September 28, 2004

Quelle Suprise

Psst --- I've a secret. C'mere.

I'm in America.

Yup. Massachusetts, to be exact. It was my grandparent's 50th Anniversary this weekend, and my aunt offered to fly me out as a surprise, since she has a million bajillion frequent flyer miles. I, of course, was all 'bout it. So I got here on Saturday for the party and skip out tomoorw back to the Emerald Isle.

I've got to say, I'd think it'd be weirder, coming back to the States so abruptly and briefly. But instead it's been unexpectedly normal --- I came straight from the airport to the my grandparents' house, where I found various of my aunts and uncles setting up in the back yard, and they were all like "Hey! It's so great to see you! Here, help me move this table." All day I kept getting double takes --- people would walk in and see me and not think anything of it, and then about ten seconds would go by and they'd start and go, "Wait a minute. Why are you in this hemisphere?" And that's pretty much how I feel about it, if you get my gist. Although it has been very nice to see everybody. I had dinner with my immediate family on Sunday, and then we all sat down and made fun of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The family that snarks together, stays together.

So, obvioulsy, I have no new Irish hijinks to relate. But I do have something entertaining to direct your attention to: Amira's Photo Blog

See, Amira just moved to Cairo. Pehaps soon she will post (or I will recieve permission to post) her evocative emails about that legendary ancient city, but for now you'll just have to settle for looking at the pictures and imagining yourself reclining on the cusions on the floor in your living room (whose thick walls and vaulted ceiling are built to absorb the searing desert air) listening to the bicker-bargining in the souk below while the mingled scent of spiced lamb and jasmine drifts into your nostrils, as I do. Or in other words, looking at the pictures and wishing you were as cool as Amira.

Speaking of which, another friend of mine, Melot, has been sending me emails from his travles in Asia with his girlfreind Isolde. Apparently he's stayed in a yurt, been to the Forbidden City, and learned how to give the finger in Chinese from a cabby.

Damn, my friends make me jealous.

Posted by Diablevert at 01:50 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

September 23, 2004

Sexual Harrassment Law and You. Or Rather, Me.

I had something else entirely planned for today’s post, but then something came up.

So the girl who I’m covering for at this temp gig is pretty clearly the office cut-up, the instigator, the one who cajoles everyone into wearing team jerseys for jersey day (a charity event) and chipping in for gifts and whatnot. She sent a postcard in to the office today from her holidays which was addressed to “Boss’s Name, Dick head” (He just shook his head, chuckled, and said she must have been pissed.)

And, it would seem, her friends are like this as well. See, they didn’t give me my own email address or anything for the brief span I’ll be here, so I’ve just been using hers. And so I get all her emails, almost all of it work stuff, couple mailing lists for football tickets and such. But also the group forwards of this one chick—and everyone has someone like this in their address books—who sends about three random, lewd, semi-amusing, and/or incredibly cheesy forwards a day. This one in particular’s speciality is GIFs and JPEGs of things like puppies piddling on computer keyboards (“#1 REASON TO BUY WARRENTY!!!”) and nine-month old infants wearing T-shirts that say, “I shit my pants and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.”

Today, though, she’s outdone herself. Today, I got an email entitled “X-RATED ART WORK-CAUTIONXXX,” and whereas in all her past the pictures have been attached to the email, in this one they’re pasted in. Dude. These pictures. I ….oh, man. I thought for a moment of pasting these here since they have got to be seen to be properly boggled at, but I think a couple of my younger cousins read this blog, and besides, I’m really pretty sure I don’t want the kind of traffic they’d bring me. Specifically—and if any of my younger cousins are reading this, you should stop now, or a least you should tell you parents you stopped now—the pictures depict a bunch of naked people on whom latex body paint has been applied to high-larious effect. Like the first one is a woman in a field, leaning over a tin milk jug, wearing nothing but a peculiarly tense expression and a layer of white body paint with amorphous black blotches. Cow-patterned. Everywhere except for her face, hands, and nipples.


The next one is—you know the smiley face with its tongue stuck out that AOL IM inserts if you do this: ;P ? Ok, imagine one of those wrapped around a woman’s torso like a slinky tube top, with the edge of the circle ending a couple inches above her bellybutton but the tongue extending…further. A lot further.


The rest of them are more like exercises in portraiture or tattoo art, which try to incorporate various of the primary and secondary sex characteristics of an adult human into the art in a trompe l’oeil fashion. All of which is a fancy way of describing a series of pictures painted onto people right about where the top button of your fly hits on a pair of low-rise Levi’s. Two are on women: A mama bird sitting on a branch, extending a worm down to three baby birds hungrily poking their heads out of a nest; and a portrait of Generic Willie Nelson, complete with the bandana headband and the soulful brown eyes and the full, greying beard. Two were on men: Screaming devil head sticking his tongue out Gene-Simmons style (except not his tongue, if you know what I mean); and a rather Babar-esque charging elephant.


Now, I like to consider myself fairly unflappable, open-minded sort of a gal, so naturally my first thought when I looked at this was, “Huh.” But my second thought was, “Oh, my god. If someone did this in the States they would be so fired. Oh, my god. Lookit tha—So fired. Fired, fired, fired.” In fact, in one of the cases I worked on back at Partner, Partner and Ampersand, the C.E.O. of a company had chosen to “reward” his hard-working IT staff during a particular late night crisis with a “porn break” a fact which became highly embarrassing to him during the pre-trial hearing. Heck, when I absentmindedly sent a few of the pictures down to the copy center among the other exhibits we were preparing, I was rewarded not ten minutes later with a visit from a blushing night copy manager asking if I could please warn him the next time I needed something like that copied because people were a little ahem…er…uh…and he didn’t want to offend anybody and could I just give him a heads up for the next time?

I don’t really have a conclusion for this, I mean, insert your own “Blahbitty-blee-blah-bling, cultural differences, appropriate/inappropriate, where’s the line between prudishness and a righteous ‘Eeeeeew!’” ect.

Elephant one was kinda funny, though.

Posted by Diablevert at 08:38 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

September 21, 2004

Good Morning

First of all, can I just say, I’m pretty sure this bagel I’m eating has baking powder in it. I can’t say it tastes bad, exactly, but it is, quite obviously, an abomination unto bagel, the spawn of some unholy union of bagel and biscuit[1], brought together at the instigation of a diseased mind. Or possibly someone who had had a bagel described to them, with illustrative diagrams, but had never, y’know, actually eaten one.

I’m sitting here at my fairly boring but not difficult temp gig, taking a break from picking wax off my jacket. I had a pint with this chick Natasha and her boyfriend Boris last night, and the table off behind my right shoulder was right toasted, animatedly conversing on a level far above the plain, comprehensible discourse of the rest of the room. Boris said they were Travellers. One of the women chose to punctuate a point she was making by taking the candle—wax, white, about six inches around, on fire—off the table and flinging it disdainfully over her shoulder, not at us, specifically, so much as at a cruel and callow universe as a whole, yet nevertheless, it hit the ground by my chair and sent a spray of molten wax up the back of my jacket before rolling into the corner. So that was folksy. Later they broke a couple pint glasses and got kicked out of the pub, but I can’t really give you juicy details, because a sort of hush had fallen over the pub and I had the distinct impression that my craning around to openly gawp at them would have been…injudicious.

Other than that it was really a lovely pub. I mean, from the above you’d get the impression that it was some skeevy dive, but aside from that one table everyone else seemed but mildly buzzed. The pub itself featured lots of worn wood and old magazines framed and hung on the wall and a trad session in the corner, the guitarist of which was sipping a glass of merlot.

One thing about this temp gig—the firewall they have at this place is hardcore. The woman I’m covering for took pity on me and let me have the secret password so’s I can go on the internet—otherwise all I’d have access to is the company website—but even with that they’re strict. I’ve been sitting here desulitorily poking the internet with a stick, to see which sites I can get to and which I can’t—NY Times, yes, Google, yes, email, no, a lot of the blogs I read, double plus no. But—yes, indeedy. So as I’m finding it so difficult to distract myself, and have more to tell you, but I think I’ll do ‘em as a series of short posts. Just cause.

Unless of course they make me do work. There have been some interruptions of that nature.

[1] Biscuit in the sense employed in the American South, of course, i.e., a savory scone served with meat and/or gravy, esp. at breakfast.

Posted by Diablevert at 07:35 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 19, 2004

From Our Far-Flung Correspondants

Dateline: Northampton, Mass.

This just in:

Sull: You know what is humorous?
Diablevert: What?
Sull: Remember the show Pete and Pete?
Diablevert: Yup.
Sull: Well, the younger Pete goes to Amherst College[1] and I was talking to this kid who met him because I guess he was playing in his band somewhere and he was wicked cool but then the kids asked him where his Penelope tattoo[2] was and he got really pissed off and walked away.

. . . .

Sull: I want to go to Amherst College and try to find him
Diablevert: What would you do?
Sull: I dunno. I won’t, really. It would just be cool.
Diablevert: Indeed.

[1] Editor's note: IMDB has Hampshire, not Amherst. Which may affect which Scooby-Doo character he is according to the famous analogy.
[2] Editor's note: Petunia, dude. Jesus.

Posted by Diablevert at 05:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

September 17, 2004

6 Billion people in this world

And often enough they're all stupid in the exact same way. That's why ya gotta love 'em.

I speak of this Reader Survey at It's a funny little site documenting the harmless pranks, odd paper-mache creatures, internet crusades and Mr. Wizard-esqe scientific inquiries of one Rob Cockerham. A couple days ago he asked readers of the site to fill in a short little survey, and the last question was "What question do people always ask when they learn of your occupation?" Reading all the answers people gave is an amusing glimpse of human nature...

Posted by Diablevert at 05:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 13, 2004

Happy Birthday, Dad

See? I didn't forget. Now we don't have to go through that whole, "Hello? Who is this? Daughter? I don't have a daughter. Well, I have one daughter who loves me, but I don't seem to recall...wait, something's drifting back to me, it takes time, you know, I'm so old and forgetful ---and unloved--- nowadays...." routine.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:29 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

September 10, 2004

Quick Update

Got a temp gig for the rest of the month, so that ought to keep the wolf digging through the takeout menus trying to decide if he wants Mexican or Chinese. The Illustrious is here --- well, not here, exactly, at the moment she’s trolling through the rain-dampened streets of Dublin with a lamp, looking for an honest landlord --- and I saw a blur streak through the apartment a couple days ago, about 5’ 10’, sort of grayish with light patches, which might have been DDK dropping by on his way to the play’s run in Cork. Oh, and my computer, it is broken. So very broken. The repair guy sat me down in a dim and quiet room and whispered phrases like “critical hard drive failure” and “cascading errors” and asked if I wanted to try and salvage the drive contents. This is especially sad, because in my brief moment of hope I had already arranged to get the cable modem hooked up, and my free trial has already begun. So very sad. I can see you all, out there, with your tiny violins. A little pity in a cold cruel world, that’s all I ask. Well, that and a new computer. Maybe I should get an amazon wishlist and put my hope in the kindness of strangers. Or get a webcam and place my trust in far stronger human impulses…

Posted by Diablevert at 02:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 04, 2004

There, I Posted. Happy Now?

Hmmmm....well, as I've done before when inspiration faltered, I turn now to usefulness. Here's a recipe for cheesy appetizer things that I made up when lacking an appetizer and presented with an array of leftover ingredients.

They don't have good name, though. Anyone reading this and inspired with an apropos eponym is encouraged to comment.

Herby-Cheesy Thingies
Makes, oh, I dunno, twenty or thirty or so. Depends how much filling you use.

1 Box filo dough, thoroughly defrosted.
1/2 stick of butter (4 tbls)
1 pryramidical cube goat cheese (about 6 oz.)
1 box cream cheese (8 oz.)
Fresh rosemary
Fresh thyme
Fresh cilantro
Salt, pepper

And a pastry brush.

For the filling:

Take thy pyramidical cube of goat cheese and thy cream cheese, and, well, cream them. You can do it by hand, but you'll probably want to use an electric beater, since we're talking about two white ingredients here and it can be hard to tell if they're thoroughly mixed. Which is important, because you don't want there to be big streaks of pure goat cheese or cream cheese in there. Don't go nuts with it, though we're not after fluffage (that is, we're not trying to beat a lot of air in there. It ain't a meringue.)

Next, take your herbs and chop finely a fair amount of each, say about an 1/8 of a cup. (2-3 tblsp.) I'm sorry I can't be more precise, but I'm one of those slap-dash, "Yeah, that looks like enough," type of cooks. I will say that, for me, enough is about

10 sprigs of fresh thyme (Strip the leaves off the stems)

2-3 sprigs of the big rosemary with the woody stems, or 3-4 of the younger, green-stemmed sort you often find in the fresh herbs containers in the supermarket. (Strip the leaves off the rosemary and mince 'em up a bit; you want them to be about the same size as the leaves of thyme. Oh, alright. A little bigger's okay. But you don't want people chomping down on a rosemary leaf the size of toothpick, here.)

A small, um, clump, of cilantro. Cilantro generally comes in big bunches; you're only going to need like, a twelfth of that. Just grab a smallish clump and mince so it's about the same size as the rosemary leaves; cilantro stems are quite tender, so you can just mince 'em up and leave them in.

At the end of all this --- which is taking about ten times longer to describe than it does to do --- you should have fairly equal amounts of each herb. Toss 'em in with the cheese, lightly season with a little salt and pepper, and mix through.

Important Note: Season to taste, of course, but be forewarned, baking really brings out the flavors of the herbs. If the filling seems a little bland while undone that's okay; adding a few more pinches of rosemary at this juncture can result in a filling that tastes like Pine Sol after baking. Trust me, I've done it.

For the wrappers:

Melt about a half a stick of butter.

Take your filo dough and unroll onto a baking sheet, making sure to cover with a damp cloth; that stuff dries out faster than a roof shingle in July.

Cut the filo dough in half, broadwise.

Now then, how many of y'all have made a fortuneteller? Guys, get your girlfriends to show you what I'm talking about if you were too busy playing paper football during your formative years to pick up this necessary skill. Actually, now that I think about it, making a paper football is the necessary skill.

Take one of the half-sheets of filo dough and fold it over along the diagonal, as if starting to make a fortuneteller. Since the sheets are rectagles, you'll be left with a little excess along one side. You can trim this off, or if lazy like myself can just fold this over onto the pretty little triangle you've made. Take this first triangle and brush melted butter on one half of it; fold the dry side onto the buttered side and you've got triangle two. Take your pastry brush and sweep butter halfway along the long edge of triangle two and all along one short side; in the center of the butter-edged dough place a spoonful of filling. Fold up the dry side of the triangle and seal. Viola, triangle three. Dab a little butter into the center of this third triangle and fold in the outer corners; it saves then from burning. Place the filo purse you've made corner side down on a lightly greased baking tray. Bake for 14-20 minutes at 375 Fareheit (210 Celcius), or until golden brown. (You could do an eggwash if you wanted. )

That's it.

Well, then you eat them. But after that that's it.

Posted by Diablevert at 01:47 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 02, 2004


From a text log between Strunk and myself:

Diablevert: I'm sitting in a pub off George's street listening to an Irishmen at the next table explain how McSorely's is the best pub he's ever been in.

Strunk: Are you going to engage him on that one? ('Cause it's touristy....)

Diablevert: It'd be rude, he's macking on a girl. Besides, he admitted as much about the tourists, but the cobwebs won him over.

Strunk: Well, she should be warned...and when did cobwebyness become a way to judge bar quality?

Diablevert: Well, I think the gist was that decades old cobwebs suggest a sort of anti-corporate ethos, tourists or no.

Strunk: Is the anti-corporate pick-up line working? I've never tried that so I figure it would be nice to know.

Diablevert: They've moved on to the subject of jealous ex-boyfriends, so you tell me.

Strunk: Shot down!


Strunk: Glad I know now before I made a foolish move.

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