I have done 50 of these mothereffers? That seems nuts.
In honor of the 50th Consumables post, I will write up something, well, pretty paltry this week. I don't know what I have even been doing lately, but it hasn't been very pop culturey, that's for damn sure. So fifty! Woo! Way to celebrate it with a flaccid post!
The Leftovers, by Tom Perrotta
One day, 25% of the world population just disappears. It's like The Rapture, only people aren't all entirely sure it was actually The Rapture. People sort of don't know what to think. In the suburban town of Mapleton, we see the aftermath of this mass disappearance. People deal with it in a bunch of different ways, as evidenced by the main family at the center of the story: the dad does his best to buck up and move forward, sort of blindly. The mom makes grief the center of her life. The college age son dedicates his life to a self-help guru gone amok. The teen daughter shuts down and rebels. So basically, all things that people tend to do with loss, Rapture or no Rapture. Essentially it's about the ways we all abandon each other, physically and metaphorically. And sometimes it's about the ways that we don't.
In the TeeVee
I watch Dancing with the Stars in the following way. If there is a dance number where it is all professionals and no celebrities, I watch that part. If there are a few minutes of rehearsal footage I watch that. I watch about 15-20 seconds of each celebrity dance number, just to get the gist of it (or, as my friend's father likes to mispronounce: the jizz of it. And no, I am not making that up, he really says that and no one can get over their embarrassment to tell him that he's saying it wrong). I don't watch anything the judges say. I don't watch anything the hosts say. Every two hour episode takes me about 15 minutes to watch, my finger poised directly on the fast forward button all the while. And yet, I feel like I am pretty much getting the full experience of that show. It's like I am watching the au jus of the show, I guess.
I keep having dreams about Chicago this week. The town, not the band. No offense, Peter Cetera.
That is all. Have a loverly weekend!
Slow Down Chicago, by Canasta
I have done 50 of these mothereffers? That seems nuts.
I have been waiting for a time when I have ten minutes to write a blog post, and the universe around me has said HA HA, YOU WOULD LIKE TEN MINUTES? FIE ON YOUR TEN MINUTES. So I am going to write a sentence or two as fast as I can type and poop it out on the interwebs in as much time as I can squeeze out right now.
First I tell you that the bar for blog writing in my life is set at a very high ten effing minutes, and then I liken it to dropping a deuce. Why, you are probably asking yourself, are you blog friends with me again? Only you can answer that question, just as only you can prevent forest fires.
Smokey the Bear, was your grammar correct? Is it really only ME that can prevent forest fires? Wouldn't it be more correct to say "it is up to each of us to prevent forest fires?" Or something like that? Smokey, you had a lot of nerve talking to me like that when I was a child and had never even fricking SEEN a forest.
In other old commercial news, I have a confession to make. Sometimes, just sometimes, I still do that thing from that old beer commercial, where I say "what's up," or rather "WAZ AAAAAHHHHHHP," and if you say it back to me, I am delighted. DELIGHTED.
Yes, I do feel an appropriate level of shame on this front.
And (as a former boss of mine used to say) SECONDIVELY, I have been having a really nice last few days.
Lovely blog friend @metaleah and her trophy husband (1) came through my town on their way to Astoria, Oregon, (aka the land of The Goonies) where they (2) attended a wedding and (3) found a pirate treasure map with Corey Feldman. Ok maybe they only did 2 out of three of those things. We had dinner and I managed to not say WAZ AAAAHHHP at any point or guilt them about forest fires. I probably said some other foolishness but hey, you can't have everything. @metaleah also came to my place of bidnass, which was grand. Two visits in one short weekend! I felt special. I also had a lovely bruncheon with my friend M. where we agreed that cupcakes should be an acceptable form of currency. I accomplish things when I socialize, because I am a doer.
Lastly I just have to tell you that in the past couple of days all of our heating dreams were realized when we got a new furnace. It is easily the biggest thing that has happened to us for a long while, as evidenced by the fact that I have taken pictures of it and shown it to people who have clearly not asked me to see such a thing. Some people show photos of their kids, some people show photos of their vacations. I trap people with furnace photos. The only reason I am not showing you is because I don't have time to put the pictures in here. So for you, there's a bright side to this whole thing.
That's all I got. Hope you are having a lovely week!
A text conversation between me and my 6-year-old niece. I'll call her Asha.
Me: What am I looking at?
Me: What is the photo of?
Her: A wolf
Me: What is it made of?
Her: That I made
Her: Paper towel and tape
Me: Nice! Very cool.
Her: Thank you
Her: I m going
Me: Ok, bye.
Me: Hey! I thought we were done! ha ha
These things happened, in this order, within the past few days.
1. The Soggy Librarian said that she often gets the song "Always" by Atlantic Starr stuck in her head. As you do.
2. I responded by telling her that I once sang, with a boy named Brian, a duet version of that very song in 10th grade choir. I know, I just get cooler and cooler the more you get to know me, right?
3. I began to think about the fact that a boy had chosen (because we chose this song ourselves and auditioned that shit. We were not assigned to sing it) to sing the words "come with me, my sweet, let's go make a family," in front of everyone we knew when we were 15. Because that's not weird.
4. I received an email today from THAT SAME BRIAN KID. Who is not a kid anymore, obvs. He just said something totally nice like "hey, you popped into my head this week. How are you?, etc." And also "I think I remember that we sang a duet in school but can't recall the year or the song. Maybe you can enlighten me or set me straight."
5. I began to believe that uttering the words "Atlantic Starr" brings back people from your past. Sort of like a light R&B Beetlejuice.
Say Atlantic Starr and see who pops back into your life. It's SCIENCE, you guys.
At the Mac make-up counter.*
Saleslady who looks like Katy Perry: Can I help you with something?
Me: I was just trying to decide between these two colors. Charcoal or dark brown. I just can't decide which one to try. (Holding the samples next to my skin) What do you think?
Katy Perry: Well, that depends on what you want to use it for.
Me: Yes, how do you mean?
Katy Perry: Well, it depends on whether you want grey. Or brown.
She said that to me without a STITCH of sarcasm, people.
Me: Ok, yes. Thanks.
So I just wanted to pass along that piece of advice to you, if you ever are trying to decide between choice A and choice B. You should make that decision based on one thing and that thing is: whether you want the choice to be A, or whether you want it to be B. It's so unhelpful, it sort of rounds a bend somewhere and becomes helpful again.
Don't thank me, thank Katy.
* The Mac makeup counter is really not a counter. I ask you, what is with this new fangled retail model where there is no counter and no way to line up anywhere? Mac make up, Apple, AT&T, what is going on? Do you want chaos, is that what you want? What's a grandma like me supposed to THINK?
Weirdo conversation of the week, started because my mom used the word "tarpaulin."
Me: Did you hear my mom use the word tarpaulin last week?
Nordic Boy: No. When did she do that?
Me: When she asked you to cover up the patio furniture. She asked you to use the tarpaulin.
Nordic Boy: I thought it was a tarp.
Me: That's short for tarpaulin.
Nordic Boy: It is?
Biogirl: I have heard of tarpaulin, but I never really put together that that's where the word tarp comes from. I think of tarpaulin as more old-timey, like a waxed canvas. Like in sailing. Not the blue plastic stuff.
Nordic Boy: Yeah. Or like when waterproofing was done by soaking canvas in gasoline.
Me: What? I have never heard of that.
Nordic Boy: Sure you have. It was mentioned by that guy we saw.
Me: What guy?
Nordic Boy: The one with the glasses.
Biogirl: Ok. And?
Nordic Boy: The one that everyone thinks is dead.
Me: Glasses, and rumored to be dead. Um...
Nordic Boy: We saw him IN THE TEEVEE.
Me: OH! Charles Nelson Reilly?
Nordic Boy: YES.
Biogirl: Really? You got Charles Nelson Reilly out of glasses, maybe dead, a gas-soaked canvas, and "in the teevee?"
With that, I bring you Consumables.
In the Teevee
Life of Reilly
Film of Charles Nelson Reilly's autobiographical one-man play. He does not dish about any Hollywood types, which was a little disappointing. Isn't being able to dish about Hollywood types the whole entire reason one would be on the Match Game that many times? Oh well. In the film, he does indeed wear glasses, he does make jokes about people seeing him in public and being surprised that he is still alive, and I did watch the play in the teevee. He also tells a childhood story about how circuses used to waterproof their tents by soaking the canvas in gas, and how one caught on fire and he almost died in it. So Nordic Boy makes PERFECT SENSE.
My parents are not big tv watchers. They watch World Cup soccer, they watch a lot of news, they may watch a PBS version of Bleak House or something. That is it. (I know, right? How did they spawn me?) So I was shocked when I went to visit them recently and they were hurrying through dinner one night so that they could watch a tv show. The show? Lil Champs. This is a Hindi-language tv show that is like American Idol, but with little kids. It was sort of awesome on many levels, not the least of which was watching my parents so fricking into it. The heartbreaking thing about it though, was seeing the kids' backstories, which often went something like this: Leela just turned 12 years old. Here is some footage of her completely destitute life. If she wins the show, she will have a chance at life with maybe some clean water in her future, maybe. If she's voted off this week, well, we don't know what will happen to her life, since her opportunities are, to understate it, slim. I was a blubbering mess through the whole thing, because I am pampered and wimpy and guilt-ridden.
I don't know. I just don't want to even link that that one. Nordic Boy was watching this the other day, and goddamn if it's not the Real Housewives only with mustachio motorcycle dudes. DRAMA.
I watched a couple of that new daytime show because Anderson Cooper is pretty and I like to look at him sometimes. OK? LEAVE ME ALONE.
Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
I am trying to decide if I really liked this book so much because I really liked it so much, or if I really liked it because it made me feel smart without really having to do anything. I fear it is the latter, but check back with me later on that. Eugenides peppers this whole novel with so many humanities-nerd references that if you get all of them, you can feel smug. So yeah, I got my smugly on a bit too much I fear. Oh-ho! What a clever way to reference Luce Irigary! Haw-haw! I mean, I just wanted to smack myself after a while. That said, the story is about the relationship (dare I say love triangle?) between Mitchell who loves Madeleine who loves Leonard. I never figured out who Leonard loves. It's basically an intellectualized, sort of depressing rom-com, if that even makes any sense. I did enjoy it.
Bloodroot, by Amy Greene
First of all, I have a bone to pick with whoever wrote the blurb on the back of this book. It makes the whole thing sound like it's got a bunch of magical realism going on, when really that's not even the point. Boo, publisher. Anyway. Story about four generations of a family in rural Appalachia. There was quite a bit of melodrama, but I didn't mind that. I loved reading the language, much of it written in dialect. Writing in dialect is hard to do. Usually it comes off really terrible and condescending and just ick. But this time, I liked it.
Last Man in Tower, by Aravind Adiga
A middle class condo building sits in the middle of a Mumbai slum that developers are trying to gentrify. A developer offers every resident an amount of money that would set them up for life in order to buy out the building and tear it down. The catch is that all residents have to agree. One couple, elderly and disabled, do not want to leave, but feel pressure to comply. Their friend, the dignified retired schoolteacher known as Masterji, tells them that he will take a stand for them. As things progress, the once tightly-knit community of neighbors begins to turn ugly. Suspicions, personal issues, religious and cultural clashes start to rumble under the surface. I was sort of riveted by this book. It's not a pretty story, but it was compelling.
That's all I got!
Happy Friday, everybody.
Here's what I hear when my hometown is mentioned.
The one from Roger and Me?
Is it really as bad as they say?
Good for you for getting out!
I get it. It's warranted, really. It's known around the country as the archtype of the de-industrialized factory town. Population decreasing rapidly since the 60s, urban decay, attempts at renewal, all of it. It's known as Murdertown, USA, for Chrissakes. There are things to legitimately be scared of while there, it's true. There are big swaths of my town that feel like they are out of The Road, and not just because I am prone to theatrics. Abandoned-looking streets, boarded up houses, gangs of feral dogs whose late night barking is one of the eeriest sounds I have ever heard. I can't argue that these things don't exist.
You know what else I think of when I think of my town? I think of the people who stay there, and love that place, and try to make it better, and do great things. Like, truly great things. I think of the fact that many of the most amazing people I have ever known come from there. They are warm, uncynical, hopeful people. I think about my parents' house, which is, to me, the most beautiful place there is. I think about how much of the me in my me-ness comes as a direct result of that city, and hi, have you met me? I am pretty cool. At least I think so. The way I feel about my town is the way some folks feel about complicated parents: I love it with all my heart, and I know that it made me, and I feel intense loyalty to it despite everything, but in the end it couldn't give me what I needed so I had to go, but that still makes me wistful.
My hometown. It's a messy, resilient, depressing, strong-willed, tough, big-hearted, jacked up, inspiring place. I could write about it for pages and pages and still never pin it down.
This is my childhood library, which used to have an awesome mural of the Hungry Caterpillar in the front window. I used to read Beatrix Potter books in there when I was 4 years old. I loved that place. It was struggling along, until this year when it finally closed. Kind of broke my heart when we drove by. The liquor store next door was still going strong, if that tells you anything.
This is the lot where my middle school used to stand. It was knocked down a few years ago and has stood empty ever since. That little row of white building you see in the background is a weekly-rate motel. Some of my middle school teachers used to live there. If that doesn't prove to you that teachers are not gravy-soaking freeloaders, I don't know what will.
This building used to house my family's favorite pizza joint. The family who owned the place lived in my neighborhood- the dad's name was Dave. Every year at the local pool we would have a sleepover (a sleepover at a POOL, how cool is that?) and Dave would be a chaperone, and one of the things he would do every year was project "The Yellow Submarine" movie onto the pool wall for us to watch.
Since the recession started, people sometimes ask me: how is your hometown doing? Is it weathering things ok? This is a hard question for me to answer, because no, it's not weathering it ok, but on the other hand, we had troubles long before this latest boom-and-bust so it just seems like more of the same. It's not like we were riding high before the recession hit. Then again, I see so many cool things cropping up out of the dust, I am always amazed at the pockets of awesome I see when I go there, and how hard people are trying. So I just don't know. I don't know how you answer that question.
My mom still gives me my currant scones on my very first plate that I had when I was a baby. I love that.
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Look what I found in my parents' cupboard.
Me: What. is this??
Mom: It was for when the grandkids were here. I took them to the store and let them pick out whatever cereal they wanted.
Me: But, you never bought us this stuff. Not even once.
Her: It was for the grandkids.
Me: That's not a reason.
Her: Oh, of course it is.
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It's 1pm, we just had minestrone soup for lunch made with vegetables straight from the garden, and all four of us are now retreating for an afternoon nap. The only stipulation is that we have to wake up by 3 in order to reconvene for teatime.
Two out of the four of us are over age 75. The other two are in hardcore training for retirement. I really do think old people are my peer group.
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Nowhere more than at my parents deserves good food photography skills. Oh well. Just imagine i'm better at this.
Mustard greens, dahl, potato-cauliflower curry, cucumber raita, and pickled apple slice.
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