Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Day 22, Friday: All I really need to know I learned on Facebook

As per my usual morning ritual, my breakfast time is spent cruising The Internets (facebook.) I polish off the last of the lentils and spinach, and two blackberries

Lets face it. Americans are deliberately illiterate and purposefully oblivious to pretty much everything beyond our own spheres of daily influence, and I’m no exception. Which is why we should all thank the baby jesus, our lord and savior, that Facebook (FB) finally came along and delivered us from our ignorance.

Via FB, I learned that “Obama reverses Bush abortion-funds policy.” FB teaches me that MacBook will soon be available in purple, and apparently some people are up in arms about something called Prop 8. I’m inundated with such practical knowledge as “fifteen hottest celebrity diet tricks” and that “Nastia Liukin is the best and hottest gymmnist ever!” Even though I’m pretty sure gymnnist isn’t a word, I’m intrigued. I must learn more. How did she earn that title, and could I possibly become the World’s best and hottest Atternee, or Bar Tehndar?

Since ignorance and hatred go hand and hand, we might even say FB is well on the way to eliminating war and animosity. I mean really, how many friends have you made since you joined Facebook? That guy that works at the coffee shop you sometimes go to when you're hung over? Not just a barrista/cashier anymore! A new friend! That one girl who sat three rows back from you in remedial geometry fourteen years ago? The one that calls herself “Isis” now? Yet another friend! Even those people you’ve tried for years to avoid, like your drug-dealer ex who used to cry all the time – he’s your friend! FB goes beyond networking. It doesn’t just bring us together with casual and lost acquaintances. It is truly the Great Unifier! And not just because it brings you pictures like this:
Now, I’m not saying FB is like an e-Mr. Rogers, because that’s impossible, obviously. I’m just saying it’s more than just a good place to meet “hot Atlanta singles.” Like a warm, fuzzy zip-front cardigan, FB prepares you to go out into the world with a positive outlook, and a skip in your step. It’s a virtual place where love and learning meet. And I think Mr. Rogers would approve.

I snack the rest of the day, downing a falafel taco, and three plain falafel patties.

And I’ll tell you this, Falafel. It is truly a beautiful day in our neighborhood! If you had fingers, and an email address, and could set up your own FB account, I wouldn’t just be a neighbor you nodded politely at when we passed eachother on the street, and debated whether or not to say "hi" to when you're pretty sure you see me at the craft fair in Villa Rica.

Falafel, if you had a FB, and I saw you at the craft fair, I'd walk right up and give you a big hug and kiss on the lips, and show you the new yarn I just bought. I’d let you be my 112th friend! I wouldn’t delete your lame comments, or explain to Pizza that I just accepted your friend request because I felt bad. Because we’re all friends on FB! And when you sent a “Best Friend” application request, I’d politely ignore it. I wouldn’t even consider deleting you as a friend.

Day 21, Thursday: It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

Usually, I hop on The Internets first thing in the morning, cruising the e-highway of information for the latest news (facebook) and whatnot (facebook). Today, as I mow down the last of the red beans and rice for brunch (since I slept until 10:30,) I stumble across the single greatest article ever written. So today’s will be a guest blog. Enjoy!

15 Reasons Mr. Rogers was the Best Neighbor Ever:

Here are 15 things everyone should know about Fred Rogers:

1. Even Koko the Gorilla loved him. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English. What most people don't know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers' Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she'd always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
2. He made thieves think twice. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town. Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, "If we'd known it was yours, we never would have taken it."

3. He watched his figure to the pound. In covering Rogers' daily routine (waking up at 5 a.m.; praying for a few hours for all of his friends and family; studying; writing, making calls and reaching out to every fan who took the time to write him; going for a morning swim; getting on a scale; then really starting his day), writer Tom Junod explained that Mr. Rogers weighed in at exactly 143 pounds every day for the last 30 years of his life.

He didn't smoke, didn't drink, didn't eat the flesh of any animals, and was extremely disciplined in his daily routine. And while I'm not sure if any of that was because he'd mostly grown up a chubby, single child, Junod points out that Rogers found beauty in the number 143. According to the piece, Rogers came "to see that number as a gift... because, as he says, "the number 143 means 'I love you.' It takes one letter to say 'I' and four letters to say 'love' and three letters to say 'you.' One hundred and forty-three."

4. He saved both public television and the VCR. Strange but true. When the government wanted to cut public television funds in 1969, the relatively unknown Mister Rogers went to Washington. Almost straight out of a Frank Capra film, his 5-6 minute testimony on how TV had the potential to give kids hope and create more productive citizens was so simple but passionate that even the most gruff politicians were charmed. While the budget should have been cut, the funding instead jumped from $9 to $22 million.

Rogers also spoke to Congress, and swayed senators into voting to allow VCR's to record television shows from the home. It was a cantankerous debate at the time, but his argument was that recording a program like his allowed working parents to sit down with their children and watch shows as a family.

5. He might have been the most tolerant American ever. Mister Rogers seems to have been almost exactly the same off-screen as he was onscreen. As an ordained Presbyterian minister, and a man of tremendous faith, Mister Rogers preached tolerance first. Whenever he was asked to castigate non-Christians or gays for their differing beliefs, he would instead face them and say, with sincerity, "God loves you just the way you are." Often this provoked ire from fundamentalists.

6. He was genuinely curious about others. Mister Rogers was known as one of the toughest interviews because he'd often befriend reporters, asking them tons of questions, taking pictures of them, compiling an album for them at the end of their time together, and calling them after to check in on them and hear about their families. He wasn't concerned with himself, and genuinely loved hearing the life stories of others.

And it wasn't just with reporters. Once, on a fancy trip up to a PBS exec's house, he heard the limo driver was going to wait outside for 2 hours, so he insisted the driver come in and join them (which flustered the host). On the way back, Rogers sat up front, and when he learned that they were passing the driver's home on the way, he asked if they could stop in to meet his family. According to the driver, it was one of the best nights of his life. The house supposedly lit up when Rogers arrived, and he played jazz piano and bantered with them late into the night. Further, like with the reporters, Rogers sent him notes and kept in touch with the driver for the rest of his life.

7. He was color-blind. Literally. He couldn't see the color blue. Of course, he was also figuratively color-blind, as you probably guessed. As were his parents, who took in a black foster child when Rogers was growing up.

8. He could make a subway car full of strangers sing. Once while rushing to a New York meeting, there were no cabs available, so Rogers and one of his colleagues hopped on the subway. Esquire reported that the car was filled with people, and they assumed they wouldn't be noticed. But when the crowd spotted Rogers, they all simultaneously burst into song, chanting "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood." The result made Rogers smile wide.

9. He got into TV because he hated TV. The first time he turned one on, he saw people angrily throwing pies in each other's faces. He immediately vowed to use the medium for better than that. Over the years he covered topics as varied as why kids shouldn't be scared of a haircut, or the bathroom drain (because you won't fit!), to divorce and war.

10. He was an Ivy League dropout. Rogers moved from Dartmouth to Rollins College to pursue his studies in music.

11. He composed all the songs on the show, and over 200 tunes.

12. He was a perfectionist, and disliked ad libbing. He felt he owed it to children to make sure every word on his show was thought out.

13. Michael Keaton got his start on the show as an assistant. He helped puppeteer and operate the trolley.

14. Several characters on the show are named for his family. Queen Sara is named after Rogers' wife, and the postman Mr. McFeely is named for his maternal grandfather who always talked to him like an adult, and reminded young Fred that he made every day special just by being himself. Sound familiar? It was the same way Mister Rogers closed every show.

15. The sweaters. Every one of the cardigans he wore on the show had been hand-knit by his mother.

Available at:
Thank you, Mr. Rogers, for making me happy (for at least a half hour a day) for the first eight years of my life, and for being genuinely nice to me that time I met you. I’m sorry I was too old to think meeting you was cool, but too young to appreciate what a momentous occasion it was. If I could meet you now, I would tell you that I love you and that I will strive (when I remember) to be true to the values you tried to instill in me.
And thank you, Mangesh Hattikudor, for sharing this information with me, reminding me to be more like Mr. Rogers, and putting a little sunshine in my day. I vow that I will continue to read what you write, and sharing it with others, if you continue to write about such important topics.

I enjoy my lentils and spinach for early dinner, because every food deserves to be loved.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Day 20, Wednesday: You don’t gnome me

A year or so back, my mom (I love you) gave me this baking pan.
After seriously considering several candidates of woodland creatures, toy-making little people, and magical beings, I've concluded that they're supposed to be gnomes. Either way, it hasn't much mattered, since I’m not exactly a prolific (or good) baker, and I’ve only used the pans once. Today I am inspired by my newly acquired sugar, and I decide to make rice “cakes.” Note- my quotation marks are appropriate (but exceedingly less funny than here:)
Or here:
Whereas most of my prior endeavors have resulted in a sticky and fairly disgusting rice paste, today proves to be the inopportune time that I finally perfect the art of cooking rice. This would be splendid if I were making a nice stir fry, but demonstrably bad for making rice cakes. I melt the sugar and mix it into the rice, hoping to create a rice mush, but to no avail. Butter would be nice here. Egg would help. But I have neither, of course. Undeterred, I jam the mixture into my gnome forms.

Fifteen minutes later, I pop the rice gnomes out of the oven, flip ‘em over, and I’ve got two non-descript slightly sweetened piles of rice. I eat them both. Unlike the Travelocity Gnome, or the Roaming Gnome (from that prank where you steal your neighbor's garden gnome and mail them pictures of it in front of various world landmarks) I am transported nowhere, physically or transcendentally. They’re about a five on the delicious scale, but still fun, since I got to use the gnome pan.

Incidentally, I took this picture last fall at a friend’s (you Gnow who you are) house, which further exhibits fun-with-gnomes:
Lentils & Spinach for lunch, couple blackberries for dessert

Early dinner of red beans & rice

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 19, Tuesday: Happy Inauguration Day!

As we all know, high-end cosmetics are a right in this country, not a privilege. Today I do my patriotic duty, entering the hallowed halls of Neiman Marcus to collect my hard-earned share of the spoils from a class action suit brought by some fancy house-wives with far too much spare time and resources ( Apparently, they (house-wives and attorneys) got some fool judge to agree that the horribly overpriced crap they buy was horribly overpriced, and now we’re all getting free makeup because of it. Today, those of us who like to own horribly overpriced cosmetics, but have the common sense to avoid horribly overpriced cosmetics, can be owners of horribly overpriced cosmetics without hiding the receipt from our husbands. To be admitted to the class, one need only admit (or pretend) that she, too, forked over an exorbitant amount of (pretend) money for a miniscule amount of eye cream in a (pretend) moment of weakness.

After zero minutes of research, I have been unable to confirm or deny whether Mr. Obama had his hand in today’s nationwide free cosmetics give away, but I am almost certain that it is no mere coincidence this momentous event takes place in the first week – nay, the first day, of our first hot president’s* inauguration. Mr Obama is undoubtedly aware of the fact that the rising cost of department store cosmetics in America is one of the main factors in our declining economy.

Which is why, I’m sure he, personally, made sure less fortunate Americans like myself could have access to Lancome Primordial Cell Defense (which would normally put you back$64.)

My advanced money-saving skillz make a lunch of red beans & rice all that much sweeter.

I eat lentils and spinach for dinner before we go to Manuel’s Tavern to celebrate the end of the Bush era, and Jessica’s actual birthday. I must admit, (kinda) guiltily, that the joint celebration makes me extra happy, since Jessica is a Republican. I don’t drink anything, but I pocket like ten sugar packets. They don’t have a purpose yet, but they will.

* It is true that this claim is contested by many sadly misguided presidential enthusiasts. These people can be lumped into two camps: (1) those who are under the erroneous belief that the first hot president was JFK, and (2) those who are under the erroneous belief that the first hot president was Bill Clinton. Like a Southern Baptists who refuses to accept evolution despite the glaring evidence, these people will not be swayed no matter the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Indisputably, it would be cooler to smoke a J with JFK or Clinton, than it would be to burn one with Obama (who always smokes your weed while he talks about the kine bud he used to get back in Hawaii, and then ruins your high by guilt tripping you into giving some bum your pizza, and lecturing you about “how we should really get out there and help people.”) While this is, without a doubt, indicative of one’s ability to lead the free world, it is not considered a factor in the time-tested, world-wide standardized hotness algorithm.

Both presidents, as sixes, fall a full two points short of attaining hotness status. JFK had a hot wife, but his eyes were far too close together. Clinton, who does not have a hot wife, is cursed with a potato shaped nose. Unlike Obama, who glows beneath that baby-smooth skin, both presidents, could have seriously benefitted from a little Botox. Finally, both lose a point for being far too accessible (in females, we refer to this same trait as whore-bagishness.)

All three presidents share a lady-killer smile, but Obama, with that toned (but not in an ostentatious look-at-my-washboard-abs sort of way) body,
and those empathetic and expressive (but not wrinkly) eyes, framed in delicate long black lashes, is an eight, losing a points only for (1) having giant ears, and for (2) not coming out in favor of gay marriage (clearly not comfortable with his own sexuality, which is SO not hot.)

Day 18, Monday: Stuck

Some people learn from their mistakes. Typically, I repeat mine until the external world adapts to me. So, like every single Monday prior, I press the snooze button exactly eleven times, leaving me just enough time to shower, put on the pretty, and zip off to work, getting me in the door and ready to work four minutes late (which is on time for me. One hates to appear too eager.) As usual, I’ve begun my week without the most important meal of the day. I’ve brought my lunch, though, so the day isn’t all bad. Red beans and rice hold me over until I get home.

Today, my mind is not on food, but on a far more important topic, stickers. I love stickers. I always have. My parents, having themselves forgotten the joys of adhesive images, believed stickers to be a waste of money and rarely, if ever, bought them for us children. This inflated the value of stickers in my young mind, and caused me much emotional turmoil. The free-spirited child wanted to beautify my surroundings, adorning the world with pasted puppies and scratch-and-sniff flowers. The practical child knew that as soon as I stuck them to something, they would be gone, so I would keep them on the sheet, adhesive intact for as long as possible.

Alphabet stickers created a unique predicament. You’ve decked out your Trapper Keeper, Caboodle, and boom-box with your name, but now you’re out of “e” or “a” or “s,” or whatever letter your name’s got too many of. Shit. You had to promise to get all A’s in Social Studies to get these, and Mom and Dad sure as hell aren’t going to run out to Michael’s and buy you another sheet, since you haven’t done your homework for three weeks. So you get creative, and start spelling things differently. "Andrew" becomes "andRu" and "Jennifer" is now spelling her name "Jemifer."

I’m hoping this is what happened to some stores around town. Krispy Kreme was supposed to be Crispy Cream, but they ran out of “C’s.” And I guess that’s okay, since, from what I remember, it hasn’t affected the taste. But I’m sure as heeeeel not getting my hair done at Klassi Klips. If you can’t afford to more stickers, there’s probably a reason, and I’m assuming it’s the lack of repeat customers. Oh, and by the way, replacing the “Y” with an “I,” NOT CUTE! I hope they ran out of stickers at the sign store, Klassi Klips. I hope it didn’t go down with you squealing “Klassi Klips is the Cuuuuuuutttest salon name!” in a high pitched voice (not unlike my own), quite literally enchanted by how much Cuter your sign would be than that of your neighbor’s hideously misnamed shop, Classy Clips. I'll go ahead and assume it was a sticker problem, because you can't seriously think thats a good name.

So, anyways, I got some Miley Cyrus stickers, and I can’t figure out where to put them.

Red Beans and rice at dinner, with second helpings. Two blackberries for dessert. I realize I should have physically gone into Burger King to get Adam’s food yesterday. Not only is the drive through bad for the environment, I could have jacked some condiments.