Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Wherein the milk of human kindness curdles a bit

Please be seated, this may come as a shock to you.

The people who produce the foodie-grade edibles in this country are not, by and large, foodies. They are, sadly (for us foodies anyway), usually Birkenstockers who, 30 years ago would have gone on top of a hill with a bottle of Coke and warbled about how they'd like to teach the world to sing if only Coca-cola weren't such an evil Kapitalist enterprise. Nowadays, they have made some grudging acceptance of the free-market (akin to a flat-earther acknowledging our planet's "slight curvature") to the minimum extent required to stay in business. Why do they want to stay in business? "To make a difference."

The problem is that making a difference often leads to stupid-ass decisions. In particular, I am railing against the two major organic dairy producers...you bastards know who you are.

The fact these are Earth Children we're dealing with here was driven home when I noticed, to my regret, that their milk is now "ultra pasteurized." This, as opposed to regular pasteurization, is done SOLELY to extend shelf life. The problem is that the milk now tastes like regular milk and, from a foodie's standpoint, it no longer has any material advantage over milk that clocks in at 75% less. The attitude being "never mind how it tastes...look how good for you/the environment/our neoprogressivist revolution it is!" All references to how much better it tasted have ben dropped from the cartons, in favor of details on how the barns were built by anticapitalist communes from recyclables foraged by Native Americans and how a percentage of the profits have been donated to Hemp Growers Without Borders.

But that doesn't solve the problem of my finding milk that tastes like milk.

FUCK ultra-pasteurization.

Posted by Joke at 11:43 PM 2 comments

Monday, May 30, 2005

Stolen from...oh, Hell...pretty much everyone

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 148 proof, with specific scores in beer (80) , wine (133), and liquor (130).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

Posted by Joke at 9:36 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

You know whom to blame (REVISED)

So, okay, I was exiting from a client ahead of schedule when another client called me to reschedule and I was faced with an ample amount of time and nothing, sadly, with which to fill it. It then I spy with my little eye a shopping mall. This seemed like a pretty decent sort of mall, albeit one usually outside my sphere of influence. So I saunter in, with time to spare. Poppy's warning about shopping must have been rattling in my brain, but I didn't care.

It was then I remembered something I first encountered at Poppy's when we visited Chicago last, which proved an absolute revelation: Shop Etc. Magazine. The magazine is horrifyingly, even pathologically, gynocentric (the June/July issue is better than most since it has a section of Father's Day gifts, but otherwise it's a pretty barren wasteland for us menfolk), but once you can get past all the things which are cute, flirty, fun and must-haves, there is a pretty decent section for house stuff. Since having a Y Chromosome has never precluded me from a) living in a house or b) making decisions without consulting my long-suffering wife (TFBIM to youse) I perused and filed away a few, vital tidbits in my brain should the opportunity ever arise.

It arose around 11am EDT today. As I was on my way to seek Gentlemen's Accessories and/or Finery, my vision was arrested by the display of what I have come to believe are, bar none, the single finest towels in the whole of recorded human history. There they were, languidly draped and insouciantly folded...bath towels, bath sheets*, hand towels, wash cloths, tub mats and those stupid-ass turban things to keep your hair wet so you can have the pleasure of abusing it with a blow dryer at your convenience, in slate, snow, sage and wheat**.

They all (well, not all) called to me. And I, already weakened by their luxurious Supima Cotton-ness, snapped them up. Four full sets in white for the grownups, two sets each in light green and light blue for the lads. When I get to the counter...they are on sale! 15% off! I rule!

Next thing was to find my way--from which I was delightedly, if temporarily, sidetracked by the supreme human achievement in toweling--to Gentlemen's Things. There was a neat little display of Trafalgar belts and a discreet, engraved brass sign at the back of the display reading "Special Values," the engraver's equivalent to a sotto voce head's-up. It stands to reason the damned things would beck to me and I, having failed to lash myself to the mast, succumbed like Cujo at the butcher shop. I managed to find a gorgeous black crocodile belt, with the detachable buckle and a for-real cordovan traveling companion for a ridiculous pittance. I am reluctant to say how little, but suffice it to say they will hold pride of place in my closet along with the $49.98 Ralph Lauren Purple Label suit...let's just say I like 90% discounts. I had to add a couple of clearance-ed chinos (regular khaki cotton Polo and tan silk Tommy Bahama which are likely to be gifted away, since I can't see myself wearing silk trousers) to the mix and my work was done.
But as I was exiting, Williams-Sonoma caught my eye and I couldn't leave the premises without the nonstick whisk I had promised Poppy*** for making scrambled eggs, a mandoline and a silicone hotpad/trivet thing. And 2 sets of Rosanna's Pastel Dots plates/dessert plates/mugs. I am nagged by the feeling I may have left behind the espresso set, though.

Next thing I know, I am loading my car after having lightened my bank account to the tune of $360. In less than half an hour.


P.S. After dropping off NTS at his Tuesday gig, I swung by Barnes & Noble, and laid waste to their clearance bin. Coupla food mags, a Disney mag for NOS, some Christmas book for TFBIM, a smartass commentary tome and a history book later and my AmEx was $48 flimsier.

* TFBIM hates these, BTW
** These are colors. BTW, no, I have no idea who the imbecile was who decided to give cretinous names to colors.
*** I am amazed she remained single until she was 29. She should have been flooded with offers of matrimony on the strength of her scrambled eggs alone.

Posted by Joke at 12:33 PM 4 comments

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ooops, I did it again.

I truly cannot help myself. It turns I am not only a petrosexual, but I'm apparently the sort who engages in the automotive equivalent of going to bath houses and collecting Judy Garland memorabilia. In my own defense, I'll just explain (rationalize?) that my current ride was getting lonely and, as such, it needed a baby sister to play with.

So I went out and bought one. Yes, it was an impulse purchase, albeit a good, noble one. I was listening to Car Talk on NPR--one of the very few things on NPR* which usually has no effect on my blood pressure--and some poor woman in Cambridge called asking advice on what sort of car to get, if any. Her husband had forbidden her to buy one because, as she explained, "He's an environmentalist, and he thinks cars are, y'know...evil."** She wasn't crazy about the notion of driving***, but she was a med student who had to do rotations in--as is inevitable in med school rotations--Very Bad Neighborhoods and the idea of taking the T or waiting for a cab in a Very Bad Neighborhood at 2am in a blizzard in January held (go figure!) minimal appeal for her.

Anyway, the fact there are slavering idiots like this med student's husband had me weakened, so that when I saw this car, I was ripe. Then I saw the absolutely larcenous price and I caved like Nick Nolte at happy hour. This is the perfect car to counter everything this cretin holds true. This is a car meant to be driven for impractical reasons. It is a frivolous car. Beautiful, sure. Fast? Undoubtedly. Rare...certainly. Possibly collectible, too. But it is, above all else, a mechanism for turning scarce natural resources into smiles. The fact it accidentally gets decent mileage just means I can go fast for a longer period.

I'm going to go up to Philadelphia, even though Poppy's husband swears it is the most bottlenecked airport anywhere--it can't be helped, and pick up this beauty, making sure that self-righteous microcephalics and enuretics take a good look at me.

Here it is. Take that, Mr. Environmentalist Fringe Whackjob Oppressive Husband.


* I figure I might as well listen to something on NPR, seeing as how the police power of the state is used to confiscate my money in order to keep things like NPR on the public teat, that I might as well get some useful benefit for my money.
** EarthFirst! vs. Emily's List, next on the Ultimate Fighting Championship...
*** These people are more to be pitied than censured. I know several and they are pretty much sterling folk. So sterling, in fact, one eagerly overlooks treasonous, aberrant notions such as "I just need something to get me from here to there." or >shudder!< "I just need room for the kids' soccer team." They don't mean to say these things, they just can't help it.

Posted by Joke at 9:04 PM 0 comments

In case youse/y'all were wondering...

Your Linguistic Profile:

45% General American English
20% Yankee
15% Dixie
10% Upper Midwestern
10% Midwestern

Posted by Joke at 2:42 PM 0 comments

Saturday, May 21, 2005

You Can't Get There From Here (Pt. 2, The Haiku)

American Airlines
was being uncooperative
then my wife called them.

Posted by Joke at 6:48 AM 5 comments

Thursday, May 19, 2005

You can't get there from here. (A cautionary tale)

Dear American Airlines,

You may not remember this far back--which would explain away much that your shareholders see in your recent Annual Reports--but last year, around late summer, we in Florida were smacked with about four hurricanes and two tropical storms in a row. It was in all the papers and everything. If you think back you will remember how Our Friendly Neighborhood Airport was shut down, seeing as how someone of some authority (like, say, a Governor) thought it unwise to have airplanes taking off and touching down in 120mph winds and rains in the 6" neighborhood. You may also recall how this meant our flights were cancelled. Not, as you may reflexively suppose, that we cancelled our reservation to attend our pal Sam's wedding in Philadelphia on a whim, but (and follow closely here)
that there was none of the usual airport-like activity allowed, and you (American Airlines) could not have flown us under any circumstances.

Now, Sam may not have had the right to wear white to his wedding, seeing as how he had a previous Trial Offer* from Marriage Inc., but it would be safe to say he'd be having no more weddings in the following 12 month period, even if Pennsylvania would revise its bigamy laws to permit the establishment of a harem.

So, therefore, WTF is all this "reissuing fee" bullshit? As my pal
Badger might say during that part of her cycle when her estrogen is not on speaking terms with her fallopian tubes "Dude...there was, like, a FUCKING hurricane...with winds and rain and shit!" As a capitalist, I can see you socking deadbeats with that 17.5% charge, but not innocent people who merely had a their airport shut down through no fault of their own. Seeing as how your parent company is based in Dallas, I can see how relieved you were when the Supreme Court threw out all of the Texas sodomy laws.**

Very Truly Yours,


But, intrepid reader, our tale does not end there. In fact, it is there that our story fails to end. Because of a realignment in the way the public/private school calendar works, this year summer vacation will only be two months. I'd think it quite a ripoff were I to be 30something years younger than I am now, but as a dad, that's not so bad. Still, it gums up the logistics for our summer vacation plans. Normally, I break up my two weeks into one week to either go to the beach (like in Naples, FL) and do absolutely nothing, or go somewhere educational (like DC, although next year Italy seems quite likely) and take in musea nonstop. The other week has traditionally been consecrated to Disneyland (DL). Between the assorted summer camp schedules for NOS & NTS it was hard to make time, but all was accomplished.

It is our strategy, as regular DL habitués, to get Annual Passes, even though we live across the continent therefrom. What we do is go late in the summer of Year A, and the next summer--we'll call it Summer B--go for the 4th of July with Poppy and her ilk. This way it works out a LOT cheaper than getting 4- or 5-day passes, since we get an aggregate of 14 days for $836 instead of $1728, or, basically, the 2nd trip free. To say nothing of the very steep hotel discounts.

But I digress from the main point of today's blog entry, which is a tirade against the pinheads who've taken hold of American Airlines.

So we have a very narrow window of possible travel to SoCal. This year I accumulated most of my miles on Delta*** and most of the FF miles I used up were on American, most notably, flying all-freebie Supah-Dupah-Luxe-BlingBling-Cristal Champagne-class to Chicago last month. In light of how this all played out, I probably shoulda handled that reservation mo' differently, but what's done's done.

Looking at the various mileage statements from these two competing carriers, I first look to see what Delta**** may have in store for us. Well...it turns out all their FF award flights are monumentally, utterly, inexpressively inconvenient. Not a nonstop to be had. I try both of my nearest major airports, and all the airports convenient to DL***** but no business ensues. The only semi-convenient flights are now something called "Sky Choice" and they require double mileage. Nuh uh. No dice. I'm not shelling out 200,000 SkyMilesTM to be still be moderately inconvenienced. Besides, I'm thinking I'd better hoard my Delta miles, since I'm planning on flying the whole horde of us (to the eventual exasperation of my Italian cousins) business class or better next year. So, let's hold off on Delta.

Let's see what joy American Airlines has in store for us. Well, after that little escapade to Chicago, I damned near depleted my AA FF miles. Bugger. Ah! But I remember I still have these "reissues" sitting in my AA account. I'll use those. Cool. Then came the bitter news (see above) and I had to rethink things, lest I be compelled to rob Peter to, if not pay Paul, fly to Paul's house meaning I would have a FAR less comfy ride to visit Peter next year, if my metaphor is not too overwrought by now.

Now, my thinking is that if I can get cheap enough airfare, I can use the remainder of my AA FF miles and patch things from that end. Well, gentle reader, it is DAMNED NEAR IMPOSSIBLE to find a flight on AA that is simultaneously:

1- Convenient (something tells me my kids might, uh, "be a solid handful" if they had to endure 11 hour travel days) and
2- Available as a FF mile award and
3- Available for less, than, say, $600 per person

When I found a flight that worked for us, it either wasn't available as an award, or it cost $889 per person. When the flights were $198 per person, it was a redeye and/or required a three hour layover in Boston (!). If the flight was a reasonable one in terms of price and schedule, there would be no availability for FF awards. Sometimes, just to torture me--because by now it was quite late--just when I thought I had found something at the AA.com site****** I'd get to a screen that said something like "sorry, the price has now increased to $___." Memo to American Airlines: It makes sense to have more award tickets on the cheaper, less crowded flights. It's a win-win. By the looks of your 2004 financial statements, you'd do well to consider such an idea. Your passengers and shareholders would both be relieved.

Finally, when I realized that I was in the middle of a price-increase whirlpool and racing to beat a 33% hike, I managed to find something (the fact it was a flight at a convenient time, of short duration, inexpensive and also available as a FF award...with an excellent on-time percentage, to boot...means someone at AA probably is going to get fired) and, quite literally, booked it with only seconds to spare.

"Joke, you just wasted the 8 hours following dinner online trying to book palatable airline tickets, what are you going to do next?"

I'm going to Disney World!*******


* The $65,000 penalty for early withdrawal left a rather bitter thought in his mouth, though.
** While it probably was all the rage in Sodom and, in all likelihood, also Gomorrah, I fail to see the charm, at least as practiced by the Major Airlines. Oh, yeah, and deciding that a 25% tax on airline tickets is a neat idea is the equivalent of granulate Astroglide to the above scenario.
*** I fly on whatever my clients provide me, unless I am to book my own passage and bill for that in my expenses. Like you care.
**** You don't get off scot-free either, Delta.
***** San Diego (SAN), John Wayne (SNA), LAX, Bob Hope (BUR), Long Beach (LGB), Palm Springs (PSP) and Ontario (ONT)...for those of you playing the home version.
****** A ver-r-r-r-r-ry awkward site to navigate, BTW.
******* No, really. We go to WDW for Memorial Day.

Posted by Joke at 8:07 AM 6 comments

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

I'm here, I steer, get used to it.

While traipsing merrily through a certain automotive newsgroup, I had the opportunity to wax rhapsodic on the form of a certain automobile* and someone helpfully chimed in with a comment to the effect I am a "petrosexual."

And I must, on the strength of that comment, emerge from the clo...er...garage, and admit who I truly am. Like Queen sang, "I'm in love with my car." What makes it worse is that not only am I in love with my car, but I am also covetous of many others' cars. As Poppy said, beauty ought be celebrated.

Now you know.


* This one:

Posted by Joke at 8:08 AM 3 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

So you know.

Blogspot started mangling my blogs, so that there were HUGE expanses of blank screen, and one--if one wanted to read what I wrote--had to scroll down for 2-3 hours before striking oil.

I had to change the template, but, rest assured, I am on the case.


Posted by Joke at 8:37 AM 0 comments

Doing Father-and-Son things

The Scene:
My house, 6:45 am

(Visualize a split screen with a jagged-y lightning-ish line separating the screen halves)

Phone rings

Dad: Listen, my phone doesn't work.
Me: How are you calling me?
Dad: Well, it works going out.
Me: yes...and?
Dad: I need you to come over here and help me with it.
Me: How could I possibly be of any use? You sh...
Dad: You're good with these things.
Me: No, actually, I am not.
Dad: Oh, please, I've seen that stereo thing of yours.
Me: Dad, those are two unrelated things.
Dad: So when will you be by?
Me: You don't need me. You shou...
Dad: I was thinking I could call the house as you play with the phones, until one of them rings.
Me: Dad, that's why you pay the phone company, they send a guy to look at things and fix them. He is even qualified to climb the telephone poles. I'm not qualified, because you always told me to get down from there and that I was going to rip my pants.
Dad: But I don't have the number.
Me: It's in the phone book.
Dad: OMG, why must everything be so complicated with you?
Me: Just dial the phone company and tell them what's wrong. It's pretty simple, easily done.
Dad: And what are we to do until then? We'll be missing a lot of phone calls.
Me: Dad, YOU are the one who always gets mad when the phone rings because it's always for Mom. If it means that much to you holler "It's for you!" just forward the calls to your cell phone.
Dad: Again with the complications!
Me: Dad, why are you paying for the phone forwarding service? Just send it to your cell phone.
Dad: It's in the car.
Me: Get it out of the car.
Dad: The battery will drain.
Me: [sigh] Plug it into that wall thingy.
Dad: But what happens if I leave, huh?
Me: Oh, please...just forward it to Mom's phone, then. The calls are all for her anyway.


Dad: Okay. Now you're making sense. Why the Hell didn't you say that in the first place?
Me: I love you Dad, but now I have to get into my coffin before the sun rises.

Fade out.

Posted by Joke at 8:03 AM 3 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2005

How Things Work...(New in a series)

My pal Badger has just had a harrowing experience involving misbehavior at 4-way stop signs. The problem with the 4-way stop signs is that diferent parts of the country have different rules.

In the suburb of Miami* where I live, f'rinstance, the most expensive car goes first. Many people in minivans have had to wait until another minivan shows up if they have been unfortunate to stumble in the path of people exiting the Bentley Club meeting. In Washington DC, however the rule is the largest caliber handgun** goes first. In LA the protocol is that greatest amount of silicone/collagen goes first. In Boston, I have noticed, people move out from 4-way stop signs according to who has more points on their driver's license. In Vermont people proceed according to their history of civil upheaval, with people who were beat up by Hell's Angels at Altamont yielding to, say, people arrested for reading Beat Poetry in public during the Eisenhower years, but moving off before people who went "Clean For Gene" in 1968.

Perhaps in Austin things proceed on the "who is Indier?" rule. If someone has a lot of those "Anarchy" or "Question Authority" bumper*** stickers, perhaps they feel entitled to deny Our Miss Badger her right of way. If that is the case, then it seems plausible Badger might get relief by affixing a sticker reading "Move the fuck OVER! I'm fucking HOLDING WATER!" or "I'm in a rush to eat my weight in salt!" or something of a similar nature, provided it described, in brief the general effects of PMS on the driver and the dangers this poses to the rest of the traffic.

So, as you see it's all very complex.


* Miami is a bit special, however, since people here drive according to the laws of their country of origin.

** Which is quite humorous considering Washington DC has banned handguns. Some people can't be bothered to read the newspaper, it seems.

*** Actual bumpers are not strictly necessary among this segment of society.

Posted by Joke at 6:56 AM 2 comments

Friday, May 13, 2005

A ray of hope for this spring

Gentle Reader,

Those among you who've assiduously followed my career, know I am verging on mania or disorder when it comes to appropriate menswear. As the son of a son of a tailor, these are occupational hazards, you understand. Still, often enough, men (or those women in their lives who shop for them) will ask me for my views on how to enhance the level of startorial splendor exhibited, without going utterly nuts and getting custom Trafalgar suspenders or something equally deranged. I say my bit and they are invariably disappointed.

"If you wish to be considered a stylishly dressed man," I intone "you simply, absolutely MUST wear a pocket square."

You could make weathervanes spin from the dejected sighs which accompany that innocent, pleasant statement. It is not as if I have advocated Mr. X saunter about in a celluloid dickey or Mr. Y wear a snood and multicolored crinolines. It's a square of fabric! This was a pretty hopeless, lonely road to travel. Until this past April. TFBIM and self went up from our for-all-intents-and-purposes tropical home into the teeth of the vaunted Chicago tundra to attend a gala hosted by Poppy*. While decanted at Mme. Poppy's table, I noticed that several--a minority to be sure, but still in appreciable numbers--of the gentlemen within eyeballing distance had pocket squares! Progress! Emerald City, at last at last!

And not just a thin white stripe of linen peeking out, either. While nobody had the diablerie to disport with a hand-rolled Irish linen in the intricate-yet-dashing four-point fold, some had puffs of white cotton, and there was one veritable plume of silk issuing from a certain gentleman's upper pocket. Color me impressed. In fact, at our (i.e. Poppy's) table, the pocket squared outnumbered the squareless by something like 4:2. Poppy's (and now, my) pal FiddleDD was clearly enraptured by the insouciant way in which I wore mine and beheld me in conversation to the exclusion of all else.

Therefore, young man**, should you want to make a hit with the better element of the distaff side of the species...you must wear that poquet square, but hold yon plume.


* I must reiterate that as Mistress of the Revels, Poppy is a peerless wonder.

** Young ladies might wish to use this as a litmus test, although I recognize this is a very controversial thing.

Posted by Joke at 11:08 AM 0 comments

The truth will out

The Introvert
You rank as a category 5 person.
I find your lack of faith disturbing, aren't you the serious one! You probably read everything I wrote in the introduction and took it to heart. You display a strong sense of realism and down-to-earthiness, you probably cringed at the 'down-to-earthiness' word. In fact, the vast majority of you who recognised the Star Wars reference at the beginning will have groaned audibly at it. Things about you; you don't get too carried away with hyped-up fantasies, you're very hard to scam and you often find a good deal when shopping. You tend to indulge in quite a bit of self-analysis as well. As a realist you correctly summise that every human is an individual as complex as the next. Nevertheless many can still share common traits, don't become too individualist. You see yourself as a very complicated human who nobody properly understands. This is often the cause of your seriousness, remember, lots of people go through many of the same issues as you, the key is how you deal with them. Your self-seriousness can sometimes lead you into a fragile emotional state where you feel depressed and lonely. Watch out, this can be the beginning of emodom. Try not to take everything everyone says too much to heart; work on your faults, we all have them and you can recognise them more than many people. At the same time however, lighten up a little, don't forget how to enjoy yourself. Do a few more crazy impulsive things, take a few more chances, be a little more optimistic and trusting. Obviously this will apply to different people in different amounts - most of you will still know how to have a good time. Be careful though not to let this good time get marred by getting annoyed with the faults of those around you. If you're single and there's a guy or girl you like, why not try asking them out? If things don't go as you want then relax; if they don't want you for who you are then they're not the right person to be with. Don't take things so personally. Learn from criticism or rejection, improve yourself with it, but most importantly, don't let it get you down, it happens to everyone! Move on and get your life going again; don't spend so much time being cynical (i.e. cut me some slack - this is the first - and after this, probably only - test that I've ever written.) Finally, if you're a girl, why not work a little on your confidence - next time you're in a bar and you need to use the bathroom, try going without dragging every female friend you've ever had with you. Overcompensation for your personal loneliness in social situations can be a destructive thing.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 0% on Personality
Link: The One Yes or No Qn. Personality Test written by DocFunkenstein on Ok Cupid

Posted by Joke at 8:15 AM 0 comments

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Things without which you oughtn't live. Pt. 1

Last night, I went to a tasting since my client (the guy who was supposed to be at the tasting) begged off and handed me his ticket. The tasting was of a few food purveyors who brought along interesting tidbits for the assemble to taste and, they hoped, order in staggering quantities. The tidbits were pretty good, actually...even if they were a bit unorthodox (trout caviar, cherry-smoked salmon, etc., etc.) but that's not what blew me away. THIS was:

This vodka was soooo smooth and haunting I spent a perfectly untenable amount of my nonexistent free time tracking it down to find out what it was. I strongly urge you to seek it out and drink it. Me? I'm dreaming of lacing the ideal Bloody Mary (or, maybe, a screwdriver) therewith but those of you who prefer abominations (like a vodka martini) or merely aberrations (such as vodka and tonic), will likewise adore it.

The ironic thing of it is that it's not Russian. Hell, it's not even Eastern European...or even European! It's from Ida-freakin'-ho. But they know their taters in Idaho and apparently they also know what to do with Rocky Mountain water and also what ought be done to surplus spuds.

You're welcome, America.


Posted by Joke at 3:02 PM 3 comments

Only because there was no possibility of being rated "Wanton Libidinous Trollop"

Vocabulary Vixen!
Congratulations! You got 17 correct answers!
You sexy thing! You probably own a book or two. You can communicate in complete thoughts and your knuckles don't drag while walking down the street. Now promise me you will use your word power for good not for evil.

My test tracked 1 variable How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on wordpoints
Link: The BIG WORDS ARE SEXY Test written by MissMariah on Ok Cupid

Posted by Joke at 9:02 AM 3 comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Well, if I don't blog this, how else would anyone know?

Poppy, elsewhere around here, threw down the following gauntlet*:

"If you've read this far, I dare you to post a blog entry listing or depicting your bedside reading."

It would be a thoroughly revolting act of cowardice to decline, and therefore I hereby serve notice to the world as to what I consider not only worthy reading, but also worthy of a spot on my nightstand:

PG Wodehouse**, Uncle Dynamite, The Golf Omnibus & The World of Jeeves
JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
SJ Perelman, Westward, HA!
Frances Mayes, Under The Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany
Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes
PJ O'Rourke, Give War A Chance
National Lampoon's Book of Love
DK Guides - Italy & Rome
Piero Taruffi - The Art and Practice of Motor Car Driving
Luigi Fusi - Guida Completa: Alfa Romeo
Richard Griot - Automotive Restoration Guide
Giada de Laurentiis - Everyday Italian
Alan Flusser - Clothes and the Man, Style and the Man & Dressing The Man
Esquire - Like A Page Out Of Esquire
Miguel de Cervantes - Don Quijote
Oscar Wilde - Complete Works
Lewis Carroll - The Complete Annotated Alice
WS Gilbert - The Savoy Operas
Peggy Noonan - A Heart, A Cross and a Flag


* This is not as simple as it may sound, even though she is a tall girl she has rather dainty hands.

** There is usually a heavy rotation of PGW's stuff

Posted by Joke at 3:13 PM 6 comments

Staring down the barrel of the .44 Magnum of geekness

I come, I suppose, quite close to being a geek on several fronts. I think I have escaped conscription into these ranks, some escapes being far narrower than others. Perhaps the multifacetedness of the thing helps in this regard. Science may never know.

Now, I was pondering all of the above because Poppy and self have been drivelling furiously on the PG Wodehouse (PGW) front. Bofus* are very much in the camp of fans of The Master. Now, Poppy is a recovering English major** and as such I cannot ascertain, with any degree of statistical accuracy, whether she regards PGW as the finest author the English language has ever produced.*** To me, he is the finest writer in English, bar none.

Having said that, I have--on and off in my cyber-career--been affiliated with assorted PGW newsgroups, bulletin boards and every odd year a certain phenomenon begins to bubble up and take form therein: The Wodehouse Convention. I can think no better way to brand yourself a geek in your chosen hobby than to go to the convention of said hobby. Science fiction, comic books, Disney stuff, vintage clothes hangers, Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Civil War stuff, Harry Potter, Anime stuff, Rennaissance stuff, no matter. Going to the convention is sprinting (or swimming) across the Rubicon.

All conventions have the usual suspects arrayed in costume. Ruffs and codpieces, Mickey Mouse ears, grey 'n' blue...all of these gatherings have their true believers. As far as these go, the Wodehouse events have the advantage, at least for the menfolk, of not having ridiculous costumes to wear, unless you count plus-fours and spats and golf caps.

The point I am driving at is that I am sorely tempted to attend this year. It probably won't go further than that, because the family and self are already heading to SoCal earlier in the summer (the PGW shindig takes place in the late summer) and, frankly, crossing the continent once per summer is the maximum dose for anyone daft enough to have married me. Still, there you have it.

Part of the allure of going would be to attend with Poppy, our spouses in tow. Poppy, as it has been well documented, is not averse to period costume. Another aspect which I find alluring is that I have amassed, in the normal course of my duties, the necessary raiments to look the part. Finally, what would clinch the deal is that 90% of the convention attendees do not take "geek conventions" seriously and spend their time "browsing and sluicing" which one could generally translate to mean "drinking cocktails and hanging out." Of course, there are teh REALLY serious ones, who go to the conferences and generally disport themselves in such an abominable manner as to assiduously study and participate in all the official activities, but we shall exclude them from our discussion.

I am inordinately fortunate there is no geek group for fans of The Official Preppy Handbook, because I'd be thoroughly compelled to attend THAT convention.


* This is the punchline to a very clever joke. Remind me to tell you later.

** This represents a goodly portion of what one initially finds charming in Our Miss Poppy.

*** After all, perhaps she belongs to some guild or association whose members consider any author more readable than, say, William Burroughs as terribly, terribly bourgeois; and perhaps said guild serves excellent cocktails and nibbles at its meetings and Poppy is loath to excise this out of her life--with the compounding indignity of having her buttons cut away. Perhaps (but almost certainly an impossibility) Poppy does think, as future literary footnote Jay McInerney once said, that PGW was "deliberately minor" and not the pinnacle of the written language. Maybe she just thinks him merely really, really good, but just not her fave. I cannot speak for her, owing to some differences in our rib structure and larynx.

Posted by Joke at 8:35 AM 1 comments

Monday, May 09, 2005

The perils of being a civilized gentleman

As I was rummaging around the retail venues of our fair land, in the hopes of scoring--on behalf of those whom I've offsprung--good Mother's Day loot I took all convenient opportunities to glance by the men's departments in the hopes there might be something for me to put in my letter to Santa Claus or just purchase outright.

The pickings get slimmer and slimmer at the higher-end department stores. Neiman-Marcus, if I may shout out, is an egregious example. It is currently (at least for those of us saddled with good taste AND a Y chromosome) the purveyor of an æsthetic that can only be called Eurotrash Pimp, or if you go by their own copy, "What the well-dressed panderer is wearing this season at Cap d'Antibes." There is stuff so hideous that it broadcasts its outrageous cost; this, I suspect, is the point.

Further along the scale is the imbecilic advice proffered by their menswear guru. Who offers such pearls of wisdom as "Contrary to what your father always said, plain front trousers--not pleated trousers, make you look slimmer." This, as anyone with a passing knowledge of men's apparel knows, is the most egregious bilge. First of all, you have to realize that nothing looks better (i.e. slimmer) than BEING SLIM. Having said that, your trousers must fit well and then, if you want to maximize your je-ne-sais-quoi, you opt for forward pleated trousers. Then the idiocy is compounded by suggesting--openly!--that trousers oughtn't be cuffed or have ANY break at the instep.

For those of you who purchase apparel for men (be it because you happen to be a fellow tribesman, or are saddled with a sartorially hopeless specimen for a father, sibling, husband, etc.) let me speak plainly. This way lies madness.

Further insanity ensues. Pink ties on pink shirts? As a POWER color? Next thing you know we'll be discussing taupe Nehru jackets and mauve snoods and crinolines as the ultimate in butch outdoorsy-ness. The shoes were another distressing mess. Do not get me started on Tod's ::cough, cough:: "driving shoes" which look like something like the "flats" my grandmother would have worn in the 1970s when she wished to have looked stylish and yet comfortable and also match her very 1970s (i.e. burnt orange) kitchen. The fact the models all look like heroin addicts who have been subjected to either dreadlocks or Edward Scissorhands doesn't help matters any.

In a certain way, these trends all point to those who are--or would like to pass off as--nouveau riche. This allows the average sentient being to give them the widest imaginable berth and for people of discernment to quicken their step in the opposite direction. Were I to be a single, unattached woman, I'd use this as litmus test to determine who would not make a suitable lifetime mate. A man wearing a shirt with multipink DIAGONAL stripes, a pink tie, yellow Paul Smith trousers and orange Tod's driving shoes is not, to be utterly blunt, a man suitable for the tasks of husband and father. This is a man overdosing on hallucinogens attempting to get dressed for a Miami Vice party while blindfolded.

Posted by Joke at 8:09 AM 0 comments

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A scam of the worst sort.

I must preface this here blog with the disclaimer that I am inordinately fond of mothers. After all, it was a mother who issued me, and the woman I married (12 years ago today) has, in fact, become a mother, plus an overwhelming number of my pals are similarly stricken with motherhood.

This does not prevent me from realizing--and, more importantly, giving voice--that Mothers Day is a scam. The result of an unholy alliance between the greeting card maf...er...manufacturers, restaurants with slow services on the early Sunday shifts and women whose wombs bore and whose breasts, as Scripture sagely notes, gave suck. Much like shoplifting, the legs of this triangle go on merrily because they cannot see the persons who ultimately bear the cost.

This year the cost in question* is in the high three figures and given the fact that every gift simply begs for accessorization, it'll likely be only at some point in the mid-to-high four figures before my AmEx ceases to hemorrhage and the outflow of cash is stanched. By the time Christmas Day rolls around it will be time to start the cycle anew. Jewels, a new bathroom, a trip to Italy, it never slows. To decline participation is, frankly, to court disaster. The worst possible interpretation will be given to the non-participant's actions or lack thereof and the cost of the ransom will easily be treble the initial outlay, so we have to play along and mutely at that.

Part of the problem is the limited shelf life of the sorts of thing the sophisitcated woman desires. It either falls apart or goes out of fashion within three years. Granted, I realize this sort of thing is a vital component of the engine which fuels our economic progress as a market economy and furthermore, if one is unfortunate enough to espouse the economic theories of Keynes or Galbraith, it practically amounts to the whole of the GDP if one rounds up.

Catch me on Fathers Day and I'll tell you how the other half lives.


* Since those whom I've offsprung still have not much credit in their own name, Daddy gets to foot the bill.

Posted by Joke at 3:00 PM 6 comments

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Take Your Blogger To Work Day

OK, to do the thing properly:

If I could be a chef...I'd spend my time roaming through the markets of the world looking up and tasting cool things. I'd be on the Food Network and wax rhapsodic on the matter of seafood that was swimming, like, A MINUTE AGO. I'd also like to have a restaurant like the old, classic London "bar and grill" with a proper uber-clubby bar and (substantially improved) club food. Where the BLT is made with artisanal bread, serious cured bacon (I'm thinking Nueske's Pepper-cured bacon...thanks Poppy), heirloom tomatoes, mache or lamb's lettuce, and homemade mayonnaise. That sort of stuff.

If I could be an architect...I'd rail against Modernism. Not to the extent as to weigh in in favor of postmodernism, but definitely bring back craftspersonship into houses and buildings and all that. And bring back whimsy. Whimsy is a decidedly underrated thing, and I, for one, am all in favor of the thing. I'd plagiarize freely from Palladio and Michael Graves and develop and intriguing hybrid style.

If I could be a writer...I'd travel the world, meeting new people, making new friends, experiencing new cultures, sights, foods and then making moderately gentle fun of all of the above. My books, naturally, would be funny and well-written, guaranteeing: 1- Those people who derive their sense of self from the status which is borne of Serious Literary Criticism would ignore them and/or disdain them and 2: They would be freely read centuries after I was the main course at the worm's banquet, as opposed to the writers touted by those people who derive their sense of self from the status which is borne of Serious Literary Criticism.

If I could be a judge...I'd keep asking "Where, exactly, is that written?" before dismissing cases. No, seriously, I would. I'd look bemusedly puzzled and ask where things are written and then ask counsel to read the relevant passages for me. I'd also throw people in jail who had mullets.

If I could be a professional race car driver...I'd do what I do every odd weekend, but for $40M/year instead of having to dish out $15K a year. I'd also get to travel around the world and participate in the great races: Le Mans, Goodwood, Targa Florio, Sebring, Daytona, Carrera Panamericana and, my absolute favorite, the legendary Mille Miglia.

Now you know.


Posted by Joke at 11:08 AM 0 comments

Friday, May 06, 2005

Given that Poppy simply must be humored...

OK, it's this quiz thing from one of these sites that derives its life's meaning and purpose from the manufacture of things for bloggers to fill their blogs in lieu of actual blogging. The way I understand it, you have to pick 5 (5?) from the following list and complete the sentence in your own, inimitable, idiom.

However, since I am a--note the lowercase "l"--libertarian, I will do this however I bloody well feel like it. That is to say, I will give some brief explanation to of these items on the list and issue the longer paragraphs when the mood overtakes me.

If I could be a scientist...I'd have test tubes.
If I could be a farmer...I'd have an unpleasant, lingering scent. Oh, and we'd all starve, 'cause I'd only grow fey little heirloom vegetables that rot to inedibility within 3 minutes of harvest.
If I could be a musician...done that.
If I could be a doctor...would imply I'd gotten over my squeamishness
If I could be a painter...I'd trade in my colored pencils
If I could be a gardener...I'd grow only things you could eat, and roses.
If I could be a missionary...[make up your own immature joke]
If I could be a chef...done that, sorta
If I could be an architect...I'd design FAR better houses of worship
If I could be a linguist...[make up your own immature joke]
If I could be a psychologist...I'd tell 90% of people to SNAP out of it, the other 10% I'd have committed
If I could be a librarian...I'd put my own reviews on everything on the shelves
If I could be an athlete...it'd be something obscure, like lacrosse or crew
If I could be a lawyer...I'd sue the bastards
If I could be an innkeeper...I'd get payment up front
If I could be a professor...I'd teach, teach well and fuck publishing
If I could be a writer...that would imply I had greater perseverence
If I could be a backup dancer...I'd keep it a secret
If I could be a llama-rider...I'd say "Lake Titicaca" all day long, 'cause it's funny
If I could be a bonnie pirate...I'd be after booty
If I could be a midget stripper...I'd tell the midgets to strip their own damn selves
If I could be a proctologist...I'd have my worldview validated
If I could be a TV-Chat Show host...I'd only invite my pals
If I could be an actor...I'd take helium and star in The John Gilbert Story.
If I could be a judge...I'd keep asking "Where, exactly, is that written?" before dismissing cases
If I could be a Jedi...I'd have a casual and formal lightsaber
If I could be a mob boss...I'd whack anyone who wore those "Goodfellas" shirts or sharkskin
If I could be a personal trainer...I'd chase, over difficult terrain, my clients with a horsewhip
If I could be a professional race car driver...that would imply I was getting paid for what I do free of charge
If I could be a stand-up comedian...done that
If I could be an artist...I'd wear black and sulk and vote Socialist


Posted by Joke at 9:43 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

All doubtlessly true, of course.

Via Badger via Poppy:

You're Very Good, Jeeves!!
by P.G. Wodehouse
Perceived as clever, witty, and yet a fecklessly inconsequential person, you have managed to remain below the radar of most. Yet, slowly, patiently you have changed the minds of many people. You are known to question, not the authority around you, but rather those in whom that authority is vested, and usually found them wanting. You've also managed to not take a significant amount of flack due to your affable nature, which ameliorates public perception of your rather individual worldview, giving you the capacity to persevere when other, more strident fellow travelers would have become roadside debris. There's a good many strange and/or dubious characters in your life who would not necessarily get along with each other, but you're pretty sure their company is worth it in the end. In the final analysis, you neither know nor care who is what or who went where so long as they are amenable, open to discourse and frankly, charming.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Posted by Joke at 11:07 AM 11 comments

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Underrated films (REVISED)

As I sit here and try to compose a readable blog, I have my Nomad MP3 player (oh, fuck Apple*) delivering musical information into the eardrums. The musical bit which set bells and whistles going off insidemy melon is The Art of Noise's "Dragnet 1987" from the soundtrack of Dragnet. This set me thinking on movies which are, quite unjustifiably, underrated.

Some films are underrated because they require something from the viewer; a base of knowledge (cinematic or otherwise), an IQ favorably comparable to a jacuzzi's temperature or a willingness to be imaginative, etc.

Most of the great "underrateds" are comedies. This is because comedy gets no respect. The reason comedy gets no respect is that being funny is something most critics are not and, therefore, something they resent, trivialize and marginalize. Bugger the lot of them, say I. Comedy is murderously difficult, but the result--peals of laughter--seems somehow flighty and silly. [Shrug]

Here is my by-no-means-complete list of underrated films, in no order whatever, some with silly comments by me:

Enchanted April - Dame Joan Plowright delivers a delicious, nuanced performance clearly above anything else released that year. (Marisa Tomei...gets the Oscar? For...My Cousin Vinny???)

Zelig - This film, and not Spinal Tap, is the ne plus ultra of mockumentaries. IMO, the very best work Woody Allen has ever done, and is likely to do.

Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid - A comedy so inventive, brilliant and clearly difficult to do it renders any sentient viewer speechless. Look for the uncut version.

My Favorite Year - Oddly enough a feel-good movie, with great verbal jabs and quips and a truly wonderful performance by Peter O'Toole, as well as the rest of the semi-famous cast (Lainie Kazan, Mark Linn-Baker, Bill Macy, Joseph Bologna), the uncut version is clearer and funnier.

Dragnet - An excellent comedic riff on the original TV show. Dan Ackroyd is a spot-on Joe Friday Jr., and I absolutely LIVE for hearing Tom Hanks deliver the rescue-scene line "Thank God it's Friday!" It was cool to see Harry Morgan reprise his role as Frank Gannon, no inspector. It helps to have loved the original series.

Robin Hood: Men In Tights - The film itself is merely hey-it's-not-bad-at-all, but the Mel Brooks commentary track lifts it to the realm of the ethereal. Helps to have a working knowledge of Yiddish.

Rustler's Rhapsody - The ultimate in western (musical AND spaghetti) parodies.

Buckaroo Banzai - The quintessential cult comedy. The situations are gloriously absurd, the dialogue crackles with life and wit even if the plot is amazingly unfathomable.

Top Secret! - An excellent sophomore effort by the Airplane! guys.

No Small Affair - A brilliant little comedy even if it stars Demi Moore, albeit in a non augmented way.

Mr. Belvedere Goes To College - Actually any film with Clifton Webb as the brilliant-yet-acerbic Lynn Belvedere is a must-have.

Empire of the Sun - OK, the very end is kind of sappy and worthy of a 3rd year film student, but the performance by John Malkovich is stunning.

The Natural - The perfect combination of period piece and sports drama. Check out the lighting.

Hanoi Hilton - Buried by the earlier release of Platoon but a far better, clearer film.

My Name Is Trinity/Trinity Is Still My Name/My Name Is Nobody - Spaghetti western comedies with clever, sharp characterizations and a rather drawing-room comedy effect.

Volunteers - A cross between a farce, social commentary and nihilistic comedy. Overlook the fact Tom Hanks can't keep an accent--in this case a Boston Brahmin one--straight, the dialogue and characterizations are razor-sharp. Besides, any comedy mocking Peace Corps volunteers and folk music deserves instant elevation to this Pantheon. Easily the most quotable of the underrateds.

More later.


* "Apple be buggered" if you're Poppy

Posted by Joke at 8:28 AM 4 comments

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Furniture crisis--solved! (I hope.)

Dear Reader,

Today, I--not being even the barest approximation of a progressive sort of husband--decided to get all proactive on the matter of our abysmal dining room furniture. I figured that, since Mother's Day is essentially at our throats, I should just go scoping around for something that met our basic criteria, my tastes AND which would not make TFBIM flee our house screaming like her hair was afire.

So, "what do things look on the far bank of the Rubicon?" I hear you asking. Like Master Yoda would say: "Patience!" The story is she went off with NTS (who was in a mighty pissy mood today I'll have you know) to shop for her gift to my MiL, and I took NOS after our Sunday round o' golf. We stopped at a few places (I'm quite expedient when I am on a mission) and seeing nothing which tingled my furniture nerves, I was feeling downcast until I walked by the Pottery Barn window. There it was. It seems a pretty acceptable, pretty Solomonic solution to our quandary and after ascertaining all the details I plunked plastic on the counter and effected purchase. This is it and this is the buffet, (everything is in the same shade as the buffet) with the china cabinet TBA.

What I wanted to do but realize it'd put TFBIM at the doorway with a dagger to her own throat was to get the buffet in black and then pair that up with a china cabinet made by this one topped by this other one. Or, perhaps this china cabinet, but I know that, in either case, black'd be a no-go. Alas. Even if I think it'd kick ass with all our silver & crystal bar things.

Oh, and I also got really cool miniature champagne buckets for individual splits of champagne or more likely--especially if you knew our crowd--bottles of bizarro microbrewed beer.

More on the cabinet situation as it develops.


P.S. Poppy, the bourbon TSMYM loved is called Woodford Reserve.

Posted by Joke at 4:09 PM 2 comments