Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood at the United Center

As I sat listening to Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood play at the United Center last week, I started planning out what I might say about the show for this blog entry. But a lot of the descriptions and phrasing that ran through my mind seemed familiar -- like I'd already written the exact same things before. Lo and behold, after searching through my 'A to e' posts I found that I did in fact write about a Clapton concert back in 2006. Sometimes it is really unnerving to have such an awful memory.

Anyway, while three years ago I saw Clapton by himself and he played a lot of his most popular songs, this time around he reunited with his Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood and they focused on old blues standards. This probably made anyone who appreciates "good music" and/or superior guitar-playing really happy, but I was sorely disappointed. Over the course of about two and a half hours, I only knew two Clapton songs: 'After Midnight' and the slow, acoustic version of 'Layla' (which I don't like nearly as much as the original version). I kind of recognized 'Forever Man,' and then covers of 'Georgia on My Mind' and 'Sweet Home Chicago' were the only other tunes I was familiar with that evening. That equates to five songs I knew in 150 minutes!

The legendary Buddy Guy came out for the encore and sang along to 'Sweet Home Chicago' and then helped draw the show to a close with 'Drowning on Dry Land' (the entire set list is here, if you're interested). I've seen Buddy pop up at a few other concerts before (like with John Mayer at the Taste of Chicago in 2007) and he always steals the show. Clapton and Winwood's voices were cracking and fading a bit and I chalked it up to the fact that they're both in their sixth decade, but then along comes Buddy Guy, who's 72) and blows them both out of the water with his loud, commanding, powerful-as-ever pipes.

Although I'm probably giving off the impression that I didn't enjoy the show, let me be clear that I did -- I simply wish that more of the Clapton and Winwood songs I know and love had been played. Hell, the concert was free, we had box seats, and I got an awesome chocolate and caramel-covered apple from the infamous "dessert cart" on top of getting to relax for once, so I'm not complaining.

And even though Steve Winwood played absolutely none of his solo hits from the '80s, this concert helped remind me of all of them, and so the next day I downloaded 'Valerie,' 'Back in the High Life Again,' 'Roll With It,' 'Higher Love,' 'The Finer Things' and 'Don't You Know What the Night Can Do' -- a song which I absolutely loved back in the day but had completely forgotten about -- from iTunes.

Since I didn't get to hear DYKWTNCD live, the next best thing is its video from 1988, so I'll leave you with that. Extra points to anyone who can remember the Michelob commercial set to this song in that same year!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Best Stain Remover for Slobs

I have a pseudo-confession to make: I'm no domestic goddess. That's only a pseudo-confession because everyone who knows me is already very much aware of this fact. If I wasn't so lazy I might take and upload a few pictures of the mess that is my condo right now for proof. But since I have no motivation to get off of my chair, find my camera and then snap photos of my "work space" (read: kitchen table) you're just going to have to believe me.

Here's how I roll: unless someone comes to visit or there's a major catastrophe that requires an immediate clean-up, this place pretty much does not get dusted, vacuumed, or sprayed/scrubbed down in any way, shape or form.

My lack of knowledge and interest in all things housekeeping is probably why I didn't learn about Fels-Naptha miracle soap until a few months ago. I was at my Aunt Sue's house and was worrying aloud that I might have ruined one of my favorite tops because of yet another spill (did I mention I'm really clumsy?). She busted some Fels-Naptha out of her linen closet and told me to use it on my shirt before throwing it in the wash -- she guaranteed the stain would come out.

Lo and behold, it worked. And it has since annihilated some other really nasty stains. Who would've ever guessed that this cheap, unassuming bar of yellow soap is way more effective than all of the high-tech intensely marketed whiz-bang sprays and sticks lining grocery market and convenience store shelves?

Since my aunt gave me her bar, I'm not really sure where you can buy it and test it out for yourself if you're curious. I did some quick research online and it seems like it's pretty hard to find in physical stores nowadays -- but Ace Hardware may carry it.

What I do know is that I'm totally sold on this stuff. On a related note, I was really worried that it would cause some sort of allergic reaction because my skin is ultra-sensitive and will revolt if the wind so much as blows on me the wrong way. But I haven't had any problems with FN so far -- though granted, I just rub it into a lather on the stained clothing item, it's not like I'm doing anything to add it into the mix of my normal detergent. (And for the record, I am aware that FN is not to be used as a normal soap for the face or body.)

Now that I'm near the end of this post, the realization hit me that everyone and their brother probably already knows about Fels-Naptha, and therefore you're most likely all laughing at the fact that I just caught on to this decades-old household staple. But what can I say? I'm excited that I don't have to keep tossing all of my stained clothes into the trash any longer. (I truly am that messy -- it's a problem.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Wearable Towel: The Next Snuggie

I hardly ever watch live TV, so I didn't hear about the Snuggie phenomenon until after its infomercials had been on the air for months. And if it hadn't been for some downtime during a vacation last year, I wouldn't have ever known about the ShamWow. (I also was introduced to The Aqua Globes during that same trip.)

But now there's a new phenomenon hitting the nation, and I'm happy that I learned about this one right away. Recently I was at my parents' house, the TV was on, and I caught the ad for The Wearable Towel. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is:

My knee-jerk reaction was "I want one." But upon watching the commercial again, now I'm embarrassed that I ever considered paying $20 for such a ridiculous invention. Why in the hell do I need to run around the house in a towel with armholes in it? When I get out of the shower, I dry off and immediately get dressed. And if for some reason I don't want to put on an outfit right away, there's this little thing called A ROBE that works wonders.

Maybe I'm in the minority and there are a ton of people out there who keep their towels wrapped around them for a significant period of time after they bathe. So if they want to use The Wearable Towel in the privacy of their bathroom while they're getting ready, fine. But the ad had to go one step further and show people casually sauntering down their driveways to pick up the newspaper in this ridiculous toga-looking contraption. And don't even get me started on the preposterous "beach scenes."

If I see someone in a bright red terrycloth towel along the shores of Lake Michigan this summer, I am going to go up to them and ask if I can take a picture of them and post it on my blog because I think what they're wearing is soooooo trendy, cool and futuristic. And then we can all have a good laugh at their expense.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The Mysterious Purple Blob

Over the past few months, I've been saving up post ideas for this long-neglected site and have a bunch of fun topics that I plan to write about now that Lost has ended its fifth season. But I realized last night that -- as things are still really busy for me over the next few weeks -- I shouldn't kill myself by trying to publish any of the longer pieces in the near term. So I'm going to ease back into my daily "According to e" schedule with short, but hopefully still interesting, commentary about really random stuff.

Which brings me to one of the many road trips to Michigan that my husband and I took earlier this year. We usually stop at Arby's if we have to choose between any of the fast-food options (mmm, curly fries), but for whatever reason, on this particular journey we pulled into a McDonald's drive-through for the first time in a long time. With our order we were each given a tiny bag of McDonaldland cookies.

I have not had McDonaldland cookies in forever. In fact, I wasn't even aware that they were still on the Golden Arches' menu -- and maybe they're not. Maybe the bonus bags they doled out for free were made of all of the leftover cookies once the product was discontinued or something. Who knows... but what struck me as I ate the little shortbread treats was that I had no idea what Grimace -- the bloblike creature featured on one of the cookies -- was. I guess when I was younger I thought that he was supposed to represent a milkshake or something -- those drinks were kind of purplish and certainly would be kind of blobby if you poured one out of its container.

So I decided to do some quick research and found out that not only is Grimace simply an "anthropomorphic purple being" rather than a milkshake, but he was also once a bad guy in McDonald's commercials way back in the day. He also used to rock four arms!?! Here's proof:

As time went on, I guess somebody realized that the shapeless character would work better as one of Ronald's goofy friends. Here's how I remember Grimace:

Wow, I totally forgot about the pirate Captain Crook who would steal Filet-o-fish sandwiches! (He's shown at the very end of the commercial, sitting at the table on the left.) And I definitely have no memory of that crazy professor dude. Watching these commercials as an adult, I'm now pretty sure that everyone involved in creating the McDonaldland characters was taking some serious drugs.

Finally, I learned that Grimace has a crazy Irish uncle who tended to pop up whenever it was Shamrock Shake promotion time. His name is Uncle O'Grimacey... no lie.

I'm happy to have learned that Grimace is nothing more than a big purple globule who happens to like milkshakes... but now I want some answers about Ronald McDonald himself. Who ever thought that a scary-looking clown would make a good mascot for a kid-friendly hamburger chain? I've never seen a not-horrifying version of Ronald. I think Evil Grimace needs to resurface, kidnap Ronald and hide him away in a cave. Down with clowns!