehow she got us all the way back from Rocket Bar to the hotel where we showered and put on some party clothes so that we could keep things rolling.  So we went on down to the local watering hole….The Bottom Line, on the next block across from our hotel.  Since it was the weekend there weren’t any DC Douchebags in there, but you know what?  The bartender finished my thought for me as soon as I even started a conversation about them.  She was pretty cool, and after a couple of Knob Creek Manhattans I decided it was time to leave and give the C.H.U.D. the final shit-hitting-the-fan test.  Some people will view this as a symptom of excess, especially since I said I was saying goodbye to bourbon (like THAT shit was going to happen), but I view it as progress.  Yes, progress.  When I am comfortable enough with my new body to pull some antics in the park, it is a very positive thing.  Basically, it just consisted of me unbuttoning my shirt and threatening to ask passersby if they “wanted some of THIS”.  Then there was the unbuckling of my pants because I wanted to “feel the wind whistle across my ‘taint”.  Good stuff.  And the C.H.U.D. was very calm and caring with her response.  There were the initial embarassed pleas, the reverse psychology……a battery of things that made her the perfect babysitter and travel companion.  Even when we were back in the room and I kept threatening to go back out to the park and get naked, she hung in there.  A real champ. 

 

 

 

This is probably about ten minutes from the windy ‘taint related antics in the park……

 

 

Well, I could go on for a while about what a great time I had in DC with the C.H.U.D., but this is already about twice as long as my longest post……and I still have to write about minibar.  On Sunday we happened to run into one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met, as we sat in the park. He was 90 years old, served at D-Day, had two uncles in WWI, and was a very well spoken and sharply dressed Dubya-hater.  We enjoyed a long conversation with him, and pretty much just took it easy all day after the marathon bourbon bash the night before.  Since it was our last night in town, we did walk all the way down to the monuments in the evening……so here are some gratuitous shots of THAT….

 

 

A giant Masonic penis….

 

 

 

The WWII memorial……the waters were so inviting, but there signs about every five feet warning you against any monkey business. 

 

Night falls on the giant Masonic penis and its Capitol building gonad…..

 

I know I don’t feature it in any of these nighttime shots, but even at 9 or 10pm you are not safe from the throngs of people getting off of tour buses. In fact, the tour guides each have their own uniquely lit baton or crazy lighted glasses frames so that their people can find them.  I know that I’m unrealistic in my expectation to have all of these places to myself, it’s just weird to have SO MANY goddamn people around you at all times. Great monuments though, despite the hordes. 

 

 

No, I didn’t start quoting any Big Lebowski.  But I did think about it.  Out of all of the monuments, the Vietnam Memorial may have been my favorite.  There is something ominous about seeing all of those names.

 

 

So anyway, there you have it.  The DC trip where I met up with the C.H.U.D. stalker.  It went so well that I actually think she’s going to come up to Kansas City next month.  I managed to let my guard down a little bit since she was so nice to me, but you better believe I’ll be packing when she’s here on my home turf this close to my family and friends. 

 

minbar writeup in the next couple of days……..

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Filed under Bariatric Surgery, culture, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, Recovery, Tent Revival, Weight Loss

A Man Of Many Talents…

Yes, I’m more than just someone who can wax poetic about fundamentalists and perform killer weddings…..I am one HELL of a bbq chef.  To be honest, as much as I love to cook (and I generally do an okay job at most things I try), for whatever reason I’m probably the best at my bbq.  Ribs, pork and brisket, to be specific.  Just to clarify something for those of you who may not be from a bbq hub like Kansas City, Memphis or the Carolinas (and I guess I can add Texas, although people who use rotted railroad ties….a.k.a. mesquite wood, don’t really count as bbq’ers), I’m talking about bbq.  Not grilling.  When you have friends over to your house to cook hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and whatnot….you are NOT bbq’ing.  You are grilling.  The two terms are mutually exclusive, so keep that in mind.  And don’t mix that shit up around me.  Or else.  Seriously.  Rule of thumb is this…..did it take you less than two hours to cook it?  Then it’s not bbq.  You can add your little wood chips on top of the charcoal underneath your ribeye all you want, but you’re still just grilling.  Any monkey can do that.  It takes a man of substantial patience and talent to cook a humble pork shoulder low and slow for 14 hours until it transforms into something that would prompt even someone as hardcore as Ingrid Newkirk to drop to her knees and beg for just one precious morsel.  The ribs?  The brisket and its prodigious offspring known as “burnt ends”?  Don’t even get me started….. when it comes to the art of indirect cooking, I am Godzilla and you are Japan. 

In all seriousness, compared to many of the 270+ bbq teams that were assembled at the Great American BBQ contest this weekend…I’m just a backyard hack.  Sure, anything I cook is better than what you’ll find at 99% of the bbq restaurants out there, but that is due in part to the fact that it’s so much easier to babysit 8 slabs of ribs instead of 80 at a time.  As far as the type of cooking that goes on at contests….it’s kind of like if you were a visitor from the moon and you watched two baseball games; one minor league and one major league.  As an alien, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  Likewise, as a non-bbq person, you can probably eat at a restaurant like Famous Dave’s or KC Masterpiece and not realize that what you are eating is the bbq equivalent of vomit.  It takes a pretty decent aficionado to know their place on the food chain….and me and my team captain know our place on the food chain.  We bow to the masters who do 15 or 30 of these contests every year, and are just glad to be a part of the club on weekends like this one.  BBQ contests are a LOT of work, but they are also a LOT of fun.

As a weight loss surgery patient, I approached this year’s contest with dread and loathing.  I can no longer suck down three or four slabs of babybacks and a gallon of bourbon in an evening, so I thought that this weekend would be totally lost on me.  I spent Thursday and Friday of this week all pissed off as I cooked a ton of food for the party that we hosted last night.  BUT, once I got there and got settled in, and the smokers were going, and we met the folks at the spot next to us (a “for real” bbq team) who gave us some great tips throughout the contest prep, I had a ton of fun.  BBQ folks are, in general, very friendly, helpful and down to earth.  So when you get a few thousand of them together in one spot at a meticulously organized event like GAB, you’d have to be a sociopath not to have fun.  Plus, there are fireworks!  Sure, on Saturday night I had maybe two ribs, a couple of slices of brisket and two or three bourbon and cokes, but I decided to make the contest all about the craft for me….brainstorming how to make the food better next time, figuring out the equation of the right amount of food to cook for a party, and relishing the fact that my physical stamina for one of these ordeals has increased exponentially since surgery.  When I got home today I didn’t just lie in my bed in my sweaty, smoke-soaked clothing for a couple of hours and weep in crippled agony…I took a shower, got dressed, went out and ran some errands then came back and started a-bloggin’. 

I just want to take a moment to clarify something for any elitists or food snobs who view bbq as something low-brow, pedestrian or common.  Know this…I know food and I know chefs.  Yes, there are many, many people out there who have the means and the obsession to one-up me in many respects when it comes to being a, for lack of a better term, foodie.  I think about food about as often as I think about sex…….how often is that for a guy?  Something like every nine seconds?  I know good food, for-real good food…..and when you talk about the passion and the genius that has driven men like Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria to the summit of the pantheon of culinary cocksmanship in the modern world……I am telling you it is matched by dozens and dozens of the people you will meet at any bbq contest across the country.  Today when we were getting some of our food ready for turn-in, I noticed a woman across from us who had an entire pallet of live parsley plants.  Basically, parsley is a garnish (along with leaf lettuce) that goes into the clamshell under and around your food in order to enhance the appearance of your entry.  Appearance is just one of the things that factor into your overall score, and 99.999% of the people that I know are more than happy just to buy some damn parsley at the store and bring it along.  But not this woman.  She brought live plants….because on some level she was certain that LIVE parsley just looks better than what you buy in the store, and maybe it would enhance the overall appearance on her entries enough to add a fraction of a percent to her overall score.  And that’s how close the scores can be…….the difference between being a ten thousand dollar grand champion and going home with nothing can come down to a fraction of one percent.  So these folks play for keeps.  Weekend to weekend, year to year, it is a combination of art and science……reduce the amount of brown sugar in your pork rub by a couple of teaspoons and try it again next contest, take that one tendon out of the chicken thigh so that when you cook it the skin looks more taught and try it again next contest, modify your smoker so that you can hang your ribs instead of putting them right on the grate and try it again next contest, increase the heat in your smoker by about twenty degrees for the last half hour and try it again next contest, cook FIVE whole briskets in order to get six perfect slices for judging and try it again next contest…….the list, and the obsession, and the dedication, and the madness, is endless.  And no matter how finely they tune their method, they are at the mercy of anonymous judges whose tastes and preferences run the gambit.  Even when they know they have cooked the best food of their lives, they are totally at the mercy of strangers who may unknowingly cut them off at the knees.  Plus, for every contest in which they compete and DON’T win one of the categories…..that is all money out of their pockets….and entry fees, gasoline, and meat are NOT cheap when you are doing a couple dozen of these things every year.  These are real chefs.  Genius artisans, completely lost in the culture.  Spend five minutes with any of the folks who travel the circuit every year, and you will agree.  They love to talk about their craft, and they want to get you hooked enough to compete against them someday.  And you know what?  When you DO compete against them and you run out of an ingredient, or smoke wood, or you need any number of favors from them…..they’re the kind of people who will do anything to help you out. 

So yeah, I thought about saying fuck all of this after this weekend.  And granted, I’ll only be up for one per year….probably this one every Memorial Day weekend, but there’s just no way I can let it go completely, no matter how much I miss the debauchery that was the hallmark of these events for me up until now.  I know we’ll never place very high in any of the meat categories, because although we are passionate about the food that we prepare, we are novices compared to the REAL cooks.  Today when we were joyous about cooking “the best pork butt we have ever done”….we took a taste of our neighbor’s entry and went “well shit”.  They are the Yankees, and we are the Special Olympics.  But they are really, really humble and super cool Yankees who are more than willing to give us advice on how to work our way off of the short bus, so there you go. 

 And now I will share some images of food made by us poor hacks………again, about five times better than what you’ll find at a restaurant, but hack-grub nonetheless…..

 

This is my main side dish entry.  They are stuffed mushrooms. These stuffed mushrooms have enough pork fat to stop your heart.  I am not kidding.  The first year I made them I won second place at the American Royal BBQ, and have been trying to perfect them ever since.  By “perfect them”, I mean find ways to put even more pork fat into them without being TOO obvious.  The filling is cream cheese, crushed bacon, sauteed onions and red bell peppers, fresh cut uncooked corn and various spices.  They are topped with panko bread crumbs and a little bit of rub.  See how cool I am?  You know I’m a bbq person because I’m just GIVING my recipe away……well most of it anyway; these things are all about the technique with which you prepare them. 

 

Beans! Not much to add here, my buddy the team captain (there’s pretty much just two of us on the team, but a third is being groomed because the guy can actually cook) made these, and they are tasty. 

Chicken thighs…..they look pretty great, but realize you are looking at the food of people who will be overjoyed to place in the top 100 overall.  I don’t even try making the chicken, I don’t have the patience.

Ribs were my first real assignment when I joined the team about six or seven years ago.  They have been tweaked over time, but again, it’s total HACK crap!

Pork butt, the king of all bbq foods in my opinion, is another thing I kind of inherited a few years ago, but most of this stuff (except for chicken….I don’t have the patience to mess w/the chicken, and he pretty much runs the brisket) is a collaborative effort between the two of us.  In fact, we did get a BIG compliment from our neighbors today when they told us how efficient we were considering the fact that our operation is so bare bones (a very nice way of saying white trash). 

Brisket is the king of bbq meats to most people, and it used to scare the shit out of me to cook it.  I don’t do the competition briskets, but I am now able to blow your mind with this very tough and unforgiving piece of meat.  A ten pound whole brisket is cooked in order to get just these six passable slices….

So anyway, there’s my weekend so far.  More than anything I just wanted to pop in here and prove to myself that on the day of a goddamn bbq contest I could manage to do something more productive than lie in bed in a fetal position praying for the sweet release of death.  I’m not going to go and mow the yard now or any crazy shit like that, but if you’ve seen me at contests in the past, you know it is basically a miracle for me to be this lucid after a huge competition. 

I will probably pop in again Thursday or Friday.  I have a trip to DC coming up that I’ve been dreading for a little while now.  More on that later.  As highly evolved as I think I’ve become, I somehow manage to get suckered/blackmailed into drama that drags me across the country….folks, what I’m telling you is this: the sins of your past WILL eventually catch up with you.  Just pray that in your case it won’t involve very misguided stalkers and uncomfortable secrets you cannot let come to light.  I know, I know, I’m the ex-pastor porno dealer who could give less of a shit about who knows what about me……..so by saying that you must realize how serious this situation is.  And if you DON’T hear from me ever again, this has all been pretty fun.  Thanks for doing me the honor of reading my ramblings…….

*************UPDATE- CONTEST RESULTS******************

YES!  Just as I suspected……we SUCK!  As I said before, all of our food tasted great and would have been well received by most laypeople, but when it comes to the rigors of competition we just need to stay in it for the sheer joy of the event.

For the meat categories, we did not do very well.  Our measure of “success” is if we rank in the upper 50% of all competitors, and we only did that in one category.  Out of a total of 225 teams, brisket was 219th, chicken was 158th, pork was 112th and ribs came in at 99th.  Overall we ranked 181st place.  Not terrible for ribs and pork, we all thought the chicken would do a LOT better than it did, and we knew the brisket would be in a fight for the basement. 

For the sides categories, we did a LOT better.  Generally, half as many people who turn in meat categories participate in sides, but even with that in mind we did a good job.  Potatoes came in 55th, beans came in 23rd and my insane stuffed mushrooms came in at 13th……three spots away from some money and a ribbon.  Overall we ranked 28th place for sides.  Not too shabby, it definitely takes the sting out of our performance in the meat categories.  We’ll be back next year! 

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50th Post!

With all of the craziness lately, I think it is fitting to settle down for a relaxing and healthy weekend with one of those gratuitous milestone posts…..here’s NUMBER FIFTY! 

My liver is fully functioning again, my right thumb is almost back to 100%, and this is the first (and last) truly “free weekend” that I’ve had for a while.  You know, I realize it might look like I am into some pretty crazy shit, and I guess I am, BUT deep down I’m just an old suburban midwestern guy.  I’m almost 39 years old, and as it is appropriate for my age, during the spring I look forward to nothing more than getting up early on Saturday and heading to the farmer’s market.  Though it is small, I am very, VERY loyal to our local Parkville Market.  I will on occasion venture down to the River Market or out to Brookside, but I’d much rather give my money to our twenty wonderful farmers and vendors. 

Due to my own laziness and busy schedule, this morning was my first visit to the market this season.  Granted, there isn’t a ton of stuff available right now……spring onions, mixed greens, asparagus, herbs for planting, etc.  But that’s beside the point, there isn’t anything as nice as getting down there around 7am on a sunny Saturday morning and just smelling that spring air, no matter how plentiful the bounty.  Of course, this is also my first trip since surgery…..so I didn’t let myself go crazy.  There’s nothing worse than letting farm fresh veggies wither and die in the fridge.  I did pick up some rosemary and summer savory plants for growing, as well as some mixed greens, gorgeous baby arugula, and some stunning morel mushrooms.  Sure, they are an extravagant expense, but what the hell, I mean just LOOK at these things….

 

I realize that what I need now is at least a day just to relax, detox, and have some nice healthy food.  It’s very easy to slip into that trap where you get into the convenient slider foods because you are busy, and because sometimes you STILL lose weight despite eating them, but I’m not crazy…..I know that the only way to sustain my success and remain healthy enough to have the occasional weekend that rivals ancient Rome is to treat my body right the rest of the time.  So with that in mind I think I’m going to get some light yardwork done, watch a ton of HowardTV, and make a great salad that I can eat for the next couple of days.

I’ve got the mixed greens which I will supplement with the arugula……and for the dressing I’m going to modify a Giada (aka Skull Baby) recipe by starting with some good fruity olive oil, fry big hunks of the spring onions in it, then add halved garlic cloves along with whole stems of rosemary and savory (so that I can remove them).  Once I remove the garlic and herbs, and the onions are good and soft, in goes a handful of chopped fresh parsley and thyme, along with a little fresh lemon juice.  Off the heat, a little balsamic, some salt and pepper, fried garlic hunks go back in……and it’s ready for the greens.  For the protein I’ll add some sauteed bay scallops that were on sale, and a side of glorious and indescribable sauteed morels.  Not a bad Saturday afternoon and evening. 

Christ I’m boring today.  That’s okay I guess, but there has to be more…… oh yeah, this week I’ve been obsessed with a couple of phrases.  I do that from time to time and I wear them out to the point where my friends just go “stop”.  The first one is “sex crazed and retard strong”; I’ve been using that to describe myself a lot.  And the second is calling someone a “baby gorilla”.  Long story involving a torture contest on Stern with guys getting waxed and Don Rickles in the movie “Dirty Work”…..I won’t get into it.  It’s a beautiful spring day in Kansas City today, and I’m having a tough time cranking up the angst and irony machines…..so I’ll stick with the mundane.  After all, it’s my 50th post I’m sure I can think of several things I have learned since surgery….

First of all, surgery has reversed my lactose intolerance.  I’m sure the nutritionists would not like me using milk (whole milk from Shatto Farms!) as a source of some protein and delicious beverage, but now that I don’t have to run to the bathroom after drinking it….. I love the stuff.  You know what else I drink that I’m not supposed to?  Orange juice!  Yes, I drink whole milk and I drink orange juice….I’m officially out of the closet with that.  No clue what would reverse the lactose intolerance, but the funny thing is, a friend of one of my professors had gastric bypass and BECAME lactose intolerant for the first time after she had surgery.  It’s bizarro bowel syndrome! 

I don’t feel too bad about enjoying delicious, whole milk after finding out the other day that I can no longer eat one of the most important basic food groups…………bacon.  How fucking cruel is that?  Well, I CAN eat it (just like I can obviously still drink bourbon…at weddings), and I can see where it could become the KING of all slider foods, but I had a couple of pieces the other day….I think for the first time since surgery, honestly.  I’ve had chopped bacon on salads, but not whole pieces.  After two pieces, the telltale signs began….slight sweat, nausea……not close to full-blown dumping syndrome with the dry heaves or anything, but an effective behavior modification measure nonetheless.  I just cannot eat extremely rich or fatty foods in anything close to a full portion without serious physical consequences.  I guess that is a good thing, it’s just so goddamn cruel.  I mean, bacon.  Come the fuck ON!  Too much sugar or too much fat equals some mental reinforcement that approaches the Ludovico Technique from A Clockwork Orange.  Before long I’ll be at a restaurant, a waitress will ask if I’d like a side of bacon with my omelette, and I’ll shit my pants and start crying. 

I can go through my daily liquid intake a lot easier than I thought I would be able to.  I can’t CHUG anything, but if I’m thirsty or have a strong taste for some Crystal Lite that day, I can put it away.  At first I thought I’d have to take one sip, wait five minutes, take another sip, wait another five minutes, etc.  It’s not that way at all.  I can sip pretty steadily.  No complaints there. 

I’m sure I could dissect the minutia of daily life and come up with a list of things that are either annoying or great about post-surgery life.  The whole story at this point is that I have absolutely zero regrets (other than when some fast food commercial comes on TV and I go….OH SHIT!  WHY DIDN’T I GORGE ON THAT BEFORE I HAD SURGERY!  GODDAMMIT!), and everything that was positive in my life has become more positive.  I am actually at a place now where the first thing on my mind when I interact with people ISN’T my weight, and I can come across as unbearably engaging and chatty…which is just my style.  I have that certain…I don’t know what.  Sure, I’m well past the halfway mark, but I do have more weight to lose.  It will come off, just not as quickly.  There are little reminders and reinforcers along the way that let you know you are on the right track. For example, a couple of weeks ago when I went to buy slacks for the wedding I had to keep trying on smaller and smaller sizes in order to get it right.  Then when I found a cool camp shirt that I wanted to buy, and they didn’t have a small enough size in stock for me (smallest they had was a 2X…and it wrapped around my stomach), that was a pretty good moment that I had to gloat about to the clerk.  Another twenty or thirty pounds and I’ll be shopping at “normal” stores….sure, I’ll be buying their biggest sizes, but anything is better than your run of the mill big and tall selection.  Now that school is almost over for real (3 more Tuesday night class periods), I’ll get back into golf, and I’ll have a much larger range of motion and the stamina to play a couple of rounds if I want to.  When I fly to DC in 2 weeks, Nashville in July and Chicago in September, I won’t have the usual two weeks of dread beforehand, thinking about the size of coach airline seats.

When you drop about 135 pounds you begin to realize that your weight has not only been a burden your whole life, but also your biggest crutch.  It is the excuse that lets you put limits on everything that you say and do.  Now that I’m beginning to get past a lot of that, I realize how much free time it brings, and how wonderful AND frightening that really is.  Carrying that much weight around is like having a big filter on you at all times.  Now, for better or worse, I can start seeing possibilities that I haven’t seen before, and interact with people without constantly trying to make up for the fact that I’m really fat.  I’m still a big guy, that is true, but now I’m not always thinking “okay, I’m the fattest guy in this room, class, department, building, city”…..ad nauseum.  There is the tendency to regret not doing the surgery ten years ago, but I honestly don’t think I was at a mental place to handle it then.  I’m almost forty, I’ve lost a lot of years due to the weight, but this was exactly the right age to do this, so again, no regrets.

And I guess since this is the gratuitous milestone post I need to throw the gratuitious “before and after” in here.  Did my best with my remedial photoshop skills, and I wish it looked more dramatic than it does, but you get the general idea…..

 

So there you have it…..nine months down, many years to go.  Overall, I feel like a pretty lucky guy.  Lucky to have missed out on any serious health issues before my surgery, lucky to have the cog in the machine job that I do, and lucky to have such great family and friends.  More good stuff to come here….we’re doing a big bbq contest next weekend, I’m heading to DC a week from this coming Thursday, Nashville in July for a wine event that makes the list of “Top Ten Charity Events in the United States”……so barring homelessness due to unemployment in these uncertain times, things should be okay for a while.

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Best. Saturday. Ever.

So I wake up Sunday morning and realize that all of the lights are still on in the house, my dog has managed to get into the dogfood bin, has crapped on the carpet, and there are three very large rocks in my front yard that were not there yesterday…..and is my thumb actually broken or just sprained really, really badly?

I guess all of those things are the price that you pay for enjoying one of the best days of your entire life.  Seriously, I’ve had some great days because, well, I rule, but I’m going back in the memory bank and outside of my trip to NYC with my brother in 1989 and standing in my bathroom in 1995, staring in the mirror going “okay, she’s out there in my bed, does this mean we’re going to have sex?”……I can’t think of anything that tops Saturday.  It literally would not have shocked me in the slightest if one of the founders of our country stepped out of a time machine, walked up to me and said, “Jerry, on behalf of a grateful nation, I now present you with my daughter’s vagina”.  It was THAT great of a day.  Seriously.

So Saturday couldn’t have happened without Friday, and on Friday we had the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  A fine time was had by all.  There was great food, because apparently the groom’s mom is some kind of culinary genius, and plenty to drink….but I knew I had a huge day ahead of me and managed to only have a couple of margaritas before going home to get some beauty sleep.  The main reason I bring up Friday is because that is when shit became very real to me. Things started to get very real once I started writing up the ceremony verbiage, but on Friday night when I was up on the roof of the downtown library with the wedding party, I started getting pretty nervous about the whole thing….and then on Saturday night it was like watching yourself in a movie or something, I don’t think I breathed once during the whole ceremony.  I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself here, I mean I SHOULD discuss my graduation, but I’m telling you….I was a little freaked out.  I’ve known Heather for a long, long time.  I was good friends with her brother in high school, and she was very close to my brother as well.  A lot of people who knew Matt were there, and to honor him and bring him into the ceremony I wore his International Thespian Society pin on my lapel.  So there we all were, good friends assembled to celebrate the coolest of cool couples with a good old fashioned drunkfest………and I had just graduated a few hours before, so more about that…..

The one thing about grad school that makes it different from undergrad is that you actually care about the people in your program.  At least that’s the way it is in a small department like our organizational development crew. So it was great to see everyone in their robes, and it felt wonderful scoff the undergrads and feel superior to them. 

Me, my friend Rene and my parents…….

I know last week I mentioned that the post-ceremony meal wasn’t going to be that big of a deal.  Boy, was I wrong.  So where does a man who has eaten at some of the finest restaurants in the United States go to celebrate such a huge achievement?

That’s right! Red Lobster, motherfuckers!  I’m going to steal a phrase from my old friend Dave Chappelle when he was disussing fried chicken and watermelon onstage……there’s nothing wrong with me man, if you don’t like Red Lobster, then there is something wrong with YOU!  That shit is delicious!  Popcorn skrimps are fucking awesome! 

I obviously can’t eat a whole meal, so here is a little before and after action to show you how much skrimp action I could handle…..

 

And onto the wedding…….

The weather did not cooperate, so we had to bring the show inside, but in my opinion it really didn’t impact anything, everything went beautifully.  Graduation went a little longer than anticipated, so I literally had about thirty minutes to get cleaned up, get my things gathered and put on the wedding duds. My handlers showed up to pick me up, and we had a celebratory taste of some wine that a stalker sent me as a graduation gift.  Now, the first thing I did once I woke up yesterday was get my handler on the phone to confirm whether or not I did anything TOO fucked up……and according to him I was just fine, no need for damage control. But then a little while ago I got an email mentioning something about me doing some kind of impromptu drunk serenading……I do not recall that happening, but I don’t think someone would just make that up to mess with me.  I did have music and lyrics for ‘Con Te Partiro’ in my possession, so I’m guessing I busted that out when we were all leaving.   So anyway, I guess I didn’t do anything TOO stupid…..at least not at the wedding site.

When I arrived, an angel of mercy named Dan handed me a full flask of bourbon.  I would end up needing that bourbon because I was pretty nervous.  The location for the service went back and forth a couple of times due to the rain stopping and starting, so I had to get re-wired for sound about ten times and figure out how to mute both of the lapel mics so nobody could hear me joking around with the groom as we waited for the wedding party to march.  Okay, speaking of joking around, I have an issue with some of you people……..especially Phil (the male maid of honor).  During practice the night before, he corrected (thankfully) my pronunciation of the word “solace”…..I was saying it like “soulless”…..so that was supposed to be one of the queues for us to crack up a little bit during the service.  I had been asking folks in the wedding party if anyone was afraid that they would totally lose their shit in the middle of the ceremony, so the “solace” thing was going to be something that could shut off the tears if need be.  Hell, even I was afraid of losing it…..and there were about three times when it almost happened.  When you have a nervous, shaking bride standing in front of you, and it happens to be one of your oldest friends, it has an emotional impact that I really can’t describe.  And then when the groom starts to crack a little bit when he’s reading his vows…….I was REALLY counting on Phil to take advantage of the whole “solace” thing, but every time I looked over at him he was a fucking statue!  You left me hanging you sonofabitch!  But all was well afterwards when Phil and I went straight from the ceremony to the men’s room and killed my entire flask in about thirteen seconds.  The service went well.  It went REALLY well.  And it went much faster than I thought it would……totally flew by. I think the only thing I screwed up was the timing of the two poems…..I forgot to have the child poem right after addressing the bride and groom and had to put it right before the other poem later on.  Not a huge deal, I think we were all so freaked out that it just didn’t matter.  It was one of the most surreal moments of my life…..like watching myself in a movie or something.  Damn I needed that drink afterwards…….and I had that drink.  Oh yes.  There was drinking.

   First thing we saw while walking into the library…..love this picture.

  Yep, me makey boom boom in my pants about now…..

Aaannnd actual ceremony shots……..how cool is this?

 

Heather, I know that people always tell brides and new mothers that they or their child are “the most beautiful ever”, but you were absolutely stunning last night, and I can’t wait to see more pictures of your dress.  People, I am telling you……most beautiful wedding dress, EVER.  Damian, I apologize for not screaming “IT’S ALL FOR YOU DAMIAN!” during the ceremony……but there’s something about locking eyes with the mother of the bride and knowing instinctively that your death would not be quick and it would not be painless.  Thanks again for letting me be a part of your big day……we really tore it up!

Best man on the left, maid of honor on the right……..Maddie tore through a for-real potent little bomb of a Cuban cigar that I gave her….very impressive.  Phil, I wish your sorry ass wasn’t all the way down in Texas, we’d be extremely bad influences on one another.  Someday I’ll forgive you for the whole “solace” debacle….

It was the greatest honor to be part of a wedding party that included none other than Mr. Sasha Baron Cohen.  Wow he’s a good kisser!

Rob (picture on the left) is the aforementioned brother of the bride, and a really great friend from high school.  I lived with him and Scott (other picture) during the summer of 1992, and a lot of interesting things happened.  In fact, that was the summer before I left for Bible college in Minneapolis, and I’m pretty sure the summer in Lawrence was the beginning of the end of my Christian faith.  Good times.  Very, very good times.

 

Ah yes, my wonderful handlers for the evening. They were so cool about coming to pick me up early so that I could go face-down if I wanted to…..and I wanted to…but no driving of course.  Damn I have hot friends.

 ………………………..This is where things start getting a little hazy……don’t remember most of these pictures being taken…….but there are some fucking good ones…..you can tell how drunk I am by the level of expressiveness on my face.  Believe it or not, I’m not a very smiley guy, so when you see THIS grinning sonofabitch, you know liquor is involved……

   I think this is vodka……I don’t really remember, but it ain’t water. 

   And away it goes……

    The train from Scirossis Hollow is heading right for us! 

   And there’s more where THAT came from, Jim!  Damn that’s one gay punch….

   Damian, did you ever think you’d be the meat in a Phil and Cooper sandwich?

  Ryan, thanks again for babysitting me.  And yes, what happens at the downtown airport stays at the downtown airport.

   I think this is what I’d call a blank stare of drunken insanity.

   Shit. Faced. 

   You know, I’m not kidding at all here, I think I look really good in this photo.  And I am not someone who ever says something like that. Ever.  Seriously, I’m all looking off to the side like I’m on a page in Details or something.  Damn I’m fine.  Oh, and Jennifer too.  Sorry kid, there’s just no competing with the force of a supernova of hotness like me. 

Okay, apologies to the wonderful bridesmaids……the number of photos I took with you had to get old. I think I’m only posting about ten percent of them.  Or maybe it wasn’t me at all.  Who in the hell took all of these pictures?  Was it you, Phil?  Nice work.  Coolest bridesmaids ever.

 

Okay, this is not only my favorite photo of my entire life, I think it is cool enough to be historically significant.  It’s better than that picture of that Vietnamese soldier blowing that guy’s brains out.  It’s even better than that picture of mini- John Kennedy saluting at his dad’s funeral.  Seriously, there’s no beating vagina mouth and moon-faced drunk guy.  I’m getting a tattoo of this.

    What can I say?  Chicks dig drunk ministers! I think you may be able to tell I’ve been drinking in this one……

    Yes, nicotine IS important enough to brave hurricane force winds…

So anyway, best Saturday ever.  You have my permission to envy me.  And if you don’t already, then I’ll let you in on a little secret……somehow in the middle of all of this I managed to drop seven pounds.  I know, crazy!  As I said before, apparently I started singing at some point.  I just hope it wasn’t too horrible.  Different events are coming back to me……like the fact that every-single-time I went up to the bar, I’d go “and make it a little heavy”.  That had to get annoying, because the bartenders were practically relatives by the time it was all over….they had my drink assembled before I even came up to the bar.   After we left I guess Ryan and I went to the downtown airport to look out over the city, and we stole some huge rocks for me to put in my front yard.  That’s the crazy part…..the rocks are really big, and you have to go up this huge, steep hill to even get to them.  So….four rocks, four trips up and down the hill….maybe that’s where the weight loss came in.  No way I would do that shit sober. And I’m guessing that’s where the nearly broken thumb happened….I think I remember falling on my ass one time, and apparently used my thumb to break the fall.  At some point, an airport security truck came to see what in the hell we were up to…..and according to Ryan he was just wanting to drive off as the guy approached. But NOT ME!  Oh no, I guess I was like “I’ll go talk to this guy”…..and I did.  I must have been pretty friendly, all drunk and dressed up, because we didn’t wake up in their holding cell or anything. 

When I’m drunk I tend to repeat myself. A lot.  That is why I planned ahead and made sure a good friend like Ryan would be babysitting me.  We’d really have to do something incredibly stupid or dangerous to piss each other off when only one of us is completely shitfaced, but I know it can’t be too fun dealing with me when I’m in “constant repeat” mode.  This is all according to Ryan, but we ended up at a Waffle House, and my topics of choice were threefold….First, I wouldn’t shut up about the fact that I thought I may have lost my camera.  I didn’t.  It was just out in the car.  Second, I think I must have asked him about five hundred times where we were.  I knew we were at the Waffle House, but I didn’t know what part of town.  So I kept asking, and when he’d tell me I was just as surprised to hear it every single time.  Lastly, “the bartenders” conversation.  After the ceremony, the two female bartenders were really, really nice to me.  So nice that I apparently kept asking Ryan all night long….”are they hitting on me, just fucking with me, or sucking up to the officiant?”.  Sadly, my self esteem hasn’t caught up with my weight loss, so when someone is flirting with me my first instinct is to think “okay, THEY’RE FUCKING WITH ME!”.  So Ryan had to keep saying, “Dude, they were hitting on you.  I’m telling you……they were HITTING ON YOU! NOT fucking with you”.  I guess my performance during the ceremony was quite impressive, what can I say?

Anyway, I’ll put some more pictures in here as I receive them.  I just wanted to give everyone the lowdown on what really was one of the biggest Saturdays of my life.  To the wedding party, I will say…..it was an honor and a privilege to spend the evening with you.  Seriously, I think we hit that fucker out of the park.  And Heather and Damian, congratulations again…..I love you guys, and look forward to many evenings at the Stagecoach. 

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All You Can Eat…

So the day of all days is getting close…..I graduate with my Master of Science in Organizational Psychology Saturday morning and officiate a wedding Saturday night.   Wedding rehearsal is tomorrow night, so I’ve got a lot of crap to get done between now and then.  Last night I started thinking about how I looked at big events prior to surgery…..they were always an excuse to pig out due to the pre-event stress, as well as an excuse to enjoy post-event celebratory pigging out.  The whole dynamic of my graduation is different simply due to the fact that my family would normally take me to some great restaurant afterwards, and it’s really not that big of a deal for me now.  We’ll still go to dinner and all that, since I don’t have to be at the wedding until about 4:30, but for once I don’t really care where we go and haven’t done my usual mental gymnastics figuring out where to eat. 

I know that many people, not just WLS folks, can relate to the rationalization that goes along with eating way too much food.  For the past week or so I’ve been trying to remember exactly how much food I used to be able to eat at one sitting.  A year ago I would have been mortified if I was forced to admit how much I could pack away…it’s like a giant skeleton in the closet.  Even though you obviously have to take in an incredible amount of calories every day to sustain such a high weight, I think most people would agree that there is the amount of food you eat in front of people and the amount you eat in private.  It’s totally like being an alcoholic or a junkie; it’s no secret that you have a problem but you keep the worst of the abuse behind closed doors.  Most people in the U.S. probably don’t even know what a real portion of food looks like, and so they tend to take in way more calories than they need on any given day…..I mean hell, even some of the Starbucks drinks have as many as seven or eight hundred calories, and everyone has seen the lists of “worst foods” that mention things like the Outback Steakhouse cheese fries at something like 4,000 calories per order.  Unless you closely monitor what you eat, and realize that a frozen Healthy Choice meal really is about the correct “portion” for you, it’s easy to go overboard.  But that’s not really what I’m talking about here…..what I’m talking about is being able to eat A LOT of food.

So what constitutes “a lot”?  It varies from person to person, but as I think back on what it meant to me prior to surgery, I remember some impressive quantities of crap food.  When you are going to consume gargantuan portions, unless you are just beyond the embarassment of camping out at a buffet all of the time (or you are rich), you end up eating a lot of cheap/greasy fast food or comfort foods.  I generally wouldn’t be patient enough to cook a ton of food, just because I knew it would be gone so quickly.  Instead I would hit places like McDonald’s, Sonic, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, or get some shitty takeout Chinese.  Even then, when you can drop fifteen or eighteen bucks at McDonald’s, the food budget is out of control.  Don’t misunderstand…I wouldn’t eat like this every day (I’d admit it if I did), but at least several times per week I’d get into pig-out mode and go crazy.  At McDonald’s I’d get something like two Big Mac’s, a double Quarter Pounder with cheese, three large fries and four pies…..sometimes I’d switch it up and get three Filet o’ Fish instead of the Big Mac’s, but the order was generally about that size.  At Sonic it would be similar…two of their double cheeseburgers, a few corn dogs and a couple of large orders of onion rings.  I don’t remember Taco Bell as specifically, but I’d easily go through six or seven of their double decker taco supremes and  several burritos.  Pizza Hut would always be running some kind of deal, so usually on Friday or Saturday night I’d hole up with some kind of large pizza (or 2 mediums), breadsticks, a large order of wings, some of their tater tots, and get through all of that in the course of the evening.  Another weekend evening classic could consist of two full Chinese entrees, a quart of hot and sour soup, and at least two orders of appetizers like crab rangoon, wontons, egg rolls, etc.  We have In-A-Tub tacos here in KC, and they are of the deep fried/neon orange cheese powder variety, and it would be nothing to mow through twelve or fifteen of those.  I’m sure there are people out there who could eat more, but I think by anyone’s standards that is shitload of food to put away and only count as 1, maybe 2, meals for any given day.  Then of course there’s the whole “I didn’t really eat any breakfast or very much for lunch” rationale that gives you license to go wild on some bad food. 

I guess there are still brief moments when I mourn the fact that I just can’t go crazy once in a while.  It doesn’t happen very often, but of ALL of the foods I used to eat sometimes I just wish I could mow through a massive cheeseburger as quickly as possible.  I’m still an obsessed foodie to some degree, I’ve just channeled that energy into other ventures, such as the following…

I’ve been lucky to have some truly great meals in my life.  The amount of money I’d drop at restaurants during a trip to New York or the Bay area IS too embarassing to admit here.  Babbo, Gramercy Tavern, Town, WD-50, Chez Panisse, Danko, Manresa……..I’ve had some good meals.  It used to be that whenever I’d travel to a major city, I’d do a couple of months worth of research to not only figure out where to eat, but exactly what I should order when I’m there.  I don’t really do that anymore.  I’ll find ONE restaurant that I think I can still enjoy, and plan on spending huge amounts on tiny portions of food.  That’s exactly what I did in DC a couple of months ago when I went to Cafe Atlantico.

Well, Cafe Atlantico has a restaurant WITHIN the restaurant called minibar, and the focus is molecular gastronomy, similar to places like WD-50, Alinea and El Bulli.  You pay big money for a few bites of very adventurous food.  It’s a tough reservation to get, definitely one of the toughest in the United States.  Other than Rao’s in NYC, where you literally cannot get a seat unless you “own” one of the few tables, there is no “impossible” reservation, no matter what stories you hear about places like The French Laundry.  You just have to be patient, which is the case with minibar.  They only have six seats, two seatings per night, so that does make it a bit tougher.  Well, I’m going to DC at the end of this month and last week i managed to score two seats at minibar on a Friday night (you call one month in advance at 10am and pray).  I won’t go into the actual menu, but I will say that this meal will probably be at the very top of my “best ever” list.  If you want to check out someone’s recent visit with pictures, this person has a pretty fantastic writeup…. http://www.eatfoo.com/archives/2008/04/minibar_washington_dc.php.

Admittedly, I spend way more time and money on nice meals than most people, but I like to think I have a pretty good attitude about the whole thing.  I’m just about as happy people watching in a Mexican dive restaurant in Riverside as I am eating foie gras at one of our top-tier establishments.  Good food is good food, and great atmosphere makes up for mediocre food most of the time.  What really cracks me up is how SERIOUSLY so many people either take themselves, or dissecting the minutia of every fucking meal they ever eat.  At most of the nicer joints I’ve visited, there are two noticeable (but not all-encompassing) contingents……the crazed foodies/food tourists like me, and the society types who eat there because they are “supposed to”.  The latter of the two groups provides some wonderful entertainment.  If you picture the oaf husband in the movie “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover”…..that’s kind of what I’m talking about.  People with the means to be absolute pricks in a restaurant; the regulars who the chef dreads and the waitstaff mocks behind their backs, but they spend a lot of money….and deep down they are total hillbillies who are one chromosome above eating soup from their cupped hands. 

I was mowing the lawn the other night, thinking about those very hillbillies and how much fun it would be to dine with them at minibar.  I was wondering how they picture these fine dining establishments in their minds, because although minibar is super casual for such a popular place, even the fanciest, snootiest restaurants in the U.S. aren’t THAT fancy OR snooty.  So anyway, I had this crazy scenario in my mind where we’d walk into minibar and they’d announce us like one of those old school debutante balls or something.  Before we were seated next to the hillbillies, the captain would say “An now presenting Mr. Frampton Felcher, and Ms. Camilla Pussytoes”…because those are the names we’d have on the reservations.  So “Frampton and Camilla” would sit down and we’d properly introduce ourselves to the other four diners, all the while I’d be giving off one of those very superior, snotty looks down my nose to everyone…kind of like the look you get from a retarded kid when you sneak up from behind and scare the shit out of them.  THAT would let them all know I was the alpha male, aka “Mr. Society”. 

Of course, I’d get through half of the first of many bottles of wine and begin going on incessantly about how I was taking advantage of my early retirement to write screenplays, but it wasn’t going so well….”And I was ninety nine percent done with my most recent screenplay, which I was calling ‘The Darjeeling UNLimited’, and wouldn’t you know it?  That fucking HACK Wes Anderson up and puts out that piece of SHIT movie of HIS!”

And of course I couldn’t let them go without hearing about the premise of the film…..”I’ve been too pissed off to even WATCH Anderson’s movie, but I know it’s about brothers on a train.  That’s what makes this all so unbearable….I KNOW that fuck must have heard what I was doing, because MY movie was about brothers too.  It was a lot like ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’, but instead of Asian sisters it was three gay American brothers who drank tea together all the time.  Then one of them joins the army and ships off to Iraq…….money in the box office BANK with all of that patriotism shit in there, and the guy couldn’t get good tea over in Iraq so his brothers would send it to him and they’d promise to all drink it at the same time every day even though they weren’t together!  It’s totally AMERICAN, unlike that other piece of SHIT!  I’m telling you, I think that’s why that bastard stole my idea…….Hollywood commie bullshit!  You can’t even say anyting good about this country to ANYBODY anymore! Don’t go and try to make something patriotic THESE DAYS!  They’ll FUCK YOU!”.

And before long I’d loudly admit to my love that the failure of my film really was causing financial strain….”Oh Camilla!  I’m just so worried that if I don’t put something together soon we’ll lose our summer trailer down at the Lake of the Ozarks!”.

So there you have it…..how Mr. Society alienates DC’s power elite with tales of the Darjeeling UNLimited.  As god is my witness, if I end up dining with some stiffs, I’m going to make this a reality.

Damn, I really do have to go and get some stuff done.  The next time you hear from my I’ll be a genuine gradge-ee-ate, and hopefully will not have alienated my good friends by fucking up their wedding too horribly.

 

 

 

 

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Bonus Post!

Okay, this is just some self-indulgent crap, but is everyone familiar with those ANNOYING goddamn yogurt commercials with the two women (one of whom looks strangely cartoonish with her elfin hair) who sit there going “this is (something something something) good” and then the other one goes “oh, this is (something SOMETHING) good”?  I’ve always hated those commercials, and thought they were a thing of the past…..and then a few weeks ago I started noticing them again.  I’ve had this running joke for years, and it goes something like this (I’ll keep adding to it as I think of random inappropriate scenarios)…….and by all means, feel free to add along in the comments…..

“OH!  This is burning this bridesmaid dress good!”

“It’s girls-only weekend in Vegas good!”

“THIS yogurt is ‘the holocaust was a lie’ good!”

“It’s daddy-drank good!”

“Exactly!  It’s looking down into the cistern and seeing a child’s eyes staring back at you good!”

“It’s finding a sale on quicklime good!”

“You know what? It’s champagne enema good!”

“WELL I THINK it’s cranberry juice wiping out your UTI after a weekend of unprotected monkey sex good!”

“It’s farting in the elevator right before you walk out of it good!”

“It’s lying about your father molesting you to get even with him for grounding you good!”

“YES!  And it’s laughing in your ex’s face for ending up with a woman with cankles good!”

“It’s smuggling white slaves into the country in shipping containers to fund your drug habit good!”

“It’s easy on your weakened tweaker-teeth good!”

“Whee!  It’s taking a dump in the changing room good!”

“POST-DEFECATION EUPHORIA GOOD!”

“It’s good old fashioned hate crime good!”

“It’s finding that girl who bought the swimsuit you wanted and burning that bitch’s face with ACID good!”

“It’s boning your husband’s amputee brother good!”

“It’s meddling with your grandmother’s medication so that she ends up in a home good!”

“Tell me about it!  It’s pushing a retarded kid into your rose bushes and pretending to rescue him good!”

“Tainted hamburger good!”

“Sneezing in your family’s pot of chili good!”

“Funding the Taliban good!”

“Strangling an old person ’till you smell poo good!”

“EEEEE! YES!  Driving while you do whippits good!”

“Running over construction workers in a reduced speed workzone good!”

“Leaving empty plastic dry cleaning bags all over the playground good!”

 “Poisoning homeless people at the soup kitchen good!”

“YES!  Hitting a cyclist with your car door good!”

“Lying about being pregnant so that YOU get to choose where to vacation good!”

 “OH!  Dipping your baby nephew’s teething ring in chipotle powder good!”

To be continued…….

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1, Bariatric Surgery, Blogroll, Christianity, culture, dating, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, Recovery, religion, Tent Revival, Weight Loss, weight loss surgery

Goodbye to “The Bears”…and to Bourbon

No, not THOSE Bears….I hate football.  I’m talking about a very specific group of gay men that somehow stayed under my radar until about 1999 or 2000.  First, I guess I should assume that someone will read this who has no idea what in the hell I’m talking about…so I’ll tell you about my “ah-ha!” moment in order to break it down for you.

It wasn’t until I moved to Minneapolis to attend Bible College that I experienced a town where “out” homosexuals could (to some degree) avoid the awkwardness associated with being gay in the midwest.  I know that is a broad statement, I’m just saying that Minneapolis was pretty gay-friendly when I lived there compared to Kansas City.  Up to that point I was a midwestern white kid who went straight from being a heavy metal and weed aficionado in high school, to a drunken college student in a GPA challenged fraternity, to a knee-jerk fundamentalist minister.  I knew gays were out there, but I didn’t know any.  Well, if you spend about five minutes in Minneapolis you are going to experience the culture, and in hindsight I thank God for that awkward experience.  Long story short, your fundamentalist worldview is turned upside down when you make friends with homosexuals and have to realize “hey, they’re people”….I know that sounds trite, but that’s the process.  The second big revelation is “so you mean that every gay man doesn’t look at every straight guy and want to convert/have sex with him?”.  I realize that does not sound like rocket science…unless you grew up in Kansas getting worked into a tizzy in church and called it speaking in tongues.  So when I left Minneapolis to come back to Kansas City I thought I was pretty fucking enlightened.  What I didn’t realize was how narrow my view of the gay community really was….I was still under the assumption that gay men either WERE or LOOKING FOR those guys I’d see strolling down Hennepin on Friday nights in their muscle shirts, Daisy Duke cut-off jeans, white socks and Doc Marten boots (in below zero weather).  Gay guys were looking for Ricky Martin……

Boy was I wrong.  Flash forward to the late 90’s when I’m working a “normal” IT job, and my co-worker is a scruffy, bearded, flannel and blue jean wearing gay man.  Something did not compute. I figured he was just all nerdy and backwards, with no hope of scoring big at the bars downtown where all of the flamboyant and lithe gays held court.  And as you can imagine, it took me WAY longer than normal to put two and two together.  Things never got strange between us, we worked together every day, travelled together for business, went to lunch a lot…..and I never really got why he was so fascinated with the fact that I could grow a beard so quickly.  In fact, he was complimentary of me in general, which I just took as him being “girly” since gay men were looking for Ricky Martin, not an overweight bearded fellow like me.  And I figured that his grizzly bear screen saver, brown bear dream catcher, and all of the bear related bumper stickers on his truck just meant he was like Grizzly Adams or something…..a real nature lover.  So one day we stop by his new house during our lunch break so that he can show it off, and I got to meet his significant other.  I would say this guy was around 6′ 3″ and 450lbs with a full beard, etc.  And this was one of those great “ah-HA!” moments that I will remember forever as I stood there thinking….”Ohhhhhh…. BEARS!  They’re BEARS!”.  So then the dynamic between my friend and I changed quite a bit, because of course I was completely fascinated with this subculture, just like my constant fascination with the BDSM community, and he was more than willing to talk about the local Bear clubs, Bear Runs, cub etiquette, etc.  So then a few years later, long after that company folded, I met some new Bears through a friend of mine and I think they were a little shocked at how much I knew about the whole scene.  Some thought I HAD to be gay, maybe some still do…..but in reality I’m just someone that you literally cannot shock, and my attention constantly gravitates towards the most elusive and unknown splinters of society (but of course everything is elusive and unkown to me if it took me that long to figure out the Bears thing).  The fringe is where I exist and am most comfortable.  So this was cool…any group of people who considers ME a piece of ass rules!  And I think Bears are probably the greatest ambassadors for the gay community because I find them to be incredibly down to earth and sincere.  Sure, it’s a little off-putting when you see some gigantic guy just go to pieces over something like a “nelly queer” would do, but who cares?  Bears are a lot of fun, they can drink a lot, they can eat a lot (yeah, I know, I’m generalizing), and there is a lack of pretentiousness that says either chill out and have fun…or get the fuck out.

So I say all of THAT shit to say this……I openly apologize to all of you Bears who have seen me as eye candy until now.  Sure, I’m still a big guy, but I’ve shaved my beard and within the year I may lack the heft and the bulk that it takes to be such a tease.  But I guess if guys like Tom Colicchio can still be considered bearish, then I’ll probably never be skinnier than that.  I’m not arrogant enough to think that all of the bears I have known wanted a piece of THIS, but to those who did I can’t tell you how flattering it was, and how I will miss your lustful admiration going forward.

And now to the second big GOODBYE……. to Bourbon.  First of all, when I refer to “bourbon” I am talking about the “whiskey” from Kentucky.  There are few things in this world that will prompt me to punch someone in the throat…the first biggie is if you’re talking to me on the phone and you are eating.  That literally sends me into a rage. The second big one is whenever people refer to liquors like Jack Daniels or Crown Royal as bourbon.  They’re not from Kentucky, so besides the fact that they taste like shit, they can’t be bourbon.  I don’t know why it bothers me so much when people mistakenly refer to drinks from Tennessee or Canada as bourbon…but it does.  So if you call me up and you’re smacking away at a plate of food as you tell me tales of what a great deal you just got on a case of Crown Royal bourbon, be prepared for the wrath.  The last thing to go through your mind will be “how in the HELL did he #1- get me on the ground that fast, and #2- actually get me to open my mouth and bite the curb?”. 

My love for bourbon is well chronicled in decades of shenanigans, beginning when I was fifteen or sixteen.  It was all about vomiting up puddles of Ten High or Old Crow at the drive-in…but even back then I could  tell that the cheapo swill we got ahold of had something special about it.  I can’t remember when it evolved into Jim Beam being “quality” bourbon for me….but at a similar price point, Evan Williams won out over Beam.  It tasted better, may have even been cheaper, and I believe it was 90 proof vs. 80.  Never liked Wild Turkey….but then at some point, probably in my mid-20’s I discovered Maker’s Mark, and that was my go-to booze for a long time.  Then it was Knob Creek, which remained as my standard until I had surgery.  I’ve tried them all…..Baker’s is great and overly potent, the high priced Pappy Van Winkle line is quite tasty, but something about Knob Creek just stuck with me.  Great flavor, not too expensive, doesn’t pretend to be all fancy like that annoying and flavorless Woodford Reserve bullshit…just a fine liquor.  Smooth enough to fondle, but harsh enough to respect.

I think of bourbon as an oversexed, buxom, dye-job redhead who is pretty filthy, not overly bright, but very friendly with no real concept of how hot she is.  Her low self esteem and lack of insight make her approachable, because normally you’d be like “oh man, probably not going to get to sleep with her”.  But you DO get to sleep with her!  And it’s awesome!  It’s the kind of sex with that sudden moment of clarity right in the middle where you find yourself going “so this is really happening”.  Of course, as things move along you realize she’ll never belong to any one person, and while she is a very sweet and generous lover, there is a harshness to her fickle nature that forces you to realize the cost associated with allowing yourself to let her into your heart.  Bourbon is a party girl.  And it is not a smart thing to fall in love with a party girl.  But I did spend many a year in the jail of her arms (forgive the Tom Waits ripoff), and there is no way to even BEGIN picking out a couple of classic tales from my repertoire without my mind reeling at the sheer number of bourbon sodden exploits.  I can’t say that I’m PROUD of all of it, but I’m not ashamed either.  Those were some good times, even when they sucked.  Bourbon will get you through times of no women better than women will get you through times of no bourbon. 

But unfortunately, those times are long past and shall not return.  Unless I can treat bourbon good and proper, I can’t go near her at all.  She’s got a demon in her.  One of the best demons ever.   Seriously, I’ve had bathtubs full of everything from Absinthe to Zacapa Centenario and NOTHING else has that little “Yip-EEEEEE!” in it from the very first sip.  I know that when I first wrote “On Drinking” I was coming to terms with the role of liquor in the post-surgery lifestyle, and I guess this is an extension of that.  I still drink wine, but I try not to keep a lot of it in the house because I don’t want to worry about drinking too much if I get bored or something.  To be completely honest, when you can’t get that rush from overeating like you used to, I can totally see alcohol filling that void.  I’m sure many of you know exactly what I mean….food was our heroin, and just because you have surgery doesn’t mean you’ve done a thing to overcome your addictive personality.  It’s kind of funny to think about, but I can see where in today’s corporate culture (for those of us who work from home much of the time) becoming a high-functioning alcoholic could TOTALLY work for you.   I mean, big business in America is very underwhelming as far as the expectations of its employees…being able to write poetry that makes it SOUND like you’re getting a lot done is much more important than actually getting anything done.   The bar is not set very high, so drunken enthusiasm could take you a long way when it comes to being the model “team player”.  I’m not actually suggesting anyone try it, but attitude really is everything, you know I’m right. 

So anyway….the new plumbing does not like bourbon like the old plumbing did.  I guess that’s a good thing because it’s one less vice to worry about.  The few times I’ve tried it in the past couple of months, it just hits my system too quickly and too harshly.  Instead of that giddy “yip-EEEEE!” feeling that I’ve always associated with it, it just gets me buzzed.  Sure, buzzed is good but when it comes to that filthy little whore from Kentucky, I am all about the romance and the foreplay.  And now there is none of that because it rushes into my bloodstream like Gatorade, bypassing all of the cheeky buildup.  So the moral of the story is….unless I can totally ABUSE A SUBSTANCE properly, then it’s best to just let it go and remember it fondly.  I’ll just stick with being one of those wine drinking bitches who gets all pissed because all I can get at whatever dive bar I’m at is wonderful Riunite Lambrusco or some such shit…. on the upside I guess at least I’m in good enough shape now to fight off any ruffians who think they’re going to pull a hate crime on my ass when they shithammer the wine drinking gothic queer….

So anyway, sorry for the delay between posts during the last couple of weeks, and for the less than optimum creativity.  Things are very, very busy, which is good.  I do find that as I lose weight I get more involved in all sorts of things and generally overextend myself.  I just realized today that the wedding ceremony I’m officiating is two weeks away and I have yet to write any of the verbiage for the service….and then there’s graduation (on the same day), a big bbq contest, work, travel with my stalker, Nashville wine auction, birthday, opera, landscaping/herb garden planting, farmer’s markets, homework….my plate is pretty full.  Not to mention I have a couple of potential “legitimate” writing opportunities that I’ll be pursuing.  The good news is that the next couple of months should provide PLENTY of material for the blog. 

Oh yeah, if you get a chance to catch “Kids In The Hall” during their current US tour, I highly recommend it.  I went with a friend of mine the other night, and it was a hell of a show.  Plus, in my latest brush with greatness, Mark McKinney called me a sonofabitch during the encore as he was playing the head crusher.   So there you go, an even more disconnected closing than usual….

 

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Time For Some New Ink…

I don’t really have anything too insightful or angst-ridden to offer this week, I guess I’m in too good of a mood and have been too busy to crank out anything noteworthy.  One thing that has been on my mind a lot this week is my plan to get some sweet new tattoos very soon.  I think that has been a weight loss related goal of mine for at least the past four years, and in order to stay motivated I kept lowering the goal-weight that would trigger the event.  Now that I am safely and consistently down in the high 200’s, and I need the perfect gift for myself to celebrate my grad school graduation next month, the time has come to finish the half-sleeve on my upper left arm.  A good friend of mine recommended a guy to me several years ago that I could trust to “do whatever he wants” around the four tattoos I already have, so I’ll call him for a consultation next week and get this thing rolling.  I know that all-things tattoo have hit a ridiculous point of saturation in the past ten years, and normally that would keep me from doing anything so “common”, but I’ve always had a deep connection with the ritual.  I started getting them when I was 17, and more than twenty years later I still only have five.  So now that I’m pushing 40 I figure…go for it.  I’ll never get so many that I can’t look like a corporate lackey, and no matter how much weight I lose I’m not going to have a body that is shameful to ruin with permanent artwork.  Everyone who goes through the bariatric surgery process probably has some ritual or event they use to celebrate their weight loss at different points along the journey, and this will be what I use to mark the first major milestone.  The second milestone, which will be when I’m at a somewhat optimum weight will be a trip to……………wait for it…………………………………………………wait for it…………..Disney World.  I know, I hate kids and there probably is no place on earth more annoyingly kid-centric than the Magic Kingdom, but I figure as fun as it is to fit into a coach class airline seat now, it will be a hell of a rush to ride all of the rides and see the sites.  So there you have it, tattoos and Disney World.  Welcome to my reality.  I could have thrown a penis piercing in there for shock value, but unless The Gauntlet has a location at Disney World and I can count on the virginal Snow White administering my ampallang as I scream Rammstein lyrics at her, then it just doesn’t interest me enough to go through with it. 

To be honest, the whole tattoo-reward topic started me down memory lane.  I think the last tattoo I got was the Chuck Taylor logo on my ankle, and I was still in ministry when I got that one.  Same story for Hopey and Maggie from Love and Rockets that I have on my upper arm.  I got them kind of around the same time, and it is funny to think of all the history that has passed between then and now.  I get inked when I’m working in ministry, but when I’m a porn mogul……….nada.  Now that I’m losing a lot of weight and have become a corporate drone, it’s time for more tattoos.  I am obviously someone who thrives on extremes, and I find that the connection somewhere between acting too young and acting too old provides the most fertile ground for self-entertainment. 

I’d say that right now, as I’m getting close to 40 as well as being in the best shape in 20 years….the age connection becomes more and more pronounced.  I don’t rebound as quickly as I did in my 20’s, so I won’t be able to tear it up like I did back then, but a specific scenario has kept coming to mind all this week.  I guess it was 1996, the final year of my adult empire, and I was seriously closing down the bars six nights per week.  One night I was heading down to Davey’s for a show, sitting in the back seat of a friend’s car, and as we pulled into the parking lot the DJ came on the radio and announced that they were about to play Social Distortion’s new single “I Was Wrong”.  We all had a connection to that band from back when we were teenagers, so we sat there silently listening to a great song from an even greater album.  These were some very adult, very drunk days in ’96, and don’t let anybody fool you into thinking that there is anything wrong with recreational drug use.  WAY more people die every year from prescription drugs than that third 8-ball in a 24 hour period.  So I guess I remember that particular evening because it represented the crossroads between being too old to act that young, and new music from an old band made us reflect on that paradigm without actually putting it into words.  I look back at those days before I tried to find a real, respectable job as pretty carefree….much in the same way we looked at our Social D loving teenage years as we sat there listening to Mike Ness sing his latest song. 

And now I’m back at that same crossroads…with a real job and real responsibilities, allowing myself to touch bases with that kid again.  Obviously not in the same substance soaked arena of bar bands and crippling hangovers, because I have too much to lose at this point.  Right now it’s about putting as many things onto my plate as I can handle, taking some emotional and mental risks, and being one very cocky and engaging motherfucker.  A great person that I used to know coined the phrase “modesty is for those without talent”, so I’m dusting that off to see where it leads.  And when I’m sitting in the chair and the tattoo gun is tearing up my arm, I’ll be more than happy to play the role of “Mr. Back In The Day” for the tattoo shop youngsters who aren’t old enough to have ever met Kurt Cobain or see The Breakfast Club on the big screen. 

*********************************UPDATE on 4/17/08***********************************

This isn’t worth its own post, so I’m just going to stick it on the end of the most recent one…..

I can’t tell you all how proud I was when I saw that my post titled “Go Chiefs!” was the #2 selection on Google for a couple of weeks whenever someone would type in that phrase.  I noticed it when I looked at my dashboard and realized how many people were coming to MY sports-hating website without realizing what they were getting into.  Well, this week I have to tell you….the HONOR, the PLEASURE of that phenomenon was finally eclipsed once I noticed on my dashboard that “sociological theories on autoerotic asphyxiation” was driving people to my site whenever they typed the phrase into Google.  I don’t know where it stands now in the choices, but for a day or so it was in the Top 8.  It’s those little things that make all of this worthwhile…..I have no idea what kind of people are researching that topic, but I am thankful that it leads them here.   You have a safe refuge here, my friends. Please stay for a while and know that you are among your people…..

Man that is cool.  Seriously, I am a moron when it comes to the world of blogs and what it takes to direct traffic to your site, so that unintential benefit truly made my week. 

What a great day.  I better go now…..I have a leather belt and a shower curtain rod waiting for me……

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Filed under Bariatric Surgery, culture, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, Recovery, Tent Revival, Weight Loss

Holy Erotica…

Even though I have a very public blog, I consider myself a pretty private person.  I post only the details on here that I am comfortable with sharing, adding to and subtracting from reality as I see fit.  When it comes to the weight loss stuff, I’m pretty open and don’t really care who knows what.  And even the private stuff isn’t THAT private….I just tend to forget what I’ve included, and before way more strangers started reading my posts I assumed that it was just my friends stopping by here and that they had no problem piecing together the scattered details of my personal history that pop up from time to time.  Obviously, I have a connection with evangelical culture because I was an AG minister when I was younger.  Less obvious is the porn connection.  Both pieces of my background are absolutely true, and I forget how strange it sounds to people, so I don’t really try explaining it.  I wasn’t all pissed at God one day and decided to go and run a porno store…..it’s way, way more boring than that.  A simple matter of working one job instead of two in order to pay the rent.  So anyway, I’ve got some buddies out east, one of whom has a friend of a friend who writes for a pop culture periodical that will remain nameless until the issue comes out later this summer or whenever (and this isn’t Rolling Stone or anything, I only think it’s cool because the thing is actually in print instead of being an ezine or something).  Bariatric surgery has become as common as lasik these days, and it has hit a point of saturation that makes the entire topic boring as shit to talk about.  THAT is kind of the angle of the spoofy article, and not all of my stuff will be printed, I’m sure.  At least that’s what I was told…it will be like one of those TV interviews on the news where they talk to someone for five minutes and use about fifteen seconds. So although surgery was my initial “in” when it comes to the interview, the thing that is obviously more interesting from a pop culture perspective is the pastor/porn angle.  I have very good friends out on the coast, brothers from different mothers actually, and I tip my hat to them for managing to pull a schtick of this magnitude for my fame and benefit.  Anyway, here are the guts of my wine-soaked chat (re-edited and formatted for fluidity from a .txt file) with a pop-culture reporter whom I would be more than happy to sleep and/or drink with…..

Everyone has a blog and everyone has had bariatric surgery, so is there anything you’d like to address about either of those things before we move on to question number two?

Ummm, not really.  The blog is a tool for me to use up time that would have been spent eating.  I can get weepy or heartfelt here if you want, and take a picture of me in my fat clothes.  Or I can joke about how you know you’re really fat when you take off nearly 130 pounds and still need to lose weight.  Your call though, I was informed that you talked to a couple of my friends so I’m pretty sure I know where this is heading.

So you’re comfortable with all of that, right? 

Yeah, some would say too comfortable.

It’s just a funny combination, not a lot of people have your background.   

True. Nobody else that I’m aware of.  All of the tired Sam Kinison references aside, if there is a group of people with whom I share this bond we should probably make it a point to meet up in Branson every year or something and swap stories.

So for the record, born in Kansas on Independence Day, licensed minister with the Assemblies of God, and general manager of an adult bookstore.

Well, not at the same time.  I wasn’t running a clandestine ministry for perverts or anything. 

But we got the order correct, right?

Yeah, definitely.  First I was born, and after my first year of wild college life I decided to turn things around and go into ministry, did that for several years, went to Bible College where I started having a big problem with the AG, went back to a state school, moved back home after a breakup and shortly after that got a job offer to  manage a store for a company where I worked part-time.

So you didn’t just jump right into porn after quitting the church? 

No, nothing that interesting.  I was working one full time job at a regular video store, and picked up some hours at an adult store right down the street just to make some extra money. Once they saw I could count to ten, didn’t have a drug problem, kept the Friday night gawkers in line, and didn’t let my friends hang out in the store all night, they offered me my own store. 

Okay, so let’s go back to ministry and Bible College.  What prompted your disillusionment with the Assemblies of God and subsequent flight back to a secular school?

Long story, but basically when you grow up believing the most literal translation of the Bible, and you are so convinced that there is no other interpretation, end up alienating everyone who doesn’t think like you do, and then you truly study scripture for the first time…it causes a problem. 

Quite a paradigm shift.

To put it midly. 

But was there any tension with your family as your religious beliefs have changed?

My parents have always been cool, we’re good friends.  My mom grew up in the same church where I worked and my dad started attending when they were married.  Even though THEY were never overly religious, I have a lot of people in my family who are still AG and work in ministry to some degree.  I think my parents were happy for me to find a “real” job instead of ministry, but I know the majority of my family took it harder when I quit…..and when I went to sell porn….well, my family doesn’t argue or fight too much, but I know they suffered in silence with THAT one, and my ears burned a lot.

So you’re okay with your family now?

Oh hell yes, judging from the families of friends and girlfriends I hit the lottery.  They are all great. And seriously, nobody in my family was really on my ass to BE a pastor or to REMAIN a pastor. 

From what little I’ve read of your stuff, not just your blog, and from what your friends have said, you really do hate evangelical culture.

I guess I have more animosity against the pastors I grew up under more than anything else.  When you’re ten years old and get freaked out thinking “the rapture” happened whenever your parents arrive home late…I think you can conservatively say you’ve been sold a boatload of bullshit by people who should have known better.  Not all denominations, or all AG pastors for that matter, are freakish literalists.  I can’t remember how the saying goes, but it’s something about how people will continue to believe a lie if it means they can hold onto their power or their paycheck.  And the whole evangelical thing is about power and guilt based on lies and scripture taken out of context.  I’ve said this a million times, but fat Christians will burn in the same hell with homosexuals because a sin is a sin.  If you’re going to pervert the Bible for your own prejudices, at least get it right.  I think you can be fat or gay or a big fat gay and still be a Christian, and truly ignorant people with no concept of scriptural context have a problem with that.

So you consider yourself a Christian?

My worldview is the hand I was dealt, and after years of being angry and bitter about my experience I really do believe that the simplest application of the gospel and the intent with which it was written really is a great thing.  I’m not going to preach at you, try to persuade you or pretend I’m a shining example, but at the end of the day I really do want to believe in something bigger than all of us.  Evangelicals annoy the shit out of me, but so do former Catholics who take up paganism to be fashionable….without understanding the irony behind following a self-styled hodgepodge of dead religions that even the ancient Greeks abandoned.  And Feng Shui…biggest marketing scam in the history of yuppie beliefs. 

Do you ever miss working as a pastor?

I miss the part of me that had to exercise compassion on a regular basis, but I don’t really miss the role or the weird level of respect you get from church members.  If I ever started going to church again, the last thing I’d let them know about me is that I was a pastor…especially an Assemblies of God pastor.  People make things more complicated than they need to be already, so don’t go looking to me for answers. 

Did you have to wear that collar thingy?

No, fundamentalist denominations generally consider that to be a Catholics-only thing, and Catholics are Satan to them.  Seriously. 

Good stuff.  And funny how there really is no logical segue from ministry to porn at this point.

You’re telling me. (laughs)
 

Okay, reading back through some of your writing you said once that it’s weird for girls to like porn?  You said something to that effect, right?”

I should probably qualify any of my statements about women and porn.  I don’t think it’s weird for women to like porn, because I know a ton of them that dig it.  I do think it’s weird for women to like a lot of the same kind of porn that men like, and unfortunately there isn’t a lot of porn for ladies out there beyond the Red Shoe Diaries or Candida Royale mild hardcore, romantic variety.  I’m not saying women can’t get into hardcore, because I truly, 100% believe that women are WAY kinkier, stranger and more adventurous than men when it comes to sex.  It’s not a contest….it’s not even the same sport.  You just don’t see that side of the coin very often because the industry is 99.9999% geared towards what men want…..and outside of some of the more involved fetish genres, men just want something utilitarian.  Women just make a mental connection to sex and romance that most men do not…….and if you’re running a porno production company you can literally make millions of dollars off of a video that cost you five grand to make because it’s easy to get men off…..so why would you spend hundreds of thousands to produce something for women?  They aren’t even on the radar in overall sales compared to men. 

I’m not going to disagree with you on the female kink comments, it’s a valid point.  With that in mind, did you have strange, female, porn obsessed regulars at your store?

No, my greatest customers were women, specifically, lesbians.  You don’t spend a few years in an industry based on what men THINK their women want as far as sex toys go, without learning which toys rule the earth when it comes (no pun intended) to what women ACTUALLY like.  The most annoying customers were the guys who were obviously ashamed and uncomfortable being there, and the worst of the worst were the ones who would come up chuckling nervously and go “hey, I’m supposed to find some movies for a bachelor party tonight, oh geez, I’m not even sure what to get….they make movies of naked women’s?”. 

HA! A bachelor party?  Are you serious?

Yeah, I mean if you want to call you and a box of Kleenex a bachelor party, it’s your world. 

That’s funny.  Also kind of hard to believe that kind of behavior was common among male adults though. 

The sexual repression in the Midwest is a phenomenon that cannot be overstated. So the moral of the story is, whenever you go into one of these shops, you’re only annoying the employees when you act ashamed about it.  Go in there proudly, like a lesbian.  The lesbians would come right up to the counter and ask questions like “what do you have that vibrates the hardest?” and “which ones plug into the wall?”, or my favorite, “do you have any strap-on harnesses that are made from one piece of leather instead of the leather and nylon? They break.”.   And I’d be like THANK YOU!  Thank you for saying exactly what you are looking for without even thinking there are people out there who may think those questions are strange!  Then I’d go into the backroom, put on my top-hat, grab my cane and put on the ritz as I broke down our selection in detail for them.  Those moments were few and far between, but they were so refreshing.

Now I am familiar with the chain of stores you worked for. It’s more of a couples type store than one of those peep booth places.  And I bring that up mainly because your friends have said you eventually left the business for a much lower paying job because it was so depressing.

Annoying and depressing.

I can picture the scenario, but tell me what was so annoying. 

Well, like I said, the lesbians were the most awesome of all customers, but they were not in the store regularly enough to make a big difference.  The rest of the clientele could be broken down into categories like……guys who were waiting in the parking lot EVERY GODDAMN MORNING as you drove up, so they could trade in the movies they got from you YESTERDAY for FIVE MORE.  Of course there were the identical bachelorette party shoppers who laughed at the identical same penis keychains and penis water bottles in the identical way five or fifty times a week. Oh and creepy, CREEPY  guys who would literally ask you if there were legal beastiality movies.  Rednecks who would buy devices and lingerie as anniversary gifts for their wives and I would weep for whatever poor woman was about to be abused by such a lack of taste or insight.  Guys who would peruse the magazine racks FOREVER and then ask to use the bathroom…..meth-head strippers who would come in and destroy the lingerie section looking for danceware and argue with me about the prices…..shoplifters…..the list goes on but you get the idea.

No argument here, I can see where that atmosphere could become surreal, like a bad 70’s movie.  Where did it cross the line from annoying to depressing?  Retail work is the bottom of the barrel in general. 

Agreed, people are morons whether they are buying vibrators or cough syrup.  I could have lived with the annoyances, but there were levels of things that made it all depressing enough to flee.  The first thing that comes to mind is the overall desensitization that happens to you when your entire job revolves around the sex industry….you learn WAY too much about total strangers, and you have to gauge sales and inventory based on the latest trends and fetishes. 

I’m picturing the cast of My Name Is Earl asking you whether the latest swinger-mags have arrived.

Thanks for that….I forgot all about that one.  Scarily accurate…why can’t swingers be even remotely attractive?  See?  You’d be a natural running the store! (laughs) Seriously, I’m a guy, guys like porn, but by the time I left I was so sick of ALL of it that the only thing I’d partake in myself was Playboy…and that was just to do the ultimate cliché of reading it for the articles.  Then there is the lifestyle….when you’re the “porno guy” going to all of the local hipster watering holes six nights per week , and you rub shoulders with the types of fellas that run the industry, and part of your job is to do PR at stripclubs in order to drum up more business, you are officially through the looking glass.  To top it off, I was in a band for a while at the same time I was running the shop, so the partying and fair-weather bar friends become the lifestyle outside of work …..but the work that you do isn’t far enough removed from the lifestyle, so there is the tendency to get lost in it. 

I know a lot of guys will read this and go BOO-HOO!  It sounds like some world’s smallest violin shit.

Fair enough, and fuck those morons.  It is such a lame industry that people try to make sound legitimate, and it caters to the types of guys who are bored with their wives and girlfriends.  They are the addicts, and I’m sure an addict would love running that kind of asylum.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think screaming fire in a crowded theatre crosses the free-speech line, I’ll defend some demented porno genres because of that, but at some point you become a character straight out of central casting to anyone who knows you.  I’m a total John Hughes eighties movie dork at heart, and it scared the shit out of me when I thought I had completely lost that part of myself.  I’m sure there are people out there who can do the job and raise a perfectly normal family, I just wasn’t one of them.  So I give any classless douchebag who cries crocodile tears for me the permission to state the obvious……I must be gay. 

That was all, what?  Ten or twelve years ago?

Yeah, about that.

So now that you are older and wiser, do you find that women your age find it intriguing, a turnoff, strange…..that you could go from one extreme to the other? 

Not sure, I don’t really know any women my age.

You’re not dating at all these days, no post-surgery exploration?

Sure, I just don’t date women my age.

And why is that?

Because I don’t have to.  (laughs) Sorry, I just had to throw that in there to sound like a bastard.  It’s kind of true, I mean I don’t date twenty-five year olds because we wouldn’t have anything to talk about, they are generally at least in their thirties. 

You should have just stuck with your statement that you don’t have to.  Good material to work from. 

Or said I don’t have to……because I own a Sybian. (laughs)

I forget, I’m talking to a huge Stern fan.

Absolutely.  But I knew about the Sybian way before I listened to Howard, real lost weekend product.  You have to remember, I learned from the lesbians.  None of that yuppie poser tickle and spank shit there, not even close.  The girls with the warm vibratey feelings all through their guttyworks.

And the movie quotes begin.

Right, right, right.  (laughs)

You know they actually have or did have at one point, a Korova Milkbar in New York City.

Sure, totally cheesy but a nice try. Not sure if it’s even still there.  A real tourist and bridge and tunnel mecca.  My guys you talked to earlier keep me away from all of that shit when I’m out there.  Best city in the world. 

So lastly, going back to what we were talking about before it got derailed.

I do what I can to derail.

All kidding aside, I don’t imagine that surgery changed your personality or attitude very much, but it has better enabled you to express yourself. True?

For better or worse, I’m the same guy I’ve always been but the volume is turned way, way up.  

And that is a good thing?

Good for me, entertaining for the people who are close to me, at least most of the time.  Seriously, I’ve got a pretty great life right now.  I’m pretty happy.

You said you’re dating, just not women your age…were you being funny or are you reaping the benefits of being in better shape?

Well, I was trying to be funny, but yes, I have a situation.

What kind of situation?

Too early to say, I don’t want to curse it by saying too much.  But of course, keep an eye on the blog and I’m sure it will come up at some point whether it ends in joy or tears.

Fair enough.

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Filed under Bariatric Surgery, culture, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, Recovery, Tent Revival, Weight Loss

Johnny’s Magic Blanket…

Okay, time for a lazy post….

I wanted to leave my stupid dog’s post at the top as long as possible, to make her insubordination worth it as her broken legs heal.  That’s right…type your fundamentalist bullshit with spiral fractures, you little Whore of Babylon!  Be my guest!  Also, I’ve been pretty busy with work, school and doing my first real “interview” that will be published in a semi-renowned monthly periodical within the next few months.  I’ll post the transcript on here pretty soon…as long as I don’t name names or the the magazine I was assured I would not get into trouble.  I have it, I just need to get a copy that isn’t in .pdf format….no way I’m transcribing that shit.  Apparently, the whole bariatric patient/ex-minister/ex-porn dealer angle isn’t represented well enough in today’s market, so who am I to refuse such an intriguing experience?  I will say that it is weird to see your words in print, and this was no stupid Oprah moment…..thank God.

Anyway, I am always eager to put SOMETHING on here every week for my few faithful readers to enjoy, and instead of yammering on about how I am literally down to one pair of 20 year old Dockers jeans that I can still fit into, I’ll post something that I wrote a few years ago.  Even before all of the “never forget 9/11” chain emails, there was a particular breed of cheesy feel-good “daily blessing” email that just rubbed me the wrong way.  Not only were they poorly written, a derivative of “Footprints”, and laden with an annoying amount of cute graphics that would crash Internet Explorer, they always had some guilt-based chain email horseshit at the bottom.  “If you truly love God and/or your family you’ll pass this boring shit onto everyone in your address book….”.  I hate them…..hate them all.  There is not one worth reading or forwarding, and if you send one to me you are not my friend.  I don’t care which memory of a dead relative inspired you to send it along, I would literally rather get an icepick to the testicles and lose all of my money to one of those “my father is the president of Ethiopia” email scams than read ONE MORE definition of “What Love Truly Means” or see ONE MORE Special Olympic-level photoshop job touting the dedication of “The Lone Marine”.  Seriously, if you are under the age of 70 and you are sending this stuff to people…..kill yourself, and take all of your scrapbooking buddies to hell right along with you. 

So with all of THAT in mind, I wrote my own chain email and sent it to everyone that I know.  It’s definitely not my sickest work, and it is not fucked up enough to completely freak the “Oprah Nation/Focus on the Inbred Family” people out, and I did that for a reason….I wanted it to be normal enough to actually receive it as an unsolicited forward one day.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I am still hopeful.  Anyway, I give you Johnny’s Magic Blanket to do with as you feel necessary…..

When Johnny was growing up, it was just him and his mother.  He never met his dad and had no brothers or sisters, but his mom loved him very much and did what she could to keep their little family happy and secure.  As a baby, he would lie in her arms, listening to her tell stories about her family when she was growing up, and how happy it was.  She would keep him wrapped in a blanket that her mother had used when she was just a baby.  Johnny would lay there quiet and content in his blanket, night after night, listening to his mom talk about the fun she had as a girl, playing with her cousins and helping her mother prepare the Sunday dinner.  She had moved far away from home when she was young, and always wished for the old days, for her and her son.

As he grew a little older, his mother always had to work at least two jobs to make ends meet, and Johnny became a latchkey kid at a very young age.  They were very poor, and he didn’t have many friends at school.  He would come home every day to their dark apartment, doing the best job he could to make dinner for his tired mom so that she could finally get some rest when she returned home.  On most nights she would come home to find Johnny asleep in the chair by the front door, lying quietly on that same blanket that wrapped and quieted him as a baby.  He tried the best he could to stay awake long enough to see her when she got home.  They spent what little time they had together laughing and telling stories, transforming that dark little apartment into a happy home.  That blanket became his magic blanket.  It helped him remember the stories his mom told him about her family when he was alone, and he would lay there as he went to sleep, wondering if he would someday have his own family and stories to tell.  Many children have a security blanket, but it became more than just that for Johnny.  Without other kids to play with, and all of the responsibility that was forced on him so young, it truly did become magic for him.  Whenever he was sad, it helped him remember how much his mother loved him.  When he was lonely, it helped him remember all of the good things that were possible.  When he was tired at the end of a long day, or when other kids picked on him, it was a comfort as he went to sleep.

One day Johnny was all grown up, living on his own and curled up in a chair in his very own apartment.  There was a S.W.A.T. team surrounding his building and he could hear the bullhorn, “Okay Johnny, this is your last warning!  Don’t make us come in there after you!  We don’t want anyone else to get hurt!  Just let the hostage go and we can work this out!

Needless to say, things had not gone well for Johnny after his mother skipped town with that seasonal laborer she met at the bar.  The events that brought him to a place where he was facing several felony counts, including kidnapping, were all a blur in his drug addled mind.  In one last attempt to deal with reality, he remembered his blanket. His magic blanket.  He ran to his closet and dug it out from the bottom of a box, then wrapped it around his shoulders. “This blanket saved me as a child”, he thought, “It can save me now!”. 

“OKAY PIGS!”, he screamed, “I’M COMING OUT, AND I’M COMING OUT SHOOTING!  PREPARE TO DIE!”.

Fortunately, his hostage and all but three of the police officers at the scene lived to tell a very different kind of story to their own families.  As for Johnny, I think we all know how well an old cotton blanket protects you from thirty or forty 9mm rounds to the torso.

This is not a chain email, but if this message has touched you in any way, please pass it along to those that you love.

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Filed under Bariatric Surgery, Blogroll, Christianity, culture, dating, Evangelical Christianity, Food, General Thoughts, Health, Healthy Eating, Recovery, religion, Tent Revival, Weight Loss, weight loss surgery