Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winesday: "Different From What I'm Used To"

What do you do when you get off a red-eye cross-country flight with a two hour drive between you and your destination? Wine tasting, obviously! It turns out that the Finger Lakes area is positively lousy with wineries, and since we were there it seemed like a shame not to stop and check a few out.

The first place we came across was called "Three Brothers," named after it's central marketing trope. Namely, that the winery was owned by three brothers, each of who had a corresponding winery on the property. And, in an amazing strike of business fortune, each of the brothers' personalities happened to correspond perfectly with a different market segment associated with the wedding parties that, coincidentally, would find plenty of parking available for their busses and limos in the winery's parking lot. For the parents we had the "traditional" older brother, with a tasting room fitted out in blonde wood and muted accessories, with familiar, if unexceptional, wines on offer. (Including what must have been the lightest Pinot Noir I've ever tasted. In related news, I appear to have become a wine snob.) Then, for the bachelorette party, we have brother #2, the "romantic," who conveniently appears to favor very sweet wines and a tasting room that sold cheap feather boas, that traditional American expression of the sentiment, "Woo! We're being crazy!" We bought a bottle from this one, the quite drinkable if unfortunately named "Backseat Bounce," and continued our tour.

The final wine stop of the carefully orchestrated tour was the province of the "badass" brother, a faux-roadhouse perfect for the bachelor party that is not going to get within eighty feet of a stripper if he knows what's good for him. The lady at the tasting bar asked us where we were from and, when we said California, asked what we thought of the wines. At which point I was able to say, in total honesty, that they were different from what we were used to.

The highlight of the place was, of all things, the on-site microbrewery, presumably there to serve the guests who "aren't big wine drinkers, if you know what I mean." I've never actually developed much of a taste for the brew, but there were some wheat beers I enjoyed, and Cameron liked the IPA enough that we stopped again on our way back* to pick up a growler of it to take to his friends we went to visit in Canada.**

*Which, being on a weekend, was a fun little excursion to the gates of Hell, with at least one stretch Hummer and several people wearing tiaras.
**Which is quite close to New York, though it takes a while to get there, with traffic.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bok bok bok RAWR

Yesterday, birds came from dinosaurs*. Today, they're going back.

At a factory poultry farm in Nebraska, someone has been playing with nature. In the ongoing attempt to raise faster-growing, more flavorful birds that can be raised in ever-smaller cages, breeders accidentally activated ancient dormant genes, turning the mildest of farm animals into bloodthirsty killing machines with an oddly familiar taste. And if a narcoleptic USDA inspector and an overeducated tractor repairman can't stop them before they complete their breeding cycle, then the Midwest doesn't stand a chance.

Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you:


*Yes, okay, not really. But work with me here.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Whinesday: Ow! That Was My Tooth!

(Yes, this is two Whinesdays in a row. What can I say, my life is hard.)

Dentists lie. Not in general, as far as I know; it's entirely possible that in their personal lives they are vigorously, painfully honest, annoying their loved ones and embarrassing their friends with their devotion to telling the entire truth at all times. But when it comes to talking to you, the person with teeth, about what is going to happen to and around said teeth, their grip on reality becomes somewhat more tenuous, specifically when it comes to how much something is going to hurt.

I was reminded of this recently when I went to the dentist for the first time in what may or may not have been the better part of a decade (I  know, believe me, I know) and I discovered that there is a new invention that dentists love: the sonic plaque removal gun. Dentists love it because it means no more scraping away at nasty teeth with a little pick: just turn that baby on and blast away. And I have to think that enthusiasm has made them play a little more fast and loose with the truth than usual, because unless your definition of "totally painless" is "like having your gums attacked by angry badger," then there was some inaccuracy in that description.

Of course, all this complaining is just my way of avoiding my responsibility for the real problem, which is that I had avoided going to the dentist for so long that a cavity in one of my molars had developed to the point where a bit of the tooth broke off, causing me, as the dentist would say, "slight discomfort." Which is how, in a masterful bit of planning, I managed to schedule a major filling appointment for six hours before I was due to leave on a red-eye flight across the country. Go me!*

I will, grudgingly, admit that the work all seemed to go reasonably well, though the dentist lost major points with me for waiting for the moment when I was all numb and drooling and zoned out on nitrous oxide to suggest that maybe I'd like to get my front teeth straightened because, I don't know, maybe he has some boat payments to make or something.** But, on the plus side, the anesthetic has just about worn off and I'm not in too much pain yet, so who knows, maybe this won't be so bad.

Or maybe I'll end up with "some soreness."

*Seriously, I need to get moving. I haven't finished packing yet.
**True, my teeth are not perfectly straight. But it doesn't look like my movie star career is going to pan out at this point, and I spent enough time in retainers and braces to know that teeth? They don't like to move, and they have plenty of nerve endings at their disposal for when they want to make that point.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shoesday: Serendipity

Sometimes things just come together. Like when the man my dad was emailing with about some radiation product development turned out to be the husband of my beloved kindergarten teacher, who not only remembered me and my brother, but also that he was interested in numbers and I loved the Narnia books (I was fairly convinced that I was Lucy). My memories of that phase of my academic career are understandably vague, but I do remember some paper dolls we had in the classroom, with hard cardboard backings so we wouldn't destroy them too quickly, and stuffed felt animals in the shape of all the letters in the alphabet. My favorite was the worm that made the "i" which probably explains how I ended up being a blogger.

None of this really has much to do with these shoes, though I suppose it was serendipitous that the last pair they had at eighty-percent off was in my size, and I came across them at a time when I had had just enough margaritas to be impulsive, but that's not really the same thing at all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Confused Tomato Finds A Way

Confused Tomato doesn't know why he had to start life upside-down. He has no interest in the idea that it was supposed to be good for him, to protect his leaves from the mold that has claimed the lives of so many of his brethren, and his stems from the strain of too-heavy fruit. No, Confused Tomato knew only one thing, and that was that his place was Up, and Up was where he was going to go. So he twisted and he turned, until finally he found the edge and then it was no-looking-back, straight for the sky. Confused Tomato is Victorious.

I don't think we should tell him that the sunlight is on the other side.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Shoefinder: David

(Apologies for the wonky text formatting in this post; the new blogger photo thing is being entirely obnoxious.)

Something new this week: Our first ever pirate! Also, he's a dude.

David is not looking for any shoes in particular, just "interesting ones" and he does have some parameters. Specifically, that along with being interesting, they also be tasteful, versatile and comfortable, and no tassels*. He also mentioned that he prefers slip-ons, but I didn't see that part until I had already mostly put together the list, so I'm just going ahead and ignoring it. Also most of the other stuff, except for the bit about the tassels.

First example of the laces thing: these shoes. But come on, I mean, they're Chuck Taylors with an angry heart. A fashiony angry heart.
Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the classic Chucks-- they're called classic for a reason-- but this is Shoefinder, and around here we don't just tell you what you already know. We tell you that you need shoes with angry hearts on them.

Speaking of classic, there's a reason "interesting" men's shoes look more like this and less like this. It's the quality and the details that are important, not the over-the-top mad fabulousness and potential qualities as an offensive weapon. Which is why I am including these, and not just because they're Ferragamos. Okay, mostly that.

On an entirely unrelated subject, the manufacturer of these shoes is calling them sandals. Which strikes me as being a little like calling these "shorts." They look more like capris to me. Regardless, whether they're extremely modest sandals or well-ventilated shoes, I think they look kind of cool.

I think these boots are great. They have an excellent somewhat-retro masculinity, durable without crossing the line into big stompy boot territory, which can run the risk of making you look like you're dressing up as a mid-eighties punk when you're not. (If you are, then never mind, carry on.) The name suggests that they are a reissue of some earlier model; I don't know anything about that, but I assume they date to a time before Timberland got carried away with the fact that a hip hop producer and started selling stuff like this.

These are boots too, and they're cool in a different way. Actually, I'm not crazy about that side buckle (too big), but I like the stitching on the front because I think it looks like a spiderweb. Spiders are cool.
Initially, when I saw these I thought they were a candidate for the big pile of no folder. But then I realized that they were slippers that are styled to look like wingtips and that was really kind of awesome and I actually wanted some for myself, if only they were available in my size. (They aren't.)

Finally, a lesson about logos. Here we have two pairs of white sneakers. One has the logo thing done in a clever, blatant-but-not-obnoxious way**, while the other is nothing more than a way to tell the world, "Hey, World, I spent three hundred and sixty-four dollars on this pair of sneakers." Don't be that dude.

*RIP Rue.
**As all opinions presented here, this is entirely subjective, but still correct.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


That's right, Cheez-Its. You have a problem with that? Because I do, apparently. They sell them in the vending machines at work, for the bargain price of seventy-five cents for a 2-ounce bag, and it is somewhere between sad and scary the number of excuses I come up with for buying them on a near-daily basis. (Examples: "I had a really light lunch." "I haven't had any soda today." "I need the energy for the gym.""If I don't eat something soon I'm going to hurt someone with a Pipetteman." "It's Wednesday.") There's just something about them; that first rush of the msg hitting my tongue, the flavor that has virtually nothing in common with cheese, the tell-tale smudges of orange dust on my desk. . . Do I need an intervention? Probably. But when you came to do it I would offer you some crackers, and then we would finish the bag, and before you knew it we would be hunting through our pockets for quarters, because the stupid machine would probably have the stupid "no bills" light on again.

It's a vicious cycle. A vicious, tasty, bright orange cycle.

I Have No Words

Whinesday: Hey, This Is Hard

As some of you* may be aware, I have been pursuing a dream of becoming a novelist for some time now. It hasn't gone very well so far, but that isn't what I'm whining about today. No, today I'm complaining in advance, because I have realized how tough it would be if I actually succeeded.

Allow me to explain. Two weeks ago, I rashly declared that, in order to compete in Sophie's blog contest, I would write the first thirty pages of a brand new and entirely ridiculous book**. I knew at the time that it was foolish, but one of the prizes was nail polish, and I love nail polish. Besides, I thought it would be a good test, to see if I actually could do it. And, like so many tests in my life, I failed.

Well, not failed, exactly. More like "succeeded in an unencouraging way." True, I didn't quite make it to thirty pages, but I did get up through the second squid attack and the bit with the reality show, and I came up with an awesome tagline for my fake query letter,*** and that's as much as I could hope for, really. But in order to manage that, I spent two weeks losing sleep, ignoring my boyfriend, failing to practice my harp (which is about to be painfully obvious at my lesson today) and welching on my part of the apartment cleaning we had to do this week because our landlord wanted to show it to a potential buyer (oh, joy). So yeah, I managed, but not very well, and it got me thinking: What if I succeeded? What if somewhere in this crazy universe there was a publisher who wanted to pay me for my work, and signed me to a multi-book contract? I certainly couldn't quit my job-- I'm delusional, not crazy, and shoes don't grow on trees. Which leaves me working towards my imaginary deadlines in the same way I spent the last two weeks, burning relationships and the midnight oil. Do I really want to do that?

Well, yeah. Who needs people when you can have the immortal fame and glory that comes from being the author of Land Squid? (Not to mention its sequel: Land Squid II: Let's Get Kraken)

*And by "some of you" I mean "anyone who has been within ten feet of me for the last fifteen years."
**Land Squid!
***"Some days you get the calamari. Other days the calamari gets you."

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Shoesday: Posting Update

This week's Shoesday post has been eaten by squid. Please stand by.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Locked On Target. Firing in 3, 2, 1. . .

Taking a break from the tomatoes (still growing, still flowering, still confused*) and bring you, the people of the internet, the one thing you can't find anywhere else on this great series of tubes: cat pictures.

This is Rumpole:

He finds the plastic thing at the end of his string toy much more interesting than Mariah Carey.

He is also interested in naps:

I've never known a cat to like lying on its side as much as he does:

Other fun facts about Rumpole: chases invisible insects, attacks Cameron's arm with great enthusiasm, wants to be picked up and petted for a few minutes as soon as you get home.

Oh, and he's a cyber-zombie with lazer eyes:

*Applies only to Confused Tomato.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Aaugh! Change!

Just changed my blogger template. Thoughts?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Thurscheese: It Tastes Like Wensleydale

Wensleydale cheese with cranberries

 Many years ago, when I was just a wee lass, fresh out of college with only three pairs of shoes to my name, I went on a trip to England. It was a full two months, mostly spent on a backpacking bus between hostels with two of my classmates (and the less said about those aspects, the better), but I did take a small detour on my own to visit the Yorkshire Dales.

It was a place I had always wanted to see, at least since my childhood obsession with James Herriot's books, where he made it sound like the most beautiful place on earth. Of course, it's a fairly large area and I didn't know anything about it, so when I went to choose my place to stay I settled on Wensleydale, made famous by this Wallace and Gromit episode, where they go to the moon to get some cheese and find it tastes like. . . well, you know (and if you don't, you should watch):

This was my break from 15-pound-a-night hostels, to have a little luxury, so I chose this hotel as my home base for the three nights I was there. I considered it deeply extravagant at the time (though looking at the rates now I realize that, even with the exchange rate being what it is, it costs significantly less that the stay at the Best Western in Ithaca that I just booked for later this month) and enjoyed every minute, even though the dent it put in my budget meant that at least one night dinner consisted of local cheese and crackers, eaten sitting on my bed and marveling at British television.

The cheese was, of course, Wensleydale, purchased from the Wensleydale cheeses visitors' center in the nearby town. It was crumblier and milder than the one I found here but, oddly, also available with cranberries. Tradition? Coincidence? Who's to say? I'm just happy to have found this reminder of my insufficiently misspent youth.

And, while we're on the subject of British cheese, come with me after the jump for my favorite thing about the World Cup. . .


While I work to prepare today's Thurcheese selection, please enjoy this fine example of the art of country music with silly lyrics, and join me in being pleased that this sort of thing hasn't been pop-crossovered out of the genre.

Pound Sign, Kevin Fowler

(song will begin playing automatically)

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Winesday: What's That Smell?

Amista Syrah

Taste is a funny thing. I don't mean in the way that makes some people think that this is a good idea for an outfit, although that's not without its entertainment value. But right now we're talking about the sense (one of five-- collect them all!), and the way perception influences it.

We first tasted this wine last November, and there was something overwhelmingly familiar about the flavor, but we couldn't figure out what it was. Then, and I don't know if it was the influence of the season or not, but one particular association sprang to mind, and once it was there I just couldn't shake it.

"It's turkey!" I said. "Am I crazy?"

Cameron, wisely, didn't answer the question, but did agree about the turkey thing. We debated taking it for Thanksgiving dinner, but decided against, because it seemed just too literal, and besides, flavors aside, a syrah seems kind of big for white meat. So we put the other bottles on the shelf (it was part of a wine club shipment) and didn't break it out again until months later. The flavor was still there, and it was still turkey, and we were still stumped. It's not something that usually shows up in tasting notes, after all.

Fortunately, Cameron's wine-expert friend Ken was on hand to explain. It turns out that there is a variety of yeast called Brettanomyces (Brett for short) that can produce flavors described as, among other things, "horsey, wet dog, stale hamburger, and similar to Belgian Lambic beer."

They didn't mention turkey, but I think we can just put that down to my highly refined palate.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Shoesday: The Boots of Implied Badassery

(For best results, please listen to this song while reading the following.)

Frye Engineer 8R boots

 I almost didn't buy these boots. Not that I didn't want them-- I did, because they're awesome-- but because I just wasn't sure that someone with my near-total lack of badass qualities would be able to wear them convincingly. It would be like back when I had my old car, a deeply beloved if somewhat maintenance-challenged bright yellow 1977 Porcshe 924, and someone told me that it didn't deserve to be that color, because it was an automatic. It had me worried; can someone who doesn't know how to drive a stick shift* really claim the right to put on big black stompy boots? But then I decided, maybe that river flows both ways.** Maybe, by wearing the boots, they would confer some of their properties on me, and I would become the hard-rocking, butt-kicking individual I always knew I wasn't.

That was the plan, anyway. It hasn't exactly happened yet, but these boots are built to last the ages, so I figure I have some time.

Also, they're cute with a skirt.

*The closest I ever came was when I was taking the CHP motorcycle class, so I could get a license for the scooter I had for commuting to grad school, and I got so confused by the whole brake/clutch/shift thing that I finally just gave up and fell off. I was only going about three miles an hour, so it wasn't a big deal, but I wasn't encouraged by the experience.
**Or something. Work with me here.

Monday, June 07, 2010


June is here, the sun is shining (finally!) and the tomatoes are in bloom! In fact they're blooming all over the place, giving me my first real hope that I might actually see some fruit someday. They're also getting a lot of waterings, particularly the ones in the second bedroom, because it seems like every time I turn my back for about five minutes they're dry again. I'm thinking about checking the bottoms of the pots for bailing pumps.

On a sadder note, I have had to give up and pull out two of the outside plants, which finally succumbed to the white mold. I was trying to keep from having to do it, cutting off any leaves that looked infected, but on Saturday I went out and looked and realized that I had trimmed them down to just stalks with a couple of leaves on top, and those were turning white too. So, for the good of the others, I put them out of their misery, and I'm hoping it wasn't in vain.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Shoefinder: Wedding Blues for Robin

We have another bridal request today, coming from Robin, who lives in Oklahoma City, a place where regular people can simply go and buy houses, without selling a kidney or anything. This frees them up to have a lot of time to pose next to celebrity handprints: 

And think about what kinds of shoes they want to wear to their weddings. Which is handy, because Robin is getting married soon, and she has feet.

This is were I come in.

The request was simple: Royal blue flats, not crazy-expensive, no sandals due to a perception of "masculine toes"* and in a shade as close to these as reasonably possible:

I understand the impulse.

Got it? Okay, let's see what we can do.

Let's start with the basics. They're pretty, they're blue, they're satin. They even have some sparklies on the toes. Do they thrill me to my very core? Maybe not, but they would look lovely peeking out from under a long white dress, and the leather construction probably means they're sturdy enough not to fall apart halfway through the reception.

The other name for this color that shoe designers like to use-- for those of you who are doing a search on your own-- is cobalt (which is, technically, slightly darker than royal blue, but we're talking about an industry where camelot is a color, so let's give them some leeway here). Case in point are these, a slightly funkier option in snakeskin-embossed leather (the real thing would also be awesome, but would cost about seven times as much). The nice thing about these is that they could easily transition into being everyday flats, post-wedding, which is more than you can say for most of the things one spends one's money on for that occasion.

Speaking of spending money (or avoiding same), these are on sale, and very cute for the price. Plus they come in wide widths, as specifically requested! And the ankle strap would be handy protection against the dreaded take-too-big-a-step-going-down-the-aisle-and-kick-your-shoe-off-into-your-new-grandmother-in-law's-face syndrome, which I just made up.

Now, let's take a break from the serious suggestions and engage in a little silliness. Am I honestly suggesting that Robin walk down the aisle in loafers than look like blue mice, or possibly bunnies? Of course not. Would I be at all unhappy if she did? If every step she took, little black ears peeked out from under her skirt?

Well, would you?

Back here on earth, though, we still have some options to consider. These don't quite count as sandals, I think, because the closed shape would keep any offending toes well under wraps, but they're light and airy enough for a warm day. Plus, I think the rosette adds just about the right amount of whimsy, without being mouse ears. (Not that there's anything wrong with mouse ears.

And then we come to my personal favorite and first choice among the selections: the Kate Spade Nicolina. They're shiny! They're sparkly! With flowers! How could you not love them? Yes, they are a bit on the pricier side, but let's think about this: like I said before, this is the one part of the wedding outfit that you're likely to get more use out of down the line (unless yours is a social life that calls for the regular wearing of veils), so it makes sense, to me, to spend a little less on the dress and buy yourself some really nice shoes to go with it. After all, this is a day to be focusing on what's really important in your life, isn't it?

*Hey, she said I could quote her.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Thurscheese: Manchego and Quince Paste

Because sometimes, even cheese needs to accessorize.

Manchego: a hard sheep's milk cheese from Spain, with a mild, creamy flavor and a highish salt content.

Quince paste: A, um, paste made of quinces? Quincci? Quoonce? Okay, yeah, I don't know. Let's just do what everybody does when they don't know something on the internet: type in all caps on message boards.

Or we could look it up in Wikipedia. That might work too.

According to that august authority, quince paste is:
". . .probably of ancient origin,[2] . . .a collection of Roman cookery recipes, compiled in the late 4th or early 5th century AD, gives recipes for stewing quince with honey."

"Quince cheese [I know, but that's what they call it. This is wikipedia we're talking about, after all.] is prepared with quince fruits. The fruit is cooked with sugar,[5] and turns red after a long cooking time and becomes a relatively firm, quince tart, dense enough to hold its shape. The taste is sweet but slightly astringent."

"The quince is a hard, golden yellow fruit. The fruit was known to the Akkadians, who called it supurgillu." 
So, yes, a tart, inedible when raw, yellow fruit known to the ancients as Superglue gets cooked with a lot of sugar, into something that is clearly a jam or jelly or paste, and whoever is writing about it in wikipedia calls it cheese, possibly because the only time they have had it has been on a cheese plate. Oh, internet, whatever did we do without you?

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Winesday: The Bargain Chard Deathmatch

In this corner, marked down to $60 a case in the tasting room because they were trying to clear out their remaining stock: Stevenot 2006 Chardonnay.

In the other corner, off the shelf and into the basket with the frozen stir-fry vegatables for $5.98: Trader Joe's 2009 Grower's Reserve Chardonnay.

Round One: Both put in the freezer to chill, then briefly forgotten. An amount of time later, remembered and retrieved. Trader Joe's was frozen solid (but, and this is important, not cracked) while the Stevenot remained in liquid phase. Advantage: Stevenot, and the power of a higher alcohol content.

Round Two: Bottle of Stevenot has already been half-drunk and left overnight in the fridge, possibly biasing the results. On the other hand, freezing a wine solid is not generally recommended for optimal flavor, so the disadvantages are considered a draw. Both are poured, and tasted extensively.
Nose-- TJ's takes a lead here, with nice floral notes and some citrus.
Body-- Stevenot somewhat fuller here, with a bit more weight to it; TJ quite light, almost more sauvignion blanc-like.
Sugar-- TJ noticably sweeter than S, unless we got the glasses mixed up and it's really the other way around.
Finish-- Both bottles.
 Now, let's go down ringside for the results.

And the winner, in a split decision, is. . . whichever wine is in this glass! Let's hear a big round of applause for Your! New! Champion!

(Seriously, they were both good for the price, and it seems both mean and arbitrary to declare a winner and a loser when it really wasn't that easy to tell them apart.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Shoesday Special Edition: Shoefinder Live!*

(Somewhat delayed, but never forgotten. . .)

Remember Abigail? Way back when I found shoes for her, none of which she actually bought, but she found some of the Fluevog shoes interesting. And since there is a Fluevog store in New York, part of our bachelorette party shopping-day plans included a visit to check them out.

Which, after a brief excursion the wrong way down Mulberry Street-- through the sad, tacky tourist strip that's what left of Little Italy and into the entirely authentic Chinatown that has replaced it-- due to a typing error into iPhone directions, we found, and shopping commenced.

Abigail tried on these shoes first. They weren't ones I'd picked out (we'll get to those in a minute), but they spoke to her, and when shoes speak you should listen. Difficult to see in this picture, but they have Funky Heels**.

These were the second choice which, though initially more promising, ended up falling short on both the looks and the comfort fronts-- Abigail thought they pinched and I thought the turned-up toes pushed them dangerously close to clown-territory.

Shoe option 1 was purchased, and there was great rejoicing.

Then Mary got in on the act:

And tried these shoes on, and found them comfy and cute, even if she did need some encouraging to get her picture taken.

She also gave these a whirl:

Which were my original blog selection (though I went with the turquoise), the sheer awesomeness of which caused me to exclaim, "I have such good taste!" in a rare moment of pure honesty. Unfortunately, they were rejected, and when I tried them on myself I understood why: The heel, though attractive, was simply too high to suit the kind of comfort they were going for and turned what could have been a sexy-but-walkable pump into something a little too unstable. If it had been about an inch-and-a-half shorter they would have been perfect, but as it was, I understood why they were turned down.

However, Mary did buy the other pair, and seeing as I was the catalyst and consultant for getting them two sales, I felt no shame at all in drinking some of the prosecco and eating one of the cupcakes the store had on offer.*** Frankly, I think I should have gotten a commission.

After the jump: More shoes! More shopping! More footnotes than are reasonably necessary!