Monday, December 8, 2008

Indications that I am through being cool

Ed. note: A tip of the hat to the eternally swingin' Mr. Snevets for the inspiration.

Believe it or not, I used to be kind of... hip. I mean, I did college radio back when it meant something. I had six piercings in my ears (the 1987 equivalent of a tramp stamp). I went to illegal loft parties, wrote for an indie music zine in London and lived in Park Slope when it was still sort of edgy. Now, however, as I slide into my fifth decade on the planet, I've become decidedly OK, let's just admit it lame. The evidence:

1. I no longer pretend to like Sonic Youth. Sure, I've seen them half a dozen times, and in college I had a gigantic Sister poster above my dorm-room twin bed. But you know what? They're incredibly self-indulgent and I don't care for Kim's voice.

2. I use a 27-year-old musical group as a benchmark for what's cool. Mr. SZ suggests band-of-the-moment Animal Collective might be a better indicator of hipness. "You'd definitely hate them," he assures me.

3. I will go to shows only on weekends and/or if there's a place to sit. No more Tuesday night gigs at Irving Plaza for me. I'm too short to see the stage and I hate feeling exhausted the next day. Also: I use earplugs.

4. I wore pearls to work today. Really. I thought they looked good.

5. I have admitted in a public forum that I like ABBA. (More than once, evidently.)

6. I crochet. I knit, too, but crocheting sounds more wack.

7. I continue to use slang terms from the 1980s (like "wack"). When I want to be more trendy I say things like "bling" and "getting up in my grill."

8. I have no desire to live in or really, even go to Williamsburg.

9. I referenced a 1981 Devo song in the title of this post.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Movies I have slept through

If I may brag, I am an excellent napper. In fact, I'm practically narcoleptic, and really, how cool is that? Unfortunately, the urge to snooze occasionally strikes in the movie theater, after I've forked over $11.50 to be entertained. Here are some of the movies I've "watched" through closed eyelids:

1. Gladiator.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking: "You fell asleep during an action flick (of sorts)?" Damn right I did. And even better -- I deliberately dozed off because the movie was so freakin' boring. I figured, correctly, that it would be over faster if I took a nap.

2. Man on Wire. OK, this one is a little weird, because I was actually tense the whole time. Even though I knew Philippe Petit was gonna make it across that tightrope between the Twin Towers, I still had sweaty palms. Maybe I fell asleep as a defense mechanism. That, or the fact that a lot of it was in black and white... with subtitles.

3. The Triplets of Belleville.
In my defense, I saw this on New Year's Day after having had very little sleep. As I recall, it was a very enjoyable nap.

4. The Winslow Boy.
I think I fell asleep even before the opening credits of this film. Anyone know what it was about?

5. Vertigo. Luckily, I'd seen this one a few times before at home, because I slept through at least 20 minutes of important plot development.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

My favorite fake curse words

1. Freakin'.
Yeah, you already knew this one because I use it in every freakin' blog post. I much prefer it to frickin'. Friggin' is too dirty for me.

2. Dang.
This word really captures a sense of astonishment. Say it with me: "Dang!" Try bobbing your head from side to side as you do. Wasn't that fun?

3. Shoot.
In the edited-for-TV version of The Blues Brothers, Aretha Franklin's character says, "SHEE-oot," drawing it out as one would the word it replaced. Mr. SZ and I have been saying it to each other for months and cracking ourselves up every single time. Ah, it's good to be easily amused.

4. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. OK, I don't actually use this phrase myself, but I have vivid memories of my mom saying it when I was a kid -- usually over something I did. Apparently it doesn't count as taking the Lord's name in vain if you add his parents to the end. (For more blasphemy, please see one of my favorite lists ever.)

5. A-hole. Tom Cruise called Guido the Killer Pimp this in Risky Business. I've enjoyed using it ever since.

As a special added bonus, here's my least favorite fake curse:

Oh my heck. Seriously, WTF? I first heard this come out of the mouth of a Mormon Survivor contestant. Is it an LDS thing? No one says, "Oh my hell" (at least, not around me), so what's with the "heck?"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Special Guest Blog: My most uncomfortable, inappropriate or otherwise ill-advised Halloween costumes.

Ed. note: today's special holiday-themed post comes from the lovely Meaghan, who produces the excellent blog
Mama's Cup.

1. Tinkerbell. I was 4 years old. A day or two before Halloween, I was brutalized at my nursery school (this is the subject for another blog -- suffice it to say that some kids bullied me and I ended up with a broken wrist). Upon returning home with a heavy, plaster cast on my arm, I proceeded to try to saw it off with a butter knife, while I emoted intensely. "I can NOT be Tinkerbell with THIS on my wrist," I believe is what I am still quoted as saying. Upon inspection of photos from this particularly nightmarish Halloween, my brother recently commented that my plastic Tinkerbell sweat mask was actually a bit garish. So much so, that he felt it resembled something more like a "Kabuki Tinkerbell."

2. A Saudi. This has to be the most inappropriate costume I've ever worn. Yes, I dressed as a "Saudi," though I don't think I looked even half as convincing as Peter O'Toole. I had a pillow case on my head, secured by one of my mom's jazzercise headbands. I wore bright yellow, mirrored sunglasses, a bathrobe (I'm not kidding) and drew on a mustache with my mom's eyeliner. Somehow, I'd really like to blame the whole affair on my mother. My mother or Susanna Hoffs, because this was 1986 and "Walk Like an Egyptian" was all over MTV. In my defense, I didn't know it was offensive.

3. A mime. This WAS my mom's idea, that much I know for sure. I was 10 years old and she had me doing that "walking against the wind" shtick. I will not do this to my child.

4. Cleopatra, mummified. This was an awesome costume. I liked it so much I did it twice. It was, however, extremely uncomfortable. From the neck up, I did traditional Cleopatra (black wig, heavy eye make up, gold snake on my head). From the neck down, I wrapped myself in gauze. A lot of gauze. I bought medical gauze in bulk, dyed it with tea in my kitchen sink and wound it around and around and around my body. The effect at the beginning of the night was pretty awesome. By the end of the evening, however, both times that I wore it, I ended up needing to borrow someone's coat because I was unraveling at an alarming rate. Going to the bathroom was also a chore in this get up. I covered some white spandex shorts with gauze to facilitate using the facilities, but pulling the spandex down contributed to my overall unraveling, so both times I ended up standing around trying to "hold it."

5. The gold chick in Goldfinger. This was certainly ill-advised. I don't have any earthly idea what prompted me to do this. I was probably trying to impress a guy. I wore a gold bikini and painted myself gold. I found this spray at a Halloween store. On the box, in English, it said it was for hair. But in French, it said for hair or skin. So I bought a bunch and covered myself. It smelled so bad; I had to air out my dorm room for days. It was also quite possibly toxic. I spent the better part of the evening sick and in the shower, trying to get the gold paint off. (The sickness might have been exacerbated by the fact that I spent the first part of the evening at a college kegger.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Things that continue to baffle me, Part Deux

1. Napoleon Dynamite
(sorry, Andy). I laughed only at the tater tots scene, and that's because tater tots are inherently hilarious. People tell me it's this generation's Sixteen Candles, but dammit, for all its political incorrectness, Sixteen Candles was actually funny. I've also heard that I have to watch Napoleon multiple times to appreciate it (life's too short); that I should get high and watch it (why not just rent Nice Dreams?); and that I should watch it with someone who loves it (sadly, not many of my friends are 15 years old).

2. The purported hotness of Brad Pitt. Angelina, I totally get. But Brad? Sure, I loved him in Twelve Monkeys, but I never found him particularly attractive.

3. Dancing with the Stars.
Why is this show a hit? It's creepy. I turned it on once and saw Marie Osmond dressed up like some sort of demented doll. I hope one day I will be able to stop shuddering.

4. The accolades for The Kite Runner.
"You've got to read this book," everyone told me. So I did. I hate to sound unsympathetic to the Afghan people, but the plot was almost as contrived as an episode of Scooby-Doo. (Let me know if you want spoilers; I'll happily e-mail 'em to you.)

5. Superheroes. Maybe it's a boy thing. I just don't understand why they all have to get their own movies.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Special Guest Blog: Movies I have inexplicably seen more than 10 times

Ed note: here's a very special guest blog from your friend and mine, Reyna.

There are movies that I have seen two or three or even five times, but more than 10 deserves its own category.

1. Grease. Now if you’ve seen this movie once, you’ve probably seen it more than 10 times. I once estimated that I saw it about 20 times actually. No need to explain why. This is the only movie that I saw in a theater and then left, only to turn right back around and see it again.

2. When Harry Met Sally… This definitely falls into the inexplicable category. It’s not a great movie, in fact it might be called annoying at best (and I always cringe during that deli scene) and in many ways it’s also alarmingly dated. But. If it is on anywhere I cannot help watching the whole thing. Billy Crystal should be awful in this movie, but he’s not so bad. Still, I can offer no real explanation.

3. A Clockwork Orange. I will never forget the first time I discovered this video hidden in the top drawer of my parents’ dresser. The minute I heard that haunting music and Malcolm McDowell’s voice, I was hooked. The fact that it is chock full of violence and rape makes it perhaps a questionable choice for a 16-year-old, but damn, it’s a good movie.

4. Rude Boy.
What’s not to like about a quasi-documentary of the Clash? Except that it has no real story and is mostly concert footage. But if you’re a girl of a certain age there is nothing better than a young Joe Strummer. Sigh.

5. The Big Chill.
Again, I can’t explain. It’s pretty dated and implausible in parts and yet, it’s kind of funny and likeable too. Can I help it that I bought the soundtrack too?

6. Harold and Maude. The plot – a love story between a 20-year-old boy and an 80-year-old woman – sounds perhaps unappealing, but this movie is nothing less than perfect. Though it is so much a product of its time (early 70s), there is nothing at all dated about it. I first saw this movie in the tenth grade in my friend Hilary’s dining room and it damn near changed my life. If you know any tenth graders, please direct them to this movie.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

1. NPR.
When the news of the day is grim, it's nice to have it delivered by Carl Kasell. I'm totally addicted to this stuff. I've been known to hum the All Things Considered theme around the house, and the words "From WHYY in Philadelphia, this is Fresh Air" give me a shiver every time. Also, I have a crush on Ira Glass. (Don't tell anyone.

2. Public libraries. Why buy books when you can get 'em for free?

3. Pizza. It's the main reason I continue to live in New York. Add Grimaldi's anchovy pie to my list of death-row meals.

4. Dogs. Whenever I feel really bummed, I visualize a bunch of puppies running around. Try it sometime.

5. 30 Rock. It's coming back on Oct. 30, baby! To quote the great Tracy Jordan, I love this show so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Songs that make me cringe

1. "Come Together." "Hold you in his armchair you can feel his disease?" Um, disgusting. I could do without the "joo-joo eyeball" and "toe jam football," too, whatever those are. Can we blame this one on Yoko? I think we can.

2. "Mony Mony."
The song itself is inoffensive, but when I hear it I can't help picturing a bunch of drunk college guys yelling... oh, you know what they yell.

3. "I Wanna Sex You Up" / "I Want Your Sex."
I'm pretty sure these songs use the word "sex" inappropriately.

4. "Woolly Bully."
I like novelty songs as much as anyone (OK, possibly more than anyone), but this one is just dumb. Runner-up in this category: "Yummy Yummy Yummy."

5. "Radio Ga Ga."
I hate baby talk.

6. "Lovin' Touchin' Squeezin'."
Many Journey songs are embarrassing. This is the most mortifying of all.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Girl things I am bad at

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy being a girl. Well, most of the time. But I really suck at some of the things that seem to be instinctive to the rest of my gender. Such as:

1. Doing my hair. No matter how hard I try, the right side always ends up in this ridiculous Batgirl-esque flip. It wouldn't be so bad if both sides did this, but no.

2. Painting my nails. I am physically incapable of doing this. I either end up with a gloppy mess or I miss covering half the nail. Luckily the nice Korean ladies up the street charge, like, $20 for a mani-pedi. Which I get only in the summer when my toes will be on display.

3. Carrying a purse. When I hear women say things like, "Oh, no! I left my wallet in my other purse," I'm baffled. I own exactly one bag (and I call it just that: a bag. Purse is a word I don't care for). It's starting to fall apart; when that happens, I'll buy another one and use it until it disintegrates.

4. Walking in heels. I want to wear pretty shoes. I really do. But if the heel is higher than two inches, I might as well be attempting to walk on stilts. So I stick with flats, wedges or chunky heels. Maybe it's part of being a librarian.

5. Accessorizing. I've worn the same earrings every day for a year. I think that says it all.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The soundtrack of my life

If I'd ever actually read Proust, I'd describe these as Proustian flashbacks. Here's a list of certain songs that, whenever I hear them, take me back to a point in my life when they were playing.

1. "Blister in the Sun," Violent Femmes.
I'm dancing in a dorm room in my freshman year. (Given the amount of grain alcohol I'd consumed, I technically should not be able to remember this.)

2. "Electric Avenue," Eddy Grant. I'm throwing up after riding the Caterpillar at Rye Playland.

3. "There is a Light That Never Goes Out," The Smiths.
I'm 18 and driving home from a kiddie new-wave club in Connecticut in my brother's powder blue Chevette. Good times.

4. "Waterloo Sunset," The Kinks.
I'm wearing a Walkman, standing on a bridge and staring at the dirty old river in... Binghamton. (Drama queen!)

5. "Do You Realize?," Flaming Lips.
I'm looking at the most amazing sunset ever in Montana, feeling vindicated for a map-reading error that took us two hours out of our way.

6. "You're So Great," Blur.
I'm flying Virgin Atlantic to London, thinking that this song describes the man I just married. Except for maybe the "sad, drunk and poorly" part.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Special Guest Blog: Signs of likely douchebaggery

Ed. note: today's extra-special guest blogger is Mr. Snevets.

1. Oakley sunglasses (or any orange-tinted sunglasses)

2. Sleeveless shirts

3. Ponytails on pattern-bald men

4. One- to two-inch "ponytails" on any man

5. Ford Mustangs

6. Any window decal with Calvin peeing on something

7. Bluetooth earpieces

8. Referring to elderly women as '"Miss" or "young lady." Nobody's fooled by this level of condescension.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My favorite words, by part of speech

Ed. note: this posting is brought to you by
Schoolhouse Rock, without which I would not know my parts of speech. Or how a bill becomes a law. Or the preamble to the Constitution.

1. Adverb: "actually."
I use this one a lot, perhaps inappropriately. (Hey, there's another adverb!) Actually, I also like "exactly."

2. Interjection: "yikes!" Though I'm not above dropping an F-bomb when it's really necessary.

3. Adjective: "cool." If I were a teacher, the kids in my class would keep a tally of how many times I use this word, much as my friends and I kept track of how often my 6th grade math teacher said, "Uh."

4. Conjunction: "or." I like having options.

5. Noun: "beets." As I've said, I just like the way it sounds. And beets are so weird.

6. Pronoun: "me." Of course.

7. Preposition: "beyond." The possibilities are endless.

8. Verb... OK, this is getting dumb.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Things that bug me at the gym

1. Men who grunt while lifting weights.
Or when they're not lifting weights. Seriously. Just stop with the grunting already.

2. People who talk on their cell phones while doing cardio. Admittedly, cell phones bother me everywhere. It's probably time to concede defeat.

3. The thought of contracting a drug-resistant staph infection from unclean equipment.

4. Peop
le who talk and/or giggle during yoga. Take a step aerobics class, why don't ya?

5. That lady with The Worst Bangs in the World. OK, I realize this is peculiar to my gym (God, I hope so). But every time I go to work out I see this woman who wears her bangs in a tight curl on her forehead, a la Peggy from Mad Men (see photo, left). I am both fascinated and repulsed by this hairdo. I mean, has no one told her how weird it looks? Doesn't she have family or friends to set her straight? Is the curl covering up some strange scar? Does she only wear it that way at the gym, or is it an everyday kinda thing? I keep hoping one day she'll get a makeover, but she's been rockin' the Bad Bangs look for at least two years (and presumably much longer). It's infuriating.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Things I like that I used to hate

1. Various dairy products.
Time was, you couldn't get me near sour cream, cream cheese, gorgonzola or yogurt. Now I love them all, and I've got the elevated LDLs to prove it.

2. The word "hottie." I don't necessarily like this word; I just find it useful on occasion. It is not, however, acceptable to have it printed across the seat of one's exercise pants. I am not making this up: a woman who stood in front of me at yoga one time had "HOTTIE" in big, sparkly letters on her butt. For some reason I found this distracting.

3. Asparagus. It's amazing how good vegetables can taste when they don't come out of a can.

4. Exercise. I barely broke a sweat until I was in my late 20s. In college, I remember mocking the women in my dorm for starting an aerobics class. (But c'mon, they were sorority chicks from Long Island. I had the right.) I'm not sure when the tide turned, but these days, if I don't get to the gym at least three times a week, I am a cranky mess. No, I don't have washboard abs, but I'd look a whole lot worse if I didn't work out at all.

5.The epithet "douche." For years I considered this word beyond vulgar. OK, it's still vulgar, but when used by people I like, it cracks me up. And let's face it, there are a lot of folks out there who deserve the name. I'm not a fan of "douchebag," however. It's somehow too graphic.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Disturbing behavior I have witnessed on the subway

1. Nail clipping.
I have seen this more times than I care to remember. The perp is invariably a male who has no qualms about flinging his shards around the car. Just thinking about the sound makes me shudder: click... click... click...

2. A guy throwing up. Oddly, this happened the day before St. Patrick's Day.

3. A woman using an eyelash curler. Lipstick, fine. Even mascara can be forgiven. But lady, you really ought to draw the line at using metal implements on your eyes on the N train. The word "gouge" comes to mind, and that's never a good thing.

4. People leaning against the center pole with one butt cheek on either side. (Hey, I warned you this list would be disturbing.) Not only is it repulsive, hogging the pole is just plain rude.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Special Guest Blog: Words I Don’t Care For

Ed. note: this is the first in a series of guest blogs. Got an idea for one of your own? Send it to me and I'll make you famous. You probably know my e-mail address.

A Special Guest Blog by... Alyson!

1. Tender. This is the all-time #1 in my Words I Don’t Care for Hall of Fame. I have never liked this word. I even have a visceral reaction to it. If you’re ever around me when the word “tender” is uttered, you’ll notice my shoulders go back, as if I’m wincing. I can’t stand to hear Elvis’ “Love Me Tender.” I don’t like referring to money as “legal tender.” If you sprain your ankle and it’s swollen, don’t tell me it’s “tender.” I especially hate when people say the meat they’re eating is “tender.” Blech. Just say no to tender. Except bartenders. They’re OK in my book.

2. Juice. Don’t get me wrong – I like juice (although I’m not really a fan of prune), I just don’t like the word. I don’t know if it’s the combination of the “juh” and the “ooh” sounds or the fact that I mostly associate drinking juice with not feeling well. I’ll say “juice” but I won’t like to.

3.Travel-Related Nouns Made into Verbs, Specifically, Vacationed, Honeymooned and Cruised. Although I am a native English speaker and in fact, attended and graduated from an Ivy League ™ University, I never learned English grammar. There’s probably some grammar term that describes what I’m referring to, but I was never taught it. Anyway, this phenomenon drives me kuh-razy. I love to TAKE VACATIONS, although I have never BEEN ON A HONEYMOON or TAKEN A CRUISE*. I want to slap anyone I hear saying “Oh, we honeymooned in Bora Bora! We loved it!” (And not just because I am jealous they went to Bora Bora.) On the episode of “Golden Girls” when Blanche is contemplating getting engaged to a rich widower, he suggests some honeymoon options – Paris, visiting the Orient (hey guy, it’s called “Asia” now) or, he wonders, maybe she’d prefer to “cruise” the islands. Every time I see it, I want to throw my shoe at the TV. (For the record, Blanche turns him down. Not because he said “cruise the islands” but because she thought his young kids needed him more than she did.)

4. Tummy. Call it what it is – a belly. Ha! No, call it a stomach. Tummy and Belly just sound embarrassing. This is baby talk and it should be banned.

Honorable Mention:
Word I Used to Not Care For, But Have Made My Peace With:

Hoagie. Ah, the hoagie. The delicious hoagie. Where I grew up, this oversized delight of a sandwich was called a “wedge.” In other places, it’s commonly known as a “sub.” But in my dear Philadelphia, it’s a hoagie. For the first couple of years I lived in Philadelphia, I refused to utter the word “hoagie.” If I wanted one, I would refer to it as an “H” when I was with friends or somehow get my point across to the person taking my order without having to say “hoagie.” But eventually I was worn down. I lived across the street from the best hoagie place on campus (in my opinion) and since a really delicious Italian hoagie only cost $2.75 (1989 dollars), I went there a lot. Out of convenience, I started to say “hoagie” occasionally and I guess I just got used to it.

* This is a lie. I have been on a cruise, but I was 7 months old and don’t remember it.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The best songs with names in the title

Ed. note: Hey, gang. Sorry for the long pause, but my life got pretty busy for a bit. Stay tuned for a special (and hilarious) guest posting in the next couple of days.

1. "Eleanor Put Your Boots On," Franz Ferdinand

Wow, this is a great tune: a paean to the Cyclone, the Statue of Liberty (known here as "the statue with the dictionary") and Greenpoint. People should start naming their kids (or at least pets) Eleanor because of this one.

2. "William, It Was Really Nothing," The Smiths

What exactly was William all worked up about? We may never know.

3. "Do You Remember Walter?," The Kinks

Gotta love a bittersweet look back at the friendships of youth. Plus, Walter is a funny name.

4. "Stephanie Says," The Velvet Underground

The Velvets were big ol' namedroppers, and I love them for it. "Candy Says" and "Lisa Says" are OK, too, but "Stephanie" wins 'cause it's alliterative.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Words that make me feel pretentious when I pronounce them correctly

1. Endive. Seriously, I sometimes decline to order an endive salad because I feel like a jerk saying on-DEEVE instead of N-dive. And I like on-DEEVES, so this is a very sad situation.

2. Empire (as in empire-waisted dresses). Why it's pronounced ahm-PEER, I do not know. The truth is, I should not wear ahm-PEER waisted clothes because they make me look way preggers. On second thought: that could help me get a seat on the subway. Hmmmm...

3. Scorsese. I'm pretty sure it's pronounced skor-SEZ-ee. But everyone and his
movie-loving brother says skor-SAY-zee, so that's how I'm gonna say it, too. Sorry, Marty.

4. Prix fixe. Rather than order the pree feex, I will sometimes say, "I'll have the special."

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Observations after an afternoon spent picking up litter on the banks of the East River in Astoria

On Saturday, Mr. SZ and I joined a few other suckers community-minded folks to pick up the mounds of trash that have accumulated on the shoreline at Astoria Park. Here are some lessons learned from filling about a dozen jumbo Hefty bags with other people's crap.

1. Poland Spring is evil.

2. People are disgusting.

3. As evidenced by the number of condoms, safe sex is alive and well in Queens.

Hellgate Bridge, A
storia Park
(by me!)

4. Corona is the beer of choice for litterbugs.

5. People are pigs.

6. While they might make it easier to enjoy a fountain soda, drinking straws suck for the environment.

7. Plastic tampon applicators are evil.

8. People make very bad choices about how to dispose of their trash.

9. I love the sound of broken glass when I stomp through it in hiking boots. (No, really.)

10. It's probably more fun to pick up trash when it's not 85 degrees outside.

11. Styrofoam is evil.

12. If you come across bones on the banks of a river, it's best to assume they came from chickens.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Things that continue to baffle me

Ed. note: this is likely to be the first in a long series of lists of things I just don't understand (despite the attempts of many to explain them to me).

1. The scoring system in tennis

2. International currency exchange rates

3. Trigonometry and what it's good for

4. How calls placed to my cell phone manage to find me

5. Airline ticket prices

6. Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank

Monday, July 7, 2008

Songs I like even though I know I shouldn't

Disclaimer: I'm limiting this to songs from the past several years. If I included every mortifyingly cheesy AM radio hit from my youth, we'd be here all day.

1. "SexyBack," Justin Timberlake. The title makes me cringe. Plus, JT was a Mouseketeer, and I've never found him even remotely sexy. But damn, this song is catchy.

2. "Girlfriend," Avril Lavigne. "She's like so whatever / You could do so much better." Yes. Yes, I could.

3. "Cowboy," Kid Rock. Let me go on record: Kid Rock is a dirtbag of the highest order. That said, the line "I'm not straight outta Compton, I'm straight out the trailer" is freakin' genius.

4. "The Ketchup Song," Las Ketchup. I actually have this on my iPod. Sometimes it pops up when I'm using the elliptical machine at the gym, and it makes me surreptitiously dance. At least I think I'm being surreptitious. I'm not, like, rockin' out. Or am I? Maybe the people at the gym know me as the Old Lady Who Dances on the Elliptical. Uh oh.

5. "Beautiful," Christina Aguilera. This is the kind of song that would have spoken to me as a 12-year-old -- an age when my friends (yes, my friends) nicknamed me Emacia and Mommy Long Arms. As a grown-up, you'd think I'd be immune to the charms of a performer who wears whore makeup and spells the word "dirty" with two Rs. Not so.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The laziest list ever

Here for your Independence Day entertainment is an unedited list of the last 10 songs played on my iPod:

1. Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better

2. The Flaming Lips – Kim's Watermelon Gun

3. Silver Jews – Smith & Jones Forever

4. Arcade Fire – Black Mirror

5. They Might Be Giants – Ana Ng

6. XTC – Senses Working Overtime

7. Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

8. The Pogues – A Pair of Brown Eyes

9. The Clash – Hateful

10. De La Soul – The Magic Number

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Places where I have upchucked in public

1. Sunnyside, circa 1974. I'm not sure what it was about the home of Washington Irving that induced vomiting. Six-year-olds are probably just inclined to hurl.

2. Disneyland, 1976. I was sick during the entire trip to California, but I managed to dupe my mom into thinking I was well enough to visit the Magic Kingdom. I ended up puking into a garbage can near Cinderella's castle. After eating a hot dog. I still had a pretty good time. 

3. Rye Playland, 1986. Turns out the Caterpillar was too much for me. But hey, I'm not alone: the ride attendant told me he spent a lot of time hosing down the platform.

4. London, 1990. The aftermath of an evening at Gordon's Wine Bar in Covent Garden. Turns out you shouldn't drink four glasses of plonk on an empty stomach. (Who knew?) My memories of this are understandably hazy, but I'm pretty sure I threw up on the tube. I definitely threw up on the walk home from the tube. I recall trying to speak in a British accent so people would think I was a stupid drunk English girl instead of a stupid drunk American one. How patriotic of me.

5. Brussels, 2004. If you really want the story, please see Item 2 on the list of my all-time worst vacations. Additional detail for the masochistic: I puked in the Place Royale outside the Museum of Modern Art. My passport should probably be revoked.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

A six-course death row meal

For someone whose worst brush with the law involved carrying an open container of Molson Ice on the rough streets of Avalon, New Jersey, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what my last meal would be in the unlikely event that I were sentenced to death. My biggest question: are there parameters for this? I'm going on the assumption that there's not some sort of list from which I must choose. Given that it's my final dinner, shouldn't I be able to get, well,
whatever the hell I want? So here goes:

1. Every single g.d. thing on my list of What My Diet Would Consist of If Nutrition Were Not an Issue.

2. An entire Thanksgiving dinner. None of those good-for-you vegetables, though. Just give me the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce (both the jellied and the chunky-style), the mashed potatoes and the gravy. Oh, yes, the gravy. (Did I happen to mention gravy?) And pie, too.

3. A half-dozen biscuits from Popeye's. Screw that: make it a dozen.

4. The omakase from Nobu. Heavy on the toro, please.

5. Chicken tikka masala with rice and naan.

6. A black-and-white milkshake.

OK, now I don't know whether to feel hungry or hurl.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movie lines frequently repeated in my house

1. "The Donger need food."
Sixteen Candles. Uttered whenever the wife is hungry.

2. "
You know, for kids."The Hudsucker Proxy. Usually said apropos of nothing.

3. "One day a real rain is gonna come and wash all the scum off the streets."
Taxi Driver. Always said while walking to the subway when it's pouring. (OK, so technically it's repeated outside my house. Lighten up, man.)

4. "Feed me, Seymour!"
Little Shop of Horrors. Said when the cat is agitating for his twice-daily administration of canned food.

5. "I hate sports."
Ghost World. Delivered with a shrug, à la Steve Buscemi.

6. "What has it got in its pocketses?"
Lord of the Rings. See also: "Hobbitses is tricksy."

7. "Oh, Mylanta!"The Ringer

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

My guilty pleasures

Nanny 911 and Supernanny. Honestly, I don't seek this stuff out. But if I'm flipping channels and see some kid having a conniption, I can't help myself: I have to find out what the nanny's gonna do. Also, it makes me feel superior, knowing I would never be such a crappy parent. Uh-huh.

ABBA. "Can you hear the drums, Fernando?" Gives me goosebumps every time.

3. Cheez Wiz. Mmmm... salty orange goo. The thought of it on a Philly steak makes my mouth water.

4. LOLcats.
I'm on ur Internets laffing at ur kittenz.

5. Any TV documentary about conjoined twins and/or the morbidly obese.

6. The movie
Clifford. Martin Short plays the 10-year-old nephew of Charles Grodin. They even manage to make him look tiny. This, my friends, is comedy gold.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Advice I have taken, for better or worse

1. Don't wear athletic shoes unless you're at the gym.
This has helped me not look like a tourist in my own city.

2. The better the college you went to, the less makeup you wear. OK, this isn't actual advice, but it made me give up mascara for years in the hopes someone would think I went to Barnard.

3. Just because you have a crush on someone doesn't mean you have to act on it. Generally, if you give it a little time, you'll find out something disgusting about the person and you'll feel you've dodged a bullet. (Of course, as I have been happily married since before the turn of the century this advice is no longer relevant to me.)

4. If someone at work bugs you, walk by his desk, make cobra fangs out of your fingers and hiss. This works best if you only imagine doing it.

5. Stop smacking your lips when you eat. I had no idea I even did this. But I'm glad I don't do it anymore.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dreams from my husband

Normally, other people's dreams bore the crap outta me. My husband, however, has mastered the art of summing up his dreams in one sentence, and I find them enormously entertaining. Some of my favorites:

1. "I dreamed I was trying to play a didgeridoo."

2. "I dreamed Steve told me Brad was going to quit." *

3. "I dreamed a female hairdresser was going to give me a makeover."

4. "I dreamed I had something stuck in my teeth."

* Not their real names.

OK, I know I've opened a can o' worms by even mentioning dreams. If you feel compelled to describe your own nocturnal imaginings, for the love of God: keep it short.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Random things I like

1. Kids who look like rodents

2. The smell of fabric softener emanating from laundry rooms

The Wisconsin state quarter

4. The word (but not the taste of) "beets"

5. Drinking beer near a body of water

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Things I don't like in restaurants

1. Embarrassingly named dishes.
My favorite neighborhood joint serves this amazing carrot appetizer. Sadly, on the original incarnation of the menu it was called... Bunny's Fever. (Shuddering.) I ordered it every time, but I really wished I could have just pointed and said, "I'll have, you know, that." Evidently the owners got tired of making their patrons cringe; on newer versions of the menu it's simply called carrot dip. Whew.

2. Wait staff who introduce themselves. "My name is Ted and I'll be your server tonight." Honestly, does anyone feel comfortable with this? I'm always nice to waiters and I tip very well, but dammit, I don't need to be on a first-name basis.

3. Baffling ingredients. For example: what the hell is a sunchoke? And is kokum jus supposed to sound appealing? Putting confusing things on the menu only invites more conversation with the waiter, and we've already established how I feel about that.

4. Foreign-language menus with no translations. See my previous complaint about having to converse with the waiter. I love all kinds of ethnic food, but I also like to know what I'm getting myself into. Of course, if I happen to be dining in a foreign country, non-English menus are OK. (Well, sort of.)

5. 200-item wine lists. Studies have shown that having too many choices freaks people out. And as someone who drinks mostly to achieve a fuzzy feeling, I can't say I require a selection of 15 different pinot noirs. Pick one wine from each of the really popular varietals (ooh, look at me, I used the word varietals), put 'em on the menu and be done with it.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The lamest movies I have seen in transit

Ghost Dad (Peter Pan bus to Boston circa 1992). I had to IMDB this one to jog my memory about the plot. Evidently Bill Cosby plays a widower who dies in a taxi crash, but manages to watch over his kids as you guessed it a ghost dad! Orphaned children = laff riot! I can't remember if they all ate Jell-O pudding together. Probably.

2. The Mask (Peter Pan bus, destination unknown, circa 1995). Ever have a nightmare that you were trapped for hours in close quarters with Jim Carrey? Dude, I lived it.

3. Daddy Daycare (American Airlines flight to Salt Lake City, 2003). Admittedly, I watched this one without headphones. Still, I can say with absolute certainty that it sucked. I did, however, laugh at one scene where Jeff Garlin wore badly applied lipstick. No clue what that was about.

4. Alvin & the Chipmunks (Delta flight to St. Croix, 2008). I actually put on headphones for this, but I removed them once my ears started to bleed from the shrieking rodents. I'm not sure if Scientology requires penance, but if so, Jason Lee has about 50 kabillion Hail Xenus to say.

Monday, May 19, 2008

My all-time worst vacations

1. North Adams, MA, 1981. My parents thought it would be big fun to take my sister (then 16) and me (13) with them when my dad took a summer class at North Adams State College. As you know, teens love vacationing in dying industrial towns. For years, my proclamation of "I hate the whole state of Massachusetts!" was a family joke. Ha freakin' ha. For the record, I now love Massachusetts. Even North Adams (well, Mass MoCA, at least).

2. Brussels, 2004. Prior to this misadventure, moules frites would have made the list of what my diet would consist of if nutrition were not an issue. Seriously, half the reason for my visit to Belgium was to eat mussels. It was all going swimmingly until a fateful lunch at the mollusk-shilling tourist trap Chez Leon. I knew something was slightly off with my meal. I did not, however, expect that a few hours later I would be lying on the floor of my hotel bathroom, praying for death. I've been off the mussels ever since. Even thinking about mussels makes me shudder. Please don't mention them around me. Thanks in advance.

3. Spain, 1988. A similar experience to Brussels, only this time caused by eating unwashed fruit in the nasty town of Malaga. Even worse, the evilness struck I was heading back to London by train. Perhaps they've improved since then, but the restrooms on Spanish trains in the 1980s made port-a-johns seem like the ladies' lounge at the Plaza. Please don't mention Spanish trains in my presence either. Mitigating factor: I dropped about 8 pounds in a week.

4. Camping in Lyme, CT, 1999. Oh, yes. Nothing like pitching your tent in the home of Lyme Disease. I spent the entire trip scrutinizing my ankles for ticks. The campground kinda sucked, too.

How about you? Any places to avoid?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rock 'n' Roll Crushes: A Timeline

Age 5: Elton John. My best friend and I fought over who would get to marry him. Kids are dopes. Admittedly, we were weirder than most.

Age 7: Davy Jones of the Monkees. He had a British accent and a shiny bowl haircut. I also liked the way he danced.

Age 8: Paul McCartney. Once I learned that the Beatles inspired the Monkees (gee, who knew?), Davy was out of the picture. It was all about Paul. I thought about proposing to him in a letter, but then I wised up: the guy was like 9,000 years older than me and plus, there was the whole Linda thing. So I wrote and asked him to adopt me instead. He never wrote back, the jerk.

Age 14: John Taylor of Duran Duran. Nick wore too much makeup; Simon, as the frontman, was too unattainable. I never liked drummers, so Roger was out, and honestly, I can't remember a damn thing about Andy. So John it was. He wore hats sometimes and that made him cuter still.

Age 24: Kurt Cobain. Nothing to be ashamed of here. Even dead, he's still hot.

Age 30: Tommy Lee. A brief aberration brought on by too many viewings of Motley Crue: Behind the Music.

Friday, May 16, 2008

My favorite list-themed works of pop culture

Ed. note: It has come to my attention that I am totally ripping off a rather amusing blog called 5ives. Before Merlin sues my ass, I'm taking the bold step of scrapping the five-item policy. Sometimes I'll put six things on my list. Hell, maybe I'll go crazy and do seven. And if I'm feeling selfish one day, I might just keep it to three. How do you like them apples? (This is all so liberating.)

Now, on to the list.

1. High Fidelity by Nick Hornby. In which our hero (who's actually a bit of dick) makes a list of his five most memorable break-ups and sets off to find out Whatever Happened To. Along the way, he shares several of his other top fives, from American films (No. 1: The Godfather) to Elvis Costello songs ("Alison") to Bands or Musicians Who Will Have to be Shot Come the Musical Revolution (interestingly, Simple Minds tops this one. Not sure why he's got a gripe with Simple Minds. Maybe it's a British thing).

2. Violent Femmes, "Kiss Off." Gordon Gano takes one, one, one 'cause she left him, and two, two, two for his family, and so on. He forgets what eight was for. That's so cool.

3. Amelie. The narrator lists each character's tiny likes and dislikes. En francais, no less. Among my favorites: "Philomene likes the sound of the cat's bowl on the tiles. The cat likes overhearing children's stories." Très cute.

4. The Book of Rock Lists. It's hard to overestimate the impact this had on me when I was a kid. It's where I learned Johnny Rotten's real name ("Famous Pseudonyms of the 1970s"), the identity of the Rolling Stones' "Angie" ("25 Songs About Real People") and that "Great Balls of Fire" might actually be, well, dirty ("Best Songs to Pass the Censor"). I read it so much that the cover fell off; I have it here now, yellowed masking tape and everything. 

See? Only four. Ha!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Things of which I have an irrational fear

1. Roller coasters. I'm the one who holds everyone's stuff when they go on the Cyclone.

2. Vampires. Dracula in particular. And -- OK, this is embarrassing -- the Count from Sesame Street. I had a nightmare about him once. Go ahead, laugh. Let's see how well you hold up when a Muppet tries to sink his felt fangs into your neck.

3. Merging. Yeah, yeah, I make a big deal about the environmental benefits of public transporation, but here's the real reason I hate cars: my driving sucks. Even thinking about how to speed onto a highway makes me queasy. Almost as scary: turning left at a four-way stop.

4. Going to jail. I'm such a freakin' goody-goody that this is highly unlikely, but there's always the chance I'll get framed. Extra bonus fear points for foreign prisons. For this, I blame Return to Paradise.

5. Stilts, and the people who walk on them. Seriously, WTF? It's just not necessary. In the Virgin Islands, there's a tradition of dressing up as Mocko Jumbies, which are essentially scary clowns on stilts. With all due respect to the culture, I can't begin to express the fundamental wrongness of this.

C'mon, chickens — what are you so afraid of?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Words or phrases I would (or do) feel stupid saying

1. Da bomb. I recently told my husband the recycling container he installed under the sink was "da bomb." Which it is, but I'm still cringing that I described it as such.

2. Wonderful. It just sounds phony. One of my friends took an instant dislike to someone simply because she uttered the sentence, "Brooklyn is wonderful." I consider that a cautionary tale.

3. Fo' shizzle. I can't talk the Snoop talk. Some would argue that's a good thing.

4. Sweet (as in "awesome"). This one's dangerous. I started saying it to make fun of people who say it, but it's slowly creeping into my normal vocabulary. I must stop before I start pronouncing it "scha-WEET!," without irony.

5. Asshat. A little too high-concept for me. I'm more of a jackass girl.

And yours?

Monday, May 12, 2008

What my diet would consist of if nutrition were not an issue

1. Cheez Doodles

2. Lobster rolls

3. Nathan's hot dogs (hold the kraut, for God's sake)

4. Coffee gelato

5. Movie theater popcorn

Songs so sad I can hardly stand to listen to them

1. REM, "So. Central Rain." Yes, the lyrics are inscrutable. But the "I'm sorrrrry" chorus kinda says it all. As a matter of fact, about 75 percent of REM songs from the '80s are capable of making me teary. Damn you, Stipe.

2. Peter, Paul and Mary, "Leavin' on a Jet Plane." OK, so it's a freakin' Peter, Paul and Mary song written by John freakin' Denver. Shut up. It's sad. I played it on my final college radio show, days before I fled the country for what I hoped would be my fabulous life in London. A friend called in to say I was an insufferable sap. He wasn't wrong.

3. Bright Eyes, "The First Day of My Life." I have high hopes for the couple in this song. It's got something to do with the break in Conor Oberst's voice when he sings, "I would probably be hap-py." Still, the line "I'm glad I didn't die before I met you" just kills me.

4. Billy Bragg, "Tank Park Salute." I actually went through a list of Billy's songs to find one that still makes me sad. Now that I'm no longer a naive English major, lines like "The chain that fell off my bike last night is now wrapped 'round my heart" (from "The Only One") have started to bug me. So I'm going with Billy's tribute to his late dad. Yeah, that works.

5. The Beatles, "For No One."
Best breakup song ever. That French horn solo gets me every time.

OK, what are yours? Kudos to the first person who gets me to sniffle.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Five-Item Manifesto

OK, it's my turn to litter the internets with random musings. So why a Li'l Blog of Lists, you ask? (Yeah, I heard you.) As I plan to do with all my posts, I'll list the top 5 reasons:

1. Long paragraphs scare me.

2. I don't have any kids so a momblog is out of the question.

3. It worked OK for Letterman.

4. Let's face it, lists are quick and I am lazy.

You know what? Four items are good for this intro. Let's get started.