Girl Detective
Sunday, November 28, 2004
      ( 8:40 PM ) Girl Detective  
I'm moving. Virtually, this time. I haven't even unpacked all the boxes in our new old house, but I'm on the move again, this time to a new web address. Updating on two weblogs has been tough. Once I thought I needed to keep pop culture and pregnancy/parenthood separate. Silly Girl Detective. I now understand the wishful thinking of such a false dichotomy. As it says on the Dr. Bronner's bottle, it's All One. And now it's all one weblog at the all new Girl Detective.

Thank you, and good night. I hope to see you there.


Friday, November 26, 2004
      ( 9:43 AM ) Girl Detective  
I knew an alcholic who said that he never went out on New Year's Eve; that was for amateurs.

I feel much the same way about shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Just because everyone else is doing it not only means that I don't have to, it may be the best justification for not doing it.

That being said, our favorite children's store is having a "retirement sale". We worry that this means it is going out of business, since it is a good, local alternative to the wretched Babiesrus, a store certain to resemble a low level of hell today. So we may check out the retirement sale, since we've been meaning to pick up some climbing toys for the baby anyway.


Wednesday, November 24, 2004
      ( 9:22 AM ) Girl Detective  
Years ago, my shopping philosophy was "If I can rationalize it, I can afford it."

Several thousand dollars of debt and many, many years later, I can say I am mostly over that very damaging piece of nonsense.

I am not, however, completely out of the woods. I realized recently that I have a new shopping philosophy:

If I can buy it at Target, I can afford it.

The scale is smaller, but the faulty reasoning that underlies it is no less full of shit.


Tuesday, November 23, 2004
      ( 9:05 AM ) Girl Detective  
Here are the things I noticed as I watched the first twenty minutes of Huff, the new drama on Showtime starring Hank Azaria.

-Stylized opening with moody music, both reminiscent of Six Feet Under.

-Hank has a weird little fountain of hair at the front. Looks like Nic Cage's. Is that the last hurrah of their front hair, or is it the tuftiness of implants?

-Oh, look, he imagines stuff, as happens on all the edgy dramas these days: Six Feet Under, Rescue Me, etc.

-He's ogling a woman with giant tits. Ew to both of them--him for ogling and her for aspiring to look like Barbie. She gives him the finger, which is ridiculous, because she is not trying to hide her assets in that pink tank top and unpadded bra. Take some responsibility for your sluttish wardrobe choices, woman.

-Boy makes accusations of incest, brandishes gun shoots himself. Sad, but it's been done. Too many times.

-Hank goes home to much younger looking wife, and not that much older looking mother. Who the hell cast Blythe Danner, the WASPiest looking WASP in the world, as Hank's mom? There's no resemblance!

-Plus, while the IMDB indicates that there are twenty one years between them, technically enough for them to be mother and son, he looks older and she looks younger. It actually looks like there might be, at most, about 12 years between them. Hank and Mom trade insults. Wife complains about Mom. We discover Mom lives on property.

At that point, I'd had enough. The hair fountain, the distortions of reality, the incongruous casting, the trite staged crisis, the creepy relationship with the mother. In sum, icky.

I watched the premiere of House last week. It was no prize either--is there really a need for another medical procedural drama? But the main character, played by Hugh Laurie, showed some promise. I'll give the second episode a shot. Both the premieres of Huff and House suffered from "been there done that", which is normal for a first episode. House had a bunch of cliches, but a few moments of genuine wit. Huff, on the other hand, was working so hard to be quirky and original that when it failed, it did so spectacularly, and became instead off-putting and unpleasant.


Monday, November 22, 2004
      ( 9:17 AM ) Girl Detective  
I had a thankfully brief bout of writers block the other week while waiting to hear whether my husband had been laid off. Once we heard for certain, though, I was able to get back to the business at hand, namely posting on two weblogs and continuing to hammer out bad prose for Nanowrimo 2004.

In the meantime, my friend The Blogenheimer thoughtfully sent me this link on hacking ones way out of writers block. I am grateful that I don't need it today. I've got a list of over twenty potential blog topics and I am on track to hit 50K words for Nanowrimo by month's end. I think there is something about the mad frenzy of Nanowrimo that unleashes the floodgates of all writing. I feel confident, though, that I will look back on this fruitful period someday with bitter gall, as I sit staring at the blank screen or page. And at that point, I'm going to be very glad for that article on writers block.


Friday, November 19, 2004
      ( 8:01 AM ) Girl Detective  
The vacuum cleaner was messing with me. Earlier this week I wrestled with the angel in the house. I think she won. During the baby's post-bath naked time the other night, I noticed that his feet got filthy as he toddled about our upstairs hallway and thought it was time to do some cleaning.

Running the vacuum cleaner is something that I can do while the baby is awake; it entertains him. One of my key lessons of motherhood is to do whatever I can do while the baby is awake, saving his precious, precious sleep time for those things that I absolutely can't do with him around, like writing. So I popped him into his play area and got out the vacuum, figuring that running it over the small area of upstairs carpet would take something like five minutes, if that.

Then I slipped into a time warp.

See, when our last vacuum cleaner smelled as if it was burning even after we changed the belt and the bag, we broke down and got a new one. We went to Target and brought home one that was medium fancy and medium expensive. My husband was really pushing for a Dyson because of its geek factor, but common sense and Consumer Reports ratings prevailed. One of our new vacuum cleaner's features is a light on the bottom that switches from red to green when the area you have gone over is "truly" clean.

The red light chased me around the upstairs hallways. I would go over an area, and over it again, and again, and get little blips of red here and there. I thought of stopping, but figured that since I had the machine out, and the baby was happy--in fact fascinated by, you guessed it, the ever-changing red/green light--that I might as well do a thorough job.

The upstairs hallway is small, but irregularly shaped, making quick, even passes difficult. The red light would flash even in areas I had just gone over that were green. Was it possessed? Was it messing with me?

More likely, I realized, it was just so filthy that normal attention wasn't even making a dent. We moved in two months ago, and had never yet vacuumed the upstairs carpet. The previous owners had a cat, two small children and they left the house in the technical definition of broom clean--fine in the middle of the wood floors and icky in the corners. Who knows how dirty the carpet was, since it is a very practical dirt-grey color.

I do not know how long it took me until I got only the green light. Twenty minutes? Thirty? More? Long enough, certainly, that I could put the vacuum away and feel I had done more than enough cleaning for quite some time.

That is, until I set off the smoke alarm in the kitchen by using the oven. Days later, I still haven't cleaned the oven. It's self cleaning, too, so in theory this should be easy. Instead, I have just avoided using the oven. That's not going to work for long, though. I feel a pumpkin pie coming on. So I hope to recover from the vacuum extravaganza soon. Not just because I hate cleaning and have better things to do. But because it's now getting in the way of pie. And that's unforgiveable.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004
      ( 8:24 PM ) Girl Detective  
We watched the season premier of House last night, starring Hugh Laurie, who we remember fondly from Blackadder. House was only OK. It had more than a few howler moments of medical show cliches. But Laurie is good, and if the show can get more of the dark funny moments and less of the "random medical mystery solved" (yawn) then it might be worth watching.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004
      ( 2:28 PM ) Girl Detective  
My friend Queenie and I went to see the Bridget Jones sequel last night. There were four men there, all with their girlfriends, and dozens of women. It was a chick flick during Monday Night Football--only to be expected. The popcorn was crap and the movie was too, but I didn't care; I enjoyed them anyway.

The sequel merely repeated the successful bits from the first movie. I enjoyed them then and enjoyed them again, even while recognizing their recycled nature. I found it interesting that Renee Zellweger managed to pull off looking unglamorous throughout the movie, with no Hollywood Cinderella reveal. She had reddened skin, frizzy hair with an only adequate cut and color, and carried so much weight in her torso that she looked as if she were about five months pregnant.

The book it was based on was also a lamer version of the original, so I am unsurprised that the movie could not rise above its paltry source material. Unforgiveable, I thought, was that they left out perhaps the funniest, most self-referential part of the book--when Bridget gets to interview Colin Firth, the actor who plays Mark Darcy. They probably cut this out because the reason for it--her love of Austen's Pride and Prejudice mini-series, which starred Firth as the original Mr. Darcy--was excised from the first Bridget Jones film. Still, that could have been brilliant, and hilarious.

My educated, feminist self feels somewhat sheepish for not only loving the original book and movie, wherein Bridget can't be happy till she gets a man, but also for having affection for the lame-ass sequels. Even educated feminists sometimes find it hard to shake the seductive draw of a Cinderella story, as I have noted previously.


Monday, November 15, 2004
      ( 7:45 AM ) Girl Detective  
Thanks to Nautile for doing some girl-detective work and discovering not only what my shrub was (pussy willow) but what the pink shinky-dink dots were--galls caused by a gall mite. As with many other things these days, like centipedes and our baby's rash du jour (or, more accurately rash du six semaines, au moins), it's ugly, but not harmful.


Thursday, November 11, 2004
      ( 7:41 PM ) Girl Detective  
Most people misuse the word ambivalent, e.g., "I don't care whether we do this or that; I'm ambivalent."

Actually, the word you're looking for there, cowboy, is indifferent. Ambivalence means having feelings both ways, and can also mean being unable to choose between the two because of strong feelings both ways, not a lack of feeling either way.

My husband and I were feeling ambivalent about the upcoming layoffs at his company. On the one hand, his is the only source of income for our little family since I resigned to be a stay-at-home mom. His job is also the source of benefits like health insurance. If not laid off, he'd get to keep his job and the income and benefits. On the other hand, his job has gotten worse over the years in the wake of a poor re-org and a subsequent merger. If laid off, he would get to leave a less-then-ideal job and be given severance pay.

Yesterday, then, he was informed that he was "not retained". The good news: he will now have time and money to look for a better job with a better company. The bad news: so will the rest of those laid off, as they compete for the same limited pool of jobs. The good news: the severance pay is pretty good.

Also good is that I was apparently subconsciously preparing for the depressing part of either decision when I did recent grocery shopping, and our house is stocked with comforting essentials: three flavors of pudding (butterscotch, vanilla and chocolate), brownies, three flavors of Jello (grape, raspberry and black cherry), whipping cream, butter toffee ice cream, raspberry sorbet, Snickers ice cream bars, four kinds of cheese (Muenster, cheddar, string and parmesan), butter, Milky Way Midnight miniatures, and banana chocolate chip bread. And, thanks to last month's second-place finish by his pub-quiz team, my husband has a LOT of beer. So in case our mood starts to plummet, we are prepared with fortifying foodstuffs. If any of that actually qualifies as food.


Wednesday, November 10, 2004
      ( 1:52 PM ) Girl Detective  
I have been extraordinarily lucky this week--both Monday morning and this morning, the baby woke happy, and was content to burble cheerily to his duck and to his sheep blankie until after 8 a.m., allowing me time to check email and work on the computer. When I tried to fire off a blog entry for Girl Detective, though, I hit a wall. I stared at the screen. I looked at my PDA where I have a list of ideas that I jot down so I avoid thinking, "Gah, I've been meaning to write about assload relativity forever!" while I'm in line at the grocery store.

Incidentally, I have been meaning to write about assload relativity since I was a sophomore in college. Then, we used the term buttload, since we hadn't yet seen the episode of News Radio in which Bill joins the gym. Here's how my thought process on it went: OK, a buttload of beers--oh, about fifteen, which is about twice as much as a lot, and about four times as much as normal. Buttload of cigarettes? That depends on how much one normally smokes, but I'd say that would be about twice as much as normal, say a whole pack when I usually smoked ten a day. Buttload of kids? Well, the average is about 2, so I'd say a buttload would be about six, so three times the usual. Maybe I should try geometric formulas rather than arithmetic? So a buttload is normal squared? Or cubed if normal equals two? Is there no mathematical formula for a buttload? Is it simply way more than normal, and even more than a lot?

And right there is exactly where I have always stopped thinking about buttload relativity.

But back to the topic at hand, which is blog topics. I looked at my PDA list and still felt unmoved except to wonder if some of those were topics I had written about, and had accidentally been restored after one of my disastrous PDA data wipeouts. So I didn't write, and instead went to get the baby out of bed and get him breakfast and go to the coffee shop and then to the park, where I realized that the reason I could not blog was that there was an elephant in my brain. While I could try to pretend that this morning was like any other, my writing senses were telling me otherwise. They were refusing to focus on any one thing, while also pointedly trying to ignore the obvious, which is that my husband's company was announcing layoffs this morning.

Fortunately, this was not one of those situations where you think you are getting a solid answer and then suddenly get a vague one, or a delay. We got an answer, and now we get to feel ambivalent about it, just as we would have if we would've gotten the other answer.

Tomorrow's topic? The chronic misuse and widespread misunderstanding of the term "ambivalence."


Tuesday, November 09, 2004
      ( 2:25 PM ) Girl Detective  
It is hard to give away a king bed. Friends seemed interested, but were ultimately unwilling to commit. Most charities refuse them. I tried to invent creative uses for it--seating on the back porch! instead of a sofabed in the basement! Always, it was too big. After many phone calls, I found a charity that would take it. But they couldn't pick it up for six weeks. Fine, fine, I said, whatever. So it's been sitting hugely on our front porch since we moved in two months ago. Finally, yesterday was pickup day. I called the charity before 9, to see if they could give me a time estimate so that I wouldn't be cooped up all morning with the baby. They said before noon. So I didn't go out for coffee, since I didn't want to miss them and potentially have to wait another six weeks for pickup. As the morning waned, I grew more drowsy without coffee, and the baby grew more irritable as we didn't go outside, or visit his many girlfriends at the coffeeshop. At noon, I fed him lunch, then got him ready for nap. I was dialing the charity to ask where they were when the truck pulled up. Two very polite boys wearing enormous crucifixes carried away the mattress, box springs, bed frame, bedding, and some other furniture that doesn't work in the new house.

I personally believe there is a special section in hell reserved for those who keep a mom cooped up at home with a kid, waiting for HOURS. It seems especially unfair, when I took the time and effort to donate, rather than just putting it out for garbage.


Monday, November 08, 2004
      ( 8:56 PM ) Girl Detective  
I'm up to 14,900 words during NaNoWriMo. I'm amazed that writing feeds on itself--the more I do, the more I do and overall the better and faster it is.

Sort of like exercise. Which I'm not doing at all. But I'm writing! A lot!

|       ( 8:55 PM ) Girl Detective  
Why is it that every time the heating system kicks in and the radiators start up it sounds like an intruder has just busted into our house?

We didn't get the security system because of this, but it does make me feel a wee bit better, huddled in the basement watching TV, that it's probably the heat and not a criminal because the alarm's not going off.

Have I mentioned that the furnace is original to our 1917 house?


Sunday, November 07, 2004
      ( 8:40 PM ) Girl Detective  
I read beauty and fashion magazines. I often follow their advice. Yet there's something I must admit to, which qualifies as deviant behavior, and brazen in that it ignores all conventional wisdom, I know.

I cut my fingernails, I don't file them.
With clippers.
Toenail clippers.

I also rub my eyes.
With abandon.

I'm such a rebel.

|       ( 8:35 PM ) Girl Detective  
Do not use contractions. Spell out all numbers. Do not hyphenate compounds. All these things can gain you precious words for your word count!


Friday, November 05, 2004
      ( 1:42 PM ) Girl Detective  
My friend The Big Brain recommended the O.C. He told me to watch for three reasons:
1. Peter Gallagher's eyebrows (overly groomed, but nonetheless entertaining)
2. Comic book references (many, and well-educated ones)
3. Adam Brody

To that list I will add one more: the dialogue moves so fast that there is at least one time per episode that I have to go back and replay it to get the joke, and usually there's one time per episode where I just give up and move on, because I can't be bothered to take the effort to turn on the closed-caption just to get the one liner. But the one liners can be astonishingly funny. My favorite from last night's season premiere? "Not so limber."

Adam plays Seth Cohen, the funnier-but-less-good-looking friend (that's a movie cliche category, courtesy of Roger Ebert) to the supposed-to-be-brooding-but-actually-just-boring character Ryan, played by Benjamin McKenzie.

I mentioned my fondness for secondary romances in a recent post. What's interesting about the O.C. is that the primary romance between Ryan and the utterly uninteresting Marissa played by Mischa Barton--perhaps the most annoying overexposed actress getting regular work these days, though her friend Lindsay Lohan does give her a run for the money--is not only forgettable, it's actually a deterrent to me watching the show. I loathe these characters, I am bored beyond belief by them, and these two actors are probably the worst on the show. Why they are center stage is a mystery to me, unless it's to cater to pre-teen girls. Yet everything else on the show is so well done that it almost sparkles. Last season's romance between Seth and Summer was hilarious, and I look forward to seeing how they will interact since he broke her heart by running away for the summer.

Now if only someone would kill off Ryan and Marissa, the show would be perfect.

|       ( 1:23 PM ) Girl Detective  

Lost: the island of Jeanne Moreau?

In an early episode, there's a recording of a woman speaking French, saying "They're all dead" that's been running for sixteen years. Then on the latest episode, Sayid, who for my money the hottest person on the island, gets clobbered. I think it's the French-speaking woman. What better person to play an old French woman than Jeanne Moreau--wouldn't that be sweet?

We are supposed to suspect that it might be Sawyer, the red-neck badass. That is, unless you have missed the obvious clues that Sawyer isn't actually a bad guy, he just pretends. And that's how it is on Lost--nearly ever person is presented as a could-be villain, and yet still no one is. The only thing on the island that seems unreservedly bad is whatever it is that mauled the pilot in the pilot. Even that, though, faced off against Locke and let him live. Locke is another one we were led to believe was bad, then was revealed not only to be good, but to play the role of spiritual guide to the others that is usually reserved for a token African American. John Locke is the only one on the cast list with two names, in case we possibly missed that the character who keeps blathering about choices and free will also happens have the same name as a philosopher.

Up till this week's episode, which gave the backstory for Charlie the drug-addicted bass player, Lost has been on of my favorite hours of television each week. "The Moth", however, is now appearing in the dictionary next to "overdetermined." As if comparing Charlie's struggle to a moth's metamorphosis weren't gag-inducing enough, we have been given YET ANOTHER long lingering look between the token black guy and the token Asian woman. We get it, already. Thank you for thinking so highly of your viewers that you telegraph every development a half dozen times.

I would wish for no more overdetermination, but I can't help but notice that Emilie de Ravin, the token pregnant woman (so pregnant that she shouldn't have been flying a commuter flight under an hour, much less the Sydney to LA. Seriously, folks, most airlines won't let you fly if you're that pregnant, because if you did begin labor, they'd be required to land.) And because this is television, I can predict with one hundred percent certainty that her water will break to signal the onset of labor. Mine did too, after the midwives and the birth classes had assured me numerous times that it only happens to 10 percent or fewer women. So I don't know whether to resent TV for perpetuating a lie that I had to let go, or because it was right in the end anyway. Either way, I'm going to be pissed when her water breaks at the onset of labor.

The only possible mitigating factor I can see is if the lost people decide to see her imminent baby as a hope (a la Virginia Dare), and then she and the baby get eaten by the monster. Or if the show's writers are gutsy enough to let her die in labor, as might actually happen. My grandmother made sure to point out that if I'd gone through my labor back in the days of the pioneers that's what would've happened to me. I'm not sure if I feel better or worse that the only reason the baby and I are around is modern medecine. I'd like to imagine that I would triumph in adversity. My labor and birth experience effectively showed me I'm not as tough as I'd like to think.

So, an open memo to the writers of Lost on easy ways to curry the favor of viewers like me: reveal Jeanne Moreau as the mysterious Frenchwoman, and have something really dark but not overdetermined happen to the token pregnant woman. Oh, and cut off the incipient thing between Michael and Sun. Right now. I mean it.


Thursday, November 04, 2004
      ( 1:45 PM ) Girl Detective  

What I'm fretting about today

1. I found ground ginger scattered on a shelf in the pantry yesterday. I examined the bag to see where it was leaking; there was a jagged rent in it. Could my husband or I have done that accidentally, then put the ginger back without noticing? Or is there something in my pantry?

2. There is a little hole that leads under the front porch that is usually covered with a board. Yesterday I found the board was not only down, but backwards. I looked inside, but couldn't see anything. With some concern, I replaced the board. What if something's down there? What if she has babies? Or rabies? Or both? Or is sneaking into the house to gnaw at the packet of ground ginger?

3. We have a shrub in the back yard. Many of its leaves are shriveled and covered in pink bubbles. Is it diseased?

4. The hydrangea plants are turning black. Do I cut them to the ground, or just let them shrivel for the winter?

5. Our lawn is suspiciously lumpy, with many small bare spots that look as if grass has been pulled up recently. I know we've got bunnies and squirrels. Is this their work, or do we have moles? Or something else?

|       ( 1:44 PM ) Girl Detective  

The theme song to Rescue Me on FX

I am remiss in that it's taken me so long to post this. I watched the first couple episodes of Rescue Me, and wondered each time who the band was singing the theme song and if it had been written specifically for the show.

Then I was randomly listening to a CD my sister Sydney sent me, and there it was.

C'mon, C'mon from Pawn Shoppe Heart by the Von Bondies, previously best known because Jack White punched their lead singer when the bands were on tour together.

Sorry for the delay.

|       ( 1:02 PM ) Girl Detective  

Little luxuries

When we moved, I found I had a very strange assortment of health and beauty stuff. I either had lots of one type of item (e.g six different types of deoderant), or none at all (facial moisturizers.) I have way too many things for the bath--oil, gel, salts, stuff for me, stuff for the baby. Even though we have a cool claw-foot tub in our new/old house, I don't take enough baths to use this stuff at any realistic rate. But I have found a good everyday use for the Dr. Hauschka bath products. I add a few drops of Rosemary Bath to warm water in the morning when I wash my face, and a few drops of Lavender Bath at night. It not only smells good, but I'm using it every day. If only all the bath products could multi-task like this.


Wednesday, November 03, 2004
      ( 7:47 PM ) Girl Detective  

I am a killer of noxious weeds. And a worm, accidentally.

I feel very badly about the worm.

The yard of our new old house had several far-too-hearty thistle plants, two of them about the size of my torso. Yesterday, shielded with my True Blue gloves and armed with shears, I cut them back and poured vinegar on the stumps.

I shrieked in surprise (I am _such_ a fraidy cat, and really have no business owning a house) as a worm surged up and out of the ground, swelling and writhing. Anyone who says worms don't feel pain did not see this one. Alas, there was nothing I could do. I could not unpour the vinegar. I went out today, cherishing a small hope that the worm had recovered and moved on. It was not so. Its poor, vinegar-sodden worm carcass lay beside the gigantic thistle stump, which had begun to turn an unattractive but reassuringly soon-to-be-dead gray color.

I found the vinegar remedy for thistles online, and early results are good. I did pour the whole gallon out, though, on at least half a dozen thistles, so I'm going to have to get more for subsequent rounds. These are really nasty plants--big, prickly and ugly. I hope to vanquish them forever from our yard. Let's just hope no more worms get in my way.


Tuesday, November 02, 2004
      ( 10:09 AM ) Girl Detective  

Election Day

Vote. (If you're a U.S. citizen, that is)

A reminder. This is a two party system disguised as one that's not. Our system cannot support third parties. It's A or B, not C. If you want to vote for a third party, don't. Instead, pick a side, then work for campaign reform.

If you don't believe me, that's fine. And if you have some argument about voting for a third party because you're confident of the outcome of your state, I have two words for you: Jesse Ventura.

Just vote. Because the only thing more misguided than voting a third party candidate is not voting at all.

We're able to vote. It's a privilege. Exercise yours.


Monday, November 01, 2004
      ( 5:22 PM ) Girl Detective  


OK, I know they're not technically bugs. They're not even insects. How do I know? They have WAY more than six legs. They're big, they're black and they leave distubing shadows on the wall when you crush them. Are they bigger, scarier versions of silverfish, which I've also seen dithering on the lower level of the house? What are these creepy crawlies, and how alarmed should I be by their presence?


Girl Detective the person is a titian-haired sleuth, intent on fathoming the mysteries of the world at large, with particular (and some might say obsessive) attention paid to the mundane details of female life.

Girl Detective the weblog is not about girl detectives; sorry if you came here looking for that. It is, however, an homage to the inquisitive nature, untiring spirit and passion for justice that marked these great literary heroines.

Girl Detective the weblog is a forum to practice my writing. It is about whatever strikes me on any given day. I am a woman writing for other women. If guys find it interesting, bravo. If not, that makes sense, but don't complain.

All material here is copyright 2002-2004 Girl Detective.

other things I've written
I was pregnant. Now I've got a baby.
Review of Angle of Repose
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