Friday, September 28, 2007


Misheard lyrics (also called mondegreens) occur when people misunderstand the lyrics in a song; e.g. Hold me closer, Tony Danza from Elton John's "Tiny Dancer". I've been emailing some of these to my family, but they are so funny that I feel compelled to post about it. You can tell I really have way too much time on my hands at work right now.

This one of the well known song "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen was so funny that I started crying because I was having to stifle the laughter in my office. I actually laughed so hard (or actually kept myself from laughing so hard) that I wet myself a little. Especially when I actually put the song on my iPod and found out they are right! So I had to take off my panties and seal them in a Ziploc bag and put it in my purse. Now I'm thinking that if I get stopped by the subway cops and searched, they're going to think I'm carrying around a lesbian sex trophy or something...

Queen's, "Another One Bites The Dust"
Misheard Lyrics:
Ah, take it!
Right in the nuts!
Call a doctor!

Original Lyrics:
Ah, take it!
Bite the dust!
Bite the dust, yeah!

If you liked that one, here are some more, gathered from various places around the Web.

"Born to Run," Bruce Springsteen
Truly a classic, but it's got some awesomely misunderstood lines . "Wrap your hands 'round my INCHES?" "The highway's jammed with broken GYROS?" "CHUMPS like us, baby we were born to run?"

"We Didn't Start the Fire," Billy Joel
Like all list songs, "Fire" trips listeners up with its sheer torrent of names and phrases, especially when the age groups singing it aren't familiar with topics such as Dien Bien Phu and children of Thalidomide. A few choice mishearings include: "Chocolate in the sewers" ("Trouble in the Suez"), "Gretchen's in Afghanistan" ("Russians in Afghanistan"), and "British beat Romania" ("British Beatlemania").

"Smells Like Teen Spirit," Nirvana
Kurt Cobain could be difficult to understand on his best days. But "Teen Spirit" is probably the song that most people get wrong. The title was sparked when Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill wrote "Kurt smells like Teen Spirit" on a wall, referring to Teen Spirit deodorant. And as for the lyrics, well, I don't think I understood them until I heard the Tori Amos cover. On the misheard-lyrics site, "Teen Spirit" has the second-largest number of misheard lyrics submitted, behind only "Blinded by the Light." And I'd say it might have some of the funniest ones ever. Here we are now, in containers! A mosquito, ate my Cheetos! Amaretto, in a needle! I'm with Kato, in a Beetle!

Manfred Mann's Earth Band 's, "Blinded By The Light "
Misheard Lyrics:
Wrapped up like a douche and then I rode her in the night.

Original Lyrics:
Revved up like a deuce, another runner in the night.

The Toto song is even more fun. I confessed that, in Toto's "Africa," I always heard a certain lyric wrong. The actual line, according to Toto's own Web site, is "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti." I always heard it as "Sure as Kilimanjaro rises up like Memphis above the Serengeti" (or even the nonsensical, "rises like a membrus," whatever a "membrus" sounds kinda sexual to me).

Happily, I was not the only confused listener. From your comments:

• "Whoa, all this time I thought it was 'rises like an empress....' Hmmm." --Kristen
• "Oh my God. Kilimanjaro rises 'like Olympus'? I always thought it rose 'like a leopard!' What a disappointment." --Lori
• "I always thought it was 'like a leopress'... isn't that a female leopard, and doesn't that make more sense?" --Rick
• And from a different part of the song, Sue confesses "Growing up my sister and I always sang Toto's "Africa" as ' I left my brains down in Africa,' rather than 'I bless the rains down in Africa.'"

Another song that came up often: Prince's "Little Red Corvette." Now for this one, I thought the title alone would give it away, but here are some of the versions you heard:

• "My sister used to sing 'Pay the rent, Colette' instead of 'Little Red Corvette' whenever the Prince song came on the radio. She's grown now, with daughters of her own, and they think that is the funniest thing in the world!" -- Jen
• "My brother swore it was 'pay the rent collect' which even he admitted didn't make sense." --Rob
• My mom, when she was young, used to think 'Little Red Corvette" was 'pay the rent or else.' " --Des
• When I was a kid, I always thought Prince's 'Little Red Corvette' was 'Live in Corvette.' " --Julie
• "When Prince would sing 'Little Red Corvette,' I always thought it was 'Livin' in Quebec.' I think I was around 19 when I realized I was wrong." --Tiffany

My daughter has always had a problem with the chorus of "Africa" by Toto. Instead of "There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do" she hears "There's nothing that a hundred men FROM MARS can ever do."

When I was I kid I thought the line from Nine Inch Nails "Down in It" was "I was a muppet now I'm doubted". The line is really "I was up above it now I'm down in it". Yeah, I know. At the time it made sense.

For years I thought it was "Secret Asian Man" until a few of my friends laughed outloud when they heard me singing it!!! I still think it sounds more like that than "Secret Agent Man." He slurrs.

Here's one that made me cry laughing... I remember sitting listening to Elton John's new album and wondering how in the world someone could get away with singing "Someone saved my life tonight.. s**t the bed". We STILL sing it that way and it never ceases to make me howl.

I was married to a musician and he continually got angry over my misheard lyrics. The one that sticks into my head to this day is from The Eagles Hotel California when the "warm smell of policemen, rise up in the air."

My sister always thought "Rock the Casbah" was "F**K the Catwalk" she used to sing it as a kid and got in big trouble at school!

Happy Birthday to da Bug!

It's been a quiet week at work, which has been pleasant. I was out on Tuesday celebrating Bug's birthday (more on that later) and Wednesday my boss left for Saudi Arabia for 10 days. Plus, we lost the ethanol pitch, so quite frankly I've got a lot of free time on my hands right now until other stuff fills the void. Which is all good because I've been dealing with some personal issues this week.

So Tuesday we started the day at home with our traditional overwhelming pile of presents. Bee and Tara wrapped theirs in blue and silver, to coordinate with Bug's blue-streaked hair. I opted for traditional French provincial wrapping paper I got from the Met when we visited the Rembrandt exhibit last week, so the pile looked a little uncoordinated, but my creative piling method helped to restore some order to the chaos.

A big pile 'o' presents

After opening all the presents, we drove to Palisades Center and followed Bug as she led us around to every store in the mall. We stopped at Jo-Ann's for a good while since Bug is a visual artist who works in textiles on occasion. She also got a cool Alienware PS2 controller in electric blue at a game shop, while I picked up some cheap used copies of Batman Returns, The Curse of the Golden Flower and The Brothers Grimm (a recent Terry Gilliam film). Of course we had to fight through the hordes of Halo 3 fans to check out, since it was launch day for that game.

We had a bite to eat at the food court (which was possibly the worst bowl of chili I've ever had in my life) and then went to Dave & Busters to play video games. We had dinner at a place called Cheeburger Cheeburger, which has some of the best burgers anywhere, I have to say, although I'm not really a burger aficionado. We ate way too much, then went home to digest and watch the end of the Yankees game.

After the game we had our Carvel ice cream in the shape of a whale (we call him Fudgie the Whale). Bee had the very cool idea of decorating the wall with blue and while ballons (again, to coordinate with Bug's hair, not because we're Jewish or Greek) and spell out Bug's age in binary code. Funnily enough, with the flowery wallpaper in the background, it looks a lot like the huge pile of presents she had opened that morning. Props to those who can decipher her age from this picture - you get the geek gold star award!

Bee spelled Bug's birthday in binary with blue balloons

Monday, September 24, 2007

La Boheme

It was a relaxing weekend after my crazy week, which was punctuated by Friday night's adventure with Agnieszka and Carol at the New York City Opera.

Original poster for La Boheme

We met at an Italian restaurant just across the street from Lincoln Center and had a quick dinner. I came directly from work, and they took a bus in together from New Jersey. It was Carol's first opera ever, and I'm glad it was this one, being one of my top three favorites. Agnieszka has seen several operas, but never this one. I saw the Met's performance of the opera last year, but it was interesting seeing the different staging at the NYC Opera.

Of course what makes it even more interesting how I just saw Rent on Broadway, and less than two weeks later I'm seeing the opera that inspired it, with the truly original Mimi, Rodolfo (Roger), Marcello (Mark) and Benoit (Benny). Different music, different names, but the same story, with the notable exception that Mimi actually dies at the end of the opera. In fact, the only opera with a happy ending that comes swiftly to mind is Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro.

After the opera I rode the bus back to Paramus with my friends, and then had to hike about 12 blocks over the Passaic River and through Wallington to get back to Agnieszka's house. Fortunately we didn't run into trouble, but I'm not keen on doing that again. Carol then gave me a lift back to Yoshi at the train station garage on her way home.

Saturday was a relaxing day - did my errands in the early afternoon including a stop at Borders to pick up a couple of DVDs: Troy (Director's Cut) and Absolute Garbage, a band I've been rediscovering since checking out their album Bleed Like Me.

Speaking of getting into music, I've been obsessing over the British rock band Muse for the past two weeks, listening to their past two albums, Absolution and Black Holes and Revelations. I think of them as a cross between Jeff Buckley and Radiohead, with a little of Porcupine Tree's penchant for writing catchy rock melodies. Check out the songs "Time is Running Out," "Starlight" and "Supermassive Black Hole" and you'll see what I mean.

Sunday I cleaned the apartment, and also went to Loehmann's to spend all my collected coupons, including my legal birthday discount of 15% off the top of everything. I got several tops, four pairs of earrings, a colorful skirt and a couple thongs. I didn't buy many bottoms because I'm still losing weight and my size is likely to change. I've lost 15 pounds now since starting my diet August 13 (about six weeks ago) and still sticking with it. I'm starting to see a difference in my face, which is noticeably less chubby, and of course my waist size has gone back to about what it was in late 2005. I had set a goal for myself of 20 pounds when I started, but I might amend that when I get there.

Friday, September 21, 2007

More museums

mu-se-um \ n : an institution devoted to the procurement, care and display of objects of lasting interest or value

That's from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, which a journalism professor once told me is the only dictionary that matters because it's used in U.S. courts of law. No offense to those of you who use Franklin, Oxford or American Heritage dictionaries.

Anyway, I was talking with my family last night after watching Star Trek Nemesis (first time for all of us, and it was a good ending to the series which I bought yesterday in a nine-movie box set) and the conversation turned to my recent survey, specifically the museums we've visited. We all realized that we've left off museums from our respective lists, and then it became a discussion on what exactly separates a museum from a visitor's center or historical landmark.

To elaborate on the definition above, I think a museum has to be a dynamic collection, one that actively seeks to procure new pieces for its collection. If the collection is static and unchanging, it becomes less of a museum and more of a gallery or a monument. Procurement means that there has to be funding, above and beyond what's required just to keep the current collection on display. That usually implies the use of civic grants, memberships and patrons, although the scale of acquisitions may be at a level that can be supported by visitor fees, gift shop revenue and donations alone.

For example, I've seen the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London, but since there are no new Crown Jewels being added, I don't consider the Tower of London a museum, even though it houses many artifacts of historical significance. It's really more of a historic site and tourist attraction than a living, breathing museum. An interesting corollary is that by this definition a zoo is also a museum, but a specific subset that isn't part of this discussion.

So in the spirit of completeness, I have to add the following museums to my previous answer to the question of which museums I have visited in my life: the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Cloisters in NYC, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the Children's Museum in Houston, the New York Historical Society, the Menil Collection in Houston, and the Bayou Bend Collection and Gardens in Houston. Three others I'll mention, but don't really fit the description I've spelled out, are the Houston Fire Museum, Madame Tussad's Wax Museum in London, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum in London.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Busy 5 days

Now that my recently whirlwind life is winding down, it's time to get caught up on this blog. It's been a confluence of work and family events that have combined to make life very interesting this past five days.

Saturday I got up late as usual, barely enough time to run my regular errands (post office, library and pick up my tailoring) before it was time to pick up my family for a trip to the Met for a members-only sneak preview to the new Rembrandt exhibit.

After touring the exhibit, we browsed through the gift shop and I got a poster of John Singer Sargent's painting, "In the Luxembourg Gardens" (1879) for my living room. I was also looking for a poster of Renoir's "Sleeping Girl with a Cat" (1880) a painting from the recent Clark Brothers exhibit I found particularly striking, but had to settle for a book on Renoir instead. I also got a lovely black pleated velvet scarf inspired by Sargent's "Madame X" (1883-84) that hangs on permanent display in what little space remains open in the American Wing while it's being remodeled. I also got an Impressionist desk calendar for the office, and some gift wrapping paper, since there was a member's sale going on.

Also during our tour of the American Wing, I wanted to shoot this movie of the 360 degree panoramic painting of the gardens at Versailles, just to show everyone who hasn't been there what it looks like.

Versailles in the round

After I shot this clip, I moved to the center of the room to shoot another one, and got halfway around when a security guard yelled out, "NO VIDEO!!" so loudly that my family heard it in another gallery down the hallway. I thought it was pretty stupid to allow photos but not video, especially since it's a PAINTING, not a dance routine. But since I already got what I needed, I put my camera away. I just wanted everyone to know what I routinely endure to bring this stuff to you!

Sunday was my one day to relax, but as it turned out to be filled with errands. I had originally thought about going to the Pickle Day Festival in the city with Agnieszka, but I realized I had too many things to do to prepare for my busy week ahead. When I got up Sunday I realized that I didn't have a suitcase for Tuesday's trip to Washington D.C. I once had a small carry-on bag, but I had forgotten that it was destroyed in the fire in March. All I have is a full-size suitcase, which is too big for an overnight trip. Then Sunday morning I also discovered that my face powder had run out, so with two additional chores, I decided not to go so I could get stuff done.

I started out by getting my nails done, as I wanted to make a good impression and my nails were looking rather shabby. Then I went to Michael's Arts & Crafts because they are having a 50% off sale on custom framing, and I wanted to frame my new Sargent poster. Then I went to Home Depot to get a tool for hanging pictures on the wall, then to Marshalls to buy a suitcase. Then I went to Bloomingdale's for my face powder, and last to Costco for food and stuff. So it was a very busy but productive day for me, and I was happy to get all that done before the craziness of the work week started up.

Monday was my usual day at work, but that night my family and I met at Madison Square Garden to see Rush in concert and it was awesome! Probably the best concert I've ever been to, better than the Police at Giants Stadium last month. I've only been exposed to Rush since December 2005 (other than the ubiquious tune Tom Sawyer; Moving Pictures was the only Rush album I've ever owned). For me, as a Rush newcomer, even the old songs like Spirit of Radio sounded so fresh, especially when driven by the enthusiasm of thousands of die-hard fans clapping and singing in unison. In addition to the music, the lightshow, lasers, pyrotechnics and creative video surpassed anything I'd ever seen before at a live rock concert. Plus the sound quality in the Garden is outstanding - everything was so clear and full-sounding - much better than what I'm used to in the Astrodome, the Summit and other such arenas. Definitely the highlight for me was Between the Wheels, which has emerged from obscurity to become a recent show favorite.

The LAZER show, as Dr. Evil might say
Tom Sawyer with South Park intro

Tuesday I had to get in extra-early to do a dress rehearsal for our big ethanol pitch, and I think it went well. We'll probably hear the results in the next 24 hours on whether we won it or not. Then I was off to Washington D.C. on the Amtrak Acela Express train with two of my co-workers. It was the first time I've ever been on an Amtrak train, and it was very nice. Much better than a cramped airplane cabin, that's for sure. The ride was also a lot smoother than the New Jersey Transit trains I'm used to taking every day - it's like they have better shocks and a lot more noise insulation. There's even a "quiet car" available where cell phones and loud talking are prohibited. And also, there's no danger of being sat next to a crying baby, as on an airplane with assigned seating.

We got to DC in about three hours, and checked into the J.W. Marriott one block from Pennsylvania Avenue. Here's the view from outside my hotel room:

View from the J. W. Marriott

That evening we went to dinner at a nice seafood restaurant, where I gamely tried to stick to my diet by ordering the albacore tuna. But the hot appetizer plate of crabcakes, clams casino, oysters rockefeller and shrimp al douce undid me a little. At least I passed on what had to be the world's largest hash brown patty:

Hash brown - or is it a seat cushion?

My somewhat healthy entree

Wednesday morning I got up too late to do any sightseeing, so we went to our meeting which was very friendly and productive. I did manage to snap a couple of photos of landmarks from the taxi on our way to Union Station.

Where all the fat cats are

National Archives - wish that bus had moved!

And I got a nice photo inside Union Station after my boss and I finished lunch before boarding the train. Sure looks a lot nicer than Penn Station in New York!

Union Station in Washington DC

Another three-hour ride home, but luckily we sat in the quiet car and I dozed most of the way while my boss checked his email on his Blackberry. We stopped at Newark and I had a car waiting to take me back to my train station where Yoshi had been parked since Tuesday. Then I went to the doctor for my allergy shots and finally returned home.

Today should be a quiet day at the office (as evidenced by this long entry) and I'm looking forward to spending some quiet time with my family tonight. Then Friday Agnieszka and I are taking a mutual friend to see La Boheme at Lincoln Center, so that should be fun too. Probably won't get away with taking pictures at that event though :P

Friday, September 14, 2007

Survey for mature readers

What with all the surveys I've done since I started blogging, it's always been in the back of my mind to actually create my own survey of questions that I'd actually ask someone I was trying to get to know. I don't really care what kind of toothpaste someone uses, what they wear to bed, etc., that you see on a lot of surveys that float around the Net.

So here's my Survey for Educated Grown-Ups - feel free to spread it around.

Three movies everyone should see someday
Citizen Kane, Lord of the Rings, The Shawshank Redemption

Guilty pleasure movie (a movie you shouldn't like, but do)

Most memorable Oscar moment
Anna Paquin's reaction to winning Best Supporting Actress for The Piano - she looked like she was going to pass out from hyperventilating!

Favorite movie to cheer you up
Love Actually

Movies that make you cry
A Beautiful Mind, Return of the King, Ben Hur

Favorite musical

Favorite foreign-language film

Scariest horror movie
Angel Heart

Favorite documentary/docudrama

Most disturbing movie of all time
Muholland Drive

Favorite action movie

Favorite James Bond movie
From Russia with Love

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Trek

Favorite Sci-Fi movie

Favorite modern musical artist (still actively performing)
Porcupine Tree

Favorite classic musical artist (deceased)
Jeff Buckley

Vocalist you would actually want to hear sing the national anthem
Freddie Mercury

Which song(s) make you think about someone you love?
Everything by Lifehouse

What was the first album you bought/heard growing up?
Da Doo Run Run by Shaun Cassidy (hey, I'm older than most of you)

Three most-played songs on iTunes/iPod
Prodigal and Lazarus by Porcupine Tree, Day for Night by Spock's Beard

Three albums last played on iTunes/iPod
Ten by Pearl Jam, The Ladder by Yes, Nevermind by Nirvana

Books on your current reading list (read or about to read)
Book of Shadows, Pagan Polyamory, House of M, and Wicca by Scott Cunningham

Favorite Shakespeare piece
Twelfth Night

Favorite comic book or cartoon strip
Sandman by Neil Gaiman

Which book did you love/hate in high school?
Loved Silas Marner by George Eliot, hated The Odyssey by Homer

Favorite fictional character
Sherlock Holmes

Favorite animated character

Favorite visual artist
John Singer Sargent

Museums you have visited
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim (NY), the Louvre, the British Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Houston Museum of Fine Art, Houston Museum of Contemporary Arts, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Columbus Museum of Art

If you were a professional artist, what kind of artist would you be?
A glass sculptor

Favorite type of live performance event
Broadway shows

Best concert / play / show that you have actually attended
Linda Eder’s debut run of Jekyll & Hyde in Houston

Favorite clothing brand
Mossimo from Target seems to fit me the best, but for couture I like Dolce & Gabbana

Favorite item of clothing you own
My orange beaded diaphanous dress - never worn it in public though

What colors look best on you?
Black, dark red, dark brown, earth tones, cream

If you could have any animal as a pet, what would it be?
A winged horse

If you had to spend a million dollars without tax implications, what would you buy?
An apartment in Manhattan

Favorite beverage
Diet Mountain Dew

Favorite American president in history
George Washington

Famous person - alive or dead - that you would have lunch with
Kate Winslet

Where do you want to retire to?
Santa Cruz, California

What worries you the most about the future?

Major turning point(s) in your life and how things might have turned out differently
In 1991, I was a finalist for a job at the Sacramento Bee. They flew me out to Sacramento for a week-long tryout, but I didn't get it. If I had, I'd probably be living in California now. Also, the fire in April 2005 was obviously a turning point - if it didn’t happen, I'd probably still be married. Finally, a big turning point was meeting Tara - if I didn't, I'd probably still be in Houston.

Describe the best or worst day of your life so far
The worst day in recent memory was in February 2006 when my first job offer in New York was rescinded two days after it was extended. The best day was Oct. 14, 2005 - the day I met my new family for the first time.

What did you want to grow up to be? Why didn't you become that?
An oceanographer - didn't have the opportunity and lost interest.

Your idea of a perfect day yet to come
Visiting Glastonbury in England, participating in a ceremony at the Chalice Well in the morning, then climbing up to the Tor on a perfectly cool, breezy day, seeing a cricket match in the afternoon and taking a private tour of Stonehenge at dusk.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Scenes from a French restaurant

It's extra-busy today at the office, so no time to write, but I wanted to post this Web site of a restaurant that I'm dying to try.

La Mangeoire

If anyone has the opportunity to visit me in the Midtown area, we can go to this cool French restaurant, which is only a block from my office. If the weather is as nice as it is today (73 degrees, clear and dry) we can sit out on the patio and watch people walking by on Second Avenue.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rent redux

Saturday my family and I went to see Rent on Broadway. The original lead actors, Adam Pascal and Anthony Rapp who play Roger and Mark respectively, are in the middle of a month-long run reprising their roles on stage. It was quite an interesting experience seeing this play again, because I'd seen it once before about six or seven years ago with my old Houston co-workers when we came to New York for a conference. Back then, it wasn't really my cup of tea, but since seeing the movie last year, it has had a tremendous effect on me. "No day but today" has become a idea I try to live by each day.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Perils of pursuing prettiness

This story on the Today show made me think of my friend Kyla in Houston. I wonder what she's up to these days? At least the Kyla I know never showed off her crotch!

"Too sexy to fly?"

I got a curling iron last weekend and I've been using it this week, to nice effect. Curling my hair gives it a lot more body and lift than it normally has, since I have pencil-straight hair. I guess it's easier to curl hair than to straighten it out though, although I was late to work on Wednesday because of spending too much time fussing with my hair, so I don't plan on making it part of my routine. I value the extra sleep more than pretty hair.

Speaking of being pretty, I saw The Devil Wears Prada last night - very funny movie! It was also interesting seeing all the places in New York that I actually recognize. In fact, one of the deleted scenes Anne Hathaway comes out of a subway station on East 53rd Street that is under the Citibank building that houses the Barnes & Noble right across 3rd Avenue from my office, so I recognized it immediately. One of these weekends, I want to tour the Fashion District and look for sample sales and such.

Yesterday I picked up a couple of CDs from the aforementioned B&N, a compilation by Michael Hedges called Beyond Boundaries and a movie soundtrack collection called Star Tracks 2. The former was inspired by watching the DVD of Michael Hedges concert last weekend, and the second is a replacement CD for a great subwoofer test disc. The first track, Superman: The Planet Krypton from the opening titles of the movie, has a low organ pedal note halfway through the track that is down around 18 Hz, which means unless you have a sub you won't hear it at all. I admit it's a geeky thing to do, but since I do have a killer Outlaw sub, every once in a while I like to work it out. Plus, I just like the music.

I also saw that this old James Newton Howard disc has been reissued and remastered on CD by Sheffield Labs. This disc has a special connotation between Tara and me, which I'm sure she remembers. I might get a new copy when it comes out on Sept. 30.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

New York street fair

I had a very relaxing, productive weekend, spending some time with my family and some on my own, so a good balance overall. Saturday I felt like going into the city to have an adventure and to do something unplanned. Fate obliged me by providing a weekend street fair near my office where I parked Yoshi (it's near my office in Midtown, so it's cheap and they don't charge extra for minivans like many garages).

Second Avenue Street Fair

I walked about six blocks up Second Avenue getting a feel for things that were on sale. It was literally a shopper's paradise - a cornucopia of food, designer handbags, clothes, linens, arts/crafts, cosmetics/toiletries, bonsai trees, tools, designer sunglasses, you name it. After six blocks, things started to repeat, so I turned around and started walking back and shopping in earnest.

The first things I got were a couple of Coach-style purses for $30 each (after haggling a little, and a quick trip to the ATM for cash). I almost bought a copy of the new Chloe bag, but changed my mind at the last moment. I tried on an Indian-made silk dress, but it didn't suit me. I also picked up a 600-thread-count embroidered sheet set for $20 for my new bed, and three Victoria's Secret Second Skin Satin-style bras for $20. As tempting as some of the food was, I stuck to my diet and passed up all the goodies.

Saturday night we all went out to Palisades Center to have dinner and fun at Dave & Busters. I found a low-carb burrito at a Mexican food stand that was passable for my diet. I wanted to check out a candle store where I had gotten some soy candles before the fire, but they were out of stock. Not only that, but the new sales clerks were so pushy and annoying that I doubt I will go back to that store.

After a quick side trip to Target and Barnes & Noble (where I bought an Imponderables book, because I'm full of questions about obscure stuff) we hit the midway at Dave & Busters and played games until about midnight. I got the high score on our Joust tournament (the 80s vintage version), and once again bested Tara at air hockey (although the puck was defective, and she's still achy from her recording sessions so it wasn't really a fair contest). Bee crashed her F-18 Hornet jet fighter into the ground, and Bug enjoyed shooting up zombies a little more that you'd think was healthy. All in all, a fun time was had by everybody, although we missed our beloved 18-wheeler driving game.

Sunday we had a family barbecue, where I cooked a steak and some chicken breasts for the first time over a real charcoal fire. I was having a very bad allergy day, but that didn't spoil the fun, although I did have to go home early. It's been a heavy ragweed pollen count all weekend up here, which has been unfortunate. Another reason to look forward to colder weather.

Monday I cleaned the apartment, finally scrubbing down the bathroom, which has been long overdue. Tara came over in the afternoon and we watched The Adventures of Baron Munchausen the final installment of our Terry Gilliam trilogy and one of my favorite movies. Bee came over later and we all went swimming one last time before the pool closed for the season. After dinner I came over and we played a couple rounds of board games and Tara showed me the pictures and rough tracks from the recording session.

It's kind of weird, but it feels good to be back at work today. My boss is back after a two-week vacation, and it's a short week. I've finished several of my big projects, so I'm getting a bit of a breather. Our bathroom renovations are done, so it's quiet now. I'm looking forward to taking a walk during my lunch hour and visiting the nearby Bloomingdale's flagship store to get some of my Clinique moisturizer.