doctor’s orders

Dear Dr. Pepper,

Thanks for your recent advertising campaign letting the world know that Dr. Pepper 10 is “not for women.” Without that warning, I might have spent money on your product. Phew, that was a close call!

But now I know that Dr. Pepper doesn’t want my money, for this product or for any other.

That’s obvious, right? If you discourage women from trying your (putatively) more robust, flavorful product, then you must think that women only want insipid, flavorless drinks. Therefore, I assume that any product you market toward women is inferior; I’ll make sure to actively avoid all of your drinks! Thanks for the warning!

Seriously, y’all: I understand the marketing trend to avoid associating low-calorie drinks with “diets.” I understand that, in a sexist society that demands eternal body consciousness from women, the label “diet” feminizes a product (and puts you at risk of missing out on the vast male market). But this attempt to attract men by subtly denigrating women is both silly and not-so-subtly misogynistic.

I hope your future marketing doesn’t rely upon gendered insults. Until then, my household (which until today went through several bottles of Dr. Pepper weekly, between me and my husband) will switch to some other, less gender-labeled brand of soda. Thanks for the heads-up!



new baby smell

Picking up a gift for an upcoming baby shower, The Fella and I spent an hour wandering the aisles of the local megastore (where the expectant parents registered), alternately cooing at tiny socks and cursing the shop’s Byzantine organizational system. [Author’s note: I just wrote and cut, wrote and cut, wrote and cut some descriptions of the difficulties posed by just trying to buy the specified goddamned adorable towels and socks. You can well imagine.]

As we walked up and down and all around the aisles, I had ample time to notice the wafting fragrance of Fresh New Baby throughout the store, which I assumed came from some of the baby-care goods: salves and powders and unguents. Absently, I noted that the scent came in waves: sometimes subtle, sometimes strong, sometimes unpleasantly potent.

And then I looked up.

The megastore has large vents for air circulation. The vents pump air through the warehouse-sized space.

And anytime we stood under a vent, the baby smell became very strong indeed — oppressively so, even. As we moved away from a vent, the scent diminished, then began to grow again as we approached another ceiling vent.

I’ve done a little cursory online searching with no corroborating result, but I’m reasonably sure that my conclusion is correct: the baby megastore pumps the air full of artificial baby smell.

If any readers have occasion to visit their local baby megastore, I’d love some independent verification on this.

Mac happy

I got my copy of Snow Leopard* this afternoon and installed it immediately. I haven’t noticed a huge difference except one that makes it all worthwhile and if you’re a photo bug, you might like as well: when in icon view in the finder you can now resize your thumbnails up to 512 x 512 which is wonderful beyond belief. Of course it helps having a 30-inch monitor.

* It’s the new operating system for Mac just in case you haven’t heard… There might be two of you and now you know. My good deed for the day is done.

iPod Touch: the shortcomings

On a drive with Gaoo and Airdna, a conversation:

E: [indicating A’s iPod Touch] Hey, what all can you do on that thing?
A: …
E: Okay, what can’t you do on it?
A: Well, you can type, but you can’t really write — like, you couldn’t write a paper on it.
E: Uh-huh.
A: And it can’t, um. [thinks a moment, realizes it does pretty much everything else] It won’t bake things.
E: Man, what a rip.
G: [preoccupied with driving a large, unfamiliar, and stall-prone truck] What?
A; Like, brownies or…
E: … cookies or a torte. Really, there’s not an app for that?
A; [shaking head desolately] Not yet.

real thing

coke taste test.JPG
blind tasting: HFCS Coca-Cola and kosher-for-Passover Coca-Cola

During Passover, many markets stock a quantity of Coca-Cola suitable for Passover consumption. This means no corn, which means no HFCS; this batch of Coke is made with sugar! Sugar sugar sugar!

The Fella crooked an eyebrow at my excitement as I extolled the virtues of sugar sugar sugar cola. After some prompting, he admitted his skepticism that I could discern any difference, so I proposed a taste test.

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raise a glass

This evening, The Fella and I ran an increasingly irritating series of wedding-related shopping expeditions, which you’ll be happy to hear I am not detailing here. I mention the errand only because the last desperate stop yielded an unexpected bargain.
spiegelaustemless.jpg At a local clearance house, a favorite of bluehairs and tourists alike, we found a pallet of the fancy burgundy glasses I’ve been coveting, marked down to about 20% of their usual price.
Seeing me coo over them, The Fella asked “Do you want them for the wedding?”
“No! I want them for me!“* I scooped up half a dozen for me and half a dozen for Mom. I celebrated the bargain by opening a modestly priced bottle of wine as soon as we got home and pouring out a glass to enjoy with my pizza. In this glass, the cheap merlot was a pleasure and a treat.
I’ve spoken before about the virtue of a good wine glass. It’s like alchemy, turning lead into gold. By improving its nose and giving it the right volume to breathe, a good glass makes a half-decent wine into a good wine. In a fine glass, a good wine positively sings.
*My actual wording may have been even less genteel, thus cementing our motto for 2009: “Fffft! Screw the wedding!”


I was surprised and confused when a goodie box arrived last week (okay, now that’s “last month” — I’ve been slacking) from Sandusky, Ohio. I dug through the avalanche of freebie products — snacks, make-up, and lotions, lotions, lotions — expecting to find a note or survey, but nothing!

Only after I sat down and Googled performed a Google search did I discover my luck: I’d somehow scored an Oprah tote. At that moment, my attitude shifted from puzzled suspicion to beaming gratitude. Yes, because it’s Oprah.

My oh my, that benevolent corporate monarch knows what she’s doing! Though I don’t watch Oprah or read her magazine, I’m already predisposed to like the products. I’m puzzling out the psychology of that: does Oprah serve, even to the uninitiated, as a transcendent avatar of all things good? (Or all things free?) Or am I swayed by the arrival of all these goodies in one big, unexpected spree? Or is it the combination of the two?

I don’t even remember entering the tote giveaway sweepstakes, but I suppose I must have. (Though, as The Fella points out, if you’ve ever had a Pap smear or handled a $5 bill, Oprah has your profile in her databank.)
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velveetaFor a late-night gathering tonight, I’ll be making (among other things) this seemingly vile but confoundingly delicious hot dip, which consists of a block of gummy processed cheese food pasteurized prepared cheese product microwaved in a pool of jarred salsa, served with tortilla chips.

I know, I know! But it’s surprisingly tasty, though my brain protests up until the moment I start shoveling it into my mouth. My mouth is the boss.

I looked up the recipe not to refresh my memory, but to show a friend, and in doing so, I noticed that Kraft Foods graciously accommodates the appetites of health-conscious readers:

Healthy Living
Save 20 calories and 2.5 g of fat per serving by preparing with VELVEETA Made With 2% Milk Reduced Fat Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product.

Dear Velveeta,
This word “healthy”? I think you’re using it wrong.

Thanks for the pasteurized prepared cheese product; it’s awesome.



This is my fourth day with a sore throat and my second with a touch of laryngitis. Today, I realized that one of the gourmet lollipops The Fella brought home last weekend might be just the thing. I select “Blueberry” and pop in in my mouth.
So I’m sitting here checking my email, and noodling around online, and puzzling away at the lollipop’s flavor, which has, yes, a pronounced initial hit of shelf-stable blueberry, but a subtler undertone of something. As I idly lick at the pop, the something else becomes more pronounced, and more pronounced, until I can’t taste blueberry “Blueberry” at all, just the something else. Something familiar.
And I’m so busy wondering what the heck it tastes like that I keep the pop in my mouth, until suddenly my hindbrain chirps out the horrifying answer: “Fratboy body spray!”
Excuse me while I freshen my tea, won’t you?


I’ve been trying a few products and treatments that promise to restore luster and shine to my prematurely gray hair. Most recently, I tried a product I assumed was long extinct, an artifact of the 1970s. But no: you can still pick up a tube of Alberto V05 Conditioning Hairdressing in a drugstore for a few dollars.

So I did, and that night while The Fella and I sat side by side watching a movie, I tried it out. Piercing the tube’s seal, I squeezed onto my fingertip a tiny dab of what appeared to be industrial motor lubricant: thick, oily, grayish-green. I sniffed and recoiled.

“Whew! This smells like old!

The Fella leaned in, sniffed, and nodded. “Yup.”

“This smells like old dude!” I bit my lip. “The reviews said the smell would dissipate quickly.”

A beat.

“I’m trying it.” I spread the dab of goo over my palms and glossed it onto my hair.

Then we waited. Waited. Waited for the smell to diminish.

And in the meantime we talked. Talked about the smell. Among the things we decided it smelled like:
– old dude. Though I’d remarked upon it immediately, we thought it deserved a strong seconding.
– old dude barbershop: a barbershop for old dudes, full of customers.
– the nurse’s office.
– comb sanitizer.
– cheap band-aids from the hospital.
– a clean wrestler.
– old dude, a third time.
– Great-Uncle B., minus the whiskey.