Thursday, April 30, 2009

Campstravaganza with Little Bug

Way back in January of this year, my little brother Bug turned 5 years old. Sheesh. Even as I type this I can hardly believe he's five years old already; it seems like just the other day that Captain Mommypants and Superdad decided to adopt an unbearably cute little 9-month-old butterball. Well, anyway, it clearly wasn't just the other day, it was clearly more like 4-ish years ago, given that now he's a strapping five year old with biceps, quads of steel, and back hair, but that's neither here nor there. What's relevant to this particular story is that for his birthday I got him a book starring his absolute favorite character, Curious George. Curious George Goes Camping, it was, and wowza, was that a big hit with the Buggo, given that he loves the outdoors like a teeny-bopper loves the mall. In the front of the book, I wrote him a note:

"Dear Bug, happy birthday! I love you so much, and so does Curious George. In this book Curious George goes camping with The Man in the Yellow Hat, and he has so much fun being outside, sleeping in a tent, and having a campfire! Now that you're a big boy and five years old, you're big enough to go camping, too, so study up on this book and when I come home in May I'll take you camping too! All my love, Amazing Cheastypants."

It would be understating the situation considerably to say that for the past four months Bug has been in a state of frenzied delirium, anticipating my return to North Carolina like most kids look forward to Christmas. He apparently carried the book around with him everywhere, all day, every day until it vaporized from overuse. When Mom woke him up for school in the morning he'd say, "No school. Want to go camping with Cheasty." He started playing "camping" with his toys, building "tents" out of blankets, and playing intense games of make believe with The Guys, his rotating cast of about 15 stuffed animals that travel with him everywhere. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Bug and The Guys:

Individually, they are Big Dog, Soccer Bear, Fuzzy Bear, Patrick Bear, Little Bear, Red Bear, Max, Purple Bear, Cat, and The Righteous Turtle. It's an exhausting list, so Bug just calls them "the guys," as in, "Come on, Bug, it's time to go!" "Ok, just a minute, I've gotta get the guys!"

So yes, he's been anticipating this camping trip with a fair amount of enthusiasm. To be fair, of course, I stoked the fire. I send him postcards all the time, and in each one I'd talk about going camping. I got Superdad and Mommypants talking about camping. Every time I talked to him on the phone I'd mention going camping. So when I finally came home on Tuesday night, I snuck into his room to kiss him hello, he woke up amidst all the guys, smiled sleepily at me, held out his arms for a hug, and said, "We go camping now?" "Yes, sweetheart," I said, hugging him tight. Tomorrow we go camping." And we did. The next morning I woke up to the pungent aroma of Big Dog landing on my face, and Bug crawled into bed with me. "Camping?" he whispered. "Yes, camping," I whispered. "What do you think we should pack?" Bug thought about it a minute. "Books," he replied, with enough certainty to melt my heart into a giant puddle on the ground.

Right. Books. Check.

But first things first, we had to find a spot, so off we went on a little hike around the farm. Where should we camp? The pond? The woods? By the river? In the end, we found an ideal spot right in our own backyard, just at the edge of the woods and started to set up the campsite. Or rather, I set up the campsite, and Bug made sure all The Guys got to the tent all right.

Sadly for you all, and for me, I forgot to take pictures once we got into things, but we had a grand old time. We jumped into the pool to cool off after making camp, and then as evening fell we made a campfire and roasted hotdogs on sticks. I taught him how to make smores, and he practiced writing his letters with a smoking gokel stick. When the sun went down, we went to bed in the tent.

And guess what I missed since I was last home back in December? Bug knows how to read now. I know, right? Who knew. So while I'd anticipated a long night of me reading Smash Crash and Curious George to Bug, instead, he read to me, of the adventures of Dick, Jane, and their fetching pup Spot, of Pam and Penny, Mike, and funny, funny Sally. I was so proud and impressed I kind of teared up a couple of times, like when he read, "What is Spot doing?" and his voice went up at the end, just like it should when you read a question out loud. He looked at me, put his finger on the punctuation mark, and said, "Cheasty, that's a question!"

We read for a while more, then Superdad came in to give us kisses good night.

We finally turned out the light, though it would be a mistake to say that we really slept. First we cuddled and snuggled up, but when Bug finally fell asleep he started rolling around and kicking me in the teeth every few moments. Then he kicked off the covers and started shivering, so I kept trying to keep him covered, but whoa, nelly. Losing proposition if I ever saw one. At any rate, I woke up around six this morning, but Bug had beaten me to it. He was already reading again.

So there you have it, the Campstravaganza with my little brother Bug. It was one of the greatest times I've had in a while, and oh my goodness, do I love that little boy.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I've Got a Dog and Her Name Is..... ?

Well, now I've gone and done it. I've been wanting to get a dog for a long time (loooooooonnnnng time) and was just waiting till I got back from my travels to go find the perfect little puppy. A medium-sized, energetic, funny dog that I could train and love and snuggle and take on walks and hikes, and on all kinds of little Dog and Cheasty adventures. So I started looking online, thinking I'd probably better check out some of the local shelters to see what kind of dogs they get ahold of, and then I found this:

I can't explain it. Maybe it was the way she looked, maybe it was her rather pathetic and sad little life story, but whatever it is, I was a goner the minute I met her. I am now the proud owner of a 10 year old miniature mutt named Sweetie. Ten years. That's what... 70 in human years? Oh, and she's toothless. And deaf as a fence post. And she's also a little gender-confused, because she walks around and pees like a boy dog, lifting her leg and "marking" her territory. And she weighs seven pounds. And you know what? I'm kind of in love, because in spite of all that, in spite of starving and being a street dog and losing her teeth, and being old, she's still a spunky old gal, prancing around, snuggling on laps, and generally being awesome.

She's been with her foster dad for a number of months, and nobody's even put in an adoption application on her on account of how old she is. Doesn't that just break your heart? The good news is that her foster dad took very good care of her, and she's looking much spiffier than when he'd just gotten her (see photo above):

The other good news is that she came over to hang out at my house the other day, and she loved it. I'm taking a trip back east to visit family and get some work done, but when I come back in the end of May, she's all mine.

The bad news is I'm really stuck on the name thing. Sweetie? I mean, come on. I suppose it could be worse - she could be named Buttercup or Princess or Barbie, or something, but jeez. Sweetie. Since she's completely deaf, I can call her whatever I want and she won't know the difference, but it seems that after all my mocking (see yesterday's post), I've caught a derivation of the Umulu disease. I haven't named her anything yet, but only because I'm stuck on options. So here are my options, as I see them, blog. Help me decide.

Ethel Merman.
Little Dude.

So? What do you think?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Umulu and the Amazing Technicolor DreamCat

I think it's time for an intervention. Last Saturday, under pretenses of "going for a walk," (HA!) my devious sister Umulu lured me to the Town Lake Animal Shelter, and, naturally, we walked out with a cat. "A cat?!" say some of you who know me well. Yes, a cat. I know, I know, the AmazingPants Clan has long been of the dog persuasion, but Umulu was seriously jonesing for an animal to snuggle with, but what with being out of town for a couple of days every other week, a dog looked to be an impractical solution. So a cat it is, and ladies and gentleman, as a fervent dog person, even I have to say that this is one fine, fine feline. He's affectionate, friendly, soft, a purr machine, housetrained. What's not to love? He's an 11 lb. wonderball. But friends, we have a problem. Umulu can not decide on a name.

Now when I say that she can't decide on a name, I don't mean to imply that Umulu is in any way dithering. No dithering here. Umulu is many things, but a ditherer is not one of them. No. Rather, she acts decisively, moving ahead swiftly and with assurance when convinced she has made the right decision. So it's not so much a case of this poor cat having no name, as it is a case of the cat having too many names. Here's the situation. In a little less than a week this charming fluffball has been the proud owner of no less than SEVEN NAMES. Yes, that's right, a gasp of dismay was the correct reaction. You may do it again, if it'll make this news any easier to bear. Here's a list.

Brewster McCracken.
Malvolio. (This is where I got off the name train, unable to bear the constant upheaval. To me he will always be Malvolio.)

She went so far as to have "Toby" engraved on his name tag, only to get home and find herself calling him "Peanut." At this point I despair of the cat ever having a proper name, but here's the thing that makes it all somehow easier to bear. He doesn't know his name anyway, so really, who's she hurting? What we've got here is just one very lucky little cat who couldn't be happier to be in his new home, even if he does want Mom to put him down so he can go chase some dust mites.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Big Bend: Day Two of a Two-Day Photo Extravaganza

Yesterday I posted some photos from the first day of Umulu's and my Big Bend camping trip of a few weeks ago, from the day we explored the Chisos Mountains. But Big Bend is huge, and the vast majority of it isn't mountainous at all, but a very very very dry dry dry desert. Lots of cactus under a bright blue sky. Umulu and I did a lot of exploring, but our favorite hike was the one out to the hot springs, a path that took us up over some gorgeous desert landscape

and right along the banks of the Rio Grande. On the left, USA. On the right, Mexico. Hello, Mexico.

Something I'd had no idea about before heading down to Big Bend is what a hotbed of archaeology it is. HUGE dinosaurs apparently roamed this ground millions of years ago, allosaurs, pterodactyls, t-rex, etc. And wouldn't you know, I am the luckiest devil in the world, cause look at what I found when I was looking at the ground on our walk:

Do you see that? It's an embedded fossil of an absolutely ENORMOUS prehistoric snail. Here's another photo with my hand alongside the fossil for size comparison.

Several miles of enchanting landscape later, we finally rocked up to the hot springs, right next to the Rio Grande. Also, right next to Mexico. Check out Umulu in her bikini. Ain't she the cutest?

But what we really couldn't figure out was what the heck were these guys doing on the other side? (Besides trying to sneak peeks at us changing into our swimsuits behind the bushes, that is.) Can you even see them in this picture? I think maybe not, but they're under the bushes.

So there you have it, campers. Umulu and Amazing Cheastypants do Big Bend. It was a blast, and I strongly recommend you check it out, should you ever get the chance.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Big Bend: A Two-Day Extravaganza of Photos

A few weeks ago my sister Umulu and I took off for a few days of camping in the desert. Big Bend National Park sits right at the border between Texas and Mexico, and from what I'd heard it was beautiful. Given that most of Texas is... um... well. Not so beautiful, let's say, I was kind of psyched to see it.

So we drove for hours and hours and hours and hours and HOURS through the west Texas wasteland, and when we got there, guess what. It was beautiful. Hooray! It was worth the siberian death march! So first we spent some time in the desert, where I got to exclaim over the thousands of ocotillo, which is one of my favorite plants. See this tall sticky looking thing with red flowers on the end? Now pretend it's the top of a person's head, and that person has about 15 braids hanging down, all fastened with red barrettes. Now that person sticks her finger in a toaster oven, and WA-HOOOOOOO!!!! Ocotillo. Just try and tell me that isn't an amazing plant.

And of course, it's springtime in the desert, which is just about the most wonderful season on account of all the flowers. For example, the famous Texas blue bells. But you know what, I think I don't know my Texas wildflowers that well, because when I called them blue bells, Umulu said, "wait, I thought they were called bluebonnets." Which sounded right to me, too, but then why is the ice cream called Blue Bell? So many unanswered questions.

So right now you're saying, "wow, the Texas desert sure is beautiful!" And you're correct, but wait, cause you ain't seen it all yet. Big Bend has a whole mountain range, too! Here you go, the Chisos mountain range. Lovely, no?

Naturally, there was celebratory leaping.

Yahoooooooo!!!! Mountains!!!!!

But deep in these mountains lie unimagined dangers, some of which put Umulu a little on edge. For example, bears.

Lucky for us, that sign told us just exactly what to do in case of a bear attack. Unluckily for me, Umulu got so freaked out at the possibility that she accidentally mistook me for a bear, but at least she followed the Bear Attack Rules correctly.

Rule number one: throw things at the bear:

Rule number two: wave your arms and scream. Scare the bear.

Lucky for me, I'm smarter than a bear, and I managed to disarm her and calm things down, and we kept on climbing the mountain. At times it was rough and windy going,

But eventually we got to the top. Look at this picture and tell me that wasn't worth the risk of bear attack.

(Coming tomorrow, tales from the low desert.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Big Bend Teaser

Did I mention that I went on a trip to Big Bend National Park with my sister Umulu a couple of weeks ago? Well I did, and lordy, lordy, lordy, was that place beautiful. I'm kind of running late for a hot night out on the town right now, but here's a little teaser of some of the pics to come. Click to embiggen, and ask yourself one question: Just how badly did that spider want to get into the center of that flower that it was willing to cross a minefield of cactus spines? Apparently spiders are just like magpies. And my friend Penata. They love anything, just as long as it's bright and shiny.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Near Death on the High Seas

Oh, my god, I'm exhausted. Last night it was the mid-1800s and I was traveling across the Atlantic in a wooden ship, a small boy in my charge. All went rather smoothly until the most enormous hurricane in the history of hurricanes whipped up, and then holy mother of mary. As somebody who is actually a little bit scared of waves (read: kind of terrified), and thus has visualized some pretty horrific wave-and-storm scenarios, in my wildest imaginings I've never imagined waves that tall, that huge, that black and mighty. It was like standing at the base of Everest and looking up, except Everest was about to crash down upon your head. The ship I was on felt like a little rubber ducky on the water, and while sometimes I was being me, in the ship, trying to save the little boy and bail water as fast as I could, sometimes I was outside the ship directing the action through the sheer force of my will. I commanded the ship to rise higher upon the waves, pushing it up as hard as I could, trying to get to the top. I forced the ship to scud right instead of left to avoid the swirling trough that would capsize the boat and drown us all. I thrashed and rolled around so much that I kicked all the sheets off the bed, I bit the inside of my lip so hard I bled, and when I woke up in the morning I had a prolonged moment of not knowing where in the world I was, what day it was, even really who I was. But I'll tell you what, that hurricane did not overturn that ship, and I managed to save the little boy, too. Now if you'll excuse me, I need a nap.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Resistance Is Futile

So it turns out I have a celebrity double. Personally, I don't see it, and for a decade now I've been strongly resisting any inclination to agree when I'm at a party, or the grocery store, at the airport, or a car dealership and somebody says to me, "Hey, you know who you look just like?" This happens all the time. Not just when girls are sitting around being silly and saying, "No really, who do you think I look like the most?" Strangers, friends, family, EVERYBODY says this to me. I've even been asked for an autograph.

You know who they think I am?

Here, take a second and think about it. I'll show you a picture or two. Any guesses?

This is an "I just got a great haircut!" picture:

Also, this. Here I think I kind of look like Elmo, though that is never the celebrity people guess. Also, you can see the gum in my wide open maw.

Or how about this lovely version of me. Here I'm doing the inimitable Look of Unadulterated Seduction:

I know, I know. Dead sexy.

So there. Have you got any ideas? If you answered Janeane Garofalo, you answered like a million other global citizens, with the singular exception of a potentially delusional but very insistent Nicaraguan man who believed I looked like Kendra from that show about Hugh Hefner's girlfriends that live in the Playboy Mansion (click the link on her name and let me re-emphasize the "delusional" part of "potentially delusional").

In 2003 when I went to go buy L'il Mazdie I took my dad with me to the car dealership to sign the papers and whatnot. As we pulled up in the parking lot, the salesman who approached me came towards like they always do, big smile, hand stuck out for a handshake, etc. But as he got a little closer, he stopped. "Um, hi," he said, and then sort of just stood there for a second before he kind of shook himself out of it. "Sorry, it's just that you look an awful lot like, um, Janeane Garofalo?" I laughed him off and kept walking. "Yeah, I get that all the time," I said over my shoulder. Superdad thinks this is hilarious, though, and so as we walked away he turned back and stage-whispered at the guy, "That's cause she is Janeane Garofalo!" As we sat in the cubicle doing the paperwork, people kept doing unnecessary walk-bys, and heads kept sort of popping up over the dividers to check it out and see if a famous person really was buying a Mazda Protege 5. Nothing against my L'il Mazdie, but I kind of doubt that's what Janeane Garofalo drives.

So I don't know, what do you think?

Here's Janeane Garofalo (sorry, I could only find thumbnails, and I'm technologically dumb):

I've always resisted being told that I'm her doppelganger, largely because the only thing I knew about Janeane Garofalo is that she played the "ugly friend" in that movie The Truth About Cats and Dogs. I didn't think she was particularly ugly at all, though her wardrobe in that movie could have used some work, but for that matter so could have Uma Thurman's. It's more just that, really, who wants to be told they look like the girl who played the ugly girl in any movie?

The sheer weight of overwhelming evidence however, is making me re-evaluate, and it's not just all the "hey you know who you look like" comments. Now even SCIENCE is making me think there might be something to this. Have you ever done the celebrity match-up at You might have to sign up to do this, but it's kind of hilarious. You upload a photo of your face, forward-facing, and it does some fancy-schmancy measuring and matching kind of sciency thing, and that wha-boom! Presto, there you have it: the celebrity you most resemble, and also the percentage to which you resemble that person.

Aha! I thought, when I first heard of this. Finally, my chance to see for real whether I look like Janeane Garofalo! So I uploaded a photo or two, and waited for the results. Please, please, please, I murmured, let it be Kendra from that Playboy show! It finished and gave me my results:

Janeane Garofalo. 80% resemblance.

So there you have it, and now that I've looked on the interwebs for more pictures of this lady, I have to say, not too bad! If Janeane Garofalo ever needs a body double, I'm going to make a million dollars. I suppose, all things considered, I got pretty lucky. A good girlfriend of mine put in her picture and they told her she looked like Peter Sellers. Gah.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Texas is Hilarious

Today it is pouring buckets in Austin. I just went out to run some errands (cough, cough, buy a lot of wine, cough cough) and the streets are deserted. AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH, oh, no, it's raining!!!! Stay inside, people, or who knows what could happen. YOU MIGHT GET WET.


Oh Blog, thank you so much for your entries in the GUESS CHEASTY'S TRUE NEW HEIGHT competition. At long last (ahem, 24 hours) we have a winner! Woo-hooo, wowza, fantastic! Let us go now to the stadium where I am about to crown the winner of our little competition with a delicious cupcake.

The arena is packed to the rafters, throngs of Amazing Cheastypants's most devoted fans on hand to see just how tall their beloved could possibly have grown. Suddenly, the lights dim, and a spotlight trains on one of the doors. As triumphant music fills the air, the doors open, and a diminutive person runs into the arena, arms waving in the air. The crowd goes wild as our winner approaches the podium to receive the WINNER'S CUPCAKE, but gasp! The winner is covered up in one of those satin boxing robes with an outsized hood! All we can discern is that the person is unbearably tiny, laughably petite. Who is it? the people murmur. Who could it possibly be?!

The crowd grows quiet as the winner steps up on the podium and prepares to show his or her face. Is it a midget? the people whisper to each other, straining their eyes. A hush falls over the stadium, a sense of anticipation leaves everybody's nerves taut with excitement.

And then the air begins to shimmer. And then to sparkle, and then cheers erupt from the populace as AMAZING CHEASTYPANTS WALKS ON STAGE! Oh, joy, oh hysteria! We knew, of course, that she was breathtakingly beautiful, but how much more gorgeous and glamorous could she possibly grow? The sky, it would seem, is the limit! The journalists scribble madly in their notepads, not wanting to forget to mention Amazing Cheastypants's diamond-studded dress, her acres and acres of beautiful bouncy hair, or the way she seems to float upon the stage as if suspended from the ceiling by silken strands of spun gold. Ahhhhhh, sighs the crowd. If she was utterly lovely at five foot one and three-eighths of an inch, how much more glamorous is she now at...

"FIVE FOOT TWO INCHES!!!" cries the victor, throwing off her hood to reveal the dear face of none other than...

PENATA THE WONDER-SHRIMP! Hooray, Penata, you excellent guesser! I will anoint your teeny tiny head with many cupcakes, although I might ask you to stand on a ladder while I do it so I don't have to bend down so far. (Mwa-hahahaha.)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

It's A Miracle, That's What It Is

Well I hardly know how to describe what just happened, or how I feel about it. I am definitely mystified, perhaps a bit muddled, and more than a smidge delighted. You see, this is just so strange. I have been 5'1 and 3/8" since I was twelve. How tall are you, Cheasty, you ask? Five foot one and three eighths of an inch, I respond. That has been my answer for nearly 20 years now, an answer I confirm at my yearly doctors appointments when they make me measure myself AGAIN. I mean honestly, I think to myself on those occasions. If I've been five foot one and three eighths of an inch for 16, 17, 18, and now 19 years, do we really need to go through this process again?

Well it turns out YES. Yes we do. You want to know why? OK I'll tell you, but hang on to your hat because you are not going to believe this. I went this morning for a yearly exam and we did the whole rigamarole. Get on the scale, take my blood pressure, take my temperature, and stand under the measuring stick. THE SAME MEASURING STICK I ALWAYS STAND UNDER, I might add. And just for shits and giggles, when I stepped away from the measuring stick I looked back just to see if anything had changed. I almost fell flat on my face because guess what. No, come on, really, just guess.

I grew.

I GREW!! Wa-HOOOOOOOO!! I have de-shrimped myself! How could this have happened?! Did all that time I spent near the equator somehow have a bizarre impact on the gravitational force attaching my bones to one another? Is Nicaraguan rum really a top secret growth elixir? Perhaps the Apocalypse is nearing? Oh, this is just fascinating and wonderful, and TOTALLY explains why I've been feeling so fiendishly tall next to Penata lately, when she's the same height as me, OR SO I THOUGHT. Ha ha, Penata. Now I am taller!

As much as I'd love to tell you all how much I grew and HOW FREAKING TALL I AM NOW, I think we shall make this a contest. A cupcake to the person who gets the closest to guessing my true new height in the comments!

Yours in alluring and glamorous tallness,
Amazing Cheastypants

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Worst Album Covers Ever. (A Re-Run)

I was doodling around the other day on the internet and I went back to see what I was doing this time last year. April, that'd be, and the answer was: quietly dying of stress from taking my comprehensive qualifying exams. Strangely, perhaps because I was desperate to do anything other than my studying, I did some of my best blogging back then. I found the following post, which I hadn't thought of in forever, and it made me laugh all over again. So today, on a beautiful spring day when I actually can go play outside (as opposed to being chained to a desk under a mountain of heavy history tomes), I'm just going to re-post this album cover blog. 'Cause it's funny. And 'cause I want to go ride my bike.

April 23, 2008:

I don't remember where I actually got these pictures (some random email forward, I think), but I saved the pdf and every now and then I go back and look again, just to have a laugh when I really need one. Right now what I need is A) a good laugh, and B) a quick and easy blog post so that I can keep working on my comps. So here you go, my friends. Some of the worst album covers ever created in the human universe. And, of course, my commentary.

Yes you can, you sexy devil. You can borrow some L-O-V-E, and then give it right back to me.

Geraldine knows this because Ricky told her so. And Ricky speaks only the truth.

I can say nothing to make this funnier.

"Don't worry, sweetheart. Nobody will know you're pregnant for at least another couple of months. By that time I'll have sold all my beaver skins and made us a nice tidy fortune to live on. Now be a good girl and quit crying so I can finish my beer."

Ah, the McKeithens. In case of musical emergency, Mrs. McKeithen keeps an accordion in her beehive. (Grammar geeks of the world, spot that horrifyingly misplaced punctuation!)

Ummmmm... And all these years I thought all you could see in a crystal ball was the future.

It's like gay porn, but even gayer! (This one's for you, Fairy King. ;)

No, Jasper, I think God wants you to wear the EXTRA small sweatervest.

No, really. That's him right behind us.

Now performing live at the Palladium with her equally miraculous co-stars, the Great Footless Tapdancer, and the Amazing Lipless Harmonica Player!

My favorite songs are "Blinded By the Light," "I Can See Clearly Now the Rain Is Gone," and "Tell Me Have You Seen Her?" (Yes, I'm going to hell for that one.)

Ew. Words escape me.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Word That Defeated Us All

So this is the problem with being a big reader. I spend a lot of time with my nose buried in a book, and the thing about books is that they use a lot of words that we, as human beings, almost never use in actual language. Also, the books don't tell you how to pronounce these words, a problem that is especially acute with young children who are precocious readers (ahem!). For the longest time, I thought there were two different words, e-pi-to-mee and epi-tome, that meant the same thing. My good friend Octavia, also a precocious reader, once embarrassed herself while reading aloud in class, "It was a terrible catastroff." Who knew it was epitomeeee and catastropheeeee? Oh, the humiliations!

Nowadays I'm a little more circumspect. For example, I would never use the word circumspect in conversation, because I know perfectly well that circumspect is a book word. Also, I'm not entirely sure I could pronounce it correctly without stumbling over the conglomerated consonants that seem perfectly placed to trip me up. For some reason it always comes out of my mouth "circ-sum-spect," though I can't figure out why. But at the end of the day, I guess I just don't get as embarrassed as I used to when I didn't know how to pronounce a word. Maybe I've heard too many people order an "expresso" to feel like going "nucular" on my own ass when I stumble over words like "epistemological" or "ontology" in a seminar full of people smarter than I am. I've given up getting annoyed when people "conversate" instead of "converse," or "orientate" themselves, instead of orienting themselves. Frankly, language is an ever-growing thing, and who am I to stand in the way?

But there is an exception to this new laissez-faire approach toward language I've adopted. Blog, be my witness. Today I declare war on the word "quinoa." Qui⋅noa: [keen-wah, kee-noh-uh] Noun: a tall crop plant, Chenopodium quinoa, of the goosefoot family, cultivated in Peru and Chile for its small, ivory-colored seed, which is used as a food staple. It is indeed a lovely grain, but oh, how I hate that word. I hate it not because I don't know how to pronounce it, but because NOBODY knows how to pronounce it. But does that stop anybody from CORRECTING me when I say it incorrectly? No it does not. Because EVERYBODY is convinced that only he or she truly know how to say quinoa correctly, and everybody else is wrong. Just dead wrong. Here's an example. Me, at the grocery store: "Excuse me, miss, do you know where I can find the [keen-o-wah]?" Miss at the grocery store, in pretentious tones: "Oh, you mean the [keen-wah]? Yes, this way." OH MY EVER-LOVING GOD.

I have counted no less than six ways to pronounce this word. Keen-o-wah. Keen-wah. Kee-noah. Kwine-noah. Kin-wah. Kwin-noah. Am I leaving any out? Probably.

I have gleaned this information not through google, not through an informal survey, not by searching a dictionary. Each of these obnoxious pronunciations represents one of the ways some complete and total stranger has corrected my pronunciation in a grocery store or at a dinner party. As a result, I renounce them all, ALL, I SAY and call upon the World Quinoa Association, if such an association there be, to a) choose a seventh pronunciation, and b) declare that pronunciation the officially correct pronunciation so that we may have done with this nonsense. Because if one more shaggy-headed hippie or j-crewed yuppie foodie corrects me ever again, there will be blood.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

If You Don't Dance and Sing and Clap, You're Clearly Dead

Oh, my precious poppets, you're going to love me for showing you this. You may choose to demonstrate your love in any number of ways, though comments and gifts of chocolate always go a long way towards making me happy. The following video is one of those 'spontaneous' public performances, this one of a song from The Sound of Music, and it's marvelous, especially the looks on the faces of the people who have no idea what's going on at first. Keep watching, because when there's about 1:40 left in the video it gets unspeakably more awesome!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

My Sister: Badass or Seriously Disturbed?

Me: Hey Umulu, why do you have a big bandage on your thumb?

Umulu: Oh, I was chopping vegetables the other night and I accidentally cut off the tip of my finger.

Me: Oh, my God, are you OK? Was it like a tiny bit off the top, or a big chunk?

Umulu: Well, I looked down and there was the tip of my finger. Like a recognizable chunk of fingertip.

Me: Jeez, that's wild. What'd you do with it?

Umulu: I threw it down the garbage disposal.

Me: (heavy thunking noise as I hit the floor in a dead faint.)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Come Here, Hold Out Your Hand

Ok, pretend I'm walking up to you right now, and I am holding my hands out like I have something in them. Something I don't want to get away, but neither is it something I particularly want to hold too close to me. "Hey, come here!" I call out. "Hold out your hands!" So what is your reaction in this instance?

Clearly a sane person would run far and fast. That is, in fact, what I would do if I were you, cause if I know me, I'd be trying to give you something cool, but still creepy. Well, I'd be wrong to do so, at least right now. Know why? Come here, I'll show you.


Is this not the cutest little thing you've ever seen?

(Many thanks to Gregorio, my hand model, who did indeed approach me just as I described above. I ran.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Welcome to the Elf Palace

As promised, my poppets, some pictures of my perfect wonderful delightful extraordinary Elf Palace. Let's pretend you just knocked on my door. (knock, knock, knock) Why, hello, blog! How nice to see you. Come right on in, why don't you? Oh, thanks, I just finished setting things up. I still have a few more things to do, like pick up my plants from the babysitters, but for the most part, this is it.

So here's the living area/kitchen/dining room/closet room. With the exception of the kitchen table and the blue folding chair (classy!), the furniture is all old AmazingPants family stuff. The coffee table there, for example, is my grandfather's old Navy sea chest.

The sofa is from my parents' old living room set, and although the leather is cracked and the seats are falling through, man is that old thing comfortable. The lamp on the side table is part of a set that was a wedding gift to my parents when they sealed the deal back in '75.

The yellow corduroy chair dates way back in my mother's family. She sat on the arm of it next to her grandmother and watched news of the Cuban Missile Crisis unfold back in 1962, but I think it had a considerable history even before that. Then Captain Mommypants and Superdad took them (there used to be two) when they bought their first house, and it was the Time Out Chair when Umulu and I were misbehaving. Last year I grew roots in Old Corduroy while I studied for my comps. I love that chair.

Off to my right here, right through that door you can see in the pictures above, is the bathroom and laundry, which is chiquitito, but just perfect.

And up the stairs into the loft... ta-daaaaaa!! My favorite reading chair, vintage AmazingPants family heirloom, circa 1989. And check out those nook beds! Anybody want to have a slumber party?

And a desk, where I, er... um.... well. It's where I certainly have plans to work, at the very least.

So there you have it, blog. See why I call it the Elf Palace? It is both elfin and palatial, and I am the luckiest son-of-a-gun on the planet. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to nesting.