Friday, April 28, 2006

The 768,953rd Circle of Hell

How to push a sarcastic, yuppie foodie over the edge:

1. Look at a chart, and six seconds later, say something akin to, "I recommend that we perform surgery on your reproductive organs."

2. Hand me a photocopied piece of paper with the specialized diet that I need to follow prior to said surgery, and have it state something like:

2 Days Before Surgery: Carbohydrates only--pasta, bread, rice, canned vegetables, canned fruits. No meat, dairy, or fresh fruits and vegetables. No creamy, gooey artisanal cheeses. No antibiotic-free lamb or free-range chicken. No thick, creamy Greek yogurt drizzled with honey. No panna cotta with bittersweet chocolate-espresso sauce. No organic strawberries and blueberries. No fresh, juicy mangoes.

Day Before Surgery: Liquids only. No crisp walnut oat crackers. No fire-roasted vegetables. No steak au poivre. No succulent oranges. No rosemary ciabatta. NO FOOD AT ALL.

(Okay, I embellished a bit in the last few lines for each day, but, to me, it might as well have said just that.)

And to think that I just discovered Humboldt Fog.

This weekend we are having people over for dinner and, oh, so help me, I will be eating my "last meal" with gusto.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Just DON'T

So, Denise Richards has requested (and been granted) a restraining order against Charlie Sheen, alleging violence, death threats, consorting with prostitutes, and kinky taste. She explains that she fears for herself and her two young daughters. The allegations of violence are news. The consorting with prostitutes is not.

My big question is, um, WHY did she marry Charlie Sheen in the first place? This is a man who has admitted to spending thousands and thousands of dollars on prostitutes that he has had sex with, and has had myriad other issues. He has had several attractive girlfriends with whom he has allegedly not been faithful.

Maybe I'm missing something--I mean, Colin Firth is on my list of the five celebrities that I'd like carte blanche to cheat with if ever I have the opportunity,* for heaven's sake, so I've never exactly been one to lust after the bad boys. "Oooh, but he'll change for ME!" has never been my mantra. I wouldn't fall for, "But, Baby, THIS TIME it's different."

Instead, I prefer a man who says things like, "Would you like to borrow this book? I think you'd really enjoy it." Or, "I see you've had a hard day, so I sent you a link to a really funny website." Or, my personal favorite, "What should we have for dinner? I'll cook tonight."

There are so many nice manly men out there. So many guys who look great in a T-shirt, yet won't, for example, sleep with your best friend while you recover from surgery, or pick up a barfly and then blame you for working and not being around for them. Why do these guys frequently get passed over in favor of jerks, who often aren't even as good-looking?

Ladies, I implore you: please help dry up the market for jerks. Don't even date them, let alone marry them. Demand better. Insist on loyalty, honesty, and politeness. Help elevate the good guy!

*Since you're just going to ask in the comments section anyway, the other four, in random order, are 1.) Jason Lewis; 2.) River Phoenix (I know that he's deceased, but THIS IS A FANTASY ANYWAY); 3.) Montgomery Clift (I know that he's gay AND deceased; see explanation for #2); and Rufus Sewell.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Elizabeth from Table for Five tagged me a while back for this meme.

I know that I write lists of weird stuff about myself all the time, but that post I started last night about Denise and Charlie just isn't coming together right now, so here you go:

6 Weird Things About Me:

1. I often talk back to the television.

2. I hate bras that close in the front.

3. When I was a little kid, I envied other little kids who wore glasses.

4. When I (attempt to) give directions, instead of saying something like, "It's a right on Main, then about two or three miles down, then a slight left onto Broadway," I say, "You make a right at the ice cream parlor with the cartoon donkey on the roof, and then keep going until you pass the dark red house with the tree on the lawn that kinda looks like a toothbrush, and then make a slight left about 10 seconds after that."

5. I LOVE infomercials. Especially when I can't sleep.

6. I'm not a big fan of fruit in the midst of other foods. Except maybe pastry. Maybe.

Got writer's block? Then you're tagged.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I'm a Barbie Woman

In chapter 6 of At Home in the World, writer Joyce Maynard says, "I am less mature than most eighteen-year-olds. It is just a few years since I put away my Barbies."

Ladies and gentlemen, I have never put away my Barbies.

In my experience, Barbie is an unfairly-maligned toy. I played with the 11 1/2" buxom blond bombshell throughout my childhood and adored her all the way through my teen years and into my twenties, and my enjoyment of Barbie shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. I'm also happy with both my ethnic Mediterranean looks and my J.D., and am even making peace with my petite bosoms and, shall we say, "curvy" hips.

Now, I admit, when I was a little girl I sometimes longed to trade in my coarse dark curls for silky blond strands. Barbies of the 80's, unlike their predecessors, were almost universally blond. Like Farrah Fawcett. And Cheryl Tiegs. And Christie Brinkley. And Cybill Shepherd. And Loni Anderson. And Bo Derek. And the girls on The Brady Bunch. And that chick from Teen Wolf (see how I carefully tie my posts together by running continuous threads through them?). With a few exceptions, like Brooke Shields (who had her own doll!), brunettes were relegated to the supporting roles. We were Janet Woods to others' Chrissy Snows. Barbie wasn't nearly as much about setting the agenda as she was about reflecting it.

Barbie taught us that there will always be that busty blond chick, that skinny girl with no hips and great skin and perfect teeth, who gets all the attention. She forced us to make peace with this woman and to learn to coexist with her while still feeling good about ourselves. And occasionally manipulating her. ;)

My Barbies all had elaborate identities. They were Scandinavian and Californian and British and Russian. I named them Kiki and Elizabeth and Nicole and Marie and Jessamyn. (That's why it was important to have so many of them!) There was the allure of having this "grownup" doll to play with, instead of a baby doll. Trixie and Anastasia and Mallory would have incredible adventures. They were judges and dress designers and Olympic athletes and equestriennes. They would fly an airplane, or bravely battle leukemia, like the teenage daughter of our mother's friend that we heard discussed in hushed tones. They would help us make sense of the world. They were id and ego and superego. Sometimes, they were good women--pioneers, children's librarians. Sometimes, they were bad, slutty women, sharing a twin bed with Ken, who had snuck in through the window of the Dream House, when my own love life consisted of reading "fan fare" like River Phoenix: Hero and Heartthrob.*

All the men were named Ken. Just Ken. I had about seventeen Barbies, all with first and last names and personalities, and about two Kens, which, I have learned, is a pretty typical ratio. One Ken wore a white tuxedo; his job was to squire Barbie to formal events. The other Ken alternated between a bathing suit and a casual outfit consisting of pants and a coordinating button-down shirt. His job was to do whatever the tuxedo-clad Ken was dressed too formally to do. I would brush Barbie's hair, dress her, pick out shoes and put them on her, pose her on her own chaise lounge, her drink on a side table next to her. Ken would just stand there.

Now, we have Asian and Hispanic and African-American and redheaded and dark-haired Barbies. We have Salma Hayek and Pamela Anderson and Julianne Moore and J. Lo. Barbie evolves with the times. My mother and I sometimes go to Barbie shows and marvel at the variety, the fun, the detail, and the kitsch. We love it.

What do you think of Barbie?

*Yes, this was an actual book.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Button!

Thanks, Izzy, for designing the beautiful B-List Blog Chicks button!

(Scroll down to see it; it's on the right.)

Meta for a Friday

In Tuesday's post, I had an expression that I thought was relatively clever:

"in the name of all that is decent"

Now, clearly, I'm not the first person ever to use this expression.

Which got me thinking: when did I first hear it?

I did a little searching through the memory bank.* Was it from Shakespeare? Milton? David Sedaris? Dooce?


Do you want to know where I first heard it?

In the dialogue of the movie Teen Wolf, which, many years ago, I watched repeatedly on VHS.

There's a hot blond cheerleader chick that the Michael J. Fox character is smitten with. She has the lead in the school play, as a Civil-War-era Southern belle. She has a line that goes something like this:
You can [something my something], you can ravish my body. But, I beg you, with all that is decent and holy: don't destroy my plantation!
(Emphasis added.)

So, there you have it. The next time you read something even vaguely highfalootin', just think: it may have originated in the author's mind with a slutty girl in a teen movie.

*Incidentally, I first heard the expression "memory bank" in reference to that in which VICI the robot from the television show Small Wonder registered data.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I Need Boots to Wade Through This

If I make it through this next month, it's going to be a miracle.

I've been watching my site stats and comments inch steadily downward since I returned last month from my trip to Los Angeles. I'm suffering from a bad case of writer's block, and I just don't feel that I have anything interesting or witty to say. Many of my fellow bloggers have written about similar funks of late; it's comforting to know that I'm not alone, but it's still very frustrating.

Last night, after disappointing my good friend Mrs. Harridan* (I'll let her tell the story if she wants to, although it was due partly to my attempts to return phone calls to TWO cooter doctors who had left me messages at home regarding my upcoming infertility surgery despite having my cell number, and partly due to my own stupidity, and partly due to the idiosyncracies of mass transit), as well as disappointing her husband and disappointing my husband, I arrived home, feeling terribly. Ty and I then attempted to raise our new lighting fixture to a more suitable height. About 45 sweaty, cursed minutes later, we attempted to turn it on, only to find that the light was out, as were the lights in about 60% of our apartment, and our phones, and our computers, and our alarm clocks. Trips to the circuit-breaker box proved fruitless.

Multiple phone calls and one frantic night later, the electrician arrived to fix our mess. It turns out that a sharp edge on the fixture had cut a wire, which had caused a short in the system. After a good length of time of holding our breath, lest our fixture fall and smash to pieces, as well as a hurried trip to the hardware store, the problem was fixed.

While I held the ladder for Ty last night, I calmed myself by mentally drafting the foreword to a book that I've been thinking of writing for a while. I've been thinking of writing many books for a while, but this one is the most personal and has been the hardest to get started. This morning, on a whim, and after passing THREE EXTRAORDINARILY PREGNANT WOMEN and A NURSERY-SCHOOL FIELD TRIP'S WORTH OF ADORABLE CHILDREN, I stopped at a bookstore and purchased two books about writing and publishing.

If I can really get serious, and get myself launched with this project, as a way of pulling myself out of all this mess, it will be worth it.

If you are a writer, do you ever find inspiration in shitty circumstances?

*Again, I am so, so sorry.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I'LL be the judge of THAT

Yesterday I was rushing to an important meeting, thinking about all the household products I needed to procure along the way, and how heavy my bag was already, and how uncomfortable my shirt was, and how I was too hot, and very thirsty, and how badly I wanted to wash my hands, and whether I was ovulating, and how I needed to fill the prescription the doctor gave me for my upcoming cooter surgery, and this guy doing construction on the side of the street shouted directly at me,

"Smile! It's a bee-yoo-tee-ful day!"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

An Open Letter to Designers of Clothing for Chain Clothing Stores

Dear Designers,

I realize that you work for very large companies and that, in most cases, clothing designers at or near corporate offices and factories have very little contact with stockpersons at each store branch. Nevertheless, I wish to pose to you the following question:

Have you ever, say, wandered into one of your stores and noticed that the garments on mannequins are literally pinned in at the waist by the staff so as not to make the mannequins appear boxy-shaped or substantially thicker than they actually are?

If you answer the above question in the affirmative, then kindly allow me to pose one additional question to you:

If clothing has to be pinned back on MANNEQUINS to make them look thinner, then why, in the name of all that is decent, don't you simply cut the garments to be slenderer and more flattering in the first place?


Monday, April 17, 2006

Things I’ve Learned in the Past Few Days

1. Fresh hyacinth is a wonderful scent to wake up to.
2. At times, I can be pretty persistent.
3. The second bite of raw horseradish is much stronger than the first.
4. Sewing is more difficult than it looks, but also more fun.
5. Writer’s block sucks.
6. I really don’t look so bad in jeans after all.
7. I am a little bit scared of dying during surgery.
8. I’m going to be a good mother, and I’m going to have a really, really good time with my kids.
9. I’m less intimidated by strangers than I used to be.
10. In my opinion, Brangelina has totally exceeded its saturation point.

The Seder was great. C.S.’s nephew liked me, as did her niece. C.S. and her nephew and I spent a wonderful day together at the American Museum of Natural History. I got to see the museum with fresh eyes—fresh three-year-old eyes. Instead of looking for stitches in the taxidermied diorama animals like my usual morbid Gen-X-er self, I got to notice which animals had “zebra legs” and which animals had “bird friends.” At lunch, I got to feel virtuous by ordering a grilled vegetable sandwich with salad, yet still got to eat a lot of French fries that tiny fingers left untouched. Calories on other peoples’ plates don’t count, you know. Especially when other people are very small.

By far, though, the best part of the day was when C.S. and her nephew and I all sat in traffic in C.S.’s mother’s car, calling out silly nonsense words to each other and laughing hysterically. Shakespeare himself never had such fun with words. The child’s laughter was literally infectious. His laugh was full of the deep, uncontrollable giggles that only come from being three. And C.S. and I laughed the deep, satisfying laughs that can only come from having a child like you and making him laugh.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Don't Pass Me Over

Alice recently wrote about how sometimes she'll find herself applying mascara just to impress her three-year-old.

Tonight I am going to a Passover Seder at my friend C.S.'s mother's house. C.S.'s infant niece and three-year-old nephew will be there.

I haven't been this nervous since I had blind dates when I was single.

The niece I've never met. The nephew I haven't seen since he was less than a year old. I made a good first impression; he liked the stuffed Curious George, and even kicked his feet in happiness when he saw it. He has no idea who I am now, though. I never mailed the present I bought him for his first birthday. It is still sitting in my apartment, the handmade card yellowing with age. Stupid, lousy procrastination. He'll either like me or he won't, without benefit of the memory of recent toys. If all goes well tonight, the plan is for me to accompany him and C.S. to the American Museum of Natural History some time in the near future.

Have I told you that I really want to have children, and that I am going to allow people wielding sharp instruments to put me to sleep and mess around with my innards and scar up my stomach in the hopes that it will increase my chances of having children?

Do you know what I think about when I imagine myself with my hypothetical children?

I imagine taking them to the American Museum of Natural History. I imagine myself showing them the dinosaur bones and saying big words slowly and deliberately in the hopes that they will repeat them in a cute, babylike way, and become really smart and literary and scientific because their mother took them to the American Museum of Natural History, and they will love me and enjoy our quality time together.

This is big. This is like a parenting dry-run.

I have two different outfits strewn across my bed, having taken into account the day weather, the evening weather, the bus ride to get there, and, most importantly, the preferences of a three-year-old. He could discard me with a single wave of his hand! He could shatter my dreams and shrivel my ovaries. It's like something out of The Twilight Zone.

Then again, there's always the girl...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Three Underrated Films

1.) Crooklyn, 1994:

One of Spike Lee's more ignored films. It doesn't have the gripping social significance of Do the Right Thing, or the hot sexual content of Jungle Fever, but it's nevertheless remarkable in its own right. For one thing, how many films can you think of in which the protagonist is an adolescent girl (played by the wonderful Zelda Harris) but the target audience is not limited to adolescent girls? It's a realistic warts-and-all portrayal of a family, a neighborhood, and a time in history, in addition to being a great coming-of-age film. Alfre Woodard is terrific as the strong matriarch, and the kids have the chemistry of real siblings.

2.) Flirting with Disaster, 1996:

A man searches for his birth parents. In retrospect, it can be regarded as one of the of the earlier Ben-Stiller-spinning-out-of-control films, but the jokes are really sharp, and hold up to repeat viewings. The dialogue is smart, and one gets the impression that much of it was ad-libbed. Hilarious situations and a great ensemble cast.

3.) Ciao, Professore! 1993:

Great for introducing kids to foreign films. A Northern Italian teacher is assigned to a Southern Italian town. It features some of the contrasted Northern/Southern depictions that Lina Wertmuller is so famous for, but in a less overtly political way than in some of her other films. And it's really, really funny and will teach you wonderful new insults by way of subtitles. Just don't blame me if your kids run around afterwards calling everybody a "fart jockey."

Care to add any?

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Power of Suggestion

Ty and I have been doing a lot of really grown-up things lately. No, no, not THAT kind of "grown-up!" Get your mind out of the gutter! That was the LAST post!

By "grown-up," I mean, we've been doing things like buying a dining table and a lighting fixture and looking for wall art.

On Saturday we went to a store that consists of rooms and rooms and rooms full of lighting fixtures. We wandered around, surveying a room that reminded us of a funeral parlor and making fun of loud people with tacky taste and just generally not accomplishing much of anything at all.

Then, we stumbled upon it: The Scallop.

It's a wide stained-glass fixture, simultaneously intricate yet simple. When lit, it emits a flattering golden light that makes me feel flirty and Gina Lollobrigida-sensuous instead of like a grown woman in her pajamas and Mint Julep Masque at the table. Like a scallop shell, it has a complex, variegated texture and a lovely organic feeling.

So, guess what I've been craving since we bought it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Kama Sewtra

A few erotic excerpts from my new sewing machine manual (hehe, "manual")...

"equipped with [a] fast bobbin-winding system"

"slide the bobbin winder shaft to the left"

"pass it through the slit in the bobbin winder seat"

"Turn the bobbin clockwise, by hand, until the spring on the shaft slides into the groove of the bobbin"

"Pull up the spool pin as far as possible"

"Gently hold the end of the upper thread in your left hand, and then start sewing"

"Insert a pin at the end of the buttonhole"

"Lower the needle into the fabric"

"Free-arm sewing is convenient for sewing tubular and hard-to-reach areas"

"The thread tension will affect the quality of your stitches"

"Sewing with a bent needle is extremely dangerous"

"Insert the...plug into its jack/socket on the rear side"

(And, last but certainly not least...)

"To turn off the machine, set the main power switch to 'O.'"

Happy Weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, April 06, 2006


One of the misconceptions about New York that bothers me the most is that eating out is too expensive. Granted, there are plenty of places where two people can easily spend $450 on a single dinner with minimal alcoholic beverages, but this is FAR from the norm.

Much more common are small, delicious ethnic restaurants. Many of them are mom-and-pop operations with a friendly atmosphere and serious food.

I recall a memorable Brazilian/South American meal in one such restaurant, on a Saturday night, where Ty and I spent less than $25. At a different establishment, we've had our fill of huge, spicy Jamaican beef patties for less than $10 for two people. A local restaurant offers a lunch menu consisting of an appetizer, entree, (homemade) pasta, and wine, for less than $10 per person. C.S. and Mrs. Harridan and I had a really fun dim sum meal in Chinatown; I think it wound up costing $12 per person. I've lost count of the number of times Ty and I have brought home glorious take-out Italian heroes for which we paid less than the wine we drank with them.

Based on sheer volume, it's probably easier to get great, inexpensive ethnic food in New York than in certain other parts of the country, but I'll bet there are a lot of local gems out there. Anybody have any stories?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Eight Things

Sorry I haven't posted the past few days. I've been sick, and, believe me, you wouldn't have wanted to hear anything that I had to say.

Since everyone seems to like these lists, I'm just going to ease back in today with a few simple ones:

1. I have been using the same box of aluminum foil for at least four years. I just realized this yesterday. I think I'll be pretty sad when I finish it, 'cause I'm sentimental like that.

2. I get really upset when there are no good magazines in the waiting room. When I say, "good," I mean, magazines centered around fashion or celebrity gossip and containing as little substance as possible. Something to keep my mind off having my blood drawn or my teeth scraped in the very near future, and, for heaven's sake, nothing with an actual, interesting article that I might have to abandon at a moment's notice.

3. I'm really impressed by good child actors, because I think so many child actors are totally annoying.

4. One of my favorite tricks for removing minor stains from clothing that I'm wearing is to use a moist towelette to dab away the stain. This works especially well for getting yogurt off black pants--I mean, so I've heard.

5. I really resent fatty, salty, preservative-laden, artificially-colored foods being marketed to children.

6. I've noticed in several stores that it's harder to find natural-fiber "women's" socks than it is to find natural-fiber "men's" socks.

7. I think havarti with dill is a really underrated cheese.

8. I have preferences among certain brands of bottled water.