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".

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".)