Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Fate of All Fruit

Another exciting New Year's Eve at Richard Bonomo's house, where we ended up looking up the word "trousers" in the dictionary because of an argument about how it differs from the word "pants." We had some eggnog with rum to toast the New Year early (since we weren't sure if we would last till midnight), and then Anna Banana II and I became very giggly, Jilly Moose became very random, and Kathbert became very quotable. About an orange that rotted in Rich's kitchen she said, "It suffered the fate of all fruit." About a person who complains but then eats everything, she said, "She doesn't like anything... except for everything." And we know there were some more, but now we're having trouble remembering them. Kathbert would like to have it noted for the record that she, Anna Banana II, and I were right about the pants vs. trousers argument, and Rich was wrong. However, he will not admit that he was wrong so she just offered to draw him a Venn diagram. Happy 2012!

Famous Hat

Friday, December 30, 2011

My Resolve

New Year’s Eve is almost upon us, and people are making resolutions. I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions since I make them at any time that it occurs to me to do so, but this year I have thought of things I want to improve at just the right time. So here are my resolutions:

1. Finish projects. Of course there are occasions when you cannot help leaving a project unfinished, but I feel like for me it is a way of life. I will try my hardest to finish up at least one of my novels in 2012.

2. Anticipate problems. This is a real weakness of mine, and one I get chewed out for at work all the time. My office mate Light Bright suggested I think of the worst case scenario every time I get a task at work and then prepare to make sure that can’t happen. This sounds like a good plan for everything, not just work.

3. Lift weights. I actually started doing this regularly a couple of months ago, so this is less of a new resolution than a continuation.

Feel free to leave your own resolutions in the comments.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 29, 2011

No Birthday Crown

I can’t complain about the weather today. It’s so warm out there I practically could have put my houseplants out to enjoy the sunlight. What I do have to complain about is my trip to the dentist, not because of the usual pain of having them poke at my gums and scrape my teeth, as unpleasant as that is. Six years ago I got a crown put on my back molar, and now they tell me I need a new one because the tooth is going bad again. Is this how it is when you have a crown? Does it need to be updated every six years? I have been pretty lucky in the dental department for years, so I don’t have supplemental dental insurance and will have to up my flex spending account. Painful! And it was no fun having the crown put on for my birthday last time, so this time I am going to wait a week. They say it needs to be done as soon as possible, but I’m not falling for that again and wasting my birthday having dental work done.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Recap

I hope all my readers had a wonderful Christmas! Mine was very musical, as usual. We had our “Midnight Mass” at five on Christmas Eve, and then I sang at the Lutheran church for their late service and went to Fruit Soup at the choir director’s place. Got to bed around 2:30 am and got up about eight (yawn!) for Christmas Day Mass. After that I took a looong nap. We had a big crowd at Rich’s house, as usual, and this year he had TWO Christmas trees – one he bought in the den and one from Luxuli’s husband in the living room. I made my cassata and eggnog with some help from a father-daughter team. We separated a dozen eggs in no time! Anna Banana II made the pound cake for the cassata, so that was a team effort as well, plus thanks to Rich for helping frost it. We had plenty of other desserts too, like chocolate bread pudding and chocolate chip cake and pumpkin pie. For the main course we had Rich's authentic Italian lasagne, and of course Cecil Markovitch’s famous spinach salad for a side. As Cecil said, “What a feast!”

Yesterday I had off of work so I slept in, went to the gym with Hardingfele, and then started reading a book my office mate Light Bright lent me, The Hunger Games. It is technically a “young adult” book and I’m not so young anymore, but I’m enjoying it anyway. Then leftovers for dinner at another friend’s house. Today I’m back at work, and it is very quiet, so I found a way to entertain myself: scan documents that nobody else will ever look again anyway, and then get rid of the paper copies. This way I freed up a lot of space in my office but I still have the information if anyone ever asks for it again.

Famous Hat

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Monsterumi Carolers

KNOCK! KNOCK!  Carolers at the door! It's my little Monsterumi creatures, a crab on soprano and a three-eyed, two-horned monster on alto, wishing you a Merry Christmas.


Famous Hat

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bar Joke for Musicians

I don't know who to give credit to for this joke, but it's too funny not to post!

C, E-flat and G go into a bar. The bartender says, "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So E-flat leaves, and C and G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished and G is out flat. F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

D comes in and heads for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me. I'll just be a second." Then A comes in, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor. Then the bartender notices B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and says, "Get out! You're the seventh minor I've found in this bar tonight."

E-Flat comes back the next night in a three-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender says, "You're looking sharp tonight. Come on in, this could be a major development." Sure enough, E-flat soon takes off his suit and everything else, and is au natural.

Eventually C sobers up and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. C is brought to trial, found guilty of contributing to the diminution o f a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of D.S. without Coda at an upscale
correctional facility.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Missing Trailer

Sad but true story: my office mate Light Bright’s parents had a trailer stolen. They are in another state so there is not much she can do, but she decided to post an ad on Craig’s List, in case someone ran across a trailer by that description for sale. Her ad described the trailer and its contents and then said “Happy Holidays!” Immediately she got an email response as follows:


I am not making any of this up.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookie Exchange

Today we had our cookie exchange at work. I baked my cookies Monday night, using the 1942 recipe and some ninja men cutters Toque McToque had given me, as well as a wineglass to make circles. (I made the dark dough recipe.) This time I used half blackstrap molasses and half sorghum syrup, and the cookies turned out really darn tasty. Then last night I frosted them with the frosting recipe from 1942.

There were many varieties of cookies at the exchange. My favorites (besides mine, of course) were a chocolate orange one and a chocolate and peanut butter pinwheel, and also a cookie base with caramel and dark chocolate over it. But I haven't tried them all yet, so I may find more favorites.

My office mate Light Bright participated in the exchange, then afterwards she gave me all her cookies, saying she didn't want them and her husband had requested that she not bring home four dozen cookies. Monday night Toque had given me some cookies, and then this evening A-Joz gave me chocolate bars with apricot frosting. So many cookies, so little time. Good thing I have friends to help me eat them!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Christmas Present

I am glad to hear so many of you enjoyed the movie of objects at my parents’ house, even if nobody left a comment on that post. It makes me think that I should have made a second movie of the Christmas present my parents gave me. (They also gave me towels, a blanket, slippers, and a dream catcher they got free in the mail.) Picture this: a two-foot tall, bright green stuffed grasshopper with its hands pressed together in prayer, and then its other four legs with sneakers on them, and a big heart on its chest. Now imagine that you press a sneaker, and the grasshopper sings a chipper little evangelical Christian song about being a great kid that God loves. Imagine for a moment that each of the four legs AND the heart on the chest play a different song in that style. Now wouldn’t that have made a fantastic movie? And where, you might wonder, did my parents find something like that?? Would you believe a florist shop? So next time you need a stuffed grasshopper that sings happy Christian songs for kids, look at your local flower shop.

Famous Hat

Sunday, December 18, 2011

At My Parents' House

I am visiting my parents. Here is a brief movie of objects they have around their house.

Famous Hat

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Photos of Queensland

Here are some more photos from Rich's trip to Australia. These are from his trip up to the tropical north, in Queensland. First, Christmas in the tropics:

A beautiful tree

St. Monica's War Memorial Cathedral

This window has images from the Hubble telescope.

In Australia, watch out for cassowaries.

Also watch for stingers in the water.


Beautiful beaches, but with many hazards.

Like crocodiles.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Great Barrier Reef

Richard Bonomo is back from Australia, and he rented an underwater camera to take some photos of the Great Barrier Reef. Here are a few.


Giant Clam


This next creature (pictured in front of another snorkler) is a free-swimming animal Rich described as "a piece of cellophane with black jellybeans imbedded in it." He said he also saw a creature that looked like a scrubber for washing the dishes swimming around.

Famous Hat

Holiday Potluck

Today we had a holiday potluck at work. I attempted to bake cookies from memory – NOT a good idea. I did not put nearly enough sugar into them, and Light Bright declared them barely edible. Fortunately, she had accidentally doubled the recipe for the peanut butter cream pie she was making, thus ending up with two, so she let me carry one into the potluck so that I did not enter empty-handed. That’s what office mates are for – the good ones always have your back.

There were all sorts of things to eat at the potluck, including an obscene number of desserts, but nobody had thought to bring plates so Light Bright, another woman, and I went to borrow some from the cafeteria. As we were returning with armfuls of plates, another woman showed up with paper plates, but she may not have had enough so it was good we had the extras. Hopefully nobody had to go without their salad bar because of us!

We were supposed to wear tacky holiday sweaters to the potluck, but the closest thing I have is a sweater with snowflakes on it, and I don’t consider it that tacky, just winterish. Some people did have magnificently tacky holiday sweaters, like one with tiny stockings hanging off of it. Light Bright forgot and just wore a purple sweater. “It’s seasonal,” she said. “Isn’t purple a holiday color for the church?” I said it was the color of Advent, and Advent is now, so maybe she had a point.

Here are the lessons we learned from our potluck: bring plates. Use a recipe. Don’t let someone bully you into making something if you’d rather just bring eggnog. And we hear it is very hard to find tacky sweaters at used clothing stores right now because they are in such high demand. Keep these tips in mind, and you will be fully prepared for your own holiday potluck.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 12, 2011

Alternative Map of the USA

This came from Toque McToque, and I don't know who to give credit for it, or even what to make of it. It is labeled "Teabagger Nation" but would appear to be a map of the country as drawn by a Nebraskan. Anyone who wants to hazard a guess of what connection there is between Nebraska and the Tea Party can feel free to leave a comment.

Famous Hat

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Montauk Point: Improved!

I have cleaned up the music to "Montauk Point" and think it is a lot better now, although the timing on the video doesn't seem quite as good. Let me know what you think.

Famous Hat

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Messiah Lessons

Here are some lessons I learned during our performance of Messiah last night:

1. Baroque music is very forgiving. At one point in "And He Shall Purify," an instrumentalist came in half a measure too early, but because of the nature of Baroque music, it just sounded like an ornament, not an oops. It was like a little fugal section. Then the woman next to me resolved a suspension too soon, but that sounded fine too.

2. Messiah should be listened to as an organic whole. Granted, we didn't do the entire thing because the orchestra is union so we couldn't go over two and a half hours or they would be paid overtime, but we did almost all of it. I am very bad about skipping all the boring arias and recitatives when I am listening to the piece on a CD and going right for the choruses, but being forced to listen to the whole thing made me see how the story builds.

3. The audience gets more respect than the performers. Seriously, the orchestra and soloists were all paid, but we in the choir were volunteer and we didn't even get cookies like the audience did. I only got one because at intermission I went out among the audience, looking for Cecil Markovitch (who was not there), and discovered the cookies.

4. Being part of something larger is amazing. I am a chorister, not a soloist, by nature. I love being an anonymous part of the choir (though not as anonymous as Kathbert, whose name didn't even get in the program) and dressing all in black like everyone else. There is something incredible about being part of something much larger, like a choir, and blending with everyone else. Besides, I don't really like the operatic style the soloists sing in. That's why I skip the solos on the CD.

5. The music and the story will always move people. Messiah might be overplayed, but the music really is beautiful, and the arc of the story will always inspire people. The very basics of our Christian faith can be summed up in the contrast between the tender strains of "For Unto Us a Child Is Born" (which does hint at what is to come) and the grandeur of the Final Coming so beautifully illustrated in "Worthy Is the Lamb." Our God has come to us as a helpless infant, as we will celebrate in fifteen days, and one day He will come in all His Glory.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 9, 2011

Objective Luck Scale

The other day Toque McToque and I were discussing an objective scale for rating luck. She was of the opinion that we always overestimate the luck of others and underestimate our own, and I am in complete agreement. What we were actually wondering is, do people become luckier with age? I feel luckier the older I get, and Richard Bonomo seems much luckier now than when I first met him years ago, but Toque couldn’t say if she were any luckier as the years passed. That is why we decided to create an objective scale of luckiness with luck points.

One luck point = elevator comes right when you call it.

Two luck points = elevator comes before you even call it.

Five luck points = finding a dollar bill on the ground.

Ten luck points = finding a twenty dollar bill on the ground.

One hundred luck points = loving your job.

Five hundred luck points = finding your life partner.

One thousand luck points = winning the lottery.

Feel free to use this to see if you are getting luckier in your life, and let me know the results in the comments section.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Addiction (Holiday Edition)

Thank goodness they have Mass here at the chapel at work! Today is a day of obligation, as I hope at least a few of my readers know, but tonight is our dress rehearsal for the Messiah so I couldn’t make it right after work. Not a problem when there’s a Mass just downstairs!

As my regular readers know, I am something of a rosary aficionado. OK, make that flat-out addict. This point was brought home most decisively when I received a Christmas card in the mail from a group of monks from whom I have bought a number of rosaries this year. How good a customer do you have to be to get a Christmas card? It gets worse. Much worse. Inside the card was an order form for a FREE gift to thank me for being such a loyal customer, and most of the choices were – you guessed it – rosaries. Do they not care at all? How will I ever kick the habit if monks are offering to send me free rosaries in the mail to thank me for buying way too many rosaries?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hoarse from Handel

Once again this year I am singing in Handel’s Messiah, and the music is so demanding that I get kind of hoarse after every practice. Usually the practices are two grueling hours of singing, but last night there was a one-hour practice that was not mandatory. When I said to my office mate Light Bright that I was thinking of going, she said, “I wouldn’t if I were you. You know the music, and practice always makes you hoarse.” So last night I went home and thought about calling Hardingfele to go work out at the gym, which I really need to do more of, but then I decided it was only an hour practice, how much damage could it do? So I went. Today I am hoarse, and Light Bright said, “You didn’t go to practice, did you?” Not sure why this is happening to my voice. My advanced age? Is my technique bad? Any of my readers who are singers (I know there are a couple of you) are welcome to leave me advice in the comments.

Famous Hat

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wonderful Winter Weekend

This was a fantastic weekend for music. Friday night A-Joz and I went to a Christmas concert, sitting up in the nosebleed seats where we were far above two angels hanging above the stage. Still, I was able to pick out the Fabulous Jackie O in the back row of the choir. Sunday I went to another Christmas concert with Kathbert and Luxuli, this one at Lutheran Cathedral of the West. The university choirs performed the first and last pieces together, surrounding us with a wall of beautiful sound.

It was also a great weekend for games. Both the Packers and the Badgers played in close games where the outcome was far from certain, which made them very exciting. In both cases, they managed come out on top. Yay, teams! The Badgers are now bound for the Rose Bowl, and the Packers remain undefeated.

Saturday night Tiffy and I went to the hookah lounge in the ‘hood for some Mediterranean eats and a hookah before the Badger game. We were surprised that the people at the next table had a child with them, since what about a hookah lounge implies child friendliness? The kid seemed bored out of his mind, but at least his parents weren’t smoking a hookah or, worse yet, letting him smoke one. It reminds me of the time years ago that I saw a woman bring two little kids to “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” There’s a reason they show it at midnight, people.

The end of the weekend was just as wonderful, when Luxuli and her husband invited Kathbert and me over for dinner and conversation. I hated to have to leave, but I did have to get to bed in order to wake up (barely) this morning for work.

Famous Hat

Friday, December 2, 2011

Bluebird of Happiness

I just love this, which came in an email from my cousin and is originally from the I Can Has Cheezeburger website:

Angry Birds come to life! But it's OK, I'm not scared - I'm not an evilly laughing pig.

Famous Hat

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Foreign Language Instruction

I always find it fascinating what phrases our instructors teach us in foreign languages. For example, Toque McToque said she learned how to say “life isn’t fair” in her Spanish class, which led me to wonder about the objectivity of her teacher. Just sayin.’ In Portuguese classes in college, we had a unit on asking people their signs of the zodiac and another one on travel that included the word for hijack. It has always been a great comfort to me to know that if I am ever on a Brazilian airline, I could say, “Good day, my name is Famous Hat, I am a Capricorn, and I am hijacking this airplane.” You never know when that could come in handy.

If you really want to blow your foreign language instructor’s mind, you could do what I did: learn all your German from Bach cantatas and then take a German conversational class. This is a very good idea if you like being asked why your entire German vocabulary seems to consist of 18th century words for Heaven, Hell, Devil, and singing.

As my regular readers no doubt already know, I spent a summer in the Basque area of Spain when I was twenty, and there I learned really practical Basque phrases, like, “How much does this beer cost?” The family I lived with quickly realized that I understood Spanish pretty well, so they talked to me in Spanish when they wanted me to understand and used Basque when they didn’t want me to know what they were saying. However, the only bad words I learned were in Spanish.

In French class we once learned a bad word when our teacher dropped a framed picture of Notre Dame she was showing us, and the glass cracked. She didn’t mean to teach us that word, it just slipped out. It means poop, if you see what I’m saying.

My parents once gave me tapes to learn Gaelic, but then they asked to borrow them back and they will not return them. Every time I ask, they say, “We’re not done with them, and you weren’t really using them anyway, were you?” So the only phrase I know in Gaelic is a dirty one that is probably not on the tapes.

I think everyone should learn a foreign language. I have never heard anyone say, “Man, do I regret all those semesters of French! I could have been learning something really useful instead!” If you want all that French to be useful, just go to France. Or Montreal.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Midweek Musings

Just to prove how old I am, I will admit that once in first grade I took part in a bombing raid drill. It was very scary, but I do find myself wondering what good it would have done us to duck under our desks, since by then the weapons were nuclear. Is there some advantage to being evaporated under your desk as opposed to sitting at it? Maybe this is why we never had another one. It was very terrifying as a six-year-old to hear that strange siren, even scarier than a regular tornado siren, and then have to dive below my desk. This was at a Catholic school, so maybe they were behind the times since most people who remember these drills are a generation ahead of me. Still, the Cold War continued on through the 80’s yet we never did another drill. Had they realized the futility of hiding under a desk from a nuclear warhead?

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super D@mn Holy

The other night I was talking with Richard Bonomo, Kathbert, and Luxuli when the subject turned to personal holiness, and Luxuli said something about people who are “super d@mn holy.” We all found that hilarious, and Kathbert said I had to write a blog post with that title, so here goes. How do you know when you are super d@mn holy? Is it like Zen enlightenment, when if you have to ask, you haven’t achieved it? In my experience, the further I progress in the spiritual life, the worse of a sinner I seem to be. From what I’ve read of the lives of the saints, that is a pretty common feeling, so the closer you get to super d@mn holy, the less holy you feel. Therefore, it seems likely that if you feel close to super d@mn holy, you must have a ways to go. Not that I am close, by any means, but my guess is that I’m closer now than when I was younger and more smugly sure of my own holiness. So here’s my assessment: if you know for a fact you are not holy at all, you are probably right. If you are working on your spiritual life but feel like you have a long way to go, you are making good progress. If you are sure you are super d@mn holy, it may be time to take another look at yourself.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thankful for Time Off

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday break. Mine started well, when the Packers beat the Lions after Bad Guy Suh got thrown out of the game. If you missed it, let’s just say you don’t usually need to slam a guy’s head into the ground three times while trying to get back on your feet. The Lions seemed to be outplaying the Pack at first, but they got a LOT of penalties and lost a lot of yardage, and once they started playing nicer, the Pack wiped the floor with them. Maybe there is a lesson about playing nicely for the kiddies in all this, or even for politicians.

We had a smaller crowd at Thanksgiving dinner this year, only sixteen, but it was wonderful to have Rosa Peligrosa come visit from the West Coast. Too bad A-Fooze was unable to make it from the East Coast. Friday morning a few of us had breakfast with Rosa Peligrosa, then I delivered a cuddly rosary which was for a baby boy and was very masculine-looking, hunter green with a black Our Father bead. Ma Hat is still making them on commission, and she will happily make them whatever color you request. Then a small group of us had Thanksgiving Part II.

Saturday Tiffy came to town and helped me bake the light cookie dough recipe from 1942, which tasted a little like scones. It was really good and not too sweet. Now I have to decide which flavor would be better for the cookie exchange at work next month. Then Tiffy and I went to a Baroque music concert to hear some music free from the tyranny of equal temperament, and mostly in minor keys to boot. So lovely!

Yesterday for the first Sunday of Advent I actually made it to the Lutheran church and had some coffee there (Reformation Roast), then I had a cup of tea at Rich’s house, and then I met the Rosary Ladies at a coffee shop and had some Mexican hot chocolate, so I was well-caffeinated. Luxuli had a project for her music theory class, so Kathbert and I helped her with that after yet more Thanksgiving leftovers and more tea. Now I am back to work and will have to exercise like crazy and eat almost nothing to make up for this weekend!

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Construction Guys

Did you ever want to trade jobs with someone? For example, my view is being blocked by a new building going up, and I love to watch the construction guys. Sometimes they saw holes in the walls and sometimes they ride around on things that look like zambonis. Now I am too scared of heights to want to ride a zamboni nine stories up, but it still seems like a fun thing to get paid to do. When the weather is lovely, then I really envy them, but they are also out there when it is cold or rainy, although one day when it was snowing they all seemed to have the day off. One day they all left at 3:00 as if their shift was over, but other times they work long after dark, using floodlights. I wonder if they ever look at my window and wonder what the person behind it does, and if they wish they could trade places, but I doubt it. Presumably they are not afraid of heights, and if they love being way up there, then they are probably super happy… plus they get paid! Pretty well, from what I hear. It is easy to idealize any job that is outdoors, but of course it is always possible that they wish they had desk jobs. After all, people always seem to want what they do not have.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I Hab a Code

Whud? I cad hear you. By ears are sduffed ub. How ab I?  I’b good. A code? You cad dell? Baybe I’b a liddle sduffed up. Add hoarse, yes, I dode usually zound ligue dis. Dode worry, I wode breed on you. Do you hab a gough drob? My droad is gillig be. Dangs! Dad’s all I hab to zay dooday.

Famous Hat

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lutheran Cathedral Cookbook Potluck

Saturday night Richard Bonomo and I went to a potluck at Lutheran Cathedral of the West, and I brought my 1942 cookies, which were a big hit. What I hadn’t realized is that it was a Lutheran Cathedral cookbook potluck, so we were supposed to make a recipe from their brand-new cookbook. However, the parish had created a cookbook previously, and it just happened to be in 1942, so then everyone thought my cookies were from the original cookbook so I actually looked cooler than everyone else, not more clueless. Rich, of course, was the man of the hour because of his speech defending their church. There was a raffle in which everyone seemed to win except for Banjo Player’s husband and me, and a Lutheran Cathedral trivia game that our table did terribly on, since we were either not parishioners or relatively recent ones. What did we not win? The chance to have our photos taken while wearing paper chef hats and holding plastic spoons! So you can see what a disappointment that was. What I really was disappointed about was that the bus buddy who gave me the 1942 cookie recipe, who is a member of Lutheran Cathedral, injured her knee and so was not at the potluck. I was imagining the look on her face when I told her where I got the recipe!

Famous Hat

Saturday, November 19, 2011

1942 Cookie Recipe

Just an update to my Military Cookie post: I did actually try making the cookie recipe for dark dough. The dough was really sticky and hard to work with, but the cookies turned out pretty well, especially when frosted using the recipe also included. I did not make military shapes but just used a wine glass to cut out circles, which I then decorated using my copper-color food coloring and copper sprinkles. The sweetness of the frosting recipe offset the dark, strong flavor of the molasses cookies. I liked them, but because the dough was so difficult to work with, I am going to try making the light dough recipe to see if that would work well for the cookie exchange. I would give the dark cookie recipe three stars out of five, because it tastes good but is a lot of work to deal with. It is worth making once just to see what cookies were like in 1942, which is a lot less sweet than modern cookies.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cuddly Rosaries in Any Color

Ma Hat has decided she is not going to make any more Cuddly Rosaries unless people commission them. She says they are fun to make, so feel free to commission one or two or however many you like. They are $21 and can be any color you like. Here is what her most recent commission said:

It's a great toy that makes NO noise :)

Contact me if you would like to commission Ma Hat to make a Cuddly Rosary.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christmas Cookies This Year

We are doing a cookie exchange at work again, and just today a bus buddy gave me this ad from 1942. Nothing says Christmas like cookies shaped like bombs and tanks!

Famous Hat

Monday, November 14, 2011


I don't know who to give credit for this, but Hardingfele sent it to me to post on the blog, so I am.

Famous Hat

Friday, November 11, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Baroque Eye Doctor

Hardingfele requested that I blog about a misadventure yesterday, which wasn’t so much a misadventure for me. The two of us were planning to attend a talk on the eye doctor who did surgery on both Bach and Handel, and since I had come to work early for a meeting, I left a little early to get to the talk on time. Hardingfele, who had told me about the talk, then sent me an email after I would have left normally saying she couldn’t make it, was I still going? Meanwhile I went to the talk, which was very entertaining, but which did not have much to do with Bach or Handel. They were only mentioned briefly. It was mostly about the career of this eye doctor. Hardingfele says this is the misadventure I should blog about today, but I’m not sure if she means that she missed it, or that it had so little to do with music. Anyway, it was a good talk except that some of the descriptions of eighteenth-century eye surgery were very cringe-inducing. I’m glad I had my eye surgery in the twenty-first century when we have Valium and antibiotic eyedrops and lasers! It is a wonderful thing to be able to open my eyes first thing in the morning and see what time the clock says.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Greeting Card Blues

Fourth in a series of musical misadventures.

When I was in high school, I had a crazy civics teacher who was entertainingly easy to confuse. One day someone took the mechanism out of a musical greeting card and stuck it to the ceiling of the classroom, where it continuously played “Happy Birthday to You.” Our teacher was a little hard of hearing so at first he didn’t notice, but eventually he became aware of music emanating from… somewhere. He asked us if we heard it too, but we all denied it. He nearly went crazy searching for the tiny mechanism, and it used up quite a bit of the morning too. (This was a summer school class, so it went much longer than classes during the year.)

That teacher did have some good stories. He kept promising to take us to the courthouse to watch a trial, which he never did, but at least he told us about trials he had seen. One day he took his morning class to a personal injury lawsuit, where the defendant, a large corporation, had a slick, big-city attorney and the plaintiff had a small-town guy like from a TV show, in a jacket and bowtie. It was very entertaining, he told us, but the afternoon class was sitting in on a murder trial, so he warned them it would probably be a lot of boring forensic evidence. Instead, they were cross-examining an eyewitness who got so tired of the questions from the defendant’s attorney that she stood up, jabbed her finger at the defendant, and said, “I know what I saw! I saw this son of a $@#* attack her!” So apparently murder trials aren’t always boring.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Misadventures in Music: Instrument of Peace, Man

Third in a series of musical misadventures.

When I was in first grade at Catholic school, we went to music class once a week. One day the music teacher told us we had an instrument that was part of us, did anyone know what it was? The other kids were throwing out random guesses: “Drums? Trumpet?” I thought of the plaque my parents had on the wall of the St. Francis prayer that begins, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,” so I guessed, “An instrument of God’s peace?” The music teacher just kind of stared at me for a moment, then she said, “Yes, that’s true, but I was thinking of a musical instrument.” She meant our singing voice. But that’s the kind of kid I was; when Sister Mary Pat was trying to teach us the difference between “there” and “their,” I immediately thought of a sentence in which neither seemed right, so she sighed, went to the blackboard, and wrote “they’re.” “I didn’t want to bring this up today,” she said, “but I guess I have to.” I must have been one of the reasons teachers have such high rates of alcoholism.

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Misadventures in Music: The Capricorn CD

Second in a series on musical misadventures.

Once I received a catalog in the mail full of all sorts of New Age things, and I was most intrigued by CDs for each sign of the zodiac. There was no explanation of what sort of music was on the CDs, other than that each one was specially formulated to appeal to that sign of the zodiac, so I called the company. You would think I had asked them what they made pretax in the previous year, they were so secretive about it. The person I talked to repeated what the catalog said, that each CD was specially formulated to appeal to each sign of the zodiac.

“Yes, but what sort of music is it?” I asked. “Classical? I like Baroque but not Romantic. Should I assume all Capricorns feel the same?”

The gentleman on the phone said that he would have to ask and get back to me. I never did hear from him, and upon further reflection I am guessing the CDs were all New Age music that was supposed to, in some vague way, be oriented toward a particular sign of the zodiac. I was not curious enough to order the CD, but to this day I still wonder if I actually would have liked the music on it, and if not, could I have gotten my money back? And would I have had to provide a birth certificate to prove I am an actual Capricorn who didn’t like their CD?

Tangentially, I would like to commemorate the passing of Smokin’ Joe Frazier by wondering why so many boxers are Capricorns. Not just him, but George Foreman and Mohammed Ali. OK, that’s three, but they are the only three boxers I know. I wonder if Smokin’ Joe would have liked the music on the Capricorn CD?

Famous Hat

Monday, November 7, 2011

Misadventures in Music: The Vivaldi Haters

This week on Famous Hat: a series about my misadventures with music.

The spring that I was eleven, I made a shocking discovery: a piece on one of my parents’ records that was attributed to Bach appeared on another one of their records attributed to Vivaldi! What could be going on? The Bach record did include this mystifying phrase: “Bach often borrowed themes from inferior musicians.” First of all, there’s borrowing a theme, and then there’s simply changing a violin concerto into a keyboard piece. Secondly, were they trying to say that Vivaldi, one of my favorite composers ever, was inferior?? This required action in the form of a strongly-worded letter addressed to “The Vivaldi Haters at XYZ Records.” Despite my annoyance, I wrote the note on floral stationery and ended with something like, “Peace, and have a good day.” I never received a reply, and to this day I wondered if anyone actually read my letter or if they all figured they didn’t hate Vivaldi, so the letter wasn’t addressed to them.

Famous Hat

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Pumpkin Carving Fuel

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so instead of having a wordy post today, I thought I would just show this picture Rich took of our pumpkins right after we had carved them. I think the evidence of our liquid refreshment speaks for itself.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Photos

Here are some photos from Halloween, courtesy of Kathbert. First is a shot of our pumpkins: hers, Rich's (which has Maxwell's Equation on it), and mine.

Here is a close-up of Kathbert's pumpkin, showing its ears:

This is Rich's house, with the post ghost before I put sunglasses on it:

Here I am as the Popcorn Ninja with the post ghost:

Here are the pumpkins lit up with a creepy tree branch shadow:

Here is a close-up of Kathbert's pumpkin lit up:

And here is a close-up of Rich's with Maxwell's Equation (Rich's photo):

And here is a close-up of my pumpkin:

And finally, here is Rich's porch with the lights and jack-o-lanterns (second photo courtesy of Rich):

Famous Hat

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Popcorn Ninja

I hope my 5.6 loyal readers had a great Halloween. I spent mine at Richard Bonomo’s house, giving out candy with him and Kathbert. I was the only one who dressed up, wearing my kimono with clouds on it and an obi wrapped around my head. Rich put up the Halloween lights he accidentally bought, thinking they were Christmas lights. Our three jack-o-lanterns looked spooky in the shadow of a pine tree. Rich and Kathbert even made the post that will someday be part of the railing on Rich’s front porch into a ghost wearing sunglasses. The stage was set and we were ready to give out candy. Rich and Kathbert took photos, so I will hopefully post some soon.

Since Rich lives in the ‘hood, the kids who came to his house were mostly black or Hispanic, and they were all very polite. No problems in his neighborhood with “commuter” trick-or-treaters like in Hardingfele’s neighborhood! As I was happily handing out candy to one group, a boy of about eight said, “You’re a popcorn ninja!” As soon as they were gone, I asked Rich and Kathbert what he meant by that.

“Is it because I’m white?” I wondered.

“No, it’s because the clouds on your kimono look like popcorn,” said Kathbert.

Then I felt very lame, seeing possible racial slurs where none were meant. I also thought what an awesome title Popcorn Ninja would have been for this blog. Just a reminder that sometimes the obvious and benign answer is the correct one, after all.

Famous Hat

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Devil's Lake Fall Colors

Here are some photos from a trip I took to Devil's Lake a couple of weeks ago with Richard Bonomo, Tiffy, Anna Banana II, and OK Cap.

And this picture I took for Hardingfele: lichen in the form of the Cubs' C!

Famous Hat

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Grave Matter

Sorry for no blog post yesterday. My office mate Light Bright and I took another field trip, this one just on our lunch break. It all began when I read a campus missive that said there were two graves on the hill in the middle of campus, which was news to me. Light Bright and the friend she had been planning to go to lunch with were game to go try to find the graves, so we hopped on the free campus bus and headed to the hill. At the top of the hill is a statue of Abraham Lincoln, and the graves reputedly were right by Abe, marked with bronze markers. We searched and searched for the markers to no avail, so we headed back to work and thought at least it was a fun break. Then we did an internet search, and these markers are about two inches square! No wonder we missed them! The graves are both from the 1830's and one guy was hit by lightning while the other one died of typhoid fever, and yes, they are there. It is not a campus legend.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

My Magic Life

I may not have a magic wand, but I do have hats and rabbits, like any good magician. And here is a bit of magic that happened in my life today: I went to what I thought would be a training session on a grants website, and it was a big gripe session! Oh yeah. It was not a promising beginning: we had a meeting earlier today in which I could barely stay awake, and then I had to take the bus down to campus (sorry, Hardingfele, no time to meet up with you), and it is cold and windy out. I was not looking forward to this training, but supposedly it was required for those of us who work on training grants, so I went. Then we were all sitting around the table, and the leader said, “OK, who has anything bad to say about this website?” She quickly amended it to asking who had any positives when everyone started to talk at once. Going into the details of why this website sucks would bore my faithful readers so I’ll just leave it at this: it was a very animated discussion. Certainly way more interesting than what I was expecting. Abracadabra!

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ten Commandments for the Rich and Powerful

Sometimes Toque McToque and I wonder what Bible some of these self-proclaimed Christians are reading. My Bible has a lot of stuff in it about how God protects the widow, the orphan, and the alien, and He will not be too nice to anyone who oppresses them. Is that not in their Bible too? It sure doesn’t seem that way, when they want to make things tougher for the poor and for immigrants and easier for the wealthy. Toque has come up with what she thinks might be the Ten Commandments in their Bible:

I. Thou shalt hold onto thy money

II. Thou shalt speak only with a sharp tongue

III. Thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s wife and lie about it

IV. Thou shalt laugh at the poor

V. Thou shalt misquote the Lord, thy God

VI. Thou shalt taketh more than what is rightfully yours

VII. Thou shalt destroy the environment

VIII. Thou shalt use devious ways to get into power

IX. Thou shalt shun all education

X. Thou shalt be very unpleasant in general

I would just like to know when greed became a virtue. In my Bible, it is one of the seven deadly sins. So why do so many people who claim to follow Christ seem to be so greedy?

Famous Hat

Monday, October 24, 2011

Field Trip!

Today my office mate Light Bright and I went on a field trip. It was a gorgeous day, so it was great fun to get away from the office. We went to the new Student Union which neither of us had seen yet. I remembered the old one being a dingy, unattractive building, but the new one is stunning, with lots of natural light and natural materials. We took a tour of the conference rooms available for rental (our ostensible reason for visiting) and also checked out a small art gallery with dried intestines and a movie of an eyeball opening and closing set to creepy music. We got there on the free student bus, and I reminisced about how in my day the student bus was only late at night, so we called it the Drunk Bus, and it could get pretty wild. I remember some people bringing a whole mattress on the bus. Light Bright said she was in elementary school then, so I said I would have been her babysitter, and she said, “Who says you aren’t now?” So she bought her babysitter a chai at the coffee counter at the Student Union. It was a great way to waste some time doing something vaguely work-related while enjoying the lovely weather and some delicious chai. Field trips are the best!

Famous Hat

Friday, October 21, 2011

How the Cat Made Hardingfele Catholic (And What She Sold About It)

Today I got the following email from Hardingfele:

So the cat outwitted us again and we last saw him on the neighbor’s roof.  We literally spent 3 hrs looking for him. I then took a walk around the neighborhood and in my Jewish Unitarian brain prayed to St. Tony.  I made a promise to go to Mass if that buff bastard was found. When I came back, there he was in the back yard. So I have to hold up my end of the bargain! 

And that is why Hardingfele is going to Mass with me on Sunday. This is such spamtacular news that South Korean spammers named TERRY (all caps) are contacting her to buy unspecified products:

Hello Sales, I will like to order some of your products and I will want it shipped to our place as follows : Shipping Address: #104 young, Ga-Dong Sewoon Shopping Center Jongro-Gu, Seoul South Korea So i hope to hear from you soon regarding my inquiry and to know where i can view your products you have presently in stock and if there is any special pricing i need to know about. Lastly regarding payment i will be sending you my USA Valid credit card to charge for my order to avoid delays but can you let me know the type of credit cards you accept?Can you work hand in hand with my client freight personal agent? so they can Pickup the products directly from your location down to my client address in SOUTH KOREA I hope to hear from you as soon as possible.


 Maybe Hardingfele can sell little St. Anthony medals.  Just sayin.'

Famous Hat

Thursday, October 20, 2011

They Didn't Want My Blood Today

Today I was in a research study where they had to take 13 tubes of my blood. 13 tubes, y’all! I’m not superstitious, but it did strike me that this was a lot of blood. Then we had a blood drive at work, and I had signed up to give blood, but first I asked if it was safe to give after having 100 mL already taken. They debated about it and finally decided that no, it would not be a good idea, so they deferred me. Here’s the thing, though – before they decided, they did the worst part of any blood donation: the finger prick. If you have given blood, you know the dreaded finger prick well, and since I am often borderline anemic, they sometimes subject me to it twice. This time seemed particularly painful, and when I took my bandage off, there was a bruise. Check it out.

And check out my lack of love line. For those who don't believe in palm reading, I'd like to point out that my lack of love line does actually match my lack of love life.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Selling Out on YouTube

I have some exciting news: YouTube sent me an email saying that I could put ads on my channel! So I signed up for this, and it seems to have done something to the ads on my blog. In case you are wondering where they went, that is my best guess about what happened to them. Too bad, it was very entertaining seeing what kinds of ads got stuck on my posts. However, this means that some of the videos featured on this very blog can generate revenue for me. My “greatest hit” by far is “Italian Wedding Tarantella,” which has been liked by five times as many people (5) as have hated on it (1) and has been viewed by an astonishing 1800 people. It is very interesting to see which of my videos are popular on YouTube; “Tropical Song” has been seen by over 300 people but my best work (and I’m not just saying that, all my friends agree) is “Non-Anonymous” and that has been viewed by a paltry 15 people. I had always hoped that some stoners might stumble across that video and find it just perfect to toke up to.

Here, for your viewing pleasure, is “Italian Wedding Tarantella.”

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tendonitis of the Mouth

Last night Hardingfele, Rockstar Tailor, and I went to the health club to work out. As usual, we started with the treadmill and then made our way to the pool. However, only Rockstar Tailor joined me in the pool so I asked where her mother was. She said she was talking to someone in the locker room about the paycuts all us state workers got, so I said that when she finally got around to entering the pool, we could razz her about how we had been working out and the only thing she was exercising was her mouth. Now one thing you have to know about Hardingfele is she has been having problems with tendonitis in her arm, so when she finally entered the pool, her daughter hollered, “While we were getting exercise, you were just exercising your mouth! You’re going to get tendonitis of the mouth!” Which is hilarious if you knew how chatty Hardingfele is. I said that was blogworthy, and Hardingfele agreed, so I am blogging about it.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love is a B***h

Here, for your reading pleasure, is a story that Toque McToque and I wrote.  She wrote every other line, and I wrote the rest of them:

“Aren’t you done yet?” Mary asked while pounding on the bathroom door.

To her embarrassment, it was the WRONG bathroom door. After realizing her mistake but before she could make a hasty exit, an attractive man opened the door.

"Excuse me?" he said. "This is the men's bathroom. Can I help you?"

Mary felt her cheeks turning scarlet, what should she say? To cover her embarrassment, she said, "Sorry, I was looking for my brother. Maybe you've seen him?"

He smiled broadly and replied, “Do you always try to pick up men this way? I’m David, and I was the only one in there.”

She said, "I've never tried to pick up a man this way before, but let me know if it's working."

He laughed and said, “The jury is still out; will you let me decide over dinner?”

So they headed to the Tibetan restaurant down the road to get to know one another over yak's milk tea. Mary was elated, she hadn’t been on a date in ages. Even an accidental one. She was going to have to start spending a lot more time hanging around the Men’s room.

David and Mary gazed at each other in the light of a yak tallow candle. Mary realized midsentence that she shouldn’t have tried to show off by ordering the spiciest thing on the menu. But Death by Yakmeat sounded like such a delicious dish. In her mind’s eye she saw the restaurant scene from the movie 200 Cigarettes play out, and immediately started to panic. [If you haven’t seen the movie, it was the part where a woman was out on a date and eats a chili pepper and has to run to the bathroom] Since David had not seen 200 Cigarettes, he had no idea why she was panicking and naturally thought a yeti was about to attack him from behind. As he jumped out of his chair and turned around, he managed to knock over their yak’s milk tea. It was good that he turned around, because right behind him was... a yeti! David screamed like a little girl and ran out of the restaurant, right into a large group of children who were trick-or-treating. Since they were Tibetan children, they were all dressed like yetis, except for one who was dressed up as a piece of Timboo bread. Mary wasn’t sure if she should laugh or cry; what kind of wuss was she on a date with? One who was getting beat up by all the little yetis because he didn't have any candy to give them! Mary sighed, picked up her purse and snuck out the backdoor. She wondered if David was a Capricorn, since according to Ma Hat, all male Capricorns are wusses. You know, like Al Capone and Muhammed Ali. And of course Barry Alvarez. All she really knew was that too many of her dates ended up with her sneaking out of the restaurant alone. Perhaps, on further reflection, the men's bathroom wasn't the best place to meet a potential mate. She should have listened to her mother and married Zach, even though he was boring. At least she’d have someone to go home to.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Zach was thinking how glad he was that Mary hadn't married him. Mostly because he was gay, but it wouldn’t have worked even if he wasn’t. Her wild impulsive ways had always made him nervous. Besides, his favorite philosopher was Foucault and hers was Norman Vincent Peale. Just as Zach made himself comfortable on the couch with a nice glass of wine the phone rang.

"Sorry, wrong number," said a very familiar-sounding voice. He knew it was Mary and could feel his blood pressure start to rise.

"Mary," he said. "You didn't call the wrong number. You wanted to see if I was at home. Why?" He cringed as his voice went up an octave, while his grip on the wineglass tightened.

"Why would I want anything?" Mary asked with poorly-feigned casualness. She knew it was going to be a short conversation, ending with her in tears. Why on Earth did she call him?

By now Zach was shaking so hard he was getting zinfandel all over the carpet. Mentally he was adding a phone with caller ID to his next Target run. He was surprised to see that they were selling fresh produce there too these days.

“Zach? Are you still there?” He could tell she was about to start sobbing, what had he done to deserve this?

"I gotta go," he said. There was a puddle of zinfandel on the floor that needed his attention.

Mary took her cell phone and flung it as far as she could down the alley, she’d didn’t give a rip anymore. Screw men; she was getting a dog for company. Unfortunately the female Rottweiler-pit bull mix she got at the shelter was not as friendly as they had promised. The End.

Famous Hat (and Toque McToque)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Another Acronym Post: WWJE*

*Who Would Jesus Execute?

It always amazes me what sorts of people will claim to be followers of Jesus. Do they have a different Bible than I do? Jesus accepted tax collectors and prostitutes, but after they had repented. So you abortion doctors who go to church, I think you only got half the message. And then there are the people who claim to be Christians but are so in favor of the death penalty that they seem unconcerned that Troy Davis was most likely innocent. Would Jesus be in favor of executing innocent people? Or was he a victim of this sort of mob mentality himself? And just because His death was necessary for His salvation plan, does that mean that he is just fine with the idea of executing poor (and usually black) men without any concern that evidence seems to suggest they are innocent? I’m not even sure Jesus (Who famously told His followers to turn the other cheek instead of seeking revenge) would be in favor of the death penalty for guilty people. The Catholic Church does teach that the death penalty is allowable in circumstances where there is a threat to public safety, but this is not the reason we execute people in this country. We want to teach them a lesson. We want retribution. Such very “What Would Jesus Do” reasons to kill someone. Add to that the fact that we seem unconcerned with whether we actually got the right guy, or any guy with a minor criminal background and court-appointed lawyer will do, and I cannot imagine that Jesus is totally approving of this system of criminal justice. If it is the one you are in favor of, that is your choice, but please quit telling me how Christian you are, is all that I ask. I consider myself a follower of Christ, and I am horrified by the way capital punishment is administered in this country. As a society, we should have moved beyond such a primitive method of punishment.

Another thing I will never understand is why we are so squeamish about corporal punishment even though we are fine with capital punishment. There are some people who just deserve a good caning, and at least if you got the wrong guy, he will heal. Not that I am enormously in favor of corporal punishment, but it seems hypocritical to be so opposed to it and then be in favor of the Ultimate Punishment. I personally would much rather be caned than killed, and I have to think a lot of people feel the same way.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Kathbert remembers well when I taught Catechism at a local church (not my parish) and would complain about the DRE all the time: the DRE asks for our input and then does nothing with it, the DRE brought back a kid I sent down to the office for bad behavior and said, “He’s a good kid,” etc. In this context, DRE stands for Director of Religious Education. But where she works, she recently came across another DRE: Digital Rectal Exam. What made it so funny is that they are virtually interchangeable in how pleasant they are.

The thing that puzzled Kathbert the most about the Digital Rectal Exam is that it is not done digitally (as opposed to analog); it is a manual exam that does not need any electronic equipment. Then it occurred to her that Digital could refer to using one’s finger, since it is a digit. Rich said he thought the Analog Rectal Exam would be much more uncomfortable.

Famous Hat

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rockstar Tailor's Names for Boys

Today I took the afternoon off of work, then Hardingfele, Rockstar Tailor, and I went swimming. Now I am at Hardingfele's house, and this post is names for boys courtesy of Rockstar Tailor:

She was going to call him Pizza Hair because cheese is yellow like his hair, then these girls would be like, "Does someone smell pizza?" and then she could say, "It's because he's Pizza Hair!"

She was going to call him Mohawk because he doesn't have one, and then he would be all puzzled and say, "I don't have a mohawk," and then she would be like, "Get your vision checked, buddy!" and he would say, "First of all, I'm not your buddy, and secondly that's not my name and thirdly I don't have a mohawk!" and she would be like, "Do I hear a buzzing sound?"

She was going to call him Laughos the Clown because he hates him and then he would smack his head in annoyance and then she would say, "Violence is not OK at our school. So now you're part of the Laughos Crew." I said he could be Lauphopolis the Greek Clown or Lauffee the French Clown or Lauffino the Italian Clown, but we don't know what ethnicity he is anyway.

Feel free to leave other nicknames for boys in the comments.  By the way, his name for her is Number Two Face.

Famous Hat

Friday, October 7, 2011

At the Audiologist

Sorry for the silence, my 5.8 faithful readers – I was taking a couple of days off of work to enjoy this glorious Native American summer, as the politically correct say. And what I was wondering is if all the other people out there hiking just had the day off of work too, or if they are all independently wealthy and don’t need to work, because there sure were a lot of them.

My office mate once went to visit an audiologist, who said she could tell from the pattern of damage in Light Bright’s hearing that she used to shoot guns and that she plays in a band standing right in front of the drummer. This sort of terrified me: are all my past sins that easy to spot? I can just see how it would go for me at the audiologist:

Audiologist: I can see from this pattern of hearing loss that you have been listening to the most monster bass line of all time too loudly. Have you been blasting “The Humpty Dance” in your car?

Me: Guilty as charged.

Audiologist: And look at this pattern! Do you set off your car alarm by accident a lot?

Me: I have no idea why Erin Caitlyn O’Honda does not recognize me by now.

Audiologist: I’m not sure what this diffuse pattern of background sound is… Do you, by any chance, have a very loud refrigerator?

Me: Yes! You can see that too?

And finally I have to share this from Banjo Player:

Famous Hat

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Easy McGee and the Case of the Coffee Supplies

Easy McGee is on the case of the Missing Coffee Cups and Filters. As my readers may remember, here at work we had a safe stolen out of a supply closet, and contained within that safe were dozens of Styrofoam coffee cups. That case has never been solved, and the safe has never resurfaced, nor have the coffee cups. The plot thickens, because last week the thief struck again, and this time s/he stole… about a hundred coffee filters! Considering the low price of said item, this cannot be a case of a desperate person who just needs a few filters to make enough coffee to get through the day. I thought I had a clue:

I posted a sign apologizing for the missing coffee filters and explaining that they had been stolen. Not an hour later, several filters mysteriously reappeared.

However, this mystery has been solved: a coworker borrowed six filters from the 4th floor. Toque McToque and I speculated that someone from the 4th floor had stolen the hundred filters, and the six were simply returned to their rightful home. But we have reason to think it was an inside job, or else the cleaning people. Time to get Easy McGee on the case, we decided.

To Be Continued…

Famous Hat

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Garden: Year-End Summary

The garden we had at Richard Bonomo's house was a great success, considering that we had no idea what we were doing. Next year I hope to have even more bountiful harvests! Here is what we harvested:

Tomatoes: Too many to mention. The small, golden, pear-shaped ones were particularly successful.
Carrots: Just one, which I ate today. They got a late start, for some reason.
Green peppers: At least five from just one plant. These mostly went into ratatouille.
Eggplants: Two Oriental, one Italian, went into ratatouille.
Beans: We had plenty of green, yellow, and purple ones.
Zucchini: I think we had at least four from the one plant. They all went into ratatouille too.
Cauliflower: One head already, another ripening.
Kohlrabi: Two so far, another ripening.
Raspberries: Good spring harvest, and a second bunch are ripening even now.
Corn: The sad thing is that I had been forewarned to harvest the ears the moment they were ripe, but I waited a few days... and something else got them, either squirrels or raccoons. They even left some of the husks and cobs on the back porch, just to taunt us! We only had one ripe ear survive. Three ears had huitlacoche, so we ended up with a more successful harvest of that than straight corn.
Pumpkin: One adorable, perfect pumpkin which is baking in a pie even as I type this.

Not too shabby, considering that half the seeds were old ones Hardingfele gave me. Next year things should be even better, and maybe I will plant a wider variety. Still, I am very happy with the way the garden turned out this first year.

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 29, 2011

BIUTTID: Scott Walker

(Second in a series: Bringing It Up to Take It Down)

Hardingfele requested that I bring up Scott Walker to take him down, and it is my pleasure to do so. (Rich, you don’t have to read any further.) I am going to address my two main complaints with Scotty: his bad reasoning skills and his hypocrisy.

Scotty has very poor reasoning skills, which can be deduced from the way he has gone about trying to “repair” the economic situation in our fair state. First he gave large tax breaks to corporations, many of whom are already barely paying any taxes. Then he said that we don’t have enough money in the budget, so state workers will have to pay a lot more for retirement and health insurance. Since in reality this comes to about a 12% pay cut for many of us, our spending power is clearly decreased. Small businesses will have nobody to buy their goods and services, and they will go under. This means more people will not have jobs, so the economy will be a bigger mess. Conversely, if Scotty had not cut taxes on big corporations, what would have happened? Would big corporations have left Wisconsin if nobody had promised them a tax cut and they didn’t get one? It seems like they already have so many loopholes, they don’t need cuts too.

Scotty is a hypocrite because he constantly says what a good Christian he is, yet his actions are contrary to his words. He is doing exactly what St. James says not to do, sucking up to the rich and telling the poor, “You can sit on the floor.” His policies are going to make many middle-class people poor and the few rich ones richer, which does not seem very What Would Jesus Do. If he wants to be pro-rich and anti-poor, that’s his business, but not when he claims to be the same religion that I am. Do we have two different Bibles? I mean, what gives? Mine says to take care of the widow, the orphan, and the alien. His must say to take care of billionaire brothers from out of state.

Just wait until January, Scotty. Then we’ll really be taking you down with a recall election. Toque McToque says she hopes you go all the way down since Satan must miss you by now.

Famous Hat

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Several Scenes Starring Easy McGee

Scene One: A man carrying a gun case is slipping through the shadows. He peers about suspiciously and then enters an abandoned warehouse. The sounds of an orchestra tuning can be heard. The man sits down on a chair, opens his gun case, and pulls out a violin. The lights come up, revealing the orchestra tuning around him.

Scene Two: Easy McGee is walking down the street when he passes an ice cream stand.
Easy: What flavors have you got?
Ice Cream Vendor: Vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and St. Louis.
Easy: What’s St. Louis flavor?
Ice Cream Vendor (shrugging): It tastes like St. Louis.
Easy: I’ll take a scoop of St. Louis.
The Ice Cream Vendor hands him a cone with a scoop of gray ice cream. Easy licks it and gags.
Easy: This is AWFUL! It tastes like mud and smog and rust!
Ice Cream Vendor: What did you expect a city on the river to taste like?

Scene Three: Easy McGee cautiously makes his way through the abandoned warehouse, gun drawn. He looks about and slips from cover to cover as tense music plays in the background. Suddenly he turns a corner and sees the orchestra playing the tense music.
Easy: Would you knock it off? You’re driving me crazy with that music!
First Chair Violin: You can’t fire us. We’re union.
Easy: And you carry your violin in a gun case?
First Chair Violin: I don’t want anyone knowing I got a fiddle on me.

Scene Four: Easy McGee finds a clue.

Easy: It appears to be a makeup bag case or glasses case, but the pattern seems significant. And it's black and white, which makes gray... just like St. Louis flavored ice cream!  Highly suspicious.

To Be Continued…

Famous Hat

Monday, September 26, 2011

Personal Ad

Luxuli tells me I need to do more to meet a man, so I have written a personal ad:

SWF, NS, XYZ, PDQ. Age twenteen-something. I am a vertically-challenged Capricorn with Blonde Rising who enjoys long walks (away from my desk), candlelit dinners (because I am a state worker and can’t afford to pay the electric bill), and other personal ad clich├ęs. Looking for a man with a job (even if you are independently wealthy, I hate lazy people) who does not have a problem with rabbits. Feel free to respond in the Comments section.

I’m sure Mr. Perfect will be reading this blog and see my ad. You can’t say I didn’t try!

Famous Hat

Friday, September 23, 2011

Another Great Protest Sign

Thanks to Toque McToque for forwarding this one on.

Famous Hat

Happy Autumn

Sadly, summer is officially over today. (The weather would lead you to believe that it has been over for two weeks.) To celebrate this momentous occasion, I wore the nice, warm Hmong hat I bought at the local ethnic festival this past summer. I have scanned it for your viewing pleasure.

And here is a bonus symbol drawing of my rabbits, Charlie and Cashmere, and my hedgehog Sylvia:

  . .              !!
/(*)\           (*)
(    )          (    )    <:((((()

Thanks to A-Joz for taking care of them while I was in Utah!

Famous Hat

Thursday, September 22, 2011

BIUTTID: Ugly Apartment Building

(First in a possible series on BIUTTID: Bringing It Up To Take It Down)

At the request of Banjo Player, I am going to bring up the Ugly Apartment Building that they will be building next to Lutheran Cathedral. As my regular readers may remember, Richard Bonomo gave an impassioned speech about the importance of protecting Lutheran Cathedral, and Tuesday night he was in front of the City Council giving his speech again. (Because he gave it extemporaneously, he was grateful that I had written a transcript to put on this blog.) Unfortunately, the Ugly Apartment Building was approved by ONE lousy vote in the early hours of Wednesday, because that’s how long the meeting went on, from what I hear.

We’re bringing it up to take it down, which is kind of hard when it hasn’t even been built yet so let’s take it down figuratively. First of all, why do we need more student apartment buildings around here? There are only about three million of them mere blocks to the east, not to mention the one right behind Lutheran Cathedral. They are not cheap, either, so I could not have afforded to live in one, and if there are any poor students still attending this university, none of them will be able to live there either. Therefore I object from an egalitarian perspective: Ugly Apartment Building is classist!

My second objection to Ugly Apartment Building is aesthetic. Do we really need another tall, soulless apartment building ruining the skyline of our fair city? How fair will our city be when the skyline is so full of these ugly buildings that we can no longer see the old, beautiful buildings like Lutheran Cathedral, which will be completely dwarfed by it? The building behind it already towers over the bell tower, and doesn’t that just seem wrong?

My third objection to Ugly Apartment Building is its occupants. We already know they are a bunch of rich elitists with no aesthetic taste, which for me is enough to condemn them, but it is also highly likely that, as rich, spoiled students, they will be heavy drinkers as well. And then they will need somewhere to dispose of their empty beer cans, so they will fling them at Lutheran Cathedral because at best they will be indifferent to religion, and quite possibly they will be downright hostile. Therefore I condemn Ugly Apartment Building on the grounds that it will be a lousy neighbor.

Feel free to take down Ugly Apartment Building some more in the comments.

Famous Hat