Monday, February 26, 2007

Goodbyes and Hellos

Hubby has once again rejoined the world of the Nairobi Damned. He returned from his Indonesian sojourn just in time to escort (read: drive) Gordon Keith and I to Carnivore for a lovely dinner of meat, meat, and then just for good measure, some more meat. Despite previous commentaries here that the food at Carnivore is rather sub par, dinner on Saturday evening was surprisingly tasty. The crocodile didn’t even taste fishy for a change. Bonus! Then, of course, came the next morning when we all realized why no one should eat that much meat in one sitting and we were all feeling somewhat uncomfortable despite the number of Pepto tablets we inhaled with blind hope.

My hope is that GK leaves Kenya with memories to sustain him – good ones that will make him smile wryly and great ones that will make him laugh out loud even years from now. And with any luck, he’ll manage to relegate Sunday morning’s post-meat stomach memories to at least one of those two memory lanes.

I realize that my waking him with terrified screams at three in the morning is probably not on GK’s highlight list, but his willingness to attempt to come to my rescue was, in my opinion, very chivalrous. Taking my four-wheel drive for her first off-roading experience, learning that the National Park is a wee bit of a rip off, using well earned bargaining skills at the Masai Market, and seeing baboons in the wild were just a few of the ways we passed the time waiting for Hubby’s return. Of course, not everything we did was strictly local: we also watched “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Justice League Unlimited” while we drank whatever beverages we could find on hand – you know: beer, cider, whiskey…

It was with more than a little sadness (on both sides I hope) that Hubby and I dropped Gordon Keith off at the airport and bid him adieu. I sincerely hope that GK enjoyed his stay here. As we left him to board his flight, we returned home to prepare for the next wave of guests. I can only hope that they have as good a time here as GK – only with less middle of the night terror-filled screams perhaps.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Typ0 of Babylon

I realize that I haven’t blogged in a few days, so I thought it was a good time to catch you up on what’s been going on in my ever-thrilling life. The biggest reason for my silence is that we are currently hosting our very first guest! Nope, it’s not Queen E (who arrives next week) but Gordon Keith (in town interviewing for a job with Hubby’s Organization) who has been blessed with the honor of being the first to test out our Kenyan hosting skills. Cool, huh?

Those Devoted Readers with a good memory (or at least those of you who can scroll down a post or two) will probably recall that Hubby is out of town in Indonesia at the moment. (Truth in Blogging: As I post this, he’s actually in Thailand for a day. My bad.) Either way, that means that Chez Typ0 currently has two occupants: yours truly and her male friend who is not related to her: Gordon Keith.

I can see some of you sniggering already… don’t worry; it gets more farcical from here.

Despite the fact that GK is staying in the Guest Room, his things are strewn about in there, and the fact that his bed had clearly been slept in (as was mine upstairs, thank you) my housekeeper took me aside shortly after meeting GK to ask me about my guest. “Is this man your relative?” she asked tentatively. Uhoh. I should have seen this coming. “No, Mr. Gordon Keith isn’t my relative, he’s Mr. Hubby’s friend from school.” She continued to look dubious. “And I think of him as a brother.” She looked at me skeptically, “A little brother?” She then surreptitiously peered around the corner to see if GK was as good looking as she remembered. “Ok, Madam,” was her response as she turned to face the stack of dishes in the sink. Is it just me or did that “Ok Madam” speak volumes?

Chapter Two: Hubby arranged (from overseas) for GK and I to go out on the town with a colleague of his on Thursday night. It should be noted for the record that Corny is a not exactly an ogre in the looks department and that he would be driving around for the evening and, therefore, picking us up.

At seven o’clock the security phone rang. “Hello?” There was sniggering on the line. “Hello madam. Do you know a man named,” he paused for a rather odd and dramatic moment, “Andrew?” “Yes, I do. Please send him up.” “Ahh yes, Madam. I will send the gentleman to you directly.”

Great it wasn’t enough that my housekeeper thinks I’m a ho entertaining men while my husband is out of town that now the gate guards have to get in on the act?! I’m pretty sure that I am now officially considered the Whore of Babylon amongst the building staff for entertaining strange men in my apartment while my poor, unsuspecting husband is out of town. I’m also pretty sure that I’m not going to deny that GK and Corny are strange (‘Cause they are!) but really… Can’t a girl have friends of the opposite gender without everyone and their staff thinking she’s going to jump their very good looking bones?!

I’ll leave you with that thought as I now have to go and finish sewing scarlet A’s onto all of my outfits, smuggle a few more men into my den of iniquity, or at the very least, find a lower cut blouse to wear when I beat my neighbor’s son up for playing his music so freaking loudly that I can feel the walls vibrate from the bass. You know how it is: no rest for we wicked ho’s of the world…

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Am

I am currently reading “Timbit Nation” by John Stackhouse and love the tale of one Canadian’s trip across the second largest nation in the world. This book has me thinking about what it means to be a displaced Canadian in the world. i have

When I first meet them, most people assume I’m American. This, I realize, is due in part to the (lack of) accent, the Yankee Hubby, and, not to be underestimated, the rather depressing thought that most people don’t understand that the big pink mass on the map above the US is actually a different and independent nation from the megalomaniacs to their south.

Canadians have a lot of internal problems: they don’t like people from Ontario (aka Upper Canadians), especially those of us from Toronto (Snooty Upper Canadians, thank you), the Quebec issue is always a fun discussion as long as there are no weapons or any bilingual literature in the house. The myriad of problems are too numerous to go into here but there is one thing that unites us from St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between: We Are Not American!

That image of “separate but better” is hard to explain to outsiders once we travel abroad; where we immediately begin to describe ourselves as “Canadian” rather than as our ancestry: Irish, Indian, Italian -- whatever it is that makes us special in the mosaic that is Canada. Our instinctual need to apologize to the world stands before us, in with every uplifted sentence we utter, but we stand proud knowing that our great country is one that people love just about everywhere we wander outside of its unprotected borders.

This new-found pride in being Canadian (outside of our borders, that is) becomes especially difficult when you realize the number of non-Canadians who have our lovely red and white flag pinned to their knapsacks: our good name, you see, is being eroded by poseurs. People no longer take at face value your Canadian-ness and will subtly test you until you’ve proven yourself with a “please” or “aboot,” or, better yet, your ability to quote random facts known only to Canadians thanks to Heritage ads on TV. (Burnt toast. Doctor, I smell burnt toast!)

As a Canadian who hasn’t lived within those comfortable borders in almost nine years it is becoming even more difficult to mark me as a Canuck when I walk down the street. But in my heart, where it really counts, I know this:

Hey, I'm not a lumberjack, or a fur trader....
I don't live in an igloo or eat blubber, or own a dogsled....
and I don't know Jimmy, Sally or Suzy from Canada,
although I'm certain they're really really nice.

I have a Prime Minister, not a president.
I speak English and French, not American.
And I pronounce it 'about', not 'a boot'.

I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack.
I believe in peace keeping, not policing,
diversity, not assimilation,
and that the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal.
A toque is a hat, a chesterfield is a couch,
and it is pronounced 'zed' not 'zee', 'zed' !!!!

Canada is the second largest landmass!
The first nation of hockey!
and the best part of North America

My name is Typ0!!
And I am Canadian!!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Desperately Seeking New News

This episode of Blog started off as a rather amusing tale about how I’m not into doing charity work or being a Do Gooder. I did that once and now I’m pretty much over it. I mean, I’ll work in the offices for other Do Gooders but actually getting out there in the field really isn’t for me. I’m a shallow person and I accept that – not that my lack of oceanic depths is really news to most of you Devoted and Beloved Readers. (That, by the way, was a cue for lots of emails and public comments here on the blog swearing that you think that I really *am* a good person. Just so you know.)


I was in the midst of writing that incredibly witty monologue when I realized that my cartoon had ended and there was nothing else on TV for another fifteen minutes. This was naturally a cue to get my daily sound bites so I switched to the BBC. (CNN was showing a lovely commercial for Bahrain and Sky News isn’t a real news outlet so I wasn’t about to go there.) After catching the end of piece about Condi Rice they headed back to the newsroom – to talk about Anna Nicole Smith. What?!

Not wanting to listen “news” about a dead woman famous for being stoned and drunk in
public, having fake breasts, and being a general twit, I headed to CNN. Guess what BIG story they were talking about? Oh yeah. It was Anna freaking Nicole Smith.

How does this count as news? Maybe for one-day right after she died. Perhaps even for a week or so on E! and other entertainment-themed “news” outlets (that, let’s face it, I normally watch religiously). But for legitimate news organizations to still be talking about this non-story about a celebrity famous for being a former Playmate is ridiculous. There must real new stories out there they could be reporting on. But no, evidently we all desperately need to know about Anna Nicole Smith and who may or may not be her “baby daddy.”

This must be what they refer to as a “slow news cycle.” And I for one, can’t wait until it’s over and the world has something new to be scandalized over… like, say a war or two in the Middle East, a virtual genocide in Africa, global warming, or even, if they were really desperate for something to talk about a breakout new author that they think should be highlighted and introduced to the world. You know. Real news.

PS Not wanting to seem unfair to Sky News, I flipped the channel there for a moment before finishing this entry. They, I’m happy to say, were not talking about Anna Nicole Smith. No, they were reporting on Britney Spears and her new bald hair-do. Hard hitting news as always…

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Naughty Bunny

So there I was, innocently perusing the headlines on Yahoo when I saw this picture:

So can someone please tell me how my bunny, Fuzz, ended up on the front page of Yahoo?!

I knew I shouldn't have believed him when he said he was only going out on Saturday nights to help disadvantaged rabbits.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Comings and Goings

Hubby arrived back last night from his stay in Addis Ababa. We spent a lovely evening watching TV and eating yummy Lebanese food from one of our favorite restaurants, which is conveniently just around the corner. That said, even as you read this, he is on his way to Jakarta making this return home entirely too brief – almost mockingly so.

Of course, he did bring home a bottle of Tang (an amazingly tasty South African liqueur), which due to its ridiculous price here is a great treat indeed. So it isn’t all bad news.

In other unfortunate mishaps, I got my bag from the artist’s studio mixed up with someone else’s on Tuesday. Thus I do not currently have a lovely Masai warrior to display in the guest room, but rather three smaller candlestick holders. My only hope is that I’ll be able to swap it out at the next Association meeting.

I couldn’t think of anything else to blog about today so I’ll just leave with you a picture from a trip Hubby and I took a few years ago.

Do you know “Where in World” this is? I do!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Poetry Night

The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock
T.S. Eliot (1888–1965)

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse
A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

. . . . .

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

. . . . .

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

. . . . .

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Hallmark Holiday

(Wow that sounded cynical!)

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

Especially to my Special Valentine who is currently in Addis Ababa!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stripes and Spots

I really need to start taking a camera with me when I go out of the apartment so that I can capture those wonderfully unusual moments that only happen when you least expect them. Earlier today I went on a field trip with the local Association to the Naivasha area to visit an artist’s studio. The artist’s work was quite impressive and I may or may not have purchased a lovely metal sculpture of a Masai warrior for the guest room. We spent a pleasant day at the farm/gallery and ate a very tasty lunch of salad and vegetarian lasagna before we hit the road for our return trip back to Nairobi.

During the hour and a half drive back into town we passed the Escarpment, lots of farms, and beautiful scenery. We saw lots of surprisingly cute donkeys and then I saw the most curious thing.

We drove past a small herd of black and white spotted cows grazing in the field next to the road. Not an unusual sight, I’ll grant you, but intermixed with these bovines was a herd of black and white striped zebras – also grazing. The ladies in the car with me (most of whom were long-timers here in Nairobi) were equally astonished at the unusual sight.

We joked that they couldn’t tell the difference between their spots and stripes and simply saw that they looked more or less the same. The small differences didn’t matter to them: they just wanted to be friends and share a patch of grass.

It’s amazing what we can learn from nature.

Monday, February 12, 2007

My Pretty, Pretty Prison

As I sit here typing these words to you, Hubby is in the process of flying off on yet another business trip. This week, he will be off to Ethiopia, back home for a day, and then jetting off to Indonesia for a week followed by a day in Bangkok. I have a feeling (or what some observant people might call a “hope”) that the trip to Indonesia might get cancelled due to really yucky weather and flooding.

While he is off enjoying the jet setting lifestyle, I will enjoy our newly decorated apartment back here in Nairobi. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy our apartment, especially now that we’ve made a good dent in the framing and hanging of artwork throughout the rooms. Nature photographs taken by my late Father-in-Law are splashed throughout and always receive compliments from visitors. My new pride and joy; however, is a framed TTC subway map from Toronto (pre-Sheppard line).

On the downside of our lovely quarters are our neighbors: the construction workers who often start their noisy hammering shortly before 8:00 a.m. and do not let up until they are sure you are awake. That, of course, is when they start the quiet, interior work. Isn’t that considerate of them?

The new building next door was scheduled for completion (or so we were told) before Christmas. They have obviously missed that particular deadline. Our landlord has informed us that the new end date for this horrible, dust-creating noise pit is six months from now. I’m sure that you all empathize with just how much I’ll miss the lovely construction workers who peer in my windows and watch TV with me every afternoon. I’ve been decorating the apartment as much for them as for myself since I want them to have something pretty to look at all day while they’re not getting any perceptible progress done on the building.

My favorite part of Hubby’s trips is always the cooking: I get to cook all sorts of yummy treats that he doesn’t like or approve of. On the menu for this evening is Chicken Veronique with Curried Rice: a long time childhood favorite from when my father used to go on business trips. So really, making it tomorrow is just upholding a longstanding family tradition. And trying a new Jamie Oliver recipe for Mac and Cheese (From scratch, thank you!) on Tuesday is upholding my new tradition of trying out a new recipe every week. I don’t want to make it: I have to.

So sweetie, while you’re gone on these grueling trips, be confident in the knowledge that I’m in elegantly comfortable (if noisy) surroundings and I’m eating lots of healthy food. Or I would be if I didn’t have so many darned traditions to honor.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sofa Bed Redux

Earlier this week, I asked you all which bed I should buy: the boring futon or the beautiful daybed. I struggled with the decision, as I’m sure you can imagine, and not only because I’m the world’s most indecisive person. As all of you women out there can understand, this was more than a decorating dilemma: I would also have to put up with a certain Mr. Cheapo (aka Mr. Frugal, aka Mr. My-Wife-Spends-All-Our-Money, aka Hubby) if he didn’t like how I spent “his” money.

The daybed, as you may recall, was more expensive and thus sure to trigger an eventual response from the aforementioned holder of the purse stings if (when) it was selected. But it was sooooo pretty!!! And if there’s one thing all those John Hughes movies about high school taught me, it’s that pretty is always better than not pretty. (Oh, and some claptrap about the importance of friendship but I tuned that part out while I grooved to that always impeccable soundtrack of the 80’s.)

Is anyone here really surprised by my eventual choice? I didn’t think so.

(Hubby Edit by Typ0: He wants me to point out that he did not begrudge the cost as it is an investment, he really liked the daybed, and that he isn’t cheap... much.)

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Living and Surviving in Nairobi

I’m not saying that the media overreact or blow things out of proportion… But come on! I’ve seen less reactive stories about war zones than the Reuters article below.

That said…

Please, guys, come visit us! Nairobi maybe isn’t as safe as, say, Toronto (few places are), but is a perfectly great town if you take reasonable precautions. You do need to be careful: windows up while driving, doors locked at all times, keen awareness of your surroundings, don’t stop on the side of the road, don’t carry huge amounts of money or jewelry on your person…

Oh and don’t arrive at the Hubby/Typ0 household without one or more of the following: minimum two weeks notice, (numerous boxes of) Kraft Mac & Cheese, books/DVDs preordered by yours truly, wine... You know: rent!

Seriously though, Kenya isn’t a walk in the park (Well, Central Park in the 80’s maybe…), but it is reasonably safe if you take the appropriate precautions that you would in any big city. Despite the fact that we may now be on the United States’ “think carefully before visiting” list, I urge you to add Kenya to your future travel plans and not just because I have some books I need to order from Amazon. This is a beautiful country and there are lots of things to do and see.

Give Kenya a whirl and you’ll soon find, like we did, that this is a fabulous country just waiting to be discovered!


U.S. warns citizens of violent crime in Kenya

NAIROBI (Reuters) - The United States has told its citizens to think carefully about visiting Kenya due to an upsurge in violent crime it said the Kenyan authorities had a limited capacity to deal with.

The warning was issued after high-profile carjackings involving U.S. citizens. On Sunday, an American woman traveling in the car of a top Kenyan AIDS researcher was shot by carjackers who killed her friend and wounded his wife.

Last month, carjackers shot dead two American women -- the relatives of a U.S. diplomat -- as they sat in a U.S. embassy car on the outskirts of Nairobi.

The travel advisory issued on Tuesday asked Americans to "consider carefully the risks of travel to Kenya ... due to ongoing safety and security concerns."

"Violent criminal attacks, including armed carjacking and home invasions and burglary, can occur at any time and in any location and are becoming increasingly frequent brazen, vicious, and often fatal," the advisory said.

"Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter and investigate such acts," it added.

Washington already maintains a high-level travel advisory against Kenya and has issued a specific warning about terrorist threats in the past after the U.S. embassy in Nairobi was bombed in 1998, killing 214 people.

There has been an increasing number of reports of attacks on diplomats or their families in the past six months.

In September, a U.S. embassy official was shot in the chest, while a month earlier, the Russian ambassador was stabbed while on the roadside attending to a sick grandchild.

Carjackings of Kenyans and foreigners are common in Nairobi, where gangsters pounce on people for cash, bank cards, mobile phones or cars. Rapes are also common during the robberies.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Reading Memory Lane

After reading my email this morning, I found myself perusing what many of you know to be one of my favorite entertainment websites: After checking out the always-witty Popwatch, I noticed a link for an article about those books we read as kids that our parents disapproved of… or would have if they had known we were reading them. What amuses me the most about this article is how many of the books I too devoured… sometimes repeatedly. After all, that bit of “prehistoric porn” that the author mentions is a mainstay in my keeper shelf to this day.

I wonder what the whispered-about books will be for the current generation of youngins. Are they still enthralled with Judy Blume and VC (I’ve been dead for years but am still publishing new books) Andrews? Is “Adrian Mole” still considered avant guard and riské? Or are modern kids too above it all and attached to their Nintendo Wii to care?

What about you? Do relate to the books Ms. Jordan mentions or was my childhood literacy problem more of an issue than I thought?

Scarlet Letters
V.C. Andrews' ''Flowers in the Attic'' series? Judy Blume's ''Forever''? Stephen King's ''Christine''? If you hid your reading list from your parents, you're not alone.

By Tina Jordan

My ''Confessions'' column last week — about my daughter's penchant for Gossip Girl novels — unleashed a torrent of commentary from fellow staffers at the magazine, many of whom stopped by my office to talk about the books they'd snuck as teenagers. Everyone pretty much agreed: This kind of surreptitious reading is a traditional rite of passage. But what surprised me was how many of my colleagues — separated not just by geography but by generation — turned to the same books for their, uh, information: The Godfather (page 27 was specifically mentioned by two people), Lady Chatterley's Lover, Jaws, The Diary of Anais Nin, The Other Side of Midnight, and anything by Judy Blume or John Jakes (though, as senior editor Thom Geier said, ''But Jakes tended to write his sex scenes in language so obscure that you'd have to go rushing to the dictionary to figure out what in the world he was trying to say. And even then, you didn't really learn very much''). Seven people cited Stephen King's Christine, including senior editor Nicholas Fonseca: ''Mom saw me reading it and she said, ''How can you read that? I remember the movie being really full of foul language!'''

Over half the women mentioned V.C. Andrews' ''incest classics.'' Senior writer Karen Valby said, ''The Flowers in the Attic series wouldn't have gone over very well if my mother had ever peeked inside.'' Almost all the women cited Judy Blume's Forever, which as far as I can tell was the first Blume novel with an actual sex scene. ''I remember reading Forever in the sixth grade!'' said photo editor Michele Romero. ''This puts me at 11 — way too young, in hindsight. Is there a statute of limitations on reprimanding your inner child? Anyway, I do recall that we had the 'virginity loss' page folded over and would pass it back and forth under the desk.'' At my junior high school, back in Denton, Texas, it was on the ''Forbidden Book List'' — if you were caught with it, you were first sent to the office and then sent home.

At first I was surprised that so many of my colleagues — nine in all — mentioned Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent, since I was in graduate school when it came out. Then I remembered how old I am, and how young most of them are. As writer Scott Brown put it, delicately, ''[It had] the first sex scene I ever read, and it wasn't, er, traditional sex. I could barely figure out what was going on. But I did figure it out, thanks to careful study and many, many readings.'' Another staff writer, Greg Kirschling, concurred: ''You remember how raunchy that book's sex scenes were? Great twist at the end, too. But then my mother took it with her on a vacation with my dad and I remember her walking back through the front door with her bags still in her arms and immediately walking up to me in the kitchen, plopping the paperback down on the counter, and saying, 'We need to have a talk.'''

Assistant managing editor Kristen Baldwin was one of several who read — and reread — Jean M. Auel's Clan of the Cave Bear: ''I'm pretty sure my mom knew I was reading it — I mean, she was the one who had to drive me to the mall to go book shopping — but I don't think she had any idea how capital-F filthy that book is. It's prehistoric porn!'' EW book critic Jennifer Reese was partial to Judith Krantz's Scruples: ''It looked like just another slightly racy supermarket paperback — the only kind of book I liked to read as an adolescent — but when I got about, I don't know, 32 pages in, there was this sex scene where they did things I had never even heard about. I mean, Judy Blume was fine but she's all about missionary mechanics and tender, proper emotions; this was shocking and thrilling and raw. I got quite an education: about gay sex, about oral sex, about the fashion world, about opening a boutique... but mostly about sex.''

Of course, most EW staffers were lucky enough to have parents with open minds when it came to books. Music writer Chris Willman recalls, ''In the fourth grade in 1972, I turned in a book report on the Donald E. Westlake novel The Hot Rock, having been duly inspired to read it by the Robert Redford/George Segal jewelry-heist movie of the same name. My teacher was horrified... though I'm not sure if it's because I was reading 'adult' books or because I was confessing that my parents took me at 10 or 11 to see GP-rated movies, which then was the sign of really morally wanton parenting.'' Greg Kirschling remembers that in one of his progress reports at his Catholic school, ''my teacher wrote: 'I'm concerned about what he reads but so long as he has parental approval I will not interfere.' My favorite books that term were Red Dragon, Fatal Vision, and the dirtiest novels of Ed McBain.''

So, EW readers, let's have it: What books — forbidden or not — were you learning from as teenagers?

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl Blues

Obviously my future career is not in picking the outcomes of sporting events. The yucky Colts beat my Bears down 29 to 17. We could claim that the rain hampered our otherwise stupendous efforts. After all even Prince paid homage to the weather in his halftime performance of "Purple Rain."

That rather damp excuse, of course, would ignore the pathetic performance by Bears quarterback Rex Grossman. I famously throw like a girl (on a good day) and I'm pretty sure I could have turned in a more impressive performance than this guy! Of course, that's been the story all season - it isn't anything new. But you'd think that they would have practiced a little and beat some skills into the guy before the biggest game of the season.

I am a big girl (or chi-lud if you prefer), and can admit when I'm wrong. Congratulations to the Indianapolis Colts on your big win.

Bears: there's always next season!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Sofa Bed Wars

So it is finally the start of a new week and I'm having a decorating versus money conflict. I realize that there are serious problems in the world, but with Dobhi Wallah (aka Queen E) and Dobhi Wallah’s friend coming in a month, this issue is becoming slowly but surely more serious as time goes on.

Here’s the deal: we have this extra room that is supposed to be my sitting room. As Hubby has his office, this would somewhere for me to sit with my knitting or romances. In other words, the things Hubby doesn’t want littering up the rooms his intelligentsia friends might see when they visit. It is also the second guest room, or is supposed to be. Currently, other than junk (since it has become the junk room), there's not much in it other than my (slightly underused) elliptical machine and my books. The immediate quandary is that we need to use it to house people by the end of the month. And that means that we finally have to get a sofa bed, futon, or daybed. (Please note that the room would also serve as a nursery if we had an oops, so a comfy place to sit is also practical!)

So here’s where we’re at today:

We found a futon. It has metal frame, is affordable, and is boringly utilitarian.

We also found a lovely and pretty daybed. It has a handcrafted wood frame with all the bolsters, cushions, and the mattress included in the price with the frame... Which is slightly less than affordable.

The former, of course, would open up into a double bed, meaning that when you added our dedicated guest room to the equation, we could have up to two couples staying with us at a time. My daybed, on the other hand, is just a single unless two really skinny people wanted to tightly snuggle: we would be able to host one less guest.

Hubby’s choice is less attractive and grey although he claims that it’s rather comfy. I should also note that I probably would have liked it and picked it up on the spot if we hadn’t first seen the daybed. The daybed, on the other hand and in case I haven’t mentioned it, is sooooo pretty! And I would definitely take it with us on our next move, which means that it’s an investment.

With the end of the month approaching ever nearer, I have to order one of them tomorrow if DW’s friend is going to have a place to sleep in time. But which one should I get? The pretty one I love but is expensive? Or the slightly less attractive one that is affordable and means we could house up to one extra person at a time?

To be fair, Hubby says its up to me and is being really open minded about the fact that he knows I want the pretty one. But the tiny little practical part of my mind that do my best to repress is telling me that I should get the ugly one and save money.

HELP!!! What do you think?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Super Bowl of Chips

The hype leading up to Superbowl XLI has reached such a fever pitch that even innocent civilians who know that football is really soccer have been sucked into the abyss. Everywhere you turn, be it sports radio, television, or even the Internet, you are inundated with news about this American sporting event. Two giants of the game, the Chicago Bears and the Indianapolis Colts, will face each other on the gridiron in Miami, Florida. But who has it in them to take home that famous trophy? Which team deserves to wear the ring proclaiming themselves Superbowl champions?

Who cares?!

Yes, I know that if we were in the States right now, I’d be psyched about attending a Superbowl party at somebody’s house. I’d be looking forward to party night staples of yummy Superbowl munchies, many uncounted drinks, and bets that didn’t include complicated math or point spreads. Chances are that I would even know who was performing in the halftime show. (Who is it anyways?) Most of all, I’d be looking forward to the drama that would mark the night forever in my memory: the commercials!

Without the multimillion-dollar ads (which don’t air outside the US on game night), the party, or the snackage to look forward to, I’m not sure whether I can gather enough energy to cheer for the game this year. Add to that the fact that in order to watch the game, we’ll need to be awake at 2:00 a.m. Monday morning. (The pre-game nonsense, for those lucky Nairobi-based fans, will start at 9:00 p.m., Sunday night.)

Needless to say, I intend to wake up at a humane hour on Monday (around 9ish, thank you) and look-up the highlights, lowlights, and Monday morning quarterbacking on the Internet. You know, like a sane person!

Of course, if anyone were to force me to cheer for a team… I mean, if a certain Hubby wanted to bet a romantic night at Tamarind versus a freshly baked carrot cake… If I absolutely had to pick a team to win outright…

‘Da Bears!!!

Friday, February 02, 2007

We Want Food

Back in Delhi, Hubby and I were known as people who rarely ate in and knew most of the restaurants, take aways, and delivery places in town so well that they knew us by sight. The best of these, of course, found loving homes in my cell phone’s speed dial. We had a rotation for those we visited regularly in person and those we relied upon for feeding us via delivery bike. The reason, as those of you lucky enough to visit us in Golf Links knew, was that our kitchen was not terribly functional and was about as well lit as a coat closet. In addition to the lack of cooking facilities, there are no real supermarkets in Delhi and good ingredients are hard to come by unless you’re up to visiting five different shops for each recipe.

Life in Nairobi is slightly different than that. We have a big kitchen with huge windows and lots of counter space and cupboards. This, it should be noted, is the nicest kitchen we’ve ever had in either the developing or Real World. When you add the convenience of proper supermarkets and lovely specialty stores, I’m sure you’ll understand why we have rediscovered our “joy of cooking” (if you’ll pardon the pun).

That said, I’m not about to give up my enjoyment of eating in nice restaurants even if Hubby’s cooking is some of the best to be found on either side of the Atlantic. So we have found ourselves out and about in Nairobi experimenting with new places to put into our speed dial. Although we haven’t yet found any good delivery outlets, we have discovered that Nairobi is a pretty good food town.

Whether you’re looking for Thai food or drinks followed by fancy bar snacks, ABC Center is a great place to head to on a Saturday afternoon. The happy hour at Mercury Bar makes having a few strawberry cosmopolitans and a plate of chicken fingers an affordable snack after a long day of looking for new curtains. Should you find yourself hungry for supper after this snack, the new Thai place next door, Orchid, is a wee bit pricey but entirely yummy. Hubby and I were lucky enough to be there on opening day and we both found the shrimp pad thai to be both authentic and delicious. The young owner imports ingredients direct from Thailand and actually has two Thai women working in the kitchen to ensure quality control.

For a night out at the bar followed by cute pouting for a meal, I’d head for the mall at the Westlands traffic circle. While I’m not saying that I’m a regular at the Tamambo bar, I won’t deny that they tend to prepare a margarita on the rocks (no salt) when they see me coming up the escalator. The attached restaurant is fabulous and you can order from the full menu at the bar. If continental food like ostrich fajitas or ulagi fries aren’t your ball of wax, you can walk two feet across the hall to Haandi. This fabulous restaurant specializes in North Indian cuisine and introduced us to the masala papadam which is a giant papad bruchetta.

Around the corner from the Sarit center is Furusato, a great Japanese restaurant whose only fault so far is that they seem to think that tempura requires only enough dipping sauce (or whatever it’s called) to satisfy a single carrot. Luckily the waiters seem to realize the lack and always have a knowing grin and a larger bowl ready as soon as you ask.

Lebanese food is a staple in our going out traditions here in Nairobi. While the Phoenician (in the Westlands) gets more press, Cedars (located in Kilimani) is my favourite place to spend lunch on Saturday afternoons. The tabouleh isn’t great but is more than made up for by the bite-sized schwarma and delicious fatoush. Of course, if it’s Friday night and you feel like getting a little Mediterranean ambience, then the place to go is definitely Casablanca where hooka pipes adorn the tables and large cushioned bench seats are the order of the day.

The oddest part of Casablanca is that it doesn’t actually serve food that matches the décor. They’re in cahoots with Osteria Del Chianti, an Italian restaurant which just happens to be directly around the corner if you’re driving or through the trees at the left if you’re walking to pick up a plate of cheese-less pizza for weird American, almost-bald men who go by the name Hubby but who will otherwise remain nameless.

If you’re in the mood for Italian but don’t feel like paying quite as much as Osteria charges, then Mediterraneo at the Junction is a great choice. The upstairs balcony area makes for a nice alfresco dining experience and the affordable menu has choices ranging from pizza diavola to penne Gorgonzola with rocket to veal marasla. The biggest problem with Mediterraneo is that they don’t have canolli on their dessert menu, which, in my opinion, is a criminal offence.

There are other fabulous dining experiences in town like Tamarind, Java House (OK that one isn’t fabulous but they do have nice chocolate croissants and coffee!), Café Latino, Carnivore, Pampa Grill (the latter two, of course, are better known by Devoted Readers as “All You Can Eat Meat”), and Pepper’s where I had a lovely and tasty lunch just yesterday. But this episode of blog is getting rather long so you’ll have to wait until the next time that PMS and writer’s block coincide to find out about those and many others.

Bon appetit!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You’re a Wizard Harry


Can I tell you how incredibly happy, thrilled and excited I am right now? Should I even bother to tell you that I’ve been squealing like a 13 year old girl and bouncing all over the living room for the last 10 minutes?

Don’t even tell me that you haven’t heard the news yet! What kind of rock have you been hiding under?!

Well, here’s the dirt: the new Harry Potter book,
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” is coming out on Saturday, July 21, 2007!!!!!!!

The information about book 7 has been confirmed at
Mugglenet and on JKR’s own website.

The best part of the news? I am going to be in the States when the book comes out!!!!


In summation:
Harry Potter
Book seven
“Deathly Hallows”
July 21st
I am so going to be there!!!!!!!!!!!!!