Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fiery Things

So this is what my brother will be doing tonight. (if you don't feel like clicking, he and his fiancee formed a company called Community Art Makers and got a contract for First Night Austin to build a 30 foot tall working clock and then burn it to the ground after dark. People can write their resolutions on a slip of paper and attach it to the clock's chain so they get burned too.

It's exciting enough that they made the paper, but I'm glad to have an official explanation of why they do what they do. Building something really big just to destroy it is really hard to explain to people who don't get the appeal right away. I can go on and on about performance art and spectacle, but I usually have to fall back on, "well, what else are you going to do with a 30 foot tall six-armed wooden monkey in a cowboy hat?"

As for me, HA and I are breaking with our New Years Eve tradition by actually leaving the apartment. I usually make an overly fancy dinner and we have a cozy evening in. But thanks to weather, we missed out on fried chicken at Galvin's in St. Joseph Missouri. I never ever, hardly ever eat fried chicken, but now that my tastebuds have gotten their hopes up, I need some fried chicken. So we're going to walk over to Unidentified Flying Chickens, this funky little Korean fired chicken place in Jackson Heights. 

And THEN we'll have a cozy evening in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Back Muthafuckas!

Things I missed during my week in the Midwest spending the holiday with HA's family.
  • Places where one can obtain food and caffeine that are within walking distance.
  • Walking (though we had a nice walk with HA's uncle around not one, but 2 man-made lakes on Friday. We had to drive to both of them, though, so I still missed not having to do that.)
  • My trusty humidifier
  • People who swear
  • Adults who raise their voices. (Kids were yelling for the usual kid reasons, but apparently, Midwesterners don't yell out of anger or out of wanting to say something to someone in the next room and not wanting to enter the next room. Since I'm from Brooklyn and have a close extended family more than twice the size of HA's, the not yelling thing strikes me as unnatural. Even the calling everyone in to dinner was a pale imitation of raising one's voice.)
  • Vertical development (as opposed to horizontal development, aka sprawl). I think there may be such a thing as too much sky. I'm a city gal. It freaked me out a little.
  • Restaurants where you can order a Monte Cristo and not get your sandwich deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. (It wasn't mine. I woulda sent that bad boy back because I don't eat meat-filled beignets for lunch. Or ever.)
  • Restaurants where the server waits until you're finished eating your meal before asking if you want dessert. (Naw, just slap some chocolate sauce on this baked potato I'm still working on.)
Cool Things I Discovered in the Midwest:
  • You can buy cheese in the gift shops of Milwaukee airport. It is not refrigerated and yet does not spoil. I can only assume they use the same magical food preservation technology behind Swiss Colony meat and cheese assortments. (Oh how I loved it when my parents got one of those as a hostess gift.) We totally bought one. It is glorious.
  • The gift shops of Milwaukee airport also sell sweatshirts that say "Nothing Tips Like a Cow" and the famous Wisconsin cheese hats.
  • Since Milwaukee is the main hub of Midwest Airlines, it's where the planes fill up on potable water. Since Milwaukee is freaking cold in the winter, this means the system freezes up and there's little to no drinkable water on the planes, and therefore no coffee. But there's a nice place to buy coffee in the Milwaukee airport and the copious delays caused by weather in other places means I had plenty of time to obtain and consume a Cafe Mocha.
  • If you bring your own instant espresso because your relatives don't do caffeine, you can grab the chocolate syrup while getting the milk and make your own Cafe Mocha and no one will be the wiser.
  • Gift shops at Kansas City International Airport now sell bottles of BBQ sauce small enough to take through security. (The checkpoints are right before the gates, so the only thing you can buy once you've gone through security is a small assortment of beverages. So you don't go through security until you absolutely have to. Which means being tempted to buy one of the boxes of assorted BBQ sauces that you'd end up having to have shipped home because of the liquid ban. Considering that some of the security checkpoints are less than 15 feet away from the gift shops, you'd really think that they'd make an exception.)
  • You can also buy an entire rack of baby back ribs at the gift shops of Kansas City International Airport. They're refrigerated so I have no idea how we'd get them home to NYC. Though next time we visit, maybe we'll pick up some ribs and sauce on our way to baggage claim and tell whoever's picking us up that we've got dinner covered.

So, what do you miss when visiting family? And what cool things have you discovered?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fruitcake Day

I'm almost done with the Christmas knitting and today I made the fruitcakes. It's all coasting downhill after the fruitcakes.

No, I don't mean the usual radioactive fruitcake. I make Alton Brown's Free Range Fruitcake, which requires a trip to the supermarket, a trip to Whole Foods because my local supermarket doesn't have dried blueberries, unfiltered apple juice, and a few other necessaries, and one last minute trip to the supermarket because I'd vastly underestimated the amount of sugar needed and vastly overestimated the amount of sugar in the house.

Remember--I don't own a car, so all of this stuff is carried home on foot or by subway and then foot.

Traditionally, I make one (1) fruitcake for my mother, and I get the extras. The recipe calls for a 9 inch loaf pan and I have an 8 incher, so mini-muffins happen. Well, NOW they happen. The first coupla times, I just put a cookie sheet underneath to catch the spillings and ate those.

Then last year or the year before, I made 2. Which really meant, 1 fruitcake and a bunch of fruit cupcakes. I may have sent some to my in-laws in Missouri--it's all quite fuzzy. 

This year, I decided that I should make three (3). One (1) for my mom, one (1) for me/us and one (1) to take with us when we visit the in laws in the great Midwest. 

I'm sure you've already guessed that at some point today, I realized that I had not thought this completely through. For example, how I was going to do this with one (1) loaf pan, one (1) muffin tin and (1) mini muffin tin. I had ruled out the layer cake pans because I don't have any tupperware that would hold a cake that shape and size. After making a big mess by taking the muffins and mini muffins from the pans before they'd cooled (when the recipe so totally says you have to let it cool in the pan), so that I could wash and re-use the pans, I decided to break out a cake pan and cut that one into pieces to fit it into some plasticware. While getting that pan, I discovered that I own 2 mini-muffin pans, which wouldn't have made a significant difference, but would've helped. 

At some point during the day, I became very, very tired and started to hate fruitcake. Which was a problem because everywhere I turned, there was fruitcake cooling. 

But we had some for dessert and it's all packed away now, so I can relax now. With any luck, I'll remember to take pictures of everything before giving them away, so I can post them on Ravelry and blog about them in a coupla weeks when I can think straight again. 

The other night, I met a knitter (she recognized my Wavy, I recognized her Unoriginal Hat--it was like a secret handshake or something) and she told me that she's only giving gifts from the gift stash this year. I am SO doing that next year. Set yourselves a reminder for December 10 next year so you can remind me I said that while I'm caught up in the knitting hysteria again.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tradition!

I am firmly in the grips of the traditional Christmas knitting and crafting hysteria. I thought I was reasonably on track until I realized that we're leaving for Missouri on the 22nd.  Which means that we're exchanging gifts with my parents here in NYC on the 21st. Oh, and it might be a good idea to get get the presents for my brother and his fiancee in the mail before then. And my parents' Christmas/Hannukah party is the 20th, so that's when I'll be giving gifts to many of the little kids in my family. 

Um, yeah. So that means for me that Christmas is not 2 weeks away. It's only a week and a half away. At least as far as knitting deadlines are concerned.

Well, yes, I could knit some of the presents for the Missouri people on the plane and while we're there. Too bad I finished those first. Like weeks ago. I'm making eleventy million Korknisses for everyone I'm giving gifts too and I could do some of those in transit. But my family is way bigger than HA's, so I still have to get the bulk of them done by the 20th. Which is not enough days away from now. 

I've also already done the traditional culling of the list. Ain't nobody getting any crocheted cheeseburgers [Ravelry link] this year after all. It's also entirely possibly that the pillow I started sewing for my cousin's kid's birthday last Spring will go unfinished. 

We're going to attempt to put together the wedding scrapbooks this weekend, but even I think that that will end in the realization that our parents will be getting them as Valentine's Day gifts. Wedding albums are supposed to be a big deal and not look like something thrown together while in the throes of holiday gift making. And neither one of us has ever scrapbooked. 

Yeah, who am I kidding? I think I just bought myself a bunch more knitting time this weekend. 

So, how are you handling the  gift-making frenzy? Got any scrapbooking advice?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Exactly How It Sounded

Remember how I said that that sound you heard on Thanksgiving morning was millions of people turning to their kids and grandkids and asking what the hell rickrolling is? 

Well, author Jennifer Weiner's mother was one of the millions. Scroll down to #5 to see how that conversation went. 

It's just about how the conversation would've gone with any number of my relatives. Fortunately, I have a large extended family, so I have any number of cousins who I could've tagged in to take over.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ouch

So I'm revising my resume so I can apply for an internship at some publication as part of my I'm finally gonna be a writer career change.

The first step is to trim down all my technical jobs so that it's clear that I've been employed, but to only mention the writing-related tasks. Which means I'm deleting a lot of stuff, because any potential employers in my new field don't care about that stuff. Stuff that I spent 13 years doing.

On the bright side, I didn't want to be doing a lot of that stuff at the time and at least I did something about it before another 13 years past. 

I realized that very little of my previous work history would count for anything, but still, when I trimmed a 3 page resume down to less than a page, I couldn't help but think, "Wow. I sure have been wasting my life, haven't I?"

Because I was pretty good at that stuff. I got it done. Ridiculously unreasonable deadlines? I was the nerd for the job. I kicked ass, took names, and then deleted it all from my resume because none of it matters anymore.

And I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

If I Had a Million Dollars

One problem I have with shopping for holiday presents is that I see so much stuff I want for myself. Sometimes, I treat myself, as will be happening this weekend at the BUST Craftacular. Most of the people I buy gifts for don't have a taste of indie crafts, so there's no point in pretending.

But the most tempting items are the ones I can't really afford and would never splurge on, mostly the Cool Thing of the Month Clubs. Except that if HA's film career takes off, we could actually have the money to blow on fun stuff like that, so we started dreaming, just a little.

We reserve all right to expand this list in the future, but right off the tops of our heads, we want:
That's all we discussed. But now that I've discovered AmazingClubs.com, I'm making an executive decision and adding to the list:
If money were no object, what Of The Month Club would you sign up for?

And Karl, I checked. There is no Dr. Demento of the month club. But he is available for personal appearances, so I guess you could just have him come to your house and perform every month.

Oh no, I may have just given HA an idea. The Incredibly Obscure Indiepop Band of the Month Club. The Dream House will have to have a performance space. Anton Fier will be there so often, he'll need his own guest room. The Vulgar Boatmen, The Feelies, Big Star, Richard Thompson--they'd all be a'coming to my house. Well, I guess that's OK. If we're rich enough for all that, we'll be able to hire someone to clean up after it all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

What Would You Have Done?

So I was riding the subway this morning when I realized that the dirty old man sitting across from me was jerking off through his sweatpants. Ew.

Then I realized that he was stealing glances at a girl a little bit away sitting with her Dad. She must've been around 14 or 15. 

Ew.

My choices, as I saw it were as follows.

  1. Yell loudly, "Hey Perv, give it a rest."
  2. Get up and stand where I'd be blocking his view of the girl.
  3. Get up and stand where I'd be blocking his view of the girl and quietly tell her Dad that they should move.
  4. Position the book I was reading to block my view of his activities and do nothing and say nothing. 
I went with #4. The girl and her Dad had no idea what was going on and anything else might have tipped them off. This way, as far as they're concerned, it never happened and the girl can go on in life for a little longer not knowing about disgusting dirty old men.

Thoughts?

On the bright side, the girl and her Dad got off at the same stop and I did, and the guy was still at it when we left. Because the only thing more disgusting than a dirty old perv jerking off in the subway is a dirty old perv finishing wanking in the subway.

I wish I could pop the top of my head off so I could rinse out my brain.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

More details have come out and I spent most of the day depressed. I mean, they spent so much time enforcing the dress code (no sneakers, jeans, or pants with back pockets), but they couldn't stop for a second and do a quick perv check?

But I got a smile, compliments of AmpuTeeHee. Please to enjoy:



And heck, while I'm at it, let's have a look at those 3 singing O Danny Boy. I pray I never hear that song at a funeral again, because I will not be able to control the giggles.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So Many Obnoxious Things I Could Say

Remember that whole 20th High School Reunion thing? The one with the forced donation to the school that was $50-75? That I refused to go to because of the obnoxiousness?

Yeah, so I saw the pictures on Facebook. There was dancing on the bar by one of the organizers (hope those pix really help your career, babe) and it looked like the "lite food" was pretzels on the bar and a cake, though the photos may have just been misleading.

So anyway, this just happened.

That's right, boys and girls, someone in my graduating class was sexually abused by a coach, made the donation to the school so he could attend the reunion, where he found out that the coach still worked there, so he decided to come out about the abuse. I'm curious about who the abuser and victim are, because who wouldn't be, but mostly, I'm just trying to keep my mouth shut.

Because, are the reunion organizers going to see to it that the donation to the school they forced this guy to make is returned to him?

But once the cattiness wears off, all I can say, is Fuck. Just Fuck, fuck, fuck.

I went to a Catholic school that was half black, half white, in the mid 80s, but we had no racial problems. The public school down the road had race riots on the last day of school. I have many complaints about that school and the education I received there, but it wasn't all that bad. No worse than anyone else's high school experience, I thought. We we safe from a lot of the problems that other kids faced. And I thought wrong.

This is why Catholic schools are closing because of low enrollment. Because even their goddamn high schools where there are 2 priests and no nuns couldn't or didn't protect their students from sexual predators.

It makes me proud to be an ex-Catholic. Not a lapsed one. I've been done with those people for years for reasons that have nothing to do with naughty priests. But Fuck the whole bunch of them.

You know, we weren't allowed to wear caps at our graduations. Rumor had it that the year before we started, several grads threw their caps at the Assistant Principal. So they banned graduation caps. And I know that Assistant Principal didn't know what that coach was doing to that kid, but I still feel like he let it happen. He probably feels the same way, though that doesn't really help anybody.

We didn't have health class until senior year. Even while we were there, they realized how stupid that was and changed it to sophomore year. I remember talk about birth control and social diseases, but nothing about bad touching. So even their health classes couldn't have helped this kid say something at the time.

20 fucking years. I wonder how many other kids that coach abused.

Friday, November 28, 2008

That Sound You Heard Thanksgiving Morning

was millions of people turning to their kids and grandkids and asking what the hell rickrolling is.

At the Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade (which I did not watch because I don't like parades), the float for Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends rickrolled themselves.



Does anyone know if they listed Rick Astley among the celebrities who would be appearing at the beginning of the broadcast? I'd like to think that they didn't, just to keep it a surprise.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Contrary Bitch

As is the way of the freelancer, I spent too much time today procrastinating, playing Scramble on Facebook under the rationale that if there's a 3 minute time limit, it won't suck huge swaths of time, and otherwise trying not to start writing.

I got some work done and then HA came home and then I went so far as to do pilates rather than get back to writing.

After dinner, he scarpered off to his home office to work on a writing project of his own. I watched House. Then he took a break for a while and when he went back to work, I went back to Scramble. Then when I was thisclose to hitting the couch to read some magazines and calling it work, I decided to get back to the piece I'd been working on before.

This time when HA came out to call it a night, I waved him away and grunted in his general direction. Because I wanted to keep writing.

I have no idea how the man puts up with me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pick Me Up

I could use one today and I'm probably not the only one, so I present to you, "Theme from Greatest American Hero (Believe It or Not)".

I used to dance whenever this came on. OK, I'll admit it--I slid around the dining room floor pretending I was figure skating. I was just a kid, and dignity still isn't one of my strong suits.

If you can listen to this without smiling and/or singing along, then you are made of stone. Of stone I say.



Paste Magazine compiled their list of the 40 best TV show theme songs ever. Hours of enjoyment, people, hours of enjoyment.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Spam From Beyond the Grave

I occasionally check my Spam folders for misdirected real mail. Which requires glancing at the real spam.

My latest batch of spam includes a missive from Thomas Galvin. Which is the name of my grandfather who died in the mid-70s.

Now, as a techie, I know that the From addresses in spam are randomly generated. Hell, my own hotmail address has been used as the Reply To message for spam. (I know this because I get the bounce messages.)

But still, my first thought was, "et tu Grandpa?"

The fine people at Hotmail have suppressed the content of the message, but the subject line is "Final Notification." Now, if you were going to send email from The Great Beyond, wouldn't you totally make that the subject?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tell Me I'm Not Imagining This

I remember these PSAs that ran on TV in the 70s warning  people to put non-slip decals on the bottom of their tub, or use a bathmat. Because you could slip on the soap, hit your head, your body would block the drain, filling the tub with water and you could drown. 

Right? Someone else saw these, right?

I was telling a friend of mine about it, suggesting that one of the characters in her novel in progress might have seen the public service announcement on TVm but neither one of us can find it online. Both the Google and the You Tube have let us down.

Does anyone else remember this? I'd really appreciate it if anyone could describe it in detail. Hell, the first person to send me a link to the actual commercial wins a prize of some sort.

While we're on the subject, what's your favorite 70s TV commercial. Here's a few of my faves I found while looking for the PSA. And one I don't remember, but features a young John Travolta taking a shower and singing about Safeguard soap. In the un-sexiest way possible.







Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Open Letter to More People Who Need to Fuck Off

I can smell the lemon-scented floor cleaning reek from my home office, aka the room farthest from the front door. That is reektastic. 

From the comments last time, Marsha has a beef with:
all those high-end yarn companies that sell balls/skeins of yarn with knots in them. (Yeah, I'm looking at you, Noro and Rowan.) You guys should know better.

to which I say Amen. If my KnitPicks yarn can come without knots, then why can't the expensive stuff?

Punks.

And Betts has a bone to pick with the cable companies:
To cable companies that tease you with channels and then take them away, and lie to you about extra equipment you need for a "low" monthly charge, I'm not falling for it. I'm sticking with my basic cable.

Yeah, that free crack is a bitch. Dexter is just as good on Netflix DVDs as on the premium cable. Tempt me not with your small fees that add up like all the calories in a Pepperidge Farm cookie assortment (no one can eat just 3).

To my knees:
I'm giving you anti-inflammatories. I'm putting ice on you. I'm spending 3 hours, 3 days a week taking you to physical therapy. Get the fuck better already. I'm not asking for 100% and I admit that I may have been excessively hopeful when I thought that physical therapy could fix some of the damage from that car accident when I was 12. (Apparently, my kneecaps haven't been moving properly for 25 years--it's a notch and groove thing. The notch, it was not in the groove.)

But knees, that excruciating pain in my left kneecap as I descended the stairs into the subway on Monday to take you to physical therapy? Not cool. What is your problem, Left Knee? Were you jealous that the physical therapist worked on my right knee for a few visits? Did you think that he might go back to the right knee if you weren't causing me agony? Well, grow the hell up, Left Knee, because my health insurance isn't going to pay for physical therapy forever and I want some improvement in exchange for my time.

Plus? If I don't regain my ability to exercise, then NONE of my clothes will fit except for my 4 skirts with elastic waistbands. Winter is coming, knees. If I can only wear skirts, you will be cold. 

To the fall I took a few months ago re-injuring my knees:
WTF? I didn't trip. I didn't get dizzy. I was wearing Birkenstocks, for criminy's sake. One second I'm walking and the next, my knees are smashing into the pavement.

I'm well aware of my clumsiness. I don't ski, skateboard, rollerblade, or similar. But walking across the street? From a work meeting? That's what it takes for me to be visited by an injury? Uncool. Feh, to you, sir.

To the fine people at New Balance:
So my physical therapist tells me that if I get myself a pair of your sneakers with rollbar technology, my ankles won't roll outward as they are wont to do. The ankle rolling has been irritating the knees (seriously? I hurt my knee walking across a room the other day. AT the physical therapsts, no less.) So this nifty rollbar technology may be the key to my recovery. Fabulous. Great. I've been wearing your sneakers for years, so rock on.

Um, no. Every pair with rollbars, including the pair I ordered are, not to put too fine a point on it, excruciatingly ugly. These are the shoes that 90 year olds wear around the nursing home. The picture online isn't too bad, but believe me, they're worse in person.

They're so bad that I had no problem leaving the store without making a purchase. I had been planning on trying them on in the store and buying them online with the email coupon I had, but day-m, these things were so ugly that the sales guy knew I was suffering an existential crisis brought on by the ugliness of these shoes.

I decided to order the black ones since they looked like ugly black shoes. The white ones screamed Medicare Part B.

You couldn't make them just an eensy bit less hideous, fine people of New Balance? Or a I seeing the less hideous version? Are there even uglier prototypes somewhere back at the lab? I shudder to think of it.

And now a word to people who don't need to fuck off:

To the kids in the knitting class in the Bronx I volunteered at yesterday:
Wow, you guys are awesome and adorable and stuff. I'd been kicking myself for taking time away from the writing to do this, but I had so much fun, I think I'll be going back. You slew me with cuteness.

Anyone else? Whaddya got?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Yummies

I'm rocking a headache, so I'm not especially  useful or productive today. Plus, I'm going to physical therapy for my knees 3 times a week (at a place near my old office in Midtown) so that's a 3 hour chunk taken out of my day already.

But one thing that always helps is looking at the yummies over on Yochana's Cake Delight. The tagline (Aunty Yochana shows you her goodies) is delightfully and unintentionally silly. All I know about this woman is that she lives in Singapore and bakes. A lot. Three things a day, on average. 

I gather she gives most of it away since her 4 person household couldn't possibly eat their way through all this stuff.

But she's not just whipping up something tasty. Most of what she makes is absolutely gorgeous. 

Go forth and look at the pretty.

Oh, and y'all know about Cake Wrecks, right?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Corporate Zombies

I'm not doing the NaNo Blog Every Day Thing since HA and I were filming a music video on November 1 and so I knew that I wasn't going to post that day and would be starting out having failed already.

But I had every intention of start to blog daily, or at least weekdaily, or as close to it as I could manage. And then that didn't happen.

But now I'm on it, and I'm going to try for weekdaily and I fail miserably at that, then thrice-weekly. 

Why all these plans and declarations of same? The same reason why I went several weeks without blogging at all. 

My day job ended. And now I ain't got no job.

It's all good. I'd been saving up so I could freelance full time anyway and this certainly wasn't my first time getting laid off. I'm a dot com refugee, I'll have you know. I think people are weird if they've NEVER been laid off. It was amicable and I was given 2 weeks notice so I could get all my work wrapped up (and go back to working full time for 2 weeks to make a few extra bucks).

The re-entry was more chaotic than expected (as it always is), but although I wasn't able to hit the ground running, I hit the ground, did a shoulder roll, sprang up to my feet and started walking briskly. So that'll have to do.

Anyway, Jonathan Coulton is another techie who left the corporate world to follow his bliss. He writes hilariously awesome songs, many about office life.

This one was featured on the latest episode of the Cast On podcast and has been completely stuck in my head since. 


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why His Awesomeness is Awesome

In honor of our first wedding anniversary, I present these examples of His Awesomeness' awesomeness.

  1. One Sunday in September, he started the laundry and I went to the supermarket, as is our wont. It was raining when I left the supermarket. I had left my umbrella home because it had rained that morning and we thought the rain was done for the day. Since I'd left my cell phone home, I did a quick look around for a pay phone so I could call HA to come collect me with an umbrella. No luck. So I shrugged and headed off into the rain. During the less than 10 minutes it took me to walk home, it started to rain so hard that by the time I got to the front door of  my building, my hair and clothes were soaked through. The elevator doors opened on my floor to reveal HA, with an umbrella, coming to collect me. 
  2. When I have agonizing headaches that get worse if I move, he brings me medicine. And ice packs. And kisses.
  3. On weekend mornings, he washes my coffee pot for me so I can start making myself coffee just a little sooner. Even though he doesn't drink coffee. Ever.
  4. The man makes a mean Soupe au Pistou. And cooks other things too.
  5. He scratches my back when I ask him to and does an excellent job of following my directional directions. (now lefter, now downer)
  6. He sets the DVR to record shows that I say I want to watch so that I don't have to. As long as they're well reviewed. If not, I'm on my own.
  7. He makes sure the DVR records my shows. Sometimes Time Warner Cable doesn't have new episodes set as new, so my season pass doesn't record them. For important things like Project Runway, he checks in advance to make sure it's going to record. For things that I let pile up, like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, he records a rerun if the DVR missed it.
  8. He's totally not going to mind that I saved this post as a draft and forgot to publish it on our actual anniversary.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Evil Genius

Sometimes I feel like an mad scientist, but with arts and crafts instead of re-animated corpses. 


Oh, yes, I did.

And I'm giving away a case to one lucky crafter so they can do the same.

OK, so that's not evil, as much as it is twisted. So I'm a Twisted Genius. I can live with that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How?

I really wanted my first post in weeks to be happier than this. But the LA Times is calling it. With 95% of precincts reporting, Proposition 8 (the gay marriage ban) has passed. 

Let's do a little math here. 52% voted for Prop 8. 63.2% voted for Prop 2, to prevent cruelty to farm animals. 

That means that at least 11.2% of California voters walked into the voting booth and voted against animal cruelty and then voted to void 18,000 marriages, which is an act of cruelty against 36,000 people. 

Remember the cute little old lesbian couple that were the first in line to get married? Twice?One of them passed away this August.  More than half the voters in California say Phyllis Leon isn't a widow. 

More than half the voters in California are wrong. 

Florida and Arizona have also voted to ban gay marriage and Arkansas will no longer allow unmarried couples to adopt children, a measure aimed at gay and lesbian would-be parents. 

In the Presidential election, the country chose the decent guy who unites everyone with hope over the nasty, divisive guy who has accused so many of us of not being real Americans that I want to kick him in the shins. 

Last night, I cried with joy and relief. But today, looking at how many people voted to be mean to gays, I'm crying more because my heart is breaking for the 35,999 Californians who have just had their marriages disrupted (2 days after my first wedding anniversary).

I'm confident that we'll have gay marriage on a national level eventually, but I wonder how much money and effort we'll have to expend before anyone who wants to set up housekeeping can go ahead and do that.

Why do I support gay marriage? Well, for starters, it's because I've never heard an argument against it that wasn't mean and divisive and selfish. By electing Obama, we've decided not to be like that anymore, but not everyone is on the same page. Yet.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion #4

I got to write a profile of Franklin Habit for Time Out Chicago and here it is.

So, yay!

As expected, Franklin is a delight to speak to. Dolores didn't grab the phone away from him once. She must've been on an extended lost weekend with a hunky bartender named Claude.

How awesome would it be to go as Dolores for Halloween? The civilians wouldn't have any idea who you were, but they'd still think you were hilarious. Or dangerous. One of those.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Open Letter to People Who Need to Fuck Off

To the super of my apartment building:

That overwhelming lemon scented cleaner you use to mop the halls? The stuff that's so strong that I have trouble breathing INSIDE MY APARTMENT when you've mopped outside my front door and are already 2 floors below? The stuff that is still making the elevator reek 9 hours later?

The fume-a-liciousness tells me that that stuff's really toxic and killing us all, so dilute that shit or I'm calling in those How Clean is Your House ladies from across the pond and they'll have you squeezing hundreds of real lemons to make your own non-toxic floor cleaner.

To the guy I sat next to on the subway this morning:

When there is a complete stranger sitting squished close to you, trying to read a magazine, or do oh, anything that is not listening to you humming to yourself, singing to yourself and banging the beat of a song out on your own thighs, it's considered poor form to, you know, do that stuff. The morning commute is overcrowded and unpleasant enough. Working my last nerve before I've had my second cup of coffee is hazardous to your health.

To the bruise on the back of my right hand:
Where the hell did you come from? You would think that I'd remember hitting my hand hard enough to bruise. But since I don't, you don't exist, so go away, bruise.

And now a word to people who do not need to fuck off:

To the young woman on the subway this morning who was standing even though there was a seat and even moved aside so that I could sit in it:
Maybe you preferred standing to sitting squished between 2 people. Maybe you were keeping your distance from the guy who was humming and singing to himself. My aching knees thank you and karma will reward you.

To Mallomars:
Welcome back darlings, I have missed you so. (They're unavailable in the warm months because of the meltyness. I buy one box a year to hail their return and then spend months living an unnecessarily Mallomar-less existence. Maybe this'll be the year I cut loose and buy 2 boxes in 9 months.)


Anyone else? If you know anyone or anything that does or does not need to fuck off, let's hear it!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jen's Awesome Adventure

So I moseyed up the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to turn my iPod in for battery replacement. (If you've never been to that location, click the link and see how pretty the store is.) My iPod is 5 or 6 years old now and the battery only lasts about 2 hours before it conks out. So after hemming and hawing and comparing prices and weights, I decided to keep my iPod, but get the battery fixed. (The new ones are way thinner, but not much lighter and I'm not going to spend $200 to make my purse 2 ounces lighter.) But with the Apple replacement program that means they'll give me a refurbished model and whisk my beloved iPod away for refurbishing for someone else (or to use for donor organs). I've been feeling sentimental, since my iPod has been with me for so long, but I need the damn thing to carry me through a work day and a trip to the gym without my having to take a plug with me to the office.

It turns out that I had to make an appointment for the Genius Bar, so I'll be going back tomorrow. But today, as I was leaving the subway, ascending to 5th avenue and Central Park South, I had a celebrity sighting. Project Runway's Laura Bennett and her husband were also coming out of the subway. I'm glad I didn't forget myself and start talking to her because I was dressed a little shlumpy and she's all about the glam. Plus, I'm not sure how I feel about her. She dresses super stylishly because as a mom, it's just a few short steps to sweatpants every day. Well, yes, but some of us would rather be comfortable than wear 4 inch high heels while chasing after our 5 kids. Or 1 kid. Or no kids. I may have even yelled at her through the TV a few times because I really felt that she sort of needed to fuck off.

And then Tim visited her at home and we saw that she really does chase after those kids and their pet turtle while in a fancy dress and 4 inch pumps. I guess that may have made me like her a little bit more, even though I firmly believe that any day that might involve turtle wrangling should be faced in sneakers.

But then she designed a version of her little black dress for QVC that flatters many figures, was available in a broad range of sizes and wasn't too expensive. So does that make me like her more?

But then again wearing that dress in an everyday situation seems to require a commitment to dressing up every other day, otherwise people would keep asking you if you were on your way to a party when you were just picking up the kids. You can't throw on the little black dress for Tuesdays and then wear your lululemon track suits every other day of the week. Not unless you want the neighbors to think that you're an "escort", but only on Tuesdays.

But does the fact that she takes the subway make me like her more?

But does the fact that she wears 4 inch heels on the subway make me like her less? Because my feet hurt enough from standing on the train in comfortable flats.

So thoughts? Should we love the fabulous or hate them for their fabulousness and implied sense of superiority? Am I just mad because I can't wear heels over 1" because I had bad ankles and knees, but have trouble finding low heels and flats these days because of all the 4" heels out there? Am I just bitter because I am not fabulous and as a techie, if I walked into work wearing a little black dress, everyone would ask if I was going to a funeral?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Gift Stash

I'm on the fence about having a gift stash, even though it strikes me as a really good idea.

Pro: Stash busting without worrying about finding the perfect project or recipient yet.

Con: I'd just be moving the yarn from one box to another, albeit in different form.

Pro: Less rushing at gift time.

Con: Would it be less special to give a gift that wasn't specifically planned and made for the recipient? I have some bulky yarn that would make a great baby blanket. It's gender neutral colors and inexpensive acrylic, so I could give it to anyone. But I feel like I should make it with a specific person in mind.

Pro: I currently have more yarn than I'm comfortable having. (Some stuff I inherited, some was given to me by a nice lady who I freecycled some stuff to.) With no specific plans for that yarn, it's weighing on me (like knitting through it all is just another chore) and I feel like I should just dive into the closet, grab some yarn and make something, anything with it.

Con: What if the perfect project for that yarn comes along later? While the gift is still sitting in my gift stash? Do I frog it to use the yarn for the newly found perfect project? That would feel like a waste of knitting time, but buying new yarn would feel like a waste of money.

Pro: More knitted gifts

Pro: Getting to make projects just because I want to instead of waiting for the right gift giving occasion and then not having enough time to make the project and I really just wanna make an amigurumi cheeseburger. And a baby kimono. (Ravelry links)


What are your thoughts on having a gift stash? Do you have one? Do you think I should?

I think the problem is that I'm having Dulaan withdrawal. A couple of years ago, I knit up a bunch of unfortunate yarn purchases and leftovers into hats to be sent to Mongolia. I didn't know who the recipient would be and so I just made whatever. The Dulaan project is still going on, but Ryan decided to call it quits because her Cuzzin Tom (who spent a lot of time doing relief work in Mongolia) said that his assessment was that the Mongolians' clothing needs were now covered and they needed other kinds of help. The people who actually sent the clothes over and distributed them disagreed and from what little Ryan was willing to report, they were really mean to her about it. So I'm not knitting for them anymore.

Other charity knitting projects I've found have specific guidelines that don't work for me (specific items, or specific fibers). Or they're about making people feel better rather than make them warm. A good cause, but for something like that I'd care more about making a good finished object than just using up some yarn. Though with knitting for a gift stash, I'd also be concerned about the FO more than the stash busting.

Any suggestions on charity knitting projects?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Grown Ups

We all have our moments when we stop and say, "hey, I'm a grown up. When the hell did that happen?"

Maybe it's when we get excited about new windows. Maybe it happens when you're fighting with the kids over the car keys.

For me, it happened at jury duty. This had nothing to do with being entrusted with deciding the fate of another human being and everything to do with looking around the table in the jury room and realizing that with the exception of 2 retirees, the entire group was MY AGE. Different people with a variety of jobs and tastes and they were all (by appearances anyway) in their 30s. One guy was even reading Kevin Smith's book. Ten of the 12 people in that room were kids when Star Wars came out, wore oversized shirts in the 80s, did the grunge thing in the 90s and lived through the Y2K nonsense. Just like me.

This wasn't just a jury of the defendant's peers, it was a jury of MY peers. Juries are made up of grown-ups, ergo, I am a grown up.

I don't have to start doing other grown up stuff now, do I? Does this mean I have to buy a house and worry about cleaning out the gutters? Because that kind of thing sounds like it would really cut into my consumption of pop culture time and I don't want to get behind on my Venture Brothers and The Middleman.

Or maybe it's just that this Ozzie and Harriet image we all have of adulthood and all it really takes to be a grown-up is a modicum of maturity and possibly also the financial wherewithal to buy all the action figures and comic books you want.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Holy Mole

Burritoville, we hardly knew ye.

I approach Mexican food in NYC the same way I approached Star Trek V. With low expectations. It cuts down on the disappointment. Texas and California transplants will always complain about the poor excuse for tex mex in this city, but for what it is, it's fine. I suspect there are many places in the US where it's even less authentic. And really, if you want the authentic stuff, don't eat the pale imitations in other cities. As a New Yorker, you won't see me eating bagels or pizza in other parts of the country.

S'anyway, I liked Burritoville. I enjoyed their Holy Mole burrito (chicken in mole sauce), but went a very long time without eating there because of my diet. The tortilla! The smattering of cheese! The dribbles of sour cream! How many WW points is mole sauce anyway? Oh, the horror.

But compared to a lot of other fast food, it was pretty healthy and low in calories. We all know the fast food chains are crazy, but take a look at the pre-made sandwiches in an sandwich shop sometime. You'll see the words "97% fat free" on a sign describing a sandwich and think it's a low-cal choice. But then you read more closely and realize that the chicken on the sandwich is 97% fat free and they're not saying anything about the fat content of the bread, the cheese or the mayo-based sauce involved with the sandwich.

But who even cares about that? I've sworn off dieting and depriving myself and making myself miserable. I've been wanting a Holy Mole burrito for a while now, but they're not that conveniently located, so it didn't happen. Two days ago, I tried to go there on my way to my writing group and it was closed. I thought it was just that location. And now there will never be another Holy Mole burrito again and I will always regret that I didn't have them more while I had the chance.

What's your favorite local food? Or non-local food that'll just have to do because you're not in the right area for that sort of food?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Not Guilty

Tonight while I made dinner, I thought about a young man and his mom and his brother and sister and his 5 year old daughter. Did Mom make his favorite meal to celebrate? Did they eat out? Have they stopped crying tears of relief yet?

As the trial began on Monday, hell, from the first few sentences of the Prosecution's opening statement, I wondered, "are they kidding me?"

I don't know what evidence they may have had that they weren't allowed to show us, but from what we saw, there was never really enough evidence to prosecute. There was a ridiculous amount of reasonable doubt for the first charge, and as for the second charge, well, someone threw that gun into the backyard in an attempt to hide it, but there's absolutely nothing to suggest that the defendant did it and not one of the other people who may have.

During the testimony, I was glad that someone as reasonable as I am was sitting on that jury. I went into deliberations prepared to have someone disagree with me about the tremendous not guiltiness of this guy, but no one did. We discussed it a bit and asked to look at some of the evidence again and finally someone asked for a show of hands and we filled out the verdict form and let them know we'd reached a verdict. Our hearts were pounding as we entered the courtroom, but nowhere near as hard as the hearts of the clean cut young man, his mom and family. His mom had been there for every minute.

Juror # 1 announced the verdict on each count and the young man's head sagged in relief. His mom wept. His brother smiled like he might burst from joy. The judge had the clerk ask each one of us if we agreed with the verdict and even the most soft-spoken of us said "Yes," confidently and loudly.

I wish I could say that at that moment, I was proud to be an American, but it was our federal government that had overstepped their bounds, threatening a man's freedom, spending my tax dollars and forcing this man's family to pay thousands of dollars to a defense attorney. All based on the testimony of one cop who was either very confused or lying his ass off. (If a black cop lies about a black defendant, does that mean we've moved past race in America?)

They thought that they could convince a jury that grabbing a gun away from your opponent in a fight so that they don't shoot you is "gun possession". According to the law as the judge explained it to us, it is because he had control of the gun. Except that the defense claimed justification because of that whole keeping the other guy from shooting him thing. It was obvious to the 12 of us that this was the case. But the federal government went ahead with the case anyway.

While waiting for the judge to call us in to read the verdict, we discussed recent examples of how overzealous the federal government has been lately. Listen to the March 28, 2008 podcast of This American Life to hear examples of the sort of things we were discussing.

So as the defendant's mom thanked us as we left the courthouse, I did feel proud. Proud that I could save someone from my own government.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me

I'm a big fan of Cass at Shut Up, I'm Counting. Hers is one of the blogs where I read the post right away when it shows up on my Bloglines because it's always so enjoyable. In her latest post, she says that The Knitting Curmudgeon has accused her of stealing the name of her blog from the tagline of the Curmudgeon's blog.

Get that? The Curmudgeon says that Cass took the name of her blog from the words under the name of Curmedgeon's blog. She seems to think that she has the right to copyright the phrase "Shut up, I'm counting". According to one of the comments on KC's blog, you can't do that. She was very nasty about the whole thing and it's ludicrous to think that you could stop someone else from using a phrase that's commonly used. I have to wonder if she's going to send me a case and desist order for saying that sentence to my husband on a regular basis.

Honestly!

So I'd like to encourage you to go visit Cass's blog, Shut Up, I'm Counting because it is always funny and a good read. If you agree that the Knitting Curmudgeon needs to grow up and back off, please feel free to visit her and tell her so. Cass's post says that she plans on changing the name of her blog, but all the comments discourage her from doing so because the KC has no right. I've visited the KC once or twice in the past when someone linked to a tutorial of hers, but didn't subscribe, I assume because her reading didn't speak to me. I found her nastiness in her post about Cass's blog so outrageously, unnecessarily unpleasant that I'm surprised she has any readers at all. We're here to read about knitting, not petty vitriol.

Does anyone else think we should all change the tagline to our blogs to "shut up, I'm counting" until KC backs off?

Updated to Add: KC has no deleted comments from people pointing out that she has no right to go after Cass, threatened to ban the person who was posting such things, posted herself claiming that she wasn't bullying Cass (read KC's post yourself and decide for ourself on that one) and put comments on moderation.

What. A. Jerk.

Updated Again to Add: Sorry for the repeated updates, but KC (aka Marilyn Roberts) has taken back her claim and apologized to Cass. She commented on Cass's blog that it was all because of her bipolar disorder acting up and she deleted the comments on her own blog because they were so nasty. As yet, she has not taken down the nasty comments about Cass in her own post. But since she's backed down, there's no longer any need to send her comments telling her to back off.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Jury Duty

I'm scheduled for jury duty and since it was relatively good timing, I didn't attempt to get out of it. They'd already moved me from the federal court way the hell out on Long Island to the one in Brooklyn that I can get to much more easily, so I've felt it would be ungracious to ask for a postponement. Even though I fell 2 weeks ago and smashed up my knee and really should be going to a doctor this week now that the cuts have healed because it feels like there's something wrong in there and I'm still having trouble with stairs.

But I had deadlines last week, so I wasn't going to be able to get to the doctor anyway.

Up until a few days ago, I've been wondering why people are so reluctant to do jury duty. But now that I'm going tomorrow, I'm worried about getting there on time (8 freaking thirty in the morning) and will they be mean to be if I'm late and what if I want to get some coffee or a snack and I really hate not knowing what my schedule is going to be like for the rest of the week. I know I'm not allowed to bring in my cell phone, which means I'll be leaving it with security because I'll want it to check my email at lunch time and as soon as I leave. (leave your cell phone at home indeed!) I have no idea if they'd hassle me for trying to bring in knitting or a laptop, so I won't be bringing either. Armed with 2 books and 2 magazines, I hope to escape with my sanity and sense of civic duty intact.

Feh.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Disorganized? Moi?

I'm cleaning my home office because I'd decided to buckle down and work on all the paperwork involved in changing to my married name. Y'know, because 10 months after the wedding, I've been used to the idea of having a new last name enough to be annoyed that I haven't made it official everywhere I'm supposed to. Like at work. (In my defense when I started in January, it was supposed to be a 3 month contract and I wasn't even sure I'd have the marriage certificate by the time the gig ended. (Maybe it's an NYC thing, but it took months and even then, HA had to go down there and get it himself so I could get on his health insurance.))

S'anyway, so I started on that (using the forms provided in my handy dandy Official Bride Name Change Kit), but then realized that I was going to have to actually find statements from my different retirement accounts if I was going to send them the forms. (That's been the biggest obstacle--avoiding the hassle of figuring out who I have to send this stuff to.)

Mind you, I have a file cabinet and could've just pulled out some old statements, but no. Some info could've changed. I needed to find the recent statements. Which meant addressing the pile o' papers waiting to be filed. Along with the stuff I needed, I found pay stubs from 2005 and health insurance papers from 2004. I had filed since 2004, but the last time I attacked the pile, I didn't get all the way down. I'm now looking at floor, but I wouldn't swear that there wasn't a basket of more papers. Bt let's not think about that right now.

Now that I'm on a roll, I'm tackling the rest of the clutter (mainly books and craft supplies). I opened the closet for some reason and saw the keyboard from my old Mac. I've probably looked at it every single time I've opened that closet since getting my new Mac.

About a year ago, we came home from work to discover a layer of construction dust over a large swath of our apartment. You know, the reason why everything gets covered in plastic tarps when work is bring done. It turns out that our building did some work on the roof and didn't bother telling anyone on the top floor that maybe they should close their windows. When we complained to the super, his response was along the lines of, "yeah, that happened to a bunch of people". My home office window was closed, but HA's was open. The dust was all over his computer, the guest bed and had somehow boomeranged around a corner to get into my home office and into my keyboard. After a good cleaning, everything was back to normal. Except my keyboard. I've spent the past year planning to buy a new one--I need to hit certain keys multiple times, etc. but I kept wondering if a little annoyance was enough to justify the expense.

Then today, when I opened the closet and saw my old keyboard for probably the 50th time since my current keyboard got ruined, my brain finally put 2 and 2 together. I'm typing happily away on my old keyboard now. Apparently, the left arrow key was and is busted, so I'm going to have to wait and see how much of a hassle that's going to be.

I'm so excited to be typing away on springy keys again that I'm too busy to feel stupid that it's taken me so long to remember that I already had another keyboard in the house.

Friday, August 29, 2008

You Know You're a Coupla of Geeks When

you hear a noise coming from somewhere in the apartment in the middle of the night and your first thought is, "which one of the toys is yapping now?"

My second thought was, "hey, this is like that alternate version of Spiderman where Aunt May is killed by the burglars instead of Uncle Ben (or whateverthehell his name is)."

I turned off the fan so I could hear the sound more clearly--I wasn't going to just blunder out of the bedroom unless I was sure it was electronic in nature. The first suspect was HA's talking Dalek lunchbox, but it didn't sound like, "Exterminate!" I stopped to listen before opening the door and it sounded like "Boba Fett" over and over again.

So I thought, "what the hell does he own that says, 'Boba Fett'?" because I'm well aware of my inventory of Star Wars toys and although they include a Boba Fett pez dispenser, they do not include anything that speaks his name, not even the Yoda Furbie that has been without batteries since the thing refused to go into sleep mode and instead chastised me about how disrespectful it is to turn a Jedi Master upside down.

Thus, I bravely stepped forth to confront the electronic beast, whatever and wherever it may be, to discover that the g-d answering machine was saying "No messages" over and over and over again. I had pressed the button to listen to a message around 9 pm and it had stuck. Only the damn thing waited until 4:30 in the morning to start acting like its button was stuck.

Since HA brought this item into the marriage, I blame him entirely. That I didn't wake him up to yell at him about replacing the effing thing at 4:30 in the morning shows that I'm growing as a person, because he really did kinda deserve it. Plus, he only lost about 10 minutes of sleep, where it took me about an hour to go back to sleep. That I am not currently plotting revenge shows that I'm too freaking tired. Though I have demanded the purchase of a new answering machine and may hold his talking Dalek lunchbox hostage if that doesn't happen soon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I.O.U # 2

Remember way the hell back in December when I was writing all about my honeymoon in Paris? Remember how I detailed every day in, well, detail, and then stopped because, well, because I was having psychological issues related to a swan. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Paris Monday
Paris Tuesday
Paris Wednesday
Paris Thursday
Paris Friday

Paris Saturday and Sunday

Apparently we took very few pictures on Saturday in Paris. It was drizzling out and we didn't do too many photogenic things, I guess.

We breakfasted again at La Croissanterie. I had a cappuccino and pain aux raisin and HA had a Choc'Amande, which was a big, honking pain au chocolat covered in almonds. Mmmmm.

Then we went to the Marche aux Puces (flea market) at Porte de Vanves. We bought many cool things, mostly as gifts. I can't believe I didn't take any pictures of this awesome market, but I was more focused on haggling and not freezing to death. I actually talked down the price of a pin and pendant by 15 euros. I was very proud of that. The pin was a christmas gift for my brother's fiancee and the pendant is for me. I just need to make a cord to wear it on. (8 months on, I still haven't--procrastinate much?) We got some pictures for the moms and a doorknocker made of a big old antique key for my brother.

One thing we didn't buy has been nagging at me and is why I delayed posting this for so long. It was a chrome swan with a dozen cocktail picks (fancy hors d'oeuvre picks, you know what I mean) rising out of its back. It was funny and hilarious and just all around awesome. But it was also way too expensive (over $50, I think). So I passed it by. I kept thinking about it as we went through the market and if it had still been there on our way back, I would've brought HA over for a consultation. And then brainwashed him into agreeing to buy it.

But it was very cold out, so many of the sellers were closing up early and I don't think it was sold, but just packed away. I've been kicking myself because it would've been so nice to have something that we could say, "Oh, yes, we bought that on our honeymoon." We did buy a tin of hot cocoa mix and once we used it up, I put the tin to use holding kitchen utensils on the counter, so there is that.

The reason I balked at the price at first, even though people tend not to worry about money on their honeymoon is because I'd gotten laid off right before the wedding. Considering the vacation time they owed me and the pathetic excuse for severance they gave me, it only would've cost them a few days' pay if they had waited to can me after I got back. Worse, the added stress may have been a factor in me getting sick and losing my voice on my wedding day. So that from now on, when I see the wedding video and hear my voice, I think of those jerks. (I'd already known they were jerks and had been considering looking for a new job after the wedding, but my former employers really sank to new low, there.)

So when we got back, I decided that we couldn't continue living without some ridiculous cocktail picks. We've bought several sets on eBay and are picking up more when we find the really interesting ones. I'll show pictures when we get them.

I even found the swan eventually and swiped the pictures from the auction.



You totally want it now too, don't you?

It may even have been the same exact one I saw in Paris, since this one was in France and the dealer could've bought it at the Marche aux Puces. It turns out that it's French Art Deco from the 1920s. The swan is chrome and the red balls are Bakelite. So it's doubly collectible. So it sold for over $130. The price at the Marche aux Puces is probably the lowest price I will ever see this thing going for and now that I don't have it, it's my Moby Dick. I WILL find an excuse to justify the expense next time.

But on the bright side, I now have a vast collection of hilarious cocktail picks. I'll take pictures and share the next time we have people over and take them all out.

After the flea market, we took the Metro to Bon Marche, the oldest department store in Paris. I visited the floor with all the yarn, but the exorbitant prices made it easy to resist buying souvenir yarn. We went in search of a place to have lunch and settled on a Brasserie nearby. We were sat right next to a smoker, which set my allergies in an uproar.

Oh, and we finally have proof that cigarette smoke is worse than smog. I understand when smokers are puzzled that someone would object to cigarette smoke when Manhattan traffic is 5 feet away. But the smog doesn't give me a big sinus headache the way cigarettes do. I don't know the exact component(s) in cigarettes that cause this, but that demo they did in LA proves that it's not in my mind. I try not to be an obnoxious nonsmoker, but people need not to wreck my day by making me sick.

Anyway, this being France, and the restaurant being packed there was no point in asking for a different table. I just sucked it up and we ate as quickly as we could so we could leave. I had a salade poulet, which contained no chicken (poulet) and HA had a Plat Italienne, which was a salad. They are strange and mysterious, the French.

We bought more presents and went to l'Orangerie to see Monet's waterlilles and the rest of the art. After a rest at the hotel, we had dinner at Polidor, which had been recommended to us by the man at the front desk. I hesitate to call him a concierge since a concierge wouldn't have suggested such an unpleasant restaurant. The traditional French food was adequate, but it was so crowded and noisy and smoky that we didn't stay for dessert. (A ban on smoking in restaurants went into effect a month or so after we left.)

HA had pumpkin soup and boeuf borginon and I had lentil soup and veal in cream sauce. And then we discovered that they only took cash and had to go straight to an ATM after we left because they'd cleaned us out. Then, since I hadn't used the bathroom as the restaurant in my haste to get the hell out of there, I ended up using one of the many pay toilets on the streets in Paris. It was my first time in all the weeks and months I've spent there and it was a lot less disgusting than I'd expected.

Anywho, we had dessert at La Luxemburg, where we'd eaten before and had ice cream sundaes. My diligent notes say, "sooo good."

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and packed and went to the airport. We spent the last of our Euro coins on a pencil case shaped like a purple cow filled with Milka chocolate bars. It is currently holding my tape measures because that's how knitters roll.

Fin

Monday, August 25, 2008

I.O.U.

Remember way the hell back in February when HA and I hosted an all Star Star Wars Marathon? I took notes all day and yet fell down on the job and failed to blog the last of the 6 films we saw that day (plus the Star Wars episode of the Muppet Show). Actually a bit fitting, since we also failed to finish watching that last film. Six months later and we still haven't.

In case you want to refresh your memory (although I can't imagine why the hell you'd want to):
The Phantom Menace
Attack of the Clones
Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back

and finally....Return of the Jedi!

10:01 Jedi starts. After 10 hours of his music, I want to strangle John Williams.

10:10 I love how everyone is in on the rescue plan except Threepio.

10:14 Somebody's getting et by the rancor.

10:16 Leia pulls out the thermal detonator. There are a lot of dangerous orb shaped things in this series.

10:19 I only just realized that they never expected Han and Leia to be able to escape on their own after she thaws him out. How else would they have been planning to get chewie and the driods out? The plan succeeds because they planned to fail. Well played young Skywalker.

10:25 You know, you would think that when Threepio warns luke that he’s standing on a… that Luke would step off of the trap door. Jedis are still stupid.

10:41 I feel like I've been watching these films forever. Not in the sense that I've been watching them since I was 6 (which I have), but in the sense that this session has been going on forever.

10:44 Yoda death scene. I even hate yoda now.

10:46 Dead Kenobi is back. I hate this "certain point of view" bs. Kenobi lied to spare Luke’s sanity. He wasn’t ready to hear that info. Just admit you lied Kenobi. He was a punk ass kid--you had a good reason to lie.

10:51 Hi Wedge!

10:57 Why do they insist on bringing Threepio along on stealth missions when he won't shut up? Why?

10:59 Speeder bike chase! Cool crashes coming soon!

11:02 Hi Wicket!!!

11:12 I love how its against Threepio's programming to impersonate a deity. Like someone thought he might do this way back in the designing stages. I can just picture the meeting--"you know, one of the last models tried to impersonate a diety, so we should build in some safeties."

11:23 The last of our guests surrenders. One or two of the three of us has been dozing since we hit Endor.

11:29 We surrender. We’ll watch the rest tomorrow if we dare.

We considered watching it for about a week or so, but just couldn't bring ourselves to try. I'm even a little scared of the new Clone Wars series. I just hope it's not like when you catch your kid smoking, so you make them chain smoke a whole pack so they get sick and never touch another cigarette again. I'd hate to discover that I've developed Star Wars phobia or something equally horrifying.

May the Force Be With You.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Kansas City, Here I Come!

Actually, that was back in June. I'm so behind that I'd skip it, but we got to see the house where Jesse James was shot! We even got to see the bullet hole in the wall! Which as been enlarged by people picking away at it so they can have a piece of the hole. Only they dug him up in the 90s for DNA testing to make sure it was really him and he hadn't faked his death and there was no exit wound. And the stories (and the film) have only one shot being fired. So that hole is not a bullet hole.

So, here it is. An apocryphal hole.
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And in case you missed the film, which we rented when we got back home, here's an artist's rendering of the dirty deed:
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The house being from old timey days, there were some nice examples of embroidery:
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And some nice examples of how ungentlemanly those gentlemen were.

I'll let this speak for itself:
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On a somewhat more wholesome note, this is a loveseat where the woman's side has no back support, so she has to lean on her beau.
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And then we went to Maid Rite, because His Awesomeness loves a good loose meat snadwich.
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Oh, and HA's cousin got married and we got to see some family and friends, but mostly, it was all about the world famous hole.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Further Proof That I Suck

So apparently, I went to see the Hyperbolic Coral Reef at the World Financial Center, took pictures, uploaded them to Flickr, but completely neglected to blog about it.

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And as a bonus, here's a water taxi:
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Monday, August 18, 2008

The Frugal Crafter is Moving!

I haven't done a Frugal Crafter post in a while, but I've been stockpiling ideas and I want to know about other people's frugal crafting adventures.

So I created a separate blog--The Frugal Crafters! You smart types will have noticed that that's plural. I'm hoping to get guest bloggers who have their own projects to share, or who just want to show off their own versions.

So far, I've just copied over the existing Frugal Crafter posts, but more are coming. Come on over and let's make some stuff for little or no money while keeping things out of the landfill. If you have an idea for a guest post, or have already blogged about a frugal craft that I can link to, send me an e-mail at the address in the sidebar.

The Frugal Crafter Mission Statement
A Frugal Crafter is anyone who likes to make stuff and wants to save money by using things they already have. For me, that includes turning to my closet o' yarn and drawers of craft supplies that I've been amassing for years. Bonus points for find creative uses for things that aren't recyclable, but have fulfilled their original purpose. People with less vision call these things "Garbage". I call them "Free Art Supplies".

You can be a Frugal Crafter too. If you make a project you see on this blog, let me know. I'll post about it here or link to your own blog post about it. If you have an idea for a frugal craft, let me know and you can do a guest post, or I'll link to you, if you prefer.

Let's make some stuff!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fire!



My brother made this.

Details on Gizmodo.

Yes, he's cooler than I am. I've learned to accept it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

American Teen

These kids these days. Not a helluva lot different from kids back in the John Hughes dark ages when I was a teenager. They want to fall in love, get into college and figure out who they are and who they want to be. Except now there's Instant Messenger, e-mail, text messages and cameras recording and broadcasting it all. Thanks to You Tube, I doubt documentary subjects are the only adolescents having their petty and not-so-petty dramas recorded for posterity.

American Teen, which follows 5 teenagers for their senior year of high school, has been getting a lot of buzz, not only for it's resemblance to The Breakfast Club, but for the satisfaction it provides us ex-teens. We get to look down on the popular, but unlikeable, mean girl Megan and admire the artsy outsider Hannah, the most vulnerable and strongest teen captured on film in years. We know that Jake, the band geek, doesn't need to change, but only needs to wait a few years to meet a woman who'll love him because of his action figure collection, and not in spite of it. Basketball star Colin evokes more sympathy than any of the sportos at my school ever did. If he can't get a basketball scholarship, then he'll have to join the army. The guy actually is playing for his life.

But, as in life, there are always more layers. As determined as Hannah is not to live her parents' life, Megan is equally dead set on following in her father's footsteps. Megan is horrified to think that she might not get into Notre Dame, but it never even occurs to her or anyone around her that she could get in, but decide to go somewhere else. The rich girl with the world at her feet actually chooses to limit her options. I found it hard to feel for the 17-year-old Megan, but my heart goes out to the older Megan who will someday who will wonder what the hell she was thinking, just as all of us do.

The teen's hopes and dreams are rendered in animation, and this only really works for Jake's video game fantasies, probably because he really does think like that. For the others, it falls flat, but that's just a small misstep in an otherwise honest and insightful film.

3 out of 4 stars/cupcakes/boots/whatevers.

You can read my profile of director Nanette Burstein in The Villager (sister publication to Chelsea Now, which also ran the article, as I mentioned last week.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

An Oldie But a Goodie

Some people are a little creeped out by google ads, especially the ones that show up while you're reading your Gmail (the computer knows what I'm doing--eek!) but I just love them. Mostly because they turn up the oddest, most random things.

Such as this article about the world's oldest jokes.

Apparently, the oldest joke in human history is a Sumerian fart joke.

Also? Great name for a band:

Sumerian Fart Joke, playing one night only! With opening act Bored Pharoahs.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Shameless Self Promotion #3

Or, one of the many excuses why I haven't been posting. Other excuses include:
  • I had to go to St. Louis this weekend for a wedding (trip #2 of 3 to Missouri this year).
  • My imaginary dog ate my blog post.
  • I've been crushed under the weight of the blog guilt from not writing up trip #1 of 3 to Missouri yet, as well as the last day of our Honeymoon, which I'm so totally going to do and some other things that I totally need to write about.
  • Aliens abducted my knitting
  • I was mostly knitting dishcloths for a friend (dishcloth cotton absorbs sweat-->perfect summer knitting)
  • And other stuff, probably, I dunno
But, yeah, so I was writing a profile of the director of American Teen for Chelsea Now, one of the free local neighborhood weeklies.

Go forth and see the film. My review to follow, along with all the other posts I owe y'all.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cancel the Red Alert!

io9 has a post about the killer science thingy.

To summarize: the chances of a mini black hole forming is about the same as monkeys flying out of my butt. If monkeys do fly out of my butt, they'll pop back out of existence before they do any damage. And since the science thingy is only hurling particles at each other, which collide in space all the time, then we would've noticed things in space being devoured by monkeys that had flown out of my butt.

So that's a relief.

Monday, June 30, 2008

We Can Has Blog Posts?

Yes, I know I owe you a post about our trip to Kansas City and the world famous Jesse James House. I also owe you a post of the end of our Star Wars marathon and the last day of our honeymoon. They're all coming eventually, and since it's been so long for some of them, you didn't even remember and what a lovely surprise it'll be when I hop to it.

For now, look at some watermelon carvings and some hand paintings and some really impressive chalk paintings.

Does looking photoshopped make a picture better, or just less plausible? Discuss.

Monday, June 23, 2008

All the Cool Doozers are Doing It



Forward to about 3:40 to hear the Doozers Knitting song. It;s from the episode of the Fraggles where the Doozers stop building and take up knitting instead.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ministry of Silly Walks

If you don't read Antonia's blog, then you had really ought to. I don't remember whose blog first linked to her, but since I've started subscribing to her blog, she's been consistently hilarious.

In lieu of anything of my own to report (aside from a completed ballband dishcloth I made for a work friend in thanks for her putting up with me and my Don Music ways)

Anyway, her latest post has a video (scroll down) of her husband attempting to teach their 18-month old to do a silly walk a la Monty Python.

I find this particularly interesting because:
  1. His Awesomeness will undoubtedly engage in this exercise with our theoretical, eventual offspring.
  2. He already does silly walks while we're walking down the street just to see if I'm paying attention.
  3. College friend and commenter Karl has 2 kids and if he hasn't taught them each at leas 2 silly walks, then I don't know him at all.

Enjoy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Steak Soup

Or, more accurately, Peter Luger Steak Soup. The steak of 2 that we ordered actually made 2 meals for the both of us and there was still plenty of meat on the bone that they packed in with our leftovers. I wanted to just pick off the extra meat, gnawing on the delicious bone if need be, but His Awesomeness vetoed that plan of action. Oh no, he wanted to make soup!

So how do you make steak soup?

Well, I sauteed some onions, added some water and then threw the bone in there.
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After it boiled and simmered for a long while, I added more veggies, some herbs, barley, 2 cans of white beans and at the last minute decided that it needed some frozen spinach.
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And here is the bone, all picked clean.
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Sometimes being a carnivore is fun.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Well, This About Sums it Up



Genius, just genius. I wish I could show it to every republican I know without starting a huge fight. I had a good friend at my last job who would get all Bill O'Reilly crazed and worked up whenever we discussed gun control, so we had to agree never to discuss the subject ever again.

But given the opportunity, I will ask people why they think I don't deserve health insurance. Because if I weren't hitched, going part time to change careers/follow my bliss/whatevs, I'd be able to get health insurance through COBRA for 18 months and then I'd be shit out of luck. As it is we're paying for the insurance ourselves (HA works for a small company) and it costs about the same as COBRA, which is so much that it might be cheaper just to pay for everything out of pocket, but the consequences of getting sick or injured while uninsured are too dire to risk it. And I'm still one of the lucky ones.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Crappy Birthday to Me

A couple of weeks ago my 37th birthday was squished in among working, writing and going out of town the next day. I didn't much care since HA & I had already gone to Peter Luger's to celebrate both our birthdays and I would be getting a nice dinner and some Carvel cake. It was even looking up to be a great birthday because the day before, I grumped into the office to find a card from my co-workers.

But on the day of, the weather was stormy, which meant the barometric pressure was dropping, which meant I spent most of the day with a migraine that refused to be affected by any of the medicine I was throwing at it. (Thanks to some insurance nonsense, I had some migraine meds, but not the magic pills that really do make it all better.) At least I was working from home. But since I was going away the next day, there were some things that absolutely had to get done. I managed to take an afternoon nap and that improved things enough so I could finish my work.

Holy fuck that was a doozy. I was even in pain the next day, though it subsided in time for our flight. Any helpful migraine hints, send 'em my way. I've been taking certain vitamins suggested by a co-worker and they've helped quite a bit.

Anyway, so 37. Today I discovered a site that tells you what other people accomplished at your age.

At age 37:

After four years, Michelangelo finally finished painting the ceiling.

Jersey Joe Walcott became the oldest man ever to win the world's heavyweight boxing title.

Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield, considered to be his greatest work.

Esther ("Eppie") Pauline Friedman Lederer took over the "Ann Landers" advice column. Her twin sister, Pauline Phillips, began writing the "Dear Abby" column under the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. They became known for their common sense advice on subjects such as not pretending to be someone you're not.

Opera singer Beverly Sills finally achieved international prominence in a production of Handel's Julius Caesar.

Earl Vickers became the first person to translate the entire Bible into Pig Latin.

Michael Lusher slept through a gunshot to the head.


Playing this game wasn't as depressing as I thought it would be. I used to read Ann Landers and Dear Abby and sometimes they gave some pretty crappy advice. I have not just spent 4 years painting a ceiling just to have it visited by hordes of tourists in fanny packs. And although I haven't been spending years focusing on my writing (or opera singing career) so that I'll be facing huge success this year, I'm putting more time and effort into my writing than I have since grad school (except this time I also know how to sell the damn stuff). And I'm not the oldest person to make this career change--my teacher has a student in her 60s who even took an internship at a publication and has over 100 clips so far.

So I'm doing OK. And I picked up my magic pills last weekend, so I'm good to go.

Coming soon...posts with pictures!