Regaytionships

A typical fight in our household:

Image

The other day as I was walking Ripley, I ran into one of our neighbors.  Pleasantries were had (as every dog owner must awkwardly experience).  Then the neighbor lays this one on me:

“Sooo, are the two of you interior decorators?”

Uhh, is this suburban code for something?  Is she asking what I think she’s asking?  Is this like the time the American Airlines flight attendant asked Lance and I if we were brothers? (Not to single you out, AA; Southwest flight attendants have asked the same thing.)

Aren’t these subtle probing questions about somebody’s sexuality a thing of the past? Why don’t you just be up front about it and ask if Kylie Minogue is in my Recently Played on iTunes?

And, really, considering that we co-habitate a one-bedroom apartment with a dog and a cat and only one car…no combination of those facts were enough to confirm your suspicions, lady?  Sheesh!

Advertisements

Tales From The Train

Mass transit is a wonderful thing. It decreases your carbon footprint, relieves the stress of traffic jams, and more often than not keeps to its schedule.

But mass transit also puts a whole bunch of people together in a confined space for long stretches of time, at the extremes of their day.  What you see isn’t always pretty.

Uggos

People who ride mass transit, particularly the regional rail in and out of Philadelphia, are just not attractive.  I have no scientifically-obtained data to back this up, it’s just an observation.  Do all of the attractive people just gravitate to urban life because, you know, they’re just so gosh darn good-looking and their lives are like an episode of Girls?

Those who ride the train out of the city at 5:00pm every day are just kind of dumpy: potato-shaped with soft, almost indefinable features, like they’re made out of a Silly Putty that is just slightly misshapen from the day before.  Hairstyles are also a grab-bag of late nineties styles: hair piled high and wide and permed, or dyed a color orange not found even in the depths of the Sun.

And the unflattering clothing, especially on guys!  I’m not saying I’m Mr. GQ here, but, I’m sorry, if your dress shirt balloons wider at the hips than the length of your wingspan, you’re doing something wrong.

Train Buddies

Don’t talk to me on the train.  That is my decompression time, the only time during the day I get to be alone with my thoughts, and quite frankly, I would never be your friend in real life (though that truth applies to mostly…everyone), so don’t small talk me with observations about regional rail routes.  “Man, one day I think I’m gonna ride this train right out to the last stop,” this dude said to me once, as I tried with my mind powers to demonstrate how engrossed I was reading the advertisement at the end of the car. “Wouldn’t that be wild?”

For awhile I had a woman who would seek me out every day.  She’d get on at the stop after mine, and declared herself my designated “train buddy” on our second encounter.  “Welp,” she grinned, “I guess we’re train buddies now!”  She then proceeded to trap me in a conversation about…you got it, the regional rail system.

Do you all not understand how this works? Why on God’s green earth would I want to talk about the regional rail system? Am I wearing a conductor’s cap? Can’t you see I have headphones on?

Why can’t you see my headphones, you monsters?!

The Troll on the Train

I create arch-nemeses out of boredom and a pervasive sense of misanthropy, more than anything.

Case in point: the troll on the train.

Something about her really gets my goat.  She’s probably late fifties, early sixties, with an unruly crop of hair (go figure) and a little hobble to her walk.  And I’m not kidding: she has a grimace not unlike a witch.

At the end of the day, as all of us regular schlubs are standing around on the platform waiting for the 5:12, the troll is sitting down on a bench.  But, oh boy, as soon as the train approaches, she pushes her way past everybody else on the platform so that she can be the first on board.

Guess what, lady? We were all waiting in a more-or-less line on this platform, so no cutting!

Then, once she’s sitting down, she pulls out her iPhone and begins playing games…at full volume.  If I have to hear that bubbly shuffle of the Words With Friends tiles one more time…**breaks pen in frustration, then cries as the ink stains set in his clothing**

By far the worst, though, is the fact that she doesn’t answer her phone when it rings.  Fine, I can understand that, you don’t want to bother your fellow commuters with your phone call. How considerate!  Thank you, Ms. Troll, I appreciate your thoughtful–

RIIIING….RIIIING…RIIIING…RIIIING

It keeps ringing.  And ringing.

So, instead of actually answering the phone, the troll just lets it ring as she stares right at the phone.  BLERGH!

I guess I get some sick pleasure out of the fact that, at the end of every day, I see her climb into an Explorer that’s branded with a McCain/Palin bumpersticker.  Ha, ya loser! I think with a smirk.  How’s it feel to be a loser, loser?  Probably so sad that you can’t have a phone conversation without bursting into tears, so THAT’s why you let your cell phone ring and ring.

But then I remind myself that I can’t stand people who leave irrelevant political bumperstickers on their car.  You lost!  Why are you going around with a big ol’ “L”-sign stuck to your car?  Get it removed and address your shame with alcohol like a normal person! It’s so irritating BAAHHHHHHH!

My Spot

In the ‘burbs (I can speak to this because I’m an expert, you see), driving around on a moped is a little strange.  You’ve got five lanes of traffic and everything is like twenty miles away from everything else; a moped just isn’t practical (and, let’s face it, you look a little bit like a weirdo for driving one).

Yet, considering all of that, every once and a while a moped will chained up to the outer bike rack at the train station.

One day, the moped was nowhere to be found, and space at the rack was limited, so I locked my bike in one of the last available spots.

When I returned to retrieve my bike, the moped was back, as was its tweed-jacketed owner; he was parked right next to me.

I generally try to avoid interpersonal communication, so I slinked over, trying to unlock my bike as quickly as possible.

“Hello,” the professor said, as I fumbled with the key.

“Uh, hi,” I offered. I’m incredibly cognizant of how stupid I look in a bike helmet, so the less attention drawn my way the better.

“Just so you know,” the graying, bespectacled professor-type informs me, “I usually park here.”

 Umm…excuse me?
This was one of those situations where you come up with just the greatest comeback like 20 minutes after the opportunity passes by.  OOOH, the nerve of this guy!  This is your spot, huh? Oh, so that’s why I see your name on–oh, wait, no I don’t!
Don’t try to intimidate me with your Ph.D. in neo-classical studies. I’m not having it! The bike rack is first-come, first-serve, dude. DEMOCRACY!!!  EQUALITY FOR ALL PEOPLE…’s modes of transportation!!!!
So now I passive-aggressively park my bike there just to spite him.  Take that, old man!  I WIN!!!!!

Re-Disney: The Great Disney Rewatch

I don’t consider myself a super-creative type, but the origins of whatever small, water-droplet-sized amount I do have can be traced back to a movie theatre in 1989, where, at the age of four, I first saw the silhouette of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle cascade over a blue background. Every time I hear that music, the crescendo as Tinker Bell arches over the castle…man, shudders down the spine.

Those 15 seconds were my gateway drug to Disney.  And in 1989, as the castle faded away and Prince Eric’s ship sailed toward me through the fog, I was introduced to the immersive power of animation.  I mean, people actually drew all of this, creating a whole world out of nothing!  To me, a shy kid with a No. 2 pencil, they were like gods.

I never became the animator I aspired to be when I was a kid, but over the following 20-plus years, I did become a Disney-phile.  Say what you want about the Mouse-as-Corporation, or the Mouse-as-Antifeminist, or try to argue that animated films are for babies, but it’s gonna fall on deaf ears here.  My irrational love of Disney stems from my indebtedness to their creative teams for all of the joy they have provided in my life.

What’s really exciting is that in just over a month, Lance and I will be taking a jetplane down to Orlando for a mini-Disney vacation (thanks, Aunt Boo Boo!). It’ll be the first time I will get to stay at a park resort (as opposed to the Master Inn, amirite, guys?), the first time I’ve made dining reservations at some of the resort’s higher-end restaurants, and the first time that I’ll be able to have that whole Disney experience with Lance.

And to all you hipsters out there who only like Disney ironically while also bemoaning about how inauthentic, how manufactured it is: yeah, it is, and I know. But that’s exactly what I’m looking for.

So all of that brings me to what I’m dubbing “Re-Disney.” (more…)

Kitchen Catastrophe: Pizza Dough(nuts) Interlude

Okay, okay, so I haven’t really been keeping up with the Kitchen Catastrophe Challenge.  This isn’t so much due to lil’ pup Ripley as it does to all of Rip’s indirect costs: dogwalker and vet visits and the like.  At this point, it seems like the dog is eating better than either of us (my Kitty Boo is exempt from The Fido Finance Effect: she will always be pampered).

So, in terms of food, we’ve had to be creative, foraging the cabinets and refrigerator for items, making do with what we’ve got (not unlike this dude from TLC’s “Extreme Cheapskates”).  Here’s what I’ve been able to make recently:

Homemade Pizza Dough

Mark Bittman’s pizza dough recipe from the New York Times has seen better days:

(more…)

Travel Tip Thursday: The Year’s Best Hotel Promo

The Carlson hotel group (primarily Radissons, but also Country Inns & Suites and Park Inns) are offering a three-pronged promotion over the next two months where, if you stay one night at any of their hotels, you earn 44,000-50,000 points, enough for one or more nights at any of their hotels worldwide.

The sheer greatness of this “Big Night Giveaway” promo cannot be understated.  “Why’s it so great?” you ask.  Well, for starters, you can stay at ANY bumpkin, $30/night Radisson, and then turn around with your earned bonus points and use them on a hotel that would normally go for $250+ a night.  Shaaa-weet! (People still say that, right?)

Here’s how I’m taking advantage of this promotion:

On our way to Tokyo later this year, we have a Saturday night layover in Chicago. Obviously, finding a hotel in downtown Chicago on a Saturday night at a reasonable rate (I like spending no more than $100 on a hotel room if I can help it) is nearly Kim Possible, meaning that we’d have to stay out at a hotel near O’Hare, a 45+ minute train ride into the city.  Not only would we lose the opportunity to enjoy Chicago, but we would still have to spend $120+ a night at a non-janky airport hotel.

When this Radisson promotion opened up, I started crafting a plan.  With a one-night stay anywhere, you earn 50,000 Club Carlson points, which you can use for one night at their highest-end hotels.  Now I just needed to find a hotel that was super-cheap in my area, earn the points, and then I could redeem them for a stay at the brand’s year-old Radisson Blu Aqua hotel right downtown on Michigan Avenue (for October 20th, the rate is $249).

I didn’t want to actually stay overnight in a Radisson to secure these points, however; nothing against their hotels, but I has got a new puppy and I can’t just expect Lance to handle Ripley all by himself.  So, I needed to find a Radisson close by that I could easily check into one day and check-out the next without too much hassle.

And voila! The Radisson Warwick in Center City Philadelphia.  With a quick price match via Radisson’s Best Rate Guarantee (which includes an additional 25% off!), I was able to secure a room on a Wednesday night later this month for $76.  I’ll check into the hotel on my lunch break, and then check out the next day before work, and it’ll net me 50,000 Club Carlson points!  I’ll then redeem those 50,000 points for the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, meaning that I’ve not only gotten a downtown $249 room for essentially $76, but I’m also saving $55 on what we were going to spend staying out near the airport!

[Edit: I also forgot that I used the TopCashBack portal, which will send you 10% back on what you book on Radisson.com. That brings our total to less than $70!]

Wowzers!

Now, you can only earn the 50,000 points once, but three of the hotel brands in the Carlson group are running their own separate promotions, and you can earn points through all three separately, but the points will all accumulate in your own Club Carlson loyalty account.  Here’s how it works:

Register for Radisson’s Big Night Giveaway promo (link) and stay at least one night at a Radisson-branded hotel before July 15, 2012 to earn 50,000 points.

Separately, you can register for Country Inn & Suites’ So Go Country promo (link) and stay one night at a Country Inn & Suites-branded hotel, and you can earn an additional 44,000 points.

Lastly, you can register for Park Inn’s One Plus One promo (link; this promo doesn’t go live until next week), and stay one night at a Park Inn-branded hotel to earn an additional 44,000 points.

If you follow through on all three, that’s 138,000 points, or almost enough for 3+ nights at any Radisson anywhere (including London, Paris, etc.); it’s an even better deal if you want to stay at, say. the Radisson Resort Orlando Celebration, 1.5 miles from Walt Disney World, which is only 9,000 points a night.  With the points you earn from a one night stay, you could redeem for a 5-night stay at that hotel!

This deal is best utilized if you’re planning on staying somewhere super expensive (like NYC, or Chicago, or London or Paris), because you can effectively get rooms in those cities for a fraction of their actual going rate, with some (admittedly annoying, but worthwhile) legwork.  If you and your significant other BOTH do it, you can also share points between accounts; that’s what Lance and I are probably going to do: earn a combined 274,000 points to use on hotels in Europe whenever we make it over there.

Alright, that’s it.  Hit me back, yo, if youse got any questions.  Happy travels!

CONTROVERSY! Ten Reasons Why Our Puppy is More Challenging Than Your Baby

[Disclaimer: I, of course, have no idea what it’s like to raise an actual human child. This post is just operating under the assumption that I’m right about everything always.]

10 Reasons Why Raising Ripley is More Challenging Than Raising Your Baby

1. Your baby doesn’t try to bite off your nose with really sharp teeth during play time.

2. Your baby doesn’t hump the pillow you sleep on.

3. Your baby doesn’t eat carpet fibers, mulch or grass.

4. Your baby doesn’t whine wanting to go outside, and then when outside doesn’t go to the bathroom, only to pee on the floor five minutes after getting back in the house.

5. In fact, your baby doesn’t need to go outside every two hours–it just poops its pants.

6. You can leave a baby in a crib or a car seat for like 6 hours on end, unlike our dog, which you need to follow from room to room, otherwise he WILL take the opportunity to poop in my shoe or eat the rubber end of a doorstop.

7. Your baby doesn’t try to eat your cat.

8. You can take a baby under two years old on a plane with you…for free! What a steal! If we want to take a puppy on the plane, it’s $75 each way if he fits below the seat (he doesn’t), or he can’t go at all. And to board him? $35 a day!

9. You get a whole bunch of free stuff from friends when you have a baby; when you get a puppy, people just want to pet your dog…without any sort of compensation. The nerve!

10. You can take a baby with you to the Olive Garden. Not so with a puppy. Instead, we’ve been reduced to eating DiGorno’s frozen Pizza & Wyngz combo at home every night. WYNGZ!! What does that even mean?!?!

The Cat Comments

Welcome readers to a new feature here on LEG+JCB. “The Cat Comments” will be the sounding board for Kitty to share her uncensored thoughts on such heavy topics as Iran’s nuclear ambitions and preferred approaches to belly rubbin’.

Kitty, what are your thoughts on your owners’ recent acquisition of a dog? Love/hate? Are you plotting something truly dastardly in retaliation?–Macaroon, Vancouver, BC

Macaroon,

I a-purr-preciate the concern (wordplay!), though to reveal my machinations in detail as they progress would be foolhardy.

That vicious beast known as Ripley is a horrific monster. Never before have I heard such a blood-curdling cacaphony as when that mongrel is left alone for longer than two minutes. Whine whine whine, bark bark bark.  Why do you so require unremitting attention, dog? Seriously, if I had two people hovering over me all the time, I’d kill myself!  Give me some space to meditate and plot, for crying out loud.

Though the dog has encroached on my domain, thinking himself an easy king, he is dreadfully mistaken.  I get close, offering an olive branch of a sniff, an innocent meow.  Like any mangy mutt, he will succumb to laziness and complacency, accepting me as his “pal” and “playmate.”

That’s when I will strike.

…Until then, I wait. And plan.

Long-time reader, first-time poster here. Kitty, love your stuff. I’m having issues: I want to sleep in the bed with my owners, but one of them just tosses and turns all night. Where’s the best place to sleep: the foot of the bed? Near the top?–Cinnamon, Bronx, NY

I hear ya, sister! I’ve got one of those myself.  He’s up and down, up and down all night long, rolling around like a fat kid at a meatball factory.  My solution? Guilt your slaves (remember, you are the master of this domain, not any hairless primate!) into purchasing a lil’ bed for you to place at the food of the bed; it’ll offer you some added protection and offer a more sizable bulk that will deter your owner from rolling over you.

Kitty: Big fan. What’s your favorite junk food to indulge yourself with when your owners are gone and you’ve just had a bad day?–Bongo, Sarasota, FL

You know, Bongo, I’m just not a big ice cream gal. I’ve tried, but maybe I’m just lactose intolerant. My guilty pleasure, besides the RAW PRIMAL CRAZY provided by deli turkey, is actually the caramel-sugar coating on, well, pretty much anything. Have you tried a caramel corn rice cake? If not, you haven’t lived! The subtle notes of caramel, the burst of caramel flavor, the caramel caramel caramel!

Excuse me while I encourage my selves to fatten themselves up with some kettle corn; I’ll reap the benefits of dropped kernels.

Kitty: Gale or Peeta?–Catniss, Scottsdale, AZ

Is this even a conversation that people are having? Have you seen Liam Hemsworth? Well, have you??

Submit your question to Kitty in our comments section!