Monday, August 31, 2009

Sometimes ...


I've done a really good job of playing by the rules for most of my life. I was always taught that in playing with and through the system, progress would be made; my desires would become a reality. Conversely, I was also taught/shown that if I disobeyed rules, there would be consequences - very severe consequences. Good planning and foresight would get me ahead, impulsion and hasty behavior would get me into trouble.

So I've been living my life dutifully; I prepare my taxes, I (usually) obey traffic laws, I worked hard for good grades, so that I would get into a good university, so that I would have an edge on the job market. Okay, forget for a minute that I'm a theatre artist; I still earned a Bachelor's of Art degree from an upstanding liberal arts college. I have excelled in my work - both career and "day job" alike. I pay my credit card bills, I pay my parking tickets, I pick up litter, I recycle, I stop for pedestrians ... I help old ladies at the super market when they think that I work there, even though I don't.

And yet. As I look at my life in the immediate now - so much of this preparation I've dedicated my life to seems a bit null and void. It's not just this economy, though it certainly doesn't help. I've been increasingly aware that life ... is life. The rules that I've been adhering to matter, but only inasmuch as laws are created to protect me and those around me. I know how to make good, legal choices. But I've been spending so much of the past 5 years waiting for something - an opportunity, a job, a life. And if the past 6 months have taught me anything, it's that life is not to be waited on - it's to be lived.

Sometimes, life requires faith. Yes, I absolutely mean requires. It doesn't need to be a God, or a power, or a universe, though it can be all of that and more. But most importantly, it requires faith in one's self. And if all of this planning and hard work and rule-following has taught me anything - it's that I have no reason not to have faith in myself. I have no reason to think that I won't survive anywhere I go. What I need now, is to go do it.

So that's what I'm going to do. What does that mean? Well ... it means that after I hear from a few different options, I'm going leave Southern California.

Reviews with observations, and a disappointment...


Oh ... it's Monday (I really have nothing interesting to say about Monday, except that it exists). I had the unparalleled pleasure of seeing not one, but TWO movies this weekend. This does not happen very often, so I thought I'd take advantage of this rare occurrence, and share some thoughts with you. I'm a rather opinionated little bear, and this is my blog ... so here we go.


1) Taking Woodstock

I think this movies is proof that you can't always believe what you read. The reviews for the film have been horrible to ambivalent, at best. And for the life of me I can't understand why. Of all the movies to hate, this is not one of them. I think is probably the best microcosm of the opinion divide on the interwebs. Read it, don't read it; but I think the point is that the film has clearly had a polarizing effect on its viewers. And I don't know about you, but some of the best movies I've seen have created the same disparity.

Ang Lee focuses on the gritty and minute details that made Woodstock a reality. THIS IS NOT A MOVIE ABOUT THE MUSIC. It's a movie about the people and the place, and as one reviewer aptly described, "Dear-hearted but fuzzy in a way that unintentionally mirrors the hippie aesthetic of the Woodstock festival, Lee's film is interested not so much in the massive concert as in the Catskill Mountains community which hosted it, however unwillingly." I'm not sure that I agree with the "unintentional" quality this gentleman mentions, but the rest is certainly true. Ang Lee is, for me, one of those directors who is able to achieve what Brecht could only dream; a full-heart in league with a full mind - and I don't think that's a bad thing. Imelda
Staunton and Henry Goodman are fascinating, Liev Schreiber is illuminating, Emil Hirsch is heart-breaking, and while Demetri Martin is slow-to-boil, he gets there. Some critics have mentioned the word "stereotype," but there isn't a two-dimensional character in the lot.

A hippie experimental theatre troupe (The Earthlight Players), Liev Schreiber as a heat-packing transvestite, Paul Dano on a mushroom trip, and Meryl Streep's charming daughter, Mamie Gummer, in an understated, yet interesting role. My question is, why not?

Interesting note: Last year, when I was working for Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, Massachusetts, Imelda Staunton came to the premier of the Fall Show, The Canterville Ghost. She stood right next to me (she's tiny!). At the time, I thought she must have been there to visit Tina Packer, the Artistic Director, but since the film was shot in New Lebanon, NY,
View Larger Map which is only a hop over the MA/NY border, my dad and I came to the conclusion that she must have been shooting this film. Awesome.

Polar Bear Rating:

3 out of 4 paws

2) Ponyo

Let me begin this by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Hayao Miyazaki. This all started back in college when my friends and I rented a little, unknown movie from the school library called My Neighbor Totoro. We laughed for almost two hours straight, without having consumed ...substances... of any kind. It was love at first sight. I have at least half of Miyazaki's films in my collection, and while I had iffy feelings related to Disney being the Studio Ghibli distributor in the states, I love that American children are getting to see these stories.

At any rate, I love Mr. Miyazaki. I asked my parents if they wanted to go, and my dad said, "Anime just isn't my thing." But the wonderful thing about Miyazaki is that it's not *really* anime. It is, in terms of the aesthetic and some techniques of the animation, but certainly not in terms of story. Ponyo is no exception to this. There is a simplicity about the animation ... it's functional, but not fancy. The point of animating films, in my opinion, is to allow the creators to do the impossible on screen, and in doing so, broaden the imagination through the art - the art makes the story possible. I'm babbling about this, I know, but it's important. It's why Miyazaki is a master at what he does.

Ponyo is the most positive apocalyptic film I've ever seen. Everyone lives at the end. It's kind of like the Japanese version of The Little Mermaid, fused with Water World. Yes, I realize how awful that sounds, but it's really quite ingenious! The environmental theme is HUGE, but it's not dark and dour. It strives to return balance, and "begin life anew." The seas take over, the Cambrian Age comes back, true love is kept sacred, commitment and responsibility marry them all, and children prove, once again, to be the most honorable and pure-hearted characters in the movie.

For those other Miyazaki fans out there, Ponyo is less fantastic in scope than Spirited Away or Howl's Moving Castle, but never lacks in charm or interest. The wonderful thing about this Miyazaki creation, is the English voice casting; it's the best yet. Tina Fey (kicked voice-over ASS!), Cate Blanchett, Betty White, Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson ... seriously. awesome. Definitely worth seeing.

And please don't be detracted by the thought of screaming, talking, ill-behaved children crowding the theater. When Lara and I went, there was scarcely a peep from the kids; adults, however, were another matter entirely.

Polar Bear rating:

3 out of 4 paws


It's too depressing to talk about, so I'll only provide you a link.
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Jamaican' me Jerk! Chiken Salad


Guerrilla Recipe No. 2


2 boneless chicken breasts
1 head of Romaine Lettuce
1 Carrot
1 Jazz Apple
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper
1/2 Orange Bell pepper
1/2 white Onion (I think green onion might be even better, but I didn't have any...)
3 cloves of Garlic
Olive Oil
White Wine (I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
Soy Sauce
Jamaican Jerk Rub (find one you like, but here's essentially what's in it...mine came from these guys...take a look at their other blends, especially the Chinese 5 spice!)


1) Clean the chicken breasts.
2) Put the Jamaican Jerk rub all over the surface of the chicken breasts. Rub, Rub, Rub!
3) Finely chop the cloves of garlic.
4) Pour a nice layer of olive oil in the frying pan, dump in the chopped garlic, add an *ample* amount of white wine, and a few splooshes of soy sauce.
5) Heat the stove top to medium; get the reduction nice and hot, then add in the chicken, and turn the heat down to low-medium. Put on the lid, and leave it alone for about 10 minutes.


1) Clean and chop the romaine, carrots, onion (don't forget your goggles!), bell peppers into desired sizes.
2) don't forget about the chicken ... if it's been 10 minutes, flip it over, recover for another 7-10 minutes.
3) Chop the apple into cubes - save this as late as possible, as the apple flesh will start to brown with air exposure.

By the time you're done chopping the veggies, the chicken should be done. There should be plenty of reduction left.

Cut the chicken breasts into pieces, place pieces onto of veggies. Place cubed apples on top of chicken.

then ...

Pour reduction over the makes a killer dressing.

I wanted to try extra sharp white cheddar crumbles on top - but the cheddar I had ended up being moldy. Next time, though. ;)
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The weird things I do ...


I've been noticing lately that I do some really strange things. And it made me wonder if other people do things like this, too? By strange, I don't mean things that could lead to incarceration. I mean ... out of the ordinary. WAY out of the ordinary (yet not creepy). For example:

I wear goggles when I chop onions. Seriously. Why suffer through the pain inflicted on your eyes by onions vapors? Why submit yourself to the onion's mercy, as it brings you to tears?! I say, "No more, Mister Onion!" Plus, you get the added bonus of feeling like a super hero ... kind of. It's also a brilliant fashion statement - think of the protective goggles in your high school chemistry class. And yes, I thought of this all on my own.

One of the other weird things I do, (and this happened to me today, giving me the idea for this blog...) is put my laptop in the freezer....when it overheats. Not for long ... only about 1-2 minutes. I usually do most of my writing/procrastination-via-internet on my bed...and sitting in one position for too long makes me a little stiff ... so when I flip over on my stomach, sometimes my laptop gets angry because it can't breathe, and shuts down after while. I get up, put it in the freezer, and just wait. Oddly, I've done this in front of several members of my family, and I don't think they've noticed what exactly I'm doing in the freezer; no one's ever said anything.

I have a proclivity to creating television personality friends and nemeses. Nemeses: James Lipton (Inside the Actor's Studio), Nancy Grace (Fox Network Harpy), and Rachel Ray (Food Network ... it's her voice! and her weird eyes...). Friends: Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, Stephen Colbert, Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa), and Paula Dean. The way I know I make friends/nemeses with these people, is if/when I start talking to them while the television is on. Positive comments usually begin a friendship, and negative comments ... well. You get the idea. In fact, Paula Dean is on right now ... I just said, "Hey, Ya'll." And she just said, "I hope I don't burn my pie hole." Yep. That's the kind of conversation Paula and I are prone to. Right after Paula, Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals came on, and I said, "I hate you, Rachel Ray." And promptly turned the channel. Rachel isn't allowed to have the last word.

And lastly (for the purposes of today), I cannot go to sleep with dirty feet. Can.Not. So what do I do if my feet feel dirty? I go and wash them. In the bathtub. It mostly happens during the summer, when I wear my flip flops more than normal. In fact, I should go wash them right now ... but what if I go out again? Do you see the conundrum I'm faced with?!
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Thursday, August 27, 2009



Polar Bear slowly looks up toward the Universe.
Polar Bear squints, considering.
She blinks slowly, once or twice,
opens her mouth, and says,


Polar Bear sits down, and waits.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pirate Power Stir Fry: The Recipe ...


This is for all of you A-'s out there ...

Disclaimer: This is the recipe of what I made tonight ... not the be all and end all of stirfry. Below, I will list options and alternatives ... remember: everything is TO TASTE. Also, beware of catchy titles....


Meat (lean steak for stew) - 1/2 lb.
Veggies - 1/2 yellow bell pepper, 1/2 orange bell pepper, 1/2 white onion, 1 carrot
1 big, honkin' thing o' garlic
2 lemons
1 cup jasmin rice
sea salt
soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium ... if there's too much salt, your stirfry will just taste of salt)
olive oil
garlic powder
Dijon Mustard

1) Dry rub your meat! Do this by combining spices, and spreading amply over the top layer of meat. mix pieces of meat around using your fingers. Once there seems to be a fairly equal distribution on meat, spread another layer, and spread like crazy. It kind of feels like it did when you were little and you were squishing mud in your fingers. Then ...

2) put sliced pieces of meat into a large ZIP-TIGHT freezer bag. Zip tight is important ... you don't want the marinade to slosh all over the place. Next, it's marinade time!

3) Sploosh (this is a technical term, people ...) whatever cooking oil you are planning on using in your wok/frying pan ... don't go over board, but get enough in there to where you can squish the bag and spread it around to all pieces of meet - but don't squish yet. Then add soy sauce, dijon mustard (I'd say 2-3 teaspoons) ... the mustard will (or at least should) thicken up the olive oil/soy sauce. So don't be afraid if it does that. Then, add half of a lemon's worth of juice. Uhm ... be sure to try to get the lemon seeds before you squish it. Oh ... and take 2 cloves of garlic, and finely chop them. Throw them in the bag too.

4) SEAL THE BAG - if you don't, you have gorgeous marinade all over your floor. Sad day. Once the bag is sealed, work the marinade around the meat. You ideally shouldn't have half of a bag of marinade. Aim for about an 1/8 of the bag ... enough for the meat to sit in, but not drown.

5) Place bag in the fridge ... and wait. how long? well, there are different opinions about this. If you really want the meat to soak it all in, the longer the better. If you want it for flavor, but still want that gorgeous red-meat taste to shine, despite the marinade, then I'd say for about an hour. Again - this is all according to your preference, and your tolerance. If you let it sit longer, and cook it slowly, it will be tender. If you dust it for an hour, then pan sere your steak to a nice medium rare, that's fine to. For the purposes for today, I let mine sit for about 5 hours. I put it in at 1:00 p.m., and took it out at 6:00 p.m.

5) Let's say the marinade time has gone by ... ding! You're ready to chop up vegetables. So chop them. All I had to work with today were some bell peppers, onions, and carrots, which is just fine. You can add your own of whatever veggies you want ... veggies typically tend to be very personal, depending on who's cooking. So have at it. When I was little, I thought there was some mystery in the cutting of vegetables. I thought that if they were cut a certain way, there would be some magical thing that happened in the cooking process, that either made or broke the recipe. This is a ginormous falsehood. Cut them into tiny pieces, cut them into huge chunks - it matter not! Get wild!

6) Once the veggies are cut, boil 2 cups of water for the rice. Once the water is boiling, put the cup of rice in. DO THIS NOW. DO NOT FORGET. Many a good stirfry is over cooked due to the chef's forgetfulness with the rice. I say this from experience. Don't be accused of over cooking just because you're a forgetter. When you put the rice in, turn heat way down to low. Random fact: I've never cooked rice in a rice cooker. It takes about 20 minutes for one cup of rice, fyi. You don't have to touch it again until you're ready to dish it up.

7) Once the rice is set, take out your wok/frying pan. Add enough olive oil to thinly coat the bottom -remember, you have a whole bag of meat/marinade to add. Finely chop another 3-4 cloves of garlic. There's a trick in using the flat end of the knife to put a bit of pressure onto the pieces to get the flavor to open up a bit more, and faster. Once you add the pieces to the bottom of your Wok/frying pan, turn on the burner to medium low. WARNING: DO NOT BURN THE GARLIC. That really sucks. All you're wanting to do is heat the pan, at this point.

8) Pour in marinated meat into the pan, with the marinade, of course. Keep it at the same temperature. If you have a dense vegetable, like a carrot, you may want to add that in with the meat - carrots take longer to cook than thinner layered veggies like bell peppers and onions. And I don't usually like crunchy carrots. So I went ahead and threw the slices in.

9) Keep an eye on the meat. move the pieces around to make sure they are browning properly. If the meat looks like it's taking a bath in the marinade, that's more than okay. You're kind of stewing the meat this way, but it assures that a) you're cooking it thoroughly, and b) you're keeping it tender. To speed this up, make sure your meat it covered with a lid ... the marinade should have a light bubble action going on ... remember ... SLOW.

10) Once you feel your meat has cooked enough (you'll notice the pieces shrink a little bit), then add your veggies. This step is dependent on how you like your veggies. If you like them to be crisper, then you can wait even longer. If you like them a little softer, you can add them sooner. Once you add the veggies, I recommend taking the lid off the wok/frying pan. You can keep it on, but it will make your veggies unduly mushy *shakes fist at boiling condensation!*...lift the lid off the rice pot, just to make sure nothing insane is going on, like yellowing rice, and little stove demons.

11) Add two halves of a lemon worth of juice to everything ... and stir. go ahead and give the marinade a taste at this point ... does it need anything? a couple more dashes of soy sauce? more pepper? if it's missing, at it in now.

12) The rice should be done by now, and should look like ...well... cooked rice. Take it off the heat, and let it cool a bit. Now take your stirfry off the heat, but make sure your veggies are at their desired level of soft/hardness. Once it's all done ... crack open a beer, pour a glass of red wine, and serve. You're done!

Recommended Stirfry tunage: Smells Like Teen Spirit, Patti Smith cover; She Came in Through the Bathroom Window, The Beatles; The Ragged Sea, Alexi Murdoch; Silverscreen, Jesca Hoop; Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, The Smiths ...

Sauces/marinades: The stirfry I made above, is kind of a generic Japanese-based stirfry, because of the soy-sauce base. If you want a more Thai-oriented stirfry, I suggest using a pre-packaged curry sauce. You can find these at more stores, in the "Asian aisle" of your grocery store. Also, in that same aisle, there are usually pre-packaged Indian sauces. If you want more of this flavor, I recommend not creating your own marinade, but applying the dry rub to the meat, putting the sauce into the wok/frying pan, then stewing the meat that way. Then, obviously, add your chosen veggies. What I try to achieve in my marinades is a multi-layered experience, which is why I tend to throw different things into it. I do not buy store bought marinades. They taste awful, and end up drowning your meat in whatever god-awful flavor it is. If you use ingredients that ENHANCE, rather than cover up, there's no way your marinade will fail. Other marinade ingredients that can be used in a marinade:

Red Wine (for red meat - any kind of red table wine)
White Wine (for chicken - almost always go for a chardonnay ... other white wines are usually too sweet)
various vinegars (be careful, a little vinegar can go a LONG way)
brown sugar (for red meat)
horseradish mustard

But try your own ... you never know what you'll like! This is the most exciting part of guerrilla cooking.

Veggies: In an ideal world, I would have had green beans in this stirfry. I thin green beans in stirfry is as important as cream cheese is to cheesecake. It's essential. But ... sometimes, green beans are not to be had. You can use any kind of vegetable you want, just be aware of it's density ... for example ... eggplant is probably going to cook faster than ... oh, say potatoes.

I tend to like these veggies in my stirfry:

snow peas
bell peppers
yellow, white, green, purple onions
bamboo shoots

Meat: When you go to the the butcher section, you can almost always find stirfry meat strips. I discourage you from using this, or even stew meat. The problem with these cuts is that they're typically from a tougher part of the cow - and while they're cheaper, they tend to get tough really fast. If you have the cash, get a nice marbleized NY Strip, or tri-tip. These cuts tend to make GREAT stirfry meat. If you can't afford them (NY Strips tend to be a bit pricey), flat iron steaks are another great option, and tend to be cheaper. Here is a site that will teach you all you need to know about choosing steak. Just ignore the part about going to a butcher ... it's nice if you can, but it's not necessary ... but pay attention to the marbling and the cut.

You can use any type of meat you want ... pork, chicken, seafood ... each one takes a different kind of prep. The whole meats like pork/beef steaks or chicken breasts, I recommend cutting into pieces before you cook - this way you're not double cooking. That's the best way to ruin a really great piece of meat. Seafood is quite a bit different, and a bit more finicky. Shrimp is my personal favorite, but with fillets of fish, you can do one of two things. You can cook the fish separately, or you can cut the fillets into cubes and put them in the way you would chicken or beef. Personally, I think this tends to make the fish flaky and fall apart, detracting from more whole pieces. And I like whole pieces. Ah well.

Fancy things: if you're feeling frisky (and have the ingredients), you can add some flair. Sesame seeds, crushed nuts: peanuts, almonds, cashews; sprouts ... sometimes extra crunch just adds a lovely and unexpected texture.

Okay. I think that's enough. My stirfry has been consumed, my beer has been drunk.

Now, on to dessert:

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Making something from nothing ...


So one of my hidden talents is that I can cook edible food. It's true.

Not many people know this, as I rarely cook for other living beings. [Or dead ones, for that matter. You'll find no zombies at my table!] The rarity of my food preparation has increased since moving back into my parents house. There's just something about having your own kitchen, to where foreign kitchens seem alien and, well, scary. Also, if I start cooking at home, I have to be prepared to make dinner for EVERYONE ... and ... I'm lazy. Ironically, my younger sister has been cooking up a storm this summer. Part of me thinks it's just to get out of doing dishes, but as she's actually quite adept at it, and her food is very edible, I don't mind.

I'm currently doing a brief stint as cat sitter at Lara's, so I have a kitchen. With privacy. I decided today that I was going to cook myself an actual dinner, so I made my way to Trader Joe's and wandered around looking for inspiration that wouldn't cost me more than $20.00. And I found it in the form of stirfry. I make a MEAN stirfry. I have several different varieties, in fact. They had some delightfully fresh and lean stewing meat, and I said, "yes please!" [note: if you can avoid it, do NOT buy stirfry meat from the grocery store ... thicker cuts are usually better.]

Also unknown about my cooking skills, is that I specialize in making a meal out of hardly anything at all. I can take ingredients from a cupboard and whip something completely new into existence. I don't boast about much, but I DO boast about this. I made a chicken dish for Lara once, when we had a bunch of random condiments, and chicken. That was it. I created, "Everything but the kitchen sink" chicken. I kid you not, it was pretty phenomenal. An example of ingredients: soy sauce, Italian dressing, oranges, wine, and cinnamon. Seriously. There were some other things in there, but I can't remember what they were. That's the one problem with inspiration - it doesn't ever get written down. Methodology escapes me, even at the best of times.

And because my thoroughness is often lacking concerning simple matters like checking for ingredients, or making annoying reminders like grocery lists - I simply go with what I have. So while at Trader Joe's, the only part of the stirfry that I actually purchased was the meat and two cloves of garlic. I knew Lara probably had some veggies and rice, though I wasn't totally sure. Part of the glory of instantaneous cooking is being able to casually deny just about anything and its absence from your kitchen. Think you might be out of pepper? Scoff at buying more! Who is ever out of pepper? Wonder if there's anything for a side-dish? Side-dishes are for wimps! Flatly deny any and all doubts that pop into mind, and live by this motto: "No guts, no glory!" [Remember - part of the fun is the absence of ingredients, and the gritty inspiration that comes with trying to make something from nothing.]

When I returned to Lara's apartment from the grocery store, I decided to make a marinade. I had meat and garlic, but what else? In surveying the contents of Lara's stores, I found lemon, salt, pepper, garlic powder, soy sauce, and olive oil. MORE than enough! I finely chopped a couple of cloves, created a spice rub, and mixy-mixy, dashy-dashy, and a squirt or two later, I had half a pound of steak sitting in plastic baggies filled with a marinade created haphazardly by yours truly.

I've been watching a LOT of the food network. A. LOT. And usually at times when I shouldn't - like at 11:30 p.m. on Sundays when, lying in bed, I'm cheering along the Iron Chef, watching Cat Cora create a seven course gourmet meal, with maple syrup as the featured ingredient. Watching maple-glazed salmon being prepared at 11:30 p.m. is just not a good idea. Because you know what you dream about? Maple syrup. And then you wake up craving maple syrup. FOR DAYS.

mmmmmmmmmmmmmm....Maple syrup....

Sorry, I'll stop drooling now.

Anyway, the Food Network has been advertising for "The Next Food Network Star." And I am not one for reality television. AT ALL. But. It occurred to me, in my guerrilla marinade creation-a-ganza, that I could really pull off my own cooking show. In fact, I think I'd call it "Guerrilla Cooking 101," or possibly, "Ten Ingredients or Less." Ooooohhh ... or how about, "Captain Indie and the Skillet?" The show would be geared toward single men and women between the ages of 21 and 40. I would have a normal, apartment-sized kitchen, with utensils that most people have, because let's face it - most folks don't own a lemon zester or a meat tenderizer. Sacrilegious, I know, but a reality nonetheless.

I'd gear the show toward people looking for minimal shopping, minimal time, but looking to impress lovers, friends, family, and earn the pride and glory that comes from creating the something from nothing. My kitchen would be complete with a portable ipod player, and would feature bands to listen to while cooking whatever slap-dash thing I was creating for the day. For example, when preparing BBQ or Grilling, I might play a band like The Old Crow Medicine Show, or Gillian Welch. While preparing a meal for vegetarians or Vegans, I might listen to Nirvana or Wilco. Spicy dishes? The Beatles, Vampire Weekend, and so on and so forth. And I could have guest cooks make their own guerrilla dishes, with tunage recommendations! This idea just keeps getting better and better!

Creating something from nothing, with minimal effort, time, and supplies - while jamming to tunes, and Trader Joe as the official supplier. Am I wrong in thinking that this could be the most awesome show ever?! And it would certainly solve my unemployment issue....
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Ode to another Polar Bear ...


There aren't many other polar bears in the world - not the metaphorical kind, though if we're talking literal bears, there won't be many of them left soon if global warming gets its way, but I digress. I can't think of very many people whom I could call a fellow polar bear. I suppose I should characterize this. To be a polar bear, one must be bold, one must have a certain something in one's appearance - but above all - one must have an absolute ferocity concerning that which they believe in.

In other words, Ted Kennedy is a polar bear.

I came home this evening from a meeting concerning an upcoming production of Macbeth, only to find out that the youngest child of Joe and Rose, passed away.

I can't quite believe it. Ted Kennedy has been the figurehead of liberal America for over 40 years. He fought hard for not only the citizens of Massachusetts, but all American citizens, pushing fiercely for gun control, greater rights for immigrants, a strong candidate for women's rights, a fierce protector of the environment, and one of the most outspoken advocates of civil rights for ALL people - not just whites, not just men, not just heterosexuals - ALL. He was the last REAL democrat; certainly the democrat that I compare others too. Barbara Boxer is now my last hope.

And while he was a Kennedy, privileged and affluent, he was possibly one of the best examples of what a politician should be. Sure, he was a flawed man. But that's part of what made him great - he knew he was flawed, but he worked so very hard to fight for what he believed in, despite his shortcomings. There was never anything in his political career that made me guess or question his motives; not one time where I didn't know where he stood. If you'd like to take a look at his rather impressive voting record, you can check it out here. (The only bummer I can see is that he voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act...)

Well, done, sir. Well done, and thank you. And although you're often referred to as the liberal lion of the senate, I beg to argue that you are, in fact, a polar bear.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

10 followers! Woohoo!


Having finished my last post, I discovered that I have 10 followers. WOOHOO! You have no idea how exciting this is to me. When I started this blog, I thought I'd be lucky if my followers amounted to my girlfriend, a few close friends, and maybe some really really bored acquaintances. I mean, that's pretty much who reads this now, but I didn't think there would be so many as 10! And this, my friends, is no mark against you ... I just often doubt my ability to be interesting on a frequent basis. (Ahhh...the joys of being a professional clown!)

This, surely, requires a celebration! So ... in honor of my 10 followers (you know who you are ... and who the others are too...they're listed on the right hand side...), here are 10 things that have made me happy in the last week (especially since my last post was a little...depressing). Hopefully there's at least one thing for each of you ...


"Wanna tank and spank?"

2. say it with me: "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh"

3. One of the reasons I love the Japanese:


5. Olympic Hockey!

6. Anne of Green Gables [See: Colleen Dewhurst]

7. Farmville!

8. Randomly awesome graphs!

9. Brie!

and finally...

10. The Golden Girls! "Thank you for being a friend!"

Honorable mentions:

South Park
The Food Network
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Happy thoughts

Polar Bear and the Case of the Mysterious Tax Boxes!


Being that my birthday is on tax day, my life has been involuntarily assigned to groans or looks of horror when the knowledge of my birthday is revealed.

"April 15th?! Tax Day?! UGH!"

Thanks. I'm glad I was born too. As a child, I could never understand what the fuss was all about, understandably, since I didn't have to file and/or pay taxes. As an adult, it's still not too bad. I simply resign myself to finishing my taxes by March 15th, thereby clearing the way for fun and frivolous preparations.

I filed for unemployment today. The ten years I've been contributing to the American workforce, diligently handing over obscenely large fractions of money from my (comparatively) meager pay checks so that that this country can try to function (or not, as the case may be), is about to pay off - just not in a way that I've ever wanted.

Let me explain something. I am proud to pay taxes - birthday groans included. I consider it as part of my duty, as a citizen of this country, to pay my taxes. I have never complained about the mysterious boxes on my pay summary that take money away from me. If anything, I've smiled wanly, knowing that the money in that unexplained box gets used for something good. Let's take one such mysterious box: The SDI tax.

Now, unless you're a tax wiz and know what these crazy government acronyms mean and what they do, you're probably like me, assuming that the acronym stands for something important, something worthwhile, and don't tend to question what your money is going toward. According to the Employment Development Department of California, the SDI Tax:

... provides temporary benefit payments to workers for non work-related disabilities. The SDI tax also provides Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. Paid Family Leave is a component of SDI and extends benefits to individuals unable to work because they need to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new minor child.

See? We birdbrains were right! The SDI tax does something important! HOORAY!

Now let's look at another mysterious box: The UI box. What could the letters U and I combined stand for (besides Urinal Inside, or Unicorn Intersection)? Well, they stand for the Unemployment Insurance tax. And if you've never seen this before, it's because this tax is payed for by employers. And again, according to the EDD:

The UI program is part of a national program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Social Security Act. The UI program provides temporary payments to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. UI is paid by the employer.

Both of these taxes are important - they go to help people with illness or new children or folks who simply can't get a job (which, as it happens, is quite a few these days). And I love paying these taxes! What I DO NOT love, is that I am now filing to receive benefits from them. Logically, having paid taxes for the better part of 10 years, I should be okay with this. After all, this is why we have these taxes, isn't it? This is what my money has gone toward.

But the reason I have a problem with applying to the EDD for unemployment, is that there are people who need the money more than I do. There are people who don't have the training, or the education, or the work experience that I do. There are people who are living in parks or street corners or freeway over passes who could use this more than me ... and the only reason I'm applying for it? Is because after 65+ job applications over the course of a month, I can't get so much as an interview.

This blog is brought to you by:

The Employment Development Department of California
Trader Joe's French Berry Lemonade
My Bachelor's of Arts Degree

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quandries for the week:


1) Why do financial companies like the Citi Group persist on making a bad situation worse? Why do they keep calling me, Ms. Non-Profit Theatre, and asking me if I'd like to change my career options? Wait ... don't answer that last one.

2) Why does itunes persist on selling "album only" songs? I don't want the album, I want the song! Kind of defeats the purpose, really. Record company licensing, perhaps?

3) How do conservatives draw parallels between Obama and Hitler?

4) Why couldn't Susan Coyne have written in a fourth Slings and Arrows season?

5) Why don't people study things they disagree with, rather than make blind, ignorant assumptions? If anything, it could make the argument better... I can argue about why Twilight is inferior reading. I've read all four of the damn things! The least you could do is read a play. Or like, go see it.

6) Why do certain quintessentially "American" things, actually turn out to be Canadian created? WP Kinsella, author of Shoeless Joe, otherwise known as the movie "Field of Dreams," is Canadian. Basketball was invented by a Canadian. Huh.

7) Why is the government offering money for "clunkers," in exchange for more fuel efficient cars, when we should be getting rid of cars together. Band aid solutions hurt my brain!

These are really in no particular order ... and do not need to be answered. They've just been chasing their tail around in my brain for the last week.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An Open Letter to Canada...


Dear Canada,

I've wanted to write to you for some time, but have always just been too shy. You see, I've had a not-so-mild crush on you since the tender age of 8, when I first stepped foot on your evergreen and moss-covered shores of Victoria. Since then, every pilgrimage I've made to you, be it to Vancouver, or Toronto, or even Niagara, has been like coming home. I breathe a sigh of relief, smile a wide smile, and prepare myself for superior beer, Hockey Night in Canada, and Tim Horton's. I spend my free time listening to your musical sons and daughters; The Weakerthans, Sarah Harmer, The Hip, Great Aunt Ida, Mother Mother, Arcade Fire ... even Gordon Lightfoot. I have experienced first hand the glory of Canadian irony, I can name all of your provinces, and I not only know what a toque is, but I can spell it!

But Canada, there's a problem. I'm not Canadian. I know, it's shocking. Here's this crazy, misplaced American, who can sing your national anthem, and can name Canadian authors other than Margaret Atwood or Lucy Maude Montgomery (The Ferguson Brothers - Ian and Will, Ann-Marie MacDonald, Michael Ondaatje, WP Kinsella, to name a few...); but you just don't seem to want to let me in. As soon as we get close, you pull away and make up some excuse like needing a work visa, or a sponsor.

And so I ask you, Canada, what's wrong with me?!

You woo me, you introduce me to amazing things, you show me sights unlike anywhere in the world, you are the mother of my friends and loved ones ... and yet ... I can't get in! Am I not cool enough for you? Have I not loved you enough? Have I not devoted enough of my free-time in learning more about you? I just don't understand!

Please know that I still love you very much, I just find myself continually frustrated that my attempts to become one with you continue to be thwarted or completely denied. What kind of a sick joke is it to promise hope in obtaining a work visa with the simple requirement of a job offer letter, only to have the hope repeatedly dashed to pieces by companies who are unwilling to hire one American, based solely upon my citizenship? Really?

I will keep trying, Canada. But for a country of only 34 million people, would one more really hurt all that much? I mean ... these guys are supposedly your scientists, and this is how they spend their time? Zombies are cool ... but theatre artists are better.

Sadly yours,
A Misplaced Polar Bear

PS - I make a mean mixed CD, I have a Bachelor's degree, and I am willing to sell my car and commute to work using public transportation. What more could you want?

Pretty, pretty pictures...


One of the best inventions of the internet age, is the stumble program. For those who may not know, it's a kind of customized search engine that brings things from the internet, to your browser, according to things you like. So if you like photography, hit stumble, and photos come right to you ... like funny videos? it will find that too. It's a marvelous little invention.

I went a-stumblin' last night, and there were a bunch of photos and art pieces that popped up, for a variety of different things. I thought I'd share them with you. Just because it's Tuesday.

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Trader Joe's Green Iced Tea
multi-grain crackers

Monday, August 17, 2009

Top 10 worst things about being an adult...


Let me just start this post off with saying I've spent the past 3.5 hours scouring the internet for jobs. My goal is to apply to 10. I've only found three which I am remotely qualified for [You know it's a bad sign when job postings require you to have a master's degree in rhetoric.]

So with that in mind ... I give you:

The 10 Worst Things About Being an Adult

1) Work. (Or the lack thereof) Sure, we have all this incredible social freedom, but what's it worth without an income? And while we can pick our chosen profession, this does not guarantee us a livelihood. In fact, as a child, adults are always saying that you can be whatever you want - but it's not true! They don't tell you about the ridicule, shaming questions, or abject disappointment when you tell them, 15 years later, that you want to be an artist, or a mechanic, or a game master. They don't tell you that "anything you want!" comes with conditions. Along with work comes the expectation of being a contributing member to society; but how can you contribute to the society, if the society doesn't want to hire you because you're either too qualified, or not qualified enough, or aren't the right nationality. [Bitter, party of one, still waiting to be seated.] Oh ... and whatever it is we choose to work at inevitably dictates the course of our lives, on a daily basis. Damn the man! I say we go back to a barter and trade system. I've got some corn and pelts, who has livestock? See? perfect.

2) Bills. We have to pay bills for all of those credit/financing/lifestyle choices we make. For example, the laptop I am using to write this post, I am getting closer to owning ... I have about $400.00 left to go. And I'm still paying off parts of college, and early post-college vagabond life. And you cannot be successful with this item if you don't have #1. Sleep, eat, work, pay bills, repeat. It's a vicious, vicious cycle.

3) Responsibility. Generally needed to succeed in both #1 and #2. And what are we supposed to take responsibility for as adults? EVERYTHING. Your life, work, bills, pets, being places on time, fulfilling promises, replacing broken items in stores, following rules, social engagements, marriage, divorce, cleaning routines, diet/exercise, appearance, children, taking care of self/others ... see? you feel tired and worn down already, don't you? And we're only on item #3. As a side-note, I probably should have put children higher on the list, like, even before pets. But seeing as how I don't have any, they'll stay where they are.

4) Consequences ... to EVERYTHING. What happens if you don't have a job? You have no money, which means you can't pay your bills which means your credit rating plunges into the toilet, and in an act of taking responsibility for all of this, you declare bankruptcy, and give yourself a seven year sentence to not being able to have any kind of equity whatsoever, making you, in essence, a vagrant, non-contributing member of society. Is any of it your fault? Probably not. Do you still have to pay for it? Absolutely. Consequences in the adult world are somewhat akin to pagan blood sacrifices in the days of yore; if your number is called, you're the poor sap that has to pay. Except that now, we like to draw consequences out into a tortuous length of time. Sudden death? No, no, no. Now we make you keep paying for the rest of your long, increasingly natural life. And I ask you, which is worse? Should I ask the poor sods sitting in a state penitentiary, who did nothing more than sell a few grams of weed?

5) Politics. Gone are the halcyon days of childhood, when everything came down to a question of what is "fair." Gone is the dictum of living by the Golden Rule, not just for yourself, but where the actions of others are concerned. Gone is the illusion that truth is the highest accomplishment to be achieved, and if you mess up, it's okay, so long as you're honest! The virtues so carefully instilled during formative years are smashed like sugar glass bottles breaking over stunt men's heads. Now there's jockeying, and ladder climbing, and corporate suicide, and federal indictments, and leaders who lie to cover up their own asses. We were told not to pay attention to the man behind the curtain, until suddenly (and without warning), he reveals himself, and you realize that the man is actually the monster that you thought was hiding in your closet, or under your bed, only worse, because now that monster is making decisions and judgments about your life that you didn't authorize.

6) Your body throws a coup d'état, and doesn't invite you. Creaky bones, insomnia, food digestion issues, memory lapses, inexplicable achy-ness; and that's only in your late 20's! Suddenly, the taste of your own mortality ingests itself into your awareness, and you hear yourself say, "I'm getting old." What?! No! Inconceivable! Is it the end of the world?! No. Is it a call for you to stop staying out until 4:00 a.m. on a regular basis? Absolutely. Is it a warning that you better start reading gender-based health magazines (see: Men's Health or Self Magazine), or at the very least, cut down on the amount of nutritionless garbage you deposit into your system? BINGO. This is the first physical sign of "adulthood" - one of those points in time when you're mind and body fuse together. In other words, welcome to adulthood, baby! You are invincible no more.

7) Self-control. Or perhaps I should say the illusion of self-control. When we're little, we don't have to have self-control; we are certainly trained to have it, but if we have the occasional tantrum, it's no big deal - in fact sometimes, it's even allowed; too tired, hungry, or upset ... let everything out, cry yourself to sleep, wake up in a couple of hours, right as rain. As adults, we are not supposed to lose control. Losing control is not only frowned upon, but in some places, they'll admit you to the psychiatric wing of a hospital. And the reality is that we still have tantrums ... we're just supposed to smother them into submission. How much healthier would we be if we could just throw the occasional tantrum, and got over the proverbial it? Because, if we submit to any loss of control, that might make things like mental health days relevant and accepted. And would we even need the term, "Going postal?"

8) The expectation of what an adult is and how they should act, is ironically, a terrible imposition. There are certain basic, primal functions, like the ability to acquire food, the ability to procreate, the ability to find to shelter against adverse weather. There are tougher requirements, like the ability to reason with logic, to be practical with important things like money and one's store of grain. Then there are blurry, cultural and emotional must-have's in our arsenal, such as etiquette and manners, humility, graciousness, the discussions of sober and serious things, like poverty, or relationships, or global-warming. The reality, however, is that when we're by ourselves, we are not so serious or sober ... some of us play video games, some of us are obsessed with Harry Potter, some of us sports fanatics, or collect bizarre things like miniatures. The point is, when we're out at something neutral, i.e. not with our close friends, like a corporate party, or an acquaintances' luncheon, we don't start talking about our wicked World of Warcraft crit rating, or the awesome hit in last night's hockey game, or the fact that you own an authentic re-creation of a Lord of the Rings sword (Anduril) at the age of 32. We don't divulge the best/most interesting parts of ourselves, for the same reason we learned not to in Middle School: social suicide. And to me, that's just sad.

9) This one goes along with #8, but I think it's slightly different - and that's the illusion of self-reliance ... which, to some degree, I think it's also an expectation - albeit a very specific one. As adults, we're supposed to be self-sufficient, not need anything, or anyone - and if we do, we have to get it for ourselves ... or are expected to get it for ourselves, and if we don't, then we somehow fail. which leads me to...

10) Asking for help. But part of what becoming an adult entails, is knowing when to ask for help, and this is perhaps one of the hardest lessons to learn, especially when #8 and #9 play such a huge role. It is a lesson in over-coming pride and one's own expectations of one's self, breaking down years of other people telling you what to do, how to behave, and instilled expectations. The hard part is letting go and discovering what you need. And there's no shame in asking other people for help. Providing you are prepared to help others when they come knocking. Because would you be an adult without responsibility?
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Friday, August 14, 2009

The more you know...


...the more IQ points you lose.

Random. Definitely disturbing. Slightly interesting. According to

Cougar: An older heterosexual woman in pursuit of a much younger man.

Leopard: lesbian version of a cougar.

OWL: Same as Leopard, stands for Older. Wiser. Lesbian.

Panther: gay male version of a cougar.

Rooster: same as Panther, but a positive connotation (handsome older man).

Chicken Hawk: same as Panther, but a negative connotation (predatory, pedophile).

Faguar: a) same definition as Chicken Hawk...
b) a straight woman who pursues a gay man

on the other end...

Dragon: A younger lesbian in pursuit of a much older lesbian, for financial reasons.

Cougler: A young, heterosexual man in pursuit of a much older women, for experience/emotional reasons.

Candyboi: A young gay man being kept (financially) by an older man.

Houseboi: same as Candyboi.

Uhm. Who makes this stuff up?? I know, I probably shouldn't have posted this, but I find it oddly fascinating. Like a bad train wreck.

Casey Kasem has nothin' on me ...


My BFF Phoenix posted a two-part blog series about the top 10 Worst and Best aspects of being a woman. This was a brave endeavor, for no other reason than the making of a top 10 anything takes lots of brain power. Careful deliberation must paid to every single item and its placement. And what if you forget something? Do you scrap what you have and start again? Do you substitute the new item in for a less worthy one? Why was there a less worthy one in the first place? Were the right items picked in the first place? Does this make any sense?

See? That's a lot of effort for one measly little list!

But sometimes, finding 10 of anything is just ridiculously hard. I'll prove my point. I am going to make a list about the 10 Best and Worst things about being an adult. Why? Well, why not. This blog is being created for the simple, and somewhat decadent fact that I had cheesecake for breakfast. And because of that ...

10 Best Things about being an Adult:

1. Getting to eat anything you want for breakfast. Ice cream, brownies, cold pizza, left-over pasta, various forms of alcohol, and yes ... cheesecake. It's your life, don't you forget ...

2. "I get by with a little help from my friends..." I think the best thing, in *my* adult experience has been the pride and continued joy over my ability to pick awesome friends. Especially because I didn't have many friends when I was growing up ... not real friends. But now, as an adult, I have friends whom I can call at 3:00 a.m. if I need them, I have friends I can depend on, talk to, laugh and cry with ... and that's important. Particularly when you're rejected from jobs or grad school, end a relationship, lose a family member, or simply need to be reminded of your own greatness.

3. Excuses. I'm being serious. One of the best weapons in an adult's arsenal. Gone are the days when you were rudely carted here and there without so much as, "By your leave." Work, kids, no time, classes, lack of sleep, family ... now you can use one to excuse yourself from another. Don't want to go to Aunt Bessie's Tupperware party? You have work, and/or can't find a babysitter for the kids. Don't want to go to work? Your Aunt Bessie is in the hospital, of course, you're losing sleep with the worry, to the point of feeling ill yourself! As an adult, not only can you get away with it, but it works! It's like a secret code; that weird thing that your mom would do, but you could never quite catch her in a bald-faced lie. After all, you weren't the keeper of the master schedule. It may not be admirable ... but we all do it.

4. There is a certain thrill in adulthood that comes with doing mundane, and otherwise burdensome chores. Have to clean the bathroom? No problem. Laundry? Consider it done. Dishes? pwned! And WHY is this?? Because there's a magic barrier that's crossed once one finally lives on their own ... once one is the king/queen of one's own castle, chores cease being chores, and become part of a routine; sure, maybe not a *strict* routine, but routine nonetheless. When we were in the process of doing these "routines" for our parents, under the oppression of childhood labor, we called them chores. But now, the sense of productivity and accomplishment is astounding. You could sit around and do nothing but laundry all day, and still feel accomplished! This is what I call progress.

5. The end of censorship! At least on an individual level; I'm not currently able to take on the MPAA/media machines all on my own, at this time. I do assure you, I'm working on it. BUT! Now, I can go out and re-purchase that Dr. Dre album I bought when I was 11, that my dad made me bicycle back to The Wherehouse and exchange, largely because of the parental advisory label on the front. Okay, no, he didn't "make me" ... but he "strongly advised it." So of course, that's what I did. The irony is that I *wouldn't* buy a Dr. Dre album today. No offense to Mr. Dr. Dre, it's just not my thing.

6. Say it with me: NO. MORE. PERMISSION. SLIPS. EVER! I'm sorry, but even as a child, I had a huge problem with needing my parents' permission for things like museum trips or historical societies. I'm the one going, I should have my own say! Who cares if I couldn't drive or get myself to the hospital if hurt. Now? I come, I go, I visit, I pay admittance ... I drive, I pay for gas, and lunch. Please bear in mind that I was a silently independent child ... I did what I was told, but secretly hated it. I am an Aries, after all.

7. The mighty power of Ownership. There's nothing like the feeling when you make your first LARGE purchase ... we have small tastes of this in high school or college, when you save a few hundred dollars to buy that one thing, or maybe you were a highly advanced teenager, and purchased your first (used) car on your own. But I mean LARGE purchases ... purchases over the tune of $5,000 ... I'm talking your first new car, your first house/condo, your first state-of-the-art computer ... Ahhhhh ... the power of financing, the pride, the validation! Who cares that our economy is in the toilet ... buy, buy, buy! Why? Because you can; you have credit!

8. Independent money source/storage. Sure, you may not have a lot of it, but it's still yours; no more asking mom or dad to withdraw money for you, or telling you what to do with it. (This item does typically hinge on the small detail of being gainfully employed, but like I said, small detail.)

9. The continuing growth and refinement of our taste buds. You think I kid? I do not! When I turned 20, I had a sudden craving for coffee, and voila! I loved coffee! Two months after my 21st birthday, insta-need for beer. Shazam! I heart beer! If I didn't have the massive affinity for coffee and beer that I currently have, who KNOWS what I would use to fill the void; cigarettes, mallow bars, everclear ... cocaine? Who knows. And then there's the gourmet foods - avocado, spinach, quiches, prosciutto, lox, brie? What would the world be without good food?? Kraft can only get you so far in life! Yeah, I'm looking at you, Clifton ....

10. Free use of the stove top. Do you remember back to when you couldn't operate the stove, via the means of parental decree? And I could cook (rudimentary) by the time I was 9. Now, lemon chicken, pan-seared steak, mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables. Don't like Aunt Rose's meat aspic? Make something yourself, and tell her you're allergic to gelatin. The stove is my minion! You know, unless I'm eating the cheesecake that my sister made ... for breakfast...

This blog is brought to you by:

Tully's coffee
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My sister's cheesecake
Res ipsa loquitur
Casey Kasem

Unscientific poll No.2 ...


So as part of my on-going series of unscientific polls inquiring as to regional cryptid animals around the world, we move on to El Chupacabra...

Now, the Chupacabra is a relatively new cryptid. The first report of this animal didn't occur until 1995, which surprised me, actually. There was, in fact an X-Files episode that aired the creature, and a few of the subjects who replied to this poll noted that X-Files was where they learned about it.

More interesting, perhaps, is that I actually think this poll is more reflective of the creature, in perspective of the region where it supposedly inhabits.

Look! I made a graph!! All by myself!!!

(Please marvel at my brilliance, this doesn't happen very often...)

So here's the graph ... the blue bars represent "yes" answers by region, red bars "no" answers. The numbers on the Y Axis (oh yes, I know what a Y axis is!) are the number of votes for each type of answer. There were 15 votes total. Maybe next time I'll figure out how to make the bars based off of percentages.

I found it interesting, that out of the 3 people from the middle region (midwest) one person had heard of the Chupacabra, and the two others had not. For the record, the subject from the Midwest who DID know about the Chupacabra, learned about it on Scooby Doo.

The Southern region is unsuprising, considering that the Chupacabra generally is attributed to Mexico and Central America, and with the high population of Latinos living in the Southern states is very high; word travels. In fact, that's how I knew what a Chupacabra was ... Sarah Perez told me about it in the 6th or 7th grade. I think she might have been threatening me in a passive agressive way, but I don't remember.

Yay for the Chupacabra! I mean, unless you're a goat.
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Blue Moon Ale
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