Monday, August 4, 2014

Photo Processing

B and I struggle to take an acceptable family photo. She believes she is unphotogenic. Puh-lease. I am unphotogenic. Pictures make me look like a gorilla, only with zits. We take 2,044 pictures whenever we go anywhere. We stopped asking people to take pictures of us long ago. It's no use. None of them take enough, and then we just trash them all. So, we take selfies, and we argue about them.

"Oh," B will say, "I found one I don't completely abhor!"

"Um, buddy," I will say to her (we call each other 'buddy' sometimes, ironically), "I have something in my teeth in that one."

Then she will say, "okay, but it's better than the one you like, where I look like I have only two teeth in my entire head!"

At this point I sigh dramatically, planning how to one-up her.

"Oh, yeah?" I will say. "Well, it looks like I have a head the size of Jupiter in that other one."

"It looks like I have blood gushing from my eyeballs in the one you took the other day."

"So? That's nothing! I look like I have enormous tumors all over my midriff in the one you took at the park!"

And so on. Ari, however, always looks fantastic.


Things I said to Ari recently, because he asked:

"Yes, you have a brain. No worries."

"I don't know what the 'YKK' on zippers means. 'You kangaroo killer?' 'Yu Klux Klan?' 'Yesterday Kinsey kvetched?'" (This second was a mistake, as then he wanted to know what the Yu Klux Klan was.)

   Front and back two times--just in case.

"There are 16 poles supporting the slide, but I don't know what is inside them."

"Yes, if you hit a person in the head with a hammer you will hurt him/her."

"When fish die, it is for a reason, just like when people die, but we don't always know the reason because we don't know as much about fish diseases as we do about people diseases."

"Yes, the man standing in line with us probably did cry when he lost his leg."

"Yes, for the thousandth time, you will die if you jump out of a building. Stop arguing with me!"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Wine Groove #7

Song: "Station," by Lapsley
Wine: Bogle, Petite Sirah

Spotify is fucking nuts. It's even dumber than auto-correct, which still changes "fucking" to "ducking." WTF is "ducking?" Is it waddling around saying "quack!?" Why is there a word for such a thing? Is it an activity people typically engage in? What am I missing, here?

Oh! Ducking!!! As in dodging. As in lowering one's body to avoid incoming projectiles. Omg, I don't know how I missed that since it's such a common occurrence in my super-spy life! Let me just go and fetch my Bat-jet, and I will be right there. That was sarcasm, though perhaps should not have been, given my afternoon with Ari (full of dodging projectiles).

Spotify sent me an email about an album from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, whom I abhor. Really, Spotify? After all the time we've spent together, this is how well you know me? Wow.

This song isn't by Tom Petty, but it is from the Spotify new music playlist, which is lovely, sparse, and ever-changing.
It leans towards trip-hop, which is always a good thing, but has a fair share of B's stuff (i.e. classic-sounding rock), too. She's the one who sent it to me, in fact. 

The wine is a petite sirah, and I don't get why it is spelled with an i when syrah is a y, or if the two are related. I take the different spellings as a wine trying to have some secrets and leave it at that, but you can research if you want. Petite sirahs are punchier, less subtle. I love a good syrah, but petite sirahs turn my head. I think about them far too much. I buy almost all of them, expect a lot, and haven't been disappointed yet. The go-to region is Oregon, but this one is from Cali. I think they had a good year in 2012, but any vintage will do.

Now, the song. Go listen to it before you read the rest of this post because there's a spoiler in the next paragraph.

This woman is 17, and she sang this alone. I believe she said, when asked, that she "dropped the pitch of the vocals" because "aint nobody got tym" to find a co-vocalist. To which I say, "DIY, sister!" The comments on this track are largely from str8 women wanting to have sex the male co-vocalist. Lapsley keeps saying, "sorry, it's just me" and never loses patience with the masses. The video is intense and simple. Low budget, Lapsley pretending it's not just her, one take. I was mesmerized.

I like the gender play of that whole thing, too. Who wouldn't? What could be more radical than taking the role of the male co-vocalist and doing it so well you have a throng of screaming fans? I heart third (fourth?) wave feminism!

Lapsley has a whacked/lovely rendition of New Order's "Blue Monday," too:
Listen to the original, and then go listen to hers. Cool ass shit--what she does with it--no?

She's from Liverpool. Her first name is Holly. She has a shit load of "featurings" for a new artist. I guess she plays well with others, but she also has the perfect electronica voice. Big range, big sound, super flexible. Let us all bow down in gratitude to the sound.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Highlights (not) from My Summer

Ari's hair gets yellow blonde in summer, but the roots are darker. One day this summer, I was standing in line at the post office with him, when a seemingly sane woman asked me if I highlight his hair.

"Um?" I inquired.

The woman, who had a young child standing next to her as well, seemed to recover her wits. 

"Oh, of course you don't," she hurried to say, "what am I thinking?"

I can't even organize myself to pay someone to color my own hair, let alone go all DIY on his. I mean: what on absolute earth? Was I highlighting his hair while begging him to have even one bite of any non-gummy foodstuff? Or when he was calling me "stupid mommy" because I wouldn't put his on socks for him? Or when he was insisting his swim trunks are entirely too cumbersome, and he wishes to purchase a man(boy?)-thong? Was I HIGHLIGHTING HIS HAIR when he asked me for the 3,345,232nd time in one day how old I am, misphrasing it on purpose in a cute---> desperately annoying way as "Mommy, how old you awe?" Answer: no. 

No, I shan't answer that question for him ever again because I am Timeless (and have already told him 3,345,231 times), and no, I have not been playing colorist with my six-year-old. I have been, instead, struggling to achieve a meditative state without completely going out of body (because then I'd be emotionally unavailable to him, which is not fair). 

If there is a parent of a young child who is capable of highlighting his/her child's hair, he/she needs to call me and conduct several motivational speeches. I am in desperate need. Let's go back to the socks. I know--you missed the sock reference, in the middle of all the hair. Welcome to my life. 

Ari insists he cannot put socks on by himself, even though I have seen him do so at least 20 times. I am tired of putting on his socks, and B is threatening suicide over it. He is a very good actor. He will fall dramatically backwards, as if fainting, with the back of one hand flung against his forehead, when asked to put on his socks. This is the silent version. There is also a version with sound, which I cannot even bear to recount. 

So, B and I made a plan, very similar to our other (few) successful plans in child-rearing: we decided not to do what we had decided not to do. No, really. Parents suck at this. We are so bad--I'm constantly annoyed by us all. It's like some chemical defect happens to us because of baby pheromones or something, and we want to change our minds as often as possible. Like, mind-changing now comes with a bonus endorphin hit! We can't ever say no, even though we swore repeatedly that we would never do X again, but it's kids who are immature and have no impulse control. Riiiiiight. B and I were going to do whatever else we needed to do to get through what would surely be an arduous day, but we were not going to put on his socks.

Ari has rules about socks--some normal, some ridiculous. He likes them to be perfect, which I get. No sense at all in having the seam in the wrong place; it is dreadfully uncomfortable! I stand with him in solidarity on that. However, he doesn't want to wear socks in the bathtub, whereas I do not care. I'm just grateful for a few moments to wash myself--would go in the shower in a mink coat (faux, of course), if that's what it took. The sock incident happened when Ari was around 18 months old, so I was in my usual delirious state. I put him in the tub with socks on, and he still says, every month or so, "Mommy, wemembew that time when you put me in the tubby with socks?" He didn't like it, but he thought it was funny, not torturous.

But, there is another, more serious sock story. Ari has to sleep in socks because his feet get cold, because it's what he's used to, because in some sleep-deprived/formative moment I started putting socks on him when I put him down. Once, around the same time as the tubby incident, I forgot to put his socks on at bedtime. You would have thought he was dying in a bloody massacre. The shock was so great it drove him to speak his first complete sentence. Even at one and a half, they're manipulators. In fact, I think they should put emotional manipulation in those baby milestone things because isn't it a pretty fucking important skill?

"Mommy!!!" he wailed, in a frenzy of misery, as I walked out of his room, "don't put me to bed with no socks!!" 

He will bring up the tubby incident and laugh, and then I will say, because I am clumsily trying to stay on topic, "remember the time I put you to bed without socks?"

He's still traumatized. His little face will turn red, and he'll start to cry quietly, as if trying to keep it together, and then he will say, "well, I was twying to fowget about that." 

Ugh. Already such a good Jew. 

Speaking of which, we got a Bar Mitzvah invitation this morning. Oh, happy day! I get to buy formal wear for my little boy. I can't tell you how I have looked forward to this moment.

Back to trying to get Ari to put on his socks, all was terrible and dramatic all day. We were at a stale mate because he wouldn't put on his socks or wear sandals. Luckily, we didn't go anywhere but the pool, when he walked barefoot across the street, by choice. Then came bedtime, when, of course, he had to have socks. He pitched a fit, but we held firm. He ended up in bed with his socks in his hands because everybody in the house was refusing to put them on. Our house is good at refusing. Something is wrong with us because we all look forward to it.

Cut to 8:00 pm--porch time. He came out of his room and down to the porch holding his socks tenderly, weeping, and asked again if I would put them on for him. I looked him in the eye.

"Ari," I said, "I will support you. I will be beside you and listen to you and hold you and cheer you on and comfort you, but I will not put your socks on for you."

"What do you mean 'suppowt me?'" he asked.

"You know, I'll just be here," I told him, "in case something goes wrong."

He giggled at that, but then pretended he hadn't. And then he crawled into my lap and put on his socks.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Van Gone

"Mommy! Did you know there was a artist who cut off his eeaw and gave it to a woman as a pwesent?"

(Playing dumb) "Did he?" 

"Yes, and also! He mawwied a diffwent woman. Aftew all that! Isn't that widiculous?"

"Yes. . .do you think she liked the present?"

"Well. She didn't mawwy him. I think she must have hated it. What a weiwd pwesent anyway!"


I explained that this was Long Ago, when people liked drama, such as body-part gifts, and that we no longer do such things.

"Good!" he said, "because what a heck?! An eeaw as a pwesent--oh my!"

He says "what a heck" instead of "what the heck," because he heard it wrong, that cutie. And he is forever saying "oh my!"

"But, do you like his art?" I asked, pulling up Starry Night on my phone. (I love Van Gogh.)

"I guess so," said Ari, "but it's over."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he's done painting it, now."

Art as the thing you experience during the creation, instead of the thing that's made? I'm in favor.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Berries, Beets, and BFFs with Benefits

My friend, Mara, can cook. She's blonde, but also Italian. Irish on one side, but Italian on the side that matters: the cooking side. I have heard the most fascinating stories about what Italian women do to make food. I don't remember any details, so I will give an imaginary, step by step summary of how Italian women make, say, cassoulet, which is not even an Italian dish, btw. These are not the real steps, as shared by Mara, but they are close enough.
1) Cook considers where to acquire:
a) proper white beans grown in proper soil and 
b) proper duck:
b2) grown and raised properly in the sun and given free reign
b3) also, for reasons of duck genetics and not force-feeding, very fat.
2) In order to obtain these things, cook requisitions various military accoutrements with which to invade the duck pasture/farm land. 
3) Cook does a variety of incantations (but calls it tradition, not witchcraft, because this is cooking, not Buffy) in the root cellar, which is right beneath the organic greenhouse and the pig sty, which the cook uses to make, you know, bacon and herbs and shit.
4) Cook waits many moons for something(s) to ripen/marinate/mature.
5) Maybe six years later, cook is ready to make the thing and does so, and it is the dinner that launched a thousand ships.

Mara makes me eat things I do not like. She makes me forget that I do not like them. She makes me confused about my taste identity! And then! She says to my wife, "Lori eats everything I put in front of her," which no one has ever said about me. Like, ever. I only eat like five things. I eat sugary cereal, pizza, and marshmallows. I basically hate everything else. Only, once in a while, I don't. Of course I eat everything Mara puts in front of me: I am not insane!

I like blackberries. I fail to understand why, in our culture, blueberries and raspberries are glorified and blackberries forgotten. What is that about? Blackberries are sooo much sweeter and more flavorful! Is this some kind of fruit racism?

I like beets. I am trying to grow them. Ok, that is a bit premature. I have not yet ordered any seeds. But, I am going to grow some lovely, bad-ass beets. You will see. I just can't decide if I want red or gold. I have some sort of racism here, too, where I believe, in spite of my own taste experiences, that red beets are more flavorful. This is not so, and furthermore, the red ones stain like a mother-fucker. Mara has Things to Say about beets, of course, since they are a food, which one cooks.

Mara on boiling beets: "this is something one should never attempt if one desires to maintain one's affection for beets." After she said this, I phased out for a bit, and when I came back, Mara was talking to B about "blood splatter on the cabinets," which was still about beets. So, the red ones stain. And one should roast beets, but only the gold ones, of course. But I want red, because I am a (reverse?) racist. Also, I want the red greens (are they still called greens if they're red?), for color and bitterness, in my salads.

"I am not the best cook in my family. By far, I am not," is another thing Mara said one time. I'd like to meet this "family," by which I am sure she means "CIA and Cordon Bleu founders/Iron Chef judges/fantastic mystics who can reverse the spin of the earth on its axis, oh and by the way, make a pretty good stew." Because B and I just beat the living shit out of each other to get the last few dregs of Mara's guacamole and salsa. Btw, I do not like salsa. Fucking hate it. Srsly, if some gets on my chip like, by accident, I will spit that piece of shit out in mixed company. But for Mara's, I will kill my wife. I suppose, technically, salsa is not cooked, so maybe this is what Mara means by not being the best "cook" in her family.

We are at the beach, vacationing, and Mara came by for a couple of days, and she said she would cook. It was almost too much to bear--the anticipation. Then, also, I wasn't sure it was safe. I mean, I want peace, not fisticuffs over salsa. But if you think I tried to stop Mara from cooking, you're on crack. She made fish tacos--a favorite of B's. I can't stand them. I don't think fish belongs in a taco, and I don't think fish belongs with other fish. But, you know, I ate like 17. Finally, we ran out of tortillas. There was still other stuff left: the fish and the salsa and the bean/corn thing, two or three other divine food stuffs in bowls. We all looked at each other, and then B said, "Can we just eat out of the bowls? And stop this charade?" What followed was entirely out of hand. I shan't describe it. There may have been blood.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fake Advice Column #3

Dear Fake Advice Column,
I have always been a loyal customer of Sephora, and I would like to discuss their Beauty Insider program. It's not fair! If you give them information, you get to be a Beauty Insider, but then you have to spend a certain amount to become a VIB (Very Important Beauty Insider) and then even more to become a VIB Rouge. The problem is this: their annual Sun Safety Kit, which is in high demand, is now ONLY available to the VIB members.

If you aren't a VIB member, you can't even put it in your cart! I can't afford to spend the amount required to get to the VIB level. It's like Sephora is discriminating again poor people! What should I do?

Dear wannaVIB,
What? A corporation that sells things likes rich people best? Shocking.
Fake Advice Column


Dear Fake Advice Column,
Sometimes it seems like you are making fun of us--the people who write to you. You wouldn't do that, would you? Don't you wanna get paid?

Dear Confused,
I am paid not in cash, but in opportunity. I have many opportunities to make fun of you niggling twits. In other words, I would, and I am.
Fake Advice Column


Dear Fake Advice Column,
Two years ago, I was vacationing on the beach, and I kept running into this horrible woman. Now I am at the same beach, and it is happening again. For some reason, I run into her, her two young boys, and her oafish husband almost daily. My own son knows better than to engage her kids in play (because crazy), but he often plays with other kids near the woman and her boys, and she is forever interrupting my son's conversations with his playmates. I don't know what the fascination is. My son is six, and he and his playmates are all rather unsophisticated. They talk about poop and light sabers and boogers and who is bigger. Still, the woman interrupts incessantly, saying dumb things. She interrupts my conversations, too. For instance, the mother of the boy my son was playing with yesterday started chatting with me, and I asked her what her son's name was. She said "Mateo." Ms. Interrupts A Lot butted in, asking, "what's his name, again?" And Mateo's mother said, "Mateo." Ms. Interrupts A Lot said, quite seriously, "I thought you said 'Potato.'"

WTF parent names their kid "Potato?" 

This is the kind of inane thing she is forever saying when she interrupts, and she also keeps up a constant stream of threats/promises that she is leaving. "Time to leave," she will say to her children. "I'm leaving right now!" Of course, she never leaves, even though it is all she ever talks about with her children. They completely ignore her, and she never stops talking. She then announces to her husband that she would like to go to the bathroom, but she never, ever goes! It is all I can do to stop myself shouting, "Then, go!"

How does one deal with people like this?
Hell is other people.

Dear Hell is other people,
Find a new vacation spot.
Fake Advice Column