Friday, October 31, 2008

What are you so dressed up for?

There's been a lot of intellectual activity at my house this week. Oh, the brainstorming! The research! The algebraic formulas!

Each day, the committee met to carefully consider each potential idea. Measurements were taken, calculations made, bite-sized Snickers consumed. After procuring fabric and bubble wrap, the assembly crew worked in the flickering glow of the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and TiVoed episodes of Chuck. Finally, in the wee small hours of Friday morning, the ideal Halloween costume was fully realized.

It's serious business, this annual choice of alter-ego.

I'd forgotten how important it was to choose just the right costume. These days, a mustachioed set of glasses or bobble-y antennae headband is sufficient for my needs. (Before I headed to class today, I applied a fingerstache with a Sharpie and called it done.)

The young folk, though, have different needs.

According to Muffin Uptown, the ideal Halloween costume needs to be original, and it needs to be funny. And while Groucho Marx or Quail Man might meet those criteria, they fall short of the final, most important standard.

The best costume also has to be hot.

And I admit that when she said this, I suddenly remembered what it was like, dressing up for Halloween while I was in my twenties. I recalled the years I'd masqueraded as a playboy bunny, a punk rock chick, a magician's assistant. I thought about the false eyelashes and fishnet stockings I'd worn, and what it felt like to leave the house for that all-important party dressed as someone else, but not. I can--just barely--remember arriving at the door determined to show off my edgier, more dangerous side, and relishing the sidelong glances and imagined whispers as I made my way across the room and into the party.

Look at her. Who does she think she is?

image, Chicago Tribune Archive, October 1957.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where in the heck have you been?

I've been sitting here, waiting and waiting and waiting for you. Okay, okay. Maybe not the whole time.

Not that it matters, now. But as long as we're both here--

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Job security.

"Mom. Will you smell the cat?"

It's an odd request, I know--but I hear it a couple times each day of late. MU is convinced that the new kitteh smells like clean laundry. I think this just fanciful thinking on her part, but who am I to argue with true love?

On the other hand, sticking my face into the fur of a creature with four brand-new sets of factory installed, still-under-warranty steel claws smells like danger to me. Furthermore, I have seen this animal in action and have noted that she spends a great deal of each day extricating herself from either the furniture or the carpet, having accidentally Velcroed herself to any surface with which she comes into contact. Obviously, she has not yet made time to completely familiarize herself with the owner's manual.

"I'm sure she smells lovely," I say, "but I don't have time right now to savor the cat."

"No. I mean, will you smell her and see if she smells like poo? Will you check her feet for poo?"

image, Yale Collection of American Literature, Geinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Some kind of wonderful.

I attended a reception for new faculty last night at the home of the Dean. It was lovely.

During a conversation with the Chair of the Art Department, I mentioned that my talented and lovely daughter, Muffin Uptown, was one of their recent graduates.

"Muffin Uptown is your daughter? Oh! She's a wonderful person! And she was a great student--she's so talented!"

I get this all the time.

Usually folks just say, "I love Muffin!" Because everybody does.

Every time this happens, I am transported back to all those parent-teacher conferences her dad and I attended. It's hard to know the proper response when someone praises your child to that degree. To disagree--even if it were due to some sort of false modesty--would just be wrong. But to agree seems to be somehow taking credit for how nicely she turned out.

Which is just silly. It's not like anyone ever looked at me and said, "She's so wonderful--since you're her mom, you must be wonderful, too!"

So I just throw in with the crowd and heap praises upon her, too. I figure I can blame how perfectly she turned out on her dad.

image, Shorpy Photo Archive.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bears don't dig on dancing. Or so I've heard.

I'm just coming off a wonderful four-day weekend--termed "Fall Break" for those of us in the education biz. My students needed it, and so did I. Indeed, by the time I dismissed the last class on Wednesday, my to-list was filled with more things than I could have reasonably expected to complete by Christmas. I had put everything I really didn't want to do off until I could have four full days in which not to do it.

And so I didn't. I spent the last four days trolling the internets, watching scary movies on DVD, tormenting the new cat, napping, and reading.

So, there's no clever, creative writing for you today. But there's a Tim Minchin video. Not everyone's taste, I'm sure, but I like him.

Which means, most likely, one or two of you will too. Adult language about halfway through.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

As far as the eye can see.

100,000 people gathered together in Missouri today to see and hear Barack Obama.

Wow. On a clear day, you really can see forever.

Via the Wall Street Journal.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Why I'm not blogging today.

...or doing much of anything else, I'm afraid.

There's a new kitteh in the house, and she requires lots of tickling and tormenting.

I'm afraid there's just no time for anything else.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whatever it takes.

I was so anxious and tense during last night's debate, I haven't yet fully recovered. I think I've got debate hangover.

This is going a long way toward making me feel better.

Cookie Monster gets his groove on at 1:21.

Turn up the sound.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Imagine a world without hunger.

There are 923 million undernourished people in the world today. Every six seconds, one child dies from hunger and related diseases. About 59 million primary school-aged children go to school hungry.

Yet if you saw Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the World Food Programme on David Letterman, then you--like me--believe that a world without hungry children is possible.

93 cents of every dollar donated to World Food Programme goes directly to supplying food to the world's starving people; it costs only 25 cents a day to give a child a WFP school meal.
Donate to WFP.

Photo courtesy Eddie Gerald and WFP; hunger facts courtesy WFP.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It finally happened.

Virtually no one is surprised. Muffin Uptown couldn't even muster up an apathetic "Oh, really?"

I am, after all, the same person who cracked open my dome in my sleep, injured myself after being startled by a thunderclap, suffered cat-induced brain damage, and burst all the blood vessels in my eye with one well-timed sneeze.

And so I feel no shame as I report that yesterday, I finally opened an artery with my sooper-dooper 5-bladed wonder. My shin looks like a botched suicide attempt and my bathroom, a crime scene.

Ironically, I wasn't even shaving with the damned thing at the time.

I dropped it on myself.

image, k-girl's Photostream.

Monday, October 13, 2008


Last Thursday, I visited my extremely adorable dentist. I had a tooth that was set on self-destruct, and he had a crown with my name on it.

This guy and I go back a long way--he's saved me from disaster innumerable times, and I, in return, put his two children through college. All in all, I would say ours has been a fairly successful relationship. Of course, it doesn't hurt matters much that he's a nice-looking guy--or at least, he used to be. Now he just looks like a fairly well-preserved old poop.

And like any old poop worth his salt, he really loves stirring things up. (Ta-da! All my mixed metaphors for the week right there in one sentence.) On this day, he waited until he numbed my gums, my jaw, and my tongue, stuffed my mouth with cotton, surgical steel instruments and fingers, pegged out the N2O, and then proceeded to talk up Sarah Palin.

He really, really likes her.

Obviously, I couldn't say a thing. What's more, I found that I didn't really want to. Making this discovery--aside from the new crown on my right rear molar--is the best thing that happened to me all week.

Now I know that if things go wrong for us in November, I won't have to join the great diaspora. All I have to do is get my hands on some nitrous oxide. Lots and lots of it.

image, Shorpy Photo Archive.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Going for the gold.

Material World Girl has, on occasion, implied that she believes me to be somewhat competitive--or at least she found me to be so when we both worked for the same company. Of course, competitiveness is not necessarily a bad thing in the corporate world. I really thought I had left that sort of thing behind me, though, when I turned in my fancy building keys and Survival of the Fittest Team Captain T-shirt.

I had a small moment of insight this past week, however, when the department secretary requested that each of the faculty complete textbook adoption sheets in anticipation of the Spring semester. Dutifully, I checked my projected enrollment, carefully copied down the ISBN numbers for the books I wanted my students to pay an arm and a leg for, and marched myself and my newly completed forms into the secretary's office.

You'll just have to take me at my word when I tell you that I had no idea what I was about to say until I actually heard myself say it.

"Am I the first?" I asked.

"The fourth," she said. I was further disappointed that she didn't even bother to glance up at me as she said it.

I was almost out of earshot when I heard her add, "But you're the only one to fill them out completely."

Thereby granting, once again, all the evidence I needed to confirm that I am--indeed--still the best.

I'm emailing evidence to Material World Girl right now.

image, Shorpy Photo Archive.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Give me your tired, your poor, your bare-legged.

One way to tell America is flirting with the idea of hard times?

We start inventing bizarre ways to reuse things most of us aren't even using anymore.

For instance: This past Sunday I found an article detailing all the things one might do to wring the last bit of life out of that old raggedy pair of pantyhose. It's worth noting, I believe, that this is the second article I've seen about this.

Apparently, I live under a rock. I had no idea we had a used pantyhose problem in this country. I can't decide what part of the article disturbed me the most: the idea of a household filled to the rafters with items that used to be pantyhose, or the fact that anybody, anywhere is still wearing them.

I know, I know. Everybody's trying to be green. But for heaven's sake--my grandmother used to do stuff like this. Sure enough, the first item on the list? Tie up plants that need to be staked. If a row of tomato plants tied up with old pantyhose doesn't say "Grandma" to you, then you must have one of those fancy-pants grandmas.

I just can't help thinking that if being green is what everybody's after, maybe we just shouldn't buy the damned things in the first place. Don't they have to process a bunch of petroleum and then melt it down with old tires to make a pair of pantyhose? That can't be good for the earth.

And I have to tell you--since I stopped wearing them, my earth is definitely better.

Next week: My tutorial for how to make a hat for your dog from an old brassiere.

Old Nylons, New Uses

image, Foxtongue's photostream. And no, I have no idea. I would be afraid to speculate.

Friday, October 3, 2008

What you might hear if not for the frogs in the waterfall at lakeside during a thunderstorm CD.

Thursday was a very good day. And because it was, I had occasion to wonder--what does the massage therapist think about while she's rubbing, kneading, and palpating her way through my $60.00 hour?

Hopefully, she's not thinking, "Okay. Focus. You know this. The distal scapula feticulitus controls the, ummm, the masculica-something."

Then again, it's probably not a good thing if she is so thoroughly on auto-pilot that she's putting together her grocery list, or the final aria of that opera she's composing for grad school.

And I really hope--no, I pray--that she's not thinking, "Jeez, doesn't this lady ever walk anywhere? Ever?"

But even that--as bad as it is--is preferable to "Oops! Is that supposed to bend that way?"

I started to ask her at one point, just what sorts of things did go through her mind as she worked. But after a while, I sort of got lost in my own thoughts.

First "Ohhh." Then "Ahhhh." And finally, "Zzzzz."

photo, Joan Crawford Massage, photographer unknown, via Tangerines in a Red Net Bag.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Because if you don't laugh, you'll cry.

At my house tonight, we are having Biden Burgers and Freedom Fries along with our debate. Our guest chef has even promised us a surprise Sarah Palin-inspired dessert. I hope it's some kind of chocolate mousse.

Because we all have productive activities scheduled for tomorrow, we probably won't be playing any drinking games--but we did print off our own Palin Bingo cards.

I'm feeling lucky.

Edit: And while waiting for the debate to start? The Obama Channel, of course (Dish Channel 73).

Self control. Not always a good thing.

Every year, I forget how awful my allergies are--that is, until the very tail end of summer. Even then, it usually takes ten to fifteen days of dragging around and feeling really, really bad before I remember, "Oh, yeah. I'm allergic to September."

It can be pretty miserable. Everything itches. Or drips. Or both.

For me, the eyes are the worst. But I've learned that if I touch them--no matter how much I want to--I'm done for. So I developed a work-around.

Whenever I feel the urge to rub, instead, I just scrunch my eyes up really, really tight. And you know what? It really doesn't do a thing in the world to alleviate the pain or the itching. But it does, somehow, help me feel a little less helpless.

Yesterday, after I had smooshed up for about the fourth time in an hour, I realized that I had no real idea how many times during the day I was exercising this maneuver. And that's when I had a terrible revelation.

It is entirely possible that I've conditioned myself into a facial tic.

--And not just your standard, run-of-the-mill, microsecond twitch, but a full-blown, face-distorting, wrinkle-inducing, Tourette's-quality spasm.

So, please. If you see me, and I'm scrunching and smooshing, tell me to stop. An intervention may be my only hope.

photo, Mariss. -dreamscometrue's photostream

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Maybe she should check google maps.

I guess this is going to just keep coming up.

I don't want to go to the trouble of looking back to count, but I have a sinking feeling that this is about the third post in a little over a week about how I ain't got no boo. And I'd feel a lot worse about it if this were one of those entries where I was making everything up. But I don't see how the blog-reading world can hold it against me that every single person I run into seems intent on reminding me that I don't have someone on which to get my freak.

Case in point: I ran into an old acquaintance over the weekend--someone I hadn't seen or heard tell of in well over three years--and she immediately asked me if I was seeing anyone.

This happens to me all the time, and it almost always puts me in a snit.

What about all that other fantastic stuff I've got going on? What about the great new job, or my fabulous new-old hair color? Really--a lot has happened in my life in three years' time. Enough of this, and I might get the impression that something is missing from my life--that I'm just going through the motions of living out what is actually an empty and unfulfilled existence.

Before I had time to get all self-righteous on her, though, she told me that she herself was recently single. As we spoke it became apparent to me that she seemed to think I--with my many years' experience doing the belly-crawl through the dating trenches--might have some sort of insight as to where all the men were.

And I do. They are at home, watching TV with their wives.