Category Archives: favorite

Things to Do Before You’re 40

This morning I read a post that referred to a magazine list of things to do before you’re 40.

It’s too late for me but I was curious to see if I could find the list to see what I missed because there is nothing like assigning importance to random events and circumstances and giving them an arbitrary deadline.

I plugged the phrase into a search engine and turns out there are books and all people talking about these lists.

If you’re under 40 and have a list, I’d say get on it and go for it because once I hit 40 I was too lazy to do anything. I have to be in bed by 9pm or I’m tired for a week. A hangover lasts at least three days. A weird muscle pull can annoy me for months. If I eat too much or stuff that’s too fatty or preservative laden, I spend the night in roiling pain. It takes us a week to get organized enough to do dinner and a movie.

At this point I’m enjoying making a list of things I’m never going to do and am thrilled to avoid. I’m never going to climb a mountain, sail around on a frigate like Master and Commander, wait in line all night for anything, do space travel, observe a gnarly surgical procedure, gamble away my life savings, be on reality TV, win an Olympic medal, have a threesome (possibly negotiable) or study grizzly bears in their natural habitat. Whew. So liberating.

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The Test Kitchen

More Original Art (ha ha)This week feels like it’s gone on forever. I’m beat.

Wednesday’s NYT Dining In had my favorite food porn type of article: perfect pie crust. You’d think after reading and clipping every article of this kind I’ve ever seen I’d be the reigning gold medalist in both the single and double pie crust events. But no, I haven’t even been invited to try out for the team.

Pie lady made 5 pie crusts with various approaches to the fat part: 1 all butter, 1 all shortening and 3 with different amounts of both.

She said butter won hands down. Dang, I don’t like butter crust. (I’m appalled, too but I like what I like.) I use the all shortening method which she says is popular because it’s easier to handle. If that’s easiest I guess I’d better to stick to what I’m doing.

Don’t you think being a test cook would be a weird job?

Every time I read an article and they roasted 18 turkeys, or made 12 kinds of green bean salad or once it was bread pudding and I swear the article said they made 40 different kinds to find the perfect recipe, all I can think about is the stuff that didn’t work. Do they give it to homeless shelters? Do they take it home to their families? Who had to taste and report on 40 different kinds of bread pudding? Do they throw lots away? Are they so sick of bread pudding by the end that they have the perfect recipe for a food they never want to see again in their lives?

I hate wasting food and I remember how awful I felt tossing a huge pan of carrot cake that I’d royally screwed up. I think I forgot half the flour and it was a soupy mess that nothing could save. It made a hollow whump! when it hit the bottom of the garbage can. I didn’t make it again.

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Pamily Values

Last night after I finished my delicious dinner of leftover soup washed down with two glasses of my favorite $6.99 Trader Joes Tempranillo the phone rang and you know the best calls always come around dinner time.

It sounded like a recording except the recording asked me questions so I’m not sure if it was a robot blend or the lady was just so filled with family values that she spoke without inflection.

She identified herself as being from the Dove Foundation which I had never heard of before. Then she started with something about families, kids, and concerned parents and grandparents. I almost cut her off right there because I have no children and was anxious to be excused from the call. But I let her go on because she was talking about how don’t I think that measures for monitoring violence and adult content in entertainment aren’t doing enough? (Note: I’m totally paraphrasing here, especially in favor of my side of the story.)

No, I said.

She went on into a longer speech making statements like, “We’re not about censorship,” and “Sure parents can be doing something in the home but that’s not enough,” and “We all know Hollywood won’t make movies with our family values, don’t you think we should do something about that?”

I behaved poorly because I laughed and said, You’re crazy.

She told me her message was intended for concerned parents and grandparents and thanked me for my input.

I wish I’d had my act more together and could have stated my opinion more intelligently. If people want to get together and promote family entertainment, I have no problem with that. I have a big problem with someone calling my home and telling what to think and feel about a particular subject while making untrue statements and projecting a particular set of values on me. I’d love to write 10 more screens on this except, it’s of limited interest and my writing time for today has long expired.

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Effing Goat Trail

A week ago Sunday we went to Dillon Creek for kayaking. Just kidding. Check the link: those pictures blow my mind. I didn’t even know you could do stuff like that at Dillon Creek. We were around the campground. Here’s a link to the Forest Service website. And could someone help the Forest Service, please? That website could use a little pretty-ing up.

We went to Dillon Creek for Book Club. The book was A Woman in Berlin by Anonymous. Mom must have missed my post about how I didn’t want to read any heavy books in August and insisted I read it for book club. Turns out it’s fantastic. Hard to put down. Lots of food for thought and discussion. Really excellent not just as a book but as a piece of history.

But that’s not what this story is about.

We got there early and we decided to check out this swimming hole we’d heard about. We parked in the day use area and as we pulled in, we ran into Martha who’s married to Sonny, who’s a cousin. Or something like that. You get the idea.

Martha was also going to the swimming hole and was kind enough to point out the trail to us and off we went. As soon as I took my first step, I was concerned because I was wearing these clodhopper shoes I use for Orleans. This isn’t a good link because we weren’t there camping, we were at a big family gathering, some visiting like us and many who live there.

(ASIDE: omigod. I just put “Orleans, California” into a search engine so I could give a link to Orleans for the 3 people who might chance by this site and not know what I’m talking about and this was the first link that came up: American Singles. Classic! The second link is a splog that has to do with collection agencies. We need to improve Orleans search rankings.)

I decided not to take the trail but Martha said, “Oh, I’m sure it looks a lot harder than it is.” So I pressed on. But not because I believed her, but because she’s a relative and I knew if I wussed out that the entire town would know about it before the sun went down and for the next 40 years I would have to hear tales of Pam, the big fat ch-ch-chicken who couldn’t do the trail down to the swimming hole at Dillon Creek.

Except that the “trail” was a goat path scratched out of a vertical mountainside and covered with poison oak and a few wisps of tree root that you could hang onto for dear life as you slid down the rocks and dirt.

We were about two thirds of the way down when a friendly grey haired guy holding a beer and watching us slide down the mountain said, “That’s not the trail.”

Well, no shit. What are we going to do at that point? When we finally hit bottom you could see the actual trail, a smooth, clear path back up to the campground.

“A freeway!” Martha exclaimed when she saw it. Then she said she’d never been to that swimming hole before.

I got a scratch of poison oak on one leg and a mosquito sized patch on my foot plus a couple of dots here and there.

Lesson learned: don’t let Martha point out the trail.

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Sorry I Haven’t Been Writing But I’ve Been Cranky

I think to myself, there has got to be something to write about besides complaining about the weather, the traffic or my woes with hair care products. But I have nothing so I avoid this place.

Today I’m going to complain that both FoodDay (Oregonian) AND Dining Out (NYT) sucked mighty cheese this week. The Food section is the best part of the papers. Whenever I’m freaking out about the piles of newspaper in the dining room (generous word for what is essentially a nook between the kitchen and living room) I realize that if we got rid of the papers, I would not have my regular food section fix.

The Oregonian’s two main articles this week were on (1) cooking with kids (the kids help you cook, you don’t cook the kids) and (2) throwing together a quick meal when you happen to bump into your neighbor at the mailbox and begin visiting and decide to have them over to dinner. (Like that would ever happen to me.)

They sell the whole kids in the kitchen thing as an alternative to watching TV and go on about how the kid can learn math, science and hand-eye coordination. Who wants someone without hand-eye coordination in the kitchen? And they have helpful hints like giving the kids age-appropriate tasks. Really? You mean I shouldn’t hand Luis the electric knife and tell him to go to town on the roast chicken? Or toss Josa a blow torch and instruct her to finish off the Crème brûlée?

The “drop by” dinner article is equally educational. Either you can throw together a dinner from what you have on hand or you can’t. A recipe like smoked oyster spread is not going to save you (or really make much of a meal). The spread is made with: cream cheese, mayo, garlic, soy sauce, fresh parsley and a can of smoked oysters. There are only 2 ingredients on that list that I have on hand: garlic and soy sauce. That’s not going to get me far. Another recipe calls for a pound of bacon, another anchovy fillets. Raise your hand if these are the kinds of items you always have on hand to whip up a quick dinner for company.

Dining Out was equally worthless this week. The Minimalist, which I cut out almost every single week, was talking about some sort of tuna burger. Gross. I hate tuna. I hate how it smells. I hate how it tastes. My spouse has to turn on every fan in the house and eat quickly by the window if he wants tuna — even if I’m not around.

But the item that really had my head spinning was the article about a personal chef for babies. Yes, you read that correctly. Apparently babies are turning their noses up at those jarred baby foods and their mothers are too busy with their glamorous lives to fix something themselves, so they can get vacuum-packed and/or frozen baby foods from a personal chef. A black and white photo that accompanies the article, shows frozen lumps and tells us that designer baby food includes spices like coriander. yah-fuking-hoo Doesn’t this make you fear for the future of America? At least a little bit?

Does anyone else remember reading The Time Machine by H.G. Wells in 7th grade? It’s been awhile so my details may be a bit off but as I recall in the future world there was a race of fragile, pampered worthless “people” who floated around doing nothing and another race of big tough “people” who had to do all the work and were pissed off. Doesn’t this seem like it could be happening?

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Spelling Counts

Shortly after you cross the Interstate Bridge there is a large landscaped area that includes an outline of the state of Washington in plants. It also includes the letters ALKI in flowers.

I drive by this almost every day and for the life of me couldn’t think of what ALKI could stand for.

This morning Bob and I drove past it together and I said, “What’s ALKI?”

Bob: It’s a Ferry. There’s going to be a big celebration this year.

Me, completely agog: They’re having a celebration for a Fairy?

Bob: Yeah! A big one.

Me, still completely agog, my pea brain wheels spinning like mad trying to figure out why the state would be celebrating a big Fairy and why I’d never heard about it before. I actually said outloud: Have I just fallen into a parallel universe or are we talking about the state celebrating a Fairy?

Bob, perplexed why I’m having such a hard time with this: Yeah, it’s a really big deal. It’s like 50 years old.

Me, still agog: And we’re talking about a little creature like Tinkerbell with wings?

Bob: A Ferry Boat.

This is absolutely a true conversation. I don’t know where my head was at. I was completely sober, not hungover, although I have a lingering chest cough and hadn’t had breakfast yet.

I did a bit of research and turns out ALKI is the Washington State Motto and it roughly translates to “by and by” in the Chinook Indian language. I didn’t see anything about a Washington Ferry Vessel called ALKI but I only investigated for about 3 minutes because I’m not in the mood for a major online project right now.

I also found reference to an Alki Transportation company, an Alki Point and an Alki beach.

I found nothing about Alki the Fairy.

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Oh Mama, I’m in fear of my life from the long arm of the law

I hear a lot of Styx on the radio which doesn’t bother me as much as hearing Billy Idol or Duran Duran. Most of the time I like it. But not as much as I like hearing ELO

Styx was one of my favorite bands in high school. (Go ahead, laugh. I’ve never pretended that I have remotely hip taste in music.) I remember crying bitter tears into my pillow to the soaring keyboard melody of Babe because some random 15 year old loser guy rejected me. Or that weird dance I went to at a neighboring school where they played Renegade over and over. In the beginning slow part you’d sort of wiggle around like some goofball modern interpretive dance and slowly bend your knees until you were wiggling and squatting on the floor. Then when “The jig is up, the news is out” part started we all jumped up and started dancing.

Of all the albums in my collection, Paradise Theater is one of the few that I can distinctly remember buying and listening to for the first time.

I got it in Westlake at the record store next to the grocery store where my Mom was buying food. Those were the days when there were little record stores owned by regular people who liked music and wanted to make a living selling it and music came in big cardboard envelopes with black shiny disks inside. The disks were wrapped in paper that often including lyrics, photos or interesting information about the band. These were called: liner notes.

When I got home I took it over to Sheila McCusker’s house on Timberlane Street in Fountainwood and we peeled off the shrink wrap and put it on the entertainment system in the living room and we sat there and talked and looked at the liner notes while we listened to it.

Oh, it says that Paradise Theater came out in 1981 which makes sense because “Best of Times” was our graduating class song. I was friends with Sheila in 8th grade. Maybe I’m confused with The Grand Illusion. So much for my vivid memory.

One of the songs I heard recently was Mr. Roboto and it’s hard to believe this was ever a good idea for a song. It sounds like someone accidentally swallowed a keyboard and then shat the song out the next morning. It’s fun to say: Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto. Domo. Domo.

But the lyrics are super dumb and, like the joke about Caesar, I never understood it.

It says stuff like:

I've got a secret I've been hiding under my skin
My heart is human, my blood is boiling, my brain I.B.M.
I'm not a hero, I'm not a saviour, forget what you know
I'm just a man whose circumstances went beyond his control
<…>
I am the modren man, who hides behind a mask
So no one else can see my true identity

And then the great reveal:
The time has come at last
To throw away this mask
So everyone can see
My true identity...
I'm Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy! Kilroy!

What does that mean?

According to my guide to life wikipedia this song comes from the album Kilroy was here.. I must have moved on from Styx by then because I have no memory of this album.

According to Wikipedia: The album's storyline (set in the future) centered around a has-been rock star, living through a disguise of his own, "Mr. Roboto" (according to the album's lead-off song), and caught in a world where music itself has been outlawed.

I still don’t get it.

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What Doesn’t Belong?

Remember on Sesame Street they had this segment (probably still, sadly I’ve had no reason to watch Sesame Street since the early seventies, so I can only guess) that went “one of these things is not like the other, one of these things doesn’t belong” and then they’d show 3 blue socks and a red sock. Or for a harder one: an apple, an orange, grapes and a German Shepard.

Doesn’t the SAT have questions like that, too? Which one of these things doesn’t go in the sequence: equilateral, obtuse, isosceles, scalene or Nile, Amazon, Yangtze, Rhine?

“What doesn’t belong” is barely related to my point today, which is that people will say absolutely anything on the radio.

One of my stations does a bit during my drive home where a person will call in with an issue, say: toilet seat up or down? Then other people call in with their stories of dealing with the same issue.

Yesterday, a woman called who had hooked up with this guy who had come to her house and cleaned her carpet (In this context, not a euphemism. He actually shampooed the carpet.) but he was 10 years younger and she wanted to know what experiences women had with dating younger men. Or younger men dating older women.

So this woman phones in and starts to tell about how when she was 21, her dad, then 48 was dating a 19 year old. This is a red sock. It has nothing to do with anything.

Other radio caller goofballs: people who call in with long drawn out stories with all their personal business and lying brother-in-law and klepto Aunt who ran off with Grandma’s china and their bladder surgery complications and the tail they have growing out of the base of their spine. And callers that get all excited telling a long, detailed story that goes nowhere and has zero payoff whatsoever.

Back to the lady with her carpet cleaner – when the radio people played back the listener comments, one guy said, “If he’s a good kisser and she doesn’t outclass him, I think she should give him a chance.” The woman said that was him. He’d heard the show and called in. I think she should give him a chance, too.

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TEN YEARS AGO TODAY: PAMPAGE DEBUTS!

Back in those days it was called a personal page before all this blogging business started.

Sadly, I didn’t do any sort of archive keeping in the beginning and I’m not 100% what the debut page looked like although I have some ideas which I will hopefully post this weekend.

Since insomnia seems to be the theme of the week, I bring to you this PamPage historical nugget (which I edited slightly for spelling):

Insomnia: February 1, 1998

It is 2:15am and I am wide awake. I can recall going through most of my life (so far) and never being awake at this hour except for writing college papers and going to wild rock n’ roll clubs. Now it’s getting to be a disturbingly regular occurrence. It’s like the most minute blip on my regular life radar results in indigestion and insomnia. Is this a getting older thing or am I evolving in some strange and undesired direction?

Sometimes, I simply can’t fall asleep. I will usually toss and turn and do a variety of relaxing and breathing exercises before I will get up. Other times I wake up, sometimes as little as 30 minutes after I’ve gone to bed. I actually don’t mind not being able to sleep half as much as I mind being very tired the following day.

My methods of dealing with it usually involve one or any combination of the following: alka seltzer, ginger tea, mineral water, Hyland’s Calming tablets (homeopathic remedy which I highly recommend). I sit on the futon and usually read or sometimes channel surf which is always interesting at this hour. Last night I read for over an hour. Tonight I’ve already drank 2 big cups of tea which is herbal, but nonetheless, I suspect it isn’t helping my cause.

We are in the process of buying our first home which I suspect is at the root of this latest wave of sleeplessness. We found the house last weekend. The worst part was the time between when we knew it was what we wanted and the time we actually signed the offer, which lasted about 24 hours and resulted in one um, spirited discussion. On Friday we brought a stack of paper to the mortgage broker and saw what we were in for with the bank and signed those papers.

It’s especially hard doing this for the first time because the whole homebuying thing is this maze of complicated paperwork, agreements, inspections and even though there are a lot of safeguards in there, and you can do your homework and ask questions, the process is totally mystifying and terrifying. At every turn I’m wondering if we’re just getting suckered, or if we’ve naively paid too much or blindly agreed to some fee or certification that’s completely bogus.

But I’m also thrilled about the house and with the idea that there will be actual places to put things. Our place now is so small. The house has a shop built on. Great, I am thinking. A whole shop where we can put our wrench, 2 screwdrivers and ball of twine. A utility room: hand wash can be dried in a separate room instead of being an obstacle course in the living room and dining area. It’s a good change, it’s just overwhelming at times.

I think I might be able to sleep now.

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Pretty in Pink

We have HBO again, now that the Sopranos are back.

Yeah, premium channels! I scanned through the movies for stuff I’ve been wanting to see and impulsively taped Pretty in Pink which I have not seen in I don’t know how long. Has to be over 10 years.

It was released in February 1986 which means I was basking in the light at the end of the tunnel of my college education. I have zero memory of my first time seeing the film but I suspect I liked it a lot because I loved Sixteen Candles (84) and Breakfast Club (85) and had some sort of girl crush on Molly Ringwald which is hard to imagine right now.

Two things I do remember about Pretty in Pink was being hypnotized by her amazing accessories drawer, shown in the opening credits and the soundtrack.

On the former: she was poor, yet had oodles of beads and hats and belts. I wanted those accessories. I think I still have the single extra-long strand of plastic “pearls” that I bought for .99¢ at Express at the mall. My quest to amass an impressive accessories collection ended quickly probably because I wanted to spend my money on other things, I was too lazy to scope out thrift shops and garage sales and I didn’t really want another box of crap to lug around every time I moved.

I obtained the soundtrack through a prehistoric method of illegal song sharing that involved taping a vinyl recording onto a cassette tape. I listened to it in my car for years. Psychedelic Furs, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order. Still a classic.

My intent in watching the movie now was to see how well it holds up after 20 years and the answer is: I don’t know. Am I watching as my grown up self who no longer squanders valuable brain real estate worrying about accessories or the politics of being under 25, or as my 22 year old self who wanted to have cool bracelets and a cute guy to notice me and oh God, was a fully functioning human being in the 80’s which are flawlessly preserved in this film in a way that is simultaneously horrifying and exhilarating. (Hair! Clothes! ak!)

The story was then and still remains, completely stupid. A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, which is hamfistedly driven home by an establishing shot of a train chugging slowly across the screen and passing in front of a dilapidated shack, falls for a cute, rich guy, played by Andrew McCarthy who between this movie and St. Elmos Fire, we all loved and then something happened and then there was Weekend at Bernie’s and we drove him from our minds, seemingly until forever and then there was Kingdom Hospital and we remembered him and swooned all over again. The guy likes the girl. The girl wants to go to the prom with the guy. But oh, the other mean rich kids, mainly Steff, played in a classic pouffy haired performance by James Spader, try to drive the young lovers apart.

This is a staple of movie and TV plot development where high school is a world of absolute black and white cruelty. I remember high school. I didn’t love it. Yes, there were cool kids and not cool kids. Yes, there was meanness. But I never saw anything like the scene you see in every show where a cool kid will walk up to a not cool kid, trip him as he carries his lunch so that all the other cool people can laugh at him and then tell him that he’s hated because he’s [fill in the blank: poor, smart, of a certain ethnicity, of a certain religion, fat, handicapped, other]. I never saw anyone go to elaborate lengths to publicly humiliate a kid just because he was a nerd or especially because he was poor. The whole rich v. poor thing is more subversive than that and not like it disappears after high school.

Stupid story aside, what makes the movie so watchable is Duckie and to some degree, Iona (the loopy boss at the record store). Who didn’t love Duckie? He had his own funky intro music. Remember the scene when he’s in her room aching with his teen adoration for her? When he tells Harry Dean Stanton he plans to marry her? The Otis Redding number?

“I live to like you” he tells her after he finds out she’s going out with the rich guy and his little Duck heart is broken.

As legend has it, the original ending was to have Andie and Duckie end up together but TEST AUDIENCES which much be a euphemism for dumbasses wanted Andie to end up with major appliance named, Blane. So Andie goes off with Blane at the prom and Duckie’s consolation prize is a winking Kristy “I Ran Off with My Married Skating Partner” Swanson. I still hate the ending.

Two more things if you’re still here reading what has turned out to be a marathon post:

Did you not cry when you saw that abomination of a prom dress Andie made out of the adorable dress Iona gave her? Tragedy.

I thought I blogged about this but can’t find it now. Veronica Mars did an episode where they had an 80’s dance. Meg had on this horrible dress and I was thinking: it looks like that terrible prom dress in Pretty in Pink. At the dance, Duncan appears, dressed as Duckie which was when I figured out Meg’s dress was supposed to be the horrible prom dress in Pretty in Pink. To add an extra layer of irony to the whole thing: here we finally get to see a version of Andie end up with Duckie, yet on Veronica Mars we don’t want Meg to end up with Duncan. We want it to be Veronica (to end up with Duncan)

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