Archive for July, 2006

Jul 31 2006

Dolce, Dolce, Dolce

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Sadly, not the & Gabbana type, which is the very best Dolce there is. But there were other kinds, and also a little Dior.

My friend Charlie’s return from his Roman holiday was the perfect reason to be Suzy the Showoff Chef this weekend. To celebrate the occasion, I made scallop cakes with cilantro-lime mayonnaise, served with asparagus and lemon-herb risotto, accompanied by sparkling Prosecco and sparkling conversation. And for dolce: orange sorbetto, presented in orange halves. Dolce, indeed.

The after-dolce flick was, as you’ve probably guessed, La Dolce Vita. I’m not a big Fellini fan, but I love this movie. Everyone looks so great, and it’s so fabulously 60s in look and feel. And what’s not to love about the surreal opening scene, with the huge statue of Jesus being hauled up in the sky on a crane? Fun fact: it was so cold while shooting the Trevi Fountain scene that Marcello Mastroianni, who was wearing a wetsuit under his clothes, drank an entire bottle of vodka in an effort to warm up. He was toasted for the whole scene, if not toasty.

But the most dolce part of the evening for me was the gift of a Dior bag from Rome. Dolce, dolce, dolce!

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Jul 29 2006

Dog ‘Do

Published by under Dogs,Rita

I took Rita to the beauty parlor today.

I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not because I’m trying to make Rita as girlish as I am. I think if she were a human, she’d be like Ida Lupino: smart, tough, sexy – more of a tomboy than a glamor girl. But it’s been so damn hot lately that the poor thing has shed enough fur to stuff a sofa. I figured she was miserable in her disheveled fur coat, so I took her to the dog salon.

You will be relieved to hear that I drew the line at pawlish. Nor did I have her fur shaved and shaped into silliness. They did trim her nails, though. It seems that the Actual Owner never had her groomed, so there was a decade’s worth of dead hair to remove. The whole thing took more than two hours, so it really was a job for the professionals.

Now Rita’s all clean and shiny and ready for her close-up!

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Jul 28 2006

Travels with Dad: London, March 1991

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March 28, 1991

There was a bunny in the garden this morning!

Dad & I took the Underground to the Embankment and from there, a boat to Greenwich. Dad says he really feels the approach to Greenwich should be made by boat. It was a wonderful trip down the River Thames – under Tower Bridge, past the Tower of London, and other historic sites.

Visited the beautiful Cutty Sark and bought Jonathan [My brother has sailed from the age of 4 – Dad always said he’d trust his life to Jonathan on any boat. Many years later, he actually worked with a friend on restoring the Cutty Sark!] some souvenirs. We had a lovely time climbing all over the beautiful old ship. I especially enjoyed the account of one of her captains, who brought his collies aboard and learned to ride a bike on the between decks!

Had lunch at the Trafalgar Tavern, built in 1837, and a favorite of Dickens, Thackeray, and Wilkie Collins. The food and the view were both excellent. Dad takes his pubs seriously, bringing the Good Pub Guide with him and making notes. [He even sent in reviews for pubs he felt were much better or worse than their rating in the Guide.]

After lunch, we visited the Royal Observatory. It was fascinating to see all the old instruments and the beautful – one of the few remaining – Christopher Wren interiors. Standing on the time line [the Prime Meridian, from which all time and distance is measured in the whole world] was as exciting to me now as it was when I was a child.

We could have spent the whole day at the Maritime Museum. Not only is it a lovely building, but the collection is arranged so well – you follow the course of British Naval history. There were models of ships made when the ship herself was being built, from the 1600s on, an exhibit on Nelson, Cook, & Arctic exploration, as well as a minutely detailed exhibit on wooden boat-making which I wished Jonathan could have seen.

We took the boat back to the Tower [Tower Hill Underground station] and then the train back to Wimbledon. Dad & I were both sleepy and sort of dozing on each other’s shoulders. As I watched the familiar landmarks flash past, I started to think that this would be the last time during this visit that we’d ride the train together. I feel so lucky that my father is my very dear friend and that we take such genuine pleasure in each other’s company.

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Jul 26 2006

A Bird in the Hand

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I discovered a small, pale blue budgie wandering around in a daze in the courtyard today. He was either flight-challenged or over-served at a nearby bar, since he was easier to catch than a cold. I put a box (whose previous tenant was a dozen bottles of chardonnay) over him, slid a piece of cardboard underneath, and the poor thing was boxed instead of caged.

After giving my captive a drink of water, I set the box on the kitchen table (out of Rita’s reach – look what happened when I left groceries unattended) and did an informal survey of the neighborhood. After knocking on doors and calling everyone I knew who lives in the building or the neighborhood with no takers, I put up posters and then took the little bird to the SPCA. Hopefully, his owner will turn up sooner rather than later, and take better care of the little guy in the future. He’s way too small to be all alone in the big city.

While I was filling out the form for the little lost bird, a guy came in with a bigger box. I asked him what he found, and his was better: two kittens. He said he was unpacking a truck that had just finished a long haul and found the two fuzzy stowaways in the very back. They were harder to capture than the bird – gloves were required – but I just had to look at them. One was pure black and fuzzy, and the other a sweet brown tabby. They were both young enough to still have blue eyes, and they were incredibly cute. I don’t think it will take long for the littlest hitch-hikers to find a home.

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Jul 25 2006

Welcome to Suzy Country

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It may look like the country, but it’s not*. It’s the vacant lot behind the rambling old building where I live. If Rita wants a quick outing before bed, or if one of us isn’t ambitious enough to go to the park, we go to the vacant lot. It’s conveniently fenced in, so I can let her off the leash to run and prance and get covered with grass and wildflower petals.

Looking at the photos, isn’t it hard to believe that it’s in the heart of the city? Right next door to the halfway house, and the train tracks are on the other side of an old brick wall. Does that mean I live on the wrong side of the tracks?

*Not quite as melodious as the slogan at the end of this commercial!

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Jul 24 2006

Terror in the Haunted House (1958)

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This weekend’s feature was the first movie filmed in Psycho-Rama (and probably the last, too)! There are supposed to be subliminal messages flashed throughout the movie, but as far as I could tell, Psycho-Rama consisted of flashing skulls and devil heads during the dream sequence at the beginning. Very distracting, and nowhere near as enjoyable as Brad Pitt’s splicing job in Fight Club. Psycho-Rama will only make you scream out of sheer annoyance.

Essentially, the movie is a low-rent Rebecca, Alfred Hitchcock’s 1940 masterpiece:

Terror: Filmed in Psycho-Rama!
Rebecca: Famous opening shot where the camera seems to melt through the mansion’s gates.

Terror/Rebecca: Young girl marries mysterious man abroad after whirlwind courtship and returns with him to creepy mansion. The Terror Mansion is the “mad Tierney place” – no relation to ravishing Gene or rambunctious Lawrence. Unfortunately.

Terror: Creepy caretaker with giant unblinking eyes who knows the family secrets and dies an unpleasant death.
Rebecca: Creepy housekeeper who knows the family secrets and dies an unpleasant death.

Terror/Rebecca: New husbands both seem to be unfeeling jerks and have dark pasts.

Terror: Cast of B actors. Cathy O’Donnell, who spends most of the movie screaming, was in Ben-Hur after this movie and that was the end of her movie career. I would have thought it would be the other way around.

Rebecca: Laurence Olivier and Joan Fontaine.

In the end, both couples flee their respective creepy mansions and, we assume, live happily or neurotically ever after.

What to serve with the movie: a Green Ghost, of course. Gotta use up that blue cura?ao left over from last week!

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Jul 23 2006

Miscreants

Published by under Dogs,Rita

Rita and I were partners in crime today!

We both woke up early this Sunday morning, and the park beckoned. It was a glorious morning, the sky a cloudless blue, the sun warm and benign, but with a hint of the malevolence to come (is there anywhere in the entire US of A that isn’t too hot?). The air was cool and infused with summer flowers, and not one car drove down our street. It was as if we had the whole city to ourselves.

I could tell Rita was in a naughty mood, because she teased a cat – she usually ignores them, as if they are beneath her notice – and I had to convince her of the error of her ways. It’s not nice to tease cats, especially heavily pregnant ones, as this kitty was. Rita may have forgotten that cats have claws, and that mama cats are never pushovers, and I didn’t want her to learn the hard (or sharp) way.

Before we reached the park, Rita got distracted by the brick road leading to a long disused factory. Grass and wildflowers had grown tall in the cracks between the bricks, and as she followed her nose, I followed her, ignoring the ?No Trespassing? signs, caught up in the moment. I let her off the leash, and she pranced through the grass and flowers like a little circus horse. I laughed out loud with delight at her delight. She rolled around in the fragrant greenery, and I just kept laughing. It was a magic, sunny moment.

We were both young again, both happy. Together.

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Jul 21 2006

Travels with Dad: London, March 1991

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March 26, 1991

A wonderful day. We all went to the Tate Gallery in London. We came across a lecturer who was speaking to a group of school children about Turner. He was so fascinating that we followed him all over the gallery. The Turners were magnificent – I was most impressed with some very impressionist paintings of Venice, done a good 40 or 50 years before Monet & friends.

We had a delicious lunch in the Tate restaurant, which is just about the most delightfully whimsical room I have ever been in. It is decorated with a mural depicting the search of a royal party for exotic food to tempt their jaded palates. The mural is by Rex Whistler*, who painted it when he was 23!

Started lunch with grilled, spiced crab. Dad & I had guinea fowl, and Margaret had game casserole. We had half a bottle of 1985 chablis and half a bottle of 1985 Puligny-Montrachet. We all enjoyed the chablis the most. We finished with profiteroles in an intense chocolate sauce. It was all incredible.

After lunch, we looked at the small collection of Impressionists, inclusing a lovely Monet of a summer day.

Dad’s old friend, CW, came for dinner. We had a delightful evening discussing everything under the sun, but especially wine. CW is a fascinating man, and I imagine he’s a very good teacher – he teaches at the University of Reading and also orders their wine. We had a New Zealand and an Australian chardonnay with dinner, which was chicken in sherry, apples, and raisins with rice. So it was a day of one pleasure after another – beautiful artwork, exquisite food, and good conversation!

*Not to be confused with James Abbott McNeil Whistler, of “Whistler’s Mother” fame. Rex Whistler was an English artist who specialized in exquisite trompe l’oeil murals, some of which can still be seen at National Trust houses throughout Britain, my favorite being Plas Newydd in Wales. Whistler died in action in 1944 at the age of 36. His memorial, created by his brother, is a glorious crystal engraving at Salisbury Cathedral.

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Jul 20 2006

Summer Daze

Published by under Dogs,Rita,Uncategorized

The overwhelming heat and the overwhelming amount of work I’ve had in the past week have resulted in stupor for Suzy. Looking at the weather map, it seems the entire country, except possibly Seattle, is either literally or figuratively burning up. In this case, I’m pretty sure that misery does not love company.

Here’s what been going on around here:

Work

Apparently, I am now a consultant. I find this slightly unnerving, since it sounds like a grown-up job that I may not in fact be grown-up enough for. Also, it reminds me of this New Yorker cartoon. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Gym

Still going three days a week. Not obviously thinner – I feel I’m more Star Jones: the early years than, say, Kate Moss, but definitely stronger. My easily amused Self never gets tired of opening jars with her newly-acquired super-strength. I feel like a very minor super-heroine.

Pill rehab continues apace. I’m pleased to announce that as of next week, I’ll be down to two 75 mg pills a day. So far, so good. No psychotic episodes, crying jags, or tropical depressions. Now I can laugh carelessly when I pass the conveniently located nearby loony bin, confident that I will not be among their number any time soon.

Rita

Rita-Belle loves the heat as much as I do, i.e., not at all. Our strolls have slowed to moseys, as we drag our tails around (too bad owners don’t look like their dogs – Rita is Hollywood thin). When we get home, we hit the water with the alacrity of someone who has crawled across the Mojave.

Last week, the Actual Owner turned up on my doorstep, accompanied by a friend, and asked to “borrow” Rita for a few days. The presence of the friend made it impossible for us to have the Talk about our Relationship (normally something I avoid like housework), and AO left with the chilling words, “I’ll call you.”

Like every girl who hears those words, I spent the next few days wondering if it was the usual boy code for “You will never see me again.” Should I call him? What if he doesn’t call? All with no Rita to comfort me. It gave me a horrifying dating flashback. I wanted to rinse out my mind with minty fresh Scope.

Fortunately, she was returned to me just three days later, though with the caveat that AO’s friend would be taking Rita to the country for the month of August. I was jealous of the friend, happy for Rita, who could bound around freely and chase squirrels in relative coolness, and sad to know I’d be without her for a month. Will I get her back afterwards?

Dog days, indeed.

PS: Hey Raven – happy birthday, kiddo!

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Jul 17 2006

Spamalot

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First of all, I have turned off the comments thing because of the abomination of spamification lately. I have zero technical ability, so can’t understand how to make that Type Pad Key thing work, and just reading about MT’s spam filtering thing made my brain go “La la la, what’s for dinner?” I am, after all, a girl who can’t program her VCR (remember them?). So you’ll have to email me: speakallATearthlink.net, if you can help this helpless (and possibly hopeless) girl. Note to Harry: I know you’re holding out on me, which a fellow hooligan should never do.

And now, for the question of the week. It’s such a good one that I’m going to have to call in a panel of experts to help. Any girl over the age of 16 will have valuable advice and insights, so email me & I’ll pass it on. Extra points if you have technical advice AND dating advice.

Why do I bother dating or think about dating, when men come from a whole different plane of existence? Why do I freak myself out about dating, instead of just going with the flow and not stressing?

– Kathleen

Dear Kathleen,

You don’t freak yourself out about dating, society does. Everywhere a girl looks, there are articles on how it’s more likely to be struck by lightning than get married over the age of 35, books like “The Rules” (how I loved it when the author got divorced), and fashion magazines with airbrushed, nipped’n’tucked fake women*. We are supposed to want to be the fake women, and fear being unmarried. Really, have things changed much since the days of Jane Austen (other than plastic surgery)?

The very name “spinster” compared to “bachelor” tells a girl that being single is undesirable for a woman, unless she’s in some bachelor’s pad. Why isn’t there a fabulous word for the fabulous single girl? I know Bridget Jones tried to foist “singleton” on us, but it just doesn’t have that ring of carefree irresponsibility. As a linguist, you’d think I could come up with something good. Is “freegirl” too Lynyrd Skynyrd?

I’ve been married, and I’ve been single. If you’re single, you can see your friends any time you want. You don’t have to apologize or explain. You won’t alienate them by forcing them to wear hideous bridesmaid dresses. No-one expects you to reproduce, or explain why you haven’t. Everything in your apartment is the way you like it, and the way you left it. It’s all your way, all the time. What’s not to love?

On the other hand, loneliness sucks, and we’ve been trained to believe in the soul mate (one of the worst self-esteem destroyers of the new millennium) and that having a man makes a woman whole, or more worthy than she is on her own. I have to say that I have had my fair share of masculine attention over the years, and never more so than when I’ve given up on them, generally and personally. It really does seem that once you’ve decided you don’t need them, they get all interested.

So my advice is to try not to stress on it. With your boundless freedom, do what interests you and what makes you happy. You don’t need some guy to validate your existence. My guess is that if you’re strong and happy and unconcerned about what guys think, they’ll find you as irresistible as you truly are. And if worse comes to worse, you’ll be happy by yourself and being yourself.

*Apparently, we now need to worry about what we look like everywhere. Used to be, men were so happy to be invited to the party, they didn’t notice the decor.

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Jul 16 2006

Female Jungle (1954)

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Femalejungle.jpg

There’s no jungle in this movie, but there’s definitely a definite female in it – Female Jungle is the film d?but of Jayne Mansfield, a 21 year old aspiring starlet (seen here looking much like her daughter, Mariska Hargitay). Jayne plays the deliciously named Candy Price, a girl who definitely has her price (she answers the phone by purring, “What can I do for you, honey?” and proceeds to make a “date” with the caller while one of her lovers glowers in the background). Wearing skin-tight leopard print capris and asset-enhancing lam? top, she steals the show.

The film is shot in murky black and white, a literal film noir in which all the action takes place between 2 in the morning and sunrise. A glamorous movie star is murdered, and a drunk and disorderly off-duty cop played by legendary tough guy Lawrence Tierney is the prime suspect. The role can’t have been much of a reach for Tierney, who was infamous for being drunk and disorderly when he was off-duty, too. It’s said that he posed for more mug shots than publicity photos, and on the day his mother committed suicide in 1960, he was arrested for knocking down a girl’s door and assaulting her boyfriend. Despite all his misdeeds, Tierney ‘s career was long-lived – he made Reservoir Dogs when he was in his 70’s.

The other main suspect is the creepily suave John Carradine (seen here looking appropriately creepy), a gossip columnist who was in love with the dead starlet. Despite the creepitude, he manages to lure a young married woman (played by the lovely Kathleen Crowley) to his cool bachelor pad after 2 am, where she marvels at the speakers built right in above the fireplace, and the swimming pool. Of course, Se?or Suave has a bathing suit that will fit her…

Fortunately, by the end of the night, the real killer is caught and everyone can finally go home. The oddly named Bruno Ve (not De) Sota and Burt Kaiser share screenwriting credits and cast themselves in the film, too. Kaiser never made another movie, or wrote one, either. Drinking Swamp Juice (vodka, blue cura?ao, and orange juice) made this Jungle a lot more fun to watch!

**************

It’s only right to end this mini review with a nod to fabulous movie fan and photographer Mike, who is trying to save his local movie theater. Happy birthday, Dad-Dad-Daddy-O!

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Jul 11 2006

Weekend Update

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The week is whizzing by, speeding towards the next weekend, and I haven’t even told you about the last one. Here’s the highlights reel:

The Sublime:

K’s elegant new patio, complete with table, chairs, and umbrella. Also a Lazy Susan (besides the weekend’s Lazy Suzy), place mats, coasters, and all the right glasses and silver. It was the perfect place to barbecue super colossal shrimp and sip our favorite champagne, Veuve Clicquot (no widow will make you merrier). So civilized!

Nail art. We both got daisies on our toes and kept admiring them all weekend. And before you think we’re easily amused, we tried and failed to watch The Libertine. Even Johnny Depp’s hotness couldn’t save this meandering bore. After half an hour, we admitted we couldn’t take it anymore. On the other hand, the Devil Wears Prada was a delightful romp. I could tell Meryl Streep had fun playing a real bitch and not having to do an accent. She looked great, too.

The Ridiculous:

I escaped the peril of the laundromat this time, proving once and for all that if you clearly demonstrate your inability to perform an unpleasant task, you won’t be asked to do it again. Instead, I did some landscaping, which consisted of shovelling dirt into a wheelbarrow and then dumping it on unsuspecting plants and flowers. Shovelling dirt with a pitchfork made a change from shovelling what I usually do, and I’ll be way ahead in my pitchfork skills when I finally get to Hell.

Did you know: dirt is measured in cubic yards, and only a couple of cubic yards of dirt look like a young mountain. Four or five wheelbarrow-fuls make very little difference in its girth.

I seem to be better at getting clothes dirty than getting them clean.

The Downright Frightening:

While waiting for the train home, a mother rebuked her son Basil (pronounced ? la Fawlty to rhyme with dazzle) for hitting her daughter Mary Celeste (why name your kid after one of the maritime world’s creepiest unsolved mysteries?) in the New Millennium style of, “Basil, you need a time out. There was no reason to hit your sister. You’re out of control and need to calm down.” Basil’s bone-chilling reply, hollered at the top of his four or five year old lungs: “I’m going to tear your skin off, mommy!”

I wasn’t the only one to edge nervously away.

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Jul 10 2006

The Dr. Is In

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Here are the answers to this weekend’s fascinating questions. Please note that I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. At least I’m not charging you a nickel!

Dear Dr Suzy: why are cats so irritating?

– Mike

Dear Mike,

Cats aren’t irritating. It’s all a matter of understanding them and giving in to the wonderful and deliciously unpredictable creature that is the feline (or the female, for that matter). Focus on the positive cat qualities, such as their complete lack of barking, their sinuous grace, and their unmistakable and delightful purring.

And we’re all jealous of how much sleep they get. It’s perfectly normal.

chick.jpg

dear suzy,

do you think it is complete karma suicide to purposefully create a hostile work environment for one particular coworker in hopes that the person will quit?

– steph

Dear Steph,

I’d like to say yes. Karma often seems to work much more slowly than I, or any reasonably impatient human being, would like. However, you may find it encouraging that I used to have a boss exactly like the one you describe. Let’s call her C (you can decide what the “C” stands for). She forced no fewer than three excellent employees to quit by being an unremitting and petty bitch. I am pleased to report that all three who were forced to quit are very successful (in fact, I work for one of them). C ran the department into the ground, so that it was entirely laid off/fired, including, yes, the Big C. That sure seems like karma suicide to me (though it took a couple of years).

If you’re one of the suffering employees, look for another job if you possibly can and plan an escape with a party afterwards. Keep track of former boss to determine timeline of karma suicide and try not to gloat. That will be harder than the job interviews!

chick.jpg

Dear suzy,

What do you tell these people who tell you all their problems? I have a friend who apparently wears the same sign you do on her forehead and would like to give her some advice.

– babs

Dear babs,

One of my many character flaws is the inability to tell these advice-hungry strangers to shut up and leave me alone. If I’m on a plane with them, I’m afraid that expressing my natural rudeness and boredom could result in a war of escalation, as the advice seeker takes control of the shared armrest, then “accidentally” spills scalding hot coffee in my lap and tells the flight attendant that I’m armed. So I generally try to answer them the best I can.

At least when I was having that Pap test, talking about the nurse’s love life distracted me from the process (though it is odd to have someone speaking directly into your crotch, as if it were the order window at a drive-through). But that’s about the best I can say. Let me know if your friend has any handy tips. I could use them!

chick.jpg

Dear Suzy,

Why do I always get hungry at 10pm? My husband gets really annoyed as he tries not to eat after 7.

– Jennifer

Dear Jennifer,

You get hungry at 10 pm because it’s been hours since you had dinner, unless you live in Europe, in which case, you’d still be having dinner at 10 pm. It’s perfectly normal. To ensure marital peace, send your husband out to walk the dog or pick up some milk and snack while he’s gone. What he doesn’t know, he won’t lecture you about.

If deceiving your nearest and dearest bothers you, inform him that if eating after 7 pm was so bad for you, every person who works night shifts would be fat. Or tell him that if he really loved you, he’d let you nibble when you want to. After all, food is a basic human need, like love.

If he persists in critiquing your metabolic style, tell him to go for a run while you eat dessert.

chick.jpg

That was fun! If you have a question for me, leave it in the comments or email it to me at speakall@earthlink.net and I’ll answer it next Monday.

4 responses so far

Jul 07 2006

Show & Tell

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For some reason, people are always telling me their problems. Not only people who actually know me, (and should know better than to ask for advice from someone whose life is like one of those drawers you throw everything in and then can’t find one useful thing and want to throw the whole thing out and start all over), but total strangers. People sitting next to me on planes. In waiting rooms. Most memorably, a nurse giving me a Pap test and asking me if she should break up with her boyfriend.

So until I have my own radio call-in show, or get a body double for my TV advice show, you, my little audience, can amuse yourselves by asking me or telling me anything this weekend while I’m away dispensing advice and encouragement. Tell me who you are, if you blog and why, or just some random fact or delightful anecdote. Or you can ask me anything you want. Answers on Monday!

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Jul 06 2006

Feminine Mystique

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In Montreal, where signs in English are apparently either illegal or too tiny to be read with the naked eye, I was intrigued by a sign on a store saying “Friperie”. I was all excited, thinking it was a whole store devoted to silly, girly, sparkly things – you know, frippery – but it turned out that it’s just French for second hand stuff. Everything sounds nicer in French.

Thinking about girl stuff made me wonder yet again if I missed some essential girl classes, or if there’s yet another thing I can blame on my poor old Mom. There are certain things which it appears all girls, or at least most of them, know that I don’t:

1. And this is always number one, since it’s a daily occurrence: how to keep your bra straps up. Mine are always slipping off one shoulder or the other. I try to imagine that slipping it back up is endearingly cute, maybe even sexy, but I’m pretty sure it just looks like I don’t know how to dress myself properly.

2. How to shave your legs in the shower. I’m always blinded by the water, the shower curtain is sticking to me all cold and clammy, the part of me actually under the shower is warm, but part of me is always sticking out and freezing. Then there’s the bending over to do the shaving without the water rinsing the soap off before you’re done and without being blinded by the water. Plus if I’m wearing my glasses, they get steamed up, and who wants to put in contact lenses just to take a shower?

3. What exactly is “freshening up”? I think we can all agree that “powdering your nose” means going to the bathroom, but that can’t be the same thing as freshening up, can it? Does freshening up mean applying more make-up, fixing your hair, or something far more intimate? The fact of the matter is that I have never heard a man be asked if he wants to freshen up, so I figure it must be some girl thing.

Am I the only one who doesn’t know this stuff?

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Jul 05 2006

Pause Caf

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I’m back, but only briefly. On Friday, I’m setting off to K’s bijou residence for a weekend of wickedness (her deliciously evil chocolate martinis; seeing The Devil Wears Prada) and self-indulgence (nail art! I’m addicted now!). All these personal appearances are so exhausting. One’s public is so demanding.

Montreal was hot and humid in the manner of a swamp, but beautiful. There were flowers and tree-lined streets and lots of parks. It looks a lot like Europe, down to the charming caf?s, which they call terrasses. The friend I stayed with lives in Westmount, which I understand is the Anglo ghetto. Even the stop signs actually say Stop there (instead of Arr?t everywhere else). Thanks to Mike, Amber, Alison & Daisy for setting me straight on those pesky French accents, which I will now use with Gallic abandon. Daisy, you get extra credit for remembering my niece went to university in Wales. What a memory!

Turns out the denizens of the home of the Jazz Festival are not all that jazzed about Canada Day. There were a lot more Quebec flags flying than Canadian ones. Also, everything that could stay open did, and those who couldn’t resumed business as soon as they possibly could. Essentially, they value States’ Rights over being told what to do by the federal government. Seems the English went there and oppressed them. That was the English Empire style of the past: oppress everyone, everywhere you go, and then wonder why they get upset about it.

Anyway, it’s a lovely place, with European elegance and flair. Of course, I had to sample the local delicacies, such as croissants and bagels. The croissants were from P?tisserie de Gascogne, which was pretty much a little slice of heaven. You walk in, and there’s a case full of tiny, handmade chocolates. Next to it, a case of cakes which were works of art, including one that was shaped like a pear. In 3-D, with real leaves. I can’t begin to describe the wedding cakes, or the pastries. I probably put on five pounds just looking at things and breathing the buttery air.

Bagels were from Schwartz’s, a 78 year old institution. It’s too bad I don’t eat meat, because they are famous for their smoked meat in a city that’s famous for smoked meat. They even have a secret recipe and everything. It’s a real, old-fashioned deli. Montreal bagels look like bracelets, thinner and with a bigger hole than New York style bagels. Bread that looks like jewelry. No wonder I loved it.

A question for those in the know: what’s the deal with all those narrow iron spiral staircases outside the houses and apartments? Seems kind of crazy when it’s snow and ice for six months of the year. I wonder if the city keeps statistics on how many staircase-related injuries there are.

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