Wednesday, August 31, 2005


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If it were possible to embrace an entire city, I would right now.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Good Day for Indignation

Because we should defend this great land, even if it's inhospitable to human life.

It's a Gas

My mother used to tell me about the energy crisis in the '70s. "We used to line up for blocks to get gas. It was nuts." She used to tell me this story during the boom time of the late 1990s, when gas cost less than one dollar per gallon. Gallons of bottled water cost more than gallons of gas. I babysat once a week and it was enough to fuel my Taurus for the week.
My, how times have changed.
Now that we've determined that hurricane Katrina was a huge structural and human catastrophe for the South, the rest of us are going to face the economic impact that shuttering oil refineries will have. Grab your ankles, kids, because you're about to take it at the gas pump.
Since I don't have a car and I don't pay for heat at my apartment, my first thought was that I'd escape relatively unscathed from the problems. Then the Whatever and I turned on NPR to hear the report on gas prices going up faster than a diver that saw a big, hungry shark.
"I'm going to have to start taking the bus to work," he commented.
As I looked at all the other cars careening into the city on the Jamaciaway, I thought about it. I'd have to chip in on gas for the Whatever's car since he brings me into the city most days out of the week, will bring me home to pick up a change of clothes for work, and will take me places if I ask nicely. I wondered if all the owners of the other cars were as nervous as I was. I don't mind helping him out since he helps me, but it will make a dent in our social lives if $3 a gallon actually happens.
Then I realized that T fares will go up since they need to fuel their busses. It's not as expensive as fueling a private vehicle, but still, another added expense.
Then I realized food prices will go up since shipping Pop-Tarts and Doritos will be more expensive since the companies will have to pay the elevated gas prices.
Then I realized that if the heating costs are astronomical this winter, my landlord will raise my rent next year.
Then I realized that we're all fucked.
Seriously. I think it's hard for Americans to realize that oil is not an endless resource. We're the ungrateful teenagers, and the rest of the world is all, "We're not an endless source of money for your entertainment. Why don't you fatties go for a walk and not use so much damn gas?" I don't want to turn into a stereotypical liberal Massachusetts resident, but I'd seriously consider buying a hybrid if I need a car because this shit's gonna get uglier before it gets better.
There's been talk of freeing up the oil reserves, but that won't help prices much. The problem lies in not being able to refine the oil into gasoline and heating oil, not the lack of crude oil. If it would help, I'll take a day off next week and strain some oil through some cheesecloth at home.

Poor Unfortunate Souls

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There's something about watching the coverage of a natural disaster before it hits that's like MSG in food-- I just can't get enough. I'm one of the assclowns who watches channel 7 non-stop during a blizzard to stay up to date. Why? I'm in the blizzard. I know it's snowing. If I wanted to tell if it was slowing down or getting more intense, I could hang my head out the window and see. So Sunday night while I was semi-consciously doing my freelance work, I turned on the news to watch people prepare for the hurricane.
I don't relish the fact that so much damage is about to come to people. Kristen's most excellent roommate Colleen just moved to Boston from New Orleans, and I can't imagine how worried she must be about the people she knows there. I worry about the elderly people who don't have anyone to look after them and encourage them to leave. I care a little bit about the people who are too fucking stupid to get the hell out of the way of an oncoming storm and stay in their rickety homes.
The problem I have is with the media coverage after one of these disasters. Today I was watching the Today show over my bowl of Kashi, and they were interviewing this guy who stayed in his house for the storm, his house got flooded so he rode his son's surfboard to the attic, somehow put a hole in his roof, climbed out and clung to a tree for hours until someone got him down. Now, this is a sad thing, and I am glad the guy is okay. But why is it that they always find the one stereotypical guy to interview for these stories? This guy had a handlebar mustache and a flannel shirt that was tattered and unbuttoned until halfway down his chest. All they needed was a busted-up replica of the General Lee in the background of the shot and a big neon sign that read "REDNECK!" pointing at this guy to make the point more clear. And, of course, they set the guy and the neighbors who found him in the tree in front of a gigantic pile of rubble, in soft focus behind them, a gentle reminder of how awful this is. NotKatieCouric and Matt Lauer nagged this group of people, using phrases "during the many hours you clung to life" and other loaded questions to make them cry, and it worked. The "human drama" made it to air. The whole proceeding made me so ill I had to turn the television off.
Nevermind doing an entire story about how you can help the hurricane's victims (just a reference to visit the Today show's Web site) or a story about how people survived, or a story about the environmental impact of the hurricane on the New Orleans area. They had to find the redneck who didn't leave his house. NotKatieCouric also said that they'd be checking in with a woman later in the show who stayed on her shrimpboat with her four-year-old daughter for the entire hurricane.
Listen up, dumbasses who stay in the path of a hurricane-- you are not heroes. You are not miracles. You are stupid. This is not like a tornado where you don't know if the disaster will actually strike. We have radar and television and even radio to tell you that danger is coming and you should get the hell out as soon as possible. Matt Lauer made a point to say at the end of the story that emergency warnings aren't issued lightly, and if you're told to evacuate, get out. It's foolish for the media to hold these people up, to give them their fifteen minutes of fame for being absolutely stupid and somehow making it out unscathed. Do a story about the responsible parents who got their kids the hell out and ended up playing Uno in a hotel room in Texas for three days straight.
So, I hope that if anyone in the South reads this, that you're all okay. I mean, we have hurricanes up here too, and sometimes they really fuck us up. So I know how you feel. And, to anyone at all who's interested, here's how you can help the people affected by the hurricane.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The 401 in the Sun

I never thought I would see the day. Apparently, Rhode Island is going to be the new Hollywood. Or, perhaps, the new Boston. In that almost every television show takes place in New York, LA or indeterminate city/small town. Most shows about Boston are about the blue-collar, Good Will Hunting-type rough characters. Sometimes we get comedies set in Boston, like Emerson alum Anthony Clark's long-lost "Boston Common" and the main tourist draw to Boston other than Mike's Pastry, "Cheers."
Sure, Rhode Island had the schmaltzfest that was "Providence," but that was shot mostly in LA. And, quite frankly, it sucked. My Mom watched it, but she's the only person I know who did.
Of course, giving tax breaks to movie producers helps too. I'm surprised that Mitt Romney, in all his photogenic, bouffant-haired glory, hasn't done the same in Massachusetts. I guess it's a mixed blessing-- I'm all about the Rhody pride, but I think it's a dangerous stereotype to think that all Rhode Islanders have big hair and gaudy gold jewelry dripping off them, just as not everyone who lives in Boston is either a blue-collar worker or a Harvard-educated elitist. Some people are Johnstonites, with their big hair and flashy bling. Some people, like some members of my family, don't leave town except to go to the doctor, and if they need to go to Providence they have to take a test-run on the weekend so they're not nervous about the trip. Some people are crusty fishermen, some people are sleazy car salesmen, some people are rich, some people are poor.
Hopefully when things slow down for me next week, I'll come up with some pitches for shows set in Rhode Island. Perhaps I'll begin with the easy, "Dude, where's my coffee milk?"

Friday, August 26, 2005

I Am No Fashionista, Nor Was Meant to Be

But I'm going to pretend to be one this afternoon.
My next article for InSite is about a little boutique in Brookline. Awesome. Except. I know nothing about fashion. Yes, I watch America's Next Top Model and, yes, I know Versace and Ralph Lauren and Kate Spade, but hell if I care. I know what looks good on me, but I'm not going to spend hundreds of dollars on clothes. I could go on a trip or pay student loans with that money-- why spend it on a trendy fur wrap that will be useless in a year?
Maybe I'm being too practical. Maybe I should suck it up, start buying Ben Sherman jackets and hand-made dresses. But my grandmother can make a dress for me, and she won't charge me $250.
Have a great weekend-- I'll be working, eating, drinking, working, driving, working, hanging pictures, working, writing, working, maybe sleeping.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Wax On, Wax Off

I guess this week is theme week here around Pasquinade.
I just read this article on Yahoo! and let out a little squeal of glee. I'm glad the gospel is catching on. As you may have figured out, I'm all about equality of the sexes. If men can vote, so should women. If men can work, so should women. If women have to worry about looking good, so should men. I'm glad that the idea of a man worrying about how he looks being the mark of a pussy is fading.
A few weeks ago, the Whatever (now with an actual boyfriend status!) picked me up from work. We planned to go to the grocery store, but he said he had something to do before we went.
"I have to stop at the salon to hmmmrpshhmmbz," he muttered into the phone earlier in the day.
We stoped at Lords and Ladys and he got out of the car.
"Didn't you just get a haircut last week?" I asked.
"Yes. I'm here to get my eyebrows waxed."
I actually squealed with glee. A metrosexual! He can be taught! He wears pleated pants, yes, much to my well-articulated chagrin, but he fights the power of a unibrow. I could tell he was afraid I'd think he was a wuss, and he lit up with a smile when I reacted so favorably.
So gentlemen: do not be afraid of hair removal. Women shave, wax and tweeze ourselves for you-- the least you can do is not look like Guy Smiley in return.

Update 1
My pica ruler was stolen by a coworker. She apologized. I am once again able to work.

Update 2
The Brazilian is still okay. The ingrown hairs are making an appearance-- how do I fight these little bastards? It's not killing me, but it's not entirely comfortable either.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Missing: Nerdy Book Publishing Tool

I have a problem. Well, actually, I have many problems. But one problem is especially problematic right now.
I have lost my pica ruler. My nice plastic pica ruler so I can measure the space in my nifty book that I'm editing. I want to check it because it appears to be fucked up in places. I can't check the space without my ruler. I have a sheet that measures font size, inches and picas, but I want MY pica ruler. The narrow strip of translucent plastic to measure space above the 1-heads on my table of contents. I came back from lunch and I can't find it. Did I pack it up in a package to a freelancer? Is it on its way to such scenic locales as Lynnfield? Did I cling to it and bring it to Tealuxe with me? I'm irrationally thinking my boss took it to see how long it would take me to ask the department if anyone had it, and thus discover that I really don't do anything. WHERE IS MY PICA RULER?
I feel like it's going to be on top of my head or something, like when my Mom misplaces her sunglasses. I just got comfortable with that pica ruler after my first one broke (twice). Now I'm going to have to buy my own damn pica ruler. Shit.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Skinny Bitches

My New England friends-- we are the skinny bitches in this country.
I'd like to give a big shout-out to my home state for kicking it with the skinny. We're getting fatter, but we're still hotter than the women in Mississippi.
I am not feeling funny today-- having a falling-out with the Whatever, who nearly threw me out of his car without taking a gander at my newly-smooth cooch, still dying of stress with the added stress of waiting for the phone to ring so I can have at it, all while formatting quizzes for Ohio and planning to write an article without having arranged an interview yet with the owners of the store. Great.
Someone kill me. Or kill the people who are stressing me out.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Summer Wind...


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It ain't so bad.
See the caveat on the previous post, family/coworkers/cooter-haters.
My worst waxing experience was at a salon on Beacon St., called "Mirage" if I remember correctly, which is apt since I apparently had a mirage of a patch of skin being above my right eye when I walked in, and I walked out with a scab over my eye. It's one thing if a mishap should occur-- I have sensitive skin-- but at least say something while I'm there so I'm not walking down the street with pus oozing from a wee cut above my eye. Needless to say, I switched to Elizabeth Grady, which is far more expensive, but my friend Heather had great luck there with her brows. After a few eyebrow waxes there, I decided to take the leap into groindal region waxing.
My favorite part about visiting a salon is reading the slew of trashy magazines. I managed to get through most of People (so, about five minutes) before Kaci, who would be either the benevolent angel or the keeper of the gates of Hell, called me into the back room.
"Have you been here before?" She asked. I noted that I very much liked her highlights.
"Yes," I said cheerily.
"Have you had this service done before?"
"No," I said, trying to maintain a similarly cheery tone.
"Have you had a bikini wax before?"
"No," I said. "I figured I may as well go nuts."
She smiled, and said that was fine. She opened the door, and told me that I should take off my skirt and underwear, clean myself off with a baby wipe, put a towel over my lap and wait for her to come back. I was glad I was getting this done in America, because the last time I had a cosmetic service that requires bulk clothing removal (full-body massage), a small French-Canadian man who spoke very little English had to explain it to me. Kaci's English was great, and she was very reassuring. I waited around, listening to the New-Agey Musak, praying I didn't turn into a story that one esthetician related in Cosmo, where one woman who was getting a wax kept getting really wet. I didn't want to the freak client, talked about around the vat of wax in the back room, or in a national publication. It wasn't sexy-- I was nervous as hell. A strange woman would be slapping wax on my inner thighs with a popsicle stick. I examined my fingers, realizing I need a manicure.
Kaci came back with a large bowl of wax. She had me push the heels of my feet together so I had what she called "frog legs." I sighed, thankful I at least had my shirt on.
"Now I'm going to put wax here and here," Kaci explained, dabbing the wax where the hip meets thigh. "There's not a lot of hair here, and the skin is less sensitive. If it really hurts, let me know and we can stop."
I took a deep breath, and wiggled as the hot wax hit my skin. Kaci dabbed the wax with a baby wipe to cool it, picked at the edge with her fingernails, and ripped. As soon as the wax and hair left my skin, she put her other hand on the patch, pressing down gently to keep it from swelling. She repeated the motion on the other side. I flinched, but it didn't hurt much.
"How is it?"
"Fine," I said, sounding more nonplussed than I'd expected.
Kaci applied the wax in a slightly more intimate area. I usually don't like to chat when I'm getting waxed or having my hair cut-- the less I say, the better. But I felt like if this woman was messing with my private bits, I should try to talk. I told Kaci about my job when she asked. We talked about the Whatever and Target. I asked endless questions about intimate hair removal.
"Has anyone ever come in here and had you start to rip their hair out, and have you stop?"
"No, but last weekend someone came in and had me do this, and before I even took any hair out she was crying."
"And she didn't ask you to stop?"
"It was the weirdest thing. She didn't. She told me to keep going. By the time I got to the really sensitive stuff, she was hysterical."
"That must have been terrible for you."
Kaci laughed. "I kept asking her, 'Are you alright?'" Kaci patted my leg to imitate what she'd done to the poor soul who was weeping, but grabbed a bruise from Kristen's SuperBouncer at her parents' camp.
"Sorry!" She exclaimed.
"Do you do this for guys?" Hey, couldn't hurt to ask, right?
"No," she said. "A place up the street does it, I think, but we don't. I had a guy come in and ask me to do it, and I laughed at him. I thought he was kidding. Then he said 'I got it done in New York' and I'm all, 'Uh, sorry.' Where do you go after you laugh at a client?"
"Probably nowhere good," I replied.
"There's a lot of sensitive skin down there," Kaci said as she applied the wax to the most sensitive skin I have. "I mean, women do too, but guys have a lot more. And you have to move a bunch of stuff around down there too..." She trailed off, making a disgusted face.
"Now this is going to be the worst of it," she said, ripping the hair off. I squirmed and breathed in deeply, but didn't kick the wax that was at my feet. "Oh, actually, I have this side left too," she said, and ripped. It hurt, but it wasn't the knee-to-the-balls kind of hurt I expected. It feels like a Band-Aid taking hair off, but it's warm and thus hurts less.
After she made sure all the hairs were off the front, we moved around to the back. I'm profoundly grateful my job does not entail looking at women's asses and cooters all day long, because as much as I like my body, I don't really enjoy showing it to doctors or waxing staff. Something about a fluorescent light aimed squarely at your intimate areas takes some of the beauty away. The backdoor waxing went quickly, and didn't hurt at all.
"Okay, you're set," Kaci said with a reassuring smile. I resisted the urge to ask for a lollipop for my good behavior. "You did well, and remember-- the first time is the worst. If that's the worst it gets for you, you'll be fine."
I paid the exorbitant cost ($60, plus a 30% tip, which Lucky magazine suggested but the Whatever was appalled at) and walked out into the late August sunshine. I feared that once the blood returned to it's normal flow it would hurt, but it just had a tingle that wasn't all bad around that area. As far as I could tell from my brief examination, no redness or bumps cropped up. It is funny to see everything so bare and exposed.
I don't know if I'll make a habit of it-- $80 a pop is a bit steep for hair removal. But, so far, so good. I'm curious to see what happens with any sexual activity, but I will probably not write about that for public consumption.

On the Wild Side

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Fair warning to family/coworkers/people who hate the word "cooter"-- this will be squicky.
I am not a girly-girl. Yes, I wear skirts and eyeshadow and hate to dispose of dead rodents. But when it comes to knowing what eyeshadow is in during any given season, what "season" I am, and how to skillfully apply blush I am lost. I subscribe to Cosmo, I have friends who are girly who I try to emulate, but I just can't manage it. My eyeliner is always too heavy or misplaced, my mascara clumps, my hair frizzes. I try, but I can't do it. I just can't make myself care that much.
The one thing I do hate that girly-girls hate is body hair. I'm lucky-- my friend Christine says it's because I'm a good German girl, but my hair isn't that dark. I don't need to bleach my upper lip, I don't need to shave my upper thighs every time I step into a bathing suit. But the hair still bothers the hell out of me. Right now I've got a two-day stubble on my legs that is Chinese friction-torturing me to death and a lot of growth on my nether regions. I have that growth because I am getting it waxed. I'm not daintily stepping into the waxed cooter world by just an upper-thigh/bikini wax. Oh no. I am going for a Brazilian.
I hear all kinds of things about Brazilian waxes-- they hurt, they're amazing, you'll never want one again, you'll never want to have any pubic hair again once you have one. I've only ever had my eyebrows waxed before, and that stings and leaves my skin puffy, so I am afraid of what my cooter will look like when I am done. I fear that I will be like Steve Carrell in the 40 Year Old Virgin previews, and walk out with a spotty bush because I couldn't take the pain. I took Advil to prevent the swelling and stinging, I washed thoroughly as to avoid scaring the bejesus out of the person who will apply hot wax to my groin.
I wish they had an option at salons that would be "dip my entire body below my neck into hot wax and remove all the hairs, plus please remove all the stray hairs off my head." I think it would be costly, but I'd be smoother than frozen yogurt after such a treatment. If we can put a man on the moon, we can surely have a hot-wax dipping system for the young women of the world.
Wish me luck-- in half an hour I will be a Brazilian virgin no more. Will report back later.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Schoolin' Y'All

At work, we have a coffee pot in my department. Monied folks chip in to buy fair-trade coffee from the Harvest Co-Op and brew it to avoid the free coffee the company provides, along with the runs. Above this coffee pot we hang amusing tidbits. My contribution is a picture of a post-office driveway with the word "Entrance" misspelled in yellow paint. People hang articles of note there, and this week several articles about the rising costs of college textbooks have been posted.
I have mixed feelings on this. On one hand, it wasn't that long ago that I was in college and met the beginning of every semester with dread. Since I was a liberal arts student, my costs weren't nearly as high as kids who were in the sciences. The text of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" hasn't changed very much since Eliot wrote it. I mostly had to shell out money for a stack of novels, which are easy to find used. The few times I had to buy anthologies made my semester tab a little higher, but I enjoy them. Except for my African-American Literature class (the professor soured me on my Norton Anthology brick of writing) I kept them all, including the ones I bought that the publisher I work for now prints.
I admit, I did feel a little traitorous working for the industry that takes so much money from my cash-strapped peers and their debt-riddled parents when I started. I felt especially bad since I see very little of the money that the textbook industry allegedly swims in, a la Scrooge McDuck in his vault of money. Let me tell you-- my coworkers and I don't see this money. A few people around here make a large salary, but it's because they work their asses off and run the place. In these articles about textbook costs, people are interviewed saying that the companies are just out to make money. Yes, the rich executives of textbook publishing are hob-knobbing with the oil executives in Bermuda.
Books are expensive to make. Paper is expensive. Ink is expensive. The stages that a book goes through are long, arduous, and involve many people, some of them freelancers that get paid to design, copyedit, proofread, index, and set our books. My company used to work primarily in black and white titles, now we do many four-color books that are art-heavy to appeal to visual learners and the TV generation, which take more time and money to make. Our company tries to make the books less expensive by outsourcing the typesetting (an ugly issue I won't get into here) and by riding us hard to make the book as inexpensively as possible.
With my very limited knowledge of education (having friends who are teachers and administrators), the bundling of software and Web sites with titles may be wasteful. I guess somebody must be using these things, but no educator I talk to does. My high school teacher friend doesn't even use the questions at the end of selections in the student text, much less pull up a Web site to drill her students on the metaphors in The Scarlet Letter. I'm sure if the Whatever read this, he'd argue that special needs kids could use some of this technology to make their lives easier, but our technology is geared mostly toward supplementing the text, not adapting it to other formats.
I don't know much about the marketing of our books (if I may use the cliche "not my department"), but I think that we bundle things with our books because professors like to see all the options when they're considering adapting one of our titles. Whether or not they use them is one thing, but they like to know they have options, which cost money to produce. So, until professors say, "Hey, I just need a book with readings and text to match my curriculum without the bells and whistles," then textbooks are going to remain expensive.
I can't comment on the fields that change rapidly, such as math or science, because our publisher doesn't print those (thank God). I'm sure that our marketing people would argue that grammar is changing quickly, and does require frequent updates to keep student citing online sources correctly. All I can do is assure you that we're trying to keep the costs low while meeting the demands of the professors who ultimately decide whether or not to buy our textbooks.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Impressions and Thoughts

Okay, so. I have dropped to page 2 of the Google search results for the word "pasquinade." This will not do. I know it is summer, I know there is something called nature and nice weather that keeps you from hanging on my every word. But was it something I said? Last week you all loved me. Now I have been forsaken. Come back, dear readers!
I'm having some kind of stomach cramp business happening and I'm busy and stressed, so I lack the focus to actually write something thought-out. The fires of indignation and ranting have been cooled by stress and salsa. So, here's what's on my mind:

Cindy Sheehan. The media keeps comparing her to a circus, but all I can envision is a Tom Robbins novel. The scenario of a woman camping outside the president's summer house in Texas, just wanting to talk to him about her son killed in a war is just liberal enough for Robbins to take on. Also, some sort of metaphysical element would need to be involved. Possibly the second coming of Jesus. And raunchy sex.

It's weird how sleeping in a different place affects your dreams. When I'm at my apartment, I have relatively dreamless, deep sleep. When I'm at my Mom's house, I sometimes have troubling dreams. When I'm at the Whatever's house, I dream that I'm talking to him. He says I am not actually talking, but I feel like we are. It's bizarre.

I wish that there was sick time, vacation time, personal days and "My mind has set it's Outlook out-of-office reminder on, so I'm barely doing my work, so why not just sit at home and eat ice cream while watching Ellen" days. Because I would have taken a few of those this week.

Red Sox: the end-of-year agita begins. I listen to NPR in the morning to hear the scores and judge the mood that Kristen will be in when she gets to work. I must admit, I have been terrible with watching the games during the past few weeks. And you'd think I'd be into the games, what with the absence of Mark Bellhorn.

I am never getting married. Weddings make people crazy and argue over trivial things like china patterns, rides to church and card stock. If I ever have someone who would like to marry me, we are running away and will tell people later.

That is all for now. If something outrageous happens, maybe I'll form an opinion.

Laziness as Virtue

Perhaps the lack of fitness and obesity epidemic in America is a good thing:

Rader [the BTK killer] had told law enforcement agents that he found killing people was harder work than he had expected so, as he continued killing, he worked out to improve his strength.

Yikes. Keep feeding the kids Ho-Hos and keep them inside in front of the television. For the love of God, don't let the Junior Sadists of America get strong enough to take me out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Wanted: Menace 2 Society, Works at NPR

Garrison Keillor is a menace 2 society.
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Yeah, this guy. The guy who sounds like your Grandpa reading you a bedtime story about the fine people of Lake Wobegon. Don't let your children near NPR, y'all, or else they're going to hear about boobies and drugs.
America: you can only hide your children from the world for so long. They're going to learn about drugs and sex at some point in their lives. It may as well be in a sonnet instead of a porn, right? That way, they get iambic pentameter along with the loss of innocence. Shakespeare: dirty bastard. Most "fine" literature is riddled with double-entendres and sex. That's because human nature is obsessed with these things. No amount of censorship is going to turn it off.
Jesus H. Christ. Garrison fucking Keillor? It's like saying the Pope is indecent.

Monday, August 15, 2005

In Summary

Lessons learned this weekend and today:

  • I don't handle adversity well.
  • I need to work out again.
  • Tequila shots = stupid, stupid, stupid.
  • Procrastinating = a feeling of dread, eventually.
  • Paying off entirety of $2,500 Visa balance = Priceless.
  • My Grandparent's relationship = what I want.
I don't handle adversity well.
I need to work out again.
So the Whatever and I decided to go kayaking on Saturday. The first time I went kayaking was in 1999 as a reward for getting an A in gym class. How I, the drama geek, managed an A in gym class may explain why the obesity rates in this country are rising. My Senior year gym classes went as follows:
Teacher: We're going to play soccer today.
Amy and Cohorts: No. We want to play walleyball.
Teacher: You really should play soccer.
AaC: We'd much rather play walleyball. We'll be fine down there by ourselves.
Teacher: Fine.

But I always participated, so I got an A. So one day in late June, we went to Narragansett, got in our sea kayaks, and paddled the mile down the Narrow River to the Atlantic. Once there, we ate lunch and rode the kayaks in the surf. Despite a sunburn that I'll never forget, it was a great time. Last year, Pete and I went with his friend Fran, who managed to motivate both herself and me back to the rental place with the mantra of "beer! Frozen drinks!" I told the Whatever about the fun of sea kayaking, so since I FINALLY got the freelance money, I drove down to the beach and we rented a double.
Since I usually rent a single kayak (ALONE! ALONE! I WILL DIE ALONE!) I coordinate my own stroke. For some reason, the Whatever and I could not paddle in a straight line to save ourselves. We'd start drifting to the left, turn to the right and then suddenly be on the opposite side of the river, correct our course, later, rinse, repeat. I couldn't really tell whose fault it was-- it may have been mine for not communicating, it may have been his for not following my stroke (he was sitting behind me), but by the time we made it to the mouth of the river and pulled our kayak onto shore I was in a foul mood. The swells were large since Irene was off the coast, so we checked it out before bringing the boat over into the swells. I was hesitant to get in the ocean since the stoner kids had recommended novices not go into the uneven sea, but the Whatever was insistent. We paddled into the Atlantic.
I love the ocean because it's a great reminder of how nature is so much more powerful than us. When you're on land, you see construction vehicles moving the Earth, blasting rocks, bending the soil to do what people want. But when you're in a very small boat in a very large ocean, with waves tossing you around, nearly casting you into the water, you remember that you're just a tiny speck of matter in this world. Despite our problems paddling in the river, we managed well in the swells, despite my yelps.
"This is awesome!" The Whatever exclaimed.
"Why are you so nervous? We're fine. This kayak is really stable."
"I know," I replied. "But when I'm doing something even slightly risky, I hear my mother's voice in my head, chiding me for it."
We stayed in the ocean for about half an hour, pulled the kayak onto shore to take a drink, then got back in to begin the trip back.
Shortly up the river, after zig-zagging a few more times, my shoulders tired and tight, I began to lose my patience.
"Why can't we paddle this fucking kayak in a straight damn line?"
"I don't know," the Whatever replied. "Let's slow down and try it that way. Left, right. Left, right. Right. Right. Left. Right. Left, right. Left. Left. Left."
"If we could paddle in a straight line, we'd fucking be there by now."
"We should look an article up online about this when we get home."
"Not much help now, is it?"
We paddled some more. Zig. Zag. I began to behave like an infant, and I knew it, but I was as powerless to stop it as I was in my boat in the waves.
"This sucks. I want to be there now. I'm tired and I want to go home and drink beer with Kristen." I threw my head back and heaved a tremendous, histrionic sigh.
"What are you, four?" The Whatever asked, laughing at me.
"No, but I'm fucking frustrated. I want to be better at this, and you're laughing at me."
"Yeah, I'm laughing at you. You're twenty-four and pitching a fit. We'll get there if you calm down."
I sulked. I splashed the Whatever a few times with my oars. But we got back to shore and I apologized for being a brat. But adversity? And I? Not good together.

Tequila shots = stupid, stupid, stupid.
The Whatever and I hit traffic, took a while to get back to Brookline since we had to buy booze, had to park the car and get back to Kristen's to welcome Marianne back from the hell that is Tanglewood (apparently). We showed up two hours late, so we decided to "catch up." And how did people propose we catch up? With tequila shots. Three of them. Then I made really strong rum and cokes. And I drank beer. Then I got sick. Then I got sick again. Then I stumbled home with the Whatever. Then I don't remember anything, but apparently fell on the bed with my legs hanging off the side, told the Whatever it hurt when he touched them, the Whatever eventually heaved my legs into the bed despite my protests, and didn't wake up until 9am. No more tequila shots, y'all. Because blacking out is when things get scary and instead of functioning alcoholic we're into the "Hi, my name is Amy" brand of alcoholic.

Procrastinating = a feeling of dread, eventually.
Due to my boozing, kayaking and home decorating, I've been stalling on my new freelance project. Today I got an email from the freelance guy, asking if I could send him some of the work I've done. Which would be none. Haven't even started. Then, twenty minutes later, I got an email from InSite, asking me to write another article, due Monday of next week. I wished I hadn't made plans for dinner tonight.

Paying off entirety of $2,500 Visa balance = Priceless.
I finally got the freelance money, so I wrote out a check for two thousand five hundred and no cents to Visa. I resisted the urge to write "fuck off and die, assholes" in the memo line. But this makes me feel less like a freewheeling derelict and more like the good person Suze Orman and my Mom want me to be.

My Grandparent's relationship = what I want.
I went home on Friday to see my paternal grandparents, who I haven't seen since May. Mimi and Gramps. I hope I have my father's DNA when it comes to health, because Mimi greeted us after a day in the garden and cooking dinner for me without showing any fatigue. Mimi and Gramps have been the solid example of what a good relationship is for most of my life. They bicker, but they love each other. Here's an example of the dialogue from dinner.
Mimi: I'd ask your grandfather what he'd do without me, but I don't want him to give it that much thought.
Gramps: Mimi, I don't even want to think about that.

His voice was so sad that it made me tear up. I think, in their mid-seventies, they've just started to give some thought to the fact that they're not young anymore. My Mom's dad is old, and has carried himself that way for most of my life. But Mimi and Gramps travel, work, remodel their house themselves. Seeing them argue and disagree but still love each other gives me hope for my own relationships. Or whatever.

So that was my weekend. I'd like to say that work and after-work are busy, so I may not be reliable to post much. Please don't forget me if I don't post for a few days.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Your Caption Here

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On the arm of Curt Schilling, Mrs. Barbara Bush actually pauses to think about the legacy her son's presidency leaves behind.

Or, Mrs. Barbara Bush has gazed into a reflective surface. (Suite in hell, party of one.)

Or, Mrs. Barbara Bush has seen the man love between Manny and Millar.

Keep going. It's fun!
Why yes, work is slow.

Aspiring Domestic Goddess, Aisle Four

I am no domestic goddess. In fact, a few weeks ago when I informed the girl I babysit that I was going home to cook dinner for myself, she replied with an astounded, "Amy, you don't know how to cook. When did you learn?"
I can cook. I don't whip up souflees or quiches with ease, but I can figure out what spices are good on which foods (without reading the label on the spices, thank you) and I can follow a recipe. And I do enjoy cooking. I like going to the grocery store with a solid idea of what I need instead of bouncing around the aisles like a pinball and picking up packaged food. I like slicing the foods, adding things together, smelling the spices when I add them to the pan. The heat of the stove is comforting, even when it's hot outside. I enjoy cooking for others.
I've been giving food a lot of thought lately. When I was in New York with Kristen, we stopped at the Strand and bought eight metric tons each of books. Kristen got some sports books, and I stocked up on weird nonfiction books. One of which was Something from the Oven which I've been reading on and off for the past couple of weeks. It's an interesting history of packaged foods in America, and the way that women viewed cooking after World War II. The food industry, who'd developed technology to package foods in a non-perishable way to ship supplies to soldiers, tried to keep the technology working by convincing women they didn't have time to cook from scratch, so frozen foods were the way to go. After about a decade of bombarding women with the message, they started to believe it.
The author presents research that showed that women in the '50s viewed cooking as the chore that they least minded doing. There's the romantic view of food-- providing for a family, showing love by a loaf of bread or a plate of warm cookies. There's something intimate about cooking for someone that can't be replicated by ordering them a pizza. Sure, there's the nutritional benefits of cooking at home-- less sodium, you control what goes in it, less fat, less preservatives-- but putting effort into something you give to someone else has its own psychological rewards.
I've also been watching the Food Network again. You know about my love of Paula Deen's egg-butter-cream heavy creations, but my heart couldn't stand the strain of the fat coagulating in my veins like chicken fat on the top of a soup if I ate that too often. My love for Rachel Ray has waned lately, but I have discovered Alton Brown and Good Eats. Good Eats is interesting because Alton Brown explains the science behind certain cooking methods-- why potatoes get sticky, how poaching works, what age kids can handle basic cooking techniques-- with humor and while demonstrating a recipe. I cooked his poached fish a couple weeks ago for Kristen and I and it was delicious.
The Whatever and I are broke right now-- he because he's bought an entire bedroom set, me because I can't say no to concerts, dinners/drinks out and weekend trips-- so we've been cooking at home. When he helped me install my air conditioner, I cooked him steak and onions sauteed in bourbon and pasta with onions and feta cheese. I feared it would come out terrible, but it was really good. The onions were soft, the steak was not chewy, and the bourbon made everything taste better too. Last week we had tacos because chicken was too expensive, and Tuesday we made poached chicken (it was on sale) in a dijon sauce with roasted squash and rice pilaf.
As the Whatever and I gathered our ingredients on Tuesday, we talked about cooking.
"I think women should know how to cook. I want the woman I marry to be able to cook."
"So you wouldn't marry a woman who can't cook?"
"Well," he said as we pushed the cart around Shaws, "somebody has to do it. I'm not a great cook, so she'd have to be able to do that. I mean, if I were completely unable to help with this, you wouldn't be impressed with me, either."
I got indignant and women's-lib on him, but I could see his point. I don't want to be like the girl I babysit envisions me (and how she sees her mother) as a "microwave cook." I don't want to be chained to the kitchen, but I want to feel confident that I'd be able to provide for someone, be it a Whatever or a kid or my Mom after surgery. The Whatever and I got to the refrigerated dough section and he looked at the biscuits.
"I know how to make fried apple pies out of that flaky layer dough," I mentioned casually to him.
He smiled, and leaned down to whisper in my ear. "When you say things like that, it turns me on in the freezer section."
Perhaps I should take a cooking class and walk around with an apron over my work attire. More than half a century after women entered the workforce en masse, we're still trying to balance the idea of work for pay with work around the house. There is some way to balance eating nothing but Curbside Pickup from Applebee's every night and cooking a four-course meal for two daily, and I am going to find it. The line for proposals forms to the right, gentlemen.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

I'll Jerk my Liberal Knee Into Your Groin

First off, Kansas:
(Minnesota, Ohio, and New Mexico, pay attention too)
Look at this:
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Now this:
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They look almost exactly the same! How can you say we didn't evolve from apes? I just don't get it. Opposable thumbs, check. Less hair. Slightly more evolved language capabilities. Didn't we already get into an argument about this eighty years ago? I mean, if Kansas wants to teach kids that people come from storks, birds and bees make babies and masturbating makes you blind, that's the state's right. But it sure does little to lure us liberals to the great flat state of Kansas.

Also, please note this great new musical masterpiece:
Can you imagine how horrible a world it would be in Nick Cannon's mother hadn't given birth to him? We would not have the great new show "Nick Cannon Presents Wild 'n' Out" on MTV. Tatyana Ali would not again be gracing our television sets. It is very much like "It's a Wonderful Life," but with more bling.
I know that it's hypocritical of me to lambast a pop star for offering his opinion about abortion since I have about as much credibility as he does-- I just write on the internet when work is slow. But his song is a blatant attempt to manipulate whoever he thinks will listen to him. As Renee Graham points out, he doesn't discuss what happens after his mother gave birth to him. Did she struggle? Did she ever secretly wish she'd gone through with it? No matter what a woman chooses when it comes to abortion, she's going to wonder what would have happened if she'd made the other choice. It's cruel to paint life as roses after a young woman gives birth, because it's not that easy. So, in short, shut up, Nick Cannon. Give me Jay-Z any day.

It's a Beautiful Day Outside

Wow. Maybe my face will freeze that way. I always thought my brother would die from not moving from the computer when he was younger. Turns out it's possible.
...I have the most incredible urge to go for a jog.


Best fans in baseball my ass. Check out this loser:
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This assclown jumped from the upper deck at Yankee Stadium. Didn't fall in a drunken stupor as his team got beaten by the White Sox, didn't throw himself like a '40s film star with his hand on his forehead to indicate the vapors overtaking him as he thought about his team's dire pitching situation and place in the standings. Just a stupid kid who decided he'd test the weight limit on the net by jumping on it. At least drop a little kid or something before putting a full adult's body weight on that thing.
At Fenway, the dumbest things I see are the Wave (which should not be allowed when ACTUAL DAMN BASEBALL is happening) and the occasional fat guy who elects to lower himself onto the playing surface and see if he can make it to the other corner of the field. I watched one inebriated guy make a football-worthy evasion of the security guards and actually make it across the outfield at one game last year. And after trying to make it from one side of Fenway to the other by walking through the concourse, I'd be tempted to drop myself onto the field between innings and make a run for it since some out-of-towners don't know how to walk in a crowd. I like to think the stupid things Sox fans do are to get themselves closer to the warriors of Beantown. In New York, they're just bored stupid since they haven't won a World Series in this millennium and have nothing better to do than test the laws of physics.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Eric Wilbur is speaking my language.
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For the love of God, Youks must be on a first-name basis with every car rental company in Boston and Providence. Let him do something, Tito. But, also, please don't do anything with Bill Mueller. Because:
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So many hotties. So few positions on a baseball field.

The Language of the Catfight

Dear New York Daily News-- shut it.
While the NYDN is not a bastion of journalistic integrity (their headlines disturb me to the point where I'll stop dead in my tracks and curse when I see them) I really hoped that they could do better than this:

Hard-charging prosecutor Jeanine Pirro announced plans yesterday to run against U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and wasted no time baring her claws - accusing the former First Lady of using New York to pave her return to the White House.

The phrase "hard-charging" would not be applied to a male prosecutor. End of story. He'd be "bullish" or "tough," but "hard-charging" is a nice way of saying "uppity bitch." Then, in the very same sentence, we get "claws."
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If there is one thing I hate, it's the use of "claws" or "catty" when it comes to women disagreeing in a professional environment. When it comes to a Lohan/Duffthrowdown, the words are appropriate because it's women fighting over something stupid (Aaron Carter? For real?). But when two women oppose each other when running for political office, or disagree about issues, it's not the time to use a word that people associate with scantily clad women wrestling in a gooey substance for the pleasure of men. Pirro thinks she'd make a better senator than Hillary Clinton. She didn't call Clinton a skank, didn't sleep with Bill, didn't do anything to start a hair-pulling throwdown. They are two professionals who are fighting for office. Knock it off with the sexism. You never hear about George Bush pulling Condi Rice's hair over an international incident that she handled poorly, but if Condi says something disparaging about a woman, it's bitchiness. It's like when guys rationalize a girl's being upset on PMS. Sometimes, people just disagree and biology has no part in it.
So, to the gentlemen who wrote so nicely about the women candidates from New York, can it. Take them seriously, because they both look like they could school your asses on just about anything. Even writing articles about politics.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Dead Anchor Bandwagon

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Fare thee well, Jennings.
It's funny that, logically, I shouldn't really care. I didn't know the man, didn't watch ABC (I'm a NBC girl from way back) but when the Whatever shouted over the running water of the shower that he'd died, I let out a confused "what?" And not because I didn't hear the words.
Television anchors are part of our lives, for better or worse. They tell us terrible news, which Jennings did for sixty hours after 9/11. For the majority of my life, the choice of news was Jennings, Rather or Brokaw. Now Brokaw is semi-retired (leaving us with the hawtt Brian Williams) and Rather is gone, and now Jennings is really gone. It's sad to see these familiar faces that showed up most days at 6:30 for the majority of my life disappearing. In short, I feel really old.
Also, I love the euphemisms and evasive phrases reporters use when describing someone they actually know. On the Today show (waiting for my Pete Bouchard cut-in fix to ease my Monday blues) they cut to a reporter who'd worked with Jennings at ABC and Ann Curry asked him how he was feeling, and how it was to work with the "legendary" Jennings.
"Peter Jennings was intimidating and inspiring," he deadpanned, blinking furiously.
The Whatever let out a laugh as he tied his shoe. "'He was a raging prick, Ann,'" he guffawed. "'I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but I hated that guy.'"
After watching a coworker live with (and die from) lung cancer, I extend my sympathies to Jennings's family. It's a nasty thing to watch someone you care about struggling so much. I also wish I weren't singing "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" in my mind, because I know darn well it's not about Jennings.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Weathercaster Love

So the Whatever and I got up this morning after an eventful evening. I turned on the TV while he was in the shower. I waited with baited breath for the Today show to go to Al Roker, who said his piece about the national weather, and then said those magical words, "And here's what's happening in your neck of the woods."
And there he was. A tall, lanky man with a clicker in his palm, pointing to images that really aren't there. I let out a "Pete!" as the Whatever emerged from the shower.

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He's way cuter in this new headshot. Thanks, channel 7!

"That's what I'm competing against?!" He gasped. I continued to face the television as Pete did a little dance to indicate the movement of a cold front. I sighed.
"He's bald. He's... he's not hot."
"Shut up. He is so."
"Whatever. I hope I never go bald, because I think bald guys are much less threatening."
"But he's funny," I said. "Funny goes a long way."
"I'm funny. And I have all my hair."
"You're not that funny."
"Well, if you love Pete so much, why don't you date him?"
"He's married. And [my friend who works at 7] took out a restraining order. She won't even let me in the building anymore."
"Well, maybe I'll go find Chikage Windler. [Friend] will let me near her. Maybe we can catch the both of them and put them in a jar."
"Will we give them air holes?"
"Of course. And we will let them go after a day."
So it's not just me, people. Nerds far and wide of both genders love the meterologists. And, gentlemen, hair is just hair. A sense of humor can't be grafted to a person. If a nice guy with a pretty face and no hair comes up to me, I'd be all about that. The Whatever is attractive, don't get me wrong, but something about a guy who's humble and funny makes me all schmoopy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


You are now free to move about the country. Even when you're the leader of the free world.
George Bush is about to set the record for the most time off of any president, dethroning Ronnie Reagan from this dubious honor.
...and I feel bad taking a day off to see a Sox game tomorrow.
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"What can I say? Being the President is hard. Pack my bags, Laura, we're going to Crawford!"

Houston, We Have a Sham

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"No way! They're in space? Like the Muppets?"

Once upon a time, space exploration was the thing in America. We wanted to beat the Russians into space, wanted to get there, collect some space rocks, sell freeze-dried ass-tasting ice cream to kids at science museums, build houses made of glass and fly around in floaty Jetson cars. My mother's generation assumed they'd have summer homes on Mars and little pet aliens. Every launch was a huge deal. Then, somewhere along the way, it became less cool to be into space. People carried cell phones in sassy shoulder bags, the Brat Pack owned Hollywood, and we had better things to do than care about space travel. Earth seemed to be working out fairly well, so why bother until we completely fuck it up?
Then the Challenger blew up. Then people cared about space travel again for a while. It was a sad thing, but it takes a tragedy to get people talking. Then things went well again, and tourists would occasionally go to Florida to watch a launch but we were too busy with the Internet. Then the Columbia blew up. I don't really remember the Challenger, but I remember walking around the Shaws on Comm Ave and watching the President speak about eagles and God and sacrifice after the Columbia crash-- the typical hollow Presidential tradgedy-speak-- and I had goosebumps. Dying in a shuttle crash must be a far more intense version of dying on a rollercoaster-- you know you're tempting fate, but you believe you're going to make it, and then you don't.
Now, two years later, the Discovery is back in space after several delays and problems. Today, the astronauts took a space walk to repair part of their ship that was broken. It's not a huge deal, and the crew "probably" would have made it back, but NASA is milking this for all it's worth. "Somebody might die! Pay attention! Buy your freeze-dried ice cream at the science museum once more, America!"
Does anyone else think we're being duped? First NASA delayed the launch because of "technical problems." Twice. The news ran with it (Yahoo!'s homepage had the little Big News box full of stuff about the shuttle, while that format is usually reserved for huge news like terrorist attacks) and people waited with baited breath to watch the carnage. Now there's a spacewalk to fix something that may or may not have been a problem. Can't we fix shit on Earth before we send a group of people into space in an unsafe vehicle?
I suspect King George's hand is in this somewhere. He wants to start colonizing the moon and get space travel going again. But at a cost of about $16 billion, most Americans are going to point out that old people need medicine, our schools are in disrepair and we'd maybe like to have a clean environment before we start picking out collars for our alien puppies, so all it takes is the threat of danger, the eagles and bravery talk, some romantic pictures of the dead astronauts and people are clamboring to show those terrorists-- er, whoever we can blame this tragedy on-- who's boss by trashing the moon as well as Earth. It's manipulative.
I wish nothing but the best for the astronauts. It must be amazing to be in space, to look down on Earth and contemplate how far humanity has come in the past few thousand years. I just don't want to be manipulated by the government. Grow some funny tomatoes and run some tests and bring them back home safely.

I'm Not Dead

Monday, August 01, 2005

Sweet! (Rather, Starchy)

Thank you, o God of Starches, for banishing the evil of low-carb diets. Once more people are eating your golden loaves of bread, your sugary but nutrient-rich fruits, your pastas and cereals. People drink milk without fear. The dark veil of Dr. Atkins' rule over the fine cooks at the Food Network (Rachel Ray did a slew of low-carb meal shows) is over. No more low-carb cookies, low-carb ice cream, low-carb bread (it's just thinner slices, America!). Less meat. Less eggs. More taste. For Christ's sake, just eat less and go for a walk.

Thrills, Tears, and Swedish Translations

Many thanks to those of you who left the great comments on my birthday, and extra-special thanks to those who came out for my birthday. You will get more personal thanks when I'm not up to my eyes in work. The weekend was eventful-- I now know what a kernel of corn feels like when it's being flushed, I have the weirdest tan lines, I also know the hell of furniture pick-up at Ikea, the hell of lashing a queen sized mattress to the top of a Neon and driving it home and not arriving until 3am, and the biggest bouquet of flowers I've ever been in possession of is sitting on my bookshelf. My bedroom looks kind of like a hospital room-- cards open on all available surfaces, flowers-- but it's better because I am not ill and in fact feeling pretty good. Once I get some sleep, I'll be even better.
I shall write the tale of my weekend later and it will be enlightening and hilarious. For now, I photocopy.