Monday, December 17, 2007


T’was the night before Christmas
And all throughout Spain
Towns were dry, scorched and dusty
Another year without rain.

Water bottles were placed
By the doorstep with care
Although nobody seems to know
Why they’re put there.

The Spaniards were nestled
All snug in their beds
A day’s intake of brandy
Left dull pains in their heads.

I sat at my Apple
Filled with dread; feeling blue
Yet another damn holiday
With NOTHING to do.

When outside the house
There arose such a clatter
Could it be those damn goats?
Spreading more fecal matter?

I ran to the window
Threw open the pane
T’was a man dressed in red
With a bushy, white mane.

He said, “My name is Santa”
“And I’m ready to scream!”
He seemed to be suffering
From low self-esteem.

He said, “The children of Spain”
“Don’t give a hoot about me!”
“They only want those Three Wise Men”
“I feel as small as a flea.”

I said, “Calm down, my friend”
“There’s no reason to bleed”
“A little re-branding”
“Is all that you need.”

I put my hand on his shoulder
And gave it a pet
And said, “I’ll go fetch my razor”
“Drink some chilled Freixinet.”

With a wave of my hand
And some shave cream to match
I trimmed his beard down
To a funky soul patch.

Then we drove to Madrid
To meet a biker I knew
I said, “My friend here’s in need of”
“A “Keep on Truckin’” tatoo."

A half hour later
His bicep was glowing
He looked in the mirror
And his face seemed all-knowing.

With a confident swagger
He walked into a park
And seized children’s attention
With a loud, mighty bark.

He said, “Listen up children!”
“Or I’ll give you a punch!”
“The fat man’s in town!”
“He eats Wise Men for lunch!”

The children were frightened
Yet they thought he seemed cool
Then they sat on his knees
As he sat on a stool.

With eyes like milk-saucers
Kids looked up to his face
“I’ll bet you’ve dated Madonna”
“And even got to third base!”

When the children disbanded
He wore a Cheshire Cat-grin
“So it’s true that it’s marketing”
“That makes the world spin.”

Then he rose to his feet
Donned Armani sunglasses
He puffed out his chest
And turned his back to the masses.

With a newly-found vigor
He hopped into his sleigh
And said, “From this day forward”
“Spain does Christmas *my* way.”

“There’ll be no more Roscón!”
“No more Wise Men parades!”
“The *true* Christmas ‘El Gordo’ ”
“Stands before you in shades.”

As he flew out of sight
I swear I heard him squeal
“Merry Christmas to all!”
“And to Sal...a BOOK DEAL!”

Saturday, December 15, 2007


Why exactly should I care about baseball players using steroids?

[Bonus question: If the media absolutely must cover this story, couldn't they limit it to ESPN?]

Thursday, December 13, 2007


“Don’t fuss!”

That was the only request that I made of The Big Finns before flying to spend the weekend with them in Basel. My request was completely ignored.

There’s no point in providing a blow-by-blow description of everything we did that weekend. Why? Because TBF and Canadian-Swiss did such thorough recaps on their own blogs that there is nothing more that I can add. Factually, at least.

I can, however, state a few thoughts and observations about the weekend.


This brings me back to the “Don’t fuss” comment. The Finns bent over backwards to keep me well-fed—both in terms of quantity and quality—and happy from the moment I arrived in their spacious, candle-lit, tastefully decorated apartment.

Gastronomically-speaking, the Finns each have their own core-competency.

Mrs. TBF is a drop-dead great cook. She swung from Swiss cooking (an addictive cheese fondue spiked with white wine and cherry schnapps) to peasant Italian (focaccia with browned onions, garbanzo soup, ricotta-stuffed shells and meatballs) to a breakfast of champions (omelets as big as my head, stuffed with several cheeses and spicy Hungarian sausage; wheat toast with butter and sprinkled with coarse salt).

Mr. TBF’s talents, on the other hand, lean toward the liquid side of the spectrum. His Martinis are a thing of beauty. But more impressive than that…he can smell a rogue enzyme in a bottle of wine—even in quantities of less than .000001 ppm. And God help that unlucky bottle. It goes straight to the kitchen sink.

I can hear the outcry from bartenders throughout Spain: “NOOOOOOOO!!! That wine will make a perfectly good Sangria!”


Hi, Jo Mama.


Some things require no further comment.


It was 11:55am on Saturday and TBF was rushing through the apartment with a bag of empty bottles. He was speaking in tongues.

“Gotta recycle! Gotta recycle! Only five more minutes to recycle! Woo, woo, woo, woo…nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.”

When he returned—looking exhausted yet relieved—he explained.

“In Switzerland , you’re not allowed to recycle between noon and 2pm.”


“Yeah, really. You’re also not allowed to vacuum. Many buildings forbid you from using the washer, dryer or dishwasher. You sure as hell can’t mow the lawn.”

“B-b-b-b-b-but, why?!”

“It’s quiet time in Switzerland . There must be silence so nobody’s lunch is disturbed. The Swiss like silence.”

“You’re f’ing kidding, right?!”

“No. And there’s more. You can’t do any of these things after midnight, or at all on Sunday.”

“WHAT?!!! You can’t mow the lawn, vacuum or do laundry at all on Sunday?”

At this point, TBF handed me a Valium, laid me on the sofa and put a cold compress on my forehead.

Surely, this must have been a hangover-induced hallucination. I mean…no country outside of, perhaps, North Korea could have such draconian (and, dare I say, knuckleheaded) laws.

My head was spinning. I simply couldn't process what I was hearing. Cold sweat burst from my brow. My breathing became labored. And then, precisely at noon, the TBFs disappeared and all of Switzerland fell into an eerie silence.

I was scared. I sat-up from the sofa, enveloped in a crushing isolation. Even the birds seemed frozen like statues on the tree branches.

Searching for my hosts or any other sign of life, I staggered across the living room and peered around the corner. And there, from the corner of my eye, I spied a door at the end of TBF’s hallway. It was just barely cracked open, and seemed to be emitting an odd green light from within. An odd green light shrouded in swirling fog.

I tiptoed down the hallway. As I inched my way closer to the door, I could hear a droning hum from within. One reminiscent of a those fluorescent lamps in 1970’s era Junior High Schools—but this hum was different. It had an other-worldly tone.

I was at the door.

I know I shouldn’t have done it, but it couldn’t be helped. I gently laid my hand on the door and nudged it open.

Here’s what I saw:



When I returned home, I did a little investigating.

It seems that the Swiss birthrate is 9.66 per 1,000 persons.

If this seems a bit low, could be that Swiss law forbids…?

Oh, never mind. I don’t even want to know.


King the cat is nineteen years old. That’s 187 in people years. It seems preposterous that any creature should live so long, yet—much like his human equivalent, Abe Vigoda—King refuses to die.

Now, I’ve never believed that cats are anti-social critters. I have, after all, lived with The Love Machine for over ten years. But I also understood that the personality of any given cat is like the spin of a roulette wheel. And being as old as dirt, I was fairly certain that King would be pleased to avoid this intruder to his domain until such time as I returned to my EasyJet seat on Sunday afternoon.

So when TBF and I entered the apartment on Friday night, I was in for a surprise. One of the first things that Mrs. TBF said to me was, “And here is King.”

He was sitting on the sofa. And he gave me a look that said one thing: “Fat Sal…make love to me.”

I placed my hand on this head and ran it over his boney shoulders. Oh my God! Cats CAN have osteoporosis!

Then I slipped my palm under his chin and caressed. Within seconds, my hand was soaking wet.

It seems that King only has four teeth. To you they’re “teeth”; to King they’re “drool blockers.”

We were inseparable for the rest of the weekend.

You may be wondering what is the secret to King’s amazing longevity? The answer may surprise you.

It’s jasemine tea.


Nobody could tell me who was Thomas Platter and why he is famous.

I’m sorry, but that’s just plain wrong.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


C'mon. Just click HERE.

You know you want to.

Saturday, December 08, 2007


Q: How to make the world's worst BBQ ad?
A: Use falsetto boy band music.

Q: How to make the world's best BBQ ad?
A: Look no further than Queen Bee. Mmmmmmmm, SO GOOD!

powered by ODEO

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


You're driving your Mercedes SUV down a desolate country road in rural Spain. When see the man pictured above--who is a neighbor of yours--zooming down the street like a panther in pursuit of a jack rabbit. Do you:

(a) Honk your horn, pump your fist in the air and bellow a hearty, "Go for it, Fat Sal! Keep it up!!!"

(b) Drive across the median, roll down your car window and grab a heaping handful of cast-iron right buttock?

(c) Stop the car, ask if he needs a ride home, and then act surprised when he tells you, "Thanks, but that would pretty much defeat the whole purpose of my being here in these funny clothes and expensive shoes."

The answer couldn't possibly be (c), could it?

I mean...surely (c) could never happen in the real world.

Could it?


Wow! What more can I say about last weekend in Basel, Switzerland?

The Big Finn posted a brilliant summary HERE.

Canadian-Swiss posted an equally brilliant summary HERE.

I'll do a write-up, as well--but probably not until next week.

See you then. I promise.