Saturday, April 30, 2005

We-e-e-e-e're ba-a-a-a-ack (REVISED)

Something disconcerting has been percolating along the fashion front over the last few months. "Preppy" seems to be making a comeback. The signposts are there for the glancing...Brooks Brothers is--after nearly 20 years in the wilderness--is making a profit again. Lily Pulitzer gets broad acceptance, and pink and green are scrofulous on the landscape. Vitals Magazine even has a feature article on The New Preppy. Check

Posted by Joke at 6:03 PM 0 comments

Friday, April 29, 2005

Wacky test fun

Yes, I'm bored.

THE Religious Right
You scored 100% Religious Right!

You are a member of the Religious Right. If this comes as a shock to you, please seek professional assistance. You may wish to consider blaspheming or not taking every possible deduction on your income tax return as a therapy.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:
You scored higher than 0% on Religious Right

Posted by Joke at 1:38 PM 0 comments

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Further riffing on what I stole--shamelessly--from Badger

So it got me thinking...because earlier this year, around New Year's, our pal C. in San Francisco emailed me a list of VERY cool music, which sent me on a listening binge that lasted until Epiphany. So, here is a list (in order of how they pop into my head) of music artists whom I like that I am sure nobody else likes and/or has ever heard of. Yes, I mangled that sentence, I know. Bugger off.

  • Agent Orange
  • Adrian Belew
  • Wall of Voodoo
  • Violent Femmes
  • Josie Cotton
  • The Selecter
  • Madness
  • Haircut 100
  • Talk Talk
  • XTC
  • They Might Be Giants
  • MIA
  • Rockpile
  • Nick Lowe & His Cowboy Outfit
  • The Rockats
  • The Reverend Horton Heat
  • New Order
  • Erasure
  • Camouflage
  • When In Rome
  • Martin Briley
  • Ebn Ozn
  • Donald Fagen
  • Bow Wow Wow
  • Bananarama
  • Kaja Goo Goo
  • The Smiths
  • Bronski Beat
  • Flock of Seagulls
  • 7 Seconds
  • X
  • EMF
  • Divinyls
  • English Beat
  • The Cure
  • The Church
  • The Call
  • The Alarm
  • Dead or Alive
  • Smithereens
  • Gin Blossoms
  • Yaz
  • Devo
  • The Babies
  • ABC

More later.


Posted by Joke at 2:04 PM 8 comments

Stolen--shamelessly--from Badger

Your Taste in Music:

80's Alternative: High Influence
80's Pop: High Influence
80's Rock: Medium Influence
Classic Rock: Medium Influence
90's Pop: Low Influence
Adult Alternative: Low Influence
Hair Bands: Low Influence
Progressive Rock: Low Influence
Punk: Low Influence
Ska: Low Influence

I must say I found this test to be somewhat, although not fatally, flawed. The entries for British ska bands, f'rinstance, was almost nonexistent. Ditto for early punk stuff. (What? No Agent Orange? No The Selecter?)

Posted by Joke at 1:58 PM 0 comments

How To Chair A Gala (by someone who's never done it)

Having gone on a whirlwind tour of gala events, and having spoken with lots of people on the subject and being married to someone who recently developed the unfortunate habit of chairing same...I have some suggestions on the matter. As is my wont, this will all be stream-of-consciousness-like, so learn to cope and adjust.

Silent Auctions
This is an area where almost all galas fall apart, and where all galas fall apart to some degree. Usually you will see some item with a blank bidding sheet attached, and a little tag reading along the lines of:

"John Smith Widget. Valued at $1000, bidding starts at $500. Donated by The Widget & Gizmo Emporium."

Later that evening you will see frantic gala organizers futzing with the tag, dropping the opening bid, wringing well-manicured and bejeweled hands and wondering Where It All Went Wrong. Well, I'm-a-tell you where:

  1. You are assuming the potential bidders will "buy" the valuation and therefore consider this opening bid a bargain, and will append their name to bidding sheet. What you are not counting on are these folks being savvy shoppers who just saw the very same widget littering eBay, or for about $100.
  2. You are further assuming the goodness of the cause will motivate people to bid. The goodness of the cause makes people who have bid--possibly (ideally!) considerably more for the item than its open market value--to rationalize their bidding, but nothing more.
  3. Value aside, what moves people to REALLY take notice of an auction is how unique or unusual it least to them. You may think a John Smith widget is hot stuff, but to people who have a full time staff to handle widgeting, or who will--at the very least-- already have a perfectly serviceable widget, it's a yawner.
  4. The display is static. Maybe the widget is inside a lucite case, or maybe it's in the box. Even if it is somewhere where people can grab and grope and feel, they can't really take it out for a test widgeting, can they?

How should a silent auction be structured?

  1. The price should start at $1. The goal, like the goal of any (intelligent) seller on eBay is to create a frenzied bidding war. A properly structured auction of an item, will, at some point, cause the leading bidders to forget the item's open market value and continue bidding the item up just to win, i.e., "to make sure THIS idiot doesn't take it!" You will note the most frenzied bidding wars are for items with no reserve and which appeal primarily to men.
  2. Have detailed brochures or, ideally, a video. We are a visual culture and we respond "like Pablo's* dog" to a 30 second video loop of people widgeting happily.
  3. Have silent auction items as widely disseminated as possible. A lot of people tend to avoid the silent auction area to avoid the temptation, but this is made more difficult if, everywhere they go they see something biddable.

Live Auctions

The same rules as for silent auctions, mostly, apply here as well. The one which REALLY needs emphasis is the one regarding price. You cannot assume the bidding crowd will accept the valuation at face value and the bidding must start low. Frankly, it's pretty embarrassing all-around when something can't even manage an opening bid. AMHIK.


Get a good one, if possible. Local celebrities usually volunteer like crazy for this, just go and ask. Just make sure their personality jibes with the tone of the gala in question.

Presentations (i.e. "who we are or what we do")

Avoid. At very, very best this is really long and boring and at worst (say, if this is for a charity that teaches the lepers how to sing) it's impressively depressing. AVOID. AVOID. People already know why they are attending and already know where to go (or know where to ask) should they want to volunteer. AVOID.


  1. Avoid anything that cannot tolerate sitting around under a warming lamp. Consider any denials of the use of warming lamps, trays or other devices of warmage as outright fabrications.
  2. Hors d'ouvres shouldn't be too drippy, too goopy, too saucy. They should be able to be consumed in a maximum of two clean bites. People will not be so keen on bidding for things when they consider how they got garlic butter all along the front of their gigabuck attire.
  3. No chicken. Chicken will be kept warm and it will inexorably overcook and therefore will invariably arrive at the table in a perfectly moisture-free state. If people wanted that experience, they'd bite into their shoe or eat a bowl of desiccant. Beef, although more expensive, is far more tolerant of variations in doneness and far more edible along a broad spectrum of peak internal temperatures. Chicken ain't.
  4. The salad should be a leaf-free experience, which is neater to eat and will not wilt from sitting in a puddle of vinaigrette.
  5. Avoid "Chocolate Sensory Overload" desserts. It's overdone and you simply cannot top whatever has been done before, unless you encase people's heads in a block of Valrhona and dare them to chew their way out. That doesn't mean chocolate is out, mind you, just that those kinds of desserts are trite and you ought tread carefully.
  6. Truffles, petit-fours, et al. oughtn't be brought to the table on a plate. Most will stay uneaten. You may either have a staff member walking around with one of those tiered plate things or you may put, say, four in a teeny little thank-you box.

Goody bags

Gotta have them. Lots of little things is better than a few big things, all else being equal. Coupons from whatever businesses sponsored the event are a nice touch and give excellent publicity to the sponsors. Cheap publicity, too, since most people will never actually redeem the coupon. Little magnets, keychains, golf balls/tees, pens...all that goes far.


I'm a sucker for black tie events, but I realize I'm aberrant that way. Poppy's pal FiddleDD, suggested--and she's quite right--that the ideal sort of attire is "creative black tie," Miss Manners be damned. Black tie implies, not only the event is a Serious Big Deal Thing, but also (paradoxically!) that one is likely to get a good value for one's ticket price. Making it "creative" relieves people of the pressure of going all-out to look spiffy, and injects great good humor into the event.


Print some. People like tickets and putting them in scrapbooks and photo albums and stuff.


Have, wherever possible, two or more photographers. One to take pix of the VIP types (both the people important to the event as well as people whose smiling mugs will guarantee media--news & society--coverage) and another to mill around and take assorted candid pictures of myriad attendees. The pictures will invariably be fun, and it is an additional source of (cheap!) revenue. If the gala is to benefit some arts organization, DVDs of the performance/exhibit and the gala are another source of cheap revenue.


These are usually filled with more deadwood than in all the deciduous forests of the continent. Be ruthless with the useless. These people are just there to get their names on the program. Print the program LAST, and excise the layabouts.



  • Your mission statement (or the abbreviated version thereof)
  • Honored guests, if any
  • Gala committee, listing the chairman at the top or bottom of the list
  • Sponsors & sponsorship levels. If the levels have pretty obvious names (Diamond, platinum, etc.) you needn't append the dollar levels required to achieve a given level. If the names are something like "Sofa Level", "Loveseat Level", "Ottoman Level", etc., then you may want to specify how much moolah is involved.
  • Performers and/or artists
  • The organization's staff
  • A thank you to all attendees and a discreet "To find out more about..."


  • A list of every single ticket buyer. The idea is to exalt sponsors and if everyone is exalted, nobody is.
  • A complete history of the organization. I'm not keen on even a short history, myself, but you do what you want.


  • If you can get away with a "Playbill" sort of program, you may be able to sell ad space.

Random suggestions

If you have a lot of opportunities for sponsorship (donating items to the silent auction, coupons for the goody bags, supplying some food or wine, buying ad space in the program if that's appropriate, making a direct financial contribution, etc.) try to bundle them together in a package. Generally, this helps companies and individuals become (or feel they have become) more invested in--and wedded to--your organization.

If you can find a "funky" jeweler, bring him (or her) to sell bits and baubles (however loosely)related to your organization/event and take a cut. Don't ask me why, but people go nuts for this.

Put a number underneath the centerpiece and match that number to a ticket number or the number of a goody bag. The most unseemly things happen when the time comes to dispose of the centerpieces.

Raffles are a good idea, but make sure you have at least 3 prizes. The cheapest prize should be about 1.5x-2x the cost of a ticket. This way you could raffle off a trip for 2 people to France, a magnum of Bordeaux, and some Baccarat trinket. Not a bad idea is also having a door prize. One of my favorite ones was a Chinatown-themed event where the door prize was hidden in a fortune cookie.

Themes are good, but make sure you have theming. It's pointless to call your gala "A Night In Pompeii!" if you make no reference to it. You needn't have the bartenders dressed in togas, but, for example, the goody bags should have something Roman-ish or volcano-y to get the idea.

Lastly, keep a journal of things to pass on to the NEXT person to chair the event.


* A slight homage to a Andrew "Dice" Clay, from when he worked clean.

Posted by Joke at 8:19 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

What do you do?

Pity my beloved wife. A lot of her pals will come up to her and gush how lucky she is to have married a guy who does all the cooking, who will take the offspring whenever she disappears into the underbrush of gala chairpersonship, who does not shrug--making soft, preoccupied micro-grunting sounds all the while--while she ponders new curtains or coffee tables. She has been hailed by her pals as some sort of minor deity for having picked a guy who likes to shop, likes clothes, offers sage opinions on what is flattering and unflattering; a guy who is not fixated on NASCAR* or football.

She just rolls her eyes and snorts a derisive laugh. She doesn't actually say this, but she is almost certainly thinking "Fuck you. YOU take him if this kind of husband is so bloody wonderful."

The truth of the matter, dear friends, is that there is a dark underbelly to this arrangement. If one is married to a guy who just approves, quite absentmindedly, any decorative item you wish to place in your home then it doesn't matter what his tastes are. The same applies to your choices in clothing. Heaven help you if the guy in question is clever and mouthy. You could very well spend your entire marriage hearing things like:

"It looks like someone shot and skinned a love seat to make that jacket."
"Why would someone make furniture in Braille?"
"If pimps had debutante balls, this would be their first choice."
"Those shoes look like the something from the Brazilian road company of Lysistrata."

Of course, the matter is moot if everyone's tastes are in synchrony. The overlap is great and chasms are but mere cracks on the sidewalk along the road of wedded bliss. The fact of the matter (and the reason you've read this far down) is my wife and I manage to check off all of these items on the list. What would you do, kind reader, if you had married some smartass who loved Bauhaus, while your heart held a soft spot for Rococo? You'd go mad, is what you'd do.

These differences are revealed to their fullest whenever we go furniture shopping. Example: We are still using our "starter" dining room set and, after 12 years, it's not only looking dated and a bit tired and small, but it is also out of sync with the architecture of our residence, "Fallback House"**. Now, this house's architecture is a tropicalized (better yet, tropically bastardized) Arts 'n' Crafts and, while this is nowhere near my fave style, I am sensitive both to what is period-appropriate and also to what architecture appropriate. My wife apparently defaults to what would be, in her opinion, "pretty." I haven't gotten a straight answer on the matter yet, but I suspect "pretty" is synonymous with things riddled with scrolls, foliations, gadroon borders, fluting, crenellations and, if one is lucky, cherubs and/or seraphs...ideally, all gilded***.

So you can imagine how things go when we go looking for something. Let's stick with the example of the dining room. First we have to discard all the features we cannot stand:
  • Non-upholstered chairs (no rush seats, no seats with tied-on cushions, etc.)
  • Too small--our current table seats six WITH ALL THE LEAVES IN PLACE--or too large (seating 8 is ideal)
  • Nothing distressed (call me haute bourgeouis; all the construction workers do it anyway so I'm used to it)
  • Nothing that cannot be adjusted for size
  • No pedestal tables
  • Nothing without a server and china cabinet

This list, naturally, serves as a pretty severe winnowing fan. So, for example, when we were at the Crate & Barrel flagship in Chicago, off I went one way and she another and I came back with things like this table/chair combo and matching buffet whereas she was thinking more along the lines of this and this. The same happens at Room & Board, Pottery Barn, Bombay Company (etc.) as well as all the furniture emporia exclusive to Miami. Not much middle ground, huh?


* Although LeMans is another matter.

** The name emerged when the deal for the house I really wanted fell through and this was our 2nd choice.

*** It is my contention those who wish to fashion themselves a dwelling like Versailles, wind up with a place like Graceland.

Posted by Joke at 7:59 AM 5 comments

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Windy City Wackiness

As I write, gentle reader, I am almost horizontal on the 30something-th floor of the building that holds Poppy's way-mod pad-a-terre in Chicago's left ventricle.

Wife and I came up for--ostensibly--business but, in reality we came to loiter with Poppy. On Thursday, we flew up from Miami and 4 hours later we were attired in rich apparel, grooving mightily at a gala of which Poppy was the chairwoman. Even though an appalling percentage of her committee--marginally useless before their names are enshrined in print on the event's program and monumentally useless thereafter--had ditched, leaving Poppy to face the vagaries of gala chairpersonship solo ("High Noon"-ishly), the thing went off nary a hitch...or without a hitch if you choose to disregard the smoked trout custard and the green tea ice cream. Afterwards, an intimate and ridiculously excellent concert of, among other things, Schubert and Cole Porter and Mozart followed.

I think she may have stopped brooding about the custard and the ice cream by now.

Anyway, rather than having us spend a few bucks to crash in a nearby hotel, Poppy very kindly offered her way-mod pad-a-terre in Chicago's left ventricle, to serve as our base of operations for the weekend. One thing you must know, gentle reader, is that it is freezing-ass cold in Chicago. Yes, it's practically May, and yet it was snowing today. Sideways. It is also appallingly non-humid. I cannot recall ever having had so much water, as my throat is parched shut all through the night. The city has eleventy gazillion people and I, for one have no idea why.

But the shopping, prior to our second gala in about as many days, was excellent as always. This weekend we managed to put a serious dent into the inventory at the Polo store, VanCleef & Arpels*, Crate & Barrel, some women's Italian shoe place, Crane's papermakers, etc. The 2nd gala was a far splashier affair, and while the hors d'ouvres were extra yummy, dinner was merely so-so and the event was, franly, too crammed with people to be all that much fun. Poppy was seated to my right and I had to scream myself hoarse just to converse w. her. I suspect she underwent a similarly rasping experience.

Anyway, all this gala-activity made us just stay in and hang out. We bought a buncha grub at Whole Foods and I commandeered the Poppy kitchen and made some very Miami-ish stuff (cumin crusted roast por loin w. roast onions & garlic and a lime-garlic jus, avocado & tomato salad, that sorta thing) which, even though the taste profile was tamed somewhat for those not accustomed to the loud riot of flavors, seemed to have gone over well. On the other hand, if teh riot of lime and garlic and onion was was far over teh top, this will cure them of any notion of having me come over to cook for them again. (A nefarious win-win situation if I've ever saw one.) The cannellini dip with carte di musica flatbread vaporized when it was presented for consumption and, I must say, seemed to pair particularly well with tumblerfuls of Ricard on ice (w. a splash).

I have known Poppy for seven years and this is the 1st time all we did was "hang out" nibbling and drinking and talking. It made me redouble my efforts to get a beach house to do precisely this with all my pals way more often. The fact we retired at midnight CST is even more surprising when one takes into accound half of the adults present were my wife and her husband, both of whom are raging, aggressive, in-your-face narcoleptics. To remain awake until midnight is riotous praise to the company.


* This was due to the fact TFBIM took her lovely white gold VC&A watch--a Christmas 2003 present--to the drugstore to get the battery changed and the idiot thereat lost the-unique to-VC&A-screws, which caused the back to flop around and made the battery lose contact and we had to rig a solution using mismatched eyeglass screws. The battery-changing episode of frugality will probably cost ~$200 to remedy.

Posted by Joke at 1:39 AM 0 comments

Thursday, April 21, 2005

100 Things

1. I was born in Michigan
2. I have lived in 4 separate countries and 3 other states
3. My family drives me mental and, because I'm an equal opportunity sort, so do my inlaws.
4. I believe it is important to eat together as a family every day
5. I have two boy children
6. I am not a pet person.
7. In fact, I am not even a houseplant person.
8. I can fake any accent, except any variant of Australian. This both bothers and fascinates me.
9. Scented candles, incense, etc. give me a raging headache.
10. I am pretty good at sewing
11. I am not good in crowds or large groups or small groups.
12. I fake being good at the above really well. But I hate it with a passion.
13. One-on-one I am a chatterbox.
14. My father has unqualifiedly praised me to my face exactly once. I was 13.
15. I am a rugged indoorsman, I hate the great outdoors.
16. I got chickenpox when I was 29.
17. I'm extremely judgmental. I try to shut up about it, which builds character.
18. I wish I had had more kids.
19. I'm a male, straight and I love pink.
20. I'm a snob.
21. I was painfully shy as a child
22. I am very good at languages. Particularly all those Romance ones. Maybe others like German or Japanese, but since I only drive Italian cars, I've never bothered.
23. I find most people fairly dull, fairly stupid or fairly prosaic.
24. I NEVER forget a kindness.
25. Ann Coulter make me laugh.
26. I have no fear whatsoever of public speaking.
27. I have "a past" that I'd like to keep to myself, as I'm not terribly proud of it now that I'm settled down with a wife and kids.
28. I actually R.s.v.p. when I get an invitation and send thank-you notes. Thos who don't puzzle and sadden me.
29. I'd never want to live anywhere else
30. I used to be a Libertarian, but now I'm merely a lower-case-L libertarian.
31. I couldn't possibly care less about what is or isn't politically correct.
32. I have a collecting gene, from my mother.
33. I have a "marooned in a deserted island survivor" metabolism. This has yet to prove handy.
34. I tried my hand at stand-up comedy once. ONCE.
35. Seriousness makes my naughty bits itch.
36. I don't hate my government. I hate ALL government; since we're stuck with one, I prefer we opt for the most minimally intrusive one...starting with my wallet and whatever forms I have to fill out.
37. I get almost all of Dennis Miller's references. Not sure how I feel about that.
38. I worry about my friends
39. I cannot sleep on an airplane
40. I can tune out anything I want to
41. Cooking is a language to me, I can even think in it.
42. My dream job would be to be dictator. Really.
43. I always marvel at how many opportunities I missed to turn my life into a train wreck.
44. My guardian angel deserves overtime.
45. I drink coffee AND tea. In fact, my habit used to be so bad I'd have a shot of espresso and then fall asleep.
46. I dislike work. Not just my job, but ALL jobs.
47. I love ironing shirts. Trousers, not so much.
48. I read voraciously
49. I worry about hubris
50. I default to being arrogant and smug
51. I love studying ancient history and classics.
52. I am Olympically good at procrastination and insomnia
53. I try to go to Mass daily (but fail) and Confession monthly
54. I am short-sighted.
55. I am not, nor can I understand why anyone would ever be, a vegetarian.
56. People whose worldviews are permated by bitterness worry me. Hate, less so.
57. I only consent to drive manual cars. Power steering is somewhat suspect.
58. I am impatient to a pathological degree.
59. I don't care for modernism, progressivism or any other euphemism for "new things that don't work."
60. I get in trouble because of my deadpan delivery.
61. I very, very rarely talk about sex.
62. I often hurl impressive bursts of profanity, but never around women or children.
63. I'm Catholic. Like THAT kind of Catholic.
64. When eating out, I find it amazingly easy to decide what to order. Knowing what to order is 90% of the trick of having a great lunch/dinner.
65. I have no sense of direction. NONE.
66. I'm a bit curt when my defenses are down.
67. PG Wodehouse is the greatest writer in the history of the English language
68. I hate, loathe, despise Daylight Savings Time.
69. I am a skeptic.
70. I am a cynic.
71. I am very particular about what my children wear. I don't mind a small, discreet logo, but I prefer classic stuff that won't require them to explain things when looking at photos many years hence. This is a result of having grown up in the 1970s; that ghetto of a decade.
72. I am somewhat vain.
73. I have an opinion about EVERYTHING.
74. I love roses.
75. I am, outwardly, a very unemotional person. But you'd be surprised at the stuff that makes my eyes well up.
76. I am hilarious
77. My friends tend to be also (it's a requirement, really)
78. I wonder what my life would have been like had I been born 10 years later.
79. I like writing letters and notes by hand, with fountain pen, on nice stationery
80. I pray for my friends, regardless of how they'd feel about that
81. I hope that Judgment Day arrives just as I walk out of Confession
82. I love silent comedies.
83. Nothing worries me more than what sort of men my sons will become.
84. I'm aware of my shortcomings and how they got there.
85. I love natural sponges
86. My oldest is about to go to an old-fashioned, classical-education Jesuit school, with a pedagogy that was fixed ca. 1850.
87. Just like I went to one. (As did my dad, in case you're counting)
88. I try and tread lightly on Creation. Not TOO lightly.
89. Baking remains outside my skill set.
90. I ADORE cooking dinner every night, night after night. Trips aside, I've done so for 15 years. 91. I shop for groceries and food every day, and at 5 different places
92. I'm actually Joke the III.
93. I have been drinking wine with dinner since I was 8
94. I am emphatically NOT a Francophile (my dad, alas is)
95. I am an Italophile
96. I am an Anglophile
97. I like all adult beverages equally, except white Zinfandel which is the wine used to worship the Prince of Darkness.
98. I have a finely tuned sense of irony and sarcasm
99. My friends are hugely important in my life. They generally are chosen for their kindness, charm, loyalty and conversational ability. Politics, religion, gender, race, etc. plays no part in the selection process. This leads to lively exchanges.
100. I am an optimist, and pessimists puzzle me.

Posted by Joke at 11:27 PM 1 comments

Friday, April 15, 2005

I remember...

Now that I am firmly planted in (early) middle age, I feel I have earned the right to reminisce, openly and in public, on useless things of my (mostly misspent) youth. Perhaps someone could shed light on the whereabouts of these things:

* I remember Quake cereal
* I remember metal lunchboxes and glass-lined Thermoses
* I remember G.I. Joe before he had that Kung-fu grip and that Commie beard.
* I remember when turntables (!) had a 78rpm setting (I don't remember any 78rpm records, though)
* I remember when Mad magazine was funny
* I remember when National Lampoon was a magazine (and wildly hilarious)
* I remember double-features
* I remember soda (& coffee) machines that dispensed the soda (or coffee) in the cup
* I remember the Mr. Bubble jingle
* I remember when disco showed up and, more felicitously, when it departed (although,
herpetically, it never really leaves.)
* I remember the day it dawned on me that girls were not icky and to be avoided (which, oddly
enough, coincided with my being at an all-boys school)
* I remember life before The Official Preppy Handbook
* I remember the jingle which stated the composition of the Big Mac
* I remember my first ice cream cone (Dairy Queen in Oak Park, MI)
* I remember owning (not many!) 8 track tapes
* I remember the full gamut of Wham-O products
* I remember all of General Mills' Monster cereals
* I remember the scent of Wella Balsam shampoo and also of "Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific"
* I remember The Big Wheel
* I remember when Donkey Kong--a name with a vaguely lurid undertone, if'n you ask me--
came out
* I remember "I can't believe I ate the who-o-o-o-ole thing."
* I remember real-live adult males walking around in leisure suits
* I remember the REAL Banana Republic
* I remember the REAL Metropolitan Home magazine
* I remember the REAL GQ magazine
* I remember life before Bailey's Irish Cream
* I remember when finding shrink-to-fit Levi's 501 jeans was no big deal...and when they only cost $7.99 (adjusted for inflation they should only cost $16.43 today)
* I remember floppy disks..and I remember them as being REALLY floppy
* I remember the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy airing on PBS
* I remember Star Wars before it became "Episode 4" (and, naturally, before all those ::cough, cough:: enhancements)
* I remember CB radios
* I remember Dave Letterman doing stand-up
* I remember Steve Martin doing stand-up
* I remember Woody Allen doing stand-up
* I remember Albert Brooks doing stand-up
* I remember life before the Sony Walkman
* I remember Apple Computers before the Macintosh
* I remember big-ass reel-to-reel tapes
* I remember filmstrip--boop!--presentations
* I remember Bicentennial mania (in fact, my parents' attic still has a surplus of junk therefrom)
* I remember home Atari games
* I remember the original IBM PC
* I remember digital watches
* I remember $1000 calculators
* I remember finding the "old" Prodigy

Dammit, I'm old.


Posted by Joke at 8:33 AM 5 comments

Monday, April 11, 2005


Today, esteemed reader, is a very special day. It's Drivelversary Day. Of course, the more recent arrivals will have no idea whatever about Drivelversary Day, and it will seem to have sprung up as arbitrarily as many other manufactured Days. And no, you may not take the day off. Drivelversary isn't here to extricate you from honest toil.

Drivelversary is, quite simply, the day when Poppy and self became pals. Today, now that you mention it, marks the 7th Anniversary of the day Poppy and yours truly began drivelling in public, subjecting the denizens of a certain (now rather moribund) Usenet Group to our own, quite inimitable, idiotic banter.

A red letter day if there ever was one.

I'll give the arriviste among you the Cliffs Notes. I had written something (as usual) idiotic in my attempt to elevate the plane of one online discussion or another to a level which I would find amusing...much like I do in every aspect of my life, but I digress. Out of nowhere, Poppy chimes in, not only with praise--which was quite jarring, mind you--but also throwing in a reference that, by an evident flourish of Providence, I not only "got," but reveled in. Who else, except li'l ol' me, would know some semi-obscure silent film comedian? Worse...who else would sling that reference across a public discussion like a refreshing gust from a spring zephyr?

Poppy, 'at's who.

To show you how books oughtn't be judged by their covers, we have become, frankly, ridiculous in our friendship. The added fillip of this is that people who knew us in our respective cubbyholes in the "real world" were astonished and/or bewildered. Other than having been to the Montreal Expo of 1967, we had appallingly little in common--at least to the meanest eye. We share no ethnic component, we have no ties of geography or c.v., we are quite apart in matters of ideology, and we only have the most tenuous links on matters of faith and/or generational memories. But these are deep waters, Watson.

A sudden burst of modesty, now I am axle-deep in (early) middle age, forbids me from focusing too much on my attributes, so I toss the glare of the spotlight Poppywards and answer the question poised upon your lips (or, more likely, your keyboard): "What's the big deal?"

There are, of course, the little things. Her relentlessly half-classicism/half-preppiness, her peerless prose, her tastes in film and knowledge thereof, her fondness for strong drink (provided it is yummy), the design of her social life, her tastes in music and literature (sometimes I wonder about her tastes in architecture, but it is only fair she is likely to be as alarmed by my fondness for postmodernism, as I am by hers for modernism), her being able to discourse sagely on the aspects of single-sex education.

Well, Poppy makes me laugh. Sometimes people will make the semi-derisive comment of "___ is funny, for a girl." Well, Poppy is funny. To my mind, not many people, regardless what type of naughty bits they carry as accessories, fall into that category. Poppy is just damned funny. But she's not funny in a rubber chicken way, but as the top layer on a kind and surprisingly gentle soul (I'll shut up about this before she sends a René Mancini pump up my lower digestive tract). Her sense of friendship and her loyalty, are unspeakably comforting to me.

But even better than that, Poppy is a stellar conversationalist. Talking with her is like swimming in a pool of such a delightful temperature that you don't care how pruned-up your hands get. More than once we have shut down an establishment because we were deeply engrossed in our idiotic banter.

As if further proof were needed, consider the arranged marriage between her daughter and whichever son o' mine she picks, as well as my generous views on the matter of dowry. Consider further that we (that is, our aggregate families) see each other--even though we live 37 states away--more often than people who live a 20 minute drive away. Now that I think about it, I believe I can pay a pal no higher compliment than to say my memory of life before we became pals is pretty blurry, and I cannot believe it's been only 7 years. If we were both cats, and I had two dead rats, I'd give you one.


Posted by Joke at 11:44 PM 3 comments