Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Welcome To My Nightmare

or, Welcome To My Fat, Old Halloween.

1. I went to the tailor to get a couple of pairs of pants hemmed. They were too tight. They had been fine when I bought them. LAST WEEK.

2. The girl who went into the store in front of me was trick-or-treating. I was buying cat food.

3. There are two schools behind my office. Notes on the kids' costumes:

a. Listen, kid - have some pride, already. When I was your age, I had to have a complete costume, with accessories. You have a cape, and... that's it. Just a cape. Either wear a costume or don't, is what I'm saying.

b. Jesus on a Luge, how are all the parents in NYC allowing their 14 year olds to go out in the skimpiest ho-bag costumes ever? Note: if your little girl's Halloween costume came from Frederick's of Hollywood, SEND IT BACK.

c. OK, props to the tall, gangly young man in the curly blonde wig. I'm not sure who or what he was supposed to be, but he was in drag, fishnets and old-school rollerskates, and he was fierce. That's good enough for me.

& d. Dang, even the kids who really worked on their costumes look... like playing little kids. Remember when you were a kid, and when you put on your costume you thought it was so convincing that other people actually thought you were scary/adult/Conan the Barbarian? Well, not so much. The illusion is lost. Sigh.

4. My girlfriend went home early feeling gross and I want to go home to bed. Also, I think my kidney hurts.

Well, at least no ghosts, so far.

Happy Halloween. Bah, humbug.

The Haunted House of Homosexual Horror!!!

It’s All Hallow’s Eve, and thanks to some inspiration from FN, I’ve decided to share one last personal ghost story with you. So turn off the lights, put on some Bach organ fugues, and let’s get this party started…

When I was about 17, I took a ride with some friends to the town of New Brunswick, NJ, to meet up with some people I didn’t know who were sharing a house there. I don’t remember the purpose of the visit – I think perhaps one of my friends had a romantic interest in one of the Rutgers boys there, or somebody wanted to score some pot. Anyhow, we parked the car and made our way to the house.

The street was nothing fancy – just your standard New Jersey small city neighbourhood feel, with older, small suburban-style houses closer together than in the actual suburbs. As we approached the house in question and started up the front path, however, a sudden feeling of acute uneasiness gripped me, and I found myself stopped in my tracks. I looked around; the day was fine, the lawn was green, the house was clean if a bit careworn. Yet, when my gaze traveled up the front steps and settled on the door, I found myself seized with inexplicable fright.

By this point, my friends were knocking on the door, then pausing to turn around and ask what was keeping me. I distinctly remember saying “I feel weird; something is wrong, guys. I don’t know what it is, but I do not want to go in that door.” They questioned me a bit, but I could give no other explanation but that something just felt bad and wrong about the place. The door had an unusual, round, porthole-like window, but other than that, appeared to be like any other door. We went back on forth on this for a minute, until they began to tease me, as I’d already been annoying them with an adolescent bad mood on the way. One of the resident boys answered the door then, and I had no choice but to push myself to enter, all covered with gooseflesh, even though my brain was telling me to ask for the car keys so I could circle the block – anything but enter that door.

Still, we went in without incident, and after going upstairs to the second floor and a bit of conversation, my friends finally joked about how I’d had some weird episode and didn’t want to come in the house. The boy who lived there was instantly intrigued, and began to ask me what I’d felt. All I could say was what I’d already said – that I didn’t like that door, it felt forbidding, somehow – and, to be frank, I wasn’t thrilled about the front hall and stairway, either. It was then that things got even stranger. “No way,” the boy said, “that’s so weird that you said that, because we all think that door is haunted.”

It took a minute of bemused questioning from our group to get the story. Apparently, before the group of students had rented or bought the house, the residents had been a gay male couple. Details were sparse, but apparently one night, after weeks of constant arguing and a late returns, one of the lovers opened the front door to the other and killed him on the spot, then killed himself. Since then, the residents could not keep the door locked or unlocked. They would lock it securely at night, only to find it gaping open in the wee hours, or leave it standing open, run to the car for groceries and return to find it closed and bolted, with no one else in the house. There was a good reason I’d felt weird about that door: the ghost of the murderer and/or murdered lurked right there!


Well, of course, I did not want to believe this. I thought they had to be putting me on. “Very funny,” I answered, but the boy was insistent. “C’mon, we’ll ask my roommates,” he urged, dragging me down to the first floor. It was there that two other roommates, who had not been privy to any of the previous conversation were playing video games. “Hey,” the boy asked them, “guess what? She was afraid to come in the door earlier, and said it gave her a bad feeling!” Again, I got a chorus of “no way”s. “Tell her what happened,” the boy prodded, and the next thing you know, the other roommates, who could not possibly have heard the story he told me, repeated the exact same story.


You can best believe I got the hell out of there as quick as I could, despite them telling me that nothing more sinister had ever happened there, save little things going missing and a few lights being turned on and off. That was enough for me, and my friends, after they’d paid their respects and gotten whatever they came for, were pretty freaked out as well. There was a lot of nervous laughter, and peering at me out of the corner of their eyes on the ride back, like I was different. Later, I would find out just how I might turn this unexpected ability to discern lingering energies and presences on and off, but for then, I just wanted to forget it, even though I never would…

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Weekend Round-Up

Is it just me, or is everyone exhausted? You’d think with Falling-back, and all, we’d be caught up on sleep. Still, whether it’s the changing weather or the shorter days, I and everyone I know seems weary of late.

After the wedding-related hijinks in the ATL, night of the long knives at work and emotionally draining visit with J last week, I was so tuckered out I had to take Friday off and rest. Well, mostly rest, but I had to do stuff for work, too. Damn them.

Later that night we went to the annual Halloween thingamajig at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. They decorated the place up with fog and spooky lights, showed Nosferatu with accompaniment by an organ (I don’t think it was the big pipe organ, as last I heard it was still being repaired after the big fire, but whatever it was it sounded great playing Bach’s Tocatta & Fugue in D Minor), and had the annual “Procession of Ghouls”. My camera batteries were dying, but I snapped a few pics. This, combined with the week’s candy corn and watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown made me feel like I had actually done something festive for Hallloween, to my satisfaction.

Mrs. Nator & I were actually pleased when we received a call saying that our leaf-peeping cruise up the Hudson river was postponed from Saturday. This was because, one, we were so friggin’ tired and two, it was raining with wind gusts of 50 mph. The only leaves we might see in that weather from a boat would be whipping past us or on the bottom of the river with our cold, drowned corpses. No, thanks – we’ll do it next weekend!

Had a nice conversation with my father, until he told me that his wife has been diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. That’s a lung disease that they basically have no clue how you get or what to do about it. It involves the lungs becoming fibrous and stiff – losing elasticity and thus function. There’s no known effective treatment and prognoses vary widely, although the average survival period without lung transplant is thought to be around 5-8 years. Being 60-plus years of age, I’m thinking my father’s wife will not be high on any transplant lists.




After that I felt more tired and cranky. Brewed up some mulled cider and lugged it and a pumpkin to some friends’ Halloweeny brunchy-thing. Many in that crowd have toddlers and babes, and some were in costume, which was adorable. Took some photos there, too, but haven't uploaded them. Ate waaaay too much food, and everyone got too damn tired to carve pumpkins, loaded down with all those nummies and diaper bags. Now I’ve got a perfectly shaped pumpkin at home, and I’m trying to decided if I want to carve it Jack'o-stylee after all or sacrifice it to the Pie Gods. And bread and soup gods. It’s a big pumpkin.

Mmmm… pie.

Grumbled over TiVo messing up my football games, watched Jarhead and went to bed a bit depressed afterwards - that was it. Work is still weird, today. Mrs. Nator & I still avoided going to the gym and are tired. I don’t know if I want to go to my neighbourhood parade tomorrow night and take photos or if I am too old, tired and grouchy. We shall see.

Tell me how your weekend was. Also, tell me what I should do with my life. I need a new direction. One with more lounging and vacations. And cats.

Happy Monday.

Friday, October 27, 2006


When I was a teenager, I watched my stepfather die from cancer. In actuality, I spent a lot of time avoiding watching him die from cancer, as his diagnosis and my move off to college happened at around the same period. I spent my time doing school work, working several jobs and clubbing all night during the heyday of the Tunnel and Limelight. I rarely came home, and when I did I spent a lot of time sleeping and just avoiding interacting or feeling too much. Over time, each trip I made home he looked worse. I didn't know what to say to him, how to act, what to think, so I shut down. The truth was, when it was announced to the family that he had cancer, everyone else immediately began insisting he'd beat it and discussing possible treatments. For me, however, with the word the sound of a death knell tolled in my brain. I never had any hope.

A lot of this time is very hazy in my memory. Sure, I was in a whirl of a new environment, studies, odd hours of work, adolescent hormones, discovering my sexuality and way, way too many drugs. But mostly I think I was getting through things and allowing my brain to erase them or build walls around them thereafter. It's a coping technique that started early in my childhood, and there are vast tracts of my life that I simply cannot recall, unless strongly prompted. However, there are always things that stick out and persist in my mind's eye. In this case, whenever I remember my stepfather, I remember two images of him. One, him progressing slowly towards the bathroom with his equipment for his daily, lengthy coffee enemas - a treatment recommended by some naturopath in Germany he'd consulted- and two, him lying on his side on the couch, too thin with sagging skin, dead-eyed, his robe too large and falling open, watching television or watching me watching television or maybe watching nothing at all. Just sad and wasted and wasting away. Tired. Dying.

I can't tell you how angry this makes me. I am enraged that this is now my main memory of him. Yes, when I reminisce, I can recall him when healthy and strong, the stubborn, abrasive, incredibly intelligent, loving, alcoholic, damaged person that he was. But, this picture always comes first. And I feel it taints everything.

I am also angry at myself. Yes, our relationship was complicated, and at times I could barely stand the man. But I shut myself down when he was dying, and avoided him. I can't even remember exactly how I acted, but it was not in the supportive manner I retroactively expect of myself. I try to forgive myself for being a wounded, confused teenager, who'd already decided to expect the worst from life, and thus had begun mourning and detaching myself from him at the moment of his diagnosis. Still, I wish I could have been better, I wish I could have been kinder, and I wish I'd had or given myself the chance to resolve or understand the man and our relationship more before it was too late.

Last night, I spent the evening with some friends visiting our friend J. J was diagnosed with cancer some time ago, and after a long period of unsuccessful treatment, she is now at home receiving hospice care, with no hope of recovery.

In all honesty, I had been avoiding J since her diagnosis. Although I'd known her for around a decade, we had never been truly close. She had once dated a good friend of mine, a roommate, and I got to know her over time through that and other group interactions, like the documentary another friend filmed mostly in my apartment that featured us both. Still, I never really called her just to talk or do things together. I would just hang out with her in groups, until over time we began to move in different circles, and I only rarely heard second-hand about one or another occurrence in her life. So, whereas I knew her to some extent and thought her to be a kind, fun, life-loving, inquisitive and talented person, her diagnosis stymied me. How do you talk with someone you don't know well about such an important, intimate, terrifying surprise in her life? Moreover, given my experience with my stepfather and my pessimistic, fucked-up emotional issues around cancer and the nature of life, how could I possibly be supportive, say the right thing, even hold myself together in her presence? I didn't think I could, so I, sometimes consciously and sometimes not, blocked out the situation and hid.

I don't know why I finally decided to visit her last night. Possibly because time seems to be growing much shorter for her now, and who knows how many opportunities there will be. Certainly because friends had been visiting her more often, and, knowing that she'd like to see us all but some of us were having difficulty feeling strong enough to go alone, a group pizza dinner was coordinated. And maybe there is a small part of me that has grown up since my stepfather's passing and doesn't want to make the same mistakes, to disconnect myself again. I'd like to think so. I don't know.

I had a mini stress attack before I entered, but I made it in. J was, as I'd feared and expected, looking terrible. In a wheelchair, lost hair, painfully thin in most places and oddly swollen in others. Her eyesight is seriously deteriorated, her hearing a bit off, her speech low and slurred. Her poor, small, bare feet poked out from beneath a blanket, looking oddly purplish and burned or frostbitten, probably from the chemo and radiation. She can use one arm. She doesn't talk or eat much. She can't watch TV and she doesn't want books on tape. Her health care aide and her mother massage and feed her. She is around my age, but she looks like the 90-something year old residents of my grandmother-in-law's nursing home. Frail, pained, exhausted, oddly soft and tender.

But she's still J. She still insisted on paying for the food for everyone, because she loves doing nice things for her friends, and hates accepting gifts or handouts. She still likes to laugh, painfully, at silly things, and thinks some of us are crazy. She still takes moments to remember kind things about everyone and say them out loud sincerely. She said nice things about me. I don't feel I deserve them.

I am glad I went. Glad I saw her, got to share some time with her, make her chuckle. Glad I didn't shrink away and avoid feeling and act like an ass. Afraid I did or said something wrong. Outraged at it all, and sad... so sad for her, for us, for her family. So angry and sad that I don't understand death or suffering or life, and that now, when I think of her, this will be the image I have. Not her as a vital, tender hearted, energetic firecracker of a woman who always seemed younger than her years, but this: the wasted body, the hurt, the unfair, inexplicable, surreal mutation of who she is on the inside showing out. The same as it was with my stepfather.

There is no "right" way to deal with all this. No way not to be awkward in some way, stuck in one's own head. But I'm trying. I hope to visit her again. I don't want to see her like this. I don't want to cry and feel that the world is a cold place. I don't want her to die. But I want to know her, to honour her, to be something of a friend. I wish I could save her and protect her. It's so not fair.

I love you, J.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bride of Son of The Definitive Halloween Candy List

Well, it's that time of year. Time to dust off - or shall we say, re-animate - the old Halloween candy list. I've already eaten more candy corn than I actually wanted this year, and I'm of an age where, although I still love Reese peanut butter cups, eating one does not induce the release of chemicals similar to an orgasm in my brain. Come to think of it, maybe adult orgasms are the trade off God gives us for the loss of childhood candy love. Man, that's deep.

Anyway, all that said, I still remember these candies fondly. This list features the major candy food groups of my youth, so your definitive list may vary depending on your age and where you grew up. What would you add or remove?

$100,000 Bar Chewy caramel, milk chocolate and crispy crunchies. Later changed to "100 Grand," which annoyed me, 'cause I liked the old jingle.

3 Musketeers Puffy nougat covered in milk chocolate. Light and sweet. The major appeal for me was the cool Musketeers emblem. I always wanted to be a Musketeer.

5th Avenue Probably my favourite of the crunchy peanut stuff in chocolate variety, just because of the swank name and wrapper design.

Almond Joy & Mounds Because sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't! Have I mentioned I really dig coconut?

Apple Watch out for razor blades!

Astro Pops I know a kid on Gun Hill Road who got his eye put out by one of those things!

Atomic Fire Balls The classic hot cinnamon ball of the time. Only a quick burn before you got to the sweet part.

Bar None bar A brief-lived chocolate, wafer and nut bar. Pretty good.

Baby Ruth Nuts, caramel and chocolate, in a fetching red-white-and-blue wrapper. The most interesting thing about this candy bar is the controversy over its name.

Bazooka gum Rock hard and covered in powder, an American classic. Came with cartoon strips that were never funny, and offers for items in exchange for 7 bajillion wrappers. Did anyone ever send in for those things?

BB Bat Hard taffy on a stick, like a fruity Sugar Daddy. Acceptable.

Beeman's gum (Blackjack, Clove & regular) VERY rare in my era of Trick-or-Treating but classic. Either you love 'em or you hate 'em. I fall on the loving side.

Big League Chew "The Original Tobacco style Bubble Gum!" Shredded gum in a pouch originally invented to turn ballplayers off from tobacco, but actually a great way to train your kids for the weed and the throat cancer. The best part of this was the ad campaign of ball players playing ball and blowing huge bubbles, and the drawings on the pouches that looked like they were by one of the Mad magazine illustrators.

Bit O Honey Almond bits blended into a honey flavored taffy. A danger to your fillings but sooooo addictive! If you were lucky enough to get a whole bar of these divided by the distinctive interwoven wax paper, you might try to save some for later - but always fail.

Blow Pops The classic sugary bubble gum inside a lollipop. A bit sweet for me, but fondly remembered.

Bonkers Your basic extremely artificial "fruit chew". Like Starbursts, but cheaper and waxier.

Boston Baked Beans Mere candy coated peanuts, yet somehow better than the sum of their parts. The colonial brick-style packaging whispered of patriotism in the bicentennial era. Seriously awesome.

Bottle Caps Sugar candy shaped like bottle caps. Some people loved 'em. To me? No big whoop.

Bubble Gum Cigars Another training device for smokers, these were generally made of low-class gum, although the banana variety was intriguing. Chocolate cigars also existed, but were rarer in Trick-or-Treat bags.

Bubble Yum One of the many of the multi-variety gums that came out during the 80s bubble-blowing-contest craze. Innocent times, man. Probably my favourite of the type.

Bubblicious Another of the big bubble gums.

Butterfinger A version of the crunchy peanut bar covered in chocolate. A bit crisper and sweeter than some of the others. Maybe too much so for me.

Butterscotch An olde-timey favourite, whether in disks, rectangles, balls or squares.

Candy Buttons Dots Oh, yeeaaahhh! Suckin' the nasty cardboard-y sugar from the soggy paper! Rock the f**k ON!

Candy & Bubble Gum Cigarettes Came in all different kinds of packaging designed to look like popular deathstick brands. Tasted like crap, but they made you look too cool and grown-up to resist.

Candy Corn Dare I say it? THE ULTIMATE HALLOWEEN CANDY. Brach's is the hands-down favourite version, made softer and richer with a touch of honey. "Indian" candy corn and even pumpkin and other novelty shapes are acceptable for kitsch value, but the standard orange, yellow and white type is still number one. Which section of each kernel do you eat first?

Candy Necklaces and Bracelets The number one way to be stylin' AND chip-toothed.

Charleston Chew Sort of a taffy-ish nougat in vanilla, chocolate or strawberry, covered in chocolate. They were a favourite with my older siblings, especially frozen into cement-like blocks. Not high on my list back then, but bring some nostalgia.

Charms Square hard fruit candies. Whatever. Good name, though.

Cherry Clan Ooh, me so racist! Later renamed to "Cherryheads" to go with the other varieties in the Lemonhead family, but who can forget the slanty eyed-little buggers in straw coolie hats? I think I was horrified even then.

Chiclets The name and advertising made them seem so fun, but really? Just little rectangles of hard gum. What a disappointment.

Chick-O-Sticks Apparently, these were quite popular with some people. I don't know if I ever ate one, as the once or twice I got one I mistakenly took it for a cylindrical form of Chicken-in-a-Biskit and traded them off.

Chocodiles Yes, one did occasionally get snack cakes in one's treat bag (or jack-o-lantern shaped plastic bucket, as the case may be), and if one did, it was most likely these, due to their popularity and the fact that they came in single packets. Basically a Twinkie covered in chocolate, but definitely a product kids of my generation were screaming for after seeing the lovable cartoon crocodile mascot, "Chauncey."

Choward's Violet gum and candies Not common in trick-or-treat sacks but a classic nonetheless. Taste like that perfume you were given as a kid. No, not the Love's Baby Soft, the Violet! Duh.

Chuckles Your standard sugar coated jelly-gum drops. Bleah.

Chunky Ah, yes. Your basic huge block of chocolate. My favourite was the raisin and nut variety. Open Wide For Chunky!

Circus Peanuts Evil. EEEEE-VIIIILLLLL!!!

Clark Bar Another one in the vein of 5th Avenue and Butterfinger. I believe this is the earliest version, though. Nice wrapper.

Cow Tails I didn't get many of these, but they are basically a long version of the Goetze's Caramel Creams. I never was sure whether I found the name attractive or off-putting.

Cracker Jack Not usually found in treat bags as the boxes were pretty big, but OH BOY if you got one! Slightly over-caramelized sugar on popcorn with peanuts, AND a surprise treat with a joke or riddle. Too bad the surprises have been getting lamer and lamer as time goes by.

Dentyne What the…? You've been given adult cinnamon gum! KAAAAHHHHHNNN!!!

Dots Another gum drop incarnation of the slightly firmer type. Meh.

Dubble Bubble Remember when you used to, like, blow a big bubble? And then, no wait, you would, like, blow ANOTHER big bubble INSIDE of that one? Yeah. You could do it with any other bubble gum, too.

Dum Dum Pops Does it get any more iconic? Root Beer and cream soda flavours were high on my list, but who could resist the mysterious "?" flavour?

Freshen Up A gum with a syrupy liquid inside. The commercials made it look like a huge burst of flavour. Not so much.

Fruit Stripe Gum Yipes, stripes! It's Fruit Stripe gum!! SOOOO awesome. That zebra! Those stripes! That strikingly tart-sweet fake fruit flavour that fades in seconds! And later on it came with temporary tattoos?! Bow before their majesty.

Garbage Pail Candy Hard, sour candy shaped like various pieces of garbage that came in a small replica of a garbage can. Dig it.Not to be confused with…

Garbage Pail Kids Candy A chewy candy that came with a card featuring one of the popular 80s gross-out cartoon characters, the Garbage Pail Kids. These kids were a phenomenon born from an unholy union of Rat Fink and Cabbage Patch Dolls. Not my cup of tea, but very popular.
Note: and yes, there was a Garbage Pail Kids movie.

GatorGum Gum made to taste like Gatorade. Hmm. Do I hate it, or do I love it? Well, I'll keep trying it to make up my mind.

Gobstopper Otherwise known as the Everlasting Gobstopper. Balls made up of layers of candy that change colours AND flavours as you suck them away. Pure genius!

Goetze's Caramel Creams Now this is old school, son. A little carboard-y, a lot sweet, 100% memory lane.

Goldenberg's Peanut Chews I think I just had an orgasm. Again, like the caramel creams, a bit oddly carboard-y, but rich and addictive. Slightly bitter dark chocolate surrounding a fudgy chopped peanut filling. And who else has the guts to include a name like "Goldenberg" in their candy's moniker?
NB: Since the original writing of this list it has come to my attention that the Goldenberg company has changed the old, familiar packaging to a new, "playful" version. I am not amused. What's next, "New" Coke? Oh, wait a minute...

Goobers Chocolate covered peanuts. Better known as movie snacks. 'nuff said.

Good & Fruity Cylindrical fruit gummi chews with a resistant coating. See Mike & Ikes. Meh.

Good & Plenty Charlie says: Love my Good & Plenty! The much loved licorice in snazzy white and pink candy coating. Not the most decadent of candies, but very classy.

Gummi Bears The first of the multi-flavour gummi incarnations. At one time, they were positively ubiquitous.

Gummi Worms A later gummi item. Softer and more popular amongst some kids due to the gross-out factor. Gummi continued to spawn umpteenthousand varities, with no doubt some gummi gonads in there somewhere.

Heath Bar A nut toffee bar with a slightly burnt taste, covered in chocolate. A more adult item, which made one feel classy because it contained the word "English" in the description.

Hershey's varieties (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, Mr. Goodbar, Krackel & various Kisses) Do I really need to elaborate, here? Standard fare. Big points for the special dark and Mr. Goodbars, especially since your friend at school told you that Mr. Goodbar was named after a dirty movie.

Hot Tamales Hot cinnamon version of Ike & Mikes… or is that Good & Fruity?

Hubba Bubba Another big-bubble gum, this time with cowboys in the commercials. I do think this one had the most flavours, though.

Ice Cubes Basically a cube of smooth, decent chocolate. Hmm.

Jaw Breakers Ow! OwOwOW! I bit through it!

Jelly Bellies jelly beans A bit more of an Easter snack, but well loved for its many varieties, despite the fact that it got tied in with Ronald Reagan, somehow.

Jelly Rings Ew.

Jolly Ranchers You know you traded them at school. What beats watermelon? Sour apple, my friend. Sour apple.

Junior Mints More movie oriented, but enjoyed in your treat box.(Did that just sound dirty?)

Jujubes A firm fruit gum drop.

Jujyfruits <Coach Z voice> Jeeorrgyfruits! </Coach Z voice> A firm fruit gum drop, but I think shaped like fruits. I don't know, I always traded 'em.

Kit Kat Gimme a break! Wafers and milk chocolate. Not high up there, but the chocolate was deceptively good.

Kits Taffy Weird little low-quality taffy bits. Why did we love them so?

Laffy Taffy Kicks Kits' butt, if just for the name alone. Not to mention the greater size.

Lemonheads (+Grapeheads and Appleheads) A series of slightly sour hard sucker candies. Lemonheads was the first and most popular.

Lifesavers Oh, you know. The only cool part was when you got something like Wint-O-Green so you could try to make sparks in your mouth or Butter Rum so you could think "Oooh, I'm eating RUM and my parents don't know it!"

Lifesaver Lollipops Do they still make these? Remember when they came in swirled flavours? Good times. The Crème Savers are just not the same. Bring them back. And while you're at it, where the hell are the Pudding Pops?!

Lik-M-Aid Wait, you get a stick of sugar, and you get to cover it in spit and then dunk into different varieties of sweet-sour powder? I am SO THERE.

M&Ms (plain and peanut) Old faithful. You know 'em. But remember when they were tan and not red?

Mallow Cup Truly seems like a candy Homer Simpson would have invented.

Marathon 1 inch by 8 inches of braided caramel covered with milk chocolate. Delicious, but discontinued. Now available as the "Curly Wurly." Who thought that one up?

Mars Bars Kind of like a milky way with almonds. Originally more often found in the UK.

Mary Janes Most people hated them, but I loved them. That peanutty taffy goodness! That coy, come-hither look on the little girl's face! Definitely a treat for a developing lesbian.

Melster Peanut Butter Kisses Much like Mary Janes, but with no name on 'em. Oh, come on, you remember them. They came in orange waxy twisted wrappers. Yes, they had a name. Yes, usually old people gave them out. Remember now?

Mike & Ike See Good & Fruity.

Milk Duds Chocolate sacs filled with milky caramel goodness! What's not to love?
(Shut up, Bunche.)

Milky Way You got your nougat, your caramel and your chocolate. Next.

Necco Wafers Why? Why on God's green Earth are these so beloved? I would have used them as poker chips, if they didn't all break in the bottom of my bag.

Neopolitan Coconut candies I know, ew. But, kinda yum, too.

Nerds A box with two separated flavours and some cute little cartoons really sold this one. Admit it - you loved 'em.

Nestlé Crunch (Yawn.) Moving along…

Now and Laters Eat some now and save some for later? Yeah, right. These rocked with a severe righteousness. Also, you could build up a little business of selling off the singles from the packs at a ridiculous markup to desperate kids in the cafeteria. What? No, I didn't end up a Wall Street trader…

Oh, Henry! Kind of like a Goldenberg's Peanut Chew, but bigger, sweeter and softer. Another one that's had some controversy over it's name.

Palmer's Chocolates You know the ones. Those little balls or discs covered in brightly decorated seasonal foil wrappers. You open them up and… the chocolate is seriously foul. They also made those chocolate footballs - you know, the ones that always ended up at the bottom of the bag as the dregs? I hear Palmer's has improved a lot since back then, but for now all ridiculously bad and disappointing off-brand chocolates will retain the name "Palmer's" in my mind.

Pay Day Gotta love me some peanuts. Of course, you can simulate these with a bowl of candy corn mixed with Planter's.


Planter's Peanut Bar Your basic very peanutty brittle thingy. Satisfying.

Pop Rocks Yes, they rocked. No, Mikey didn't die by eating them with Coke. Haven't you watched VH1?

Push Pops I don't know. These seem dangerous, somehow.

Rain-Blo Gum Er. Kinda lame hollow gumballs. Okay.

Raisinets Oh, you know.

Raisins Just... no.

Razzles "…first it's a candy and then it's a gum!" Unfortunately, the whole time it sucks.

Red Vines/Switzer's/Twizzlers Everybody has their favourite version of these, but they're basically red fruity "licorice". Only good in a pinch, as far as I'm concerned.

Reese's Peanut Butter CupsALL HAIL THE REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER CUP!!! So simple yet so perfect in it's salty sweet-ness, this was the number one sought-after item in my treat bucket. WOE BE TO THE MAN WHO EATS MY PEANUT BUTTER CUPS! I HAVE SPOKEN!

Reese's Pieces E.T…. phone home…
I'm sure Mars, Inc is still kicking themselves.

Reggie Bar Only memorable for having been named for Reggie Jackson.

Ring Pops Candy Bling!

Rolo You can roll a Rolo to your pal… but why would you? Save them all for yourself.

Root Beer Barrels Me and pappy used to suck 'em on th' porch at th' gen'ral store. Pappy liked 'em cause he didn't have no teeth.

Runts What was so good about pressed candy shaped like fruits? I don't know, but didn't you always save your favourite fruits for last?

Sixlets Gum Kind of like Rain-Blo but a bit better, and more attractively packaged, 'cause… there were six.

Skor Bar Another classy toffee bar variety, but this time with a harder butter toffee. And yes, I did know a girl who went on a Skor Bar diet in High School.

Sky Bar This candy bar is divided into four sections with four different centers... caramel, vanilla, peanut and fudge covered in milk chocolate. Pretty awesome, but it would be better if the candy itself were of higher quality.

Smarties/Rockets Little rolls of pill-like sugar candies. A bit overrated, in my book, but much reminisced over in pop culture.

Smith Bros. Cough Drops What, you never got these as a treat from some cheap-ass jokester? Hey, they were really candy, anyway…

Snickers A Milky Way with peanuts. What will they think of next?

Snowcaps Nonpareils, mon ami. But of course.

Sour Patch Kids One of the first seriously sour candies. Frightening, yet compelling.

Squirrel Nut Zippers Another peanutty taffy thingy. Very popular in the South. Got a band named after 'em.

Squirt Like Freshen Up, but more hyped.

Starburst Probably the best known of the fruit taffy chews. Remember when they only came in the yellow wrapper variety?

Starlight peppermints Okay, whose freakin' grandma put these in here? No, I do not want fresh breath, it's HALLOWEEN for f**k's sake!

Sugar Babies Mini, even sugary-er Sugar Daddies. Wow. That's a lot of sugar.

Sugar Daddy A caramelly thing on a stick. You know.

Sugar Mama A caramelly thing on a stick. Covered in chocolate.
That's one sweet chocolate mama!

Swedish Fish Originally only in red, probably the first popular gummi animal. How… Nordic.

SweeTarts Like they say, sweet…and tart.

Tangy Taffy Another taffy, this time from Wonka.

Teaberry gum What the hell is a teaberry? I don't know. But I feel very sophisticated chewing this gum.

Tidal Wave Bubble Gum See Squirt and Freshen Up. Enough, already!

Toffifay Marketed as a premium chocolate, this one captured my snobby little heart with it's "European" flavoured advertisements. A nougat enrobed hazelnut topped with a dollop of chocolate and placed in a caramel cup, it even came in a gold plastic tart-pan setting. Niiiiiiiice.

Tootsie Flavor Rolls Tootsie rolls in different flavours?! Let me try that…

Tootsie Pop Mr. Turtle, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
I never made it without biting, ask Mr. Owl.
Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
Let's find out. One… Two-whoooo… Three. CRUNCH! Three.
How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? CRUNCH!
The world may never know.

P.S.: My favourite flavours are orange and chocolate.

Tootsie Roll "The world looks mighty good to me, 'cause tootsie rolls are all I see..."

Trident Gum What the hell are you, a dentist?! See Dentyne.

Twix & Peanut Butter Twix I just love me some Twix. They came a little late for my trick-or-treating, but I've gotta include them. A cookie covered by caramel and chocolate? Right on. The peanut butter version? Equally good. I tip my hat to you, Mars, Inc.

Wax Bottles, Lips, Fangs, Mustaches, Harmonicas, etc. Fangs for the memories...
Ok, seriously, can there be any doubt that the wax fangs were the best? Oh, sure the bottles had liquid in them and the harmonica could be played, but WAX FANGS? Ruled.

Werther’s candies Relatively high-quality butterscotches, toffees, and the much coveted Reisen chew. How European!

Whatchamacallit Another great marketing campaign for this one, a crunchy peanut crisp wafer with caramel and chocolate. I was very much into them for a while.

Whistle Pops Okay, sugar that makes a piercing noise, and you give it to children. There is a Satan.

Whoppers I loves me some malted milk. I just do.

Wrigley's gum (Juicy Fruit, Spearmint, Doublemint, Big Red) Juicy Fruit was the bigger winner in my book, even though it lost its flavour pretty fast. Big Red, however, was popular and benefitted from some good marketing, as did Doublemint. Who knew there were so many blandly attractive twins in the world?

York Peppermint Patties When I bite into a York Peppermint Patty, I get the sensation that my teeth are rotting out… but I like it!

Zagnut See Clark, 5th Avenue, Butterfinger, etc. This one did benefit from a cool name, though.

Zero Bar Caramel, peanut butter, almond nougat bar covered with white fudge. Honestly, I rarely saw these things, but they do strike me as a bit weird. Um, okay.

And that's it! 'til next, spooooky year! WoooooOOOOOOooooo!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Weird Shit Goin' Down

It seems that my new boss may (or may not) have been fired last night, but nobody's filling me in. Yikes. More later...

Update: Well. Even weirder. Later in the afternoon my now-former new boss' boss - the director of the department - called me in to the office. He reassured me that this was not about me, and I'm doing an excellent job. Today, however, was his last day.

Come again?

There followed a rant on how the new head of the organization was a damaged, damaged person who can never be satisfied, and how, after all the incredible progress in sales we've made in the last few months, working for him was like being in an abusive relationship. It wasn't clear if this meant the director had quit or been fired. But he was going.

Which leaves me in a different department from, but reporting to... my old boss, again. And we're reporting to... we're not sure.

Apparently, I am not fired. Because I'm only one of two or three people on location that actually knows how to do several important things, and the only one who's job it is to regularly do them. That's right, me. The one who tried to get herself laid off in the last year. The one who probably least cares about her job. Still here.

Of course, once they figure out some new ways to handle things, who knows?

But it kind of makes me giggle a little bit.


Happy Bday, GWB!

No, not that GWB (shudder). I mean the George Washington Bridge, sillies!

75 years ago, this amazing structure (seen here in an approprately autumnal shot from Ft. Tyron Park) opened, setting the record for the longest main span in the world at the time. While it may have been surpassed in this and other records since, it's still pretty impressive.

I'm hoping to get a good view of it from the underside, as well as as the Jeffrey's Hook, a/k/a "the Litte Red" lighthouse, when we go on our Hudson River leaf-peeping cruise on Saturday. If it doesn't freakin' rain on that one day of the week, that is. Ahem.

I'm also determined to land on Bannerman Island someday, but that is another story.

Anyway, happy birthday, you amazingly engineered old grey lady, you! May you continue to hold strong against the mighty punishment of the elements and NY/NJ traffic.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I don't know why I've been all over the miniature horses, lately, but this is just too much:

Meet Thumbelina, the world's smallest horse

OOOoooh, IwantoneIwantoneIwantone...

The only problem is, I'd have to put some sod and fencing on the top of the house boat I want...

Friday Cat Blog* – Spies Like Us

“Alright, ve are here. Do you have ze plans?”
“Da. At approximately fourteen hundred hours ve vill…”

“Shh! I sense a trap! Could someone be vatching us?”
“Quick, comrade – pretend you are asleep! ZZZZZzzzinskizzz…”

*And yes, I know it’s Thursday. I’ll be out of town Fri-Mon, so I thought I’d add this early. Please keep an eye on Maurice and Quan Yin, here, and let me know if I can expect to find Maya disappeared, the turtles hiding and 87 kilos of mackerel in the storage room when I return…

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Dear Tech Support

No, that it not what you think it is on my keyboard. It is actually the dregs of a day-old latte. You should be able to tell this because:

1. We all know I'm not big on infants


2. When have you ever encountered baby shit that smelled like cinnamon?

P.S.: I need a new mousepad, too. TYFYPATTVIM.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Infamous Bot Story!

Preface: In keeping with the Halloween Meme and a conversation with First Nations, I've been pondering my Infamous Bot Story and realized that, since I have a number of new readers here, this old chestnut could be polished off for a new audience.

Caution: It's pretty gross, if not outright scaaaary, and thus the inclusion in the Halloween theme. You have been warned.

In 2001, while on a gorgeous beach in an amazing national preserve in Costa Rica, I began to experience itching on my head. I thought perhaps I had carelessly sunburned my scalp, and carried on with it covered.

Unfortunately, after my return to New York, the itching intensified, and began to be accompanied by stabbing pains. Sunburn disproven, I figured that because I have a number of sebaceous cysts on my head and my mother had once had one on her scalp get infected, I was probably having the same problem she had. I went to my dermatologist, however, and he could find nothing wrong with them. I believe he gave me some kind of cream and an antibiotic, and I returned home.

As you may imagine, this did not stop the problem. In fact, it got worse. The pains became more frequent and a crawling sensation developed. The doctor kept telling me just to keep up with the anitbiotics, but I soon started to have weeping sores on my head. I still thought it was the cysts, but this was gross. I was having trouble getting an appointment with the dermatologist (I think he was out of town), and for a couple weeks I had to carry tissues with me wherever I went, because blood and pus would run down my face. I would be sitting on the subway, struggling mightily not to whimper or scratch at the itching and pain, and dabbing at the rivulets dripping down my forehead.

Finally, I got in to see the doctor. What did he do? He shot my head full of corticosteroids, hoping to alleviate whatever reaction was going on. Alas, this just aggravated someting, because the next morning one entire half of my face and neck were grossly swollen.

This time, the doctor even came in on a Sunday to see me as I dragged my puffed-up, oozing head (wrapped in a bandanna, which had become necessary by then) an hour plus on the subway in to see him. He sent me for blood tests in Chinatown, where Mrs. Nator had to scream at the doctors to get them to see me after some insurance paperwork snafu. At this point, with my face and neck blown up to frightening proportions, for all we knew, I could be dying.

Still, several days later, the results were showing nothing out of the ordinary. I was despondent, and it seemed that, as doctors will when they don't know the answer to something, they were beginning to think I was making up the problem, somehow. I had searched all over the internet for itchy scalp and cyst infections, but was coming up with bupkes. What the hell was going on?

What finally solved the situation was a combination of luck, faded memory and fluke. One evening, I got a particuarly awful sensation in one of my wounds, and thought "I swear it feels like something is moving in there!" I reflexively reached up to touch the area and... it felt like something was moving!

I was horrified, but not sure it had really happened. I ran to the mirror and saw... something on my head. I called out to Mrs. Nator, and asked her to come feel and look at it. She was so shocked and nauseated when she saw and felt something shifting in there, that she went into complete denial mode and couldn't believe her eyes. They were saying "my girlfriend's fucking skin is wriggling," but her brain was saying "nonononoNO." It was then that I picked up a tweezers and started pulling on the Thing in my head.

It took a long, long time. The Thing was firmly hooked in there, and I had to yank with both hands, screaming and bleeding all the while, to get it out. At last it came free, and I examined it, panting and dazed.

It had... parts. And barbs. "This is not a cyst," I yelled, "this is some kind of larva!"

Mrs. Nator was so grossed out and in denial that she kept trying to explain that it must be a cyst, and the clear segments and hook-like appendages on it were just a normal part of cyst development, somehow. I, however, suddenly had an Aha! moment. Several years before, I'm not sure how many, someone on an email list I belonged to had mentioned that in Africa someone she knew had gotten "bots", a kind of fly larvae that gets under the skin. Could there be bots in Costa Rica?

A quick run to the computer and a search that seemed to take forever, and I had a photo. I compared my Thing and yanked my reluctant partner, who was trying to suppress all memory of the preceding events as it was, in to second my opinion. Let me tell you, she turned more shades of green than you can find in a Crayola box when she realized it was true - that Thing was a bot.

For my readers' edification, here is a comparison, so you can play along:

1. sebaceous cyst sebaceous cyst 2. botfly larva botfly larva

You're welcome.

Anyway, I'd like to say things got resolved quickly thereafter, but let's just say I had to spend a long time convincing my dermatologist of what had happened and that I had a larva in a Ziplock bag full of vodka (the only preservative we had) to prove it. Eventually, he agreed to see the crazy lady who thought she had bugs in her head and send my specimen to a collegue at Columbia University who was a specialist in tropical parasites and diseases. Boy, did he blanche when it turned out I was right!

I think it took a day or two before they could make an appointment to get the buggers out, and although I was actually happy to have solved the mystery and proven my theory, it was pretty torturous going through all that time knowing there were creepy crawlies eating my scalp fat and relieving themselves down my forehead. The dermatologist either didn't know about the meat or vaseline methods of removing larva (traditional treatments that basically suffocate the larva into evacuating) or didn't trust them, so he cut the larva out. Pretty much the entire office of people crammed in to the room to see the worms being pulled out of a woman's head and marvel. Despite the pain and queasiness involved, I think the doctor's young assistant had it worse than I did. From the looks of her, she was thinking to herself that she had signed on for zits and moles, but never, ever this. I'm just glad the poor thing didn't faint.

And that's my story. It's no scrotal infestation, but it did turn out I had about six - SIX! - of those fuckers in my head. In my research thereafter, I did learn that while botfly infestations are way more common than U.S. doctors know about or South American tourism bureaus would like us to believe, acquiring six was something of a tour de force in the hapless tourist/myiasis department.

I will conclude this with reporting that I did return to Costa Rica for two weeks in 2005, and while I did experience some tummy trouble on the Osa Peninsula, the trip was lovely, and I returned with no more insectile travelling companions. Trust me, I was a lot more careful to cover my head!

For more disturbing stories about and photos of botfly infestations, you can go here. You can even watch a video of a woman getting one extracted from her head, if you want to feel a little solidarity with me... or you just like gross stuff.

I hope these stories will other people whose doctors don't know about botflies to self-diagnose earlier than I did. In the meantime, I wonder if I could make a botfly larva costume for Halloween?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Butt ho!

I just rounded the corner and nearly walked smack into a horse's rear end. Literally.

I just love working in the thea-tah!

Speaking of butts, I have to find something new to cover mine for my brother-in-not-law's wedding within the next three days. Shopping for the large yet classy dyke (shut up) is not always easy, so wish me luck...

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Halloween Meme... of Maaadnesssss!

I have been tagged by the lovely Chai & Sympathy, so heeerrre we go!

1. What's the scariest movie you've ever seen?

I have never been good with horror movies (with the exception of the Evil Dead series, which is more silly than actually horrifying), so I’ve seen very few of them. I would have to say that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 was the absolute goriest move I ever saw, and I only saw parts of it while wandering back and forth through various rooms at a high school party. I remember, despite being tipsy, and upset because I had blurted out something embarrassing to a friend I had an unrealized crush on (who would later drop the friendship because she thought I was interested in her boyfriend, ironically) and my best friend and her boyfriend wouldn’t stop making out and drive me home already, that I watched a few minutes of the movie as it played on a tv and thought to myself “how could anyone willingly watch something this disgusting, macabre and exploitative, much less enjoy it? I have got to re-evaluate my friends.”

As for the one that actually scared me the most, however, I’d have to say it was The Blair Witch Project. Yes, the principals were annoying and stupid, but that only struck me as realistic, having gone to college with hundreds of narcissistic film students just like them. It was the way suspense was built, with unseen threats but freaky sounds in the distance – which were somehow very convincing on the local theatre’s sound system – that got me. I literally had trouble sleeping without a light on for six months after that thing. Yeesh.

2. What was your favorite Halloween Costume from childhood?

I only vaguely remember three, one of which I got mugged in, so that one’s right out. I’d have to say the lion costume my sister sewed for me. It was like lion-coloured footy pajamas with flip-over paws, a stuffed tail and a cap that snapped under the chin bearing a yarn mane and feline ears. Drawn-on whiskers, and I was ready to go. Damn, I loved that thing! Oh, sure, my stepsister may have won the elementary school costume contest with the realistic, light-up R2D2 get-up her brother made her, but she couldn’t hear, sit, or climb stairs in hers. Mine, on the other hand served as a frequent play costume-cum-pajamas for years until I wore it down to shreds.

3. If you had an unlimited budget, what would your Fantasy Costume be for this Halloween?

A much skinnier, more tan, well- travelled-and-rested version of me. In a cape.

4. When was the last time you went Trick Or Treating?

I’m honestly not sure. I think I did go a couple times after the candy-mugging incident. I think 11 or 12 years old was my cut-off date.

5. What's your favorite Halloween Candy?

Well, you’ll be able to tell when I re-post my annual candy list, but I’d have to say Reese’s PB Cups are my favourite candy to get on Halloween, but candy corns are, of course, the most ideally Halloween-specific.

6. Tell us about a scary nightmare you had.

Oh, Lord, I have them frequently and they are doozies. There are a couple I can remember from childhood that still upset me. There was the one where I made a mis-step while climbing a ranger’s station and broke the stairs, plummeting me, my family and everyone on it to their deaths, and it was ALL MY FAULT. Yes, this was during my parents’ divorce. Subtle, eh?

Then there was the one where I dreamed I stood up in my crib and called my parents, and they came in and had NO FEET. Just… stumps. They acted like everything was normal, which made it somehow even creepier. And yes, I still remember it, and I was still in the crib at the time.

During my teenage years I had a really gross one where I looked in the mirror and my entire face was one giant, suppurating whitehead. So I took both hands an POPPED IT!

Had enough…?

7. What is your Supernatural Fear?

That’s a really good question. I don’t really believe in malevolent supernatural entities, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get freaked right the fuck out in creepy situations. Or just when it’s dark, actually.

Probably at this point one of my biggest fears regarding the unknowns of life would be classified as “natural” or “scientific,” rather than supernatural. It’s a fear that we really are just governed by bio-chemical-electrical reactions in our brains, and therefore we have no independent being or “spirit,” so death is just the sudden end of everything – boom. I mean, sure, the idea of being cognizant but trapped in your rotting body is worse, but I just can’t buy that one. Either we go on in some way, or we don’t. I’d rather go on, thank you.

8. What is your Creepy-Crawlie Fear?

Probably that horrifying, mind-controlling leechy thing that crawled into Chekhov’s ear in Wrath of Khan. I mean, now it looks cheesy, but when you’re 11 years old that is the worst thing ever.

Actually, I find most of the greater tropical parasites nauseating, even though I’ve already lived through the infamous larvae in my head incident. We can just start with the old leech in the eye socket and move on through the most wretched and nightmarish parasitic afflictions like roundworms and elephantiasis. Oh, and I hope you didn’t click on those links, because you reeeally don’t want to go there.

9. Tell us about a time when you saw a ghost, or heard something go Bump in the night.

It’s happened more than once to me, but here’s the most classic, Halloween-y tale:

When I was a kid, my stepfather had a farm in upstate NY. It had once belonged to a guy called “Old Man Stone,” and there were actually very old photo albums around the place that had been his. Legend had it that he’d died falling out of a tree in the orchard (who knows where this story came from) and still haunted the place.

The farm was a rickety old place in an isolated area, so it could get pretty dark and scary at night. My stepbrother and sisters swore up and down that they had all witnessed Old Man Stone’s ghost walking up the driveway and then disappearing into thin air one night, and that the youngest sister had once woke up to find a figure staring at her that then melted into the wall. As a younger child this spooked me enough that I was very jumpy at night, and always had to have some light on. I would dash to the bathroom and back, never look in mirrors or darkened rooms, etc. However, as I got older, I began to suspect that the stepsibs had been putting me on because they didn’t much fancy having a new kid around the house, along with the fact that I was younger than any of them and thus vulnerable.

Fast forward until I’m in my mid teens or so. By this time, our trips up to the farm rarely included much of the fam, as most everybody else was in college or beyond. I was up there with my mom and stepdad only. Although sometimes the deep, quiet dark of the country still made me a little edgy, I didn’t really believe in the ghost stories, anymore. I went to bed upstairs by myself without event, all lights off.

It was the middle of the night when I suddenly woke from a dreamless sleep and sat straight up. I was surprised to find myself awake and sitting, as this never happened, and there seemed to be no sounds that might wake me. I wasn’t disturbed, only puzzled, as I found myself turning to look out the window. There was a small bit of moonlight, but it was dim behind clouds. Still, there, in the vineyard, I could see someone, apparently all dressed in white, walking through the rows of grapevines.

I thought this was odd. It was a little disturbing, as I couldn’t imagine who would be wandering our vineyard, miles from any town, in the wee hours. I watched this person, seemingly a male, moving smoothly through a row for a minute or two and debated waking my stepfather to see who was trespassing, but suddenly feeling very sleepy again, I figured it was probably just a hunter cutting through, and no use anyone startling anyone else and causing trouble in the middle of the night. Whoever it was, he seemed to be on his way to the road, so better to let him go than invite any confrontation. With that, I pretty much flopped back on the bed and fell dead asleep.

I’m pretty sure that the next morning, at breakfast, I mentioned seeing someone in the vineyard the night before, but either they were thinking about something else or my mother and stepfather were not perturbed by it. I shrugged it off, too, but later in the day I decided to take a little walk to the orchard, and I noticed something interesting. As I passed by the vineyard, it suddenly dawned on me that the rows were completely overgrown with weeds and vines. Indeed, we hadn’t done any harvesting or pruning for years, perhaps, at that point, and the last time we did I remembered having to hack through the rows with large clippers and rakes, progressing only a step or two at a time before being completed engulfed and thwarted by thorns and tangles. If anything, the vineyard was worse this time than it was then.

And the person I had seen moving through there was striding at a good pace. With no clippers, protection or scythe. Which was… impossible. If you HAD A BODY.


Old Man Stone, I presume.

10. Would you ever stay in a real Haunted House overnight?

Seeing as I already have, I might, if the conditions were right. That is, I’d have to have someone trustworthy with me and access to lights, I think.

11. Are you a traditionalist (just a face) Jack O'Lantern Carver, or do you get really creative with your pumpkins?

I like to get creative. I used to do two every year: a small cat-faced one and something else, usually vaguely vampirish. Now I’m less exacting and only do one, but I like to make it a little more interesting than some triangles and a smile. I’ve never used one of those stencils, though I’ve thought about it. They make cool pumpkins, but it seems a little like cheating, if that’s the only one you’re going to carve, IMHO.

12. How much do you decorate your home for Halloween?

We don’t really. We’re on the top floor of a 4 & ½ story building, so no-one could see it, if we did. We do put out our lit jack-o-lanterns in the window or on the stoop, though.

13. What do you want on your Tombstone?

I hope to be freeze-dried and used as fertilizer or cremated and scattered, so unless you mean the frozen pizza, nothin’.

And, at spoooky number thirteen – that’s it! I tag First Nations, Claire and Bear in a Box. Sock it to me, gang!

Update: It turns out this meme was started by Morgen. Thanks for the Halloweeny fun!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Now Play Nice

I’m still grumpy, but to make up for my vitriol of yesterday, here’s a nice photo of fall foliage for you, and a link to one of the cutest, most heart-warming things I’ve ever seen.

You’re welcome.

P.S.: Oh, yeah - and I'm gay. Surprised?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Kill All Humans

I have a headache from repressed rage. I just read an amazing article in the NY Times Magazine that explained how we humans are not only exterminating most of the large species of mammals (among others) in this world, but we are driving them crazy. That's right, this article focusses on elephants, and how not only are there less and less of them, but the survivors are as socially and behaviourally warped by PTSD caused by the loss of habitat and killing of their relatives. In other words, not only are we wantonly killing and committing atrocities against each other, we're driving elephants so batshit that they are trampling villages and raping rhinos. Nice going, human race.

Of course, it's not just the elephants. Everything natural is dying on this world, thanks to us, with the possible exceptions of roaches and kudzu. Even when animals go crazy and kill, it's not usually wiping out huge populations to extinction. And hunting for food is another thing altogether, even when nature seems cruel. I challenge anyone to watch The Eye of the Leopard - a recently aired television documentary with gorgeous cinematography, poetic writing and moving and at times appropriately creepy narration by Jeremy Irons. Watch the young leopard, just transitioning from cub to adult, as, after catching and killing her first piglet, she dances around and plays with its body in excited celebration. It could be thought morbid and grotesque, but the sight of that exquisite, graceful, powerful feline body arcing though the air in slow-motion joy, striking spots dappling her fur like the sun through leaves, was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

This animal did not kill for the joy of it, carelessly or for profit. She killed to feed herself, and if she felt excitement it was due to discovering her ability to survive. She didn't then go and try to kill the rest of the pigs in the forest for good measure - because they were in her way or "for their own good." I challenge anyone to witness that, or the sight of elephants mourning their dead, or dolphins supporting their sick brethren, and not wonder at the beauty of nature, and know that they carry emotions as we do, without the power or will to change the very planet that we wield.

Here's the time where Mrs. Nator would point out to me all the people in the article, like the folks at The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, TN, who are doing good things for the elephants and trying to help and heal them. However, I can't help but see these people as a woeful minority and figure we are all going to hell in a ginourmous handbasket. Probably a hell where demons shaped like elephants pull out our teeth and gore and trample our loved ones in front of us for eternity.

Seriously, sometimes I wish for a fast, untreatable, human-specific plague, that sterilizes the carriers it doesn't kill. I guess that makes me a bad person. Or, all things considered, it just makes me a human. At least I am ashamed.

It Could Be Worse

Personality Disorder Test Results

Paranoid Personality Disorder:Low
Schizoid Personality Disorder:Low
Schizotypal Personality Disorder:Low
Antisocial Personality Disorder:Low
Borderline Personality Disorder:Low
Histrionic Personality Disorder:Moderate
Narcissistic Personality Disorder:Low
Avoidant Personality Disorder:High
Dependent Personality Disorder:Moderate
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:Moderate

-- Take the Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Info --

Friday, October 06, 2006

Mail Order Madness

There’s nothing quite like receiving one of those random tchotchkele catalogues in the mail. Since I occasionally order NPR & PBS-related gifts for people, I usually get the Wireless and Signals catlogues. But, this morning, I found something new in the mailbox: the What On Earth catalogue.

A sort of cross between Lillian Vernon and Spencer Gifts, the What On Earth catalogue indeed has things that’ll make you say “what the fuck?” Okay, it’s not quite the same, but I like my version better. Let’s flip through it and see what catches our collective, cyclopean eye, shall we?

Officially licensed John Lennon talking action figure.

Sadly, this is the first item I noticed, and my reaction was: no. Just, no. This is just so wrong in so many ways. And the fact that Yoko freaking licensed it? Wow, all those people who thought she was a monster were right.

Darth Vader Hoilday Figurine

On the one hand, this is so contrary to what Darth Vader – and here I mean the original triology Darth Vader, not some pouty teenaged bullshit – is supposed to be about. Vader is supposed to be forbidding, powerful… deadly. On the other hand, look at how cute he looks with his little gold-chained cape, santa hat and snow death star. “They blowed mine all up, so I’m gonna make one outta snoooooow.” Adorbs!

His Money, Her Money Piggy Bank Oh, ha ha ha! Entrenched patriarchal misogyny – it is to laugh!

Paint Your Own Weiner I’m so glad that this traditional frat hazing task now has a home version.

Crazy Cat Lady Action Figure They got the hair and nose all wrong. And my robe has cat appliqués on it, thank you very much.

I Noticed You're A Ganster T-Shirt Normally, I try not to focus on the “hilarious” t-shirts, because they are Teh Lame. This one grabbed my attention, however, because a few years back I actually designed a t-shirt with a very similar, über–caucasian 50s dude giving a thumbs up that read “THUG LIFE!” I never got it made, so now these people are making money off of what is basically my idea. I need to give in to my shameless capitalist urges more often.

I Like Big Buttes T-Shirt The more you get to know me, the more you will learn that I am a sucker for headsmack-worthy puns.

What Part Of Moooooahaahahaha Don't You Understand T-Shirt The last of the T-shirts I actually thought somewhat clever. I’d say it would make a good Halloween non-costume, but since I’m prone to frequent maniacal, evil-genius cackling, it’s more like everyday wear.

Castle Bundt® Cake Pan O, Castle Bundt® Cake Pan! I yearn for thee, ere I may use thee once and produceth one cake that, lo, emergeth all fucked up like a medieval crumbly ruin. Upon this sight, I wouldst gnash my teeth and decry thy maker as my sworn enemy. Yet, in due time I wouldst decree of thy base and rough-hewn form that 'twere more faithfull to history, and thus frost you tones most stone-like, appointing thee with knights-attendant of plasticine, yea with countenances grim, in the very throes of death, and instruments of pain, ring'd in very seas of blood...

and then it would turn out that this was all in my imagination and I actually thought about doing this but actually stuck the pan in the bottom cabinet, never to be seen again.

Light-Up Toilet Seat

Nothing says class like a light up your ass. This reminds me of a store down the street that sells all kinds of “designer” toilet seats, from padded Betty Boop on a motorcycle jobbies to ones with things like seashells, animal figurines or poker chips embedded in clear acrylic. I think my favourite one had money and razor blades in it. I mean, I’d bet there are a fair number of drug dealers in my nabe, but I didn’t know they warranted their own product line of powder room decorations.

Sheriff Armadillo Coin Bank

I am totally down with this armadillo. You people have run over, mocked or infected with leprosy your last Hoover Hog, I’ll tell you what. This here's a Killo ‘Dillo - so move along, son, move along.

The Pianist Hand Concert GAAAAAAAUGGHH!!!

“The various gears and levers inside this clear plastic hand interact to move the fingers as if they are playing one of six classic piano pieces; as the digits play selections from Beethoven's "Fifth Symphony", Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer," or Chopin's "Minute Waltz," you'll be fascinated by their precise movement and precision-tuned mechanical genius. Sound sensor starts the music when you clap; requires 2 AA batteries (not included).”

In the name of all that is holy, that is one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen in my life.

Bacon Wallet

My first thought was “why?” But then I realized I actually know someone who should have this wallet. And you probably do, too.

Christmas Tree and Fireplace Nightlights

I actually think the fireplace one looks kinda cute and cozy. Shut up. I think I need a vacation.

Land Of Misfit Toys Glass Ornament Set These might just be cute enough to buy. If I didn't have enough damned Christmas ornaments to topple a sequioa, already.

Fo' Shizzle Doormat “EXCLUSIVE! Yo, G!. Why not add some mad style with this super fly doormat, boo? Clean up your slanguage and muddy shoes all at once, thanks to our extra-rugged olefin mat, a fo' shizzle ("sure-fire" to those hip to the jive) hit with every visitor. Easy care; hose clean.”


If you didn’t know the “izzle” thing has been dead for several years? This should be a clue.

Limited Edition Kiss Plush Dolls I just don’t even know. Really.

And finally, the

Bushwhacker Whirligig and

George W. Bush Tissue Box Alright, just c’mon, people. How dare you portray our president this way? I mean, these likenesses are waaaay too flattering.

That’s about all that caught my eye in the print catalogue, although there’s enough more to bury you twelve times over in the online version. Honestly, the mind boggles at just how much useless, decorative crap the American public will shell out for, and just what that means about out culture. Shame on you, American culture, shame on you! I might, however, stop haranguing you if you buy me this

Monty Python™ Black Beast Of AAARRRGGGHHH Plush Toy but only because it would be the perfect accessory for when I take Ma Nator to Spamalot Sunday night.

And because oooohh – I need it!