if i married thomas keller, i'd be helen keller. i wonder if i would spontaneously go blind and deaf.

actually, you know, i don't care, so long as i'd still have my sense of taste.



it's possible that i have a completely unacceptable full-blown celebrity crush on rupert grint.

(hint: he's the adorably tousled redhead.)

new jersey

right off the bat i would like to say that my boyfriend lives in New Jersey, and he is fiercely proud of his state. when he learned that my mom was born in Paterson, he got really excited that i am "half Jersey," whatever that means. i think my boyfriend is pretty rad, and he has good taste in things like sofas and sportcoats.

i am only putting these facts out there so that there can be some mitigation of the (admittedly judgmental) comment i am about to make, but i have to say it because if the internet is not a place for cruel stereotyping, i don't know what is.

a dog named Elwood was recently named The World's Ugliest Dog. Elwood is owned by a woman from new jersey, and she had this to say about him:

"I think he's the cutest thing that ever lived."

this dog is so ugly that i can't even bring myself to post his picture on here. click here to see him, but be warned. he looks like an Orc. a lady pointed out that if he were born during the middle ages, he would be tried as a witch.

this is the point: i think it is telling that a woman who is unable to tell the difference between The World's Ugliest Dog and "the cutest thing that's ever lived" is from New Jersey.

that is all.


noodles for fun and profit

i had dinner last night at Morandi, which is one of those horrible scene-y restaurants that is full of skinny people who have arrived in town cars, and whose handbags can be referred to by name, like "can you hand me my Mombasa?" except none of them actually carry Mombasas, because that is so five seasons ago.

i had squid-ink risotto (and let me warn you, so you are not faced with the same the-next-morning-in-the-bathroom horror that certain people might or might not have been, that if ink comes in, ink goes out) and my dining companion had what was likely, pound for pound, the world's most expensive plate of food.

perhaps i am imprecise: it was the world's most profitable plate of food: an $18 plate of spaghetti that had been tossed in butter, parmesan, and lemon zest.

I am going to break this down: even assuming the finest of ingredients, there is no way that this dish cost the restaurant more than a dollar to produce.

  • the portion was ittybitty. let us say 50 distinct strings of spaghetti. according to the evil geniuses at cockeyed, there are 448 pieces of spaghetti in one box of dried pasta. so 50 strings of spaghetti, dried, comprises one ninth of a pound, or one-point-seven-repeating ounces of noodle.

  • 1.77777 ounces of spaghetti is, essentially, 1 ounce of flour and 0.77777 ounces of egg. Let us give the good folks at Morandi the benefit of the doubt and assume they are using very nice flour and eggs. European-style artisinal flour is $4.25 for 3lbs, which is approximtely nine cents per ounce.

  • one large egg, generally speaking, contains 2 ounces of eggstuff. A dozen organic eggs costs $3.99, or thirty-three cents per egg. at two ounces per egg, 0.7777 ounces of eggstuff is, rounding up, thirteen cents.

  • yeah, okay, water. New York City bills homeowners $0.24 per gallon of tap water used (it's so expensive because we advertise its awesomeness). we don't have to add water to the pasta, because we are giving assuming the Morandi people are not horrible cheating bastards and do in fact use 100% egg in the making of their spaghetti. but there is probably some water absorbed during the cooking process, which i will arbitrarily assume is two ounces. actually it's not arbitrary: i chose two ounces because one ounce of water, at 28 ounces to the gallon, costs less than once cent and i don't want to deal with it. 2 ounces, on the other hand, costs one-point-five cents.

  • it's possible that things will get expensive here in the lemon-and-cheese zone. lemons are $0.69 at whole foods (you'll have to take my word for it), and from personal experience i can tell you that one of their lemons yields about 3 teaspoons of zest. this portion of spaghetti had about half a teaspoon, which is one sixth of a lemon, which is approximately the size of the lemon wedge that was served as a complimentary garnish on my dessert (lemon sorbet blended with vodka! holy crap!), so i am going to say that one-sixth of a lemon's worth of zest costs Morandi zero cents.

  • the most expensive parmigiano-reggiano the internet could find for me was this organic stuff for $14.99 per 8 ounces (or $29.98 per pound for all you who want me to do your math for you). One ounce of parm run over a microplane produces about 1/2 cup of finely shredded, and there was - generously - 1/8 cup of cheese on this pasta, with no offer from our server to add more. that's forty-seven cents of cheese.

  • UPDATE: horror of horrors, an anonymous commenter pointed out that i forgot the butter. a pound of uberfancy Plugra butter (which, admittedly, is made in a French style, while Morandi is an Italian restaurant, but goddamnit it's expensive) is $7.99 if you don't know the secret to buying it cheap.* A pound of butter clocks in at almost exactly fifty cents per tablespoon, which converts to seventeen cents for the teaspoon that coated these noodles.

  • and heck, while we're at it, let's throw in four cents for the pinch of sea salt that was probably added at some point in the dinner.

9 + 13 + 1.5 + 0 + 47 + 17 + 4 = 91.5

. and they're charging $18 for this baby. that's an almost 2000% markup. compare that to the thousand-dollar martini at the Capital Grille in Boston: you get a diamond ring for your efforts.

on the upside, we did breathe the same air as such luminaries as rachel hunter (total hottie), sally hershberger (looks like joan jett! maybe it was joan jett! omg!) and the dude who played the neurologist in Garden State. For a sighting of whom, i suppose, i would totally pay eighteen bucks.

*i'm not going to tell you, thus ensuring shortbread dominance for eternity.


two facts about food

1. The chemical that gives brie cheese its characteristic sourness is butyric acid, aka the dominant taste/smell of human vomit.

2. Capsaicin (the acid that is the "heat" in chili peppers) utilizes the same pain pathways in humans as does the major component of tarantula venom.

have a lovely day!


happy service anniversary!

my credit card company called me today to wish me a happy service anniversary. isn't that lovely of them? i've apparently been allowing them to be owed debt from me for exactly eight years now. awww. balloons for everyone.

as an anniversary gift, they've given me a thousand Rewards Points, which are not things i realized i had been accumulating for the past eight years. let me tell you: when you live in New York on an entry-level book publishing salary, you use your credit card a lot. you accumulate a lot of rewards points. if i had as many dollars as i had reward points, i would increase my net worth by something on the order of 1000%.

with my reward points i can get a number of things. a gift card to applebee's. a stand-up electronic can opener. a lotion/body wash set. you can see i'm drowning in riches here.

here is where things get beautiful: if i get 100 more rewards points, i move up to the next prize category. so to find out if it was worth it to shell out another hundred bucks on the card, i clicked over to see what was in the next group.

there is one thing. do you know what it is? this thing that, if i have put a total of twelve thousand five hundred dollars on my credit card, i can be entitled to?

it is a book.
that my company publishes.
that i helped work on.

sometimes the horrible inevitability of life hurts me, a little.


this may be found humorous

i am so glad i was born when i was, because i'm not sure how people dealt with boredom before the internet was invented.

okay, right off the bat i realize that this is the beginning of a sort of painful, dave-barry-style rant, where i will inevitably make a joke about how people couldn't turn to youtube, wikipedia, or mario/wario slash fiction, so they offset boredom by saying "hey let's get married!" and then the next set of boredom was met with "hey let's have a baby!" and then there's nothing left to do with their lives and that is why people used to die of old age when they were thirty-four.

but thank god for wikipedia, because instead of going down the above path (though it could lead to a lucrative career as a local-newspaper columnist, which is tempting in an oh-god-please-no way), i can just give you this incredibly wonderful wikipediasm*:

A triple is a joke consisting of three statements (also known as comedy threes). The first two statements are similar, usually "straight lines", and establish a pattern which the third statement does not follow.

For example:

John was a quiet gentleman who liked to:

1. work in the garden
2. read literary works
3. devour kittens

Obviously, the third violent activity does not follow the first two benign ones. This may be found humorous.
this is amazing, non? but more important: did you see the part where i used a triple in the part preceding the wikipedia quote? that's called writerly skill, people. that shit can't be taught.

*wikipediasm, noun: a piece of wikipedia so incredibly wonderful that your brain and/or heart has a little nonsexual orgasm of delight that there is someone in the world who took a little time out of his day to anonymously add it to the internet.


further adventures in other helens

almost exactly a year ago, i met helen thomas at a book-signing event at the princeton club, and promptly flipped out because her name is helen and my name is helen and holy crap that is way more than i can bear, and really it's a good thing that i'm not named jessica or emily because i'd just be in a constant state of existential crisis, and whenever someone complimented me i'd be incredibly worried that it was actually a different melissa's skirt that they liked, and there would be a lot of self-doubt going on.

anyway this post is just to say that we were in the same room again this weekend, but i weathered it with significantly more grace. slow and steady personal growth, that's my motto. also holy goodness she is old.


amazing awesome incredible rsgo news

faithful rsgo reader (and oh-so-talented illustrator) marc, of the brilliantly-named Unshaven Comics, has decided that i am his muse.

or, more accurately, my inability to do anything without turning it into a major episode of navel-gazing is his muse.

to that end, he's informed me that he's making a comic strip based on rsgo. i'm sure it doesn't take much effort to imagine the heights (or would that be depths?) of egotism that this elevates (sinks) me to. marc has already provided us with the uber-gorge image of helen's-hair-and-glasses that you see at the top of this page, and now you'll be able to see all my foibles, flaws, and (i can't think of an f-word for being horribly judgmental about what people are wearing) committed to image. don't think of them as comic strips. think of them as graphic novellas.

i've been assured that i will be joined in the strip by a cadre of wisecracking anthropomorphic sidekicks (swoon), including a cellphone that channels the spirit of karl lagerfeld, and a smartass grapefruit-curd tart with an anger-management problem.

lest you do not believe that this is actually going to happen, feast your eyes on this sneak preview of The Tart, who as yet does not have a name. feel free to suggest potential names in the form of hilarious puns on the words "grapefruit," "curd," and/or "i jealous-hate you SO much for having a comic strip being made about your blog" down there in the comments.

update: no, dearest. The Tart is not holding a jewish flag. The Tart is holding the flag of The Equation To Determine The Circumference Or Something Of An Ellipsis.


oh, you r paying attention!

a few weeks ago, i directed some restrained outrage at Reebok (or are they officially RBK now? if the atrocious string of letters "bklyn" has taught us anything, it is that something is infinitely hipper sans vowels, non?) for a poorly copyedited subway ad:

for reasons i honestly cannot wrap my brain around, not everyone bought it. no less than the copyranter himself commented that it was possibly intentional? maybe a sly piece of self-reference? let's cut RBK some slack?

pshaw, mister copyranter. check out what i saw on the subway this morning:

i can't help but assume that the impetus for this change was my watchful eye. it's like i'm a superhero. a copyediting superhero. the subway copyediting superhero -- GrammarGirl! fighting for truth, justice, and the integrity of CMS(15) sentence structure! and the OED!

Dead Tinsley Mortimer is, in the immortal words of Hilary Duff, so yesterday. i know what i'm going to be for halloween. heck, i know what i'm going to be for the rest of my life.


planning ahead

me: i'm going to be Dead Tinsley Mortimer for halloween
Leila: with a wig?
me: yes
Leila: awesome
me: i will have to get a nosejob
me: and stop eating
me: but, whatever, i'm Method