Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Dregs Of Figgy Pudding

Most of us don’t really look forward to Christmas. I blame expectations.

When we’re young, we expect a surfeit of good things. Fortunately, when we’re young, it’s easy to be surfeited. For me, all it took was a new Oz book (as in Wizard Of, not the acclaimed HBO show) or whatever toy the (black and white) TV told me I wanted.

Fast-forward to adulthood. TVs are big, flat, and high def (but still bossy.) Surfeit isn’t an option anymore.

Maybe that’s because now we’re more preoccupied with giving than receiving. This is both logical and good. First, it’s nice to think of others before ourselves. You know, golden rule and whatnot.

Second, it’s not easy to come up with stuff we can wrap in festive paper and give to our friends and loved ones to make them happy.

Truth be told, Auntie isn’t a particularly good gift giver. Sure, if I know you collect something, I’ll try to find you a weird one. But nobody collects stuff anymore. It’s all digital now.

I didn’t even bake cookies this year. That said, I’m running Cookie Clicker in the background as I type this.

Ahem. Sorry, tangent. I was trying to talk about the spirit of Christmas.

See, I had an unexpectedly transcendent Christmas.

Unexpected because as I said, grown-ups don’t really expect much. Transcendent because I got the most wonderful gift from people I didn’t think would bother.

I got validation. In fact, I was happily surfeited with validation.

It started last week, when Morgan (@RudeMorgue, follow him on Twitter for his acerbic wit) gave me something that showed not only thought, but care. If you come over, you can see it. He wasn’t supposed to give me anything. I didn’t give him anything.

(He will have many cookies soon-ish.)

For those of us without a large family base, it’s easy to feel overlooked or alienated at this time of year. This gets worse when the ties to old friends have stretched or broken.

So special thanks to my new and new-ish friends, Alex and Fracture and Fraser and Gill and Janiam and Mia and Schwartzie (in alphabetical order) for taking the time to make this cranky old Auntie Grinch have a holly jolly holiday.

Now all I want is to get enough anti-matter condensers to dunk my cookie. Don’t ask, and whatever you do, do NOT start clicking.

P.S. In between when I wrote that and when I posted this, I saw my friend Max Maven and got the ultimate validation (especially considering the source.) He said, “There’s nothing generic about you, kiddo.” Ok, it was in conext, but dammit, I'm keeping it.

And when I got back from seeing him, I had enough cookies for another anti-matter condenser! Wheee!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Glass Hat

Last night, while Robert was sitting on the bed getting ready to do an Improv show, there was a sudden CRASH and a football sailed through the window right over his head. Shattered glass missed his face by less than a foot.

It’s okay now. Robert covered the hole with cardboard and our neighbor is trying to get it repaired as quickly as possible, given that it’s the weekend before Christmas.

But damn, a crisis can put a damper on the old holiday spirit.

I was out with the little dog, so the worst was over by the time I arrived on the scene. My part was damage control. Auntie has a merit badge in damage control.

Hell, Auntie has a whole whatever-merit-badges-add-up-to in damage control.

And that’s what we associate with Christmas, damage control.

That wasn’t a joke and I’m not being sarcastic.

You’re young enough that just surviving the time with your extended family can cause damage. I remember that well. We should swap stories.

I got through it. You can too.

Hopefully you’ll do it with greater grace and sobriety than I did, but hey, whatever gets you through the tinsel.

Auntie has one piece of advice for you: If you do freak out and hit or throw something, try not to break anything made of glass. It’s a bitch to clean up.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

L'eggs Oh

Is this title too obscure? Sorry, children.

Auntie was trying to be funny by conflating the slogan “Leggo my Eggo™!“ with the idea of L’eggs™ and kick in some foreshadowing in the process.

It’s all because of my little dog Jonah, who doesn’t wear socks, let alone pantyhose, but would happily steal your frozen waffle if he could reach it.

Robert was busy, so I walked the dog yesterday morning. For context, it was just before noon on a sunny Saturday. This matters because there were tons of people out and about so the walk took forever because the little beast is not only adorable and knows how to work it, but old and crotchety to boot.

No, he doesn’t wear boots either. Focus, people!

We passed a group of women, probably realtors, who were happily and busily going door to door. I say realtors because the church people had already been by and most of them were men, but it doesn’t matter. The women could have been anything. The important thing is their legs.

They were all wearing pantyhose.

I haven’t even owned pantyhose since I was in my 20s. I didn’t wear them much even then, but I had them. Maybe in case a pantyhose emergency cropped up. I dunno.

Our paths kept crossing, mostly because Jonah planted himself like a teeny tiny sumo wrestler and refused to budge whenever they were nearby. So I had a lot of time to think.

Do they even make those little plastic eggs with pantyhose in them anymore and if not, when did they stop? Did I notice at the time? Did the world change when they went away?

If that’s not loopy enough, I started getting loopier, as one does when one is – and has been for a while -- standing around waiting for a little dog.

In all the infinite futures, was there one in which I would now be wearing pantyhose? Which decision turned me away from that?

Considering that I saw Xanadu in the theaters at least 3 or 4 times, you’d think my legs would be laminated with an uncomfortable and shiny off-beige polymer. They’re not.

I don’t eat frozen waffles, either.

(In case you’re curious, they stopped marketing pantyhose in plastic eggs back in the 90s. There’s a dinosaur joke in there somewhere.)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Corduroy Pillows

“Police Push Into Kiev Square as Crisis Grows”

“Effort to Help Filipino Women Falters, U.N. Says”

“Thai Premier Rejects Demands That She Quit”

Oh, there’s more. French paratroopers died in Africa. A Chinese professor who advocated for free speech was fired. Most chilling of all, a child welfare agency in Arizona was found to have 6,554 cases of documented physical abuse that were filed away without any investigation at all.

That’s six THOUSAND.

Do these headlines sound familiar? Then I’m not the only one who read yesterday’s New York Times. High five! No, it’s the NYT. Sedate but firm handshake instead.

Now let’s talk about how there’s only twelve days until Christmas.

What? Was that transition too abrupt for you?

That’s kind of how I feel when I see luxurious ads juxtaposed with stories about human suffering, but there’s more than that.

I know I just complained about the surfeit of (and subsequent desensitization to) information in our techie global world, and I wouldn’t want to repeat myself.

Har har. True enough, Auntie doesn’t mind repeating herself, endlessly or otherwise.

But instead of trying to work through to a way of handling massive amounts of conflicting input, I’ll focus on the one thing that, no matter how hard I try I just can’t get a handle on. On which I can’t get a handle. You know. Never mind.

The thing that I need to come to grips with is how they decide which words to capitalize in the headlines. It’s really bugging me.

Ding dong, ding dong, merry merry merry Christmas.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Shake'N Fake

Once upon a time, things were supposed to be “real” and “honest”. “Organic” was shiny and new, and “authenticity” a gold ring for the distant yuppified artisanal future.

Calling something (or someone) fake was an insult. Being fake was bad.

People were still supposed to be physically attractive, but nobody (of either gender) wanted to look like they were wearing makeup, or even like they bathed. Think Woodstock.

And it wasn’t enough to have opinions, people were supposed to care about absolutely everything. Think Earth Day, which started in New York 1970 (and generated hundreds of thousands of metric tons of trash but let’s not go there.)

Oh, and all of our ideas were supposed to be original and well-founded.

There was more to us than just ecology and politics and music and art and clothes. We were supposed to care about everything.

Well, everything except food. That came later.

Let’s recap: Unassisted beauty and informed passion, all based on unique, well-researched experience – this in the days when information only came on printed sheets of paper, either bound, stapled or folded. Unless Cronkite was on, of course.

It was an impossible standard, yet fakery was still supposed to be bad.

Did you catch that transition? Now I’m saying fake was just “supposed to be” bad.

See previous, re impossible.

The aesthetic was to have a face that looked like laminated fabric, in a way that human skin just doesn’t. Well, the makeup was real, and for all our ecological zeal, it sure as hell wasn’t “organic” or “cruelty free” back then either.

We all decorated our clothes ourselves, but in a precisely similar way. So much for originality.

And as for our opinions, well, go Netflix “The Breakfast Club”. Same as previous.

I’m conflating my eras here, but it works.

Historically, we faked being informed and passionate. Now we are surfeited with information, and fake being too cool to care.

Ironically, irony wasn’t in fashion back then either.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Jingle Bell Time

You can’t tell from looking at our leftover Hanukah decorations, but I generally like Christmas.

This in spite of the “All Christmas! All the time!” music our Loud Neighbors have been playing (loudly) since the day before Thanksgiving…

And, okay, yeah, our house is the dark splotch on an ersatz Candy Cane Lane.

(Not to mention my Growing Grinchiness with the excessive capitalization the Holiday Season inspires.)

Still, for the most part, Auntie likes Christmas.

Let’s be honest here, what I really like is the excuse to make cookies for people and the justification for all the Santa Clauses I keep around all year long.

Don’t snark. The spirit of joy and generosity that is symbolized by a smiling fat guy who doesn’t happen to be Robert is a beautiful thing. Robert is also a beautiful thing, but that’s beside the point.

Giddy-up Jingle Bell Rock.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

So Busted, Door Busted

It’s true. You won’t believe this, but Auntie tried to keep a secret from you. Mea culpa.

Yes, you snarky little brat of indeterminate age, there are things which your apparently boundary-less old Auntie won’t blog.

Sigh. Go on, get it out. Ha ha. Very funny. Feel better now? Can we get on with this?

The ostensible and ersatz former secret is that Auntie went Black Friday shopping on Thursday night after Thanksgiving dinner.

Way, way after, but Thursday night nonetheless.

It was actually tremendous fun.

I got a plate! Auntie does love her plates. The newspaper coupon even worked. Double yay!

Now for the double object lesson. Don’t make that face. You knew there had to be at least one.

Object lesson #1: We also got a lovely new red Christmassy tablecloth. It was what they call a “door buster.” The original ridiculous price was temporarily cut by an arcane mathematical series of formulae, down to a fair price.

No math quiz, that’s not the lesson.

Most of the “door busters” were ugly, badly made, still ridiculously overpriced and/or otherwise a complete waste of time, material and effort. That’s not the lesson either.

The lesson is that after one day (count it, 1 day!) our lovely new tablecloth has a mysterious little black squiggle of ink that wasn’t there when we got it.

Sigh #2.

Of course I’m treating it like the dent I got eight years or so ago, the day (1 day!) after my car was new.

But there’s still an object lesson in there. I think it’s something about acceptance & making the best of things, blah blah etc. I’m not entirely sure, but that’s what most object lessons end up being, so let’s run with it.

I’ve forgotten Object Lesson #2.

Sigh #3.

Mea maxima culpa.

But if you come over for dinner, and I’m inviting you right now, I’ll make sure you get to eat off of the new plate. It’s very pretty.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Back To The Happy-Happy

I’d apologize for the tone of the previous post, except that the Internet is traditionally used for catharsis. You know what else is also traditional? Family drama at the holidays.

Knock on wood, I got mine done early. Yay, me!

You know what else I got done early? Absolutely everything I can. Could. You know.

There are obsessive Civil War re-enactors who put in less effort staging the Battle of Antietem than I do when mapping out my Thanksgiving cooking strategy. I also enjoy it even more.


Sometimes I think I spend the whole year waiting for Thanksgiving, the way kids are supposed to wait for Christmas, only I’m not disappointed after. Knock wood again, and let’s not think about the year the (fill in the blank) didn’t come out.

That was a joke. Something always doesn’t come out, but I make so much food it gets lost in the crowd.

This year, with Hanukah falling on the same day, I feel like one of those people whose birthdays are December 25th, only not really, because they generally get screwed and my joy is doubled. Bad analogy. Never mind.

So far I’ve made and frozen the piroshkis and both pie doughs. The chicken soup is waiting for the matzoh balls, and the brine is chilling (haha get it? Anthropomorphic humor!) before it meets Sheldon Turkey on Wednesday.

I got Manischevitz ™ brand noodles for the kugel. You know, for verisimilitude. The label says “Quality since 1888”, which really should be 5648 but who’s counting?

Little bunches of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme await their bed of stuffing. Now I have that damned song in my head. Never mind that too.

It’s Thanksgiving week, hooray!

It’s also only Monday. Boo!

Boo because it’s too soon to start the real cooking, so I’m chomping at the bit and pacing around, tidying and sweeping and re-checking the lists, waiting waiting waiting until the roller coaster of the week gets to the top and the real fun begins.

You know, tomorrow.

Happy Thanksgiving, my darlings! And a very happy Hanukah too.

Thanksgiving Day update: Well, at the last minute I decided not to make the broccoli gremolata. And Sheldon Turkey turned out to be a free range organic Cindy. Other than that, though, I have time to sit here and type this, while I wait for the arrival of my loved ones, both human and canine. Very Happy All-You-Can-Eat Day, my darlings!

Friday, November 22, 2013

2 Helluva Things

It’s that time of year, folks. The lite (or soy) egg nog is flowing and twinkle lights have gone up across the land, all backed by a soundtrack of premature Christmas music.

Oh, and Auntie’s seasonal affective disorder started a week and a half ago.

You all know how Auntie is estranged from both sides of her extended family. I say this having been told that my sweet and seriously stunning cousin-in-law reads this blog. (Hi, honey! Hug!)

She’s not related to me via biology, so my thesis stands.

You know what? My thesis doesn’t just stand, it rears back and roars. To wit:

Once upon December 16th 2012, there was a seasonally affected post about “my aunt who was never an Auntie.” We had an interesting and rocky relationship, dependent upon her (occasionally desperate) needs and her (verbally voracious) disapproval.

As anecdotal as the details are, I’ll spare you. (You’re welcome.) The point is that eventually we drifted into semiannual phone calls and cards.

A week or so ago I got a group email from a friend (please note that it was from a friend) with the subject line “Zelda’s Obituary”. Yep, Zelda was the aforementioned Aunt.

That’s the first helluva thing.

She died last July. Neither of her kids, their spouses, or their kids bothered to send as much as a text. Yes, if I had known she was seriously ill, I would have visited to say good-bye. Bad times aside, I would have shown respect.

For the record, the sweet & seriously stunning cousin-in-law is on the other (albeit equally estranged) side of my family and had nothing to do with any of this.

It’s a helluva thing to find out about the death of a family member months later from the subject line of a group email.

The second helluva thing is that I’m telling you about it.

Or shouting it, rather, from the far side of the burned bridge.

Part of why is the whole “what you can’t fix, feature” thing, but part of it is that Auntie is looking out for you. You’re still in the early pages of the Choose Your Own Adventure™ book of your life. I’m here to tell you that even if you jump from page 26 to page 174, all the stuff in between will still happen. Prepare yourself and plan accordingly.

I’m going to have some soy egg nog now.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

(Ask Auntie) Poo Poo Loo

Dear Aunt SC,

My friends -- let's call them Marge and Al -- are soon to go on another lovely cruise. Al is very excited about it. Marge is, well, happy that Al is happy, and it'll be fine. Sure, Marge enjoys cruising. But what do you do about those tiny cruise ship stateroom loos that have no ventilation? Commercial air fresheners are so tacky. Is there another clever option that does not involve flame? Something involving an essential oil perhaps?

Sorry not to be more seasonal. Wish I had a turkey cooking question for you, but I leave all that grief to my sister, who conjures a fabulous holiday meal every year.

With olfactory gratitude,


Dear Landlubber,

Avast and belay. Your timing is exquisite. Auntie just tweeted the following:

We live in a world where something called Poo-Pourri(tm) has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Sigh.

If that counts as "commercial air freshener" then Auntie would suggest getting a dropper bottle and filling it with either lavender, rosemary or eucalyptus oil and using it according to the directions on the Poo-Pourri (tm).

If any of you darling readers have a better suggestion, please leave a comment so Landlubber can see it. We don't want their Love Boat to turn into a stinky ship.

Bon buffet!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dum De Dum Yum

Let’s all bow our heads for the passing of the NaNoWriMo and get on with our November.

Of course all of you dear sweeties realized that Auntie was doomed from the start. Thanks for not pointing out the obvious and for letting me find out my own way. You are adorable and I love what you’ve done with your hair.

Without a chip on my shoulder, there was no way something as invisible and gratuitous as NaNoWriMo could make a dent in this, the Thanksgiving month.

Auntie does love her Thanksgiving, oh yes she does.

As has been mentioned already, this is the first time in 125 (count’em!) years that Hanukah and Thanksgiving will coincide. Cohabitate. Conflate, but not confabulate.

Copacetic cookery! Cooeee…

Okay, I’m getting silly. But I have a damn good reason for it.

It’s almost time to start the cooking prep. Not the prep cooking, that won’t happen til next week, but the Making Of The Lists is almost upon us. Lo and forsooth.

While not the best part, it’s one of my favorite parts of a celebration that is one of my very favorites. It’s fun to gather the recipes and tick off how much butter I’ll need, how many eggs, which herbs, veggies and other goodies will come together as best as I can magic them.

Food is love. Ergo, feeding people I love is the super bestest, and I never feed more forcefully than on Thanksgiving. Quod erat something fattening with nutmeg on top and lots of pie.

The once upon a time start to the story happened this morning when I stopped by our little local grocers to order the turkey for those of my loved ones who might care to partake of double-holiday avian flesh.

Last year’s turkey was named George. At least I think it was, I’m too lazy to go back into the archives to check.

Note for my lovely new readers: Yes, I name my turkeys. It’s a vegetarian thing.

This year, our turkey will be named Sheldon, and I can’t wait to meet him next Wednesday. Cooeee!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Speaking Of Dead Virgins...

Dateline: The Italian deli down the street.

The bent-over elderly Italian gentleman behind the counter peered at me over his picturesque wire-rimmed glasses.

“You want what?” he asked incredulously, in a charming accent.

“Parmesan rinds,” I repeated. “Do you have any?”

He shook his head -- not in negation, but to indicate mystification. Then he went to consult his equally elderly but less stooped compatriot, who pointed to a jar behind the grating machine. He also said not to charge me.

No, I didn’t take them all. I know their street value even if those lovely men didn’t, so I only asked for the handful I needed to cook with today. They’re simmering as I type this.

But Auntie, you ask, and quite reasonably at that. What does this have to do with virgins, dead or otherwise?

I’m getting to that.

This is about a non-existent tweet, with a spoiler for your own dotage.

Of course I was going to tweet about it all, but I couldn’t remember the name of those gnarled little imps from Italian folklore. That’s not a problem, because I have a reference book on European fairies and goblins and elves oh my.

Then I couldn’t find the book. (If you’ve seen my bookshelves, you know.) Then I couldn’t even remember the actual name of the book to ask Robert to find it for me.

This is the spoiler alert: All those jokes about old people forgetting stuff, that’s real.

You’ll see.

Now don’t start with me. Yes, I Googled. I can give you all sorts of links to the Italian rock band “Goblin”.

So I figured I could write the tweet using an imp from another country. I found Iratxoak, which was pretty cool looking, and then I found Kyöpelinvuori, which was way cooler.

The problem is that Kyöpelinvuori is a place, not an imp. It’s a Finnish ghost mountain supposedly haunted by the spirits of virgins who die young.

I can’t use that. Sigh.

I’m going to go tweet about the weather now. It was in the high 80s again today.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

U-ey & The Mews

The following isn’t just based on a true story. It is a true story, and it’s being reported a hell of a lot more accurately than anything you’ll see on cable TV.

(I haven’t even put the groceries away yet, that’s how accurate this reporting is, or is about to be.)

Here’s what happened within the last two hours:

Auntie was driving to the first item on her To Do list for the day. Yes, it’s Sunday. No, she has neither church nor football. If that’s news to you, then welcome to Scarycookies and thank you for making your first visit to this blog. You rock.

Now back to our regularly scheduled story.

Anyhow, I was taking a shortcut up a residential street (the one without speed bumps) and I saw, up ahead in the distance, a cat crossing the road in front of me. It was a dark cat but I couldn’t see the exact color from way back there.

Newbies are nonplussed by that. Scarycookies regulars already know what happened next and are snickering mockingly at their old Auntie.

Of course I pulled a u-ie. U-ey. Made a u-turn. Whatever you want to call it, I did not drive over that path.

That’s not the story.

The story is that between items two and three on the To Do list, it happened again, this time with a visibly all-black cat. Another u-turn, another route.

Don’t be a cynical smarty-pants and say that I only did it to have something about which to blog. While I’m not above that kind of thing, too many of you know me in real life and know that I’m perfectly capable of even more compulsively superstitious behavior.

See previous posts re superstitious behavior and self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve posted 524 times here and there’s a limit to how often I’m willing to repeat myself, though I’ll do it one more time now:

To quote my friend Max Maven quoting Nils Bohr on the subject of superstition, “I understand it works whether you believe in it or not.”

Besides, I came up with a cute title while I was at a red light, and I’ve posted worse for less.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Means, Motive & Opportunity

“’Why’ doesn’t matter!” Auntie used to proclaim loudly and often. Back in 2009, before I became really comfortable with this whole blogging thing, I even posted a rant on the subject:

But now I’m not so sure. The older I get, the more motivation seems to matter.

Think about it. When someone says something that hits you the wrong way, the first thing you do is look at why they said it.

If it was a joke that whiffed, then it’s probably nothing. (Unless it suddenly revealed subconscious hostility, an unattractive personality trait or was a reference to some TV show you really hate.)

But if it wasn’t a joke, if the speaker really meant it, or meant something even worse, then you react accordingly. (I trust my exquisitely courteous and polite readers also to react appropriately.)

The “why” is everything.

Maybe Auntie has been reading too many murder mysteries lately, but motivation seems to matter more and more these days. Not in any Machiavellian sense, but just plain having a damn good reason for doing whatever you do. Did. Did do. You know.

If the only reason to do something is to have done it when it’s over, then why should you even bother?

Yeah, okay, you caught me. Busted.

I’m still talking about NaNoWriMo here.

Unless you want to hear about laundry or car repairs or Melva’s trip to the eye doctor, that’s all I’ve got for you at the moment. Tomorrow I start testing recipes for Hanukah-giving*, but until I have to pick up my admirable and adorable mother, I have time to sit here and type. That gives me about an hour either to work on my 1,667 or to wonder to you why I should.

Like last year, Auntie started NaNoWriMo to be one of the cool kids. Like last year, all of the actual cool kids have stopped already. Even the one I didn’t know had started until he told me he stopped has stopped.

(One of them says he’s going to finish writing his novel but not on this particular schedule. That’s not a NaNoWriMo, it’s a perfectly laudable NoWri, or it will be eventually. Let’s all cross our fingers for him, because it sounds like a great story.)

Auntie has finished four and a half unpublished novels, one of which was quite good. I have nothing to prove there. And I did last year’s NaNoWriMo to the end, though I deleted it afterward.

So if “why” matters, then all I’ve got is that I started this so I should finish it.

If “why” doesn’t matter, then I got nothing. Sic.

Nothing but 8,447 fairly entertaining words, that is.

Which is an answer in itself, or if it isn’t, it’s all I’m going to get.


*For the uninformed, this year is the first time in 125 years that Hanukah and Thanksgiving fall on the same day. Blue and white cornucopias for everyone!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Chapter One

The fifty two and a half year old woman sighed heavily because her coffee had gotten cold. Oh sure, she could feel the buzz from the half pot she had already drunk that morning, but the stuff on her desk was cold and that was a problem. Cold coffee sucks.

Cold coffee particularly sucks when there’s a lot of cogitation to accomplish.

She took a sip anyhow. Then she took a gulp. Then she tried to define that peculiar, almost metallic aftertaste that cold coffee with soy milk gets.

Then she decided to get on with it.

Note to my darling readers:

This is the beginning of Auntie’s NaNoWriMo. Yes, really.

While it picks up from there, you should know that your Auntie is looking out for you, therefore I promise to try not to post any of the rest of it.

You’re welcome.

Friday, November 1, 2013

NaNoWriMo Part Two, The Sequel, Redux, As In: Son Of NaNoWriMo

Well, my darlings, Auntie has done it again. Not only has she begun NaNoWriMo (Google it, or search in the Scarycookies search box on the top left of the page because I’ve done this before and you’d think I would know better) but… well, no.

NaNoWriMo is enough, full stop.

I was going to tell you about the ridiculous thing your Auntie did this morning, but then I got caught up in NaNoWriMo and spent two and a half hours getting my first 1,900 done.

Yes, yes, I know, 1,667 words a day is the goal, but it’s so much more glorious to burn out after overextending yourself in the beginning, isn’t it?

This time it’s different. I’m doing it for fun. For once I’m not going to pressure myself to finish at any cost, no matter how bad the product is.

Hahahaha snort!

Auntie made a funny.

Auntie is compulsive about finishing tasks, which makes this even stupider.

I say “stupider” instead of the correct “more stupid” to demonstrate the irrelevance of word count in a blog post. If this was part of NaNoWriMo, I might have said “so very much more stupid” because that’s five instead of two.

You get the idea.

Mark Twain got paid by the word for “The Innocents Abroad”, that’s why it’s so long. The same with Dickens. There is a proud history in Literature of people padding their word count.

Those among us who are by nature sneaky and suspicious might think that there is a connection to NaNoWriMo there.

(If you've ever attempted your own NaNoWriMo you’d be giggling with a tinge of hysteria at that. Well, maybe not this early in the month, but give it a week or two.)

Anyhow, I’ll save the stupid thing I did this morning for later in the month, when I run out of things to blog because my fingers have worn themselves down to the nub on the daily 1,667.

To my NaNoWriMo brethren, I say Excelsior!

To the rest of you, I apologize in advance.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lights! Camera! Inaction.

There’s a street fair near our house on the third Friday night of each month. Of course I never go, because I’m at Danger Room on Friday nights. Except last night I didn’t go to Danger Room and it happened to be fair night.

That’s what my father used to call quite a coinky-dink. Yeah, he was a Marine. Why do you ask?

Jim came over. Jim also was a Marine, but that’s not germane to the story. I leashed Jonah and we all walked into the fray. Haha. Auntie made a semi pun. Fair-fray. Ok, no. Never mind.


Little Jonah was thrilled to bits. Not only were many other dogs there for him to sniff and then ignore, but people dropped bits of food. Most of the bits were snatched by the other (read: younger) dogs, but he got a bite of Jim’s bratwurst so he was happy.

He was also very popular. Two of the pretty 20ish girls who stopped to pet him were surrounded by lighting, sound and camera guys. Jonah was spooked (he was wearing the same amount of makeup that I was, but he’s a dog. He still looked fabulous.) The girls moved on after a very brief interchange.

That’s when the harried assistant shoved a release form in my face. It seems they were filming some kind of reality show.

See previous about no makeup and not looking fabulous. I declined to sign.

Apparently that’s never happened before. She immediately got on the phone to tell someone that “the woman with the dog refused to sign!” I was waiting for Jim, so I watched everybody else who was anywhere nearby sign their own forms, and then get their pictures taken holding their releases next to their faces.

This is where Auntie should get all wise and write a scathing (but humorous) commentary about our media-obsessed culture. Can we please just pretend that I did and that you were suitably impressed? Phew. Thanks, honey. I owe you cookies.

No, I never found out what show it was. If you see a middle-aged woman in jeans and an oversized hoodie with a pixilated face wrangling a fluffy little caramel beast, that’s probably your cranky Auntie. Be kind.

If you want to, you can friend Jonah on Facebook. He’s Jonah D. Mann. Yes, because he’s da man and that’s no coinky-dink.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Brand New Ask Auntie (!)

Woohoo! We’re live, folks. Auntie got a new letter:

Dear Aunt Scarycookies,

My best friend is a bitch. That sounds really bad, but I figured out that it’s true because she always does really bitchy things when we go out and I get so mad at her and at me because I don’t do anthing (sic) to stop it from happening. I don’t have a lot of friends but it seems like I ought to break up with her or something.

What do I do the next time she yells at the waiter for not doing something she never asked him for? Does it matter that she only does this to the hot guys or ugly girls?

Wondering Wallflower

Dear Wondering,

You do have a problem here, sweetie, and Auntie sympathizes. Nobody likes to sit and cringe while their dining companion goes all WWE on the server.

Realistically, you’re not going to be able to reason with anybody who makes a habit of yelling whenever she’s dissatisfied.

Personally, I’d grab my phone and start Vine-ing the next time she goes gaga, with a cute caption, like “Patsy’s waiter is having a bad day haha!”

But you said she’s your best friend, and that ought to mean something.

Try meeting her for coffee instead of a meal. I spend enough time in Starbucks to know that however bad she is, baristas have seen worse.

Besides, once you both have your beverages and snacks, you’ll be on your own. Let’s just hope that without another target, she doesn’t start to yell at you. If she does, then yes, it’s break-up time and you have Auntie’s condolences for your loss.

Who knows? You might even meet a new friend while you’re in Starbucks.

Send your questions to and for other restaurant-related Ask Auntie letters see the following:

Monday, October 21, 2013

Midnight Callers

I’m what used to be called a “night owl” because I stay up later than I should at night. I come by it honestly. My mother doesn’t sleep at night either. Maybe it’s genetic. Then again, maybe it’s not, because my father was a morning person. I used to say it’s a miracle I was ever born, but Robert is a morning person so I’ve since figured out how that works, but never mind.


This is only sort of about night-owlism and really about the days when phones had cords that attached them to the wall and us to them.

Because of the whole night-owl thing, whenever someone I knew ended up awake in the wee hours -- even if it was someone I didn’t know well or just not well enough for them to call me mid-afternoon, let alone late at night -- I’d get a call.

The drunken ones have their own category. You know what I mean. Like the stuffy conservative guy who after ten years of acquaintanceship suddenly (but unsurprisingly) insisted I refer to him by a female pronoun, or the girl who had tried to seduce my then-boyfriend but was horrified when he hit on her after we broke up and she wanted to complain to me about it. There were many, many others.

In tequila veritas and all that.

Back in ye olden times, I couldn’t wander around and do other stuff while they ranted. The phone was on a cord. Even if it was a (relatively) long cord, I had to sit there or hang up.

Guess what! People who are so drunk that they aren’t in control of what they’re saying will still remember if you hustle them off the phone. I learned that the hard way.

However, sometimes the calls were real. Friends or acquaintances needed to talk and they knew I probably would. Much bonding occurred in those reckless hours when all filters are gone. Yes, even if no one had been drinking anything stronger than Tab™.

Auntie drank a lot of Tab™, but I doubt I’d’ve slept much anyhow.

I’ll let you morning people in on a secret: there’s a kind of magic that happens late at night. Things become more real. Clarity appears when traffic dies down and nobody else is moving around.

You know, like right now.

Don’t be fooled by the time stamp whenever I actually post this. I’m typing to you hours after a sensible person would be tucked away all warm and nighty-night.

Also, I’m doing it as chained to my desk as I used to be to those old rotary-dial phones. Auntie doesn’t use a laptop or a tablet. (Try not to look surprised.) I like my desktop computer with the nice big monitor that I can see without glasses.

In the old days, after the late night confessionals, when I’d run into those people with whom I’d bonded, things would jump one of two ways: the connection would either stick, or it wouldn’t. Sometimes they would regret their midnight vulnerability, or be embarrassed by it.

And that’s why, no matter how much I write with the exhilarating freedom of darkness, I always edit in unforgiving daylight.

Nighty-night now.

Friday, October 18, 2013

If Guts Could Talk

My mother has a saying, “If in doubt, don’t.” It’s a very good saying.

The whole concept of trusting your gut has a history in American culture, one that reached its heyday in gritty noir fiction with noble taciturn detectives who can somehow sense the truth amidst a seedy morass of narratively complicated lies.

Oh, and on NCIS. There too.

While it’s a very good saying, it’s not always a good idea.

Sometimes our guts tell us things we only want to be true in the exact same tone that they use for real instinct. If guts could speak. It’s a metaphor, dammit. Come on.

Work with me here.

Of course Auntie was just misled by her gut, otherwise this post would be about something completely different. I ran with what I wanted to be true. It wasn’t. The damage control is done, so now I can focus on helping all you darlings avoid my mistakes.

Auntie spends a lot of time trying to help you avoid my mistakes, though apparently not the grammatical ones.


Where were we? Oh yeah. Instinct.

If you’ve been paying attention to whatever is going on around you, your subconscious will do the algebra of applying your values and (possibly variable) inclinations to your immediate and long-term goals and give you a nudge toward how you should act. We call that instinct, when we think about it at all.

As a system, it has its ups and downs.

We tend to jump faster toward what we want to than what we ought to, no matter how loudly our better natures shout at us not to get fries with that.

Which pedal do you hit on a yellow light? That’s usually determined by instinct.

When you’re having a conversation and you need to respond, do you make a joke or take it seriously? It all depends.

I guess it always all depends.

Like right now my instinct is to make an adult-diaper joke. But I doubt I could make a new one. “If in doubt, don’t.”

Trusting my gut this time, so I won’t.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Can You Keep A Secret?

Did I ever tell you I went to massage school? It was in 1992. I learned quite a bit about anatomy and kinesthetics. Arguably more importantly -- but definitely more unexpectedly -- I learned how to keep a secret.

Let me back up. I was doing Kung Fu at the time. The Sifu used to make everyone learn healing arts commensurate with our newfound ability to do damage. (Harmony, balance, blah blah etc)

It’s a measure of how much I sucked at Kung Fu that massage school was considered sufficient.

Anyhow, I went. The physiology was real, and difficult. I memorized the Latin names of almost every muscle, learned origin and attachment points and generally gave myself the basis for becoming a kick-ass bodybuilding trainer, which of course wasn’t why I was there. But I digress.

This is about secrets.

In massage school, every class started with all 30 of us standing in a circle. We held hands. We said Om.


What sucked worse was when the hippie-dippy one of the three instructors would have us go around the circle and Share. Sure, she was a New Age acolyte, but she was also a demon bitch on wheels to anyone who hadn’t drunk the organic agave-sweetened Kool-Aid™.

Auntie doesn’t do Kool-Aid™. And despite all evidence to the contrary, Auntie doesn’t Share.

However, in all fairness, I had committed to the program. I had to speak when it was my turn, and do it in good faith with genuine sincerity. Anything less would have been both disingenuous and hypocritical.

Over the months of the class, I learned how to keep my secrets when all around me were losing theirs. It hasn’t been quite as useful as all the physiology, but it’s still a good skill to have.

How, you ask? Simple.

All I had to do was respond to whatever one of the previous students had shared. Since they were throwing some serious trauma and emotion around, there was a smorgasbord from which to choose. I could commiserate, or offer validation or support. I used my minutes to say anything that seemed appropriate – about one of them.

No, that wasn’t hypocritical. The whole point to the Sharing was to speak truth to the room. I did that. I just chose my truth, and kept my secrets.

Well, I kept them until the Internet came around and I started to blog.

Would anyone like to try some of my ironic karma-sweetened Kool-Aid™?


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Jung & The Restless

The important thing is that Jonah was fine.

See, I’d already battled the demon horde in the Ralph’s (known on the east coast as Kroger’s) parking lot, rescued my dog and substituted a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig for the sacrifice that presaged the End of All Existence.

Before you pot-bellied pig supporters get all up in my face, you should know that this was a dream I had last night.

Yeah, the demon horde in the supermarket parking lot was a bit of a giveaway, but I just got back from the actual Ralph’s, and my subconscious wasn’t too far off, so I figured I ought to spell it out.

D.r.e.a.m. Haha! I cracked myself up again.

Wait! Don’t go. That’s not the weird part or the funny part. The weird part is what makes this a story.

So in the dream I was up til sunrise battling the forces of evil and suddenly I was home, looking out my open front door. (Jonah was asleep on the couch. Being rescued is apparently as tiring as barking at the mailcarrier.)

A man in a gorilla costume but without the gorilla head was walking down the sidewalk leading two cows on a rope. That’s still not the weird part.

The weird part is that he was also playing the banjo and it sounded ethereally beautiful.

In my dream, a banjo sounded not just beautiful, but ethereally beautiful.

I told you it was weird.

It went on, but nothing hit that level of strangeness so I’ll spare you the rest.

Wait! I promised you a funny part, so I will tell you one more bit. After I shouted “Good morning!” at the cow-leading gorilla-suit wearing banjo player, he looked at me like I was the crazy one.


It’s a good thing I don’t believe in dream interpretation or I’d grab a Ouija board and call C.G. Jung.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mirror, Mirror On The Blog

Feedback is good. I like feedback. I should say: I like it up to a point.

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about all that psychobabble mirroring feedback where you imitate the phrasing or physical gestures of the person across from you. That kind of thing irritates the hell out of me when I notice it. It’s probably irritating the rest of the time too. I just don’t realize that’s why I’m irritated.

Of course I mean the good kind of feedback, the “uh huh” kind, wherein you or I acknowledge what the other one is saying. I like that, and if you’re honest, you’ll say you like it too. It’s better than most of the alternatives.

That said, feedback recently messed up this blog.

It’s been ten days since my last post.

“Ten days isn’t that long in the blogosphere” I was just told. While I’m happy to stipulate that, Auntie doesn’t go for ten days without posting, not without a good reason.

Feedback is not a good reason.

A few of you have been kind enough to give real life feedback. By voice. To my face. You’ve not only said that you read Scarycookies, but you’ve cited enough that I know you really have. Uh oh.

Now the pressure is on.

As honored as I am, it’s both humbling and intimidating. You’ve proven that whatever I say isn’t just being scrolled over by faceless servers in Latvia. (A dozen in Latvia and four in Poland, thank you metrics.)

A couple of people (ironically not the ones who said they read this) have told me they want to start blogging, because they have something to say to the World. My advice was to write for themselves. I think of a blog like those little vinyl-covered diaries with the broken locks I used to get as a tween.

Aside from the fact that this is more legible, the point is valid. It’s a truism that nobody reads blogs anymore. Or it was.

Now I know some of you do.

Now I want to be sure whatever I say is, if not significant, at least entertaining.

Strike that. Reverse it.

Worse, I find myself wanting to do the digital equivalent of checking my fly.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Karma Comedian

Robert is a loveable guy. If you’ve met him, you know that. But this Buddha has got a temper. Viz.:

Once upon a time, we were waiting for some take out food to be ready. Another customer (snotty stockbroker type, though he could have been anything) was particularly venally rude to us. Robert lost it. I barely managed to rein him in, but got him to promise to “be nice”, which, in the end, he was.

As we walked out past the asshole, Robert grinned at him and said, “I hope you don’t choke on your food.” Trust me, for him in a snit, that was jovial.

I’ll spare you the second example. It’s longer. He wasn’t “nice” that time. Ask me and I’ll tell you, though. It’s a good story.

Fast forward, past a full year of him performing at Danger Room, and even more comedy, and we end up in the Costco parking lot, this morning.

A brand new Escalade had exited one of the coveted spots near the entrance. Robert pointed and I turned accordingly.

Unfortunately, the guy driving the Escalade didn’t know how.

He was on the left side of the lane, nose to nose with me.

Oh, I probably would have backed up -- even though he was in the wrong -- except that he made a rude hand gesture at me. So I sat back to wait him out.

Never bet against your old Auntie in a macho showdown.

But I didn’t factor in Buddha Bob the Improv God. (Hyperbolic, but I like it. It stays in, dammit.)

Guess who popped out of the car and began to “reason” with the macho idiot?

I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take pix. The more red and puffy the guy got, the happier Robert danced. Oh yeah, he was dancing. In the parking lot. AT COSTCO! I chose not to listen, only to watch it as a Buster Keaton romp.

But what happened, you ask?

Eventually the Escalade got out of our way. The Costco security guy came over, introduced himself, shook Robert’s hand and thanked him profusely. A good laugh was had by all.

And I got an even better parking space than the one the Escalade had vacated.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why People Hate L.A.

I get it. I really do.

It’s not the superficiality, the expense or the general ridiculousness.

It’s the parking.

Rather, it’s the increasing choice between either a beleaguered valet or snaking for a mile up and down the grid before going back to the beleaguered valet.

And that’s at lunchtime.

Stipulated, parking is the reason why we locals hate L.A. Let’s talk about the rest of you.

This morning I skipped the gym again. (Stop nagging! I’ll go back eventually.) We went into West Hollywood to hang out til lunchtime. It’s okay, we got there just after 10:00 a.m. so there was plenty of parking. People are still doing their hair at that hour.

So we’re sitting at the coffee-and-yummy place, at a cute little table in the cute little window. Two customers came to the door. That’s what actually happened. What I saw was a set of exposed and stunningly perfect (female) abs just below my eye level, ironically just above my plate of croissant and pie.

You know when you see Los Angeles on TV, how all the women in the background are in their 20s and gorgeous? That part is true.


Now for the rest of the stereotype: Behind me were two girls speaking in the squealy cadences first made famous by Moon Zappa back in the 70s. One of them was complaining that she couldn’t go to the thing this weekend because she has to babysit. I didn’t think twice about them not being in school because frankly, at what I assumed their age to be, I spent my share of school mornings having coffee elsewhere.

Then I saw them. They were in their 30s… at the very least.


For your amusement, the face on top of the aforementioned perfect abs was also stunningly perfect and as devoid of makeup as it was of expression. She kept stroking her male companion’s face, which was actually pretty funny because this was a terrific bakery (see previous re pie and croissant) and he was trying to eat his treat.

This just goes to show the truth of the old quote, “No matter how beautiful, rich or famous a person is, there’s somebody out there who is sick of taking their shit.”

As much as I love it here, that sums up the City of Angels nicely.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Serendipity Doo Dah

They say things come in threes. Granted, they don’t say that about ordinary things. You don’t take out the trash three times in a row.

Speaking of which, I should get to that. Nah, it can wait. I’m typing right now.

Where was I? Right. “Three” is for weirdness, or extremity, otherwise we wouldn’t notice, let alone start counting.

No, celebrities aren’t dying. This is about Facebook.

Twice in the last week, I’ve been contacted by someone I haven’t seen for decades. Both times it was the daughter of a friend of my mother’s. These are women with whom I hung out when we were kidlings and pretty much haven’t seen since the 1970s. The early 1970s.

Oh, I’m not complaining in the least. What I am doing is waiting. That doesn’t scan, but you know what I mean.

It’s about the threes.

I live by the Comedic Law Of Three. I only put one example in the opening to this post, and that’s making my brain itch, but I forgot to post last week and morning coffee only goes so far. Apparently, this morning’s coffee will only extend as far as a kicky title.

Where was I again? Oh yeah. Weirdness.

Think about it. Having one person pop up out of the past isn’t weird. That’s what Facebook is for. But when two people pop up in such chronological proximity, and with such a bizarrely specific similarity, I find myself holding my metaphoric breath.



and… who’s next?

Where are you, the girl who invited everyone else in the class to her birthday party? (True story) It won’t be my sadistic orthodontist or sleazy first gynecologist. Uh oh, what if it’s someone from… (horrific gasp) summer camp?!

Just because these two went well doesn't mean the next one will. Fingers crossed while I knock on wood.

With all due respect to every English teacher I ever had who went on about Latin roots and vocabulary, there is nothing serene about serendipity.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

... And Stuff It!

Halloween decorations are going up in my neighborhood. You know what that means, right?

Yep, you guessed it! It’s time for Auntie to finish planning the Thanksgiving menu. I say “finish” because I begin to build it around May or June. At the moment, it begins with wild mushroom soup and ends with pecan pie, or maybe cherry. Unless I attempt a meringue. I’m not trying to make a perfect meal, I just want to make the best meal of the year.

Besides, I always identify with the mastermind. It’s a control freak thing.

All of which reminds me of a funny honest-to-real story about the very first Thanksgiving dinner I ever cooked.

This was in another century, in another town, in what amounts to another life.

Once upon a time, Auntie was very new to the whole cooking thing. Moreover, it was my first time feeding my extended family. I wanted to do it right. I baked the cornbread for the cornbread & sausage stuffing and went to the best French bakery I knew to get sourdough for the oyster stuffing. I studied how to cook turkeys. I made delicious hors d’oeuvres. I did end up buying the pies, though I make my own now.

You get the idea.

Of course the garbage disposal broke when I began to cook at 6:00 a.m., but that’s not the funny part. Okay, it’s kinda funny. I invited the plumber to dinner but he declined.

I’ll spare you embarrassing family-member stories. You have your own and they’re probably about the same.

In the end, dinner went about as well as can be expected. (See above about embarrassing family members.) The food came out fine. Everyone ate a lot and seemed to like it.

I really should have left it at that. Of course I didn’t. Remember, I was a typically needy 20-something at the time.

So the next day I asked my father what he thought of the meal. He’d eaten so much he couldn’t sit up and had to sack out on the couch. I thought priming him for a compliment wasn’t that much of a gamble.

I thought wrong.

He told me if I ever tried it again, I should get my grandmother’s recipe for stuffing.

That was all he said on the subject.

Years went by. Eventually, when I did decide to try it all again, I dutifully asked my grandmother for her stuffing recipe. I’ll give it to you right now, in its entirety:

Mrs. Cubbison’s. Sometimes with a bit of chopped carrot.

FYI, that’s the funny part.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Your Bad

Sorry, what? Oh, sorry. Sorry about that. I said I was sorry! I’m apologizing too much? Sorry for that too.

Hee hee. Want to guess what I’m going to talk about today, my honeys?

Surprise! I want to talk about how little apologies really accomplish.

Personally, I hate apologies. Not because they’re fatuous, which they usually are, but because once I get one, I’m supposed to forget that I was ever inconvenienced, offended, hurt and/or all of the above.

Yeah, good luck with that.

I recently had a very dear friend completely & royally screw me over through no fault of his own. (Okay, he could have avoided it and spared my feelings, but he either wasn’t smart enough or brave enough.) Shit happens. He’s still my friend.

Here’s the thing, I got a perfunctory and obligatory “Sorry” in the moment and not one word since.

See what I mean about apologies? I think I’m not supposed to be hurt anymore.

See above, re: good luck with that.

Today’s lesson, my darlings, is how to avoid making people feel the way I feel right now. Sit up, lean forward and pay attention. Auntie’s gonna tell you how to make an otherwise fatuous apology stick.

Put down your hand, you in the front. Of course you have to mean it. You get no points for that.

Maybe the only thing you regret is that things got out of hand. That's fine. You’re honestly sorry you have to deal with a mess. Minimal requirement met.

You still have to make it right.

If you want things to get better, you have to do something about it. The apology just acknowledges that something went wrong on your watch. Big whup. Heroics start when you change your behavior to fix it, or at least to prevent it from happening again.

Yes, you have to get off your ass. Yes, even if you think it wasn’t your fault or if there wasn’t anything else you could have done. Guess what! Almost always, there really was something you could have done.

If you ended up feeling sorry or guilty, just bite down and accept the fact that had you been paying better attention, things wouldn't have gotten so bad.

Then put on your grown-up pants and deal with it.

Exemptions include, amongst others: The neurotic arrogance that makes everything everywhere about you even when it wasn’t, and the corollary, when you’re dealing with an arrogant neurotic who makes everything about them even when it isn’t.

Have I gone on too long? Oops, my bad. Sorry.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

"A" Is For Satisfactory

Let’s talk about satisfaction.

Being satisfied is good. (Get your mind out of the gutter, you naughty-pants!) If you’re a Nero Wolfe fan, you know that “satisfactory” is his highest praise.

If you’re not a Nero Wolfe fan, get on Amazon for the Rex Stout books and whatever you use for television for the excellent Tim Hutton TV version. If you’re not a Nero Wolfe fan after that, well, then you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

Mr. Wolfe may consider “satisfactory” valuable enough, but thanks to our public school system the rest of us now equate satisfaction with mediocrity.

“Mediocre” is okay, if that’s the best you can hope for. For which you can hope. You know. Sorry, ghost of Mrs. Jorgensen, but AP English was a looong time ago.

Anyhow, mediocrity is rarely satisfying.

Satisfaction is an end in itself. It’s contentment-making. It is a happy, restful thing.

Again with the naughty? Stop that.

Satisfaction is a worthy goal. It goes beyond mere adequacy. We shouldn’t be afraid to use the word, and we shouldn’t feel disrespected when it’s used on us. So often we do, though.

No one hopes to get a C.

Unless you expected a D, in which case see above about reading blogs.

We satisfy curiosity. We satisfy hunger. We satisfy a need. Okay, yeah, all of which can take us back to nasty-ville, but Auntie won’t let it.

In fact, I won’t let it take us anywhere. I’m satisfied that I made my point.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Fish Head Fish Head

It’s another date-night dinner story, but trust me. This is a good’un.

There were three fish dishes on the menu and a fish special. You know how much Auntie loves her fish. I eliminated the one that was served whole, and then ordered pretty much at random.

The waiter brought me Finding Nemo’s bigger cousin. In his fishy entirety. The expression on his not-small face was pretty much what you’d expect after it’d been kidnapped and flash fried.

After quickly turning the plate so Cousin Nemo couldn’t see me, I gave Robert a piteous look. He said to the two hovering waiters, “Would you please ask the chef to decapitate that for her?”

The waiters shared a frustrated glance and refused.

“We can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because the chef just won’t do it. We’ve asked him before. He won’t.”

So my lovely, valiant, stalwart Robert reached out a massive hand and pulled Cousin Nemo’s head right off his fishy body!

Bam! Pow! Splat!

Okay, there was no noise, but there should have been.

The two waiters and I just stared.

Robert stood up. “I’ll just take this into the kitchen and give it to him myself then.”

Obviously, he didn’t. They stopped him. They grabbed Robert’s bread plate and whisked Cousin Nemo’s head away. I was left staring at what looked to me like a headless corpse. Robert was left staring at his entrée because his knife and fork had been on the bread plate.

When the waiter brought Robert new cutlery, he also brought me a new entrée. Turns out Cousin Nemo had been destined for another table. My real order was an expressionless (and delicious) rectangle. Phew all around.

But what I didn’t tell you is that the chef had been on my beloved Top Chef.

The show made him look like an arrogant dick. That could be editing, but refusing to help customers remove the head from their food seems dickish to me. In his defense, apparently when the waiters told him what had happened, he laughed and said, “You should’ve let him come back here.”

I liked that and I liked his food, and, in the end, I like this story.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Skin Deep

We all know attractive people. I don’t mean people who are beautiful on the inside. I’m talking about shallow, superficial, probably genetic, good looks.

(Google inspirational blogs if you want a discussion of good deeds and purity of the soul.)

When I was your age, people used to tell me I was beautiful. I honestly never believed it, so hooray for a total lack of self-esteem! Not kidding. Think how arrogant Auntie might have been with self-esteem.

Eventually I started to accept that what I saw in the mirror wasn’t what showed on the outside. Coincidentally, that was about the time when “You look great!” turned into “You look fine for your age.”

Oh well. As a former (male) ingénue friend of mine says, “It’s better than no love at all.”

Relax. I’m not going to whine about Time and Inevitability any more than I would whine about traffic. What is, is, and what isn’t, sure as hell will be. Sack up now, sunshine. You’ll see.

Instead, I want to talk about how we defer to beauty. It’s okay, I do it too.

Of course people defer to wealth and power no matter how much we may bitch about both. But other than the most unlikely fantasy fulfillment, there is no expectation of reward from mere beauty. Like the rich and powerful, they’re not nicer, more generous or even more polite.

Unless they’re smart, in which case yes, they’re all that and then some because they know they’re memorable. Stupid pretty people aren’t afraid of karma. I’d say pity them, but we’re not gonna.

We’re still going to watch them when we’re out and about. They’ll be served first in restaurants and helped first in stores. You’re more likely to hold a door open for one of them. By my personal tally, one of them is more likely to cut you off in traffic than one of us. You can start keeping your own score now.

The good news is that pretty people are outnumbered. They’re also outclassed by the one thing that’s even more attractive than hotness, although it’s just as much of a trope. Just like paper covers rock, a sense of humor beats perfect features and a flawless complexion any day.

We might like to look at a stunning face and yearn for that fabulous figure, but if you’re stuck on an airplane for three hours, you’re better off with someone who can keep you entertained on the tarmac.

Yeah, I know should say something funny here but I have to go. I have a sudden urge to exfoliate something.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Only In L.A.


My Yesterday In Montage

Skipped the gym (yes, again) to go out to breakfast where I ran into another gym regular (shut up, if they know me I still count as a regular.) We don’t speak in the gym, but we chatted almost-but-not-quite like pals in BeaBea’s. Shared guilt is wonderfully inclusive.

The sullen-faced teenaged girl clomping through Target wore a long sleeved, thick black hoodie with sweatpants and Uggs --- in 90 degree heat! Maybe it’s because the store is air conditioned, but that doesn’t explain how she got through the parking lot dressed like that.

Drivers honestly believe that the most expensive car has the right of way. This works in both directions. I’m talking to you, Corolla. You had the right of way both legally and morally, yet you deferred to that pushy Beemer. Stiffen your axles and take your proper turn next time.

The guy at the vitamin store was surprised then annoyed that I don’t have a Burger King versus McDonald’s preference. He works in a vitamin store, fer chrissake. He should know by now the type of customers they get. Nuff said.

The good Improv shows (not an oxymoron, you snarky devil) all happen late at night. Hollywood Boulevard, late on a Monday night, is still replete with local character(s), an occasional tourist, and the ubiquitous scent of urine.

The theater or club, or whatever you want to call the place where Robert was performing, has a full bar. Thus, they card everyone on the way in. I’ve seen a few shows there and had to drag out my antediluvian driver’s license every time. Not tonight. The bouncer/gatekeeper/sentinel checked everyone else – everyone! – but my wrist was stamped without a second glance. Even the only guy who is older than I am had to show his i.d.. Grr.

After the show, in homage to high schools everywhere, we all stood around outside talking like cool kids. Remember, this is right on Hollywood Blvd, at around midnight. Some poor shlub was walking slowly west, surrounded by four or five people with various types of sound and camera equipment. Eventually the sad, straggling, scruffy micro-circus came back the other way. Apparently the shlub is on TV, significantly enough to warrant paparazzi, but not significantly enough for them to care.

Don’t bother asking me who the shlub is. He wasn’t from Leverage or Top Chef, ergo I have no idea. I’m really trying not to be smug about that.

And then I wrote this. End montage. Good night.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Buona Sera

It’s way after midnight right now so I can’t call and tell you what happened at dinner tonight. Then again, I have no idea who you are, so I probably don’t have your phone number. Besides, I rarely phone anyone except my mother. (She doesn't text.)

Never mind, I’m writing it all down to amuse myself and because I’m buzzingly awake from the double espresso at the end of the meal.

Oops! Spoiler alert!

Nah, I’m just messing with you, though the espresso was real.

The dinner story: I was at the Italian place across from Danger Room. (DangerRoomImprov on Facebook, look'em up. Click "like") I eat there before I go to Danger Room, which means almost every Friday.

I have a regular waiter who is Italian of the both-sides-of-the-face kissing variety. It’s okay, he really is from Italy. The other waiter comes by to say hi too. He’s just as Italian, but via the Bronx. The Sicilian chef calls me “darling” because I am visibly female. They always give me these fabulous little sugar cookies that aren’t on the dessert menu. Mmm. Cookies.

But I digress. You get the point. I'm a regular.

Of course the hostess doesn’t bother giving me a menu -- not because I’ve already memorized the relevant parts (which I have) but because I don’t order anything. Food is brought to me. There is a difference.

Here’s what happens: My personal waiter verifies that I will eat whatever ingredients he has in mind, in tonight’s case, shrimp. Then he disappears. I read my book. I visit with the pleasant bussers or the hostess. Delicious food appears that may or may not be on the menu.

Tonight it was a composed arugula salad with mango chutney and grilled shrimp. I chatted with the Italy-Italian waiter about it. He spoke of the inspiration offered by special customers, and the desire to make something unique for them. I missed a lot because of his accent, but that’s the gist.

Then he disappeared and brought me some lovely lobster bisque.

While I was enjoying my soup (mmm soup!) the Bronx-Italian waiter took an order at a table behind me. He listed the day’s specials, which included – you guessed it – arugula salad with mango chutney and grilled shrimp.

Ha. Busted! It wasn’t made uniquely for moi, or however you say moi in Italian. Not that I care. It was good, I was happy, and the cookie they gave me with my espresso had apricot in it. Yay for me!

But it’s a silly little reminder to take everything with a grain of salt, and maybe some freshly ground pepper.

Just kidding. The metaphorical salt is plenty.

Ciao, belli amici!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Heavy Duty

Some of us don’t always eat right or get enough exercise. Don’t bother with a show of hands. We know who we are, and besides, I hope to get back in the gym the day after tomorrow.

It’s easy to give up on a painful, tiresome, or simply un-fun duty when we’re only hurting ourselves. It’s our choice, our price to pay, et cetera, etc.

Note: This only applies to anything boring, arduous or otherwise un-preferable. Think about it. How often do you put off good stuff? Of course you don’t. Why would you?

Procrastination is usually the path of least resistance. Avoiding responsibility is so much easier than shouldering a burden that the path of least resistance should be gridlocked by now.

Metaphorically speaking, I suppose it is.

We procrastinate when we’re lazy or tired or fed up. We procrastinate when the job/chore/obligation is difficult or uncomfortable. We procrastinate whenever we’re, well, awake.

Laziness may not always beat discipline, but bet the odds.

Those odds suddenly reverse whenever other people are involved. It’s a lot harder to be lazy when being lazy will let someone else down.

Letting people down sucks. It can even hurt. I hate doing it. So I try not to.

Like the late and much beloved Douglas Adams once said, that’s where it all falls apart, you see.

Trying to get through an entire day without disappointing anyone is like trying to get through an entire day without spending any money. It sounds a lot easier than it is.

To be fair, I’m at a disadvantage. I have a cute little dog who is disappointed by a general lack of global domination, which is somehow my fault for being stingy with the treat jar.

Duty may sound like what I pick up after the aforementioned cute little dog, and it’s a word we don’t hear much these days, but duty is still a thing.

Obviously, Auntie was never a Boy Scout. Less obviously, I was never a Girl Scout either, but somewhere along the way I picked up a sense of duty and responsibility. Maybe it was when I also picked up the responsibilities.

That said, it’s two days after I started to write this and I still haven’t been back to the gym. I did pick up after the dog, though. There are some things you just don’t procrastinate.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Matter Of Manners

This was supposed to be a tweet, but I couldn’t condense it down to 140. Gird your collective e-loins, my angels, and prepare for a rant. Here we go...

Manners are more important than intelligence.

Yes, I can count. I know that was far fewer than 140 characters, smarty pants. Read for content next time before you mouth off.

The point merits – nay, requires -- elaboration.

When I say “manners” I’m not talking about etiquette. I don’t care which fork you use on your grapefruit, or if you know the proper way to address a thank-you note to an Archbishop who is also an Earl.

I said manners and I meant manners. Also known as courtesy, politeness, or, in extreme cases (you know who you are and I adore you for it) graciousness. All of which pretty much boils down to treating people with respect. As social skills go, this reigns supreme.

But Auntie, you say, stupidity is more annoying than rudeness!

Calm down, there’s no need for exclamation marks. In theory, you’re right.

See what I did there? I treated your objection with respect by acknowledging it politely. Now I can disagree with you because you’re being an intellectual snob.

Stupid is as stupid does. As a civilization, we like us some bimbos. Goofily good-natured characters have been endearing us at least since ancient Mesopotamia. (That wacky Gilgamesh! And Enkidu! What zany nuts.)

We might forgive lost tourists who neglect to turn on a green arrow, but not if they’re texting while driving, which, aside from being rude, also happens to be against the law.

Not funny, but a rough segue to the comedic Law Of Three because I walked away from my desk and left this draft for so long I forgot where I was going with it and now I’m stuck trying to come up with one more example of stupidity versus rudeness other than a discussion of the semiotic differences between “Fuck off” and “Fuck you.”

Oh, right. Stupidity is annoying, but it’s not our problem. We take rudeness personally, so don’t be rude.

The flip side, and where all this was going before I had to go check the oven to be sure I didn’t burn everyone’s dinner, is that if you do end up doing something stupid, no matter how embarrassed you are, try to be gracious about it.

In other words, it’s better to be a nice, polite idiot than a smart-assed dick.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Belated Happy Anniversary!

Oopsies! Auntie missed a milestone. That last post was my 500th.

The first one was dated August 2nd, 2011. Let’s see. That many weeks, divided by something, subtracting posts I deleted because I decided later that they didn’t work… yeah, 500 sounds about right.

Excusez moi, mes cheris. Did you expect me to look back and discuss Wisdom Learned? Please, we’d both be bored.

Besides, I’m not sure I learned any, except that self-imposed deadlines can be as nasty as the real thing.

But, since today is August 6th, I also missed our anniversary, so double oopsies.

If any of you have been here since the beginning, then I should give you a gift. Hmm. If the 25th is silver and the 50th is gold, what’s 500?

I think I owe you a puppy.

Erratum: Turns out I was ridiculously wrong. I didn't click back far enough. This is my 501st post, but the first one was on 9/23/08. I still owe you a puppy.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Public Education

The phone rang last night. A perky young random student from my alma mater was calling to “catch up” – Really? With a total stranger? -- and incidentally solicit funds along the way.

First, it’s puzzling. I graduated in 1983, in another city. They called me once when I was still at my student phone number, but not since then. 30 years without a call. How retroactively neglectful of them.

Secondly, it’s creepy. I never gave them this number, any more than I gave them the (correct) home address they wanted me to verify.

Robert was listening to my side of the conversation. He pointed out that this phone isn’t even in my name.

Of course I explained all that to Miss Congeniality. She graciously offered to ask her supervisor how they got my info. Of course the supervisor “didn’t know.”

Universities probably don’t acknowledge the Internet. It’s a conflict of interest.

Little Missy and I had a fine old giggle over how stalker-esque it all seemed, then I got serious and pointed out that it really did. After all this time they had personal information I never gave them, nor ever authorized them to get. It’s not as bad as the guy who followed me around when I was 20, but it still sounds like stalking to me.

She was smart enough to agree, but she still asked for a donation.

I suppose I ought to have been grateful that she got any of what I was saying. Her generation (which is your generation too, sweetie) has no expectation of privacy, after all. You guys know about the Internet. My generation only uses it to propagate pix of their grandchildren. That, and troll eBay.

For the record, I have no children, let alone grandchildren, and I’ve never been on eBay.

She expected me to want to update my file. Was I supposed to be flattered that someone cared if I ever monetized my Philosophy major? That’s a philosophical question. Give me a quarter and the answer will be yes.

Then again, please don’t. They’ll just want the quarter.

In closing, she said, “We still don’t have an email address for you.”

Even though she couldn’t see it, I smiled gently before I answered, “Let’s keep it that way.”

I’m checking my inbox anyhow, just in case.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

GG Whiz

Last week, a gent of my acquaintance turned to me and said “Pardon my language” before he used the word “boob”. Seriously, he really did.

To be fair, he is a gent. It was a hot LA night and his stylish (long-sleeved!) black button-down shirt was pristine. Everyone else was raining sweat. He made the outdoor parking lot look air-conditioned.

But I digress.

I was going to talk about boobs, and not just to confuse the search engines and rack up the hits.

Hehehehe, I said “rack”. Ahem.

In case we haven’t actually met, I have a rack appropriate to the pre-Soviet Russian peasant matriarchy whence I descended. My role model growing up was Carol Wayne in “Love, American Style”. I don’t laugh at Dolly Parton jokes because I don’t get the humor in stating the obvious.

Ok, that was a joke. The obvious is usually pretty damn funny.

And, since we’re talking about boobs, knockers, breastage – for once I’m not digressing. It doesn’t get more obvious than a good-sized pair.

Before you think I’m bragging about mine, I’m not. Along with the chichis, I also inherited arm wings that make Dumbo look aeronautically challenged. This is in spite of 30 years as a disciplined gym rat.

The genetics cancel out, believe me.

Take this afternoon. We had a visit with my charming and terrific younger cousin and his exceptionally lovely young wife and kids. She (the exceptionally lovely wife) and I were both wearing sleeveless tops. Of course we were. It’s July in California. It’s warm outside.

But I also had my lightest overshirt on, to cover my flappy flaps. My beautiful cousin-in-law got to be comfortable.

For contrast, I spent the later part of the evening with an also-lovely friend my own age. I don’t think you’ll be surprised that the conversation touched on arm flaps and other merry vicissitudes of Time.

This is where Auntie is supposed to sound all wise and talk about how everything balances out eventually. You know, karma. Harmony. Homeostasis. That kind of thing.

Who knows? It might even be true.

But if there’s an upside to menopausal arm flab, I sure haven’t found it yet.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Trashed Talk

Warning: Auntie is cranky today. You might want to move the screen a little farther from your face. You know, just in case I spit or something.

Once again, someone Asked Auntie in real life for advice, and as soon as I began to answer, their eyes glazed over and I could practically hear their ears slam shut.

Don’t get me wrong, I kept going. Ask Jonah how often I talk without an audience. He doesn’t listen to me either unless I use the words “num”, “nummy” or “num num”.

Adorable little dogs with better things to do notwithstanding, nobody likes to be ignored.

Nobody likes to be bored either. I can’t help you with that.

However, in the spirit of bimbos and etiquette advisers throughout history, I can teach you how not to be rude. You just have to fake attention, at least when you're talking to me.

The symptoms to watch out for (and not let me see) are as follows: First your mouth droops. Then your eyes dart away. All your replies begin with the word “but”. You know, like you’re doing right now.

Don’t do any of that.

Eyes forward. If a smile isn’t appropriate, at least don’t sneer. And if you can say something that sounds like you understood what I meant, you’re golden.

Remember, attention simulates respect. That’s enough for me. I don’t need you to fake sincerity (like the old joke says, if you can fake that…) Just let me think you’re listening.

For the record, I never require that somebody take my advice. You’re free to discard it completely.

But whatever you do, don’t ignore it. Look at why I said what I said. At least pretend to consider it for a minute.

If you disagree, which you’re perfectly entitled and even welcome to do, well, bless your little mistaken heart. Do what you wanted to do in the first place and then come see me after.

I promise to look concerned about damage control.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Esteem Cleaning

Say you make a mistake, is your first response, “I’m an idiot”? Paraphrase however you want, we all do it.

I caught my mother doing this the other day. She said something she knew was wrong, and used “I’m so stupid” to segue into accuracy.

My mother is not stupid. She’s slowed down a bit, but come on, she’s 86. She’s still smarter than I am. Of course, being the daughter, I reacted appropriately. I yelled at her for calling herself stupid and then blamed her because I call myself stupid all the time.

That’s my job, and I take pride in doing it properly.

Now I have to yell at all of you for calling yourselves stupid, because I call myself stupid. That is a job done thoroughly.

We have to get out of this rut. We should become instant Zen masters all, and live in the moment without judging ourselves or the people around us, many of whom are idiots.

Strike that.


Let me start over.

You are not stupid. You made a silly mistake, that’s all. It doesn’t make you a silly person, or a bad one. It takes a much bigger mistake to do that. This was nothing.

We need to feed that monster of the 1990s, self-esteem. You remember self-esteem. We need to give ourselves trophies for showing up and participating at all. With patience, tolerance and humor we need to forgive our lapses.

Not to mention, forgive those who lapse against us when they sound stupid.

Oops. Om.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Concession Stand

In the last few weeks I’ve watched a few couples around us fall apart for a variety of reasons, many of which don’t apply to this discussion. It’s sad, but there’s nothing anyone outside the bedroom can do to help.

Of course Auntie still wants to help, so I’m going to give you the best relationship wisdom I’ve ever run across.

Remember the second “Newhart” show? Peter Scolari had a brilliant line in that one. Referring to how they solved problems in his relationship, he said they “count the really’s.”

I loved that. I kept it since then. We live by it. It means that if one person really wants Thai but the other really really wants pizza, we go to the Italian restaurant. Or maybe we get both to go and eat at home.

You get the idea.

There’s something that needs pointing out and elucidating, to wit:

“Compromise” does NOT mean “concession”.

Don’t say duh, and don’t skim past this. It’s bigger than you realize. Both compromise and concession have value in a relationship, but they’re not the same thing at all.

Compromise means neither person gets their own way. Everyone has to give up something, not necessarily in equal measure, but they each have to ante into the relationship kitty.

It works when both people are willing to make an effort, to change or even forfeit something they wanted because they value the other person (or the relationship) more than their own stuff.

Ok, that’s compromise. Let’s move on to the other thing.

Concession works on basically the same principle (i.e. that the relationship or other person is more important than either individual’s wants) but concession means one person pays the whole tab.

It has to be given freely or it’s not concession, it’s a problem bigger than a blog post.

Auntie really really really wants you to be happy. So please stand up for yourself when it matters and concede graciously when it doesn’t. I wish you the wisdom to tell the difference.

Now let’s get some pizza, unless you really want Thai. I’m fine with that too.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Dinosaur Daze

True story:

After reading (ok, ok, skimming) three newspapers this morning…

I wrote a letter with a pen (Ballpoint! On paper!) Which then went into an envelope! Stamped with a newfangled (sic) adhesive postage stamp!…

Then I hopped onto AOL (yes, really, AOL!) to tweet.

Apparently the rumors are true; there is an exodus of cool kids from Twitter. A friend of a friend is shutting hers down. She is what would have been called “totally cool” back in my day, so Q.E.D.

It’s only fair, I suppose. There is balance in the universe, and my gym has been overrun with irritating ersatz coolness. I guess it had to go somewhere.

Well, this dinosaur isn’t gonna budge. (See above about AOL for proof.) Do your cool-hunting elsewhere. Oh, wait, nobody says that anymore either. Feh.

I will tweet into my dotage, probably about the crazy assholes at the same gym. Let’s face it, they say nobody reads blogs anymore, and you’re reading this. (Thank you, you darling young person! Hug!)

And now I have to take my letter to a real honest-to-god (IRL) mailbox.

Back in a jiffy, probably before you can Google “jiffy”. Hint: Like me, it’s practically been around since the Mesozoic.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Everybody is good at something. I really believe that. I do. Even that useless dickface where you work is good at something, but it’s probably something annoying.

Hey, I didn’t promise we’d all be good at something good. This post was born when I realized that I’m really good at chitchat.

No, that’s not some prudish Internet euphemism. It used to be called “small talk” or “light conversation”. You might not know what that is -- at least a lot of people out there don’t -- because of, well, the Internet.

Once upon a time, people would speak to each other in gracious generalities instead of stating a series of facts (a la Facebook) or snark (as per Twitter). Traditionally, most of these comments revolved around the weather, but that wasn’t mandatory.

You know when you’re standing in a long line for what seems like forever and after a while you kinda-sorta temporarily bond with the person next to you? Well, I can talk pleasantly about meaningless yet mildly amusing nothings to pass the time so we don’t get all worked up and irritated by having to wait.

That’s small talk.

As superpowers go, it’s one step up from telepathy with fish. All right, all right. It’s half a step up. Geez, some people are so picky.

What are you good at? Nobody does macramé anymore, and I refuse to demean all of us with a scrap-booking joke. Philately, anyone? Or can you fold a fitted sheet?

After my remarkable performance Saturday morning (see Twitter, @scarycookies July 6th) I’d say I’m also good at parallel parking, but it only works if the mojo is right so I won’t be vainglorious here.

Oh! I know! I do have another skill. Even if it’s not a Thai, Chinese or other family-style restaurant, I can craft a perfectly harmonious shared meal for up to four people from just about any menu. Yes, with some meat even though I’m mostly vegetarian and won’t eat it. Again with the picky-pickiness. Give me a break.

So when you’re beating up on yourself for not being able to do something well enough, you picky darling, give yourself a break. Remember that you’re really good at something else.

Yes, you are.

But if the thing you’re really good at is folding fitted sheets, keep your mouth shut. I’m talking to you, @rmangaha. Nobody likes a vainglorious superhero.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Laundry In De Nile

Does this sound familiar? You make excuses not to do a thing you ought to do, the obligation/onus/problem festers and grows, and then you want to do it even less.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan of denial. It’s amazing how much stuff you can ignore until it goes away or doesn’t matter anymore. So there are a few pairs of dirty socks tossed in the corner. Big deal. That’s what flip flops are for.

Denial, to put it in what I’ve been told is a passé idiom, rocks.

I’ve always called this kind of thing my “Laundry Theory of Life” – but that doesn’t mean what it used to mean when I made it up.

Once upon a time, back when I only thought I was cynical, I referred to some problems as being like laundry in that you could kick laundry away and ignore it. (This was even before the joke about denial being a river in Egypt. That’s how long ago it was.)

None of this is Bukowski-level social commentary. Moreover, in the long run it’s not even true. When you’re out of clean shirts and you have a big date or interview coming up, then what?

Like with most of our real problems, we may think we can avoid laundry, but one way or the other, ultimately we have to deal with it.

Self-delusion may be traditional simile-fodder, but I want more than that. Besides, those wet towels are getting kind of funky.

Thus, for a while, “laundry theory” applied to stuff you think you can ignore but you really can’t, because you’re going to have a sudden urgent need for whatever is wadded up and buried at the very bottom of the heap.

This didn’t last either.

Now “laundry theory” is back to meaning something you can ignore, because if you wait long enough, that stinky fabric compost pile might evolve into a creature that can walk or ooze itself into the shower.

Now, that’s cynicism, folks.

Sigh. Time to go check the dryer.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Nightmare On My Street

I have a book called “100 Dreams Interpreted”. Before you go all judgmental, I also have a book called “100 Great Operas”.

Now you can go all judgmental.

Both books were gifts, separated by a couple of decades. The opera book was enormously helpful in teaching me to enjoy opera (which, in the end, I really did, just not enough to go on my own dime now.)

The dream interpretation book, however, was only, purely and completely silly. Don’t tell the person who proselytized it to me in the 80s, but it was.

Crawl with me out onto an ideological limb here: I don’t think dreams mean a damn thing.

I think dreams are random images vomited out by our unconscious minds like Dorothy’s house from the tornado.

Really, I do. And I can prove it.

Hot weather gives me nightmares. So do so many other things that I can’t make a joke here because I’m paralyzed by choice, but hot weather is one of them. My nightmares are the same as yours, surrealistic, often disturbing and largely ridiculous.

Last night’s was a doozy, with extra dollops of ridiculous and disturbing.

When I woke up, I remembered that I have that dream interpretation book around here somewhere. I also remembered the dream quite clearly.


Instead of looking for the book to pathologize the Inner Meaning Of It All…

I let out a small sigh of relief that it meant nothing and went to brush my teeth, thus proving that I don’t believe in it. So if it turns out that dreams really do have a scrap of import and/or portent, don’t tell me.

That’d be a spoiler in case I ever read the book.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hooray For Hollywood!

Hollywood can be a massively foolish place, mostly because of the actors. I know whereof I speak. I was born here. (The hospital is now a Scientology center. Roll your eyes if you want to.) Ergo, I’ve been around actors my whole life.

I was on TV a lot too, but as a kid. (Raise your hand if you remember the Hobo Kelly Show! Yeah, yeah, I know. Before your time. Never mind.)

Where was I? Oh, right. Actors. They say the darnedest things.

Take last Friday night, f’rinstance. I was standing outside of Danger Room (check them out on Facebook) when I heard somebody say:

“I know you’ve lost weight, but that doesn’t make you a real actor.”

That’s verbatim. I jotted it down right away, because the tone made it glorious, it was said so very seriously.

Marcus Welby used that same tone in the Sanka commercials. (That’s a joke for the old people. Dr. Marcus Welby was a character played by Robert Young, who… oh never mind again.)

To be fair, the term “actor thin” has always had meaning here, whether or not the camera really adds ten pounds. It’s gender neutral, too. In Friday’s Improv show, one young woman lifted up her skirt and one young man removed his shirt. Equal opportunity skinny.

It was still a ridiculous thing to say, which is the point. They do that.

Every non-famous actor I’ve ever met exists on a survival spectrum between “I have to get an agent” and “I need a new agent”. I’d feel sorry for agents except I’ve disliked every one I’ve ever worked with up to now. (…as the burned bridge collapses into the Internet.)

My favorite stupid actor utterance came from an attractive young female. She was hanging all over Robert outside a theater one night. Granted, she was only doing it to cut in line, but she should’ve picked someone else. It was the one time I allowed him to introduce me as his “wife”, a term I loathe. She still didn’t budge. So I politely but explicitly told her to let go of him.

She said, and I quote, “It’s okay, we know each other.”

Believe me, one minute later she wasn’t holding on to him anymore. End of story.

Damn, I wish I had some Sanka now.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sweaty T-Shirt Context

They say context is everything. I’ve even said it myself, though in my defense, I was exaggerating to make a point.

Sure, context is important. However, it’s not everything.

If you doubt me, remember how difficult it was to keep your mouth shut when somebody began a story with, “It was last Tuesday. No, the Tuesday before. Wait, I know it was last Tuesday because I had a dentist appointment later that week. Or was that the week before?”

The context doesn’t matter. I don’t care which Tuesday it was, or even if it happened on Friday. Just tell the damn story so we can get back to talking about my stuff.

One of my two favorite jokes goes like this: What’s green, hangs on a wall and whistles? A herring. Okay, it’s not green, and it would have to be nailed to a wall. And a herring doesn’t whistle. So what?

Heh. Cracks me up every time. And it requires no context at all.

This morning I actually made it to the gym for a change, as hot as it is, and I was minding my own business, keeping my grumbling for the most part inside my own skull. That’s when the stunningly gorgeous fitness model moved right in front of me. No, not quite in front, she was too polite for that. Her unreasonably perfect ass was slightly to my right.

Grumble, indeed. I glanced away, to my left, and saw an older woman (older than me if you want to be precise) also ignoring her.

That’s when the grumbling escaped my skull and I tweeted the following:

At gym. Fitness model on my right, 65 year old woman with pink dreads to my left. Help, I'm trapped in an evolution diagram!

Hm. Maybe I was wrong. Sometimes context can be everything.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Wrongs Of Passage

For some women, it’s when they transcend/descend from “Miss” to “Ma’am”. I can’t tell you how many of my friends used to get freaked out by that. I should probably mention that we were all in our 20s at the time. Kinda funny now, though.

“Ma’am” never bothered me, although when someone says “Miss” to me nowadays, I find it both disingenuous and absurd and I don’t put money in his box outside of Trader Joe’s.

But I digress.

Today I passed a benchmark I didn’t even know existed.

At Sprouts (if you don’t have them, they’re sort of a cheaper, non-snotty Whole Foods) in the vitamin section, a pleasant enough middle-aged woman came up and in a furtive, low voice, asked me what she should take “for the sweats.”*

Don’t mind me. I can sigh while you giggle.

Gray hair notwithstanding, it’s easy to forget that I’m not one of the cool kids anymore. Maybe because I didn’t start out cool. I got there on schedule; right after it stopped mattering, though I doubt it ever really did.

Still, it was nice…

… and now it’s gone.

If I have to be a mid-life authority figure, I’ll remind myself that Alice was the most likeable member of the Brady Bunch, and that no one was lovelier than Juliet Mills in “Nanny & the Professor”. You know what I’m saying, people in the appropriate demographic!

Okay, now I’m stuck for more pop culture examples. I think I’ll go finish that article about Kim Gordon in the New Yorker. She turned 60 in April.

Maybe I should’ve called this “Sonic Mid-life.”

*By the way, when I told the nice lady about wild yam cream, she said she didn’t want to use it.