Saturday, April 29, 2006

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Call me Cordelia

This is Cordelia.

She is wearing pantaloons.

I cannot prove to you that she is wearing pantaloons for the following two reasons:
(1) It would be rude!
(2) If I showed you the pantaloons, you would catch on to Cordelia’s terrible secret; a secret I made solemn vows to Cordelia, my bosom friend, never to tell; a secret wild horses could not drag from me!

Eh, what the hell.

Cordelia is very badly crafted. Cordelia is a textbook example of shoddy workmanship. Cordelia is of poor quality.

She does have a rose-leaf complexion, starry violet eyes, and hair black as a raven’s wing, but that’s only because her little china face came from a factory. The rest of her was created entirely by yours truly, the most gammy-handed seamstress that ever had to google the term "dart" just to be sure. You might think creating something of such dazzling complexity would have made me heady with power, but in fact I feel mortality more keenly than ever because I know how horribly close Cordelia’s head is to falling right off onto the ground and rolling around much in the grotesque manner of Marie Antoinette's, post-guillotining. Cordelia: a symbol of death and the revolution! . . . in pantaloons.

No, she's pretty cute. But her infirmities are entertaining enough that I am unable to resist cataloguing them below. Apologies to Cordelia. Even the beautiful must suffer indignities. Just ask Marie.

Indignity number one: being packaged like this.

She didn’t have a chance, especially after I declined my grandmother’s kind offer to assemble her for me. I’m sorry, Cordelia: she would have made a delicate and proportional beauty out of you, and I butchered you like the Lennie of the sewing world. Now you will have all these sartorial complexes that your Shaker community will not know how to deal with except by reading you endless exerpts from Job. It's hard out there for a Shaker doll with a disreputable tailor.

Moving on: the torso.

If a real woman had Cordelia’s torso, she’d have to forego the use of several internal organs because they would not fit. On the other hand, if she were a real woman, the little paper with the quote on it that I sewed into her would be a serious and costly medical problem, so the issue of realism is something of a moot point. The really embarrassing thing for Cordelia, as a doll is this: she is not properly stuffed! There is extra filler between her torso and her bodice. Loose filler, so she would not look emaciated after I understuffed her torso. She’s afraid to play games in case it pops out in front of her competently-manufactured peers.

Thirdly, her limbs.

When I sewed them on they turned out crooked and are all different lengths, probably because I was laughing the entire time. Appendages!

Fourthly, the limb-torso combination. You may think this is kind of amusing:

I thought this was hysterical:

Then I sewed the arms on, and the chance for Cordelia to have any self respect pretty much ceased here. This is one demon zombie that will never bother Ash again.

At this point, it’s worth mentioning that Cordelia has freakishly muscular calves, so much so that I very nearly couldn’t turn the muslin back over them after gluing it on at the knees. This leads me to believe that, during her ten- or twelve-year stint lying unassembled in a small box in my closet, Cordelia managed to take up what else but Irish dancing.

Ironically, now that all of her parts are sewn together, I doubt she could even manage a round of golf (which is the opposite of any sport that requires being awake much less expending energy). And anyway if she moved enough even to putt a ball three inches, white stuff would bust out of her, so lethargy is really an asset supporting her new, assembled lifestyle.

Let us now turn to the dress. The bodice in a word: hell.

I had to make it twice because it did not occur to me the first time that I shouldn’t sew it closed because Cordelia’s cranium was three times the size of the neck of the dress. Oops. That mistake cost a solid ninety minutes.

The pleats in a (few choice) word(s): hell plus having your fingers repeatedly burned by the steam from a big clumsy iron of DEATH. No, MOLTEN DEATH.

The directions for the skirt specifically warn against cutting the fabric before reading the directions thoroughly. But you have to read the directions thoroughly to know that. Oh, the best laid plans of mice and men ARE THROTTLED BY THE LENNIE OF THE SEWING WORLD. I cut the skirt in half. Then had to sew it back together; then realized I had sewn the wrong ends together and the pleats were off; then ended up having to sew it onto the bodice backwards. Cornelia, still in pieces at that point, wept from her starry violet eyes.

The bonnet I didn’t even try. Having managed a pair of very fetching pantaloons with elastic, a five-part bodice with puffed sleeves (twice), a pleated skirt (ow), and a little ribbon-lined capelet that was so tiny and had so small a seam allowance at the neck that I was forced to repeatedly stab myself in the fingers to complete it – I felt that the bonnet, the darling little bonnet, was really quite beyond me. Victorious over pleats only to be undone by headgear. Actually, I just wanted to be done.

And I was.

But before I reveal the full and finished project in all her flawed, disproportionate, ill-stuffed, badly-ironed, unevenly-sewn, loose-seamed, bobble-headed glory, I would like to thank my loyal dog for her hard work.

Also for her bravery in saving me from the scary, scary thunder. Couldn’t have done it without you, Abbie.

And now, the moment you have all (mainly Ivan) been waiting for: the wearer of the infamous pantaloons: Cordelia!

She is the reason I am now hunchbacked, blind, and arthritic, but I've forgiven her because she looks awfully sweet sitting on a shelf, and also because, before this, I had never had legitimate reason to use the word "pantaloons" even once, and the lack, let me tell you, was sorely apparent.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pantaloons of Infamy; or, There's a Hole in my Bucket . . .

Speaking of haberdashery. Over the weekend I accidentally let it slip to Ivan that I was working on a project that involved pantaloons. I mentioned the pantaloons to her because I never get tired of saying “pantaloons”, as you will see. It makes me think of doubloons which makes me think of pirates which makes me think of pirates in pantaloons which makes me laugh.

Little did I know that the my hilarity concerning the pantaloons would cause Ivan’s brain to melt. I guess technically it was my fault because I wouldn’t say what the mysterious pantaloons were for. Pantaloons . . . are like birthday wishes. If you explain, they won’t come true.


And yet word of the pantaloons's existence got out. I didn't know at that stage what I was getting myself into; the mildness of Ivan's initial interest did not forebode what was to come.

Me: Nothing like sewing pantaloons on a Saturday afternoon.
Ivan: For real?

Ivan then developed, for an unfathomable reason, a sudden paranoid fear of the pantaloons:

Me: I’ve never needed a thimble before.

This quickly progressed to stalking:

Ivan: You must tell me what you're sewing. I almost called your house to ask your mother.

And from here Ivan went directly into harassment via e-mail. These were sent in the space of a single afternoon. They reach sort of a peak of derangement in the third e-mail, and then in numbers four and five you can see that poor Ivan snaps and her spirit is crushed under the weight of unexplained pantaloons. It's a kind of tragicomedy, really. (Sorry, Ivan.)


E-mail #2: SSSiiiiiiiiiMMMOOONNN. the suspense. it's killing me. seriously. you'll be sorry when i'm dead.

E-mail #3: ARRRGGHGGGWEEgtejt6w45345r
i need to know WHY and HOW and FOR WHAT IN THE NAME OF BOB AND HAMAL you are sewing pantaloons for.

E-mail #4: google ads wants me to tell you "$3000/week to crochet!"

E-mail #5: are you done with the thing, about the things yet?

Yes, Ivan, I’m done. And to tide you over until I finish the real post, here are the infamous pantaloons that have been tormenting you so. Didn’t I say they were cute?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Happy Easter!

My mother sends me gifts on fake holidays. Valentine's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving... Her season themed packages make the 12 months of summer (seriously people, 75 and sunny gets old) pass a little easier. For example: October. I close the blinds, turn up the AC, set my gifts of indian corn and mini pumpkins on the table, light my "autumn spice" candle and imagine the leaves falling... then I pack up and go to the beach.

So, thank Bob for Mom, but she doesn't like to send the same thing year after year. For example, Valentine's Day 2006. I got the obligatory chocolates and a card and a rice crispie treat coated in white chocolate and mini hearts, stuck on a popsicle stick. It actually came labeled "Heart Coated Crispie Rice Pop". Let me tell you, I thought good and hard before eating that one.

And today my Easter package arrived. So excited! A Spring themed holiday. Who knows, maybe she sent some crocuses! Or dirty snow! Maybe some damp earth mixed with easter eggs! Mother did not disappoint.
Easter themed Jelly Belly's ,
A pretty Daisy lolly-pop,


wait for it ... wait for it ...


because NOTHING says "Jesus has Risen" like an edible mobile. Sadly, mother forgot about the east coast/west coast temperature disparity. It hit 80 here yesterday and leaving chocolate on my front stoop for two hours was the equivalent of leaving a VHS tape in your car in the middle of august. Tragedy. I tried to pawn it off on my coworkers, but they all made lame comments like "I don't need to make a call", "what does a melty phone have to do with Easter", and "I'm fasting for passover... put me on hold 'til noon then I will try it."

All in all, it was a fantastic Easter present. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go draw the blinds, dye some eggs and pretend it's raining.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Wow, Simon and Ivan have some unique aesthetic preferences . . .

Clearly we are undergoing a change. Thus, the page looks absolutely awful. Sorry about that. Try to avert your eyes.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Ivan's Dog:

Shetland Pony:

Simon's Beast:

just so we're clear.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Abbie: The Decagenarian Edition

Today my puppy turned ten years old. For a present, I gave her some of my leftover chicken from dinner. It took a lot of forethought and careful planning. Happy birthday, Abbie! Just kidding. I gave her ice cream, too. That didn't take careful planning either, but it is much more rare.

Below you will find several pictures of my Abbie-gabbie when she was just a wee fuzzball with enormous paws and very, very sharp teeth. I know they were sharp because they nipped my behind on a number of occasions. Abbie and I had something of a power struggle in the early years, back when she was a demonic terror, but I won because I am bigger and I bite too. Ha!

Demon Hound
Devourer of Ankle Flesh
Convicted Behind-Nipper
She Wants to Gnaw Your Leg Off
Since the Reign of Terror depicted in these hair-raising photographs, Abbie has grown into a delightful and well-adjusted family pet who says please, thank you, and excuse me, and can quote T.S. Eliot at length. She has also grown into what Ivan has on more than one occasion described as a "Shetland pony". This has gone on for some time, even after we got that thyroid problem fixed, and I would like to settle the question once and for all.

This is Abbie:

This is a Shetland pony:

If you don't know this is not a Shetland pony, we are no longer speaking.

Point is: Abbie is obviously Abbie, not a Shetland pony! Also, my mother does not bind her feet! But Ivan's questionable sense of proportion is another matter altogether, and the subject for another, possibly lengthy, blog. It is now time to close. With more pictures of Abbie. Because I have a lot, and damn if you aren't going to be eventually forced to see them ALL.

Abbie: Beach Party Edition
Abbie: Splish Splash Edition
Abbie: Genius Edition
Abbie: Inexpressibly Cute Edition

snail stomper, squirrel hurler

I made the move to Burbank last weekend, and let me strongly recommend never moving your entire life to the Valley in a Honda Civic. The damn thing won’t accelerate when I have too many pairs of shoes in the back let alone 900lbs of books, clothes, and furniture. It also didn’t help that it was POURING the entire time I was dragging IKEA furniture piece by piece from my second story apartment. Not only was everything waterlogged, but the garden snails decided to congregate on the sidewalk for their annual “mill around on the sidewalk and tempt fate” party. As a result, moving sounded like this “ahhh, this furniture is huge and heavy, but I can mana ::CRUNCH:: ge. ::CRUNCH:: ::CRACK:: ::CRUNCH::” It was nauseating.

But I made it, and while unpacking I found several rented DVD’s I thought I lost. Blockbuster charged me a small fortune for these movies and for some reason the words "you're destitute" flashed through my brain in such a persistent pattern when I found them that I decided to drive to my old neighborhood for a credit on my account.

So I’m driving back to West LA and it’s at this point, while stopped at a crosswalk, that a man walks across the street with a cup of coffee in one hand, his morning paper in the other, and a dead squirrel poking out from between the pages. This raised several questions: Why does this man have a squirrel hanging from his morning paper?” Will he eat the squirrel for breakfast? What kind of breakfast can you make with squirrel? Does it taste good in oatmeal? What if you use a lot of brown sugar? Does he do this every morning? Has he been fattening it up? Did he wait till Sunday so he could bludgeon it with a bigger paper?

Squirrels are rather popular these days. My internet-savvy co-workers showed me a video clip called “squirrel hurler”. In the clip, unseen nature lovers-- I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate they're bored male teenagers-- build a small catapult at the edge of a lake and load it with food. The unseen nature lovers wait for a squirrel to wander onto the platform and release the catapult. I’ve overheard several people watching the clip, and the first thing out of their mouth as the squirrel hurtles toward the water is always “can squirrels swim?” There’s a tense moment after the splash and everyone breathes a sigh of relief when it pops up, dog paddles (squirrel paddles?) to the edge of the pond and sprints into the woods.

Maybe the man crossing the street hunted and killed his Sunday paper squirrel in the hopes of testing his own animal hurler... an ocean version perhaps?

And then the light changed, as lights in intersections often do, forcing me to leave the man, the squirrel and all my unanswered questions at the corner of Barrington and National. I think I'll miss West LA.