Friday, June 30, 2006

Shouldn't I be napping?

Mr. Tangerine woke me up at 4:30 this morning and said, "I smell smoke." Fortunately, the fire was over a mile away, and in a brand-new (still unoccupied) building—but enough smoke stink managed to waft in through our windows that the house still smells smoky. He went back to bed an hour later, but I stayed up.

Mr. Tangerine hasn't shaved his face in two weeks, and he's seeing if he can grow a respectable beard. (And yes, I believe this came out of nowhere. He hasn't been talking about it, hasn't had facial hair before, hadn't gone more than a week without shaving previously.) And since seeing Wordplay, he's been bitten by the crossword-solving bug. I used to have a clean-shaven, TV-watching man on my couch. And now? I have a deliciously whiskery guy who turns away from the TV and picks up a book of crosswords. It's like getting a free bonus husband, without the hassle of having to pick up after two of them at once. In my book, a good-looking man working a crossword is extra hot. (Is my book a little weird?)

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Obligatory update

I've been so busy over the past week. I went to the movies (or, more accurately, the movie singular) four times. I've had a rush editing job (whew! finished it last night). I've had a couple trips to the gym (down five pounds since a month ago!). And now, I've got two hours to do the obligatory tidying up the house before the cleaning lady comes (and before my sister and her kids come to my 'hood for a Cubs game with me and Ben). So instead of straightening up the house, I blog.

Since the last post: Mr. Tangerine and I went to a word-of-mouth advance screening of Wordplay last Thursday. My aunt also attended and brought a friend who's an entertainment columnist for a local suburban paper. After the screening, the movie folks summoned me to the front of the theater to join them in the Q&A, which was a blast. (Twenty years ago, I would have been too painfully shy to survive such a thing, but now? Hell, I'm in a movie.)

Friday night, I caught dinner and the movie with an old friend. She squealed every time I appeared on screen, which was fun.

Saturday, I caught the matinee with my son, my mom, my sister, and my sister's kids. Impressively, the film managed to hold Ben's interest, even before I popped up on the screen. (He liked Jon Stewart's shouting and gesticulating.)

Sunday, I walked the streets after the LGBT Pride Parade. I missed the parade, but not the parade crowds hanging out or walking home. The coolest sights were paramedics on official Segways (I wonder if they have lights and sirens...); a guy in a Cubs shirt holding hands with both a cute girl and another guy wearing a Cubs shirt; 14 mounted police astride their horses; a lean fella in silver platform go-go boots, a white fringed miniskirt, nipple rings, and a white wig. You really make good time as a pedestrian walking in the middle of the street when it's closed to auto traffic. So I walked to the cinema and met another friend for the movie. Afterwards, the director, Patrick Creadon, did a Q&A, but most of the audience had skedaddled before he arrived. (Philistines! How could they not sit still until the end of the credits? Those songs were awesome.) Walking home, I passed a couple guys in a doorway, nuzzling, rubbing each other's shoulders, and looking longingly horny. Yum! Maybe I should buy one of those Romentics gay romance novels?

Monday morning, I met up with the aforementioned entertainment columnist and a photographer for an interview (heh). Ben started day camp on Monday, which looks to be tremendous fun (though there's always an adjustment to a new schedule, and in Ben's case, adjustment means calling me a "big dummy-head").

Tuesday, after camp, Ben and I got ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Our local branch is cheese-free, and I've never heard the employees sing when the tip jar receives money. Heck, I put a dollar bill in the jar (the guy let me buy a cheap and small kids' scoop for myself, which I appreciated), and the guy merely said "thanks." I pity those of you who cannot readily obtain ice cream with candy bars smushed in without having to listen to disgruntled counter help singing.

Yesterday involved the gym, taking Ben to camp, and doing plenty of editing. And today, we'll head to Wrigley Field at lunchtime.

You know what? If you're thinking this post was frightfully dull, count your blessings. At least I didn't detail what I ate at mealtimes. It could be worse.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Two things

1. What could possibly be cuter than a 6-year-old kid taking a shower, singing that "My name is Yon Yonson" song? (His father has taught him well.) I absolutely love the sound of my child singing in the shower, or singing whatever he wants to talk about rather than merely speaking. (Speaking is so five minutes ago.)

2. It's Wordplay mania! It opens tomorrow in about 45 cities, including Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Atlanta...I could go on and on, except I haven't got any sort of detailed list. Check your local listings, dudes. I'll be attending a sneak preview tonight with Mr. Tangerine, who has not yet seen his wife on the silver screen. Those of you who haven't seen Wordplay but plan to, and who are keen on seeing my citrusy self on screen, here's how to find me: Sit through the first hour of the movie, which is filled with famous crossword fans like Jon Stewart, and learn about how crosswords are made. When the documentary proceeds to immerse itself in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, look for a woman in a lime-green long-sleeved tee (a lighter, brighter shade than the frame of this blog). When a guy named Al Sanders is sitting in a row of chairs in a crowded hotel ballroom discussing...things, look for the brunette in a lime-green shirt a few seats down the row. (Sitting next to a blonde woman in more of a Kelly green shirt.) A little later on, you may espy Orange in Lime giving a trademark curtsy. And I pop up for an instant several other times. Then, if you're nosy and don't know my real name, you can read the credits and try to guess my name (I'm grouped with the "also featuring" crowd). I don't speak on camera, but I assure you, I am seldom at a loss for words. I like to hear myself talk. Unless it's on a recording—then I hate to hear myself talk. I like to say that the reason I show up in the movie is because it's tough to market a nonviolent movie without any T&A, and I bring some T to the table. (Although there's also a parade of Broadway hopefuls with cleavage earlier in the film.)

And if Wordplay isn't opening this week in your town, maybe it will come on June 30. Or in July.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are you afraid to walk home alone at night?

I reckon many of you read Bitch Ph.D.'s blog more often than you land on this page, so you may have already seen her post on women, men, and fear. Those of you who haven't, I urge you to read the post and the discussion in the comments. The subjects touched upon include wolf-whistles and catcalls; how late-night street crime affects men more, even though it's women who tend to be afraid to walk alone at night; the vulnerability that accompanies poverty; Take Back the Night; self defense and street smarts. Get yourself a beverage first, because you're in for a long and thought-provoking read.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Freebie List: Sports Edition

When you spend Father's Day with your golf-nut in-laws, you're gonna see some televised golf. We watched the last hour of the U.S. Open, in which both aging and portly Colin Montgomerie and beginning-to-age and portly Phil Mickelson self-destructed, leaving young, lean Australian golfer Geoff Ogilvy to win the tournament. It's not that I'm a sucker for an Australian accent (I don't mind it, of course), but just look at this long drink of water: There's a nice photo in this old BBC article. And his hair's all mussed up in the SI page. It's slim pickings in the golf world—I think Ogilvy's about as good as it gets.

Tennis is loaded with hot men, of course. To wit, James Blake and Andy Roddick. (And this page I ran across doesn't feature the handsomest athletes, but there are streakers.)

I can't think of any exceptional hotties in the arenas of baseball, football, basketball, or hockey. And that's fine. What I need to know now is who the hot World Cup footballers are. Any nominations? I haven't been watching the matches with Mr. Tangerine (instead I've been a World Cup widow), but if you tell me which teams have the best-looking players, I might take an interest.

Wait! I do have a favorite baseball player! It's Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina. I don't know how good a player he is (pretty accomplished, I think), but he's awfully cute, especially when he's talking while solving a crossword puzzle in Wordplay. According to his foundation website, he graduated from Stanford in 3½ years (majored in economics), and the Mike Mussina Foundation provides college scholarships. What's not to like? Other than the fact that he plays for (cough) the Yankees, that is.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Only in America, no?

I walked past a plumbing boutique this evening, and I always like to check out the tableaux in the display windows. For instance, one window featured a wide rectangular washbasin and a squarish toilet. It's fine to be artsy in your bathroom design, but your choices in toilet seat replacements are mighty constrained if your toilet's a crazy shape. I have also seen an octagonal toilet in this store.

And now, they're selling the Great John toilet. Check out that picture. The opening in the toilet seat isn't smaller, no ma'am. It's the seat surrounding the opening that's enormous—over two feet wide, in fact. It's a shame the opening isn't jumbo-sized, too, because then you and your loved one could park butt to butt and have total togetherness when peeing. Wouldn't that be romantic?

I was surprised to learn from the website that you actually can buy the Great John outside the United States (okay, only in Ottawa, Ontario, but still, it's quintessentially American).

Saturday, June 17, 2006

No head for business

Ben has excellent schmoozing skills and instinctively knows how to ingratiate himself to others. For example, he didn't flinch when a medical assistant at the pediatrician's office injected the PPD under his skin for a TB test (we couldn't get the waiver because he's visited my grandma in the nursing home, dangit)—instead, when the skin bubbled outward as the liquid was dispensed beneath his skin, he said, "Wow, cool!" And he's big on the "Oh, thank you!" shtick, too. So I've always said the kid may end up in politics or sales, because he can schmooze.

He'd make a terrible entrepreneur, however. Today, he made up a game with a car wash scenario. The car wash costs "$5.99 plus a dollar," which is fair. But when I asked him if his customers would get a price break on the wash if they bought a tank of gas, he informed me that the gas would be free. Now, any gas station offering a free fill-up with any wash would have a line about 10 miles long—but poor Proprietor Ben would go broke in a jiffy.

P.S. I am glad I live in an era and culture in which air conditioners are widely available. Because the heat and humidity, they do tend to make one cranky. And we can't have that, can we?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cranky Day

I hereby decree today to be Cranky Day. Some might choose to recognize Flag Day, but I assure you, it is also Cranky Day—one of those up-and-down days punctuated by ill temper.

This morning Ben graduated from kindergarten. The ceremony was cute, and Ben was in the middle of the front row—helpful when there are upwards of 150 kindergartners on stage. (Hooray!) But we were all sardined into the folding chairs, and the air conditioning didn't keep up well with the crowd. (Cranky.) And whenever I was about to take a photo of Ben, somebody in front of me would reposition themselves so that I could get a great snapshot of the back of their head. (Cranky.) Then it was time for cake. (Yippee!) But the lines to the cake tables were mayhem, and they ran out of plates, and I ended up carrying three tiny pieces of cake for me, Mr. Tangerine, and my mother atop a single napkin. (Cranky.) But the cake was pretty good. (Yum.)

Then we went back to the classroom for distribution of miscellaneous awards. (Hooray!) Still too crowded and warm. (Cranky.) Then it turned out that families could either leave the kid there for the rest of the school day (as I'd expected) or take them home—and Ben cried because he wanted to go home with us. But I was scheduled for a haircut and highlights in 20 minutes! (Cranky.) So Mr. Tangerine took Ben home and delayed going to work for a couple more hours. I made it to the salon on time. (Yay!) And then waited for 10 minutes while the colorist finished up with another client. (Cranky.) Then I got my hair done, and along the way, I saw my mother's face staring back at me in the mirror. (Cranky.)

I zipped back to the car, checking my phone on the way—and saw that I'd missed a series of calls from Mr. Tangerine because the ringer was still turned off from graduation. So I called him, and he was cranky because I hadn't been answering my phone. (As if I'd been choosing not to answer it, rather than not aware that it had been vibrating in my bag.) He was still so cranky when I got home, it exacerbated my off-and-on crankiness and put me into an actual snit. (It is so very difficult to be sweetly conciliatory and apologize for inconveniencing someone when his opening gambit is to be snappish, isn't it?)

Then it was just about time for Ben's age-6 pediatric checkup. "Ben, turn off the game and brush your teeth. It's time to go." He was, shall we say, lackadaisical in his response. (Cranky.) Eventually he moseyed along, and we were only a couple minutes late for his appointment. Then we had to wait numerous times for numerous minutes. (Cranky.) But the doctor was very nice, cautiously thorough. (Hooray!) We were there for a hair over two hours for a well-child visit. Two hours! (Cranky.) So long that our parking meter had expired, and we were five minutes into a rush-hour no-parking period. (Cranky.) But we didn't have a ticket. (Hooray!)

I think I've now exorcised the Cranky Demon, but it's possible he will return before the night is through. Have you got a surefire method of shackling the Cranky Demon? If so, please share.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Educational post for the week

Read Chris Clarke's post about high-fructose corn syrup, the economics of obesity, and NAFTA. The essay is much more interesting than that description indicates, honest. Read it and you'll probably try to buy fewer products that contain high-fructose corn syrup (it's become nearly ubiquitous in this country), if you're not already avoiding this cheap sweetener.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Little Brown Jug

There's an old kids' song called "Little Brown Jug", I'd never heard of the song before it popped up a few years ago on a TV commercial for a CD set of songs for children. As it turns out, the song's about drinking. Here are a couple verses:

And when I die don't bury me at all,
Just pickle my bones in alcohol;
Put a bottle o' booze at my head and feet
And then I know that I will keep.

Ha, ha, ha, you and me,
Little brown jug, don't I love thee!
Ha, ha, ha, you and me,
Little brown jug, don't I love thee!

Although the lyrics are new to me, I knew the tune when I was a kid. The commercials for Dynamo laundry detergent bastardized it into a jingle, which went "Ho, ho, ho, now you know / The little blue jug is Dynamo." (Did that get the tune earwormed into your brain? No? Then be sure to click on the link above so you can hear the tune.)

There are a slew of classic songs that I learned the jingle versions of years before discovering there was an actual song. Remember the rousing wartime tune, "Over there! Over there! All the chips—the Nabisco chips—are over there!"?

Wait, I've drifted off topic. The topic today is Little Brown Jug. In this household, Little Brown Jug is a not-so-little plastic amber-brown container with a capacity of three liters. Its purpose, as indicated by that last link, is to hold a day's pee so said pee can be taken to a medical laboratory for analysis. If you need details on how your kidneys are doing, the 24-hour urine collection is your #1 tool.

So once a year, in the spring, I spend the day making the potty a hassle. It's easier for men—they can just pee directly into a jug or portable urinal bottle. Women have to use what I like to call the "pee hat." It's plastic, marked with graduated volume measurements, and shaped roughly like an upside-down cowboy hat. The pee hat's brim rests on the toilet seat, so you just park yourself on the seat and pee into the hat (much quieter than when you pee into the toilet water). Then you decant the pee into Little Brown Jug and, ideally, stow the jug in the fridge between rounds. You start doing this after your first morning pee, and collect your last whiz when you pee for the first time the following morning, pooling 24 hours' worth of urinary output in the jug. If you are very unlucky, your kidneys will not concentrate your pee so well, and you'll need a second damn jug—but three liters suffices for most people.

Then you schlep your jug o' piss to the lab so the lab employees can have their way with it, measuring what your doctor has instructed them to measure. It's this last step that is the most vexing, I have found. You want to have that jug tightly sealed before you transport it out of the house, of course. And it's just good manners to hide the contents from the eyes of unwitting witnesses. I like to tie it inside a small plastic grocery bag and then tote it in the fancy grocery bag—a brown paper bag (in keeping with the brown packaging color scheme) inside a sturdy plastic shopping bag. It looks like I'm carrying some groceries or maybe a potato salad.

I have never taken the jug on the bus or train, but I've had it on the taxi floor. More often, I drive it downtown and try to minimize the distance I'm carrying it. This week, the pee transportation process was a comedy of goddamn errors. It was only after parking in the Northwestern parking garage (in a fantastic parking spot on level 1—that's the Neil Diamond level, I'll have you know. Usually, I have to circle up to at least level 5, which features "Stand By Your Man," I think. On the worst days, I don't find a wide-enough parking spot until level 9 or 10, which at least offers better music, like Louis Armstrong. I think that's their way of making amends if you're stuck parking on the roof after driving upwards for 10 minutes.) that I realize I've left the doctor's lab orders in my other purse, and nobody's going to accept a jug of pee from me without a doctor's say-so (and if I leave without getting my parking card validated, it'll cost me about $20). The first time I call my doctor's office, I reach their voicemail. Ack! Freaking out. There was an additional hitch that required me to walk to a Walgreen's drugstore several blocks away on Michigan Avenue before calling the doctor's office again—so I took my jug o' pee (still well-chilled from the fridge) on a brief tour of the Magnificent Mile. Alas, I hadn't known I'd be walking farther than across the street, so I was wearing new sandals and blistered my feet during the pee tourism. Life was stressing me out this week, and the 24-hour collection always ramps up my stress level, too—so my coping skills were at negative 50 (plus I was incredibly hangry—that cross between hungry and angry) and I was wiping away tears of frustration as I limped through the city, carrying the jug.

Eventually, I did get through to the doctor's office, and the receptionist became so much more helpful when I cried. (I didn't do it deliberately to manipulate her, but hey, I'm glad it worked.) They faxed the orders right over, and I was able to jettison the jug without further ado. But...several other hitches cropped up during the whole misadventure. While I should have been back home long before Ben was out of school, I was a few minutes late in picking him up. If I'd parked above the Neil Diamond level, I'd have been The Bad Mom whose kid is the only one left.

I'll be seeing the doctor on Tuesday. Here's hoping the lab results are stable enough that I don't have to go through these shenanigans again any sooner than a year from now.

Mommies Who Drink

That's the title of an upcoming book—Mommies Who Drink: Sex, Drugs, and Other Distant Memories of an Ordinary Mom. It's a memoir, due out this August, by Brett Paesel, an actress (Mr. Show) and writer. Entertainment Weekly said she "writes about the eternal challenge of balancing motherhood, drinking, and having sex." (Indeed.)

Here is a quote from the Amazon book description: Here, in a voice that's as incisive and poignant as the very best women's fiction, she addresses the issues she and her friends face as they brave the new world of motherhood--where the secret question on their minds at the playground is "What time of the day is too early to start drinking?"

And here's an essay she wrote. All you mommies who drink, enjoy!

Friday, June 09, 2006


In just one week, the crossword documentary Wordplay opens in New York City, and a week later, on June 23, it opens nationwide. If you live in a major metropolitan area, keep an eye out for the movie because I guarantee that You Will Love It. Seriously. How could anyone not love this film? Tell you what: If you see this movie and you don't like it, I'll buy you a drink if we ever find ourselves in the same bar. And you could even order a schmancy-pants martini to make back the entire cost of your movie ticket.

Even Esquire magazine has jumped on the bandwagon, with a short feature about Wordplayon page 28. There's not much to read about it there, but there's a paragraph followed by an acrostic that will reveal one of my favorite quotes from the movie.

This may be the first time that I've seen the name of anyone I know personally in Esquire. Not just NYT puzzle editor Will Shortz, but also crossword constructor Merl Reagle (another of the documentary's "stars"), director Patrick Creadon, and (in the acrostic) documentarian Morgan Spurlock, whom I met at a Sundance shindig. I am feeling almost famous, I tell you!


I just got the scoop from Patrick (yes, the one mentioned Es-freaking-quire) about the release schedule

June 16 — NYC
June 23 — 45 cities (all the majors)
June 30 — 150 screens nationwide

And if you just can't wait until then, you can catch Will on David Letterman's Late Show on Monday, June 12.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Literature and film

We recently started reading chapter books to Ben. On his own, he can read simple books fairly well, but as a kindergartner, chapter books are a bit of a stretch for him. The book we're reading now is Roald Dahl's hilarious 96-pager, The Twits. Mr. and Mrs. Twit are gruesome people, made ugly by all the ugly thoughts they think. They're always playing nasty tricks on each other—for example, Mrs. Twit added worms to Mr. Twit's spaghetti, and Mr. Twit made Mrs. Twit think she was shrinking by gradually adding length to her walking stick and her chair legs. Mrs. Twit freaked out, and was thus amenable to Mr. Twit's suggestion that stretching would cure "the shrinks." So he strapped her ankles to the ground and tied dozens of balloons to her, and then snipped the bonds tethering his dear wife to the earth.

Inspired by this (or perhaps having surreptitiously picked up some knowledge about Christianity), Ben said, "You could escape if someone nailed your shoes to the wall, right?" "Uh, right." "You could take off your shoes and escape. If they nailed your feet, that would leave a mark!"

Do you think Mr. Tangerine and I quote Tommy Boy too much?

Monday, June 05, 2006

You want to hear something crazy?

Last week, I got an e-mail from a reputable publisher telling me about a crossword-related book the company plans to publish—and asking if I might be interested in being the author. Would I? Yes, indeed, I would. We haven't ironed out the practical details yet, but I've already started writing and I'm having a blast. (How much do I love telling Mr. Tangerine, "I'm working on My Book"? He digs it, too.) If the whole deal should go south, hey, I've got some content and I can always find another outlet for it (worst-case scenario: for free on a blog). And if it goes forward as planned, hey, I could see my name in bookstores!

I'm feeling terribly clever to have signed Ben up for Monday-to-Friday day camp—I don't know how I'd get anything done otherwise. I might be blogging a little less this summer, but I hope to not forsake Orange Tangerine. Poke me if I neglect to post, will you?