Tuesday, October 30, 2007

we're creepy and we're kooky, we're altogether ooky

We perch on the eve of our first Halloween in Lincoln Park.

If all the decorations didn't tell us that the neighborhood takes the holiday verrrrrrry seriously, our neighbors certainly have. One by one, everyone within a three-house radius has stopped by to warn us to get a lot of candy. No, a LOT. They gesticulate wildly and imitate backing a skip-loader of Mallomars into the driveway.

So, K and I headed down to the 99¢ store to load up on moral decrepitude in edible form. We had a houseguest this weekend who Does Not Approve of candy, and I feel a little guilty about being party to the porkery that is about to ensue. But no way am I going to be one of those killjoys who hands out shiny new pencils (ugh).

Did anyone read the article in yesterday's LAT, in which they interviewed a bunch of professional experts about Halloween? I particularly liked the several who said that with their own kids, they let the little darlings pick out three favorite pieces of candy and then they give the rest away. For one thing, how sadistic. And for another, if candy is so terrible, isn't giving it away even more unethical? If they had the courage of their convictions, they would burn it, in a grand rite (perhaps in the center of Lincoln Park!), wearing appropriate ceremonial garb.

No, it seems obvious that if Halloween has any purpose at all, it is as a reversal holiday, where the lowest on the totem pole spend a day pranking[1] those at the top, like Kalends for the Romans or England's Feast of Fools. It's not a big reversal for the kids so much as it is for the parental control systems: kids may gorge on candy all through the year, but on Halloween, it's with permission. And we all know that kids have a high tolerance for the scary and the gross -- higher than adults' tolerance by far -- but on Halloween, parents allow the love of the ooky to show itself.

Oh yeah, about the 99¢ stores: We checked out both the one on Foothill (between Towne and Garey) and the one at the corner of Towne and Arrow, and I'm here to report that the latter outstrips the former by several furlongs. At the Foothill store, we only found one bag of acceptable candy whose expiration date was in the future -- and given the hygroscopic, bacteria-inhibiting nature of sugar, that's gotta be a really bad sign. The T&A store also had a much larger selection. And most of all, it had cheerful employees in costume, including a long-haired kid dressed up as Jesus. We saw him walking across the parking lot, heading to the Golden Ox, as we pulled in, and when he saw me grinning, he grinned back and gave me the Sign of Peace.

We have not gone all out with the decorations (which is an understatement). Next year we may concoct a mad-scientist theme, but this year we're making do with two pumpkins (one of which will have a hatchet planted in its noggin, so say hello if you're on our street). And friends are coming over to hang out and help hand out candy from the skip-loader in our driveway, so a fun time should be had by all.

Now, sing along with me:
Our house is a museum
Where people come to see 'em

We really are a scree-am

The L.P. families.

So put a witch's shawl on,

A broomstick you can crawl on,

They're gonna pay a call on

The L.P. families.

[1] Yes, I used "prank" as a verb! That shows that I'm keeping my head in touch with America's youth! Suck it, Fowler!

Monday, October 22, 2007

smoke gets in your skies

I don't know which fire it's coming from, but the sunlight this morning has definitely got that weird smoky cast. It's almost apocalyptic feeling. Beware of vampires!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

everybody was kung-fu fighting

As I have blogged extensively on my non-Pomona blog, we got a cat about five weeks ago. We've been holding off on getting a cat for, oh, about 16 years now, due to schedules, travel plans, and landlord preferences, but now that we own our home, it was time. We named him Voiceover.

Our block of Lincoln Park is extremely catty. Just within two houses in any direction, there are 12 cats, all but one of them indoor-outdoor cats. And that's not even counting Wombat and the kittens (who still need homes, people!).

Needless to say, with that many cats, there will be some catfights. Voiceover has done a pretty good job of asserting his property rights over a piece of land that had been treated as communal property for so long, but he does have a nemesis, Wheezer (whom I called Condi, for her imperialist tendencies until I learned her name).

Wheezer wasn't interested in our porch when no cat lived here, but once it was claimed, she just HAD to make it hers. Consequently, there are several set-tos per day.

In one of them, about three weeks ago, Voiceover sustained a respectable puncture wound in the head, which got all abscessed and made his poor head swell up like a gourd. You can imagine the consequences: vet, surgery, plastic clown collar, indoor life, unhappy cat.

He's now all better and back on his normal rotation -- of egress and ingress, but also of tangling with Wheezer. I've taken to dashing outside and squirting them both whenever they fight, but does anyone have any other suggestions for pacifying Catlandia? Keeping Voiceover inside isn't really an option; he's not much fun when he's criminally insane.

Friday, October 19, 2007

OSH kibosh, by gosh

Can I just say, I LOATHE Orchard Supply Hardware. Actually, I don't loathe OSH; I just loathe the one on Foothill and White. When we lived in the Yay Area, OSH was our hardware store of choice, at least if the little local joint didn't have what we were looking for. It was a big-box store, but at least it was a regional chain.

I'm generally opposed to shopping at big-box stores. There are only a few things I buy at Von's/Albertson's/Stater Bro's; most of our food comes from farmer's markets and ethnic groceries, plus some TJ's action thrown in. That goes double for hardware stores. For one thing, I had various dealings with both Arthur Blank and Bernie Marcus when we lived in Atlanta, and there is no way in the world I'm shopping at Home Despot.

Lowe's, too, got no love from me, but the final straw at OSH (when a 17-year-old cretin kept screwing up the keys he was duplicating for me and then insisted that he was supposed to charge me for all his fuck-ups -- $17's worth) drove me through their big blue doors.

And OMG, it's a paradise by comparison. I don't know how they manage it, but every employee seems to know both the name and location of every tiny frob and widget in the whole hangar. Whereas an assistant manager at OSH had never heard of crown molding and didn't know where picture-hanging equipment was, K. walked up to a young employee at Lowe's in the barbecue grill section, held up a broken piece of plastic from our sprinkler system, and was told "Aisle 4, on the right, about 10 feet down." Another time, a Lowe's worker assured me that I didn't need a new tool and that our superbar would work just fine (and he was right).

All of which is to say, C&E Lumber on Towne is a pretty cool place, but they've got some stiff competition.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


We had houseguests from the UK this past week, and before they set off in their rental car up through the Mojave, we thought we should stoke them up with a good Mexican breakfast. (Don't bother with jokes about fuel efficiency and gas-powered vehicles -- we already made 'em all.)

Pomona has several options, of course. Guasalmex, unfortunately, doesn't open until 11am on saturdays, so that was right out. K. turns up his nose at Casa Jimenez, although I'm pretty fond of the place (except for the margaritas -- they truly blow).

While I was walking back from downtown with our visitors, we stopped by El Molcajete, which is the new name of the place on Palomares and Holt that I always thought of as Osama (it was really Osana). It looks pretty good, and the breakfast menu had a number of tasty-looking offerings. What time do you open on saturdays? Eight am. Exxxxcellent!

Saturday morning we got up and moseyed down to El Molcajete, only to find it shut up tight. After enough door-rattling, we got someone to pantomime to us that they didn't open till 10am. Doh!

In the event, we ended up at El Merendero, the new location of which we hadn't tried yet. Three of us got eggs 'n' chorizo, and one had Mexican eggs (a scramble with peppers, tomatoes, and onions). Everything was good, although I like Casa Jimenez's huevos con chorizo slightly better. And the selection was definitely slim, compared with the rich offerings of both CJ and El Molcajete. But our guests were amused by folks coming in bearing pots from home, to fill with caldo de rez to go, which I've never seen at Casa Jimenez. (I'm fairly sure they weren't getting menudo, because the sign said "No menudo until 11am.")

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

High-Tech Portable Solar Clothing Dehydrator

Alas, I'm not quite ready to convert the house over to my dream of an all-solar existence, with power and hot-water heating and all the rest (I suspect I'd have some hoops to jump through to get this past the historic district folks here, anyway), but I at least took one small step.

I'm delighted with my little clothes line[*] -- my clothes feel so much better when they've been hung to dry, and I love the idea of saving a little energy. On a hot day, it's almost faster to hang the clothes than put them in the drier. Sure, it takes a couple more minutes, but it is definitely worth it.

I actually spent a fair amount of energy looking for a retractable clothes line in the retail stores around here, but finally had to order it on-line. WTF? Where are the environmentalists? Where are the folks who need to get the clothes line out of their back yard for parties? Bizarre.

At least I don't have to worry about being told I can't have a clothes line at all.

[*] I'm slightly less delighted with the brown grass in the picture, but that's a different rant...