Sunday, May 30, 2010

Meat the Author

I hope they don't make a movie out of Julie Powell's second book, Cleaving. I've just finished reading this latest memoir-ish offering from the author of Julie and Julia, upon recommendation from my sister. I haven't seen the Julie and Julia movie (nor actually read the book - yet) but I'm sure it's innocuous enough. I have read excerpts of Powell's Julie/Julia Project blog, which is comically entertaining while providing ample evidence of Powell's questionable sanity. And Powell's success at turning a passion for cooking into a way out of a shitty job is pretty enviable to those of us stuck in shitty jobs ourselves.


Cleaving would be an okay book if its author was content to merely chronicle her obsession with learning the butchering trade. I didn't grow squeamish at Powell's descriptions of turning animals into entrees; after all, I grew up in a family of fisherpeople, so I know that flounder don't come from the ocean ready for the pan in uniform rectangular blocks. Heck, I've even eaten meat that had a name, courtesy of my sister & brother-in-law's sheep herd. But when Powell's tale turns to the way she rips her husband's heart apart, even if figuratively, via an affair that fulfills some masochistic need she didn't realize she had, I found myself not wanting to read the gory details. Oh, sure, Powell suffers because she sees how she makes her husband suffer. As a reader, though, I didn't want to suffer along.

I acknowledge that many writers use their craft as a form of therapy. Powell surely earned enough from the success of Julie and Julia, though, to afford a real therapist to work out her problems with. Maybe I just don't read enough (any) mainstream writing to appreciate the appeal and marketability of the sort of writing Powell is paid to indulge in.

And maybe, if Powell is the masochist she claims to be, she'd be interested in trying my job for her next book.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

thought stream

In spite of the state's other shortcomings, California is providing us with some mighty tasty strawberries this year.

Strawberry Alarm Clock are also from California. And until recently, still touring, apparently. My LP collection includes their album "Incense and Peppermints."

Peppermint is one of the most widely used and useful herbs. It has wondrous medicinal properties, tastes wonderful all on its own, but I believe peppermint was put on the planet to be paired with chocolate:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making the Grade

It’s that time of year again – PMS time. PMS is the unfortunate acronym for “Performance Management System,” the employee performance review procedures in place where I work. Actually they’ve done away with PMS in the past year, in favor of PM1, PM2, PM3, and PM4 – but “PMS” probably more accurately conveys the agony and general malaise that overcomes my department when the performance review cycle rolls around.

Last week I had my own review, which consisted chiefly of my supervisor telling me how badly my colleagues and I have disappointed him by refusing to cheerfully continue enabling our most dysfunctional colleague’s behavior. He went on to critique (criticize) my own performance because I don’t execute the duties of my position exactly as he would, and left no doubt in my mind that he would rather have someone else occupying my office. Preferably a minority male, because there are so few of those in leadership positions in the field. (Never mind the fact that there are woefully few minorities of any gender within 50 miles of the university where I work.)

So…in order to earn “Outstanding” assessments on next year’s review, it looks like I need to make some major changes.

Anybody know where I can get some melanin and testicles?

(Image borrowed from here.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

At Least it Wasn't a Moose

(Or, "These ain't your momma's vacation pictures.")

Well, part of the "Mystery" in my "Magical Mystery Midlife Tour" was, unfortunately, solved early in my trip when, upon being enthusiastically greeted to the Cape by one of its resident deer, I realized that I hadn't accounted for my $500 insurance deductible in the overall vacation budget.


I'm guessing the deer looked worse, but I didn't check. It was night and I wasn't really in the mood to feel any queasier than I already did. Luckily I sustained no damage myself, and the car made it the final 30 miles to my hotel in Provincetown, MA without showing signs of mechanical troubles. I checked in to my hotel, unpacked the bottle of wine I'd had the foresight to bring along, and after making a few phone calls, enjoyed the night-time view of P-town harbor from my own private deck.
View from my deck

The next day I called the Gecko and learned that I might as well be back in Bubbaville, at least so far as having an insurance adjustor handy went.

Anyway, running around to the police station (had to make 2 trips because the officer hadn't left the paperwork for me by the time I got there Monday) and finding a garage that could tell me if the "Check Engine" warning was anything serious (it wasn't) cut into my sightseeing time, but nevertheless I tried really hard not to let my Bambicidal incident put too much of a damper on my vacation. I spent one afternoon just walking around Provincetown, browsing a few shops and having a decadent lunch (bacon, tomato, and brie pannini....with a healthy side salad, of course!).
P-town record store window

I looked up one of my Mom's old acquaintances who has a gallery there, and later had a nice chat with the fellow who ran the fudge shop I visited. Talk about your dream jobs! Even though it was too early in the season for lots of places to be open, that meant there were no crowds which suited me just fine.
Hands not 4 sale

On Tuesday I had a much better wildlife adventure, and went on an afternoon whale watching cruise. It was incredible! We got really lucky, according to the biologist/guide -- there was a whale who was very curious about our boat and hung around, swimming back and forth underneath the boat and giving us a fantastic show for over half an hour. There were dozens of other whales feeding in the area too.
Our whale

I also spent some time on the Cape Cod National Seashore -- very nice & isolated and . . . natural. A nice change from my last beach experience, which was of the Myrtle variety.

Lines for the restroom
Wednesday I was due in Boston, and the weather was perfect for the drive. I decided to stop in Plymouth for lunch, and after gobbling down a lobster roll at a wharf-side fish market/cafe, I took a quick walk to see the Mayflower II and Plymouth Rock.
The Mayflower II and funky tree

Once in Boston, intellikid treated me to dim sum for my birthday. She insisted that I try the tripe. I did. I let her finish it. Everything else was yum, though -- especially the roast pork buns. I don't have any photos from my stay in Boston, because aside from an afternoon at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, all I did was eat.

Friday morning we got the car packed in an incredibly short time, and left Boston about 11:30. Spent the night in PA, and then during the last leg of our trip Saturday we stopped off for a while at Dinosaur Land in Virginia -- one last roadside attraction before dragging our weary selves back home.
Not Responsible for Accidents

(If you've got nothing better to do, there are more pics here

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Magical Midlife Mystery Tour

It's time for me to leave on the Magical Midlife Mystery Tour. Well, the only mystery is how much the trip is ultimately going to cost me. Intellikid's semester finishes next Thursday, so I'm heading Boston-ward, taking my very first ever all-by-myself vacation. I'm spending a few days in Provincetown, MA , then on to Boston to reunite with my kiddo. I hope all her stuff fits in the car!

Needless to say, posting will be at a minimum for the next week. Unless I need to arrange bail . . .