Cure for Insomnia: The Fruit Alphabet

July 17, 2006

While falling asleep recently, I was thinking about all the fruit out there, and whether there is a fruit for every letter of the alphabet. You know, apple, banana, cherry… I didn’t get far. I fell asleep around ‘honeydew.’ The next night, I tried again. Same thing. The fruit alphabet, it turns out, is a perfect cure for insomnia.

I don’t know if the fruit alphabet works for chronic insomnia, and it definitely won’t conquor sleeplessness induced by three cups of coffee before bed. Where it’s proven to work is those occasions where your body is exhausted and ready to sleep, but your brain is running all over the house, pants on fire, frantic with anger, worry, or plain old excitement.

Once the brain really gets going, no amount of willpower can halt its production of spectacularly useless thoughts: it’s like trying NOT to think of a white pony. The trick is replace those thoughts with a subject interesting enough to hold your attention but repetitive enough to make you sleepy. Counting sheep is too simple—the mind gets bored and starts wandering back down those dark alleys, rooting through the trash. Reading is too complicated—the mind is already too riled up to take in the words. But the fruit alphabet! Like a beautiful but dim-witted date, it’s at once perfectly boring and supremely engaging. One minute you’re debating whether ‘tomato’ counts as a fruit, the next the alarm is ringing.

Sure, you could do the alphabet with just about anything: dog breeds, tree types, obscenities (surprisingly easy) US cities (surprisingly hard). But I’m sticking with fruit simply because there’s something stupidly delightful (deliciously retarded?) about it. It’s hard to feel bad and focus on fruit at the same time. Sweet dreams!

PS Should you get stuck, some very wonderful person has already put the whole fruit alphabet online. But you already knew X is for Xigua, didn’t you.




July 11, 2006

At the Borders on Columbus Circle yesterday, I was struck by all the different bibles for sale. There were two full bookcases: you can choose your format, your translation, your favorite font. There are bibles specially for Catholics, for women, for Gnostics and for those who want The Word with a dose of commmentary from Oral Roberts. is even more Amazing. Search on ‘holy bible’ to weed out stuff like ”The Big Bible of Bar-B-Q” and you still get 111,888 results.

Which gave me a phenomenal money-making idea: start a press that prints customized bibles designed to lend credence to each reader’s personal beliefs and lifestyle choices. In the middle of a dispute, you could pull out your MyBible and say, ‘Look here. Jesus opposes trade tarrifs!’ Or, ‘But it says in verse nine–Love thy neighbor’s wife.‘ Or, ‘Are you kidding? Jesus loves the Mets!’

For $10 extra, the reader could appear in the illustrations–seated next to Jesus at the Last Supper, for example; perhaps as Jesus himself. Or, if they were feeling saucy, as Judas.

We could offer a downloadable digital edition for the iPod, which you could edit to suit your evolving ideas and lifestyle choices. No need to follow the tired morality of last winter’s self. During weekends and holidays, you could set your MyBible to ‘vacation mode’ and indulge without guilt. Updates, of course, would automatically apppear on your MySpace profile.

My Phone: a Memorial

July 6, 2006

Last winter I dropped my phone. In the toilet. In the ladies room at work. Upon retrieval, the little LG was speaking in tongues and displaying scenes from 2001 Space Odessey. I turned it off, I turned it on, and it had a message: Service Required. So I called my provider (I won’t give away the name, but it sounds a lot like “Verizon Wireless”) and they told me the only thing they could do was sell me a new phone, at full price.

No. I took the phone home, removed the battery and put it in the oven for a good bake on the “warm” setting, followed by a half hour in front of the blow dryer. It sprang back to life. I thought that was pretty cool, although the first friend I called wanted to know if I’d washed the phone before dialing. I guess he was worried about getting toilet germs in his ear.

I had six more months with my phone until May rolled around and it went dead again. I took it to the Verizon Wireless store for repair. The rep took the battery off the back and shot me an accusing stare: “This phone got wet!” It turns out there’s a little white dot on the inside of the phone that turns pink when submerged. The only thing he could do was sell me a new phone, at full price. So I took it home. Oven, blow dryer. Ta-da.

This time the effect didn’t last as long. Two or three weeks would go by and then the phone would need another treatment. My guess is that it collected moisture faster in the summer humidity. But we were making do until this past weekend when I put it in the oven with the battery on, and forgot about it. The phone came out blazing hot and made one final call before it died for good.

But there was some payoff. Apparently, those extra months put me far enough along in my contract to qualify for an early upgrade. Instead of paying the full suckers-only price for my new silver RAZR phone tonight (I know, the RAZR was hot two years ago, before they invented telepathy) I paid the new subscriber price, saving roughly $1 billion. Winnah!


July 5, 2006

We went to the discount store yesterday to buy a French press and spotted a stainless steel, stove-top percolator. It looks like, and sort of is, a piece of camping equipment. Boy Scouts would use it, if they took coffee breaks. It seemed American, as opposed to the Frenchy-ness of the French press. Also, a goomba passing in the aisle said, “Best way to make coffee…if you like it good and strong.”

I drank three cups of percolated coffee this morning and feel like I am going to explode with happiness and nerves. I feel as if I will disco to the subway train. The guy is right. The coffee is strong, and it is good.

Now try Googling “percolated coffee”. The internet thinks I’m doing it wrong, that I should have gone for the French press. Even the Wikipedia entry sniffs that percolated coffee is out of fashion. It’s weird; now I feel like I’ve been outrageously rebellious buying this percolator. After all, everyone who knows anything about coffee knows that this is an inferior method. And caring about your coffee is one of those markers, you know, of intelligence and sophistication. I bet if you mapped out the percolator households and the French press households, they would perfectly correlate with a map of blue states and red states. French presses are for liberals, percolators are for heathens.

But for how long? I predict within 18 months, percolators will become huge. Hipsters, tired of their espresso-brewed triple Americanos, will develop an ironic appreciation for percolated coffee. A percolator will be featured in some sort of spread in Vice, and a few months later we’ll see a percolator on the front page of Sunday Styles. And then William-Sonoma will come out with a $429 retro stovetop percolator, and I’ll sell my vintage model on eBay and use the proceeds to buy myself a shiny new espresso maker.