Stupid Bowl

In which Cammy manages to be completely unaware that it is Superbowl Sunday (and not for the first time).

I really thought I could only manage to do this once in a decade.  Maybe it’s a sign of over-achievement that this has happened twice in less than 5 years.

I get up on Sunday, mid morning (*cough* possibly midafternoon for those of you who didn’t have a night courtesy of antihistamine–damn you sinuses), head to the grocery store because I’m out of everything important (in my world, that means sour cream, cheese, spinach and beer).  The parking lot is abnormally full.  Like, we-are-about-to-have-a-blizzard full.  Only I know that the snow isn’t supposed to be hitting us until Tuesday, which means this is waaaaay too early for everyone in this area to be raiding the bread aisle (why prepare early, when you can create a shit storm rush at the last minute?).

It’s not until after literally waiting in a queue to get to the sour cream that I note the swarm of guys in game-day gear, with buggies full of meat and steak sauce converged on the beer coolers.  They have managed to completely eliminate the supply of anything I’d ever want to drink and a whole lot of what I wouldn’t touch if it were the last alleged beer on Earth (my Daddy raised me with standards.  Natty Ice will never pass these lips…though it is useful for helping break down thatch on a lawn).  WTF was going on?!?

Then I did the math.  It’s cold outside, not Christmas, these are  clearly sports fans…fuck, it’s Superbowl Sunday.

Yeah.  That’s how out of touch with all reality I am.  Several weeks worth of 12 hour days at the bill-paying job, and I haven’t seen any news other than the weather alerts that pop up on my recently acquired phone (which is working spiffily, fuck you, Verizon).  The only TV I’ve seen has been my un-breakable Sunday night date with Downton, and spending the hours leading up to Downton catching up on a new telenovela (Que Pobres Tan Ricos–nothing like a Columbian telenovela exported to Mexico and made more awesome by Rosy Ocampo).  None of which are places I’m likely to hear about professional football.

I’m a little bummed, really.  I like to actively plan an anti-Superbowl (generally with a crap ton of Jane Austen adaptations, and capped off with the Downton Abbey cherry on top).  I suppose my less formal marathon of drooling over Jaime Camil probably works in lieu of British Costume Drama, but I would have liked a little more wallowing in my own rebellion against the American norm.  Although, there’s something truly rebellious about my ability to completely overlook the event to the point that only missing beer is enough to remind me anything is going on at all (and, I still don’t know who’s playing–I just know it’s not Kansas City because that would have been impossible to miss around here).

And so,tomorrow will begin the semi-awkward series of conversations that begin with “Did you see the [insert brand] commercial?!?” and end with me saying, blankly and bluntly, “No.”

Posting From a Cell Phone

My relatively recent entry into the world of smart phones was prompted in part by the desire to miss fewer posts while on business travel.  I don’t do personal surfing or writing on the business laptop because I am all too familiar with the extent of the company’s rights to stick their nose into shit that really does not concern them if I use their equipment, even on off hours.  And traveling with my own netbook is not always feasible.

So, the phone should work, right?

Not so much.

Theory and practice decided to dine at different tables…hell, I think they may be at different restaurants….

Me and the touch screen have a poor history in general, but it only deteriorates as I try to key in a whole post with my thumbs on these make-believe buttons, with the totally unhelpful spelling suggestions changing every other word I type.  I have attempted this two other times and thrown in the towel.

Strangely enough, tonight, as I enter this after two beers consumed with my fabulous coworkers, I am doing better typing on the virtual keyboard than ever before.  I think my alcohol-slowed movements are just what I needed to allow the keyboard response and my typing speed to sync…

Or, after two beers, I just don’t notice the errors….

Either way, in my mind, I just achieved a goal for this smart phone ownership.  It may not be a good post, but at least I feel less like a slacker.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: Ditty for a Drink

Today was a very rough day at work.  There was pummeling.  Of me.  And others like me.  And by 5pm, I really, really wanted to sit down for a beer.

In part because I’d had this little tune running through my head since about 8:30 this morning

“In heaven there is no beer / That’s why we drink it here….”


While I embrace the message of this song, it’s not exactly what you want running on an infinite loop in your head all day.  I had two near miss incidents where I almost started humming it in the presence of VIPs.

That aside, the song is rather witty, so at least there was amusement in an otherwise cheerless day.  If only those words weren’t saddled by a tune that’s made of superglue and annoyance.

And now, I can drown the sorrows of my day in beer that I have to drink while I’m here (because when I’m in heaven, my friends will be drinking it all.  Mostly.  Except for the ones who don’t drink beer) and freebie MP3 sampler albums to drown the incessant rounds of the song (which heaven better be devoid of as well)…..

Yeah.  It’s been a looooooong day.

Shitty Beer, Shitty Movie — Big Warning

I toddled just over the state line this evening for an evening of Shitty Beer and Shitty Movies with a friend from work, his girlfriend and a few others.  In discussing what beer constituted “shitty” for the purposes of this evening, I was informed that I was not allowed to bring Natty Ice.  Apparently the order of the evening was “Shitty, but not THAT shitty.”

So, Pabst Blue Ribbon became the order of the evening.

I should have gone for the Natty Ice.  Pabst is too good a beer to be paired with a move as shit-tastic as the one we wound up with.

“Crank 2”

Now, I’ve never seen (nor heard) of the original Crank.  This should have been my first clue.  But if your only fear in your moving going life is that you won’t understand a sequel without having first seen the original, rest assured that you basically get all of the plot points of Crank while watching this one.

Theoretically Crank 2 is plotted thus:  dude gets his heart ripped out by a Chinese gang to be sold on the black market.  Dude is implanted with weird mechanical heart which he keeps having to charge up, either by jumper cables, fingers in light sockets or having random sex with a stripper on a horse-track, all while chasing one of the Chinese Gang members, being chased by Mexican gang members and fielding calls to Dwight Yoakum (shit.  you.  not.).  The camera work was almost as sickening as the over-abundance of violence.  And the abundance of sex (this was bordering on porn).  And logic?  Not at all present in this endeavor.  If you make it to the end of the orgy of sex and violence the grand finale involves a shoot out between: The Mexican Gang, the Chinese Gang, a gang of Gay S&M guys, and a gang of Hookers & Strippers.  The dialog blew goats.  In theory it was supposed to part comedy, but, the only part that was funny was how bad the whole thing was–it really shouldn’t take $12 million dollars to achieve “bad.”  You can do that on less, I assure you

Allow me to tell you that it was even shitter than it sounded.   At first I was mostly shocked that someone actually raised money to produce this thing.  But as the parade of fail continued past my not-at-all-drunk-enough eyes, I was more shocked.  The damned thing was packed with faces I knew!  There was fucking Q from Next Generation.  And Tuptim from Anna and the King.  And Pedro from Napolean Dynamite.  And a Spice Girl. And Lauren Holly.  And Corey Haim.  Honestly, these are (or were) all legit actors who’d had parts in successful gigs….had they ALL run out of other options to pay the bills?!?

Do yourselves a favor: avoid this like the plague unless you are hosting your own shitty beer, shitty movie night.  But make sure the beer is Natty Ice, and drink a lot of it before you start,

Living My Mispent Youth. Finally.

So this post is late.  There’s a very good reason for that.  Some of my colleagues hosted an Eastern European feast last night.  It seems Eastern European feasts require consuming potato vodka.  Which leads to me not coming home until 4am because I had to wait till I was in driving condition.

It’s caused me to reflect on something very strange that has been happening lately in my life.  For some reason or another as a grown ass 30 year old woman I’m now experiencing a few aspects of the college experience that I missed in my first two stints in university.

Last month I went to my first keg party.  Okay, there was only 1/6 of a keg and I didn’t actually drink any beer.  But still, it was a first.   I’ve still never done a keg stand and somehow I don’t see that ever happening, but I can now say I’ve been to a keg party.  Woo hoo!  I’m a real college student.

Last night I played my first undergrad style drinking game (“Bowling Ball” maybe?)  I want you to picture this.  A bunch of graduate students ranging in age from 23 to 33, but most of us clustered towards the upper end of it, getting in touch with the youth we “missed” because we were all in the library.  I’m not sure I played the game right on account of during the whole thing I only went through one beer (an imported Czech porter… also perhaps a sign I’m not doing this right.  Aren’t you supposed to do this with cheap swill like Natural Light?)  But anyway… once again, I’m a real college student!

And um… it might be a little overrated.  I think I might like the library better.


A New Appreciation for Weather

I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping to see all Kristy posts here (among the disappointed?  Me), but I did return from Oz and apparently I have to take up my portion of the slack.

As with most cases of international travel, I learned a few things that maybe I should have known, found some more things to be jealous of Australia for having (TimTams), and found some things about right here at home that I’d taken for granted.

Like the weather.

Not the actual events in weather–rain, sun, what have you–but weather reports.

I’m a product of tornado alley, a place that kind of turns one into a weather-forecast connoisseur.  It’s not enough to have the high and low temperature.  I didn’t spend so many elementary school science classes learning the markings for a stationary front for nothing.  I want hourly temperature forecasts.  I want satellite.  I want radar.  I want wind speeds.  I want to know what’s coming at me a minimum of 2 days before it gets here.  By damnit, I can’t control the weather, but I can sure as hell know what’s coming at me.

Exposing me to Australia’s excuse for weather reports was kind of like taking an oenophile and locking them up with nothing but Manischewitz.  In the three weeks I spent down there not once did I see a tv weather report (or hear a radio weather report) that was even as comprehensive as Al Roker’s reports on the Today show.  I nearly lost it.

First of all, if you’re not in a major city (or at least a major city for your region–after all, Alice Springs is half the size of my suburban town), you’re not going to get jack from most sources.  Sometime we’d catch a bit on ABC which would show a few more places, including one that was only an hour down the road from my parents and thus a moderately appropriate approximation of the temperatures they would experience.

Second, assuming you catch some manner of report that relates to an area near you, you’re going to get a grand package of the high, the low, if it’s rain or shine, and, if you are very lucky, a synoptic chart with the wind directions.  No 3 day forecast.  No “power doppler” that can show the hook echo so you know exactly where the tornado is.  No cadre of amateur weather nerds who send in photos of the snow fall totals in their backyards.  Want to know if it’s going to rain tomorrow?  Well, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, and if it’s wet, you’ll know–they’re not going to spoil you.

I’m not sure if it’s just broadcast media that’s so devoid of weather reports.  I didn’t manage to get into the news agency to pick up a paper.  And I know there’s probably something more comprehensive online–but internet access is not as ubiquitous there as it is here (and sure isn’t as cheap).  All I know is that if you’re stuck with radio and TV only, it’s a damn good thing tornadoes aren’t as prevalent there.

I realize that between the 10 year drought the Australian continents been dealing with (nothing like weather monotony), and the low population density, it’s probably not easy to justify the kind of infrastructure you need for the 10 day look ahead in every corner of the country.  I can accept that.

But it made me all the more delighted to be back here at home where my local weather-dude has been refining his prediction for a winter weather blast twice a day for the past two days,  to the point that I knew that if I want beer, I need to get it by 6pm tomorrow.  Poor Australia.  How do you know when you need to get the beer today to avoid going out in the storm tomorrow????

Other Stuff I Should Have Posted About Instead of Penguins

Just after I’d posted Sunday night about the giant penguins, I realized I really should have hit two other big anniversaries for this early October.  Running on the theory of “better late than never” augmented by “better a little late than 6 months from now”:

-October 2 marked the 175 Anniversary of The Battle of Gonzales, the first battle of the Texas Revolution.  Short version:  The Anglo-Texian settlement at Gonzales, in the Green DeWitt colony, had a cannon.  The Mexican government, fearing revolt (from Texas and multiple other Mexican states) came to take said cannon back.  The Texians weren’t having any of that (because, Comanche = bad news and cannon = answer).  First the settlers buried it to hide it, and then they dug it up and used it against the Mexican troops sent to retrieve it, while flying a flag with a picture of the cannon and the words “Come And Take It.”  So just in case you think that the near-fanaticism over the right to bear arms is a new thing to the fabric of Texas, it’s not.  And neither is being a little bit of a smart ass to one’s enemies.  The Texans won, the battle, and eventually, the revolution that followed from it.

-October 3, 20th Anniversary of German Unification:  A scant 4 years before Oct. 3, 1990, my Dad had been going through a map of the two Germany’s with me and trying to help my 6 year old brain understand the whole Iron Curtain thing, and painting a bleak picture of life on the other side, with particular focus on Germany.  I asked Dad if maybe there was a chance that one of these days they might put Germany back together.  His answer was, “No, I don’t think so.  Not in my lifetime and probably not in yours.”   It’s still one of the clearest memories I have before age 10.  Just as clear was my memory of standing in front of the TV watching people rip up the wall about 3 years later and Dad simply looking at me and saying, “Cammy, I can’t believe it, but I was wrong”–both of us knowing exactly what moment he was talking about.  But even the wall tumbling wasn’t the complete repair.  That didn’t happen until 3 October of 1990 when, at the stroke of midnight, East Germany didn’t so much turn into a pumpkin as cease to exist.

With two events like this?  I’m beginning to think early October is apparently a ripe time if you want massive political upheaval of one sort or another.

(It’s also a good time to drink beer).

In Which Cammy Drinks a Pink Beer

I’m a beer kind of gal.  And for the most part my beer preference takes a fairly conservative,-bordering-on-full-Reinheitsgebot, German beer bent.  The 1516 Reinheitsgebot, or German Beer Purity Act, limited the contents of beer to barley, water and hops.  It was a largely political-control move that had little to do with the quality of beer (and more to do with control of grain markets), but the limitations resulted in German brews being finely crafted within those narrow confines to give us the wonderful substance that makes October a more bearable month and provides the only reason most non-Germans (and some Germans) tolerate polka music.  Germans are pretty proud of the law even though it’s been repealed (and they figured out that yeast was also involved in beer–a fact which no one knew in 1516).

But the side effect of so many years of  restricted brewing contents eliminated other types of beer.  The beer scene of Belgium, however, remained a refuge for more adventurous beer-making.  Fruits, spices….the options were open there, resulting in fantastic things like frambois.  While I can appreciate the open atmosphere for creative brewing and the more varied results, for the most part?  I’m still going to sit at the table with my German peeps and stick to the basics.  Give me a dark beer, easy on the hops.

But now and then, I branch out.  This weekend was such a day.  For some reason, I decided to go for something that seemed lighter and more summer-ish.  Something girly.

I wound up with pink beer.  Not red or burgundy:  pink.

And a pink wheat beer at that (I’m normally not wild about weiss beers).

It was Leinenkugel’s Berry Weiss, and while I definitely wouldn’t want this most of the time, it just hit the spot for this weekend.  It’s definitely sweeter and it’s definitely lighter….and did I mention it’s PINK? I mean, even the head of foam was pink (a rather pleasant shade, actually).  And it foamed quite nicely.  Beautiful head on this beer.

But, honestly?  It doesn’t taste like beer.  I know for some this is a good thing, but for me?  Well, I was hoping for something with subtle fruity flavors.  This is not subtle.  It’s also not like a Frambois.  It feels less mature than a frambois (which manages to make sure you know that it’s a beer).  It’s basically a wine cooler with a little less sweetness.  It tastes just fine, don’t get me wrong.  I enjoyed it….but it’s not beer to me.  And if I’d been in a less experimental beer-mood and someone had handed me this?  I’d be disappointed.  But as a beverage in general?  It’s tasty.  I’ll drink it.

So I didn’t have to pour it down the sink, I’ve found a beer I can offer to my non-beer-fan friends.  But I’ve also found one more reason I appreciate the influence of the Reinheitsgebot.

Coffee With…. Angela Merkel

Cammy: Yes!  While I know I should probably hesitate more about this, I can’t help it.  I would completely risk looking like a moron to sit down and have a cup of coffee with the “Iron Mädchen.”  Just as long as I had easy access to a German-English dictionary and time to brush up on my verb conjugations because the last thing in the world I’d want to do is go in and “Du-tz” the Chancellor of Germany (familiar rather than formal “you”).

I’ve got a boatload of topics I want to cover with this woman, starting with the quote I’ve heard attributed to her that “Anyone with something to say needs no makeup” (“Jeder, der wirklich etwas zu sagen hat, braucht kein Make-up”).  There’s a lot of clues to this woman’s personality wrapped up in that one, especially knowing how vastly she had to be “transformed” style-wise before winning her spot as Chancellor.  And the transition from physicist to politician–there’s got to be a goldmine of interesting talk to be had there.  I’ve got my theories about women in political power with science backgrounds, and a conversation with Merkel would go a long way toward testing those theories.  And, of course, I couldn’t talk with this woman without going into the East German thing.  Not just the recent little amusing story about how she was at the sauna when the wall came down, but about the impressive fact that she’s an East German in the top job in a unified German.  Symbolic, if nothing else.

I’m anticipating that the woman has at least a little bit of a sense of humor (anyone making a crack about the German sense of humor is invited to attend one of my family reunions for a counter-argument), which, hopefully, would keep her from getting pissed at me firing off questions like a fan-girl at at Con Q & A.  Hmmmm, maybe this should be over a beer instead of coffee….

Kristy: Um… probably not.  To be clear, this is not about not wanting to have coffee with Chancellor Merkel.  I’m just fairly certain she wouldn’t want to have coffee with me.  There’s that whole thing about the make-up.  Personally, I’m a huge fan of make-up (what?  I have fair skin and had horrible acne as a teen, I’m covered with acne stains and no one wants to see them).  I know some feminists will roll their eyes and tell me I’m just allowing myself to be exploited and I’m trying to fit myself to the expectations of men and yadda yadda.  But I disagree.  I don’t wear make-up for men–they don’t notice it.  I’ve had conversations with my male friends about how they don’t like women with lots of make-up; inevitably they praise me for not wearing much, oblivious to the fact I’m speaking from underneath a pound of concealer and powder.  I wear make-up for myself.  Partially because the powder absorbs the grease my skin produces and keeps it from clogging my pores, but mostly because I feel better about myself with it on.  And when I feel better, I’m more confident, more likely to speak my mind, more likely to get things done.  But somehow I think the “Iron Maedchen” might just see me as superficial and vain.  Also, I’ll be totally lost when she and Cammy start talking about science and physics.  And I don’t know a word of German.  So I will eagerly take notes about everything she says when Cammy comes back with a full report, but I don’t think I’ll be attending that little coffee klatch.

Cammy: I think there’s more to  the cultural aspect of the make-up thing here.  It’s not just about the make-up itself–it’s how it ties to her being an East German.  As I understand it, cosmetics were an incredible luxury item before Communism collapsed.  An Epic!Win hostess gift when visiting the East was some CoverGirl eyeshadow.  It’s one of those things that set “Ossis” apart from the West.  There was, and still remains a view of those from the East as being backward in comparison to the West (at least in Germany).  So, needing make-up for confidence was as much a luxury as the make-up itself, especially immediately after unification when the East Germans definitely had something to say.  Merkel’s line is more of a defense against those in the West who were too busy laughing at their dowdy Eastern neighbors.  I’ll grant you that I like that quote because I’m the lazy girl who doesn’t like to put on make up and would love to level the cultural playing field enough to remove the pressure for me to put it on, but the reality of the quote is something different altogether and it probably doesn’t do either of us much credit to reduce it to mere physical appearance.

All that said, I’ll give you an out on this one, Kristy, though part of me would really like to drag you in.  I have a feeling you’d find a way to hit it off with the Iron Mädchen better than I would.  If nothing else, you two could sit around and practice your Russian together and leave me out.  And don’t forget, no matter how you interpret the make-up comment, they DID hire a stylist for the woman to get her into office, and last election she was workin’ the cleavage, so…..

Coffee With….Nuns Edition Continued!

Would we drink coffee with Katharina Von Bora – Luther

Cammy: Oh, no doubt  I would totally sit down for a cup of coffee with Katie Luther.  Maybe this is because I was raised a Lutheran and the single deviation from straight-up bible stories you got in Sunday school was that around Reformation Sunday you’d get one lesson on the 95 Theses, and if you were REALLY lucky your teacher would talk a little about how ex-monk Martin Luther married a former nun who was smuggled out of a convent in a fish barrel.

Seriously.  Renegade nuns in a barrel!  How could I not want to get this woman to sit down and have a cup of coffee?

My post Sunday-school knowledge of Katie is only marginally larger.  Data on her is limited.  To the fish barrel bit I’ve added knowledge that she was put into a convent at 5, took vows at 16 and after her escape Luther helped find a place for her to stay with the family of Lucas Cranach the Elder (a German artist–if you ever do costuming for the Reformation era in Germany, his works are fantastic resources).  Career options being limited, the idea was to marry her off.  She hit it off with one fellow, but his family disapproved.  Several others she didn’t like and finally Katie herself laid it out– it would be Luther or his buddy von Armsdorf, or she wasn’t getting married.  Who knows if Luther actually loved her, or just realized the woman would be able to take care of the place so he could work?  Because that is exactly what she did.  Raising kids (her own and those they adopted), raising cows, raising crops and–my personal favorite–brewing beer!  Luther refers to her in his writings as “My Lord Katie” and alludes more than once to her running the house, saying that in spiritual matters he looked to God, but in domestic matters he looked to Katie.

I need coffee to get the details and fill the gaps.  A renegade, fish-barrel nun who brews beer and rules the house while her hubby totters off to think and write deep thoughts.  There’s no way she’s not a witty woman.  Just no way.  Forget a treatise on being saved by grace not by works–I want to hear about brewing beer and how she got her hands on Protestant contraband before blowing out of that cloistered-Popsicle stand.

Kristy: I’ll admit I never heard of Katherina von Bora Luther before living with Cammy.  Little Methodist children didn’t get any lessons about renegade nuns and nailing theocrats to cathedral doors.  We didn’t even get Reformation Sunday.  But she sounds like a cool lady.  Clearly strongminded, not ruled by convention, but not in your face unless necessary.  You get the impression that if Marty forgot to wipe the mud off his boots before entering her kitchen he was likely to get a sound lashing from a wooden spoon.  Or perhaps worse, denied beer.  And I bet she’s not above sharing some convent gossip over a cup of strong coffee.  Sounds like a good time.

Cammy: Wait, wait, wait.  You don’t get a Reformation Sunday?  *gasp*  What’s the point of being Protestant?!?  And I think you’re right about the boots.  I suspect there was tight ship run in the Luther household.  I think we should grab your Sor Juana together so we can listen to them compare nun stories, though I suspect those stories would be better served with das bier than das kaffee.

Kristy: I guess maybe since us Methodists split from the Anglicans rather than directly from the Catholics we don’t have quite the special place for Marty that you Lutherans do.  Also, it’s possible we do have Reformation Sunday and just don’t do anything about it.  ‘Member we’re the warm, fuzzy variety of Protestants; and it’s hard to bother observing obscure holidays when you’re being all fuzzy.