Actually, it IS Rocket Science

Whine and dine

Sorry to make this so short, and sorry to make this post about something kind of negative and at the same time gross, but I’m currently recovering from a nasty allergy attack after spending an absolutely wonderful weekend with some friends that included a banjo and 4 pounds of freshly boiled crawfish, and staring at a computer screen for too long is proving to be a bit tricky.

You know that scene in that one movie where the girl gets so frustrated with the amount of pain behind her eyes that she performs self-surgery eye-ectomy?  No?  No one’s written that one yet?

Someone should really get on that.  Cause the drama that’s going on in my sinus cavities could win me an Oscar right now.

I should be back soon; just gotta do some ash-maintenance first.  Toodles!


I’ll leave you with this, though, on a day of memorial for fallen soldiers everywhere- a girl who apparently has never doubted where her allegiance lies:



Swapping vices

When I was a kid I religiously watched Saturday Morning Cartoons while I waited for my parents to get up.  For a while, growing up, we didn’t have cable, so I was stuck with the big three networks and whatever was on PBS, which meant that when a cartoon came on NBC, you’d better capture it in your visual memory like a rare bird.  Once or twice, when I had done something to tick my parents off, they tried to ban me from watching television as punishment, but I didn’t hear anyone mentioning that prohibition on Saturday mornings, when I woke up at 5am.  I wonder why.

I’d ultimately wrap it up with an episode of TMNT and slam down breakfast before I went out to play with the neighborhood kids, where we would then re-enact the exact episode we had just watched.  It was definitely a case of life imitating art, as pathetic as it was.  But at least I knew I wasn’t the only kid who sang the pledge of allegiance to the flag of the United Cartoons of Saturday Morning.

And then the unavoidable happened- we moved, time slots were filled with other crap, I became more interested in video games, I became more interested in indie-garage music, I became more interested in boys, I became more interested in the newfound freedom of having a driver’s license, I became more interested in making indie-garage music, and on it goes.

Regardless, there has never been a Saturday morning that I didn’t wake up looking forward to something (except for that really shitty period of time in college, which I’m sure was fueled by a lot of equally shitty music [although I never made the mistake of getting into emo, I’m not that dumb]), and TV took a backseat…sort of.  I still turned it on for white noise a lot because, I don’t know, I guess I was waiting for something to pop out and entertain me, even though that was pretty rare.

Then when I moved to Chicago, I became the victim of what some refer to as “crippling, debilitating winters,” where everybody basically hibernates between the months of November and May.  Yeah, you might venture out to get rations of cornmeal and pork lard and other various pioneer fodder, but you had better tie a rope from your house to wherever you’re going so you can find your way back.  So the best idea of a Saturday morning quickly became all about what do to while you camped out inside.  And surprised as I was, television stuck around like an old best friend.  Only this time, TV showed up like an old flame who had given himself a makeover.  Now he had a DV-R that I could record multitudes of tv that I missed throughout the week so we could spend real quality time together and fast forward through the commercials.

“It’s okay, baby, I know you hate that Empire Rugs jingle, let’s just skip it.”

“Promise you’ll never let me go.”

And by that time I had learned to cook.  So instead of The Real Ghostbusters or Pound Puppies, I got glued to Barefoot Contessa and 5 Ingredient Fix, which I would then go to the grocery store periodically when the snow finally let up and re-enact the exact episode I had just seen.  Life imitating art. Again.  I’m cool with it.

I kind of left Chicago with nothing, apart from my books, my dvd’s, clothes, and little else.  I thought about what I’d stock my new apartment with and saw my opportunity to break away from my tv addiction once again.  I mentioned this to my mom, who had always been an advocate for the “Turn that goddam thing OFF” campaign and her answer surprised me.

She thought for a second and said, “You know, I think you’re gonna need a TV over there.”


“Yeah.  Because you know, you’re going to be out there, without a roommate, and you just took out a BIG loan, so you’re going to be trying to save a lot of money by not going out- so you’re going to need something to break the monotony.”

“You think I won’t be going out?”

“Well, sure, once in a while, but on who’s tab?  You’re in debt now; get used to it.”

So this morning, I woke up, brewed some coffee, and sat down with Choliccio and Morimoto, instead of Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo, and soon after I will go outside and play with my friend in San Diego while we share a bottle of wine and re-enact a classic episode where the chefs defeat the evil “Looking-like-an-uncoordinated-fool-while-eating-salad” beast.


By the way, while typing the name “Donatello,” it came up with little red dots underneath, which made me think I had misspelled it, so I googled it, and this is what came up:

The internet knows its priorities.

Come with me if you want to live

(ED. NOTE!!  It was just brought to my recollection that this IS, in fact, bad Sitcom Gold!  And holy shit if it’s not a perfect example of MBPA and mine’s friendship, neatly rolled into a one minute clip.  You know, without the chipped tooth. See below original post)

With the news that’s circulating the pop culture drag race right now, I’m reminded of another priceless conversation a few years ago with The Most Brilliant Person Alive.

You need to trust that I am not, nor have I ever fabricated or elaborated any of these conversations.  I say that because what I’m about to explain to you, by most other standards, would be considered the stuff of bad sitcom gold.

We came across a young woman who introduced herself to us and explained she was on temporary exchange from her job in Austria.  We all exchanged niceties, and the girl moved along to do other things.  The Most Brilliant Person Alive and I then went back to our convseration:

MBPA:  Wow, she doesn’t even really have an accent.

Ashlin:  Hehe, what, were you expecting her to sound like AH-nold?

MBPA:  Huh??

Ashlin:  You know… “Eeet’s naht a tumahhh.”

MBPA:  …

Ashlin: “Ahl bee bach.”  You know.  “Hasta la veesta, bebeh.”

MBPA:  …Nnno.  I was thinking more like… “G’Day, MATE!”

Ashlin:  …

MBPA:  You know!  …”Crikey!”…??

Ashlin:  (oooooohhhhhnononono)

UPDATE!:  I have a new found respect for Dumb & Dumber.  Although it is a bit eerie the similarities.  (Thanks, Jason!)

Booze and Bengals

I completed my undergraduate degree under oaks and arches of the dangerously famous Louisiana State University.  LSU is popular for a few things; Tigers, Death Valley stadium, and tailgating so vehemently brazen that being a successful “Tailgater” is much more of a tribal warrior’s crest than a simple title. …Oh, and, you know, education or some shit.

LSU tailgaters are a rare breed of partiers; they get down to brass tacks.  LSU tailgaters didn’t come here to make friends (unless you brought a case of beer with you).  Alumnus purchase RV’s just so they can tailgate- which means they drive down at least a day before the game and proceed to camp out in one of the multiple vast parking lots and proceed to cook as much incredible food they can muster.  And drink.  With pride.  I walked into someone’s RV once and saw a tower of bottles so highly stacked up that looked like the accumulation of an entire frat party’s consumption, and later learned it was the remnants of two 5o-year-old women’s imbibing from the night before.  And in the process, their intention is to pass the torch on to the next generation.  I watched a man egg on his son to shotgun a beer and literally force his mouth back onto the hole of the can when the guy pulled away (ed. note: I initially wrote “kid” instead of “guy”- but I didn’t mean like some dad encouraging a 1o-year-old to booze it up- I’m sure he was majoring in humanities or some other bullshit major).

This is actually a pretty accurate example of how things work around here, (as well as why we love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything):

I recently spent time with my family who has lived here in California since I’ve known them, and the topic of school rivalries came up.  Someone asked me who LSU’s main rival was, and I initially answered, “Alabama.”

Then I thought for a moment and revised my answer: “Though it might be Auburn…

…Wait, no, Florida.

…Maybe Georgia?”

And I sat there listening to crickets for a solid second or two until I just gave up and said,

“Actually, I think LSU’s biggest rival is whoever they’re playing that weekend.”

And the topic swiftly changed to something less challenging for me to discuss out of politeness.

Guess what, though?  I’m RIGHT!  I looked at some online forums and a few other completely factual websites to see if we do indeed have a “biggest rival” and the truth is?  NOBODY KNOWS.  We just party down the day of the game under the guise that this is our “Biggest Rival To Date.” So beer me, sister, and let’s all knowingly misspell some 1st grade vocabulary words for the sake of Southern solidarity.

Let’s GEAUX Tigers!!

I used to tackle with the thought that because I drank the equivalent of 3/4’s of a six pack on weekend tailgates and other nefarious parties that I was in danger of becoming an alcoholic.  I pitched the idea to a friend once, and she answered with a barrage of questions to help me narrow it down.

“Are you missing class?”


“Do you ever show up to class hungover?”

“Maybe twice.”

“Do you ever drink in class?”

“What?!  Who does that?!”

“You’re fine.”

The idea was so unfamiliar to me-smuggling in some alcohol in a concealed container to an actual class.  Until one day when I attended my History of Psychiatry lecture.  The lecture hall, like many, was angled downward to allow those in the back to see the lecturn and so on and so forth.  I usually parked it somewhere in the mid-to-back range, so I wouldn’t be picked out of a lineup of sub-median GPA students, and could therefore remain free from judgment.  We were discussing the intricate process of pre-frontal lobotomies- I was taking notes so frantically and trying to keep up that I almost missed hearing it: from the back of the classroom, a small *tink!* which was proceeded with a whispered, “Fuuuck!”

ATTENTION: There is a protocol for hearing that exact progression of sounds.  It means to immediately lift your bag out from under your desk because you are about to witness a stream of liquid pouring down from the seats above you.

And pour it did.  It’s always kind of interesting to see what variety of drinks wash down- I’ve seen Coca-Cola Classic, what I sincerely hope was lemon-lime Gatorade, and red drink.  You can usually tell by the amount of carbonation. But this time the signifier of the beverage was not merely in its color, which was dark brown in complexion, but its smell, which immediately consumed my nostrils and yelled out, “Who wants another lager??!”

And here’s where I knew I had finally made it as an LSU college student.  Because my first thought wasn’t, “Man, I hope that guy gets some help.”

Instead I thought, “Hm. Is that New Castle?”

Infomercials are ruining my life

I have a confession to make.

Until now only a select few knew about it.  For the most part I’ve kept it a quiet, dark secret tucked deep within my psyche.

My name is Ashlin, and I’m addicted to infomercials.

If I’m flipping through the channels and come across an extended ad for the latest handheld grill that can also straighten your hair or a vacuum that doubles as a life coach, it’s like sticking my foot in quicksand.  I’m not getting outta there until it sucks the life out of me for the duration of the program or someone physically pulls me out from it.

Yeah, you all wanna watch this movie again now, dontcha?

It’s hard to describe the level of satisfaction that comes from watching these things, because that level of satisfaction is wholly contingent upon the type of product the people starring in them are promoting…

Grilling product/sandwich pocket maker/panini press:  Wait, you mean I can make MORE than just a sandwich in this thing?!  That’s INCREDIBLE!  Let’s see what you can do with this devil’s food cake mix and a fun sized Snickers!!

Work out program/weight loss supplements:  Look at you guys.  You have all these before photos and look at you now.  And all you had to do was exercise 14 hours a day everyday/stop eating completely/possibly develop an eating disorder that you’re not really telling anyone about yet.  Good for you.  Good for you.

Cleaning products/mops/steamers/Oxyclean/KaBoom!: The day Billy Mays died, I felt a great disturbance, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

Products that completely revolutionize your daily existence/Spacebags/EZ moving slider discs/those brownie tins that let you get only the edges, which, let’s all be honest, are the best parts:  Yes. YES. I’LL TAKE 20 of EVERYTHING.

Products that hold no value whatsoever/clearly an engineering design major’s final project:  Can I interest anyone in a Candwich?

Blenders/Ninja NJ600/Magic Bullet:  You had me at hello.  Now grind this boulder into sand.

What I love more than anything are the elaborate micro-story arcs they construct to sling these products of fascination.  A woman who is so confounded because leaning over to scrub the toilet has gotten truly impossible given the little jagged cartoon lightning bolts that are jutting out of her back.  A man who has a debilitating disorder that causes total anesthesia as to where his mouth is and consequently ALWAYS spills food on his good tie.  And then the officiants sweep in and put everyone’s minds at ease and bequeth to those poor souls products like the Great Oz gave the Tin Man his heart.  For the woman:  An Extend-O Brush-A-Matic.  For the gentleman:  a face tray that attaches neatly behind the ears.

(This is probably the funniest video I’ve watched in a very long, long time, and whoever assembled it did an amazing job.)

The reason I’m writing about is:  It’s interfering with my life.  Due to the fact that the majority of the really good infomercials come on after normal tv broadcasting has ended, if I make the mistake of leaving the television on past Conan for very long, I’m in trouble.  Because that means that I will unavoidably come across someone who is about to show me all the things he can dissect with his titanium steel paring knife and I will inevitably wake up red-eyed the next morning when the alarm goes off.  Which means I’ll drag through my day like a slug, and won’t get my daily duties done, and eventually I won’t be able to keep up with it all; the bills will pile up and I’ll have to sell the farm to pay for the kid’s education, and slip slowly into oblivion.  I can see it happening.

What a tangled, tangled web you weave, Slap Chop.

Fried green disappointment

I moved to Chicago for two reasons:  because I was tired of living in Louisiana and because I saw my opportunity to get out like a hatch that was in the process of closing up like some sci-fi film and inherently knew if I didn’t GTFO right then that I would be doomed to spend the rest of eternity in a state that I was miserable in, or at least another several months.

I had lived in a northern state before.  I was born in Delaware and lived in Pennsylvania for a good part of my adolescence.  AND I had been in a band that visited Chicago in the winter, so I disregarded all the morbid soothsayers that professed my unavoidable doom upon moving up there.  Those of you who have ever experienced ANY extended period of time through Chicago winters will get a REAL kick out of what batshit amount of rationalizing I did with moving there that I’m about to provide:

I was positive (and holy crap I’m already laughing aloud) that because I had already lived in the upper northeast, that surely I couldn’t be that affected by some place that held such a wimpy title as “The Midwest.”



Like as if I were thinking on a linear scale.

I moved there in November, which meant I got there just in time for a front row seat to the most bizarr-o mindfucking winter I’d ever experienced.  I was living with my then boyfriend and another friend who was attending culinary school, and the three of us huddled together like the Donner Party early pioneers surviving the winter who never had any trouble with potential cannibalism.  My boyfriend actually got full-on NOSE BLEEDS from the weather.  Chicago winters don’t fuck around.

My mom would frequently call me and sort of poke fun at me for my decision, you know, because she’s crazy like that:

“Soooo, how’s the weather??

“Um… It’s fine.  We played in the snow the other day” (Which meant I slipped on black ice and busted my ASS on the sleet-covered concrete in front of hundreds of people.

“Uh-huuuuh.  Well that’s great.”


“I sent you some more thermal socks and hand warmers.”


Actually, in all honesty, as much as I despised it sometimes, living in Chicago was one of the greatest experiences of my life thus far, and I actually wouldn’t mind moving back one day.  I met some amazing people and got to partake in some of the most enjoyable activities that the city had to offer.  I also met The Most Brilliant Person Alive, who is still a source of unending hilarity for me.

But my attitude also swiftly changed as to how I perceived Chicago winters:

And then something completely strange happened.  I started to miss Louisiana.  No, I don’t mean I missed walking through so much humidity that it felt like paddling through leftover heated up cream-of-mushroom soup, but I missed my friends, my parents, the way that it was totally not frowned upon to drink a beer while walking down the street, and the food.  Oh my god. The FOOD.  Granted, Chicago has some gastronomic enterprises that they’re famous for, but if I can’t find a goddam bag of boiled crawfish within a 6 month period, someone’s gonna bleed.

So I did the next best thing.  I improvised as best I could. Being that it was the winter, and practically nothing is in season when you live in an arctic tundra, I walked through the produce section at my grocery store and discovered a huge batch of unripened tomatoes.

You know where this is going.

I slung my sack of green tomatoes onto the kitchen counter and pulled out the cornmeal and oil.  SOMEONE was smart enough to purchase remoulade for my grocery store too.  If there’s a patron saint of remoulade, I might reconsider my abandonment of late night prayers.

It had snowed that afternoon which meant an added level of awfulness to your commute home.  The boyfriend had spent a really long day at work already, so he decided to take a nap while I fried up some nostalgic bliss.  I really don’t fry that much because I’m just not that familiar with it, and any time I’ve tried before I’ve wound up with little grease spitfire marks on my arms.  I would have asked the obvious expert in the house, but he was out doing some culinary learning and bettering of himself.  Tool.

I slung my battered tomato slenders into the oil and waited.  And waited.  They weren’t browning up.  I waited a few more moments. Nothing.  Maybe the heat was on too low.  I cranked it.

Have you ever been in the middle of a really deep sleep when your alarm goes off?  It’s jarring, right?  It kind of feels like that moment when you’re on a roller coaster and the bottom drops out from under you.

Isn’t that how you would react to unexpectedly hearing the fire alarm go off??

I really didn’t think the smoke levels had gotten that bad.  Which meant that I almost flatlined when the fire alarm, which was situated directly above my head about 10 feet up was blaring louder than I had ever heard before.  And I immediately had one idea in mind:  Shut that goddam thing off and hope it didn’t wake the boyfriend.  But remember a few moments ago where I mentioned the alarm was 10 feet vertical from the ground?

Eh.  That didn’t work out so well.

BF came barreling through into the kitchen with lunatic eyes.  The fella holds about a half foot of height over me, which he then used to reverse slam-dunk the device and lift it off it’s holster.  But our tribulation didn’t end there, because the battery was still in and the thing was now SCREAMING at us from his hand.

I’m assuming he was still in a sleepy haze, because what he then proceeded to do next was not remove the battery, but instead throw open the back door and hurl the thing as far as he could into the snow.

“Should we go get it?”

“I’m not messing with it until it shuts itself up and learns to behave.”

And I returned to my tomatoes, which were pretty much all carbon by then.


So the next day, we were moving around the apartment, acting like nothing had happened the night before; I hadn’t almost burned the house down and he hadn’t thrown the one signifier that we might have been in trouble out the back door, and worse, that we didn’t even get to reap the benefits of our little event, when our landlord, who lived two flights above us, poked his head in and asked, “Hey, is this yours?  I found it outside; it was going off for a while last night.”

And we answered as best we could.  We improvised. “Man, how’d that get there?”

Looking for love in all the right networks

I debated long and hard before deciding to post about this, because I’m not even sure if it’s noteworthy, and because I didn’t want to come across as a person who’s suddenly interested in someone I haven’t remotely thought about in, I don’t know, ten years? AND because discussing the topic also requires me to discuss reality television, which I’ve never been all that fond of in the first place, and find when I have watched them that the people on them, who are supposed to be real, just come off as caricatures of actual human beings, and what should be unscripted dialogue from the heart tends to come across as canned and stale.

So.  Just so we’re clear.  Not a big fan of reality tv.  Except for Jersey Shore.  But that shit’s not reality tv though- that’s a late-term abortion of the love child between Chlamydia and Flatoutfuckedup, though Gonorrhea might be the father, we’re not sure until we get the test results back from Maury.

“Chlamydia…you ARE NOT the father.”


When I was in high school, I was heavily involved in choir and the like.  Our choir director was an absolute badass who played a variety of instruments and had that perfect combination of kindness and a wit so ferocious he could stump anyone without hurting anybody’s feelings.  He was also incredibly smart.  He found a way to organize a school funded course that counted for full high school credit that was actually a legitimate band- usually consisting of two guitars, bass, full drum kit, keyboard, singers, and a sound engineer that were all employed by students that played covers of contemporary rock hits and traveled to various functions to perform them- he got away with it by titling the class “Show Choir.”  I tell people I was in show choir and I can count to five before I get “jazz hands” in response.  No one has ever not done this during this conversation.

One of the other singers in show choir was named Ben.  Ben was about two years older than me and had spent some time in his youth in London (I think?) so he still had a little residual accent that came out every now and then- usually when he got excited and began talking really fast.  But it still put enough charm in his character that made a lot of girls swoon over him.  We got along decently, albeit for a few head-butting sessions here and there- but I think that kind of came with the territory of working together.  Overall?  He was a genuinely nice guy, as far as I could tell.  I’m sure he’d go onto great things in life.

Then a few months ago, I received an email from a friend from high school that was simply titled, “Are you friends with Ben C—–?”


When I was in high school, the reality show craze was juuuust about to explode.  The Real World still reigned supreme and held the entire reality genre in a deathgrip.  We hadn’t even come across celebrity dancing shows yet, and Jon and Kate were still sans 8.  One day during practice, Ben and I were sitting outside because we had a little time to kill before our next song, when he started telling me something that seemed completely odd and too foreign to conceptualize.

“There’s this new show that ABC is casting for that I’m sending an audition tape to.”

“What?  You want to, like, be on a tv show?”

“Yeah- but it’s not, like, a normal tv show.  They tape you while they blindfold you and drop you in the middle of, like, an Amazonian kind of deserted island with some other people without the help of any outside food or luxuries- and then you have to survive.”

“Whaaaat??  Why would you want to do that?”

“Because!  If you make it through to the end, you’ll win, like, a lot of money.”

“So it’s a game show?”

“Yeah, but it’s more like, they’re calling it a reality show.”

“…That makes no sense at all.”

Are you reading this?!  I casually brushed-off SURVIVOR.  I might have well have spit in the face of lady liberty since apparently reality shows are what America is all about these days.


Anyway, back to the email.  I open it and it plainly states:

“Ben is going to be one of the competitors on the new season of The Bachelorette.”

My brain went immediately back to that previous conversation and I spent an entire 5 minutes laughing so hard that I almost began to cry.  I was laughing because it was like catching up with Henry Higgens and learning he had finally taught Eliza Doolittle to recite the Rain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain without that adorable cockney accent.  The feeling of such fantastic payoff blew up in me as I read it and had I been able to do a back hand spring, I would have done so in his honor.

So, Ben C. from Lake Charles, LA, congratulations.  Congratulations for two things, actually.  First, for finally getting to realize your realty star dream after a whole decade, which you clearly never let go of, and next, for getting a schmuck like me to finally voluntarily tune in to the season premiere of The Bachelorette tonight.  You’ve got my full support.  Go gitchu some roses, fella! (or cufflinks, or hair gel, or whatever the hell it is that they pass out to you guys).

Spoiler alert:  Ben’s hidden talent is that he can belt it like Eddie Vedder!

Sunday Comics (pt 6)

I have a weird ear.

No, I don’t mean like an ear that’s been disfigured by so many boxing gloves that it bears the title “cauliflower ear” and if that upset your brain then you’re a lightweight.  My dad boxed so much in his youth he broke his nose and lost the majority of his sense of smell and taste.  For life. THAT’S something to consider.

What I mean is that I hear things differently, and not always in a good way.  One time a guy told me innocently enough, “I like your book sack” and I thought he said, “I like your big sags,” which yes, makes no sense, but I assumed referred to my boobs, which were in the process of swiftly gaining realty over my upper body and which I was very sensitive to at the time.  I gave him the international “letsjustbefriends” face and realized about two minutes later what he actually said.  Then I proceeded to dig the biggest hole in the ground and bury my head in it.  That’s right.  I celebrate my embarrassment ostrich style.

So I went to a party in college with a few friends.  And a college party inevitably means that you will inevitably be offered an inevitable shot of some inevitable alcohol that will inevtiably mean that you will inevitably not be driving home that evening.

“Do you want to do a shot?”

“Eh. I don’t really do shots.  What is it?”


“…Wait, what?”

“Hornitos.  Well, tequila, but Hornitos tequila.”

And I waited for him to correct himself, because what I heard was:

Yes. I heard and fully believed he had said: