Speaking of NYE
What I'll Miss
Last year on NYE, we had a few friends over to our place in Munich. And at midnight, the sky lit up around Bavarian capital with the most impressive display of fireworks I've ever seen. So standing on our terrace, it felt as though you were "inside" a giant explosion as it's more about the personal celebrations than a city presentation.
Happy New Year's!
One more night, one last Club One Secret Affair for 2008! The track is a remix of this superstar's duet with JT - off her latest "sweet" CD that only sold 700K copies (a big disappointment for the Queen of Pop). I suppose that's what happens when you try to overlay the current music scene onto your credentials. Though, I was a fan. It just seems others weren't. Check out the "upper" house remix by a European production guru HERE.
And Happy New Year's everyone! Travel well. Be safe.
I'm hooked on Jesse Pavelka. So when I ran across a low budget YouTube "fitness show," I had to watch. Check it out below. I find it humorous that the host has the fitness models appear shirtless - especially considering I get the gay vibe from him. As for Jesse, it seems the video was shot just after he moved to LA. He's either creeping into, or creeping out of, his cheese mode where he's too tan, too big, and just a little MTV Cribs. But even then, he's just too frickin' hot.
How Will It Evolve?
Now that I'm back, there seems to be plenty of stories to share. However, the blog most likely will evolve - I'm not just sure how! In addition, I really would like to devote more time to writing Pink Trash Tales - a collection of short stories from when I was growing up (think David Sedaris). These are the tales that seem to entertain at dinner parties. People always say, " You should write about those!" So, I'm planning on it. But trying to do both, while hunting for a job, is quite difficult. On the other hand, I don't want to let go what's taken three years to build - including all of you, the fans of PTT! So, I guess what I'm saying is, "Stay tuned..."
Funny how receiving my new Hoover Flair vacuum via Amazon today can make me so giddy. We needed a new one in our temporary apartment to pick up the pet hair. And I didn't want to buy another Dyson as we have on in storage. So this way, I get one that's easier to grab and go - for both our flat and the house next summer!
Joining a gym is always a big event in the Lutman/Young household. Since we spend so much time at the club, it's important to find one that makes us feel at home. So as soon as we arrived to Chicago, we signed-up for a two week pass at Fitness Formula Club (FFC) on Halsted. It's the gym many of our friends visit so we thought it would be fun. Well, yesterday, I realized it might be more creepy than entertaining.
You see, I'm all for the gym being gay. Not only is it a nice way to meet new people, it gives me some motivation in the club to work out harder. Besides that, some man candy is always a plus. But at FFC, the gay factor goes from pleasant distraction to "creepy cruisy."
For example, I was taking a shower in one of the single stalls (vs. in Europe where it was one big gang bang shower room). As I scrubbed down, I noticed someone across the way peeking over the stall to see what was on the other side. Combine that with those who lurk back and forth through the locker room, I realized I may need to find myself another gym. That's where Lakeview Athletic Club comes into play.
Not only is it a sister club to the one we belonged to before our move, but the locker room is nicer, the windows make it seem open and airy, and the gay factor is decreased by 10. Sure, it's more expensive (as our visit today confirmed). But we don't mind the higher price of admission if we can change, shower and blow dry without worrying what's lurking around the corner (that is unless it's the one gym hottie that helped to solidify the deal today - let's just call him Christian Bale). He's hot!
At Long Last - An Update!
The Housing Report
While meeting with our architect and design firm last week, they told us one of the contractors advised them that where the water comes into the house, the pipe had frozen (we shut off the water to the house, but we never thought there would be a problem with the water coming into the house from the street). So, over the past week, I've been stressed that the weather would turn, heat up, and thaw out the pipe - causing the basement to flood.
Of course, today, it's 64 degrees outside (up from 0 a few days ago). As a result, I've been popping over to the house every day, sometimes twice, to make sure the basement is dry. Today, I noticed a few drips and a small part of the carpet wet. So, I'm hoping this is just the result of the thawing of whatever water was left in the indoor pipes after turning off the water.
Just to be safe, we'll be going to the house again tonight and as often as needed to ensure you can't float a boat in the basement. I've asked the city to shut off the water to the house (last week actuallly), but it's Chicago - they're not in a rush (though, I'm hoping my frantic call last night made a difference).
PS - we've changed the color scheme of the house so look for new drawings soon!
Odd Tastes Just Won't Do Anymore
I'm a big fan of cereal. So when I had a craving for something crunchy, I ran across the street to the Jewel. After scanning the cereal aisle for about 15 minutes, I settled on Fiber One Caramel Delight and Crunchy Oh's. Having just sampled both, I can honestly say each one is quite disgusting. They both have a distinct artifical taste. So now I'm both hungry and perplexed. I have a feeling my taste in cereal has changed dramatically while living in Europe. Those odd and unnatural tastes just won't do anymore.
Jesse on Lifetime's DietTribe
He was one of PTT"s "12 Days of Christmas," now Jesse Pavelka is the featured "hunky" trainer (their words, not mine) on Lifetime's new Biggest Loser rip-off, DietTribe. Check out Jesse in a promo spot for the show HERE. Just because of Jesse, I have a feeling I'll at least sample the show (as will hundreds of other gay men across America).
The Return of the Cursed Rental
My luck with rentals in Chicago continues. Today, after passing my test at the DMV, I came out to a car that was parked diagonally. Knowing that the roads were terribly icey, I thought maybe the car had slid a bit (as I know I didn't park it that way). After closer inspection, however, I realized I had been hit on the driver's left-rear side.
So, I went back into the DMV to ask what I should do and to see if anybody possibly saw the accident. Fortunately, the one responsible for my little bump worked there. Daisy gave me her name, insurance information and contact specifics so I could file a police report.
I'm not sure what it is with me and rentals in Chicago, but either I get towed, ticketed or hit. Maybe I should consider buying my Jeep sooner than later.
C What Happens
Usually when we go to a movie, my planning behavior goes into overdrive. But today on Christmas, I went with the flow. As a result, we got to the movie theatre and the film, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was sold out (along with almost every other film besides Yes Man). So instead of spending the day with Brad Pitt, Tom and I headed over to Kip and Neal's for a nice bit of catching-up and holiday cheer - which, quite honestly, was just as nice.
A Classic PTT Christmas
With Chris out of town for Christmas, I'm meeting our friend Joel for lunch. Then, I'm headed back home to settle in for the evening with a collection of holiday classics and my quick prep Christmas dinner. On the schedule: Twas the Night Before Christmas, A Year Without a Santa Clause, and Rudolph's Shiny New Year accompanied by a pre-cooked turkey breast, packaged mashed potatoes, a can of corn, Stove Top stuffing, a jar of gravy, dinner rolls, brocolli rice casserole (the one dish I'll be baking) and a pumpkin pie I bought at Whole Foods. Sounds like a wonderful day to me!
Since Christmas is just a few days away, this week's Secret Affair is a cover of Wham's holiday track. Merry Christmas everyone!
Looking Back: Our Day of Departure
Click through to see Maddie saying goodbye, our stack of luggage, and our first class seats (with me and my rose). All-in-all, it wasn't such a bad day. It could have been much worse. Look at me viewing the glass as half full. That's my new motto. Always viewing the brighter side. So far, so good!
2nd Glances - An Ongoing Revisit of All Things Americana
I don't remember Cheez Whiz being so expensive. Besides that, I thought they had a "lite" version. Guess not. So, for my Christmas Eve dinner for one tomorrow night, I'll be making my mom's Cheese & Broccoli Casserole dish with low fat Cream of Mushroom Soup and high fat and salt Cheez Whiz. That's okay. It's the holidays, right?
The Little Things We're Lovin'
1. Being able to shop on Sundays
2. Scanning the selection of cereals at Jewel
3. Saying more than "hello" in the elevator
4. Watching TV
5. Shopping the sales at Barney's Co-Op
6. Visiting AMC movie theatre
7. Wandering through Target
8. Buying inexpensive dog food
9. Appreciatinig the hot men at the gym
10. And of course, hanging with our friends
What It Feels Like?
Many of you are wondering how we feel about being back in Chicago. Quite honestly, it doesn't feel "real" yet. Since we're living at our friend Patrick's until Saturday, then moving into our temporary living arrangements for six months, I'm sure it will take a while for us to feel as though we've officially returned to Chicago. With Chris starting work on the 5th of January, that will help. Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury - though, I'm hoping to secure a few creative gigs over the next few months. Maybe then it will hit home that we've left Europe behind (for now).
It's So Cold in Chicago...
Our Traveling Adventure
Now that I've had a chance to recover from our day yesterday, I can finally say, briefly, how the experience was for us traveling from Munich back home to Chicago. In short, our adventure wasn't half bad.
With our 11 bags, and two animal crates, we made our way to the airport via our driving service in Munich. Sadly, the curb side check-in service was closed so we had to load up three wheely carts and make our way to First Class check-in. While there, sorting through the logistics of our travel itinerary, Maddie and Dennis fell off the cart - shaking them up before we even left the airport. I tried to calm them down, but I don't think they recovered fully before departure.
Our flight was long. It always seems so on the return to America. But Lufthansa First Class is the only way to fly. Not only do you get to chose what and when you eat, the stewards set-up a table service with fine linens, fancy silverware and even a rose. I watched three movies - all fairly entertaining including Wanted which I highly recommended.
We landed about 45 minutes late. Not because of weather but due to the late arrival of travelers in Munich. We found a SkyCap who assisted us out of the main terminal. And while Chris took off to grab the rental, I waited for our friend Tom, who was so sweet to drive 45 minutes each way to O'Hare to give us a helping hand. We loaded the animals in one car, the bags in the other, and away we went into the city to Patrick's place.
Sure, there were a few hiccups - Maddie and Dennis' plopping over in the lounge, the outrageously long line at customs and the snowy streets (and forbidden parking) at Patrick's. But all in all, it could have been much worse. Chris and I barely fought at all. We both realized it was going to be difficult and that, given time, it would all pass - which it did.
And best of all, my worrisome pimple turned out to be a false alarm. By the end of the day, it was gone. Crisis averted. Which, I'm guessing, is a foreshadowing of our next chapter in our crazy book of life. All good.
Home @ Last
Chris, Maddie, Dennis and I are safe and sound in Chicago. Right now, Chris is trying to find parking, Maddie is resting, Dennis is searching the condo, and I'm anxiously awaiting the pizza we ordered 1 1/2 hours ago. Then, tomorrow, we meet the cable guy at 8, I grab a new iPhone, we meet the architects, we visit a gym, and that's all before 2!
Ah, the fact that I can write 2 and not 14...
And Here We Go!
With 11 bags, two animal crates and freezing rain on its way to Chicago, I foresee our day of traveling back to Chicago a "hellish" one. Top it off with a pimple forming on the tip of my nose, and I'm sure you can surmise that it's going to be difficult to remain pleasant over the next 14 hours. But, we'll do our best. Afterall, it will all pass - even the pimple.
When the movers arrived this morning to pack our air shipment, I had to move the car. While I waited for them to back-up the van into our parking lot, I listened to Leona's Run. It brought tears to my eyes. I realized I was getting emotional. Today was to be our last full day in Munich and my last visit to Leo's. With so many lasts, how could I not get sappy?
So Long with Will & Grace
C U Later
We don't like saying goodbye. See you later is better. Bun in some circumstances, you have to assume that it is truly goodbye. Such is the case with Isa, our cleaning lady. Though Chris will see her next month when she helps to tidy up the flat for the next renters, Maddie, Dennis and I won't be here in Munich for the fun. So, we said all said farewell to her today - and she got choked up. Which, of course, made us all sad. But I suppose that's the circle of life.
This week's Secret Affair Club One features a pissy little former Disney star who's grown up personality is rubbing many the wrong way - including me. But this remix of her song, by a "himbo" who's touched everybody's singles this year, punches up the track with full tilt energy. I personally love the "...SSSCHUT!" Check it out HERE.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
I've always thought Eric Dane was hot. Dating back to his days on Charmed, he's always caught my eye. And this season on Grey's Anatomy, he's looking hotter than ever. Both Chris and I have made note of his improved look - longer hair, less scruff, all delicious man. Click on the image below for more images of Eric including his now famous towel scene.
Christmas in Ulm
When DP, Swiss correspondent, told us he was going to Ulm, Germany, along with a busload of gays from Zurich, we thought it would be fun to tag along. So, on Sunday, Chris and I drove from Munich to meet them for the Christmas market in Ulm. And luckily, Patrick from Chicago was still in Germany so he could drive down from Frankfurt to meet us as well. Not only would it be a great opportunity to meet DP's new friends, but Chris is always looking to add more wood Christmas trinkets to our ever expanding Christmas collection from Germany.
In short, we ate dumphknudels (or big balls of dough covered in vanilla sauce), drank gluwein (hot, spiced red wine), and froze our butts off. It was cold. But the company, and the sights and sounds of Ulm's Christmas market, were worth the trip - officially our last adventure before leaving Munich.
Alexandra's Winning Moments
What a collaboration! And watch how Alexandra gets choked up with Beyonce. She deserved to win. And how effortless does Beyonce make it all look. I still get goosebumps when I watch it.
I knew Alexandra would most likely sing Silent Night when I heard the finalists would be warbling a holiday song. She knocks it out of the park once again. Subtle, strong and all diva.
I wasn't a fan of the original song Hallelujah. And I sure didn't like it when the other finalist, JLS sang the tune. But when Alexandra does her thing with the song that was released at 12:01 Sunday morning, she makes you feel it. I'm buying it for sure - if I can get my hands on it. And if you really have time, watch her sing it again below. How she pulls if off after winning is beyond me. What a great way to spend our last Saturday night in Munich. I'll never forget it.
Alexandra Wins X Factor 2008
What a Saturday night. Instead of going out on the town for our last evening in Munich, we opted to stay home to watch the X Factor finale. And seriously, boy are we glad we did. It was that good. Goosebumps galore! Who walks away with the title? Alexendra of course.
The first time I saw Alexandra Burke on the X Factor, I called her as the winner. Tonight, she proved why there was no other choice for the UK voting audience to crown her the champion - and they did. Congrats to Alexendra for winning X Factor 2008! Check back tomorrow for her four performances from the evening - including a duet with Beyonce that sealed the deal. But in the meantime, watch two guys re-enact the diva and diva in training's collaboration below (check out grandma grabbing a tissue or grocery list in the background).
One of Many Lasts
Today was Chris' last day of work in Europe. It's all becoming a reality very, very quickly.
PTT gives a shout out to Doug at Guaranteed Rate for renegotiating our locked rate. Who knew you could do such a thing if the rates dropped between the day you originally locked at your closing date. So, if you're needing help with a loan, give Doug Smith and his team at Guaranteed Rate a call at (773) 583-0400. Thanks again Doug!
Five Star Dog Hotel 2 Open in Munich
A canine "five star hotel" is scheduled to open in Munich soon. From the video, it doesn't look like that special to me - especially considering it costs around $100/night. We have a housesitter for $30/night. Ours sounds like a much better deal.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
We all know how difficult cutting Christmas wrapping paper can be. So, when I spotted the 3M Scotch Paper Cutter, I thought to myself, "I need one of those!" Though, I'm not wrapping many gifts this season. My family is receiving a surprise from Amazon for them to enjoy on Christmas Day. Chris will be getting a few gifts. But for the most part, Santa won't be very busy. But if he was...
By Air, By Sea
Tonight, we started sorting through boxes to declare what's being shipped by air, and what's being shipped by sea. If anything, it sure keeps us from collecting too much junk. And after watching an old episode of Oprah the other day where she featured "hoarders," it makes it easy to assess if we need four Williams Sonoma towels or not.
On that note, we leave in one week. How do I feel? It's hard to put into words. Where has the past three years gone? We've done so much. But on the other hand, it seems just like yesterday when we landed in Paris with no clue how to live among the French.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
Big Bang is Exploding
It's one of our favorite shows on TV, so I'm happy to report that The Big Bang Theory is increasing viewership this season. As noted in Mediaweek:
Must see CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory reached a new zenith, with a 6.5/10 in households and 10.50 million viewers on Dec. 8. Comparably, it won its 8 p.m. time period in households and adults 18-34 (2.9/ 8), while tying for first among adults 18-49 with ABC's perennial telecast of A Charlie Brown Christmas.
That's great news. It appears the audience is slowly growing - with new fans joining the laughs every week. So if it's not on your radar, it should be. Check it out Monday nights on CBS.
Will the Saturdays Cut U?
The UK doesn't mind showing drug spots with slashed dogs and bleeding hearts, but radio stations threatened to ban the latest Saturdays song, Issues because there's confusion with one of their lines, "Can't decide if I should slap you or kiss you." Some think they're sining, "...stab you or kiss you." Check out the video below. The song definitely grows on you - especially with the help of the DD remix.
Dave is listening to classic Christmas carols as he works on McDonald's Europe's Newsletter.
I'm a New Fan
New Talk to Frank Advert
The British don't mind driving home a point with blunt messaging. The latest Talk to Frank drug spot is no exception. Just in time for the holidays! Check it out below.
Packing 4 Summer
Even though summer is months away, we're forced to pack for the hot days (as well as spring) since most of our things will be in storage until our house is complete. We basically get 10-12 boxes for an overnight shipment, along with whatever we can stuff in our luggage. So, I started the process tonight of trying to sort through what I think I'll need - and that's not easy. Let the stress begin.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
One of Many Lasts
I just said goodbye to our last European visitor, Patrick (which is appropriate as he's visited us the most in Europe with trips to Paris, Munich, Ibiza, Mykonos, and Austria). And as he was on his way to the airport, I pulled the sheets from the guest bed for the very last time in Germany. And I suppose I can add one more last to the list today - as today is the last Sunday in Germany where we'll be doing nothing around the house. Next week, we're joining a busload of 20 gay men from Zurich in Ulm for the Christmas market. It's just an hour away from us so we thought it would be a great way to end our holiday season in Germany.
Makes Me Laugh
So you know how I'm into automatic toilets, right? Remember the video I shot in Berlin a few years back?
Well, I was just forwarded this commercial spot for CWS. Check it out. It the words of the Ziz, "Genius!"
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
This weekend, a red cloaked figure with a white beard and sack of presents will be visiting children across Switzerland. And instead of riding a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer, Samichlaus will be accompanied by Schmutzli - the gift bearer's alter ego who carries a broom of twigs to punish children who've been bad throughout the year. Sounds good and creepy to me. Thanks goes to DP, the Swiss correspondent, for sharing this story.
Not so Safe Anymore?
Crime happens everywhere. However, we truly haven't thought of it much while living in the first arrondissement in Paris and now in Munich because in Paris, the streets were heavily protected and in Munich, I suppose "ordung" (order) rules the day. So when I read stories like the one below, that happened in Andersonville in Chicago (our new neighborhood), I'm somewhat bothered.
Ann and I ate dinner at Hopleaf (5100 block of N. Clark) last night. We were walking home east on Balmoral on the north sidewalk between Clark and Glenwood about 9:45PM. We were approached by a group of four (possibly five) young men. One of them walked ahead of the others to pass us and in doing so said, "Hello." The second in the group walked straight at us and as we tried to walk around him, he brandished a tire iron and said, "You're not going anywhere" and demanded money. The first man who had passed us then stepped back to block us from behind and the other two men (possibly a third) who had been trailing the second man stepped up to surround us. Ann started to yell "FIRE" and "HELP" loudly and repeatedly and they threw her to the ground from where she continued to yell. I stepped over her and handed them a small sum of cash from my coat pocket (not sure of the amount but probably $20 - $60). The group took off on foot and ran into the alley just west of Glenwood. I chased them and got the license plate number of the car that sped to the north.
Neighbors quickly appeared on their porches, and two pedestrians came to our aide. The police showed up in about 5 minutes. As we were giving our report to the police officers, they got a call that the car had been pulled over on a side street near the Target located on Peterson, the driver was apprehended, but others in the car ran off. The officers drove us over to make identifications. I identified the car but neither of us recognized the driver. We will be assisting the police in identifying the accomplices (through a line-up or pictures) if others are caught. Ann remembers the face of the second man very clearly.
We are fine. This all happened very quickly with many of the events described above during the robbery happening nearly all at once. We feel very lucky and want to remind everyone to please be careful. Yelling seemed to help scare off the robbers and the neighbors were wonderful about calling 911 and stepping onto their porches. We didn't feel alone. (To our surprise, however, the officers did not drive us home from the police station where we had given a more detailed statement and we had to hail a cab.)
Feel free to share this story with the neighborhood.
Apes Invade London
One of Many Lasts
My gym membership expired today. So, I bought an additional month pass to last until we leave on the 18th. Oddly enough, a 10 pass count is 120 euros while a month pass is just 110 euros. You'd think it would be the other way around, but I'm not complaining. I just saved 10 euros!
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
Because someone feels as though I'm doing something illegal by "sharing information," I'm going to approach Club One a little differently. No longer will I give specific details of songs I find noteworthy. Instead, I'll give clues that should help you to decipher who's on my playlist. Sound fun?
Up first is a former Disney TV star whose initials are HD. And currently, her song is #1 on the Billboard dance chart. This version is what I blast on the way to the gym when I have the car. Check it out HERE.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
Will a Fairy Godmother Save the Day?
Chris made note today of our arrival in Chicago and our expected high level of stress once we land, gather our bags, the dog, the cat, the rental and make our way into the city. You see, once we hit baggage claim, we'll most likely have three to four huge bags as well as a giant dog crate with a sure-to-be high strung Maddie and a smaller cat crate with a sure-to-be high strung Dennis. We'll then make our way through customs. Chris will grab a few bags and retrieve the rental while I wait with the animals and remaining luggage inside the terminal. He'll pull up. And then, somehow, I'll stack-up the animals, the remaining luggage, and meet him curbside. I'm not quite sure how this will happen - as it appears I'll need four arms instead of two. Maybe my fairy godmother will swoop down to save the day. Here's to hoping...
In the ever changing world of consultant work, you never know if tomorrow's job will be your last. This is exactly why, if you're looking for stability, a full-time job is the way to go. I just found out this week that both of my European clients have internal changes affecting who and what will be responsible for communications work. So, in short, I'll most likely find myself on the unemployment line. It's not a surprise. But it would have been nice for the hammer to fall in a few more weeks when I'm back home and in deep in my Chicago job search.
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
One of Many Lasts
PTT's "12 Days of Christmas"
Crime in the Hood
I've always found it odd that crime in our old neighborhood, and other historical and more expensive areas of the city, aren't hit harder by illegal activity. Because if you're going to break-in a home, wouldn't you do so in a place where you're most likely to net the most return? Maybe it's the watch programs that are in place that keep the burglars away. Either way, I've been thinking about it as once we move back to Chicago, we won't be protected by "locked buildings" and third floor residences.
So today, when I received a note from our block captain in Chicago about a break-in two blocks up the street, while the owners were sleeping, I became a bit disturbed. Someone entered the house from a rear window, the only window that wasn't locked, stole their wallets, and began making charges around 3:30 a.m. My first thought was, "Did they have a dog?" Then I wondered, "Did they have a security system?"
Having worked for ADT in marketing while living in Denver, one of our biggest selling challenges was that home owners didn't believe they needed a system if they owned a dog. Not that the dog stops a burglary, but if you want to enter a house quietly, ones with dogs make that a bit more difficult. For example, Maddie would bark. And not that she would attack, but she's a 70 pound black and tan mix so when she growls, she looks fierce.
All of which means I'll be making sure our house is fitted properly with an ADT security system - one that protects all of us. I don't want to worry about someone entering the house while I'm sleeping unless it's Santa Claus about to deliver my new BMW 1 Coupe.