PlazaJen: Passion Knit

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Every Tuesday

Every Tuesday, the 63rd Street Patriots gather at 63rd Street & Ward Parkway, and they protest the war in Iraq. The war. We forget we're at war, don't we? We hustle & bustle and cook dinner and watch TV and unless we have someone over there, we forget. Our lives become chaotic and homogenized simultaneously, as we grow distracted. Meanwhile, people die. We forget what we're fighting for - and the price tag just keeps climbing.

Rain, snow, blazing heat - every Tuesday, they are there.

Every Tuesday, I am reminded that we have men & women in uniform, putting their lives on the line because their country told them to go, and that's what they committed themselves to do. Regardless of if you agree with why they're there - human beings are in a fighting, deadly siutation, so far removed from our daily life.

Every Tuesday, I see the sign with the number who have died.

Every Tuesday, I honk my horn for peace.

Every Tuesday, I realize how lucky I am.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:35 AM | link |

Monday, February 27, 2006

Sock Tales

Well, I finished JWo's Valentine's Day socks - out of Trekking, and they're just so be-yooo-tiful, if I do say so myself! (It's all in the yarn!)
Here's a snap from when I started, and then some finished shots. Because I knit two socks at the same time (one from the inside of the ball, and one from the outside), they ended up being kind of mirror-opposites to each other. I love 'em! And so does he. I did a 1x1 rib at the top, then switched to a Garter Rib (K2,P2 for one round, K second round, repeat) & I was really happy with how that looked. For the most part, followed the pattern from Sensational Socks, though I think it told me to do my gussets on the bottom of the foot - another mistake, I'm guessing, the book has a LOT of errata - so I'm mainly using the book for stitch patterns & cast-on numbers & doing my own thing for heel & toe shaping in the future.

Another view of the cast on

Trekking Socks for James

What's in the future? Well, I've already got another pair in the works, with the Socks That Rock yarn we bought when Kristin needed some positive karma during her house-buying adventure. This skein is the Queen Rock colorway, and again, the yarns were just SO much more impressive in person than on the computer. I'm doing a yarn-over cable pattern (again from Sensational Socks) and it looks really cute! I started out doing the Laburnum stitch & that was too lacy for my taste.)

Socks that Rock
posted by PlazaJen, 8:54 AM | link |

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Note To Self:

While it may SEEM like a fantastic & tasty idea, putting roughly 1/2 cup of sliced jalapenos on your pizza? Will NOT seem like a fantastic idea later. Check your geneology, you Irish/Dutch/German freakazoid. Your people thought potatoes were tasty plain & boiled......
posted by PlazaJen, 8:55 PM | link |

I Hope You Know That This Will Go Down On Your Permanent Record.

Awwww, those crazy kids. Went & got themselves caught, their memories of fleeting freedom & life on the run is going to have to keep them company for a long, long time to come. (You can read the article from our local paper here,, though it might require registration.)

It's like something scripted for one of those Sunday afternoon Court TV/Lifetime movies - she ran a program that brought dogs to inmates for training; he was a convicted murderer. She smuggled him out in a dog crate, and they've been on the run ever since. (She is married, with two sons; probably NOT going to be married after this adventure.) It's been rather big, tawdry news 'round these parts, and when they were captured Friday night, you could tell our CBS affiliate was wetting their pants in delight, breaking in to all the commercial pods to give us updates.

I imagine the movie screenplay is being written & shopped around as I type!
posted by PlazaJen, 2:22 PM | link |

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sometimes Even *I* Don't Understand Myself

Sometimes I'll jot down blog ideas in my Yahoo notepad, so I have something to reference, refresh my memory, etc. Usually I forget to go and look at what I've written, but today I thought, "What do I have in there?"

And the most recent note I have? "Complain about lint."

I fucking hate lint. I'm not sure what else I thought I was gonna get from that, but hey, there it is, and I'm putting it out there for everyone to see. Down with the man, down with the lint. BOOOO on lint.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:11 AM | link |

Friday, February 24, 2006

Measure of a Man

No, I'm not discovering some untapped love of Clay Aiken. I'm talking about how we ultimately are valued in this world, in this finite amount of time on this earth.Is it the work we do? Is it the mistakes we make? Is it our character, our ethics, our religion, the car we drive, how much money we make? Granted, I am writing this with the remnants of bitterness still around my gills, and I can't go into all the details, but suffice it to say, in the giant game of life, I am Charlie Brown a hell of a lot more often than I'm Lucy Van Pelt.

My mistake is that I believe people are good. I still do believe that, but I think what I fail to remember is that people are flawed, and there are flawed people who can only direct their feelings & actions outwardly, seemingly without regard for the fact they are hurting other people to make themselves feel better. It's as though they are keeping some invisible score, X! Check one for me, I found a mistake and I threw it in your face. Sorry, Charlie Brown, you're flat on your back again. YOU'RE NOT PERFECT Charlie Brown and I will never let you forget it. It would not surprise me if this was how Lucy's parents treated her....

I will tell you when those times have happened to me, and the sky is over me & the earth hard under my back, I feel my jaw harden. I beat myself up for anything I did to contribute to the mistake & situation. I replay every moment like a slow-mo Olympic camera crew, flinching every time the mistake happens. I joked tonight that I'm the best at beating myself over the head, and it's true because I used to be six feet tall. (I'm short - 5'3")

But I'm rapidly learning that beating myself up truly isn't the solution. I do make mistakes. I will continue to make mistakes. The first step I can do to break the above cycle is to forgive myself. I believe one true measure of a person isn't how they behave when everything's "right" - it's how they handle crisis, mistakes, problems. The person who chooses a benevolent route, one with forgiveness & understanding, that is the person I wish to be, and the people I wish to have around me. And no, Lucy, I don't feel like playing football today.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:22 AM | link |

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Used To Know The Whole Book By Heart....

Ahhhh, there's nothing as joyful & life-affirming as Edward Gorey....heh.

Go easy on that.
You will drink too much gin. Not the worst way to

die, but you won't remember too much of your

life. Hey, at least you made some people


What horrible Edward Gorey Death will you die?
brought to you by Quizilla

Dang, I thought I'd be Neville, who died of ennui! (That one is my personal favorite.) You can see excerpts from the book here. (oo, just found the whole shebang here....This reminds me, I have an unfinished project of framing all of alphabet 'misfortunes' (I had the desk calendar & carefully cut out all the images.) I need to get on that so we can hang them someplace....cheerful.
posted by PlazaJen, 7:38 AM | link |

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Swimming in Molasses

Have you seen the movie Clockwatchers? Well, that is my life today (and yesterday). We experience these days every so often, where the daily flow (usually flood) suddenly retreats, and you're left with this wobbly feeling in your legs because you're standing on dry ground again & trying to get your bearings. More than one day of this dearth of activity, though, and I'm ready to pry my eyes out with rusty ice picks.

Oh, sure, I have crap I could do. It's all the little higgledy-piggledy stuff, though, that stands between me and Absolutely Nothing To Do, so instead, I fluffernutter around and stare at my computer screen while working on a document about Department Procedures and Processes With Which We Will Conquer The World. Riveting stuff, let me tell you. Everything takes on slow-motion characteristics. Walking up steps, I imagine I look like the bionic woman Wooowooowooooh woooohwooowooooh streams of light ricocheting off my arms because I'm going sooooooo sloooooowly. Part of me is jumping up and down inside my brain, listing off the 10,000 I "would" be doing if I were at home. Truth be told, I'd probably be asleep. Doing nothing can really wear you out!
posted by PlazaJen, 1:21 PM | link |

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Love Pranks

I completely must have been an imp in another life. Probably also a drunken house elf who spent a lot of time alternating between weeping and shrieking with hysterical laughter in a elfen bi-polar way. All of that aside, I looooove me the prankety-pranks. LOVE THEM. And even worse, don't particularly like them played on me, making me the WORST of all pranksters, the sort who can dish it out but cannot take it. Just like an unruly house elf!

So, right now, I have that high-in-my-chest compression of tickledness, that pressure that makes you feel like the mouth of a baloon stretched flat and taught and all air coming out of you will be at a high braying volume of noise. Because we played a little prank on my boss (always the best person to fuck with, don't you think? Hi! I'm fired!) and it's harmless yet funny.

Kristin & I both got Highly! Scented! candles as gifts at the holidays, and I put mine in our breezeway at home & lit it. Ten minutes later I had it blown out, the lid screwed back on, a permanent grimace etched on my face, what with the old-lady heavy-perfumed dreck saturating the air. Kristin never opened hers, until today, when I dared her to. Then, she & the other member of our department decided to HIDE IT in our boss' office in an obscure corner with the lid off, and we would await the inevitable bitching, "What the hell is that smell, ass clowns?" from over the wall. But! Before that could happen, he came downstairs, and now is having a MEETING in his office with somebody from the Outside World, who must be wondering why our boss smells like a Cloying English Garden.

As long as nobody passes out or has a seizure, it's still funny.
posted by PlazaJen, 2:09 PM | link |

Monday, February 20, 2006

How To Tolerate Ice Dancing...

...If you're a guy.

Just take a lesson from my husband, and in no time at all?

You have a drinking game.

Don't worry, it's quite simple, and much easier than being the Lithuanian judge.
First thing you look for are crotch & butt shots.
Then, sexual positions.
Last, and certainly not least, you watch for somebody to crash, fall, or get dropped.

What more do you need?
posted by PlazaJen, 8:26 PM | link |

Plotting World Domination - aka, Just Another Monday

What I need right now is a fireplace. In my office. I am rarely, if ever, too cold at work, but today, I think the a/c is on. And it’s about 30 degrees outside. So! My fingers are stumpy ice blocks, the Skinnernet is not working again, and people need to introduce themselves on the phone.

That would be the first lesson in etiquette my world domination tour would enforce. Must Introduce Self On The Telephone! It’s so easy! All you do is say, “This is (your name here)”! The exceptions are, of course, spouses, family & good friends you speak with regularly. I’m not kidding you, I have people I’ve never spoken with before who’ll call up and say, “Hi Jennifer! How are you?” and wait for me to say “uhhhh, fiiiine?” and even THEN, they’ll just proceed with an attempt at chit-chat, like, how’s the weather blah blah blah, and at that point I give them stony silence followed by, “Who is this?” I feel like it’s some new approach some dickwad in sales motivation came up with, like, Hey! Don’t introduce yourself, just behave like you’re already a good friend, and the whole conversation will be friendly, you’ll be that much closer to closing the deal! Yeah, uh-huh, because people LOVE that kind of presumptive behavior in business. Monkeyfuckers. They're going to have to clean toilets when I take over the world.

And, I have this strange thing going on with my eye, like I’ve got a scratch or infection or something horrid, and I’m probably going to end up wearing a patch, and then it will be Pirate Jen’s World Domination Tour (with Cher opening, of course.) and I will sing Eminem’s song “My Name Is” for my opening number while dressed in a lot of fur and mukluks. It will be awesome, you should get your tickets now.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:13 AM | link |

Saturday, February 18, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:11 AM | link |

The Diana Ross of Blogger......

Yes, I am changing my costumes/skins/templates about as often as Diana Ross changes her costumes in a show.

Right now, I'm trying on "purple", from
Noipo, and the only complaint I have is that it doesn't quite fit in a single frame. Sigh.

You should see me with shoes.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:01 AM | link |

Friday, February 17, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:12 PM | link |

New Look

My apologies if you've been trying to read my blog in the last hour or so. I have futzed with 8 different templates, restored links 5 times, re-installed Haloscan twice, and in general, been a complete nerd while my real job keeps interrupting me. But it's Friday. And I think I'm going to finally leave this thing alone. For now.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:32 AM | link |

Big Sky Country

No, we don't live in Wyoming, but there are times when Midwestern sky feels just as expansive and infinite. I think what we have going on here in the Midwest that makes life a little different is an ever-changing weather situation. My husband is the ultimate weather forecaster - long ago, when we were in Orlando on a vacation together, he was watching the Weather Channel, and excitedly chimed in that a large front was coming off the coast of Africa. (Yes, "off the coast of Africa" gets said a LOT around our house now..... I couldn't stop laughing at the time.) Of course, later, the weatherperson talked about it coming in off the coast of Africa, and James whipped around with righteous indignation and affirmation. "See!? See?!"

I went to Lawrence last weekend to visit one of my very good friends, and the drive was nothing short of a mini-slide show in Midwestern Winter. The skies were overcast & gray, and for a chunk of time, everything was clear. Then, for three minutes? Blinding snow. Then? Poof! Gone! Ha ha! Did you dream that? I drove through maybe ten segments of blinding snow, and by the fourth one, it was becoming familiar, so I started taking pictures. You can't really see the snow, but I think it captures Kansas pretty well..... and yeah, I'm jacking up my layout to use the bigger photos!



posted by PlazaJen, 9:05 AM | link |

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cozy Tootsies....

As the temperatures here are set to plummet, nose-dive, and generally head into the deep freeze, I'm still in the grips of a sock-knitting frenzy. Good thing, given all the sock yarn I own .... and continue to buy!

I was at The Studio yesterday & didn't buy anything! (Praise Me! Look at me! Resisting temptation for one whole day!) But there's a skein of Opal sock yarn in a new colorway (or at least, one I hadn't seen before) called "Flamingo" & it was a revelry of pinks. Kristin bought it, thankfully, so I could have a vicarious moment through her. Right now, I'm making JWo a pair of socks out of Trekking XXL, and the colors are so gorgeous I want to scream every time I stop to look at them. (I don't, though, because screaming repeatedly at my knitting is probably inappropriate & a surefire way to get committed to Two Rivers WITHOUT my knitting.)

The Opal socks got finished on Valentine's Day (so I could start JWo's socks on the same day....) & here's a couple of pictures.... I knit them on 1's with a broken rib pattern on the ankles. I love the colors! And they're verrrry cozy.

posted by PlazaJen, 7:13 AM | link |

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


When I took Psych 101 in college, I got paired up with a very ineffective lab partner. I at least learned this right off the bat, as we were given our rat (Charles) & he sized up my partner & leapt for freedom. Yep. She let him get loose, and it became my job to catch him. That was awesome. NOT SO MUCH. Anyway, I recaptured Charles, put him in his box, and for the next couple of weeks, we took care of our rat & did our experiments & whatnot. (Don’t worry. We didn’t harm the rats. I think eventually they did get harmed by upper-level students, but LA LA LA LA LA I don’t remember, thank you for that pitcher of beer that wiped out those brain cells.)

Most of all, during that experiment, I remember studying B.F. Skinner’s behavioral theories, and specifically the effects that positive & negative reinforcement have on behavior. For instance, if every time the rat hits the lever, he gets a mild shock, the rat won’t take very long to stop hitting the lever. Conversely, if every time he hits the lever, he gets a treat pellet, he will hit the lever with gusto. But the most INTERESTING thing of Skinner’s theory is that positive reward, given randomly, actually sustains the behavior longer & at a higher frequency, than constant reward. In other words, why the slot machines give you a little bit of a win here & there, to keep you pulling the lever until you’re out of money. The rat hits the lever much faster & more often if he doesn’t know for sure the pellet is coming, but that eventually, it will.

Our work internet connection is incredibly inconsistent. Maddeningly so. However, it still connects, sporadically, sometimes swiftly, sometimes only partially. As Kristin said this morning, it really should be taken out back and shot. But I caught myself this morning, maniacally hitting “refresh” and rocketing back and forth between three open windows, trying to load different things repeatedly, because every 30 seconds or so, something actually would fly through the pipes & make contact with the outside world. I have actually spent MORE time in the past two days trying to be on the internet than I ordinarily would, simply because it still connects, but always at random, and with mixed results.

And that is why I’m now calling it the “Skinnernet”.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:57 AM | link |

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

GOD I Used to Hate This Day....

The worst came after I started in the workforce - and watching all the women in my department stream to the front desk to collect their elaborate bouquets of flowers..... I hated Valentine's Day - it's not like you could even go out to dinner with friends, because every good place in town was crammed with couples, drinking wine and eating polenta. (OK, that was just at one restaurant, but still. Oysters. Truffles. Mangoes. Pick your romantic dish.) But unlike one of those women I worked with, I never sent flowers to myself!

Now, it's just more like another day, really. I am reminded how lucky I am, how much I love my husband - and tonight, we will go eat Thai food, with another couple, and we'll talk about The Shield, which is about the most unromantic show on TV - but arguably one of the best. I put little FunDip Valentines in everyone's inbox at work this morning, and that made me nostalgic for those gradeschool days, when we had parties & everyone gave each other valentine's cards..... and someone usually brought cupcakes. Yum. And, whether you're attached or not, at least it's a good holiday with all the chocolate floating around..... skip the heart-shaped box of ordinary & buy a bar of something really top-notch! And, always be your own best Valentine first. I wish I'd learned that one sooner.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:55 AM | link |

Monday, February 13, 2006

Polly Dogg

My apologies to Chingy & Snoop - but I do sing this to Polly, on a regular basis.

(Whachu doin?)

Just chewin' at the Pollyday Inn

(Who you wit?)

Me and Suzyyyyyyyyyyy bring four of your friends

(What we gon' do?)

Chew some bones and bite the postmen

One thing leading to another let the chewin' begiiiiin

Mmmm, Bone.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:33 AM | link |

Saturday, February 11, 2006

It's Kind of Like Heroin for Sock Knitters ....

You know how cops take pictures after they score a huge drug bust? Neatly piled packages of dope, cocaine, whatever?

Yeah. It felt just like that. Practically illegal.

When Kristin hit her breaking point in their house-buying process, she turned to all her knitty friends here & said, "Friends? There is nothing left to do but to channel our good thoughts and hard-earned cash together & buy some fantastically beautiful hand-dyed sock yarn and hope that this house thing turns around for me."

So we did. From this place called Blue Moon Fiber Arts. The yarn is called "Socks that Rock". The colors as shown on the website are beautiful, but a pale second to what they represent in real life. (Click here to see the photos of the box being opened. Scroll past Polly & her bone.) I got "Queen Rock" and "Fire on the Mountain", and they are each just STUNNING. Good thing I'm back in Crazy Sock Knitting Mode right now - finished one pair out of Elann Sock-It-To-Me last week, started a pair out of Opal over the weekend, am on the feet-parts right now (two at a time!) with no signs of slowing down. See, dear readers, even though most of the time I just bitch & screech on this blog, when I'm not at work or out eating Thai food, I'm most likely knitting!

So, yeah, that picture above? Street value of that yarn: $300. And man - oh - man, is this yarn spectacular. Like uncut cocaine, I'm tellin' ya. (Though honestly, I have no idea what cocaine's like, except Al Pacino made it seem REALLY energizing in that Scarface movie.)
posted by PlazaJen, 5:08 AM | link |

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hot Damn, It's Friday!

Yeah, so AGAIN today I wake up before the alarm, and think, MMMMMmmmmm, yes, it's Saturday! AWESOME! And promptly go back to sleep, only to rudely be re-awakened 8 minutes later. FUCKETY DUCK! And I've had something globby in my left eye all day and I'm about ready to start wearing a patch. ARRRRGH.

I have pretty well flatlined my day away, too. Except for a brief fight with the cable company. My DVR is recording programs partway, and then stopping. I can get past this behavior for my soap, like last Friday when it recorded only ONE MINUTE, but it's doing like 47 minutes of CSI, and don't you jack with my primetime shows. Good thing it didn't screw up 24, I might have had to go down to the office in person. Anyway, I love their solution: unplug it overnight, just for tonight. Uh, ok. Tech-no-LOG-ical expertise at its finest. I smell another in-home visit for the cable company! yee haw!

Oh, and this afternoon, I imitated the laugh of a person I sat by at one of my former jobs, and I guess pretty much the entire office heard it. (Listen, this girl? She was really loud, and it loses something in the storytelling if you just titter.) The CFO called me and asked if that was me. Of course it was! I'm in management, doesn't that frighten you? Or maybe I'm just mangey. I don't feel real pretty today, what with the blinking eye and getting dressed in a haphazard Damn-It's-Not-Saturday way.

In that same storytelling episode, I swore I would not become the crazy bosses I've had in my life - and fortunately for me, most of the super-crazy ones didn't have any sort of a life outside of work. Me? I'm chock-full-o outside stuff. Like sleeping. And pretending to be a pirate. Mangey Matey! ARRRRRGH!
posted by PlazaJen, 3:13 PM | link |

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Eyes, MY EYES!

So, we are a household that reads the funnies. And since JWo's always up before me, he leaves them in the bathroom, folded to the 2PG spread that encompasses the funnies. Because I gotta see what my man Bucky's up to!

However, while he doesn't really read the rest of the stuff in the FYI section, I do. And so this morning, in my usual routine, I finish with the funnies, start to unfold the paper, glance at the Dear Abby headline, and then commence to restore the paper to its original form, so I can go through it.

And then I screamed.

JWo came downstairs a few minutes later. "What were you yelling about?"


JWo: "Oh, shit! I only saw the pots & pans on the bottom (beneath the fold). Is that her?"

me: "OH YES!"

And from there it was established that OH YES this would be a blog entry, former employer and all that crap be damned. This was the woman who left for hours at a time each day, couldn't calculate net from gross, used company resources to develop her business plan (including employees to pull the research!), the business she left the company to start, and SHE wanted to fire ME. And because I know the phone lines alllllll across the metro are going to be ringing today. (and not all because of me. she made a lot of people unhappy over the years.) Now she runs a lingerie store & has a giant four-color photo of herself in the paper.

me, in the shower: "Oh, don't you worry. THIS IS A BLOG. People are going to want to know what I think."

And with that, I couldn't have been any more Bucky Katz, EN FUEGO.

JWo: "Good thing you don't have a computer in there."

me: "GOOD THING. Dont' worry. I'm writing in my head right now."

Ohhhhhh. Who needs a cup of coffee to start their day? NOT ME! I might need some tequila shortly, however. Patron, anyone? BITCHES. AIGH. I just keep reminding myself that karma's a bitch, man. You can't screw over people's lives and expect unbridled success and joy the rest of your life. Even if you make a bunch of money, I am convinced that unless you are completely without a conscience, there are times in the night, when you're awake & alone, and the silence surrounds you to the point its deafening, you know in some tiny corner of your heart how your actions have hurt people in your life. For her, I can only hope for deafening guilt, and poor panty sales.

AIGH! I need a drink.
posted by PlazaJen, 8:06 AM | link |

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Random Orts

~Our internet at work is hit or miss right now, for some reason. I started frenetically clicking my mouse and making gutteral noises of irritation and pain this morning; it seemed to help.

~I have two hangnails that I ripped out on my right hand - ring finger & thumb, and I went to the breakroom & put neosporin & bandages on them, because they were screaming in pain. Said bandages are now greatly interfering with my ability to type - more gutteral noises - but if anyone asks, I've decided I'm going to tell people I'm learning to play the banjo. Which I just typed 'banjoy', and I kind of like that mistake.

~I have beautiful gerbera daisies on my desk from my husband, who wanted to remind me that he loves me, even when we fight.

~I am ordering a costco cake for tomorrow night's knit night & my teeth hurt just thinking about it. That cake is so damn good.

~People on the internet can be so wonderful, and then some can be soooo mean. Even ones you know. I don't understand it, and I view it as a drawback of the 'net. People say things because the keyboard makes them feel safer, like it gives them license to be rude, crude & a bully. I hope they get hemorrhoids and paper cuts. Deep ones. For both.

~I am constantly confused by the one-line summaries on my Yahoo news that keep saying "X# dead in cartoon battle". I know what's going on, but it still reads bizarre to me.

~My boss threatened to go beat up someone & called the person in questio an ass-clown. I have never been this happy working for someone.

~I get to eat at McCormick & Schmick's today, with my rep who does the best Gay Cuban voice ever. When we worked on the Project From Hell together at the last job, we eventually called the Miami market "MyJammies" and he will be my friend until one of us dies, because we forged a bond in the trenches of HELL and we both hated my boss and she was Stupido Gigante and we had ungodly miracles to perform, all the time. And then that beyotch tried to fire me. OH! I curse her tiny ugly ass with a banjoy and the hemorrhoids.

~I am terribly excited that Miss Kristin is moving into her first house. (Justin is, too.) Even with one wrong turn, I got to her house in 4 minutes. We will have the Underground Craft Railroad constructed on Wornall in no time.

Peeps, that's all I've got. In fact, if you read the above fairly rapidly, it's what it's like to spend 5 minutes working with me. Random firing of pistons, thoughts, and ideas. I'm tired, I'm distracted by 10 things, and yet, I can't NOT blog. So Orts it is. And banjoys.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:54 AM | link |

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

First Kiss

Like most people, I remember my first kiss like it was yest-ok, three months ago. I have to admit, my memory and brain get a little foggier each year. But still. I remember what I wore, where it happened, so many details, and the biggest detail of all was how AWFUL it was.

I met my quasi-boyfriend after school, skipping the yearbook meeting I was supposed to be attending. Keep in mind this is 1983, as I describe my outfit, picked out especially for the occasion. Gold metallic cotton-blend tunic. Turquoise blue knickers. I am seriously waiting for the knicker comeback. We met -this is extremely romantic- at the cemetary just behind the Lutheran church. I have no idea who's headstone we ended up at, I was just so excited to finally get to kissin'.

Unfortunately, this young man must have learned how to kiss from his dog. I had so much of his saliva all over the lower half of my face, I was completely grossed out & convinced that kissing had been extremely overrated by my friends. I kept sneaking big wipes across my face with my hand every time he'd look up & check to make sure we weren't seen. Then, the pastor for the church pulled into the parking lot, and we froze, panicked about being caught. He went inside the church, and we got back to, well, he got back to lapping at my face like an enthusiastic bassett hound. I pretty much had had it at that point, and we parted ways shortly after that.

The good news is, I also remember my first kiss with my husband, if not more vividly (and it was only about 7 years ago, not 23). I practically had to hit him over the head with a club, he was so nervous about not being able to read signals and didn't want to make a wrong move. I remember what I wore, the temperature, the light from the streetlamp, the noise of traffic, every moment. And the best news is, he doesn't kiss like a bassett hound. :)
posted by PlazaJen, 7:36 AM | link |

Monday, February 06, 2006

Winners & Losers

Well, I was rooting for the Seahawks, probably because they were the underdog, and also because I thought they'd beaten Denver. In the end, it was probably a similar experience for me, had the Chiefs gone to the Super Bowl - we're used to a level of exhilaration followed by disappointment...

So, that brings me to the two things I really focused on - the ads! and then a mini rant about the halftime show. Good grief. Let's start with the halftime show. I felt like I should have been drinking shots of Geritol. PLEASE. Bring back the Bud Bowl! Bring back Janet's booby! Bring back - can't believe I'm saying it - Britney Spears! Something, anything, inject some life into the production. I saw Keith Richards and that other dude & it was like Skeletor 1 & 2, rythym section. I was praying Mr. Jagger wouldn't keep stripping. And, while we're at it, how about the dorky banter all game about how all-American everything was? Uh, that's great & all? But last time I checked, the Rolling Stones are from ENGLAND.

Now, on to the ads. I'm not referencing any of the trades (haven't read 'em yet!) and I'm going straight off memory. Because you can spend $2.5 million to run an ad (not including production, mind you!) and if nobody remembers it, well, put a check under "oops" and think about spending it somewhere else next year?

1. Streaking Sheep by Budweiser. Hilarious. Loved it. Favorite of the game.
2. FedEx caveman - disturbing makeup, but funny. Captured CaveMan Management perfectly: "Not my problem".
3. Michelob - touch football - ever since Terry Tate, I enjoy watching people get tackled with a vengeance.
4. Budweiser - baby Clydesdale pulling the cart? Absolutely adorable.
5. Budweiser's Magic Fridge - moderately funny, but I'm not the target for that one. Clever concept.
6. Whopperettes - utterly bizarre & yet, memorable.

Now, the Ameriquest ads were interesting - even a little racy (Airplane spot), but I barely remembered the company & still have no idea what their point was. And then there was another spot that spent the first 20 seconds on a fake product, to finish with their own, and to me, that's the stupidest thing you can do in a commercial - get me to follow along and watch something that you have to switch my attention from, tell me about something new & now sell me on the new thing, all in 30 seconds. I can't even remember either product now, real or fake.

The big payoff: Gray's Anatomy. And I'm so pissed it's a two-parter.

Update: Bekah pointed out one I forgot, but was completely moved by: Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty - it really was excellent.
posted by PlazaJen, 9:24 AM | link |

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Church Pew Selling Points

Boy, there's nothing like a little late-night surfing on Craig's List.....

posted by PlazaJen, 12:43 AM | link |

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cake Pictures

Yes, despite my pride making the cake fall, and my error in grabbing cornstarch instead of powdered sugar, the cake turned out gorgeous & tasty.
posted by PlazaJen, 5:46 PM | link |

Debacle City!


One of the cakes fell. So now it's three layers, I whacked the top part of the fallen cake off - it will be good with some leftover frosting.

WHICH brings me to the debacle - oh, yes! You thought the cake falling was it?

I keep all our baking goods in rubbermaid containers. Some are the same size. This may seem superfluous, but there's a reason I share this information. I started out making a double batch of cream cheese frosting. I had half the powdered sugar added, and was dumbfounded by the recipe. It was balling up, the kitchen-aid mixer was straining (though fleetingly I thought, maybe it will burn up & I can finally get a newer bigger one!) - and then I tasted it, yep, needs more sugar. What is the DEAL????

Oh, golly, maybe because I wasn't using powdered sugar? Nope. Fucking cornstarch. FUCKETY FUCK FUCK FUCK. There went four packages of cream cheese & two sticks of butter, into the trash. (plus two cups of cornstarch but that shit can burn in hell right now.)

I'm a little peeved...however, I have tasted the cake & the new, fresh, correctly-made frosting, and it is awesome. Good thing we shop at Costco & I have everything in BULK.
posted by PlazaJen, 12:42 PM | link |


For once, I'm not talking about the band.
Right now, I can smell cake baking.... and this is one helluva cake, if I dare say so without seeming too preening or apt to pull a muscle as I pat myself on the back.

My friend Shelley's wedding shower is today, and I said I'd bring the cake. And for once, not CostCo cake. I wanted to make a cake. I don't bake desserts a whole lot, but I'm pretty good at all adventures in the kitchen, and committing to the time & creation of this cake was important to me. Now, one of the helpers in this shower immediately asked me to please make the cake co-ordinate with the invitations, OR the cups, plates & napkins. Um, let's see, NO. I'm just not that girly-girl or matchy, I guess, nor do I take direction well. Besides, I already had a vision of the cake, and when I get my visions, people just better get out of the way.

Shelley loves strawberries, so it's a white cake with strawberry jello added in, PLUS, pecans, coconut & mashed strawberries. Frosting will be cream cheese, and the cake will be topped with white edible glitter & a layer of fresh sliced strawberries. Oh, and I doubled the recipe (and took some liberties with it) and am baking it in two enormous 10-inch silicone cake pans, and will cut the cakes in half, so it's four layers.

LOOK OUT, I have a vision. I will take pictures. You will fall down at your computer monitor and I'm warning the glucose-intolerant, you will feel the sugar.

And, last but not least, as most things are with me, there's meaning within the cake. The subtle joke is that Shelley used to buy Jell-o in the deli in our building when we both worked together, and it was topped with whipped cream, and she'd always talk about how she wanted some pecans on her jell-o, because that's how they always ate their Jello in Texas, which always made me shriek, because we have many uses for Jell-o in the midwest, most of which involve floating items and molds, but putting nuts on on Jell-O is just plain wrong. I apologize for my inconsistent capitalizations in the word "Jell-O" as well. Anyway, she liked nuts on top for the crunch, and finding a recipe that uses (jello) and pecans seemed absolutely perfect to me. I know she'll find it funny, and if the batter is any indication, the cake is going to rock. JUST LIKE THE BAND.
posted by PlazaJen, 10:55 AM | link |

Friday, February 03, 2006

Que Seurat, Seurat

If you know me at all, you know I love metaphors. Big, bright, colorful, gerber-daisy metaphors. Intricate, thread-woven tapestries of a metaphor. Imagery that evokes a visceral reaction, the connection between emotion and the mind, the vision & understanding appears in the listener's eyes.

Quite some time ago, I tried explaining myself to my father in a series of heart-to-heart phone conversations. One of those times, I explained my depression. I told him it's like the Furies, from Greek mythology. Those Greeks were on to something when they created those bitches. The Furies were sent to torture a mortal for their crimes, to drive them from one end of the earth to the other, with no rest. Unlike mortals, the Furies never tired. I think a light bulb went off in his head, because at my darkest point, it felt like no matter how I tried to move, to walk, to crawl, this evil weight would tear & scratch and push me down, immobilizing me in pain. I never heard voices, in the sense of a hallucination, but we have internal voices that put ourselves down, that dismiss our ideas, and put ideas and images and scary things into your mind. Sometimes, those voices tell you you're never going to get away from the Furies. Those voices are, I'm glad to say, wrong. Better living through chemistry - and if you need it, get it. It's that simple.

The other metaphor I love also comes from my own shortcomings. I struggle, as most people do, to step outside of myself, to be objective, to see events and interactions as expressions independent of me. Again, I explained to my father, for he did pay for those art history and studio art lessons, it's like viewing a Seurat. You know, the guy who did the paintings with all the tiny dots of paint? Like viewing a Seurat one inch from the canvas, and you can't move your feet. So all you see are these seemingly large blobs of paint that make no sense. Of course, this is why there's the term in art, called "perspective", and it applies to so much more than lines & the horizon. Because it is difficult, when you're in the midst of such a confusion, and you have two or three Furies clawing at you, and you're trying to figure out what you're looking at and all you can see is a black dot, you don't see the dog in the park and the lady with the parasol, or that you can bat the Furies out of the park with the proper assistance. Like the lady's parasol. Or good pharmaceuticals. I catch myself still, in work and my personal life, with my nose to the wall, seeing only a negative spot, seeing only a fraction of the big picture, and it's harder than hell sometimes to tear yourself away, to step back, to not obsess over that one dark purple spot that seems "wrong". As a species, we're exceptionally capable of being hard on ourselves.

Alright, this has gotten nice & heavy. :) I wrote most of it a few nights ago, after my insurance-prescription battle & I was grappling with some work conflict to boot. Happy Friday. I woke up and thought it was Saturday. That was a joyous perspective, for about 1 minute. Have a splendid weekend, and enjoy the big game on Sunday - and if not the game, then those pesky, yet funny, commercials!
posted by PlazaJen, 9:02 AM | link |

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

8-Track Flashback

I was working tonight on getting ready for tomorrow night - Survivor Panama Premiere! We're having friends over for dinner, so I made the spaghetti sauce ahead of time & was cleaning the kitchen & tidying up, when the next song on the CD came on, and such a rush of memory & emotions..... I was listening to Annie Lennox's Medusa album, the one with all the cover songs, and she re-did the Blue Nile's "Downtown Lights" - and I could see myself, 22, living in Minneapolis, listening to that Blue Nile CASSETTE TAPE (insert stodgy laugh!) over & over, the ache & pain of my foolish young age, the apartment I was living in - it was like having a crazy slide show just jut into your brain & take over the screening room.
(My brain gnomes were freaked the fuck out. One of them hit the tear supply by accident, causing some leakage - it was a mess.)

After I recovered from the surprise, I thought, everyone's got those songs. Not the ones that make you go bonkers butt-dancing in your chair, but those songs at those pivotal times in your life, when you didn't know diddly-squat but you were charging ahead into Life, anyway, and when you hear them again, it's like part of the ceiling falls on your head, you're slightly stunned to see that part of your life again. We forget how far we've come in our journey, and I still marvel at the fact that there are still so many songs to be written, that there are infinite arrangements of notes & words in the world.

I wonder if I'll hear Fall Out Boy's "Dance Dance" when I'm 50, and I'll have the same crazy slide show.... :)
posted by PlazaJen, 9:58 PM | link |

SOMEbody Wants To Start A Ruckus!

So the other night, after finishing dinner at our nearby Thai restaurant, James & I were joking around & he was being a cheeky monkey and I responded by feigning as though I was going to up-end the entire table over onto him.

Then I said, "Just once, wouldn't it be fun to do that? Just once?"

James thought it would be an excellent diet ploy, as it would prevent us from ever returning to our favorite restaurants.

I couldn't let the idea go, I kept pretending I was going to do it. It just seemed like such a FUN thing to do, and so dramatic, and something that only happens in movies, and never something ordinary people like us would just.... DO. Which makes it all the more tempting!

On the drive home, I brought up how we'd come a long way in the 6+ years, and while there isn't a magic recipe, or that conflict ever goes away, some things are just more "known" now, and we don't get worked up the way we did, say, when we were living in the apartment, buying the house, etc.

"We've mellowed, JWo," I said.

"Except for the part where you're turning over tables in restaurants."

"True, true."
posted by PlazaJen, 10:03 AM | link |