Friday, April 28, 2006

The Week in Pictures XLII

Random Friday Thoughts:

As week number two of unemployment - or as I'm calling it these days "Practicing for Retirement" - comes to a close, I'm remain amazed at how difficult it is to fill my days. It struck me earlier today that you always see commercials about the importance of saving for retirement, but nobody ever says anything about planning for complete boredom. If I can't find a job within the next month or so, I think I'm going to start a consulting company built around coaching people on how to avoid post-retirement insanity.

Maybe this is why people move to Florida. It's not the warm weather that draws them, it's the competition for seats at the early bird dinners and the fun of watching young men have aneurysms from being stuck behind them as they cruise down the highway at 30 miles per hour with their turn signal on. Should they ever grow tired of these diversions, they need only go to South Beach or the Florida Keys and enjoy the circus freaks that inhabit those areas. Layer in the liberal gun laws, the rampant drug smuggling, the betting on whether Cuban refugees make it to U.S. soil, and the tourist car jackings and you have a retirement paradise.

Now that I think about it, who needs to start a consulting business? I think I'll just apply for a job at the Florida Tourism board.

Anyway, more interviews scheduled for today and Monday. Both with big name companies, but I'm not holding out a ton of hope for either. I'll keep y'all posted.

And finally, softball season kicks off this week with a 9 a.m. game at Kennedy Park in Hempstead followed by post game beers under one of the many nearby trees. Once again, I'll expect to see you all there.

And now let's move on to The Week in Pictures.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
.
An major international incident was narrowly averted after President Bush stuck a "kick me" sign on the back of visiting Chinese President Hu.


Shameless oil companies have begun flaunting their cost per gallon targets by putting up indicators above the price signs.


President Bush suspended some environment rules on motor vehicle fuel this week in an effort to slow the meteoric jump in gas prices. This artist's rendering shows the eventual effects on people of Bush's continued abuse of the environment.


Meanwhile, motorists are engaging in ever more creative ride sharing techniques as a way to cope with the increases at the pump.


Hmmm....maybe I should start looking into a career in body painting.


In international news, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi kicked off a program to improve the economy by auctioning off small children.


While in Nepal, a man was arrested for being excessively horny in public.


Complaining that his eggs are too easily found behind trees and bushes, the Easter Bunny dramatically increase the difficulty of this year's hunt.

Here's our remarkably apt video of the week, "Over My Head (Cable Car)" by The Fray.


Now back to The Week in Pictures.


A small boy was severely injured when his doppelganger inexplicably fell from the sky as he lay on the floor.


In a related story, college professors are re-thinking the amount of homework they give out after a student was crushed by the books she was assigned to read that evening.


In entertainment news, recent reports offer proof that not only is Elvis alive, but that he's been secretly dating Dolly Parton.


A paternity suit was filed against Bozo the Clown by a woman claiming that her eight-year-old daughter is the result of an affair with the entertainer.


In a desperate attempt to regain the spotlight, 47 year-old Madonna is reverting back to the outfits she wore during her "Material Girl" days.


Filming began this week on a remake of "Apocalypse Now" which, in a surprise casting move, will star Gumby.


A Connecticut man won the "most creative late for work excuse" award by claiming to have been delayed by a Vespa jam on the front sidewalk of his apartment building.


And finally, geneticists believe that have hit upon an ingenious solution to end the troublesome pastime of cow-tipping.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Backstory - Act II

Apparently I'm the only person in America that still watches "Scrubs" but if watching that show is wrong, then I don't want to be right!

Okay, maybe that's going a little bit too far, but it is a damn good show.

I bring this up because as I was watching it last night, I was struck by the similarity between a conversation that two of the characters had to one that I had with my sister about a year ago. Near the end, Dr. Cox talks to his sister (played by Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines) about the reasons why he hates to see her. Throughout the episode, he'd been railing against her for being a born again Christian, but he tells her that that isn't the real reason behind his anger. Instead, it's that he's worked so hard to forget what it was like to grow up in a home with an alcoholic, abusive father and seeing her reminded him of his childhood.

By all accounts in my family, I was the target of the vast majority of the abuse that went on in the household. It took me a long time to realize that I needed to put that behind me and that cutting my brother and sisters out of my life wasn't the way to do that.

In this blog I frequently write about my niece Jasmine and, to a much lesser extent, my other four nieces and my nephew. In part I take such joy in them because as a result of the choices I almost made, I came awfully close to not being a part of their lives. However, the main reason that I love being around them so much is that my brother and sisters are all exceptional parents who raised their children in loving and nurturing environments - and that not only makes me proud of them but it gives me hope that perhaps one day I'll truly be able to be as whole and happy as they are.

Oh, and the music on Scrubs is really good, too.

Uh....and Judy Reyes is a cutie.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Backstory - Act II (click here to read Act I)

Father Murphy was lost in thought as he walked up the steps to the church. He had vows to keep, but it was awfully hard to do so when he saw Mrs. Delaney every day. After all, it was she who had broken his heart at that dance by leaving with Chuck Peterson (who, in another bit of irony that conveniently helps to move this story along, is the father of the young priest that she was in the midst of...well, you know), thus causing his entry into the priesthood all those years ago.

Father Murphy knew it was wrong, but he took great pleasure in getting some belated -and admittedly misdirected - revenge for the great injustice of his life by berating Peterson's son far more often, and much more harshly, than necessary. In fact, had it been anyone else, Father Murphy would likely have taken a more...well...fatherly approach with the young priest, sharing a laugh and some stories about the mistakes he himself had made shortly after entering the priesthood and offering him the same advice and support that he'd received from the older and more experienced priests.

What Father Murphy didn't know was that Chuck Peterson had been a perfect gentleman on the evening in question. He'd only left the dance with Mrs. Delaney - who then went by the name of Anita Ploughoffer - because he'd promised her mother that if she left the dance alone, he'd get her home safely. In fact, another long held secret was that over the course of that evening she'd actually developed quite a crush on young Frank Murphy. Sadly, he'd been too shy to ask her to dance before it was time for her to leave.

No matter, she thought at the time, I'll just bide my time until he works up the nerve to ask me out. Much to her surprise, she found that she actually enjoyed the prospect - and the novelty - of delayed gratification. The fact was that her reputation for being quite easy usually preceded her, having the unfortunate side effect of making nearly impossible for her to get dinner or a movie out of a date before she found herself being groped (and doing a fair amount of groping herself) in the backseat of her date's car.

Young and naive as he was, Frank was completely unaware of her reputation. He was so shy and inexperienced that he viewed talking to Anita as "getting to second base." Some part of him knew that this meant that he'd have to squeeze an awful lot of sexual activity into the next two bases, but he wasn't quite sure that was something he'd ever have to worry about.

As it turned out, he was right. So devastated was he at losing Anita to Chuck, that he packed his belongings that night and entered the seminary at dawn the next morning - reasoning that if he couldn't have Anita, he'd be better off having nobody.

Prior to his momentous decision, he had considered a lifelong bachelorhood, but he imagined that at some point people would begin assuming that he was gay. All of which was kind of ironic considering the profession in which he wound up.

When she heard of about this turn of events a week later, Anita briefly considered driving up to the seminary to tell Frank of her feelings for him, but by that time the novelty of Frank's shyness had worn off and she began to focus again on immediate gratification. Still, she never quite forgot Frank and would even occasionally call out Frank's name while in the throes of passion with one of the twelve men that she married and eventually divorced over the course of her well-lived life. Fortunately for her, by that time she had become so adept that any man sharing her bed wouldn't have had difficulty noticing a freight train running through the bedroom let alone something as insignificant as her screaming another man's name.

Act II Close

Monday, April 24, 2006

Friday in the Park with Joe

Since my new-found joblessness leaves me with plenty of time to kill, I spent part of a beautiful spring Friday in Bryant Park.

Earlier that morning I'd called Shana - who I met a few weeks ago in one of those "boy makes an awkward joke, woman takes pity and eventually gives him her number" stories that you so often see - and asked her to lunch.

Since it was a beautiful day, she suggested that we grab something and eat in the park. I readily agreed - taking the subway into town and stopping on the way to pick up the an amazing chicken and rice dish from a vendor on the corner of 45th and 6th that I used to frequent.

Now I recognize that as a general rule, the more prolonged the comparison, the further it is from the truth. For example, if you pick up a book and read on the jacket that the author is the literary love child of Stephen King and Dan Brown, with Walter Mosley's ear for dialogue and Nick Hornby's ability to wring laughs from pathos, you can pretty much guess that the book is crap. That said, you'll just need to trust me when I tell you that Shana looks like a slightly heavier version of Angelina Jolie.

Which, of course, begs the question "What's she doing with you, then, Joe?" - to which I can only surmise that I must represent her Billy Bob Thornton phase.

As we ate lunch, two things kept running through my mind. First, I realized that Manhattan is pretty small and that it's hard to find a place that doesn't bring back memories. In this case, to paraphrase "Field of Dreams", the memories of the times that L and I had shared in the park were so thick I had to brush them away from my face.

Which, of course, begs the question "Why are you thinking of L while you're having lunch with Shana?" - to which I'll reply that you should know by now that I'm an idiot.

The second thing I noticed is that by virtue of being in the company of an attractive woman, the other women in the area seemed to take more notice of me. It was as if Shana gave me credibility and confidence that I otherwise lacked.

Sadly, that doesn't carry over into other areas of my life. Since the lay-off, I seem to have become something of a pariah. It's as if unemployment - no matter how temporary - is communicable and they fear catching it. In fairness, I can understand how it would be difficult to explain to their significant others how they caught "lay-off" unless they were with someone who already had it.

I'm not complaining about it, particularly given that it's likely that I only notice the abandonment because I have so many hours to fill. Still, it's interesting to observe which people stay by your side when you're down and which ones ignore you no matter how much support you've given them.

And that. my friends, is one to grow on.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Backstory - Act I

Yesterday was my first experience with kayaking. My initial foray into the water resulted in the several vital lessons that I'll carry with me for the remainder of my life:

  • Make sure you have your balance before stepping into the kayak;
  • That rolling over thing looks really cool on television, but doesn't work so well when you're only halfway into the kayak when it tips - and when there isn't enough water to actually roll over in;
  • The weather is warm, but the water is still freezing.

As a result of that last lesson, I also learned that it's actually possible for a man's private parts to reascend entirely.

Next week, I'm being forced to try my hand horseback riding. With any luck, my 'man parts' will still be retracted from yesterday's ice water debacle and will be able to avoid the upcoming pounding that they're going to take.

Note to self: Start hanging out with someone who knows how to relax from time to time. I'm not sure how much more of this active lifestyle stuff I can take.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ironically, not having a job left me with less time to work on The Week in Pictures this week, so in lieu of that, here's 'The Week in Pictures (of Jasmie)'






I have no idea where she gets that sticking-out-her-tongue thing.


Oh...never mind.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Some time ago I wrote a post about the true story behind the election of Pope Benedict XVI. In my research for that entry, I wound up learning quite a bit about the Dean of the Sacred College of Cardinals and thought it would be interesting to share his story with you

The Dean sat back wearily. He'd known that the job of supervising the election of the new Pope would be a difficult one, but nothing could have prepared him for this. Now he understood why the more senior (and apparently much smarter) Cardinals had refused the 'honor'. He would have done the same thing had he been given a choice, but as it turned out he wasn't afforded that luxury. Silently, he cursed the circumstances that lead to his banishment to the Vatican all those years ago.

(Insert flashback-type sounds here)

Ironically, the day the Dean rued with such vehemence was the happiest day of 80-year-old Mrs. Delaney's life.

Of course she didn't know that at the beginning of the evening. Instead, she went about her duties as the church's cleaning woman with an air of resignation. The sole reason she'd taken the job in the first place was on the off chance that she might come across a young, horny - and perhaps slightly blind - priest that she might somehow be able to coerce into granting her one last, glorious chance to engage in intercourse. She did everything she could to enhance her chances, bending over seductively as she polished the pews and swaying her hips in a rhythmic and - she hoped - hypnotic fashion as she mopped the floor.

Sadly, her plan seemed doomed to failure. After working there for 15 years, she'd become such a fixture that the priests took no more notice of her than they did the worn floorboards along the aisles or the peeling paint on the walls. Even if they had paid her any attention, they would likely have concluded that she, like the church, was badly in need of an overhaul.

On this night, however, fate smiled upon her in the form of young Father Peterson, who was profoundly depressed over his failure to connect with his flock. Most recently, he'd tried to appeal to a younger demographic by calling the Lord "Big Daddy" re-naming Jesus "Dr. J", and calling the baptismal fountain the "dunking booth." Having incurred the wrath of the pastor and the scorn of the congregation, he felt completely ostracized from the community that he served. When he came to pray that evening, the lonely young man was putty in Mrs. Delaney's withered, arthritic hands.

After taking one look at the priest's face, she sprinted - or as close to sprinting as her legs would allow - into the vestry, grabbed a bottle, filled and refilled his glass with holy wine and listened with a sympathetic ear as he poured out his troubles. As the night wore on, she slid ever closer to him and eventually - and quite naturally it seemed - their lips met.

Not one to let an opportunity slip away - especially one she'd waited a decade and a half for - she clamped her onto his head like a vice and kissed him with a passion that would make a prostitute blush. Her poorly fitting dentures rattled loosely around her mouth (a fact that Father Peterson barely noticed and one that chalked it up to the same drunken stupor that caused the room spins that he was in the midst of experiencing) as their tongues wrestled for supremacy.

As so often happens when the narrator wants to skip a lot of the details, one thing lead to another and soon they found themselves making the proverbial beast with two backs in the third pew on the right.

Even had their judgment not been clouded by lust, neither would have expected anyone to wander into the church as it was generally deserted on weeknights. Unfortunately for them, Father O'Malley, who'd had a secret crush on Mrs Delaney ever since they met at a high school dance, was at that very moment making his way across the grounds.

Intermission (otherwise known as a chance to escape)

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Next Chapter

After a night spent in shell shock over the layoff, I awoke today and commenced networking. The hardest part about that was telling the layoff story to everyone that I spoke with. In short, it went like this;

I was asked to conduct a few layoff discussions yesterday afternoon. My boss had flown out from SF to be there since the NY office was in a period of low morale. At the end of the meetings, I dropped into his office to give him a quick summary, and was surprised to find the West Coast HR manager there. They said "We're sorry about the timing - especially considering the discussions you've had with the others today, but we're afraid that your position is included in the layoffs." They then began to work from the script that I'd written for the discussions before I interrupted by saying that I understood and that they needn't read the entire thing. A few platitudes later I was packing my boxes and wandering in a daze to the subway.

As a result of an overly generous divorce settlement - the result of my desire to end a sad chapter in my life and move on to what I'd hoped would be a happier time with a woman that I was deeply in love with - money is going to be very, very tight for a while. That said, the past is behind me and there's nothing to be gained by dwelling on it or becoming bitter about anything. I'm not the first to face disappointment in life, nor will I be the last. I'll just try to get through this as quickly as possible and with as much dignity as I can muster.

As would be expected, I've also spent the day hitting the various job sites and sending the resume to any openings that seem promising. I'm far from desperate so I'm not planning to jump on the first thing that comes my way. Erm...unless it's a really good job, that is.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
On the bright side, over the weekend I took some pictures of my niece Jasmine that I'm sure you're all anxious to see. Unfortunately, I'm in a few of them. That said, she's cute enough for both of us. I'll post them in the next day or so.

Favorite conversation with her:

Me: "What does a doggie say?"
Her: "Woof"
Me: "What does a duck say?"
Her: "Quack, Quack"
Me: "What does a frog say?"
Her: "Ribbit"
Me: "What does a cat say?"
Her: "Meow"
Me: "What does a horsey say?"
Her: "Giddy-up"

Monday, April 17, 2006

Uh-Oh


Let me begin with the caveat that if any of the people that work for my firm see this, I'd appreciate it if you would keep it quiet until everyone else has been notified.

I just got laid off. I'm one of a number of people that are in this boat firm wide, but somehow knowing that doesn't make it any easier. The rest are going to be told tomorrow.

I'd like to take a philosophical approach to this, and I probably will in a day or two, but right now I feel like I got kicked in the stomach. Financial burdens are the worst of it, and given the less-than-rich outplacement packages being offered, it's going to be rough going for a while.

I should be used to the fact that every time things look bright, they suddenly go dark but - idiot that I am - it's always a shock. I'll be around during the job search. Hell, what else do I have to do but send resumes and hope? But I can't tell you how much this sucks.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Week in Pictures XLI

Random Friday Thoughts:

By way of apology for a lackluster WiP to follow, let me tell you that I've been busier than a high priced call girl at a Republican Convention. Hopefully, things will slow down next week but it doesn't look that way.

That said, I have made some time to begin working on a new template which has received mixed reviews thus far ranging from "I love it! It looks like a well-decorated bachelor's apartment." to "GAH!" It still needs some work, but I'm interested in your opinions.

On a related note, I should probably get around to changing the blog title, too. When I started this blog, 'Random Thoughts from NYC' was intended to be a placeholder until I thought of something better. Just goes to show you that it's best to do things right the first time -like the old saying about home repairs goes "There's nothing more permanent than a temporary fix." Any suggestions?

Softball practice again this weekend and, of course, you're all invited. Because of Easter obligations that many of us on the team have, we'll be practicing on one of the fields near parking field one at Eisenhower Park beginning tomorrow at 10 a.m. I can't tell you how disappointed I was that none of you made it last week. A few more weeks like that and I'm going to have to take your names off of the roster.

My newest get rich quick scheme involves opening a store that caters only to the Passover needs of our Jewish friends. I'll call it Seder Joe's.

And with all of that out of the way, let's move on the The Week in Pictures.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


European scientists released new photos of Venus' south pole Thursday, revealing a swirling mass of sulfuric acid clouds powered by 220 mph winds.

No word on when they'll release pictures of Uranus.

Uranus...heh, heh, heh.

Ugh...sorry. Let's start over.


Rescuers used the jaws of life to save a Macedonian model after a freak orthodontics accident nearly claimed her life.


An entrant in the Best Dressed Racegoer competition at the Grand National meeting at Aintree Racecourse, Liverpool was disqualified for shoving a broomstick up the arse of a fellow contestant.


As this chilling computer generated side-by-side comparison shows, if Barry Bonds continues to use steroids, he will eventually turn into a shriveled up white man in a wheelchair.


In an attempt to lure famed Australian blogger and sandwich connoisseur Jen to London, Squiggle and Ultra have convinced Selfridges Department Store to begin selling what is is claimed to be the world's most expensive sandwich. Named the McDonald Sandwich, after it's creator, chef Scott McDonald, the ingredients are Wagyu beef, fresh lobe foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper and mustard confit, and English plum tomatoes, all packed into 24-hour fermented sour dough bread - and it sells for 85 pounds (US$ 148.33: euro 122.53)

Here's our video of the week - dedicated to an old friend - and incredibly special person - who is apparently going through some struggles at the moment.



In a daring early morning raid, authorities broke up a child tiger pornography ring.


Investigators were shocked to find that the stash also included pictures of underage orangutans in compromising positions.


A group of terrorists calling themselves Pooh-Qaeda released this picture of a hostage that they are believed to be holding somewhere in the Hollywood area.


The Ikea mascot is said to be heartbroken after her long time lover (left in above photo) was discovered to be nothing more than a man in a heart costume.


A police officer suffered massive injuries after a hazing incident in which his fellow officers sewed meat sprinkled with cocaine into the arm of his sweater prior to a K-9 demonstration.


This just in....Elmer Fudd has finally captured Bugs Bunny after the elusive rabbit made a wrong turn in Albuquerque.


Detroit superhero "Ball Guy" announced that he's changing his moniker after receiving thousands of e-mails from gay men who misunderstood the meaning of the name.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Interview Haikus

First Two Rounds:

As Caesar once said

I came, I saw, I conquered

On to the next round



Round Three:

My hopes had risen

But they, like everyone else

Have rejected me


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Worst. Lunch. Ever.

Yesterday I did a favor by going out to lunch with a friend of a friend. It was so God-awful that I shall hencefort refer to the experience as the 'Longest Hour of My Life' (LHOML). In fact, if it's true that when we die, our life flashes before our eyes, I now know at exactly which part I will get up to use the restroom and stop at the counter to replenish my popcorn and soda supplies.

About five minutes into the LHOML, it became abundantly clear why my friend had suddenly developed other plans in spite of the fact that the woman with whom I was eating lunch was only in town for the day.

I'll spare you the majority of the gory details, but these two conversation snippets will give you an idea of just how painful it was.

Conversation One:

Her: "At the dinner I wore a lovely Oscar de la Renta dress. It was an original, not off-the-rack. An associate have given it to me for free because it was left over when nobody bought it at an auction to support Italian orphans. I can't imagine why nobody bid on it because its a beautiful dress and a wonderful cause. "

Me: "So are you going to send a donation?"

Her: "No, because the auction is over."

Me: "But you can still donate..."

Her: "Yes, but I don't see the point because I already have the dress."

Conversation Two:

Her: "So this wonderful man decided that he was going to do everything he could to get me on that plane..."

Twenty minutes of non-stop talking later...

Her: "I was going to tip him $40 but then I thought better of it because he might be offended. I suppose I could write a letter. I don't know his name, but I can describe him. He's of African descent with those wonderful racehorse marathon runners legs. Although I don't know if that will help because so many Africans have those."

Me (groaning audibly): "Can we get the check over here, please?"

Monday, April 10, 2006

Langdon Speaks

Another weekend comes to a close and I find myself back at work and counting the days until the next one. It's amazing that five days of work can seem like twenty and that two days off can feel like two hours. A quick summary of the weekend would go as follows:

Saturday: Rainy and cold. Indoor rock climbing. Dinner and drinks.

Sunday: Sunny and cold. Softball practice. Post practice beers. Afternoon spent in post beer rehab of injured arm by a sadist who took great pleasure in telling me that the injury was due to my lack of physical conditioning - despite weeks of work on said conditioning with this individual. Still, it's hard to argue with the truth.

No word on the interviews from last week, which is probably not good news. I did get a call from the agency this morning, but they've yet to call me back and they didn't say anything about the next round so that doesn't bode well for my prospects.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The DaVinci Code: Robert Langdon Commentary

Chapter 1

Robert Langdon awoke slowly.

A telephone was ringing in the darkness-a tinny, unfamiliar ring. He fumbled for the bedside lamp and turned it on. Squinting at his surroundings he saw a plush Renaissance bedroom with Louis XVI furniture, hand-frescoed walls, and a colossal mahogany four-poster bed.

Where the hell am I?
RL: I have no idea why Dan Brown imagines he knows what I was thinking, but here’s what happened. I woke up and I knew exactly where I was. When I looked around, I was searching for the prostitute that I’d brought back to the room earlier that evening. When realized that she was gone, I checked the nightstand to make sure that she hadn’t taken my wallet with her.

And for the record, I have no idea the furniture was Louis XVI as I’m quite the Trading Spaces that Brown appears to be. In fact, most of the murders that took place in the book can be directly attributed to my late arrival as a result of Brown’s insistence that we watch the episode until “reveal.” What’s even worse is that he has an annoying habit of jumping up and down and squealing with joy whenever the homeowners hate the room.


The jacquard bathrobe hanging on his bedpost bore the monogram: HOTEL RITZ PARIS.

Slowly, the fog began to lift.

Langdon picked up the receiver. "Hello?"

"Monsieur Langdon?" a man's voice said. "I hope I have not awoken you?"

Dazed, Langdon looked at the bedside clock. It was 12:32 A.M. He had been asleep only an hour, but he felt like the dead.

RL: That’s another of the many “facts” that Brown got wrong. I’d gotten back to the room at 11:15 P.M. and there’s no way that I was finished with the hooker in 17 minutes. I’m as certain of that as I am of the fact that when she called me “projectile rapide” it was nothing more than a nickname derived from the French perception of Americans as gun toting cowboys.

"This is the concierge, monsieur. I apologize for this intrusion, but you have a visitor. He insists it is urgent."

Langdon still felt fuzzy. A visitor?

His eyes focused now on a crumpled flyer on his bedside table.

THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF PARIS
proudly presents
an evening with Robert Langdon
Professor of Religious Symbology, Harvard University

Langdon groaned. Tonight's lecture-a slide show about pagan symbolism hidden in the stones of Chartres Cathedral-had probably ruffled some conservative feathers in
the audience. Most likely, some religious scholar had trailed him home to pick a fight.
RL: Actually, I was worried that it might be her pimp.

"I'm sorry," Langdon said, "but I'm very tired and-"

"Mais monsieur," the concierge pressed, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper.

"Your guest is an important man."

Langdon had little doubt. His books on religious paintings and cult symbology had made him a reluctant celebrity in the art world, and last year Langdon's visibility had increased a hundred-fold after his involvement in a widely publicized incident at the Vatican. Since then, the stream of self-important historians and art buffs arriving at his door had seemed never-ending.

RL: No thanks to that idiot author, I might add. To be honest, I’d have preferred to go back to the quiet life, but his borderline hysterical novelization in “Angels and Demons” of what had been a fairly tame and routine Vatican visit to examine some documents had turned into a best-seller and ruined my life.

"If you would be so kind," Langdon said, doing his best to remain polite, "could
you take the man's name and number, and tell him I'll try to call him before I
leave Paris on Tuesday? Thank you." He hung up before the concierge could
protest.
RL: The main reason that I hung up was that there was a sudden intense itchiness in my groin area. Thankfully, Brown didn’t include my thoughts at the time, which where:

“Great. I think have crabs. Again.”

Sitting up now, Langdon frowned at his bedside Guest Relations Handbook, whose cover boasted:
SLEEP LIKE A BABY IN THE CITY OF LIGHTS.
SLUMBER AT THE PARIS RITZ.

He turned and gazed tiredly into the full-length mirror across the room. The man staring back at him was a stranger-tousled and weary.

You need a vacation, Robert.
RL: Actually, by this point I was thinking something entirely different - mostly involving killing off Brown before he could write his next book and further ruin my life. What made it worse was that I'd already heard rumors about a movie version of the book.

If that happened, I hoped that they’d cast someone like George Clooney or Brad Pitt in the lead role rather than, for example, Tom Hanks. I dreaded the thought of Hanks trying to grow some nauseating approximation of my slightly long and wavy, yet still very manly hairstyle.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Week in Pictures XL

Random Friday Thoughts:

In just a few hours, another week of alternating work-week hell and boredom will come to a merciful end and I'll be ready to enjoy two days of freedom. How will I spend it? I haven't a clue but after the business of the past few months, I'm looking forward to a restful weekend. Of course, as soon as I typed that, my phone rang with several options (or demands) regarding Saturday, so perhaps it won't be as quiet as I'd hoped.

Softball season begins shortly, so if you're looking for me on Sunday, you should be able to find me near Parking Field 1 in Eisenhower Park where our first practice begins at 9:30 a.m. I have to say that there's something about this time of year that is life affirming. Maybe it's the grass on the field; maybe it's the sound of a ball popping into a mitt; or maybe it's simply the first in a long line of consecutive Sundays where I'll be drunk by noon.

As I mentioned a few weeks back, researchers claim that capsaicin causes prostate cancer cells to kill themselves. I bring this up because yesterday I read an article indicating that ginger is able to destroy ovarian cancer cells.

Now you're all old enough to make your own decisions, but all I'm going to say is that what I now refer to as the "chili pepper incident" taught me that you should always seek advice from your doctor before going down the self-treatment path.

Still, no matter how much pain I was in that day, I'll be that it didn't even begin to compare to what this guy suffered through.

Que bonita bandera -- God, I wish I could get that song out of my head.

Now on to The Week in Pictures
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


An Opening Day at the Great American Ball Park was postponed indefinitely when it was discovered that President Bush didn't have an exit strategy for leaving the mound after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.


As part of the Catholic Church's efforts to attract a younger audience, the Pope has begun wearing a modified Mohawk.


In other hairstyle news, Tokyo stylists report that the troll doll look is sweeping the city.

Note: Sorry Grant, I don't have her number.


Millions of men abruptly stopped fantasizing about Brigitte Bardot after a recent public appearance by the former French film star.


Herpetologists believe that they may have stumbled across the reason for the popularity of male chameleons in the reptilian dating world.


While the hottest plastic surgery trend among the Hollywood crowd is jewel encrusted permanent smiles.


Speaking of plastic surgery, the new, improved, and now 99.9% synthetic Star Jones Reynolds returned to 'The View' this week after a brief absence while recovering from post-elective surgery complications.


It was later learned that former American Idol contestant Mandisa Hundley had the majority of Ms. Jones-Reynolds discarded fat injected into her in the hopes that it would bring her luck.


A model at the inaugural Lakme Fashion Week in Mumbai will be required to stand in place for the entire mating season after an endangered Paper-winged bird nested in her hair.


A recent study indicates that dogs in Monte Carlo enjoy the world's highest standard of living.

In keeping with our recent Shakira theme, here's our video of the week:

Note: Please bear with the 10 second commercial in the beginning. When you press play after the commercail is finished, you'll see the video. Of course, you can also just drag the "seek" bar all the way to the right, but then you'd get less Shakira and I think we can all agree it's just plain crazy to want less Shakira.

I realize that I posted this video a while back, but you have to love the way she moves - and I really like the song. I wonder if any of the apartments across the street are available?

Now let's pause for a public service announcement.


The hopes. The dreams. The promise of a better tomorrow. Each year, millions of stars die needlessly due to hunger.

Now just imagine: for just 52 cents a day - the cost of a cup of coffee - you could provide a star with the healthy diet that she deserves.

Won't you find it in your heart to adopt a star today?

Note: To the point raised by Blondie in the comments, please use this currency converter to calculate the coffee price for your specific area of the world.


A Taronga Zoo veterinary nurse was arrested this afternoon on charges of inappropriately fondling a Wandering Albatross.


Prior to the 152nd annual Boat Race against Cambridge, Oxford rowing President Barney Williams pleaded for compassion by shouting "I am not an animal! I am a human being! I...am...a man! "


After failed auditions for Syriana, Brokeback Mountian, and Crash, Pinhead - star of the Hellraiser movies - is toning down his look in an effort to attract more mainstream roles.


In business news, a street vendor in Jakarta is under investigation for false advertising after it came to light that he was selling chicken toes rather than chicken fingers.


Microsoft made it's long awaited foray into the cellular market by unveiling it's first cell phone this week.


And Victoria's Secret has designed a new line of Sumo thongs that are specifically designed to lift and separate.


In sports, a football match between Villareal and Inter-Milan was delayed for over two hours when a zombie came to life and clawed it's way out of the ground in the middle of the pitch.


And finally, the World Wildlife Foundation placed Wooden Elephants on the endangered species list with a warning that the beasts demise could impact energy conservation efforts since their droppings account for over 80% of the world's supply of firewood.