Yo Gabba Gabba

My friend Seamus has an important research position, which occasionally (see: frequently) requires him to send me random YouTube clips and Top 100 lists. This video was of particular importance, as it is apparently the favorite TV show of our friends’ children. After watching it, I feel like I’ve been possessed by a demon. A party in my tummy demon.

I can’t believe that all my life, I have neglected to invite my meals into my stomach before eating them. I feel like such a boor. Never again. The next time someone takes me out to dinner, I’m going to exhibit perfect etiquette: “Does flank steak want to go to the party? The party in my tummy? And does Zinfandel want to go to the party in my tummy? Yeah! So yummy! So yummy!”
Dinner anyone?

Two Stories, True Stories

Today at the gym, I stood in front of my locker for 20 minutes trying to remember the combination to my lock. I was absolutely positive that I had it right. After trying the combination no less than 50 times, I contemplated finding some sandpaper and a stethoscope to see if I actually learned anything from all those heist movies I’ve watched over the years.
Eventually, I had to swallow my pride and walk back up to the front desk, where they laughed and pulled out an enormous bolt cutter from underneath the counter. They handed it to an adorable Natasha Lyonne look-alike, and I took the walk of shame behind her to my locker. She tried her hardest to cut the lock, but I buy only the highest quality Masterlocks, so she had to give up after only making a slight scratch. As she left to get one of her burlier male counterparts, and started warning all the women that the locker room was about to become co-ed, I suddenly remembered the actual combination.
The dent in my lock will serve as a constant reminder of my impending senility. Until I forget how it got there.
I finally took on the brutal task of organizing my linen closet, which probably isn’t a big deal for most people, but mine serves as a repository for every shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, curl enhancer, smoothing pomade, hair spray, body lotion, salt scrub, lip balm, Clinique Bonus Days sample, feminine product and hotel soap I have ever acquired throughout the course of my 36 years.
While rearranging the actual linens in my linen closet, I also found a dog mask, rabbit ears, koala nose, wolf snout, and an unfamiliar portable CD player that contained a disk of trance music. At some point in my life, I apparently was holding raves in my linen closet. The only things missing were the glow sticks and Ecstacy.
Just as I was putting the finishing touches on the second shelf, I accidentally knocked over a poorly secured but 90% full bottle of Natural Citrus Listerine, spilling it all over my newly organized bathtowels and sheets. I just walked away.
Party over here:



Just so you know…
I’ve never read Jane Austen, and I have no plans to. I think she’s totally overrated. And anyone who doesn’t like tapioca pudding can kiss my a**.
This message brought to you by 3.5 glasses of shiraz and the letter “empty stomach.”

Paul Newman and the Cancer People

I had barely finished half my latté when the man at the counter yelled through his multiple lip piercings, “We close in five minutes!”

“Five minutes? What kind of independent coffee shop closes at eight o’clock?”

“Apparently this one.”


We bundled up to face the bitter cold that awaited, while debating what to do next. Neither of us knew of any other coffee shops in the area, and I wasn’t up for a bar. I could have easily called it an evening, but felt somewhat obliged to stay since our conversation had been cut short by the hipster barista.

We paused as we walked past a grimy looking diner, and although he acted like he had never been there before, I saw Robert nod at the woman at the counter.

“It’s either this, or the McDonald’s on Broadway,” he shrugged.

“Let’s give it a shot.”

As we entered, we walked past three gumball machines, two of which contained what appeared to be peanut dust. The third was half full of multi-colored Chiclets, and I made a mental note to check my wallet for quarters before I left.

The diner was empty except for a man mopping the floor in back and the woman at the counter. She was fifty-something with yellowish bleached hair and penciled-in eyebrows, and flashed us a huge smile as we entered.

“Sit anywhere you like.”

Our options were either stools at the counter or booths along the wall. I chose a booth near the window and straddled the wide silver patch of duct tape that was holding the seat together.

“You’re not too cold over here by the window, are you?” she asked, as she tossed down our menus.

“No, it’s fine, thanks.”

“Can I get you started with some coffee?”

“Actually, I think that’s probably all we’re having… unless you’re going to get something to eat?”

He flipped the menu over and then flipped it back again. “Huh. They got new menus. But no, no, I think I’ll just have the coffee. Decaf.”

Our waitress gathered up the silverware she had just placed down and went to make some coffee. A fresh pot, she assured us with a smile.

“So you’ve been here before?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah, for breakfast a long time ago.”

A woman came in to use the ATM and left the receipt sticking out of the machine. There were two types of hot sauce on the table, which seemed extravagant for such a small diner. All three ceiling fans were different.

We talked about the Olympics and tiger attacks and thrift store books and how all of Chicago is just one good rainstorm away from collapsing into a giant sink hole.

“The Lincoln Park Zoo isn’t allowed to have elephants anymore, you know.”

“Really? Why’s that?”

“They kept dying. Now they’ve been banned from getting new ones.”

I wasn’t entirely sure I had my facts straight, but he didn’t know that, so I didn’t waver.

Our waitress set down our coffee and said, “See? Nothing like a fresh brewed pot of decaf. I hate stale decaf that’s been sitting around, don’t you?”

“Absolutely. Thanks so much!”

He was working his way through all the Ian Fleming novels, which he would then sell on eBay for a profit. I mumbled as I tried to explain what I did for a living, “It’s really boring… and people… and data.” Sometimes it’s good to play dull.

Two young men came in and sat at the booth across from us. The waitress seemed to know one of them because she teased him about not being dressed for the weather while she refilled our coffee cups.

“You went to Mexico? Whereabouts?” she asked the young man, as she leaned on her elbows across the counter.


“Where’s that?”


“Oh… Tijuana. You bad, dirty boy. People get into trouble there, don’t they?”

We went back to talking about the rising cost of condos and the primary elections, but every now and then I would catch part of their conversation.

“You can get prescription drugs there without prescriptions.”

“Yeah, and I heard that Mexican drugs are actually better than the drugs you can get in the States.”

I looked at the clock above the kitchen and announced that it was probably time for me to head home. We got up to pay, but our waitress was still deep in discussion with the young men.

“Isn’t that right?” she asked me. “Don’t cancer people go to Mexico to get drugs?”

“You mean like experimental ones?” Robert asked.

“Yeah. Like all the rich Hollywood stars used to go down to Mexico for treatment when they knew they were going to die anyway. Like Paul Newman and Liz Taylor and everyone.”

I was pretty sure that both Paul Newman and Liz Taylor were still alive, and I didn’t recall ever hearing that they had cancer, but then maybe that’s because the experimental Mexican drugs had cured them.

“Huh. I’m not sure.”

“Yeah… that’s all you see on TV nowadays is cancer drugs. Everything’s a cancer ad. I don’t even want to watch TV anymore.”

“That’s true – now that all the drug companies can advertise on TV, that’s all you…”

“I know! And then it’s even during the kids’ shows! I swear, I’m watching TV the other day and some little kid comes on and says, ‘I have a brain tumor!’ I don’t want to see that. I turned it right off.”

“Huh. Yeah.” I pulled out my wallet but Robert waved me off. The bill came to $2.80.

“I mean, I swear that that’s why everyone has cancer nowadays. Half of that is mental, you know? Watching all them cancer shows and listening to all them cancer ads… that’s probably causing it. I tell you, when I see that ad come on with that little kid and he starts to go, ‘I have a brain…,’ I cut him off right there and change the channel. No you don’t! That’s what I say.”

“Yeah, TV is pretty crazy.”

“Isn’t that the truth? I mean, whatever happened to Corningware ads? How come you never see those anymore? Nothing but cancer drugs. That’s why you don’t see a TV in here. Nothing’s gonna poison you here.”

“Well, we got that fresh pot of decaf to keep us healthy, too!”

“That’s for sure. Well, come back soon!”

I pulled my hat down low, close to my eyes, preparing for the inevitable blast of icy wind, then paused before stepping outside. I stretched out my mitten-clad hand as Robert held open the door.


Making scents of it all

I went shopping this weekend only to be horribly disappointed to learn that despite the -25 degree wind chill, apparently it is spring in Chicago, so stores are stocked with pastel Capri pants and jaunty denim jackets. Procrastinators like me who realize in mid January that they’ve been wearing the same five outfits to work every week for the past four months are relegated to the tables in the backs of stores where piles of unfolded sweaters are pawed at by grubby hands like mine, searching desperately for a size that is not XS.
My fellow shoppers and I circled the table like ravenous wolves looking for bargain sheep, followed closely by the unfortunate sales clerk who had the Sisyphean task of refolding all the garments left in our wake. Eventually I stopped looking at the actual article of clothing itself, and instead focused solely on the tag. I grabbed anything that was M and clutched it to my chest, figuring I could inspect the item once I made my way to the fitting room. Sometimes clothes run big, I thought, so I’d grab an occasional S. But sometimes they also run small, so I grabbed an XL since L’s were as scarce as M’s.
When I got to the fitting room, I found that I had an S sweater in blaze orange, the same sweater in XL, a black M camisole I didn’t even remember touching, a fuchsia M turtleneck, and a bright blue S fitted sweater with a cowl neck and little buttons along the cuffs.
None of these things are clothes I would typically wear, but I wanted to buy them all – even both orange sweaters that didn’t fit – just because they had been reduced to $15.99 or less.
I walked out with just the blue sweater – an unlikely choice. It’s not my color, not really my style, and it’s so tight that when I raise my right arm, the left one automatically follows, but for some reason I felt compelled to buy it. It was only when I put it on this morning that I noticed the smell. As I pulled the neck over my head, I got a distinct whiff of perfume, most definitely not my own.
I lifted up the neck a bit and inhaled deeply. It was sweet, but not overly so. Not musky. Kind of clean, like laundry detergent, but less utilitarian. Wait, I thought. Is this an old lady sweater? Did an old lady try this on and decide against it? Am I now wearing a $12.99 sweater that a heavily scented rail-thin grandmother tossed aside? And how did so much perfume soak into a sweater if she just quickly tried it on? Maybe it smelled like something else – something much, much worse – and the old lady reached into her enormous purse to find her art deco atomizer with the long stem and fancy tasseled bulb and sprayed it directly onto the neck of the sweater because the odor was so vile she couldn’t bear the thought of letting it touch her face again as she removed the offending piece of clothing.
Without so much as a nod to the dressing room attendant, she tossed the sweater back onto the table on her way out, just as I was walking in. Maybe I even smelled her as she passed by, but I was too focused on the sale rack to notice.
As I finished getting ready this morning, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being followed. It was like a stranger had wrapped herself around my throat like a little mink and wouldn’t let go. I pulled the neck of my sweater out as I sprayed on a hefty dose of my own perfume. She disappeared for a few minutes, only to return as I made my toast.
She is strong, this old mink.
She kept me company all day – while I rode the half-empty train to work this morning, as I made myself some green tea for the anti-oxidants, when I argued with our Legal department over federal regulations, and as I poured myself a glass of scotch tonight to fight off the chill.
She’s gone now, hanging in my closet making friends with something grey and argyle, no doubt. Sure, she got on my nerves at first, but I think I’ll keep her around for a few more weeks. Not so much for sentimental reasons, but she’s dry clean only and I can’t afford to get rid of her just yet.

It’s time to play… CATWHEEL! OF! FUN!

I’ve often heard that if you forget to feed your cats before leaving for work in the morning twice in the same week, they will never let you live down this offense. For the next month, studies have shown that they will tangle around your ankles every time you walk to the kitchen, and then circle their food bowls like madmen, even once you have consistently remembered to feed them two weeks in a row.
Additionally, a recent poll of pet owners across the US found that cats who have suffered this treatment will occasionally look up at their owners while licking the bottom of an empty stainless steel food bowl just to prove a point.
Fortunately, our research has shown that a significant improvement in the overall levels of cat-human trust can be achieved through bribery. Specifically, bribery in the form of a CATWHEEL! OF! FUN!
As you can see, three out of three cats approve of the Catwheel! Of! Fun! Eventually, over the course of the next five to seven years, the majority of cats are able to overcome their resentment toward humankind and their general fear of neglect and abandonment.
That is, of course, unless the Catwheel! Of! Fun! is incorrectly assembled and the sheer weight of two hefty cats – who clearly could stand to skip a few more meals – turns it into the collapsible Catwheel! Of! Death!
Our evidence indicates that the emotional damage in that scenario will be irreparable.

Dontcha Wish Your T-shirt Was a Freak Like Mine?

One of my favorite xmas gifts this season came from the creative talents of my friend Natasha:
Some of you are probably thinking, “Hmm. Why does that image seem strangely familiar to me?”
Well, I’ll tell you why. You may recall this image from the day I was almost killed in my sleep by dead baby twin ghosts at Dee-Dee’s house.
It’s a telephone. It’s a t-shirt. And despite what Whitney Houston would like you to believe, it’s also the greatest love of all.

Opinion Poll: Sir Mix-a-Lot

So here I am, with one bottle of Absolut Mandrin (sic) and one bottle of Berry Fusion Pucker and one simple goal: create the ultimate 2008 cocktail. Sure, Natasha and I took a bartending class together a few years ago, but it was a lecture course – no hands on! We didn’t learn jack!
Based on the comments from my last post, I can already see that there are far more creative budding mixologists than me, so I have decided to leave my fate in your hands. I’m looking for the best creative drink recipe using my two base ingredients…
…and anything else you might suggest.
I’ve already tried the two together, and although it’s got a bit of a kick, it’s not half bad. I call this drink the Flattop:
not as bad as you might think
Once I get a few more recipe ideas, I’m going to gather up all the ingredients and my digital camera, head over to Nat and Farnsworth’s apartment, and see if I retained any of that bartending knowledge. They will serve as my guinea pigs, and the tastiest drink will win the title of 2008 Drink of the Year! Plus, I will name the drink after the person who suggested the winning recipe and think fondly of that person every time I pop a few Advil after an all-night bender.
So far, we have two suggestions:
The Blind Pegasus, submitted by Peggasus
• Mandrin vodka
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Fresca
• Frozen raspberry garnish
The Strodelicious, submitted by Strode
• Mandrin vodka
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Malibu rum
• Two ice cubes
I think these both have great potential, but I need a couple more options, so put on your drinking caps (groan) and let me know if you have any recipe ideas! [NOTE: please – I beg of you – do not suggest any drinks involving Southern Comfort. My mouth just started watering, and not in the good way, typing out those words. Oh… college…]
Updated Recipe List (and yes, I’m too lazy to do links right now, sorry.):
The Sour Fist, submitted by Vahid
• ½ shot Berry Fusion Pucker
• ½ shot Absolut Mandrin
• Drop into pint of Guinness
The Spicy Elf, submitted by Arwen
• Mandrin vodka
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Cointreau
• Reed’s Gingerale
The Norovirus, submitted by Dan
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Absolut Mandrin
• Frozen Waffles
• Blend into a smoothie
To Sir With Love, submitted by Sir
• 1 1/2 oz Absolut Mandrin
• 1 oz sweet & sour mix
• 1/2 oz Death Pucker
The Stranger, submitted by Anonymous
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Absolut Mandrin
• Absinthe (FYI – it’s actually legal now in the US)
The Eclectic, submitted by Shari
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Absolut Mandrin
• Club Soda
• Serve over ice
The Boris and Natasha, submitted by Natasha
• 1 shot Orange Vodka
• 1/2 shot Cointreau
• 1/2 shot Berry Fusion Pucker
• Pomegrante Juice
• Shaken Well – served with a squeeze of lemon/lime
The Brando, submitted by Dustin
• 1 shot Mandrin
• 1 shot Berry Pucker
• 40 oz. Steel Reserve
• Shake well and serve in 7-Eleven Big Gulp cup with a straw.
The Newman’s Own, submitted by Dan
• Berry Fusion Pucker
• Absolut Mandrin
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Serve over mixed greens
Okay, I’m going to need to do some serious shopping this weekend. I’ll keep you updated on my progress…

Oh, Pucker

This Saturday, Natasha, her main man Farnsworth and I sat at our favorite bar, reflecting on all our good times in 2007 and trying to decide what our drink for 2008 would be. I think it was 2005 when we determined the drink would be scotch, and the habit has stuck with me ever since, so it’s important that I pick the right drink as my annual beverage.
I can’t really get into the specifics yet because we’re still working on the ingredients and I don’t want someone to steal my drink idea and make millions of dollars selling them in souvenir glasses on booze cruises in South Padre Island, but we know for sure that it will have a base of orange vodka. We know this for sure because there is, at present, a bottle of orange vodka chilling in my freezer.
Late on Sunday, against the advice of a wise friend who told me it would be a madhouse, I conned Nat into joining me at a local bar for an airing of the L Word premiere. I refuse to get cable, and the FCC’s crackdown on illegal downloading has left me with few options, but when I got to the bar, there were no less than 7,000 cosmo guzzling, shrieking women staring unblinkingly at the giant flat screen TV’s. I immediately turned around on my heels and sent Nat the simple text message: ABORT!
There’s only so much I’m willing to endure for Jennifer Beals. To recover from my disappointment, I started off on a quest to begin experimenting with our 2008 drink recipes. I walked into the corner liquor store and started wandering down the vodka aisle.
“Can I help you find anything?”
“Uh… no, not yet. Just looking right now.”
“Okay, just let me know if I can help.”
I saw a bottle of grape vodka and started to wonder if maybe we had made a mistake establishing the base as orange vodka. Is grape more versatile? Is orange totally 2006? But what’s done is done, I always say, so I knelt down to look through the rows of liqueurs. Nat had suggested we try chambord as a mixer, but they didn’t have any. I grabbed the closest thing I could find, which was crème de cassis.
As I stood there pondering how cassis (what exactly is a cassis, anyway? a currant?) would taste with orange, I saw what I thought was raspberry liqueur. It turned out to be something called Berry Fusion Pucker, which sounded utterly vile, so I set it back down and headed toward the cashier.
“Hey, if you buy the Pucker, I’ll give you a few bucks off. We’re trying to close it out.”
I glanced at the crème de cassis in my hand, then back at the Pucker, then back at the cassis, and said, “Sold!”
I’m beginning to wonder if my theme for 2008 should really be The Year of the Discount. First I got Cherry Cordial Hershey’s Kisses for 75% off from Target, and here was a total stranger offering to give me $3 off a bottle of Berry Fusion Pucker liqueur just because absolutely no one else would buy it. It’s kind of like winning the lottery. Or at least a free Egg McMuffin in the McDonald’s Monopoly promotion.
So like I said earlier, I can’t get into too many specifics on what else I’m mixing with this 2008 special drink – mostly because all I have so far is the vodka and Pucker – but after a few solo trial runs, suffice it to say that this Pucker’s gonna be good!

Maybe It’s Maybelline

Sometimes Rabbit just wants to feel pretty.