Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Consumables #36

Seen lately:

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
Definitely shows how hard this lady works, how driven she is, and the impact she had opening doors for female stand up comedians. All of that is totally impressive. The downside is that I don't find her funny. There are just comedians like that sometimes. I get the reason that they are important, and what they do for the art as a whole, but to me, they just don't give me the giggles. There was one joke she told in the whole movie that made me laugh a little. It went like this: "Why should I learn to cook? Just so my husband can go brag to some hooker that his wife bakes a great cake?" That one got me a little. But just a little. And then that was it. Sorry Joan.

The Calling
Documentary following different people as they pursue becoming members of the clergy. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish students were profiled. I wish it would have gone deeper than it did.

No Impact Man
Documentary about a New York City writer and his family who embark on a one-year experiment in trying to have as little impact on the environment as possible. I loved his wife in this movie. It seemed that for him, it was fun and exciting to try this whole thing, and for her, she was game and a great sport, but also expressed things like "dude, that worm bin in the apartment skeeves my shit out." I think she was the one that made the whole thing relatable.

The Town
A bit predictable (I knew who was going to die the first 10 minutes in, and what was going to happen to Ben Affleck's character by the end), but it was enjoyable. I agree with the critiques that the women characters in the movie are totally Madonna/Whore (perfect middle class bank manager lady versus fucked up working class slutty lady), which was a little annoying.

The King's Speech
Loved it. And on a design note, the 1930s English wallpaper that was in every scene was rocking my socks. And Geoffrey Rush's office, with the big wall that had peeled off wallpaper that ended up looking like some impressionist thing? Gorg-wah.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
I don't think Michael Cera was at all who I pictured playing Scott when I first read the comics. That's the problem with making movies out of books. I imagined Scott Pilgrim totally differently than that.

I am Love
Pretty, pretty movie. And look at Tilda Swinton, acting it up in Italian, and then busting out with Russian right in the middle of everything. What a show off.

I'm Still Here
So everyone thought this was real, and then we found out it was a hoax and that Joaquin Pheonix faked the whole thing. But you know what? I don't really believe that he faked the whole thing. I think there were parts of that that were really him being him. So what I am saying is that it's a movie where it's him being real, but faking being fake, all to make us think that it was real at the time, but then later really fooling us into thinking it was fake, when really some of it was real.

I know I'm talented. It's like I could have written Inception.

In Spite of Myself, by Christopher Plummer
The dad from The Sound of Music was a total partier, you guys. This is a 700 page autobiography, and all this person ever did, EVER, was act on the stage, act in movies, go to parties, booze it up, and get laid. Nothing else! Really, nothing else. My favorite parts were when he would name drop people in totally unexpected places. Like when he did Shakespeare on Broadway in the fifties and Jerry Stiller was in it with him. Or the other highbrow Broadway show that he did where his understudy was William Shatner. I love stuff like that.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas'll make ya, jump! Jump!

I had three whole days off (in a row!) this week, and it felt like forevah. Here's what we didded.

1. We made a big Indian dinner. Alloo benghan (potatoes/eggplant), Kuthu (pumpkin), Spinach bhaji, and egg curry. I know, it's supposed to be the eve when Santa gave birth to Jesus under the mistletoe with Bing Crosby singing in the manger and the Easter bunny and the pilgrims bringing myrrh on a sleigh, and for this we are supposed to eat what Saint Martha Stewart tells us, but oh well.

2. Nordic Boy woke up on Friday and wished me a "Happy Christmas Morning, Previous." This is now what we are calling Christmas Eve Day from now on. Christmas Morning Previous.

3. We broke holiday rule #2. The one about no entry into retail districts until the holiday season is over. And man, we broke it BIG. We went to the middle of downtown Seattle, where the gigantic Christmas tree is, and the Christmas carousel, and every last retail chain is located, and pushed our way into Williams Sonoma. On Christmas Day Previous! Holiday Rule #2 was demolished. But my parents had sent us some holiday cashola, and we decided to buy a fancy toaster oven that we've been dreaming about. Screw sugarplums dancing in our heads, we have officially become the old decrepit couple that thinks a fancy toaster oven is tres exciting. When did this happen to us?

4. Maybe we are not as decrepit/mature as I thought. We spent considerable amounts of time playing Just Dance on the Wii.

5. We went to PNB's "Nutty Nutcracker." Like everywhere else, the ballet here does the Ballbuster (or the Nutcracker, potato, po-tah-to) during the holiday season. I have seen this version once, a long time ago, and I'm not a fan. Just don't even get me started on it, because trust me you will be bored out of your gourd. However, I heard that each year, they do one performance of the Nutcracker with weird stuff thrown in. They call it the Nutty Nutcracker. It contains things such as a snowball fight in the Land of Snow, and a lusty bee who shows up during the Waltz of the Flowers. It was pretty cute, and the best thing about it was hearing the kids in our section cracking up like all get out. Would I pay to see it again? Nope. But it was fun.

6. Biogirl's mom was visiting, so we went over to have dessert with them on Christmas Eve. After the Williams Sonoma and the big dinner making and the Nutty Ballsmacker dance performance, Nordic Boy and I were about as festive as a pile of Ambien, and Nordic Boy gave a riveting revival performance of his one man show called Dude Asleep in the Middle of a Conversation, so that was nice. Merry Christmas!

7. We went to see The King's Speech, and as we were standing in line, the movie theater guy came out and said that three movies had sold out. Harry Potter, Tron, and The King's Speech. The first two? Ok, I can see that, but our nerdy movie, sold out at a huge theater? Weird. We pre-bought a ticket and came back for the next show and that was packed too. Stuttering royal preparing for a speech, and Seattle eats it up. Who knew?

8. Went on a drive one night with Nordic Boy, Biogirl, and Biogirl's mom where we found some houses that had crazy amounts of holiday lights on them. I was looking up local news stories on some good ones to go see, and there was one family who confessed to putting up so many lights that their electric bill hits $6,000 for the holiday season. I have nothing funny or witty to say about that. Just holy moley, you guys.
9. Started my holiday cards. Did not finish, but started them. I sliced my card list this year, by a lot. Still, I have a lot to do still. That's why I always do New Year cards. I can get away with sending them late. If you're on my list, expect them by Valentine's Day.

10. That's about it, but I have to have a nice rounded 10 for my list. So let me just tell you this: I haven't seen True Grit yet, but every time I see ads for it I think that Jeff Bridges looks a lot like Nordic Boy's dad. Especially when Jeff Bridges looks as beat down as possible. Nordic Boy agrees with this assessment. I have never met Nordic Boy's dad, but I have seen photos, and if my sweetheart is not the fruit of The Dude's loins, I am a monkey's uncle.

I don't think I could have ended on a less holiday-ish note, but there you have it. I hope you all had a great weekend!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I don't remember that I grew up with a lot of Christmas/holiday music around our house. I do remember that we had a copy of the classic "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth." Remember that one? And that album cover? Why that song didn't last the test of time I shall never know.

But obviously it doesn't matter if you celebrate Christmas intentionally, we are a Christmas nation and we are all going to know the lyrics by heart of Hark the Herald Angels Sing, whether we like it or not. I have the added advantage (disadvantage?) of having been in school choir my whole childhood, so I know more Christmas songs than anyone really has any business knowing. We had Christmas songs up the ying yang from November through the end of the year, half of which I don't even really know what they mean. There was this one song that we sang in Middle English and shit, talking about the "apple takey ben." What the hell is that? (And please, don't write to me to actually tell me what all of these reference do mean. If I really had wanted to know by now, I would have looked it up). And there was this other song called "Torches" about running with torches to Bethlehem. In my kid-mind I always pictured that like an Olympics style torch runner, running for Jesus, or something. I didn't know, we didn't discuss these things, since it was public school. We sang it, who cares if we understood it? Or maybe this is something everyone else just gets? I don't know. We also sang this one song about keeping your lamps trimmed and burning because the time is drawing nigh. Um, ok. That sounds like an old timey Martha Stewart tip rather than a spiritual song. We also sang the Dreidel Song, and other Hannukah songs. The one I remember most was "Light the Candles." I liked that one. It was peppy. And we got to yell "HEY!" at the end, and how can you go wrong with that? There was another one about Emmanuel, who apparently was a ransom captive in Israel. Intrigue! And also, what are we even talking about? And don't even get me started on the shit we sang in straight up Latin.

Can you tell I am not a Biblical scholar? You are shocked, I can see it in your face.

Anyway, every holiday season, there is holiday wintery music that I do like, most of it coming from the likes of Doris Day and Dean Martin and such, with maybe some Duke Ellington thrown in. But that lasts, unfortunately, for about a week. Then even I, lover of oldies, become totally SATURATED. How many times can I hear Baby It's Cold Outside? A lot. A whole lot. And Judy Garland, I love you, really I do, but I have a cap on how many times a year I can hear your boozy weepy Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas before I want to do myself an injury.

I think this has less to do with Grinchy-ness and more to do with monotony. It's the same feeling I get when I have had the same leftovers for too long, or when I get stuck in a rut watching the same type of movie all the time. It wears me out before I even know it's wearing me out. I just need to mix it up, that's all. Throw something else in there. Please.

In that spirit, I made myself a December playlist. It's super long, so I won't bore you with the whole thing, but I thought maybe you are feeling weary of holiday standards at this point as well. And even if you're not, these are still good songs. Here they are. Some are Christmas songs, some are wintery songs, some are just songs that sound wintery to my ears. Since it's the 23rd of December, I'll do 23 songs.

The Sonics, Santa Claus
(come on, I had to start out with a Grinchy one)

Fleet Foxes, White Winter Hymnal
(another song that I don't know what they are even talking about, and I don't really want to know)

Peter Bjorn and John, The Chills

Fountains of Wayne, Man in the Santa Suit
(I used to work in a mall. This song reminds me of that).

The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping
(a classic, right?)

James Brown, Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto
(I think that every holiday should give you a reason to say "HAH!" with James Brown)

Florence + the Machine, Last Christmas
(Doing a Wham! cover is always ok in my book)

Loretta Lynn, To Heck With Ole Santa Claus
("when he goes dashin' through the snow I hope he falls." Harsh!)
Common Market, Winter Takes All
(had to put a Seattle band in)
Harvey Danger, Sometimes You Have To Work on Christmas
(another Seattle one, I love the video of the Seattle scenes)

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Ain't No Chimneys in the Projects

Jenny O., Get Down for the Holidays
(Dang Target, you made a good holiday playlist)

Ryan Adams, Hey Parker, It's Christmas
(Good song, Mrs. Mandy Moore)

Fanfarlo, Just Like Christmas

My Morning Jacket, Christmas Time is Here Again
(The original Beatles version is of course better, but this one is good too)

The The, December Sunlight
(I got my heart broken bad in December one time, and this song makes me feel happy, in an I Got Through That sort of way)

New Kids on the Block, Funky Funky Christmas
(Holy smokes, this is SO BADAWESOME)

Trentemoller, While the Cold Winter is Waiting
(Good for cold winter walks)

Fastbacks, In the Winter

Magnetic Fields, Everything is One Big Christmas Tree
(ain't it the truth)

Regina Spektor, My Dear Acquaintance (A Happy New Year)
(If you still want it to sound classic, even when it ain't)

Frightened Rabbit, It's Christmas So We'll Stop

Blockhead, The First Snowfall

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Who dat?

Sometimes I wonder what sort of people we will be when we are old. I mean, I know we will basically be the same people, but what sort of current habits will be amplified? I mean, for example, Nordic Boy is already a sleepy sort of person. He works really hard, and when he sits down, he often just falls dead asleep. I fear that our retirement will consist of him taking 20 hour naps each day. I, on the other hand, am a troubled sleeper, who often is running on 5 or 6 hours of sleep a night. I fear that I will be one of those old people that wakes up at 4am each morning no matter what. He'll be asleep and I'll be awake and we'll see each other for 30 minutes a day.

One thing I am fairly certain of, is that Nordic Boy will be that old man who mixes everyone's names up. He already does it, but I think it's only going to get worse from here.

In the last 2 days, this has been said...

Me: Let's watch I Am Love this week.
Him: Which one is that? The one with Chelsea Clinton in it?
Me: Tilda Swinton. Not Chelsea Clinton.
Him: Sounds the same.

(Us, watching Jimmy Fallon).
Him: Is that the guy from The Roots?
Me: It's all the guys from The Roots.
Him: Which one?
Me: All of them.
Him: Oh.
Him: Hey! That's the entire group of The Roots!
Me: Dude, I just said that. They're the house band.
Him: (looking right at Jimmy Fallon) They are? For that guy? Jimmy Kimmel?
Me: That's Jimmy Fallon!
Him: Where?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poker Party

I am not the type of person who has a lot of policies, but I do have two, and they both revolve around the holiday season.

Policy #1: I do not travel during the holidays. Nordic Boy and I spent a few years dragging our sorry asses across the country at the end of every year, breaking our necks in misery in order to spend a few days with family, which granted, were good days, but we have many other days that we can spend with family, at times when traveling does not make us want to crawl into a hole and never come out. One year, we sat in an airport, stranded due to snowstorms, among the great unwashed, hungry and tired and sick of standing in lines, and we looked at each other and said, you know, we don't have to DO THIS. It was like we had discovered warp drive, or electricity, or jello. Life changing. And thus, our first official family policy was born. I always feel a little embarrassed about this policy, because it makes us (I fear) sound cold and unfeeling, like we wouldn't sacrifice a little inconveniece to see our families or something. But that's our policy, and it works for us.

Policy #2: I do not step foot into the various retail districts of my city from Thanksgiving until after New Year. I still shop, mind you. I will go to my corner bookstore, or order something on Etsy, or whatever, but go into the heart of shoppy land? Or a mall? Nope.

I am only now realizing, as I write this, that both of these policies have less to do with noble anti-consumerist feelings and more to do with a hatred of crowds.

This Friday, I had the day off and I used it to break Policy #2. I had to send off some items to the nieces and nephews so I ventured to the the UPS store which is not really in a retail district, but still, it's the UPS store. A week before Christmas.

As I stood in line, I watched as the UPS workers were browbeaten by the customers. It was ugly. At one point, when told that her package was going to cost $20 to mail, a woman screamed, with visible spittle: "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?" at the worker at top decibel levels as if he had personally made up the price chart during his last coffee break. I also witnessed a rather huffy gentleman who didn't verbally abuse anyone, but showed his impatience at the dude feverishly working behind the counter via a continual barrage of loud huffy sighs.

So yeah, just be nice to your customer service workers, people. Or at the very least, don't scream profanities or subject their faces to saliva spray. I mean, that should go without saying, right?

On the brighter side of my weekend, that evening Nordic Boy and I had a dinner party with our poker friends. We are so used to cooking little meals for the two of us that the sheer amount of food and pots and pans it takes to cook dinner for 8 people is fricking nutso.

Morning After Scene

This is our second time playing poker with this group of pals, and we had the same result as we did last time. I finished up by a couple bucks, and Nordic Boy lost a couple. Put us together and we totally broke even. That dude is bringing me DOWN, people. We could have been a whole two dollars richer if it wasn't for him. Sheesh.

On Saturday night we went out to rent a movie, and picked up a Wii game rental while we were at it. When I paid for the item, the conversation went like this.

Renter Guy: That'll be $9.
Me: (opening up wallet).
RG: That's because the game rental is five dollars.
Me: Ok, that's fine.
RG: I was just saying that because it seemed like you were making a "what the fuck?" face.
Me: No, I wasn't. That's just how my face looks.
RG: Yeah. Ok. I guess it does.

That's when I showed him what my WTF face really looks like.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Consumables #35

Tinkers, by Paul Harding

A compact little novel that opens with George Washington Crosby, a retired clockmaker in rural Maine, who lies in his deathbed. The book takes you in and out of consciousness with George as he interacts with his family as they keep a vigil around him in the present, and as he remembers his boyhood and especially his father, a man who abandoned him to save himself when George was a teenager. At times this was more like a poem than a novel, and the painstaking writing was impressive. It's a very wintery book in terms of setting as well, which was a coincidence, since I didn't know that going in. I can't imagine reading this in the summer though. Just wouldn't feel right. It's about death, and loss, and it's harsh, so Merry Christmas it ain't.

A Christmas Carol
When I was studying thee-ah-tah, there were these dvds on acting that were put out by the Royal Shakespeare Company that I loved. Patrick Stewart, in his pre-Picard-ness (he still had hair!) was in them. I remember watching them and thinking: hey, I think that's the Star Trek guy when he was a youngster. This got me to start watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the rest, as they say, is geek history. Now I can cite specific episodes by name from the Star Trek franchise, but it all started because I was an uppity theater kid, as if that isn't enough of a geeky thing to be. Anyway, one of the things I always wanted to see was his one-man Christmas Carol on Broadway, where he plays all the parts. Come on, wouldn't that be good? Professor Xavier as Tiny Tim? Really. Anyway, the next best thing is to watch a tv version of a Christmas Carol in which he plays Scrooge, but sadly none of the other parts.

I love how, on the cover, it looks like he is about to give you the beat down.

Changing My Mind, by Zadie Smith
A collection of essays where she does literary criticism (piece on Middlemarch was a snooze, piece on Kafka was pretty good), political writing (a chronicle of her trip to Liberia was unsettling in a good way), personal reflections on her life and writing, and pop culture criticism (an essay on Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo? You had me at hello).

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
I've been watching this lately and thinking about performers in terms of being of a particular generation, or speaking to a particular generation. Pretty heady topic for Jimmy Fallon, I know. I wouldn't argue that Jimmy Fallon is the funniest comedian or dude-with-a-show in the world, or on tv. But he is one of those people that, when I do watch, he totally and completely seems like one of my friends. I know people just like that guy. Go to a party of people that I know, and there is something Jimmy Fallon-esque about the dudes I hang out with. I wouldn't say that about Craig Ferguson, and Chelsea Handler, or even my beloved Stewart/Colbert. I don't know what my point is, really (as usual). Just that perhaps every famous person has this going for them, to someone. Perhaps some people see Miley Cyrus in their friends, and other people see Regis Philbin in their friends. Doesn't really have to do with their talent, necessarily. There's just something familiar and dude-I-might-know-ish to me about Jimmy Fallon, which makes me want to watch him.

What celebrity reminds you of your group of friends?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Five Year Update

It's coming up on 5 years of me spouting off half-cocked on the blog. Yee-haw! For the 5 year blogiversary, I've updated the About Me page.  Over there, on the right.

I'm keeping a form of the old version over there too.

Don't you love it when I write stuff with a tone that indicates that I think you care? I know, I love it too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


There is this part of the tv show Deadwood where Calamity Jane wants to enter a building to talk to someone who is ill. The doctor screams: "BE BRIEF!" and Calamity Jane doesn't even hesitate to yell back at him "BE FUCKED!"

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces of dialogue, ever.

Today is busy. So I shall be breif. If I don't, I'm fucked.

Record-breaking rainstorm. With winds clocked up to 70 miles an hour. And for drippy stormy Seattle, that is saying something. The coziness felt in our bed when we are awakened by howling loud ass winds at 2am is sort of off the charts.

A family member (who would kill me if I identified them in any way, shape or form) got out of a scary week long stay at the hospital. I feel like I can exhale a little now.

I had major practice at Being the Bigger Person over the weekend. Like, more than I think I have ever had to do in my life. It's hard, dudes. Super hard. But I did it. I am not entirely sure it was worth it, but I am hoping. And am fairly sure that if I was a drinker, I would be sauced right now to get over the whole mess.

Got a call from The Soggy Librarian whose house was leaking from top and bottom. Nordic Boy went to take a look. Their house was totally being a dick to them, was his professional opinion.

Had sushi with Jenny, the co-star of the water weenie story. No weenies were handled during dinner, but we had non-weenie fun.

Woke up Nordic Boy from a dream where he was in a fight. It went like this:

Me: Hey! Hey! Wake up! It's ok. You're ok.
Him (still sort of asleep): Stupid fucking chickens!
Me: What were the chickens doing?
Him: STARTING shit.

That's all I got time for, cousins.

Oh yeah. Take a lookee loo at this cute poster. Just because.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Consumables #34

I didn't do one of these last week did I? Eh, who's counting.

Harry Potter 7
I remember reading the 7th book and parts of it making me cry. I was all, what the hell, I am crying? Then, I see the movie, and I cried in the frigging movie too. So apparently, I am one of those people.

Modern Times
When I was a kid and I would visit Fiji, my cousins and I watched a lot of bootleg VHS tapes from the same corner store where we would go get dried salted plums, two for a penny. (Dried salted plums were candy to us then. Go figure.) Some favorites of ours were Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, MGM musicals, and B-movies with Eric Roberts in them. I still love all of those things to this day, except the Eric Roberts movies. Sorry, Eric. Last week, I had a re-watch of Modern Times. Dudes, that shit is still relevant.

Herb and Dorothy
Herb and Dorothy Vogel, if you don't already know, are famous art collectors. What they are famous for is the fact that they are very ordinary people (she a librarian, and he a postal worker) who dedicated themselves to art and artists and have pretty miraculously amassed a collection of art worth millions of dollars, which they then gave away for nothing. I don't really have aspirational couples in my mind, but Herb and Dorothy are pretty damn close. Not because I want to obsessively collect art with Nordic Boy. But the other stuff about them. They're just inspiring to me.

Lost Sparrow
This was really compelling and well done. Sad, sad, sad.

Blue Scholars- Big Bank Hank
I love Blue Scholars. I have been dragging to work each morning this week, and listening to this on the way in has woken me up and gotten my brain to snap back into life. Whatcha gon' do today, ya'll?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Aqua Dog

I am having the kind of week where I eat, sleep, and dream work. I have no social plans any nights this week, both Nordic Boy and Biogirl are out of town, so it's crickets around here.

So, I shall have to rifle through the brain archives to think of something to say. And what I have come up with is a true story from my life that I like to call Tucking in the Water Weenie.

Essential to this story is an understanding of the term water weenie. A water weenie is a plastic sheath the size and shape of a hotdog, and this sheath is filled with water. The result is that the water weenie is hard to hold onto, which is supposed to be fun and feel gross, I think. I am not sure in what context a water weenie is really necessary or desired, and I am not going to try to speculate about that here. I have actually never been in the presence of a water weenie ever, present story excepted.

Some years ago, when Biogirl was an undergrad, she went off on some marine biologist researchy training camp thing where they bonded over their love of anemones and sang campfire songs about seahorses (oh I don't know what it was, leave me alone) out in the boonies somewhere. They lived in dorms. Or barracks. Or something. I promise the details get better soon. Someone in the group had possession of a water weenie. And, as people who live in the woods with no media outlets and nothing to occupy themselves do (unlike us city folk who can fill up our time doing important things like watching the Kardashians), they made up silly past times, one of which was to secret away the water weenie, go into a pal's bedroom when they aren't there, put the water weenie in the bed, and then wait for the hapless victim to climb in, only to find the squishy disgusting feeling of weenie against thigh, which, if you were very lucky, could make them scream in fright/repulsion.

Let's set aside the fact that these are young nubile pre-scientists who clearly should have been using this time in the woods to get it on with each other rather than play water weenie games with badly disguised or rather glaring sexual overtones. Because we can all see that.

Months later, Biogirl was back in the city, living a normal life in an apartment, with no more weenies in her bed. At least, none that she didn't invite there on purpose.

One day, I got an email from one of Biogirl's friends from Bio-camp. He was in town (or maybe he was always in town, and was moving away soon, details are hazy about that dude) and thought it would be hilarious to break out the water weenie trick, in this setting, where she would never suspect! And could I help pull it off?

I told you we were putting aside sexual overtones, everyone. Just do me a favor and try to.

I think I had met that guy maybe all of two times, always in group settings. I didn't know that guy. So it was kind of weird that he was enlisting my help on the water weenie thing, but I can see why he did it, I guess. You want to get to Biogirl, you come to me. There's logic in that, I suppose.

This is the part where you can tell that I was young and stupid. If someone came to me with that foolishness now? I would get out of it. Tell him to take care of his own weenie caper. Say no. I am good at saying no now. But then? I didn't want to be mean. So I gave a half-hearted yes.

I was to be the instrument of water weenie delivery. First, he wanted me to come meet him somewhere for the weenie hand-off (oh jeez), but I really didn't want to go out of my way for this weenie madness, so I said no. Ok fine, he said, I will drop by her apartment in the middle of the day and leave it somewhere for you. But where? I don't know, I said. She has some plants on her front step.

Brilliant, he said. And he went to her place and stuck his weenie in her bush.

Ok, I admit I tried to make it sound dirty that time.
I was supposed to go over to Biogirl's that night. I enlisted the help of our pal Jenny, because I couldn't stand to be alone in this stupidity and Nordic Boy was having none of it. The plan was that we would swipe the weenie out of the bushes and put it in one of our purses before ringing the doorbell. But how would we get it into her room? I wasn't going to just go into her bedroom by myself for no reason. We should have come up with a plan ahead of time, but we decided to improvise.

Right before we were supposed to leave for the night, I thought that if I could get Biogirl to go into her 2nd bedroom, then Jenny could do the deed. I remembered that Biogirl had her camping equipment stored in the closet of the second bedroom. So I said this: "Biogirl, I am thinking about buying some camping equipment. Specifically, a good sleeping bag. What kind do you have? Can I see it?"

To this day, I can't understand why Biogirl didn't see right through that mess. ME, asking about camping equipment? The likelihood of me buying camping equipment is about the same as me buying a spacesuit for my next trip to Mars. But she totally fell for it. "Come on, I'll show you."

The two of us went into the 2nd bedroom, and Jenny went into the other one, and deposited the weenie into the bed.


Except Jenny is not one to believe a statement like that from our president or anyone else. She was under the impression that we had to see the mission through to the very end. Like, that we had to actually witness the shock and disgust when Biogirl found the weenie.

Why did she think that? I don't know. I thought our duty was done.

As we started to wind up the evening and get our coats on and such, I could see Jenny starting to panic. We were leaving! How would we know if the water weenie joke worked? I tried to make eye contact with her. We're out, I wanted to say, leave it alone! We are done with this weenie caper!

And then, Jenny opened her mouth, and with a complete straight face, she said this:

"You know, I think that before we leave, we should TUCK YOU INTO BED."

There was just a second of silence (because what else can you do but let that one sink in for a moment), and then Biogirl laughed. And then so did I.

Ha ha! Good one, Jenny! That's funny! Ok, let's go home now!


And then we all looked at each other. And then Biogirl got a look on her face that was equal parts suspicion, fear, and wanting to be a good sport to a joke that she didn't get.

Biogirl: Um, why would we do that?
Jenny: Because it would be funny!
Me: (making eyes at Jen that said ABORT! ABORT!)
Biogirl: What's going on?
Jenny: Nothing! I just think it would be funny!
Me: I uh...
Biogirl: Why? Why is that funny?
Jenny: Oh come on. Just do it!

I don't know what possessed her, but she said...ok.

So the three of us walked into her bedroom, and she- looking at us with complete mistrust and never turning her back on us the entire time- backed up to her bed, fully clothed in her daytime attire, pulled her blankets back, and got into her bed.

Let's just freeze-frame for a second. All became clear when she discovered the water weenie, as to why things had transpired thusly. But up until that moment, what did she think was going on? It was clear that she thought we were playing some kind of prank on her, but what? She couldn't have suspected the water weenie because we weren't at biology nerd research camp with her. And why did she comply with the tucking in business? And what possessed Jenny to think that tucking her friend in was a convincing ruse? And why didn't I just break down and tell Biogirl what was going on and fuck the water weenie joke, which wasn't even my joke to begin with but that I was taking way too much responsibility for?

It is kind of fascinating to think about what each of us was thinking in these moments. I don't think I can really explain any of it, even my own actions.

My only conclusions to draw from this story are the following:

1. Jenny should not be a secret agent.

2. If I ask you about camping equipment advice, I am up to something.

3. When in doubt about how to complete a caper, offer to tuck someone into bed.

4. If a dude wants to give his weenie to a girl, there really shouldn't be a middleman.

Monday, December 06, 2010

A Christmas Spasm

I took a vacation day and revelled in a three day weekend this week. And it was d'lightful. Mainly because of my night Friday, when I went to the Garden D'Lights. What cracks me up the most about the Garden D'Lights is that it sort of pretends to be classy. No gaudy mall-style elves or candy canes. Just plants. What could be more classy than plants?

But really, when you get down to it, this stuff is just like Vegas. My friends and I kept hoping Elton John or Cher would show up in the middle of it all. Maybe they did but their Bob Mackey outfits blended in too much with the surroundings. Sort of a Vegas camoflage, if you will.

After the flashy garden, we drove into downtown Bellevue (Seattle suburbia city, for those that don't know) for dinner. The streets of Bellevue were oddly crammed with traffic. Weird, I thought, Bellevue is totally happening on a Friday night! I thought it was really weird that mall-land was so full of life, but chalked that up to being stereotypical about the burbs. People are out enjoying nightlife in the burbs- is that so hard to believe? Stop being an asshole, Seattle girl.

We ended up having to park a few blocks away from the restaurant and had to walk through a large mall parking lot to get to where we were going to meet our group of 10 people. In our car was me, Nordic Boy, and our friend Rob. We walked through the parking lot, talking. All of a sudden, Rob says: "what is that? Is it snowing?" We all looked up, and it did indeed look like it was, except for the fact that it was in the upper 40s. We took a closer look and it was little tiny bubbles (hello, Don Ho, sing your song for us, why don't you?) floating around in the air. We kept walking. Then we heard music in the distance. The music was getting louder. "What IS that?" Rob said. We didn't know. The music and the bubbles increased in volume. And more. And more. And more.

Dudes, then we turned the corner and were swallowed by what can only be described as a CHRISTMAS SPASM.

There were mobs of people crowding the main street. MOBS. Like, all of a sudden we couldn't move through. We had to kind of push. And the music! Blasting! And there were people dressed up in plushy polar bear outfits, and they were jumping up and down, and dancing, and fist pumping! And there were dudes dressed up like toy soldiers, and they were up on top of pedastals, playing drums and dancing like Christmas gogo dancers! And wavy rainbow lights on all the buildings! And did I mention it was LOUD? Everyone was dancing, and clapping, and having FITS of good cheer. Like, seriously. FITS.

We pushed our way through this surreal scene. "Why? Why is this happening to us?" said Rob.

I've tried to find a good youtube video of this mess. It was such an awesome, awesome mess. I really want you to see it. But all the footage I can find focuses only on the toy soldier gogo drummers and goes over the heads of the crazy crowds and plushy polar bears. So just try to imagine it. It was BAH-NAY-NAYS.

On Saturday, we went to see A Christmas Story- The Musical. It was ok as far as musicals go, although I found it to be disjointed and there wasn't a really catchy song anywhere in there, which I always look for in a musical, but that's just me. But the thing that got me the most about this musical? First of all, the mom character sings this horrid song about motherhood that was (make way, Women's Studies student here) pretty essentialist. Can we stop making random lists of things that "good mothers" do, please? No, apparently we cannot. Secondly, they went and threw in some straight up racist boolshizz in that musical, out of nowhere. I don't remember if this was in the movie or not, but even if it was, it's not necessary to the plot and so leave that shit out, musical writers. Geez. An Asian waiter that gets laughs because he sings "Deck the halls with boughs of holly, fa ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra?" SRSLY? And white characters who can't believe- CAN'T BELIEVE- that they have to eat chow mein on CHRISTMAS? Because, wow, that is so crazy, ya'll! Eating weird food from the foreigners on the Lord's birthday! Let's make a big deal about it, ok?

So yeah. Thumbs down. I can see a mediocre play and be just fine, but throw that Fu Manchu crap in there and I am dunzo.

On the upside, my city looked pretty that night.

On Sunday, I went to visit my friend H and her two little girls, who were as cute as can be. Biogirl and I got involved in an exciting game of Hi Ho the Cherry Oh with a three year old and caught up with H. It was sweet.

The rest of my weekend was eaten up by not-so-fun family medical issues and suchlike, which was not cool at all. Decembers tend to rain crap on me, and this one was not off to a good start in that respect. So blah, blech, and phooey about that.

Still, did I mention we saw a Christmas spasm??

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Photography lesson

On Thanksgiving, there were many picturesque things that I could have taken photos of. We had awesome food, including a cranberry-apple crisp made by Biogirl, and snowy gorgeousness outside our windows, and a beautiful table set and full of all sorts of lovely items. And there was us, hungry, then not so hungry, then cozy, but happy all the way through.
But nope. I took one photo that day.

That would be butter, in the shape of a turkey, and turkey candleholders, and a butter spreader with a pumpkin handle (Biogirl really can go to a very themey place and you gotta love a girl like that). And cranberry "sauce."

I have an eye for the really important things in life. Obviously.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

30 more days

It's December 1st, dudes. Crikey.

I don't hate December. However, it is, without a doubt, my least favorite month of the year. The reasons for that are long and boring and the only reason you would ever want to hear about them is if you were my therapist and getting paid by the hour, so I shall spare you. Suffice it to say, December: I could skip the whole dang thing.

I never quite know what to do about this feeling, so I vacillate between wanting to close the blinds, get under the covers, and read a book until the new year, OR cram as much social activity into the month as I possibly can, in order to make the time go faster with really! fun! things! So I do a little bit of both- either hermit it up or party it up, with not a lot of middle ground.

So, here it is, December 1st, and I am feeling the blahs about the whole thing already. On the first day! Usually I can get it up for the first week or two.

In an attempt to get rid of the December Phooeys, here's a list of things I like about December. Let's see how many I can do.

1. Hallmark Channel Countdown to Christmas. Oh yes. Horrible made-for-tv Christmas movies! I looked on the website and counted up the offerings and the month of December will offer up fifty one different movies in this stoopid genre. Fifty one! And YES I COUNTED. That's like eating nothing but Cheetos for 25 days straight. And you know what I say? BRING IT. Saturate me in melted holiday cheese.

2. Days off. I have never taken extra days off of work in December, ever. I guess that's weird, but only a limited number of people can have time off at one time in Libraryland, and so why would I take up that time if I don't really care that it's Christmas, when other people really do care and could use the time? So, no extra days off for me, but! my regular work calendar has come out in such a way as to have three day weekends three whole times this month. So that's rad.

3. Gaudy holiday lights on people's houses. A twinkling light here and there, eh, ok. But the rare household that goes all out, Griswold style, with eye-popping displays with moving parts and stuff? LOVE IT.

4. People getting dressed up. I am a person who gets dressed up at every opportunity- I think I was born in the wrong era when it comes to clothes. December is a dressy time overall, it seems to me. Christmas plays, the Nutcracker, holiday parties and New Year bashes, people get gussied up. That makes me happy.

5. Not traveling. This one should actually be #1 on the list, it makes me so happy. When I was a student, I always got my ass on a plane every December because that was when Christmas break was, and so it was the most convenient time to see the fam. Visiting the fam was fun, but the travelling part? HELL ON EARTH. When I was no longer a student and not tied to an academic schedule of any kind, a sort of moment of serenity came over me where angels came from the heavens and said "You don't have to travel during the holidays any longer! You can orchestrate your life to travel whenever you choose!" From then on, I made a policy- a POLICY- out of not traveling during Thanksgiving weekend or the last two weeks of December. And now when I hear all my stressed out friends talking about travel horror stories, and see people pulling out their hair as they torture themselves with holiday travel season, I sing an inner carol of thankfulness called "I ain't doing that! I ain't doing that!" It's only in my head, but it's a joyful noise.

That's all I got. Five things may not seem like a lot, but for me, in December, it's getting me through.

What's your all-time favorite thing about December?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Beautiful Day for a Neighbor

The snow is all gone now and so my city has gone back to its regularly scheduled soggy drip. Somehow, rain seems colder than snow. It's just so...damp and clammy.

The rest of the holiday weekend was pretty much taken up by full on joyful hysteria over the fact that Biogirl is moving to a house within shouting distance of my house, right on my street, right there, OMG, right there! This got me thinking about relationships in my life that were made even more awesome by geographic proximity. Dudes, I feel a hearken coming on! I am about to hearken back! And listing is also imminent! Listing and hearkening: commencing!

1. My sister and I shared a bedroom when I was a kid, up until she left for college when I was 10. My sister was, by far, the most important person in my life for my entire childhood and our sharing a room made my worship of her that much stronger. Lying in our beds, listening to The Clash on her super cool record player, away from my stinky brothers: heaven. She probably hated having me there during her teen years, but I'm so glad that we had to share a room. All the better to try to make myself into a mini-me of her coolness. I think I am still probably doing that to this day.

2. After my sister left, I got a new roomie, at least part time: my cousin. My uncle often would work the night shift at the car factory, so my aunt and cousin would come spend the night at our house a lot. I graduated to my sister's bed, and my cousin would sleep in my old bed. It was like a total switcheroo- the age difference between us was the same as it was between me and my sister. Now I got to be the (sort of) cool older one. I remember, when she was about 5 years old, she would have nightmares and come wake me up to come sleep in my bed with me. Having her scared little self huddled up with me made me feel a protectiveness that I had never felt before. I still feel that way about her.

3. Allison lived in my neighborhood from the time we were like three or four. I have walked my ass to her mom's house so many times in the past 3 decades that I'm surprised the pavement isn't worn out between her mom's and mine. The thing I remember about her living there was that she was so damn accessible. Sleepovers were easy, getting to school together and back was cake. I remember having a crush on this unattainable dude (who was in a band! who rode a motorcycle! who was 24!) our senior year in high school, and the afternoon when I actually somehow managed to make out with him? I ran to her house immediately to tell her. I could have called her, or another friend, but she was right there to OHMYGODDDDD in person. There are still times even now where something big will happen to me and my first impulse is to want to run out the door and somehow get to Alli's house.

4. I had many roommates growing up when I went to the various dance schools I went to, but my favorite friends were Kim and Marcy. The three of us lived on the same floor of our dorm, and we were inseparable. I was 13 years old at the time, and living by myself in New York City ("NEW YORK CITY!? GET A ROPE!" Sorry, I just have to say that) but was in classes with older girls who were 16 and 17. Kim and Marcy took me under their wing and, well, ok, they exposed me to shit that I probably shouldn't have been exposed to, but dang, I loved those girls. They talked about s-e-x at a time when I was still calling it s-e-x. They were always very conscious of the fact that I was a kid- they all smoked and swore and had clandestine meetups with boys, but would never had allowed me to try any of it. They rocked.

5. The first colleg roommate I had was Liz, who at first glance had nothing in common with me. She was shy and dignified, I was loud and um, if anyone ever called me dignified when I was 18 I'll be a junkie's uncle. She came to school with a pink flowered bedspread with matching ruffled pillows and my sheets had Snoopy as the Red Baron on them (hello 18-year-old-me, you are trying too hard to be ironic). Liz turned out to have a silly sense of humor and we spent many a night laughing until we were literally on the floor. Her friends were not people I hung out with, and mine weren't her favorite either, and I often think about how, had we not been roommates, we would never have gotten so close.

6. My other notable college roommate was Nan. Nan was around during some of the bumpiest days of my life and was pretty much the reason I made it through.

7. My big bro. Read about when he took me in. Pretty good guy, that one.

8. I lived with a couple of dudes before shacking up with Nordic Boy. Meh, not so awesome. Let's just call those learning experiences. Or just dumb. Either one.

9. I moved in with Nordic Boy, who is the first roomie I have encountered that understands the importance of singalongs and making up silly dances in a roommate relationship.

10. Before I went to grad school, I knew Neighbor J sort of, just through a mutual friend. We went to a party at her place- a duplex of super cute proportions. "If the unit next door ever becomes available, let us know," I said. And like a month later, it did. This led to the defining neighborly relationship of my life. Neighbor J and I fell in friendship love like nobody's business. We would carry on conversations through the wall, and we would eat dinner together every summer night in our backyard, and we would have afternoon tea times, and just do every last thing together. It really was one of the best times in my life.

11. Delium is not really my neighbor- he lives one neighborhood away from me, but the fact that he and I went to college together in a teeny tiny Michigan town and all these years later we both live across the country within one mile of each other, and we didn't even do that on purpose, is pretty weird. But great.

12. The Soggy Librarian and I were work friends for a little while. Well, more like work acquaintances that were friendly. I always sort of had a friendcrush on her, but we never really did anything outside of work. One day, we were at a meeting, and she told me that she had bought a house on my street. I remember, in that moment, having a sort of Wayne Campbell thing happen where I thought "You will be my friend now. Oh yes. You will be my friend." Creepy? Ok fine. But I was right.

And now, Biogirl. We have been through thick and thin together, the two of us, but one thing we have never done is to be neighbors. Until now. Yippee!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Woman of Character Part 2

As an addendum to my conversation with Nordic Boy about which characters remind him of me, I have a post script.

First of all, I asked him why he said Baltar. He just shrugged and said "Because he's funny. And you're funny." So you see that he either did not put a lot of thought into that choice or he just doesn't want to tell me to my face that he thinks I am an unscrupulous weirdo.

Second of all, after the indignity of being compared to Baltar, I asked Delium what fictional characters reminded him of me. Without even thinking, he said "Oliver Twist!"

Oliver fucking Twist? ME?

Me: We can't leave it at that. Give me another one.
Delium: Brian Cooper from Dr. Quinn Medicine woman.


First of all, Delium pulled Dr. Quinn out of his ass, am I right? Second of all, you might be asking yourself who Brian Cooper is. Check this out.

So, apparently, to Delium, I remind him of little blond boys from the olden days. Oliver Twist and Brian Cooper.

I don't even know what to think. Except that I will never ask anyone that question ever again.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Consumables #33

Hope you all had a loverly Thanksgiving! We were invited to a couple of T-Day celebrations but after the week I just had, we decided to ditch them and stay home for the day. I finally got that cozy snow day that I had been longing for, where we slept in (and I have now firmly established myself as a Very Old Lady because "sleeping in" in my world means that we got up at 8:30), walked around in the snow (this time for more than 10 minutes), read on the couch, cooked, and beat the shit out of each other on the Wii. For dinner, Biogirl came over and we ate, talked, and watched a movie. I realized that this was the first Thanksgiving in a long time where we weren't hosting a shindig or going to someone else's hootenanny. It was nice.

Also, this week:

It was on tv, so we watched it. There is a scene in this movie that made Nordic Boy laugh until he cried and almost passed out. It's the scene where Will Farrell belches for a really long time. That's all, nothing else. If there are two things that will make Nordic Boy pee his pants laughing, it's a long belch and someone getting hit in the nuts. I hate to get all gender-stereotypey, but is that a guy thing? I don't know. I mean, I think it's funny too, yes. But weeping with hilarity? I don't know. I love to see him laugh that hard though.

Love, Actually
I want to answer my phone by saying "Hello, I'm very busy and important, how can I help you?" from now on.

Longoria Affair
I started to tell someone about this movie and they were all "they already made a MOVIE about Eva Longoria's divorce?" But nopes, this one is a documentary about the first Mexican American soldier to be buried in Arlington National Cemetary because people would not allow him a military burial in his hometown due to his ethnicity. Tony Parker does not appear.

Home for the Holidays
"Par par bogey bogey par par."

The Last Stand, by Nathaniel Philbrick
Almost done with this, and it turns out Custer was a total dick. 500 pages to learn that shocker. I knew the history of this battle pretty well going in, but the details in this account, especially about each person involved, were pretty dang fascinating. Old Man Book, score!

Blister in the Sun, by Violent Femmes
I heard this song this morning and thought about how, when I was a kid, I thought the counting part was just, you know, counting. I didn't realize what he was counting. Because of that, I still think of it as a sort of cute counting song, along the lines of something one would hear on Sesame Street. Note to self: don't sing this as a lullaby while babysitting.

When I was a teenager, I was in choir. We did everything, from the full Mozart Coronation Mass to holiday carols in Middle English to showtunes to pop songs. One year, we did a song called Fruitcake, for our December concert. It was the stupidest, silliest crap you have ever heard, and we had full on choreography to spice it up even more. I had never heard of that song before that, nor after. The only other person I have ever met that knows that song is my friend Nan, who was also in choir in high school. This got me thinking that maybe the song only exists in the vortex that is high school choir or show choir. Then, I got on the magical interwebs and confirmed. Many kids' choirs are being subjected to Fruitcake, The Song. And many of them are attempting choreography to go along with it. Because when you sing about a nasty holiday loaf, you must dance, or at the very least pantomime about it, am I right?

This rendition is awesome. Not because it's the most polished, but just because these kids are embracing the cheese, and you all know how much I love that. Plus they have a sort of robot style that I am digging. Robots, Fruitcake, Show Choir. Three things that should always go together.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Woman of Character

There's a meme going around Facebook that says to list 15 characters that are like you, or that have influenced you, or something.

Me: What fictional characters remind you of me?
Nordic Boy: Lorelei Gilmore.
Me: Nice.
Nordic Boy: And Elaine Benis.
Me: I guess I can see that.
Nordic Boy: And Captain Picard.
Me: You can stop listing now. It's getting weird.
Nordic Boy: And...Gaius Baltar.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I feel like I haven't posted in weeks. It's only been a few days, but in those days, we got about 4-5 inches worth of snow in Seattle. And in case I have never mentioned it before, Seattle goes NUTS when there is snow. I used to think this was really weird, being from the Midwest where this much snow was a regular day in winter and could hardly be categorized as a blizzard. But now, I see why people go nuts. It's because of the hills. Holy spinout, the HILLS. Driving in snow is all well and dandy when things are flat like they were where I grew up. But steep inclines and tons of snow and ice? It's a fricking nightmare.

Because the Library is a vital city service we have to stay open as much as we can. I know that many of you may think that an urban library system is a nice thing to have, and you may be making a face at my using the word vital, but trust me. There are thousands of people who do not have access to computers. That should go without saying, but I am always sort of amazed about the number of people who don't know this. And if you need a computer to access things like applying for food stamps, and unemployment, and military benefits, and checking email and whatever else, if the library shuts down for a few days, you're fucked. Not to mention people who don't have adequate heat in weather like this and just want to come in for a while to not freeze their balls off.

What that means, for all of my colleagues, is that we kind of break our necks to stay open as much as we possibly can. And what that means for me personally, is that I spend a lot of time when I am not at work calling people and figuring out who can come to work and who can't, and trying to come up with enough folks to open our doors. Which means that I pretty much am working from 6am until 10 or 11 at night, either at work, or at home.

I'm not saying this to complain. I am just saying it because the downside to snow days in Libraryland, for me, is that I am so in work land, in my head, that I sort of miss out on enjoying the snow. I forget to take a moment to make some hot chocolate and curl up on my couch and watch it come down outside.

Yesterday, Nordic Boy forced me to drop the worky stuff for 10 minutes so we could go for a walk before going to work. "Just walk around the block with me!" he said. "I can't!" I said. "TEN MINUTES," he said. And so I did.

We tromped around, and watched all the kids sledding down our hilly street, and we held each other by both hands and slid around on purpose, pretending to be (very, very clumsy) figure skaters. It was a good ten minutes.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Geezer Book Love

In lieu of my usual laundry-list style consumables this week, I am going to focus on one thing. And that thing is the Joy of the Old Man Book.

If you are a person who is interested in books or the publishing industry at all, you probably know that there is something out there called Chick Lit. I'm not going to try to define what Chick Lit is, because that term is hotly debated and you can hear about that whole mess in many other places besides here. But we can all probably say- whether we agree with the term or not- that we kinda sorta know what is meant when people talk about Chick Lit. We know, or at least we think we know, that it's a way to market to a demographic. The term originally probably came from some Don Draper type. And I agree with the critics of the term that it's come to mean something derogatory and dismissive. All I have to say about that, in my uber articulate way is: not cool.

However! I do have to say that grouping books into a sort of reader profile can be pretty helpful sometimes when part of your job is to recommend books to hundreds and hundreds of stangers. If someone says that they like Jodi Picoult, and you ask them what exactly it is about Jodi Picoult that they like, what they say might lead you to recommend Anna Quindlen. Or if they say something different about Picoult, you might say Nicholas Sparks would be the direction to try. Or if something else was said, you might try Alice Hoffman with that person. And so on. But things that seem really similar can sometimes totally bomb. People that love Jackie Collins don't automatically love Danielle Steel or Judith Krantz. A lot of the time they do, but not all the time.

There is a science and an art to reader's advisory, and we librarians spend a lot of time thinking about how to do it well. We write books about it, we have meetings to talk about best practices about it. We set up databases about it. We have lots and lots of theoretical discussions about it. It is a bonafide Big Hairy Deal to us. So although there is a part of me that despises the term Chick Lit, there is also a part of my brain that sees that term as just as legitimate of a place to start to talk books with someone as anything else. It's a complicated alchemy, people's taste in books. And in my experience, readers have a hard time explaining what they love about a book (people usually are much more articulate about why they hated a book, however, which is a whole other can of beans). So if they want to use the term Chick Lit when they tell me what they like or don't like, I go with it and start from there. If there are common terms that help people have some language to tell me what they like, so much the better for me to do my job well.

Unfortunately, there aren't very many terms like that that are commonly used by people. It's up to us librarians to decipher what people mean when they say very subjective things like "I like things that are really well written," or "I want a real page turner" or "I like things with really interesting characters." That's usually a place for the librarian to start digging for other clues by talking with the person and asking a lot of questions to figure out what they mean.

I confess that I have little profiles in my head for common reader's advisory questions that I get. There's Legal Thriller Guy (or Girl), and there's Cozy Mystery Girl (or Guy), and there's Dystopian Sci-Fi Lady (or Dude), and there's Political Biography Dude (or Lady). This isn't to limit what I am going to recommend to the point where it's restrictive, but it does give me a ballpark from which to start. Sometimes that ballpark will end up with a result that makes the person happy, and sometimes the person lets me know that I have totally misread what ballpark I think they are in at all. ("Oh, you like House on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford AND Indian Killer by Sherman Alexie because they are both set in Seattle! I get it. So tell me more about...")

One of the profiles that I have discovered is what I have termed, in my own mind, the Old Man Book. Please forgive me, as I understand that this profile is sexist and ageist in much the same way as Chick Lit is, but there you have it. The Old Man Book has to do with the following topics: wars (most usually The Civil War and both World Wars), certain very specific historical figures (US Presidents, Lewis and Clark to name two), the history of baseball and maybe football (Satchel Page! Knute Rockne!), various forms of nautical-ness (The Master and Commander series, viking exploration, Christopher Columbus), and such-like.

Of all the profiles above, I see how they can be a bit helpful at times, but only as a starting point. Because when I think about how I read, I can fit into any one of those profiles, depending on the book and depending on the day. I can be Cozy Mystery Lady, or Dystopian Sci-Fi Lady, or Political Biography Lady, or Celebrity Tell-All Lady, or Esoteric Philosphy Lady, or Comic Book Geeky Lady, Or Travel Memoir Lady, or Magical Realism Lady, or Paranormal Romance Lady. People usually aren't their profile, or just one profile. And part of the fun of being a librarian is helping someone discover something outside of their norm. Or even helping them discover something in their norm. Just helping them discover something is the fun part.

But let me just confess this. It's true I can and do read in all of the profiles above, and more. But if I am going to be real here, I have to tell you. There is a big part of my reading tastes that GETS OFF on the Old Man Book. My brand of Old Man Books tends to be historical. World Wars, Civil War, Revolutionary War. Oh yeah. I love it. Love, love, love it. Demographically, I guess I "should" be more of a Chick Lit reader. But in some ways I am more Statler and Waldorf and less Carrie Bradshaw. Maybe a lot of ways.

I just checked out The Last Stand: Custer, Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn and I am going to crack into that 500 page sucker today. And I CAN NOT WAIT. Don't hate. Appreciate.

On a related note, I really want this t-shirt

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Do Me a Solid

The other morning as we were getting ready for our day, Nordic Boy's phone rang. It was one of his sisters calling from Ohio. She's thinking of buying a car and she wanted his advice. Nordic Boy has four sisters. And when they need advice: about life, about relationships, about money, about anything, they call him up. This fact never ceases to amaze the living daylights out of me. Like, sometimes I just sit there and stare at him while he is having these conversations with them. That's how much it fascinates me.

Don't get me wrong. Nordic Boy is a great person to talk to, and his advice on things is stellar. He's a smarty, and a great listener, and he will tell you the truth no matter what, and he's kind. So really, a perfect advice-giving blend. That's not the part that blows my mind. The part that blows my mind is that his sisters-- his SISTERS-- call him when they need something.

My siblings? Call me up to ask me for advice about something?


I've got two brothers and a sister. And I love them all. But the day that any one of them would have a Life Issue and think to themselves "Self, I need to pick up that phone and ask Librarian Girl what she thinks about this one," is the day that sparkle fairies fly out of my crack.

Why is this, I wonder. It's not a question of birth order, as Nordic Boy is not the oldest in his family. It's not a question of competence (um, I don't think), as I am a fully functioning member of adultkind. So I don't know what it is. I have called upon my siblings from time to time. Sure, not that often, but it has been known to happen. Like, maybe I've done that once every couple of years or so. But them, calling me? Not. gonna. happen.

I have to admit, this bugs me. You've never wanted to know my opinion about something, people who have known me our whole entire lives? Anything? NEVER? Like, never, ever? Ever?

Apparently, nope. Not ever.

Why should that matter?

I think I can illustrate it best using an anecdote about one of the best pieces of advice I ever heard my brother give. (Talking about why it bugs me that my siblings don't ever ask me for advice via a story about advice given by my sibling? HOW META CAN YOU GET?)

A few years ago, my brother was visiting me in Seattle and we went out for lunch with Neighbor J. Neighbor J had just moved into a new house, and there was an elderly couple that shared a driveway with her. The wife was sweet to Neighbor J from the start. The husband was a bit gruff. Neighbor J knew that the husband had a sweet interior in there somewhere (grumpster with a heart of gold, party of one), and she was trying as hard as she could to connect with him, but it wasn't working. She wanted to have good relationships with her new neighbors, and she was pulling out all the stops, being as chatty and smiley as she could be, but it wasn't working. She was starting to think that Grumpy Husband might never come around.

My brother's main cache in life is that he is charming. He can charm the pants off of anyone,(and when we were younger that could be quite literal: I don't know how many times I had to tell my girlfriends YOU CANNOT DATE MY BROTHER SO JUST LOOK AWAY because that would be too weird for me). And so he listened to Neighbor J lament about her grumpy neighbor, and this is what he said:

"You know what you need to do? You just need to ask him to do something for you. Come up with a favor and then ask him to help you. That'll thaw him right out."

And then we just sat there for a moment. What? Why would that solve anything? Ask him to do something for you? Why?

Neighbor J let that one sink in. And then she went home and tried it. I believe she had a busted up tv or something in her garage, and she knew that Grumpy Husband was a retired engineer, and so she asked him to fix it. And he did. And he softened. And that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They're still friends, even now. He came to her baby shower, and her 30th birthday party. They're buds.

I never forgot that piece of advice. I thought it was pretty dang good. My brother, the Yoda of Charm School. Asking someone to do you a favor is powerful. It shows them you respect them, and you trust them to help you with something, and of all the people in the world to ask, you chose them. You're honoring their experience, their expertise. You see them. People appreciate that.

Anyway. I was thinking about that the other day, as Nordic Boy chatted away on the phone with his sister, and how true it was. There has never been a doubt in my mind that Nordic Boy's entire family not only loves him, but holds him in the highest esteem. They respect him, a lot. I've been really moved by how they treat that dude on many an occassion. It's really beautiful, actually, and I never really broke down what it was that got me about it. But that's what it is. And that's sort of what made me feel wistful about my siblings. I know they love me. But that particular brand of showing it? I've missed out on that from them my whole life. So when I see it happening constantly in the Nordic Boy clan, it just gets me.

Then, over the weekend, I got a call from my other brother. And he was thinking about this thing he had to do for work, and did I know of any resources that could help him with it?

I could have fallen over. Really. It was a small conversation, totally off the cuff, but it shifted something for me. It's hard to explain what I mean. I just felt...something different. I don't know, maybe it was the tremor I was feeling in my hindquarters from those sparkle fairies, or something.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Poker? I don't even know her! Har har har

This weekend, I:

*was treated to a delicious pan of homemade baked mushroom ravioli made by my Nordic Boy. Rainy evening plus gooey dinner = happy belly.

* went to a show featuring the works of Twyla Tharp. I had the privilege of taking a master class in choreography from Ms. Tharp back in the day, and I am so grateful that I got to soak in wisdom from such a legendary figure, so please don't misunderstand what I am about to say, because I really admire her and think she is awesome. But the half-day I spent in her presence? Gave me the distinct impression that she was weird. In that creative, neurotic way, yes, but still. Wee-yerd. Like, woo-woo. Can you give me specifics? I hear you ask. No, I really don't want to get into it. Just take my word for it. And I suppose if you know anything about dance then you know about Ms. Tharp and this news probably isn't that shocking to you. She's not known for being unweird, let's just say that. The point is that now when I see her work, I just sort of can't stop thinking about how strange a creature she is. And I see her work through the prism of that one slice of time I spent around her. It colors things. Not sure if that's good or bad, but in a way I wish I could turn that memory off when I see her stuff. Does that even make sense? Am I talking shit? Look who's woo-woo now.

We were literally in the very back row. Because we are cheap asses.

*had another delicous meal, this time with friends. My friend Sameer is one of those foodie people who geeks out over food and makes amazing feasts from time to time. My mom is a gourmet cook and there were times, growing up, that I felt like people would befriend her after tasting something she made, merely in the hope that she would make them more food- I shit you not. She knew when people were doing that, and resented it. It's for that reason that I would like to go on record to say that I would totally be friends with Sameer if he couldn't cook a lick- he has many other qualities that make him awesome. But, I would be remiss if I didn't say that the killer cooking is a MAJOR BONUS. I mean oh my GOD. We got to have some fancied up rice, chick pea stew and sweet and sour pumpkin. The carnivores in the group got pomegranate chicken. Just saying what we had doesn't describe the experience, and I wasn't going to whip out my phone to take a photo in the middle of a dinner party, but dang. It was dee-lish-ussss.

*played poker with a group of friends. Like, for real poker. I have never really done that before. Sure, the ante was only $5 and we were betting nickels and quarters, but still. It was for reals, with people who knew what they were doing. I was the dumbshit newbie who had to be told everything, like everything (really, says me, two pair beats one pair? You DON'T SAY!), but my friends are patient and I started to pick it up by the end. Although I didn't win by a long shot, I am proud to say that I walked away from the table up by FOUR BUCKS. Look out, Vegas.

*started to think about sending out holiday cards this year. Have you started any holiday planning, shopping, listmaking? If you're doing that, you should totally shop at Neighbor J's Etsy shop. So many cute things, I know. Just buy one of everything.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Consumables #32

Before I get to the Consumables, let me just tell you this. Nordic Boy and I went out for breakfast yesterday at a restaurant.I ordered my breakfast, with a side of roasted potatoes. The food came, and there were no potatoes. The server said "I'm forgetting something, aren't I?" and I said, yes. The potatoes. She said oh yes, and she would go get them, and off she went. We started to eat and minutes went by. And more minutes. And more. The next time she came by, I flagged her down. I am unfailingly, painfully polite to servers, because I think they have a super hard job and I know they get a lot of shit from cranky people. Plus I don't want them to do weird shit to my food. "I'm sorry, but any word on those potatoes?" She looked surprised, said she was sorry, and said they were coming. I think you know where this is going. Soon, I flagged down a different server. I thought maybe appealing to a third party about the potatoes would help somehow. Could he broker a deal that would get me my potatoes? He was also apologetic, and I saw him go over to our server and talk with her. So anyway. The potatoes never showed up. And our server never came back to explain why. She just came back at the end of our meal to clear our plates and ask us if everything was ok. I said yes, except I never got those potatoes. She smiled serenely and said, "yes, sorry about that" and went on her way. And then she brought us our bill. And the potatoes weren't on there, but I was sort of galled at this. Shouldn't she have given us a free dessert or not charged us for our orange juice or something? Or at least seem a show of concern about the potatoes? Right?

This is the part where I hear Nordic Boy in my head saying "OH MY GOD ENOUGH ABOUT THE POTATOES."

Ok, that is all. I shall never mention the phantom potatoes again.

A play:
On Wednesday night, some friends of ours scored free tickets to see the play The Scarlet Letter. It was pretty good. There are a few parts of the play where Hester and Dimmesdale (oh Hester, couldn't you have picked a dude with a sexier name?) make out, hot and heavy. Although it didn't make me uncomfortable, it did occur to me that it's not very often in life where it's totally socially acceptable to stare at people while they are hardcore sucking face. In movies, sure, but not right up in person. We were in the 5th row. I could see when they were using tongue and when they weren't. A room full of us, old and young, all staring in silence. I've seen plays with nudity and much more racy content than this one had. I've been in strip clubs, burlesque shows, that sort of thing, sure. But for some reason this thought has never occurred to me. Maybe because prolonged kissing seems more intimate somehow, or something.

A tv show:
Nordic Boy and I have not been spending a ton of time at home this week, and when we are home, we're tired. As a result of this, plus the uber-coziness of the weather and the time change, we have been wanting to watch something beloved, something that makes us feel warm and snuggly. So, we re-started watching Deadwood. Hey, for some people, holing up and watching Miracle on 34th Street makes them feel fuzzy inside. For us, it's watching dirty people call each other cocksuckers in flowery borderline blank verse.

A book:
Nordic Boy is a big reader, but he does not read fiction. Ever. I really don't think I have ever seen him read anything fiction, not even once. Nordic Boy is also someone who is a fan of the Harry Potter movies. Not the books, since, obviously, he has never read them. He is dying to know what happens in the last installment. He keeps asking me, "what happens in the last book? How does it end?" For those of you who have read the last book, I think you will understand that there is no way in hell I can summarize that shit. Too many things happen. He just needs to wait for the movie to come out, or read the dang book. But he can't wait, and he won't read that book. So, I went out and got the goldarn Sparknotes for it. Yes I did. This week, before we went to bed, Nordic Boy asked me to read him the first chapter aloud. "We can do a chapter a night," he said.

I started to read, and although I am paraphrasing, it really did go something like this:

"Snape and Voldemort meet. Snape tells Voldemort where Harry is hiding and what day he is going to be moved to another location. Deatheater Yaxley disagrees and says it's a different date. Voldemort believes Snape, showing his confidence in him. Voldemort then kills a Hogwarts professor who has been captured."

Me: (closing the book)
Nordic Boy: That's Chapter One?
Me: Yep.
Nordic Boy: Maybe we'll read a few chapters every night.
Me: (opening the book) Good idea.

A song:
I had yesterday off for Veteran's Day. This made Wednesday feel like Friday, and yesterday felt like Saturday in the morning, but Sunday at night. Today I woke up totally thinking it was Monday. On my favorite radio station, KEXP, the morning DJ tends to play "You Push, I'll Go," by Baby Dayliner on Friday mornings. It was only on my drive in to work, when that song came on, that I realized it was Friday and that the weekend is almost here. That song has a Pavlovian response for me. I hear it and I get happy. Friday! Sweet!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Making an Exit

This weekend, Biogirl came over because she needed a picture taken of herself for her work website, and she nominated me as the photographer. That girl is so funny about getting her photo taken, you guys. I know that many people don't like getting their photos taken, and it's not my favorite thing either, but really, I would love to see Biogirl as a contestant on America's Next Top Model. Although I think it might kill her dead from sheer self-consciousness though, so no, I guess I don't want to see that.

Anyway, so we walked to a local park and I took pretty pictures of my pretty friend. Except maybe I wasn't the best choice in terms of photographer. Not that I take a particularly bad photo- I am ok. But she was really, really not comfortable. And I am not the person in her life to make her calm down in situations like that. Actually, all I did was make her giggle more. And more. I have a friend, Andrea, who is a professional photographer, and I have had the privilege of sitting for photos by her a number of times. She is a master at making one feel comfy and natural. I kept thinking of Andrea. How does she do that? It's like she has a potion for photo confidence that she slips you or something. A smile-and-relax mickey. I tried to channel Andrea, but really, it was kind of a failure. I am prone to get the giggle fits with that Biogirl anyway, and so really it was doomed from the get-go. Luckily, she is head of the Pretty Committee so getting a good shot turned out ok.

After that, Nordic Boy, Delium and I walked to lunch (gorgeous autumn days, still with us, thank you baby jeebus). Delium announced that he had heard of something that CHANGED HIS LIFE. If I had a nickel for every time I have heard the phrase "...and it CHANGED MY LIFE..." come out of Delium, I would be sailing a yacht into early retirement by now. But that's just how that guy is. It's endearing. So I decided to adopt the Change My Life stance for the afternoon. We tried a new restaurant and I said that if it was good, it was going to Change My Life! As soon as I said it, Delium lit up. "NOW, you are speaking my language, lady!" What does it say when you can make fun of someone right to their face and they not only know what you are doing, they love you for doing it?

Later that night, I took some of my clothes to a clothing swap party and fundraiser for a local queer youth organization. We piled all of our clothes in a pile and went through them to see if we wanted to take home anything anyone else broughted. I had made a dinner date with Nordic Boy for after, which meant that I dropped my stuff off, talked to my friends, picked out a few sweet items, and then maintained my reign of First Person to Leave A Party. I don't know how it always ends up that way, but it just does. I guess I am just classy that way.

When The Soggy Librarian got married, I showed up to the venue and took my seat. The minute the ceremony was over, people started to move into the dining area to get their reception on. I grabbed my sweater and put it on, just because I was cold. My friend Jennifer looked at me and said, "Oh, are you leaving? Have a good night!" She thought that I was going to just waltz right on out of there before people had even gotten up from their chairs post-ceremony. And I don't blame her for thinking that. She's known me long enough to see that it's usually the back of my head that you see at a party, gliding out the door before people have even finished their first drink.

I really should work on that habit. If I did, I am sure it would CHANGE MY LIFE.

Monday, November 08, 2010

True Blue

Saturday, I gotta tell you, I was feeling a bit blue. I worked at the library all day, which was a good day. The library was packed and I got to work out on the public floor helping patrons for a lot of my day and there is nothing like my job, sometimes, to make a person feel useful. Helping person after person, with all kinds of problems to be solved (what book to read next? how to write an effective resume? how to study for citizenship test? where are historical photos of my house? and on, and on, and on). There really isn't anything like it.

But still, I was blue.

The reason I was blue was because I knew that that very evening, my favorite Michigan girls were getting together for a birthday bash for Alli. They were going to meet up at a super fancy restaurant in Detroit (they do TOO have those in Detroit) for eatsie eatsie drinky drinky, and then stumble up to a block of rooms in the Westin in the wee hours for some semblance of shut-eye.

They, over there. And me, over here. I love Seattle, I really do. And I don't want to leave my adopted city. But at times like this? I want to tear my hair out for lack of a transporter. I WANTED TO GO SEE MY LADIES. SOOOOO BAD. Like, bad. Really, really bad. Bad.

I felt a little misty as I drove home from work that night, if you want to know what a big baby poopy pants I was being about the whole thing.

I got home, and I got into my pajamas, and Nordic Boy got us take-out Chinese food, and we settled in to watch the sixth Harry Potter movie (geek alert: we've been re-watching them all to prep for the new one coming out this month).

And that's when the texts started.

My Michigan girls, they totally didn't forget me. They texted me funny texts the whole. entire. night. They emailed me photos of them getting more and more sloshed as the night went on. My favorite is of Alli and Nicole, both holding up their glasses and laughing. Alli has her eyes half-closed, and Nicole is leaning on Alli so hard that her head is pretty much horizontal. Map sent me the photo with the caption "There will be puking."

So we texted back and forth while the party went on. And near the end of the night, they called me. Put me on speaker phone so I could hear their crazy sweet voices, and then took me off speaker phone and passed the phone around.

Those girls.

Here's the thing. If you are my peeps, you're my peeps. Unless you did something assholey and I have made an intentional decision to cut you out (and you'd know it if I did), you're staying my peeps. But one thing I don't do, the older I get, is conduct one-sided friendships. If I ask you to do something once, twice, three times (a lady...), and you don't respond to me? I'm going to stop asking, even though you, as far as I am concerned, are still my peeps. Because if you aren't thinking about me, or valuing my time, or my effort, then you're drawing a boundary for yourself there, and I totally respect that. My tactic when this happens is to just lay low, and still show the person that I am around if they want to see me, but I'm not chasing anyone. That's just a waste of time, really. Most of the time, people will drift away, but then eventually, they come back. That's the way life is. People get distracted by life, or they take people for granted, or they think they have outgrown the people who love them.

But then, there are some people that just don't let that shit happen.

Those are my Michigan girls. They don't get distracted by life. They don't get careless and then make excuses. They don't take me for granted. They grow and change, and I grow and change, and we all live very different lives now, but that doesn't break the bond, because the bond is tended. Not every day, but often, and always when it counts. For over thirty-fricking-years of our lives. The next time you let a day go by that you aren't honoring your friendships, think of these ladies. They are the gold standard. The best word I can think of for them is: true. They stay true to me.

Maybe that's where the term true friend comes from. I guess I had never thought about that before.

I'm not feeling so blue anymore.