Monday, December 31, 2012

Greetings From the Grand Canyon (below the cliff) State

Here’s to the
Fiscal Cliff


A Happier New Year
to you and yours!

Friday, December 21, 2012

My Holiday Disposition

Remember "Joe, The Plumber?"  He was the guy in 2008 who claimed to be on the verge of purchasing the plumbing company he worked for, but was afraid that Obama was going to go Don Quixote on small businesses and tax them all into bankruptcy.  It turns out, Joe wasn't a plumber at all and was no closer to buying the company than Lindsay Lohan. But Sarah Palin and John McCain dismissed those misrepresentations as inconvenient immaterial and crowned him the Average-American Icon of their campaign.  We all know how that went.   Joe unsuccessfully ran for the Ohio state legislature last month.  Apparently he has milked the last of his fifteen minutes.
Which brings me to Jay, the Plumber.  Big Jay of Big J Plumbing to be precise (he is an actual plumber).  Before he could get to work on our leaky kitchen sink, I waylaid him with the story of a well-known neurosurgeon who had a dripping faucet in his home which was driving him crazy (bad for his image).  Mrs. Neuro called a plumber who showed up early the next morning, replaced a rubber washer in seconds, and presented the brain-doc with a bill for $150. 

The doc looked at it and said, "I am one of the highest paid neurosurgeons in the world and I can't charge that kind of money for my services."

The plumber responded, "I couldn't charge that kind of money when I was a neurosurgeon, either."

Big Jay smiled knowingly, which made me wonder whether I should have kept that little anecdote to myself.  Like a neurosurgeon, he examined my cracked plastic garbage disposal and determined a transplant was in order.  He excised the broken disposal and replaced it with a steel model which is guaranteed for 8 years and will act as a wood chipper in a pinch.  Unlike a neurosurgeon (or an IRS agent, or a Chase Field concession stand worker), Big Jay presented me with a perfectly reasonable bill.  I'll be able to afford groceries to put down my new disposal. 

Being the friend-of-earth that I am, I asked Big Jay how to dispose of a disposal.  He suggested turning it into a piece of art.  I pondered that, thinking of a possible Christmas gift for my fellow Scottsdale resident, Sarah Palin.  Not sure she would appreciate my asthetics.

I Googled "how to dispose of a disposal" and came across helpful advice like, turn it on and drop it into itself. 

Big Jay solved my dilemma by offering to deliver it to Broken-Plastic-Garbage-Disposal Heaven. 

A plumber and a hero. 


Friday, December 14, 2012

Pressure and PSAs

I survived 12-12-12, although the date holds no particular significance to me.  I suppose those born on this date will read something special into it.  I was actually more focused on 12-13-12 aka Thursday, the thirteenth (glad it wasn’t Friday).  I had my quarterly PSA check to find out if I would live long enough to swan dive over the fiscal cliff or to be wiped out by whatever the Mayans have planned.   In this case, PSA is not Pacific Southwest Airlines or a Public Service Announcement.   My PSA is the level of Prostate-Specific Antigens in my system I take to identify any recurrence of prostate cancer.  I’m relieved to say, my PSA level is currently undetectable.  Now I can concentrate on worrying about Boehner and those Mayans.  Not sure who’s scarier.
On my way home from the doctor’s office, a little tire-icon light came on the dash of my car.  I stopped by my nearest Discount Tire, where there were more vehicles backed up than on the 101 at rush hour  (apparently everybody’s tire light was on).  As I maneuvered into the waiting line, I recalled being told by a tire guy that when the temperature makes a drastic change, tires lose pressure.  It turned out that all four of my relatively new tires were about 13lbs under the 35lbs recommended. 
I tell you all this to remind you to;
·         Get Your Tire Pressure Checked
·         Get Your Blood Pressure Checked
·         Get A PSA Test
Hug somebody you love
- and remember to count your blessings

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Lot of "F"s (and I'm not even ranting about AZ sports teams OR politricks)

Flo's Fresh, Filling, Fabulous Food with Friend Felix (plus Freakish Fortunes)

I have read an awful lot of bad restaurant reviews lately ... or maybe there are a lot of bad restaurants reviewed lately.  Whatever ... I've decided to lay off the Cardinals and the Suns (briefly) and give all you faithful FLOG-olites the skinny on the best restaurant in Scottsdale. 

12-12-12.  Only happens once a century and is worth a celebratory meal.  Although I don't need much of a reason to go to Flo's Asian Kitchen - any occurance that has a title ending in day, i.e., Thursday, Monday, Groundhog Day, etc. 

I met my amigo-extraordinaire, Sid Felix, at Flo's for another stellar lunch (shu mai dumplings and beef with snow peas).  A feast worthy of 12-12-12.   As always, at the end of the meal we were presented with fortune cookies, which I had previously thought were custom scripted for each customer.  On this day though, mine read, discontent is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.  Hmmm.  I nervously wondered if this was a warning that an angry FLOG subject or subjects is/are going to descend on me.  Sid, who is navigating his   90th year, got a missive that, a thrilling time is in your immediate future.  Again, hmmm.  Hopefully, the thrilling time does not involve dodging a berserk mall Santa or a runaway dump truck.   We both prefer prophecies like, under the happiest of circumstances, you will dine again soon at an Asian restaurant you really like.

Many years ago, when I lived in Seattle where there are more Asian restaurants than Starbucks (and there are a lot of Starbucks), I once recommended to a forlorn non-Asian restaurant that they have an Unhappy Hour and give out un-fortune cookies.  Mean Eileen Editing Queen insisted they should be called misfortune cookies, but Miss Fortune Cookies sounds too much like a Chinese beauty pageant.  The restaurant did not take my advice but they did wish me fortune of the "un" and "mis" variety - only more colorfully stated.  But I digress.

When Margaret and I came to Scottsdale on reconnaissance in 1991, we flunked due-diligence in thoroughly scoping out the Asian restaurants.  The bordering-on-tragic options might have dissuaded us from choosing Arizona for a second home.  For the first three years we lived here, we were chow-mein deprived and then, mercifully, came Flo's Asian Kitchen

Our first time in, we had to wait an hour for a table.  While we bided our time, I told Margaret I was going to mingle with the other waiting patrons to try to convince them to dine at the Italian place a few doors down (in order to move our name to the top of the list faster).  I figured Margaret would admonish me, but she suggested I tell people the Italian restaurant was giving away free cocktails.

Hong Kong born Flo came to Scottsdale via Memphis, Tennessee where she had gone to school.  Coincidentally, Margaret was born and raised in Memphis, and we saw the connection as a good omen.    The food definitely worth wait - we made a point of introducing ourselves to Flo and have enjoyed many fantastic meals since.  I could detail the virtues of each dish, but you really just have to try it for yourself - you won't be disappointed.  In 1998, Flo told me she was going to open her second location in the Scottsdale Promenade and said it would simply be called, "Flo's."   

"Not good," I told her.  "It should be called Over-Flo's."


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Have a Bad Ass Hannukah and An Explosively Merry Christmas

Last year before Hannukah, I found a stunning pair of brass knuckles, that look a little like these, and envisioned them with candles in the eight finger holes. Before putting them together for this years celebration of the candle that burnt for eight days, I received an email from my surrogate daughter, Lisa, taking me to 25 Hilariously Wrong Menorahs.
After looking at the 25 and sharing them with my associate, Mean Eileen Editing Queen, I decided to look at “weird Christmas ornaments and found this: The Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm is coming under fire for selling tree ornaments shaped like this.
Is this offensive or defensive?

Happy Holidays, however you celebrate

Monday, December 10, 2012

Instead of Taking A Knee, Take Two (and pray really hard while you're down there)

Cardinals Hire New Coach
Promise BIG Changes

First, let’s bid farewell to Bill Bidwill and all the little Bidwills. Don’t blame the coach. Don’t blame the quarterback.  The buck stops with Bidwill (exactly where it started - Bill is still clutching tight).  
Maybe those mega-lottery winners will become philanthropists and charitably donate funds to buy an offense. 

Ken Whisenhunt was recruited from the Pittsburg Stealers by the Bidwells in 2007 and took Arizona to a Super Bowl in his second season. After following with a division title in 2009, he was rewarded with a raise and extension before this season. But a 58 to nothing loss to the Seattle Seahawks may have been the end of an era. KEN WHISENHUNT… HIRED, TIRED, FIRED!

Maybe Ken is sick and tired and praying to be fired. But don’t cry for him. He’ll probably be glad to take his $17-million-plus and go home. And he’ll most certainly get another job (he's a natural for the Bayer Aspirin commercials as the guy in obvious pain, clutching the bridge of his nose between his squeezed-shut eyes). 

His replacement?  Who could coach Cardinals better than a Pope?

We’ll have a new team name THE PHOENIX POPE and a new slogan


Since this new team is non-denominational, we’ll rename the stadium …

University of Phoenix Synagogue.

Three hours before gametime we’ll have a Mass and then kick ass

New Cardinal Offensive Coordinator
Taking a modified page from the Suns' Fun Guarantee against the Dallas Mavericks …


(Maybe I’ll get sacked for being sack-religious, but since the Cardinals' offense hasn't grasped the concept, I might as well).

How About Those Cardinals!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Well, The Mavericks Had Fun


Robert Sarver Having Fun
I wasn't at the guaranteed fun-or-your-money-back game last night.  I watched on television.  And I think I should get my money back because I had to stay up until 11:30 to find out who won.  SPOILER ALERT!:  It wasn't the Suns.  They lost by three points.  I might have sobbed, but I lost interest around 10:45.

The earlier game on TNT - that was FUN.  The  New York Knicks clobbered the Miami Heat in Miami. Mi-oh-Mi.  Maybe Lebron and Company are weighted down by those gigantic salaries.  I wonder how I can volunteer to take some of that cash off their hands - you know - to improve their game?

This morning I am completing my 4-Step Funny-Back-Form (it's a download from a secret hidey-hole on the Sun's website) and praying I get my check before the world ends or I go over the Cliff, which ever comes first.

Despite the snooze-fest that was the Suns-Mavs game, I was still having fun (the picture-in-picture feature on my TV allowed me to simultaneously watch Sean Hannity convulsing on the floor and clutching his head while Ann Coulter ... Ann Coulter ... stood over him growling, "the Republicans lost the election") until the camera zoomed in on Sun's owner, Robert Sarver, apparently just before he dropped to the floor, clutching his head and convulsing. 

He has pretty good seats.  I wonder how big his refund will be.



Thursday, December 6, 2012

FAN FLOG Addendumb…
Today’s FLOG was only eight hours old when I discovered I left out the fine print in the “Guarantee”. I apologize. So please read the fine print as you would with any guarantee or you may end up at the wrong court.
UNDER TERMS AND CONDITIONS on, I discover the following (I must have been so overwhelmed by the offer). The terms read like the disclaimer on the almost Guaranteed to help you quit smoking drug called Chantix. Put on your glasses and read this:
“Requests must be postmarked by December 31, 2012. Sponsor tickets and Comp tickets do not qualify. Refund of purchase price not to exceed face value. *Tickets purchased with a (G) code at a group discount will be given purchase price (may differ from face value.) Void where taxed, restricted or prohibited (Probably in Phoenix. My-comment). PO boxes will not be paid. Allow six to eight weeks after mailing for delivery of your check.* (That’s almost two months after we plunge over the fiscal cliff and if you survive that, they Mayans have plans for your refund anyway).
Limit eight tickets (8) per name/household/address. Phoenix Suns reserve the right to confirm identification. Fraudulent submissions could result in federal prosecution under US Mail fraud statutes (18 USC** Sections 1341 and 1342). © 2012 Phoenix Suns
And this …

Step 1. Complete this form including all required fields (Available postgame on 12/6/12)
Step 2. Attach your original, scanned-at-entry ticket stub from the 12/6/12 Phoenix Suns vs Dallas Mavericks home game. (Sponsor tickets and Comp tickets do not qualify)
Step 3. Mail your original ticket stub and completed form to:

Suns Money Back Guarantee
Dept # PX12-9162
PO Box 472
Scottsdale, AZ 85252-0472
Step 4. To check the status of your rebate please visit or call 1-800-619-4703
*Three steps may cause you to turn over the ball. 4 is guaranteed. Not fun!

Gorilla My Dreams

I'll give you your money back

"Good Times Guaranteed or Your Money Back!  Come see the edge-of-your-seat action live Thursday, December 6 as your Phoenix Suns battle the Dallas Mavericks and if you're not completely satisfied with the experience, we'll give you your money back."

That's the official verbiage of the Phoenix Suns' innovative offer.  The first freebie in NBA history.  So free, I'm astounded that my namesake, the other David Stern, would give this promotion his blessing.

The average player salary in the NBA is more than $5 million per year.  The Suns pay out $64 million in total player compensation.  Who knows what other costs are involved Thursday night.  Every attendee may have fun, but will the team go bankrupt and be moved to Dubai?  Do they like basketball in Dubai?
Unless the players are reimbursing the owners (that would be an average of $83,000 per player) for the potential loss of ticket revenue for the Dallas game, there must be a plan behind this promotion.  Tonights' game will be aired on TNT - one of only a half-dozen games on national TV this season.  I'll be watching and eating the oatmeal raisin cookies I got at Subway with coupons acquired at Diamondbacks games this summer.  The Dbacks expired in October (ok, June) but the free cookie coupons are good until then end of December.

I suppose the team owners don't want a half-empty arena on national TV (they are assuming more than just the players' mothers will be watching).  Attendance this season (of which the Suns have 7 wins and 12 losses) averages about 15,000 per game - significantly lower than in previous seasons.  

Still, the money-back gimmick could be a good thing.  Folks who don't know Nash defected to LA will just see the new guy and think Nash has beefed up.  Given the Suns' awful performance this season, "fun" could mean anything.  Coupons for cookies?  Maybe.  Foam fingers to be exchanged for colonoscopies?  Some might find that more fun than watching the Suns blow another 16 point lead.

Before I fork over cash for a ticket (and a ticket printing fee, and an arena fee, and a conveniece fee, and don't get me started on parking...), I want to know if the Suns are offering a bonafide guarantee, or just a warranty?  The difference being the guarantee is a money-back promise with no time period set as opposed to a warranty which promises to replace or repair within a specific time period.  I'd rather have a warranty from the Suns - they need to be repaired or replaced within a specific time period (preferably before the All Star break).    If they honor that warranty, they might be able to restore the good-time aspect of attending the game without having to cough up cash back.

Birds with stones.  You paying attention Robert Sarver?


Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I sat down to write a brief impression of my first visit to Abe's Deli, the Jewish delicatessen which recently opened a few minutes away from my home in Scottsdale.  While the little gerbils inside my computer jogged and chirped and wheezed the Flog to life, I opened an email from my dear friend Ron Solomon, notifying me of the sudden death at midnight, November 29th, of one my favorite delis in New York City.

So, instead of a critique of a new restaurant, this is a eulogy with sauerkraut, dill pickle and spicy brown mustard.

The Stage Deli was born the same year I was and died at age 75 (the same age I would be had Mean Eileen not gifted me my 50th birthday back this year).  If the Mayans are right (according to their calendar we're all burnt bagels in 2012) or if Obama and Boehner can't reach a fiscal plunge-avoiding agreement by the year's end, I suppose the closing of the Stage Deli could be seen as practical - the employees all have time off to copiously ingest chocolate, base jump, open suspicious emails and run with scissors before the world ceases to exist, however it happens. 

As for my thoughts on the end of the world, I'm glad to see the end of what NY Times writer, Glenn Collins, described as "the interminable hostilities" between the Stage Deli and the Carnegie Deli.  Both restaurants opened on 7th Avenue in 1937 along with what Collins describes as, "the pastrami war."   Of course, maybe the interminable hostilities and pastrami war he wrote of had more to do with digestive issues than competition.

In 1979, Carnegie's pastrami was judged the best of the two delis and its image was burnished in Woody Allen's 1984 movie, Broadway Danny Rose (which quoted a Carnegie owner as stating, "the Stage is living off our overflow").

For generations, like Gaza and Israel, the 7th Avenue neighbors hurled matzoh balls at each other until the war finally ended last month.  We'll know soon enough if it was the $25 Rudy Giuliani Hero (and/or the $24 Howard Stern Triple Decker and Tiger Woods Open sandwiches) that did in the Stage Deli. 

I suppose if we all go over the Cliff, bonk our heads on the Debt Ceiling, or hurtle into oblivion via whatever (hopefully merciful) end the Mayans have planned, the Stage Deli people will be denied the opportunity to issue a smug told-you-so.  But maybe having eaten all that chocolate, they won't care as much.


Monday, December 3, 2012

How Many Flogs Does it Take to Install a Car Seat?

This is Kaz modeling his new seat
The buckle should be high on the chest just below
the armpits, but the picture was too cute not to use

My adorable 6 and-a-half month old grandson, Kaz, weighs in at 23 ½ pounds.  He’s outgrown all of his original baby equipment, including his car seat.  We had been handed down a couple very nice looking larger car seats but they were expired.  Really.  I didn't see mold on them but have been assured the plastic breaks down over time (from heat, cold, and accidents) and can develop undiscernable cracks which can cause the seat to shatter if involved in another crash.  Also, new technologies are constantly being developed to help make little passengers safer.  Each seat has a label on the back, bottom or side which shows the country of manufacture, the manufacture date, and the expiration date - seats generally have an expected useful life of 5-7 years (although seats that have been in crashes should not be used again).
Being the doting grandfather that I am, I decided on a Hanukkah gift for Kaz and took it upon myself to select and purchase new car seats for each of our vehicles.  Simple, right?  I went to Buy Buy Baby and discovered a large array of seats with bewildering features (does an infant really need a cup holder and an iPhone jack?).  Fortunately, the salesman did not work on commission and recommended two reasonably priced, comfy looking seats (all new car seats sold in the US meet minimum safety standards).  I went home and Googled his recommendations and found they earned stellar reviews, so I returned to the store and purchased them.  New car seats, check.  Now all I had to do was take the old seats out and put in the new ones.
Car seat installation instructions are written by the same people who design torture techniques at Guantanamo. Thanks to a quick stop at a City of Scottsdale Fire Station, I lucked into a same-day appointment with Lori Schmidt, the SFD's Public Education Officer, a certified car seat inspector/installer.  She quickly installed the seats in two cars (with no audible swearing), while showing me the installation procedures (when Kaz get's big enough we'll have to turn them forward facing). 
I wish to emphasize that generally installations and inspections are done by appointment only (check out the SFD's online appointment form).
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has toll-free number … 888-327-4236 and a website,, where you can find everything you ever wanted to know about child car seats, including a searchable database of installation/inspection stations by zip code.
I had to wait 70 years to have a grandchild and she couldn’t be more grand. My grandson arrived in time for my 75th birthday and now my pleasure is doubled.
Car seats are expensive, but in my opinion a better investment than a rear seat entertainment system if you have a little one riding in your car. 

WWII Veterans' Honor Flight

US Army Tech 5 Sid Felix, January 1945
Camp Lucky Strike, Le Havre, France
I recently wrote an article for the Grayhawk Flight magazine about my friend and former neighbor, Sid Felix, and his recent journey to the Washington DC war memorials.  Definitely a far too condensed version of Sid's military career, but it does outline the Honor Flight program.  It is open to all US WWII veterans at absolutely no cost.   Assistants are provided to those veterans who face physical or medical challenges.  Please check it out - if you, or anyone you know is a WWII veteran, don't pass up the opportunity.

Click HERE to view the article Avian Resident Takes Flight  (The Arizona chapter of Honor Flight) (The national Honor Flight organization)