I'm prettier than you are.
Tuesday, 30 September 2003
Eating My Words

My food repertoire has been peppered with various parts of speech. I've eaten nouns (pudding, soup), verbs (shake, roll), and adjectives (crisp, tart). But I'd never tried an adverb, until this:

Pop sensation Idly and the Condiments, taking five

It's called idly, and it's Indian, and I tried it at Guru, which I recently mentioned in connection with PQ2003. It's pronounced "EED-lee", but that doesn't stop it, in print, from looking like an adverb. I can't compare it to any other adverbs as far as taste goes, so I won't describe it. I will let you know once I try "succinctly" and "freely", the next two adverbs on my to-do list.

You'd think that a dish whose name is identical to an adverb related to inactivity wouldn't be so much fun, but believe me, when it gets together with those condiments, you've never seen such a party. Idly doesn't sit idly by and watch the fun go by, no. It's more fun than Josie and the Pussycats, Herman's Hermits, and the Osmonds (Plus Jimmy), all wrapped up in two little lumps of fun fun fun!

So, really, what's in a name? Nothing!

And what's on that plate? All kinds of crazy!

fresh-baked at 02:52 PM
Save me a seat!

Excuse me while I don't run not walk to the theater (or theatre for those of you with British wannabe aspirations/pretensions) to watch Cuba Gooding Jr. star as some sort of "special person" in Radio, which, from the trailers alone, promises to be the most woefully embarrassing "feel good" movie of the season. I'm not a big fan of the "feel good" movie. Not into the pappy snappy sappy happy endings. Happy is crappy, especially when it comes with a preachy little message about how special people can teach us things we never thought we needed to learn.

If I'm going to spend $10 to feel good, I'll just take my roll of quarters to a peep show somewhere, I will. Oh yes I will. Or maybe take that roll of quarters to the Gap near Times Square and let the cashier try to cheat me out of 75 cents 13.33333333 (continuing) times. (Yes, there's a story there, which I hinted at yesterday, and which I promise I'll tell you sometime if you beg. Prettily. That's right. Prettily. Just like that. On your knees, in your schoolgirl uniform, making sure to dirty just those knees and not the socks pulled up to them. Yesssss.) Or go to a laundromat and slide some quarters in the slot for the privilege of watching small children tumble dry. (Tip: Keep the setting on LOW for children under the age of 3.)

Anything not to have to watch Radio.

As for my taste in movies, well, I'm just waiting for this season's romantic comedy starring a pair of attractive people who, by some fluke of cosmic karmic timing, manage to find their lives intersecting, much to their chagrin because they're from opposite sides of the political or philosophical or socio-economic coin. Oh, and of course because he's a man and she's a woman, and we all know how wacky that can be, what with different ways of communicating and stuff. It's all worth it for the surprise ending, where, by some great grand miracle of mishap, and despite all those seemingly insurmountable odds, they wind up together, embracing their differences and each other.

Save me a seat for these blockbusters, kids. A seat in the ladies room, where this crap belongs! Wee!

fresh-baked at 10:29 AM
Monday, 29 September 2003
The Usual


I could tell you about my day, I could. I could tell you of Pilates and boots and how groovy I felt wearing a new pair of pants. How I need a haircut and want to change stylists. I could tell you about the other day, when a cashier at the Gap near Times Square tried to cheat me out of 75 cents. I could tell you of the books I read, the subways I took, the stories I wrote, the dances I tapped, the lunches I ate. I could tell you so many things that piss me off and so many things that don't. I could tell you what my mom and I talked about on the phone (because contrary to what you may have learned from Sex and the City, girls here actually do have moms and talk to them) this weekend. How I ran in the rain yesterday and probably sounded like a lunatic as I "awwww"d every single dog I encountered.

But I won't. I'll just go to bed now. All those things I won't write about, well, they wore me out. But tomorrow I may tell you something more detailed. Or maybe I'll just say "ditto", like Patrick Swayze in Ghost.

Who knows.

fresh-baked at 09:48 PM
Sunday, 28 September 2003
A Big Ol' Softie, After All

Here's a wild confession:

Although I can't even imagine poking my finger through the face of the Cottonelle puppy when opening a new four-pack of toilet paper*, I have absolutely no problem jabbing my finger through the face of the Charmin baby.

*This is a big step for me. I detest the words "toilet paper" (together, not separately, although I'm not crazy about "toilet" ... "paper", however, causes no trauma), but am gradually learning how to introduce it into polite conversation without suffering a grand mal seizure. Although I am not crazy about "toilet paper" (the words, not the actual item), I will not relieve myself of saying it by substituting "toilet tissue", "T.P.", or "shit tickets", the last of which makes me cringe so thoroughly that my bones shatter upon the mere mention.

fresh-baked at 11:50 PM
Egg Me On

My brother recently took me to lunch at a sweet little place called Mangiarini on the Upper East Side. As is customary with my brother, lunch was three hours long and an absolute hoot. He drinks wine, which only makes him even more hilarious than he ordinarily is. He likes appetizers. Big entrees. Dessert. And he pays. He's the perfect gentleman, and doesn't even try anything funny under the table, even when there are long tablecloths and I'm wearing a short skirt.

The menu offered only one item that was in keeping with my relative veganism. As I've said before, I don't do dairy, but I make an exception with saag paneer at Indian restaurants. And if a cookie has egg or butter in it, who am I to refuse? So I had crescia (grilled unleavened bread) with spinach, roasted tomatoes and white bean puree, which although out of this world, hovered long enough in this world to make it into my hands and into my stomach, where it was welcomed warmly. (Oddly enough, I did not photograph it. This means I will have to return sometime soon to do so.)

I'd made a promise to my brother, however, to try something on the menu that wasn't within the vegan realm but was the reason for our going to Mangiarini in the first place. My brother likes to "hate" me for not eating sushi anymore and for not participating in calamari with marinara sauce, so, with him egging me on, I decided to just try what he recommended so heartily. It was some sort of flat bread topped with arugula, ham (prosciutto, I think), and fried egg. He'd forgotten about the ham, so I was a bit put off when the dish arrived, but thrilled that the egg was fried enough that it didn't look too eggy. He apologized for the ham (such a polite fellow), which I just lifted off with my fork (and fingers, because I'm a classy broad) and put on his plate. Thus denuded of ham, I lifted the flat bread to my lips, and, without holding my breath, allowed the egg-topped concoction to enter.

I must confess that it wasn't as revolting as I'd thought, but I still could not get over the fact that I'd eaten eggs (unbornbabychickensunbornbabychickens). Not as an ingredient in something else, but as themselves, plain and simple. Later that night, as I lay in bed recalling the experience, I felt a strange rumbling in my stomach. "Oh no," I thought. "I knew I'd get sick from the eggs. I knew I shouldn't have succumbed to peer pressure. Damn it, he's just my brother. It's not like I had to, like, impress him or else he wouldn't ask me out again!"

I hiccupped once. Then twice. And then, on the third time, it sounded like this! I suppose this is what happens when you don't want your brother to think you're a chicken: you turn into one instead. I do not want to even think about what would have happened had I eaten the ham. I'm having visions of me onstage as Buddy Hackett.

(One good thing about this whole thing, though, is that the DOG wakes up very early in the morning, so we don't have to employ someone special to feed me.)

fresh-baked at 10:14 AM
Friday, 26 September 2003

So it's the Jewish New Year. The year: 5764. I would celebrate, but I don't do that. I acknowledge the Jewish New Year much as I do the standard, regular, run-of-the-mill New Year, the one with all the auld lang syning and drunkenness and pathetic desperate overpriced parties on cruise boats down the river or at hotels the revelers would never otherwise set foot or ass in, i.e. I lift my eyes from whatever I'm doing, look over at whomever's closest to me wherever I am, and mumble "Happy New Year". So yeah. Happy New Year. Woo. Hah.

Jewish people I don't know in real life are sending me e-mail wishes of "Shanah Tovah", and that's all just so very nice indeed. But I am a bad Jew, well-wishers. I know very little about this holiday, except that it's a big one and that I linked to information about it last year. I meant to check it out to see what the hubbub was about, but I forgot.

All I know is that this holiday is one where we eat. And I think bread's included.

And that, my dear friends, is reason enough to celebrate.

I have eaten a soy yogurt (cherry) with Zoe flax cereal (almond oats) and a banana today. And an iced coffee. These are not the traditional Rosh Hashanah offerings, but they will have to do. I do not risk venturing outside, because I do not want to be stoned (and here's where the really hip among you wink at one another and think of your bongs, man) by better Jews on the streets who know, just by looking at my confused punim, that I have no idea what's going on.

Happy 5764. Enjoy a nice apple slice, and be careful driving. If you must, hire a chauffeur. (And here is where I bow out now, before I say something naughty about a shofar, like I did in 5763.)

fresh-baked at 02:07 PM
Thursday, 25 September 2003
Cheers for Paneer

Lest you fret because you think Kyria and I have abandoned PaneerQuest2003, please allow me to assure you that our project is still in full force and effect. We are not quitters.

Indeed, our third and fourth sojourns, to Indian Pavilion last month and to Guru just over a week ago, yielded some very fine and personable saag paneer. Although paneer is not particularly photogenic, it is not camera shy, and actually likes to mug and goof around when its photo is being taken. For instance, when told to "say cheese", it insists on saying "paneer" and winking with its customary good humor. However, I regret to inform you that although the last two paneer tastings have been successful, the photographs have not. I hasten to add that the fault lies not with the dish itself but with the photographer, who for some reason cannot get a clear shot of paneer to save her life. (She is being executed tomorrow at dawn.)

When we went to Guru, we were tempted to stray from our path and try the buffet. However, we stuck to our original plan, and answered the restaurant owner's invitation to try it with chants of, "We're HERE, for PANEER ... get USED to it!" We decided that the next time we went out for Indian food, we would try the buffet. After all, Kyria and I are nothing if not adventurous and downright kooky.

So today was the day. Today we returned to Guru to try the $5.95 all-you-can-eat-but-if-you-want-to-retain-some-semblance-of-propriety-don't-go-up-more-than-two-times-you-beast buffet. I have railed (not here, but in real life) against buffets many times, but sometimes I like to ignore myself and avail myself of their bounty anyway. I was comforted in a small way by the sign at one end of the buffet advising people to use a new plate each time. Check out the groovy compartmented plate/tray that added a touch of TV dinner fantasy to the experience:

"Sure this is mad fun," I said to Kyria, "but where's the brownie and corn?"

I couldn't decide which item deserved center stage, so a pakora of some sort wound up stealing the spotlight and wowed everyone in the restaurant with a marvelous, show-stopping rendition of "What I Did For Love" from A Chorus Line!

I burned my hand on the right side of the tray, where I had deposited something piping hot. But apparently the part of my brain responsible for short-term memory suffered as well, because within seconds of the first burn, I managed to burn my hand again ... not once, not twice, but three more times. Such an overachiever!

I yelped, causing this dog, who was waiting outside for her dad, to look around for kin:


I did not eat all I could, but I still had a very nice time. If I were the sort to rate places by thumbs, I'd give it two of them, up, with one burned and in need of a skin graft.

India Pavilion — 33 West 13th Street
Guru — 338 East Sixth Street

To see more photos of this adorable dog, another dog I photographed today, and many others from previous days, visit my Dogabout gallery.

fresh-baked at 10:47 PM
Wednesday, 24 September 2003
A Few Words About Reading

Unless your age is in the single digits and you are just learning how not to be illiterate, please refrain from moving your lips while reading or using your finger to underline each word as you wend your scary way across the page. These activities are only acceptable if there is the possibility that you may still wet your bed, need someone to cut your meat, aren't tall enough to ride the bumper cars alone — and your age is in the single digits. I stress that last item because I know the other three criteria may apply to some "special" adults and your poor little Aunt Lily in Carson City. (Would it hurt you to visit her sometime?)

So please, if you're still young enough to be amazed that "tough" and "although" and "through" don't rhyme, then by all means, move your lips while you sound out the words. Touch each word as you do so. But otherwise? No.

P.S. This does not apply to illiterate adults or immigrants learning a new language. Those people should be commended for managing to avoid being killed in traffic because they can't differentiate between WALK and DO NOT WALK.*

*Country Bumpkins: You may not get this reference. That is sad for you. But I am proud of you for being able to read at all. Kudos!

fresh-baked at 08:52 PM
Lip Tip

Yesterday I had the great honor and privilege of being in the same room as Tammy Faye Messner. You may remember her as Tammy Faye Baker. You most certainly remember that several years ago, her mascara was put to the test and all the world learned that her particular brand was not waterproof.

Well, that's all changed now. Tammy Faye Baker may not have known waterproof from 80 proof, but Tammy Faye Messner does. And she's back and better than ever with her new book, "I Will Survive ... And You Can, Too!". I happen to have a copy.

Although I have not read the book ... yet ... I can give you one little word of advice that she tipped her captive audience to yesterday: Always apply lipstick before leaving the house. It shows you care.

So I leave you with this tip as I leave the apartment now for Pilates and the gym. I thought you should know before you leave your own houses, apartments, and huts this morning. Just in case you were thinking about going out sans lipstick. As for me? Well, I am wearing a touch of lipgloss. I don't know if that imparts the same message as lipstick does, but ... I don't care!

P.S. Ms. Messner now wears waterproof mascara. Something by L'Oreal. (But is she really worth it?)

fresh-baked at 07:48 AM
Tuesday, 23 September 2003
Wardrobe Change


If you haven't already noticed on your own, please allow me to direct your lazy attention to the cartoon likeness of me at the top of this page, which I have changed from the summertime, tank-top sportin' Jodi to the original "Classic Jodi".

Classic Jodi is the turtleneck-wearing Jodi. The jaunty Jodi. The Jodi whose laughter is as crisp as the newly fallen leaves through which she romps prettily in her kicky boots because now it is autumn (or "fall", for the monosyllabic among you) — a season that has always been her favorite, even when it was tainted with the hideous reality of "Back to School".

Today is the first day of the new season, in case you haven't noticed. And I don't care if the temperature and the humidity still haven't gotten their fat asses out of summer — from today on out, I'm going to strut down Broadway in sweaters and boots, waving an old-fashioned college pennant and cradling a pumpkin in my arms like a newborn baby.

*   *   *

Remember:  Pumpkins are precious, and not for smashing, despite what that insipid rock 'n' roll band and Gallagher will have you believe.

fresh-baked at 04:47 PM
Monday, 22 September 2003

So handsome!

This weekend, wedged in between all the rest of the excitement and hullabaloo, I did something completely unorthodox: I found Jesus! Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Son of God peering patiently from behind a plate glass window on 14th Street. (I refuse to divulge the exact location, because it is up to each individual to make this discovery on his own.)

However, now that the excitement has abated, I'm beginning to doubt my claim. I'm thinking maybe I didn't find Jesus at all. Maybe I found Barry Gibb.

Either way, not too shabby.

fresh-baked at 11:24 AM
Sunday, 21 September 2003
This too shall glass

Forgive me if I am a bit reserved and decide to sit off to the side with a flimsy paper plate on my lap, barely touching the Swedish meatballs that I spooned onto it earlier in the day in a brief yet significant lapse into something akin to insanity. Forgive me if I just sort of prod them with my plastic fork (does Evelyn save these to reuse, or do we just toss them with our paper plates?) absent-mindedly and wonder how they got there in the first place, because I haven't eaten meat in 24 years and if I were going to all of a sudden start eating meat again, on some sort of madcap whim, it certainly wouldn't be goyishe Swedish meatballs, no.

Forgive me also for crashing this party, whatever the occasion and wherever it is. How did I even get here to this part of New Jersey I never knew existed? Is it true I really took a PATH train and you picked me up in your new Toyota Camry that's not new new (it's a 1999 model) but to you it's new and that's all that counts? (By the way, who are you?) I'm just glad I happened to have a foil-covered pan of kugel in my purse so I didn't arrive empty-handed. And I'm glad everyone seems to be enjoying it, even if they're all mispronouncing "kugel" and have no idea what it is.

You see, I'm just a bit off today. For today is the day I replaced the glass that met its untimely demise last week. Today is bittersweet. Today I hand-picked a replacement — my doctor and mother urge me not to think of it as a replacement, though, but as a unique entity with an identity all its own — from among those arranged in a precarious display at Pier 1. Today I inspected as many glasses of its kind that I possibly could without jeopardizing the integrity of the setup. That was a risk I wasn't ready to take. Not so soon. Not so soon.

The glasses are "mouthblown" (any other day I would be compelled to wink at the audience like Mr. Roper upon mentioning this term, but today I am not feeling so capricious, and I hope you understand, and I know you do, because you're like that), so there were variations in the red swirls. Variations in color, density, texture, and form. Although a less sensitive person would say, "Oh, they're all the same ... just pick one and let's get out of here and go to Loehmann's already!", I took my time and selected the one glass that resembled the dead glass the most.

The glass is home now. It is on the counter. I removed it from its protective paper wrapping and set it there hours ago. I have not yet removed its price tag or washed it. It has not met the other glasses in the cabinet. I most certainly have not used it. I have not gone so far as to wrap it in a warm blanket and lie it next to a ticking clock inside a wicker basket so it feels like it's next to its mama. I'm not, after all, off my rocker.

I am, however, aware that it will be quite some time before I am able to use this glass without remembering all the good times I shared with its predecessor. I don't know how long it will be before I am able to drink from this glass without saying to whomever is witnessing it, "This is the glass I bought to replace the other one that I killed that time when I was young and impatient," but eventually that day will come. It will come.

fresh-baked at 07:52 PM
Saturday, 20 September 2003
On Location

I was on location in Brooklyn this afternoon and then whisked to another location this evening for coverage of the Miss America Pageant, so I'm afraid there will be no updates today.

Tomorrow I should be local, and at that time will share the usual time-saving recipes (with easy clean-up!), beauty tips (a marvelous face mask made from common items found in your pantry!), advice for the lovelorn (make him come to you!), and sneak peeks from my webcam (I look like I don't know the camera is there, but somehow it manages to capture a healthy bit of cleavage! And don't I look saucy in my chunky black frame glasses?).

I love you all.

fresh-baked at 12:28 PM
Friday, 19 September 2003
A Smart Girl

I knew this. I've known it for at least 30 years. But that doesn't mean that one of my favorite glasses, this Large Tumbler, isn't in the trashcan right now because I was impatient with the iced coffee this morning and couldn't wait until the freshly dishwashered glass had cooled down first.

I was going to take a picture of the poor thing and its glasscrack, but it just looked too vulnerable and sad. I considered wrapping the glass in a white towel and then stepping on it to completely break and shatter it, but the last time I did that I wound up married to Mindy Beth Glaserman, which is a part of my life I'd sooner forget.

If I'd only stuck to drinking out of 16-ounce Pyrex measuring cups, this never would have happened.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must go swimming on a full stomach and do something that will put someone's eye out.

fresh-baked at 03:33 PM
Thursday, 18 September 2003
Dirty Words

I have written before about my concerns regarding the hygiene habits of people who check books out of the library. It's no secret that I'm just a little suspicious of what some people actually do with the books, because it is clear that quite a few of the people who shamble by the shelves are so advanced in their illiteracy that they've mistaken the library for Byberry.

I know I shouldn't be surprised that the books aren't sterilized upon each return. I know I shouldn't expect the books to be as oh so sweet-smelling as those in Shakespeare & Co. I know I shouldn't expect much in the way of cleanliness, and by now I should just resign myself to the sad oh so sad reality that people are filthy motherfuckers — but still, like Anne Frank, I naively believe that people really are good at heart. And occasionally do wash their hands.

I went to the library yesterday and took out three books. There is a smudgy stain in just about the same place on three successive pages of the one I started reading this morning. They are all on a left-hand page, just below the center and toward the edge. Two of the three are about 1" to 1-1/2" in diameter, and the third is somewhat smaller. I suppose that by the third page, whatever the substance was that left the residue was deposited elsewhere — the reader's lips or the fabric of his trousers ... or returned to the safety of his ear. Anything to relieve the book of the torture of having to witness another instance of unnecessary smudging.

It is not an oily stain. It did not seep through to the other side of each page. There was no penetration. It is more of a dirty stain, a smudge. See for yourself:

Scratch 'n' sniff!
Enlarged to show detail
Actual stain is much grayer

As with all stains, this one aroused my curiosity. I just had to know what it was. So, using the point of an old butter knife (this is a delightfully butter-free household, so at long last the butter knife is getting some use), I scraped some of the ancient residue into a small envelope and ran it down to a lab further downtown. Ordinarily I would employ a messenger service, but because this sample was so precious, I didn't want to take any chances.

You're never going to believe what it was. (Left click your mouse and drag below the row of asterisks to find out!)

*  *  *
Amelia Earhart's fingerprint, dipped in dirt from the footprint of a yeti!!!

fresh-baked at 10:46 PM
Wednesday, 17 September 2003

Due to circumstances completely within my control, I will not be posting anything today (other than this).


fresh-baked at 04:57 PM
Tuesday, 16 September 2003
Pat Frawley Wears Cheap Shoes

She's the most important woman in town, this Pat Frawley*. Oh ho, she is, and damn it, she's going to let you know it, whether you like it or not. She's going to make sure that everyone in the salon knows it, but right now she's not too sure how she's going do it. But soon, when she unzips her purse to take out the credit card she'll be using to pay for the wrap she's having applied to her broken fingernail, she'll see it: the tool that will allow her to accomplish her mission.

It's her cell phone, of course. It's not the latest model, but that's OK. Pat Frawley is busy, very busy, crazy busy, and has no time to keep up with the latest trends in something as frivolous as cell phones. And yeah, so her shoes are cheap and could probably use new heels if you really wanted to look closely. And so what if she's wearing a small plastic comb-type clip in her hair to keep it in its little topknot? Pat Frawley doesn't have time to accessorize her shiny gray pantsuit properly. You would know that if you looked at her earrings, if only she would stop turning her head around so much to look around the room to see who's noticing the Presence of Pat Frawley here at 23rd and Seventh in a salon where she's taking time out of her crazy busy day to get her broken fingernail repaired.

After all, she's going to be with the Dalai Lama tonight. That's right. You heard it. You heard her on her cell phone right now. On her cell phone as she's getting a manicure. On her cell phone loudly, telling someone named Lou or Abe that she's the translator tonight for the Dalai Lama, which is, yes, hahahahaha, quite a change of pace from criminal law. Pat Frawley, you see, is multi-faceted. One minute she's a tough-talkin' lawyer, the next she's sweet-talkin' the Dalai Lama.

Oh that Pat Frawley and her expertly repaired fingernail. We can only hope she remembers to change her shoes.

*Is it her real name, or isn't it? I'll never tell.

fresh-baked at 06:59 PM
Monday, 15 September 2003
Tom Riley

In 1978, in every high school in every town in every state, there was one mysterious boy who, in tenth grade, was capable of growing a full mustache — only he wasn't allowed to let it grow to the point where it started looking like actual hair and not just some leftover smudge from his metal shop class. The mustache, you see, was threatening, because it meant that he was a man, and that that big lump in his pants wasn't just his shirttails all bunched up down there when the teacher told him to tuck his shirt in properly so he wouldn't look like a ruffian.

The mysterious boy was left back two, maybe three or four or more times, but no one knew why. It wasn't that he was the stupidest kid in the class, but it may have had something to do with lack of attendance. Rumor had it that this kid, whose name would be something strong and proud — Tom Riley, just like his dad before him and his granddad before them... only no one ever saw his family — well, rumor had it that they'd all died ... at his hand. But who could really say.

Patty or Joan or Donna, the girl he'd sometimes be seen giving rides home to in his big old steamboat of a car (of course he drove! he was, like, 20, we heard!), said that the reason he'd been held back so many times was because he secretly had a baby somewhere, which made him late to school on account of he had to take care of the baby sometimes when it got sick and its mom has to go to work at the Shop 'N Bag. That only proved he was a good person, a good man, and not the thug everyone thought he was.

But that was all rumor, too.

So this boy, this guy, this man thing, this Tom Riley (never Tommy and never Thomas) ... he sat in class with his legs wide apart — because those not-shirttails needed room to breathe, baby — with his mustache threatening to burst out of his pores by 3:30 when the bell rang. And he let it take over his face when he swaggered out into the parking lot and went off in his beat-up old car to wherever it was that he went. And wherever that was, also laid the reason why he'd been left back two, maybe three or four or more times.

At the 25th high school reunion, when he'll be just about 45, rumor will have it that Tom Riley fell off a roof somewhere while drinking way too much at a party about three years ago. It will have been an accident. But Patty or Joan or Donna will say it's not so, that she saw him under a car down at the shop, except she didn't know if it was the same guy, because he just looked like everybody else now.

Only when the lights dim and it's time to recreate a dance just like the one they played for last dance at the prom in 1981, a guy with a full mustache will appear backlit in the doorway to the veterans' lodge, and he won't say a word, but just stand there smoking a cigarette. And then he'll leave, thinking no one saw him, and go wherever it is he goes to do whatever it is he does.

fresh-baked at 02:31 PM
Sunday, 14 September 2003
Still Life

Ordinarily I do not take photos of things that are not pretty. I am a girl, after all, and my sensibilities are such that I only like to look at things that are in tune with a certain limited, socially acceptable aesthetic. If it doesn't sparkle or shine, I'm not interested. If it's not sanitized and filtered, I don't want to know about it. If it's not perfectly wrapped in expensive paper and topped with a bow that matches the ribbon, forget about it.

So it was with some reluctance that I backtracked today on my way home from the gym, in order to snap this still life. I held my breath, screwed up my face in disgust just so no one passing by would think I actually like grime and grit, and just pretended it was a bowl of pears and apples that will never be eaten set beside an elegant candelabra that will never be lit resting atop an elegant tablecloth that will never be stained.

Pretended pretended pretended, so I wouldn't have to worry my pretty little head with unpleasant thoughts about how much this looks like evidence that a baby was quietly bludgeoned on Broadway. A baby that bled spaghetti sauce ... except for the one part, just south of center, that really does look like clotted blood.

fresh-baked at 12:06 PM
Saturday, 13 September 2003
Survival Tips for City Slickers: #1 of ???

You know what's a good idea? This: When you get caught in the rain, without an umbrella, just surrender to the rain. When dealing with business competitors and with your in-laws, with your kids and with the cabdriver, with the knife-wielding burglar and with "Death by Chocolate" on the menu, you can put up a fight. You can. It's even expected. But in this instance? The rain? No. Really.

Give it up. Give in. Get over it.

Putting a newspaper over or directly on your head as you run to safety — because, let's face it, the stuff that falls from the sky is a lot different from the stuff that falls from your showerhead — isn't going to do much of anything except make you look more like a jackass than the one you think you're going to look like when you arrive at your destination all soaked 'n' stuff, with newsprint on your cheek, and the headlines of the Weekly World News in reverse on your forehead.

fresh-baked at 08:20 PM
Friday, 12 September 2003
Eight I Ate

I feel bad. I've been holding back. I've had some tasty lunches (and one dinner) that I have not shared with you. I don't know why I get like this. I don't know why I'm so neglectful sometimes. But at least I recognize this fault, this flaw, this shameful wrongdoing, and can make it right. So without further fanfare or ado, I present a few photos I have been hoarding:

Cafe Mozart, Middle Eastern Platter
10 June 2003

My friend "M" — Jack to my Karen, and one of the reasons you can find me on the Upper West Side so often (if you can find me, that is) — and I enjoyed a leisurely al fresco lunch at Cafe Mozart. We sobbed as we passed on dessert. (We ladies who lunch like to keep our figures girlish.)

Souen, Tofu Okabe
19 July 2003

The DOG and I eat at Souen only if we can have the isolated table by the front windows. Otherwise, we risk being held captive by ditzy conversations of tangle-haired philosophers seated in the lotus position only two feet away. And although I love the tofu okabe, I prefer to taste it only as it goes down my esophagus.

Caravan of Dreams, Burrito Monoski
26 July 2003

Any day that includes a visit to Caravan of Dreams is a wonderful day indeed. I love everything about this place, and could rave on and on ... from the cute waitresses in vintage dresses and barrettes, to the Johnny Depp-esque guy who does the cooking or something, to the mismatched mosaic tables and wide-plank floors, to, oh yeah, the food.

Viva Cafe Natural Pizza, Sicilian Pizza
26 July 2003

The only way a day that starts with Caravan of Dreams could get any better would be to end it with the Sicilian pizza (vegan, kids, all vegan!) from Viva. I like it even better the next day, right out of the refrigerator. (Yes, there are leftovers.)

Goga, Breakfast Burrito
30 August 2003

Occasionally, the DOG and I travel to foreign lands just for food. This bountiful breakfast burrito from Goga was worth the F-train ride to Brooklyn and the thousands of steps we descended from the subway platform to the street. I didn't know what "Goga" meant, so I wore yoga pants and gogo boots just to be safe.

Village Natural, Millet Croquettes
6 September 2003

I know it sounds like scary boarding-school food, but I don't think that's what the soft-spoken people who run Village Natural had in mind. Still, I wear a navy blue crested blazer while eating it, just to bring back memories of all the pranks we used to pull on Blair and Mrs. Garrett.

Organic Harvest Cafe, Seitan Enchiladas
10 September 2003

I used to be a regular at Organic Harvest when I was involved in a super top secret project in that neighborhood a few years ago. Twice lately I've ordered the enchiladas when I meant to order the fajitas, but I've managed to choke it down anyway despite my misorder.

Inside My New Boots Box, Silica Gel
12 September 2003

Desiccant? Oh yes, I can! I disregarded the THROW AWAY demand, because I think that's just a pitiful waste. You Americans and your careless, disposable culture! In addition, I don't know what the DO NOT EAT fuss and flutter is all about. This stuff is just like Pop Rocks — but tailored for sophisticated adult tastes! Pair it with a whimsical glass of of Liquid-Plumr®, and you couldn't ask for a more delightful mid-day repast!

fresh-baked at 09:20 PM
Thursday, 11 September 2003
Cat Man Do (continued)

Continuation/Conclusion of Cat Man Do

Inside, the room was completely dark except for a single bulb whose glare was cut by a thick haze of fragrant smoke. I couldn't identify either the smell or its source, but it left me feeling simultaneously buoyant and anchored. As if I were made of lead, supported by nothing more substantial than a puffy cloud. The kind unimaginative kids draw with white crayon beside a smiling yellow sun.

I turned to look at the DOG and Shana, but could only make out their faint outlines. No details. No colors. No eyes, no mouths. No facial expressions. No one spoke. Or mewed.

Eventually my eyes adjusted to the strange darkness, and a slight man about my size appeared from behind a set of soundless swinging doors beyond which there was only thick, impenetrable darkness.

"You have cat," the man said, entirely too loudly given that he was standing not two feet away from us. It was not a question.

"Yes," I said. "I want you to —"

"I fix cat," he said.

"But wait. I just want to make sure you know —"

But he was already gone.

And so was Shana and her carrier.

"Did you feel him take her?" I asked the DOG, who was rubbing the arm that for so long had been lugging Shana around town.

"No! All of a sudden I felt my arm retract to its original length, and then ..."

"I don't know about this," I said. "I mean, how well do we really know L? Can he really be trusted?"

"He's a good guy," the DOG said. "What would he have to gain by leading us astray?"

"I'm not so sure. All this hocus pocus. Ancient magical mystical Chinese herbs. Maybe we should've stuck to tradition ..."

Just then the little man rematerialized. He put the carrier on the floor beside the DOG.

"Is everything OK?" I asked.

"She better now," he said.

"So what did you — ?"

"Everything OK now," he said.

I was not satisfied with his answer, but I wasn't in the mood to deal with this. I just wanted to get away from the smoky haze that by this time lost any sort of minimal charm it may have originally held.

"How much do I owe you?" the DOG asked.

"Is free. First time always free. Is good business."

He turned and disappeared through the swinging doors.

"What the — ?" I said.

"I don't know," the DOG said. "Let's just get out of here."

Apparently Shana was fine, because she didn't mew at all on the way down the four flights of ill-lit, rickety stairs.

Outside on the deserted side street, it was almost as dark as the interior of the strange vet's office. We walked to the corner to hail a taxi, and oddly enough, had no trouble getting one. We were home in less than 15 minutes.

Once inside the apartment, the DOG placed the carrier on the floor. I turned to wash my hands at the kitchen sink.

"Oh no," he said. "No! NO! NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!"

"What? What?" I said, turning around. "What's wrong?"

The DOG was bent over the kitchen table, peering into two large white takeout containers with their flaps undone. He was poking at their contents with a chopstick.

"I knew I had a bad feeling about that place! He gave us two quarts of mew goo gai pan! Two quarts!"

"Damn it!" I said. "I specifically asked for mew shoo! 'Good business', my ass!"

"Well, it was free, so I guess we can't really complain," he said.

"Fuckin' L," I muttered.

"Yeah, he can't always be trusted," Taxi said over his shoulder as he tiptoed past us to his water bowl. "But don't let the cat outta the bag, OK?"

fresh-baked at 03:23 PM
Wednesday, 10 September 2003

From the ridiculous:

Sidewalk, 67th between CPW and Columbus, 9:37-10:23 a.m.

To the sublime:

Sidewalk, 49 East 52nd Street, 2:53-2:56 p.m.

Note:  The praying mantis's body is at least six inches long.

fresh-baked at 04:28 PM
Tuesday, 9 September 2003
Cat Man Do

Shana is still preparing spew stew, so this afternoon, the DOG and I took her to the vet. We've long suspected that our regular vet has been duping us on the bill by charging exorbitant sums for "tests" performed behind closed doors without our supervision. The DOG wondered if indeed any tests were being administered at all. Still, we didn't know if we should believe one of Taxi's shiftier friends, a Rottweiler I'll just call "L", when he told us after his last visit, "They water down the shots there, man."

We gave L the benefit of the doubt and, on his advice, decided to take Shana to a vet down in Chinatown. We'd never heard of the guy, but L swore he was the best. "He'll give you some sort of secret Chinese herbs," L whispered at the dog run before we headed down. "But don't, like, ask questions. He knows his deal."

What an ordeal it was, finding this place. Chinatown winds this way and that, hither and yon, to and fro, and back again. Storefronts blend into one another. Faces blur. Pushing. Shoving. Gawking tourists buying cheap knockoffs of designer dreck. Fish heads, buckets of tofu, store-owners covering one nostril and shooting phlegm from the cannon of the other nostril — onto their own bok choy.

Shana started mewing like mad, and I tried to console her, but to no avail. The DOG's arm was stretched out to 1-1/2 times its regular length from having carried 14 pounds of cat through so many streets.

But we found the place, we did. We made a left, a right, a right, a left, another right, some more lefts, and then walked up four rickety flights of stairs inside a building that smelled of mildewy musk, heady jasmine, and, oddly enough, eggplant parmigiana.

The door was the only one on the landing, and from behind its frosted glass a light shone dimly. There was no bell and no knocker. I touched the door with a hesitant fingertip, and it slowly swung open.

To be continued ...

fresh-baked at 09:01 PM
Monday, 8 September 2003
A Story In So Many Words (#6: 100) - "Dental Gross"

Did you remember to floss?

Everyone who’s anyone agrees that Martina Lubovich’s greatest work of art to date is definitely her small "found object" sculpture entitled "Dental Gross" (with her charming accent, "gross" rhymes with "floss"), currently installed at a small yet very important gallery in Chelsea. As with many significant pieces, this one took quite a long time to complete. Consisting entirely of dental detritus removed via dental floss from between Martina’s teeth during a five-year period of carefully planned binging that led to a substantial (and seemingly permanent) weight gain, it has thus been pressed into the shape of a very small pig.

*   *   *

#1: 100 - "Food For Thought"
#2: 100 - "Mammu"
#3: 100 - "In A Pickle"
#4: 102 - "Meet Me"
#5: 100 - "Use Your Noodle"

fresh-baked at 09:31 PM
Sunday, 7 September 2003
Read all about it!

I went to the library yesterday afternoon for a short stack of books (with REAL MAPLE SYRUP), and left bookless. I then visited every used book store in the city — including, of course, all eight miles of The Strand — and every branch of Barnes & Noble. Borders, too. And everywhere else books like to hide out.

But in every case, the result was the same: I left bookless. Book-free. No books.

This is not like me. I'm never sans book.

I went to bed confused.

It wasn't until I woke up this morning that I realized what happened: I've finally read every single book in the universe!

Everything except Harry Potter, that is, which you still couldn't pay me in free boots and tofu to read.

fresh-baked at 10:42 PM
Saturday, 6 September 2003
Laughing Matters

Last night I went to Portable Comedy, a comedy cavalcade hosted by none other than Christian Finnegan of "Tower of Hubris" fame. (I'd link directly to his site, but I'm not doing that anymore unless I get something in return, like a shiny new two-wheeler with streamers and a basket with a puppy inside ... so you can find him on your own, if you want. It's not difficult. You can do it via Gurgle!)

Where was I? Oh yes. Christian. Finnegan. Comedy shindig. Right.

So, anyway, in setting up a joke, one of the comics said something about legalizing drugs. (I forget the joke, though. That's what Holazine does to you. [Don't bother Googling "Holazine". I made it up.]) That comment elicited a huge whoop of approval — comprised of hoots, cheers, and applause — from the mostly youngish audience. Amazing, how everyone in attendance all of a sudden regarded themselves as hip, habitual drug users. Everyone who responded had to let everyone else know that they, too, are affected by the non-legalization of drugs. What a bunch of proud drug users surrounded me! As if sniffing glue and occasionally smoking a doobie with some dudes qualifies these schmucks as those who would benefit from the legalization of drugs.

I love when comedy audiences display loud indications of their identification with something the comic addresses. For instance, take (my wife, please) the audiences for George Carlin. All of a sudden, the clearly "yuppie" (are we still using that term?) (I'm so behind!) audience, many members of which are no doubt the targets of Carlin's barbs, converts into a group of free-wheeling, free-thinking hipsters just like Carlin. (P.S. It is hip to call him "Carlin".) Subversives who only drive their SUVs (yeah, damn those SUVs, even if you don't know why!) with the mini soccer balls dangling from the rear-view mirror and wear their carefully pressed chinos because they, like, you know, kinda have to, but if they had their way, man, they'd be stickin' it to The Man too!

They can't just laugh moderately, either, no no no. Because to laugh only moderately or discriminately would not be enough of an indication that they too are part of the cool kid coalition that the comic is addressing, but also to show that they get it. They are part of the elite core that is not the butt of the ridicule. No, not them, boy, no! Guffawing at a comic's jokes, no matter how asinine, shows that they, the regular schlubs, are hip 'n' cool too. Because comics are cool! And hip! All of 'em, no matter what! Even the unfunny ones. Or even when the usually funny comics aren't saying anything funny.

I witnessed this phenomenon a while ago at one of the shows Christian hosted. A rather popular comedian who shall remain nameless just happened to be in the audience. He wasn't scheduled to perform, but at the end of the regular show, he came up onto the platform/stage anyway, just to sort of chat with the audience, all of whom were now on their best bad boy behavior. All of a sudden, everyone in the audience was black, like the comic. Urban and hip, like the comic. Tuned in, turned on, and all too eager to impress all of this on the comic.

So the comic talked. He just talked. He wasn't making jokes. He wasn't trying to make jokes. He didn't have a "set" prepared. He wasn't there in a professional comic capacity, just as a guy who happened to be professionally humorous.

But no matter what this guy said, the audience responded as if he had just torn through the most hilarious material ever to hit the scene. Everything he said, even down to his first words, which I believe were something outrageous like, "Hello, how're you all doin' tonight?" elicited whoops of laughter. At one point, when his chat was met with whoops, he even stopped and said, "I'm not even makin' a joke". It was something slightly political. So of course the mere mention of the President's name associated with something going on in the Middle East (the Holazine was kicking in again, so I don't remember) elicited the requisite hisses and jeers from the politically savvy audience.

I always feel like the odd man out. I laugh when I get something. I don't laugh when I don't. I don't applaud for the legalization of drugs just because once, back in the late '80s, I might've smoked something wacky I bought from some guy at a club. I don't laugh at limp jokes about cheap Jews or drunk Irishmen. The word "vagina" doesn't automatically make me laugh mine off.

He who laughs last, laughs loudest, just so everyone around him knows he's hip enough to get it.

Got it?

fresh-baked at 12:11 PM
Friday, 5 September 2003
Ready to Rumble!

You hear about it sometimes on the news, but rarely do you have the opportunity to witness it first-hand.

The confrontation:


The stare-down:


The squirrel turns tail, discouraged:

"He must've been nuts to even think he could take you!" I said to the dog.

"Apparently he didn't have any," said the dog. "Pussy."

The referee did not appreciate that comment:

... and went for a few drinks, muttering, "Bitch!" under his breath.

This city is full of animals!

fresh-baked at 11:39 AM
Thursday, 4 September 2003
Feline Not Too Groovy

My cat is sick and is leaving slick trails of spit-up ooze for me to follow like the dotted-line paths that track the topsy-turvy travels of Little Billy from Family Circus. Apparently she visits corners of the apartment that not even the architect was privy to. She is also quite artful in the way she arranges the product of her kecking to not only blend in with the pattern of the area rugs but to enhance the original design.

I would be impressed with the level of her skill, but I'm too busy trying to avoid adding to her work as I clean up the medium with which she creates it. Someone, please, get meowtta here!

fresh-baked at 09:20 PM
Wednesday, 3 September 2003
Garden and Eating

I took a nice long walk over (and down) to Kate's Joint this afternoon. I'd never been there, but for quite some time it had been on my unwritten list of "must try" lunch spots. I walked like an ant to get there: quickly and on a zigzag path. Unlike an ant, however, I did not carry a crumb 50 times my body weight while doing so.

On my way, I stumbled across this beautiful little garden:


And then I had a big beautiful lunch:

McKate Burger
Two Un-Beef Patties, Special Sauce, Lettuce,
Non-Dairy Cheese, Pickles, Onions
on Whole Wheat Sesame Seed Bun
(and of course French Fries)

What was the occasion? Why, the birthday of James Baker, of course!


Happy 203rd (very slightly belated!), Mr. Baker ... whoever you were and wherever you may be!

Kate's Joint — 58 Avenue B
The Creative Little Garden — 530 East Sixth Street
New York City Marble Cemetery — Second Street, just east of Second Avenue

fresh-baked at 08:01 PM
Signs of the Times

I used to work in an office where some of the ladies thought it was beneath them to flush after they availed themselves of the toilets. The office manager, in response to this indelicacy (which I, of course, brought to her attention), composed and printed out signs that she taped to the inside of each stall's door. The signs were decorated with a lovely floral motif and the message was polite. In a delicate font, they gently reminded the fair flowers to kindly remember to flush, thank you. I went into her office and told her I thought the signs were a nice touch, but that perhaps she should have worded them to fit the crime. My suggestion was this: YO! FUCKIN' FLUSH!

She laughed at my suggestion and said that was the tone she really wanted to use, but because she had to at least put on a respectable front, she had to go with the gentle reminders instead. She was a marvelous office manager, and actually had a sense of humor and a fantastic sense of style, so of course she didn't last long in the staid atmosphere in which she was employed. But while she was there, she did what she could to make sure things ran smoothly.

I always loathed these gentle reminders for people to do things that are so basic and that should have become second nature by the time they reached age five. Even more than the simple messages, I detested those that rhymed, a la IF YOU SPRINKLE WHEN YOU TINKLE, PLEASE BE NEAT AND WIPE THE SEAT. But then again, I suppose that when you're dealing with infants who have to be told to do this, it helps if there's a singsong quatrain that they can retain. If a catchy tune could be associated with it, then that would have helped too, of course.

So today when I was in the ladies room at the gym, I came upon a situation that hasn't been addressed yet by these sweet signs. A while ago, I wrote about a vomitous odor at the gym. However, it wasn't until today that I saw evidence of its origin.

This incident prompted me to come up with these two signs:


I plan to present these signs to the Equinox management personnel tomorrow morning and offer them free of charge for posting in the ladies room. Will I actually do it? Oh, bulimia will!

P.S. Feel free to print these signs out and use them in your own workplace! Consider it my gift to you.

fresh-baked at 12:29 PM
Tuesday, 2 September 2003
Labor Days

Remember:  Today is Tuesday.
Note:  It is not Monday.

You will run around today in a funk or a stupor or like a maniac, thinking it's Monday, but it's not. You'll try to do Monday things, but the key to the Monday door won't fit, and you'll fumble around screaming all sorts of hideous bad words as you rummage through your purse or pockets or whichever body cavity acts as storage for your Tuesday key. The whole day, you'll feel like something is missing, and you'll keep discreetly patting your thigh to make sure you remembered pants, and then your hand will travel to your fly to make sure it's zipped (and also, if we're going to be honest — and, c'mon, let's be! — to touch "it" because it makes you feel safe in some weird way), and you'll think maybe you forgot to turn off the stove and that your cat is now dead or at least close it.

You'll find some excuse to leave the office, telling the receptionist (also in a haze as she takes off her sneakers and exchanges them for non-white shoes) you have to run an important errand but not saying what (it's none of her business!), and then rush home to find that everything there is as it should be, but you'll frantically search the apartment for your keys anyway. Because for the one minute you've been home, you've managed to misplace them. You'll check the folds of the sheets on your unmade bed (who has time for that on a busy Monday Tuesday morning!?), and that two seconds on your bed will be enough to lure you back between its folds.

You'll fall asleep immediately, and dream that you are back at work, doing Tuesday things with efficiency and expediency. In the dream, your outfit is freshly pressed and everyone loves your ideas, and you don't have sheet creases on your cheek.

Two hours later, your not-dead cat will jump on your chest, put its ass in your face, and you will be having a sexual dream and not realize it is a cat and not the faceless person you were dreaming about. You'll wake up grabbing your cat's hips and be glad no one saw it. You'll look at the alarm clock, realize you can't possibly get to work before noon, and call the receptionist with an excuse why you won't be coming back to the office today, but you'll definitely be in tomorrow.

And tomorrow when you go in, it will be Wednesday, but you'll think it's Monday, and then where will you be?

fresh-baked at 07:37 AM
Monday, 1 September 2003
Déjà Food!

Like something out of The Twilight Zone or a scary Karen Black movie circa the mid 1970s, or maybe just a weird dream — the kind that, when you try to resurface into wakefulness, makes you feel like you're drowning instead and you're screaming in slow motion, and when you wake up you hear a foghorn that sounds just like your slo-mo screams, and then you realize you don't live anywhere near a lighthouse or the water and you have to pinch yourself to see if you're still dreaming, and the next morning when you wake up for real you find a chunk of your hip missing where you'd pinched yourself while dreaming, and in its place is a piece of Silly Putty molded into the gap, and you can't quite make out what Marmaduke is trying to do in that reverse image. Like that. That's how I think of my recent breakfast experiences.

I mean, what're the chances of one girl having the same breakfast two weekends in a row? I'm no Jimmy the Greek, but I'm willing to bet the chances are — how do you say here in America — "slim to none"???

Just look at these dishes from Village Natural, and tell me it's not spooky:

Only $6.95! Good for you!
Vegetarian Italian Sausages
Served with Sautéed Mushroom and Onions,
Scrambled Tofu and Rosemary Home Fries
(Not pictured: Scrambled Tofu)
Left:  Saturday, 23 August 2003
Right:  Sunday, 31 August 2003

I was FLOORED! My mind felt as scrambled as the tofu!

I didn't know what was going on. How could this have happened? Was it merely a case of déjà food, or had I stepped into another universe, one where this kind of occurrence is considered ordinary and nothing worth jumping off the nearest pier into the inky waters of the Hudson?

As you can imagine and understand, I wandered around the West Village in a fog (with no horn blaring, which confused me even more). Mixed in with the tourists, no one gave my mush-brained meandering a second look or even a first. But then, in the doorway of a bodega, I received a signal that I had indeed stepped into that alternate universe where up is down and right is left and right is wrong and two wrongs may indeed make a right. And here was that signal:

Me-yow!  Wow!

Cats with thumbs, scientifically classified as "mitten kittens", are a sure sign that all is not as it should be.

The mystery's not solved, but at least I know I'm not going bonkers!

fresh-baked at 03:43 PM