Domestic distractions. What's the use of having a kitchen counter if every summer it's so overrun with ants despite multiple daily wipe-downs that I have to hold my plate in the air as I spread peanut butter on the bread for my sandwich?
What's the use of vacuuming if I don't take advantage of the sound mask to shout obscenities that no one can hear?
What the use of opening a second gallon of milk if the first gallon isn't finished yet and the fridge is so jam-packed that it could have really used that extra space sooner and so I try pouring the remainder of the first into the narrow opening of the second and end up slaking the kitchen tile floor's thirst for cow's lactate?
Parking the prams. Ok, so now a Scandinavian custom I've read about -- parents parking the kiddie strollers outside with the kiddies strapped in them and then going into coffee shops and grocery stores and museums to do their business -- makes a little more sense.
This magazine ad suggests that mothers in the U.S. may have done something like this as well, in the 1950s. So it could have more to do with national crime rates than the desire to treat one's baby like a pet. Not that some pets aren't babied more than babies. Just that it wouldn't be considered . . . oh, forget it.
More "Family Cars" Park Here...
It's a pretty good sign, when you see a pram parade lined up outside a store, that mothers are inside doing a smart bit of shopping. --Life, 1950
Pizza profiling & terrorist tricuspids. Thanks to this article, I now have a little better idea of the kind of evil conspiracy in which those once-merely-irksome supermarket discount cards will have a role.
The saga began with a misguided fit of patriotism mere weeks after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, when a corporate employee handed over the records—almost literally, the grocery lists—to federal investigators from three agencies that had never even requested them.
. . . Oddly enough, "one of the factors was if you were a person who frequently ordered pizza and paid with a credit card," Ponemon says, describing the buying habits of a nation of college students.
. . . An admission that the government is combing through purchase records certainly would help explain why, according to the Naples Daily News, federal agents reviewed the shopper-card transactions of hijacker Mohammed Atta's crew to create a profile of ethnic tastes and terrorist supermarket-shopping preferences.
Speaking of profiling, my brother went to a dentist yesterday who called him a terrorist. He went in to get fitted for a retainer and ask about his problem of grinding his teeth at night. His dentist explained that one cause could be stress and then asked what my brother, a 16 year-old on his summer break now occupied primarily with watching copious amounts of Comedy Central, could possibly be stressed about.
Are you taking flight lessons? Making terrorist plans? Is that why you've grown that little beard?
Maybe he thought he was being oh so funny. Um, NO. Like, first of all, he's a dentist. Aren't they supposed to try to make their patients feel at ease? I wonder if he made those comments before or after he started sticking sharp tools in my brother's mouth.
I have heard some young cousins bandying around "terrorist" like some schoolyard epithet upon whoever among them has the barest peach fuzz. But the dentist is neither young nor a cousin. He's about 30 or 40 years past 16, beardless, and not of any ethnic background that could possibly inject his comments with an ironic humor.
My mother, of course, was in the room at the time, because she's overprotective that way. (I think he was 12 before she started allowing him to use public restrooms on his own.) She told me the dentist story, but in a way that suggested it was yet another reason why my brother should keep his face clean-shaven, instead of constantly growing a teenybopper beard.
Calling it quits. I just faxed my resignation to the partner who hired me and left a voice mail for my supervisor. Yes, I will be living with my parents until I'm 72. And yes, the right thing to do would have been to tell those people in person that I'm quitting. But I'm trying to convince myself that they didn't deserve that much given that I only worked there for six days and did not in that time get any explanations about anything at all, really.
Trot those tassels, tiger. Note to all men who wear braided tasseled loafers with polo shirts and tight jeans:
Thank you for transporting me, for just a brief moment, to a place where I suffer from a fashion superiority complex. 'Cause you make me feel, you make me feel, you make me feel like a fashionable woman.
Most of the time, especially with the number of sharply dressed paralegals and clerks at the office, it's the other way around.
Brian Williams. Friends, readers and InfoHunk admirers everywhere are always encouraged to submit tips, articles, 8" x 10" glossies, gossip, and more. InfoHunk slash fiction would be welcome as well. (Please see the submission guidelines before sending in your writing.)
Personally, I find Williams' tan overbearing and he reminds me too much of the Prince of Wales for comfort. But perhaps those are the precise things that turn some people on.
Williams is bothered by press criticism that portrays him as a journalistic lightweight, as if his main qualification for the job is that, with his Brooks Brothers suits and pocket handkerchiefs and Ralph Lauren ties, he looks as if he stepped out of the pages of GQ.
In fact, Williams may have been bothered enough by that designer-brand perception of him to do a different kind of name-dropping during the course of the interview.
Brian Williams's favorite office picture shows him beaming next to his friend Dale Earnhardt after the legendary racer has just won the DieHard 500 in Alabama . . .
. . . the New Jersey native is the embodiment of small-town America, a former volunteer firefighter who once worked at Sears and goes to church on Sunday.
"I'm always stunned when someone at our local Price Club knows who I am, because I don't think I exhibit signs of who I am," Williams says.
. . . he also watches old "Godfather" movies and bought a radar gun to time the pitching of his 10-year-old Little Leaguer. And when he visits his old pals from Middletown, N.J., a bit of the old profanity-laced Joisey accent returns.
. . . around the time his Dodge Dart died in a Kansas cornfield.
. . . spending time with the police dispatcher, the Amoco gas-pumper, the bartender at the local bowling alley.
"We used to hang out in bars on the Jersey shore," says Mike Spratford, who met Williams at Sears.
Fiery fronds. It was soothing to be in the house while everyone was out of town. Until this morning around 7am, when as I was dressing in my bedroom, I spotted through a crack in the curtains the bright yellow uniforms and helmets of a small posse of firefighters busting into the backyard. I hesitated a moment, then quickly threw on some more clothes and went out back.
I heard the nosy neighbor talking to them loudly across her fence as the firefighters ignored the fact that I had come outside and was staring at them. Then one of them turned around -- "We thought no one was home." Not feeling the need to respond to that, I asked "What's going on?" I think the nosy neighbor thinks she knows everything when she doesn't and assumed that the house was empty just because most people were gone.
Anyway, the neighbor and the firefighters kept up their conversation in my back yard as I stook there listening to figure out what was going on. It seems the neighbor called 911 when she saw sparks from an especially high palm frond touching a telephone pole wire and then the large leaf falling to the ground. Come to think of it, I did hear a crackle-pop type sound earlier that morning.
Of course, no palm fronds were bursting into flames at the moment, so they said the electric company would be by in an hour and left. I moved a car out of the way to give the electric company access to the back yard and then went to work. I felt a little guilt over leaving the house to possibly burn down. But I got over it in a little while.
1. According to my mother, my grandfather was so mistrusting of then-newfangled gas appliances that he refused to eat food he knew was cooked using gas, well into the age of microwave ovens. I wonder if some people felt the same way about microwave ovens when they were new.
2. I have an uncle named Lenin. Yes, that Lenin. Turns out Lenin has a cousin named Stalin, and that both of them had fathers who carried their enthusiasm for the Communist Party a bit too far, and mothers who probably gave that argument up too soon. Never met Stalin, but he lives in a remote village and goes by a nickname having nothing to do with any Soviet leaders.
Lenin, however, always goes by Lenin. As a child, I assumed it was an ethnic Indian name. That's what my father and he tried to persuade the INS to believe as well, back in the late 1960s when Lenin interviewed for an immigrant visa.
Movie musings. I can't wait to see Rabbit-Proof Fence. I read about it last month in Reader's Digest and I'd like to put some excerpts from that article here. Unfortunately, that article is not online and I can't find July's issue right now. The film should play here in the U.S. beginning in October. Only a couple of months to go!
A while ago, someone in the house rented The Royal Tenenbaums on DVD. I had already seen the movie and I didn't have time to watch it again but I did view the goodies. Highlights include a funny non-interview of characters who, apart from Kumar Pallana, all had small parts in the movie, and Pallana performing some feats of plate-spinning.
He is out with my parents because everyone went to Las Vegas. Even if I wasn't working tomorrow, I wouldn't have gone because Vegas is not only horrendously hot in the summer (especially driving there in the afternoon) but requires oodles of money and Ed McMahon doesn't even write to me anymore.