Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Word of Advice to the Cute Clerk at Barnes & Noble

First off, snaps on the outfit. It's cute, flattering, and I might consider trading a pinkie toe to be a tan, elegant-looking size four with great taste in clothes (ok, not really). may want to reevaluate your decision to wear a black thong under that basically-transparent floaty white peasant skirt.

I Didn't Know He Was Serious

I finally got around to checking out Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds. I've heard / read them mentioned enough in the last few months to pique my curiosity, and the public library had a few of their CDs. I took Murder Ballads to work today (my boss was out) and got through two or three songs before I decided to check the lyrics sheet. Sure enough, every damn song on the CD is about murder (except for the few that are just about death, with non-specified causes). Some are sort of rollicking and fun in a fucked-up way (like "Stagger Lee") and some are sort of enjoyably melancholic ("Henry Lee" apparent relation to Mr. Stagger Lee). Some are creepy, like "The Kindness of Strangers," which features a woman quietly crying in the background. And some are just plain disturbing.

I guess I was warned. I mean, the title of the CD is Murder Ballads. But I didn't realize he really meant it.

I'm Not a Vegan, But Yum:

Vegan Lunch Box

Goodbye, Old Friend

Until last Thursday, this was my phone:

Oh, how I loved my tiny yellow phone. It was very me, and I had carefully entered all bazillion phone numbers I could never remember into it, and downloaded all the games I wanted, and found the perfect Led Zeppelin ringtone. I had all the settings adjusted properly. Then, my phone started dropping calls. I let it go for a few weeks, but then one day I received five phone calls and couldn't answer a single one. I vented to MB about it, and the next thing I know, we're at the Cingular store looking for anything that's not a flip phone and doesn't cost more than $100 (because, seriously, when I drop it and it bounces under my car in the parking lot, I don't want to think about that much money skidding across the asphalt as I crawl under there to retrieve it).

We picked out the ONLY non-flip, non-mp3-playing / internet-eager / camera / hookah & coffee maker phone they had. MB calls it a cellphone for idiots since it's bare bones with no bells or whistles or Bluetooth bits (Blueteeth?). It does not come in yellow. My Led Zeppelin ringtone, lovingly selected and never-tired-of, is no longer available. I weep, yellow phone. I weep for thee.

In Fact...

We went on quite a spending spree last Thursday. It was rather unnerving. Usually MB is the careful one who saves as much as possible and keeps TWO budget spreadsheets and balances the checkbook to the penny. I'm the one who hasn't balanced a checkbook since, oh, 2001, who falls victim to the Target Vortex every time, and who says things like "A hoodie that says GEEK across the front? That is SO WORTH $25!"

However, on Thursday, I was the one fretting and MB was the one taking us not only to get new phones, but to get a brand spanking new tent. Apparently he was harboring a grudge against the tent we already owned because it leaked (a lot) during the Noahtian Deluge (is that even a word? Hell, it is now!) of 2006 that he experienced in Missouri while I was kayaking on the St. Francis.

So we laid down almost $300 for these spiff-dandy new digs (with accessories):

Unfortunately for me (but fortunately for our bank account), the sticker shock seemed to snap MB out of his temporary lapse. I should've acted more quickly and secured a few more bookcases, or at least some of those modular shoe shelf things for behind the couch, because good Lord:

I still lament my decision to be responsible and forego the hoodie.

Reading: Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

Playing: Show Your Bones by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (which isn't even about skeletons. Psshht!)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Don't drink the Kool-Aid!

Can anyone tell me why these things

have apparently set up a migration route across our patio and (somehow) through the sliding glass door, only to die by the dozens on our living room carpet?

It's not that I find it creepy...who could be creeped out by a roly-poly?

See, roly-poly:

It's more that I'm completely and utterly mystified.

I've known for awhile now that the roly-polies of my childhood were actually called something else, either pillbugs or sowbugs. Turns out they're probably pillbugs, though the two are very similar. Pillbugs are not bugs at all, but isopods, which are actually terrestrial crustaceans. (Who knew?) They are sometimes also called woodlice, and the common pillbug enjoys the official nomenclature Armadillidium vulgare.

Because, clearly:

Thanks to Google, I now know a lot about roly-polies. I know that they breathe through gills known as pseudotrachea, and therefore prefer moist environments. I know that if you want to get rid of them, you need to remove the mulch from flowerbeds. (Of course, I also know that as soon as I remove the mulch from my flowerbeds, the yard-care men will wage holy war on my no thanks. Maybe if I didn't live in a place where trimming the verge is modeled after slash-and-burn agriculture, I'd think about it.) I know that roly-polies are quite beneficial to the soil, as they feed on and break down decaying organic matter.

But I still don't know why they've decided to go lemming in my apartment. Is it a misguided mass migration? Is it a crustacean version of the mythical elephant graveyard? Is it a mass suicide, an isopod Jonestown (I did find one tiny rolled-up corpse on top of the ant trap)? Do they simply like the d├ęcor?

If I set up tiny little detour signs, do you think they'll stop?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Ten Reasons Why My Dad Rocks

One day late, but it's going to count for Father's Day...because I say so.

1. Besides being a good dad, he's a good man and a good person. He has worked at the same job since before I was born to support his family, even though it's not glamorous. He never hits, he never yells, he barely ever swears. He doesn't drink to excess, smoke, gamble, or see other women. He helps people. I cannot count the number of times people have said things to me along the lines of "Your dad is the best guy! He's always willing to help out!"

2. He really appreciates the simple things in the world. I never feel embarrassed to tell him about being geeked out about stuff like seeing a lizard in my yard or going on a moonlight canoe paddle, because he totally gets it. He'll come right back and say, "I know! Sometimes I'm driving along and I see something like a horse rolling on his back out in the field and I think, 'Thank you, God, for letting me have this moment.' "

3. I've never thought of myself as a daddy's girl in a princessy, prissy way, but I definitely am in the will-always-be-fond-of-him way. When I got married, I thought about keeping my maiden name as my middle name, but I didn't because I just couldn't stand the thought of dropping my given middle name. My main childhood nickname from my dad was my first name followed by an abbreviated version of my middle name. The thought of him never "officially" being able to call me that again made me tear up, so I quickly abandoned that plan. FirstName MiddleName MaidenName MarriedName was a bit ungainly, so I dropped my maiden name and hung onto my middle name. All because of happy memories of my dad.

4. Even though he never ceased to be scandalized by the cost of textbooks, he was very supportive of me while I was in college. He never acted like I was wasting my time. Any time I needed something--from a rock hammer to a mineral guide to a ride home from campus--he was there for me.

5. He cannot tell jokes. He usually gets halfway through and forgets the punchline and has to backtrack. It's adorable.

6. For my sixteenth birthday, he wrote me this amazing, sweet letter about how proud he was of me and how special our relationship was to him.

7. If I had to make a top five list of memories from my wedding, this would be one of them: looking up from talking to someone to see all of my friends holding hands and dancing in a giant circle to "Brown-Eyed Girl," with my dad as the ringleader. The joy I felt in that moment was almost overwhelming.

8. This would be another: for our father-daughter dance, I had my uncle play and sing "Catch a Falling Star." When I told Dad that I picked it because it was the first song I can remember him teaching me to play on the piano, his eyes filled up with tears. I've never seen my dad cry. Now every time I go to a wedding and see the father-daughter dance, I almost lose it and start bawling.

9. Dad and I haven't always been great at expressing our feelings for each other. My mom always said, "I love you" when she'd tuck us in at night or whenever we'd leave to go somewhere. I don't know if Dad just didn't grow up saying it or what. He'd say, "I love my girls" in general about me and my sister and my mom, but we didn't really say "I love you" to each other. When I was about thirteen or fourteen, I started to worry that my dad wouldn't know that I loved him, really, if I didn't say it. I don't know why it was so hard, but it took me weeks to get up enough courage to say it out loud.

My room was in the basement of the house, and my dad came home from work pretty late in the evening. Usually, we'd be the last two awake, and he'd be sitting in the living room watching TV as I went past and down the basement stairs. The night I finally had the guts to say it, I waited until I was practically already down the first few steps, probably with the door actually swinging shut behind me before I called out, "Good night, Dad. I love you!" I will never forget the expression on his face as he looked up at me in amazement and said, "I love you, too." We're not shy about that anymore.

10. I know that in his eyes, my sister and I will always be the smartest, prettiest, most awesome daughters in the whole wide world. He is the greatest dad, and I am so lucky to be his kid.

Even though you are as internet impaired as Mom and will therefore also probably never read this...I love you, Dad! Happy Father's Day, one day late!

Reading: Sourcery by Terry Pratchett, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Playing: Stadium Arcadium by the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Thursday, June 15, 2006

How embarrassing

Apparently I live in one of the ten least-educated states in the country. MB's state of origin is on the list, too.


"We have four college degrees between the two of us," I feel like shrieking. "Three of those are bachelor's degrees. THREE!" seems Encarta / MSN is not listening.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Jack Factor

MB has a theory that people named Jack are inherently badass. Clearly, there are a few bad apples in every bushel, so I'm sure there are Jacks out there that are wimpy, obnoxious, or just plain assholes. However, there is some promising evidence indicating that his theory might be true:

Jack Burton: Almost disqualified due to his mullet (oh, the pain!), but reinstated as a show of good faith since Kurt Russell also played Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. I wonder if Doc Holliday's given name was Jack...

Jack Skellington: He IS the Pumpkin King!

Dr. Jack Shepherd: And a Jack shall lead them...or at least have a lot more sense than most of them.

Jack Ryan: but only when played by Harrison Ford. Sorry, Ben Affleck.

Jack Bauer: No explanation needed.

"Captain Jack Sparrow, if you please."

Now it seems that a new Jack has stepped up to protect the reputation of Jacks everywhere:

"Jack, a 15-pound orange-and-white cat, sits under a treed black bear in a backyard in West Milford, N.J., Sunday, June 4, 2006. When the bear climbed down, the cat chased it up another nearby tree. Neighbor Suzanne Giovanetti thought Jack was simply looking up at the bear, but soon realized the much larger animal was afraid of the hissing cat. The cat's owners called it away and the bear ran off. (AP Photo/Suzanne Giovanetti)"

AP story

New Jersey Star-Ledger

A quote from the neighbor who took the photograph: "Sometimes, I fear him," Giovanetti said, half-joking. "Now, I think I fear him more."

Reading: Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Playing: Reckoning by the Grateful Dead

Thursday, June 08, 2006

P.S. The Cat Came Back

I was scrolling through the non-infinite-cat content of the Infinite Cat Project website when I noticed that the site offers this cartoon:

A friend of mine had a VHS copy of this cartoon in high school, and I can still fondly recall watching it and rewinding it about seven times to hear the cat's first goofy "MEW!"

You can see it by going to the Infinite Cat Project page, or by going here.


I decided on Tuesday night that I'm definitely going to try to go on another kayaking trip over 4th of July weekend. This morning I had a kayaking dream, but there were no low-head dams involved...only play-surfing on GIANT rolling waves that had no business being in a river. But I'm not going to argue the logic, because it was a really fun dream.

Monday, June 05, 2006

To celebrate my re-discovery of, today's theme is hateful cats.

"The name's Radar, human. And YOUR ASS is on it!"

Educational Wikipedia article about cats.

P.I.G. gets some chlorophyll after dining on your soul.

stuff + cats = awesome

"EHHH hehehehehe... AHHHH hahahaha... they were RIGHT about your inadequacy, I see!"

That whole bonsai kitten thing was a joke, people!

A tisket, a tasket, a slow painful death in a basket.

Magic hopes you and your mincy, back-piercing bird enjoy this special you burn in hell.

Why Cats Paint

At times, Alex can be tolerant of your stupidity. This is not one of those times.

The Infinite Cat Project

Fosco shows his hate through skillful ear-origami.

If you haven't yet read my Cat Hilarity link, now is the time.

And, for MB:

Max rolls a D20 and look at this... you have NO saving roll.

Reading: Widdershins by Charles de Lint, Mort by Terry Pratchett, Found II by Davy Rothbart

Playing: Drunken Lullabies by Flogging Molly

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Earlier tonight, the cat was acting way too interested in the hall closet. I could tell that he definitely believed that there was a bug in there somewhere. The door was open, and he was trying to look around in the crates and baskets of assorted bath and body products. Every once in awhile, he would cry pitifully and I'd go over and move a basket out of the way for him. I poked around a little, but I didn't see anything, so I figured he'd spotted a house spider or something. We have a pretty healthy resident population of teeny tiny spiders, and I usually let them go about their business. I figure they'll eat any peskier bugs that come along, plus they're supposed to be good luck...or at least it's bad luck to kill them. Anyway, the cat sat and stared and sniffed around and occasionally meowed pitifully for a good 15-20 minutes, and then stopped. I figured he'd wandered off, but when I went to close the closet door, I noticed him sitting in the living room floor with a very satisfied look on his face. I went closer, and that's when I noticed the dismembered cave cricket on the floor near his paws.

Now, as you can tell from just about any post on this blog, I'm pretty kumbaya, yay-nature most of the time. There are, however, a few things in the natural world that squick me the hell out. Ticks, for example. Or walking through spiderwebs. But the #1 most squickalicious, most disgusting thing out there, to me, is the cave cricket. First of all, they're just nasty looking. I couldn't even post a picture of one in this entry, because looking at it on the page that I linked was making me gag a little. I'm not much of a gagger, so this is some pretty serious cricket hateration. Secondly, I hate the way they hop around all erratically. You never know where they're going to land next. *shudder* Third, I have a long-standing grudge against them from the years I spent in my bedroom in my parents' basement, where cave crickets were distressingly regular interlopers into my late-night peaceful reading time. Nothing to give you an all-night case of the creepy-crawlies like looking up from your book to see a giant, disgusting cave cricket skoinking across the quilt toward you as you sit innocently in bed minding your own business. Or laying your head down on your desk to rest your eyes for a moment, only to have one drop from the sky and land six inches in front of your face. GAH. My hair is standing on end just from thinking about this.

So, it is with only a smidgen of guilt that I report the following:  upon discovery of the cat's actions, I thanked him. Out loud. And then I gave him some treats. I'm sort of embarrassed about it. I mean, it's not exactly cool to revel in the death of any creature. But THANK GOODNESS he was the one investigating the closet instead of, say, me while innocently in search of a Lush bath bomb or something. If anyone would be willing to come over and dispose of the remains, I'd be grateful. Right now I'm pretending they don't exist and very carefully NOT LOOKING over there.

Happy Birthday to my dad

Later today, my dad is going to hike up the as-yet-unfinished Crazy Horse Memorial near Mount Rushmore. He's been wanting to do it for years. I hope the popularity of the event doesn't disappoint him. I don't think it will. From South Dakota, he'll be heading to Colorado for two weeks of hiking / backpacking and camping. I hope the trip is everything he hopes for and more. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

There shined a shiny demon!

It's probably a good thing no one told me that marriage would be hanging out with your best-est of best friends, singing along to Tenacious D's "Tribute" in the car, developing an extensive repertoire of movie quotes and dumb-but-hilarious in-jokes, and sometimes laughing at each other until tears run down your face. If they had, I probably would've done a lot more pining back when I was single.

Of course, it's probably also a good thing that no one ever told me I would one day have the following discussion with my beloved:

MB: Holy shit! Look at my toenails!

VBG: *hopes she misheard*

MB: Look at them!

VBG: *tries not to look*

MB: *presents foot* Look! They're so long!


MB: No, it's cool! *reverently inspects grody toenails*

VBG: EWAH!! I can't believe you're showing me your toenails!

MB: They're so long! And pointy!

VBG: *throws up a little* Go cut them!

MB: No...*eyes glaze over slightly* They're so cool...

Cuz they're fast!

Please visit the painfully hilarious bad baby names section of Not Without My Handbag.

The resemblance, it is uncanny...

For photos of animals that don't resemble my resident evil mastermind adorable loving pet, go here.

If nothing else, look because there is an aardvark. Named Paatsy. I couldn't make this shit up if I tried.

Make sure you scroll down, in order to enjoy the full array of animal slide shows.

Reading: Widdershins by Charles de Lint, Mort by Terry Pratchett

Playing: a mellow mix CD at home & Flogging Molly at work