Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, August 28, 2005

FFH: Your Source for Hip-Hop News

So there's this:

MIAMI BEACH (AP) - The MTV Video Music Awards escaped the drama and damage of Hurricane Katrina. On Sunday night, they faced being overshadowed by another dangerous name _ Suge Knight.

The Death Row Records founder, who has been at the center of some of hip-hop's most violent moments, was shot in the leg early Sunday morning ... The show was being hosted by Diddy (the artist formerly known as Sean Combs)

Make your own comments.

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Saturday, August 27, 2005

In Which I Indulge in Bicoastal Nostalgia

It occurs to me that I never actually finished off my account of my trip to New York. Not too much happened in the last 36 hours. Jeff beat me at Scrabble before I left; he contemplated snapping a photo of our board, but decided that would be bragging. Rate Jeff's rack here. I fixed supper for my folks on my last night in the city. I told David it was good training for cooking for kids, starting with the minute before dinner when Mom asked if she could have chicken instead of noodles. Dad was very praiseworthy until the end of the meal when he let slip, "I'm having some more of those fried onions. As for those," he poked at the bell peppers, "I've done my duty there." Sigh. We shopped in the morning and then Sarah and Lucy came over to catch me before I caught my plane, on which I had an entire row to myself. There's a lot I didn't get to do, and a lot of people I didn't get to see, in spite of how busy it was. It's a big city and a lot of my favorite people live there.

It also occurs to me that I left a few bits out of some earlier accounts that I'd have liked to have shared with you. Like how at Rich's birthday dinner Scotto hoped aloud that if Adele was hired by the CIA they'd send a hot chick to his place to do a background check like they did when Rich was hired at the Justice Department, and Jimmy spluttered into his pizza, "Hey no fair! They sent me a dude!" Or how I went to Rhode Island with Jan and my parents, and how Jan was wonderful and how Rhoda and Ponto killed a toad which set off the usual round of puking. Or how I shared Jeff and Adam's living room with a guy called Chet whom I was very much hoping would not remember having met me five years earlier at a Chili Peppers concert for which I made us 2 hours late by trying to take a bus that didn't exist.

So sure, New York was a ball, and I miss everyone very much, but it would be a shame to ignore the fine times Davis has to offer. Tonight, for instance, I went searching for cardboard boxes. I asked my neighbor, Clementina, where she got the boxes she is using to move tomorrow, and the answer led to a road trip around Davis to search for boxes in recycling bins and behind shops. She's having a spot of cabin fever what with the breastfeeding and all; I'm not sure what my excuse was. It turns out Clementina has a lot more stories about box hunting than I might have imagined. My favorite was about how when she was growing up she was raised to avoid carboard from other people's homes in case of inviting new breeds of cockroaches. Whenever packages arrived from Mexico, they would have to open them outside. Before we hit pay dirt at the produce department of Safeway, we plundered the recycling bin behind a Chinese restaurant, yielding one box labeled "horse radish powder" and another labeled, "squeeze rocket party packs." Bet you can't get them in New York--oh who am I kidding, of course you can.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

All this Time I Thought J.K. Rowling was a Democrat

As most of you know, I will have my first day of classes on Monday. To commemorate the end of my freedom, I have given in to Michael's pleading and read the most recent Harry Potter. He said I was driving him to the Harry Potter fan sites cause he had no one to talk to about it.

Well, now that I'm done I have a crumple-horned snorkack bone to pick with J.K. Rowling. I've been defending these books (against my mom, primarily, but she's tenacious) on the grounds that they display deeper moral complexity than most grownup stories. Law & Order, for instance, does not stack up. Okay, so the prose is not of C.S. Lewis quality, but I find the magical parts charming, and most of the characters ditto. But my defense really rests on the character of Professor Snape.


Up until this last book, Snape was a rare creation. It may not sound like all that much that to point out that he seems like an obvious bad guy and isn't, but that's rarer than you think, if you actually start paying attention to it. It's better than that, though; Snape is a reformed evil wizard who fights on the side of good but still holds unreasonable grudges against our hero and generally behaves evilly short only of actually being evil. He's impossible to like, and he's not a kind person, but he's not a villain either. That's seriously rare stuff in popular fiction or movies for that matter. I thought maybe Rowling belonged to Al-Anon.

But it would seem from this last book that Snape has always been evil after all--in spite of having saved Harry's life. I see one loophole: I think when Dumbledore was pleading with Snape in his last moments he might have been pleading for him to kill him. Rowling has one book left in which to exploit this loophole before I join in with the book burners in Alamogordo. Otherwise, I'm going to have to find some other reason to defend my having read six of these things.

And I know your fingers are itching to point out that there are no Democrats in Scotland, but I submit to you that voting Labor hardly captures what I was going for, i.e. a moral dichotomy not involving Tony Blair.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at August 27, 2005 7:45 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I'm going with that loophole theory as well. It's too simple if Harry was right about Snape all along, and it's too undignified for Dumbledore to die pleading for his life. Of course, in keeping with the rest of the series, there'll be some twist that's even more complicated than the idea that Dumbledore had some grand plan involving his death.
    - sol

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at August 27, 2005 7:49 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • By the way,

    Spoiler Alert on my comment above as well.

    - sol

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fantasy Football Draft

I completed my first of two fantasy football drafts this week. Fortunately, the date fell right as I was suffering from deadline fever for our football special issue. Actually, I'll be suffering them for the next six days untl the issue goes to press. That means, I did exactly zero research on my draft picks. Did you know that Jeff Garcia was playing for Detroit instead of Cleveland? I can't believe it.

Back to work.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Adjusting to our New Life

We spent last night at a charming little place in town called Delta of Venus for a send-off for our neighbors who are moving with their children deep into wine country. This is a good thing for them because he's out of school and working, but it is rather sad for us, who have enjoyed the vicarious thrill of watching their children grow up. They have also been sort of building social directors, allowing tenants here to meander through long conversations in the courtyard as we all watched the older kid run around and pick stuff up off the ground and the younger one drool nonchalantly, as though it had not a care in the world. They say they are happy that we're taking over their apartment. We are happy too, although our first preference would be that they stay in it.

Meanwhile Anna had her orientation day at Berkeley (and she can tell you more about that when she gets a chance), which means we are starting the next chapter of our life together. It's an exciting time. A new football season is dawning as well, starting the four most intense months of my life every year. Getting the rhythms down will take some time.

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Hostylefax: Bloggers Converge on Brooklyn

Last night was Rich's 25th birthday (Friday, technically), so a collection of us gathered at his and Adele's apartment to celebrate. Of the eight of us who went out to dinner, at least four blogs were represented: 34, Brooklyn: A Lawyer's Life, Chimpy's, plus FFH. Later Adam (Jeff's roommate, not No-Veg Adam) and his brother Josh turned up to represent Tales of a 25th-Grade Nothing, and I think I overheard Shiny saying she had posted about her and Scotto's engagement on a blog, which may have implied the existance of a sixth. If you count the now-defunct Sevilla: A Writer's Life, that makes seven. Perhaps all of this means there will be a Rashoman-style rendering of Rich's birthday available soon to those who care to learn the Modernist truth. Or maybe they'll just link to this one for an instant blog posting.

Anyway, we ate at an Italian restaurant whose name I forgot to notice down the street from their new apartment in Cobble Hill. I met Rich's old friend Carol for the first time, who informed me that his high school running buddies used to call him Chard, and that it drives Adele crazy. It had been many years since I'd seen Scotto or Shiny, whom I knew in college through Rich, and I don't think I'd seen Jimmy since my wedding, so it was very nice and reassuring for my frame of reference to know that everyone was exactly how I had imagined. In fact, when I came in, Jimmy was already turning scarlet from drinking a Mike's lemonade, just like the old days.

I ordered a Risotto con Funghi Porcini, but only after securing Jeff's approval because I knew it was kind of heavy for an August evening outdoors, but it was yummy and totally hit the spot. Adele ordered Rich a plain risotto that did not exist on the menu--it seems Rich objected to seafood, mushrooms and primavera vegetables, so she specified that she wanted it prepared like regular risotto just without Stuff. When it arrived Scotto asked him how he liked his Cheese Grits. A lot, it turned out. Our waitress overheard me describing my master's program and told me she thought that would be really interesting, describing a lecture she'd been to on the Influenza epidemic at the Natural History Museum. I love New York.

After dinner it was cake time. Adele didn't really want us to eat the cake. There had been an incident last year on Rich's birthday in which he and another party became ill after eating a cake Adele had prepared (the Vomitous Cake Incident), and she was nervous. It turned out to be delicious, but Adele felt personally cursed by it. The candles sank into the cake and were only precariously shepherded into the living room where they were promptly extinguished by the air conditioner and had to be relit on the stove. Then the icing that she didn't like spilled on her shirt. Jeff took the above picture of the cake with his nerd phone and had it posted before the cake made it to the living room. I know he also took a picture of Rich blowing out the electronic version of his candles, which stayed lit somewhat better, but I don't know where that is this morning.

Dessert was followed by video games which I studiously ignored except for the part when a giant turtle came out of the sea. Oh, and I noticed that Jimmy hadn't typed in a name for himself, so he corrected that and played the rest of the game with an arrow labeled "Sexy" pointing to his character. Rich displayed his newly acquired skills at the Spanish guitar, and I actually was really impressed. I attempted some Spanish improv in the way of lyrics, but it all quickly descended into "Tengo Una Vaca Lechera," gracias por Jeffy. Then we played Risk because, according to Scotto, we're so cool. I was holding the line against his incursion into Europe when we took pity on Adele and decided to let her go to sleep so she could catch her plane to California in the morning.

I spent the night on Jeff and Adam's air mattress in complete comfort, and am now typing on Adam's computer having helped myself to one of his sweatshirts because they have a truly impressive air conditioner here. Jeff's alarm is set for 8:34 Eastern ever morning, and since I have been waking up at 5:34 Pacific every morning, it turns out we've been waking up at the same minute. In fact I hear the pitter-patter of huge feet in the next room, so I think he's up.

I have less than 48 hours left here, so I will try to make the most of it. Stay tuned to find out what the most entails.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at August 21, 2005 7:34 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Before any gets too impressed by Banana's ability to be awake early, you should know that she is now asleep on the futon in my living room, having passed out 50 minutes into Big Night. The afore-blogged risotto (Natalie) imbroglio led to Banananapper saying that she wanted to watch it, but apparently she did not want to watch it all the way through. It is a shame though, because it's one of my favourites, and she's never seen it all.

  •   Posted by Blogger Rich at August 21, 2005 8:19 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I am impressed by Banana's blogging punctuality. I might have something up later after my orientation party. Blah.

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at August 21, 2005 8:20 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Oh, and I got Bananaphax to explain what the heck "Hostylefax" means. So now I know.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

I Don't Like my own Cooking

I have eaten out every night since Anna traveled east, a fact I'm not proud of. It's been hot here, I tell myself, but I've not really been that convincing, seeing as it's actually been under 100 degrees since my wife left. Our apartment has no breezes, of course, so it's certainly a legitimate excuse. And all I cook are large meals, like dinner for three when there's only one eating. I've run out of single-serving meals in a box, which is how I limit my calorie intake at home. The truth is this: I've never found feeding myself worth the effort of cooking a large meal.

When Anna was in New York for three months last year, I developed a series of dishes that involved frying sausage in oil and dumping it in a variety of things. My most common choice was Macaroni and Cheese, though there was also rice and egg noodles. What's not to like. After eight months of hard dieting and I can't seem to bring myself to make that again, although it was delicious. So instead I've been buying food, which is more expensive and just as bad (probably worse) for my health.

I do make decent eggs and a mean fake-bacon Carbonera and will occasionally, but only when Anna's around.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hostylefax: Make new Friends, but Keep the Old

I spent most of the day today with girlfriends of auld lang syne. I don't communicate with Debbi or Tiesha all that often, but when we get together it never matters, and we always have a terrific time.

Debbi and Tiesha could not resemble each other less, spiritually I mean. Physically it's a pretty big spread, too, though they're both short and gorgeous. Debbi is another friend from my nerd-camp days, one of the few living souls who remembers Slut Day. It is a great pity that I didn't have a blog back then because we could have posted such great stuff, including Debbi's homemade religion, Judyism. She is now a quasi-frum newlywed (I asked her how long she'd been keeping kosher and she said she started the absolute minute she got married and not a second earlier, going to a tref-y restaurant with her family the night before the wedding). She opted to clerk for a criminal court judge rather than a law firm while she waited to hear how she did on the New Jersey bar exam because she had this "shiny brand new husband" and she wanted a chance to play with him a little. We had lunch at a pizza/Chinese joint in Herald Square. Initially we couldn't find it, but we adopted Debbi's patented follow-the-payos method and enjoyed a leisurely meal while reminiscing about the old gang and our new in-laws.

Tiesha on the other hand is the only person I know who's actually experiencing the lifestyle depicted in Sex and the City. Modesty forbids my relaying the question we debated in tonight's episode, but she has a Mr. Big, of whom I take at least as dim a view as I did of the one on TV. Tiesha went to Brearley with me, so she Understands. We ate at a Cuban restaurant downtown, and as she was running late--only twenty minutes, though, which is better than she's done since my wedding--I waited at the bar, mojito in one hand, epidemiology text in the other. The bartender stared, but Tiesha stared worse. As the evening progressed the bongos got too loud and we went outside for a stroll. Next door to the restaurant was a Chess store with all kinds of novelty sets in the window and games going on inside. I wanted to take a picture of the game being played between a guy wearing a do rag and a guy wearing a yarmulke (I really do love New York) but my camera batteries weren't up to the task.

As I age I seem to jive with proportionately fewer and fewer women, socially speaking. That makes me extra grateful for the girls that were there for my first awkward years, and whom I can count on to see me through the awkward years yet to come.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hostylefax: Hump Day at the Dog Run and Other Vignettes

This morning got off to a lazyish start. I discovered two job openings; I'm sure I can't get the positions given my lack of experience with stat programming, but I'm trying for them anyway. After all, Keith was short a whole master's degree when he got hired at my last job. I talked Mom into taking me out for an early lunch at Deluxe and taking Rhoda with us to sit outside, as it's been gorgeous out ever since the thunderstorm (during which I learned a tornado touched down in Jersey). Rhoda did not acquit herself quite as well as I had envisioned; we tied her to one of the barriers separating the seating area from the sidewalk and she walked off in search of an interesting smell dragging the whole barrier behind her. Picture that episode of Martin when Gina got her head stuck in the bed frame.

After lunch I met Sarah and Lucy at the 106th St. dog run. I arrived early and was treated to a german shepherd humping a chocolate lab at quite some length without owner intervention of any kind. After he was done the shepherd's owner appeared to notice, because she quickly leashed him and ran, looking over her shoulder. Someone is going to have some beautiful accidental puppies. Sarah and Lucy and I nipped over to a Thai restaurant on 108th which didn't exist when I lived here. Lucy, needless to say, did not walk off with the seating barrier. As we ate we were approached by a man asking first for money and then for our puffed shrimp crisps; I offered him the latter but he wound up in an altercation with the manager. I had one of those moments I'm prone to where I try to have a rational conversation with someone who is obviously mentally ill. My counselling him that being angry at her wasn't going to give him any peace did not go over well, and I realized that these encounters are really not part of my life any more. There are occasionally panhandlers in Davis, but they're always clean and never aggressive. I don't know where they go to get cleaned up and fed, but someone is taking care of them. And of course there's George who tends a homemade garden on 2nd and Pole Line; he's famous. Once April and Alex were buying him a burrito and as they debated whether or not to get him cheese, the woman in line behind them interrupted to inform them "George doesn't like cheese on his burritos." But I digress.

After lunch I headed downtown to the Children's Aid Society to sit in on David's class. He was the acting lead teacher today, and he's a really really good at it. He happened to have received his evaluation this morning, and it said among other things that he had "an extraordinary gift for working with children." I agree. The kids--who were 7 or 8--were very excited to learn that David had a sister. I told them he was my little brother. "Is he little?" I asked. There was a moment of silence and then a unanimous, "Noooooooooooooooooooooooo, hehehehehehe, he's biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig!!!!" Very cute. I spent some time with a child who goes into meltdown every afternoon at 3:00 when he remembers he's going home. Normally it's David's job to give him one-on-one attention at those times, but since he was leading the class I got to fill in. It was really cool, and made me miss teaching.

I had dinner with Jeff and Meitav at Max Soha. After some discussion we concluded that there was nothing effeminate about Sangria since Hemingway used to drink it and ordered a pitcher. It seems that Meitav's having a little trouble with his roommates' sense of hygiene. When he lived with Scott, Scott was the neat one and Meitav was the messy one. Major conflicts were, like, crumbs underneath the toaster. But now Meitav's the neat one. [GROSSNESS ADVISORY: SKIP TO THE NEXT PARAGRAPH IF YOU'RE SQUEAMISH] He recently attempted to convince one of his roommates that it was time to throw out a certain bathroom rug, on the grounds that it was stained with urine through to the other side. The roommate responded that he didn't want his feet to be cold, and that if Meitav wanted to find a way to clean the rug that was fine with him, otherwise it was his property and was going to stay. That's the good roommate. The other one apparently picks his nose while sitting on the toilet, and then wipes his boogers on the bathroom door. Meitav doesn't really know how to bring that up tactfully; he's considered just cleaning them off to indicate that they guy's not fooling anyone. Jeff noted that that wasn't so much passive aggression as passive passivity.

We adjourned to the Uptown Kitchenette for dessert and stayed there a really long time. When I got home, David and my parents were finishing up an after-dinner discussion with a catholic priest friend of my mom's who's also a certified (that can't be the right term) zen master. He's really cool.

Now I have to drum up some cover letters and update my resume. Right.

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We inserted Jeff into an ad for Poison Control. Posted by Picasa

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Hostylefax: Manhattan, Westchester, Brooklyn, oh my.

My time in the city has been busy, busy, busy, and lo, half of it has flown by.

I spent Sunday with the family. Dad and I took the dogs for a walk, though we abandoned it early because it was sweltering and because the cicadas were making Rhoda tense--Rhoda's response to tension is to plant her feet, which rather interferes with ones itinerary. We had breakfast, then went off to Fairway to shop. Mom hadn't given us a list, just told us to get bell peppers and lentils and otherwise be sensible. I forgot the lentils, although I remembered to get pear chocolate gelato. Mom disapproved so strongly of our selection of groceries that when we returned she accused us of developmental delay.

I had requested supper with Gervas, and about an hour before he was due to arrive, the foul weather broke into a fantastic thunderstorm. Now, it had been months since I'd seen rain, so I grabbed one of the titanic umbrellas my parents keep around and invited David out with me to experience the storm. It was amazing, so loud we couldn't hear each other, and coming down so hard it was like the angels had super soakers. Mom thought that was cute, so she came out to experience the rain with us. "Hi kids," she greeted us. Ten seconds passed. "Alright, that's about enough for me," she said, and went inside.

Supper with Gervas was delightful. He cares for dogs as little as Fritz; Mom claims she once surprised him in he act of pointing a vegetable knife at the throat of her ex-husband's schnauzer. He pointed out that the dogs were both black, saying "They look the same. What's the point?" Mom had made us a variety of cold salads, which she instructed us should be placed on a bed of lettuce provided for that purpose. Gervas complied, allowing his bean salad and his egg salad to mingle on his one lettuce bed, but this would not stand. Mom strenuously objected, until I told her to be a little postmodern and accept the Death of the Author so that we could all eat dinner. David took a dim view of that level of discussion; he at one point broke into a conversation that was boring him to claim that V.S. Naipaul was the Reggie Miller of literature.

Monday I made my way to Westchester, only after boarding the wrong train, necessitating my being fetched from Pleasantville. I had a delicious lunch with Peggy, Ellen and Carol, during which I lifted not a finger. Peggy tells me that her Andy only passed his driving test on the fourth try, which comforts me a good deal, because Andy is both a lovable and a high-functioning person. After lunch I requested a game of Scrabble; Peggy is a renowned player and I was looking forward to being trounced by her. However, the letters didn't go her way. I got the J, the X and the Q, and had a run of freakishly good luck. Ellen played me next, and on the first word I put down was WARRENS, following which I promptly drew the J and placed it on a triple, prompting Ellen to shout out, "Hey everybody, Anna broke 100 on her second turn." I couldn't bring myself to not put down the words I'd seen, but I felt quite rude, as though I'd asked for a game with intent to show off, when really my intentions had been most humble. Even though I never have games like that and it was just some fluke thing everybody said everyone should know better than to play with me.

After lunch Peggy drove me back to the city where we met my mom and Queenie for dinner. A movie was being filmed on Claremont Avenue, allowing no parking for ten blocks. Peggy tried valiantly to park in between two Jeep-ish cars, but in the end it couldn't be done with both wheels on the pavement. Although Peggy drives much the same as Scott, without regard for life, limb or lane markings, the notion of getting a ticket while her car was standing still was off-putting. For supper we went to an Italian restaurant on 123rd and Amsterdam, where the food and the company were wonderful.

Tuesday morning Mom and I had breakfast with Gary, who had stopped by on his way home from England, were he spent the summer filling in for the pastor of Judi Dench's congregation (Don't get too excited, only her husband is Catholic). By the end of the meal he had very nearly convinced me that what Mike and I really need is to move to St. Louis. He says you can get a 2-bedroom with a park view for $400 a month, as long as you don't mind the systemic racism. I had had to bump Dave A the day before, so I made it up to him with lunch. We reviewed some of his recent poems, and when I wrote on one of them, "If I ever catch you using this level of abstraction in a title again I will pound your face," he sighed rather testily saying, "This is the kind of criticism I could have used before I submitted this for publication." It turns out Dave works across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral, so I nipped into the gift shop after lunch for a St. Christopher visor clip--not as nice as the one the Religious Jewelry Store stiffed me on, but it did have the virgin too for good measure. I also picked up a rosary for the plane ride home.

Supper was at Jeff's place in Cobble Hill with Eugene, and Jeff's roommate Adam. If we had had our act together a little more on Saturday night, we could have accompanied Eugene to an art show at which ice cream tubs full of paint were being shot at a concrete wall with a paint by numbers scheme drawn on it. We heard it second hand instead. Eugene is learning welding in his spare time, and told us all about this organization that dispenses grants only to people whose art has been censored or who have been investigated for terrorism. Jeff made pesto, though he was distressed by the results of his gnocchi, which liquefied. After much wheedling he allowed us to observe the use of his immersion blender, which was pretty cool. We ate on the balcony outside, which was even cooler, and tried to take pictures of the girl across the way who was eating dinner in a towel. I discovered that a crucial piece of gossip had been witheld from me: our old floormate Dan has become a father with the help of his girl Irina. Those of you who knew them understand why I slapped Eugene for keeping this from me for however many months.

Now you are up to date. More as opportunity permits.

2 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at August 18, 2005 6:18 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • 123rd and Amsterdam? Was that also Max Soha? Why would anyone go there to eat at a different Italian restaurant?

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 18, 2005 6:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Nope, it was Sezz Medi. They also have delicious food and my mom enjoys flirting with the owner, who looks like a hot Peter Lorre.

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Gervas and Trixie. I swear, I will eventually get around to editing photos. Posted by Picasa

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Eugene has trouble holding his eyes open for pictures when he's been drinking. That also accounts for his pinkish hue. Posted by Picasa

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Braaaaiins! Well, gnocchi really. Posted by Picasa

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  •   Posted by Blogger Jeff'y at August 18, 2005 6:13 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Harrrumph. I should have made you take a picture of the replacement pasta, which was perfectly lovely, to balance your coverage.

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 18, 2005 6:18 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • The replacement pasta was absolutely wonderful, and as I said at the time, I am happy that the gnocchi liquefied because I can't imagine dinner could have been more delicious than it was. I just happen to feel that gnocchi are inherently funny.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at August 18, 2005 3:13 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Did the gnocchi commit suicide, or were they murdered?

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 18, 2005 8:05 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Definitely suicide.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Anna's away, so I'm Watching a lot of Television

I felt sluggish all day because I stayed up until 1 a.m. watching reruns of the West Wing. Now I'm on to Entourage on HBO, which I like because I'm as much of a star-fucker as anyone in the world. I seem to be holding the line on televised poker, but it's early in the week yet, and my defenses could be weakened later from a lack of vegetables.

Luckily, tomorrow I'm having dinner with the Ligetis so perhaps I'll actually pull up the blinds and not watch television deep into the night.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

The Peace Mom

Cindy Sheehan, the woman camped outside the President's ranch in Texas, is from Vacaville, which is two towns over along the freeway. She has a fairly big following here because this is a fairly liberal town. I like what she's doing, since anything that removes a news cycle from White House control makes it harder for the conservatives in Congress to actually do anything horrible. At least that's what I'm hoping. My fear is that every news cycle dominated by Cindy Sheehan provides ample cover for the conservatives in Congress to accomplish horrible things.

Someone asked me what I thought about this story and this issue. I didn't have much of an answer for that then, which was fine because I had to watch a baseball game. But I've stopped trying to talk about the war because every discussion inevitably turns into an argument about President Bush. Isn't it demeaning to the troops to answer a question about the future of the Iraq policy with a full-throated defense of the President or an attack on the questioner? What the Sheehan saga really represents is the personalization of the military. In an era when everyone has a blog and journalism tries to tell individual stories as representative of broad social trends, most people see the army as a collection of sons and daughters who joined up for hundreds of different reasons. I think this is a largely positive development. But I imagine the President can't see it that way. If the President truly supports the mission, believing in it enough to continue to commit American troops and money, why should we actually expect him to feel bad about the death of an individual soldier?

I don't know anyone who is fighting in Iraq. And I don't actually know anyone who knows anyone fighting in Iraq. I imagine those people don't want to hear that the argument that the mission was a mistake and that those who had died did so in a less-than-necessary war. Describing the war as "dollar auction" would probably strike those people as offensive considering the sacrifice their loved one made. I understand that reaction. But the President doesn't get to hide behind that when his war strategy is questioned. I like that Bush looks weak when he uses a motorcade to speed past a grieving mother. It's a cheap political point, which I'm ashamed to admit I enjoy.

What we're learning is that if you sell a war entirely using public relations tactics, and it doesn't go well, you don't have a wellspring of principle to fall back on. So you've got the WMD, the spreading of democracy and completing the mission for the sake of our troops, but you don't really have a framework in which the military is operating. I've given up on straight answers. What I want is a little intellectual rigor, some honest argument deconstruction. Is that too much to ask for? I can't tell.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hostylefax: New York

Apologies for the lull in posting. Friday was my last day at work, and six hours later I hopped the red-eye to JFK. Before flying I invited April and Alex out for dinner, the plan being to get me drunk enough to fall asleep on the overnight flight. That part of the plan backfired, though, because by the time they went home to Sac I was exhausted and immediately took a nap. In short, I was alert as hell all night. Fortunately the middle seat in my row was unoccupied, so I put my feet up and did my best, despite the small child who whinged and howled all the way from Minnesota.

My parents picked me up from the airport with Ponto in the car. It was important that I have a chance to get to know him without Rhoda present, because she had been rather territorial of David when he came home from college and we weren't sure what to expect. The weather was foul beyond imagining, the type of 100-degree 80% humidity day on which I imagine the miasma theory of disease was born. We had a quick breakfast and then I ran off to say hello/goodbye to Ryan, who was ironically flying to California that afternoon.

When I arrived, Sarah was fixing us pancakes made with cottage cheese and lavender. We ate them anyway, and they were good. I got to meet Lucy the Labradoodle for the first time, though she was not particularly interested in me, and I helped Ryan pack primarily by pointing my toe at things and making helpful suggestions like, "Maybe you only need to take one volume of Harry Potter camping." He ran off to catch his plane, while Sarah and I took Lucy for a walk in the incredibly foul air. I had arranged with Sarah ahead of time that I would nip around the corner to my mom's gym for a bit at 1:00, where she had finegled me a week-long pass. So when Jeff phoned and asked if he could come play with us, he understood that he was just going to have to wait because I had been on a red-eye and felt gross. Mom's gym is very, very nice--the shower drains are made by Fiat.

Mom had to meet someone soon after our workout, so she volunteered to take my dirty clothes back with her and throw them in the hamper. I gratefully accepted, only when I got out of the shower I realized I had given her the sneakers I was wearing when I walked in the door, and my other shoes were back at Sarah's. I wrapped plastic bags around my feet and phoned Sarah, sheepishly asking if she would care to meet me at Equinox with a pair of shoes. That was a funny coincidence, because Sarah had just been thinking about my bare feet. She had come up with a recipe for home pedicures and she wanted to try it out. She complied with my request and the four of us ran some errands. Sarah and Lucy went to Petco to by a mint-flavored ball for Lucy's breath and a hair clipper which the cashier failed to ring up properly causing Sarah about 40 minutes of ethical quandary. Meanwhile Jeff and I went to a deli and purchased some things like grape leaves, manchego and tortilla chips that altogether cost more than diner meals for the three of us would have, this being the Upper West Side.

During lunch, Sarah tried unsuccessfully to convince Jeff of the pleasures of the homemade pedicure. Sarah had whipped together a concoction involving sugar, more lavender and some aloe. As we were eating she had a further brainwave, "Hey, don't throw out your olive pits," she said, "We can use them as exfoliants." She also revealed to us her latest trick for home-made bath products. "While you're in the bath," she explained,"You eat eda mame, and when you're done you float the shells in your bathwater." We looked at her blankly. "It's kind of like a soy bath, which is good for your skin," she elaborated. "It's kind of like bathing in your own leftovers," Jeff replied.

Then it was pedicure time. Sarah lent me a pair of sweats, and as we sat on the rim of the bathtub we rubbed our legs with olive oil in the ancient Greek style, and then attempted to exfoliate with the pits that Jeff had meticulously divested of olive meat before spitting them into our pedicure dish. The exfoliation was not a great success, but the olive oil felt nice. "You're missing a great pedi-cuuure," Sarah called out to Jeff in the living room. "That's intention-aaal," he called back, before returning to his issue of Real Simple. Next came the sugar concoction, and Sarah had done an excellent job on this one; it really felt like the real thing. The sugar, being granular, turned out to exfoliate better than the olive pits, too. We rinsed, then applied peppermint foot lotion and a variety of sprays. At this point, Lucy developed a sudden interest in me, sniffing around my olive- and sugar-scented calves as we painted our nails.

Mike had phoned me with the news that Queenie was in New York, too, so we made plans for drinks back at my parents' place. The four of us agreed to a cab ride, during which Lucy refused to move out of the space directly under my knees. Rhoda and Ponto barked intimidatingly when Lucy came in the door, so Mom shut them up in the bedroom and allowed Lucy the run of the apartment. "Momm!!!" they whined, "There's another dog in here, I'm telling you. Another dog!" The noise was rather distracting, so a little after Queenie and her lawyer friend arrived, Lucy was shut up in my bedroom (Sarah was concerned about leaving her alone, so she stayed in my room with her and read Vogue) and the Gordon-Cash dogs were allowed to roam free. Eventually we tried for a diplomatic solution, and the hosts behaved themselves, but Lucy growled anxiously until we left.

Queenie, it turns out, has just settled with DuPont on behalf of a bunch of workers who were poisoned by exposure to teflon. It turned out that her lawyer friend was an ex-comp lit scholar, so she, Sarah and my mom discussed why it was that post-modernists think they are the last living Marxists. At this point my dad whispered a request to switch seats with me, and leaned over to Jeff to say, "I can't understand a fucking word they're saying. Let's talk about something else." I thought for a moment he was going to ask Jeff to explain to him what the Internet was for the fourth time or so, but they talked about Jeff's job instead.

The elders went off to dinner with some other people, and the younguns headed out to a bluegrass concert. We didn't make it though, because we realized it was late and humid out. I was planning to meet up with David, only my cell phone did that thing it does where it dies unexpectedly and then goes into a perpetual vibration until the battery is removed. So instead we went back to Sarah's, by way of Food Emporium. Those of you who know Jeff understand the significance of the Food Emporium jingle in our lives, but the store itself proved rather disappointing. The line "someone's got my eye for quality," was particularly brazen, I now feel. Jeff is not someone who takes food quality lightly, so while I got substandard vegetables to make into my salad, he opted for steak. He fixed it with some sauteed onions and squash; Sarah ate the steak not the salad.

Sometime after dinner I began to pass out on Sarah's couch and she sent me home. David was coming in just as I was. "I want to go to bed right now," he said. "Me too," I answered. "Why are you so tired?" He explained that he had been up the night before composing songs. He sang me some of the better ones, including "If You Live in Mali, You'll Never Get Famous" and "10 on the Gay Chart." David and I in fact stayed up another hour or so catching up. If I'm tempted to post on What's in David's Vocabulary I will lead with "Maria Full of _____," which apparently can be used anywhere. For instance, when his cell rang he interrupted me with one finger raised. "Maria full of telephone call," he explained.

I went to bed at midnight.

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Trixie and the dogs, Rhoda (left) and Ponto Posted by Picasa

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Ryan and Sarah make sad faces as he waits for the elevator that will take him to the airport. Lucy did not cooperate for this photo, but the top of her rump may be seen between them. Posted by Picasa

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Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Yenta Gene Proves Dominant

Some of you may remember my coworker F, from when he went on vacation at the same time as my boss and left me on the Sports Desk all by myself. Well sometime in the coming week, he'll have a date with Anna's soon-to-be replacement at her soon-to-be-former job.

How did this happen?

Well the replacement, whom we will call Nerisa, came into the office today complaining about her horrid date the previous night. "Where did you meet him," Anna asked.
"In a club," Nerisa said.
"Ooo, that's always a real grab bag."
"Yeah, but where are you going to meet people?" Nerisa asked.

Apparently, Anna's answer was "at the desk next to my husband."

I received an e-mail. "Would F be interested in going out with Nerisa?"

I am slightly wary of setting up friends, but F was fairly open about being broken up with his most recent girlfriend and also about being interested in having sex again. And, Anna points out, she's not sure F is actually my friend.

So our conversation went something like this:

"So, Anna's been training the person who is replacing her, and thought you two might get along, so if you're interested, I'll have Anna get in touch with you."
"What do you know about her?" F asked.
"All I know is that she's 6-3," I said.
"That's never a problem," F said.

So just like that a fix-up is born. Hopefully they'll get together and have lots of really tall babies. Or not. We'll keep you posted.

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True Story

This morning I admonished Michael that for people who live in apartments, 7:00 am was not an appropriate hour at which to be shouting about the underrepresentation of skunks in the entertainment industry.

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Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Score: Pedestrians-1, Anna-0

So, today I failed my first driving test. While this is not exactly cheerful news, it does represent improvement in that I took the test. In fact, before my automatic fail due to crossing an intersection with a truck in it, I was doing very well indeed. So if I can just keep from doing anything moronic on my next test...

Personally I blame the Religious Jewelry Store. Driving brings out the god fearin' in me like no other experience, so after a particularly harrowing practice session during which I almost killed No-Vegetables Adam three times, I ordered myself a St. Christopher visor clip. For those who were raised in less literal traditions, St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers, and I wanted his symbol on my car for the protection of myself and everyone on the road. The box arrived sans medal, and Mssrs. Religious Jewelry Store are refusing to return my email. Besides the fact that I've grown nervous now about driving without St. Christopher's special protection, being at odds with purveyors of supernatural totems is not a spot where I'm happy to find myself. How are you supposed to take someone to small claims court who's got the jump on you by about 40 novenas, all of which were probably recited in the name of giving your attorney angina?

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Monday, August 08, 2005

Talking to Kids about Newspapering

So, everyone in the newsroom decided to take vacation/maternity leave/important assignments at the same time today. That meant there was an "Oh Shit" moment at about 8 this morning when it was discovered that kids from some day camp were coming for a tour of the newspaper and that some poor sucker was going to have to talk to them for 5 minutes about what exactly happens in a newsroom. The skeleton crew in the office passed the job around like a hot potato.

I accepted it because I fancy myself a man of the people, someone committed to demystifying the news process. Unfortunately, Monday is my layout day. That means I'm out of bed by 5:30 and staring at a computer for six hours straight. This is not conducive to being witty enough for fifth graders.

My speech went something like this: This is the newsroom, where the reporters sit. Each of us is an expert in a different area. Mine is sports. Others do city government and the environment. To find news we talk to people who are connected to our assignment and turn what they tell us into stories. Any questions?

Kid: Do you cover the Giants?
Me: No.
Same Kid: If you covered a really boring game, would you write it like it was interesting? Y'know, lie?
Me: No comment. Hey, why don't you see what's going on in the composing department?

By the way, if you run blogger's spell check on "newsroom," it suggests "mushroom."

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Sunday, August 07, 2005

Our Hike in the Sierras

Mike at Lake Downey. How gorgeous is this? Posted by Picasa

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Alex and April about halfway up the trail. They say we're good to hike with because when things got rough we started a sing-along instead of whining. Posted by Picasa

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Saturday, August 06, 2005

If you Think this is Bad, Wait for my Midlife Crisis

Any day now I will officially become a loser. I'm not at all sure that day didn't pass unremarked some time ago. Really, I'm not just saying this because it's 10:00 on a Saturday night and I'm hanging out with my blog. I'm going to be 25 in about two months, and you know what that means.

Before our over-30 readership takes umbrage, let me explain myself. The point isn't that I'm getting old, it's that I'm about to enter a phase of my life destined to be marked by poseurish lunacy. I've been making fun of loser 25-year-olds my whole life. It's pretty obvious when you're a teenager in Manhattan that ones late twenties are the true "awkward years." It's a regular feature of New York adolescence to spend a certain amount of time with people ten years your senior who, being from someplace outside New York, hang around in the exact same bars you do because they haven't figured out yet that the only reason to go there is lax carding. There's this whole class of late-twentysomethings reclaiming their childhoods every Friday night starting at happy hour because they still can't quite believe their good fortune at being able to drink legally and because they know that 30 is looming at which point this behavior will actually be sad.

I hate these people. I can't decide which are worse. The working kids with the impractical shoes, the business cards and the highlights who hang around trendy bars dropping names to screen potential dates for an acceptable level of hip? The grad students who come sucking around undergraduate bars dressed like Eurotrash who have fallen on hard times and casually referring to The Tao of Physics? It's too, too depressing. My old plan of skipping directly from 24 to 30 doesn't appear to be working very well. That's about to be me.

For a while I thought maybe being married would save me, but if anything I think I'm going to be worse. For one thing, my California friends are like ALL married, and some of them are rapidly generating offspring. We're not even cool enough to run around like self-conscious capri-pant-wearing speed freaks. We sit around studying them, fixing them up on hellish dates and searching our souls for signs of envy. That's the saddest thing I've ever heard.

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Friday, August 05, 2005


Have you ever noticed that Michael is an anagram for lechaim? My name is a palindrome, but that's pretty darn cool, too. His full name is an anagram for "Wheel rims rail mice."

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  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at August 06, 2005 1:20 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I fought with myself over using this anagram in a cryptic puzzle I was writing once, but gave in to my inner Leo Rosten, who pointed out that the standard transliteration of the Hebrew toast is "L'chaim" with no "e." Oh well. By the way, someone's name, as now styled, is an anagram of "near Marin" -- is she? That's better, I suppose, than this anagram of her name as previously styled: "an ashcan."

  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 06, 2005 9:49 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Crikey, maybe that was why I insisted on using my middle name. And yes, I am pretty near Marin. I will have to see what happens if you add in Gordon-Cash, my new middle name.

    What I like about "je negresse" is how I had to go find a french dictionary just to make sure there wasn't a verb "negresser." There was a Jennifer in Scott's high school french class who had to be called Genevieve, and she was prone to acting out, so when the teacher would get exasperated and shout "Ge-ne-vi-eve!" Scott would chime in "pas!"

    I am so happy, by the way, that notre belle negresse favored us with a comment. More, please.

  •   Posted by Blogger Laura at August 07, 2005 10:23 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Jess discovered that an anagram for my name is "Shit! A pleasurable Nazi!"

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Maybe your Office is next to a Starbucks

This afternoon No-Vegetables Adam and I decided to check out the Raptor Center. Next door to our building is the place where the vet school studies birds of prey, and we'd never seen it. It was really cool. Only two pictures are really blogworthy, but among those I didn't include are a giant Banana Spider (cue Jeffy) and a Golden Eagle protecting a bunch of dead mice.

Adam in front of the half-cleaned up superfund site behind the building where we work. Everything under the white plastic is radioactive. Basically. Posted by Picasa

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A bald eagle named Harriet. It turns out they're all drumstick. Adam says it's weird how it looks nothing like the one on a quarter. Posted by Picasa

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Thursday, August 04, 2005

FFH acts impractically

Our neighbors with the children have found a house in wine country and are moving out. This is sad news.

They are leaving behind a completely modern two-bedroom apartment right here in McNeil Manor. And now it's going to be ours. This is us making lemonade out of lemons.

The apartment even has a charming backstory. Many years ago it belonged to members of the sorority that was featured in the first season of MTV's "Sorority Life." The sisters managed to torch the place, meaning that it has been completely rebuilt. There's not much mold, the walls have a fresh coat of paint and it even has cross breezes. This could revolutionize summer. If not, it's air conditioning unit it higher up, so we might actually be able to cool down the apartment.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Pics from our Visit from Cool Aunt Ellen (as opposed to Big Dumb Ellen)

Mike and Ellen (Mike is wearing a ribbon from a wedding gift). Posted by Picasa

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Massage therapists never go on vacation. Mike hurt his back at the gym and Ellen, like the good Aunt she is, fixed the problem using something I think was called "passive stretch." Mike said he was having memories of being in the womb. Some of you might say that I displayed a lack of compassion by sneaking up on them and snapping this photo, but those people obviously have no idea how therapeutic laughing your ass off in this position can be. Posted by Picasa

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  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at August 04, 2005 5:43 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Fritz confesses to not connecting with who "Ellen" was in earlier posts.

    Regarding Ellen's craft, Fritz was once on the receiving end. After being asked to define pain between 1 and 10, Fritz reached a higher number. "I have to hurt you in order to help you."

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Hooky for Sophisticates

Among the things Ellen wanted to do while she was in Northern California was visit a restaurant and bakery she saw featured on a public-television cooking series. She remembered the name of the chef and that the city started with an "E." The obligatory Google search yielded the fact that said chef lived in "St. Helena, California."

"Oh, I know that place," I said. Fritz, Queenie, Trixie and Ricardo had taken us there for an unsatifactory lunch on the way to massages and wine tasting on the day after Christmas.

"That's not right," Ellen said. "It starts with an 'E.' "

"You know," Anna said this morning when informed of the dilemma, "that it's pronounced Saint El-EENA, don't you?"

"No," I admitted sheepishly.

So after an emergency stop for eggs and cheese on a bagel, we hit the road. We also didn't have a map, so I was convinced that we would end up somewhere in Ukiah, out of gas and without cell phone service, left to fend for ourselves among the type of people who hate "Fer-in-ners." And yes, I dropped Ukiah in there because it's a piece of California geography that I don't expect any of you to know. And no, I don't know for sure that it's a wholly intolerant place. The ride is along Highway 128, which winds around a couple of lakes. It's scenic, but it also makes me a little sick.

Somehow I managed not to get lost and we arrived at half past 10, parking near the vendor of that unsatisfactory lunch from late 2004. St. Helena is really beautiful when its not raining. The architecture downtown looks like it was plucked out of the 1940s and some of the shops are actually too cute for words. Ellen purchased FFH a new cutting board, herself used books to go with a $6 Ann Taylor dress from a thrift store, and the two of us a delicious meal at Tra De Vigne, the restaurant she saw on the cooking show. We also checked out the housing prices in the area, learning that just about everything in town costs multiple millions. So much for Napa Valley fantasy hour.

Then we beat a hasty retreat to Davis because I actually had to go into the office to do some work.

3 Comment(s):

  •   Posted by Anonymous Anonymous at August 02, 2005 7:27 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Excellent blog! I give it an A+ with a Gold Star!! I'll be creating a blog on nintendo revolution soon, in the meantime if you want to review my website on nintendo revolution uncensored, i'd really appreciate it!

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at August 03, 2005 4:25 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • I believe Holly Near came from Ukiah. One song is about swimming in a irrigation ditch on her father's farm.

  •   Posted by Blogger BrooklynDodger at August 03, 2005 4:21 PM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • Fritz also notes that the "unsatisfactory lunch" included some pretty decent Mexican food and a few microbrews, for those who appreciate beer. It was in a bar - open at the time of arrival in the rain. And, had we read the guidebook - which we didn't - we would have found it listed.

    Vegetarian no fish and low carb are sometimes hard to reconcile; don't look for Atkins in a Mexican restaurant.

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Monday, August 01, 2005

My New Blue Shirt

Ellen (no nom de blog yet) is visiting, so we may be out of our routine a bit.

In preparation we did some cleaning, including cleaning out the coat closet. Our closet was full of dust, old bags and jackets that had fallen down among these. Anna, quite rightly and since we are flush with laundry quarters, decided that the few clothes that had been dirtied since Friday should be washed. Apparently one of the blue jackets was not used to being washed and bled all over the place.

For me the fallout wasn't so bad. Most of my clothes are blue anyway so there was no discernable change. I did have a gray shirt that is now sort of a cobalt blue, which makes it look better. Anna saw one of her favorite light blue shirts become two-toned, which was not good news. She seems to be taking it well, however.

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  •   Posted by Blogger Anna at August 02, 2005 8:41 AM | Permanent Link to this Comment
  • It's hardly cobalt. It's heather blue, and I think it is an improvement. And that tomato-colored shirt is now a sophisticated maroon, very trendy.

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