A Bit About Me

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Along with my daily duties as founder and head writer of HumorMeOnline.com, in 2003, I took the Grand Prize in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (also known as the "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night" competition). I've also been a contributor to "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" and the web's "The Late Show with David Letterman". I also occupy my time writing three blogs, "Blogged Down at the Moment", "Brit Word of the Day" and "Production Numbers"...and my off-time is spent contemplating in an "on again/off again" fashion...my feable attempts at writing any one of a dozen books. I would love to write professionally one day...and by that I mean "actually get a paycheck".

31 December 2009

It's "Auld Lang Syne" Time!

It's no big news that it's New Year's Eve tonite...and that, since it's also heralding in a whole new decade, sites all over the Internet have been doing their "biggest headlines of the past ten years" stories. I swear one guy wrote this up on his little-read blog a month ago...and all the bigger entities just copied his story, changing a word or two. Internet is after all...the school bully's ultimate wimp he can target. Any blogger or reporter can just go sign on and steal an idea or two...or three...or four...hundred thousand. Ah...the days when someone had to know things and be imaginative and come up with their own words...in the order they put them in. Gone are those days I'm sure...as those "end of decade" lists all have the same things in them...

...so, naturally, I'm going to do something else...

...but...I'm going to copy off a master. ;)

I was lying in bed before I got up at much too late an hour to actually confess to...thinking about a task that has been placed upon me. My friend, Chris, who is an awesome writer (one of the best I've ever read, dammit) - has bestowed upon me a great honour...and a great burden.

He invited me to be one of ten bloggers he thinks very highly of as far as writing goes - to do a "Blog-Off" of sorts. He gives us a list of topics, one per week...each week we do a blog within the specifications of said topic...we post them up...and readers are to vote on which they like the best. This, of course means that each week...a couple will be "voted off the island"...the remainder get to write again another day - until the final winner is announced and they will have major bragging rights and a gift certificate provided by the mastermind behind all this...aka Chris.

But, while I had that dilemma looming in the back of my brain...another one zapped to the forefront: I can't leave 2009 - the whole decade...without putting up a blog about New Year's Eve (whine whine boo hoo...chalk up yet another dateless event for me)...or doing some sort of list - but that's been done too many times and who wants to read what some lonely, depressed cat-lady in an Alabama living room is thinking anyway.

So...I had an idea.

There in my depressed state I likened myself to Capra's protagonist, George Bailey, who also was pretty darned distraught...distraught enough to entertain thoughts of taking a leap to end it all...and to wish he hadn't been born at all. Now, everyone knows George, in the end, finds out that he did indeed have "a wonderful life"...and all was right in the world and Clarence got his wings.

But...how would my ordinary life...clearly not written and rewritten by Hollywood's finest...stack up against George's?

Let's find out, shall we? Just what would it have been like had I never been born?

Other than the obvious...I wouldn't have had my two children...let's take it systematically...main character by main character:

Harry Bailey: I never saved anyone from the frozen pond. I did once drive on the ice going to work...did a 180...and nearly smashed the back-end of my car into a tree...and upon realizing I was now pointed in the direction of my house and not my workplace...I decided to take it as an omen...and went back home that day. Perhaps, by not going into work...I unknowingly saved someone's life. Yes...yes, I did. I saved two people's lives actually. (Hey...I'm writing this "script" - I am allowed to have "writer's embellishment".)

Mr. Gower: We had "Mr. Bowen" as the druggist in the town I grew up in...but I never worked there - and as hard as I'm thinking...I can't see any other similarity here than their name's sounding remotely alike. But...I did once look at my son's pills in his vial when they handed them to me at the drug store...and they weren't his pills. Upon asking - the pharmacy clerk who filled it...put my son's pills in some elderly man's vial and my son ended up with his heart medication. So...there ya go! Another life saved by me! (Sssssh! You aren't supposed to point out the anachronism that my son wouldn't have been born, therefore the man wouldn't have gotten his pills anyway.)

Ma Bailey: My mother never ran a boarding house...altho when she would get frustrated she would remark, "This is NOT a restaurant I'm running here!" Now, granted my mother always said I was her guardian angel...so, I guess in a way...this also takes care of Clarence. I'd figure that my life did indeed make a difference to my mother as she would say I was the one who "kept her young". She was quite old when she had me...and kids have a way of making you run after them...and running is an aerobic activity...so, in a way, I helped my mother in that regard as well.

Violet: Let's see...I never helped a loose woman as far as I know. But when I was working at the school, after school...a woman let her daughter back out of a parking space when she didn't have her license yet...and she hooked up her right front bumper with my left back one...and she begged me not to call the police as this infraction was an automatic "can't get your license until you are 21" kind of thing. So, I ended up jumping up and down on my Volkswagen's bumper while they did the same on their car until we managed to get them loose. (For the purpose of this blog...I'm going to heretofore refer to this girl as "Violet"...I mean, I have no proof that wasn't her name anyway.) She was very appreciative and I changed her life for sure. (Again...ixnay on the anachronismway - if I wouldn't have been born she wouldn't have entangled her car in mine...I KNOW this...ssssh!)

Mary: Oh, I'm sure my husband would have loved me never being born. This is not a good character to look at from any POV...so, I'd have to write him out of the script. But, on a positive note...he would [undoubtedly] have had a wonderful life if not for me.

Okay...enough with the Capra-corn...I just got myself much more depressed and pissed off and I'm feeling like Mr. Potter right now.

But that's not the way I want to feel....so, I think I'll go sign onto Facebook to find out if I have an "Uncle Billy" out there somewhere. We can both get drunk and forget everything we did...and isn't that the way you really want to "remember" New Year's Eve, anyway?

Happy New Year, everyone!

(Chris' blog, btw, is listed as "Knucklehead!" in my sidebar to the right...seriously, he's a fantastic writer - you should check his blog out.)

24 December 2009

A Message To All

Merry Christmas!

As you are now [undoubtedly] reading this, I'd also like to take this opportunity to convey a personal "thank you" to you. And to all who have read my blog this past year -- especially those who took the time to comment (good, bad or anonymously)...you have all made me feel special...and you have made my day on more than one occasion.

Lastly, I sincerely hope each and every one of us (and our families) have a wonderful 2010!

20 December 2009

Getting "Progressive"ly More Annoying

It's no big secret that I'm perturbed by the fact that I'm not a paid writer in some capacity. I'm not saying that I'm the greatest writer who ever walked the face of the Earth...heaven knows I'm not even in the stratosphere...but I don't think I'd end up in the "bottom 100", either.

And one of the things which always irks me - is the advertising industry. I watch commercials on television...I hear them on the radio...and I sit here in astonishing amazement over the wanton lack of creative ability...over and over and over again.

Surely some advertising firm out there knows these commercials are utter crap...and their ad execs have got to be laughing and laughing...all the way to the bank.

What absolute morons they must think the company heads are...to actually approve the inane pabulum they lay out before them...and gobble up.

And again I sit...knowing full well I can write better ad material, better scripts, better movies, better dialogue, better...well, "stuff" in general. Yes, I'm whining...get used to it...I do it well...and since I'm a year older as of the 15th, I'm entitled to be a bit curmudgeonish...hell, someone pays Andy Rooney to do just that! And, yes, I wish they'd pay me, too.

And, as if it weren't bad enough, the commercials have writing which makes my whole body cringe...they employ the most annoying people to get their message across. Case in point, as was pointed out to me today...the "Progressive Insurance" chick.

Now, I must have voiced my displeasure about this topic before here on my blog or in a comment...as, well, it's another tidbit which I've told to practically everyone: I abhor those commercials. I hate them with every fiber of my being...and I hate this "chick" with every neuron in that fiber.

I dislike her so much...I'm just going to refer to her as "chick"...and, yes, it's with derogatory contempt...unlike saying, "I'm a chick from Jersey"...just so those of you who think I think all "chicks" are thought of in a derisive manner...they aren't. Just this one.

Okay...and a few others...but that's not my point. My point is...she annoys the bejeebies out of me.

"But, Mariann, I like her."

You, good sir or madam, are whack.

Plus, you aren't me - and I'm the one writing this...you can voice your opinion by commenting...and then I will say something like, "Is, too" to your "Is not"...and we will go back and forth in a pointless "for/against Obamaesque" diatribe until finally...one of us ceases to do so.

First off, I know advertising which gets on your last nerve serves a purpose. If something is very irritating you tend to remember it...and what is the main point of advertising: getting your product remembered.

Now, you can get it remembered by having a catchy jingle, "I'd like to buy the world a Coke...and keep it company...", a catchy slogan, "Please don't squeeze the Charmin", a shocking slogan, "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins", a celebrity endorsement, "I'm Tiger Woods for Viagra" (oh, c'mon it COULD happen), or a myriad of other things...ranging from cutesy to bizarre. But the powers that be over at "Progressive Insurance" - decided glaring stark white interiors with an obnoxious raven-haired banshee was the way to go.

The contrast alone between the clinically white surroundings...which, ironically match her skin tone...and her dark hair and that candy-apple red gobhole of hers which never ceases to shut...well, makes me almost want to walk up to the television and adjust the brightness knob. But by the time it would take me to find it in the inner workings of my remote...the commercial is over. The only proof I have that I've seen it - is the reverse image colouration of retinal fatigue when I look on a blank white wall (green...where did green come from?) and the droning on and on of her grating voice piercing deep into my cerebellum or cortex...or wherever something that annoying goes to when it burns into your brain...so you can conjure images of it back up again when you need a trigger for that "fight or flight" reaction one day.

Oh...geez...can you tell that commercial leaves a bad taste in my mouth? And I think that taste is bile.

Furthermore, I think some watchdog site should investigate...because if "Progressive Insurance" is also the same entity that sells "Bumpits"...well, things like this should not be allowed to happen in these United States.

And people thought Billy Mays was annoying...

...but, hey, for the right amount of cash, I'd be more than willing to come up with the next odious script for her to read.

(This blog was specifically written in response to a comment on my last blog at the Montgomery Advertiser...someone asked if I was ever going to get around to do the "Progressive Insurance" blog...so I did.)

12 December 2009

Sorry, I've Got a Code

I refuse to eat dinner at 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening -- we didn't do it when I was growing up...I'm not going to start now.

But there's one thing that's been sticking in my craw for ages: Food Codes

Oh, you've seen them - they look like secret war communiqué - some long-forgotten code guy from WWII was surely employed to come up with these things - and some long dead code-breaker is probably sitting, still on his chair in the kitchen; a can of tomato paste clenched tightly in his lifeless hand...even though his skin has long since decayed.

The can? No one is sure if it or the man expired first - face it, "T09538P1 1182" doesn't give you much to go on.

Is the "T" a month? No months start with "T" - hmmmm...is it code for a month? "09" - is that 2009 - or does the "8" at the end of the first set mean "08"? What the heck's that "P" doing in there? What's with the four digits in the second set?? Dammit, when does this expire? I'm hungry and I want to eat!

Oooh...I know what I'll do -- I'l go to their website - surely expiration dates will be addressed somewhere in the FAQ portion..which looks kinda like this:

How do I open my can?
Can you tell me once and for all...is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?
My boyfriend doesn't like the skinny long spaghetti noodles...can I use your product with penne pasta instead?
I saw an old film the other day and someone made "tomato aspic"...do you know what that is? Do you also sell cans of "aspic" so I can make it?

Oh yeah...that's helpful. Well, I'll show them...I'll just call the company and ask!

"You've reached our office, but it is now closed. Normal business hours are Monday thru Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time...and Saturdays until noon. Thank you for calling. Good-bye."

Great! Not only am I supposed to eat dinner at 4:00 - but, with the time difference, I'm doomed begin cooking it before 3:00! Don't even get me started with having to start dinner on Saturday before I even get up.

I am under the impression companies do this on purpose...stay with me on this here. Here's my theory:

First off, they can sell things past their expiration dates. When I go to the store and read "G187B716" vs "PQ21883W" I have no idea which one is fresher...so I grab one of them off the shelf and buy it. Then I put it on my shelf at home and it stays there, right next to the other one I didn't think I had already...for, oh, I have no idea...a month...a year...three years? Okay, which one was the newer can I just bought? They both look the same...P comes before R - oh geez...is there a Julian Date here somewhere? Is that 02 in the front - the year or the month...or the factory that made it? So, if I throw them both out to be totally sure...I just go to the store and buy more, putting more money into their coffers and more indecipherable coded cans into my cupboards.

And speaking of Julian Dates...forgeddaboutit -- I Googled...and most companies have their own coding system. I've called up various companies and heard all kinds of cockamamie reasoning behind those cryptic combos.

"The 'P'? It stands for the plant in Akron, Ohio, which manufactured it."
"Yes, 'P'."
"Ummm...okay. How about the 'I' in back of it? Is that a lower case L or a 1 or an I?
"Oh, that's the time of day...'1' equals 3:00 p.m."
"So, '2' would be 4:00?"
'2' is 7:00 a.m."
"Uh...ohhhhkay...the 'T' in the front?
"That's the month...that's April."
"Why a 'T'? April has NO 'T' in it."
"Exactly...but August, September, and October do, so those are 'Q', 'W', and 'I', respectively.

Oh, I give up. All the other months have equally cryptic letters assigned and are equally frustrating.

I swear, sometimes I'm ONLY going to buy things with a bona fide "readable" date on it...but I always cave in when I see a yummy product, like those "California Kitchen" pizzas...and end up buying them anyway.

What exactly is so hard about an actual expiration date? And, nowadays, to top it off, they not only have those...but "use by", "sell by" and "manufactured by" dates as well. Then to make it even more technical and confusing...some products have an added addendum...even though their expiration dates are wayyyyyy in the future: the "after opening, consume by" date.

You know, I don't have the time (nor desire) to read the nutritional label...now I have to search all over the jar for their "if you opened this...all dates printed on here are null and void" literature. So, let me get this straight...I have to make a mental note each and every time I open that and that and THAT?

And THAT'S exactly how they "getcha".

The law of fridge physics states that the further a product is eventually pushed to the back of the shelf is directly proportionate to the "use by" or "opened on" date. Why that is -- I don't know. And if you don't believe me...open up your refrigerator right now -- and peruse the recesses of it.

Perfectly good items mysteriously gravitate to the back of the shelf without you ever putting them there. It's like that "missing sock and the dryer" conspiracy. No one knows why these things happen...they just do. And even if you went thoroughly through your refrigerator just six months ago...and tossed out everything expired...I bet you'd still find something in there that expired two years ago.

Again, it's an enigma; I think there's some inexplicable "wormhole theory" at work here. All dryers and refrigerators are connected somehow...

...and somewhere, some guy in Berlin is wondering how he got an expired bottle of Paul Newman's "Two Thousand Island" dressing and some woman in China...

...well, let's just say I swear I can't remember ever buying...what looks to be...pickled radish?

04 December 2009

Huntsville Here I Come!

Me? Getting a job working for NASA?? Smells too good to be true, right?

"No," you're saying..."you silly thing...it's supposed to be 'sounds' to be good to be true".

Oh, but I beg to differ. And I would be right. Let me ramble for a bit, i.e., explain.

I can smell things. Yes, not that great an accomplishment - we were all pretty much born with that ability.

No, but I can REALLY smell things. I smell things before anyone else does...sometimes they don't ever smell them at all. And the things I've smelled have helped others.

Long ago, I smelled a natural gas odor in an open field once across the street from a development. After reporting it to the police, he informed me that area was where the "odor release tubes" were located. If you didn't know, the "natural gas smell" is actually made and added to the odorless product so people can detect it...as without it, you couldn't smell a gas leak...and, well, that could be catastrophic. The pipes out in the field dispersed the odor...and that's what I smelled. He then remarked that I "certainly must have some nose"...as it's really not that discernable.

Well, I do.

I also told a gas meter reader once that there was a "gas smell" in the area where I lived...and sure enough, he checked and it turned out there was indeed a break in the underground line...and they were promptly fixed.

My nose is SO good in fact...that I can "smell" books from across the room. Don't believe me...go smell a book...it has a distinct aroma. I can even detect the faint smell of ink IN an uncapped pen from about 10 or so feet away. Not marker ink, mind you...regular pen ink...just lying there on the table. And I can smell it.

I can locate small dead animals my cats dragged into the house. Sure, I probably look pretty silly down on all fours sniffing about - but I can find EACH and every dead thing here. In fact...I just located a dead bird next to the cat litter box...that hadn't been there for more than a couple hours. Death...has a specific smell...and I'm good at honing in on it...fortunately...or unfortunately.

An aspect of my whole life seems to center around my being able to smell things which most people don't smell...or smell "eventually". But, just as a shark has his olfactory nerve underwater - able to detect a drop of blood in all those gallons...miles away...I am, on a much smaller scale, the equivalent of him on land. Yes, I am the "land shark" of my species.

But what good does possessing an astute nasal appendage, a prodigious proboscis, or a special "scent-sational power" like this really get you in life...except perhaps a heads up notice on when the bread is going bad or if that cream in the fridge is still good beyond its expiration date?

Apart from becoming a "drug sniffing" or "bomb sniffing" dog in the airport - seriously...what smelly job is lurking out there for me?

Well, testers at perfume companies rely on people with great noses...and I am sure the whole "aroma" factor is invaluable in a whole realm of tasting jobs - but, are there any in this area which actually need a "sniffologist" as it were?

So, by the time all those thoughts had gone through my mind, I decided to employ Google to help me find (betcha thought I'd say "sniff out") some "nosy jobs". The one I liked best was "NASA Sniffer"...oh, to be NASA's "Master Sniffer" one day. Boy, if my friends ever caught a whiff of that one -- they'd surely get their collective noses out of joint.

Sure, it's not an astronaut nor a rocket scientist, but, c'mon..."NASA Master Sniffer" isn't exactly a job to turn your nose up about.

(Did anyone else notice that "NASA" is one letter away from "NASAL"? Okay...well, maybe it's just me, then.)

25 November 2009


Okay, who else is really getting creeped out by the constant barrage of Viagra and Cialis commercials?

You know, back when I was a kid, there was nothing more annoying than the "Hey, Pam...what's in the bright blue box?" "It's Stayfree Maxipads!" And then "Perky Pam", who was bumped into - in the airport by her friend, who coincidentally spills the entire contents of her purse on the floor...who coincidentally is carrying a HUGE box of 40-count of them...who feels compelled to hold them up for everyone to see...proceeds to tout their remarkable absorbability.

They would play that commercial interspersed with the "horseback riding, tennis playing, white pants-wearing" woman who also carried a 40-pack of Tampax in her purse. Then to round it off, it would be "Hey, Mom...do you ever have that "not so fresh feeling?" - and true to form, all girls supposedly confront their moms about feminine hygiene smell-masking products...and all moms carry around a 4-pack of Massengil..."just in case" this confrontation finally happens.

I don't know about you - but growing up as a young teen...realizing that I ultimately will have to carry around a detergent-sized box of feminine products wherever I go...well, I was afraid to leave my house.

Well, for some reason those commercials got replaced by ED ones. You know ED...not unlike "Bob"...who has a new swing on life...ED is Bob's black-sheep brother - who is determined to get all the attention.

"ED", of course, is "Erectile Dysfunction", and apparently every single guy in America who is over the age of 45...will not be able to leave his house because of it.

Oh, wait...that came out wrong. Let me try again...

...these commercials are friggen creepy!

Not only are they creeping ME out - but they creep out my son and my daughter. Hell, I bet they creep my cats out, too.

And where do they find the most smarmy-seeming guys for these ads? Do they march them in...have a woman go "Ewwwwwww, I'd NEVER have sex with that guy...*shudder shudder*" and then the advertising execs say "Yep! You're hired! Because if guys see YOU getting lucky on television...well, they figure THEY'LL have a shot, too."

Don't believe me? Ask any woman if they'd toss out the magazines, TV remote and whatever else she tosses out on the lawn...just to have a "four-hour moment" alone with this guy. The only thing I'd be tossing...would be my cookies.

Then there's the guy who keeps looking at, and talking to, his reflection in the store windows in the Mayberry town he's strolling thru...only to have it say things back to him like "Heading to the doctor? So, are you going to ask him this time? Isn't it time for Viagra? Isn't it time for the dry heaves?"

Sorry, that last one was my comment...not the commercial.

Then the coup de grâce...the "dual claw-footed cast-iron bathtubs at the beach" advert.

You know, whenever *I* get into an amorous mood, there's nothing more appealing to me than heading to the shore with my surfboard and metal tub on top of my woody. Oh wait...that didn't come out right, either...

...you see - a "woody" was a type of car. Seriously, it was...see?

But, if you were over 45 you'd already know this...and you'd also know the "Viva Viagra" song is making Elvis spin in his grave.

Anyway...these 60-second spots (not to be confused with that "four hour" spot)...make me long...

...for those bygone days of my youth.

I'm sure even "Pam" would agree.

14 November 2009

Sick Vs Evil

"Oh, he's sick in the head."

No, he's not - he's just plain EVIL.

Frankly, (upcoming pun intended) I am getting pretty sick and tired of hearing the above to "why away" what people do.

The other day, I'm driving down I-85 and I notice a kitten smashed almost beyond recognition in the middle of the four lanes. There's nothing else around it...but above there is an overpass. It dawns on me...I bet some "sick ****" (you can fill in the blanks I'm sure) threw the kitten off the overpass and into the traffic. Did he or she want to see if kittens indeed land on their feet? No. They did it, I'm sure, to see how fast it would get splatted...regardless of which way it landed.

Now, you might argue, "Why, yes, Mariann...that is just plain sick."

Of course I have no proof this is the scenario - but the odds of this kitten making it all the way across the highway in the middle of nowhere, by itself, is pretty damned slim. Most kittens don't go venturing solo. I've had many cats and kittens - if they stray too far, you can bet the mother will pick it up and bring it back.

But let me get back to my original thought...and for the sake of this example, let's say this is how it happened. The person who did this was not sick...they are just plain EVIL.

Chances are they knew the outcome ahead of time - and they knew the odds of the kitten surviving was nil. They made a conscious decision to toss it over the edge anyway. That is pure evil. No doubt about it - nothing sick going on here.

Granted, there are "sick" people who do things - and I don't discount mental illness...and I don't discount there are people in this world who don't have the mental capacity to make sound decisions. This exists.

But evil also exists.

When a person goes on a rampage and kills a bunch of people...and plots it out and otherwise can make it through their daily life and know which side of their bread to butter...well, these people are not sick in my opinion.

I am sure you remember Jeffrey Dahmer. Everyone and their mother was saying "oh...this guy's sick in the head". "NOOOOOOO!" I said. If he's deemed sick in the head - he won't stand trial and be convicted. He'll just go to "get cured" and then be released. This man KNEW what he was doing. He deliberately went about his "mission" to seek out and kill and then dismember and dispose of his victims. This requires some forethought - it requires an amount of intelligence and care to not get caught. Had this person indeed been "sick in the head" - he would have been doing something totally contrary to his actions...and been caught long before. Dahmer DID do sick things...I never said he didn't - but he was evil. There was an evil in him which crept up each and every time. Had he really wanted to stop...he could have. He enjoyed what he did...even if it repulsed him...or so he said. The very first time he killed, he "knew what had to be done in order to get rid of the body". He himself admitted he "knew" what had to be done. Not sick. Evil. End of story. He was proven "sane" and sentenced. Luckily they didn't buy into the "sick" scenario.

So, as I watched the Dahmer trial on "Court TV" all those years ago, I was desensitized by hearing the horrid details. The first time I heard -- I cringed...I flinched...I winced. Absolutely gross. The second day of the trial...same details - less wincing. By the third day...and, mind you, it only took THREE days of testimony...I was desensitized enough not to cringe thereafter. Each time I heard what he did -- even though what he did should have been just as horrific the first time I heard it...or the one-millionth.

I know you've probably heard this one on the news as well...or maybe you, yourself, have uttered a version of it: "A man walked into a building today, injuring eight, but only three died." ONLY??? So, wait, let me get this straight...one, two, or three is okay? How many have to die to make it "unacceptable"? Twenty?

Hearing this type of talk...from the news, from our co-workers, or from passers-by waiting in line in the supermarket...subconsciously creeps into our brains and tweaks them. "Only one dead. Thank goodness ONLY ONE died." What the heck kind of reasoning IS this we are subjecting ourselves to?
I've even heard myself saying it.

We, as a nation, are becoming desensitized. We are becoming complacent. We are becoming convinced...the things some people do...which are horrid and pure evil, are just "sick".

"Sick" seems to discount what they've done..."evil", however, doesn't.

I say it's time we wake up and stop branding people "sick in the head" so easily and nonchalantly - and start calling them what they truly are: just plain evil. Perhaps then there will be stricter penalties and accountability across the board.

07 November 2009

"Fired Up" About My 200th Blog Post

I wanted to make my 200th blog something special.

I started one a while ago...but as I can't get any real info online about who it was who supposedly kept talking after having their head lopped off (I'm thinking royalty - in the Anne Boleyn or Marie Antoinette arena)...I was stopped dead in my tracks. I didn't want to fake it and I sure as heck didn't want to take "Kimberleigh's" word for it at the "Ask Yahoo" website. People who feel compelled to abbreviate three letter words such as "you" to "u"...well, I tend to look at with a bit of disdain and certainly a hefty modicum of skepticism. So, when they say things like "U no, I read sumwhere it was Queen Victoria who speeked after there head were cut off"...when Victoria, who, at the ripe old age of 81, died of natural causes in her bed...well, perhaps Kimberleigh should open up her school books between making YouTube videos showing how much fatter her lips look after using Lip Venom.

So...that one's out until a later date...but I seriously wanted this blog to have some kind of spark...to cause a burning desire for anyone stumbling across it...to read it. So, I went sniffing around for something with some impact...and I found it.

I found it alright. Or should I really say "it found me". It's not even far - only one street over where from where I live. And it found me again tonite...in fact, you could say it smoked me right out.

There is a guy who lives one street over from me who deems it absolutely necessary to burn things every single weekend. Well, there might have been three weekends when he ran out of stuff to burn...but other than that...this weekend pyromaniac turns up the heat and without fail, finds something lying around to set ablaze.

Now, I live in Wetumpka...not the city - but the parts where things like fire codes, leash laws, building permits, and out-and-out laws don't exist. One of those "we've been doing it like this since my great-great-great-great granpappy did...so if it's not broke, don't fix it" kinda places.

It's not a bad place to live, in fact it's very nice...but it's no Mayberry...Barney doesn't get his panties in a wad and nips this in the bud. If he did, this would have been nipped ages ago.

Everyone I speak with HATES this burning this man does...but the conversation kinda goes like this when I try to venture outside to walk around the block:

Me: "Hi!"
Them: "Hiya! It's a shame this guy does this every weekend." (No need to say what "this" is - we all know what "this" is.)
Me: "Yep...I thought I'd take a walk, but I'm going to have to turn around because I can't breathe." I've had two lung operations and it hurts."
Them: "I can't breathe either - I don't know what he burns every single day."
Me: "It's all in my house, too."
Them: "Mine, too - that's why I thought I'd go outside - to get a breath of fresh air without smoke in it...but it's not working."

And then we say our "good-byes" and part ways.

My house, for some reason is situated exactly downwind of this...and as such, I can't turn on the air conditioner or the heater because it sucks it all up and disperses it into my house. Even without it...single-paned windows seem to keep out about as much noxious fumes as screen doors do.

So, yesterday, when my daughter was sitting here saying she had a massive headache...and I did as well...I decided to phone up the police. I knew they probably couldn't do too much - but if they came over and smelled it, perhaps they'd be sympathetic to my plight and knock on the guy's door or something.

Sure enough, the officer came over - and there's really nothing he can do...but he said he'd go over and see if the lights were on to let the guy know it's irritating people. As luck would have it, a neighbour of mine, upon seeing the police car in my driveway, stopped by to see what was up. He substantiated everything I said and then some. So now the police know it's not just me who gets burned up over this whole situation.

The police officer suggested I call the station when he's burning - before 5:00 on weekdays.

I told him that was the catch...this guy burns starting around 4:00 on Fridays...and keeps it stoked until Monday...when he probably douses it out - because he knows darned well the offices aren't open to investigate...and the Fire Department can't be contacted to see if there's any burn permits on record. Again, the whole M-F dealie.

The officer further suggested I contact the Mayor's office on Monday. This has been going on for years. I can't open my windows, go outside, or do yard work (and many others endure this way of living as well) because of this man...and we're literally held prisoners in our homes on weekends because of him. One man should not be able to wield such power.

I think I will indeed call the Mayor's office to see what can be done. And if I have to light a fire under his butt to get a stricter burn-code enacted - it's high time...as, frankly, this whole situation the way it is...stinks.

18 October 2009

The Write Stuff

I am writing a book.

Yeah, yeah...I know what you're thinking, "What??? She can READ??" Hey, Leno could really use you...talents like that are a "rarity" in the comedic realm...

...but, yes...yes, I can read...to answer your above question...and if Sarah Palin can write *cough cough* a book, well, darmit, so can I.

What I originally thought you were going to think was "but it says in her profile that she's been writing a book...you'd figure she woulda had it done by now"...but, little things like...oh, depression...and my pathetic health issues...and lack of a job...and a marriage that didn't turn out like I envisioned, and no money...and...no real friends (other than online ones)...and the fact that no one beat down my door after I won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest back in 2003 -- altho they do a reality show now about anything and everything...so I totally missed the boat on that one...and okay, what was my point again?

My book.

I started a book once...when I was about 13. Then I put it down and never really picked it back up again. Then I graduated, got a job, got married, had a couple kids, and one day while on a trip to a Science Olympiad competition my daughter was attending about four years ago - I ended up talking to a fellow parent's child regarding what they might want to do after they graduate (like any kid of 12 or 13-year-old really knows what they want to do with the rest of their life). They just did what I expected...shrugged and said, "Uhhh...I dunno". And I said, "Yep...I know what you mean...when I was your age I had no clue what I wanted to do...in fact, there were only two people I went to school with who did. One wanted to be a dentist...and he went on to be a dentist...and the other was Eddie Gillespie, who wanted to be a political speech writer."

Odd, huh? I mean, c'mon...who the heck's ambition in life in 8th and 9th grade centers around writing speeches for politicians...especially in Browns Mills, New Jersey? Well, for those of you who are curious...here's what he ended up doing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ed_Gillespie

Anyway...as I was having this conversation I relayed how I always "wanted to be a writer"...and then it dawned on me, not unlike a ton of bricks, that geez...I just wasted like 30 years wondering what I wanted to do with my life (other than the role of being a mother...which I always wanted to be)...only to find out I KNEW when I was just a kid.

Imagine my initial shock and subsequent "Eureka moment" after the realization of time wasted consisting primarily of sitting on my butt lamenting my great law career...(I always figured I could find a loophole in anything and thus would be an extreme asset to any corporate entity) only to find out that, like Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz"...I didn't need to go searching anywhere...my "no place like home" was my childhood dream of writing.

What tipped the scales, not of justice...but of determination that I possibly COULD do this, was after I watched a program on A&E's "Biography" - quite some time ago...you know, when A&E actually showed "quality programming". They profiled well-known horror author, Stephen King...whom I never did hold in any high esteem...until after I watched the show...and what he said "literally" changed my mind. He stated that he was determined to write and that he had a game plan: to sit at his typewriter every single night and peck away...for three hours, regardless of what came out. What came out ended up being a "stupid teen angst story" (his words...or something to the effect of) later to be known as "Carrie"...and if it weren't for his wife salvaging it from the trash bin and encouraging him to finish it...well, no one really knows now, do they?

So, I've gotten back in the saddle again...and instead of relying on someone to "co-author" with me (like I did once before), I'm going to sit back and try to go this one alone. I figure if I peck away each night and churn out three pages, I'd have something to edit and re-edit...and further re-edit in about four months.

And, as King had his wife...I have my kids. I told my son the other day of my idea - consisting of the general outline of the book...and...he thought it was GOOD! That might not mean anything to you, but...my son never thinks anything I write is good. It's always "lame", "it's emo", "it's pathetic"...and a few other choice words and phrases I won't go into detail about here. I don't think I've ever written a blog to elicit any other response out of him...so when I told him of the plot I wasn't expecting anything other than the usual. But, he said it was good! He even read what I'd written so far - and praised it...he even went so far as to give me some ideas.

My daughter is helping as well - playing my conscience...always trying to light the fire under my butt..."You REALLY need to start writing your book again before someone else comes up with your idea." And she's right. I've got to hunker down and "Stephen King" it. Well, not "
It" it...but just plain "it"...oh, you know what I mean.

08 October 2009

The Ultimate Mythbusters Episode

Boy those guys from Mythbusters...always trying to outdo themselves with the explosions...and now this! Jamie and Adam sure have their work cut out for them tomorrow when they plan to launch a rocket into space, aim it at the moon, and...literally blow a portion of it to bits.

Now, I've seen them blow up a toilet, blow up a cement truck and even try to blow up a scuba tank inside a fake shark a la "Jaws". Heck, a pig carcass exploded once in a locked up Corvette - in a locked up storage unit in the summer heat...just because...well, it has something to do with decaying bodies...and, well, just go watch an episode of CSI if you want to find out the grisly dynamics behind it...but for now let's go back to the explosions.

This lunar event tomorrow has "Mythbusters" written all over it...and, unless they are in the background somewhere...Jamie and Adam are nowhere to be found. This time the culprits behind it -- are the people from NASA.

Yes...unless you've been locked inside a storage unit yourself, you probably have heard at least some mention of what those "crazy" rocket scientists at NASA plan to do. From what I've gathered, they intend to crash a rocket booster spacecraft doohickey (that's the technical terminology for it) into one of the craters Friday morning and hopefully the wafting debris cloud will ascertain once and for all if there is indeed water on the moon.

That's it.

Adam and Jamie would probably be sorely unimpressed.

There's not supposed to be any Star Wars-type death star explosions ensuing...not even any chunks of space debris hurtling to Earth in some Nostradamus predicted collision course fashion reminiscent of Bruce Willis in "Armageddon". Or...at least I hope not.

Call me crazy, but I just don't "get" the whole experiment...which supposedly can be viewed by amateur astronomers with their equally amateur telescopes (if you call 10-12 inch telescopes "amateurish") at about 7:31 a.m. ET, tomorrow. But if you don't feel like lugging your behemoth outside in your bathrobe thereby missing your morning coffee, shower or commute...you can watch it, live, here instead.

Now, whether they find water on the moon or not tomorrow probably isn't going to change the way we do anything...except maybe bemoan the fact they will probably spend another twenty million billion dollars and set to work (if they haven't already) to crash land another rocket on Mars to see if IT has water, too.

You know...I'm not too sure Carl Sagan would be that impressed either.

Here's another link which is "clearly" warranted for optimal astronomical viewing: Clear Sky Chart

07 October 2009

But were they banned in Boston???

I just was watching "The History Channel" and this commercial came on. I thought it was "bleeping" brilliant - but I'm figuring it won't last long on the airwaves in Alabama...along with the others (below it) which only aired less than a handful of times here:


Here are the others (which were hilariously funny in my opinion) which met their demise in a New York advertising minute:

All deserved much more airplay if you ask me...unfortunately, it seems, all the incredibly stupid ones go on and on and on...

(I apologize for not knowing how to imbed YouTube videos on Blogger.com...if anyone knows how - feel free to clue me in.)

04 October 2009

"Trick" or Treat?

I ventured over to the newly opened "Halloween" store the other day; the one on the Eastern Boulevard by Lowe's (or is it Home Depot) where the "Goody's" used to be. Now I'm no Einstein, but I'd say this is probably a "seasonal" store...as I doubt they are planning to sell Halloween items year 'round...and at the beginning of November they'll pull up stakes (a Dracula pun)...and count (yet another!) their proceeds. I really don't think "The Christmas Store" will move in after - but you never can tell; but one would presume "The Christmas Store" would still do a lot more business than "The Saint Patrick's Day Store" -- or at least one would hope.

Now Montgomery is no stranger to giant Halloween stores...they had one a couple Halloween's ago - and these might be the same people, only in a different location...but the people who did one up prior - were MUCH more into it...and it was nearly a whole haunting experience to even set foot in the place. This one had some decorations laid out and a fog machine or two churning out some acrid smoke which I started wondering about 10 minutes in...whether or not the pellets were laced with cyanide or at least a hefty portion of lead paint...but seeing I'm still here and it's been like two weeks...chances are good I won't die from it now.

Apart from the lack of scare factor and the smelly smoke...the first thing I noticed is that the place is laid out with two distinct sides: the children side...and the adult side. And once you start rummaging around on the "adult side"...well, you'll see why.

It's naughty.

Sexy goth girl, sexy vampiress, sexy bar wench, sexy pixie chick, sexy nurse, sexy French maid...and the one that made my poor Catholic eyes burn in their sockets: sexy nun. Now I don't know about you...but if you are buying a sexy nun costume - you have just procured...and secured... your space in Hell.

Those of you who aren't that aware with the laws and bi-laws of Alabama - might not be aware that you can't sell porn here...or paraphernalia thereof...altho the "Love Stuff" store gets around this...uh...loophole..and sells these items for "educational purposes only". Don't believe me? Check out their web site online...which you have to look at in the "cached" mode - as it's not there anymore...hmmm...

But needless to say - selling these costumes is okie dokie during Halloween...I guess as long as you have a clear delineation line between the kid's stuff and the...um...well, love stuff...aka...adult Halloween costumes.

Please don't get me wrong - I have no problem with "dressing up" per se...heaven knows I've semi-fantasized about Hugh Jackman in a Conquistador outfit on more than one occasion...but then again...who hasn't?

But it just strikes me as funny - and ironic - that you can buy these outfits...which are clearly not intended for Halloween purposes only...in a state which forbids a painting of a naked nymph on a bottle of wine. (Yes, Alabama...I'll never let you live that one down.)

Still...hands down the naughtiest costume ever (and Walmart even sold it) in my opinion is this bovine one; be forewarned...this will make you spit milk out of your nose if you're drinking it when you look...and how appropriate is that?

13 September 2009


So, I'm sitting at the hospital with all the Swine-y people, playing "musical chairs" each time someone comes within a 10-foot radius of me, as, in my head "10 feet" is my safety cushion, my germ-free bubble, my "cone-of-silence" if you will. (Insert deep breath here.)

I came here because there's a good likelihood that I'm having a reaction to a medication I was put on for a couple of days...but I certainly don't want to come out sicker than I came in - hence the "chair hopping".

And, I don't know about you, but I already know how to wear one of those flu masks they hand out. And, by the off chance you don't have a clue...the lady at the sign-in desk tells you, step-by-step, how to use one. And if THAT'S not informational enough - they have pamphlets and charts and Venn diagrams with arrows and X's and...well, you have to be pretty darned daft to get it wrong, right?

Well, maybe.

Don't get me wrong...it's not like I'm saying that ALL the people wearing a mask in the ER waiting room's combined IQ would come out to be 100, but, to look around me...I'd say I'm not far off the mark. Even WITH a hospital worker "reminding" them (after they've already been instructed how to use one)...well, the ingenious (bear in mind I'm not referring to "genius" here) ways a person can don one of these things...literally, are nearly endless. (It's not really endless...but it sounds better that way..."writer's embellishment" and all.)

Here's a few flu mask observances I spied in my nearly three-hour ER wait...you know, before they usher you in the back...for some "solitary waiting":

Mask dangling from one ear. Ummm...two ears...two elastic loops. Coincidence? I think not. Amount of protection rendered: I'd say close to nil.

Mask ON...but below nose. This fashion statement apparently is a crowd favourite as several people were sporting theirs this way. Side note to mask wearers: Mask covering both mouth AND nose will not result in asphyxiation. If it does...keep in mind you're in the best place for it to happen...as you're IN a friggen ER. Mask efficiency: Probably better than nil. Not much...but, we can understand. Sorta.

Mask worn - unless you are talking on your cell phone. Yes, (by the way - I'm shaking my head here...not nodding)...as everyone knows...wearing the equivalent of a tightly woven 3-ply tissue across your mouth blocks out 90% of audible sound (now I'm rolling my eyes) so, naturally, it has to be removed while you chat. Side note: How to compute the average cell phone minutes racked up by the average ER visitor: X = cell phone time; Y = wait time. Y-X = X2. Don't ask me how...it just does. Mask effectiveness: Nearly nil, i.e., gabbing away non-stop for five minutes spreads about as many germs as one ordinary cough; ten minutes equals full-fledged sneeze into elbow sleeve. To determine longer conversations...you do the math.

Mask worn backwards on head. While you might be used to wearing your baseball cap backwards and think it looks cool...wearing your mask the same way doesn't. Approximate safeguard against pretty much anything: Nada.

Mask worn ON your head. No, I don't mean the correct way - I mean ON your head. The top of your head...like a hat. Now I do know it was raining a bit when I came in...but wearing your mask this way brings you about the same amount of protection from the rain as it does from transmitting your germs. Absolutely none.

The lesson I learned in all of this: The Emergency Room gives away free toys disguised as flu masks...and they give away a LOT of them. I also learned when some people are sitting in the waiting room chatting up their friends or watching television or reading their books - they feel fine...until they are called into the Triage Nurse's little room. Then they limp or cough or hold their bellies...then...as if by some miracle...when they reemerge to sit and wait some more...they are again healed! Until they are called to go in the back...when again, they are suddenly stricken.

Lastly, to the woman who was with her effervescently bubbly, cute-as-a-button toddler (who was supposed to be wearing her tiny child flu mask) sitting diagonally from me and right next to the germ-laden, dome-topped, hand-PUSH-operated trash can: Can you be more oblivious to the fact that you REPEATEDLY picked up your daughter's cookies OFF the nasty germ-infested hospital waiting room floor...shoved them with your bare hand IN through the gross, probably never cleaned, spring-loaded, trash can opening to throw them away...and then reached INTO your package of cookies to give your daughter some MORE? Well, if she didn't have anything when she went INTO the hospital...she probably does NOW.


...I hate hospitals.

09 September 2009

"Hooters' Hole" Update

If the above title makes you go "hmmmm" and you haven't a clue what I'm talking about, please read my initial "Hooters' Hole" blog first: http://mariannsimms.blogspot.com/2009/08/hooters-hole.html

I had written a blog on August 16th about the ever-expanding Hooters' Hole and, taking the advice of a couple people who suggested it, I emailed the blog to the Mayor of Montgomery (and someone in the "Montgomery Road Department" as well).

Well, lo and behold, I'm driving by today and I notice the hole has been fixed! I would, naturally, like to take full credit for this - so if you know otherwise...please keep it to yourself. I feel...as my friend said...like such a public advocate now. :)

By the way...it's not THE best job in the world fixing it - but it has been patched...the part which was swallowing up the public road at least. I'm sure that's all the city is allowed to fix...it certainly is an improvement, that's for certain.

Chalk one up for good old-fashioned motivation and intervention...maybe ONE person can tackle the "big guys" and do something after all.


Ta-da! The long-awaited "after" photo:

07 September 2009

"They're dead, Jim."

I did some Google "research" - someone (who, undoubtedly has been to more than one "Star Trek" convention) counted all the times Dr. McCoy on "Star Trek" uttered the immortal words "He's/She's Dead, Jim". The body count? Twenty-nine times...and only two were women. I am not going to dispute or double-check this figure...it serves no real purpose except to be an intro to what I really want to talk about: TV death.

Not the fictitious type of death - no characters dying here...unless we count 'character actors'...but real, bona fide death. It seems, save for the odd show...like "The Brady Bunch" - and even then the "dad" died a while back...nearly all the shows I grew up with as a kid...the whole cast is dead...or at least a great portion of them.

And it's getting me scared.

Take "Bewitched" for instance. I grew up many years watching that. They're all gone. Well, I'm not counting Tabitha and Adam...I mean...they were kids, so they don't count. But both Darrins; Endora; Larry Tate; his wife, Louise; all the aunts; Gladys, the nosy neighbour (they had to replace the first one halfway through as she DIED); her husband, Abner; and sweet Samantha herself. All gone - and some gone a while. The only one who is still alive looked to be the oldest cast member at the time...who, amazingly, still looks pretty much the same as he did then: "Dr. Bombay". Yes, Bernard Fox is the only member of the adult cast still breathing. It's very sad. It's not like they were OLD OLD back in the 60s - but now...they're all gone.

I bet you would be hard pressed to find a show I watched as a child...that doesn't have at least one principle actor/actress already dead. Again, I'm talking shows I watched in the late 60s/early 70s. All head shakes and eye rolls aside...that time period wasn't THAT long ago. It's just NOT fair.

And when I watched - I was watching those shows first-hand...not on some TVLand channel...so I grew up with them...and they are, one by one, taking those final curtain bows. It's just NOT fair. These aren't from the 30s, 40s, and 50s. And I can't help but come to the logical conclusion that my "conclusion" isn't too far off as well...and,well, that sucks.

Sure, some actors and actresses live for many, many years...and I'm hoping I'll see those die, too.

Oh...that came out wrong...but, you know what I mean - if I see them go first...well, then I'm still alive. And isn't that the way this "game" goes? Try to remain the longest IN the "game".

I also can't shake this feeling that we should really be able to live much, much longer. And being made of something less impervious to outside forces...and inside forces; yes, that would be much, much better, too...at least from where I sit...on my sofa - staring at the tube, watching old re-runs which were the shows of my day in my youth. My laptop open to the IMDb site - basically tallying up figures...and there's way too many figures in the "deficit" column...and not many left in the black.

Eventually, if I live long enough, they will all be gone...all the shows I grew up with...their television characters still carrying on, still getting into wacky predicaments, still saying (and now catching up to) those long-dead catch phrases, and still breaking those 1970s barriers which look prehistoric now in comparison.

Ironically, the show I opened this blog with, "Star Trek", still has the majority of their crew alive and kicking. Go figure. I didn't watch that show. Hmmmm... Soooo, between you and me...it might not be in anyone's best interest to let another crew, "The Love Boat" gang...know that I never missed an episode.

30 August 2009

Potato Farmers - the New Vampires?

Nosferatu, Count Dracula, Lestat, those "Twilight" books, BBC's "Being Human"...and countless other books/films/shows...are all about vampires. Now, while the allure of the vampire is quite compelling...and makes for a good story...I sat here and wondered, "Well, anyone can create a vampire story...it's like just a "continuation" of something which has been done before...a rehash of sorts. It's like taking a story like "Alice in Wonderland" and embellishing it a bit. I mean, it's been done by Lewis Carroll...but if I take it one step further or change it up a bit...it's okay? It's now mine? Well, that's too darn easy. Let's do something which hasn't been done before...but everything has been done before, right?

Yes...everything but a book/film about a potato farmer.

Oh, I checked - "Of Mice and Men" didn't specifically have potatoes...and the film had a lot of hay in it. "Witness" had a lot of hayfields, too. Movies about farmers have been done...but the really hot, lurid goings-on - on a potato farm? Especially if you start it out back in the time of the potato famine...and work it forward. The whole history of "PotatoMan".

C'mon, Will Smith did "Hancock" - I saw "Hancock". "Hancock" was horrid...not even "PotatoMan" could possibly be that bad. Hear me out here...

...the potato has had a very illustrious and compelling history. First you had the famine. (Well, I'm sure there was something before then - but you have to start somewhere.) Sure, the famine was not fun...but if you take a very hot guy with an Irish accent, put him in a well-fitted, slightly worn and rugged shirt and pants...think of a cross between Daniel Day-Lewis and Bryan Brown and throw in a dash of Hugh Jackman...well, you already got your movie right there. All you need is a few words of dialogue. Face it...I'd watch a movie with Hugh Jackman just reading the dictionary...for me, it doesn't need to be Shakespeare here for it to work. Then if you have Hugh Jackman with a ripped shirt reading the dictionary...it could even be a "Serbian to Dutch" dictionary...and, well...I'm going to watch it MORE than once.

Then for some effect - some silly thing happens...like he gets bitten by a potato borer infected with blight and has an allergic reaction (think "Spiderman") - and he gets immortality. He doesn't have to possess superhuman strength or anything...and giving him "borer-power" would be plain idiotic...so let's stick with "everlasting life".

Segue years later...we see him wiping the sweat from his brow while he rests on his pitchfork...a 1940s tractor slowly meandering in the background...similar to the wheat field scene from "Gladiator" - only there's a tractor and a guy picking potatoes instead. With a nice sepia tone to it...really artsy...and sepia always goes very nicely with a moist bronze tan glistening in the sunlight. Yep...Hugh Jackman half-naked basking in the sunlight. Yep. Hmmmm...okay...where was I?

Oh, yeah...okay, there he is...toiling away in the field when, "Eureka!"...a "light-bulb" moment...comes into his head. You see the camera panning in quickly - so you know something super-inspirational has just occurred. It's one of those "epiphany" moments...and it's a definitive turning point in the film. (Yes...I decided to scrap the book idea - and go straight to the big screen on this puppy.)

"PotatoMan" gets this vision...this astonishingly "Nostradamus-clear as a bell" revelation...which will change history as we know it: Mr. Potato Head.

Oh, sure, scoff at Mr. Potato Head...but many lives were virtually changed because of him. And lest us not forget this...how many toys do you know were that famous enough to have a counterpart...other than Barbie...and her and Ken never did tie the knot...the harlot. But, Mr. Potato Head indeed made a respectable woman out of Mrs. Potato Head...and was willing to share not only the limelight with her...but also his very being. His parts...they fit on Mrs. Potato Head; both are willing to see things out of the eyes of the other...literally. This IS the way a marriage should be. We should learn from them...these are compromises...not who gets the car on Wednesday and who gets to control the remote...but when Mr. Potato Head lends a hand to the Missus....he honestly lends her one. I am near tears here, people...theirs is such...such...a giving relationship.

And don't forget how Mr. Potato Head saved Disney. Without him showing up to lend a hand...or eyes...to Woody in "Toy Story"...Pixar would have been yet another dream; with him...it was a full-fledged realization. Potatoes can be the glue to hold a film industry together...and they can even make and break people. History recounts, with much (and then even much more) snickering, the events of 15 June 1992, when our very own Vice-President sat down in Trenton, New Jersey, and matched wits against William Figueroa, 12, a sixth-grader from the Mott School...who bested Mr. Quayle "e"asily. Yes, I'm talking about the great "potato(e)" debaucle which metaphorically whipped the American public into a frenzy - and cut VP Quayle down more than a few slices...and because of the gaffe he couldn't shake...his career quickly went to pieces after that.

"PotatoMan", of course, in his prescience of mind years before...knew these happenings were going to transpire...but, being less the super hero and more just a "thinking man's potato farmer" [who is also immortal]...oh, he knows all. Well, all things potato-related.

When Spuds MacKenzie had to go into rehab in the 1980s...who do you think was there for him? When kids used to decide things by going "One potato, two potato..." it was not merely a nonsensical schoolyard game...but an homage to the great man himself. Yes...even the long ago-played game of "Hot Potato", shortened from its little-known original title of "Hot PotatoMan"...is proof positive that he has fielded and handled all manner of ridicule...and, not being someone who was ever thin-skinned - he has persevered. He has persevered throughout the centuries and never came across as half-baked. He stands resolute in his determination to do good all the days he has on Earth...until that fateful end of days when everything will be consumed by fire. And such is this man - known only as "PotatoMan"...who, even through the inevitable consuming conflagration...before he gets charred to an infinitesimal cinder, will, for one brief, shining moment...smell absolutely wonderful.

End Note: Yes...this was a silly blog. I thought it would be fun to take two totally unconnected items - in this case "Vampires" and "potatoes"...and attempt to give potatoes something which countless couch potatoes could eat up.

So, in closing, I'd like to point one fact out: Face it - potatoes are great. Without potatoes there would be no vodka. Without vodka there would be no Vodka Martinis. Without Vodka Martinis, there would be no James Bond. Without James Bond, Sean Connery's greatest role would have been the guy singing in "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" (oh, don't believe me - go look up the trivia in the IMDb). Without Sean Connery, Craig Ferguson wouldn't get any laughs when he does Connery's Scottish accent...and without Craig Ferguson...I wouldn't get hired next month to be one of his writers...thereby propelling me into the annals of film-writing stardom with my insanely riotous and insightful look into the oft-overlooked and tragically only taken for granted...lowly potato...

...man, what a roundabout way to not only validate this silly blog...but also to beg for a writing job from Craig. (Feel free to forward this on to Craig Ferguson...the least he could do is not laugh.)

22 August 2009

This Blog's for You!

I have found - what can only be described (with no blasphemous intentions) as "The Holy Grail of Beer". It is...in a two word synopsis: "wickedly tasty."

Be it told...I am NOT a beer girl. I never was...I think there are some alcohols you either have to like from the get-go...or you just don't. Some, due to the nature of the beast (I was going to use the pun ..."due to denature..." - but I figured it would be a very subtle alcohol pun at best) - you never can "acquire" a taste for.

I think you either have to like beer, straight gin, whiskey and those horribly licorice-y drinks like Ouzo, Pernod and Absinthe...or you don't. There is no real disguising this stuff. Rum, Tequila and Vodka...well, they can be combined with a myriad of non-alcoholic concoctions which render the alcohol barely perceptible to even the most die-hard discriminating blind taste-tester. You know to whom I'm referring...the one who swears "Brand X" (with the pretty label and higher price tag) is ALWAYS superior to whatever you like...and makes some cockamamie excuse (the glass was dirty AND not the right shape, I have a sinus headache today, my horoscope said today was a very bad day to do a side-by-side blind vodka tasting, etc.) as to why they totally missed their "maker's" mark and picked the inferior product.

So, I got some bratwurst the other day...Nueske's brand (because...well, I'm one of the aforementioned people I parodied above) - and decided this weekend would be a fine time to break out the old Weber, scrape off the Black Widow spiders (seriously, they live on it - no kidding) add some charcoal and play "weekend pyromaniac".

And as any self-respecting bratwurst connoisseur could tell you, no doubt in their Chicago accent, "Da brats need ta be soaked in da beer before you fire dem up." So, naturally, I had to buy beer.

"Which beer to get?" That was the question. Sure, I could go with a Sam Adams...they are tasty and always good (and when I say "always" I mean the two kinds I've tried as I don't like beer) - but they didn't have their "Cherry Wheat" variety - so...heck if I know which kind tastes good...they're beers for heaven's sake! (My friend keeps telling me that the plural of beer is "beer"...but, I like to annoy him...so for the sake of risking my "writing reputation" which I have so much riding on these days...I'm going to refer to more than one beer as "beers".)

Mix-and-match: The thing someone with absolutely no knowledge of a wide variety of items gets to take their chance on in a lotto of sorts...and the thing that restaurants cleverly rely upon to sell those horrible appetizers no one ever buys...only they call it the "appetizer sampler platter". The odds of at least one or two of the mix-and-match products being good - is pretty good. Sure, you'll undoubtedly make some bad choices...but live and learn, right?

And, true to Alabama form...I buy my beer(s) by sight alone. Yes, I concede, the label IS an attention grabber...and IF there would have been an 1880's painting of a naked nymph on the label of one of the bottles, that one woulda gone in the mix. (Yes, Alabama...I'm never going to let you live that one down.) But, I'm perusing the shelf and things like rabid dogs and skulls with crossbones on any product I'm going to ingest - well, they aren't really a turn-on to me...so I'm passing those ones over. Something that sounds Belgian, German, or any type of foreign language which I have trouble pronouncing...automatically goes into the little six-pack holder. Also, anything with the word "Guinness" in it might get the nod...I mean the whole of the UK has been brought up on ale and stout since...well, let's just say they might be a sovereign state - but they're not a sober one. ;) (Oh, c'mon, it's in jest - it was cute.)

So...anything catching my eye is going into the little cardboard thingy...my "gang of six", so to speak. I see this one with rust and burgundy colours, a castle looking thing and a winged horse on the label...oh, yeah...that one's a keeper. Plus it has a nifty foil cap/neckline, and silver words in lower-case calligraphy which say "trois pistoles". All things which scream "this ain't no Miller Light" to me.

Upon arriving home with my stash...I do what anyone in my predicament does...I gather up my treasure trove of beer I've never tried and line them up next to me on the sofa...and Google beer rating sites. I want to see how I fared, after all...did I pick the bad clam brûlée appetizer or did I just find a bloomin' onion in the raw?

I go to uncap my "burgundy beauty" and I find the foil "sticks" all over the neck...hmmmm...a wine foil comes right off...is this SUPPOSED to be like some kid in Kindergarten got a little overzealous with the paste and decided to plaster the bottle with it instead of eating it? Or did someone take my bottle off the shelf...tamper with it and return it to the store...sight unseen à la the Tylenol poisoning incident of 1982? Yeah...I'm paranoid...years of living with "60 Minutes", "20/20" and "Dateline" will do that to a person. But wait...Google has a YouTube regarding the foil...in the video they said "they can't stand the foil" - but they don't mention it sticking all over the place...but darnit...they mentioned how great the beer was! What do I do?? What do I DO??? Sigh...back in the box it goes.

I know! I'll go to the store tomorrow and check the other labels - if they are all sticky and hard to get off - well, surely that's the way it was meant to be...or I could call Canada and ask them. Nah...I'll go check at the store instead...it's easier and less embarrassing.

Lo and behold - they have several more - and each one is laden with annoying foil as thin as those bad pizza crusts they try to pawn off as "thin on purpose"...and it's astonishingly hard to remove and only comes off in the tiniest of bits at a time. So...all of you out there who are wondering if the foil of Unibroue's "Trois Pistoles" beer is supposed to be that way? The answer is "yes".

The other answer I have for you is: Yes...go ahead and drink it. Drink it and do what the one online guy says to do...put it in a brandy snifter glass - oh geez...it's divine. It's heavenly...it's better than most wine I've ever had. The label touts the aftertaste is that of "old port wine". I might not have a cupboard with old port wine in it to make that discernment - but I tell you, with a shelf life of six years (yes, this specific beer sports a shelf life of six years)...my cupboard is going to be full of these babies.

Yes, they are THAT good. And for any of you who don't believe me - I would like you to take the challenge I'm offering up: Go to the store...buy a four pack (or a six pack of mix-and-match of these only), crack one open, and...IF you don't like it...email me. I'll gladly come over and take the rest of them off your hands. ;)

Side note: I don't typically spell-check these things...I hate the spell-checker as it gives one the illusion of false security...after all that word "on" you put really was supposed to be "in" and the spell-check will let it slide...so I am a great proponent of re-reading what you wrote...in my case...several times - because there's always something I change...and the subsequent obligatory 47 tweaks...AFTER I post it. But...I had a friend read this before I posted it up...to give me the "yeah, it's not THAT bad" thumbs-up, okie-dokie sign...and she pointed out that I should "recheck my spelling of 'pyromaniac'"...and upon doing so, I had to laugh. You see, I spelled it "pryomaniac" and I couldn't help but think it was more than apropos as that is, in a nutshell, what I was in my dealings with the foil...attempting (nearly in vain) to pry it all off - at least around the mouth of the bottle. So, instead of rewriting part of this blogumn to find a way to segue that word into it...and this explanation as well...I opted to post an addendum of sorts in the guise of a "side note".

And yes, the beer looked much better when I first poured it...it had been sitting for an hour or so when I snapped this photo.

17 August 2009

Hooters' Hole

Sobriety checks, red light cameras, and designated drivers. They are all deterrents to driving drunk...but I think I've found something MUCH better.

Behold, the "Hooters' Hole":

A few of these strategically placed things around Montgomery and it will be like a worm on a hook, a bit of cheese in a mousetrap, or a moth to a flame.

Those of you who have seen it in the daytime pulling out of the Twin Oaks Shopping Center (aka the Hooters/TJMaxx/Fresh Market) parking lot might have had to swerve a bit or drive into the oncoming lane when making a right turn. Those of you who are unfamiliar that it's there...especially at nite...well, good luck to you. It's a force to be reckoned...or at least negotiated around...with.

Then it got me thinking, "Just how many people, perhaps a little over the .08 legal limit, have gotten behind the wheel of their car only to find themselves calling for a tow truck?" Hey, I've clipped that thing with my back right wheel in the daytime with no alcohol in me - and I know it's there! Imagine being a little impaired in the dark...and you've got the perfect DUI trap.

So, I called up Hooters tonite (Sunday) and spoke with the manager (who was extremely nice and tolerated my line of wacky questioning) to ask her if she knew of anyone who stomped back inside after getting swallowed up by the hole. You can't really tell by the photo - but that thing's gotta have a three foot sudden drop-off...and it's not confined to only being IN the parking lot. The perimeter of this baby is huge...slowly swallowing up the street...kinda like some alien blob. In fact, the manager herself said she damaged the underside of her car the other day turning a bit too sharply. I disagree. You don't HAVE to turn sharply to end up in this hole...all you have to do is turn into your lane...the sheer placement of the thing will do the rest. As I said earlier, you basically have to drive into the oncoming lane in order to avoid that thing - especially if you have a long car...or a van like I do.

While she didn't know of anyone who got stuck or drove into this hole, it could just be they managed to get out of it before the police showed up. Face it, if you damage your car driving into a hole on the side of the street leaving a bar after you've had a couple drinks...you just might not want to alert the authorities or have them alerted by some tow truck's flashing lights. You're going to make as little a scene as possible.

And speaking of scenes...this scary thing has been on the scene being seen by me for years. What is up with the county not doing something about it? Does someone have to get badly injured before anyone takes the initiative to come out there and fix the thing? There's a couple more mini-holes growing each day in that same parking lot that will soon progress to "wok hole" status (it's too large to be classified as a plain old pot hole) if they aren't attended to in the near future.

So, to borrow and tweak Mark Bullock's signature "Clean up!" phrase he so eloquently trumpets when admonishing restaurants with failing Montgomery County Health Department scores in WSFA News' "Food For Thought" segment...all I can say to ALDOT about this hole is...

"Fill up!"

I apologize to those of you out there who were expecting to read this blogumn replete with countless "Hooters' boobies" puns and references...as I refrained. But if you ask me very nicely in an email...I'm sure I could accommodate you. ;)

15 August 2009

Numpties, Dolts and Twits, Oh My!

Have you ever wondered why we say the things we do? How all our words ended up in our vocabulary and why some haven't?

There are plenty of words out there - just open up any book-form dictionary and you'll see them...word after word...page after page. Most of them have never been uttered by the majority of people...and with 140 characters on Twitter...even less will be. But, look where they've originally come from: France, Germanic, Celtic, Old Norse, Upper Slobovia, Old English, and so forth. (Okay, I might have taken a tiny liberty there.)

Granted, French people speak French, Italian people speak Italian, and so on ad infinitum...but, England - they speak the same language as we do, right? Then why is it we can't understand some of their words?

When you really think about it - why did some of their language come over here....why is some of it so incredibly foreign to us...and, to add confusion to madness, why are some words we speak the same - but mean something totally different?

Even Craig Ferguson makes reference to this from time to time with his "fanny" bit - which should not be at all confused with an English "fanny" bit - because that's something else entirely.

The newest word that I've seen make it "over the pond" as it were, would be "wonky". Five years ago you'd be hard pressed to find anyone saying it here except for the stray person who'd also be blurting out "twit", "daft" and "lovely". Now, I've heard it on television even just today - Liza Minnelli was on Craig Ferguson's show and sure enough, "wonky" popped out of her mouth. Even people in Alabama are gravitating toward all things wonky...but, I have to admit, the day I hear Jeff Foxworthy incorporate, "Y'all watch this...it'll be bleedin' wonky..." into his redneck routine...well, that's the day...well, that one there...heck, that's GOT to be one of the signs of the Apocalypse for sure.

Now, I'm not at all insinuating America is full of dolts and numpties; but I'm also not saying all things English make a whole lot of sense either.

I sometimes watch a show on the BBC Channel called "Bargain Hunt" - a very dapper, slightly engaging, yet irritating man, hosts it. The gist of the show is - two teams of paired contestants get a set amount of money and then they're tasked to look around the flea market and buy a few items to be auctioned off the following week...the team who fetches more for their trinkets there will be declared the winner and can keep the proceeds. This host is always saying typically British things, as well, he should...but he's partial to one saying in particular, "Cheap as chips." Okay...I guess the chips he means are the ones we call French fries here...or are they potato chips...they certainly can't be poker chips...but hmmm...this isn't a cooking show or anything, so who really knows.

Speaking of cooking shows -- on "The Food Channel" they have another British guy, Robert Irvine, who hosts "Dinner Impossible" where he is given some nearly impossible task, such as "Make Dinner for all these New Jersey Roller Derby Chicks...but there can't be ANY utensils - you've got eight hours - go shopping". Oh, they've put him in all kinds of fun situations and he's always pulled thru in the end. The phrase he fancies is, "It's as different as chalk and cheese".

Now, here in the States we have "comparing apples to oranges" - not sure if they have it there in the UK...but it definitely would have fit in very nicely in a food-based show. But "chalk and cheese"? Why not toadstools and turpentine, tea-cakes and scones? Oh well, it's a saying...what can I say?

I am sure the influence of words - crossing into both culture's vocabulary happening -- rises exponentially due to films, television shows and the Internet...and I'd give you $20.00 - that's 12.0940 GBP - just to hear the Queen say "Fo shizzle"...but that's probably as likely as her saying "Oh, sod off"...well, at least with the cameras rolling.

So, while I can't do anything to influence the Queen, I will focus on myself and continue to do my part calling people "twits" as I have since I was a kid, calling things "wonky" as I have for the last few years, and, my newest favourite acquisition, calling people "numpties"...well, until people start knowing what it means - then I'll move on to something quite unheard of here.

After all, there's always more words where "those" came from. ;)

06 August 2009

Cl...assy Reminders

You can spell "CLASS" a lot of ways - but..."Remind me of your name again in the morning" is not one of them. Let me elucidate...

My daughter and I were doing our usual TJ Maxx/Fresh Market jaunt today and we noticed a lady who was walking back to her car in the parking lot wearing a T-shirt which looked exactly like this:

She had a couple kids in tow, one of whom was a girl approximately 10-years old...give or take a year or two. Now, correct me if I'm wrong...or maybe I'm just overly prudish...but isn't wearing a shirt with a saying like that - in front of your pre-teen daughter - an open invitation?

In a couple years from now when the daughter has a boyfriend...if she doesn't have one already (yes, I'm rolling my eyes...I've met so many people recently with "'tweens" who have "actual" boyfriends or girlfriends...and the parents are bragging about it)...and the mother is wondering how the heck her "oh-so" innocent daughter got pregnant when she didn't know ANYTHING about sex -- well...there ya go.

Maybe she has a few more T-shirts at home in her bureau saying things like "Don't bother...I'm not drunk yet"..."Who needs brains, when you have these!"...and "You're a naughty boy...go to my room!" Keep in mind those are only the ones I can put on my blog here at the Montgomery Advertiser's site because of the "word censor". I've seen a LOT worse at those little kiosks in the mall...I've seen mothers AND their teenage daughters shopping together for naughty T-shirts right in Eastdale Mall. (Bear in mind this all is taking place in a town [in a state] which just banned a wine because the label depicted a painting of the side view of a nude nymph on a bicycle.)

Yep...nothing instills a real sense of mother/daughter bonding like matching "I'm a virgin (but then again, this is a very old shirt)" T-shirts.

And while this definitely proves the old adage, "You can't buy class" - I bet you can get the saying put on a T-shirt (especially with a few of the letters strategically worn off). ;)
(I also post this blog on the Montgomery Advertiser's online site...just in case you were wondering why I mentioned them and the "word censor".)