Sunday, December 30, 2007

It's Christmastime! There's no need to be afraid?

Random things I found the day after Christmas while trolling a mall in Maryland. Before you judge me, you should know that there's nothing really to do in Maryland but troll malls and drink. Fact.

Singing pigs. Much creepier in person, but here's the gist of it:

I don't know what the manufacturer was thinking with this monkey:

But I know that the folks in charge of making this turtle dance to "Mister Roboto" were thinking "awesome":

Fat babies! Come get your fat babies! They're gonna grow up just like you, fat and angry and stupid!

Why, you might ask? Well, here's a thought:

My sister took me to some huge grocery store to, apparently, agree with her that it was a huge grocery store. They had truffles there at the bargain price of $999.99 per pound. No, I'm not kidding:

And last but not least, some miscellany:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blah blah blah

It was always just the two of us, Mr. Binky and I. A girl and her monkey against the whole wide world. We devised a delightful plan, and dreamed of the days that lay beyond the fences and walls of this hellish hovel. He left first, and when he made it out he was going to come back for me.

His plane flew far and true, over the horizon, his tattered scarf waving in the wind. I waited for years for his return. I finally escaped on my own one day, out of the blue and much to my own surprise. If I ever catch Mr. Binky in a dark alley, it'll be curtains for him for sure.

Damn dirty ape.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Signs of desperation

I love getting gift cards. I fucking love them. Unless it's to someplace shitty, like the Hallmark store or something. I'd rather get a $15 gift certificate to Borders than have you spend $15 on some shitty wall decoration that I'll hate but have to display because it's manners.

Gift cards are awesome because you're giving people want they really want - a shopping spree. Sometimes food gift cards are a great idea, such as cards for Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, if you happen to know that the recipient likes those places. But here is where you cross the line between "Something you might find useful and fun to treat yourself with" to "I have completely given up":

That's kind of trashy, FYI. And even if you're giving it to someone who LOVES Burger King, you're doing more harm than good. "Yes, tubby, go eat a big juicy burger. Have some greasy fries, too, that's right. Ask for extra mayo on that burger, because it's a gift card and what better gift can I give you than a fucking coronary?"

Do both of you a favor and just give a Wal-Mart gift card. Same level of trashy, but you're not responsible when the recipient (after having spent the card on donuts and soda) has a myocardial infarction.


So last night I'm toddling around the apartment about to go to bed and suddenly there is a mess of lights and sirens flying by out side. Cops mostly, but also two ambulances. They were heading south, and the fire station is south of me, so I don't know if there were fire trucks. It was quite a ruckus at any rate.

So today I went to see what happened. I checked both of our weekly, local (Oak Park centric) papers' web sites, and I couldn't find anything. So I wrote to one of them:

"I live on Oak Park Avenue, and last night there were about six squad cars blaring by, alarms and lights going. It sounded like there were more coming from a block or more west of OP Ave, too, but that might have just been a Doppler thing. I also heard two ambulances. What happened?

Why isn't this newsworthy? I'm not trying to be a smart ass here, I just don't understand why all the news on is old news, not new news. I understand that you publish every Wednesday, but does that necessitate a completely block on current events throughout the week?


And this lady writes back,

Who said it’s not newsworthy? I heard the sirens too, around 10 p.m. We don’t work overnight. When we find out what happened, we’ll get it on the web.

What the fuck? She's the editor of this paper and she hears all these sirens and can't be bothered to put her damn coat on and go get the haps? Yes, it was cold last night, but if I had a press pass I'd be running down there like a hooker to a ho convention, half because I'm nosy and half because it's my damn job.

This shit is why she's always going to be the editor of some shitty local weekly rag instead of working at a real newspaper.

Ho ho ho

Black Monday! Time for shopping! I went to the Toys R Us site yesterday and I was greeted with this:

What the fuck? So I went to see what kind of games need a girls-only version. And here we go:

Monopoly: Pink Boutique Edition

"This is Monopoly like you have never seen it - dressed up in pink and all about things girls love! Buy boutiques and malls, go on a shopping spree, pay your cell phone bill, and get text and instant messages. You and your friends will adore the funky tokens, cool buildings, and cute illustrations. Best of all, the game is stored in a beautiful keepsake box which doubles as a jewelry box. Cool game features include: 8 collectible tokens just for girls, keepsake storage box with removable tray and mirrored insert, pink gameboard with fun properties, pink and purple translucent boutiques and malls instead of houses and hotels, Instant Message and Text Message cards instead of Chance and Community Chest, pink Title Deed cards, redesigned Monopoly money, flocked banker's tray, 2 pink dice, and instructions. Paint the town pink with Toys R Us Exclusive!"

(Because girls only ever want shopping sprees and funky tokens. By the by, any girl who wants to be this game's idea of a woman probably never actually has to pay her own cell phone bill.)

Jenga Girl Talk

"Gather your girlfriends and get ready for a twist on this classic wood block game. Jenga GirlTalk has a cool new look and a fun new element - pull out a block, then answer a question, such as: If you had one wish, what would you wish for? or Who is your closest friend? It will have you and your friends stackin', askin' and laughin', but remember - don't let 'em topple! Includes 54 precision-crafted solid wood blocks, each with a different question, an ultracool, stylish microfiber stacking sleeve, and instructions."

(This is actually a great way to start a bitch fight. I can see it now, 11-year-olds all throwing their Capri-Sun pouches at each other, shrieking about "Suzie is MY best friend, you fucking cunt!" and "What do you mean, you'd wish Steve would kiss you? I AM CARRYING HIS FUCKING BABY!")

Oh, and let's see what you can get if you're not comfortable with these choices:

"Oh, here you go you big fat fatty, Merry Xmas. By the by, don't eat the game. Fatty."

Even if you're giving this to a perfectly healthy girl, this is what she will hear. And it will scar her for life, FYI.

Actual non-sarcastic pro tip: When shopping for kids, go two years above what the item recommends. For example, if you're shopping for a 12-year-old, look for stuff in the 14-year-old's section. The recommended ages are basically lowest common denominator suggestions. Unless the kid you're shopping for is the lowest common denominator, in which case just get a box with a ball inside, and duct tape the box all over. This is more for your entertainment than the child's, but the child will never know.

Monday, November 26, 2007


I cleaned out the memory card on my camera yesterday. Here are some random shots:

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Sunday, November 25, 2007


In the past year, I've had to call 911 three times. The first time, last December, some lady followed me into my apartment building and tried to fight with me. She thought my neighbor had stolen her coat and wanted me to move so she could go, I don't know, fight with my neighbor or something. She was drunk and wouldn't leave, so I called the cops.

The second time was a few months ago, I was at a friend's house. His neighbors were fighting, which wasn't a big deal, but I heard the lady scream (in answer to her live-in boyfriend's question, which I couldn't hear), "Because you fucking BEAT ME. THAT'S WHY." Then there were a series of thuds and bangs that basically sounded like someone was getting their ass kicked. My friend didn't want to call the cops, I never really understood why, but he asked me to, so I did.

Just now, I was turning from Madison onto Oak Park Avenue behind a big white van. I was in the middle of turning when the van stopped and the driver opened the door to puke. Or something like puke. I could only see his head and then see something splat on the ground. He started driving again, weaving all over the road, going 17-25 in a 30 MPH zone, and when we pulled up to a red light he leaned out to puke again. The he started to drive but stopped because nobody else was going (the light was still red). When the light changed, he didn't go. Then he swerved his way another half block before I just pulled over to call 911 to report him as a drunk driver.

A few years ago, I thought some girl was dead behind the wheel of an older mini van. She wasn't responding, her van looked fucked up, I called 911 after asking her repeatedly if she was okay. It wasn't until after I was giving the operator our location that I hear, "I'm fine. Jesus Christ!" And I looked up and she's staring at me with eyes that certain shade of blue that look creepy no matter where you see them.

Earlier that year, I called 911 because a semi had run over a minivan in its blind spot and kept going. A few years before that because I got mugged.

I guess the whole point of this list is, you'd think a life with this much police activity would be a lot more interesting, but here I am, just loading up my MP3 player, eating raisins, and wondering if "Pushing Daisies" is new this week

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Friday's Feast

It's late. Such is life.

What was your first “real” job?

I worked at a camp for people with disabilities when I was 15. I learned all about working with people in wheel chairs, on crutches, deaf people, blind people, people who were playing quite a few cards short of a full deck. I took the job because it was an overnight camp and it meant I wouldn't have to spend endless, agonizing hours stuck at my dad's place with my step sister. Everyone says what a great first job that is, and how I'm a wonderful person for doing that for three summers, but basically it was just because I wanted to get the hell out of the house.

Where would you go if you wanted to spark your creativity?

I get on the el. Go downtown or just ride around.

Complete this sentence: I am embarrassed when…

I realize I've zoned out in public and I have no idea what I've been doing for the past few minutes. For all I know, I was scratching inappropriate places while standing in line at the grocery store.

Main Course
What values did your parents instill in you?

Don't be an asshole. Don't beg.

Name 3 fads from your teenage years.

Big, big bangs on girls. Tall more than big, I guess. The "grunge" look (AKA the "Look! Maggie's finally in style!" era). Salt n Peppa. And now I have "What a Man" stuck in my head.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Darjeeling Limited

I saw this yesterday with a friend, and I didn't like it as much as I liked "Life Aquatic" and "Royal Tenenbaums." Two of the metaphors they used were handed so heavily that I nearly dislocated my eyes from rolling them so hard, and I think they took out pieces of the movie after Owen Wilson's fiasco a few months ago. Things that I read that were going to be parts of the movie before that mess weren't there in the version I saw yesterday. Maybe they'll have them in the bonus features on the DVD.

The friend I saw it with hadn't seen "Royal Tenenbaums," but I'd watched "Life Aquatic" with her and she liked "Darjeeling Limited" better. I've heard other people say that Bill Murray was in there basically because he's always in Anderson's movies, and that certainly seemed the case here. The few minutes he's in the film it's like he's trying to be extra funny because that's his job, but he's obviously not trying very hard. I still love Bill Murray, though, and those four fleeting moments of film won't tarnish that. He only had one line, two if you count screaming, so it's not like he had a lot to work with.

I hope this is the last time Anderson makes this movie (let's face it, it's so far along the same lines as the other two that it borders on insulting the audience's intelligence), but I know I'll go see it again if he gives it another go.

All in all, I'd recommend it if you liked "Life Aquatic" and "Royal Tenenbaums." If you hated those, though, don't bother.

Oh, and I took some pictures and video while I was downtown:

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Friday, November 9, 2007

Beef stew & Cornbread

I found an old CD I put together years ago. It was like a little time capsule, and I was listening to it while I made the beef stew & cornbread, so there was a lot of dancing and singing. Not so much with the picture taking, though. I digress.

Beef stew, in the beginning:

The instructions said "put the flower in a plastic bag and use it to coat the meat," and honestly my first thought was the grocery bag I brought the ingredients home in. It had been a long day, I wasn't thinking clearly. Anyhow, flour in a bag, in case you needed a visual:

Coated meat:

And this is right about the time I realized I forgot to cut up the bigger pieces into smaller pieces:

I let that cook with all the spices for an hour, during which time I did dishes and danced. Don't be jealous, it's no way to live your life.

Then it was time to make the corn bread. I think we all know how this goes. Dry ingredients, wet ingredients, pan:

Meanwhile, I cut up some veggies for the stew. I know that sounds like a bit too much excitement for some of you, so I'm going to skip posting those pics.*

So anyway, finished cornbread:

And finished stew:

Looks pretty good, right? Wrong. The potatoes and carrots in the stew weren't done, and the cornbread was kind of grainy, like the corn meal hadn't, I don't know, mixed right. Instead of melt-in-your-mouth good, the whole thing was kind of crunchy. I put the cornbread in the bottom of the bowl of stew (like normal people do) so it wasn't as noticeable, but the crunchy potatoes and carrots were still kind of shitty.

So, next time I'll add those much earlier, and then the frozen stuff for the last half hour.

Meanwhile, I need a better cornbread recipe.

Friday's Feast

Friday's feast (via VH)

Which snack do you like to get when you go to the movies?

Reese's Pieces and a Diet Coke. Sounds redundant, right? I just like how Diet Coke tastes, so fuck off.

What year did you start using the internet? Um, maybe 1990. My brother put Norton Commander and Prodigy on Mom's computer and
viola, suddenly the computer wasn't just for video games any more.

What is your first name in Pig Latin?

Main Course
Name something you are picky about.

Ketchup. When I got arrested last November (didn't have my insurance card on me) I was a little irritated that my big-ass bottle of ketchup was going to freeze while the car sat in impound. Dammit.

Fill in the blanks: I _____ ______ yesterday and I ____ ____ today.

Made stew, got paid.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Oh Mickey You're so Fine, You're So...WTF

I was getting ready for work today and I noticed the throw rug by my bed was kind of folded. No big deal, it slides around a lot. I went to straighten it out and I see something odd on it. I reach down to see wtf is on my rug, and it moves. It was a mouse. A fucking mouse snoozing in the folds of the rug by my bed.

I yelped and ran into the kitchen, emptied out a Pringles can and put it over the mouse. He wasn't moving much, but he was moving, and I was freaking out. I slid a DVD case under the rug and wrestled with the problem of throwing him off the balcony. The problem wasn't throwing the mouse - the further the better - the problem was that I wasn't fully dressed yet. I had on my blouse and skirt, but the skirt wasn't zipped up or anything. I was looking down to zip up the skirt when I noticed the rug/mouse situation. I didn't want to take my hand off the Pringles can because the mouse could easily knock it over and run.

I finally decided, fuck it - it was 5:50 in the morning, anybody on the street at that hour can't focus their eyes well enough to even notice me on the balcony, so I went for it. I threw the thing off the balcony and heard it land one story down on the sidewalk. I didn't stop to see if it scampered off, I just ran back inside and into the kitchen.

I pulled things off the shelves of the pantry at random, seeing what had been chewed into, looking for signs of droppings or a nest. There was nothing. Cereal, pasta, sugar, cake and bread mixes - all that stuff was completely intact. I think it ran in the door when the door was open last night - my hands were full and I was standing in the open doorway for a bit while I tried to put down the stuff I was carrying. Really, the only sign I could find that a mouse was in my apartment was the mouse in my apartment.

So anyway, I initially touched the mouse with the index and middle finger of my right hand. I washed my hands after I threw the mouse out, and again after I checked the pantry. And again at work. I can see now what Lady Macbeth was going on about - the feel of that mouse is still on my fingers.

Given that the mouse hardly moved when I touched it and didn't run when I ran to the kitchen for something to catch it in, I think it was injured. But I stepped right over it three times today when I went to hit the snooze button on the cell phone's alarm. And I wouldn't have noticed it if I had been putting on my skirt anywhere else in the room. I'm lucky it didn't turn and bite me, I'd be having to drag it in for rabies testing and shit.

And then on the way to work it sounded like someone threw a rock at my car, and it bounced off the roof and down the back window. I checked it when I got to work, and there are marks in the rubber seal above the back window, very uniform looking marks. I don't know if that's related to the sound I heard, but damn, what the fuck is with today?

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Let the games begin

So, unofficially, the holiday season has begun. Christmas music in stores, Christmas decorations, Christmas commercials, Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. I ducked into a Wal-Mart yesterday to use their facilities. When I was there, I remembered I needed yarn, and decided to save myself a trip. I wandered through the store and found the most ridiculous things that, I fear, will be significant pieces of the holiday game this year.

Among them was the creepy mechanical horse:

The reason it caught my eye was that as I was coming around a corner, I saw its tail swish. I thought "Oh, a big stuffed horse. Some kid must have brushed past its tail in passing."

Then it turned its head and looked right the fuck at me. I actually took a step back, it was so creepy. I could only take a quick, 15-second video with my camera. Wal-Mart (like all national chains) frowns upon in-store photography, so I had to be covert.

I can see the "neat-o" factor in the toy, but really - what does it do? I saw no evidence of it walking or doing anything remotely interesting, besides going through its pre-programmed twitching and whinnying. Turns out it's called the Fur Real Butterscotch Pony, and apparently it's been around for years. They have a whole line: Cuddling Chimp, some kittens, and even a polar bear.

All of which is a parent's way of saying, "I can't be bothered to give you unconditional love or to even hug you when you need it, so here is some fake fur and a bunch of batteries. I am giving you this in exchange for your love."

Not a new sentiment by any means, but this mechanical doll crap certainly adds an element of creepy that wasn't there before.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And the beat goes on...

Suntimes headline:

Man wins $2 mil. for false arrest
'THEY RUINED MY WHOLE LIFE' | Chicago Police allegedly framed suspect in case

Former Marine disarmed a drunken, belligerent, off-duty Chicago cop. Suddenly, he's up on attempted kidnapping charges. The court says he was framed by the cops, so he gets $2 million in Chicago tax dollars.

The part of this article that needs a little more explanation is this:

"Tuesday's verdict comes a week after another jury found other Chicago Police officers guilty of assaulting a teen with a screwdriver, resulting in a $4 million settlement against the Chicago Police Department. The teen was represented by the same firm."

Sounds kind of scary, eh? Like they were smacking this kid with a screwdriver, or maybe even stabbing him. That was sodomy. $4,000,000 worth of sodomy, courtesy of Chicago's finest.

So $6 million just this week has gone to cleaning up the messes made by our boys in blue. While one of my favorite blogs certainly makes a good point about people filing false complaints against the CPD, the fact is that there are probably more than a few completely power-crazed, insane, violent people on the force.

By "more than a few" I mean more than you would find in your average group of non-cops. Every group of people has a population percent that includes power-hungry, crazy jackasses. The CPD seems to just have more than its fair share.

If Daley is really going to turn this mess around, the discipline has to start now. And yes, bring in someone from the outside. Don't put someone who already owes favors all over town in the top spot of a corrupt system.

Relax, Daley - I meant the new chief, not you.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A flow chart to your friendship

CTA Credit Card Theft

One of the many Chicago-centric blogs that I persue on a regular basis has spilled the beans on a little CTA-related scandal. This is from Second City Cop:

"From the comments - shouldn't this be front page news?

* OFF TOPIC: On Thursday a CTA employee was in Area 4 under arrest for identity theft. She was charged Friday with felony identity theft for stealing the credit card numbers of riders paying for their monthly fare card with credit cards. Gave the numbers to her boyfriend and they then went and bought all kinds of nice things for themselves. While she was up in Area 4, we had a "reverend" arrive and demand to speak to her. The bosses told him no, so he then pulls out his CTA identification. He's a CTA board member, and he got her the job. The best part, Huberman himself called Area 4 and asked that this be handled quietly. Did not want any bad publicity since he's now asking for more money for the CTA from riders and taxpayers. After the holy man/CTA board member started making more waves about talking with his wayward subject phone calls were made to the CTA bigshots by Area 4 bosses. They told the CTA to get this guy out of Area 4 or this arrest was going on the 24 log and there would be a press conference. He walked out shortly after that and it was not put on the 24 log which is for 'newsworthy events". A CTA employee stealing from riders gets charged with a felony while the CTA is asking for more tax money and that's not newsworthy?

Hey media? We could use a break from our scandals. How about picking on CTA for a bit? Of course, if this is true, we'd have another scandal on our hands for not putting noteworthy news on the 24 hour report and covering for the west side reverend association.

Seems like the reverends are at the forefront of a number of scandals. Hmmmm."


Basically, this is why I don't sign up to give the CTA my credit card number. Why give information like that to a company that's basically about to have to file bankruptcy? Sheesh.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lemon Bars

Or Look! Something Worked! Maybe This Cooking Stuff isn't Bullshit After All!

I love lemon desserts. Cookies, cake, lemon bars, lemon, I don't know, pudding, whatever. Damn, that is tasty stuff! So, lemon bars.

Make some dough - butter, flour, sugar. Done. Mash it into the bottom of an 8x8 pan. I only have one shitty disposable one, but it's better than none, so....done. Lemon sauce mix: gotta get some finely grated lemon peel and some lemon juice. Got a lemon. This is where it got fun.

I don't have a zester or a fine grater. I have one grater and it's basically standard size. But it grated that peel up pretty well. I was making this while the oven was heating and while the squash was burning, so I was a little distracted and didn't get a shot of the grated peel. Cry me a river.

I needed three table spoons of lemon juice. Oops! I don't own a juicer thingy. Like the rolling pin thing, I improvised. I took the top from my pepper shaker:

Cleaned it really, really well, and used it as a juicer thingy:

And it was full of pulp and seeds, so I grabbed a coffee filter and filtered that stuff out.

The trick is when you're draining it, you press it (don't squeeze it) very gingerly with your fingertips so the filter doesn't break. Then you have some fine lemon juice:

It doesn't look like much, and I don't know what you're supposed to get from a lemon, but I got the three table spoons I needed with about half a table spoon left over. I drank it in victory, and regretted it immediately.

I couldn't cook this with the squash because it needed a 325 oven and currently my possessed, crazy ass oven was at about 425...ish. So I put the lemon mix in the fridge (it had eggs in it and I didn't know how long that squash was going to screw around in the oven before I could get the lemon bars in, and I didn't want it to go bad.)

I put the dough in to cook, it came out fine. I'm setting the timer for half what's recommended, then checking on it to see if my oven has vetoed my food.

I poured the lemon mix on the decent dough bottom, and it came out okay:

I wasn't expecting the dull crust on top, but when I cut it open, it was nice and custardy. Also, when I cut into it I realized I'd forgotten to grease the pan. Oh well.

It's also pretty sweet, but that might just be me. They were pretty good, though. If I can tone down the sweetness of it and buy a real 8x8 pan, I'd make these more often. They're pretty easy and quick.

And I'm basically really proud of myself for thinking of that juicing trick.

Acorn Squash

Or, It Turns Out My Oven is Possessed by the Ghost of Julia Childs's Jealous Sister, Melba Childs, Who Could Never Get Her Creme to Properly Brulee, and is Taking Her Sister's Taunts of "Mebla Can't Toast" Out on My Fucking Oven

I got an oven thermometer because obviously, given the nut bread fiasco, the knob on the oven doesn't really know what goes on in my oven.

So I set it for 425. Took about 45 minutes to get there. I put the damn squash in, 15 minutes later, the oven was at 510. I'm going to just throw some pictures up here because I know you're smart enough to figure out how this went down, and I'm pretty excited about the lemon bars that I still want to post before I get to bed.

I wasn't at all surprised to discover that the squash wasn't cooked all the way through and the brown sugar hadn't quite dissolved. It was way too sweet. It was okay, though. I guess. Maybe I just can't take sugar like I used to. Maybe that's what being 30 and feeling 45 means. I love acorn squash, though, so I'll try a different recipe in the future. Also, I had to quadruple the stuffing mix (walnuts, raisins, brown sugar, butter) to get enough to fill all four squash halves.