Collectibles vs. Merchandise

To all the adult geeks who are upset that they went to a midnight shopping frenzy and still couldn’t get their mitts on some sweet Star Wars swag – let me tell you a story…

Back in the late 90’s De and I were both living in Wisconsin, underpaid, under-appreciated, depressed and miserable. Ep 1 had been hyped for awhile and as many in my generation, we were greatly anticipating the return of our childhood favorite. Imagine it – a new Star Wars!!! And with Ewan McGregor and Liam Neeson? Be still my nerdly heart. So when ToysRUs announced they’d be opening their doors at midnight for the new action figures, both of us were in line by 9pm.

It wasn’t just pure nostalgia (or in my case, that my family never had money to buy me those action figures the first time around) that brought us there; there’s something called the “lipstick index” that theorizes that in a recession, women buy more lipstick because it’s a relatively cheap pick-me-up. New color, new makeup, new possibilities. Like a scratcher card that gives you a few minutes to imagine what you would do with all that money before you’ve scratched off all the gunk to reveal nothing in particular. For us, it was little pieces of Star Wars branded plastic, with characters and spaceships we had only seen in trailers or stills on the web. So we went. And we bought crap, some of it with a “one to take out and play with, one to collect” ethos. And in the intervening months, we’d pick up a little Darth Maul spin pop or Amidala change purse or Yoda pez dispenser every time we stopped in at Target, or the grocery store.

Eventually we moved across the country, and I divested myself of many action figures. When we moved from our apartment in Studio City to Hollywood, I pretty much got rid of anything that wasn’t 1/12 scale, and by the time we moved from Hollywood to where we are now, everything went. As an archivist, De held on to her stuff for much longer, but ran into a bit of a problem when she developed a collection policy of only high end stuff and went to deaccession her Mint-In-Box figures and toys; No one would buy them as collectibles, and even the second hand places out here wouldn’t take them as donations – something about liability if there had been a recall.

I can’t fault the critical reception of the pre-quels with the tanking of the SW collectibles market. The merch was there as part of a marketing effort and as money-makers in their own right. They weren’t “over produced” – they made Lucasfilm and approved licensees a metric crap-ton of money. That’s what merchandise is for. I don’t regret the couple of hundred bucks I spent $6 at a time – it brightened an otherwise dismal day. Nor do I regret the two Star Wars Celebration conventions I attended. They were nice vacations with geeks just like me. But it kind of makes me sad to see so many adults grab toys from a movie they haven’t even seen yet and then take to social media to complain and whine that they couldn’t get the cool stuff. Does anyone think any of the swag they release at ToysRUs or Target or Walmart will ever be worth more than what they paid for it? Do they understand they have been used as part of Disney’s powerful marketing machine? (hell, do they get that SDCC Hall H programming is nothing but corporate PR bullshit?). I hope people are at least taking them out of their packages and playing with them, posing them in their cubicles, making dioramas, whatever.

I hate to spend my time shouting at clouds, but if people would spend less time complaining about not being able to enrich giant corporations and more time just playing with toys, I wouldn’t have to.

But Dilbert is such a cliche…

Hanlon’s Law states that you should never attribute to malice that which can be explained by mere incompetence, but I’d tack on an addendum to say If you’ve left your employees wondering whether “ironic” or “dystopian” is the correct way to describe your corporate event, it may not have fulfilled it’s promise of “team building”.

Let me be honest here: I hate “team building”. Shock. Horror. I know. Who’da thunk a cynical introvert from an early age, who lacked any modicum of school spirit, hid in supply closets during recess so she could read some more of the encyclopedia, avoids any and all attempts at Class Reunions, and would rather eat ground glass than participate in a team sport would possibly be made uncomfortable by corporate rah-rah activities? Well, I am. And I will be the first to admit that many people don’t share my disdain for these outings. Just as I have no problem with public speaking or karaoke, which give many people the whirling fantods, I will allow that variety makes the world go ’round. However…

I’ll back up a little here and try not to type anything actionable while I give a little context. About a year ago a series of poor upper management decisions were put in motion, decisions that put a strain on our already-dysfunctional workplace. The chiefest among these were the acquisition of 3rd parties with no cleansed data and no requirements put on those third parties, the lion’s share of the work falling to my little corner of the department, and then the insultingly wrong decision to outsource my little corner of the department and fire most of us. Soon after those decisions were made, there was a rather drastic change in management. After having been in meetings with a sort of middley-upper manager, as well as a satisfyingly awkward conversation with the new Head of the Division, I am willing to take at face value their insistence that there’s no “chain of command” bullshit, that going forward acquisitions would be dealt with with more care. However, middle management has been middle managing in the same dysfunctional way.

The dysfunction hasn’t gone unnoticed by upper management, and they decided that the best way to deal with that would be an “away day” of brain-storming and team-building. We were given a tap card so that we could use public transit to get us to the off-site location at Hollywood and Vine, which happened to be about halfway between my apartment and work. Accordingly, I did not waste my gas driving to work and driving home, just made use of my keen public transit knowledge gained from the Dark Time when I didn’t own a car. I got there sweaty and feeling like I needed a do-over on my shower, as is customary for public transit. The first thing I noticed was that there were place cards on the various tables. Also, there was fairly loud music. Despite the fact that my manager and director were at my table, I spent most of the time waiting for the event to begin either scrolling through my phone or reading a book. Which was pretty much what everyone else at my table did. My manager joked that this was the first test of the team-building, which I didn’t doubt for a second.

By the time the event got started, I was ready to be lectured at. There was an activity (of course): we were divided into three groups and each table was given some puzzle pieces. An elaborate system was devised to slow down the creation of the puzzle, and we were timed. Naturally we were set up to fail – a puzzle piece was missing from each team, and the “game” devolved into full contact Aussie Rules Football as people from other groups tried to “steal” pieces or keep the pieces from being stolen. A few of us stepped back (all credit to the dude on my team whose first instinct was to draw a picture of the missing piece though – it’s a shame his creative impulse was mooted by the screeching howler monkeys and their thievery), unwilling to get involved in such a violent fray. When we were done, the leader of the object lesson told us all how we failed and spent the next 45 minutes or so explaining how we could all work more efficiently together. Which was nice. I’m not even being sarcastic here – it was a nice sentiment. The handouts she brought backed up her statements about co-operation vs. collaboration. I would love to implement all the steps it would take to engender a fully collaborative work environment. But here’s the thing – I am but a cog in a vast machine. Most of us in the chairs were not middle management. We don’t set the tone. Putting the onus of un-fucking a dysfunctional environment on the lowest folks on the totem pole (and then blaming them for not being team players when things inevitably go south) is pretty damn gormless. The game was dominated by a bunch of hyper-competitive pushy people because the division is dominated by them. On the other side of the table are the quieter, more cautious analytical types. Both types of employee are necessary, but only one type is rewarded. If the changes don’t come from the top, no amount of hands-on demonstrations or power point presentations are going to fix the corporate culture from below.

But that wasn’t the worst the day had to offer. After a light lunch, we were shuffled off to new assigned seats and treated to some amateur theatrics when a few people dressed like funeral directors burst into the room and gave us a new assignment. Through the medium of corny murder mystery dinner theatre, it was brought to our attention that someone had “kidnapped” our division head. Our assignment was to find “the boss” (responsible for the alleged abduction) and find out where our division head was being held. How were we going to do that? With a few phone apps, a camera, and some helpful confederates lurking around the block. Did I mention we were at Hollywood and Vine? I used to live in that neighborhood. It is not a great idea to go talking to random people on the street there. Also, it was about a million degrees and I had not brought sun-block.

Now if you were trying to punish me for some heinous misdeed, this would be a great template – make me interrogate strangers under the full hateful strength of the sun. We were given a password (“Elvis”) and sent on our way. Most of the awfulness of this endeavor is best left as an exercise to the reader. I will note that myself and one or two others on my team were exceptionally good at observation. I was the only one who could accurately ascertain which rando’s were part of the game (“… no, the hollywood star tour flyer guy is not one of the actors – he’s got dingy underwear coming out of his pants. No one is that method.”) and I did think to google the riddles they gave us as clues, so I wasn’t completely useless. Also, at one of the three bars we had to go into, my cynical mien (and the fact that I couldn’t fit in the corner of the dive bar to interrogate the actor within) offered me some entertainment, when a barfly straight out of central casting asked if I was part of this “work release or some kind of community service?” I shook my head and said “Almost; corporate team-building.” He nodded and told me he used to be in Sales, and they did this every year or so – the difference was that their performance during the team-building event directly affected their accounts. We bitched a bit more and he bought me a second cuba libre (the sympathtic person in charge of my team bought my first), which I sadly had to bolt as my team members had wrung the requisite information out of their quarry.

About halfway through the exercise we were given a packet informing us there might be a mole on the team, and we were to find the mole for x amount of points. If we guessed wrong, we would lose that many points. Now I looked around at my team and I could tell there was no mole. No one was trying mis-direct us (in fact, I probably wound up with the best team possible under the circumstances, as most of us were vaguely embarrassed to participate), no one was behaving suspiciously. My years of acting training somehow never made me a more than adequate actor, but I am super-awesome at seeing when someone’s acting, and no one on my team was doing that (OK, the supposed informants were, quite obviously)… but – I did identify a different team’s mole. And one of my team-mates identified yet another team’s mole. I told you we were good at observation. But that didn’t help us. At one point, two of my team-mates decided I MUST be the mole and demanded to search my purse. I rolled my eyes and made sure the pocket with all the maxi-pads in it was the first they got to. Even after the folder was turned in for the final scoring (they listed the other team’s moles. we got no points for that, which I feel was unfair) someone still asked me. I guess apathy is suspicious? (FTR, our team’s assigned mole was absent that day, so I was entirely vindicated.)

We didn’t do as poorly as I had thought – we were ranked about halfway in – but as they went through scoring system and attempted to explain how each task somehow related to work, I had to wonder if the sowing the seeds of suspicion and discord wasn’t really the point of the whole exercise. I mean, it sure seemed like it. And it was one more activity that reinforced the dysfunctions of the workplace – be extroverted, forget caution and safety, and be suspicious of your co-workers. Got it.

So the next time I’m required to do one of these things, I will give it a try, but if I had to do it again, I’d probably feign (or induce) gastro-intestinal distress after lunch and spend the afternoon catching up on the data analysis that makes up most of my work.

On The Death of The Mall

Against my better judgment, I went to a mall on Sunday rather than just ordering the thing I needed on line. What can I say – sometimes I like to receive my goods and/or services a moment after I pay for them. That’ll teach me.

While I was already in the hellmouth, I figured I may as well check the department stores for a few odds and ends in apparel. This is always an extra challenge for the over 50% of consumers who are my size or larger. I had to remember which stores had my size at the end of the women’s wear labyrinth usually next to the Petites department in what I like to call “the freak show sizes”, and which one crammed them between housewares and baby clothes. The quest ended as it often does in disappointment. Everything was vile. I’m not exaggerating. Ugly colors, unflattering cuts, lousy quality and the worst fabrics. Even if I were inclined to wear disgustingly floppy, shapeless peasant tops, I have no idea why I would wear them out of synthetic diaphanous fabric which require a second layer of clothing just to be work/eyesight appropriate. On a scale of 1-10, my odds of wearing pure Poly-fucking-ester in LA in the summer are roughly -738. For once, the skinny person section was just as horrid as the fatties. Which I know because despite the fact that I was there as soon as they opened, the fat lady racks were full of mis-filed clothing. Maternity wear, juniors size L and XL, even a few men’s things were scattered amongst the 2Xs. Finding absolutely nothing I would be seen in public in (and those of you who know me know exactly how low that bar is) I stopped in the size-agnostic purse department to look for a clutch for a dressy event, and every one I liked had its price tag torn off it with no sku in sight.

Once out of the department stores (one of which puts the fat lady section – and yes, more than 50% of consumers wear those sizes – wedged between housewares and baby clothes) I considered visiting the hundreds of other shops littered about. Out of 49 women’s apparel stores, only ONE (1) has clothing in my size. I was in the mood to buy an obscenely overpriced Star Wars or Wonder Woman t-shirt ($35, ladies and gents. welcome to the fat tax) but even that store had only smaller and larger SW/WW shirts (to be fair, I could have purchased a Disney one if I were a half a generation younger). Even Clarks, the go-to place for thrill-free utilitarian shoes in an array of widths, is no longer carrying the wide widths in the store. “We can order them for you!” they offered. Thanks. So can I. Why would I bother to park my car in this abomination just so you can work the internet in my stead?

And to top it all off, in the end I wound up purchasing my second choice of color on the thing I originally went in for because while the internet showed the goods in black, brown/black, pink, purple and aqua, the store actually had a half a wall of that hideous color your never sure is brown (or was it black?) and pink. Which. Well, it’ll match fine. And I already used the gas and parked and all that hassle. I just really wanted the purple.

But that’s OK, because I won’t make that mistake again.

So, brick and mortar stores – are you worried you’re going out of business because of the internet? No. You’re going out of business because you refuse to do the things the internet can’t do: let me try stuff on to make sure it fits, provide decent customer service and a relatively non-chaotic shopping experience. Shit you were somehow able to do before internet shopping became the norm. You could have had literally half the paycheck burning a hole in my pocket. Instead, all you’ll get from me is a gleeful cackle for every article I read prognosticating your doom.

Look Out, It’s The Genre Police!

This irritant appeared in my facebook feed first thing in the morning… (click to embiggen)


This is the default station in my car, for when I forget to grab my iPod, so to top off that needlessly snarky post I got to enjoy an excerpt from Garrett’s album- but only after much scoffing and audible eye-rolling. It was nice. It didn’t sound like it was recorded in a swimming pool, there was no weird vibrato thing happening (I’m looking at you, Ofra Harnoy), in short if they hadn’t made a big deal out of the preposterousness of its existence, I would have enjoyed hearing more. I wonder why the idea of “Popular Classical Music” in general and this particular violinist in particular roused such ire with the station?


Is it his Fabio-lite styling? His Sonny Crockett-esque stubble? His inability to work buttons? Because if they’re going to get upset about unrealistic beauty standards in the IMPORTANT, SERIOUS business of classical music, guys – that ship has sailed. But only for women. Which is why every woman you’ve seen on the concert stage or CD cover these days is wearing something skin-tight with thigh slits up to the ribcage. We may make up 51% of the population, but if the other 49 (give or take 10%) can’t listen to a pianist absolutely shred on Prokofiev without reorganizing their spank-banks, what’s the point of lady musicians anyway?

True story: I went to see the finale concert of the LA Phil’s Festival of Cellists or whatever it was a couple of years ago. There were many soloists, as well as a 100-piece cello choir augmented by the terrifyingly talented adorable students at the Colburn school. The last piece had every notable cellist from the previous week’s concerto presentations playing together. It was glorious. Until I realized all the Special Guests were middle-aged men. I have been taught by many super-talented female cellists. There are plenty in orchestras around the world. The cello choir with the kids was chock full of them. And yet. I mean, something must happen to female cellists once they hit 35-ish, right? Perhaps they, having glorified the world by playing the best, most prettiest instrument, are finally carried up into heaven upon a cloud of sheer gossamer, propelled by the farts of a thousand cherubim. Because that’s the only explanation for the lack of paunchy, grey-haired FEMALE cellist superstars since we know that Classical Music is a meritocracy and there’s no sexism. Would I rather my favorite musical form be as meritocratic as promised, and having nothing to do with looks? HELLS YEAH (says the homely spinster). But as we seem to be incapable of treating women as humans, I’m all for men getting this bullshit dumped on them too. Bring on the shirtless Chris Hemsworth of Flautists, I say.


This is a tricky one. What sets the Classical Music world apart from other forms of music is not just the complexity of the composition, but the technical mastery of the musician. One of the reasons some types of Pop Music are very much Not My Thing is that I think not knowing more than three chords, how to tune your instrument or how to sing on pitch kind of negates your claim to be a musician. So there’s my snobbery laid bare for everyone to see. And hell, a little Elitism isn’t a bad thing. I am a shite cellist. If I practiced diligently for many years, I might advance all the way to “adequate”. The “elitism” of classical music world keeps cello-loving mediocrities like myself well away from the grand stages of the world and happily buying tickets in the audience so that the super-awesome musicians on stage can get paid! It all works out! But then you look at this young gentleman with the jewelry and the flowing locks and the exposed sternum and everything and the first reaction of the Classical Music Community is to clutch their pearls, collapse onto their fainting couches and call for their smelling salts because THERE ARE TOO MANY FANS OF THIS THING WE LOVE AND THEY ARE ENJOYING IT ALL WRONG. It’s like the world’s most geriatric hipsters trying to prove how awesome they are by ensuring no one else gets to hear the music. I liked Liszt before he was cool, you say, and I’m all DUDE LISZT WAS ALWAYS FUCKING COOL LOOK UP LISZTOMANIA YOU PILLOCKS. And Schubert wrote a whole quintet to pay for a fish (I hope it was delicious). Art and commerce have always gone together and the more fans a type of music has, the more composers and musicians get to make their living – or buy a little seafood – at the end of the day. Is classical music really in the position to be excluding new fans due to some bullshit adherence to genre purity?


And really, Classical Station, are you upset that the variations Mr. Garrett is performing are the WRONG variations on Paganini? Like, the only “Variations” you will countenance are the ones devised by Rachmaninov? HOW CAN YOU EVEN CADENZA IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT VARIATION MEANS?!! Also, the sheer number of times I have had to sit through Dvorak’s New World (thanks for ruining that for me), Borodin’s Prince Igor Suite, that One Recording Of Brandenburg With The Coke-Addict Tempo, and Ravel’s “Worse Than Pachelbel” Bolero, which people only like because they’re imagining Bo Derek’s slow-motion bewbs, really wrecks the misapprehension you have that Classical Music is not Popular Music. I bet if I moved the dial on my stereo a bit, I’d hear Taylor Swift with the same frequency that I have to hear Copland’s Ironically Complicated Simple Gifts, and at least she doesn’t make me think about the Amish.

In Conclusion

It’s not the ridiculously over-the-top image styling of musicians, or crowd-pleasing arrangements of familiar music, or even boors who have the temerity to wear jeans or clap between movements who are a danger to Classical Music. It is the gatekeepers that are strangling it to death just to make sure the wrong sort of person never loves it. That, and Ravel’s Bolero.

Nom Time with Suzy Homemaker

If you opted out of going to your Mormon or Midwestern home for The Holidays, you may be craving some beige comfort food right about now. I am here to help.

How To Make The Casserole of Delicious Shame


1 can of Cream of Sodium, Preservatives and Petroleum By-Products soup. Brand immaterial. Although you know your mom went with Campbells. Make sure it’s Campbells.

1 package of non-elongated pasta, such as shells, macaroni or rotini. I did the tri-color rotini, because the green and red ones count as vegetables.

Cheese. More than one kind, good and melty. This is what Velveeta was born for, but now that you’re a grown-up with more adult tastes, go for the smoked gouda, the sophisticate’s process cheese-food product. Also, anything else you have in the fridge that will melt. I went with gouda, shredded “mexican blend” and grated pecorino-romano.

*Optional – Leftover meat. Lunch meat. A can of potted meat. Basically, some protein. I had a bunch of chicken breast I made for quesadillas left over. It was pretty much coated in taco seasoning. Zesty!

* Also Optional – chives, green onions, chopped up bell peppers, sliced olives. Do not get fancy. would your mom use kalamatas? I don’t think so.


Make the noodles. Probably the whole package. Follow the directions, then drain and rinse them.

Look, you’re probably not going to use the whole thing of noodles. This recipe originally involved a ratio of 1 box of noodles to 1 can of soup. Unfortunately, packaging sizes have not shrunk consistently over the decades, so now you’re going to have to throw a few noodles out. Why didn’t I tell you to boil fewer noodles in the first place? BECAUSE WHAT IF YOU NEED MORE NOODLES. YOU DON’T KNOW. You are probably at a point in your life where you can afford to throw out like 2 oz of noodles, but if you’re not, by all means put them in a tupperware and save them for some other noodle-related application.

Noodles. Yes. Start with about half of the drained noodles. Toss them in a mixing bowl and dump the contents of your Cream Of Atherosclerosis Soup in there. Mix it up good and throw in any optional add-ins. Add more noodles until it’s not too goopy to serve on a plate.

Mix in your cheeses. Don’t be shy. Who doesn’t like cheese? Only my co-worker David and the lactose intolerant, and they don’t need to partake in your bounty.

*NOTE: if you are a college student, you can save yourself a dirty mixing bowl and combine the ingredients back in the now-empty pasta pot on top of a low burner, melting it all together pretty quickly. If you are not, do yourself a favor and dirty up two extra dishes – the aforementioned mixing bowl and now a casserole dish of about 2.5 qt size – sprinkle some more cheese on top and stick it in a 350 degree oven for at least a half hour. Or until the cheese is melty. You may want to put a lid/some foil on top to keep everything from congealing.

Serve hot, on a plate with actual silverware and napkins that are not also paper towels. Think about the roasted artichokes, braised short-ribs, spinach salad, homemade hummus, salmon en papillote, chicken piccata and dilled green beans on this month’s menu, while giving thanks for the women who worked outside the home to afford to keep their families full of comforting, satisfying, cheese-laden beige foods.

Questions, answered

Want to get to know me better, but frustrated by my taciturn nature? Fine. Here is everything you need to know about me in convenient list form.

the ideal person to you, what three things would they smell of?

Cloves. New Picture Book. Bounce dryer sheets.

what type of fairy creature would you think lived in your house?

The kind who didn’t understand the “fairy” part of fairy dust, and just flitted around dumping regular dust all over everything.

what is your most otherworldly feature?

It’s a toss-up between my uncanny philtrum and my ineffable pancreas.

if you were a monarch, what would your crown be crafted of?

Mixed-media assemblage of decoupage, outdated chinese take-out menus, tiny bells and glitter.

 if you had to carry a gemstone under your tongue at all times, what would it be?

Opal. It looks delicious.

what book would you hide a knife inside?

Vol. 2 of Pepys’ Diary. Vol. 1 is too obvious.
what class of angel would you be a part of?

Probably Ophanim. Because who doesn’t want to be a wheel-within-a-wheel, the rims covered in hundreds of eyes? Only idiots, that’s who. VROOM VROOM I’M AN OPHANIM!
what three items will you need when your family waves goodbye to you and sends you into the sea?

Scissors. Horn of Gondor. Garlic press.

what is a fairy-tale which runs parallel to your life?

I hadn’t realized there was a precedent for living in a mobile domicile on chicken legs fenced in by posts made of human bones, but apparently Baba Yaga did it first.

if your body is a swarm or a plague, of what?

I am a plague of wisdom you never wanted to have. A swarm of secrets you wish would remain unspoken. An epidemic of knowledge better left undiscovered. And right now I’d like some hot chocolate.

The Tragedy of the Salad Spinner

This afternoon I was reading some Amazon reviews on mini-salad spinners, as you do. OK, it was because I wanted something I could… You know what? I don’t owe you an explanation. I don’t owe anyone an explanation. There’s no law against reading Amazon reviews, or mini-salad spinners, or reading. YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME. I DO WHAT I WANT. So. Salad Spinner – reviews of. I ran across this opening line in a review of a mini-salad spinner:

 “My late wife kept asking me for a salad spinner for a long time, but I always demurred because the ones that I had seen were designed so poorly as to foretell breaking soon.”

Your wife, rest her soul, wanted nothing more than a simple implement to help her rinse and crisp leafy produce. Something to save hours of pounding the lettuce on the rocks by the river and hanging them on the line to dry each and every salad day [n.b. – I am not 100% certain this is how one processed salads before salad-spinner technology was developed, but it seems likely.] and you, parsimonious to the point of qualifying as a Grade-A Cheap-skate, determined that this was not necessary. Based on what knowledge, exactly, was that judgment made? Did you make salads, or indeed any foodstuff for the home? No. You did not. You wouldn’t know the difference between iceberg and romaine lettuces if your salvation depended upon it. You wouldn’t recognize arugula if it marched onto your plate carrying a sign “I AM ARUGULA – SPICIEST OF THE SALAD LEAVES!” You neither know – nor care about – the secret of emulsifying a vinaigrette, or how the right crouton can transform a dull side-salad into a zesty main dish. And it is to you, a salad ignoramus of the highest order, that your late wife (may she rest in peace) had to apply to get just one little gadget for the kitchen.

I must ask, sir, was this not a grown-ass woman? What could possibly be the reason she was not permitted to select her own small mechanical helpmeets? Perhaps she once absconded with your charge card and spent $18,320 at Williams-Sonoma on assorted ergonomic citrus reamers, onion goggles and a sous-vide machine and could no longer be entrusted around kitchen implements. Was it that her quest to find the perfect garlic press left you with over 136 of them moldering away in the garden shed, when everyone knows you can just use the flat of a chef’s knife, for fucks sake, added strain to your marriage. Maybe her careless use of a dehydrator led to the political de-stabilization of a small central american country. I don’t know. But it seems like, just this once, you could have humored your late wife and “allowed” her to get a salad spinner.

“Go ahead, Ethel,” you could have said in a fit of magnanimity, “Pick out your favorite salad spinner. And why don’t you choose which jello to use in the jello mold tonight. After all, it is Christmas!”

But no, Melvin, you didn’t say that. Because some latent oracular talent presented itself and “foretold” that such an item might eventually break. As if none of your household goods may submit to the law of entropy .  And now you sit, alone with only memories of your sainted wife daubing gently at damp baby spinach leaves as you permit yourself the luxury of spinning your own salad in the one appliance she ever desired, but could never have.

You disgust me.