Life, under construction

You don’t fix what ain’t broke, right? Stands to reason. Makes sense. Logical. If something is broke, it needs fixin’ — but if it ain’t broke (or if it isn’t broken, either one) fixin’ it would only dog some cats or run something up a tree or, well, you pick the folksy metaphor of your choice.
But I’m finding it difficult to believe that the road outside my office, the highway on which I drive and my house — my freaking house — all need fixin’. All of a sudden I live in a state of constant construction.
There’s a lot of things in my life that need some fixin’, but it seems like God’s general contractor got the wrong work order. Sure, there were some potholes on the road outside my office, but after two weeks I have to believe that the regrading and repaving job those nice, burly gentlemen in hardhats have been working on is a bit of overkill.
And sure, the Merritt is messed up. It’s more of a racetrack than a highway, but I believe the contracting company has it in for me. I am almost positive they are spying on me, and know exactly when I leave the office, so they can send out some molasses-speed tank just as I get on the highway. Its job is to back up into traffic, some bleary eyed worker doing a Supremes routine (Stop! In the name of traffic delays), and make me late for appointments. It’s a conspiracy, I assure you.
The other day, after a particularly long time spent in traffic limbo, I pulled up to the guy I believed was the foreman, and told him that he owed me 35 minutes of my life, and that I wanted them back. Unfortunately, between the beeping noise of some gargantuan hunk of machinery, the gravel spinner and the team of professional vuvuzela players, he couldn’t hear a word.
“You owe me 35 minutes!” I yelled again over the din.
“What?” was the only reply.

This guy is shoveling concrete. Really.

Then there’s the house. It’s my wife’s doing. working on the assumption that you shouldn’t fix what ain’t broke, I fought the project from the start, though I knew it was a losing battle. Between my wife and her mother, I didn’t stand a chance.
So, welcome to Construction Land, where strange guys in Timberland boots wander your property conspicuously not looking in windows, where you’re awoken at 7 a.m. by the shriek of a saw cutting stone, and where time plays by its own rules. In Construction Land, two weeks means three months, three months means a year and nobody works in the rain. I knew things were going to be bad when the truck came to drop off the port-a-potty.
The trouble is, I think the wrong work is being done. I’d love to take a wrecking ball to my marriage, for example, and rebuild from the ground up. My midsection could certainly be repaved and there are certain, um, parts of my body that could use an extension, though I will not get any more specific on that.
Then there’s New Jersey, which should probably be razed to the ground, though that wouldn’t really do the job. New Jersey is the only place I’ve ever been where you need to be in the right lane to make a left turn. Someone, probably a mob-funded municipal planner — or Satan’s representative to the state legislature, thought, “Gee, you know what this state needs? Traffic circles. A few really complicated and dangerous traffic circles would really spruce the place up.”
I think New Jersey should be a warning to all construction crews. There are roads in New Jersey that have been under construction as long as I have been alive. Whole generations of construction workers’ children owe their college educations to never-ending construction projects.

The "garden state" beckons

Then again, I suppose I, myself, am like New Jersey. I should probably walk around with a traffic cone strapped to my head, a strip of reflective tape on my butt and a t-shirt that reads, “under construction.”


Kids, and how to sell them

I was driving around the other day (I will keep the location to myself, so as to spare my sensitive ears and ego the pain of the inevitable angry phone calls/emails/death threats) and happened to stop at a red light.

On the side of the road was a cadre of middle-schoolers, mostly girls. (If you have a pride of lions or a gaggle of geese, what do you call a group of middle school girls? A babble?) A sign revealed that they were fundraising for something or other. One of the girls walks into the intersection toward my car, a bucket in hand. I rolled down the window and tossed a couple of quarters in the bucket, just as the light turned green.

Am I the only person who has a problem with this picture?

I mean, I am fully aware that education funding has taken a bit of a nosedive in recent years, but is whoring out middle school kids to beg on the side of the road the only answer? Really?

I would probably buy anything from this woman. But then, she is not in middle school. At least I don't think so.

I’m not some dirty old man — I’m not very old (yet) and I’m not very dirty (took a shower this morning, thanks very much) — but you know some lecherous pedophile is ogling the 13-year-old in skinny jeans as he drives by.

And the moms are just standing there, watching, smiles on their faces betraying a “how cute is this” sensibility. It’s not cute, mom. It’s sick.

These kids are quite literally running out into traffic, collecting loose change. What’s the essential difference between little Tiffany and her bucket and, say, Sparrow Dave who spits on my windshield and wipes it with a dirty rag for crack money?

Is this what we’re teaching our soon-to-be teenage girls? That if they want or need something they should beg on the side of the road for it?

Of course, there’s the other option, the one I like to call the “short sell.” In this scheme, you get a group of cute kids (hence the “short”), preferably in uniform of some kind, to hawk some item at profoundly exorbitant prices.

True story: Just yesterday (it might have been a few years ago — the days just blend together) I was approached by a group of Scouts, and asked if I wanted to buy some popcorn to help out their troop.

I thought, “Hey, I like popcorn. I like giving to charity,” and asked how much.

Seventeen dollars. And I am not exaggerating. Seventeen freaking dollars for a bag of microwave popcorn. If little Jimmy had been an adult I would have cursed him out, walked away and reported him to the attorney general’s office. Well, at least I would have walked away.

But, no, little Jimmy is staring up at me in his neatly pressed uniform, his little scarf tied so well and his wide eyes so anxious to get his popcorn-selling badge. So I got stuck with a $17 bag of cold popcorn that I ended up spilling in my car.

We’re not a far cry away at this point from bikini car washes in support of the high school cheerleading team, or bootleg DVDs. I expect that soon, one day, I will be approached by a kid asking me to buy some iPods that just happened to fall off a truck, to support the local school marching band.

This, in case you weren't sure, is wrong.

Not my kids, thank you very much. No, my children will have to get funding for their activities to old fashioned way — wait for a government handout.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter at or

The best laid hurricane mitigation plans of mice and men …

There was a lot of advice floating around in the pre-Irene period. Some of it was very good — water, batteries, food, the likelihood that power would remain out until the U.S. credit rating went back up — but some of it was pretty stupid. Tops on my list of idiotic advice was a tweet that ran past my pupils advising that the best way to spend the time hunkered down without power was with family and friends.

I am convinced this was written by a single man with no living relatives.

I mean, is he kidding? The best way to spend any length of time hunkered down without power is in an apartment, alone, with access to a city water supply and an ample supply of alcohol.

As it was, I found myself and my family (three young daughters and a wife) holed up at my mother-in-law’s house. With us were her husband, my step-brother-in-law, his wife and 2-year-old child, a female friend of the family, my dog, a pair of guinea pigs and a random 19-year-old French girl about whom I will say little to nothing more.

My mother-in-law, God bless her soul, did yeoman’s work (were there yeowomen? I’m not sure) getting everybody fed and preparing for the storm, but there was little she could do to feed all the starving egos.

“We need to plan,” my step-brother-in-law said. I politely pointed out that we had stockpiled food, water, flashlights, batteries, vodka, candles and matches, that we had filled all the tubs in advance, dug out the battery-powered radio and downloaded a hurricane-watch app on my smartphone.

“But we need to plan,” was his reply.

It was about this time that my mother-in-law decided that we needed to coordinate in advance, and come up with contingencies for every conceivable possibility. “If a tree falls on that side of the house, you should call us,” she told me, suggesting, perhaps, that she wouldn’t know and would need to be told.

The 2-year-old, delightful little imp that he is, has this habit of shrieking to get what he wants, which was not pleasant when what he wanted was to be taken outside in gale-force winds.

The French girl, on vacation for a month in New York and hiding out from the storm with our crew, gave the Francophones and Francophiles among us a chance to speak the language of Louis. The rest of us had to be content to listen in English, oblivious to the actual content of the conversation but assured that it was fascinating beyond compare.

The rest you can guess. Trees fell, power went out, nerves got strained and the whole weekend ended in murder most foul.

Not really, though that’s how I imagined it. The French girl in a maid’s outfit, needing to be comforted, the kids frightened, knowing that a killer was on the loose, suspicion falling on all of us (we all had a motive, of course) and the entire film taking place while the storm raged outside.

But, alas! There was no murder, though I admit to contemplating it once or twice and am confident I’m not the only one. I know more now than I ever have about Vogue and its many uses about Karl Lagerfeld (he was the drummer for Styx, right?) and about why staying at home, alone, is the best thing one can do during a hurricane.

Anyway, you know what they say — tout est bien qui finit bien.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow us on Twitter at or find us at To receive breaking news first – simply text the word nhnews to 22700. Standard msg+data rates may apply.

Musical multiculturalism gone haywire

At a reception last weekend I had the rare opportunity to hear an African-American soul band sing Havah Nagilah at an Orthodox Jewish wedding in Old Greenwich, Connecticut.

Now, they could sing — I mean, really sing. But the oddness of it struck me. I had already heard (and written about) aTibetan punk band I discovered, and I own an LP of Harry Belafonte singing some of my grandmother’s favorite Yiddish tunes, but I felt, at that wedding, that I had hit a new multicultural high.

I just wish someone had given them a copy of the lyrics.

The author Stanislaw Lem described race as a deity to which we make burnt offerings. If so, that deity has become some Egyptian amalgam-God, with the head of an eagle, the body of a crocodile, the tail of a lion and breasts that look like Pamela Anderson’s. And we don’t make burnt offerings or sacrifices any longer — we make concessions.

Don’t get me wrong — if you’re a white kid from Litchfield and have a hankering to sing pre-Civil War spirituals, go right ahead. I mean, Asian hip-hop dancers are all the rage nowadays, and I have no problem with that. Just because you’re of Irish descent, it doesn’t mean you have to play the bagpipes. God forbid.

And that was, by far, the best rendition of Havah Nagilah I have ever heard. So what if the words were all slightly off? I never knew how much that song rocked before now.

That being said, I have put together some of my hopes and dreams for musical multiculturalism. I doubt any of these will actually happen, but I hope that, by putting it out there, someone will take the hint.


Donny Osmond sings the works of T-Pain

Osmond would shed that “white and nerdy” stigma and really show us his versatility if this would actually occur. He’s got a decent voice, so he wouldn’t need to be Autotuned all that much. And he might jazz it up a bit — Vegas-ize the hard-core rap of Mr. Pain.


Adele — the country album

This is not beyond the realm of reason. She might produce an album with Taylor Swift or something. The joy of hearing a white, British soul singer take on, say, “The Devil went Down to Georgia” would be so special.


System of a Down and The Klezmatics

This would be spectacular — an Armenian metal band and some Klezmer all stars playing together? It might sound like a cacophony of castrated cats or it might be the music that aligns the planets and brings world peace, like “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” said Wyld Stallyns would.


Itzhak Perlman plays with Michael Flatley

I don't know, he might win.


OK, so maybe that’s in bad taste. I might as well suggest that Stephen Hawking goes on “Dancing with the Stars.” Still, life would just be a bit better, should this actually happen.


Gaga sings Ray Charles

There would be something subtly off about this, but I can’t put my finger on it. I mean, they’re both great performers, right? Lady Gaga certainly has a decent voice. Ray Charles was one of the most celebrated musicians of the last 100 years. But still, I feel like it wouldn’t quite work, like the world might actually end if this happened, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter at

2,500-year-old marriage advice

A step-cousin-in-law of mine is getting married, so I thought I would devote this column to him, and offer some advice on maintaining a happy marriage. I will use, for absolutely no reason at all, the sayings of the 5th century BC Chinese philosopher Confucius. I suppose it’s not a bad idea, considering the power China will wield in the coming years, to get in their good graces. (Are you reading this, President Hu Jintao?)

They called this guy "The Lady Killer."


“Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.”

It’s a common belief of married men that they are always in the wrong in any argument. This is not precisely true — it’s not that they’re always wrong, it’s that they’re never right. It’s a subtle difference, I know, but central. Take the advice of Confucius and disregard any injury your wife may inflict. Instead of fighting back when she says you look like a slob, why not respond with, “My you look lovely this evening.” Passive aggression works every time.


“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Marriage is not a journey of revenge, and I am not suggesting anything akin to murder-suicide. Really, I’m not. I’m suggesting that if you feel in any way slighted by your new bride, refrain from revenging your “honor.” The time it takes to dig two graves will help you put a bit of distance between you and your anger, and, if you don’t end up committing murder, you can use the two newly dug graves for flower beds. She’ll like that.


“When anger rises, think of the consequences.”

See above.


“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.”

This should be interpreted sexually. I’ll say nothing more.


“Have no friends not equal to yourself.”

A woman often judges a man by his friends, even after marriage. So look around at all the buddies you’ve been carrying along since high school. If they don’t measure up, drop them like the U.S. credit rating. You’ll eventually have to make the choice between your wife or your friends. If you choose the woman, make sure your friends are up to snuff.


“Hold faithfulness and sincerity as first principles.”

This is really true, in all senses. Straying from the path of faithfulness will result in pain beyond measure. I do not speak from experience as I am the most faithful and sincere husband that was ever made or married. There are some who would say not to expect the same from your wife, but I disagree. Of course, I live in a fantasy world.


“When you have faults, do not fear to abandon them.”

Your wife will expect you to abandon all your faults, so why fear it? Take your faults out for a drive to the country and let them out of the car. It’s the most humane thing to do, for you, for your marriage and for the faults. Faults are like wild animals in that they need to be set free.


“He who will not economize will have to agonize.”

This is truly the best piece of advice for a happy marriage. Money troubles are the cause of much strife, but don’t take the word “economize” too literally. It does not refer to getting hair or nails done, or birthday presents, anniversary gifts, flowers on Valentine’s Day or anything else that she wants. Ever.


And, when in doubt, look to the wisdom of the ancients. I hear Genghis Khan said some right-on things about fatherhood. Maybe not.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter at

Telling tales and cutting corners

I consider myself to be a creative person, though some situations stretch even my seemingly boundless creativity to its limits.

(Wait a sec — that doesn’t make any sense. If something is boundless, it has no limits. I suppose that’s what I get for sitting down to work after only a single cup of java. Or, rather, that’s what you get.)

Pictured: My creativity

Case in point: My two youngest daughters, ages 6 and 8 respectively, require me to tell what they refer to as “a made-up story” whenever I put them to sleep. As I’ve attempted to explain, most stories are made up, unless they’re non-fiction and, even then, you can’t be sure.

They then explain to me that they don’t care what I call it, nor do they want a dissertation on the malleability of history — they just want me to make up a story, on the spot, right now.

As you might expect, this situation has measured the depths of my apparently infinite imagination.

(Stop. If something is infinite it can’t be measured, right? Maybe you could measure a portion but you’d know that your measurement is only a shade of the vast truth. Need more coffee.)

So, being required, night after night, to dream up some interesting, unique, child-oriented story has caused me to cut some corners. I started off strong but, after doing this for a few years now, I’ve been forced to come up with certain, well, let’s call them tactics.

As a treat, for your enjoyment (or ridicule), I’d like to offer up some of the results — what follows are some excerpts from “made-up” stories I’ve told to my daughters when the well ran dry and, where applicable, a bit of context.


The Tale of the Prince, the Princess and the Evil Sorcerer

A long time ago, in a kingdom far, far away, there was a farm boy named Luke, who lived with his aunt and uncle. Once day, one of the servants on the farm disappeared and Luke went on a journey to find him. While he was searching for the servant, he met an old man named Ben, who told him that Luke’s father had been a great warrior…


The Boy and the Girl Who Fell In Love Anyway

"... and they lived happily ever after."


Once there were two families. Even though they lived in the same town and were very similar in many ways, they didn’t like each other at all. The parents didn’t like each other, and the grandparents didn’t like each other, and the grandparents’ grandparents didn’t like each other. But one of the families had a daughter, and the other family had a son, and they liked each other a lot, though it didn’t work out very well in the end…


(Here’s that bit of context I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, in an effort to prime the pump as it were, I take a glance around the room and come up with a story about whatever’s lying around. I call it my “magical realism” series. Here’s a few examples of the result.)


The Magical Hairbrush

There was was a magical hairbrush that wouldn’t stop brushing hair. It brushed and it brushed and its brushed until the poor girl who owned the brush was completely bald.


The Magical Water Glass

Once there was a magical water glass that wouldn’t stop filling itself. It filled and it filled and it filled, until it over flowed. The little boy who owned the glass tried to drink the water but he could drink all of it so, soon enough, his room turned into a pond.


As you can see, my imagination is not infinite, my creativity is not boundless and I am very quickly running out of ideas. In fact, I have no idea at all how to end this column.

Oh, yeah — that’s how.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him on Twitter at

It’s no-drama week at Chez Fenster

I have decided to live in a bubble for the next seven days. A no-drama bubble.

Parents and spouses in particular, but I believe all people can relate to this idea. I noticed the other day that there was so much drama in my life — at work, at home, with my kids, with my house, with my wife — and I realized how much it was getting me down.

To be honest, I broke into tears when I came to that realization. They began softly, one tear gently dripping down my unshaven cheek, but soon I was forced to my knees by the sheer weight of all the drama in my life and began to sob uncontrollably.

I raised my arms to the heavens and cried, “Why, dear God, why am I subjected to this never-ending string of overly dramatic reactions? Why?”

That’s when the anger hit. The indignation took hold of my clenched fist and raised it in challenge. “No longer,” I said. “I will no longer allow myself to be buffeted about like a ship in a storm of drama. I take my stand. Here and now, I take my stand.”

Then I had lunch.

Seriously, I’m trying to be unflappable this week. I imagine it’s good for my heart, although my doctor is more concerned with the little things, like a terminal nicotine addiction. Still, it couldn’t hurt.

EE Cummings. There's a guy who new about exclamation points and nicotine addiction. Oh, and poetry, too.

I’m just not going to let stuff get to me. What? Connecticut is going down the tubes? Eh. Whatever. More and more companies are firing folks in the state and hiring workers overseas at a fraction of the cost? So what? Between the Democrats and Republicans we have a debt crisis solution that will not really help our economy other than pushing the problem away until after the next election? Oh well.

What? I’ve been absent and late to work too many times and might lose my job? Feh. My wife has been texting back and forth with some dude who was just released from the mental institution? Fine. My kids are going into therapy and probably will end up addicted to painkillers? Hey, life goes on.

To be completely fair, I do tend to over-blow situations. I wouldn’t say I’m a drama king (or queen), but certainly royalty. Little things happen and I FREAK OUT, extrapolating all the possible negatives that could theoretically occur. I make mountains out of mole hills, as a hobby. I have several mole-mountains already, kept in a lovely display case. I take them out to show my therapist and he laughs.

All of those personal problems mentioned above are fabricated (really) — my dramas are much more quaint. No more milk? Holy motherloving God — what happens if WE NEED TO EAT SOME CEREAL? The humanity!!!

And that’s really the essence of what I’m trying to do — reduce the exclamation point quotient. With me, things tend to be in the three to four exclamation point range, when they are very obviously one or one-and-a-half exclamation point problems.

This week, I’m cutting out those extra lines-with-dots-underneath and resorting, instead, to some very firmly placed periods.

Just like that one, at the end of that sentence. And that one — and like this one, right there.

My only real concern is the anger-driven hole soon to be in my keyboard, right next to the comma. Time, I think, to write some E.E. Cummings-inspired poetry.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him of Twitter at

The Joe and Jordan Show

We’ve been putting together the Joe and Jordan show each week. It’s been fun, but I’ve been thinking about changing the format.

This week we talk about Harry Potter (again), the Smurfs (unfortunately) and a call to viewers to get involved and appear on screen with us.

The relative value of junk

With the heat being in the dear-God-I’m-moving-to-the-Arctic-unless-this-lets-up-soon range, I was trying to figure out interesting things to do in an air-conditioned environment. I went to the movies (“Harry Potter”), we went out to eat (Indian) and decided, after a bit of argument, to drive around looking for estate sales.

It’s not something I had ever really done before. The idea always seemed odious — but my wife explained it to me. It’s all about the difference between estate, tag and garage sales and that “junk” is a relative term.

I took the old saw, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” or, to put it a different way, “one man’s son’s comic book collection is another man’s ‘holy cow, that’s a mint edition, signed copy of ‘Watchmen’ for only $2 — quick buy it before he figures out what he’s selling,’” and converted it into a mathematical equation.

It’s simple: Sale (+ estate) (- garage) (- tag) X home value = Y, where Y equals “the relative value of items available.”

Perhaps a bit of explanation is required here. You see, by my logic, an “estate” sale is the most evolved kind of sale. The folks are getting rid of nearly everything, and the word “estate” connotes some kind of well-to-do household. A “garage” sale is usually just a one-family sale, where, for whatever reason, they’re trying to cleanse themselves of all unnecessary items (read broken/old/out of date), while a “tag” sale is a often a multi-family sale where, in good Communist fashion, they sell their junk to each other.

And when the home value is high, the couch, for example, is real leather. So we drove down to Greenwich, on the assumption that they had the quality junk down there. Hedge fund junk is a better class of junk. Lace doilies, that kind of thing.

I discovered that estate sales contain an additional level of fun — they’re usually held inside (yay for air conditioning) and you get to go into someone’s home and root around their stuff. It’s like legal burglary.

We went down to Greenwich and headed north — through Darien (skipping right by Stamford), into Rowayton and Westport, stopping at estate sales along the way and, you know what? I didn’t buy a thing.

Oh, there were a couple of items I might have purchased — an old Victrolla, some neat books, a sweet omelet pan — but I just kept thinking, “Do I really need a used, crank-able record player?”

Plus, I started to get depressed. I kept thinking about my father’s house, and how much junk he’s collected over the 40 years he’s lived there, many of it at garage, tag and estate sales. He’s got an old accordion with two missing keys. He’s got electronics, and little wind-up toys. He’s got “The Complete Gilbert and Sullivan.”

When he passes on, it will be my job to hold the inevitable estate sale. And the 40 years he spent in that house, essentially the sum total of his life, will amount to a bunch of stickers that read “$5 or best offer.”

I think I’ll stick to cooling off at the movies.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him of Twitter at



My vegan lifestyle, day one

I did it. I took the bitter pill, put my fingers in my ears and jumped, albeit with a self-imposed safety net firmly in place.

Today as I (metaphorically) put pen to paper (keeping in mind that no pens or paper were involved in writing this at any point) is day one of my new vegan lifestyle.

And I’m already regretting it.

For the uninitiated, a “vegan” is not someone hailing from star system Vega, nor is it a devoted follower of Suzanne Vega — a vegan is a lunatic who, for some ungodly reason decides to swear off all animal products of any kind. No meat, no dairy, no nothin’. Just salads and masochism.

Lunch contained none of these in any way.

I don’t often eat breakfast, at least a breakfast that consists of more than a hypodermically injected shot of caffeine, but I was hungry this morning, my stomach perhaps looking forward to things to come.

I went to the little cafeteria in my building and told the always-amiable proprietor that I would like an order of “toast with b-” and stopped myself just in time. He didn’t have any jam or honey on hand and I couldn’t figure out anything else to put on a damn piece of bread except pastrami. I went away hungry.

I ignored the pangs of hunger throughout the morning, drinking coffee after coffee and smoking cigarette after cigarette, hoping to fool my digestive tract into believing that food had, in fact, been ingested. It didn’t buy it.

On we go to lunch. I ordered a salad, which is not unusual for me. My typical salad, though, uses lettuce as more of a vehicle for prosciutto, ham, salami, turkey, three types of cheese and ranch dressing with croutons than as the main character.

This salad was far more green in color than I am used to and, take my word for it — if anybody tells you that fat free salad dressing is as good as the regular kind, slap them in the face. Go ahead — slap in their little, dirty, lying faces. Do it.

I was hungry before lunch. As I said, no breakfast will do that to you. But — and get this — I was actually hungrier afterwards. The vegan diet is like some weird anti-matter ray. You eat and eat and eat and get hungrier the more you eat, which is just insane. I went out to the store to find something, a slab of tofu, an avocado roll — anything — and found myself, quite unintentionally, in the drive-thru at McDonald’s.

Now, now, I’m weak, I know that, but I’m not that weak. I turned around and went to a store that specializes in “natural” foods, although how anyone can call processed soy product “natural” defies logic.

Still, it did the trick. I got a container of un-chicken salad (that is, soy processed to taste something akin to chicken) and ate it sans bread. It wasn’t good.

I did mention a self-imposed safety net earlier, and yes, I have only committed to one week of veganism — one tortuous, Hellish, utterly stupid week of pain. Kind of cheap, I know, but this way I know that there’s a medium-rare light at the end of the vegetable tunnel.

I can do a week anywhere, under any conditions. I have a feeling that a vegan week will be like a week during the Bosnian conflict, a week in Hanoi, 1973, a week on the freaking moon without an air supply or a week of listing to nothing but Air Supply, which would be just as bad.

Jordan Fenster is the entertainment editor at the New Haven Register. He can be reached by email at Follow him of Twitter at