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".

28 February 2010

A Different Type of Olympics

On the way home today I jokingly said to my daughter, "Well, you and Apolo Ohno have something in common." She replied, "What?" and I said, "Well, you both really screwed up in the Olympics."

It's no secret I adore Ohno...and, altho he did touch the one guy...eh, maybe a gentle nudge...but the Canadian guy did the same and he medalled - Apolo should have as well. Or, at the very least, they both should have been disqualified.

But I digress.

Today (Saturday) my daughter also was in an Olympiad competition: the Alabama Science Olympiad. If you don't know what that is, no problem...I'll enlighten you.

Kids from various schools study their butts off to take tests and build contraptions on their "off time" and trudge on up to venues in the wee hours of the morning; this time at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and compete for gold, silver and bronze...and the added glory of having their school place 1st, 2nd or 3rd overall.

All in all, it's an epic event and any child who participates, regardless of whether they win a medal or not...should be very, very proud indeed.

Oh, did I mention that their teachers expend countless hours of their own time and so do coaches? And parents quizzing their kids and helping their kids in between homework and regular tests and quizzes? Well, that, too.

The determination and the stamina of these kids really should be applauded. I went to the sprawling campus and watched as children (mostly of the high school variety) ran clear across campus in order to make it to the next event. Cell phones were employed to shuttle alternates to buildings which housed competitions which shut their doors to competitors who showed up after the designated hour. Scurrying around to get the proper paperwork (you can't get in to participate without your form) from students who were still shut in - in a prior event...because it was running late...knowing they were, in essence, forfeiting their own chance of medalling...all in the aspiration of teamwork and the overall good of their school.

No one wants to go home empty-handed...but everyone can't win. Even with 20-plus events, and three medals each...there's many more participants than places on the podium.

And I have to think back to the "real" Olympics. There are literally dozens upon dozens...I have no clue how many...countries which participate...and most walk away...empty-handed; but that doesn't stop them. I don't think I've seen anyone from Syria ever win anything (not saying they haven't)...or Vietnam...or Portugal. The top medal count always seems to have USA and Russia in it...but then again, they send like 200 athletes each - poor little Trinidad & Tobago probably have three.

Just like at the competition today...some schools had dozens and some had a couple...but that didn't deter their spirit. The cheers were just as loud...the glory just as great...and the defeat just as heart-breaking - and the perseverance just as prevalent.

And, no, in case you were wondering...my daughter didn't medal in her two events (she has, in the past, walked away with at least one in all the previous years she'd competed) - but I'm just as proud of her.

Sure, I would have been beaming from ear-to-ear had she whooped Montgomery's LAMP School Team 1 and Team 2 (geez...those kids were awesome...seriously awesome) - but, you know what...she shone, in my eyes, just as bright as any gold medal would have.

All the students did.

Apolo's got nothing on these kids. Ohno...yep...I said it. ;)

20 February 2010

The Beauty of the Olympics

Okay, is it just me - or are a lot of these women in the Winter Olympics this year just drop dead gorgeous?

I've watched Olympics for years, and sure, there was the occasional pretty woman...like ice skating's Katarina Witt from Germany...but this year...wow!

USA's skiier, Lindsey Vonn, is just stunning:

Torah Bright looks more like Elle MacPherson's younger sister than an Australian snowboarder:

And Pre-Raphaelite beauty, Lindsey Jacobellis, also a snowboarder (from the USA)...is downright captivating:

I tell you, these women are SO hot...I don't know how the snow doesn't melt beneath their feet.

I'll be on the lookout for more "ice princesses" in the days and events to come. It's just too bad there's no real eye candy for the girls -- except for Apolo Ohno (who is still darned cute as a button) and Russian silver medalist ice skater, Evgeni Plushenko. Yeah...I've always been partial to Russian gymnasts and skaters in the Olympics...I don't know what that is about...but oooh - they could melt my little cold heart any day. ;)

All I'm saying is - if there isn't already a 2010 "Winter Olympics Women's Calendar"...there sure should have been. And, if I were a guy...I'd be buying me a snowboard right about now.

14 February 2010

Olympic Musings III...aka "The Winter Games"

I am not sure how many people have been keeping up with my blogs...but for the sake of those who haven't -- I love the Olympics.

I always have and I probably always will.

I've been watching these things as far back as I can remember clearly - and that would be the 1968 Olympics (yes, I know I am old). And, as the games are on right now, I'm watching them as I write.

But there's a few things I have to mention regarding them before I go insane:

It's pronounced Biathlon...it's THREE syllables - not FOUR. See?
http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/audio.pl?biathl02=biathlon There's no second "a" in it to make it Biathalon...even though, I must say, it sounds better that way. But, if you MUST say it, oh, like in a newscast...um Montgomery newscasters...please, for the love of all things sacred AND the English language...at least go look it up first.

And while I pick on Montgomery (as I've heard them say it wrong each time) they're not the only guilty ones, as some commentators AT the Olympics have been saying it wrong as well. But then again, they've hired people like Pat O'Brien, who, even if you don't count his smarmy sex-scandal fiasco, was about as annoying as they come. Sometimes I wonder if the average IQ of their commentators is a 5.8...you know, if you throw out the low score (typically anyone talking during the ice dancing competition) and throw out the high score (Bob Costas).

In fact, if it wasn't for Bob Costas single-handedly saving the show with his immeasurable talent and genial appeal alone, we'd be left to such riveting commentary as:

"Ooooh, that's gonna hurt them." Said anytime anyone falls in any sport. Really? So, "screwing up" isn't yet an Olympic sport??

"You really don't want to do that in an Olympic competition." As if, sub-par performances are totally acceptable during the nationals...or the world championships.

And my personal favourite...

"Well, Jim, he really wants to win it this time." As opposed to NOT wanting to win all the other times he's competed. Ugh.

And, seriously, how much money does Morgan Freeman need? And is Visa really the only card accepted at any Olympic game? So, there are actually Lithuanian and Slovenian Visa cards? I always wondered about this.

Oh, I'll wonder about that later and Google it. But for now I must get back to watching the games and the athletes...which, by the way, is only a two-syllable word. ;)

06 February 2010

Planning Your Super Bowl Party

I am a sucker for cookbooks.

I must have...oh a couple hundred; I've never counted them, but I know it has to be over 100...or close to it. I get the majority of them dirt cheap at TJ Maxx, the library here in town, or the Thrift Shop on base. I'd never pay regular price for them - these things are always outrageously priced, and to be honest with you, I use Epicurious.com for 98% of my recipes. I just must be hungry when I buy them I guess.

Take for instance my newest one: "Seriously Simple Holidays". It's a handful of recipes I'd probably never make - I don't have access to a bevy of duck legs and the odds of me getting 8-10 pounds of standing rib roast at like $8-10 a pound...is pretty nil. Plus it's just me and my two kids (if you don't count all the cats).

But, nonetheless I bought it - one recipe must have looked tasty and it was less than $4.00 and it had all these lovely photos, and did I mention I usually am hungry when I go into TJ Maxx?

Now, I've never hosted a Thanksgiving dinner - no one ever comes here and I have no friends within the driving vicinity and, even if I did, they probably have their own family. Anyway, this holiday feast preparation which they suggested seemed a bit excessive if you ask me...and I was likening it to hosting a Super Bowl party (which I've never done either). But my little gears started turning and I thought some side-by-side (or underneath-by-underneath as it were) comparisons might be fun. This is modified and condensed...as they have two pages devoted to proper hunting/gathering etiquette. And, just so there won't be any confusion, all comments in parenthesis for their "Thanksgiving" prep are mine, not theirs:

Thanksgiving: According to this book you should start preparing one MONTH prior - making pate, pie and turkey stock and then popping them all in the freezer.

Super Bowl: One month prior - still paying out bets you lost as your team didn't make it.

Thanksgiving: Two weeks before you should start planning your menu.

Super Bowl: Two weeks before you should start cleaning your house (you should; but you won't).

Thanksgiving: One week before - order turkey, plan your table settings and decorations, make grocery list, and shop for "essential holiday equipment" (whatever that means - I'm figuring a new turkey baster as you threw away the last one as there's no possible way to clean the bulb doohickey that you suck the raw turkey juices up with when you baste.)

Super Bowl: One week before - buy lots of chips and salsa. Last year there wasn't any on the shelf when you waited until the nite before.

Thanksgiving: The Saturday before - make caramel sauce for pie, choose dishes, glassware, tablecloths...blah blah Martha Stewartish crapola. Sharpen carving knife. (Seriously - it says that...heaven forbid you have to do that in front of your guests...big...BIG faux pas.)

Super Bowl: The Saturday before - You are too late to buy anything from Walmart. They already sold out seven days before to the people who knew better from last year. But for the purposes of this blog - we are going to assume the "Saturday before" really means whatever Thursday subtracted from Saturday is.

Thanksgiving: Monday - Complete shopping lists. (Apparently you need to pen in "cranberry sauce" because you forgot to add it to your list you made a few days earlier. Even if you don't like cranberry sauce...add it to your list. It's mandatory. Don't worry - you have a few days left to actually type up or hand-calligraphy your list. Perhaps you need to buy a new calligraphy set? Stupid you...it was right there NEXT to the turkey basters at Williams-Sonoma.) Begin shopping for produce, organize refrigerator - cleaning out to make extra room for turkey. Defrost turkey stock.

Super Bowl: Thursday before - buy more chips and salsa as you ate it all last nite. Eat everything in fridge to make room for beer.

Thanksgiving: Tuesday - Reheat stock, make gravy, cranberry relish (told you that you needed to add it to your list) and put it in glass jars (why? No clue - just do it - the book says so), chop all your vegetables and put them in zip-lock bags (this sentence brought to you by whoever makes zip-lock bags), clean and chop parsley (again - more kickbacks from the zip-lock people) then zip-lock it away. Remove chicken liver pate from freezer and transfer to fridge (you will later feed to cats as no one eats that pompous crap plus it already LOOKS like Fancy Feast cat food).

Super Bowl: Friday - buy lots of beer now that you have all that room in the fridge. Beer tip: Buy Budweiser, Miller Lite and Michelob...no one's going to drink those fancy beers with rabid dogs or old guys on the label (at least not in a room full of other guys)...plus they are expensive. Put stack of coasters on the table to appease your wife.

Thanksgiving Eve: Pick up turkey and then do dumb things like buy flowers, arrange flowers, chill wines and water, put more things in zip-lock bags, set the table already (unless you have cats...trust me on this one), put Post-it notes (yeah...another product placement book deal here) on each platter designating what it will hold (again, I kid you not - this book says this), organize coffee and tea, plan a schedule for the next day (typed or maybe you have time to get them embossed by a professional if you hurry).

Super Bowl Eve: Clean toilet. Pick up underwear from bathroom floor. Put out dainty hand towels no one will use anyway. Gather all the clutter lying all over the house and toss it in the back bedroom; close the door (remind people NOT to go in there). Get your football phone out of the closet ( you know...that you got free with your subscription to "Sports Illustrated" 10 years ago) and hook it up. Look at it fondly as it WILL go back into the closet tomorrow after the game because your wife will make you do it. She does every year. This year will be no exception. Buy chicken wings and hot sauce. Buy the hottest, bad-ass-est one you can find - look for words like "hotter than hell" and "butt burning" on the label. Call dog over...while wife isn't looking, toss coasters at dog, Frisbee-style, ensure dog chews up each one. When wife comes into earshot - reprimand dog loudly. Chuckle silently behind her back.

Thanksgiving Day: Unzip everything you put into zip-lock bags, cook turkey, fill water glasses, defrost pie, put out pate with crudités and water crackers, arrange the bar...yadda yadda...carve turkey with knife you sharpened the other day (thank God they reminded me). Laugh with an air of superiority at the fact you will use the word "crudités" 47 times during the course of the evening...when all they really are...are chopped raw vegetables you took out of zip-lock bags. Practice this sentence, "Help yourselves to some lovely crudités over there on our vintage Louis XVI sideboard we picked up in a quaint little shop on one of our shopping jaunts to Rouen, France."

Super Bowl Day: Put out dip in giant football platter you picked up when you bought salsa and chips. Put chips in plastic team helmet you also wasted $40 bucks on. Throw away burnt wings you forgot about. While you're in the kitchen, phone your house from your cell phone so you can pick up your football phone in front of your friends. Feign conversation, "Uh...you got the wrong number." Hang up, now use it to order pizza. Marvel at the look of awe on their collective faces...as all THEIR football phones are at home in their closets.

03 February 2010

Let Them Eat Cake!

This is my second favourite time of the year.

I'm not talking Valentine's Day candies, cards or flowers...heck, I was married for 20some years and I never really got those things then, it's surely not gonna happen now. I'm talking about an absolutely fabulous tri-coloured sweet...official name: "The King Cake".

While this King Cake history goes back further than the New Orleans version, for the purposes of why they are sold in Montgomery, Alabama...I'm going out on a limb here and assuming it is for the New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities. The King Cake is traditionally a ring of twisted bread topped with icing made of melted sugar which hardens nicely then gets further topped with sprinkly sugar in the traditional Mardi Gras hues of gold, purple and green. They also toss in three coins; gold, purple and green...three strings of Mardi Gras beads...you got it: gold, purple and green, and lastly, a baby. Some believe the baby represents Jesus. I think Jesus wouldn't be gold, purple, or green-coloured...but that's my own personal belief. So, whatever the reason the baby is in there - the luck falls on the person who finds the baby (at one time traditionally baked inside...now they just toss him haphazardly on top with all the other trinkets) in their slice of cake. That "luck" just so happens they get the honour bestowed upon them to foot the bill for procuring next year's cake. Yeah...sounds awfully lucky to me, too.

So, off we trod to get one at my favourite store: Fresh Market. And as luck would have it they have them...and I'd actually be able to eat it the next day when my thyroid scan diet ends! Yes...I'm preparing my make-up feast of sorts one day in advance, and this cake is topping the list.

Well, imagine our outright shock when we open our clamshell cake container -- our lovely gold baby was missing an arm. Where's his little arm? Are we going to ingest the arm? What happens if you ingest a hard plastic fake gold-gilded arm? Will it pass all the way through?

Me? I'm thinking more of intestinal perforation...so I'm hoping the arm wasn't on the baby when he was tossed onto our lovely Cinnamon King Cake.

Still distraught that I have a package with a sub-par baby, my son picked up another the following day - one I've always wanted to try...the Sour Cream King Cake.

I throw open this cake container...wanting to get my baby out as I like to line them all up at the very top of my laptop ...their cheruby little multi-coloured shiny butts precariously balancing, faces looking at me while I type, and hands outstretched in their little "I love you THIS much" sentimentality. This always makes me feel happy this time of year.

But...this was worse...my baby had NO ARMS! My baby also had NO LEGS, NO HEAD and NO TORSO. Someone forgot to toss a baby onto my cake. Not only that - but my three shiny coins were missing as well! Well, I'm not feeling that great NOW...no row of shiny babies...which can also be turned so they moon me from the top of my laptop when I want to be in a real zany mood. But this won't happen now, and I just don't feel very happy at all...was it all because I was short changed 'my change and my baby'? Was that all to it??

No...it dawned on me it might be something a little bit more...sinister!

These trinkets...probably fresh off the lead-lined cargo bins on lead-lined boats in China...are probably themselves laden with high enough levels of lead to leach into the yummy warm icing goodness of my cake...and how would I ever know?

Well, I decided to go over to WebMD's site and check out what the symptoms of lead poisoning are...and frankly...I definitely see a connection:

Pain, numbness or tingling of the extremities: In other words, when I slap your hand or kick your shin for going for the last piece - you might feel some slight numbing or tingling sensation.

Muscular weakness: Okay, your shin I kicked MIGHT also cause you to limp for a few days...I'd keep pressure off it if I were you.

Headache: Did you drink all the alcohol BEFORE or AFTER you ate the cake? If it was before...chances are you probably will get a headache, dumbass.

Abdominal pain: How the heck did you manage to get a tummy ache from just one skinny sliver of King Cake?? Umm...what's
this whole other empty box in the trash?? You ate one King Cake ALL BY YOURSELF and didn't save any for me??? No wonder all you could eat was that scrawny slice...and to think I almost fell for that "diet" thing.

Memory loss: Since they are so incredibly tasty...you might go back for seconds and thirds...and in the morning when your significant other wants a piece and all they find is another empty box sitting there on the counter, your "Uh, I forgot" excuse will
probably render you with more pain, numbness and tingling of the extremities.

Mood disorders: You've never seen someone with more mood disorders than someone who is denied their LAST piece of King Cake. Once the piece is gone...they could never truly savour that "Last Piece" euphoric feeling one gets. Without that feeling, mood disorders will probably find ways to rear their ugly heads...and those ugly heads will probably have even uglier words coming out of those flapping lips.

Fatigue: Yeah...polishing off a whole King Cake and a few brewskies will undoubtedly make you loosen up your pants and stretch out on the sofa with the remote. This one might further substantiate the fact you ingested tainted products by someone telling you to get the lead out. Again, this might also be followed by muscular weakness by someone physically kicking your lazy Super Bowl-watching butt OFF the sofa to help clean up in the kitchen. They didn't invent half-time for nothing, you know!

So, yes, I am convinced these little trinkets should be kept separately in a little plastic bag and positioned off to the side of the cake in the container. I don't know about you - but I seriously don't want to clean up the kitchen after I just ate one of these...plus I bet they don't wash them first...ugh...that's a whole other blog waiting to be written right there. But not now...I'm way too fatigued.

(Yes, I know real lead poisoning isn't funny...but I bet these things actually have lead in them...and honestly, I love the cakes, but I'd rather have the trinkets off to the side.)