Saturday, March 23, 2013

I'm pretty sure you were NOT looking for a list of things that smell awful, but I gave you one anyway. (The Great Ranking Of Problems)

This morning, Sweetie was opening up a bag of Cheese Puffs for Mr F, as I walked into the kitchen.

"Here," she said, and held the bag of Cheese Puffs out towards me as I approached.

I'm no dummy. I stopped and backed off and Sweetie in response jabbed them at my face so the opening of the bag was put around my chin and I had no choice but to inhale.

Which was mean because...

...the Cheese Puffs smell like farts.*

*I am aware that the subject matter of this blog is getting increasingly gross. I blame it on the fact that it is approximately March 23 -- I'm too lazy and seasonally affective disordered and cabin feverish to even know what the date is anymore -- and there is still four inches of snow on the ground and it's 24 degrees today.  Somewhere, the sun is shining and people are outside laughing and skipping, probably, and basking in the warm glow of the life-giving golden rays that gleam down upon them, wearing shorts and t-shirts and thinking "How wonderful life is! How special!" Here in Wisconsin, there is snow and all is poop.  

That is the newest entry on "The Great Ranking Of Problems:" smelly Cheese Puffs. Although maybe it should be smelly things that ought not to be smelly, in general, since that seems to be the way the trend is going.

Here is a list of things that smell awful with no reason for doing so:

1. Egg McMuffins.
2. Boiled eggs.
3. Cheese puffs when first opened.
4.  Lately, Hershey Bars when first opened, too.

These things did not always smell this way to me, and I am worried that this is a side effect aging.  Maybe, as we get older, things start to smell more and more disgusting? Things that aren't disgusting already, I mean? Fish,  for example, has always smelled disgusting, but that is because fish is fish, and fish are gross.  But Cheese Puffs and Egg McMuffins are not gross or disgusting.  They are more towards the wonderful end of the spectrum:

Pictured: SCIENCE!

I mean, Egg McMuffins would not be all the way over to the right hand side, but they wouldn't be anywhere near the left-hand side, either.  And yet, they're edging that way, or have moved over there, because some years ago -- way back before I was even married to Sweetie, when I lived in a small crummy apartment on the bad part of town only we didn't know it was that bad, and she lived elsewhere in a nice apartment on the nice part of town, we were for some reason at my apartment, and I went across the street to get her an Egg McMuffin for breakfast --

-- that is how you know you're not living in a great neighborhood: there is a fast food restaurant across the street.  But I liked the convenience.--

--and then I went out for a jog and then I came back about twenty minutes later and the entire apartment stunk.

It was the Egg McMuffins, and also the beginning of the long slow decline into a stinky seniorhood.  For some reason, eggs were first.  Egg McMuffins were the first, and then eggs came along, but for a few years at least, that was it.  It was limited to egg-based foods for some reason smelling terrible, which was okay because the only time it really affected me was if we made egg salad at home, something that we only do really when I wheedle Sweetie into it, because when I make egg salad it is bland and hopeless.

Literally hopeless: my egg salad is so bland it seems to sap one's will to go on.  I'm not sure why that is.  I make it the same way Sweetie does, I think, with the exception that I boil the eggs into submission because I am not 100% sure how long it takes to hard-boil an egg and let's face it, neither are you or anybody else in the world.  Nobody really knows what's going on in that egg, and to be really really sure that it's hard-boiled you have to see inside it.  Which you can't do, so you have to guess.

And don't go on with your "science" this and "two minutes" that.  I am aware that in theory you could know that the application of a certain level of heat for a certain amount of time would hard boil an egg, but (A) I don't know how long that is and I refuse to be the kind of person who looks up how to boil an egg because that seems like admitting defeat, I'm not sure by who I would be defeated but I am totally sure that it would be a defeat and (B) how do you know your water is that hot? Or not that hot? The only thing you know for sure about boiling water is it's at least 212 degrees (Fahrenheit, which is the only degrees temperatures really respect.) but it could be hotter, maybe, if you are way above sea level.  Or less hot.  I'm not sure how that works.  Or where I am above sea level.  See how complicated this is?  Suddenly I've got to use Higgs Bosons to make some egg salad, and they don't even exist!

So what I do is I boil the eggs for a long time.  Like 20 minutes.  Maybe. I don't know exactly how long I boil them for. I'm not a great cook anymore because I tend to get distracted while I'm cooking.  Either I'm watching Netflix on my computer while I cook or Mr F wants me to tickle him or Mr Bunches is actually letting me play Sky Racers airplanes (I always have to be the Scorpion Plane because he doesn't like that one), or something.  So maybe I don't boil them  for 20 minutes. Maybe it's two minutes. Maybe it's an hour. Who cares? They're eggs. I boil them until I'm tired of boiling them or I've eaten something else because I got too hungry waiting for the eggs to boil, which I tend to do because my egg salad is so awfully bland, it's really not worth eating.  Egg salad, for me, is largely theoretical these days.

Anyway, Sweetie makes better egg salad than me, but not very often, probably because of the smell of eggs, which sticks around for a few days.  But her egg salad is very good, and doesn't leave you feeling suicidal at all, the way mine does.  I can't even bear to eat it.  I am the only person in the world whose egg salad needs it's own special hotline for help.

"Hello?' a quavering voice would say when the operator picks up.  "It all seems so pointless, suddenly," the person would add, and the specially-trained therapist on the other end would recommend just ordering a pizza.

If the Creeping Smell of Doom had stopped with infecting eggs, I'd have been okay with it, but, as I said, lately it has started up again, first with the Cheese Puffs, which I noticed one day when I opened a bag of Cheese Puffs for Mr F and out wafted a stinky smell, and I thought:

"Well, that was weird."

But lots of weird things happen and, frankly, lots of weird smells happen, and after I inspected the Cheese Puffs they seemed okay, and so I gave them to Mr F, but I noticed that happening a lot with the Cheese Puffs, and one day I told Sweetie about it, and she agreed with me that it was happening, which at first reassured me that I was not going crazy but then made me worry that there's something wrong, either with my marriage (why wouldn't Sweetie confide in me that she thought the Cheese Puffs were stinky?) or with our world (why are Cheese Puffs stinky, at all?) or maybe with me after all (What if I'd imagined the conversation with Sweetie and not only was the smell in my head but now I was living in an imaginary world? Is Sweetie real? ARE YOU?)

And then, one day, Mr F wanted a Hershey Chocolate Bar, which we buy in bulk.  I got one out and tore it open, and it smelled weird, too.  In fact, it smelled like eggs/cheese puffs!

I haven't mentioned that to Sweetie yet. I'm not sure which direction I need this to go.  But the Cheese Puff smell hasn't gone away and now I'm wondering what will be affected by it next, and whether this has something to do with the Patriot Act, which everyone seems to have forgotten about what with the drones and all, but it's still out there, doing something.

Stinky Cheese Puffs, I rate you:  Problem Level 115, but I'm going to upgrade that if it continues to worsen.

Prior entries on The Great Ranking Of Problems:

17. Cords.

20. Shower spiders.
72. The pen ran dry midway through my signature (legal documents)

Family members imposing their diets on me

99: Spousal PB&J Incompatibility.

100. Sweetie's advice to wear a sports bra while running.

103. Mail being delivered at the wrong time of the day.

115. Stinky Cheese Puffs. (Subject to change.)

173: Preshoveling & reshoveling snow.

What to do about stuff I was going to buy but then it broke in the store and now I still want to buy the stuff but I don't want to buy something that was broken?
413: Guilt Over Meanness To Sentient Paperclips
. . .
502: Having to wait forever, seemingly, for Italian food to cool down. 
. . .

721: Printer not holding a lot of paper at once.
...2,624: Unidentifiable Mystery Song Stuck In Head.
...5,000: Lopsided Nail Clipping.
...7,399: Potato(E?)s?

. . .

8.766: Uncertainty over how long my magazine subscriptions last

13,334: The pen ran dry midway through my signature (signing stuff that doesn't really matter at all, so why am I signing it?)
14,452: Worrying that there's too much peanut brittle leftover to eat before it goes bad.
15,451: Almost napping.
22,372: Having hair which isn't quite a definable color.
22,373: Having too many songs on an iPod

22,374: My iPod won't let me skip songs while running.

One of the saddest photos you'll see today...

...has one of the lamest backstories.  Also, it's not sad.

I was going to take a picture of Mr F sitting at the bottom of the stairs.  As I got ready to do so, a bunch of kids including Mr Bunches (the butt at the top of the stairs) ran by.  I snapped the photo just as Mr F got an itchy nose.

So he's rubbing his nose, not crying, but the way it came out, it looks terribly sad.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

You are not allowed to take pictures in art museums, so I didn't. (I.E.: YOU NEVER SAW THESE.)

Sunday, Mr F and Mr Bunches and I went to the "Chazen Museum Of Art" here in Madison.  

We began with the first gallery, which showed paintings from 1934, or something like that.  It was hard to get a feel for what the paintings were intended to show because Mr Bunches moves like lightning and while he seemed to get, on some level, that we were there to look at art, he is capable of looking at art at a higher rate of speed that anyone else.  He is like a hummingbird hopped up on caffeine.

For Mr F, the highlight of the first gallery was the bubblers, where we stopped to take an (artful) drink.  Then we had to go to the restroom, where Mr F and I entertained ourselves by taking his mugshot while Mr Bunches used the facilities:

By the way, these are in black & white because: art.

Also: I am aware that not many people choose to spend their Sunday afternoons taking pictures of their sons in public restrooms.  But because the museum was crowded I could not put into effect my plan to  actually start a new art project, one I've had in mind for some time, which is this:

"Children Standing In Front Of Art."

I mean, first of all, that's brilliant, right? How more artsy can you be than to take pictures of someone else's art and some kid(s) and then call that art.  It's "meta," which I can say because I am not really sure what "meta" means but I know that meta is where it's at.

Artwise, that is.

But I couldn't start that project on Sunday because (a) there were many people including one guard, in case someone tried to make off with a painting of a factory from 1934. (The painting, not the factory, was from 1934) and (b) also I needed to hold on to Mr Bunches and Mr F's hands as we got higher up, as you will see, eventually.

(That is called "foreshadowing.")

After our bathroom break, it was on to the "Jungle Room," as Mr Bunches pronounced the next room: 1934's versions of landscapes and the outdoors.

Mr F was, as the literary folk like to say,  "nonplussed."

All right, so I just looked up "nonplussed" and here is the official definition(s):

  1. (of a person) Surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.
  2. (of a person) Unperturbed

Which, what?

Those are two completely opposite things.  So in saying someone was 'nonplussed' you are not telling the listener/reader anything because either Mr F was so surprised and confused that he couldn't even tell how to react, i.e., he wasn't even sure whether he should act surprised and confused, or, he wasn't affected in any way whatsoever.

Mr F was nonplussed, version two.  And we didn't stay long in that room.  Instead, we moved on to the second level, where the first thing we came across was a large screw lying on its side:

The little card noted that the screw is slowly shifting form.  If you look closely at the left end, you'll see that there's a little blob of drip.  The screw is not quite a solid, and it is slowly dripping so that someday, years and years and years etc from now it will not be a screw.  It'll be a pile of drip.

It reminded me of the pitch experiment, which I think is probably the same thing.  When I tried to explain to Mr Bunches and Mr F what we were looking at, Mr Bunches said:

"Go look at vases?" by which he meant the glass-enclosed displays of vases and other artsy things that were in the next room. so we looked at them.  Mr Bunches pronounced one display "vases," one to be "trophys" and one, after some contemplation, he decided was "fish."

Then we went to the drawing room, where the big attraction for me were the tiny framed drawings on the walls but the big attraction for the boys was the big window:

They did look at the drawings, a bit, but seemed not very thrilled with them at all.  

The second level was not all that exciting and Mr Bunches was eager to use the elevator again, so we headed back to it to go to Level 3, the permanent collection, and got into a minor dispute when Mr Bunches felt he should be the only person who gets to hit the button for "3" but Mr F wanted to as well so we decided that Mr Bunches could hit it first and Mr F could push it second, but then Mr Bunches blocked Mr F from pushing the button at all and got a lecture about taking turns.

And then we were on the third level, which begins with a terrifying experiment in trust, in that the third level is open-air.  It has a central atrium or something, a walkway that opens in the middle and the opening is surrounded by a four-foot-tall wall, the opening going all the way down to the first floor.  There is a spot where you can actually walk across that gap, through a path (with walls, too) but the floor isn't a floor, as such, it is plexiglass colored yellow and it's clearly meant to be walked across but it just as clearly didn't seem safe to me.  We took a step onto it and I looked down and thought "Man, I am not walking across plexiglass," and even though I was about 72% sure that the art museum wouldn't set up a death trap, we opted to go the long way towards the room with the giant jack:

Mr Bunches in that picture is looking at a sculpture that is more or less a horse on a roasting spit, and not a nice horse, but the kind of horse you wouldn't mind actually roasting, and he is, in that picture, 1 second away from rushing over to try to turn the spit, because that is what kids do, artists: when you put a big lever on your thousands-of-dollars sculpture and then put the sculpture in the middle of the floor where anyone can reach it, kids are going to rush over to try to turn that lever, and their dads are going to rush after them dragging the other kid bodily until they grab the first kid just shy of incurring a second mortgage to pay for now-broken art.

The point is, the entire third floor of the art museum requires a great deal of supervision, because not only are there walls that could be quickly scaled and fallen over to one's doom, but also there are plexiglass death traps and touchable art that cannot be touched, so that if you are me, you hold both boys' hands and keep telling them:

"Art is just to look at, not to touch.  Don't touch. It's just to look at.  WITH YOUR EYES."

And then you go into the next room and there is a display that expressly says you can touch it:

That is a dresser or curio cabinet.  It was actually very neat, in a gothic horror kind of way.  Those three glass bell jars have sculptures in them, each resembling something but not quite being that thing.  The one on the right, for example, has little bugs-ish things on it.  The two others appear to be almost-but-not-quite plants.  Like the kind of dresser that Edgar Allan Poe might have had a nightmare about.

Inside each drawer in the dresser was a different thing: some old photographs-- why are old-timey photographs so creepy? Probably because everyone's dressed up and it wasn't the style to smile in pictures back then, is my guess -- or weird combs, or a hand-written poem.  I didn't get to look at them all because the boys lost patience, but I could have spent a long time there.

It did hold their attention long enough for me to go around it and snap that picture.  They both seemed a little shaken by it, though. Nonplussed Number One, I'd say.

Then there was the big sculpture room, which featured a sculpture of a totally naked woman, done very realistically, and it wasn't inappropriate because it was art, I guess, and also because the boys paid it no attention, really. 

And as we walked through the room, Mr Bunches said "Now we can go down?" and we finally walked down the stairs which was what he'd been wanting to do all along, although whether it was because there were three flights of stairs into the big lobby or whether it was because he knew walking down the stairs would mean we were leaving and going home is anyone's guess.