Monday, March 30, 2009

The Scariest Thing at the Fred Meyer

There is something eerie and disturbing about food that is disguised as other food.

I thought this genre reached it height - or should I say its depth - with marzipan pigs.

I was wrong.

It's a hamburger! It's fries!

It's cake that looks like a hamburger and fries!

Not to be confused with the best cake in the world, which I made this weekend for my squeeze the Cheez's birthday.

A lovely chocolate cake. So rich, so moist, so well loved that no one ever guesses my secret ingredient.

And if that grosses you out, MORE CAKE FOR ME!!!!

Hey, at least it doesn't come with frosted red fake "ketchup."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Rated PDX for Sax and Violins

Here's a little something you don't see every day.

Reality-based street fighting with musical accompaniment.

I crossed paths (though not, I'm relieved to say, guandao) with the Bruce Lee-wannabe at a 24-hour concert, or really 24 consecutive 1-hour concerts, commemorating the 7 years our nation has now been at war.

Classical music seems to me to be the perfect way to mark the senseless violence of war, given that my earliest (and let's face, about my ONLY) exposure to classical music was when it accompanied the senseless violence of Tom and Jerry cartoons.

I didn't stay for all 24 hours, I'll admit. But I did learn a lot from the many hours I was there.

1. A well-equipped travel bar sure comes in handy.

2. Lots of those fancy-pants musical instruments are really nothing more than one bunch of strings getting all up against another bunch of strings. String-on-string violins, if you will.

3. After the first 7 hours or so, it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish between the highly cultured and the homeless based on smell alone.

4. The opening phrase of Franz Biebl's Ave Maria, when arranged for 8 trombones and a tuba, sounds disturbingly similar to the opening phrase of Alex Chilton's Kanga-roo, when covered by This Mortal Coil. Makes you wonder if the tuba is itself a mortal coil.*

(Note to macaronimaniac fans: that makes two blog entries in a row mentioning the tuba! How exciting is that? Now if I can just find a reason to blog about that I Love Lucy episode where Ricky's band goes on tour to Europe and Lucky sneaks back some undeclared cheese inside a certain brass instrument - Tuba Trifecta!!!)

5. Charlie Daniels totally ripped off the plot of The Devil Went Down to Georgia from Histoire du Soldat by Igor Stravinsky.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Baby's First Self-Abnegating Mockery. But Surely, If Baby is of My Tribe, Not the Last.

Who can forget the first time they heard this great phrase:

Did you get the evite to the bris?

Okay, well, I've actually only heard it once, years ago on a visit to Jew York.  And technically I overheard it, because somebody was saying it to someone else.  

So no, I didn't get, never have got, the evite to the bris.  I guess I'm not that popular among the digitally-savvy catered ritual circumcision set. 

Actually, I just checked. Bris doesn't make the cut (as it were) among the alphabetized list of standard evite templates.  Indeed, the entire section of templates called Baby's First does not seem to include that particular Jewish phenom Baby's First what is that shaky old man doing with that knife and why is everybody looking at me so weird and ahhhhhhhhhh what the hell happened to that whole kill the ram instead idea?  

I suppose you can substitute of these standard Baby's First evite selections for your next bris, if you get creative with the captions:

That's One Way to Snuff the Candle!

Wait, Those Don't Look Like the TOENAIL Clippers

I'm One-dering What Happened to the Rest of My Smokestack!
Please Stop Saying How Cute It Looks All Little and Waggly

I was reminded of the evite-to-the-bris query because I just received a bat mitzvah invitation.  Though the invite itself was still of the old school printed-and-stuck-in-the-post persuasion, instead of an RSVP card, there was a request to RSVP to [common Jewish girl's name]

Suddenly I understood why every few years a new web-based email catches on.  So that the Jews can each have their unique simcha RSVP addresses. - that was probably taken back during the Clinton administration.   - can you get more Windows98? - been there, davened that.

Still, it's a little weird to see my 3000 year old religion suddenly become trendy.  Inspired by the bat mitzvah invitation, I googled Nachamu, the first word of the haftorah I chanted back in the day (Nachamu means "Comfort" in Hebrew, although my mother insisted it meant "Again" in Yiddish as she nagged me to practice it over and over again . . . thus proving that to a true Jewish mother, comfort and nagging — same thing). 

Gawky thirteen year old me, as I Nachamu-ed and Nachamu-ed through the summer of 1981, could I ever have imagined that my very bat mitzvah day would end up appropriated by the most Catholic of icons?

No, I don't mean Mother Teresa.

I mean the Material Girl.  Whom none of us had ever heard of back when I was heading to the bima.

Think of it, a headline so improbable the supermarket tabloids wouldn't even print it:  
My Bat Mitzvah Saved Madonna's Marriage!

Er, except it turns out, the Madonna-Guy Ritchie marriage was about as saved as ... well, as my squeeze the Cheez's Born-Again mother thinks my soul is.

Back when I was thirteen, the name Madonna referred to someone who wasn't so much Like a Virgin as, well, THE Virgin.  And if being Catholic wasn't particularly fun on a date, being Jewish was even worse.  Jew=nebbishe neurotic Woody Allen.  

Now, in a flash like a bris evite swooping through the internets, we are cool. 

One minute you're Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, a kid who plays the French Horn in your New Jersey high school band (What, you couldn't get nerdier than that?  Had little Davey Hershkowitz nabbed the last tuba in the band room?  Or did you figure this was the only way to get your pubescent lips and French in the same sentence?).  The next thing you know, you are being called the sexiest man alive.  

Forget a black man is president. 

A Jewish man is sexy!  

That, my friends, is an historic occasion.

Or as we like to call it, a miracle.

The sort of miracle that really does make you want to Welcome Moshiach With Acts of Loving Kindness.

(If you didn't get that joke, or any of the other bits of Jew humor herein, please don't feel bad.  Me, I am a Jew, and a humorist, and I still didn't get the evite to the bris.  I guess feeling like you're missing something is the essence of Jewish identity.  Right down to the foreskin).  

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bloggers Against Web 2.0

Why do all these people want to be Facebook Friends with me?

Why do they even call it Facebook Friend?

Why not Facebook Acquaintance?

Or, in one exemplary case, Facebook Guy-I-Made-Out-With-After-the-Spring-Musical-Cast-Party-Sophomore-Year-of-High School?

If our "relationship" didn't last much longer than the Half Hollow Hills High School East production of Pirates of Penzance, I think the world can safely assume we have no need to re-connect a couple decades later. 

Because we never really connected in the first place.  We just made out a couple of times.

That doesn't even qualify us for Facebook Friends With Benefits.

I realize this rant makes me sound like a crotchety old Luddite railing against the new.  

But so what if I'm not the Modern Major General of Social Networking?  

These days, Wikipedia is fulfilling all the major functions of the Modern Major General anyway.

As we crotchety old Luddites like to say, Thank Heavens for the internet!

(Or should that be Thank Al Gore?)

It's not like we don't all wonder whatever happened to that guy we made out with at the cast party sophomore year of high school.  But that is what Google is for, people.  

Google him.  Read his Linked In profile.  Google Image Search him if you dare.  Then go back to whatever you were supposed to be doing when you started procrastinating by Googling that guy you . . . well, you know where this is going.  

This week, one of my clients told me Look into this Twitter thing to see if there's anything interesting we can do with it

And there is!

We can mock it.

One of the first Twits (yeah, I know they're supposed to be called Tweets.  But Twits is so much more apt.  And at least it's not as bad as what some people call them) I read was a Twit that sent me to a Blog which announced a new Comic Book Series based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

In the time it took me to wade through all that dot-communication, I could have just read the damn novel.

I know I have a copy of it somewhere. 

Someone gave it to me for a birthday present senior year of high school.  Who was that?

Wait, I remember.  Laura Gregorio.

Hey, I wonder what she's up to these day.  

Alas, she doesn't seem to be any of these 14,000 Laura Gregorios, as far as I can tell.

Oh, wait, what was I saying here, to you?  Right, I was making fun of our obsessive need to fake-connect with anyone we have ever met.  I believe I was just about to say some other snarky thing about Twitter. 

Yes, yes.  Right after the Jane Austen thing, I found a Twit feed that was for parents whose kids have ADHD.

Now, it is not nice to mock people with neurobehavioral disorders, I know.

But mocking their parents is another thing.

Maybe if they turned off the Twits, put down the Crackberry, set down the Laptop, unplugged the TV, and, I dunno, took their kids on a nice long hike in the nature, the whole family might find it a little easier to concentrate.

Depending on how much high fructose corn syrup is in their trail bars.

So in the interest of promoting real dialogue, with depth and nuance,  here is what I am going to do.  I am going to log onto Facebook, accept whatever Friend invitations have been stacking up, and invite all those people to comment on this post.  

Just like a nice old-fashion 1970s Rap Session.  

With people I haven't seen, or thought about, since the 80s.   

(Although feel free to chime in whoever you are, whether I have seen you since Reagan left office or I've never met you.  That's what this whole Web 2.0 is all about, after all).

Monday, March 2, 2009

It's Only Funny Until Somebody Loses an Eye. Then, It's Hilarious.

The Cheez and I are living life dangerously these days.

We've been eating peanut butter AND bulk bin peanuts.

It's like playing Russian Roulette with legumes.

Cheez, being Canadian, is of course obsessed with safety.  

So much so, that he collects the Safety Cards from airplanes.

So if you're on a jet that starts to nose-dive, and you discover to your great dismay that your handy pictorial guide to unintentional deplaning is missing, Blame Canada

The pile of purloined safety cards actually makes me feel distinctly unsafe.  I am always a little worried that Homeland Security will raid our house, find the cards, and drag us off as potential terrorists.  Because it's not just the airplane information that we have on hand.

We're also stockpiling weapons.

You see, while he collects airline safety cards, I collect . . . SOUVENIR SPOONS.  

So right after Cheez commandeers the EXIT row, I could, theoretically, gouge out your eyeballs, while regaling you with fond memories of that business trip I took to Columbus.

But of course, we wouldn't do that. We don't want to hurt anybody.  Quite the opposite.

Which is why I thought I'd share some travel tips I picked up from the safety card on our recent trip to California.

In an emergency . . .
. . . it's okay to wear wedge heels with a business suit.

Just make sure you . . .
. . . iron your suit, 
so you don't look like some zhlub who'll never get upgraded out of economy.

Make sure to choose pants . . .
. . . that are comfortable, so you can maneuver easily in an emergency . . .
. . . without any unsightly VPL.

If you are traveling with a child, or anyone who may require assistance in an emergency . . .
. . . please remember . . .
. . . people with fabulous 80s coifs should secure their own masks
before assisting people who were too lazy to comb their hair
and just threw on a baseball cap instead.

You know that trick with the magnifying glass
that sets ants on fire?
 . . . if you have x-ray vision, don't use it while the plane is airborne.

It turns out what you heard in the bathroom in junior high is true . . .
. . . you can make a baby just from going swimming with a boy.

But the most important travel tip I learned was not from the safety cards.

It was from some fellow passengers who were waiting at the baggage claim.

Look very closely at the soldiers.

These guys are total travel geniuses.

They have figured out how to sneak extra carry-ons. 


So why, if they can camo-on all they want, are they at baggage claim?

Let's just say the TSA wouldn't let me take my hiking poles into the cabin.

One can only imagine what "outdoor equipment" the trained-to-kill-with-your-tax-dollars corps might have needed to check.