Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Unblinded by Science

I love the week between Christmas and New Years. It's so peaceful and still. I'm finished making Christmas gifts and nobody really expects anything to get accomplished until the first week of January (unless you have year-end reports to do, in which case, you're insanely busy and hate this time of year).

Working in an office, I'd hear people complain about having to work this week. But I loved it. There was work to be done, but no deadline and no senior management getting in the way of getting things done (because they're all on vacation).

Plus, the workload is light and the lack of bosses means that you can take breaks and recharge instead of trying to look busy. To that end, I give you...

Science of Scams

Go check it out when you have the time to watch all of the videos. At least check out the first 2. The first will teach you a cool party trick and the second shows how you can fake a ghost appearance (while making you less scared of any ghost sightings you see on TV).

They created 7 hoax videos, put them on You Tube and then debunked them.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Star Wars Awesomeness

Are you unfortunate enough to remember The Star Wars Holiday Special? It was shown only once and if George Lucas could, he'd destroy every copy of it so we could pretend it never happened.

It's bad. Very bad. Not even in a good way.

Well, this guy threw a holiday party inspired by Life Day--the Wookie holiday that Chewbacca was going home to celebrate. He even figured out that the true meaning of Life Day was to make the rest of your life seem so much better in comparison.

If you find yourself with too much will to live, go ahead and watch it for yourself. At least check out Bea Arthur's song. That rocked a little.

***
Star Wars weather. Tell it where you are, it checks Yahoo weather and then tell you what Star Wars planet it's like out there. Be sure to enter a typo/nonexistent city and see what happens.

Thanks to Karl for this one.

***

This one has been making the rounds for a while and I was reluctant to watch it because of the length, but it's pretty funny. It also includes a lot of completely unfunny nonjokes in which the narrator reveals himself to be a serial rapist and killer. So you've been warned, but aside from having serious issues that make him think that shit is funny and somehow relevant, this guy is spot on about why The Phantom Menace sucked so hard.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Incredibly Boring Dinner with Andre

Photo swiped from Amazon.com.

So one of the presents that His Awesomeness requested and received for Christmas was the new Criterion Collection DVD of My Dinner with Andre.

I'm as pretentious as the next guy and watch my share of serious art films and important movies. But Jesus Christmas, I fell asleep THREE times while watching this movie a few years ago. And each time I woke up, I rewound to the spot where I'd fallen asleep so I wouldn't miss anything. Because it's a GREAT and IMPORTANT film. And I am pretentious like that.

It's about 2 playwrights having dinner and talking about the meaning of life. Even they don't know how they ever got funding and distribution for this thing.

They both play versions of themselves. Wallace Shawn is an unsuccessful playwright and Andre used to be successful, but fell out of fashion or something and took off to find himself or some such twaddle. After not seeing each other for a few years, they meet for dinner at a fancy NYC restaurant. Wally wears a jacket and tie, as is appropriate for such establishments. (In NYC today, only 2 restaurants require a jacket and tie, but in 1981, a lot more did and this appears to be that kind of place. Wally orders the quail, for example.) Andre wears a fucking grandpa sweater. Scroll up and look at it! God, I hate that sweater! If the struggling artist can put on a jacket, then so can the successful one. Of course, if he had worn a jacket, then visually, you would've had 2 guys in jackets discussing the meaning of life and that might have tipped the boringness scales.

HA tells me that the film is about how these two guys avoid connecting with each other. Wally hides behind questions and Andre hides behind words. Which means that we have almost 2 hours of Andre bloviating on the moving life changing experiences he had. Towards the end, Wally calls him on it and argues that the rest of us have to earn a living and living life to the fullest every day kind of gets in the way of that.

The part that really chaps my ass is this story Andre tells about something that happened to him on New Years Eve in the middle of nowhere in Norway or some other place that is way too cold for people to be going out at midnight at the end of December. (The whole movie is on You Tube, but there is no way in hell I'm going to search through all the videos for this scene, so you'll just have to take my word for it.) He was with a whole group of people having dinner, etc. and then the hosts take everyone out on a hike to the middle of nowhere. There's no one else around. They're completely isolated.

Now, at this point, I started to get concerned. Most women will tell you that any blind date that ends without her stuffed in the guy's trunk is a good date. Women are forced to be constantly aware of the possibility of street harassment and violence against us. I will spare you the full rant on that subject.

So it's clear at this point in the film that not only is it a high fallutin film about IDEAS, but it is also BOY MOVIE. Because every woman watching the film at that point is wondering what the matter is with all these people that they would allow themselves to be led into the middle of nowhere by people they barely know.

People who then make everyone DIG THEIR OWN GRAVES. I seem to remember Wally asking Andre if he was scared at that point and Andre says that he wasn't.

And that is why I HATE Andre. I'd rather starve than have dinner with him. GOD!

Of course, Andre wasn't murdered in the Norwegian countryside and instead went through some rebirthing experience and well, good for fucking him, I guess.

Anyway. At least Andre picked up the check for dinner.

So HA went to visit the family in the midwest after Christmas. (We alternate years with the families, but he goes out there between Christmas and New Years anyway to see the family. If money weren't an issue, I'd go too.) So his nieces (aged 3 and 6) grabbed a DVD from his bag and insisted on watching it. It was My Dinner with Andre. He put it on and they think it's boring too.

So there.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Jollies


From the cover of a Figis catalog (they sell sausage and cheese assortments, that sort of thing), I give you Cheese! Sledding! Doesn't that cheese look like it's having fun.

If you watch Big Love, you'll get a kick from "A Juniper Creek Christmas". Songs include "We Three Wives," "Deck the Compound" and "Silent Wife". You can download them by following that link. If you don't watch Big Love, don't bother. You'd probably find the songs more disturbing than funny. Hell, I find them a little disturbing and I watch the show.

Even if you don't watch Lost, Jorge Garcia, who plays Hurley has a very entertaining blog. This month, he's been posting an advent calendar of things his dog likes to chew. It has truly been the highlight of my daily blog reading.

Later today, I will be baking fruitcakes. Therefore, I said to my friend O, "It's fruitcake day." His response: It's a day dedicated to YOU?!?!?! Sometimes the obvious jokes are the best ones. I laughed harder at that than even when I saw the cheese sledding.

Finally, via Manolo for the Big Girl, a video of Robert Earl Keen singing "Merry Christmas from the Family". I'd only ever heard Jill Sobule's cover version. Either way, good stuff. One of my favorite holiday songs.




Whatever you're celebrating this month, enjoy it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Knives

Scene from my parents' Christmas/Hannukah party this Saturday:

Uncle Matt: Can I help?
Mom: The hams need carving. I'll get you the knife.
Uncle Matt: I brought my own. Actually I brought two. And the meat slicer is out in the car, just in case*.
Me: You know, in some families, someone bringing two knives to a party might be a bad thing.

*In case Mom made roast beef.

The cool thing about Uncle Matt carving the roasts is that when you play-distract him** so you can steal a bite, he thinks it's funny and acknowledges that the meal has not been Christened until someone steals some yummies from a serving plate. (Plus, it's extra good that he doesn't mind because of all the knives.) Try that shit with some stuffing on Thanksgiving while one of my aunts is watching and you're taking your life into your own hands.

** As in, "Look over there, it's Elvis!" or "Oh look, the Pope!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

We Have a Winner!

I wrote down the name of each commenter on a slip of paper once for each comment they've left on the blog during the contest period. Folded them up, pulled one out of a box and unsurprisingly, the person who left the most comments won. They left almost half the comments that were made in that time period, so the odds were with them. You gotta be in it to win it, baby.

So, congratulations Marsha! E-mail me your address and I'll get a box of goodies out to you next week. If I really get organized, I'll photograph and post all the stuff before I send it out.

I feel like I should write something more pithy, but I'm a little spaced out on Oops! fumes. Oops! is this spray stuff that you spray on things to get stuff off of them. Like if you need to remove the price tag from a plastic thing. You spray Oops! on the tag and it and the adhesive holding on come right off. The reason for the Oops! fumes is that I have made Seek and Find bottles for the NINE children in my extended family that I give holiday gifts to. I used a tutorial from Melissa Rambles On, and even used some objects that she sent me after she posted the tutorial. I used an assortment of bottles, including a bug oregano bottle with a big label stuck to it and the same big Aquafina bottles that Melissa used. I tried to avoid buying bottled water, but almost every other plastic bottle out there now has a textured surface with lots of indentations, which would make it impossible to see what was inside the bottle. You wouldn't think so, but grope a few bottles the next time you're in the supermarket and you'll see. I think all the indentations allows them to make the bottles using less plastic or something. I'm all in favor or using less materials, but I was freaking out over the possibility of not being able to find the bottles in time (I'm giving most of these gifts at my parents' Christmas/Hannukah party this Saturday). I came thisclose to buying 5 bottles of oregano and pouring all the oregano into a plastic baggie. But then it would look like a massive amount of pot and I am not going to be dealing with that.

So anyway, between the oregano bottle and the glue left on the water bottles after I pulled off the labels, and the complete lack of ventilation because my kitchen has one wee window over the sink that I can't reach easily, whoa. I've opened some windows to air the place out and will not make that mistake again.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Awesome Stuff That Will Make You Happy

First up, an etsy store where all the crafts are Twin Peaks inspired. This one was posted on Facebook by Craft Magazine. Become a fan to find out about cool stuff like that directly.

Next, via Martinimade, here's an amazing Steampunk home restoration.

Finally, today is the last day of the contest. Leave a comment by midnight tonight and you may win some stuff, including cookies.

Friday, December 4, 2009

It's Toasted!

One of my favorite lines in Soapdish is when Kevin Kline says, "Oh yes, the old days. So long ago, we had cigarette commercials done by doctors."

In late 2008, the NY Public Library had an exhibit of old timey cigarette ads. It was hee-larious. (It's also infuriating when you think of people like my Grandfather who died of cancer directly caused by 40 years of smoking and most of those years, they was encouraged by such ads. But I decided to go with hilarious.)

I meant to blog about it at the time, but organized, I am not.

You can see most of them in this online gallery. Aside from doctors and dentists recommending specific brands, and pictures of Santa lighting up, there are several ads that use the slogan, "It's toasted!" I guess they tasted differently, but it just sounds random to me. You could just as easily say, "It's brown!" or "It's smoky!" The ads say that the toasting removes the "dangerous irritants" that "cause throat irritation and coughing" but ya know, I'm kinda not buying it.

Seeing those ads, I felt like the Ferengi in that episode of Star Trek DS9 where they got sent to Roswell in the 1940s. They were offered cigarettes, tried to smoke them and then scanned them with their tricorders, which revealed how deadly they are. One of them said something like, "if they'll smoke these things, they'll buy anything. We're gonna be rich!"

What ads make you cringe at the memory? Which current ones do you think we'll be rolling our eyes at 40 years from now.

Remember the contest. Leave a comment before December 9 and get a chance to win some stuff, including cookies.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Traditions

There are two things I need to do to make it seem like the Holiday Season. For me, the holiday is Christmukkah, but as an ex-Catholic, the season is more about Charles Dickens for me than Jesus or Santa. All that peace on earth, good will towards men, let's be excellent to each other? That's what I call the secular/Charles Dickens aspect of Christmas. Christians often celebrate both the religious and secular aspects without realizing it, while anyone who does the tree and presents without going to church is doing the Charles Dickens/Santa thing.

To quote the great Willow Rosenberg, not everyone worships Santa. But Charlie D lets you have Christmas without him.

Thing #1 that I have to do to feel like it's Christmas is read A Midnight Carol by Patricia K Davis who seems to have written just this one book and no others. It's a fictionalized telling of how Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Some of the drama in the book is factual (check the wiki) and the rest isn't and who cares where the line is? It's a good story and makes you appreciate all the decoration overkill most of us are subjected to. Would you prefer living in a gray, bleak London with no Christmas decorations because no one really celebrates the holiday? Think about it--winter, but never Christmas.

Anyway, I just love those behind the scenes/the real story novels. This is a quick read and warms my cockles every time.

Thing #2 is listen to Patrick Stewart perform A Christmas Carol. (It looks like the CD version is going for a small fortune, but the audio tapes are cheap.) I saw him perform his one man show of A Christmas Carol on Broadway and it was spectacular. When I was single and decorating a tree by myself, I'd listen to this while I was at it. Now that HA and I do the tree together (or not at all when we're spending the holiday in the Midwest), I listen to Patrick Stewart at other times. I think last year it was during the Christmas knitting. Maybe this year, it'll be while I make gifts that are not knitted. (I'll be doing little to no Christmas gift knitting this year. You heard it here first. But there will be some handmade stuff that will go more quickly.)

What little things do you need to get in the holiday spirit?

Don't forget the contest I'm running until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning what ads came with this post, and you get an entry to win a box of stuff. The contents of the box will be determined by the winner, but I can promise that there will be cookies.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Unscheduled Brush with Fame

IMG_0704


The wristwarmers I knit a coupla years ago are included in a round up of projects made with Plymouth Yarn Baby Alpaca D.K. yarn on the Plymouth Yarn blog.

So, yea!

The pattern is Rose's Wristwarmers, which were copied from the ones Rose wears on the beach in Scandinavia during that very dramatic scene on Doctor Who. You Whovians know the one.

Since I'm allergic to alpaca and therefore to those lovely wristers, I made a second pair for myself in manmade, non itchy fibers and I lurve them. I haven't bothered photographing them, so just picture the ones above in light green.

Remember the contest. Every comment before Dec 9 enters you to win a box of stuff, specific to what you're into.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Bowing to the Inevitable

Conversation I had with my cousin Sarah yesterday at a baby shower.

Sarah: Are you a Twilight person?

Me: No. I mean, I keep up with it because I like to stay on top of pop culture. I read the first book and saw the movie and I'm going to read the second book. I don't know anything about Jacob as a boyfriend, but I'm on Team Jacob because Edward is such a bad, stalkery boyfriend.

Sarah: [nods in agreement]

Me: [Silently relieved because if she were on Team Edward, the conversation could've gotten ugly and lengthy.]

Sarah: If you know about Team Jacob, then you're a Twilight person.

Damn, there goes my And Then Buffy Staked Edward, The End superiority complex. I officially know too much about Twilight to pretend that I'm above the whole thing and ignoring it completely.

But here's my thoughts on unhealthy human/vamp relationships.

Buffy & Angel: All teenage girls want to date the broody guy. We get over it. (I say that the whole moment of perfect happiness thing is kinda outweighed by all. the. fucking. brooding. By the age of 25, she'd be so over that shit.)

Buffy & Spike: Fucking your vampire stalker is exactly the sort of fucked up thing that someone does when they're going through some really fucked up emotional shit, which Buffy was at the time. Even he knew he was Mr. Right Now, which makes it OK.

Bella & Edward: Dating your vampire stalker is the sort of thing that you do when you're young and haven't dated much and he's kinda hot. And then you grow out of it.

Grown adults swooning over Edward (or Spike, for that matter) and holding him up as the ideal boyfriend: Indicative of exactly how fucked up people are, and a little embarrassing to the rest of us who just want to ogle Taylor Lautner's underage torso in peace.

And by the way, the only time Spike watched Buffy sleep was this one time, after they had already done it loads of times and she had given him permission to share the bed with her. Which means Edward is a worse boyfriend than Spike.

As Sarah & I agreed: If a guy is watching you sleep while trying to decide if he wants to date you or eat you--that's a dealbreaker, ladies!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Permanent Mistakes

Via Spankcracker, which has nothing to do with Spanksgiving (though I hope you all had a good one), I have discovered Ugliest Tattoos, the Gallery of Regrets.

Go forth and look and just imagine that people are wearing these on their skin permanently. At least some of them have no regrets at all.

Though the Robocop riding a My Little Pony unicorn? Ten kinds of awesome.

Which one is your favorite? Perhaps I should say, which one disturbed you the most?

The ones that are placed to peek over the top of the undies freak me out far more than is necessary.

**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Not entirely work safe post, though it's just text.

OK, so Thanksgiving is upon us and while some people are making sure they have enough cranberries, the rest of us are making sure that we have enough tranquilizers. (Can't wait to see what ads go with that line. Also? Cats with crooked teeth!)

Psych Central has 10 Tips for Surviving Thanksgiving with the Dysfunctional Family. They are excellent ideas, even though they have nothing to do with quaaludes, which is a really fun word to say. Go ahead and say it. Isn't it fun? Try saying it to yourself when one relative tells you that you're too dressed up 5 minutes after someone else has told you that you're not dressed up enough. It takes the edge off.

My little trick for getting through the day is carrying with me this little piece of information: There is a porno called The First Spanksgiving.

Makes you happy to be alive, doesn't it?

You're curious, so I'll just explain that it has 5 women in 1950s clothes sitting down to a fancy Thanksgiving dinner. Spanking starts happening. At the end, they all toast "Happy Spanksgiving!"

And now it takes a concentrated effort not to wish people a Happy Spanksgiving, which makes the whole holiday like a little game.

And now, you'll have to play too.

Happy Spanksgiving!


**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open Letter to People Who Need to Chill

or, my passwords do not need to be strong enough to pull a tractor with their teeth.

Keep in mind here that I spent 13 years working in technology, ensuring that the software being developed met everyone's needs: the end users, the stakeholders within the company, the legal department, you get the idea. So know that I'm not a newbie who keeps all their passwords on a post-it attached to their monitor. No, I'm a badass techie who keeps their passwords in their PDA.

Because, seriously? Almost every single web site I use has a different crazy set of rules for creating passwords. This one includes at least one letter and at least one number. That one requires one letter, one number and one capital. And so on.

So if my usual password was "skippy", which it isn't, because even I'm not that lax about security, one site would require "skippy1" and another "Skippy1" and a third would tell me that "skippy" is too commonly used so I should pick something else and I feel I've shown great restraint by never using "FkingProgrammers". Because, of course, the only people who can remember all these different passwords without writing them down have the kind of mind that make you able to code software.

Which is why I've had to point out many times at work that requiring Strong passwords that must be changed quarterly make people's accounts so insecure (thanks to post-its with passwords, or web browsers set to remember them) that we might as well not require a password at all.

Other solutions have been invented, but it's cheaper just to force you to add an umlaut in the middle of your password, so that's what we're stuck with. My favorite was realuser.com that used photos of people instead of passwords. They call it passfaces. They teach you in 10 minutes which 5 photos made up your password and they display a page with 9 pictures, only one of which was yours. They do this 5 times and then you'd be in. I haven't been to their site in years and I was just able to log in with my 5 faces. And yet there's no way I could tell you what my passfaces are (it's that freshfaced woman, then that weird looking guy and so on).

But no, I have to call my health insurance company every 3 months to change my password, because logging in correctly with an expired password isn't good enough for them. Heaven forfend that anyone log in as me and search for a doctor in my network! They don't even store claim info. There is nothing secure in there! And yet they have higher security than my bank.

I also had to come up with a strong password for IdeaAid, so I could suggest my Kris Kringle for Heifer International idea. Are we worried that someone will log in as me and suggest a bad idea?

OK, what's the site that makes you come up with the most ridiculously secure password in the history of this here series of tubes?

**Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win. I should probably mention that the cookies will probably be imported from Japan, so that's cool. There will also be novelty salt & pepper shakers. Depending on who wins, I'll throw in some craft supplies or chocolate or whatever. In honor of WKRP in Cincinnati, there will be a tube of lip balm.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Moo

I'll be taking up Marsha's challenge to try to conjure forth a Google ad for cat orthodonture, but not today.

Every year my extended family does a Kris Kringle for everyone over the age of 18. (For international readers who don't know what this is--you pick a name out of a hat and give only that person a gift, instead of everyone.) Kids still get gifts from everybody. Now, my Mom is the oldest of 6 kids and my family, when you count aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, cousin's kids, we have over 50 people. So just imagine all the gifts that were passed around before we started the Kris Kringle thing. Entire forests perished just to make the wrapping paper.

This year, inspired by this article (I had a writing class with the guy pictured on the right), I suggested that we give each other Heifer International gifts. They're an organization that gives animals to desperately poor people in other countries so they can make a living.

I've been giving Heifer gifts to my immediate family this year because they're so hard to shop for. Pretty things just have to be dusted. Food gifts may or may not get eaten (except for fruit baskets, but I can't send one for every occasion). But the gifts I've given from Heifer or Oxfam Unwrapped have gone over well.

For example, I gave mom a bee hive for her birthday and some family in South America got a bee hive so they can support themselves by selling honey. And His Awesomeness got to make jokes about Mom opening a box of bees as they flew out and stung her. And Mom didn't have to dust her present.

And there was much rejoicing.

So I emailed the family, letting everyone know that I didn't want to kill Christmas and wasn't trying to guilt anyone out of a gift. So far, some of us are on board with the idea, so we're a go. The way we're doing it is to let the Aunt In Charge know whether we want a gift or a Heifer. Then we'll pick names like usual and everyone who picks a Heifer recipient just gives Aunt In Charge $25 (our usual limit) and she'll buy a Cow or Water Buffalo as funds allow.

Moo!

So I'm mentioning this in case you have a family or office Kris Kringle coming up and maybe you want to make the same suggestion. Not only is it better for whoever gets the Heifer animals, but it's good for the environment because it means less consumption. Remember, when you buy a cheap, plastic thingie for your co-worker to put on their desk just because you'd all agreed to exchange gifts, that thingie was made in Asia, probably by someone in a sweatshop, and then shipped halfway around the world, using lots of fuel and labor. Just to get a thingie on someone's desk that they may not even like.

If you go this route, let me know how it goes.

Don't forget the contest that runs until December 9. Leave a comment, possibly mentioning the amusingness of the Goodle Ad served up with a post, and you get entered in a giveaway of a box of stuff that will include cookies. The more you comment, the more chances you have to win.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Selling Out For Fun and a Contest

As you can see, I've added Google ads to the blog and RSS feeds. Why would I do such a thing?

Well, my unemployment has run out, so I can't turn my nose up at the $2 a month (or less) I expect to earn from blog ads. But mostly, I just think Google ads are funny. I love using my Gmail and seeing what ads the system thinks are related to the email I've just sent. My most recent favorite was when I emailed a friend asking about how I should respond to an editor who was considering an essay I'd sent her. I said to my friend something like, "God, it's like dating!" because you have to put some thought into every email. Google showed me an ad for a dating site and my brain went "hee!"

So now we're going to play a game. In a day or two, the ad spaces will be filled with real ads. (For the first day or two, it's just public service announcements, that may not be context-sensitive.) If you read a post and see an ad that is amusing, entertaining or incongruous (I hear that the liberal site Talking Points Memo gets fed ads for the far right, which they find hilarious), then leave a comment saying what it is.

Every comment (ad related or not) will get you an entry to win a box of random stuff. There will be cookies. Last day is December 9.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Om, You Jerkwads

This started as a comment on a post on Knit and Tonic about people who suck stressing out other people in yoga class. But I did yoga in the gym for many years and therefore have many gripes, so it was getting long. Plus, if I complain, then you can complain too, so that's nice.

I love yoga, but hate so much about the classes. I used to rush to get there early enough to get a spot far away from the door so no latecomers would crowd around me. (And believe me, it would get pretty cramped around the door.) But then I'd notice people coming in late, looking around for a spot and not seeing the ton of space on the far side of the room (sometimes there's be 3 of us in a space big enough for 5), so I'd try to wave them over (if they'd come in quietly).

Now, this was at a gym, so we'd be in a studio right next to the free weights. We'd be in corpse pose and someone outside the room would drop heavy weights onto the floor, startling all of us and tensing up my neck. And no one ever said anything to the weightlifters. Hate!

And I just stopped going in Januarys, because all the new members who had joined for their new year's resolutions would come into the room and overlap their mat onto other people's mats.

I also stopped going to the class taught by the most popular teacher because he wouldn't enforce the 15 person maximum. The room, it was small. We once had 19 or 20 people in there and it got so hot just from all the people in there not even doing yoga yet, that I felt faint and had to leave. After showing up 30 minutes early to make sure I could get in and get a good spot.

Gah! Just thinking about this has me so stressed that I need to do some yoga to unwind.

OK, your turn. What drives you crazy about your favorite allegedly relaxing activity?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion #5

Day 9 of my 7-10 day cold and I'm looking forward to a reduction in snot production. I've already moved on to the point where I'm freaked out by how much stuff I have to do because I didn't get anything done while I was sick. A sure sign of recovery.

I've joined the blogging team at WorkHerWay.com. You can check out my posts here.

For the knitters amongst us (and those who love them), I'm selling off some luxury alpaca yarn that I bought before discovering that I'm allergic to it. Details on craigslist. I'll split the cost of shipping with anyone not local who's interested.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Stupidest Ghost Story Ever

Told to me at girl scout camp, rendered here in list form because I can't possibly be arsed to add in all the bits that make it spooky, because it's just that bad.

  1. Kid's mom sends him to the store to buy bologna for dinner.
  2. Kid fucks around and by the time he makes it to the store, it's closed.
  3. Kid's solution to this problem is to go out back behind the store and cut off his left buttcheek, to give to his mom, telling her it's bologna. (This seems like the point where I may have said something about how this made no sense and was told to shut up.)
  4. Kid's mom believes this and serves up ass cheek sandwiches. Kid pretends not to be hungry so that he doesn't eat his own butt cheek.
  5. The next night. Repeat steps 1-4, only it's the right butt cheek this time.
  6. Accidental cannibalism turns the rest of the family into zombies and they attack the kid or something. I dunno.
What's the stupidest ghost story you've ever heard? Besides the one I just told, of course.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chocolate Show!

This past weekend was the annual Chocolate Trade Show in NYC. HA and I have been going for several years now to taste the samples and stock up on chocolate for months to come. We have one of the crisper drawers in the fridge designated at the chocolate drawer, to keep the stuff from going bad, since we don't plow through it all at once. (We keep the veggies in these awesome containers which really do keep things fresher longer, which is very important in a one or two person household.)

Also, we were shocked to discover that we had completely forgotten about it this year. Fortunately, a friend of ours works at Metropolitan Pavilion, where it was held and mentioned being there on Facebook. I leapt into action, called HA at work and then ran out of the apartment to meet him at the office. We could've waited until tomorrow, but we didn't want to.

So the way it works, is you buy your ticket, walk around eating samples and making your purchases and getting really wired on all the caffeine and sugar. (Some people only sample and don't buy, which is understandable considering the cover charge, but discourages vendors from returning, or inspires them to sell samples for $1.) There are some dessert wines to try, a chocolate spa to visit and chocolate art pieces to look at. And then you go out for a protein-heavy dinner to take the edge off.

They also have presentations. They're usually by some TV chef, but when we were there, Chocolatina was performing.

Moments later, she was dancing with someone in the audience. The theater area was crowded and we were feeling the pull of chocolate mania, so we moved on. Suffice to say that the chocolate drawer is full, plus we have a few Christmas gifts. And the sugar rush from all the samples had me bounding up and down and doing dishes at 11:30 PM.

My only disappointment was that this year, Mary's of Japan wasn't there. I assume that the economy prevented them from flying over their squadron of chocolatiers and huge display booth. They're probably not getting much international business these days, since I seem to remember more english on their web site. They make ganache thingies about the size and shape of a mini marshmallow, in chocolate and green tea chocolate. They also make these flower bonbons, which seem to be made my someone else now, so maybe there's been a split over at Mary's.

They've been known to run out of the ganache, so they're always the first stop. Since they weren't there, we made a beeline to Roni Sue because last year, by the time we got to them, they'd entirely run out of Pig Candy (chocolate covered bacon). There's been a lot of buzz about it and now we'll get to give it a try.

We had a great time meeting the founder of SweetRiot and stocked up a bit. They're chocolate covered cacao nibs and they're a great pick-me-up. Love! I always pick some up when I'm at Whole Foods. We picked up a bunch of stuff at Jacques Torres, including the chocolate covered cheerios. (The year we got married, we were on our honeymoon during the chocolate show, so we made up for it on Valentine's Day by going to the Jacques Torres store and going to town.)

And I'm still dreaming of the Toffee we got from Toffee Taboo. Noms.

The night before the chocolate show starts, there's a chocolate fashion show. Most of the clothing is made from chocolate. The wicked witch's bodice shows this clearly.




I love that she has her own flying monkeys.



There was also a big chocolate haunted house.








Noms.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Two years ago tomorrow night, I married His Awesomeness, who gets more awesome every day. Except for the days when he sucks, but that's OK.

We're going out for a romantic dinner tonight because tomorrow night, we'll be going to a Doctor Who event. We both want to go, so it's OK.

While we're out eating French food, in honor of our honeymoon destination, you can read up on the disastrous makeup trial, the shocking discovery we made about our wedding song, the wedding itself, and some nice stuff that happened around the actual wedding stuff.

What I didn't mention in the wedding post was that the manager of the restaurant screwed a lot of things up at the reception. (The old manager, who said it would be no problem to have a wedding reception, had to move out of state for family reasons. So this was a relatively new guy.) Things went so badly that the owner offered to treat me and my family to dinner to make up for it and I was too upset to go back to the restaurant to take him up on it. We'd originally thought that we'd go back there for dinner every year on our anniversary.

Yeah, not so much.

At some point this year, I finally got over it all (remember I had lost my voice and was powerless to manage the situation) and now I find the whole thing funny. Well, most of it. Which allowed me to start putting together the scrapbooks of all our pictures. You see, right after we toasted each other, the owner of the restaurant took the manager into the hallway and yelled at him in Italian. See, part of the problem is that the manager closed the bar right when it was time to give the toasts, so someone went to get the owner. So all the pictures of our toasts show either the manager wearing a bitchface, or the owner wearing an I'm gonna kill you face.

Today, I find this hilarious. A year ago, I wasn't quite there yet.

I still think it's stupid that:
  1. they didn't set out the seating cards we had pre-delivered
  2. they set out the centerpieces, but had no table numbers, so left our post-its on them
  3. didn't set out the cupcakes, or set up the cupcake tree (sisters in law to the rescue!)
  4. let 2 hours pass from the time everyone's orders were taken to the time they served the entrees, without suggesting that maybe we start the dancing because it's gonna be a while (the ripple effect was that people with kids had to leave before we did our first dance, or served the cupcakes. They got cupcakes for breakfast the next day, though.) (Also? I only discovered how much time had passed when our first dance started playing while they brought up the food. We had made mix CDs with 2 hours of dinner music, so we should've had more than enough music. I burst into tears from frustration when I heard our song. People thought it was because I thought our big dance moment was ruined, but really I just wanted to kill someone. Fortunately, everyone was so stuffed full of hors d'oeuvres that they weren't starving during the delay. Except for that one guy who went to McDonald's and brought it back. I still shudder over that one. Oh God, I'd managed to block that out. Also, we did a pretty good job or assigning groups to tables, so everyone had a good time chatting, except for that one table where not everyone showed up, which kept the conversation from flowing as well as it should have (sorry Karl!))
  5. the waiters were really rude whenever we asked for an update on where the hell the food was, especially when I tried to do so in note form because of the no voice thing.
  6. they served someone's special order after everyone else at their table was halfway through their meals
  7. they tried to shut down the bar when they should've been getting ready for a toast.
  8. they served champagne all night long instead of just at the toasts, as we had agreed (I don't wish champagne hangovers on anybody)
  9. a lot of this could've been avoided or dealt with, if I'd only taken up my friend Judy's offer to play wedding coordinator for the day.
But mostly, I find it funny. It helps that I managed to crop the McDonald's guy out of all the photos.

Oh well, so much for a sappy post about how much I wuv HA and how I wuv being married to him. But he knows that.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Costumes

Migraine today, so just a quickie. Craftzine blog has a post of the editors' favorite homemade costumes. Good stuff. I wanted a Princess Leia costume as a kid, but I'm not sure I ever told anyone, which would explain why I never had one.

When I was a kid, I would always ask for one of those hideous store bought costumes that were just a mask and a plastic apron. My mom would always refuse. At the time I thought that was evidence that my mom was a big meanie. In reality, it's evidence that kids have no taste. (Insert cheap shots at Hannah Montana and High School Musical here.)

Need a quick costume? Throw a blue towel over your shoulder and make a sign that says "Welcome, Great Pumpkin". Stripy shirt optional.

Need an even quicker costume? Just make a protest sign and go as a protester. If you want to be nonconfrontational about it, go with "Naps for Grownups!" or "Up with Coffee!"

If I had any plans for tomorrow that would allow for costumes, I would probably have come up with a Middleman-themed costume. Maybe a fish zombie. Or Lacey, the confrontational spoken word artist. Or Sensei Ping, the martial arts master who wears a Lucha Libre mask.

Yes, I realize that you have no idea what I'm talking about. If you'd been watching The Middleman, it might not have been cancelled. Get your hands on the DVD (the series finale is available in comic book form and on You Tube as a script reading done at ComicCon).

The premise of the show is that comic book villains are real and what's not to like about that?

What's your favorite costume idea? Be obscure, be impractical, be entertaining because on a migraine day, I could really use the pick-me-up.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Attack of the eBooks

I've had a Kindle since June. It was a birthday gift from my Mom who saw a co-worker with one and thought that such a gadget might be a good idea for me. (When she called to see if I wanted one, I bounced up and down in my chair and said, "yes please!")

I'd been eyeing it for a while. I have a bad neck that can get ouchie if I carry anything too heavy. I once lugged a really big cantaloupe home from the Union Square farmer's market (via subway and 10 minute walk) and had to make 4 visits to the chiropractor the following week. Most. expensive. cantaloupe. ever.

I read on the subway, so being able to carry around a Kindle instead of a big honking hardcover qualifies the Kindle as medical equipment in my book. I needs it.

I know, I know, settle down. The nanosecond I say the word, "Kindle," your brain began preparing to start rhapsodizing about the feel of a book in your hands and how you could never give that up. I usually just hand it to people and there are dumbstrunk by how light it is. Then I take it out of the cover and show them how light it really is (lighter than most magazines).

Some people continue to resist and start talking about the smell of books. These are people who do not have allergies and can read a musty old book without their sinuses revolting. At this point, I usually just mention that you can adjust the font size and that shuts 'em up.

And if it doesn't, an interpretive dance showing the relative merits of books and Kindles for reading in bed does.

We have very romantic ideas about books. Charles Dickens scribbling at his writing desk (often while chatting with friends), that sort of thing.

But if you're reading a book that was written in the past, say, 20 years, do you now how it was probably written? On a computer. That's just how writers work now. A room of one's own isn't even required anymore. We just need a laptop and conveniently located coffee shop. (And let's not forget that many books written in the 20th century before the personal computer revolution were written on a typewriter.)

I write my novel by hand (on a slanted desk, with a fountain pen, in purple ink on lavender paper), because I got into the habit in my late teens/early 20s and it just works for me. I started writing on a typewriter in high school, but found that hand writing was more compatible with how my brain works. (Non-fiction, including this here blog post? Done directly into the computer. Dunno what's different. Just is.)

But I am the only writer I know who writes by hand. Everyone else I know works on a computer. And from what I hear, acquisition editors at publishing houses (the ones who read all the manuscripts submitted by agents to decide what to buy) have eBook readers so that they don't have to lug around piles of paper.

If a book is being written electronically, why can't you read it that way too?

I'm currently reading Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. (Kindle versions of a lot of the classics are available for free or cheap.) I've never read it before. I have no cover image to gaze at while taking a break from reading. I have the distraction of having to hold this expensive electronic device tightly for fear of dropping it, or having it snatched from my hands seconds before the thief slips through the closing subway doors (though I'm not sure how someone else could load their own books onto it since the only way to get books into the Kindle is through Amazon).

And yet? This book brought me to tears at one point. I can't remember the last time I wept over a physical book. The version I have has an introduction by Dickens that explains that the Cheeryble brothers are based on real people who he never met. They are extremely philanthropic, thanking profusely anyone who brings to their attention anyone in need. When we first see them together, they start reminiscing about how they first arrived in London, barefoot and penniless (they're now quite wealthy). They hold hands for a moment at the memory, addressing each other as "Brother Charles" and "Brother Ned" and it fucking killed me. Tear in the eye, right there on the subway.

If Dicken's sentimentality still comes across in an eBook, then I don't think anything is missing.

I'm not saying that you should buy an eBook reader at all, let alone the one I have. But I am saying that you should stop talking like my Kindle is a sign of the bookpocalypse.

You can keep your musty book smell. I keep my shiny new Kindle.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Scavenger Hunt!

Wow, I just got tired out from typing that title. I am wiped out and I didn't do all that much yesterday.

OK, let me back up. I'm a member of DWNY, which stand for Doctor Who New York. My husband is one of the founding members, because he's just that cool. Doctor Who is a British science fiction show. If you've never seen it and want to check it out, all you need to know is that he's a alien time traveler.

DWNY has events at least twice a month. Usually, there's a pub meet, where we meet in a pub and talk about Doctor Who, and a video meet, where we go to someone's apartment and watch a few episodes and eat a lot of junk food. It's a great way to get to know people and both HA and I have friends that we see separate from the group.

A few months ago, we had a pub meet where there were 50 of us (so many that I was a little afraid to see so many of us at once). Someone pointed out that we have so many new people who don't know anyone. People join the group, meet a few people and then hang out with at every meet after that. Even with 50 of us there, there were a few newbies wandering around looking for someone to talk to.

The suggestion, "we should have party games so everyone can get to know each other," quickly morphed into plans for a Doctor Who Scavenger Hunt. I volunteered to run with the idea and had most of the plans scribbled out before I went home.

To my amazement and great relief, 17 people showed up to play, including a family of 5.

I wanted to keep it cheap, so the teams had to take pictures of themselves at different Doctor Who-related locations around Manhattan, or with Doctor Who-related items. And they were allowed to come up with their own places and things. There was an episode that featured the Empire State Building, so they had to take a picture with the ESB in the background. One character is known for wearing a certain style of military coat, so some teams went to Army/Navy stores and one team even found the exact coat. (Partial credit was given for a similar coat and a photo taken in front of a Closed-on-Sundays Army/Navy store.)

One team even found a red Lambourgini just like the one featured in the Season 2 premiere of Torchwood (one of the spin offs). I gave them quite a few points for sheer randomness.

The same team took a picture of a building featured in the Spiderman movies because the costume designer for Spiderman was the costume designer for Doctor Who in the 70s. We disallowed that because, just, no.

The prizes were bags of Doctor Who toys, books, magazines and videos, donated by several members. We had so many that the top 2 teams got prizes, and the other 3 teams got posters.

After sending everyone off, the 3 judges hung out for a bit, went to the apartment where everyone would be winding up for the monthly video meet and hung out some more.

But when the contestants started turning up, HA and I leapt into action. He loaded photos onto a laptop for judging. You can see some of them on the event's Facebook page. More will be added during the week. After about an hour of judging, deciding how many points to award for a picture of The Brooklyn Bridge (as featured in a Doctor Who audio drama), and speedily figuring out everyone's scores, I was worn out, but really enjoyed being the only one who knew the results until the episode we were watching was over. I was also very tired and in need of salty snacks.

So I'm tuckered out, but a good time was had by all. I'll write up instructions on how to organize one of these events yourself (using the pop culture reference of your choice) if there's any interest.

And now I need a nap.

Friday, October 23, 2009

My Ears! My Ears!

I don't think I'd ever be able to name a specific song my favorite, since my favorite changes all the time.

But I do know my least favorite song of all time. And it is Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond. What did this song ever do to make me hate it so?

Well, you see, I'm from Brooklyn. And not the cool, hipster part of Brooklyn. The lame part where party DJs insist on/are forced to play what I call drill team songs almost exclusively. Drill team songs are the ones, like the Macarena, where no one is allowed to just dance to the music, but instead must perform the same exact motions as everyone else. It's lame and I just can't do it. I've done the Electric Slide exactly once in my life and that was because I was having a lame evening and figured what the hell. I've done the Chicken Dance twice--once because a friend (the sister of commenter Karl) pulled me up (at Karl's wedding) and the other to teach my niece how to dance along with her Chicken Dance Elmo doll.

Now, although Sweet Caroline was not written to be a drill team song, someone decreed that when this song is played anywhere near where I grew up, everyone on the dance floor must stand in a circle, holding hands and swaying, pumping their fists to the bum-bum-bah parts and and shouting "So good! So good! So good!" whenever Neil Diamond sings the word, "good."

I twitch when I hear that song. I have to leave the room when I hear that song. It's a terrible, painful thing for me.

You can imagine my horror when I recognized the opening notes on this week's Glee! But I love that show (and it you don't like it (as HA does not), then you're a soulless husk (like HA is)), so I stayed put. And although they performed my most hated song ever, do you know what they didn't do?

That's right. They did not sway, pump their fists or chant "so good!"

And it was good.



What song gives you the horrors?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Do Over!

I've just started reading Do-Over! by Robin Hemley in which he repeats certain experiences from his childhood. Some he messed up himself, like flubbing his one line in a school play and some were the fault of others, such as his entire Kindergarten experience (it was his teacher's last year of teaching before ending up in the looney bin, so you can imagine how she managed to traumatize the kids.)

While he was doing all this things, people would tell him that they wished they could have do-overs on some things from their own lives. So I got to thinking about what I'd re-do.

  1. My semester in Paris. I was homesick the entire time and didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. On my second trip to Paris, a Frenchman who'd gone to school in Rochester, NY told me that the first 4 months of living in a new country are the hardest. I lived in France for 4 months, so apparently, I would've felt better about the entire thing if I'd gone back after Christmas as originally planned. (I was supposed to spend the holidays with a friend in Poland, but then she telegrammed to say she had appendicitis, so I cancelled my trip and went home for the holidays. And then the Gulf War broke out. Since there had been bombings in Paris during Desert Shield, it was assumed that Desert Storm would bring more of the same and I wasn't the only one who decided not to come back.) So living in Paris again is on my To Do Someday list.
  2. Home schooling. The more I read blogs by secular home schoolers, the more I feel that I would've been happier being home schooled. At Montessouri, where everyone works at their own pace, I did Kindergarten and the first half of first grade during K and then they skipped me to second grade, where I finished first grade, did all of second and took French with the third graders. Once I switched to a school where everyone learned as a group, I was bored out of my mind (and only religious fanatics were home schooling back then, or so it seemed). Plus, I'd forget things as soon as the test was over. That's not really learning, it's test prep. So I'd love to spend a week free range learning, just reading about whatever I was interested in at the moment.
  3. Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout for 2 years and my sharpest memory is of the leader at the end of the year sitting us each down separately to ask what we'd done towards earning badges that year. Even though no one had told us that we should be working on that by ourselves and keeping track. My friends coached me for this inquisition (Donna had taught me to put on eyeliner at her house, so that counted for the makeup badge, etc.) Some of our meetings revolved around a badge-earning activity, but not all. How fun would it be to go through the girl scout manual (and then the boy scout manual because I bet there's still some stuff that they teach the boys that they don't teach the girls) and do what it takes to earn every badge there is, or at least every one I want to. Those badges are about life skills and not construction paper, which is what I remember most.
  4. Prom. Our school wouldn't let us go to prom without a date. Their reason? If we went alone, we'd steal each other's dates. (So much for all that character building that allegedly happens in Catholic school.) I gather that the class that graduated before we started pulled stuff like that. We also weren't allowed to wear graduation caps because some of them had thrown their caps at the assistant principal. I wish I'd raised a stink about how ridiculous they were being, so I could've just gone without all the pressure of getting a date. I also wish that I'd been cool enough to not go to prom at all and organize and anti-prom party, but my mom really wanted me to go and she made me an awesome dress, so there is that.
So what would you do-over?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Crush I Should've Had in the 80s

Once upon a time before the internets and cable TV, tweens (who weren't even called that yet) and teens idolized pop stars based on:
  1. who their classmates were crushing on,
  2. whoever Tiger Beat featured that month,
  3. whoever was in The Outsiders (stay gold, Ponyboy!)
and that was really about it. (Note that there was major overlap between categories 1, 2 and 3. The Outsiders were frequently pictured in Tiger Beat and we hung those photos in the classroom.) Discovering a movie that my friends didn't already know about? Wasn't likely. I was one of the more clueless and oblivious people on the face of the earth back then, or maybe it was just in my class, but you can understand what kind of obstacle that could be.

Now, when my husband first showed me The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai (which I never saw because they never promoted it to mainstream audiences and in 1984, I was 13 and living in the boondocks of Brooklyn, so it was just never going to show up on my radar), I was too busy trying to keep track of the plot to pay much attention to all the pretty men in this movie (they're super genius scientists who are also in a band, so ya know, mrow). After watching the movie twice and reading the novelization once, I now know what the hell this movie is about.

Once I had achieved comprehension, I was able to notice Peter Weller. And his eyes. And those cheekbones.

Here, look at a picture while I swoon.


(photo swiped from Google images)

See what I mean? This man belonged on my wall right next to Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Ralph Macchio and Scott Baio. (I'm not proud, just honest.)

This week, while watching Robocop for the first time (I ignored it when it came out because it was so totally a boy movie), I realized that I've developed a retroactive crush on Peter Weller. I'm not sitting around having fantasies about his younger self, or his current, still hot self. I'm not saying that I won't make him my imaginary boyfriend every now and then, but I'm just not the sort of adult female who worships some gorgeous celebrity and hangs pictures of him in their cubicle and will proselytize about the guy to anyone who asks. But I've retroactively filed him in my brain next to my other favorite 80s hotties, because he would've been there already if I'd had a clue back then.

So who's making you say homina, homina these days?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mrs. G. Torches Her Diet Books

As some of you know, I believe in Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size, aka the belief that the size of my ass is none of your Goddamned business and my cholesterol and blood pressure are just fine, so feel free to bite me if you're thinking of suggesting a diet and that includes doctors who'd rather discuss my weight than my non-weight related medical problems.

I am a much happier person now and not just because I can eat without doing algebra first.

Mrs. G. of Derfwad Manor and The Women's Colony has just come over to the light(ly toasted and generously buttered) side herself and has written a post that sums it all up better than I could myself.

And then she starts a fire, because re-selling or donating that shit just means that there's someone else reading it.

What stuff do you own that you'd consider barbecuing? I think I'd have to go with clothes that were too small when I bought them, or became too small at some point. Because then it becomes an issue of becoming thinner and therefore worthy of the pants, even though they make bigger pants. Most or all of that stuff has been sold or donated.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Halloween Fun

Via Out of Character (she of the sock zombies), the latest issue of The Plug is up. There's a Treasure Haunt puzzle that was much fun. I gleefully whipped out paper and pencil to play and finished more quickly than I expected. Its challenging, but not in a Mensa acceptance test oh Fuck it I'd never go to any Mensa events anyway so I'll just give up and stop taking the test kind of way.

Go play and then tell me how many tries it took you to get through challenge #3. It took me 3 tries.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Suffered a Knee Injury While Making Grape Tarts

If you haven't met me and seen the clumsiness in person, this may surprise you. But par for the course, really. I once threw my neck out carrying home a very large cantaloupe. I had a bad neck previous to this, but the cantaloupe required 4 visits to the chiropractor that week. Most expensive melon ever.

So Fall is here and I got a hankering for Cooking Light's Rustic Grape Tart. The recipe calls for 5 cups of grapes, so I bought lots to make sure I had enough. It turned out that I had enough for 2 tarts and so I went for it, because, you know, twice the food for slightly more effort.

So I prepared the crust and put it in the fridge to chill. I prepared the grape filling. I took out the first batch of dough and rolled it out and balanced the rolling pin on top of a mixing bowl while I finished assembling tart numero one. Like this:


No, I couldn't have just rested it on the counter. Do you have any idea how dirty my counters are? I'm a lousy housekeeper. It's the little things like not resting a rolling pin I want to use again on a dirty counter that keep me from being a disgusting housekeeper.

Second tart. I take the second dough out of the fridge, roll it out and balance the rolling pin on the bowl again even though I'm done with it.

And then this happened.


It smacked me in the right knee. It hurt. A lot. I doubled over in pain and made lots of ow noises. And then, miraculously, it stopped hurting and I finished making the tarts. And then laid on the couch icing my knee.

This was last Sunday and I seem to be suffering no worse effects than a bruise that I keep bumping into things, as is my wont. This is actually a major step ahead for me. Ordinarily, I'd be limping to the orthopedist to find out what the hell I did this time.

What's the stupidest injury you've ever received?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Parents Went to Burning Man


What you see here is a picture of my parents at Burning Man.

Allow me to repeat that for you. My parents went to Burning Man.

My parents. They're both over traditional retirement age. She teaches science at a Catholic grammar school and he's a retired phone guy.

And they went to Burning Man.

On purpose.

It's OK. It's funny now. They're home and undamaged.

They knew what they were getting into. My brother and his fiancee have been burners for years. In fact, that's how they met.


That's them. Before you make any snap judgements, I'll just quote my brother, "We're not hippies, we're artists, man."

Glad to have that cleared up.

(In all fairness, that's what they look like after spending several weeks on the playa. Even an insurance actuary would be that shaggy and dusty under the circumstances. And I may have just added the "man" there because my memory added it because it's funnier that way.)

So the reason that my parents went to Burning Man is that the two adorable artists up there got the contract to build the Temple. (Details and amazing photos on their site. Go and look, but don't forget to come back. Those are some memerizingly beautiful pictures.) This is a huge deal and my parents wanted to be supportive and be there for the burn.* (They were there for only a few days and not the whole week. There are limits to their crazy, apparently.) Also? My Dad really wanted to go. My brother got an air conditioned trailer for them because he knew better than to break the parents.

(* Yes, they spent months building this thing just to burn it. It's their thing. Just go with it. Or you can find videos of past burns on You Tube and get an feel for the whole thing. They're not just subverting the concept of ownership and art, it also looks really cool.)

OK, so first thing that happens when my parents arrive at the gates of Burning Man? A lady offers my mom a spanking. My mom. Who teaches Catholic school. A spanking.

I'm told this is the traditional greeting. Welcome to Burning Man. Would you like to get out of your car and roll around in the dust? How about a spanking?

So my mom gives the woman one of her Don't Fuck With Me. I Teach Junior High looks. And the woman directs them to the correct campsite.

OK, so the Temple. It's a very spiritual thing. People write on it, leave meaningful objects in it to be burned, and so on. I'm told that the ashes of several pets and one human being (a burner herself) were placed in the Temple. So the Temple is like Burning Man church. And my parents spent most of their time around the Temple talking to people who were in the middle of most spiritual part of their week, if not their year, discussing what sacred is and how after the Temple has been burned, the ground won't be sacred because everything that was sacred about the space will have been burned and blown away by the wind.

Prolonged exposure to that particular corner of Black Rock City seems to have effected a spiritual conversion. They saw more devotion there than they're ever seen in a church (to paraphrase and greatly abridge what they've both said). So now they've been converted to the Church of Burning Man. Ask them about their trip and they'll get so blissed out that it's a little scary. And now I'm concerned that they're going to start incorporating burns into family gatherings (a large flammable sculpture of Santa for Christmas/Hannukah, etc.).

To quote my brother again, "They'll burn the house down."

I'm not sure they'd mind. It'd look awesome and it would save them from having to go through all the junk in the basement. It would also be very embarrassing, since my dad is a former volunteer fire fighter.

My brother thinks that in that case, they'll move in with me, since I live closer. But I think they'd just pack up and move to Austin to be near him and their Burning Man friends because they've been bitten by the bug.

I don't know what to expect, anymore. Will they start braiding their hair in interesting ways? Make glow sticks part of their daily wardrobe? Will my dad start trying to throw fire even though he knows damn well that an old shoulder injury makes that an incredibly bad idea? Will they start playing hacky sack in the back yard?

I have no problem with any of these things, but how am I supposed to explain it to the neighbors?

Kiddies, don't let your mommas grow up to be hippies.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Came Through Almost Unscathed

Via Manolo for the Big Girl, Rotten Tomatoes has released a list of the worst 100 movies of the past decade.

As I breezed through the list casually, I started to feel smug. I dodged all those bullets. I hadn't seen a single one. I'd seen the original Yours, Mine and Ours, but it was the 2005 remake that was on the list. The original was good (even though Lucille Ball's character was pregnant and Lucy herself was post-menopausal).

And then I got to #29 on the list. Bless the Child. It was my then boyfriend's idea. I was so happy to get an evening out that I didn't object to the selection. To this day, I couldn't tell you if I thought it was a good or a bad movie. Because every single scary scene hit one of my phobias.

Driving across bridges freaks me out. (Because every time we drove across the Verrazano Bridge on the way to New Jersey, my brother would ask my mom, "if you drove off this bridge, how would you die? Would you drown? Have a heart attack before you hit the water? His scientific curiosity was my lifetime of phobia.) The bad guys in this movie try to get rid of Michelle Pfeifer by drugging her, and she wakes up in a car, driving the wrong way on the Verrazano Bridge, with an open bottle of scotch on the seat next to her. In her attempts to not crash, she hits the side of the bridge and the car starts to teeter. An angel saves her and I am blinded with terror.

Somebody also fell off a building, or was pushed, or something. My fear of heights has me freaking out on roofs where the walls are so high that I'd never fall accidentally. But I'm a big scaredy baby and this movie totally made it worser.

And, apparently, it wasn't even a good movie.

How many on the list have you seen?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

They Banned what?

It's Banned Book Week here in the U.S., which means that it's time once again to look at the list of books that have been banned, or objected to and roll our eyes. (Thanks to Samurai Knitter for reminding me.) Seriously, Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut? To Kill a Mockingbird? Gone With the Wind (because of the historically accurate use of the n-word)?

[digression]In grad school, a lot of my lit classes were filled with people who only wanted to discuss how racist the characters of each book was. My friends and I would walk into class wondering how they'd ruin this week's book for us. The whole Huck Finn n-word thing was put to bed by a student from Africa who pointed out that Jim, the escaped slave, was the smartest character in the book.[end digression]

I've read 22 of the books on that list. I didn't enjoy them all, but I read them. (I didn't love Naked Lunch and one of my college profs ruined DH Lawrence for me.) I'm not sure I can even name my favorite on the list. How about you?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Open Letter to People who Need to Shush and/or Sit The Hell Down

Last week, HA scored us free tickets to a taping of SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH... at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. I gather that usually, they have only one guest. Elvis interviews them and then they play. But this was a Very Special Episode with four guests. He said many times that they were building a band right before our eyes. (Interview guest #1, play a song, bring out guest #2, play a song with guests 1 and 2, rinse and repeat.)

It was an amazing show and they brought the house down with a rendition of Take a Load Off by The Band, so when this thing airs later this fall, you should totally watch it. I'll be watching it if for no other reason so that I can enjoy the show without the distraction of all the people who scored seats up front, but then didn't feel the need to remain in them, even though we were filming a TV show and they were told that they had to stay put so that there weren't gaps in the audience.

Truly, this is a situation for going to the bathroom beforehand and not for bringing in 2 beers per person from the bar. The majority of the audience was on board with this, but far too many were not.

We were in the back on the aisle, where we had a great view of the stage. Right next to us were 2 energetic young people in headsets who leapt into action every time someone got up. They'd tell the person that they'd be seated somewhere else when they came back and then they'd move people from the back into their spot. I was very tense for these people, but also for myself since there was a chance that they'd ask us to move up. One guy who we'd spoken to on the line outside helped them out by moving several times and was even thrown out of his new seat by the guy who had just abandoned it. And, oh the headset people were pissed when that happened. Sadly, they were filming, so their wrath couldn't be mighty. Instead, it was quiet and expressed amongst themselves.

So those are the people who need to sit the hell down. The people who need to shush, zip it and then zip it some more were the many music geeks in the audience.

And there was a greater than average amount of music geeks because the first guest was Richard Thompson. What's that? You've never heard of Richard Thompson. That would be because NO ONE has ever heard of Richard Thompson. Except for detail obsessed music geeks.

(Disclaimer: although HA is a music geek and is a Richard Thompson fan, he's not one of THOSE music geeks and wants those other guys to shut up too so he can hear the people on stage. he's not interested in hearing how smart you think you are, either.)

Yeah, so Richard Thompson is a singer/songwriter who's actually quite good, though he seems to have a habit of playing 3 encores whenever we don't have seats. If it's a standing only venue, he's there to play all night. If there are actual chairs, he plays one set and a modest encore. I solved that problem by refusing to see him unless there were seats involved.

But despite his considerable talent, Richard Thompson has remained mostly unknown. If you want to impress/scare away a music know-it-all, then mention him. If that doesn't do the trick, mention Fairport Convention, the band he was in in the 60s. Your knowledge of these things will prove that you have the bigger dick. And believe me, these guys are all about showing off how big their dicks of musical knowledge are. If you really want to hurt their feelings, tell them that you think Richard Thompson is overrated. It'll break their brains. And they will deserve it.

Throughout the entire concert, these guys will subject their friends and anyone who can hear them to a running commentary about who designed that drum or who played the triangle on the original recording of that song or something else that no one but them cares about. They will also shout out to the people on stage while they're talking, as if they're going to become part of the conversation. And they request songs even when it's clear that the impromptu band only rehearsed a few songs.

Even Richard Thompson knows what blowhards some of his fans are. When asked who his musical influences are, he named more and more obscure guitarists. Some people cheered in recognition of each name. He said that he named the last one, "to see how pretentious you all are."

One other time, HA took me to see the dB's reunion concert. Yeah, I never heard of them until HA came along, either. This concert was a big deal and they decided to reunite their high school and college bands as opening acts. The high school band was called The Sneakers. One guy we were standing near told his friends that he'd never seen The Sneakers before, as if they weren't a high school band from the 70s who had most likely performed for a few hundred people in their entire career.

Pretentious twat.

The other guests were Alan Toussaint, who is from the early days of rock n roll and is awesome, Nick Lowe, who is a bass player and songwriter and Levon Helm, the drummer from The Band, who really is amazing. Alan had produced an album of The Band's and said that Levon plays the drums sideways.