bugs in the system

Summer is attacking us in the kitchen. We've been invaded, simultaneously, by not one but two species of insect: fruit flies and pantry moths. The former prefers the fruit peels in the compost and the half tomato on the counter to our traps (despite our efforts to chase them and force them into the trap's tiny holes), and the latter has been quietly feasting and raising families on the stale cereal and pancake mix left behind by our almost-departed roommate. Clearly, the answer is a concerted campaign of cleanliness and indeed sterilization! ... but that's so much work. We made a fair start on restoring the entire kitchen to a state of rational organization this afternoon, but much more work remains before we can begin to take our food-preparation spaces back from the bugs.

a compost conundrum

I have no problem slicing or peeling vegetables and handling the slices and peels, nor do I object at all to digging in the finished compost by hand. Why, then, am I so sqeamish about cleaning out the compost crock? Because it's super disgusting, for one thing! Still, it must be done to combat the bugs. The war goes on!

200 channels and nothing but cats

The future is here, today! Or a couple days ago, actually, when we ditched our cable tv connection and replaced it with television signals that come into our house in the form of light. We switched to fiber-optic for internet a while ago, but it took Verizon a long time to get their tv business set up in town; now that they did we were happy to complete the Verizon set, more than double our channel set, and halve our tv bill. Plus we get a DVR!

However, the addition of all the new channels does not mean that, at any given time, there is more likely to be something on that we're willing to watch. In fact, it's almost more depressing to not be able to find anything good in 200 channels than it was in 70; the depravity of human existence is all the more stark, I think. I had high hopes of something called "Fox Soccer Channel", but it turns out they mostly show the Sky equivalent of Sports Center and games that were recorded several months ago. Many sports are silly to watch in any form other than live, and soccer is the silliest.

Still, there's the DVR, so at least we can watch our recorded copy of High School Musical when we get really bored. The story is even more embarrassing when you watch the beginning! Our situation brings to mind one of my favorite all-time quotes, which I read on Slashdot many years ago: "TV is still a cultural wasteland, but watching via Tivo is like sailing over the wasteland in a way cool hovercraft!" Of course, we're not quite cool enough for a proper Tivo, but the sentiments are similar.


home theater invasion

Our neighbors across the street put on a big addition sometime in the last year or so, more than doubling the size of their existing dwelling. All that new space was useless, however, up to last week, when they became the proud owner of a giant flat-screen tv and five-foot-high home theater speakers to match. How do we know about these new acquisitions? Well, we did see the boxes in their trash, which helped with the specifics, but that wasn't necessary. Indeed, on movie nights it's apparent even from across the street that they're pulling some major wattage, or ampage or something, over there; we can both see and hear the effect. It's fairly impressive! Especially the sound, which rattles our floor during the explosions. And this isn't Arlington either, where we could throw something out the window and hit our neighbor's house—we're out in the country here! Those towers have to be 80 or 90 feet away, and we can still hear every gun shot and car crash like it was... um, somewhat closer than 80 or 90 feet. It's loud, you see.

that sweet music

Saturday night we were at a party that involved—at least for the male party-goers—playing games on the X-Box, first Halo 2 and then some sort of rally racing game. I had my usual poor results in the Halo, somehow ending the game with -2 points, but much better at the other. So naturally when I got home (well, the next day) I had to bring out the true racing game, that classic of classics, MarioKart 64 (well, I suppose the original MarioKart would be even more classic, but you can't have everything). It was every bit as good as I remembered. Unfortunately, it means Leah has had to put up with the sound, which she has complained of before, but I think she can forgive me. She understands, I think, the allure the game holds for me. Now if only that allure were catching.... She did play a couple games with me, for which I am grateful indeed, but I can't expect from her the same level of dedication I showed, myself, when I put off doing housework to play "just one more game."

entertainment tonight (and yesterday, and...)

It seems like people's attention spans must be getting shorter and shorter, because merchants and overseers of public spaces increasingly see the need to provide additional entertainment options beyond, you know, walking and looking around. Take the local mall, for instance. You expect that when people go to the mall they have a certain purpose in mind: if they aren't looking to buy any particular product, than at least they have set our to enjoy the delightful atmosphere of commerce and teenage girls with unique views on what is appropriate to wear in public. So you wouldn't think that they would need to watch tv as they strolled the concourse, but nevertheless someone at Simon Malls Inc felt the need to hang flat-screen sets from the ceiling every dozen yards or so for the length of the mall. And they don't even show any good shows, either! Just taped 30-second segments of Good Morning America and Dr. Phil. Don't they even get cable?!

Clearly, it's a response to the omnipresence of tvs in our lives. They figured that if, in the battle for your entertainment minute, they wanted to compete with the DVD player in the back of your SUV, they needed to throw in a little video of their own. The gas station is trying too, but they're a little behind the times: all they can manage is canned music, interrupted with ads for the very business at which you're already filling your tank. Heaven forbid anyone actually takes a moments to reflect on life's finer things while pumping gas or exploring the halls of commerce.


way to go, Levis corp

I am watching a documentary on the Logo network about gender identification, when a familiar Levis commercial comes on the TV. You know, the one with the Italian guy pulling up his pants but when he does so a phone booth comes through the floor with a hot girl in it? (i know, right, it doesn't make any sense to begin with.) Anyway, I'm not really paying attention to the commercial, until Dan sits down next to me and says, "Is that another guy? Are they gonna do it?" Sure enough, the commercial had been adapted to feature a sexy man in an elevator appearing in Italian man's bedroom. Then they smile at each other and walk off together.
"I love the gay channel," I said.

High School Musical 2

Wow. How can i describe this horrible monstrosity of shopertainment? With the pop tart songs written by committee, or possibly a malevolent robot? And hair color extremes which rival the cartoon series Doug?

I guess Dan said it best during the jackson-esque number when our hero twirls around in a tight black T-shirt and his extra-blue contac lenses. To quote my husband, "This movie is full of gay."

Also, when the mean hotel manager told the employees that they can't do their long-rehearsed group dance number at the end of summer country club talent show, i turned to Dan and said, "NOBODY PUTS BABY IN A CORNER!!!" And Dan was like, "What? Who's Baby?" Oh, i guess it still has to be fresh for someone.

it was Disney's fault!

I haven't written in some time, and it was only in part because I was in shock by the incredible awfulness of High School Musical 2. It was so bad that it even drove from my mind any affection I had previously harbored for the original installment. Gah. Terrible.

Unfortunately Leah—who watched the whole thing at least once, in contrast to my 15 minutes total of viewership—keeps singing "I Want Fabulous", so I keep getting it stuck in my head. That and the summer song that starts off the cavalcade of truly bad television.

The Boston Globe suggests that the same thing may happen to the second season of Heroes, which is due to start up soon. Only that case I expect there would be less awful dancing. Oh, the awful dancing.


doesn't suit me

Yesterday the Globe had some things about the new trends in men's suits. You know what the problem is with men's suits, with the state of men's suits today? It's that jackets with narrower lapels are being labeled a major design innovation. Yes, they're still exactly the same length. Yes, they're still all blue, black, or gray. Yes, each of them looks pretty much like any other. But they have narrow lapels! And even greater departures lie in store: we're told that, next season, some jackets may have only one button instead of two or three. Groundbreaking.

I was interested because I'm trying to do my back-to-school shopping so I can look respectable for the kiddies (and more importantly for the administrators!) and there isn't a great deal of awesome sartorial choice available. Not that I was shopping for suits, of course. But while the drab sameness is worst at the highest levels of the men's garment trade, it reaches down even into the ranks of slacks and sweater-vests. Men are, apparently, deeply conservative. All of us. Including the designers. O where are our teal and yellow stripey waistcoats?!


I had a notion that going back to work/school after the long summer break would inspire me to become more coolly efficient in my chores around the home, but there is clearly a flaw in the plan. As it happens, knowing that I had to go in to the classroom for a mere three hours this afternoon so paralyzed me that I couldn't do anything at all productive before I went. And then of course when I came home, I had to sit around for a while to recover! Maybe I'll get back into the swing of things in a bit.

local production

It's no Santa Monica market, but we do have our own little farmers market around here that I've been attending faithfully each week. It's a different feel: the much smaller number of vendors is balanced by the more human scale, and the better music. We know people around here too, so every time we go we end up chatting with someone or other. The problem with market farming in New England, however, is that most of the farmers can grow at their farms no more than we can grow in our own garden. When the market is at its peak, then, we are not particularly looking for squashes, cucumbers, or lettuces. No thanks, we're good. On the other hand, the farmers have more room for delicious fruits than we do, and we much appreciate those. And of course they can extend their season a few weeks or months on either side of ours, so we'll happily buy their wares then.

The Globe is very in to the farmers market phenomenon, publishing a couple stories a week about the various markets around the Boston area. Local food is not only tasty, it's trendy too!


fashion forward

I was just talking about men's fashions, and someone's alread gone and done something about them! How nice! Admittedly, with their Black Fleece collection Brooks Brothers has pretty much just dredged up a variety of looks from the past and glommed them together in a way that sometimes works and sometimes doesn't, but isn't that all we have to hope for in these post-modern days of ours? It's a step forward, certainly.

Now if only I could afford a $700 pair of trousers...