02 December 2006

Shadow boxing

Mr Stapler and I used to live next to this crankypants nutjob, Tim, who had, according to other neighbors, been a nice guy until his wife left him 10 years before, at which time he decided to take his heartache out on the rest of the world by being a jerk at every opportunity.

One of Tim's pet peeves was barking dogs. Thankfully, Goldie was not much of a yapper. But the beagle down the street met with Tim's frequent ire. The dog would start that stupid baying that beagles do and Tim would yell "Stop barking! Stop barking!"

You can guess how much good that did.

Today is the Big Game, So Cal style. USC and UCLA meet for their annual football match. If you are a rich BMW-driving dick, you usually root for USC, or as we of the proletariat like to call it, the University of Spoiled Children. State-college types hope for the brave Bruins of UCLA to put a stop to USC's juggernaut.

I don't really care, to tell the truth. But the game is on and it is a fine So Cal afternoon, warm and breezy and all the windows are open (sorry, Chicago). The guy behind me has chosen this opportunity to try and mow his grass with his temperamental old lawnmower. He starts it with a roar and in a cloud of blue smoke and manages to mow for a minute or two before it conks out again.

Of course the neighbor on the left is going apeshit. "Turn that shit off!!" he yells, while the mower is blasting.

Then it dies and he is quiet. Then it roars again and "Turn that shit off!" always the same phrase, over and over again.

I don't suppose it would occur to him to walk over and speak to the guy. Especially when the mower is off. No, that would be too simple.

I just hope no one gets shot.

Speaking of stupidity, my landlord came over because I was complaining that the door on my 1947 O'Keefe and Merritt stove (love it) won't shut tight and it takes forever to bake anything and the kitchen gets soooo hot. He could fix it if he bought a part, but that would take money and the one thing my landlord loathes above all is spending a buck.

"I had this same problem," he said. "It's going to sound strange, but maybe we could fix it the way I fixed mine."

He wanted to wedge a board between my oven door and the wall. This would require a six-foot length of board that would bisect my kitchen.

I looked at him, stunned. "That ain't gonna happen," I said.

I'm still shaking my head about it. Wedge a board between the oven and the wall. Every single time I wanted to bake something. Yikes.

As Mr Stapler would say "That's not the cowboy way."

01 December 2006

Entertain me

We saw Charles Phoenix last night. He is a bit of a Los Angeles institution, a real local treasure.

His shtick is this: he collects other people's old slides and puts on a narrated show that is part mid-century history, part catty comedy routine. He picks the weirdest and most wonderful slides - many of people living it up with lots of cigarettes, booze and aluminum Christmas trees - and points out all the little funky details you might have missed.

For instance, was every U.S. home required to have a ruffled lampshade in the 50s and 60s? And all that wood paneling! Future generations need to know about these things and to learn from our mistakes!

If you are in the L.A. area, check out his shows. I guarantee that you will not be disappointed.

Anyway, here's Charles himself, preparing a little holiday treat that you might like to make for your guests:

29 November 2006

Nibble nibble nibble

Update: I broke down and bought a light box to try and cure my seasonal depression. They have cute little ones now. I had been imagining a Major Home ApplianceTM type of thing, so finding that there are small makeup mirror-sized ones pleased me greatly.

It was Mir's comment that talked me into it. She is my ultimate arbiter of all things Sane and Good. I figure if she can be chic and fabulous and raise 2 kids on a freelancer's salary, well, I have to trust her completely.

I will let you know how it goes.

Tim Cahill is not only one of my favorite travel writers, but he also has some of the best all-time book titles. A Wolverine is Eating My Leg,Jaguars Ripped My Flesh, and my all-time favorite Pecked to Death by Ducks.

"Pecked to Death by Ducks" just so perfectly describes how I often feel. Not hurting, not in deep trouble - just worn down by the thousand tiny bites life takes out of me every day. Today, of course, was one of those days.

First, it was cold. Boo hoo, I know - it's winter, right? But I protest! I am a fourth-generation Californian and my people did not move here to be cold. I do not pay extra to live here and put up with this. AND it was windy - a ripping 50 mph windstorm that kicked up all kinds of dust and trash and just generally made life kinda sucky. I went outside and ended up with dirt in my teeth. Ech.

Second, my Mac laptop decided to lay down and die. Not all the way, just the video board. Which is also the logic board. Which is $300 and 5 days of repair time.

Here's what happened: my Mac caught me looking at other Macs. Yes, I was online at the Apple Store looking at new laptops, just looking but my Mac caught me and we had a big fight and soon enough, my Mac's display turned into these freaky little colored bars and then went to black. True story.

So I went to the Apple store in the mall and the cute young acne-faced boy helped me. Within 2 seconds, he had accessed my records, ALL my records, of everything that has ever been done to my Mac.

Here is what I want: I want Apple to start a cell phone company, because when I go to the Nextel store, they claim that there is no way on earth they can access my records unless I did the transaction with them AT THAT PARTICULAR STORE AND IF I KNEW WHICH CASH REGISTER IT HAD GONE THROUGH. It's like the computer age never touched Nextel. I think my calling records are probably stored on 3x5 cards and written in pencil. Sigh. Anyway.

The other thing was that one of my tires were dangerously underinflated and I went to FIVE gas stations before I found one with a working air pump. And there's nothing I love more to do with a dangerously underinflated tire than to drive around a lot, looking for something.

And the dog was sick. When I was at the Apple store, my mom called in a panic, telling me to get home asap. I had had a nice evening planned with Mr Stapler. Peck, peck.

Like I am going to be able to somehow stop the dog from having digestive issues by my mere presence. But what am I going to say - "Mom - YOU deal with it." Goldie IS my dog, after all...

I at least got to have dinner with Mr Stapler. I got to his house he had a glass of wine poured and dinner on the stove. What a guy. And then I had to leave right away to go fetch the hound.

So now you are saying, "But Suebob - you don't have a computer. How is it possible that you are writing a blog post??"

Well, let me tell you. Mr Stapler, that's how. He lent me his shiny new Dell laptop. What a nice man. It was the best thing that had happened to me all day.

Forget all the bad stuff I have been saying about him. He's really all right. He made me feel much, much less pecked to death by ducks.

27 November 2006

And proud of it

Apparently I AM a B-list blogger for reals:

B-List Blogger

Click the graphic, scroll down, enter your url and find out how you stand.


About a month ago, Mr Stapler brought me a brochure for Wellbutrin for seasonal affective disorder. Very funny, ha ha, we all know how I hate the dark days of winter.

Or maybe it's not such a big joke. There has got to be a reason that Thanksgiving is always the beginning of an annual tailspin. Melancholy, tired, numb. I moved out from his house last year at this time.

I don't want to talk to anyone, do anything. I feel like I am wrapped in fuzzy dense wool. It is 8:20 pm and I am thinking of crawling in bed.

Arg. I don't want to take Wellbutrin OR sit in front of a light box. I suppose moving to Australia for a few months is my only hope. Or Argentina, where I could mess with my Mexican Spanish. I will check on plane tickets. As soon as I manage to wake up a little.

26 November 2006

Movie review: Stranger than Fiction

My friends and I saw "Stranger Than Fiction" last night. I had been wanting to see it ever since Des highly recommended it. From Des's blogging, I know we have the same taste in many things - cats (tabby), co-workers (silent or non-existent) and jewelry (handmade). So I figured I could trust her on movies, and I was right.

I don't think this will be a popular movie, though. Like "Adaptation," this is a thinky comedy, not a laugh-out-loud comedy. Will Ferrell plays the lead with a perfect bland blankness. Emma Thompson sort of annoyed me with her neurotic novelist routine, but maybe I'm just sensitive at how writers are portrayed.

But Dustin Hoffman slayed me. It was obvious that he was having a ball with the part, and it was just so much fun to watch him go.

It's not a movie you "get" all at once. All day today, little realizations have been bubbling up to the surface and delighting me. Those are the kind of movies I like and am willing to shell out the $9.50 for the privilege of seeing on the big screen.

In other movie news, I watched "The Lake House" and "Therese" this weekend on DVD.

"The Lake House" was ok, despite being one of those time-travel things that make me scratch my head and have to try and count on my fingers..."ok, he was back then and she was in the future but he met her but how could he have met her because it was 2 years before..." Time-travel always messes with my head.

My sister saw it too and she agreed that if she started getting magic letters from the past or future in HER mailbox, there would be a lot more "Holy Cats!" and "What the Hell?" and general yelling going on before she started just standing there calmly mailing letters through time like Keanu and Sandra Bullock did.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, no, Keanu has NOT learned to act his way out of a paper bag yet.

And "Therese"? I rented it because I have always been fascinated with St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower of Jesus. For a non-Catholic, my love of some saints (Anthony, the Simeon Stylites) is pretty strange. But it is easy to like St. Therese, with her simple, beautiful message of love and devotion.

So I rented the movie, which is less a dramatic piece than a press release for Catholicism. Total waste of time. Therese is little and pious and good. Her family is pious and good. Then she grows a bit older and is pious and good. Then she gets sick and is pious and good.

Her sister goes to a convent, which is good news for the pious and good family. Are you sensing a theme?

Anyway, after about 40 minutes of total piousness and goodness, I turned it off to watch the cutthroat bastards on Top Chef, which is not, unlike Therese, approved by the Vatican. But the plot is a lot stronger.
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