Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fish N' Flush!!!

Ahh, just when you thought bathrooms couldn't get any more multi-functional:

The Fish N' Flush.

Sigh. Just think, you can poop among the fishes! Read the newspaper whilst Nemo looks over your backside!
Billed as a "conversation piece that will appeal to most everyone," it is apparently a full functioning toilet as well as salt or freshwater aquarium. Safe for kids, even! All around, it's apparently "a fun-fashion statement for the homeowner who wants to have something unique in the bathroom."

Why, you ask, should you purchase said toilet? Why, for these reasons (and I quote!), of course!
Why Choose Fish 'n Flush?

• Maximize Space
• Entertainment
• Excitement

Yeah, I so want one.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


The name sounded slightly rustic and magical: Tanglewood Festival of Lights. So. We wanted to have a fun, memorable holiday evening, complete with Harry Connick on the player and bright eyed kids enraptured by the wonderment of Christmas lights. Sounds idyllic, right? Okay, okay, so that's a stretch... but it at least sounds sweet, like a family memory to treasure as the years pass.
We started off in good spirits, caravaning with my sister and stopping off for what we thought would be a quick bite to eat at the local Bob Evans. Interminable amounts of time passed as we waited and waited for food that was then barely palatable. S. wouldn't stay in her seat. C. was sick with the chills and kept crawling his eight year old self onto his parents' laps. J. was ravenous as always. The adults? We were bleary eyed and irritated by the time we finally got the check and left the place (and good riddance).

We clipped along to Winston-Salem in record time, only to discover that our computer printed directions were incorrect. The official website recommended exit was closed. So, we took the next exit, stopped at a gas station, and got alternate directions. At this point, it was around 8 in the evening. I rolled my window down to get last minute instructions from my brother-in-law and then, it wouldn't roll up. I pushed the button. Nothing. We turned off the radio--not even a sound of a weak gear grinding into action... silence. Cold air blew in and S. started to cry. It was frickin' cold, my damn window was stuck, and our jaunty little holiday light trip had turned not so jaunty.

Finally, ten minutes into the traffic jam, I wedged my fingernail into the button and got the damn window up. Happiness ensued. We put on the White Stripes (loud) and sang as we inched along. A few houses along the route were done up in Christmas lights and S. was thrilled.

Hours passed. Really. We crept and crawled along, idling away half a tank of gas on a 3 1/2 hour wait JUST TO GET IN THE GATES. S. was asleep. M and I were cranky and tired,in desperate need of a caffeine jolt. NOt so merry, we blared the Polyphonic Spree in hopes of resuscitation. Not effective. We were just too cranky. Merry frickin' Christmas, we muttered, sitting helpless as cars deliberately kept us from merging.

On top of the stir craziness of sitting for so long, I needed to pee. Of course! This is no surprise--I peed twice at the gas station in preparation for a long wait, but 3 1/2 hours is just too long for my peanut sized bladder. Glancing longingly at the woods, I considered hopping out, ducking into the tangled woods and relieving myself. I'm sure the car would not have moved more than an inch in the time it would have taken me to do so. I kept thinking, surely we'll get in there, soon... but finally, I took drastic measures. Scouring the van yielded a sippy cup and a soda bottle. I chose the sippy cup. Nothing says Christmas cheer like pee in a Nemo cup, eh?

Still, 13 bucks later, we were slowly rolling through a landscape dotted with huge, blinking snowflakes suspended over the road... past candles that seemed to flicker and flashing squirrels that darted overhead. Across a pond, a sea monster writhed and a pirate ship stood docked, while a blonde mermaid flipped her tail. It really was magical. We listened to John Denver and the Muppets. We put in Harry Connick, Jr. S. woke up and her face broke into a giant grin, her eyes wide.

Guess we got our holiday memory after all... it just didn't come in the usual package.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Who is Bob Hutton on Jeopardy?

Holy Crap. Bob Hutton, resident noise maker, random snippet sayer, and all around bizzaro who made my college years more interesting, just frickin' won Jeopardy. You can click on his name to see a little video of Bob on the show's webpage.

Tune in on Tuesday to see him in action.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Making Christmas, making Christmas...

I'm on a brain drain this week... snippets of songs in my head, the slow recovery of too much turkey and an extended weekend with inlaws...


So, what have I been thinking lately? All about Christmas. Yep. What gifts to buy, which cards to send, what to bake... I'm wavering between bah-humbug and over the top joyous goodwill. It is exhausting. The juxtaposition of elation and dread would wear anyone out, I think. I wish I could stay even keel but this Christmas Eve marks the eighth year of my mother's death... I'd like to say it is easier but in reality, it is just weird...different...less sharp, maybe?

So... this is what I'm thinking. I'm compiling my baking list, and I wondered if anyone has any recipes/suggestions of what makes a Christmas cookie tray complete?
I think you need something spicy, like gingerbread men or the like... something almond, like a crescent, and of course, something CHOCOLATE because I frickin' live for chocolate. But what else?
So far I'm making:
peanut blossoms (in honor of my stomach and Marcus, who I always think of when I'm making them)
almond crescents
peppermint bark
chocolate cappuccino cookies

Suggestions welcome. Recipes are even better.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Visible from orbit...

Okay, this time Frayed One has me thinking about giant things to view from outer space. Ahh. I have been in the vicinity of this sacred spot several times, but I have yet to make the (ahem) pilgrimage...
Yep, those are giant "tablets" of the TEN COMMANDMENTS. I got that picture from the endlessly entertaining site,Roadside America. You can wile away many an hour with their vivacious copy detailing downright corny/creepy roadside attractions across the US of A. Anyway, these mammoth words of God are located in Murphy, NC (of course!) and are supposed to be visible all the way to... heaven, perhaps?

For a more detailed view, you can check out the official wacko site, Fields of the Wood Bible Park. They have 300 (count 'em) photos, with more coming! Ahem. If the pictures alone don't convince you to trek to the middle of nowhere to reenact rolling away the stone, maybe this impassioned description will (and I quote): "You’ll not find the Ten Commandments pulled down and in some closet here at Fields Of The Wood Bible Park, in fact, they are PROUDLY displayed in four feet wide by 5 feet high concrete letters/numerals on the entire slope of Ten Commandments Mountain! Atop Ten Commandments Mountain is what is believed as being the world’s largest New Testament, a thirty foot high, fifty foot wide Bible with a 50 person overlook atop of it, which you climb up to using stairs within the structure! PS: If you don't want to tackle the steps to the top, there is a paved road up to it! (Lots of parking at top, and even a concrete table!"

Road trip, anyone?

(Giant 30 ft high Bible via the field of the wood website)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

My favorite new phrase...

Okay, thanks to Ayzair, I have been researching phrases and reading about the origin of expressions. I ended up on this site. Most of them are pretty much par for the course, but this one caught my eye (and I quote):

Sucking hind tit
Meaning: Not getting a fair share.
Example: Since the introduction of Windows 95, Apple Computer has been sucking hind tit.
Origin: Many female mammals have multiple rows of breasts, for example dogs. Typically the rear most pair of breasts is smaller and less developed than the rest. Hence a pup nursing from the rear most breast is likely to receive less milk than other nursing pups. Hind means rear most. Tit is slang for breast.

Well then. I simply have to work that one into casual conversation.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Innate Morality?

Okay... this is a fascinating proposition, and it is merely a hypothesis... but what an intriguing one:An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong. Much like Chomsky's idea of an innate, universal knowledge for grammar, Harvard biologist Marc D. Hauser Dr. proposes the idea of an underlying moral grammar system that is shaped by the culture in which we live. (The book is called "Moral Minds.")

(article via What's in Rebecca's Pocket?)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Going to (read at) the chapel

Okay, guys...

I need your help. A friend of mine is reading at a wedding and she wants something romantic but still witty, intellectual but also sweet, etc. The catch: she needs it pronto (the wedding is next week). So, what would you suggest in the way of poem, excerpt, etc...? Thanks!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Which Witch is Which?

Halloween news of the weird: a man dressed in solid black, looking much like a jazz musician, wandered up to us mid downtown candy crawl and accosted Mr. I. "What are you?" he asked, leaning down into his face, all too close, and slipping something from his pocket into I's candy basket. "I never even heard of no power ranger!" he guffawed, and moseyed on, laughing at...nothing?
Well, just to be safe, I checked out the basket to make sure there wasn't anything off in there (like a wadded up kleenex or vitamin or even lint) and what did I discover? Three Ricola cranberry cough drops. Happy Halloween, little buddy.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Put a kork in it

Okay, not being an aficionado of bow culture, I recently stumbled across the name of the impossibly big and squiggly hair accessories found perched on little girls' heads throughout the country. Korker bows. Egad. Not only do they sound like a slang statement that one would make when smelling something best not smelled, as in: "That's a korker for sure, that one" with a wrinkle of the nose... or, heaven forbid, a slang term for something vaguely sexual, as in, "I'd kork 'er," they also are ridiculously unattractive. Case in point: you can view pictures of said korkers by simply typing in "korker bow" on a google search, or you can look here at the Sweet Baby Bowtique, purveyors of particularly gargantuan headgear. Be sure to check out their (ahem) "Funky" bows.

These behemoth bows are the rage in our area, according to the creepy woman who accosted me at the local secondhand shop. There I was, my daughter in arms, flipping through the rack of overpriced, worn out clothes and thinking, these people must be crazy, when this very blonde, very scary southern woman accosted me and proved me right. "Oh can I hug her?" she gushed and proceeded to do just that (do I need to remind you that I was holding Miss S. while this was going on? Eww! Personal space, lady!). Then she reared back, lifted her head to stare ( through her imaginary bifocals? her third eye?) at the petite, tasteful navy blue bow clipped in S's hair. "Oh." she said. "Oh." I wondered if there was something wrong. Then she launched into her spiel: "We have bows. Exclusive bows. They are only sold at two other boutiques in Charlotte,"(which makes them not exclusive but I didn't want to mince the finer points) she paused, licked her lips eagerly, and continued. "But we have them here and they are just the cutest things. My granddaughter... she's 18 months. Well her hair is straight as a stick and my daughter in law had her at church last night (BINGO: Southern Baptist or Pentecostal... at this point I got really antsy) and she had two of those bows clipped on her ponytails and the hair was sticking out like straw and it was just so cute... they're curly ones, they're corkscrew bows. Exclusive." Somewhere in between her rapid eye blinks I managed to escape the store with my daughter's apparently offensively uncurled and forlorn bow intact.

Some imagined backstory:

It's like two women were out walking with their kids in their impossibly expensive status strollers and someone said, "Hey Allison, you know what I think would be really cute? A bow bigger than her head. No really... TWO bows bigger than her head, combined into one hairdo. That would be awesome!!! Then her inane companion, head perched to one side, had her own a-ha moment (her last being sometime mid 1986, with the release of A-Ha's "Take On Me," but I digress). "Omigod Christy let's make them in multicolors to match every outfit! It will be just like being a cheerleader/sorority queen/elementary school teacher/etc. all over again! We can even give them cutsie names and match them to overpriced boutique clothing lines! Let's do it!" Thus, a cottage industry was born, with little girls soon bedecked in hair accessories with enough yardage to stuff a small occasional pillow.

Soft focus glow back to my present day rant:

Now, I put bows on my girl. Of course I do. It's the south, for chrissake. She even has a tiny psuedo korker bow that I bought at (gasp!) Gymboree on deep discount. But I do not (repeat)DO NOT put bows on her head that fight for their own zip code. She's a beautiful little girl with great, wild hair and I'm not going to dwarf it in some freakish Marie Antoinette scale hairbow made of grosgrain ribbon and rickrack.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Okay, file this under things I wish someone would pay me to study:
KIDS NEED UNSTRUCTURED PLAYTIME. Well slap me and call me Sally but who in their right mind thinks over scheduled, over-flash carded, super programmed kids are the way to go? Swings and tree forts and dollhouses, man. A little fairy dust made in the sandbox goes a lot further than the organized playdate at Build-a-Bear Workshop.
According to the report, unstructured play helps children become creative, lets them discover their own passions, helps them develop problem-solving skills and teaches them how to relate to others.

(via the Charlotte Observer)

You can read further about this massively groundbreaking study (ahem)here.

Seriously, though, it is nice to have some statistical backing when it comes to the insane pressure to superparent your kids out of a childhood. Just the kind of ammunition you need, sadly enough, when you're going up against Baby Einstein wielding, preschool placement grubbing, test prepping parents...
And the best part of all? It's FREE.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Welcome October!

My favorite month begins... did I mention October is my favorite of all months? The weather, the trees, and of course... Halloween. Sigh.

Now... to finalize my costume... in the midst of researching costume ideas, I've discovered how to make gelatin elf ears (courtesy of LOTR Costume.) No kidding! This site is INDEPTH, people. They ain't kidding around. Yeah, I'm not too proud to admit that I'd like to dress up as Arwen. However, I am certainly not willing to go to this level of authenticity. I do however, like the suggestion that one should go about making gelatin elf ears whilst topless. Hee.

Right now I'm deciding between Glinda the Good Witch (all glitter and pinkness, my dear!) and perhaps my own version of Promethea... my requirement for any superhero is that I not need be clad in a catsuit or some impossibly tiny bottom... ugg.

Any suggestions? So far the only legitimate one was that I parade the downtown streets dressed as a giant white, fluffy bunny. Hmm. Still considering that one.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Mix Tape's a masterpiece....

...had to share this nifty project: The Art of the Mix on Weekend America. Be sure to listen to the audio file of the excerpt from the show. Basically, 12 strangers became part of a mix cd club, with the only requirement being to make one mix cd, decorate the cover, and mail 11 copies out to the other club members. New clubs are forming--the email link is at the end of the article. I love the idea of how we form opinions of one another, sometimes surprisingly accurate opinions, based on our musical tastes. It is often a window into someone's deeper inclinations (or not so deep... or possibly even embarrassing...). Conversely, we often latch on to the similarities in another's musical taste, often making assumptions that are mere projections of our own reasons for enjoying the sound/lyrics, without necessarily understanding the other person at all.

Anyway, I love the idea of inflicting my musical leanings on 11 poor souls in return for a crapload of hopefully new music...

(by the way, the title's from "Kate" by Ben Folds Five... but you knew that already, didn't you?)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Guess what I did at the county fair? Go on, take a wild guess! Oh, of course I saw the typical trashy fare of the fair... one girl with incredibly good legs wearing hot pants and stilettos caught my eye, but hey, who am I to judge? Why not wear six inch heels on the tilt-a-whirl? Your business, honey, not mine. Still haven't guessed, have you...
Well, let's just say I was facing a demon and the demon won.

Some back story: Long ago, as little hapless girls in pigtails and windbreakers, my sister and I went to a fair to support the rebuilding of an insane asylum. Yep, you read that correctly. The original building was not much more than a shell of wooden floors and crumbling brick and was basically destroyed in a devastating fire. So, what better tribute to this scene of tragedy than to host a fair on the very grounds, with all proceeds going to the reconstruction? Great idea. I received my first roach clip and wore it as a barrette (!)for years... it was trimmed with suede strings,beads, and grey feathers. I don't think my parents realized what it was for, or at least I hope they didn't, since I wore the thing to elementary school on at least one occasion. Anyway, we decided to ride the Zipper ride that was there for all to see, a hilarious good time of careening back and forth, round and round, over and over...
apparently full fledged, stomach churning merriment for a mere ticket or two.
We gladly paid up and then clutched our cage in fear--my sister laughing uncontrollably and me crying uncontrollably, both transfixed with terror. The carnie laughed a good laugh and kept pushing the lever, waving at us as we spun by, our screams sucked out by the endless motion. When he finally decided to stop the ride, he acted like he'd done us a big favor, letting us ride for so long. Bastard. I remember clinging to the ground in relief, terrorized but free and vowing never to ride such a thing again.

Fast forward to the county fair, circa 2006. M and I decide we will ride said beast, the much bigger, more rickety Zipper that beckoned like a glittering beacon, the belts and gears still dripping water from a momentary rain shower earlier that evening. We stood in line, noticing the dazed looks of riders as they stumbled out onto the midway, and we both steeled our nerves. We were riding it. It's only a ride, after all, and a few minutes later, we could laugh, ridiculing our fear. And that's how it felt, at first...we were okay with the momentary stomach jerking tilt of the thing, the fluttery tip of the cage as it mounted the top of the frame and then cascaded back down, spinning. Then hell began. The Zipper really got going then, with full banging shaking thumping gear burning stench, the lights firing past our eyes as we turned over and over, thrown violently up and down and back around again. Every muscle tensed, I decided that this was one of the more stupid moments of my adulthood. M concurred.

Afterward, I could barely walk. I limped my way to a folding chair and sat down in defeat. M got our kids and got me a little closer to a bathroom, where I promptly staggered in and vomited. Nice. I later knelt in the wet dirt of the county office parking lot and vomited in the grass, disturbing a beetle who scurried away from my regurgitated funnel cake. Ahh. The ride home was hell. I finally bolted into the house, puked hard and fast, and fell into bed. Who knew? (Shh, honey, mommy got too dizzy on the Zipper ride and now she's comatose... Daddy will get you to bed). Aww. I am the poster child for motion sickness, apparently. Score two for the Zipper demon. I'm willing to lose.

(By the way, I ended up reading some interesting stuff about the history of The Zipper atthis guy's blog. Pretty interesting stuff.)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Better than a Magic 8 Ball

Come! See! Let the amazing Salmon divine your future! That's right, step right up (or mouse over to...) to the Soothsaying Salmonand you, too, can find out such gems of wisdom as: "You are someone who enjoys being different...just like millions of other people all over the world. A bowling tournament is in your near future. Dress accordingly."

Sunday, August 27, 2006


Much obliged to Pylgrim X for sharing his remastered copy of Miyazaki's
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. It was a lovely, engrossing story that kept us up late with no regard for the time. I keep thinking back to it, to the glimmering posionous spores of the jungle drifting down like a gorgeous snow of the watercolor washed, insect-like cargo planes that carried the warring tribes of humans above the earth's toxic the transcendent relationship that united human and insect, feared and fearful, the dichotomy bridged by a young girl who thought outside the lines. Anyway, it made me want to see more... M. and I saw "Spirited Away" in the theatre and were blown away--methinks it's time to fill our queue on Netflix.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Yes, I would like fries with that...

Back from vacation and on the way home we stopped in at a little diner (we've been completely hooked on Feasting on Asphalt, which makes me drool for burgers made the old fashioned way)in Mebane, NC... The Blue Ribbon Diner. Dear lord it was good. Old fashioned malts, charcoal chuckburgers smothered in heart attack friendly cheese and crispy bacon... and tender yet decidedly not limp (yay!) french fries. And sweet tea, of course...did I mention it was delicious? The decor made me think of Mel's in Boone... all fifties (but of course)and bustling. The place was packed, and with good reason. Yum.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


1. One book that changed your life?

As a child, my passion for L. M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott (especially A Rose in Bloom) and Frances Hodgson Burnett (A Little Princess was my favorite) made me quite the melodramatic little girl. At 15, I read The Great Gatsby and my love affair with literature began...

2. One book you have read more than once?

The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Loved it. The whole underground thing fascinated me... and it had all the markings of a somewhat inverted fairy tale, with the beautiful and cruel temptress keeping the lovely boy captive in her lair...

3. One book you would want on a desert island?

Hmmm...I'd have to have something with a lot of authors, like an anthology... something to keep me aware of other view points (and hopefully a good dose of humor!).

4. One book that made you laugh?

I absolutely adored A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. Too funny, and sad, and poignant... laughed until I cried when he was trying to scatter ashes...

5. One book that made you cry?

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
. Yes. I wept.

6. One book you wish had been written?

A nice book on how to identify ephemera and repair it... I have far too many things that are simply lost to time because everyone has either forgotten or is unavailable to tell me how to use the damn thing.

7. One book you wish had never been written?

Hmmm... There are many that I wish I had never had to read... like The Red Badge of Courage... ugg.

8. One book you are currently reading?

Change Me Into Zeus's Daughter by Barbara Robinette Moss for my book club. So far I'm not really into it. Rather a downer, I'm afraid. There's only so much alcoholic abusive father and dirt poor kids in the south autobiography that one can take.

9. One book you have been meaning to read?

Ahh... too many to count! But I am really interested in finally reading (insert embarrassed grin here) The Power of Myth and tackling Egger's second novel.

10. Now tag five people.

Hmmm. This is hard since I have so few readers, but here goes... I'll tag a few of ya'll, at least... MAC, Matt, and Sissy, have at it. Bonus points to Trev, Bryan, or Brian if they manage to mosey across this post. :)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Coming Clean

Hmmm. Reality check no. 2,343 provided by adorable 19 month old:

You know you need to sweep when your baby points to a hairball and says, "Eww, Mama..dwirty!" and waits for you to clean it up.

She may be in for a rough road ahead with me as her mother.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What do you get with a glut of tv?

Okay, time to drag out my not-so-dusty soapbox (and hope that I don't step on any toes in the process...*nervous grin*). M. came home on Monday and directed me to npr for this compelling series on kids and the media. It is definitely worth a listen and a read... especially the excerpt from Consuming Kids and the article on Barbie.
First off, let me state that when it comes to television and babies, I have the entire American Academy of Pediatrics behind me, and I quote: "Until more research is done about the effects of TV on very young children, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend television for children age 2 or younger. For older children, the Academy recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours per day of educational, nonviolent programs." In light of that recommendation, I don't know why on earth nearly 1/3 of children 6 and under have a television in their own room. Their own tv!!! Holy crap. I didn't have a tv in my bedroom until I went to COLLEGE!
I do not allow television watching for my kids until they are two. End of story. If you heard the kind of responses that choice elicits, you would think M and I were members of some radical fringe parenting school. Just like any other hot button issue, no one wants to call into question his or her own dependence or overuse of television and would rather hotly justify the status quo viewing habits of the average family than delve into the possible side effects of so much damn tv. Don't get me wrong; you know I love me some soaps and I am quite the Daily Show addict. However, I am an adult with the mental processing in place (I hope) to filter through the endless junk that accompanies my favorite programs. With the average kid viewing between 20,000-40,000 commercials a year (there were conflicting numbers on the aap website), it is hard to argue that television's effect is innocuous.
As for the second npr installment, sexuality and tweens, you simply have to read the article on Barbie's diluted threat. Having had a son first, I went through the humdrum routine of buying passibly attractive outfits for his chubby physique. Now, with my daughter, I am astounded at the full on array of clothes that are available. She can look like a little whore in training before she's even in training pants! Egad. I'm not suggesting that M. and I are going to turn Pentecostal and dress only in modest clothing choices, but I do think it is a bizarre day when OshKosh, purveyors of bib overalls and flannel shirts, sell drop shouldered, sparkly tees with the words "sweetie" emblazoned across the chest.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Return of the Dark Side...

Chocolate lovers of the world unite: Dark Chocolate M&M's are being re-released! After guiltily stockpiling them during the whole Revenge of the Sith Star Wars dark side campaign, I can now hold my head up, take my place among the legions of others who devoured mass quantities of the addictive little things, and replenish my stash. Dear Lord they're good... perfect for munching mindlessly whilst reading the paper, tasty mixed with a swig of coffee, and excellent when tossed into a dense brownie recipe.
Sigh. They come in a purple package, so be on the lookout!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Jelly time

Okay. I just canned three batches of blackberry jelly and I'm here to tell you, I am so glad that I live in modern times. My poor foremothers! I love canning, but I am glad that I don't have to rely on it for survival. The Ball Blue Book logically describes each step of the process, with sterile illustrations and soft focus photos of artfully posed, quilted glass jars of canned jelly. What this idyllic picture leaves out is the rivers of sweat it takes to stand over the stove for three hours, either your hands in very scalding hot water or your face over the steam from the canner... honey, I earn my jelly. It is delicious,though, all warm and slightly tart, a gorgeous deep burgundy... and sure to make me a toast eater for the next while.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

It's Plastic! Made from Corn!

It must be the midwestern girl in me... I was waxing nostalgic about a pen I once devoured (once being a nibbler of pens, a trait that often unknowingly left me with ink stained lips...nice) that was made from corn plastic. Yep, that's right: plastic made from corn instead of oil. So I decided to do a little learnin' on the subject and discovered that you can buy all sorts of nifty crap made from corn plastic... check these silly items out: corn crap!!!
I guess you can get a walkman made from corn, and Versace makes clothes out of a corn polymer that mimics silk... Apparently corn plastic has a long way to go, though. Environmentalists worry that it is made from genetically modified corn, while traditionalists think the products will biodegrade too quickly. Ahh, well. At least we can order corn keggers!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Quest for Optimus

The things you'll do to see your child's eyes light up... Never in my life did I imagine I would travel to seven stores in search of a toy, but here I am, grown up and admitting it: we are that kind of parents. I know the troubled history of the hotwheels acceleracers rival gangs (a little creepy and adolescent, truly)...much to my chagrin I know crap that I never wanted to know about Pokemon and their evolutions... I know how to finagle legos into all sorts of Star Wars recreations... I know which weapons belong to Flash and how to fit Spiderman into his dorky webglider...and of course, I am now the mother who can reattach Starscream's foot or find the elusive Leobreaker's tail (note to Hasbro: make those damn things stay on!). That's it, people... my son is a Transformers devotee. Of course, his Daddy made him that way, bequeathing him a rather sizable collection before he was old enough to start saving his own money for a fleet of autobots.

But before you think he's terribly spoiled, let me tell you the backstory: Little one gets an allowance every week, which he has been squirreling away for months, doing extra jobs and selling toys in a yard sale, all to save for the 40 dollar Cybertron Optimus Prime. This weekend he counted his money and lo and behold, he had enough, even to cover tax! So we headed down to Target to reinforce his good lesson of saving for what you want instead of blowing your money on less desirable crap (gee, I wish I could learn that lesson!), only to discover that there was not an Optimus in sight... so we drove to Walmart. Then another Target. Then another Target. Then another Walmart (I think you get the picture). Not even Toys R Us had it, and Amazon said it was no longer available... turns out it's been discontinued, to make way for some new crappy paint job and umpteenth reissue in August.

But... all is not lost! We enlisted Gramma in the search and wouldn't you know it, she found it on the first try. It was kind of anticlimactic, really. Here we were all tired out from our Transformers Quest and she waltzes into the store and finds it first thing. Geez.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Southern Fried

Kudos to Grace for turning us on to our latest obsession: Paula's Home Cooking on Food Network. Sigh... There is nothing like watching someone who loves to eat make really decadent, sinful stuff that she then eats in front of you, complete with smacking lips and joyful abandon. Paula Deen is utterly divine. Consider our recent viewing, in which she made deep fried hungry jack biscuits, mixed up a squirt bottle of honey butter, and injected those little fat laden lovelies until they were fairly bursting with delicious, gooey sauce... YUM. Those were snacks, mind you... she made a trip to Krispy Kreme and then concocted a bread pudding out of 2 dozen chopped up glazed doughnuts, fruit cocktail, raisins, and sweetened condensed milk. After baking, she topped it with a sticky mass of creamy icing made from rum and powdered sugar... because you know those doughnuts weren't sweet enough, ya'll. Hee.

I. loves it. He loves to watch cooking shows with Mama, and so we park ourselves in front of truly southern Paula and throw calories to the wind. Now I'm thinking we may have to make a pilgrimage to Savannah...

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wheels Churning

Busy, busy, busy... for whatever reason the creativity bug has bitten me once more and I am twitching like a taut wire to get started on my various projects in waiting... There are yard chairs to be painted, walls to be patched and primed, and recipes to try. Sometimes it is as if the world unfolds anew, with a different view that transforms the everyday into possibility... simply put, I'm out of my slump.
Now, if I could just stay focused on one thing rather than flitting about with nervous energy, trying my hand here and there...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Friends of P and a little Goethe thrown in

Okay... for all you squeamish stomachs out there, I thought I'd move along to a new topic. Right now I'm currently waxing nostalgic over Matt Sharp and his recent announcement that The Rentals are reforming, putting on concerts, and will record a new album... ! Ahh, sweetness (and tenderness!)... Matt's solo stuff, quite frankly, sucked... I mean, Visions of Anna did make me cry but come on, man... his long, painfully slow and somber music was so melancholy even I couldn't get into it. It was, however, useful on car trips for putting the kiddos to sleep. Hee.
In other music adventures, I finally picked up a Belle and Sebastian album (their latest,The Life Pursuit) and I love it, love it... Quite a fun album, with plenty of 70's references and clever phrasing...
As for reading, I just finished The Sorrows of Young Werther and now I'm thinking I'll finally read Faust in its entirety... this is what happens when you start picking books off the shelf and thinking, "What? I've still not read this? I've only had it for say, TEN YEARS???!"
And in my tv junkiedom--Denny died! I mean, we knew he was going to, but man... how I love serial drama.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

HAPPY EASTER (and chocolate gorging, be it as it may)

Okay... just a quick note to wish you and yours a Happy Easter (or happy fertile springtime, all you pagans)... I wish you many peeps in your basket and chocolate by the handfuls. In honor of the holiday, you can look again at The Fellowship of the Peeps (see marshmallow peeps reenact LOTR scenes!) or consider making a swanky dessert that will impress all your friends... chocolate fondue with marshmallow peeps for dipping. Yum.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Drink Up!

Could it be... that aspartame is not as evil as we once thought? Please, please let it be true! I am lovin' me some Diet Cherry Vanilla Coke as of late... and my fruity-tangy-efferevescent romance with Fresca has always been tinged with the shameful guilt of *gulp* just how dang artificial it is. Of course, now Fresca comes in THREE (count 'em!) flavors, and has a slick little webpage, graced with Stacy London (of What not to Wear, which I adore and watch religiously albeit with periods of paganism when I turn instead to The Secret Life of... or Unwrapped... how I love to watch perfect little lines of food make their way down conveyor belts and slip under curtains of chocolate or glaze or whatnot in the enrober....sigh) in a Fresca-esque outfit and a ridiculous game thing where you can create your very own frescascape...and though I have questions for why one would want to...I created one anyway. Pretty dull, honestly. Watching citrus slices float over a desert landscape is not exactly something I crave or understand, to be honest. Still... it's fricking FRESCA, man!!! Now, with NOT CANCER CAUSING ASPARTAME! *sigh*

Anyway, in other news, our stove died and I'm currently cooking with a bit of hope, prayer, and a trusty little match. Ugg. Hopefully I won't ignite the entire kitchen before the weekend, when we get the arduous task of finding a new stove that has all the high end features I want without the high end price tag. Dang I hate having champagne tastes! Right now, though, I'd settle for a stove that won't blow our house up. It's the little things, eh?

Friday, March 24, 2006

Tissues and Tea...

Okay... I've been drowning in sinus nastiness for weeks now, and it seems to have affected my brain. Formulating complete thoughts is a struggle, and simply schlepping from the couch to the computer has been enough to wear me out. Ugg. I've been on a bit of a 1950's kick, what with reading The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio and perusing an old McCall's magazine (one ad reads, eat something baker made EVERY meal! with pictures of tasty doughnuts, danishes, pound cake, etc. above it... oh how I wish we still lived in a time that called sugar and eggs wholesome and good for you!).

In other news, my sister's kids spent the night last night and everyone was well rested and rowdy this morning. I stepped into the living room in my robe, lectured them on being quiet, and ended the sentence with something about not wanting to hear any more of their brouhaha. I could see the wheels turning in the oldest's head--he was mentally storing that funny word away for use at another time. Ahh, how my sister and I are creating little verbal geeks, like it or not.

Off to make a pot of tea and stave off my inevitable desire to demolish the last of the brownies... for some reason, no matter how incapable of taste or smell I may be, chocolate never loses its allure. *SIGH*

Friday, March 10, 2006

UFO's and other claims to fame

Okay... just one of the many reasons I love calling North Carolina home:
North Carolina ranks fifth in the US for UFO sightings.

Hell, yeah! This tasty tidbit brought to you by the letter "C" and available in more detail here. Naturally, I followed the links and ended up marveling at a Roswell attraction: take the tour at your leisure.

And we ended up with three of our homegrown talents in the top 12 on American Idol. Yee-haw. Almost makes me proud that my kids are gonna be natives themselves. Rock on.

Friday, March 03, 2006

harbinger of spring

When I took out the trash this mid morning, I discovered that my daffodils are in bloom--gorgeous little tete-a-tete daffodils, bobbing their precocious little heads against a backdrop of uncleared leaves and dog doo. Ahh, spring at our house! Hee.
Still, it lifted my spirits and I picked just a few ( thinking of when I was a little girl and my Mom taught me to take only one or two stems from each plant, rather than stripping it of all its glory) and put them on my kitchen windowsill. Now, when I wash my hands or rinse dishes, they serve as a reminder that spring really is on its way. Throughout my life I've fancied myself as someone who desires dark and dreary days, cold weather and melancholy weeks of rain. Uh, let me come out of my poetic (and artfully dark) corner: I love nice weather. I want sunshine, and a little breeze, and the kind of sun that makes you feel happy to be alive. Screw this day ending at 5pm crap and give me a long, late twilight with a gentle wind and a lavender sky. *Sigh*

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Say it Ain't So--muddling in my musical past

Okay. Music being the thread by which I've often managed to hang on to my sanity, I love to delve into my past and think about what I was listening to when. So, the other day Ayzair and I were musing over what we listened to our freshman year of college... and I realized that a lot of what I initially thought was freshman year was more of an amalgam of college in general, particularly my years spent living on an all girl hall with plenty of grrrl rock and guilty pleasures (Madonna and Prince come to mind...). When I actually stepped back and thought about that difficult and transforming year, I realized how my musical tastes at the time helped bridge the space between being home(ie, the good overachieving daughter) and being away(ie, the tentative, experimental young woman) and also played a role in developing my own sense of self and separate identity. Anyway, here is what I was listening to in the fall of 1994/spring of 1995:
  • Sonic Youth--"Dirty" Oh, how I loved Sonic Youth... the more feedback, the better. I worshiped Kim Gordon and was in awe of Thurston Moore (although I never liked his solo stuff). I also played their self titled first album...all artsy and stuff. It was good for a melancholy afternoon, and it made me think of home
  • Weezer--the Blue Album I still love this album, as does my son. I remember riding in the car, playing this on the tape deck and thinking it was one of the most singable albums ever. "Say it Ain't So" was so huge then--and when I hear it I always think of my road trip to Tennessee and the windows down. I still love "In the Garage," as it summed up so many of my male friends and their pastimes (or lack thereof)...
  • Joni Mitchell--"Clouds" and "Ladies of the Canyon" Ladies of the Canyon is the first cd I ever bought. Yep. It was all tape for me, with a good percentage of it beloved mix tapes (I admit I still have a few). So, I went to college with my first cd player, and I had this almost superstitious feeling that the album should be something timeless, something that I would always listen to... not some flash in the pan record that would embarass me later.
  • Speaking of flash in the pan... Luscious Jackson--"Natural Ingredients" Okay, forgive me this one, but I loved this album. At the time they were cool, they were relatively unknown, and I loved it. I still think it was a great album, very different from other stuff at the time.
  • U2--"The Joshua Tree" and "Achtung Baby" This got me through many a late night study session... and it was an homage to high school, where I played Achtung Baby constantly
  • REM--Green, Automatic for the People, Monster... My sister turned me on to REM when I was in middle school, and their albums were a constant for me from that point on
  • Smashing Pumpkins--"Siamese Dream" I loved this album. It was so loud and emotional--I sometimes still sneak and listen to it, even though Billy Corgan turned out to be a real ass
  • The Pulp Fiction soundtrack--Egad I played this all the time... it expanded my musical tastes (thank you, Tarentino). I was hooked on surf rock--my dad's old Ventures albums got dusted off and put into rotation. "Son of a Preacherman" inspired my boyfriend at the time to buy a copy of Dusty in Memphis, another great album
  • The Velvet Underground--self-titled and with Nico--I love Lou Reed, and these two albums are so perfect. Mo Tucker rocks.
  • Pavement--"Wowee Zowee" and "Crooked Rain Crooked Rain"--I was so entranced by their lyrics and sheer bizarre blend of sound, word, and song--loved it. Drove my roommate crazy, I think...
  • PJ Harvey--"Rid of Me" I had the four track demos and damn, did I wear that tape out... this was good for the car because I could play it much louder than I could in the dorm
  • TMBG--"Lincoln" Still my favorite of all their albums, with its quirky and cynical dispair and sheer wistfulness for what could never be
Anyway, I challenge you to come up with a list of stuff that meant something to you your first year out on your own, away from home. (Check out ayzair's list if you need more inspiration)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Make yer own top ten list of must-read books

Okay, I woke up to read this list of top ten books every child should read before leaving school (which I discovered via rebecca's pocket). Now I keep turning it over in my head--should everyone have a knowledge of Animal Farm before they enter into polite society? Is there a universal list, or should the list reflect the culture in which you are raised and living? I mean, the ones listed are obviously adherents to an Anglo-Saxon based, heavily British canon... not that that makes them inappropriate, but what about world literature? So I'm trying out my own list... what would be on yours? I definitely think you need to read Milton's Paradise Lost if you are going to understand the cultural atmosphere of Western literature... likewise with The Odyssey. I would argue for Don Quixote, since it's the first novel and it seems part of a cultural literacy...but then I start leaning toward my own prejudices, toward expatriate lit and the whole sense of important periods in literature (ie, existentialism, naturalism, romanticism, etc.). But what about 1984? Or should all Americans be required to read Uncle Tom's Cabin? Or The Grapes of Wrath? Anyway, food for thought as I cook dinner...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Judy Chicago at Queen's...

So we went to see Judy Chicago at Queen's College yesterday... she had quite a lot to say about her work; i.e., how she created The Dinner Party, the Birth Project, etc. (If you want to see her work, go here .)The sheer amount of handwork that went into those installations is amazing--and daunting. Still, what I enjoyed most and what stuck with me was a comment she made about her understanding of feminism today versus her understanding of feminism in the seventies. She basically said that in the seventies, women counted females who should have been enemies as friends and counted men who should have been friends as enemies. She said that gender cannot be the definition by which we judge someone's intentions; a person's values have to be the definition through which feminists evaluate the social and political landscape. Her crowning point was that Condoleeza Rice is the perfect example of gender not being the trump card for feminism--obviously, gender alone is not enough to make you care about feminist issues!

One of my professors, Georgia Rhoades, expounded upon that idea throughout her classes. She called for third wave feminism to be a pursuit of equalism, a place where men and women strove for equality in the workplace, the home, and in their relationships. This always appealed to me in a way that the in-your-face feminism espoused by my NOW joining peers did not. I am a feminist--but I have always had difficulty with the strict checklist by which many women evaluate others, deeming them appropriately radical or feminist enough. Ugg. It seems like we ought to see the power within diversity, the tremendous advantage it gives to have a vast and varied population working to facilitate change.

As I play with my daughter, I wonder what kind of feminism she will inherit. In so many ways it astounds me that we have made so little progress in our views--if anything, the current political situation seems bent on arresting the movement, calling all feminists "radical" and "liberal" and therefore marginalizing those pesky women who think out of the public arena... I don't know how we ended up this way. With each election my hopes have been dashed that there are a lot of us out there, men and women who believe in a more conscientious, thoughtful approach to our world's people and resources.

On paper America looks like its politics are roughly divided in half. Of course, that image is accurate only among the people who actually vote. What about the percentage out there who don't make their voices heard? Number one, what the hell are they thinking? and number two... what if they world is more feminist than we are led to believe?

I hope it for my baby girl. I hope it for my son. I hope it for me as I slowly become older, closer to the crone and further from the young, fertile and powerless girl that our society worships.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, Toast!

This morning...
Bleary eyed, I opened the living section to be greeted with the headline, "100 Years of Toast," accompanied by a lovely photo illustration of a chrome toaster reflecting three birthday cupcakes. Apparently
1 in 10 people would rather have toast than sex in the morning. Now that's something to consider while buttering yer bread.
Ahh... toast. I love it, with cinnamon, with peanut butter, with a slice of cheese melted on top... In fact, I love it so much that I would write a poem about it, if I weren't so lazy and if some other people hadn't covered that subject here.
Yep. Haiku for toast. (The sad thing is, I bookmarked that site years ago, having always been a fan of the toasted treat.) Anyway, there's something to be said for thinking about the mundane objects that we never really consider, simply expecting them to deliver day in and day out... something like a toaster is hardly a revolutionary object in our lives. Perhaps we ought to marvel in our everday things more often-- So I salute you, toaster!

* * *

Monday, February 13, 2006

Happy Formerly Anti-Valentine's Day

Okay, okay... here I go again.

Anyway... this is what I'm thinking this evening, as I have a cup of tea--Valentine's Day may be a created holiday, implemented for the purpose of selling cards and cheap candy, but it is a truly guilty pleasure of mine. For years I protested; I hosted anti-Valentine's day parties (always on the 13th, incidentally) and snubbed my nose at other's saccharine displays of affection. Inwardly, though, I have always reveled in the sheer over-the-topness of it all--the ornate decorations, the freedom to express things that are normally saved for within the pages of a bodice ripper paperback.
This year I had a new experience: the filling out of valentines for a grade school class. There he sat, studying his class list and carefully filling out each Power Rangers card with precise letters, one after the other. Such concentration! Then, after each card was properly addressed "to" and "from," he slid the matching pencils into each valentine (not an easy feat, as I discovered when I tried to speed him along and ripped the slot in the process). For his teachers, we used red paper doilies and some awesome victorian stickers (thank you, TJ Maxx!) to make real cards, and he was thrilled to use rubber cement (which he announced smells really good. Hmmm). He went to bed singing some weird little song he learned in music today, something that went "Viva, viva Valentine." Maybe a take off on Viva Las Vegas? I don't know... Anyway, he was so excited about tomorrow that it was infectious. I have a little gift for him and a valentine, of course...

So--from me to you-- viva Valentine's Day to you, too.