Saturday, October 31, 2009

Amy Sedaris' Halloween Tips


"For the last few years I've entertained people on Halloween," Sedaris says, "I've rented a scary movie and turned my apartment into a discount movie theater—vacuuming before the lights come up and all."

It's a simple idea that's easy to execute. Choose your film right off the, ahem, bat. That will serve as the basis for your drink and decor decisions. "The fun of the party to me is the movie I'm featuring," says Sedaris, whose favorites include the classic versions of Dracula and Frankenstein, Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte, The Trilogy of Terror, The Bad Seed, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

The next step, she says, is creating an in-home theater. To be certain all your guests have a clear view of the movie, place your television or projection screen in a central location, with the seating arranged around it. Make sure, too, that your seating is cushy enough to keep your guests comfortable for a couple of hours—or more, if you're showing a double feature. Finally, give your guests dining trays or set out some small side tables to give them a place to put the dinner and drinks you're going to serve.

It's true that discount movie theaters aren't exactly known for their dinners, unless you count stale popcorn and dusty chocolate candies as a meal. However, no hostess worthy of her charm-school crown would ever be caught dead letting her guests go hungry.

For her discount-theater dinner parties, Sedaris usually serves meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and corn. "I choose this menu because you don't have to see it to eat it," she says. "This is important, because the lights are out." Nor does the menu require a knife—the one-handed fork operation makes it easier for guests who prefer to hold their plates while eating rather than placing them on a table or tray. It also provides an extra measure of safety should there be psychotic murderers lurking about.

In homage to the season, Sedaris also makes a pumpkin pie decorated with bats and owls. She likes to use the recipe on the back of the canned pumpkin, cutting out shapes in the dough with Halloween cookie cutters to place on top. (Set these on the pie after it's been baking for 15 minutes, she instructs.) You can also make Sedaris's famous cupcakes, decorating them with orange and black sprinkles or frosting (use food coloring), or seasonally appropriate sugar shapes or plastic cupcake picks, available at baking sites such as or

Sedaris also likes to have her guests help carve a jack-o'-lantern at the beginning of the party. "You have to bake the seeds from the pumpkin," she says. "People have an association with that smell." Place cleaned seeds (give them a good rinse, then dry) on a lightly oiled cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt, and then bake them in a 350°F-oven for about 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool, then set out in a bowl for snacking.

When figuring out which beverages to serve at her party, Sedaris takes her cues from the movie she's featuring. "Last year we watched The Changeling. I served wine because there was a lot of whining going on in the movie." Bloody Marys, Sedaris says, are always good for Halloween, too. Either of these choices would be perfect with some of Sedaris's favorite movie picks, The Bad Seed, the original Dracula, and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? For the latter, you could also serve the Blanche.

Beyond red wine and Bloodies, there are a variety of drinks that pair perfectly with classic screen screams. Here are some of our favorite macabre matches:

The Shining - Berry Rum Punch

Night of the Living Dead - Zombie

Texas Chainsaw Massacre - Sangria

Frankenstein - Corpse Reviver

Invasion of the Body Snatchers - Shangha

Any seasoned entertainer will tell you that one of the most important aspects of throwing a party is to set the tone with music and decorations. Not only does it get your guests in the proper spirit, it also gives them an idea of the type of evening they're in for.

First, send out invitations that look like a movie ticket or film reel, or copy the cover of the movie you're going to feature. To emphasize the discount-theater theme come party time, play some Muzak (who doesn't find that creepy?), drape red velvet over your walls and TV screen, roll out some mildewy carpet, and strew popcorn about. You could even ask a sullen, acne-faced teen to show your guests to their seats. And if you want yours to be a costume party, suggest that your guests come dressed as characters from the feature film.

Sedaris, however, prefers to go with more traditional Halloween-themed decorations. She pins a skeleton to her door, hangs tissue-paper ghosts, and suspends orange and black crepe paper from corner to corner of her ceiling. "That's what we used when we were little, and I still love it." Sedaris might also draw a body outline on her floor. "One year I sprayed cobwebs on an 800-year-old wheelchair I had in the apartment (long story) and placed one shoe on the footrest. I thought it would be scary to think where the other shoe was." She also likes to play an old sound effects tape as her guests enter the apartment. "One of the lines on the tape says, 'Didn't the other children tell you?'"

And because Halloween is a holiday intimately tied with fall and the harvest, Sedaris includes painted gourds and pumpkins, acorns, scarecrows, and leaves ironed between two sheets of waxed paper among her decorations. She also places the pumpkin pie, jack-o'-lantern, and other decorations on a display table for guests to see as they enter her apartment.

Another signature Sedaris touch, which she sets up whenever she entertains guests, is a sale table—a kind of concession stand, if you will. "I sell unwanted items. It can be anything from unwanted half bottles of lotion to a fancy bottle of wine, buckets, sponges, batteries—whatever you want to give away." She charges 25 cents (quarters only), no matter what the item, and caters her merchandise to her audience. "People like to pay for things and I like the transaction. It takes me back to a time when I was selling Girl Scout cookies door to door or collecting Coke bottles. I use these quarters to do my laundry." For your Halloween party, you could set up a sale table with candy or random parts of old costumes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Weird Cake Alert

The blogosphere is buzzing with the news that rude little pig Ireland Baldwin requested, and received, this weird cake for her 14th birthday.

It's the head of rapper Li'l Wayne, complete with black licorice dreadlocks (a stroke of culinary genius, in my opinion).

This news makes me love her a little bit. What a weird kid. I guess she likes his music, but this is one of the least appetizing birthday cakes I've ever seen.

From: All over the Internet.

Not Swine Flu

I'm sick today. It's just a cold. Not swine flu.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Favorite Psychopath

I love Tom Cruise. By which I mean: I am obsessed with him as a media creation. I truly believe he is a genuine psychopath, and this fascinates me. I'm not claiming that he's criminal or homocidal (although I'm not ruling anything out), I just believe that he is a real psychopath in the sense of lacking human emotion and the ability to feel empathy. I suspect that he cannot differentiate between his "real" self and the characters that he plays in movies.

In some sense, this makes him the perfect movie star. The movie creates him. He is known for his kindness to his fans and his unusual willingness--even eagerness--to spend hours and hours chatting with them and signing autographs. While this is commendable on the surface, I believe what this actually reveals is not so much "niceness" as "emptiness"-- lacking any core sense of self, he can only feel his existence as reflected through the eyes of others. His fans create his identity. They are his life source. Without them, he is nobody.

Apu: "Oh, who needs the infinite compassion of Genisha when I have Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman staring at me with their dead eyes!"

From Black Book Magazine:

Q: How did you and Christian Bale develop his character in American Psycho?

A: It was definitely a process. We talked a lot, but he was in L.A. and I was in New York. We didn’t actually meet in person a lot, just talked on the phone. We talked about how Martian-like Patrick Bateman was, how he was looking at the world like somebody from another planet, watching what people did and trying to work out the right way to behave. And then one day he called me and he had been watching Tom Cruise on David Letterman, and he just had this very intense friendliness with nothing behind the eyes, and he was really taken with this energy.

Sugar Daddy Ken Doll

Wow! How fabulous! I love how he comes with a little bottle of water. He really should have a martini and shaker too, but I can see why Mattel didn't want to "go there," even with a doll for adult collectors only.

Here is his official description from Mattel:

Head to Palm Beach with Barbie!

Part of the elite Gold Label Collection, made with collectors in mind!

Cool sophistication in breezy Palm Beach! Sporting a dashing jacquard-patterned jacket with a light pink polo shirt and crisp white pants, Ken doll is ready for Palm Beach social season, sunning by the pool and a stroll with his little companion. Fashion designed exclusively for the Silkstone Barbie doll body. Includes Ken doll, jacket, pink polo shirt, white shoes, dog with leash, swim trunks and accessories, doll stand and certificate of authenticity. For the adult collector. Order yours today!

Lobster and Chef

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pink Gaga

This photo combines 2 things I love: Lady Gaga and the color pink!

More Dogs

Here are some more photos from the dog park, including this cute pug who came up to me and my mom to say hello.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ladies of the 80s

Guy just alerted me to these amazing new Barbies!

When I was in the eighth grade, I thought Cyndi was the coolest, most beautiful woman in the world. I wanted to be her. In retrospect, I can see the down side: did I really want to be the person who irrevocably conferred celebrity status upon Hulk Hogan? But in her defense, how was she to know that he would never, ever go away?

Years later, in the 90s, I went through a Joan phase and finally listened to her records. It helped that I was cat-sitting for a few weeks for a couple of lesbians who owned every single thing Joan had ever recorded.

For some reason, Debbie never did capture my imagination, at any age...but I know that her fans are legion. LEGION! No disrespect, Debs.

Here are their official (slightly hyper) descriptions from Mattel (I think their copywriter must have been hopped up on goofballs):

Have you ever said (or sung) "I Love Rock 'n' Roll"? If so, you're gonna love this doll! An acclaimed guitarist and one of the greatest leading ladies of rock, Joan Jett is a legendary singer and songwriter. Featuring her look and rock 'n' roll spirit, the Joan Jett Barbie Doll is part of the Ladies of the '80s collection and a must-have for her many fans! Includes doll and guitar, and stands approximately 11 1/2-inches tall.

Call on Debbie Harry for your collection!..."One Way or Another," you better find her! The platinum-blonde punk goddess of a decade, Debbie Harry is singer, songwriter, and front woman for Blondie. The Debbie Harry Barbie Doll captures her sassy spirit and famed beauty, and it's the first doll in the Ladies of the '80s collection. Just like Debbie, it screams charisma! She stands about 11 1/2-inches tall and comes with a dress, shoes, doll stand, and certificate of authenticity. Call on Debbie Harry for your collection! Ages 6 and over.

"She Bop," no?..."Girls Just Want to Have Fun"… especially Cyndi Lauper!...This Barbie Doll is Cyndi-stylish and shows her spunky personality.
You'll find yourself looking at her "Time After Time"! "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"… especially Cyndi Lauper! Cyndi is one of the foremost female singer/songwriters who left her mark on pop culture, and this Cyndi Lauper Barbie Doll really displays the popular singer's trend-setting fashion sense and spunk. She's part of the Barbie Ladies of the '80s collection. Have some fun of your own as you gaze admiringly at her "Time After Time"! Stands about 11 1/2-inches tall.

France Risks Incurring Wrath of Galactic Confederacy Dictator

Ooooh! Mon dieu! Zoot alors!

One of my favorite freaky-ass religions is in deep merde today. Xenu will be most angered when he hears of this!

Dumb move, frogs. Sure, you can call Scientology a "fraud" all you want...But now who's going to help you get all those alien-embedded tapes out of your head? Yeah, you didn't think of that, didja?:

Tuesday, Oct 27, 2009 01:01 PDT
Church of Scientology convicted of fraud in France
By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny

A Paris court convicted the Church of Scientology of fraud and fined it more than euro 600,000 ($900,000) on Tuesday but stopped short of banning the group as prosecutors had demanded.

The court convicted the Church of Scientology's French office, its library and six of its leaders of organized fraud. Investigators said the group pressured members into paying large sums of money for questionable financial gain and used "commercial harassment" against recruits. Four of the leaders were given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. The other two were given fines of euro 1,000 and euro 2,000.

However, the court did not order the Church of Scientology to shut down, ruling that it would be likely to continue its activities anyway "outside any legal framework."

The verdict is "an Inquisition of modern times," said Scientology spokeswoman Agnes Bron, referring to efforts to rout out heretics of the Roman Catholic Church in centuries past. The head of an association that helps victims of sects, Catherine Picard, called the verdict "intelligent." "Scientology can no longer hide behind freedom of conscience," she said.

The Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology, founded in 1954 by the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, has been active for decades in Europe, but has struggled to gain status as a religion. It is considered a sect in France and has faced prosecution and difficulties in registering its activities in many countries.

The original complaint in the case dates back more than a decade, when a young woman said she took out loans and spent the equivalent of euro 21,000 on books, courses and "purification packages" after being recruited in 1998. When she sought reimbursement and to leave the group, its leadership refused. She was among three eventual plaintiffs.

Olivier Morice, lawyer for civil parties in the case, said the verdict was "historic" because it was the first time in France that the Church of Scientology has been convicted of organized fraud. Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin spent years examining the group's activities, and in his indictment criticized what he called the Scientologists' "obsession" with financial gain and practices he said were aimed at plunging members into a "state of subjection."

The Church of Scientology teaches that technology can expand the mind and help solve problems. It claims 10 million members around the world, including celebrity devotees Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Belgium, Germany and other European countries have been criticized by the U.S. State Department for labeling Scientology as a cult or sect and enacting laws to restrict its operations.

Article from:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Giant Underground Vat of Magma Underneath Washington State

In case you're pressed for time, here's the short version (by Beebo):

Cool Scientists Discover Super Volcano Under Washington!: Uncool Volcano Seismologist Nerds Are Boringly Skeptical

And here's the longer version (by Les Blumenthal):

Controversial study suggests vast magma pool under Washington state
Mon Oct 26, 6:00 am WASHINGTON -- A vast pool of molten rock in the continental crust that underlies southwestern Washington state could supply magma to three active volcanoes in the Cascade Mountains -- Mount St. Helens , Mount Rainier and Mount Adams -- according to a new study that's causing a stir among scientists.

The study, published Sunday in the magazine Nature Geoscience, concluded that the magma pool among the three mountains could be the "most widespread magma-bearing area of continental crust discovered so far."

Other scientists dismiss the existence of an underground vat of magma covering potentially hundreds of square miles as "farfetched" and "highly unlikely." Rather than magma heated to 1,300 to 1,400 degrees, some think it could be water. [Boo! You're farfetched and unlikely!!]

They also discount speculation that a so-called "super volcano" such as the one under the Yellowstone National Park area might be beneath the region. They say there's no credible evidence to suggest a need to overhaul the volcanic hazard assessments for the three mountains.

In the late 1980s, scientists discovered a massive underground electromagnetic anomaly known as the Southern Washington Cascades Conductor. However, the two-year study published Sunday is the first to suggest that it may be the source of magma for Mounts St. Helens, Rainier and Adams. Scientists think that each volcano has its own small magma chamber three miles or more directly beneath it. A large pool of magma 12 to 15 miles under the region's surface supplies each of the shallower chambers, the new study theorizes.

"The take-home point is there is evidence of a primary magma pool that feeds the chambers underneath the volcanoes," said Matt Burgess , who worked on the study before becoming a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in San Diego . "It's one source all these volcanoes feed off."

Using sensitive instruments at 85 sites among the mountains -- including Mount St. Helens during its just-ended eruptive phase -- scientists studied the electric and magnetic fields of the Southern Washington Cascades Conductor, Burgess said. "It's up for debate, but it is reasonable to assume it is a large magma chamber," he said. "There is no other explanation for this."

Among the scientists who study volcanoes, the study has, in fact, touched off a major debate. "Their interpretation is open to disagreement," said Seth Moran , a volcano seismologist with the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash. "Other geophysical studies don't support this theory." [Booooo!]

Moran said the most telling evidence that the theory was wrong was the lack of any surface evidence, such as geothermal vents or hot springs, among the mountains that would indicate the presence of a super-heated underground magma pool. "If there was such a large body of magma, you would find surface evidence," Moran said, adding that Yellowstone, with its geysers and hot springs, is a perfect example of the type of visible evidence that's lacking in southwest Washington state .

Yet some of Malone's colleagues agree with the study and Hill's conclusions. Olivier Bachmann , a geochemist at the University of Washington , said the data in the study were "pretty solid." He said there was other evidence, including geochemical evidence, to suggest that the Southern Washington Cascades Conductor might be a magma pool. The lack of surface evidence is no reason to discount the possibility of a southwest Washington magma pool, Bachmann said, adding that the geysers and hot springs in Yellowstone, Iceland and New Zealand are over much shallower magma pools than the Southern Washington Cascades Conductor.

Bachmann called the Southern Washington Cascades Conductor a "mush zone," about 20 to 50 percent magma and the rest crystalline rock. The magma extruded at Mount St. Helens was filled with crystals, he said. "The magma at Mount St. Helens is sticky, viscous, explosive and didn't come directly from the (Earth's) mantle," he said.

All the scientists, including Hill and Burgess, said there was nothing to suggest that a dangerous super volcano was underneath southwest Washington .

The Yellowstone super volcano is one of the largest on Earth, with a caldera, or depression, in the surface that covers 1,500 square miles. During its last eruption, 640,000 years ago, it released 8,000 times more lava and ash than the 1980 eruptions of Mount St. Helens did.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ducks au Jardin des Olives

These ducks were hanging around outside the Olive Garden last Saturday. I took this photo on our way in, and they were still there on our way out, so I fed them a leftover breadstick.

I wanted to give them my leftover ravioli too but Guy wouldn't let me. He said, "I don't want you to look like some ravioli-duck-feeding weirdo." (There were a lot of people waiting around outside for their tables to be ready.)

Water Dogs

Here are some photos I took at the Edmonds Dog Park last Saturday. It had been raining all day but the sun finally came out and the water dogs couldn't wait to get in the water. There were as many as 6 different dogs in the water at one time.

Truth or Square

Mark yer calendars! Nickelodeon celebrates the 10-year anniversary of its highest rated show with this prime time, hour-long original movie.

Truth or Square airs Friday, November 6 at 8:00 p.m. on Nickelodeon, and features guest stars Will Ferrell, Craig Ferguson, Ricky Gervais, Pink, Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and Robin Williams.

Fun fact: even President Obama is a SpongeBob fan! From the Seattle Times:

""SpongeBob SquarePants" has been TV's most popular animated show for children aged 2 to 11 for seven years now, and a not-so-secret factor to its appeal is that many parents - and even people without kids - love it, too. It's a cash cow that has generated $8 billion in merchandising revenue for Nickelodeon.

"The show is seen in 25 different languages and counts two world leaders, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who say they watch with their children.

"Hillenburg is an artist and also a scientist who taught, and the inspiration for many of his show's characters came from a comic he wrote, "The Intertidal Zone," designed to teach his students at the Ocean Institute about tidal pool characters.

"Through 125 episodes and guest shots by the likes of David Bowie, LeBron James, Whoopi Goldberg and Ray Liotta, the series has evolved and explored other characters to avoid repeating itself. But the essence of the show remains SpongeBob and his sweet innocence, Hillenburg said.

""I never really imagined a show about a sponge going past our first season," he said. "I thought maybe we'd have a cult following, and we'd be gone after one season. I'm in disbelief that we're here talking.""

From: Seattle Times, July 13, 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009


Just a little biggie.

I walk past a sassafras tree on my way to work every morning. When I was a kid, someone once showed me how to pick a leaf off a sassafras tree and scratch the stem to release the fragrance. It smells like lemon soap:

"Sassafras trees grow from 50–120 feet) tall with many slender branches, and smooth, orange-brown bark. The branching is sympodial. The bark of the mature trunk is thick, red-brown, and deeply furrowed. The wood is light, hard and sometimes brittle. It can be used to make a serviceable bow if properly worked. All parts of the plants are very fragrant. The species are unusual in having three distinct leaf patterns on the same plant, unlobed oval, bilobed (mitten-shaped), and trilobed (three pronged); rarely the leaves can be five-lobed. The young leaves and twigs are quite mucilaginous, and produce a citrus-like scent when crushed. The fruit are blue-black, egg-shaped, 1 cm long, produced on long, red-stalked cups, and mature in late summer.The largest Sassafras tree in the United States is located in Owensboro, Kentucky. The name "Sassafras," applied by the botanist Nicolas Monardes in the sixteenth century, is said to be a corruption of the Spanish word for saxifrage.

"Steam distillation of dried root bark produces an essential oil consisting mostly of safrole that once was extensively used as a fragrance in perfumes and soaps, food and for aromatherapy. Safrole is a precursor for the clandestine manufacture of the drug MDMA (ecstasy), and as such, its transport is monitored internationally.

"The dried and ground leaves are used to make filé powder, a spice used in the making of some types of gumbo. The roots of Sassafras can be steeped to make tea and were used in the flavoring of root beer until being banned by the FDA. Sassafras tea can be used as an anticoagulant. Sassafras was a commodity prized in Europe as a cure for gonorrhea."


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cat Doll and Pink Hair

Know what I mean?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pink Taxi de Puebla

I like this idea!:

Mexico launches fleet of pink cabs - driven by women, for women riders - to curb sexual harassment

Mexico has figured out one way to curb sexual harassment: Paint taxis pink, equip them with a beauty kit and put a woman behind the wheel. Catering to female passengers sick of being ogled by lecherous cabbies, the Mexican city of Puebla has launched a fleet of 35 pink cabs driven by women solely for women passengers.

The privately financed Pink Taxi de Puebla invested about $440,000 to start the service, and the Puebla state government provided licensing and training. If the program succeeds, officials plan to expand it to other cities. The move has appalled women's rights activists.

"We are in the 21st century, and they are saying women have continued worrying about beauty and nothing more," said Vianeth Rojas, of the Network for Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Puebla.

But the women of Puebla, at least, seem to like the idea. "Some of the woman who have been on board tell us how male taxi drivers cross the line and try to flirt with them and make inappropriate propositions," pink taxi driver Aida Santos told the Associated Press. "They won't have that feeling of insecurity, and they feel more relaxed."

The compact, four-door Chevrolet cabs are equipped with a tracking device and an alarm button connected to emergency services. And, yes, the distaff cabbies provide beauty supplies to passengers on request. Women-only taxis have been catching on in such cities as Moscow to Dubai.

A proposal to create a pink taxi service in Mexico City failed to get off the ground in 2007, but the crime-ridden metropolis offers women-only buses and subway cars at rush hour.


I like Victoria Beckham's hair. It's growing out from the super-short pixie cut she wore a while back. I like the color too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Flat Reading

Are you looking for something engrossing to read? Do you like flat reading material so that you can easily eat lunch and read simultaneously?

Then I have some fun news for you. If you haven't already read the series of articles recently published in Vanity Fair entitled "The Madoff Chronicles," I highly recommend that you check it out. Vanity Fair helpfully provides links to each article--with all the photos included--here:

I was afraid they'd try to make it "subscription only" but they were cool and didn't do that. You don't even have to register for a free subscription. The articles are very long but fascinating.

This series of articles was originally recommended to me by my dental hygenist, Debbie, at my last appointment. While cleaning my teeth, Debbie told me she was hooked on the series and couldn't wait for her next issue of Vanity Fair to arrive every month so that she could read the latest installment. "Who knew? Did the wife know? Did the kids know? Did the secretary know?? I have to find out!" said Debbie.

She was also addictively reading the Twilight series. She giggled when she accidentally revealed to me her hardcover copy of New Moon stashed away like contraband (she was looking for floss). Clearly, Debbie likes a good suspense story.

Photo of Eleanor Squillari, Bernie Madoff's longtime secretary.

Dubious Claims...

...made by the guy outside my office window right now who is hawking a "Chicago-style" restaurant:

1. "Everyone will be there!"

2. "The food is from Chicago."

3. "Chicago-style pizza, free fries with every order...This is how people in Chicago eat!"

And, my personal favorite:

"Only in Seattle can you find this authentic Chicago-style pizza!"


More hilarious balloon boy mockery at this link:

Panico en el Transiberiano

...otherwise known as Horror Express.

This movie from 1972 stars Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Telly Savalas. All three of them really give it their all. Guy and I watched this movie the other night and it truly delivers. This is a summary from IMDB:

"In 1906, in China, Professor Alexander Saxton discovers an ancient frozen fossil in the remote Province of Szechuan. He brings the remains of the being in a box to Shanghai and boards a trans-Siberian train, where he meets his acquaintance Dr. Wells. During the trip, a life force trapped in the frozen creature is released, killing the passengers."

Sounds dumb, no? But, surprisingly, there are many cool reveals and interesting ideas in this film. The pacing is excellent too. It's action-packed all the way through, but the plot builds somewhat slowly and spookily at first, as the mystery deepens and the action begins to accelerate. By the end of the movie, it's an all-out zombie fest, but it takes a while to get there.

Monday, October 19, 2009

"Full Body" Latte...$50,000

Chicka Latta, Cowgirls, Java Girls, Beehive Espresso, Knotty Bodies Espresso...there's even one sadly named Best Friend. I can't decide if that name is more poignant or sinister. Also, reading the reviews on Yelp, this sounds like one of the sleazier ones. One reviewer claimed that the neighborhood teens have nicknamed the Best Friend coffee stand "the slut hut."

Another reviewer said this: "Now, there is absolutely no doubt this stand is one of the sluttiest around. That's a pretty harsh word but seriously...I think I once saw one of the baristas (there's typically 2-3 on duty simultaneously) wearing pantyhose over a thong and a wifebeater at 6am in the dead of winter. Thankfully that was only once...because even as a straight male I left feeling a little disturbed."

Yikes!! That sounds grim. Another reviewer said, "Huh? What? I'm in the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store parking lot. I don't really expect to see scantily clad women in the parking lot of a Christian charity organization."

And of course there's the aptly named Grab-N-Go, which seems to have taken their name a little too literally. Stephanie pointed out that these businesses are weirdly similar to the Starbucks of the future as imagined in Idiocracy. How did Mike Judge know??

From the Seattle Times, September 24, 2009. :
Are bikini baristas in Everett showing too much skin?
EVERETT — Business was brisk just before noon Thursday at the Grab-N-Go Bikini Hut, where a lone barista, clad in a skimpy pink string bikini, served up steaming vanilla lattes and an endless supply of cheerful chitchat from behind the counter of the espresso stand.

Customers who waited patiently in pickups and SUVs seemed unaware that the stand — no larger than the master closet of a suburban tract house — has become ground zero in one of Everett's most pressing civic conundrums: What is appropriate behavior at drive-up businesses that serve coffee with a view?

The city, inundated with complaints from citizens and business owners who say the so-called "bikini baristas" expose too much skin, is considering restricting their behavior by updating its decades-old lewd-conduct ordinance.

The issue has gained even more steam now that five Grab-N-Go baristas from the Everett stand were charged this week in Everett Municipal Court with prostitution after a lengthy undercover investigation by Everett police. [Nice work if you can get it!] And Thursday, a sixth Grab-N-Go barista from a Lynnwood-area espresso stand was arraigned on an indecent-exposure charge.

Since July, a group of undercover Everett police officers has frequented the Grab-N-Go stand near Everett Mall after complaints that baristas were exposing themselves for cash or working completely nude, according to an Everett police report. The undercover officers who paid extra say the female baristas stripped naked, fondling each other and exposing themselves, according to a police report. A $20 "whip cream show" featured a barista licking whipped cream off a co-worker's groin and breast, police allege.

Baristas also charged to play "basketball," in which customers threw wadded cash, and baristas caught it in underwear or bikini bottoms, police said. The Everett City Prosecutor's office charged the women with prostitution because money was exchanged for "sex acts," said an Everett police spokesman.

The barista charged with indecent exposure, Bridget Barnhouse, 26, was seen "shaking her butt" toward traffic July 10 while outside the stand at 11323 Highway 99, court papers say. The Snohomish woman was wearing a G-string and pasties, charges allege.

Bill Wheeler, owner of the four Grab-N-Go stands in Snohomish County, called the charges "B.S." and said that he supports the six employees facing misdemeanor charges. "These are all college girls who are trying to make a living," Wheeler said. "We're a coffee stand, not a strip club." Wheeler said his employees are told when they are hired that they cannot expose themselves to customers.

Everett police spokesman Sgt. Robert Goetz said that during the past year his department has received over 40 complaints about espresso stands with baristas in bikinis or lingerie. Similar complaints have been filed with the Snohomish and King counties sheriff's offices and Lynnwood police. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday night on the proposed update to Everett's lewd-conduct ordinance, which would declare drive-up windows a public place, making it illegal for someone to expose their breasts and genitals.

The proposed ordinance also would better define lewd acts and spell out where specific acts are allowed. It would define a lewd act as an exposure or display of one's most personal parts; or touching, caressing or fondling of those parts; or masturbation; or sexual conduct in public.

At the Everett Grab-N-Go, the 21-year-old bikini-clad barista leaned in close to take the orders of two men in a truck and asked them if they thought it was inappropriate that women at the stand work in bikinis, pasties and lingerie. She smiled when they offered their wholehearted support. "It's all blown out of proportion," she said about the allegations. "I think they [the police] are bored, and they need something better to do."

The woman, who declined to give her name out of fear that she would lose her job, said she does not flash customers or offer whipped-cream shows. "People might find us offensive because we're sexy. But if you find sexy to be offensive, go be a nun," she said.

Nobody Here But Us Bananas

No, I haven't seen four dachshunds.

Have any of you guys? No?

If we see any dogs, though, we'll be sure to let you know!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rainbow Malcontent

Guy managed to capture these photos of a rainbow yesterday in Lynnwood. It had been raining all day and then the sun suddenly came out and the rainbow appeared. My mom complained that the wires were "in the way" and also that even though we get a lot of rainbows in Washington, "we should get more." But, personally, I was happy to see something on Aurora besides gun shops and prostitutes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Update: My first attempt to make bagels failed. I didn't get very far--my yeast failed to froth up and I realized my mistake. I should have bought new yeast but I had a big container of yeast in my freezer that I've been waiting to use. However, I think I waited too long and it had expired. But I am going to try again next week!

Every now and then, I like to wind down by reading a true crime book. For some reason, I find them relaxing, probably because the criminal always gets caught and brought to justice in the end.

This last one I picked up, The Surgeon's Wife, is a pretty good read. What was interesting about this case was that the prosecution managed to get a guilty verdict on this guy based solely on circumstantial evidence. They never even found his wife's body, but they argued convincingly that he dumped her out of his private plane (flying was one of his many hobbies). If you read the book, there will be no doubt in your mind that he was guilty, but legally, it's almost impossible to prove murder without any forensic evidence.

Anyway, reading this book had the weird result of giving me the idea to bake bagels! The evil surgeon in the book is one of those high-achievers with very low social intelligence--so even though he was malevolently narcissistic at best, and a sociopath at worst, he was very intelligent and high-achieving in his career and with impressive hobbies such as speaking multiple languages, flying a plane, and gourmet cooking. He was known (among friends and neighbors) for his delicious homemade bagels.

It gave me the idea to try to make bagels this weekend. I don't think they're probably that difficult, just time-consuming (because the dough needs time to rise and all that). I'm going to try a Williams-Sonoma recipe, since I've had luck with their recipes in the past:

In a large bowl or mixer, combine 1 package quick-rise yeast (2 1.4 tsp) and 1/2 cup bread flour. Stir in 1 cup lukewarm milk and let stand until frothy, about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, beat in 1/4 cup corn oil, 1 tsp salt, an egg yolk (save the white) and 1 tablespoon sugar. Gradually beat in enough bread flour (2-3 cups) to make a stiff but workable dough.

Knead by hand or with a dough hook, adding flour as needed. Knead by hand until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes; knead by hook until the dough is not sticky and pulls cleanly from the bowl sides, 6-7 minutes. Form the dough into a bowl and place in a clean, greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45-60 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and press flat. Roll into a log about 8 inches long and cut into 16 equal pieces. Cover with a clean kitchen towel. One at a time, form each piece into a ball, then flatten it into a round 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, make a hole through the center of each round, then gently widen the hole to 1 inch in diameter. Place the rounds on the work surface, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rise until doubled about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Grease a baking sheet.

In a pot, bring 3 quarts water to a boil. Reduce head to low. Slip 3 bagels at a time into the simmering water. Poach, turning once, for 3 minutes on each side; reform the holes if necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the prepared sheet.

Lightly beat the egg white and brush over the bagels. Sprinkle with seeds (poppy or sesame) or coarse salt. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Makes 16 bagels.