Haters Gonna Hate: East Bay Edition

When considering a move to the Bay, it quickly becomes obvious that people are very territorial and judgy with their city choices in the area. As we were doing research on where we wanted to live, Google searches kept on bringing us back to one particular website, where the two most common questions appear to be: “is x safe?” and “what’s it like living in y?” After perusing the forums on that web site for the past six months, I have compiled a summary of the every “pro” and “con” argument you will ever see for a number of cities in the East Bay:*

Walnut Creek:
PRO: “Great Schools! Safe! Near Mount Diabolo!”
CON: “All white and snobby! It is the epitome of Blaffluence. What is Blaffluence, you ask? It’s when you have a bunch of rich people who only want to eat and shop at homogenous, overpriced chains where the staff only wears black – it’s like they built a society around The Keg. Also? It’s super hot. For two days in the summer, it get over 85 degrees…so yeah, it’s basically a smoldering hell that shits cash and Neiman Marcus cookies.”

PRO: “It’s like San Francisco, but CHEAPER!”
CON: “It’s basically post-apocalyptic San Francisco. So, if you’re into that…”

PRO: “It’s charming and old. The ferry is the way to commute to San Fran! The weather is perfect!”
CON: “They underreport their crimes. It’s near Oakland. It’s run-down and ghetto.” [seriously, people say this. By the way, the lead image for this post is a picture of one of the many gorgeous houses in Alameda. People? Get out more.]
PRO retort: “Come on, it’s not Antioch.”

San Leandro:
PRO: “People are super-friendly. The Bay-O-Vista and Estudillo Estates neighborhoods are particularly nice!”
CON: “It was nice before 1997, then it went all to shit. They’ve got crime and gangs. People shoot and stab each other at the BART station. Go to Castro Valley instead. San Leandro’s ghetto.” [again, picture of a San Leandro neighborhood:

PRO retort: “Sure the city has its problems; what city doesn’t? It’s not like it’s Oakland or Antioch or anything…”

Castro Valley:
PRO: “Great schools! Not ghetto!”
CONS: “Far from San Francisco! Parts of it are ghetto! But it’s way better than San Leandro or Hayward or…Antioch **shudder**” [Real talk, people who use this word excessively: do you even know what a ghetto is? And no, ghetto is not defined as “places that don’t have a Whole Foods.” And newsflash: they are also not “places that happen to have minority residents.” Yeesh.)

PRO: “Affordable living! You’ll always have a seat on BART!”
CON: “While it’s not Antioch, it’s a smoldering shithole that is the Roger Clinton to Walnut Creek’s Bill.”

So all in all, the negative perception of the East Bay on message boards is either you’re in Walnut Creek or in a “ghetto”, but just be thankful you don’t live in Antioch, I guess.

[To be fair to the message boards and if you came across this post in hopes of obtaining useful information: if you automatically discount every post that mentions the words “ghetto” or “racists” when describing a city, you are left with some reasonably good information. Pair it up against crimereports.com and walkscore.com, and you’ll be good to go].

*Please note that this post is mocking perceptions that I find to be ridiculous, if that’s not incredibly obvious already.

Menacing Kitten Headquarters Melts Down, Cries Glowing Chernobyl Tears

No one is this happy.

As you know, I am moving. What you may not know is my shit is moving out six weeks before I do, nothing is working the way it’s supposed to, nothing is happening on time, everything sucks and hatehatehatemeltdowncry.

Allow me to back this up a little.

So, we put a bid on a beautiful home. Here’s a picture of it:

The walls, ceiling and crown molding are all plaster and I love it. Here is a picture of the crown molding:

We were supposed to close on said house last Friday. Our mortgage is going through a large banking outfit we will simply call Bells Cargo. We’ve used Bells in the past and had zero problems with them; since our last dealing with them, they instituted a corporate policy of spiking the water cooler with Ambien.  Our initial documents were way, way off: misspellings, incorrect zip codes, years of employment that only make sense if you have been a companion on the TARDIS, and financial numbers that didn’t add up. After a few iterations of documents, a checklist of things to correct and finally a “fuck it, I’ll just scratch it out” resignation, we signed off on a bunch of things. We did inspections and appraisals with three weeks to spare. Periodically, we’d get an email stating something like, “Bells Cargo needs this really important thing in half an hour that we knew about since God touched Adam’s finger, but we thought it would be really fun to wait until now to tell you this.” We panicked, cursed and delivered emergency documents. Things continued to move forward.

We set up movers to come out on Thursday for packing, Friday for loading. The move takes a few days, so we figured that would be a decent amount of time between the Friday closing and getting our stuff at the new house. I’m still not entirely clear why we chose to move the stuff out so early, leaving me with an air mattress and my keyboard to keep me company until the end of March, but I’m fine with it. I don’t need much, and my husband has suffered through rental furniture in his apartment for the past few months. At any rate, the movers seem to be good people who are on top of their shit. Chris booked his flight for the week with the intention to help with the move and get a few estimates to fix up our Arizona house. The movers called me a week out to confirm everything was set up, and called 24 hours before to confirm again. All was good.

Not long after the 24 hour confirmation from the movers, we get another notice from Bells: “That appraisal you reported to us three weeks ago? Yeah, we have this cool algorithm built into our mortgage program that says something like this:
IF AppraisalValue = BidValue, THEN wait >=3 weeks AND RETURN ‘HAHA Fuckers, Closing is delayed.’
And yes, consistent with our reps, our syntax is jacked up.”

So we call the movers and do a change order to delay moving by a week, because storing everything is crazy expensive. We panic, because there is a lot at stake when you get that type of message less than 72 hours before closing. We wait.

The next day, Bells lets us know, 80s style, “PSYYYYEEEK! Appraisal is good.” So…now what? “We want to look at three other random things that didn’t matter previously and can’t give you a timeline yet.”


On Thursday, someone who was supposed to come out and give us an estimate on fixing up the house told us he was double-booked and couldn’t make it out. I’m just adding this because it officially meant Chris came out here for almost no reason.

On Friday, we finally get the final sign-offs from Bells. Friday evening? The Escrow person tells us, regretfully, Bells didn’t send them the loan documents. Color us shocked.

On Saturday, we have an early birthday party for me with our friends. Everyone was amazing as always and I’m reminded how much I love my friends and am going to miss them. Late into Saturday evening partying, I had a drink that included cinnamon whiskey, Crispin hard apple cider, and some kind of schnapps in it. I think. It was very tasty. Someone placed a second one of these drinks in front of me. When a third came out, I vaguely recall telling someone I absolutely could not drink another one and recall a friend double fisting (or rather, double-strawing) the beverage along with his own. My awesome friend Steven was DD for the night and drove Chris and I home. I fell asleep within 30 seconds.

Early Sunday morning. 4:30 a.m. My stomach is killing me. I have cotton mouth, and decide to get a glass of water and powder my nose. This action was clearly too much for my body to handle, and I break out into a cold sweat. After urination is complete, I lie on the floor, lifting the bathmat so I can put my face against the tile. Ahhhh, cool tile. I feel like it is a small miracle I didn’t throw up, but kind of wish I did to get the cinnamon whiskey alien out of my stomach. I crawl back into bed. For two hours I have nightmares where I see drinks being placed down in front of me, and I’m crying out, “No, no! No more!” while still tasting cinnamon whiskey residue in my esophagus. Shot glass with something and lime. No! Tall glass with a straw. Nooo! Limes! Straws! Glasses! Booze! Noooooooooo!

I think I need to curb my drinking a skooch.

Later in the morning on Sunday, I’m feeling a little better despite a lingering taste of cinnamon whiskey I can’t lose. A carpet guy comes over to give us an estimate on replacing the carpet. We schedule them for next Saturday. So, Thursday – packing, Friday – loading, Saturday – Carpets. Okay. I feel like I should put my dog somewhere during all this and still don’t know what to do about that. She’s sensitive. Sunday afternoon, Chris removes a zillion wires and cables that are hooked up to the TV and drops them on the floor. He leaves for California. I organize the cables so they aren’t all over the place.

Monday. I was supposed to get my windshield on my car replaced. They have the wrong windshield and don’t call me back to reschedule. I go home and realize Chris didn’t prep any of his stuff for the movers – we’re not taking all of it, so I need to make sure the right stuff is put aside. I get on a ladder to lift another ladder off the garage wall. It’s heavy, awkward and I’m cursing up a storm. I organize his tool box. There is all sorts of shit around his tool box – screws, wood glue, multi-tools in multi-tools like some Voltron-style nightmare, and I get frustrated. I at least get his tool box to the point where it can close. Chris’ desk isn’t going to California. I have to get it out of his office so the carpet guy can replace the carpet in there, so I first have to remove all of the shit he left behind in the desk. There’s a lot of junk and it annoys me. I have to move one of his towers to get behind his desk and the tower is far heavier than you’d expect it to be. I also have to remove the top part of the desk, because it won’t fit through the door with the top on. I unscrew everything, but the top part alone is 150 pounds of particle board and awkward lifting and I realize I’ll break it and myself if I try to move it. There is a ton to do, and I crumple into a ball and weep.  My dog looks at me like, “bitch, please,” and goes to sleep in the living room. She’s so done with this.

I don’t know when our house is going to close or even when I’m going to get the paperwork to sign (which will need to be FedEx-ed to California when I’m done for Chris to sign). I don’t know if the sellers are even okay with the delay and I hope to god they are. I don’t know when my windshield will be replaced. I don’t know what to do with my dog or my husband’s desk. No matter how much you try and prepare, crazy things happen to throw you for a loop.

I hate moving. Cinnamon whiskey can suck it, too.

Top Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Downton Abbey: The Season 3 Drinking Game

Here in the States, PBS aired the first episode of Downton Abbey, season three. I’m not sure of what to make of this season just yet – there was a lot of exposition in the first episode and not a whole lot of meat. Like, 10 seconds of wedding coverage? Hello? Not a big deal…I guess? We’ve only been on the Matthew/Mary Carousel of Guilt and Denial for two seasons now…the wedding wasn’t important or anything, right? The episode gave us a few hints of what plots are to come – the financial downturn of the estate, Mrs. Hughes’ certain potential cancer, Bates and his turn-of-the-century Charlie Brownism, Poor Edith and her own turn-of-the-century MarshaMarshaMarshaism, Branson and that whole ridiculous poison in the drink drama with the Downton equivalent of a Star Trek red shirt…

One thing is for certain in these times of uncertainty: we need a drinking game for season three. Grab a scotch or one of those newfangled cocktails the Dowager Countess disapproves of, turn on your TV and play along:

Take a sip…
…if you yell at Laura Linney, “stop your yapping and get on with the episode already!”
…every time someone says some variation of “adapting to change.”
…When the Dowager Countess insults a “foreigner”
…every time you think, “I fucking love Maggie Smith.”
…when O’Brien or Thomas are on a smoke break (I mean, they’re smoking, you should be drinking, right?)
…when someone says Poor Edith’s turn will come at marriage, and she responds desperately, “WILL IT?”
…when Poor Mister Mosely is passed over for someone better.
…every time Anna goes Pollyanna on Meestah Behhhhhts
…every time Bates is a freaking martyr and you’re like, “I liked you in Season One; now I’m like, what else is going to fucking happen to Bates? A piano falls on you after you push Lord Grantham out of the way? You want to save Bob Marley, so you declare that you, in fact, shot the deputy even though you totally didn’t? You eat a bad taco the night before you’re reunited with Anna?” Shakes fist,  “WHAT’S NEXT MEESTAH BEHHHHHTS? WHAT’S NEXT?”

Take a gulp…
…when you shamefully find yourself cheering for Harriet Jones Mrs. Crawley.
…when Poor Edith doesn’t appear sad and alone
…when someone doesn’t use the appropriate title or salutations
…when you don’t find Shirley MacLaine’s presence distracting (I love her, and I love her interactions with Maggie Smith, BUT – too much)
…When Lord Grantham does something bad/immoral
…when a lady is in the men’s quarters, or a man is in the ladies’ quarters (scandal!)
…when Lady Sybill becomes awesome again/indicates an interest in women’s rights.
…when Branson is dressed “appropriately”

…when Thomas is being helpful
…when the Dowager Countess compliments America

Do you have any additions? Add them in the comments section below!

50 Shades of Dismay – Adventures in Spray Tanning

by Kirsten Benzel

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution. I’m 28. I reasoned that the new year is nothing more then an arbitrary number and I’ll take care of business when it’s time and not when I have a champagne hangover and glitter stuck in my hair. Or maybe I just know deep down inside that I’m incapable of sticking to something unless I’m one hundred percent damn well good and ready, armed with a prepackaged, intellectual response to parrot during the week leading up to January first.

See, we paid our dues. We hired a trainer, did cardio, ate the right things, at the right time, in the right quantities. And it worked – mostly. I lost 30 pounds of fat and he gained 35 in muscle: keep the fat girl skinny guy jokes to yourself or I’ll poop in your Cheerios. All of that effort was still stacked against a 40 hour workweek in an office chair. Flat, rippled abs? Never happened. I’d watch the infomercials for whatever the trending workout was at the time while mentally screaming “Yeah! Yeah, bitch!! Let’s see you get through 400 emails in one day!”

We did the healthy lifestyle for four years and then fell off the bandwagon. Nine months after that we became Arizona transplants living in San Francisco … and my legs are translucent. My skin tone became a concern a week or so after I failed to roll my skinny jeans up my thighs. You do that “thing” where you start to look for a quick fix to tide you over until the diet starts working. That nine month lapse put me back further then I cared to face directly so a spray tan snuck on the To-Do list.

My boyfriend, on the other hand, emerged from our health sabbatical with the luminous complexion of Michelangelo’s David, looking like King Leonidas with just the faintest ghost of a pooch that could be chalked up to his girlfriend’s bad cooking from the evening prior.

How did I look? Gollum with a potbelly. Imagine Gollum in a snuggly bathrobe sporting giant bear claw slippers while shakily holding a coffee cup and you get the picture.

I was tired of being the same shade of white as the bed sheets and everyone said spray tans worked. A close friend at work. A coworker’s wife. An old therapist. I ignored the little voice in the back of my head that was squealing something about tanning beds still existing and being the primary source of income for tanning shops and if it was so easy then you’d know more then three people who had done it.

At the Salon-Spa a vivacious and suspiciously unbronzed blonde invited me into spray tan booth six.

“I really don’t want to come out of here looking like Boehner”, I said. She advised that I “totally wouldn’t” and she had gotten a spray tan and her friends were armed and ready to give her a hard time and then it looked so good they couldn’t give her any shit. Later on after the damage was done the little voice in my head snotily mentioned, of course her friends wouldn’t give her shit if they wanted to keep using the tanning beds at a discount.

The spray is made of three ingredients. It’s natural and vegan or some shit. The dye is made from green tint so you won’t turn orange.

Lies, the voice said later.

It’s all machine operated to take the human error out of it.

Some idiot sued for an uneven tan and now you’re in your birthday suit encased in a machine designed by lawyers!

It will take about two hours before you start to see the tan, she said. It’s like when you leave an apple out and it turns brown.

You’re spraying a chemical on your skin so air exposure kills it. This will be pretty.

You can get a bronzer for another $5 that makes you immediately tan.

Lock and load, I thought to Spray Tan Booth Six.

The event itself was uneventful and quick. I tried not to think of athletes foot and ringworm and other unknowns underfoot as I spun into Posture Two – a sideways Egyptian pose – in all my chubby glory. Perhaps I noticed some odd splotching on my calves while dressing. It’ll even itself out.

The fallout began later that night during sexy time.

“You smell like … barbeque.” my boyfriend said.

The following morning I rounded the kitchen corner and my boyfriends beautiful luminous eyes take me in, blink, and a snicker escapes.

“There’s just so many things I could say! And they all come so easily!”

“Fine. Since you think this is a riot I’ll just make this extra hysterical for you. Look:”

I showed him the half-inch line around my left ankle where I didn’t remove a pair of anklets before zero hour.

“So those got sprayed?”

“Yep. And so did my hair, because I forgot the hair net.”

He’s now cracking up as I’m examining the contrasted speckles on my right hand while trying to make a funny mental comparison and failing.

I showered. And used a pumice stone everywhere that wasn’t a mucous membrane.

“I can’t even imagine what color the water was in there” he said.

“Shut up. You’re stupid.”

I’m so glad I work at home and it’s January – shucks – and long sleeves are a necessity. This was supposed to be a quick little fix to add some sexy. Too bad it left the object of my affections doubled over, laughing his well-formed posterior off.


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The Legend of Creepy Santa

Last year, property management for our building decided to decorate the lobby for Christmas.  Typical of their design style, it was a mix of incompatible styles and concepts that ultimately looked like Tim Burton overdosed on a deadly cocktail of kitsch, IKEA and Beetlejuice.  A demented-looking, 9-foot plastic Santa was the “highlight” of the lobby. As the days went on, it became clear that the Santa creeped the shit out of everyone in the building, and people began to taunt it.  It ended in a spectacular fashion, which I have chronicled in this touching Christmastime poem. 

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the lobby
Not an employee was working, or exploring a hobby
They moved through the floor with stealth never seen
In fear of St Nicholas, stabbing their spleen

The decorations were hung: mismatched kind of cheaply
And a 9 foot Santa, both mesmerizing and creepy
“He’s Plastic!” “He’s Ugly!” They would say and they’d think
But I would say nothing, for I saw him blink

In the dark of one morning, I heard quite a scrape
I looked over in terror – he tried to escape!
Approaching the door, one dragged foot at a time
Glass walls kept him in, like a trapped pantomime

His movement was noticed by those who walked by
They’d feel his glare, giving him the side-eye
They’d clutch their purses or a bottle of mace
But mace can do nothing to a warped plastic face

Employees caught on, voices spoke in high pitch
“Stop staring at me, creepy son of a bitch!”
He continued on with his cold plastic stare
And got his revenge in their sleep and nightmares

They would move him away, but he would move back
They’d put a bag on his head, like some ugly sad sack
He’d triumph each morn with a gleam in his eye
Showing each employee that he’d never die

In fear and in madness the depths they had sunk
‘Til they lopped off his head, tossing him in the trunk
Though the head remained, the car drove out of sight
‘twas no Merry Christmas for Creepy Santa that night

Keep vs. Toss, Round One

I like my drinks shaken, not stirred...with a splash of grenadine and a cherry thx ;P

I am moving in a few months, and it is with 97% certainty we will have to move to a smaller house.  For this reason, I have to get rid of a TON of shit.  I’ve decided I need to sort my stuff out in 5 piles:

1) Toss
2) Keep
3) Keep for a yard sale
4) Keep for a bigger sale
5) Donate

I thought this would be easy, but within minutes of tackling a small stack of papers, I was reminded of my problem with getting rid of stuff.  Here was my thought process from night one:


- There is a stack of papers and magazines here and I’m going to throw them away.

- Here are some recipe cards from 1974. They’re for like, fondue and weird-looking lasagna. How did I get these? Toss.  There! Thrown away! On to the next.

...You mean another Colonel looked like that?

- OMG I completely forgot I had these old-timey booze recipes.  Let me stop and read them.  They are so amazing and cool! Look at the weird pictures and the outdated recipes! Keep.  Keep.  Keep.

- “The Sportsman’s Way: How to Prepare Wild Game and Waterfowl”.  Do they have squirrel? They do!! And not only that, they have raccoon and bear! How can I get rid of that? Let me show it to Chris…he doesn’t understand this.  What if we’re in a situation where we have to live off the land and eat wild stuff? Yeah, no, I’m not going to skin an animal, ew.  But still… Keep.

- “Sunset’s Favorite Company Dinners”: This is great Stepford Wife stuff – making perfect meals for your Bridge club and whatnot. This is for ladies who wore dresses and pearls just to go to the grocery store; this is historic.  Keep.

- Whole Foods’ “Bulk Basics: A simple guide to cooking and buying bulk foods.”  Oh, this is easy – toss.  But.  It tells you how to cook weird beans and rice and stuff. I really want to keep this if I need it…but INTERNET!…but what if I can’t find it on the internet? But…ughhhhh….Toss.

- Aerogarden guide.  F-ing waste of money. Toss….oh wait, we can sell the Aerogarden at a tag sale.  Maybe I should keep this to give to the new owners of the Shitty Aerogarden Where Only Basil Grows and Oregano is a Wasteland of Brown Death and Fail.  Keep.  With the Hot Chocolate Maker Instruction Manual.

If this weren't you know, BEAR, it would be kind of nom.

- Omaha Steaks cooking guide for all things meaty.  Servicey. Keep.

- Ola’s Norwegian Cookbook. Eh, someone might want this for a tag sale.  Keep.

- A magazine of cookie recipes. I don’t want to throw this away but…ahhhhh…Toss.

- A Cooking Light from 1997? But it’s a Holiday one…but it’s 1997. The way they use trendy ingredients, this shit probably calls for Fen-Fen and Fiona Apple. Toss.

- Bon Appetit Thanksgiving edition. 2003? Ehhh…KEEP.

- A recommendation letter for UNT’s College of Music.  Keep. Really? Yes.  And my signature was so nice back then…

- Music paper?  But…I…might…use…Toss.  Sniff.

- Food & Wine Holidays. 2005. Keep.

- Bon Appetit Holidays 2004. Keep.

- Cooking Light Holidays 2011.  Oh, that looks yummy.  Keep.  I love holiday recipes.

- This is a picture of what I am keeping, and what I am throwing away:

We are in trouble.

How Patriotic Is Your Candidate? A Score Card

This time of year brings an abundance of political mailers to our doorstep.  Thanks to a major election year and Arizona’s redistricting, we could wallpaper our family room with the brochures and pamphlets we receive.

With all of these options, how does one decide who to vote for? I mean, it’s not like you want to read the newspaper or look up their existing voting records, right? Who has time for any of that hullaballoo?  No, you want to judge your candidate off of those glossy little mailers.  Don’t you know you can tell with absolute certainty how patriotic someone is just from their mailer?  In fact, by assigning point values to items on the mailer, you can easily compare the patriotism of two candidates:

For each son or daughter shown = +3
Real patriots have kids – lots of ‘em!

For each grandchild shown = +5
Even better when the kids grow up and have more kids to make for big, smiley reunion photos! Plus, older = wiser.  If you are old enough to raise this big, wonderful family, you are basically a big Oz Head filled with knowledge and solutions to all of our problems.

For each great-grandchild shown= -2
Just don’t be too old, Wizard.

For each child shown who is not the candidate’s child = -5
Passing off other people’s kids as your own is easily fact-checkable, and is quite frankly a little creepy and weird.

If the only family picture shown is of the candidate holding one grandchild = -15
Even creepier (and weirder). Maybe it’s just weird to see such an angry person smile?

Candidate has a famous political dad = +3

Candidate’s dad is Dan Quayle = -5

But candidate and his dad Dan Quayle live in Arizona = +10

But candidate was just redistricted against someone who actually has experience in politics = -10

Candidate has a golden retriever = +10
Golden Retrievers are All-American Dogs – they drool apple pie and shed stars and stripes.  They bark in a cadence remarkably similar to Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech.  And besides – their GOLDEN! Do you know how valuable gold is right now? Owning a golden dog is an investment for your future and is the equivalent of having Glenn Beck’s endorsement.  This is a fact.

Candidate has a breed of dog that weighs less than 20 pounds = -15
Little dogs aren’t American.  You know who has little dogs? Hollywood elitists.

Candidate is wearing a button-down denim shirt = +1
Because you can’t get any more blue collar than a literal blue collar!

…With the sleeves rolled up = +5
See? The candidate is ready to work! Add a hard-hat to that look and you’ve got yourself a winner.

Candidate is endorsed by the fire department or police department = +20
Because firemen and policemen are American times infinity!

Candidate is endorsed by fire or police unions = -20
Because unions are Un-American times infinity! Ignore the cognitive dissonance rattling around in your skull; moving on…

Candidate has “a million-dollar smile” = +25
We’ve all heard Joe Biden speak off-the-cuff, right? So…how?!?

Oh, yeah.  A winning smile is “a big f-ing deal.”

Candidate has “Manson Lamps” for eyes = -15
Fortunately, there is a segment of the population that finds Crazy Eyes endearing, so this could be a good thing, depending on where the candidate lives.  Dead eyes are also bad, unless they can be Photoshopped to become bedroom eyes.  It’s a fine line, really.  Then you’ve got yourself an up-and-comer with People magazine “Eligible Bachelor” potential!

The candidate is married = +10
The candidate is a single man = -5
In politics, people are far more forgiving of an adulterer than a bachelor.  So if you are single and want a career in politics? Shack up with the nearest trophy, and fall into a loveless but equitable marriage.

Candidate is a single woman = -10
When people see single women in politics, do you know what they think? The woman is either an “uppity bitch” or a lesbian.  Whereas if you’re a married woman, you’re seen as…a shrieking harpy.  Really, you’re kind of working against the current no matter how you slice it.  Them’s the breaks, ladies. Sorry and good luck, there.

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Foods I Want to Send Away to the Cornfield

(Except for corn because…mmm…corn…)

Honeydew Melon
Sometimes, I don’t want a side of chips.  Most of the time, I could also pass on the creamy potato or pasta salads.  Almost always I could really go for a fruit side; but whenever I see a fruit as an option? I pass.  Do you care to guess why?  Because in deli lingo, “Fruit Side” is shorthand for “THERE IS A ZOMBIE MELON APOCALYPSE GOING ON IN MY FRUIT BOWL, AND ALL THE FRUITS AND BERRIES I LOVE ARE RUINED FOREVER.”  One honeydew.  That’s all it takes.  It spreads that god-awful, wretch-worthy flavor to everything, contaminating even the most robust of fruit flavors. Oh, they still look like strawberries and pineapple slices – that’s how it gets you.  You think, maybe this time.  The strawberry was on the top of the bowl and the honeydew was on the bottom.  There was a layer of cantaloupe and watermelon between.  Surely…Then you take a bite, and all you can taste is that stinky, tangy, I-stomped-on-an-unripe-cantaloupe-with-a-sweaty-foot flavor that robbed your poor strawberry of its essence.  It’s the most undignified way for a piece of fruit to meet its end.

There is no fruit in the world I hate more than you, honeydew.  If you were a person, I’d tie your shoelaces together and kick you down the stairs.  Except you’d make the entire building stink.  Screw you, honeydew.

I was first introduced to quinoa when someone told me that it was super-healthy, being loaded with fiber and protein and was basically a vegan’s dream.  Being one to look for healthy alternatives to meat for protein, I decided to give this trendy little dish a try.  Looking like it was farmed on Mars during the Total Recall era, I was a little fearful upon taking the first bite.  Keeping an open mind, I pushed negative thoughts out of my mind as I ate.  I tried.  I tried really hard to like this new thing, but all I could think was, “I am eating a bowl of those silicon packets they stick in electronics.”  You know, the ones they tell you aren’t food?  Which by the way, may be a sign we are really freaking stupid as a society – who the hell opens the box to their receiver, sees a silicon packet and thinks – “Hey, free food – BONUS! I was just thinking I wanted to nom on some silicon pellets…”

For those of you who do want to nom on silicon, know you can safely satisfy that craving with Quinoa. No matter what you try to do to it, it blands up the place.  It’s they anti-honeydew in that respect.  Where honeydew forces its flavor on everything it comes in contact with, quinoa takes the flavor away.  I tried a southwest salad with quinoa, black beans, corn, and some other stuff, and despite my love for all of the other ingredients, the quinoa robbed the dish of its flavor.

Also? For the record, it’s barely better than brown rice in terms of fiber and protein, which tastes far better as an accompaniment.  Also? There are really yummy alternatives for protein in the vegan world – like gazpacho beans.  Don’t torture yourself with this horrible stuff if you don’t have to.

Sunflower Seeds
I am nothing if not a lazy eater of food.  I have been known to turn down an orange because “it’s too much work for too little reward.”  As you can imagine, I generally don’t like foods where you spend inordinate amounts of time removing a pit or a shell.  On top of this, I also am grossed out by any food that involves spitting. Finally, I hate foods that make a mess that no one seems to care about.  I can trace this particular issue to a traumatic episode from my childhood where I slipped on peanut shells at the Ground Round during a birthday party, falling on my ass and exposing my Strawberry Shortcake underwear for all to see.

Sunflower seeds contain all the things I generally hate about food – you crack open that tiny little shell, only to find a tinier little seed of food with little flavor.  Many people stick the entire thing in their mouth to crack the shell, and spit it out. Over and over, like a cartoon character, spitting out watermelon seeds like a machine gun.  Blech (And for the record, I also hate watermelon).  What then gets me, is how many people don’t toss the shells in the garbage.  When I had my god-awful job at a tux rental place, I would find random sunflower seeds everywhere as I cleaned every night.  Who does this?? Why is this acceptable?

Bok Choy
Cantonese for “let’s rip people off by shoving tasteless filler in their General Tso,” bok choy is known to ruin any good Chinese meal when it is used excessively.  Here in Phoenix Metro, we are lacking in good Chinese restaurants (the biggest exception being the excellent Golden Buddha at the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix), and I say this because 90% of the Chinese restaurants in a 15 mile radius of my house either use a 1:1 ratio of meat to bok choy, or have given me food poisoning.  That’s not a good statistic.

Bok choy also has toxic effects – did you know that?  It can make you nauseous and dizzy if you have too much of it. But why would you? Hurrff.

Raisins are basically the Adam Levine of food: they would be fine if they only appeared in a few select baked goods, but they pop up just about everywhere and make their unique texture and flavor seem tired and overdone.  Too much.  Cookies.  Yeast breads.  Quick breads.  Cinnamon rolls.  Stereo Hearts. Oatmeal. Cereals.  And on the subject of cereals, the only cereal as a kid that could hold a candle to the disappointment of Frosted Mini-Wheats was Raisin Bran.  Because there is nothing like soppy bran flakes with a bad milk-life mixed with stale, mummified grapes.

Another bad thing about raisins? They cause renal failure in dogs.  What’s worse about this fact? They have no idea what in grapes/raisins causes this. A little too mysterious, if you ask me.


N.F.W.: Our New Gossip Commentary!

Even Stock Photo Girl Says, "No. F-ing. Way!"

Here at Menacing Kitten Headquarters, when we’re not drinking Chocotinis, heating inedible frozenstuff, or drooling over James Marsden, we are talking gossip.  We love our blind gossip from Crazy Days and Nights, our “Ding-Dang Y’all, Brittany’s Eating Wings!” exposés of TMZ, and our snarkilicious Dirt Bag from Jezebel.  Because gossip and schadenfreude are dishes best served with said Chocotinis, we decided to start our own little gossip commentary: N.F.W. as in No.F-ing.Way.  Why? Because, OMG, everyone loves an acronym.

So what is going on in the Celeb World on this fine day? Well, there are three stories circling the water cooler at the moment:

An entertainment show recently spent an entire half an hour to tell me that Tom and Katie broke up. I know: N.F.W.  Who saw this coming? (Put your hand down Mimi Rodgers, and you too, World).  The entertainment show showed me footage of Oprah visiting Tom and Katie, and they totally looked happy and gave her moccasins. And then Oprah hugged them.  How could they fail? I know, Entertainment Show, I know.  They touched the hem of her garment, yet they were not made whole.  This is really challenging my faith.

Now, both TMZ and Rupert Murdoch are stating that the Church of Scientology is stalking Katie.  According to their credible sources who are photographing her apartment and wiretapping her phones 24-7, this is REALLY CREEPY. Apparently these sources bumped into someone else skulking in the bushes and they were like, who the hell are you? And the person was like, I’m the totally heterosexual, engram-free gardener! And then they were like SCIENTOLOGIST! **snaps photo**

Once upon a time, there was a morning news show that dominated all morning news shows.  Ruled by the jingle-riffic Katie, Matt, Al and Ann quatrofecto (is that a word? If not, it is now), it was a pleasant show that delivered news in that non-threatening, pre-Regis and Kelly (or was it Kathie Lee?) way, but still managed to get the point across.  In this fair land, reporters gave families a little space after their grief.  They’d wait a few days, possibly a few weeks to allow a family to properly mourn, and they’d have a sit-down interview all in good time.

I remembered the exact moment when this changed.

Following Columbine, Katie Couric sat down with two family members who lost a loved one to the tragedy only a day prior.  At the time, I felt uncomfortable that the Today show procured an interview with someone in mourning so fresh on the heels of tragedy.  Was this appropriate? Was this sensational? I wasn’t entirely sure.  The family’s story brought me to tears, but I couldn’t help but wonder if we should be seeing this.  Even now, I’m not sure what my answer is.

This interview was a defining moment for Couric, and it seemingly changed the landscape of reporting and interviews – everyone clamored after the mourning, looking to get that unforgettable, tears-inducing, ratings bonanza moment.

Fast forward 13 years, and morning news has gone meta – the Today Show, still a part of NBC news but looking more like the Entertainment Show mocked above, decides nothing would be more delicious than to feed the ratings beast the bland diet of everyone’s favorite Human Quinoa, Ann Curry.  Yes, Ann Curry, who has been a loyal employee to the ‘Cock for years, had the pleasure of seeing her name plastered all over the gossip rags thanks to some carefully placed leaks saying she sucked and her bosses wanted her out.  She got to read stories about how her colleague of just as long wouldn’t sign a long term contract unless they booted her.  And then she got to step on television at the height of this feeding frenzy her bosses salivated over, to say through tears that she was canned and her dreams have been shattered.  Then every employee of NBC News made a bully circle around her and pushed her back and forth amongst each other while calling her names and breaking her glasses.  Pig’s blood was dropped from the rafters, a good time was had by all.

I’ll be the first to admit, I haven’t really watched the Today Show in years, and I felt Curry was an odd fit for that role.  She always came across as a low-key, down-to-earth kind of chick. That sort of personality just doesn’t fly when on one side of you there’s Matt Lauer interviewing the Kardashians promoting their new Klassy Krap Kamp for Klepto Kids, and Al Roker’s over there on the other side, puppeteering a live lobster as Guy Fieri or whoever the fuck is making Pop Star Poppers for that American Idol finale party you had no intention of throwing.  Look, I used to really enjoy Today – I don’t even mind some of the fluff. But after seeing all of this BS, how can you place it all on Ann Curry? The way they handled her exit is all you need to know about the state of the Today Show and where it’s headed. And NBC – the hell? Is it even remotely possible for you to handle a high-profile firing with even a modicum of decency or common sense?

Again - N.F.W.! A charming silver fox who I’ve had a crush on yet always knew in my heart of hearts it would never be reciprocated told everyone he is gay.  The world minus Gawker was like, we all kind of knew this and didn’t care either way, no? Because the world loves the Silver Fox, no matter who he loves.  For those who don’t love him, I don’t count you, because you probably don’t like pina coladas, white Christmases or Singin’ in the Rain either.  DEAD TO ME.  Anyway, he came out, and I long to see the day when no one cares about the gender of the person you love, and this sort of statement isn’t considered newsworthy.  On the other hand, I suppose it will remain newsworthy as long as two men or two women can’t walk around in public simply holding hands without worrying if someone is going to harass them.  Because you know what? That’s still happening.  As a nation, we are still kind of judgey Neanderthals.  Except Neanderthals probably didn’t give a shit if someone was gay.  They probably saw two gay cavemen and were like, huh, that’s a different way of going about things, shrugged their shoulders and resumed punching a bison in the face.

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Picture Pages, Picture Pages

Back in the 80s and early 90s, Nickelodeon used to run a little short between shows called Picture Pages, with a very 70s-looking, groovy, (possibly stoned or more likely severely fatigued) Bill Cosby.  I used to get excited when these little shorts came on, but I felt a little left out.  I wanted to get my Picture Pages, and I’d want to get my crayons and my pencil.  The problem? No one had this damn book.  Did you? I’ll bet you didn’t.  In reality, Picture Pages was bad filler, wedged in there to pass some sort of educational programming standard.

I can almost hear the rage flowing across the internet to me:  How can you say anything bad about a Bill Cosby short? Bill F-ing Cosby.  Look, I get that he’s a national treasure and the face-popping and wow-faces are endearing; but are you telling me you enjoyed watching a grown man do a connect-the-dots for five minutes, and basically instruct you on how to do this task for a book no one owned?  If anyone can pull it off it’s Bill, but this is dry material, people.  At his best, he would throw himself into it:

“And so we’re drawing the bird house, see, go from one… to two [cue TRS-80 doople-doople-doople sound effect for the magic marker] to…anyone? That’s right…three! Now… we have… a bird house! And there’s the cat, Mr. Catimus Maximus, he’s down here saying, ‘Shnazzle-dazzle! I can’t get to the Bird!’ and the bird, Mr. Borderline B. BlueBird, says, ‘Shmackum-whackum! I’m in my house!’ [face pop]”

He tried so hard to make this exciting, despite probably filming 800 of these damn shorts in a single 24-hour period.  At least that’s how they came across:

[and tell me at 2:52 Bill was not high]

He and little Mortimer Marker didn’t only do connect the dots; apparently that was too complicated for kids.  So, they had kids draw lines to a happy earth and a sad, garbage-filled earth.

My train of thought as I watch this:
Hey! That’s one psychedelic fez Bill is wearing.  He’s like Doctor Who – fezes are cool!  Oh, it’s a dunce cap.  That’s disappointing.  Camille! OMG! The famous Camille.  She’s so pretty! She looks a little like a cross between Lisa Bonet and Maya Rudolph.  That’s kind of weird…wow, that’s some uninspired line-reading there.  I wonder if they film this in their basement.  Aw, he loves her. How cute.  Okay, maybe she doesn’t look like Lisa Bonet so much… oh my God, I’m eagerly anticipating the Mortimer sound…I wanted that marker so bad as a stocking stuffer.  Yeah, they don’t even care at this point – with pages like J-5 and Uu-1, how many picture pages were there anyway?  I bet they did these all back to back, and when they started botching lines they were like “f- it, the kids don’t give a shit, they’re probably eating their crayons right now anyway.”  Of course they wouldn’t really say that, because Bill Cosby doesn’t curse…I bet page Zy-43 broke his soul. I want to see that outtake.  Not that I relish in Bill Cosby’s broken soul – that’s pretty f-ing un-American – I just want to know how much worse these can get, because they are close to rock bottom right now…it’s kind of like when your least-stable relative is trying to keep their shit together at Thanksgiving and they’re like, “I’m happy! Everyone is happy!” and they’re just itching to run out of the dining room to smoke five packs of Camels on the patio…I bet they brought in Camille at last minute to help Bill “get through” this last stretch.  I can’t believe we make fun of Asian TV shows.  There’s a dude in Kyoto right now laughing his ass off at this, wondering why American programming is so weird…There’s a top comment on YouTube saying “the generation today needs programs like this.”  That is such a YouTube comment.

All that said, if someone could auto-tune this, I think it would be the most awesome thing ever.  Just saying. I have a submissions email, you know.