The Ultimate Smoothie of Power

Now, I could have called it an Ultimate Power Smoothie, but that’s the jock name for it, and I prefer my smoothie to sound like something my Dungeon Master rolls up for me after I defeat five trolls.

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I blend my smoothies in a six-bladed blender. To add insult to injury.

I like the idea of starting my day with an Ultimate Smoothie of Power. The problem is, I’m a degenerate who cannot manage to make a smoothie in the morning. I can tell myself, “It’s just throwing things in the blender, no biggie,” but realistically, my torpid morning-self needs 30 minutes to make a smoothie. I can manage to roll out of bed and eat leftovers for breakfast, or if it’s a weekend, some kind of omelette that my partner makes me.

The paradox of the Ultimate Smoothie of Power is that I would have to have already imbibed it in order to have the energy to make it. So for me, smoothies are a lunch item. They are for when I would like to eat a fuckton of fruit without having to chew it.

Smoothies have certain requirements, as determined by some governing body, which I have made up in my head and believe to have a clever acronym, like ISAACTRON, whatever that stands for.

Here are the requirements for a beverage to earn the designation of smoothie:

  • Frozen banana. Frozen bananas make smoothies smooth, creamy and sweet. I am no longer happy with a smoothie that does not contain frozen banana.
  • Dairy. In the form of milk or yogurt, or at least coconut milk. Because more creaminess. If there is no dairy, it’s not a smoothie, it’s a fruit slush. These are technical classifications, which I have decided on in my head.
  • Protein. They need to have protein, in addition to the protein already in yogurt. Afternoon-self moves at a better clip than morning-self, but that doesn’t mean afternoon-self is interested in making time-consuming fruit drinks and still having to make lunch as well.
  • These ingredients must be pulverized, otherwise they’re just a bowl of yogurt with a lot of stuff in it.

Because of these requirements, in my world, there are really only four types of smoothie: Fruit Smoothie, Chocolate Smoothie, Pumpkin smoothie, and Smoothie That Has Oats In It.

Here, then, is the recipe for Fruit Smoothie, also known as the Ultimate Smoothie of Power.

Ingredients:

  • one banana, previously frozen.
  • two handfuls berries, possibly also frozen.
  • plain, full-fat yogurt.
  • almond butter
  • crystallized ginger
  • more cinnamon than you think you need
  • maple syrup or honey, if additional sweetening is needed
  1. Put all the ingredients in your blender.
  2. Add more cinnamon.  MORE.
  3. Turn on the blender.
  4. Do not drink the Ultimate Smoothie of Power while the blender is running, even if you’ve somehow convinced yourself that this might be a good idea.
  5. Drink the Ultimate Smoothie out of some kind of appropriate container. Or, one shaped like a penis.

TROUBLESHOOTING

Help! The ginger is still in chunks, and I can’t handle it because food texture is a huge deal for me.

Make the smoothie in two steps. Blend the ginger with the frozen banana so it all the hard stuff gets puréed together, then add the goopy ingredients.

Help! I want more protein in my smoothie, but I don’t have any nut butter and I’m too scared to add meat to my smoothie and still drink it.

Never fear! If you have nuts and a capable blender, first dump a bag of nuts into the blender and grind it into nut paste. Nut butter, if you will. You may need to add oil. Remove all the nut butter from the blender except for a couple tablespoons. Now you have nut butter AND a smoothie, and you didn’t need to turn this into two projects with dishes and everything.

Help! I have no frozen banana!

Rethink your life. You will never be able to drink smoothies professionally. Though, yes, you can use a room temperature banana with a handful of ice cubes.

Imitation invectives and their uses

Censorship breeds amusing substitutes for the common profanities we all know and love. While “fuckity fuck fuck fuck” is absolutely a phrase I over-use, I have a special place in my heart for the fill-in profanities that crop up in the TV versions of movies and in a lot of social situations involving self-censorship.

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Oh, for skunk’s sake.

Though I didn’t know it at the time, my first exposure to swear substitutes was “shoot the boot!” I’ve heard stories about parents who swear in front of their kids, and are later embarrassed when the kid swears in public. I don’t understand why it’s embarrassing if the word isn’t being grievously misused, but whatever. This never happened to my parents, because they have an inhuman ability not to swear. Between the two of them, I’ve heard swearing maybe three times ever, and those were all from my dad. When I was little, my mom frequently used the phrase “shoot the boot,” always said in a jaunty, rhythmic manner, like it was the title of a Dr. Seuss book.

This kind of fake swearing, along with cheery, defanged expletives like “Aw, heck” and “Oh, fudge” left me unimpressed with phony curses for a long time. When I became a teenager and came into my own as a vulgar human being, entitled to the full range of hard, monosyllabic curses the English language has to offer, I eschewed the knock-offs every single time I could get away with it.  And, this article argues that I was right to do so.

Until a few years ago, I saw the stand-ins as imposters. Mock swears were like a guy with a false beard conspicously saying, “No, I’m definitely not the same dude you gave the one-per-person free ice cream to a moment ago.” They’re adorably trying to be the real thing. Hearing “go fork yourself” on TV movies amused me, but it was more like a kitten playing with yarn than a Siberian tiger shredding a tapestry and roaring.

I’ve come to appreciate the fakies for their creativity.

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You can see the dedication in the 1/8 inch gouge of the lettering on this shopping center picnic table.

Recently, my grandma was telling me that if she misbehaved when she was young, her mother would come after her yelling, “I’ll give you Hail Columbia.”  My great-grandma didn’t come up with it herself, but wherever it came from, it’s still a lot more creative than “heck.” Actually, can we reappropriate “heck?” It doesn’t have to be wimpy.  Let’s say that it’s a combination of “hell” and “fuck.”

Anyway.

Think of how many other possibilities there could be.  “I’ll give you hailstones.” Actually, I’m blanking. I can’t think of any more possibilities.  “Hail” is lodged in my head.  But a number of words begin with H, no? To use George Carlin’s number, there are, what, seven good swear words? But there are a million words in the English language. What if, somehow, they could all be used as profanities?

Options!

I mean that as a swear, like a joyful “fuck yeah!” Nope, doesn’t work. But I’d bet that a large chunk of Anglo-Saxon derived words do.

From the way my grandma told it, she definitely didn’t associate “I’ll give you Hail Columbia” with wimpiness, and she didn’t think of it as a frail imitator. When she was in trouble for Whatever Shit She Pulled (my words, not hers), my great-grandma made sure her wrath was clear, no matter what the wording.

And that’s another reason I’ve grown warmer towards the substitutes. It’s not just the creativity. Said with enough vehemence, anything can be an invective.

Nerds!  Oh snap!

Recently, I heard someone say, “Shut the front door.”

Say it with the rhythm of “Shut the fuck up.” Satisfying, right?

Only a hammer is a hammer. But if you’re in a pinch, you can use a rock as a hammer. You can use a steel water bottle as a hammer. And you can use a “hammer!” as a “dammit!”


P. S. The Terribleminds Profanity Generator is a fantastic resource for long-form creative swearing.

The Story of Våffeldagen

Every March, my partner and I host a brunch and tell our guests to bring a bowl of waffle batter. We invite all the friends and family, geeks and hippies, awesome, quirky, intelligent people we can, and they all co-mingle over a chaotic five hour feast of every type of experimental waffle you can imagine.

Ok, that’s not true. I can imagine a lot of waffles. Snozzberry waffles. But we’ve had chocolate waffles, chocolate mint waffles, blueberry waffles, jalapeno corndog waffles, taco waffles, bacon waffles, peanut butter banana waffles, pumpkin waffles, and all sorts of regular old waffles, made with everything from Bisquick to home grown goose eggs. We’ve had four waffle makers going at a time, and we always end up with batter-globbed counters at the end of the day.

Here’s how that started.

In Sweden, yesterday was Våffeldagen. The Waffle Day.

Have you not heard of Våffeldagen?

I first learned about Våffeldagen from Craig Ferguson, during a time in my life when I watched The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson with zealous obsession on a regular basis.

He starts talking about Våffeldagen a bit around 5:20. The embed function isn’t working right now, so here’s the link:

Craig Ferguson on Våffeldagen.

Needless to say, my partner and I celebrated a slightly belated Våffeldagen the very next day. Nothing extravagant, just a batch of waffles with some leftover Santa chocolate chips thrown in.

The next year, when March 25th rolled around, we had the following awesome conversation, which planted the seed for what Våffeldagen would become:

“Hey, isn’t today Vaffeldagn?”

“I guess it is.”

“Let’s have some waffles.”

“Ok.”

“Can they be chocolate?”

“Ok. Can you find a chocolate waffle recipe?”

“Ok.”

You see, at this point, Våffeldagen wasn’t yet Våffeldagen. Except for in Sweden. For me, Våffeldagen was still on the level of President’s Day. As in, you have to ask, “Isn’t it President’s Day?” Then, whatever the answer is, you go about your life and don’t really do anything.

Except with Våffeldagen, we didn’t really do anything, plus we ate a waffle. From what I’ve read, that’s basically how it goes down in Sweden.

In late 2010 and early 2011, a series of events turned the Waffle Day into a Big Deal.

Here is the timeline:

  • August 2010 I find a job after a long stretch of unemployment.
  • October 2010 As a productive member of society*, I move into my first apartment with my partner.
  • December 2010 At Christmas, our relatives mainly give us things we need for our apartment. My brother buys us a square waffle maker. Dan’s brother buys us a Belgian waffle maker. We do not tell either of them that we already have a waffle maker, and could the gift be returned for something else we need?
  • Winter 2011 We remember Våffeldagen in advance instead of on the day itself.

And here is the math:**

2 waffle makers + 1 apartment + remembering in advance = inviting people over for waffles

Inviting people over for waffles x the idea of looking up different waffle recipes on the internet x “We are lazy and don’t want to cook a bajillion waffles.” =

“Let’s have a Våffeldagen potluck and invite other humans and tell them to each bring their own waffle batter.”

And that’s the story Våffeldagen, at least our Våffeldagen, and why I’ll be having a ton of people over this weekend cooking a ton of waffles. One day, it shall be the stuff of legend.


*Society still hasn’t sent me a membership card.

**If my brother (he of the square waffle maker) sees waffle math, he will hate it. Greg, I’m not sorry.

Google maps glitch… or space-time distortion?

It might not be immediately obvious what’s wrong with this picture.

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A lone diner from the other side of the country.

The map is a portion of Clinton, MA. Note the address of Lou’s Diner.

Yeah!

At first glance, it looks like there’s some kind of glitch with Google Maps that caused a diner from Las Vegas to appear to be in a town north of Worcester, MA.

But…but…but… Google is infallible, right? Google doesn’t glitch. And its eventual planetary hegemony will be a good and benevolent time for the human race, won’t it?

Of course! Because of this, it is seems rational to entertain the possibility that there has actually been a space-time distortion, and a diner from Nevada now exists in Massachusetts. It raises a lot of questions.

Is Nevada now actually a part of Massachusetts? Is Massachusetts now some kind of geographical bag of holding (or pseudo-science-that’s-actually-magic term that means the same thing) that can contain oversized states from way out west*? How do Massachusetts gambling laws affect the State of Nevada now?

Furthermore, do I still want to stop by this place to grab a bite, knowing that the anomaly could cease and I could be snapped up and transported to Nevada, a place that I imagine as a vast desert crossed by a handful of infinite highways and a splotch of neon-lit gambling?

For someone with an extreme aversion to hot weather (like, over 70 F) and an overblown fear of snakes, the desert is easily the worst place in the world.

Would you dare enter such a diner, knowing the risks?

UPDATE: Driving through Clinton, MA the day after I wrote this post, my partner and I did not see any sign of Lou’s Diner. While it’s possible that we were distracted by talking about the Wachusett Reservoir, or Klingon language issues, it seems just as likely that Lou’s Diner has been returned to Nevada where it belongs.


*I use the term “way out west” to signify the western part of the United States. This is in contrast to the Massachusetts meaning, which may indicate any part of the state west of Worcester.

The list that isn’t a list

20141203_231955People with cats and children have it easy because they always have a fast answer to the question “What’s the one thing you’d save from a burning building?” But I’m so rotten at prioritizing and deciding that I can never come up with an answer to that question. It would be easy if I had a single, sentimental piece of jewelry from a long-dead relative that I was very close to, but I neither have such an item, nor do I actually like jewelry all that much.

One answer would be, “You’re not supposed to take anything with you when you flee a burning building.” A snarkier answer would be, “You chose your cats/children/catchildren, but that’s a plural, so pick your favorite.” But those make for crappy dinner table conversation. No one wants to talk about choosing fire safety over their waffle maker, Star Trek movies on VHS tape, or collection of Chinese food menus.

As I said in “Dungeons and Dragons and Depression” I have too many things I want to do, too many skills I want to develop, and I’m horrible at prioritizing. A few months ago, I had the idea to write up sort of an overview of the month ahead, what things were happening, and what I was prioritizing.

I wish I could say that I came up with the idea of drawing my monthly overview instead of writing it because I’m one of those adorably artistic people who fills sketchbooks with twee people-watching doodles and makes the shopping list they scribbled in the corner of the page look like a work of art because they have artsy, legible-messy handwriting rather than malformed tangles. But honestly, I have a lot of lists, and I couldn’t look at another vertical stack of shit to do.

So I drew diagonal lines, and wrote out the three most important things in the largest letters.

Then I added 13 more things, making 16 total. I told you, I’m bad at prioritizing.

Earlier this month, I made my December list.  I managed to get it down to eight things, which is still not effective prioritizing.  This time, I drew holiday orbs for each item, the biggest one being the most important.  I managed to do everything except the most important orb, which is because I severely overestimated just how bad December was going to be for completing that task (which is a rough draft of a novel).

It might not have been an overwhelming success, but it was progress.  As I think about my New Year’s resolutions and what I did and didn’t do in 2014, I’ll definitely be considering how far I need to go when it comes to prioritizing.

Santa’s little telescreen

Even if the decorations are still up, we’re past the time period when it’s socially acceptable for me to put up a Christmas post.  But does anyone else find the concept of Elf on the Shelf a little sinister? Elf on the Shelf creeps me out, and not just because of its plasticky 1950s smile, or its overall vibe of cutesy, overbearing innocuousness.

The basic idea of Elf on the Shelf is that it’s a minion from Santa, sent into homes during the Christmas season to track children’s behavior. Sure, Santa sees you when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, and probably a lot of other things that aren’t specifically stated in the song.

As a high level wizard, Santa has made it his job to know these things. With all the power at his disposal, he chooses to sit in his fortress at the North Pole, gazing into his crystal ball at children’s behavioral problems and tracking their circadian rhythms.

When I was a kid, if I fought with my brother near Christmas, I would be told to behave because Santa was watching. But that was ok, because I knew that Santa had been watching all year and would account for all data, even if it seemed like my parents weren’t. Santa knew all. He knew when it was really my brother’s fault, which was always.

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The only elf on my shelf.

Santa watches you the way a parent watches you, albeit with better magical surveillance equipment. He’s tall and distant, authoritative yet jolly, a benevolent giver of gifts. He’s part of a long tradition of telling kids to behave because a magical creature will know if they don’t.

Stories about bad things happening to wayward children have been around forever. “Stop your shit, or that fanged shadow-demon-thing in the forest is going to emerge from its lair and harvest your kidneys.” In our consumerist culture, it only makes sense that the horrible, bad thing involves deprivation of material goods.

New traditions appear, and old ones fade away. That can be for the best. Traditions also reflect the culture they come from, which is why I believe it’s worth looking at them with a critical eye and asking if they reflect something good. The story of Santa watching isn’t a perfect one. I’ve already mentioned the consumerist aspect, and those who are so inclined wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find other criticisms as well.

Elf on the Shelf is some combination of a snitch, a security camera, and a telescreen. It looks like a friend, but it’s there to do a job. It will betray you the instant you do something wrong. The intimacy of it, the fact that it’s up on a shelf in the living room, makes all the difference. I’m not exactly losing any sleep over it, but this is the kind of thing I find disturbing at a cultural level. While I don’t have kids, I am still invested in the health of the friendly little surveillance state culture I live in.

So, if you are the type of person who doesn’t take down their decorations until March February January, know that your Elf on the Shelf sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows what you do on St. Patrick’s Day Valentine’s Day Martin Luther King Day, and he watches you watching TV.  And he eats nachos while watching you watching TV, eating nachos.


 

Coincidentally, a friend of mine posted this article about a day or two after I wrote my first draft on this post. At first I thought it was coincidence, but who knows. Maybe she snuck an elf on the shelf into my apartment when she helped us move.