Sunday, April 29, 2007

The next big food craze

You know some Mexican restaurants tout "burritos as big as your head"? No, no, no. That won't do. It's too one-size-fits-all. People want food that's customized for the individual.

That's why we're introducing a boffo new concept to the food-service industry: Burritos As Big As Your Penis™. No two burritoes the same! Our trained staff use sanitized calipers and rulers—pre-warmed for your comfort!—to get your exact dimensions. Your measurements are sent to the kitchen via our computerized order-management system, and your burrito is lovingly hand-made to match. Order as many as you like.

For speedier service on return visits, become a Burritos As Big As Your Penis™ Member. Your measurements are stored electronically on your Member card, and you get your card pierced for every burrito you buy. For every five piercings you earn a bottomless soft drink and when you have ten piercings, you may choose to upgrade your burrito size.

For franchising opportunities, visit our website.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

More loosely connected tidbits

• The best industrial pollution in the world comes from the chocolate factory. I drove downtown this morning and when I got out of my car up on level 7 of the parking garage, the air was deliciously redolent of the Blommer chocolate factory a mile away. It smells like brownies in the oven. Down at ground level, the chocolaty aroma was attenuated somewhat, and exhaust fumes battled their way to my olfactory receptors.

• I took Ben with me to the accountant in Old Town yesterday. One year, I called too late (it's that damned phone phobia that Bitch Ph.D. blogged about a couple months ago, that scores of us shared stories about) for an appointment pre-April 15, so Jim said I could come in after the 15th and he'd file for an extension. It was lovely to be gathering together my tax papers in May, and not thinking about it at all during everyone else's rush period. Next year, same thing; pulled out the Rolodex card in January, didn't call until late February when all the pre-April 15 appointments were booked. This year, same thing. It ended up costing me $5 in penalties and interest for our state income taxes, but we've got yet another refund of federal taxes. And! And! Not only did Ben behave beautifully at the accountant's office, but I also got the awesomest parking spot ever. A parking spot so choice, one would make sweet, sweet love to it if only such a thing were possible. A parking spot where the front of my car was visible from the accountant's window. I've been seeing the same accountant for about a decade, and never have I found parking within a city block.

• Ben dropped down a level in first-grade reading groups (I think there are upwards of six different reading groups in the first grade) this week, and WOW IS IT NICE to have a little less homework. Instead of fighting for several hours practically every day—first with me, then with Mr. Tangerine when he gets home from work—he's whizzing through his assignments. He brought home next week's reading, writing, and spelling homework, and did most of Monday's work this afternoon...without prompting. My sister had a similar experience with her son, whose seventh-grade math homework was making them both miserable until he dropped down to non-honors math, where he's now getting an A+. He's also got the time and energy to read for pleasure again. If you're ever agonizing over whether your kid would be well-served by changing to a less challenging curriculum, I do encourage you to give it a try if homework misery is vexing your family.

• I went back to Macy's for the post-alterations bridesmaid's dress (and parked in the aforementioned garage with the chocolate perfume). The left shoulder strap will be cinched up a skosh more, and I'll pick it up next week. Also hit up the Intimates department (am I the only one who thinks of Homer Simpson when I see that word? On a Simpsons episode years ago, Homer had written a to-do list or a note to self along the lines of GET INTAMIT WITH MARGE) for some long-overdue bra shopping. As a grad student in the Bitch Ph.D. School of Brassierology, I head straight for the Wacoal boutique in a department store. I know my boobs have shrunk a bit since I embarked on the health club jaunt (more on that below), so I figured I was between a C and D cup. While Marshall Field's always seemed nicer than the Macy's the store recently turned into (cheap-ass plastic bags instead of classy paper shopping bags? Quelle horreur!), I never had a helpful Field's bra lady. Macy's is no Nordstrom (where they insist on offering help up front), but after I'd tried on a batch of bras in assorted C/D sizes (smaller cup for the bigger of two band sizes I was trying on), a Macy's employee eyeballed me and assured me that I was between D and DD. Despite the exercise-induced shrinkage! Who knew? So I bought two new Wacoals, both in the smaller band size and one in each cup size, and thus can my boobs sing "Up Where We Belong."

• Yeah, so, the health club. I still rarely go in to work out unless I have an appointment with the trainer. I know I should. I know I'm wasting those dues payments by only going in for training appointments (which cost extra!). But I am in much better shape than I have ever been before. I have muscles (which I like to pronounces as "muskles"). I will voluntarily wear shorts this summer. I have more stamina, more exercise tolerance. The gut, though...ehhhh, the gut. That's a permanent blobberrific feature. As Mr. Tangerine pointed out, I have always had that, even back when I was a skinny 21-year-old. It's hereditary. I think it would shrink a wee bit if I did more cardio every week, but what are the odds of that happening? Frankly, I don't care anywhere near enough to motivate me to exercise a lot more, much less to ever consider lipo.

Ah, look at those transitions! From the parking garage, to parking with Ben, to Ben's school, back to shopping at the first parking garage, to shopping for bras for exercise-altered boobs, and then to the exercise itself. And for the piece de resistance (mentally add any diacritical marks needed), I can bring it full circle thus: Since I'm not too hung up on body image, there's nothing to stop me from having some chocolate...and that birthday cake isn't going to finish itself.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Sea Monkeys!

My sister gave Ben a Sea-Monkey kit for his birthday. Mr. Tangerine set up the wee tank and supplied it with bottled water, and sprinkled in the powder or whatever. Then he spent two days gazing into the plastic tank insisting that he could see the Sea-Monkeys (a.k.a. brine shrimp) swimming. "Uh, those are crumbs floating around," I told him. (Indeed, the website cautions that 65° to 70° temperatures mean a wait of three to six days for the eggs to hatch.)

But today, those itty-bitty little critters are swimming around! Mr. Tangerine will be such a proud papa when he gets home from work.

Somehow I doubt that the Sea-Monkeys will assuage Ben's longing for a pet...

And will they still be alive after we leave them alone for two weeks? Gosh, now I'm nervous.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Two more things

Toonhead always has the best links. For a good time, watch this 1967 short film. If you have kids, they'll love it too.

• I've got an aunt who's more Catholic than most of the other relatives. She lives far away but always makes sure to send birthday cards, and the young kids also get a little token gift in the mail. This year? She sent Ben this book a wee Bible pop-up story. (That link is to the same book on eBay, with a "buy it now" price of $2.95 and shipping costs of $3.95. Brand new, the book runs $3.95, and I'm guessing my aunt got it for a buck or less because that's always been her thang, the buck-or-less token gifts for kids she doesn't need to get anything for.) It's sweet of her to send it, yes, but Bible stories for heathen children? They leave the house quickly.

Split-personality posting fest

• You know how it takes a while to find a deodorant or antiperspirant that you like? I fell for a mildly scented Suave invisible dry concoction that few stores in my area ever carry. Somewhere along the way, I bought Dove's "cool essentials with cucumber and green tea extracts." Sounds innocuous enough. But my underarms now smell like watermelon Jolly Rancher candy more than anything else.

• Speaking of crazy fruit scents, don't buy "Grapple" apples. They're billed as apples that taste like grapes. "Ooh! Intriguing!" you think. Yeah. You know why they taste and smell like grapes (or, more accurately, like grape-flavored purple stuff)? Because they've been permeated with natural and artificial flavors. I thought I was buying an interesting heirloom variety or something. Not much in the habit of reading labels closely in the produce section, after all.

• Here's a must-read essay by Naomi Wolf about the corrosion of America's democratic safeguards by actions strikingly reminiscent of the tried-and-true fascist techniques. Link from Francis.

• Bill Moyers was on "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross yesterday; you can listen to the show here. They talked about the ways in which the media failed to do its job during the run-up to the Iraq war. Don't miss the documentary episode of the new show, Bill Moyers' Journal, on the subject. "Buying the War" airs Wednesday night on PBS; check your local listings and set your TiVo, your DVR, your VCR, or your ass on the couch tomorrow.

• Yes, Mr. Tangerine and I forgot to take a camera to Ben's birthday party. Fortunately, Flea whipped out her cell phone and took a picture of the birthday boy sporting a lovely set of teeth he obtained at Chuck E. Cheese's:

Ding posted a great video about weight and overweight. I can't really find the words to describe it well—sort of a fat chick's declaration of independence? Go watch it.

• Bridesmaid update: Went in to try on the dress and arrange for alterations last week. Spent a traumatic hour in the "intimates" department trying (and failing) to find a bra (or bustier! per the instructions from the lady in the bridal salon) that would (1) fit right, (2) be properly supportive, and (3) not peek out of the top of the dress. Then I returned to the bridal department with a wrong-size loaner bustier, and this genius from alterations named Juanita instructed me to chuck the bustier and let her show me how the dress would work better without a bra. Well, what do you know? She was right. Tight fabric around the ribs = nowhere for the boobs to drop down. Multiple layers of fabric around the bust = firm support. And! And! I was terrified that the dress would be too tight in the belly zone, but it actually drapes nicely, and the dark tulle overlay means zero clinging/bulging action. So I will be able to wear this dress without a bra and without control-top hose (which, if you ask me, are the offspring of the very Devil himself).

• I'm supposed to send my publisher a brief "about the author" squib to go on the Amazon page. You'd think I'd jump right on that, wouldn't you? I've procrastinated for three full weeks already! Maybe I should delegate this task to you, my lovely readers. "When she writes even a simple blog post, she's so damned lazy she just throws everything into a bulleted list of completely unrelated things. Too lazy to make transitions!"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Life with Chuck

Ah, Chuck E. Cheese. How you give me both pleasure and pain.

"Pleasure? From Chuck E. Cheese?" you may ask.

Yes, pleasure! You just show up for your kid's birthday party (Ben will turn seven in a few days). Have you made a cake? Cleaned the house? Thought about the food you'll serve? Figured out how to entertain the kids for two or three hours? Bought the finest small plastic toys imported from China to fill goodie bags? Bought party decorations? Decorated the house? No? You haven't done any of that? Well, that's totally fine! The Giant Rat's people will do all this for you. Technically, they won't clean your house, but then, you're not having company over for the party, and you won't have a pack of young children to clean up after. Yes, indeed. The Chuck party is the lazy parent's salvation.

The pain, of course, comes from having to spend two or three hours inside a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant. It's not even so much the jumbo animatronic animals on stage—those were entertaining in that Ben and a couple of his pals hung out on stage, manhandling the beasts and their musical instruments, and nary a peep was uttered by the employees. So they didn't get busted—but when the music stopped suddenly, Ben froze like the cops had just caught him stealing animatronic jewels, much to the amusement of Flea and JT. We adults also chatted about what sort of shenanigans might transpire after closing, when it's just the animatronic vermin. "Chuck E. Cheese After Dark," said...either Flea or JT, I forget which one. It's highly possible that CEC After Dark is one of those "gentlemen's clubs," if you catch my drift. The foxy duck in the magenta lamé miniskirt? Hot. Here's one thing I like about JT and Flea: Even though Ratsopalooza is an awfully noisy place, these women both laugh so heartily (nay, almost uncontrollably) that you're gonna have a fun time wherever you are.

Speaking of lazy parents, guess who forgot to bring a camera? That's right. La famille Tangerine neglected to document the festivities. We'll have a do-over Sunday, when we have a small family party. Oh, crap, I should have maybe baked that cake tonight. Eh, I'll get to that in the morning. Worst-case scenario, the cake mix goes in the cupboard and I'll buy a damn cake in the afternoon.

This is a crappy post. What will make it better is audience participation, clearly. So tell me: If you could be seven years old again, what is the one thing you'd want most for your birthday?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Peanut butter and the patriarchy of shoes

Two reports on the peanut butter front:

• I just bought this dark chocolate peanut butter at the grocery store. I've had only a taste of it, but it's rather like a mouthful of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in one of those dark chocolate special editions—only in a sandwich-friendly form! I predict this will be a popular jar in our household. The Peanut Butter Co. website's locator function is unaware that their product is sold in my neighborhood Jewel store and not just in wee gourmet groceries. Plebeian Jewel! With fancy peanut butters from Greenwich Village! I love my neighborhood.

• Mr. Tangerine has devised a method to have a little toasted crunch and warmth to a peanut butter sandwich—but without the usual cascade of crumbs. He stacks two slices of bread on the toaster oven rack so that the insides stay soft, flips them over on the plate, puts sandwich fixin's on the toasted surfaces (he likes to combine peanut butter, jelly, and chocolate chips), and smooshes it together. Soft on the outside, toasty on the inside. Fewer crumbs, but just as much dripping of melted peanut butter (that's inescapable even when the PB is refrigerated). Dee-lish!

And from the front lines of the patriarchy battlefield:

• There's nothing like being a bridesmaid to encounter society's expectations for women. I will wear a dress that (a) is expensive, (b) is not terribly likely to find further use, given how seldom I am called upon to attend formal events, (c) needs costly alterations because the sizing is contrived to fit no one without alterations, and (d) will require purchase of a special strapless bra, again unlikely to find much further use. (I love the bride, but not so much bridal traditions.)

And shoes! Must wear girly shoes. [Hardcore shoe rant beginning:] I found a decent pair of sandals at the sort of shoe store that sells a lot of Merrell, Dansko, and Naot shoes. These sandals (Söfft Shoes brand) probably won't be worn too much this summer, but they might get a few extra wearings. Am feeling fortunate that my most persnickety feet did not holler at me when I tried on these sandals and walked around the store for several minutes. Just for the hell of it, I then looked at sandals across the street at Nine West, and OH MY GOD the atrocity! The majority of the sandals had skinny heels or platform/wedge heels measuring upwards of 3 inches. With my feet? I'd require narcotics to handle the pain that would result (and would last for weeks, no joke; you should've seen me last August).

I have no intention of committing fully to the radical feminist agenda (I'll keep my husband, thanks, and will wear lipstick several times a year), but Twisty is dead-on about the traditional trappings of femininity and how they serve to constrain women. I'm sure plenty of you admire Manolo Blahnik heels and like to wear high heels on occasion, but sheesh! Barneys New York sent out a shoe catalog this week that featured strictly high-heeled shoes, with prices ranging from about $450 to $1,200. For non-everyday shoes! If you've got Paris Hilton's millions, fine; but if you're on a budget, spending that kind of money on shoes that can hobble you, that you can't run in, that you won't wear every day, that hurt your feet, instead of plunking that money down for savings (for retirement, for a house, for a nice vacation)—it's nuts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Imus imbroglio

You know what's gone largely unnoticed in the commentary I've seen (mind you, I haven't sought out much) about Don Imus's "jokingly" calling the Rutgers women's basketball team "nappy-headed hos"? The fact that he has no problem calling women "hos." Everyone seems to be focusing on the racist overtones, which are undeniable. But hello! Imus's remarks were also sexist. Woman = ho is unacceptable to me.

I'd like more of the media coverage to mention that sexism. NOW recognizes Imus came off as both racist and sexist. I wonder if Al Sharpton has pointed out the sexism, and it's just that the articles I've seen have omitted that?

Edited to add this link (free!) to an NYT column that calls out Imus's sexism. Maureen Dowd has a much bigger soapbox than sportswriter Serena Roberts, but she was busy writing about Republican women and their turn-ons today.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Stealing questions

E. wrote up her thoughtful answers to a batch of questions from Esereth. Nobody asked me, but some of the questions resonated, so I'll tackle a few, too.

The last conversation you had with your mother

My mom called today to tell me about some things she left here last weekend, when she babysat. While my mom was home with Ben last Saturday, he was running a bit of a fever and puked. And she didn't call us! She waited for us to check in with her after the movie (Blades of Glory, which we giggled through). Fortunately, Ben is a champion puker who seldom makes a mess of it—he left the living room to barf tidily into the toilet. And he wasn't too sick, so we stayed at the saucy little wings joint in Evanston and strove to finish our beers while Mr. Tangerine enjoyed some BBQ wings and I picked at a bad chicken sandwich.

Anyway, today's conversation with my mother: She left some chocolate "gold coins," the kind that are popular for Hanukkah and Christmas (at least we always got them in our Christmas stockings—were the chocolate coins strictly intended as Hanukkah gelt, or are they ecumenical?). They're months and months old, and thus stale. She thought we could include them in Ben's Easter basket, but not for eating—just for playing with. "So you hold the gold coins in your warm hands until brown stuff drips out of them?" I inquired. Mr. Tangerine and I had the same reaction: if we find the coins in the house, we're chucking 'em.

The last conversation you had with your father

He died in 2001, and I think our last conversation was when I took pre-walking 14-month-old Ben with me to visit my dad in the hospital. He'd gone into the hospital mainly to stop drinking, post-"suicidal gesture" means of seeking help. His overall health was bad enough that it took the docs days to consider him stable enough to transfer from a medical floor to a psych unit. He was happy and hopeful, and we were all finally hopeful about his prospects for the first time in many years. Guardedly hopeful, though, because what are the odds that a 61-year-old who's been an alcoholic for his entire adult life and is often depressed is going to be able to stay sober? So naturally, the fates intervened, and he died in his sleep in the psych unit, his heart having conceded the battle.

All I remember about that last conversation was that Ben was on my dad's hospital bed, and they played a little game, growling in response to one another's growls, both enjoying it immensely.

Do you regret the person or manner in which you lost your virginity?

Nah. I was in love (why is there no HTML tag for "dramatic font"?). And then the next guy was the one I married, and if I hadn't had another partner first, I'd probably be wondering what else was out there. Works all right to have an "eh" first lover followed by a keeper who's better.

The thing your parents never found out about.

Honestly? I can't think of anything.

How much do you spend a month on groceries?

Maybe $300. (Plus plenty of takeout. Do you call it takeout if you have it delivered, though?) We've been skewing more in the direction of better food—organic, free of additives, antibiotic-free, etc.

The last lie you told.

That the damned Easter bunny is coming. And before that, the tooth fairy. (Awesome story: When his first wiggly baby tooth was dangling by a thread of connective tissue, I asked Ben how much money he thought the tooth fairy generally left. "A quarter," he replied. We spend plenty on stuff for the boy, but I was still delighted to be able to get away with a measly quarter. None of that schlepping around to banks in search of silver dollars here!) These are allowable lies.

How often are your comments on other blogs made out of obligation?

Rarely ever. If I feel like contributing, communicating, or otherwise yammering away, I do so. If I don't, I move on. And if I never feel like commenting, it's probably not a blog I'll keep reading. I like the social intercourse aspect of blogging.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Shave that hairy back!

I was at the store today and came across the ManGroomer, essentially a standard electric razor with a longer body and a telescoping arm designed to let a man shave his own hairy back. Is it just me or is this a ludicrous idea for a product?

The FAQs claim "The length of time [to shave a back] will depend on how much hair you have and its thickness. MANGROOMER’s large 1 ½ inch blade covers a large surface area, while still remaining small enough to enable you to easily maneuver within different / difficult angles of the back." Hah! What makes that blade "large," exactly? Think about how long it takes to shave a pair of lower legs with a bit of stubble and no need to use a mirror to see what the hell you're doing and work in reverse. How much longer would it take a man to shave his own back? I can't even guesstimate that. Seems it'd be like a reeeaaalllly long time, doesn't it?

I'll bet a bunch of men buy this gadget (or receive it as a thoughtful gift!) and give it a try...only to get as far as shaving a couple paths through the dorsal thicket and then giving up. At least the hair will grow back in time. And if they're lucky, they won't be trying the ManGroomer when it's beach and pool season, because then they'll be forced to persevere until they've moved the entire hair lawn.

Missed marketing opportunity: Promoting the use of the ManGroomer to carve mazes in the back hair. This would be especially handy for gay couples (or men whose lady friends wield a strap-on) fighting boredom. Tired of just pounding away? Need something to occupy your mind? Grab a marker and trace a path from start to finish!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Am terrible blogger

Have nothing good to say. It's spring break, so Ben-free time is at a premium this week. I.e., it is nonexistent.

Found the following gem of a subject line in my spam folder (which I actually check daily just in case there's something legit that has been shunted there by mistake. Like the note from the writer who wanted to interview me for my college alumni magazine...but that was back in December. Not sure anything juicy has been wrongly assigned to my spam box since then):

Sowing its clams under the worlds foreskin

I find that oddly intriguing.

Your assignment: Say something clever about two or more of the following: spring break, spam, magazines, clams, foreskin, and intrigue.