Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Heads up. Light bloggery ahead.


Argentines will arrive on Nov. 6, and the colossal mound of files and paperwork I had for them is in desperate (and sudden) need of redoing. So, I have to do about three weeks' worth of stuff in one. To say nothing of the actual project upon which this is all based.

If you are so inclined, throw a prayer (light candles, chant in Urdu, do the Snoopy dance, whatev) this way. Pretty please.

I'll try to come up for air, but don't count on much for the next week or so.


P.S. Remember...God made work as a punishment.

Posted by Joke at 4:22 PM 8 comments

Don't get excited.

Dear Internet,

1- He have a possible "Hurricane Noel" coming upon us. Not dead-certain, by a long shot, or even likely. But possible. Wind and rain are to be had, sans doute.

2- NOS's internal exile continues, the whinging almost abated. Amnesty International has failed to show the slightest interest in his case.

3- Will someone let BBCAmerica know that they schedule my favorite programs* at the worst damned hours?

4- Yesterday it was positively autumnal. (That means it was not 90F/32C with 85% humidity) I am driving around cheerfully in my convertible, which is exactly the polar opposite of the deluxe minivan, save for the number of wheels and leather seats. I figured many years ago to start my midlife crisis early to save time. You see it has gone precisely according to plan.

That is all.


* Top Gear, F-Word and Kitchen Nightmares.

Posted by Joke at 7:53 AM 2 comments

Friday, October 26, 2007

...which brings us to today.

Dear Internet,

I have been aswim in Argentine clients. I shall remain aswim for the next 6 weeks or so. Still, I know that the entire web hangs upon every word that issues from my two index digits to the screens of the world; so I'll bring you up to speed.

Besides the aforesaid parade of Argentines, NOS is in a heap of trouble. Again. We had discussed his dereliction of homework duty and the discipline which ensued. He straightened up and flew right until one day he realized he simply couldn't be bothered and lapsed into the previous behaviors.

Iberic justice has been swift. No anything for a month. No parties (two that we knew of), no TV, no movies, no playdates, no toys, no Wii -- don't ask why he has one against my better judgment -- no Halloween trick-or-treat. This has collapsed the boy's dowry price like so much Weimar currency. There is no joy in Mudville.

Everything else is fine. Got some long-awaited suitings in the mail. No trips anywhere planned, and I am trying -- and not succeeding -- to get through Tennyson's Gift by Lynn Truss. So far it's pretty much below par. I am very disappointed.

Maybe October is the cruelest month.


P.S. Blogging might be a weekend-only affair for the next few weeks. I'll try for better than that, but don't get too hopeful.

Posted by Joke at 10:19 PM 9 comments

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I'd like to preemptively apologize for the appalling number of typos this postis certain tocontain. (Look, already!) I am not at myregular laptop and, therefore, amusinga keyboardwhich needs to have all the keys MASHED in order to grudgingly perform the assigned duties.

Although I am hopeless -- something about which the lovely and gracious Suse took note -- at baking bread, I am decidedly a wizard at dumping ingredients into a bread machine and, more importantly, a wizard at selecting bread machines. So now we have a mostexcellent bread; provingthat insomnia isoften rewarded andhopelessness forgiven.

In other news, an certain ex of mine found me through oneof the automotive fora which I frequent. This is to beclassified under "Awkward & Weird, Pending Revision." As we have discussedpreviously, I do not do well with "exes."

What else?

Some stuff which I ordered upon my last jaunt to Poppyville willallegedly find be found in my closet soonish. So that's nice. Even nicer is that this year Poppy et Cie. have the same exact spring break dates we do,so there is a strongchance of a meetuptrip. Tentatively, it seems thatCalifornia will be the rendezvous point. So that's even nicer. We love the Buxoms and look forward to comparingnotes on demolitions/renovations.

Ifinished my strategicplan with an hour to spare. Meeting went well.

Ihavediscovered that90% of all my favorite magazines* arefrom the UK. A lot ofplaces in the UK have zero Internetpresence. Those are usually theones I would be tempted to purchase from, as I amnot abouttocoordinate calling times across 5 timezonesnever mind hop down to Bond Street or Mayfair, this is good for thebank balance. Except when they DO have an internet presence, and you discover leather luggage which is custom made in a shed in Dorset for your specific car and which costs an amount equivalent to your wedding expenses. And the dollar isnow worth a exactly three pence, so thereis nothingbut heartbreakahead.

Still, do a Google search for Caracalla and luggage.

Oh, and the Vinapedia.net site is going to publish one of my "big" stories later this month.


* TopGear, Italia!, AutoItalia, TasteItalia, Classic Car, Octane,etc.

Posted by Joke at 12:30 AM 6 comments

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Yes, the time stamp is correct.

Dear Internet,

As you well know, I don't particularly need (or get) a whole bloody lot of sleep. Most of the time I don't mind it, because I am doing something which I prefer to sleeping. Reading, blogging, watching my latest recordings of The F-Word or Top Gear. That sort of thing.

What I do mind is when my (lack of) sleep is determined by others. The other in this case is NTS. NTS is like me that once awakened -- even if he only got 45 minutes -- he is up-and-at-them. Sadly, NTS is like TFBIM in that he gets nightmares quite often. If I can catch one of us is alert enough to catch NTS in the very early stages of dreaming of being chased by a giant rollerskate covered in pudding (or whatever) then we can snuggle for a moment or two and the night is saved.

Tonight was one of those nights when this didn't go according to plan.

So, I'm up. I'm making bread. Well, I dumped a lot of brilliant organic ingredients into my bread machine because (try as I might) I am hopeless at making bread by hand. Even if I weren't, though, I'm not going to thrash around the kitchen at ridiculous-o'clock to make focaccia or baguettes.

Instead, I set up NTS on the other computer, and he is playing some sort of educational Muppet game. (There he goes, gleefully scoring a zillion points.) Unlike the lovely and gracious Bec, I have no sunrise photo because we still have both The Rainy Season and The Nazi-Communist Clock Plot Daylight Savings Time which means that at 7am it's still dark and gloomy.

And who wants to see a pic of that?


Posted by Joke at 3:59 AM 13 comments

Monday, October 15, 2007

It happens to the best of us.

Dear Internet,

If you get to a certain point where you are no longer a child or even a young adult and you happen to have living parents you may notice one thing:

Your parents are not only getting older (after all, we all are) but they could very well become Old People. Not people who are old, but Old People. I mention this as a public service that others may recognize the warning signs while there is still time.

In sharp contradistinction to people who are merely old (even if very old) and which signs are wrinkles, greying/disappearing hair, arthritis, etc. Old People display traits which have nothing to do -- whatsoever -- with aging. There are Old People barely into their 50s, and people who are 90+ who exhibit no symptoms. The first warning sign, to which you must be ever alert is the hoarding of perfectly ridiculous items.

My father, Joke II, has taken to hoard "golf pencils." Why he feels compelled to have (wait, let me count) 16 stubby little pencils with no self-contained capacity for erasing is beyond me. My mother has bales, and I mean bales, of sugar-free sweetener packets. Mind you her pancreas lays waste to any field of sugar cane within a 100ft. radius just by scowling at it, and none of her friends would require such a sweetener. Still, she squirrels the stuff away. I mention this, because I just jettisoned almost all of the aforementioned and it magically resprouts, like mushrooms.

If you have loved ones whom you suspect that, through no fault of their own, might be turning into Old People, please be on the lookout for this symptom. Don't wait until someone you love starts riding public transportation recreationally* just "because it's free."


* That is, just for fun and not to actually go anywhere.

Posted by Joke at 8:27 AM 17 comments

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Y'know what I hate?

Unlazy weekends, that's what.

Weekends are a time to read and otherwise allow your inner sloth to go comatose.

Walk-a-thons for Good Charitable Causes, conferences, kids' activities all conspire to keep me the tense, wound-up ball of adrenaline you have come to know and love.

Otherwise, I got nothin'.


Posted by Joke at 11:22 PM 9 comments

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

You're both wrong.

If you have young-ish boys, it's this one.



Posted by Joke at 10:29 PM 6 comments

There. Happy?

Five books I enjoy and which were not included in the previous post and are not PG Wodehouse and are from a relatively recent vintage, without repeating authors AND are also fiction:

(In no particular order)

Night of the Avenging Blowfish by John Welter
With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed by Lynne Truss
No Way To Treat A First Lady by Christopher Buckley
Indecision by Benjamin Kunkel
The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

Now you know.


Posted by Joke at 10:08 PM 3 comments

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Because you simply must know.

This is the book meme.

These are the top 106 (106??) books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users (as of today). As usual, bold what you have read, italicize what you started but couldn’t finish, and strike through what you couldn’t stand. Add an asterisk* to those you’ve read more than once. Underline those on your to-read list. My comments where appropriate.


Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Nope, not reading this.

Anna Karenina - Yawn.

Crime and Punishment - Reading this book is the punishment.

Catch-22 - Overrated. Movie was "meh."

One Hundred Years of Solitude - In Spanish. Not bad.

Wuthering Heights - Meh.

The Silmarillion - What follows "a gazillion"

Life of Pi

The Name of the Rose - But I pretended I did, while a young man, to further my social life

Don Quijote* - Read it in the original. Very cool. Cervantes lost his arm in the naval battle of Lepanto, where the Muslim navy was soundly thrashed and they kind of lost interest in taking over Europe after that. Well, for a while, anyway.

Moby Dick - Anyone who read this outside of an academic setting needs watching.

Ulysses - Has almost every single element I hate in a book. See Moby Dick.

Madame Bovary - See Moby Dick.

The Odyssey - Can't get through a Jesuit education without it.

Pride and Prejudice - I only have one X chromosome. Meh.

Jane Eyre - See above.

A Tale of Two Cities - See Moby Dick.

The Brothers Karamazov - Russian literature is the real reason the Cold War had to be fought and won.

Guns, Germs, and Steel - Sounds like the sequel to Brokeback Mountain.

War and Peace - The list of Russian things I love is shorter than you thought.

Vanity Fair - Meh.

The Time Traveller’s Wife - The title fools you into thinking you'll get those hours back. (You won't.)

The Iliad - See The Odyssey.


The Blind Assassin

The Kite Runner

Mrs. Dalloway

Great Expectations - Cheery li'l tome, innit?

American Gods

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius - Nah. (Title's half right, though.)

Atlas Shrugged - Interesting philosophy, mediocre writing. Incidentally, anyone who thinks of Ayn Rand as either the Messiah or the Antichrist invariably turns out to be, frankly, a dick.

Reading Lolita in Tehran - Like I'd ever get all those hours back.

Memoirs of a Geisha - See above.

Middlesex - When I reach age 45, I'll let you know what it's like.

Quicksilver - Nice surfwear, though.

Wicked - Only one X chromosome. Sorry.

The Canterbury Tales - See Odyssey.

The Historian

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - Yawn.

Love in the Time of Cholera - In the original. Not bad.

Brave New World - Yawn. Predictable.

The Fountainhead - See Atlas Shrugged.

Foucault’s Pendulum

Middlemarch - Is this when you get to have Middlesex? Because my birthday's in April.

Frankenstein - Meh.

The Count of Monte Cristo - Not bad if you skim it.

Dracula - Overrated.

A Clockwork Orange - Hell no. Hated the film.

Anansi Boys - Sounds like "A Nancy Boy's" which disqualifies it.

The Once and Future King - Meh. I saw and rather liked Excalibur...is that close?

The Grapes of Wrath - Hated it. A lot.

The Poisonwood Bible

1984 - See Moby Dick.

Angels & Demons

The Inferno - Meh.

The Satanic Verses - Fail to see the point and thus fail to see the point of the Ayatolla's fatwa. Merits no more than a bitch slap or two.

Sense and Sensibility - Only one X chromosome, which I must guard carefully.

The Picture of Dorian Gray* - Unspeakably brilliant.

Mansfield Park

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - See Moby Dick.

To the Lighthouse

Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Fell asleep through the film, though.

Oliver Twist - See Moby Dick.

Gulliver’s Travels*

Les Misérables - While reading it, I was tres misérable myself

The Corrections

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay - It didn't actually suck.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - About which I 'm not that curious.

Dune - I dated in high school.

The Prince - See The Odyssey. Not bad, if a mite cynical.

The Sound and the Fury - You'd have to be faulked in the head to enjoy this.

Angela’s Ashes - I wish they had buried Angela instead and spared us all.

The God of Small Things - Sounds like a spam message.

A People’s History of the United States: 1492-present - I don't trust people.



A Confederacy of Dunces - Meh. Overrated.

A Short History of Nearly Everything - Not short enough. (Will Cuppy's Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody is far better.)

Dubliners - I can see why this one is unread.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Again, half right.

Beloved - Begone

Slaughterhouse-Five - Vonnegut. Overrated and a half.

The Scarlet Letter - See. The Odyssey. Yawn.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves* - I now parade my semicolon.

The Mists of Avalon - Seems a bit too...D&D, ifyaknowhatImean.

Oryx and Crake - Sounds like the special of the day as announced with a fake Chinese accent.


Cloud Atlas

The Confusion - This must be what prompts people to buy it.

Lolita - Yawn.


Northanger Abbey - Just not an Austen kinda guy.

The Catcher in the Rye - If I had written this, I'd be a recluse too.

On the Road - A death wish of a reading experience. The best thing that can be said for the Beat Generation is that they are mostly dead, not that this affects the quality of their work.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame - See Moby Dick. See Les Miserables.

Freakonomics - Suckonomics.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - I have surprisingly little call for either.

Aeneid - See The Odyssey

Watership Down - A sad book about rabbits? You must be high.

Gravity’s Rainbow - Not even if it was Finian's.

The Hobbit - I dated in high school, sorry. (Is it just me or is it easy to confuse the names of Tolkien's characters with those for antibiotics and similar medicines?)

In Cold Blood - Is what it's like to foist this on the unsuspecting.

White Teeth - Better to have 'em than read 'em.

Treasure Island - Required reading for bookish lads.

David Copperfield - This sucked Dickens.

The Three Musketeers - See Treasure Island.

Now you know.


Posted by Joke at 9:03 PM 12 comments

It wasn't the sushi.

Everyone here is sick, and TFBIM has jury duty. As usual, her jury duty won't last beyond the first question a defense attorney asks her. But that means that I, under the weather as I am with some kind of sinus-ish unclaimed malady, must tend to two VERY WHINY boys with utterly different antibiotics and schedules therefor.

To say nothing of cranking out a strategic plan during all this, which is already up to page 5 of 35.


P.S. NTS summons me via a police whistle someone brought him from London.

Posted by Joke at 7:54 AM 2 comments

Friday, October 05, 2007

With bated breath.

Well, since you asked. Here is the Sushi Episode. Today we were making everyone's "gateway" sushis: California Rolls and Vegetable Rolls.First off, the implements of destruction.
SG's wish came almost true.
In Japanese this means "I'll #$%&ing cut your #$%&ing arm off! Don't you DARE #$%& with me!!"
The rice, spread out and cooled.NOS-san deconstructing some cucumber.Putting the rice on the nori. Which sounds like Japanese gangsta slang.NOS posing proudly in mid-process, having just placed the surimi on the rice. (Keen-eyed observers will note how he drapes the kitchen towel over his shoulder, Gordon Ramsay-style.)
Vegetable roll, just before rolling. (We cheated and slipped a bit of cling wrap underneath to facilitate the whole thing.)
...and slice! (The trick is to wipe and wet the Santoku knife -- also some sort of Tokyo slang, probably -- between slices.)

And there ya have it. Sushi by a 10-year old. I can hear the dowry zooming skyward...but not as much as if he hadn't donned the headband.


Posted by Joke at 11:48 AM 17 comments

Thursday, October 04, 2007

This oughta be good.

I have brought home the digital camera. I have even located the wire thingy. I have go so far as to recharge the camera's battery.


Because NOS -- keep in mind he's only 10 -- has announced he is making sushi tonight.

No, I have no idea how edible this will be, or how wise it is to hand a preteen a surgically sharp bit of cutlery. If he walks into the kitchen arrayed as a ninja, all bets are off.


Posted by Joke at 1:44 PM 7 comments

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Joke's Book Club (Oct. 2)

Dear Internet,

You may have difficulty believing this, but I have a difficult time reading fiction. It's not fiction's fault, but rather mine. You see, most fiction is riddled with weight and seriousness and earnestness and complex characters that demand to be not-judged-lightly and, more often than not, some quietly allegorical message with which I am bound to vehemently disagree. But mostly, modern fiction is really not funny.

The last real whack I had Modern Serious Fiction was The Lovely Bones. Which, as it turned out, proved to be neither. Oh, sure, I've flirted with some others -- TC Boyle springs to mind --but nothing serious. The problem with funny stuff is that it's usually not intelligently written. In the case of my favorite funny stuff (John Welter, whom you bastids steadfastly refuse to read) it's no longer being written at all. Then you have to wait years on end to read Chris Buckley next one.

Verily it doth give suck.

So, it's with with a fluttering heart that I read and (suggest likewise) With One Lousy Free Packet of Seed, by Lynne Truss. It's funny, crisply written so that every sentence is a small masterpiece, with mildly eccentric characters who are believable as the plot's absurdity unfolds slowly. The ending is a TINY bit "off" but only a teeny tiny bit.

There ya go.


Posted by Joke at 8:54 AM 9 comments

Monday, October 01, 2007

No, seriously.

You would NOT believe how much it's raining.


P.S. Why are we conserving water, again?

Posted by Joke at 8:10 AM 6 comments

Yeah, some savings these are.

This is all you need to know: It's 8am (Daylight Savings Time, no less) and overcast/raining to such an extent that it's as dark as if it were midnight.


Posted by Joke at 7:58 AM 1 comments