Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Overheard in a Portland Halloween store...

[Customer, standing next to table full of sundry fake body parts]: Do you have any arms that aren't bloody?

Where are the vampires when you need 'em?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween party pics!

I just got back from a weekend in CA -- still recovering from lack o' sleep, so this will be brief. Tony and I went down for a Halloween party hosted by my old friend John, who really knows how to do Halloween right (Dude! Your decorations are amazing. I bow in your general direction.) The party was a blast, and it seemed like everyone had a camera, so I didn't take as many pics as I usually do. But here are a few:

Tony and me:
Tony and me

John and Tony:
John and Tony

Kristy and Matt, looking elegant:

The whole gang (and *why* can't I ever keep my eyes open for pictures??):

Tony, Kristy, me, Matt (and scary skeleton dude in the background):

You'd think I could at least write some funny captions for these, but I'm not awake enough yet. Maybe after mainlining a little more caffeine, my synapses will start firing. But for now, this is as good as it gets.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

More pictures from Camp Magruder

I've been without reliable internet access at home since last week, so I haven't been able to post much. My connection still isn't right, so I'm posting from work.

I'm posting another batch of pictures from the church retreat at Camp Magruder a couple weeks ago. Camp Magruder is a Methodist camp on a spit of sand between the Pacific Ocean and a small freshwater lake. The pics below are of the lake, taken at about 9 am. The morning light brings out reflections in the lake's surface.

Similar scene in black and white:


Black and white boathouse:

Dontcha just want to dip a paddle in the water?

While I was at camp, I acquired a new nickname: The Donkey Whisperer. One of the camp donkeys, Jonah, has quit giving rides or cooperating with his handlers much. No one's quite sure what his problem is. Anyway, after watching two of the camp staff try to get him to walk, I wandered over for a closer look. Jonah walked right up to me and started nuzzling me. And I thought my ability to attract asses was limited to human males! So I hung out with Jonah for awhile. When the other donkeys headed out for their walk, each carrying a small child, I decided to see if Jonah would join the parade. With a little encouragement, he fell into line with the others and started walking. The camp staff were stunned, since Jonah had refused to walk for any of them in quite some time. I had a little trouble getting him to quit eating seaweed on the beach, but otherwise he was quite well-behaved. Go figure.

Here's a pic of Jonah and me, two asses on the beach:

And yeah, there are probably quite a few more ass jokes to be made at my expense. Bring 'em on!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Spam for dumb people

Today's funny spam subject line:

Not for oversmart people

All together now: Duh!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sunset on the Oregon Coast

I spent this past weekend at Camp Magruder, a Methodist camp on the Oregon Coast, for our annual church retreat. Even though I was one of the organizers, I still had lots of time to relax, explore camp, and chitchat with other attendees. And the weather was perfect. That last sentence deserves a bit more emphasis:

The. Weather. Was. Perfect.

It was mid-October on the Oregon coast, and we had clear skies and sunshine the entire time we were there. Trust me, folks: that never happens. Ever. There must be a disruption in the space-time continuum.

I'll scatter pics from the trip over the next few blog posts. Let's start with pictures of the sunset Friday night:





Monday, October 15, 2007

You're never too young...

While shopping for Halloween costume accessories today, i ran across this gem of a product, the Little Vampire Pacifier:
Little Vampire pacifier

Words fail me.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Halloween pumpkin fun

I have nothing useful to say today. But since a blog is a terrible thing to waste, I'll post something anyway. I've been getting into the Halloween spirit lately, so I thought I'd post a few pics from last year to get things going.

Meet Hugo. Apparently there are professional pumpkin carvers out there who use various kinds of power saws to make sculptures (albeit temporary ones) out of giant pumpkins. I saw this one in our local mall and thought it was cool, so I snapped a pic of it with my cellphone:
Then I decided it would look better without the mall as a backdrop, so I loaded it into The Gimp and gave it a black background. Much better. And we named him Hugo.

Tony's evil jack o' lantern
Tony's 2006 jack o' lantern

Jerry's jack o' lantern, which I find disturbing for some reason
Jerry's 2006 jack o' lantern

And, of course, my infamous puking pumpkin. May it be a lesson to all squash who are considering mixing candy corn and tequila. Just say no.
Janet's puking pumpkin

So what are you, dear readers, doing for Halloween this year? Yes, that is a shameless troll for comments :-)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My sleepers, a/k/a stuff I like that almost no one else has heard of

A counterpoint to the "stuff everyone else likes but I don't" meme, this post lists things I love that lots of people don't know about. I hope you bloggers out there will give this meme a try. Share those great local restaurants, little-known bands, weird indie films, or whatever else comes to mind.


  • Burgerville: OK, Northwesterners all know about Burgerville, but you poor saps in other parts of the country don't know what you're missing. So I'll tell you. Burgerville is a fast food place here in the Northwest that serves locally-grown, sustainably-harvested stuff that's absolutely delicious. The halibut fish and chips are to die for! They also have seasonal specialties like strawberry shortcake and sweet potato fries. If you're ever in the Portland area, do yourself a favor and find a Burgerville. But call me first, because I want to come too.
  • El Pollo Loco: Back in my starving student days, I used to stop by El Pollo Loco in Stockton to get a side of tortillas and salsa for $.50 on my way home from school. Cheap and good. Now that I'm an Established Adult, I can afford their chicken too (grilled--yum--with good side dishes), but I still love the tortillas and salsa. I've been known to drag my family miles out of the way to find one of these when we go to California. I wish they'd expand into the Northwest.
  • Typhoon: Best Thai food this side of Bankok! Typhoon is a local Thai chain with locations in the Portland area and Seattle. If you don't live here, it's worth the price of a plane ticket just to eat there. Try the pa nang curry, and round off your meal with espresso creme brulee for dessert. *Sigh* -- is it dinner time yet?


  • Lesser-known Def Leppard stuff: Sure, everyone's heard "Pour Some Sugar on Me" approximately 2 billion times, but have you heard anything they released after about 1992? If not, you're missing out. Some of their live acoustic stuff is great, and Slang (their 1996 album with a 90s sound) is simply amazing. For more recent stuff, check out Yeah!, their album of glam rock covers that was released last year. Great stuff!
  • Eric Martin: Remember that cute little ditty from the early 90s, "To Be With You?" That was Mr. Big, with Eric Martin on lead vocals. No one this side of Tokyo heard much of them after that (too bad), but there's more to Eric than just that song. The Eric Martin Band's 1983 release, Sucker for a Pretty Face, has some great tunes on it, both rockers and ballads. And some of his more recent stuff is good too. Mostly I just love his voice, even in that dumb Corn Nuts commercial he did a decade or so ago.
  • John Waite's cover of "Whenever You Come Around," which was originally done by Vince Gill. I loved Vince's version, but combine an amazing song with John Waite's voice, and I could listen to it all day. I got to hear John Waite sing it during a live appearance at a local record store a few years ago. Simply wonderful.


  • Tundra: As I mentioned in a couple of my Alaska travelogues, Husband and I discovered Tundra while in Alaska. The cartoonist is an Alaskan, and the strip is self-syndicated. Do yourself a favor and check it out. It's as good as The Far Side, maybe better.


  • Almost Live: Back in the early 90s, KING TV in Seattle produced a sketch comedy show called Almost Live. It came on just before Saturday Night Live and was recorded earlier the same evening in front of a live studio audience. The show was hilarious! The only cast member who ever became really well-known was Bill Nye the Science Guy (who played a superhero called Speed Walker, among other things). Hubby and I used to go to tapings whenever we could. Almost Live is no more, but it lives on in that wonderful archive of old video, YouTube. Here are a few of the better sketches:

    Worst Girlfriend in the World

    The Lame List (featuring at least one member of Soundgarden)

    The Male Clinic (correcting all sorts of male bad habits)

    Mind Your Manners with Billy Quan, who shows us what happens to rude people in the library (ah... if only...)

    And finally, Seattle Summer. There's no embed option for this one, so you'll have to follow the link to watch it. See for yourself why Seattle people are so depressed.

    Want more? Just search YouTube for "Almost Live."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Top Unread Books on LibraryThing

Here's a fun, bookish meme, perfect for a librarian and former English lit major like me. Grabbed from Libwitch

These are the top 106 books most often marked as "unread" by LibraryThing's users. Bold what you have read, italicize what you started but couldn't finish, and strike through what you couldn't stand. The numbers after each one are the number of LT users who used the tag of that book.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (149)
Anna Karenina (132) Loved it! Just a big, long, Russian soap opera. I have fond memories of reading it while sitting under the trees at UOP.
Crime and punishment (121) Depressing, of course.
Catch-22 (117) ROTFL.
One Hundred Years of Solitude (115)
Wuthering Heights (110)
The Silmarillion (104)
Life of Pi: a novel (94)
The Name of the Rose (91)
Don Quixote (91) Not as good as I'd hoped.
Moby Dick (86) Generations of high school students are right--booorrrinnnggggg....
Ulysses (84) Sorry, just couldn't deal with it. And since it wasn't assigned reading, I saw no reason to prolong my suffering.
Madame Bovary (83) Another soap opera and more evidence that human nature is constant across both time and space.
The Odyssey (83)
Pride and Prejudice (83)
Jane Eyre (80) Loved it.
A Tale of Two Cities (80) One of my favorites! And it's about time I read it again.
The Brothers Karamazov (80)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies (79)
War and Peace (78) Good, but Anna Karenina was better. Tolstoy could have cut about 200 pages by condensing the long descriptions of military tactics in the battle scenes.
Vanity Fair (74) Required reading in my English novel class in college. For the most part, I really enjoyed it. Gotta love those big Victorian soap operas...er, I mean novels.
The Time Traveler's Wife (73)
The Iliad (73)
Emma (73)
The Blind Assassin (73)
The Kite Runner (71)
Mrs. Dalloway (70) Oh, deliver me from stream of consciousness writing! Ugh. Another assignment, this time for an English novel class, and I hated it.
Great Expectations (70) Hated it in 9th grade, loved it as an adult. Dickens rocks!
American gods (68)
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (67)
Atlas shrugged (67)
Reading Lolita in Tehran : A Memoir in Books (66)
Memoirs of a Geisha (66) OK, I think I'm the only woman on the planet that read this and didn't like it. I didn't hate it, but I really didn't like it.
Middlesex (66)
Quicksilver (66)
Wicked : The Llife and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (65)
The Canterbury tales (64) Love 'em.
The Historian : A Novel (63).
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (63)
Love in the Time of Cholera (62)
Brave New World (61)
The Fountainhead (61)
Foucault's Pendulum (61)
Middlemarch (61) Another big ol' Victorian novel I read in college. Good stuff.
Frankenstein (59) I love horror, but I couldn't get into Frankenstein. I think it's because I found it so depressing. I felt sorry for the monster, didn't want to read about his suffering, and thought the doctor was cruel.
The Count of Monte Cristo (59)
Dracula (59)
A Clockwork Orange (59)
Anansi Boys (58)
The Once and Future King (57)
The Grapes of Wrath (57) Terribly depressing but incredible. I found this one especially interesting, because my father's family came to California during the Dust Bowl migrations. Dad talked a lot about going to bed hungry and eating beans night after night, but he didn't talk much about the rest of the experience.
The Poisonwood Bible : A Novel (57)
1984 (57) Chilling.
Angels & Demons (56) I really want to finish this one. I got about halfway through and got distracted. Not as good as the Da Vinci Code, but good.
The Inferno (56)
The Satanic Verses (55)
Sense and Sensibility (55)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (55)
Mansfield Park (55)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (54) Truly chilling.
To the Lighthouse (54)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (54) Loved it. Almost as good as Jude the Obscure. The Victorians had some fascinating and frightening views on sexuality. Makes me glad I live now.
Oliver Twist (54)
Gulliver's travels (53)
Les Misérables (53) Another one I need to finish someday.
The Corrections (53)
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (52)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (52)
Dune (51)
The Prince (51)
The Sound and the Fury (51)
Angela's Ashes : A Memoir (51)
The God of Small Things (51)
A People's History of the United States : 1492-present (51)
Cryptonomicon (50)
Neverwhere (50)
A Confederacy of Dunces (50)
A Short History of Nearly Everything (50)
Dubliners (50)
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (49)
Beloved (49)
Slaughterhouse-Five (49)
The Scarlet Letter (48) Incredible.
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (48) Should be mandatory reading for every middle school student. Why are otherwise-intelligent people baffled by the apostrophe?
The Mists of Avalon (47)
Oryx and Crake : A Novel (47)
Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (47)
Cloud Atlas (47)
The Confusion (46)
Lolita (46)
Persuasion (46)
Northanger Abbey (46)
The Catcher in the Rye (46)
On the Road (46)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (45)
Freakonomics : A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (45) - I really want to read this.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : An Inquiry Into Values (45)
The Aeneid (45)
Watership Down (44)
Gravity's rainbow (44)
The Hobbit (44)
In Cold Blood : A True Account of a Multiple Murder and Its Consequences (44)
White Teeth (44)
Treasure Island (44)
David Copperfield (44) I recommend reading this one while curled up in front of a crackling fire, with a steaming mug of cocoa close by.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

My hometown on Flickr

So I was wasting time online tonight, and I decided to search Flickr for pictures of my hometown. Now Tracy, CA, is not exactly a scenic place, but it's interesting to see the pics people have posted, and I also wondered if I'd stumble across anyone I know. I didn't find any long-lost friends on there yet, but I did run across some pics that brought back memories:

Population sign:

Tracy Pictures 009
Originally uploaded by yourrealty

When I left Tracy in 1987, it had just over 40,000 people. The west side of town is unrecognizable now. What used to be turkey farms and cow pasture is now a mall, Wal-Mart, Costco, and a bunch of other suburban retail establishments. I would have loved that when I was a teenager, but now I'd prefer the turkey farms.

The Tracy Inn, where I had my first official job -- hostess in their coffee shop. I *hated* that job, mostly because I was 17 and had to work on Friday night and Saturday morning, which seriously cut into my socializing time. Looking back, I realize I was a whiny little pain in the butt, and I'm surprised they didn't fire me after about a week.

Tracy Pictures 001
Originally uploaded by yourrealty

Old train in Dr. Powers Park:

Originally uploaded by yourrealty

This train has been in the park for as long as I can remember, but the fence around it is a recent addition. When I was a kid, we all climbed on it, played hide and seek on it, and occasionally fell off it. When we hit our teen years, we climbed on it, some people peed on it, some other people had sex on it... oh, wait, now I understand why they put a fence around it. Ah, well...

Beautiful picture of the Delta:

Originally uploaded by JayBird Photos

I grew up fishing in the San Joaquin Delta. It's not scenic the way the Columbia River Gorge is scenic, but it has its own beauty, especially early in the morning as the mist rises from the water or late in the afternoon as the sun sets. This photo actually makes the Delta look beautiful, probably because you can't see the trash and rusty car parts lying around.

Thanks, Flickr, for the trip down memory lane. Next time I go back home, maybe I'll take some pics to post so other middle-aged former Tracyites can get all nostalgic.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Feeding My Ego With Blog Stats

Because I'm so egotistical... um, I mean *curious*, I look at my blog stats fairly regularly. (For those of you reading this on MySpace, I mean the stats for the version of this blog that lives on Blogger, http://crumj.blogspot.com. MySpace doesn't provide detailed stats, just number of views). I noticed an uptick in hits these last few days, so I decided to dig a little deeper. As much as I'd like to think the increased hits are a reflection of my scintillating writing (yeah... uh huh), it appears that the activity is seasonal. A couple years ago I wrote a post called Extreme Pumpkin Contest Winners 2005. Turns out that if you Google "extreme pumpkin contest", my post comes up third in the results list. Too bad that wasn't a cleverly-written post.

I kept digging in the blog stats, especially searches that brought people to my blog. Some of them are fascinating. Here's the current list, as of a few minutes ago:
Keyword searches from my blog stats

My personal favorites:

So there ya go. If I find fame and fortune as a blogger, it'll be because of extreme pumpkins, fake mullets, and dishonest bad prose. I feel proud already.

Footnote: Special thanks to StatCounter (http://statcounter.com) for providing excellent free stats. Without StatCounter, my ego might deflate before your very eyes. Seriously, StatCounter is great. If you need web stats, give 'em a try.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Attack of the killer cookie

Attack of the killer gingerbread man

I was bored in Blockbuster today, waiting for my husband to choose a movie. He is incapable of choosing one without carefully exploring every aisle in the store at least twice, so I had a bit of time to kill. That was how I learned that video stores can be really entertaining. Next time you're waiting for your movie-obsessed spouse to FIND A DAMN MOVIE ALREADY, try the horror section for some comic relief. Skip the well-known flicks though; you aren't looking for something to actually watch. Instead, check out the awful-sounding, straight-to-video B-movies. Today's winner in the "You've got to be kidding" category is a comedy-horror flick called The Gingerdead Man. Yes. Really. Someone made a horror flick about a killer cookie. And it stars Gary Busey. I'm thinking he either lost a bet or was really desperate for money.

I haven't seen this masterpiece, but I nearly rolled on the floor laughing while reading the blurb on the back of the case. And just like Dave Barry, I'm not making this up.

In a quiet, small-town diner a deranged patron, Millard Findlemeyer (Gary Busey), opens fire on the Leigh family, killing all but the daughter, Sarah Leigh (Robin Sydney). During the trial, Sara's testimony sends Millard to the electric chair and his ashes are sent to his mother. In a vow of revenge, Millard's mother mixes her son's ashes with a secret gingerbread cookie mix, which makes its way into Sarah Leigh's bakery. When one of the bakery employees, Brick Fields (Jonathan Chase) cuts his arm and accidentally bleeds into the mixture, an old curse spawns a deadly 12' walking, talking, killing gingerbread cookie and wreaks havoc on anything standing in his way!

I might have to watch this thing just out of morbid curiosity.