Thursday, February 28, 2008

Flu, Fraud, and a little bit of Freud

Today I was home sick, sleeping most of the time, though somehow able to watch many, many episodes of In Treatment on HBO. That show is surprisingly addictive and, because it's about therapy, makes me feel like I'm learning. So Rob will come home after I've been watching it and I'll be like "I've observed these patterns in the way you react to me leaving my clothes all over the floor" or "How do you feel about the fact that you forgot to feed the cats?" He usually rolls his eyes at Smokey and then the two of them go off and talk about me.

But not today. Because Rob was skiing in Vermont while I was at home on the couch, finding out from my bank that someone has been withdrawing thousands of dollars from my account over the past three days. And, by the way? My account doesn't have thousands of dollars in it. So between that, and the fact that my ATM card is safely in my wallet, I have a really hard time figuring out what happened here.

The woman I spoke to at Citibank made me take a quiz in order to begin their "criminal investigation." Seriously, it was multiple choice and there is just nothing better than being on the phone with your bank when you are sick, hearing that you have no money while you answer questions like the following:

"Based on the past 5 years of your living arrangements, when I say Laguna, what location do you associate that with? A) Honolulu B) San Francisco C) Fort Collins D) Bangkok."

At one point, I admit I did lose my patience when I couldn't remember who I had gotten car insurance from in May 2002 and she told me I wasn't allowed to "just guess."

Anyway, it seems that if I write a thesis on banking in the modern age and fax it to Citibank in the next 10 days, I will probably get my $2200 back. I also had to commit to testifying in a criminal trial if they catch the evil genius who did this.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

What do you cook for Clooney?

Joel Stein invites George Clooney over for dinner to do an interview for Time magazine, makes too much food, sets off some kind of alarm, asks neurotic questions, and giggles like Anthony Edwards in Revenge of the Nerds.

In his defense, I think I would have had a hard time keeping my cool, too.

Best line: "I hope he likes bacon because everything seems to have parsley in it. And/or bacon."

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Mundane-ish Thoughts

Mundane-ish Thoughts are brought to you by February and Tuesday.

I think our heater is broken. It’s been off for about a month, since I determined that it was the cause of the dry, itchy skin and parched, sore throat that I woke up with every morning. Our neighbor Eric doesn’t use his heaters at all—just puts on a sweater when he’s cold. This seemed far less wasteful and potentially healthier, so I decided to give it a try. However, the heater will not comply. Despite being off, it continues to make noise and release heat. So, yeah. That’s not working.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Election? I thought you said Inspection.

Is anyone else sick of the primaries? No offense to Texas and Ohio, who should have the same chance as every other state to cast their important votes (although why Texas gets 10 days to do so is slightly mysterious.) But as I flipped on tonight's debate between Senators Clinton and Obama I felt, not enthusiastic or intrigued, but antsy. I even experienced a sudden desire to do the dishes* rather than hear the same questions, the same answers, and then after, the same recap. Although I must admit, I do find the post-debate breakdowns pretty interesting. For about 10 minutes. Which is how long it takes to realize that everyone is basically saying the same things.

I don't mean to be cynical, really. I have been fascinated by this whole election process. Much more involved, maybe, than I have ever been when it comes to discussing, opining, and hoping. But ENOUGH. I feel like the networks could start re-running the debates and we would get the same information. The only difference is how the candidates are handling themselves and each other. Who has made strides in their debate style and whose jabs are embraced or fall flat. What they are wearing and--ooh!--who leans towards who and who leans away.

Tonight the commentators said that Clinton shouldn't have talked so much about her superior experience level. "It's not working," they said. "People don't respond to it." Well, what is she supposed to say? That's her platform. I realize that there's a lot of marketing involved in politics and that maybe it would be savvier of her to figure out how she could twist her words so they sway more Obama supporters. But I'm actually glad they're both essentially sticking with their messages. It just makes me wonder what we're supposed to be learning during the continued debates.

I'm still legitimately excited about this election. I'm certainly passionate enough to blog about it. I'm just wondering if other people are feeling like this or if I'm letting the process get in the way of the progress.

Maybe things will be different tomorrow.

*I didn't do them. It was a fleeting desire.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Florida Fever

The sun shone, the mojitos flowed, and Rob made it approximately 16 hours in Florida before collapsing into the hotel bed with a fever. Thank goodness for Nina and Chat, without whom I would have been wandering the streets of South Beach all alone, perhaps eventually lining up shots with this big guy in a mushroom hat who was wheeling his boom box around town. Although that guy already had a sidekick, so maybe I just would have ordered room service. Luckily, we don’t have to wonder about that, because I was safely tucked into a bar stool with my real friends, wondering how on earth my glass of champagne kept refilling itself. Magical.

Rob felt better on Sunday and managed to actually leave the room, which thrilled the hotel’s housekeeping unit, who had called a couple of times to ask if they could please just come in and tidy up after us. I wish more people called me and asked questions like that.

So, aside from the diseased man in the hotel room and a little bit of rain, I would call it a successful trip. You just can’t have a bad time when you’re away from work in 75 degree weather—unless of course, you are quarantined in a hotel room with no appetite, no movie channel and rabid housekeepers pounding down the door.

In keeping with our recent disorganization surrounding vacations, we brought a camera but took no pictures. Which really bums me out when I remember how hilarious Rob looked in his tie-dyed hotel robe.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

In search of good weather

We are leaving for Miami in the morning. For five days!! Chat and Nina are coming, too, and all day I've been like a little kid, so excited that I don't even think I'll sleep well tonight. I'm not always like this before trips, and I can't figure out what's different about this.

But Rob got sick today. Bad timing. He's been sleeping most of the evening, but the following conversation is proof to me that he's feeling better.

Rob: These are the only two pairs of shoes I'm bringing on the trip. [holds them up in front of me.] What do you think about that?

Me: I don't have a thought about that.

Rob: It's awesome. BAM!

Denial is the first stage of grief

The Republican party is folding in on itself, aided by their celebrity conservative contingency. Newsweek’s cover story this week was about how the far right wing is so repulsed by McCain that they would do anything (including Ann Coulter saying she would stump for Hillary Clinton if McCain is the candidate) to keep him from the White House.

Newsweek says “It seems possible that the conservative movement—the dominant force in American politics since the Reagan Revolution—has become so dogmatic that it might choose purity over victory.”

And purity’s poster boy is apparently the evolution-eschewing, Jesus-loving, Freebird-playing Huckaburger.

Good luck with that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Deepish Thoughts pre-Valentine’s Day

I have successfully been ignoring Valentine’s Day for years, usually with no argument from whichever significant other I was with at the time. I think the last time I really celebrated it was in high school, when I gave my boyfriend-of-4-months homemade cookies with M&Ms and he gave me…a Victoria’s Secret gift card for $30.

This did not go over well with my family.

My grandma actually asked me if the idea was that I was supposed to buy something sexy and then try it on for him. There’s a conversation I never want to have again. Just writing that makes me cringe, in fact. And, in his defense, he was pretty clueless about the entire exchange of gifts. The gift card had been his mother’s suggestion. I could see the inappropriateness of it even then, and the whole thing was awkward between the two of us. He sort of threw the card at me and I think I ended up buying some lotion with it.

Another charming thing my grandma once said to me when I was a sophomore in high school, since we’re on the subject: I was wearing a different boyfriend’s letter jacket, feeling oh-so-cool, and she looked me up and down and said “What did you have to do to get that?”

It’s so endearing when your grandma thinks you’re a total floozy and isn’t afraid to talk about it.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Delegates. Not so super.

We are staying on politics for one more day. It was either this or talk about the Jackie Hoffman show I saw tonight, which included the hilarious song "You're not Buddhist, you're Jewish" and the Valentine's Day-inspired "Stop making out in front of me."

A tough one. But in the end, my dislike of superdelegates won out. The whole concept is at odds with the idea of democracy. One candidate could win the popular vote in a state primary and when the super delegates enter the picture, they can--boop!--change the outcome of that state's vote. [Yes, boop! is the official sound of change.]

Why do we need delegates anyway? The message is that my vote isn't worth as much as theirs and that the idea of the popular vote is just a bedtime story. Go ahead, cast your votes, kids. They totally matter. Unless, you know, we think you're making the wrong decision. Shhh. Would you like a snack?

Worth noting: Superdelegates came into being after the 1980 election. Hardly a historical concept. There are currently 796 superdelegates in the Democratic National Convention. When the victorious candidate needs 2,025 delegates to win, the number 796 seems a little LARGE. The Republican party does not have superdelegates.

Here is what Wikipedia (Source of all Truths) says about delegates and their superfriends (emphasis is mine):

Delegates supporting each candidate are chosen in approximate ratio to their candidate’s share of the vote. In some states, the delegates so chosen are legally required to vote for the candidate to whom they are pledged, at least on the first ballot at the convention. By contrast, the superdelegates are seated based solely on their status as current or former elected officeholders and party officials. They are free to support any candidate for the nomination, although many of them have publicly announced endorsements.

Wow, I have a problem with nearly all of this. SOME states legally require their delegates to stick with the candidate they pledged support for? Superdelegates are free to do whatever they want, regardless of their constituents? Let's call this what it is then...Damn, I don't have a word for it. It's not a democracy, though.

CNN estimates that Clinton has the support of nearly twice as many superdelegates as Obama. If the decision comes down to the superdelegates, and there is a very real possibility that it will, it's not going to go over well with the millions of people in America who so foolishly thought that their votes would really count.

But hey, give them a snack. Maybe they'll forget.

More on the superness:
CNN's Q&A about delegates.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Katie Couric digs deep(ish) on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes had the Democratic presidential candidates on the show tonight. Steve Croft interviewed Barack Obama and Katie Couric interviewed Hillary Clinton. It was noteworthy how different the interviews were. While Croft asked questions about Iraq and negative campaigning, there was a moment in the Couric interview when I thought she might ask if she could brush Clinton's hair. Unable to shake off the discrepancy, Rob and I watched both interviews again and I recorded the questions.

Being that neither of us is a political/media analyst, these results are certainly questionable. But see what you think. Our conclusion was that of the 15 questions posed to Obama, 11 were about political issues or campaign strategy. Of the 23 questions asked of Clinton, 10 were about political issues or campaign strategy.

What I wonder is whether this is about the interviewers and the way they approached their assignments or whether the Clinton campaign requested that Hillary be asked softer, more "humanizing" questions.

I wish we had a political/media analyst living in the house with us. They could share the couch with Rob's PR person.

Note that these questions are not all verbatim, but I believe I am representing the gist of what the interviewer was asking. Issue/strategy questions are bold:

Croft interviews Obama:

1. Do you still consider yourself the underdog?
2. Regarding experience and your resume...some people would say the only thing you’ve run is the Harvard law review. {issues}
3. When you say you want change, you mean change from the Bush family…and the Clinton family? {issues}
4. What’s the biggest difference between you and Senator Clinton? {issues}
5. You talk a lot about big ideas. There’s been a complaint about your campaign that you’re not specific enough. {strategy}
6. What do you think is going on in Iraq right now? {issues}
7. With American casualties and violence down in Iraq, do you still think now is the right time to set a timetable for withdrawal? {issues}
8. So, regardless of the situation, even with sectarian violence, you would withdraw? {issues}
9. Why do you think you’re the best choice to beat McCain? {strategy}
10. You believe that Senator Clinton would galvanize the Republican party…against her? {strategy}
11. There’s been nastiness in the campaign and there will probably be more. Is there a point at which you go to the closet and pull out Clinton’s skeletons? {strategy}
12. Are you the same person you were a year ago? {personal}
13. I know you’re getting only 2-3 hours of sleep. [question essentially was, how do you handle it?] {personal}
14. [Obama mentions exercise in the morning being important] Playing basketball? {personal}
15. Did you play basketball on Super Tuesday? {personal}

Couric interviews Clinton:

1. Have you grappled with the idea that it could be him and not you? {personal}
2. Even in your deepest darkest moments when you’re exhausted? You have to once in a while think like that. {personal. And kind of annoying.}
3. How do you do it? I’m talking about pure stamina. {personal}
4. Having said that, do you pop vitamins, do you mainline coffee? {personal}
5. There are two schools of thought. One is the big crowds don’t necessarily translate into votes. The other is that this is a movement that’s just getting started and the more Obama is at it, the bigger it’s going to get. {strategy}
6. Do you like Barack Obama? {personal and, I'm sorry, this is not a good question. What does Couric THINK Clinton is going to say?}
7. Not one scintilla of bad blood between you now? {personal}
8. I understand when he joined the senate he came to you for advice and you told him to work hard and keep a low profile. He didn’t keep a low profile, did he? {I don’t know what this question is. Rhetorical?}
9. Do you think the media have treated you the same way they’ve treated Senator Obama? [strategy? This is iffy, plus Clinton’s answer that the media is “tough on her” didn’t exactly further the conversation.}
10. Tougher on you than on Senator Obama? {strategy again, since it’s the same question.}
11. You’ve said “I’ve been through the Republican attacks and I’ve been vetted.” Cynics have suggested that you’re insinuating a big deep dark secret in Obama’s past that will be unveiled by a GOP attack machine. {strategy}
12. Are you saying he couldn’t handle it? {strategy}
13. Why are you so often seen as polarizing? {strategy}
14. Senator Obama told Steve Croft that you represent the status quo. {Oh no he di-int! Issues}
15. [Clinton brings up the deficit that Bush got us into] A deficit that’s been caused largely by a war that you authorized? {issues}
16. If Iraq descends into an all-out civil war, will you reassess the plan to pull out? {issues}
17. President Clinton described your dad as tough and gruff. I’ve read that when you brought home stellar grades, he said you must be going to an easy school. That must have been so demoralizing! {personal. And I had to add the exclamation point. It was so clear in Couric's voice. I swear, during parts of this interview, you would think they were having a sleepover.}
18. Do you think he [your father] would still be saying you can do better? {personal}
19. What were you like in high school? Were you the girl in the front row taking meticulous notes and raising your hand? {personal}
20. Someone told me your nickname in school was Ms Frigidaire. Is that true? {personal. Whoa.}
21. When you say you’re looking forward to President Clinton’s advice and counsel, a co-presidency comes to mind and some people aren’t too keen on that. {issues}
22. What do you see yourself doing if this doesn’t work out? {personal}
23. [Clinton says that she is Senator and would stay in that position.] So, you’d be fine with that? {personal}

I would like to thank Rob for his contributions to this post. And for asking his PR person to sleep on the couch.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Misunderstanding lyrics

I was listening to REM this morning and had a sudden fond memory of my youngest brother singing along to Green when I became obsessed with it as a teenager. He was 7 and had trouble with some of the lyrics.

Michael Stipe [Pop Song 89]: Should we talk about the weather? hi, hi, hi. Should we talk about the government? hi, hi, hi.

Paul [dancing around the dining room table, probably with a recent buzz cut]: Shouldn’t talk about the weather. ay, yi yi. Shouldn’t talk about the weatherman. ay, yi yi.

For other misunderstood lyrics, check out

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Positively 23rd Street

Last night as I was walking home down 23rd Street, I passed a long line of people barricaded off along the sidewalk near the curb. They had folding chairs and many were eating takeout. The line seemed to extend to the doors of a comedy club, but the marquee said nothing that would explain the presence of the group. I promptly forgot about it as my walk continued, my attention drawn to other things, like whether random people who appeared to be talking to themselves were on cell phones or just crazy, what movies were playing at Clearview Cinemas, and whether I wanted to eat peanut butter & jelly for dinner or something slightly more adult (I chose pb&j.)

It rained.

This morning, again walking down 23rd (which really is an ugly street), I saw that the people were still there, with their folding chairs, sleeping bags, and papers that they appeared to be signing and handing to someone with a clipboard. They were out there all night in the rain. Now I wanted to know why. What could be so important that these people would willingly spend time streetside on a big noisy thoroughfare in gross weather?

The marquee had my answer this time. Last Comic Standing auditions. There were news cameras everywhere and people were acting like major breaking news was happening here. I guess with Super Tuesday behind them, the local stations are short on action. On the plus side for the funny hopefuls, there’s probably lots of material to be found during a night on the street in NYC.

Closer to work, near Madison Square Park, I observed a commercial being filmed. A woman in heels faced the cameras and said, “Watch The People’s Court” in an authoritative tone. It was that Judge…you know…

Can this be considered an eventful walk to work? Usually, I just see the business crowd, people handing out AM New York, and a couple of guys who look like heroin addicts.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Hostess of Spices

Yesterday we went to Nina and Chat’s to watch the Superbowl. Because Nina does not eat meat, it was our first ever vegetarian football party. And I did not miss chicken wings, fingers, breasts, or toes at all. Nina made enchiladas and black beans that were seriously so spicy that I took down half my glass of wine before going back for more because they were delicious. The kind of delicious that makes you embrace the burning sensation as just part of the experience.

This happened to me once before when I was eating a spicy papaya noodle salad in Thailand and despite the fact that my lips were swelling to an alarming size, I ate the whole thing. Because I love a side of pain with my entree, apparently, and no one can stop me from enjoying it.

Someone asked her for the recipe, but of course she didn’t have one, because really good vegetarian cooks just know what to do with spices. I mean, I like cooking and I enjoy spice, but I don’t believe I have ever had that eureka moment in the kitchen where I’m like, “You know what this chicken toe needs? Coriander.”

Friday, February 1, 2008

Rob's Announcement

Rob held a press conference last night (attendees: me, Smokey, Emma) to announce that he will be hiring a PR person in order to control what is posted about him on this blog. Said PR person will hand out weekly talking points, accompany us wherever we go, and also maybe help with the cooking (this was my contribution to the requests portion of the press conference.)

Sleeping arrangements remain undetermined.