Monday, June 30, 2008


I routinely make poor decisions.

Like the time I was uncorking a stubborn bottle of wine, thought to "improve" my grip, and ended up punching myself in the face. Or when I listened to my classmates in eighth grade and ruined the basketball scoreboard. Or the time I thought it would be okay to go on that "marketing job" interview where they told me to show up wearing shoes I could "do a lot of walking in." Or the LARP weekend. And so on.

That's why it makes me happy when I can spot a potential disaster in the works, and make a conscious choice to avoid it.

Yes, our liquor cabinet is understocked, and we are dangerously short on mixers. But as appealing as it seems at first glance, I don't need to actually mix White Russians using baby formula before I realize that it's a Bad Idea.

Can you hear that, world? It's the sound of a little something I like to call progress.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Iron Chef America

It's okay. Certainly, it's head and shoulders above the absolutely painful Iron Chef USA, but it's still a mixed bag of entertainment. On the one hand, the guy that they have as the chairman is absolutely hilarious. He manages to be completely over-the-top with his gestures, his dialogue, and his mannerisms, but at the same time he makes you feel like you and he are sharing a private joke. And the little sound effects that they add to his karate moves that introduce the Iron Chefs? Win.

On the other hand, Alton Brown. Sometimes he's on the mark, but as a general rule, I would pay good money to punch Alton Brown in the face. Specifically, he needed a good firm smack (possibly with a rolled-up newspaper, or maybe a brass knuckle) during battle coffee. I get it--you're hyper because it's coffee--but I didn't want it in the first place. And is it just me, or does Kevin Brauch appear to be seething with barely-concealed resentment when Brown condescends to let him give the same explanation of the judging rules every episode?

For the judges, I can understand that the show's producers would want people who think differently because arguments mean drama, and drama means good television. The problem is that some of the judges are insufferable when they get to express their opinion. Andrew Knowlton comes across as prissy and elitist when he disagrees with his peers, quibbling over academic minutiae, picking apart the statements of the other panelists, and always needing to mutter the last word into his food like a spoiled eight-year-old. In contrast, Jeffrey Steingarten does an excellent job of voicing his opinion, frequently failing to agree with the other judges but still managing to sound like he is trying to offer constructive criticism, not just showing off. One is a tough but fair evaluator who is disappointed when chefs fail to meet his high standards, and the other is a petty control freak who throws a fit whenever the world around him refuses to meet his expectations. You never know what you're going to get.

I'll keep watching it (unless they keep adding new Iron Chefs; YOU ARE NOT WANTED, MICHAEL SYMON). In the meantime, I have compiled this list of items that I would like to see used as the central ingredient of future episodes battles:

Tic Tacs
Goldfish (the cracker, but the pet might work as well)
hot dogs

Oh wait, this might actually be my grocery list.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Bee Gauntlet

The previous owner of our house was a botanist, and she did a fantastic job planting gardens that always have something in bloom. We did an equally fantastic job of completely neglecting everything outside so that the house looks abandoned, or possibly under attack by some kind of malevolent plant monster.

Our front walk is flanked by lavender plants (bushes? shrubs? Some of the branches have gotten thick enough that I'm thinking about calling them "trees") that have pushed out over the concrete and started getting in the way. I trimmed them back last year, but they have returned in full force. While the plants on either side of the walk don't quite touch each other, there's no way to keep from having them rub up against anyone trying to enter or leave the house.

This isn't a problem. The lazy bees who have nothing better to do besides loiter around my lavender bushes all day like shriners at an open bar are the problem.

That's right, bees. You heard me, Science. All those missing bees that you're looking for? Maybe you should check my front yard, because I can count at least six of them, and sometimes as many as twenty, available at all hours*.

It's a gauntlet made of bees, and I have to run it any time I want to go to work, get groceries, check the mail, or leave a flaming bag of poo on my neighbor's doorstep. It's at the point where I've got to psych myself up before I can leave the house to do anything.

As always, I recognize the importance of staying positive, and have been trying to tell myself that this is a good thing. After all, if I dont want to run this gauntlet of bees, then it must keep out unwanted guests and/or intruders, too. It was a comforting thought, until the doorbell rang yesterday.

What good is having a bee gauntlet if it won't keep out Jehova's witnesses?

*Okay, hold your horses, apiarists both amateur and professional, before you go posting all kinds of scientific mumbo jumbo about how what I've got in my yard are only bumblebees, not honeybees. I'll tell you right now: I don't want to hear it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

There's a reason for that.

When I gained a measure of autonomy, I decided that I would test a lot of the practices that my parents tried to instill in me to determine if they were valuable habits to develop, or an unnecessary waste of time. Like pyjamas. Is it really necessary to have a completely separate outfit to sleep in? I decided that it was not, which proved to be a real time-saver in college once I didn't have to worry about bringing my Star Wars PJs to a keg party if I thought I'd end up passing out on the couch.

Now that I have a house, I'm looking into some of the more common home upkeep chores to see if they're important enough to do frequently, or if I can get away with letting them slide for a while. Like mowing the lawn. We're not in an appearance-obsessed suburb, and the dog seems to like stalking through shoulder-high grass from time to time, pretending he's a wolf on the prowl for a squirrel or an unattended baby. Who is it going to hurt?

Me. I found out that it's going to hurt me, and the lawn needs to be mowed on a weekly, if not daily basis. While using the weed whacker (okay, it's technically a "string trimmer," and not actually a branded weed whacker) to clear out a dense clump of vegetation, a rustling in the underbrush (underweeds) made me stop. I watched, horrified, as a spider big enough to take on a rat (and probably win) in a no-holds-barred, bare knuckle brawl staggered out from his hiding place and moved on to more welcoming surroundings.

In addition to mowing the lawn, I am now considering paving the lawn.