Pink Trash Travels

Looking Back: Kylie!

Now that Kylie has passed (two days to be exact), I lose some interest in recapping the evening. Needless to say, I can't let the night go by without a comment or two.

It all started with meeting Markus for half of a ham sandwich before the show. Unlike America, there aren't fast food choices on each corner so we opted for the quickest dinner we could find. After all, we had arena floor tickets so it was a first come, first serve basis.

We arrived at the Olympic Hall around 6:45 - over 80 minutes before the show. Nobody was in their seat. And the arena floor was more like a gay bar around 10:00 p.m. Not that I expected anything different, it was Kylie Minogue.

Once it struck 8, Kylie and the floor went crazy. It was gays gone wild - and was so for the next two hours (with a 15 minute intermission). Markus and I withstood the heat and crowd for the first half of the show, then we opted to escape for a bratwurst and water - never returning to the center. We thought it was more pleasant towards the back. More air. More room. More opportunities to comment on those around us.

As for the show, it was somewhat of a mixed bag of sets and themes. But, Kylie sang live - performing songs not only from her latest CD X but also going back in time to I Should Be So Lucky (one of my favorites). Markus says previous shows were better. But for me, as I've wanted to see Kylie for years, it was a "fun" show. Not the best (like Janet Jackson for example), but fun.

So on a PTT scale from 1 - 10:

My Dinner: 3 (how good can ham be?)
My Date: 10 (Markus - enough said)
Our Tickets: 9 (Never a fan of the floor, but if you want the fun...)
Kylie's Singing: 7 (She's not Mariah, but when it's that loud...)
The Sets: 7 (a bit simple and understated)
The Video Screens: 10 (pretty lights, pretty pictures)
The Crowd: 7 (very international - and did I say G-A-Y)
The Intermission: 10 (boy did I need that bathroom break)

I'm digging the original version of Katie Perry's I Kissed a Girl. But Jason Nevins (the go-to-guy for rock tinged dance remixes) amps the beat - perfecting the song even more. Check it out here.

New & Noteworthy - Annie's I Know...

Annie made a splash on the European music scene a few years back with her debut album (funny how we still refer to them as such) Anniemal. She's back this summer with I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me produced once again by Richard X. Check out the video below.

Old Lady Lutman?

Because my face wasn't looking as fresh as I would have liked, I switched skin care products last week from Skeen to another Paris based brand - Clarins (I chose Clarins becasue Pedro, our friend who owns Skeen, thinks they have a good product).

I bought the Cleansing Milk, Toner, Matte Lotion, Pore Reducing Serum and Orange Exfoliating Scrub. I'm happy with the results so far but am not so pleased with the scent. It smells like roses - or an old lady cream (except for the Orange scrub). So, I'm sure you can guess how funny I thought it was when I was on the train today and glanced over at a middle-to-old age woman with a sack full of Clarins products.

I'll say this: if it makes my skin glow, reduces my pores and gives me that youthful appearance I feel I'm missing at the moment, then I'll overlook my obvious demographic overstepping.

Clipper Time

I hadn't planned on clipping Maddie today. But when I got home, and it was hot (so hot), I decided to catch a few rays while giving Maddie her annual trim. I thought about taking her to a groomer, but I wanted to save the 100 euros. Besides that, I bought clippers in Paris three years ago so I needed to get my money's worth.

Unfortunately, Maddie wasn't as capable of standing still this year. As she gets older, it gets more difficult for her to put up with the torture so she needed to lay down - which doesn't provide the best clipping position. So now she needs probably two weeks to fill in some rough spots. We'll try to walk her at night or early in the morning so the other dogs won't laugh.

On Friday - All About Kylie

It's 12:36 and I'm just now home from Kylie. Well, I actually arrived about an hour ago but I needed to not only take a shower but also grab a bite to eat. One half of a foot long and another half of a ham sandwich wasn't enough to keep me fueled for almost six hours.

Hopefully Markus will email photos from tonight in the morning. That way, I can share the extravaganza with you on Friday. In short, it was hot, international - a grab bag of sorts. And from where we were standing, to quote Grace from Will & Grace, "Somewhere Rip Taylor is saying...Now that's faggy."

New & Noteworthy - Lauper's Brink

She's back and working with some of the best dance producers in the business including Axwell, Dragonette and Basement Jaxx. Bring Ya to the Brink is now available on iTunes. PTT Pick? Echo. Take a listen then check out the full release!

In the Heat of the Night w/ Kylie

I leave for Kylie in just under an hour. I'm meeting Markus for a quick bite to eat before we head to the Olympic Hall around 6:30. The show doesn't start until 8, but we have general standing tickets so the earlier the better.

Unfortunately, it's around 85 degrees, sunny and muggy. So, both Markus and I are a bit unsure of what to wear (looks like shorts and, a sassy sleeveless top and Chucks). Though, I'm thinking it won't matter as I'm going to sweat like a pig at the concert. The floor tickets may be the best if you want to get close to Kylie, but they also will are the worst in regards to extreme heat and unwanted touching of people beside you.

If anything, one positive way to spin our sardine like behavior will be that if people disobey the non-smoking rule (which I'm sure they will), we'll be on the floor so any rising smoke will be directed away from us. That's a good thing because if I had a one-two punch of heat and smoke, I think I'd have to leave Markus standing alone. Not nice but necessary none-the-less.

Monument to gay holocaust victims opens in Berlin.

Delete! Delete!

"Seriously, I have to delete this show!" I exclaimed while watching Gossip Girl. It's bad. Not just bad. Truly bad. But for some reason, I feel inclined to watch. I suppose part of me doesn't want to go against popular culture - even though the show ranks #135 among all shows. So, why do I care so much if I delete a show that's a hit only with 13 year old girls? I guess that would make me feel old. But seriously, "I have to delete this show!"

The History of the Egg

While watching Barefoot Contessa on our satellite, I spotted Ina adding eggs to her "Flag Cake." As she did so, I wondered, "Who looked at a chicken and thought it would be a good idea to add eggs to food items like wheat?" In addition, "Who named the egg?"

Germany crowns B-B-Q king.

So Long Sally

Just when I think Fat Sally has arrived (as we've missed her the past two weeks due to family visits), she escapes us once again. We planned on seeing her tonight, but now Chris has an upset stomach. Even worse, he's afraid it might be a virus that one of the nephews had on Sunday night. If that's the case, good thing I cleaned the toilet this morning. Chris may be spending a lot of time over it.

The Chris Report

I've been told Chris' family uses the blog to keep tabs on him. So I thought initiating a "Chris Report" would be helpful for them. This way, they don't have to sort through the comedic fluff to find their brother, son and uncle.

This week, Chris is in Munich. It's that simple.

Well Hello Summer!

It appears summer has arrived - for now. Too bad I have to work today. I'd rather be wearing shorts and a t-shirt and biking around the river vs. sporting business hip casual and getting on the train for afternoon meetings at McDonald's. That's okay, however. I need to pay for my Jeep and our new house somehow.

Chinese with a Side of Naked

While we enjoyed Chinese food Chris prepared tonight, Michelle and I couldn't help but to be entertained by a couple across the way. First, they made out on their patio. We joked they should go inside. Maybe they heard us as they jumped indoors within five minutes. Obviously they don't want to be seen as they've planted trees and such to the left and right of their patio. But, they forgot to consider those in front of them. I suppose it's like a train wreck. You don't want to watch, but you do.

Looking Back: Legoland Germany

Kylie Unexpected

What a pleasant surprise! On Saturday, when I called Markus to say bon voyage to him before he left for Hong Kong (and also to invite him to dinner next Saturday), he wanted to know if I liked Kylie. "Uh, hello, Kylie, 1988, The Locomotion" I replied. So, Markus asked if I wanted to join him for Kylie's "X" tour on Thursday night. There was no hesitation "Oh my God yes," I said.

His boyfriend (Michael in NY) couldn't go as he just had twins, so I was next in line (well, actually third as Markus thought his sister might want to go, but she could care less for Kylie - and that's no fun). So looks like I'll be seeing Kylie after all. I had thought about it a few months back when her show went on sale, but didn't want to go through the trouble of finding tickets as I always seem to get screwed when it comes to seating. I'm not sure what tickets Markus has, but that's okay. It will be fun to hang not only with Kylie but my new friend as well.

Happy Memorial Day

It's not a holiday here in Munich on Monday (we had some religious day off last Thursday), but that doesn't stop me from wishing everyone a Happy Memorial Day. Don't forget to give thoughts to those who served (and are serving) our country. Besides that, it's now safe to pull out the white loafers (not that it wasn't before), fire up the grill and celebrate summer.

Eurovision 2008 Winner: Russia

Thanks to my nephews, instead of watching Eurovision 2008 live, I was forced to check it out on speed dial near the end of Saturday night as the results were announced. So, I quickly fast forwarded through 24 live performances to make it to the end just in time to see Russia crowned as the Eurovision 2008 winner. Dima Bilan's Believing has strong credentials as it was produced by Timbaland (these days, what isn't?) Besides that, the media has noted Dima's boyish good looks. It personally wasn't my favorite, but two of my picks did make the top three with the Ukraine (Ani Lorak's Shady Lady) coming in second and Greece (Kalomoira's My Secret Combination) placing third. Sweden (Charlotte Perrelli's Hero), another track I found quite enjoyable, bombed - but not as bad as the UK who took last place once again. At least Norway (Maria Haukaas Storeng's Hold on Be Strong) made the top 10 (it's quite the pop ditty). Check them out below.

Not a big fan, but apparently he thinks everyone else is. And what's up with the ice skater?

She works that stage with back-up dancers pulling in the gay crowd.

Love the props!

She looks like a drag queen, but who says there's anything wrong with that!

You'd think the busty outfit might have helped her to win. Apparently the Eastern bloc countries don't care as much for boobies as they do shaved, boyish Russians.

Classic Tom & Jerry

Now that I've seen almost every original episode of Tom & Jerry, I'm amazed at the show's content including shows with guns, a drunk Tom and racial stereotypes. Not that I mind. I don't think kids even notice. I am, however, surprised religious groups or any other "stick up their butt" activists haven't attacked the toon that made its first appearance in 1940. I suppose they have to much on their hands fighting gay marriage to hunt down Hanna Barbera.

Baby 4 Sale

We talk about adopting. Well, it looks like we could have bought a baby for one euro! That sure would save us the adoption fees or surrogate mother expenses!

Many of you will be "enjoying yourself" this holiday weekend. Some will be on the beach. Some will be on the couch. Some will be singing tunes at Clive Davis' annual party in the Hamptons. No matter where you are, be sure to Enjoy Yourself (7th Heaven Club Mix). Happy Memorial weekend!

Regrouping in Munich

We're back home from Legoland Germany and ready for bed. It's amazing how good both our nephews Austin and Adam were from the time we left until I put them to sleep a few minutes ago. McDonald's. Rollercoasters. Fish sticks. Gummy snakes. What a day. Look for pics later this weekend when I've had a chance to regroup. With a 2 1/2 and 5 year old, that doesn't happen quickly.

I Wonder...

I'm sitting here watching our nephews Austin and Adam peel their morning hard boiled eggs in their pajamas, and I wonder, "When and why do we stop wearing pajamas?" I know some still do, but most adults either sleep in nothing or barely nothing at all. I suppose the same theories can be applied to why we stop having recess - which we shouldn't. I don't think just because we grow up we should lose our childlike sensibilities.

Chicago Gas Prices

Maybe I won't be getting a car once we return to Chicago. With gas prices skyrocketing, I might just have to walk.

Just 2 Dudes in a Shower

Today at the gym it was just "two dudes taking a shower sharing soap!" It's been almost a year now that I've had to clean-up at the gym in a communal shower. But there's still something funny about standing around naked sharing liquid soap with an attractive model/trainer talking about life.

Another Day, Another Holiday

Another day, another holiday in Germany - the third this month. I originally thought it was Monday. Wrong. It's today. That's what happens when you work from home and your colleagues are in the UK. Once I start working more with Germany McDonald's, I'll know when I'm to have a day off. Not that I'm complaining. My schedule is pretty flexible - just the way I like it.

Eurovision 2008 Front Runner

In an online poll, Armenia and their entry Qele Qele by Sirusho is leading the popular vote with 17%. Watch a live performance below. She's quite sassy. And be sure to check back on Sunday for the big winner! Will it be another Abba and Waterloo or Lordi and Hard Rock Hallelujah.

Go Ape!

You can thank my cousin Teresa for this one. She sent me a link to play Donkey Kong on-line. Not any new and improved version but the classic. It takes me back to playing the arcade game on Saturdays at the bowling alley. Not only did I spend quarters galore on it in the morning before and after bowling (as well as before and after eating my cinnamon roll and drinking my Pepsi), I also returned to the game once again Saturday night while my parents bowled scotch doubles. Good times. Good times.

The Hamstring Report

Looks like a bit of stretching last night, coupled with three Advil every four hours, has helped to ease the pain. It's still a little difficult to walk normally, but I should be all healed by this weekend - just in time for me to rip it again while climbing a wall of blocks at Legoland.

Eurovision 2008 First Top 10

Eurovision 2008 has its first top 10 finalists including: Russia, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Norway, Israel, Azerbaijan, Poland, Armenia, Finland and Romania. Good thing they have this contest. Otherwise I wouldn't even know Herzegovina existed! As for this region next to Bosnia, I don't see their entry winning. But you can judge for yourself.

What I Find Funny

I find it funny that in the UK a swimming suit is called a swimming costume. I know the gays have a costume change when going to the pool, but who knew the general public does also?

Peace & Quiet

With Chris' family gone to Prague, and Chris in Paris until late tomorrow night, Maddie, Dennis and I have a little peace and quiet around the house. I'm sure Dennis is especially appreciative as the kids chase him around constantly. And Maddie can now take afternoon naps. As for me, I can get some work done, touch up the house, do some laundry, bake whole wheat bread and watch a few shows tonight other than Tom & Jerry.

Becoming a Nibbler

I can see how easy it is for parents of toddlers to gain weight. Not only are the kids eating something more delicious (chicken nuggets, french fries, pizza, macaroni and cheese), but it's too convenient to nibble on their food before throwing it away.

Don't U Hate It When... pull a hamstring at the gym - even after warming up and performing squats and calf presses? I was doing dead lifts with dumbells when my left hamstring snapped. Now I have a slight limp. I'm hoping that since I stretched the muscle, and did cardio to keep it lose, I won't be crippled for long. Mykonos is less than four months away!

I'm always looking for great DJ sets that I can listen to at the gym. Beatport says it will eventually sell them. But until they do, I have to search the net for either bloggers who post links or DJ who actually upload their sets. So, I was happy to find Marcus McBride's website, a DJ on XM Radio. He uploads his set every week along with the playlist. His style is a mix of house and electro - but all fun. A nice hour long set to keep you going either on the treadmill or in the weight room.

Eurovision 2008

Eurovision begins tonight and my German Yahoo! launch page featured a story on it today. Not that I could read it as it's in German. But, I translated it via babelfish. Here's what it had to say:

Belgrade (AFP) - the annual fight around the European music crown goes today into its hot phase: In the evening first of the two semi-finals Eurovision song Contest is delivered. 19 countries fight in the Serbian capital Belgrade around ten final places on Saturday. Among them also two Grand Prix beginners are with Azerbaijan and San Marino. Previous year winners and hosts Serbia as well as Germany, Spain, France and Great Britain are automatically qualified. For Germany take this time " NO Angels" part. Announcement Millions viewers co-ordinate by telephone or SMS, which groups and singer may be in the final round also thereby. Ten further places are assigned with the second semi-final on Thursday.

Check out Spain, one of the automatic qualifiers, and its winner. Not sure what they were thinking on this one.

Don't U Hate It When... call someone and leave a message that's way to long and probably gives them more information than they needed over the telephone? I did that yesterday. Instead of keeping it brief, I rambled on and on and on. And unlike email, I couldn't go back and fix it. I wish I could. I think part of the problem was that I was nervous. Now I sit and wait for them to return my call. Ugh.

New & Noteworthy: The Ting Tings

You can't escape Ne-yo and Stargate produced tracks in America. For example, Jennifer Hudson's upcoming single Spotlight will notch another bit on their bedpost. So, if you want something new and inventive, come across the pond to Europe. Check out The Ting Tings first number one single in London with That's Not My Name. It's a bit 80s - think "Oh Mickey you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mine hey Mickey!" Check out the video below.

The Soothing 70s

Because the kids are out with their parents at the castles outside of Munich, I have a minute or two of peace and quiet. As such, I'm listening to XM Radio and the 70s channel. There's something so soothing about hearing Southern Nights by Glen Campbell, Leo Sayer's When I Need You and Rita Coolidge's You're Love is Lifting Me Higher. Hence why not only do I return to the soothing sounds of the 70s at home for down time but also on the plane when I'm traveling long distances. These soft rock hits take me back to a simpler time of wearing Garanimals and traveling in the camper to Lake Kanapolis when the only worry I had was "Where is my Six Million Dollar Man and Bionic Woman dolls?"

Looks Like a Papa 2 Me

Did U Know?

Did you know that Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the 1971 movie starring Gene Wilder, was filmed in Munich? I didn't until today when Chris' nephews and uncle informed me of this interesting tidbit. Check out a video on YouTube that compares the famous Wonka gate from the movie and how it looks today.

Congrats Greg!

In all of our craziness this week with Chris' family, we forgot a very important date and time - Saturday morning at 3 a.m. (Chris and I try not to let slip by such pivotal moments in life without recognition). That's when Greg found out if he passed the California bar exam.

Well, in the words of the "Target Lady" from Saturday Night Live, "CONGRATULATIONS!" We knew he could do it.

A False Sense of Reality

Yes, we all know (or must of us do) that magazine photos are retouched. However, it's nice to see some proof that many of those models don't look like that in reality. It makes me feel better anyway. If you want to see more retouching, check out Ohlala.

Eurovision 2008

The countdown to Eurovision 2008 is on as it's less than a week away. Next Saturday, the world (or at least Europe anyway) will be watching as members of the European Broadcasting Union perform for the top prize. Some will sing. Some will sing and dance. And others will go over the top with theatrical numbers - like Azerbaijan. Elnur and Samir's Day After Day is pure heaven vs. hell (I think) camp. Check out the video below from a country I didn't even know existed!

Time 2 Lady Walk

Today I'm contemplating going to the gym. Not only do I need a few seconds of me time, I need to work off the cheese sausage I ate in Salzburg yesterday as well as the chocolate pretzel and baum kuchen. I wasn't going to join Chris and his family, but I wanted to once again enjoy our favorite tree cake with cinnamon. So now I must "lady walk" for an hour to burn off the calories while also not overdoing my gym time as I haven't had a day off in a week (yes, my advice to you is to take at least one day off every seven - but I don't listen to myself). Besides that, I need to watch MTV to gather a few production ideas for McDonald's Germany and the video they want me to create and manage through October.

Phoning Home

Just a bit of what you might here if I called someone back home today.

"Hey what's up. Not much. I have some quiet time as the kids and their parents are out playing. I tried taking a nap earlier but everyone returned from shopping just as I dozed off. Yeh, well, I got up at 5 so I could go to the gym before we left for the mountains. But it turns out we decided not to go and instead stay in Munich to take them around shopping. So of course, I've been tired all day because I'm not a morning person. I function better at night. But that's okay. It doesn't happen often. What's up with you this weekend? Well, I think we're going to drive to Salzburg tomorrow. I'm hoping the Baum Kuchen lady is there, though, I don't really need any as I've been a little lazy on my what we've been eating. I mean, last night, I had this German scramble with eggs, dumplings and God knows what inside. It would have been good for brunch, but not dinner. I did have the best pretzel though. It was so good. What's up for Memorial Day? Really? That sounds fun. I think it will be quiet here. We have no plans to travel until we go to Vienna, Prague and Budapest in July. Until then, staying around Munich. Besides, we'll want some quiet time once everyone leaves. Well, you sound busy so I'll let you go. I'll try giving you a call this weekend to see what's up, ok? Ok. Bye bye."

Thank U Chief Justice Ronald George

Chris and I don't have any desire to get married. However, the following words spoken by Chief Justice Ronald George on gay rights are quite powerful on many levels - including his thoughts on gay marriage and the ability to raise children:

"In contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation."

Unfortunately, now California will have a fight on its hands as opponents now attack the ruling. Funny how it all surfaces right before the election. Makes you wonder...

Rocket Man Soars in Switzerland

Forget Iron Man. "Fusion Man," or "Rocket Man", is making headlines today after soaring above the Swiss Alps with the help of two jet packs. With the price of gasoline, I'm sure it made for an expensive flight.

Classic Cartoons Rock!

Who knew Scooby Doo and Tom and Jerry were so popular with the kids? Both of Chris' nephews love watching the retro cartoons, and so do my friend Valerie's two boys. Better the classics vs. the hodge-podge of irritating Japanese animation shows clogging up the airwaves these days.

In between (how come that looks so weird when I type it?) the craziness that is the Young family guests, I had time to go for a run this morning (no matter who's visiting, a workout always takes priority). As I ran around the Oktoberfest festival grounds, I got into Flo Rida and T-Pain. The original lies somewhere between annoying and catchy, but the Tyler Nelson mix is dancefloor fun. I loved Tyler's work remix of Danity Kane's Damaged so it's no big surprise I also enjoy his take on Low. Happy Thursday!

PV Flashback

Look who's on the cover of this month's Advocate. I wonder if he's quoted as exclaiming, "Rock out with your cock out!" Something tells me he's not.

It's Family Time!

Beginning today and running for the next few weeks, it's family time at the Lutman/Young household. Chris' brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews (ages 2 1/2 and 5) will be our guests until the end of May. Chris thinks it's a good way for me to gauge my tolerance for children (considering we're thinking about adoption).

So far, so good. They arrived this morning. After my gym time, I escorted them downtown to the Marienplatz and onto the outdoor market for lunch. After a few beers, mom and dad decided to stay behind, along with Adam (the 5 year old) while the 2 1/2 (Austin) came with me back home and to the grocery store.

As of 5:44 p.m., my initial reaction is one is doable while two is a lot of work. And forget about a personal schedule. I'm already missing my King of Queens sandwich break because Austin and I are eating hard boiled eggs outside. But that's okay. Mixing it up a bit is a good thing. Though, I don't know if Maddie and Dennis would agree. They're both getting chased around the house. After two weeks, we won't be the only ones exhausted.

The Cat is "Out" of the Bag

Last year, I sent my uncle a note about my grandma. At the bottom of my message was my personalized signature for Pink Trash Travels (PTT). After I pressed send, I realized too late that by making reference to PTT, I was essentially "coming out" to one of the many family members that doesn't know I'm gay. So, in a jerk reaction, I quickly went to PTT and removed any reference of me being gay from the front page - hoping to avoid any unnecessary conversations about my sexuality.

One year later, I find out today that my cousin Teresa, my uncle Wayne and his wife Lois chatted about Chris and my life while they waited for my grandma's surgery yesterday. "How's Chris?" Lois asked Teresa. Apparently, it wasn't an email that raised the roof on me being gay, but rather a check I sent my uncle with my name and Chris' on the account. Wayne and Lois put two and two together and realized I wasn't alone in Europe. I never thought of that one.

The great news is that my uncle happily replied, "Duh!" when my cousin revealed my true identity rather than going the opposite direction (which most of us fear). He realizes I have no intention of telling my grandparents and truly just wants me to be happy. His wife echoed his sentiments.

So the cat is out of the bag with at least one more relative. I'm sure others suspect, but until the time is right, I'll just let them still "believe" Chris is my roommate and that I haven't found the perfect blonde haired, blue eyed girl to marry.

Tourist Gone Bad

She likes green. That, or she idolizes Panama Jack. Oh, and love the hat honey! I suppose it could come in handy if it rains. The Florence tourist gone bad could shield a family of four in a downpour!

Tuscan Photo Album

Being "Super" Isn't So Super

In Tuscany this weekend, Mark, Greg, Chris and I determined there is a subset of Americans living overseas that deem themselves "Super Americans." These extraordinary individuals exude not only an annoying US elitist attitude, but they also then layer this skewed personal attribute with a European one - as they believe they've evolved into someone special from both sides of the pond. As a result, Chris and I realized this is exactly why we don't hang out many Americans living in Europe (except for Mark and Greg in Munich of course). This "Super American" isn't pleasant to be around. I suppose you could say they're really not that super at all.

Back from Tuscany

After a rental car ordeal at the Florence airport this morning, we're back from our Tuscan adventures. Look for a photo album and travel stories early this week!

Happy Mom's Day!

Sure, I know June Cleaver is a retro mom and that the moms of today represent so much more. But when you think of the stereotypical mom from the past, one with pearl necklaces and a gleaming smile, Beaver's mom comes to mind. So on this special day, both June and I wish my mom (and your mom too) a happy Mom's Day!

Tuscany Live! Day 3

Today we leave the Tuscan countryside for Florence. Chris and I have been there, but last time we missed one museum (the name escapes me of course). It's a popular museum and one we've been told is a must-see. It's also such a tourist attraction that you can wait over two or three hours in line to get in. In addition, even the on-line reservations sell-out. So that's where we'll be today at 2 p.m. after checking into our hotel next to the Duomo.

From there, I believe Mark and Greg will venture off to explore other museums (as they've never been there) while Chris and I walk the city stopping at every gelato stand so Chris can sample. Later, we have dinner reservations at "Quatro" something. It was an amazing restaurant where Chris and I ate a few years ago so we're hoping it's just as good tonight for the four of us as it was back in 2005.

We then return to Munich tomorrow on an 8:30 a.m. flight. It was the cheaper of the departures out of Florence. Besides that, we both don't like to loiter around - instead opting to get up and get going. Of course, I wish we didn't have to get going so early as 6 a.m. is early for Dave Lutman. But when a few dollars are involved, why not?

Tuscany Live! Day 2

I was irritated this morning as I didn't get up in time to go for a run along the country road lined with historic cypress trees. Instead, I slept until 9. So after a lazy morning and a bowl of granola, yogurt and berries (and a shower of course), we were off to explore the countryside around 10:30.

We opted to visit Montalcinesi as our villa hosts told us it was not only beautiful but there was an impressive pastry shoppe in the village square (and as many of you know, nothing gets Chris more excited than a sweet treat). Luckily for my queasy stomach, it took less than 30 minutes winding through the wheat fields to reach the heart of Montalcinesi.

The village is charming - having everything I expect from a Tuscan destination. There were restaurants galore, wine shoppes, honey stores and a fortress built atop the hillside overlooking the countryside. But best of all (and our reason for going), was the pastry shoppe.

Pasticceria Mariuccia, opened in 1935, features an array of home baked delicacies. I'm not quite sure all we bought as the treats are still sitting in a bag next to the bed. We did, however, sample a few as we made our way to the fortress including lemon pastries, butter cookies and my favorite "chocolate and nuts" (as described by the gentleman behind the counter) - somewhat of a cross between a double chocolate cookie, brownie and fudge bar.

Of course, because I had more than I should of the "chocolate and nuts" delight, I had to return to the villa and find time for that must-have run. "Why not torture my knees a bit," I thought. So while I wobbled up and down our 5 kilometer driveway, Chris ventured out to shop for goat cheese while Mark and Greg relaxed by the pool. Something for everyone I suppose.

Who Would Have Thought?

As Simple Minds' Alive and Kicking came on the radio the other night as we drove through Tuscany, I made a comment about our current situation. "Who would have thought," I said, "that 20 years ago, when I first heard this song, that I'd hear it again two decades later, in a car with three gay men, driving through Tuscany, on our way to a villa for the weekend." Because you see, as a teenager in Kansas, not only did I not know what or where Tuscany was, I never would have expected to be there, overseas, for a holiday. It just wasn't in my scope of reality. My how things change.

Tuscany Live!

I'm sitting in the comfortable "living room" of La Bandita - an understated modern retreat with hints of rustic Tuscan charm.  We arrived last night after driving about 1 1/2 hours from the Florence airport. Unfortunately, it was a bit late so we were tired and hungry.  And because we couldn't find a McDonald's, we stopped quickly at a roadside "snack bar" for a sandwich, bag of Pringles and package of Barilla cookies.  Not the best meal, but it kept us from dozing off and mowing down ancient cypress pines alongside the road.

After sleeping in until 8 a.m., we headed to the outlet malls for a day of shopping.  And when I refer to outlet malls, I don't mean strip malls filled with Gap leftovers and Sbarro's.  Instead think Gucci, Fendi and Prada.  Of course, I didn't buy anything as I'm thinking of our looming big purchase back home. But, the other boys found plenty of reasons to pump money into the local economy.

Tomorrow I anticipate a day of visiting the small villages around the hotel.  I've also heard rumblings of wine tastings before lunch.  If that's the case, I'll be along for the ride.  In fact, I suppose that means I'll be the designated driver.  Which, based on how Chris drove our Fiat clown car from Florence, is just fine.  

Damn Dirty Bag

Speaking of irritations, I  bought a new leather bag in Orlando to replace my free Gatorade gym bag.  Our friend Lisa thought I was crazy as NOBODY in America takes a leather bag to the gym and when I return, I'm sure odd glances will come my way.  "On the other hand," I stated to Lisa, "In Germany, and Paris, it's quite normal to see nice bags as few not only have traditional nylon bags but also people don't wear athletic shorts and t-shirts to the gym.  Instead, they wear everyday clothes."  So, it makes perfect sense why I need a new bag.  And when I return home I'm confident enough with my actions that it won't matter.  

Well, it turns out this nice leather bag leaves black marks on my clothes.  I've tried wiping the bag down numerous times.  No luck.  Just today, after cleaning up dog vomit (see post below), I tried again to remove the black causing oil substance.  I have a feeling it will take years for the bag to stop producing dirty marks.  Then again, I only have a few more months (again, unconfirmed) of lugging the bag around on my shoulder.  I'll soon be driving in my new car to the gym in Chicago where it will sit in the front seat until I walk a few feet to the locker room - of course as people stop and stare. 

On Second Thought

Just when we think about getting a new puppy from the shelter, I come home to find vomit on the rug.  I know Maddie can't help it as she has a sensitive stomach.  But her actions, combined with Dennis' furballs, give me second thoughts about introducing yet another animal into our household that can ruin carpets, furniture and my calm sensibilities.  

Under the Tuscan Sun

Tomorrow night, Chris, Mark, Greg and I leave for Tuscany. We originally talked about going to Barcelona, then Seville, then Valencia, but because we wanted something new, we opted for a villa outside of Florence for three nights followed by 24 hours in Florence. On the agenda? Eating. Shopping. Laying by the pool. Running with the sheep.

Drive Time

Sometimes when Chris goes out of town, he leaves me the car. So, as a treat, I get to drive around Munich - running to Ikea, Obi (think Home Depot), the grocery and pet store. And as I do, I think to myself, "I miss driving." Because after three years, I've quite honestly had enough of public transportation. It's convenient, but I miss having "me" time while listening to a new CD, morning drive time or satellite radio. It won't be long though. Before I know it, I'll be cruising around Chicago in my new 2009 Jeep Wrangler Sahara or 2009 BMW 1 Coupe (no, there's no specific date yet, but it's coming!)

Man Handsome

If I was making an advent calendar for May, Tom Brady would surely be included. These photos taken of him at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Gala are just plain H-O-T. He looked good in Paris when I saw him at the Monoprix grocery store. But here, well, he makes fellow attendee David Beckham look frumpy. Tom's for sure a "Man Handsome."

Yes U Can!

When I tell people I do work with McDonald's (the same applies for Chris), everyone (and I mean everyone) usually has a reaction. Most don't expect to hear someone say they work for McDonald's. That, or the audience loves the house of Ronald or hates it. And most times, I always make note of how it's possible to eat healthy at McDonald's - which my lunch today is case in point.

After shopping for flowers and steel wool, I sat and enjoyed a Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad with a Diet Coke Light - all for around 300 calories and 25 grams of carbs, under 10 grams of fat, and over 30 grams of protein. Sure, everyone else around me was consuming a burger, fries and treats from the McCafé, but they obviously don't care. If you do, again, it's possible to eat at McDonald's while watching your figure.

Did you know that 6 Chicken McNuggets have only 250 calories, 16 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein? A nice little snack. Also, grab a hamburger on the run and you only eat 255 calories, 30 grams of carbs, 9 grams of fat and 13 grams of protein.

Knowledge is power. Now you can make the right, healthy and balanced lifestyle decision at McDonald's. And I'm not biased at all.

Don't U Hate it When... - The place for profile layouts, flash generators, glitter graphics, backgrounds and codes go to buy something and your ATM or credit card doesn't work? That happened to me today when I was trying to buy Maddie's sensitive stomach dog food for almost $100. Yes, that's right, one bag of dog food costs $100.

The First Review is In

I watch Sex and the City every night at 11 p.m. I have done so now for the past three years while living in Paris and now Munich. So of course, the TV show holds a special place in my heart - and most likely will for years to come as it will always remind me of living abroad. As a result, I'll be one of the first in line to see the feature film. Glad to know it's getting good reviews.