31 December 2009

The best way to begin anything

This video has been out since July, but I just saw it for the first time today. Definitely ranks high for me among web videos, and it's the best wedding entrance I've ever seen.

I don't really expect to get married, but after hearing the bride and groom's first song, "Why Do Fools Fall In Love?" at a friend's wedding years ago, I started making a playlist for my nonexistent reception so future busyness would not doom me to such a song. For the first time ever, I started to consider what my wedding, if ever such a thing were to occur, might be like: duration of ceremony, clothes, food, and of course, music.

I'm not a get-walked-down-the-aisle-by-Dad sort of person, but otherwise I hadn't given it much thought. What I love about Jill and Kevin's entrance is that it's fun; the music and dancing take out the solemness and stiffness and replace it with joy.

I would like to say: YES! If ever... Something like that... but I don't currently know enough people who I'd want in my hypothetical wedding who'd be willing to dance down the aisle. Guess I should I work on that. :)

3 years ago on TTaT: The books of 2006

30 December 2009

Vestigial lists

In recent years, I've found it curious what my family won't buy me for xmas. Don't get me wrong: I'm very grateful for the loot they've given me. However, there are items no matter how many times they've appeared on my lists, what level of high priority I've given them on Amazon, or how much I've talked them up, that they just don't buy. If I were asking for pygmy goats*, ponies, or Porsches: items expensive, difficult to acquire or maintain, I'd get it, but that's not the case.

I thought I had it figured out this year, gamed the system if you will, but I was wrong.

The first time, several years back, it was just a DVD. I'd mentioned two on my list: Legally Blonde and But I'm a Cheerleader. My parents and my brother and his wife both got me copies of Legally Blonde**. (I exchanged 1 copy for the other DVD and now routinely remind them all to cross-reference their shopping lists.) That case I chalk up to familiarity: they picked the movie they'd heard of.

The Amazon catch as I think of it is that their wishlists display the date you added items. My parent's logic is that if an item's been there for years, you would have bought it yourself if you really wanted it. Which makes sense except for borderline items. You don't need them or crave them enough to buy yourself, but they'd be really cool to have. That's why I picked up a couple now out-of-print DVDs for my sister-in-law from the early days of her list this year despite having to deal with third party sellers.

To get past the Amazon catch, I added another version of DDR to my list this fall, rating both DDR games high with everything else the default medium or even low. The third party sellers were likely the deal-breaker this year, however. Shipping & handling pillage, anyone?

Or it may have been as simple as them thinking that I already have one DDR game, so why not get something new? I get that.

What really makes me laugh this year is that my Mom often comments on how particular the items on my lists are (often true), so this year I included generic requests, i.e., brands and styles weren't important, and got none of them.

Getting a list from my Mom, on the other hand, was excruciating and what was most clear about her pitifully short list was that she'd rather get something that wasn't on it. Mission accomplished.

As for DDR, I've hit the tipping point. I'm going to buy myself a new version to play before they go out of print. And in the meantime, I'll play with the rest of my cool loot.

Is there anything on your list that your family continues to bypass? Or is that just me?

*OK, technically I have but only in jest.
** Rather good commentary tracks actually.

A year ago on TTaT: And then the week seemed short

20 December 2009

Last minute wrapping tips redux plus bonus tips

Bonus tip #1: If you want some wrapping inspiration, check out Andrea Seigel's theme wrapping. Bows aren't the only accessories you can add to a gift and you don't have to use traditional tags.

Bonus tip #2, advanced: Use double-stick tape when wrapping for a seamless look. (I still did the ends with regular tape since I was not up for that additional level of hassle this year.)


These tips assume you know the basics of wrapping and are meant to make the process a little easier and the results more satisfying.

1. Work on a large, hard, flat surface.
A table is ideal, so you can sit most of the time while you work. Your bed may seem tempting, but it is too soft if you want to make those crisp wrapping paper edges. Put a board on it, you say. OK, but make sure it's hard. I used one of those large, thick cardboard things for cutting sewing patterns, but the folds in it caused me all sorts of trouble since it didn't lie completely flat. Also, standing and bending over the whole time will wear you out in no time.

If you don't have a table that will work, make plan B the floor but avoid carpets with a thick pile.

2. To make your wrapping look neat, don't cut too much paper for your package.
This is the main key to avoiding crumpled, sloppy edges.

Make sure you have enough paper to cover your package end-over-end on all four sides plus a couple inches.

Then for the other 2 sides, you want a little more than will cover 1 of those sides completely. (When you wrap the paper around the package the long way, it will effectively double up so both sides will get covered. Just be sure to center your package on the paper left to right.)

3. Don't cut too little paper for your package.
If your cutting goes awry as it inevitably will when the hour is late, don't go crazy starting from scratch if it's just missing by a small amount. Cut a strip of paper large enough to cover the gap and place it under the seam where the paper was supposed to meet. Then place your tape from one edge, across the strip, to the other edge and it will hold it all together.

If it will look neater putting your bandaid strip of paper on top, do that, but it will take a lot more tape to hold in place.

Wrapping purists and perfectionists may disagree with the patch theory, but when the hour is late and the paper is short, this is the way to go.

4. If your package is slim and vertical, wrap it on its side if it's OK to rest it that way.
I know from experience that it's a lot harder to wrap these sorts of things standing upright. Avoid it if you can. If not, I refer you again to #1.

5. Crease the edges for a sharp look.
Once your package is wrapped, but before it is bowed, run your knuckles along each of the edges to give the paper more of a crease on its corners. (E.g., one knuckle on the top while the other runs next to it on the side.) Make sure to run your knuckles over any seams in the direction that won't rip the paper. Doing so will also prevent potential paper-cuts.

6. Even if you finish wrapping early, you may not be done.
It's likely family members will enlist your help wrapping their gifts. If you can't get out of it--or want to be nice--offer to help with the stocking stuffers. Roll stuff up in tissue paper, fold over the ends, tape and you're done. In my house at least, stocking stuffers need not be neatly wrapped. Failing that, offer to wrap a few packages but leave the bows and ribbon to them. Gift garnish is a real time and momentum killer.

Those are the main things that come to mind without getting into a full-on tutorial. Share your own tips and revelations in the comments. Good luck!

Two years ago on TTaT: Having a brother

19 December 2009

45. Abelardo Morell

45. Abelardo Morell photography by Abelardo Morell; foreword by Richard B. Woodward (4.5/5)

Some very cool still lifes, but the photos I like best are his camera obscura shots--just excellent. I want to try that.

I definitely recommend reading the foreword as well. It's short and informative discussing modern and post-modern artists, and where Morell fits into the mix. It also provides useful tidbits about Morell's photographic process.

Tons of cool shots on Abelardo Morell's website as well. The camera obscura shots in color are really something. Yea internet!

A year ago on TTaT: The snow began

15 December 2009

Astley & Fitch

A few weeks ago at a mall beyond my usual realm, I walked into an Abercrombie store to see what they had these days. Guess they've dropped the "Fitch", I thought to myself. There was a lot of faux-wear, seams on the outside, and plaids that didn't interest me among the clothes. The shortness and skinniness of the pants and shirts didn't strike me as unusual since I'm forever wandering into petite sections by mistake.

As I walked further in, scanning the clothes laid out on tables and the promotional posters of sexy half-naked men and women, I thought, Damn, these clothes are all really small. Maybe they've changed their target audience to the 0 to 4 crowd. Then I finally saw a sign that read: Abercrombie Kids. Really? Are you fucking kidding me? Damn. I walked out.

Around a corner and across the hall about fifty feet away, I spotted Abercrombie & Fitch. I went in and it had the same sexy posters and the same clothes, just larger.

A couple weeks after that, I was on another shopping adventure in a different cardinal direction. I spotted another Abercrombie store and was reasonably certain it was the kid's store. I poked my head in briefly to confirm my thought because I didn't want to have to walk back if I had misremembered which was which.

Further down the hall, I walked into Abercrombie & Fitch. They were not playing Christmas music which was a glorious reprieve. I looked at sweaters and scarves and soaked in the familiar pop tune. The really familiar pop tune. They were playing Rick Astley's "Together Forever." It wasn't "Never Gonna Give You Up," but I still stopped and looked around waiting for someone to tell me I'd been Rickrolled. I wandered through the rest of the store thinking what an odd music choice that was for their store soundtrack. The moment I crossed the store's threshold, the music switched from "Together Forever" to a recent pop tune. Weird.

I'm not paranoid though. much.

3 years ago on TTaT: 46. East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

11 December 2009

My cold, it's good for this at least

So...the cold: the having of it sucks. It's been kicking my ass the past couple days and nothing I've taken has eliminated my symptoms, perhaps ameliorated them though so maybe it could be worse.

Last night I kept waking up every couple of hours. Around 4 AM, I looked out the window next to my bed. The curtain--just one panel on that window--was mostly shut but I'd left it a few inches open on one side. The sky was so clear, a lush midnight blue, with myriad bright stars. And then a bright shooting star zoomed by with its long trail within the confines of my limited view. It was awesome despite the not being able to breathe.

09 December 2009

Heifer International

Heifer International is a rockin' charity that's working to end world hunger.

Watch this 60-second video from Alton Brown to learn how Heifer's animal gifts give struggling families the tools to achieve self-reliance.

[Alas, no longer available.]

Truly awesome. Visit the Heifer site for more info about their projects and approach (gender equity--hell yeah!).

But wait, there's more! Author Patrick Rothfuss is running a Heifer International fundraiser with loads of loot you could win by lottery, bid for in auctions, or just buy with proceeds going to Heifer. Lots of books--many signed, music, and other cool stuff. I may hold out for a t-shirt or to see what Joss Whedon donated (Joss freaking Whedon!). Here is Pat's FAQ for more info.

ETA: 50% of your donation will be matched if you donate through one of Rothfuss's options!

A year ago on TTaT: And then there was calm, at least temporarily

08 December 2009


There were lines at every register at the grocery store. I scoped the options and picked the register that had one person waiting even though she had a full cart of items. A full-to-the-top cart of items. I second-guessed myself for a moment but none of the other lines seemed much better so I decided to wait. Once the scanning starts, it's just one transaction so it won't take that long.

I held the stocking stuffer I'd snagged for my dad and watched the black woman ahead of me--early forties?--place a rack of ribs on top of the first layer of food items now covering the conveyor belt. (Ribs aren't racist, are they? I just noticed them because they looked appetizing.) She glanced at me and my one item and went back to unloading her cart. It still looked mostly full, but I'd accepted the need to wait so it didn't bother me.

She looked my way again and I could see her considering my single item versus her multitude of items. I knew I could ask to go in front of her but she was rightfully there first and I didn't mind. The person in line ahead of the black woman finished her transaction and was gathering up her things.

The third time the black woman looked at me, she said, "Just one thing?"

"Yup." I smiled and shrugged.

She summoned me with the inch long nail on her forefinger and said, "That's just silly, you with one thing waiting behind all this."

As I slid past her cart and her, I said, "Thank you."

I handed the cashier my item and paid for it in cash and proper change. The cashier handed me my receipt and bills and said, "Have a nice night."

"Thanks, you too."

The black woman was still unloading her cart, her back to me, but I paused and said, "Thank you very much."

She turned and said, "Sure thing," at the same time the cashier said, "You're welcome."

A year ago on TTaT: Long Shot

05 December 2009

Gettin' My Groove On... (vol. xiii)

...with a winter wonderland:

Claire and reflection of winter wonderlandclaire's reflection of winter wonderlandClaire points to reflection of winter wonderland
(Previous grooves.)

Initially I was going to tweet about the falling snow and coated tree limbs but it seemed lame not to include a photo. If I had a laptop, I'd just swing it around and take one. I could borrow a digital camera but I don't feel like monkeying around with uploading afterwards. That's when I turned and saw the mirror leaning against my closet door. Not stellar representations of winter perhaps but entertaining for me to shoot.

If you feel deprived of a proper winter wonderland, check out these posts:
  • Film is better...

  • I'm dreaming of a...

  • Fallen snow

  • A year ago on TTaT: Dear ABC execs: Don't cancel Pushing Daisies

    03 December 2009

    As long as it's sir with respect...

    So it's been a few months since I got my haircut and it's been at the decidedly shaggy stage for a couple weeks. Usually I just let it grow all through winter, style be damned, because I hate it when my neck is cold. This time, however, I just wasn't feeling the shaggy.

    With coupon in hand and mid-fifties weather, I decided to roll the dice at SuperCuts. The lone black man in the shop threw me a bit since I'd never seen a man working there before, but he was friendly so I signed in for my cut. His accent made me think of the Caribbean, but I really couldn't place it for certain. Besides, he said he'd lived in Brooklyn so he could easily have lived in the US all his life and still have an unusual accent.

    As I sat down in the chair, he said, "When you first came in, I thought you were a boy. I'm sorry."

    I shrugged and said, "That's OK."

    I've been mistaken for male numerous times over decades. I'm tall, most of my clothes are masculine (I like dark colors and usable pockets--what of it?), I don't wear makeup, and I don't have a big rack to tip people off. Doesn't seem to matter if my hair is pulled back in a barrette or down. If someone calls me "sir" out of politeness, I'm not going to make an issue of it. Often they soon realize the mistake on their own and apologize.

    When I've told family and friends about various mistaken gender encounters, they regard me in disbelief. They just don't see how someone could that mistake which is sweet but clearly biased.

    What was unusual in this instance is that he made the assumption and realized his mistake before saying anything to me but then felt compelled to tell me anyway. I don't know what the point of that was or what he expected me to say. I'm not going to apologize for or justify the clothes I wear, or my lack of makeup and earrings. I think he was just saying what crossed his mind, but with a different inflection it could so easily have been mean or come across as an attempt to embarrass me.

    I do not fit your expectations; I get it and I'm good with that.

    A year ago on TTaT: Prop 8 - The Musical

    02 December 2009

    Hiccups and epistaxis

    It was late and I was exhausted after a long day. All that was left was to wash my face and I'd be ready for bed.

    That's when the coughing fit started. I tried to be quiet so as not to disturb the sleeping without much success. Well without success in being quiet. I didn't hear anyone stir. The coughing let up but then I felt my nose start to run a little. Wondered whether I could leave it since I didn't want to start another coughing jag. Decided no, it would drive me nuts to leave it, and it's just as well I did since it wasn't running but bleeding.

    Just the one nostril and not too heavily but enough.

    That's when the hiccups started. I walked back to my room, tissue stuffed up one nostril, willing my diaphragm to be calm. I sipped some water and thought calm breathing thoughts. The hiccups slowed but did not stop.

    It was after 2 AM and I just wanted to go to sleep. What to do.

    Checked my breasts for lumps but the hiccups and nosebleed had not subsided by the time I finished. Now what? I would use twitter but my computer's not on. Maybe I should set up my cell to tweet. I could use restraint, right? Well, that doesn't help me now. If the hiccups would stop, I could sleep with a tissue up my nose. But I don't want to get blood on my pillow and the last time I fell asleep with a tissue up one nostril, I dreamt that I was shot because I actually couldn't breathe when the other nostril plugged up.

    I looked at the clock: 2:20. Several seconds would pass and I'd think maybe they've stopped, but then hic! I placed my cool hand on the back of my neck. I'd read somewhere that was supposed to help stop nosebleeds but I'd yet to have any definitive success with the technique. I looked at the stack of books I'm reading but was too tired to deal with any of them.

    I could try drinking water upside down!

    I picked up my water bottle, leaned over, and wondered How do people do this? All I could picture was spilling water all over myself which I was not in the mood for. Then--it felt brilliant because I was so tired--I took a swig right-side up but then leaned over to swallow it.

    I waited a few seconds. Nothing. I waited some more. Still nothing. Are you kidding me? Did that actually just work? OK then.

    The epistaxis had also finally stopped so I gratefully shut off the light and crawled into bed.

    A year ago on TTaT: Men's

    28 November 2009

    Nothing but good attitude

    Just thought I'd share my motto for enduring this holiday shopping season: Nothing but good attitude. It ran through my head when I was out yesterday and today, sometimes as a little song which amused me in and of itself. My experience was quite pleasant over all with the added bonus of decent parking spots.

    It also helps to know that I will not fight or struggle with someone over any item. If they want it that badly, they can have it. Not that I'm getting up early for anything--I don't do early if I can help it. If a store doesn't have or is sold out of what I want, it's no big loss. I concede that it helps immensely that no one I'm shopping for is all that picky. Except me, now that I think about it, so I will endeavor to do my family a solid and give them lots of options.

    Scored a nice hard drive for cheap at 3:30 PM yesterday even though it rang up incorrectly. So glad I’d brought the flyer with me. Sure my gracious patience as they struggled with the security lock didn’t hurt either.

    Also, I saw nuns at the mall. And an Indian woman in a sari. Black Friday’s a lot of artificial hype (a lot of sales were really no better than usual) but there’s no better opportunity to see many different types of people out where I live.

    If you've got any shopping to do this season, I hope it all goes smoothly for you. (Watch out for the attractive but distracting shiny things at full retail price.)

    A year ago on TTaT: Tofurkey haiku

    25 November 2009

    Thanksgiving haiku: Back to the Future

    DVR'ing the
    parade for the first time.
    No host banter-- yea!

    DVR freedom:
    I will skip ahead to the
    bands and big balloons.

    Neighbors' tree is up,
    as is their most impressive
    light display. Bravo!

    Thanksgiving haiku of years past:

    Check out the comments on those posts for more T-day haiku from other bloggers, and please feel free to add your own here. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

    24 November 2009

    The Tornado Building Painting

    Tornado Building Painting
    Senior year of high school, I had this vivid dream in which a building twisted into a tornado. Then I painted it. When I was awake, not in the dream.

    Came across the painting a few days ago, and I still like it despite the fact that I have an aversion to yellow. Clothes, mostly, it's kind of a situational yellow aversion. No yellow cars, clothes, or houses for me, but an image of vibrant sun or a quirky duck or yellow cake with chocolate frosting? Those I can dig.

    A year ago on TTaT: Life images online

    20 November 2009

    Dance Dance Revolution: from ridiculous to sublime

    Dance Dance Revolution:

    Also, for what it's worth, DDR Max 2 is a great version of the game for PS2.

    Dance Dance Revolution: The Metaphor

    (The DDR story so far: First Encounter, The Beginning, The Journey, The Philosophy)

    A couple weeks ago, Havi Brooks of The Fluent Self wrote an intriguing post which inspired my recent DDR series. (Thank you, Havi!) In "You don't need to take the leap," she writes:
    I have to say, all the talk about leaps of faith and jumping off cliffs and waiting for nets to appear is … kind of disturbing.

    ... the most important thing about these kinds of internal cliffs is remembering that they are not cliffs … and then rebuilding the metaphor. Transforming it into something that isn’t so impossibly scary.

    ...We have more than enough fear to process in our lives already without turning each transition into the kind of experience that throws our nervous systems into panic and terror.

    In the comments (well worth a look), people devised new metaphors for themselves. Amy Crook's particularly caught my eye:
    This makes me think of hopscotch. Like, when you’re a kid, and you’ve drawn up this whole chalk outline of where you’re going and what you’re going to do next. Then you stand there, and right then you’re just a kid standing on a sidewalk, but then, you jump. And all of a sudden, you’re playing hopscotch, you’re on the path and you can’t get off because you made that first magic jump, and now there’s nothing for it but to keep going.

    Even if my chalk outline isn’t perfect, I think it’s about time to jump in with both feet.

    The hopscotch metaphor felt familiar somehow even though I never played it much as a kid. I liked the idea of using a game for the transitional metaphor, but the prescribed boxes of hopscotch seemed too concrete to me. I needed something with more flexibility, a free-form hopscotch.

    Then it hit me: Dance Dance Revolution. Songs have prescribed step patterns, but there are many ways to accomplish them. It's even possible to add steps without penalty. Making mistakes is no big deal. Even failing provides useful experience in the game, and is often a natural consequence of leveling up.

    You get better by playing. You get better faster by playing above your skill level, i.e., challenging your limits. The songs are short, so trying any of them out isn't a big commitment. When part of a song is really difficult, you can slow it down in training mode so you can develop muscle memory. Or you can try an easier difficulty level, or exercise mode which cuts out freeze steps, or another song with another step pattern.

    The possibilities are many and varied. Though having too many choices is often a stumbling block for me, the low stakes of a game of DDR make it easier to try things out. Also, it's fun which makes DDR the perfect transitional metaphor for me.

    What would yours be?

    Three years ago on TTaT: My brain is numb, a post about the overwhelming selection of DDR dance pads available--ha!

    19 November 2009

    Dance Dance Revolution: The Philosophy

    (The DDR story so far: First Encounter, The Beginning, The Journey)

    By the time I got my own home version of Dance Dance Revolution four and a half years after I first started playing, I realized the game was a lot more to me than a form of exercise and entertainment.

    When I play DDR, it reminds me:
    Be in the moment.

    Don't be afraid to fail.

    Misstep? Keep going.

    Don't take it too seriously.

    Enjoy the silliness of it. Laugh, particularly at myself when I get too serious anyway.

    If I really want to improve my score for a particular song, practice. Better yet, practice at a difficulty level beyond my ability; I'll improve faster and will likely do better than I expected.

    When my brain says a step pattern is too hard for me, find a new yet familiar way to think of it. (I had a very hard time with corners--jumps which require hitting an up or down arrow at the same time as a left or right arrow--until I stopped calling them impossible and redefined them as rotated up-down or left-right jumps which were easy for me.)

    Amidst the chaos of seizure-inducing graphics, scrolling arrows, music, and a dude's audio commentary, hitting
    perfects is very satisfying.

    Playing the game is an energizing break.

    Adding flair and playing songs in new ways is fun.

    Check out the backgrounds and dance moves of the digital characters from time to time even though tunnel vision makes following the arrows easier.

    Don't think too much, stay in the body. (For a long time, hearing the announcer say I'd achieved a 100 step streak would precipitate a misstep within the next five arrows.)

    When I'm able to dance a song well while distracted, it's time for a new challenge.
    I try to maintain much of my DDR outlook in the rest of my life, but some lessons are easy to forget when the stakes are significant. Fortunately, it only takes a quick game to reset my brain.


    A year ago on TTaT: #11-15 (omg, so good)

    14 November 2009

    Dance Dance Revolution: The Journey

    (The DDR story so far: First Encounter, The Beginning)

    Songs played in the beginner level of DDR proved difficult for me to pass when I first started playing because the step patterns were so slow that you wouldn't get into the rhythm of the song. Once I discovered that I could pass songs in Light or Trick mode, DDR became a whole lot of fun.

    Individual songs were rated for difficulty on a scale of 1 to 10 feet. Most songs had multiple step patterns so they could be played at any difficulty level. Some songs had no easy levels. My friend Bradley was adept at passing 5 and 6 foot songs with As. I encouraged her to try playing the next higher level of difficulty. She was reluctant because she hadn't perfected the level she was at, but when I returned to play a week later, it was amazing to see how much better she'd gotten while achieving lower scores on songs at greater difficulty. AAs and AAAs, grades I didn't even know existed, were now the norm for her on the old 5 and 6 foot songs. She was also able to pass songs like Hysteria which had previously been out of reach.

    My progress was slower because I didn't get to play every day. Even though I was now passing songs, I generally scored a range of Bs to Es depending on how difficult the individual song was.

    Interpreting the seizure inducing graphics of the game and its bright scrolling arrows entailed learning a new language. Blue arrows indicated syncopated or rapid tap steps. For a Freeze arrow to count, your foot couldn't leave the arrow until the stretched out arrow had passed. Jumps required hitting two arrows at once; Up-Downs and Left-Rights were fine, but "Corners," steps that required you to hit an up or down arrow at the same time as a left or right arrow, were beyond me. They seemed harder and my brain just couldn't get my feet to do them for the longest time. Some sequences were like old aerobics moves, simple step-touches, that my body already knew. Playing was a process of learning and practice.

    Later that year, I put most of my stuff in storage and left town, embarking on what would become a seven month long road trip in pursuit of the perfect place to live. A few weeks later, across the continent in Los Angeles, I enthusiastically described DDR to a good friend. She was intrigued, went online and discovered DDRFreak and its super useful machine locator. We set off for a nearby arcade in Koreatown to check out Pump It Up, a variation of DDR.

    As we walked up to the arcade, we noticed that none of the signage or games were in English. I understood how to play though, so how hard could it be? Instead of up, down, left, and right, Pump It Up's arrows were on the diagonals. The shifted arrows were enough to throw off my game, but this version also had sensors for hand motions you were supposed to do in tandem with the steps. During the key moment when you choose your difficulty level before playing, I had to guess because all the Asian characters were foreign to me. Definitely should've picked an easier level.

    I did my best, but there was too much new information to process at once for me to do well. Also, the other blaring games made it hard to hear the beat. I had not made a convert.

    Not long after, at Thanksgiving with friends, I discovered Ben loved DDR as much as I did. I'd met Ben and Chala at a mutual friend's wedding--the happy couple were now our Thanksgiving hosts--a year before. Ben thought DDRFreak was awesome and we soon found a machine. A bowling alley in Venice, California proved much more hospital for DDR than the Koreatown arcade had been.

    Ben and I played while the other three watched, too amused by the sight and afraid of looking like fools to try it themselves. We had a good time anyway.

    Five months later, I was staying with Ben and Chala in San Francisco. After 6 months on the road and the realization that nowhere is perfect, I was ready to give up and go home to my parents' house for a while. Chala had insisted I visit them first.

    Ben and I played DDR on his home setup. We recorded some music. I tagged along with them to sundry events and outings. One day I just broke down, went to a room by myself and couldn't stop crying. I didn't know Chala and Ben that well, so I was mortified. After a while, Ben came to the doorway and solemnly asked if I'd like to play DDR.

    I wiped the tears off my cheeks, looked at him, and said, "Sure."

    Playing Dance Dance Revolution did make me feel better. Later I realized it was because playing DDR required me to be in the moment. In the moment with songs I like? Even better.


    Three years ago on TTaT: The Road is my Favorite Place: Day 10

    11 November 2009

    Dance Dance Revolution: The Beginning

    When I first saw DDR in an arcade, I thought it was a ridiculous idea for a video game. I was 28. A few months later, I became friends with Bradley, a senior in college. One of her roommates owned a home version of DDR for his Playstation, and they played all the time.

    I was game to try it, so they set it up one summer afternoon. At the time, he only had one dance pad so we took turns playing songs. They directed me to the slowest songs at the easiest level, and I failed over and over and over while they passed more difficult songs and levels with grades of double or triple As. It was frustrating.

    They could have made fun of my dismal performance, but instead Bradley offered helpful suggestions and tips:
    "Start with your feet on the arrows, you don't have to step back to the center."

    "Don't wait to see the arrows line up at the top, step to the beat."

    "Get into the beat of the music before the arrows start."

    "As long as you step on the correct arrow on the screen, it doesn't matter if you're also stepping on other arrows."

    The game on the other hand had an announcer who would praise you if you were doing well and taunt you if you weren't from: "Did you have breakfast this morning?"

    "Are you feeling all right?"

    "You're not looking so good."

    up to "Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh!" as you fail.

    The maddening thing was that I didn't feel like I was that far off with my steps. Sometimes my timing was fine, but I wasn't quite lined up with the arrows on the pad. Often the sensors in the pad itself shifted, so even if you were perfectly centered on the arrow, it wouldn't register.

    I had just failed another song, so I stepped off for Bradley's turn, giving the pad a shake to realign its sensors.

    "Go again," she said.

    "Really?" I was ready to give up the whole thing, but she insisted. Well, if I'm going to fail I may as well pick a song I like. I scrolled through listening to snippets of songs until I came to Think Ya Better D. I selected it and then made a mistake, or rather the pad did as it registered two taps instead of one subjecting me to Trick mode, two levels above the Beginner mode I'd been playing. The song was rated with 4 feet whereas I had yet to pass a song rated with only 1 or 2.

    "Oh no, what do I do? How do I get back?"

    Bradley and her roommate both said, "You can't. Play!"

    To my surprise, the faster step pattern was actually easier. I flailed about to keep up and thought I was doomed when I got to the section with the quick taps, but I made it through. I passed a song on Trick! With a D or E, but I passed! I was thrilled and from that moment hooked on DDR.


    A year ago on TTaT: Remainders, 1 and 2

    10 November 2009

    Attack on the Peaceable Kingdom

    Often, I take back routes to see farm animals from the road. Seeing sheep, pygmy goats, llamas, cows, and ponies always brightens my day.

    I've described the wonder of it before:
    Llamas, they won't just spit in your eye
    Peaceable Kingdom

    So I'm distraught and angry that two of the llamas I've so often driven by were murdered by someone with bow and arrows in the middle of the night. Lest bow & arrows give you pause, there's nothing sportsmanlike about shooting llamas that are in a pen guarding sheep. This was no hunting accident as the perpetrator broke off the arrows at the entry points to remove evidence. Besides, they left the dead animals. This is just cruel, awful violence.

    I hope they find the cocksucking motherfucker responsible and lock them up for a very long time.

    Dance Dance Revolution: First Encounter

    March 17, 2002

    Caught a late matinee and then went for a walk to see what, if anything, was new at the mall. Most of it's one story, but at the end where the movie theatre is, it becomes two. That upper section is typically empty storefronts with the second floor of Parisian down at the end.

    As I walked up the escalator, I heard deep booming bass. Like most entertainment these days, it doesn't seem to count unless it's LOUD. A glass-walled arcade full of kids was at the top.

    I glanced in as I walked by and got the biggest grin, realizing I'd have to circle back to watch more.

    I'd call it the dumbest idea for a video game ever except that people were actually playing. “Dance remix.” It's big and practically right in the doorway of the joint.

    Two-player game. A small platform you have to stand on with up, down, left and right arrows arranged like points of a compass. You start with your feet planted on the left and right arrows and then... you dance. As far as I can tell it's basically “Simon says” as you watch arrows come up on the screen in front. The video display also has goofy looking dancers on it. There's a step for every bass beat and since it plays techno, it's fairly fast. At the end of a level?, it scores your accuracy.

    What was most amazing to me was that two young teenage boys were playing with a slew of people watching from behind. Of course, they both got perfect scores. Apparently there is a target audience for “Dance remix” after all.


    A year ago on TTaT: See one, Do one, ...

    09 November 2009

    Side effects of writing about one's voice

    Yesterday, while feeling frustrated, I wrote The literal sotto voce: behind the scenes of an introvert's voice. Timing is everything, as they say. Had I written it right after dinner, I wouldn't have played up not talking so much because in those moments it wouldn't really have been valid.

    During the night I had a long, vivid, what-the-fuck dream. As I mulled it over today, I realized it might very well have stemmed from my writing.

    It was Christmas eve and I was due to be hanged by my brother. Next to a fully decorated and lit Christmas tree surrounded by gifts in the living room. The gallows were set up beside it. The first attempt didn't take because the knots were all wrong: not a proper noose nor a proper weight bearing knot. I leaned forward, the rope against my neck, but it didn't tighten and after a few moments it slid off the gallows.

    The failure provided me a slight reprieve during which I suggested they might not want to hang me next to the tree for the sake of my 6 year old niece. Or for the ew factor of having someone executed in your living room. The suggestion was ignored, however, something about providing a nice image for me when I died.

    I had no sense that I'd done anything criminal, unsavory, or otherwise deserving a death penalty. Couldn't even say if I'd been tried in a legitimate legal sense. Didn't even have any ill will because of my fate. It was what it was.

    Eventually they--a couple of indeterminate guys, one who was my brother though he didn't look like him--got the knots sorted out on the gallows. But then my brother set me loose on the condition I be forever banished from home.

    Last thing I remember was walking down a road alone, the trees still aflame with autumn color.

    I don't know about the rest, but I think the hanging has to do with my throat actually being slightly raw. (Feels better today, huzzah!) The storyline was weird though. Not in the least alarming, just odd. Anyone else have an interpretation?

    Two years ago on TTaT: In case you didn't know, I support the WGA

    08 November 2009

    The literal sotto voce: behind the scenes of an introvert's voice

    It wasn't an argument, but the back and forth of their speech was rapid, sometimes overlapping, their volumes slightly raised, as each tried to make another point. I had been listening patiently for a while and had something to interject. I said a few words but was steamrolled over before I finished my first sentence. I tried again, raising my voice to their level, using my delivery to insist I be heard as part of the conversation.

    I felt my adrenaline rise as I rattled off my thought, and they heard it. I'm not sure it was worth it though. As I spoke with heightened urgency, I felt my energy surge forth with my words: the same energy I'd been using to avoid developing a sore throat or cold which I felt lurking on the periphery of my physical awareness. If this strength/life force/stamina--whatever you might choose to call it--was part of a reserve tank, it was gushing out of me unhindered while I spoke.

    The sensation reminded me of an episode of The L Word I'd recently seen that portrayed so well to me the effort that oral communication takes by showing deaf actress Marlee Matlin at a dinner party with Bette's hearing friends without an interpreter. The appeal of sign language to me may well be in communicating without one's voice. In sign, being heard is not about being loud.

    But I do like my voice, so how then do I command attention without spiking my adrenaline, raising my blood pressure, and getting loud: without expending energy my body needs elsewhere? I'm working on it but I don't think there's one definitive approach. With some people (cough-my bro-cough), it may not work at all.

    If I were feeling closer to 100% healthy, I wouldn't have noticed the energy drop so readily, but I am more in tune with the physical correlations to my introversion now. Perhaps my reclusive nature has reduced my speaking stamina or amplified my reaction to vocal conversations. Not long ago, I had a week to myself during which I rarely spoke to anyone. It was lovely. This is not to say I refrained from communication because there was email, twitter, and the like, just not much speech.

    This past week, I have refrained from talking a fair amount to conserve my strength for other tasks. Though I really am tired of it, I need to remember that the drainage will ease up, the weather if not consistent will at least even out its temperatures somewhat so my sinuses will behave, and I will feel like singing again. And talking, if I have something to say.

    For now, I'll just hum sporadic arpeggios.

    A year ago on TTaT: And for some things random...

    06 November 2009

    Clothes that fit: ideal or overrated?

    Years ago I was hooked on the BBC-America show What Not To Wear. Since then, I've seen a smattering of such shows, the TLC version of WNTW, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and later the Straight Girl, and How to Look Good Naked. Seems fair to say that their main tenet of dressing well is having clothes that fit well.

    I don't buy clothes often, but I have tried to keep this in mind when I do or when choosing sizes for birthday list items. For me, this means avoiding the large, baggy fits of old.

    The catch with the smaller, better fitting pieces is that I have to pay more attention when I do laundry so they don't shrink.

    The long sleeve tee I'm wearing now is the proper size, but the collar is so much smaller than I'm used to that I feel like I'm being strangled--no dryer for that one. (It's something of a reminder of why I liked bigger sizes in the first place.) I tried two t-shirts over it and both exacerbated the neck constriction. Finally pulled an enormous old XL tee I haven't worn in years from the sentimental pile at the top of my closet. Film crew shirts are typically ordered with a one-size-fits-all mentality, at least on the low budget indies that I used to crew. Doesn't pull on my neck though.

    So, in sum, clothes that fit well will probably look better but may not last as long as those which are over-large. Thoughts? Opinions? Clothes buying strategies?

    A year ago on TTaT: Ooh

    04 November 2009

    Ass Cheeks and Autumn





    "What?" Mom was giving me a look.

    "A restaurant's a building."

    "So? I can guess whatever I want to." I didn't really have the energy to argue, so I just said, "Chicken."





    "Very slightly warmer."

    "Hmm. Space."




    "Stars are cold?" Mom said.

    Dad and I both said, "No, they're the same as 'planet.'" Then I said, "Rings of Saturn."


    Mom guessed, "Moon."

    "Very slightly warmer."

    I said, "Ass cheeks," and Mom and Dad both doubled over laughing, gasping for air. I loved that I'd made them both laugh so hard. After a few moments, I said, "Well?"

    Dad recovered and said, "Same, slightly warm."

    After several more widely varied rounds of guessing, Mom got another slightly warm hit for autumn.

    "So what do stars, planets, ass cheeks and autumn have in common?" I asked, trying to stimulate my brain.

    "Yes," Dad said encouragingly.

    Mom and I went through the fall holidays, all cold, and then went through many rounds of warm focusing on sunset and sunrise.

    Eventually, Mom said, "Rainbow."


    I guessed, "Prism."


    And then, "Red."

    "Ding, ding, ding!"

    Another fortune cookie Chinese word solved. I was two for two tonight, yeehaw!

    "Well," I said, "I don't think I want to know how ass cheeks are supposed to make me think 'red.'" The real challenge, after all, of our fortune cookie guessing game is the different ways our minds work. Some words are difficult but some are made difficult because of the associations the person rating hot/cold does or does not have. "Unless maybe you were thinking of the baboons. Is that right? Are they the ones with...?"

    Over this, Dad said, "Red ass. You know, 'red assing' around."

    Mom and I looked at each other and started laughing. "What?"

    "You know, when guys are giving each other a hard time."

    "Um, no, I've never heard that."

    "I haven't either," I added.

    "Look it up, I'm sure it'll be in the dictionary."

    "OK," I looked at Mom and nodded to the hefty American OED next to the dining room table. "I bet you... a dollar that it won't be in there." Mom flopped the book open and started paging through. "Are you in?"

    My dad gave me a calculating glance and said, "Yeah. I'll even pony up my dollar." He took one out of his wallet and set it on the table between us.

    "I don't have one on me, but we'll see..."

    Mom read off all the red-something entries and all the ass-something entries. Then I made sure she looked up any subheadings under red itself. No red ass.

    I snagged the dollar and put it in my pocket. "Thanks." I looked at Mom and said, "See? Guessing things like 'ass cheeks' pays off."

    4 years ago on TTaT: 3 on 3

    28 October 2009

    Autumn in action, part deux

    (Le premier Autumn in action)

    (Click to enlarge, particularly the widest shots.)

    Not quite what I had in mind as using a point & shoot tied my hands, but you get the gist. Maybe next year I'll set up a proper shoot.

    A year ago on TTaT: Your free clicks help donate mammograms, really

    27 October 2009


    A dark grey though the sun had not yet set, misting lightly, cold. I parked by the air pump and telephone away from the gas pumps. I walked across to the gas station's mini mart; there was a short line inside.

    The cashier handed the man with a trucker's cap some scratch off tickets. He picked up his snack pack and headed out.

    The woman waiting ahead of me held tickets that looked lottery related as well. She handed one to the cashier and he scratched of the bottom and punched some numbers in.

    "Twenty-five for the scratch-off ticket," he said.

    Way to go, I thought to myself. At Christmas, my stocking stuffer scratch-offs only yield one or two bucks, often less than the cost of the ticket, if anything. Ten dollars is my scratch-off best, I think.

    The middle-aged woman with the scratch-off winnings then listed off what she wanted, and I thought I misheard her.

    "That'll be $35," the cashier said.

    I hadn't misheard. She put her entire winnings plus 35 dollars into $20 scratch-off tickets. I didn't even know they had ones that expensive. That's crazy!

    I couldn't judge too harshly though because I was there to put five bucks into the mega lottery, in which I had far less chance of winning anything.

    A year ago on TTaT: 4:53 by the tracks

    25 October 2009

    Name this song, take 2

    So, that song from Skins that I posted lyrics from before hoping someone might recognize it? Any ideas?

    If you recognize the song or the artist, please leave a comment. Thanks!

    Three years ago on TTaT: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Yacht Rock

    24 October 2009

    Facebook, what was I thinking?

    So another classmate from high school has sent me a friend request. I know, it's my fault: I signed up and friended 1 person from my graduating class. Even though I have no networks listed, it put me in orbit of her other friends from high school. Sigh.

    The first high school friend request I got was fairly easy to ignore. She was pretty much a compulsive liar all through high school and never let me sit shotgun in our mutual friend's two-door Prelude even though I was much taller than she was. Perhaps she's changed but the conservative and religious views on her FB profile did not trip any kindred spirit bells.

    This time it's not someone I knew much at all. He was nice enough. I'd friend him but I fear if I did I'd be opening more doors to a past I've long moved on from. He does have our high school listed as a network. For kicks, I looked at who else came up and was surprised by the number of people who made me think: who the hell is that?

    My graduating class was, after all, only 51 people. But then I remembered there were some new kids and exchange students during high school and by then, if they weren't in honors classes I wasn't likely to see them much.

    The other surprise: some of the best looking people back then, really not so much now. I admit my vanity felt a boost. Two notable exceptions: two people who I thought were genuine then have changed very little and still look great today.

    Ooh, the 3rd surprise was a student who was only there for a year or two during middle school. I turned down an offer to hang out with her and never got another. I still remember that phone call. I didn't want to go out of racism whose origin I still do not comprehend. SH was Korean, but she'd been adopted as a baby and grew up in the States. My parents couldn't have cared less about racial differences. I don't remember my friends and classmates saying anything that would've swayed me, but we did live in a small, almost completely white town. Despite being new, often a curse at our tiny school, SH went on to be popular in the short time she was around; I was more alone than I'd ever been. It wasn't direct cause and effect, but it felt karmic.

    I never did apologize as it would have meant admitting I was being racist. To be clear, I wasn't walking around saying or even thinking derogatory things about people based on their race/ethnicities; I've always been naturally P.C. in that regard. I can only guess my action came from a fear of the unfamiliar coupled with growing social ineptitude. It's a thing I look back on with regret. I never expected we'd cross paths again. Though I like to set things right when I can, apologizing now might do more harm than good depending on how she recalls that phone call, if at all. Even if she had assumed I was racist back then, she was over it back then, bubbly and friendly to all (myself included at school) and surrounded by better people than I.

    So... what to do about friend requests from old acquaintances on Facebook? I can glut my account with people I don't know well or try to keep it lean so I don't have to filter so much. Yes, I'm feeling some irony hovering in the background. I am not a social beast, least not FB-style social. How do you approach friend requests?

    A year ago on TTaT: Trick-or-Treating, at the mall?

    19 October 2009

    Beautiful People

    40. Beautiful People: My Family and Other Glamorous Varmints by Simon Doonan (4.5/5)

    Made me laugh out loud often. Often crazy situations viewed with humor and a light touch. Stories from throughout the author's life, happily skipping from one age to another and back (the author does like to skip after all).

    Floor pillows, mentally ill relatives, "plaid bondage trousers," window dressing, and cool parents to a gay kid born in 1952: what more could you want?

    If you've seen & liked the BBC show, Beautiful People*, based on the book--and if you haven't you should--you'll definitely enjoy it. If you liked "Running With Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs, I bet you'll really enjoy this.

    *Airs on LOGO, hilarious, true to the book's essence though reframed to be more contemporary. So psyched to discover there will be a 2nd season!

    A year ago on TTaT: Curvy Clock & Counter-clock Lock

    18 October 2009

    From my bedroom window

    rainbow colored hot air balloon
    red hot air balloon
    With temperatures only in the 40s yesterday, it must've been cold up there. The rainbow colored hot air balloon was so close it looked like it was going to land just over the hill.

    Two years ago on TTaT: Where am I?

    16 October 2009

    38. Grave Peril

    38. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (4/5)

    Book 3 of The Dresden Files, another entertaining entry into the urban fantasy series about Harry Dresden, a wizard in present-day Chicago. Though reading the 1st two books provides additional depth, author Jim Butcher fills in the pertinent details so one could read this novel by itself.

    Action-packed, quite a bit of humor, a little romance, plenty of darkness, vampires, ghosts, even Harry's fairie godmother wants in on the action. Harry's in a mess of trouble, again.

    A quick, enjoyable read.

    A year ago on TTaT: If you don't understand...

    14 October 2009

    11 October 2009

    Out and Proud, kiddos

    Just yesterday, I was thinking, "Is she looking at me or is she looking at me?" Since she was a vendor at an art fair in an LGBTQ-friendly town, it was up for grabs. Moments like those remind me that my gaydar sucks, but also that I don't get much opportunity to calibrate it. Though I live in a liberal state, there's not a single gay bar in the county where I live.

    A private person by nature, I've long thought what business is it of the public at large to know that I'm bi? If you're unaffected by it, why should I be beholden to tell you? Here's the thing though: my heart gladdens to see a strip of rainbow on the back of a windshield, a same-sex couple holding hands, or any clearly out person going about his or her life without being harassed. Seeing Pride symbols, out LGBTQ people, and supportive straight folk makes me feel safer about being myself in public.

    Have I been transforming myself into a hetero stereotype to feel safe in public? No, but I have been conscious of what I say, who I say it to, and who might be within earshot. Outlawing gay marriage may seem a simple, discrete action to many who support it, but when people are comfortable denying others' rights, I'm concerned that my value in their eyes is lessened. And despite the progress made in gay rights since Stonewall, I worry that what comes next is a backslide to greater discrimination and violence, sanctioned or not.

    So, what to do before the world becomes a gay-friendly utopia? Be proud and be out. Be seen, not as an unknowable entity, a group of letters to ignore; but as an individual with hopes, dreams, and goals just like everyone else. Vote. Be heard.

    Happy National Coming Out Day! And cheers to everyone marching in DC!

    National Equality March, October 10 and 11, 2009

    National Equality March, October 10 and 11, 2009... nationalequalitymarch.com

    A year ago on TTaT: Dudes on pointe

    08 October 2009

    Autumn space

    They cut 'em down, the trees of perhaps my earliest memory: driving to the new house for the first time, turning down a lane with a canopy of red and gold leaves, only peeps of blue sky to be seen.

    But even that's not quite right. We moved to that house in August, well before the leaves would've turned.

    When I passed by today, all but one maple along that first edge of the yard had been cut down. Wide, low stumps signaled their absence. "What the fuck were they thinking?" A walker was coming up the road across from me but I didn't care if she'd seen me talking to myself.

    Those trees were always such an integral part of that space to me. It's been coming though. The old wood fence I used to climb to reach branches was taken down a couple years ago. The house paint's a bit different, the yard re-landscaped. The house next door torn down and replaced by a much larger, impressive red one this summer.

    I just wanted to see that canopy of changing leaves again, to determine if my visual memory is accurate. It's probably just as well I can't check because now I can assume that it is.

    The tragically unhip, now with more moose!

    harvest moose and C reading a moose map
    C between 2 moose
    sitting by swirly moose
    C and blue moose
    C and Pirates of the Caribbean moose
    Grinning C and moose

    4 years ago on TTaT: Doh; It's like shopping, but much better...

    07 October 2009

    Katie and Emily: know the song from their episode?

    Anyone watch the UK show Skins on BBC America? I love the opening song from last week's episode, season 3 episode 9: "Katie and Emily," but I don't know the title or artist.

    The UK site for the show does have a music guide, but it turns out they changed all the songs for the American release. The BBCA Skins site has no music guide and no one in the forums knows what it is. My go-to song identifying method of searching bits of lyrics on google has also been fruitless.

    I would call the song dance music or electronic. Female singer with female backup, fast paced lyrics. Starts with staccato guitar chords, then brings in the beat.

    Lyrics as best I've been able to pick out, in order:
    "I see your eyes are looking at me" (First line of song, may not be exact.)

    "back to the beat"

    "Ooh ah yeah.
    Bring it to the dance floor."

    Bridge: "I don't want romance with you."

    "Ooh ah yeah.
    Working all week,
    gotta work it out,
    let me show you what this party's all about."

    "time and the place and the opportunity"

    Do you know this song? I would link to video of the song in the episode, but the UK is strict about copyright infringement on YouTube, so none of the videos will play in the US. They might play elsewhere, but they might also have the UK soundtrack. I am not interested in the Lady GaGa song "Beautiful, Dirty, Rich" from that version.

    If you know the song or have any other search suggestions, please leave a comment. Thanks!

    A year ago on TTaT: 10 Second Mystery

    06 October 2009

    Whip It

    I saw the trailer for Whip It once several months ago, and I'd forgotten the particulars of story and casting revealed therein except that it was about women in roller derby and Drew Barrymore's directorial debut. Saw it this afternoon and bloody flippin' loved it. I would see it again in the theater. Well done, Drew, the cast, crew, and screenwriter Shauna Cross!

    Roller derby is brutal in a way that makes me think I'd never do that, but I'd like to think that I could. I can see how the physicality of it--hitting and being able to take hits--would be empowering. At the very least, it made me want to put on some skates. Really too bad "The Rink" went out of business decades ago.

    Whip It has an impressive cast, lots of great action, and a well told story. There were story pitfalls I feared were coming but they never did. Definitely worth checking out.

    A year ago on TTaT: Coruscation

    01 October 2009

    Two for two

    For the second year in a row, the person giving me a flu shot said, "You have really beautiful skin."

    "Thank you!" It caught me off guard this time too since I focus on my facial flaws, gradually increasing with age. Granted, she was just looking at a small patch of my upper arm, but I'll take it. Here's to flu shot ladies!

    Wendy the pharmacist went on to say, "You don't go out in the sun much, do you?"

    "No, I'm pretty much a vampire."

    "Well, that's good. It's better for you."

    "Yeah, I tend to burn if I'm out for long."


    Getting an appointment for a flu shot at a pharmacy was so much better than showing up to a flu shot clinic at a grocery store or community center (with or without an appointment--they ignore them most of the time anyway). Today took maybe ten minutes from "Hi, I've got a flu shot appointment" to being done, probably less, and that includes rebooting the computer so I could pay. No line, particularly no line of coughers and sneezers, and minimal waiting. FTW!

    A year ago on TTaT: Name that mythological monster, Non partisan PSA: Don't Vote!

    30 September 2009

    One of those days

    Few things make me feel so readily like a loser as using the telephone, which is why I don't use it much. However, yesterday I had to to ask some auto insurance questions. The guy was pretty nice, even offering a "You're doing fine" encouragement as I stumbled over my words so much I had to stop and start over. He was a little jerky when I asked about all the discounts listed on their site but other than that it was fine and I've got a new policy.

    That should've been the end of it, a relief after days of research, quotes and calls; but the whole phone interaction left me on edge.

    I played 20 minutes of DDR in an effort to get it out of my system before dinner and discovered I'm skilled enough to play and still be tremendously preoccupied. (Time to up my DDR difficulty level.)

    Later, I ran some errands but only realized after I'd gotten home that I'd forgotten to use a coupon I'd had with me because I'd paid with a credit card instead of cash. (I put coupons in my wallet with my cash so, in theory, I won't forget them.) Instead of putting the days frustrations aside, this minor screw-up put me on tilt.

    I woke up this morning feeling slightly better until I remembered yesterday. Found myself running through the math of driving up to see whether they'd still take my coupon if I showed them my receipt. With gas mileage and assuming they'd take the dollar coupon, I decided I'd probably only come out 30 cents ahead if I had no other reason to drive that way.

    This reminded me of Dave2's post about bending over to pick up a dollar bill only to drop and scratch his $80 sunglasses. Correction: his $180 sunglasses. I started to envision getting into a car accident before my new policy goes into effect totally screwing up my premium to costly effect.

    Nonetheless, that there was minimal gain to be had didn't reduce the real problem: my frustration at myself for not using the coupon in the first place.

    A hangnail was driving me crazy, so I tried to break it off. A gentle tug did not work so I gave it yank which removed it and a slim line of skin, not enough to bleed but enough to make it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch every time water hits it. All this before my shower, naturally.

    Regarding the coupon, the simple answer would be to call ahead to see if they'd take it, but I was still too edgy to deal with the phone and felt better taking my chances in person. Someone kindly offered to call for me, which made me feel a bit ridiculous, but the good news is that they will take my coupon if I have my receipt which I do.

    So...feeling less crazy just now albeit perhaps more dysfunctional than I'd been thinking. C'est la fucking vie.

    A year ago on TTaT: Twice, seriously?

    27 September 2009

    Context is everything.

    Version A:
    "Dick. Dick. Dick! DICK! DICK, BARBARA!"

    Version B:
    Two sisters speaking by phone try to recall the children of one of their cousins. They agree on two out of three names when the younger sister interjects, "Dick."

    The older sister talks over it, not listening.

    The younger sister repeats, "Dick."

    The older sister continues mulling over other names.






    A year ago on TTaT: McCain's treatment of POW/MIA issues

    24 September 2009

    Somebody with my name likes what I like

    So a week and a half ago, Colleen aka The Communicatrix left a great tip on twitter:
    Social media birthday tip for you: Go to YouTube, type "happy birthday (your name here)" into the search box, and enjoy.

    I was busy doing other things on my birthday and the past few days, so I only just got around to checking it out.

    I love Kristen Bell as Veronica Mars and in other incarnations, so the one with her is my favorite. Also dig the music and the rocking montage skills on display.

    The next clip is a close runner-up or perhaps tie as it has more birthday content. But seriously, this was time-consuming to shoot: NYC time-lapse, holla! A lot of effort went into this, you can feel the love.

    Thanks, Colleen!

    A year ago on TTaT: bowling, bowling, bowling

    23 September 2009

    Pizza and the patience it tries

    Either severe allergies or a cold has been wearing on my mom the past few days, but she said pizza sounded good for dinner.

    Between mom, dad, and I, she is the most discerning about pizza: hotness of serving, thickness and crispiness of crust. However, last time she suggested pizza and I mentioned that she had previously said she didn't like the closest places, she vehemently denied it. So, lesson learned, didn't say that again.

    This time, she suggested a place a town over, and I asked her what she wanted on it.

    "I don't care," she said.

    I knew this wasn't strictly true because she has many times expressed her disgust towards Hawaiian pizzas even though she's never tried pineapple and ham as toppings. It's not a favorite of mine by any means, so it was no big deal.

    "Pepperoni and mushrooms?" she suggested.

    That was the staple family pizza when I was growing up even though I've never liked mushrooms. I dug out a take-out menu and she found one in the phone book. Based on pricing, 3 toppings seemed the way to go, so I suggested five or six thinking she'd pick the three most appealing to her. When I said "eggplant" she repeated it with a questioning intonation.

    "If it were just me, I'd probably get pepperoni, eggplant, and black olives."

    "Pepperoni, eggplant, pepperoni, eggplant, pepperoni, eggplant," she continued to repeat. Her prosody made me wonder if the combination was that unfathomable to her.

    "Yeah, the eggplant soaks up some of the grease of the pepperoni. We don't have to get that."

    "No, that's fine, what else did you want?"

    "Well, sliced tomatoes or black olives would also be good."

    "Wait, what? How many things do you want?"

    "Any of those would be fine. What sounds good to you?"


    The back and forth continued with additional misunderstandings between the "gourmet" and "standard" pizza toppings and no decisive input from Mom.

    About fifteen or twenty minutes later, I heard Dad on the stairs and said, "Oh, god help us, we can get another opinion."

    "Or, god help us, you and your dad can go eat whatever you want and bring me something back."

    "No," I said to her. We're not playing that game.

    "We're thinking of ordering pizza from Pan-(something I have no idea how to spell)," Mom said to Dad.

    "What?" he said.

    "The place in Southsville," I said to clarify.


    "Is pizza all right with you?" I asked.

    "Yes, that's fine."

    "Do you have any druthers for toppings?"

    "I don't care. Anything's fine except I don't want onions or garlic."

    When my dad says he doesn't care he actually means it, so it was back to mom and I.

    "What did you want again?" Mom asked.

    I rolled my eyes and read off all the toppings I like from the menu.

    "If that pizza has pizza sauce, why would you want tomato slices?" she asked.

    "I don't care. I don't care. I don't care," I said with rising volume. "Any of those toppings would be fine is what I'm saying. Just pick three. What do you want?"

    "Anything's fine with me," Mom said.


    "Pepperoni, eggplant, and black olives?" she suggested as if it weren't the first thing I'd said.

    "Yes, that's fine."

    "Sure," Dad offered.

    Mom dialed the number and while it was ringing, I turned to Dad and said, "Watch, they'll be on vacation in Italy."

    "Greece," Mom corrected.


    She was still waiting for someone to pick up. After about twenty rings' time, Mom started to laugh. The restaurant was closed because the owners were on vacation in their home country.

    I laughed too until Dad suggested trying the pizza at the new Irish pub in town: didn't seem promising to me. Also, another topping go-round and I'd have to smash my head into a wall.

    Mom said, "Well, you guys can go do that and just bring me home a salad from Burger King."

    After all that?! "I'd just as soon pick up a burger than do that," I said.

    "Me too," Dad said, "Let's go."

    A year ago on TTaT: I'm not for public spitting, but...