Monday, December 30, 2002
You know how there's that recipe for fudge on the back of the jar of marshmallow fluff, and you probably think it makes nasty trailerpark fudge for people who don't know what good fudge tastes like? Well, I am happy to report that the fudge recipe on the jar of marshmallow fluff makes really good fudge! And you can bring it to parties and stuff, and people will ask you, how'd you make such good fudge, you can go on and on about how you need a really accurate candy thermometer and a good solid slab of marble for tempering and a knack for candymaking -- just to sound impressive. But really, all you do is boil down some sugar and marshmallow fluff and a few other minor ingredients and then stir in some chocolate. And you get really good fudge! Try it!

For some reason, I get all culinary-like around the new year. So in addition to fudge, I am going to make shrimp and spinach wontons and bring it all to my friend's gourmet potluck New Year's party. Last year I made a chocolate cake that took two days. Next year? Perhaps a nice boulliabase.

Sunday, December 29, 2002
So I was trying to configure my wireless router earlier, and it wasn't working. It's important to me that I do this, as it will allow me to piggyback on my neighbors' cable modem and free me from the mind numbingly glacial speeds of dial-up. My iBook would see the network, but I couldn't get it to work. So I called the company's tech support, and they said that in order to configure it, I should use a computer that is connected with a cable (i.e. one that isn't wireless). Tell me: what is the point of having a wireless router if you can't configure it wirelessly? I got frustrated and quit working on it for the day, but now I am thinking that I should just return it and get an Airport base station. They cost a lot more, but they practically configure themselves (wirelessly, I might add), and I won't have to deal with stupid tech support people from a stupid company that makes wireless routers that won't configure wirelessly! Yeesh. (Oh, and the Airport base stations look like cute little UFOs. A small detail, but nonetheless.)

In college, I took several semesters of Italian, and I remember hearing one of my professors go on and on about how much she loved melone e prosciutto, and how Americans don't understand how wonderful this simple dish can be, and how when she's home in Milan, she eats it all the time. Earlier this week, I got to try it at a classy Italian place, and I think I understand. It's just cantaloupe with thin slices of prosciutto ham draped over it, but the combination is truly benissimo.

Thursday, December 26, 2002
I realized that I never gave an update on the awful illness I had on Monday. It is the consensus of the medical professionals on my street that I had a classic case of salmonella poisoning. The bad thing about it is that I really felt like I was going to extrude all of my innards and die a gooey, horrible, vile-smelling death. The good thing about it is that as soon as all of the nastiness was out of my system, I felt fine (albeit thoroughly exhausted). In the process, I learned the importance of electrolytes and how being dehydrated can make your legs feel like they're being slowly pulled off. Interesting!

I got some fudge from my neighbor, and someone has been eating it! My roommate swears she hasn't had more than two pieces, but still, it's almost gone! See, this is why I need to live alone.

Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Spent most of today playing with my new toy: an Atari 10-in-1 system! I feel kind of stupid calling it a "system," since there's no actual console; it's just the joystick with ten games programmed inside of it, but it hooks right up to the television with a couple of RCA cables, and you turn it on and it's just like 1983! The graphics are crude, and the little kids on the street don't get why my friends and I are so enamored with these simple games with enormous pixels. And I forgot how addicting Breakout can be! There's a strange bit of irony here in that when I was a kid, I felt like the only person in the world without an Atari and therefore envied everyone else's. Now, I'm the only person I know who has an Atari, and everyone on my street is jealous of it. I still totally suck at all the games, but I'm gonna keep practicing so I can win the prize bag of candy at the next slumber party. Or something like that.

And so this is Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2002
Just a few days into my vacation, and I'm sick. I have either a violent case of stomach flu or a moderate case of food poisoning. I've puked so much, I can't even puke anymore...and I'll spare you the details about my remaining orafices. My whole body hurts, I keep going back and forth between sweats and chills, and I generally feel like all of my organs have been forcefully removed from my abdomen. This is supposed to be my time off! Is there no justice in the world?

Sunday, December 22, 2002
I am so in vacation mode right now, and as soon as I finish uploading this, I'm getting back on the couch for another hour or two of informercial madness! (Sometimes I think I really need cable.) But before I do, you should know that Gangs of New York was bloody and violent but also good bordering on almost great, and you should go see it, but you might want to see it in the afternoon because it's almost three hours.

Thursday, December 19, 2002
Did you ever have one of those days when you stop what you're doing and think to yourself, "I should watch more French movies"? Nah, me neither. But then today I stopped what I was doing and thought to myself, "How come I never stop what I'm doing and think to myself, 'I should watch more French movies'?" Instead of overthink it, I started watching Alphaville. Now I know why I don't have days when I stop what I'm doing and think to myself, "I should watch more French movies."

(FYI: I haven't seen many French movies, and I probably should not have started with Alphaville.)

After an awful day yesterday, today was much better! Work was less hectic, I got my annual doctor stuff out of the way, and two friends send me holiday gifts. I got a bottle of Pinot Grigio that I'm assuming is really good (the people who gave it to me know their wine, whereas I only pretend to know my wine) and a gift certificate for an Indian restaurant (yum!). And then after tomorrow, I have two weeks off. And I'm going for sushi tomorrow night and seeing the new Scorsese movie on Saturday and catching up on sleep all next week. My students think they're looking forward to winter break, but they're not nearly as excited as I am about it.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
So I'm watching tv with my roommate earlier when we start to hear a loud squeaking noise. It's a bat, and it's somewhere in the room. My roommate is deathly afraid of them, and so she goes and crouches in the corner. I am also afraid of them, though less so than she is, so I call my neighbors. Three of them come over, one with a pellet gun, and we all start looking for it, turning the couch over and moving furniture. Then I realize, my landlord should be helping, since it's her house and she's responsible for getting rid of "pests." So we call her. Her response? "I'm not going to do anything about your bat problem." Literally. That's what she said.

Needless to say, I am completely fucking pissed at her and would like to tie her to a splintery post and cover her with some kind of goo that is appealing to bats and just let them go to town on her. My bat problem? My bat problem? The most ironic thing here is that she consistently goes on and on and on about how much her houses mean to her, how they're important investments, blah blah fucking blah. So if it's such big goddamn investment, why is she letting untold numbers of bats shit inside the walls and ducts and do potentially bad structural damage? I could really fucking punch her right now.

We never found the bat, and if I catch it in the middle of the night and kill it, I'm putting it in a box and leaving it on her porch tomorrow morning. My bat problem? You've got to be joking.

I am moving in a month and it can't come too soon. (In the meantime, I am calling the city inspector tomorrow to see what we can do about this.)

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
I felt kind of blah yesterday, and didn't feel like doing much of anything except sit around and watch movies. So I caught up on some Woody Allen movies that I haven't seen and watched A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy and Mighty Aphrodite, both of which were good, both for different reasons, but neither of which were absolutely great. And contrary to the reviews I've read and comments I've gotten from friends, I liked Mighty Aphrodite better. I thought the neo-Shakespearean "spirits of the night" theme in MNSC was a little hokey, whereas I found the mock-Greek drama aspect of MA clever. Whatever.

After Friday, I have two weeks off!

Sunday, December 15, 2002
My mother has pointed out that my post yesterday suggested that I have a bad work ethic. I meant to suggest nothing of the sort. I do not stay home from work unless I am severly ill. Like can't walk or can't leave the bathroom ill. When I'm sick, I med up and go to work. So...yeah.

Saturday, December 14, 2002
As a incentive for not skipping work, my employer gives its employees who have perfect attendance for one year, from December 1 to December 1, a bonus of $250. I get so much comp time at my job over the summer (when I'm supposed to be off) that I qualify for this bonus, even though I've missed four or five days of work. We got our checks yesterday, and while I'm happy about this padding on my bank account, I can't help but think that my employer got the better end of the deal. I get 13 sick days a year. 13! The value of that time is worth way more than $250. Now I'm reconsidering my time vs. money values for this coming year. Although, where I work is not in the same building (or city, technically) as the business's main administration, so even if I were sick and had to stay home, my coworkers would cover for me and make sure that HR didn't know I was out. So maybe I can get both.

Friday, December 13, 2002
Last night I shopped for holiday presents for friends. This afternoon I have busied myself with wrapping them, and I have to say, I am quite good at wrapping gifts. I fold down the rough edges and get the corners neat and everything. Sometimes I even make a bow out of the leftover strips of wrapping paper. I must have the best-wrapped presents in the world. I really think I could do this professionally. Like at Macy's or something. Even the Macy's in Herald Square. No, really. I'm that good.

(N.B.: I am, of course, kidding. Who wants to be a professional gift wrapper? They do look nice, though. I should start wrapping things I buy for myself, just to make them seem more special somehow.)

Update: The hives are slowly going away. Yay hydrocortizone.

Thursday, December 12, 2002
I seem to have broken out in hives all over one side of my forehead. This happens to me from time to time if I'm really stressed out, but I haven't been lately, and they're kind of bad, so I'm confused. When this happens in the summer, I can usually sun them away in a few hours, but that doesn't work in Michigan in December. I've already gone through like half a tube of hydrocortizone, but I think they're actually getting worse. The weird thing is that I'm more concerned about how disgusting they look than how they got there in the first place. I look like I either walked into a stucco wall or got on the business end of a fist. Yucky.

In other news, I just bought myself a bed frame. I figured it was time to get the mattress and box spring off the floor and up into the grown-up strata. (Plus, I have a bunch of crap that I want to put under the bed, and if the bed's on the floor, there is no under the bed.) I bought the plain, $25 kind of frame that adjusts to fit all mattress sizes; I didn't want anything fancy or expensive. On the box, it says that the frame will adjust to fit twin, full, queen, king, and California king bed sizes. I've never heard of a California king bed, but here's what I think it is: a huge bed that costs way too much and is surrounded in smog, and in a few years one piece breaks off and separates from the main bed to become its own very small bed. Most celebrities have one. Everyone wants to sleep in one at least once. Some people want to sleep in one once a year. Everyone talks about how nice it is to sleep in one, but most people don't own one because they can be kind of flaky. But you should really sleep in one at least once. Just to say you have.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
CQ was great! It didn't get much of a theatrical release, and now that I think about it, there aren't that many copies of it at my local video rental place, but boy is it good! It's Roman Coppola's first film (yes, that Coppola); it's about a film editor in 1969 who's working on a cheesy sci-fi movie and trying to create a documentary film about his own boring life. All of the cool elements of bad '60s science fiction are in it; some of the sets look like they're right out of one of Kubrick's films. And the different film grains on the different parts of the movie were nice to look at. It's especially interesting if you're familiar with the filmmaking process (or want to be familiar with it), as opposed to the current digital state of filmmaking: lots of close-ups of an old school Steenbeck editor and shots of Jeremy Davies cutting film. All in all, very good and recommended. Oooh, oooh, I know -- pick this up with Scotland, PA and a big box of Junior Mints for a fun at-home double feature. I am just full of good ideas.

Monday, December 9, 2002
I had read a lot about Haruki Marukami in grad school -- the best Japanese novelist since I'm not sure who and praise like that. So last night I finished reading Sputnik Sweetheart. I always go in skeptical knowing that a particular author is some critics' darling, and while it wasn't the best book I've ever read, I have to say that it was very good. I liked the minimalist tone and the overall lonliness about it, as well as the writing in general (although it's in translation, so I don't know how much of that is Murakami's style and how much is the translator's influence).

Sunday, December 8, 2002
Scotland, PA is definitely worth renting. I saw it advertised last March on a poster outside a movie theatre in Ann Arbor, but it never made it to Kalamazoo. It didn't make much of a splash at theatres anywhere (most Sundance-y films don't), but I thought it was dark and clever (as some Sundance-y films are). It's Shakespeare's MacBeth at a burger stand in 1970 Pennsylvania -- and it actually works. All the actors are good, espcially Christopher Walken as a vegetarian, movitational tape-listening MacDuff. It was fun to watch as a movie in and of itself, but then watching how the Shakespeare story was pieced together was great. Recommended, especially if you're familiar with the Scottish play.

Have you ever tried to eat a pomegranate? What a total pain in the ass.

Saturday, December 7, 2002
Today is my 28th birthday, and so far I have spent most of it in the local megastore treating myself to some everyday things. I got a new set of flannel sheets and a flannel comforter (on sale, of course), a tray of sushi out of the cooler for lunch, and some Asian pears, pomegranates, and clementines from the fruit section. On one hand, I'm a little disappointed that this is satisfying enough for me on my birthday, and that I don't have to go out and down half a dozen Jell-o shots and four White Russians to feel like I'm having a good birthday. But on the other hand, I won't be hung over tomorrow, and I'll have new sheets.

Saw Analyze That last night. I was looking forward to it but it wasn't so good. One or two funny jokes, but for the most part the movie was slow and stale. I am hoping that Billy Crystal and Mr. Deniro move on to other projects and don't make a third movie playing these same characters (surely to be called Analyze The Other).

Thursday, December 5, 2002
I'm slowly getting into Korean food. It's freezing here, and it's probably freezing where you are, since it's freezing everywhere north of Miami. A steaming bowl of tofu chigae (spicy soup with -- guess what? -- tofu) is wonderful for warming up.

(I have just realized that this is my second consecutive post about soup. I must find other things to write about.)

Some friends of mine just completed a documentary about the School of Americas Watch, and I saw the premiere earlier this evening. It was quite good, and I'm sorry that they don't have a website toward which I can point you. But you can always learn about the basic ideas of the institution, now called WHISC, and the organization against it from the SOAW site. One of the more interesting protest posters from the video read, "Killing one person is murder. Killing 10,000 people is foreign policy." You know how it is.

Tuesday, December 3, 2002
Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between clam chowder and cream of potato. Especially when your tastebuds are sore from too many gas station instant lattes and the yellowish flourescent lighting in the rest stop is making everything look dull. All you can do is stare into your paper cup of chunky white plasma and try to remember if the sign in front of the industrial crockpot from which you ladled it really said clam chowder. You wanted it to say clam chowder, but now you're not so sure. This is supposed to be clam chowder, you assure yourself. I wouldn't have bought cream of potato, because what's the point? It's slimy and boring, and all that starch and milkfat isn't worth the calories without the taste of clams. But there aren't any clams in the cup. It doesn't even taste like clams. All you see are potatoes. And they're bland.

Monday, December 2, 2002
Home was good. The actual trip was not. I've told the story to several people today, so I'm not in the mood to do it again right now. I'll get into details in the next few days. However, the time I spent on the road over the holiday weekend, along with the time I've spent on the road during other road trips, has prompted me to compose the following. (Ahem.)

Open Letter to All Male Truckers: It's me. You know me. Don't pretend you don't. Sort of cute, dark ponytail -- the one in the little green Honda. Yeah. Me. Stop honking at me. Oh, don't act so innocent. You honk at me all the time, and I've seen you honk at other women on the road. I know you think it's fun, and honestly, if I were male and I had your job, I might rely on honking at women to pass the time. After all, you probably don't get much attention on the road, and you might be willing to take it any way you can get it. But I don't have your job, and so I can't really sympathize. Sure, you think it's all great when I turn to look at you, but honey, I'm not doing it because I think you're hot. In fact, I'm not even remotely attracted to you. That vest is filthy, and those foam-front baseball caps aren't my thing. Don't get me started on the facial hair.

I turn to look at you when you honk because it startles me. I'm driving along, minding my own business, and then HONK! When someone honks his or her horn at me, I assume it's because I've done something wrong that has annoyed him or her. I don't make a habit of cutting people off or going ten below the speed limit in the left lane, but sometimes I start singing along with the song on my iPod and I'll do something like that. If that happens, honk at me. I deserve it. I'll even float you an apology wave if I know I messed up. But do not honk at me because you find me attractive. I will not, under any conditions, have sex with you. I will not take one hand off the wheel and lift up my shirt up for you. I will not find your methods of garnering my attention at all charming. I will not pull over at the next rest stop to give you my number. I won't even smile at you, even though you have a dumb grin on your face. When you honk at me, all you are doing is making me take my eyes off the road. This is dangerous. You spend a lot of time on the road and should therefore know this. Think of all the women you have honked at in the past week. That's a lot of women who have temporarily been distracted from their primary task by your juvenile behavior. No wonder men complain that women are bad drivers -- you won't let us focus on driving!

Look: I think the profession you have chosen is a noble one. I have nothing against you personally. I do appreciate it when you slow down or change lanes so I can safely merge onto the freeway. Those silhouette mudflaps are a little tasteless, but it's your truck. I do, however, take issue with your unnecessary honking. So next time you are driving and you see an attractive female driving next to you, please consider how unsafe it is, please realize that the effect it has is probably the direct opposite of what you had hoped, and please understand how in-cre-dib-ly fuck-ing an-noy-ing it is. Thank you. That is all.

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