Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Re-enacting Classic Films: Twelve Angry Men

Also Titled: "The Hello Kitty Come to Jesus Talk"

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Eee Eee! I'm A Monkey!

We knew that. The question is whether I am an agitated squirrel monkey, a wedge-capped capuchin monkey (I DID get a pretty bad haircut last time, so it might be this one), or a cotton-topped tamarin.

"Watch a video of chimpanzees sometime. Our closest animal relatives love to repeat notes. 'Ooo,' they say. 'Ooo ooo ooo' comes next. It's not just chimps: most primates produce vocalizations in which similar notes are repeated over and over. Agitated squirrel monkeys fill the air with a variety of twitters, chatters, and cackles. Wedge-capped capuchin monkeys deliver hehs and huhs in rapid cadences. The cotton-top tamarins that I studied with Charles Snowdon squeak 'Eee!' when they see a tasty treat like a mealworm, but the one note easily turns into a barrage of 'Eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee, eee' as they get more excited."*

One clue: You're going to hear some "Eee eee eee eee eee eee eees" from me if you open a bag of corn chips in my presence.

*From "The Other End of the Leash: Why We Do What We Do Around Dogs" by Patricia McConnell**
**I have a dog named Lily.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Beat the Egg Whites into WHAT?

I read a lot of recipes this weekend--in magazines and in My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes. While My Ancient Family Recipe Box recipes have some problems, I think I prefer them to the ones I read in magazines:

1) From a magazine: "Beat the egg whites into voluptuousness." Huh? You used to "Beat egg whites until stiff" or "Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks." I do not think I have ever met a voluptuous egg white. I beat them until they loll about bosomily in a negligee eating bonbons?
2) The directions for some recipes are eight paragraphs long. This is seven paragraphs too many.
3) In contrast, the recipes in My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes assume the cook already knows how to make the dish--key ingredients are often left out, many give NO directions, sometimes the oven temperature is not specified. Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much.

Take a gander at these recipes from My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes. You will detect a strong flavor of Depression-era cooking (i.e., eggless, butterless, milkless--possibly features grasses and bark). Please note: "Rubber donuts" do not include rubber; they are called this because they flip themselves over (BOUNCE!) when they're frying (I'd stand far back during this process, holding a fire extinguisher, if I were you). The apple crisp recipe on the bottom meets my gold standard for directions. Short, simple, to the point. WHAT I MADE THIS WEEKEND
1) Far Left: "Chow Mein Chewies." Easiest cookie ever. Yes, it DOES look kind of gross (if you closed your eyes, you'd like it right away). I assure you, it's a wee symphony of salty cashews and sweet, sweet chocolate.
2) In the Middle: George Washington Hats. The George Washington Hat on the top turned out pretty well. I put too much jam into the one on the bottom, so we'll just call it a Jam Stripey. What the hell.
3) Far Right: A basic tollhouse cookie on the top; a freakish tollhouse cookie on the bottom. The last batch all turned out like the ones on the bottom. They're very good, but I think I inadvertently flattened them out by adding too much baking soda. So, we'll just call them: "Tollhouse Lacies." See how that works?

This is Step One of many steps in the George Washington Hat Experience (a recipe that leaves out flour amounts, measurements, and oven temperature--fortunately, I was a ninja at making these when I was nine and I remember):
I loved hearing about what other people found in places they moved into. Here are photos of the stuff I found. The elderly woman made rugs. I think I'll resist the impulse to make a rug, too. That just smacks of the plot of a bad Lifetime movie called "The Haunting of Sparkle Plenty" in which a frazzled heroine (who formerly played a role on Beverly Hills 90210) starts making rugs, gets visited by the restless spirit of the old lady who has a secret beyond the grave, and starts spooking around wearing the old lady's clothes and trying to solve the mystery. Not a good idea.

(Anyone left? Anyone still here? Who's snoring? Who just threw that spitball?)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hey! I've Got A Really Big Idea!

Oh, man. I dearly love a sight gag. Can you guess how big this lightbulb is? It would probably be easier if I posed it next to a new-fangled bulb...Suffice it to say: It's biii-ig. Texas big.

I found this lightbulb in an old bureau in the basement of the cottage I just moved into. There was some other stuff in the bureau: a giant box of safety pins, a whole drawer full of lightbulbs (including this jumbo one that I cleaned up and put on the shelf with my old issues of Popular Mechanics--that just seems right), and a bottom drawer that almost made me cry because it was full of the kind of stuff grandmas collect. I think I'll take photos of the stuff in the bottom drawer and put 'em up here 'cause I kind of like the stuff.

For the most part, this is the LEAST creepy stuff that I've ever found in a place I've moved into. In the house I owned, I found some super-creepy items in the crawl-space (c'mon, you know you'll never find anything good and wholesome in a crawl-space), including a long rolled-up carpet that I fled from because it screamed "Former owner inside!" and a devil-possessed-lookin' little statue of a sailor that my sister immediately named "Cap'n Entrails."

1) What kind of cool stuff* have you found in a new place you've moved into? Anything?
2) How big is the lightbulb in the picture?
3) What's your really big idea for the weekend? I'm gonna make cookies to send to a friend and to give to my next door neighbor--the elderly man with the backhoe who plowed my driveway with said backhoe last week.

Happy Friday!

*Please note: It doesn't have to be Antique Roadshow cool to count. ("Oh, my! You mean this little helmet is worth $1,000,000? Wait. It WOULD have been worth $1,000,000 if I hadn't dabbed that little dibble of Wright's silver polish on it? What is it worth now? WHAT?" Thud)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

People Are A Mystery To Dogs

1) WTF? They put fruit on their heads?
2) OMG. They put fruit on their heads and they rub stuff into their armpits that smells weird? If they wanna change the way they smell, why don't they just go ROLL in something? Something nice and earthy?
3) WTF? Why don't they want to sniff this pole with me? Idiots! Nimrods! This pole has a nice, splintery nose with a nutty undertone that carries hints of telecommunications and a layered bouquet of several large german shepherds. This is a two-hour sniffin' pole.
4) OMG. That squirrel is asking for it. It is BEGGING to be barked at and chased. Barked at! Chased! Barked at! Chased! What's with this, "It's just a squirrel, honey," nonsense. IT'S A SQUIRREL! IT'S A FREAKIN' SQUIRREL, YOU FOOL!
5) So, let me get this straight. You talk into the little box and you watch the big box? And, you do these things when there is a big, fat squirrel outside taunting you? FOOL!
6) Look. I like to eat some things that you don't like to eat. And you like to eat some things that I don't like to eat. Let's just accept that, okay? Now, give me the damn silica gel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Effect of Silica Gel on Dogs

No, no! Kidding. Just kidding. Lily is juuuuuuust fine. When photographed, I think that Lily has two basic looks: (1) Soulful; (2) Soccer hooligan. Here is Soulful (actually caught in the act of beginning to try to consume the fringe on the blankie):
And, of course, soccer hooligan:
I think I took this photo at a Drury Inn & Suites hotel, which I highly recommend for people traveling with pets and children, as well as those without pets and children who enjoy big rooms at good prices, free breakfast (including all of the items listed in the breakfast poll), nice staff, and free booze and snacks. Not The Ritz, but comfy!

Let it be said that, unless Pizza suddenly surges ahead, Bacon, Eggs, and Taters has won the breakfast poll...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Actual Transcript of a Phone Call

"ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline. Because our services are free, we will need to charge you $60 for the information provided during this call. Please have a major credit card number handy. Dial 1 to speak with a case representative."

Dials 1.

"ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline, this is Mary. Where are you calling from?"

"The sunporch!"

"No, no. Tell me your state, please."

"Well, I'm in an agitated state. I'm definitely agitated and worried about my dog!"

Mary sighs. Asks a lot of questions about dog.

"So, what substance did your dog ingest, ma'am?"

"See, I was unpacking these lamps from Target, and they had these little packets of silica gel and one slipped away from me. I HATE silica gel. All I do is throw those little packets away and they're a nuisance. You CANNOT eat them. It says that on the package. What GOOD are they? My dog has EATEN SOME."

"How much has your dog eaten?"

"I don't know! It's a little package about 1" by 1". It's like a little PILLOW of silica. I don't know! Maybe a quarter of a little pillow--and some of it spilled--and the whole package is maybe a tablespoon? I don't know! I DON'T EAT IT!"

"Did she eat any of the wrapper?"

"Well, I guess so. She must have. She opened it with her teeth, so I think that' s likely. Not all of it. Perhaps the top 1/8th of the packet."

"Yes, yes, okay. I'm looking up information now. You do realize that you will be charged for this free advice, miss?"


backstory--I have already tried to look up info on the Web and have found everything from "YOUR DOG WILL DIE" to "THIS SOAKS UP ALL LIQUID IN YOUR DOG AND WILL FREEZE-DRY YOUR DOG" TO "MY BEAGLE LOVES SILICA! IT MAKES HER COAT GLOSSY!"

"So, what we are finding is that we are not concerned at all about your dog. She should be fine. Please watch her to see if she vomits. If she does, withhold food and water for two hours and then give her ice chips, gradually building up to small sips of water and food."

"Okay, okay, okay! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I bet you want my credit card now, right?"

"Yes. You now have a case file open, so if anything else happens you can call back and the information will be free."

"Okay. What else might happen? Is there anything else I should look for? Symptoms? Any symptoms?"

"No, no. We're not worried. Just the vomiting."

Who is we?


Silica gel: I hate you. Much like the ASPCA's advice you are free, and yet you cost me $60.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Best Epitaph for Bobby Fischer

1) Check.
2) Checkmate.
3) "But death said he never played chess before."

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Go read Clinky the Boy Robot's blog today. He the man.

Well, no. He the robot.

But, he might be a man.

He the manbot.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008





Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dude...Where's My Colander?

Dear Sparkle,

Okay, it's time to do a post-move post-mortem.

1) Next time, do not get deathly ill during moving week. Please. Just don't do it. Especially if you have a project to complete, too. Bad idea, okay?
2) Next time, try to buy labels far enough in advance so that you do not have to resort to "Hello My Name Is..." tags for your boxes. Yes, it's friendly. Yet, it just doesn't seem quite right.
3) Next time, try to buy magic markers that--after inhaling deeply of their brain-bending inky mojo as you label 56 boxes of books--don't make you see magic elves capering across the highway beckoning to you. Breathe deeply. Yes. You can still smell the markers, can't you? Your lungs burn. Don't do that again.
4) Next time, try to label boxes better. Labeling a box "Hello, My Name Is...Old Weird Stuff" is not helpful and, post-move, will not rapidly alert you that the lamp you are seeking (muttering bleakly, "I bet it's still on the truck") is cozily snuggled up in a piece of vintage japanese kimono fabric in the bottom of said Old Weird Stuff box.
(But, I'll give you this, it IS a good idea to indicate that two of the 56 boxes of books contain "Best Books" that you'll want to read at bedtime as you settle in--as is true of these Rex Stout, Betty McDonald, and Galbraith books.)
5) Next time, remember that the puppy will not help pack, unpack, or deploy goods. She WILL accept snacks, however.
And, while she will not shelve books, she WILL sniff them.
6) Next time, remember to get a boot rack or thin the herd of shoes--one or the other. For example, isn't it time to throw away the Doc Martens? You know there's a hole on the side of the left one. Oh. Oh, sure. You'll "get them fixed."
7) Good job! Games SHOULD go on the mantel.
8) Good job! That can stay there for right now.
9) Good job! You got the first shelf of Popular Mechanics done, with "display issues"; only three more shelves to go.
10) Good job! That magic scale looks good next to the magic bowl of tangerines.
11) GREAT SCOTT! It's a chupacabra! Let her out! Let her out into the back yard immediately! One can see the bloodlust in her eye. Either that or it's a clumsily-applied bit of techno-trickery. No! Bloodlust! It must be! Lock your doors, neighborhood goats! Bar your windows!
To Sum Up: I moved!

Sunday, January 6, 2008