March 29, 2010

March 29, 2010

We'll Return Shortly

And by "we," I mean "I." Just as soon as I kick this bout of stomach flu. Which has obviously passed the life-threatening stage because I'm, y'know, blogging about it and all.

Seriously, though, for most of this weekend, I didn't want anything to do with food. I didn't want to think about it. I didn't want to see or smell it. I most certainly didn't want to eat it.

That's how you know it was bad.

Anyway, bear with me. I'll be back as soon as I've enjoyed a good meal.

March 25, 2010

March 25, 2010

Librarians get angry, too.

The Alexandria library has a pretty good online catalog system. You can search for, request, and even renew books without ever visiting the actual bricks-and-mortar building. This is a great feature, since I always seem to get in checkout lines behind people with dozens of videos, enough fines to warrant mortgaging their house, and/or an inability to comprehend the Dewey Decimal System.

However, since the library at Alexandria (yep, I did it) does not yet do home delivery, I am required to retrieve and return media to a physical location. Since my opportunities to do so are limited (curse you, full-time job and horrid commute!), I’m sometimes a day late. The fines aren’t too bad (70 cents a day), but I do so love how the library likes to strike the fear of God into patrons with overdue items:
Oh SNAP. If $2.10 puts me into the “delinquent” category, I don’t even want to know what the other categories are. I’m hoping that anything above $20 means the librarians punch you in the face every time you try to check something out. I myself was anticipating a gentle face slap, so I had my money ready. (Sorry mom, I didn’t use any pennies.)

March 24, 2010

March 24, 2010

Kitchenalia

While putting groceries away recently, I realized that my kitchen cabinets may, in fact, be TOO neat.

It’s a little creepy, right? The sort of cabinet set-up you’d see in a Lifetime movie about a woman who robs a 7-11 and drives her car off a cliff. “Secret Desires: The Katie Allen Story” or something.

Honestly, if I ever start the repeated hand-washing, it’s all over.

In other news, friend-of-blog Mel recently wrote about how a person’s salt-and-pepper shakers tells a lot about them. I believe this is the perfect time to show you my recently-acquired shakers:

ADORABLE. I got them at a Corelle outlet store for like $2 each. But also, THEY ARE TINY COKE BOTTLES, combining my loves of that beverage and things that are small.

So what do your shakers look like? Any good stories there? If you don’t have any, do you promise to immediately get some and report back?

March 23, 2010

March 23, 2010

Hold it like a football? This IS how I would hold a football.

Hey, mothers of the world: what’s the deal with holding babies?

I guess the fact that I don’t understand why people hold other people’s babies is yet another reason that motherhood is beyond my ken. If you want to hold your own baby, that’s totally cool. Much better than the alternative. Same goes for anyone related by blood or law to said baby.

But why would you let a perfect stranger hold the being you spent almost a year creating from your own body? I don’t even let strangers hold my laptop. And it’s not because I find babies to be totally repulsive. Friends-of-blog Jonathan and Karen have two of the most adorable children born to mankind:

You know why I’m not picking those kids up? They are not mine. And they would wonder who the crazy lady that smells like pudding is. And I wouldn’t know how to hold them. But mostly that first reason.

“But Heather,” I hear you say, “It was just a couple of nurses at the hospital who were on their morning break.” Or, “The waitress said she really liked babies.” So being in the medical and/or foodservice industry means these people will NOT drop your baby? I believe there’s a difference between a platter of Grand Slams and an infant, other than the sodium content.

However, the blame lies not only with the random holders. It lies with anyone who perpetuates the stranger-baby-holding phenomenon. And mothers of the world, THIS MEANS YOU. If the DNA don’t fit, the holding must quit. Please keep you hands on your own babies at all times.

If you’re in need of additional babies to hold, I suggest waiting about 20 years. It’ll happen.

March 22, 2010

Grab Your Spoons

I don’t know about your location, but here in D.C., spring has finally arrived. With it come thoughts of picnics, bike rides, and ice cream novelties. In the interest of full disclosure, I have enjoy ice cream novelties year-round. But I’m told some people avoid frozen treats during the dead of winter. Whatever.

Edy’s (which may go under the Dreyer’s label where you are) (I am so sad that I know that) has a line of ice creams based on Girl Scout cookies.

Did I just blow your mind?

Yep, it’s ice cream plus Girl Scout cookies. Zomg.

Now, since the correct serving size for Girl Scout Cookies is one sleeve, you could correctly extrapolate that having boxes of those puppies lying around the house won’t do any favors for your fitness. I’m not saying that the ice cream is much better, but…no, wait. I am. I totally am saying that.

For one, IT IS ICE CREAM.

For two, you can have a big bowl of it for significantly fewer calories than a big bowl of the cookies.

For three, ICE. CREAM.

I’ve tried three flavors so far. Depending on where you live, the cookies these are based on may have one of two names. (I am so sad that I know that.)

Variety #1: Samoas (Caramel Delites)
Caramel Delites are my favorite GS cookie. Vaguely tropical. Intriguingly shaped. It’s a beguiling cookie, really. Mixed with vanilla ice cream? YES.

Variety #2: Thin Mint (Thin Mint)
I’m in the 1% of people whose favorite cookie is NOT the thin mint. However, as a human being, I enjoy the mint/chocolate combo. Chop these things up and add ice cream? OKAY!

Variety #3: Tagalongs (Peanut Butter Patties)
The other day, a co-worker said that while he bought a dozen or so boxes of cookies every year (side note: !), he couldn’t stand peanut butter patties. If it weren’t for the fact that he outranks me, he would be dead to me. Seriously, it is peanut butter robed in chocolate, just as God intended. Anyway, the cookie pieces are a bit large for my taste (I have the same problem with peanut butter cup ice creams), but I got over it pretty quickly.

Those varieties are the only ones I know about so far. I can heartily recommend all three. And while eating the ice creams instead of the cookies is probably robbing some young scout of a badge or two (I know—I was a Brownie in my day and that trauma is REALLY a blog for another day), it’s time for Americans to grab their spoons.

March 18, 2010

March 18, 2010

To the Woman at the Grocery Checkout

Dear Woman at the Grocery Checkout,

Though we didn’t actually meet, per se, I was the customer checking out behind you at Giant a couple of weeks ago. Brown hair, coupon holder, lots of pudding…ring any bells? No? Ah, well, okay. Though you may not remember me, I remember you. Actually, not so much you as what you were buying: a deli sandwich and two bottles of wine.

Admittedly, I am not a drinker. I have no alcohol tolerance; that very first bottle of beer or glass of wine makes my face burn, my heart race, and my stomach roil. I tend to avoid anything harder than a Diet Coke, though I will do Diet Dr. Pepper in a beverage emergency. Anyway, I don’t really know how these things work, and perhaps two bottles of wine is a perfectly acceptable lunchtime quaff.

But, um. It’s not like those were single-serving bottles. Mini bottles. Even 20-ounce bottles. Those were full-sized, it’s-been-a-long-day-honey-let’s-have-wine-with-dinner bottles. Probably 6 glasses each (I’m calculating based on alcohol servings and math, so it’s a rough estimate). So were you in fact planning to accompany that sandwich with a dozen glasses of wine and perhaps alcohol poisoning?

I commend your choice of sandwich; ham and turkey has always been one of my faves. However, might I suggest cutting back to one bottle of wine per meal? Or perhaps some sparkling grape juice? Just looking out for your liver. Plus, if you keel over in the checkout line, I’m going to have to move all my pudding to the next register.

Cheers,
Heather

March 17, 2010

March 16, 2010

March 16, 2010

Uh Oh Hot Dog

As you may know, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently called for a redesign of the hot dog. Why? Apparently they’re a giant choking hazard.

In the interest of safety, then, I would like to present my response to the American Academy of Pediatrics:

YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.

Hey, everyone, here are a few ideas to prevent hot dog-induced choking:

Chew.

Cut up hot dogs meant for kids’ meals.

Chew.

Supervise kids as they eat.

Chew.

Are there really that many children trying to wolf down hot dogs whole? They’re good. They’re not THAT good.

If we let them start with hot dogs, they’re going to continue with bananas (I assume the AAP would sue Mother Nature on that one?) on into ice cream novelties, and I will not stand idly by as they butcher the fudgsicle. Stop the madness, AAP.

March 15, 2010

March 15, 2010

WTF Product of the Day, Volume 11: The Haircut Umbrella

Though I’ve never had a dog, I’ve watched enough television to know about Elizabethan collars. Y’know, those things that keep a dog from biting or scratching at a wound…while simultaneously making it look like one of the characters from Twelfth Night?

I’m with ya, bud: that sucks.

However, in the commerce’s continuing bid to make people look just as ridiculous as their animals (and vice versa), I give you the Haircut Umbrella.

The kid’s face says it all, really.

As the daughter of a cheap Asiam woman, I got most haircuts via the home salon. For most of my childhood, I was totally channeling the Beatles.

However, despite being an arbiter of cleanliness, my mom had no problem laying down newspapers to catch the hair. She didn’t need no stinkin’ umbrella.

I can see utility in this thing PERHAPS to catch wayward food if you’re in an eating contest (or at a holiday meal). Otherwise, someone find the warehouse and burn them all.

March 12, 2010

March 11, 2010

March 11, 2010

It’s Not Flying. It’s Pushing Paper with Style.

Have you ever worked in a ridiculously high-pressure environment? I’m not talking “H&R Block in April.” I’m talking “emergency room in south central LA” or “live battle conditions.” A place where blood, money, possibly both are flying around willy-nilly.

How about a ridiculously low-pressure environment? A company about to go out-of-business, or perhaps one of those “think tanks” people are always going on about. (Seriously, a think tank? Where your main output is…thoughts? Let me check your financial statements and get back to you on that winner of a concept.)

Which would you prefer? I guess most people would say the low-pressure environment, because having blood, money, possibly both flying around you all day gets traumatic after awhile. (I work in government. I know. Every once in a while, I spend a million dollars before lunch.) In the government realm, it’s all well and cool to say that you work for the Department of Defense, or the CIA, or the White House. Yet these agencies are among the most political, red tapey, and strained organizations at the federal level.

I myself am tempted by the dazzling uniforms with little stripeys on the shoulders. But I’ll be honest: I’m a cryer, and there’s no way I’d ever make it at DOD. Reason 1? I use phrases like “little stripeys.” Reason 2: I’m told there is A LOT OF YELLING in military offices. I’m also guessing there are very few snacks. No snacks + yelling + little stripeys = daily crying sessions in the ladies’ room.

But a low-pressure environment, where no one cares what you do, when you do it, or even if you do anything at all? I experienced something like that during February’s Snowmaggedon-induced government closure. And even with the distractions of TV, internet, my kitchen, and my building’s fitness center, I was ready to MacGyver my way out of there by noon on the third day.

So that leaves us…where? Somewhere in the middle, I guess? A workplace with occasional stressful weeks, a few relaxing ones, and very little yelling. Somewhere like federal-agency-that-shall-not-be-named, I suppose. Or many of your workplaces.* Jobs of quiet desperation.

Just think: Only 30 years until we can retire!

* Knowing very little about any of you other than your IPs (I have StatCounter, snap!), I really have no idea what you do or where you do it. The fact that you regularly read my blog, though, leads me to believe that your job is about as thrilling as mine. If you are, in fact, living a life of glamour and intrigue, please let me know and I’ll note it in the record.

March 10, 2010

March 10, 2010

Heathertopia, Brought to You by Diet Coke

Last week, Singapore decided to uphold its 18-years-and-counting ban on chewing gum. Ostensibly, this ban is meant to eliminate gum on sidewalks, under benches, and in other places it doesn’t belong. Unofficially, though, I’m thinking some high-level government official one day realized two things: “I hate gum” and “I’m a high-level government official, which means I can do whatever the hell I want—NO GUM FOR YOU.”

In my anal-retentive control-freak opinion, we should all be so lucky.

What would you ban? The first thing that comes to my mind is crocs. There are plenty of viable footwear alternatives that do not simultaneously expose my eyeballs to fuchsia rubber and toe fungus.

I’d like to require anyone who wants to drive a vehicle larger than a sedan to prove a valid reason. You’re a mom who needs a minivan? Cool. A rancher who hauls lumber in the ol’ pickup? Totally fine.

But an accountant who likes driving an SUV? You’ll need to find a way to compensate that doesn’t involve fossil fuels.

Lest you get the idea that my utopia would be utterly prohibitive (side note: it totally would be, but that’s not the point), I would also encourage plenty of things. I would mandate times for snacks and naps, obviously. We would have some sort of national quiz league (the NQL), because the tiny religious schools I went to never gave me a chance to show off my freakish knowledge of trivia and I feel like my time has come, dammit.

In short, I’d try to make it fun for everybody. But mostly for me, because that’s the entire point of dictatorship.

That and the snacks.

March 9, 2010

March 9, 2010

In My Opinion: Cop Out

The pairing of a wizened veteran cop with wacky/sassy/inexperienced partner (often of different race) is certainly nothing new. You got your 48 HRS. Your Training Day. Almost anything starring Bruce Willis. Audiences love the buddy cop thing, whether it’s serious or funny.

While not originally planning to see Cop Out, the promise of shooting and Tracy-Morgan-as-himself was irresistible for this 30 Rock fan. It’s a good thing I didn’t realize it was directed by Kevin Smith until after the fact—I’m still recovering from a single viewing of Clerks.

In Cop Out, Willis and Morgan’s characters have been together for nine years when they get suspended for less-than-germane practices. Meanwhile, Willis’s daughter is preparing for the wedding of her dreams…all $50,000 worth. Willis can’t let his ex-wife and her shiny new husband pay, because Men Don’t Play Like Dat. Thus he decides to sell his like, most favorite baseball card EVER to finance the nuptials.

Unfortunately for him, the card gets stolen (by Seann William Scott, who is destined to play stupid friend/criminal roles). Morgan’s gun is also stolen, and the two men take it on themselves to get back their goods.

Complicating matters further is Morgan’s suspicion that his wife is cheating on him with their neighbor. One of the side plots involves his attempt to catch her in the act with a nanny cam-like device.

At some point a car is uncovered, with a woman in the trunk, and she has a special USB drive/rosary thing, and then people get shot, and I dunno at this point we’ve all stopped caring.

BUT.

To sum it up, go for the action and the banter. Don’t try to follow the story.

Squee in girlish delight when Adam Brody shows up on screen, because DANG Seth Cohen has come a long way.

Grunt in confusion when My Name Is Earl shows up on screen without his mustache. It’s like Winston Churchill without a bowler, or Michael Jackson without the pedophilia (too soon?).

It’s not about the substance. It’s about the style.

March 8, 2010

March 8, 2010

WTF Product of the Day, Volume 10: The Cakewich Cake Pan

(Sorry for the delay in posting. My Oscar hangover's pretty bad this year, and the hardest thing I drank was Diet Coke. Stupid eastern time zone.)

In America’s quest to become the greatest, the powerfullest, the freest, and other superlatives, we have somehow decided that bigger is better. We like big vehicles. We like big stores. We like big jewelry.

And we LOVE big baked goods.

I spoke once upon a time of the Big Top Cupcake. Though not literally the size of a circus tent (note: how awesome would that be? Discuss), the finished product weighs in at slightly less than your average kindergartener. In case you are wondering, it is better than your average kindergartener because it is obedient and edible. It is worse than your average kindergartener because you can’t fool it into performing menial tasks for you like adjusting the television antenna. Not that I speak from experience. (It’s best that my parents never had another kid.)

I speak now of the Cakewich Cake Pan. It’s shaped like a giant piece of bread, allowing you to create WORKS OF CULINARY ART like so:

As Tracy Jordan would say, I want to take that cake behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Think about the versatility, people. We’re not limited to PB&J creations. Use chocolate cake for pumpernickel and some sort of pudding dealio for filling.

Or—awesome idea alert—use actual bread mixtures and real fillings. Where you used to take a regular bologna sandwich to work, take one that uses the entire package of faux meat. And requires a gallon-sized Ziploc for storage.

C’mon: if it’s socially-acceptable to eat an entire pizza, it should be acceptable to eat a pizza-sized sandwich. In fact, it should be more socially-acceptable. Pizza is Italian, while I’m pretty sure Oscar Mayer was all about the U.S.A.

Anyone wanna split a reuben? Who’s with me?

March 5, 2010

March 4, 2010

March 4, 2010

How would Jesus...glide?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are in Milwaukee for the next several months. Well, some of them, anyway. And some random Bibles, too. And not all of the Dead Sea Scrolls were found at the same time, or in the same place.

Yeah, it’s confusing. And I took three and a half years of Bible college.* Which turned out to be pretty helpful, as I actually knew where in the Bible various scroll segments came from. I wanted to bitch slap each and every person who mispronounced Habakkuk. For realsies.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures in the exhibit itself. What, like thousands of daily camera flashes are going to damage ancient pieces of tissue thin paper or something?

…oh.

I did manage to get a few peripheral shots to set the mood, though. Lucky you.

The exhibit shouts-out both the scrolls and the Bible, so don’t be alarmed by the room of Bibles that ends the exhibit. They’re actually pretty cool, even to those of you who didn’t have to take a gazillionteen course-hours of classes like “Hermeneutical Interpretations of the Book of Elijah.”**

The key to visiting the Milwaukee Public Museum is to go on any day but Monday. On Mondays, admission is free to Milwaukee County residents. And you know how Wisconsinites like a deal. But go on Friday, for example, and the place is deserted. (Go right when the museum opens at 9, and you get the scene above.)

I was immediately drawn to the bins in formation. Once I finished admiring their aligned beauty, I realized these were more than just mere storage containers.

They were ready for sack lunches, possibly my favorite type of lunch ever after “all you can eat” and “paid for by someone else.”

The wristbands for the special exhibit were gold. Sparing no expense, MPM. Well done.

[Pretend I have exhibit pictures here.]

After perusing the artifacts, scrolls, and Bibles, I exited through the gift shop. I was both saddened and delighted to find these lovelies:

Am I being punked with this?

While it’s a pricey visit ($26 a pop), it’s not like you’re going to get to see these at any other time outside of a trip to Israel or the completion of that time machine in your garage. So go already.

* No, I wasn’t kicked out. I graduated a semester early. HA.
** Not an actual course at my school. I just like the word “hermeneutics.”

March 3, 2010

March 3, 2010

Abbreviated Movie Reviews: A Threeve

While I see and write about not-a-few movies, sometimes I watch a film that, for one reason or another, I’d rather not write a full-fledged review on. Sometimes it’s not that great for me (The Princess Bride, I’m looking at you). Sometimes I just forget. Sometimes it’s my Baptist prudishness coming out in full force. To wit:

Brokeback Mountain. Was it good? Yes. Was it earth shattering? Not so much. Did I tear up a little at that final shirt-in-shirt action? Sure did. But watching two men do what, um, the two men did? Tragedy, because 99 women out of 99 women would rather swap in there somehow. It’s too much pretty for them to waste on each other. Seriously.

Miss Potter. A sweet little gem of a film, and (sadly) one I missed in its original run. Renee Zellwegger was her usual squinty self, of course, but this time I didn’t mind so much. Yet while I’m sure Beatrix had a very lively imagination, I’d prefer not to see drawings come to life unless someone’s smoking some serious weed.

Becoming Jane. Speaking of Films About Single Female Authors Of Days Gone By, here’s another. Between this, Brokeback, and a recent re-viewing of The Devil Wears Prada, there’s a chance I may be turning into an Anne Hathaway stalker. Anyway, though not a fan of Jane Austen per se, I’m all about angst and ball gowns. Plus, it’s not like they’re making “Becoming Tolkien” movies, so I have to take what I can get.

Kinsey. You wanna talk about squirm inducing? I will see your squirm inducing and raise you umpteen pictures of things that are not good out-loud words. Not good out-loud words AT ALL.

March 2, 2010

March 2, 2010

Yes We Condiment

Heinz has shaken the condiment world by introducing a new style of ketchup packet. You can use it both to dip and to squeeze.

As someone intimately concerned with all things food and containment, I was asked to share my opinion of the new packaging. Sadly, I’m afraid I have to go con on this one.

Preface: I’m not a huge fan of ketchup. (That sound you just heard was TheBoy dying inside. When eating at a restaurant that puts ketchup bottles on the table, we have not once gotten through a meal with just one bottle. He puts ketchup on his ketchup.) I prefer mustard, mayo, salad dressing, and even honey for my various dipping needs.

Actually, honey is the perfect example of why I much prefer a squeeze-only packet to a dipper.

For longer than you’d think As a young girl, I was a big fan of the Chicken McNugget. Are they mostly chicken? No. Do they only come in three not-found-in-nature shapes? Yes. Is any bird-based product more associated in my mind with childish glee? Not a chance. McNuggets ftw.

While you may have enjoyed your McNuggets with barbecue sauce or (shudder) ketchup, I always asked for honey. Did I get almost as much honey on me as on the nuggets? You betcha. But nothing beat sticky-sweet on crispy.

Unfortunately for me, McDonald’s honey comes in dipper-only packets. And no matter how I tried, how much unnatural chicken-contorting I did, I couldn’t get all the honey out of the packet.) Unless I used my tongue, but that’s another matter entirely.) Many was the time that I yearned for the ability to squeeze (and thus aim) honey on nugget.

While I’m sure dipping has its merits, I’m a squeezer all the way. It’s all in the efficiency.

(While finding the picture for this entry, I stumbled on this periodic table of condiments and ZOMG I LOVE IT.)

March 1, 2010

March 1, 2010

In My Opinion: Fantastic Mr. Fox

Now that I’m in the “closer to 30 than any other number ending in a zero” age bracket, the time has come for kids’ movies to give me pause. (Except those made by Pixar because those things never go out of style, and yes I cried at Up, and shutup so did you.) A princess and a frog? No thanks. High school musical? I’m good.

Then Wes Anderson had to go and muddle the waters.

You know how much I love l’oeuvre d’Anderson. I mean, it’s not every Rushmore-quoting fan that can also name the stars of Bottle Rocket. So ha.

But as you probably know, Anderson’s latest, Fantastic Mr. Fox, is all stop-motiony and whatnot. “Ooh, it stars George Clooney and he’s DREAMY,” I hear you say. Yes, but in this movie, he looks like this:

&#%$.

Anyway. Fantastic Mr. Fox is based on a children’s story by Roald Dahl, he of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and James and the Giant Peach. And other than the fact that it stars animals, it follows a typical Anderson plot arc pretty closely.

Our Family Is In A Rut. Mr. Fox, having given up his chicken-stealing career for newspaper writing and domesticity, has bought a new house. Against the counsel of his lawyer (a badger voiced by Bill Murray), Fox buys in a tree. Not safe for foxes. FORESHADOWING.

Our Family Is Dysfunctional. Think the Tenenbaums with tails. Fox yearns for his younger days, stealing chickens and having adventures. His son, Ash, would rather play superhero than sports, and resents his father for wishing differently. When cousin Kristofferson comes to stay, and just happens to be everything Ash isn’t, the angst grows.

We Are Going to Change Things. Fox, whose tree-based home is conveniently located next to three farms, decides to start pulling heists again. He and his opossum-superintendent take poultry and cider to their heart’s content. Things look up. FORESHADOWING.

All Hell Breaks Loose. The farmers, hugely pissed off that some idiot animal is taking their goods, band together to get Fox and his family by shooting, digging, and then flooding them out. Fox and the rest of his animal friends band together underground to try to survive the siege on pillaged bird and cider.

Then We Reconcile. Fox writes to the farmers (just go with it), arranging a meeting in town. The farmers plan an ambush, but the animals are ready. Ash proves his worth by saving Kristofferson and escaping a rabid dog. The farmers get their comeuppance. The story ends with the animals ending up in a supermarket, dancing amidst all the food they could want.

Realistic? Not even a little. That’s not the point. There’s action without too much tension, fun without too much frivolity, and the saturated rainbow of hues Anderson loves. It’s Chicken Run with fur instead of feathers.