Hot vs. Cold

I have appliance problems.

The toaster is still toasting and the stove is still heating and the microwave continues to wave, but the refrigerator just isn’t reaching the appropriate amount of cold.  And that’s not a good thing when the temp hits 88 and the humidity turns you into a sponge.

The fridge is only two years old and evidently it’s a piece of crap. To be honest, I’m not even sure it’s working anymore. It’s not getting cold, and I don’t hear too many sounds coming from it. That’s different than what I usually hear with this fridge, little taps and groans and pops. I thought it was just the natural sounds of some cycle the fridge was going through, but maybe it was the first sign that something was wrong. The light’s still on, if that means anything.

So I sit here, drinking a supposed-to-be-cold drink, working on The Letter, the Red Sox/Tigers game on in the background with the sound off, engulfed in sweat and humidity. For me, every day of the summer consists of two activities: sweating and killing bugs.

(By the way, lots of new stuff up at Professor Barnhardt’s Journal, if you haven’t visited it lately.)

Love and thanks

The other day I was at the convenience store down the street buying a bunch of the caffeinated drinks that help me get through another day of staring at a computer screen and typing.

After paying for the drinks I told the cashier I didn’t need a bag (several glass bottles thrown into a thin plastic bag is a recipe for disaster – trust me on this). I scooped up the bottles into both hands and under one arm and headed for the door. As I approached the exit I noticed a man talking on his cell phone, holding the door open 1/3 of the way. Now, he wasn’t opening it for me and he wasn’t coming into the store yet, he was just so entranced by the phone call that he sort of just stopped 1/3 of the way through the process of coming into the store. He was sort of in limbo, clueless and preoccupied, like a lot of people whose cell is attached to their hand/ear 24/7.

He sees me coming and opens the door a little wider. I’m not sure if he did it because he saw the bottles in my hand and wanted to help or if he simply remembered that he was holding on to the door and had to open it up more to get inside and oh! here’s a guy with things in his hand so I might as well let him go by first. But I didn’t want to assume anything and I wanted to thank him for opening the door. Here’s how the conversation went:

Guy: I love you.
Me: Thanks.

I suppose I should back up a bit and tell you that he was saying “I love you” to the girlfriend/wife he was talking to on the phone, and the reason I said “thanks” was because he was opening the door for me. It didn’t immediately register to me that he had said those words. I was already prepping my “thanks” as he said them. It was just one of those situations where the timing was so perfect that it made for a sitcom-like joke. I think I heard a laugh track and the Seinfeld bass music playing.

I don’t know if he caught it or not and I didn’t acknowledge it. But as I walked home I laughed to myself.

48

This year I spent my 48th birthday the same exact way I spent numbers 45, 46, and 47: at home, watching movies, writing, surfing the web, reading, and eating things I probably shouldn’t eat (several slices of pizza, almost an entire red velvet cake). The pizza was washed down with Diet Pepsi, because I’m watching my weight. Add a few gin & tonics and it wasn’t the healthiest birthday celebration but birthdays aren’t really supposed to be healthy.

Finally saw Captain America (yes, I’m currently two years behind in my movie watching). I remember it got several negative reviews when it was released and I have to scratch my head. It’s the best superhero movie I’ve ever seen (up there with the Iron Man movies), and I’ll take movies like this (you know, actually fun) over the ultra-serious Batman epics any day. Good story, good cast, a great balance between character and special effects, and it was funny. What more do you want in a movie? (Haven’t seen The Avengers yet.)

I also watched the season 2 finale of Sherlock. No, not the CBS show, the brilliant PBS one with Star Trek Into Darkness villain Benedict Cumberbatch (which sounds like the name of a lost Dickens novel). For those of you who have seen it, please tell me how they’ll explain things in the season 3 opener. I have a feeling it’s going to be like those old serials in the 40s, where what we think happened didn’t really happen, and they’ll show it from another angle or show something Sherlock did that will explain things, something that would have been impossible for him to do considering we watched the entire scene unfold. (Yes, I’m trying to be vague in case you haven’t seen it, though at this point I don’t know why I should bother with something from last year). Will this be a cheat? Probably, but with something this high quality I won’t really care. And if they explain it without cheating…well, that will make me love this show even more.

I know Molly will be involved, but that’s all I’ve figured out.

HOLY COW THE LETTER IS COMING! Yes! If you’ve subscribed to the new monthly snail mail offering, it’s coming in two weeks. If you haven’t subscribed to the new monthly snail mail offering, it’s not coming in two weeks. So you should subscribe!

Soda, Tonic, Pop, and Coke

Tonic.

When I was a kid, that’s what we called soft drinks in my neck of the woods (New England). This may seem like an oddity to people in other parts of the country, because it makes some think of hair tonic or something similar. But I think calling soft drinks “tonic” makes more sense than what they do in the South. Soft drinks there are all called “Coke,” which baffles me. I mean, what do you order if you actually want a Coke?

I remember going on a class trip to New York City in 6th grade (thanks to my sister Toni paying my way) and we were told specifically by our chaperones not to say “tonic” if we wanted a soft drink. We were told to say “pop.” Of course, when you tell wiseass 6th graders not to do something that pretty much guarantees they’ll do it. One of my classmates, Peter, asked a vendor at the Ringling Brothers show for a “tonic.” The guy actually corrected him, saying “you mean pop,” and I remember clearly Peter smiling an evil smile and saying “well, I want a tonic.”

This debate is part of a fascinating series of maps that show what various things are called in various parts of the U.S. Do you eat “subs” or “hoagies?” Is it “law-yer” or “loyer?” “Cole slaw” or just “slaw?” Is it “pe-can” or “pe-kahn?” Are there “rotaries” where you are or “roundabouts?” What do you put on your pancakes, “sear-up” or “sir-up?” And that’s only a small sample of the maps you’ll find (here’s even more). (I’m confused by one of the maps – we have always called drinking fountains “bubblers” here.)

Oddly, I never hear anyone around here say “tonic” anymore. Soda seems to have taken over as the generic term for soft drinks here.

It’s not peanut butter and jelly

It occurs to me that a lot of readers might not know what that “PBJ” button is in the menu at the top of the page. Sure, you could click on it and find out, but if you don’t your first guess might be that it has something to do with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Now, I have nothing against peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (one of the world’s most perfect meals), but it actually stands for Professor Barnhardt’s Journal.

PBJ is the magazine/blog I started in 2002. It’s a pop culture site where you’ll find interviews, essays, book excerpts, old ads and commercials, comics, fiction, links to this and that. I don’t update it every single day – it’s not that type of site, it’s now more of a companion section of this page – but I do update it regularly. Just this morning I put up a “Random Links” roundup of interesting things I’ve found on my web travels recently, with links to stories about the death of Jean Stapleton, an excerpt from Stephen King’s new novel, a piece about a teen who doesn’t know how to address or mail a snail mail letter, and a recipe for Lemon-Blueberry Pretzel Cheesecake Squares. And in other recent posts I’ve had color video from NYC in 1939, a mash-up of “Stayin’ Alive” and “The Wall” that’s very clever, and an original essay from the late Roger Ebert. In other words, a little something for everybody. There’s even a blog roll on the side where I list some of my favorite sites, and you can see when those sites have new posts too.

What I’m trying to say is, if you wanted to bookmark it and visit it regularly, I wouldn’t try to stop you.

(Oh, and if you are looking for a page of peanut butter and jelly recipes, there’s always this one.)