Thursday, August 31, 2006


If anyone happened to see a fifty-something guy gimpin' and limpin' through O'Hare like a ninety-something old man last week...that would have been me.

I had a gout attack while on a business trip to Chicago...let me tell you it hurts like a bitch...and haven't been able to shake it yet. I've pretty much been out of commission since last week...the pain has been debilitating and has rendered me virtually brain dead...too painful to even make a post.

The original medication didn't work the way the docs expected...should have resolved the problem within three I had to go back again today and wait a few hours for them to try something else. That makes two visits to my doc this week and a trip to the emergency room last week...and about a day and a half of cooling my heels in waiting rooms. I normally need that frequency of medical help over the course of four or five years. On the bright side, I've done a year's worth of magazine reading...everything from Fortune to Ladies Home Journal.

For those who may be interested, gout is now considered to be a form of arthritis. It occurs when uric acid in the blood crystalizes and settles in the joints...usually in the big toe...that's a pretty good drawing (above) of what my right toe looks like...but sometimes in the ankle, and less frequently, in the knee. It is extremely painful...I have a very high pain threshold, but have never had to endure anything like this :-(

Gout has sometimes been called 'rich man's disease' or the 'disease of kings' because doctors once thought it came from eating a very rich diet...doesn't hold true in my case since my diet is very Mediterranean and low in fats. Now, they think it can be triggered by a number of different kinds of foods as well as alcohol...hmmm, wonder if it could be the two bottles of red wine I manage to make disappear each day?

According to Wikipedia, there have been many famous people who have suffered from gout. One of the most famous sufferers of gout was Henry VIII. Others include John Calvin, Khubilai Khan, Nostradamus, John Milton, Queen Anne, Isaac Newton, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Charles V, Pablo Neruda, Alfred Lord Tennyson, George IV, John Hancock, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, Benjamin Disraeli, Kirk Reuter, David Wells, Rubens, Lennart Torstenson, Peter Gomes, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, Benjamin Franklin, David Klein, Jared Leto, Badabing and Charles Bodycote.

Now, excuse me while I go scream.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

N'Italian Lessons 101 --- Music To My Ears

Miss Cellania recently put a link to my original N'Italian lessons on another blog and said she would love to hear how I sound. To hear what happens when someone still doesn't get it after I've explained things several times, click here. To hear how I react to getting a lawyer's outrageous bill, check out the audio here.

More words like these can be found in my buddy J.D. Cannon's fast-moving suspense novel Just By Chance...rated 5 Stars on Amazon. Mobsters, a beautiful high-class escort, and a sexy tropical setting...what could be better than that?

Check it on the cover image or here to learn more.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

N'Italian Lessons 101

Several weeks ago I was at a family function in New York. On the way home I was talking to my wife while waving my hands, making faces, and using words and phrases that cracked her up. She astutely pointed out that, whenever I'm in the same room with my relatives for more than five minutes, I make an interesting transition from the well-spoken Ivy League-educated hornster that I usually am to someone who is straight off the set of a Sopranos episode. My first reaction was to throw up my hands and reply "Whaddya talkin?" Her response was a simple "See...that's what I'm talking...about."

Of course, she was right. So, being the ever-inquisitive hornster, I started thinking about this. Here are my conclusions:

In the New York - New Jersey area in particular, many people of Italian-American descent have developed their own version of Italian slang, that I'll call N'Italian. Granted, some of the slang is a pretty brutal bastardization of la bella lingua, but, I grew up with them so they are near and dear to my heart. Some words and expressions have many variations in spelling. For example, the letters 'c' and 'g' are often used in place of one another. Some also have multiple meanings…so hand gestures, facial expression, and body language are often needed to make an accurate interpretation of context…these will be the subject of a future post. They also have their own English slang expressions...that too will be the subject of another post.

Here are a few samples of what I'll call N'Italian 101...a N'Italian/English dictionary of sorts:

gabagool. This is pronounced ga-ba-'gool. It's slang for cappicola, a highly seasoned type of ham that is a popular cold cut.

proshut. This is pronounced pro-'shoot. It's slang for prosciutto, a salt-cured type of ham eaten as a cold cut and used in Italian cooking.

madonna. Pronounced madonn' or mah-'dawn. The literal meaning is 'virgin mary' or 'mother of God,' but its slang meanings are "Oh no!" or "That's too bad" or "Holy shit!" A variation is the expression madonna mia. Sample usage:

Paulie: "Tony, I'm stuck in friggin' traffic, so I'm gonna' be late for the meetin'.
Oh yeah. And I forgot to pickup the gabagool and proshut."

Tony: "Madonn', what the hell else is gonna' go wrong today?"

ming. Pronounced ming'. Often used as a substitute for madonna.

goomah. Pronounced goo-'mah or coo-'mah. This means 'girlfriend,' but it must be used in the proper context. If you're single and have a girlfriend, she's your goomah. Your wife or fiance is NOT your goomah. If you're married or engaged, a goomah is someone you're seeing on the side.

stunad. Pronounced stew-'nod. A person who is stupid, thick, dense. Sample usage:

"I tell him how to do it five times, and he still screws it up. Ming, what a friggin' stunad."

oobatz. Pronounced oo-'botz. It means 'crazy' or 'you're crazy.' Sample usage:

"Friggin' shyster sends me a bill for five grand. I call him up and say 'You think I'm gonna pay this? Oobatz.'"

stugats. Pronounced stew-'gotz. It means 'balls' or 'big balls' or 'you've got some balls.' In the Sopranos, Tony's boat is named Stugats.

fancul. Pronounced fon-'gool. It means to 'go f--- yourself' or 'f--- yourself up the a--.' Variations include va fancul and a fancul.

fanuk. Pronounced fa-'nuke or fi-'nuke. A guy who is gay. Think Vito in the last few episodes of the Sopranos.

In a future post, I'll put these together with some English slang expressions and body language. That's all one needs to carry on a basic conversation.

More words like these can be found in my buddy J.D. Cannon's fast-moving suspense novel Just By Chance...rated 5 Stars on Amazon. Mobsters, a beautiful high-class escort, and a sexy tropical setting...what could be better than that?

Check it on the cover image or here to learn more.

Badaboom Badabing...

If you enjoyed this post you might like to hear what some of these expressions sound like over here.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

On My Feet Again...And On The Road Again...

Had a relapse of my back problem the day before yesterday, so I was too miserable to post anything. Today, I'm still in some pain, but it's not too, I'm back on my feet again.

After taking two weeks off...and not getting anything done, except putting up this blog...I'm also back on the road. In fact, I'm sitting in the airport as I write this post. Figured I'd get here extra early due to the security delays the news media have been reporting. Turned out there was less of a delay than I normally run into.

I did have to check my bag though, since I had toothpaste and after shave lotion. It was probably the first time I've checked luggage in more than five years. So, if it gets lost I'll just have to show up for work in jeans, a Tommy Bahama shirt, and a scruffy beard. I'm just hoping that it's as smooth on the return trip, or I'll get home at midnight on Friday instead of at dinner time, since I have a pretty tight run for the airport.

Still have that damn writer's block, so I couldn't think of anything much better than this to post. Oh well, at least I've got the new James Patterson book, Judge & Jury, to read on this trip...maybe it'll give me some much needed inspiration.

Ciao for now.

Friday, August 11, 2006

It Only Hurts When I Breathe...

Shit…I threw my back out the other night and the pain is getting worse. I wish I could say it happened while trying out a new position from the Kama Sutra, but then I'd be lying…or fantasizing…possibly even praying :-) Truth be told, it had something to do with water, a tub and a malfunctioning mug (aka toilet bowl). Hurts like a bitch…but there's not much can be done, short of going to the doctor (and waiting in an excruciatingly uncomfortable chair for an hour or two) and have him prescribe something that will knock me out. I prefer suffering to drugs…I think I heard somewhere that it builds character.

Of course, I'm doing stuff I probably shouldn't be doing…like walking up and down stairs, driving a standard shift sports car, sitting in Starbucks in a squishy chair, etc.

Speaking of Starbucks, that is where I am right now. Writing this, sipping my espresso, and leering at the women…hey, that's what dirty old men do, right?

Anyway, there's a woman sitting about four feet from me. Her back is facing me. She's wearing those low cut jeans that almost expose the butt cheeks, a short tank top, and a thong. It's one of those thongs that stick out above the top of the jeans and lead your eye downwards…smack dab to the crack of her you know what. Now, normally, I'd be overjoyed at a sight like that. But, in this case, the woman is a good fifty pounds overweight and the stretch marks on her ass are competing with the anti-collision green thong. She keeps leaning forward…exposing more crack and more stretch marks. Yuck.

I'd change my seat, except for the pain that would ensue…and the fact that a couple of svelte-looking babes just sat down at a table in front of me. So…I must remain where I am…for medicinal purposes. Hey, gotta' have something to take my mind off the pain. Of course, I could always surf over to and read about the teenager who was arrested after police found his mother's body stuffed in the freezer. Guess which alternative I'm gonna' pick?

Badaboom Bada … ouch … Bing!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Where is The Love? ... Or Something Like That

Okay. I was going to write this post yesterday but I thought my dilemma would blow over. It hasn't. Actually, I was going to post about it a week ago, but decided not to since I thought it would blow over. It didn't. In truth, the main reason I started this blog...about a week ago...was to help me get over it. I haven't. Friggin' writer's block.

The weather has been great, my days have been starting off with nice long walks and strong espresso, but I'm not getting diddly squat done. Writing, I mean. I've had the last two weeks off from my normal routine of hopping planes, etc., and my goal was to knock off a few chapters of the novel I started writing two years ago. I'm about half way through the first draft, and have lost my focus…not about what to write…its about sittin' my boney ass down and doin' some work…just doin' it. Having this chunk of free time should have been a blessing. Instead, it's giving me great pangs of guilt.

Funny thing is, when it comes to work-related tasks, I am so uber-focused and disciplined that my wife says it gets downright scary. Bombs can explode next to me and I would ignore them; the phone can ring and I won't answer it; I can sit at the computer for six hours straight without so much as a potty break; the only thing that occasionally takes me out of the zone is the dog…shivering, legs crossed, wearing the "I gotta' pee" face, and nudging me with her cold nose. And even this would happen less frequently if I wasn't forced to notice the little yellow stains on my carpet every day.

Of course, I get paid for the work-related stuff. The book is just a labor of love.

Have I lost the love?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gobble Gobble --- And Other Presidential Gestures

Now, I don't usually write about politics, religion or sexual persuasion, but my wife emailed me this clip today, and I just can't help but post it. Besides, it gave me a great idea for a post I'll make in the next few days. Click here to play it.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Tutti a Tavola a Mangiare --- Stuffed Shells

My daughter, her boyfriend, and the doggies came over for dinner the other night, so I cooked an old family recipe, Stuffed Shells. I don't usually cook food as rich as this, but I hadn't made it for years. The wife gave me the hint that it was time to make it again when she came home with the pasta shells, so I figured...what the hell...have it once in a while and it won't kill ya'. There's a lot of ingredients, but it's really pretty simple to make.

Badabing's Stuffed Shells

Tomato Sauce
1 1/2 28 oz. cans of tomatoes
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp oregano

1 1/4 lbs ricotta cheese
6-8 oz. mozzarella cheese
1 Tbs grated parmesan cheese
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 box jumbo shells, usually 12 oz.


Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Boil 6-8 quarts of water. Add salt if desired.

Make Sauce

Heat the oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add onions, garlic, and bay leaf. Saute until onions & garlic are soft.

Crush the tomatoes, if necessary. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and oregano. Simmer slowly on low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes to an hour. You may need to add some water if sauce gets too thick.

Use the best tomatoes you can find...they don't have to be imported. I use Muir Glen organically grown tomatoes.

Please, please, please...don't use pre-made, pre-jarred sauce...or my grandmother will rise from the dead and smack your lazy ass with the back of her wooden spoon.

By the way, this is actually a good general-purpose recipe for tomato sauce that one can use with many different pasta dishes.

Make Filling

Add the ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan and parsley to a large bowl and mix until all ingredients are blended together.

Add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly.

Cook Pasta

Cook the pasta for 12 minutes, or follow the instructions on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water.

Stuff The Shells

Stuff the shells with the filling.

Arrange & Bake

Oil a baking dish large enough to hold the shells in one or two layers.

Spread some of the sauce in the dish.

Add a layer of shells & cover with sauce. Repeat as required. Sprinkle some more grated parmesan over the top.

Bake at 350 degrees, covered, for 30 minutes. Bake an additional 15 minutes uncovered.

Serve with a simple green salad, dressed with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a nice red wine. We had a bottle of Valiano Chianti Classico 2003 with this dish. Mangiare and enjoy.

Peeping Tom

Badaboom Badabing

This memory was triggered by Duke_of_Earle's comment to yesterday's post. It is a true story.

The year was 1962, the Duke of Earl song by Gene Chandler was at the top of the charts, and I was in the ninth grade. My buddies…Eddy, Joey, Billy, Jerry…and I would sing this song as we walked the streets at night. I remember one night in particular when we were doing this on our way to a school dance.

Earlier that night, I was finishing up my paper route. It was late Winter, early Spring, because it was still dark out when I finished up. A girl I went to school with, but never really new except by name…I'll call her Cyndie...lived in the last house I delivered to. My paper route was in the wealthy part of town and I lived on the other side of the tracks. Cyndie was considered upper class, so boys in my caste didn't have a shot with someone like that, which is why I only knew her name but didn't really know her. The lights were on inside the house and I could see inside through the small windows that flanked both sides of the front door. As I bent down to put the paper under the doormat, I saw that Cyndie was standing just inside the front door, talking on the phone...wearing only a pale pink bra and matching panties! Boing! (that's guy talk) Of course, nowadays she'd be wearing a push-up bra and thong…or maybe just a thong...but back then the girls didn't have too much of a style choice when it came to lingerie, so far as I knew. Her panties went below the butt cheeks and just up to the navel. As I write this I have a crystal clear recollection of exactly what they looked like. Though they left much to the imagination by today's styles and standards, in those days I had a bigger imagination (and a few bigger other things) than I do today, and I had no problem visualizing what I thought would be under that silky fabric. Double boing!!

There I was caught like the proverbial deer in the headlights…frozen still, knowing I'd be in deep shit if someone caught me…but, damn, this was the closest to a real live naked woman that I had ever been. No way in hell was I going anywhere. I don't recall how long I stood there…could have been a minute…could have been 15 minutes, but when I left I was nine parts stimulated and one part relieved that I hadn't been caught. And of course, I couldn't wait to tell my buds what I had just seen.

So, later that night the boys and I are walking up to school to attend the dance, singing and practicing our dance moves under the street lights. Our singing and dancing that night was particularly fueled by the peeping tom incident that I shared in exhaustive detail. Each one of us took turns struttin' our stuff in the spotlight…actually streetlight…as the others chanted "Duke, Duke, Duke, Duke of Earl, Duke, Duke" and bragged about how our moves were going to lead to gettin' some from the girls we would soon be picking up at the dance. Our moves mostly involved obscene pelvic gyrations and seductive facial expressions, that we honestly believed would get us laid. To most people, these moves probably more closely resembled someone who had just been kicked in the nuts and was simultaneously battling a severe case of constipation.

We get to the dance, full of testosterone and anticipation, trying to look cool. The girls were bunched up on one side of the cafeteria, the guys on the other, and some non-descript band was playing…badly…and too loudly (in retrospect)...on stage. Whatever bravado we had disappeared to the first beat of the music. Only a few very brave souls crossed the chasm and asked a girl to dance…and only when a slow dance was being played. Ultimately, our conversations turned from sex to where we wanted to go for pizza after the dance.

The band announced the next dance would be a ladies choice, and it was like a general had just announced "charge" to his troops. A sea of pastel dresses confidently crossed the chasm and invaded our ranks. Some of us smiled, some looked around, and some looked at the floor. Anything to avoid eye contact. Someone tapped me on the shoulder. It was Cyndie..."Hi paperboy. Would you like to dance?"

Fortunately, or so I thought, they played a slow one. We danced, but didn't talk. I made minimal eye contact, but she was looking straight at me, smiling, the whole time. From the corner of my eye I could see my friends…watching us, laughing, and elbowing each other. Of course, you know where my thoughts eventually drifted…make that immediately drifted. Holy shit, I was dancing with the girl in bra and panties. I could hear my heart beating and feel something else throbbing. All in all it probably took ten seconds for the testosterone to go to work. This became a bit embarrassing as my manliness…no, make that boyliness (yes, I know it's not a real word)...pressed against her. Surprisingly, she didn't seem to mind.

The song finally ended. She looked me in the eye, smiled, and said "Thanks. I never knew you were our paperboy before."

Badaboom Badabing...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

So Many Colors In The Rainbow

I'm not completely sure why I decided to make this post. Maybe it was because I said something a few days ago in my lecture (I teach grad school part time), and I overheard a student during one of the breaks tell the person next to him how much time and trouble what I shared will save him at work. That probably triggered a bunch of snap, crackles, and pops that eventually bubbled-up the memory of a song fom my subconscious.

The song is about...well, just read the words and you'll figure it out. It was written by Harry Chapin, a musician and poet, one of my favorite artists of all time, who died tragically in the 70's, well before his prime. He had a gift for taking real life situations and composing songs that captured both the situation and the emotions. He put this song to music, but I actually prefer the words alone. I won't tell you how it makes me'll know when you read it.

Flowers Are Red, by Harry Chapin

The little boy went first day of school
He got some crayons and started to draw
He put colors all over the paper
For colors was what he saw
And the teacher said.. What you doin' young man
I'm paintin' flowers he said
She said... It's not the time for art young man
And anyway flowers are green and red
There's a time for everything young man
And a way it should be done
You've got to show concern for everyone else
For you're not the only one

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

Well the teacher said.. You're sassy
There's ways that things should be
And you'll paint flowers the way they are
So repeat after me.....

And she said...
Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than they way they always have been seen

But the little boy said...
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one

The teacher put him in a corner
She said.. It's for your own good..
And you won't come out 'til you get it right
And all responding like you should
Well finally he got lonely
Frightened thoughts filled his head
And he went up to the teacher
And this is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen

Time went by like it always does
And they moved to another town
And the little boy went to another school
And this is what he found
The teacher there was smilin'
She said...Painting should be fun
And there are so many colors in a flower
So let's use every one

But that little boy painted flowers
In neat rows of green and red
And when the teacher asked him why
This is what he said.. and he said

Flowers are red, green leaves are green
There's no need to see flowers any other way
Than the way they always have been seen.

If you've ever had a special teacher, one that taught you how to really think and/or nourished your creativity, please silently thank him or her now.

I've had the good fortune to have had a few wonderful teachers. Two come to mind as I write this post...thank you H.Zagor and M. Laudante for teaching me how to see all the colors.