30 July 2004

Let's review

Things I learned while watching the DNC...

1. You can't spell America without Erica. Yay Erica!!!! This must make Ericas across the country swell with pride, much the same way that I have convinced myself that all of France is partying and shooting off fireworks on Bastille Day to honor me and the day of my birth. (I have a friend who was born on July 4th, and she says much the same thing, but I tell her that's just silly.)

2. John Edwards is super-dreamy-hunkalicious. He's got some sort of weird thing he does with his tongue when he's taking a breath and pausing, kind of rattling it around in his mouth, that kind of made my knees shake.

3. Barak Obama is also dreamy, but not so much in a "let's-get-it-on" way. More in a "thank-God-there-are-intelligent-articulate-and-dynamic-young-politicians-out-there" kind of way.

4. I have a much higher tolerance for watching hours and hours of speeches, motivational songs, and awkward wonky delegates clapping off-tempo and doing "the bump" to Stevie Wonder than I ever thought possible. As long as it's on C-SPAN, and no yammerhead is telling me what I think about it all.

5. I do NOT have a very high tolerance for reading bloggers blog about blogging about blogging the convention. Honest to god, folks. Must we be quite so self-aware and self-referential? (this doesn't apply to me.)

6. I once spent the night in John Kerry's townhouse in Boston! ...It just wasn't his at the time. While reading a New York Times article, I discovered that his Beacon Hill address is 19 Louisburg Square, which was the address of the Episcopal convent (this is a story for another time, believe me) that I worked for when I was 19 years old. It was a lovely old place, with the sweetest Tiffany stained glass in the chapel, and I often wondered who bought the damn thing when the sisters decided it really was too TOO for nuns who had taken a vow of poverty to live on Beacon Hill, and they sold it. So there. I wonder what they did with that gorgeous chapel.

And here, to wrap up this highly erudite bit of political commentary (no, really, rock grrrl, tell us what other 50-year-old politicans you would make out with! 'cause we care! a lot!) are two funny political links that it's possible everyone in the country hasn't yet seen. Hey, it could happen.

This Land is My Land, by JibJab

The Sloganator

And also this, because it makes me so very happy.

So a guy walks up to an ATM...

...and I'm spent.

26 July 2004


In lieu of commenting on the abysmal pitching, fielding, and sportsmanship witnessed by anyone unfortunate enough to tune in to the Yankees/Red Sox series over the weekend (who knew A-Rod was such a potty mouth? and Varitek such a mask-wearing pansy?), I offer this bit of quasi-baseball-related information.

From The Register, my hometown's weekly rag:

(this is from the filler at the end of an article about one of the local Cape League teams, the Y-D Red Sox.  After a long discussion of the new shuttle they have from distant parking lot to ballfield, they launch a brief interview with the concessions stand guy, who has some noteworthy culinary creations...)

"Standing behind the concession stand, Phillips is an energetic, enthusiastic and creative pitchman for his new creations, challenging kids and adults who just want a cheeseburger to try the Hurler instead."

"The Sinker is a 'perfectly grilled 4-ounce, USDA, Grade A, all beef patty nestled between the lightly toasted halves of a cake doughnut,' Phillips explains in a flyer he distributes to the customers."

" 'Do you want it inside, down the middle, or outside?' asks the Sinker pitchman. An order for an Inside Sinker, over the plate, yields a cinnamon doughnut bun with a slice of cheese."

"For the truly adventurous, Phillips offers the Hurler, a burger in a jelly doughnut, 'topped with an ounce of canned squirt cheddar cheese,' that comes with the warning: 'Some fans may experience minor intestinal discomfort after eating the Hurler Burger.  For our players' safety during the game, Y-D Red Sox rules prohibit us from selling the Hurler Burger to any fans who will be sitting directly on the foul lines.' "

"Phillips' flyer proclaims that his Hurlers is {sic}, 'The long awaited taste treat sensation that is sure to rock the stands of ball fields all across this nation.' "

You've been warned.



Freezer tricks

I just wrapped up one of my usual marathon phone sessions with my best friend E. She's also a freelancer (and has been a successful one at that, for many years), so our conversations tend to have a hint of procrastination about them ("Oh, and another thing!"). We've always had a hard time getting off the phone, though, which was particularly tough on the ol' wallet when she lived in Japan. Do you have any idea how much an hour and a half phone call to Japan costs? Count yourself lucky.

So the last hurrah of this call was a spontaneous exhange of Odd Things We Put in Our Freezers. I think it got started because I mentioned I like to keep my vodka in the freezer, which isn't all that revolutionary, but still a good trick. She went on to describe her favorite beat-the-heat-dessert trick, which she discovered while living in Japan: in the morning, peel and slice a kiwi fruit, place it in a bowl, place bowl in freezer. At night this will be a delightful frozen dessert. She claims it also works with orange slices, but not quite as well.

My contribution to the discussion was my habit of putting my t-shirt in the freezer -- on hot days -- while I'm in the shower. It cools down just enough during those 5-10 minutes, and really helps keep the ol' body temperature down. On days of extreme heat, throw the bra and panties in there, too. Nothin' finer.

E. was concerned that such dainties would pick up some sort of freezer smell, but since I rarely have anything in my freezer except ice cubes, coffee beans in a mason jar, and occasionally vodka, this is less of a concern for me. I suggested she use a ziplock freezer bag if she was squeamish.

Oh, the things you can learn when trying desperately to put off working!

24 July 2004

Pick-up line

It is finally cool and breezy and overcast here, rather than hot and steamy and overcast.  I'm sure this is bad news for all the folks who fled here from the convention crazies in Boston -- it's not exactly a beach day -- but it is highly pleasing to me.  It means:

1.  I can turn my air conditioning off, which I'm sure in the last few days has generated an electric bill fit for a cardiac arrest when it arrives;

2.  I won't get covered in quite such mucky sweat when I go out for my jog today, attracting all manner of buzzing, taunting deer flies swirling around my head and dive-bombing my sweaty hairline (they are SO mocking me, and I won't hear opinions to the contrary);

3.  I finally had a lovely night of uninterrupted sweet slumber, in which I had many dreams worth remembering; 

And one snippet worth re-telling.

In one of my best epic chase-scene dreams (I have these all the time, running from spies and other nefarious would-be-captors, instead of being scary, they are usually exhilarating, and sometimes I can fly).  In this case, I was rescued by a superhero-type guy named Victor, who was very Viking-looking with his red beard braided into two six-inch-long braids.

He had all sorts of enchanted flying things that he used to fly at various times, like horse-carts and boats and shoes, and at one point I asked him if the things themselves were magic, or if he had to be in them for the magic to happen.

He leaned in toward me, waggling his eyebrows, and replied, "Oh yeah, all sorts of magical things happen when I'm inside..."   wink wink.

And the hilarity of a viking superhero coming on to me in such a bar scene kind of way woke me up snorting with laughter, startling the cats. 


22 July 2004

Lord of the flies

I have remarked in the past what a generally easy-going relationship I have with most bugs of the crawly variety.  Even spiders, as they are both useful and beautiful, and as long as they stay out of my bed, they may remain unmolested in my house.  There have been a couple of close calls, when I would gaze up at my ceiling, about to fall asleep, and see a spider directly above my face -- clearly biding his time until I fall asleep to shimmy on down and lay eggs in my ear, but I just give it a stern talking-to, and as far as I know, there have been no incidents.

However, all bets are off when it comes to flying bugs.  My number one nemesis is, of course, the June Bug -- so large and stupid and loud and foul, I can only give humble thanks that it is a short-lived nuisance/terror.  Stinging-flying things are no good either, but I can deal.  Again, it's a matter of "I respect your territory, you respect mine."

But yesterday, things came to a head between me and bugs. 

I had spent the morning periodically squashing wee baby crawlers in my bedroom, which apparently shares an alarmingly permeable membrane with the outside world.  You would think there was a little bug-sized Open House sign, and all upwardly mobile insects were vying for a shot at the corner apartment with a terrace view.  I stuck to my policy, though.  I was working in my room, not looking for any trouble.  But if a buggie crossed my desk, or shimmied up the wall behind my desk, or landed on my arm, I nixed 'em.

Then I made myself some lunch, and noticed one or two flies in the kitchen, and idly wished they'd go away.

After this delightful sandwich-related activity, I went out onto the screened-in porch.  Good Lord, I gasped.

Somehow, our porch had been selected to host the Housefly National Convention -- of which my two kitchen buddies were apparently the greeters -- and boy was there a party goin' on.  Although I had done nothing to prepare for their arrival (set out clean towels, buy bagels and coffee, make up a list of local sights of interest), they were clearly enthusiastically pleased with the accommodations, pressing their filthy little noses up against the screens, taking in the spectacular view, and chatting happily with each other.

Feeling like a neglectful host, I naturally sprinted out to the grocery store for some supplies.  Back home, I locked the cats up in the bedroom, strategically placed a few sheets of plastic to protect the valuables, and gave the room a healthy dose of, erm... air freshener.  Then I ran like the dickens out the back door, around the house, and back in the front door (more exercise than I've had in quite some time).

After fifteen minutes, I looked out onto the porch, and saw that the convention had apparently come to an end.  A few minutes spent with sponge, mop and broom, and we could all forget this had ever happened.

My territory, my rules. 


19 July 2004

Burning bush

So I've been leading a pretty sedentary lifestyle since I started freelancing from home, and I'm afraid things around here are sort of going to pot. Hell in a handbasket, actually, if you ask me. Except for the occassional stroll on the beach, I just don't use the ol' muscular system that much -- never mind that whole cardiovascular whatnot. And my eating habits have sunk to frat boy levels, incorporating far too many nachos, pizza, and beer.

I realize what needs to be done... it's not like it's any great secret ya know. In order to lose weight, one must exercise more often and eat more sensibly. End of story. I lost about a hundred pounds when I was a teenager (and kept it off for lo these many years), so I feel pretty confident that I know the basic deal. But I seem to do better with a very detailed plan in hand, so I've been trying to psyche myself up to call my Dad's nutritionist (Dad's kind of really into health, especially of the alternative variety). I just figured I'd get inspired one of these days.

And here's what happened today. I was in the shower, glumly observing the ravages of time and sloth, and said out loud, "maybe it's really time to get serious about this, and get back in shape." I toweled myself off, threw some gunk in my hair, and walked into the living room, where the tv was on.

And what did it say on the screen, in great big red letters? "IT'S TIME TO GET SERIOUS." As I goggled at this directive from the almighty box, the screen changed to say, "GET BACK IN SHAPE." Of course it was some ad for a cheesy, rip-off type of exercise thingy junkpile, but still.

Message received. I made the appointment with the damn nutritionist. Now quit freakin' me out.

17 July 2004

Time zone

I noticed the other day that I still have my alarm clock on my bedside table, even though it's not plugged in.   I unplugged it at the beginning of the summer, because I needed the outlet for my window fan.
There it sits, utterly unused.  In fact, it's filthy with dust.  I love that my alarm clock is visibly decaying from lack of use.  I'm going to keep it there until it collapses, until it crumbles.  I will be haunted by the ghost of my alarm clock, as it quietly drifts over my head in an unearthly greenish LED glow, feebly emitting vaguely remembered bleats and morning radio programs.  And I will laugh at this ghost, as I turn over in my bed and fall back asleep.

14 July 2004

Now batting, number 33

Today, my age becomes a palindrome.

My mother has already stopped by, bearing many books, a bookbag, and a card. She will be taking me out to dinner Friday night.

Today, Matt and I plan to play tourists, and indulge in mini golf, go-cart racing, and clam shack cuisine. And also tequila. And then a Cape League game.

Several years ago, when I was working as a cook, we had a sanitation guide on the wall that informed us about proper hand-washing technique. It advised us to be sure to scrub our hands for at least 40 seconds, or the time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday To Me" twice.

I asked my friends to please seek help immediately if they ever found me serenely laving my hands in the hand sink, serenading myself to "Happy Birthday."

Unless it was today.

12 July 2004

Green thumb

I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.

When we had our new septic system put in this past spring, the wee little backhoe they brought in crushed both of the yucca plants next to the driveway. I've never liked yucca plants much, but I was sorry to see them just run over and squashed like that.

Well, wonder of wonders, the damn things are throwing up young green shoots again, looking far healthier than they ever did before.

On the other hand, my stupid neighbor around the corner who bought perfectly good woodland and built his version of a dreamhouse on it (read: New jersey suburban nightmare with, I kid you not, lobster traps WITH PLASTIC RED LOBSTERS IN THEM on his front yard) waters his stupid fake yard every day with automatic sprinklers (thanks for noticing our tenuous watershed, asshead!) while his stupid PLASTIC LOBSTERS have slowly become albino lobsters by baking in the sun (we are all aware, are we not, that lobsters are NOT red when alive, and caught in traps? and only acheive that color when cooked and dead? good.)

Well, that guy also planted about 20 yucca plants along the border of his stupid ostentatious lawn last year, and they are all dead. Guess what? Yuccas like dry, sandy conditions. My yuccas got mowed over by heavy machinery, yet still they rise. He frivolously tosses water and nasty chemicals around, killing his.

Although they are still not my favorite plant, yuccas have earned my respect. If only because they are proving my theory of benign neglect coupled with compliance with native soil conditions as the best way to have thriving plants.

And really, I've got to do something about those awful lobster traps. A little nighttime guerrilla action may really be called for.

08 July 2004

Listing to port

So Brooks has done it, as have several of his friends. I felt at first like it would involve way too much work, but then I got all excited about some of the bands Brooks picked, and I also realized I had little else to do but snort more wine and crackers.

And then it turned into a very fun project.

And you will shortly see with what decade I have the most affinity/hipness.

Here follows my List of My 25 Favorite Songs. For an excellent explanation of the priorities in compiling this list, read Brooks'.

25. Tukka Yoot's Riddim -- Us3

24. Washing of the Water -- Peter Gabriel

23. Let's Stay Together -- Al Green

22. Mr Jones -- Talking Heads

21. Cocaine Blues -- Johnny Cash

20. Please Don't Bury Me -- John Prine

19. Nightswimming -- REM

18. Pictures of You -- Cure

17. Glory Box -- Portishead

16. Cure For Pain -- Morphine

15. Everybody Knows -- Leonard Cohen

14. That's How Strong My Love Is -- Taj Mahal

13. Start From Scratch -- Galactic

12. Temptation -- New Order

11. What is Hip? -- Tower of Power

10. Fools Gold -- Stone Roses

9. Fairytale of New York -- Pogues

8. Texas Flood -- Stevie Ray Vaughn

7. I'll Be Your Man -- Los Blancos

6. Exit Music (For a Film) -- Radiohead

5. Hesitation Blues -- Hot Tuna (Jorma Kaukonen)

4. Powderfinger -- Neil Young

3. Superstition -- Stevie Wonder

2. Use Me -- Bill Withers.

1. Space Oddity -- David Bowie.

I omitted any commentary on my choices, because once I started writing them, it turned out that each one was related to some great love, some great break-up, or some other long boring story.

After all, how else do we fall in love with songs?

Except for Bowie. He just rules.

07 July 2004


Ya know how sometimes you stand up and your head is all spinny and then your knees buckle and you're pretty sure the next move is flat on the floor? (And you haven't been drinking?) OK probably not flat on the floor, probably more likely crumpled in an awkward, chalk-outline-type position, through which you probably received an ugly gash on your forehead or a broken wrist or something.

And it starts happenning more regularly, and maybe soon it will happen while you're driving. And also, your brakes seem to be on the verge of failure these days anyway.

(Let me be clear that this hardly ever happens to me, and I'm clearly not a paranoid hypochondriac. When I told my doctor about this recently, she gave me one of those soft pitying looks, and said it was nothing to be alarmed about. The next week, she sent me a card, reminding me that it was nothing to be alarmed about. I'm not kidding, and yes, this behavior on her part alarms me.)

Around the time I turned thirty (not long ago, shut your jeer-hole) I started experiencing the spinny head thing, but it was a different spinny head thing. It usually happened when I was lying down, and would suddenly raise my head. And the worst part was, the room really did spin. Not like "I feel lightheaded," but like "objects seem to be moving rapidly around my head in a clockwise manner."

Yes, I had the presence of mind to notice it was clockwise. What?

I went on worrying about this for a few months, until it came time to get my hair cut. My supremely awesome haircutter (let's be real, my hair is in no way "styled") Tommy noticed my head swimming (did I suddenly look all wavy to him, to reflect how I felt?) as I tried to lift my head out of the hair-washing sink.

He was all nonchalant about it, saying that a lot of his customers get vertigo (aha! a diagnosis!), especially women around the age of thirty. Seems to be some sort of earwax build-up thing. He recommended I get some hippy to rectify the situation (by which he meant draw the wax out by "coning", but god I didn't want to type that. sorry).

So I did. And it went away. But maybe it just went away because I stopped being thirty and started being thirty-one. Maybe this is a heretofore unmentioned rite of passage that we should be celebrating, or writing crappy self-help books about, or at least marking with drunken festivities.

Because let's face it, the thirties are woefully bereft of celebratory milestones, especially after the highs of the late teens to early twenties (voting, college, drinking age, sexual adventures of particular note).

We could "reclaim the power" of the dizzyness as a natural life phase, like calling hot flashes "power surges." Find some color that hasn't already been used and design a ribbon pin for it. (plaid? paisley? houndstooth?)

Or maybe I should just find me another hippy with a beeswax cone and be done with it.

Fashion plate

We appear to be quite the neighborhood trendsetters. We got a new roof, the neighbors on both sides of us got new roofs. I started planting crap in the yard and mulching like I'd never mulched before (true, I hadn't -- I had previously maintained a mulch-free environment), ditto with the planting and the mulch on both sides.

Next, I think I'll start walking around in the front yard in my underwear. Just to test the theory. And that guy across the street is pretty hot. Maybe he'll be a lemming too.

04 July 2004

As so often happens...

I seem to have alienated certain readers because of my status as an active Yankees fan. I have always maintained that I am primarily a fan of Baseball... I have visited Cooperstown, on what my husband and I still consider one of our most romantic trips ever (I was awed and teary-eyed; definitely schedule six hours at least to tour the hall of fame. What an awesome place.) and I go to every Cape league game I can, encouraging the sport's future stars, and the preservation of a great tradition of high quality baseball on small, accessible, fog-shrouded fields on Cape Cod. In short, I love this game.

And no, I can't throw the ball to save my life.

So, given that I spend a fairly large percentage of my time watching baseball, reading about baseball, arguing about baseball, and occassionally dancing around the house in my underwear in uncontained glee at Yankee victories, I suppose it was inevitable that I come up with...

My Very Own Theory.

It's nothing groundbreaking, like sabermetrics, or beane-ball, or whatever. But I would like to check it out statistically nonetheless, and if possible, test it scientifically.

here it is.

ya know how a pitcher is about to get the last guy out of the inning? He's got at least an 0-2 count, maybe as much as a 3-2 count. This usually happens near the end of the game, or at least during a late rally by the opposing team.

Everyone in the stadium gets to their feet and cheers for that last strike (Matt says this phenomenon dates directly back to the pitching performances of Ron Guidry, the great starting pitcher for the Yankees in the late seventies/early eighties).

But it never happens on that pitch. When the crowd gets to its feet and cheers for the strike out, the next pitch is almost always down and in the dirt, outside, or whatever. But not a strike. Unless the guy swings at it. Which he hardly ever does.

So this raises some questions:

1. Does the pitcher simply get over excited by the crowd fervor, causing him to overthrow the next pitch?

2. If so, would it help (in home games) for the crowd to be all nonchalant about the 0-2 (or whatever-2) pitch, so as not to jinx the strike-out pitch?

3. Are hitters aware of this jinx, and therefore hold off on swinging at the "ovation pitch," knowing it will probably be a ball?

I want the Elias sports people on this, now.