Tuesday, July 31, 2012


My beautiful, talented, superlative-in-every-way wife is a former gymnast.  Twenty-plus years and two children later, it still shows.  Now, as some of you can attest, I am, to put it mildly, absolutely wild about her.  I would love her madly in any case.  However, the fact that all her awesomeness comes neatly packaged atop a pair of truly spectacular legs is certainly a delight.

Watching Olympic gymnastics is mandatory in our house.  I have little doubt that, had we the time and means, we would be there now.  We don't, though, so television it is. 

Even so, it would be difficult for the average, red-blooded, male-type person to watch these lithe beauties perform without... well... a question in mind.  Allow me to settle that now.

The answer is yes.

Yes, they are.

Respectfully Yours,


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Unhappy Camper

There's one in every house. 

It seems Mrs. Cricket has developed a passion for camping.  So have the kids.  Alas, I have not. 

Came home one day to find a good chunk of change had been dropped on tents, sleeping bags,  air mattresses and the like.  Uh-oh.  Not only did this show a degree of seriousness, it pretty much guaranteed a fair number of trips were in the works, if only to justify the expense.

Now, surprisingly, it's not that I don't know how to camp.  I'm actually pretty good at some things:  first aid, getting fires going, outdoor cooking.  I'm quite competent living in primitive conditions.  I'm really good at making do.

I just don't volunteer for it. 

I used to like it.  Way back when, camping meant a week-long party in the woods, far from the authorities and prying eyes.  I liked it then.  But that was different.  Back then, you just brought the basics:  tent, blanket, bread, peanut butter, jelly, instant coffee.  Smokes, lighter, booze.

And enough drugs to stop a stampeding herd of rhinos.

Good times... good times.

Sleeping on the ground with just a blanket was easy then.  My back was young and flexible.  And, of course, most nights by bedtime, you probably could have removed my appendix with a butter knife without so much as a whimper.

Not that it was all fun.  I could tell the story of how I got stung on the eyeball by a big nasty mountain wasp.  But I won't.  That sucked though.  Really.

Which kind of brings me to my main point.  I think our long-ago ancestors invented things like houses and cities for a reason:  a damn good reason:  namely, that sleeping in the woods kind of sucks and wouldn't it be nicer if perhaps things could be a little more comfortable?

Sometimes you just have to think these things through.

I once went mountain climbing with a woodsy-type friend.  It took us a good four or five hours to reach the top.  We sat for a while, catching our breath and enjoying the view.  He looked over to me

      Nice, huh?

      Yep.  Now where can I get a decent cup of coffee?

Well, he thought it was funny.  Me, not so much.

No, the only reason I go for it at all is that the kids like me, for some reason, and want me to come.  And it is cute, how much they like camping.  Their smiles almost make it worth it.  Almost.

I'll try and fake it for them.

Mrs. Cricket is the eternal optimist, who hopes every trip that this time I will catch the bug.  Bug(s), more likely.   This is the sort of thing I think about in the morning, as I wander down a country path, in a haze of gnats, looking for a place to do you-know-what.  Wondering why I went to so much trouble to be uncomfortable, and missing the frills of modern living.

Like flush toilets.  Or a decent cup of coffee.

At least where we're going it's only bugs I'll have to worry about, not bears, like last time.  See?  This is the kind of thing I'm talking about.  It's a well-established fact that a bear shits in the woods.  Stands to reason that I should do my bidness elsewhere.

The way I see it, it's like anything else.  Some people like anchovies.  Other people like camping.  Mrs. Cricket does not like chocolate.  Fine.  That's perfectly reasonable.  She doesn't like chocolate.  I do not expect her to eat it.  It's just a matter of taste, not a character flaw.  To me, camping is something you do when you need to.  You don't just pack up and drive to another part of the state that looks just like where you already live to sleep on the ground for a few days.

I know I can't be the only one.

For me, in a perfect world, "roughing it" would mean going for the four-star hotel, or taking a room without a sweeping panoramic view of Paris, or getting just the filet, not the surf-and-turf.  See?  I can make do. 

But for now I'd settle for a flush toilet and a decent cup of coffee.

Respectfully Yours, 



Monday, July 16, 2012


It's too hot today, and that's all there is to it.  Now I know some folks scoff at 90-plus degree weather.  And I get that.  Really, if you live in hotter climes, either "more power to you" or "that's your funeral."  Take your pick.

No, where I live, 90-degree weather is hot, and 60-degree ocean water is warm, and that's just how it is.

A digression:  I once sat behind a vacationing family at Nauset Beach.  I don't know where they were from.  Apparently someplace warm.  They had a sweet looking girl of about nine.  She excitedly ran down for a swim.  Dove right in.  Then practically shot straight up out of the water...

     "Shit!  Oh, SHIT!  HOLY SHIT!!!"

Her family was too busy laughing to reprimand her.

Anyway, when it gets this hot, I have an industrial fan to cool things down.  Some people have low, medium, and high.  My fan goes to 11.

But I don't want to talk about the heat.  I want to talk about jello.  If you happen to be from Utah, you can skip the rest, because you probably know all this.  Otherwise, I've been making this dessert a lot, mostly because I've been doing Atkins and it's about the only sweet I can eat.  Even so, it's gotten good reviews across the board.  I make it with sugar-free jello, but you wouldn't have to.  I've also seen something similar made with Cool Whip, but I think my version makes jello almost decadent.

Almost.  It's still jello.   But anyway...

Creamsicle Jello

2 boxes orange jello
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract.
Extra cream for whipping

Dissolve the jello in 2 cups boiling water.  Add the vanilla, 1 cup of cold water, and the cup of cream.  Stir well.  If you didn't do this in the dish you plan to chill it in, you should have thought of that earlier.   But anyway, pour it in (or not) and chill 3 or 4 hours.

I suppose you could pour the mixture into individual parfait cups if you really wanted to make this look like more work than it really is.  Just a thought.

Whip some cream after your fashion.  Cut the jello into cubes and serve.  It will have separated into a creamy top layer and a jello-y bottom layer.  I don't know how it knows to do this.  It just does.  Top with whipped cream.  Don't cheat.  Whip the cream yourself, it makes a difference.

You should wind up with something like this.  If you like creamsicles, you'll like this.  If you don't like creamsicles, you should have stopped reading about 20-odd lines ago.  Really.  You might keep that in mind for next time.

Respectfully Yours,


Monday, July 9, 2012

Six-Inch Boner

Ok, maybe you think a six-inch boner is nothing to shout about?  I beg to differ.

So it went down like this.  I was working inventory at Jordan Marsh in the 80s.  Now this was back before scanner guns, computer assisted ordering, and just-in-time delivery;  back when stores actually kept huge amounts of backstock.  And, after a while, perhaps after a manager or two had been promoted or fired, nobody had any idea what was out back anymore, and they had to send a team of people to find out.

Each night, we'd head to the stockroom, armed with a pen and a thick sheaf of paper, to climb up into the storage bins and write down what we found there.  For every item, you had to write the item description, exactly as it was printed on the package, followed by the item code.

My partner Sean and I took turns climbing up into the bins, which were usually pretty filthy.  One of us would shout down the information, the other would write it down.  You never knew what you would find.  Some bins might have only two or three large items.  Others were full of little things.  It could take hours if that happened.

So I climbed up into a bin.  It was full of cutlery.  Shit.  We're going to be here all night.  I picked up the first item and smiled.

Sean, you ready?


Six-inch boner!


No.  Really.  Six-inch boner... 34580-62374.



There were hundreds of them.  And that's how I came to spend an entire evening shouting out "SIX-INCH BONER!"

Respectfully Yours,