Wednesday, June 29, 2011

When I Get My WABAC Machine

For those of you unfamiliar with the WABAC ( pronounced “wayback”) machine, let me congratulate/pity you for not having spent your childhood in front of the TV, though, for cultural relevancy's sake, it is imperative that you hone up on your “Rocky and Bullwinkle” references* ASAP.

In the interim, it suffices to say that the WABAC machine is a time machine built by a hyper-intelligent cartoon dog, Mr. Peabody. Actually, it is really only necessary to understand that it is a time machine, but I threw in the part about the animated talking dog so you'd have a sense of where this post is coming from.

Below is the list of things I have deemed most important to accomplish should I ever acquire a time machine, in no particular order:

  • Get fall-down giggly-girl drunk on pink champagne with Marilyn Monroe.
  • Photobomb the famous “V-J Day in Times Square” kiss photo.
  • Land a background role in the “La Marseillaise" scene in “Casablanca." Attempt to convince the director that having the crowd spontaneously break into "The Hokey Pokey" would be just as affecting.**
  • Buy AOL stock, pre-IPO.
  • Meet Rasputin. Freak him out by predicting his own future.
  • Meet Lisa Gherardini, the model for da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Ask what's on her mind.
  • Get Shakespeare's autograph... on one of Christopher Marlowe's plays, thus thoroughly confusing academia forever.
  • Attend Woodstock. Bring a box of wet-wipes.
  • Prevent, at all costs, my 9th grade hairdo.
  • Split a peanut butter and banana sandwich with Elvis. Attempt to warn him off of the whole “sequined jumpsuit” thing.
  • Create shivaree-style coitus interruptus outside of his parent's bedroom window on the night the inventor of culottes is to be conceived. Ditto for the creator of the “skort.”
  • Attend the world premier of the original 1977 “Star Wars” movie. Upon leaving the theater, be heard to remark that, “Well, it's pretty obvious to me that Darth Vader is going to end up being Luke Skywalker's father.”
  • Coffee with Alfred Peet. A glass of wine with Robert Mondavi. Dinner with Julia Child. Rum shots with Hunter S. Thompson***.

Today's exercise: What would you do, given the time?

Next: Something filled with charm, wit and poignancy... or not. 

*Get Moose and Squirrel!

**Watch as Peter Lorre shakes it all about! Now that's good cinema!

***The first time I read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" it was while working at the Oklahoma District Attorney's Council. I read it sitting at my desk, goofing off, because my boss was away at the annual NDAA conference. Mind blown.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dip Me In Nostalgia and Sprinkle Me With Powdered Sugar: The Yum of Summer Fairs

It is officially summer, and as such, the unofficial start of the Fair season, which lasts through early autumn, generally culminating in a State Fair.* 

What is it about the mingled scents of herbivore waste, human sweat and fried onions that I find so irresistible?

I think I'll have the Polish sausage sandwich with onions and peppers, corn on the cob grilled in it's own husk, a cold beer, then a funnel cake for dessert. (Thanks to the Loop-the-Loop, none of these calories will count.)

Note Jim's look of total Zen.
The real thrill of traveling carnival rides isn't the speed, the whirling, or the G-forces. It comes from knowing that the ride was assembled the night before by carneys and local winos.  

That band I hated in the 70s is playing for free at the fair grounds? I'm so there!

4-H kids are badass. Really. They're gangsta. They will cut you. Just ask that steer. 

It is almost impossible to get me out of the show rabbit exhibit. It is nearly impossible to get me into the pig exhibit.

The world needs more pie baking competitions... and more butter sculptures. 

There's a beer garden, you say? Well, maybe just one...

Note: children are now older than they appear.
Do not ride the roller coaster after visiting the beer garden. Instead, consider the bumper cars.

In spite of my nearly crippling fear of heights, I always ride the Ferris wheel. I inevitably regret this choice. 

In the interest of your own health and well-being, do not attempt to guess my weight, Mr. Carnival Barker Man. Being made to stand on a giant scale in front of crowds of people is the stuff of nightmares -- not something I'm willing to do in exchange for a little stuffed toy. For one of the big ones... well, maybe.

Win me a plush monkey and I'm yours forever.

Today's exercise: I wasn't kidding about that plush monkey. Get busy!

Next: I think maybe, finally, that piece on "To Kill A Mockingbird" I keep threatening.

*My favorite State Fair: Indiana (With Oklahoma being a close second. Midwest!)

Step right up, Ladies and Gentlemen. Click the "Like" button and win a prize!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice: A Stone Sol Picnic of Randomness

If I could be anywhere today, it would be Svalbad, Norway*, where they are currently experiencing the phenomenon of the Midnight Sun. I imagine they're having quite a party. If I were there, they certainly would be.** Skål, y'all!  

The summer solstice gives us an excuse to use the word “Ptolemaic.” Also, “astrolabe.” I suggest taking full advantage of this. 

While at work today, if you say exasperatedly, “this is the longest day,” you will be correct.

As one of the more melanin deficient persons on the planet, I welcome the waning sunlight and slow return to wintery darkness as much as I welcome the resultant return to more flesh-concealing clothing. Fish belly white!

Whatever your skin tone, wear sunscreen. And a hat. I'm partial to the Divided line from H&M, but you already knew that. Lucky hat!

Did you read about the solar flare?

The diameter of the sun is 109x larger than that of the earth and the volume something on the order of a million to one. One good solar belch and the entirety*** of human history could be gone in a flash. Dangerous stuff, this solar orbit business.

It takes about 8 minutes for light to travel from the Sun to the Earth's surface, giving you enough time to microwave a bag of popcorn before the end of the world, but not to eat it. Therefore, in the event of catastrophic solar failure, we suggest cold cereal as a last meal. 

Today Neopagans in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the holiday of “Midsummer.” Hooray for the Neopagans!**** They always seem to be up for a party. They may have more holidays than even the Yummish. (They also seem to be very active on Wikipedia.)

Only 186 shopping days left until Christmas!

Today's exercise: Enjoy the longest day of the year! 

Next: The piece on summer fairs I mentioned before.

*Though, if someone were giving away free trips to Hawaii, it's not like I would turn it down.

**I like to think I bring the party. That's not true, but I like to think it, anyway.

***Except for what we've preserved on the Voyager spacecraft. Go NASA!

****What exactly qualifies a group as “Neopagan?” I wonder if they'd be willing to consider us a sub-sect?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Seventh Yummish Saint

The Father of both modern music and 20 human beings, the Yummish Council thought it was only appropriate to announce the canonization of the Seventh Yummish Saint on Father's Day (US).

Johann Sebastian Bach

Now one of the best known composers in the world, Johann Sebastian Bach spent his life working in relative anonymity. A sometimes challenging and cantankerous man to those who did not understand his genius, Bach was driven not by the pursuit of fame and wealth but of musical perfection. (Reminds me of someone else I know...)

In his own words, “The aim and final end of all music should be none other than the glory of God and the refreshment of the soul.”

In addition to his genius as a musician, St. Bach had other Yummish qualities. For example, did we mention that he fathered 20* children? It is safe to say we can guess at least one Yummish activity he enjoyed. As a young man, he was once castigated for taking a young lady into the choir loft, unchaperoned. (Racy!) Another time, St. Bach was accused of nipping out of church to visit the wine cellar during the sermon. (Tell me you've never been tempted to do the same.) We also suspect, based on the following quote, that St. Bach might also have enjoyed interceding with St. Alfred of Peets.

“Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat.”

That sounds like someone else I know, but then, who hasn't felt like that on a Monday?

Bach wrote over 1000 pieces of music, both secular and religious. Regarded as both intellectually challenging and emotionally affecting, Bach's work created a bridge from the Baroque music of his day to the modern masters. Beethoven called him “The immortal God of harmony,” and Brahms said “Study Bach: there you will find everything.”

Even beyond the gift of his own compositions, St. Bach gave us the tools that would eventually allow musicians to take music in fabulous, unexpected new directions that had literally not been possible before. Even if you never listen to classical music, you enjoy the results of his pedagogy. Without St. Bach's “The Well-Tempered Clavier” as both an example of and lesson how to navigate the wider and more nuanced “well-tempered” tonal scale, we would never have had The Beatles, Charles Mingus, Hank Williams, Philip Glass, or Lady Gaga, etc. Whether you are aware of it or not, you are hearing Bach's legacy all up and down the dial and all over YouTube.

On this Father's Day, take a moment to remember the man who made possible every album you have ever owned, the father of modern music – St. Bach.

Today's exercise: Get Bach!

Next: Maybe a piece on summer fairs... Which might require research, which would definitely involve a funnel cake. (I <3 Fried Wads of Dough!)

*That was a different, pre-over population, pre-modern medicine era and only half of those children survived to adulthood. (Bach's second wife was 17 years his junior, also like someone else I know. Hmmm...)

Friday, June 17, 2011

When I Win the Lottery

At a recent meeting, the Yummish Council made what we hope will be a life-changing decision. A debate was held and all opinions considered, and after thoughtful deliberation, we are confident in our conclusion.

My CA state lotto ticket, sure to win.
We've decided to win the lottery.

The resolution being signed, stamped and thoroughly toasted, I can only assume extraordinary monetary wealth will very soon be delivered unto me and figured it behooved me to start making plans for its use right away.

Michele's Post-Lottery Checklist

Get a cabin in the Humboldt or Mendocino County redwoods. Hug trees daily.

Devote as much time as is necessary to determine once and for all how many licks it takes to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop.

Crunch hard candies. Break off teeth. Buy new teeth. Crunch more hard candy.

Commission my own spicy ginger-flavored jellybean from Jelly Belly named “HotGingerMess.”

Spend six months exploring new and exciting applications for butterscotch sauce.

Hire a personal trainer to come to my home three times a week. Spend each visit sitting on the couch eating chocolate chip cookies and watching friends' web series on YouTube while ignoring said trainer.

Daily massage, in home/cabin sauna and hot tub, personal chef... 

Hire Thomas Keller to come to my home to cook for me. Ask him to make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. (I really like PBJs.)

Write, produce and star in a Lifetime Original Movie about myself. Pay people to watch.

Buy Firefly. Give to Nathan.

Sail around the world. Visit the International Space Station. Ride in Alvin to the ocean floor.

Get my cat therapy for her anxiety issues. Get a place on the beach for mine.

Go everywhere. Eat everything.

Today's exercise: Dream on!

Next: A special Father's Day post and new Yummish Saint!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dance As Though No One Is Watching You*

First, let me reassure you by saying that, no matter what, you are not the worst dancer. I am. That means, for the rest of you, the worst case scenario is penultimate suckage. Rejoice!

My position as “Worst Dancer Humanity Has Ever Known,” may be somewhat surprising, given that I started taking dance lessons when I was 3 years old. This had less to do with any real affinity for dancing on my part and more to do with ballet and tap lessons being de rigueur for little girls in the 1970s. As far as I was concerned, I got to wear a costume, stand on a stage and have a crowd of people stare at me. If I wasn't a particularly gifted performer, it never bothered me – a defect of personality that continues to this day.

Upbeat. Downbeat. You'd think I'd accidentally bump into one of them from time to time, but no. (If you walk without rhythm, you won't attract the worm.)

It's true that alcohol does make you a better dancer. The trick is to put more of it into your audience than into yourself.

Dancing is excellent full body aerobic exercise. Going out for drinks and dancing is essentially a type of wellness program – therapy for the body and mind.

When I was younger, I often went out dancing with friends. Some of them even still speak to me.

A little extra junk in the trunk is an asset when performing certain dance moves... and an absolute necessity for others. Oakland booty!

Belly dancing is the distilled essence of feminine sensuality set to music.

It is impossible to maintain a sense of dignity while doing “The Chicken Dance.” After sufficient exposure to rum, however, it is impossible not to do “The Funky Chicken.” Cruise directors and beach-side resort employees know this and take full advantage.

Best dance scene in a movie: “Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion” (If you've seen it, you know of what I speak. If you haven't seen it, hie thee hence to Netflix!)

There are people on “Glee”** who have clearly been blessed with more (and more flexible) joints than me.

Royskopp, Shpongle, Hol Baumann, Jim Strider, Moby, Ott, Outersect: My current MP3 player lineup***.

Today's exercise: See Title

Next: A new Yummish saint!

*Because they aren't. They're watching that really hot girl wearing only a bra and hot pants dancing on the PA speaker. (Extra credit points if you've been that girl... or managed to get her phone number.)

**I “wants” my Glee ABBA tribute!

***OK, fine... I'll admit it: and ABBA (“Dancing Queen” in Spanish). I really can't explain it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ghost Stories

I know a spell for conjuring ghosts. The secret ingredient is nutmeg.

Before you claim that there is no such thing as ghosts, whip up a batch of your grandmother's recipe for (insert name of beloved childhood dish here).

I propose a sixth basic taste. To sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami, add “haunting.”

I love ghost stories, particularly those of the nonfiction variety. I am especially fond of old photos, recordings (audio and video), personal anecdotes, etc. My favorite ghost stories though, are old recipes.

Let's gather 'round the fire and swap tales!

I'll tell you the story of living in a small town in the wide, fertile farmlands of the Great Plains at the beginning of the last century. It begins with a pork tenderloin...

When we recreate the dishes once prepared by those who are now gone, we make it possible for part of their unique aesthetic (read: Yum) to exist again. A small part of what made them “them” can once again be experienced, savored and even shared in real time.

Grandma's pot roast. Grandpa's home brew. Family reunion around the dinner table!

I never met my husband's great-grandmother. Nevertheless, I know we share a taste in sugar cookies.

Making that jello salad that is barely nibbled on may be a way of preserving someone's cheerful, pink place at the holiday table.

How quickly a mundane, faded, fray-cornered, butter-warped, flour-dusty, handwritten card can become a sacred talisman.

My mother's mac & cheese. Your mother's mac & cheese. A lifetime of memories can live in the space of ¼ teaspoon of salt.

Reconnect with the Old World, the old ways, the Old Folks at Home... and end up with dinner.

Today's exercise: Share your favorite ghost story.

Next: Maybe that post about “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Or not. Either way, we'll all be surprised together.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Picnic Basket of Summer Randomness

A sandwich is just a sandwich, unless eaten while sitting on actual sand. Picnic on the beach!

Everyone should experience “brain freeze” at least once each summer. Those of legal drinking age should consider trying “alcohol brain freeze.” Daiquiris on the beach!

Sweating is good for the complexion. Tan lines are sexy.

Everything tastes better when cooked over charcoal. (Fie on your propane and propane accessories!)

There is no such thing as too much BBQ sauce.

If you've never had homemade ice cream, my condolences to you.

Watermelon, strawberries, wild blackberries, corn on the cob...

I am proud to say that I know all 100 verses of “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall.” Road trip!

I consider the US National Parks to be as sacred as any church, temple or mosque. (Yosemite National Park... who's with me?)

Camping is as good for your soul as it is bad for your back. (Humboldt Redwoods State Park... who's with me?)

Crickets are nature's white* noise. Racoons can open the latch on a Coleman cooler. 

Drinking cold beer and watching the sunset from the end of the pier...

Extended daylight hours make the “lights on/lights off” question moot.

Ceiling fans are an aphrodisiac.

Sitting in the HVAC arctic darkness, waiting for stuff to blow up... Ah, summer movies...

Sitting outside in a vinyl-sticky lounge chair, waiting for the happy ending... Ah, poolside novels...

If you dare: Wear short shorts.

I hear the ice cream truck!

Today's exercise: Enjoy a little randomness this summer.

Next: That post about ghosts I mentioned last time.

*According to the Senior Council Member, it is actually more like "grey or pink noise" and that "white noise is kind of annoying." This is all far over my very non-musical head, but there you go... 

Hey... Look... One of those Facebook "Like" buttons... Wonder what happens if I click on it...