Friday, November 21, 2008


One of the many great pleasures of being married to my wife is that we laugh a lot. Sometimes we actually laugh with each other instead of at each other.

Sure, there are the occasions where gender-oriented issues come into play. As I was getting dressed one morning, the conversation went like this:

her: That underwear is so worn you can see the elastic around the waistband.
me: Yeah.
her: YEAH?!?
me: ?
her: When I tell you something like that, it's not just to get an acknowledgement! I want you to do something about it!
me: ?
her: Throw. Them. Away.

At this point, I'm sure I was looking at her as if she had just told me to fly to the moon and bring home a hunk of cheese. There's a brief pause while I stare like a drooling idiot.

her: You're such a guy.

The term guy, said in that context and with that inflection, is roughly equivalent to leper, serial killer, or lawyer. In case you're wondering, I threw the underwear away.

Occasionally we ask each other to review some work papers or other things in progress, just to have a second pair of eyes on it. A while back, she asked me to look over a couple of blog posts she had started.

me: "Its" shouldn't have an apostrophe in it here.
her: OK.
me: ...or here.
me: You don't say "might of", you say "might've" or "might have".
me: What?
her: Are you trying to irritate me? Because you're doing a pretty good job.
me: What?!
her: I wanted you to look over it for content. Is it funny?
me: It's OK.
me: What!!!

We spent some time discussing the content. I have no idea how, but at some point we went off on such a tangent that we got away from blogs entirely, searched this out on YouTube, and giggled occasionally while watching it on her laptop.

It's not unusual for our conversations to take such twists and turns.

Sometimes we actually try to make each other laugh. It usually works. We're on the couch, her head lying on my lap, I'm stroking her hair, things are lovely and peaceful and all is right with the world.

her: I can see right up your nose.

Or when she's away on a business trip and we're having a phone conversation:

her: What do you do there in that big house all by yourself?
me: I tie a big towel around my neck and run around the house naked with my arms stretched out in front of me while saying whoooooooshhhhhh!

The really funny thing is that she thought I was kidding.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Johnny Winter at The Birchmere

Johnny Winter played at the Birchmere Saturday night. I was there. I had been warned that he didn't look good. A friend of mine told me that if I thought Keith Richards looked bad, it was only because I hadn't seen Johnny Winter lately.

Still, I was not prepared for what I saw. Mr. Winter came out from back stage with a bent-kneed, shuffling gate. He was wearing his trademark black hat and T-shirt. When he entered the lights of the stage, I saw a jowly, wrinkled, doddering old man who needed to be helped to his chair. He looked two decades beyond his 64 years. When he spoke to welcome us, he sounded as old has he looked. I gritted my teeth and steeled myself for the disappointment of seeing an old man who was selling tickets only because he was a legend.

And then he picked up a guitar.

Oh my God. For the next hour and a half his fingers danced on the strings of that guitar so fast that I often couldn't follow them. His voice seemed to get stronger with every song he sang. He opened with the classic "Hideaway". We heard "Johnny Guitar", "Black Jack", Jimi Hendrix' "Red House", Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited", The Stones' "I Used To Love Her", and so many others. At the end of each song, the house was on their feet. Even though the fake "end of show leading to a demanded encore" was less convincing than usual (apparently they didn't want to make Mr. Winter walk down and then back up the ramp, so he just stood to the side and chatted with the stage manager), the crowd was clapping and chanting his name until he sat back down and did a couple of closing numbers.

At the end of the evening when the lights finally came up, I was aware of three different sensations: 1) My jaw hurt because I'd been smiling and sometimes laughing with joy for the past 90 minutes, 2) my ears were ringing - first time a concert has caused that sensation in a lot of years, and 3) I really, really, really had to go to the bathroom. I'm guessing that I had needed to go for some time, but I wasn't about to miss a note of this show.

Afterward, there was a line at the tour bus. There wasn't going to be a "meet and greet" as there so often is at The Birchmere, because apparently Mr. Winter simply wasn't up to it. Still, he agreed to sign autographs. We stood in line for half an hour or so, handed our concert card and CD insert to the stage manager who disappeared into the bus with them, and they came back autographed.

Best concert I've been to in years. If you ever, ever get a chance to see Johnny Winter in concert, I strongly recommend that you do it before it's too late.

I leave you with these:

Highway 61 Revisited

Jumpin' Jack Flash

(Why yes, I do believe that is Rick Derringer playing that other guitar. How clever of you to have noticed.)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I know a lot of you out there help your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc., with technology-related issues. You may want to forward this along to them:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sometimes I Draw More Than Flies

I have mentioned once or twice that I do a little art. I've said in the past that I'd never put anything I've done out on the interwebs because that basically gives it away to the world.

After mentioning it once before, there was an overwhelming flood of comments asking to see some of it. Well, OK, one person indicated in a comment that she'd like to see it. Given that request and given that I'm a narcissist, I decided to rescind my rule and share with you some of the things I've done, since I suspect I won't be giving these away or trying to make a buck off of them.

A couple of caveats: 1) All of my best work has either been sold, given as gifts, or is framed and hanging on my walls. Things that are framed and hanging on my walls do not photograph well nor do they work with my scanner. Therefore what you'll see here is not necessarily what I consider my best stuff. 2) Speaking of my scanner, it's a little, inexpensive, HP thingy that only goes to about 8 1/2 x 14. Most of the work that I do is somewhat larger than that. 3) And still speaking of my scanner, please bear in mind that as it's a small, inexpensive, HP thingy, the quality and color that it provided when I scanned these may not necessarily be reflective of the actual piece.

OK, now that I feel that I've sufficiently given myself a long enough list of outs in case these are badly received, on to the drawings.

First, I really like flowers. This is a rose that I thought was just about perfect when I cut it. It's done in colored pencil on aqua-colored art paper:

I also love to work in pen & ink. Next up is an old friend of mine from The Carnivore Preservation Trust in black ink on white bristol board:

They say that the mark of a good portrait artist is that the portraits look better than the subjects do. I don't do many portraits because I'm almost never happy with the results. Never the less, here's a photo of Meryl Streep:

And here's a pointillist piece that I did of her many years ago. I think that it's still recognizable as Ms. Streep, but it's a complimentary image:

I've probably never mentioned this in my blog, but I really love dragons. This is one of the earliest pieces I ever did, again back to the colored pencil:

And one of my very few forays into the land of watercolor was another shot at a dragon:

Finally, a couple of years ago I for some reason got enamored with tree frogs. They're colorful and they're cute, and I ended up doing a series of 12 or so of them. Here are a few:

If you got this far, thanks for taking the time to look. If you don't care for them, I've already got my excuses (see above). I haven't actually created anything in some time. Perhaps this will inspire me to sit back down at the old drawing table and crank out some more stuff.

We'll try to get back to our usual inanity in the very near future.

You owe me cookies. You know who you are.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008 - Part 4

Hi folks, and welcome to the fourth and final installment of Gilahi's Gift Guide for 2008, featuring gifts you may remember from your youth.

Those of you who follow this blog via a Google Reader or some other method may have seen part 4 show up on Sunday. This is because we at the Gilahi Blog are technical dimwits who don't know the difference between a day and a year when setting "Post Options", and ended up telling Blogger to post this on 11/01/2006. Sorry if we ruined the surprise, but I do believe that the first three are probably better than this one. Gimme a little break here.

You think your kids want video games, cell phones, DVDs, iPods and other electronic paraphernalia? Well you're right, but imagine how envious all the friends of little Sally and Joey will be when they see that your kids have these:

Yes, little green plastic military men that... well... they don't really do anything. It's not like you can even pose them. I mean, once you lay out a battlefield, you can pretty much just sit there and look at it. Get them a magnifying glass as well and they can amuse themselves for hours by playing "Destructo the Giant Lizard" by slowly melting individual army men in the summer sun.

As long as we're teaching our kids to have fun with war, we may as well go all the way:

Tear off one of the little paper caps, insert it into the "bomb", throw it high in the air, and when it lands the cap will POP... approximately 2% of the time. After trying six or seven more times, peel of the old cap, insert a new one, and start over. Even if they don't explode, it's always fun to throw die-cast metal way up into the air. Who knows? You might hit your kid sister right in the top of the head.

I certainly remember having these as a child:

This is a prime example of taking an existing phrase ("more fun than a...") and producing some hack "game" just for the ease of marketing it. The most fun you can have with these mutant monkeys also involves the above-mentioned magnifying glass.

As long as we're talking about toys that don't do anything:

For $40, you can get a box of colorful little pieces of plastic cut into geometric shapes, suitable for pressing onto an even larger piece of plastic. Your kid's imagination will stimulated beyond your wildest dreams when they put a little red triangle on top of a little blue square and realize that it looks like a house. Sort of. Three circles can make a snowman. Except with no features.

Actually this toy sucks.

Is your kid too young for war? It's still not too early to teach them violence.

Got a problem? Mad at your parents? Hate preschool? Didn't get that Red Ryder Air Rifle? It's OK to punch something. Notice that whoever put that picture in the catalog managed to reverse it so that the target says OZOB? Smack it in the face.

Go to school the next day, say "Wowee, Kazowee" just one time, and you may get hit in the face yourself.

We now come to the last toy in this year's gift guide, a favorite for generations.

OK, I'm done. If you're willing to shell out $50.00 for a cardboard barrel with 102 little pieces of wood in it, then just send the money to me. I promise to send something back and tell you it's worth that much, and you'll believe me. Don't forget the shipping and handling.

We hope you've enjoyed Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008. We wish you a happy and safe holiday season.

Don't eat the fruitcake.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008 - Part 3

Welcome to the third installment of Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008.

I'm not going over all this again. If you're interested in the criteria for what I'm posting here, look at the two previous guides. I will say, one more time, that all of these "gifts" are still available for purchase, you just have to know where to find them.

When I was a kid, everybody that I knew had one of these:

Why? What is the point? They don't exactly do tricks or anything. They're a couple of magnets, fergodsake. Once you've played "how close can I get one dog to the other before it spins around and attaches itself" for oh, seven or eight hundred times, it begins to lose its appeal. Much like "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire". Now check this out: Seven bucks for a magnet with a little plastic dog glued to it, perfect for your three-year old to swallow. Good luck with that.

Speaking of three-year olds, got a neighbor with a loud kid? Perhaps you just really hate your neighbor even if their kid isn't so bad. Here's the perfect gift:

The top makes a humming sound and the little roller thingy is full of bells. Kids love these. It won't make the kid any quieter, but after about three weeks their parents will kill them. Everybody wins!

Again, here's something we old timers remember from our youth, because everybody on the planet had one.

Here's the way one plays with one of these:

1) Place a penny in the slot.
2) Laugh gleefully when the little hand comes out and grabs it and then jerks back.
3) Turn the bank over.
4) Open the bank, remove the penny.
5) Repeat steps 1 through 4 fifty times with the same penny.
6) Put the bank on the shelf, only demonstrating it occasionally to company.
7) Forget about the bank for three years.
8) Upon somehow being reminded of the bank, try step 1 again.
9) Open bank to try to determine why it's not working.
10) Throw bank away because the batteries have corroded all over the inside.
11) Wash your hands.

Here's an interesting novelty item:

That's it. "Grab hold of the bottom glass chamber and wait for the liquid to rise and boil." For $6.95.

I can save you the money. If you're thinking about shelling out seven bucks because you think this thing will let you know whether you're hot or not, you're not.

I used this stuff for a while in the '70s:

Supposedly, it really does contain the juice of one whole lemon. Using this shampoo will have two dramatic effects on your hair: 1) It will completely strip your hair of all of its natural oils, and 2) if used daily, it will bleach your hair. If your hair is dark like mine, use LemonUp and you too can walk around with a brass-colored broom on your head for months.

What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs?

Not just any old Slinky, but the original, metal Slinky. If you're like me and feel that the plastic Slinky of today is a pale imitation of the toy of our youth, here's your chance. I've heard legends of people actually playing with these for up to three days before they get a kink in them and are rendered completely useless (as if they're useful in the first place).

And finally for this edition, if you hate shopping or if you just have no idea what to get for that special someone, just buy several of these and pass them out.

Yes, folks, nothing says "I love you" for the holidays like a big jar of Anti Monkey Butt. Your significant other will finally know for sure how you feel about him or her when they see Anti Monkey Butt under the tree with their name on it. Don't forget Mom & Dad and all the aunts and uncles. The whole family will remember you forever when they realize that you saw Anti Monkey Butt and thought of them.

There's at least one more edition of Gilahi's Gift Guide. Maybe two. See you next time!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008 - Part 2

Hello! And welcome back to the next installment of Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008.

If you're just tuning in, these are gifts for the upcoming holiday season consisting of 1) things you had forgotten about, 2) things you remember but didn't think were still available, and 3) pretty cool things. Remember, these are all things that you can purchase right now, in 2008. None of these things are out of production.

Let's start today with a handy stocking stuffer that everyone will enjoy.

You remember these, don't you? All the taste and pleasure of licking wallpaper paste right off the wall, but in a convenient, easy-to-carry form. No more having to stay home just for the pleasure of coating the inside of your mouth as if you've been drinking gravy. Have fun trying to identify the flavors of these little disks, since the colors (not found in nature) offer no clue whatsoever.

"I think this is maple."
"Like maple syrup?"
"No, like maple bark."

Here's an oldie I'm sure you'll all remember:

Get it? It's "ping pong" backwards! Press the little lever to send your colored balls to the other side. The first person to get all the balls to the other side wins! This provides minutes and minutes of fun until you realize that none of these balls ever, ever, ever makes it through to the other side, at which point the game will go on your shelf until your next contribution to the Salvation Army.

Since I was a male-type kid, I of course had a set of these:

Really, really great pictures on the box these came in. I couldn't wait to open it up and assemble that castle that was pictured on the front.

Give your child an introduction to "Marketing 101" when they open up the box and find that there are only about 8 pieces of wood in there, and 2 of them are so warped that there's no way they're useful for building anything. The only way you can assemble something that looks like that picture on the box is to by 15 sets.

Remember Lamb Chop?

That's OK. Neither will the kid you give it to.

And not that I'm dropping hints or anything, but I stumbled across this:

Let's analyze parts of this description, shall we?

Handcrafted in Vermont with patchouli : "People will avoid you." that you can maintain your groove. : "People will point at you and laugh."
...benefits for aging and wrinkling skin... : "You may as well admit it, you are truly pitiful."
...ready to face a new dawn. : "Of the (nearly) dead."

On second thought, don't get me this stuff. I suspect that I'm more a candidate for this:

I gotta say, I just love that one line in the pitch, above: If you're too pressed for time to take a bath, take a footbath.

You may smell like a mule, but your feet won't.

Still more GREAT gift ideas coming soon!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Gilahi's Gift Guide 2008 - Part 1

With the gift-giving season just around the corner, we at the Gilahi Blog, in the spirit of Dave Barry, would like to provide as a public service our first annual Gift Guide.

These gifts fall broadly into three categories: 1) Stuff you knew as a kid but had forgotten all about, 2) stuff you remember but didn't think they made any more, and 3) stuff that I just think is kinda cool. Everything in this and subsequent editions is available for purchase even today.

Remember this stuff?

Your funny-smelling Aunt Gertrude always had a dish of this stuff. Fortunately, they make it in such a way that it's already 10 years old and stale before it ever leaves the factory. What's it made of? Why, good ol' sucrose and a variety of colorful carcinogens. Picking out a piece of this candy was always more rewarding than actually eating it. You never knew if you were going to get the entire chunk in the shape of whatever bowl it was in or you'd actually pick up the bowl as well.

Now, in the realm of the truly creepy, it's difficult for me to imagine that anyone ever bought these when "Family Affair" was a popular show:

Aren't dolls supposed to teach little girls how to be mothers or models with tremendous breasts or something like that? Heck, for $100 this doll should clean my house every couple of weeks. Mrs. Beasley teaches little girls how to take care of old spinsters. What most people don't know, and the really creepy part of it all, is that Mrs. Beasley was actually Buffy's conjoined twin. They were separated just before the show aired for the first time.

And by all means let's not forget our little claymation pals, Gumby and the adequately named Pokey.

"Adequately-named" because after your child plays with this toy for, oh, 10 minutes, one of the little wires inside will poke through the soft vinyl outside and proceed to gore your child to death. "Pokey" indeed.

Hey, kids! Remember all the fun we had back in the '70s with these?

These make a noise like the Cicada That Ate Cincinnati. What could possibly be better than having a couple of 2-pound chunks of solid plastic slamming together at the speed of sound mere inches from your head? How great is it when one of these things explodes sending shards of shrapnel 100 yards in every direction like some sort of adolescent-launched hand grenade? I've heard stories of these things winding up on peoples' roofs and acting like magnifying glasses in the sun, thus destroying the home of the doting parents who shelled out 10 bucks for your pleasure in the first place, but that may be just an urban legend. I had also heard that they were illegal, but that may not be true either. All we need now is a source for lawn darts.

Finally on today's gift list, I can only say that if one gives this as a gift to a friend, one should warn that friend to be very careful where he or she applies it. On the other hand, if you're giving to someone you don't very much care for, well....

Stay tuned to this site for more great gift-giving ideas in the next few days.

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