Archive | April, 2012

Pesky? I prefer “clever.”

27 Apr

I don’t own a television. I’m not saying that in a superior way, the way vegetarians inform you that they won’t eat flesh. I don’t have a television because a) I prefer to read, b) I think they detract from a room’s design, and c) I’m too cheap to pay for cable.

But that doesn’t mean I won’t watch television. Admittedly, it’s probably amounts to only two hyper-calculated hours per week, but still – I’m not living in a total cultural void. Alan serves as my enabler. HE believes in television, so he records Mad Men shows we both enjoy, and I venture his way once a week to watch them.

And when the shows we watch are off-season, we check out a new series (most recently Breaking Bad) using his Netflix account. Kindly, he has lent me his password so that I can occasionally access something without him. I rarely do it (did I mention: I like to READ), but periodically I do hop in there and make his queue a bit more, um, interesting. I think he appreciates it.

Here is what I added last night:

  • Reach for MeWhen his new hospice roommate — 25-year-old Kevin — moves in, the quiet life of senior citizen Alvin turns upside down. (Don’t you think Alan will LOVE that?)
  • Politics of LovePolitics makes strange bedfellows, but never stranger than when a sexy, savvy, African-American Republican reluctantly falls for his counterpart: a beautiful Indian-American Democratic campaign volunteer. (Timely. It IS election season, after all. And before you try to claim this must be sci-fi because there are no African American Republicans, let me remind you: Michael Steele.)
  • Don’t Go Breaking My Heart: Recently widowed mother of two Suzanne catches the eye of her dentist, who secretly hypnotizes her during an appointment to make her fall for him. (Because nothing says SEXY like a medical professional taking advantage of you while you’re in the chair for a procedure. THAT is the stuff dreams – and lawsuits – are made of.)
  • The Human Centipede 2:A disturbed loner is so obsessed with the shocking horror film The Human Centipede that he decides to replicate the movie’s grisly experiment. In this metasequel, the stakes are raised as 12 unlucky souls endure surgical hell. (Actually, I think Alan might have added this one himself. Nevermind.)
  • The Minis: Worried he can’t afford his son’s tuition, Roger — a little person — tries to get his friends to enter a basketball tournament with a big prize. (I would like to meet the screenwriter who thought, “Ah ha! Little person, big prize!” And then punch him in the face.)

The best part of meddling with Alan’s queue isn’t even watching him sift through the items that populate it. It’s seeing the “intelligent” recommendations at populate as a result. The formula I just created with these movies looks something this:

Hospice + racial/political switcheroo + widowed date-rape + human centipedes + Dennis Rodman =

Netflix's "Recommended for Alan" pick.

Actually, that sounds about right. I guess technology IS smarter than we are.

Is that a banana in your pocket?

26 Apr

Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day. You’re supposed to carry a poem in your pocket and share it with friends, co-workers, strangers, etc. I’m all for making the world a little more poetic, so I plan to participate.

While I have a few poems that are definite favorites, given my twisted sense of humor, I thought it would be hilarious to have a poem on hand that is guaranteed to result in an awkward exchange.

I picture someone stopping me at the water cooler to share a verse by Emily Dickinson… then I’d whip out this one in response:

To Speak of Woe That Is In Marriage

by Robert Lowell
The hot night makes us keep our bedroom windows open.
Our magnolia blossoms. Life begins to happen.
My hopped up husband drops his home disputes,
and hits the streets to cruise for prostitutes,
free-lancing out along the razor’s edge.
This screwball might kill his wife, then take the pledge.
Oh the monotonous meanness of his lust. . .
It’s the injustice . . . he is so unjust—
whiskey-blind, swaggering home at five.
My only thought is how to keep alive.
What makes him tick? Each night now I tie
ten dollars and his car key to my thigh. . . .
Gored by the climacteric of his want,
he stalls above me like an elephant.”

AWKWARD. Even better if the person I’m reading it to is married.

Or making a production of unfolding a large piece of paper, only to quote Shel Silverstein’s two sentence poem, Plunger, which has been lodged in my head since second grade:

Teddy said it was a hat, so I put it on. Now Dad is saying where the heck’s the toilet plunger gone? 

What verse will YOU carry with you today? Any favorites you’ll share?

In full seriousness, here is mine:

so you want to be a writer? 
by Charles Bukowski

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.


Finally: I escaped the flossing lecture!

24 Apr

If you’ve read Pithy for more than six months, you know that I don’t floss regulary (gasp!) and have devised a complex series of lies to help me escape The Lecture from my hygienist. So complex, in fact, that I couldn’t even keep track of them during one of my recent visits. I think you’ve officially reached a new low when you forget your own flossing lies.

Last week, I decided to take a different tact and boldly own it. “Floss?” I imagined myself asking, incredulously. “Hell no, I don’t floss! Flossing is for suckers.” And then I’d laugh like Nelson from the Simpsons until the hygienist became so confused she changed the topic.

At least, that’s how I envisioned it going. Turns out, Judy had the day off, so it was a stranger tilting me back in the chair, peering at me from behind a surgeon’s mask and magnifying glasses. After an initial inspection of my mouth she said, “Looks great! I’m guessing you’re a flosser?”

For a split second, I considered embracing that identity – giving a cocky nod and saying, “Floss? Give me a spool and I can practically weave you shoelace, I’m so skilled a threading shit between my teeth.”

Instead, I came clean. “Not so much,” I managed, right before she popped her hands in my mouth and began scratching around with a pick. It was a good thing I didn’t lie, because almost immediately she said, “I take it back. You’re bleeding like a stuck pig. Definitely not a flosser.”

But you know what was awesome? Instead of lecturing me, she said, “I hate flossing too. In fact, I didn’t do it until a few years after I even became a hygienist because it felt hypocritical to tell other people to do something I wasn’t doing.”

Mad props for being honest. And then she said, “If you’re not going to do it, at least let me show you how you can brush your teeth to kind of fake it.” AWESOME. Where has this woman been all my life?

At the end of the visit, my dentist ducked his head in for a quick peek at my mouth. For the first time in ages, he didn’t mistake me for another patient and ask how “the girls” are doing, sparing us both the awkward moment where I look at my breasts and say, “Just great!”

Instead, he zipped around my mouth with a pick and said, “Gorgeous. Really healthy teeth.”

I was about to double-check my surroundings, to make sure I hadn’t somehow turned up at Bizarro-Dentist, where everyone is awesome and complimentary, when Dr. O offered his own brand of reassurance, by offering up the same stale joke he’s cracked at every appointment in the last nine years:

Tapping my two front bunny-teeth, he quipped, “Looks good. We’ll just need to pull these the next time you’re in.”

Fine. I’ll take your bad humor any day, if it means I’m spared a lecture.

The End of an Era

18 Apr

An official photo from NASA HQ.

Yesterday at 10am, this city stood still. People in suits poured from buildings, mingling with tourists who flock to the Capital year-round in patriotic attire. Photographers had impressive equipment perched on tripods pointed at the White House, framing what they hoped would be the perfect shot. Everyone looked to the heavens in anticipation.

And then she appeared – the Space Shuttle Discovery strapped to the top of a modified 747, cruising over the National Mall in what is normally restricted airspace. The crowd erupted in cheers.

As I stood watched Discovery take her final victory lap, I had goosebumps. I turned to the White House cop standing next to me and said, “It looks like they’re having a blast,” referring to the pilot who I assume had a shit-eating grin on his face as he did THREE fly-bys that required sign-off from the FAA, Homeland Security and the Secret Service. “Hell,” he responded, “I’m having a blast!”

Just taking the sight at face value – a friggin’ Space Shuttle strapped to an airplane – is jaw-dropping in a physics-defying kind of way. But it was more than that. It was one of those moments when you realize you’re witnessing history, that – just as I remember where I was when I learned the Challenger blew up (Mrs. Lockery’s sixth grade writing class); I will now never forget the day the Shuttle program ended. Because I saw it with my own two eyes.

In middle school, I was a member of the Young Astronauts Club. It used the sex appeal of space to interest kids in math and science, with the unstated promise that if you excelled in both, you just might get to ride in a Space Shuttle some day. With the retirement of the Shuttle, I wonder: what will fuel this generation’s curiosity?

As I walked back to my office, I couldn’t help but smile. And I noticed that everyone else I passed was also smiling. I suppose you can’t help but share a feeling of awe and pride and hope when you’ve just seen something that left our atmosphere 39 times receive a well-deserved salute.

Last night over dinner, Alan and I discussed it. I told him I overheard an intelligent-looking guy on his phone right after the fly-by, saying, “I need you to explain the physics to me. How can an airplane take off with a Space Shuttle on top of it? How does it not flip over when it is in the air?”

We laughed, then Alan said, “Just think. I don’t care how scary a flight is now… you can always reassure yourself by saying, ‘At least we don’t have a Space Shuttle strapped to the roof.'”

I pictured the first pilot who was told he’d be flying a 747 with, oh, um, a SHUTTLE attached to the top. “You want me to do WHAT?” I can imagine him asking, incredulously.

“Don’t worry,” the engineers would’ve said. “Just think of it as having an extra set of wings.”

Then, once he floored it down the runway, they would’ve looked nervously at each other and said, “I can’t believe we talked him into that. Here’s hoping it actually works!”

Stream of Consciousness: Giddy’up!

12 Apr

Guess which one I would like to ride?

Alan loves to ride horses. So much so that he has a cowboy had from Colombia that he wears whenever he thinks he’ll even be in close proximity to a horse. Me? Not so much. It’s probably because I’m a control freak, but I do not derive enjoyment from being saddled to the back of a thousand-pound beast.

[I know, I don’t like babies or horses. Clearly I’m a witch. You probably think I punch kittens in my free time.]

And yet, the other weekend we went to the Marriott Ranch in Hume, VA to do just that. Here’s a glimpse inside my brain during that 90 minute horsey ride…

Please, please, please give me a good horse. Not a stumbly-horse or a huge horse.

How about that little number? It looks like a low-rider horse – definitely my speed.

Shit. Of course they put the 4′ tall chick on that horse.

You would think she’d want to compensate for being short by riding a TALL horse.

Oh. This is my horse? Applejack?

OK, Applejack. It’s just you and me. Please be an awesome horse.

Applejack. That’s actually a good name for a horse. But a dumb name for a cereal.

Would’ve been slightly more awesome if he (she?) was named Blackjack.

God I’m glad they didn’t put me on a horse named War Horse. That would’ve sucked.

Hey there! Applejack! Why are you twitching? Calm it down, boy. Girl?

[I notice flies crawling on Applejack, causing the twitching, and try to shoo them away while not letting go of the reins or the saddle. This results in me essentially blowing on Applejack’s mane and rubbing him with my elbows. Which probably looked crazy. At this point, we headed off down the trail.]

Whoa. Whoa. Slow down. No need to bury your nose in Alan’s horse’s ass, Applejack.

Why is it called horseback riding anyway? Why not just horse riding?

What other part are you going to ride? The head?

Oh crap – stream challenge! That thing looks filled with rocks – PLEASE Applejack, place your feet carefully!

Whew. Good job. Whoa. So good that you’re going to stop walking and take a celebratory leak, huh?

OK. And we now KNOW that you are a boy, Applejack. Well done!

And I now know what it means to piss like a horse: apparently it means leaving a foamy pile of bubbles in your wake.

OK. And we’re walking again.

This is as terrifying as flying in an airplane. I hate giving up control!

I’m sorry you have to climb this hill with me on your back, Applejack!

Oh my God – what if Applejack stumbles and falls and crushes me under his weight?

Wait – that is not very likely. When is the last time you saw a horse trip and fall? Ever?

I spent the rest of the ride trying to imagine a scene in which a horse did a somersault.

I’m so glad I found this video AFTER the ride: