Thursday, May 26, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter 4

Okay, so first, a note: The characters, places, and situations created for the Baby-Sitters Club series are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic. (If they were mine, you know Karen Brewer would be an "actress" waiting tables in New York by now.) Everything that isn't real life and isn't Ann M.'s is mine, and if you violate my copyright, I will cut you. On with the show.

In our last episode, Jessi woke up really... tired.

Chapter 4.

Ohhh crap.

Every part of my body was sore, starting with a pounding ache at the top of my head. I’d never been much of a partier. Okay, I’d never been a partier at all. Hamilton College wasn’t really known for its ragers, and I’d always ducked out of the writing salons when the absinthe came out. So this feeling of blurriness, bleariness, and all-over crappiness was unfamiliar and unpleasant. I blamed Stacey. At that point, I wasn’t entirely sure why I blamed Stacey, but I was pretty sure she was at fault.

Stretching an entire body full of aching muscles, I rolled over to bury my face in the pillow and block out the sunlight cutting between the curtains. I couldn’t do that. I was stopped by something very large and very warm.

My eyes snapped open, and I barely noticed the pain shooting to the back of my brain because there was a man in my bed. Looking around the room, I was comforted to see that we were in a hotel room and thus it wasn’t actually my bed, but there was still a man in it. He was bare from the waist up—at the very least—revealing a rather nice set of back and shoulder muscles, but I couldn’t muster the courage to peek under the sheets and see if any other muscles were exposed. I peeked at myself, though. I was definitely completely exposed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter 3

Okay, so first, a note: The characters, places, and situations created for the Baby-Sitters Club series are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic. (If they were mine, you know Cokie Mason would have her own show on Fox News by now.) Everything that isn't real life and isn't Ann M.'s is mine, and if you violate my copyright, I will cut you. On with the show.

In our last episode, the girls reunited over Mexican food and a lot of tequila.

Chapter 3.

Ohhh shit.

Opening my eyes was physically painful. I think my mascara glued my eyelids shut. And then I got them open, and I had to close them again, because there was just a little bit of light coming in between the curtains and it felt like it was melting my corneas. So I had to do that about three times. And then, when I finally got my eyes open, I could see that I wasn’t in my hotel room. It was a hotel room, but not mine. And nothing I could remember from the night before was telling me whose room it was.

When the bathroom door opened, I seriously gave thought to jumping off the couch and running out of the room. But it was Claudia, which answered the question of whose room I was in and also answered why I felt like I’d been run over by a truck.

I’ll tell you: I’m used to pain. I’ve sprained almost every joint in my body. I don’t have any of my original toenails. I once dislocated a rib—I didn’t even know that ribs got dislocated. Have you ever taken a full-body ice bath? I have. But nothing—nothing—compared to the misery of waking up with a hangover after partying with Claudia Kishi.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

On the Fourth Amendment (we hardly knew ye)

Okay, so the police get to come into your home whenever they want, for whatever reason. If you got up to go to the bathroom or make a sandwich and missed that, I'll repeat it: The police get to come into your home whenever they want, for whatever reason. This new and exciting twist to our Fourth Amendment comes as a gift from our very own U.S. Supreme Court, who decided in an 8-to-1 ruling that the suspicion that evidence is being destroyed inside is sufficient cause for the police to enter without a search warrant.

Before I continue: At no point during the discussion of this development will I accept or even debate the argument "If you're not doing anything illegal, you don't have to worry." I do have to worry, and I get to worry. My constitutional protection from unreasonable search and seizure doesn't come with the condition that I not be doing anything naughty inside--it's absolute, and the only acceptable exception involves the serious consideration of a judge followed by a search warrant. I may be doing something legal but private inside--crafting a politically controversial manifesto, writing deeply disturbing fiction with terrorist fantasies and deviant sexual themes, dressing up in a rubber suit and touching myself in front of Mythbusters. If cops knock on my door and yell "Police, police, police," hear scuffling inside, and charge in to find me sumo wrestling naked in my living room with a grown man dressed like a baby, that's not okay. Adult baby sumo isn't illegal, but it's a rather private activity and not something that anyone gets to see if I don't want them to.*

(NB: Top search terms for this blog are fixing to get bizarre.)

Monday, May 16, 2011

On Mashup Monday: True romance edition

Okay, so I'm a romantic at heart. All you need is love. Love is all you need. I don't believe that there's any particular "one" for everyone, but my feeling is that out of 6,775,235,700 people (and counting) on the planet, pure statistics say there's probably at least one person out there who'll be prove entertaining, fulfilling, and tolerable. Which raises the obvious question: Why have Debbie Harry and John Mayer never recorded a duet together?

Norwegian Recycling/Take That/Usher/John Mayer/a bunch of folks - Recycled Romance

Those crazy kids. You know, The Boy and I are together because of a pair of skilled and knowledgeable matchmakers. Maybe some people just need a good nudge. (And John, maybe a little less frank and racially-tinged discussion of your nethers with national nudie mags--good advice for us all, really.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter 2

Okay, so first, a note: The characters, places, and situations created for the Baby-Sitters Club series are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic. (If they were mine, you know someone would have told Mr. and Mrs. Pike where babies come from by now.) Everything that isn't real life and isn't Ann M.'s is mine, and if you violate my copyright, I will cut you. On with the show.

In our last episode, Mary Anne and Dawn had a rather awkward reunion.

Chapter 2.
Mary Anne.

Los Sombreros hadn’t changed even a little bit. It was comforting. We even managed to track down our old table—still all the way in the back, to the right—and do our best to cram ourselves around it. It seemed to work better when we were teenagers, either because we were smaller then or because we had no problem piling into each other’s laps. I think our record might have been eleven, including boyfriends and one visiting cousin, which involved a lot of squeezing and stacking.

Of course, it had all started with just the four of us—Kristy, Claudia, Stacey, and me—brought together by what Kristy still insists on calling her Big Idea (capital B, capital I): a club of baby-sitters. A baby-sitters club, if you will. From an entrepreneurial standpoint, it was brilliant: Call one phone number and quadruple your chances of finding an available baby-sitter, if you weren’t squeamish about leaving your kids under the supervision of a thirteen-year-old. Over time—and in response to increasing demand—we expanded: Dawn came in when she moved to town, and Mallory and Jessi joined as junior members for parents who didn’t mind leaving their kids under the supervision of eleven-year-olds. More came and went over time, but this group, these seven girls, was the real thing.

At the head of our table sat, not unexpectedly, Kristy Thomas, who was staring down the length of the table as if assessing the chip-basket-to-diner ratio and finding it lacking. She had been the president of the club, if for no other reason than her own insistence, and I can’t say she didn’t carry the role well. No one I’ve met has had a better sense of organization, a stronger drive, or a louder voice. Or her own bullhorn. The third of four children and the only girl, Kristy was left to more or less fend for herself after her father bailed and her mother had to go back to work, and I think it left her with a bit of a chip on her shoulder, even after her mother remarried and Kristy suddenly acquired a larger and more complexly blended family.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

On Baby-Sitters Club Super Mystery #last: Chapter 1

Okay, so first, a note: The characters, places, and situations created for the Baby-Sitters Club series are the property of Ann M. Martin and Scholastic. (If they were mine, you know Logan Bruno would have two illegitimate kids by now.) Everything that isn't real life and isn't Ann M.'s is mine, and if you violate my copyright, I will cut you. On with the show.

In our last episode... nothing really happened, because it was the prologue.

Chapter 1.
Mary Anne.

I’d dusted the living room three times, which was three-times ridiculous: I hated dusting, Dawn wouldn’t care, and we never used that room anyway. But I had to do something. I was excited—not unusual for me—about seeing Dawn for the first time in over a year. And I was nervous—definitely not unusual for me—about seeing Dawn for the first time since Dad and Sharon separated.

The front door opened, and I spun around.

My stepmother Sharon flew in like a tornado of shopping bags and dry cleaner’s plastic. Her huge purse, bags, and dry cleaning went on the dining room table, but she carefully hung her garment bag on the top of the doorframe. That was going to have to come down before Dad got home.

“Hey, Sharon,” I said.

She jumped a little. “Um, hey, Mary Anne.” Awkward silence. “Dawn not here yet?”

“Nope. There was some weather over the Midwest, so her flight has probably been delayed.”

My best friend and stepsister Dawn—my onetime best friend and current stepsister—was supposed to be in from California any minute now. It was strange to think that we’d been friends for more than half my life, and now I was worried about us liking each other.

On the new, improved dogs of war

Okay, so cry “Havoc,” and what is let slip will fuck your shit directly up. Meet the Navy SEAL dogs, every bit as badass as their human counterparts and twice as anerable. These fuzzy sonsabitches can sniff out bombs and baddies, parachute from high altitudes, take out targets with their armor-piercing titanium teeth (a bit much, I admit), and warm the ever-living fuck out of your feet on a cold night.

Yes, part of me is of the opinion that a dog’s job should, if at all possible, involve no more stress or danger than rug burn from all the rolling around and tummy rubs—then again, I feel that way about people, too. But as highly trained military teammates go, you can’t do a lot better than an armored, night-vision German Shepherd. And the image of a SEAL pup strapped to a dude’s chest as he rappels into Osama bin Laden’s compound and sniffs the bastard out makes me both awed and tickled, particularly when it’s followed by the image of that same dog wallering around in the yard and then getting a cookie.

The United States War Dogs Association is working to get war medals for these cuddly commandos, which is cool since they take just as much risk as two-legged soldiers and the humans don’t have to attack bad guys using just their teeth. And you can even send the dogs care packages, since warrior dogs like Kongs, too. (No, really, apparently they do.) Now you’ll have to excuse me, because I feel it’s time to cuddle the hell out of Dave, who would make an excellent war dog except that he’s never shown any kind of aggression at all, he has a tendency to lick strangers, he’s solely food-motivated, he hates water, and his huge Tina Turner tail would immediately give away his location. Otherwise, though, he’s an animal.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

On a world west of the Chattahoochee

Okay, so I hate to dwell—what am I talking about? I love to dwell—but that Gawker post got my back up, and I found myself doing something I wouldn’t have thought I’d be doing five years ago: defending Alabama.

When my brother started doing some freelancing for a newspaper in Phenix City and eventually moved to Birmingham to work for UAB, he got the crap teased out of him, because Alabama was this kind of backward, redneck, cousin-kissing cultural black hole that thanked God for Mississippi for protecting them from the bottom of every list except obesity. Then I moved here in 2006. And it’s actually kind of awesome.

Now I get just as frustrated as Doug did when I get the hick jokes from people who have never actually been here. My personal policy is that whenever I hear someone making a generalization about a region, I think back to whether I’ve ever seen that same generalization in a movie. If I have, I take the sentiment with a grain of salt. (Example: Sweet Home Alabama is not a wholly accurate depiction of Alabama. Does it get some things right? Oh, hell yes. But it’s a comedy, not a travelogue. Also: not filmed in Alabama.) Another example: Defending your derision of people trying to help disaster victims with healthy food by insinuating that these hick rubes are too dumb to appreciate it or know what to do with it anyway.

So to the Gawkerites who believe what they see in Talladega Nights: Tuscaloosa is a college town with a top-50 public university. Birmingham is the financial center of the state with one of the top-ranked research and clinical health systems in the country. Huntsville is home to the space program. And all of those little flattened communities between? The ones you’d probably never heard of before but seem to know so much about now? Though rural, they really did have indoor plumbing, internal combustion engines, Super Wal-Mart, books, TV, and schools that go past sixth grade. So if you want an excuse to push off some Soviet-era dreck in an unmarked can on desperate people, you’re going to need something better than “let on their own, people in rural Alabama wouldn’t know what to do with a can of salmon.”

Alabama is not a stupid state. Conservative, frequently. Often stubborn. Sometimes prone to listening to dumb things and ignoring smart ones. But this dogmatic, intellectually incurious, ignorant hicksville that people—non-Southern people, non-Alabamians who need something to look down on—are creating for themselves is bullshit, and screw you for making me point that out.

NB: Feel like being part of the solution? Show Uncle Dad, Larry Wayne, and all the other slack-jawed yokels you care by donating food and other crucial material goods.

On nonperishable food snobs

Okay, so if I know one thing about the hundreds upon hundreds of victims left without any form of shelter or source of food by the mile-wide tornado that scored a 200-mile path across the Southeast, it’s that they deserve the absolute shittiest shit you can give them in donated food. Three-year-old Chef Boyardee? Bam. Whatever’s in that can with the label off? Go for it. Beans? More beans? Who doesn’t love more beans?!

And how do I know it’s wrong to offer healthy food to people standing next to the rubble of their own lives? Because the awesome folks at Gawker let me know.
Sure, you’ve lost everything and your entire town has been obliterated by one of the most devastating series of tornadoes in history. Doesn’t mean you can’t still eat smart, local and organic!

Magic City Post, a lifestyles website from Birmingham, offers “25 ideas for non-perishable items that will provide high-quality proteins, good carbs and health fats.” It’s just something to consider when you’re loading up that box of canned food to bring to the shelter.

Gawker’s Seth Abramovitch, who I’m sure came all the way down to ‘Bama to take those disaster pictures himself, because he’s obviously just busting out with concern, offers a mockable short list of items in his post. A few others that he seemed to miss:
1. Canned or pouched tuna
2. Canned salmon
3. Canned chicken
4. Canned black beans
5. Canned chickpeas or lentils
8. Smart Balance or natural peanut butter
13. Shelf-stable milk
14. Oatmeal and grits
17. Herbs, spices and spice blends
18. Canola, olive, flax seed (linseed) or peanut oil
19. Lundberg’s Rice Chips and Chip’ins Popcorn Chips
20. Minute white rice
21. Raisins and other dried fruit
22. Olive oil, mayonnaise and other condiments
23. Wheat crackers

Look at those stupid, pretentious foodies, trying to give people... healthy proteins. And milk. And dried fruit. And rice. And oil and seasonings and condiments to make their nourishment a little less bland. Those... bastards?

Monday, May 02, 2011

On Mashup Monday: Hope edition

Okay, so news gets worse, not better. There's a point where miraculous discoveries are made and every crumbled house is a potential gift. Then there's a point where that's not realistic and every house contains either nothing or worse. It sounds fatalistic and depressing, I know, particularly coming from someone who didn't have as much as a broken window from the weather, but the death toll topped 300 today and it's just a lot.

K'naan/Matisyahu/Akon/Michael Jackson/The Fugees - Songs of Hope

God bless the families and friends who've lost loved ones, the ones still working for loved ones, and the volunteers trying to help make it better.