Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What Do Catholics, republicans, And Chicken Pot Pie All Have In Common?

Fountainhead by Seyed Alavi
It's been a perfectly ghastly week, and I need to write to Feel Human again. All I have been able to do since Friday night is whimper, take drugs, lie down, and wonder for the eleventy hundredth time Why It Is That I Live Here in this godforsaken weather corridor. And why it is that Weather People cannot tell me what is coming, when, and for how long with any sort of reliability whatsoever. It all conspires to be mighty enough to make me say The Eff Word, almost, and I have been trying So Hard To Quit.

In case you wanted to know what it is like to rise from a Days-Long Migraine Process and try to re-enter Real Life, I have found something that is a little bit similar. Here; try to read this:

“Things must change for our government. Look at it. It isn’t too big to fail. It’s too big to succeed! It’s too big to succeed, so we can afford no retreads or nothing will change with the same people and same policies that got us into the status quo. Another Latin word, status quo, and it stands for, ‘Man, the middle-class everyday Americans are really gettin’ taken for a ride.’ That’s status quo, and GOP leaders, by the way, y’know the man can only ride ya when your back is bent. So strengthen it. Then the man can’t ride ya, America won’t be taken for a ride, because so much is at stake and we can’t afford politicians playing games like nothing more is at stake than, oh, maybe just the next standing of theirs in the next election.”

I'd like to echo DNC Communications Director Mo Elleithee and simply say, "Thank you." But of course, I can't. This speech by 2008 Presidential candidate John McCain's selection for his Vice President is beyond bizarre, even for her. As she continues to struggle for relevance in any avenue of American life, let's hope that it's not only the Democrats who sympathetically shake their heads and back away, whispering sadly. (Can we talk about it later over cocktails and nibblies, having a guilty laugh or two? Heavens, yes.)  And no, I won't mention her name and dignify her.

You know, here's another shitful thing about Migraineus Interruptus. I was being Such A Good Girl about my exercise regimen, plodding away on my Dreadmill of Punishment and even switching it up by shovelling the driveway (I know!), and then, Migraine. Down for the count. Thank goodness I don't have one of those Jawbone or FitBit thingies that would beep or vibrate or nag at me to Get Up. Like I need that. I bet you anything a Catholic invented those damn things. "Don't you feel guilty for not getting up and getting moving? Did you do your 10K steps today? CHRIST DIED ON THE CROSS FOR YOU AND YOU CAN'T EVEN MANAGE TEN THOUSAND STEPS?!?!?!" I'm getting a Monday 5PM Headache just thinking about it.

I think we all Want To Do Better. I really do. Okay, well, maybe not a Certain Bob Evans Restaurant. My friends Leanne and Jim, who live in Southern Maryland, each got sick with a terrible cold. They merely wanted some nice comfort food and were too tired and ill to cook for themselves. They went to a nearby Bob Evans restaurant--slogan, "Down On The Farm"--and ordered right off the menu, nothing fancy. Leanne ordered the Chicken Pot Pie, described as "Slow-roasted chicken, carrots, peas, celery and onions in a rich cream sauce covered with a flaky crust." Here is the teensy picture from the menu:

Doesn't that look good, even though it's pixellated?  I can see why she ordered it.  Sadly, that is not what she got.  Here is what she got:

I think that, after this, they are Down On The Farm all right.

It's snowing here again, despite the odds being 40%.  The forecast changes hourly.  I'm tired of hearing all the new terms for Winter Weather--Snowmageddon, Polar Vortex, Bombogenesis.  I'm starting to think that, here in NEO anyway, if it weren't for Sports or Weather, there would be no "News."

What a lot of Effing Bullshit.  (Strangely, that did not make me feel better.)  Do let's chat in Comments.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Don't Speak...Don't Tell Me 'Cause It Hurts

Lest I be typecast as a Stuffy Language Martinet, I will talk about The Language again; this time, however, let us chat about Words. How I love them! And contrary to popular belief, I love how our language is elastic and accommodating and expands to accept new words all the time.

For the most part.

But let's face it. Lots of words that have entered The Language, whether through slang, politics, business, or the tech world, are simply terrible and horrid. When we hear them, our response can vary from annoyance to hurt feelings, from an eye roll to a rising gorge. Sometimes, if you're like me, you might even wish that Official Smacking From A Retired English Teacher were permissible, even encouraged. (I'm willing to stipulate that, perhaps, that response may be Just Me.)

Regardless, for the past forty years, a college in Michigan has become relatively celebrated for annually publicizing a list of words that it deems banished from The Language for "misuse, overuse, and general uselessness." (Apparently, anyone can submit nominations for the list here.) Let's take a look at their list of banned words for 2015, thanks to their misuse, overuse, and general uselessness in 2014:

1. BAE--Supposedly an acronym for "before anyone else", this is a term of endearment whose acronym meaning was added well after its usage became popular. Personally, I think if you have to shorten "babe", you are beyond lazy, or "blay".

2. POLAR VORTEX--This was an actual meteorological thing, but because the media could not help themselves and repeated it like a mantra, it made living through it that much harder.

3. HACK--Let's go back to saying "tip" or "suggestion" and use HACK to mean a bad cough, bad writer, or bad haircut.

4. SKILL SET--"Skills." You're welcome.

5. SWAG--I have one of these above most of my living room and bedroom drapes. I like that meaning. Beyond that, what's wrong with "swagger," a word we already have? Too long to type or say? Actually, this would be a terrifically creative slang term for "penis." Think about all the meaning packed in there.

6. FOODIE--I consider myself a foodie, a person who is interested in and appreciates food, whether it is eating it, growing it, cooking/baking it, or selecting it and trying new kinds of it. I'm not really a gourmet, and I'm not aware of another word that expresses What I Am. Tell me one, and I'm happy to banish foodie forever. It's a goofy, kiddish word.

7. CURATE/CURATED--What a pretentious, overblown term for "chosen" or "selected." How terribly stupid, really.  Does one really curate an array of garage sale items?  Cans of cat food?  If so, I am a Curator.

8. FRIEND-RAISING--I had never heard this, ever, but I am old and not on TwitPinFace. Apparently, it is using your Social Media Contacts for fundraising purposes. How utterly gauche and incredibly opportunistic. It's like when Jerry Seinfeld got a girl's phone number off an AIDS walk list.

9. CRA-CRA--I first heard this horrifically grating term for "crazy" from Valerie Mayen, Cleveland designer on Season 8 of Project Runway in 2010. Hated it then; hate it now. Love her clothes, though.

10. ENHANCED INTERROGATION--Oh, Dick Cheney and Faux News can call it anything they want. Torture is torture. Get ready for more of this term because another Bush is running, and there will be at least half a dozen debates.

11. TAKEAWAY--I love how the UK use this term rather than "carryout" for food to go. But this is the tiresome, big-meeting, inservice application. It's the new "bottom line" and "final analysis." Ugh. Nothing good--even linguistically--happens in meetings.

12. -NATION--Tack this on the end of something and it identifies a group of followers or fans. Raiders Nation. Cubs Nation. Nance Nation. Hey, wait...! No, not even that one makes it okay. So cliche, so ubiquitous, so unimaginative. Even if there were Poe Nation or DickinsoNation, I'd say no, stop. Just. Stop.

I have my own list of Words I Am Sick Of Hearing. Honestly. These words wear me out. I know they can't disappear; they have, in some cases, a legitimate raison d'etre. I'm just really tired of reading and hearing them. In no particular order, they are:

1. Kale--Overrated, tastes like dirt, now trendy and therefore overpriced.
2. Organic--Everything in the universe now comes in organic form.
3. Amazing--I railed against this overworked word years ago in a separate post.
4. Facebook--I cannot go a single day without hearing or seeing a mention of this. I still want nothing to do with it.
5. Veggies--I'm an adult; I can handle the word "vegetables." I know what they are, and I don't need them to be made cutesy in order for me to eat them or want to eat them.

Full disclosure:  I desperately wanted to add "Beyonce" and "Kardashian" to this list.  But I felt it would open the door to a great deal of proper nouns that were simply People We Disliked, not truly Words That Sickened Us.  In the case of Beyonce and Kardashians, the former is not someone I dislike.  I really am tired of hearing about her.  When it comes to Kardashians, however, it is a fact that not only am I weary of hearing the name, but I also dislike the very Idea Of Them.

So.  Now it is your turn, your opportunity to Banish Words From The Language, or, at the very least, to identify a few Words Which Sicken You.  List away in Comments.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Where Are All Of The Smart People Hiding?

Is it just me, or is Stupid the New Normal? I feel as if, not so very long ago, some massive shift occurred and, at that point, it became Perfectly Acceptable to air out your ignorance and you didn't have to worry because everyone would Really Be Okay With It.

All of you know when I would fix that turning point; it would be the day that George W. Bush took the oath of office and control of the White House. At that moment mediocrity and smirky doofusness won the day, and we have never, ever been the same since. The country decided it was more important to have a President with whom they wished to "have a beer" than one who could, say, clear the board on "Jeopardy."

But I digress. My point--and I do have one--is that No One With Any Smarts seems to be in any position of authority anymore. One does not have to look very far to see Stupidity In Abundance. And on sale! Here, for example, is a shirt I found at Target here in NEO, where everyone is beyond tickled that LeBron James is back to rescue us and make our lives immeasurably better:

There is absolutely no justification for this shirt's existence.  None.  Do you mean to tell me that there was not a single person involved in the creation, execution, and packaging of this garment that didn't notice its error?

Here's some more Stupid that makes me sad.  I'm the first person to admit that I am not mathy.  But holy crap, I sure as hell don't need the Ortega Taco Shell people to hold my hand as if I might be so feeble as to need to take my shoes and socks off right there in the grocery store to figure out what The Value Is:

Oh, brother.  And believe it or not, I can actually link these two items, the LeBron shirt and the taco value pack, because I'm reminded of when Dan Gilbert first took ownership of the team and arena.  One of the things he did was to add a New! Feature! to the Jumbotron scoreboard.  Called The Diff, it showed the point differential between the Cavs and their opponents.  Yes.  That's correct.  It did the math for you so that you didn't have to. Another example of The Stupid.  Here it is, in all its glory:

Sigh.  Finally, because Stupid is The New Normal, no one cares to do any better.  Everyone gleefully pulls out his markers and her doofusness and figures it's all going to be Just Peachy because You Know What They Mean, Right?  Like this:

Sam snapped this for me at the Goodwill Store near his workplace.  So, no, it's not some trendy textile art show by a cool hipster artiste named Kid.  Nope.  We should be so lucky.

Listen.  Apostrophes, correct grammar, intelligent discourse, and clear speech aren't like high heels and pearls and tuxedos; they aren't meant only for special occasions and the elite classes.  Too many people and businesses are engaging in Sweatpant Language, and I'm sick of it.  Class up your act, America, and do better.

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

It's So Hard To Get Good Help These Days

Greetings from The Tundra, where I await the furnace people whilst outdoors it is sunny and zero degrees with wind chills of -20. Thankfully, my furnace is working, as is evidenced by what sounds like an idling cement truck emanating from the basement. To coddle it, I have pitched the thermostat at a chilly 71 instead of my usual toasty 74, and I am wearing my fleece-lined spandex dreadmilling pants and a spandex camisole topped by a sweatshirt. It goes without saying that I am freezing.

I am hoping so hard that the furnace is just fine and, if it is not, that it is something trivial. This is because of my oven.

As I feared a month or so ago--and shared with you then--my oven has Retired. Yesterday, in a fit of Domestic Fervor, I decided to bake Rick a small cake. The bake time was to be 23 minutes. Which came and went, and my cake--an 8"x 8" square--took on an alarming likeness to the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The top cracked, but my cake tester remained wet and sticky. Back in it went for 3, 4, 5, 7 more minutes. Finally, I took it out and set it to cool. The result was a boggy, sunken mess with a cupcake-sized cake in the middle and hard, dry edges all around. Obviously, my oven is cycling on and off, up and down, never maintaining or even, perhaps, reaching optimum heat. (I cut out some decent chunks, drizzled caramel topping over them and crowned it all with a dollop of whipped cream. Rick was fine with it, but honestly, it was horrid.) Because this appliance is a Frigidaire (aka The Great Satan), it will have to be junked (ashes to ashes, junk to junk). They stopped making parts for it. For years and years, just to set the oven temperature, I have had to press the keypad AND COUNT THE BEEPS, EACH ONE REPRESENTING FIVE DEGREES HOW SAD IS THAT!? Here, look. This is my oven display when it is on and set to 350 degrees:

It actually looks way clearer in a photo.

Trust me; I counted the beeps.

And holy crap, my dishwasher is a Frigidaire. I. KNOW. Am I an idiot?

The furnace technicians arrive. They each look to be about twelve years old. One reassures me in much the same voice that I use to speak to my mother, who is 84. It is down to 68 in my living room as they cycle my furnace. I hear them laughing and chatting while the skin under my fingernails has gone blue and the tip of my nose is numb and icy. Half an hour later, my furnace continues to stubbornly purr along, quietly and efficiently making a liar of me. I briefly consider asking these adolescents to take a look at the oven.

As soon as I thaw out, I am going to make a new entry in My Journal Of Wrongs, Volume IV.  In it I will write down the fact that The Furnace Tweens told me the water supply to the humidifier was shut off, vindicating my months of urgent pleas to Rick to check it because of my constantly dry eyes, painfully tight and flaking skin, and parched lips.  No, it wasn't the cause of the mysterious and now absent noise, but it's likely going to be the cause of some new rumblings at the Dept.

Friday, January 02, 2015

2015: So Far, Mixed Results

Scene opens on living room. Rick is on one end of the couch, Nance--ensconced in jammies, fleece robe, and fleece blanket--is on the other. She looks pale and is holding a bottle of Tums. Rick--fully dressed in jeans and pullover--is holding his bigass smartphone.

Nance: Rick, I hate to ask you this, but will you give the kittens their dessert? If I have to deal with that wet cat food, I'll just--
Rick: (interrupts)--Of course. Right now?
Nance: No, not yet. They ate late, so wait until they ask for it. (belches loudly) Ugh. This is ridiculous. I feel awful.
Rick: (while studying something on his phone) I know you do. I'm so sorry. Is there anything I can do?
Nance: No. Feeding the cats for me will be great. I wish I knew what this was, though. You feel fine. We ate the same food and we (belches) drank the same water. We didn't do anything differently. I've been fighting these waves of nausea and weakness all day! I had one small glass of wine on New Year's Eve. You finished the bottle. What IS this?
Rick: I know. And I don't know.

(After several more minutes, the cats begin to stare fixedly at Nance. When it becomes undeniably sinister, Nance says, "Kittens, do you--" at which point they catapult from their position and, in a single bound, land at their dishes at the back door of the kitchen, where Rick, at his leisure, feeds them.)

Nance: (upon Rick's return) What kind was it? Beef? That would have done me in for sure.
Rick: I have no idea. I just opened it and fed them.
Nance: Oh. Well, it was a new can. Did you sing the New Can Day song?
Rick: (gives her the side-eye) No.
Nance: Did you make sure to move aside any dry food in the dishes and put the wet food in a clear spot?
Rick: (looking at her now; patient) Nance. I never put wet food on top of dry food.
Nance: Did you mash it down with the fork for them?
Rick: What? No. I plopped it down in the dish. It was pretty soft to begin with.
Nance: But they don't bite it off of a big chunk, you know. They lap at it with their tongues. They don't eat like dogs.
Rick: (only slightly exasperated) Here they come. They look like it went okay.

(The cats saunter in licking their chops. They casually jump to the top of the couch back in order to look out the window; first, however, they each take an elaborate paw bath.)

Nance: Well, thank you for doing that...(here, Rick stares at her intensely, waiting; Nance inhales, pauses; exhales) very much. ( Smiles. Inwardly, Nance congratulates herself on keeping two Resolutions: (1) Choose to be gracious; (2) Choose to be grateful. Yes!)
Rick: (smiles) You don't have to thank me, but you're welcome.

End scene

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