Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Yesterday I saw a guy pedaling along on recumbent bicycle, yawning.

Yo Momma

My mom's hilarity really only manifests itself vocally, so sadly I have nothing to contribute to Postcards from Yo Momma, but that is probably for the best, because even though these moms come across as endearing, they also sound totally nuts. Last night I had a dream that my mom was publicly mocking me for everything I did, so I really don't even want to think about pissing her off right now.

Also, the other night I made baked ziti and garlic bread and roasted asparagus with parmesan and roasted carrots with an olive tapenade that I whipped up at the very last minute because Hartz left a bush-sized clump of fresh parsley in our fridge, and what the hell are you supposed to do with parsley other than get it stuck between your teeth? Make an olive tapenade, that's what. And then there were chocolate cupcakes that resulted in a seriously tasty mess.

Yo momma.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Yay for rot!

I just bought a composter! I am super pumped to turn all of our veggie castoffs into food for our plants. The thing has a spout for "compost tea", which is so nasty it's exciting. Supposedly this is an odorless process, but I am highly dubious.

Skiing Fail

I love The FAIL Blog. It was pretty much the centerpiece of family dinner this weekend, and for good reason. I made this one for the friend who introduced me to it.

One of those weekends

Usually the debauchery of weekend evenings is evened out by the Healthy Lifestyle I live by day; not so this weekend. Friday night, friends had an art show, and there was an after party that involved lots of wine drunk straight out of the bottle, burritos, and the cops threatening to bust the shindig up, high school-style. It ended with five of us having to walk several blocks back to my car; out of the five, only two (myself and Scrambly) were sober. The other three were falling down, vomiting, and speaking gibberish all over the place. I have no idea how this happened.

But! The art was pretty,
everyone had fun, and I got everyone home safely. The highlight of the night (for me) was when a stretch limo pulled up to us at a red light, just as a friend started heaving out of my rear window. The driver looked at her, then looked at me; I smiled and gave the thumb's up, as if to say, "No worries. Her insides are on the outside of my car, true, but she will be a-ok." He bounced his fist against his heart in solidarity.

Then the next day we had to scrub down the side of my car.

Saturday night's family dinner was, as a result, a subdued affair. We did manage to make a huge amount of tomato sauce from scratch, green beans, brussel sprouts, chocolate-covered strawberries, and crepes with nutella. Stuff I Eat! And it was good.

But back to our not-healthy days. Mike currently has sinuses that make him snore like an old man, so he is less than super perky. So instead of our normal hiking or biking excursion, we joined friends at Chrissy Field, sat in the sun, and flew kites. I got a hint of sunburn on the fleshy part above my knees that is going to look super gross when I am an old lady, and that made me pleased.

Sunday we went to Goodwill, where I got a badass wrought iron thing with lots of hooks that now hold all my necklaces. It! Is! Great! If I could just be a professional organizer, I would be very happy. I would have a business card that just said "Organizer", and people would look at me in awe when I gave it to them. Who doesn't like organization, right? And not only that, but I am not even anal retentive - I believe deeply in baskets. Baskets are where you can throw shit and still have it be neat; so long as they are thematic (for example, we have a Technology Basket with wires and headphones and batteries and shit), you are good to go.

Oh my god, I need to focus. Plants. Mike and I bought lots of plants on Sunday - seeds and dirt and already-grown plants that will provide us with vegetables and flowers and better air quality. I am pretty sure if I am in charge of them they will die soon, but luckily I am not, and soon we will be eating tomatoes we grew on a San Francisco fire escape. Yee haw.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Knife Fight.

I just saw a guy with his entire arm and hand in a cast. All that was written on it was KNIFE FIGHT.

I also saw a sizable group of my fellow employees playing what looked like Steal the Bacon.

And I am tipsy, as I am every Friday at this time, since my employer started giving me alcohol at 4:30.

Stuff I Eat

I recognize that this is self-indulgent, yet I continue.

Last night - I baked a fake turkey roast that was made of some not-soy product (mushroom-based, I think), roasted garlic, and puree sunchoke and carrots with garlic. Steamed up some broccoli, and ate it all with sourdough bread.

Lunch today - I don't eat a lot of meat, but they had baby back ribs in the cafe today and I just cannot turn those down. Also had potato salad with artichokes, and blue cheese coleslaw. May hit up the dessert "pizza" - sugar cookie crust, icing, and glazed fruit. Nommmmmm.

The New York Times is pushing me over the edge

I usually avoid their movie reviews (I prefer to read the Real Estate section articles on rich people who pay a ridiculous amount for housing and call it a "find"), but I read this one because it was, you know, about Tina Fey.

Baby Mama Review

The last line (emphasis mine): "Real funny women...come along every few decades, so the timing seems right."


Thursday, April 24, 2008


I am on the work shuttle, and these two dudes are discussing stocks. I know they don't know what they're talking about because they keep repeating the same phrases.

"They have big margins."
"They do? Really? Big margins?"
"Yeah, totally big."
"You know who has big margins? Apple."
"Oh my god, I bet they do, I bet they have huge margins."

I was about to plug in my earbuds when Doofus One or Doofus Two ACTUALLY SAID, "You know what man? I don't know what I'm talking about."

And then you know what he did? He repeated it.

Angry groupie.

Last night my boyfriend played a show at a bar that was too big for its own good - like, you would need to have an agent and a tour bus and a record contract to have enough attention to fill that place up. But there was a good amount of people there, and most of them were batshit crazy. That was my impression, anyway.

Aside from the people we know, who are all pretty much off their rockers, there was a frat boy with dreds who yelled out "Freebird!" while Mike was rocking out. Awesome. Also there were a bunch of middle-aged men who straight up videotaped a set by this girl group from L.A. Those girls have a lot of angst, and I understand, because I would too if a dude in a hockey jersey was all up in my shit with a camcorder.

There was also a guy in a blazer and jeans and date rape shoes who was dancing around like a nutbar. My friend and I had a bet as to whether the blazer was velvet or corduroy - my friend was brave and got close enough to Nutbar to report back that it was velvet. I won the bet, but in the end, I think we all lost.

Also my friend showed up wasted with the guy she is now dating, and they made out a lot, but that was ok. I was supposed to tape the show with Mike's digital audio recorder, and somehow I messed up, and that was not ok. But you know what? Oh well! Because in this rock and roll lifestyle, you just gotta roll with the punches, baby.

Stuff I Eat.

I saw a foodie blog where the chick kept track of everything she ate. I don't want to do that, because it would probably make me depressed, but I do get to eat some neat stuff. Aside from breakfast, that is - I am very not into breakfast. I eat cereal because every nutritionist on earth says you have to have the first meal of the day blah, but I really don't get why people are so into the kinds of greasy, heavy, ok-on-weekends-but-not-every-day type stuff that is breakfast food. Fried is not my friend.

But I digress. I am really into food, and I am working on becoming a better cook. So here's what I've had in the last 24 hours or so:
Last night - Escargots en brioche with garlic butter (as a warmup for 3 vodka red bulls and a few Buds. Barf, right?). I got this shit at Trader Joe's, and it was deeeelish.
Today - Spinach salad with blue cheese, strawberries, carrots, beets, cucumbers, candied walnuts, and poppy seed- yogurt dressing. Tomato bisque. Home- (i.e. cafe-) made mint chocolate chip ice cream.

And tonight I'm cooking! And opening a bottle of wine we got in Sonoma! Yippee!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Try It.

In uploading my photos from Austin, I remembered a game that two crazy girls there taught me. Actually, it is not so much a game as an exploitation of a latent vulnerability in the human psyche. Take an object - a pen, an ashtray, a chewed piece of gum - and hand it to someone while saying their name. They will invariably take it, and then be confused. When they ask you what they're supposed to do with it, you get to laugh at their expense.

My only worry is that this might work well in places such as Texas and California, but might not work on the east coast north of DC, where I am imagining that saying "Nicole" and trying to hand Nicole a dirty tissue might just get you a dirty look.

These are the things that happen when you ramp up out of a hangover straight into giant margaritas.

Friday, April 18, 2008


When I first moved to California, it was to help out on my friend's organic farm and to get to know the West Coast. Lots of Wellesley ladies were living in San Francisco, so I decided to sublet a room and see how I liked it. I wound up moving in with two Texans named Mike and Michael. They had two lady cats, named The Baroness von Esmeralda von Scratchenpurr XIV(XIIII?) and Beans. Mike is now my R4L (roommate for life i.e. boyfriend) and Ezzie is now my cat. This is Ezzie on our fire escape.If she were a normal cat I would say that she looks like she is Up to No Good, but Ezzie is the least adventurous cat around so she is probably just Anxious.

Anyway, last weekend we went to Austin to spend some time with Mike's friends, including our old roommate Michael. When Michael moved back to Texas two years ago, he took Ezzie's sister-from-another-mother Beans with him. This was a sad day for the Breckis (this is what we call ourselves when we are trying to be family-ish), and for me in particular, because I liked to think that Beans and I shared a similar tomboyish spirit and disdain for strict interpretations of the gender binary. And last weekend, Beans and I were reunited! Here she is, obviously thrilled.
It was so good to see her! And to see Michael, too. And to be in Austin, which Mike things represents the highest heights of citytude, and which I think is pleasant and full of people who crack my shit up.

I also went outside. In New York, I mean.

I did some other things in New York, too. I saw a lot of people I wanted to see, but didn't see some people that I wanted to see. Those that I did see joined me in eating rich foods and drinking dehydrating beverages such as red wine.

My friends are all grownups with jobs and apartments, which is weird to see. Even though I am now a grownup too, I didn't really expect it to happen to us so soon. Here are some of the fields in which my friends work:
  • theater
  • fashion
  • finance
  • real estate
That is all so very New York! I really cannot say I like New York very much (even though I am a product of its loins, or whatever), but I do like the people that are there.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Here is what I did in New York

Well, one of the things I did in New York. To optimize our intensive catch-up time, Morgan and I cloistered ourselves in my hotel room, drank red wine, and had a prop-tastic good time. For the record, I remember very little of this.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Taking suggestions

For the official product blog at work, I have volunteered to write a few posts in the next month or so. I am very open to suggestions here - I need to write a few paragraphs about any topic I want, and link to books as references. I got nothing so far.

Stream of consciousness is not working. Animals? Mammals? Marsupials? Koalas? Lima-bean size babies? Imagining what it would be like to fry up a batch of baby koalas? Maybe I shouldn't have offered to be the hero here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

He is gonna throw up on you; or, I love weddings

I don't know if it is because both sides of my family are heavy drinkers or just completely nuts, but family parties are really fun. Last weekend my cousin got married again to the same lady (there was a justice of the peace wedding in November while she was very pregnant). Gussos + lots of New York firemen = big crazy party.

Some highlights:
  • The underly-emotive best man (also my cousin, and also a firefighter) gave the greatest speech in the history of wedding speeches. It lasted less than 3 minutes, started with a compliment that stemmed from him picturing us in our underwear, and ended with, "So Amanda, if you're ever in a boat with Doug, fishing or whatever, watch out, because he is gonna throw up on you."
  • The bride and groom TOTALLY MADE OUT during their first dance.
  • My aunt did the worm on the floor, and, along with my 11 year old cousin, knew every word to the nasty ass rap songs that I thought were kind of awkward to play at a wedding.
  • My other aunt, who smoked from ages 15 to 68 and who two years ago couldn't get out of her car without gasping, danced her booty off all night. My mom, who has some foot issue going on, got intoxicated enough that she too could dance her booty off.
  • We had drinking races out of the centerpieces, and did a group round of Kamikaze shots. If you think this is weird, you are clearly not a Gusso.
  • My uncle only tortured my boyfriend for being a hippie for a little while.
  • We told stories about my grandma, but so far as I know, no one cried. That's a first time, folks!
  • I found out I really like my cousin's new husband, whom I judge harshly because he is a 23 year old mortician. She, however, is a straight rugby player, so I guess you never really know.
  • At the end of the night, we made the bartenders honorary Gussos. They then gave us bottles of beer to take back to our hotel room.
  • My boyfriend and I shared said hotel room with my little brother, and no one was overtly skeeved out.

Reminiscence Challenge, Uno

Nicole just wants to know me.

Or at least she did way back when she first requested childhood stories. God knows I have plenty of anecdotes, but nothing particularly pithy or illuminating - or at least I'd prefer to think that they are not illuminating.

In mentioning my Reese's Peanut Butter Cup nightmares in a previous post, though, I realized this is a good chance to explain exactly how much of a wuss I was. Am. Whatever.

When I was a kid, Reese's had an advertising campaign highlighting the individuality and ingenuity of Peanut Butter Cup eaters. Some people nibbled around the edges, some people poked a hole in the middle (definitely the best way), some people put that shit on ice and skated on it.

In the one I remember most vividly, the peanut butter cup is sitting there, all intact and delicious. The lights go off, then on again - and there are two holes in the middle of the cup.

Vampire voiceover, in a cheesy Transylvanian accent: "I like to eat the peanut butter first."

That was the line that spawned a thousand nightmares - months of gory, disgusting, crawl-into-bed-with-mom-and-dad nightmares. In one, vampires swooped down from the sky, fangs bared; I remember taking cover next to a peanut butter cup-shaped rock which wound up with bite marks in it. In another, there was a vampire locked in our guest room that I knew, someday somehow some way, would escape and suck my blood.

I also could not eat peanut butter cups anymore.

The weird thing was that I had never been freaked out vampires before. Everything else yes, but vampires, not really - too campy. I also like to draw a connection to the fact that my nightmares are still horrific, and are still sparked by things so stupid that I get absolutely no sympathy when I tell people about them. So screw you, Reese's. Screw you.

Monday, April 14, 2008


I got two job offers in the same week in February, and the one I turned down was as an assistant (not of the administrative or personal type) to this guy. I'm happy where I am now, but it sure sucked to turn that down.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

For AHall

This book will soon be available on Google Book Search:

Let's Quilt Wyoming and Stuff It Topographically!

When it is, I may buy it for you.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Nom nom nom New York

The food here is even better than in Mountain View! They've got a raw bar (veggies, that is - not seafood), a "spa" menu (yeah lentils), a gorgeous salad bar, and there's a view of the Empire State Building out the cafe window. Lordy, I'm in heaven.

My menu for today: Hummus & Toasted Pita; Port Wine Reduced Mushrooms; Sesame Watermelon; Chayote & Fennel Salad; Swiss Chard, Beets, Spiced Walnut Salad; Baked Mac and Cheese; Jumbo Lump Crab Cake Sliders; Thai Salmon Ceviche.

I didn't have any dessert, but there was an assortment. Happy, happy belly.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

McShane saw this, and thought of me.


I might be offended if I didn't love that website with all my fuzzy-animal-squeezing soul.

BSG, meet Sigma Kappa Phi

Overheard in the women's locker room at work, 8:45 this morning:

"Isn't it messed up how when Lee wakes up, she's gone, and married to Anders?"
"I mean, I guess..."
"You guess? It's totally messed up!"
"Well, she was drunk, Jackie."
"So? Don't even try to justify it. God, I couldn't believe it. But it was so hot when they boxed."
"It was totally hot. Poor Dee, though."
"Whatever. Kara Thrace is the best."
"She rocks."

They went on to debate the hotness of Gaius Baltar and what they would do if they accidentally got knocked up by a cylon. I remember when my love for Battlestar Galactica made me an easy target for ridicule, and now it is beloved of girls who wear makeup to work out.

On a side note, I heard an interview with an astronaut in which she pointed out that the fighter jets on BSG might as well be big blocky cubes, since you don't need your planes to be aerodynamic when there's no atmosphere. To which I say, whatever - Vipers are pointy and awesome and in the future paper has its corners cut off and when people want to curse they say "frak". So there.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Another one from my father.

My dad is really into Castor canadensis right now.

Beaver (Castor canadensis) Lore
Recipents: myself, my brother
Content (edited for a modicum of brevity):

A number of items relating to beavers recently crossed my path. Since I'm taking a break from painting I thought that I would impose them on you.

1) Recently while walking along the Millstone river a beaver was kind enough to swim around in front of me for about 10 minutes. Not sure if he was fishing or just having fun - lots of splashing. Didn't have my camera. They have chopped down 10 trees along this section of the river. Mom is convinced that they will dam the river and the water will back up and flood our basement.

2) The next day I found this little critter's skull along the river.

3) One of our contacts in upstate Pa (Damascus) sent this item re: beaver dams. This is an actual letter sent to a man regarding a pond on his property. It was sent by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Quality.

SUBJECT: DEQ File No.97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec 20; Lycoming County

It has come to the attention of the Department of Environmental Quality that there has been recent unauthorized activity on the above referenced parcel of property. You have been certified as the legal landowner and/or contractor who did the following unauthorized activity: Construction and maintenance of two wood debris dams across the outlet stream of Spring Pond. A permit must be issued prior to the start of this type of activity.

A review of the Department's files shows that no permits have been issued. Therefore, the Department has determined that this activity is in violation of Part 301, Inland Lakes and Streams, of the Natural Resource and Environmental Protection Act, Act 451 of the Public Acts of 1994, being sections 324.30101 to 324.30113 of the Pennsylvania Compiled Laws, annotated.

The Department has been informed that one or both of the dams partially failed during a recent rain event, causing debris and flooding at downstream locations. We find that dams of this nature are inherently hazardous and cannot be permitted. The Department therefore orders you to cease and desist all activities at this location, and to restore the stream to a free-flow condition by removing all wood and brush forming the dams from the stream channel.

Please notify this office when the restoration has been completed so that a follow-up site inspection may be scheduled by our staff. Failure to comply with this request or any further unauthorized activity on the site may result in this case being referred for elevated enforcement action.
We anticipate and would appreciate your full cooperation in this matter. Please feel free to contact me at this office if you have any questions.

Re: DEQ File No. 97-59-0023; T11N; R10W, Sec. 20; Lycoming County

I am the legal landowner but not the Contractor at 2088 Dagget Lane, Trout Run, Pennsylvania. A couple of beavers are in the (State unauthorized) process of constructing and maintaining two wood "debris" dams across the outlet stream of my Spring Pond. While I did not pay for, authorize, nor supervise their dam project, I think they would be highly offended that you call their skillful use of natures building materials "debris."

I would like to challenge your department to attempt to emulate their dam project any time and/or any place you choose. I believe I can safely state there is no way you could ever match their dam skills, their dam resourcefulness, their dam ingenuity, their dam persistence, their dam determination and/or their dam work ethic.
As to your request, I do not think the beavers are aware that they must first fill out a dam permit prior to the start of this type of dam activity.

My first dam question to you is: (1) Are you trying to discriminate against my Spring Pond Beavers, or (2) do you require all beavers throughout this State to conform to said dam request?

If you are not discriminating against these particular beavers, through the Freedom of Information Act, I request completed copies of all those other applicable beaver dam permits that have been issued. I have several dam concerns. My first dam concern is, aren't the beavers entitled to legal representation? The Spring Pond Beavers are financially destitute and are unable to pay for said representation -- so the State will have to provide them with a dam lawyer.

If you want the dammed stream "restored" to a dam free-flow condition please contact the beavers, but if you are going to arrest them, they obviously did not pay any attention to your dam letter, they being unable to read English.

In conclusion, I would like to bring to your attention to a real environmental quality/ health problem in the area. It is the bears! Bears are actually defecating in our woods. I believe you should be persecuting the defecating bears and leave the beavers alone. If you are going to investigate the beaver dam, watch your dam step! The bears are not careful where they dump!

Thank you.

Well - back to painting.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

More than just hyphy

Mike's new radio show has arrived, chock full of San Francisco indie goodness.

I love this stuff!

Happy April Fool's Day, folks! These will only be up today, alas.

From us:

From other products:
Custom Time emails
Google goes to Mars
Calendar as alarm clock. You can also add an event to your Calendar and hit "I'm feeling lucky" to be assigned a random appointment - in my case, a date with George W.
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