coining a phrase, bug horror, and fowl language

From a recent email exchange:

Jagosaurus: Random thought I keep forgetting to articulate: Sometimes I wish we would jointly post (edited) versions of some of our conversations. We B Funny.

Elsa: Oooh, blog fodder! Uh. I don’t have to post that part*, right?

J: You do not.

E: Sold!

J:  Excellent.  What happens next?

E: Yeeeeeah, I thought you’d know that.  I, uh, something.

Here’s what happens next. Let’s start at the beginning. (Salty language and insect horrors ahead.) Continue reading

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bubbly count

One item on my life list: drink 100 bottles of bubbly. (And when I reach 100, I might move the goal to 1000.) For the moment, I’m keeping track of the bottles here, which means I’ll update this page every few bottles. (This list is primarily a list of notes for me, so some of the names and events may seem a little cryptic.)

1. The inaugural bottle: shared with AC at her place with J. and The Fella. Baked brie, savory pastries, and Buffy.
2 & 3. Nominally shared with E. (but actually I think I drank most of both bottles) at an impromptu cocktail hour at our place with J., R., and The Fella before going to see The Geek Chorus. Oof.
4. Shared with Gaoo before potluck pizza dinner. A. came over too! Wheee!
5. An evening cocktail party at our place to celebrate the morning soccer match.
6. & 7. Noir Might: Double Indemnity, The Maltese Falcon, and vegetable galettes with R, E, P, and The Fella.
8. AC brought over a bottle of sparkling pink! Very berrylike and fresh, a little sweet, and lovely with the last strawberry late at night.
9. After a two-week stretch of very-sick no-drinking, I shared a bit of a bottle at AC & J’s — the first time J & E joined us for Buffy night! It was also the first wedding anniversary for The Fella and me, and our friends surprised us with a tiramisu festooned with figurines, and an attempt at a happy-anniversary song. So sweet!
10. For a second first-anniversary celebration, a split of prosecco with polenta fries on the patio of the fancy-pants restaurant around the corner. I can check that off my summer list, too!
11 & 12. The first Buffy Might at J & E’s, with AC & J. Gorgeous dinner, great company, lots of bubbly including one that got cork-stuck… but The Fella got it popped.
13. Vinho verde with Gaoo, the sgazzetti contingent visiting from Bulgaria, and Gamma Suzin.
14. The Fella and I had a rare weekday date night together at home, and — to accompany a frankly delicious clean-out-the-fridge dinner — I opened a bottle of prosecco just for myself. That felt like a big deal, to pop a cork just so I could have a glass or two. I think I should do it more often!
15. Another Buffy Night, also Pizza Night. Mmm. The Ploob came along to AC & JE’s too, though he stuck to beer.
16, 17, 18. Buffy Night was Nostalgia Night at E & J’s: an enormous pile of grilled cheese sandwiches, three pots of soup of the evening beautiful soup, and three of us toughed it out through two and a half bottles of fizz. Go, team!
19, 20. Buffy night at AC & JE’s, and an excuse to celebrate the engagement of E & J! Go, team: we knocked back a bottle of cava, a bottle of vino verde, and who-knows-how-many bottles of High Life, the Champagne of Beers.

Wuh-oh! I lost track there for a while (not too surprising, I suppose, with all that bubbly swimming around). As of January 2011, I think we’re up to 27 bottles… and a Christmas gift from Mom included two more bottles, one big, one tiny one just for me. Aaaaand there’s a bottle of frizzante Lambrusco (or is that “Lambrusco frizzante”?) in the fridge, waiting for me to get around to it. I bought it for New Year’s Eve, but was taken down by the flu. I rang in the new year with ginger ale, not sparkling wine.

28-30: The Fella’s 42nd birthday party, a 12-hour open house with plenty of food and drink and silliness. While uncaging the cork of the second (third?) bottle, I set it down for a moment to introduce my sister to the assembled crowd… and we were all surprised by a popping sound. That’s right: an uncaged cork can apparently drive itself right out of the bottle and up into the air!

… which I suppose I could have inferred from the necessity for the cage. Right.

31-33. Though our out-of-town guest of honor had to cancel, our friends J & E braved a snowstorm to join us for cocktails and nibbles. We missed you, AC, but E & I soldiered on as best we could, knocking back three bottles of sparkling wine between us. Wowee.

34. SNOW DAY! In this snowy, blustery, blizzardy winter, The Fella has had to work through many many potential snow days… so in February, we decided TO HECK WITH IT and blocked out a day off as our own private snow day. (As it turned out, that was the warmest, sunniest day in months.) He provisioned a stack of movies and bags of food and we snuggled down in a cozy nest in our living room and enjoyed pretending to be snowbound.

35. A tiny split just for me, mixed with pulpy fresh grapefruit juice, enjoyed while The Fella and I had a quiet dinner.

36. Niece A’s 20th birthday party! Beautiful homemade pizza! Hugging! Photos of her trimester in Mexico! More hugging, and still more hugging — the girl’s been away for a TRIMESTER, y’all. I brought a bottle of vinho verde (and very nice for $3.99 — thanks, Trader Joe’s!) to share with Gaoo and Mom.

37. Dinner and movie with The Fella, and I broke open a bottle just for myself! Two glasses a night, two nights in a row.

38-41. “Mad Men” night with R., AC, E., and J. Despite the temptations of rye old-fashioneds and bourbon on the rocks, three fizzy-drinkers plowed through four bottles (including a too-sweet Asti, much improved by a drop of bitters). Nice work, folks!

42, 43. Dinner with Miko and LT at my apartment: spinach and mushroom galette, two bottles of a nice light vinho verde, Samuel James on the stereo, and talk of teleporters and living in the future.

44, 45. Dinner with most of my family: J, M, A, & A; N, S, J, & N; C; Mom; me. Two bottles of vinho verde to go with lobster rolls, corn on the cob, and a plate of farmstand cucumbers and tomatoes. Ahhhh, summer in Maine.

46-50: Halfway there! Buffy Night returns: AC & JE made a trip north to stay over; EB & JL joined us for cold peanut noodles, cucumber and avocado salad with sweet miso dressing. EB brought eclairs, JL brought homebrew! And we worked our way through 2 bottles of champagne and 2 bottles of vinho verde.

And a big bump: The Fella and I threw a Champagne Jam, an all-day breakfast buffet that’s just an excuse to drink pour cheap bubbly (and beer) for all our friends all Sunday long. I bought a mixed case + 1 bottle, an amount of sparkling wine now known as “a birthday dozen.” And we drank it ALL, as well as one bottle that a guest brought. That, plus the three bottles I used for cooking (and a bit of tippling) in the week leading up to the party, brings us up to 67 bottles.

68. Shared between brother B., SIL T., Gaoo, and me on Mom’s patio, enjoying the last lingering bit of summer and the sweet-tart fizz of a cheap but pleasant Lambrusco. B. offered a sip to teenaged L., saying “It’s what wine would taste like if it were sody-pop.” I’ll add that to the growing list of comparisons: cartoon wine, toy wine, candy wine.

69, 70. J & E came over for impromptu cocktails including a bottle of Lambrusco, a bottle of Christalino, and a few bottles of J’s homebrewed cider.

71. A bottle of non-alcoholic sparkling cider shared with SIL T, niece P, and The Fella during a lovely sleepover visit at our place. Hey, if we serve it in champagne glasses to celebrate, it counts!

72. A bottle of vinho verde I opened just for me — an indulgence that I’m finally getting comfortable with — during The Fella’s November vacation. I drank a few glasses during a night of board games, loosening up for An Experiment.

73, 74. An early Thanksgiving with The Fella’s family: I brought non-alcoholic sparkling cider, a bottle of cava, and a stack of recyclable plastic champagne glasses.

75. Actual Thanksgiving 2011: Pajama Thanksgiving at home with The Fella, snuggled up watching MST3K over a vegetarian dinner (plus chicken gravy) and a bottle of sparkling cider. (Yes, I’m counting it.)

76, 77. Christmas dinner at Gaoo’s with A., Mom, and The Fella: ham, scalloped potatoes, beet and goat cheese, roasted squash galette. Piles of prezzies, a kitten and a pocket laser, “Music from the Last Ten Years,” and laughing our asses off over snakes in a can.

78.In the third week of January, I fiiiiiinally recovered from the horrible cold that kept me in bed New Year’s Eve. To celebrate feeling spry again, I popped open a split of champagne to drink with a regular-ole dinner at home with The Fella.

79, 80, 81. The Fella’s now-traditional all-day all-night birthday movie marathon eat-drinkery; we have an open house, noon to midnight (and beyond) for all our friends. I know we went through three bottles of sparkling wine; we may have gone through more.

82, 83. N@, theora55, Miko, LT, and I got through two bottles of Albero frizzante during a Saturday brunch at my home.

84. Visiting The Fella’s family at the beachside cottage, we stopped at the tiny local grocery to stock up for lunch… and picked up a pleasant bottle of prosecco to break out at dinner.

85, 86, 87. AC, The Fella, and I spent an evening eating and drinking (asparagus & pea risotto cakes with red pepper sauce, creamed spinach with sherried mushrooms, rosé and white sparkling wine), talking about long-arc TV shows, and laughing ourselves silly.

88. A fatherless Father’s Day brunch with mother, sister, and niece. Sticky buns. Mimosas. Love.

89, 90. A too-sweet moscata d’asti and a nice poppy, grapey lambrusco for “drinks in the gloaming” with Gaoo and A. Flatbreads and olives and brie and swordfish, mmm.

As of the end of June 2012: ten bottles to go, and we’re only five weeks from the second annual Champagne Jam.

90 – 97. Three and a half broads* + 7 bottles = impromptu slumber party! A showed up with two bottles, R showed up with two bottles. By the time E* & J arrived late in the evening, we were tapping into the first of my three long-fridgerated bottles. Yikes! (E’s late arrival and relatedly small consumption of bubbly makes her the half-broad in this sum.)

98. R arrived for the first of our newly-established monthly dinner dates bearing a bottle of rosé crémant. Two bottles to go to 100!

99. I popped a bottle of Lambrusco for myself, and used a bit of it to cook in the days before the Champagne Jam.

100: Just before guests started arriving for the second annual Champagne Jam, I popped a bottle and made myself my first ever champagne cocktail: brandy, sugar cube, and champagne. It turns out that every character Claude Rains ever played ordered those for good reason: that’s good drinking.

I lost track at the Champagne Jam. We got through easily a dozen bottles, as well as quite a lot of beer and some spirits. I’m going to reset the count at 112, which seems conservative.

113. One of my Health Month rules for August: indulge in a daily act of self-care. Today, I treated myself to a split of champagne — and even asked The Fella to get it for me, to save my aching back the hassle. Thanks for the pretty glass, sweetheart.

114. For dinner with Mom, the Montana family, and Gaoo, A., & S., I brought a bottle of Albero (vinho verde? frizzante? something lightly sparkling in a long tapered bottle) for an aperitif over mussels. It was astonishingly perfect: lightly sweet, tangy, and with just a hint of depth. It played nicely with the mussels and bread and oh so much garlic.

115, 116. Quesadillas and two bottles of vinho verde with R. & E. before we stepped out to attend some filmmaker friends’ new-studio open house! Then back home, where we opened another bottle of wine and I whipped up emergency dinners: nachos w/ black beans, avocado, and cherry tomatoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and cream of tomato soup jazzed up with wine and sherry and curry.

117. A bottle of prosecco popped open just for myself, to celebrate a disappointment… because disappointment means I’m trying. And that is worth celebrating.

118, 119, 120. Dinner and season 5 of “Mad Men” with R. & E. Here’s where the thousand-bottles-of-champagne project crosses over with the abundance project: after dithering around about what to serve and when to shop, I whipped up the entire dinner from odds & ends on hand: squash (on the shelf) roasted with garlic and wrapped in galette dough with the last bits of Parmesan and some caramelized onion (in a jar in the fridge), spinach salad with chili-glazed almonds (kept in a jar in the freezer) and dressing made of reduced orange juice (always on hand), and green beans (freezer) with smoked paprika breadcrumbs (freezer). Dessert was three gorgeous gelatos brought by R. and accompanied by a box of fancy almond wafers that I — you guessed it! — had stashed away in the cupboard.

121. Not a bottle, but a can of Sofia Coppola sparkling wine broken open at 11:30, November 6th, 2012, to celebrate Obama’s reelection to the Presidency. The Fella, an inveterate beer drinker, took a token glass with a generous sip in it, and we shared a simple toast: “Forward.”

122. Christmas Eve with The Fella’s family, a bottle of champagne shared with my MiL, following my SiL’s peach sangria.

123. A bottle of the same the next day at Gaoo’s Christmas dinner: prime rib with Yorkshire pudding and mushroom pot pie.

124, 125, 126. At The Fella’s birthday party 2013, I lost count. I’m going to conservatively say, oh, three bottles.

127. S. came over for mezze, vinho verde, and a documentary on GIANT SQUID.

???

wow, I don’t know how many I’ve missed, but it’s been a few dozen. I’ll round it up to 150 for this important bottle:

150. A split of champagne with dinner to toast my first paid writing ever, Tidings of Comfort and Joy: Alternative Christmas Movies for The Toast.

???

I’ve missed even more, so let’s ignore them and pick up at 151: a bottle of pink moscata in sister C’s garden with visiting family (J, M, A, & A), Mom, A, and two of C’s friends. Grilled fish, rum and lemonade, sesame noodles, blueberry picking, and A made a cool five bucks off the nephews, who bought her scooter.

152. A glass of prosecco at the beautiful restaurant around the corner, with visiting cousin B, brother B on a visit down south, and sister C, all as Mom’s guests.

153. Vinho verde and tub cheese in my skivvies after a late night and long sleep following my first sit-on on The A.V. Club’s True Detective coverage. I was up ‘ti 10 a.m., slept ’til afternoon, The Fella and I took a leisurely drive at rush hour to a local market across the bridge, picked up weird food, and he’s in the kitchen making dinner while I have a drink and a snack. Days don’t get much better, and I want to remember this.

154. Three glasses of cava (chasing that first glass of sangria) at the local tapas bar, where The Fella threw the only good surprise party. All the rest of you can give up; surprise parties are over; he threw the best one.

up the academy

Heads up, movie buffs: Mr. Videoport Jones (a.k.a., The Fella) and intrepid reporter Justin Ellis will be live-blogging the Oscars for the Portland Press Herald. The NXT Gal and I will be with them in the isolation booth, mixing cocktails and cracking wise. You can count yourself in on the Facebook event page, and tune in to the NXT Generation on Sunday night!

a body at rest

Wanting to be somewhere is not the same as wanting to go there. In matters of social travel, I embody a principle of Newtonian mechanics. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, and all that. (Unrelatedly, I’m also wicked entropic: a closed system characterized by disorder and chaos, with an undeniable tendency toward heat death.)

You know what will really improve my social life? Teleportation. Getting there isn’t half the battle; it’s the whole battle.

faced

I recently spent an hour trying to overcome some NoScript issues so The Fella could set up a Facebook account. To check things out, I signed into my own long dormant account

And I decided, despite my previous kvetching, to give it a try.

(I’m currently reserving Facebook, logically enough, for people I know face-to-face. It’s mostly to preserve the illusion of distance between the Elsa known to the professors and administrators and the Elsa who swears fluently and tells goofy stories in the hazy world inside the tubes.)

If nothing else, Facebook allowed me to message a friend who’s been otherwise unreachable, and to see the comment stream of a loved one who’s been too overwhelmed to use email or phone. I’ll cheerfully admit that’s handy.

Otherwise… well…

In a week or so, I’ve had exactly one flashing moment of illumination: I saw how this network could hook you but good, like buying scratch tickets or playing craps. I was idly looking up a grade school friend — a girl I hadn’t seen in 25 years and several thousand miles. To confirm that the profile was indeed my old friend and not someone else with her name, I check to see if her sister (also a one-time friend of mine) was among her contacts. She was

… and the sister lives here, in my small hometown, a town neither of them had ever heard of when we met in Texas.

It flushed me like a win at roulette, this odd little nothing of happenstance. I shook my head and thought “What are the odds?

And then I closed both profiles without contacting either, because, y’know, what’s the point? If we’d wanted to be in touch in the past 25 years, I guess I would’ve made an effort earlier, or they would’ve. But I didn’t, and they didn’t, and so we didn’t.

This pretty well sums up my response to Facebook in general: cool! But what’s the point?

barnraising

I recently wrote about a friend’s potluck wedding reception, where family and friends fed each other, sharing their joy and love with the happy couple. The Fella and I aren’t having a potluck wedding, but for the past few months, I’ve been musing that our DIY wedding feels like a barnraising: our loved ones keep enthusiastically pitching in, lending their strength and talents to help us build something of value.

If you browse wedding forums or advice columns, you’ll soon bump into shrill warnings against this approach. Naysayers dismiss the handmade, homemade, shared nature of the event. It’s tacky, it’s rude, it’s cheap. It’s inconsiderate to expect guests to contribute to Your Special Day.

Of course guests don’t want to do your dirty work, but you can accept loving assistance (and even ask for it) without being rude or demanding. Some thoughts guiding our own requests:

– Our friends miiiiight enjoy showcasing their talents. They would not enjoy predictable drudgery; we’ll pay people for that.
– Any guest’s wedding-day contribution should be brief. Everyone wants to have fun!
– Things will go wrong. It doesn’t matter. If the cake falls over, if the photos don’t come out, if the iPod freezes… we’ll still be married at the end of the day.
-If anyone seems hesitant, for any reason or for no reason at all, we’ll withdraw our request.
If we ask you to consider helping out, it’s because we value your talent and we trust your judgment. That includes the judgment that leads you to say, “No, I’d rather not.”
In fact, we’ve made few requests so far; our family and friends keep amazing us with their offers of help, offers far more generous, creative, and serendipitous than we could have imagined.
Behind the click is a loooooong list of the help being offered, and a few requests we plan to make.

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