Consumer Reports: Patterson House

We spend our entire childhoods sitting around fantasizing about all the cool stuff we’d be doing, if only we could drive and didn’t live with our parents. Then, we grow up and find out that adulthood is just shorthand for “people keep sending you bills, the cat puked on the rug, and the woman in your office thinks 80 degrees is room temperature.” Well, ok. You can eat cookies for breakfast and then call your mom to tell her all about it. “Hey, mom, I just called to say that I’m lying in bed, eating Lucky Charms with no milk. Love you! Bye!”

Being an adult also allows you to go to bars like Patterson House. It feels strange to even call this place a bar, though. It’s not smoky, not filthy, not filled with Tool Academy rejects and not a place where you have to throw your breasts on the bar to get a drink.

The foyer has shelves of books accessorized with lists of rules such as “preserve the sexy” (the dress code) and “no shenanigans.” Once you make it past the foyer (it may be a while, especially on a Saturday), you’ll be seated by a hostess and presented with an embossed, ribbon-tied menu.

The drinks in that menu are made with a certain level of pride and class. They’re sorted by flavor and designed to work with the alcohol, not in spite of it. In short, this is not a place you go to get drunk and exchange numbers with people (another of the rules is that guys aren’t supposed to talk to females unless the females speak first). This is a place to go and have an experience that happens to involve alcohol. Taste and experience is the endgame, not getting trashed.

As you may have guessed by now, all this means that the drinks cost a little more, but not much. A drink that would cost you 8 bucks at the Red Door is about 11 at Patterson House. That’s if you could get a Winter Sidecar at Red Door, which you can’t. Besides, you don’t drink a Winter Sidecar in a PBR-themed room while being pelted with Led Zeppelin and cigarette smoke. It would be wrong.

Because I’m a goth stereotype, I got something called Corpse Reviver #2. It’s not a Patterson House specialty drink, so technically it would be possible to get it at a regular bar, but I doubt that it would be the same. It’s citrusy and a bit like a punch in the face, but has a slight licorice aftertaste because of a smidge of Absinthe.* It’s a bit like a Blue Valium’s more interesting cousin. No, wait. It makes a Blue Valium look like a stripper who’s going to community college to learn data entry.

Aside from specialty drinks which will make you want to return several times so you can taste them all, the menu has some food. No chili cheese fries and nachos, my friends, but there are s’mores and sammiches. The cinnamon donuts we ordered were slightly crispy outside, hot and soft inside, and fairly akin to touching the hand of God.

Now that I’ve told you about the wonders of Patterson House (who, by the way, should let me do their web site), let’s make a deal. You guys will agree to not flood the place at times when I want to go, and I’ll agree to go early to avoid standing in the foyer for an hour. Deal?

*So the goth folk won’t bombard me with similar comments, I’ll point out that American absinthe is really just anise-flavored liquor. If you want thujone/wormwood, you’ll have to have it shipped in from Europe.

Consumer Reports: Gigi’s Cupcakes

For somebody who doesn’t make cake for a living and doesn’t really get excited about food in general, I sure care a lot about cake. I don’t need an occasion. I don’t need candles. I’m a little racist against ice cream cakes, but who isn’t? Then again, ice cream cake is still a dessert (if not actually a cake), so it is my friend…or at least my frenemy.

Given my love for all things sugary, several people have asked if I’d had a cupcake from Gigi’s. Jen and I had meant to go, but never got around to it, which was probably just as well. Gigi’s makes different flavors everyday, so there was the potential that I would become like a kid collecting Pokemon: I’d have to taste all of them. It could be dangerous. Like locking Christian Audigier in a room with glitter and a glue gun.

Alas, Audigier did get his glitter (thus giving the world Ed Hardy) and I got some cupcakes. I only ate half of one. See? I was good. Ish.

The cupcake in question was red velvet with a creamy vanilla filling. I won’t tell you my exact words, but I may have compared the filling to a substance that would be expelled by the son of God in a moment of joy. Since the cupcake itself was so soft and moist (this keeps getting more and more unladylike), I held mine by the icing. The icing had a little crust on it after sitting until evening, so it was totally holdable.

After nomming through the red/creamy goodness of the bottom, I was left with a palm full of cake icing. A palm full of cake icing. That sounds like something I would want engraved on my tombstone. “Here’s lies (evil)amy: lover of a palm full of cake icing.” It was delicious, and so sweet it made my dental work scream a little. “Oh my God…I think I need to be alone with this cupcake for a moment.”

As I was telling my mom of this wonderfulness, I looked up the Gigi’s in Lexington, KY. “Mom, you’re so screwed. It’s two streets from your house.”

“I’ll have to check that out sometime. Do they have carrot cake? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Tomorrow is carrot cake day.”

“Oh, well, I have to get a cataract removed, and Kelly is driving me. Maybe some other time.”

“I bet Kelly likes cupcakes.”

“Stop it!”

(Cupcake day schedule is available at Gigi’s site.)

Sun Maid Raisins: pandering to the cyborg demographic.

As design becomes more aand more computerized, corporations (in their “slower than molasses” way) have been shaking the dust from their old logos and moving into “LOGO 2.0!”

Days Inn changed their old-school 70s sun to a “rays and gradients” affair which will probably eventually look as dated as…well, the old-school 70s sun. Still, a fake reflection or a sun ray never gave anyone nightmares. It’s not like they gave the sun a face and rendered it in CGI or anything.

Exhibit A: Sun Maid Raisins’ packaging from 1915, featuring a drawing of an actual person (her name was Lorraine Collett).

A couple more revisions took place in 1923, 1956; she’s starting to look a little demonic…

…but Sun Maid pulled their butts out of the “I make raisins, but also kind of want to eat your brains” fire in 1970, when they pur forth the maid that most of us know:

Does she look a little like a Geisha on Wellbutrin? Well, yeah, but the only thing that’s a bit freaky and 70s is that sun in the background. But wait! I promised you unsettling CGI nightmare monsters, and I intend to keep my promises. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to Sun Maid 2K! She has a freakishly large mouth! Arms made of plastic! Boobs from Soul Calibur!

She’s doing yoga, for Christ’s sake. Yoga in a BONNET. She’s even made her way into a commercial which, from the looks of the mouth modeling, is either a cut scene from Fable or a final project of someone who went to Nossi.

Widowmaker: The Horror

Some people have bad hair days. Thus far, I’ve been having a bad hair lifetime. We’ve been at odds for over thirty years now, with my hair being full of cow licks yet devoid of body, and me punishing it for just being itself. It has survived being permed, colored, and put into ponytails of all sizes and configurations. As my mom would say, “fried, dyed, up and tied.” My hair even survived middle school mall bangs. That the picture is from DANCE team, not cheerleading. I will admit to being the co-captain but will point out that I wanted to dance to Prince and not Vanilla Ice. We spelled out “ICE” with our pompoms at the end. Shoot me in the face.

Anyway, I can understand why my hair would hold a little ill will toward me. It has devoted its life to burning out vacuum cleaners and clogging shower drains, when not sticking to the insides of my shirts and tickling me. When shopping for vacuums, I refer to my hair as The Widowmaker. Last night, it went too far.

I had already cleaned out the part of the shower drain that I could reach, and the shower was still draining slowly. I emptied a bottle of Drano into it with no luck. In a moment of insanity, I reached out of the shower and grabbed the plunger. This accomplished nothing, aside from shoving the clog further into the pipes and filling the water pooled at my ankles with chunks of tried rubber and microscopic, mentally horrifying fecal matter.

“What have I done? I might as well have just stuck my feet in the toilet.” HORROR.

So, I stepped out of the shower (washing the lower half of my legs AFTER stepping out of The Horror, as if that would help) and went to Home Depot to seek out Red Devil Lye.

I strongly suspect that Red Devil is illegal or out of business, because it’s hard to find now. Instead, I got Drano “Kitchen Crystals,” which I took for a good substitute because they come in a metal can which yells “DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING.” A good life strategy in general, especially if you’ve just swallowed lye and value your esophagus.

When the kitchen crystals didn’t work after I poured them into the regular drain, I took off the cover to the overflow trap and poured some in there. Toxic vapors? Yes. Draining tub? No.

So, I went to the ghetto hardware store close to my house and got a hand crank snake, per Google. While this gave me a good workout and allowed me to stick my hands into water swimming with lye, it only produced one small bit of hair. One pipe hasn’t produced this much frustration since Baby Jessica. Before I called a plumber, I’d try one more thing. Liquid Fire.

This was what the salesman tried to sell me the FIRST time I went to the hardware store, but I wanted to try the snake because the bottle of Liquid Fire kind of scared the shit out of me. You can pour an entire can of Kitchen Crystals in a tub and (apparently) wade around in it. The Liquid Fire bottle pretty much said that my legs would be reduced to oozing stumps the very millisecond they came in contact with Liquid Fire. The warnings read like the Happy Fun Ball commercial from SNL. DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT LIQUID FIRE. DO NOT TAUNT LIQUID FIRE.

It took two rounds, but the Liquid Fire eventually cleared the clog. I thoroughly cleaned the shower, giving it an extra spray of bleach, just to ease my mind about the whole “might as well stick my foot in the toilet” thing.

Side bar: Liquid Fire AND Kitchen Crystals smell like perm solution, which should definitely make you never want to get a perm. If nothing else, perming will make your hair angry. You do NOT want to make your hair angry. Trust me on this.

Consumer Reports: Neutrogena Age Shield Face

Readers, I have a neurotic obsession with staying out of the sun, and it’s not about just being pale enough to see my inner organs functioning. It’s also about how I can feel the sun blazing down on me, giving me wrinkles, whenever it hits me directly. I’m not a fan. Thus, I’ve spent my adult life looking for a sunblock that I can wear on my face that doesn’t make me feel all gross, like I’ve just slathered myself with Crisco. Neutrogena has come close in the past, but even they couldn’t come up with something with an SPF higher than 15 without making me feel nasty.

Until now.

Does the discovery of a sunblock that comes in SPF 90+ warrant an entire blog post? Only if it really delivers on its promises. Neutrogena Age Shield Face does. In 31 years, it’s the only sunblock I’ve put on my face, only to forget that I was wearing sunblock. It’s really DOES soak in and feel like you’re not wearing anything, and it doesn’t even have an overbearing “remind you that you’re wearing sunblock” smell. Love, love, love.

PS: I am not getting paid to say any of this, no matter how much like an infomercial it may sound. Just sayin.

10 Tips for Real Estate Agents and House Flippers.

As someone who’s shopping for a home, I thought I’d write an open letter to the real estate agent community. Just a few little tips for these troubling times in real estate. Smooches.

1. Don’t Bullshit Me.
Do not list “stained glass window” in your listing, only to let me drive all the way to East Nashville to find out that it’s a stick-on decal that LOOKS like stained glass. Ugly stained glass, I might add. Do not say that the bathroom is tiled and let me find out that it is, in fact, hollow plastic tiling. “New roof” and “patched roof” are not the same thing. Doing things like this makes you look like a dick, and makes me wonder what else you’re lying about. It makes me not only NOT want to buy your house, it makes me want to punch you in the dick.

2. Don’t Bullshit The System.
Do not upload a second copy of a picture that’s already on your web site just so the listing will appear as “new photo alert” in my email. Also, do not change the price of the house 3 dollars so that it appear as “price change alert.”

3. Pictures = important.
How are you going to expect me to drive all the way across town when you can’t even be bothered to take some pictures of the interior of the house? Maybe the interior is completely jacked-up? Either way, I’m either not going to bother pursuing the house, or I’m going to visit the house and SEE how jacked-up it is. The truth is going to come out, so it might as well come out in a fashion that doesn’t involve me driving for 20 minutes.

4. If I drive out there, make sure I can get in.
It is exceedingly irritating to take time off work and schedule an appointment, only to get to the house to find that the person who was supposed to be home is now NOT home…even through I set an appointment. Seriously, do you want to sell this house or not? Cause it seems like you don’t.

5. Bother to make the house presentable.
If I were a listing agent and someone came to me and said, “hey, I want to sell this house, but I have piles of crap everywhere,” you know what I’d say? “Rent a storage unit and call Professional Organizer Person.” OK, so the listings in my price range aren’t exactly the kind that one would want to pay to have professionally “staged,” but you could at least bother to not have a giant, rabid pit bull caged up in each room of the house. Just make SOME effort.

6. Your Photoshopping isn’t fooling anyone.
If there’s a big stain on the carpet, people are going to find out when they look at the house. Don’t Photoshop it out of the pictures. If you MUST Photoshop it out of the pictures, do a good job at it. Use the clone tool instead of the blur tool. If the stain on the carpet is dark red and NOT blood, tell me what it IS.

7. Don’t half-ass the renovation.
I know nothing about renovating, and even I can sniff out when “tile” is really vinyl. I will bend down and feel the floor, and I will feel the “tile” in the bathroom. I will feel the “stained glass.” I notice when you do a sloppy paint job. Have some pride in your work as well as your wallet, and don’t put industrial low-pile berber in a house.

8. “Bars on windows” is not a feature, no matter how many exclamation points you put after it.

9. “Walk-in closet” means that a grown man could walk into it, not my cat.

10. Just say no to Boob Lights. They’re not that much cheaper than good lights, and they look half ass. And like boobs.

Consumer Reports: P&G eSaver

Fo shizz!Housewives all over America swear that it’s possible to save a bundle by clipping coupons. Maybe, but do I really want to spend my life snipping things just to save a quarter on some damn toothpaste? Nein! It’s a lot more alluring when you make it easy for me by putting them on a web site.

“But Amy,” you say, “the toner that it takes to print one of those damn things costs more than a quarter! Besides, it’s such a pain in the ass when the coupon won’t scan and the checker freaks out.”

Nay, readers. What if you could click a little checkbox and load the coupon onto your KrogerPlus card? That’d be pretty darn easy, right? And you KNOW you’re gonna buy that alcohol-free Crest mouthwash, even though it costs more. You might as well save fifty cents.* Yeah, you have to enter the numbers on your Kroger card in order for the coupon to be loaded to your account, but Big Brother has already known you for years anyway. For 2 dollars off Pantene conditioner, Big Brother can study my tofu purchases all he wants. Now science just has to invent a way to deliver the coupons directly to my house via Depp.

Get you some coupons.

*If you’re not using alcohol-free mouthwash, you should start. The non-burning allows you to hold the wash in your stanky yap long enough for it to work like it’s supposed to. The lack of alcohol also keeps your moth from drying out and becoming more stanky than it was in the first place. Also, alcohol-free mouthwashes typically use cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) to kill germs, which helps the mouthwash fight plaque and gingivitis better than alcohol (thanks, google!).

Consumer Reports: Scary Birth Control

When looking at the various types of birth control on the market, I really shouldn’t be horrified by Essure. I mean, is it really that much scarier than pumping yourself full of hormones so as to fool your body into thinking that it’s pregnant? Is it really that much scarier than spermicide? Is it really that much scarier than inserting a copper coil into your uterus to kill sperm? It shouldn’t be, but somehow Essure is very unsettling.

So, what is it? A coil made of metal is inserted into your fallopian tube, irritating the tissue there so that it closes up the fallopian tube with scar tissue. Perhaps this is better explained with a diagram?

There’s also a scary animation.

Consumer Reports: juice, lotion…ass effects?

JooooseItem 1

Ocean Spray has finally gotten wise and come out with Diet Cranberry Juice Cocktail, and they’ve gotten it down to 5 calories a serving. Is it as sweet as the regular stuff that has, like, 90 calories a serving? Well, no. But it’s still pretty darn good and is second only to pomegranate juice when it comes to antioxidants. I pray that this product becomes to popular that Kroger comes out with a store brand of diet cranberry juice, ideally also extending the idea to the cran-raspberry blend. SO tasty.

Smellin goodItem 2

It’s one of my goals in life to constantly smell like a dessert item, and Vaseline’s line of cocoa butter stuff makes me smell like a custard donut from Krispy Kreme. It also moisturizes really well, so it’s good for elbows, hands, knees, and feet. It comes in lotion, tube, and (my fave) body butter. You will smell tasty. Promise.

Item 3

With all of the prescription drugs around these days, they must be running low on possible names. Oh sure, Wyeth scored some points by naming a new form of birth control after an 80s synthpop band (Yaz), but Bristol-Myers Squibb has upped the ante by naming its new acid reflux drug Aciphex. Say it out loud. Yep. Some agency somewhere got paid a lot of money to think of that and, somehow, it got past multiple layers of white dudes in suits without anyone saying, “hey, you know…this kind of sounds like ‘ass effects.'” Maybe The Boss thought of the name and no one had the balls to naysay him. Maybe the people working in the marketing department were feeling a little disgruntled. Either way, it bring to mind anal pyrotechnics of the Jackass variety. Eeexcellent.