Friday, October 30, 2009

The Strangers

I don't observe Halloween. I do observe candy. Typically, I buy a lot of it, then turn off the porch light and eat it. I've lived in this neighborhood 15 years (give or take two blocks) and the only "kids" that ever trick-or-treat on this block have clearly driven here (apparently not even leaving themselves enough time to shave).

Baby Sister checked in tonight from the family farmstead where she's visiting for the weekend -- planning a BlairWitch-ish expedition of some sort into the woods for the kids. Then they're going to watch scary movies.

I told her to rent The Strangers. It isn't precisely scary -- nothing supernatural or paranormal happens -- it's just a couple in the woods who answer the door to someone they shouldn't. That's the entire plot. The couple is played by Liv Tyler and the guy from Felicity (I think there were two; this is one of them).  When  Liv Tyler asks their uninvited guests (again: not giving anything away here) "why are you doing this?" the answer is: "Because you were home."

If I celebrated Halloween, this would be my pick for a Halloween movie. It's a movie that allows me to feel a little smug, because the precipitating point that leads to their predicament is: opening the door to the eponymous Strangers. (In fairness, I suspect they would've come in anyway -- but initially, Liv and Felicity's Boyfriend do answer a knock.) I would never open the door to Strangers. I haven't answered a knock at the door in three years. I'm not sure why anyone would. My friends can and do drop in of course -- they just text from the driveway -- it would never even occur to them to ring the bell, because they know I'd never answer.

My parents do it all the time though-- I can hear them do it on the phone, and it makes me crazy. There's the doorbell, followed by the dogs barking (another practice I've never allowed... once I got a Stalker, I then had to teach my dogs to bark at him because they'd been so meticulously trained not to; they weren't allowed to jump on anyone either, though Martha was perfectly capable of removing an unwanted guest's carotid artery flat-footed) -- and then you'll hear either my Mom or my stepdad yell, "Babe!! See who's at the door!!" And you never know who they're talking to, because, while, they address each other as Babe, it is also the dog's name. Meanwhile, I'm still on the other end of the line, nagging, "that's why they're called PUSH-INs and not BREAK-INS; are you two TRYING to get yourselves killed?" 

So, a Holiday that involves strangers coming to your door and begging for candy is not my cup of tea. But if I were going to recommend a movie for Halloween, it would be this one. (It is also maybe the best use of Merle Haggard's "Mama Tried" I have ever seen in a movie. I don't know why it isn't in the trailer.)

Shit MY Dad Says

"You worry too much. Eat some bacon... What? No, I got no idea if it'll make you feel better, I just made too much bacon."
--from ShitMyDadSays

My Dad called up today to wish me a Happy Birthday -- confident, I think, that it is November 1st, and that he was in fact, two days early (as opposed to one month late).

My friends pointed out, "well, at least he remembered." Yes. He did. He remembered I was born. Forty-some years ago. Give or take a month.

I enjoyed giving him a hard time, but I really did think it was kinda funny.

Once he realized his gaffe, he changed the subject(s) pretty quickly, which included: the sub-par barbecue he and Uncle Woody had for lunch today (the worst of their lives!); the outrage of the "tree-huggers" protesting naming that dormitory Coal, when it wouldn't bother ANYbody if they named it Makers Mark and how the mountain behind his house is "worth a lot more now than it was when Dan'l Boone come thru"; and, finally, on a semi-related note (somehow) "Rupert Murdoch might be the lowest sonofabitch to ever walk the earth but if you expect to have enough signal to watch Law & Order you goddam well better have Direct TV." (I think he was equating Murdoch with the Coal Barons, but I'm not sure.) 


Thursday, October 29, 2009

Top Chef Spicy Twitter Style

I don't usually watch TV live (like an animal), I TiVo it and watch it later without the commercials (like a civilized human being). So I was late to the Twitter firestorm that erupted during last night's Top Chef.

I tuned in around 3 am and observed this exchange where @PerlLawLex (she has protected tweets so she can either let you in or not; it's up to her), observed: "Tom's got it all BUT heard he might be dating Padma which kinda makes him less attractive."

I promptly chimed in (not that anybody was listening at 3 am), "Whaaaat? Tom just had a new baby with his wife in August?? Dating Padma?! She's pregnant! How can she date TOO?!"

As soon as I typed it, I realized how many logical fallacies there were in that statement. For example, Tom's new baby and Padma's new pregnancy could simply be an indication that Tom -- in addition to being a good chef -- might be extraordinarily fertile. He could be impregnating people from across the kitchen, or over the GE Monogram® appliances. Perhaps he simply assisted Padma in her longtime fertility struggle against  The Heartbreak of Endometriosis via a handy GladWare receptacle? (That show is more brand-ed than Martha Stewart and nothing would surprise me.)

The TV Guide challenge was admittedly lame (as superbly chronicled at Videogum) but I was too distracted by the Twitter-generated subtext to even waste my usual time wishing either CancerGirlRobin or SaveechBeechJenn would go home. I barely even had time to notice (for the first time) that my Sweet Young Thang Bryan is only THIRTY-THREE and thus a practically felonious object of my (admittedly chaste) Chef Crush.

As naive as I am (How could Tom be Padma's baby-daddy when he just had a baby with his wife?!) even I got a little suspicious after last night's repartee. 

Padma: "It's like a little prick on the tip of my tongue..."
[Natalie Portman and assorted nobody-vegetarian-friends laugh uproariously and trade spicy rejoinders.]
Tom: "It went from a little prick to 'big in the mouth.'" [Blushes furiously. Anonymous-Vegetarians continue to laugh.]

Geez. Get a room you two.

The prospect of Tom and Padma conceiving made me want to rush right out and buy the product this commercial shilled 20 minutes in. (There is no way I could make this up.) Now THIS is what I call effective Product Placement.

Take THAT GladWare.

Iced Eggs?

When I was picking up carryout dinner at the snooty-falootie store (where a spoonful of brussel sprouts will run you about $438 bucks and the aisles are littered with the bodies of the liberals doubled over in guilt), I saw this outta the corner of my eye: an Iced Eggs tray? The picture on the box was what we call deviled eggs on one side of my family, and dressed eggs on the other side. No one in the family has ever called them Iced Eggs, as far as I know. While I was stuck online behind the Republicans who were chatting animatedly and unabashedly refusing to get out of anyone's way, I took a picture of the box. Everyone looked at me a little like I was a hobo who'd wandered in off the street and put my fist in the olive bar up to my elbow, but I wanted a closer look at these "iced eggs."

I found them online, and what it refers to is this incredibly cunning serving dish -- where you put ice in the bottom tray, and the indented deviled-egg impression-tray on the top -- thereby enjoying a fantastic funeral treat, while simultaneously avoiding the risk of salmonella. You can buy one for me  HERE.

I can eat deviled eggs at a volume and pace that would make Paul Newman proud in Cool Hand Luke. It's one of those foods I grew up on, but just never make as an adult (although I occasionally serve a pretty snooty-falootie version for cocktail parties that involves caviar and sprigs of fresh dill). Consequently, anytime I visit my parents' church-gatherings, you'll find me with my chair pulled up to the buffet where I can get at the eggs in sufficient quantity that would befit maybe a dying man at his last meal. The image wouldn't be unlike, say, John Belushi's face-stuffing in Animal House.

Unfortunately, it's been my experience that the Episcopalians in my hometown possess a certain miserly culinary nature, accompanied by zero ability to anticipate a crowd. This is in marked contrast to the extended Baptist family I was raised in -- characterized by vast homecoming dinners where the chicken n' dumplings was served in giant pressurized vats (were served? was served? Is the antecedent the chicken, or the dumplings?) fried chicken was made on-site in giant electric skillets, and never came out of a bucket. Episcopalian-ism is more of a late-life affectation for my Mom that came after she moved to town, about 25 years ago. Me? I been rollin' with The Catholics since first grade (that's largely how they're referred to in polite company where I'm from) -- and their focus is admittedly far more on Drink than Food -- which always leaves me as something of an outcast.

Anyway. The "Iced Eggs" platter was enough to make me go looking for the novel I wrote back in 1992, Dressed Eggs and Death.  I found it in a trunk in the guest room.

The first paragraph reads:
"She got to the house around seven. It was still light out and everything looked pretty much deserted. The lot was empty but for Uncle Buddy's orange Plymouth Duster. He had put it up on blocks when she was a teenager and left it there to rust. Pink and purple morning glories were twining through the old wheel hubs."
I think I'm going to keep it handy and force it on everyone who asks me to read their Novel-in-progress. It's an excellent reinforcement of Flannery O'Connor's response when people would ask her if the universities were "stifling too many young writers" and she always answered that they weren't stifling enough of them. It is very hard to build a novel around a plate of deviled eggs. Even a short one.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Denise Handicapped "

Larry David after his BlackBerry gets thrown in the ocean on Curb Your Enthusiasm

I'm catching up on last week's Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry's supposed to be watching Jeff and Susie's daughter play in the ocean and when she gets caught in an apparent riptide, he pauses to stow his BlackBerry safely in a beach towel before attempting a rescue (by then, the parents have heard her distress cries and fished her out themselves).

He protests, "I was going into the water, and then I realized I had the BlackBerry..." trailing off into a scream of protest as Susie grabs it from him and pitches it into the ocean.

I don't think he behaved unreasonably, or at least not implausibly. I was out to dinner with a friend of mine recently when the server jiggled the table and sent scalding hot soup in every direction. Whereas I am normally the clumsiest klutz ever, I suddenly reacted with the speed and reflexes of a superhero (BlackBerryGirl) deftly snatching her Storm and my Bold off the table before so much as a drop of soup could even land and splash either of our precious phones. Prospective third degree burns for either me or my dining companion? Eh. An admitted afterthought. A blister is one thing, but everybody knows BlackBerry won't warranty a device out if there's water damage.

As Larry commisserates later with JB Smoove, who gives him a message that Denise called, he explains he can't just call information and get her number. He doesn't know her last name. He just has her stored in the BlackBerry under "Denise Handicapped" (hey, don't look at me, I didn't name her). She's in there with "Shawn Yoga" and "Teresa Masseuse." JB Smoove's, on the other hand, is populated with "Nancy Big Tits" and "Sweet Ass."

I realize how precarious my own contacts list is every time I go to the BlackBerry store and have to have Lucas or Russell back it up. I always apologize for the List, and they always reassure me, "oh that's nothing compared to what we see."

But how else would I know not to pick up the phone unless I could see names like "Idiot Jere," and "Ignore The Box Lady" and "Crazy Mad Doggie Day Care" or "BatShit Crazy Mavis" or "Asshole Realtor." You don't wanna know the names the Telemarketers are stored under.

Hell, I don't even remember who "Goofy Guy 7" is -- much less the identities of one thru six who must have preceded him. But I'm not about to pick up and find out.

(Who is the Box Lady? Honestly, I have no idea.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Hard to Keep Up the Lie"

"It's hard to keep up the lie. 'Cause you can't get nobody being you. You got to lie to get somebody. You can't get nobody looking like you look, acting like you act...sounding like you sound. When you meet somebody for the first time, you're not meeting them. You're meeting their representative. That's right. Look at you, all of you. You! You're a liar! You're all liars. You got on heels, you ain't that tall. You got on makeup, your face don't look like that. You got a weave, your hair ain't that long. You got a Wonderbra on, your titties ain't that big."
--Chris Rock

Pictured is the edge of a first date I eavesdropped on this afternoon.

After lunch with one of my girlfriends today, we stopped for coffee and inadvertently ended up ringside to a young couple's first (and I suspect, last) date. Whenever she went outside to smoke, I stayed inside and eavesdropped. It was clearly a first date because it went more like a job interview where they both presented their resumes, credentials, and qualifications. Plus they each talked about their favorite movie quotes. Nobody does that on a second date. They both talked about their five year plans. His involved school. Hers involved selling cosmetics. He asked about her plans for the evening, which was phrased as, 'so what are you gettin' into later?' Her response indicated that her plans wouldn't be including him, but was phrased somewhat ambiguously: 'I'll probably, you know, hang out. Lay low.' Pressed a little further as to whether those plans might be modified to include him and perhaps a more adult beverage than coffee, the answer was a clearer No, phrased as, 'I can't be hung over tomorrow.'

I remember thinking it was a little unusual to see kids that young on what was so clearly "a date" -- I thought everyone that age just "hung out" or "hooked up" or was "in a relationship" (a relationship that resulted from probably either hanging out or hooking up). I think of dating -- or more specifically, going on first dates -- as more of a 30-something, 40-something proposition.

I have one coming up and it isn't something I'm looking forward to because I really only enjoy dating in the spring and summer. I hate Fall, and I loathe Winter. I don't like my clothes. I don't like my hair. I don't like the food. I miss cooking straight out of my garden. And I live in fear of an ice storm from about November thru March. It all makes me unpleasant.

Which is is a problem, because I always try to be as close to Me as I possibly can on dates (just dressed nicer), the exact same way I always did in job interviews -- and my rationale is the same -- if I represented that I could or would do something in that initial contact, someone in a subsequent contact might fairly expect me to follow through on it as part of my duties and responsibilities.

I ask a lotta questions on dates the same way I always used to at job interviews, because I really want to know the answers. As much as they might be evaluating me, in the back of my mind, I'm always thinking: do I really wanna work here?

Consequently, I've never been one of those girls who feigns interest in a band or a sport I wouldn't like to impress a boy, anymore than I would try to convince a prospective employer that I was good at math. My first job was working for engineers. If I'd tried to convince them I could do things I couldn't, somewhere, a bridge might've collapsed. What if I pretended to be outdoorsy and a boy then wanted me to haul my ass out to the woods (yeah, where no one could hear me scream is the way I see THAT)?

So, the Me that shows up on a date in October is not the same Me that would show up on a date in April. I probably shouldn't even go on this date. I should probably hibernate til Spring and start over.

But, if it doesn't go that well, I guess I can always just put my dress back on and go home.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Vino Veritas

Last night was "nibbles" at my neighbor Kate's house where we all got to meet her childhood pal Wendy, and taste her her wines from Australia. "Hers," as in: Wendy made them. (I think her husband helped, but still....) She's a winemaker, and they have about 100 acres (or 30 something hectares, or 130-something hectares... I got kinda lost in translation).

I was especially impressed that Wendy managed to get our tasting supply into the country, because I recently saw Bottle Shock and had the impression you could only transport two bottles at a time. (Alan Rickman shoutout to Rachel -- I consider Alan Rickman to be Rachel's property, sorta the way Sam Shepard is mine.) I had the Pinot Noir and found it precocious, but not pretentious... sporty, yet insouciant... sardonic, but not smug -- much like me. All I know is it held up very well to the plateful of wasabi tenderloin biscuits I ate.

I am trying very hard to take up drinking. I don't wanna end up face-down in a gutter or anything, but I do consider wine to be culinarily significant and if you're gonna take food seriously, you oughtta know your way around a bottle or two.

A fellow guest at the party was trying to give up smoking, and I felt bad for her, because it's my understanding that wine makes you want to smoke (so I expect I'll be taking that up around 2010). She said it was getting easier with the help of ..."Vitamin X," to which I expressed inadvertently loud incredulity. "Really? Ecstacy helps you give up sssssmoooooking?" That stopped the conversation for a few minutes til she clarified that "Vitamin X" is just Xanax, and that I'd probably learn about that when I was her age. (She didn't know I woulda ground benzodiazapenes into my childhood Cheerios if I'd been allowed, but I really did think "X" and "E" was what "the kids today" called Ecstasy.) I also felt sad cause she can't watch Mad Men while she's trying to quit smoking. Then another lady said she can't watch Entourage cause she's trying to quit smoking pot. I assumed most people had given it up cause it got so douche-y.

There were about a dozen of us girls last night. Kate and Wendy are English, but if I'm remembering correctly went to Catholic school together in Bahrain. Wendy had a scholarship to Cambridge in the Classics, but got married and had 4 kids in Holland with her husband before moving to Australia. Another lady was Swedish; another married to a Brit... and so on.

The only thing I could think of to conversationally fall back on in such a transcontinental crowd was, "What do your roosters say?"

[I got that from David Sedaris, in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim: "'What do your roosters say' is a good icebreaker, as every country has its own unique interpretation. In Germany, the rooster greets the dawn with a hearty 'kik-a-riki.' Greek roosters crow 'kiri-a-kee,' and in France they scream 'coco-rico,' which sounds like one of those horrible premixed cocktails with a pirate on the label. When told that an American rooster says 'cock-a-doodle-do' my hosts look at me with disbelief and pity."]

Now, I'm not a total dumbass -- I didn't ask this completely out of context. We were talking about one of the ladies at the party who raises chickens in her backyard downtown -- which I thought was illegal (awesome, but illegal)-- and it turns out it isn't. You can raise chickens downtown, but not roosters. (Everyone else was far more up to date on the city livestock ordinances than I was, which was kind of embarrassing.) The problem is, when you order up baby chicks, you can specify hens, but inevitably, a rooster or two sneaks in. When they're babies, they look pretty gender-indeterminate (now this, I did know, having been raised on a farm and been disappointed by many a crop that grew up to lay no eggs, which was just one of many of my failed brilliant get-rich-quick childhood schemes).

So, I thought "what do your roosters say?" was a perfectly natural conversational segue... but it was initially greeted with uncomfortable silence, as if I'd asked somebody how much money they make. I didn't know it was so personal, or maybe just stupid. And I was just starting to awkwardly explain about David Sedaris, when the Swedish lady gamely stepped right in and said, "Kookly-Oooo." I think there was maybe an umlaut or something in there somewhere, but you get the idea.

She also reported their dogs say "voof, voof." How great is that?

What I'm Reading Right Now: Jonathan Tropper "This is Where I Leave You"

This is my favorite first line of a chapter I've read in a long time:

"My marriage ended the way these things do, with paramedics and cheesecake."

The New York Times has excerpted a  chapter. They went with Chapter 1. (I woulda gone with Chapter 3, about marriage and cheesecake.)

If you know me, it's probably safe to go ahead and buy this -- highly likely it will end up in Ace Book Club within the next year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nobody Luhs Me, But My Baaaacon (I mean, Baby)

Can I make the linky thing light up without Intern standing over my shoulder?

We'll see

from, "Six Reasons Bacon is Better Than True Love."

What? Only six. Bacon, how do I love thee... Let me count the ways...

Please Synch Devices

It's still October (and therefore birthday festival month), so I'm still within the appropriate time frame to be finally trying out one of my shiny pink birthday presents: my very first iPod of any kind (I think it's called a Shuffle, and is sometimes disparaged because it only holds 500 songs -- but that is 500 more than I had to start with, and I am now its fiercest defender). Welcome to 2001!

I showed it to one of my musically-inclined ex-es the weekend I got it, and the first thing out of his mouth was "hey, it matches all your other pink appliances." (He always said they were for me, but frankly, I think he was just tryin' to cut back on his workload; c'mon, the guy was LAAAAzy).Then he leaned over and put his own state-of-the-art iPod earphhones into my ears and asked what I thought of the sound. I had to admit, bigger was better. He said, "well, I still owe you a birthday present, so why don't I get you a set of these?" What I shoulda said, of course, was, "don't be ridiculous; you don't OWE me a birthday present." What I said instead was, "why thank you; I'm registered at Best Buy."

I confessed immediately that I had no intention of putting good music on it -- nothing but guilty pleasures (what else would inspire you to run, etc.) There is no Robert Earl Keen. There is no Steve Earle. No Ryan Adams. There's not even any Dwight Yoakam, though he can be mighty dance-y. (As one of my cop buddies leaned over and whispered at a Dwight concert years ago, "I ain't gay or nothin'... but I'd fuck him." Which is what I call high praise. I thought my date that night looked a little unduly panic-stricken at the comment and was briefly afraid he might be either homophobic or gay, or both. I asked him about it later and he reassured me, "Nah. I was just afraid when he said he WOULD fuck Dwight, you were gonna say you HAD." Looking back, I guess that was his indirect way of asking if I'd ever had sex with Dwight Yoakam. Which is just silly. If you want a direct answer, you should ask a direct question.)

So the first song I had the Intern load was "Brandy," the 1970s classic by Looking Glass. (Go Navy.)

What? Did you think I was going to do it myself? Please. What am I? An animal.

But then when I tried to play it later after Intern left, all I got was some digital voice saying "please synch device."

Intern came in today and fixed it, after I sternly reminded him of his confidentiality obligations about not disclosing its contents. He got it working and as I fumbled for some kind of on-switch, this is the song that exploded inside my head. I don't know what my expression was, but from the look on his face, it musta been just like the monkeys in 2001 when the jawbone goes up and comes back down an iPod (or a blackberry, or a pink laptop -- cause I have these experiences a lot). I may not be an early adopter, but I am an enthusiastic convert.

I only know this song because this band had a cameo on House a few seasons ago. I didn't even know if they were a real band, but I googled it. Not cause they were so talented, but because the lead singer reminded me of a bass player from my 20s. My bass player was a lot taller and a lot cuter, and he wouldn't be caught dead writing or playing pop music.

I suspect youtube knows what it's doing running an ad to the right of the video hawking the dangers of unintended pregnancy.

Speaking only for myself, everytime I hear this song I'm replaying that entire summer in my head, from the first moment that bass player showed up on my deck and said, "Wanna try somethin' different?" Guilty pleasure doesn't even begin to cover it.

Oh, hell, don't look so shocked. It's not like I bought the ringtone.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Favorite Facebook Job Description ever

"Amanda" is one of my favorite Facebook Friends. She's one of the few now that I haven't met in real-life (that was on my to-do list this year; there are 1,111 of them -- no one gets in or out now, because it was pointed out to me that's a lucky number). She works in a pet store (which should probably remain nameless). She lists her job description as:
"I tell little kids not to tap on the fucking glass."

Margarita in a Bag?!

First wine-in-a-box (or Tetra Pak, actually), and now, Margarita-in-a-Bag at the Disco Kroger.

But the coolest thing about Margarita-in-a-Bag? The use of the Mary Tyler Moore font!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Last Harvest of the Season

Tonight is a hard-frost forecast so I spent today harvesting the last of the tomatoes (green, pink, red, and everything in between), along with the basil -- some went in baggies; there are some sprigs in a glass; and the rest will go into pesto.

Sigh. I also made the first chili of the season, which is another sign of reluctant recognition that Fall is here.

Culinarily, there's almost nothing I hate worse than losing access to the microscopic kitchen garden/salsa garden that grows inside a three feet square, up and down the deck stairs. (The potted plants on the deck gave up weeks ago.)

I'm hoping when I look at these pictures on a cold winter day that spring planting and the summer kitchen won't seem so far away.

That tiny little green baby heirloom almost makes me cry.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Love You, Comma, Man

I finally saw The Hangover today with my pal Brooke. It only took us about four months to coordinate our respective schedules. We initially planned to go see "I Love You, Comma, Man" -- but waited so long it hit Dollar Theatre...then DVD... and it'll probably be on HBO next.

I don't have all that many friends who want to see bromances with me. Mostly they find 'em tasteless and juvenile (because they are).

It's not that I'm a 12-year-old boy --- there were a few things in the Hangover that were too gross for me (namely, unattractive nekkid man-asses, and throwing up -- I can't watch either of those two things). But I do like movies where boys talk like they really talk, and act like they really act. A tiger in the bathroom? C'mon. That's funny. Like Porky's, for grown-ups. I'm just so happy to see the R-Rated Comedy come back. From Wedding Crashers on thru the Judd Apatow trilogies, it pleases me. And I'm glad to see the comedy title wrested from the Farrelly Brothers (who were just gross -- no scatology please).

One of the major flaws in the otherwise enjoyable I Love You, Comma, Man was the fact that it was hamstrung by a PG-13 rating when it should've been the hard raunchy R it wanted to be.

The premise was what I was really interested in --a guy who needs to make guy friends. I identified cause my goal this year was to make new girlfriends. I've always argued that it is MUCH harder to make new girlfriends than boyfriends, and it's even more true in my 40s. Boys are easy to come by and there's a million acceptable prescribed courses for meeting one and draggin' him back to the cave. By and large, they come along quietly. As in the movie though, finding those same-sex BFF kinda friendships is much harder. It's not like anyone really offers to "fix you up" with a new shopping/movie/dinner buddy. After 40, everyone's married and has kids and new bonds are harder to form. And sometimes the friends you do have move away; they never leave you a temp; and these are hard positions to fill.

Today: I'm just glad the R-Rated Comedy is back and that I have a new buddy who likes them as much as I do. Brooke is a center-sitter and I'm an aisle-sitter, but luckily, there wasn't much of a crowd, so I was ok in the middle. (Though even in a theater with maybe 12 people in it, it stood to reason that six of them would come and sit right in front of us, while another plopped down at the end of our aisle, blocking my Exit. Cattle.)

I did have the same criticism of The Hangover that I did in I Love You, Comma, Man -- both needed to know when to splurge on the soundtrack. A properly timed dose of rap so filthy that the mainstream has embraced it is almost always hilarious. Judd Apatow knows this.

Which brings me to my next mission ... to bring back the R-rated sex romps that got us all laid in college -- 9 1/2 Weeks, No Way Out, or The Big Easy. Hell, even Fatal Attraction and The Last Seduction started off with good sex... before it took an admittedly unfortunate turn. Where are those movies today?

How many of us were inspired to do the Kim Basinger striptease to "You Can Leave Your Hat On?"... How many of us tried the blindfolded eating in front of the fridge (hint: skip the honey; you will NEVER get it off).

What are we supposed to use to lure boys over to the DVD caves now with 42 inches of HD goodness? The best I could come up with recently was Little Children (Kate Winslet has some graphic, hot extramarital sex with Patrick Wilson).... and that choice is problematic seeing as of the main plots is about a SEX OFFENDER who returns to their smalltown.

The R Rated comedies are a good start. You've made us laugh Hollywood. Now, please, for the love of God, get everybody laid. It's the least you can do for seven bucks ($20 if you want popcorn).

Ditch the PG13s and some of the animated fare and give a few screens back to the grownups. We have more money than the kids. Throw us a bone. Pardon the expression.

Thanks Kim Basinger!

Friday, October 16, 2009

That Cal!

"If people could stay out there seven days in the cold and the rain to have an opportunity to enjoy this night, then we're gonna do things that I've never done."--Coach Cal, pre Big Blue Madness

Dang, nowwww I almost wish I was going.

That sounds sarcastic of course -- as it should -- but here's the thing. It is almost, a little bit, true.

Now, it would be an understatement to say I am not a sportswriter. (Let me pause for a minute there while you catch your breath and stop holding your sides.)

I am trying to find nice ways to quantify the depth and breadth of that statement that don't involve me being publicly tarred and feathered.

For one thing, I sort of lump organized sports in with organized religion in that I think the Process can be a little ... polluting.

For another, I am more of an arts and letters/geek gal than a sports gal.

For a third thing, probably because of where I was raised, I am more of a football girl than basketball. I grew up in a "Friday Night Lights"-ish kind of town, to put it mildly. Where the boys had no necks, and now they all sell insurance. I have said before, I live in the wrong city -- and state -- for football to be a valid preference over basketball, but it's true. When I think of Soccer, I can only think of Harry Crews's characterization of soccer vis a vis the debate team in Feast of Snakes (and you'll just have to look that up).

And while I have gone to my share of basketball games -- usually in the name of being a good sport for a date -- I find it generally ... smelly. I don't really know if it's the sweat from the oversized athletes in a fairly confined space, or if it's the reek of the crowd, but I can never believe I'm the ONLY one who seems to notice it.

I only disclose all of this just to reinforce the oddity behind my dirty little confession, which is that... I am positively entranced by Coach Cal. Of course that might not sound very odd or especially confessional in a town that worships him -- possibly in a very unhealthy way-- but it is unusual for Me, because I have rarely had much of an opinion about basketball.

Sure, I vaguely thought Tubby should go. He seemed like a fine family man who ran a nice clean program, but the job description -- as I understood it -- was to go to the Final Four, and win it on a fairly regular basis. It's my understanding that he only really did that with an inherited team, while failing to build his own program. That's all I know.

As for his successor, well, same thing. It's my understanding that he did not win? Now, all that other stuff? Hell, they knew he was a hard dog to keep on the porch when they hired him.

When it came time to replace him, the only thing I said on that front was that I hoped this time they'd go with someone MARRIED, cause it seemed clear they wanted a First Lady as part of the gig. Which promptly got me labeled as... homophobic (?) My response to that was.... huh? All I said was "married." Personally, I wouldn't care who the Coach was married to, and if the First Lady was named Steve, that'd be fine by me.

Then Coach Cal came to town... and I fell for him, right along with everybody else.

Probably because I get the same false sense of intimacy everybody ELSE does from his Twitter and Facebook pages. Look! He's walking his dog, RIGHT DOWN THE STREET FROM WHERE I LIVE! Here he is, NOT unpacking boxes in the new house! Awww. Just like every other husband. I imagine a sort of MadMen Don Draper crossed with Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy. I would call this series "That Cal!" (Oh that Cal! He is so darn exasperating! And then I'd smile indulgently.)

Of course, in real life, I know perfectly well he doesn't actually talk like a 14-year-old girl, and he doesn't speak in exclamation points, and that he is not, in fact, my "friend," no matter what Facebook might suggest to the contrary.

Don't care.

I find myself engaging in extended conversations with people who call the office from outta town and then happen to ask my opinion of basketball because we'll be in the news for some reason and because I live here, they assume I must know everything about it. Then I start to think I know everything about it, and I'll find myself blurting out something defensive like, "Well you know Mike, he was never IMPLICATED in any of that, and I think you'll have to agree that the NCAA concluded....!"

(WHAT? "The NCAA concluded...?" Seriously? Just add that to the list of three words you never thought you'd hear from me.)

The Box is Back

I saw a link this morning that our beloved box wine from Front Porch Friday has been selected Wine of the WEEK by "Wine Experience." I was heretofore unfamiliar with their work, but now I might bookmark it.

Again, the link probably won't work, so here's what it says:

"Not only is this a tasty and drinkable Pinot Grigio but it’s made to go anywhere."

Tasty AND drinkable?

Say No Mo!

I also learned from them that it is not really a "box of wine," so much as it is "a Tetra Pak," which sounds more rugged and outdoorsy and less alcoholic-y.

But what I love more than anything is their disclaimers -- the likes of which would've never occurred to me as a critic/editor.

For example:

"When you read our thoughts, please remember that you may think differently."

I am not even sure about the "may" in that context. Does it mean "you may" as in "you are allowed" or does it mean "you may" as in "it could happen" that you would think differently than we do?

Wine consumption can have positive physical benefits or cause possible physical harm.

See, I thought all that was obvious, and am clearly in no way prepared for blogging in a post-McDonald's "this coffee is HOT" disclaimer era.

Monday, October 12, 2009

About an Hour

I see here (dimly) that I got my bifocals prescription back in August. You may notice (from all the typos), I haven't gotten around to getting that prescription filled yet... For a lotta reasons.

First: I'm still in denial. I just look above, or below, the rims of my current glasses, and I can still kinda see.

Second: I cannot stand the thought of picking out new frames, which I will likely have to have, because the lenses on my current glasses aren't big enough to support bifocals. I hate big glasses.

In college, I wore contacts more often than not until I came down with an eroded cornea and had to wear a patch over my right eye until it healed. I was geeky to start with, and the pirate look didn't improve things any. It was also the worst possible term to not be able to read. I was already struggling to keep up in my Hitler and Nazi Germany class, and after my friends burned out on leading me around, somebody in Student Life had to assign a workstudy student to read "The Psychopathic God" to me. Out loud. After that whole ordeal, I got new glasses, and as soon as I wore them into Cowan the first time, PhilStowers stood up and screamed "Sally Jesse Raphael! Sally Jesse Raphael!" I'm still scarred. I just saw his name on LinkedIn the other day when I hooked up with my friend Bob-O, and the first thing that popped into my head was Phil screaming in the dining hall. I swear to God, my glasses looked NOTHING like hers. Maybe he was making fun of my hair instead.

Third, I finally remembered to go to the eye doctor partly because LensCrafters sent me a reminder (they're not my eye doctor, but I do get the prescriptions filled there because obviously that "glasses in about an hour" is a real priority for me. A month later.) They also sent a $100 buck coupon. I couldn't really read it -- cause I need bifocals and all -- but I put it on the fridge as a reminder, where my Mom noticed it expired the day after I saw the doc. I'm not a coupon gal, but I'm also not a gal who'd throw away $100 bucks.

Fourth, everyone I know who has bifocals has had a hard time adjusting. And by "hard time adjusting," I mean, they fall down; they get crippling headaches; that kinda thing. No good can come of that.

So here I sit. Constantly misinterpreting everything I see in print. For example, I thought my friend Pam was going to "Meditation" tomorrow and it sounded like a serene day off. She's not, she's in MEDIATION tomorrow, for a client. I thought the Mayor of Chicago was suddenly very pro-Dairy when he declared some sort of "Butter Zone" today. But he didn't; it's a BUFFER zone.

And none of that's as bad as the mistakes I was making writing an article last week that related to lfucgUK -- though I think dropping the G might've been a typo and not a vision problem -- but it coulda just as easily been a Freudian slip.

Just glad I work in print and not radio.

Oh Disco Kroger

Oh DiscoKroger. You make it hard to love you sometimes.
That ice cream isn't even marked down. I don't even care much about ice cream, and if I was going to eat it, I'd probably get Graeter's coconut almond chunk (sometimes it's discontinued and sometimes it's "seasonal," which is stupid because coconut isn't seasonal, and DiscoKroger only ever seems to have raw cookie dough flavor anyway, which sounds disgusting to me, and vaguely salmonella-ish).

And butter-FLAVORED corn? Please.

It's almost enough to make me WALK to Krolex/Krandalls.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Corn on a Cup

This weekend was probably my last festival of the season, which made me sad.

I knew there'd be no funnelcakes, but I was at least hopeful for meat-on-a-stick. It was sold out.

A sign did promise "Corn on a Cup," and it had potential as a concept, but the execution needed tweaking. It was corn marinated in hot sauce, stirred in with cheese and chili pepper.... where they lost me was in topping the whole thing with a heaping spoonful of mayonnaise (which is like kryptonite to me, along with beets; there's not much I don't eat, buttttt.....)

Sub in sour cream for the mayo, and hit it with a lotta lime, and I think it might just be crazy enough to work.

All of the Above

Thanks to my friend Wyllie, I now know that you can click a little "x" box and tell Facebook why you don't want to see a particular ad anymore.

After which, you will just get more of them.

I've taken turns completing their multiple choice survey on every "meet hot christian single black men" ad with:
and repetitive
(wait. did I say that?)

The only thing that changed was for one day, I got a lot of ads for "Latisse," which I think is supposed to grow my lashes out. I didn't know women had a lot of eyelash-insecurity, but apparently, 40-something women are especially vulnerable.

I guess I should just be glad it's not Boniva.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Right Stuff

I ran across this link on pal Kimmy's facebook page today and it cracked me up. I'm sure the link won't post right, but you can get the gist from the headline alone:

What The Daily Mail article suggests is that there's something in the Pill that has made women turn from manly men to girlie men.

Taking the pill for past 40 years 'has put women off masculine men'By David Derbyshire

It ushered in the 1960s sexual revolution and gave women control over their own fertility.

But the Pill may also have changed women's taste in men, according to a study.

Scientists say the hormones in the oral contraceptive suppress a woman's interest in masculine men and make boyish men more attractive. Although the change occurs for just a few days each month, it may have been highly influential since use of the Pill began more than 40 years ago.

Read more:

All I can say is, my obsession with Sam Shepard is as stalwart as it ever was, and there's no one more manly, and less pretty than him. (I coulda posted his mugshot to really reinforce that fact, but I don't like it when that's done to me, so I typically don't do it to anyone else.)

Admittedly, it's probably the whole sordid Sam Shepard package that does it for me -- writer, drummer, almost irresponsibly tall (does he have a drinking problem toooo? Bring it.) -- but I can't think of a single pretty boy I consider remotely attractive.

(Brad Pitt only makes it worse when he tries to talk about architecture. He seems to make it thinks him deep, or smart. Please. I'll stick with Dwell Magazine thanks.)

The alarming thing was, when I looked for an image of my particular brand choice (which doesn't seem to have the girlie-man effect, and that's all I was going to say), I kept finding pictures of BABIES. Which definitely doesn't suggest a vote of confidence in the product.

(I finally just snapped an image of the lovely gift-pak the stooopid P.A. gave me on Thursday. I'm not going to be using it as a Clutch or anything.)

Thursday, October 8, 2009


When I arrived at the doctor's office this morning, the lights were off and the door was locked.
This was an Annual Exam. I wasn't sick. I wasn't being fit in as a favor. They knew I was coming, and they'd known it for a YEAR.
I scheduled the FIRST appointment of the day (a year ago) specifically because this doctor has kept me waiting for hours in the past (the same doc who once told me a procedure would cause "some discomfort" in my 20s, and I then had to explain to her we obviously had different definitions, because I thought "some discomfort" would constitute oh, maybe, beard burns on my inner thighs...)
I don't want to tell her how to run her business (let's sayyyy), but: if the office opens at 9, and the first patient is scheduled at 9, here's what let's do: everyone shows up at 8:30; drinks their coffee; catches up on last night's "World's Biggest Loser thinks He Can Dance" -- and by 9, the lights are on, the doors are unlocked, and the patients are all naked on a slab.
At ten after 9, I was sitting in the hallway, with my back up against the door, so they couldn't miss me when they opened it, and I fell inside.
Then they handed me a stack of paperwork that included lists of questions they definitely knew the answer to, like how many pregnancies I had under my belt (still Zero -- they see me once a year; they'd know).
The last time I was in a doctor's waiting room, I read this freakonomics blog on the BlackBerry that assured me that ME waiting, instead of the DOC waiting is the most efficient use of time, but I'm not buying it.

By the time I filled out my forms; got called back; and got undressed I was already an hour behind on the rest of the day...and in NO MOOD for the P.A. who showed up.
Now, I am perfectly happy to see P.A.s and Nurse Practitioners when I'm sick. They've always taken good care of me (I hasten to add -- since they might be quick with the ole air bubble in the syringe). BUT, I don't think it's too much to ask to see my DOCTOR, once a YEAR. She knows me; she knows my history; and she should have some anatomical sense after all these years of what's changing and what isn't. (The one thing she clearly doesn't know is how to keep good help, because there's a different nurse and P.A. every time -- but I wasn't there for personnel or management tips.)
Every time I make the annual appointment, they ASK if they can schedule me with the P.A. and every time I answer, "why? did my check bounce? -- because if it didn't, put me down for the Doc."
And that's part of the irritation -- I pay enough in healthcare premiums every month to insure a small third world country -- and I'm very, very sure she is more than adequately compensated for her time, whether or not it's her, or the P.A. who sees me.
I was madder than usual today because they made me late to get my hair cut, and the Salon, unlike the doctor's office, runs like a well-oiled machine. No time is wasted, but no one is double-booked, and the only wait-time is whatever you spend under the dryer -- where they dip your hands in paraffin and put them in little gloves and then bring you superbly trashy magazines and whatever you want to drink.
I am pretty sure Troy would probably throw in a breast exam if I asked him.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ambien Strips?!

Talking to pal Kimmy last night, we had a nice chat about the miracle of those Listerine pocket strips that dissolve on your tongue, and she mentioned that products like Theraflu etc now also come in convenient strip form.

My idea?

Ambien strips.

I, of course, have no scientific aptitude whatsoever -- but I sure do know what the market will bear.

Can somebody get on this please?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I Licked It. And I Liked it. Really.


I'm reading Professor Kakie's Facebook tonight and I see she's posted a link to this New York Times article:

FTC to rule Blogs Must Disclose Gifts or Pay for Reviews

Since I suck as a blogger, that link probably won't work, so here's the gist of what the New York Times said:

"For bloggers who review products, this means that the days of an unimpeded flow of giveaways may be over. More broadly, the move suggests that the government is intent on bringing to bear on the Internet the same sorts of regulations that have governed other forms of media, like television or print."

To which I say: WHAT? Bloggers get an unimpeded flow of giveaways?!

And parenthetically: where do I sign up?

Now, I work in the newspaper biz, so I am very aware of the practice of "pay to play," and I have never, ever engaged in it. There are plenty media folks in this town who will happily pucker up whenever an advertiser says "we'll pay you X if you say Y." Lots of people ASK for that kinda consideration, but no one's ever successfully gotten it. Not from me. Not from anybody I've worked with, or for. Even the delightful studio advertisers are painfully aware that if a movie sucks (for example), I'll be the first to say so. Out loud. In print. Online. On Facebook. On Twitter. Anywhere I get the chance really. Even if I got a free pass, or hosted the Sneak Preview. I often get free tickets to fancy parties, and I'm sure the hosts know I'll probably write about it... but they definitely never know what I'm gonna write (and it's not unusual for me not to get invited back).

If I like something, on the other hand -- for example, Bacon, Ambien, and Sam Shepard -- I'll say that too. Ambien certainly SHOULD put me on their payroll, but no, I pay for it just like all the other mortals do.

As a blogger, however -- clearly a naive and inexperienced one -- no one's ever even suggested any "promotional consideration." Hmmmph. I'm feeling kinda offended actually. Because I would totally be the Kathy Griffin of Lexington's D-List given half a chance. (I still remember her getting that sofa paid for on Season One of the D-List.)

Now that I'm learning how all this stuff works though, let me make it clear: I bought the Box of Bandit Wine that I served on Friday. The obvious delight and glee on Jupiter's face is clearly unforced. The subsequent endorsement from our favorite stereotype-busting corporate lawyer who I enlisted/forced to bartend was equally genuine and unsolicited: "Maybe I was just thirsty, but..." (I am pretty sure he said it was OK to quote him on that... And if it isn't, I am pretty sure he will sue me or enjoin me or something). The Wine Boxers are now following me on Twitter, which is funny, because I order maybe two drinks a year (and I rarely finish those).

As for my college buddy who saw me at the Food Show the next day -- she DID give me that fabulous pillar of salt in which we can now serve margaritas. I think she gave it to me because 1. She knew perfectly well I would be a poster girl for the "Lick it. Love it. Live it" campaign. And, 2. She went to college with me for heaven's sake, and as a classmate, she definitely has first-hand experience of my ability to get the word out (for both good, and for evil).

Because of course, here's the double-edged sword of giving me stuff, or telling me stuff, or even knowing me -- if something sucks, I'll say it sucks. And to anyone who then seems surprised, my response is always the same.

It's a variation on the famous tortoise/scorpion story where the scorpion asks the tortoise for a ride across the river and the tortoise says, Forget it, you'll sting me to death. The scorpion says he won't, because that'd be stupid, since they'd both drown. Halfway across, the scorpion stings the tortoise and as they're sinking, the tortoise asks why. And the scorpion says, "it's my nature."

The version I learned from my grandmother (subsequently embroaced by one of my favorite boyfriends from my 20s, for reasons that soon became obvious) was about a Woman who's walking through a blizzard and comes upon a snake who asks if he can take shelter inside her shirt, for warmth. She says of course not, because he'll bite her. He says No, no. They both need the warmth, and if she dies, he'll die too. So she puts him inside her blouse, where he promptly does bite her, and as they're both slowly succumbing to the cold, she asks why. His answer is, "You knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

So that's what I say to anyone chagrined by what I write: You knew I was a snake when you picked me up.

I shoulda known that boyfriend was a little too fond of that expression, and it is absolutely true that he already had a perfectly good girlfriend when I met him.

To mix the metaphors, he turned out to be a hard dog to keep on the porch...but I DID know he was a Snake when I picked him up.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Here. Lick This.

I went to a food show yesterday and ran into an old college buddy who handed me something and said, "here. Lick this."

So, I did.

And then I said, "hey, what about swine flu and all that?" And she said something fairly complicated about salt's anti-microbial properties or something.

Here's what I remembered: she lived on the same floor I did freshman year, and she was smarter than me (smarter than I? smarter than I was?)

I also just tend to revert to college behavior when I run into college classmates, so if one of them hands me something and says "here, lick this," then I just do.

It turns out, it's this pillar of salt you can pour drinks into -- like margaritas. It was delicious. (She also had these slabs of salt you use as, like, a cutting board?)

Man! That is almost as great an idea as the box of wine I bought Friday night. And then served to people. And they drank it too.

I didn't have any, but I was just so in awe of the marketing genius I HAD to buy it.

Instead of branding itself as the drink of choice for Alcoholics who have no time or money to fumble with corks, it re-positions itself as the eco-friendly portable drink of choice for the bohemian bourgeoisie (wouldn't it be great at Shakespeare in the Park we marveled?)... Just add a straw and it's the perfect juice-box for grown-ups.

On the back of the box, it says: Why Bandit, and lists ten reasons. Among them:

Thirty three percent more wine, and then it does the math, 1 liter vs. 750 ml. Now, like everyone else, I refused to learn the metric conversions when I was told to in the 70s -- and it's one of those few vestiges of American Imperialism that still seems to serve us well (but consequently, I don't actually know what 1 liter vs. 750 ml means. But I do know thirty three percent more is probably better.)

Lower shipping weight = less fuel emissions (Barbara Kingsolver would surely be proud).

No corked wine. I vaguely recall reading something about corks being endangered, or causing mercury poisoning in tuna, or whatever, so maybe that's good.

Made largely of Renewable Resources. Of course, "renewable resources" is just
another marketing ploy (it could be made out of small children for all I know...or care, for that matter... because...

Number 1? You can crush it on your forehead.

I thought Jupiter was just making that up, but I'm looking at the label right now and that's what it says. Right above 1.866.JugBoys, which characterizes them as "liberators of fine wine."

About the only thing it doesn't promise is to get you laid.
But maybe that's implied? Understood?
Not sure.
Perhaps you have to buy it in sufficient quantity?
Will report back.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dick and Julie

"I think the dozen people who click onto your website while they take their coffee breaks will manage to carry on if they don't get to read about your sauteing thorny vegetables in butter for one more day."
--Julie and Julia

One of the things I got for my birthday was the book, Julie and Julia, which I just started. And I'm far enough in to have read the part where she confesses to not knowing who Richard Hell is.

I know who Richard Hell is. I've even talked to him on the phone, during which I took cheesy delight in addressing him as Mr. Hell. (I knew his real name of course -- he's FROM here -- And it isn't Richard. And it isn't Hell.) I thought it was pretty funny, and I'm pretty sure he thought I was a dork, but the surprising thing to me was, either way, he was a good sport about it.

And either way, the book has made me think that there are probably A. people who know who Richard Hell is, B. people who don't, and then subsets of people who would admit to that, and then people who would not.

I figure I'm admitting to reading Julie and Julia, which is far more embarrassing than any of the above. But I wanted it, cause I love food and I love writing about food, and it's entertaining, even if it isn't well written. By and large, it reinforces the fact that there are often BIG differences between bloggers and writers -- some people are both (Dana Jennings is one of my favorites off the top of my head), but a lot of times they're the exceptions who prove the rule. This girl Julie, who wrote the book, doesn't pretend to be a writer -- she's actually an Actress -- employed as a Secretary.

(At my first job, I was a writer, employed as a "marketing assistant," which is the euphemism my Engineer Boss was kind enough to call me, because he felt bad about calling anyone with a master's degree his secretary. It was the 80s. I think he felt extra bad because his daughters both had liberal arts degrees like mine and I'm sure he was hoping someone would take pity on them someday and give THEM a job. All I know is, he worked harder than any other boss I've ever had. He was the BEST boss I have ever had. He is the Boss by whom I went on to measure every other Boss. And I was very, very glad to make his coffee. My time in carpetland with him was time well spent. At my next job, I had a real, old-school secretary, who knew actual shorthand and actually preferred to be called a Secretary and not an Assistant. I put in four years at that stop in carpetland and it was much, much harder. But I also made a lot more money.)

I was just thinking, on my last birthday, I didn't even know HOW to blog (I did sorta know how to MICRO-blog, which is what I was still calling Twitter at the time, and that's because I was doing it wrong).

I still think Writers and Bloggers have very different jobs, and I'm still sorting out the two. And by "writer" I don't mean "novelist" -- which is the kinda thing any Writer will be asked about sooner or later if they go into writing as a profession. (No, I don't write Fiction. At least not on purpose. I don't think it's any more or less legitimate, or interesting, or serious than non-fiction -- just different.)

I'm also not a Journalist -- they have schools for that, and I didn't go to one -- I'm just a writer who sometimes writes about the news.

I love to cook -- but it doesn't make me a chef. They have schools for that too. Again, I didn't go to one. Chef Baby Brother did. That's why we call him Chef Baby Brother.

The blogging thing? Eh. I'm still figuring it out as I go.