Thursday, March 30, 2006

"It's the plumber"

Remember the classic cartoon from The Electric Company in which the plumber arrives at a house and knocks or rings the doorbell, and the parrot asks, "Whooo is it?" The plumber replies, "It's the plumber. I've come to fix the sink." But the parrot never says anything but "Who is it?" So the plumber becomes increasingly apoplectic that no one will let him into the house. After several go-rounds of this, the plumber collapses in a fit of rage. Then an old lady comes home, discovers him lying there, and gasps, "Who is it?" The parrot answers, of course, "It's the plumber. He's come to fix the sink." (Ba-dump!)

We had some water pipe work done in my condo building last week, which unleashed all manner of sediment in the pipes and sent the sediment into the filter dealies in our kitchen faucets, diminishing the water pressure to sad levels. One round of cleaning out the faucets last week didn't do the trick, because there was plenty more sediment remaining. So the plumbers came back yesterday to tend to our faucets. The two who came to my kitchen were an old, grizzled, seemingly dim one...and a strikingly cute young one who inspires thoughts of cheesy porn movies. Even with the mustard-gold coveralls, a matching hat, and a bulky coat, that face was obvious in its cuteness. (I bet he gets hit on a lot when he makes solo house calls.)

I was talking to Lisa on the phone after the plumbers left, when my doorbell rang. (Poetic license—the "doorbell" is actually a raucous buzzer that frightens my mother when she's here.) "Hang on a sec, Lisa. Who is it?"

"It's the plumber," said the handsome boy. "I've come to ravish you." No, wait, he didn't say that. "I've come to fix the sink." No, wait, he already fixed my sink. Actually, he said, "I need to leave a bill in the mailbox." Reality bites.

(Lisa said I had to blog about this, because she waited fruitlessly for a hot contractor when she had her home office redone last year. But Lisa's a troublemaker, she is. She used to regularly write "Fantasy Friday" posts, and I came across this one, UPS Man, in the archives. I've had the same UPS man for almost a decade, and he is kinda hot. It was embarrassing to open the door to the UPS guy after I read that story...)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Orange ascending

Hey, hey! I'm pleased with how I did at the crossword tournament. Those of you who know who I am can find my name in the rankings, and those of you who don't can continue wondering. (I like a degree of anonymity, I do. But I was kicking ass and taking names.)

I had a great time, and spent scarcely any time in my hotel room. There was carousing to carry out, maximal mingling, a soup├žon of drinking, extended social intercourse...plus crossword puzzles. Who has time to sleep, or watch TV, or unpack? I hung out with some of the folks who were at Sundance in January, caught up with other old internet-based friends, met plenty of new people, chatted with drunken individuals both charming and off-putting. (This one broad was taller than me, and she kept looming into my personal space in a drunken stupor. I don't object to drunken stupors—just don't be a space-invading close-talker who smells like an ashtray. You know what I'm saying?)

I have always found myself to be utterly unaware of any direct ogling of my bosom. It must happen from time to time, but either I'm oblivious or I inspire a subtle approach. But at one of the parties, my rack was overtly ogled by a leader in the crossword field, who at least was forthright enough not to deny it. It was...odd. I daresay I prefer the covert ogle.

I met "Jeopardy!" ├╝berchampion, Ken Jennings, who was competing at the tournament. He did quite well for a rookie...but not as well as I did in my first year at the tournament. I ranked way ahead of him. (Hah! Bragging rights! Who needs $2.5 million anyway?) He was a little taller and cuter in person, and seemingly not at all insufferable. He had thoughtful remarks in his speech at the awards luncheon, and he was the one reading off names of all the prize winners (a certain citrus fruit included).

You want to know how smart the tournament crowd is? I think there were about a dozen people there who've been on "Jeopardy!" before, and there will assuredly be more. Ain't that cool? If you're not quite geeky enough to appreciate that, then frankly, I'm not sure why you even read my blog. Seriously.

Also, Wordplay will be opening in NYC on June 16, LA on June 23, and in roughly the top 25 markets on June 30 (Fourth of July weekend). If you live in a top-25 city, tell your friends! Those opening-weekend box office numbers are crucial, you know, and if the movie doesn't do well then, then those of you in smaller markets won't get a chance to see it in your area. So if you're in a big city, go see the movie on opening weekend! Take the opportunity to ogle my rack from the privacy of your plush movie seat!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Heading out

One more day and a night before I fly to Stamford, Connecticut, for this year's American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. Now, nobody's filming a Major Motion Picture of the documentary persuasion at the tournament this time—but there will be a sneak preview of said Motion Picture at the tournament, so I'll get to see Wordplay for the third time. Hooray! Will it ever get old, seeing a movie with people I know in it, with a few moments of me onscreen? I hope not.

I just bought a laptop today (I blame Lisa—she's a ba-a-a-ad influence!), so it's possible I will blog from the East Coast. It's also possible I'll be too busy—not because of the crosswords themselves (those will occupy only a couple hours of my attention), but because of the social whirlwind. Yes, word geeks have social whirlwinds, too. The tournament is a place where we can wield our $15 words and never be met with a blank stare. I know a ton of frightfully intelligent people, I do—but you get 500 crossword nuts together in a hotel ballroom, and the air crackles with synaptic connections.

Anyway, last year I placed in the top 20. I'd like to make the top 10 this year, but there are a number of determined individuals who will endeavor to fill those 10 spots themselves. If I stay in the top 20 and I have a grand old time, I'll consider the weekend a raging success. If I plummet in the standings but still have a good time, still a success. If I have a sucky time and don't do well in the competition, then, duh.

If you quit checking the comments on the nutty search post, head back and read the horrifying poem E. has crafted...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Another blogger meet-up

I love meeting far-flung bloggers in person. So far I've met flea, JT, Dr. B, the Feral Mom, Lisa, ding, and Stella from this blogroll—and yesterday, DoctorMama and I had brunch.

The good doctor and I went to M. Henry instead of the restaurant called Orange because I'd heard Orange makes you wait 1 to 2 hours for a table on weekends. Horrors! So we went to the other place and waited...for an hour. (They're expanding in another week, and god knows they could use the extra capacity.) It was nice to spend some time in the sun, hungry or no, and the conversation was superb. I've not been disappointed by any blogger meet-ups to date, and I wish I could meet everyone else, too, because I know the conversation would flow if you could just peel us away from our keyboards and put us in the same city.

DoctorMama endeared herself to me eternally when she began perusing the menu and announced that she was ruling out various dishes based on their ingredients—which is exactly my approach to every restaurant menu. I'm nowhere near the picky eater I once was, but I'm going to filter out any and all of the following: red meat, shellfish, broccoli, mustard, eggplant, mango/papaya/guava, Swiss cheese, tuna, green or red peppers, red wine, mushrooms, celery, olives, an overreliance on the onion family, peas, cooked cauliflower, overly salty stuff, sushi, and more than a minimal amount of mayonnaise. That may sound super-picky, but I swear I eat a lot of different foods—just not much of those particular ones (I'll eat spicy samosas with a few peas in them, or potatoes aioli). I had scrambled eggs with house potatoes and toast—and those damn potatoes had regular onions, green onions, red peppers, and green peppers. I could've eaten them (after scraping off the unwanted bits) if they hadn't spent too much time being blackened in the kitchen. (Grr.) I ordered eggs because I felt like having a little protein for a change, but I should've copied DoctorMama and opted for sweet carbs. The lemon/raspberry French toast looked good...but I don't like too much lemon. I always rule out lemon desserts. And quit mocking me. It's a very efficient way of choosing from a menu. Mr. Tangerine is basically willing to eat everything, so he has a much tougher time choosing a dish.

By the way, DoctorMama's broken-by-the-kid, reset-by-herself nose looks perfectly fine. Her history as a household prizefighter is not readily apparent to the observer. Also, she has great hair.

After brunch, I drove DoctorMama back downtown to her hotel (insert the parking misadventure of your choice here) and came in to meet la familia DoctorMama. AngelBaby is adorable, with big brown eyes and an agreeable nature (to hear it from him, yes, they did see pink gorillas at the aquarium). TrophyHusband has great eyes, too, and a nice smile; he shared an anecdote concerning a quasi-colleague recently eaten by a crocodile (no kidding). And the parents who spawned DoctorMama are also lovely people, doting on AngelBaby while Mama went to brunch.

Then when I finally went home, Ben greeted me with a bear hug...and the announcement that he liked it better when I was gone because he and Daddy rocked the house with video games. (Hmph.)

Okay, let's be interactive. If you're not an omnivore like Mr. Tangerine, what foods do you instantly rule out? And if you are an omnivore, go ahead and pat yourself on the back. What's that? You patted yourself on the back four paragraphs ago because you were feeling superior? Yeah, I knew it. You omnivores always think you and your undiscerning palates are better than everyone else.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Anatomy for kindergartners

Because I will be brunching with the eminent physician DoctorMama tomorrow, today's post touches on the topics of anatomy and physiology. (I am still trying to decide if we should eat at a place called Orange—no shit! a restaurant called Orange! specializing in brunch!—that I've never been to, or a tried-and-true joint called M. Henry that my friends and I like. The Orange place serves frushi, which is fruit and rice done up sushi-style. Both restaurants offer grown-up breakfast food containing chocolate, so we can't go wrong either way. You know what's going to happen, right? Those of you who read this blog and DoctorMama's know what we're gonna look at. I'm going to be inspecting her butt to see if it's as nonexistent as she claims, and she's going to look about a foot beneath my eyes.

Without further ado, anatomy and physiology, kindergarten style:

Ben is fascinated by the process of digestion. He enjoys studying the pictures in various anatomy books, and he likes to have What Happens to a Hamburger read aloud to him. While he has a good basic grasp of what goes on, at times the details get a little fuzzy. A few days ago, he said something like, “And then the food goes into the uterus,” as if the womb was but a way station between the stomach and colon.

The next morning, he was again outlining where food goes after it’s eaten. “And then it goes into the intesticles,” he explained.

Perhaps it's time to have an in-depth discussion of the reproductive bits? Ben loves the concept of the fetus getting its nourishment via the umbilical cord, but he envisions a baby slurping on a flexible straw coming out of its bellybutton. I can't help but think that not-yet-six is a tad young to be learning a lot about these things, but maybe the boy is ready. What do you think?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Laughing what off?

A year ago, I railed against LOL and ROTFLMAO. I am pleased to report that there's another convert to the crusade: The Assimilated Negro does not like ROTFLMAO. At all.

You know what's unfortunate? That those cheesy abbreviations and even cheesier emoticons sometimes offer the most expedient way of conveying certain feelings in writing. We need new fonts. Like the Ironic font, so dimwitted readers won't misunderstand. (I somehow doubt that TAN is truly riled up by rampant deployment of ROTFLMAO. The people who think the term actually makes him mad could have benefited from the Ironic font.) The Amused font, so that you can simply reply to something without explicitly expressing your amusement—the font will tell the reader that you may have laughed aloud or may have been silently amused; the location of any laughter (floor or elsewhere) and the status of one's ass (on or off) need not be spelled out.

Something must be done, really. I can only write Heh. so many times before I'm mistaken for a pale, estrogenic James Brown. Solutions, anyone?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

I can't help myself

Whenever someone writes about the nutty search queries that have led people to their blog, I can't resist delving into my Site Meter records and seeing what my random readers are hoping to find here. Today, it was tootsie roll's guest post at Bored Housewife that provided that temptation. I really don't know why four people searched for bloody heads, and why they uselessly clicked on the link for Orange Tangerine in their pursuit of bloody head–related information. And several orthographically impaired individuals searched for swimwere. Yes, I made fun of a motel swimming pool sign with a misspelling, but no, I have no further details pertaining to "swimwere." Swimwerewolf? Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Swimwererabbit?

Here are some other lively ones. Try not to think about them too much:

am kingdom hairy
brazilian wax codeine
end a sentence with me
i built up my butt but it shrank again
intellectual boredom
love bulge
menopausal farting
mister rogers flip the bird
morning call thinking about cremation
nipples turned orange
orange snot sinus
organic milk zits
poo averages
rate my spooge
small orange balls discharge after ejaculation
some sad depressing horrifying poems
what does it mean if my poo is orange
what's the largest pencil?
why don't guys have butts?

Monday, March 13, 2006

Google Image meme

I grabbed this memey thing from Ellen: Use the picture you like best from the first (no clicking around for 44 pages) page of the search results on Google Image.

1. The city and state of the town you grew up, no quotation marks.

Three years ago, my hometown became a meteorite strewnfield, for real.

2. The town where you currently reside.

Aw, pretty.

3. Your name, first and last, but again, no quotes.

I'll pass.

4. Your grandmother's name.

Shriners!

5. Your favorite food.

chocolate raspberry, an irresistible combination.

6. Your favorite drink.

Honest.

7. Your favorite smell.

Surprised?

The contest is over!

Yesterday, JT and I took our boys out to Flea's house to cook, eat, and judge the dishes entered into the Embarrassing Dinner contest. The kids played in the backyard (the threatened rain didn't materialize until later), enjoying the unseaonably warm weather. Flea's husband Steve made himself scarce, and us womenfolks stayed in the kitchen (only Flea was barefoot, and none of us is pregnant), cooking all afternoon. As you can see in Flea's results post, we had a great time. It's always a laff riot when Flea and JT and I get together, but it was a near miracle that we didn't wet our pants from laughing so hard. The blurry photos are those taken when the person holding the camera was snorting, guffawing, or otherwise expressing deepest amusement.

What I learned:

• Nearly everything of a casserolish nature looks utterly disgusting at some point before it goes into the oven, and sometimes afterwards as well.

• Kids go nuts for hot dogs cut to look like octopi, and for green food. The nut has a zillion kid-tested ideas for quick-and-easy kid meals, and I think she ought to post them all at her blog, amid the political posts.

• Cooking is more fun with beer at hand.

• My child is an incredibly undiscerning eater. He was the only kid who was willing to try everything, and he even had extra helpings of the Jackpot Casserole and Cheesy Potatoes. (This amazed Flea and JT. But I take no credit for Ben's adventruous palate. He gets it from Mr. Tangerine, who has eaten Rice Krispies treats with mashed potatoes on top, and mac and cheese with raspberry vinaigrette mixed in.) Ben rubbed his belly and said "Mmm, delicious!" upon his first bite of everything, pronounced everything "super good," and was reluctant to play favorites. I swear this boy is going to end up in politics or sales when he grows up. He's a natural people-pleaser and schmoozer.

Edited to add the recipes (annotated):

Smussyolay's Cheesy Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 16 oz container sour cream
1 1/2 bags of frozen, shredded hash browns (approx 2 lbs?)—we used one 30 oz bag of Ore-Ida hash browns)
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 stick of butter/margarine
4 cups of shredded cheddar cheese (more to taste)

Directions:

Get greased pan/foil pan. Put hash browns in a large bowl. Melt butter. Add sour cream, mushroom soup, and melted butter to hash browns (mix the butter with the other goop first so it doesn't freeze solid amid the hash browns). Mix. Mix. Mix, until all hash browns have been covered in the ingredients. This is a slightly tedious process and may take awhile. Slowly add cheese once things are somewhat moist.

Put in oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. You want them to be solid and slightly browned. You can add crunchy things on top like potato chips or those shoestring onions. (We didn't add crunchies, and there was really no browning. I recommend adding a brownable, crunchable topping; my sister likes this with crumbled corn flakes on top. Whatever you do, don't skip that sour cream. Yum!)

Midwestern Deadbeat's Mama's Chicken Pot Pie

4 c. chicken breasts, cooked and chopped (that's maybe about 5–6 chicken breasts)
1 c. chicken broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can Veg-All mixed vegetables

1 stick margarine, melted (we used butter)
1 c. milk
1 c. self-rising flour
1 t. baking powder

Mix first group together and pour in 9 x 13 Pyrex dish. Mix second group together and pour on top. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees. (I think this recipe could use more seasoning. Despite all the canned stuff, amazingly, it wasn't too salty. But maybe add some black pepper. Also, we forgot this in the oven and cooked it about 15 extra minutes—didn't burn at all.)

Jen's Jackpot Casserole

1/2 c. chopped onions
1 T oil
1 package (20 oz) of ground turkey
1 can tomato soup
1 c. water
1/2 package egg noodles
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 can creamed corn

In large saucepan, saute onions in oil for 3 mins. until soft. Add turkey, can of soup, water, and noodles. Cook until noodles begin to get tender. Add creamed corn and shredded sharp cheddar cheese until just mixed. Pour into casserole and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (The menfolk seasoned their servings liberally with hot sauce or pepper flakes.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

South Dakota ban hits close to home

The South Dakota Legislature has opted to ban abortion in all circumstances except to save the life of the pregnant woman. Not to preserve the woman’s health. Not to end a pregnancy resulting from rape or incest.

Let me tell you what the South Dakota abortion ban would mean to me if I lived in South Dakota and got pregnant.

If I were to become pregnant, it would probably not be life-threatening to me—if I received plenty of medical attention from a perinatologist (weekly appointments sufficed during my first pregnancy, but I might need more intensive monitoring for a subsequent pregnancy), if I followed my doctor’s instructions to the letter, if I took assorted prescription medications, and if I called my doctor promptly if anything seemed amiss. Sure, I’d probably end up in the hospital a few times, the baby would be born very prematurely, and my health would suffer greatly (I’m talking about organ failure here) over the long term, but I probably wouldn’t die so long as I was a model patient and my doctor was a model physician. Sure, my lifespan might well be shortened as a result of the pregnancy-related complications, but I probably wouldn’t die within nine months of conception. Under South Dakota law, termination would not be an option for me, despite the clear and present danger to my health.

You might say, “Well, if your health concerns you that much, then you just have to make sure you never get pregnant.” I do have an IUD, but those aren’t absolutely 100% effective (very close, though). “So why doesn’t your husband get a vasectomy?” Well, that posits that he’s the only man with sperm. If he got a vasectomy, that would do nothing to prevent a rapist from attacking me. “Why don’t you get your tubes tied, then?” From my perspective, my body has enough problems already; I hesitate to assume the medical risks associated with a completely elective surgical procedure. I hope never to become pregnant again, although I wouldn’t mind having another child—but if I did get pregnant, I’d seek an abortion.

I know most of my readers are pro-choice, but there may be a few of you who don’t object to South Dakota’s abortion ban and its lack of an exception for preserving the woman’s health. Such a law sends the message that my life isn’t worth it, that my life and health don’t matter, that an embryo has more right to a full lifespan than I do. I beg to differ. If you don’t support a woman’s right to choose abortion, if you think preserving a woman’s health isn’t a good enough reason for abortion—tell me why you'd want me to die early.

[Note: I also strongly support the right to abortion in cases where the woman’s health is not at stake—I deplore all aspects of the South Dakota statute. Other circumstances are beyond the scope of this short personal essay, however.]

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Peak experience

What is a peak experience? How does one define bliss? I have an example.

It was almost 50 degrees out when I picked Ben up from school, so instead of heading straight home, we went for a long walk around the neighborhood. He practiced some balance-beam walking at one of the school playgrounds. We inspected various forms of nature. We discussed real estate values and window design. We took a nostalgic walk past his old school (and waved at his pre-K teachers hard at work). We played "catch the droplet" beneath a dripping downspout (sounds gross, but doesn't water clean itself during a three-story fall? and I told him to keep his mouth closed).

Ben was dragging his feet the closer we got to our street. Home to homework, home to the regular routine? He wanted to stay out. We got to the street just northwest of ours and discovered a bonanza: a backhoe and a cement mixer truck, men at work. It wasn't a major job—they'd cut and jackhammered a narrow trench and laid down some phone cables or something, and were beginning to fill the trench with fresh wet concrete. So we watched from the sidewalk as the lumpy gray pudding filled the trench and a man with a shovel smoothed it out a bit. When the trench was filled, a Teamster rinsed the truck and stowed the halfpipe pieces. (And no, I don't know if cement mixers use snowboard terminology.) Another worker clambered up into the driver's seat of the backhoe and whizzed around the tiny side street like a madman, shoving giant metal plates across the pavement to cover the freshly filled trench.

When the backhoe operator (who's got two boys of his own) was down to his last couple plates, he asked Ben if he wanted to do some work. So he pulled Ben up into the cabin onto his knee, and the fellas got to work. Ben was up there for less than five minutes, but I think that was plenty. When he climbed down, the look on his face was one of sheer bliss. My child was full of happy love for Mommy because he was now a backhoe operator. These were the happiest hugs he's ever bestowed, bar none. (The greeting he gave me after I spent five days out of town at Sundance? That was nothing compared with this.) If Ben had ever seen Jerry Maguire, I'm sure he'd have told the construction equipment, "You complete me." A boy and a backhoe. Could there be a sweeter pairing than that?

Sheer bliss.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Redirect

Today's post is a guest post I wrote for Lisa's blog, Bored Housewife, so follow me over there today. The subject is fantasies...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Hemorr-Ice!

Dude, I got carded tonight when I ordered a Leinenkugel Red with dinner. Carded! At age 38...ish. Heh.

Speaking of heh, I came across a small sheet of product instructions over at my grandma's place today. Have you ever heard of Hemorr-Ice? This handy product is still available!? In short, Hemorr-Ice is an ice pack designed to reach hemorrhoids. It's the world's tiniest buttplug, and you store it in your freezer. When your 'roids are ailing you, take your Hemorr-Ice out of the freezer, lube it up, and stick it up your bunghole "for 2 to 5 minutes, depending upon the severity of your case." Does that sound a bit shocking? Don't worry—"The discomfort is short-lived and harmless." Then you wash it ("thoroughly with soap and warm water") and pop it back in the freezer for next time. (And please, don't mistake it for a popsicle.)

How long will the treatment take, doctor? "In general, the treatment period for Hemorr-Ice is two insertions per day, morning and evening"—say, with breakfast and then for dessert after dinner—"for one to two weeks. More severe cases may take as long as one month."

Helpful hint for parents: I bet Hemorr-Ice works wonders for the teething baby as well. (Although be mindful of the choking hazard it may pose.) Hemorr-Ice: Good for the whole family!

Monday, March 06, 2006

Four Things

Okay, Mignon tagged me for the Four Things meme. I haven’t really been reading these when various people have posted theirs, but hell, I’ve got to post something, so let’s do the meme.

Four jobs I've had:

• College cafeteria dishroom lackey (temporarily burned off my fingerprints)
• Video store clerk (they rented porn, too)
• College library Finder of Lost Books
• Editorial assistant

Four movies I can watch over and over:

• Sixteen Candles
• When Harry Met Sally…
• The Arrival
• The Sure Thing

Four places I've lived:

• Chicago, IL
• Park Forest, IL
• Northfield, MN
• Sorry, that’s it—but there were multiple abodes in each of those locales

Four places I've been on vacation:

• Prague, Czech Republic
• Orlando, FL, over and over
• Whistler, BC
• Driving through central and Northern California

Four websites I visit daily:

Bitch Ph.D.
One Good Thing
Bored Housewife
Chicago Tribune

Four of my favorite foods:

• Raspberries
• Chocolate
• Mashed potatoes with plenty of butter
• Skim milk
• Peanut butter (yeah, I know that’s five)

Four places I'd rather be:

• In bed with Mr. Tangerine, the kid asleep down the hall
• Anywhere balmy and peaceful, say, 72 degrees and mostly sunny
• On vacation somewhere I’ve never been (a tropical island, a European capital…)
• Sitting in a restaurant with close friends, having good food, conversation, and wine

Four bloggers I'm tagging:

Mona
The Feral Mom
The Nut
DoctorMama

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Today's anatomy lesson

Today's lesson in female anatomy comes from Susie Bright's post about the G-spot. G-spot factoid I did not know: "If you're rubbing it in the absence of arousal, NOTHING will happen. You will yawn." Get started first, then tend to the G-spot.

Susie links to the G-Spot Center, which offers facts, how to, positions, testimonials, toys, and other resources. If you are a woman or you ever plan to be intimate with one, you might do well to read up. But maybe not at work—there are NSFW illustrations that, while they might be educational for your boss, maybe you don't want to be caught looking at on the company dime.