Friday, September 28, 2007

Crank it up

Browsing through the International section of iTunes streaming radio options, I run across this enticing description:

"French songs since 1890 of the dead artists."

And if that doesn't say dance party, I don't know what does.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Like a bad and hard soldier

On NPR last night there was a special edition of Youth Radio focused on young people in New Orleans. Unsurprisingly, it was full of stories of kids struggling, but ultimately triumphing even in the face of horrible circumstances. One segment was about a family who'd stayed in their house for a week even though it was full of water. The father felt it was safer for them to stay together at home than to evacuate. The sister narrates. She says that her family is stronger now than they were before. She says that she is far more self confident and is no longer bothered by trivial things like namecalling at school. She speaks about how her brothers are stronger too--physically stronger and more fearless. I picture these boys all lean and muscled and tall. I picture them looking people in the eye and taking all comers. Cut to the voice of the younger brother:
Like a bad and hard soldier, I got very very brave. I used to be very very scared of crickets. One night one got on me. I was about to scream at the top of my lungs, but I just looked at it and was like wait, it’s going to be alright, that cricket can’t do nothing, it’s not going to bite you, and it just flew off. And I said wait, that’s just a harmless little bug.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Miss Manners

Sophie is one of the most charming and gracious children I've ever met. Yesterday at her 5th birthday party she greeted each guest with true enthusiasm and told them how glad she was to see them. When it was time for her to choose an assistant for the magic show, the other girls clamored for her attention. She said, "I will pick someone who is being very quiet." And she did. True, she was a little panicky about being first for face painting, but come on, she was the birthday girl.

When she was opening her presents, she always said her thank you's and frequently said, "These are the best presents ever." Still, who among us has never made a faux pas? She opened a big present and said happily, "A kite!" "Wow. It's a pirate kite," said her mother. Sophie, fairy-loving child that she is, replied, "I don't like pirates." Instantly, she knew her mistake. You could actually see the dismay flicker over her face. "But I love Uncle Billy's present, though!"

Nice save, Sophie. Emily Post would be be proud.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No comment

I was doing so well there for a while. Did you notice? Writing and updating and making humorous observations and all? It was great. Then my boyfriend and I broke up and now I find that the humorous-commentary energy has transformed into crying-all-the-time energy.

Nevertheless in the spirit of looking at the bright side of life here are three nice things from today:

1. Whole Foods sells oatmeal in the morning. They even have brown sugar and raisins and milk there. This may not strike you as exciting, but when you are obliged to go to Whole Foods at 8am because you forgot to buy flowers for a work event, hot oatmeal is very welcome indeed.

2. Dahlias. One bunch is dark pink and the other is purple. I find them so cheerful that I would like to just carry them around with me.

3. This morning I heard the Mill Valley song on the radio. I learned it in elementary school, but apparently it was an international hit before I was born. Go figure. I sang along. I got all misty eyed and nostalgic about my home town. Aww.

That's it people. That's all I got. I hope to be funny again sometime soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Today's lesson

Today for lunch I had a bowl of onion soup. Or rather, I had several spoonfuls of onion soup before I gave up on the whole project and poured the rest down the drain. However, while eating those few, inadequate spoonfuls, I learned something-- something I shall generously share with you.

French onion soup is delicious. Why is it delicious? Because in the wee tureen of steaming onion broth, there is also half a pound of melted cheese and a quarter of a baguette. When you have onion soup from a can both the cheese and bread are necessarily, albeit tragically, absent. Therefore, onion soup from a can is not delicious. Not at all delicious.

Heed my words.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

War is Hell

Knowing how much I love the performing arts, you may be inclined to buy me tickets for this. Thank you for the kind thought. Sadly, as much as sitting through an opera by Philip Glass about the civil war seems like a fantastic way to spend an evening, I find I am busy for the entire month of October.

Speaking of hell, we spend a fair amount of time discussing it in my Dante class--quelle suprise. Yesterday the professor asked us to share our own notions of hell. One woman said, "Well, what about here? Marin County?"

Um...right. Or Darfur. Whichever.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Changing sides

Yesterday I dragged my poor, sick self to the drug store to buy more Nyquil and tissues. By some miracle, I remembered that I also needed to get toothpaste. I stood there in my viral haze, overwhelmed by the dazzling American array of toothpaste options. Tartar control, dual cavity fighting action, dazzling white, etc., etc. My eye fell on a new type of Crest called Pro Health. "Hey," I thought, sniffling pitifully, "I'm pro health." And so I bought it.

This morning I used it for the first time. It tastes sort of like baking soda and glue sprinkled with cinnamon. What's more, it lingers for hours. I'm not sure if it's meant to promote oral health or general health or if Crest just wants you to know where they stand on the general question of health, but one thing is clear. If this is the taste of health, I'm going to have to side with illness.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Where have you been all my life?

Today my printer revealed to me a previously unseen error message. It stated that Tray 3 was not programmed and then gave me two options, one of which I was to select.

  1. Resolve all problems for me automatically.
  2. I will resolve this problem myself.

Oh, Option One, I knew you had to be out there somewhere. Goodbye insomnia. Goodbye indecision. Goodbye worry. Hello Option One.

If you see me around town dragging a massive printer behind me everywhere I go, you'll know why.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Tidying up

They tell me that I am soon to get a new computer at work, so yesterday I dutifully cleaned all the random documents off my computer desktop. They frown on us saving things to the desktop because they will not be magically backed up in the night like all those things saved to more appropriate files. If it's on your desktop and your computer crashes, it's gone forever. Frankly, I don't care very much if the things on my desktop are lost forever, but still would prefer to avoid the "too many documents on your desktop" lecture, so I refiled them. That is to say, I dragged them all into a file called "Misc. from desktop" which is also on my desktop. But still, it looks better and I figure I'm ready for the new machine any time.

Today though, I noticed my actual desktop. You know, the top of my wooden desk here in physical reality. It turns out that my real desktop is a good deal less tidy that my virtual one. Not only are there dozens of documents that ought to be filed into real labeled folders, there are also scores of little scratch paper notes to myself, five pens, a calculator, a message pad, a notebook, a phone extension list, a variety of loose power cords, an envelope sealer, a plastic cup, a saucer, a small teapot, a long spoon, a pitcher, a tee shirt, and a slightly used kleenex. If the IT guys came in here to replace this computer, they'd have to excavate it first.

Here's what I'm thinking: I go to the garage and get a big cardboard box. I sweep all this stuff into it and with a big black marker label it: Misc. from Desktop. Then I'll just put it on the corner of my desk.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


My neighbors sleep, Narnia style, in the back of my closet. Or at any rate just beyond the back of my closet. Who am I to say whether or not they exist in a magical kingdom? They might. I've never been in their apartment. I know they're over there though because I hear them. When they retire at night, I hear their bed squeak; I hear their murmuring voices. If I go to bed after them, I'm sure they hear me jostling hangers in my closet as I undress. They probably wish I wasn't addicted to the snooze alarm in the morning.

Last night I was awakened by something. I lay in the dark listening for the mystery disturbance. I could hear nothing alarming, just a little muffled repetitive noise that I identified as a carpet sweeper being run back and forth over the same crumb-covered bit of rug. Then I realized that no one in 2007 has a carpet sweeper and that the apartments in my building have wood floors.

What else makes a muffled repetitive noise late at night? Oohhhh. Right. That. Now I'm all embarrassed.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

There's a special place in hell...

Lately I have been reading Dante. (Let's just leave that there by itself for a moment since it looks so literary and highly-educated and self-improving and all.) Actually, I'm reading Dante under duress because I was obliged to enroll in a class called something like "Dante, Dante, Dante." Who knows? Maybe I'll grow to love the Divine Comedy. I don't love it yet, mind you, but I'm only four cantos in, so there's time. Lots and lots of time.

However, this translator's explanation from the end of Canto I is already worth mentioning:
The gay Leopard is the image of the self-indulgent sins--Incontinence; the fierce Lion, of the violent sins--Bestiality; the She-Wolf of the malicious sins, which involve Fraud.

All right, I think I can agree that bestiality counts as a sin, but incontinence? Surely not. Messy, yes. Humiliating, yes, but not a sin. Even to call it "self indulgent" seems a trifle harsh.

[Okay, okay. If you really want to know, incontinent can mean "unchaste," but I'll be that's not the first thing you thought of either.]