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Stay classy, Providence!

big blue bug
Nibbles WoodawayMeet, Nibbles Woodaway, the Big Blue Bug, star of stage, screen, tattoo art and morning traffic reports. Built in Providence in 1980 (meaning your humble Weasel predates him in this city by two years), he’s the tasteful chickenwire-and-fiberglass mascot of New England Pest Control.

I suspect his fame derives from the fact that traffic on Interstate 95 bogs down near him at rush hour (much like the Dorchester gas tanks in Boston), so mentions of “the big blue bug” happen every ten minutes on news radio. He has since been featured in such outstanding theatrical productions as Dumb and Dumber and Oprah.

So when my real estate lady told me to call “RI Pest Control,” naturally the giant helpless advertising-drenched lobes of my brain substituted “New England Pest Control” and I did that thing. I don’t suppose it makes much difference; it was just a precaution anyway. And nope…no termites. I do have a bit of woodboring dung beetles or some damn thing — I forget — but it’s no big, apparently.

Also on today’s list: garage doors and the ragpicker. New garage doors aren’t nearly as expensive as I thought (no, I didn’t pick the cheapest and sleaziest, I picked the next one up from the cheapest and sleaziest. A class act, me). Installed a week from Monday.

And finally, the ragpicker. He and his good lady ragpicker have just had the fifty-cent tour…and, as they didn’t run away screaming, I guess they’re hired. When I said I was a packrat, they looked at each other and burst out laughing. I don’t think they were laughing at my nouveau-Brit understatement. I think it means the Weasel Collection is soon to become a small part of the Ragpicker Collection. Suits me fine.

And that’s more boring, home-ownery, grownuppy stuff than I’ve done in the last six years, all packed into one zany, madcap adventure. It’s now an hour and sixteen minutes past drinking time and I’ve been a Very Good Weasel, so — bottoms up! And then let’s have a drink!


Comment from jwpaine
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:57 am

I’ve been in Providence exactly once, for a horror writer’s convention; I seem to recall we had some sort of ceremony at Lovecraft’s grave, with media coverage and everything. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (Quinn, to her friends) was reading some embarrassingly affected tribute and I chimed in “Yo, Dude!”, earning myself a nasty look from the mighty Quinn.

The only other thing I did there of significance was to convince a bunch of people to sniff the air and look at the bottom of their shoes any time Harlan Ellison came into the room.

Oh, almost forgot: I also met Gahan Wilson, which was the real highlight of the trip, for me, anyway.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 14, 2007, 4:00 am

I’m surprised you got permission, JW. They’re real uptight about Lovecraft’s grave. I was told there are surveillance cameras trained on it 24/7 and photography is forbidden. Which pissed me off, so I took a picture, thusly:

Took me an hour of tramping around (lovely) Swan Point Cemetery before I spotted it, though. It’s a dreary little thing put up by his fans in 1977. He isn’t actually under it, which was a surprise to the anonymous miscreants who tried to dig him up in 1997.

Gahan Wilson! You don’t see him much after National Lampoon folded (or started to suck…is somebody still keeping it going?). But I knew he was still around, because he does the cover to “Passport to World Band Radio” every year. He’s a real shortwave nut.

Do you write horror?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 14, 2007, 5:56 am

National Lampoon. God, I loved that mag back in the 70’s. I’ll never forget the b&w photo of the floating VW, with the caption:

“If Ted Kennedy had had a Volkswagen at Chappaquiddick, he’d be President today!”

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 14, 2007, 9:17 am

Heh. 25 Photographs Taken at the Exact Right Time. Scroll down for the animal stuff, which is my favorite. Found at Geezer’s place.

Comment from Gnus
Time: November 14, 2007, 10:44 am

Speaking of bugs…

I’m gonorrheally smack you upside the head if you put your chlammy hands on me…

Proof that somewhere someone is getting busy. Ain’t it great to be an American? 🙂

Comment from jwpaine
Time: November 14, 2007, 11:31 am

“O, it’s in I hum,
And out I hum,
And in and out I’m humming.
Tum-tiddly-bum, tiddly bum-bum-bum,
Sweet Christopher Robin, I’m coming!”
–From the Gratuitous sex scenes NatLamp added to various works, way back when it was funny.

The cretinous Tim Matheson owned NatLamp for a while, in the 80s, I think.

And yeah, Weaz, I’ve written some horror. Not lately, though. I’m, uh, doing research (pronounced “eating regularly”).

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:34 pm

Speaking of horror writers, Ira Levin is dead (Rosemary’s Baby, The Boys From Brazil, The Stepford Wives). I put a box at the curb yesterday with a hardback copy of Rosemary’s Baby perched on top.

That’s right. I’m going to start sifting my garbage for omens, like entrails.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:40 pm

Muslihoon – I noticed you haven’t posted on this site for a while, but it’s worth a shot anyway: do you have a good recipe and method of cooking for naan? I’ve tried twice with a dough recipe I’ve found on the intertubes, but the first time I think I rolled it too thin and put too much fat in the frying pan, and it cam out as sort of a naan-pancake cross. The second time I decided to cook it in a hot oven for 10 minutes, and it turned out like a small, toppingless pizza.
I’ve got it into my head that you’re Indian or of Indian heritage. Or Indian Subcontient-Middle Eastern or of Indian Subcontinent-Middle Eastern ancestry. you know, where naans originate from. If you’re not, just ignore me.
You may want to ignore me anyway, which itself it a sensible thing to do. But if you do happen to see this, and you do send a recipe, I’d be very grateful.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:40 pm

Yes, finding entrails in one’s garbage would be considered an omen in many neighborhoods.

To bad about Levin; he’s one of my favorites. I thought This Perfect Day was superior to his more popular works.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:44 pm

That is, of course, “too.”

Thought I hit the preview button, and hit Post instead.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:47 pm

Yeah, I went on an Ira Levin bent about half a year ago or so when I was going through my last ‘I’ve run out of authors who I like’ phase.
He was very good; nice psychological horror. I liked Boys From Brazil best though. Nazi hunting – what’s not to love?
To be honest I assumed he was already dead.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:50 pm

Gibby, you could give Musli a shout-out on his blog.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: November 14, 2007, 2:54 pm

Yeah, but I like to make things as difficult for myself as possible…thanks for the link though.
Muslihoon’s a guy? Huh.

Comment from geoff
Time: November 14, 2007, 3:16 pm

Sad to see you prepare to go – I really wish I’d made it to Aceapalooza. Good luck with all your adult obligations.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 14, 2007, 5:01 pm

Shucks, geoff…I’m trying to sell a dilapidated house in a bad neighborhood in a dreadful housing market. Take your shoes off; set a spell. I’ll be here a while.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: November 16, 2007, 12:31 pm

The usual recipe for naan: get into an automobile. Drive x amount of miles. Arrive at desi (that is, South Asian) restaurant. Order piles of steaming naan. Take bag and go home.

Sorry for being flippant! None of us actually make naan at home anymore. (Part of the reason is that to make good, real naan, a special type of beehive-shaped oven-like thingy, called a tandoor, is needed. This is why even in South Asia, no one makes them at home: they are bought from places that specialize in making such foods.) We either buy them from restaurants or (this will make purists faint) buy them frozen and commercially packaged. Some mainstream grocery stores even carry good, commercially-made naan.

That said, I’ll ask Mom if she remembers how to make it. Back when we lived in the ‘burbs and when desi restaurants and stores were small and few and far between, moms used to make everything themselves. The drawback with the wide availability of almost anything from South Asia prepared the South Asian way is that people are forgetting how to make things themselves. For example, my mother was a whiz at making paratha (a fried sort of bread) the way her mother used to make it, which was complicated, time-consuming, but oh so delicious. She had no choice: if she couldn’t make it, there would be no paratha to eat. (It’s eaten mostly at breakfast with an omlette.) Now, we buy packets of them frozen, and when we want to eat it, we simply warm them on a pan on the stove. Mom has almost forgotten how to make paratha by herself.

Another example: every dish has its own masala (blend of spices). Back in the day, women had to make the masala themselves, grinding ingredients and mixing them. Now they buy pre-mixed it boxes.

The idea is: why make it yourself, going through all that hassle, when it can be bought pre-made and all one has to do is thaw and warm it? Then again, naan and paratha and whatnot are delicacies or rare treats for non-South Asians while they are staples for us.

To be honest, I admire non-South Asians who try to make such things themselves.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: November 16, 2007, 2:24 pm

Thanks for the reply.
I heard the answer to the ‘how do I make papad’ is ‘find your favourite Indian takeaway menu and order some’ or ‘buy those store bought ones, heat up some oil and fry up a batch’ since they’re a royal pain in the ass to make, but I was under the impression that naan was several orders of magnitude easier.
I was aware of the tandoor, but I thought I could sufficiently emulate one with a dryish, hot frying pan with only enough fat to stop the naan from catching.
I’m not looking for as-good-as-my-local-takeaway quality, more this-doesn’t-taste-like-poo quality. I’ve got balti, biryani and pulue(sp?) down to the realm of edibility-pleasantness. And a hot curry that’ll make you hurt and sweat. Just need the bready part to round it off.
Anyway, Britain’s Indian population is pretty large, so I guess if this current recipe doesn’t get any better, I can have a look in some takeaway suppliers/wholesalers.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 16, 2007, 2:35 pm

Well! In one comment, I now have some insight into “tandoori” (which appears in the name of nearly every Indian restaurant in the UK) and “tikka masala” — Britain’s national dish.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: November 17, 2007, 1:39 pm

Thanks for the response, Gibby Haynes!

Give me a few days to get a recipe. I need to make it look casual and whatnot when I ask Mom. Saying, “Oh, so I can post it online for complete strangers to make it” would yield the question, “And where are you meeting these complete strangers?”

Mom would not understand. (Isn’t that the lament of all ages?)

I believe the word you meant was pulao. Yum.

Do y’all eat goat-meat in Inglistan (“England” in Urdu; random note: “English”, referring to the people, is “Angrez”, the language is “Angrezi” (of or pertaining to the Angrez); Inglistani is also used and has a less pejorative connotation than “Angrez” (also used is “Angrezi” for men and “Angrezan” for women); South Asians in South Asia still have some issues with the British Raj, which I personally think was more of a boon than a curse; “white” people in general are known as “gora” (male) or “gori” (female) or “goreh” (plural): what is funny is that in South Asia, a lighter complexion is almost universally considered good, better, and superior; indeed, a Hindu tale says that the goddess Parvati got upset when her husband, the god Shiva, called her “kali” (black; which incidentally is one of Parvati’s many names and identities: Kali of great renown in the West): she packed up and left home to live with her parents.)? (In Urdu, we call cow-meat and goat-meat by the same name, gosht. I, and my family, like goat-meat the best. Chicken is made the least at home: most often beef and goat-meat.)

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: November 17, 2007, 1:42 pm

If anyone could wade through my drivel and make sense, you must be gifted by God.

I need to take writing classes. My writing is almost as bad as seventeenth-century English pundits.

Pundit. The recipe of Coronation Chicken. Tandoori. Masala. We South Asians are slowly taking over the world! Mwahahahahaha!

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 17, 2007, 1:56 pm

“…taking over the world!” -Muslihoon-

So long as you don’t “do” Shari Law and behead/circumcise folks, help yourself to the whole damned thing. Be my guest.

Just don’t change the food! Yum! You could institute a “Preserve Traditional Foods & Preparation Techniques” and I wouldn’t mind a bit.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 17, 2007, 1:57 pm

…and you don’t need writing classes. Not one bit.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: November 17, 2007, 2:10 pm

The stereotype we South Asian-ish people have is that Western people hate spicy food, that they only like bland food. This conclusion comes from two supposed facts:
1. Anglo-Saxon-European food is bland, and
2. Indian restaurants catering to a Western crowd make their dishes smaller and much less spicy.

This is why my father, for example, will only eat at Pakistani restaurants because most Pakistani restaurants (esp. in the US) cater to Pakistanis and not “foreigners” (oh, the irony: “whites” as foreigners in their own land!).

Of course, one issue is ignored: some South Asian peoples (like south Indians) generally eat not-so-spicy food. But then we South Asians from the northern half rarely like such South Asian food. (My parents, for example, will not eat at a South Indian restaurant either.)

But the discussion on chili (sp?) over at IB proves our assumptions wrong: sometimes the spicier a dish, the better.

And the popularity among Westerners, proved over and over again by personal experience, of spicy dishes, even if they can’t handle it (they sweat, become red, their nose runs), shows that even Westerners like spicy stuff. My mother is always amazed when my father’s Western friends want and ask for the spicy dishes instead of the modified less-spicy dishes she may prepare for them.

I am extremely biased, though. I suppose growing up on a South Asian cuisine (technically, northern South Asian) makes me like it best.

(Some of the best South Asian food I have eaten outside of home was at taxi driver restaurants. Greasy, messy and decrepit environment, probably lots of health violations, not a place families (especially women) would feel comfortable; but oh so good. Being there–the people, the atmosphere, the smells, the furniture–reminds one of Pakistan. Oh, and in such places and in similar cheap restaurants in Pakistan, they have separate “family seating” areas where women may sit: no respectable women would sit, even with her husband, amongst the male rabble.)

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 17, 2007, 2:36 pm

The American version of Mexican food is very blandified, as a rule. I’ll never forget a little restaurant in rural Mexico when I was seven; there was an innocent bowl of raw vegetables in (I thought) vinegar on the table as an appetizer. I popped a cubed carrot in my mouth and damn near died.

On the other hand, I watched my mother (a native Texan) get into a hot-pepper-eating contest with someone, once. By the end, they were drinking the juice from the jars with tears running down their faces.

And then there’s the Chinese. I’ve learned if a Chinese sauce is labeled ‘hot’, believe it.

Goat for meat is not at all common in the US (or Britain –except, presumably, among immigrants from goat-eating places). In the US, though, it’s not all that rare to keep goats for milk and cheese. And I can remember a time in the ’70s when meat was expensive and we ate a lot of game my brother killed, one of which was a wild goat. Not a wild goat, but there was a herd of domestic white goats in our area that had escaped and gone feral.

Game. Bleh.

Comment from Muslihoon
Time: November 17, 2007, 2:51 pm

Goat-meat, like lamb, is an acquired taste, I think. Most Westerners don’t like it.

Comment from Dawn
Time: November 17, 2007, 2:58 pm

I’ll eat anything farm raised. Yum!

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: November 17, 2007, 4:55 pm

I think Chinese “hot” and Tai “hot” are a toss-up. Its like asking which is worse; being nuked by a 20 mega-ton device or a 25 mega-ton device. What’s the diff?

Anything that burns during both arrival and departure is hot, in my book.

Comment from Gibby Haynes
Time: November 19, 2007, 12:10 pm

Na, never tried goat meat. That’s just down to circumstance though, and if it weren’t for that fact that I don’t eat meat these days, I’d definitely try it. I reckon I’d’ve liked it a lot though, since I used to be very fond of Arkhan Gosht and Afghani Lamb from the Indian Takeaway. Lamb and goat can’t be too far apart.
There was a TV program on last night about Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman called Long Way Down about them riding from John o’Groates to Capetown on motorcycle, and they were going through (I think it was) northern Kenya and their ‘police’ guides (dressed in fatigues and sporting AKs) sliced this goat’s – which they’d been travelling with in their pickup – throat, butchered it and grilled it on a spit. Looked pretty good.
I think my reason for liking chili is that it’s a powerful irritant, and so by eating it it causes pain which inevitably causes natural bodily opoids to flood into your blood stream and give you a cheap, organic, perfectly dosed high.

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