Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm in a flurry of planning, hoping to try out a new creamed spinach and parsnip dressing, wondering how to talk my mother into glazing the turkey with apricot compote (for color, I hear it's fantastic), overstuffing bags in case one outfit for dinner ends up with a big fat gravy splotch on it (this is most probable of all). I'm combining friends and family this year and hope everyone is on their best behavior, but the house is full of cats and the dog and my turkey of a brother, my mother who curses if the sausage stuffing dries out, my father who inevitably has to run to the barn, last minute to secure the chair we're missing, and it's inevitably tiny, antique and iron and I have to somehow sit on it as I sip perhaps my third wine and second buttered rum of the evening.

Thanksgiving is fantastic. Especially since I just ordered these flowers as a gift to family who won't be able to join us this year. But before all of that, a manic running around the "office" to check up on freelancing possibilities. My bags are heavy but my load is light--I have my family, I have my friends, I have a bed and for the moment, I may be exceptionally underemployed, but that merely gives me more time to put a new twist on our famous cranberry walnut pie. Traditions? We have none. Just to have a good time and a good stiff drink. And to retell this story.

Sending good wishes to all of you today, may you overeat and not think about the economy for just one day...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


When writing a restaurant review, I have learned my editor adores neutrality, abhors cliches (though does not consider the word 'fashionista' a cliche, which as we all know, rises the bile in my throat like nothing else--oh sorry, we're talking about food here, I retract that) and generally likes to get a feel of a place without a laundry list of how the place looked or the menu. Mark what stands out, be imaginative with language, but honestly, what is another word for clientele? Crowd? Patron? Diner? And there friends, is the trouble with restaurant reviews. Well, one of them anyway.

I looked at a random sampling of five that I've written and are on the magazine's website for all eternity. In three I say some variation of the word "elevate". Damn.

So when I go to a vegan coffeeshop that's blasting "ironic" music (Foo Fighters--though I'll contend anything from the late nineties isn't far enough gone to be ironic, early Nirvana = OK. Late Foo Fighters = Dear God No.) and serving weak coffee in "ironic" cups that were funny eight years ago (you mean you didn't graduate from Talahassee High, class of '83?) I try to keep an open mind.

I'm a food lover. A huge food-lover. Groomed at food magazines, I revel in every seared scallop, every crisped bit of pork cracklings, the richness of a buttery croissant or the heft of roasted root vegetables (especially when they have some sort of Parmasean crust). I love sushi, miso, coconut curries, meaty cuban sandwiches, crunchy fried chicken, cool rice pudding. All of it. I am an extremely fat person stuck in a thin person's body (this people, is why I have a trainer).

Now when a vegetarian crosses my path, hell I've even dated some, I don't get overly discouraged. Macrobiotic raw food? Pure Food and Wine on Irving makes delicious plates of thinly sliced vegetables layered between a garlicky pesto and gobs of the freshest tomato sauce I've ever had. It's vegetarian, then vegan, then macrobiotic and not even cooked. And believe me naysayers when I tell you it was amazing.

So when I was assigned this vegan coffeeshop, I was not at all irritated (leave that for the friend I opted to bring along). I imagined vegetable sandwiches and awesome salads. Or at least, really hot coffee that was sustainably grown.

What I got was some of the worst stuff I've had. And it's not because it was vegan, it was because the flavors were all off. The pesto had no bite, the tempeh overpowered the soy patty, the greens in a salad arrived grimy and unwashed ("Like the clientele!" My friend joked.) It wasn't awful because it was vegan. It was just straight up bad food. But vegans have little delicious options in that section of the city, and the people who ran it were really interesting, and had a community thing going on. So I don't want to diss it. I mean, how can a bacon-loving foodie ever criticize these sweet folks? Maybe because the "chef's" experience before this was DELIVERING FOOD ELSEWHERE.

But still, I lament. I'm not a vegan, how would I know what good vegan food is? But I'm starting to wonder if it even matters. Because these were vegans who seemed to not enjoy food very much. And I think that if you are a vegan or vegetarian you should never be eschewed for not eating meat (it's delicious, but whatever). Having principles rocks. It's important. Not enough people go green and not enough understand that when done right, being vegan or vegetarian has an enormous positive impact on your body and the world as a whole. But I'm someone who enjoys food down to the smallest level. Salads simply dressed with lemon, freshly-squeezed juices, artisanal and organic breads--all of these things can be amazing. When a food establishment doesn't take the umbrella of vegetarian to mean they can just crank out food that...well, isn't up to par, is it?

Guess I'll try to keep that in mind while writing a review--the place just wasn't for me. And not because I'm not vegan. But because I don't like mediocre meals--vegan or otherwise...

Thursday, November 20, 2008

This. Means. War.

Hey Apple Store,

Hi! Hey! Over here! Look at me! Can you see me? Helloooo? I’m waving to you. Yes, you. Hey, oh look you’re coming over here. Great. Okay I’ll wait. Look at your sleek, pretty exterior. I would wait until the end of time for you.

What’s that Apple store? You need to put me on hold? Sure! You’re busy. What with all those adorably be-speckled clients of yours, in their vests and skinny jeans and new business plans. ZOMG, I totally identify with everyone else. Boy I’m glad I switched to a Mac.

Hey, the hold line is playing music! Yeah, I bet it’s a hot new band cause like, Apple totes knows all the hot new bands, I mean, lookie at those ipod commercials! Oh wait, it’s Ch-Ch-Changes. Ch-ch-changes!

Hey, you’re back! And it was only 45 minutes? Can I just tell you how funny it is that you are playing Ch-ch-changes over and over and over again? That’s totally hilarious. We’re really going through some changes, huh? How about that Obama? CHANGE! Speaking of which, can you spare any?

Right, how silly of me to ask. That was a joke, yeah yeah. A joke. What’s that Apple store? You’re mumbling. I must be hallucinating cause I think you just said you want to charge me almost $900 to fix my computer monitor.

Oh you do? That wasn’t a Klonopin-induced nightmare? I see. (Choking back the rising bile)

No, no, it’s totally fine. I mean, if anyone understands the creative underclass it’s you. Like you wouldn’t charge me that unless you had to right? (Holding back tears).

I mean, you wouldn’t do that to a freelance writer who already lives with three roommates and is awaiting the ax from each magazine as they fold….right?

Oh, you would? You’re a corporate bastard who doesn’t allow a computer that is 9 months old to be covered under your warranty because you make the screen of graham crackers, excitedly awaiting it to crack apart and charge me 1/2 of what it cost to buy this machine in the first place?

I see. (Popping antacids like Pez)

Okay but you would totally give me my computer back really fast right? Cause I have no resources without it, and can’t get new jobs, let alone finish the old ones without the computer right? Oh, you need to put me on hold again. Cool.

Hey, I wonder how long I could live on ramen and slices of that really big meatball I got at dinner the other night and took home, seeing the potential for ten meals from that meatball, if I cut it real thin…

Oh Apple! You’re back! God it feels like we’ve been talking for hours. Days even. Wait, today is Thursday. And you’ve had my computer for a week. And this is our fifth phone call. So, we have been talking for days. Well at least you’re working hard on my—

Oh. You’ve…lost my ticket and haven’t even shipped this thing out to get fixed. Why? Oh, you can’t tell me. No, no, it’s fine! I mean, I’m just a little FRUSTRATED! Oh, sorry, didn’t mean to yell. Okay, so you are putting in the order now. Any chance you can knock off a few bucks for dicking me around so much?

Right, of course not. Pardon me a minute, there’s something I have to do….

(Loading shotgun)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So, the reason I've been gone is....

The day after I got me some downsized hours (along with the rest of the permalancers in the building--please revise my earlier statement--PRINT IS DEAD! For a month or so...damn you economy), my laptop fell off my lap (no joke, because someone knocked on the door and I was startled, like some old lady who doesn't understand the cell phone ringing in the movie she is watching is not actually her own phone which never rings) and the LCD screen exploded into a beautiful kaleidoscope of white and green.

Which was pretty. For a minute. But I found quickly that it's not an Etch-a-Sketch. You can't just shake it to fix it.

Now no office computer (not really) and no home computer (not at all until it comes back from the Apple "Genius")! And I've never felt like blogging and writing more. Oh for crying out loud...

So yeah, sorry about that. I will try to post more often than once a the meantime, how's your job(s) going?

Sweet. So, you hiring?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I can haz ur overused wrdz?

I was perusing some lists of words/phrases that should be banned (that sometimes we all use) and wanted to come up with my own (and steal some of theirs).

10. "Net net".
Hey newly-minted business person who wants to use phrases like "status" and "multiple touchpoints" in normal person-speak, I used to work in advertising too! Now shut up. Damn made up language.

9. "He gave it to Susan and I"
Oh pardon me! I didn't realize I was talking to the Queen of England...except you're just being pretentious and using the word "I" incorrectly instead of "me". Note to those mutton posing as lamb: If you take away the person or article in front of your "I", it damn well better make sense. As in, "He gave it to I vs. He gave it to me."

8. "Snap!"/"Hot Mess"/"Beat Down"/"Hell Yes"
This came up recently when one friend accused another friend of learning their slang from 90s sitcoms like Living Single and City Guys (you know you watched City Guys after Saturday morning cartoons. "C-I-T-Y, you can see why, the city guys!")

7. "Blogosphere". There are not enough descriptors in Dante's Hell that suit my insatiable and inhuman desire to murder this phrase into the ground. See also, "Hipster". See also "Hypocrite" as I have used these both in the past week.

6. "I just threw up in my mouth a little"
Really? I mean, that is wild! See cause when people throw up a little, or even a lot, I thought it was in their ass. Boy, you're clever.

5. "Myself". As in it was Carrie and myself. Refer to #9.

4. "Print is dead". Look, I know the "Internets" is the way of the future, thanks for pointing that out, 1990. What a new concept! The idea that words posted on a screen versus on a page is nothing new. I'd love it however, if people would stop treating this as a new concept, especially anyone born after 1985. Journalistic standards are crap online, and anyone can be famous. Print is the last bastion of the elite. Internet brings people together and waters down talent. Now I work in magazines, and you will pry each one that folds before my eyes from my cold dead hands. I am writing a book. I think writing should be on paper (and have an online supplement). Kids younger than me, stop telling me this is not a worthy pursuit and that PRINT IS DEAD. The young ones always have the conviction but rarely the acumen to truly predict and be cognizant of what is going on the moment they are young. Obama will not be twittering his inaugural address. Yes it's cool that he knows what it is. It's even cooler that he doesn't use it, because to do so would be a dilution. P.S. They said the VCR would be the end of movies and television too. Technology is not our destructor and not our savior. Can we do something a little more important with our lives than decrying some resources and having endless, circular discourse? Also, you tell me my Grandpa doesn't like getting a card in the mail instead of an email. Yeah, he's old, but he's awesome and Australian. Let's listen to him.

(to be finished in a moment...)

Friday, November 07, 2008

Quote of the Day

In honor of the novel, and the edits I am going through, I'd thought I'd share a quote from page 334 (now this doesn't AT ALL mean pages 1-333 are done, I'm going through to see the arc of each chapter, the arc of the novel, if each character that already is, should be, represented in a scene, if each scene serves a theme, if each theme serves ice cream, and other important notes).

The character is Alfred, a 60 year old curmudgeon with foppish tendencies whom the protagonist forms a fatherly relationship with....


She took a step forward in an effort to pet it, but the cat turned, ready to dash. Alfred cleared his throat dramatically. "Hurry up."

"Why? It's early."

"Well I don't really want to get into it, but that creature's anus just winked at me."

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Weeee! Nonsense! Fake Post!

Barack, furiously rewriting my novel and bouncing around on too many dinners out (but now actually able to do chin-ups at the gym, I know, right?)!

This is a good week. Now if only I could revise the 40 pieces of writing that just arrived on my desk. Anyone know a new word for garlicky? Hmmmm? Yes, indeed I have a noble profession.