Cancun – Setting Your Senses on Fire

  Once you’ve soaked up enough of the Cancun sun that your burned skin begins to bubble, it’s probably time to go home. Fried skin aside, there was little about this trip we didn’t enjoy. (And Soo even enjoyed my sunburn. Ever sympathetic, this was merely a new toy, something irresistible to play with, like an unused roll of bubble wrap.) That I am lousy at sunbathing is no surprise; I’m not good at very much. Drinking, however, is a strong suit. When a friend repeatedly moans “What did you do to my husband?!” you know you’ve accomplished something meaningful. Such was the case our first night on the Mayan ... [Read More]

Rome’s Taxis, Tourists and Tiramisu

  Emerson once admonished readers “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” The taxi driver on our first day in Rome apparently reads Emerson. During the short trek from our hotel to the Coliseum I believe he hopped three curbs, zipped along the sidewalk a half mile in a congested area and displaced several dozen startled tourists, cussing loudly at other drivers he deemed in his way. He was also terribly interested in participating in whatever conversation we tried to have, a fascinating spectacle since he spoke no English. He helped himself to my chewing gum, and ... [Read More]

Palm Sugar, Spice & Everything Thai: Cooking Thai In Bangkok

Mmmmm. Spicy Thai peppers that are used in a variety of Thai foods.

We enter the dining room at Silom Cooking School. Immediately, the smell entered my nostrils and gave me a euphoric sensation. "What is that smell?" I asked the cooking instructor. The instructor, Nusi, a petite Thai woman with curly auburn hair, a neon green polo shirt with matching geek glasses, answered, "It's lemongrass." With a Thai smile, she said after, "You'll be cooking with that later." I smiled in return. Introduction to Silom It's one thing to love eating a certain type of cuisine. It's another to learn how to properly make it. That was the appeal of taking a Thai cooking course for me. This trip would mark my ... [Read More]

Chicago Wins

Sarah Bernhardt referred to Chicago as the “pulse of America.” Frank Lloyd Wright mused that “eventually Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world.” And Dan Quayle once called Chicago one of America’s “greatest states” (really). Whatever your take, it’s clear the metropolis anointed “the most livable big city in the US” may also be the most likeable. Unless, of course, you’re a Braves fan. Go Cubs Go, the official “Cubs Victory Song” written by Chicago folk legend Steve Goodman, includes the lines “They got the power, they got the speed, to be the best in the National League!” Well, not so much. But they ... [Read More]

The Beach I Overlooked for Almost Five Decades

Have you ever waited too long to visit someplace for the first time? After spending three days at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in the Florida Panhandle, that is exactly how I feel about the sands and surf of this stretch of seaside in the Sunshine State. Tucked in between the Gulf of Mexico and Choctawhatchee Bay in the Destin area of Northwest Florida, Sandestin is an award-winning luxury resort community that passes every eyeball test. But its greatest allure is its chief natural amenity – the sugary white sand and crystal clear water of the Gulf Coast. Having lived in Florida for most of my 48 ... [Read More]

Religion in Turkey

A couple of years ago Joan Firstenberg wrote an intriguing article suggesting that “Americans are fickle consumers of religion”, noting that about half of Americans change their religion at some point in their life. It might rightly be said that the entire nation of Turkey is a fickle consumer of religion, having changed the state-approved deity more than a few times in its turbulent history 1700 years ago the city we now know as Istanbul was called Byzantium. At the time the locals worshiped a handful of pagan gods, but Christianity was growing in popularity, so one day during a battle General Constantine (Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus ... [Read More]

Only on the Ocoee

Clint "riding the bull" with me on the left trying to hold on!

Being sodomized by an inbred hillbilly has never ranked high on my bucket list. Any time I visit the mountains North Georgia, I can't help but recall the 1972 movie starring Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight and Ned Beatty. Deliverance was filmed on location in and around the Chattooga River (not to be confused for the Chattahoochee) and featured the now-famous “dueling banjos” and a scene of a tourist being anally raped by a hillbilly. I can't help but hear the banjos in my head anytime I visit the area. This is not to suggest that North Georgia doesn't have anything else for which it's famous. ... [Read More]