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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Funny, crazy, inspiring

Biggest Loser logo

Sorry folks, I missed the first 30 minutes of tonight's episode of The Biggest Loser. You all will have to fill me in. I asked on Facebook and was told "Tracy is crazy!," which I'd already gotten a hint of. I came in to the show as Abby was talking to Dr. H. about the stress fracture in her knee.

Without giving a play-by-play of the entire two hour show (or at least the 90 minutes I saw), I'd summarize tonight's episode as funny, crazy and inspiring:

Funny
There were several funny things contestants said during tonight's episode, including:

Rebecca: "Damn you, sprinkles!," yelling at a cupcake that was tempting her.

Danny: "Oh my! I guess these (cupcakes) have real sugar in them!," trying to get the other contestants (including his partner Liz) to believe that he was eating the cupcakes to win the temptation.

Sean: "I wanted to take a cupcake and rub it all over my body!"

Rebecca: "I'm used to eating pizza, not running up hills," as she was carrying 10 pounds of weight up the incline during the fitness challenge.

Dina (to Jillian during the last chance workout): "Do me a favor. Don't talk to me," letting Jillian know she didn't need someone yapping in her face as she tried to finish her run on the treadmill.

Crazy
Whether it was creative editing or it was really that way, Tracy came across as being (just like someone said on Facebook) crazy. First, she gave up the chance for both she and Coach Mo to work with the trainers this week in exchange for a 2-pound advantage at the weigh in. And did anyone notice those crazy eyes she was making all night?

Then she ate four cupcakes during the temptation challenge so she could be the one to control whose weight would count at the weigh in.

Now, for the record, I don't think that eating 4 cupcakes was that big of a deal. They were told each cupcake was 100 calories. There are 3,500 calories in a pound. 35 cupcakes would only be one pound, which would take no time to work off in the Biggest Loser gym. So Tracy's 4 cupcakes were probably be gone in one treadmill run.

Speaking of crazy, what the heck, Jillian?! She totally wigged out when she heard Tracy ate the cupcakes. It was 400 calories, that's it. It wasn't 4,000. Jillian calling Tracy "crazy" and "bananas" is totally the pot calling the kettle black.

Inspiring
There were two really inspiring segments of the show tonight. The first was at the end of the fitness challenge. Each team had to carry 500 pounds to the top of a tall ramp. The first to finish won immunity. First team to raise the flag all the way wins.

After the Green team had won (Go Indiana's own Allen!), the other teams all finished and several players were interviewed who said that the Biggest Loser is teaching them to finish what they started (Except in the case of desserts obviously. Don't finish those. Probably don't start them in the first place.) When Coach Mo was the last to finish, all the contestants grabbed his weights and helped him finish his task. Just like last week, teamwork and unity. I'm liking this season.

The other inspiring thing that happened tonight was when both the Red (Antoine and Sean) and the Orange (Daniel and Shay) teams were below the yellow line. Antoine and Sean were all class. They basically sacrificed themselves so Shay could stay on the ranch longer.

Their sacrifice paid off. In the transformation moments at the end of the show, Sean had lost 124 pounds. Wish he'd lose the bad haircut. His wife is expecting a baby girl very soon and they plan to name the new baby Jillian!

For his part, Antoine has lost 105 pounds and I must say that he is looking mighty buff in the gym. He is dating Alexandra who was eliminated in the first week. I'm happy that he's happy, although I didn't care for Alexandra.

When both the Red and Orange teams fell below the yellow line, there was plenty of animosity toward Tracy. We'll have to see how it plays out next week.

5 reasons why Obama's "more school" idea is for the birds

I'm breaking my own rule here and am going to discuss politics on my usually fun-lovin' blog. But today when I saw the headline that President Obama is calling for longer school days and a longer school year, I just couldn't hold my tongue (or, more accurately, my fingers!).

I think this is a terrible idea for at least five reasons:

1. The parents and students who are engaged in school and who are driven to do their best, will continue doing so. But extending the school day or the school year won't make parents who consider school to be free (or, in the case of private education, paid) babysitting won't be any more apt to encourage their children to learn.

2. More time at school will just cause further erosion of the family. As it is, I only see my children for about an hour in the morning and anywhere from two to six hours in the evening, depending on which day it is (I only work until 2:oopm two days a week). Keeping children at school longer will keep them away from their families longer. I want to do more with my kids besides make sure they get their baths and fix their breakfasts.

3. Children are not little adults. Their brains should not be expected to be engaged in formal instruction for more than six or so hours a day. And there are plenty of people who will argue that even that is too long.

4. Isn't there an obesity epidemic in this country? Aren't gym classes being cut from the schedule in many school districts? What do you think is going to happen when we add another 2 hours of sitting each day? Paging Bob and Jillian...

5. It seems to me that we, as a nation, are losing the ability to relax. I know I'm guilty of being at work all day, coming home and at some point in the evening, getting back on my computer to do more work. We owe it to our kids to teach them that life is about more than work. They need time to explore cultural activities like dance and music, to learn about sportsmanship and hard work on the soccer fields and basketball courts, and to understand the joy that comes from digging for worms or swinging high enough it seems their toes will disappear into the clouds.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons why this "more school" idea from the POTUS is a bad idea. But these are the ones that come to my mind first. What do you think? Is President Obama on to something or does he need to be schooled in what America's kids really need?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fit to be blogging

Fit City logo

I really like blogging. I like the format - as casual or as formal, as humorous or as serious as my mood strikes. I like the choice to vary the length of my posts. Sometimes, I just need two lines to say what I want to say. Other times, I need more. I like the opportunity to interact with people who comment about my posts.

So when I was asked to write for another blog, I was all for it. Until I realized it's a blog about health and fitness. Who? Me? But, I agreed to meet with the woman and chat about the opportunity. And I'm glad I did.

The blog is the Fit City Moms Blog and, as Lisa Vielee explained to me, they were looking for "real" voices -- those of moms who are doing the very real dance of trying to take care of themselves and their families while also getting the laundry done, taking the cat to the vet and locating the lost library book.

I'll be writing about once a month at Fit City. There are four other moms blogging there, offering information and insight on fitting health and fitness into the job description of "mother." Though Fit City is an Indianapolis initiative, there are plenty of resources -- from recipes to entertaining ideas, to fitness tips that you'll find useful even if you don't live in Indianapolis. Check it out here.

You can read my first post, "Turning 39: The Year of Not Dying," here. If you venture over there, be sure to leave me a comment to say "hey!"

Tall tales by Robbie

Robbie woke up this morning and said "My eye hurts." Assuming this was one of his attempts to get to stay home from school, I said, "Oh, your eye doesn't hurt!"

That's when he turned to me and I saw this:

Photobucket

"Robbie, what happened to your eye?!"

"Well, I was skydiving and I ran into a bug that bit me in the eye."

There you go, more proof that skydiving is a dangerous sport!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Biggest Loser: Teamwork Tuesday

Biggest Loser logo

Tonight's episode of The Biggest Loser was a nice change from all of the yelling and cursing of last week. This episode was a big success story of teamwork and perseverance.

While the remaining contestants were still in the elimination room after Alexandra had gone home, Allison Sweeney told them that they had the chance to keep everyone above the yellow line this week. No one would be eliminated if all 15 players could lose a combined total of more than 150 pounds. If they didn't reach 150 pounds, then 2 people would be sent home.

Historically, week 2 is notorious for low weight losses in the house (some of the players called it the "curse of week 2"), so the challenge was a tall order.

Back in the living room, Coach Mo gave everyone a pep talk. He told them they had to do three things: 1) stay together, 2) lean on Danny because he was the only one with week 2 experience and 3) let Coach Mo get in their heads to motivate them.

When the teams headed to the gym, Jillian played good cop to Bob's bad cop. Later, she took the brown team to the kitchen to help them with meal planning. Who saw the Ziploc product placement coming? I totally did!

Julio was made out to be this season's slacker and Shay was visibly frustrated with him and his lack of dedication in the gym.

Tracey returned and said her incident was a big deal and really serious, but didn't say what had happened.

Just when the goal of losing 150 pounds seemed impossible, the contestants met with Chef Curtis Stone who threw tons of nutrition information at them, including a suggestion to replace 50% of your pasta with veggies and the fact that there are 1010 calories in a fast food chicken caesar salad! Holy crap and it doesn't even taste as good as a hamburger!

The funniest line of the night was when Sean said, "I am the national spokesmodel for soda." I just know that PR people for Coke and Pepsi everywhere were ducking for cover.

After the chef's lesson was done, Allison came in and gave them a nutrition quiz. By correctly answering at least 5 of 8 questions based on Curtis Stone's information, they earned a 15 pound bonus at the weigh in -- 10% of their goal -- meaning they only had to lose 135 pounds combined to keep everyone at the ranch this week.

Once the teams successfully managed the first quiz, it was time to move on to a group challenge. They had to cross floating balance beams in the water and gather on rafts attached to the end of the beams. If one person fell in the water, the game was over. If everyone reached the 1st raft, the teams would win a 5 pound advantage at the weigh in. Reaching the 2nd raft would earn them another 5 pound advantage. Making it to the 3rd raft meant phone calls from home. Finally, if the whole team made it to 4th raft with no one falling in, they could deduct 10 more lbs from the total they needed to lose to keep everyone on the ranch.

I had two thoughts while watching this challenge. First, I didn't really realize or think about how difficult balance is when you are extremely overweight. Second, could't they have gotten some bigger life jackets for these people?

They pretty quickly achieved the first 5 pound advantage, but I bet they just wanted to yell at Allison Sweeney to just shut up! Here they were trying to balance and get across these beams and she was yammering on, giving a play by play of their every move.

In the end, they did it! They made it across all four balance beams and earned 20 pounds worth of weight advantage, plus phone calls home. It was really awesome to watch them work together as a team. No sniping and bickering. Just quiet enouragement. If I was the crying sort, that would have brought tears to my eyes.

They all got to make their calls home and each person was interviewed about how much that meant to them. I know I must be sick because when they were all telling about their calls home and they were all crying, I kept looking at the pies and lollipops and and other yummy stuff on the wall behind them, thinking how good it all looked!

The next day at lunch, theywere all high fiving about only needing to lose 115 pounds as a group (since they'd secured 35 pounds of advantage) and Bob and Jillian came in and just sucked the wind right out of their sails, saying that was still pretty darn hard in week 2. They sent them all to the gym for the last chance workout.

Let me just say that if I had to do one of those last chance workouts, I'd end up in a puddle of quivering blubber on the floor and that's all I have to say about that.

In the gym, Bob got inside Shay's head asking her if she believed she had the right to be happy. While all of the inner turmoil/psychobabbly stuff seems a little hard to watch, a little fabricated even, I'm glad they spent time showing some of that because I think most people who are overweight are that way at least in part for some emotional reason.

The people who get fat because they eat too much pizza and drink to much beer just because they like it are the people who have an easier time getting rid of the extra weight. People with emotional baggage are fighting not just their physical selves, but the demons in their heads.

Finally, it was time for the weigh in -- They needed to lose 115 pounds to keep all 15 of them on the ranch for another week.

Here's how it went down on the scale:

Pink - Rebecca (-6) and Amanda (-4)
Purple - Tracey (-10) and Coach Mo (-9)
Red - Sean (-11) and Antoine (-8)
Green - Allen (-10) and Abby (-11)
Brown - Danny (-12) and Liz (-10)
Blue - Rudy (-14) and Dina (-8)
Black - Julio (-19)
Orange - Danny (-7) and Shay (-16)

What week two curse? As a group, they lost 155 pounds this week, so they didn't even need those advantages!

I thought this was a great show. What did you think?

Monday, September 21, 2009

If the Sand Man worked at Starbucks

As we were putting Robbie to bed tonight, I climbed in the bed and Mike left the room when Robbie pointed out that neither one of us closed the closet door. Maybe we'd confused him with Charlie who likes to have his closet door open when he goes to sleep.

So I got to thinking about bedtime preferences and what they would look like if you went into the Sand Man store and ordered up a bedtime, much like you order drinks at Starbucks.

Instead of a venti skinny half-caf mocha chai latte, what would a bedtime order look like if the Sand Man worked at Starbucks?

Robbie would order up a two-story closed closet open door with a side order of warm body snuggled close.

Charlie would ask for an open closet running vaporizer iPod lullaby tight tuck in with a cracked door.

Closed door lights on fall asleep reading Twilight for the 20th time: Annie's choice.

The kids aren't the only ones who have their bedtime preferences. Mike's is pitch black closed door fan on high fall asleep before the wife starts snoring.

As for me, I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere, under any conditions. I've even fallen asleep sitting up waiting for my nail polish to dry. When I was in college, we slept in a "cold dorm" on the third floor of the sorority house. The windows were open and nothing felt better than being cozy under the covers and feeling the crisp (sometimes downright freezing) air around you.

But my favorite bedtime "beverage" is pretty simple: comfy couch TV on.

How about you? What would you order at the Sand Man's Starbucks?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Eating my words

I should know better than to make broad declarations that start with "MY child will NEVER..." Doing so makes eating those words a little tough.

Today, I'm chewing up and digesting the statement "MY child will NEVER get a cell phone until she's in high school." Yep. Despite my outspokenness about how kids don't need cell phones, this afternoon I took Annie to Best Buy and we picked out a red LG Xenon phone just for her.

I'd started to soften my position on kids and cell phones last spring when she started babysitting and I felt like it might be good for us to be able to reach her where ever she was sitting. But, I reasoned that we could just call her on the house phone wherever she was.

Then, this summer, she got dropped off at the wrong swimming pool for a swim meet. But a nice person let Annie use her phone and we got her where she was supposed to be. No harm done.

The clincher happened this morning.

Mike dropped her off at a local high school for swim practice. It turns out the doors were locked and she couldn't get in. Apparently, after unsuccessfully trying to chase her dad down in the parking lot, she freaked for a moment, had a good cry and then sought out other options. She found an open door at an adjacent building, located an office staffer who let her use the phone and called Mike.

Of course, by the time he got back there a few minutes later, the swim coach showed up and everything was ok.

But it was enough for me to toss my declaration out the window and get the girl a phone. Adding her to our family plan will only cost another $10/month. That's money well spent for her safety and my peace of mind, I think. Plus, she's going to work that $10 off in chores or fork over cold, hard cash each month.

And we're not letting her go hog wild. No data plan. She can text (she's already sent 60-some text messages today. Good thing I upped the plan from 200 text messages a month to unlimited texting), but not send or receive pictures or photos. No taking the phone to school. Homework first, phone access second. Hopefully those are enough parameters.

I don't want to make too many "thou shalts" and "thou shalt nots." After all, I'm still trying to swallow the "MY child will NEVER..."

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My prayer

Dear Lord,

I'm sitting here with this beautiful son you sent to me.
This child of yours with the sparkly brown eyes and goofy laugh.
And I find myself wondering,
how is it that this boy who moves so fast everywhere he goes,
is so painfully slow with the homework tonight?
And how he, who can't find his own shoes in the morning,
has found my last nerve
and is standing directly on it?

Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

And so it begins

Biggest Loser logo

Season 8 of The Biggest Loser started tonight, complete with drama and tragedy, heart-wrenching stories and gut-busting workouts. The average age of the contestants is 32 years old. Five of them weighed more than 400 pounds.

Thanks to the previews online and the commercials on TV, there were very few surprises. Daniel from last season returned, 150+ pounds lighter, but still with plenty of weight to lose. In true Daniel fashion, he showed just how much heart he has by choosing Shay as his partner because she is where he was, the biggest contestant in Biggest Loser history. Shay weighed 476 pounds at the first weigh in.

Competing with Daniel for crowd favorite will be Abby. Her story -- losing her husband, 5 year old daughter and 2 week old son in a car accident -- is absolutely tragic. Her motivation for losing weight is different than many of the others.

"Death doesn't scare me," she said. "It would be easier than living." But she believes she is here for a greater purpose and she wants to regain her health to fulfill that purpose.

Speaking of death, two of the contestants had to be taken to the hospital from the first challenge, a 1-mile walk on the beach. Coach Mo was kept overnight and returned to the ranch to compete. Tracey collapsed and was airlifted out by helicopter (possibly for dramatic effect?) and never returned for the rest of the episode.

At the ranch, Bob and Jillian did the training together and if you ask me, there was too much screaming and cursing and flying "F" words. The softer side of Bob eventually made an appearance, but it was almost not enough of a contrast to Jillian's nastiness.

Jillian was screaming at someone about being pathetic and not being strong (there are too many contestants to really keep track of right now). I thought the girl might take the weights and bash Jillian in the head with them -- and I'm not sure anyone would have blamed her.

Jillian did say something to Shay that stuck with me. Telling Shay that the story in her head was her own recording, Jillian told her "Make a different choice. No one else can do this for you."

Though I'm not a stranger to them, I thought there were also too many lingering camera angles on fat bellies and flesh rolls, mostly during the weigh ins.

I think there shouldn't be a weigh-in and elimination in the first week. But there was. Alexandra, a college student who lost 13 pounds, was voted off. I'm not too sad. And really, she shouldn't be either -- she's lost 60 pounds since leaving the ranch!

I'm not going to pick a favorite tonight, though I'm a little sweet on Coach Mo. You can visit the Biggest Loser website to check out all the contestants.

So, tell me your thoughts about tonight's season opener...

Are you ready?!

T-minus 7 hours and 48 minutes until The Biggest Loser Season 8!

Will you watch?
Have you ever applied to be on the show?
Does the show inspire you to eat less and move more?
Do you exercise during commercials?
Do you watch the show while eating a bowl of ice cream?

If you just can't wait until 8pm EST for your TBL fix, click here to go to the show's website.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Filled

It's Sunday night and I'm tired, but not weary. I spent this weekend as part of the presenting team for Christ Renews His Parish at our church (similar, I've been told to the Emmaus Walk retreats, if you're familiar with those).

Nothing earth shattering happened to me. No "Shazaam" moments (that's for you, Anna). I gave a witness on Christian Awareness and related pieces of my story in which I could see God's grace working in and through me. I know what I said touched some people because they were nice enough to tell me so.

I laughed a lot. I cried a little. I ate an amount I'm satisfied with -- it wouldn't pass a Weight Watcher's test, but I don't think I was gluttonous either (I've done worse!). I slept more than I thought I would. And of course, I prayed...in silence, in word and in song.

I listened to my "sisters'" own testimonies and found myself a little surprised at how much I really care for them. And I met several new, wonderful women who answered the call to spend a weekend growing in love for Christ and in communion with others doing the same thing.

I prayed this morning for something specific to happen -- and it did. And I'm thankful for that grace. I experienced something that was unscripted, unplanned and unimaginably, beautifully reverent.

I've returned home, back to the busy-ness of life, but I hold with me all the prayers of this weekend, all the moments of quiet, all the painfully, joyfully honest stories of struggle and triumph, faith and love. And I am filled.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Back by pathetic demand...

"Mommy's legs are broken and she can't get off the couch."

It's been a while since I've played this game, but tonight I just had to. I went to bed at 10:30pm last night -- early for me, put my CPAP mask over my nose and fell asleep. The next thing I knew, Mike was hurriedly waking me, saying we'd overslept.

It was 6:30am, 30 minutes after we should have gotten up and EIGHT whole hours after I went to bed. What's more, I wore my mask all night. Usually, it ends up on the floor or under my pillow, though I never remember taking it off.

So I was psyched. Eight hours of apnea-free sleep. I waited for the energy to gush from my pores. Only it didn't. The first few hours of work were bearable. But the hours after lunchtime had me wanting to crawl under my desk for a quick snooze.

I even posted about it on Facebook:

"I got 8 hours of sleep last night and my butt is still dragging. What's up with that?"

Two people replied, one a mom and one a friend of Mike's who happens to be a doctor:

The Mom: "Cumulative sleep deprivation. It's a killer."
(Ahhh, the voice of sympathy.)

The Doc: "Exercise."

Ugh! Why did he have to go drag the "e" word into this pity party? I couldn't help myself, so I replied:

"All you doctors are the same. How come the Rx is never "park it on the couch and eat ice cream?!"

I couldda, shouldda followed doctor's orders. I could have driven Charlie to soccer practice where I should have walked on the trails. I'm sure all that fresh air would have done me some good.

But instead, I opted to give in to my fatigue and sit myself on the couch to play not one, but two of my favorite games -- "Mommy's legs are broken..." and "Dinner is whatever you can find."

Tomorrow, I promise, I will get off the couch, make some dinner and get some exercise. But for tonight, I plan to keep the remote handy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

You can't go home again...

if you expect to get any sleep.

We are staying at my parents' house for the holiday weekend. (By the time anyone reads this, we'll be home, so no point in breaking into our house. And if you happen to beat us to it, we'll know that the perpetrators read my blog!) It's been a great weekend filled with family, food, birthday (my grandfather's 85th and my niece's 5th) and anniversary (my parents' 40th) celebrations, but very little sleep.

Currently the clock in my parents' kitchen reads 3am. I went to bed a little over 2 hours ago. My own fault, but that's the way it works here. Get the kids to bed late, around 10pm. Dad's asleep in the recliner, his leg twitching like clockwork every 7 minutes. Mom asleep in her room, temporarily. Mike and I alternately watching TV and logging on to our laptops.

By about 11:30pm, Mike goes to bed and shortly after Mom wakes up. She heads for the kitchen where I join her for a midnight bowl of cereal. In the days before "have laptop, will travel" we'd sit at the kitchen table, flipping through the newspaper, the ads if it was a Sunday evening. Tonight, we clicked through sites online. Finally, one of us gives up.

I was the first to fold tonight, heading for a surprisingly comfy spot on the basement couch just before 1am. When there are several of us visiting, where to sleep is a bit of a crap shoot. Mike and Robbie sleep in my brother Nick's old room on the two twin beds, one just box springs, a mattress and some egg crate foam under sheets from my third-grade year.

My brother Jeff's wife and their kids take my sister's old room with the queen size bed whose mattress sinks in the middle, making it feel at little like you're being folded into a taco shell. Jeff falls asleep on the couch in front of the TV in the family room.

Annie and Charlie take the two twins in my other sister's old room, fighting over who gets the good bed by the door, the one that doesn't slope off the side toward the floor.

I love sleeping on the basement couch. It's old and broken in, like an old shoe. Plus, the basement is dark and cool. I'm not sure if I'm premenopausal or insulated from the extra padding or maybe both, but I'm always warm at my parents house.

I turn on the air, my dad turns it off. So, my sleeping in the basement makes us both happy. He can keep the air off and I don't sweat to death.

Of course, the sleep in the basement is short-lived. One of my kids -- usually one of the boys -- always needs something in the middle of the night at Grandma's house. And they always need me to get it. There was the time Charlie had a stomach virus and was throwing up. Or the time we gave Robbie some cough medicine whose label read "may cause excitability in children." We watched four Barney videos before dawn that night.

Tonight, Robbie was first. Showing up in the basement, wanting to lay down with me because he'd peed in the bed upstairs. Two bodies on one couch? There goes my cool temperature.

Before I can even close my eyes again, Charlie shows up, scratching himself like a dog with fleas. Allergy season. The kid is allergic to grass, pollen and ragweed. And we spent much of the day outside at a picnic. Football... in the grass. Soccer... in the grass. Hikes through the woods.

So at 2:30am, despite the fact that I had him shower as soon as we got back from the picnic, he stood before me, miserable from the itching. Back to the showers, as I grabbed his clothes and any other darks I could find and tossed them into the washing machine. When he got out of the shower, I gave him 1/2 dose of his allergy itch medicine, figuring if the first dose at 10pm hadn't done much for the itching, another 1/2 dose wasn't going to hurt him.

At this point, Robbie wants a shower too. What the heck, I'm already awake.

Finally, they are both tucked into the basement couch (there goes my spot!) and I'm sitting awake at my computer, trying to decide if I should take the mattress/egg crate combo on the floor in the stuffy bedroom upstairs or the overstuffed green chair and ottoman in the family room. Or maybe I should just give in, pull an all-nighter to do some editing for work and then sleep on the way home in the morning.

Then again, who needs sleep anyway?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A little culture up in heeyah

I thought it might be time to glam this blog up with a bit of culture for a minute. (Not to worry, I'm sure I'll be back to chatting about living life this side of crazy soon.)

Mike has a good childhood friend named Josh Goldstein who lives in Brooklyn, New York. They were part of the (in)famous "EVP" rap group back in the day (don't try to Google it -- it was only big in their minds). Josh is an architect turned artist. A few days ago, I started noticing some chatter over on Facebook about Josh and a billboard in Times Square.

Turns out that Josh is one of four artists chosen to use his art to design a Target billboard to be on display in Times Square from Labor Day to Halloween.

Josh's design is the big red bullseye on the left:

Target billboard

From Josh's website, here's a close-up:

billboard upclose

As if designing a billboard that will hang in Times Square isn't cool enough, when the display is over, Target will take the vinyl billboards and turn them into one-of-a-kind tote bags, available for purchase at Target.com/billboardbag for only $29.99! Order yours now, shipping is in January. You can choose which artist you want for your bag. Of course, I chose the Joshie G as I like to call it.

In the midst of all his high profile interviews with New York media, Josh was nice enough to do a little Q&A with me to share with all of you.

Q: You started out as an architect. How did you come to be an artist?

A: I think maybe I was always an artist in waiting, but putting that aside it basically started about 7 years ago when I began to photograph bodega signs on my bike rides around New York. Originally I wanted to put together a poster like those "Pubs of Ireland" ones, but my photos weren't good enough so I kept cropping them tighter and tighter until eventually I was working mostly with just individual words from the bodega signs - FRESH MEATS, COLD BEERS, HOT COFFEE. That kind of thing.

Q: Does your style of art have a name? Or is it just your own approach/interpretation?

A: It doesn't have a great name, and if anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears, but for now I usually call it Sculptural Photo Collage.

Q: What's a bodega?

A: In New York, a bodega is a corner store that's open late. I think there are more than 25,000 in the city. Originally they were Cuban or Puerto Rican owned but lately they tend to be run by Dominicans. They always have an impressive selection of beverage, alcoholic and not. But if you want vegetables you might be in trouble if you want anything other than avocados and onions.

Q: I know you primarily work off of bodega signs. Have you ever considered applying your style to other images -- say a picture of a person, for instance?

A: Funny you should bring that up - I've been thinking that might be my next move, exactly as you describe it. Are you some kind of a soothsayer?

Q: Obviously, NYC has been a major influence on your art. Could you do what you do in any other city?

A: I could definitely do it for any city - that would be fun. But New York would always infuse my work no matter where I am working. The city's intense layering, density, diversity, and visual chaos is constantly inspiring me.

Q: How did the Times Square/Target gig come about? Where did you put it together? How long did it take you?

A: The Target gig came out of the blue. It actually came about 3 days before I was planning to leave for Indiana for a week to visit my parents. So I ended up doing the bulk of the design on my parents' kitchen table in Owen County and in the Bloomington library. It took about 3 weeks.

Q: Is everyone on your Christmas, er, Hannukuh list getting a Josh Goldstein bag from Target this year?

A: If I can get through on their website.

Q: Will we still get a holiday card from you guys now that you're rich (in spirit at least) and famous?

A: Absolutely. I'm trying to convince my wife to go with all silhouettes this year. All 4 of us have very distinctive hair situations so I think you would know who's who. So far though I'm not making a lot of progress with her.

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Check out Josh's website. In addition to his larger pieces, he's got a collection of smaller squares for sale. I bought a series of three for Mike a while back. Very cool.

Then go to Target.com and buy the bag. Hurry, before they're gone. 100 feet x 75 feet can only make so many handbags.

Friday, September 4, 2009

9 days and counting



Looks like it's going to be a awesome season! Daniel is back. I just love that guy. Bob & Jillian training together. Some really amazing stories. And of course, with the start of the new season, it'll be the start of the 4th Frog's Biggest Loser wrap-up posts. Maybe this year, I'll watch the show from my elliptical trainer instead of the couch.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The fat dress

Fat Dress

Yesterday I wore my fat dress to work. Ladies, you know what I'm talking about, right?

Almost every woman has a fat dress - an easy to wear, loose-fitting dress that doesn't hug you anwhere. We gals wear our fat dresses on days we are feeling, well, fat. Fat dresses are comfortable and let us forget about the circumference of our bodies because there are no waistbands digging in at our bellies, no fabric trying to lay flat over the contours of our behinds. Fat dresses are all about comfort.

Except, yesterday my fat dress didn't do that for me. I was walking down the hall at work when I felt a strange sensation.

"What's that?!" I thought, panicked? I took a few more steps. "Aaaack! That is my butt!"

Sadly, the denim of my fat dress was tugging on my hind end with each step I took. Waaaah! I'm too fat for my fat dress!

My thoughts immediately went to the wedding reception scene from "Steel Magnolias" where someone commented that a woman on the dance floor looked like she had two pigs wrestling under her dress (her belly and her rear).

I guess I have two choices -- and buying a new fat dress is not one of them.

First -- and easiest -- I can change the name of this blog to the GAS (Gluttony and Sloth) Chronicles. Or maybe better the SAG (Sloth and Gluttony) Chronicles, since I've got plenty of SAG going on.

Or, and probably preferable from a health standpoint, I can get off my duff and do something about it. Where is Jillian Michaels when I need her? Maybe they should take a "What Not to Wear" approach to "The Biggest Loser" and just show up to save the sorry soul (me) from themselves. Or maybe A&E's "Intervention" would do a baked goods intervention for me.

(The fact that I've named one movie and three television shows in this entry probably has a direct correlation to the problem at hand.)

Maybe I could adopt a personal trainer? I can offer room and board to someone who is willing to be my own personal chef and drill sargeant.

I am an intelligent woman. I know what I need to do. So why can't I do it? The answer to that would be worth more to me than 10 fat dresses.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Smart media

If television is the boob tube, then social media -- blogs, message boards, Facebook, Twitter -- is the anti-boob. I mean, I'm learning so much. Every day I log on is like a virtual vocabulary lesson.

New words I've added to my vernacular include:
If you're hungry for more, check out the "Word of the Day" on UrbanDictionary.com.

Two of my new favorites are "good hang" and "magic toaster" (although I would say it in the context of proper English -- Why won't my magic toaster come on? I plug it in, but no toast.")

With over 4 million words and phrases defined, I still have a lot to learn. Tru dat!

Special



Today as I was waiting for my Chocolate Extreme Blizzard at Dairy Queen (it was my lunch, honestly), I was googling Weight Watchers on my new iPhone. Well, isn't that special?

At one of our recent counseling sessions, the therapist that Mike & I have been working with invited her supervisor to join our session. Though she swears it's not because she thinks we are a primo example of dysfunctional, I'm not convinced. Well, isn't that special?

A few days ago, I overheard Charlie ask Robbie if he wanted to play "pregnant." Worried about what that could mean, I stuck my head in the room and watched as the each laid back on their backs, put their feet in the air against the other's feet and pushed forward with their feet, wailing and moaning as they did. Guess someone's watched too much "A Baby Story" on TLC. Well, isn't that special?

Last week I was wearing a sleeveless top under a cardigan sweater. It was kind of warm, so I ended up taking the cardigan off and just going sleeveless...in a meeting with my boss, talking to other moms in the parking lot at school pick up. It was only on the way home with Annie sitting next to me as I raised my arm to tuck my hair behind my ear -- something I do a lot and I'm sure I did on several occasions that day...in a meeting with my boss, in the parking lot at school pick up -- that I realized (ok, Annie shriekingly discovered) that it had been a LONG time since I'd shaved my armpits. Well, isn't that special?

What kind of specialness has found its way into your life lately?