Friday, July 28, 2006

Space Invader

Okay, so maybe I have some personal space issues...

But I've just experienced something that my many years spent sharing this earth with other humans did not prepare me for. Something for which I have no logical explanation.

My daughters had a little "Halloween in July" thing at their camp today. Parents were to report at 11:30 AM for a parade.

(Issues of The Inanity of Costumes in Ninety-plus Degree Weather aside, this is not the illogical event to which the second paragraph of this post alludes.)

I was one of the first parents to arrive at 11:25.

Walking from my car, I saw the portico area by the main entrance was still parent-free, so I decided to christen it with my presence. There were two small wrought iron benches, one on each side of the entrance-way. Feeling like an explorer being the first to plant her flag on a new land, I firmly planted my derriere on one of the benches.

As I put my keys into my purse, I was startled by a dude sitting down next to me. WHAT?

And more importantly "WHY!" when the bench across from us was still so perfectly and pristinely empty. In fact, the entire area was empty. Except for me and the dude sitting way too close to me.

In an instant, I went from comfortably scoring a good parade position to panic. See, if the other bench had been taken, I would have understood. But it was Unoccupied. Vacant. Empty.

So beautifully empty, and singing out its siren call for this dude to sit on it instead of next to me.

Oh yeah, he did happen to have a baby in a carrier on his chest. However, that loophole is not considered legitimate, at least not according to my copy of the Rules of Personal Space. Not when there's a viable seating option a mere two-second stroll away.

He also had a preschool-aged daughter by his side. Who seemed my perfect excuse for escape.

I jumped to my feet -- "Oh, here, let your daughter sit down next to you!"

"Noooo," the guy drawled. "You sit down..."

"Really. It's alright!" I sputtered desperately. "I don't need to sit!"

I tried appealing directly to the little girl, "You can sit down."

But Space Invader persisted. "No, we're okay. You sit."

At this point, it was becoming even more uncomfortable to not sit, so I plunked my butt back down next to him. I believe there was an extremely brief exchange about it being "nice and shady" sitting there on our tiny little bench, after which I quickly transformed myself into a Giant Human Clam.

More and more parents filtered into the area, and I began to purposelessly rearrange the receipts in my purse, in an effort to look busy and nonchalant while sitting two inches from a guy who is weirding me out.

And then his wife walked over. Now I become, in her eyes, the weird chick sitting next to her husband for no apparent reason. I'm just about to ask her if she wants my seat, when her husband volunteers to give up his. "No thanks," she says, "I'd just as soon stand."


Receipts organized, several times over...I find my daughter's Nintendo DS in my purse and discretely play Brain Academy (hiding the game inside the cloth interior) until the parade begins.

Hurray! Photography is my excuse to leap up and gracefully distance myself from my bench interloper.

The Mid-Summer Halloween Parade, in all its sweaty glory!

It all ends as quickly as it began -- but even an hour later, safely at home, I'm still not over my freaked-out-ness.

However, a Snickers bar helped, at least a little. My girls know it's in their best interest to share, or else Mommy can be very, very cranky...

The Space Invader's behavior continues to perplex me. Was there a higher power at work in his choice of seating? Did I actually look friendly? (Must work on that!)

The image I try to project, as depicted by our younger Halloweener.

Was this dude a stranger from another land? (He did seem to have a bit of a southern drawl...) Was he high? (Yeah, I like that one, at least for its anarchist bent.) Was it all absolutely and entirely random?

Somebody needs to tell this guy that there has to be a certain order in the universe for things to run smoothly. Even the lowliest Septa commuter is aware of this -- you simply do not sit next to someone when there's an empty seat nearby.

Because we all need our little invisible force fields to keep out the "others" and protect us from scary stuff, like actually having to talk to other suburban parents.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Hey, have you heard...?

...It's been a tad hot outside lately.

A very funny take on the media heatwave overkill today in Tom Ferrick Jr.'s Philadelphia Inquirer column. Please enjoy with my compliments.

The most absurd thing I saw on yesterday's "IT'S HOT! IT'S REALLY HOT!!!" coverage was on Channel 10 -- a reporter (I believe it was Vince DeMentri, but the excessive heat was making me delirious, so I can't be sure) doing a stand-up outside in the afternoon heat. Reporter asked the cameraman to zoom in to show the wet spots developing on front of his polo shirt.

You mean -- television reporters sweat in 100-degree weather? Holy Breaking News, Batman! This is quite a revelation.

Where would we be without TV to enlighten us about the wonders of the world?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Inside the Mind of a Six-Year-Old

During lunch last week, my six-year-old (oops, six-and-three-quarters-year-old) asked me an out-of-the-blue question:

"Mom, if you lose your voice, can you still talk in your mind?"

"Yes," said I.

"Good," said Little Miss Deep Thinker.

The next day -- more than 24-hours later -- she stops on the couch mid-jump and asks me, "When you were little, did you talk to yourself?"


"Aaaargh! I'm becoming Mommy already!!!"

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Refreshing Taste of Wood Rosin (and Other Beverage Tangents)

It was a combination of nostalgia, curiosity, and a really good sale that prompted me to purchase a 12-pk of Fresca Peach Citrus soda.

It was only after I had downed a can that I read the side panel and noticed this beverage contained "Glycerol Ester of Wood Rosin."

(Yeah, the Curse of Blogspot put my photo in sideways...I'm too tired to care...tilt your head to the right and it'll look perfectly normal...)

Rosin? The only rosin I'm familiar with is that used on violin bows. And frankly, I never looked at a musician rosining a bow and thought, "Mmmm, that looks tasty!"

So I did a little googling and found a couple studies...

"...wood rosin that is harvested from the stumps of longleaf pine..and purified to a beverage-grade ester gum."

Well, gee, when you put it like that, it does seem much more deletable!

I won't bore you with scientific jargon, but my non-scientific summary is that the glycerol ester of wood rosin is used to suspend citrus oils in beverage.

There have been studies on rats that indicate that this additive passes through the system without being absorbed.

(Note to those who like to complain about their jobs: It could be worse -- you could be analyzing rat poo for a living.)

Even though it appears that the FDA has signed off on adding wood rosin to one's diet, I don't think I'll be sending on the journey through my digestive tract with any regularity.

But I have to admit I liked the flavor combination of Fresca grapefruit and peach. However, my taste in beverages may be somewhat unique...


All this soda analysis got me thinking about Epcot's Ice Station Cool. My little family group probably went through that faux iceberg four or five times when we were at Disney World last year.

Hot temps + Free Soda = Cyn drinking many, many tiny cups of Beverly.

Yes, I am the only human in North America who actually likes, nay, loves that infamous beverage.

(If you search the web for Beverly images, you will find many like this.)

But here I am, with my hands literally full of the stuff.

It could be because I'm half Italian, or it could be because my Holy Trinity of Condiments (wasabi, tabasco, jalapeno) has effectively annihilated my taste buds. But I wish I had an ice cold can of Beverly right now to wash the taste of...


...McDonald's Hazelnut Iced Coffee out of my mouth.

Esteemed husband and I tried out this new McD beverage tonight. It may be that the seemingly confused minimum wage worker didn't have the recipe down right, but it was the most VILE java beverage I have ever consumed. Well, attempted to consume. Neither of us could manage to actually drink it -- it was sickeningly sweet with very little coffee flavor.

I considered complaining, but without the caffeine I had been hoping to ingest, I just didn't have the energy.

McD's is giving out free samples of the iced coffee starting tomorrow -- I'd love to hear if anyone else taste-tests it. I'm just pissed we had to pay for it.

But I suppose this is my payback for all the free Beverly.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

My blogging is bound to be eratic now that my urchins are out of school and gracing me with their joyous whining 24/7.

So, it is in this spirit that I direct you to check out the website (and trailer) for the Richard Linklater film A Scanner Darkly.

If the website is any indication, the film is pretty darn cool -- although these appearances can be deceiving.

The animation over live action process has always thrown me off a bit...but it appears to fit the subject matter very well in this case.

There are a whole mess of interesting features on the movie website -- I'd go into more detail, but that would negate my whole goal of a quick, easy post, wouldn't it?

There's a MySpace page too, which I haven't had a chance to explore at this point.

The film goes into limited release tomorrow, with a more extensive release next Friday.