“The Ranching,” or “Steve’s Worst Nightmare”

June 25th, 2007

Stevel, aka Man-Who-Once-Declared-That-Should-He-Become-King-of-The-World-His-First-Act-as-Leader-Would-Be-To-Outlaw-Ranch-Dressing, being out for a walk, I took the opportunity to make myself a nice, Ranchy salad. The salad was in a plastic container, which I closed and began to shake in the name of mixing the salad and dressing together. Cue the horror music now, because the conatiner was not properly sealed, and it EXPLODED EVERYWHERE. It exploded onto the counter, onto the floor, into the cats’ food dish, into the cats’ water. Even poor Mia, who was innocently drinking water, got Ranched. She stood stunned, blinking up at me, chunks of gooey-white lettuce sliding down her fur. Her eyes seemed to say, How am I even supposed to clean myself when all I have to drink now is Ranch-water?

Ten minutes have passed since The Ranching, and Mia continues to try and de-Ranch her coat. Meanwhile, the fallout area has been thoroughly decontaminated with ten (yes, it took TEN) Clorox Clean-up Wipes. My salad is smaller than I was anticipating, but I’m eating it just the same. Let’s all cross our fingers that when Stevel gets home, he doesn’t encounter some overlooked Ranch-cranny and race upstairs to put on his “special PJs”.

Sum Fotoz

June 20th, 2007

Steve says this is porn.

He does love his pizza boxes.

Here’s dusk at No. 6.


Stevel with Cat.

Why I Would Make a Good Secret Service Agent

June 18th, 2007

RESUME—Kristan LaVietes

A job as a Secret Service agent that utlizes my special skills, talents, and experience

M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Cal State, Long Beach
B.A. in Advertising/Public Relations from Penn State
B.A. in English/Creative Writing from Penn State

Also received special training in the form of two years in which my younger sister and I were both teenagers attending the same high school. We fought daily over clothes and boys. In order to survive, I had to develop the fighting skills of a lithe cougar.

Additionally, I watch crime shows every day as a constant “virtual training” regimen. I know what to watch for, especially in Miami and on the streets of New York, and I know I’m not supposed to punch anyone without identifying myself as a Secret Service agent first.

I lived for a while in a very bad area in Las Vegas, so I know what gunshots sound like, and I have the reflexes of a rabbit. We—you and I—will be the first in the crowd to duck and cover, Mister President.

One time, my crawling-stage niece yanked a snow-globe off of a shelf, and it cracked into a million pieces. I dove for her, lifted her above the glass and water, and set her safely down in the next room. Mister President, you could be that safe baby.

Several times, my pet African frogs leapt from their tank and made for the crevices of apartments I lived in. Not once—in all their seven years—did I fail to recover them. These many completed missions demonstrate my commitment to protecting even the most disgusting of charges from harm, regardless of their genus or species.

I wear either headphones or earplugs about 60 percent of the time I am awake, so my ears are communication-bud-ready.

I have several aliases at the ready, including “Krissy,” “Aunt Krissy,” “SoMercurial,” and “Legs.” This helps me elude would-be infiltrators who would study my vulnerabilities in an effort to “get to me” in order to get to you.

On a recent road-trip, I managed to not run out of gas, despite arduous conditions and my own poor decision-making abilities. This was accomplished with the help of advisory friends, which shows my ability to work as part of a team.

I have a black suit and many pairs of dark glasses and have, in fact, been wearing these around town in the last few months, acting like I’m getting commands in an ear-piece—all in the name of preparation.

I am ready, Sir, to guard you against all threats, and to look like a pro doing it. I look forward to interviewing with you at 0900 hours, at which time I will arrive stealthily in your office.

“But it is a peasant dish.”

June 17th, 2007

We saw a sneak preview last night of of “Ratatouille.” It was better than good. If you told me you could only see one movie, I’d be torn as to whether to send you to this or to “Knocked Up.” Both are excellent. “Ratatouille” is sweet and moving and clever and fun. Everything about it is cute beyond cute, and it’s dense with charming details. It looks great on the big-screen, and I think it’s worth seeing that way. The story is moving and smart. The entire audience clapped a number of times at various points; you couldn’t help it. I don’t know what else to say. Don’t miss it.


June 15th, 2007

I have a couple of things to catch you up on, but first, here are some scenes around No. 6:

Stevel brought these home last night. I said, “Are those for me?” He replied, “No, they’re for me. But I’ll share them with you.”

Turns out there’s a good reason why the instructions on my new foot-spa advise against putting soap in the water.

Aka “Boxy Brown,” now lives in this box on Stevel’s desk, which we installed to encourage her (successfully … mostly) NOT to sit on our keyboards and mice WHILE WE ARE USING THEM. She is doing incredibly well, btw, gaining weight and looking better and better in her test results. A really unexpected turn of events to have so much additional, healthy time with her. Although, right now she is digging hats and scarves out of a basket, GET OUT OF THE BASKET!

Game-lap Cat:
Here is what Linus does when Stevel plays with the DS. It’s the absolute cutest.

So, to update you! First, let me say we had a fun get-together Sunday night with pot-luck delicacies, an exchange of journals-with-inspirations/assignments-inside, and many creative activities, although I think only Sarah-Architect and I ended up with semi-permanent finger-paint stains on our hands (Yeah, thanks for your advice, guy at Blick, what are you, a stock-boy? No three-year-old is going to be allowed to finger-paint with this stuff more than once, bro). Anyway, my creative fire is relit, thanks to this Revival, and I’m looking forward to a follow-up event later in the summer, to show off what we have all been doing with our projects.

Second, I had the most relaxing and wonderful weekend in San Francisco last Thurs.-Sun. with Bridget, who was in town for a conference. Her conference ended Friday, and we shopped and walked around the city and toured the Scharffen Berger chocolate factory in Berkely. It was truly the sweetest weekend. I’ve posted some photos here. Enjoy! And eat more GOOD chocolate.

I Have Arrived

June 6th, 2007

Today I witnessed something we in Los Angeles consider akin to seeing the Queen Mother incognito in big sunglasses and a Yankees hat shopping at Herrod’s. Yes, bored with same-old-same-old celebrity sightings, mundane talk of investing millions in the next big action feature, and the [yawn] repetitive monotony of gorgeous weather, we crave something more … immediate, more … visceral.

In short, we, like no others on earth, crave a good car chase.

I had just parked at a curb in Culver City today when I heard a megaphone-voice say, “Stop your car.” Looking over my shoulder, I noted traffic stopped at a red light. Zig-zagging out of that traffic came a blue subcompact piloted by a twenty-something guy, his companion in the passenger seat. Close behind them came a Culver City police cruiser.

Let me interject here to say this: You do NOT want to fuck with the Culver City Police (shown here issuing a jaywalking ticket to an unlucky elderly woman). They are the most bad-ass, ON-your-ass cops on the West side, and if they issue you a six-hundred dollar ticket for driving on the wrong side of the road while you are simply sitting, parked, in the Target parking lot, you take that ticket, and you say, “Yes-Sir, thank-you Sir,” and you PAY it, and you even add a TIP, because they are fucking West-side federales, and they will Santeria your ass.

Back to my story. So the blue subcompact gets into the open intersection and does THREE DOUGHNUTS!!! Wooooo! On the third doughnut, they clipped the police cruiser on the front bumper! [Crunch] This all happened INCHES FROM MY DRIVER’S-SIDE WINDOW! And was I scared? NO! Because nothing would make me more acceptable to my fellow Angelenos, more consecratedly authentic “L.A.,” than being INVOLVED in a POLICE CHASE!

So, anyway, the subcompact sped off, weaving in and out of traffic. The cruiser burned rubber and gunned it after the guys, sirens wailing. It was SO EXCITING! I got out of my car, and those of us on the street were just abuzz with the shared excitement of having witnessed it. The only thing that could have made it better would have been possession of a video camera, so I could call Laura Diaz (whom every Angeleno has programmed into our cell phones) (“Hey, Laura! Where you at, dog?”) (*chirp*), and stream it to her so that current CBS programming could be interrupted to allow us all to bathe in the moment shared. Ah. L.A. pride. I’ve got it.

Ross Rant

June 4th, 2007

Yesterday I went to Ross Dress for Less. It was supposed to be a relaxing outing, one in which I enjoyed the immersive wonders of glorious bargains. Not even yet TO the store, however, I encountered an omen in the form of this event:

An ambulance came wailing along from behind. I, along with both lanes of Wilshire east-bound traffic on the block on which I was driving, pulled over to the right. The ambulance went on by us. And THEN a green Jeep Cherokee, which was behind the ambulance, came along. Did the driver pause to allow these two lanes of people on my block to return to our lanes and proceed? Um, not quite. Instead, he blew past us, forcing ALL OF US to remain pulled over so that he could use this opportunity to advance himself ahead of us. Nice. Luckily for the vigilante spirit in all of you reading this, we wound up side-by-side at the next traffic light. And yes, he got the bird. And yes, he was probably all, “What the—what’s that for?!” But I felt somehow relieved, having transmitted rage.

But oh, this was only the beginning of my nightmarish outing! Once in Ross, I browsed and shopped and found many delightful bargains. Among them was a blue shirt with a puppy on it. On the tag was the brand name: STEVE! It was so very cute, and so very fun-PJ-ish, and I tried it on in the dressing room and everything. It was a “Wanted” item!

Among my other intended purchases was a pair of PJ shorts, the tag to which read, “Two-piece Set.” Since the shorts were solo on the hanger, I searched high and low for another “set.” What I found were three more pairs of the same shorts, all also solo on hangers. I tried asking someone on the floor for help with this situation; she said only the people “up front” could help me.

So “up front” I went, with my marvelous finds and my credit card. Here, the cashier told me she’s not allowed to sell one piece of a two-piece set. I explained my search for coupled PJs and my discovery of several pairs of the same shorts by themselves. She called the manager over. At first, he was reluctant. I insisted that I had made a sincere effort to find the shorts’ partner top in his PJ department. Finally, he marked down the shorts, saying, “But you won’t be able to return them.” OK, fine, Dude.

But THEN the heartbreak … turns out it had escaped my notice that the “Steve” brand puppy shirt was ALSO sporting a “Two-piece Set” tag. Oh NO!!! The cashier looked at it carefully and then called the manager again. This time, no amount of argument from me would convince him to sell me this shirt. “We’re not allowed to sell one piece alone,” he said, and TOOK MY SHIRT FROM THE COUNTER AND HUNG IT BEHIND THE REGISTER IN A SPECIAL NOOK!

I said, “I looked for other colors of this shirt, so I can tell you there aren’t any others back there. In sets or alone.”

He said, “We just got in a bunch of PJs. We have ten days to match them tops to bottoms.”

I said, “Well, it seems like while you’re working on that, they maybe shouldn’t be out on the racks. Anyway, I will pay the two-piece price. I didn’t know it was part of a set, so I was prepared to pay the price on the tag for it. When you find the bottoms, you can just throw them away for me.”

He still said no!

I couldn’t help my growing anger. “You mean that I went to all the trouble of trying on this shirt and deciding against other items, and I want this shirt today, and I can’t buy it, but you might sell it to someone else tomorrow morning when you get your act together in the PJ department?”

Nope, no shirt for me.

“So wait, you put things out on the racks, and the customer is taunted by these items—made to think she can actually, oh, PURCHASE them—and it’s not true, because your store can’t manage to match the tops to the bottoms?”

“Sometimes the customers mix them up,” he said. (This was clearly not the case. All three pairs of striped shorts? The customers?)

“Not my fault! Not my problem! I want this shirt. Sell it to me.”


So I got his store number and his name, etc. And as I’m leaving, he has the nerve to say, “When you call to complain, please tell them how I let you buy the shorts.”

As IF! “Oh, why don’t you fill them in on that part?” I said, huffing out of there. (Steve cringed when I told him this part, so I recognize that I should probably be embarrassed about my behavior, but somehow I’m just not.)

I realize this guy was just trying to do his job, to follow company policy, and now that I’ve calmed down, I have better things to do with my time than to get him in trouble, or to try and influence Ross’ PJ protocol. I even recognize now how petty all of this is. A PJ shirt sent me over the edge? Really? But even now, 16 hours later, I wish I had that shirt in my possession, and I’m still mad at that stupid manager, who obviously COULD have sold me my shirt (since he sold me the shorts), and didn’t. But perhaps he has severe OCD, and unmatched tops and bottoms torture him in ways I can’t imagine. Maybe I should have gone easier on him.

Wanted: For Procrastination

June 4th, 2007

Does this look like me?

What’s your FlashFace look like? (Btw, if you haven’t made a Mii of yourself on your own or someone else’s Wii, it’s sort of like this, but more fun! [Incidentally, Stevel's Mii is the best one ever.])

On an unrelated sidenote*, there is a lovely Daddy Long Legs picking his way across my desk right now.

(* Copyright CindyBrown)

Another Favor

June 4th, 2007

Go see “Surf’s Up.” Lots of smiles, a sweet story with a unique twist on it (“mockumentary” style), and cool-looking waves and penguins! What could be better?!

Do Yourself this Favor

June 3rd, 2007

See the movie “Knocked Up.” It is really funny, and smart-funny, not stupid-funny. No one should miss out on it. The entire (sold-out) theater full of people was obviously loving it the entire time. Ignore what you know about the plot, because it will surprise you with its charm.

Another Dani-ism

June 3rd, 2007

I remembered another cute moment in Pennsylvania. I had picked up Dani from daycare, and we were waiting in the rain in my rental car for Erica’s bus. The song “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles came on, and I asked Dani, “Is that true, Dani? Is love all you need?”

She smiled. “No,” she said, “I need stuff to play with.” Then she thought for a second and added, “I need Erica.”

Isn’t that, like, puke-yourself cute?

Goodbyes This Morning

June 1st, 2007

As he was heading toward the garage, Stevel stepped down to the first step of the stairs and turned to hug me goodbye. I smooshed his face into my chest as a demonstration of how very much I would miss him today, and as he pulled away, I looked down at my shirt.

“Yeah,” he said, “That came out of my nose. Sorry.”