Thursday, June 30, 2005

Not wildly inaccurate

Nicked from Badger:

Your Aries Drinking Style

Impulsive Aries people like to party and sometimes don't know when to call it a night.
Your competitive streak makes you prone to closing time shot contests.
You're a sloppy, fun drunk, and you get mighty flirty after a couple tipples.

Getting you drunk is a good way for people to get what they want out of you, should other methods fail.

You can become bellicose when blotto, but you will assume that whatever happened should be forgiven (if not forgotten) by sunrise.
You can be counted on to do the same for others -- so long as they haven't gone and done anything really horrible to you last night (ahem, sneaky Gemini!)

Your Signature Cocktails
Aries, born under the hot-stuff planet Mars, is the ruler of spicy food and red things -- and for balance, astrologers recommend they eat tomatoes, onions, olives and greens. That's right, Aries, you were born under the sign of the bloody Mary. Aries also rules grapefruit, and they've been known to kick back a salty dog and a sea breeze or two. For extreme hotcha, try a concoction with cinnamon liqueur in it.
Your Celebrity Drinking Buddies
Conan O'Brien, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Sarah Jessica Parker, David Letterman, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner, Jack Black, and Hugh Hefner.

What's Your Alcohoroscope?
P.S. The part about being a bellicose drunk is puzzlingly wrong. I am, a stupendously dull drunk, sitting there and grinning. I'm also not so big on that whole "what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" ethic.

Posted by Joke at 10:49 AM 6 comments

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Curiouser and curiouser...

On the VERY day Poppy gets her 1st minivan, TFBIM gets her very first Lilly Pulitzer ensemble...even down to the sandals. Plase disregard the disarray of the work-in-progress that is my home theatre.

Can two people turn into each other's pod person?

Posted by Joke at 9:53 PM 4 comments

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Just to bring you up to speed.

1- I'm still waiting for the 2nd silly sports car to arrive

2- I keep meaning to upgrade my cellphone, yet never do.

3- I am starting to re-re-reread the Harry Potter books, in expectation of Book 6.

4- I tell anyone contemplating a move to FL that, today, in my very nice suburb of Miami, it is 95F and 98% humidity and mosquitoes have just carried off a toddler. And we don't speak English.

5- Work has been pretty good this year, which brings a specific set of challenges. Normally I had a heavy and a light season and during the light season I hit the gym and played a lot of golf. The light season usually started in January and ran through August. But the light season this year started, say, Thursday. Normally my trouser size ranged between 32" (at the very end of my light season) and 34" (at the very end of my er, busy season) but since my busy season has extended, basically, six months beyond normal I have been fighting tooth and nail to hold fast to 34". Now that things have quieted down, I just started going back to the gym. This, in combination with not having to eat out with clients all the damned time, should bring me back in line, but just in case, I am doubling up my running. I have too much equity in my RLPL and Alan Flusser suits to do otherwise.

6- I have no idea where Poppy's gone off to, so quit asking me.

That is all.

Posted by Joke at 11:52 AM 4 comments

The death toll rises!

My pal "the Klinker" has reported his 3 month-old Mac laptop is dead.

Posted by Joke at 10:00 AM 0 comments

Monday, June 27, 2005

Big news, right?

INTJ -The Mastermind
You scored 18% I to E, 47% N to S, 90% F to T, and 21% J to P!
You are more introverted than extroverted. You are more intuitive than observant, you are more thinking based than feeling based, and you prefer to have a plan rather than leaving things to chance. Your type is best described by the word "mastermind", which belongs to the larger group called rationals. Only 1% of the population shares your type. You are very strong willed and self-confident. You can hardly rest until you have things settled. You will only adopt ideas and rules if they make sense. You are a great brainstormer and often come up with creative solutions to difficult problems. You are open to new concepts, and often actively seek them out.
As a romantic partner, you can be both fascinating yet demanding. You are not apt to express your emotions, leaving your partner wondering where they are with you. You strongly dislike repeating yourself or listening to the disorganized process of sorting through emotional conflicts. You see your own commitments as self-evident and don't see why you need to repeat something already expressed. You have the most difficulty in admitting your vulnerabilities. You feel the most appreciated when your partner admires the quality of your innovations and when they listen respectfully to your ideas and advice. You need plenty of quiet to explore your interests to the depth that gives you satisfaction.
Your group summary: rationals (NT)
Your type summary: INTJ

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 13% on I to E

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 64% on N to S

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 96% on F to T

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 9% on J to P
Link: The LONG Scientific Personality Test written by unpretentious2 on Ok Cupid

Posted by Joke at 4:50 PM 4 comments

Musical beds

You will wonder Dear Reader, WTF I'm doing, blogging away at FOUR-@#$%ing a.m. I have been ousted from my bed. I spent my Sunday doing a fanatical, obsessive/retentive detailing of the #1 car* and thus dissolved into slumber quite early (for me, anyway). At some point in the proceedings Numbah Two Son charged into our bed, shoving TFBIM closer to me. TFBIM is one of those slumber partners whose body temperature is easily 10 warmer than, in this case, mine. So I awaken, drenched in perspiration.** I shower, re-PJ myself, and see both wife and child sprawled all over the bed and my returning thereto will entail running the risk of waking up one or both. This is devoutedly to be avoided.

So I head off to the boys' room, only to see that Numbah One Son ws all lazy and fell asleep in the bottom bunk, leaving me with the choice of coming here and complaining or climbing the ladder.

Don't you feel more informed now?


* I know many of you coudn't give a rat's ass about this, but let's just say it involved 6 hours of my life and the automotive equivalent of a Sephora spree.

** Yes, I know, smokin' hot, right?

Posted by Joke at 4:13 AM 0 comments

Sunday, June 26, 2005

So hard to get good help these days...

As I rummage through my blogospheric markwelt, I have noticed that there has been a recent spate of bloggage regarding housekeepers. Diligent readers will recall we have had problems with our regular housekeeper, whose ovaries fell out or her fallopain tubes shot out her nose or something along those lines (they never tell me jack...they look at my Y chromosome and murmur it's some sort of "woman trouble" and that's all the info I'm ever gonna get) and for the last month we've been limping along with a friend's borrowed housekeeper, whom I have codenamed "The Scab."

She does an okay job, so no real complaints there. The thing of it is that she likes to put things where SHE thinks they ought go, not where we want them to go. Jewelry boxes, sweaters, shoes, kitchen gadgets, all find new digs when Scab comes to town. Since we're too damned busy wondering where all the pajama bottoms have gone off to, we do't have the time to make a mess and, therefore, the house stays cleaner longer.

Regardless of whose cleaning our house, Scab, Contra* (our regular), or Miss Gulch (her semi-illustrious predecessor), my wife has always had a weird relationship with housekeepers. TFBIM did not come from a family with housekeepers, but from a background of leading a housekeeper-free existence. As a consequence, I am often confronted with disturbing behaviors such as my wife cleaning BEFORE the housekeeper gets here. In fact, one of the biggest arguments we've ever had concernedmy outright refusal to clean prior to her arrival. This would be like showing up for surgery all shaved and prepped, sucking on the gas mask. I do not care what my housekeeper thinks of my housekeeping skills or the character required to exercise them if any.

Another disturbing scenario is finding TFBIM chatting and having coffee with Contra. Setting aside the fact we're paying (including the whole alphabet soup of taxes**) Contra to enjoy our lovely espresso, she is being distracted from performing the tasks required of her appointed rounds. Perhaps this is why TFBIM wants me to scrub the tub, so she may enjoy lovely beverages with a woman paid to do so.

Of course, anything weird TFBIM does can be topped by any one of her pals. Her pal "S" liked (or was intimidated by?) her housekeeper so much that, when S realized the HK in question was aging to the extent she was actually doing a VERY poor job, she hired another one. Then, when HK1 noticed someone had polished copper something (of which she had made a mental note) S had to scramble and lie. Then another incident popped up (the windows were washed!)and S had to lie again. My wife is pals with a woman who is cheating on her housekeeper with a younger housekeeper who can do things the other one can only dream of.

Anyway. That's the deal. Back to detailing my silly little sports car, and waiting for car #2's imminent arrival.


* Her husband was arrested by the Sandinistas one night and she is still waiting. Well, not REALLY waiting, but you get the idea.

** It is immoral, to say nothing of counterproductive, to dress like a Mohawk and fling one's housekeeper into the harbor in protest. Do not try this at home.

Posted by Joke at 4:44 PM 9 comments

God help me, I do love it so. (REVISED, sorta)

OK, the wedding.

On average, the wedding sucked. However, I was pleasantly surprised to see the suckitude was not thorough, noxious and complete. Herewith, a report:

As stated previously, I began libations early to establish a proper frame of mind before anything. This didn't please TFBIM. She wanted me to go--quite sober, mind you--and if I didn't have the force of character and willpower to actually make myself like the wedding, then at least fake it convincingly. "Honey," I explained, seeking to dispel dangerous notions from her mind "this way lies madness."

Then I dressed. I threw on my ivory linen suit, Bristol blue and white pinstriped shirt and a navy/purply-with-bits of gold tartan bow tie*. I'm not good at being noble, but I looked like an extra (a particularly rakish one, at that) from the road company of Casablanca. I only wished I had my Panama hat.

We had to take my MiL, since my FiL "hurt his knee" and couldn't go** and my MiL doesn't do the driving thing. This would work well, since my MiL is a legendary PITA and would begin to wheedle TFBIM really early and we'd be home in no time. So off we go, rushing to make the 6:30pm time.

Only to realize they meant 6:30pm Central time. Fortunately the resort where it was held is a VERY nice resort, and as such has a very nice bar which would permit me to reestablish my wavering buzz. How nice was the bar? A Balvenie Doublewood Single Malt Scotch on ice and a glass of Carneros Creek Pinot Noir ran us $36.33 including tip. I think I was the only guest to be drinking during the actual ceremony. Luckily for me, there was a 2 year old sitting in our row, and I was able to make faces to get him to laugh. That, and the tumbler of scotch, kept me in fine fettle during the whole ceremony.

Which reminds me, for those of you entertaining notions of a romantic wedding held at a lovely tropical resort by the sea: Your wedding video will be marred by joggers, windsurfers, fat guys on jet skis and boats and foghorns and all. Just thought I'd mention it.

The wedding was officiated by a very French French-Canadian Franciscan, who spent the whole time sweating like Michael Jackson under oath. The wedding was a civil sort of thing though, not a Catholic one, which is strange because I know for a fact, priests are not allowed to do any wedding outside a Catholic setting. (Even co-officiating a bi-faith thing takes reams of paperwork.) I mean, instead of the usual Bible readings, they read Kahlil Gibran! In 2005? WTF? This is the stuff you quote to Oberlin girls to try and score, people! Whatever.

Then came the cocktail hour. The bar set up therefor kinda sucked, though, with pretty slim pickings, liquor-wise, so I had to make do with Johnnie Walker Black Label. Feh. However, one part which verily didn't suck were the nibbles proffered during cocktail hour. Exceedingly yummy, even by my high standards. There were bits of chicken cooked in the fashion of coconut shrimp, with a great mango salsa; mini beef tenderloin*** kebabs with an herb-y/EVOOish/garlicky sauce, and a ceviche thing on fried polenta cracker. I loaded up on that, not knowing what dinner would bring, or, given the pace of the thing, when. The musical mood was set by guy on a saxophone accompanied by a karaoke machine.

One thing struck me as unusual. It was the first wedding, since my own, where the men in the wedding party wore morning coats. Granted, my wedding was at 9am and this one kicked off at "6:30pm" so that was weird, but, hey, we live in a pluralist society and all. The bride who, despite having the sort of personality which has never really imprinted itself upon my psyche, looked okay. Which is a pity, because she is actually an extremely pretty girl. She had colored her naturally (non-flaming) red hair a rather flat chocolate brown, and the dress consisted of a plain white satin skirt with a white satin corset. It looked like the sort of thing women used to wear as the 3rd-of-7 layers.

I also noticed that, even though the wedding was smallish, this one featured more women without dates than all other weddings I have attended, combined. It was really an impressive sight, and the groomspersons had the citadels of their manhood under assault almost from the second the recessional ended. Which is saying a lot, because that crowd seems to be a focal point for the body modification and alternative hairstyle movement.

The salad sucked. Mixed greens with a wedge of Brie (which had frozen to the plate) and a gorgonzola vinaigrette**** in case anyone suffered from a cheese deficiency. The main course was pretty OK, though; a chicken ballotine with tart-ish apples and wrapped in thick-cut bacon, with fried goat cheese dumplings. (Dr. Atkins would have approved.) The apple stuffing was no great shakes, but the rest of the plate was pretty good. Dessert was the wedding cake, and that was OK also.

By this point, I was Which was OK, because the music offered for our dancing pleasure verily sucked. How much? Groomspersons were able to breakdance, with mad breakdancin' skillz, that's how much the music sucked. So after cake, I began to goad the MiL, who began to pester TFBIM and, in no time, I was home!

Do not try this at home, kids.


* I wear bow ties when going to an event under duress. Except when the thing is a back tie thing.

** Yeah. Uh-huh. Right. Sure. Even if his knee IS hurt, I'm sure it's hurt in the way a coyote gnaws off his own leg.

*** A damned brilliant use for all the extra bits left over from the cutting of filet mignon

**** Seemed like regular blue cheese salad dressing to me, but I was not in peak judging form

Posted by Joke at 7:32 AM 2 comments

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Wherein I set in motion my fiendish plot

Dear Friends,

The wedding to be inflicted upon me approaches rapidly, like an insect inexorably drawn to my windshield when I am enjoing a spirited drive through what passes for the SoFla countryside. Therefore, in order to be innoculated--as best as one can--against vapidity, boredom and very poor taste, I have begun the cycle of libation.

In the last 42 minutes, I have managed to polish off a Moretti Birra Rossa and a Sam Adams Light* and, now that I ponder the matter, I think I shall have another go at a Sam. It is a wondrous thing to all of a sudden not dread the wedding. I'm still not looking forward to it, as that woud require a copious near-waterfall of ethanol and I haven't indulged the habit in such a manner in well over 20 years. In fact, last time I did, I wound up with a tattoo as well as completely lost in a bar where every patron was attired like one of the Village People. Demon rum indeed.

I should also admit I am using for teh first time, the damned spell check feature. I use it because although it borders on useless it's not an unalloyed waste of time and my wrting already suffers from my atrocious typing, so heaping ethyl-based misorthography is heaping insult upon injury.

The wedding will still proceed as I feared, with the mostly witless bride marrying the very NQOKD** groom under the most...erm...bucolic setting.

Bah. I sense my mellow self-harshing, I best get another Sam.


* Formerly and more felicituously known as "Lightship"

** In this case the "our kind" refers to people not likely to be a "Mara." Look it up.

Posted by Joke at 4:41 PM 2 comments

Friday, June 24, 2005

I recognize the symptoms, and I'm here to help.

I just got off the phone with a pal. He apologized for not having written in a while but he explained his iMac had suffered the second blown fetzerplex demodulator* in 6 months and he had just gotten the beast back from the Apple Store.

This brings a grand total of 5 people within my immediate circle who have had recurring problems with their Macs. However, they all allege they love the damned things. I have my theory, though, and that theory states these people don't so much love Macs as love the fact they are not Windows machines. To a person, they, of course, vehemently deny it.

But as I ruminated further on the matter, I recognized the thought process of the average Mac lover. It reminded me of the sort of car freaks who love old British sports cars. The old Jag-you-are, Triumph, MG cars, y'know. Their owners found many charms to these cars, but while such a thing is subjective (albeit quite valid), these cars also brought forth many problems...which is not. The cars would rust even if submerged under a foot of oil. The electrical systems range from the really strange to the outright nightmarish; so much so that John Lucas (the vendor responsible for such systems) was given the title "Prince of Darkness"**. The carburetors are impossible to keep synchronized and the complexity of the transmission's overdrive features would make Rube Goldberg turgid with arousal.

When things inevitably fall apart, you have to take it to a specialist, and pay $75 for what would be a $12 bit and wait an eternity. Road and Track had a brief quote to summarize the Britcar experience: "Don't drive a British car to work every day and expect to keep your job."

But in spite of the fact these cars are a blinding migraine to maintain, they have hardened partisans who will brook no disagreement. "These cars are great" they will say and then launch into a rosy bit of narration about a particularly excellent drive in one, punctuated by the fact nothing broke, fell off, shorted out or broke, shorted out and fell off. (Much like when a Mac user tell you s/he is burning a CD of songs from his/her iPod via cellphone.)

Part of the reason most adherents choose these cars with their appalling reliability issues (or, to be brutally honest, why I choose mine with their bewildering array of ergonomic issues***) is because they fit a lifestyle or one's preconception of one's lifestyle. When Apple ran that Brave New World/1984 Mac ad at the Super Bowl, they knew what they were doing. They said the Mac was the computer for "the rest of us" but they really meant was that here was a computer "not just for anybody, but for us." The fact Mac has such a piddly share of the market is proof of this. It was utterly brilliant. By coyly dropping the fact you're a Mac user, you provide the world with information about you. You'll notice that the ONLY time an author**** mentions the computer s/he used to write the book, is when said author used a Mac. What was the last time you read: "This book written and composed using a Hewlett-Packard Xenobius 6900, running Windows XPPro Plus."? You haven't and won't.

So Mac users of the world, unite. You have brethren under the skin whenever the Austin-Healy club meets like minded souls every time a Sunbeam Alpine has to have rust repaired. You didn't just buy a computer (or a car) but a whole lifestyle. And sometimes that's worth more than all the objective criteria anyone could bring up.

* Or whatever the fuck it was. While I faked it nicely, the whole explanation met with my apathy and ignorance, for I neither know nor care, what Apple bit chomped the big one yet again.

** Q: Why do the British drink warm beer? A: Because John Lucas makes the refrigerators.

*** Good luck trying to jump start my car, open the doors or trunk, lower the windows, or adjust the air conditioning without having read the voluminous--and charmingly translated--owner's manual.

**** And this motley bunch ranges from Alton Brown to Rush Limbaugh.

Posted by Joke at 1:21 PM 0 comments

Revenge of the Unwilling Guest

As you guys know full well, I have been roped into going to this wedding tomorrow night. I am going, despite my protests, howls, imprecations and laments. Since the toothpaste was irremediably out of the tube, I announced to She Who Sold Me Out that:

1- I would be arriving at the wedding in an ethanol-ameliorated way.
2- I'd gauge my beverage consumption to stay that way.
3- The whole thing would be blogged in the most pellucidly, pitiless detail. None shall be spared and no kindness extended. I will out all the guests with that ::cough, cough:: auburn hair.
4- I'm going to wear my Pimp Faux-lex Watch.
a) The story behind this watch is that a certain relative of TFBIM went out one day and bought himself a diamond-encrusted Rolex for $6K. While $6K isn't a whole bloody lot to pay for a collectible watch--the "Paul Newman" Rolex Oyster Daytona Cosmograph usually goes for $60K--it struck me as a lot of coin to look like someone in P. Diddy's entourage or a member of teh roadcompany of The Sopranos. I then asked my BiL to grab me a replica thereof next time he went to Hong Kong. Which he did. The real and fake are identical. Only mine cost $20.
5- I'm going to wear a "guayabera."
a) Normally, I wouldn't wear a guayabera to a dogfight.
b) Here in SoFla--in some quarters--a long sleeved, cufflinked guayabera is considered equivalent to a dark suit. So a lot of events end up looking like the opening session of the Philippines' parliament.

The guayabera is iffy though, as I'd have to borrow one, to say nothing of TFBIM shooting me while I showered. In that case, I'll wear a bow tie which is my default "protest apparel."

Although the bride is someone for whom I don't particularly have any feelings, I do not wish her ill. In fact, I wish this marriage, like all her subsequent marriages, is a happy one.

Posted by Joke at 12:54 PM 0 comments

Underrated films Part 2

I'm in the process of redoing the Home Theatre Room. As part of that process, I had to rewire stuff which'd been dormant since we moved in in August 2003. Numbah One Son made a specific request to have the old laserdisc (LD) player hooked up, since he wanted to see Star Wars*, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

So one day I'm ensconced back there blogging and e-shopping and so forth when it dawns on me that I can watch some films I hadn't seen in ages. So I popped in The Endless Summer II. For inadequately explored reasons, this film is on widescreen in LD but only on the dreaded pan-and-scan (P&S) on DVD. WTF?

At any rate, this film was, at the time when LD was the hot ticket, the reference film I used for evaluating LD players and TV sets. The cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. You will sit there, agape, looking at flawless footage of Fijian coral reefs or Costa Rican beaches or even some lunatic named Laird Hamilton surfing waves the size of a 6 story building. But, technical characteristics aside, this is a great film qua film.

Much of the credit goes to director, co-editor, co-producer, narrator and documentary (& surfing) legend Bruce Brown. His narration is suffused with gentle-but-not-lame humor** and the main characters, Wingnut and Patrick, are engaging and likeable. The locations, ranging from Costa Rica to France to South Africa to Australia, are spectacular. The adventures which envelop the surfing are also engrossingly fun. The film itself is part sequel, part remake and part homage to the original The Endless Summer, the highest grossing documentary of all time.

You needn't be a surfer to love this film. Watch it.


* What's with this "A New Hope" bullshit?
** There's one pan shot that passes over a guy with lo-o-o-ong blond dreadlocks surfing, and struggling to keep the world visible, and the voiceover comment was "...practical hairstyle for surfing..."

Posted by Joke at 10:30 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Porno Grill (A Love Story)

For those among you who are maladjusted I have a Porno Grill.

Mine has the simpler left-center-right 3-burner setup with the optional side burner for sauteeing or boiling, etc., neither of which is shown in the photo from the website whence teh grill came.

The porno grill has served me well for the last not-quite-two years. One of the advantages of being me is that I learned how to transpose my obsessive, fanatical care & maintenance from, say, cars or home theatre to, for example, furniture or porno grills.

So the porno grill gets cleaned with Griot's stainless cleaner and the cast iron burners get rubbed with a mixture of lecithin and canola. And then JoeFest rolls around and I am able to--quite easily--feed the crowd of revelers. Not like grabbing a few loaves and fishes and giving a nosh to 5,000 (plus wives and kids), but still, not bad.

The downside to being me is that there is always room for improvement in everything I see. The porno grill could use a warming rack to bring the cooking surface from 600 sq. in. to almost 1000 sq. in. and also to move foods that have already been seared off to a less intense heat where they may continue cooking at a more relaxed pace.

It goes without saying that, living in a place blessedly free of winter, it's pretty much grilling season the whole year through. One could even do so in a monsoon or hurricane, although the griller would suffer worse than the grill. A lot of cultures get mish-mashed in SoFla and almost all of them are pretty grill-intensive. Brazilians argue with Nicaraguans about the best way to grill churrasco* and Argentines argue with both. Old-time Floridians arge with recently arrived Cubans about slow-roasting pork. Jamaicans and Haitians debate the merits of jerk vs. boucane** and that doesn't even get into the matter or sauces or vegetables.

Add to the mix the grilling styles of Europe and Asia, and you can see the allure of it all.

But what REALLY want is to convert the grill to run on natural gas (to which we'll convert our kitchen when it gets redone later this year) and then replace the side burner with a wok burner, upping the relatively sedate 12K BTU output to a that's-more-like-it 50K BTU jet-engine.

But first, I gotta find that damned warming rack.


* A large steak
** Pretty much the same thing, for our purposes.

Posted by Joke at 10:38 AM 2 comments

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Why me?

My beloved has just sprung it onme that my weekend will be defiled by having to attend a wedding. A wedding between two people, one of whom I couldn't care less about and the other whom I actively dislike, in a place I don't like, at a most inconvenient hour.


Posted by Joke at 10:02 PM 6 comments

Geeky, but fun

The Sorting Hat has spoken! You've got 46 House Points!
Head of House: Professor Flitwick

House Colors: Blue and Bronze

House Animal: Eagle

The imminent Ravenclaw chose her students based on pure smarts... and you have that... you are one smart puppy. Good to have in a pinch. Perhaps there are more important things than books and studying though... However, I still salute you... you make life better for all of us. Ravenclaw is known for it's intellectuals!

Some students of Ravenclaw House... Padma Patil, Terry Boot, Stewart Ackerly

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

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 6% on House Points
Link: The Hogwarts Sorting Hat Test written by Demeratus on Ok Cupid

Posted by Joke at 12:37 AM 0 comments

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Things without which you oughtn't live. Pt. 3

Don't touch that dial...This may seem like it's another tedious ramble about beautiful, rare, vintage Italian sports cars. But it's not.

Sure, it began--as almost all does with me these days--with a beautiful, rare, vintage Italian sports car. In this case, we're talking about Car #1 and the things that are needed to bring it up to better-than-new condition. One of those things which need a slight bit of attention is the leather upholstery.

Once the leather and its original owner part company, it begins to deteriorate. The tanning process forestalls that to a great degree, but it's still riding the Entropy Express. Eventually the stresses of environmental and human (and canine and...) contact will get any leather to crack, harden, flake, split and otherwise get ruined. This applies especially to furniture and shoes, etc.

The best thing you can do is prevent this and the best way to prevent this is using Leatherique. Mind you, their website looks as if it was designed by a particularly talented 3rd grader back in 1998 and their spelling is abysmal. But this stuff is, frankly, amazing. No, scratch that. Miraculous. If this stuff had been around 2000 years ago, everyone would have had a tough time believing they weren't the ones responsible for Lazarus snapping-to.

This is what I did. I took out my car (the one with the still-okay leather) in the hot SoFla sun, as per instructions and smeared it with Rejuvinator (sic) Oil. They say to do this by hand, but I used a special detailing sponge (Saving $3 is not worth the risk of absorbing some bizarro chemical through my skin). Coat the leather VERY well. Leave it where the leather will get very warm (for you Tropically Impaired readers, you can put the shoes, etc. next to the source of heat in the winter) for about a day. When you return, the surface will be covered in a grey/grit/slime/mold layer. Yes, utterly, inexpressively gross. You then use Prestine (sic) Clean to wipe this crud off. The crud is all the stuff the leather has absorbed thoughout its stint as a seat, shoe, or pocketbook. The Oil forces itself into the leather fibers and, with the heat of the warm room (or car cabin) expands, pushing all this vile, repulsive shit back out through the pores of the leather. Your leather will be NEW. It will be supple, soft, gloriously smooth and have that fresh scent that transports you back to the Church's store in London.

This is the stuff that people use to rejuvenate leather for Pebble Beach, Greenwich, etc. Look at it another way...if this is good enough for a $27,000,000 1934 Ferrari* Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza, it surely is good enough for your piddly $15K Birkin.

You need this.


* Mr. Ferrari was an employee of Mr. Romeo. He left in a huff and thus escaped being nationalized by Mussolini.

Posted by Joke at 11:03 AM 3 comments

Uh-oh. (Revised and expanded)

If you want to see what I've gotten myself into...

-Joke, maniac and soon to be manslaughter-ee

Posted by Joke at 10:44 AM 0 comments

I'm beggin' ovah heah.

SOMEONE, please tell me how to fix this damned template so my links and all that are at the top and stuff. This is seriously pissing me off.

Posted by Joke at 10:35 AM 7 comments

Monday, June 20, 2005

Uh oh.

Today I finalized the process of getting my new-to-me car shipped down. If it all works according to plan, it ought arrive in about a week.

Now, this car is not, like my other previous cars, in sterling, better-than-new shape. I mean, it's OK, but it needs a lot of little things. Here's where the "uh-oh" comes in, though. For reasons beyond the scope of this blog, I have embarked in the daunting task of restoring it. Not merely restoring it to a pristine state, but restoring it to European specifications. To those of you who have some affinity for cars: Don't sit there with that glazed, slack-jawed look on your face. To this who do not: Suffice it to say those readers who have some affinity for cars are sitting there with a glazed, slack-jawed look on their faces, stunned and disbelieving.

The task at hand is especially difficult for the following reasons:

1- We're talking about a car produced in very small numbers.
2- We're talking about a car imported into the USA in even smaller--ridiculously so--numbers.
3- We're talking about getting pieces that were never imported by the factory into the USA.

Some of the work has already been done, such as getting the European engine, which is almost, but not exactly, like the USA engine. It gets better mileage, has a LOT more power and lower emissions; the brain-damaged EPA processes*, howe'er, made it damned near impossible for this engine to come here.

How these engines (there is a 3 engine minimum) got here is a whole blog unto itself. Suffice it to say that Signore Gallizia, procurer of engines is a master not only of engines, but also of the equivocal answer and time delay, to the extent that from the moment I placed the order and paid for the engine, the Euro went from $1.18 to $1.39. So those nine fuckin' months weren't a total waste of my time. At least the engines are here. Except that mine was missing some bits.

These bits have been found and are winging their way here from:

New Zealand

Remember, we're still only dealing with the engine. We still have to address transmission, suspension, paint, body (oh, yeah, the hood on the Euro models was different), wheels, electrical system, air conditioning (most Euro models didn't have it), the folding convertible top, the folding convertible top's frame, the hardtop (most Euro models had it and good luck finding it), the interior (In Europe the interior was usually all Connolly leather and Wilton wool carpeting, whereas in the land of Le Archi D'Oro, vinyl and nylon held sway) and finally all the assorted miscellaneous trim bits.

What am I in store for? I'm guessing 1 year of schlepwork and sticker shock. If you spend any time going to the various Concours/Concorso type events (Amelia Island, Pebble Beach, Greenwich, etc.) you will note that almost all the car owners are divorced. My wife being a pious woman, this is not a concern for me. Manslaughter, however, is.

As opposed to restoring a house, this will involve a cubic assload of work. For my readers who have not much affinity for cars this is equivalent to getting acceptable replacements for your makeup were all the components of your beauty regimen to be, quite suddenly discontinued. (To my car geek readers: This scenario is like having to find a NOS gas cap for the GTV-6 with the original key set. By tomorrow.) Now imagine if half of these acceptable replacements cost $500 an ampule or a pan or tube.

Oy is me.


* The costs associated with getting a better, cleaner engine certified as USA compliant were simply not worth it to a small producer.

Posted by Joke at 8:59 PM 2 comments

Sunday, June 19, 2005

"Today is Fathers' Day" or "You're imPOSSible!"

Have you seen that commercial for some cellular ("mobile" to my Britpals) phone company where some guy (Guy 1) arrives at another guy's (Guy 2) office to compare Fathers' Day gifts? The one where Guy 1 is sportin' a 5" wide purple tie with "#1 Dad" in twinkly pink rhinestones? And Guy 2 takes a picture of it with his snazzoid new cellphone and sends it to everyone? That one? Seen it?

Well, stop and consider for a moment that, if Guy 1's children were not of gift-purchasing age, it was Mrs. Guy 1 who likely plunked down coin for the hideous tie. This, of course is the part where the punchline "Well, I'm Guy #1" normally apears in thebetter sortof blog. I was inclined to use it, except that's not accurate. I'm NOT Guy #1. More like Guy #1.25-and-change.

I think it's a great testament to love to be married and still in love with someone who is a lousy-- or, at best--seriously impaired in the capacity of gift-giver.

What usually distinguishes the lousy gift-giver from the gift giver who has merely given the odd clunker are:

1- The utter inability to pay attention to what the giftee really enjoys
2- A vow (inevitably fruitless) to REALLY pay attention this time

We will not, for the moment, hold forth on the spectacular sort of lousy gift-giver. Such people are driven by a mordant, passive-aggressive streak that manifests itself in gifts of appalling cheapness or worse in gifts prefaced by "I know you don't have anything like this."* Let's leave that aside for now. Anyway, the mating of lousy gift-giver is normally rough, but is compounded when the other half of the couple is a PITA for whom to shop.

However, nobody is really impossible to shop for. Some giftees require greater sleuthing, attention and effort. This, of course, is were the lousy gifter goes off the cliff in a blaze of flaming splinters. An exercise to illustrate:

Person X collects pocket watches and loves Droopy. It is Person X's _5th birthday (one of those big, important ones). You are Person Y and wish to get Person X a particularly nice gift. What do you do?

1- Do a little bit of detective work to see what sort of pocket watches X likes and get X something to go with the collection or, if that's prohibitive, some accessory (a vintage bit of literature on the watch, etc.) thereto.

2- Find some cool, or hard-to-find, or whimsical (depending on X's outlook) Droopy collectible.

3- Find a pocket watch (or Droopy item) YOU think is nice which, naturally, X "will simply adore."

4- Buy X a Droopy pocket watch.

Another vexation for the giftee are gifts that leave one, frankly, puzzled. One Christmas, my parents--who have never gone 2 months without seeing me--gave me a beard trimmer even though I do not, nor have I ever had, nor ever contemplated having the merest suggestion of facial hair. They also gave me a quesadilla maker that year.

This year I have been jonesing for a combination panini press and waffle iron. I am also a sucker for double-sided cufflinks, and have been wanting to get some in white gold/sterling/platinum.

Don't ask.


*Unless you're speaking of something wildly beyond the giftee's budget there is usually a GREAT reason why the giftee has nothing like it.

Posted by Joke at 10:54 AM 4 comments

Friday, June 17, 2005

Foodie Philosophy

Now that we're on a foodie vein (What? We are!) I'd like to illuminate the two main camps of foodieness to which you can belong. No, you may not belong to both simultaneously, although some moderate hopping around is, in fact, permitted.

The two basic* camps are the Optimizers and the Authenticators. Let's take a very simple dish, oh, say, spaghetti and marinara sauce, and examine how each group deals with it.

The optimizer will focus on:
1- What brand of spaghetti
2- The differences in size between brands
3- Exactly how long to boil the pasta
4- How much water to use
5- How much salt to the boiling water
6- The proportion of tomato-to-garlic-to-oil
7- Which type of tomato (Roma or San Marzano**?) is better
8- What form (aseptic, canned, jarred, fresh) should the tomato take
9- The proportion of sauce to pasta

The optimizer reads Cook's Illustrated religiously and Alton Brown is the optimizer's hero.

The authenticator has entirely different concerns, such as:
1- What village in Calabria invented spaghetti with marinara?
2- Are there seasonal variations to the recipe?
3- What is the oldest recipe extant for spaghetti with marinara?
4- Can I find some ancient, wizened Italian grandmother to show me exactly how to make it?
5- What tomes of culinary anthropology can I read to make sure the ancient grandmother is spot-on?
6- What is the etymology of spaghetti? of marinara?
7- What restaurant serves the "real McCoy?"
8- What ingredients are the authentic ingredients they use Over There?
9- Where can I find these?

The authenticator reads Saveur Magazine religiously and David Rosengarten is the authenticator's hero.

As their names attest, the optimizer wants to cook something the "best" way whereas the authenticator wants to cook something the "real" way. The authenticator is into the geography of the place; he wants to travel to taste things. The optimizer wants to shop and sample a dizzying array of different foodstuffs and experiment with subtle variations, to get into the chemistry of the dish.

If forced to choose, I'd say I'm among the optimizers. Not for any temperamental reasons, but for practical ones. While it'd be great to cook a bouillabaise like some housewife in Provence, I do not have access to the same stuff in the same condition, nor--even if I had!--am I suffused with the time required to do this. Given that real limitations exist to my being able to feasibly replicate something, I'm more inclined to see how I can best approximate something here in the wilds of suburban Miami.

In closing, it must be said there is a certain subgroup who can only be called "the obsessives." Regrettably, I have often had to go twelve steppin' to escape this mindset, with modest results. The obsessive is usually an optimizer, but can be either. An obsessive is not content to find the best bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and bread and decipher the best way to make a BLT. No-o-o, my friends. The obsessive, in the full throes of the mania, will grow his own organic tomatoes and hydroponic lettuce, make his own mayonnaise from organic, free-range eggs (from his own hens if given half a chance) and the most recent Ligurian EVOO, bake his own Pullman loaf of bread and, far more often than you'd think, cure and smoke his own bacon. Only zoning issues prevent him from turning into a swineherd.

The obsessive is after a climactic, life-altering experience. The obsessive wants each bite to be a XXX experience, but can rarely enjoy himself, because he is usually doing a post-mortem*** of whatever he's just prepared.

If I have helped you in your path of self-discovery, I've done my job.


* The myriad subtypes will drive you mad, so let's just leave it here for now.
** Who knew Marzano was a saint?
*** "Should I have braised this in the oven or on the stove? Maybe white pepper would have been better?"

Posted by Joke at 8:33 AM 9 comments

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Humor me, will ya?

The whole scope of the thing is beyond the boundaries of this here blog entry but let's just say that my ever moving Laughin' Place is now vacationing in Italy. I'll give you the Cliffs Notes of the thing before I skip to the punch line.

I'm rummaging on eBay for Alfa Romeo bits to finish the restoration of my amazingly silly and impractical cars* when one auction in particular caught my eye and it was for a 2-week vacation in Italy for two (minus airfare which is fine because I have eleventy gazillion miles on Delta) in a vintage Alfa Romeo Duetto. You get two weeks in a cottage in the region of Lazio, about an hour's drive from Rome, amid lush vineyards, "yadda-yadda-yadda...Starring Diane Lane." While the starting bid ($1800) is more than renting the car and cottage separately it got me started.

So I rummaged around to find charming townhouses in medieval hill towns, cottages in the various wine regions, villas in the mountains...all that. And the prices, even with the ghastly dollar** were quite reasonable. Y'know...4 bedroom condo in the Piazza di Spagna area of Rome going for a piddly €1100/week. One of these places we found (a 3/1 townhouse in a gorgeous hill town in the Montepulciano wine country) was for sale and for a mere €79,000 exclusive of bribery and the required payment for the services of the "notaio," the "geometro" and an additional 187 arcane professionals.

So we sat down and half-looked and half-fantasized at the whole "vacation home in Italy thing" and agreed that:

1- We could go to Italy next summer (2006 for those of you reading this via the screen of your time travel pods) and see what's what. We figure Numbah Two Son should be ready for a transatlantic hop by then.

2- Upon our return, if everything else seems pretty good we could start nosing around and see if any Outright Steals pop up. The notion of paying €5M for a collection of rubble where one of the Borgias had an attack of gout in 1344 is not something for which we are hoping.

3- We'd like something relatively close to my relatives in Italy*** but we're willing to be reasonable about this. TFBIM also has some long-distant cousins somewhere in Lazio or Abruzzo, but that'd take a bit of sleuthing to suss out.

Anyway all this Italy on the brain, especially in the summer has the bunch of us going at a fever pitch. It was kicked into hyperdrive when our friends (and Certified For Real Italian Citizens) Roberto & Chiara were talking to us about going back to visit family in Palermo. Chiara was explaining to TFBIM how life is lived in Italy in summer. TFBIM's eyes were glazed over in rapture, looking like a Madonna sitting down on a particularly comfy chair.

So that brings us to last night. NOS decided we all needed to "start practicing" the Italy thing, and he had read in some book he'd bought at the school's book fair how Italians eat. Anyway, Next thing I know, NOS was cranking the pasta machine (he is quite well-suited for this operation) and a bottle of Valpolicella**** was coming out. I "food processor-ed" some eye o' round (not a whole lot), with a bit of onion and celery and garlic until everything was the size of an aspirin. Browned off (the beef is pretty lean stuff) with a spot of EVOO, I added a bit of dried oregano***** and sea salt and black pepper and then the vegetable matter and when that was soft, some tomatoes from the garden previously crushed and milled--and jarred & refrigerated!. If you must, like normal people, make do with store-bought crushed tomatoes, you MUST get the aseptically packed "Pomi" brand. Anyway...Bolognese...done.

I had some stale ciabatta, so that was toasted and rubbed with garlic and topped with crushed olives (with a bit of caper) or grilled eggplant & hotish pepper or leftover sauteed porcini that was chopped pretty fine. Antipasti...done.

But my fave thing was going to the garden and grabbing dead-ripe miniature plum tomatoes from the vine and tossing them with fresh teeny mozzarella balls (called "ciliengine" or cherry...sometimes you can find them by "bocconcini" or little mouthfuls) and fresh basil snipped from our shrub, all dressed with a bit of sea salt and EVOO.

The fettuccine took no time to crank and cut and they cook in, literally, nanoseconds. Toss with the bolognese, shred some parmigiano atop and serve. Dessert: Cantuccini and amaretti with capuccino (made according to Poppy's most excellent "cheat") .

Therefore, expect much Italo-foodie rambling from me for the foreseeable future. Probably to worsen when the car gets here.

La vita e dolce.


* You often find gigabuck stuff for pennies because the seller was dumb enough to let his spell-checker change "Alfa" to "Alpha" and the auction got no traffic.

** Although it IS getting a bit better.

*** The relatives in SPain might howl, though.

**** Tommaso Bussola 2003 Valpolicella Classico BG...a STEAL for $15.

***** For sauteeing/browning, dried is better than fresh. Order it from Penzey's.

Posted by Joke at 9:58 AM 2 comments

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Well, this is weird.

As the more assiduous* among my readership are doubtlessly aware, my wife (TFBIM) and I are always at loggerheads when it comes to matters of decor. For example, when we went through the whole matter of putting down the oriental rugs we'd bought, she originally put the rugs in places rather different than they are now. Appalled at this, I rose from my sickbed, struggling against the NyQuil which held me in its thrall, and put the rugs where they remain to this very day, as herein detailed previously. My reasoning--and quite impressive and sound reasoning it is--was that the darker rug should go in the (darker) living room, where it could pick up the hunter green of the draperies and highlight reddish tones of the leather furniture and, basically lend that clubby air to the space. The lighter rug, naturally went into the family room which, as Poppy will readily attest, has a huge (20' or so) expanse of glass looking over the back garden and given its (mostly) southern exposure gets flooded with sunlight. The pinkish and blue/navy tones shot through the rug dovetail nicely with the pinkish tinge of the terracotta tile and the navy and blue "azulejo" tile inserts. Damn nice, if I do say so my damn self.

This, of course, is a great vexation to my wife, whose spheres of friendship are littered with women who decorate as they see fit and husbands who cheerfully pay for the whole thing. It is a greater vexation when reality compels her to admit that I was right.

Anyway, during the rug-purchasin' process I had spied this collection (it has more pieces than I'm willing to upload to this blog, but this'll give you an idea):

To put in our family room. I brought back the flyer and put it in my beloved's stack o' stuff.

TFBIM: What's this?
Me: It's a thing I picked up at the store when I was buying the rugs.
Me: Well, you were whining-slash-hinting that you wanted to jettison our current family room furniture and I thought you should see this.
TFBIM: You mean replace our current furniture with this?
Me: Yes. I had to marry you since you are the rare sort of woman who could crystallize my thoughts perfectly.
TFBIM: It's nice, I like it.
Me: [My disbelieving brain makes a startled, rattling sound audible only to me] Good.
TFBIM: Is it expensive?
Me: [Still addled by incredulity] Nah. Most of the pieces are on sale, even.
TFBIM: We should get it, then.

Wait a minute. Is someone losing his or her grip here? Or mirable dictu, is TFBIM edging closer to the point where she can admit, publicly, that I may actually know WTF I am doing/talking about? Of course, I am leaving skidmarks on the pavement to take her up on her offer before the pod person gets swapped back for my real wife.


* Not deciduous.

Posted by Joke at 10:00 AM 6 comments

Pimp my ride, Eye-talian style.

This will make nobody laugh, except me and, seeing as how this is my blog here goes:

Posted by Joke at 9:50 AM 4 comments

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Yes, I'm straight...sheesh

This isn't the first time this happens. While TFBIM had another in her interminable series of meetings for one of her nearly-infinite number of organizations to which she belongs, I took the boys out to dinnah. In these circumstances, Johnny Rocket's suggests itself, no so much for the grub, which is y'know, OK, but because there's mighty good shopping nearby and Daddy has several Williams-Sonoma (WS) Gift Cards (GC) to burn.

Alas, there was precious little to capture my interest at WS, but at Pottery Barn (PB) they were--quite inexplicably, if'n you ask me--having a sale. The End of Spring or something equally puzzling, but hey, I'm all about the free market and if there's something I want cheaper than usual, I'll cheerfully shake Adam Smith's Invisible Hand.

As it turns out they had a few area rugs on "Final Clearance!" which to me implies buy them or the KGB will shoot them. In fact, the clearance (as opposed to the finality, of which I remain dubious) was so impressive, I bought more than we have room for. Yes, I will out myself as being a slavering whore for 85% discounts on oriental* rugs.

Check this rug out. (The one I got has khaki & tan instead of the navy & cranberry shown). Since our new dining table stretched out 110" (as opposed to our previous, paltry 68") I plunked coin for the 8' x 10' rug, to replace the current 5' x 8' rug, which has since been banished awaiting some future reassignment.

Originally $1399.99...down to $249!

This one (a respectable 5' x 8') replaces the smallish (4' x 6') one in our living room--since shuttled off to our family room--except in our new rug, the khaki is sort of a dark teal and the light blue magically becomes navy.

Originally $1099...down to $165.

I rule.

Apparently so think the personnel of PB, who aparently have very rigid notions (hey! no snickering!) about a guy who goes in there by himself. Don't even get me started on the whole "wearing a wristwatch on the right" thing.

-Joke, convinced cheapness is the 6th Sense

* Hey, that's what they are called. Don't be hatin' on me.

Posted by Joke at 3:49 PM 2 comments

Things Without Which You Oughtn't Live, Pt. 2

People, you need this:

I'm sure a more exhaustive search would yield even more wildly artisanal, obsessively-churned butter. Y'know, something made of raw milk from Andalusian Cebu cows, who pasture on organic lavender fields in Humboldt County, churned at the full moon by sensitivity-trained Breton grandmothers, wrapped in sustainably mined aluminum foil and packaged in cartons made from 100% post-consumer recycled hemp fiber with 100% organic soy ink printing.

But it still wouldn't taste any better than this stuff.

Mind you, this is not a butter for sauteeing or baking sweet goods (I like the "European Style" Land O' Lakes for that). But for savory baking or making sauces or smearing thickly on breadstuffs, it simply CANNOT be beat. You can even find it in the better sort of supermarket and the price is not out of line with regular butter.

You're welcome.

Posted by Joke at 6:28 AM 6 comments

Yes, I *know*

My links have evaporated. Am working on fix.

Please hold.

Posted by Joke at 5:05 AM 0 comments

Friday, June 10, 2005

Because Badger made me. REVISED

Your Deadly Sins

Greed: 60%
Lust: 60%
Sloth: 40%
Pride: 40%
Envy: 20%
Gluttony: 20%
Wrath: 10%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 34%
You'll die at the hands of peasants.
This is new based on the information Badger gave me that one could click on more than one answer. It doesn't make any damned sense to me, either, but one has to play along with one's pals.

Posted by Joke at 11:49 AM 7 comments

Imagine, if you'd be so kind...

...that you're a girl. For some of you, gentle reader(s), this oughtn't be much of a stretch. But, for those among you who may not be, play along. Okay? Good.

Now, imagine that all of a sudden it's "that time of the month" and you are cramping so hard your pelvis seems in imminent dangert of cracking. Got that? Excellent.

Further imagine you go to your friendly neighborhood drugstore to purchase some analegesic which allegedly brings to bear some measure of relief to your crampitude. How would you feel if the aisles only beheld pills and capsules directed at prostate health? The more enlightened among you would say "OK, sure, healthy prostates are, by and large, a good and lovely thing...but that doesn't solve MY problem."

That, dear friends, is the situation facing a man who wants to get a new skin/template for his blog. EVERYTHING out there is one of four things:

1- Insulin-blastingly cute. Duckies, bunnies, babies, puppies. Yeah, exactly.
2- Hip chick. Those stylized "shopping girl/diva" illustrations.
3- Hello Kitty and similar. (There is an appalling large subset of Anime-flavored skins, too)
4- The TigerBeat. Lots of cute, future entertainment footnotes, with pouty lips and professionally disheveled hair.

Equal skins, for equal blogs!

Posted by Joke at 10:54 AM 2 comments


Those who know me best know I am an absolute whore for vintage sports cars. These same folks know that I am, likewise, an utter strumpet when it comes to watches (Poppy is good and sick of hearing about my three Chopard Mille Miglias, Swiss Army Disney watch, Cartier Tank, TAG Heuer Formula, Heuer Carrera, Heuer Monaco to say nothing of the vintage pocket watches) . Furthermore, my favorites in the former category are all Alfa Romeo and in the latter, Chopard.

Imagine how many pairs of Band-Aids I've had to affix under my shirt when I saw this:

Here's a better look at the face of the piece itself:

(Yes, the car in the ad is the very same model as the one in my blog entry.)

My very favorite car in all of history, commemorated by my favorite watch company in honor of my favorite recurring automotive event?


A mere $4175!

Posted by Joke at 12:21 AM 0 comments

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Slowly, but surely...

A long time ago, like 1998, there was a wholesome, respectable suburban housewife with strong tinges of intellectualism. Then, one day in April of said year, Poppy met me. Little by little, I have have ensnared her in my web. Sure, she may not listen to me and reply "Yes, Svengali" but I've gotten her to the point where she IS saying "Oh, why not, Svengali...I mean, really, what the Hell, right?"

Back when this wholesome example of hip and modern womanhood ran into me, she didn't have (or even care about, if you'll credit it) a home theatre. Hell, I don't even know if she had ever bothered to connect her VCR. Today she has a pretty sweet rig and dreams of redoing her basement with a big marquee reading "Bijou." At one point she was a sophisticated world traveler, seven years later she has visited Disney theme parks no less than 11 times.

And where once she had a Saturn in which electrical components dangled freely with precarious insouciance, she now has a sweet VeeDub AWD Passat "estate" and is loving life with burled walnut and leather every-damn-where and a car that actually changes its rate of progress when she applies her Belgian Loafer firmly to the long, skinny pedal on the right.

What's next? While the conventional wisdom says she'll soon be saying "Oh, fuck Apple!", my prediction will be that by 2009, she'll be arrested for civil disobedience, and the TV news will capture her ringing mezzo tones singing "We Shall Overcome" while linking arms with other Libertarians in front of the IRS building.

Posted by Joke at 11:59 PM 0 comments

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I Married A Fragile Narcoleptic

When you have been committing matrimony for over a decade you learn certain things about your immortal beloved that you never knew when you said "I do." It is, obviously, that there are no good surprises in a marriage. Some are less bad than others, sure. Here's mine (it's pretty mild, so no need to call lawyers or anything).

The punch line--joke to follow--is that my wife has no stamina compounded by a narcoleptic nature that would shock anyone except Poppy. Example: Our housekeeper went back to visit her family and left the week before Easter. When she was midvisit, she felt bad, and was admitted to the hospital where they found some Serious Woman Trouble that needed emergency surgery and that knocked her out of commission until...uh...Monday, May 31, when she was allowed to return to SoFla. She still needs a month to recuperate. Guess how long our house has done without professional cleaning and looking after? Do the math. Anyway, TFBIM, unable to take it any longer, decided to do the job herself. Being an amateur in this field, it took her twice as long as our housekeeper (6 vs. 3 hours) AND she was fast asleep by 8:30pm and slept until 9:30am. This proved insufficient to deal with the exhaustive trauma and she turned in, a living wreck, about 20 min. ago.

Posted by Joke at 9:16 PM 3 comments

Like Alfred from the Batcave

OK, so yesterday I get a call from Poppy. She and Mr. Poppy are off buying cars since both of their cars have kicked both of their respective buckets. She is at Dealership X, looking at Car Y and the salesvermin says the sticker price is $Z4,995. The car is a lease return, has only 24K miles, all wheel drive (important, since Poppy lives in the tundra and, as we speak, a documentary with the working title Nanook of the Suburbs is being filmed about her) and a few other goodies.

I explain to her that as a starting point for negotiating, $Z4,995 isn't bad. Of course, she oughtn't, in a fit, pay anywhere near that. With Poppy in my ear and my laptop on my, er, lap, I consult and verify and tell her (subsequently texting her to confirm) that her max price ought be $Z1,000 at dead worst IF the car has a factory (none of this aftermarket warranty...those suck mightily, AMHIK) warranty AND is fully loaded. Poppy takes her leave of my ear, since she has left Mr. Poppy alone with the salesvermin and given he is a gentle, caring soul, there seems to be a fear he'll just cave to avoid confrontation.

Poppy returns and begins to negotiate. The "showing of the invoice" (as bogus a bit of commercial showpersonship as can be imagined) leaves her unmoved. She is firm and Poppy, via a few well chosen epithets and snappy retorts, gets her price.

It is, of course, a poorly kept secret that the relationship between a car buyer and a car salesvermin is quite adversarial. There are a many techniques to distract the buyer from this fact, most famously Ye Olde "Let me talk to my manager." The fact is the salesvermin knows, beforehand, exactly how much the car can be sold for and s/he has full authority to sell that car without consulting anyone. The invoice is another scam. The fact is you are looking at an INVOICE, not at what the dealership paid. (This is especially scammy in the case of a lease return or trade-in car) The invoice doesn't refect the various incentives the dealer gets and it doesn't reflect what the dealer has actually paid. Truth of the matter, if a car has an invoice of $50K the dealer has not paid a penny for it the first month and only paid $5K for it. If the car sells for $51K before the end of the 2nd month, the dealership has made a 20% return [($51K-$50K)/$5K] in two months. That's an annual return on investment of 120%. Try that on the NASDAQ.

Furthermore, the salesvermin's commission is on a progressive schedule, meaning the greater the dealership's profit, the higher the percentage of commission. A profit of $1000 is worth 20% to the salesvermin, but a profit of $2000 is worth 25% and $3000, 30%. Now you see why the salesvermin has a strong disincentive to let you have a good deal. Now you can see why I haven't bought a car from a dealership since 1997. (TFBIM is a different matter.)

Another advantage that salesvermin have over you is they know once you start looking, you are only 15 days, on average, from buying. They know how to sell (they don't know so much about the cars, other than the trunk capacty and the commission schedule...and they are pretty iffy on that trunk thing) and they know how to overcome the usual sales resistance people have. My advice? Go into the negotiation with a sadistic desire to take food from the mouths of the salesvermin's family. You have to want him (very rarely it's a her...but as Kipling noted, the f. of the s. is more deadly than the m.) fired. Be sarcastic and make fun of his tie and his hair (rich veins, BTW). My favorite crack came from dad--a crusty ol' bastard--who once told a salevermin who was trying to song-and-dance him into something "I've bought more cars than you've sold."

TFBIM, who likes her cars from dealerships, is no good at this. She is, by instinct, prone to believe and fall for the subtle ploys the salesvermin have been trained in. The whole process, even if I am the one haggling, exhausts her and makes her verrrrrrrry sleepy. But that's another blog for another time.

Posted by Joke at 7:32 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Lord help me, I do hate it so.

I absolutely fucking HATE Daylight Savings Time. I've always hated it, but today it was clear to what extent I hate it.

Posted by Joke at 12:02 AM 4 comments