Archive for November, 2009

25 Ways To Make Thanksgiving Memorable

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Holy hell.

It’s that time of year again.

Has somebody invented a ‘time speeder upper’ machine and neglected to tell me?

Regardless, Thanksgiving (American Thanksgiving. I wouldn’t normally know this, but I recently learned that Canadians also have Thanksgiving and that it already happened. Do you guys have a similar story with Native Americans saving your starving colonists’ bacon one winter by showing up with a feast of corn and turkeys and grain or ???) is just around the corner.

In honor of the impending day, I saw a link to an article entitled, “25 Ways to Make Thanksgiving Memorable” and although I didn’t read it, I’m onto it. At least I think I am.

I’m currently without internet access to confirm my suspicions, but I’m expecting things like traced handprint turkey place markers and posting written lists of gratitude and other sentimental ‘awwwww’ ideas – and who needs that? I’m about as thankful as they come, but I still hate it when I’m forced to publicly declare gratitude because the maker of the dinner has decreed it so.

I have problems with authority.

Wanna make something of it?

Anyway, realizing that you need schmalzy feel-good ideas like I need a hole in the head, I decided to come up with a list of 25 untried and in no way true nor guaranteed nor foolproof nor advisable ways to make Thanksgiving 2009 memorable.

Maybe not in a good way.
But it will be memorable.

  1. Burn everything – even things that aren’t cooked. Burn up extras and toss them into the Jello mold and store-bought cranberry sauce. Be creative! Burned up paper is edible in small amounts. Probably.
  2. Serve nothing but fudge formed into the shape of traditional Thanksgiving items. White fudge for mashed potatoes. Peanut butter fudge formed into a turkey. Chocolate fudge can be…the fudge? Regardless, you get the idea…
  3. Dishing out grub at a food kitchen is so last year. Bring home street people for Thanksgiving dinner. Real homeless! Reeking of urine and booze! In your mother-in-laws’ upholstered dining room chairs! Imagine that…
  4. Make drinking mandatory – even for children.
  5. Require that everyone dress as their favorite Pilgrim. Don’t have a favorite? That’s what Wikipedia is for.
  6. Refuse to call your guests anything but “Kimosabe” and “white man”
  7. Instead of turkey, serve ‘the most dangerous game’ – man
  8. Rather than going around listing what you’re thankful for, list off the people you’re glad aren’t there.
  9. Stage a reenactment of the Roanoke disaster (or your best guess as to what that may have looked like.)
  10. Go foraging for berries and make your cranberry sauce out of that. Have someone old or already infirm sample it first.
  11. After dinner suggest a rousing game of “What can I get in exchange for these beads and some small pox infested blankets?”
  12. Pumpkin pie is so obvious. Carrot pie is not.
  13. Instead of giving thanks, give advice. Don’t like the way your niece is living her life? Tell her about it! Everybody loves unsolicited advice! Right? Right???
  14. Take the whole crew out to the nearest Top of China buffet restaurant. That’ll teach them to simply ‘assume’ you’ll happily prepare a meal for six hours.
  15. Wait for everyone to fill their plates and then continually point to particular items and ask, ‘Are you gonna eat that?”
  16. Midway through the meal, emerge with a razor and announce that the person with the longest hair will be subjected to a traditional Indian-style “scalping” (No need to truly remove their skin. Just shave the hair. That’ll be plenty memorable.)
  17. Nothing like playing truth or dare with the family! Make the dares impossible, so that there’s nothing left but the truth, “So who is my real father, Mom?”
  18. Instead of bread, make your stuffing with ‘whatever.’ Anything goes! Potato chips, frozen peas, fruitcake and cat food. You’re the chef. You call the shots.
  19. To really spice up #18, have people submit guesses as to what, exactly, is in this years ‘stuffing.’ The closest guess wins a prize. You can decide how good or lame said prize is.
  20. Instead of a ‘children’s table’ have an ‘asshole’s table’ and treat it like musical chairs. “One false move, Mary, and you bump Uncle Bob up to the grown-ups table…”
  21. Continually pipe up with “God bless us, everyone!” until someone employs physical force to make you stop.
  22. Sure, it’s been done to death, but don’t underestimate the memorability of deep frying a turkey and ‘accidentally’ burning your house down. Plus, it gets you out of making Christmas dinner.
  23. Suggest that everyone go around the table and share one brutally honest thought with the others, children included. “Cindy, I’ve been watching you play with the other children, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to grow up to be a stripper.”
  24. Sure, turkey is traditional, but koala will give them a story to tell.
  25. Food fight!!!

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You’re better off with $10 and a dealer

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

So the Bermuda rains continue, and I’m trying like crazy not to get sick.

My compadres are recovering from swine flu and descending into a cold (and sneezing on every available surface), respectively, but so far, so good. This is largely in part thanks zinc supplements and sheer will, and no thanks to sound sleep, as that is (as you know) sorely lacking.

On the other hand, one upside of rain: awesome tree frogs

Although things were pretty quiet the first few nights, after the rains hit, the darkness exploded in song. At first I thought it was some kind of wacky bird, but my friend straightened me out that it is actually nocturnal tree frogs.

To quote some site from which I copied this and can no longer recall well enough to attribute: “Tree frogs spend their days quietly resting under moist leaf litter and stones. As night falls, they climb up nearby trees. The males then strike up a tune, hoping to attract mates.”

If frogs aren’t your thing, how about some toad licking?

That’s right. Bermuda has those toads you lick that supposedly get you high.

Another quote from another mystery source, “The giant toad (Bufo marinus) is thought to have been introduced to Bermuda in 1875 by Captain Nathaniel Vesey. He brought around 25 from British Guyana to help control the island’s cockroach population. Toads are now found all over the island.”

Nice work, Captain Vesey. Turns out we invented chemicals to deal with the roach stuff, but A for effort. Well, sort of. It didn’t really work. There are plenty of roaches around 135 years later, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, back to the unattributed quotes:

“The toads are about 5 to 6 inches long and are frequently found squashed flat on the road; hence the nickname ‘road toad’. A high percentage of Bermuda’s toads (25%) have abnormalities; 5 legs etc. It is thought this may be due to pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.”

Scree…….!!!!

Um…..

What?
Please tell me this isn’t related to the allegedly clean limestone purified rain water. I really don’t need an extra limb or second head or anything.

“Toads can pose a health risk to pets. When dogs and other pets play with them they feel threatened and release venom from their skin. This can easily kill.”

In addition to the whole, one-time contact with the toads will kill your dog issue, I did a little research on the whole toad licking thing (I didn’t see any – except for the road toad variety – but it’s good to be prepared), and it was complicated and risky. There was stuff about somehow smoking the toad excretions and possible hardcore side effects and well, as the title says, you can get a much safer and more practical psychedelic effect with $10 and a dealer.

Ironically, just now as I’m writing this, the Family Guy where Meg is hiding a Colombian psychdelic toad for the cool kids in the hopes of fitting in is on. Weird, right?

“Mr. Toad, How many licks of you does it take to get to the center of a Long Island State Prison?”

“Just one.”

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Welcome to the Jungle

Friday, November 13th, 2009

Oh my god.

My hair has gone bat shit Shirley Temple crazy.

See????

See???? (And not a shoulder in sight!)

I don’t think I’ve seen it this way since high school.

Remember when spiral perms were cool? Too bad that’s over, because that’s my natural hairdo (at least in this rainy ass weather. Some kind of storm system came and parked over Bermuda Tuesday and is here until the weekend. My hair, in kind, has declared anarchy.)

So what I was saying is that it’s too bad the spiral perm has fallen from grace because I’m rocking it any time the humidity crawls above 70%. It’s very Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister. Or – having just seen it – any member of Anvil. More on Anvil (what a goddamned tragedy they are) tomorrow…

Meanwhile, just to be clear, the title of this blog post is in reference to my hair rather than any actual jungle. Contrary to popular belief (including my own when my friend was relocated from Grand Cayman to Bermuda about six weeks ago, and thus the destination to which I was moving her cat changed), Bermuda is not in the Caribbean. Not even close. Basically, if you have a sea-worthy boat, head to Savannah, Georgia and sail due east. Avoid the hurricanes, when possible.

Me in some 'stocks' in St. George. If I had Photoshop, I would've de-greasified my face. I have no idea why I'm always so shiny.

Me in some 'stocks' in St. George. If I had Photoshop, I would've de-greasified my forehead. I have no idea why I'm always so shiny. It's an issue.

It was first settled when a ship bound for the Jamestown settlement in the ‘new world’ crashed in Bermuda in 1609.

***Full disclosure***

This segue originally made sense because at first I confused Jamestown (current-day Williamsburg, Virginia) with Roanoke, and thought those guys were lucky for the crash, but thankfully I Googled it, because 1. You guys are smart. and 2. I was mistaken. Thus, 3. One of you smart asses would have pointed out that I was mistaken.

But since I brought it up, Roanoke, as you also may or may not know, is simultaneously referred to as the Lost Colony of Roanoke because the settlers disappeared off the face of the earth and no one knows why (minus the little anecdote that the citizens were waiting – in vain – for THREE YEARS for supplies sent from England. Supplies that never arrived. Thanks, England.)  Anyway, in addition to not knowing why those guys went AWOL, I also don’t know why my brain has chosen to remember the time my eigth-grade U.S. History teacher, Miss Van Antwerp, declared that when she died, the one question she had for God was, “What happened to the Roanoke settlers?” Miss V was really into U.S. History. Over the years I’ve thought about things I’d ask God when I die, and Roanoke has yet to make the list.

Some of those white Bermudian roofs. Mmmmm....  Rain water....

Some of those white Bermudian roofs. Mmmmm.... Rain water....

I actually remember a lot about that lady, but I won’t bore you with it here.

I learned that little fact about the settlement of Bermuda via Jamestown (confused with Roanoke) while reading the “Bermuda Visitor” booklet during a particularly boring wait for the wifi router to be upgraded to the Bermuda internet service provider specs (which didn’t work, but is another story not blog-worthy. It’s like being sponge-worthy, but because the blog lives on in cyber space, whereas sponge-related activities do not, it’s even more critical. To further clarify: the latter doesn’t live in cyber-space unless you stupidly videotape them. But I digress…)

Another thing you may not know about Bermuda is that they have no source of fresh water. Not a single river, stream, or creek to be had. The only source of water is rain (which according the booklet they refer to by the not-terribly-original nickname ‘liquid gold’). So anyway, the rain is collected on roofs painted with limestone and catchments (or drawn from underground lenses) and stored in tanks. Supposedly the limestone wash is what purifies that water before it drips into said tank. I studied the limestone roof to distraction, but it really didn’t look very clean to me. And then there’s the whole bird poop issue. And don’t even get me started on acid rain.

Me on my bed/couch/island with my giant Sideshow Bob/Medusa hair.

Same place, different time. Rocking my giant Sideshow Bob/Medusa hair.

Nonetheless, I have consumed multiple glasses of the stuff, and they all tasted fine. I even left one out overnight on the coffee table next to my sofa bed and had some the next morning – the gold standard taste test for tap water – and it was good. Or as good as water can be, which is to say devoid of flavor. And no flavor is good. In terms of water.

So there you have it.

I’ve run out of things to say.

All these curls are pulling on my head and making it hurt.

So goodnight…and Happy Friday the 13th! (My lucky day, having been born on one.)

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Sarah Connor T2 arms, here I come

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

So when we last spoke, I was catching you up on how to move three cats from Seattle to Bermuda the hard way.

Or maybe that was how not to?

Or perhaps I was simply suggesting that you never, ever attempt this? Find good homes for your pets and start over fresh on the other side?

Me at some beach of which I can no longer recall the name. It was much like the others.

Me at some beach of which I can no longer recall the name. It was much like the others.

At any rate, since I know you’re dying for the ugly details, allow me to continue: Day two started off at the Hilton Miami Airport, where we had been (accidentally) out until 3am, (accidentally) having dinner in South Beach.  I was rudely awoken at 9am by people yelling in the hallway and the sound of a bed squeaking in the room above me. As previously mentioned, I’m something of a light sleeper, and once my brain kicks in, that’s all there is to it. I’m up. For the day.

Since I hadn’t had access to hand weights or a gym in three days and wouldn’t again for a week or more, I went to the hotel fitness room. And it SUCKED. You know those super lame gyms at cheap hotels where they have a treadmill, an exercise bike, and an ancient elliptical machine? This was that. But at a nice Hilton. And apparently they were proud of it. In the ‘thank you for staying here Hilton Diamond member, Mr./Ms. Wolf’ letter they handed me at check-in, they bragged that my Diamond status awarded me free entrance into the gym. Ummm… Nothing to boast about, people. Maybe check out the local Bally’s and get a clue.

The bay in Hamilton.

The bay in Hamilton.

And when your hand weights are the sharp kind that instantly cause calluses and start out at 20 lb, you are not exactly female friendly. I’m a girl, not Arnold Schwarzenegger. You couldn’t even come up with a couple of ten pounders? Nevertheless, I did what I could with the oversized, palm tenderizing beasts…and it took two days before my triceps stopped aching. Maybe that workout will be the thing that finally makes them look ripped? Probably not…

Another trip back to the airport with the overabundance of personal belongings, and it was off to the races.

First off, the people in Miami are not even 1/100th as nice as the people in Seattle. If anything, we were annoying the crap out of them with our mere existence and plethora of luggage. Thus, without even a warning or warmup tragedy, there was something of a meltdown regarding the cat immigration paperwork, which in turn caused my friend to get panicky, which in turn caused the lady ‘helping’ us to get her manager, which led to some feisty exchanges, which led to me having visions of my fellow travelers spending a night in jail.

However, despite the circumstances, we got checked in after a mere 45 minutes and had just enough time to repeat the whole security craziness with the private room and the cats running around and all that fun stuff. I grabbed a pre-made salad (I hate pre-made salads, but what can you do?), and boarded during the final call. Nothing like taking it down to the wire.

The bay in Dockside, Bermuda right as the bad weather (which is still here) arrived late yesterday afternoon.

The bay in Dockside, Bermuda right as the bad weather (which is still here) arrived late yesterday afternoon.

When we were filling out our immigration and customs paperwork, I should have known.

In hindsight, my instincts were fired up, but I think I was too tired to tune in.

Thus, when K instructed me to copy A’s paperwork with respect to the address where we were staying (“Mazarine by the Sea, 91 North Shore Rd, Pembroke, Bermuda”) I just figured that was the name of her apartment complex. And when we got there and she explained that the two of us (A + I) would go through together in the US Citizen line and she’d go through on her own with the cats into the Bermuda resident line, I was fine with that. And when we went up to get our passports stamped and answer the questions about how long we’re staying and why, it seemed fine.

It wasn’t until my single suitcase was stacked onto a giant cart with A’s two GIGANTIC suitcases that I started to worry.

V: “Ummmm….this is a problem.”

K: “Why?”

V: “He has so much stuff…for a week. It’s weird. They’re going to think it’s weird.”

A: “I’ll just tell them its your stuff. Women always overpack.”

V: “But it’s not my stuff. What if they open it?”

A: “I’ll just stay you like to wear my stuff.”

V: “That’s retarded.”

You get the idea.

And so did customs. A and I were promptly flagged over to the ‘deep dive’ section (where K was in the next aisle having a comparably easy breezy experience), and interrogated in a manner rarely seen outside the CIA.

Me just minutes ago, still in my workout clothes, and preparing this blog for you.

Me just minutes ago, still in my workout clothes, and preparing this blog for you.

I felt like one of those people who marries a person from a foreign country solely to get them citizenship and is now being quizzed by immigration and naturalization and failing miserably.

“What kind of toothpaste does he use?”    Ummmmm…..Crest?

“Is he left or right-handed?”  Ambidextrous?

“What side of the bed does he sleep on?”  He’s an insomniac. I’ve never seen him sleep.

“Where were you married?” In a church???

Although I lounged languidly against the table behind me in the hopes of affecting an air of bored indifference, in my head I was in a dead panic about the basics of my travel ‘partner’: What is his last name? What is the name of the place we’re allegedly staying? If he has a single f*cking frying pan or desk lamp in one of those bags, I am getting deported.

When they lady asked about the three bags and discovered that two of them were his, she deadpanned, “That’s a first.”

Basically, we just acted like he was a wacko clotheshorse who brought three coats, ten pairs of jeans, and six dozen t-shirts with him wherever he went. I, in contrast, am a highly organized weirdo who puts everything in little zip pouches according to the order I’m going to wear them. She admired the neatness of my packing job.

And another one. This moldy-smelling couch doubles as my bed. It's my everything right now. Looking at this picture, I need to go wash my hair as soon as I publish this thing.

And another one. This moldy-smelling couch doubles as my bed. It's my everything right now. Looking at this picture, I need to go wash my hair as soon as I publish this thing.

And although she asked A “Are you sure you’re leaving?” about fifteen times, in the end she gave us the grumpy pass, and we stumbled relieved into the Bermudian night…and right into a creepy dentist from Florida who spent the next 20 minutes trying to pick me up.

K had pre-ordered a van, but the guy didn’t show, so as we were waiting around, this 60-ish dude who reminded me of Kenny Rogers came up and started chatting at length. Chip claimed to be a dentist from Merritt Island  by day and a power investor by night (allegedly) and was in Bermuda for the week to lead some kind of investment seminar (allegedly) and was there at the airport to pick up some kind of professional rugby player (allegedly) and did I need any drugs or did I want to stay in his hotel room, which was very spacious. (No and no.)

He then spent another ten minutes outlining a series of dental medications which would make great date rape drugs, gave me his card, and we (sans The Gambler) headed off to the tiny apartment temporarily (at least for me) known as home. Par usual, K is upstairs snoring as I type (at 12:35pm), and perhaps I’ve got it all wrong? Although the snoring is crazy loud (like a dude) and has kept me up for the last seven nights, maybe I’ll find that I miss it when it’s gone?

We shall see…

p.s.

I added some photos to the post from Monday.

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The Fine Art of Cat Relocation

Monday, November 9th, 2009

I had a brief impulse to get all cutesy on you and call this “The Fine Art of ReloCATion” but I hate a pun as much as the next guy. More.

Me on the flight from Seattle to Miami after about three hours of sleep...the first night like that of many.

Me on the flight from Seattle to Miami after about three hours of sleep...the first night like that of many.

Apologies for my lengthy absence. In a practical sense, internet connections have been non-existent. In addition, traveling with three people, three cats, and nine pieces of luggage was, to put it simply, painful.

To put it less simply:

I wrote that blog for you Friday, and it was pretty much pure chaos from there on out. Stress was running high, and my friends expressed theirs during a lengthy and protracted bickering match that lasted about three days.

Oh joy.

At any rate, allow me to cover the highlights of pulling off such a feat, should you ever feel so stupid.

On Horseshoe Bay beach. I was kind of proud of this artsy shot.

On Horseshoe Bay beach. I was kind of proud of this artsy shot.

Step one: Clown car experience.

1.  Grossly overload a rented Toyota Camry.

2.  Realize there is no room in said rental car for the third wheel you’ve included in your nightmare (me).

3.  Overreact and come up with a weak plan to call a cab 15 minutes after you originally planned to be at the airport, thereby guaranteeing extraordinary amounts of stress for all parties.

4.  Decide instead to load third wheel vertically into the front seat, where she will lie in a precarious and painful position – wedged between the drivers seat and passenger side door and astride another person in a manner she has not even come close to attempting since she was 13 years old – for 45 minutes.

Me at Jobson Cove - a spot the locals used to use to raid ships that crashed in the surround reef (so said the homeless guy bathing there.)

Me at Jobson Cove - a spot the locals used to use to raid ships that crashed in the surround reef (so said the homeless guy bathing there.)

5.  Pray to whatever you believe in that lying in this manner doesn’t dislocate a disc or damage your back or send you (me) through a windshield or whatever.

6.  Arrive at airport in one piece. Hallelujah!

Step two: Security meltdown

1.  Take three fancy Persian cats through airport security

2.  Refuse to kowtow to the tried and true.

3.  When asked to remove a cat from its carrier and carry it through the scanner, become hysterical that that cat will scratch, kick, bite, break free, and live its life begging at the Anthony’s Seaport Grill.

Horseshoe Bay - bad weather rolling in

Horseshoe Bay - bad weather rolling in

4.  Flirt with imprisonment. Get irritated and use words such as “harassment” and “abuse of power” during TSA employee deep dive on bags.

5.  Lose shoes and start wandering around security area sorrowfully looking for them.

6.  Watch as four men escort you a private room for further bag investigation and a thorough excavation of the cat carriers. Ask if the cats will be receiving a cavity exam, and feel stupid when no one realizes that’s meant as a joke or laughs.

7.  Race to gate, realizing you have no food or water for the six-hour flight to Miami.

8.  Discover cat has peed on self in crate

9.  One hour into flight, notice harrowing smell and realize another member of the feline trio has crapped on itself.

10. Take offending cat to the restroom for a sponge bath.

Why would you buy eggs in a jar? Shipped from Portugal?

Why would you buy eggs in a jar? Shipped from Portugal?

Step three: Travel waaaay out of your way for dinner

1.  See above note about bickering

2.  Hang out in your room at the airport hotel with the cats until approximately 11:40pm

3.  After a knock at your door, greet your anxious (and hungry) third party member, and join her for a quick meal at the hotel bar at 11:45pm

4.  Learn that hotel bar is no longer serving food, and throw a conniption fit.

5.  If you are one of the two female members of the group, have a drink. If you are me, have a gin martini straight up with four olives (quite possibly the only solid substance you’re going to get tonight) and pray it goes to your head immediately.

6.  If you are the non-female member of the troupe, go and ask the concierge about places to eat, and completely lose your shit when you are told everything is closed. Storm out of the building – on foot – in search of an iHop. An iHop nobody has claimed exists.

If they hadn't cost $7.00 (USD + Bermudian are interchangeable. They even give you change in American money if you ask) I probably would have bought these out of curiosity. And because I like pickled eggs. Usually.

If they hadn't cost $7.00 (USD + Bermudian are interchangeable. They even give you change in American money if you ask) I probably would have bought these out of curiosity. And because I like pickled eggs. Usually.

7.  Talk to taxi drivers and return to your comrades at the bar. Explain to them that you just learned there’s a restaurant a few minutes away called “South Beach.” Convince everyone to join you for a quick meal.

8.  Pile into back seat of taxi and ride…and ride…and ride…and cross bridges…and ride…and go to another continent…and ride…all with the growing realization that you are not going to South Beach, the restaurant, but South Beach (and you are in no way, shape, or form dressed to take on South Beach)

9.  Eat a pretty good meal (all things considered), discover a new way to make vodka lemonades (add mint!!!, and get back at 3am, all the while wondering how this day got so damned long.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

More tomorrow on day two of the journey to get here (and hopefully wifi for my own computer so I can upload some photos to augment your reading pleasure).

p.s.

Justice was served. Blueberry neither peed nor pooped himself. In the end, the bad cat was the good one!

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