Monday, November 26, 2007

Progress (The Good Kind).

Lately we've been going through a really big purge. I have unloaded books, old magazines, clothes, CDs, dishes, and bags and bags of crap that I had been keeping for no good reason.
On Monday, our friend A came by and helped us haul away a couple pieces of furniture that we no longer needed. It feels good. I'm starting to get crafty again, and just in time for the holidays, which is a huge bonus.
Last night the b.h. made some gardiniera and a small (test) batch of cranberry pepper jelly, while I did a batch of tart cherry and a batch of pomegranate. His both turned out very well. Mine have successfully jelled, but I have yet to taste them.
I also bought myself a cutting mat large enough to handle a template for the t-shirts I have been socking away for my future t-shirt quilt (well, that's probably quilts now, because there are so damned many), so that will mean even more purging (and more crafting) in the near future. In short (too late!) I am being productive once again, and it is quite a relief.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

James Madison: Master Prognosticator?

Words of a Founding Father. (With thanks to Andrew Sullivan. Keeps me from having to form any thoughts of my own right now.)

“If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

“It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

“No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”

“The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.”

“War should only be declared by the authority of the people, whose toils and treasures are to support its burdens, instead of the government which is to reap its fruits.”

“Each generation should be made to bear the burden of its own wars, instead of carrying them on, at the expense of other generations.”

I was listening to a political podcast today and one of the hosts pointed out that with all the money we've spent basically ruining Iraq, we could have covered the entire cost of Universal Healthcare by now.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy I'm Not Eating Any Turkey Day, Everybody.

Every once in awhile, I like going out alone, sitting at a bar, and observing other people's bar lives. They are pretty much the same, but occasionally I am able to make an observation that I might have missed had I been otherwise occupied- you know, working.
So last night I stopped for a beer at a bar where one of my friends works. He had a small group of guys sitting at a table in the corner. They kept coming up, one at a time, every few minutes, and ordering rounds of shots. It was obviously a group of old friends who had come back into town for the holiday, and they were doing that thing that guys do where they buy round after round, proving how manly they are by showing how much they can drink. The trick is that none of them wants to be the guy who decides he's had enough, so they keep going long after a thinking person would. This was a particularly hilarious group because with each round, their requests became sillier and more girly (i.e.- they had more than four ingredients and a name that most men would be embarrassed to ask for). They did oatmeal cookies, fruity motherfuckers, and any number of shooters that can be described as "fruity but strong, and make it taste good."

My bartender buddy's wife was there, and after she had had a few she started making fun of them. Loudly. I remarked after listening to a laundry list of ingredients that they wanted in one round (there were like seven, and he only wanted four shots, which is just stupid):
"What do you call that, T - a Sandy Vagina?"

When she and I had gone to the restroom at the same time, one of the guys remarked to my bartender friend that "Those two lesbians are making fun of us for what we're drinking."

"Oh, you mean my wife and my friend's wife? Yeah, they're smart asses."

You could hear the other guy slap his forehead from across the room.

Half an hour later, when all the schnapps, flavored rum and pineapple juice started seeping into their collective bloodstream, I heard one of them outside getting loud and angry, and when I looked out he was on his feet, waving his finger in his friend's face.

"I WILL FUCK YOU IN THE ASS!!" he screamed.

It made me remember that old joke:

Why didn't Hitler drink tequila? Because it made him mean.

There's an updated version of that joke in here somewhere, but I don't know what it is.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Extra Showers, Extra Hours, The End of our Nightmare, Latin Rythyms, Two More Dogs, Traffic, Produce, and How Not to Douche: A Very Long Weekend In GA

After that last post we went back to work. That night blew. I can't imagine why people still feel the need to emulate Dave Matthews and the like, but since dumb young kids keep eating it up I see no end in sight.
Thursday was pretty light, inventory wise. I spent a few hours trying to distract a very energetic toddler. It nearly killed me. Hat tip to parents everywhere. Much respect for your energy.
Thursday night I dropped the b.h. at work and came home. I dropped by L0we's on the way and picked up some more of that nifty plastic wrap that helps insulate windows for the winter (as opposed to the super secret plastic wrap which one might use with duct tape in case of a biological weapons attack by Islamist Extremists). It was unreasonably cold and unusually windy outside, so I covered the French doors in the bedroom and one of the windows in the office. Then I made a fabulous Waldorf salad (celery, Granny Smith apples, mayo, toasted walnuts, and Cr@isins) and a batch of cranberry relish (fresh cranberries, one whole orange -peel and all- and a cinnamon stick). Then I went back and picked up the b.h. from work. We made some food, watched some TV, and showered. When we were headed up to bed, we called the dogs in. Wyatt came running right away, but Kilgore was nowhere to be found. I called for him, I whistled, I walked out to the edge of the woods, and I tried bribing him with treats. No dice. The b.h. suggested we go to bed and set an alarm to try again in a half hour.
I did. He got up ( I had to do it last time, and the b.h. is a very fair-minded man)and went to the front door. I was rapidly losing consciousness when I heard the dog come in, then a lot of swearing followed by orders for the dog to get in the bathroom. I was twenty minutes before I saw them again.
"It looks like a crime scene in there" the b.h. reported.
I winced and braced myself for the follow-up.
"Not blood, just a LOT of muddy red clay, sprayed over everything. I don't know what the hell he got into, but getting him clean was not easy." The dog was grinning. He approached the foot of the bed.
"No! Fuck you, motherfucker. You are not sleeping in that bed tonight."
The dog hung his head and went to the corner to lay on his dog bed. I turned off the light. Two minutes later the b.h. got up and put a blanket on the dog. We slept.

On Friday the b.h. went to work early. He worked a private party at five, then started our regular shift at ten. Saturday was - wait for it- the LAST HOME FOOTBALL GAME OF THE SEASON. (That sound you hear is my soul returning from hiding). The b.h. again signed up for an extra shift, so we went downtown early, right in the middle of post-game traffic. It took twelve minutes to get from our house to the edge of downtown, and it took forty minutes for me to get out of downtown from there. We picked up our friend S and brought him back to work. We ate dinner at the new Italian restaurant on Broad and Jackson. La Dolce Vita. It was pretty damned good, if a bit pricey, and definitely the most authentic Italian I've had in the South.
Saturday night was easy as pie. Live Cuban music, complete with people who really knew how to dance. I always love a change of pace.
We had to stay and do inventory after close, since we're going to be out of town for the next couple days. I didn't remember that until after we had finished and I thought we were about to leave. We stopped at the grocery store on the way home for a frozen pizza. By the time I got home, ate, and showered, it was almost six a.m. I told S I would pick him up at ten-thirty this morning.

I didn't fall asleep until almost eight, but I managed to drag myself out of bed on time and then I went and picked up S and The Girls. You may remember them from S's last trip to the pokey. I brought them back here, my friend J met us here, and we all headed North to bring S to jail in another county. He will serve seven and a half days (if all goes as planned) for a probation violation, and I will pick him up next Sunday night and bring him back home again. Did I mention that drinking and driving is a really bad idea? It is.
Anyway, the drive started out smoothly enough, but there was a bit of confusion due to a combination of vague directions, closed roads, and poorly marked detours. At one point I turned the car around four times in as many minutes. It was quite comical. It was also very early and I was very bleary, so I hate to think what the trip will be like next week when I make it in the dark.
After we dropped S off, J and I headed for Atlanta. The plan was a trip to C0stco and the awesome DeKalb Farmer's Market. Driving was ridiculous. I always forget how much I hate Atlanta drivers until I am surrounded by them. There is no regard for the speed limit or safety anywhere in the Greater Atlanta Area. Ugh.
Costco was really, really overwhelming and totally claustrophobic, but since J and I have the same sensibilities and tolerance we managed to navigate it without incident. I got a lot of great stuff, including but not limited to three varieties of Cabot cheese, a giant jar of pickled green beans, and some organic spinach and feta cheese frozen pizzas. The guy that checked our groceries was clearly on some kind of speed, and he was a little alarming.
The Farmer's Market was similarly crowded but as always totally worth the effort. I bought some huge fennel, a loaf of their pecan sandwich bread, a jar of very promising-looking mango chutney, tangerines, grapefruit, oranges, watercress, organic half and half, fresh flat-leaf parsley, two kinds of persimmons (I have never tried one and welcome any suggestions as to how to prepare them), fresh water chestnuts (also a new thing for me, but since I'm so fond of the canned ones I felt it was a safe bet), a pound of sun chokes (Jerusalem artichokes), a bar of Dagoba organic chocolate (flavored with lime), a couple varieties of local hot peppers, and several other items I can't remember right now. I only spent fifty dollars. Every time I go there I am shocked at how cheap it is, and what fantastic quality and variety they have.
I am struggling to remember the name of the fruit (J? A little help here?) that J mentioned wanting to try. She said that Anthony Bourdain described it as smelling like a corpse and tasting like tiramisu. We eyed said fruit for a moment, but they were huge and expensive and she decided to save it for another day. Less than five minutes later we were walking into the dairy section and, lo and behold, there were free samples of an ice cream-type product made with said Mystery Fruit. We eagerly dug our tiny sample spoons in and popped it into our mouths. I made the mistake of inhaling at the precise moment when I touched the spoon, but my brain did not register the degree of foulness emanating from it until it was too late. I found myself standing at the sample table, choking down the dessert equivalent of a days old cadaver. Tears welled up in my eyes. J proclaimed an immediate love for it. I grabbed for another sample spoon and attempted to cram enough Anything Else flavored ice cream in my mouth to drown out the awful taste. The woman at the sample table spooned me a sorbet sample, looking sympathetic as she handed it to me. I got the idea that I was probably not the only person who had had that reaction today. Ah well, nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?
On the way home we stopped for a sandwich. We got back to the house around seven thirty. I helped J unload, then she helped me unload, and she headed out. I showed off all of our purchases to the b.h. He went for the pickled green beans right away, but couldn't seem to get the jar open. I took it and ran it under hot water and tried it. Then he banged it on the counter and tried again. Finally, I sat down on the kitchen floor, braced the jar between my legs and, using a rubber jar opener, managed to pop the lid. Unfortunately, the jar was not entirely upright at that point, so I poured about half of the vinegar directly into my crotch.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

On Procrastination.

You may have noticed that I have been blogging more lately. Is it because I have found my muse ? Kind of, if you consider bitterness and a serious disdain for football and its fans a muse (I do). But what's really going on in that I told my friend A that I would do National Novel Writing Month ( with her. I have never thought of myself as a novel writer, and that is more true today than ever. So I'm dragging my proverbial feet. (But boy is my house clean!!! And man is my laundry done!! And hell, I have even cleaned out the closets!! See how that works?)
Anyway, apologies to A for my being such a dick. But she sent me something hilarious today to help me along. And I'm posting it here for you, while I continue to avoid actual writing:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Other Asshole; or Customer of the Night # 553

They say that a fool and his money are soon parted, but what they don't tell you is that an asshole and his money don't even get to say goodbye. This Guy (who was That Guy on this particular night) was dressed better than anybody else in the room, better than anybody at a football game ought to be, and every fifteen minutes or so I thought I had figured out who he was with. Except that he was apparently with everybody who would come within earshot, and he kept pulling out giant wads of cash and sidling up to especially young women at the bar and trying to buy them drinks. He wasn't that drunk at first, so I served him several rounds, but eventually I started motioning to whomever his latest victim was that he was cut off. This did not stop him from close talking every guy and inappropriately hitting on every girl (he was probably in his late thirties and was, frankly, in the wrong bar if he was looking for a date that night) in sight. Finally a group of girls got tired of him and, after he dropped fifty bucks on the bar to buy them a round of shots and turned his back, decided to spend it all. I didn't care, and obviously That Guy didn't either. They gave me a huge tip (from their own money) and ran away as soon as they could. This happened several times during the night: That Guy puts down money, latest victim gets drink, That Guy and victim do the shot, change gets left on the bar, and That Guy disappears to find another victim. It really did make up for the other folks that weren't tipping very well (see previous post).
I didn't want to kick That Guy out because he was mostly harmless but very drunk, and I thought it would be more of a hassle than necessary for our door staff, who had their hands full as it was. In the end, though, I had to. He came up at around one thirty and ordered a shot from the other bartender. I was busy at the other end of the bar and before I could get the other bartender's attention to tell him that I had cut That Guy off, he had already poured one. That Guy drank it, the other bartender walked away, and about ten or twenty seconds later, as I walked past That Guy, he spit his shot back out on the bar. I asked the door guys to remove him gently and they did. When I stepped outside at two to get a breath of fresh air before cleaning, I saw That Guy and the Blonde Douchebag. They were talking so close to each other's faces that I thought they were about to fight. No such luck. They were just so drunk they didn't realize how close they were to making out.

In other news, the b.h. found an excellent new blog. The link to Hot Knives (featuring two vegetarian line cooks from L.A.) is over there on your left. Check it out. The Grilled Cheese post from April 2006 was particularly amusing.

Customer of the Night: Blonde Douchebag.

Friday, guy with buzzed hair and a button-down shirt. He was already there when I came in, but he was sober and polite, and he knew what he wanted and had a tab (which is faster because I just make the drink and bring it to him and mark the tab, as opposed to taking his order, making the drink, bringing it over, taking money, making change, etc.) so on several occasions I skipped over other people to get him. After about two hours of this, while we were still totally slammed, he asked to close his tab. I brought it over and after giving him his credit card and his tab, I proceeded to take the order from the guy next to him. While I was making that drink, I overheard the Blonde Douchebag telling his friend that he wasn't going to tip. I thought that I must have misheard him, because up to this point we had had been getting along just fine.
After finishing up with the other customer, I went to retrieve Blonde Douchebag's credit card slip. Thirty-eight dollars, no tip.
Before I go any further I would like to explain that thirty eight dollars in the bar where I work represents a lot of drinks. This is a college town, beers are two bucks, and even if you tip twenty percent (which people often don't), you're talking about less than eight bucks on nineteen beers (or four beers and eight drinks, or whatever). Any way you cut it, it's not great, and not tipping at all is total bullshit, especially when i have busted my ass and provided you with excellent service.
"Are you fucking kidding me?!" I yelled at the back of Blonde Douchebag as he made his way to the front of the stage.
He didn't turn around. I went around the bar, walked up to him in front of all of his friends, tapped him on the shoulder, and said very loudly, but not angrily
"Did I do something to upset you?"
"What? No. Why? What-" replied Blonde Douchebag.
"Are you sure? I mean, you got everything you wanted, in a timely fashion, and everything?"
He nodded at me stupidly.
"Really? Because you left me no tip at all on a thirty-eight dollar tab, so I assumed you must be pissed about something."
"No. You're a great bartender. You were great. Really."
"Well, I'll be sure and tell my fucking landlord you said so."

As I walked away i heard his girlfriend bitching him out. A few minutes later a couple of his friends came up and apologized and threw a few dollars into the tip jar.
They all left.

An hour later, I look up and Blonde Douchebag is back. I am in the process of pouring three drinks, and he is standing three feet away from me yelling "Ma'am! Ma'am!" at the side of my head. I looked up and calmly said "You're going to have to wait."

I didn't wait on him. I didn't look at him again, until several minutes later when he put his hand out and told me he was sorry for not tipping me earlier. I didn't take his hand, but looked down at it and then back up at him with dead eyes.
"I'm glad that you're sorry."
He looked angry, like he was about to start a fight with me over it.
"I'm trying to tell you I'm sorry-"
"And I heard you. And I'm glad you apologized."
After we closed I saw him outside with the other biggest asshole in the room. More on that guy later.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Misuse of Tae Kwon Do?

Two women, early thirties, walking alone down a street at two in the morning. They're chatting, not really paying much attention to the man (I use that term loosely, as he was clearly a fucking frat boy) in the gray fleece and the white baseball hat on his cell phone walking toward them. As he passes them, he lunges toward the nearest woman, sticking out his tongue and screaming "Blahhhhh!" right in her face.
The woman turns toward him, takes a step, and then turns and skip side kicks him right in the chest. His whole body folds, momentarily, and his face contorts in confusion, which then turns to rage. The women laugh a little. They continue walking. Still talking on his phone, the man turns to follow the two women, shouting after them
"Now I'm going to follow you. Isn't that funny?"

"Yeah, in fact, it's fucking hilarious," retorts The Kicker.

There is a police car in the street adjacent to them, lights flashing, with a car pulled over. Two more cops approach on bikes.

"Officer!! This man is following me!! Help me please! This man is following me!!"
The cops pay no attention.

"What the fuck?!" the befleeced fellow continues. "You just hit me for no fucking reason!!"

"You just screamed in my fucking face! We're women, we're walking alone, and it's two in the fucking morning! What are you thinking?!"

"Blah blah blah," continues the drunk man, still following, still on his cell phone.

"Get in the car," says Woman Number Two, opening the passenger door.

"No, I don't want this asshole to get your plate number. What if he fucks with your car later?"

"It's fine. Just get in."

The Kicker gets in the car, and as she is pulling the door shut behind her the man turns and walks in another direction, still shouting obscenities at her (and into his cell phone). Just then a cop comes across the street, and The Kicker gets back out of the car to talk to him.

"Ma'am, did you know that guy?"

"No sir, I have never seen him before in my life. He just screamed in my face and scared me, so I- well, I kind of just hit him."

The cop went after the guy, who was still on his phone. The women got in their car and drove away.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Olives, Part Two.

We spent some time yesterday wiping the now cured olives down (they still had a bit of dirt on them) before putting them in their briny new homes. Today the b.h. chose several marinade recipes and made very small (half pint) batches of each so we can try them before making a big commitment.
This is what they look like after curing, but before brining:

They don't taste like much right now. But in a few short days...

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Customer of the Night # 888: The Jackass

It's busy(ish). There is a band playing. Everyone is talking, there is a very loud ice machine just over my shoulder, and yet somehow I can still here this Jackass all the way at the other end of the bar. I thank the person I'm waiting on, shut the cash register, and go see what's going on. The other bartender has obviously had it with the guy. She turns as I'm approaching and asks if I know The Jackass. I do not. I have seen him before a lot, though, and he has never been a problem. What's the trouble? She rolls her eyes and before she can answer he yells something else that I can't hear. I turn to him.
"What's the problem?"
"You guys don't even have real Goldschl@ger in this fucking place."
"Yeah I know, we used to but..."
"Then it shouldn't be four bucks!!!!" he yelled.
"Yeah, I'm sorry, we used to have the real stuff, but this is pretty much the same thing."

Ah this point, The Jackass utters the fatal sentence:

"I'm a bartender"

followed by

"And I know what this shit fucking costs. If you're not going to have the real shit then it's three dollars."

I proceed to explain to him that the price in HIS bar might be three bucks, but in OUR bar it is four. We don't have any shots that are three bucks, just as we do not have two-for-ones, "Ladies' Night", or all you can drink specials. Politely, mind you. He continues to bitch. And I explain to him that no one can tell the difference except possibly for him (a connoiseur, obviously), and that no, we won't be ordering "the real stuff" because we simply don't sell much of it. During this discussion he got surlier and surlier, and when I reminded him that we sort of knew each other because I always wait on him when he comes to see this band (once every six weeks for the whole year), he didn't seem to care. He insisted that we needed to have "the real stuff" and that as a bartender he made sure his customers were happy. At which point, I told him (in what was probably not a very convincing tone) that I was sorry that he was not happy, and then I turned my back on him and walked away.
Less than thirty minutes later, I saw The Jackass out near what one might describe as a "pit" in front of the stage. A bunch of young guys were jumping up and down and pushing each other around, but not aggressively- they were just blowing off steam and enjoying the band. The Jackass was standing just close enough that he would get bumped into once in awhile, but he had plenty of room to back up and remain outside the fray if he so chose. Instead, he waited until the smallest, skinniest guy in the pit bumped into him, and then he threw the guy to the ground as hard as he could. The guy just looked at The Jackass, stood up, and moved on. The Jackass was even more angry now, as he was clearly hoping to have a good reason to beat up a guy half his size. Nothing doing.
Later The Jackass came to close his tab. I shoved it in front of him without a word, he signed it, left a decent tip, and went away. I thought he was leaving. No such luck.
At the very end of the night, I noticed that there was a credit card with the name of The Jackass on it back behind the bar.

"Ooh, did he drop this?" I asked the other bartender, a little gleefully, imagining his panic when he realized it was gone and the conversation I would get to have with him when he returned to pick it up, sober, the next day.

"No, he opened another tab."


Next thing I know, I am re-stocking beer with my back to the bar and a very loud shouting match starts right behind me. I turn around and see The Jackass, with a door guy in front of him pushing him toward the door, screaming at one of the guys in the band (his "friend")

"Be a man!! Be a man!!"

The band guy, whom I have always gotten along with but whom I also have a healthy fear of, as there is a little bit of crazy just behind his eyes, is screaming

"You need to learn to keep your mouth shut! Shut your fucking mouth!"

The band member is being held back very gently by a sweet and very drunk co-worker of mine, who also happens to be the Biggest Guy In The Room. Co-worker was not working, and to this day has no recollection of the incident, but he was patting the band guy on the back and saying "Shhhhh..." very quietly while pushing him out the back door. It worked.

The door guy who was escorting The Jackass out the front door said very loudly
"Dude, I am not asking. It's time to go." After a couple minutes of this, the door guy finally shoved him as far as the door and The Jackass was gone.

I wished like hell that somebody would beat The Jackass up, but not in the bar. I found out the next day from one of the other band guys that The Jackass got into a fight at a gas station after they left, because the person behind the counter would not sell him a hot dog that wasn't cooked yet.
I suggested to the Band Guy that The Jackass may want to avoid coc@ine in the future. He was clearly not just drunk on that particular night. Oh, and did I mention he was in costume? Dressed up like a cop.
Yep, can't wait to see him again.