Saturday, August 30, 2008

Some things are just more fun in a dress.

Kickball Prom = best idea ever. We had quite a few gawkers as we took the field dressed in our fancy garb. I wore a bridesmaid dress, others donned outfits from high school dances, thrift stores or the depths of their closests. The look was completed with cleats, tennis shoes, sports bras and spandex. Maybe kickball should always be played like this.

It got me thinking about other activities that could be spiced up with ironic formal attire. They need to be minimally physical, fairly public and work well with groups. Grocery shopping. Bowling. BBQing. Bookclub Prom? Maybe in the spring.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Midday Shoppers

Yesterday I was grocery shopping midday, a luxury of working whatever schedule I choose, but somehow I'm not sure that beating after work errand runners is any more desirable than facing leisurely afternoon shoppers. The average age in any given grocery store at 11:00 am is approximately 65. The aisles are congested with stalled carts and motorized wheelchairs. No one is in a hurry except you.

The checkout lines are deceptively short, so I continually make the fatal error of passing up the self-check stations. At least ten minutes is tacked onto each customer as they organize their stack of coupons. I can't remember the last time I used a coupon. Even the items with "Save $1 Instantly!" coupons stuck to the front seem to slip my mind until I'm home unpacking them. Finally, after all discounts are accounted for, the elderly customer in front of me will make some bizarre request like putting $81.05 on her card and pay the remaining $0.90 in cash.

At this point in the transaction I'm desperately looking around for other open registers, but now I'm sandwiched in line. Just when I'm near making an attempt to scale the rack of tabloids, ready to face the sensitive self-check machines (no, I did not remove an item from the bagging area!), it's finally my turn. The cashier has straw hair, dyed black with gray roots grown in a full inch. She squints at me through over-sized spectacles and asks if I've heard anything about the Sasquatch discovery. A man an aisle over butts in, ranting about how the ordeal makes "us" look bad; now people will be skeptical at the true discovery of Sasquatch. I was instantly grateful I held out for this bit of human contact.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

MN Fair (On a Stick)

For the first time I experienced the spectacle that is the Minnesota State Fair. I am now thoroughly educated in fried food on a stick, which stand offers the tastiest corndogs, and where to get the best cheese curds and malts. Though I avoided the spinning, rickety rides, I was quite amused by the 95-years-and-running Ye Old Time Mill, a dark boat ride featuring glimpses at nonsensical scenes like snowmen frolicking with the three little pigs.

At the international bizarre I bought a Nightmare Before Christmas-esque key chain that I plan on using as a tree ornament, and as I was making my purchase a fellow shopper wondered aloud why anyone would want something so creepy.

I resisted temptation to play games at the Mighty Midway, aside from one round of skee ball, despite my competitive streak. The carnies were fairly tame, though I did overhear one telling another that he could "tickle [his] Elmo."

Throw in a free Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings concert and that is what I call one hell of a day. Next year I might be a little braver and try chocolate covered bacon or the spaghetti dinner on a stick. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stuff White People Like Me Like

Every mid-to-upper-middle class, city-dwelling, liberal white person's favorite blog is now a book, available at your favorite local independent bookstore.

Though some of the magic has worn from Stuff White People Like, the "Oooh I like that! It's hilarious and ironic!" realization after reading every entry, I still marvel how spot-on many of the articles are. I remember reading the blog one day and at that precise moment being guilty of no less than seven depicted stereotypes, right down to the Threadless t-shirt (#84) and organic fair-trade coffee (#1 & #6). The listings are so exact that I find myself questioning the items I don't know. The Wire? Well I haven't seen that, better put it on my online movie rental queue (#85 and #39, respectively).

I don't own the book yet, I tell myself that I can just read the blog, but it is a pretty blue and would fit in so nicely with my color-coordinated bookshelf...

Monday, August 18, 2008

On Olympics

Watching Michael Phelps win eight gold medals, setting world records on nearly all his events, I'm left thinking about how vastly different individuals' senses of accomplishment can be. Me? I am happy with myself when I make a particularly delicious batch of cookies, each time I finish a book, or when I remember to send out birthday cards. Even finishing daily tasks, chores and errands is a feat in itself. Done with laundry, that's my gold medal equivalent. Today I'm returning movies and an empty keg; Michael Phelps take that!

Another thought came up amongst my friends while watching the 100 meter sprint: include average people in the Olympics as a humorous comparison. Eight Olympic contenders and one lucky audience participant. Seat number G18 Section 112- here's your chance to run with the best! I think we're on to something here.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Flashing Red

I am very angry with Dell. Whew. Had to get that off my chest. When I bought my laptop a year and a half ago I expected some sort of disaster to strike- a bike crash where I use my computer to cushion the fall, my cat knocking over a mug of coffee onto the keyboard etc.- which is precisely why I bought the most extensive, expensive warranty offered. Four years of Complete Care. Spilled coffee and bike crashes alike, I was safe.

Amazingly enough I have found a loop hole in this "complete care" business: batteries.

Batteries have their own special warranty which lasts one year. OK fine, I get it- Dell doesn't want people calling and demanding a new battery because the one in their four-year-old computer doesn't work as well as it used to. But surely my superior warranty would cover the sudden and complete failure of my battery, with its signal light flashing an angry red and orange pattern at me. Nope. Not a chance. After several painful conversations with employees that were assuredly not named "Tim" and "Stacy" I was told my only option was to fork over a couple hundred bucks for a new one. Grrrr. And to add to the excitement, the expected delivery date is an unbelievable five to nine weeks. I can't even fathom a scenario in which it might take five to nine weeks to deliver a battery, unless maybe it will arrive via a directionally challenged messenger pigeon? Maybe I should keep a window screen open, just in case.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Eight is my favorite number, so if I were a gambling gal, today would be my day. Clearly if I played craps or roulette I would win based on my life devotion to putting the number 8 on my sports jerseys. But since casinos depress me more than entice me, I'll probably watch the highlights of the Olympic opening ceremonies instead. Or more accurately, go have a beer and talk about how flippy cup should be an Olympic event.

I am a little sad that I didn't plan a special event for today to pay tribute to the number 8, although it couldn't have topped the 6.6.06 Satan party my friend Katie hosted two years ago. We could talk about how much we love octagons and octopi, but it just wouldn't have the same impact as a creepy guy with black eyeliner and a mesh shirt hovering around, thinking the rest of us were actual fellow satanists.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Merry Meter Men

On the “Things I Hate” scale I tend to rank meter maids right up there with wet socks and drinking OJ right after brushing my teeth. But in the last year not once, but twice (twice!) a meter maid (or meter man, rather) has done something to momentarily change my opinion of the loathsome profession.

The first occurrence was actually due to a bit of lucky timing, as I happened to be walking to my car at the precise time I was being written up for having expired tags. I plead that in Iowa we get a month, not a measly fifteen days. And it works. He actually shreds the ticket, which I thought was a stunt strictly for movies. My meter man hero saves me $90 and tells me to go straight to the DMV, which I do. But before I glorify his act of kindness too much, I should point out he was driving around neighborhood streets looking for expired tags on the day of expiration.

The second unexpected gesture happened just the other day as I was walking a block or so from my car to Fedex, wrangling two heavy boxes that were tall enough that I had to lean around them to see. Most passer-byers looked at me amusingly, as if they were reminded of the fat mouse Gus Gus carrying his leaning tower of corn kernels. But just as disaster was about to strike- me precariously balancing the boxes on one propped up knee as I tried to pull open the heavy double doors- a meter man comes jogging up to help me. I was glad of his assistance, and he even insisted on opening the second set of doors. But then things got a little awkward as he unintentionally followed me into the store and soon realized he was out of his natural element, no expired meters in sight. He nervously backed out through both sets of doors and disappeared around the corner, off to ruin the days of countless citizens.

And here's a clip from Cindrillion. Mice + French Singing = Adorable.