Tuesday, December 30, 2008

fun with neon

I love Naples Restaurant, so I don't mean to poke fun at them, but when I came around the corner and saw this I burst out laughing:

Italian rant

A warm, old-fashioned Italian rant, just like Mom used to make.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

the X-Men of jelly beans

I've been given so much candy at work this week that I've filled an entire drawer of my desk with it. Christmas in our office is like "Halloween 2", and there's so much candy flying around that you could actually die if you ate everything you were given at one time. I now think of my top right drawer as "my little coma".

Out of all of the candy I was given, though, these were the ones that most intrigued me:

belly flops

Belly Flops, according to the bag, are irregular Jelly Bellies. The bag goes on to inform me that Belly Flops are not often available, but when they are, "enthusiasts snap them up immediately!"

I greet this claim with skepticism. I know that there are people who collect pretty much anything. I casually collect comics and comic related items, and I'm sure there are people who collect candy instead of jamming it into their gaping pieholes as rapidly as possible or storing it in their desk. In that subset of candy collectors, there is probably a group of Jelly Belly jelly bean collectors, but I have a lot of trouble imagining these people shrewdly haggling over a bag of irregular jelly beans at a candy show. People wouldn't actually pay extra for defective jelly beans, would they? Especially with Jelly Belly already priced at the high end of the candy scale?

Yes, people actually will. An e-bay search for "jelly belly flops" produced nine items, some of them with multiple bids.

Rather than sell mine, I decided to eat them:

belly flops unleashed

They're not just irregular. They're like ten jelly beans melted together. There was one lump in there that was the size of my thumb. There were some that were just one really long jelly bean, some that were round and clearly too big, and at least one that I swear had to have failed the taste testing, because it was so hot that it burned my tongue. Clearly, these were the mutant freaks of jelly beans.

And they were delicious.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

the grossest thing ever

This evening I was driving home when I was stricken by a coughing fit. Since I was in heavy traffic at the time, I couldn't cover my mouth, because I needed both hands on the wheel, but Jeannie wasn't carpooling with me today so I was thinking, "Whatever, I'll just cough."

So I was coughing and coughing, and trying to drive, and all of a sudden this globber of phlegm flew out of my mouth and directly into the heater vent! All the way inside!

Now every time I turn on the heater I'll think about that phlegm globber slowly baking.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


party spread

Yesterday I went to a birthday party for Jeannie's kid, who turned one. The party was mostly their family and a few friends, and I think was more for them than actually for the baby since there was only one other baby there, but it was an ok afternoon if you like standing around for a couple hours watching the baby ignore the other baby and bang presents on the floor.

Over the years I have been accused of hating babies, and I'd like to go on record as saying that's not true. I don't hate babies. It's not like I look at one and thing, "I wish that was on fire". It would be safer to say that I have an aversion to them, and I can illustrate my reasons with this photo from yesterday:

frosted baby

That's how all babies look to me all the time: sticky, smeared with unknown substances, and torn between shrieking and reaching out for you with their dirty hands. I'm sure people who have babies learn to overlook these things, but I can't get past it, like the mental block that keeps me from enjoying raw tomatoes. I don't hate babies; I hate being sticky, and I'm convinced that's totally normal.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Hallowthankmas is almost over, but there's still time to squeeze in a few Christmas parties at work:


Last year Frosty had a dance number, but this year he settled for just hugging. I haven't decided if that was more or less creepy, but I had fewer nightmares this year, so I'm going with less.

We also had a children's choir this year:

children's choir

They were an improvement over last year's R&B singing staff member, who started out singing "I've Got Sunshine" before making a smooth transition into that perennial Christmas classic, "Let's Get it On", but they weren't really that good. They screamed along to taped music that had vocals on it, they couldn't clap together or on beat, and a few of them forgot what they were doing and wandered off the stage during the songs. I applauded politely, but refused to stand when the rest of the room decided to give them an ovation.

Jeannie tried to make me stand.

"Why aren't you standing?"

"They were awful."

"They're FOUR!"

"I clapped."

"They're only FOUR!"

"And? If you start rewarding them for mediocrity now, they'll expect it the rest of their lives. That's how we end up with run-away self-esteem based education and Generation Me kids with overinflated feelings of entitlement."


Whatever. I know I'm right. Clapping was generous, but an ovation was ludicrous based on that performance.

I was still feeling the sting of the Scrooge label at the grocery store, though, so I remembered seeing Ina Garten make chocolate bark a couple weeks ago on the Food Network and decided I would whip up some Christmas candy for "Top Chef" night. I haven't worked with chocolate, really, since doing it as a kid with mom a couple decades ago, but it didn't look that hard on TV.

I got white chips, chocolate chips (which I ended up not using), and a container of fruitcake fruit (cherries, pineapple, and candied citrus peels) all diced up into small pieces:

candymaking supplies

The bag of chips said you could microwave them, but something went wrong there even though I did exactly what it said on the bag, and the chips in the measuring cup burned. Not having a double boiler, I set a stoneware bowl above a pot of boiling water, and started stirring and praying:

melting chips

It worked pretty quickly:

melted chocolate

When the chips were all melted, I poured the bowl onto a non-stick pizza pan, sprinkled on the fruit, and pressed it in a little so it wouldn't slide off. Then I stuck the whole thing in the freezer:

candy and fruit

When it was hardened up, I cut it into tiny chunks. I meant for them to be square, but it broke along its own lines, so I just went with it:

finished candy

Jeannie didn't seem to think I was Scrooge when she ate a whole bunch and took a bag home with her.

Monday, December 1, 2008

doll parts

antique doll

That's my grandmother's antique babydoll. At my grandparents' house, she sets it on one of the beds in the guest rooms, and Chester the cat goes up during the day and lays next to it. My parents and I, who each take a room, have a habit of moving the doll from room to room because it creeps us out and no one wants it on their bed.

You probably don't think that doll is all that creepy, but you're not looking close enough:

doll teeth

It has teeth.

And don't get me started on the eyes:

broken eye

Not only are they creepy, but it's one of those babies that the eyes close when you lay it down, so when you're moving it to the bed in dad's room, for example, the eyes roll up at you. I know it's my grandmother's cherished childhood toy, but that doll is nightmare inducing.

Doll exposure aside, my trip home wasn't bad. I didn't have to sit next to anyone on any of my plane rides, which was awesome, but I had US Airways for part of the trip and they charge you for soda and for having a suitcase, which is not awesome. It's still better than Northwest, though.

I landed in Albany, where they have some new art on display in the airport:

punchout camping

blue leaves

I had to fly in there because my parents were at the southern end of the state hunting in the beginning of the week, at camp:

porch view

The view of the Catskills from hunting camp's windows is amazing, as they wrap all the way around the first floor of the house, and it's also filled with antiques to stare at if, like me, you're not hunting and you get bored with your book:


pump organ pulls


Eventually we headed back upstate, so that they could keep hunting there. There wasn't really a lot of snow when I got there, because it rained for the whole first day, but then it got cold again, and the snow started.


It starts out with those cute cotton ball flakes, and you think it's sort of picturesque. Then it starts snowing a little harder:

penny watches the snow

Penny and I sat and watched it for a while, although Penny was mostly watching for birds. The snow stayed pretty steady for a while, coating the trees and covering up the bare spots the rain made:

back shed

By Friday morning, when we went to get an oil change for mom's car, it had progressed to full out blizzard and crushing snowfall:

lots of snow

That's one of the cars in the lot at the dealer. I don't see them making a lot of sales with nothing plowed and a foot and a half of snow on their cars, but that's just me.

I could be wrong, though. People buy all sorts of things that I think won't sell, like deer print Christmas stockings trimmed in safety orange fake fur:

hunting stocking

Only at Wal-Mart, people. Only at Wal-Mart.