Friday, July 27, 2007


I was delighted when I learned that Feral was coming to Chicago for this weekend's BlogHer conference. I looked through the course offerings for the conference, and spotted one session that was right up my alley—finding out how to port your blog to a hosted site, away from the teat of Blogger or TypePad. I'm thinking about doing that for one or both of my babies, so it looked practical.

I didn't register, though, because (a) there was still plenty of time, (b) I didn't get around to it, and (c) there were a zillion sessions that didn't call out to me. Then I decided that dammit, I was going to the conference! After browsing through the gynormous list of speakers on Monday evening, I went to the registration page...and discovered that I was eight minutes too late. Eight!

I wasn't sure if there'd be on-site registration and figured I'd mosey over on Saturday morning and see. Then I saw Tribune blogger Steve Johnson's post about BlogHer and learned that registration was reopened this morning. Woot! Now I'm officially signed up, and nobody can bar me from tomorrow's cocktail party.

So I'll be heading to the conference in the morning, learning some things, lunching with Feral, perhaps learning some unknown other things in the afternoon, and then mingling with bloggers known and unknown.

Perhaps I'll see some of you there. If you don't know what I look like or what my real name is, just, uh, home in on the most fabulous attendee and assume that's me.

"Your blog is locked"

Yesterday, I got myself in a blogging mood and I was all set to write some fiery-yet-droll prose, when what should befall me but being tarred by Blogger's nuttiness.

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

You won't be able to publish posts to your blog until one of our humans reviews it and verifies that it is not a spam blog. Please fill out the form below to get a review. We'll take a look at your blog and unlock it in less than two business days.

If we don't hear from you, though, we will remove your blog from Blog*Spot within a few weeks.

Holy schnike! If I'd gone on vacation or into the hospital, or just got too busy to post, they'd delete my entire blog?

Blogger explains that spam blogs contain strings of random text and a crapload of links that all go to the same site. O-o-o-kay. Not seeing how my blog looks like that. My last few posts had some links, but they didn't all go to the same place.

Here's my favorite part: The part where Blogger says "until one of our humans reviews it." Doesn't that sound like a fun place to work? Wal-Mart has "associates" and Disney World has "cast members." This is the first time I've seen employees referred to as "our humans."

It is a comfort to know that decisions on my blog are not being delegated to lemurs, I suppose. Or bears. An angry bear might remove blogs out of spite, you know? And the computers, well, we all saw what HAL did in 2001: A Space Odyssey. What if Blogger outsourced to earthworms? How would they work their keyboards and see their monitors, being eyeless and limbless?

If you could have some employees working for you at home, what species would they be?

Sunday, July 22, 2007


The other week, Merriam-Webster announced that its new collegiate dictionary would include 100 new words.

I'm delighted that ginormous made the grade. I've been sold on the word since I heard Will Ferrell's Buddy the Elf say, "Hey! Have you seen these toilets? They're ginormous!" (WAV file here) in the movie, Elf.

Last night over dinner, though, my mom said she doesn't like the word because she hears it with a y ... gynormous. Mr. Tangerine immediately mimed what someone might do when traversing some gynormous female body parts.

Oh! And then Mom recounted a medical record she'd transcribed at work the other day, in which the patient reportedly had one normal labium (yes! labia is the plural of labium) and one labium that can only be described as gynormous. It hung down seven inches. And had something hard inside. That felt like cardboard. Truly gynormous, no? (Sorry, I don't know what sort of diagnosis or body modification technique is involved here.)

Can you use gynormous in a sentence?

Friday, July 20, 2007

Crotch shots of the candidates

(The picture above is discussed at the end of the post.)

A Washington Post fashion article dithered breathlessly about the greater meaning of Hillary Rodham Clinton's modest amount of cleavage on C-SPAN 2. The article is ridiculous from start to finish, and leaves the impression that gazing upon such a salacious expanse of flesh is enough to give one the vapors.

The writer, Robin Givhan, bloviated, "Showing cleavage is a request to be engaged in a particular way. It doesn't necessarily mean that a woman is asking to be objectified, but it does suggest a certain confidence and physical ease.

"It means that a woman is content being perceived as a sexual person in addition to being seen as someone who is intelligent, authoritative, witty and whatever else might define her personality. It also means that she feels that all those other characteristics are so apparent and undeniable, that they will not be overshadowed," Givhan continues.

This did not go unnoticed at NOW headquarters. Weeks ago, they started a petition to the media asking them to abstain from writing about Clinton in ways they'd never write about a male candidate. (You can sign the petition at that link.) So they take articles like this seriously, but are not Humorless Feminists™—they also recognized the hilarious absurdity of the piece. In today's "NOW Actions" e-mail, they're calling for your reactions to the story, 'whether analysis or satire." Send your responses to

Here's what I think:

Every time a male candidate is seen without a jacket, let us call on the media to take pictures from the rear. The electorate cannot make an informed decision without scrutinizing the asses of all the candidates and parsing the inner meaning of the fit of their pants. Does it look like he's lost a little weight? Or gained? Has he been working out? Are his buttocks probably flabby? What sort of gluteal confidence does he present?

Let's not forget where the focus really belongs, however: The media must scrutinize the candidates' frontal presentations, too. Is there a hint of firm pectoral muscles, or of man-boobs, or of age-related sagging? And how about his crotch--is there a hint of penis? How big? Which side is it resting on? Do his balls hang low, do they wobble to and fro?

Really, the only male politician we've had these discussions about is Dick Cheney (see intriguing photo here). And he's not running for office. We need close-ups, people! Close-ups of the crotches of every man running for president!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bush kicks puppies

America's Children's Health Insurance Program is set to expire on September 30. The Senate Finance Committee has been hammering out the details of a bipartisan plan to extend the program and to fund increased spending by hiking the federal cigarette tax (from 39¢ to $1 a pack). There are currently about 8 million uninsured kids, and the increased spending would cut that total by 4.1 million children.

"Wow!" you say. "That sounds great! Because uninsured kids suffer, and some even die because their families can't afford health care. And raising cigarette taxes always seems to be a politically safe means of raising tax revenue."

The White House says Bush will veto any such proposal. Why? White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending. This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program." Also, the proposal doesn't pander to President Bush, who wants to set up tax breaks for people buying insurance—as if the average poor family could afford to buy health insurance if only they knew they'd get a fraction of the money back the following April. (Of course, the electric company and the grocery store aren't going to wait until next April to get paid, so really, Bush's concept is strikingly unhelpful for the poor.

One of my son's friends is on our state's health plan for kids. (Gov. Blagojevich may be incredibly corrupt, but he supported this program so he's not all bad.) This boy has asthma and needs pricey brand-name medications to keep his airways open. The state program provides his life-saving drugs and he rarely misses school (he's in the gifted program, where they move fast) because of his asthma. His mother simply doesn't have the money to pay for these prescriptions out of pocket, and I imagine private insurance programs would also be out of reach. Since he's covered by Illinois's universal children's health insurance, he won't end up as another tragic story like Deamonte Driver's.

I think Bush also eats kittens.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Coin purse

It's time to coin some new words. The other day, I used hotgry as the hot-and-cranky counterpart to hangry, which is hungry-angry. But hotgry doesn't flow. I need a solid adjective to describe the way I feel when, say, it's a little too warm out and a little too humid, I'm trying to get dressed and leave the house, and a sticky sweat is breaking out and making me unreasonably ornery. (Or maybe reasonably ornery.) I know some of you can relate to this feeling, so how about suggesting an adjective to dsecribe it?

My friend B. concocted the perfect noun form, Sweltschmerz. It's swelter + Schmerz, which is German for "pain." It rhymes beautifully with Weltschmerz, or world-weariness.

The other day, I saw the surname Mooncotch on a construction crane. It's not as if we need more words for the crotch, the ass, and points in between. But doesn't mooncotch sound like it pertains to all those? "I need some Monistat—my mooncotch is on fire!" "I rode my bike into a wall and smashed my mooncotch." "I can't believe how much sand I got in my mooncotch from going to the beach." "You know what a Brazilian is, don't you? They wax your whole mooncotch, stem to stern."

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I've had the same cell phone for a couple years now, but it took me until this week to do something with all those photos I'd been storing on it. Here are some pictures, at long last freed from their telephonic jail.

In the lobby of Northwestern's Galter Pavilion medical office building, there's a large painting depicting the construction of the building:

Let's take a closer look at the figure in the middle, shall we?

Pretty damned hot for a doctor's office, no? Speaking of hot, what's a restaurant to do when the dog days of summer roll in but there's no air conditioner? Easy: Pull up a chair and grab a bucket:

What if you lost your beloved dog but you couldn't spell "shih-tzu"?

Is it just me, or does the sunken-in rubber head on this Halloween dummy look like Newt Gingrich crossed with a rotting potato?

Look at the treasures you can find at the park! (We kept the spoon.)

"Junior, why don't you go pick out a book about science?"

It was cool when Batman Begins 2: The Dark Knight was filming in the neighborhood. A couple Gotham PD squad cars were parked by Ben's school:

Everything famous comes to my neighborhood! Case in point: The Police concert. (And Flea, who was to my right when I took this picture.)

Sometimes rude giants also come over, though. This bozo was two rows below me, and yet his enormous head kept blocking my view of the stage. Whenever he got excited, he waved his arms in the air like he just didn't care, obscuring the view for a few more rows behind him.

And that gets us caught up to last Friday, so that's enough pictures for now, eh?

Feel free to suggest captions for any that capture your fancy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

No longer hotgry

...but freshly enraged. Why? Because I just read a post with links to a horrifying photo retouching site for beauty-pageant children.

Go check out those links and then come back here and tell me how absolutely appalling the "after" pictures are. If you thought you had enough reasons to deplore the child pageant business, you'll discover one more.

I just hope the person who's selling these inept retouching services isn't able to find any clients, because his or her work is terrible. Completely unnatural. But I worry. What if the pageant parents actually like the "after" photos?

Hotgry rant

Okay, I'm cautious around bikers when I'm driving. Chicago's got a bunch of marked bike lanes on the streets, and cyclists deserve a little space.

However. When I am standing still on the sidewalk, I do not think there's any expectation that I need to be cautious because fast-moving cyclists have the right of way. They don't! Ben and I were watching a school bus unload on our street (I don't know what Fred's Camp is, but it has a school bus), when suddenly this old dude on a bike comes whizzing past from behind us—and hollers at me. "Watch out! Your life may depend on it one day!"

Asshole. I'm standing still on the sidewalk and I'm supposed to check over my shoulder for rapidly approaching vehicles? I don't think so.

Stunned, I could only think to say "Up yours" in reply. And then he gave me—and my child!—the finger. (What a class act.)

What I should have said, of course, is "Get off the damned sidewalk, jerk."

It's actually the law here that a cyclist over the age of 12 can't be on the sidewalk. From the Chicago Municipal Code:

9-52-020. Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways.

(b) No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district, unless such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route.

My outrage at this man's assholish transgression is somewhat heightened by the fact that I'm a little hangry and a little hotgry (which is a word I just coined for being hot and cranky). But the anger is fiery righteous anger, because he was so clearly in the wrong and yet hollered at me.

Plus, he hollered at a Published Author. That's right: Today is publication day! My book is probably not physically in any bookstores just yet, but you can buy it online from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Or, if you're in the U.K., from your local Amazon. Or from in South Africa. At some point, there should be cardboard displays for the book in Borders stores, and when there are, I will go stand beside it and make someone take a picture.

There's also a podcast that mentions the book and wraps it in an cozy etymological blanket.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Swimsuits for the buxom

My sister's got a pool, there are several beaches within three miles of home, and my old swimsuits are too big. (Thanks to weekly personal training sessions at the gym, precious little authentic cardio exercise, and nothing you might call a diet. Woot!)

It was with much trepidation that I entered Macy's to look for a swimsuit, obviously, because when is swimsuit shopping ever anything less than traumatic? (Plus: Eww, it's supposed to be Marshall Field's with nice green shopping bags, not Macy's with cheap, crappy, sub-Target plastic bags.)

And it was July 4th, so surely the selection would be meager. But I didn't need a swimsuit when it was April or May! I need one in July.

And I have boobs that most swimsuits aren't designed to support. Lands' End is famous for their wide selection of suits. You know what? They offer a handful of D-cup suits. What have they got for the DD-and-beyond cohort? Jack squat, that's what.

So I roved through the swimwear department at Macy's, copping feels left and right. Do these suits have underwires? Do these? How about these? Maybe those ones? (This is how I shop for a swimsuit. I molest the one-pieces and tankini tops.) Imagine my delight, then, to happen upon a rack of rack-friendly suits. There are a few brands of bra-sized swimsuits; the nicer ones I saw were by Coco Reef, with a smattering of band sizes in C, D, and DD cup sizes.

There weren't many items to choose from, but I found something that fit well enough. Here's the one I got, only (1) the model in that picture doesn't look like she needs a special bra-sized swimsuit, (2) the pieces were marked down 30%, and (3) I added an adorable little flirty skirt bottom. And apparently the Macy's website is down to only a few sizes, so I really lucked out finding my size at the store.

So, if you're in that underserved market of women who have biggish boobs but don't fall into the plus-size category and don't want to spill out of their swimsuit top, keep an eye out for bra-sized brands. And remember this tip for next spring when the new swimwear season kicks in.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

My child-husband

Last weekend in America's Dairyland, Mr. Tangerine went to the grocery store to buy me some beer. (I currently need to watch my potassium intake, and if I must avoid a zillion kinds of produce, peanut butter, milk, ice cream, chocolate, nuts, and my beloved hummus, how will I ingest enough calories if I don't have some beer?)

The cashier carded him. He handed over his out-of-state driver's license and the guy handed it back, saying that it had expired. Mr. Tangerine was too befuddled by the absurdity of being a 41-year-old man getting carded—and carded hard—so he did not have the presence of mind to say, "Doofus, turn the license over. There's a renewal sticker on the back. It's valid." He returned to his parents' house, still at a loss.

When he realized the license wasn't expired at all, he went back to the store (it's a block away), grabbed the Negra Modelo again, and showed the cashier the back of the license.

The cashier remained skeptical. The manager was summoned, and apparently the two employees both thought Mr. Tangerine just plain looked too young. Hello! White hairs above the forehead. White hairs in the beard. Valid photo ID attesting to his birthdate.

Maybe they would have believed it if the license said Mr. Tangerine was 23, but 41? Ridiculous! My husband actually had to get pissed off before the store agreed to sell him a six-pack of beer.

Last year, we'd gone out to eat in Florida with our son Ben and Mr. Tangerine's aunt. The waitress carded Mr. Tangerine, but not me. (And I do still get carded on rare occasions myself.) Let us examine the circumstances here: One older adult, plus two younger adults with a child who looks rather like both of them. The child is about 6 years old. If the father needs to be carded, then the waitress presumably thinks he looks no older than 20...meaning he'd have become a father at 14. But me, I looked old enough. So what am I, Mary Kay LeTourneau with my child-husband? Harrumph! And he's months older than I am!

What's your best carding tale?