Monday, July 31, 2006

Confession Time

I have a confession to make.

You know how I mentioned in one of my first few posts that I hate to shop?

If you don't, you don't need to go digging through the archives. That about covers it. I hate to shop. I buy clothes for myself at Costco. Why? No dressing rooms, so I don't have to try them on. That's how much I hate to shop. Plus, the mens' jeans are actually long enough to reach my shoes, and cost $13. Sold!

No, the jeans don't actually look good on me. Why? Is that important?

And, while I love shoes, I don't really shop for shoes, exactly. When I need a new pair, I go and I buy shoes. As quickly as possible. Go to store. Try on. Pay. Get out. Fast, hurry hurry!

But there is one nasty little exception.

If it is something for the house, I will be pressed up against the windows long after closing time, drooling and whimpering, scaring the help. Doesn't matter if it's a couch, a chair, a vase or some placemats. Or, say, olive forks. Okay, so I hate olives, but that hardly matters. I would still have to have them.

I don't know if it's because the house doesn't balloon wildly through size after size, an 8 one month and a 10 the next, careening off through the double digits faster than you can say "chocolate mousse". Maybe if the living room woke up one day, and the 6 foot mohair Chesterfield sofa was just a little too tight, and I knew I'd never be able to sit in it again, I'd be less interested in accessorizing it lovingly with a chocolate leather ottoman, and adorning the walls around it with a new coat of deep caramel paint. But you know that sinful, rich, insatiably luscious leather sofa? And that crystalline celadon glass vase? The just-this-side-of-acid green slubbed silk drapes? Mine. Mine, mine. Mine. I just haven't bought them yet. So get up. Out of my couch. I don't care if it's still in the store. You can't sit on it. Mine.

The only thing that saves me, and my bank account, from the decorating binge I can feel building is that my bank account can't even afford the olive forks right now.

Stupid bank. Like I really need to put in more money than I take out.

And Some Stupid Things Just Stupid At You. Stupidly.

Stupid Things That Shouldn't be as Lame as They Are, But There You Go:

"Theft Proof" Shopping Carts

I don't know if they have these where you all live, but around L.A., grocery stores have started using these carts that have locking wheels. Why? So you can't take them out of the parking lot.

Great. Really. I totally support you keeping the carts on your property and so passing the savings on to me, Large Grocery Store Chain. Really.

But don't put up signs saying it's "for your convenience!" Unless you find a way to make it "convenient". For me.

I'm talking to YOU PaBillions.

Because these carts don't actually work the way they say they do. If they really only locked up as they edged out of the lot, I wouldn't have a problem. Heck, since I don't take them out of the lot, I'd just have to take the store's word for it that they locked up at all.

Instead, they lock up as much as a car length and a half inside the perimeter of the parking lot. Which means if you can only find a spot along the outer edge of the parking lot, the cart locks up in the middle of the driving lane, 4-8 feet from the back of your car. If you were heading to your car at a diagonal across the lot, you could be even further than that when the stupid cart refuses to budge.

Oh sure, you can drag the paralyzed cart along to your car, but if it's absolutely full of groceries and giant dog food bags and stuff, I can't. Believe me, I've tried. So there I am, sprinting back and forth between the cart and the open trunk of my car, trying to shovel bags of groceries in as quickly as possible while the ever patient, polite and understanding L.A. Shoppers scream at me as if I am merely choosing to unload my groceries this way. To annoy them. Because I saw them coming and I personally hate them. Which may all be true, but if it were up to me, I'd pick a way to annoy them that required far less effort on my part. Trust me.

And the fun continues. The cart doesn't just automatically unlock when it gets back within the "safe zone", so you have to drag it catty whompus back across the lot all the way to the store, because you're not the kind of jerk who will leave the immobilized cart in front of the cart return chute. Even to annoy the stupid store that instituted the locking cart wheels in the first place. Or to annoy the livid L.A. Shopper who finally parked her barge three spaces down. Although it would be fun to see how she likes having to womanhandle a locked wheeled shopping cart around the parking lot while I honk and scream at her. But I don't. Because I am humane.

And thus the universe will find me wrasslin' it back to the store. And also thusly, mid-wrassle, the ever charming and already annoyed L.A. Shoppers will find me muttering bad words in front of their kids. I'd have felt worse about this, once I'd noticed the wee wide-eyed ones, if these weren't the same bad words their dear, sweet, Mommy had used mere moments before while "encouraging" me to move "my" bleepity bleeping cart.

Sorry. Didn't see you back there, kiddies. Ask your Sailor Mouth Mommy how to spell that, when you get a chance.

Speed Bumps

Within the last six months, speed bumps on residential streets here in L.A. have proliferated. For some reason, they're putting up signs that say "speed humps". Maybe "humps" are less incendiary than "bumps". Whatever, every street in our neighborhood has them now except ours, and that's only because we're on a cul de sac.

Every! Street!

Look, when I was little, we lived on and played on and in busy streets. Our folks taught us how to be careful, and there was hell to pay if we weren't. Our folks didn't order the city to put in speed bumps for "our children's safety". Besides, every parent in L.A. is too paranoid about child molesters and kidnappers to let their kids play out in their front yards anyway, much less anywhere near the streets. We've got hundreds of kids in our neighborhood. You hear them, but never see them. Ever. So how, exactly, are these speed bumps/humps keeping them safe? Are you really telling me that, without these asphalt carbuncles, the cars will careen along your street at an "insane" 32 mph, jump the curb, and fly over your 6 foot cinderblock wall, hitting your child on your rubber padded, safety council tested swing set?

And the crazy thing is, the people who are driving so fast through the other neighborhoods all over L.A., forcing them to also put in the speed pustules to protect their kids? They're the parents from our neighborhood.

Next: speed bumps on the freeway. 'Cause, hey, we have to drive our kids around on those.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Boy "Cows" Don't Have Udders

We're off to see Pirates of the Caribbean. But if I have to sit through that Barnyard trailer one more time, I'm going to run out screaming.

Bulls don't have udders. And the big, pink, four-teated rubbery udders on the male bovines in this trailer make me shudder. All my brain wants to do when I see them and simultaneously hear the obviously male voice actor is transform the anatomical inaccuracy into a bizarre, freakish quadro-limbed... um, boy-thingie. And I have to close my eyes and look away.

Shame on you, animators. You freakin' me OUT!

Ninja Poodles has a longer blog on this same topic, re: everything that is wrong with this trailer. So it's not just me! And, luckily for her, minus the perverse visual association problem I had with it. She's obviously a better person than I. She's a funny lady with a funny site. Go forth and read it!

Stupid Things Lead to Greatness

Stupid Things That Shouldn't Be So Great, But They Are:

Summer and Sandals

You know when you're wearing heavy winter shoes, and the bottom of your foot itches? And you try to wiggle your foot around in the shoe, hoping something, anything, will rub against the spot and it will stop itching? Only that just makes your sock brush every so lightly against the sole of your foot so the itching gets worse.

I bet your foot is itching right now!

Finally there's nothing for it but you have to take your shoe and sock off to get at the itch.

But it's summer right now, and you've got your sandals on. So when the dreaded bottom of the foot itch hits, you can get to it without taking anything off. You can scratch, and scratch, and scratch.

Of course it's hot, so your foot is all sweaty. You may want to use a pencil or something.

And people are gonna look at you funny.

But still.

Mid-Week Days Off, 3:30 pm

This is the moment you realize that the daylight getting things done part is almost over, and pretty soon it's going to be the time you usually get off work. So after that it will be like any normal week night. Dinner, clean up and then go to bed early so you can get up the next day.

But 3:30? Hey, you've got this day off and you've finished with whatever it was that kept you out of work in the first place. Might as well have some fun.

Before you know it, you're shopping, or at the bookstore or library. Or having dessert and a coffee. Or a milkshake. Or going to an early matinee. One of the above usually leads to happy hour or calling your Sig Other up to go out to eat instead of making dinner. And pretty soon, you're not getting to bed early.

Not Drying The Dishes

I know. They get all spotty. But come on, how many other chores do themselves if you just walk away? None, snookums. This is it, you might as well enjoy.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Thanks for the Loan of Your Eyeballs

You can have them back now.

For those of you who made it through my two marathon blogs in the last two days, I salute you! You completely deserve milk and cookies!

Fear not, not all posts will be as long as the last three. I do, indeed, know the difference between a blog and the Great American Novel. My blog is definitely not Great or Novel. And after my GW Bush = Wombat post, I'm not sure I've got American nailed down either.

Viva la Blogolution!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Angels Sang and Skirt Steak Rained from the Heavens

If you didn't yet, go ahead and read yesterday's post if you'd like the back story.

Done? Everyone back? Need a nap? Great.

So, that's how things sat for the last 5 years. We even joked about it. "That was no Dancing Meat Parade" became shorthand for anything that promised one thing and delivered something so far below, so sub standard, it crashed through the floor of your lowest expectations and ended up glaring at you sullenly from the basement, unwilling to even make the effort to flip you off.

We know better, usually, than to expect anything much from chain restaurants. And to expect even less than that from the few "All You Can Eat" establishments we'd allowed ourselves to be dragged into. But a few people had told us this first place was great, we had to go. So we got our hopes up, only to have them dashed on the cold, hard rocks of reality.

Anyway, moving on to more recent events.

A month ago we ended up out in Pasadena, and decided to try a small Brazilian restaurant we passed. Flipping through the menu on the rack out front, Laughing Boy saw that they offered an all you can eat Churrasco dinner.

"Maybe we can try it," he said, perking up in spite of his sordid past with Brazil and her Tease of a Cuisine.

"Why not," said I, wincing.

We sat down, and he asked about it while I held my breath. The waiter said that they didn't serve it until 6pm, and it was only 5:45. But he'd check.

That was all it took. Laughing Boy was having none of it. "See. No one wants to give you a Dancing Meat Parade." He sat back, his 5-year in the making cynicism cutting through his fleeting willingness to give Brazil and its fickle Barbeque another chance. Once burned, he wasn't firing up that blowtorch again.

The waiter came back, apologetic. We'd have to wait until 6.

"It's only 12 more minutes," I pointed out, still unwilling to see him give up on his dream. "Do you want to order an appetizer, and then get the All You Can Eat at 6?"

"No." Laughing Boy flipped through the menu to the steak section. "It's probably all Salad Bar, anyway. That's how they get you." We ordered steaks, and they were great. Baby steps.

But you want to know about yesterday, already. I know. I know.

Yesterday, he offered to take an old wall unit air conditioner we didn't need out to a co-worker who just got married. She lives in Pasedena, but wouldn't be home until after 9. So we stopped for dinner, and wonder of wonders, Laughing Boy wanted to go to the Brazilian place. Perhaps the healing had begun.

We sat down. Ordered our drinks. The waitress came by to drop off our sodas as we flipped through the menus and she said those fateful words. "Would you like to try our All You Can Eat Dinner?"

Time stood still. I felt like screaming "Nooooooooooooo" in slo mo at the back of her head. But it was too late. And then... hey, wait. LB was considering it. He flipped to the back of the menu and took a look. "How's it work?" he asked.

The waitress looked confused. "It's All You Can Eat."

But he wasn't fooled, not he. It was never that easy. "So, you get salad, and..."

"Well, yes. You can start out with soup or salad, and then we bring your side dishes." She nodded encouragingly.

LB sat back, cynicism firmly in place. "Right. Salad and side dishes."

"And then we bring all those meats in the list, as much as you want."

But he wasn't falling for that one again. "So if we want more of something, or we want to skip something, then..." He pushed and prodded, looking for the fatal flaw. Perhaps the glittering promise of endless steak merely masked the cruel reality of chicken and hot dogs, doled out in meager salty lumps.

"Oh no," she said firmly. He smiled. She was already saying no, even before we'd ordered.

"You don't want to skip anything," she insisted. "It's all so good. And then you won't know what you've missed. Just try everything, and then if you like something, we'll bring you more."

He snorted, just under his breath. They'd bring us more, just like that. Riiiiight.

"We should try it," I said. I could see him wavering. And even as I swore upon my honor to kick Brazil in its collective a... shins if it dared to disappoint him again, I knew we had to take the chance. It was time.

He nodded, and closed the menu. It was done.

We got our salads, and finished them in no time. And then, the wait began. Now, this may not have been a long wait. Who can judge these things. But it was filtered through the endless prism of 5 years of dashed All You Can Eat dreams. So it seemed timeless. Epic. Eternal. And then, finally, out came the side dishes.

"That's how they get you," he said, nodding knowingly as the waiter walked away. "They fill you up with salad and side dishes." I was seated facing the front entrance, and he was facing the kitchen. He glared past me at the doors.

"But she wanted us to order the All You Can Eat. It was her idea." I tried to keep his hopes up, but feared I was setting us both up for more bitterness, more disappointment. More Salad Bar.

"That's how they get you," he muttered, eyes narrowed.

The waiting. The waiting. He fidgeted in his chair, eyes on the kitchen. They weren't going to sucker punch him twi...

"Hey!" Laughing Boy sat up. There, at my shoulder, was a man carrying a large skewer full of... Was it?

"Skirt steak?" the waiter offered.

Wordlessly, we both nodded.

And then, the unthinkable happened. The server didn't grudgingly slice thin shreds of meat from the skewer. He - I can barely believe it, even now. He slid half of the steak onto Laughing Boy's plate, and the other half onto mine. All of it! All the steak! For us!

I looked down. Lying on my plate was a piece of meat the size of my outstretched hand, freakishly long fingers and all. A mere quarter of an inch thick, but it must have been a good six ounces.

We each cut a piece and tasted it. Laughing Boy looked surprised. "That's really good!"

And then, he gasped. At my shoulder, another large skewer of beef. More beef! And we weren't even two bites into the first piece.

I was too stunned to hear what cut exactly the waiter was offering. But it was definitely beef, and turned out to be just as good as the first kind.

We finished the skirt steak, and started on the mystery beef. Not two bites into that one, Laughing Boy began to hum crazy Thanksgiving Parade Marching Band music. It couldn't be.

"Ribs?" the waiter offered, setting the thick wooden base holding the skewer down on the table.

Why yes, yes they were! I looked at Laughing Boy. It was as if Santa Claus had walked into the restaurant, pulled up a chair and said, "Hey, guy. Sorry about the pony and the new bike. Yeah, and the car. And the bikini model. I know it's a little late, but they're all waiting out front. Enjoy. Oh, and dinner's on me."

We barely had time to touch the side dishes. LB swung into the Parade Music again and again, as chicken drumsticks followed close upon the ribs, and an entire spicy sausage followed that. We were giddy with ketosis, hissing "Dancing Meat Parade" between bites and giggling. I've never seen Laughing Boy so happy, his eyes so bright. And then, I slipped.

"I'm getting full, I couldn't eat a whole sausage," I said, without thinking it through. "Would it be OK if I split that one with you?"

Laughing Boy paused, his new found faith wavering. The world teetered, tilted on its shaky axis. And then, then, slowly righted itself as he nodded. Perhaps. Perhaps there would be more meat. It was tentative, a small step. But for one brief moment, he opened himself to trust.

I couldn't even tell you what else they brought. Wave after wave of charred succulent protein, each piece juicier and more flavorful than the last. Until, finally, the server stopped at our table.


We nodded. This was real lamb. Rich, cooked as it should be. Not some dry desiccated scrap grudgingly parceled out by the half ounce.

"So, this would be the last one?" the server asked, his voice lilting up. It was, mirabile dictu, a question. A real question!

We both stopped, forks raised.

And then the heavens opened and the angels sang. Because, rather than running from our table before we could ask for anything else, the waiter stood there, looking right into our eyes. And we realized what we had been too scared to see before. That, in this magic place, we could have more. More steak, more beef, more lamb, more ribs. They really, truly meant "All You Can Eat", not "As Little As We Can Get Away With Giving You".

There would always be more meat.

And that, that was enough. Laughing Boy smiled. And shook his head. "No. We're full."

And probably left a honking tip. Can you believe I made him pay?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Would You Like Some Salad With Your Marching Band

I may have mentioned in a previous post that Laughing Boy and I love to eat. He used to work in a couple of different restaurants, so he's always unfailingly polite to and patient with the employees. He likes to overtip by varying percentages, even if things are tight for us, because he knows how thankless the job can be. And if he's disappointed or displeased with something, he always takes into consideration whether or not it is someone's fault, or it's just a really crowded night and understaffed, or even just the wrong restaurant for us.

The only exception, and I'd like to point out that they specifically asked how he liked it, was the Restaurant of the Perpetual Salad Bar incident.

Maybe five or six years ago, a restaurant opened in the LA area that is, I think, part of a chain. They have South American barbeque, all you can eat grilled meats for a set price. The waiters wear hugely baggy gaucho pants and tall, soft leather boots. Laughing Boy loves him some protein, so we were eager to try it. When we got there, the menu and our server emphasized the "all you can eat" aspect, promising that the servers would bring skewer after skewer of tri tip, filet mignon, lamb, chicken and spicy sausage to your table, as much as you wanted. Laughing Boy was glowing. But first, "Feel free to visit our salad bar."

We sat for 20 minutes dawdling over our plates of lettuce, bell peppers and tabouleh before they brought over the first skewer of meat. The place was empty except for two other couples, so the wait wasn't because they were carving their little hearts out at the other tables. Once someone finally did come by, he shaved off a walnut sized blob of chicken for each of us, and then disappeared again. And then the waitress came over and encouraged us to make another trip to the salad bar.

The gaucho meat carvers, in their flowing pants and soft black boots, huddled around the firepit, chatting and ignoring the patrons. The waitress came back, wanting to make sure she'd mentioned their salad bar. Oh, and did we know about their salad bar? Finally, after another 10 minutes, one of them brought over a skewer of glorified hot dogs, and slid a tiny canape sized slice onto each of our plates. And again, as soon as we finished that single bite, the waitress dropped by and suggested we go by the salad bar. Twice.

This went on all evening. The chicken and sausages began to come by more frequently when it became apparent that we were not going to fill up on lettuce, and only after Laughing Boy said something to the waitress. But still, not a sign of the steak or the lamb. Finally, about an hour and twenty minutes into this, a lone skewer of filet mignon showed up at the table. They cut off a slice of meat for each of us, I kid you not, the size of a pat of butter. And left. We eventually saw a piece of lamb the same size and, if memory serves, tri tip. But the last two were charred into dry inedibility, ruined by too much time over the coals, kept safe far from the patrons.

Laughing Boy, whom I did not nickname with any irony whatsoever, was bereft. And he's never happier than when we have the time and money for a decent meal at a decent restaurant. But this night, the glow was gone. There was no Santa Claus, and that pile of horse manure did not mean that, somewhere, there was a pony.

Just then, at that critical moment, the manager showed up at our table and cheerfully asked us, since they had just opened and were anxious for feed back, how the evening was. Please let us know so we can improve our blah blah blah.

Oh, dear god, no. One of the most important lessons my Dad ever taught me was one day when he said, "Don't ever ask a question you truly don't want the answer to. Because someone will answer it."

But the manager had asked, and Laughing Boy was not happy. "You guys are charging almost $30 a person, you claim to be all you can eat. For those prices, I expect a Dancing Meat Parade. Not the Salad Bar Shuffle. For what you're charging, I want a kick line of steak. A chorus line of tri tip. I want to be tossing rib bones over my shoulder like Henry the Eighth, while the guys in the baggy pants dance by, flinging piles of lamb onto my plate. Dancing. Meat. Parade."

"I didn't come here for the..." And then he paused, fixing the manager with a gimlet stare, voice dripping with contempt. "...Salad bar!"

There was more, but I can't do it justice. His voice was low and quiet, but he left them in no way confused as to his feelings. And until last night, every time the subject of all-you-can-eat Churrasco restaurants came up, his face grew dark. His jaw clenched. You could see him remembering all those skewers and skewers of meat, just sitting there, overcooking and going to waste just out of reach. Actively and pointedly not coming to our table.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Friends Don't Let Friends Drive To The Airport

Growing up, I was never allowed to say no to anything. Anything. I was scolded harshly around the age of ten because they heard me telling a friend on the phone that I did not want to come over to play. They said that if anyone, at any time, asked you to do anything you had to say yes. So they made me call her back and tell her I would come over after all. And that was just for an afternoon of sitting around her house goofing off.

If anyone at church asked my Dad if I would babysit, the answer was an automatic yes from him. Whatever I had planned did not matter and had to be cancelled. Why? Because someone else wanted something done, and what I wanted was completely irrelevant. Other people always came first.

Of course, as a teenager I was expected to say no to boys, drinks, drugs. If there was the remote chance some fun might be had, the answer was "no". But never, never, never could I put what I wanted ahead of anyone else. Ever. There were no exceptions.

The second inviolable rule was that I was never supposed to ask people to do things for me. I always had to take care of what I needed, by myself for myself. Asking for help was a last resort. Just before death, but not much sooner. This one my parents taught by example more than lectures. But it still came through loud and clear. Asking anyone, even family, for help was embarrassing and to be avoided at all costs.

This kind of selflessness can work in a closed system. A church congregation, a small town, a family. A neighborhood. Where there is accountability, if someone doesn't help out when it's their turn, there are consequences. But in the far flung wilds of Los Angeles, friendship with the wrong people can be a time sucking, energy draining succubus.

For years, my "friends" would call and ask me to drive them to the airport. Help them move. Take off from work to help them through a crisis, only to have them miraculously recover as soon as I got there because they just got called for an audition, and isn't it exciting and do I mind if they rush off. So now I'm an hour from home and have just cancelled $100 worth of work that I badly needed the money from. And they'd always say, as they ran out the door, that we'd get together soon, have lunch, dinner, see a movie. Thanks, and we miss you soooo much.

But these folks only ever called when they needed something. To borrow my ex's truck to move a refrigerator. To borrow my sleeping bags or a tent. To stay at our place for a month or two or three.

It's not entirely their fault. I was trained, early on, to answer the phone in a certain way. When someone called, no matter what I was really in the middle of, if they said, "What are you doing?", the ONLY acceptable response was, "Nothing. What do you need". And that was my cue to immediately drop everything and change all my plans to make sure that I helped them out. Now, you should realize that what they asked me to do could have been completely pointless, and I could have been in the middle of something truly life and death. That did not matter. Slap a bandage on the bloody stump and hurry over to their house.

There were endless lectures about this when I was little if my folks didn't like what I said on the phone, or how I said it. You never, ever admitted to being in the middle of anything if someone asked, because then they would feel bad that you were going out of your way. And that would be rude.

The only time you could turn them down was if you were already loaded into the ambulance on your way to the emergency room and you were too sick to tell the medics to unstrap you from the gurney. Or you were dead and couldn't be revived just long enough to babysit their two year old.

It got so bad, the people who called me over the years eventually assumed I never did anything except sit at home, doing nothing all day long, and so was free to do whatever tedious thing they didn't feel like dealing with. Why shouldn't they? No matter what time they called, day or night, I always said I was doing "nothing". How were they supposed to recognize that for the bald-faced lie that it was?

I am embarrassed to admit how long it took me to stop answering the phone that way. Decades, people. Literally decades. Plural. And I'm pretty sure my parents would, to this day, be horrified to know I've stopped. But they'll never find out, because for family, "Nothing, what do you need?" is still the only answer.

It only really hit home how one sided this was with my alleged friends when, one day, I was the one who needed to go to the airport. I had driven each of these friends to and from LAX on many occasions. In the middle of the night, at rush hour, on major holidays, last minute when they forgot to get someone to pick them up. It could take an hour or more to get to LAX from where we lived. But that didn't matter. Any time, day or night, I dropped them off and picked them up, waited for the airlines to track down their lost luggage and drove them home. But the one day I needed to go to the small airport not 10 minutes from our apartments, not a single one of them was willing to take me. Phone call after phone call, friend after friend.

It's not that I was only doing these things over the years so that I'd get something back. But when you do, say, 20-25 favors for someone and then you only ask them for one favor, one time after several years of doing anything and everything they ever called and asked you to do. And their answer is "No, I'm kinda busy today. I really need to get some laundry done". It's a wake up call, and one I heard loud and clear.

I still do favors for friends, or even strangers. And if there's a crisis or they're in tears of course I always drop whatever I'm doing and run over to help. But I don't, for example, cancel a day of paid work to sit around and wait for their cable guy to show up so they can go to the beach with their other friends. Um, not that I would ever have done that. Not more than once, anyway.

I have fewer friends these days. But the ones I do have would always drive me to the airport. Now I just need to learn that it's OK to ask them to.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Funny Face

I found this site when I was doing NaNoWriMo last year. It's supposed to be a character builder, for writers. But it's a lot of fun to do "suspect" sketches of yourself and your loved ones. It's amazing how you can stick features that are like your own together, and get something that looks nothing like you. Like this:

I tried to find the "add wrinkles and acne" setting, but I guess they don't have one. They don't have an "older, fatter and wrinklier" setting either. My anonymity is intact. I do wish I could say my hair looks better than that. But I can't lie to you. Well, I could, but it wouldn't make my hair look any better, so I don't see the point.

If you really want to laugh at yourself, make your friends and family put together ones that they think look like you. Hint: start with the chin until you get the shape right, then work on the rest.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Invisible Woman

In Los Angeles, if you're over 40, you weigh more than your average shorn market sheep, and your jean size hits double digits you might as well be invisible.

It's kind of nice.

Things to do in LA if you're Invisible:

- Go to a bar and hang out waiting for your friends without getting hit on by every sleezoid in the place. These are the exact same scum who, last decade, used to talk to your chest while they handed you their "business" cards. Yeah right, buddy. You're a producer.

- Order a salad without asking them to hold the salad dressing, cheese, croutons and flavor.

- While you're actually enjoying your food without counting every last calorie, carb, and fat gram, get the dessert. Nobody's watching, get two!

- Wear a skirt to a concert without getting your ass pinched in the crowd.

- You don't have to listen to "Smile, Honey, it's not that bad!" from every guy you pass on your way to the bank in the morning.

- Wear anything you want when you go out at night. Dress up or dress down. Please yourself, without worrying about fending off the drunks.

There's more, but it's a million degrees and I'm going to go skinny dipping in Malibu. What? I'm invisible, right? Might as well enjoy it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Man Can Paint!

Ta Da!

Laughing Boy stripped and repainted our 40 year old front door. We wanted some texture to it, so he cleaned up most of the huge dents and dings but left in just enough wear to give it some attitude. And he went for some visible brush strokes, to add some texture here and there.

We found the door knocker at an Indonesian Furniture store on La Brea. I don't have the kind of money it would take to get any of their furniture, but the door knockers are great. We narrowed it down to two, between this guy with the fish, and one with some parrots, I think.

I really like the touch of verdigris in the door knocker. (another camera phone picture, so the color here's not quite accurate.)

One thing for sure, our door is not the least bit subtle. Just like this panda.

Friday, July 21, 2006

SUV Drivin' Yoga Queen

Dear SUV Drivin' Yoga Queen,

You have no idea how relieved all of us in Hole Foods were that you made it through your Hot Hot Hot Yoga Boot Camp extravaganza yesterday. We'd all been worried for you. So thanks for bellowing all the tres intimate details into your cell phone for us. We'd hate to have missed the fact that your bikini wax was... um ... chafing.

Sorry the rest of us had the gall to traipse off to grab our vegan soy lattes and gluten free cream puffs at the exact moment you had to get to your Pilates class.

I'm sure that Hot Hot Hot Yoga Boot Camp extravaganza must have been responsible for you having such trouble parking. Why, the class must have dried out your contacts until they curled up and fell out, right in the middle of downward facing dog. And you need every bit of that vision at the Hole parking lot, I know. Thanks to us commoners, parking was a bear. I can see why you needed to take up two spots with your Rolls Royce wanna be gold plated SUV. Wouldn't want to risk a ding. And what with the 42DD implants, and the 7 carat rock on your advertising finger, that explains the drift to the left right there.

I just have one suggestion. You might want to have your yogi explain the concept of karma to you. 'Cause if you're spending $40 a visit on your private Pilates sessions, $400 a month for your private gym membership with personal trainers 4 days a week, and another hundred plus a month on your yoga classes? Maybe you could find the stamina to walk another 15 feet and put your cart away. Rather than leaving it, say, smack dab in the middle of the handicapped parking spot.

It might just seem a tiny bit selfish to some people, making the handicapped parkers get out of their cars and move your cart before they park. Although I don't know why they'd complain. You're just giving them a free workout!

But don't worry, all your fans here at the Hole know how lazy those handicapped people are! We never see them in our Hot Hot Hot Yoga Boot Camp extravaganza classes, either.


Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Touch Of Class

Banana Dog had her very first obedience class last night. If they'd been giving out grades, I'm ashamed to admit she might have flunked. She was just so overjoyed to see all the other dogs. Every time a new one showed up, she'd get so excited! I don't think she heard a word either of us said last night.

Of course, the entire time she was supposed to be learning to walk on a leash, she was looking off at all the other dogs, and shaking and whining and moaning, just dying to get over there and play. But before and after class, when she did get to greet them, she'd end up kicking them in the face, and lunging at them wildly. She just couldn't control herself, and none of them wanted to play that rough.

She'll do better next week, I know. And she's just a baby herself, even though she's already 35 pounds and not even five months old. She does great when it's just us, and we're working with her at home or on a leash out front. So she's just got to get used to all the new stuff out there in the world.

As for me, I don't think I'll need to do any weight training with my left arm any time soon. That dog can pull!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Commence Mockage in 5... 4... 3... 2...

The only time I ever had a car I loved, it was a twenty-plus year old early 60's british roadster. It would get me there, but never back. Of the 14 years I had it, it ran 7. Still, for me it was a great car and I never wanted to sell it.

I could never get away with driving one of those today. I sometimes haul around large pieces of electronic equipment for work, and you can't fit even one of those in a roadster. And when I'm scheduled for work these days, they actually expect me to show up. On time. So a car that doesn't break down is part of my transportation RDA.

My "new" car is not a great one. No one will ever envy me for having it. It has no style. It is not pretty. It looks like every other 4 door sedan out there. Frankly, it looks like a rental car. But for me, it is perfect.

Why do I love this car? Stupid reasons.

1) It has a trunk. I can now leave something in the car and run into the store for some milk without coming out to find my window broken and glass debris where my stuff used to be.

2) While it is very used, and had almost 100,000 miles on it when I bought it, it looks clean. No bondo. No doors screwed shut with plywood and drywall screws. No doors you can't open from the outside, no windows you can't roll down without a vice grip. No tail lights replaced with colored plastic, silicon gel, and/or duct tape.

2) Power steering. This is my first car ever with power steering. My last car was a late 80's mini pick up. Getting it into and out of a tight parking spot made my wrists ache.

3) Cup holders. I've got four of the suckers! I could drink an iced coffee, a diet soda, a vitamin water, and still have an empty spot for my drive thru milk shake!

4) It's an automatic. On a really bad day, it has taken me two hours and fifteen minutes in rush hour to get from one end of LA to the other for work. In a car with a bad clutch, after a 10 hour work day running gear around on concrete, when you still have to drive home? Not fun.

5) A CD player. No more bickering morning DJs for me!

Look at me, driving a car younger than your average high school senior! I'm in love with my old lady car. Can you ever forgive me?

Day off? Well, it doesn't sound familiar

Today was a true day off, in spite of all the cleaning I have left to do and the fact that I'm due in for work tomorrow at the nameless corporation to work on unidentified stuff.

Laughing Boy and I were about to get a very late lunch, and he suggested we go out to Pasadena. A long drive, but he figured we never have an entire day off just to do something because it's fun.

He's right. Since we're both freelancing, we're always running home to upload something. Or dropping by work to pick up or return some piece of equipment, or find some file that is right there on the computer, but no one else can see. Or popping out a last minute project that they need tomorrow, but didn't remember until today.

So tonight, we walked around old town, deciding between this place and that for a full 45 minutes, never mind the heat.

An Ahi appetizer, a Lemon Drop and a Cosmopolitan, and two Pepper Steaks later, we're back home with a peach tart in the fridge for dessert or breakfast, and far too pleased with ourselves.

Happy summer!

So THAT'S what a day off feels like!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Does 6 Year Old Carpet Look Like a Snack to You?

Banana Dog: You said I shouldn't eat the walls. You never said I shouldn't eat the carpet!

Well, now I have.

Sigh x2.

On the Other Hand, Wombats Haven't Attacked a Human in 200 Years

In the spirit of theme-and-variations, as the last post was all about rodents of unusual size and the delegation of death, I thought I would present the following for your consideration:






You decide...

What did you think the "W" stood for?

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Eek a gigantic rabid disease machine

Laughing Boy and I decided to buy a house a while back. Timing wise, it was about a third of the way into the insane uptick in house prices, so yay us not being completely priced out of the market.

So the house is great, for a 60'’s ranch house. Translation: stylistically boring as hell, but closet space up the wazoo.

My last house was 800 square feet and change, and only 20 sqare feet of that was closets. Enough closet space = nirvana.

The only possible downside to the new abode was a mouse in the garage.

Now, if I was going to spend all that money on a house, I wanted a two car garage with an automatic garage door opener. Because at the advanced age of 40, what with one thing or another I have never been able to drive into my own garage and park a car.

The "one thing or another"” being an ex who considered the inevitably tiny one car garage the place to store any non-running cars, motorcycles and motorcycle parts, sail boats, kayaks, carpentry tools. bicycles, camping gear, cardboard boxes full of broken camping gear and carpentry tools that don'’t work, but you never know when you'’ll need the parts off them to fix a working piece of whatever. Or something. You know, garage as prelim-rest-stop before the dump-run-that-never-happens.

So I was pretty excited that this house had a two car garage, and an automatic garage door opener. Because, hey, even if the inevitable junk moves in, we could just pile everything on one side, and park on the other. Right?

But I was not so excited about the mouse. And so, as long as he stayed, I never really pushed the "parking in the garage" idea.

Now, I'm not scared of mice in the way that I'm scared of, say, black widow spiders or cockroaches. Or of those huge flying dragon fly things that dive bomb your face as you step out of the airport in Florida. Give me an earthquake any day over prehistoric giganto-bugs dive bombing my mouth. Out here in the summer we have June bugs. I know I just mentioned the not dive bombing my face thing, so I won't digress except to point out that HEY, I WAS SLEEPING! And NOT IN THE MOUTH! Ugh.

The mice I have had the misfortune of running into, on the other hand, have been the one at a time variety, waaaaayyy over there. So we can ignore each other seeing as I am visually challenged and they are usually hiding.


Until the day that Laughing Boy and I decided to clean out the garage.

We'd been keeping the huge bags of dry dog food out there, in a plastic garbage can with a lid. The mouse had become irritated with not being able to get to the yummy Lucky Charms(tm) scented dog food, and had tried to chew through the plastic. Laughing Boy sensibly pointed out that it was time for the mouse to go. Wanting to be a good sport, and eager to actually park in the garage for which I had ponied up a butt load of money, I offered to help.

"Cleaning", if you need a translation, mostly consisted of moving huge piles of stuff from here to there, and then to over there instead. Along the way we found lots of signs (read: poop) that the mouse used to be there. But no sign that he'’d been there recently. So I was pretty relaxed as I pulled the final box out of the final cupboard.

"“Hey, I guess the mouse lef... AAargheeeee AArshe3eogsn,dflkajshd1!!! Aaaeosejrlkammvoisd!!! aaahhhjekwr!!!

The mouse, who was hiding in the final box, lept straight out of the box INTO MY FACE, and then made his escape DOWN MY ARM AND ACROSS MY HAND.

In case you missed it the first time I capitalized the sh*%t out of it, HE BOUNCED OFF MY MOUTH!

By the time I stopped screaming, the mouse was long gone.

A couple of hours later Laughing Boy, who had soldiered bravely on alone while I sulked in the house, came to report. He had captured the face-jumping mouse, and he was the cutest thing. The mouse, not Laughing Boy. Although he is too.

So I went to look, and there, in the very bottom of an empty metal garbage can, peering up at me, was the cutest gigantic rabid disease machine you'd ever seen. Not the tiny itty bitty house mouse I'd expected, but a comically big eared, huge-eyed field mouse. Blinkity blink blink, "haven't you seen a Disney(tm) movie lately" cute.

I, being the hypocrital death-delegater that I am, and the Hanta virus being what it is, slapped the lid on the garbage can and wrapped about eighty eleven bunggee cords around it. Then, I stuck it in the back of my pick up and drove the mouse out to the scrubland just outside the Angeles National Forest. Where I released him into the wild to frolick and be free. Or be eaten by a rattlesnake, hawk, coyote or barn cat. Whatever.

'Cause I'’m humane.

But karma is cranky female dog. Because almost imediately, practically before the Lysol(tm) dried on the garbage can, Laughing Boy'’s mom showed up with a bunch of stuff he'd left behind when he moved out of Arizona, and I still can't park in the garage.

Somewhere, a mouse is laughing its rabid ass off.

I Am An Animal!

You Are Animal

A complete lunatic, you're operating on 100% animal instincts.
You thrive on uncontrolled energy, and you're downright scary.
But you sure can beat a good drum.
"Kill! Kill!"

Well, the hair's about the same.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Half My Age

or Why I Am Glad I Am Not 22 Right Now

I am glad because my weekends back then looked something like this:

7:30 am - Wake up. Groan. Try to sit up. Oh yeah. Kahlua and Milk does not belong in a one quart souvenir Coke glass.

8:15 am - Stagger to the bathroom.

8:20 am - Try to brush sour milk taste out of mouth.

8:21 am - Drop toothbrush into the sink, where it picks up speed and ski-jumps out of the sink and into the toilet.

8:22 to 8:33 am - Stand there for an embarrassing length of time, trying to decide if flushing the toothbrush is really that bad an idea. The plumbing bends and the toothbrush doesn't. But. It's the toilet.

8:34 am - Fish it out, and...

8:35 am to 9:05 am - Spend 1/2 an hour disinfecting my arm. No, I do not use the toothbrush. Am proud of myself for not considering it. Which means I must have considered that it could have been considered. Rats!

9:10 am - While showering, decide that not flushing the toothbrush means I really hadn't been that drunk, and point this out to at least 6 people before the day is over.

10:00 am - give up on the idea of making it to the early Jazzercise(tm) class.

11:00 am - give up on the idea of making it to the late Jazzercise(tm) class.

12:00 noon - give up on the idea of making it anywhere that involves class.

The rest of the day goes on about like this. And then on Sunday morning, I do it all again, except instead of dropping my toothbrush into the toilet, I manage to lose a contact lens in there. Back then, you didn't get 3 months' worth and then throw them out as you used them. So a contact lens in the toilet meant I couldn't leave the house all day, because someone would have seen me in my goggle-eyed Jane Fonda in 9 To 5 glasses, and no way is that happening.

The good news is, the only pictures of the evenings that led up to these mornings are in a shoe box in my closet.

Not so for the 22 year olds of today, my friends. Not in the land of Tivo and Infomercials. Today's 22 year old? You start out crawling along a steel I-beam 50 feet off the ground while chewing cockroaches for "Fear Factor", ratchet up the evening by clawing a few eyes out on "elimiDATE", and round out the festivities with a special guest appearance french kissing your best friend while flashing your breasts for "Girls Gone Wild: Anaheim Edition". All this before you stagger back to your "Real World: Oxnard" house, sobbing and carrying your left shoe because you broke the heel when you were jello wrestling topless / doing body shots off of some girl named Amber / cat fighting the other woman on "Cheaters". And just before you turn in for the night, you remember to treat the camera crew to the perfect angle for a close up of your underwear while you instant replay your two-drink minimum into the hot tub.

See, I just know there's no way I could have made it through an evening out in today's Reality Show life if I'd kept blowing off the gym like that.

Oh. And with all those cockroach legs stuck in my teeth, I definitely would have used the toothbrush anyway.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lookin' for a Cure for the Summer Time Blues


Nothing much to say. It's hot, it's Friday, and I have - for once - a weekend ahead of me with no huge looming deadlines.

Next weekend isn't looking so good, as Laughing Boy's mom is coming to stay and I've got so much cleaning to do before then I already feel faint.

So, in honor of what will probably be my only summer weekend before work kicks back up to mortgage-sustaining levels, I give you a list of links that speak to the kid in me:

Super Hero Blogging with a punching-the-clock vibe.

Everything you wanted to know about Blue Bubble Gum Soda. (thanks to "A Whole Lotta Nothing" for finding this one!)

If your life's not enough of a thrill ride these days, check out these Roller Coasters.

For anyone who ever sang "I'm Gonna Eat Some Worms" at summer camp, you've got to check out Steve, Don't Eat It, at The Sneeze. But not around dinner time. Trust me.

And, last but gloriously not least, if you're bored (?!?) with plain old S'mores, here are some recipies that throw in everything but the dreaded tuna casserole.

And no, I'm not giving you a link for that. Because no more tuna casserole is the third best thing about growing up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Corner Deli

I hear people talking about home, and they don't just mean their houses. They expand their definition of home to encompass their neighborhoods, their schools, their stores and post offices.

I grew up in places that were spread out. We had to get into the car to drive to the grocery store, to church, to high school. I never had, never lived in, the kind of neighborhood where you walked to the one diner, the main street with the few stores, the one post office.

I don't know if that's why I never felt like I actually belonged any one place. I love the Bay Area, but the places I loved - and still love - were too far apart to mesh into a single "place" in my brain. A place I belonged.

I still think, deep down, that some day I will live in a place with a corner deli, and the diner where I go every morning for coffee. You know, the one that's right across the street from the post office where they ask about my folks.

I blame it on watching Andy Griffiths stroll down the street in Mayberry once too often.

Sense of Smell

11 Things I Love the Smell Of

Fresh basil
Wet earth and pine needles
Cookies baking
Clean hair
A smoking pipe
Clean laundry

11 Things I Hate the Smell Of

Dried basil
Coffee breath
Heated creosote for street repairs
Dirty tennis shoes
Cat Boxes
Flower vase water
Chips Ahoy(tm)
Dirty hair
An ashtray
Hamster cages
Clothes hampers

Reading over the list above it became apparent to me that, while it is in the use of things that life happens, they seldom come out of it smelling better.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Merlot or Bust

I don't like being told what to do.

I'm not bragging, believe me. But my Dad was a minister, and my Mom was a teacher/minister's wife, so there was a LOT of telling. And telling, and telling and telling. It wasn't malicious or uncaring, by any means. But they had three kids, and no time or energy to open the floor for discussion. Short answer, once the ink dried on my college diploma I was officially done with ever being told by anybody what to do, think, wear, want or like.

I hope I haven't spent my time and energy waving my choices like a red flag in front of other people's angry bulls. But my feeling is, everyone gets their own sandbox and their own toys. Unless you've got an engraved invitation, don't come over and tell me how to play with mine.

So, apparently unlike most of the people on the planet, the movie "Sideways" did not embarrass me into eschewing Merlot for Pinot Noir under pain of public humiliation. Even when I really think the Syrah sounds perfect, there's still a good chance I'll go ahead and order the Merlot. Why, you ask?

Because some screenwriter is not going to decide what I drink with my dinner.

I know, I know. It's ridiculous. You may commence the mocking just as soon as I finish pouring this glass of Merlot.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

No Lucky Charms For Me

Banana Dog's dry dog food smells freakily like the dusty debris in the bottom of an empty Lucky Charms box, minus the fake vanilla marshmallowy smell.

If I'm going to eat breakfast in the morning, it needs to not smell like dog food.

Monday, July 10, 2006

These are the CDs the Angels Play in their Cars

If they've got any taste in music, Cassandra Wilson's CDs are the ones the Angels pop into their car stereos during their commute to heaven.

I have a hard time picking a favorite song or album, but Traveling Miles, and "Blue Light 'Til Dawn" are two of my favorite CDs. If you can hear "Sankofa", from "Blue Light 'Til Dawn", without your entire body breaking out in spontaneous goosebumps, you need new ears.

She also has a unique and fascinating talent for taking a song you've heard again and again, and making it into a song you realize you've never really heard at all. "Time After Time", "Crazy", and "Fragile" all spring to mind as good examples of her talent.

Buy her CDs now, thank me later!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How I Spent My Weekend

How I Spent My Weekend, by Banana Dog

For my weekend,

I climbed the furniture… with my toy.

I played… with my toy.

I watched TV… with my toy.

I took a nap… with my toy.

It was fun.

Panda: We may have to stage an intervention.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Dear 20-Something Girl In The Checkout Line

Dear 20-Something Girl at the Ralphs That Sunday,

I realize that I may have been a bit too delighted that I was, at the advanced age of 43, carded. And thank you, I did indeed realize that it did NOT mean she thought I was 21.

In California, they are required to card you even if you look like you might have recently been 32 or so. Cut me some slack, Snide Eye-Rolling Sneering Girl. I reserve the right to be delighted if, at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning without make-up on, they don't offer me the Senior Citizen discount. That anyone might give me the benefit of the doubt that there's a POSSIBILITY I could be under 40 gives me the right to spike the ball in the end zone.

I'm just saying. The loud "whispered" snark (BTW you had 14 items in the 12 items or less line, so at least I can count...), the sneer AND the full-body eye roll may have been a bit much. Next time, pick one. And if there is any justice in the world, when you are 43 they'll be asking to check your AARP membership card.

PS. For the rest of you, if you were wondering why I was buying alcohol at 7:30 on a Sunday morning... Gosh, that's exactly what my Dad wanted to know.

PPS. I know. I'm sure that was officially the last time ever. But still. It was a good Sunday. Champagne Brunch for EVERYONE!

Friday, July 07, 2006

My Secret Magazines

I keep them in a stack under the bed, where I can pull them out when I need to. I open them up and look at the pictures. I'll take one of those, and one of those, and...

Laughing Boy walks in. And I shove the Interior Decorating magazine under the pillow, so he won't see.

I can't help myself. The first time I bought them, I actually needed to pick a paint color for something. Even though I can't paint. I mean, I am physically capable of painting. But it always goes so horribly wrong. I have no hand eye coordination or depth perception. And somehow, no matter how careful I am, I never mastered the trick of loading just the right amount of paint onto the brush or the roller. So I end up dripping and splattering. And then I bump the roller into the one wall I was going to leave the old color, for contrast. And the brush marks and stray bristles are everywhere.

I tried to repaint a kitchen one time. I washed with TSP. I scrubbed. I prepped. I sanded twice, with two grades of sand paper. I primered with the expensive stuff. And still, on one of the four walls and two of the cupboards, the paint slumped down in huge melty horror movie swags. The wall actually rejected the paint.

But that doesn't keep me from buying the magazines. And I'll read them, and show the pictures to Laughing Boy. "The bedroom would be great this color..." "What do you think of this one?" "I'd love these colors for the master bath..."

I just hope the guys never start doing that with their secret magazines.

Every time, though, he nods and makes some noncommittal noises. Sometimes he even kisses my forehead. Which makes him a saint. Because he knows who will be doing the actual painting. Did I tell you he can paint perfect trim, and edge anything, without using painters' tape?

I love that man.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Don't Get My Knickers in a Knot

When I said in the last post that the Granny Panties my Mom bought me for a Christmas present were evil, I did not mean to imply in any way that my Mother is evil. They have done the x-rays, and there is officially not one evil bone in her body. Nor did I mean that there is anything wrong with getting underwear for Christmas, besides the obvious fact that it's not a pony or a yacht or a diamond tiara or anything.

No, the evilness of these particular panties, these panties with a capital P, was in the enormity of the coverage provided. The sheer acreage of wildflower sprigged cotton. The audacity of making the flower print so tiny. They obviously thought someone would be fooled into thinking that the back-end wedged into them was just as dainty. This is not a nosegay of wildflowers, no sir. This is an infinite meadow. Thousands of cotton balls lost their lives for this sucker.

And they fit.

No, You Can't See My Panties

In spite of the Evil-X-LARGE-Granny-Panties-As-Christmas-Present that my Mom bought me one year, back when I was a professional dancer (no not THAT kind. I wore real clothes. Top AND bottom. For the entire time), and my IQ was beating my weight hands down. The very panties I have been mocking for the last decade and a half, as in "Yeah, I may be heavier now, but at least I don't fit the Granny Panties". In spite of the fact that as of this month, the Granny Panties actually fit my swollen, bulbous butt, it seems I am moderate in all things, a veritable medium in the Personality Profile of life.

Your Five Factor Personality Profile


You have medium extroversion.
You're not the life of the party, but you do show up for the party.
Sometimes you are full of energy and open to new social experiences.
But you also need to hibernate and enjoy your "down time."


You have medium conscientiousness.
You're generally good at balancing work and play.
When you need to buckle down, you can usually get tasks done.
But you've been known to goof off when you know you can get away with it.


You have medium agreeableness.
You're generally a friendly and trusting person.
But you also have a healthy dose of cynicism.
You get along well with others, as long as they play fair.


You have medium neuroticism.
You're generally cool and collected, but sometimes you do panic.
Little worries or problems can consume you, draining your energy.
Your life is pretty smooth, but there's a few emotional bumps you'd like to get rid of.

Openness to experience:

Your openness to new experiences is medium.
You are generally broad minded when it come to new things.
But if something crosses a moral line, there's no way you'll approve of it.
You are suspicious of anything too wacky, though you do still consider creativity a virtue.
The Five Factor Personality Test

If Life were truly Evil, the Gigantic Panties that Swallowed Southern California would be too tight. For now, life is good.

But I'm still starting that diet.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Speeding Towards Old

But at least I'll be too blind to stop when I get there.

I have had glasses since I was 5. Twice, I've spent months wearing an eyepatch that left me looking like an extra on Pirates of the Caribbean. I was pretty psyched, the first time. When you're 5, you can work a pirate's eye patch. For the first week, I threw in a peg-leg limp and a scowl. I even sometimes remembered to scrunch one shoulder up, hoping the other kids would think I'd just left the parrot home. I was sure someone would assume I was a pirate transfer student, from wherever pirate toddlers went to preschool. Yes, I was that pathetic. During my entire school career, that's the closest I ever came to "cool".

These days, without my glasses my eyesight is 803,496:20. Which means what you can see from 803,496 feet away, I have to be 20 feet from before I'll even notice it.

I can't find my glasses unless I have my glasses on.

"Wow, that's bad," you're thinking. But not bad enough, my friends. No, my four way astigmatism wasn't complicated enough for my health care provider. I'm sure you think you know where I'm going with this. Reading glasses, right? Oh, please. That would be too easy. Bifocals you say? Ha! I scoff at your lowly bifocals. My doctor wants to fix me up for trifocals.

Even better was his next suggestion. He suggested that I pay umpteen thousand dollars for lasik eye surgery, and THEN get bifocals to indulge the rest of my viewing issues.

Surgery, and I still come out of this looking like Grandma Walton. I'm not paying for elective surgery unless I'm coming out of it able to read the VIN number on his brand new Porsche from the roof of his building. I want Robocop Steve Austin nightvision laser cannon eyesight. I want to be able to simultaneously see the space trash we left on the moon with my left eye, while reading the fine print in magazine pharmaceutical ads with my right. In the dark. Blindfolded.

Trifocals, my *@&.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Dear Sir And/Or Madame

Dear Sir and/or Madame:

I am forced to contact you regarding your Electric Can Opener, model number 763802022938

I would like to preface my request by stating for the record that I, contrary to popular opinion, am not the most mechanically challenged person on the planet. With all due modesty, I can merely hope to one day aspire to reach the top 100, if I'm lucky. Until then, in my defense I would like to point out that I have, over the years: gapped the spark plugs on a Mustang convertible, changed the brakes on my car, assembled furniture from Ikea, eskimo rolled a kayak, sailed a boat, driven a motorcycle, sewn fully jointed teddy bears from scratch, snapped the grommets on a very cold british roadster soft top, changed 6 tires, and refinished 3 pieces of furniture and 4 wood floors. All without dying or mishap worth mentioning. And no, you may not fact check that with my ex. Suffice it to say, in my estimation, I am proven to be moderately capable of most... okay, some things.


I grew up in the Bay Area. A place where unnecessary use of electricity is frowned upon with the cold fury only a mob of liberals, or a Republican faced with paying for something out of their own pocket, can foment. Also, and essential to this story, the assumption was that all cooking be done with completely homemade ingredients. I once made ketchup. From scratch. With tomatoes grown by me. Organically. No, it was not fiscally wise. But morally, we stood proud. In short, we did not need to own one of your fine Electric Can Openers, because we did not use canned goods.

So you can see why it is only now, at the cusp of the second half of the first decade of the twenty first century, that I have become acquainted with the Electric Can Opener and the use thereof.

I have a small dog who will only eat enough of her dry food to keep flesh on her bones if I mix a small amount of wet food into her kibble. After my 3rd manual can opener in six months became too dull or distorted to cut through wet waxed paper, my boyfriend began to campaign for an Electric Can Opener. As he's originally from Arizona, you will understand that in his experience any and all unnecessary arm movement between April and October causes instant death from heat exhaustion.

Given my background, you can also understand why, at the advanced age of 40-something (without a subpoena, that's all you're getting), actually owning an Electric Can Opener had never crossed my mind. But he's a good man, and I like to make him happy. Especially since, unlike my ex, it doesn't involve adultery, 80 proof, and the phrase, "Beer me, &#@!".

So I tossed off my prejudices and I went out and comparison shopped. I was intrigued to find your sleek, black plastic model with the handy bottle opener built right into the back. A sound addition to the functionality of your fine product, I concede. That must have been some marketing meeting.

But I would like to suggest one small improvement, if I may. It is visually difficult to line up the middle of the can with the exact "sweet spot" that will allow the mechanism to puncture the can and subsequently rotate. I may be wrong, but the sweet spot on your model 763802022938... Well, it moves. I can't prove it, but - with my apologies to Galileo Galilei - "And yet it moves". Every can I open takes five or six tries, and ends up topped with festive paper streamers where the label used to be. It looks like I hired Edward Scissorhands to feed the dogs. I normally wouldn't mind, but it has gotten so bad, even the Shi Tzu is embarrassed for me.

If you could maybe put a small indicator on your can openers, with which I could line up my can. Or, if it's not too much trouble, some removable can guidance bumpers. I think this may assist in my remedial can-opener training sessions.

Thank you.

How To Know They're Lying

They are lying if any sentence begins with the following:

- I don't mean to be rude, but...

- There I was, minding my own business...

- God no (your name here), I would never do that to you!

- I would hate to get a reputation for**
...not paying on time
...bouncing checks
...not being truthful
...(insert misc. vice here...)

It is amazing how many people will announce to your face exactly what they're already planning on doing to you by, out of the blue, denying it for no apparent reason.

Unfortunately, none of these will help you when listening to our current administration. I think with them, your hint has got something to do with their lips moving.

Happy Independence Day!

** This lovely ditty means that they already have a reputation for what ever vice they've listed, and they're trying to see if you've heard it. If so, they'll have to hire someone else, as you won't buy their lies and excuses for nearly as long as someone who doesn't know what they're really like.

Monday, July 03, 2006

I Don't Like To Shop

There, I said it. I'll even say it again. I don't like to shop.

The fluorescent lights, the parking, the crowds.

I don't want to spend $89 for a gauzy summer skirt. And how did every "summer" skirt become completely transparent at the exact moment slips became obsolete? No, I don't want a renaissance for slips and girdles. I want other people to not be absolutely certain from 3 blocks away that I ran out of clean laundry and had to resort to the flowered granny panties.

I don't want to spend three hours looking for a shirt with sleeves that are made from the same fabric as the rest of it.

I don't want to buy gabardine pants. I don't want to know what gabardine is.

I don't want pleats.

I don't want to have to buy a dress that I can't get into or out of without a "dressing buddy". I know it's the only thing in the entire department store that fits me and isn't chartreuse. Or see through (see above). But if I can't reach the zipper, what would I do if there were an earthquake, and I was pinned to the floor by the blink-and-you'll-miss-it trendy again/not handkerchief hem? I'd have to chew my own skirt off to escape.

Oh sure, my baby Lab, Banana Dog, would cheerfully eat through it for me. But you can't guaranteed that when I am trapped by eathquake debris in my hemline-challenged dress, my puppy will be with me. She could be out in the yard digging a hole for her new in ground hot tub/jacuzzi at the time. I think that's what she's excavating for. She's being decidedly tight-lipped about her plans other than Dig More.

But, alas. It is summer, I have not purchased any new clothes (except for work clothes) in two years, and my boyfriend, Laughing Boy, has finally admitted under duress that he has never liked my one and only daytime casual skirt. In his favor, he has told me every time I have worn it that I look beautiful. So I can't blame him for finally, after two long blue-skirted years, resorting to honesty under interrogation. But I wish his confession had come with a brightly wrapped present, in a large.

So that I would not have to go to the mall.

I Have A Confession...

Well, there's no point trying to hide it. You would find out eventually...

You Are 60% Weird

You're so weird, you think you're *totally* normal. Right?
But you wig out even the biggest of circus freaks!

You ran away, didn't you.

I think you dropped your sunglasses.

Hello? Hello?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Made you look!

She was in the same room as I was, so I didn't think anything of it. First mistake, when you have a baby lab in the house.

Skritch, skritch, skritch.

I stopped for a minute, listening. It sounded like one of her beef knuckles, or beef leg bones. The baked ones from the pet store, that the vet and the breeder said were safe for her to chew on.

I went back to working on my laptop.

Skritch, skritch, skritch.

I got up, and went to look. I peered around the corner, but (second mistake) didn't go around the corner. She was licking the wall. I didn't see any damage, just her wet tongue marks on the wall. So I said, "No!" and gave her one of her approved chew toys (15 of them strewn around, at least 3 within her reach at the time).

I got back to work. Laughing Boy came out and sat on the couch to watch TV. Banana Dog jumped up on the couch to greet him.

"What are you chewing on? Give!" He looked, and it was a swatch of paint, layers of white, green and orange. Wait, those are the colors under the paint in the front hall...

Jumped up to look. Yup.

She actually ate through the plaster down to the lath. Paint and plaster and all. All eaten. Oh, a few crumbs on the floor, but the rest was dog snacks.

Fortunately, Laughing Boy is in the process of refinishing the front door (behind a gate, where she can't reach) and walls, and we'd already tested all the paint layers for lead. Lead free, at least.

But how - and more importantly, why - does a dog with 15 chew toys, 3 real bones, 2 compressed beef and bone-meal bones, and a full bowl of dog food all within 15 feet of her EAT A WALL.

I guess I should be grateful it wasn't drywall and fiberglass insulation like this friend of a friend's lab. I sprayed the wall with the bitter spray they're supposed to hate, and gave her a "No!" scolding. For all the good it will do.

Sigh. I know I mentioned it, but I LOVE her play pen.

Meet the Collective

All the pictures are taken with my camera phone, so they are fuzzy. That's Handsome Boy, above. His sister, the Princess, is below.

And this is Doodles. Not very bright, but a very sweet dog. Unfortunately, her favorite form of political protest is peeing on the floor. When you're that small, how many ways do you have to make your displeasure known, after all? We bought a small wet vac and a steam cleaner, and try to get through her usually infrequent "complaints".

Exept for some fish, and Laughing Boy and me of course, that's it. For the record, the rest of us have found forms of expressing our defiance of the current status quo that do not include peeing on the floor.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

What is the sound of one post posting?

It's hot today, as June in the LA area usually is. I took the Banana Dog to the local park (not a dog park...) last night, and she had a blast. She goes absolutely ballistic when she sees another dog, and can't understand why they just walk by when she wants to say "Hi". We have another dog at home, but she's tiny and old (inherited from my boyfriend's grandmother) and she won't have anything to do with Banana Dog. At all. We are keeping the house split into Banana's half and Doodles' half. (No, these aren't their real names. Yes, they're relieved too.) Just for now. Until Banana is old enough to start some real training and learn some manners. Doodles is so small Banana could do some serious damage as she gets older and bigger. The cats, of their own volition, prefer Doodles' half.

The boyfriend, who's in a similar line of work, is sleeping in today. A full time musician in a former life, he still is most functional when he can sleep until 2 pm and stay up until 4 or 5 am. I'm a night owl myself, so I can understand. Although I'm more of a 11 am-to-2 am person. The good news is that the few hours I have to myself before Laughing Boy gets up are a great time to get some me-things done, if I can find some caffeine and get myself moving.

Today, though, is all about checking in on some of my old-favorite and new-favorite blogs. I'm new to having a blog, obviously. But I have been reading several of them regularly for a couple of years.

I haven't told my boyfriend or any of my other friends about the blog yet. Don't know why. I think it's because I want to see what I have to say when it's just me.