Monday, July 28, 2008

The next big thing

So many people have iPods and other portable music players these days. Sure, they're pretty much hands-free, but not everyone cares for earbuds.

I saw a man downtown the other night, walking down Michigan Avenue. On his shoulder he bore a music-playing device the dimensions of which approximated 12" x 8" x 3". It was a wireless marvel! No cumbersome wires to tangle, nothing wedged hotly and waxily into his ear canals, and no over-loud sound waves aimed directly at his eardrums, posing a risk of hearing damage. Furthermore, this player allowed him to continually improve the endurance of his shoulder and arm muscles.

Keep your eyes out for this exciting new trend in portable music!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The tongue of artistic concentration.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kapow! My head just exploded.

Mr. Tangerine was surfing the TV listings. The ABC Family channel is following Pat Robertson's 700 Club with syndicated reruns of That '70s Show. Yes, that's right: A Christian talk show (which I had no idea was still on the air) is in the same programming block as a sitcom featuring a lot of weed and beer, teenage sex talk, and neighbors' nudist parties.

Friday, July 25, 2008

How to tell someone they sound racist

Hip-hop video blogger Jay Smooth has the goods on how to call someone out for saying something racist. Key point: Focus on what the person did or said, not on what they are. I.e., saying "You're a racist" is a dead-end argument.

I hadn't heard of Jay Smooth until a friend-inside-the-internet sent me a YouTube link to the above-linked video. I clicked through to Ill Doctrine and scrolled down to his theory about "Wall-E"...aaand then subscribed to his RSS feed. I need another blog to follow like a need a hole in the head, but then, one can always use an extra hole in the head for ventilation purposes, right?

Plus, it's a video blog, and the guy is kinda cute.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

More orange product reviews

I was at 7-Eleven yesterday and saw not one, but two new fruit-flavored chewing gums in orange-hued packaging. Orbit White in Fruit Sorbet? Non-whitening Orbit in Fabulous Fruitini? Both crappy. I tried them both, spit them both out, and had to chew a third kind of gum to get the horrible flavors off my tastebuds. I had been afraid my purchase of Fresh Fruit flavored Spry gum was overly extravagant, what with playing for shipping. But no. It's the only gum that slakes my Trident Discontinued Fruit jones.

Today, I was looking for New Glarus's Spotted Cow cream ale, which Mr. Tangerine and I had in Wisconsin on Sunday. I wouldn't have thought something called "cream ale" would be up my alley, but it was light, crisp, refreshing, and low on the bitterness scale. The grocery store didn't have that, but they did have Buffalo Bill's Brewery's Orange Blossom Cream Ale, so I picked up a six-pack. Yum! Orangey, refreshing, kinda sweet, eminently drinkable. These beer snobs don't like it, and say things like "sour macro-lager-esque cheap grain/adjunct flavor," but hey, I like the flavor of oranges and I have a sweet tooth, so this is a good summer brew for me.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It is too late to vote

...but Ben wanted me to register his vote for winter as his favorite season. You can, he points out, have snowball fights during the winter, and who doesn't love pelting and being pelted with snowballs?

I was surprised that the 100% statistically valid poll results indicated that fall is a landslide winner (57%) in the race for favorite season. Who are you people who like fall the best? When all the green signs of natural life turn crunchy brown and disintegrate? When the days grow shorter and darker? When kids have homework again? Granted, it is delightful to get past hot, muggy summer doldrums, and Polartec fleece and cashmere have their appeal.

Thirty-five percent of you (...or of the teeny number who clicked on the poll) voted for summer. That's fine. Summer break, the beach, banishment of seasonal affective disorder, sandals—summer has its advantages.

But spring! Spring is lovely! Warmth, sun, and life return. Trees leaf out and the grass comes back to life after winter's brown dormancy. Crabapple trees (every time, I type that as "crapapple" on the first attempt) and lilac bushes blossom. (Apple blossoms are my #1 favorite scent.) Tulips, daffodils, violets, and crocuses all bloom. Who are all you haters who didn't choose spring as your favorite season? What have you got to say for yourselves, hmm?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

P.S. I finished another book last month

It's true! I have read two whole books this summer! I have gone beyond my usual rations of blogs and magazines and newspapers and read actual books. Besides Fun Home, I read The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts.

If you were a fan of Chris Farley or have an interest in addiction, check it out. The book takes the form of an oral history, weaving together stories recounted by people who were close to Chris Farley. Childhood friends, his brothers, fellow improv comedians, girlfriends, priests—they're all in there. It's the tale of a sweet man who did low-profile volunteer work because it was the right thing to do, who continually battled the demons of his addictions. Family pathology, damaged self-esteem, it's all in there. The book's a loving but tough portrait of the artist as a young man.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bad blogger procrastinates, feels low-grade remorse

Yes, it's been weeks since I posted here. Don't think I don't feel bad about it. It's all part of my Grand Procrastination Package, the deluxe model. Procrastination was, in fact, the topic of the day at therapy on Tuesday. The piddly things I put off—clerical crap, household stuff—there's no real payoff in tending to those things. What's the fun in calling the plumber? There isn't any. This doesn't really explain why I've been letting this blog lie fallow of late. I do like writing, I am self-absorbed, and I do enjoy conversing with you, my lovely readers. So blogging should be a thing I do instead of all those items on the to-do list, rather than being treated like one more item on the ceaseless list.

Anyway. What's been going on in the last several weeks? Well, this morning I had a touch of food poisoning, I think. I seem to have recovered quickly, though I'm still headachy.

A few weeks ago, I got some sort of good news from the kidney doc. He remains perplexed that my condition not only improved so markedly from the Bad Pregnancy Days, but has remained so stable in the intervening eight years. Maybe—just maybe—the kidneys will continue on this path for the foreseeable future, rather than being assured of tanking at some point. Until last month, I'd been working under the assumption that the tanking was inevitable. And now? Maybe it isn't. This is a hopeful thing, and it's dislodging the eventual-doom thinking, the assumption that I would absolutely need a transplant someday. Mind you, this new news doesn't change my day-to-day life at all—the same medication regimen and the same dietary restrictions/paranoia still hold. Yeah, I'm not getting to eat chocolate, nuts, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and legumes without having to budget for them any time soon. It's a big hassle, but certainly not life-threatening (but I reserve the right to whine).

Ben and I went to my 20th college reunion in June, and we both had a blast. We spent two days in Minneapolis with our friend Kristin, and three days on campus. As will happen on a college campus, Ben hooked up with a girl on his first night and they were practically inseparable. Both being 8 years old, the "hooking up" entailed running around outside, talking about favorite TV shows, attending a day camp program, and being field trip partners on the school bus. It was a weekend match made in heaven—Leah's an only child who doesn't mind playing with boys, and Ben's an only child who doesn't mind playing with girls. (And no, he hasn't written to her since then—but he does recount things he did with "my friend Leah." So sweet!)

I had feared that reunion weekend would entail Ben going to bed at 9 p.m. and me being trapped in our room while my classmates mingled late into the night. As it turned out, Ben did OK staying up until 11 p.m. (and kept busy with minimal supervision! such a treat), and I was tired enough to want to sleep then too. The summer solstice + Minnesota = blindingly bright sun penetrating the curtains around 5 a.m. And student housing = uncomfortable twin beds, so sleeping late wouldn't have come easy anyway.

Ben was busy in the camp program until 8 p.m. for two days of reunion, so there was plenty of grown-up time for me. Yay! It was great to just hang out and chat with people I'd mostly not seen for two decades. And there were congenial conversations with people I hadn't known during my college years, all of us being grown-up enough now to chat rather than hang back and wait for our own posses to appear. Sara, who reads this blog, was my roommate and co-DJ for part of sophomore year. (Hi, Sara!) She gave me crap about that last blog post, in which all I did was tout chewing gum. (Which I am chewing right now, I'll have you know.) Yeah, yeah. See what happens? You apply the pressure and then I procrastinate even more. That'll learn ya! If you're someone other than Sara and you went to college with me, I have no idea you're reading this—leave a comment to say hi, wouldja?

Every couple days, there's some little thing that makes me think, "I should blog this." But since I had procrastinated on The Big Post, I couldn't very well just write a short one, could I? Yes, I could. But it's that sort of all-or-nothing thinking that permeates a lot of my procrastination. Is there a pill for that? No? Damn.

I wonder what all those little bloggable items were. Let's see... I finally finished reading another book. I'd started Alison Bechdel's Fun Home last year, as bedtime reading, and maybe a new Games magazine drew my focus elsewhere for a while...and then the book ended up buried in a stack and forgotten. Somewhere recently I came across a link to Bechdel's blog and this post, and then I felt terrible that I had allowed myself to put down a book by an artist who had also played the Authors card game as a kid. (Anyone else remember the Authors deck, illustrated with portraits of various writers who'd written at least four noteworthy titles? Loved it!) So I picked up the book, reread the first half, and finally read the second half. Great memoir! And well-illustrated, given that it's a graphic memoir (graphic as in "graphic novel," with minor bits of graphic like "graphic nudity"). Let me know if you want to borrow the book.

Hmm, it's 80° inside now. Maybe I'll turn the air conditioner on.

The new Batman movie, Dark Knight, opens next week. Given that the movie was filmed in Chicago, with some parts shot just a block away from where we live and other parts making use of classic Chicago scenery like lower Wacker Drive, I'd like to take Ben to see it. The advance word is that the movie's great, but will the violence level exceed what I'm comfortable with my kid seeing? I guess we could always cover his eyes, as we did during the brief torture scenes in Iron Man. Ben tends to like scary stuff, so we'll see.

Before the school year ended, the second-graders got a visit from a third-grade teacher giving them a heads-up about the coming year. More homework! Every day! Even on weekends and holidays! Oy. This sucks. Third grade is the year that the standardized testing kicks in, so there will be a ton of "teaching to the test" up until testing week. Ick. Just seven more weeks of no homework before the school year starts and my afternoons become stressful. I just ordered a CD video game called Math Blaster, which a friend credits for her son's straight A's in math last year. Ben mostly gets B's and C's in math, so I figure it's worth a shot and maybe it'll help smooth over third-grade homework woes.

Speaking of school, what are the odds that the next president will roll back No Child Left Behind and all its teaching-to-the-test crap?

Time for lunch. Thanks for tolerating three weeks of blogging smushed into a single post, dear hearts!