Saturday, December 29, 2007

Little Girls Shriek for Rock Stars

Andrew asked me why there were little girls screaming in the background when I called to tell him we got Guitar Hero for Christmas.

I should have said it was because since we got Guitar Hero, my fans won't leave me alone.

But I didn't think of it fast enough. I have trouble thinking at all surrounded by piercing war whoops and powerful tiny fisticuffs. I hate it when I'm in the YMCA locker room at the same time as the junior high girls' swim team.

"Courtney give it BACK!"

"I mean it Courtney. GIVE it BACK!"

My survival response is to crank up the iPod and try to avoid the swarming.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

You'll just have to have a pyre

The mail lady is not our friend. After the snowstorm, for a whole week, she resolutely refused to disembark from her vehicle to deliver our mail. The snow plow dudes had fluffed a smallish mound of snow directly in front of our mailbox which prevented drive-by mail delivery. Maybe we should tip her more.

So the day after Tom went down with an ice pick and a shovel and chiseled away at the mound, we burgeoned with excitement. We hauled up forty festive pounds of holiday catalogs and Christmas cards from hair salons the old owners of this house frequented on or before 2001 when they moved to Florida.

But amidst the immediately recyclable, the 2008 Randolph Guide to Garbage glittered before my wondering eyes. I was more excited about getting it than I'd have been about an
official Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle. Every year I read it cover to cover.

Did you know that even during Spring Clean-Up Big Trash Week, you cannot throw out a boat?

That ship has sailed, my friend. The sanitation engineers will simply not pick it up. If you don't believe me, you can read about it for yourself. First paragraph, top of page two. Right before the note about asbestos.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Warming of Suzanne's House

Overwhelmingly the guests were fuzzy. Glittery and fuzzy. I had a hard time keeping my hands to myself. It was calling my name, all the velvet and fur and fluffy silky feathers. I fit right in since I decked my alltogether in Grammy R's cashmere sweater and the black mink coat she wore to the Waldorf Astoria in the winter of 1935.

Tom, me and our fellow partygoers swanned about Suzanne's lovely crib. Mid-evening, there was a well-attended tour that included a looksee at Margaux's tricked out playroom and Preston's man-room.

Michael K was looking buff as a gold button. After the recent ice storm, he shoveled his entire driveway so the cleaning ladies could park their mini-van. Except when the girls arrived, they decided to do a Uturn in front of the neighbor's house and they slid the entire way down the neighbor's driveway. So Michael had to go shovel their driveway too. Lynn went all limp and dreamy-eyed over Michael's strength and stamina.

Melissa rocked a pearl necklace, magical cleavage and a flirty plaid skirt. Visions of turkey chili danced in her head. And double-stuffed yams. And spinach au gratin. There was talk about elves in yarmulkes prancing around lighting Christmas menorahs.

Jen looked goregous as usual and so did Kerry. Kerry would have gotten lost on the way over but luckily Choo rigged himeself out with dayglo orange gloves featuring a compass and flashing red lights. Upon questioning, we learned that the gloves were not superhero gloves. You can get them anywhere.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Entire Can of Cranberry Sauce

Yesterday for dinner I had a can of cranberry sauce.

It wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done.

But canned goods are extremely convenient. In my experience.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Back in the Bookwriting Saddle

I started to write a book for tween-age girls in 2002 and the last page only got locked down so recently I remember doing it. Scott hooked me up and submitted my two hundred pages of writification to Leonardo Dicaprio's agent's company. I got a "recommended with reservations" checkmark right before I got tossed in the slushpile.

For months, I've been sitting on the agent's coverage comments like a sand bag sits on the sofa.

Until now. Now I am inspired. I'm gonna bundle this thing together with coverage comment spackle. Here we go!


Meeting Maldova brings up several universal themes that will surely help young audiences connect with the story. There is good use of the self awareness that everybody goes through when trying to make friends and fit in at a new school. Danielle second guesses every decision she makes because she wants people to think she is cool until she is comfortable with her new group and gains confidence. Maldova provides some great comedic relief with her brash self confidence & lack of manners. She is a good contrast to Danielle and they have a lot to learn from each other.

The plot of the story doesn’t flow smoothly. There are jumps from the story being a coming of age tale about a girl and this fantasy world, but then suddenly she is investigating her classmates for cheating and trying to stop them from getting a buried treasure. The story veers in several directions that give it multiple focuses.

All in all, there is a strong character base and with a little reworking of the plot a great teen fantasy franchise could be built.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Home for the Holidays : A Sensitive Exploration into the Inner Lives of Meanie Ass Grandparents

The story goes that when Omas* and his wife and kids flew the whole way to England for a visit with the British in-laws, it was a busy time of year for the old birds. Banging around inside their big house in the shire. Yet despite busy schedules, grandpa took the trouble to set up a tent in the backyard for his daughter and her family.

But this is the part I like the best. About the mini-fridge. Set up so the Omas family wouldn't get their food mixed up with grandma and grandpa's.

Points for handy camping know-how. Never underestimate a red-coat, I guess.

*Name changed because otherwise my mom would get pissed off.

Tom's Inquisitive Mind Wants to Know

I wonder what happens when you plug two devices into your computer at the same time.

I'm bold like that.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Finally Unboxing Fabulous After Two Years In the Closet

Gloriousness overfloweth when you finally construct an outfit to wear with those kickin' orange fringy clogs.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Tuesday Night in the Library Fort

What does Tom say when you tell him you went to the library with Lara to drink beer?
Why the hell did you go to the library?

It seemed like a good idea at the time, what can I say.

After scouting all available library locations, we opted to hole up in the back of the periodicals section because there are no serious readers in the periodicals section. We clustered the chairs into a fort and stared menacingly at any of the faker bookworms who ventured into the vicinity.

What do you call it when you crack your beer in advance of the cough that is supposed to cover up the noise because you happen to be in the library and it is very quiet and you are not supposed to be drinking beer?
A premature ejaculation.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Rutgers University Big Chill 5k 2007 : Running with Randy Stine

We got up at the crack of seven AM. Practically. And we were out the door as soon our to-go cups sloshed with coffee. Randy Stine* and I.

Tom was going to sit this one out. He was hellbent to maintain his record-breaking streak. In every race so far, for all time, he's run a personal best. The kid just keeps getting faster and faster. So my brother's plan for today bunched up his knickers.

Sethie recruited us to run on the RU Facilities Racing Team and the idea was to run together. Meaning I'm the lowest common denominator. And Tom wasn't about to blow his harefooted laurels on a stacey-speed trot in the park. So he broke out his incognito alter-ego, Randy Stine, to participate.

Randy has a predilection to sign up for competitors' mailing lists and engage in other nefarious activities that Tom doesn't want to have any part of. Including running nine minute miles.

So I embarked on the 3.2 mile adventure with Sethie and Randy, my two escorts. I don't know what Tom did all day. Meanwhile, Mary and her medal-winning Mom loaded up the Big Chill's littlest racers - Jack and Ella, into the double stroller. They pulled a Rosie Ruiz, otherwise known as Mexican Presidential Candidate and skipped the whole middle of the course. I think they're going to have to confess eventually.

SRating: Scenic course with good terrain, well organized event. Invigorating to dust college students half one's age. Plentiful, although not excessively encouraging, volunteers. Cheer for the runners, people!

*Randy Stine is not Tom's real alias. Name changed to protect the not particularly innocent.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Maybe Just a Tiny Bit OCD... But I Say Pop is a World-Class Duathlete

A "duathlete" is the new "biathlete," as my brother saw fit to point out in ALL CAPS. I'm assuming "biathlete" has come to refer to those sportsmen who play on both teams. Sethie is troubled by such goings on.

After I accused my nutchie brother of being a smartypants entomologist, my pop helpfully noted that entomologists study insects. Etymologists are into words.

So carry on. Now that you know my fambo remorselessly endeavors to squash me under the bad vocabulary "reply all" bus.

Dad discusses his lifetime running and biking stats:

My 1st recorded running milage was 1976 with 332 miles.

My 1st recorded biking milage was 1981 with 2005 miles.

My best running year was 1980 with a whopping 1880 miles. My top biking year was 1988- 6847 miles.

Every year between 1982 to 1987, I ran at least 1100 miles (except a 984 in 1985. Why did I stop just 16 miles short of 1000?) and biked 4100 miles including 1983 when I biked 4155 and ran 1618 miles and 1986 when I ran 1388 and biked 5355 miles.

This year I am over 4700 miles which would be my best recorded biking year since 1989 (4620 miles, of course i ran 868 miles that year also).

My lifetime miles: biked over 100K and ran over 30K- not shabby.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

JP Morgan Chase Incites Terror Amongst the Trees : An Investigative Report

In an act of environmental diligence having practically nothing to do with messy packrat tendencies, this fearless ink slinger assembled two months worth of Confidential Information. All mailed by JP Morgan Chase. To one household. An average law abiding household. With no relation to any Vanderbilts or Rockefellers or Hiltons.

This morning, I put on safety glasses and earplugs and a white lab coat. I fired up the shredder. After four hours of backbreaking labor, I meticulously collected all the shredded JP Morgan Chase Detritus into one extra large Hefty bag, and measured it to be 26" tall by 19" in diameter.

Because of my dedication to hard science, I enlisted a Certified Professional in Soil Erosion and Sediment Control. My brother calculated the volume of the JP Morgan Chase Detritus to be 4.2677 cubic feet or 7,374.7 cubic inches.

Since my stash of JP Morgan Chase Detritus represents only one-sixth of year, I used a formula in Microsoft Excel to extrapolate that this amounts to 25.6062 cubic feet of shredded paper annually.

Therefore, I could easily become one of those batshit crazy old ladies living in a house completely filled up with yellowing stained paper, except for one little trail to the bathroom. I'd just have to be a JP Morgan Chase client for like, two years. Thank you for the option, JP Morgan Chase.

You might be thinking: why don't you ask your JP Morgan Chase account executive financial planner to stop your snail mail? After all, it is 2007. Your reports are available online. Hello. What do you think we are, soft-spoken sissypants? Of course we told our account executive financial planner to cut it with the metric assload of envelopes. The door of our mailbox fell off from the overstuffing. We told her that. Maybe five times.

Unfortunately, she says she can't. Corporate policy. Something to do with the kind of account we have. Seems that unfortunately we own one of those dreaded Accounting for the Deforestation of America JP Morgan Chase Accounts.

Jamie Dimon
, CEO of JP Morgan Chase must have it in for trees.

{{According to ConservaTree, 1 tree makes 16 reams of paper.}}

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Auspicious Things

  • When standing on the train platform, the train pulls up with a door directly in front of you.
  • The exact song your brain has been singing all day just happens to be playing on the radio when you turn it on.
  • Writing with a smooth medium blue ballpoint pen.
  • The day the flowers on your porch bloom.
  • Using gym locker 175. And occasionally 177.
  • Opening up a new sleeve of spiced ginger cookies, Thin Mints or Fig Newtons.
  • Hitting every green light on the way somewhere important.
  • Losing something valuable. But only if you have managed to convince yourself the item was a sacrifice. So by losing it, you can be assured future good fortune.
  • Carrying a large steel washer in your pocket.
  • The Lotus flower.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dad : Suburban Treasure Hunter

Tom, Mom and I step out for a six-mile foot tour of the Randolph hood with Dad, Suburban Treasure Hunter:

"Look, I found a piece of copper pipe. It was right here on the side of the road under some leaves."

"I'm going to take this pipe down to Viozzi's Recycling and sell it. A couple weeks ago, I sold a copper elbow pipe. I got three dollars and nineteen cents for it."

"Copper is pricey these days. There's a shortage. This pipe is a lot longer than an elbow pipe. It should go for some sheckle. Maybe five, six bucks."

"It's funny. When I carry this pipe, the cars really take a wide berth."

"I've decided I'm not going to take my copper pipe into the porta-john with me. I'll lay it down over here in the grass. Keep an eye out and make sure no one takes it."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Me at Morris County Farms Today: Thanksgiving Eve

I roll up to the greenhouse five minutes before closing on the day before Thanksgiving. The guy collecting little red wagons in the parking lot gives me a dirty look.

So as not to score any more asshole points than I already have, I shop with tremendous speed. I'm beelining for the cash register and it's only five after. I apologize for my tardiness to the clerk and all her cohorts standing around waiting to leave.

The cashier has a warm heart. I can tell even in the dark. They'd already cut the lights and hung up the Closed sign. She says, "Oh don't worry. There's always That Person here after closing. Usually in a frenzy picking up just 'one more thing.' We're used to it."

Turns out, they don't take AmEx. I can't find my MasterCard. I don't have a checkbook. I dredge $37 in crumpled dollar bills and a pile of loose change from my handbag. I still owe $22. The cashier, the greenhouse owner, and myself discuss options. We work out a payment plan.

Then it occurs to me. I'm "That Person."

(If you are looking for Morris County Farms, it is located at 33 Smith Rd., Denville, New Jersey 07834. Tel: 973-366-4448. Call before you go on the weekends, because hours seem to vary. Location is up behind Greystone off of Casterline Road.)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

My Hero Tom Qualifies for Boston at the Philadelphia Marathon: November 18, 2007 + Philadelphia Marathon Review

For all newbies, here's the background you need:
  1. All marathons are 26.2 miles. If the race is not 26.2 miles, it is not a marathon.
  2. You can't run the Boston Marathon unless you qualify or have a lot of money and buy your way in. Assuming you go about it the bona fide way, you have to cross the tape in a very speedy fashion at an earlier qualifying marathon. Qualifier times are age-graded so anywho can compete. This is why Boston has been called "The People's Olympics."
So yay! Tom devastated his qualifying time of 3:15:59, hauling ass in 3:14:44. We're all going to Boston in the spring!

SRating: The Phillie Marathon is largely a praiseworthy affair. Diligent volunteers, interesting course well laid out for spectators, good food at the end, Gatorade waterstops.

Yet a triumvirate of slip ups:
  • First, someone forgot to remove a barricade behind the start line separating different groups of runners. Luckily a couple of participants took it away, otherwise everybody behind it would have been smashed up against it by ten thousand surging racers after the gun went off.
  • Second, no one monitored who was lining up where. As usual, joggers, sloggers and even some people with canes lined up in front of cheetah fast runners. God bless the five-hour potbellies for gutting out twenty-six big ones, but please. Exhibit just a little bit of courtesy for the poor, quick people who trained harder than you and are now going to miss their goal times because they are stuck behind a wall of jiggling asses.

    I just don't get it, yet it always happens. If you run ten-minute miles, why are you standing in the corral for six-minute milers? Do you think some speedy pixie-dust is going to rub off and turn you into a rocket in sneakers?
  • No markers at the end of the race calling out how far to the finish. At the NYC Half ("The most well-run race of all time," according to Tom) they had markers every 100m for the last half mile. When you've just pounded over this much road, you want to know EXACTLY how much farther you have to go.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Out and About with Afrodite in Soho : The Earth Room by Walter De Maria

So you approach the grey steel door in the cobblestones and bricks and $700 shoes section of Soho. You press buzzer 2b and some hidden video camera gives you the once over. The door unlocks, assuming you didn't show up with shovels and a wheelbarrow, which would be indicative of your art heist intentions and I seriously doubt you'd be let in. You squeeze up a narrow stairway, get buzzed through another door and then you're in:

The New York Earth Room.

You stand in an airy foyer facing a beautiful pristine loft apartment that would probably cost a couple million even in this bear market. White columns, capacious windows, a nook.

Except the entire vast white space before you is filled with 22 inches of dirt. The dirt is neatly contained behind a Plexiglass barrier that discourages you from footslogging through the dirt. You can just gaze out over the expanse of it.

Upon closer inspection, you notice that the dirt is actually a
rich loamy clumpy soil with delicate rake tracks covering its relatively even surface. Upon questioning the lone security guard reading a book in the backroom, you learn that the exhibit is moistened and picked free of debris on a regular basis. You also realize that soil kicks up some heat and that's why the windows are all steamed up.

Artist Walter De Maria created the Earth Room in 1977 and it is owned by the Dia Center for the Arts.

SRating: The Earth Room
is basically a museum with one piece in it. It handily jolts you out of your normal until now day and assures five minutes of no-entrance-fee free head scratching. Swing by if you're in the area. If you aren't in the area, go to MoMA instead.

One reason to be in the area might be to go to this place:

Le Pain Quotidien
New York, Soho
100 Grand Street
Tel.: 212 625 9009

Get a load of my fabulous lunch.

I was so jubilant over the whole idea of lunch. It was three o'clock pm and I was starting to hallucinate after so much fecund earth and so little nutritional intake.

Plus the tables are really thick rustic wood and the whole place smells like coffee and baking bread. Shangri
-La to my watery starving eyes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Meme-oriable Meme

Meta-Dad, my memesis, has tagged me for a meme. His own seven things were pretty well thought out. Suspiciously so. Honestly I think he's been secretly jotting notes for months, waiting for someone to tag him so he can BAM. Trot out his seven chin-rubbers like it was effortless.

This is what I say:
  1. Seven is a lucky number, so I'm up for this. Three and five are also lucky numbers. Three is the most lucky, followed by seven and then five. Eleven is another lucky number, although counter-intuitively, the number one is not particularly lucky when it presents alone.
  2. is probably not the email address of a Series 9001 Delta Core Artificial Lifeform. My skepticism blossomed when the reply to my handshake email calculated the stocastic probability heuristics of me of being an inferior chatterbot at 83%. Plus he called me a nerfherder. This is not the sort of language I'd think you could expect from a machine who allegedly passed the Turing Test in 2 minutes and possesses an IQ of 10,001.
  3. My great-great grandmother, Bubba Cherry Street, had an apartment on the Lower East Side. She went through a series of husbands. Maybe six. One day she climbed up a step ladder to accomplish something handy and her daughter came in and stabbed her and stole her pearl necklace.
  4. It took me twenty years to figure out that my mother did not, in fact, take Perky Puppy to "live on a farm in the country" after he peed on her oriental carpet.
  5. I used to speak Swedish fluently but every year that goes by, I forget more. Sometimes I'll randomly find myself waiting for the light to change beside some Swedish tourist family and I will devote myself to eavesdropping on their conversation.
  6. Tom and I are deeply into the first season of Heros. The TV show. We are renting the DVDs from Netflix. Skyler was cutting off Peter Petrelli's head right before "to be continued" ended the episode and now we have to wait for the next disk to show up. Luckily, Tom exhibited the foresight he is well known for and returned the Weeds disk yesterday, so we should find out Peter's fate by Friday.
  7. We have two matching corduroy couches. They were in our house when we moved in. Sometimes when we have parties we drag them out on the deck for a truly decadent affair.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Mother's Shit List: East Coast Plumbing Suppliers

I want a Dual Flush Toilet. Eight-tenths of a gallon flush for liquids and 1.6 gallon flush for solids.

All over Australia and New Zealand, I saw the Dual Flush Toilet. All over Europe: Dual Flush Toilets. They come standard.

The one I picked out is this Aussie Dual Flush. Excellent reviews.

On the west coast, you get a rebate if you buy a low flow toilet. $150 back. Not like in PA. I went to the plumbing supply in town and the guy told me the Dual Flush Toilet does not even exist.

What is it, a figment of my imagination? I told him I saw plenty of Dual Flushes with my own two eyes and he gave me this annoyed look and refused to help me anymore.

He's on my shit list. All the plumbing suppliers around here are on my shit list. Including Lowe's. I went there too.

This is ridiculous. This is crazy. We all have water problems. The Dual Flush Toilet has excellent engineering, not like the old low flow toilets. All they did before is just make the tanks smaller. Idiots. Of course that was not a good plan. I'm not an engineer and I even know that.

We all need a new kind of toilet. These toilets are the same as we've been using since forever. But people don't care. Too bad the children will pay for the buoyancy of their parents' shit.

If I can find a Dual Flush Toilet in NJ, I could put it in the car and take it home.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

11|11 Today is Corduroy Appreciation Day

Corduroy Appreciation Day is today, 11|11, the date that looks most like corduroy.

Hail the Wale!

Corduroy Appreciation Day celebrates the advancement of Corduroy awareness, understanding, celebration and commemoration of the fabric and all related items.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Motion City Soundtrack / Mae / Anberlin @ Roseland Ballroom, November 9

In the seedy underbelly of the East Village, tickets always claim 6:45 doors; and shows never start before 9:00. We're one with it. So needless to say, mid-town traditions smacked us awares. Color us surprised. At Roseland Ballroom on 52nd Street, shows begin promptly.

Thus we missed Anberlin entirely.

I dig Anberlin. Such was the bummer.

First-string opener Mae took the stage just as we rolled into the venue. As they cranked through their set consisting of basically one very lengthy song, I got to thinking. I got to thinking that Mae's songsmithing beautifully fits into perfect musical singularity: that grand sausage of unidentifiable bands remembered as long as your average inner-ear infection.

Motion City Soundtrack exploded onto the stage. Lights, noise, flinging hair. The stage show kept your brain busy with snap crackle and pop, plus offered up a phantasmagoric backdrop for the bandmembers. Who vaguely reminded me of guys performing in front of their bedroom mirrors, making up banter on the fly and worrying not so much if actually made any sense. Desperately hoping their sister wouldn't fling open the door and find them in a compromising guitar hero pose which would be used for dastardly blackmail purposes until middle-age.

I give the show a rating of "entertaining," especially special because the boys were juiced to headline their biggest show to date. But here's the clutch thing. Although recognizable in a mix with other bands, MCS's formulaic songwriting overfloweth when played back-to-back.

Luckily, auxiliary action abounded when things dulled on stage. I enjoyed the chick fights, bald-headed bouncer heads popping up to knock moshpit crowd surfers off the stage, and the flailing skinny white shirtless dude getting locked down and dragged out by security.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Things Tom Would Put in his Man Purse (if he had one)

  • iPhone
  • Glasses (Sun)
  • Glasses Cleaner
  • Orthotics
  • Keys
  • Sunscreen
Tom would not carry chapstick in his man purse.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Coat Rack Fait Accompli Despite Summer Off

I decided early summer 2007 that I was a 2.5 season blacksmith. Standing before a 2000 degree blast furnace in 100 degree heat is just too fucking hot. And piggies ain't happy when your steel tip boots go subzero. It only took me five years to figure this out.

So this coat rack took six months to put together. My whole Starting with No Firm Plan also does not lend itself to speedy project completion. Nor does my insane compulsion to grind off welds so I can weld again in exactly the same spot with exactly the same amount of splatter.

At first I was worried that if I hung my really heavy winter coat on the coat rack, it might tip over. Yeah not so much. I always forget everything I pull off weighs no less than four hundred pounds. We might need to get some structural supports in the basement.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Suzanne's B-Day: Festive at 3 West*

We caught up with Suzanne at her 3-West birthday-o-rama. She was getting awesome with her peeps, the fabulous and beautiful OC Girls, along with their arm candy.

Despite several interruptions perpetrated by Jen**, I managed to lock up a rock-solid exclusive birthday interview:

There is a rumor afoot that you and Preston are starting a Wiggles cover band and that you will open your act with a number called "The Wombat Song."
We have memorized every verse of the Wombat Song, including hand gestures and some pretty plausible sound effects. And it is true that Margaux has been accepted into the School of Rock in Chatham. She also belted out a doo wop version of Happy Birthday for me today. But right now, unfortunately, none of us has the time to dedicate to a band.

I understand that you did
in fact canoodle with the Wiggles in person?
Yes. I scored their digits. In a professional capacity.

And do you have any comment on Sam, the fresh new Wiggle? He recently snatched the Yellow Shirt from Greg, the Ex-Wiggle who Faints Due to Orthostatic Intolerance?

We like Jeff, the Wiggle who sleeps too much. Wake up Jeff!

How's your tuna tar-tar this evening?
7 stars. Respectable, certainly. The tuna tar-tar at La Petit Chateau in Bernardsville consistently rates 8 stars or more.

What's Margaux been into lately?
Yesterday, she pointed out the moon.

So Preston's been running around the house again in his all-together?
No, the moon was in the sky. And it's David who runs around in his all-together.

Thanks for the clarification. But speaking of your all-together, did I just hear you mention the talented Girls Next Door? From Hugh Hefner's award-winning foray into reality television?
I only said I didn't want to become a candidate for the show. Because I was getting too blond. That's why I worked some low-lights into my look... to add some color diversity. Which is politically correct, of course, especially for hair.

How did you spend your birthday today?

I took the day off work and treated myself at the spa.

And what is your Birthday Goal for the upcoming year?

Topping my short list would be to furnish our new home in a color palette inspired by nature.

That sounds like it will be lovely. Have you also considered getting a tattoo?
No. Absolutely not.

*For the purposes of accuracy, which admittedly we aren't big fans of around here, it could possibly be hypothosized that not quite everything in this post was actually said out loud.

**Jen's interruptions really were not that serious. Nothing a professional such as myself couldn't handle. But, as discussed previously, I did make note of them in the Pleatherberry.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Two Trick or Treaters Score Big

Super Shopper Tom is on Acme's mailing list. He locked up a serious price-slashing coupon: $10 off any shopping bill $160 or more. We never spend close to $160 at the grocery store. We rarely eat at home.

No matter. Tom dedicated himself to making it happen. He was going to cash in on that coupon savings if he had to buy a twelve pack of low sodium V8, every flavor of jello and some really exotic fruit. As well as a fantastic quantity of candy resplendent in its Halloween-themed ginormous container. It was too big to fit in the kitchen, so I put it outside where it quietly compressed the porch into the earth.

On the big day, trick or treaters were sparse in our hood. There were exactly two, to be exact: a duo consisting of the Grim Reaper and his sister, Scary Cheerleader. With great enthusiasm and a lot of holiday spirit I unloaded a solid forty pounds of candy into each of their colorful pumpkin sacks. I hope they have a shed.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I think I cracked my head

I am taking a Jujitsu women's self defense class that pretty much has degenerated into an hour of flagrant street fighting. Yesterday, I got kicked in the face during a demonstration of The Best Way to Avoid Having Your Arm Broken.

But that's not what concerns me; the sneaker really only grazed my cheekbone and it was only a flesh wound. I'm also not too worried about the enormous purple welts on my wrists from when we role-played Getting Dragged Into the Woods and the Full Nelson from Behind Bear Hug Problem.

The incident that sort of concerns me is the one where we were practicing Getting Strangled by Someone Sitting on Top of You. The rule of thumb for that one involves flipping your attacker onto his back and ripping out his nads with a stylish twist. This includes balancing on one's head briefly. While so engaged, I heard a large crack on or about my brain. My grey matter has been throbbing ever since.

But maybe I'm not concerned. Maybe I have tottled into valetudinarian* territory. This occurred to me in the shower without my glasses on. I looked down and saw a spider-like leggy shadow on my foot. Immediately, I felt a piercing sting in the metatarsal region. I felt my foot swell up. I zoomed down for a closer look and realized it wasn't a spider. It was a tiny hairball.

But it still took about twenty minutes for my foot to stop throbbing.

*Word of the Day for Sunday, October 28, 2007

valetudinarian \val-uh-too-din-AIR-ee-un; -tyoo-\, noun:

1. A weak or sickly person, especially one morbidly concerned with his or her health.
2. Sickly; weak; infirm.
3. Morbidly concerned with one's health.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Do you know what hellenistic means? Study up before you venture into the New Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

You also might want to look up inhumation, indefatigable and funerary. Yes. The exhibit signage at the New Greek and Roman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art completely baffled Kerry, Tom and me. Bring on the good news. We deduced the culprit:

Smart ass bluestockings parading around stretch vocabularies and intimate understandings of the Intersecting Timelines of Human Civilization.

The Met is on the Upper East Side, after all.

The exhibit is beautiful, don't get me wrong. Bronze and stone statues and fabulous jewelry are displayed in a stunning gallery that's alone worth the trip.
The Leon Levy and Shelby White Court for Hellenistic and Roman art... was designed to evoke the ambulatory garden of a large private Roman villa."

(See what I'm saying? WTF is an 'ambulatory garden?' One designed for emergency vehicles?)

So before you go, put on your thinking caps, normal people. Bookworm a little Greek and Roman history. Maybe waddle through some comprehensible sixth-grade-reading-level background. Check this from the NYT.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

New Pornographers Headline @ Webster Hall, October 24

New Pornographers played with the thoughtless competence that comes from lots of practice. A self-styled Bob Dylan In A Caftan randomly appeared throughout the set. Feedback followed the dude wherever he went, but the very tall people blocking my view cheered anyway.

Neko took herself seriously. She had three monitors trained on her plus a wireless earpiece. She also carried on a lengthy conversation with the sound guy using a well-developed system of lively hand signals and irritated body tics. Based on her attire and general demeanor, she may have mistakenly believed she was in a recording studio, not on a stage. That would explain a lot.

And there sure were a lot of people up there with indeterminate functionality. Two girls in the back kibitzed and hair flipped for maybe 40 minutes before one of them whipped out a flute and I realized her Previously Hidden Talent.

I don't know what I was expecting and I think the soundman maybe should be thrown out on his petard because the volumes were wack. I'd give the show about a limp 2 out of 5 stars. Disappointing, because I dig the NP albums. Although maybe I like them better ambiently and while sitting down.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Indolence of Emma Pollack @ Webster Hall October 24

Benjy Ferree opened for first-string opener Emma Pollack. Red Bull bubbled from the lead singer's pores and permeated the air with the faint odor of a zealous manic fit. Meanwhile, the rest of the band remained curiously inert.

Emma Pollock had no guts, according to Tom. She really didn't do anything for him. I liked her song Acid Test, but the rest of her tunes, no, I would not change them to a 'yes' because they were feisty.

At the beginning of her set, I thought Emma made a point to showcase her polar icecap heavy-duty fixation with cool. I was on board with it for a while, but then I got to wondering if she might be suffering from fiber myalgia.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Going Hiking," as defined by Melissa, Attorney-at-Law

"Going hiking" is a totally different animal than "exercising" or "going for a walk." No need for break-of-dawn Armageddon shit, hiking has mellowed since the time of codpieces and poor personal hygiene. Yet, the action of "hiking" remains distinct and is characterized by three criteria: intent, food and footwear.
  • Intent. Meaning one or more of the following:
    • You procured a trail map.
    • You've mentioned your commitment to "go hiking" in advance of setting out.
    • You foresee an opportunity to whip out your buck knife.
  • Food.
    • You've rigged yourself out with a snack.
  • Footwear.
    • You are wearing hiking boots that snuggly protect your ankles from the hidden peril of rocks.
*Additional Commentary as per Melissa: I think it is important that it also be recognized that if by chance one is wearing running shoes for any period of time during the alleged "hike", one is clearly not hiking as that fact alone is evidential that no "hike" or "hiking" occurred. When those facts are present, any pre-concieved intent or intent of any sort, is clearly negated by the action or inaction, if you will.

Nothing further, your honor.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 911 Quiz Bowl

Motoring down Route 10 only one cup of coffee into my day, I stopped. Because of the red light at the intersection of Route 202. I glanced out the window and a telephone pole had flames shooting out of the middle of it. Driving in the car makes me think I can sing, so I usually do, and I was. Singing. While I watched the weeds around the burning telephone pole incinerate.

It was right about then that the problematic nature of my observation began to coagulate brainwaves. I picked up the cell phone.

"911. What is the nature of your emergency?"

"The traffic island is on fire at the corner of Route 202 and Route 10. Southwest side."

"What town is that in, ma'am?"

"Umm. I'm at the intersection of Route 10 and Route 202. They only cross once."

"What town is that in, ma'am?"

"Ummm. Denville? Maybe Cedar Knolls? Let me think... Morris Township?"

"No. You're in Parsippany, ma'am."

hang on a sec.
Maybe I misdialed? Is this the 911 for emergencies or the one to subject myself to a mid-morning geography roast?

Andrew says next time he is lost, he's going to call 911. "Hello? I'm driving down a highway in Morris County. What town am I in? And where is the nearest Wachovia bank? I think it's on fire."

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Sethie Hasn't Slept Much

"Why am I wearing this baby blanket like a cape? It's because I'm... I'm Star Wars Guy."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Things I Have Given Up

  1. Borat
  2. Buying things I don't really like
  3. Anti-perspirant
  4. Dry bagels
  5. ATMs
  6. Benchpressing with plates
  7. Sodium laureth sulfate
  8. Putting plastic in the microwave
  9. Satin
  10. Diet soda
  11. Boxy crew neck t-shirts with droopy sleeves
  12. Unwashed fruit
  13. Hoboken
  14. Chicken roasters from Acme
  15. Criticizing via email
  16. Diners
  17. Shiny objects
  18. Anything requiring assembly
  19. Pleats
  20. Saving wax paper bags from inside cereal boxes
  21. Plastic shoes

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Tres Fancy Thursday on Wall Street

This kind of lifestyle - hard drinking, late nights, studying the bronze bull's asshole in Bowling Green Park - takes its toll on your body. I was exhausted all day on Friday after our big night in the Financial District.

Diana works in the Chase Manhattan building. She invited us up to the 60th floor for some wine tasting hootenanny. She said you can look out over the whole city from up there and it's really something.

True Fact. Although I wish I would have more thoroughly inspected the panorama possibilities. I was too busy drinking. And kibitzing with our new insta-buddies, Jerry and Carol. In the spirit of teamwork and like-minded goals, we drank right up until they flashed the lights and kicked us out.

Shrugging off the Lack of Venue Inconvienence, we headed south. To Stone Street. Quaint, cobble-stoned, and peculiarly situated in the middle of all the sky scraping Gotham City glass and steel. We chomped pizza and Jerry and Carol ordered another bottle of wine. So much spirit around that table! It was like a pep rally.

Adrienne's Pizza Bar
Neighborhood: Manhattan/Financial District
54 Stone Street
New York, NY 10079

I semi-recall the pizza being respectable. It was tart in a parmigiana kind of way.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Things that Rinse the Poison from Your Blood

  • Deep green moss, more plush than velvet
  • The smell of new fallen snow.
  • A full moon in a midnight blue sky.
  • The blood red glow of the sun behind closed eye lids.
  • Rough gnarled bark on a tree that sees with eyes as ancient as the earth
  • Catching a falling leaf in autumn
  • Your first glimpse of the ocean
  • Slippery lichens on a black rock beneath your feet and an ice cold swirling brook
  • Fireflies at dusk
Blog Action Day : October 15

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Where's my Office?"

Monday is Linda's first day at her new job. She's going to show up with a giant stuffed parrot. Oh, it's not for my office. It's for the lobby.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Titans of Grammy : Touché

You’re shorter than the last time I saw you!”

- Grammy T. to Grammy R. at family photoshoot.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Kiwanis Club Country Squire 10K Run in Convent Station

The black tar blisters dotting the road were caused by a Scorching Indian Summer Global Warming Heat Attack and also by the sparks our breakneck pace kicked up. Sethie and I blazed through the first mile in 9:06.

I instructed Sethie to jog backwards up hills and point out fat people ahead that we really shouldn't let beat us. I thought it might help him avoid the unpleasantness of sweating. I was right on that.

At almost every water stop, I had a drink mainly because the boy scouts passing out the beverages looked so earnest in their little brown uniforms and matching turbans (if applicable.) It was heartwarming.

We finished in 1:01 earth time. Due to the unforeseen twist called The Race Started Early, our synchronized iPod mix misaligned with current goings on; I missed my grand finale tune, Before I Forget, by SlipKnot, possibly the most ass kicking awesomeness of all time.

Sethie thinks it's a lame-o-rama when two songs by the same artist spin back to back on a playlist and my race mixes always finish with a doubleshot of my favorite screamers from Des Moines. My brother was vexed enough to crop dust farts along the entire race course. Several spectators were killed.

SRace Rating: 4 stars. Nice course, enthusiastic volunteers, clean toilets and bonus points for the policeman who, in an unparalleled move for a policeman, actually voiced words of encouragement to passing runners.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Midnight Fisticuffs of Slumbering Tom: Excruciating Ways to Let your Inner Brawler Shine.

"Ouch. Shit."

"I was just sleeping here and I punched myself in the head."

"I grabbed my pillow and my hand slipped. Pow. Right in the chopper."

"That's gonna leave a mark."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Grammy Thomas Lived Through the Great Depression : PowerCake Storage

“Remember those Power Pancakes Seth used to make? I think the last time he cooked up a batch was maybe a year or two ago.”

“I have one in the freezer if you want it.”

"No thanks, Grammy."

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fireside Talks with Grampy T about The Steering Wheel that Saved his Life

Grampy Thomas repeated the tale many times while my brother and I crowded around the brick fireplace where the old wooden ship wheel rested on the mantle.

During the Hell called WWII, Grampy captained a PT boat. In the Pacific. Until the day enemy fire came ack-ack-ack. Snapped the ship into pieces and flames poured over the deck.

The boat keeled starboard and buckled wildly and choppy water washed over charring smoky timbers and the boat slipped low into the sea. Toward Davy Jones Locker.

Grampy knew it was hopeless. He clenched his teeth and wrestled the steering wheel off its mooring. He recited the Lord’s Prayer and jumped overboard, clutching the wooden wheel like a life preserver.

Grampy paddled across the cold black ocean toward an island he had spied in the distance. He punched sharks with his bare fists while darting between stray mortars and fiery kamikaze planes and shrapnel. It was harrowing.

Reaching shore, he hauled the wooden wheel across the sandy white beach and into the cover of the dank jungle where he hid amongst the tall trees. Using speed and wile, Grampy dodged divebombing carnivorous birds and attacking kamoto dragons and Bouncing Betty landmines. He peeled bark off trees with his trusty buck knife and ate berries for food. He caught a rabbit. He lived in a treehouse he made using the wooden steering wheel and some stringy vines.

Finally he was rescued.

At the end of the war, Grampy carried the steering wheel that had saved his life the whole way home and mounted it on top of the mantle. He showed us the knick on the side from a glancing enemy bullet, and pointed out a bit of charred wood, from the PT boat fire.

After Grampy died, my brother mentioned that one day when he grew up and got a house with a fireplace, he might like to have Grampy’s steering wheel.

What steering wheel? Grammy inquired.

The one from Grampy’s PT boat. Above the fireplace downstairs.


That wasn’t from your Grampy’s PT boat.

He bought it after the war at an auction.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Series: My Grammy Loves Me

My Grammy brought over a very old box filled up with everything I'd ever given her. And I was a high-output factory of creative abundance.

The first thing I would like to spotlight from the box are the following 4"x4" square pieces of paper. Each paper features a unique design. There are ten total.

I have a vague recollection of hawking the lot for five cents a piece. Grammy was my best customer. Mrs. Howard, our babysitter, refused to purchase anything despite scorchingly persistent salesmanship.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Adventures in Natural Selection : Begetting Today Easier Than Before

Grammy R explains diaper maintenance, circa 1945:

Step 1: Scrape poop from dirty diaper into toilet.
Step 2: Throw diaper into a pail of water and deoderizer.
Step 3: After pail fills up, scrub diapers in bathtub using washboard.
Step 4: Put scrubbed diapers into large pot on stove.
Step 5: Bring to a boil.
Step 6: Hang diapers on clothes line to dry.

Repeat bi-weekly for approximately 3 years.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Pearls of Wisdom from my Pop: Reeling in Road Rabbits

Sethie was probably six or seven years old when he lined up with Dad for the start of his first 5k fun run.

Ready. Set. Bang. Hundreds of pounding sneakers burst onto the open road. A kid flashed by and Sethie turned on the giddyup. Tried to keep up with him.

Dad-san trotted up alongside Sethie. He lay his hand on the Nutchie's shoulder and said, "Slow down. Pace yourself. You'll catch that kid soon enough."

And he did.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Safety First at David's Surprise Birthday Party

I didn't realize the cute top I unearthed in Century 21 cost $356 until I was already in the dressing room and noticed the Miu Miu tres fancy price tag. Immediately, I began to hyperventilate from sticker shock. And also because the top's death grip on my middle-lung aviolis made breathing a slim possibility.

Good things started to happen when I noticed a sale sticker. Fifty percent off. I found another one. Fifty percent off again. Then there was a smallish green dot. Because I'm quick like this even through a haze of oxygen deprivation, I know a big sale price-slashing dot when I see it. In the end, the shirt cost $15. I would have gasped with glee had I been able to intake air.

I decided to wear my new Miu Miu top to David's surprise birthday party. In preparation, I inserted a contingency shirt into a hermetically sealed zip-lock baggie. I stowed the baggie in my handbag. I informed my friend Lynn, who is trustworthy when faced with medical crises, that should I begin to asphyxiate to please unzip me or strongly suggest an outfit change.

I think I stretched out the top or something because events transpired with a surprising amount of ventilation and no ambulances.

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Subject: Andrew Loves His New Employer for Unfortunate Reasons

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Andrew wrote (and cc:ed a lot of people):

So I have been here in Austin for a straight week, stuck in training from 8 - 6 every day...

This morning in the company cafeteria, as I waited for my breakfast burrito, Bryan Adams was playing in the background. Now THAT is cool all on it's own. Then the song ends and ANOTHER Bryan Adams song comes on. That's when I realize, they are not just playing some 80's mix, they are rockin' the entire album at 7:30 AM.

If I can get Metallica played during lunch I am moving down here.

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Reply All:

I KNOW! I was so psyched to come into work today and rock out to the entire Loverboy album on back-to-back play. I don’t know why Bryan Adams’ old sock went for a grand on eBay when those red leather gonorrific ass cheek pants didn’t even get a bid. If I can lock down some Men at Work over lunch I’ll go work at your company.

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Single-Handedly turning our Globe into a Deluxe Baked Good

Diane and Ken have a neighbor remarkably free from the ravages of caring about anybody else but herself. She is raising a fifth grader. Meaning, this perversion has been going on for at least five years:
  • Every school day morning, Mom auto-starts her SUV so it has fifteen minutes to warm up to toasty.
  • She and junior get into the car.
  • They drive down the driveway.
  • They idle by the mailbox until the bus comes.
  • Mom does a K-turn and motors back up to the house.
Let's do the math. An idling car emits 20 times the air pollution of one traveling 30mph. So this lazy ass has produced over 1000 pounds of air pollution so far to commemorate her son's academic career. She has undoubtedly beavered a hole in the ozone layer bigger than the Yankees' payroll.

But here is the demented irony:
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to air pollution because they breathe faster than adults and inhale more air per pound of body weight.

  • Many people believe that they are protected from air pollution if they remain inside their vehicles. Not so according to a report by the International Center for Technology Assessment (CTA). CTA found that exposure to most auto pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide (CO), is much higher inside vehicles.

  • VOCs and CO are linked to serious health problems:

    • aggravate bronchitis, heart disease, emphysema and asthma;
    • lead to hospital admissions and emergency room visits
    • impair the body's immune system defenses, making people more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
    • cause cancer
    • according to the EPA, are proven to "shorten life."
  • And the highest exposure to these toxins occurs when idling-- sitting in traffic congestion on highways or in a line-up of idling vehicles. (Oh yes, and also when you commute to your mailbox).

I only hope the fumes knock her cold before she kills the rest of us, including her own kid.

(Yeah, I'll be celebrating blog action day on October 15.)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Buck for a Cluck

From the bottom of the black hole called the Great Depression, in the steamy depths of New York City, my grammy's mom had twenty-five cents to feed her family. It wasn't looking good.

Then she found a dollar underneath the elevator shaft.

She went to the Bronx Market and bought a mouthwatering chicken.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Armed and Legged Guard Ensures Bountiful Harvest

My pile is always hot. In years past, despite my God-given talent in the area of composting, marauding bastard-ass aphids and their Aryan white fly comrades strangled my tomatoes in their locust death grip. Ghastly stringy leafless carnage littered my garden.

This year, I called in mercenaries. I hired a smallish plastic pouch of bloodthirsty warriors with experience in theatres of war like the FlowerHouse. I'm talking about Green Lace Wings. Putting an end to chicanery and
fruit looting.

My boys are downhome ferocious kungfu fighters, even when they're just little baby larvae. Their tiny mandibles chomp up any squishy body encountered.

Take that, Bug Nemeses!

Check it:

I might commission a parade. Hoist all the Lace Wings up on a microscopic float and trottle around the cul de sac.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Little League Side Show Politically Correct Situation

Tom, driving by Volunteer Park:

“What a great arm on that kid. He fired the ball from left field all the way to home plate.”

"Whoa. Hold on a second here. That’s no kid. It’s a midget. They’re all midgets. It’s Midget League.”

“I mean Little League.”

“I mean Little People League.”

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Monday, September 03, 2007

Prague in Retrospect : Disneyland-esque Gilded Shadowbox

The legend says if Prague wants you, she will call to you.

Either she didn't want me, or I had a hard time hearing her. Her soul is buried under the deadweight of a million tourists. I forged the squashed streets like a salmon against the current, nerfed between loudtalking man-night-outers, half of Japan, and legions of hausfraus relentlessly price shopping oddly creepy marionettes.

But maybe not much has changed.

Prague was built with the money of foreign rulers: Holy Roman Emperors, Nazis, Soviets. In the past thousand years, there's barely been five decades in a row where the Czechs have been in charge.

Yet ten centuries of architectural wonderworks piled on top of each other is tough to overlook. You've got your rigged out medieval cathedral kicking a Bolshevik concrete bunker jammed up against some tres fancy art nouveau bauble. The overall effect is breathtaking. Everyone says so.

But not so long ago, in the abject communist 80's, only gypsies possessed the swashbuckling pluck to shack up inside Prague. The city had decayed into a condemned, dirty pit. But I wonder. Did any real live Czechs move back in when the gypsies got thrown out on their resourceful petards? When the capitalistic werewolves licked their chops and hustled to clean up this glorious golden egg tourist attraction?

I've read that neither the ties of blood nor the ties of place can be sustained without the shared effort of will.

Maybe the deathblows of this century annihilated so many strands of memory that the palpable spirit of Prague unraveled. Could be that empty the empty air of a facade filled the vacuum. Could be I got voted off the island.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Live from Prague : Rick Steves' Prague 2007 Book Review

My husband Tom and I have toted our Rick Steves all around Europe. We love him. His pages are dog-eared and scribbled on and reread.

One time, in a moment teetering on tragic, we nearly left Rick on a German bus. Luckily Tom accelerates under pressure and although the incident left us pale and shaken, we were reunited with our trusty friend. I can’t say enough about German/Austrian Rick, London Rick, Paris Rick, or Italy Rick.

But in Prague, we got a little hitch in our giddyup. I find it hard to say out loud, but we had a squabble, Rick, Tom and I.

First he left us hanging on his orientation tour on the tram. We didn’t realize the route wasn’t circular and we ended up in the suburbs. It’s ok, we travel low to the ground, we figured out that the trams don’t pick up where they let out and managed to get back into town. It’s just that Rick is usually so thoughtful and careful with his directions. Unfortunately, not so much in the Czech Republic.

There are only shadows of his signature walking tours in Prague, only a few of his snappy one-liners that make you snicker inappropriately in national monuments and his historical write-ups are uninspired, virtually odorless.

Cataclysmically, in a decision about as user-friendly as a wet cat, Rick chose to feature the English place names on his maps and write-ups; yet all signage and other city maps (even the “English” ones) show Czech place names. I think we earned a degree in cross-referencing.

All I can say is that I hope Rick rewrites Prague 2007 so the rest of you can manage to hurl his 2008 book over the very high bar that he has set for himself.

(Let it be noted for the record that as Rick-devotees, we did not purchase any other guides for Prague. Possibly Rick’s is a shining gem amongst the muzzy rest of them.)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Live from Prague : What is the Fat Content of a Wanger?

Aha! I'm seeing the reason for the evident weightgain across the pond: XXXL Wangers. Devastating to diets in all languages.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Live from Prague : The Fattened Foreigners

You used to be able to pick out the Americans in any crowd:
  1. Jiggling a little chub
  2. Wearing comfortable shoes
  3. Loud talking
  4. Rigged out in T-shirts featuring English words spelled correctly and clustered into phrases that actually make sense

Contemporaneously, indicators 1 & 2, not so much as telltale signs. Fat Europeans abound and they have discovered that double-D width sneakers and padded socks properly underpin the extra poundage. Gone are the days when Tom and I were the only ones taking on a six mile path up a mountain to some castle in sensible shoes while everybody else hauled ass in strappy sandles.

Blessed be for indicator 3. And 4. Holy truths even in these dubious times. You can hear we Americans coming across courtyards of cobblestones, our voices ringing above all others as we point out how unexpectedly short kings generally are, and how Joan Crawford and Yoko Ono share a lot in common. And for sure, we are not wearing T-shirts revealing hard facts like: "If you care how you look, then you wonderful," or shouting out to fans of the Orlando Pirates or Cleevaland.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Say Hello to Prague

The internet is not as good as the beer, comrades.

Catch you on the flipside of the week.

Na shledanou.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Steel Train / Piebald / the Format at Webster Hall, August 21

Tom and I travel to the cursed depths of Manhatten for a Tuesday night show at Webster Hall.

Steel Train

Opening band Steel Train consists of five dudes from Mr. Kotter's class. Their conjoined earnestness oozes from their pores and permeates the room with the faint odor Gabe Kaplan's encouragement.

Tom says they are "tight." I say one day, when moldy rockstar grime has smothered their dilligent fascination with their instruments, then, maybe, they will become intriguing enough for big-eyed girls with knapsacks to chase around.

Musically, Steel Train's songs contain an average of three notes, which the gaggling supersilious guitar player standing behind us repeatedly points out while he glances around to see if anyone has overheard how totally boss he is. I teeter on mentioning that this is probably why Tom Petty never really achieved much attention.


The guys in Piebald know what piebald means and they chuckle backstage at all the morons who are not clued in to their irrudite vocabulary genius.

I know what piebald means because I grew up in farm country and that's how we bumpkins describe the markings on a cow. Throughout half Piebald's set, I envision old Pennsylvania Dutchmen snickering at the city-ots who have named their rad band after a cow.

The Format

How do you pick out a 14-year old at a general admission concert?
Easy one: They sit on the floor during opening acts.

Oh, so sorry. It's a two-part question and here's the clutch detail:
They ask random guys standing next to them questions like, "Will you sway with me?" and if the guy refuses, one of their friends will immediately chime in robustly, "Don't worry about it, girlfriend, you're way hotter than him."

Usually, I have a knack for weeding out music liked by pink-lipped girls and the boys that love them. Unfortunately, my instincts deserted me on this one. Although, I will swear until the grave that The Format's studio album is at least three shakes edgier than the sugarcrap they play live.

The emaciated lead singer prances around like a googly-eyed moppet shaking out a nicotine fit. He rocks a polyester-blend I-love-the- 80s-inspired sweatshirt and a whispery voice that makes me wish I have a can of WD40 to squirt on his larynx.

Mike, the bouncy charasmatic lead guitar player is the only reason I stay. Him, and the other guitar player who seriously looks like he's been kidnapped from Cake. Why either one of them have anything to do with the giggling singer is a mystery I will promptly forget about.

Bonus question: What should Lindsay wear to the Barbie party?
I'm so scared. She said she might come as Malibu Barbie and someone should tell her no way.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Ominous Portent of Potato Salad

Me: "Why is there a whole lot of potato salad in the refrigerator?"

Tom: "Because a company of Dutchmen is coming over."

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Entering the Ownage Phase : A New Chapter in the Raccoon Chronicles

Raccoons have thumbs which enable them to open many closed containers (such as garbage cans and doors). Their intelligence and dexterity equip them to survive in a wide range of environments. The densest population of raccoons in New York is in New York City."

Yeah but we already knew that. See the Raccoon Chronicles.

This is a new chapter.

What do you call a Catdoor with no door....?
Our Catdoor. Twenty pounds of ravenous fur ripped it off a long time ago. Raccoons have substantial hand strength.

So, our Cat Pass-Through is located in a basement window. After the raccoons began their nightly fandangos, we corked up said window. We spent our free time sketching scale drawings of mechanical fortifications that would feature the following must-haves:
  1. Tensile strength robust enough to withstand raccoon metacarpus.
  2. Blockage against nocturnal nemeses, but not against the cat.
  3. No requirement for anything to be strapped on or about Alex, Cat Houdini.
For a year, I tinkered with mini-garage doors on a timer (up at dawn, down at dusk), rotating drums with strategically placed openings, and portcullis-style barriers. I was a veritable chocolate fondue fountain of assbad ideas.

Then we went out to dinner with Erin and Guy and it took Guy about four minutes to devise a mofo ingenious solution all by his onsies. Gravy boat! It was hard to stay in the now. After some slackjawed disbelief, Tom and I giggled like feral predators.

Guy's key break came when he mused, "Raccoons can't jump." Ah, so simple in hindsight. Alex... Alex can leap small buildings in a single bound. Why had we not thought of this before....

The Raccoon-Proof Fence:

The fence surrounds the window with the Cat Pass-Through. It is 4' 6" tall. We are going to put sheetmetal on the sides and, as Dad suggested, grease it up with Crisco. Raccoons are worthy foes and not to be underestimated. The fence also keeps out dingos.

Notice the broad landing pad for cats flinging themselves skyward.

Topdown view showing Alex's ladder down to his Cat Pass-Through in the window well.

Zesty jubilance echoes throughout the land. The sieging tufted marauders have been thwarted! But alas, reminds Tom. Bushwackers creep on silent feet. He thinks I'm sounding dangerously cocky.