Thursday, December 4, 2008

Nothing says Merry Christmas like Canned Beets

We were doing a food drive at church and the youth pastor told the kids to be sure not to give the homeless gross food. Only food you would like to eat yourself. Good tip. He has to say that because as soon as we hear the words "food drive", we all think "Here's our chance to get rid of those canned beets."

Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.

I don't think the question is about whether it's right to give homeless people canned beets, I think the more fascinating question is why we even have canned beets in our pantries in the first place? For God's sake why?

Here's what I have in mine. Canned asparagus. I only tolerate fresh asparagus on a good day. Canned, it is the slimiest green foul-smelling mush on the planet. And I know my slimy green foul-smelling mush, believe you me. Also we have a can of Carnation condensed milk. It's not that gross. But it's mysterious. Why is it in there? Who bought it? It's like the ghost of my grandma snuck in and placed that can of condensed milk on the shelf one night to remind me that I should be baking cheescake from scratch like any good post WWII housewife would have in her day. (Wait, do you even bake cheesecake? I have a long way to go on that one.)

But here it is. The Peace of Resistance (Joke. Like to point out the weak ones): A Can of CREAM OF SHRIMP SOUP. Yes, in my pantry at this very moment. I feel certain that if I did some internet research, Campbells's would deny ever manufacturing Cream of Shrimp Soup at any time in their company history. It was a grave error best wiped off the historical ledgers of soupdom. But I, Cynthia Reber, possess this sole reminder of that horrible time in Campbell's research and development leadership (The 70's? I'm assuming? There was a lot of weird stuff going on then.)

And no, I will not donate to the canned food drive. And somehow I'm not able to throw it away, because then how can I ever convince myself again that it really existed? So for my sanity, thready as it is, I quietly push it behind the tuna and all-too-familiar chicken noodle soup. To remain there a silent witness to the mysterious underworld of the pantry shelf.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Thought of the Day

A newly painted room is like a small fresh start.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Do it right, do it tonight

I know that pop lyric writing is not exactly the pinnacle of the arts, but are there any standards at all? I think it's time to draw a line. Just one little line. There are a few phrases so grossly overused that I believe a moratorium is required. You can only crank out and refeed us the same musical line so many times before some sort of ugly prion begins to wipe out humanity. It like when you grind up cows and make other cows eat them for dinner. Oh baby baby mad cow disease. There are certain phrases that I just can't hear anymore on the radio without getting a twitch.

Let's start with the obvious: "On and on until the break of dawn".

I'm sorry, we've reached the 1 billion mark on this lyric. I'm calling for a 20 year moratorium. By that time a new generation of pop music listeners will be ready to think "on and on until the break of dawn" is unadulterated genius. Good for them. The same wankers who want to tell you about this really funny movie called Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but secretly they don't think you'd understand the humor.

With some lyrics it's the relentless grinding repetition with others it's the idiot factor. Some goofy phrase that has no business in any song that takes itself so seriously. How about Fergie's, " a little school maid in the school yard, we'll play jacks and Uno cards.." How poignant. I just want to yell "bullshit!" when I hear it. In fact I do. I roll my car window down, stick my head out the window while I'm driving and scream "BULLSHIT!!!" at the top of my lungs. (Well, in my mind I do anyway.)

I used to get all riled up about this one R&B song that was on the radio, "Peaches and Cream". He'd repeat "peaches and cream" over and over. It was such a lame song. I'd always say, "Do you think that guy has every actually eaten peaches and cream? Could he even pick a bowl of peaches and cream out of a line up? I bet if I put some ice cream on one side and a bowl of Fruit Loops on the other he'd be hard pressed to differentiate the 3. And listen to how he's using the simile! The situation is nothing LIKE peaches and cream, there no freaking similarity at all!!" Then my husband would ask me how any Diet Cokes I'd had that day. I tried to explain to him it was not the crappiness of the song, it was the hypocrisy of the lyric. Illogical metaphors, lack of social context, the whole thing on my last nerve.

Okay, yes, maybe some of the songs I like don't have the most stellar lyrics. I'll concede. But here's the thing: Snoop Dogg really DON'T love dem ho's. See? It's real. Fo shizzle.

There, it's out of my system. Now I can just turn on some good music and thank the powers above for Jack Johnson. And the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

I was looking at a computer page about bat facts. Specifically the fact that "blind as a bat" is a misnomer. And I was listening to Sam talk on the phone about big numbers. Business type stuff. And then I was struck. Lost my breath, on the verge of something amazing for a split second. And then it was gone.

Deja Vu. I just had one right this minute. A big one. Because they do vary in size. Or is it depth? Or is it strength? Or is it some combination measurement of place and time? And I thought maybe if I blogged very quickly I could retain a tiny shred of that feeling that washes over you the moment it occurs. That feeling of significance, strangeness, being close to the discovery of something heretofore unknown in our normal tiny sphere of thought. But the meaning of the moment and that unique brand of disorientation quickly dissolves. Not unlike a dream only remembered for moments after waking. That is not a coincidence I'm sure.

Deja Vu. What the hell is it really? I remember from a college course on learning and memory that Deja Vu is possibly a new neural pathway trying to form but getting sidetracked into the memory area of your brain. A new piece of information accidentally processed as a memory.

Very neat and tidy. Makes sense. But what about that feeling? And why am I so sure that I dreamed it. Dreamed it and remembered it? About a month ago I think. And I'm almost sure I tried to tell Sam as we were waking up. Because it was so comical. A bat fact. Why were you looking at a bat fact? I have no idea, but I was and you were having a serious discussion with someone right next to me.

That's the trick, see. If only you could tell someone or write it down. Then you would know for sure. Not a sidetracked neural pathway. Something far more interesting. But that would change everything wouldn't it? So it couldn't possibly be true.

After 3 minutes of blogging I have returned to my baseline level of orientation. In nursing we don't say "normal", we say "baseline". It's all relative to how oriented one was to begin with .
Psychic revelation safely averted. Time to return to my bat fact. Due in kindergarten class at 9am tomorrow.

Did you know that the common brown bat can live for over 30 years? It's true.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cannonballs Strictly Prohibited

Recently we took a mini grown-up vacation to Las Vegas. The vacation was mini, not the grown-ups. We're both quite tall actually. Anyway, we stayed at the Palms and I saw this warning sign at the edge of the pool that made me laugh out loud. So I took a picture for you. Those are my husband's feet.

There was an area along the side of one pool that was only 6 inches deep and had some recliners scattered about. You might think it's overkill to warn people not to dive into a 6 inch reflecting pool. Most places maybe. But not in Vegas. It perfectly illustrates what makes Las Vegas so very entertaining and so awful all at the same time.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Rule #1: Never sing a Whitney Houston song

I'm going to just lay it out there:

I like to watch American Idol.

Sorry "cool people", but there it is. I Tivo it. I look forward to it. Sometimes I go back and watch my favorite part again. Hate me if you must, but I will no longer pretend. No, Ryan Seacrest doesn't bug me. I think he's like a clever little sexually-ambiguous elf. Very attractive in a happy elf sort of way. Paula is practically incoherent and obviously heavily medicated most of the time. But that's part of the fun, don't you see? And yes, I would sleep with Simon.

Okay maybe not. But I like him.

And I know that you know what I'm talking about. Oh yes.

Frankly when people say they never watch TV and they don't know any TV shows my bullshit meter starts to play the Macarena. It's annoying, I know. I can't figure out how to change the song on that thing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Slice of Julia

I posted this blog on The Julia Set.

Team Spirit

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Today's thoughts: Champagne and Bunny Ears

Here’s what I hate: False Invitations.

When people invite you but are hoping you will not accept. Or it is unspoken, but well understood, that you will not accept. Or the worst of all: you’d very much like to accept, but you are not able. And they are well aware that you are not able. Then the insult to injury is when the false invitation is used as a support pole for their little pup tent of righteousness. A rhetorical question asked for the sole purpose of allowing a future, “Well, I invited you”.

Here’s what I love: Champagne.

It’s the bubbles. And It has to be dry, delicate, and very softly golden. I do so love a glass of champagne. Or a bottle, depending. On whether or not the bottle is available.

Here’s what’s great about being 2 years old: Wearing Bunny Ears.

My 2 year old little girl started preschool a couple mornings a week. One morning she brought out a pair of bunny ears and said she wanted to wear them to school. I thought it was a fine idea, although I never thought they would stay on past the car ride there. But when I came to pick her up 3 hours later, as I spied in the window, there she sat at her tiny table in her tiny chair, coloring. With bunny ears still perched on her blonde little head. Wonderful stuff that.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Cynthia Will Do For Money

This is something I wrote before when I was aka Swirly. It still amuses me, although I'm a pretty easy audience. Go on, tell me a joke.

I'm reading this very entertaining book by Daniel Gilbert called Stumbling on Happiness. Parts of it read like a college psych text, but with way better jokes. It was just taking me back to my own college days in the psychology department. Not as a student, but as a paid research volunteer. They don't pay you much. It would basically take up your entire afternoon and you'd leave with beer money for that night. But it was fun.

A favorite tactic of the psych crowd is the ol' bait and switch. At the end, a researcher (grad student) would debrief you and tell you what the experiment was really about. "We were not actually measuring your ability to sort jellybeans while we blasted the theme to the Mickey Mouse Club into your headphones. We wanted to see your reaction when the girl next to you physically attacked you and then ate all your candy." Aha!

The Plant. They were big on having a fake volunteer in the group. Sometimes to see if you'd help them, but frequently to have that person make trouble and see what you'd do. So I found one of the best things to do was to wait till the researcher had explained the task and left the room and then I would address the whole group. Something like, "I just want to let everyone know that I am a 2nd degree black belt in jujitsu and I am taking this toothpick stacking assignment VERY seriously. Do not even THINK about fucking with my toothpicks because I will kick your ass."

Then there was the confused volunteer who needed help. You could always go with the obvious, "Nice one dumbass." And then just laugh and jump around the room like a gorilla going "Look everyone, I'm dumbass, I can't work the computer. Hahahahaha." But then it turned out that guy wasn't actually a plant, so I felt kind of bad afterward.

After that I just went for holding hands and chanting because then if I was wrong it seemed nicer.

They would show us videos of something and then give us questionnaires afterward about the content. In some tricky, red herring kind of way. Sometimes I'd just focus on one little detail. Like I'd just write in how many times the person blinked during the video. I thought on the off chance that turned out to be the question they asked, I would just blow them all away. But it never was.

In the end, it turns out that this type of behavior gets you banned from the psychology department. But I wasn't trying to sabotage their experiments. At all. I was trying to strengthen them. A good research design should be able to absorb some unexpected results right? Like plan B: In the event of Swirly Behavior

Do you know we never had a single knife juggler in any of those scenarios? None of the Plants had Tourette's Syndrome. Not nearly enough nudity. See, I should have been a psych major.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Case of the Mystery Caller

I had a problem for a while with accidental voice mails. I would get several of these inadvertent voice mails every week, sometimes several in one day. They were long and full of vague background noises. Obviously someone was accidentally dialing my phone.

My Stepmom used to do that. I'd answer the phone and hear her yelling out the answers to Jeopardy somewhere in the distance. I knew it was her because her name showed up the caller ID. And because she always misses all the literature questions, but she nails Potpourri. There's meaning in there somewhere, I just can't quite grasp it.

But later when I started getting these 10 times a week accidental voice mails, it always said "restricted number". No help. But it had to be someone who had me on speed dial. Someone I knew, one would hope. I listened carefully for clues. There was a lot of chatter and whooshing noises. Ooh, and maybe a fax machine? Or just screechy feedback? It sounded like they were calling from an office.

I just couldn't crack the mystery. And the frustrating part is I never heard it ring! I wanted to catch them in the act of accidental dialing so I could yell into the receiver, "HEY MORON! YOU CALL ME LIKE 3 TIMES A DAY AND LEAVE LONG EMPTY MESSAGES! GET A CLUE!" I mean who doesn't know how to use a cellphone?

Then one day I got a break on the case. The beep beep of missed call and a voice mail waiting. I listen. This time the chatter is clearer. Whooshing noises, yes. Fax machine? Screechy feedback? Wait! There's music. I recognize it! It's sounds like the Yodeling song from The Sound of Music. In fact I'm certain of it. The chatter....I distinctly make out the word "Mommy". I look into the backseat of my car. At my children staring up at the video screen. Watching the Sound of Music. I felt all the color drain out of my face as I realized that it wasn't screechy feedback. Or fax machines.

It was me.

Singing along with the Yodeling Goatherd in the Sound of Music. Egads.

When I later told my husband, he laughed for about an hour straight. Then, when he able to speak again, he asked me the obvious question, "How could you possibly be calling yourself 3 times a day without knowing it?!"

My only defense (for the dialing, there is no defense for the singing) is that it's an exposed keypad and it gets mushed in my purse and accidentally speed dials. Myself. Good Lord, is it possible that I wasn't only dialing myself but also other people programmed into my speed dial. And leaving them all messages of my Sound of Music sing-a-longs? Like my brother, my friend Emily, the Macaroni Grill, or my obstetrician's office?

It's a good thing I've been conditioned by a lifetime of goofiness to handle these sorts of things in stride. Otherwise it would have been really embarrassing.

By the way, now I have a flip phone.