The Case of the Missing Ideas - Part V

For the previous four posts, CLICK HERE. Otherwise this will make no sense whatsoever.

I was thrilled when Jackie-O called to say he finally had a way for me to pay off my debt to him. He'd been holding that damned obligation over my head for four years, seven months, and...what is it 11? No, 12 days now - but who's counting?

For over four and a half years I had to live in that rat-trap of an apartment above Consuela's Liquor Emporium and Pet Store to make it look like I didn't have a dime to my name. If he knew I was worth anything he would have asked me to do alot more than just get a little info out of Dickie Science, and he'd have had the right to too after what he did for me. But my legs wouldn't look like this forever. A girl's got to look out for and provide for herself. I learned that the hard way from Marty. Maybe Jackie'd have asked me for more, much more. Maybe he'd have wanted me to put him through college so he could get a doctorate on those Ulster-Americans he was always going on about. If the only program offered was in Botswana, it would have been worth the tuition plus a one-way ticket. There's actually a guy in Botswana who owes ME a favor for teaching him to speak fluent English through a series of Dolly Parton tapes I'd given him.

Don't get me wrong. I know I owe Jackie a lot, heck, more than a lot. And I know he deserves more than some lousy information I can get for him in the blink of a Tourette patient's eye. It's just that I'm not the overly appreciative type. I've lived in this dump all the while squirreling money away into investments in the foreign market - orange textiles mainly - and it paid off. It paid off big once orange was finally recognized as "the new black." But I earned it. I earned it myself. As I see it, the years of living squalor were payment enough for anything - even murder. Besides, even though I knew in my gut Jack would probably not have asked for anything more extravagant than a few grand in gin and threads, Rev. Transit would definitely have other ideas for my money if he knew I had it.

I rummaged through my purse past the orange-knit holster and matching billfold Dickie's aunt had given me to find my keys. Aunt Charlie was blind as a bat but she knew my favorite color, even if she'd never actually seen it. She must have had someone pick out the color of the yarn, but I was certain she picked out the skein - it was soft as kitten fur. Made me want to learn to knit just so I could run it through my fingers for hours on end. When all this was done, maybe I would.I entered my apartment to find Aethelred waiting for me. He led me to his empty food dish as I shed my coat and dropped it and my purse onto the only chair in the place. I was scooping Iams into his dish when the phone rang. I may have to eat Kraft Mac and Cheese and Ramen noodles - diet of champion college students everywhere - to keep up the appearance of being poor as dirt if Jack dropped in unexpectedly, but my Aethelred would eat a proper diet. It was worth the risk. Besides, the Iams bag was orange. I liked to have as much of that color around me as possible to physically brighten my world until I could escape my current predicament and do so spiritually. At least my legs would score me the occasional dinner at a restaurant where I could get a vegetable in me that wasn't fried.

I lit up a cigarette, poured myself a scotch and let the machine get it. I hated scotch, but liked the sound of it. Scotch. Sounds like it should be sweet, smooth, warm and tasty, like liquid butterscotch. Every time I take a sip I expect it to taste like the most heavenly ambrosia. Every time I take a sip I'm shocked by the horrible reality and have to squeeze my eyes shut to keep them from tearing and ruining my mascara. I walked over to the couch, kicked off my shoes, and dropped myself backwards over the arm without spilling a drop. It was all I could do not to grab the receiver in the middle of my mom's message and tell her the good news - not only was her daughter going to be moving out of "that scary neighborhood full of hoodlums and prostitutes" in a few days - 4 at most - but I'd be taking her with me somewher nice. Maybe Oxford. We'd both be living like queens. She'd find out just in time for her birthday.

I took a sip of my scotch and was brought back to earth with a grimace. I had work to do. This detective might be more clever than his looks led me to believe. One of the degrees on the wall behind his desk was from MIT, and it wasn't the novelty kind you buy in a Cambridge gift shop. It was held in the most simple frame in an inconspicuous part of the wall underneath and to the right of a gaudily framed online degree printed from a shady forensic studies website. I thought about the information Jackie wanted me to gather from him and caught myself becoming intrigued with Dickie Science, which rattled me. I'd never met him before, only his aunt, and I'd only visited her accompanied by Jack. Maybe I'd have to pay her a visit on my own sometime soon. I mentally invisioned my calendar and pencilled in a visit with her in the following afternoon during Jack's regular racquetball workout.

Aethelred had finished eating, and I realized I was hungry. I also realized I didn't feel like macaroni and cheese.


Aethelred the Unready

"Wait a minute! Hold on! I'm not ready to be introduced yet.
Give a little back story first to stall em!"

It's been a hard fall/winter at the Shalene household. Two of our pets, our diva ferret Donnatella Versace and our amazing cat Oscar Wilde, passed away between Halloween and Thanksgiving after fighting adrenal and liver cancer, respectively. Our remaining two ferrets, Umberto Eco and Max, both have recently developed cancer (adrenal and pancreatic, respectively), although Max's is further along. If ferrets live long enough, they'll get one of two cancers: pancreatic ("insulinoma") or adrenal ("adrenal"). Although he's doing very well now, (better than he has in months, in fact! YAY!), we thought Max a goner on Thursday night when he started convulsing at about 2AM. Once again, our amazing vet, Dr. Byron de la Navarre, his partner-in-veterinary care wife Tracey, and their wonderful staff quickly assessed the situation on Friday morning and sent us home with a regimen and realistic expectations. We expect to have Max for anywhere from a few months to a year or more depending on whether his cancer is benign or malignant, and Umberto will be around even longer than that. We just can't move too far away from the Animal House of Chicago any time soon.

We decided that for once we'd like to be sent home with a slap on the shoulder and a hearty "See you in a year!" That's why, though we've both always only adopted stray cats, we decided this time to buy a kitten through a breeder.

Meet Aethelred:

Aethelred waving "Hi!" to y'all with his ginormous polydactyl paw.

Both Shannon and I have been enchanted by Maine Coon cats for years. They grow to be between 18-25 pounds. They're soft. They're playful. They fetch. They think they're puppies. They have cool lynx-like ears and big fluffy tails. They chirp and chatter. They just seem like really cool, fun pets. Since Shannon actually grew up in Maine with polydactyl cats, buying a polydactyl Maine Coon also gives a nod and a grin to his heritage.

Besides, "polydactyl" sounds close to "pteradactyl" which is totally cool to my dork self. I mean, put some webbing between those toes and he can totally fly!

Apparently the paws of polydactyl Maine Coons develop first,
which explains why they're each twice the size of his head

Although we haven't officially named our new cat, we're referring to him as Aethelred (Ethel-red), and it'll probably stick. Unless we meet him and he turns out to be more of a "Bob" or "Duane."

"I have six claws on each paw and I'm not afraid to use them.
All's I'm saying is, don't call me 'Duane.'"

Aethelred the Unready was the king of England from 978-1016. He ascended to the throne at 10 and was surrounded by advisors who were hesitant to advise. Nobody, including him, liked to make decisions about things. He spent most of his reign fighting off viking raiders. One of the most effective methods he used was to throw mass quantities of silver at them to make them go away. We're giving our new kitty this name because 1) Shannon loves to give unusual cool names to his pets, and 2) it's medeival AND Anglo-Saxon! If it evoked an aura of orange it couldn't be more perfect for JoJo!

"Look at the silver on my nose! ....Why aren't you going away?"

We'll be picking up Aethelred from his breeder the first week of January. Only the anticipation of opening Christmas prezzies a week from now is keeping us from going absolutely mental from waiting! We can't wait to meet him!


OrangeMoJoJo-Friendly City

I was in Seattle for an exam administration and meeting marathon the week before Thanksgiving, and I'm JUST NOW posting about it. I think the unseasonably warm but wet and rainy weather of the last few days jarred my memory. There's not much to tell, really - I was sick with a vicious migraine during most of my free time, and stuck in the hotel for endless meetingsszzzzzzzzz when I wasn't at the nearby children's hospital to administer our exams the rest of the time. I did manage to get out a little bit, though, to take a quick peek 'round. What I did see I liked immensely. The weather reminded me of Cornwall - very windy and a constant pissing rain. The umbrella that has served me well over the past 8 years or so here in the so-called Windy City was flung inside-out within minutes of leaving the hotel, leaving me to brave the rain sans umbrella.

The first thing I noticed that struck me as awesome was the carpool lane on the expressway. You can only drive in the far left lane if you are travelling with at least one other person to encourage people to, well, carpool. I was stunned at how quickly we sped along passed 3-4 other lanes of nearly stopped traffic, one person per vehicle. The carpool lane even had its own exit so you didn't have to cut all the way across to the right. What an incentive to pick up a coworker on the way in to the office!

This was the third exam administration I'd been to. The first two were in Philly, which I loathed, and Pittsburgh, which really was nice, but incredibly boring. I was expecting to like Seattle from the reports I'd received from, well, everyone who'd ever been there, including my coworkers who have been there for previous exam administrations, and Evandebacle who sent me packing with a list of wide and varied restaurants to sample. I wasn't at all disappointed.

Unlike Philly, I felt safe outside of my hotel. There were no nasty smells permeating the streets, and the beggers who asked me for cash or food (one got a hot venti mocha) were friendly and non-threatening. One cabbie referred to them all as "harmless tree-hugging types," which made me feel badly about having given that one guy a mocha in a non-reusable cup.

Pike Place Market blew Philly's Reading Market out of the water, save for the whoopie pies. The original Starbucks was unremarkable, but the cheap seafood restaurant next door, Emmett Watson's, was wonderful. Their fried oysters put Davis Street Fish Market's oyster po-boys and cup of boston clam chowder, one of my all time favorite lunches, to shame, though I did miss Davis Street's yummy tater tots and slaw! The fries were only okay, but the oysters....*DROOOOOOOOOL!*

Also unlike Philly, I had no trouble finding a cab, ever, and the streets were much clearer of traffic (in Philadelphia's defense on this count, the streets of Philadelphia
were designed before the adventof the 3-HumVee/person era we now live in).

Orange Cab Company. This is one OrangeMoJoJo-friendly city!!

Unlike Pittsburgh, there is plenty to do after 5PM in Seattle. Again about the beggars, who were really aggressive and downright nasty in Pittsburgh.

We had a staff dinner at another seafood restaurant called Elliot's across from Pike Place Market a couple of nights before the exam started. A few of us had planned on walking there as it wasn't too far from our hotel, but it was just too cold and windy to do so so we grabbed a couple of cabs.

I was in the second cab with three of my coworkers sitting in the back, me up front with the driver. The driver and I hit it off immediately and chatted away for the entire 10-minute ride. He asked my name about halfway to the restaurant, and when I answered "Jolene," he burst into song a'la Dolly Parton (needless to say, I get this a lot). I promised him I had no intention of stealing his man, and after an initial fit of laughter he solemnly thanked me. He told me he first heard the song "Jolene" when he was growing up in Botswana. He knew not a word of English, but he knew every word of that song. Used to sing it while driving his camels. "I was a camel driver singing that song to my camels in Botswana, now I'm driving cabs in Seattle, singing that song to the real Jolene!" he laughed. He pulled up to the restaurant and I thanked him and bolted inside (it was CHILLY!) while one of my coworkers paid him. She came in to get me and said the cabbie would not leave until he said a proper goodbye to me. He was still waiting there when I came back out. He said it was a pleasure meeting me and shook my hand. "What time can I come back to pick you up? This weather is awful and I don't want you to have to wait for a cab. The real Jolene should not have to wait for a cab in this weather!"

Yeah, Seattle was pretty great. I just wish I'd gotten to see much more of it! Stupid debilitating migraine.


An Early Christmas Gift

Connie Willis (award-winning author of To Say Nothing of the Dog and The Doomsday Book) released a book of original Christmas carol some years ago called Miracle and Other Christmas Stories that I read at Shannon's suggestion last year. It is a wonderful book! In fact, I recommend all of her writing. She's fantastic. In her introduction to Miracle, Willis lists several of her favorite Christmas stories and movies. I was able to find and read all of the stories save one: PG Wodehouse's "Another Christmas Carol." I searched and searched for this evasive tale, and one day, late last November, I finally found it.

It was in the December, 1970 issue of
Playboy magazine.

I found a copy on EBay and the story was worth the S/H. I've transcribed it here (below) so you won't have to suffer the same embarrassment I did in receiving an suspiciously unmarked brown paper-wrapped magazine in the post.

Happy Early Holidays!


Another Christmas Carol
PG Wodehouse

Christmas Eve had come around again, as it so often does, and London was at its brightest. Garbage collectors whistled at their work, policemen sang, "'Noel, Noel,'" as they directed the traffic and one would not be far out in saying that happiness reigned supreme, except that Egbert Mulliner had got a funny feeling on the left side of his chest when he breathed. Probably nothing serious, but sufficiently funny to make him look in on Dr. Wilbraham Potter, an old school friend of his.

"And what can I do for you, Pudding?" asked Dr. Potter. It was a sobriquet that had been bestowed on Egbert at their mutual school, for even then his ample frame had invited criticism. He had started life a a bouncing baby, had grown into a bulbous boy, and was now, in his 42nd year, a man beneath whom weighing machines quivered like aspens. In common with all his ancestors, he had a passionate love of food; but while they had worked off their superfluous adipose tissue by jousting, going on crusades, dancing old English dances and what not, on him it had accumulated. Beside him, Orson Welles would have looked slender.

"I don't think it's anything much, Bill," he replied, "but I thought I had better get a medical opinion. It's a sort of pain....well, not a pain, exactly, more of a kind of funny feeling on the left side of my chest. It catches me when I breathe. What do you advise?"

"Stop breathing." said Dr. Potter, for at Chritsmastime, even Harley Street physicians like their little joke. "All right, let's have a look at you." "H'm," he said, the examination concluded. "Ha," he added and threw in another "H'm" for good measure. "Yes, just as I supposed. You're too fat."

This surprised Egbert. He had sometimes thought he might be an ounce or two overweight, but he would never have applied such an adjective to himself.

"Would you call me fat?"

"I'd go further. I'd call you grossly obese, and the fat's accumulating around your heart. We'll have to get at least twenty pounds off you. If we don't..."

"What happens if we don't?"

"All the bother and expense of buying wreaths and turning out for your funeral."

"Good heavens, Bill."

"It's no good saying 'Good heavens.' For a year, you've got to knoch off all starchy foods, all rich foods; in fact, it wouldn't be a bad idea if you knocked off food altogether."

It was a crushing blow, but there was good stuff in Egbert and he was prepared to follow doctor's orders. Though nothing could make such a regime agreeable, he was confident that he could go through with it. It was not as if he were not used to roughing it. Many a time he had attended cocktail parties where the supply of sausages on those little wooden sticks had given out while he was still hungry and a sort of reserve strength had pulled him through.

His upper lip was stiff as he left the consulting room. It remained so till he was on the street, when all the stiffening suddenly went out of it. He had remembered his Aunt Serena, with whom, as usual, he would be taking Christmas dinner the next day.

As regarded his Aunt Serena, he was curiously situated. As from boyhood up he had shown no signs of possessing any intelligence whatsoever, he had gravitated naturally to England's civil service, where all that was required of him was to drink tea at four o'clock and between lunch and four to do the
Times crossword puzzle. But though he could drink tea as well as the next man and had a gift for crossword puzzles, he did not really like being in his country's service, however civil. What he wanted was to buy a partnership in a friend's interiour-decorating firm, and this could only be done if Aunt Serena, who was extraordinarily rich, put up the money. He had often asked her to do so, but she had refused because she thought that haggling with customers about prices would bruise his gentle spirit.

He had planned to make an eloquent appeal to her after Christmas dinner, when she would be mellowed with food and drink; but how could he do that now? In what frame of mind would a touchy hostess, who prided herself on the lavishness of her hospitality, be to finance a nephew who refused every course of the banquet she had taken such pains to assemble? He would alienate her irretrievably as early as the soup course.

Two minutes later, he was back in Dr. Potter's consulting room, agitation written on every feature of his practically circular face.

"Listen, Bill," he said. "You were only kidding just now about that diet, weren't you?"

"I was not."

"Exaggerating, surely?"

"Not a bit."

"What would happen if I ate caviar, turtle soup, turkey, plum pudding, mince pies, biscuit tortoni, hot rolls with butter and crystallized fruit and drank a good deal of champagne, port, and liqueurs? Would I die?"

"Of course. But what a jolly death. Were you thinking of doing all that?"

"It's what I shall have to do when I have Christmas dinner at my aunt's. If I skip a single course, she will never speak to me again, and bang will go my interiour-decorator partnership," said Egbert, and, in the clear, concise way civil servants have, he explained the delicate position in which he found himself.

Dr. Potter listened attentively and, at the conclusion of the narrative, said, "H'm," added "Ha" and then said "H'm" again. "You're sure that your abstinence would offend this aunt of whom you speak?"

"She would never forgive me."

"Then you must get out of this dinner."

"I can't get out of it."

"You could if you had a good excuse."

"Such as?"

"She could hardly blame you if, for instance, you had contracted bubonic plague."

"But I haven't."

"That can be arranged. I can inject a serum into you that will give you all the bubonic plague your heart could desire."

Egbert weighed the suggestion. He appreciated its ingenuity, but nevertheless, he hesitated. There was something about it - he could not say what - that did not quite appeal to him. He sought further information.

"What's bubonic plague like?"

"In what sense do you use the word 'like?' It's just ann ordinary sort of plague."

"Is it painful?"

"I've never had it myself, but I'm told it gives you a sort of funny feeling."

"Don't you come out in spots?"

"I believe that is the usual procedure."

"And your nose drops off?"

"So they tell me."
Egbert shook his head.

"I don't think I'll have it."

"I could give you leprosy, if you prefer."

"No, thanks."

Dr. Potter clicked his tongue, annoyed. "You're a hard man to help," he said. "Well, it seems to me that the only thing you can do is have an accident."

"What sort of accident?"

"Get yourself run over by a taxicab."

"Yes, I suppose I could manage that. Have you ever been run over by a taxicab?"

"Dozens of times."

"Did it hurt?"

"Just a kind of tickling sensation."

Egbert mused awhile. "That does seem to be the best thing to do."

"Much the best. Your aunt couldn't expect you to have dinner with her if you were in the hospital. And no need to be actually run over. Just step into the street and stick a leg out. The charioteer will do the rest."


Christmas Day dawned with its sprinkling of snow, its robin redbreasts, and all the things one has been led to expect and, as it progressed, Egbert's determination to follow the doctor's advice became solidified. He was not altogether persuaded of the accuracy of his doctor's statement that getting mixed up with a taxicab caused merely a kind of tickling sensation, but even if the results were far worse, they must be faced.

As he walked to his aunt's house, he was encouraged to see that there was no stint of the necessary vehicles. They whizzed to and fro in dozens and to extend a leg in front of one of them would be a task well within the scope of the least gifted man. It was simply a matter of making a selection. He rejected the first that came along because he disliked the driver's mustache, the second because the cab was the wrong colour, and he was just about to step in front of a third, which met all his qualifications, when he paused with leg in air. He had suddenly remembered that his aunt's birthday was on February 11th, by which time he would be out of the hospital and expected as a guest at the dinner, fully equal to the one at Christmas, with which she always celebrated her natal day. Of course, it would be open to him to get knocked down by another taxicab on February the tenth; but if he yielded to this temptation, how would his superiours at the office react? Would they not shake their heads and say to one another, "Mulliner has got into a rut" and feel that an employee so accident-prone was better dispensed with? Nobody likes to have someone on the payroll who is always getting run over by taxicabs. It was a possibility that froze his feet and caused both his chins to tremble. If he lost his position, he would be penniless. He would not even be able to beg his bread on the streets, for his medical advisor had expressly forbidden him bread. Better, he decided, to be disowned by his aunt than by the civil-service authorities, so, abandoning all thought of taxicabs, he continued on his way to his aunt's residence and, coming to journey's end, exchanged greetings with her in her ornate drawing room.

He delivered his Christmas gift and, in return, she pressed into his hand an oblong slip of paper.

"The money for your partnership, dear," she said. "I was waiting till Christmas to let you have it."

The irony of it, the sort of thing Thomas Hardy was so fond of, smote Egbert like a blow between the eyes with a wet fish. Here he was, grasping the check for which he had yearned so long, and a fat lot of good it was going to do him, because the moment he failed to tuck into the caviar, the turtle soup, the turkey, the plum pudding, the mince pies, the bisquit tortoni, the hock, the champagne, the port and the liqueurs, she would be writing to her bank to stop payment on the check. However, though, in the grip of a dull despair, he forced himself to simulate gratitude.

"Dear Aunt Serena," he mumbled, "how can I thank you?"

"I thought you would be pleased, dear."

"Oh, I am."

"But now," she said, "I am afraid I have a little disappointment for you. About dinner tonight. Do you read a magazine called
Pure Diet and World Redemption?"

"Is that one that has all those pictures of girls without any clothes on?"

"No, that's
Playboy. I subscribe to that regularly. This one is all about vegetarianism. A copy was left here by mistake last week. I glanced at it idly and my whole outlook became changed. It said vegetarianism was an absolute vital essential prerequisite to a new order of civilization in which humanity will have become truly humane. I was profoundly impressed."

Egbert, as far as was possible for one of his stoutness, leaped in his chair. A wild thought had flashed into his mind, such as it was. Not even if he had been the victim of bubonic plague could the feeling he waws feeling have been funnier.

"Do you mean----"

"It said that only thus can there come peace on earth with a cessation of wars, the abolition of crime, disease, insanity, poverty and oppression. And you can't say that wouldn't be nice, can you, dear?"

"Do you mean," cried Egbert, "that you have become a vegetarian?"

"Yes, dear."

"There won't be any turkey tonight?"

"I'm afraid not."

"No turtle soup? No mince pies?"

"I know how disappointed you must be."

Egbert, who had leaped in his chair, sprang from it like some lissome adagio dancer, a feat against the performance of which any knowledgeable bookmaker would have given odds of at least 100 to 8. His nose quivered, his ears wiggled, his eyes, usually devoid of any expression whatsoever, shone like twin stars. He had not felt such a gush of elation since his seventh birthday, when somebody had given him a box of chocolates and he had devoured the top layer and supposed that was the end and then had found that there was a second layer underneath. He put his arm round his aunt's waist as far as it would go and kissed her fondly.

"Disappointed?" he said. "I couldn't be more pleased. If there's one thing I'm all for pushing along as much as possible, it's the cessation of wars and the abolition of crime, disease, insanity, poverty and oppression. I've just become a vegetarian myself. I wouldn't touch a turkey with a ten-foot pole. What shall we be having for dinner?"

"To start with, seaweed soup."

"Most nutritious."

"Then mock salmon. It is vegetable marrow colored pink."


"Followed by nut cutlets with spinach."


"And an orange."

"We split one?"

"No, one each."

"A positive orgy. God bless us, every one," said Egbert. He had a feeling that he had heard that before somewhere, but we cannot all be original and it seemed to him to sum up the situation about as neatly as a situation could be summed up.


Witch's Devil Gene Located!

Professional American witchfinders of the seventeenth century were introduced to a theory by a few budding witch-fearing scientists. These scientists proposed that a witch or a witch's familiar, though possibly flawless on the outside, must somehow be tainted with evil throughout every fiber of its being. They argued that since this evil was not immediately apparent, it must therefore be invisible to the naked eye, microscopic, and yet, if strong enough instuments could be made so that one could magnify any bit of a witch's tissue, it would be found that every fiber of it's loathsome being was tainted and seething with repulsive evil.

These ideas ("Microscopic thingies?!?!?!? It's not natural to think such thoughts!") brought immediate suspicion upon those who presented them. They were promptly arrested, painfully tortured for extended lengths of time, and burned.

Three hundred years later, brave theorist Sonotmu has uncovered their lifes' work. Testing a few bits of skin and hair from known witch Ann Coulter, Sonotmu found the following gene anomoly:

The newly identified withes gene hexe-666

Ann Coulter seducing ultra-conservatives from her animal print-themed coven space.
If you look closely at her hands (shown below), you'll see her beauty is but a wickedly cast glamour:

Frightened but thrilled by the implications, Sonotmu then went on to aquire samples of tissue from others he suspected were witches. After recovering from an extended stay in the hospital after trying to acquire a bit of skin from the padding of his sleeping wife's palm, he completed his work on the human variety of devil's servants. He then went on to test suspected witch's familiars like feral cats, rats, toads and Teddy Ruxpin.

Suspected familiar, Grimalkin, moments before he was caught as a suspected familiar. "It's the eyes," he said, exhaling a puff of smoke from his cigarette. "I got this buildup of this green devilgene gunk in my eyes. I tried sunglasses once, but oddly, that attracted even more attention."

The Bush administration is feverishly working around the clock to develop a way to test for the witch's gene, hexe-666. All U.S. citizens will be required to test at their designated testing center by December 31, 2006. Anyone refusing to be tested "is obviously hiding something and will be burned promptly, decapitated, then buried in unhallowed ground," says Bush spokesman and newly appointed witchfinder general Cotton I. Mather XIV.



American Thoracic Society? Association of Theological Schools? American Technician Society? Alliance of True Scumbags?

None of the above.

Whatever your score was before, you may want to add one point after reading this.

Today's Work-a-Day Commute

View out my car window during my commute this morning

So yeah! I COULD take the train.... But why would I do that when I've got a car? With new back tires with TRACTION no less!

My commute this morning took me almost two hours, but I didn't mind. It's Chicago. Yes, it's snowing - hard - but I expect it. It happens EVERY YEAR. Really! For serious! And yet every year people freak out....50% of our offices are dark because people "couldn't make it in." I envy them their day off, hanging about at home sipping hot cocoa, extending their weekend by a day while I type up minutesssszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...But if I can get to work, I get to work. I blame my mom for my work ethic, her and her: "Sure I have a migraine that is so painful I have to keep checking the mirror to make sure my head isn't really splitting open, but I can sleep when I get home! Just lead me to the door - I can't see so good from under this huge comforter I've covered myself with which to keep out any trace of light and to muffle as much sound as possible from my overamplified eardrums...."

So anyway - I had my coffee, my Podfreq so that I could listen to my iPod clearly through 107.1, (EXCELLENT CHRISTMAS IDEA!!!!), a few novels, a couple of foreign film DVDs I knew Shannon wouldn't be interested in - I was set for a long drive. Unfortunately, it appears that, somehow, the Cook County/Lake County authorities did NOT expect snow, DESPITE the fact snow warnings have been in effect for this date since, like, March. I could not believe how crappy Lake Cook Road was. It's a ginormous, incredibly busy, very high traffic road, for those of you who've never been north of Foster except to go to Great America on the tollway.

I had considered taking the train this morning, but thought, what the heck! I take only major roads all the way to work, and our officebuilding has it's own plow, evidenced by the AWESOME 25-foot pile of snow outside my window. I'm glad it's over 100 feet away or it would be a little frightening.

Turns out that despite the months of warnings, the streets on my commute - Lincoln, Howard McCormick, Old Orchard Rd., the 94 - were barely plowed.

Except for Kedzie. The stretch of Kedzie from Lincoln to Howard, for some unknown reason, was amazingly clear.

Kedzie Ave. An oasis of plowed road

I wish I worked on Kedzie....

I, of course, was cut on my way here. Twice. BOTH times by women on their cell phones in their SUVs and BOTH on the North Shore within 4 blocks of eachother. I honked at the first one because she came REALLY close to hitting me, and I was barely able to brake enough to let her in. Man, did she look startled to even see me there! She seemed not to realize they still make cars smaller than 3000 cubic feet. I really hope I didn't interrupt her stunning conversation! Oh! Nope! She's still blathering away.....

The second one I didn't honk at, noting from the clean and shiny exterior of her Lexus that she must have traveled, oh, I don't know....18 feet? from her garage, so I figured she was going to do something stupid. Sure enough....She pulled into my building's parking lot, went down the aisle I was about to turn into after passing it, drove down about 20 feet, and just....stopped. I waited about 20 seconds then finally went around her and parked across the lot where they'd plowed.

I think she may still be there waiting for some man to come and shovel out a spot for her, guide her into it, and then carry her to her office..... Almost all the men I work with called in today, so she could be there until May.

Did I mention I wish I worked on Kedzie?


For Those Of You Who Loved Labyrinth

DISCLAIMER: I just wanted to write this post so I could generously pepper it with pictures of Jareth, King of the Goblins.

"I'm so cool I can act with muppets, tease out my hair, weigh 45 pounds, and STILL look hot."

At the time we rented Mirrormask, I wasn't blogging, or even thinking of blogging. I mean, who has that kind of time?!? Obviously not Shannon, Mu, or Fafnir if you check the dates of their last entries!

"Tell me I don't look deep and slightly into bondage in this outfit.
Wanna gaze into my crystal?"

...I have no idea what that means.

I accidentally discovered Mirrormask while doing a search on The Sandman series author, Neil Gaiman. After reading American Gods and Good Omens on Shannon's excellent recommendation, I wanted to read more of his stuff. When I spotted a movie written by him, it went straight to the top of our Netflix queue.

Turns out Gaiman's got quite alot of stuff in the works, including the screenplay for Beowulf, which will be released sometime in 2007 WITH CRISPIN GLOVER PLAYING GRENDEL!!!

This pic is especially for you, ButterNugget - fellowe

The last remake of Beowulf I saw starred Christopher Lambert. Is there anyone LESS talented than that man?? His acting is so awful it makes me mad!! How is it he keeps getting work?!?!? His current movie is called Trivial, and I seriously think it's a documentary (documen-TARE-ee?) on his film career. He's been in as many films as Ian McKellan, Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson, Cate Blanchett, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman!!! It's an OUTRAGE! How does that happen?!?!? He's AWFUL!! I don't CARE that the films he's in are all barbarian-type, beat-em-up fight films with minimal dialogue (not minimal ENOUGH!), this man should NOT be given work. By anyone. Okay, okay, maybe he can lift heavy things from the top shelves of a stockroom in a warehouse in an isolated place located FAR FAR AWAY from any customers...

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Stupid Christopher Lambert.

What the heck was I talking about....? Oh, yes! Mirromask! *visibly brightens!*

So yeah! Unlike Sarah in Labyrinth who wants the real world to get out of the way of her dreams of forgetting lines and putting on lipstick, Helena wants to do the opposite. She wants to leave the circus to join the real world. For more of a plot summary, click here. Mirrormask does lack David Bowie so if you need a Bowie fix, I highly recommend The Prestige which should be out on DVD soon. Bowie plays Nikola Tesla, a scientist contemporary with Edison. He invented these coil things that made lots of cool sparky things that get Hugh Jackman very excited.

There SHOULD be a picture of Bowie as Tesla here, but it's MY BLOG! MINE MINE MINE MINE!

I believe Helena would have made a far more believable love interest than ultra-whiny
"It's not FAIR!" Sarah.
"You say that so often. I wonder what your basis for comparison is?" ponders Jareth (shown pondering above).

The magic and imagination that went into Mirrormask seriously reminded me of Labyrinth, a movie that I must have watched 20 times in high school. Both take a normal girl at the end of childhood (although Sarah and Helena are very different) and place them in a magical, amazing world - alone - where they have to figure out how to get back home.

Or whether they really want to.

Kip Addotta. For the Halibut.

I wouldn't be a true dork if I didn't listen to Dr. Demento throughout high school. Although I believe he's still on WLUP ("The Loop") every Sunday night, I can no longer stay awake past midnight to listen to him. I have terribly fond memories of listening to his show on my AM/FM Sony Walkman into the wee hours, laughing silently so as not to wake my family, and waking up bleary eyed with a sore stomach from laughing so hard. Dr. Demento introduced me to Frank Zappa, "Fish Heads", "Dead Puppies", "The Ballad Bilbo Baggins," "Weird Al" Yankovic, "They're Coming To Take Me Away," Tom Lehrer, Stan Freberg, "The Icebox Man (which I incidentally memorized for a severe-lack-of-original-talent show I performed in in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, home of the Hodag), and "The Homecoming Queen's Got A Gun."

Like I said, times change. I can't stay up late on Sundays anymore, so instead of Dr. Demento at 1AM, I'm listening to the radio at 7AM during my work-a-day commute. My eartreats during my drive in to work include "Lin's Bin" on WXRT, and NPR - in that order. Lin's Bin is played on 93.1, WXRT, at 7:15AM and 6:15PM on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and it's worth the two minutes of your time. XRT DJ Lin Brehmer chooses a question from a listener and, though he doesn't always actually answer it, he uses it as a theme for his show. My most recent favorite was on medical ethics, a two-parter where he used alot of quotes from characters on
SCRUBS - especially my favorite - Dr. Cox.

Today I could swear Brehmer used the Billy Crystal/Christopher Guest line of "I
hate when that happens" in his show, thereby proving I am not indeed the only person who is familiar with that astonishingly brilliant cast of SNL: 1984-1985.

*moment of silence for what arguably may very well be be the best SNL cast EVER.*

A few months ago, Lin brought joined past and present by marrying his show with my fond memories of Dr. Demento by playing Kip Addotta's "
Wet Dreams" after his segment on puns. This was by far one of my very favorite Dr. Demento songs. I urge you to regress along with me now and laugh along with the lyrics - one of the most brilliant streams of puns I have ever heard put to music.


OrangeMoJoJo - Chick MAGNET!

....of a different sort.

I'm in Seattle on bidness this weekend. Seattle is a really great city, one that I'd definitely come back to. The air is clean; it's been a bit rainy and blowy, but not terribly cold; the coffee is fabulous and so is the seafood (I had fried oysters and a mug of clam chowder my first day here - YUM!!!!); and there's plenty to do as opposed to where I was stationed previously in Philly and PIttsburgh (I really liked Pittsburgh but it was DEADSVILLE after 6PM and on Sundays; and my overall impression of Philly was "dirty, stinky, and gross." You'd have to pay me to go back. Luckily, they do!).

The children's hospital we've been administering our exams at is just stunning. It's HUGE and sprawling, so getting candidates (not to mention our examiners!) situated was a great challenge, but we got that under control and got things running smoooooooothly by lunchtime the first day. I had time yesterday afternoon to explore the hospital, make a few kids giggle (I could totallly work at a kids' hospital - especially this one!), and try the coffee at Tully's - Seattle's third largest chain, the largest being Starbucks and the second largest, Seattle's Best, being owned by - Starbucks. *heavy sigh*. Explained why the menu boards for both Starbucks and Seattle's Best were so similar, and why the coffee at both was so dang good!! (o: Starbucks is EVERYWHERE here. I half expected the exams to be sponsored by them.

I realize the hospital I was stationed at is a children's hospital, hence it's name: Children't Hospital; but it really is WONDERFULLY kid-friendly. The halls children may be wheeled down in gurnees have brightly colored trains chugging along near the ceilings, complete with tunnels and foliage and bright, sunny surroundings. The painted sky is a soothing, lightly clouded blue. There are mosaiced fish all along the floor embedded in the tile. The elevators are hand-painted underwater portals with friendly, curious, gently smiling porpoises peeping in. The kids chairs are exactly the same as the grown-ups', only smaller. The staff was AMAZING and SO helpful and friendly - nobody's too hurried or stressed to help or find help, and everyone is quick with a smile. I loved seeing kids everywhere. Even though some were in wheelchairs, or had IV poles to drag around, this was their place and the overall feeling was one of calm - "everything's being done to get you well, and we're working hard to prevent future illness of all sorts. So while you're here - check out this cool-fun-thing over here and enjoy the bright paintings and climbable animal sculptures!" Most of the kids - inpatient and out - smiled at least once that I saw. I'm a huge believer that smiling and laughter are extremely conducive to healing.

The child theme began as soon as I arrieved at SEA-TAC. The baggage belt wasn't moving, so I copped a squat on a nearby long bench and cracked open my Straub. (Confidential to you "Scare The Bejeebus outta OrangeMoJoJo" participants, Paul is VERY FAR in the lead with his submission of "Ghost Story". I even had to leave my light on for a few minutes last night - something I haven't had to do in YEARS!! It was awesome!!!). Two smallish, quiet forms appeared, one on either side of me. I didn't pay much attention - I was pretty absorbed in my book. (Dr. Jaffer's apparent suicide may have been "obviously" caused by an unsound mind as a result of his narcotic addiction to the majority of the town of Milburn, but Hawthorne, James and I weren't fooled!) A woman came by and brought me back to my surroundings by congratulating me on my two adorable children. I gave her a look of "...Huh?" then glanced to my quiet companions on either side. There, on this bench at least 20 feet long, I was closely flanked by two adorable kids - a blond girl about 7 and a dark-haired boy who was maybe 4. Nobody else was seated on the bench. A few minutes later two different sets of parents came by after grabbing their luggage and took one kid apiece, and the kids waved and laughed like I was an aunt or someone they knew. This sort of thing happens to me all the time. Kids for some reason are drawn to me. I had one lead me around the giraffes at the zoo once, chattering all the while.

I'm currently watching the Seattle Seahawks battle the San Francisco 49ers. And the 49ers are winning in the second quarter. What the hell...????


Whatever Happened to Tom Hulce?

Do you remember Tom Hulce?He's the guy that played Mozart in Amadeus. For those of you who had high school crushes on his Mozart in high school (I know who I am! erm, I mean, You know who you are!) you also remember him as cute'n'sweet Larry from Animal House. Though he's done a couple dozen other film and tellie appearances, I stopped seeking him out after the tedious Dominick and Eugene. The acting was excellent, but without the tights and high-pitched hyena laugh...At least in Animal House he was wearing a toga for a while.

I came across Hulce twice today, which gives me great hope as sign that his career is rebounding. The first time was when I was doing an imdb.com search on Simon Callow. We saw him play the most brilliantly wonderful evil villian I may have ever seen in the Masterpiece Theater rendition of Wilke Collins' The Woman in White, Count Fosco. See the movie. Read the book. Both are EXCELLENT. Callow looked (and sounded) sooooooooo familiar...., I had to look him up. Turns out he played Papageno in Amadeus - link to Hulce #1. I remember Callow best, though, for his role as the brightly-colored waistcoat-wearing Gareth, Matthew's partner, from Four Weddings and a Funeral.

The second time I came across Hulce's name was when I did some research into a film I'm really looking forward to seeing, despite it's starring Will Farrell (Let's just say.....NOT a big fan of Will Farell) called Stranger than Fiction. This movie also stars Emma Thompson (reason number one for wanting to see it) and - Tom Hulce (now a close reason #2.).

Hopefully he'll give us a tiny wink and a nod to his brilliant role in Amadeus by letting out just the slightest hint of his hyena laughs....

I'm off to Seattle for the rest of the week, so I won't be blogging until at least Monday. This will give you time to see Stranger than Fiction and report back to me when I return.

Rico Latte - The Best Coffee House I've Never Been To!

A few months ago, Mu and Meepy brought me an awesome ORANGE!!! (not shiny) t-shirt from Rico Latte, a coffee shop not too far from their home in Ohio. I *heart* this shirt.

I'm thinking now that my car has gotten a clean bill of health, new tires to replace the balding separating ones, and an updated 20G iPod chock full of Off Broadway, Queen, the Scissor Sisters, "Weird Al," and They Might Be Giants; we might have to take a road trip to Ohio to check out this ORANGE friendly, awesome-hot-chocolate-sportin', fair trade friendly, WiFi providin', hotspot within the next few months. It's never too far to drive for a good cuppa coffee. Maybe we could get to Fools to perform in their small performance space!

Besides, now that we have no kitties of our own to spoil with affection, we can spoil our neice and nephkitties! Why does Emma hate me?


OrangeMoJoJo Sets Aside Her Principles For Tasty Eggnog Lattes

I'll admit it - I really like Starbucks coffee - ESPECIALLY their Eggnog Latte, one of their seasonal drinks that makes an appearance each year from November through January. I'm probably going to have one or two of these over the next couple of months - especially since I'm going to be leaving for Seattle, Starbucks' home base, on Wednesday to do work-related stuff. I'll admit my weakness for Starbucks - it's no secret!

I've been struggling the past few months with a decision I'd made to ban Starbucks until I felt they'd resolved a union complaint (or several) made against them. See, I LIKE Starbucks. They're mochas are consistently yummy, the baristas are almost always pleasant, and their coffee has helped get me through more committee meetings than I can count. Besides their coffee and mochas, though, on a larger scale, I like that they sell and promote fair trade coffee. Their Cafe Estima blend is fair trade, and, in my opinion, the tastiest of the brews they sell (I was a die-hard Sulawesi fan until I tried Cafe Estima). I like that they extend their benefits to the partners of gay couples, and that their benefits are really quite extensive and generous. I like that my brother worked there and liked the job so much he stayed there longer than he has at any job since (ie: > more than 4 months). I like their stupid seasonal travel mugs. I like that they're outspokenly liberal. I like that there's one always within walking distance so I always have someplace cozy and safe and incognito to lounge when I'm travelling on business and want to get away from everyone. I like that they collect Toys for Tots, and Books for Children, and that they urge their customers to recycle their coffee grounds by using them as compost, going so far as supplying a coffee ground depository within each store so eco-friendlies can collect them and use them in their gardens. I like that they sell items from which they'll donate up to a buck a sale to needy children. I like that they donate money to the democratic party. (thanks a latte, Starbucks, for supporting the democrats!) I like that there's actually a corporation out there - a HUGE one - that I actually think uses it's money to try to do some good and raise awareness. Of course they're raking in FAR more than they're putting out ($12.00 for 1/2 lb of Ethiopian coffee? Eeep!), but they really seem to try to keep themselves concious for the most part.

A dear close friend of mine has had nothing to do with them since they charged
firemen for the water they took on September 11, 2001, for example. Yes, they did reimburse the fire department, but it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

More recently (as in "now") Starbucks has been having labor issues from London to Chicago. Former employees are claiming that Starbucks fired them solely on the basis of their exercising their right to organize a union. This is, to put it mildly, not sitting well with me, and I am glad the union is pursuing the matter. However, it seems that the union effort is finally taking hold, though there is more ground to gain. I'm finding it hard to find the facts on both sides, so if you can supply me with them, please do so. I am finding plenty stating that these employees (most recently Isis Saenz) were fired simply for trying to unionize, but one of them (Gross) is reported to have threatened a manager.

When I was working at CVS a union tried to organize us pharmacy technicians and Corporate sent each of us a letter - along with our paychecks - saying that a union
wasn't in our best interest. The hell it wasn't! Looking back, I'd work up to 10 hours (rarely - usually it was only 8) without so much as a break, only to have Corporate take out 1/2 hour for a lunch I'd never ingested . Depending on the pharmacist, I was often forced to punch out on time even if I worked over (I refused to ever work with these pharmacists again). If this happened once or twice, that would suck, but this happened again and again and again. I had it pretty good, though, next to the pharmacists. They'd sometimes work 16+ hours in a row their so-called "relief" decided to call in and no coverage could be found. God forbid the pharmacy should ever for a minute close! We didn't have a way to close it, now that I think of it....


I still shop at CVS though, because Walgreens treated us far, far worse, and I'll never, EVER set foot in a Walmart unless Shannon's life, or that of one of my pets, depends on it.

Back to the coffee talk!

Alternatives to Starbucks:

When my favorite coffee house in the Chicagoland area - Urbis Orbis in Wicker Park - went out of business *tear!!,* I had originally thought it was Starbucks' fault. Turns out it was MTV's! They'd taken the building to use as the site of the Wicker Park season of The Real World. My favorite coffee house since then has been Cafe Express in Evanston, and my favorite drink there is their Dante mocha (a mocha with half a mandarin orange squeezed in - YUM!!!). For those of you who absolutely will NOT patronize Starbucks, you'll appreciate the prominently displayed bumper sticker on the wall which reads "FRIENDS DO NOT LET FRIENDS DRINK STARBUCKS". Cafe Express is followed closely by another wonderful coffee shop in Evanston - The Kafein, whose 3-shot Zombie has given Northwestern students the liquid ability to pull all-night cramming sessions for at least 15 years. If you don't live in Evanston or are too groggy to drive there, Caribou Coffee has quite a few locations countrywide. For a really good, really fattening mocha, try Caribou Coffee's Campfire Mocha. Note to dieters - even if you go for skim milk, you HAVE to get the campfire mocha WITH whip cream AND marshmallows AND chocolate shavings, or it's just a skim mocha. The extras are what makes it so darn good!

My very VERY favorite, and least accessible, coffee shop is Queen's Lane Coffee Shop in Oxford where I spent many many hours studying and staring out at High Street, watching the real students (I was a transfer student) take their exams in all their splendour across the street at Uni Hall. They'd start arriving in a thin trickle beginning round 7AM, then a steady stream of bicycles and black robes would flow towards the doors until 8:45, then up until 9:05AM a few extremely flustered and anxious students would be BOOKING it full-speed towards the Hall, frantic about being even a moment too late, red-faced with their robes streaming behind them. While they took their exams, I studied life in Outremer, relieved that I didn't have to take those exams, yet more than a touch envious all the same....

This is not the view from Queen's Lane's window, but rather nearer the
Sheldonian where Oxford grads matriculate from.
This guy just looked so dang happy exams were over with!

Grads outside the Sheldonian

But I digress.

Shannon and I are trying to become more conscious about buying fair trade products - especially chocolate and coffee. Aside from being fair trade, Peace Coffee is one of the best coffees I've tasted. I've switched from Starbucks' Cafe Estima to Peace Coffee, available at Whole Foods or online.

Incidentally, the latte foam art pictures were found on this Website: http://www.latteart.org/Your_Cappuccino.htm


Message Sent to Bush Administration by Voters, November 7, 2006

On November 7, voters all around the country CLEARLY told Bush and his regime:


Americans take back the flag from the Bush Regime

Bush, in response, for the first time ever, made sense:

"Actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday," Bush said. "Shows what I know."
As to the role played in Tuesday's widespread GOP losses, Bush said, "I believe Iraq had a lot to do with the election, but I think there were other factors as well." He suggested that a variety of congressional scandals may also have played a role.

....???? Where has THAT guy been the last 6 years?????!!!!

"I'm obviously disappointed with the outcome of the election and, as the head of the Republican Party, I share a large part of the responsibility," President Bush said during a East Room news conference.

Actually, Dubbya, you OWN a large part of that responsibility. THEY'RE sharing it with YOU. I know, I know. I'm a stickler for semantics, and you never were all that good with words.

Bush itching to peel off the mask he's wearing to reveal the monster deathskull beneath.

Too little too late, though, his playing meek now. God, I hope he spends the last two years of his term sweating under interrotion lights. Payback for Clinton and his wasted last two years, though unlike Clinton, Bush actually deserves to be tried. He also MORE than deserves to be impeached!

At least Rumsfeld finally got the message! One down! WOO-HOO!

I vote we celebrate November 8th annually as Independence from the Bush Regime day. I have not felt this patriotic and full of love for my country since I was, like, 7.

OrangeMoJoJo is currently setting off celebratory fireworks behind her home


Man Steals Prison Uniform to go Trick-or-Treating

At your larger Halloween parties, oftentimes there are contests to see who has come wearing the "Best Costume." Other subcategories include "most original, " "funniest," "most disgusting," "poorest taste," and, at least at my dream Halloween party, "Most Orange." Ironically, this former inmate with his simple costume would win both my dream category and a newly added category: "poorest choice."


Quote of the Day

Actually it was from August, but, so...okay, I'll renomer (is that a word?) it:

Quote of August:

"Well, lookie here Pippi Longstockings -- I'm not going to quit whining. I'm going to whine as much as I want to. Go ahead -- pass some kind of namby pamby UN resolution to try to keep me whine free -- GO AHEAD. See if I care. I'm going to whine my way into the 22nd century full steam ahead, and you can't make me stop!
I reiterate:
So put that in your pipe and smoke it, senor and senora poopypants!"

This was a comment on the cobWeb Fafblog from "thepuppethead" who continued to whine in comment form throughout August.

Yes, yes, I know. Fafblog. I had to, I just HAD to check, just to see if there would be a Halloween treat waiting for me there, but alas! The last posting was STILL July 12, 2006. I know, I KNOW I should let it go and move on with my life, but it's so HARD! I mean, I'm a Leo. I'm loyal to the death. Shannon is counting on my being loyal to the death. Rev wouldn't have married me to Shannon if he wasn't certain that I'll be loyal to the death. The Meiers-Briggs says I'm loyal to the death. Even the Peepster's Greek Mythology Personality Test says I'm fiercely loyal (Daedalus) to the death (implied). So, because I'm fiercely loyal and maybe more than slightly tenacious, and add to that a touch of (healthy! I swear!) obsession, I found myself scrolling through the 332 comments (I didn't read them all! I swear!) attached to Fafblog's last entry, the last of which was posted:


There's a commenter who goes by "An Enquiring Mind" who is currently posting a knock-knock joke in the comments. And s/he's the only one answering. So don't tell ME I have a problem! HA HA!! There's someone out there who's even worse than I am!!

So, though obviously I'm having a hard time saying "goodbye" to Fafnir, Medium Lobster and most of all Giblets; there are several, SEVERAL who have been visiting on a regular basis chatting amongst themselves while trying to coax the three back to blogdom. One of them has created an "I MISS FAFBLOG!" blogspot of his or her own.


One of the comments that made me laugh out loud:

"Dear Fafnir,
You suck. I hate you.
Regards, Bob."

Sums up my feelings pretty good.

I DO miss Fafblog. *sniff* *tear*

But not enough to rename mine to anything other than Orange!