Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Duckling Drinks Bordeaux

Chateau* Grand-Jean
2005 Entre-Deux-Mers
$9.99 at Central Market

I had to do some research on this one because I have to admit that I am completely flummoxed by French wines. This is a white wine from Entre-Deux-Mers, a minor region of Bordeaux. White wines from this area are generally made with a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. This one happens to be a 50/50 blend.

The first thing I noticed was an appley aroma. The wine is quite acidic and sharp on the tongue. I tend to have trouble finding the vocabulary to describe dry white wines, but I tasted hints of hay, lemon, sea-salt, and pineapple. I've never seen anyone else use "sea-salt" to describe a wine, so I suspect there's another, more common word for that slightly bitter, mineral taste - maybe "flinty." I see that word a lot, but I'm not quite sure what it means. I, however, am going with "salty." Anyway, after really rolling it around in my mouth, I thought I picked up a little bit of sweet, peach flavor.

Overall, I don't really care for this wine. I'm not a fan of really dry whites, so it might be good for those of you who enjoy that kind of thing. It was perfectly fine to sip and think about, but I won't be buying more of it.

*There are a bunch of accent marks and triangly things that go over certain letters throughout this post, but I can't be bothered.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Decemberists

I just discovered The Decemberists recently, thanks to, and I can't get enough of them. I'm nothing of a music junkie, so I lack the vocabulary to describe their sound. They definitely compare to Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle and Sebastian, but no one I know (except S of course - he's super cool. Like me!) has any idea who I'm talking about, so that's not helpful. Plus, they're way better than either of those two bands.

They take their name from a failed Russian revolt against Tsar (Tzar? Czar?) Nicholas I during December 1825. Many of their songs have an historical or literary context, and they often tell imaginative stories that range from enchanting to gruesome. They're sort of hipster balladeers. I'm definitely more literarily than aurally inclined, so I'm particularly drawn to the lyrics, but their melodies are also lovely.

One of my favorites songs is "Leslie Ann Levine," a morbid ghost story about a premature baby whose ghost wanders the rooftops, her only companion a chimney sweep who was lost inside a flue in 1842.
My name is Leslie Ann Levine
My mother birthed me down a dry ravine
My mother birthed me far too soon
Born at nine and dead at noon
Another one I can't get out of my head is "The Engine Driver," which tells of several different characters - an engine driver, a county lineman, a writer, and a money lender - all of whom are asking, "If you don't love me, let me go." This verse is particularly haunting:
And I am a writer, writer of fictions
I am the heart that you call home
And I've written pages upon pages
Trying to rid you from my bones
"16 Military Wives" is one of my favorites although it seems a little out of character for The Decemberists. It's an anti-jingoistic little ditty whose perky pop tune belies its political message. Here's the upbeat, rousing chorus:
Cheer them on to their rivals
Cause America can
And America can't say no
And America does
If America says it's so
It's so
And the anchorperson on t.v.
Goes la-di-da-di-da
The Decemberists are coming to the Gypsy Tea Room on October 25th, and I plan on going although I'm usually loath to attend organized events on a school night no less. Yes. I am willing to stay up late on a Wednesday for the Decemberists. I would love some company if anyone's interested or at least curious. If anyone wants to make a trade, I will accompany you to a show or event no one else is interested in if you need the company. AND, I promise to have fun and be enthusiastic. The only thing I'll ask for is a ride, so I can safely fuel my enthusiasm with vodka.

The Decemberists travel exclusively by Dr. Herring's Brand® Dirigible Balloons.

Time for a Brief Chuckle Break

My brain is all full up right now thinking Big Thoughts about Important Stuff. Maybe I'll get around to writing about some of it, maybe not. In the meantime, this picture made me laugh out loud, so I wanted to share. If you're into silly pictures of cats, check out Cats Me If You Can.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Obligatory Plan B Post

My head nearly exploded yesterday morning listening to some chauvinist fuck on the radio speaking against Plan B on behalf of the Concerned Women for America. Evidently if Plan B is available over the counter women everywhere will turn into a bunch of dirty sluts faster than you can say, "Jezebel." These people believe that a safe and effective medical treatment should be withheld from the public because it may (which is a stretch) encourage certain perfectly legal behavior with which they don't happen to agree.

What's the "logical" extension of this philosophy? Let's take cholesterol medication off the market because it encourages people to eat unhealthy food. How about banning medications to prevent heart attacks since they encourage people to be lazy. We should stop treating head injuries because that just encourages people to ride motorcycles without helmets. Hell, Viagra is going to turn Americans into a bunch of erection-having man-whores, so let's ban that, too.

Let's be very clear. This debate is not about science or medicine. It's about controlling women's sexuality and limiting reproductive choices. Finally having Plan B available over the counter - only to women over age 18 and only through a pharmacist if he or she is willing to sell it - is only the tiniest of victories. Women all over this country don't have access to affordable health care, including contraception. 86% of counties in the U.S. have no abortion providers. And, current policies do little to support women who want to make the choice to have a family. 20% of children in this country live below the poverty line. A living wage and quality, affordable childcare are nothing more than pipe dreams for many mothers.

Depending on the study you look at, economic problems are the reason given for at least 25% of abortions and probably many more. Other women choose to have abortions because becoming a mother will force them to lose their jobs or to drop out of school. Abortions are declining among women with higher incomes, but are increasing among poor women. You want to reduce abortions? Make sure women have the resources they need to be responsible mothers and successful human beings.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Duckling Drinks Cabernet Sauvignon

Smoking Loon
2004 Cabernet Sauvignon
$8.99 at Central Market

This is the first entry in my wine under $10.00 experiment. I first tried Smoking Loon wine when Catherine brought me a bottle of Chardonnay in exchange for cat-sitting for a weekend. Usually, I don't care for Chardonnay, but I really enjoyed it. When I spottted the Cab in Central Market I thought I'd give it a try, and I'm not alone. The Smoking Loon Cab recently became the best-selling 750 ml bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon in the U.S.

It's a pretty dry wine with a black cherry flavor and undertones of licorice and black pepper. I found it to be very tasty and drinkable, but without a lot of complexity or a big finish. Overall, a great value at about $9 bucks.

And, it comes with an amusing cork:

Thursday, August 24, 2006

More on Angel

This started off as a response to Dave-o-rama's comment about my previous drunken ramble regarding season 5 of Angel, but I just kept going on and on and on. So, since this is my blog, instead of a humble comment, you get a disjointed, opinionated post about a couple of series that ended years ago and on which my thoughts have absolutely no bearing.

But anyway, I agree with Dave that Smile Time was totally awesome. Puppet Angel is one of my favorite things ever on this earth. However, I hated The Girl in Question. Spike and Angel's Italian adventure was too zany, madcap, Looney Tunes for my taste. Then, on the other end of the spectrum there was way too much angsty Wesley and Fred's poor parents. That said, the CEO of the Rome W&H office was hilarious, as was Andrew.

I did like Illyria way better than Fred, and I wish we had seen more of that character than just her walking around looking bewildered and slightly pissed off. Harmony was definitely a lot of fun, and I agree that Harm's Way was a good one. The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco was on it's way to being good, but I think it didn't get all the way there - not quite campy enough and not quite clever enough.

And actually, I did love Spike when he was first on Buffy. I adored bat-shit crazy Drusilla, too. One of my favorite episodes of Buffy ever was Fool for Love, where Buffy gets Spike to tell her how he killed 2 past Slayers. He is one bad-ass sexy beast in that one. Once he fell in love, had a chip, didn't have a chip, got a soul, blah, blah, blah, then I started to hate him.

I'm surprised to be saying this, but I really missed Cordelia in season 5. The whole Cordelia-as-a-higher-power storyline was a little too cheesy and earnest in my opinion, but I don't think any other character filled the hole she left in the group.

Overall, I guess I enjoyed watching Whedon's confident, funny, kick-ass characters, and I feel like both Buffy and Angel devolved into whiny, hand-wringing group-therapy sessions close to the end. I know that's harsh, but with both series I really felt let down after investing [an unreasonable amount of] time and emotional energy in them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Hi There

I thought I'd drink too much and then blog about... you know... stuff.

First of all, the 5th and final season of Angel SUCKED. Some of the worst television EVAR! It was never as good as Buffy, so it doesn't feel like the kind of betrayal that the last season of Buffy was, but still, stink-er-roo.

However, courtesy of Netflix, I got a sneak peak at the pilot episode of Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. This has the potential to be some awesome TV. Somehow the pilot managed to be both edgy and idealistic at the same time. I love kick-ass, feel-good TV.

Anyway, I was going to blog about the wine I drink, but all I had were left-overs. I highly recommend Zenato Pinot Grigio, but if you leave a half-drunk bottle in the fridge for a few weeks, not so much. I am about to start a new experiment. I had some money left over from my birthday, so I spent it on a case of wine at Central Market. (If you buy six or more bottles, they give you 10% off.) My only criteria for choosing which bottles I bought was that they cost $10 or less. I'll let you know how it turns out.

So, I'm wondering if it counts as drinking alone if someone else is there, but they're not drinking. If it does, I probably have a problem. It's strange, though, that I can have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner at a restaurant, and it doesn't faze me. However, a couple of glasses at home and I'm all but howling at the moon. Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon?

Also, although I can not confirm it conclusively online, it appears that Dallas and several of the surrounding cities have ordinances against snow-cone stands. If you ever thought that Dallas sucks, now you know it's true. When I really want a snow-cone I drive down Beltline into Carrollton over by the Sack n Save and the Vietnamese food restaurants. Rainbow is the best, but coconut is good, too. When Amy Ackers character changes into Illyria, she reminds me of coconut snow-cones.

It finally rained over here tonight. There was thunder and lightening and it was awesome. I love storms, although I often have nightmares about tornados. They're always about seeing tornados all around me and scrambling to find shelter. But the storms are always over by the time I find a place to hide, and then everything is beautiful and clear and smells like laundry. Does that reveal a sickening level of mental health, or what?

Lucky me, I just found a bottle of Fu-Ki plum wine in the fridge. How old is that? I don't even remember when someone brought that over. It still tastes the same, which I'm not taking as a good sign.

Hey! Weren't we going to have some sort of vegetable festival? That kind of rhymes. I think that's what we should call it. I have lots of vegetarian recipes, and I like to act like I can cook, so I think we should do that pretty soon.

Well, I just finished the last episode of Angel, and WTF? Seriously, I sat through an entire shit season for that? And what the hell happened to Lorne? He just rode off into the sunset. I don't think so. He's the only one I really cared about by the end. Maybe I missed something, but hey, wine is better than Angel.

Also, I like it when my cat yawns and meows at the same time.

I used to have rats as pets, and they were some of the sweetest little animals. The first one I got was named Frisky, and he was white with pink eyes. He originally belonged to my brother, but my brother was a pretty little kid and didn't want to take care of him. Frisky died of cancer despite my dad's best efforts. My dad actually did surgery on my little rat to try to fix him. He's a good dad. My second rat's name was Ziggy - a black rat. He died of cancer, too. Evidently, rats are very prone to cancer, which is one reason why labs like to do experiments on them. My third rat was an impulse buy after watching an episode of Crocodile Hunter about rats in Australia. Evidently, they are HORRIBLE. Anyway, I went to the pet store with my roommate and got a tan and white rat. He looked so sad and lonely, though, on the way home that we turned around and got another black and white one. Their names were Rats Domino and Minnesota Rats. Because I thought I was clever.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Name That Sushi

Last night I had some of the best sushi I've eaten in ages, and the weird thing is that I bought it at Central Market. It was better than the takeout place by my house and better than Tokyo One. The fish was perfectly fresh and completely yummy.

I got a combo with 6 different pieces of sushi and 8 pieces of assorted rolls, which is not bad for $10. However, it wasn't well labeled, so I'm not sure exactly what I was eating. The best piece was totally new to me, and I couldn't figure out what it was. So, I'm hoping that one of you can give me clue so I eat a lot more of it in the future.

It was translucent white with ridges and had a firm texture that was easy to bite - not chewy like clam or octopus - but it was less fleshy than fish. I'm thinking it may have been squid, although it wasn't tentacley. If anyone can confirm that I'd be grateful.

P.S. Yes, I know - the poor tuna, the poor ocean, blah, blah, blah. Let me tell you, I tried really hard to care, but the tuna can go eff themselves if they're going to be so damn tasty.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I think that someone is stealing little things from my office. First, I had a pair of headphones disappear. That was right around the time I moved from my cube into a closet an office. I could have sworn I had the headphones in my new office, but it was possible that I just lost track of them. Also, they were pretty crappy, kind of falling apart, old school headphones that probably came for free with a portable tape player (yes, tape player), so it wouldn't make any sense for someone to take them.

Next, I couldn't find my hand sanitizer. I looked in all my desk drawers, my cabinets, my purse, my file drawers. Then, I dug around in all the drawers of my old desk, which I'm sure the person currently sitting there just loved. It was definitely gone. But, I figured, it was a pretty small bottle, so maybe I used it all up and just forgot.

Then, my Tic Tacs vanished. That was when I really started to think that something weird was going on. A couple of mornings ago, I was going to a meeting with my boss. She came to my office to get me, and, since I had just been drinking coffee, I popped a few Tic Tacs into my mouth and left to go to the meeting. I got back around lunch time, had a bite to eat, and intended to have some Tic Tacs. They were gone. No Tic Tacs in my desk. I knew they were there just a few hours ago. In case I had put them in my purse, I emptied the whole thing out. No Tic Tacs in my purse. Maybe I did put them in my purse and they fell out in the car. No Tic Tacs in the car. What the hell?

Am I going crazy? The story of the time someone stole my computer will probably convince you that I am.

When I moved into my office my computer moved with me. It was finally set up close to the end of the day, so before I went home I checked that the computer was hooked up correctly, I could log onto the network, etc. Everything seemed fine, but when I came in the next morning, the computer was off, which seemed strange because I had left it on the night before.

I reached under my desk to turn on the tower, and it was gone. I knew it had been there the night before. Why would someone have taken my computer? I was pretty pissed off because I had been roaming around from cubicle to cubicle for two days trying to find unused computers to work on while my office was being set up. Finally I had an office to myself, and what do they do? Take my computer for no reason without even telling me.

I called the office manager find out where my computer was, and I'm getting ready to be all huffy and annoyed. She picked up the phone at the same moment I noticed a significant detail. I never had a tower under my desk. I had a desktop computer sitting right there under my monitor. "Uh, wrong number," I mumbled as I gently hung up the phone and began my day without further incident.

So you see, I can imagine opening a drawer someday and finding my headphones, my hand sanitizer, and my Tic Tacs innocently sitting there as they had been all along. In the meantime, does anyone have any surveillance equipment I could borrow?

The Duckling Drinks Pinot Bianco

Alois Lageder
2004 Pinot Bianco
$11.79 at Central Market

Dry Italian white. Bright and refreshing. Flavors of lemon and tropical fruits. Sea-salt finish.

In case any one was feeling sorry for me that I didn't feel well enough to make it to yoga or go out on Friday night, I want you know that I endured my suffering by getting drunk on wine and watching Red Dwarf until I passed out. It was rough, but I made it through.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Scarred for Life

I'm about four-years old, and I'm sitting in the waiting room of the pediatrician with my mom. The room is crowded, and I'm nervous about sitting next to someone I don't know. My mom is encouraging me to go ahead and sit down. "Come on, they won't bite," she tells me.

It never even occurred to me that someone might bite me.

I panic.

Friday, August 11, 2006

There's a Special Place in Hell for Us

S and I like to watch history shows on PBS, and the Holocaust is often a topic. After a Nazi atrocity is mentioned, S will mutter, "allegedly..." under his breath every time.

And I laugh.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

You Don't Say...

TIGTA Finds Inappropriate Email on 74% of IRS Employees' Computers

Thanks, Traivor!

I Want to Believe

Things aren't looking good at all for Floyd Landis. His back up sample also tested positive for unusual levels of hormones. For clarification, the test actually detects the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, not absolute levels. Normally, a man has a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio; however, a ratio of up to 4:1 is allowed by cycling authorities. Landis' results: 11:1.

Landis offers a five-pronged explanation to account for these suspicious findings:
1) Dehydration
2) Cortisone he was taking for his necrotic hip
3) Consumption of beer and Jack Daniels
4) Thyroid medication
5) His overwhelming, totally awesome, natural manliness

I am in no position to judge the validity of his defense, but I leave you with this Landis-inspired product from the Onion.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


I have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I don't really like to talk about it because I find the word "bowel" extremely off-putting and embarrassing. Fortunately I don't have a serious case, and it's usually only an uncomfortable inconvenience. Occasionally, however, it is extremely painful. What happens is that the muscles at some point in my intestines go into a spasm, and nothing I ate or drank earlier can go through. Sometimes when the affected area is in the upper portion of my abdomen, it presses against my diaphragm and makes it hard to breathe.

I found out I have IBS after a trip to the emergency room several years ago. I had always suffered from a touchy digestive system, but after 3 days of unremitting pain, I was afraid something had gone terribly awry. The good news was nothing was seriously wrong and I wasn't facing imminent death from gastric torture, but the bad news was that IBS is a chronic problem, and it might never go away completely.

IBS is often the reason that I don't make it out to social events and I just stop answering the phone. It gets worse with stress, so after a crappy week at work I often have a lot of pain on Friday night - just in time to wreck any going-out plans I might have had. One of the things I regret missing most was Ann T.'s engagement celebration. I was flattered to be asked, and I was really looking forward to the wine tasting. But I had to cancel just hours beforehand because it hurt so bad. Once I missed an interview for a job I really wanted at the Writer's Garret.

I do have medicine that helps, but it makes me feel slow and stupid and gives me a terrible dry mouth. I also can't drink when I take it, so it puts a definite crimp in my social style. Lately, as I had to take it more often, I found that it would wear off sooner and sooner, leaving me with 8 hours of pain to cope with until the next dose and no other options to try.

However (and I'm probably jinxing myself), I haven't had any problems in over a month. The main difference in my habits is that I've starting doing yoga once a week. I've tried exercising and eating better in the past to help reduce the symptoms, but this is the first month I can remember that I didn't have any pain at all. I usually have flare ups around that time of the month, so we'll see in a couple of weeks if I just got lucky or if I've actually found a way to deal with this condition without the drugs and the ruined plans.

I'm still a big flake and might not answer the phone when you call, but at least I'll be ignoring you because I want to. :)

You came to the right place, I guess

Looking at my referral log, I discover that Unruly Duckling is the 2nd Google hit for "Lesbianism Test" I was hoping that StatCounter would provide some amusement.

Faith and Begorrah!

Your Inner European is Irish!

Sprited and boisterous!

You drink everyone under the table.

Pretty accurate considering my roots are in Ireland. However, the only way I ever drink anyone under the table is if they crawl under there to wake me up.

Monday, August 07, 2006

What Would the Internet Do?

I'm sure you all know of one of those people who feel compelled to forward you every damn thing that comes into their email inbox - pictures of kittens, delete-this-and-you-hate-Jesus chain letters, jokes you thought were funny in the 6th grade, etc. I am on the email list of one such person.

She works for the IRS in a department that's in charge of outreach programs to low-income taxpayers, so the financial literacy program at my job works with her a lot as a member of a coalition. She may send 20 messages in a day, all from her government address. One time she even invited her whole address book to her daughter-in-law's baby shower!

I've put up with these stupid emails since I started working here because she seems like the kind of person to hold a grudge and make my job difficult if I piss her off. I also believe that she would cut us off from other organizations and resources if she gets mad at us. However, a few months ago she forwarded the email referenced in this Snopes article along with some hateful, bigoted commentary about the entire religion of Islam. Keep in mind this is coming from her work email. I was so disgusted and angry my head nearly exploded. I immediately sent out the link to the Snopes article to everyone who received the email, and one person contacted me privately saying she was glad I did.

My boss got the same email, and we talked about how we could address this with her supervisor without getting into a big, nasty showdown with this woman that would make it difficult for us to carry out programs for our clients. We don't have any idea who her supervisor is or how to get the phone number. Getting through to the IRS isn't the easiest thing in the world.

Before we could decide what to do the IRS lady sent out an email apologizing profusely for sending out false information and filling our inboxes with unprofessional messages. She promised to only send out work related emails from then on. We figured she had already gotten in trouble, and that was the end of that.

Well, that lasted less than a week before the stupid "humorous" emails started again. At one point she sent out an advertisement for tickets to the Evander Holyfield fight. WTF?

Here's where the dilemma comes in. Last week the person who took my old position called me to ask if I had seen the IRS lady's latest email. She forwarded a bunch of pictures taken during the demonstrations about the cartoon of Mohammed of protesters with violent messages on their signs. She didn't add any commentary to the email, but the forwarded message included ugly statements about Islam again. This time, however, she had specifically left me and my boss off the email.

Something has to be done about this, but I have no idea what. Yes, those pictures were accurate, and angry crackpots were carrying signs about butchering and beheading those who mock Islam. But, that is just as wrong and crazy as those excellent "Christians" who disrupt military funerals to chant "God Hates Fags" or Catholic priests who molest children and work to cover it up. This woman has no right to spread hate and fear of an entire religion, much less to use government resources to do it. (Just because the president, the military, and the congress does it, doesn't make it right. That might not be a completely fair assessment, but I thought I'd beat you to it.)

At the same time, we need her help (or at least her department's help) to run a program that does a lot of good for the people we serve. If we make it harder for them to get the services they need by standing up against one wrong, we commit another one. Addressing her directly does no good. Even if we could figure out where to complain, doing so anonymously seems cowardly. Doing nothing seems even worse.


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Story time with Grandpa

My grandpa told me this story when I was really little, and sometimes it pops into my head at the strangest times.

Once there was a little girl who had a jolly old grandfather with a long gray beard. One day the little girl asked her grandfather, "When you go to sleep at night, Grandfather, do you tuck your beard under the covers with you, or do you keep it on top of the blankets?"

The grandfather realized he really wasn't sure. He never thought about it before. So, he told the little girl that he would pay attention when he went to bed that night and tell her the next day.

That night, as the grandfather settled into bed, he tucked his beard under the covers. That didn't feel comfortable, so he thought he must leave his beard on top of the covers at night. However, when he untucked his beard, that didn't feel right either. He spent all night tucking and untucking his beard, trying in vain to remember where he usually kept his beard while he was sleeping.

He didn't sleep a wink that night, or any other night ever again, until he finally died.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Porn or Pony?

Take the disturbingly difficult "Porn Star or My Little Pony" quiz.

I only got 6 out of 12.