40: Jasmine the Christmas Flip

Andrew and I had just spent a lovely weekend knocking around town doing very little but eating a ton. It started Friday afternoon when Andrew stumbled, dehydrated and disoriented, into my office. His flight had been stuck on the tarmac at Midway Airport for two hours (after leaving Minneapolis late, natch). He called me twice from the plane, where his fellow passengers always seemed to be two minutes away from reenacting key scenes from “Mutiny on the Bounty”. Actually, I think it would be closer to the last episode of season 1 of “Oz” — tear gas, rubber bullets, police officers in riot gear.

We shopped, or rather, I shopped Saturday afternoon. Andrew and Rosco (in town visiting mutual friends) followed me around and reveled in the fresh air, being in Chicago, and being able to smoke in restaurants (Rosco only). I found great stuff for Gracie (2.5 years old) and Andrea (25 next month!) in the same store. And Andrea, if you’re reading this, you’ll just have to wait until you get back from Canada.

I added two new items to my Hello Kitty collection — beaded evening purse in the shape of HK’s head and a larger, baguette bag from the Hello Kitty “Japanesque” collection. Even if I can’t be fabulous, there’s no reason why my accessories can’t pull it off. More fabulous than the bags was stepping into Tiffany to actually buy something instead of what I usually do, which is stand outside the window and look inside at all the pretty diamonds. I made my purchase, and the saleswoman (who was one of many impeccably groomed women who work in the store) wrapped the box in with a beautiful silver ribbon. It was so beautiful I wanted to eat it. But I didn’t. I put it away and smoked a cigarette instead.

We ended the day at Maria & Jolanta’s with pizza and “The Santa Clause”. I didn’t have any expectations for this movie, which probably explains why I enjoyed it so much. Though it lacked the dwarves that any real Christmas movie would have (using small children for elves), Tim Allen proved more than capable of carrying this cinematic folly. Occasionally, Kaiser — a Shih Tzu? I don’t know what breed he was but he was really puffy — would hump Andrew’s leg. It was all sorts of holiday fun, capped when Maria brought out the Festivus pole us to admire. No grievances were aired, but I think the humping of Andrew’s leg counts as a feat of strength.

Andrew and I made the requisite trek to Quimby’s Sunday afternoon to inspect their comic book collection. As always, Andrew bought nothing but I made off with issue no. 19.5 of Robot Power and a 7″ of various indie rock bands (Go Sailor being one of them – yay!) covering Patty Duke Songs. The record is bubblegum pink and comes with a Patty Duke fanzine. It looks like rock n’ roll fun.

Kevin — I got you the latest issue of Robot Power. In fact, I recommend that you all get a Robot Power ($3 wherever Giant Robot magazine is sold — independent record and comic book stores, and on the gr web site at http://www.giantrobot.com/grstore/grstorebackissues.html). Not only will you find cool stories about Donnie Yen and Robot Frank in it, you will also find me me me! I’ll leave it to you to figure out what I’m talking about. I’m on page 40.

Bruce & Joan had a Christmas Eve party, so we went but not before I got to drop off Jacinda’s present at her sister’s. Jacinda seemed to like it (floaty pens, cd of Liz Phair rarities, covers, and live stuff that I burned a long time ago, and a Tiffany key chain because I never liked the vibrating hamster she used before) so off we went into the night. I had to stop at KMart for cash.

I will never do this again.

KMart, any Kmart really but this one especially, is a festering hole of shoddy workmanship brimming with screaming children, stinky old people, and a surly teenage workforce. I was so hoping that the magic of Christmas eve would make all these things disappear, filling the store with quiet, well-behaved boys and girls moving about in a mist of gardenia-scented potpourri. But my hopes were dashed as the woman in front of me couldn’t operate the ATM. Pierced teenagers stuck price tags on moderately-priced acrylic sportswear. Employees stood around gnawing on Twizzlers, ignoring customers, many of whom only had to buy one item (a bag of paper cups here, some toilet bowl cleaner here) but had to stand on line for 30 minutes in order to pay for the item. Why torture yourself when Jewel is right next door?

When we made it to B & J’s, Gracie was running around in a green velvet pantsuit looking, for all that’s good in this world, like “Gracie the Christmas pimp”. Alex, their 12 year old dog, comes *bounding* towards me. Now, this is a dog that was on death’s door a few months ago. He’s on some sort of geriatric medication now, so he’s got all sort of energy. The evening was okay — the room temperature water flowed freely as I gorged myself on turkey. Suzanne, a friend of Bruce & Joan’s whose company I enjoyed last year, was in more subdued spirits as she had just sprained her ankle. Also, she wasn’t as drunk this year as she was last year, so maybe that’s why she didn’t seem all that interesting this year. The little kids spent their time engaged in one of the following activities:

1. fighting over a small pair of sunglasses.

2. drinking mass quantities of apple juice from sippy cups.

3. eating M & M’s.

There was a brief scare when Gracie couldn’t be found. This was probably the scariest five minutes of my life. Images of Gracie wandering the streets in her green velvet costume filled my head as I searched the vestibule for her. We found Gracie hiding under her parents bed. Hiding is something all children do, but I guess I always hoped that Gracie’s play would be a bit more sophisticated for her age. Instead of hiding under the bead, she’d engage us in witty parlor games and charades. But I guess I’ll have to wait until next year.

After coming home and sitting on the couch for an hour, debating whether or not I should go to Midnight Mass, I fell asleep. I called my parents when I woke up and got my parents’ voicemail. I left a quick message (“Where the hell are you guys? At Tita Ched’s? Good luck!”) and got dressed for Barnum & Bagel.

It seems that Joe and his friend Charity have gone to Barnum & Bagel in Skokie on Christmas Day every day for the last four years. This year, Barnum & Bagel was closed, which was a shame, as I’ve never eaten lox, kasha, and whitefish in a circus-themed restaurant. But everything was cool once we drove up to The Bagel (let’s hear it for Old Orchard Mall!). It was wonderful. My Christmas meal consisted of pastrami and plenty of Dr. Brown’s Orange Soda. So what if I didn’t eat a single fruit or vegetable? I’m not afraid of scurvy. Charity was kind enough to regale us with dirt on Joel Alfassa, Streetwise’s resident food critic and loopy Vietnam veteran. I can’t think of a more appropriate topic for Christmas day.

We followed lunch with a visit to a Judaic bookstore on Devon Avenue, and I managed to resist buying a plush Torah doll. I don’t know about you, but none of the Torahs I’ve ever seen had eyeballs, so the doll was a bit creepy to say the least.

We saw “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” last night and this movie did not disappoint. If you were impressed by the fighting in “Charlie’s Angels”, then the fight sequences in “CT,HD” will reduce to a breathless heap of yammering humanity. This movie was beautiful in so many different ways — the epic love story, the cinematography, the choreography, the flying. Chow Yun Fat reaffirmed my suspicion that he is the coolest person alive. Maybe I’m going a bit overboard, but this and “Chicken Run” were the two best movies I’ve seen this year. So you should go see it. And if you do, let me know if you hear any ignorant rice king remarks from your fellow audience members like I did!

My Christmas ended on a bit of a low, though. I spoke to my brother and sister right before I went to bed. The family spent the day at my great-aunt and great-uncle’s house. Ched and Gerhard usually spend the day making bitter remarks about how unmotivated my siblings are. This year was especially horrible as they went after my mother, my father, and my uncle Jimmy this year. The last time I spent Christmas day at their house I ate my dinner in the kitchen with my mother and siblings while my grandparents ate with my great-aunt and great-uncle in the dining room. My dad kind of went back and forth between the two rooms. It’s been like this for years. It’s not exactly fodder for Jerry Springer — maybe Donnie & Marie if they trafficked in stories of dysfunctional Filipino immigrants.

Merry Christmas. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Chanukah. Merry Festivus. Andrew and I are eating at Le Bouchon tonight — I’ll try to save you some snails.




The Helio Sequence – Tomorrow Never Knows Outkast – Stankonia (love this album) soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”


http://www.75ark.com/deltron3030/virus.swf (Shockwave) – promotional cartoon thingie for the new album from Deltron 3030 (Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala)




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