Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Another Vat of Wine, Dear?

Not a vat. Just two glasses, but that for me is probably equivalent to a vat for most of the rest of the world.*

Ask and You Shall Receive
The pencil shavings wine turned out to cost a whopping $11.25 per glass so I asked, as disarmingly as possible, if I could try it before committing. The server obliged. Ack! What is it with all these vinegary wines? I don’t know how anyone could find that acidic bite pleasant. I moved down a notch in price to sample the 2000 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($9.50 per glass), which is supposed to have an “enticing finish.” Vinegar again.

At this point, I was beginning to feel like I was wearing out my welcome and becoming a major pain in the posterior, so I just asked the server to give me something mellow and flavorful, but not sweet. She pointed out the cheapest thing they had on the menu: the 2001 Cecilia Beretta Valpolicella Ripasso, described thus:

Dark nose with dried cranberries and toffee. Plush chewy (?!) palate with long lingering finish.

The Out of Towners
It was quite nice, although I found it neither plush nor chewy. All this wine flap-jaw is just too pretentioso for B and me. We don’t often eat at “nice” restaurants, so whenever we go to such a place we feel like Sandy Dennis and Jack Lemmon in the Out of Towners, gaffeing and blundering our way through the meal.

What a lovely meal it was, though, and I feel it only right to give a little plug to the restaurant, Assaggio, even though they do serve some questionable wines with noses of smoke, tobacco, and tar (shouldn’t the Surgeon General know about this?) We both had super yummy pasta dishes and a fantastic tri-mousse dessert, one portion of which was more than ample for two.

Stuff We Got for Free
We scored some FREE STUFF and, as everyone knows, giving me something for free is the surest way to my heart. Here’s what we got:

  • A wild mushroom bruschetta (to make up for the fact that our server failed to notice for about 20 minutes that George and Gwen had arrived)
  • A cannellini bruschetta (same reason as above)
  • A loaf of rustic bread in the shape of a bull’s heart, weighing close to 5 pounds and measuring, roughly, 8 inches by 11 inches (just because we were such a lovely couple and it was a slow night)
  • A souvenir copy of the menu suitable for framing (just because we were such a lovely couple and wouldn’t it be nice to show such a thing to our friends back in Ohio so they could know how high toned and classy we are?)
Did the server get a good tip? Yes, she most certainly did. And she deserved it. And I have been dropping XXXL hints to B about going back there for his birthday, a mere two weeks from now.

*I attempted to post this entry last night (Monday), but Blogger was on the fritz, hence the delay.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Dense and Jammy

My birthday was more than two months ago, but somehow B and I haven’t gotten around to celebrating it properly yet, i.e., going out to eat at a swanky restaurant. We’re going to do that tomorrow. I’m wondering, however, if we will feel out of our depth. One of the wines the restaurant is currently touting is their 2000 Barbera D'Alba La Cresta, Rocche dei Manzoni from the Piemonte region of Italy. Here’s a description:

Wow! Rich nose of dark fruit, licorice and PENCIL SHAVINGS. Sensuous,
fabulous texture. Dense and jammy.

Do I feel like a philistine! I didn’t know that hints of pencil shavings were a desirable quality in wine. I am definitely going to order this stuff. I wonder (hayseed that I am) if I will be able to detect the dark fruit or will it be overpowered by the pencil shavings--or the licorice? What is "dark fruit" anyway? I am intrigued no end, but if the wine sucks, I will most certainly send it back for something less dense, less jammy, and without quite so many pencil shavings in it.


Friday, November 26, 2004

Migraine-Impeded Reminiscences

The Boss
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Migraines suck--in case you didn't know. I was going to issue a Scroogerella-style screed today about how everyone should observe Buy Nothing Day, but I'm just not up to it. I'm too drained. Plus, it's 1:oo PM PST, so it's kind of too late--especially for all those people who signed up for Target's early wake-up call.


Our cat the Boss (pictured here on B's chair that I hate so very much) is on my mind today. We had to have him put to sleep on the day after Thanksgiving last year.

The poor kitty had an inoperable tumor in his mouth and could barely eat. B went to great stinky lengths involving the blender and cans of people tuna to try to prepare something that the Boss would be able to lap up. Sadly, B's efforts weren't very successful. The Boss just moped around the house drooling (the tumor made it hard for him to close his mouth all the way). It was unbearable. So I made an appointment to have the vet come to our house to euthanize him. It was the right thing to do. He was a couple of months shy of his 18th birthday so he'd had a good long life.

I was a wreck afterward, even though the Boss had never been a very affectionate cat. He never sat on my lap or seemed pleased to see me unless I had a can of catfood in my hand. For the first five or six years I had him, he bit me frequently, often drawing blood. (Why did I put up with this?) He did mellow out eventually but never really warmed up to people.

Still, I'd had him for most of his life and was attached to him. It was just awful to not see him around the house. A few days after we had him put down, we went to the Humane Society and adopted Rusty. I'll admit that I was still grieving for the Boss, and for that reason I had no interest in getting anything but another hefty male cat. B kept pointing out all these friendly, dainty female cats, but I kept looking for one that was more Bosslike in appearance. Draw what conclusions you will about the state of my mental health at that time.

For the first few weeks we had Rusty, he seemed so much like the Boss it was spooky. We joked that he'd found the Boss's soul lurking behind the furnace and had gobbled it up. (Rusty will eat practically anything, including popcorn and potato chips, so why not a soul?) But as time wore on, we realized that Rusty was indeed very different (he must have found the Boss's soul unpalatable and barfed it up at some point).

Rusty is a sort of Jekyll and Hyde cat. He loves to jump on my lap, curl up, and go into hyperpurr mode, but he also takes great pride and pleasure in sneaking up on me and sinking his teeth into my leg (unlike the Boss, though, he seldom breaks the skin). I expect I'll only have to put up with the latter behavior for another five years or so. I can live with that.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

All Hail the U.S. Postal Service!

Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
Who would have thought the U.S. Postal Service capable of the finely honed sense of whimsy evidenced by this R. Buckminster Fuller stamp? Morphing Bucky's chrome dome into a geodesic dome is a stroke of pure genius! Note also the 1950s-style, space-age structures and the mod red vehicle. All atomic powered, you can be sure.

Obviously, there is some sort of new broom in charge of stamp design at the USPS, and this person is just as sick as I am of the perennial and uninspired American flag and LOVE stamps. This young Turk or Turkette has been shaking things up for a couple of years now, easing the codgers at the USPS away from the moribund design sensibility responsible for stamp after monochromatic stamp commemorating obscure white men famous for we know not what.

I have happily been sending off bills and invoices adorned with Pinocchio, Mickey Mouse, Dr. Seuss, and Prickly Red Sea Cucumbers. But yesterday B went to the Post Office and brought home perhaps the best stamps yet--the Cloudscapes series.

I have always had a thing for cloud formations. I used to have a cloud poster next to the window in my office and always hoped I'd spot some of the rarer formations such as altocumulus lenticularis (lenticular clouds), which look just like a stack of pancakes! (Some people have mistaken them for flying saucers and gotten all panicky and called the FBI.) Sadly, it was futile to search for pancakes in the Midwestern sky. Lenticular clouds need the atmospheric influence of mountains to form. But now that I live near the Cascades, I am pleased to report that I have seen lenticular clouds on several occasions. And they look absolutely delicious!

So, back to the Cloudscapes stamp series. They meet or exceed all expectations. Not only do they have a beauteous, backlit example of lenticular clouds, they've got cumulonimbus mammatus, which look like an acre of boobs. Hilarious. They've even got a tornado! Way to go USPS!

I'm sure if I were a more aware person I would have read the New Yorker article that surely must have appeared several years ago, profiling the person responsible for hoisting the USPS out of the 19th century. But I didn't. And I don't see myself making such an effort now to locate this information. That's too much like work, so this person will just have to remain an anonymous but much appreciated heroine or hero.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Pure and Agreeable

You would think that having lived here almost three years, I would have “done” Oregon’s Wine Country by now. I’ve been there a couple of times, but always under unsatisfactory circumstances. That is, I was driving, which for a lightweight boozer like myself means that after about three binky little samples of wine I have to call it quits or risk wrecking the car and its human cargo.

Yesterday, however, our friends TW and RS invited us on a Wine Country excursion. And RS, bless his heart, volunteered to drive. Not that I planned to get hammered, but I welcome any opportunity to relinquish responsibility and decision-making to others. I seldom get the chance to do that. It's so liberating.

I was totally in the mood for tootling around in Wine Country since we’d just seen the movie Sideways. If you haven’t seen it, it’s an indy film about this nebbishy English teacher wine snob and his horndog friend, a flabby has-been TV actor, who go on a road trip through California’s Wine Country a week before the horndog’s wedding. I highly recommend the movie, and I guarantee that you will never look at the dump bucket at a winery the same way again. See it!

In theory, I could have learned something while watching the movie, but I remain a very uninformed and unsophisticated wine drinker. TW and RS were swirling away, tossing off remarks about bouquet and flintiness, and asking intelligent-sounding questions. I just switched off my brain, nodded my head as if I were paying attention, and swigged down everything that wasn’t a syrupy dessert wine (gag!). That's not entirely true. After drinking (and dumping) about five samples of pinot noir, I had to admit that I just do not like them and I stopped accepting them. I wanted to like Oregon's famous pinot noirs, and I could have sworn that in the past I’ve had some excellent pinot noirs (pinots noir?--high school French rearing its head), but these tasted like they’d been condensed out of the stagnant air at a Les Schwab Tire Center. Most foul.

I had a fabulous time (and not because I was out getting a snootful--an ample alcohol-absorbing brunch prevented that). Since I wasn’t driving, I could fully enjoy the rolling hills of the Willamette Valley and the good company of friends without having to plot out where we were going or keep my eyes on the road. I can't overemphasize how nice and relaxing that was.

Surprisingly, there were very few other people at the wineries. At the Momokawa sake winery, for example, we were the only people there and the sake master (or whatever you call a person like that) encouraged us to try all nine of their sakes. (I limited myself to six.) I retained this fascinating bit of information: Sake is A-OK with Andrew Weil, M.D., who says he “can’t think of any other alcoholic beverage that seems so pure and agreeable.” Don’t you love it when a medical personage gives one permission (or what can easily be justified as permission) to indulge in vices like drinking wine or eating chocolate?

We stopped at three “regular” wineries, which were also fairly deserted except for a sinister brown El Camino that seemed to be shadowing us. Its occupants, I’m sorry to say, were somewhat plootered. One of them slurredly asked RS if he thought they had time to make it to the sake (18% alcohol) place. RS told them he didn’t think so and that he believed, in fact, that all the wineries in the Willamette Valley closed at 4:00 PM (a fib, but an admirable one and the sort of thing you’d expect of a person who was born in Canada). I have to say that I found the thought of these people and their El Camino being on the same narrow, winding backcountry roads as us rather disquieting and irresponsible.

None of us, I'm proud to say, overindulged. Nor did we get caught up in the spirit (ha!) of things and drop a couple of C-notes on wine. I bought a bottle of peach sake and a bottle of Chardonnay--a total cost of $18. And, rather miraculously, none of the wineries imposed a tasting fee. Do we know how to choose 'em or what?


Saturday, November 20, 2004

How I Wasted a Metric Shitload of Time

Or, more accurately, “How a Metric Shitload of Time Was Wasted for Me.” I usually try to keep my blog entries free of naughty words, but today circumstances prevent that.

This morning I decided that my top priority should be buying approximately 100 tulip and daffodil bulbs, or next spring I would not forgive myself. (For those of you who aren't gardeners, tulips and daffodil bulbs have to be planted in October-November if one wants a nice spring display.)

So, abandoning my rule of not turning on the computer on the weekend, I fired the freaking thing up and went online. I figured I’d spend about 20 minutes--tops--finding and ordering the bulbs.

Well, I should have known that all those early-bird-gets-the-worm-type gardeners would have snapped up all the primo bulbs months ago. Every site I went to was sold out of the bulbs I wanted. After a frustrating hour and a half, I finally found a site, Westminster Nursery (no, I’m not going to link to it--read on to find out why), that claimed to have a choice selection of attractively priced bulbs ($24.99 for a 50-count bag).

When I tried to order some daffodil bulbs, I discovered that they were sold out--even though the Web site had bragged that the bulbs were in stock. As I was completely worn down by this point, I decided to settle for my second choice. I added it to my shopping cart, only to find that it, too, was unavailable. Click, click, click, click, click. Finally, I found something in stock--my sixth choice. I filled out the tedious order form only to get a dialogue box telling me that the minimum order was $25.00 and cheerfully suggesting that I continue shopping and pick out “a few more items.” I freaking hit the roof!!!! They price everything a penny shy of their minimum order as a completely transparent ploy to get customers to buy more bulbs from them. What the freaking fuck?

OK. Recall that I was totally burned out on bulb shopping, having spent nearly two hours online. As sleazy as I thought their policy was, I actually tried to see if there was something else I might buy from them. Everything I put in my shopping cart (including things I really didn't want--like squill) turned out to be sold out. After about 10 infuriating purchase attempts, I found their phone number (not toll-free) and got on the blower to these losers. I got a message telling me that their hours are 9-5 M-F only. That don’t make no sense. Everyone knows that 99.99% of gardeners shop on the weekends.

I then wrote them a blistering e-mail telling them what dim bulbs (hee hee) I believe them to be and reminding them that a satisfied customer tells 1-3 friends about her experience while a dissatisfied customer tells 10 or more. Or, in my case, writes a blog entry that will reach millions!!!!! (Perhaps, a slight exaggeration.)

So, just to recap why no one in North America, South America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, or Antarctica should ever buy bulbs from Westminster Nursery, their transgressions are:
  • Hoodwinking potential customers into thinking they can get a bag of bulbs for the low, low price of $24.99 when in reality they will have to spend at least $12.95 more for crap they don’t want
  • Taking weekends off and spending them lying around on the couch like Jabba the Hutt, eating powdered donuts and watching Benny Hinn (or so I imagine)
  • Having a Web site that falsely claims 6,000 bulbs are available when, in fact, all they actually have are a few dozen vermin-nibbled bulbs that they scavenged from Walmart’s Dumpsters (or so I imagine)
  • Not having a toll-free phone number
I suspect that on Monday I will get some sort of oafish e-mail from them about “the costs of doing business online” or some such horse crap. The difference between what the bulbs cost and what their minimum purchase price is is one cent. I repeat, one cent! What kind of a business would be so boneheaded as to quibble over a freaking penny!

Even if they try to make amends and “generously” offer to absorb the one-cent difference, too freaking bad! I have placed an order with a far superior firm, American Meadows. I ordered some daffodil bulbs and then 20 minutes later placed another order for some tulips. A half hour later, I got an e-mail telling me that that they would ship the orders together, thus saving me some shipping costs. They ROCK!!!!! Note to Westminster Nursery: The people at American Meadows are actually at work on a Saturday--not drowsing in front of the TV with their mouths hanging open and their chins dusted with powdered sugar.


Thursday, November 18, 2004

Shopping on an Empty Stomach

My mom always advised me against going to the grocery store when hungry. Excellent advice.

I almost never follow it.

I’ve been spending waaaaay too much time blogging lately and have been letting other things slide, e.g., there’s a hat to be knit; two toilets, three sinks, and a bathtub to be scoured; friends to be hung out with; trails to be hiked; a garden to be winterized and--most shamefully--a suitcase to be unpacked (Yep. I got back from Chicago Monday night; my time-management skills need work.)

So in lieu of one of my usual long-winded posts, here’s a meme of my own devising that required almost no thought and certainly no burnishing. (No snide comments, please, if you think it’s feeble.)

What are the top three things you’re most likely to buy if you go to the supermarket on an empty stomach? Mine are:
  • an apple fritter
  • spicy tuna maki
  • eggnog (when “in season”)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Gigolo Is Up

After college, I got a job in Chicago. I spent my lunch hours walking along Michigan Avenue. About a week into my job, I noticed someone who shared my habit—a guy whose fashion sense was hopelessly stranded in about 1975. He had a droopy walrus moustache, sideburns, and feathered David Cassidy-style hair. He always wore a dark blue, three-piece suit with flared trousers, a shiny polyester shirt with a whammo-bird collar (open to mid-chest), flashy gold necklaces and a matching bracelet, and zip-up ankle boots. Such a get-up might not have stood out so much in Las Vegas, but in Chicago it was quite arresting.

Now bear in mind that Chicago is a city of 3.5 million. Nevertheless, I saw this guy all the time—usually at lunchtime but in the evenings and mornings, too. I started seeing him in other parts of Downtown as well. He was always alone and always on foot. He never carried anything like a briefcase or an umbrella. He just walked, strangely aloof amid the hordes of shoppers and office workers. I never saw him talk to anyone or even make eye contact. Freaky!

I, of course, found him fascinating and soon formulated a hypothesis to explain his alien presence in Chicago. I decided that he had a gig playing lounge piano in one of the stodgy hotels on Michigan Avenue. My hypothesis, admittedly, had a few holes in it. For one thing, it did not explain why he was so often sighted around lunchtime in full lounge regalia when, surely, his services wouldn’t be needed until late evening. It was the best I could come up with though.

Even after I stopped working Downtown, I still saw him regularly whenever I happened to be Downtown. It was uncanny and seemed to defy the laws of statistics. The last few times I saw him before I moved to Portland, I noticed that his suit (the same one he’d been wearing all these years?) looked ever-so-slightly shabby and that he had aged—but after all, it had been more than a decade since I first saw him.

So last Friday I was in downtown Chicago around 1:00 PM walking with my brother on a nearly deserted path near Lake Michigan. Who should we see coming toward us but the guy! What are the chances of that???!!! He was dressed exactly as he always had been, except the zip-up boots had been replaced with black rubber-soled walking shoes. He looked distinctly down at the heel. His hair was longer than I’d ever seen it (although still feathered), but a breeze that lifted his coif revealed a huge swathe of white hair beneath a superficial layer of dark brown. It looked as if he’d dyed his hair himself and missed a bit (a rather large bit) in the back.

Although my brother had never seen him before, he agreed that this guy was highly unusual and that evening told his girlfriend about him. She later told me that she knows exactly who we saw and that this guy is a gigolo and that “everyone in the graphics arts community knows about him.” Whaaaa? At the time she mentioned this, I was engaged in a cutthroat game of Trivial Pursuit, so it didn’t dawn on me until later how very bizarre her statement was.

A gigolo!!!! Well, call me naive or skeptical, but I think gigolos are an invention of Hollywood. In real life, women do not have to pay for sex. And even if gigolos do exist, this purported “mid-day cowboy” couldn’t possibly have been making his living as a gigolo. His demeanor is so peculiarly otherworldy and lacking in charisma that it would put off even the most enthusiastic/desparate customer. The 30-year-old suit and the sloppy dye job aren’t doing him any favors either.

In conclusion, I have to say that this guy and his raison d’etre remain a mystery, but that seeing him again has reignited my curiosity. I don't know how well I've conveyed just how puzzled and intrigued I am by his steadfast refusal to update his wardrobe and the fact that he and I have crossed paths probably more than 100 times since the 1980s. I will have to cross-question my brother’s girlfriend about the gigolo statement, but I have a feeling that it's one of those instances where speculation gradually evolved to “fact.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The Aged P.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens has a character in it who is referred to as “the Aged P.”--short for “the Aged Parent.” I have one of those. My dad is 82 years old. Visiting him was pretty much the primary reason I went to Chicago last week.

As a kid, I was sometimes embarrassed to reveal to my contemporaries that my parents were 15 to 25 years older than their parents. What I didn’t realize then, however, was that my parents--especially my dad--were far hipper than those of my friends. My friends’ parents square danced and listened to Elvis and the Beatles. My dad raced dirt bikes, built motorcycles and sailboats from scratch, and listened to Miles Davis and Led Zeppelin. He went to a Frank Zappa concert when he was quite a bit north of 50.

My dad has not slowed down one little bit. He has a girlfriend 25 years his junior and got his pilot’s license when he was 80 (a year after he had double bypass surgery). Nevertheless, even though my dad really is in very good health, realistically, I know he won’t be around all that much longer.

So on Sunday my brother, his girlfriend, my sister and her husband and I piled in a couple of cars and headed out to our dad’s house in the boring suburb where we grew up. After eating a somewhat unorthodox early Thanksgiving meal that consisted of ham and turkey, a yucky frozen version of the classic green bean-Durkee onion casserole, and couple of pies smothered in copious amounts of whipped cream, we settled down to look through old photo albums and have a good long chat.

One of the things about having an Aged P. that I now fully appreciate is that I have learned some fascinating things about the 1950s and early 1960s. Now that I think about it, though, perhaps I shouldn’t make any generalizations based on the way my parents lived. It’s pretty clear to me that they didn’t march in step with the rest of America, that is, their life looked nothing like Leave it to Beaver.

An example:

My parents were both musicians. When my parents were first married, my mom was well on her way to becoming a symphony clarinetist. My dad was a jazz musician (alto and tenor sax) who played a lot of divey clubs around Chicago and worked for a time with Mel Torme (AKA “The Velvet Fog”) who, according to my dad, was not a pleasant person.

My parents lived in a trailer park on the South Side of Chicago that they furnished in an exceptionally cool sort of beatnik-influenced style. (Where is all that furniture now? It would be worth a fortune!) Just the piece of information about there being a trailer park within the Chicago city limits is hard for me to comprehend.

They bought two extremely fussy and demanding part-Persian long-haired cats. They actually paid money for these cats. (Another thing that is hard to fathom because it is so easy to get cats for free these days.)

My parents started off feeding these cats round steak. The cats ate the steak; my parents ate hamburger. Someone then clued them in about the existence of canned catfood, and they tried feeding the cats every brand on the market. The cats refused it all. Still attempting to trim their catfood budget, my parents started feeding the cats horsemeat, which they bought at “a horsemeat store” (!). This solution did not last long. Turns out that local hamburger stands were major customers of these horsemeat stores and had been mixing horsemeat into their hamburgers for who knows how long. It was a huge scandal, and the horsemeat stores were required to mix charcoal with the horsemeat. The cats turned up their smooshed Persian noses at the charcoal-tainted horsemeat. One of them who had plumped up to 18 lb on the horsemeat diet, plummeted to a skeletal 5 lb, so my parents were forced to revert to giving them round steak, eventually buying whole sides of beef and giving the cats all the primo cuts.

By the time I was born, these cats were long gone, but it is interesting to note that my parents never forked out money for any kind of steak, round or otherwise, for us kids. I don’t think I had steak until I was in college. In fact, my mom was the original frugal gourmet, with the emphasis very much on frugal and much less on gourmet. Cream of mushroom soup figured heavily in almost every dish she prepared.

I will have to write more about my mom in future blog entries. She was quite a remarkable person.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

No Such Thing as a Free Movie

Last night B and I attended a free movie as we are so often wont to do. However, there were quite a few unforeseen costs. And I know that it doesn’t do to look a gift horse in the mouth, but on the other hand, complaining is an American trait.

Cost #1 (time)
Our free pass was for the Bridget Jones Diary sequel. In order to be certain of getting in, one needs to arrive about an hour early. No prob. We have flexible schedules and we know how to read.

Cost #2 (sanity)
We took our place in line and a scruffy-looking man and woman with identical quadruplet eight-year-old boys came to stand right behind us. Hmmm. I thought to myself, “What kind of parents would bring eight-year-old boys to see an R-rated British romantic comedy?”

This kind: The kind that share between them a brown, saliva-saturated cigarillo. The kind that idly smirk as their offspring make simian attempts to climb concrete pillars. The kind that, once their ciggie is smoked to the filter (if, indeed, it had one) actually help the kids climb the pillars and allow them to cling unsupported about 20 feet from the ground. I was flabbergasted! I was just waiting for one of the quads to crash to the concrete and break his head. What were these parents thinking? Was it, “Hell, we’ve got four of them, we can afford to lose one.” I hope not, but what other explanation is there for such wanton disregard for your kids’ safety? Needless to say, aside from the climbing these kids made an unholy commotion the entire time they were in the queue. I read exactly one-half page of my book. I don’t blame the kids, though, they never should have been forced to wait in an hour long line in the first place.

Cost #3 (time, sanity, and pocketbook)
Once in the theater, our strategy was to find seats as faraway from the Pandemonium Family as possible. They sat in the front row (barf!) and we sat way toward the back. Whew. I reveled in the relative silence.

The movie started, but there was no picture and only the low grumblings of the soundtrack from another movie, which B says was The Grudge. The audience started squawking immediately. After all, we’d all paid exactly nothing to see the movie. A projectionist was eventually roused and Renee Z. burst on to the screen sometime near the end of the opening credits. Ten minutes into the movie, the film started chattering, big yellow squiggles appeared at the edge of the frame, and the dialogue turned to mud. More squawks.

The film was stopped, started again (but not where it left off), got the jitters again and was stopped yet again so emergency surgery could be performed. At that point, we were told that it would be about 10 minutes so why not visit the concession stand? Sneaky! But, you know, I was kind of hungry so I heeded the suggestion. There was only one person in line. Little did I realize that this one person suffered from some sort of compulsive disorder that required her to pay for her popcorn by using every denomination of coin minted. (I am not making this up.) By the time I got my bag of peanut M&Ms, the movie had started again.

So I haven’t seen the opening credits of the movie, but the rest of it was very enjoyable. (I did take the precaution while at the concession stand of leaving my brain there for retrieval after the movie.) The dialogue was witty; the plot implausible but well executed; and Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, and Renee Z. all turned in great performances. Renee really does not get enough credit for her skill as a physical comedienne. My only complaint (and I have to have one, right?) is that extremely grating neo-Motown songs flared up at the most inopportune moments (as was the case with the first Bridget Jones). It was really intrusive.

So I’m off to Chicago for a few days now. In all likelihood I won’t have the wherewithal to do any blogging. Back Monday the 15th.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Guilty Pleasure Smorgasbord

I am still in deep retreat from reality, as my recent, very self-absorbedly Rozanne-o-centric posts will attest. Clearly, I’m not the only one in denial, judging by the thickets of Kerry-Edwards signs still extant on Portland lawns.

Anyway. While keeping reality at arm’s length, my thoughts have naturally turned to food, specifically, foods that are of the type you probably shouldn’t eat in quantity and that may induce guilt (and embarrassment) because A) they contain staggering amounts of preservatives, dyes, artificial flavors, carcinogens, etc.; B) they have a nutritional value at or below zero; C) they are a type of food most adults won’t admit to eating; D) all of the above.

My Smorgasbord:
  • Tater tots. These double-deep-fried wonders would likely be what I’d request as my final meal if I were on Death Row.
  • Bacon. Heck, all foods that were once swine (except pork rinds).
  • Tastee Freez twinkle cone. A twinkle cone is dipped in this stuff. If you’ve never heard of a twinkle cone, it’s because you’re a grown-up with a sophisticated palate.
  • Eggrolls. Why is it that an order of eggrolls never contains more than two?
  • Apple fritters and their close relatives, including the cherry fritter and the custard-filled apple fritter. (NB: The bakery that sells the custard-filled apple fritter is out of business. Draw your own conclusions.)
  • Jell-O instant chocolate pudding. Try it with Cool Whip!
  • Burgerville’s Colossal Burger. This is the one with American cheese--not the one with Tillamook cheddar, which is for gourmands. I believe that a large splotch of Miracle Whip graces each patty as well. Might as well throw in the very guiltworthy Mocha Perk milkshake and an order of Walla Walla onion rings.
  • Pringle’s potato chips. Counterfeit and delicious.
  • Pillsbury “Grands” flaky biscuits. The crowning achievement of the food-processing industry and the most perfect butter vehicle ever invented. To eat: Separate thin layers of biscuit; insert pat of butter between each layer; have heart attack.

Please believe that I do not eat crap like this on anything like a regular basis (apple fritters excepted), but should I need it, I now have a suitable Doomsday menu.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Intermittent Furniture Anxiety

I undergo a bout of furniture anxiety whenever we have more than about three people over to our house. This is because the only seating in our living room is a sofa and a leather chair that B has had since he graduated from college. This chair is the chief source of my recurring episodes of furniture anxiety.

Prior to the purchase of this chair, B conducted exhaustive "butts-on" research, which in his view was 100% successful. His sole criterion? That the chair be comfortable. I have to begrudgingly admit that it is comfortable. But here’s the thing. It is monstrously ugly. It’s beige (shudder!) and, though it was very expensive (real leather, not Corinthian), it looks tacky and cheap. A blobby matching hassock accompanies it.

I cannot believe there was ever a time when this chair was in style. It’s old, but it does not--and will not ever--have the cachet of being considered “retro.” To put it bluntly, it is dreadful and should be banished to hell, or at least the basement. Instead this thing is occupying pride of place in our living room. Whenever I think, “Yeah. I’m really going to go look for some furniture, before we have our next party,” I am stymied by that irksome chair. I have no idea how to create a decor scheme that would accommodate both good furniture (i.e., the kind of stuff I like) and that monstrosity. Hence the vicious cycle of furniture anxiety.

Friday evening B and I were out walking, and I must have felt some furniture anxiety coming on because I was sucked right through the open door of an antique/second-hand shop we were passing. I tried out a few chairs with the vague notion that I would have some sort of epiphany that would reveal to me that these chairs (once reupholstered) would be the perfect addition to our living room.

However, because of my total ineptitude when it comes to visualizing whether furniture would or would not look good in our house, nothing like this happened. B, however, rather surprisingly assured me that he could find me some chairs now that he “knows” what I’m looking for. Huh? But how does he know what I'm looking for when I don’t even know? Evidently, he glommed on to a comment I made about furniture from the olden days being more suitably scaled for smaller people (like myself). So, I gather, he now believes that the size of a chair is my only criterion. After all, how could anyone have more than one?

When I quizzed him on where he would be shopping, he told me “a children’s furniture store.” Now, I do appreciate that he wants to help out, but is there such a thing as a children’s furniture store? And, if so, I can only imagine that the furniture is spectacularly shoddy, is available only in blindingly bright primary colors, and will almost certainly bear likenesses of Disney characters (or similar). Also, although I am not a tall person, I am decidedly taller than an elementary school child. (What was he thinking?) I'm a statuesque 5’ 4”—certainly off the height charts in any school nurse’s office. I’m fairly sure B’s noble venture is doomed to failure, and I can't say I'm too upset about that.


Thursday, November 04, 2004

Fall Color Freak

Vine Maple
Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
This photo is one of about 40 (!) I took last Sunday while hiking the Multnomah Falls-Wahkeena Falls Trail. This one is the best of the bunch. Our digital camera (probably one of the very first ever manufactured), sadly, was not up to the task of fully capturing the incredibly luminous, lemony yellow of the thousands of vine maples and bigleaf maples along the trail. Nevertheless, it was a joy to be in their midst. Does that remark seem a bit too effusive? I mean it. I am a fool for fall color. Such a great fool, in fact, that I allow it to dictate to a not insignificant extent how I dispose of my income and my free time.

A few examples:

  • Every morning for the past month, one of the first things I do when I wake up is look out the window and take note of the leaf-turning progress of my prized red sunset maples. They seem a bit slow off the mark. Currently, the leaves are a cheerless, muddy brown-pink. I am very much hoping that this will give way to the vivid, fiery red I feel I am entitled to. If not, I may have to throw a tantrum.
  • Last year, I went to Hoyt Arboretum every weekend in October and was thus able to perfect and memorize the definitive leaf peepers' route. (It is available for a small fee.)
  • I've spent every fall scouting various Portland neighborhoods* for outstanding specimens of fall color and especially pleasing juxtapositions of fall color. I make weekly pilgrimages to these sites.
  • When planning my trip to Chicago, I took into consideration that peak fall color here occurs during the first two weeks of November. That was one of the factors in my decision not to travel to Chicago until mid-November. One of the factors, not the only factor--I'm not completely bonkus in the konkus!

*If you happen to live in Portland and you happen to be a freak like me, I suggest you treat yourself to a stroll, bike ride, or drive down the hill on NE 33rd (from Fremont down to Broadway). If that leaves you hungry for more, continue on to Laurelhurst Park and spend a good hour there--those Olmsteds sure knew what they were doing.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

"Nutty" Christmas Gifts

B and I had lunch together today seated at our catalog-cluttered dining room table. As I paged through the Harry and David catalog, he idly picked up The Sportsman’s Guide (which we get because the previous owner of our house was, I presume, a hunter). I decided to challenge B to a little contest. I told him that we should each try to find the most appalling potential Christmas gift in our respective catalogs, although I knew full well that he had an unfair advantage.

The best I could do was the Nutcracker Sweets Tower, which consists of a vacant-eyed nutcracker doll with a braincase full of gumballs; a torso stuffed with cookies and mints; and a trouser load of caramel corn. Disturbing. But not nearly as disturbing as the Bully Bag, that is, a candy dish made from a bull’s scrotum--sealed and (hopefully) sanitized by professional “ballologists.” Why not fill it with beef jerky, candy, or, most appropriately, nuts? I’m sure no one would be at all put off by eating directly out of a deceased bull’s marble bag.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004


No post tonight. Sorry.

I'll try to post something that isn't too depressing tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Brief Encounter with "the Scone"

Originally uploaded by Rozanne.
I apologize if anyone found my last blog entry to be overly caustic. This one is certified 100% bile free--a bit of a feat considering it is (very atypically) sort of about politics.

I had anticipated that tonight's blog entry would be glistening with entertaining anecdotes about the canvassing I did this evening for Carry Oregon. However, while I'm certainly glad I did it, really nothing at all of interest happened. At the very least, I expected that some old man would bellow at me to get out of his sight, thus reducing me to a chattering jelly. But everyone was exceptionally cordial.

The most noteworthy event of my day occurred on my way to the Kerry headquarters. Standing daringly close to a dangerous intersection was Jim "the Scone" Francesconi (one of Portland's mayoral candidates). He was waving at traffic, but he looked for all the world like a mechanical waxen figure. It was incredibly spooky! (I wonder if he'd been there since yesterday and, if so, what kind of a candy haul he scored.)

I guess I must have been gaping, because he caught my eye, turned his entire body robotically toward me, and waved hopefully at me. At that point, I just felt bad for him. He's spent oodles of money on his campaign, but he is so despised by most Portlanders, he's probably going to lose. I couldn't help but wave back to the poor, friendless waxwork.

You may be puzzled by the photo that graces this entry and wonder how it relates to the content. It is a photo of a lovely yellow bigleaf maple leaf and my size 7 hiking boot, which is included to give a sense of scale. The stem alone is quite impressive, don't you agree? Anyway, the photo is meant to serve as a sort of a sneak preview of a blog entry I will be writing later this week (if all goes well).