The Evening Mouthful

reasoned splutterings & hasty wisdom

Archive for July 2008

Tips for Living Well #2: Eat Out Once a Week

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End Creditouilles

Life can get pretty boring pretty easily. No matter how cheery your outlook, and no matter how crazy and diverse your life is, we all need a time to unwind and do something different, preferably something we enjoy. How about eating out for once? And not just at any old place: how about at a new restaurant?

The mundane of the day-to-day can be easily broken by trying a new restaurant once a week. Don’t go someplace expensive, and don’t eat too much, just make a point of eating something you’ve never eaten before. It’s something to look forward to, and you’ll discover a few surprises along the way. I discovered that I loved all kinds of seafood by doing this.

It’s a diversifying experience, it broadens your horizons, and it will spice things up quite a bit. Try it.

Written by Dave Dueck

July 27, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Posted in regular

Dave’s Old Speeches from School #2: Ralph Nickleby

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Currently Listening
Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone
Playing Love (From ‘The Legend of 1900’)

Near Christmas-time in 2006, I was assigned in Speech Class to write an after-dinner, banquet-style speech. In addition to giving my own speech, I had to write a blind introduction to another speaker’s speech, knowing only the title of their text.

I was stuck for ideas, but eventually came up with this crazy speech. I decided to be Ralph Nickleby, the infamous moneylender from the Dickens classic, Nicholas Nickleby. Because we were simulating a formal-dress occasion, I showed up in a cravat, vest, and velvet frock, and carried a blue crystal goblet. It ended up being a very fun occasion, and it was certainly the most outlandish day at class we had.

I thought it would be fun to try and give a morally solid speech from a villain’s point of view, and this is the (somewhat embarrassing) result. Nevertheless, I am proud that I managed to memorize and deliver this speech. I had great fun writing it, and many late-night walks were taken in order to memorize it. However corny the premise, it was certainly the hardest thing I ever did in speech. For some reason.

Mr. Ralph Nickleby will tell ‘A Story on the Nature of Opportunity.’

My good… associates. I am indebted to you for lending me your attention, as I am also somewhat indebted to you for your company this evening. It is not, I confess, very much in my nature to present such a banquet to any but myself and several close business associates, but as this is not only the Christmas Season, but the anniversary of a great financial triumph as well, and as my loyal partner Sir Mulberry Hawk has suggested that a public feast would surely repair my unjustly sullied reputation, I have taken it upon myself to host this rather expensive dinner, which has, I hope and trust, been most satisfactory to you all, despite the unbelievable cost.

Many of you, no doubt, are aware of the prolific and heinous accusations brought against my person by my nephew, the outrageous and headstrong Nicholas Nickleby, as well as his libelous chronicler, Mr. Charles Dickens. This misbegotten pair of madmen has made my name into mud and my investments to ruin. Sir Mulberry Hawk has also suffered financially by the machinations of this diabolical duo, and I wish before continuing to denounce this pair as treasonous and unfit for British citizenship. Their publishings are as false and contrived as they are shocking. I have no use for such infamous twaddle and neither, I believe, does the general public, which is so generously represented here tonight. For this reason I again thank you, with all the gratitude a miserly moneylender can be said to possess.

And now to my main story: which contains elements which I have no doubt will be of interest to all of us. And this story is all about opportunity and money. We all love money: we cannot exist without it: what we have is never enough: and to get more of it, we require opportunity. I know this as well as any of you, perhaps better. I was not born the lucrative man of business you see before you: my uncle was rich, a distinguished soldier of the realm, but I was born in Devonshire to a poor country gentleman. As I grew older, I saw the terror of my predicament. Wealth and station, the only things in life worth having (due to their being the keys to everything else), were not going to be found in a tiny cottage in Devonshire. So I determined at the age of seventeen to take what chances came my way journey to London.

It was there that my rich uncle resided, The Esteemed Lord Henley Howard Higglemoore Hawthorne, and I hoped in some small way to find his favor, and thus unlock his bounteous resources. My chance came rather soon than I had expected: I had thrown together all my spare money in order to attend a social affair which I knew my uncle would be attending. Following the third waltz, I was making my way to the bar when I spied my uncle’s daughter (my cousin) being very familiarly used by some arrogant ruffian. I saw that my chance at wealth and station had come: I strode over and addressed the man in a most blunt manner.”

’Sir! I have the displeasure to ask your name.’

He merely narrowed his eyes and wiped the wine from his curling lip. I persisted.

‘Sir, it will be your most agreeable option to give me your name, at once.’

He stared a moment or two longer, and addressed me finally. ‘Leave us. This was a private conversation.’

At this, I struck him. My fair young cousin started away in fright, and the entire company present stopped dead to watch us. I merely dropped my glove on the now-prostrate fellow and bade him know that my honor and my pistol would await him next morning at Kensington Gardens, regardless of his name.

You may feel some ‘righteous indignation’ at my purely financial motivation for the incident. ‘What!?’ you say, ‘Murder as a means to riches?’ To which I reply that murder has only rarely been a means to anything else. But you will be glad to hear two things: first, money is the way to better things, and I was only looking after my own well-being, and second, I did not kill the man.

I was, as promised, in the gardens with my weapons at dawn next day, and so was he. Our seconds had marked out the paces and we only awaited the signal to fire: when a sudden cry of ‘STOP!’ checked our proceedings. It was none other than my uncle, Lord Hawthorne. He bade us stop two or three times, and, wiping perspiration from his brow, declared emphatically that he would see neither his nephew nor his godson shot. He went on to inform me that my interposition the preceding evening, while well-meaning, was an egregious error. The man I had challenged, said he, was Mr. Mulberry Hawk, who was engaged to be married to my cousin.

I feared the worst, but soon I realized that he was praising me for my gallant defense of my cousin. Furthermore, he told me that if there might be anything I might require, he should not hesitate to provide it to me at once. At this, Mr. Hawk, my opponent, softened considerably, and we were formally introduced. As many of you know, we remain on rather genial terms to this day.

My point in all this, however, is something to the effect that we cannot wait in idleness for that which we desire. I knew this when I left Devonshire, and I knew it still in London. I knew it when I saw my opportunity at the dance, and I continue to look for opportunity wherever it may arise. It presents itself in many forms, but it must be recognized and taken whatever the form. Seize it at once, and wring from it what you can. And do not dismiss this as mere enthusiasm. It works, and I know it works because it has brought me to my current station. I count among my clients many of the wealthiest men in all of London. They trust their funds to me because I have proven to them that it works.

My conclusion, therefore, is this: money is the answer any trouble a man can face, and is therefore the key to a sufficiently rewarding existence. In order to obtain it, one requires both alertness and diligence. Alertness will reveal opportunity, and diligence will wring out the hidden rewards of opportunity. And do not be afraid of falling afoul of some unforeseen danger or circumstance, as I nearly did, for it is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.

May this advice serve you as well as it has served me, and may we all experience a profitable yuletide this month. I thank you.

Written by Dave Dueck

July 27, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Posted in regular

Introducing: Tips for Living Well

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Currently Listening
Dinosaur: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
The Courtship

I’ve got a growing list of practices which I find greatly enrich my life. I would like to share one of these things with you every once in a while. Feedback, disagreement, or supplementary comments are welcome and desired.

Tip #1: Wear Real Pajamas at Night

Jammies are one of those things that are so important when you’re a kid, but gradually become rarely-considered and slide into a place of secondary importance as you get older. This must not be.

There’s something about the clothes in which you’ve been toiling, sweating, playing, thinking in all day that makes them like a synthetic skin of sorts. When they are removed at bedtime, it is like molting (sorry for the disagreeable mental image there): shedding the tired, rumpled, now-ill-fitting skin and replacing it with soft, colourful, comfortable (even stylized) attire is freeing and rejuvenating, and is symbolic of discarding all the troubles, problems and hassles of the day. You are now free to relax and prepare to grow a little more tomorrow.

Even better, at least in my case, are colourful, highly personal jammies that help bring me back to that time in my life when my only unhappiness was being unable to buy the latest Batman action figure. That time when I was unconcerned with grown-up stuff. When I could be made happy by a set of Superman PJs and a bowl of Count Chocula. Those days when I never finished watching the Zorro movies because I was in the backyard swinging a homemade sword in the air by the time the movie was half through.

It’s not a necessary routine, and my reasons might sound all smarmy and rosy, but it’s a comforting practice, and anything that keeps me at least SOMEWHAT of a happy little boy is worth doing.

Nowadays I wear some bright blue and red Hockey-themed PJs that my older sister Liz made me for Christmas: they’re awesome!! (Maybe I’ll post a picture sometime.) I’d like to get a new set like you see in the picture below: those were the best jammies I ever had. If I could (if they made ‘em in my size), I’d be wearing a full sleeper, with a zipper that goes all the way from the neck to the ankle.

This Tip is respectfully dedicated to my wonderful friend and most favorite roommate of all time, Peter Baehr, who never wears jammies. 🙂

Written by Dave Dueck

July 20, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Posted in photo, regular


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Currently Listening
The Journey

I’ve always been a fairly light sleeper, but there had been few nights before summer started wherein I found it simply impossible to fall asleep. Normally I could get in bed and be out within a half hour, but lately I’ve been lying awake for hours on end, exhausted, and utterly drained of strength, but unable to rest. Insomnia is a terrible, terrible thing to have, and I have it.

The feeling is a horrendous one: lonely agony, tossing and turning, with a strange nervous sensation coursing through every nerve, making every limb and muscle jumpy and tingly. Blankets feel heavy and confining, but taking them off creates a feeling of exposure, and leads to an irrational, naked fear. Eventually delirium sets in, and you dream terrible, unbelievably realistic dreams even as you like awake in a cold sweat.

The alarm goes off in the morning and it’s impossible to move. The ensuing day is defined by an incredible, rarely-felt sensation of apathy: nothing matters, and if someone gave you a million dollars in cash, you would feel no different than if you were horribly paralyzed in a car crash.

* * *

This is a problem I began experiencing very often once summer began and I got a job. I’m not sure if the job has helped cause the problem or if it’s just something that I notice gets much more in the way now that I have insomnia. In any case, it is NOT a good thing, but I know of some things that have helped to drastically reduce the problem in the past couple of weeks. Because insomnia is caused by having too much on your mind (for me anyways), a good thing to help sleep set in is clearing the mind of extra clutter and activity.

  • Don’t use the computer later in the evening. The brightness of the screen and the surplus of visual stimulation has been known to overpower the brain and keep it ticking long after it should have been resting.
  • Exercise! It will make your body tired and focus your mind, and is a big stress reliever.
  • Read an engaging book before bed. It will fill your mind with interesting but irrelevant information and give your mind a single, detached subject to concentrate on, taking your mind off of work, finances, and  other highly distracting issues.
  • Use a small fan in your room to create a quiet, constant drone. It will help blank your thoughts and erase any nagging feeling of solitude or utter loneliness you might have under normal circumstances.

I hope none of you have had, or ever will have, this problem. It’s nasty, draining, sickening, dreadful, and even terrifying. But if you DO have this problem, I hope the above suggestion make a difference for ya. They did for me.

Take it easy!



Written by Dave Dueck

July 20, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Posted in regular

Dave’s Old Speeches from School #1: IMPROMPTU CITY COUNSEL MEETING

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Back in the good old days when I was in school, I attended a marvelous speech class, the honourable Mrs. Ackland presiding. I was unable to complete the course due to a sudden move to the Chicago area, but I look on the time with a rosy fondness. Today I took a look through the (surprisingly large) amount of speech homework I completed, and came across this outline of an impromptu presentation to the City Counsel (composed of the other students and many of their parents). My goal was to present a civic problem to the counsel, offer several possible solutions, answer questions from all quarters, and propose a satisfactory conclusion.

Because the whole thing was ad-lib impromptu (as a way of getting used to making speeches without preparation), I can only present this outline, and not a full transcript of what was discussed. But I believe that the outline is sufficiently revealing in and of itself, and you will easily be able to imagine how my proposition was received.

As my audience was predominantly female, I took care (as you will see) to avoid being labeled a sexist. For comic effect, I was not thorough in my exploration of options. I decided that being narrow minded/stupid was the most amusing way to go.

I remember this being my most enjoyable speech, despite my lack of preparation. Also, readers of the wonderful book ‘A Long Way From Chicago’ may recognize it as my inspiration for this speech.

PROBLEM : Practical joker blew up my mailbox with a cherry bomb


  1. Get Policeman/Policewoman to guard my mailbox in future
  2. Ban mailboxes


  • Feeling of Security
  • Make a new Friend
  • No more bombs!


  • Cost to City
  • Loss of Privacy
  • Make a new Enemy


  • No more bombs in mailboxes!
  • No more junk mail!


  • No more mail from friends, relatives, and secret admirers
  • Less work for already underpaid mailmen/mailwomen
  • City will have to pay to gather and dispose of now-illegal mailboxes
  • City will become laughing-stock of state.

Choose #1 and have Policemen/Policewomen stand guard, since it has fewer consequences than choice #2.

Written by Dave Dueck

July 14, 2008 at 6:13 pm

Posted in regular