(When) Pigs (Fly) in Space

Sunday, February 27, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Fundamentally Misunderstanding the world:

Headline:  Why are dolphins dying in Gulf?
um.  two words: oil. spill.  Look it up, i'm pretty sure there was a pretty big one in and around the gulf area.  The point of asking a question in a headline is to get readers to ponder what the possible answer to that question might be.  While i admit that there may be many ways the oil has affected the dolphins in the gulf, they all seem to stem from that pesky crude oil, no? 

Headline: For astronauts in space, no time for the Oscars

Do you think that those astronauts got to space by never missing any of their favorite movies?  How much free time do you think that actual astronauts have for watching movies.  Enough to watch them, invest in the actors who play their favorite characters, compare them to performances from other actors in other movies this year, and figure out which ones were the best.  All this year, by the way, you know, the year leading up to being shot INTO F'N SPACE.  And now they are in space.  Is it really worth writing a story about how the few humans who are doing what is unbelievably unthinkable to us aren't spending their hours watching self-indulgent awards shows.  Turns out, as the mission's lead flight director notes, he wasn't aware that the astronauts even requested to watch the show.  So, wouldn't it be more of a story if the astronauts were watching awards shows in space:  Astronauts stop transferring space cargo in order to bitchily critique starlets dresses and bodies.   Sample:  "Ugh, even in zero gravity she'd look dumpy in that dress."  

I would argue that the astronaut who obsesses over Hollywood is probably not fully engaging their own profession.  And this just speaks to how screwed up American values have become.  It used to be that astronauts were the people to be looked up to (pun), well above and beyond actors.  The headline would read, "Nominees for best actor to watch spacewalk from NASA."  Now we are more concerned if our peeps in space are looking down (waaaaay down) on Hollywood, as if the singing and dancing of Franco and Hathaway (don't get me wrong, i like both of em), is grander or more compelling than whipping around in space miles about the earth.  Maybe this is due to us not going into "deep space" at the moment, but somehow i doubt it.

(As a end note to this article, it's funny to me that the article takes pains to note that all the astronauts up there have seen "The Social Network."  I think this point was made to legitimize writing the article in the first place, but the fact that they were beamed the movie about how one of the biggest time-sucks in human history was invented does seem to have hints of irony.)

And now, here are some things i've learned, 2 months into dog ownership.

1.  There are such things as "free poops." These are poops the dog take "off-road" aka.  somewhere that doesn't require us bagging and carrying it away.

2.  Dog love tempur-pedic too. 

3.  Most recently (last night) i learned that dogs can have horrible gas.  And that doesn't mean, "oh, how cute, the pups got the farts."  it means he's got a WMD under that tail and you better be by the front end.  

I wonder what i'll learn today. 

Hoarders: Childhood Obsessions

Tuesday, February 22, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

My parents met Grover for the first time this past weekend.  My mother, predictably, quickly fell in love.  She has a large and open heart for dogs, so she was kinda an easy sell (like mother like son).  My father, is not quite the dog lover.  More than that, my dad enjoys watching his peers get dogs in the same way that a Bond villain watches a laser creep towards a crotch.  I believe he sees a dog as an incredible, possibly life crippling, responsibility.  And that it a little mini-hell.  That said, when my uncle, my father's brother, called today and remarked that dad had mentioned how cute the puppy was,  I knew he was crumbling.  Falling prey to the cuteness which is the Grovester.  Muahahahahahahaa.  Your move bond.

This is all to say that when they came and visited, they brought Grover a new toy.  A huge, tennis ball material, squeaking bone.  Grover loves it.  *squeak squeak*  *squeak squeak*   It is definitely not a night time toy.    I told my parents to give him 15 minutes, and it would be destroyed.  "how?!" they asked, "it's huge."   12 minutes later Grover is peeling the tennis-ball material off the "bone" for no clear apparent reason other than the joy of the knowledge that he figured out how to destroy it.  Touche doggy.  Touche. 

it's art
There were mixed reactions to this behavior.  First, we all laughed at the accuracy of my premonition.  Then people got a little nervous.  "he's gonna eat the material"  "is that ok?"  Me, i took this stance (in my mind).  There are so many things i am scared of my puppy getting into.  Rat poison, poison berries, chocolate stash, onion stash, porcupine, porcupine fish, hedgehog, all other spine-equipped animals, skunks, fire ants.  You get the point.  I figure an object especially designed to get demolished by a dog is probably the least of my worries.  I recognize that this is potentially an incredibly naive and dangerous presumption.  I don't so much care.  Mind your own business. 

Because of this stance, i was noticeably nonplussed by the whole affair.  My family, my parents especially, were more worried.  "What's the big deal?" i remarked.   "Well, we didn't all eat fuzz as a kid."

Which brings us to today's story.

When i was little.  Very little.  Tiny little.  Huge eyes on a little face doe eyed bambi cute little.  We had a downstairs tv/family room.  The tv turned on and off by pulling the tiny knob (hehe) out, and twisting for volume.  This is a long time ago.  In said room, we had an amazing shag orange rug.  it was obviously the product of an earlier *cough 70's cough* era.  But it was just so homey and warm that it truly pulled the room together.  I loved it.  Part of what i loved about that rug was the texture and consistency of the material it was made out of.  I found that if you pulled a piece of fuzz off the rug, it highlighted this consistency.  And i'd play with it.  Roll it between my fingers.  Pull it apart and back together.  And then folks, then, i put it in my mouth. 

it is a popular misconception that i ate fuzz.  I did graze that shag piece of love like a termite to wood, but i did not eat it.  Or at least i really don't remember swallowing (hehe).  I recall rolling it around my mouth and tongue and enjoying the strange stringy crunchiness.  And yes, i realize that this is unbelievably grotesque.  But this is history, and all i can do is try to give you as accurate a recounting as i possibly can.  I don't still do it.  But i do think back and this might have been the first instance of thinking "i don't think this kid is gonna be altogether normal." Or maybe it just predicted me getting a tongue ring many years later.  And before you make fun of my hilarious decision to pierce my tongue at 18.  I still have it.

jokes on you.

Pirate Jokes

Monday, February 21, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

Ethiopian pirates recently captured an American yacht traveling around the world delivering Bibles to poor communities worldwide.

you couldn't write this stuff if you tried.

Think the pirates were cool taking the bibles as ransom?

Who will intervene first, God or the military?  Or will Mohamed make it a surprise save as the twist in the ending?

Bet Captain Hook is glad he didn't have to deal with missionaries.

Bet these yacht goers didn't think they'd have to deal with hipsters' favorite conversation topic (oh, that's pirates).

Would we all be Christian if FedEx and UPS were around when Jesus was alive (overnighting the word of the lord).

I kind of like the image of the pirates boarding the vessel and sitting down all the passengers.  At that point, one of the sailors says, "son, have you ever met my friend?  His name is Jesus."  45 minutes later, the man still talking, the pirates throw them back like a fish that was too small.

ps.  feel free to leave your best one liners in the comments. 
In sum.  I realize that this is most likely in incredibly poor taste.  So, to somewhat mitigate that effect, let me say that i do hope for these sailors safe return, and while the byline may be hilarious, the situation itself is deadly serious. 

*Update*: Unfortunately, not all funny posts have happy endings: The four Americans captured by Somali pirates while sailing in the Indian Ocean have been shot and killed, NBC News reported Tuesday.

Independence Now and Never

Thursday, February 17, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

Seem likes independence and democracy are all the rage right now.  Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain.  Exciting times.  if democracy is the new herpes, and becomes rampant in 88% of the world population, we could see a contagion that could truly change the world, or at the very least the middle east region, as we know it.  there is always a sense of wonder for me when i realize i am living history.  Granted, I prefer to experience the history in the comfort of my own home (as opposed to when i was living in nyc for 9-11) -- but in both cases there was/is a wonderment as i watch the world alter its course during my lifetime.

so that's one kind of independence, but, i think the more popular usage of the word usually fits this kind of context, "I just need some space.  Some room to be me.  I need to be independent for awhile.  Stand on my own two feet."  Sound familiar.  Nah, me neither.

Here's what i have to say about personal independence.  It's a totally farce.  A joke.  An impossible dream (that would really be a nightmare).  The quicker one loses the concept that they can survive life alone, the better life can get.  We are hard wired social entities.  And while some people certainly enjoy more 'alone time' than others, in the end we all need bonds.

Let me be clear.  This is not me saying that people should be utterly dependent on each other.  And i know that, especially in the context of romantic relationships, this 'stickiness' can have negative ramifications.  I'm not saying to give up your identity to others.  I'm saying that part of our identity is those others.  And that life is simply too brutal to face alone.

I've got, especially compared to the world's average, a wonderful life.  I have no essential needs that have gone unmet, and i have the luxury of stressing about things like wedding lists and if i am crating my puppy too long.  But recently, things have played out that a number of tragic and semi-or-potentially-tragic events transpired in close proximity to each other.  Some people died, other scared for their lives.  i found myself not just sending love via facebook message or email, saying, "thinking of you."  But rather, i found myself thinking about these people constantly throughout my days.  Hoping for them.  Hoping recovery.  hoping condolences. hoping strength.  And come weeks end, i was totally drained.

Luckily, my drain-ed-ness coincided with a big Saturday brunch planned for old friends who were back in town for the weekend.  There was about 10 of us.  A somewhat eclectic crew; laughing and laughing harder, and telling stories, and giving cooking tips, and making potential future plans, and more laughing, and some scrabble playing, a few French presses, pork-belly tacos, and even a little breakfast beer.  I had a bit too much coffee.  Maybe i laughed a little more than the others.  One of my friends mentioned that it was like i was absorbing the energy from people (was she saying i am draining as a friend? lets pretend 'no').  I think she was right.  i think i was using the good time had with friends to recharge my love meter.  like a video game power up.

this is obviously a very small example of my point.  my point that we exist together and function better that way.  Most of the people who end up saying "i just need to be independent for awhile" must have supportive parents.  They must, in order to create a mindset in their kids that they could possibly function alone in this world.  Irony huh, ain't it great.

And so i encourage you to lean.  lean on each other.  Be not strong enough to go through it alone and realize that you are not alone in that feeling.  And remember that those people that you are so inclined to lean on are your family.  They are your indispensable resource.

During my undergrad college orientation, all of the frosh make a circle, and we do a lap-sit.  A few hundred of us form a tight tight circle, front to back, and on the count of three, we all sit down.  The person behind us becomes a lap for our bottoms, while our lap becomes a chair for the person in front.  And in this fashion, 600 people can sit together without needing a chair (or getting their butts dirty on the ground).  At the time, i thought that this was just a great chance to have contact with college girls for the first(ish) time.  But now i see that the message was much deeper.  It told us to say connected.  that we were the one's who would, quite literally, be there for each other for the next 4 years.  And that that, in and of itself, was a great resource to be treasured.

I went to the funeral for my best friend's (we'll call him C)  gf's (we'll call her P)  brother.  Both my friend and his gf went to school with me, and i adore them both.  At the funeral, i couldn't help but see the familiar faces in the audience.  Faces I knew as P's college peeps.  I was to C what they were to P.  We were all there, supporting.  Offering our laps to our friends who were hurting.  We were taking the lessons we learned at orientation and applying them to our orientation towards life, love, and friendship.

And so this blog is for you.  Mel, adam, C, P, the dicap's, milo, chaya, ari.  all of you.  I'm sending my love and i'm thinking of you.  fo reals.   and, if necessary, i can plan another brunch for this weekend, cause i'm always available for family.

This is not a food blog

Tuesday, February 8, 2011 | 2 Comment(s)

So, some of my friends have food blogs.  Food blogs are great.  They are helpful, they compile knowledge, and they usually give much better directions than cookbooks on how to actually make the food they feature.

This is not a food blog.  And today i will show you why.

Two nights ago i made a delicious steak for myself.  Mmf got plenty of tastes, and she will confirm that this steak was legit.   Here are instructions so that you can make your own special steak of your own.

What you'll need:  Access to Trader Joes.  Traders Joe's General Tso's Sause.  Soy sauce.  Soy margazine.  Salt.  A big medium thick steak (also trader Joes)

Directions.  About an hour before, pop the plastic on the steak package and comment on how the smell is akin to how you imagine a dead body smells like.  Cover both sides with a mixture of Tso's sauce and Soy sauce.  Leave for an hour.  Enjoy some quality tv like "How I Met Your Mother" or "Office" reruns. 

Heat the pan to "frenzy" hot.  That means as hot as the stove-top gets.  I happen to have a Le Creuset frypan/ovenpan because my mother happens to still have her wedding gifts to hand down to her sons, but i assume that any ol frying pan will do. 

Drop it in and watch it sizzle.  Smell it.  Yum.  Wait.  Wonder how long you should wait til you flip it.  Wonder some more.  Worry a little.  3 minutes later, flip it in a minor panic.  Realize you didn't wait long enough.  Realize that its too late now.  Enjoy the 2nd sizzle.  You gotta wait longer this time.  You gotta.  5 minutes.  At least.  But 5 minutes is soooooo long in waitingnexttothestove time.  Worry about the smoke.  Are you ruining your mom's amazing wedding cookery?  You're a failure, you can't even cook a steak.  4 minutes . . . . panic.  Put a medium sized ice cream scoop of soy margarine into the pan.   Sizzle #3 -- enjoyment is a go.  as the soy marg melts start spooning it over the top of the steak.  2nd flip, try to get that original sear back.  Realize it's not going to happen.  Spoon the fake butter.  Fuck mom's pan, let's burn this sucker a little.  final flip.  Spoon spoon spoon.  Transfer to plate.  Try not to let mmf see you pour some of the melted butter sauce on top of the steak.  Cook peppers in the frying pan so as not to waste all that leftover butter.  Pray this isn't a disaster.

And there you have it.  A perfectly cooked steak that melts in your mouth.  What can i say folks; Rinse and repeat.  But, here at To Be Read and Reread, we like to give our faithful readers a take home message.  So here goes.

When it comes to cooking, butter is everything.  And if you're lactose intolerant, soy margarine is just as good. 

bon appetit! 

Cruella's on a Plane: The Marrow of LIfe

Saturday, February 5, 2011 | 1 Comment(s)

There are good days, bad days, and days when you need to eat the inside of another creatures bones just to feel better.  yesterday was one of those days.  thankfully, my favorite restaurant of all time, che albert (in downtown amherst) was serving strip steak with a healthy helping of bone marrow sauce.  yumm . . . .y.  And bone marrow is great because, in my mind, there are no ethical qualms to ponder (like with other delicacies like the force feeding of foie gras or the no-letting-baby-cow-move of veal).  I figure, using the inside of the bone is ol' skool.  Like native american old school, using every part of the animal.  And it is DElicious.  I'm amazed i haven't seen more video of lions and tigers sucking on antelope bones to get the marrow out.  Hell, it's so good that i wish my oncologist father would have brought the bone marrows home from work instead of the exhausted and emotional dishevelment of fighting cancer day in and day out.  But that's another post altogether.

Today's post has no theme.  Enjoy. 

You can say "bomb" on a plane.  I know that this seems obvious and that you probably are all, "um, duhsville you cant say "bomb" on a plane."  And i know that.  I even know that while seated during flight watching 30 Rock on the tiny seat monitor.  At some point, Tina Fey's character Liz Lemon (oh wow, i just heard all of my female readers simultaneously say, "ohmygod i LOVE her, Liz Lemon is JUST like me.  I swear they made that character from my life), says something to the effect of "such and such is da' BOMB" in some fake white-girl slang.  At least, that's what i imagine happened.  In reality, she said, "such and such is da' *insert weird beeping noise.*"  That's right ladies and gentlemen, American Airlines censored out the word "bomb" from it's airline sitcom programming.  I'm telling you people, you can't say "bomb" on a plane.  Not even if you are Tina Fey and you are prerecorded. 

Right now I'm imagining a scenario where Tina does get that "da' bomb" line out and some over-anxious grandpa in the back scream -- "THAT LADY'S GOTTA BOMB!" And before the airline attendant can condescendingly remind ol' yeller (pun) that TV isn't real and that the woman on the screen isn't really here, the disease of panic has spread.  "The lady with the bomb has got a black man for back up!," i imagine hearing as Tracy Morgan's character strolls onscreen.  Now the Federal Aviation Agency is looking for a place for us to land and they think the nearby cornfield will do.  why oh why didn't they just edit all uses of the word bomb out of 30 Rock!!! 

The truly sad part of that example is that it's only hilarious up until those events actually start happening.  And i've been seeing way more screwed up stuff on the news recently so . . .

Change of subject.  A week or so ago i took Grover (the all-star doggy) to the dog park.  We are lucky to have said park where there are a bunch of trails throughout the woods, and people come and walk their dogs off leash and they play and get socialized.  it's awesome.  The first time we went, we met up with a friend of mine who has two young female vizslas.   They are essentially brown greyhounds.  Build for speed and distance.  They are runners.  They look like runners.  They run so well that my friend has both jingle bells AND GPS trackers on their collars when she brings them to the woods.  Grover was extremely pleased by this turn of events.  He ran with his new gfs like a champ.  Being a rescue, Grover isn't as keen on going too far from his people, so the match was perfect.  The vizslas took off and ran Grover behind them like a maniac.  When they went far enough, Grov-street (one of his nicknames) turned and started running back, which the vizslas were more than happy to do (as long as it's fast, they're into it).  This continued  . . . the entire time.  Watching my pup play with other dogs for the first time (remember Grove is my first pet ever) was transformative.  About equal with eating bone marrow.  Really really good.  he is such a kook.  He loves everyone.  SO much so that when another dog growls (he has never growled himself) he thinks its just there strange form of play.  He kinda has happy-dog Aspergers to some degree. 

The event that sticks out the most in my mind from that walk, however, had nothing to do with the dogs.  As we were on the final run toward the parking lot, I swear to god that Cruella de Vil was walking the other way.  You know, the evil dog-catcher lady from 101 Dalmatians.   She had that alcoholics stagger, along with a big red overcoat.  But even crazier was her partially white hair and, i swear to god, a bent cigarette hanging lazily from the side of her semi-deformed mouth.  Unfortunately, she didn't have a dalmatian.  She had a frumpy little dog in a sweater that was actually staggering similarly to the owner.  And it was this weird disconnect where a woman i associate strongly with hatred toward dogs is out in the freezing weather getting her pup some exercise.  I actually can't remember how the Disney movie ends exactly, but i think Cruella drives off a cliff or something (she did have that sweet ride).  If i'm misremembering (like a politician often does) and she actually gets reformed into a dog lover at the end of that film . . . well then i'm pretty sure she lives in Amherst now.  

Depression for Beginners

Tuesday, February 1, 2011 | 0 Comment(s)

I write to you on the eve of the death of one of my two magazine subscriptions.  Sports Illustrated made the cut, but (not so sadly) Newsweek is about to bite the dust.  And its that that its necessary because i've been reading it forever.  And while that is a bit of hyperbole, for me, its not that great.  An embarrassingly short time ago i went back to the house i grew up in and took all of my stuff off the walls (you can search the archives for some juicy morsels from my walls).  On one wall were two "My Turn" articles from what was either the late 80's or, more likely, the early 90's.  "My Turn" has always been my favorite page of the magazine.  This particular article features a story by what we would call "normal everyday people."  But these are their not everyday stories.  It was, in my literary opinion, the closest thing we've had to simply passing down life lessons.  I found the pieces regularly moving because they touched those secret voices inside us that experience pure joy, loss, love, respect, sadness, and humor. 

In the latest restructuring of the magazine they did away with My Turn.  Well, they didn't do away with it, but they gave it to essayist whose names we already know.  Politicians, humanitarians, leaders.  And while i have no problem with these figures, per say, they have their own voices.  My Turn gave a voice to one of the many millions who have heartbreaking stories of greatness and no possible way of sharing it with the masses. 

And so, i will not renew my subscription.  A few fun political cartoons is not a good enough reason to renew a subscription.  For the record, it wasn't the internet or Kindle or any technically related instrument that influenced this decision.  Newsweek, you have no one to blame but yourself.

In honor of this occasion, i am going to share my own "My Turn."  I wrote this piece a few years ago (ish? I really have no idea) and, in my endless effort to try everything, i even submitted it to the magazine.  No response.  Their loss is your gain. 


It is my opinion that there is a small but potentially growing subsection of the population that knows what it means to truly cry for no reason consistently.  I’m not talking about finding yourself bawling as the people on the television build a new home for a family of eight cancer victims either.  I’m talking about being in the middle of a spider-man comic, or something equally inane, and feeling the tears welling up, pinching at your nasal passageway, before releasing in a deluge only precipitated by one’s understanding that they still are.

I, being one of these people, was recently confronted with the situation of being found in the midst of one such optical evacuation by a close friend.  “What’s wrong” seemed the obvious question, and it was posed to me.  I threw out something about a conflict with a co-worker.  This friend, as I noted being a “good” one, replied, “But what’s really the matter.”  It was a fair and appropriate response.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the answer. I told him, “I don’t know.  I’m crying for no reason.  Really, I’m fine.  I just do this sometimes.”  And I’m pretty sure I was being honest.  Perhaps I should have said something more in this vain, “I’m crying because I think the world is sad and is trying to let me know that.  I’m crying because of the report that another species became extinct and our heroes are athletes and actors.  I’m crying because I’ve been convinced that how fast I get my Ph.D. determines my worth and that when I’m not doing something to progress forward I am losing ground.  I’m crying because somewhere along the line of accomplishments and successes, I lost the ability to successfully accomplish relaxing.  And in ALL honesty, I can’t remember where I left it.  I’m crying because support systems are ever changing and priorities send those you love globetrotting so often I’ve had to learn geography.”

“I’m crying because I know so many kinds of love.  I’m crying because I know what it means to care about a friend, lover, parent, brother, and stranger more than myself . . . if only for small periods of time.  I’m crying because I’m pretty sure someone put a quarter in my meter so I wouldn’t get a ticket.  I’m crying for the girl who I just met giving me a totally platonic hug at the end of the night before going off into the night with my friend.  I’m crying because of the report that we just saved another endangered species and hybrid cars are increasing in popularity.  I’m crying for those moments when I feel safe or the world seems savable.”

And this is not a comprehensive list.  This is a ten-minute version of a list that I think about constantly.  A list that complies items over the hours of everyday which grows in me like an internal emotional Tetris, stacking up and up and up until there are no more rows I can complete and there is no recourse but to bleed tears from the top of my stack.  And for years now I thought I was the only one who downloaded this tumultuous game. 

But I’m not.  There are a bunch of us.  And I’m not telling you this because I’m proud to finally be part of something underground, or because I feel in anyway morally or emotionally superior, but because I’m sure there is at least someone out there whose playing their own internal game, whether its Tetris or Sudoku or depression, and they’re feeling helplessly unique.  But they’re not.

Not coincidentally, I have also recently begun experimenting with anti-anxiety/anti-depressives.  Not experimenting with them in the “borrowing my friends pills” sense, but in the medically prescribed sense.  I still think of it as experimenting though because of the fear that these little pills might irreversibly invert something that I believe is inarguably part of my uniqueness.  So I forge forward cautiously but optimistically.  And I’m convinced that there is a chemical component.  But I’m not depressed, and I don’t feel the need to be cured, so there has to be something more.  The pills have suppressed the need to cry, mercifully I might add, but the reasons remain, thankfully. 

In all of this I still remain unconvinced that the items I pore over are a chemical challenge to be stamped out.  Those items, quite to the contrary, I believe are the very “parts of my uniqueness” that I am so afraid will be eradicated.  It’s the pouring that’s my problem.  Like anything, moderation is the key.  And if these drugs can provide me with a clue as to where I lost my relaxation, where the desperately needed “off”-switch to my psyche is, then I have to admit, I’m all for it.

I’ve given up having all the answers.  And I can’t tell you whether these “no reason tears” are good or bad.  Most likely they don’t fall from my eyes onto any black and white scale of right and wrong.  All I can say is that these tears flow from many of us. Probably from those you would categorize as “least likely to cry alone for no reason”.  And if reading this convinces you that others share some of those feelings you’ve been hiding in embarrassment, well then that’s an item that I will happily add to my list.