Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkins and More

I have been indulging in way too much retail therapy lately. Both the kids needed new clothes and so I worked out a deal whereby I would pay for half their clothes (the left half) and thus there was a flurry of ordering stuff online last week (my son, never having known life without the internets, is shocked and horrified at the thought of actually going to a, gasp, store and, oh god, trying things on.) This would be not particularly noteworthy except that of course I had to order myself stuff too - otherwise it's just no fun - and thus I ended up with a flame orange lace trimmed camisole and a pair of plaid ballet flats that would have brought my mother to tears of preppy joy. I'm returning the shoes - fortunately for my self respect they don't fit - and I have convinced myself that if perchance I am ever down to my lingerie in the woods again (a girl can dream) then at least I won't be shot by hunters.

However, buying all these things was simple and painless compared to the problem of purchasing pumpkins. You can't order pumpkins online unless you're way more organized than I am. The one pumpkin I grew turned to mush about ten days ago, alas, and I somehow managed to volunteer to bring jack o' lanterns to the unpronounceable blog party on Friday, therefore, I needed pumpkins. I have arranged for my friends to come over tonight to carve said pumpkins (you can come too, if you want, email me) and thus I really needed pumpkins and soon. So, I went to Sam's Club on Monday (and got a bunch of large size prints done from photos that turned out really well - cheap! Cheapcheap! Now my daughter's house has groovy art!) and discovered that they were out of pumpkins. Okay, no pumpkins; I left there and went to K-Mart to get frames for the aforementioned photos. The Patton Avenue K-Mart has reinvented itself as a downscale Target, by the way, and everything has been moved around, but somehow it's still depressing. They really need to burn that place to the ground; I think it's over a Native American burial site or maybe a portal to hell. Could be, though, that the faint screams of the damned that always echo through the air there are just employees or maybe it's a corporate provided soundtrack, who knows? Anyway, they didn't have pumpkins but then I didn't really expect them to so I left with my frames and as I sat in traffic on Louisiana Avenue I noticed people with signs on the corner.

I couldn't read the signs but I wondered what they were doing, muzzily assuming that perhaps it was a carwash, although 6 pm on an October Monday seems like a weird time for a charity carwash, but, you know, whatever. They looked like they were having fun, though, handing each other their signs and clowning around so I was predisposed to view them fondly until I actually drove into the intersection and realized that they were protesting Halloween on the grounds that it leads people to devil worship. I flipped them off. I have never flipped anyone off before in a car - seriously. Never before. - but I did it this time. Fuck you, insane Christians. I am tired of your stupid antics. You don't get to take my Halloween away or even try, lameasses. What would Jesus do? He sure as hell wouldn't be out there holding an anti Halloween sign.

Well that was Monday and then yesterday I went to Ingles because I have a teenage son and thus I must shop for junk food almost daily. Ingles too was out of pumpkins. This was getting serious. Also, it was raining.

The checkout clerk, my daughter via text message and my son via a phone call told me to go to the church across from the funeral home on Patton. I knew about this church, because I have bought pumpkins there many an October before. I got to the church in the rain and hopped out of the car in the rain and started wandering around in the mud looking at wet pumpkins.
"There's nobody here." said a young woman in black.
"You mean you aren't selling the pumpkins?" I asked,
"No, there's nobody here."
This proved to be true. There was a zipped up tent, but not a person around.
"Is there an honor system box?" I asked, "I really need pumpkins tonight."
"No," she reported dismally.
"Look," I said, "I'm going to steal some pumpkins. I know that's wrong and I'll come back by here in a couple days and pay them, whatever, but I'm having people over tomorrow to carve pumpkins and I have to get these pumpkins now."
'I'm having people over tonight," she said forlornly.
"Well then you have to steal pumpkins too." I said firmly. "It's a necessity; it's like stealing bread or something."

Several more people showed up at this point to slop around in the mud and heavy rain for pumpkins and a quick council was held. "I'm leaving money on this table in the tent," said one man decisively. He didn't want to spend any more time in the rain than he had to. We all decided to do just that and by the time I left with my pumpkins there was a considerable sum on that table in the tent. More, I think, than there would have been if there were people actually collecting payment. The church may be doing it on purpose.

I'm glad we went with the table compromise. Even though I hate the kind of Christians who protest Halloween (and everything else fun in the universe, as well as basic human rights; those kind of Christians can go straight to their own invented hell as far as I'm concerned) I still didn't want to steal from the church. That's one of those setups for bad karma that I refuse to get entangled with. Besides, I'm already half convinced that I'll be struck by lightning if I ever walk into a church and that's just for sinful thoughts (mostly thoughts, okay) imagine what our Lord God Jehovah would do to a confirmed and unrepentant pumpkin thief?

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Am Martha Stewart

out for a stroll
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
This past weekend, I cleaned my entire house, mopped the kitchen floor, did laundry, pulled all the frost killed dead stuff out of the garden, mowed both the front and back yards, stayed cool when my neighbor dropped a tree on my fence and into my yard, half finished an extremely, um, funky outdoor candle holder, made pesto from the last of the basil and froze half of it, went shopping with my daughter, read two Juliet Marillier books, started Infinite Jest, watched several episodes of Legend of the Seeker, had an active and interesting dream life and still had time to drink beer with my friends and relatives and smoke too many cigarettes. I am telling you, I AM Martha Stewart and not only that, I have a Halloween costume. Okay, it's a lame as hell costume but it is a costume and I plan to wear it on Halloween, so, you know, all the criteria are met.

Now it is Monday and I am tired.

In a complete nonsequitur, my daughter needs a plastic Viking helmet; anybody have one they can part with or know of where one could be obtained for less than $20? We went to the Halloween superstore (featuring superslutz wear!: any, yes any, character in popular culture reimagined in a really short dress and fishnets! Even though that makes no sense!) and decided that $20 was a bit much for a plastic Viking helmet, cool and amazing though it might be. It's annoying because I could swear we used to own one - hell, possibly more than one - but it has vanished into the mists of time or maybe the garage.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


We're eating ham. Ham is something eternal and everlasting; also, it's cheap. Last week, I bought a ham. Ham seems expensive when you buy it, because even the tiny hams that I buy run just a little below $10. These hams are tiny, you understand. They are so tiny that they probably came from Charlotte, as in Charlotte's Web, and no, I don't think the pig is named Charlotte. These hams are spider sized; they are arachnid and minuscule. They're the hams from a tiny spider legged pig - Spider-Pig, even. They're small and sliced and pink and will cost you just about $8.52 and when you buy them you think, ow, this is expensive.

They are not, however, expensive because you will be eating that ham for a couple of weeks and by the end, when the ham wins and you watch yourself throw the last ends away, you will swear to whatever gods you swear by that you will not buy ham again, no, nor eat it either. $8.50 for an entire week of trying hard not to eat what's in the refrigerator! It is cheap! And it will be three or four months before you try it again!

Ham has that ham taste. That odd ham texture that can't really be disguised in quiches or collards or omelettes; that ham thing. After about five ham sandwiches, even the ham devotee will admit defeat. The mustard, the melted cheese, the randomly chosen horseradish sauce, the half tomato - they're only staving off the inevitable moment when you look down at your half eaten sandwich and say, dude. Whoa. I can eat ham no more forever. I am hammed out.

And that is why, dearest reader, that after my lunch of two slices of ham and my rebellious tuna sandwich dinner, there is a ham quesadilla that I made for my son (about which he said, after a moment of silence, "Wow, Mom, hammy.") lingering half eaten on my kitchen counter, waiting to be wrapped in saran wrap and put in the fridge, where it will stay until I throw it away in two or so weeks, the American funerary rite for cold cuts observed.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Legend of the Seeker

orchid light
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
My son and I share a mildly addictive personality and it has surfaced again with our sudden and shameful inability to stop watching episodes of Legend of the Seeker on Netflix Watch It Now or whatever they call that crack like ability they now have to pipe second rate shit directly onto your computer. Boy howdy, this is some second rate shit, too, or possibly even third or fourth rate shit but somehow, we just can't stop dialing new episodes up on the monitor.

Why is that? Partly it's the audience participation angle - we know exactly what's going to happen next! It's exciting! What with my many wasted years spent reading every half assed fantasy novel that comes down the pike and my son's long experience with fantasy based video games and way too much TV (acquired after he got too old for my careful parental strictures to work anymore, I'll have you know. His TV watching was rationed and monitored when he was little Well, sort of. He is the second child.) we can pretty much figure out precisely what each character is going to say next. If we're wrong, it's usually because our line was better. And the plots are so see through that they are laughable. Every single episode is 43 minutes of MST3King delight, plus, every single one features a ridiculous sword fight in slow motion. Bad sword fighting in slow motion is something that we both agree is just the purest of awesome. We shout Slow Motion Now! and then crack up as the hero and heroine dutifully polish off about 20 attacking minions of evil, very slowly with a lot of bonus jumping slowly into the air, the better for their clothes to flap around slowly and artistically. Yes, I highly recommend the Legend of the Seeker if you are into slow sword fights, utterly predictable and often quite funny plot lines and reekingly terrible dialogue. The gods know we're hooked.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It has been a weird week and I think we should talk about something else, like movies! Even though I hardly ever see movies (I don't know why. Somehow I just don't watch a lot of movies. For years I had kids and was only allowed to watch G & PG movies and somehow I never got out of the habit of kind of not watching them) I still have strong, if wildly contradictory, opinions on the fine art of cinema. I have pretty much seen less movies than anyone else I know. If you ever ask me, did you see {insert movie name here} I would estimate that there is about a 70% chance that I will not have seen it. Unless it is a Japanese monster movie. Then, I've probably seen it. That is because Japanese monster movies fulfill my criteria for movies I want to see. And what is that criteria? Here, in handy list format, it is!

1. Swords. Movies which contain swords are better than movies which do not.

2. Explosions. Movies which contain explosions are better than movies which do not, unless (this is key) the movie is all explosions and nothing else. Like all good things, explosions too can become boring.

3. Magic and technology. Magic is good. Wizards in long robes are even better. Technology is good when it is essentially indistinguishable from magic and gets bonus points when it's ridiculous and absurd and clearly would never work.

4. (4 is the momentarily serious number) It doesn't fail the Bechdel test. Or, okay, it's going to fail the fucking Bechdel test, I know it's going to fail, they all fail, but either it's so over the top ridiculous that I can laugh at it anyway or there are enough swords, explosions, magic and NUMBER FIVES in it that I don't care.

NUMBER FIVE: GIANT LIZARDS. Giant lizards are vitally important to any cinematic success. Giant lizards can improve any and all movies, particularly the one that my mother dragged me to at the Fine Arts Theatre a couple of years ago. I cannot for the life of me remember the name of it, but it featured an amnesiac musician who washed up on the coast of Britain sometime in the 1930s and was rescued by two elderly ladies. It was beautifully filmed and extremely civilized and I wanted to gnaw my own arm off to escape. If only there had been a GIANT LIZARD! Then he could have eaten the entire cast and I would have been, personally, quite content. Particularly if then some guys in robes came in, fought him with swords and finished him off by blowing him up in a large explosion. While two women carried on a funny conversation.

The problem with this simple approach is that in actual fact, most of my favorite movies, when I do end up seeing movies, are not of this kind. My favorite movies (that I can think of right now, at this very moment, because I am terrible at remembering the names of things and have to memorize small lists of favorites to be trotted out whenever necessary, which is why for years I said my favorite movie was The Man Who Would Be King although I haven't seen it since 1975 when I was 11 years old and saw it at the movie theatre where it completely and totally absorbed me to a degree nothing ever has since) are Spirited Away, Scotland, PA, The Secret of Roan Inish and the Coca Cola Kid, none of which have giant lizards, swords, explosions or much magic or technology. That would be where the contradictions come in and extend even unto such movies as My Dinner With Andre, which I actually loved, despite its fearsome lack of all good things. So the formula is not without flaws. Still, feel free to borrow it! It certainly helps with Netflix and the movie machine at the grocery store, particularly if your viewing companions are tween or teen boys.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Food and Clothing and More Sex

raclette 3
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
That in the picture right there is a nifty thing called a raclette. My friends Jen and Kyle discovered them in Europe and promptly bought one when they got back to Asheville. Then they threw a raclette party to which I was happily invited. The raclette, of which I had never previously heard, is wonderful. The stone piece heats up on both sides; what you cannot really see in this picture are the little slots for little pans under the stone. You put bread and cheese in the pans and then top them with the grilled veggies, or, well, go wild with pickles and potatos and all manner of other lovely bits and pieces of good things to eat. It was extremely fun and very delicious and if I ever need to buy another wedding present, this is going to be it.

That's the food part; for the clothing part, I must report that I think I want my entire wardrobe to be made of corduroy. I have somehow acquired several pairs of corduroy pants and a couple corduroy skirts as well as the screamingly eighties giant corduroy shirt I have had for many years and I think I need more, like, full on corduroy! Corduroy dress! Corduroy underwear! It's comfortable and great looking and if you're really really bored you can run your hands surreptitiously over your corduroy clad legs and space out on the strange serrated texture. Conversely, you can pick small threads out of it ad nauseam while the teacher drones on and on about Latin verbs or something. Yes, the last time I wore this much corduroy was seventh grade; how did you guess? I have also long been partial to men in corduroy sport coats. I know they're supposed to be some kind of fashion faux pas but I think they are awesome if just for the aforementioned strokability factor. So, corduroy: yes.

Sex! I've been thinking about my post from yesterday and the whole nature of celebrity in our culture and crushes on celebrities and just how it is that everyone, even my ex-husband, who was so tuned out of popular culture that I referred to him more than once as the Iceman, has at least one celebrity crush. (Chrissie Hynde.) Often these begin in adolescence and never quite go away (my love for Nicolas Cage began with Valley Girl and has somehow managed to survive Ghost Rider (eeeeyaaargh!) and those unbelievably terrible National Treasure movies.) I theorize that the whole idea of the crush began with the romantics - didn't everyone in 1830 have a tremendous crush on Byron? - but I wonder idly if maybe they are even older and then I wonder what need it is that they fulfill.

And then I think it must be awkward to be the recipient of a crush - I have actually myself been this and it is kind of awkward. Flattering, but awkward, because you just sort of never know what to do. Does Johnny Depp feel weird about all the women in the world - me included - who dream about him? I remember once running into Richard Butler from the Psychedelic Furs at a bar in NYC with my old boyfriend. He was beside himself with one of those heterosexual man crushes: he really liked the Furs. "I just want to say one thing to him," he said to me, "Do you know how many times I've had sex to the sound of your voice?"

It's kind of a strange commentary on our brains, I think, that we create these perfect people in our heads, based on how they look in (heavily edited) photos and on our TV screens and then fix on them as if they were really our friends or lovers. They're just people but somehow, in our celebrity obsessed culture, they seem like more. Maybe we are god deprived and need Olympians to gawk at. Maybe we just like to gawk. Gods know I do and I know and care less about celebrities than anyone I know - except my ex-husband.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote in some book or another - I am heavily paraphrasing from memory, here, being too lazy to look any of it up - that the problem with the world was that people had moved beyond living in small villages. People need storytellers, he said, and painters and poets and musicians and, I will add, photographers and film makers and, oh I don't know, theremin players. Enough of each of these people are born to fulfill the needs of a village, but unfortunately, we all want the same ones, and, like the Highlander, only one can survive and make it to the top. Well, by one I mean thousands, given the population of the planet, but it's still far less than the one to twenty or so ratio that Kurt was suggesting. He felt that this made the village artist types who never got to the top exactly unhappy and I think he's right. We look beyond the local for our fantasies when instead perhaps we should look around the neighborhood and to reality. Or not. I have no idea where I'm going with this, by the way, is that apparent yet?

Therefore, I leave you with this summing up: Raclettes, yes! Corduroy, yes! Johnny Depp, yes! Recent Nic Cage movies, no!

Monday, October 19, 2009

james mcmurtry

I went to see James McMurtry again at the Gray Eagle last night and I'm completely in love or in crush or whatever it is when you fall for someone you have never actually met. As you know if you have read this blog long, this crush is far from new. It's been going on for years, getting stirred up whenever he comes to Asheville (yes of course I have been to every damn concert he's given here in the last ten years.) It's gotten a little ridiculous because I'm starting to feel either like a young teenage girl or a complete fucking nut - not, I grant you, that there is an enormous amount of difference between these two states of being. The whole state of crush is a strange one and looking at the pictures (I only put four up on flickr but there are twelve good ones, my god I love my new lens and the Gray Eagle, which lets you get up close and has decent light) I get all shaken up inside and my heart beats a little faster. Damn, I have it bad and I am unsure if there is any cure.

Well, he's a good crush person anyway because he's a total genius and a brilliant poet and a great musician, so, you know, it's definitely more explicable than crushing away on married Ron from Accounting (note just for the record that we have no Accounting where I work, nor any Ron. I like my coworkers okay but not, you know, that way.) but, of course, with Ron from Accounting you can always take action - action that might lead to shattered lives and destroyed jobs, or just a boring date where you find out that he voted for W and has a toupee and bad breath, whichever - whereas with a famous person it's a little more difficult.

I thought about hanging around until the show was long over and hoping to bump into him, although I have actually tried that several times and it has never worked. The first time he simply headed for the door and didn't even notice me. The second time I ran into an old boyfriend and ended up going off with him instead, which was smart, because as I recall, we ended up having an argument on Lexington Avenue at 3 am and who would want to miss that? The third time I had a nice conversation with the drummer, who was the only one in the band who ever left the damn green room. And this time I just gave up and went on home without lingering.

Because, frankly, what am I going to say? I'd like to fuck you until your ears bleed? As true as that statement might be, I do not now and never have had and never will have sufficient balls to say that out loud to someone who I don't know really, really (REALLY) well. I'm shyer than you think I am. Believe it or not, I'm extremely shy for the most part - it's why I need medication in the form of 12 oz bottles of decent lager and let's all thank the beer gods that it was ever invented. Anyway, even if I was unshy enough to say something like that, you can see how it could be taken the wrong way, and instead of the recipient thinking, "Oooh, great offer, I must investigate this further," he might well think "Ewwww, go away weird stalker woman." It is a conundrum. It's too bad he didn't have a dog with him. I'm perfectly capable of holding long and intelligent conversations with strange dogs. It's just strange people - well, actually, I'm better with strange people than I am with normal ones, come to think of it - who throw me for a loop.

The show, by the way, was AMAZING. Blow you right straight out of the water amazing and incredible and I think I was even brought almost to tears a couple of times. It was crowded but that was okay and, phew, I was not the only person right up at the front of the stage looking all worshipful and a bit idiotic. I can't really think of anything else to say about it - describing concerts turns out not to be my forte, go figure - so you can just add your own superlatives here. Fantastic. Awesome. And so on.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Joys of Being Boring

kitten and jen
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
In fifteen minutes or so I'm going to the library and then to the Ingles - the one on Haywood Road, often referred to as the 3rd World Ingles or, more simply, the Shingles. It is my favorite Ingles, for what it's worth, because it is still small and I can find everything. I hate the giant soul destroying Ingleses with their coffee bars and wide aisles and gas stations and video rentals and what not, no, they are not for me. Give me the tiny, grubby Ingles crammed with a weird cross section of humanity - I have seen, at different times, everything from tiny angry Russian grandmothers to furious followers of hiphop style to super dreaded hippies in my Ingles, all coexisting in peace - that is my neighborhood supermarket. However, I'm going to the downtown library, not the West Asheville one. Localism can only take you so far.

You would think I would be all bummed out about this given that it is Friday night and all but in fact I am thrilled, practically bouncing out of my seat with joy at the prospect of my errands and then, gods be praised, home. Home where it is sort of warm, or will be once I make a quiche and I can put on pyjamas and toss the dogs off the big chair and just sit and read. Yeah, I'm boring but I don't think that's wrong when it makes me so very happy.

In other news, I have absolutely not one single idea for a Halloween costume this year. Last year I was Ogga the cave girl, which was awesome, but I try not to repeat. The year before that I believe I sort of didn't bother with Halloween and perhaps it was the year before that that I was Trash, which was a good costume idea that I completely stole from my friend Dianna. I wore clothes made out of trash bags and also torn fishnets, bright red lipstick and beer cans. This year, unless I suddenly get inspired, I think I'll just wear some of the weirder things in my wardrobe and be myself, only more so. In other words, kind of like the Halloween years ago when I meant to go as the snake goddess but forgot all the rubber snakes, so I was just a girl in a weird dress. A girl with huge pupils, not, of course, that there would ever have been LSD involved in a decision like that or innocent twenty something me would ever have been involved in such terrible things. Hee. I will never forget that Halloween, because as my friend Linda and I moved around downtown Charleston, which was more, um, dreamlike than usual, some people in regular preppie clothes hooted at us. Without missing a beat, Linda yelled "Nice costumes! You look just like yuppies!" and I laughed for several hours. This halloween is unlikely to beat that. Because, as I mentioned, I'm boring.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


django and perdita
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
It is raining but then it has been raining for months, so that is no surprise. The new addition to the rain this time is cold; winter is icumen in, lude sing fuel bills and I find myself on the horns of a wintry dilemma. My house (as of Sunday, I will have lived in it for a year. Wow.) which, as I may have mentioned, is the youngest house I have ever lived in, being only 43, has one of the older heat sources I've ever lived with: a circa 1987, far from code, condensing boiler. What is a condensing boiler? I don't really know! But I will attempt to explain it anyway.

As I understand it, propane from the completely hideous and massive propane tank over on the side of the yard goes under my house in pipes and ends up at the boiler, which squats in the corner of the basement and looks simultaneously a little ominous and a little ridiculous. The ridiculous is mostly because some previous tenant decided to fill up the old holes in the boiler area with old pairs of jeans. Yes, the people who lived in my house had less money than sense and they were not really all that well stocked in the sense department (witness all my genius inherited Krazy Karpentry.) If all goes well, the propane then fuels a scary area of fire in the boiler that heats hot water in a system of pipes. This is not the hot water that comes out of the tap, mind you, but other hot water in a closed (except for the pieces of garden hose that are attached to the boiler and go out through denim stuffed holes into the yard. That is apparently the open part.) system which goes merrily off to the baseboard heater things that are such a pain to clean and are always falling apart. Once the hot water has made its way through the house with much clanking and groaning, there is heat. Last year, after about $300 worth of work on the boiler, a lot of muttering and shaking of heads and several massive payouts to the propane people, there was heat and it was good.

This year, all that is going to change. The natural gas people have been by many times and after months of negotiations, have agreed to run natural gas pipes down my street. The boiler guy has been by several times and shaken his head and written me up estimates and contracts and finally, a couple of weeks ago, I gulped and signed all this paperwork. All this is fine and good and I am psyched even though I am going to have to lay out some major, but major, cash - the stickler is when. Nothing can happen until the gas company puts in the pipes which they think will probably be sometime in November - late November. Or early December. Depending on the weather. The weather is not cooperating.

In the meantime, I have not yet attempted to fire up the old boiler. The propane tank is 20% full, which is not a whole lot of propane and because I hate the propane company with a white hot passion, I am damned if I am going to buy any more propane from them. I am also not sure if the old boiler will fire up one more time anyway. So I'm baking. I go home every night and try to make something that takes at least two hours in the oven and voila, my house is nice and toasty for the next 24 hours (it has this mysterious modern thing called insulation, which I had never encountered before and with which I am now deeply in love.)

The cooking theory of home warming is all fine and good but I doubt its efficacy once the temperature outside drops below 40, which it is going to do this weekend. Also, I am growing fat. Fatter, anyway. And I am running out of recipes. Wish me luck. I'm going to have to try to get the old boiler to boil again soon and I am a little trepidatious. Perhaps if I promise it a new pair of jeans.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Random Tuesday

the prisoner
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
1. If you google images of water drops (just in case, you know, you are the kind of person who is looking to steal one for a flyer for a small event, not that you would ever do such a terrible thing) you will discover that the iconic image of the shape of a rain or tear drop is actually totally false. When they're photographed, they're spheres. You will also discover that nobody ever photographs the damn things without the impact ring underneath them, either, probably because they don't look like much without it. Lots of people, however, photoshop planets and hearts and stuff into the watery spheres. That was probably cute the first time.

2. When I was little and used to ask my father where my mother was, he would say "She joined the Russian navy and is cruising deep under the arctic ice pack in a nuclear submarine." This drove me crazy at the time but now I think it was funny as hell.

3. Leaving a white sweater in the backseat of your car when you own three large muddy dogs is insane. Hell, owning a white sweater and three dogs is insane. We won't even go into the madness of combining a mostly black wardrobe with a mostly white cat.

4. Yesterday I did not mean to dis the use of cream of mushroom soup or onion soup mix in any or possibly even all recipes. I am one of the worlds' major users of cream of mushroom soup, myself - why, just two nights ago it formed part of the base of my chicken pot pie and a couple days before that it was a founding ingredient in a weird but quite tasty faux Mexican casserole thingy (which also incorporated half a jar of totally artificial orange chee-zee dip, so there.) And how could one make tuna casserole or white trash green bean casserole (1 can cream of mushroom, 1 can green beans, 1 can french fried onion crunchees, 30 minutes, 375 degrees, frighteningly delicious) without it? As far as I'm concerned canned cream of mushroom soup came to us straight from culinary heaven itself. What I meant to dis was those who put recipes up on the internet without any measurements or time or temperatures. They suck. Also, you should always at least pretend to add one vegetable, like an onion, which is not a particularly vegetably vegetable but gives you some small vague cooking cred. Oh and my meat is still gone. Gone, baby, gone! I had to go buy another one and now I have to manage to brown it at 8 in the morning tomorrow, which seems somehow difficult and is one of the reasons I am not a huge crock pot fan.

5. I have discovered a song that I cannot stop listening to. Goodbye Dreaming Fields by Martin Newell. I believe it may just be the perfect song. Naturally, it took 16 years for me to find out about it.

Monday, October 12, 2009


welcome to my house
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Annie came over yesterday and helped me decorate the house for Halloween. This is the first year that I've really decorated this house, since last year I had only just moved in mid October and all I could manage was the bat flag and the skeleton creature with too many legs. Oh, and the giant, light up, moving spider on the back porch, who has stayed right there, dark and unmoving, since last year. So I was psyched to open my Halloween bins and pull out assorted skulls and flags and Frankenstein, who sings when you knock on the door, infuriating the entire neighborhood and the poor old ghost, who used to move and moan so happily up and down his rope but now is arthritic and old and can only get halfway across, creakily. I didn't take him out this year. Annie was a great help; I wouldn't have thought of sticking the skulls on the sunflower stalks without her and they look fantastic, as does the finished scarecrow, who is so actually scary that I'm a little concerned for the kids across the street. Bwah ha ha ha! Look, Halloween is my major religious holiday. I like to go all out.

In the spirit of Halloween, my house or my brain or something has been inhabited by goblins: I'm missing an entire chuck roast and a pack of cigarettes. Stands to reason that I would be haunted by carnivorous chain smoking poltergeists. I mean, I know I bought a roast on Saturday. I even have the receipt and, because I was irritated with my own failure to cook it yesterday, I was actually, in a rare display of housewifelyness, going to put it in the crockpot this morning despite the googling and resultant awful recipes (I don't know about you, but I'd be deeply ashamed to put a recipe on the internet that said: beef roast, Liptons' onion soup mix, cream of mushroom soup, put all in crock pot for a while, yum. I mean, come on. Add a fucking onion. Make up a measurement or something. Have some recipe pride.) Anyway, well, when I went to pull it out of the fridge I discovered that it was gone. Perhaps it never existed. Maybe I've slipped over from an alternate dimension again - why, oh why, can I never end up in the one where I'm married to Johnny Depp and just won the lottery? No, I have to keep landing in the dimension where everything is mundanely awful and the most interesting part of my weekend involves a missing chuck roast that I'm kind of ashamed to admit that I would eat anyway. Ah well. It will be an eternal mystery, since it's not in the car, either; maybe I left it at Ingles.

And then there are the cigarettes: did I indeed buy two packs at BJs on Friday night after I left the Admiral? Then did I smoke two and a half packs in what remained of Friday night? I grant you I smoke a lot but that seems extreme even for me. However, I don't really know, which is why the smart goblins move into houses like mine and not houses that belong to super organized people who know where their meat is at all times. All hail Eris. She's living in my basement again.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Vacation Let Me Tell You It Part Two

degas on toast
Originally uploaded by mygothlaundry
Hello! I am back. I am still on vacation, at least for the next 14 hours or so and it has been a riproaring good time - why, just today, I mowed the lawn and any minute now, I mean any minute, I'm going to put the laundry away. Whoooo. This is all good, but it cannot hold a candle to our adventures on the streets of Gatlinburg.

Let's see, we left our adventurers, which is to say, me, Audrey, Joey and Annie, at the aquarium. We headed down the many ramps to the trolley stop, thinking we would leave the car parked where it was and trolley it around town. The main trolley stop is conveniently located right there at the aquarium; you can tell because they have a nifty sign that shows you when the next one is coming, which in our case was momentarily. What they do not have is a sign with a map on it or directions of any kind.

"Look," said Audrey, "They have different colors. Does that mean they have different routes?"
"Oh no," I said blithely, "They all just go around town. Otherwise there'd be a map or something here. And it's probably free. I'm sure it's free."

We got on and the driver told us that no, it was not free. So we paid our 50 cents each and went to the back of the bus with the map and schedule - the driver had a stack up front. We were just beginning to figure it out when the trolley pulled away from the curb - and headed towards nowhere, or the visitor center, whichever came first, because, of course, the trolleys have different routes. We got to know ours well, since what the trolleys do not really have are transfer points, so we just sat tight. For 40 minutes. During which Joey got in trouble for opening a window and we listened to five teenage girls discuss their own Gatlinburg adventure.

Thus we were ready for a restorative beverage. Susan and Laura, who had opted out of the aquarium, said they were in a bar downtown and to meet them there. So we piled back into the car and headed to Hoggs and Honeys, which, due to a typo in Susan's text and/or a font issue on the sign, I thought was called Haggs and Honeys, which made me think happily that perhaps it was a Macbeth themed place - you know, with haggis and mead. Yet again I was proved wrong!

After a beer at Haggy Honey, Annie decided that she could do with a little lie down. So Joey and I took her up the winding mountain to the chalet (the real estate company called on Saturday morning to see how we were doing and the lady on the phone said, "Is everything okay with the Chalet?" and for a moment, I swear, I thought I was in Versailles. Then that old Squeeze song got into my head and it only just left. Behind the chalet, indeed. There were bears behind our chalet, not just mussels. Take that, Squeeze!) and then we decided that, rather than drive down the road, we'd take the cable car.

Uber Gatlinburg! Heil! The entrance was just a few feet from our road, so we drove on up to the gatepost.
"It vill be four dollars." said a man in a golf shirt with a thick, thick Transylvanian accent.
"Okay," I said, forking it over, "Um, how do we find it."
"Follow," he said portentously, "Ze double yellow lines." and disappeared back into his hut.
"Damn," I said to Joey, "Dracula must be hard up for work these days."

Uber (Okay, it's Ober, but I like the sound of Uber better) Gatlinburg is a strange, strange place. It's like. . . a mall. Specifically, Innsbruck Mall - deserted and smelling of bleach and despair. Perhaps it is more lively when it's full of artificial snow; I have no idea. There were wide expanses of linoleum and an Asian woman in a kiosk selling unnecessary stuffed animals who, for $20, gave us each an ultraviolet hand stamp. I asked for a paper ticket, planning to give it to Audrey or Susan so they could ride back up, but we had no common language, so that was a bust. Oh well. We got in line for the cable car.

The giant wheels that run the cable car are right there in the cheerless green atrium where you wait for the tram, contemplating the weight and people limits. Simple math will tell you that the people who designed the tram did so with under 200 pound humans in mind. They need to revise that for contemporary America: about half the people in the line were 300 pounders, easy. That was unnerving, but I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least they would be soft to land on. Anyway, that fear pales before the fear inspired by the grinding, shrieking, moaning noises the wheels and cable make. That's the sound that makes you commend your soul to God. I probably would have split if I'd been alone, but I was with my daughter's boyfriend and I would rather be eaten by giant weasels than show fear in that circumstance. I feel it's important that my children's significant others know that I can crush them like dust if it becomes necessary.

The tram was actually really fun, even if it was completely terrifying. It was made better by the fact that Joey and I were both paralyzed with fear, yet each attempting to not divulge that to the other. "Great, isn't it?" we shouted at each other with clenched teeth, clinging for all life to the bars on the windows. "The tram will sway when it goes over the towers," said the mean guide. "OKAY!" said Joey and I, grinning madly like skulls.

After another much needed restorative beverage, we headed down the street to the Mirror Maze. This was a most excellent place. You put on plastic gloves and rainbow glasses and walk into a space lined with mirrors and loud with a really fucking annoying repetitive techno soundtrack. The only lights are the little red LEDs on the carpet and it takes about ten or fifteen minutes of lurching around into mirrors, laughing hysterically, before you find your way out. It was spectacular. I want to build one in my basement as soon as I get seriously back into drugs.

Then it was time to return to the chalet, where, alas, there were no bears, but my brother had shown up. The next morning there was a quick frenzy of packing and cleaning and then everyone except Audrey, Joey and I headed back to Asheville. We felt we had not yet maximized our Gatlinburg journey and wanted more. Also, Audrey and I hadn't gone shopping yet. It was vital that we go shopping.

We went shopping and bought cool stuff like a Smoky the Bear sign and James Dean lighters and we contemplated but did not buy T-shirts that said What Happens in Gatlinburg Stays in Gatlinburg and eventually we ended up at the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum, another place that I uncritically adore. I mean, a two headed calf, part of the Berlin Wall, a chastity belt, a mummy, Mr. Ito, the Giant Chair and a Degas made of toast - all in one museum. It's like a dream come true. Hell, I want to work there. I like to imagine their scholarly library, full of the Weekly World News and the Fortean Times and the eager, intellectual curatorial staff, madly researching flying saucers and stuff. Yeah, it's my dream job.

Then we left Gatlinburg - goodbye, goodbye! Would never in a thousand years want to live there! No, never! - and headed to Pigeon Forge. Pigeon Forge is depressing. I haven't got much to say about Pigeon Forge except that years ago there were outlets there with great shopping but now they are gone, taken over by inexplicable Russians hawking ugly handbags or empty, haunted only by the ghosts of bargain hunters. We went to an underwear outlet and tried on bras of every size, none of which fit, and bought underwear which has already fallen apart. It began to rain and we spent a small fortune on lunch at a TGIFridays (this is still rankling. If I'm going to spend SEVENTY FUCKING DOLLARS on lunch for three people, in a place where they don't even have real liquor, I want it to be HAUTE GODDAMN CUISINE. Not TGIFridays. Grrrrrrrrr.) and headed back to Asheville. It is good to be back.

Monday, October 05, 2009

My Vacation Let Me Tell You It Part One

Well, I have seen Gatlinburg (again) and lived to tell the tale. It was fun. I'm kind of suffering from fun withdrawal right now, actually - not that it isn't fun to walk around in circles in my house contemplating cleaning up and all, but it's no goddamn black light miniature golf course. Eventually, of course, once I go completely mad, it will be, but those wondrous days are still far in the future.

We left for Gatlinburg on Friday around twoish. Yes, the plan had originally been to leave tenish and then noonish but we all know how those plans go. Annie and Joey and I all piled into Audrey's car with the approximately 150 pounds of food we weren't able to squeeze into Susan's car (thank you Susan for carrying all my stuff to the mountains and then taking my auntie on back! I owe you major beers!) and we proceeded to Cherokee and points beyond. We took 441 across Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I think it might have been a beautiful drive if we had been able to see even five feet in any direction but since we were trapped deep in the kind of fog that Victorian London could only dream of, we have no idea. We were luckier than the car in front of us - they disappeared completely. Unless they were a ghost car to begin with, which is possible. Never drive a white car on 441 - you'll wake up in the Bermuda triangle.

The house we had rented turned out to be fully awesome, if also about half the size it looked online. That was okay! There was a hot tub and a pool table and three different levels, which worked out beautifully. We liked it. We were not the only ones who liked it - about twenty minutes after we arrived Audrey started screaming. "A BEAR! A BEAR!" So we rushed to the windows, also screaming (this family never wastes the opportunity for a good scream) and there was, indeed, a bear. Joey, who has seen bears before, opined that it was a young, small bear. Considering that it was about the size of a Newfoundland and about 40 feet away, I thought it was big enough. It came up by the side of the house, glanced at us, ignored us and headed up the road with this sort of world weary air.

So that was fully amazing and then, as Audrey and Joey and I were sitting on the downstairs deck (two decks, y'all. For the weekend, you could call me Felicity "Two Decks" Green) indulging in intoxicants along came Mama. She was so close I could have spit on her, if, that is, I was suicidally foolish. She was also completely uninterested in our screaming and my terrible camera work - she looked up at us and headed along the same path her child had taken earlier. Mama was the size of a pony and she inspired great awe in me, so I called my brother, who was planning on arriving by motorcycle, to tell him there were bears all over the place. Once an older brother, always an older brother.
Him: "Yeah there are tons of bears up there. Didn't you know that? It's a real problem. They kill people."
Me: "What the hell do you mean they kill people?"
Him: "At night, you know, when they climb in the windows of those rented houses or get on the deck and drag people out of the hot tubs. A few tourists die every year. What, didn't you bring a gun?"
Me: "SHUT UP!"

The bears did not return for the rest of the weekend, however, which saddened Susan and Laura, who got in a couple hours after we did and secretly relieved me, who that very night had to get out of the hot tub and go upstairs and plead for someone, anyone, to come on down to the hot tub just, you know, in case of bears. What can I say? I'm bearanoid.

On Saturday we went to the aquarium, where we met the delightful character pictured up at the right. Cuttlefish are my new favorite animal. This is the second time I've been to Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and man, I love that place. I know, it's Ripley's, yadda yadda, but seriously I think it's one of the best aquariums in the country. I love it. I recommend it. It makes me happy. Yes it is hokey - of course it's hokey, it's in fucking Gatlinburg, Hoke Capital, USA - but the exhibits are amazing well done and all the fish look great and, which I think is good, they do not have whales or dolphins or the kind of fish who I feel are unhappy in tanks. I started hating the Baltimore aquarium when they put in the dolphin show.

There is more to come! The vacation continued through more Gatlinburg and cable cars and trams and a vastly hilarious trip to the horrifically depressing outlet centers of Pigeon Forge (there is nothing like going to a bra outlet to make you feel like a mutant, let me tell you) and all that will come tomorrow. Why tomorrow? Because, hon (may I call you hon? Will you think it is wrong and weird? What planet are you from anyway?) this is long enough and I am still on vacation WHOO and it is now time to drink beer and luxuriate in that incredibly wonderful OMG I STILL HAVE TWO DAYS OFF feeling. Yay!