Saturday, July 31, 2010

Where did these things come from?

This morning I find myself in some kind of bizarre, parallel universe where services that help you date a cougar or commit infidelity are no longer hidden in the depths of the internet, but are advertised openly on TV. The following isn't the same ad for that I saw during the Daily Show, but it exists (and apparently isn't allowed to run during that show "Cougar Town") and that is disturbing enough.

I mean, I'm all about being true to who you are, but can you imagine an ad for a service where the genders were reversed? (I assume it would be called "")

At the next commercial break, I saw this gem:

It has a song. It has a cartoon. It has me completely confused. Why does one need this service? People have been unfaithful since the dawn of time; this seems like offering a food mastication service. Evidently there have been previous, live action, "racy" ads for this service that make a better case for it: you see, Ashley Madison will help you keep it on the DL, so you aren't caught with your sexy secretary in your own bed. Instead, if the above version is to be believed, you'll go to a hotel with the creepiest lounge lizard they can find, and your slug of a husband will be none the wiser. I actually think their depiction of the husband works against them: the cartoon wife could clearly have had sex with her lounge lizard on his lap and he wouldn't have noticed.

What has our society come to? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is there even a case to be made for it being a good thing? I can't believe these services are advertised during the Daily Show. They think that is there demographic. I think that means that they think I'm their demographic. Uhg. It's all so depressing.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Even more depressing chocolate

You may recall my prior ranting about Dove Promises being super depressing and strange. In fact, I didn't think they could be much worse and we had a little contest to create new wrapper-quotes. (Highlights include "That wasn't chocolate," "What the fuck, this isn't Chinook Winds?", "Try not to kill anyone today" and "If you're looking for wisdom here, God only knows where you're looking for love.") In the intervening year and a half, Dove seems to have had its own contest, the results of which are attributed to their submitters below the quote on the wrapper. The chocoholic-penned missives aren't any better than the ones Dove was coming up with in their Marketing Lab, but they somehow feel sadder, more depressing. It was Pete who realized that the attribution - the connection to an actual living person - makes what are basically the same sayings significantly more soul crushing. Seriously, guys: I wish we had thought of this back in 2008. It's a brilliant plan on Dove's part. Here is what I assume to have been their logic:
Who eats a lot of chocolate? Depressives.
What does chocolate do for them? Makes them feel a little better.
What happens then? They eat less chocolate.
How can we make them want more chocolate/be more depressed upon opening each candy? Positive-sounding messages that are subconsciously destructive.
But perhaps you don't believe me. Okay, sure. Here are some messages from the chocolates a year ago:
  • Love is always the perfect gift.
  • Joy is contagious.
  • Your presence is often the best present.
  • Friendship is a gift in itself.
  • A smile is the perfect gift, personal and encouraging.
And here are some from the current candies:
  • Say "I love you" every day to your loved ones. --Donna, Grand Junction, CO
  • Love yourself. Dare to dream. Live on purpose! --Dana, Highland, IN
  • Live every day up to your expectations, not others. --Reena, Brentwood, TN
  • Indulge in the moments that matter most. --Nicole, Williston, FL
These are the most depressing mantras I've ever seen. "Live on purpose?" I think I know what she means, but as far as an inspiring, organizing principle, it assumes that you're stumbling around, purposelessly "living on accident" or something. This lady believes that the most inspiring thing a chocolate can tell you is to actively make choices. And I think, by definition, "the moments that matter most" cannot be an indulgence. Every time I read that, I imagine some sad single mom working three jobs, unable to attend her child's birthday party or graduation because her unfeeling manager is making her work swing shift even though she requested the time off weeks ago, so she shares a celebratory pancake with her off-spring before work, feeling like a queen sitting at the syrup-sticky kitchen table directing her own fate, and arriving ten minutes late to the 76 station with made-up excuses about a late bus. I mean, that's story telling. Dove's really weaving a whole narrative with those ten words. 

Ugh. I'm so depressed. I think I need some chocolate.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

A recipe what I made up

Pete fixed the flickery, poltergeist light in the dining room, which for some reason has made me want to cook again. So for the first time in three years, I found myself just mixing this together in the kitchen, and damned if it wasn't tasty! So here is my awesome recipe that I made up. Feel free to name it whatever you please.

1 family pack tortellini
Olive oil
1/3 c finely chopped shallot
1/2 c finely chopped onion
Ground white pepper
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 c dry white wine
1 tsp-1tbsp lemon juice
1 lb bulk pork Italian sausage
1/4 c shredded parmesan
1/4 c chicken broth (or other liquid)
1 bunch spinach
1/3 c heavy cream
Shredded parmesan
Crumbled feta
Cherry tomatoes

1. Set water to boil for tortellini in large pot. In a different large pan, heat olive oil over medium.
2. Sauté shallots and onions until translucent. Salt and pepper lightly. Add tortellini to boiling water.
3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Deglaze pan with wine and lemon juice. Cook until liquid is reduced a reasonable amount. (If this direction is unclear, keep in mind, I made it up as I went along.)
4. Add sausage to pan and cook until, um, cooked.
5. Drain pasta and add to pan with parmesan. Stir until parmesan is wilted and all sausage and tortellini are well mixed.
6. Add chicken broth. Add spinach in layer over top and cover. Cook until spinach is wilted.
7. Add cream, stir to incorporate, and move into serving dish.
8. Serve with parmesan, feta and halved or crushed tomatoes to garnish.
9. YUM!

Serves 4 or 5, depending on portions and hungriness.

I was super pleased with how this worked. It would have been nice to maybe have some toasted pine nuts in there too, but we didn't miss them. The cream might not seem important - it's so little for so much food - but it really pulls the whole thing together and makes it a cohesive dish.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Strange Behavior of Neighbors

When we lived over on Hawthorne, our neighbors were a bunch of potheads and a loud nightclub/theater. The theater was a bad neighbor, no question. The potheads, aside from filling all common space in the building with the noxious smell of wasted potential, kept themselves to themselves, and that was fine with me. Our new neighborhood is, well, a neighborhood. People know each other by sight and name, they give each other flowers from their own gardens in mason jars, their kids play together. It's all very sweet and wonderful. But even good neighbors have their quirks, and with those directly next door to us, it's parking.  We kind of share a driveway - our rental seems to "own" 2/3 of it (by the fence-line). It's not really paved and rather too muddy for parking when it rains, so we usually park in front of our house, which has led the neighbor to park their car in front of their house and over their third of the driveway. This is kind of frustrating because it makes it hard to pull in front of our house (there's usually someone parked in front of the house to the other side of us too), very difficult to pull into the driveway, and just generally seems rather rude. But today took the cake for crazy weirdness.

There should be two spots in front of our house, and when we got home from the grocery store this evening, there was a car parked in the middle of both of them. Pete thought there might be enough room behind it, but there wasn't, and he began to execute a very awkward three-point turn (as the street is rather narrow) so that we could attempt the driveway. The neighbors were in their front yard, and the owner of the car waited until we had almost completed the turn to run over and offer to move her car so that we could park in front of our own house. Pete tried to wave her off and explain that we'd just park in the driveway, but no no, she was in our way and going to leave soon anyway. She got into her car and instead of backing up or moving forward into one spot or the other... are you ready for this? ...she drove forward so she was completely blocking our driveway. That's right: after taking up two spaces in front of a house she was not visiting, and after being signaled and told that we were planning to park in the driveway, she parked in front of the driveway. And the neighbors just stood there staring at us as we very awkwardly parked in front of the house. When the visitor was done obstructing our off-street parking, she got out of her car and kind of waved, and went right back to chatting with the neighbors, who still said nothing.

Maybe I'm crazy, but if that were our visitor, I would have said something, like, "Dude, don't park in front of their driveway." (Of course, none of our friends or relations would have been so nutty, but I suppose that's neither here nor there.) The question of the day is whether or not they are all members of some kind of glue sniffing club. There's really no other good explanation (not to imply that "glue sniffing club" is a good explanation) of why such otherwise nice and personable people would have such a blind spot to one of the classic Good Neighbor issues. (Parking, fences and dog poops, if you're interested.)

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The Return

Since we moved last month, the cat has been desperate to be an indoor/outdoor cat rather than just an indoor cat. We thought this was a great idea as well: no more catbox, a wider world to explore, maybe less cat hair inside and on us... there were myriad benefits. And, as it turns out, one major drawback we completely overlooked. She went out via her cat door sometime on March 1st to prowl around the neighborhood, and never came back. We didn't really notice on the 2nd until after dinner out, when Pete happened to mention that he hadn't seen her all day, and I realized I hadn't seen her that morning.

We poked around the house - no kitty. We called out the back door - no kitty. We started to get worried and did a more exhaustive search of the house, including the basement, the attic, all the nooks and crannies - no kitty. We walked around the block calling for her as loudly as we dared at 9:30 at night - someone else's kitty, but not ours. We went to bed, despondent, at 10:30, only to both wake up hearing an imaginary cat door around 2 am. I didn't get back to sleep until almost 4 when my brain convinced me that I'd heard her come in and I slept like a baby.

All day on the third I was beside myself with worry and sadness. (You wouldn't believe all the Law & Order, "that's how we knew he was a sociopath" scenarios stored in my brain for just such an occasion.) I had no idea how much I loved that little cat and how important she was to my sense of well-being until she disappeared. All day I was saturated with that low dread in the pit of your stomach that accompanies all terrible inevitabilities that leave you powerless: losing a pet; taking home a letter from your elementary school teacher addressed to your parents in very stern-looking penmanship; accidentally breaking someone else's favorite toy; accidentally deleting a video game save when you're over half way through the game; realizing your computer has melted down and your hard drive is toast, and you never actually got around to backing up your thesis. No amount of crying will help, and worse, it won't even make you feel any better.

We filed lost pet forms with the county and Dove Lewis, Pete went out to Troutdale to look through their books of "pets in our custody" pictures, and I posted an add on Craig's List. When we got home we called and called - no kitty. We made a Lost flier to hang around the neighborhood in the morning, and went to bed. Our depression was rather intense given that cats do this all the time, we had no evidence that she was hurt or killed, she has all her tags and is registered with the county and the Humane Society, and has a microchip. Laundry lay fallow in the washer; dishes sat unrinsed on the countertops... The only things missing from a non-cat-related depression were empty boxes of girl scout cookies surrounded by crumbs and two shlubs in pajamas watching Maury on the couch.

Last night I again didn't get any sleep. Around 3:30 something was drawing me up out of sleep. I thought, "Goddamnit, kitty, shut up!" and then immediately, "Omigod, kitty!" I was up and fully awake like you wouldn't believe. There she was, getting muddy footprints on our comforter and meowing to beat the band. Never were two people so happy to see a cat before. We immediately took out the cat door, which was good, as after eating three bites of food she immediately made for it again. She's about three pounds lighter (which is also probably good) and not as soft and glossy as before, but it's out talkative little kitty home again at last.

We have to figure out how to negotiate this indoor/outdoor thing. I don't know how to communicate to the cat that whether she needs to or not, we need her to come home every night. (It's because she's a cat: not great communicators.) But we'll figure it out. Right now I'm just glad that she made it home safe and sound and there are no little budding sociopaths in the neighborhood (that we know of).

Sunday, February 07, 2010

A Gross Thing My Cat Does

Yeah, that's right. It's gross, my cat does it, and I'm telling THE WHOLE DAMN WORLD about it.

She eats her own earwax. She loves it. When her hind nails are long, she likes to dig around in her ears and then lick them. She's not licking them clean, she's actively enjoying the flavor of earwax.

Pete says, "Hey, you don't know. Maybe it tastes like strawberries and champagne." I say, "It's SO gross!"

Sydney Makes Things Up About Rebecca Haarlow (10)

Rebecca Haarlow once endorsed an edible lipstick made of ham, flavored with rose water.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

In which I, surprisingly, didn't freak the hell out

I haven't posted in a long time because I started a brand new job on January 4th and it is awesome. So awesome that I've been happily working longer hours and have generally completely forgotten about everything else that I used to do before January 4th. But I have things to say, to send out into the ether! Things that are not important or necessarily even interesting but that I will nonetheless spew into an ambivalent void like a blind man's primal scream in a deserted parking lot.

So in week two of my new job, on a Monday I believe, I had an experience so terrifying while getting ready to leave in the morning that I had trouble getting dressed or sleeping for the rest of the week. First, it is important to understand that I am a huge arachnophobe. I don't like things that buzz and dive bomb my head either, stinging or otherwise, but I have full on anxiety dreams about having to walk past spiders in their webs when I'm stressed. In fact, this whole post is making me kind of twitchy and itchy as I type it, so I will try to keep it brief.

Like any normal person, when I get dressed, I put my sweater on last (pro tip: it goes on over your other clothes). I was planning to wear a cardigan. As I swung it around behind me to pull it on, out of the corner of my eye I saw a large, black thing fly towards the wall, and at the same time heard a "thunk", like a wad of duct tape hitting the wall. I knew what it was. It was too large to be a shield beetle (one of two insects that don't nauseate me on sight), too heavy to be... never mind. I knew it was a spider, a really big (for Portland) spider. I immediately dropped the sweater and looked to see where it had landed. Any arachnophobe will tell you that as horrified as you might be, you have to know where it went. It's a million times worse to have it just out there, somewhere.

It had fallen straight down and seemed to be disinclined to move too much. I grabbed a plastic pint glass from the bathroom counter and went to trap it. (Since almost our first date lo these many years ago, Pete's policy has always been to kill spiders for me, usually without telling me what he's doing. And since that time, my policy has been to leave anything that might make a noise when squished under a glass or bowl for him if he's not home. I know, it's terrible and I should be a stronger and more empowered woman, but I am a coward and squishing bugs is super gross. I own it and I've made peace with it.) The thing is, the damned spider was keeping to the moulding, so when I tapped the wall above it to get it to flee so I could trap it, it just kept to the wall. What I needed was a partner. Someone who would make the spider run away from the wall so that I could imprison it. I would also accept someone who would just kill the damn thing, but I knew that was unlikely, as my only option was The Cat.

Domino is good for several things. Sitting on your lap, accepting head scratches and belly rubs, eating cat food, making cat poops, batting cat toys into the nests of cables found at the back of electronic equipment, and whining. Domino is not a hunter. Oh, she thinks she is, but she would be wrong. But this one time, the stars were aligned for her, and what I needed was someone to gently bat at the spider without trying to carry it off somewhere and pretend to eat it: Domino's forte. I spotted her in her little cat bed by the window, picked her up and set her next to the bureau (which is where the spider was then taking cover). I tried to indicate the spider, but she thought I just wanted her to follow my finger because she is a cat and her brain is the size of the interior of a cat skull. But tapping on the bureau made the spider move, and that got her attention. Like she actually understood what I wanted from her, she tapped her little paw behind that spider, driving it out into the open. Where I accidentally killed it, crushing it under the edge of the glass while trapping it.

I left it under the cup because I wasn't sure if it was dead. And then I had to build a fort around it out of books because the drawback to my brilliant "involve the cat" plan was that the cat did not want to become uninvolved. And you know what they say: curiosity freed the maybe not totally dead spider.

It took me a full five minutes to verify that a different sweater was indeed Stuff of Nightmares free and then another five to check every nook and cranny of my winter coat. I called Pete immediately to tell him we had to move and I couldn't sleep another night in this House of Horrors. He was very sympathetic and didn't point out the inherent flaws in that plan, which is part of why he is a great husband. (Spouses, take note: "Well, that's not going to happen" is never the right answer in these situations. Neither is, "I don't understand why you're so upset.")

I couldn't help wondering where it had come from - was it in the closet the whole time? Did it recently invade the house? Did it crawl up and across other clothes? The sweater was new, so the I had to wonder, Has it been living on the sweater since the warehouse? Was it there when I tried it on? Did I bring it home? Is it an invasive species? Right about the time the tiny, detached, wannabe biological scientist part of brain started pondering what kind of spider it was, if it was poisonous, if so, just how poisonous, I physically stopped in my tracks and said, "Oh my God stop it!" I had to will myself not to think about it or my skin would have never stopped crawling. Pete disposed of it when he got home and I think he looked up what it might have been. I don't know if he fond the answer because I asked him not to tell me. It never even touched me, so it doesn't matter. If I asked him to tell me only if it was non-poisonous (which, frankly, in Oregon, is quite likely), and he never said anything, I'd know the thing I didn't want to know, the thing that could only make me dwell on the terrible "what if I'd put my sweater on more slowly, what if I hadn't noticed" questions, the thing that would only deepen my phobia and make me unhappy. So please please please, keep speculation about type and danger (if you are so inclined) to a forum inaccessible to myself.

And that is my thrilling tale of horror.