Friday, August 31, 2007

Vacating in Costa Rica Until September 17th


1. Catch wave.
2. Sit on Top of World.
3. Eat a lot of ice cream

Monday, August 27, 2007

On My Inability to Love All of God's Creatures

Scene: 3:00am Sunday August 26, 2007. Brianna and Amy have just returned from an evening of comparatively sedate bachelorette partying, neither is particularly drunk nor debauched so their assessment of the following facts (including relative bug size) should be completely accurate. Each is clad in heels, blisters, and cleavage accenting tops; hardly the uniform that would be required for the impending species on species conflict that is about to ensue.

Thank god I have a paranoid habit of flipping on the light before entering a room. For, in the wee hours of Sunday morning, had I followed unlocking the door with stepping over the threshold into my apartment I’d have likely been eaten by the most gigantic bug in the world, the king of the Waterbugs* (See here but only if you are very brave). Those of you lucky enough to live in places where bugs have the good sense to remain small enough to shop in the junior’s department (Dear California, I MISS YOU!) probably did not know that the original Volkswagen Beetle was the hollowed out exoskeleton of a waterbug with a lawn mower engine under the wings. The specimen that greeted Amy and I yesterday morning had grander ambitions having recently applied as a contestant on America’s Next Top Overlord (Hilary is going down!). Frankly I was shocked that he could squeeze his immense girth into the relatively tight quarters of my stair landing.

Amy and I stood outside my door in the alcove between the outside world and the place where I keep my bed, secret stash of Jacques Torres Wicked bars and access to the internet; needless to say I was fairly motivated to end this stalemate. Sadly, I was not motivate enough to touch the bug, nor motivated enough to touch the bug with something that was also touching me and could, perhaps, result in bug cooties crawling through the object and onto my skin. This removed a lot of our options including stomping on the bug, hitting the bug with the snow shovel and (obviously) picking up the bug and humanly letting him back outside to live free (for 5 seconds before laughing out loud while stomping on him until his bug guts covered my porch serving as a warning to others of his kind). In a solo battle held on the same sight a year ago I solved this problem by dropping a copy of the New York City yellow pages on the bug and then jumping up and down on it for a few minutes (the phonebook and shoes combination serving as just enough protection from bug cooties), sadly, no 50lb phone books had been delivered in the past week.

Having ruled out hand to antenna combat I tried reasoning with the King. I pointed out that the light was on and his kind was notoriously light sensitive and that, for the sake of his own health, he should perhaps run away to someplace dark like inside the walls of my building or (EVEN BETTER) outside (Here, I’ll hold the door for you!). When this didn’t work Amy suggested giving the King a chance to think about things alone, perhaps we could go down the street to some other late night haunt while he chilled out and (hopefully) went back home to his sterile (again, hopefully) wife. Always a fan of “ignore the problem until it goes away” I might have implemented this plan if it weren’t 3am and I wasn’t tired and old -- hypothesizing that the King didn’t seem like a stair climber I suggested that we just jump over him and close the bedroom door particularly tight. An entire 8-10 hours in dreamland should give his highness plenty of cooling off time. Sadly, both Amy and I quickly realized that jumping over the huge bug was way too scary (especially after Amy recounted a story about seeing a similar bug FLY a few weeks before). I began to wonder if real estate brokers were typically available for new apartment searches at 3:00am.

It is at this point in the story that God reveals his deep love for either me or Amy (cue Amy taking full credit just because I openly mock god on a daily basis while she occasionally sees fit to half ass her way through lent.). As we’re hemming and hawing and considering sleeping on the porch the phone in my neighbor’s apartment (located on the first floor, right next to the stairs where Lord Insectious has taken up residence) rings and we hear him answer it. Downstairs neighbor is awake and because he’s a boy is legally bound to pretend that his favorite pastime ever is the killing of large bugs! I have never been more grateful to society for unrealistic gender stereotypes! Just when we’re devising plans to lure him outside with feminine whiles (“I CAN’T FIND MY PANTS AND THE DOOR IS LOCKED! HELP!) his door knob turns and out he comes. This neighbor is someone whom I have occasionally wished would move so that I could be rid of his late night drunken Cold Play sing-a-longs but no more! With nary a trace of knee shaking Mr. Neighbor donned a gardening glove, picked up the King and whisked him outside (I did not hear the happy music of bug guts being ground into concrete but I assume Mr. Neighbor fully executed his manly duties).

Yesterday, the kind lefties at NPR informed me that the common rumor about cockroaches taking over our post apocalyptic cities is, at least when it comes to Gotham, false. Turns out that without humans providing central heating the cockroaches would be unable to survive a winter in the north. And so I propose that we forgo heat for the coming winter, if we all bundle up and focus on the common goal of killing all of these disgusting beasts spring will bring not only the reopening of Shake Shack and the end to frostbite but also a future free of bugs big enough to ride the Cyclone. Cold tootsies seems a small price to pay.

*Thank you to Kajal’s husband Brett for pointing out that “waterbug” is NYC code for “huge ass huge cockroach.” Goodbye denial, I’ll miss you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Since I have yet to be invited on any cake testing adventures the sweetest byproduct of my brother’s engagement so far is his fiancĂ©’s adorable two year old, Delanie. I hate to get all sappy on this blog but there’s really no avoiding it considering the level of cute we’re dealing with. Cuddly-wuddly baby bunnies are jealous. There is talk of her own anime series. I have always loved kids. I googoo at babies in the super market and shamelessly spoil my friends children. I had thought my capacity for baby love had been maxed out but there is nothing like having a niece.

I wasn’t fully prepared to hear a two year old call my brother daddy. I could deal with watching him buying cases of diapers at Costco or having to go home around 8pm to tuck the little one in. I’m super proud of all of his fatherly actions (and, honestly touched to the point of teary but don’t tell anyone, I like to keep my tough girl image) but hearing the D word just about killed me. The problem with jumping into daddyhood with a two year old is that you don’t give people any adjustment time. With a newborn you have at least 6 month of adjustment before adulthood is cemented with the first cry of, “da-da,” but I had to go straight from “Kurt you can’t hold kittens by their head.” To “Kurt, your daughter is pooping, do something about that.” It’s a tough transition, especially when you can almost remember when daddy was in diapers. My week long visit was hardly sufficient time to mentally tag my brother as a Daddy (under D, right after Annoying before Doodyhead – I really need to update that list more often) but it only took an hour to stamp a big A is for Auntie on my own breast. Being an Aunt is almost as awesome as being a Grandparent and mom and I made a top notch baby sitting team (“Delianie, want some chocolate? I have a HUGE bar right here, gimmie a kiss and I’ll share!”).

As a kid I remember being annoyed with adults who cooed at me about how fast I was growing up – couldn’t they see that the journey from car seat to driver’s seat was taking FOREVER? Recently I turned into my enemy. On my visit home last week I had a chance to chat with Mom and Dad’s neighbor’s kids – you know, the ones I used to change diapers for; I was barely able to resist the pinching of cheeks. The oldest is a high school sophomore and was busy with football practice when he wasn’t busy shocking me with his baritone voice. The youngest and only girl is embarking on the adventure of seventh grade (I was barely able to resist telling her that life would get much much better if she could just stick out the next few years in hell). Needless to say, the growing up? Happening at an alarmingly quick pace. This seemly sudden transformation from child to man-child has me worried. Not just because I am reminded that my own transformation from hot young thing to crinkled old hag is in the works but because my new little niece is also on the fast track to adulthood. More than once last week I found myself in a bit of a panic about not seeing her again until Christmas when she will no longer be just two but will have catapulted into 2 and a quarter! Think of the words I’ll miss out on! Think of the climbing of water spouts by itsy bitsy spiders that I won’t get to sing about! (I know, I know… Think of the tantrums I won’t hear! Think of the diapers I won’t get to change!) When my mom brought up the open Sys Admin position at the hospital in town for the 500th time I almost jumped on it despite the job being located in the middle of nowhere and me having no actual job qualifications save, “Hey! Brianna does things with computers!” I hate to think about Miss Delanie growing up without me. I wonder if it’s possible to really know someone from 3000 miles away when you’re growing so fast and I defiantly want to know Delanie.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

But Who Will Warn Me About the Apocalypse?

Weekly World News magazine claims to be discontinuing the print version of their magazine. Of course this could, like all other information offered by the tabloid, be a lie (though it seems to be corroborated all over the net). I bought a copy of the most recent issue whose cover boasts, “The Very Best of WWN” and promises, “Duck Hunters Shoot Angel,” “Osama Captured by Rednecks,” “Elvis is Alive” (duh.) and “Space Alien Skull found at Rosewell”. It also promised me details on the magazine’s future but the only information offered was the following tiny block of text which appears on page 31 just below an article entitled, “Bellybutton Ringtones Latest Sensation.”

A Notice from Weekly World News

While we had every intention of sending the winning “Alien Ambassador Essay” contestant off to the stars, the aliens have insisted that the staff of Weekly World News spearhead this historic mission! As a result, until further notice, the print edition of the paper with be shutting down. Details next week.

I was especially distraught to learn of this tragedy as I have long been a fan of the only news source devoted primarily to Hilary Clinton’s affair with an alien, the return of famous people via resurrection or haunting and the crazy antics of Bat Boy. One weekend early in my senior year of high school some of my friends and I decided to spend a Saturday at the school decorating our lockers (you know, with all the cool kids...). On the prescribed morning we each showed up with contact paper, scissors, glue sticks and piles of magazines. (Actually, I had a folder of magazine cut outs because I’m a good planner.) The other girls had the traditional teenage stash – a few cosmo’s, a couple of seventeens, etc. I had a year’s worth of headlines from Weekly World News. I remember running into my 9th grade English teacher while pasting up a headline about werewolves finally developing immunity to silver bullets. I explained to her that the magazine was hilarious and would be make for interesting locker chat all year (surprisingly, most of this chat went on at other lockers and was the "about you not to you" variety.). There wasn’t any obvious backing away slowly but her husband is a chiropractor and the whole family is Mormon so it’s possible she considered Weekly World News a reputable information source.

In honor of the (possible) death of the most creative magazine ever published I present, The 3 best things about the most recent, and likely second to last, issue of Weekly World News:

  1. The “Jesus’ Lost Words of Wisdom Found” article about secret biblical scrolls on page 4 is 5 paragraphs long yet the “Redneck Vampire Terrifies Alabama” storey spans 3 pages. Priorities.
  2. The photographs accompanying the “Princess Di is Alive!” piece make it clear that Di’s life is owed to a creative plastic surgeon who was able to reattach her head to the body of a young swimsuit model (may she rest in peace) using krazy glue and Photoshop
  3. According to the “Unusual Hang-up Lead to Internet Log-On” article on pages 36 and 37 we are all getting ripped off paying for internet access, “the combination of net stockings, the [clothes] line and the metal pulley created a rudimentary modem… as long as she left it there, she’d probably get free internet access.” (Please leave a comment if you’re reading this blog using such a device!).

Monday, August 13, 2007

Candy Land

I have been avoiding reading Candy Freak for at least a year and a half out of fear that an entire book homage to chocolate and corn syrup might have calories embedded in the pages which would crawl into my body via the pores in my finger tips and cause me to gain roughly 250lbs by the time I reached page 73. Or (more likely) my will power would be no match for Steve Almond's passion and I'd have to set up a sleeping bag at the foot of the candy rack of my local 24 hour bodega. Either way the book seemed dangerous enough to put off digesting it until a recent trip had me stuck on an airplane and then locked away in the mountains at least 90 minutes from the nearest Hershey bar.

Unlike Almond, I have no right to blog about chocolate candy, we all know that were I to drown my sorrows in sugar and fat you'd find my bloated body bobbing in a lake of half melted Ben and Jerry's. As a kid I often claimed to hate chocolate -- unsurprisingly this was an exaggeration (something I've been prone to since well before the inception of this blog) as I was perfectly capable of wolfing down handful of See's caramels and thin mint cookies both of which were enrobed in my supposed arch nemesis. I do however, remember bemoaning the over abundance of chips in chocolate chip cookies and wondering why no one made a chipless version. Luckily, I've gotten over this ridiculousness and now keep an emergency supply of chocolate in my desk at work and the pantry cupboard at home. As is the case with most of my paranoid stock piles of emergency food much of the chocolate goes to waste waiting for a rainy day downpour that never comes but I'm comforted by its presence.

Almond would likely scoff at my candy bar snobbery -- virtually everything I buy is European and dark and occasionally (when my liberal guilt is boiling over) organic and fair trade. My go to candy is Ritter Sport bars in hazelnut, corn flake or biscuit (note to Ritter Sport president who totally reads my blog: make the biscuit and the corn flake versions in dark chocolate please) but if forced into a mass market candy bar decision I'll usually go Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Twix or KitKat. I eat all of these from top to bottom, first peeling away the chocolate top soil to reveal the candy strata beneath. KitKats are the most satisfying to eat, on a good day I can peel away each layers of waffer and scratch off the chocolate goo with my front teeth until I have just the final bottom coat of chocolate melting in my hand.

I love to taste new things so Almond's chapters devoted to small regional candy companies had me salivating and making plans for a gluttonous cross country candy feast. I must try the GooGoo Clusters (Steve didn't mention there was peanut butter version -- I may need to schedule a trip to the south for tomorrow afternoon) and the snob in me can't believe she's lived this long without experiencing Five Star Bars. In the spirit of this book I've decided to bestow upon you, dear readers, a couple of candy reviews of my own.

First up is the Yorkie which I bought mostly because it was taunting me with its tag line, "Not for Girls," what self respecting feminist could resist? I have to assume that the Yorkie has a secret ingredient that reacts with testosterone to create a taste that would not be described as "waxy," "kind of off" and "gross." which are the words this estrogen machine immediately turned to upon first bite. Upon further reflection on the plain gritty low quality milk chocolate I was forced to consider the possibility that the Yorkie contains actual Yorkies.

While the Yorkie called to me as a challenge the Reese's Peanut Butter and Banana Creme (aka the Elvis) spoke directly to my pallet. I have always loved Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with their shockingly sweet jolt of peanutty goodness and in many moments of midnight snacking I have been known to spread peanut butter directly onto a banana and moan orgasmically so the limited edition candy seemed like a brilliant and much overdue idea. The modified peanut butter cups tasted exactly as billed -- the banana flavoring was authentic enough to make it easy to pretend that an actual banana has been hurt in the making of this candy and the flavor melded nicely with the peanut and chocolate. But... I kind of wanted my regular Reese's back. This taste test made it clear that my love for peanut butter cups is more about nostalgia then taste. As much as I thrive on new taste sensations in my heart I am still American and like the majority of Hershey's customer base, and like Steve Almond, I crave the candy that comforted me as a child and my tongue is ready to rebel against any veering from the expected Reese's path.

So I cannot recommend either of the new candy bars I tried but I heartily recommend Candy Freak. In addition to being a fascinating walk through our collective candy history it's also a touching glimpse into Steve Almond's particular kind of freak. I suspect that many readers may be annoyed by his tangents into noncandy related personal antidote but I was charmed. Steve, when you read this please don't be overwhelmed by my fame, leave a comment, fly to New York, no need to bring clothing.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Untamed Melody

I can’t sing – which doesn’t stop me from belting into song in the shower or while driving or, sometimes, when I’m really distracted, on the subway – but I generally try to spare people the pain of my weak harmonizing. Most of the time, even midsong, I know that I am not a beautiful princess with a honey soaked voice, but for one semester during my junior year in college I decided that despite my low lung capacity and general tone deafedness I would probably make an awesome songstress if only I had the right instructor. So, I signed up for the free voice lessons offered by the school (actually, the lessons probably cost extra tuition so mom and dad likely paid for this little dalliance…god I miss college). My instructor was not used to teaching people who sucked at singing and it was clear from day one that the 30 minutes I spent in the studio twice a week were costing Ms Melody hundreds of dollars in cotton balls and mercurochrome for her bleeding ears. All of her other students were members (or at least aspiring members) of the college’s much esteemed choral singing group, none of them ever considered using the excuse that they only signed up for voice lessons in hopes of helping their asthma.

The first (and only) song that I was assigned was a sticky sweet number from some musical about love and rainbows and cute little birdies. Just now I tried very hard to remember the name of this masterpiece, I even turned off my whiney indie pop background music and concentrated with my eyes closed but once again my subconscious has seen fit to protect me by blocking a painful memory. Thank you evolution. Even at my least cynical my unique version of this song was tainted with the jagged edge of restrained eye rolling, this coupled with my general lack of musical talent made for a very strained biweekly class. Out of embarrassment, my instructor allowed me to skip the midterm concert but she was less kind when it came to finals. I assume that forcing me to perform my off key version of a love serenade in front of a large group of semi professional singers was my instructor’s way of seeking vengeance for her damaged ear drums and, lucky for her, it also served as all the reason I needed to drop out of voice lessons.

These days my only public singing opportunity (mumbling morning subway performances excepted) is the occasional booze fueled karaoke party. Luckily, in addition to the low standards usually offered by a drunk audience karaoke is more about selling a song than singing it well – if the performer picks the right song and performs with enough bravado singing can almost be entirely avoided. After much anguished flipping through karaoke bar song binders I have determined that karaoke for the nonsinger is best represented by country songs from the 1970s. I sometimes choose “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia” because it’s about a bad ass young lady murdering the guy who wronged her brother (though, as is too often the case with murder, things do not go as planned) or if a duet is possible, “You’re the Reason our Kids are Ugly” because drunks don’t have a very sophisticated sense of humor. But the best karaoke song in the world is “Fancy” by Reba Mcintyre.

The song is ostensibly about a girl whose mother turns her out as a prostitute when the family becomes too poor to support themselves. That description makes the song sound depressing but it’s surprisingly upbeat – I know that prostitution has a lot of critics but project management has yet to make me a lady or supply me with a New York townhouse flat. It’s a great tune but one winter day a few years ago while making the desolate drive through the Sierra Nevada mountains from San Francisco to Bishop California I discovered a way to improve upon this small twangy bit of perfection. Now, I want you to take a look at the lyrics but when you do think of the protagonist as a boy. A young, pretty gay boy with lonely soulful eyes and really cute ass.

SEE?!?! Mom dresses him up as a drag queen, sends out to turn tricks with closeted rich gay men, life is hard at first but soon the eyes and the ass start doing their job and BAM mansion and fancy apartment! Take that capitalist homophobic sex hating world!

That mountain drive I mentioned above is 8 hours of lonely road with very little distracting and no cell phone reception so I had little choice but to listen to “Fancy” roughly 35 times while choreographing the best drag act ever. Picture it… Spot on effeminate man standing Center Right wearing a short red silk robe loosely tied in the front, a dressing table and full length mirror can just be made out to his left. As he starts to sing he sits at the dressing table and with make up and falsies and a luscious red wig slowly transforms himself into a slightly trashy but still smoking hot piece of woman. The song and the outfit build until he’s decked in a red sequined mini dress, gold stilettos and vampy red lipstick, “I might have been born just plain white trash but Fancy was my name!”

If only I had a penis.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Mayor Bloomberg reports for jury duty


I hope they offer free wifi in the Manhattan Court System so that you can review my tips for getting out of this mess. I realize that it may be difficult for you to finagle your way out of this all too painful civic duty considering that doing so may negatively effect your presidential aspirations (come on, we all know you wanna stick it to Hillary and McCain, get out there and ruin the election for everyone!). I think it's clear that mocking the justice system would be too dangerous for you so I've put together a few Mike specific ways to duck out.

  1. "I'm a Democrat! Just kidding, I'm a Republican!" Clearly your decision making abilities are not up to the high standards of our justice system.
  2. Encourage lawyers to hold out for more titillating jury members: "Other high-profile New Yorkers who have been called to serve over the years include Spike Lee, Woody Allen, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick, Barbara Walters, Conan O'Brien, news anchor Ann Curry, singer Roseanne Cash, sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer."
  3. Court House not on express train route and does not offer sufficient parking for your huge fleet of SUVs.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Last Meal

I saw this post yesterday and was, of course, shocked that no one had contacted me. Am I not a foodie? Am I not in danger of being taken out and shot by multiple parties (Sandra Lee?, at least 2 lawyers?, a former Animal, a couple of Magni and 2 Swedish songstresses?)? Am I not VERY FAMOUS?!?!?!

Screw you Chew on This jerks! (just kidding, you seem very nice...)

I refuse to be censored by the man so in defiance I now present THE BEST LAST MEAL EVER (because eating all of it will cause a heart attack on the spot thus thwarting my enemy's plans to assassinate me.)

Appetizer: Lobster salad like I once had at Corduroy in DC. It's really just chunks of lobster with some cucumber and tomato but what else do you need?
Salad: Purple Cherokee heirloom tomato salad with fresh basil, syrupy aged balsamic and good olive oil
Soup: Mom's creamy potato leek with lots of pepper
Main: Ossobuco served over saffron risotto (exactly as described on wikipedia) and an artichoke with lots of melted herb butter for dipping.
Cheese: Very stinky aged blue cheese with the truffle honey that they serve at Otto served with a really crisp and tart granny smith apple and a sour dough baguette
Dessert: brownie sundae (the brownie has to be have a really crinkly top) with a chocolate peanut butter ice cream, a mint chip ice cream and a banana ice cream with a caramel swirl, hot fudge, piles of homemade whipped cream toasted pecans, homemade boozey maraschino cherry.

While I'm tempted to choose a separate alcoholic beverage for each course (perhaps Sandra Lee has inspired me after all) I'll settle for having everything served with champagne.

This exercise was ridiculously painful not only because there are just too many food stuffs out there to love (I think it's clear that before partaking in the last meal described above I will need to either schedule a few strategically placed bulimia breaks or magically turn into a ruminant (the roomy extra stomach almost makes up for the cud chewing!)) but also because I got obsessed with making a meal that worked together. I really wanted to include hand made corn tortillas and my uncle's shakshuka and while tortillas could be paired with margaritas (rocks, lots of salt) and the shakshuka could have been followed up with my aunt's chicken couscous neither option would go well with the blue cheese and truffle honey which I wasn't willing to compromise on. I should have specified in my execution contract that I need at least a week of extravagant last meals. There was also the issue of time of year -- if I'm being offed in August I might actually go for the Mexican meal or course after course of spicy cold thai dishes washed down with coconut juice but for a January death I need to pack on some home made mac and cheese and grandma's chicken soup with egg noodles.

Don't even get me started on what I'll be wearing....