Sunday, April 30, 2006

Weekend Update

I'm back from a lovely 2 and a half day trip to Portland where I got to spend some time chillin' with my old buddy and fellow only child Louanne.

To summarize the trip:

Half-price Lemon Drops and Buffalo Chicken Pizza +
Reminicing about both She-Ra and Jem and the Holograms (after half price Lemon Drops) + Kicking the day off with bagels and lox and coffee +
Manicures and haircuts and spa-filled fun +
Watching "Pretty In Pink" while eating Thai food +
Tax-free shopping at Kiehls and Lush and Powells bookstore +
Sunshine and the chance to meet Vince the Wonder Fish =

A very nice weekend indeed. Thanks to my hostess!

Monday, April 24, 2006

On the Topic of Carl the Panda

Several years ago, after a particularly soul-crushing day at work, my friend and I decided that our office needed a mascot.

A mascot, we thought, would cheer us up, create pep to motivate our myriad mundane tasks, offer comfort on our down days and serve as a much-needed distraction from our regularly scheduled abuse and mistreatment.

We debated several mascot options, including an imaginary fabulously flamboyant gay boy named Trey that would give us makeovers and share his collection of genuine Dolly Parton wigs with us. We imagined what it would be like to go clubbing with Trey and how fantastic it would be to go for drinks and dish about our co-workers' bad fashion choices.

But then we met Carl. (Or rather, imagined to meet Carl.) Carl was a panda that would work at our office providing basic administrative and emotional support. Carl could get you a cup of coffee while you were on a conference call, but he could also headbutt you and give you a snuggle after you got yelled at by your boss. Mostly, he was there to listen. He was the snuggliest and more adorable imaginary mascot EVER.

I mean, think about it. Imagine (if you can) that a live panda bear worked in your office/school/hospital/spaceship/whatever and was there to help you out in meetings, or just offer snuggles when you had a bad day. Would there be ANYTHING FINER THAN THAT, I ASK YOU?

Imagine the conversation taking place in this picture:

Office professional (and apparent Michigan alum): "Jesus, Carl, PowerPoint just drives me freakin' insane. I just couldn't get slide 34 to print in Notes View for that messaging meeting!"

Carl: I'm listening. Would it help if you rubbed my tiny furry ears? They're very soft.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Piglet Slayer has a new book out!

You can bet your collective bippies that I’m all over this one.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Phrases I will likely never say in my lifetime

“Look, let’s just make things easy on everyone. We can take my minivan.”

“Who’s up for a trip to the eel farm?!”

“Why yes, I’d love more boiled celery, thanks!”

“The liberal media can complain all they want, but I have complete and utter faith that the Bush administration is doing the right thing."

"Pardon me, ma'am, is that your spleen on the floor?"

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Janes, I'm giving up

You read it here, folks, I am officially giving up on Janes Austen and Eyre.

As I continue with my spring cleaning kick, I've been filtering out my excess books that really could make themselves more useful at the used book store a block away. Some of these are just lame books that I don't understand why I bought in the first place. Others are really great books that I genuinely enjoyed reading (Bel Canto, for example), but that I don't really need to keep in my library for the next twenty years.

And then. Then there are the heartbreakers -- the classics. A few years ago, I got on a kick to read many of the classic books that I never got around to reading in high school or college. These including Jane Eyre, Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Pride & Prejudice, Madame Bovary, etc. I ask you, have these books been touched since I brought them home? Have I read even one page of any of them? Have I taken them off the bookshelf even once and read so much as the back covers? Siiigh. You get the picture.

So as I was going through my bookshelves pruning out the titles that aren't going to make the cut in the long term, I struggled over Jane Eyre and other weighty titles for a long time. They got thrown into the "sell" pile, then got guiltily fished out, then got thrown back in again. Finally I've given up -- they are all staying in the sell pile. My AP English teacher may be clucking her tongue at me in disapproval somewhere in the Denver suburbs, but spring cleaning has never been for the faint hearted.

I've accepted my fate as a woman that will never be able to wow her collegues at a business dinner with a witty retort about Emma Bovary, nor will I apparently be able to decipher the inside joke when someone makes a joke about Mr. Darcy over cocktails.

And, okay, wisenheimers, I'll stop you right there because I know you're all sitting there in frotn of your computers thinking, "Um, who are these people making jokes about Mr. Darcy that she's all worried about? Does this actually happen in real life or is she confusing it with a scene in an Emma Thompson movie?"

But I swear to God, people, you just wait, you will be a dinner somewhere, sometime, someplace and something related to Jane Eyre WILL COME UP, and you will be proud and smug that you read that book in high school like the rest of us should have done in the first place.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Spring Cleaning

It's spring cleaning time in the World of Beth this week, so I need to keep this short.

After taking a microfiber cloth* to every surface in my apartment, I've also begun digging through my pantry and closets and bookshelves and resolved to Get Rid of Clutter. This is a difficult task because, as anyone who's ever been to my apartment can tell you, it's a waste land of books and candles and picture frames and girlie trinkets that sit on shelves gathering dust and cat hair. For example, I actually own a pink chocolate fondue pot.**

Sure its got its charm and a killer Space Needle view, but at only 500 square feet, my apartment is feeling a little overwhelmed by the "excess charm" packed so tightly onto every surface. So far I've wittled it down by three bags of trash, four bags of books I'm never going to read and about five pounds of dust, so progress is definintely being made.

*Can I take a moment and talk about microfiber clothes? I mean, people, have you USED THESE THINGS? SERIOUSLY? I've only recently discovered them thanks to Real Simple magazine's special issue on Spring Cleaning*** and they are sent directly from heaven. They pick up Puff hair, lint, dust - you name it - all without chemicals or cleaning agents. LOVE THEM.

** I'm not knocking the pink fondue pot, per se, it's cute as hell but I've owned it now for two years and have never, ever, not even once, made chocolate fondue in it. World at Large, would you like to come over for some chocolate fondue?

***Yes, I'm now officially old enough to actually choose to read a magazine devoted to Spring Cleaning. I'm as upset about it as you are, believe me.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Carnage in the Kitchen: Doorknobs Optional

This post is long overdue, and in fact I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with the World at Large because it’s really quite good.

So for my birthday, someone (hi there!) got me a DVD of the Best of Julia Child’s The French Chef. As many of you know, I freakin’ LOVE Julia Child. I mean, I LOVE her. SERIOUSLY. Well it took me a while to sit down and watch some of the episodes, but during my week off a while back, I made the time. I started with a swordfish episode that seemed innocent enough. Then I watched a roast goose. And then I selected the “Roast Suckling Pig” episode. Which was, my friends, one of the most horrific and traumatizing and terrifying and also hilarious things I have witnessed in my lifetime.

For one, it’s easy to forget the fact that a “suckling pig” is basically a baby piglet until you see it right there on screen with its baby pig ears and face and pink little tail and hooves and all of that. Ideally, Julia recommends that the pig should not yet be weaned from its mother’s milk; otherwise the flesh apparently takes on a whole different flavor. This gave me a bad case of the shivers, and not in a good way.

The hilarious part comes from the fact that 6 foot-2 Julia Child is patting a baby piglet’s behind and warbling in that trademark voice of hers about how to prepare a 12-pound suckling pig as though it were the most natural, normal thing in the world. She makes it sound not any different from mixing up a batch of Toll House cookies.

Next up, Julia advises, in her Julia Child voice, to start off by shaving any hairs off of the piglet’s face and snout. That’s right, you should SHAVE YOUR DINNER’S FACE. You should also take time to brush its teeth too. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

Then, after you get it oiled up and stuffed with veggies (a process that was so barbaric and hideous I can’t even talk about it)… Wait. I have to talk about that step. Because when Julia Child stitches up the baby piglet’s belly (as you might, with a chicken, for example), she doesn’t just use a trussing needle and string. Oh no, friends. She uses 3-INCH METAL FINISHING NAILS, like the kind a carpenter (or an S & M dominatrix?) might have handy, to keep the baby piglet’s belly shut.

And the carnage isn’t done yet. Oh NO. The final step before roasting is to place an object into the piglet’s mouth during cooking so that it can stay open for the decorative apple that it customarily placed in its jaws. So what does she recommend? Not a potato (they get mushy). You could use a wadded up ball of aluminum foil, as Julia does there. Or, she advises, you could also use (a) a block of wood or (b) a doorknob, if you have one handy.

Let me repeat that. OR A DOORKNOB, if you have one handy. After you shave your baby piglet’s face, brush its teeth, stuff its belly and close it with metal nails, you should put a DOORKNOB in its jaws. I swear to God I was not on drugs when I watched this episode. In fact, several people watched it with me and none of THEM were on drugs. Instead there was a group of us, some of whom were total strangers, unable to turn away and writhing on the floor in horror and fascination and hilarity at the totally in-freakin’-sane dish that Julia was preparing. Which is more of a reaction that I can say I got the last time I made Toll House cookies.

Lesson learned: Julia Child kicks some major ass. You just have to have the stomach to watch her do it.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Domestic Lessons Learned

Apparently those folks on the Food Network know what they’re talking about.

The Barefoot Contessa once explained, as she was making a cake (or something), that when it came time to crack the eggs into the batter, she actually cracked them first into a separate bowl rather than just throwing them directly into the mix. She explained that she did this as a precautionary measure so that if any of the eggs were bad, it wouldn’t ruin the whole mixture.

And this never occurred to me as being particularly brilliant or necessary until this weekend. When, as I was making pumpkin bread, I instantly ruined an entire batch of batter thanks to one nasty bad egg.


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Open Letter to the Music Store Employee That Bought Some Of My CD's This Morning And Mocked The Remainder


Seriously, dude. That attitude is NOT COOL.

I do not at all appreciate your snarky tone and "I'm-like-so-more-ironic-than-thou" hipster judgment when looking over my CDs. I realize that some of the CDs I brought in were (gasp!) slightly uncool, but doesn't your hipster mind grasp that's why I was trying to unload them in the first place? Could you not have been slightly more accomodating to a customer looking to freshen up her music selection, rather than snickering over the CDs you clearly don't approve of or enjoy?

Whatever, man. I'm outta here.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Chillin' on a Friday Night

Yo, World at Large, waddup? It's a mellow Friday night, the Thievery Corporation is humming along in the other room and I'm surfing around catching up on a few of my neglected favorite blogs. All seems well in the world. A few quick items:

1.) I just re-read my post about the man-slash-fawn crush and it kind of creeps me out. Strike that, it REALLY SERIOUSLY MAJORLY creeps me out. I realize my dating record is a bit dusty, but it seems a bad sign when I'm turning to animal hybrid children's literary characters. Worst of all, I wasn't even remotely drunk when I typed the words "Mr. Yumnus" in public.

2.) I'm feeling smug because I recently picked up several non-fiction books and this always makes me feel like I'm smart. Whether I'll read them or not is another story, but for now I can at least pretend to know something about Freakonomics, Blink and The World Is Flat. Just don't ask me any detailed questions about anything besides the front covers.

3.) Props and snaps and high fives to my two amigas that are coming to visit me in Seattle this summer! I'm quite looking forward to showing y'all the Emerald City.

4.) Does it make me a complete and total dork that I'm a little sad I didn't get to go to CTIA this year? Yeah, I thought so.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Beth's Crush on a Man-Fawn

If you’re like me, then the entire time you were watching “Chronicles of Narnia” all you could think about how that Mr. Tumnus was one DAMNED ADORABLE man-slash-fawn wearing his twee little woolen scarf and prancing around his quaint meterosexual tree condo. How cute was he, I ask you? Mr. Tumnus? Hello, more like Mr. YUMNUS! Being all doe-eyed and preppy as though Bambi and Josh Charles of Sports Night/Dead Poet’s Society had spawned themslves one sweet, although slightly namby-pamby and morally questionable tea-drinking mythical man-slash-fawn.

Okay. Phew. I realize this is conversation heading into a strange and possibly bad place. My point, all animal/human hybridization proposals aside, is that James McAvoy, the Cutey McCuterson in Narnia is, well, um, awfully cute.

He’s also a fire eater. Yes. A fire eater. And he loves rugby. And Damian Rice. And the Goonies. Beth has officially found herself a new crush.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Adorable and yet seemingly unpopular names for kindergartners, kittens or elderly giant Galapagos Sea Turtles

Barney (unintentional pattern here, but they all work*)

*interesting to note that George, Jane, Judy and Elroy are absolutely awful for kindergartner/kitten/giant sea turtle names

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Interesting tidbit for the day

Thanks to Google, I’ve just learned there actually IS a drug called Cycolmen, sold in Canada to treat endometriosis. But this is not what I bought at Fred Meyer and have sitting on a side table in my apartment.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Vacation, all I ever wanted....

Evidently my enthusiasm for blogging and regular posting got tiresome, so I’m back to the monthly updates. Ah well. So what’s been up in the World of Beth? Here’s the lowdown:

I was off work for a week, with no plans whatsoever. Lesson learned from that? BETH NEEDS TO MAKE PLANS. Otherwise, she finds herself taking 2 naps a day, reading for hours at a time, eating cold cereal, shuffling into the shower around 6 p.m. and then staying up until the wee hours watching “What Not To Wear” and feeling superior because at least she doesn’t wear acid wash jeans or kitty sweatshirts. Repeat this activity for seven days and you get the idea.

I have been reading like a madwoman! Well, that’s not quite accurate. More just like a person that actually reads. In the past three weeks I’ve tackled In Cold Blood, Bel Canto, The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-time, Fraud AND the latest copies of US Weekly, InStyle and Real Simple. Get me!

I’ve become a houseplant whore. I get like this every spring. Four new additions to my household – including a cyclamen, which sounds to me more like an antibiotic than a plant name.