Wednesday, November 24, 2004


I have been given a top ten assignment by Name Hidden. Here are my top ten guiltiest cinematic pleasures, with a brief explanation of why:

10. Bring it On (I have NO excuse for this. None.)
9. Legally Blonde (Sorry. It's funny and it has Jennifer Coolidge.)
8. Cruel Intentions (A cheap and pathetic remake of Dangerous Liaisons/Valmont. And there can never be too many of those.)
7. The Princess Diaries (I am powerless against the perfect Julie Andrews. She is all that is good and nice. Also, Heather Matarazzo rocks.)
6. The Thomas Crown Affair (Cheap jokes, cliche writing, and one of my favorite movies ever.)
5. The Saint (Oh, how I hate myself for lovin' you, crazy Val! But what can I say, I'm a sucker for the "master of disguises" thing.)
4. Revenge of the Nerds (Please. Who doesn't secretly love this movie? Too bad about the sequels!)
3. Real Genius (I was hot and I was hungry. Need I say more?)
2. The Scarlet Letter (This movie sucks so hard, I have to tie my hair back while I watch it. But a fiery Gary Oldman sermon and a little full monty are enough to get my vote.)
1. The Count of Monte Cristo (OK, if you thought this movie was good, then you didn't see it. When I watch it, I wear a life-jacket so I won't drown in the cliches. It is my fervent dream to bitch-slap the writer and director and the lead female, Dagmara Dominczyk. But, it has hot Jim Caviezel wearing Napoleonic-era clothing and saying sexy vengeful things. That's all I require. I could easily write a 10-page paper about why this movie blows. In short: terrible writing complete with anachronistic grammatical errors, bad direction, extreme and obvious emotional pandering, and a whiny Mercedes with dewy, tear-filled eyes. A truly great story has been manhandled by a couple of meatballs who couldn't write a proper stop sign. And I love it.)

So there. Now I have to go pop some popcorn and get an approved flotation device, because I know what I'm doing tonight!


Well, I am coming off of an extremely trying morning. I went to pick up my free-range, oven ready, organic turkey and in this soggy weather, he decided to fall out of the bottom of the box and onto my driveway. I know the turkey gods are punishing me for the meat purchase. I hope I don't have turkeymares this night. So, luckily, the turkey was all wrapped in foil, plastic and ribbons, so all I had to do was wipe it off and put the bird in the fridge. All this may have been funny, but I spent the morning with my mother, who can take bossiness to new heights. Also, I spilled soup on myself at lunch. So I am feeling a bit weepy and needful of yoga. I need to purge my mind of all these bad thoughts so that I may prepare to serve The Great Who Roast Beast without guilt or malice. Traffic, rain, falling bird, mother, the public, wildly erratic soup, and a goood argument with the b&c. It's been a bad, bad morning. Hmmmph... Add to it all that I am preparing dinner for six people who do not belong in a room together. I must not cook angry! I feel a top ten coming on, after I make some herbal tea and put away the rest of the groceries.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


I just ordered a limited edition Spike action figure. It's my first. Help me, someone! I don't wanna be an action figure geek! I need an intervention! What the hell is next? Comic books? Moving back to my mother's basement? Going to conventions? Mommy, what's happening to me? Oh, woe is me! Must... get... help.

Still, it's awfully nice to imagine the little guy sitting on my computer, helping me write, threatening to bite me, speaking all mockney. NO! See, I know I didn't just say that. I do need help!

Monday, November 22, 2004


Thanks to Alicia at Twilight Cafe

The Cheshire Cat! You're a sly cat who grins on the
outside, but schemes on the inside. Even your
best friends don't realize that you may
actually be their worst enemy!

What kind of cat are you?

Friday, November 19, 2004

Bengal Sooths

Dick LeBeau left Cowher, went to Cincinnati, and then came back to the light. He wanted to be where he could maybe win sometimes. Tomorrow, you shall know fear, and the swift hand of Cowher justice. Bengal Tigers are on the endangered list. Tomorrow, they will become extinct. I feel bad about it. Really.

Top Ten

I'm gonna start a new thing. Every time I feel like it, I'm gonna post my top 10 of something. Ranking things always makes me feel better. Feel free to play along on my blog or your own. My rankings are based on my personal preferences and nothing more. For today, I'm going with something easy...

Favorite 10 Male Actors

10. Sean Connery
9. Bruce Campbell
8. Jim Caviezel
7. Anthony Hopkins
6. Guy Pearce
5. Colin Firth
4. Mel Gibson
3. James Marsters
2. Daniel Day Lewis
1. Gary Oldman

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Since I'm on the topic of buzzwords, let me just say this: I am SO sick of the term "smash-mouth football". Stop saying that. Please, I beseech you, stop. Bob Pompeani, Edmund Nelson, you are terrible football commentators. Please stop. Myron, please stop. Just stop. Think of new words. You all sounded like idiots before someone handed you that little nugget of a term. Why, oh why must the Steelers always be on CBS?

Buzzword Bingo

Inspired by The Data Nazi's (no data for you!) post on oxymorons, I am writing a post on business buzzwords. In my nine years as a tech writer, I have dealt with many executives who like to use silly bidnis buzzwords to make themselves feel all puffy and boardroomy. As a writer, I am trained to do just the opposite, and I train my students likewise. The lesson I try to teach my students is one that many of my clients need to learn as well: The purpose of language and writing is communication with your intended audience. Big words, buzzwords, jargon, and convoluted phrasing communicate nothing and so they should be left out of most manuals, and probably, most conversation. They are the styrofoam peanuts of language. They just make it harder to get at the actual contents of the box, if any. I contend that when the speaker is a suit, there's probably nothing in the proverbial box. For your consideration, here is a partial list of words and phrases that immediately make me think less of the speaker or writer:

think outside the box
anything about a "radar screen"
added bonus (redundant!)
past history (ditto!)
failure to comply
retrofit (ooooh, I hate that one.)

Well, that's all I can think of right now. The danger I'm facing is that I use these words jokingly so often, I forget that someone may be listening, and thinking I'm an empty suit, too. Suffice it to say, I'll bet Donald Trump never needs to use those canned experessions. I rest my case. Got any more for me?

Monday, November 15, 2004


I just happened upon this site for Subversive Cross Stitching. I think it's very funny. It almost makes me want to cross stitch again, but not really.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Take That!

When everyone said it was time for Cowher to go, I stuck by him. I knew that when he finally got the right team and staff, he would be able to execute his masterful vision of gridiron domination. Tomorrow, Cleveland, he will crush you, using just the power of his mighty will, and several gadget plays. Fear him! Accept your inevitable defeat.

Screw You, Nutra-Sweet!

Yep, it's another food rant. Here's the thing: I am wickedly allergic to all forms of artificial sweetener. I know this seems crazy, and believe me, I thought I was crazy, but it happens to be true. This ain't your ordninary allergy, either. I don't just get hives; I get anxiety attacks and heart palpitations. Not fun. For the longest time, I was convinced there was something wrong with my heart, but no. I had been dealing with this for quite some time, while ignorantly drinking a gallon of iced tea per day infused with these space-age polymers. Then, one day, I was reading a book called The pH Miracle when I read it: ALL artificial sweeteners can cause headaches, anxiety attacks, and heart palpitations. I nearly cried from the revelation. I stopped ingesting that shit immediately, and have been careful to avoid it wherever it may hide. It took about two weeks, but my symptoms disappeared, and now I know.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you that in this day of low-carb everything, the supermarket feels like a minefield.

But this is my point: These sweeteners have so many different names now, and I never can tell one from another. I keep accidentally buying gum with aspartame in it. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what is sweetening this new Slim Fast Optima, and they never answer my emails. I'm sick as hell of this and I firmly believe that all artifical sweeteners should be clearly marked, if not on the front of the package, then at least in the ingredients list. Damn you, fake sugar!

Me under the influence of evil fakesweet:

Me now:

Friday, November 12, 2004

Shame on You, Food!

Should a restaurant commit any of the following "Unholy Trinity of Mortal Culinary Sins," they will be banned from my "great" list until they fix it. I know that they are quaking in their tall white hats.

  1. Iceberg Lettuce (also known as "garbage")
  2. Lack of Vegetarian Selections (pasta primavera, whatever the hell that means, does NOT qualify. Show me a vegetable napoleon, and then we'll talk.)
  3. Iced tea that is not freshly brewed. (Screw you, coffee drinkers! I'm standing up for the rights of tea-heads everywhere!)

Venial Sins which can be overcome with a good menu and good service include:

  • No San Pellegrino on the menu
  • Overly noisy - music or people
  • Food with dumb, meaningless names like "chocolate sin" (This is one of my biggest pet peeves and will be the subject of a future rant. It's right up there with punny names for beauty salons.)
  • Very few wines by the glass (Let me try before I buy!)
  • A conspicuous obsession with Balsamic Vinegar (I like it too, but come on! The world does offer us other flavors!)
  • Takes itself way seriously, then doesn't deliver the goods. (d'Imperios, what the fuck is "Chicken Diane"? I HATE YOU!)
  • Use of the word "apps"
  • "Apps" include fried cheeze stix
  • "Chicken Tenders" anywhere on the menu, even the children's menu.

I will add to my list as I see fit. Of course, it goes without saying that if any restaurant, no matter how excellent, should fail the cleanliness test, it does not even qualify for judging. Unless it is a pizza dive, in which case, bring on the grunge! Woo Hoo!

Citizen Willow Proclaimeth...

An e-conversation with Name Hidden yesterday made me realize just how high-maintenance I am when it comes to food. Picky? Oh, you bet. Not only am I a vegetarian, but also, a foodie. Besides the customary lack of vegetarian options on a menu (pasta primavera just ain't cuttin' it, folks!), there are other offenses that drop a restaurant out of my favor. So far, I have only visited a FEW restaurants which do not violate my rigorous set of standards. Here are the only Pittsburgh area restaurants that pass muster and qualify as great:

The Church Brew Works (The Burgh's #1 food in my book!)
P.F. Chang's China Bistro
Mad Mex
Bravo (They squeaked by because of their indescribably delicious tomato bisque.)
Red Star (Greensburg - NOT Station Square! That's a different animal altogether!)
Penn Brewery
The Grand Concourse (When I wanna cheat and eat fishies)
Mitchell's Fish Market (ditto the fishies)
Udipi Cafe (Sooooo very veggie!)
Maggie's Mercantile (Donegal, PA)

Now, I realize that I may have missed some, but these are the only ones that come to mind. I have not yet visited Casbah, Soba Lounge, Eleven and a few others that I suspect may have potential to make my list.

Excellent quick lunch options. Not great, but reliable and good:

Baja Fresh
El Campesino (Monroeville)
Au Bon Pain

Best Pizza:


Scraping the bottom of the proverbial barrel:

King's Family Restaurants
TGI Friday's (do they strive to make everything taste like a dumpster buffet?)
Burger King

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

For some time, my mom has tried to convince me that I would be happier somewhere far away from Pittsburgh. I have to wonder if that's not true. I complain incessantly about Pennsylvania's semi-crumbling infrastructure, stupid liquor laws, and the lack of many really good places to eat. OK, sure, we've got plenty of good Italian restaurants, but not too many creative places. I have always wished for land, lots of land, under starry skies above. (Don't fence me in!) I wish for newer STUFF in general. Pittsburgh has a way of being deeply depressing in the winter, and I'm dreading this one.

Riding in the car the other day, mom said, "I think I should move to a red state. They have better weather, and I'm sick of it around here. You and your husband should move, too."

"Hmmm," thought I.

Then tonight, I stumble across a picture like this:

I have obligations that keep me here, but I think I would move otherwise. There are things about the good ol' Burgh that I would miss, big time: The Steelers, and my reasonably close proximity to the Outer Banks of NC. I would miss the green, lush Appalachians, and the chlorophyll smell of spring. I would miss ferns and camp and my friends.

But I sure as hell wouldn't miss my neighbors, or constant road construction, or slush, or ice.

I have to wonder if I'm not a Westerner at heart. I do so love wearing my cowboy hat, and lemme tell you, it gets stares comments in conformist Pittsburgh.

What to do...

Monday, November 08, 2004

Monday Madness

This seems like fun, so I think I'll try it. The idea is to copy the questions and answer them on your own blog. Why not? You can play by clicking the link above.

Name 3 (or more, or less!) things...

1. cannot live without.

food, water, shelter, reality TV

2. CAN live without, but cannot seem to part with.

books, antique pens, crafts

3. wish to accomplish this COMING week.

two more chapters of my book, cleaning my desk, learning to knit in the round

4. have accomplished this PAST week.

learned increasing and decreasing, lugged 200 times my body weight volunteering at the YMCA, made homemade cheese (that wasn't awful)

5. ...on your holiday (or non-holiday) 'wish list.'

a non-cumbersone, portable compilation of Keats' poetry, a Pelikan fountain pen, a Barnes and Noble gift card

6. would like to change about yourself.

i'd like to be more athletic, less of a procrastinator, watch less TV

7. like about yourself.

i'm well-educated, can have fun anywhere, and i have shiny hair

8. should be doing right now instead of what you ARE doing.

cleaning my desk, editing a manuscript, and cooking dinner

9. your life that could use a little more organization.

the aforementioned desk, my clothes closet, my myriad of craft supplies

Sunday, November 07, 2004

You Can't Argue With Facts

Bill Cowher is an empirical good. He never does anything wrong and everyone loves him. He doesn't make mistakes; he shows us alternate realities. His logic is infallible. He can move giant boulders with his mind and bend the very weather to his will. He helps old ladies and little children cross the street. He always smells like peppermint, he is an accomplished chef, and he never gets gas. In his spare time, he builds shelters for homeless puppies and sings baritone in the choir.

And so it goes

I've said it before, but this time I mean it. I am placing an all-out ban on political banter on this website.

No more.
Not for me.
I don't care.

Someone has been disparaged. I have done needless damage. From here on in, I will keep my politicizing between myself and the trusted few and leave this website to be all about: Pottery, Wine, Crafts, Movies, Books, and my grossly misshapen personal life. Everything else be damned. And I thought my book club was a rough crowd.

Back to the Cabernet.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Islands of Blue in a Sea of Red

Courstesy of Tammy Bruce...

WOW. What does this tell you?

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Poetry : Part 1

In an effort to stop with all the politics talk, I am presenting my first installment of "Citizen Willow's Favorite Poetry". For your consideration, my very favorite poem. I invite comment. For me, this is all about the first four lines. I believe it to be the most beautiful four lines ever written in the English language. I admit, the second four lines are a little sappy.

He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
by W.B. Yeats

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

The Passion

Laura Ingraham says that now that we have the election all wrapped up, it's time to start rallying for that Mel Gibson Oscar for The Passion of the Christ. First of all, this is a gut-wrenching movie about Jesus Christ. Add to that, Mel Gibson has been doing anti-embryonic stem cell ads in California and publicly saying that Arnold Schwarzenegger will not return his phone calls. Let's face it. Hollywood ain't givin' him an Oscar unless under extreme pressure. We must spread the word and apply that pressure.

Now, I have an admission to make. I have not seen the movie. I know! I know! But I have heard all about it. I have sought out as much information about the film as I could without actually watching it. You see, I refuse to see it because of the actor playing Jesus. His name is Jim Caviezel and it just so happens I have a mighty large crush on him, because of his other movies. When I read that he would be playing Jesus, I knew I could never see the movie. It would be so sick and wrong to have the hots for the Savior. And I know I would. I just can't do it.

Despite that, I will sally forth and proclaim that the film deserves an Oscar. My mommy says it does and that's good enough for me.

Ron Reagan 2

Ron Reagan also said on election night that it is totally inappropriate for Bush to speak of the "sanctity" of marriage, and that the word "sanctity" has no place in politics. I disagree. I say in America, it belongs there when a majority of people SAY it does.

Oh, and HEY, looks like 25% of the gay vote went to Bush. That's over one million votes. Turns out there are lots of gays with jobs and lives. Turns out they don't all think alike, as the leftists would have us believe. Turns out some of them have brains, just like us.

Just had to get that last little bit of anger off my chest. I think I'm done now. I think it's time for me to stop torturing myself with all this and go back to writing about my crafts and favorite movies. I had no intention of allowing this blog to be so political, but one does get fired up around elections.

I vow that my next post will be kinda useless, just the way I like it.

I think I'm all done sharpening my claws.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Screw You, Ron Reagan!

Last night on MSNBC, Ron Reagan said that the re-election of president Bush would be "depressing for many people. Depressing for those who care about the environment. Depressing for those who care about stem cell research and who care about science instead of faith."

THAT, my friends, is why they lost. They underestimate the DIVERSITY within the conservative community. I am a tree-hugger. I am a vegetarian. I wear Birkenstocks. I have a degree in Physics. I don't usually go to church. I'm anti-death penalty. I recycle. AND I AM A CONSERVATIVE.

You see, Ron Reagan thinks he's smarter than us because he believes in science. He is one of those typical blind liberals who consider the conservative mind to be equivalent to the redneck or born-again mind. But it is certainly NOT. Sure, sometimes it is, but often it's ME or someone like me. I know another vegetarian conservative. I recently worked with a card-carrying member of PETA who is a conservative. I know two gay conservatives. Wait, make that three. I had two Physics professors who were conservatives.

We're everywhere, and we're not always where you think! And clearly, we're not going away. We'll stand in the rain to vote longer than they will. We just don't have the big mouths that they do. We have a quieter determination, but at least as potent.

To the media, you've underestimated our INTELLIGENCE, our PASSION, and our DIVERSITY. So, you got what you deserved. Suck on it, Michael Moore, you circus freak.

And this morning, I have only this to say:

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Pins and Needles

I'm going out on a limb. If Kerry wins today, I'm becoming a pirate. I'll have no other options if I want to remain free, financially secure, and un-blown up by terrorists. I'll find a classic little cove somewhere in the Carribbean and build an arsenal and drink rum and sing songs and stop paying my taxes.

Yo Ho!

Monday, November 01, 2004

I've Been Sorted!

As if there was ever any doubt, I'm in Ravenclaw!

i'm in ravenclaw!
be sorted @

Well you're one smart little cookie, aren't you? You're wise and clever, and just love to use your wit and learning to your advantage, and sometimes even the disadvantage of others. Well, nerd, there IS a world outside of that copy of 'Hogwarts: A History', you know.. Oh don't worry! We all know you're special. You're just a naturally good learner, right? Not too much is known about your house right now.. Wow! Not only are you intellegent, you're also an enigma!

Bring on the New Obsession!

OK. I've been crocheting since I was 6 years old. For a long time, I've had knit-envy. And for the last three years, I have been trying in vain futility to make my fingers knit. Attempts to teach me (by a very accomplished knitting friend) have only ever resulted in pain, bitterness and severe digit cramping. So, a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting and watching a particularly purile reality TV show (a weakness) and I decided that I should try and make the time at least somewhat productive. "Let the torture begin anew!", said I, as I reached for my beautiful-but-heretofore-useless size 13 bamboos and a skein of cheap-ass yarn. I plodded along, knitting in a way that would make Frankenstein look graceful. But then something happened. It clicked! Continental knitting! It all happened so fast that I don't even know how. It instantly became clear and almost completely natural. EXACTLY like the first time you ride a bike.

Two weeks later, and I've made three scarves, and I can purl and make a cable! I'm about to embark on my first "real" project, a felted bag in Lopi yarn. I will attempt knitting in the round. I will have to do this "decreasing" and "yarn-overing" that I've heard so much about. I feel a sweater can't be far away. Oh, how I've dreamt of that day! I want it to be blue and have one big fat cable running up the front. GOODY GOODY GUMDROPS!

Slowly, it's all starting to make more sense. I have no intention of giving up my crocheting, because I'm really good at it. But I have the feeling that my hooks aren't going to see much action in the coming months. (I actually feel a little guilty about this, like I'm abandoning a friend. I'm an ass.)

I have already been to my local knitting store twice, and I feel the obsession building. I spent a whole hour this morning reading and dreaming of the day I can make some of their stuff.

I really didn't need another hobby, that's for sure, but what can you do? This stuff just happens, I guess. So bring it on! I can knit and crochet and make pottery and play various musical instruments and get all my real work done! I know I can!