Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Should I become a professional cat lady?

If you’ve been toying with the idea of becoming a cat lady (or man), one cat food company now invites you to make it official.

Cat Chow is looking for a spokesperson. It’s a one-year gig and it pays $50k. Not enough to necessarily make me want to quit my day job, but according to Cat Chow, you can keep your day job and still do this.

This month they announced their nationwide search for a “correspondent” who will travel the country reporting on cat-interest stories and making connections with other feline owners to explore the special relationships they have with their cats (presumably, these would be the human-interest stories).

What are your cat credentials?

Well it’s a given that you have to be a cat lover if you want to apply. You are required to submit a photo of you with your cat(s) with your application; a video is optional.

They also ask -
* How many friends do you have on Facebook?

* How many Twitter followers?

* Do you have a blog (check)

* How many cats do you have?
You can answer up to 9 – or more. That’s a lotta felines.

There is an essay requirement, and several questions such as ‘if your cat were a celebrity, who would she be’ and ‘if your cat could talk, what would be the first question you’d ask him?’ So you definitely have to be serious about this whole thing.

For more info, check out these links – the third one is the application.
http://multivu.prnewswire.com/mnr/purina/48682/

http://www.catchow.com/Cat-Chow-Correspondent/Application/Default.aspx

http://www.catchow.com/Cat-Chow-Correspondent/printApplication.pdf

I do love my cat, and the assignment sounds intriguing, but I haven’t talked this over yet with Marley. She is 15, mostly deaf but still pretty sprightly for a kitty her age.

If you’ll indulge me a cat story – Marley had a little kitty stroke a few years ago. For a couple of months her balance was all off and she lost the ability to swallow. Since she couldn’t eat on her own she got very thin and we weren’t sure she was going to make it. Then one day she snapped out of it, got her ability to eat back and regained her feline faculties.

And here’s the weird part – her personality changed.

She had always been pretty anti-social. When anyone came in the house, she’d hiss at them and then run and hide under the bed. Something like a trip to the vet would send her hiding and sulking for days. She really didn’t like my husband, and avoided the dogs at all costs.

Now it’s like she’s a totally different animal, no pun intended. She likes my husband. She’s cool with the dogs. She doesn’t mind visitors and strangers at all. Now after a visit to the vet, she’s fine. (And since she lost her hearing, it’s a lot easier to sneak up on her with the cat carrier.) Overall, she’s more relaxed and social.

I’ve heard of people experiencing strange changes after a stroke, like suddenly being able to speak another language or play an instrument. But I never heard of it happening to a cat. Maybe I should see if she can play the piano now … that might certainly give us an upper hand. Or paw.

Anyway, if you weren’t bored to tears with my tale of cat companionship, and any of you are inspired to apply for the Cat Chow job, let me know. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on my competition …

Can’t get enough cat time? A compilation of gratuitous kitty videos for your viewing pleasure.
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=funny+cat+videos&aq=f

PS the deadline to apply is March 28

Monday, February 21, 2011

From the Pink Floyd files, AKA How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?

Without preamble: A teacher in England has been accused of spraying young children with air freshener when they ‘smelled of curry or onions’ and making them wash their hands in Pine-sol if they tooted.

We’re talking about nursery school/kindergarten aged kids, and apparently in an area with a large Bangladeshi population. The teacher also reportedly made kids stay in their pee-soaked clothes standing on newspaper if they had an accident, until their parents could come get them.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356882/Elizabeth-Davies-sprayed-kids-smelled-curry-air-freshener-nursery.html

Aside from the obvious cultural implications, maybe she just never learned to accept the fact that little kids often smell bad and produce stinky things. She had also reportedly been dismissed from other teaching gigs for, um, I guess not playing well with others.

What is an appropriate punishment for this? Not knowing the applicable law and what is socially acceptable for teachers in another country, it’s hard for me to say, but in addition to the fact that it can’t be good for your health to get sprayed directly with Lysol or Glade type products, imagine how embarrassing it would have been for those kids, and the message it was sending them about their hygiene, standing in the world, etc. I would think she wouldn’t be allowed to continue teaching, but I think a decision is still pending on that.

BTW, is torture still popular/acceptable in British schools? Perhaps I shouldn’t base all my inferences on Dickens, Dahl and Floyd.

Read “Boy” by Roald Dahl if you want to do some research on beastly authoritarian figures and the caning of children in mid-century England. I’m amazed that this book is marketed toward children, I read it as an adult and was upset by it. Although the story of how he and his buddies get revenge on the mean candy store owner is a great tale of childhood revenge.

http://www.amazon.com/Boy-Roald-Dahl/dp/014241381X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1297874431&sr=1-1

I look forward to hearing from teachers and those who have lived and/or gone to school in the U.K. on this subject. Or anyone who has been spritzed with Febreze for being too ripe.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pandora + Copacabana + Bob Marley = Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

Do you Pandora? It’s a free website (Pandora.com) that lets you create online ‘radio stations’ based on music you choose – for example, you put in an artist’s name or a song name and then it picks other songs and bands that are similar, based on its “music genome project.” So you can type in “Loretta Lynn” for example and it will choose selections of her tunes and other songs that are deemed to be similar whether it’s in the use of harmonies, rhythym, arrangement, etc.

You register for a free account and off you go (if you want to skip the occasional ads, you can upgrade and pay for the premium service). But it will play all day long, or until you sign out.

Listeners can rate the songs it chooses for you, giving them a thumbs up or thumbs down, to help the program refine your likes and dislikes. You can also select genres like adult contemporary, classical, etc. The site has recently added ads, but they are not too obtrusive. I like listening to it at work when I need some extra pep. There are also Pandora apps for phones so you can listen to it on the road/on the go. Pandora makes me happy.

It’s always interesting to see what other songs the software deems compatible with your selected artist, genre or song. The other day I chose “punk/new wave” because I was in the mood for 80’s music. Most of the songs and bands were what you’d expect, but I was surprised to see Creedence Clearwater Revival mixed in there.

Not that I would ever question Pandora’s choices, but I don’t think I would classify Creedence as new wave or punk.

Yesterday something came up at work about the song “Copacabana” by Barry Manilow. I plugged it into Pandora to see what would come up – a lot of it was understandable: Earth, Wind and Fire, Bee Gees (same song twice, live version), Village People, Lionel Richie, Michael Jackson …

But then it threw in Men at Work (Down Under), A-Ha (Take on me) and Blondie (Tide is High). And of course several versions of Copacabana – now I know there’s an acoustic version. With Pandora, you can also mix artists together, so if you’re curious to see what combining, say Shakira and Johnny Cash would produce musically, check it out.

The Copacabana experiment also generated the song “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas. You’ll recall this was a one-hit wonder, disco sensation. According to Pandora, Douglas was the first Jamaican-born artist to score a number one hit on the U.S. charts. Did I mention, Pandora also gives you bios on the artists/bands, information about all their albums, and you can buy/download the music too if you’re so inclined. Very handy.

But back to Carl Douglas – when I read that he was the first Jamaican musician to get to #1 on the American music charts, Bob Marley jumped to mind. I guess Marley never charted , or maybe not so high. No pun intended.


Speaking of which, Feb 6 was Bob Marley’s birthday, which for some reason I have written down in my birthday book along with the birth dates of my friends and relatives. I have also learned that Bob Marley shares a birthday with:


Ronald Reagan
Axl Rose
Zsa Zsa Gabor

Surely this must mean something but I haven’t figured it out yet.

There was a small exhibit on Rastafari culture and history at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History a couple of years back that I had the fortune to see, it was very interesting. I have to admit I didn’t know a lot about the origins of Rastafarianism so thank you, Smithsonian, for educating me. One of the things I love dearly about the DC area. And my that Haile Selassie was quite the captivating person, wasn't he?

His title of Ras, an Ethiopian nobility title, appears to have been the origin of the name Rastafari; he is believed to be a descendant of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon, and seen by some as the second coming of Christ.

You can read more about the exhibit and Rastafaris –
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/discover-rastafari-200801.html?c=y&page=1


http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/rasta-revealed-200801.html

Apparently, there is also some sort of sea worm named after Bob Marley. The ocean is a mysterious place.
http://oceandoctor.org/wild-and-crazy-a-worm-named-bob-marley-and-the-fish-with-a-see-through-head/


"Until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes...the dream of lasting peace...will remain but a fleeting illusion." Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, speaking before the United Nations in 1963

Thursday, February 17, 2011

America, are we getting screwed out a day off?

There is a local car dealership running ads on heavy rotation to promote their Presidents’ Day auto sales. I always thought that Presidents’ Day was about George Washington and Abe Lincoln, but I swear they are showing an image of Thomas Jefferson in their ads.

So either they are mistaken or I am, which led me to a search of the Internet. Good ol’ Snopes.com sheds some interesting light on the whole thing, link to the info below.

I’ll summarize what I’ve learned – there used to be a day for Washington and a day for Lincoln. Then somewhere along the way someone had the bright idea to combine them into one day. And I guess it was originally all about George, and Abe got tacked on at some point. That’s ok, Abe was a good dude.

So my takeaway from all this is that now instead of having two days off, I get one day off. Honestly, I’ll take it, February is a short month anyway. But still.

The other thing that is clear from this story is that these presidential holidays have been tinkered with, a lot. The dates keep changing, they get combined, they get separated, they combined again … there are federal days of observance but then each state can also have its own special days.

Why do we keep messing with this? Congress is busy.

http://www.snopes.com/holidays/presidents/presidentsday.asp

No clear ruling on whether it’s Presidents’ Day or President’s Day.

And, none of this has anything to do with Jefferson, thankyouverymuch.

Pee S - 2nd Update on Aberrant Canine Behavior

I have uncovered an important clue in the ongoing investigation against the Urinating Canine. When I got home today, my hubby informed me that the reason our newspaper has not been peed on the past few mornings, is because the a--hole dog is now peeing on our NEIGHBOR'S paper.

Maybe the dog is moving on to target others? I say good luck to you neighbor, and good riddance.

If he should come back, though, there will be a reckoning.

Update on Deviant Newspaper Behavior

I am happy to report that since my post about the mysterious urine deposited on my newspaper each morning, there haven't been any incidents. Is it possible the perpetrator reads this blog?

http://taniahandersen.blogspot.com/2011/02/mystery-of-urinating-canine.html

Skymall – Love It or Hate It, It Can’t be Denied


As a follow-up to my semi-rant against ‘as seen on TV products,’ I want to confess that I have a love-hate relationship with Skymall.

Every time I fly, I feel compelled to see what’s new in the Skymall catalog, and yet I also love to make fun of the often random, odd and seemingly useless products.

But when desperate for reading material, I will peruse the catalog from cover to cover, and it can keep me occupied as I provide running commentary on the products to my flying companion. Skymall has always come through for me as far as entertainment value goes.
What can you say about a catalog that showcases life-size sasquatch resin sculptures for your backyard, shoes that make you taller, gadgets to spy on your neighbors, virtual reality goggles, a box that winds your watches for you and more?

As a business model, it’s not a bad idea. You’ve got a captive audience on the plane, and they make it easy to order. Like a good infomercial, they present the products in a way that makes them more appealing than they probably really are.

Based on (unsourced) information I found online*, the Skymall company is based in Phoenix and was incorporated in 1989. With 200 employees, it reported sales of just over $100 million in annual sales in 2007 ($60m in 1997). It’s a public company – is there Skymall stock to be had? It is described as “the largest in-flight catalog company in the U.S.” – are there others? Clearly the market share leader in the in-flight catalog business. (The company has also said to have diversified into other things like developing shopping Web sites for other companies and managing reward programs for credit cards, according to CEO Christine Aguilera. {yes, named Christine Aguilera})

Found on 90 % of domestic flights and said to reach 620 million passengers a year. That’s a lot of Sasquatches.

The airlines get a cut of the action, but I wonder how much it costs to place a product in the catalog and how much of a sales bump the retailers can expect from that placement. If you can land a product on the Home Shopping Network or similar, it’s like a cash register ringing – they measure their sales in dollars per minute. I wonder if Skymall offers the same kind of sales nirvana for the makers of the power pooper scooper or the end table that looks like a shoe.

Skymall Mondays
I know today is Wednesday, but I love that Gadling.com has “Skymall Mondays,” in which a different Skymall product is reviewed in a tongue-in-cheek way each week, with reviews covering such coveted items as the hair restoration laser, temperature regulating sheets, a harness to drag luggage with, spy gear and lighted slippers. These reviews are as entertaining as the products themselves, which is to say I find them to be very funny.


Per Gadling, there are also apparently some products that get rejected from Skymall, though I’m not sure why. What criteria did these not meet?

http://www.gadling.com/tag/skymall-monday/



Ok, the female urine funnel, I can see why that one might get rejected. But the gadget to turn a hot-dog into a little hot-dog person? (called the Frankformer, bien sur) Not sure how that’s any different from a lot of the other stuff in there.


Confession, I have purchased something from the catalog once, some recycling bins. Why I would choose to buy giant plastic bins through the mail, I don’t know. That is the power of Skymall. The bins are in the garage and at least they get used, tho for storage and not for recyclables.

Have you ever bought anything from Skymall? I’d love to hear your experience, if it met your expectations or not.

Until we meet again, Skymall.


"Using a fabric developed for NASA to help astronauts adapt to extreme temperature fluctuations, these sheets prevent overheating and eliminate chills to create an optimal sleeping climate. Imbedded in the sheets are millions of invisible microcapsules that absorb excess heat when you are hot and release the stored heat when you are cold, ensuring a comfortable bed temperature and humidity. Unlike an electric blanket, the microcapsules adjust independently to an individual's climate, allowing two sleepers with different temperature preferences to remain comfortable throughout the night."


* Sources: Clearly this article is old, and it talks about such technical innovations as WordPerfect and NeXT personal computers. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/SkyMall-Inc-Company-History.html






Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Travel Round-Up – Transsexual stewardesses, obese bags and why flying coach still beats flying cargo

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that a brave airline in Thailand is hiring transsexual “third sex” stewardesses, aka Ladyboys. They predict other airlines will follow their lead. I applaud their gesture toward equal rights. And not to be mean, but these stewardesses are far better looking than the last flight crew I got on Continental.

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/09/6016617-pioneering-airline-hires-ladyboy-flight-attendants?ocid=twitter

Way to go, PC Air.

They are punishing our bags for being obese
Another reason to hate an airline: U.S. Air is upping its bag fee from $50 to $90 dollars when the bag is overweight. See earlier post on packing light.

What about the ripple effect this will have on the souvenir industry? We are all going to think twice about buying the funny looking monkey made out of coconuts with obscene sayings on it if we are a) packing smaller or less luggage and b) worried about exceeding a weight limit. This could be devastating to all the tourist shops that make their living plying you with irresistible souvenirs.

Anyone out there routinely ship stuff home rather than having to pack it? What are your tips for keeping bags light?

Stowing away inadvertently in the cargo hold
On a related note, there was a story in the news last week about how some poor baggage handler at National airport got stuck in a cargo hold when his coworker inadvertently closed the door on him while he was loading bags. Passengers heard screaming and thumping coming from somewhere in the plane and alerted the crew – how unnerving is that?

Apparently this is not the first time this has happened, on the same type of plane – and there was a reported incident in which a guy actually flew in the hold from DC to Boston …

First, I’m amazed that this could happen so easily. Second, if there are three incidents we’ve heard of, that means there must be more that happen that don’t make the news. And third, doesn’t this sound like a safety issue? If it’s that easy to lose a person on the tarmac or for someone to accidentally get locked in the cargo hold, then how easy would it be for someone to sneak in there on purpose?

I hope someone at the FAA is looking into this. And I hope someone at least sent that baggage handler a muffin basket.

“It is a curious emotion, this certain homesickness I have in mind. With Americans, it is a national trait, as native to us as the roller-coaster or the jukebox. It is no simple longing for the home town or country of our birth. The emotion is Janus-faced: we are torn between a nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange. As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” - Carson McCullers

Valentine’s Day Recap – Sliders and Denial of Blow-up Dolls

Ok, so I meant yesterday’s post to be the last on the topic of St Valentine’s Day, but I couldn’t resist a few more thoughts on this subject.

From the ‘champagne tastes and beer pockets’ file (or maybe beer tastes and scrounging for change in the sofa files), there is the story of the White Castle Valentine’s Day promotion - (participating) White Castles offer white-tablecloth and candlelit dining – if you make your reservations in time.

How many sliders would you scarf down in the name of romance?

http://adage.com/adages/post?article_id=141584

I hope they offer this again in 2012, it’s never too early to start planning for next year’s eventual specious holiday let-downs. (apparently they've been offering this since the 90's, but either I haven't been living in White Castle country or I've blocked this out of my memory)

I noticed that Papa John’s also offers a heart-shaped pizza in case you decided to spend the night in and want a sodium blast (disclaimer – I love pizza, and I love Papa John’s. no hate mail please).

And from the romance files, try this headline on for size - “Trapped Chilean miners denied blow-up sex dolls for fear of jealousy.”

A must-read –
http://bit.ly/eBdLoM


Did your romantic plans go over like a lead balloon or would you like to crow about your perfect date or gift? Post your comments please.

Don’t Stop Believin’ (or Believing)
Well, you streetlight people, whether your plans went boom or bust, I’ll leave you with some immortal words on love and the motor city from Journey and Steve Perry:

Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere

Just a city boy
Born and raised in south Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere

A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night

Working hard to get my fill
Everybody wants a thrill
Payin' anything to roll the dice just one more time

Some will win, some will lose
Some were born to sing the blues
Oh, the movie never ends
It goes on and on and on and on

Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people

Don't stop believin'
Hold on
Streetlight people

Don't stop believin'
Hold on to that feelin'
Streetlight people

So we officially close the books on Valentine’s Day 2011 and start planning for Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day, real holidays. And maybe even Presidents’ Day in between.

PS - is there such a thing as South Detroit? I have it on good authority that this doesn't exist.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Romantic - but not cheesy – movie suggestions?

I was trying to make a mental list yesterday of suitable Valentine’s Day movies. Ones that aren’t overtly Valentine’s Day-ish or over-the-top romantic flicks (like Love, Actually or Valentine’s Day the movie). Also trying to avoid flicks like Life is Beautiful or West Side Story because they make you just want to fall on the nearest pointy object in despair. I like a happy ending, har har.

Here is an unscientific and completely biased list, please post your own suggestions:

Napoleon Dynamite. Awkward and sweet, like love itself. BTW did you ever notice there isn’t a single curse word uttered in this movie?



Princess Bride. A fairy tale with humor and Inigo Montoya. And Andre the Giant!


Casablanca. Ok, I know this is a softball, but it’s a classic. Although he doesn’t get the girl it is still a satisfying ending.


The Illusionist. Surprisingly sensual, and Jessica Biel at her “considerable loveliest” doesn’t hurt.


Say Anything. Lloyd Dobler, with the boom box, Peter Gabriel song. ‘Nuff said.


An Officer & a Gentleman. Debra Winger, Richard Gere, factory scene in which he strides in wearing his military whites and literally sweeps her off her feet.


The Notebook. I wanted to hate this movie, I really did. But Ryan Gosling convinced me, especially in the rain-soaked love scenes.


Sense & Sensibility. One Austen had to make it on this list.


Dirty Dancing. Swayze! No one puts Baby in the corner.


Singin in the Rain. Debbie Reynolds personifies perky and gets her man, putting a bitchy film star in her place in the process. Who can resist Donald O’Connor and Gene Kelly?


Moonstruck. I really don’t enjoy Nicholas Cage’s work so this says a lot. The power of Cher goes a long way of course but this is just a heartwarming story with a big crazy Italian family and lovely beauty shots of New York City.


Out of Africa. I hate myself for putting this one on here, because the love affair doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, but it’s a beautifully complex and frustrating story that always makes me swoon.


So I Married an Axe Murderer. Mike Myers is undeniably charming as the goofy poet and San Francisco resident who falls for the dangerous but bewitching butcher Harriet, who has a bloody past. Great turns by Anthony LaPaglia and Alan Arkin, who for some reason was uncredited in his role.


From Justin to Kelly – just kidding.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0339034/


Last night, in honor of Valentine’s Day, my significant other was watching a movie about Pancho Villa starring Charles Bronson and Yul Brynner. Muy romantico. Altho Pancho did get married in the movie, while already being married to someone else. Powerful men and all that. Speaking of powerful historical figures, fittingly, Cleopatra was also on last night. Now that’s a sweeping love story on multiple levels. And the best eye make-up in cinematic history.


Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! Now let's put this specious holiday to bed.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Mystery of the Urinating Canine

Every morning, my husband or I pick up the two newspapers from the front yard that get delivered to us. And every morning, one of them has been peed on.

Never the Wall Street Journal, only the Washington Post. The papers are always, fortunately, wrapped in those little plastic bags … but still, it is very annoying to have a bag with pee dripping off it to deal with every morning.

I have to guess the culprit is a dog. I’d hate to think it’s a human. I also have to surmise that it’s a neighborhood dog, since it happens so regularly. But chances are that it’s a dog that’s being walked on a leash, since the vast majority of dogs seen in our neighborhood are leashed. So that means there is a human who is either facilitating or not addressing this crime. Could it be a passive aggressive neighbor who really hates our guts?

And to be honest, I am guessing the substance is pee. We haven’t had it tested. But it sure looks like pee. Other than dog urine, it could be deer pee. They do roam our ‘hood, in fact just this morning a big deer was taking a nice nap in my backyard. But we never bother them, give them free range of our yard, so why do they hate me so much they want to piss on my news?

I am going to have to get all Nancy Drew up in here, and launch a sting operation to nab the guilty party. Maybe night-vision goggles or motion-activated security cameras. I’ll scour the local army-navy surplus store and see what kind of camouflage I can get for hiding in the bushes, and I’ll let you all know what I find out.

I’ll get you, you journalism hating canine. It’s just a matter of time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

VD Gifts Explored Volume 2

Follow up to my controversial Valentine’s Day post, on gifts you really shouldn’t buy – hint - it's not cockroaches.

This info is from a website that is geared toward women who are newly married/shacking up, it’s their recommended list of what purport to be “non cheesy” Valentine’s gifts that ‘your man will really like.’

We’ll be the judge of that.
  • A pillow that says “STUD” for his man cave. Er, no.
  • Gourmet cookies that spell out X’s and O’s. Ehhhh … .borderline. do you really need to spend beau coup bucks on gourmet treats that are shipped in from San Francisco? Probably not. And I love San Francisco. But in general I guess sugar snackies are ok.
  • Monogrammed leather cover for his iPad. YES. Finally a good one. Or, how about a leather cover with a new iPad inside. Ditto for iPhones. Or i-anything.
  • Mug with kissy lips all over it. NO people. No.
  • Another throw pillow that says “I love u a lot” or something to that effect. Maybe I’m just anti-throw pillows in general. Don’t get the appeal. Have multiples of them around my house, and they seem to always be in my way.
  • Bi-lingual conversation hearts. Points for effort, but still no.
  • Matching mittens (twittens). I’m going to have to go with – no.
  • Ok, yet another throw pillow, this one with your silhouettes on it. Newp.
  • Book with ideas on small places in which to have sex, e.g. theater balcony, elevator, ski lift. I don’t know if men actually need a book to give them these ideas. And no mention of the back of a Volkswagen!
  • Ray Ban sunglasses. Don’t know what these have to do with Valentine’s Day, but yes, these are good. I will accept these.
  • Lastly, chocolate flavored vodka. I hate to be grumpy here, because I love vodka, and I love chocolate. But I have never been inspired to combine the two.

Honorable mention for those of you who are truly desperate: the Bronx Zoo is offering a unique and romantic gift idea for that special someone in your life: name a Madagascar hissing cockroach in their honor. Only $10! http://bit.ly/hpu3te

Ok so now that the countdown is on and it’s only a few days before VD strikes, have you taken care of your gift-buying responsibilities? My significant other got excited when he read my last post saying how a flat-screen TV makes a good gift …. Whoops. Guess I walked into that one.
(that’s what she said)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Your Mother Has Been Very Busy! – Glorious Insults from Around the World

Last night I went to a hockey game, Washington Capitals. Despite a solid showing, they were shut out by the San Jose Sharks. At least it was the 90th sold out game in a row for the Caps, not bad.

For this game we had ‘player’s seats,’ which I guess are the tickets they give the players to give their family, friends etc. We ended up with these through a charity fund-raiser. Anyway, what I learned is that the player’s seats are actually folding chairs (which would come in handy if a riot broke out, but they don’t have cup holders so less handy for drinking) AND that the players seem to give their tickets to a lot of young, attractive women wearing a lot of perfume.

Anyway, being at a nice, aggressive hockey game made me think of insults, and not just your run of the mill insults but some of the world’s most glorious insults, curated for your pleasure.

Warning: there will be cursing. And believe me, these are the least profane ones I’ve seen.

Spanish-speaking lands. Chupe mantequilla de mi culo. Suck butter from my ass. We Spanish speakers love things that involve the ass (no comments on that), sucking (no comments), shit and calling your mother a whore.

Although ironically, in Spain, if you say something is “de puta madre,” roughly, “from a mother whore” that is a good thing. It’s a compliment.

This one gets an honorable mention because I forgot to write down its country of origin: May your wife give birth to a centipede so you have to work for shoes all your life. "Da Bog da ti zena rodila stonogu pa ceo zivot radio za cipele" [Eastern European methinks]

Finnish: "Piss into a transformer" (Kuse muuntajaan)

Bosnian: "I dream about farting on you" (Sanjam da prdnem na tebe)

Franch; "Ca ne vaut pas un pet de lapin" - it's not worth a rabbit's fart.

Afrikaans: Big ups to the Afrikaans language for having some of the most imaginative insults I’ve ever heard of. Here are three good ones -

"Suck on my hemorrhoids and wait for better days"

or

“Your mother has an electric-green cunt that shoots porridge."

And my personal favorite -

“Your mother engages in prostitution in order to raise funds for the building materials necessary to construct a brothel from which your sister will operate.” Jou mammie naai vir bakstene om jou sissie se hoerhuis te bou Vieslik!"

I just love the specificity. Feel free to add your own insults!

Some of my sources – very funny.
http://www.cracked.com/article_16275_9-most-devastating-insults-from-around-world.html

http://www.boingboing.net/2010/12/04/glorious-elaborate-p.html


PS – we drowned our sorrows at the loss of the hockey game afterward at the Iron Horse Tap Room – for you DC area folks, that’s in Chinatown, if you haven’t been it’s only a block or two from the Verizon Center, great beer selection, motorcycle theme (‘iron horse’) but the best part is they have Skeeball. Two old lanes with the proper wooden balls, tho they are a bit dented (I don’t approve of the lighter plastic balls you are now subjected to at the boardwalk). Anyway, 50 cents per game. This appears to be the only sport I have any sort of skills at, and I know it isn’t really a sport but throw me a bone, people. And even then, my skills are rusty, based on last night’s showing. But there is a Skeeball league ….maybe they have a remedial group.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The List of What Not to Get the Special Man in Your Life

I know, I know, Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday, a sham to get us all to spend money in the name of forced love and romance. But knowing that many of us will fall prey to tradition anyway, I humbly present my suggestions for what not to get your man as a gift for Valentine’s Day, aka VD.
  • Any kind of clothing item. No one wants a tie with hearts on it, or a t shirt that says you’re a great husband. If you really are one, you won’t need to advertise it.
  • Silly tchotchke type things like teddy bears, figurines, hokey love books and musical cards. In fact, anything that can be purchased in a Hallmark store is probably best to avoid unless you’re buying it for a woman in your life. And even then be judicious.
  • A mug, mousepad, etc with a photo of the two of you that says “I love you” or “Together forever.” If you expect him to display this at the office, you’ve just lost him the respect of his coworkers, thereby hampering any future advancement at that company. Why curb his earning potential?
  • Further, a mug that says “sweetie pie” or “honey bunch.” Or red pajamas with lovey sayings on them. Customized book that catalogues every detail of your love.
  • Scrapbooked anything.
  • “Sensual” food cookbook.
  • Naming a star after him.
  • Big giant mylar balloons. Big giant cards.
  • Couples spa services. Better enjoyed with your girlfriends. Not saying he wouldn’t enjoy a massage, but in my opinion you don’t have to enjoy it together.
  • Dinner at a nice restaurant. They all jack up the prices for V-Day. Screw the restaurateurs by going the week AFTER Valentine’s Day.

What do guys really want?
Aside from the obvious sexual favors that I don’t need to name, for gifts that don’t involve getting in your guy’s pants or vice versa, here is my suggested list of real-life gifts that hopefully won’t be a total waste of money and make him roll his eyes.

  • A day off from everything. No talking, no chores, no interaction, no nothing. A day to curl up in the man cave without interruption, unshowered in flannel pants eating chips out of the bag, wiping his hands on the dog, falling asleep on the couch and enjoying general slothery with abandon.
  • A flat screen TV. Size does matter, but hey, even a small one is still a flat screen TV.
  • Beer. Or a good bottle of liquor.
  • Order him the pizza with the 12 different kinds of meat on it.
  • All of the seasons of The Wire on DVD. Nothing says love like violence and the Baltimore drug trade.
  • One of those sessions where he gets to drive a race car.
  • Pornography. Don’t say it with flowers, say it with April Flowers.

Ok so we’ve come full-circle back to sex …ain’t that always the way. So as long as we’re here, I do think there is value in buying lingerie to wear for your man. Altho I think womens’ tastes in lingerie varies greatly than mens’, skimpies are skimpies and there’s nothing wrong with some new frilly underthings.


Write-in entry: pop-up kama sutra book. If this doesn’t exist, it should.

Gifts for the Ladies?
Men, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the ladies, there are the traditional choices: jewelry. flowers. Spa services. Something luxe or indulgent like anything cashmere or pricey chocolates.


But for my money, you don’t have to spend a lot of money to commemorate your undying love. It really is the thought that counts. What does that mean? It means that gifts that show you have been paying attention, at least a little bit, are going to be the ones that she will remember. Get her something that relates to something she loved as a child. Or something that reminds you both of something from when you were first dating.


As goofy as you may feel, homemade gifts go a long way. Trust me when I say that you will earn major points for macaroni cards or picking out a photo of the two of you and selecting a nice frame. Think about the major kudos you’d get if you could figure out a way to make her a mix-tape, even if she might have a hard time finding a place to play it.


Consider an activity that she likes that you would normally avoid like the plague, such as a crafts fair, museum exhibit, etc. Watch a Lifetime movie with her. What about picking out a recipe and making dinner with a decent bottle of wine. And you clean up afterward. It may pain you, but it won’t kill you.


Do something thoughtful and manly like checking the air in her tires, filling the tank up with gas and getting her car washed.


All women are different and every relationship is different. Some of us do place a high premium on monetary value, and buying and giving expensive gifts may be a part of how you show what someone means to you. I will never insult you by refusing an expensive gift, like say a Porsche. Why, that would just be rude.


Personally, I am lobbying to commemorate VD with my guy by going to see a special screening of West Side Story at the beautiful art deco movie theater down the road. Because nothing says romance like tragic death and doomed love and dancing around with choreographed knife fights. At least they serve beer there.


And a last note on how NOT to show your affection for someone: call in a bomb threat to an airline so that your boyfriend can’t catch his flight out of the country, as in the case of this lovelorn Chilean woman who forced the evacuation of 300 people from a plane taxiing down the runway:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/41449840/

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How will you be celebrating the Super Bowl?

I love how marketers and the media sieze on an event like the Super Bowl to promote just about anything and come up with lame stories on the news. Special cocktails for the Super Bowl! What should you wear? Fascinating dip recipes!! Served in a hollowed out cabbage!!!

I don’t know which is worse, this or Valentine’s Day marketing. More on that later.

A newspaper that shall remain nameless had a whole spread today on the topic, promising information on what to eat, wear, drink and more for Super Bowl XLV. The ‘what to wear’ suggestions included some delightful $100 “NFL ladies’ crystal stacked rings’ – go to HSN.com if you want a ring that says STEELERS on it. I mean, why stop with a trifling towel? If you really love your team and are a fashion maven, surely you want to step up your game. Not to be outdone, QVC has lovely plaid-lined hoodies.

Some of the paper’s other suggestions for showing your team spirit are:

• Face paint
• A colored ribbon in your hair

No disrespect meant to this particular publication, but really? I feel like I am reading a middle school newsletter. In next week’s issue, we’ll share the results of the 8th grade intra-state trombone competition and Mrs. MacGillicuddy’s delicious Home Ec vanilla cupcake recipe ….

Then, in the food and beverage category, they swing wildly in another direction, suggesting that you decorate your beer with “long slivers of jalapeno peppers or a couple of slivers of lemongrass” for a fresh flavor and elegant presentation. WHaaaat? What dude in America wants to find a sliver of lemongrass in his Bud Light?? I don’t even know where I’d get slivers of lemongrass. Whole Foods, I suppose.

Note on cutting jalapenos – wear latex/disposable gloves. Do not touch your eyes. And definitely – pay attention, this is important here – do not have sex or sexual contact with yourself or a loved one with any of the jalapeno oils on your hands. Bad times.

Call me a traditionalist, but give me some 7-layer dip, a cooler full of beer (any kind of beer on this occasion) and some buffalo wings, and I’m a happy camper. I don’t care what Rachael Ray thinks is Yum-O! and I don’t trust Martha Stewart for football recipes, as if she’d deign to watch American football. Ha.

And let’s be honest, I don’t even watch football. I’m in it for the snacks and the commercials.

In the spirit of honesty, I know deep in my heart that all these articles and loose marketing tie-ins to the Super Bowl are surely meant for women. Guys, do you sit around thinking about what you’re going to wear on Sunday to watch The Big Game? Are you worried about what snackies and canap├ęs to serve to impress Doug and Bob? Do you rush to the store to snap up ceramic trays for serving in the proper colors? Stay up late thinking about what tablecloth to use? Write to me if you do, I really want to know.

I look forward to all your reviews of the ads after Sunday. But please don’t send me any recipes.

PS – look for a future post about the perils of Valentine’s Day

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Damn You Laura Ingalls

Snow, snow, go away, come again some other day. Or never. Or divert your happy self permanently up to Canada where they have lots of room to put you.

Ok so today I actually don’t have any basis for snow complaints. The big, one-two punch of weather they predicted for the DC area yesterday never materialized. In fact, the day was warmer than it has been in months. Today, the high was 50 degrees and even the rain that was forecast stayed away. Meanwhile, other parts of the country have experienced the worst snow in decades, if ever. Ironically, it will be colder in Texas for the Super Bowl than it will be in the mid-Atlantic corridor.

Some people are taking solace in the fact that Punxatawney Phil, the portly groundhog, saw his shadow today – or didn’t see his shadow, I can never remember which is which – anyway, the verdict is that spring is supposed to be coming sooner. I don’t put any stock in fat Phil, but it is a good excuse to mention Bill Murray and the fine film he starred in, “Groundhog Day.” I do love me some Bill Murray.

Anyway, back to snow. After living in warm climates for more than a decade, I opted to move back to the DC area. No disrespect to Al Gore, but I swear it has gotten colder here, and there is way more snow and ice and hail and sludge and temperatures in the teens than I ever remember there being here when I lived here last. (even factoring in what my blood alcohol content would have been back in the day as compared to now) It does make one rethink such a decision about where to live.

For now, let’s just say I’m over it and I can’t wait for signs of spring – any signs! – that we can hang our hats on. C’mon Phil.

I will say that when you live somewhere that has an actual fall and winter, it does make you appreciate spring and summer more. You want to get out and take advantage of those beautiful, sultry summer days because in the back of your little primordial mind, your body remembers when it was shivering and hunkered down and shoveling a path in the backyard so that your dogs could do their business. When you live in the desert, at some point you start to take those perpetual sunny days for granted.

When those first signs of spring appear, they come with all the trumpets and glory of new beginnings, and hope and the promise of a better, warmer future. One spindly little crocus plant nestled amid the mud never looked so good.

And I’ll suck as much joy as I can out of a warm, sunny fall, knowing that soon enough I’ll be back in my galoshes and wishing that giant parkas didn’t make me look so much like Bill Macy in Fargo.

I suppose if I were a frontier woman, I’d be using that time to can, pickle and preserve things, stocking my larder in anticipation of harsh days ahead. This I know is a direct result of reading too many of the Little House on the Prairie books when I was a kid. Laura Ingalls Wilder’s descriptions of the bleak conditions her family experienced probably cemented unconscious fears of homesteading, the Midwest, and wheat shortages.

On a road trip once from New Jersey to Oregon, a friend and I stopped in South Dakota to see a prairie sod home, or at least a re-creation of one. It reminded me of a little Hobbit home, tucked up under a ridge and pretty much carved out of the dirt and covered with grass. Inside would have been dark and bitter cold in the freezing ass winters there, but I suppose cozy in its own way. Families stuck it out and made a life for themselves there. I can’t help but think about the women in particular, and the hardships they must have endured. Do you think you would have liked the pioneer life, or have been any good at the homesteading way of life?

Suddenly I’m feeling like maybe I shouldn’t complain so much about a few inches of snow. Damn you Laura Ingalls!