Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Little Too Much Merriment

This bleary-eyed trio of gingerbread secular humanists seem to have been overdoing it on the Christmas ale.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Silent Night

Graveyard shifts are creepy. You're working in a virtually abandoned office building, all alone, and all of a sudden everything becomes terrifying in its own "wow, you have an extremely over-active imagination" way. I'm jumpy by nature, but when you put me in an oh so quiet cubicle where the motion sensor lights seem to be triggered by everything but actual human motion and the computers make grumbling sounds when they receive email, it starts to make me nervous.

You do your best to suppress your fears: loud cheery music, raiding the cupboards, talking to yourself... It's like babysitting without kids to harass you about playing Monopoly Jr. every twelve seconds. But then you start thinking about babysitting, and about that story you heard where the girl was murdered, and that story about the man with the hook, and then you start to think about Scream, where everyone was murdered, and then you start thinking non-scary movies that could be scary if you applied the plot to your present situation... like Ghostbusters... maybe you shouldn't raid the fridge. Zoul might be in there... or Rick Moranis. Maybe you should put on headphones to block out the sounds... maybe not. If you do you won't hear the murderers approach. crap, maybe you should turn the music off all together. maybe you should hide quietly under a desk until daybreak!

But you eventually talk yourself off a ledge, get your work done as fast as humanly possible and get the hell out of the haunted office building.

It's always the same, and the job I'm working right now is following the graveyard shift formula to a T. Dark hallways, strange noises, fridge that could very well be growing the next Swamp Thing, but to give it it's own special set of terrifying characteristics, they've placed these life-sized gems in the hallway:

Now, those are illuminated by my flash, but in the dim natural light, they look like humans crouching outside the door waiting to either: A) beat me over the head with a guitar or B) smother me with a sheet. Every time I see them from the corner of my eye I jump about 50 feet.

So employers of the night shift I implore you, if we must work the vampire hours, could we at least do it without dead performers staring us down?

Sunday, December 17, 2006


Its been a little dry here for the past month or so. Every time I get out of my car I'm administered an electric shock so powerful it leaves my fingers tingling long after I exit the garage-- and the shocks don't end with the car. It must be my electric personality because whatever I touch in the apartment seems to send out sparks as well.

Unfortunately, the first thing I usually lay my hands on when I come home is the kitten. The routine is as follows: Gil pokes his head out from under my bed covers, confirms it is me and not the "League of Evil Kitten Eaters" come to fry him up, and then he purrs and cuddles for approximately 32 seconds before attacking my feet and becoming the most annoying feline on the planet.

But since there is no moisture in the air, the routine has changed a bit: cat sees me, gains visual confirmation of non-kitten eater, starts to purr and **SHOCK**. You can see the betrayal in his eyes. The girl formerly known only as "the one who won't chew on my legs" as turned into "the girl who specializes in electro-shock treatments". What an unhappy cat. But this new superconductivity has its benefits. Gil loves to sit on my computer, there's nothing I can do about it, but with the dry air, it shocks him too. This is happening with such frequency he's now terrified to walk across the keys. Victory!

So cat leaves the computer alone for the most part. Sadly, one day, while going out of his way to walk AROUND the MacBook, he accidentally grazed a corner and **ZAP**. And that was the last straw. This little kitten reared up on his little kitten legs and took one of his little kitten paws and smacked the computer with all his little kitten strength. And the futility of the gesture was absolutely adorable.

Electrocution: hands down, the best way to bring out the personality in your pet.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Lessons

This was my first year of solo holiday baking. The Baking of the Christmas Cookies: definitely my #1 Holiday Spirit booster (not that the fake snow at the mall didn't transport me to a winter wonderland) but when you do anything for the first time by yourself, in your own apartment, without a wooden spoon or an electric mixer... or a rolling pin, you realize just how much work your mother was doing while you watched "A Muppet Christmas Carol" in the other room.

I called Mom for three recipes; our holiday favorites: Almond Crescents, Sugar Cookies and English Toffee and I found each cookie not only required some unanticipated extra work, but levels of creativity I wasn't initially prepared to devote to baked goods.

The Sugar Cookies were simple enough, even though I somehow managed to forget "Rolled Sugar Cookies" would require a rolling pin. Not to be deterred, I spent much of my time flouring a bottle of Perrier and hoping it wouldn't explode before I could cut out six dozen tiny pine trees.

The English Toffee: something should have clicked when I read the toffee needed to heat to 300 degrees. Nothing did, but if it had, it would have sounded like a morse code message and it would have said said: "Don't use that plastic spoon to stir, stupid". The next message would have said "no, dummy, the metal one is NOT a better choice."

The Almond Crescents I thought I had under control. The only difficult ingredient was "blanched almonds, finely chopped". They do not sell these at Trader Joe's. The closest thing I could find to "blanched almonds, finely chopped" was whole almonds: raw. Blanching is not a difficult process. You let the almonds sit in boiling water for 60 seconds and then peel the skin off. Though time consuming, it's very brainless. Then came the chopping part. I don't own a legitimate knife set-- my tried and true alternative, the butter knife, proved too dull and spoons were completely ineffective, so I resorted to the only thing in my apartment I was 100% confident could do the job: a hammer. And since I'm working nights, this meant I was hammering almonds at 3:30 in the morning. I bet my neighbors love me. Now that I think about it, I should probably send them some cookies.

The fourth and final recipe was not a mom recipe. I found it on the internet, and all I can say for this one is: Don't bake from an internet recipe without a reliable wireless connection.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 10, 2006