Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End-of-year blowout on quick hits!

As this topsy-turvy year grinds to its end, I thought I'd leave you with a few quick hits to ponder:

Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Utah is the fastest-growing state. We can only hope that the influx consists of normal people flocking in there to water-down the freak element of all those crazy asshole Mormons concentrated in one place.

More challenges to Bush's last-minute bullshit
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence is asking a court to stop the implementation of a Bush law that allows guns in national parks, including the place in Philly where they have the Liberty Bell--a place that isn't out in nature somewhere but right in the city. The Bush law is set to go into effect on January 9, 2009.
Also under this banner, the state of California is suing to stop Bush's changes to the Endangered Species Act. Way to go, my future home!

Goin' out in a blaze of ... stupid
As if we needed more proof that Rod Blagojevich is a ballsy jerk, Blago's gone and appointed the replacement for the Senate seat vacated by incoming president and world-saver Barack Obama. Senate dems are refusing to seat Burris, and Obama has panned the move as well. I wonder what Burris promised to do for Blago in exchange for the appointment.

It's not irony when it's expected
It turns out that the people who were in charge as the financial meltdown occurred aren't being punished or stripped of their billions or told they'll never work in that field again. Those kinds of things only happen to us regular people. Nope, many of these criminals are pretty much living just as they were before their sins exploded in a fire like a trillion blazing suns. Color me... not the least fucking bit surprised.

More on the inaugural invocation and beyond
Wisconsin's Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing to stop the invocation/benediction at inaugural and the "so help me God" phrase in Obama's oath of office. This would certainly short-circuit any more talk about whether that asscrack Rick Warren should or shouldn't be giving the invocation, but my guess is that the theocracy will win out and the suit will be unsuccessful. Remember how crazy everyone got when people started complaining about the "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, despite the fact that it wasn't in the original? Sadly, I see this one going the same way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Meh humbug

WARNING: HUGE potential for what might be construed as whining in this post. Be thee warned.
image from here

It seems like each year, the holiday known as Christmas gets a little less exciting for me. I'm not the only one; WhiskeyMarie was feeling a little "meh" as well. I have several theories to explain why xmas just doesn't hold the same joy and excitement as it did even a few years ago; maybe writing them out and hearing your thoughts will help me find some answers.

1. the lack of xmas magic--Once big brother Ricardo and big sister Raquel had both married and started having their own kids, they started saying, "Christmas is for the kids!" all the time. Kid sisters Mary and Nora and I thought they were just being cheap; xmas is for everyone! Family and friends and xmas magic! Santa! Then R&R started talking about the dreaded "draw names" approach to gift-giving, which Mary and Nora and I reasoned was what one does at work, not with family! It just seems so cold. M, N, and I still wanted presents all around, even little ones! No one had to spend a bundle or anything; who doesn't enjoy a cool framed photo or a handmade present? The little sisters and I were able to resist the drawing of names for several years, but as the families grew we got out-voted. We've been drawing names for at least ten years now, and I guess I'm okay with it (it IS cheaper, which is good when you're poor like me but still takes the magic out of it). Still--it's not the same. I can't get over the associations with work and other non-family gift exchanges; it just takes the magic out of it for me.

2. not being "home" with the family--This one really hit home this year, as I was stuck in PA without my blood family and without my Kat-and-Em family for the first time in six xmases. I ended up spending a few hours with my friend Joche (JOSH-ee) and her sister and grandma, and we had a great time eating good food, drinking, and lying around in our sweats watching "Law and Order." Still, I really missed my own family, and once I went home, I was kinda lonely and bummed. I didn't do a tree or decorations because it just seemed kinda silly, and I sat around and watched Harry Potter movies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes. Not very xmas-y. I'm sure Mom and Dad and the siblings were watching "A Christmas Story" and laughing their asses off, with the smell of pine all around. *sniff!*

3. being older/atheist/cynical--This might be a big one, or it might not. I haven't been a church-going religious person for a LONG time, so I know it's not the absence of the baby jeebus or anything churchy that makes me sad. But now that I'm older, I do tend to think about the financial side of xmas (again with the lack of xmas magic). Also, now that I'm such a pragmatic adult, I always want practical gifts. We all used to groan as kids when we'd get socks or panties; now that I'm older, I LOVE socks and boxers as gifts. That's fewer socks and boxers I have to buy for myself! Is that pathetic? Is it just old-crabby-person talk? Maybe Christmas really IS for the kids--the ones who ask for toys and believe in Santa and wanna sing "Rudolph" all day long. For the adult me, it seems like I could pick any old day to give or get cool gifts--preferably a day right after payday--and I sure wouldn't have every damned radio station playing nothing but xmas songs on that day, that's for sure. Maybe I'm just too old or cynical to enjoy xmas.

4. the over-commercialization/Walmartization of Christmas--Four out of the six radio stations I listen to decided to play xmas music 24/7 this year, starting at Thanxgiving--this really chapped my ass. I don't mind the occasional Mel Torme's "The Christmas Song," or the Chipmunks' xmas song, or even the Carpenters' "Merry Christmas, Darling," as long as it's interspersed with normal programming. Instead, my ears are bombarded with "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" followed by some fake cowboy in a hat twanging his way through "Silent Night" followed by Celine Dion's over-the-top singing of -- well, anything she sings is over the top. Give me Adam Sandler's Hannukah Song followed by some classic rock, NOT one jeebus song after another with some hillbillies singing "The Twelve Days of Redneck Christmas" mixed in (I made that song up--but I'd be willing to take bets that there is something like it out there.) And xmas TV is no better, with constant ads showing adults giving each other cars or jewelry (in what universe!?) and cute kids getting sweatshop-labor-made crap from Walmart. Can't we just watch that "Law and Order" marathon in peace? Can't we go a day without hearing about doorbusters and Black Friday and xmas songs?

* * * *

I don't know. Maybe it's the winter blues, or the fact that I only had one friend in town this year for xmas, that made me write this post. But I know that each year, xmas gets a little less special for me.

Is the same true for you?

Monday, December 29, 2008

More laundromat fun

For the first time evah, I decided to give the extra-large washer a try at the laundromat. (I didn't go to Laundry World this time, though; I went to LAUNDRY. That's all the sign said: LAUNDRY. No photos--sorry.)

First, I amused myself by taking this photo:
That one's for you, Dr. Monkey!
Then I started loading a ton of white clothing and sheets and stuff into the thing. I really crammed it in there, probably three loads' worth for only $3.50. After I shut the vapor-lock and battened down the hatch and fastened the safety belts and everything else on this little Fort Knox-ian vault, I noticed this sign:
TWIST OFF ARMS!? Holy shit!

And for those of you in Old Mexico or La España:
You can imagine my hesitancy to open the door and take my laundry out.
Because amputation is amputacion, no matter what language you're speaking.

Holiday lights winners!

So DCup, SomeGuy, Liberality, Dean Wormer, Barbara Bruederlin, and relatively new commenter Snave guessed correctly that photo #2 was NOT holiday lights:
No one guessed what it really was, though Snave gave it a good try.

It's my dashboard lights, taken while I moved my phone side to side rapidly. While driving. Tee hee!

Randal gave the most creative answer, saying that photo #1 was a "flying Arc de Triomphe." That crazy Frenchie-lover.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday lights quiz!

Guess which one of these photos, taken as I sped through the neighborhood, is NOT actually of Christmas lights!

Good luck! I'll be offline until Friday. Until then, have a happy few days of whatever labeling you prefer!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Secret Santa 2009! Merry holiday, XUP!

I was Secret Santa for the Ex-Urban Pedestrian, whose blog I discovered a while back while looking through the blogroll of Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein. Here's what I got for XUP.

First, as XUP is from Canada, I thought I'd give her a little taste of the official footware of my home state:

Next, for those wild parties, here's a set of recycled magazine-page coasters:

Finally, I asked the Dalai Lama to send XUP and her native Canada some good vibes, and he was kind enough to say "Take off, hoser!" That Dalai Lama's such a kidder.
I hope you liked your presents, XUP, and I hope your holidays--however you celebrate them--are a ton o' fun!
Thanks to Dr. Zaius and his evil hench-wench Germaine Gregarious for coming up with the bloggy Secret Santa idea!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Adding insult to insult

First, I read that Obama has defended the choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration. Yeah, let's not be "disagreeable" just because we "disagree." By that logic, of course, we could ask Hitler to be up there on the steps with Obama--because even though Obama would (presumably, anyway) disagree with Hitler's ideas about race and heritage, hey--we wouldn't want to be disagreeable! or partisan! Oh no -- can't have that!

Then today, I read this item about how 66 of the countries in the United Nations supported a UN declaration decriminalizing homosexuality. The French put forth the "declaration" when they realized they didn't have the votes for a "resolution"--good for them.

Was the U.S. one of those 66, you ask? Why, of course not! President Chimpy would never support equal rights for all Amurkans, much less people all over the world! According to the Times article, "The United States refused to support the nonbinding measure, as did Russia, China, the Roman Catholic Church and members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference." It's so good to know we're voting with those progressive "human-rights-first!" outfits like Russia (which is as we speak returning to totalitarianism) and China. Oh, and we're on the same side at Pope Ratzy (who just loves teh gays!) and an Islamic group (those guys love... to stone us gays in the streets).

Yeah, we're really setting the standard for enlightened and tolerant social policy here: "opponents [of the declaration] criticized it as an attempt to legitimize pedophilia and other 'deplorable acts.''' Because all we gays are pedophiles and deviants! Hide your children!

Many people have blogged about how disappointed they are that Obama would support Warren's giving the invocation. When I read about it, however, I realized it was just another in the long line of disappointments and betrayals we gays have endured from democratic presidents. Back in the 1992 election, Bill Clinton wooed us with his promises of overturning the military ban on gays. What happened once he got into the White House? "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Thanks for the kick in the nuts, Bill!

Now, after gays supported Obama (even though many of us never believed he was as tolerant of us as others claimed) and helped get him elected, he throws this shit in our faces and tells us not to complain, to be agreeable.

Once again, thanks for the kick in the nuts, Mr. President.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

So NOW can we put them on trial?

Now that Bush and Cheney have admitted in several interviews that they lied and tortured, that they're not ashamed of having lied and tortured, and that if they had it to all over again they'd just lie and torture again--

NOW can we begin the impeachment proceedings?

NOW can we charge them with war crimes?

NOW can we have justice?

If not now, WHEN?

Monday, December 15, 2008

I wuz robbed! UPDATED with new pics!

I played host to an Iron Chef competition at my house Saturday night. Matty started this tradition last month, after he and our friend AnneMarie started trash-talking about who could make the better risotto, despite the fact that AM had never made a risotto! Matty ended up winning by a small margin after a 45-minute whirlwind of chopping, stirring, and plating. I didn’t get any pictures of that event, and for some reason the videos I took on my camera will not show on my computer. Hmph.

Niblet was a little freaked at having so many people in his house:

photo by Cari Bogulski
But he soon came out and charmed everyone with his cuteness!

This time around in the Iron Chef, we made soups:

Entries were judged on Presentation, Texture, and Taste using a scale of 1 (blech) to 5 (mouthgasm). Iron Chef: SOUP! featured five contestants.

Chef Anne found a recipe for corn chowder on the intertubes then added her own special touches to the recipe. Her garnish of fresh alfalfa sprouts, crumbled blue chips, and cubed avocado on top really wowed the judges in the Presentation category:

soup close-up photo by Cari Bogulski
Chef Gretchen, whom you may have met on the birding bloggy before, presented a seasonal dish: German Turkey Dumpling Soup, featuring a rich turkey-based broth and huge turkey-filled dumplings:

soup close-up photo by Cari Bogulski

Chef Stefan, our Cute Canadian, impressed everyone by bringing both a vegetarian and a chicken-stock-based version of his Spiced Butternut Soup; here he presents while McMatterson looks dramatic:
soup close-up photo by Cari Bogulski

Eventual winner Chef Mike, who helped me move all my stuff out of Kat’s house exactly two days after we’d met—now there’s a nice guy!—departed radically from the hot soup trend with his own version of Chilled Mango soup decorated with blueberry sauce, strawberry sauce, and fresh blueberries:
soup close-up photo by Cari Bogulski
The amazing things about Mike's victory are that (a) his idea of cuisine is Hot Pockets, so he claims he's not much of a cook, and (b) he developed his own recipe based on the memory of a dish he had once on an Alaskan cruise a few years ago! The champ presents: Note McMatterson's persnicketty little face, as well as Gretchen's sweet dog Domino.

Here's me with my back to the camera, drinking heavily after my Mexican Heritage Bean soup came in last:
soup close-up photo by Cari Bogulski
Here are our celebrity judges: from left: Jeff, veteran judge of both Iron Chef events; AnneMarie, whose mushroom risotto won my heart in the first IC; Cari, a newcomer with a discriminating palate AND a love of birding which makes her A-OK in my book; an intimidated Chef Anne walking back into the audience from presenting her soup; and Dr. Matty McMatterson, risotto champion and all-around foodie snob--not to mention the newest professor at Sonoma State University!
Here, they're explaining how they had to make the toughest decision of their lives that night:

photo by Hans Mike "Mr. Soup" Stapperfend

Dreamy statistician Laurie tabulated the judges' votes:She also made a wonderful Organic Vegetable Soup but declined to compete, offering her dish as a complement to the party atmosphere. Yum! Most of the veggies in it came from her garden.

The winner and reigning Mr. Soup: Mike!
photo by Carie Bogulski

Given the amount of booze consumed, it was almost inevitable that the night would deteriorate. Here's Judge Jeff being appalled at Judge AnneMarie's tasting some of the blueberry sauce Mike used on his Chilled Mango Soup:
photo by Cari Bogulski
And don't you believe it when she claims I forced her to do this.
The next Iron Chef event will feature Casserole/Baked Dish recipes, keeping in line with the “it’s really cold, so let’s make comfort food!” theme so far. The event will be held in mid-January at Chez McMatterson, should you choose to attend or even compete!

Here's another shot of Domino, who was disappointed to find out she was ineligible (no thumbs, illiterate) to judge the soups:
Poor Nom!

What did you do this weekend?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bathroom humor

Oh Larry, if only you'd been in a bathroom with one of these latches, you wouldn't be in this awful fix! (Spotted not only at the university but at the bowling alley!)

Speaking of bathrooms, look at what I walked into this morning at work:

Meet Henry the Hand, invented back in the 1990s by some anthopomorphizing sociopath, advising me on how to wash my mitts which, sadly, have no names. (or faces, t-shirts, shorts, or red and white "shoes")

Henry's website is rather --er--ENERGETIC!:

Welcome to the MOST COMPREHENSIVE Primary Infection
Prevention Program in the world for respiratory and
gastro-intestinal diseases! If WE ALL comply with the 4
Principles of Hand Awareness there will NOT be a
Powerful and True!! Together WE CAN make a difference!

Henry even tries to fire us up with a little competition!
Forget the typo for a second, and ponder the possibilities of a "jingle/rap/song" about washing one's hands.

That, as they say, is your moment of Zen.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

So let me get this straight...

One minute, Gov. Jeff Blagojevich is standing with the Republic Door and Window employees, looking like a champion of the labor movement and fighter of big-bailout-bank Bank of America.

Next minute, he's getting busted by Patrick Fitzgerald for pretty much any crazy political corruption charge you can think of.

Boy, the foot's on the other hand now, eh?

Monday, December 08, 2008

I hated the itching, but I didn't mind the swelling

The coughing and laryngitis were my first clues that it was that time of year again--time for another Splotchy story virus outbreak. I guess that booster shot I got was worthless.

Here are Splotch's rules:
Here's what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don't know how realistic it is, but that's what I'm aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it's okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that's five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.

So here's the thread that Splotchy coughed up, which was then caught via a germ-covered doorknob by Freida Bee, who then sneezed it onto me:
The Apple
The bus was more crowded than usual. It was bitterly cold outside, and I hadn't prepared for it. I noticed that a fair number of the riders were dressed curiously. As I glanced around, I stretched my feet and kicked up against a large, heavy cardboard box laying under the seat in front of me. (Splotchy)
I couldn't believe my eyes. Surrepticiously, I tried to establish, without giving it away, if anyone else had seen what I had. For ten years I had been looking for that box. What looked like an ordinary cardboard box to most contained something most precious. Only by the small golden "P" was I able to identify what I was looking at. (Freida Bee)
How the box got here, or how I happened to be on this bus with it now--these questions were immaterial. I just had to get that box. The bus slowed to a stop, so I steadied myself. Just as I was about to make a grab for the box, however, it moved. Someone else was picking it up to take it away! I had to stop her!
- - - - -
Never one to be stingy with my things, I'd like to share this viral strain with the following lucky hosts:
Jess Wundrun
Bubs at the Sprawling Ramshackle Compound
getKRISTIlove at Two Minutes in the Box
Dr Zaius at Zaius Nation

Sniffle cough-cough snort,

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Scenes from a laundromat: a photo essay

The end.

Mixed emotions -- and stomach contents

You know how sometimes when you go out with friends, and you're all drinking your heads off, and having a great time -- there's that moment. That moment when, after feeling like you're so fucking happy, having such an awesome time, and you're so happy to be alive -- that moment when right after feeling so wonderful, you realize it: you're about to hurl. You've just sipped one cosmo too many, and you're gonna be sick. Bad things are about to happen, and you're powerless to stop them because you had one drink too many. Sometimes it's even just one sip too many.

Whatever the case, in that terrible moment, you know you're about to see all those drinks -- and god only knows what else, maybe your liver? -- come roaring back out of your belly and onto the ground or the seat of the taxicab or someplace.

You know that moment.

That's how I felt as I watched the beautiful and brilliant Rachel Maddow discussing Bush's efforts to rewrite his fucked-up legacy into something like that of an FDR -- liberator of peoples, gosh-darn nice guy who talks about a "do-over" on Iraq, and so forth.

There's that one shining moment in which you see the sweet dykey loveliness of Rachel, and all is right with the world because you know she's about to say something smart and interesting and cool.

But then it happens -- that moment. The name "BUSH" is mentioned, and in that moment you know you're gonna vomit all over yourself, your friends, and anyone and anything that's in range.

Watch the video. You'll know what I mean.

Monday, December 01, 2008

What have you done (for me) lately?

I'm totally ignoring politics today. Everyone's already written about the newest Obama picks, and I really have no opinion on them. I think I'm politicked out, honestly.

Instead, I'm doing a list: Things I've done will be boldfaced (which is a mantra all its own)
1. Started my own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band

4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo--back when I played in the band.

11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
3. Watched lightening at sea
14. Taught myself an art from scratch--I taught myself to play guitar, bass, and piano.
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill--this is the reason for sick days, isn't it? When you're sick of work?
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (only partials)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling --I was terrified by live fish swimming around me.
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business--don't remind me.
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma --tried to, but didn't weigh enough at the time. Also anemic.
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check --"what is your definition of 'a,' Your Honor?"
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial --a real thrill.
71. Eaten Caviar --BLECH!
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job --for being gay--I mean, for "not being a team player."
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone --ribs. Ouch.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury --three, to be exact.
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person --Living in Texas and NOT seeing the Alamo is a mortal sin.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee --and found out I'm allergic.
100. Ridden an elephant --my thighs hurt just remembering it.

This fascinating list brought to me by Freida Bee, who's done a lot.

Probably the most noticeable thing is that I haven't been to Europe; I've never been a big traveler, but I have gone out west (hence the Grand Canyon thing).