Friday, July 27, 2007

America's Next Top Blog

More pimping of my blog roll: I began following Elyse Sewell because she came in third on the first season of America's Next Top Model, to which I am addicted. (New cycle starts in September, y'all!) She was vastly superior to the winner that season, Adrienne, who went on to reality show fame with her now husband, the guy who played Peter on The Brady Bunch.

Anyhoodle, Elyse is a working model, often in Hong Kong. And her writing is quirky and fun:

In Western restaurants, you order the broiled fish, your dining partner orders the steak, and you eat from your plate with a fork and knife while jealously looking across the table going, "Damn, I should have ordered the steak." In China, you order family-style, then everyone gets a little bowl of rice and you use chopsticks to pick morsels of food out of the common plates, transfer them onto your bowl of rice, and thence onward to your mouth (as grains of rice stick to every morsel, thereby carbohydratifying each bite). The Chinese method is vastly superior unless you're an idiot like me trying to dine out alone, in which case you end up at a huge table with a trough-sized bowl of Ma Po Tofu sitting in front of you, a searing-hot ceramic bowl of rice which you try to pick up and drop with a clatter back down on to the table, then the waitress tries to rush to your aid and doesn't realize that you're trying to upend the bowl of rice on to your tiny plate, then you have to go up and walk to the refrigerator at the back of the restaurant to point at the drink you want and all they have is beer (no), chocolate milk (no), and cardboard cartons of strawberry cordial (well, OK, I guess), then you're transferring pieces of tofu and rice to this plate and that bowl and the tablecloth and your lap, and swilling cordial and turning pages of your book and sending text messages and taking photographs while all around you families are trying to enjoy a nice banquet and looking over at you like who the hell is this provincial idiot who doesn't know basic table manners?

Also, for all you Shins fans, she sometimes writes about her long-time boyfriend Marty Crandall, keyboardist for the band. (They were together before either of them were famous, awww.)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Shut Up, Work Bathroom"

If I could write like Sarah Bunting, author of Tomato Nation, I would be much cooler than I am and possibly get dates. I think of this essay every time I use the restroom at work.

The work bathroom is just such an insane, hilarious minefield of neuroses and etiquette mistakes that it's a wonder everyone in a given office doesn't wear adult diapers to work or try to hold it in until they get home. At least, the women's work bathroom is like that. I don't know if men have the same unspoken agreement about pretending that the bathroom is not actually a bathroom that women do, but keep in mind, I come from an "office" in which I don't even close the door when I go. Nor do I have any compunction about marching in there with a couple of magazines, because who cares? But at work, we all have to act like we don't eliminate waste — in a room designed to amplify the sounds of waste elimination times a hundred. So everyone's all, "Dum dee dum, just here to wash my hands, la la," and then the telltale "ker-plip" of a poo hitting the water echoes through the bathroom, or the "fffrrrrrppppt" of an air biscuit ricochets off the walls, and if it's you who committed one of these sins, you sit in your stall, mortified, and then you try to play it off like the toilet paper roll is rattling more than once because you have to blow your nose, yeah, that's it, and then you come out and race through washing your hands, blushing furiously, looking at no one, and fling yourself out of the ladies' without even bothering with the paper towels. (Or you just stay in the stall until the bathroom empties. This could take twenty minutes. Or so I've heard.) If it's someone else, you have to try not to laugh, which is hard, because you might not even think it's all that funny, but if you think about maybe thinking it's funny, then you'll just get the church giggles and spend another five minutes in your own stall, trying to compose yourself before going out to the sinks because what if the anonymous plopper or pooter is out there and you start guffawing and she's embarrassed and you look like an immature jackass? Which you totally are? But hee, farts?
It's called resonance people! To read the whole thing, including the dissection of Poo Stall anxieties, go here.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

I Nonni? Ay Caramba!

Marie and I had a delicious dinner at Osteria I Nonni in Lilydale last night. The building is weirdly McMansion-esque and located adjacent to a very generic looking condo development. We got a table on the patio overlooking the obligatory man-made pond with fountain in the middle. (Seriously, who lives in these places?) But the food! and the WINE! We had beef carpaccio and a tuna/egg/greens combo for starters with prosecco--a sparkling white wine from Italy. Oh, man, you know that little high you get when you've had a drink before they seat you, and then the food arrives and it's even better than you expected? Every bite is kind of a mini-rush? Oh, man.

We had the osso bucco for an entree, which was lovely, but the star of the night was our pasta course. Orecchiette pasta and roasted cauliflower cooked in the oil that anchovies are packed in. I can't really talk about it yet . . . So. Good.

Our server was a delight and recommended all the right wines. The weather was perfect. No bugs. I'm not sure where we were, exactly. Dude! I nonni must have a wormhole to Xanadu!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Just a Little Taste

Behold the deliciousness!

The Coca Cola Corporation is messing with me, y'all. They put out the Black Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke, and even though it sounds like it would be awful, it is completely delicious. The convenience store in our building sold it, and I got HOOKED. Now, it is nowhere to be found, and I am bereft. They've got the Diet Cherry Coke and the Diet Vanilla Coke, and I'm fixin' to buy one of each and mix them together to stave off the cravings. WTF Coca Cola?

P.S. Diet Berry Vanilla Dr. Pepper is not working as a substitute.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Maria's #9: Finally a show tune I can relate to

Row Your Boat

Spent the day on the St. Croix with a large group in canoes and kayaks, paddling and lounging on sandbars. Lovely day for it. I think I might need a kayak now. I guess I should get into one at least once first, but still.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Should These People Procreate?

Too late! In addition to lovely Ayla and glamorous Lily, they are anticipating a new little bundle next January. Congratulations, you crazy kids! Couldn't be happier for ya.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Such an appropriate picture for the guy who was directing our every move yesterday and well into today. He looks like such a puppetmaster.

The show was fantastic. We cabbed it downtown and were in line to get into the club before midnight. Doors were supposed to open at 11 p.m., but the Target Center show went late and for some reason we were left standing on the sidewalk, AGAIN, instead of inside spending money on booze. WTF First Ave.?

We got in close to 1:00 a.m. and he went on at about 2:30 and played until almost 4:00. So good, you guys. Everyone was predicting this early '80s/Purple Rain retrospective but we got none of that. Instead some gorgeous ballads, some new stuff, and covers of Chaka Khan and Sly and the Family Stone.

I have never gotten to know so many people so well without conversation. It felt like being in a sweaty, fleshy tortilla press most of the night, but folks were pretty genial and filled with the Prince love, so it was all right. He hasn't played First Ave. since 1987, and everyone was just so damn excited to be there. As he left the stage, he yelled, "Is this my hometown?" and we screamed the house down.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I'm IN

I got the wristband. I'm totally going to the show! Thanks for the encouragement y'all.

I've never worked harder for a show -- I got in line at 1:30 and paid for my ticket at 5:30. And friggin' hot, DAMN! Now to rehydrate, take a nap, and party like it's 1999.


Friday, July 6, 2007


You guys, Prince is playing at First Ave. tomorrow night after his show at the Target Center. Tickets go on sale at 3 p.m. tomorrow (for $31.21, natch). But it's supposed to be 95 degrees with humidity tomorrow, and you know people will start lining up insanely early. Should I go for it or will I end up with sunstroke?

Also, it would be no fun alone. Who's coming with me?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Letters to Songwriters

Dear Young M.C.,

Love you, love your tunes. What are you up to these days? If you get around to it, I think the world could use another Principal's Office. That tune is super funky.

Bust a Move is also an obvious classic, but I'm concerned about some its more unlikely scenarios. Perhaps you haven't spent much time as a single person (Why should you? You're Young M.C.!), but dating most often begins with getting someone's attention. They don't just "sit down next to you and start talkin'," at least not in this jerkwater burg.

Well, maybe sometimes they do, but it usually turns out that they are either unbalanced or only interested in monologue. In your song, though, gorgeous people are always accosting your protagonist. Like that woman at the movies: "She's dressed in yellow, she says 'Hello, come sit next to me you fine fellow'." Seriously? In a darkened movie theater? That seems a little weird.

And what about the girl on the beach who "runs up with somethin' to prove?" I mean, if eligible singles are just falling into this guy's lap, what does "bust a move" even mean? He doesn't have to do anything!! At least the bridesmaid thought he was winking. Aside from that accidental opening, your guy isn't bustin' any moves at all. Unless, I've completely misread the meaning of that phrase.

These concerns do not prevent me from digging your scene on my headphones as I bike to work. I just wanted to help you "keep it real."