Archive for November, 2007

Like Porn, But With More Chocolate

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , on November 28, 2007 by tigereye

OK, I’m still sick. Tomorrow will be two weeks with this cold/sinus/chest crap — whatever you’re punishing me for, God, I think I’ve got the point by now.

When you feel lousy and you’re popping one cold pill after another all day long, you end up with two options for how you spend your time: 1. sleep, and 2. watch TV. Believe me, I’ve slept, with a little help from the kind folks who make cough syrup, and I’ve also sat wrapped in a throw in front of the TV, flipping back and forth between Animal Planet and the Food Network.

Aahhh, the Food Network…

See, I can’t cook. Or I don’t cook. You can make a good argument for either statement, but for now I’ll stick with the first, because not only is there not very much I know how to make without setting the entire block on fire, the stove is where I’ve located Spike’s big ol’ bag of Science Diet and his dental chew treats, each on a back burner. I can’t very well make fried chicken and pan gravy in the microwave, so there we are: I can’t cook.

But man, do I like to watch.

Early on in my fascination with Food Network, John pointed out that it’s almost like watching pornography for someone like me. Just because I can’t cook doesn’t mean I don’t love to eat. The only thing that saves me from looking like Rickie Lake in the original “Hairspray” is my metabolism, which must be something like a greyhound’s. I could eat all day, if the food looks good enough. I can go to a restaurant and finish three courses, sometimes including soup. So the Food Network has pretty much found its target audience with me.

So what do I do while I watch the Food Network?, you might reasonably ask.

I write down recipes for John.

OK, not always. Sometimes I just email him and say “Go to Paula Deen’s page and find the show with the baked oysters,” or “It’s under ‘Good Eats’ and it’s a chili recipe with beer and chips in it.” But that doesn’t always work. Some shows, like my favorite, “Iron Chef America,” won’t list the recipes those guys use on the fly. I have to just write down what I’ve observed: “Bobby Flay took this big green pepper — not a bell pepper — no, he said it’s very mild, not spicy at all — and stuffed it with goat cheese, buffalo strips, and potatoes…”

God. I’m drooling on the laptop.

John’s always been a good sport about this, and in fact sometimes he’ll take it upon himself to search the ‘net for a recipe for something he’s seen or heard of. He’s made the “Good Eats” chili, by the way, and some chicken pinwheel thingies wrapped around goat cheese that Paula Deen taught him. We haven’t tried the stuffed pepper yet, but one of these days I’ll see that pepper again — probably in Whole Foods, on my way through the produce section back to the meat counter — and we’ll wing it. Or, I mean he’ll wing it. I usually just watch (surprise), offering the occasional bit of hopefully-useful information I remember from the show.

So I guess the best comparison here for me watching the Food Network is to a virgin watching porn. I don’t know how to do any of that stuff myself, or anyway I haven’t tried to yet, but it’ll all be useful one day when I get actively involved. I’ll already know to let the custard keep cooking in its water bath after I take it out of the stove, or to add cornstarch to some other liquid before dumping it into a pot of stew. You know. Stuff the rest of you have probably known for years.

Also, it could serve me really well if I ever try out for “Jeopardy.” You never know.

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Me and My Shadow: the iTunes Meme

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream), Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2007 by tigereye

Before I start, what exactly is a meme? I asked a good friend who didn’t know either, so I figured it was time to display my ignorance to the entire community. (I knew I’d get around to doing that sooner or later.) Well, whatever it is, I’m doing this one, because it’s really cool. I saw it on bibliomom’s page yesterday and was thinking about doing it anyway, and then she asked me. Clairvoyance over the ‘net? Well, why not? Evidently my Dick Cheney voodoo doll works just fine, so anything is possible.

Anyway, here’s the iTunes meme.

How many total songs?

4,707, or 13.9 days. When you give a person with mild OCD an iPod, this is what happens. I put everything I have that’s out of print on it, plus lots of other goodies, episodes of This American Life, stuff like that. I have key speeches from the 2004 Democratic National Convention.

Sort by song title – first and last…
Dear God. Abacab by Genesis and 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton. I’m not gonna have a friend left who thinks I’m cool, am I?

Sort by time – shortest and longest…
4 seconds of dialogue from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (“It’s been emotional,” says the big dude at the end) and This American Life’s Back From the Dead post-Katrina show, at 59 minutes 31 seconds.

Sort by Album – first and last…
The A-Sides by Soundgarden and ’80s New Wave Disc 2, from which I burned Duran Duran’s Election Day, among other goodies from my lousy teens.

Sort by Artist – first and last…
A&J Music Productions (WTF?), who did the score to Rize, and 50 Cent, with Candy Shop and Disco Inferno.

Top five played songs…
1. Break It On Down (Battlezone) by Flii Stylz. (I can’t recommend the Rize soundtrack enough.)

2. Don’t Let It Bring You Down by Annie Lennox

3. Real Gone by Sheryl Crow.

4. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers.

5. Backlash Blues (2005 remix) by Nina Simone.

I play songs over and over and over, a lot of the time. Break It On Down has been played 24 times, mostly on my iPod while I’m running. It’s hands down the best workout song in the world, especially when you’ve seen the movie — watching people krump makes me want to do it myself, in a spastic white-chick kind of way. Real Gone isn’t bad, either, when you’re running. Annie and Bill are in-the-mood music. I’m just in love with Nina Simone’s voice.

Find the following words. How many songs show up?

Sex: 7, Death: 9, Love: 208 (holy shit!), You: 359 (again!), Home: 49, Boy: 27, Girl:41

First five songs that come up on Party Shuffle…
Tennessee Plates by Charlie Sexton, Milkshake by Kelis, The River Runs Low by Bruce Hornsby, Bensusan by Michael Hedges, and Hold My Hand by Hootie & the Blowfish. I would not play any of these songs at a party. Well, maybe Milkshake.

I’m not sure what these say about me. I spend a lot of time fooling with iTunes, making mix CDs like the mix tapes I made in my teens — I invented that, you know, it’s just that word got out somewhere and now everybody does it. I’ve got mixes of screaming-angry songs, of crime and prison songs, of place-named songs, of songs to play before, during, or after sex… I live in my iPod. What can I say? Like contact lenses, it’s an invention that’s changed my life in a big way. Without it I’d never exercise, I’d certainly be bored, and I’d have killed someone in an airport by now because they expected me to talk to them. Let’s see that on one of those cute how-I-use-my-i(Phone) commercials. Actually, I bet it would increase sales.

Whoever wants to do this next, let me know! I’m not tagging anyone. But it was a lot of fun. 

At Random…

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , on November 26, 2007 by tigereye

Tagged already by bibliomom! I’d make a link if I were slightly more computer-literate. Is it OK to just sing her praises? She’s got enough good books mentioned on her page to keep me reading for the next month. Too bad I have to get a job and mess things up.

Anyway, seven random and useless pieces of trivia about me:

1. As you can already tell from above, I’m so hopelessly ignorant about how to do stuff on my computer that I sometimes act like I’m afraid of it. “What does this button do? — OH, GOD, NO, I just erased the novel, my entire 4500-song-plus iTunes library, and spider solitaire!” Eventually I’ll pick some of this stuff up, but it probably won’t be until I absolutely have to, like after I’ve lied on a job application and said I can operate Windows Office.

2. When I worked briefly at a veterinarian’s office, I watched a root canal being performed on a 2-year-old Bengal tiger. Her canine teeth were as long as my ring fingers but thick as a man’s thumb. Her fur was much coarser than it looked, and she had a strong, gamy but not unpleasant smell that freaked Spike out when I got home.

3. Two of my closest friends died unexpectedly at the age of 42, so now whenever any of my friends turn that age, I’m a little nervous for the entire year.

4. I inadvertently taught my cat to sigh.

5. I own every Peanuts special that’s available on DVD or VHS, and watch them before the appropriate holidays. I also have a small army of Peanuts figurines in my house, although I maintain that no part of my house qualifies as “cute.” Some of the other decor keeps cuteness at bay.

6. I ask off from work on the dates of Elvis Presley’s birth and death every year. If anyone asks why, I tell them it’s a religious holiday.

7. While I’m finishing my novel, I’m also working on a memoir/nonfiction book about college football.

I think most of my homeys have been tagged, so I’ll pick on midwestocean, suzy, and shadodottir. You’re it!

Kiss My Ass, Black Friday

Posted in Rants & Rages, Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2007 by tigereye

I worked retail for what felt like seventy years, and no matter what job I had it usually involved working the Friday after Thanksgiving. I’d just like to thank everyone involved in making the decisions that led to my working those days. They’re a good chunk of the reason I’m not the good-natured little girlie I was as a naive kid, and that I’m now the misanthropic bitch you all know today.

I worked the six a.m. to two-thirty shift at a local department store for four years in a row, the first two in their Juniors (high school kids) area and the last two in Clinique. While the local and national news may paint a sunny picture of what Black Friday means — bargains! customers! specials! shoppers! doorbusters! money money money in the CEOs’ pockets! — let me stick a red-hot branding iron to this particular bubble of horseshit.

People who shop before-dawn sales are insane. Those of us who are there so we continue to get paid are coming off a family holiday cut short, since we went to bed at eight or nine the night before and got up at four or five to creak around the house and get to work on time. We had to fight to get through the throng of morons waiting at the store’s front doors, as if each of them is looking at some magic item inside that might disappear if they don’t run/waddle right to it the minute the doors open. They seem to think they get extra points if they knock over an employee.

People who shop these sales are cheap assholes. They’ll come in to get a $20 shirt for $18.99 and crow over their bargain while you ring it up. They’ll fling an entire table’s worth of folded clothes to the floor to find their size, as if Bob Barker is standing over them with a giant stopwatch, exhorting them to greater speed. They barge past a line of customers to ask an idiotic question (“Is these all you got left?”) and then push themselves into the line like a tugboat in stretch pants while you answer.

People who shop predawn sales are deliberately and casually rude. “I bet you didn’t get no sleep last night, did ye?” was one I heard at least once a year. “What time’d you have to be here this mornin’? You goin’ shopping yourself or you got to work all day? Do you people get a lunch break? How come they ain’t no more of you workin’ today? I bet you don’t get no break, do ye?” I wanted to bring a gun to work, hanging beneath my nametag, every time one of these showed up. They’d follow every question with a laugh, as if I’d think it was just hilarious that I’d had to pee for forty-five minutes but was instead held hostage by a mouth-breather painting her wrist with seventeen different shades of pink lipstick.

People who shop predawn sales are never so poor they have to show up for the bargains. I never saw more gold cards than I did before eight a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. Gucci wallets were pulled out of Dooney & Bourke purses and hundred-dollar bills were slapped down (never, ever placed in a salesperson’s hand, because as you know, we were all peons who couldn’t afford flu shots and possibly voted for Democrats) to pay for three pairs of socks, never mind that tens and fives were spilling out of the wallet like children from a bus to a playground. I have always loathed rich people. The only positive thing to come from working a succession of Black Fridays was learning that I’d been right to hate them all along.

And so here I’ve sat all day, reading and napping and watching football, refusing to leave the house. I’m allergic to the kind of people I’d surround myself with if I had left the house today. Better to just be thankful I had the day off.

Fever Dreams in the Twilight Zone

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2007 by tigereye

I’m still sick. Alert the media.

This sucks, because I’ve got a kitchen full of medications that don’t work very well individually, but I’m warned that if I combine them, my liver will crawl out of my body through my nose and officially resign. It’s still tempting. I’ve mixed meds before and lived to tell the tale, but then again that was when I was in college, and was younger, dumber, braver, and drunker; it was probably my one free pass.

All I can do when I feel this miserable is feel sorry for myself and stare numbly into space, and there’s nothing like cable for staring into space AT something, so I’ve spent the whole day watching the SciFi Channel’s marathon-of-the-day. I got lucky today: it was “The Twilight Zone,” which is easily my favorite SciFi offering, slightly ahead of “The X-Files.”

There’s something about “Twilight Zone” that’s just perfectly suited to sickness and fever and the kind of apathy that parks your ass in front of a TV screen in the first place. You see the show’s same favorite actors over and over, in different costumes, with different accents: Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, William Shatner, that blonde actress who I know is somebody but I can never catch her name in the credits because the SciFi Channel crunches them down to a fraction of the screen in order to advertise… more “Twilight Zone.” I’ve started wondering if Klugman actually did any non-“Zone” work before he grew up to become the “Quincy” of my childhood. Ditto for Burgess Meredith, who went on to become Mickey and got paid to call Sylvester Stallone a bum, which is a good gig for anybody.

Today’s shows were the one-hour “Zone” episodes, which are never as good as the half-hour shows to me. An hour just takes too long to build and ends too abruptly; the ending that leaps out at you at the end of thirty minutes loses some of its punch over an hour’s buildup. There was the one with the title I didn’t catch, about the museum guide who takes home the “Murderers’ Row” wax dummies of Jack the Ripper and other famous killers, only to become so obsessed with their maintenance that he joins them in the end. Well, duh. Even feverish I could see this coming. Did we really need the whole interlude with his wife’s suspicious brother? All that was left to imagination was the last frame, when he’s immortalized among them at another museum later on. (Sorry if I just ruined this episode for anybody, although “Zone” usually makes me feel like I’m the only person alive who’s never seen every episode sixteen times.)

I got up and took some cough syrup and damned the instructions and took some Excedrin with them, and parked in front of the TV again, this time switching my allegiance over to Animal Planet, where I scored big. I caught them on what must have unofficially been Big Cat Afternoon, and watched swimming lions and cheetahs speeding in slow motion, ignoring the slight ringing in my ears, which I could barely hear over one ear being stopped up by this cold anyway. I watched jaguars slinking through the South American jungle and thought about how the whole afternoon had become a long fever dream about spotted cats, coughing fits, and Allstate ads. I caught another favorite “Zone” that featured Julie Newmar as the devil, fitting nicely into my semihallucinatory state.

I hope this isn’t how I spend Thanksgiving Day, knocking back cough syrup shooters and throat drops over at John’s family’s house and then rejoining everyone in the living room to watch the Lions/Packers game. On the other hand, I’m kind of curious to see what overmedicating myself might do for the Macy’s parade. I’ve always wanted a giant Snoopy balloon.

Superstition Ain’t the Way

Posted in Confessions of a Female Football Fan with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2007 by tigereye

*Advance warning to my non-sports friends: this is mostly about stupid human tricks, but football does come up a few times.  It also dates back to early October, when my then-undefeated team faced one of our rivals. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

 I thought I had everything.

I had on the particular orange t-shirt that I’d worn every game day so far this season. I put on my gold tiger paw earrings, my silver tiger paw necklace, and my two orange rubber bracelets, one with CLEMSON stamped into it and the other speaking up for the ASPCA (but I wore it because it, too, was orange).

I had everything but the underwear.

I swear, I’d picked up one of the two “lucky game day” pairs of orange bikinis with little red cherries embroidered on them, Victoria’s Secret circa about four years ago. I’d held them in my hand, but I couldn’t find them now. I must have set them down somewhere, but damned if I had a clue where, and nothing puts a crimp in getting dressed quite like not being able to locate my underwear. And in my own house, too; most of the missing-underwear stories I’d heard or might have told over the years involved being at someone else’s house. Having the same thing happen here at home was like being flipped off by karma.

After retracing my steps between dryer, bedroom, and closet so many times I felt like an OCD patient on the locked ward, I gave the hell up. I got the second-tier lucky bikinis out of the drawer. These were also orange but had cherries screen-printed on them all over, not embroidered in the corner. It made me nervous. These things matter.

Has this ever happened to you?

I hate being superstitious. It’s like admitting you still believe in Santa Claus, well into your thirties, or it would be if a significant segment of the population didn’t secretly think the same thing. Some people get all exercised over a black cat; some hyperventilate if you leave a hat on the bed; some are hung up on the number thirteen. I, by comparison, am but a garden-variety superstitious sports fan, but you’ll never convince me that Clemson didn’t lose that fucking football game to borderline-pathetic Georgia Tech without a little nudge of bad luck because I couldn’t find my orange panties with the little red cherries on them. Never.

See, it feels like it works. Like the t-shirt. I’d worn that same t-shirt with the cool “Thunder and Lightning” graphic for every game since Florida State, because I’d worn it then and we’d won. Never mind that it had a purple tarnish stain on it — from my lucky necklace, no less — that refused to come out in the wash. Never mind that if you sorted my 100,000-plus t-shirts into themes I’d have enough Clemson game-day clothes to wear them like Kleenex for the next five years: wear it once and throw it away, and I’d still have some for next season. Several of these shirts date back to my college days. I have favorite clothes that, were they human, would be old enough to drive.

Doesn’t everyone do this, for all kinds of reasons? I have silver donkey earrings I wear every election day. They ushered in Bill Clinton and watched proudly over the Democratic victories last fall. Last summer, I wore an ankle bracelet whenever I worked on my novel, and the work I did seemed consistently stronger on the days I wore it.

Sometimes I wonder if this isn’t one of those Life Turning Points in which a mildly OCD person suddenly goes off the rails completely. Am I one more ball game away from choosing a lucky pair of earrings to wear to job interviews? Will I wake up next Thursday and not leave the house until I’ve seen a blue jay through the window? Will I have to sing some particular song in the shower every morning for reasons I can’t even speculate about? I imagine myself in a white room, on a white couch, in a white straitjacket, saying to a white-bearded doctor, “It all started with orange underwear.” Pause. “And I have to tell you, we’re not going to make any progress in this room, because my lucky color isn’t beige.”

While I was hunting for the escaped panties, I thought, reasonably, This is all superstitious crap, you know. They’re not going to lose because you can’t find your damn underwear with the cherries on it. The world doesn’t work that way. I stopped and considered this dose of reality for a moment. It had to be the truth: how could something I couldn’t find to wear, over 200 miles from the stadium, have anything to do with how the game would turn out? They’d win or lose based on plays, teamwork, a lot of fans showing up from Clemson… It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the panties. And then I remembered Kevin Costner, in “Bull Durham,” talking about Nuke the pitcher swearing off sex: You’ve been around this game long enough to know that if he thinks [he’s winning] because he’s not having sex, it IS because he’s not having sex.

I couldn’t find the goddamn panties.

Clemson lost to a much weaker team, 13-3. They made more mistakes and committed more penalties than they’d done so far in the other four games this season.

I watched the news earlier this week, in which one of the most talented players on the team was asked why he thought they lost. He looked near tears and said something to the effect of Maybe I’m not as good a player as I thought I was.

No, dude, I thought, switching off the news. You lost because I couldn’t find the right pair of orange panties.

Tylenolicious

Posted in Slices of Life (add $1 for ice cream) with tags , , , , , on November 18, 2007 by tigereye

The worst thing about being sick is this:

Tylenol.

I have a chest cold, one of those that manifests three nights ago as a little tickle in the back of your throat and overnight turns into wheezing and coughing like I’ve just run the Dust Bowl Marathon. It’s not the kind of sick I can deal with easily, either. I have chronic migraines, and while those constitute their own little circle of hell, at least I know how to cope with them: avoid bright lights and loud noises, lie down if I can, and meds, meds, meds. I’m a big believer in the pharmaceutical industry. Their marketing may be unconscionable, but anything that helped in the invention of Demerol gets the benefit of the doubt from me.

But like I said, Tylenol…

When did everything OTC suddenly have to have a flavor? Who even wanted it to? I’m of the ’70s generation, when NyQuil was only available in “green death flavor” (with apologies to Denis Leary), when a pill that rendered you unconscious for the entire allergy season was accepted and loved, when parents everywhere looked at any scrape or cut that didn’t go all the way through the body as a put-a-Band-Aid-on-it opportunity. It was medicine’s job to  taste disgusting if you let it sit in your mouth more than the two seconds required to raise the glass to your lips. The only flavored medicine I remember from my childhood was Robitussin, available in Cherry Unconsciousness. It clung to your lips for hours after you swallowed it, like the poison from Snow White’s apple.

Tylenol, that old warhorse, has apparently discovered everyone’s inner child and now makes their OTC cold/cough/allergy remedies “available in new Cool Burst flavor.”

Huh?

I didn’t think anything of this ’til I popped a couple of these in my mouth and was rewarded with the pitiful shadow of mint, like water in which a cheap after-dinner mint dissolved sometime last Tuesday. It was foul and vile and completely took my mind off my coughing and wheezing for as long as it took me to dig a Luden’s Throat Drop (now there’s cherry flavor for you!) out of the junk drawer and pop it into my mouth. Cool Burst, my ass; more like watered-down nausea.

I just wonder who came up with this and why. Am I the last to know it’s become fashionable to let plain old Tylenol-flavored Tylenol dissolve in your mouth now, like some kind of hazing ritual? Was there a great backlash against plain Tylenol from the Mint Growers of America? Had licking tablets of acetaminophen suddenly replaced licking toads as sport among the oxycontin-for-fun set?

I don’t know what prompted the question, but Cool Burst Tylenol isn’t the answer. Except it is — it’s the only way Tylenol specialties come now, Cool Burst or nothing. I’m reminded of an inventive vampire novel I read recently, in which vampires had become the world’s majority population and old useless items like boxes of cereal and bottles of aspirin were hot collectors’ items on eBay.

Where, come to think of it, I haven’t yet looked for plain old Tylenol, but it doesn’t seem like a bad place to start.