Happy Birthday to Me!

What seemed like it would be a rather ordinary-though-by-no-means-unpleasant anniversary of my 39th birthday has turned out quite swell. I received the best birthday card ever from my sister and sister-in-law, along with their menagerie. I got lots of calls, emails and Facebook posts feting my increasingly rapid journey into senescence. Friends at work took me to Yank Sing for lunch. There were cupcakes on my desk when I returned from lunch. And I’m being treated to after-work cocktails in an hour. Hooray for me!

The card's size is matched to my ego!
Bark! Meow! Cluck! Quack!
Even my cat threw me a party!

Another reason to hate AT&T

TV commercials in general are insipid and annoying. But this one really makes my blood boil every time I see it.

Yes, I think we can all agree that life is filled with random chance and unpredictability – but to then turn around and say that something happening two seconds earlier is BY DEFINITION superior to something happening two seconds later belies this premise!  Suppose those ballet scouts (who, as we all know, are constantly roaming the streets looking for the next Maria Tallchief…) had been walking just a bit slower – the aspiring ballerina with the AT&T phone would’ve already crossed the street while the Brand X ballerina would’ve been discovered.

Or suppose that couple had been machete-wielding maniacs rather than balletomanes? Not only would she not be dancing Swan Lake, she’d be dead, cut down in her prime – and AT&T would be to blame!

Or what if she’d continued to wait tables and someone tipped her with a lottery ticket that turned out to be worth $46 million – then she could’ve become a famous ballerina on her own terms, without those two task-masters who discovered her on the street bleeding her dry, emotionally and financially, constantly criticizing her dancing and her weight until she developed both a dangerously unhealthy eating disorder and a raging cocaine habit, eventually ending her career before she’d even reached the age of 30, after which she spiraled further out of control until, at age 33, she was found dead of a heroin overdose in a shooting gallery in the South Bronx?

Or suppose after she was discovered and became a world-famous ballerina, with a long and successful career in which she became the most acclaimed dancer of the 21st century, she found herself approaching her 100th birthday, frail and alone in her beautiful townhouse on Fifth Avenue, just down the street from the Metropolitan Museum, surrounded by all of the trappings of wealth, the walls covered with Matisses and Van Goghs, sparkling chandeliers hanging overhead, freshly-cut out-of-season flowers artfully arranged in Baccarat vases in every room, but feeling nothing inside, just a black hole of despair and regret as she remembered her one true love, Dylan, with his crooked smile and his cowlick and his half-written novel, who’d waited tables with her back before she was discovered but whom she’d abandoned to pursue her dream-turned-nightmare of becoming the most celebrated ballerina in history?

So I guess what this commercial is really saying is don’t use AT&T. You will either die young or lead a life without even the merest sliver of happiness and completely devoid of humanity.

Do NOT Piss Off Tim Gunn

Kindly fashion mentor, deservedly-respectable old queen and Tide spokesman Tim Gunn lost his shit last night – and not without reason. Instead of his usual “Make it work” and “I’m worried about this neckline,” he brought the hammer down hard on last night’s losing team – especially on the putative and horrible (and obv self-annointed) leader of said team.

When I saw the Project Runway recap on Gawker, my favorite comment was this:

(The) collection made me think of Sears trying to do “luxury” clothing.

Best. Scare-quotes. Ever.

Oh, and fair warning: if you haven’t watched this week’s episode, this clip is a total spoiler…


Yes, this is real…

If that were me in the kayak, I would totally soil myself. Even looking at this photo may require a change of underpants…  Read the story of how Thomas Peschak took  this photo.

Shipoopi!

I honestly can’t believe I only just recently jumped on the Family Guy bandwagon. It is consistently hilarious. I’m watching all the reruns I can on TBS and Cartoon Network.

The gags on the show often go on much longer than one would anticipate – which is both hysterical and a real tribute to the dedication of the writers and directors to their craft.  The cultural references, which are rampant and often rather obscure, are consistently genius.

Peter’s showboating when he joins the New England Patriots is a perfect example. How easy it would’ve been to just use a brief chorus of Shipoopi rather than do an entire musical production… But the resulting two-and-a-half-minute scene is both really funny and true (even reverent) to the source.

I’ve never seen The Music Man, so I didn’t even understand where Shipoopi came from – and now that I do, I love the scene even more.

The Music Man

Family Guy

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Cupcake War is Hell

Annoying judges and host.

I can’t believe I just sat through an hour of Cupcake Wars on FoodTV.  What a terrible show.

I actually quite enjoy a good cupcake – though there are way more bad ones out there than good ones. Take for example, the bubblegum cupcake offered locally by American Cupcake. Granted, I haven’t tried it – but I don’t have to…  The very concept is vomitous.  And don’t get me started on Citizen Cake… If you want an excellent cupcake, head to Miette. They are tender, delicious, never too sweet, an excellent frosting-to-cake ratio and just the right size. But I digress…

So, this terrible show’s premise is that four teams of annoying people make cupcakes for three equally annoying judges, all of it hosted by some other annoying individual. Tonight’s “theme” was “sexy” cupcakes using “aphrodisiacs” (e.g. chocolate, champagne, spices – yawn…) for ingredients.

The potentially interesting part of the show, i.e. the actual preparation of the cupcakes, is simply ignored, in typical FoodTV fashion. The “entertainment” part of the show is the running around in the kitchens while the clock ticks down in each timed round.

One of today’s contestants was a not-overly-sanctimonious (though obviously still annoying) vegan chef. I was actually curious as to how she prepared her winning cupcakes without the use of butter, cream or eggs – but no mention of that. Just frenzied rushing back and forth from mixer to oven.

In the final round, the two remaining teams had to prepare 1000 cupcakes and create a “sexy” cupcake display to be set up in a “sexy” nightclub, filled with “sexy” Hollywood industry types (i.e. car parkers and shop girls).

Chef Vegan had a Plexiglas tower of shelves, with fake flames in the center, the cupcakes served in cheap-ass plastic champagne and martini glasses – the whole monstrosity was flanked by two hideous wooden silhouettes of “sexy” singles. It was awful.

But even worse was her competitor! She used a bed as the platform for her cupcakes. Yes, an actual bed, made up with all of that foul burgundy-and-goldenrod betasseled and brocaded faux-luxurious bedding so popular at Ross and TJ Maxx…  And then covered the bed with cupcakes. Seriously, cupcakes sitting directly on the bedding!

You should’ve heard me screaming at the TV. “So what three flavors of cupcakes are you serving? Pubic hair, dandruff and body lice? And if you’re going to use a bed, why not be really authentic and put a cat licking its ass in the middle of the bed amidst all the cupcakes? Maybe shine an ultra-violet light on the cupcakes to reveal any extra ‘ingredients’? And shouldn’t they be ‘cream-filled,’ if you know what I mean..? Also, I am going to vomit.” I don’t care if that bed had just rolled off the assembly line – the very idea of eating cupcakes served on a bed in a nightclub is gag-inducing.

So, to sum up, I did not care for this TV program.

The Santa Fe Surprise

Arrived in Santa Fe last Thursday evening, showing up unannounced at La Boca where my mom, sisters and sister-in-law were having dinner.  Mom was in on the subterfuge, but my arrival elicited shock and awe from the rest of the family. The reaction reminded me of this long-ago item from Spy Magazine:

Shrieks of welcome could be heard blocks away as everyone’s favourite Ewok-ish willowy blond singer–actress–vixen–shut-in–survivor, Joey Heatherton, finally emerged from seclusion.

Granted, I’m not especially willowy any longer, though I think my facial hair does lend me an Ewok-ish air. And my vixenish nature is indisputable…

Whatever the case, the surprise was complete and the shrieks were genuine – the other patrons in the restaurant were craning there necks to get a glimpse of the commotion surrounding my arrival, apparently thinking I actually was Joey Heatherton… The meal was marvelous (particularly the special suckling pig and the carrot-garbonzo hummus).  And I had a lovely visit to the farm, finally meeting for the first time my many canine, feline, avian, leporine and apian nieces and nephews.

Of course, turn-about is fair play. At Gabriel’s for dinner the following night, the wait-staff was advised on the QT that it was my birthday (despite it not being for another few weeks). After dinner, a gaggle of waiters sneaked up behind me, plopped a giant sombrero (which weighed as much a cinder block) on my head and serenaded me en Español while literally (by which I mean literally) cramming flan into my mouth.

Saturday night was spent at the Santa Fe Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly – an excellent performance in a stunningly beautiful setting.

We also spent time lolling about the pool at Mom and Krissy’s hotel; snatching up bargains at TJ Maxx and Ross; shuffling around the plaza in downtown Santa Fe; wine-tasting; and enjoying a couple of excellent home-cooked meals at the ranch (including the tastiest pickled beets and green beans ever).

By every measure, the visit was a rousing success and a fine time was had by all.