Monday, January 29, 2007

Dirty Martini Day

It was just that kind of day.

I got home, peeled off my mittens--I still can't find my leather driving gloves--hung up my coat, tossed my purse and school bag into my "office" (the corner between the livingroom table and loveseat), and made my way into the kitchen where I immediately commissioned Jared to assemble the vermouth, vodka, olives, and cocktail shaker. Rooting around for the glass, I said, "It's February, you know? They should not be disappointing me like this anymore."

"I know, Mom," he said. "...But we're out of olives. I bought some nice pinot grigio today. How about that instead?"

"Look in the bottom shelf, way in the back," I said knowingly. "It's a dirty martini or nothing. Trust me."

"How can you drink martinis? What about a Cosmo? I'll go back out and get some cranberry juice and I'll have a Cosmo with you," he said, obviously hearing echoes of some dusty warning mantra of never drink alone.

"Aha!" My foray into the unknown of the refrigerator had proven successful. Giant green olives, pimentoes poking promiscuously forth, were in my grasp! I pushed past him to the counter and arrayed my arsenal: Three Olives vodka, Martini & Rossi dry vermouth, shot glass, freebie cocktail shaker from Express (a gift-with-purchase from Christmas shopping!), and the olives. I was in business.

I swiveled quickly and hit the lever on the icemaker, filling the shaker with ice, then measured the requisite ingredients. I paused, calculating just how "dirty" I wanted this martini to be. I considered my day. Throwing caution to the winds, I added two heaping spoons of olive brine to the mix. I wanted to be dirty, baby, real dirty! Piling three huge olives into my tigerstriped martini glass, all that was left then was to shake.

I thought of the student who had not yet turned in one single assignment since the new semester had started on January 16th. I thought of the students who had signed up to be on the staff of my literary magazine in September but had not yet turned in one, single, solitary poem or story. I thought of the teacher who used my room for his study hall 8th period and started off by saying, "Now, I'm not strict...!" I thought of the secretary who made me fill out a requisition form in triplicate for a box of paper clips. AND I SHOOK THAT MARTINI.

And then I poured it out and went to my computer. I sipped and enjoyed and relaxed. And I wrote this blogpost.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Tour of My Blog, With Digressions

As reluctant as I am to rob you of the joy of being greeted by the Animated Farting Brain atop my blog, I did want to nudge you with regard to a few of the features I've added recently to The Dept.

If you take a look along the sidebar, you'll encounter in Other Departments 2 new blogs: Catalina tu Vecina and Manolo's Shoeblog. The first is another look-at-life blog which has a question for commenters to answer every Wednesday; the second is a fun fashion blog written with a very definite persona and voice.

Scrolling farther down, after the archives (On File at the Dept.), I've added a new sidebar daily post: The NBC Evening News' Brian Williams Tie Report. This small feature will be updated daily--or at least every day that I watch the NBC Nightly News and Brian Williams is on it, sporting a cravat. I am obsessed with his tie selection (see my recent comments to Neil and Anali on last post), and I have decided to indulge myself. If anyone would like to bring this feature to the attention of Brian Williams, well, go ahead. I'm sure he'd be thrilled that someone is paying attention. I mean, I would be. And by the way, Brian Williams, your suit selection tonight was also spot on as well. I love the way you are setting a new trend with the extended shoulders, a sort of homage to the forties Bogart look. And I also detected the subtle pinstriping--don't think for one minute that I didn't. I did.

But I digress.

Directly below TNBCENBWTR (The NBC Evening News' Brian Williams Tie Report!) is the Official Angel of Death "Days Left in Office" Countdown Clock. If you want one of your own on your blog, just click the URL below it and you can travel to the site to get it. It's very comforting to watch the seconds and minutes tick away, knowing that it is, indeed, going to end. It really is. And I can watch it happen whenever I need to.

Now scoot down, down, down past all those funny buttons that allow you to get The Dept. on your mobile or your Yahoo! page or other ways that don't boost my Ego/Vanity (Hit Counter), and you'll see a little message about emailing me. Oh, but it's true! I set up an email account just so that you could email me directly in case you have comments that you don't want to share with the rest of the hoi polloi. Although, I have to tell you, The Dept. hoi polloi is extraordinarily discerning. By the way, hoi polloi is one of those terms which have become terribly misused. Most people think that hoi polloi is a term for uppity people. That is entirely incorrect. Hoi polloi means, literally "the common people." As a matter of fact, it is redundant to even say the hoi polloi. When you do, you are saying the the common people. But, as you can see by my usage above, it has passed into commonplace language, so it is a useless battle to fight, much like whom. But, we all must never stop fighting the battle against the non-word "irregardless." THAT IS NOT A WORD, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! PROMISE ME YOU WILL HELP MAKE IT STOP! Just say "regardless." It is enough. Ahem.

But I digress.

We were talking about emailing me by clicking on the handy and convenient "Click here" exhortation that I graciously provided for you. Please do make use of it should you like to.

Finally, has anyone ever gotten all the way to the bottom of my blog, ever? I mean, has anyone ever read my footer? Anyone know what the quote comes from? A Challenge! No Googling, now! What did we ever DO before Google? Makes me wonder if we know things now, or just know where to find them.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Airing It Out

Time to get rid of some doodads nattering in the niches of my mind...

I find myself peevishly fixated on the ties of all the men on television. Today as Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News was bidding us all a good night, I sternly advised him, "I just can't get on board with that choice of tie tonight, Brian Williams, however bold it may be." I feel compelled to comment upon the cravats of NBA coaches, news anchors both local and national, talk show hosts and guests, and anyone else who dares show up wearing neckwear. I have always admired the tie choices of The Tsar of the Telestrator/former NBA coach Mike Fratello and have never, to my knowledge, found fault with any of Tom Brokaw's ties. And, very rarely did the late Peter Jennings make a neckwear misstep. Sigh. He was a snappy dresser and a great newsman. He is missed in both the fashion and news arena.

As I must have made mention of before, we at the Dept. are obsessed with condiments. In our refrigerator at any given moment the observer will find five different types of mustard, which we deem necessary. We must also have both Miracle Whip and Hellman's Mayonnaise, which we use not interchangeably, but for wholly different instances. I understand that those two condiments, MW and mayonnaise, cause massive discussions and divisions of families and friends into two distinct Usage Camps. Some people would never use MW on a turkey sandwich, only mayonnaise. Others will only give up MW when it is pried from their cold, dead hands. The same can be said about ketchup (aka catsup, catchup). I prefer Heinz or nothing. Others will only use Hunts. Others will simply say "Whatever is red and comes out of a bottle--store brand is fine!" I can certainly tell the difference, so do not even try to slip some cutrate dollar store garbage into some leftover Heinz bottle (MOTHER) at a picnic or something and act like it's nothing. Whatever. Oh, and then there's the Coke V. Pepsi thing. I can't drink carbonated stuff anymore--it interacts really oddly with my migraine med--but when I could, I was a Coca-Cola girl. Pepsi tastes like a minty, fakey bubblegum to me. They don't call Coke "The Real Thing" for nuthin', you know. But, the men here at the Dept. have turned it into a Pepsi Camp. And they are addicted. It's just a little sad. Pepsi sounds kinda femmey, you know? Coke--sounds more butch.

Today, during my sophomore honors class, the topic veered suddenly and sharply from The Objective Complement to My Wardrobe. I'm not entirely sure how this occurred, but my clothing and taste have become topics before. Today, the question was posed, "Mrs. D., do you even own a pair of regular shoes?" Let me interject here by stating for the record that I was wearing my red Liz Claiborne heels. Naturally, I asked the student to clarify the term "regular shoes," which was revealed to be "tennis shoes." I paused. The room was silent; each student was staring at me, eyes watchful and anxious. You could have heard a fish fart. In Guatemala. I pretended to think very, very hard. "No," I answered finally, "I don't." Every single eyeball in the room, save my own, popped out onto the floor. There was a mad scramble while each newly-blind student sought his or her own. All of that is true, except the eyeball part.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Now Is the Winter of Our Discontent

"Rain and clouds, go away.

Come again some other day.

Or I am going to slit my wrists or put my head in the oven or

Possibly take an entire bottle of whatever meds I have leftover in

The nightstand drawer if this shitty weather keeps up much longer."

--children's rhyme of unknown origin...sorta

But seriously, this relentless grey drizzle and damp has got to GO. Don't get me wrong: I am thrilled down to my usually numb toes that we are not snowy and frozen here in NE Ohio. We have been very fortunate, especially this weekend. Lots of the USA got a nasty ice storm and some pretty substantial inches of the white stuff. At one point, Canada was intent upon sending us a clipper packing some very frigid temps, and a high of only 13 was forecast for midweek around here. But for once, the front tracked a wee bit differently, and we were spared. Now we will attain the lofty peaks of about 27. (So far! Forecasting near yet-unfrozen Lake Erie remains a challenge that far in advance.) But this neverending cloud cover and fog and drizzle and damp and intermittent showering is reaching panic-inducing status.

I mean, it's like it has seeped into my very soul! I can't remember the last time I saw sunlight. I feel housebound. There are only so many things one can do on the weekend to try and shake the feeling of heaviness and sameness. I've cleaned out the fridge, organized the pantry, done laundry, gone over the wardrobe, boldly surveyed the sock situation (no, I'm not throwing out the singletons! not yet! there is still hope; I know it!). We've gone to the mall, the warehouse club, the grocery store. I've made soups, casseroles, cakes from scratch. Jared and I even had a serious debate on the merits of owning a panda as a pet--which involved Googling. How sad is that? And we purposefully enlisted Rick and Sam. Who, just for the record, agreed with me that owning a panda would be desirable, given the proper environment. Jared, on the opposing side, is an idiot, obviously. By the way, he also vetoed owning a koala. Clearly, he is just crabby.

Also, naming a panda would definitely be easier if you did not try to name it something Chinese. Stick with a basic English/American name. I like naming animals with people names, preferably something literary. But I digress. Really, the point of this post is not pandas. Not that pandas wouldn't make an utterly delightful post topic. Just not now. But they are completely charming.

Basically, the weather here sucks and I don't know how much longer I can take it. I need to go someplace where there is sunshine and, preferably, warmth. By warmth, I mean at least 70 degrees. Fahrenheit. I would like a trustworthy Dept. of Nance reader to invite me over for a while if your town fits that description. And soon. Because the forecast for the next 5 days here is more of the same.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Someone Should Be Babysitting the Speechwriter

"Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship."--speech to the nation, January 10, 2007

"Mission Accomplished" photo May 1, 2003, aboardship USS Abraham Lincoln.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Personal Jesus

Something celestial, almost otherworldly, happens to an actor when he takes on the role of all roles--Jesus Christ. Now, I realize we all have a pretty misconceived, stylized, White European view of what The Man looks like, but when anyone says "Jesus", we all see the same thing:

"Yep! That's him," we would say to the officer while we stood on one side of the two-way mirror at the lineup down at the station house, "the one with the beatific expression and the flowy hair and the neatly trimmed beard. That's the guy!" We all could describe Jesus and the sketch artists would all draw this same picture.

I started noticing that all actors as Jesus are incredibly attractive a long time ago. I think it started when I was about 8 and I first watched the movie "King of Kings" with Jeffrey Hunter. He was one great-looking Jesus. I remember this one scene when he is down on his knee; he lifts his head and looks up into the camera. His eyes are incredible. Here he is:

I remember thinking, "Oh my God. He is really handsome. Those eyes are making me feel all squooshy inside." Seriously. Here they are.

I mean, come on! I know he's Jesus and all, but really. Mesmerizing.

That movie sort of began my unofficial collection of Hot Jesuses (Hot Jesi?). Pretty much everyone who plays Jesus looks good doing it. Even Willem Defoe. Old Willem is rather "apple-doll faced." He's not really that attractive, but in "The Last Temptation of Christ", he makes a darn nice looking Jesus.

Certainly, black and white can be forgiving, but trust me: I Googled the heck out of Willem as Christ, and even the sweaty and bloody ones were pretty good.

Naturally, you can't have a Hot Jesus collection and not include the Classic Seventies Rock Opera Jesus, Ted Neeley from Jesus Christ Superstar. It's almost not fair; Ted Neeley, who recently went back on the road in Superstar is still hot even now, whether he's playing Jesus or not.
Honestly, he might be the hottest Jesus ever. Certainly he's the most musical, and the only one who sustains a scream worthy of an 80s hair band.
Second only to Jeffrey Hunter in the eyes department has to be Robert Powell, who played Jesus in a television miniseries called "Jesus of Nazareth" in about 1977. Robert Powell has these startling light blue eyes that are almost as eerie as Meg Foster's, whose are downright scary. But I digress. Robert Powell made a very ethereal, Goth-like but fascinatingly attractive Jesus.
Finally, there's Jeremy Sisto as Jesus in the most recent television miniseries offering simply titled "Jesus." It ran in 1999 and had a memorable cast, mainly because Debra Messing of Will and Grace played Mary Magdalene. I didn't watch it, but I saw plenty of previews and magazine covers that proved my thesis that actors are automatically hot when they play Jesus. Jeremy Sisto's Jesus was sort of a laid-back, scruffy Jesus, though, you could tell. He had a casual air about him. Kind of a "geeze, Judas, don't get so serious" Jesus. But still pretty darn easy on the eyes.I mean, a cute Jesus, really, if you look at him. Not that sort of tragic, thinking about the future sort of distracted Jesus, like the other ones. More accessible. I liked that. I thought about whether I had a favorite Jesus or not out of all these, and I guess I don't. But I think Jeffrey Hunter, my first, will always be a little bit special.

Monday, January 01, 2007

O! Whatever Should We Do Without Men?

What a fat lot of lazing around I've been doing here at The Dept. and it's given me time to do one of my favorite things: go on long stretches of just meandering through my thoughts via the remote control. "Sitting and flipping" is what I like to call it. I don't really watch anything on the television; instead, I use it as a catalyst for thinking about things I haven't really given consideration or time to in a long while. Oh, lucky you!

My first thought arose when I watched Richard Engel, The Baghdad Dish, on MSNBC. Unlike a great deal of attractive men, he is incredibly articulate and intelligent. It has been my experience that most goodlooking men should just shut up and stand in the corner, looking good. That really is all that we require of them. But Richard Engel--he can, and should, keep talking. Do you not know of him? Here he is, in all his straight-teethed, lovely-haired glory:

(photo courtesy of

But, lest you think I am completely shallow, I can also appreciate the slightly imperfectly handsome man, such as Jake Weber, who plays the husband on the television show Medium starring Patricia Arquette. He has an endearing British accent which the show has not in any way felt necessary to explain; he plays a math-geeky engineer who is a terrific father of three blondie daughters; he is incredibly patient and loving and helpful-strong, not "I'll just take over because I'm the man and you obviously are having a meltdown"-strong; and there are times during the show that he absolutely melts me. Have you seen the show? I now watch it only for him. Here he is:

Not my type at all, but as I said, sometimes it is not the look, it's the guy. Which is still something that many, many men just do not get. Which reminds me of a great quote from the book Bridget Jones's Diary. I will paraphrase it to get to the most germane part here: some "men--are so catastrophically unevolved that soon they will just be kept by women as pets for sex...outside in kennels"(Fielding 67). I might add here that, except for the "outside in kennels" part, many, many, many men would be just fine with this.

But, I digress. There's one more man I thought about and want to discuss.

Inexplicably, I join the legions of women who find themselves drawn to a most unlikely paramour. What is it about him? It's not the conventional handsomeness of the Baghdad Dish, nor the cuddly security of Mr. Medium. This guy...there's just something about him. He's charismatic, he's enigmatic, he's got an attractiveness all his own. And he's a brain, too. I'd love him in real life as well. He's even more of a character there:

Hugh Laurie, also known as Dr. Gregory House, has captivated almost every female I know. We alerted each other when he was going to be on "Inside the Actor's Studio." We fought to stay awake to watch him host "Saturday Night Live" (and those of us who couldn't do it and are too pathetic to record on our VCRs--ahem!--were thrilled when it was rerun so soon!). We Hugh Laurie fans congratulate ourselves on having such a smart, unusual idol. And, like many Brits, he isn't constantly in the news doing something horrifically embarrassing or stupid. Seems like the American celebs have the monopoly on that. And, though it pains me to say it, so do the women.

Which brings me to another one of my points, and yes, I have made one or two already.

Really intensely, insanely, heartrendingly handsome men should just do that and nothing else. Be goodlooking, be beautiful, and shut the hell up. Oh, okay...go ahead and do a little acting if you must. But face the fact (literally)--you are gorgeous and that is your thing. If you open your mouth and try to sound relevant or political, or even like you know where there are starving children, you will sound like an idiot. Besides, no one will be listening anyway. She/he will be watching how your mouth moves when you say your Ws or the way your eyes crinkle at the corners when you get all sincere. Or try to.

Sigh. It is your cross to bear.

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