Saturday, January 2, 2010

To: Sworn enemies. Return address: Unknown

Scott (the Count of Counts - Hallelujah! Hallelujah!) gave me a copy of George Carlin's autobiography (or sortofbiography, as Carlin called it), Last Words.

It is dynamite. I love it. I'm on page 178. I like it so much better than Steve Martin's stab at the same, Born Standing Up.

Both talk a lot about their early lives and stand-up. Last Words, though, actually includes pieces of material written out, including how the pieces changed over time. I'm finding this way more enlightening as a comic. Both are good stories, though, and worth reading.

One part of Last Words has kept me laughing since I read it. George Carlin starts the book with all that David Copperfield kind of crap (sorry, Holden Caulfield). In the section about his maternal grandfather, he begins to talk about his mother, Mary Carlin:
Mary was the first of his six children, all born in either Greenwich Village or Chelsea. She was frail as a kid and among other things was given a glass of Guinness stout each night to build her up. It worked. The physical strength she ultimately developed was matched by mental toughness. When she was ten she sent a box of horseshit to a girl on her block who had neglected to invite her to a birthday party. She was small, vivacious, made friends easily, played piano, was a great, dancer, laughed loudly ... and you didn't want her for an enemy.
I read this aloud to Scott in bed. I said, "Can you even believe that? She was 10! Incredible!" and he replied, "I can't believe you've never thought of sending anyone a box of shit."

I really hadn't. And once he suggested it, I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it either.

We proceeded to talk about how a person, in this modern age, might send shit through the United States Postal Service without being detected. A ziplock bag would not be enough. Tyvek? Maybe. But under no circumstance should a person include his or her return address or apply his or her handwriting to the box. Certainly, the box would be full of his or her DNA, but the federal government has bigger fish to fry than to run a DNA test on a box full of feces. And anyway, even if they did, they'd have to have another sample of his or her DNA to make a match, and they wouldn't, so he or she'd be home free!

My god! It almost seems too easy!

We got ourselves laughing so hard about this that I had to get out of bed and cough vigorously while Scott shook quietly in the bed making his laughing-really-hard face.

I guess there are a number of points here. The first is I wish I had the courage to shit into a box and mail it to someone. Incidentally, I can't think of a single person I want to mail my shit to. And what if I thought of someone, but then I changed my mind after it was mailed? It's just mortifying to think of - and at the same time hilariously funny.

Another point is that when I met Scott, I couldn't possibly have foreseen that we'd both find shitting in a box and mailing it to another person so hilarious. We are so perfectly suited to one another that it probably makes people want to hurl a little bit. And I can't blame them. If it was four years ago and I saw a happy couple like Scott and me, I would barf a little bit myself - a jealous and angry barf, certainly, but barf nonetheless. (Would it help the barfing people to know that being happy with another person takes work and often involves the help of a qualified professional? Because it does.)

Finally, if you have delivered - or if you plan to deliver - a Mary-Carlin-style box of feces to another person, I kind of want to know how it went/goes - just so long as you're not sending it to me. I promise I won't tell (unless a subpeona is involved).

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Taste the old El Paso

A while back, I followed a link Ann and Linda posted to a site that rated the toxicity of personal-care products. You might consider following that link; it's pretty eye opening.

I, being a delicate flower (and on account of my many allergies), am bothered by most fragrances. As such, years ago I gave up on most fragranced products. I use mostly all-natural personal care products, some with botanical oils that give it a smell, perhaps, but none with synthetic fragrances, which, incidentally are not regulated by the FDA and regularly contain known carcinogens. Just saying.

I say mostly because I still used Arrid XX Dry roll-on, and I've never found a fragrance-free version of it. I started using it about 15 years ago when I found that I sweat through every other deodorant I used in short order. A couple hours in and I would smell start smelling like Campbell's chicken noodle soup from a can; by the end of the day it would be full-on taco seasoning packet. It was rough.

Thing is, I'm skeered of the toxicity of the deodorant/anti-perspirants and I'm trying not to die. So I found a non-toxic, fragrance-free Kiss My Face product and have been using that for a few months. It's been great! It's not an anti-perspirant, but it is a deodorant. I generally shower every other day and I found that by the second day, a shower was definitely in order armpit-wise, but it was nothing anyone who wasn't me looking for a bad smell would notice.

And then, last week I was working out in the garden for a while and really working up a sweat and caught a big whiff of something. Whoa! And now since it's been warmer out, I've been cooking up a few Ortega meals under my arms. Yikes!

I've decided I'm going to strike a toxicity balance, I think, by going out and buying another Arrid for use during summertime months only, and recommencing use of the Kiss My Face product in the fall.

I believe the lawyerly types call this mitigating risk. I think this is okay.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Who knew how easy it is to make granola?

Catherine Newman changed her blog around to be about food, and I wasn't sure I was going to be on board, but it turns out I am. I keep checking back for new recipes. It's funny because I feel like I'm checking back MORE now that it's about food.

I don't want to be the fat lady who is more interested in food blogs than human blogs, but in this one case I might be.

Tuesday I checked it and there was a recipe for granola. Scott really misses the granola he got from the Olympia Food Co-op back when he used to live in Olympia, so much so that his friend Mer (remember when her dog ate my underpants?) sometimes mails it to him. For realz.

As a result, I've been thinking of making granola for kind of a while now. I like to keep The Count happy with tasty foodstuffs, after all. I suggested it to Scott a while back and he said, and I quote, "Don't bother."

(Aside: If this were Taste of Home magazine, I would say, "I like to fix my man a heaping healthy helping of homemade granola. It really makes a difference when it's made with love." Which it does. And that magazine generally has excellent recipes. But sometimes it gags me because they say these things without a hint of irony. Where do they find these women? And when they have a recipe from a man, they make a whole page about a man who cooks. A man who cooks? Who ever heard of that?!)

Well, brother, he's singing a different tune now, since I made Catherine's granola recipe. It was really weird. I had just gotten home from work, started dinner and was reading blogs when I saw the granola recipe, read the ingredients list and thought, "I have all of these things. I will do this right now."

It was so easy. I got it ready to go in the oven while dinner was cooking. I put it in and it cooked while we ate dinner. Then it was over, I let it cool and put it in a giant container. And it's delicious! I can't imagine why people buy granola from the store (and until Tuesday, that's exactly what I did).

All I had was flax seeds, so I skipped the others in the recipe. And I was out of butter, so I used Smart Balance (which is probably for the best since butter is basically poison - delicious, delicious poison).

The result is a big hit. I have eaten it myself for about five meals since. I brought it in a container to work and picked up a milk in the cafeteria and had it for my can't-get-it-together-to-eat-breakfast-before-work breakfast this morning. I had it for breakfast yesterday and snack last night. I ate some of it fresh out of the oven.

Okay, that's just four times and only two meals. Still! I would like to recommend the recipe to you is all I'm saying.

(Aside: Yes, I made this in the oven. Yes, the oven still makes a little bit of a smell like an H.R.V. But it's not terrible any more. I think the smell is nearly gone. I think maybe untrained noses can't smell it at all, though mine can. It's attuned to the H.R.V. aroma. I use "aroma" ironically here. It's funny because I can smell it most in the pantry. It seems that the pantry is the place for cooking smells to collect in this house. In my Springfield apartment, it was the hall. In the Holyoke apartment it was the bathroom. Here, it's the pantry. Fine. I accept. And pretty much we'll live happily ever after.)

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mission accomplished (surprise, surprise)

Just an update for people who care about my oven situation.

After the ruckus of taking the oven apart multiple times, my father told me I have to just start using it and see what happens.

Friday night I baked off a pie crust using Mark Bittman's recipe. There was a smell, but it was the smell of about ¼ of a hot, rotten vagina. And it was mixed with a smell closely akin to shrinky dinks.

Today, my family hosted a "brownie throwdown". Apparently there's some television program with people who have throwdowns. I know nothing of these things. Anyway, in order to participate, I had to make my famous chocolate-mint brownies. I made them and there was maybe - and only maybe - about a ⅛ hot, rotten vagina smell.

I think that is the sweet smell of success. Although, of all the brownies, mine got the fewest votes, I think because mine aren't crazy sweet but just sweet enough (if you ask me). Also, Christmas is saved. I was worried that if this didn't resolve itself, I wouldn't be able to make any of my favorite holiday treats.

It's a hot, rotten vaginas miracle!


Thursday, October 9, 2008

One thousand hot, rotten vaginas

You may not know this, but I enjoy a small amount of fame in Franklin County. I host a very popular Saturday-morning radio program that many, many people listen to. In May, on that very radio program, I mentioned to my listeners that I was in search of a proper gas stove and they should call me if they had one they were selling.

I got a few calls, but only one stove was white, and since I want white appliances (I suspect that this stainless steel thing is going to go out of style and everyone with their expensive, stainless steel appliances will be sad and sorry), I made a trip out to see the stove.

The people who had the stove were out in the country, and it turned out we had a friend in common. Hooray!

They opened the garage to show me the stove. It was in almost-new condition and they only wanted $50 for it. This was just what the doctor ordered! Just then, the matron of the family lifted the top to show me the inside and she saw a mouse nest.

She was mortified, but said, "If you still want it we'll replace the insulation."

Fantastic. A few short weeks later, my mom, dad and niece met me there with my dad's truck and we loaded the stove up onto the back of the pickup. I paid them extra money since they replace the insulation and were already giving me the stove for a steal. As we were finishing up business, the man told us which insulation was replaced and casually said something along the lines of, "When you first fire it up, you might smell a little something, but it'll burn off in no time."
If this story were a Lifetime movie, right at that moment, there would be a swell of music to indicate foreshadowing.

We moved into the house at the end of June. It was too hot for baking, so I made our dinners using just the stovetop. In early July, however, I really had a hankering for pizza. I made one, fired up the oven and threw it in. I was making a salad when I was suddenly enveloped in the grossest - and I mean grossest - smell I've ever smelled in my life.

It was kind of a cross between Kirkland Avenue (in Northampton, where all the drunks pee and it shows) and the rottenest, smelliest infection your lady parts have ever seen. Times one thousand. And HOT.

I immediately started gagging. I had to go outside. I started barking orders to Scott. "Open all the windows! and "Turn all the fans so they blow out!" Even outside I was still gagging. I called my father. "What do we do?"

He told me that once the pizza was done, we should just leave the oven on for a while at 250 to burn the smell off.

(Aside: The smell was coming from the stove but did not originate IN the stove, so our pizza baked without contamination.)

The smell didn't subside and indeed grew worse as the oven burned on. Sweet god, we didn't know what to do.

The man who sold us the oven told us he didn't replace the insulation on the back because there was no evidence of soilage, but he did replace the insulation on the top and sides. My dad and I thought that maybe replacing the back would help.

Where the hell do you get insulation for the back of a stove? Great question. Turns out the only place that has it is the Internet. It took about a week to arrive, and when it did, The Artist came by, tools in hand.

When he took the back insulation out, there was no sign of soilage, but he put the new one in anyway. It's a miracle, we thought. Christmas is saved!

My father fired up the oven and I almost immediately caught a whiff of something. But it wasn't as bad. I knew that it would increase over time, though, and I opened the kitchen windows, then turned on the ceiling fan in the kitchen.

Suddenly, I was overtaken by the smell of one thousand hot, rotten vaginas. I started to gag. I had to run out of the house. My father had to run around turning off the stove, opening the rest of the windows, turning on fans, and doing all the rest of my bidding. I stood in the driveway gagging.

I couldn't even go back in. I just went to JBo's house. She took pity on me and the one thousand hot, rotten vaginas. Mission Unaccomplished.

I was ready to give up and call the scrap man. I wanted him to take the oven away and melt it down and make it into other ovens for other people.

But my dad, The Artist, was not able or ready to give up. He said, "One more try." I said, "I ain't got one more try left in me, Pops." He said, "C'mon!" I said, "Oh, alright."

He came over last Friday night and took the oven apart. Apart-apart. There were pieces of stove all over the kitchen.

He made me relive the horror. He asked me where I smelled the smell the strongest. I told him. He detached a part of the stove and handed it to me. "Is this the smell?" he asked.

I am a fool. I wasn't even thinking. I just buried my nose right in the piece and breathed deeply. And then came the gagging. Holy sweet mother of God, he found it!

Turns out on the inside of my stove, there are thin layers of insulation between any pieces of metal touching other pieces of metal. If my father weren't taking things apart bit by bit, we'd never have found this horrible, horrible smell.

I started running hot water on it, and just a bit of hot water began to stir up the angry, hot, rotten vagina smell. I was gagging again, as you can only imagine, I'm sure.

Aside: I wonder what it looks like to watch me gag? We saw Ghost Town a few weeks ago. Not a feat of film making, but totally entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. At one point, the main character (Ricky Gervais) was drinking that stuff they make you drink before a colonoscopy and watching him try to drink it made me gag. When he actually started gagging from it, I nearly had to leave the theater.

What happened, we think, is that mice were in the stove for so long that their urine soaked even the most remote and tiny pieces of insulation. Some of the mice might have had terrible lady infections. This is just my guess. When the nice man replaced the insulation, he did not notice these tiny pieces of urine-soaked goodness. And then they became MY tiny pieces of urine-soaked goodness.

Imagine my delight.

Some of the tiny pieces of urine-soaked goodness were attached to parts we couldn't take out, so instead we sprayed them down with Clorox bleach and soaked the Clorox out of the insulation with paper towels. The paper towels came out black. I threw them in the trash. Then the trash became so filled with urine-soaked goodness that I couldn't even go near it for the gagging. Poor Scott had to come down and play trash man.

We got to a point where we couldn't soak any more of the one thousand hot and rotten vaginas out of the insulation any more and we had to call it a night.

The next day, we started soaking the insulation with bleach all over again. You wouldn't believe it, but it wasn't all up. We kept spraying it down and soaking it up, spraying it down and soaking it up. What a chore.

Finally, we got to a point where we felt like we could put the stove back together. By WE, I mean my father put the stove back together.

We fired it up and held our breath and...And...AND...

I wish I had better news, but it still smells, but now it only smells like on hot, rotten vagina. We're making real progress here, friends! My dad is convinced that now all we have to do is run the stove for a while and the smells really will burn off this time.

I'm not so sure. But more than not so sure, what I really am is afraid. Afraid that after all this work we're still going to have to buy a new stove.

My father was really trying to sell me on the progress though. The smell is just the remnants of the bleach cleaner burning off. Yeah, that's the ticket. In fact, he's sure of it!

I have to test it all out tomorrow night, though, as I begin preparations for Saturday night's dinner. Kelsey and Jaime are coming by for dinner and I'm hoping for an incident-free, hot-rotten-vagina-free meal. That's why I doing all the baking the night before. Imagine me welcoming them into our home with gas masks and air freshener!

Will report back.

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