Friday, July 30, 2010

Real Housewives

Last summer, for reasons I am not sure of, I got sucked in to watching the Real Housewives of NY. That lead to me being sucked in to watch the show Real Housewives of NJ, which I got to admit had characters that were more fun than the NY crew.

This year I was not as interested to watch either show but found myself looking over the top of my book to catch a peek here and there as my wife watched. The ladies of Big Apple show were entertaining and intriguing. On the other hand the Garden State broads (I think the word broad to describe a woman is so underused these days) were no longer interesting. The characters become caricatures of themselves. They became the stereotype of a Northern New Jersey gangster woman/wife. They seem very trashy.

When I watch television I am very aware of the commercials that come on. Commercials are a way of finding out what advertisers and television networks think of their consumer/audience. Advertisers try to push their product to a demographic. A particular show may have a particular stronger demographic which is desired by an advertiser. Sometimes the commercials are national ads which are polished and crisp. Then there are local ads that get squeezed in that are often the local car dealer or flooring company, which are not so polished. Now it is here where the AD people tell you what they think of you and the shows you watch, depending on their skill and level of magic making. I like to rate their commercials. I think I am immune to their pitches and I try to figure out who they are targeting; what makes the commercial tick.

Why are there so many erectile dysfunction cure commercials during an NFL game? Well because the marketers know that men between the ages of 35 and 50 are watching. Why are those commercials always showing a man and a woman strolling on a beach, holding hands and being all romantic? Because they know that there are women in those same households that may be watching the same game because they want to spend time with their significant others and damn it if he is going to sit there and check his fantasy football scores every 10 minutes, while the garage needs to get cleaned and leaves need to be raked and oh, what is that commercial? Look at that couple holding hands on the beach, they look so happy and romantic and oh look at that handsome silver haired man helping his wife paint the living room, and that is a lovely color yellow, wait a minute did they just say that this medicine could make him paint the living room for up to four hours, wow I need to remember the name of that drug.

Anyway you get the point smoke and mirrors and all that.

Shows have a demographic, the network sells their shows ad space based on the demo to advertisers that want to target those people. I like to watch commercials to see if I fit that demo.

The other night I was reading in bed and Lauren was watching Real Housewives of NJ. After hearing the wretch Danielle (the villain of the show) talking about being a great mom to her girls, while she is learning how to fight from some thugs because "you just never know", then listening to the other women with their "youse guys and deese guys" lingo. I begged Lauren to switch the channel. She said no and laughed at the fact that I still sit there and watch the show. Which I do, you know, train wreck and all that.

Then a commercial comes on. It is a local commercial for a dentist that does teeth whitening. The woman on the commercial has the worst Philly accent I have ever heard. The commercial is horrible. This is followed by an ad for the movie Charlie St. Cloud starring Zac Efron, which is followed by a promo for another Bravo TV show. I, uhm, go back to reading my book.

Joe ends up telling some guy that money is tight and that he is not sure what he is going to get his wife Teresa for their 10th wedding anniversary. He ends up going cheap and buying a Helicopter ride and some huge diamond. I know from various blogs that Joe and Teresa have filed for bankruptcy because they are 11 million dollars in debt. The show is really getting on my nerves. I ask Lauren to change the channel. She says no.

During the commercial break some people were signing a catchy jingle about getting cash right now with no effort. That was followed by a commercial for the movie Charlie St. Cloud. Then the owner of a local car dealer, who was clearly reading from a cue card, told me "no credit, no problem" I could still drive away in a brand new car for only $199. A Jell-O ad runs next followed by a Top Chef promo.

I turn a page in my book. Albie, the red head's son, who flunked out of law school is now in the police academy. He had to shave his head. His siblings mock him. Meanwhile Jackie's daughter is getting served legal papers for assaulting one of the other broads. I can't take it anymore. I ask Lauren to switch the channel but another set of commercials comes on.

Charlie St. Cloud is coming out on Friday. Then a very loud lawyer comes on the TV and tells me he can get me money for any lawsuit. He can also get me out of any DUIs. He will not rest until my case is won. Pledge is great for wood. Another Real Housewives show is going to be in DC. I should watch Top Chef. Charlie St. Cloud.

I make my assesment of the RHONJ demographics, which has to be criminals with bad teeth and with bad credit, who need money now and who like to eat Jell-O and have clean furniture. I then realize that the commercials that are airing are not only for the demographic of the audience watching the RHONJ but that they also could be targeting the actual people on the show. The Real Housewives of NJ could use all of the services these commercials are offering.

I go back to my book. Some sweet 16 birthday party is going on that looks like it is more expensive than my house. Someone named Kim G gets on my nerves. This show is so bad. I beg Lauren to turn it off. I close my eyes and try to go to sleep.

Then a commercial comes on for some intro-uterine device and the side effects listed say something to the affect of the "Mirena may attach to or go through the wall of the uterus and cause other problems. Ovarian cysts may occur and usually disappear. Bleeding and spotting may increase in the first few months and continue to be irregular." Then they talk more about blood and uterus-es (uteri?) and thickening and bleeding and more blood flow.

During that commercial I was begging for the Real Housewives to come back on.

I realize that I am not the target demographic for the companies that advertise on the show Real Housewives. But by the same way the ED pill commercials make women take notice I really think that shows on Bravo should take into account that, maybe, a man may be in the room while the TV is on. Now if the women in theMirena ad were cooking bacon or mowing the yard I may not have been so offended by the commerical.

Anyway RHoNJ no longer interests me, which is fine, I am not their target audience. Actually when I think about all the ads that were run , they have a very diverse demographic. Just not me, although I have a strange urge to goe see Zac Efron movies. He is dreamy.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Last year I took a bit of abuse because of this picture. This year Lauren went on the log flume ride with the kids. The picture is not that great but the sound is awesome.

My friend Sue, who was with us on the boardwalk that day, was on the other side of the pier, maybe 50 to 100 yards away, texted me "Just heard Lauren scream from over hear at the swings."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Dream Job

One of my dream jobs, and I have many, would be to have a gig like Guy Fieri on the show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. If you are not familiar with the show, Guy Fieri, drives across the country stopping in various eateries sampling the food and signature delicacies from each stop. I don't think I would want to be on camera but I was thinking my dream job would be to be the point man. I would be the guy to go to the various locations, try the food, then report back to the producers what joints Guy should visit. Yeah, that would be a dream job and half.

When we were vacationing at the South Jersey shore, I had the opportunity to try a bunch of different places. Two of places that stick out, as far as recommendations go, were Maui's Dog House in Wildwood, NJ and The Beach Box in Ocean City, NJ.

I have been to Maui's Dog House twice now and I think I may make my it one of my life's goals to try every one of the dogs on their menu. This past visit I had the J-Bell and the Horsey in Chicago. Maui Dog has a decent selection of sides including their signature dish Salty Balls, which is brine cooked small potatoes served with drawn butter. Each dish is served in a plastic dog bowl and the whole dining experience is fun for the whole family.

The Beach Box is a walk-up take-out joint located at 33rd and Asbury in Ocean City, NJ. In the interest of full disclosure, The Beach Box is operated by my double cousin Monica and her friend Erin. I say double cousin because Monica's mom is my mom's sister and Monica's dad is my dad's brother. Pretty cool huh? This is the first year that Monica is running The Beach Box. They are open from 7 am to 3pm focusing on breakfast and lunches that can be boxed and taken to the beach, which is only a block down the road. The lunch menu is standard sandwich fair like BLTs, Tuna Salad, Cheese steaks and such. I had the Tuna Salad sandwich which was very good and served on one the best rolls I have ever had. Lauren and the kids enjoyed their lunches (Chicken Fingers and Fries) which we ate in the limited seating they have out front.

Since The Beach Box is new they have not yet developed any signature items although they have a few in the works. One of the breakfast items they have is a Bacon and Chive Cream Cheese spread which is incredible. The Beach Box is also known for their Chocolate Chip Cookies. These cookies are out of this world with the perfect blend of chocolate chips and cookie. The cookies are huge and have been called "man hole covers" with a diameter of 5 to 6 inches across.

What struck me most about The Beach Box is the fact that Monica, although working (cooking, serving, etc) took the time to talk to every person that came by. Although she is new to that area she seemed to know everybody there and everybody seemed to know her. Monica is one of the nicest people and with a person like her running a place like The Beach Box I think the food is almost secondary and that the signature item is the friendly staff.

I was talking to Monica about creating a signature breakfast sandwich and I recommended that she make a scrapple sandwich of some sort. Scrapple as described in Wikipedia is a mush of pork scraps and trimmings and is regional food of the Mid Atlantic States. Lauren immediately turned her nose up at my idea because Scrapple is made from "everything but the oink" of a pig. Which to me would be the perfect meat to use for what could become the Poop and Boogies Sandwich.

If you have a Facebook page go and become a fan of The Beach Box.

If you are in Ocean City NJ this summer stop by The Beach Box at 33rd and Asbury and tell them I sent you. And tell them you want a Poop and Boogies sandwich.

If anyone knows Guy Fieri tell him he needs to hire me as a point man.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kissing Daniel

Warning: Some of the mental images the following post may invoke may be graphic and not suitable to all readers. Reader discretion is advised.

I have big thighs. I get this from my mom’s side of the family. One of the problems with having big thighs is that I tend to chafe. I tend to chafe in the groin area. What causes the chafing? Well it is a combination of friction of my inner thigh rubbing against the seam of my underwear or shorts. Often times, moisture in the same area, can cause me to chafe even more. Some people refer to the chafing as a sweat rash. It is hot down there which is where the term hotter than balls comes from. Now that I am running I have been getting more chafed, like really, really bad. Running causes me to sweat as well as it increases the friction in that particular area. The moisture from the sweat causes the underwear I am wearing to become more heavy and clingy and also more abrasive. This then causes me to chafe. It is a bad case of diaper rash for a lack of a better term.

Another big chafing scenario is when I go to the beach. The moisture from going into the ocean as well as getting sand stuck in my trunks has caused me some of the worst rashes as well as pain I have ever felt. Combine that with the walk to and from the beach it feels like I have sand paper scraping my grundle. Usually by the end of the walk home I have the gait as if I had just rode a horse for a few hours. It would be so bad I would then spend the next day smelling like baby powder and Desitin. The rashes I have gotten from the beaches would be so red and bumpy and painful and inflamed that they could ruin an entire week vacation.

This curse of chafing also affects other members of my family.

During our family’s big July 4th/Mom’s birthday party, I overheard my brother Dan talking to a few of my other brothers. As often is the case when you grow up with 7 other boys the conversation switched to the topic of balls. Not baseballs or soccer balls or basketballs but, you know…balls.

“I swear” Dan said to Jimmy. “You will want to kiss me after you try the new shorts.”

“Really?” someone else asked.

“Yeah. I now wear them all the time under my swim suit.” Dan confirmed. “I have not had a rash since.”

"Are you talking about preventing monkey butt?" I asked.

"No. I am talking about the sweat rash you get at the beach." Dan said.

I was intrigued by the conversation and I asked Dan what he was talking about. He told me he bought some new moisture wicking underwear, the kind that athletes use, and that he wears them under his swim trunks. The underwear wicks the moisture away from his groin and it has dramatically reduced any kind of chafing he would get from his walks to and from the beach. Dan called the underwear his junk protectors. He then told me I should get a pair and try it since I was going to the shore the following week.

“You will not believe how much better you will feel.” Dan said. “You will want to kiss me for me telling you about this underwear.”

Now my brother Dan is not one to just give out unsolicited advice. I mean maybe he will tell you about a new tool he recommends or that he discovered better bourbon, but to suggest new clothes is just not his (pardon the pun) style. Since he was so adamant about the new underwear I purchased a few pair for my trip to the beach.

I bought the boxer brief style which were a little smaller in size than the boxer briefs I am used to wearing. The material is made with “moisture wicking technology” (I have never worn underwear with technology in them) and has a stretchy-spandex kind of feel to them. The smaller size, the tight fit and the stretchy fabric made everything look a bit bigger, which, I gotta admit, I did not mind. The smaller size, the tight fit and the stretchy fabric made me feel like I was wearing part of a superhero costume, which, I gotta admit, was kind of cool.

I wore my new underwear to the beach every day while I was on vacation. Let me tell you this is the best underwear I have ever worn. I did not get one rash. I wore them one my runs, no rash. I wore them in the ocean and in the sand, no rash. Half way through my vacation I called my brother Dan to thank him for the advice on the underwear.

"Dan, the next time I see you I am going to kiss you." I said.

"Was I right about the shorts or what?"

"I love them. Not a single rash. I wear them everyday."

"I told you." Dan said.

"Not only do I not have any chafing but when I put them on I feel like I am putting on a superhero costume, and for that, well Dan, when I kiss you I may even give you some tongue."

UPDATED 7-28-10
I purchased my awesome underwear at Sears and bought the Structure Brand. (make sure they are the moisture wicking kind).

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beach Boys

Dear Internet,

I am sorry I have not been around for the past 10 days or so. We took the family to the beach for a vacation.

We went to Wildwood, Ocean City and Cape May. We ate ice cream, candy, hotdogs and fries. We went on walks and on log flumes and on rollercoasters and bumper boats. We went to the beach, the bay, the out door mall, the boardwalk and the ER. All in all it was a great vacation and everyone had a great time. Except for the trip to the ER. I don't think Jackson, Lauren or I enjoyed that part.

Jackson is okay. He had a bad fall. I am thinking of getting some T-shirts made up that say "I went to the Jersey Shore and all I got was an X-ray."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Card Ideas

My anniversary is tomorrow. Lauren and I have been married 8 years. I know this because I just said to her the other day, "I can't believe we have been married 9 years."

Which she said, "Neither can I, because this Tuesday is only our 8 year anniversary."

As with all old married couples we do not really exchange romantic gifts or anything. Our gift giving is done more out of necessity. We get each other what we need rather than what we want or what we would want for the other person. This year we need a new coffee maker, a new cordless phone for the home, and a new vacuum cleaner.

I am not sure what I am getting for Lauren and what she is getting for me. We will decide later this week. But this is where I need some help. To make the gifts romantic we will need cards to go with the gifts. So knowing that I could be getting Lauren a phone, coffee maker or vacuum and she could be getting me one of those same items we need some ideas for a romantic card to accompany the gift.

Contest time--Leave a comment with an idea for a romantic anniversary card to go with one or all of the gifts, either from me to Lauren or Lauren to me. Lauren and I will pick our three favorites and the winners will recieve a copper plated Abraham Lincoln Medallion worth 1 cent.

Go here to read about our wedding. Pic here .

Friday, July 09, 2010

Realizing Dreams

When Lauren and I were young and kid less we lived in cool little apartment across from a train station, an ice cream shop and above a coffee shop. We were cool, Bohemian-esque, young and hip. One day while I was eating at the ice cream shop I started a conversation with the waitress whose name was Eve. I don't remember exactly what we talked about but I learned that her and her husband Ken lived in an apartment down the street and that they too were young, kid less, Bohemian-esque and hip.

Lauren and I became quick friends with Ken and Eve. They were the first "couple" friends we made as a couple. We hung out often. Ken was into theater and I was into theater. Eve wanted to be a writer and I wanted to be a writer. They were lovers of art and Lauren was a lover of art. They had a dog, we had a dog. Ken liked to drink and I loved to drink. We were a couples match made in heaven. We spent many nights drinking and eating and discussing ideas for plays, movie scripts, novels and films. We would exchange each others writings and offer ideas. We played Cranium and cards while drinking margarita's and drunkenly expressing our creative hopes and dreams.

Lauren and I eventually got married and started to raise a family. Ken went back to school and Eve took on a full time job. We started to grow up. We drifted apart as "couples" friends. Lauren and I moved to Florida and pretty much lost contact with Ken and Eve. When we moved back to PA in 2007 and I kept meaning to call them but by then we had two kids and life would get in the way.

In the spring of 2008, I was in the grocery store parking lot when I saw Ken get out of his car. I was so excited to see him that I ran up to him and hugged him while jumping up and down, like he was Bob Barker and I was just told I won the Show Case Show Down. I pretty much dry humped him in the Acme parking lot. We exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

That hasn't really happened, because, well, life gets in the way. But through the magic of computers and social networking I have been able to keep tabs on my cool Bohemian friends. I was very excited to find out that Eve, who used to dream about being a writer, has had her first book published. It was just released on Tuesday. I immediately ran out and picked up a copy and I think you should too.

Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont.

I have not started reading it but I know it must be awesome. It is some one's dream realized and that, well, that is awesome.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Who watches the watchman

In my quest to drop some weight and live a healthier life I have taken up running. Most of the time I run at night around 9:30 or so. Using various websites I have mapped a few courses through my neighborhood.

Every night during my jog I have noticed a small gold colored SUV driving very slow through the neighborhood. The first night the SUV slowed to a crawl as it approached me from behind. I thought I was going to get jumped, but then the speed picked back up and it passed me. I could not see the driver or the passenger. I figured they mistook me for someone else. The second night the same thing happened. Again two people driving very slowly. The third night the gold SUV approached me from the front, I could see shadows of both the driver and passenger. They did not slow down but kept a very slow driving pace. I was finally able to see the passenger on the fourth night. I realized it was my next door neighbor. He and another guy are part of the neighborhood watch program. For the next couple of nights I would wave to them as I ran by.

I was into my third week of running and I had just finished a 2.77 mile run (my furthest run at that time) when I saw a gold SUV approach me. It was driving very close to the opposite curb in a spastic stop and go fashion. I craned my neck to get a better view of the other side of the vehicle when I noticed someone moving very quickly, clinging to the shadows along the edges of the homes on that side of the street. It looked to me like the neighborhood watch guys were after someone.

All of the sudden the person took off across the front yard of a corner lot. I could see him clearly in the glow of the home's porch light. It was a teen-aged boy. The SUV, jolted, sped up and rounded the corner. Just as the SUV completed its turn, the teenager on the lawn spun around and ran in the opposite direction of the SUV. There was no way the SUV was going to be able to make a U-turn on the small street in time to catch the kid.

My inner Batman took over and I jetted after the kid. I thought maybe the kid was caught breaking into cars or maybe he was seen vandalizing some property. My adrenaline was flowing, my testosterone pumping. I would nab the perpetrator.

The kid was about 35 yards ahead of me when he realized I was chasing him. He sped up.

The kid was fast. I was faster.

For about 4 seconds I was faster. After that, the two plus miles I had just ran caught up to me. My shin splints ached, I could not catch my breath, sweat burned my eyes, I had a stitch in my side and my feet burned. I pulled up, gasping, limping, holding my lower right side. I leaned against a street light and watched the kid turn up the next road over. I hobbled to that corner and looked up to see if I could spot him. He too was now walking and he strolled up a driveway.

A minute later the gold SUV pulled up along side of me as a I walked towards the driveway. It was not the neighborhood watch SUV. A woman rolled down her window and thanked me for chasing her 13 year old son home. He was going to run away, she was following him trying to convince him to come home. He made it a block and half from his house when I started chasing him. I scared him straight home.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Some kind of a noma

I know two people who have died from Melanoma. Hell, I lived with the two people that I know that died from Melanoma; my friend and old roommate Dan Howard and my dad.

My friend Pam (Dan's widow) over the past few years has organized a team for the Noreen O'Neill Foundation for Melanoma Research Running for Cover 5k race to raise money for Melanoma research. Our family has donated and participated over the past few years. This year's race was this past Sunday and Lauren and I took Max and Wyatt down town to participate. Lauren ran in the 5k race and the boys and I ate all the free Tastykakes (a sponsor of the event) we could get our hands on. If you are not familiar with Tastykakes, well you should familiarize yourself with this Philly based company.

It is always a good feeling to know that one can eat their weight in Strawberry Fruit and Yogurt Breakfast Bars and that some good can come out of it. Like these good news articles about Melanoma research.

New Drug Extends Lives of Melanoma Patients

New Drug PLX-4032

Melanoma Master Cells Identified

Melanoma is one of those cancers that if one takes the right steps they can dramatically reduce their chances of developing the disease. These steps are quite simple; limit your time in direct sun light and wear sun screen. It is even more important that you take these steps with your kids. Children get 80% of their lifetime sun exposure before the age of 18, so it is important to protect them. Protecting the skin during the first 18 years of life can reduce the risk of some types of skin cancer by up to 78%.

Early detection is key in fighting Melanoma. Having a dermatologist do a skin cancer screening is the best solution to early detection. During a skin cancer screening, your doctor will inspect your skin from head to toe—including areas not exposed to the sun. They will record the location size and color of any mole and compare those records with each visit.

However some Melanomas can grow fast and you should always check your skin for new moles as well as any changes in existing moles. Melanoma can grow on areas of your skin that you cannot see, like your back, so have a loved one inspect these areas from time to time.

I am always telling Lauren I need to inspect her exposed body for moles. She always thinks I have ulterior motives.