Well, our patio party for engaged friends was fun for us and we hope for all who attended. It was great to be outside and the weather has been unseasonably wonderful. We got to see folks we haven’t seen in an age, and stayed up until 3 a.m. (that’s an hour after everyone left, and about 5 hours after our normal bedtime) and then proceeded to lay around all day Saturday until I had to go to work. It was like we were on vacation, but we never left our home sweet home.

Also, Tim won his first case! To celebrate, the firm took him out to lunch to a Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse. Not that he didn’t appreciate the gesture, but he said everything tasted fried and it wasn’t very good. To make matters worse, the chef that is supposed to give you a little show at your table seemed bored and very no-nonsense, while the next table’s chef was like a stand-up comic, flipping shrimp tails into people’s shirt pockets and writing their names in Japanese with zucchini bits. Tim came home that day deciding that he was fat. Not fat as in obese, just a little too soft around the edges. He also decided to start calling his imaginary love handles “hibachis.” I don’t know if this is better or worse than its predecessor, “fundas.” Fundas was coined as a term to describe belly fat after we’d seen an article on cricketer Harbajan Singh in India. It was peppered with large, shirtless pictures of this hulking, powerful Sikh that appeared to be showing off his physique, only he looked just awful. Flabby with no definition and lots of, well, fat. And he’s a professional athlete. One of the quotes from the article over the most offensive of these photos said something like, “I just stick to my fundas. Everybody’s got them, yaar.” Fundas, in Indian English, is apparently a diminutive of fundamentals. (Why does fundamentals get a nickname?) But Tim decided it was much more suited to describe fat rolls.

Last night, we had to use symantec to help us get rid of a virus on our computer. Our representative’s name was Ashwarthy. We had to wait for a long time, and Tim told her as much. He typed that he waited in some chatroom for over an hour and no one ever contacted him. Ashwarthy replied: “Do not worry Timothy. I will help you.” She certainly had her fundas straight: customer care. While waiting in this queue, we looked up home remedies for acne. The first sight that came up was, of course, Indian. In great detail, it basically told us to go to our kitchen, mash anything that we saw into a paste, and apply it to our faces. My favorite sentence was: “Apply fresh juice of raw papaya on pimples and get a good result.”  Pimples; everybody’s got them, yaar.

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I have my first trial tomorrow so wish me luck.  Kelly and Richard’s party coincides quite nicely with this event.  Win or lose, I will have a bracing drink waiting for me at home.  On a vaguely related note, here is a picture of the justices of the Canadian Supreme Court.  Does it soften the blow if the judge who convicts you is dressed like Santa Claus?

Canadian Supreme Court Judges as of December 2004.

This is the best piece of literary criticism I have read in a long while (admittedly I don’t read much of the stuff).  It’s worth persisting with the entire article as I think it diagnoses a real and worrying trend in literature and criticism.  I know this was written a while back but it’s just as pertinent now.

A Reader’s Manifesto

Thoughts, loyal readers?

I had a concert last weekend for which my 80+ year-old grandparents drove all the way from Tennessee.  It was the first time they’ve ever seen me sing professionally, we had about two hundred people at the concert, and I sold 33 cds in one shot.  It was really wonderful.  To celebrate, we bought a pineapple upside down cake from a lady who lives in Chesterfield and ends every sentence with “Praise the Lord.”  Bernie of Bernie’s Baked Goods.  Best Cake Ever.  Here’s a blurry picture:

Also, we are watching  Jeeves and Wooster from the beginning.  I encourage any ladies who already have a crush on the fabulously talented Mr. Laurie not to read his Wikipedia entry.  He’s actually much better than you can possibly imagine.  Breeding, intelligence, talent.  It’s all there, girls.  I tried so hard to hate the British and the French.  I married an Indian, for crying out loud.  Why, why does Western Europe still taunt me with it’s exceeding pretension and glorious way of life?  Luckily, my husband has a snooty-sounding accent and a wonderful vocabulary.  This helps to ease all these undesirable cravings I have (like being born into a life of leisure).  He’s also handsome and “debonair.”  All I need now is to cultivate a love for the Ballet, the Classics and sundry moldy cheeses.   Whatever shall I do with my vast Archie Comics collection?

For some reason people at my office regularly use the word bailiwick. I find this very odd. It is not a common word. Furthermore, they don’t use it in any legal sense. Rather, they say things like, “well that assignment isn’t really my bailiwick.” Bizarre! Firstly, there are any number of words that are far more common that one could use in that context (purview, jurisdiction, responsibility, etc..). Next, these are not people who are prone to flowery or baroque language. It would be much more normal if they said “That’s not my assignment” or “I don’t know anything about that.” Lastly, we aren’t English bailiffs from the 15th century. This is clearly some sort of etymological virus that’s spreading throughout the firm and I intent to stop it. It sounds silly.

It’s actually just a patio, but the word veranda has a more interesting etymology. Veranda was absorbed into the Portuguese language (and subsequently into English) from Portugal’s East Asian colonies in Goa. The word originally comes from Hindi. Fascinating. So, we did our own little outdoor blending of cultures today, in what will hence forth be known as The Veranda. Tim, our good friend Steven, of Scotch-Irish stock, Benedict Praneeth, formerly of Bangalore, Richard, a crazy Ukranian-Chilean-and-who-knows-what-else mutt, and Jefferson, the greatest bear of them all*, all built The Veranda in our backyard. It looks amazing! We are very excited to be hosting Kelly and Richard’s engagement party on this very Veranda in August. Twill be “A Night to Remember.” (we are thinking of giving it a theme like a prom. Mine from high school were “Wonderful Tonight” and “Ain’t Going Down til the Sun Comes Up.” For Kelly and Richard maybe “Tore Up from the Floor Up” or “Hotdogs and Butts: A Retrospective.”)

A quick before and after with links to see the process if you’re bored (click on the pics).

*added too late to count.

We did it ourselves, suckers!

We did it ourselves, suckers!

The Veranda at Grayland

The Veranda at Grayland

Tim and I are an interracial, inter-cultural couple. In today speak, that translates to “SO COOL.” We get to have beautiful mixed babies and can randomly dress up in saris and kurtas without looking like we’ve come from an organic grocery store in Charlottesville. We have had very few actual fights or misunderstandings because of different cultural expectations or practices. A large part of that is because we share the same religion. Another reason is because Tim has lived in the US more than he’s lived anywhere else. In fact, I remember being shocked the first time someone referred to us as an interracial couple because I had never thought of us as such. But whatevs, right? I love Indian food, Tim likes bluegrass, we both have amazing parents and siblings. It just hasn’t been an issue.

Until the old dividing rod came out last Christmas. The wheat-and-chaffer, you might say. If you’re ever in a situation where you’d like to make a foreigner feel like even more of an outsider, pull out your favorite childhood board game. I believe this applies universally. When I was in India last summer to visit Tim’s family, a hotel we stayed in had a Carroms board. It’s basically like foosball with your fingers, and when I tried to play, even Tim’s mother and sister, who, like me, are very unlikely to be good at any kind of game or sport, could easily win. What we experienced last Christmas was like that Carroms game, only on a much deeper level.

We decided to take our Balderdash game over to the Singh’s house for good family fun after our Christmas Day meal. The players included Tim and myself, Tim’s sister, Tim’s father, mother, and aunt and some friends of the family (also Indian). We explained the directions to everyone: just like the dictionary game, except LOADED. You get movies, acronyms, and words you’ve never heard of and try to make others believe that your made up answer is the correct one. We pulled a real peach out for the first one. A movie title. Wild Women of Wongo. An excellent card! We were supposed to write out plot summaries. Somewhere between expectations of American culture, constant TV watching, and being from India, these were some of the respones (and yes we memorized them):

“These incredible women go wild whenever they eat wongos. Imagine an island full of them. It will blow your mind”

“Where women want to go but won’t. You guessed it. Not the jungle.”

These were given by Tim’s aunt and mother. They somehow understood “voice-over for a soft porn trailer” instead of “plots summaries.” Tim’s “uncle” (as in not a relative, just a guy) delivered one that was epic in scope. Love, loss, coming of age and social awareness, all wrapped up in a heartwarming tale of some kind. He may have even scripted a few songs in his summary.

Maybe the next card will be better, we thought. An acronym! I. O. A. You know, like, Institute of Aardvarks, Interactive Optics Association. That kind of thing.

“Intent of Approach”

“I Owe Audrey”

“In Or Aught”

I think “aught” ceased to be a usable English word sometime around India’s conquest. I once had to play charades in Brazil and had to act out “anvil,” so I am not pointing any fingers. But East is East and West is West. I’m just saying.

I have already alerted some of you to the fact that a beloved, albeit recent, Richmond institution is under attack. The Belmont Butchery, purveyors of fine meats, once sported an impressively minimalist website. It was a single page that listed their hours and tantalized visitors with a picture of the marbled shank of some delicious creature. I visited the website many times even though the site didn’t grow beyond that one page. I pondered the juxtaposition of the spartan layout with the pictured cut of richly marbled, prized meat. On my last visit, however, I was confronted with the following graphic as well as the notice that the site had been hacked by “CrOwnzer.”

Applying the skills gleaned from reading countless Sherlock Holmes stories, I immediately deduced that the hacker is a lovelorn, teenage, Pakistani girl. How, you ask? Elementary, my dear Internets.

heart plus sign

equals sign

Why do the terrorists always strike the places we hold most dear?

N.B. – I do not think all Pakistanis are terrorists. I respect many things about the nation of Pakistan most notably its ability to churn out an endless supply of quality fast bowlers despite being riddled with corruption and having next to no infrastructure.

This, along with several other FULL PAGE MAGAZINE spreads was FedExed to me on Tuesday. Here are some of my favorite comments, made by “friends” :

“Who is that Japanese girl trying to look white?”

“You look at least 40.”

“Weird.”

And weird it is. I recorded an album in New York in September with Venus Records, an indie Japanese jazz label. Venus has extensively publicized the album in Japan and has been kind enough to send me some of the promotional material. I somehow thought it would be much more exciting to receive magazines with your picture liberally strewn about. I think Tim was more excited than I was, because it doesn’t really feel like I am looking at myself. Maybe if I could understand the writing, it would sink in a little more. I hope it’s as good as the translations that Google has provided of some of the reviews:

“‘I can not see it passed through beauty’ and they likely originated in an involuntary owner Laura Ann Miss Beauty. Bossa Nova vocalist working in Richmond as they seem, but this time the name of Venus from Laura’s first album as the launch of which has come to a happy pattern. Then somewhere and I felt that old familiar voice. After a while, ‘Hey, this must be Aki Yashiro?’ But I did not. I feel this reason, but through the whole book, music and slow vibrato in a moment when I felt a little and received the impression. With beautiful background music, Laura, who is also fluent in Portuguese, it’s a really rich singing to me. Bossa pros as well, ‘Standard Jazz Album I also like listening to’ someone, we also expect the singer’s appearance tied up!”

Another gem: “Laura slightly husky voice, a romantic and sentimental to me approaching, the start of summer, the perfect modern luxury.”

Well, there you have it. The critics are raving. Mad, that is. Hopefully we will do another album this year. When we were recording, the label owner, Mr. Tetsuo Hara was there in the studio. Tim and I had the chance to talk to him quite a bit. He bought us lunch and told us about $40-per-piece sushi in Japan. He kept talking about curry to make Tim comfortable, and Tim kept calling him “Mr. O’Hara” as if he were an Irish policeman. It was the perfect modern luxury.

I would say that Tim and I are not very technologically savvy. But, so much is happening in our lives and I want to remember it all. So, I’ve basically coerced my erudite and well spoken husband into writing for a blog about nothing in particular. Here are some topics that will most surely be visited:

Economics/Libertarianism/Politics/PLEASE DO NOT MENTION THE FARM BILL

Music that I like that no one cares for any more

Our burgeoning careers (Richmond, New York, Japan, and beyond)

Cricket and the NBA

Smallville and maybe Archie Comics

Food that we cook, eat and are dreaming of cooking and eating

Lastly, the title of our blog came about because we have planned our next vacation entirely around visiting a very obscure (and hard to reach) town legendary for its acorn fed suckling pigs that are burnt to a perfect crisp over special spits filled with fairy dust and meteor rocks. I think it sounds great! Tim can’t think about anything else.