Sunday, September 24, 2006

In the Other Library

What can you learn about someone by looking at their DVD collection? Many things. In this entire collection, there are probably a handful of straight-up dramas -- 'Das Boot', Lars von Trier's 'Medea', 'Shadow of the Vampire', and, um, oh let's call the 'I,Claudius' set a drama. Everything else is either action, sci fi, comedy, or so bad that it should have its own category. Allysa Milano "art" film, I'm looking at you. Asia Argento film about vampires running a dog-fighting ring? Don't think you can hide behind the 'Star Wars' trilogy, sweetheart. I see you back there.
So what do you learn about us by looking? We don't bring a lot of drama home. We're goofy. We don't have children. We have questionable taste. Here is your proof from 'Jesus Christ: Vampire Hunter". "We're running short on skin. We'll need to harvest more lesbians." Need more? How about the unrated DVD of "Shark Attack 3: Megalodon"? "What, are you afraid a shark might swim up and bite your culo?" I don't know how 'Flash Gordon' ended up with these two.
Here are a couple of good ones. 'Cemetery Man (Dellamorte, Dellamore)' is a great little film staring a young Rupert Everett as a groundskeeper in a northern Italian cemetary that is anything but quiet. It's got love, it's got death. It's got love after death, maybe some necrophilial love depending on your perspective. It's got zombies. It's got a problematic relationship between a reanimated, decapitated head and the simpleton who loves her. And then the ending gets weird. The art direction is gorgeous. This is the region 2 DVD, so it only plays on one machine in our house, but it's now available for region 1 players. I highly recommend it, if you're not offended by zombie lovin'.

Dr. No's in there to give some balance. I love Dr. No, and I'll watch it every time it's on AMC. I bought the DVD so I wouldn't have to wait for their bi-monthly "All Bond, All Day" month to roll back around in order to see it.

These are some of the all-time favorites. I can watch 'Riddick', 'The Rundown' and 'Club Dread' on continuous loop and never get tired of them. There was a point this spring when they were all on the movie channels at the same time, and I never had to get off the couch. I called in sick one day because I saw that I could flip between the east and west coast feeds and see all three of them from morning until bedtime. They're my knitting movies. The first hour of 'The Transporter' gets to be a part of that club, too. I like watching him drive, fight and banter with the French detective, but the movie loses me after his house blows up.

My favorite? I'd have a hard time picking just one. When I took the pictures, 'High Plains Drifter' lept out at me.

My friend has strict criteria for movies. "Does it have a shark? Do things blow up? Does anyone get eaten alive by some fantastical creature? No? Then I'm not interested." I'm happy to say that about half of our DVD collection meets her standards.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Friday Fridge Festival

Sometimes I do things that make me laugh to myself, at myself. Every Friday at noon, we get an e-mail from the office services group. "Please clean your items out of the refrigerator by 5:00 on Saturday or it will be thrown away." Every Friday at 3:00, I think to myself, "Dammit! I brought in all of those healthy snacks on Monday, and I forgot about all of them! I'd better get to the eatin' before it's too late!" I run for the kitchen and pull out everything I've stowed in the fridge for the past week. I find it silly to bring food in at the beginning of the week, only to turn around and haul it home at the end. If it's here, it's going to be eaten here, no matter what sickening Friday afternoon food combinations have to happen as a result.

The upshot of this is that I just drank an exceptionally cold can of V8 juice in under a minute. Half a can into it, mid-gulp, I caught sight of my reflection in the side of the metal paper towel dispenser. My distorted image shook its head at me and gave me a tight little smile, like the one in the picture above. I think it would have laughed, had its soft palatte not been frozen by the ice-cold river of pureed tomato and kale.

I'm currently staring at a peach yogurt, a banana and a 12oz bottle of Powerade, and I've got about 20 minutes to figure out how to choke all of that down before I leave. At least none of it is staring back at me. Which is more than I can say for the trout.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I was helping my friend rearrange her garage this weekend. By 'helping' I mean 'sitting on a bistro chair, watching her work'. She did a bang-up job, and I'd like to think that my moral support played a role. Anyway, while she was working in the dark recesses of the storage space, I knit the cowl of my Adrienne Vittadini sweater.

"Hey, cool dress form."

[From the back of the garage] "Do you guys remember giving us a shitload of grass seed?"

"What? No, not grass. Dress! I said 'cool DRESS form'."

"Yeah, and I'm holding a bucket of GRASS seed full of mouse droppings."

"Not something we'd do, giving you an open bucket of grain to put in your unused garage. We're not stupid, you know..."

The look I got? Oh, the look I got for that one. Because of course what was hanging at the end of that sentence, unsaid but certainly understood, was "...and if it wasn't us and it wasn't you, and we both know it wasn't here when you moved in, my money's on your husband doing it, which makes the months of him blaming you for the rodent problem because you left a single package of Cup-O-Noodle and a bag of Tootsie Pops out here really, REALLY funny."

"...but hey, when I'm done with my sweater can i borrow your dummy so that i can take pictures, because i think it's my size?"

She retreated back into the garage with her bucket of whole-grain mouse crap.

So, the details of the pullover. This is the Camille cowl shell from Adrienne Vittadini 27. I knit the small, and I didn't make any adjustments. I used eight whole balls and about three feet of the ninth to bind off the cowl. If I'd unraveled the swatch, I wouldn't have needed to use the ninth ball. The body was knit on birch needles, and the cowl was knit in the round on Addi Turbos. It took a little over a week to do, and I knit most of it while watching the first season of 'The Wire'.

The Camille yarn was easy to work with once I got the hang of pulling the slubbies through the stitches, but hard to seam. I should have seamed with a matching, smooth yarn. I knew once it was put together that I'd never be able to get it apart again, so I plunged forward and hoped for the best. Weaving in ends? I knew it wouldn't matter if I did it invisibly, because the yarn's so knobby that you wouldn't be able to tell. I put the tails through the eye of the needle, pulled through a few random stitches, tied knots, you name it. I'm sure it's not pretty, but then again, I'm not sure that even I can see where I did it, so it doesn't matter.

Oh, and the dress form isn't exactly my size. Its waist is about five inches smaller than mine, so the shell looks better on it than it does on me. Why? Because every night I make the split-second decision to drive home and knit instead of going to the gym. Dummy.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In The Library

I've got a confession to make. Batty, and all other librarians and bibliophiles, turn away. I'm not a good keeper of books. I have a lot of them, and almost all of them are boxed up in my attic. Those that are still out around the house aren't treated all that well. They're dusty, they've slipped into odd angles so that they're no longer stable on the shelves, they're stacked up on the floor. I love them all like a kid loves a teddy bear, but not like a librarian would love them. They take some damage.

Realizing that we're going to live in this house for many years, probably decades, and that there aren't places for bookshelves, I boxed up most of the books a while back. Only my favorites, the art books and the few forgotten volumes are still out.

The books above are the forgotten ones. There's a book about Rembrandt's studio practice, and a tiny copy of The Book of Kells. There's a book about Tulare that I found, improbably enough, at a yard sale a couple of streets over from my house in Concord. 'A View From The Witch's Cave' is a collection of Basque folklore. Art books that are either too big or too heavy to pack, a book about pirates, and a coffeetable book about Quantas Airlines. There's also a book on the history of Tulare, written by my high school math teacher, Mr. Dummermuth. The 'Mexico' book was used as a textbook in one of my first classes in Santa Barbara. It weighs about twelve pounds. I had to carry it to class. And these are my favorites. I don't read the books in the first two pictures. I've read these eight books over and over. These are, from left to right, the 'His Dark Materials' series, 'Go Down, Moses' by Faulkner, 'The Crying of Lot 49' by Pynchon, 'Bloodsucking Fiends', 'The Maltese Falcon', and 'Metamorphoses'. Favorite book number nine, 'Stormy Weather' by Carl Hiassen, is on loan to my mom. If I only had those nine books to read, I'd be happy.

That's it, except for cookbooks and the knitting library. I'd like to say that I have an extensive and beautiful library on display in my house, but that's not how it turned out. I'm more than a little jealous of those of you with built-ins. Ah, well. At least I don't have to dust all of those shelves.

Buddy Loves Rocky

Wait a moment, the Woman! That is not at all what I wanted you to say in the title. I want it to read "Gilded Cage of Fury: The Buddy the Cat Story". There should be a picture of me killing something, or eating something I've killed, or perhaps taking down the dog as though she were an undersized Cape buffalo. The tone is all wrong. Correct it immediately.

Yeah, but guy? You love The Rock. Just admit it. Look at the smile on your face.

I fell asleep reading, the Woman. I don't publicly embarrass you when you're caught off guard...

...caught off guard loving Rocky Maivia, son of Rocky Johnson, grandson of High Chief Peter Maivia...

You seem to know a lot about this, the Woman. Methinks you doth protest too much.

So I'm a fan. I had WWF figurines on my wedding cake. I know things about wrestling. This isn't about me. It's about you and your forbidden love for The People's Champion.

It's about your lack of appreciation for my innate elegance and suaveness. Your jealousy has made you mad.

Oh. Right. Nice lip mole, Scratchy.

The Woman! Stop this instant! I demand that you put up a picture of me that shows my charm and grace.

How about this one?

Please, for the love of God, stop.

Why? Are you afraid your secret boyfriend The Rock is going to see it? You luuuuuuuvv him. You know who else you love? You love Accountant Boy.

Yes, that's a given. He feeds me and he plays koosh-ball-on-a-wire with me. Good man, Accountant Boy...

...and you love Lucy...

I don't love her. I certainly don't miss her when she's not in the house. I don't meow at the door until you let her in because I miss her. I miss HUNTING her. Completely different. And this is an old picture. And I don't love her.

Rumor has it that you might, on occasion, even love me.

I do love you, the Woman. Let's not argue on this further. Why don't we forget the whole incident, yes? You won't post this entry, will you? It would be terribly embarrassing if other writers saw it. I'm trying to shop 'Gilded Cage' to publishing houses, and reputation...

Oh, Buddy. Your secrets are safe with me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Look at me! Knitting!

After Bristow, I needed a project that was fast and mindless, but ultimately rewarding. When I saw this sleeveless cowl shell in the Patternworks catalog, I knew I had to have it, in the yarn pictured, in the color pictured. I wasn't counting on it looking like pickle relish. It's not easy to work with, what with the slubbies and the almost complete lack of elasticity and all, but I like it anyway. It's coming along quickly. I might have the whole thing done by the weekend.

I promise I'm not trying to knit a muppet, and no acrylic frogs were injured in the making of this pullover.

Ermmm...Suzanne? Speaking of muppets, don't you think it's time you let me in on the action around here? Not 'coz I'm a muppet, but you know. The whole 'filled with all new materials' business makes me and Fozzy kinda like cousins. -- Belligero

Oh, dammit! I forgot about Belligero the Clown. He's been popping up around here for weeks, and I haven't properly introduced him. He's our traveling companion, going everywhere we go when we travel more than a few miles from our house. It's a long story, and you know what? Tonight's not the night for it. Sorry, Clown.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


We've all had our brushes with celebrity. I met David Doyle, Bosley from 'Charlie's Angels', while I was working at Golden Corral Family Steakhouse. I was too shy to ask for his autograph, and when I went home and told my mom, she drove me right back there and made me ask him to sign a napkin for me. I don't know where the napkin is today. Accountant Boy met Perry King from 'Riptide' while bagging groceries at BelAir market. You know the guy who plays that guy in 'Ghostbusters II' and 'Wayne's World'? Yeah, I know that guy's dad. My dad plays golf with him. These types of encounters are so commonplace that we've become jaded. We live in California, after all.

But nothing could have prepared me for Las Vegas. You'll never guess who I met in Las Vegas.

O.K., I can't be sure, because I didn't know if it was polite to ask, but I think, I think that this is Kahless the Unforgettable, uniter of the Klingons and their first emperor. Sure, I'd had a few too many sips of the Warp Core Breach at Quark's Bar. Sure, I have a hard time telling the Klingons apart, if you'll forgive me for sounding racist by saying so. But I'm pretty sure this was Kahless, and not the clone.

"I'm gonna go ask for him to take a picture with Belligero the Clown."

"You're what?"

"Look, now that the Andorian's gone to the restroom, I've got a clear shot at him."

"The what went where? Are you drunk???"

"It'll be funny and we'll never forget it for as long as we live and we'll look at the picture and laugh and laugh. Don't bogart the rest of m'drink, 'kay?"

I walked up and asked him if he'd mind my taking his picture, and he said only if I was in the picture, too. He let me grab his bat'leth. I let him make bad double entendres about Jeffries tubes. It was a fair exchange.

Accountant Boy was concerned when I returned to the table. "Did he make a grab for the gals?"

"He's a Klingon, baby, not friggin' Riker chattin' up an Orion slave girl."

"Obviously he's not Riker, 'cause Riker would have tried to slip you the tongue, and I would have had to throw down. Hey, how do you know all of the names of the aliens?" He squinted at me, the realization finally coming to him. "You're a Trekkie? I married a Trekkie? I feel so betrayed and filthy!"

"We'd better get 'nother one of these smokin' drinks..."

Accountant Boy had his own brush with fame. See the guy just to the left of him? No, that's Belligero. Left of Belligero. No, that's a Miller Lite cup. Left of the...yeah, that guy. I think he came in fourth at the Tropicana's pool party belly flop contest. Fourth place! He's practically a superstar. And we were mere feet from him. I'm all tingly just remembering it. A.B. and I often bemoan the loss of cheap, entertaining Vegas. It's all become so commercial and vast. My friends, the cheap entertainment isn't gone. For two bucks a beer, you can sit in a rickety lounge chair by the pool at the Trop and laugh your pants off. Literally, apparently.

Wait a moment, the Woman. Put in the snapshot of me and my old chums Frank and Joey. Oh, we had such good times, chatting and playing baccarat... -- Buddy the Cat

Buddy? Too far, guy. Too far. Our famous encounters were both true. You were never at Yalta. far as you know. -- BtC

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why I Love Accountant Boy

I'm having a rough night with the computers. None of the music services will work with my MP3 player, Rhapsody keeps signing me out and trying to update itself, and all I wanted to do was add some songs so that I can have something to look forward to at the gym.

I spent two hours trying to get everything working, and I got so mad that I was almost crying. Buddy the Cat kept pawing me and meowing. "Buddy?! What the hell, guy? I DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME!" In response, I received "Mrrrow?", and then a paw to the back of my head. Frustrated, I stormed off into the office.

A few minutes later, I heard the opening strains of Corey Hart's 'Never Surrender' playing on the television.

"Hey. C'mere."


"Just come out here for a second."

I walked out, and right into his arms. He proceded to middle-school slow dance with me through the whole song. Step to left, step to right, repeat. Toward the end of the song, he made a grab for my ass, just like an eighth-grader would. I laughed through the whole thing.

"You looked like you needed a break."

I love Accountant Boy.


We own a house. We own a 53-year-old house. We need a lot of tools.

When we moved into this house, way back in 1999, we had a handful of tools. We had a little hammer that unscrewed at the base to reveal a tiny screwdriver set hidden in the handle. We had a socket set in the back of Accountant Boy's Honda, and we might have had some Elmer's glue. Not too sure about the glue.

We now have a 5 1/2' tall toolchest full of screwdrivers, wrenches, saws, pliers, tape measures, levels, hammers and mallets, a Dremel set and a drawer full of utility knives. I know what's in there, because I'm a big dork, so I labeled every drawer. Ironically, the label maker doesn't fit in a drawer, so it's thrown into the top bin of the chest, which is where we throw all of the uncategorized tools.

The shelf unit holds all of our glues, solvents, oils, paint strippers, wallboard joint compound and tape, light bulbs, batteries, our safety equipment, a circular saw, a jig saw, an orbiting sander, a corded drill, a cordless drill, a pipe snake, a caulking gun, the 'big box o' plumbing' and a couple of extension cords.

There's stuff on there that I can't identify. I don't know when we ever used it. For example, what did we ever do with this stuff? It's been on the shelf for probably six years. I didn't buy it, and I don't remember either of us ever using it. I asked Accountant Boy, and he doesn't remember it, either.

"Then how did it get there? Magic garage elves? 'Heeheeheeee! They'll never know if it's cool to throw this shit away!' Friggin' garage elves..."

"I think someone's been spending too much time out there. Why don't you throw that stuff out and come inside."

"Nah. I'm kinda scared to toss it. What if we need it again?"

"We'll buy more."

"Why would we do that when we have already have a jar of it. Right. Here."

That sums up the tool situation right there. We don't know where half of it came from, and we use half of what we do know about.

I do have favorites, though. Putting aside my obvious love of the hammer and prybar, this is my favorite tool. It's an ergonomic paintbrush, designed to fit the contours of a right-handed painter's palm. I bought it to paint my parents' living room, and it somehow made its way back to Concord with me. Imagine that.

Coming in a close second are these shoes. They're not supposed to be work shoes, but I've worn them on every big job we've undertaken on the house. They're Doc Martens, and they weigh about four pounds each. I wear them to stomp debris down into the bed of the work truck. I wear them to Home Depot and prop sheets of wallboard up off the ground across the toes. I don't wear them if I'm climbing a ladder, because they're not the least bit flexible. They're my heavy work shoes. No matter how much grime and muck and clay I cake onto them, they still polish to a nice shine, and I can still wear them to almost any casual event. I've had them for ten years, and they're not showing any signs of wear. They make me feel tall, yet steady on my feet. You know, maybe they ARE my favorite tools.