Category Archives: Life and times
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The fine and clever folks over at Punchnel’s have seen fit to post a meditative little essay of mine entitled, I Like to Swear on their excellent site. Please do drop in and have a look. There’s lots of great stuff over there, including, but not limited to, rants about the Grateful Dead, Con Chapman’s Releasing Your Inner Big Foot, fiction, poetry and reviews. The site is chockablock with great reading material. And really, wouldn’t you rather be teasing your brain with lots of top drawer writing than staring at spreadsheets, slumping disconsolately at your desk or pretending to enjoy playing Barbies with your kids?
My piece even includes an explicit language warning and the teaser, “W.S. Winslow works blue.” So in addition to being amused and perhaps a bit scandalized — and really who doesn’t enjoy the illicit frisson of a good scandalizing, especially on a Monday morning? — you can share in the satisfaction of my little exercise in pushing the limits of the First Amendment.
Post a clever comment, reblog, send it viral. Have at it ferchrissakes.
Because I am still (happily) in a malt beverage and Red Sox-induced delirium, the last thing I’m going to do is ruin an otherwise perfect October 31 with thoughts about my least favorite holiday. Instead, I’ll just recycle my standard Halloween post. The original, and still the best, folks.
Holy Mother of God, is it Halloween again? Already? How I could have missed this given the flurry of Martha Stewart Halloween hints that clutter up my email this time of year is a mystery. Perhaps it’s because this is the first year the little Slattern has not been home for the holiday, and as such the first year I have not had to make or even think about costumes. Anyways…in recognition of this, my least favorite holiday, I give you…drum roll please…last year’s post. Don’t be disappointed. It was a corker.
I hate Halloween. The costume hysteria, the sugar meltdown, the sugar coma, the instant weight gain, the toilet paper in the trees, the stink of scorched pumpkin innards, and that’s before we even begin to deal with the children.
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Ready to tie yourself to Martha’s whipping post?
Apparently fall is the time our pal Martha, fresh from a few restful weeks of torturing the locals for pleasure in Maine, really starts feeling ambitious and decides to crank up the domestic wheel of pain. Not content with flogging Louis Quatorze lawn parties and Gatsby-themed luncheons as the best way to throw a picnic, the evil one has recently shifted the MSL lifestyle dream-machine into overdrive. Her timing is, as ever, impeccable. Once fall is upon us, any reasonable adult can finally breathe free with the kids back at school, the house guests out of her hair and the in-laws safely stashed back in their golf community, at least until the Thanksgiving horror/torture begins. Unless, of course, you live in Martha world.
I don’t, but I like to peek through the keyhole from time to time, and in the past week or so I’ve had ample opportunity after receiving about a hundred emails from the Domestic Death Star
nagging inviting me to do the following:
Start your Halloween preparations early, like now.
Madame Stewart suggests using September to get a jump on updating last year’s party-planning spreadsheet, start crafting spiders from pipe cleaners and hot glue and prepare the fifty-piece pumpkin carving and microsurgery tool set for this, the most festive holiday of the year.
And of course it’s never too early to begin planning your costume, because there is nothing pathetic about a sixty-year old woman in a French maid’s costume or a fright wig.
Now I don’t know about you, but I hate Halloween, and frankly I’d rather set myself on fire than spend a full month gearing up for it, unless by that you mean buying and consuming six dozen bags of “fun size” Snickers bars, Twizzlers and mini Dove Bars, but somehow I don’t think that’s what she has in mind.
Create savory lunch box meals your kids “will want to eat.” Now, of course these days the little slattern is away at college and in charge of her own meals, but I can say with certainty that never, in eighteen years of lunchbox slavery, did I encounter a situation in which a “bento box” featuring cold Asian noodle salad, or an avocado-cream cheese-cucumber-sprout sandwich on grainy bread, or cute little lettuce leaf cups filled with apple and chicken salad would have been greeted with anything but misery followed by pitiful efforts to trade.
Let me tell you, nobody in the lunchroom is going to give up half a PB&J for anything that involves even the suggestion of a lettuce leaf. They might, however, tease your child unmercifully for the rest of her academic life on the basis of such a meal, so there’s that added incentive to provide it — as if you needed another reason to spend three hours every night preparing the next day’s lunch so that it could be thrown in the trash and your child could arrive home exhausted, bullied, and in the middle of a full-on low-blood-sugar meltdown. Parenting, the Martha way.
Learn the venerable art of découpage with Martha’s five part video tutorial after which you can run out and buy all fifty items in her new découpage product line. Yup, DECOUPAGE. Look!
Those of you who have succeeded in repressing memories of sleep-away camp — where arts & crafts classes were the only alternative to swimming in a freezing lake, hiking fifty miles carrying a two-hundred pound pack or spending a sleepless night on the ground quivering in a stinky sleeping bag all the while freaking out about bugs, bats and snakes — will no doubt be pleased to revisit this wonderful crafting activity via Martha’s instructional videos.
In FIVE installments!
I mean really, what is there to say beyond, cut some pictures out, glue them on something then shellac the hell out of the whole mess? I’ll tell you what else, NOTHING, except maybe, “Here’s how to spend a hundred bucks and three days making a shitty old picture frame/lamp/piece of furniture look like a craft project you did at Camp Wankaweewee in 1979.”
Okay, that’s enough. I’m going out to get a pizza and a six-pack for lunch, then I’m going to toilet paper and egg that witch’s house but good. Happy freakin’ fall, Martha.
If you’ll scroll down, you’ll find the post I recently wrote about the many humiliations of the aging process including, but not limited to, the steady stream (sorry) of incontinence-themed catalogues that trickles in (really sorry) with the mail each week. Now, I’m no Perry Mason (or Della Street either for that matter), but I am sure I was quite clear about this in my post: in no way did I state, infer or imply that I had ever used said items. Nonetheless, to reiterate, I am still in control of my bladder, as is every other member of the household except the largest and fattest of our cats, but he confines his accidents to the puppy pads we strew around the litter box in the cellar, so that doesn’t really count.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I received the following missive from the nice, if misguided and apparently illiterate, folks who make and market a product called (I am not making this up) Peepods.
So once again, let me just say, I DO NOT SUFFER FROM INCONTINENCE, mild or otherwise.
In any case, I politely rejected their offer and instead of flogging their products, I am devoting my energies to rebuilding my shattered confidence, starting with the fact that I am interesting.
Installment 1: Language barrier? What language barrier?
As recently chronicled, Mr. Slattern and I just returned from two glorious, albeit damp, weeks in Italia. And let me tell you the Italians were the salt of the Earth. To a man, woman and child they were unfailingly polite, helpful and kind — except for that unfortunate misunderstanding about whether the bottles of Barolo were “to go,” but once we made bail, reacquired our passports and had the dents pounded out of the polizione prowl car, it was all was bonhomie, back slapping and three new names for the Christmas card list. But I digress.
In any case, I cannot urge you strongly enough to do whatever is necessary — save your nickels, sell the family silver, cash in the kids’ college funds — and get yourselves over there. In support of this, I am starting a new travel series, and over the coming weeks I will be answering your travel questions and offering helpful tips and strategies for squeezing the maximum amount of fun from your Italian idyll (while staying out of jail).
So listen up there, Rick Steves, you’d better grab that fanny pack and get out of my way. The juggernaut that will soon become the Slattern’s travel empire starts rolling right now. Andiamo!
Dear Kitchen Slattern,
I don’t speak Italian, but I have a burning desire to take a gondola ride and drop in on the Pope. How will I get around without knowing the language?
Hot Madonna, Duluth
Dear Hot Mad,
First, kudos on wanting to put Duluth in the rear view. Well done. And may I suggest a course of antibiotics for that burning sensation?
Now to your query. During my recent trip I was delighted to discover that English has become the lingua franca of Europe, which was a big relief since Mr. Slattern’s and my efforts to learn Italian prior to departing were not exactly crowned with success, as the saying goes. I suspect this was because we listened to our Pimsleur Italian lessons while swilling vast oceans of Insolia, just to get in the spirit. While it was certainly a festive way to pick up the dialect, and we were chatting like nobody’s business during the lessons, unfortunately most mornings we could not remember one word of what we had studied the night before, and more often than not we woke up wearing yesterdays’ clothes after having slept on the living room floor.
And so our linguistic exertions netted us little more than the ability to accost a young Italian woman in the street and inform her that we could not speak Italian. Not as helpful as you might think.
Now Mr. Slattern speaks lovely German, we both dabble in Spanish, and I have a certain proficiency with French – I used to speak it quite well, but these days my skills are a bit moldy. When sober, I’m lucky if I can make myself understood at the level of a mildly retarded pissoir attendant. After a bottle or three of Bordeaux, however, it gets better, as I resemble a mildly retarded pissoir attendant who is really REALLY enthusiastic about speaking French. So drinking facilitates communication is the lesson here.
Thankfully, these days Italian sewer workers speak better English than most of the residents of New York City and the entire deep south, so we got along fine on English, especially once we had looked up and practiced the following:
Mi dispiace, mas io no parlo italiano. Lei capiche l’inglese?
Roughly translated, this means, “I’m sorry, but I am a complete fucking cretin who has swanked into your magnificent country speaking not one sainted word of your heartbreakingly beautiful language, but I hope that if I throw around enough cash, you won’t mind too much.” Quite often we’d be interrupted after the first couple of words with a pained, “English, please.” Understandably so.
Thanks to the unfailing politeness of the Italian people, however, we still managed to have a rollicking good time while visiting the sites, gazing upon the world’s most magnificent art and sucking up more fine food and wine than most Americans see in a lifetime. It was excessive on a Caligula-esque scale, and really isn’t that what we go abroad for?
So, forget Italian 101 and wing it is my advice. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a go cup in a wine bar.