Monday, December 17, 2012

The Origin of the Cheeses

In what is clearly the greatest discovery of the decade, scientists have recently identified the world's earliest known cheese-making equipment. Apparently, it existed 7,500 years ago and would have tasted something like mozzarella.

No word yet on whether primitive deep fryers or marinara sauce were found in the vicinity.

Friday, December 07, 2012

The "I'm Not A Hipster" T-shirt Line

If there is one thing that every hipster in America can agree on it is that they are definitely, totally not hipsters. It reminds me of a VH1 special I saw, about the greatest disco songs, where every single one of the bands insisted they were making soul music or R&B, not disco; including, I believe, the band that recorded "Disco Inferno." I was thinking about this and it occurred to me that, regardless of the social and psychological implications, what we had here was a product opportunity. Therefore, I present to you: The "I'm not a Hipster" line of products.

For the narrow-trouser aficionado.

Oh, Great

We have quotas now?

Friday, November 30, 2012

The You Paid How Much? Gift Guide

What to buy for that person who has everything, except taste and a brain.

Loro Piana checkers mat, $2050
If I am going to be dropping upwards of two grand (plus shipping) on a piece of felt, I would frankly expect to see an actual picture of it first.

Playing cards sold separately.

Jack Spade scarf, $165
There is nothing wrong with the idea of a humorous novelty scarf that looks like a hotdog. There is, however, something very wrong with the idea of paying $165 for a humorous novelty scarf that looks like a hotdog.

"Survey Stick", $350
Po-TAY-to/po-TAH-to; beat-up old ruler you stick in the garden to tie up your tomatoes/"survey stick" worth a hundred dollars. Let's call the whole thing crap.

Boy. Band of Outsiders poncho, $495
Emergency poncho, $3.99
 One of these things is just like the other/One of these prices is totally wrong/Can you tell which thing is for stupid people/Do you even remember this song?

Maison Martin Margiela snowglobe, $195
This, my friends, is a two-hundred-dollar plastic snowglobe. With nothing in it.

It's backordered.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Things I am thankful for, a short and incomplete list: my family, my friends, the deliciousness of cheeses, the A's playoff run and the fact that I was able to sufficiently recover from my bout of food poisoning in time for dinner today. Have a great holiday, everyone, and whatever you do, don't eat the sushi from the cafeteria.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Springtime For Deathtraps

No musical numbers, but my newest Death Traps story has just been published by the brilliant podcasters over at Escape Pod. In it, Xnab and his crew address the eternal question of what to do when you have locked the keys inside your treasure chamber, and whether the apocalypse is really just a case of bad QA.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Flying Shark Attacks Golf Course

Oh sure, the so-called authorities will claim it was dropped by a bird, but I think we all know the truth: At this moment, thousands of vicious, many-toothed man-eaters are preparing themselves for an aerial assault on our nations golfers, and there is a very real chance that we may not be there to watch.

I think we're gonna need a bigger cart.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Counterfeit Nazi Space Buddha!

Is there nothing left to believe in?

The bad news: A statue of Buddha, alleged to have carved out of a meteorite in the 11th century and looted from Tibet by a Nazi expedition in the thirties is a 20th century counterfeit, was probably never looted by anyone.

The good news: The meteorite part is true.

The movie pitch: It's "The Maltese Falcon" meets "Alien."

Your move, Mr. Lucas.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Chain Linking: The Next Big Thing

The following post comes to you thanks to the brilliant and fascinating author Camille Minichino who has generously invited me to join her in the following blog chain. The way this works: Each person gets the same ten questions about their next (or, in certain cases, theoretical first) book, which they must answer to the best of their abilities. At the end of the post you link to all the other posts and everybody is happy. Here is Camille's post to get you started.

And now, on to me:

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:

What is your working title of your book?
Land Squid.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
While drinking at a friend's bachelorette party in New York, conflating the premises of two SciFi Channel movies (giant squid lives in lake, eats people, is defeated by James Van Der Beek vs. Loch Ness monster travels through underground channels to North America, eats people, is not defeated by James Van Der Beek).

What genre does your book fall under?
Home improvement. Or horror-comedy. Kind of depends who you ask.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Sigourney Weaver for the put-upon small town police chief-turned-squid-killer, Amy Adams for the scientist who knows nothing about squid, James Van Der Beek.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Non-stop squid-on-land action.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I hope to find an agent for it when it is finished. Failing that, I plan to hand people the manuscript and stare at them awkwardly until they read it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About two years, I think. Sadly, that is the fastest I have written anything so far, and it shows.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The thriller aspect draws on the style of books like "Jaws" and "Jurassic Park" and their many imitators, and for the humor side I am heavily inspired by the works of Terry Pratchett, though I have no intention of comparing myself to him, because he is much better at it.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I love terrible, over-the-top monster movies, so I set out to write a book that had all of their best elements, without the downside of having to watch Coolio trying to act. I also had a very strong desire to write a scene in which a person using a leaf blower early on a Saturday morning is brutally killed.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Aside from the giant, killer, land-based squid? Well, there are several scenes where people have lunch.

Not quite what you were in the mood for? Well, here are four other writers who might have something more up your alley:

Mike Befeler, author of the acclaimed Retirement Homes are Murder series.
Heather Haven, fun, prolific author of the award-winning Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series.
Alyx Morgan, author of short stories and most thoughtful blog postings.
Pat Morin, author of award-winning novels, nonfiction, short stories, and plays.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Sudden Descent Into Crass Commercialism

If you live in the Bay Area (and frankly, why wouldn't you?), you've probably seen plenty of people wearing "The City" and "The Town" t-shirts, celebrating the nicknames of San Francisco and Oakland, respectively. I've always thought they're great, but just a little limiting. Which is why, with the help of a contract design company and the custom product e-retailer that's based in my same office park, we are proud to introduce the first products in the Half the Fun retail empire*:

For men!

For women!

For organic heritage eggplant from the farmers' market!

Early retirement, here we come!**

*Empire coming soon.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Shoesday To Meeee

Having been started off with a pair of completely awesome poisonous-snake-print flats from my equally awesome husband, I have a feeling that the second half of my thirties is going to go just fine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Service Has Been Called

Well, I'm glad they're doing the necessary repairs:

But what exactly do they think we do in the office bathroom stalls?

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Great Maple Syrup Heist: The Plot Thickens

We now interrupt your normal lack of programming to bring you exciting developments in the ongoing saga of the Great Maple Syrup heist: Canadian police report that they have potentially tracked some of the contraband to a syrup dealer in New Brunswick. The suspect sap has been confiscated for further study and it's source is being traced. Meanwhile, the retailer in question continues to assert his innocence, claiming that he is the victim of a smear campaign by the Quebec syrup cartel, with whom he has clashed in the past.

Buffalo remains on high alert.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ugly Clothes For Rich People XI

They are the gifts that keeps on giving, from the fools who keep on spending.

Versace shoes, $2225
When Dolly Parton famously said "It takes a lot of money to look this cheap," I don't think she had any idea exactly how far the concept would be taken.

Dolce & Gabbana earrings, $490
Really, Dolce & Gabbana? Pasta? Really?

Ann Demeulemeester vest, $640
For those days when it seems like your sequined jacket would be a bit much.

Ralph Lauren dress, $1098
I don't care how much you looooooves the pretty horsies; once your age is in the double-digits you can no longer wear them on your clothes.

Charlotte Olympia shoes, $1445
Janie's got a glue gun.

Dolce & Gabbana t-shirt, $275
"Hey, ladies, I just spent $275 for a shirt with a picture of a convicted rapist on it. Line forms to the left."

These are:

               a) Respectively, a filthy old sneaker of the sort you would wear while cleaning out the garage, and a baby shoe.
               b) Designer products being sold to actual, grown women at a total cost of greater than $1100.
               c) Sad and hilarious in roughly equal parts.

Choose all that apply.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Look! Up In the Sky!

A little excitement at work this morning, as it turned out our building was directly on the path the Endeavor flyby.

Naturally, everyone in the office park came out to watch:

(Not pictured: A whole bunch more people, including a group on the roof.)

We waited, and looked at the sky, and waited some more, and our site head threatened to make us go inside and do work and we waited a little more. Planes flew by on their way to SFO, causing brief, confused excitement, until a fuzzy dot appeared over the trees.

"That's it!" said the people with binoculars.
"Really?" said the people without binoculars.
"We're on the wrong side of the building," said the people with spacial sense.

A brief sprint later, we were able to get a slightly better view:

And then an even better one:

And then I stopped taking pictures for a little while, because some things are better actually seen than watched on a tiny screen while trying to focus.

And then it was gone:

Bye, shuttle.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Three Things You Probably Already Heard About

But better safe than sorry:

On the one hand, this seems like an excellent idea. On the other hand, having people dressed in full-body-suits grab children in dark movie theaters seems like it might have the potential to go wrong in some way.

Final, irrefutable proof that having a child makes you insane.

Sometimes, completely excessive setup for a very silly payoff is totally worth it. (I am particularly entertained by the Jenga one.)

Also: Can someone explain why the internet has gone suddenly crazy over the Gangnam Style thing? I mean, it's fun, but it's no cat trying to fit into boxes of decreasing size.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Open Letters to Stupid People: Dennis and Judy Wenzel of 307 N 12th Ave Wasau, WI

Dear Dennis and Judy Wenzel of 307 N 12th Ave Wasau, WI,

Congratulations on booking your visit to the Lake Breeze Motel Resort in lovely Duluth, Minnesota. I'm sure you will have a very nice time staying in the whirlpool suite for $134 a night ($104 on Thursday!) from September 20th through the 22nd, though it was probably smart to only pay one night's worth for the deposit on the $412.45 total (including tax). However, Dennis and Judy Wenzel of 307 N 12th Ave Wasau, WI, in your hurry to book your getaway to the welcoming shores of Lake Superior, while not getting put on any mailing lists, you seem to have made one critical error. Do you know what that is?

I'll give you three guesses.

The Person Whose Email You Have Been Using

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's All About You

Your genome, that is. Here to elaborate on that point; a rather adorable animated short:

The video is in support of this project and narrated by this guy. One of these things is more fun than the other. And has more profanity.

Friday, August 31, 2012

The Eh Files

Some questions:

At what point in your criminal career does it seem like a good idea to steal maple syrup? 
Are there specialists in this?
Will one of them appear in Ocean's 18.3.1, played by Dana Carvey?
How do you fence it?
"Hey, so I know a guy who knows a guy who can hook us up with some of the good stuff, man. I'm talking like, primo Montreal grade A amber, you got me? This stuff is sweet."
Should law enforcement be taking a close look at this group?
Or how about these hardened criminals?
"Strategic maple syrup reserves?"
What kind of strategy involves maple syrup?
Should Buffalo be worried? 

Bonus conspiracy theory:
I recently learned that FEMA maintains a "Waffle House Index" as a way of judging the severity of a storm's effects on an area by what they're serving, based on that chain's top-notch disaster-response strategy. ("If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?" FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. "That's really bad. That's where you go to work.") But I ask you, what does a company known for getting back on track no matter what the circumstances do when their supply chain is disrupted? Might a stockpile of unattended syrup be too tempting a target? What's a little light larceny when compared with the needs of a desperate, waffle-loving public?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Sense Great Fail Here

Commes des Garcons shirt, $395

The problem, you see it not? Explain with an infographic I will.

UPDATE: Also, $485 seems like a lot for Yoda pants.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

This Week In Alcohol-Induced Behavior

This guy was found drunk and naked with a lab full of monkeys, and these guys founded a Hall and Oates-based SuperPAC.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thurscheese Special Edition: The Wedding Cheeses

By popular demand!

Big thanks to Crys for getting this picture. I meant to take one, but as you can see, I was busy.
 From the top:

Smokey Blue

All credit for this one must go to the guy at Country Cheese in Berkeley, who was instrumental in putting this selection together. I knew we needed a blue but didn't have one in mind, because a person can only plan so much, and he was extremely helpful and knowledgeable about their cheese selection. I highly recommend it if you are ever in the Berkeley area and need some cheese, or bulk granola, or Vietnamese spring rolls. It's a full-service kind of place. Anyway, all I know about this one was that it was described as the "smokey blue" and it did indeed have a pleasant smokey flavor.

Cave-Aged Gruyere

From a cave! A longtime favorite of mine; if I was going to make a cheese-based greatest hits album this would totally be on the first disc. The fun part about this, besides eating it, was that our friend at the cheese store (I really should have learned his name-- I think he was the owner) very kindly cut a center section, to minimize the amount of rind. Which meant that the way people cut pieces out of it, it ended up looking like one of those rock formations in the background of the old roadrunner cartoons.

Humboldt Fog

One of the very first cheeses I blogged about, though at the time I was under the mistaken impression that it was a blue. (It's not. The line through the middle is actually vegetable ash. No, I don't know why.) There was more of this one left than any of the others, which may have less to do with its popularity than with the fact that I bought an entire wheel, because when else am I going to get that chance?

Pierce Point, Cowgirl Creamery

Another favorite. And I want you to know that there is no truth to the rumors that I insisted on scheduling the wedding for the middle of summer because that's when this cheese is in season. This was the most local cheese we ended up serving, which is terribly un-trendy of us, but I think we can all agree that the whole "all of this food came from within fifty feet of here" deal is getting a little tired. Unlike the delights of cheese, which are unending.

English Cheddar

Our second selection brought to us by the fine people (person, mostly) at Country Cheese was a very nice cheddar, because everyone likes cheddar. Light color, medium-sharp, not at all crumbly. Went very well with the crackers. I wish I had really thanked the cheese guy adequately for his help and the volume discounts, instead of paying with a credit card like an ingrate who doesn't care how much it costs his small business. My only defense is that it was a very busy Saturday, and it's hard to carry around enough cash to buy that much cheese.

Fromage d' Affinois

Never a bad idea. This is the only one where we had nothing left over, despite the fact that we had an entire wheel when the party started. I hope there was enough for everyone to try some.

Friday, August 10, 2012

And They Lived Happily Ever After

So, about a week ago, I went ahead and got married. You know, it was a Sunday, nothing else to do, and I had this dress, and we'd rented a chapel and a reception hall and ordered catering for seventy people, so we figured hey, what the heck.

The flowers were nice.

The Bentley was running, and it only smelled a little like burning oil.

We had plenty of wine.

(Not pictured: Also plenty of cheese.)

My hair looked good.

And my shoes were awesome.

Overall, I'm calling the event a success.

(Photo credits David Bateman.)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

House Hunters San Mateo

Guess the price!

3 bed, 2 bath, 1520 sq. ft

Description on Redfin:

Wood floors in master room and hallway are different from living and dining room and have multiple stains. No HVAC ducts in upper floors. About a 1 foot diameter sink in upper floor. Drainage from left of house appears to not have a path to the streets. Outlets are two prong only. Windows unable to open due to paint acting as a glue. Original kitchen.

Did you guess $678,888*? You're right! I'm depressed!

*Think they might be targeting the Chinese market?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Coming Up For Air

Things I have been doing lately: Moving, preparing for a wedding, finishing up a massive work project.
Things I have not been doing lately: Blogging, sleep.

These things are not likely to change soon, but I did want to stop by and say hi and share some good news, now that the check has cleared: The fine people at Escape Pod have purchased another one of my Death Traps stories for podcast publication on some future date yet to be determined. Obviously, I will let you know when I find out more, but for now I can tell you that the title is Springtime for Death Traps and it is about, among other things, toads, calendars, career choices and what happens when you lock your keys inside the temple.

Friday, June 15, 2012

May I Be Excused?

I know I haven't been posting much here lately. The thing is, work has been kind of busy:

Maybe more than kind of.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Stop the Presses

In the years I have been writing this blog, I have seen a lot of things. Stupid things. Expensive things. Stupid, expensive things. But what I have for you today may be the pinnacle, the ne plus ultra of overpriced idiocy:

It's by Jimmy Choo.

It's made of regular leather embossed to look like snakeskin.

It costs $115.

On sale.

Monday, June 04, 2012

A Brief Conversation, Internal, About A Candle

Me, busy* at work:

"Why is Net-A-Porter selling a rubber band ball?"

"Wait, it's a candle? Okay, that's kind of cool."

Missoni candle
"$283.50? For a candle?"

"On sale?!"

". . ."

". . ."

". . ."

*Very busy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Why-Files

Is clear plastic really that expensive?
Outreach to the partial-foot-amputee community?
Someone in the marketing department has a crippling fear of toes?
Proactive recruiting at the Home for Disabled Mannequins?
Final, definitive evidence that the fashion industry is run by aliens who do not fully understand the construction of the human body?

Frankly, I'm stumped.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Kickstarter of the Week*: Dogs in Cars

It's a photo book of dogs in cars. I don't totally get it, but I think I kind of love it.

*Or, rather, of however many weeks it takes before I do another one.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Ugly Clothes for Rich People X

Let's see what all the wealthy idiots will be wearing this season, shall we?

Thakoon coat, $1,990

"But Fairy Godmother," said Cinderella. "What if I get cold? It is the middle of fall, after all, as we can see by all these ripe pumpkins."
So her fairy godmother gathered up a horse blanket and a couple of shower mitts and waved her wand, and in a flash of light they were transformed into a lovely coat.
"Now remember," the Fairy Godmother said. "You must be home by midnight, before these things turn back into the pile of trash that they are and you end up looking ridiculous."

Nigel Cabourn pants, $865
Imagine, if you can, the process involved in buying these. A person, presumably sober, walking into the store, sees these pants, picks them up and decides to try them on, all without laughing so hard he has a seizure. Looking at himself in the mirror, he decides that yes, these are worth almost nine hundred dollars of his money. And then he pays for them and leaves, without once stopping to evaluate how his life got to this point.

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Moschino t-shirt, $295
 Nothing says kicky fun like contemplating suicide!

Emma Cook skirt, $335
 For some reason I am feeling a sudden impulse to tease my bangs. Someone hand me the Aquanet.

Ann Demeulmeester coat, $748
Paging Dr. Sparkles!

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why Did The Snake Cross The Path?

To escape the paparazzi.

Guess I can strike "wildlife photographer" off my alternate careers list.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Why Don't You Get Back To Me When You Figure It Out

Apparently, even the people who work at the cafeteria aren't that sure what goes into the food:

Monday, April 30, 2012

Reorg Day!

It's like this, but with more button-downs.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Kickstarter Project of the Week: Prospect Cemetary Documentary

I think it's time I take a little break from all the raging and talk about something positive for a change. So: cemeteries!

No, seriously. My friend Cornelia Read and her friend Peter Riegert are working on a documentary about the reclamation of the oldest cemetery in Jamacia, Queens, and they're funding the initial phase through Kickstarter.*

(The cemetery also features in Cornelia's book Invisible Boy, which you should definitely read, only not in a place where it will be a problem if you start crying, like on a job interview or at the dentist.)

Note: I'm trying to embed the video, but it's not working very well. Will try again later. Anyway, you should probably just follow the link and watch it.

*If you aren't familiar with it, Kickstarter is a mirco-financing website, where people post projects they are working on, with a funding goal and a deadline for funding. There are awards for different levels of donations** and all the money is collected through Amazon's billing system. My favorite thing that I've backed so far is these plush DNA nucleotides, which are so wonderful I can't even.

**Like PBS, but with fewer tote bags.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Since You Asked: Brides Magazine Advice Column

The upside/downside of our recent home invasion by Brides magazine is the truly wonderful advice column. I may have to offer my help to all of the questioners eventually, but for now let's just take it from the top.

My fiance's family is showing zero interest in planning the wedding, while my parents are really involved. He tells me not to take offense-- it's just how they are-- but I'm starting to feel like they don't like me. Is this normal? Should I say something to them?

Dear Person,

The columnist addressed the functional part of your question in her answer-- pointing out that they may be staying out of your hair out of kindness, or just because they have better things to do*-- so I'm going to skip that and get to your Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Have you always felt that other people should arrange their lives entirely around your interests, or is it a new thing? I realize that a couple of hours spent huffing bridal-magazine glue can make it seem like choosing a napkin color is the most important decision since the deployment of the a-bomb, only with more potential casualties, but believe me when I say that not everyone feels this way.

But we're just skirting the real issue here, aren't we? You don't actually want your fiance's family weighing in on the planning with their terrible ideas. (What kind of monster would suggest green ribbons for the centerpieces? The horror.) No, what you want is to be recognized as the most important person in the world by everyone involved, because that is your birthright. It's the modern way: Forget the whole princess-for-a-day thing; now you're the despotic ruler of a small island nation for a good eight months.

So, no, you shouldn't say anything. They're probably already pretty sure you're crazy; why spoil the fun of guessing?


*Giving me a good impression of her sense and intelligence, which lasted until I read her answer to the next question, where she basically said that a bridesmaid who has the nerve to dislike the dress she is being forced to purchase is probably fat and/or unhappy about being single, and is also a horrible whiny bitch who you should just stop being friends with. So, yeah, there's that.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Wedding Zombie Update

Oh no! They got in the house!

Save yourselves! It's too late for me.

In case you were wondering:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Stupid Kitchen Implements Part 2

Handy lesson from last weekend: Sur la Table is a very entertaining store, but they have slightly too many employees on their floor to be able to comfortably point at things and declare "What kind of idiot would buy THAT?" while laughing.

Fortunately, they have a website.

Tuna Drainer, $3.95
How to drain canned tuna:

1. With a can opener, open lid almost all the way around.
2. Use your fingers to hold lid against tuna as you drain the liquid into the sink.
3. Lift lid and remove tuna.
4. Do not spend actual money on yet another pointless piece of plastic to perform a trivial task, you !^$*%#&%% moron.

Chili Pepper rack, $19.95
Asparagus clips, $14.95
Did it ever occur to you that there might be some items that are not meant to be cooked on a grill?

And the winner, for the overall title of Stupidest Thing Found at Sur la Table:
Pizza Cone kit, $24.95
Who wants this? Who, in the entire fullness of space and time has ever said, "Hey, pizza is great, but I really wish it came in a cone."? Or thinks the issue with pizza is that you simply can not use it to cram enough calories into your body at a time? Wouldn't it be more efficient to inject the fat directly under your skin? Is there any way this is not going to be a soggy, drippy mess in under thirty seconds? So many questions, so little inclination to care.

Plus, don't forget your pizza cone stand liners! (Sold separately.)