Jeopardy gets salacious

Sarah has a link to this great video.



I love this video of a TV judge hiding under her desk while they were filming during the earthquake.

By the way, Joderama reported to me that she is safe.  ;)



Northern Lights

Scientists have finally figured out what makes the Northern Lights light.  Check out this beautiful photo with the article.


Big Blue

I just took these photos of Eli Manning strolling on our block an hour ago, presumably with his wife.  (Here they are in a celeb photo, for comparison.)  Not sure if it's her, but probably.

I would have taken more photos, but the Hubby stopped me from stalking them.  Hubby is more polite than I am.  I guess he's right.  Still, duty called!  I had to give my audience of 16-27 regular readers a celebrity sighting.

I should have invited the Mannings upstairs to discuss newlywed life and all.



Hubby took me here on Saturday night.  Those crabs were juicy!!

I loved the design of these jeans, but they didn't necessarily do anything for me.  So I took 'em back.  

And those are my random photos of the day.



This British girl likes to post photos of herself in different outfits.  Apparently she used to do it every day, but was getting nasty comments so she deleted the whole thing.  Then she started again.  I dunno, it's kind of cute.

There may be a tropical storm off-shore on Monday.  Here's the map.


Info for writers

I. Short story contest

Of the 16-27 remaining individuals who read this blog every day (these are the actual numbers), I'm not sure how many writers are left. But here is what looks like a pretty good short-story writing contest. If you've published a book, you can't enter, so I'm out. Otherwise I woulda entered. It's $20 per entry, but the prize is $1,500, and it's legitimate.


II. Reviewing the reviewers

The New York Observer takes a snarky tone and displays some of the "credentials" for Publishers' Weekly reviewers. At one point, they look at someone's internet profile, where it says he's a professional procrastinator. (Hey, it's a joke!) The PW review is often the first one a book gets, and is quite influential. Mine is up on Amazon where my book is available (or used to be available) for purchase.

III. Revising

I did send the first chapter of a novel to a grant competition that ended this week. Even though I only had to submit 15 pages, I kept revising and revising. At one point, I realized that the chapter had a better tone in an earlier version, and I found the earlier version realized it was perfectly fine.

I have to stop revising beginnings of things so much. I want them to be perfect, but sometimes I get tired of them and add a bunch of new stuff I really don't need to add. And then I realize that it was fine months ago, before I tampered with it. Well, that's my lesson of the day.

Anyway, have a great weekend. TGIF!



I was outside before, and a woman about my age was walking her white pIt bull-like dog. All of a sudden, the woman tripped and fell. The dog leaned over and gave the woman's face a lick, then sat down next to her and started panting.

The woman got up and was fine, but I think it's cute that when she fell, her dog gave her a kiss.



I've been getting back-to-campus circulars the mail from stores, and I've also seen ads for back to school sales on TV. Summer only officially started less than a month ago. Can't we get a break?

That said, last night, it was cool and crisp, and as the sun was going down, shining a fading orangey light on the treetops, I got a glimpse of fall weather. And that was nice too.

But each season gets its due. There's plenty of summer left.


Obnoxious t-shirt of the week

Spotted this evening at a Brooklyn Cyclones game...a guy wearing a t-shirt with Mountain Dew colors and typeface, only it said,

"Mount and
Do Me."

Update: Hubby has located the source of this fashion monstrosity.
Update II: I actually saw a different Spenser's shirt last week at the Vermont Lake Monsters game. It was this charming one, worn on a guy in his late teens or early twenties.
Stay classy.


Roommates I have had

Right after college, I moved to a town that was just across the river from the Big City.

I was hoping for a writing or publishing job.  Most of the people I knew from college were scattered around the country, and I was fairly lonely.  I didn’t have anyone to apartment-hunt with, but I couldn’t afford to rent my own place.

So I decided I would find a two-bedroom apartment myself, and then I’d find a suitable roommate through the local classifieds.  That way, I'd be picking the person.  I had enough money for the full deposit and the first month’s rent, so that was fine.

I found a great big two-bedroom apartment and put an ad in the local classifieds looking for a “young professional” female roommate in her twenties or thirties who was employed full-time and didn’t smoke.

In the years following that, I went through six or seven roommates, all of whom were -- like me -- moving near The Big City and needed a cheap place before they made enough money to actually live IN the City.

With the exception of one roommate, none of the others really became “friends” with me.  I guess that’s because I went out of my way to find roommates who wouldn’t be around all the time.   If a girl was going to spend most of her time at her boyfriend’s place and wouldn’t be in my place a lot, THAT was who I wanted as a roommate. Gave me more privacy.

The one roomie I became friends with was someone who coincidentally had graduated from Penn a year after me with an English degree, but I’d never met her while at Penn.  Coincidentally, she just happened to come see my room for rent.  She also knew some of the people I did.  I’m still friends with her today. (She occasionally reads this blog, so if you’re reading this, hi, A!)

Anyway, that’s it for lasting friendships with roomies. Trying to find one who’d become a friend didn’t seem that important, because there was really no way of telling, so all I wanted was someone responsible who wouldn’t stiff me on the rent.

Here are some of the memorable ones.

Roommate I, “Karen”

The first roomate I got was a girl named Karen who was my age, 22, and was in some ways even more innocent than I was.

Karen had gone to a small Catholic college in upstate NY.  She also had a job up there until she got transferred down to The City. Her college boyfriend still lived up there. They’d never had sex, but they had slept in the same bed. They were waiting for marriage to “do it.” She also had never gone to a gynecologist appointment, and was making one in our town for the first time, and she asked me for advice. She wanted to know if the checkup hurt a lot.

Wow – at least I had seen a gyno before. I was very innocent for 22, and I was always surprised to meet someone who was more innocent than I was.  It pleased me to know I wasn’t alone.

Anyway, she made the gyno appointment with the doctor I recommended down the street. But she came home and told me that after waiting for an hour in the gyno’s office, she had chickened out and left.

Eventually, one of Karen’s friends from Albany, Kate, moved down here. Kate’s college boyfriend, “Dave,” had recently told her that even though he wanted to marry her someday, he wanted to temporarily date a few other people before settling down. She was distraught.  She broke up with him and got a job transfer down to The City.  She needed to get away from the situation for a while, and from Dave.

Karen and Kate wanted to get an apartment together. They invited me to live with them. But I decided to stay in my own place. Once something is working, no sense giving it up.

They invited me to see their new place one time. It was further downtown and pretty nice -- cozy, with lots of throw pillows and rugs and soft lighting.   I hung out with them once or twice, but that was it. I don’t know where they are today.

Roommate II, “Jeanine”

“Jeanine” was also around my age.  She lived in Florida and moved up to this area because of a job transfer. She also had just broken up with her boyfriend in Florida, who, she said, had a slight drug problem, even though “Jeanine” was pretty straight-laced herself.

Jeanine had never lived up north before, nor had she spent any time here.   It snowed one time, and she looked outside our window at her car. She actually didn’t know how you were supposed to get the snow off. Waving her hands in the air frantically, she looked at me and said, “What do you do?!?” I had an ice scraper and I showed her how to use it.

The other thing I remember about Jeanine was that she told me a funny story about her first night in college. She said that her first night, her roommate hadn’t moved in yet, so she was alone in the room. She saw a huge roach in the room and then it ran somewhere. That night, she went to sleep alone on the top bunk. While she was sleeping, she had a dream that the roach was on top of her. She fell out of the bunk, onto the floor.  On the floor, she started crying and was like, “I wanna go hooooooome.”

Anyway, Jeanine didn't last long up here near The Big City.  After maybe three or four months up here, she decided she liked Florida better, and moved back.

Roommate III, “Melanie”

I actually wrote a whole essay about Melanie once. She is memorable because of the sheer number and variety of boyfriends she had while she lived here. There’s a reason for it, too, which I’ll explain later.

When she came to look at my apartment, she was just in town for a few days visiting from Colorado -- but in a month, she would be starting a new job in The Big City, so she needed to find a place. She’d seen a lot of places so far that hadn’t worked out. Mine was the last place she looked at, so she was very eager to get it squared away before heading back to Colorado.

She said she really liked me. She said I reminded her of her best friend back home in Colorado.  She also said she'd write me a check then and there if I accepted her as a roommate.

So I agreed to let her have the room, and she wrote me a check.  A month later, she moved in.

Melanie took the city by storm. She knew one girl here, Tiffany, a girl with a blond bob. Tiffany went out to bars in The Big City every single night.  Melanie went with her every night, even though Melanie kept telling me how tiring it was and how she really wanted to spend a night in

A few times, Melanie told me that on an upcoming weekend, she was going to stay inside for the whole weekend and lay low and finally get some rest.   Then…her phone would ring, it would be Tiffany, and she’d disappear. I think she was afraid of missing out on something. Or…someone.

A lot of guys liked Melanie.  She was attractive but not intimidatingly. She developed a pattern: She’d meet a guy, go on three dates with him, and on the third date, she wouldn’t come home that night.

But soon after, she’d break up with the guy for one reason or another, and move on to the next.

Melanie wasn’t a slut. She actually just wanted to find a serious boyfriend, so she looked around a lot. But she’d get scared if things got too serious too soon. On the third date, she’d sleep with them, and then usually, it didn’t last much longer than that.

One guy she dated, Patrick, was a tall blonde bartender. She decided he was too polite and serious for her. There was also “Sami,” a Mexican guy who didn’t speak any English. She didn’t speak any Spanish. But she told me they communicated by pantomiming.

There was a reason for all this dating. Back in Colorado, she’d dated one guy for all four years of college. They assumed they’d get married someday. Everyone told her that she had no way of knowing if he was “The One” if he was the only person in her life that she dated.

She decided that maybe all these people were right.  So she broke up with him.

A few months later, she realized she’d made a mistake. But by then, he was dating someone else. Eventually he got engaged to his new girlfriend.

So now, Melanie was alone. She and I were both 24 when we lived together, and she’d tell me how she would see guys in the street who were our age, and they’d be toting children around. She was worried that everyone else was passing her by.

Of course, 24 seems so young now, but I think that no matter what age you are, you always fear that you’re going to miss out on meeting the person you’re meant to spend the rest of your life with if you don’t hurry up.  Whatever age you are, you usually think it's the right time.  It always seems like everyone around you is coupling up. Heck, I felt that way in college.

I certainly felt that way at 24, even though I can look back and see how young that was, and how there were still plenty of single people in their late 20s and 30s. But it seemed at the time that everyone was finding someone.

Also keep in mind that in the early 1990s, when I graduated, no one had internet access, so most of our lives were still tied to the people we knew in college.  That was still our only social network, unless you still talked to people from high school.  School was the place where we’d gotten to know people deeply. Now we were forced to look for new friends, and people to date, in the big city.  But how to really get to know someone?

One day, I heard Melanie on the phone with one of her brothers. She was saying that the night before, she had had a dream about her college boyfriend. It was very realistic.  She said that it seemed as though he was right there next to her.  “I could see him; I could smell him,” she said.

After she got off the phone with her brother, she decided she’d call the guy up just to find out if he was still engaged.  She instead got ahold of his sister, who said that he was. The wedding was to be in October, just a few months from then.

“Well, just tell him that Melanie called to wish him luck,” she said. Then she hung up the phone and cried.

Was it too late for Melanie to find love? Had she given up her only chance?

Like many of my roommates, eventually Melanie moved to the Big City. She moved into an apartment with Tiffany, of course. A few years ago, I Googled her, and she is married some German guy and lives in Germany now.

Roommate IV, “Pam”

Pam was a stewardess. They are good roommates because every other day, they are gone for the day and night.  Sometimes they are gone for longer. Of course, there are also days in which they are home for 24 hours straight, but I was willing to deal with the tradeoff.

Pam was from Tennessee. There are two main things I remember about her. One is that her brother and father hunted, and one time she brought back venison and kept it in the freezer. She made a stew. I had some, and I just tasted like beef stew.

The other thing was that the movie “Eight Mile” came out, and she asked me if I wanted to go see it with her and her friends. I was surprised, because she was a tiny Southern girl and I didn’t think she’d be into Eminem, but she said she found him funny.

When we all went to the movie, she had to wear her Continental uniform because she had to go to work right after. Her friends kept teasing her about it. One guy asked her, “Hey, Pam, where are the exits?” She responded, “The nearest one may be right behind you.”

Eventually Continental laid a bunch of people off, including Pam. She went home to Tennessee. She had also been “talking to” a friend of her brother's who lived down there, so she was forseeing a possible relationship.

Other roomies

The other ones were not very memorable. I should note that I never really had a problem with roommates.  I figured out how to screen them well. Making sure they had a full-time job was key. Also, one time, a 19-year-old showed up with her parents to look at my place.  She was definitely a no-no. Her mom kept mentioning all the friends she could have over.

What I think shows up in a lot of these stories is this: Most of them moved on, and I stayed here.  

They generally left because of one of two reasons: They’d either saved enough money to finally live in The Big City, or they moved in with their boyfriend/got engaged.

And yes, I stayed in my quaint apartment. I never saw the need to live right in The City. The City is expensive, offered less space, and well, to paraphrase Billy Joel, moving out isn’t necessarily moving up. It’s a great place to visit, but I had no need to live there. I had a good apartment I was comfortable in. Why mess that up?

I was fairly alone in my twenties.  My college friends lived elsewhere, there was no internet to meet people, and I wasn't into the bar scene.  My co-workers were in their forties and married.  So I guess if I'd moved with Karen and Kate to a three-bedroom, I might have become closer with them and gotten out more.  But I don't know, I just didn't want to take risks.

Ending the streak

My string of roommates ended when I finally sold a novel. Rather than spend the money on a car or a vacation or something else, I decided to pay the whole rent from now on, and stop having roommates.

It would increase my happiness a hundred-fold if I could walk across the apartment any time I wanted, listen to the radio late at night, or waltz around in my underwear. 

Several years later, I did finally get engaged.  

My hubby is my roommate now, and he’s by far the best roommate I've had.   And...definitely the cutest.



Okay, so I've posted all these photos...and nothing of what we ATE! Particularly at Ben & Jerry's. Well, I was too busy eating my cookie-cookie sundae with hot fudge, rainbow sprinkles, and triple caramel chunk ice cream to take a picture.

I hardly ever eat ice cream, but sometimes ya gotta treat yaself.

And no, I didn't end up gaining weight. I guess the 1.5-plus miles we walked uphill from Lake Champlain back to the hotel the night before may have helped. (Owwww.) So, I got out of this one okay.

Manhattan solstice tomorrow?

The next "Manhattanhenge" is supposed to be around July 12 or 13, so if you liked my pics from last time and want to take some of your own, then go to NYC around 14th Street, or other wide streets, at sundown. We won't be going - the pics I took last time were enough, and the sun is blinding. Ouch!!! If you go, definitely bring shades.



Might as well post more photos from our trip.

I must again compliment the Hubby on his excellent driving...even deftly maintaining patience when the occasional farm tractor pulled in front of us at 5 m.p.h.  (It even happened a few times on Sunday - what's that about?)


MOOSE, next mile

Some trip highlights I forgot to mention:

1.  We saw some "Moose crossing" signs.  I'd never seen those before!  So that was neat.  Didn't see any moose, though.  (That's probably for the best...hubby said if we'd crashed into one, we coulda been goners.)

2.  We also saw a hand-painted sign saying there was going to be a "coon shoot" for charity.  Neither of us signed up.

3.  On the way up, the Capitol Steps, a D.C. parody troupe, was on the local public radio station.  From what I just read on their website, they play their newest album on public radio on four holidays per year, including July 4.  So I guess we stumbled onto a special treat!  

Some of the song parodies weren't that hot.  Our friend TAB could do much better.  But there was a song about corporate sponsorship of U.S. states (Tex-Lax, Oklahome Depot) that was pretty good.  You can listen to the songs on their homepage.

we did see some cows, though



This weekend, we went up to Vermont.  It was sunny all three days.  

We saw the Vermont Lake Monsters single-A minor league baseball team play.  We also walked along Lake Champlain, and toured the Ben & Jerry's factory.  And of course, we ate stuff with maple in and on it.

My hubby told me that each Ben & Jerry's factory employee gets THREE pints to take home for each day they work. What do they do with all those pints?  And where do they put them all? 
We asked two of the people at the factory. One kid says he gives them to friends. A girl said she's never taken it home. Wise idea. It would be hard to resist.  Hubby read somewhere that some of the employees barter the ice cream for other things (presumably before it melts!)

Anyway, at the end of the tour, they gave away samples of ice cream.  The flavor of the day to give out was a new flavor for 2008, seven layer coconut.  But I wanted my all-time favorite, Triple Caramel Chunk, which is delicious.  So later I got a sundae.

It was a great weekend trip and I thank the hubby for all the driving, including some country roads that allowed for the beautiful sights below.

Houses and flowers
Scenes from the road

Lake Champlain

The Hubby and me near the lake (betcha didn't know we were so tall!)

(By the way, I must take time out to congratulate SARAH on her engagement!!)

(Also, I still don't know who the mystery woman from the previous post is. Someone suggested it might be a contestant from Rock of Love, but someone else disputed this. Hmmmm!)


Who's that girl?

She was on the PATH train and some guys were telling her, "You look great, better than on TV." And one had his picture taken with her. 

It's the blonde girl on the right, in the black Ed Hardy shirt.

My guess is that she's from some reality show. Anyone know who she is?? E-mail me if ya do.


I got this response from Wes
(check out his very artistic blog, by the way):

Your assessment of the Baltimore Inner Harbor is WRONG!

Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to commenting on your libel of the Baltimore Inner Harbor! Yes, you're right that there's not a ton to the Inner Harbor *itself*, but there's enough going on in the area that you could easily vacation there for a week or more and not run out of things to do.
In addition to the handful of museums and educational attractions (the nerdy will particularly enjoy the MD Science Center and Geppi's Entertainment Museum), restaurants, and other noteworthy sights around the harbor and in downtown Baltimore, the Light Rail will take you to a number of locations throughout the state. Malls, oversized supermarkets, fairs, horse racing, zany LARP sessions where moderately successful businesspeople and engineers dress up in straitjackets and pretend to be retarded, drooling vampires (seriously, though admittedly I don't find these to be verymuch fun at all) -- they're all accessible via the rail.
Not to mention that Baltimore is a quick train ride away from DC, so you've pretty much got all of the sights and sounds of the Capitol available to you as well. So there.
But then, you would have known all this if you'd told me you were coming! The opportunity to catch up with me, after all, is the best reason to visit the Inner Harbor. ;)

My response:

Awww, Wes, the last line is so poignant. And as a New Jerseyan, I respect your willingness to defend the honor of your maligned homeland.

Actually, I haven't been to the Inner Harbor in a few years. But I must say, my indictment was indeed of the Harbor itself. Yes, I'm sure you're right that you can get to all kinds of great things via the light rail - but the fact is, the Harbor itself is a bit boring. The shopping, eating, and gawking are good for a day and that's it. (You can walk to a baseball stadium, though, if you're into that.)

I do believe that it might be a nice starting point for vising other things, so I'll give you that. I'm sure it's a great area to live in.

Anyway, I wish everyone a happy weekend, even if you're going camping or to the Inner Harbor.


Emily makes money

Remember I linked to blogger Emily Gould's front page NY Times piece?

Gawker reports:

"Emily Gould, the former Gawker editor, NYT Magazine covergirl, and admitted oversharer has sold her memoir, And the Heart Says... Whatever (organized by her tattoos!), for something in the "low six figures." Publishers Weekly says it'll "weave a picture of what it’s like to be a young person in New York City in the early 2000s through a series of 'honest, searching and wry' recollections." Galleycat thinks the figure was something around $350,000—a very high price, yet much more realistic than the earlier-rumored $1 mil. Bought by Free Press in a pre-empt, it'll be out around 2010. (There will be new Gawker editors to cover the inevitable leaked excerpts by that time.) "

For all the names she got called, the $350,000 will hopefully ease the suffering. I just don't think it's worth it.
More blog responses

Dave adds:

"Also, if it seems I'm over the top by suggesting that Verizon pulls this shit by design, remember that one of the problems in using their customer service is excessive phone times, and losing the call during the transfer!! It's a phone company, so obviously that can be avoided. Ticketmaster isn't as bad, for example."

And a friend says coffee isn't so bad by linking to this Harvard article:


Update: The Anonymous Blogger blogged about his five things that are overrated. (I have to disagree about rock concerts. They are UNDERrated!)


If I forget to say it before this weekend, everyone have a happy 4th!!!


Things that aren't as good as the idea of them seems to be

David Foster Wallace wrote an essay in the '90s called "A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again" about taking a cruise.   Although the cruise was supposed to be fun, to him it really wasn't.

I've been mentally compiling a list of things that SEEM a lot better than they actually are. Here are some I've thought of:

1.  Camping -  I love the idea of being under an open sky, getting close to nature, being resourceful enough to live with the basics, and cooking over a fire.  But after a few days of being bitten by bugs, and worse, not having a really good, clean place to take a shower, I tend to feel dirty.  Also, tents start to get stuffy.  So the whole idea always outstrips the reality. 

Last year, the Hubby and I were in a hotel that overlooked a place where some Boy Scouts were having an overnight.  They were camping on a baseball field.  Anyway, at 6 a.m. the next morning, most of the dads were packing up the tents to go.  I could just imagine that for weeks and weeks, the boys and dads were so excited about their first camping overnight and couldn't wait for it.  And then it came, and one or both parties couldn't wait to go home and get some real sleep.

2.  Funnel cake - Those warm doughy fumes pervade any amusement park, luring you nosefirst.  But they smell better than they taste.  Because it's just thin dough with sugar.  It's tastes decent, but it smells divine.

3.  Baltimore's Inner Harbor - Fun for a day or maybe two days.  But really, beyond that, what is there to do?  Shopping can't last three days.  Not really a place you can vacation for a long time.

4.  Coffee.  Smells delicious.  And you hear people extolling the value of a "good cup of coffee."  But it tastes sour to me.  I can drink it with a lot of skim milk and sugar, but then it's really milk with some coffee flavoring.  Anyway, it's so bad for your health that I guess I'm lucky I never got into it.

5.  Hmmm, I think I've had other ideas in the past, but now I can't remember 'em.

Anyway, even though I'm sounding sarcastic, I could still enjoy some of these things (with the exception of the coffee) and find the good in them.  The point of this is not at all that these are bad things.  It's just that the IDEA of them sounds way better than they often turn out to be.

I bet you've got your own list, eh?  Feel free to blog about it.