Friday, October 09, 2009

Bottom? Needs Work!

My job involves sometimes watching a lot of preroll video advertisements. these ads appear right before the games I maintain on a website that shall remain nameless. Unfortunately the site runs about 3 ads at a time so if I have to play a game say 10 times a day I'm see the same ads over and over again and then I have way too much time to think... Right now this is one of the ads we're running:


To summarize for those of you too lazy to watch that stellar commercial: Baby Bear comes out of bathroom (one assumes this is a thicket). Mama Bear checks that he washed his hands and brushed his teeth (Are you supposed to brush your teeth after doing business in the thicket? I had no idea. ok, whatever). And then Mama Bear checks his butt (As someone who has taken a 3 year old to the potty I recognize that this is a necessary duty that reminds one that love will make you do anything, even look for stray dingleberries on a kid's ass. The world is a beautiful place.). And then Mama Bear's all, "No way my little bear friend, you have pieces of toilet paper stuck all over your furry ass! go back and clean them off!" And this is the selling point for the toilet paper. "This toilet paper will totally not get stuck on your ass!" People, is this a problem that you have? Are you ever caught thinking life would be so sweet if only you could count on wiping your ass and not having it riddled with pieces of paper fluff? I do not have this issue. Do I have an especially nonadhesive tuckus? Is this a gene I should be thanking my mom for or did she just really kick ass when she trained me to wipe my butt?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Etsy + Twilight = Profit

Let me start by saying, F-you blogger formatting. Sorry this post looks like crap, I did everything I could.

Unlike the hordes of haters out there I embrace my love for the truly trashy Twilight franchise (also being embraced: my love for alliteration). I read all of the books (albeit with a bit of cynical eye rolling), I blogged about them once, and I very much look forward to sneaking booze into the New Moon movie (because the first movie should have received some sort of special comedy recognition at the Oscars). But none of this means that I do not see the inherent humor in the craziness of the Twilight industry.

Inspired by Regretsy and Amy, who dared me to look up Twilight on Etsy, I bring you the best (aka worst) of the 706 (!!) pages of Twilight themed goodies up for sale at the internet's favorite craft fair.

Timberlake is such a fucking copy cat.

Deodorant? OF COURSE ("my vampire boyfriend gets me all hot and then I sweat and then I stink... or I *would* if it weren't for my awesome Twilight deodorant."). And it's vegan (DOUBLE of course!) cause I may be ok with drinking human blood but I also love animals so much that I consider eating honey blasphemous.

There are a lot of artists (?) on Etsy using the business model "Twilight quote + crap I made = PROFIT." Part of me thinks this is brilliant and that I need to start creating my own brand of Stephanie Meyer potholders or toilet paper or golf tees but I'd like to think that not every teenage girl is will to wear a necklace proclaiming their stupidity. I mean wouldn't this shit get you beat up?

This "artist" didn't bother to do anything other than scribble on a Kmart bag with a Sharpie -- She's probably already swimming in greenbacks.

I'm pretty sure it is not safe for 14 year old girls to wear anything this woman sells.

From the description:
This cute little puff ball comes to you from trees right in your backyard. Some loose there balance and fall out seeking human life... The one you are looking at is named Edward. He's a vegetarian vampire, can't you tell by his amber eyes.

Not technically Twilight themed just awesome.

7. Twilight Brings the Creepy Again (no surprise here)

Um. Ew. The tongue and just... gah. No need for that watermark, I'm pretty sure the only people who want to steal this are sex offenders looking for style tips.

8. Twilight Brings the.... Yarn?

From the description:
This batt is hand-dyed merino wool, luscious white bamboo, some hand-dyed nylon, and angelina for sparkle! It is the softest batt I have ever carded. The colorway represents Jasper Hale, the former Confederate general in the Twilight series.


9. Twilight Brings the Half Assed Attempts at Art

Step 1: Rip page out of book
Step 2: Paste to block of wood
Step 3: Sequins+masking tape

Step 4: Collect $2

10. Twilight Brings the Holiday Cheer

Lastly, I am happy to report that Christmas shopping for G is TOTALLY DONE.

If only I could decide which gift he'd like best....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Then Again I Don't Seem *That* F-ed Up

Lately you hear a lot fist clenching and concerned look-making over the topic of just how badly the children of mommy bloggers will need therapy. The theory goes that once 4 year old Blog Fodder Jr. grows into 14 year old Googling Alldaylong he will find mommy's little online journal where his every goo and poo was documented and commented on by the mothers of half the population of his freshman class and the mere thought that Ms. Nextdoor has heard about the stinky green turds he layed down from ages 1-3 will cause our good teenager's head to explode. The end.

I have never been capable of taking this tsk-tsking very seriously since I choose to document my own goo-ing and poo-ing for all to read and look! I'm totally fine! (seriously.). But today as I tried to make sense of this story over on The Sneeze where his kid runs around "drive-by anusing" his parents I finally felt a little sympathy for our perhaps over loved tots because for some reason this story reminded me of a little story of my own....

*cue wavey screen effect signalling blast from the past*

When I was really young -- probably from age 2-4 we had a family, we'll call them The Yothers, living in the house located pretty much in our backyard. I have little recollection of these years which is unfortunate because the older sister of the Yother clan turned out to be much more popular than me in high school and if only I'd had some good blackmail material ages 15-18 may have been smoother. But alas.

Periodically throughout my later child years (say 8-18) my family would run into Mr. Yothers, the dad of the family, and he would of course take every opportunity to reminisce about when they lived in our back yard. This might not have been so terrible except for that fact that his only memory from that time period if of me at age 3ish coming out of the house to tell my dad that I had pooped my pants. For Alex this is the best and most hilarious story ever told. For Brianna not so much. In fact I distinctly remember dying on at least 47 different occasions, death by poop story embarrassment is not pleasant.

A horrible tale, no? Now picture that little nightmare repeated over and over only this time everyone you know can access the play by play of your greatest pooping hits. They can print out a poop score card and plaster the school with it. They can do dramatic readings at open mike nights. Frankly I doubt these kids will live past age 12.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Turns Out I'm an Awful Human Being/Daemon From Hell

Last Friday was a much appriciated random day off from work so G and I took advantage by finally getting around to visiting Governer's Island. We strolled through colonial homes, admired the Manhattan skyline juxtaposed against a little New England town, saw some art, picnic-ed on some fabulous cheese and generally had a wonderful time but this post is not about any of that. This post is about G and I being awful people who deserve a painful and embarrassing death by tragic disease or at least to be yelled at really loudly in front of our peers.

Everyone visiting Governer's Island rents bikes. This allows New Yorkers to feel very European (which is also why we love things like socialized healthcare and organic produce -- I expect very short shorts on men and a refusal to shave one's pits to make a splashing debut at the next Fashion Week). There is only one bike provider on GI and the line morphs from a trickle to a torrent whenever the ferry docks but when G and I popped over to rent bikes 15mins before the next ferry docking we waited all of 5 mins (consider this post's one Governer's Island tip). Sadly, the system for returning bikes was far more painful due to some combination of very slow credit card machines, a lack of bike rental employees and the fact that as horrible people we are very impatient and (spoiler alert!) as daemon's from hell we scorn the bright cleansing rays of the sun. The line for bike returns stretched a good 20 minutes down the prestine tree lined block.

We waited and waited and finally day turned to night, the seasons changed, man walked on the surface of Mars, etc and G and I were 3rd from the front of the line and could almost taste the post biking margaritas that we'd promised ourselves. And then a random older lady (55ish? maybe 60?) walked up and emitted a huge huff and with a glance at her watch, another glance at the snaking queue of people as far as the eye could see, and a mean shake of her head muttered to herself, "What time is it? Is this the line!?!?" and then... she got right in front of us and scooted into the edge of the line! G and I exchanged raised eyebrows and waited... Just as the line was about to move G took the initiative and casually joke, "Ma'am I hope you're not planning on staying there." She turned around and again with her trademark huff whined, "oh come on, give me a break, I'm an old lady!" A lady so old that apparently senility had set in and caused her to forget everything she learned in Kindergarten (aka all anyone needs to know!). I can only guess that she has no recollection of the deliciousness of PB&J, the joys of playing kissy girls, or her ABCs but I can testify without a doubt that she totally does not remember the rules associated with butting in line and how it might result in another kid crying to the teacher and/or kicking you in the balls. How sad for all of us (mostly for G and I). I responded to her claims that old ladies don't do lines as nicely as I could, "yes, but it's a really long line and we all waited." At which point she upped the ante -- "I have a disability!" And here is where G earns all of my love and respect even if he's a little embarrassed at the words that crossed his lips, "That's an interesting disability -- riding bikes around an island for 2 hours? Totally fine! Standing in line? No way!" This produced shock and a look of complete scorn which caused G to back down a bit and apologize for pushing things too far (which I maintain he didn't do because she did just bike her not-really-that-old ass around and island! So GOOD POINT G!). As many readers may have realized we were now snowballing out of control down Mount Grumpy Old Lady.

Brianna: No!
MGOL: Just let me go in front of you! I don't feel good.
G: Why don't you ask the nice people behind us if you can cut in line in front of them?

And with another huff -- she transformed into Poor Widdle Old Lady. Over our shoulders we heard the following:

PWOL(voice suddenly quiet and raspy): Excuse me, I have cancer and I'm very ill and I was wondering if I could please go ahead of you in line. I nicely asked these people in front of you but I guess they don't care about senior citizens with cancer. Also, I think that they are deamons brought upon us from hell itself. I wouldn't get too close, occasionally plumes of sulfur shoot out from their eyes.
Good Summaritan/Evil Harpy from Long Island: OF COURSE!!! My mother had cancer last year! Please, go ahead. I can't believe how rude some people/daemons are!

That's us! The rude daemons from hell! Should it be at all shocking that daemons are rude? Has this woman never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Daemons are always crashing parties and biting people and generally pooping all over social decorum.

(Note: the author has taken a few liberties with the actual quotes used above. Changes may include but are not limited to: the addition of all caps, the use of somewhat unkind nicknames and the claim that anyone called the author or her boyfriend a daemon. These changes have all been made to better represent the intention of the speakers whose general attitudes can best be described as super crazy ridiculous. Rest assured that the author is now reigning it in and pretty much everything from here on happened in real life even though it also seems totally insane.)


Silly lady, we're DAEMONS! Not even your regular old demons but the kind with a random a at the beginning! Do you not understand how evil we are? Be glad we didn't rip that woman's cancer wig off and defile it with our throbbing daemon genitalia!

Through this diatribe G and I stood quietly staring straight ahead not talking and generally trying to melt into the asphalt. Not because we were embarrassed and feeling bad about not letting Our Lady of Cancer butt her ass in line (Be serious! We made the total right call on that one! Also, we're evil daemons so feelings of guilt are somewhat beyond our limited emotional abilities.) but because neither of us is very good with people yelling. I contemplated pointing out that everyone could go ahead an claim they had "cancer of standing in line" willy nilly without proof and then where would be be? Or that I totally had a friend who got cancer at 27 (aka way younger then you and therefore TOTALLY MORE TRAGIC) and that I was so helpful that I pretty much received an honorary membership in the cancer survivor brigade. Or that using a disease as an excuse to butt in line is practically asking God to smite your ass with even worse cancer in the future. But I held my tongue least I actually breathed fire at them.

In conclusion I must report after this little fiasco the margaritas were more then just delicious.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Don't Feel Like Runnin' No Sir No Runnin' Today

A couple of weeks ago I was reading dooce's account of giving birth to her second child (be warned all who click here for there be vaginas) in which she mentions that the last 12 minutes of labor were the worst and that 12 minutes doesn't seem like that long of a period of time but that it totally felt like forever. I could immediately sympathize because I have recently confirmed that 12 minutes is an eternity specifically if you spend that 12 minutes running (or, apparently pushing a child through your loins, something I have not done but which sounds almost as painful as putting foot in front of foot in front of foot at a 10 min/mile pace).

It turns out I'm not so good at running. This is no surprise having been a remedial runner since developing asthma in junior high mostly to avoid the mandated 10 minute mile tests, but it was a bit discouraging. I had kind of hoped that losing 30lbs and spending some time at the gym might have somehow turned me into a running savant or at least a somewhat mediocre but totally passable runner. No such luck. Yet.

The running thing was actually going OK for a while there. After work I'd head over to the gym and do my prescribed Couch to 5K run on the treadmill while listening to Dan Savage rant about all things moist and tantalizing. There were plenty of days when running felt only slightly more fun then being waterboarded but despite the constant messages from my feet, legs, heart, lungs, etc warning that I was killing them I managed to finish all of the runs up through week 7 and was feeling mighty proud of running 25 minutes straight.

Then a couple of things happened. Firstly, I decided to try running more outside -- after all I live near a very nice park and the 5K I was targeting in October certainly would not be run on a treadmill. All of the runners I knew swore that running outside was the super bestest thing ever that I'd feel so good and run so much faster and love love love it so much. Right. Actually running outside was great at first -- and by at first I mean for the first half of the first run when I was whizzing around the park rocking out to I Don't Feel Like Dancin by the Sissor Sisters and feeling light on my feet and speedy. That lasted right up until minute 9 when I lied down on the pavement and died because apparently outside+rocking tunes+running like the wind can be sustained for exactly that long before my whole body revolts.

Then things really started to go downhill. I was sent out of town on a week long business trip where the hotel gym was a sad little room in the basement which couldn't compete with walking around beautiful downtown Seattle. Then I went on vacation to California where it was routinely 97 degrees and where I did go on a 12 mile death march of a hike with my family but did no running.

And now I'm back and summer has finally arrived in New York City so I'm pushing myself to run in 85 degrees and air just wringing with water and... it's hard. I'm finally back up to 20mins straight without any walking but man am I dying for it.

I can run about 5 minutes before I have to start bargaining with myself. I make promises of brief stops at the water fountain, I do math in my head comparing the remaining time to the length of TV programs, movies, airline flights, etc in an attempt to trick myself into believing that the time will just fly on by no problemo ( "Only 15mins left! That's only a quarter of one True Blood episode, that's NOTHING! AND that's only 68% of your average 22 minute TV program-- just imagine if you were watching The Soup right now? You'd wish it was longer!"). I keep waiting for the time when running comes easy enough that I'm distracted for whole stretches of time not noticing the pounding of my heart, the aching of my calves, the constant complaining of my thoughts. I've been telling myself that it's good to do things that are hard, that it will feel so great to run that 5K, that even if 20mins of running doesn't sound like a very long time very few people are actually out there running anything at all. I'm not sure any of these pep talks are working -- it's a good thing I really hate being a quitter.

And yet I still dread the 5K. I fear that not being able to run the whole thing will be a sign that I am meant to be fat -- that today it's walking part of a race and tomorrow I weigh 500lbs. I fear that all of my really awesome supportive runner friends will be fake clapping for me at the end of the race when I finally drag my ass over the finish line eons after them. I fear that my ass will be drug over long after my friend who will be 6 months pregnant has pranced over it, gotten some water, stretched, yawned and decided to run back down the route to find me. Hopefully she won't have to carry me but I can't make any promises.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

On the Inadequacies of Sending and Receiving Mail in NYC (aka Please Mister Postman, seriously, PLEASE)

One of the burdens of living in New York City is the responsibility one feels to comfort non NYC dwellers who insist that I live in a very very scary place. On a recent trip to the heartland it occurred to me that even worse then living in New York City (where at least they have all of those fabulous musicals) is living in Brooklyn. Inside the city limits of the Big Apple, Brooklyn means baby carriages, composting and jamming with your band but everywhere else it means the mob, knife fights and really annoying accents. And as I discovered in May while visiting an old folks home in Wisconsin, no one's grandma wants them living in a dump like that. My own Grandma and Grandpa along with all of their senior friends feared the crime, the grime, the subway, etc -- but strangely no one ever seems to bring up the truly horrifying things like the supermarkets and the mail. If only they knew.

When I moved to New York almost five years ago the first challenge was figuring out my address. It seemed that somehow I was living in as many as 4 different cities at one time. I thought I had moved to Astoria, but my mail came to Long Island City. And somehow I also lived in Queens. And also in New York City. This confusion stems primarily from the borough system which totally makes sense *in theory* but in actuality still confuses me even after almost 5 years in the city. Basically, it seems that in order to make all of the boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island) part of one big megacity this weird borough thing had to be invented. It turns out that my mail would be delivered to me if addressed to any the 4 places listed above. I assume that the postal system hates New York City for this selfish deviation from the "works for everyone else" system and that the pains I detail in the coming paragraphs are the direct result of retaliation from postal employees. Honestly, I can hardly blame them.

Once I got settled in I had a few letters to send a few bills to pay. I stuck these in the mail box outside of my house on my way to work -- there was no flag to put up but I figured the mail carrier probably knew the deal, "oh, new envelopes with uncanceled stamps, this is outgoing!" Yet every night I would come home to a mail box stuffed with delivery menus, new bills, 5 copies of the Victoria's Secret catalog (Obama should look into putting those mofos on the finding Bin Laudin task force they can track down anyone) and all of the outgoing mail that I'd left in the box that morning. Curious. I quickly concluded that I had a lazy bastard for a mailman and resolved to schlep all of my outgoing mail to the office until some Saturday when I could confront the man in blue at my door. Luckily my chance never came because I soon found out that in New York City mail carriers do not pick up outgoing mail. So actually ALL mail carriers in New York City are lazy bastards. At least I wasn't being singled out. Much Googling has been spent trying to get to the bottom of how it came to be that NYC mailmen won't pick up the netflix return envelope and my rent check all to no avail. I did discover that mailmen also don't pick up in Canada so I have to assume that this is just one more way that the liberals in NYC are trying to turn us all commie. Normally I drink the blue koolaid and support all efforts to bring the socialism but here I must protest, Canada obviously knows nothing about how badly I need to avoid walking 3 blocks to the mailbox (you'd think a country that is normally covered in snow could relate).

I really adore getting packages (queue, "I've got a package you might like little lady..."), so much so that I might occasionally order something online just to have the thrill of looking forward to receiving a package in the mail. This small joy has almost been beaten out of me by the mail system in NYC. I've determined that if you ask for something to be delivered to your house there is really only a 1 in 3 chance that you'll ever receive it. This statistic varies little from mail system to mail system. USPS, UPS, FEDEx, they're all equally f-ed up.

Typically, this is how things go down. I place an order for say a really cute dress by Penguin that I've somehow managed to score for $40 and then I begin obsessively reloading the order info page until I crash online store. Eventually the web services team is called in, stability is restored and my order goes from "processing" to "shipped." And then I start praying that the package will actually show up at my house -- oddly, god rarely intervenes on my behalf.

Things that might happen in place of coming home to the joy of ripping open cardboard:

  • Your mailman may decide that he doesn't feel like carrying a package all the way to your door so instead he'll just leave a "we were here but you weren't home" note the gist of which is "haul your ass down to the central processing center if you ever want to see that beautiful necklace you ordered off of Etsy." Note that actually being home when the mailman stops by to drop off this note will in no way ensure that you avoid this outcome.

  • Your mailman may decide for no apparent reason that the same stoop that he happily left packages on just last week is suddenly VERY UNSAFE (perhaps my grandma called him) and that he could not possibly leave packages here where the gangsters might pounce on them (gangsters love nothing more than an Amazon box full of trashy vampire liturature! Except heroin.). No amount of pleading notes left for the mailman saying "seriously, it's COOL! Leave the package right here!" will be at all effective and again your presence will be requested in central processing land (Do you think the subway goes there? No, it does not.)

  • Your mailman may decide to not even attempt delivery but to instead just claim he tried to deliver the package but that you said "please, no, do not bring it to my house, I would love to travel down to central processing and pick it up myself, i love a good walk through the projects."

The irony that I can get someone to bring a Vietnamese sandwich or an order of ceviche to my house at 1am but is beyond my reach is not lost on me.

The US Postal service recently raised the price of a first class stamp for about the 13th time this week and I can only assume that all of these extra funds will be directed to the vast pool of resources that they dedicate to coming up with new ways to screw NYC and as I said before -- I get it. But Please Mister Postman, Mister Fedex, Mrs. UPS -- do not continue to punish the good citizens of NYC for the selfish decisions of our forfathers, they had no idea that they were thwarting an organization that would go on to pretty much patent the act of going crazy and shooting all of your coworkers.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Adventures in Dining Part 2

part 1 is back here

Despite my fears of being Gordon Ramsey-ed I returned to the domain of A Razor a Shiny Knife the next afternoon to assist with dinner prep -- this time without G who (wisely, perhaps) choose to spend his Saturday at his job where they pay him in money rather than at an empty condo in Williamsburg where compensation is offered in the form of eye rolls and deep sighs of disapproval. Oh, and really yummy food.

When I arrived at 3:45pm lunch service was still in full swing. I felt lucky to secure a job drying dishes which I was 75% sure I could execute well enough to at least fly below the radar of our host. Dish drying proved to be a wonderful job because in addition to avoiding commentary on my screw ups it also afforded me the opportunity to make a good buddy in my dish drying companion, Paul. Even better lunch was still being served and occasionally someone would come by with an extra plate of food for us to nosh on (oh crispy fried soft shell crabs and raw asparagus salad with poached egg how I have loved you).

After a few hours on dish duty I started to feel the rhythm of the kitchen and, perhaps because I paid my newbie dues with the dish rag, the rest of the kitchen staff/paying guests suddenly seemed nicer. Eventually I grew brave enough to venture back onto the line to tackle the peaches destined for dessert. When G arrived at 6:30 (in theory only 30mins from the sweet reward of our yummy 8 course meal) he was put to work chopping strawberries. I was also put on marshmallow making duty which ended in marshmallow syrup which we tried in vain to turn into frozen marshmallow candy. Somehow despite the obvious failure of this dish I manage to escape any chef wrath. I was feeling much more like part of a team.

We sat down late for dinner at 8:45 (posted dinner time was 7pm) and because of a somewhat OCD need to pull off this whole affair in exactly 24 hours we were asked to forgive the rushed serving of the courses. I appreciate a good attempt at doing the crazy obsessive thing just for its own crazy obsessive sake (see: my color coded closet, my rearranging of card piles every 3 minutes when playing Settlers of Catan, and my entire life) but even I felt a little peeved that the foodies who lunch got to lounge around for hours while I was being asked to scarf my tasty morsels at a starved puppy pace.

The food however, could not be argued with. It was well worth being chastised for my subpar vacuuming skills, worth drying a mountain of dishes and even worth being rushed through. Below, a play by play of exactly why I will not have lost any weight this week despite running probably like 8 miles (note: a lot. do not argue. I am the next Flo Jo, I pretty much just need to work on the nails).

First the amuse -- a rye bread flavored pana cotta with salmon roe and pickled mustard seeds.

The host expressed some concern that this might be a failed attempt at deliciousnesss but it was surprisingly successful -- creamy, salty, a little crunch on the end. And on top of that look how pretty it is!

Foie gras mouse featured a cucumber coulis and strawberries ala Mr. G

June09 054

Just look at the sweet slicing on those babies! I think i might be the only foodie who can't quite get behind the foie gras love. I mean it's good, rich, creamy, fatty but I often find it just a little too overwhelming and... (dare I say it?) somehow still bland. This dish was no real exception though the the strawberries and cucumber did admirably balance out the richness and make foie gras feel much more summery than I would have thought possible.

Fresh pasta with lobster and meyer lemon.

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Certainly the most simple of the dishes on offer but the combo of the lemon peel and lobster was really great. Shellfish + lemon is obviously no great culinary leap but I was still shocked and just how great these ingredients complimented each other.

Short ribs with morel mushroom and garlic scapes

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I got 4 curly little garlic scapes in my recent CSA delivery and this dish certainly inspired me to experiment with them -- the delicate flavor avoided overpowering the meat and mushroom with garlic and made this dish (which might have seemed a little boring) exciting and beautiful.

Chawan Mushi with bacon broth.

June09 063

This was the one menu item that I had to Google but Wikipedia's description of "egg custard" did nothing to prepare me for the awesomeness of pork belly+eggs+cream -- SO GOOD! As the person who declared the death of bacon months ago I would like to use this b
roth as evidence of how bacon should be used -- it was flavorful, smokey and meaty and DELICATE. The dish didn't come out and whomp you over the head all "LOOK! BACON IS HERE! EVERYONE LOVES BACON!!!" but instead stood in the corner waiting for the ladies to come to him, and come I did. (Dirty.).

Whipped truffle potatoes with smoked egg yolk.

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This was divine though G made a good point that it was mostly just because everything tastes great with truffle oil. It is probably true that if the potatoes had been sawdust and the egg yolk a yellow bouncy ball I still would have swooned.

Flourless chocolate cake with cherries.

This was the only course that left me shrugging my solders. I'm not a fan of flourless chocolate cake -- in fact, I basically think it's the bacon of the pastry world and is only served by lazy chef's looking to appeal to the most base palettes. Everyone loves chocolate, the richer the better, right? No need to try harder. This cake was really no better or worse then your average fudgey fair. That said, in the words of Bill Cosby, "Dad is great! Give us the chocolate cake!" I shrugged my solders at an empty plate.

Compressed peaches with cocoa butter enrobed peach pudding.

June09 078

While I want to say that this was the best thing ever since I contributed heavily to its production I cannot. It was fine. I suspect that like every contestant on Top Chef (and myself it would seem) the powers that be at A Razor a Shiny Knife could due with some lessons in pastry arts. I'd like to see one of their next events focused entirely on kicking some dessert ass.

I'm full again just writing that. Full and wishing I had a little bowl of pork pudding to slurp on.

I'd also like to say that in addition to the amazing food the dinner companionship was top notch -- I sat across from a hilarious navy dude who offered to give G and I a tour of his sub next time we're visiting G's parents in Groton CT and next to my friend from the night before who, like me and G, was well rested and ready to eat. I also sat across from a vegetarian who I was alternately amused by (seriously, why would you come to this?) and pitied (did your friend not tell you that this meal would totally have a lot of meat?). When one of the pro chefs (a man from Columbia) found out about the veggie in our midst he came by to inquire about her dietary limitations in an effort to accommodate, "You are a vegetarian?" "yeah, I eat fish though, and veggies." "What about beef?" Awesome.

You can view a time lapse video of the entire event here-- some highlight include "wow, Brianna you look kind of fat in the dress," "Geoff get your hands out of your pockets!" and "I want to put that in my mouth over and over again forever."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Adventures in Dining Part 1

As our latest and great cute couple surprise date I decide to surprise G with a night of cooking his own food in hopes that he would be inspired to drag his ass home from work one night and whip me up some veal sous vide and a nice rambutan mouse. Also because he LOVES cooking, this gift was not at all the Brianna form of giving your girlfriend lingerie.

I had been stalking the events of A Razor A Shiny Knife for a few months. The group, referred to as either an under ground restaurant or a private dinner club, specializes in bring to life crazy cooking ideas in a magical poof of yumminess. I had long been on the look out for an event when no previous engagement prevented us from taking in an evening of gluttony and finally, a few weeks ago, the calendar gods came together and we were signed up for the club's 24 hour cooking extravaganza (the dinner only because (1) we're not yet rich and (2) I feared that 3 meals of 8 courses each could lead to acute stomach explosion syndrome). The details I received were as follows: Show up any time after 10pm on Friday the 19th to help cook, show up at 7pm the night of the 20th to partake in the deliciousness.

We arrived at the secret location (a yet to be inhabitable building of condos deep in artsy Williamsburg and complete with a 45 foot waterfall in the lobby, day glow plastic chandeliers in every hallway and a broken elevator which afforded us the luxury of pretending that climbing 5 flights of stairs totally made up for eating a dish composed entirely of pork belly, cream, eggs and bacon broth) in our best khakis and linen to a sea of hipsters all, "oh hi, yes I did just get back from yachting, is that a tattoo of a boat on your shoulder, right next to the one of bar code? We have so much in common!" There were about 10 people suited up in aprons chopping, boiling and mixing and it was impossible to determine who among us was a pro chef and who, like us, was just paying hundreds of dollars to play dress up. Even though it was only 10:05 everyone was hard at work and not speaking to us which left us feeling, as G said, "like we were being snubbed by the caterers." Noting this obvious problem was a huge mistake on his part as it turned me into the pout-master for a good 20mins which we spent on the balcony all "ok so what should we do? can we leave? will we look lame? can we just grab something at random and start chopping?" In moments like this I think a little direction goes a long way and I felt tempted to offer the crew of a Razor a Shiny Knife my keen project management skills -- what more they could accomplish if only someone had made a spreadsheet.

Finally we were put to work making what the host of the evening (a man of totally indeterminate age sporting a very magnum PI mustache who either had an amazing memory for names or just couldn't forget me, the girl who was sure to ruin his event with her ham handed attempts at playing chef) described as "pickle pops" which made it sound like these would be some kind of frozen vinegar treat (Yum?) but turned out to just be vacuum sealed bags of pickled veggies. Our mission was to use this massive vacuum sealer to divide 20 plastic bags into 4 evenly sized pickle pockets. I had some past experience with vacuum sealing because my father bought one of those home food preservation contraptions at Costco years ago and proceeded to demo it's abilities to every dinner guest to walk through the front door. The minute the ladies ran off to, I dunno, powder their noses (note: this has never happened in my house, my mother is strictly anti powder, in fact "powder their noses" is just a euphemism for "drink scads of tequila") my dad would be dragging the boys off to a small corner of the kitchen to just seal random crap. But the machine at Friday's event was nothing like my dad's entertainment model. The beast was at a 2 foot power cube that G mused might be able to create actual black holes. Lucky for the entire Milky Way G and I would be doing no actual vacuuming -- just sealing.

Immediately we broke the machine. In a moment of panic as we moved the top down to begin the first seal one of us (I shall not name names but I think we all know who) announced that the line on one bag wasn't straight so I flung the lid back up which stopped the vacuuming by freaking out the beast. No longer would he suck air. Luckily, with some random mashing of buttons, I was able to save the day. So we're sealing. Bags are getting put into two piles: "oh shit, hide that one in the back" and "these should theoretically be usable." when Magnum comes by to check on us. "Things are going ok, you know, not perfect yet but we're working on it!" I quip. To which he replies, "we're looking for perfect." People, it was like I was on Top Chef and Coliccio packed my knives FOR ME.

The pickles were, thankfully, on the lunch menu so we could avoid the uncomfortable moment when someone at the table wrinkled their nose all, "my bags are not even, my entire meal has been ruined!" One assumes that this was quickly followed with, "yeah some blond J Crew freaks with zero ink totally fucked those up, last time I let the WASPs in."

As the evening progressed we slowly realized that almost all of the people who we originally took for super intimidating professional chefs were actually just ambitious foodies like ourselves. We managed to make a few friends all of whom seemed nice and nonjudgey if, a little eccentric. One girl (who I love) even leaned over in the middle of butchering a whole pig belly to conspicuously ask if we were crazy enough to consider staying up all night to cook and then sighed happily when we announced that we liked sleep way too much for that silliness (which begs this Sophie's Choice of a question, "if forced to choose between food and sleep where would a lazy glutton like myself stand (or, more accurately, lie down)?).

I suspect the open secret of A Razor, A Shiny Knife is that none of their meals are executable without a ton of help from their guests because there seemed to be only 4 or 5 pros in our midst. The good news is that there was no babying of the guests -- everything from slicing strawberries to flash freezing puddings was available for experimentation. This opportunity to play with nitrous oxide and learn how to make butter from scratch is, for me, half the fun of the event but I do have to warn future participants that one should arrive armed with a good amount of cooking knowledge and a suit of body armor protecting any thin skinned egos. I often felt a little bad for G, who I do put on carrot chopping duty in our home kitchen but who generally focuses his food knowledge on tasting over preparing. The impromptu learning opportunities at the event were not designed for amateurs. Among my friends I have a fairly solid "good cook" reputation but even I often felt far far out of my league, especially during the first hour or so when direction was at a minimum.

That said, ultimately the evening turned out to be fun. And when we got home at 1:30am our preview of the next evening's dinner had both of us salivating in our sleep. More on that in my next update (soon, by Thursday for sure...) until then a picture of our first course -- our amuse to amuse you.

Friday, May 29, 2009

In the Beginning There was a Really Big Belly Under a Christmas Tree

This is the story of my birth as I've always told it and I fully expect that my mom will read this and immediately be scandalized by my bastardization of the details in a story that is rightfully much more hers than mine. As a bonus I'm also going to throw in the story of my brother's birth because it's related and because it might further annoy my mom which will teach her for learning about the internet. (Private to AngryMom in CA: At least your daughter shares her blog with you, most moms aren't that lucky! Let her slide on the embellishments, after all she's been stuck in an entire year of writer's block, she needs this!).

I was born on January 5th 1978 (mark your calendars! shop post Christmas sales for presents!) which was about 2 weeks later than I was supposed to be born thus affording my mom and dad the luxury of taking a hilarious picture of her huge belly under the Christmas tree with a big bow wrapped around it -- to this day I'm sure my mom finds much irony in the thought that I would be a great gift and not just a never ending source of lost sleep and so much eye rolling (like all babies I'd like to thank Mother Nature for those awesome post pregnancy hormones that made me lovable despite not being very lovable -- I'm not sure who I should thank for giving mom the strength not to try literally slapping me out of my funk every day of my life from age 13 through 17).

I actually know very little of what happened between me playing the part of Christmas package and being born. I assume at some point on the 4th or 5th of January there was a rushed ride to the hospital and hours of screaming and you know, blood and doctors and such but mom was never one to regale me with "Do you know how much pain I went through to bring your sorry ass into the world?" I was born in the hospital where my mom worked as an ER nurse (and now works as the Nursing Supervisor) so the birth was well attended and mom claims much of it was broadcast over the nurses' walkie talkie system. This seems insanely cruel -- can you imagine all of your coworkers listening in on you giving birth to your first kid? Strangely mom never mentions killing whoever made this happen (I assume not talking about the murder is all part of the mass cover-up -- good job mom.).

And then, you know -- here I was (the sun came out from behind the clouds, the heavens smiled, the birds sang, national holiday, etc). But the real hilarious bit of this story starts when we get out of the hospital. I'm not sure how long my new family was actually home before my mom had to be returned the the hospital because there was a lot of blood not staying in her body where it belonged, but it wasn't long -- maybe a day or so. So back to the hospital where mom is admitted to the ICU (that's right folks, the hilarious part of the story is when my mom gets put into intensive care! good times!) and so they're wheeling her away and dad's standing there all "Hey, dudes, you forgot the baby! HAHA!" and the dudes (in this case doctors) are all, "No, it's cool the baby is FINE, take her on home!" And then dad is all "But! DUDES! Please god take the baby back! What the hell am I supposed to do with her when I don't have the magic milk producing body parts!?!?" And then I think his head explodes and he gets put in ICU too. No, just kidding, he goes home and calls my aunt all "Doctors are such bitches, please come help me before I kill your niece."

Let me pause here to say that my dad is super amazing and I'd hate for this story to make him sound incompetent but that's kind of what makes it a good story and my dad is hopefully so awesome that he doesn't mind being the butt of this particular joke. But just in case he's a little miffed I offer this proof of his awesomeness as a counterbalance: Because my mom worked nights growing up my dad was Mr. Mom every morning and he kicked major ass at everything from packing lunches to making a full breakfast (seriously people we had eggs and fruit and bacon or banana pancakes or french toast EVERY MORNING, dude was not fucking around). He was slightly less awesome at doing my hair as evidenced by my 3rd grade school picture where I appear to be rocking some sort of half crimped/half bed head combo do but I've mostly stopped blaming him for my "nerd table" lunch status that lasted through to high school (after all it wasn't him who forced me to join the math team, that was ALL ME). And also: I'm fine, he took me home as a newborn without my mom and totally didn't kill me so GOOD JOB DAD.

Now back to the story. Mom gets better, I learn to walk, everyone is happy.

So fast forward a couple of years and mom is rocking the bump again, my only real memory of her being pregnant with my brother is a conversation about baby names that took place in the car in which I refused to even discuss the possibility needing to consider boy names. I also seem to remember having strong feelings about naming my baby sister Michelle. So April 9th rolls around and again with the hospital and the pain and the breathing exercises. Only this time it sucks even more because my baby brother was born breach (As an older sister this was a god send -- oh the years of "born butt first like a real butt head!" jokes! HILARIOUS) and things really did not go well. Basically my mom died. She lost a ton of blood, she flat lined and while the doctors worked on bringing her back to life (note: successfully, thanks dudes!) she went on a little ride through the dark tunnel to meet with none other than Jesus Christ.

Mom and JC are up on a hill you know, chillin' when he brings up the awkward elephant in the room (er... the field...the heaven?). "So, Kay, umm you have a couple of kids back there in the world who kind of need a mom, you can't let Horst raise them alone, he can't handle it." That's right folks -- JESUS didn't believe in my dad's single parenting skills. And my mom is basically all, "no J-dawg, it's groovy, Horst has this shit! I'm gonna just chill here, lay back on a cloud, take some harp lessons, you know, angel stuff." Luckily our lord and savior is having none of it and basically pushes my mom back down the long dark tunnel and into her body. So big thanks to Jesus for giving me my mom back, I totally forgive you for misjudging my dad's parenting skills. And mom? I'm not even angry about you wanting to dessert me for heaven, I'm sure it would have totally beat changing Kurt's diapers and teaching my stubborn ass to tie my shoes.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Make Me Up Before You Go Go

Flashback!!: It's Saturday morning in DC where I've gone to see yet another friend walk down the aisle and I just happen to be in the mall waiting for Geoff to finish getting his hair cut (aside: he went to this place where they gave him a free gin and tonic thus making $50 seem like a totally reasonable price to pay for a trim!) and so I'm browsing the stores when I remember, "perhaps this is a good time to go into the M.A.C. store and see if they have any good pink lipsticks." You see, I have been on a quest to find this one perfect shade of pink since seeing it on Kristen Bell in one of the later episodes of Veronica Mars last summer. Now, it is highly likely that this color, if it exists, will look like crap on me. And it is almost 100% likely that trying on lipstick and then mentally thinking "does this look like Kristen Bell?" will convince one that she is super duper ugly with a cherry on top.

Obviously a glutton for punishment I wander into M.A.C. and start smearing lipsticks on the back of my hand thinking "too purple," "too sheer," "too horrifically ugly" when of course one of the M.A.C. girls comes over to help me and I try to shoo her away but I'm too blinded by her florescent yellow eyeshadow to do anything other than mutter "I kind of want some pink lipstick." I'm always hoping that these makeup ladies are actually going to be helpful, that one of them will be a color genius and not just especially gifted with a trowel and that she will take one look at me and whip out the perfect color and then sprinkle some magic dust over my head and voila! Beauty queen! (but with like 500% less makeup than actual beauty queens).

God knows I need the help since I have no idea how to do makeup. I mostly blame my mom who taught me that tomato plants like full sun and that horses are very afraid of plastic bags but, like a true woman of Woodstock, never put a compact in my hand. I try to roll with it and like the basketball player who "meant to miss" I've embraced the bright side of no makeup by claiming that I generally don't see any need for it. And this isn't entirely a lie. Most days I am happy with just my lip gloss and mascara (2 pieces of makeup whose application process is thankfully only one step long). But whenever an invite for an event of the gussied up variety arrives I get a little nervous and as much as I try to focus on wearing a pretty dress and eating yummy cake and drowning my lip gloss in free champagne I can't help but worry about the eyeshadow problem. Because strapless dresses and high heels and poofy hair seem to demand things like foundation and powder and sparkles in places nature doesn't naturally sparkle. But there seems to be no easy way to learn how to do makeup at the age of 31. Asking the ladies at the makeup counter is only an invitation to some sort of "how much makeup can I get on one little face" contest and my last slumber party invite arrived in 1995. Does Avon still come calling?

I eventually hightailed it out of the M.A.C. store when Little Miss Spackle moved on to a customer who wasn't babbling about not knowing anything about makeup. I left without lipstick, feeling embarrassed, inept and ugly and you'd think it would have been lesson learned for the day, but alas, I am a stubborn wench. Next, I wondered into Neiman Marcus and began the process of making up my hand anew, this time with the help of Estee Lauder. and lo and behold I actually found the perfect pink. It didn't turn violet upon touching my lips, it wasn't secretly peach in disguise, it wasn't completely see through, it was so pretty! And just in time for the wedding. Belle of the ball? Here I was. I figured that sure, Estee Lauder was probably pricey, but considering the arduousness of my lipstick crusade I'd earned a ridiculously priced piece of face paint (and a face paint pencil). Amex card out -- charge ahead. Except apparently my idea of ridiculous and Ms Lauder's are not in the same universe because the receipt that came back for my signature was for $115! FUCK THAT. In the past, faced with a situation where something cost way more than I figured it was worth, I might have smiled politely and signed away a big chunk of my bank account rather than look cheap. Ironically, now that I actually can (technically) afford $115 in lip coloring I had very few qualms about denying my signature. Honestly, it was all I could do to resist engaging the sales lady in a discussion called "seriously my boyfriend just bought AN ENTIRE SUIT for only $50 more than that, are the Lauders doing crack right now or are they still passed out from last night's binge?" Also: "fuck the patriarchy and give me my Amex back."

So I went to the wedding makeup-less (save the old standby mascara, some blush and, for as long as possible, the remnants of the perfect Estee Lauder pink which lasted until at least cocktail hour). And none of the other guests blurted out anything about how ugly I was or exactly why my eyelids were that weird shade of nude known as naked skin but I saw the confusion in their (heavily lined) eyes. I can only hope that sometime before the next wedding (and shockingly for the first time in at least 5 years I have zero weddings on my calendar... but they will come) someone will offer to be my guru of rouge, my messiah of makeup my Christ of the cosmetics counter. Is it you? CALL ME.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Rock Stars Revisited

I am not a rock star kind of girlfriend. I do not like staying out past 1am or drinking PBR or walking in on my boyfriend and a group-o-groupies. I would never qualify for a spot on Rock of Love ("Brianna I can feel in my soul that you're here for Brett but every time I invite you to a concert you not only show up fully clothed but often with a book, I'm sorry to say this but... your tour ends here."). (Aside: I would, however, make a fabulous ex-girlfriend of Brett Micheals, how much fun must those ladies be having watching his series of train wrecks? I have to assume they all gather in some suburban ranch style home to watch the show, sangria in hand, and celebrate what could have been but (thankfully) was not. That sounds like the kind of good time I could get into.). But despit how obviously unsuited I am to be the first lady of rock I cannot help but nurture my rock star boyfriend fantasies (yes, still, despite claims to the contrary).

What does it say about me that I can't help but swoon at the boy with the guitar? Ever since Jordan Catalano started wearing eye liner and getting chubby for movie roles (and, ironically, since he joined a band) I haven't had a really all consuming crush on your average Hollywood heartthrob. Oh sure I think Sayid on Lost is rather dreamy in a bad ass way, and I would sleep with Chuck from Gossip Girl just to say I had but truthfully all of my wet dreams are about rock stars.

The only time I've seriously considered the possibility of cheating on G was at the Drive By Trucker's show I went to in November. Somehow my friend and I were offered back stages passes (normally I'd concede that "somehow" translates to "because we were dressed like the girls most likely to get on our knees" but, perhaps ironically, this wasn't the case -- the place was teeming with girls in mid drift baring tops and we were all corduroys and light jackets). As I gazed up at Patterson Hood's crotch while he rocked his way through some song or other I caught myself thinking "exactly how bad would things be with G if I slept with that dude, I mean he'd have to forgive me, right? He's a rock star!" Least you think I'm a total bitch let me say that I would have totally called G first, and explained how this was like if he met the girl version of Micheal Stipe and she was down to bang (or ok, let's be honest, even the boy version of Micheal Stipe).

Patterson Hood is not even hot . He's a schlub-y dude who may or may not be giving Christopher Walken More Cowbell in this picture but he ROCKS. I'd like to say that this proves that I am a deep soul who is attracted to men for their talents not their looks but I suspect that isn't entirely true its not like rocking has ever been my thing. If I spent my me time fantasizing exclusively about people whose music I love things might be much more George Strait than rock gods. Perhaps I just have a thing for dudes with drinking problems.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Good Morning Welcome to Pornbook!

So This Morning on Facebook (capitalized because obviously "This Morning on Facebook" is the "Days of our Lives" of my generation... "Like the unidentifiable crap that builds up on the bottom of your mouse it's time for This Morning on Facebook") I see that a girl I know from high school has commented on the picture of another girl from high school who I sort of know (because my high school was tiny) but not really. Girl #2 is not my friend on Facebook but her picture is now visible to me and (nosy Nellie that I totally am, especially when it comes to random people from high school) I click on it and it is TOTALLY a stripper picture. Like not just a little risque "hey look how sexy I am! Suck it former high school classmates!" (though she is in fact fairly sexy -- what I wouldn't give for those abs (actually -- exactly what I wouldn't give for those abs is more than 100 sit ups a week)) or a sexy little number to tempt single dudes in your area to buy you a drink sometime (both of which are totally something I would (nay, have) post) but a, "lying on a mirrored table in a g-string and a bra with rainbow kneehighs and green patent platform heels and one knee bent up so she can grab the 4 inch heel of the platform while looking at the camera all 'someone better be giving me some cold hard cash for holding this pose.'" So then obviously I browse the entire album which is entitled "Bored, I Guess" as in "hmm my stupid friends bailed on me and no one wants to go see "Monsters vs. Aliens" alone! How shall I entertain myself... oh lookie here, a florescent yellow peekaboo bra and a camera and whoops! I lost my panties!" Happens all of the time. It probably goes without saying that this girl's dad was the guidance counselor at our highschool. And that she has since removed all of the vowels from her name so that what once was a normal suburban monkier now sounds like the spawn of a Welshman and a pair of daisy dukes. I have less of an issue with the lack of underwear than I do with the blatant cliche-ness of this whole enterprise.

After a thorough perusing of the entire lurid album I woke G up to share -- cause he loves gossip almost as much as he loves boobies -- but shockingly he was having none of it. He rolled his eyes! He said I was being catty! He COMPARED ME TO HIS CHURCH OF CHRIST LOVING MOM! Despite what my boyfriend may now think, I really have little issue with the actual stripping (or the selling for dirty pictures which I have to assume is going on because if not then someone needs to talk to
StFny (not her actual fake name) about the cow and the buying of the free milk). I would even go so far as to say I support strippers. I don't care if G wants to go ogle some boobies. I think that a lady should have every right to do with her body whatever she wants. If I had heard through the grapevine that this girl was now a stripper I would have surely giggled and called all of my highschool friends to gossip and I would have felt superior and a little bitchy BUT I also would have thought "ok well good for her, I hope she pulls in $1000/night in tips from dirty old bastards." and that would be it. But I didn't hear this through the grapevine. Someone didn't stumble upon her risque profession in a dark back alley and then cuelly out her to the world -- she posted pictures of herself on Facebook! Pictures with her panties around her ankles! So now I have to blog about it -- I may look like a bitch here (and a jealous one at that -- see note above re:abs) but my hand was forced.