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.