Dec 24, 2007

Kind of Like "Twas the Night Before Christmas", Only, Y'Know, Not.

If you've seen the movie "A Christmas Story" (the venerable holiday cautionary tale about a kid, a BB Gun, and what happens when a tongue is stuck to a frozen pole), you know that every family has some hilarious holiday story that usually involves some crazy old person and/or a wild animal.

My family seems to have more than enough - there was the year when the organist at the stately presbyterian church was drunk off his ass, playing "Joy to the World" and "Go Tell it on the Mountain" in a minor key and refusing communion. We've gotten the giggles at inopportune times, had a specific Christmas party guest who showed up inebriated and in sweatpants and called told another guest she looked like a skunk, and most recently, the sweet Mormon carolers. But the best Christmas story to come out of our house involves a classic formula: One crazy old lady, an attic, and an animal.

Flashback to roughly 2001.
It's Christmas morning, and my mom, my brother and I were up relatively early, having our small family gift giving time. Our stockings were filled with the usual mix of obscure candy and toys from the Archie McPhee catalog. Things were going well. Finally, we started getting into the wrapped presents from our extended family.

The boxes from my grandmother were uncommonly large that year, and Kevin and I were excited. In retrospect, we should have known better, but we were young and optimistic. Had we taken a moment to think back to years prior , maybe we would have been a little more realistic, but Christmas morning has a way of sucking the realism out of most situations.

We tore into the wrapping paper gleefully, hoping that this year, our grandmother had actually visited a retail establishment for our gifts, rather than trolling her attic for yuletide booty.

Unfortunately, we were wrong. Very, very wrong.

What was contained in the packages was, well, interesting. Mom captured this look of surprise and delight:

Here was what was in the box:

Clockwise, we have: a random metal thing in a box, broken miniature telephone-shaped music box, a wax apple (wtf?), two Girl Scout glasses, an old bottle covered in wax, pig-shaped cream pitchers, "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Art", a sketchy vinyl cosmetics bag, an unidentified purple thing, the riveting pamphlet "Interesting Origins of English Words", and a toy hammock.

Also in the package was a...well, we weren't sure exactly what it was, but judging from mom's shrieks of horror, it was nothing good. It was blue, lumpy and made of papier mache. Mom grabbed it and explained that it was a skunk, the questionable result of her eighth grade art class. She also explained that she hated the thing, and was glad to finally have it in her possession so that it could be thrown away after years of captivity in my grandmother's attic.

A trash bag was produced, and mom made a big show of throwing the thing away.

And no sooner did our poor misshapen friend land with a thud at the bottom of the empty hefty bag, when the phone rang.

I shit you not, this is an exact transcript of the dialog:

Mom: Merry Christmas, Mom

Frantic hand motions were made, the skunk was retrieved and given a name, and it's been a permanent fixture in our house ever since. My mom and my aunt take it on vacation with them every year. It's been present at major events, like my college graduation. It even gets decorated for special occasions and has a little paper car that it sits in when it moves from the fireplace.

Here it is today, looking extremely excited to have been rescued:

So, Merry Christmas, y'all. I hope your grandma has a better attic stash than mine does.


Like her mother, enjoys a festive hat,

Dec 23, 2007


At the counter at Otherlands, there's a bowl full of granola bars with a little sign sticking out of them that says that five percent of profits from the snacks goes to support "One Voice", a charity working to eliminate extremism in the Middle East. I find it a little strange that a group that is bent on ending totalitarian beliefs calls itself "One Voice".


I'm sitting here, about to begin the Sunday Ritual (tea, bagel, NYT), and it just hit me: holy crap, it's Christmas. Since just before Thanksgiving, I haven't really been feeling very festive. It just didn't seem right. There was no snow! No nine-hour drive! It was almost 70 degrees outside! (When I was in college, the lack of snow and the high temperatures were one of the bonuses of the holidays in Memphis.)

But somehow, sitting here in the coffee shop (which smells like ginger), knowing that I don't have to go to work for the next ten days, it suddenly feels like Christmas.

Mom's open house last night probably helped. I got there about an hour before it started, and mom was freaking out. There had been a plumbing disaster earlier in the day, and the dishwasher was full but not running, so when I showed up, mom was pitching dirty dishes into a rubbermade in the garage. At one point, she told me to ice down the beer. When I asked her for a container, she produced the crisper drawer from the second fridge.

The party was good - full, but not crowded. About mid-way through the evening, I was talking to my brother when mom came in and said that there was someone at the door for him. He went, and came back with two soggy Mormon missionary boys who were there to carol. So there we were, beers in hand, listening to two squeaky clean LDS dudes singing Joy to the World in glorious two-part harmony. It was kind of cool. We offered them food, but they said they couldn't stay. It was just as well - we had been drinking.

But really, who does that happen to, other than us?

Ok, I need to get to the paper if I ever want to get anything else done today. Expect another update tomorrow.


Dec 17, 2007

Hello Honesty, Goodbye Indie Rock Street Cred

Today, I was listening to the excellent All Songs Considered 2007 wrap up podcast. Bob Boilen, Carrie from Sleater-Kinney, and some other people were talking about the best (and most disappointing) records of the year. Somewhere between the innovations and the disappointments, parts of Radiohead's "In Rainbows" got played.

And I can't lie - I instinctively hit skip on my iPod, and then had to backtrack when I realized that it was a podcast, and the Radiohead would be over soon.

You can tell me over and over again how great Radiohead is, and how they're hugely influential and fantastic, but I'm not going to believe you. Everything I've heard from them is just kind of meh. I can't bring myself to care about it, which is a bad sign.

If I'm going to have music on (which is most of the time), I want it to be something that I care about. Entire albums aren't required to be great, but I do want them to make me feel something other than ambivalence.

Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal. However, my feelings about Radiohead are sort of putting me in a bit of an existential crisis. I like good music, and though I have very definitive tastes, I'll try anything twice. The message that keeps getting pounded into my head is that if one likes good music, they like Radiohead, because it is good. While I admire their unique take on record sales and the longevity of their career, I just can't really get behind it.

Until I hear a Radiohead song that makes me feel the way that Stereolab's "Peng!33" or Andrew Bird's "Masterfade" makes me feel, I'm going to have to say that they do nothing for me.


All better. I'm going to listen to Thee Headcoatees and do the dishes now.

hooked on a feeling,

Dec 10, 2007

Further Evidence of Their Great One-Sided Love

The following is from an email I sent to Matthew this afternoon, regarding my speculations in the last post about certain NPR reporters.

I just finished listening to On The Media, and omg, we're so right! Did you hear when Brooke interviewed Bob about Comcast Must Die? When Bob said "It's really nice being interviewed by Brooke" and Brooke giggled like "Bob. Seriously. Your schoolgirl crush has got to stop." And the piety in his voice when he said the program was edited by Brooke.

We're so right. They're doing it. Or, at least, Bob wants to. I don't think Brooke is that kind of girl. Though, if she's not, she should quit leading him on.

Seriously. Get this week's On the Media podcast, free on iTunes. Listen to it, and tell me if you don't seriously get the feeling that every time Brooke turns around, Bob is totally trying to reach out and pick the lint off her sweater. I think he wants on her media. Awwww yeah.

And while we wait for next week's installment of our story, let's take a moment to meet the cast!

First, there's Brooke Gladstone, the Peabody Award-winning smooth talker that's captured the hearts of millions (most notably, Bob's):

And our hero, a man (possibly) filled with longing desire:

She's so cute! He's so...Bob Vila-esque! True Love! *squee*

Stay tuned for more, next week.

keep on playing:

(Um...does anyone else find it weird that I'm essentially writing NPR Fan Fic?)

(Quick notice: Photos from Google Image Search. If you object, let me know, and I'll be happy to take them down.)

Dec 9, 2007

Complicated Theorems

I'm recovering from a nasty cold that started mid-afternoon on Friday, and is just now starting to clear up. With the exception of buying groceries and going to see the fantastic "No Country for Old Men", I haven't really left the house this weekend.

However, I have watched an embarrassing number of episodes of the Gilmore Girls.

I think the cold came from a combination of the crazy weather, not turning my heat on, and blues dancing with JohnnyMac. I've been loaded up on a dose of cold medicine that the Walgreen's pharmacist promised would take the cold out back behind the dumpster and beat the shit out of it. So far, it's working, I think. Two nights ago (and hell, last night) I tried to clear the sinuses the good old fashioned way - with everyone's favorite Big Scottish Bad Idea: Ginger Tams (let it be known that this was only a temporary fix).

Oooh! It's the first appearance of the Town Troubadour on Gilmore Girls. He kind of looks like Matthew.

Speaking of Matthew - he and I developed a complicated theory about the sordid affairs that are probably happening behind the scenes at NPR. I want to go to their Christmas party just to see who hooks up, and if it proves us right. For example, Bob Garfield totally has it bad for Brooke Gladstone. Just listen to On the Media. When she is there, and he's responding to her reporting, he sounds like he's been staring at her, dreaming of touching her hair. When he says that she edited the show for the week, he sounds so reverent. And, when she's out of town, the tiniest note of sadness can be heard in Bob's "...Brooke is on vacation."

Also, I think Terri Gross is engaging in a long-term flirtation with Ira Glass, but she won't come clean about it, and he'll never notice, because he's Ira Glass.

Clearly, I have too much time on my hands. Time to do the dishes, pop some more cold and sinus meds, and work on the liner notes booklets that I'm making.

secret public radio lovers,

Dec 5, 2007

This Begins The Next 30 Years

I just made my first student loan payment...and there go my savings. And all future income. And my record habit.

Since I graduated in May, I'd been feeling pretty good about things. I have a great apartment, a job, a fantastic boyfriend, and a trivia team I can count on. This is the first Big Adult Freak Out.

It's a little embarrassing. When I logged in to the student loan website to make my first payment, I made the mistake of looking at the total amount, which is just over 50 grand. I burst into tears.

Hell, I didn't know what else to do. That's a crushing amount of debt for someone with my salary. Suddenly, it hit me that I've had no formal training at this, and I feel like I'm making a terrible mess of it. I'm worried that people can tell that I'm faking it, and any day, I'm going to be exposed. Really, I hope I can just hold things together. Most days, I'm fine, and I can handle it, and I'm proud of how far I've come. Other days, how far I have to go is so strikingly apparent.

fakes it till she makes it,

P.S.I've heard rumors that there have been several attempted throwings away of the Ball Bearings Official Office Christmas Decoration. This decoration happens to be a plaster statue of Santa kneeling at the manger. Um, can you ethically throw away Jesus?

Dec 4, 2007

We Just Have A Couple Questions

Apparently, there is a better way.

My mom called today to tell me about this magical loophole in the jury selection system that allowed me to select my week of service today instead of reporting to the convention center on the 12th with thousands of my closest registered voter friends.

Visiting the jury commission office was incredibly painless. They asked all the usual questions (are you a felon? have you been arrested in Shelby Co. in the last year? do you have court cases pending?), handed me a sheet of paper, and sent me on my way.

The sheet of paper specified the jury duty dress code. Here's what you're not allowed to wear: shorts, skorts (who wears those anymore), capris, tank dresses, sleeveless tops, t-shirts and sweatshirts with vulgar logos. And, jeans and pants must go below the ankles (being 5'2, I don't think this will be an issue for me).

And, apparently, I can't bring crochet needles. I'm assuming knitting needles are alright.

The jury commission has also been so helpful as to list the locations of "discount" parking. That's very sweet of them.

disappointed that she can't wear her vulgar t-shirt,

Dec 2, 2007

A Letter from the Sheriff

A few days ago, my mom called to tell me that I had received some mail that I wasn't going to be really happy about. Naturally, I assumed it had something to do with my student loans. It didn't.

The offending piece of mail was a slip of paper from the Shelby County sheriff, requesting the honor of my presence at the convention center for jury selection. I have to go on the 12th, and I've been told that from there, I'll look at a calendar and pick the week that I actually want to serve.

I've never had jury duty before, and - call me a freak- I'm actually kind of excited about it. Then again, I'm the sort of girl who has the constitution (in it's entirety) in her iPod. Part of me is kind of hoping I get called. If I do, I hope it's for something minor - I don't think I'd do well with being sequestered.

Anyway - I think the jury room has wi-fi. If it does, I'll be live blogging the experience. Live blogging is kind of a lame concept. It's really meant for more exciting situations than jury duty, but I think it'll be alright. I'm working on setting up some "No Formal Training" style projects right now, but I don't want to share them just yet.

I'd better get off here and get to the Sunday Ritual. My mom got me a subscription to the New York Times for my birthday, and I'm way too excited about the fact that it comes to my house now. I may never go to the coffee shop again.