Thursday, May 31, 2007
Xiang Xiang, the only panda bred in captivity and released into the wild, was found dead on February 19, the apparent victim of an attack by other wild male pandas--another senseless killing of the wimpiest mammal on the planet. Personally, I think an angry woodchuck could take a panda that's been bred in captivity. I'm pretty sure I could have walked up behind Xiang Xiang and yelled "BOO!" and he would have had an embolysm. So, he was certainly no match for wild pandas, even if they were good-natured and were simply asking him to pass the steamed bamboo...when things took a turn.
First of all, look at any random picture of a panda. More than likely, it's sitting on its rotund butt stuffing its face with bamboo. Am I right? Or it's looking at the camera with its head cocked ever so slightly to the side, in manner of Shirley Temple on the Good Ship Lollipop. Now take a look at a picture of a grizzly bear. Scary, right? Up on its hind legs making its alpha-male grizzly roar. Or haunch-deep in a river fishing for salmon. There is probably blood from a fresh kill on his muzzle. Now, look at what pandas eat. Bamboo? Seriously... That's the bear equivalent of tofu. A hungry grizzly will eat a human or another bear to stay alive.
All I'm saying is that the Giant Panda needs to change its image in order to not go extinct. A panda needs to maul somebody right away or eat someone's poodle before it's too late.
Friday, May 18, 2007
My beloved! Shaggy-haired, mysterious creature of the woods. The one who snuck into my camp last night and ate my entire bag of marshmallows. When I saw you, I knew we were meant to be. There you stood, panting and matted. There I crouched, attempting to pee in a way that wouldn't get my shoes wet. Our eyes met. I screamed in terror. You moaned in a horrified manner and fled into the night. But I haven't forgotten you.
I know you may be reluctant to associate with me. I admit that I've been seen on the arm of Bigfoot. And the Abominable Snowman has been trying to woo me for quite some time. But they mean nothing to me. I am loyal to you and only you, darling Sasquatch!
I long to comb the tangles out of your body hair. I long to clothe you in oversized cotton trousers and comfortable button-ups. I long to buy you shoes and socks and deodorant. I long to teach you the ways of the Christian church, so that you will stop sacrificing rabbits to your pagan gods. I would love to teach you how to read so that you can memorize the sonnets of Shakespeare and recite them to me in your charming woodsian voice. I will teach you to buy me only the flowers I'm not allergic to and only fine quality chocolates. You will learn to compliment me only in the most flattering ways, even when my hair is frightful and my bag doesn't match my shoes. Darling Sasquatch, I will make you love me.
Sasquatch. My hairy, sweet Sasquatch. I will show you more love than all of those who have ever photographed you under mysterious circumstances or made castings of your footprints.
Your darling, beautiful, charming and exalted Mayor of Bethville
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Alas, baking season is coming to a close. Soon, the heat in my non air-conditioned kitchen will be so intense that I'll only be able to venture in there once a day to get more ice cubes for my sweltering brow. And as very disheartening as this is, it is always good to remember that October is not so very far away. Soon, there will be chocolate chip pumpkin bars again. There will be gingersnaps. There will be oatmeal raisin cookies. And yes, there will be Christmas tree sugar cookies with green coconut.
But first, a long, hot, and quite sweaty summer lies in front of us. And how does one survive the summer? Perhaps you could try a few of these techniques:
1. Carry a popsicle in each armpit.
2. Hold a wet t-shirt contest in your living room.
3. Utilize the Gonzales method: profess a complete lack of awareness of the high temperature, cast doubt on the results of supposedly objective measuring equipment, and explain that, until the facts are in, it's too soon to tell whether it's even summer at all (suggested by the Mayor of Tansalton)
4. Place ice cubes on your pulse points and between your legs/thighs/breasts and allow to melt while watching cliché porn as loud as possible so as to annoy the neighbors. The annoyance will force the neighbors to turn up AC in an attempt drown the moaning and groaning out, and hopefully the cool air will flow between vents. Or neighbors will be so annoyed they will vacate their AC-ed apartment. Using MacGyver skills, you can then break in and enjoy the cool. (suggested by the Mayor of Jodyville)
5. Take a dip in the East River.
6. Stand underneath the giant fans in the Union Square subway station.
7. Seduce your local ice cream truck driver.
(all submitted by the mayor of Erikaville)
8. Get a sprinkler.
9. Take repeated cold showers.
10. Jump in the Central Park fountains.
11. Ride your bike really fast down Broadway without stopping for lights and enjoy the breeze.
12. Stick your head out of the subway window while riding above ground in Queens or Brooklyn.
(again from Jodyville...)
And of course, you can always initiate the Bethville tradition of laying around drinking entire pitchers of margaritas when the heat becomes too unbearable, swearing at your cat for being too furry and far too close to you.
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Dear Sizeist-Discriminating Mayor of Benville,
I feel it is my duty to shake a very haughty and well-manicured finger in your direction. I find it quite offensive, while not being a corpulent or unshaven woman myself, that you would prevent the Society of Corpulent, Anti-Shaving Women from having their 2nd annual demonstration and gala in Benville. I know that last year they caused some ruckus. The Benville Hot Springs overflowed from too many oversized occupants and flooded Benville Cemetery. But that did work in your favor, as you turned it into a most properous rice paddy. And later in the year during the Autumn Hairy Corpulent Women Apple Picking and Ladder Repair Seminar, the women got very intoxicated on apple brandy and ransacked the mayoral offices. But they wrote you a very nice letter of apology, and I believe it was quite heartfelt. Therefore, I feel you are being unjustly cruel and sizeist toward these lovely, however ungroomed and portly, women. They are very courageous to take a stand against leg and armpit hair upkeep and dieting.
With that said, I'm terribly sorry to hear that the attempts on your life have continued. Might I suggest that you stop eating anything from the Benville Bakery? Last week I was driving through Benville in the mayoral chariot, when I stopped in at Benville Bakery to pick up a chocolate cream-filled cupcake. To my surprise there was a large parakeet cage buried in it. Naturally, I demanded to speak to the manager, and he was most rude! He refused to exchange the cupcake as I had already licked off all the frosting.
As for the morgue space, I'm afraid that the Bethville Morgue is also overloaded at this time. Unfortunately, a cross-country bus tour of centenarians passed through Bethville during the Bran Muffin Bake-Off and Glenn Miller Orchestra Dance Competition. It was all too much for them, I'm afraid.
I am quite disturbed to hear that Matt Damon is causing such havoc. When I hired him several weeks ago to churn butter at the Bethville Dairy, I had no idea that he was a criminal. I have to say that he was also terrible at churning butter. He kept stopping to pose for the paparazzi, and my butter never got churned.
I am enclosing a large easel and some magic markers just in case your mayoral typewriter is stolen again.
Do take care, Mr. Mayor.
The Mayor of Bethville, Advocate of Corpulent and Hairy Women's Rights and One Who is Forced to Eat her Toast Unbuttered
My Dearest Mayor of Bethville,
How nice it is to finally be writing to you again. Please forgive my absence. I’m afraid the attempts on my life are far from over, and the stakes are higher than ever before. It seems “chuck” has exhausted every source of gardening utensils in the tri-county area, and has resorted to stealing my office supplies to use as a substitute. Their methods have not changed however; still baking them into various pastries in the hopes that I might overlook the blatantly obvious obtrusions caused by a handle, blade, power cord or 4-cycle engine and swallow one whole. A few weeks ago, they rudely stole my typewriter and placed it in a Danish. My body-doubles have been working around the clock to find it again so that I might reply to your letters.
That reminds me, may I borrow some of your morgue space? It seems ours is quite overstocked.
Now down to business:
I understand body-double #2 was kind enough to read through my mail and send out replies. Please disregard Mr. Damon’s letter. He has been identified as a body-double-double-agent working undercover in my mayoral employ. I originally assigned body-double #32 the task of responding to my mail. He works slow, doesn’t spell all that well and prefers to write in what he calls “poopie letters”, but he has a heart of gold and a good work ethic so I figured what the heck. While composing a condolence letter to the Clooney family, however, Mr. Damon snuck up behind body-double #32 and overwhelmed him with an overdose of common sense. Body-double #32’s feeble mind couldn’t handle the brain overload of simple mathematics, silverware etiquette and the truth about Scientology, so he unfortunately met his demise. Mr. Cruise will be missed. Mr. Damon then resumed the task in hopes of isolating Benville from all outside communication.
In my absence, I have been in deep investigation of the illustrious “chuck”, identifying several moles in the Benville organization that are fueling the attempts on my life. Mr. Damon has been under close surveillance for some time, and I fear he has finally caught our scent. Just before evading my loyal body-double pursuit brigade, he stole my typewriter and delivered it to chuck’s garden utensil contaminated pastry bakers, cutting off the only source of outside communication in Benville. (Yes I agree, it is probably time to discuss improvements to Benville’s communication system, but that is neither here nor there. The issue here is Mr. Damon.) He then proceeded to steal one of the Benville mayoral mopeds and journeyed east to the mysterious community of Tansalton, a city we’ve suspected is the originator of “chuck” for quite some time. My sources say he was last seen at the Tenth Annual Tansalton Volunteer Rescue Workers Benefit and Celebrity Rug Toss and was addressed there as a guest of high esteem. We will keep tabs on the suspicious city of Tansalton, and will inform you of any foul play.
On a lighter note, you will be glad to here that the Benville water tower has been drained of its strawberry daiquiri contents and filled with water once again. You were right, my dear mayor, that was a very bad idea. Everything was fine and good until the shuttle bus from the 2nd Annual Corpulent Women’s Anti-Shaving Demonstration stopped by. They figured they could get a quick rinsing before continuing on to the Bethville Kitten Grooming and Banana Cream Pie Jubilee. A horrifying sight, my dear mayor, horrifying. Please inform the citizens of Bethville that the foul scent will no longer be wafting from Benville, and that Benville will NOT be holding the Annual Corpulent Women’s Anti-Shaving Demonstration next year. We are taking a firm stand against public display of unshaven corpulent women.
The Paranoid, Ill-Tempered Mayor of Benville
Dear Mayor of Tansalton,
I would be honored to attend the 13th Annual Pot-Belly Pig Appreciation Society Punch Party and Curly Fries Fry-Off, but unfortunately, I have a previous engagement on that day. It seems the Mayor of Erikaville has scheduled the Semi-Annual Erikaville Cock Fight and Recreational Cocaine Snorting for that afternoon, and I am scheduled to picket it. I feel it is my duty as a civil servant to share my deep disapproval of the forms of entertainment in Erikaville. I knew when she originated the Erikaville Unfiltered Cigarette Smoke-Off and Stuffed Animal Beheading in 2003, that there would be lots of trouble between Bethville and Erikaville.
Mr. Mayor, I'm afraid that the wheelbarrow you returned with your letter is not the wheelbarrow I loaned to you. In fact, it is not a wheelbarrow at all, but a box of Turkish tea biscuits. As much as I enjoy tea biscuits, whether from Turkey or anywhere else in the world, I really do need that wheelbarrow back as it's where I store my mayoral paycheck stubs and kitty litter. Please send the actual wheelbarrow back to me as soon as possible. I will be wearing my contact lenses this time.
I'm sorry to hear that negotiations with Curleyburg are not going your way. I find that when I have a mayoral disagreement, it is helpful to write a strongly-worded letter. Do let me know if you need any pointers.
I am enclosing a darling doggie outfit for the charming Fantasia. I hope he likes the little silver booties. They were crafted from recycled aluminum foil. Saving the environment is one of my top priorities in Bethville.
The Mayor of Bethville, Strong Supporter of Recycling and Not Letting Sea Gulls Eat Those Plastic 6-Pack Thingys
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Dearest and Most Generous Mayor of Bethville,
Thank you ever so much for allowing us the use of your wheelbarrow. I especially appreciated the flame decal, which makes it seem like one is shoveling shit a whole lot faster, thereby minimizing the unpleasantness of the task at hand. I sincerely hope you aren't offended by my coarse language, but when one deals with a chronic ghastly problem as we here in the enclave of Tansalton have been for over a year now, one gradually dispenses with the niceties.
I am concerned that my inclusion of the photographs of our beloved Official Township Poodle, Fantasia, may have been too forward. If it had been up to me, I would not have pressed the issue at all. However, Fantasia is up for contract renewal this month, and the negotiations have been contentious. You see, our Official Township Theater Company and Ballet Troupe Playhouse and Cafe is only able to mount one show quarterly, and this leaves Fantasia with very few opportunities within Tansalton. I was hoping to organize events with nearby playhouses as a way of retaining him. My constituents need a figure to help inspire their hopes and dreams, especially with the three-year-long redistricting battle with nearby Curleyburg with no resolution in sight.
I do sincerely apologize for missing the Bethville Kitten Grooming and Banana Cream Pie Jubilee. Aside from not wanting to further antagonize Fantasia by consorting with kittens, it just so happened to coincide with our 10th Annual Tansalton Volunteer Rescue Workers Benefit and Celebrity Rug Toss. Matt Damon was a surprise guest. However, as a conciliatory measure, I cordially invite you to our 13th Annual Pot-Belly Pig Appreciation Society Punch Party and Curly-Fries Fry Off, on May 19th at 2 PM. Kindly RSVP with my assistant, Ms. I. Gore.
Signed with deepest respect and admiration,
The Afflicted Yet Ever Pleasant Mayor of Tansalton
Monday, May 7, 2007
Note: My friend Tansal has joined the mayoral letter writing alliance.
Most Illustrious Mayor of Tansalton,
Thank you so much for the basket of muffins that you left on the steps of the Bethville town hall this morning. I had no idea that you were such an accomplished basket weaver. And thank you as well for the charming photographs of your poodle in his ballet costume. While I'm sure he's a wonderful dancer, I am afraid that I have cast all the parts for the Bethville Playhouse all-canine production of Julius Caesar. Perhaps next season.
I heard recently, Mr. Mayor, that you are facing some issues with nearby Curleyburg, that the Curleyburg landfill has started to overflow with garbage and that the spillage has infused your water supply with the flavor of horse manure. I've been terribly disheartened to hear this news, so I am sending over the best wheelbarrow in Bethville to assist with the cleanup of said landfill. I would send over some laborers as well, but unfortunately, all the Bethville gardeners are currently incarcerated for money laundering.
That said, Mr. Mayor, I am also writing to extend you an invitation to the Bethville Kitten Grooming and Banana Cream Pie Jubilee. It takes place on April 29 and begins at 2:30 in the afternoon. Grooming supplies will be provided by Bethville Groomers, Spa, and Haircut Emporium. You will need to bring your own kitten, however. Do come and join in the festivities! I insist, as I have been able to forgive you for the unfortunate incident at the 2005 Bethville Horse Castration and Potluck.
The Honorable, Forgiving, and Licorice-Scented Mayor of Bethville
Friday, May 4, 2007
Although I vowed that this blog would be about nothing but happy things, like sunshine and unicorns, sometimes sad things happen. My uncle Bud passed away yesterday. He had a stroke several months ago that left him incapacitated, and he was in a nursing home. It was one of those things that was expected but is still painful when it happens.
Uncle Bud was one of those men for whom chivalry would never die. When I visited him and Aunt Mary several years ago, he insisted on driving me back to my hotel and walking me to my room, so that I wouldn't be accosted by the Overland-Park-Kansas-variety crazies.
Uncle Bud was not the happiest man. My mom always said it was because he missed his sister and their mother. (Both women died young.) So he always carried with him a little element of sadness that grew harder and harder to cover up as he grew older. But when Uncle Bud laughed, it was the loudest and jolliest sound I ever heard. That laugh made being around him a treat.
I have discovered that if you can remember how someone laughed, you never really forget that person. Uncle Bud loved the Royals, introduced me to Milk Duds, celebrated St. Patrick's Day like a proper Irishman, and had a laugh that you could feel from the soles of your feet to the top of your head.
I'll miss you, Uncle Bud.
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
As promised, I've been doing lots of exploratory work into finding delicious cupcake recipes. It's a lot of hard work, but some poor schlub has to do it.
Orange Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
makes 2 dozen cupcakes
3 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
14 tbsp. butter
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. orange extract
orange zest to taste
one 8 oz. package of cream cheese
4 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp. orange extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice
orange zest to taste
Mix together flour, baking powder, and salt in medium-sized bowl. In a larger bowl, mix together butter, sugar, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. A little orange zest goes a long way, so I wouldn't add more than a tablespoon. Add dry ingredients and mix well. When thoroughly mixed, pour into paper liners in muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees until tops are golden. Let these thoroughly cool before frosting.
For frosting, beat together cream cheese, butter, extracts, powdered sugar, orange juice, and zest. (I squeezed a bit of juice from the orange I happened to be "zesting.") When thoroughly creamified, frost cooled cupcakes liberally. Sample personally to check for deliciousness.