Milk bag

Does anyone else remember Milk in a bag?













I do. We got milk in a bag when I was kid. We even had that exact same pitcher to put it in, except ours was a kind of orange-red color, almost like ketchup.

We were talking about this at work today. It was the woman from Canada who brought it up. Everyone else, except for me and one other Canadian, was oblivious to milk in a bag. Is this a Canadian thing? And if so, why do I remember it form my childhood?

It does seem a bit odd, I suppose. I do remember it spilled easily, but then I spilled everything when I was a kid so…. Take me out to dinner and it was pretty much a guarantee that before the end of the night I’d spill my glass of water/pop/whatever, or someone elses.

I’d honestly thought they’d stopped producing milk in a bag, but apparently not.


West Virgina, almost home

When I was a kid I was always bummed at the end of a vacation (but hey, who isn’t, right) especially when the family would travel to West Virginia to visit relatives. That long drive home (7 to 8 hours with potty and food stops) felt grim, especially after Labor Day weekend, the weekend of the Clarksburg Italian Heritage Festival, which we attended quite often. My lone consolation was a pepperoni roll from D’Annunzio’s Italian Bakery, which we would stock up on along with Italian bread on our way out of town. But this most recent trip I was even more bereft than usual. I don’t know. Maybe I was just stressed because of the job interview I had the day after I returned. Also, I had to make sure that I returned in time to pick up Addy from her first day of school. This was the first year that I was not with her to take photos before she went off to school that morning. But with divorce comes a change in traditions.

I left early that morning. Up at 4:30am, after not getting to bed until 11:30pm because I was up late talking with my aunt, my mom’s twin sister, I headed out onto the road at 6am. It was still pitch dark out, and it was raining. It had been raining all day the day before and there was no sign it was going to let up on the day of my departure. It did not. I drove in the dark and steady rain on US 50, which winds and turns. I couldn’t make myself go more than 40 miles per hour. But before I hit Parkerburg the sun began to show itself and I found a place to stop and get gas. Gradually, as I headed north, the rain let up, and by time I hit Columbus, Ohio, it had stopped entirely. The clouds had parted and the sun shone through.

Despite the improved weather I was not feeling any better really. There was a part of me that just didn’t want to leave West Virginia, that part of me that, as a kid, believed that one day I would live there and marry a nice Italian girl and raise my family. Of course, living there would have been vastly different than visiting Clarksburg. Visiting meant running to the Dairy Mart for candy and Chilly Willy slushies and freeze pops and bubble gum; and hiking up town with my cousin, John David; and walking the railroad tracks, even over the trestle over the river; and running wild all over Northview, the section of Clarksburg where my relatives reside; and staying up very late, playing outside in the yard, chasing lightening bugs and whipping apples at each other and up in the air for circling bats to chase; and hanging out on the big back porch of 103 Hall Place. It was all fun. There was no work to be done, not by us kids anyway. Whereas living there would be like living anywhere else, full of work and responsibilities and bills to pay. And yet, I still wonder if I couldn’t be happy there, happier anyway.

What did it matter? My responsibilities waited for me in Michigan — my apartment and family and the need to find a job, and most importantly Addy, may daughter. How could I ever live two states and 8 hours away from her?

Addy did not make the trip to West Virginia with me this time, which was too bad. I was sorry she hadn’t. She had cousins down there that she could have played with. And of course all the relatives would have enjoyed meeting her. And I’m sure she would have enjoyed meeting them. Next year, I plan on taking her. That’ll be nice, and fun. And I bet it will make the return trip a bit easier. Don’t you?

It’s time to set the record straight…

…on Hostess Ding Dongs.

Because there seems be a lot of misinformation floating around out there. And since no one else seems to want to correct it I guess it falls to me to do so. But worry not — for I am up to the burden.

Of course, I understand why people don’t want to touch the Ding Dong with a ten-foot Twinkie. It’s contentious stuff. A real hot button issue. Politically slice-n-dicey, as it were (wasn’t it?). Not to mention chocolate covered and cream-filled. So, you know…

But me — I don’t shy away from such controversy. No sir. I meet it head on, and take a big old chomp out of it. In fact, I can actually stuff a hole Ding Dong in my mouth at once. Hm, perhaps that is why I was often mistaken as gay in my younger days. And here I thought it was because I was thin, fastidious about my hair (it was the 80s) and wore thin-wire-framed glasses. You just never know, do you?

Anyhoo…so here’s the real deal (with Bill McNeil — I loved News Radio and Phil  Hartman…ah, good times):

Ding Dongs was the original name for the chocolate covered, cream-filled, hockey puck-shaped Hostess confection, first introduce in 1967 ( the year I was born). There are those who seem to be under the impression that they were originally dubbed King Dons. This is not the case. In certain markets Dings Dongs were called King Dons to go with the character created for the sugary treat — King Ding Dong. I believe one of these markets was Michigan, at least where I lived in the southeast part of the state, just outside of Detroit, because I do recall them being called King Don’s, and for a long time I was under the impression that the original name for Ding Dongs was King Dons. But then I was educated in The ways of Hostess and now it is my duty to enlighten others.

But don’t bereive me. Prease, observe this comercerial.

And by commercial I mean the wikipedia page for Ding Dongs.

Because of course wikipedia is the definitive source for information, by which I mean the most easy to use and access, plus it’s free.

GenX crusader….really?

My wife just fwd me this article from NY Times Magazine.

Jamie Oliver, aka The Naked Chef dude, is evidence that GenX has it’s share of crusaders. And true to GenX form his mission is concecrete and entrepreneurial. He wants people to learn the joys of a homecook meal, and eat healthy. A more than worthy cause. And he’s more than succesfful at it to date.

Late night bowl of Lucky Charms

When I moved to Kalamazoo to attend grad school at Western Michigan, I moved into my first real apartment. Sure, it was a university apartment but it was removed from campus, a complex of units not at all like a dormitory, so you know, it qualifies. Anyhoo…one of the first things I did was go shopping and buy me some Lucky Charms cereal. We never really had it as kids. The closest we ever got to Lucky Charms, the Holy Grail of cereals as far as I was concerned as a kid anyway, was maybe Frosted Flakes, which are Greeeeat! Don’t get me wrong. But no marshmellows, so they can be only so great.

Now that I’m back in my own apartment, it seemed appropriate to indulge myself and buy a box of Lucky Charms cereal. And, like when I was living in Kalamazoo, a strange city, unable to sleep late at night, I’m having a bowl right now.  They’ve added a few new marshmellows since my early grad school days but it still tastes the same.

As of today, I’ve been in my solo pad apartment for one month. Funny, seems longer somehow, and yet the place doesn’t even come close to feeling like home. Not that it’s bad really. But I can’t escape the feeling of existing in a kind of limbo. Perhaps that has more to do with me then the place itself.

Who knows….

My favorite cereal

Over the weekend, my wife and daughter went shopping and brought me back a treat — Count Chocula cereal! Mmmmm. Sugar crack!

Actually, I’m pretty sure it was my daughter’s idea. She’s excited to be a vampire for Halloween this year. In fact, she wants my wife and I to be vampires as well. A vampire family. Which kind of puts a kink in my plans.

See, I was going to be “Cornelius” from Fight Club, which is one of the phony names that the Edward Norton characters uses when he goes “touristing” in self-help groups.

My plan was to wear khakis and a dress shirt and tie. Then use make-up to mess up my face, you know, like I’d been in a fight or whatever. And slap on one of those Hello! My name is __________ nametag stickers that they give you at any kind of lame function, especially in corporate cubeland. When people asked me what I was supposed to be I was going to say, “I’m a member of a club, but I’m not supposed to talk about it.” And then I ‘d see who gets it, i.e. who is cool, and who does not, i.e. who is not cool.

Of course, I’ll probably just end up doing the vampire thing, which is cool.

Anyhoo… my original point was that Count Chocula is not may favorite cereal, although I have been eating it and getting the jitters from the all the freaking sugar. Oh baby — sugargasm! Addy doesn’t really like it, she just likes to pick out the little marsh mellows, which is fine by me. I’d rather she didn’t eat that crap anyway.

My favorite cereal has to be Lucky Charms.

It’s is similar to Count Chocula, but without all the chocolate. Too much of a good thing, you know.

Actually, of the monster cereals I’m probably more partial to Frankenberry:

And Boo Berry:

However, it has been so long since I’ve had Fruit Brute that I’d need to do another taste test to confirm the precise order of my preference:

But back to Lucky Charms. I’ve long wondered what were the original marsh mellow shapes. I’d always intended to write General Mills to ask, but of course never did. Too much work. This was before the internet, google or wikipedia, which of course makes it easy to check. So why haven’t I until now? It boggles the mind.

According to wikipedia the original marsh mellows were “in the shapes of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers.” Now I can sleep at night.

And if you think that is a lot to write about cereal, check out the book Ceralizing America, which is actually quite fascinating.

Of course, you can’t really talk about cereal without talking about Saturday morning cartoons, at least not if you’re a GenXer, which I am. Duh! You know, I’ve often thought that would make a subtitle to the label Generation X: the cereal and Saturday morning cartoon generation. What do you think?

What’s your favorite cereal?

Cousin John tailgates UoI football game, throws bologna at passing females

Recently my cousin John, who lives in Iowa, sent me this email w/ picture:

I tailgated with this guy Robert last week. When he said he worked in the movies, I pitched him my idea about a comedy featuring doctors in the Korean War. After an hour of talking it over he said “You’re drunk and I keep telling you I tear ticket at the Iowa City Carmike Cinema” Then I fell over the keg and threw up. Incidentally Robert is the first person to ever beat me in a game of “Throw balogna slices trying to get them to stick to the legs of unsuspecting girls walking by in shorts”. He won 23 to 19. However, I redeemed my self by beating him 30 to 0 in the “Get the hell beat out of you by a girl that got balogna thrown at her” contest. That’s right!!! A shut out. Not only did every girl I hit with meat slap me stupid but 11 girls he hit preffered to stomp me bloody instead of him. That’s because I’ve got a way with the ladies. I’m not one to kiss and tell. So I’ll just say I still have no peripheral vision in my right eye and leave it at that. John

The Road – the movie

I’ve been searching pretty regularly on the web for info about the movie being made of Cormac McCarthy’s Pulizter Prize winning novel, The Road. I don’t know how missed this NY Times article. It’s from May.

It includes a couple of pics, which seem to be rare. I certainly cannot find a trailer yet. I’m really geeked about this movie, even more so than I was for No Country for Old Men, even though I knew, just knew, that the Coen brothers were a perfect fit for that novel.

Did find this image of a movie poster for The Road.

Looks like about what I imagined, reading the book.

The movie was largely shot in Pennsylvania. First, because it is one of the states that gives tax breaks to movie productions for shooting on location in the state. Also, apparently Penn afforded a variety of post-apocaplyptic locations that suited the story, including a stretch of abandon highway. Some shooting was also done in New Orleans, for obvious reasons.

The article also gives praise to the child actor that plays the 10-year-old boy in the movie. Kodi Smit-McPhee. Good news. The wrong child actor, and there are plenty of them, would have totally fucked this movie. I would have been even more pissed than I was at the crap movie that was made from McCarthy’s early, National Book Award winning novel, All the Pretty Horses. Stupid Billy Bob Thorton.

Release date for The Road is set for November 26, 2008. Ah, the perfect Thanksgiving movie — with characters that wander homeless are virtually always on the brink of starvation, and let’s not forget the caniabalism, even of infants. Somehow, I get the feeing that I’ll be going to see this one on my own. And I will gladly, as long as I don’t have to walk home from the theater alone in the dark. Eep!

Although Nov. 26 is the general US release date. It premieres at the Toronto Film Festival on, of course, Sept 11th.

Indiana wind farm

Very near the Illinois border I suddenly noticed off in the distance these huge wind turbines turning off in the distance turning in the wind. Just prior I had to slow down to allow a truck hauling some huge piece of equipment to back into a long drive way. From a distance the big piece of equipment looked almost missal-like and I wondered if there were any missal silos nearby. Of course, in retrospect it didn’t make any sense that a missal or part of a missal would be transported without some kind of governmental security escort.

The size of these three-bladed turbines was impressive, and I was perhaps a mile or so away from them. I decided to stop and take some pics, but I don’t think they came out very well. They certainly do not convey the massive size of these things.

You can barely see them. I wished I’d had a better camera. I could have driven closer but I’d already been in the car some 7 or 8 hours and I was only about half way there.

You can see them a little better here. I could certainly understand why this area was selected for a wind farm. The wind was strong and constant.

For this one I stood on the trunk of the car, hoping to get a better shot, but it didn’t really help much.

I got better shots of the road that I’d pulled off on to take the pics.

I’m not sure if this road was on my road map. It was unpaved, just a bed of crushed rock. And it was cool the way it appeared to disappear into the horizon. Something beautiful and foreboding about this image, don’t you think. Not sure if it is clear from this pic but the wind is really blowing the corn, which was perhaps waist high. I wondered what the view down this road would be like when the corn was at full height. Pretty cool I bet.

Here is another shot of the same road, closer to the ground POV.

And a view across the corn field.


Lunch in a small town

As I was approaching the Illinois border I stopped at — God, forgive me! — a WalMart, which I normally would not patronize but there precious little choices in those small towns, to buy a road map. I had the GPS and I knew the route I was taking but I still feel better if I have a paper map. Funny thing was they didn’t carry any Illinois road maps. They did have Ohio maps, though, which seemed strange since Ohio was all the way on the other side of the state.

Since I was there I grabbed a smoke turkey sub because I getting pretty damn hungry and the snacks I’d brought along — Fritos, Hersery kisses, little snickers bars, hard boiled eggs, apples, bananas — just weren’t cutting it anymore. Although I have to say that for long distance car rides hard boiled eggs are good — protein. And I decided to pop a squat in this sad little park to eat.

This deserted little park was right near the railroad tracks, on the other side of which was storage barn or some such structure. It would have been cool if a train had passed through but alas that did not happen

It had playground equipment but there were not kids playing. And it wasn’t as if there were no kids to play on it. In fact, right across the street (out of the pic off to the right), there was a house with three little kids but they were playing their backyard while the young woman (girl?) sat in a chair, reading a paperback book. It seemed to be a place where maybe teenagers hung out at night.

My lunch. If you think that sandwich looks good, think again. It wasn’t horrible. I ate it. But I would not recommend purchasing deli wares from WalMart. Or anything else of that matter.

Oh yeah. Something else. The clerk at WalMart that I asked if they carried road maps did not speak to me once. Not one word. She was not rude. She simply did not speak. She walked me to the road maps and pointed and then left. I wondered if she was mute or maybe deaf and didn’t like to speak. Or maybe she’d taken some vow of silence. She didn’t look like a nun or anything. Why would a nun be working at WalMart anyway? Maybe she simply found me annoying. Who knows.

I also recall that there was a John McCain political headquarters located in the store front in the downtown area.