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".

24 April 2010

Monkey Sea...Monkey Due

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid I got two presents a year if I was lucky. And most times I wasn't lucky and I got one combined "Birthday and Christmas Present"...the "luck" of being born ten days before Christmas. Sure, I saw my sisters and brother get TWO presents a year, but I would just sometimes get one. Sometimes it was a really nice present...like the year I got my purple Schwinn bike with the silver glitter banana seat with the purple and silver handlebar streamers...but mostly it was crap.

And speaking of crap...there are things we (people my age) always wanted but never could afford to get.

I remember wanting a Gumby and Pokey set in the worst way. Did I get one? No. Did I get something else I seriously didn't want? Yes.

That was the way things happened in those days...we didn't have Happy Meals, Gameboys, and unlimited parental funding every...single...time we went into some store. Nowadays kids don't look forward so much to Christmas, sad to say; as Christmas pretty much happens throughout the year for most kids in some shape or form.

And when I was a little kid I remember reading comic books. They weren't MY comic books as I never had comic books...I did, however have a "French-English Dr. Seuss Dictionary" book and a Barbie wedding set that's worth nearly millions now if only I kept them IN the box and never played with them.

But, again, as usual, I'm digressing.

In the very back of most comic books you'd see these marvelous things you could order for a few bucks...and a few bucks more for shipping and handling. You remember the things...if you are as old as me..."X-ray Specs"...guaranteed to allow you the superhuman ability to see thru clothing...but, for some reason, stopped at underwear. I don't know about you, but I never wore any lead-lined undies - but as the glasses were cheap, perhaps they only allowed you one layer of fabric before their power waned a bit.

So, when I ran across something I always wanted, in, of all places, TJ Maxx...well, I just had to get it.

Then I promptly rang up my friend and proclaimed, "I got something at TJ Maxx I always wanted as a kid! Three guesses what it is!"

"Uh...a bra."

"No...I have bras. C'mon, think um...something you wanted as a kid but you never bought it...they'd have them advertised in the back of comic books."

"Um...a Weenie Whistle?"

"No...but I watched 'The Santa Clause', too. I never wanted a Weenie Whistle ever. C'mon...you always knew someone who had a friend who had them...and they said they were bogus..."


"NO! You almost got it - SEA...???..."

"I said seahorses already."

"No! Sea Monkeys!"

(My son, by the way, guessed "Weenie Whistle, too - but did manage to get it right after the 2nd clue. Naturally, I had to call him up, risking life and limb talking on my cell phone in my car, as a monumental thing like Sea Monkeys...well, can't wait until you get home.)

Yes, I, a grown woman of - um - a certain age...plunked down $8.99 plus tax to finally get my dream present.

But, remember...in the ad they had a castle and a whole family and you could watch them grow and prosper and colonize a whole microcosm...right there in your own home! (You didn't need a whole pool. Oh...go read my second-to-last blog.) This wasn't just your run of the mill brine shrimp. No sirree..these were specialized "Sea Monkey" spawn, for cripes' sake. The ads...the ads wouldn't show little faces and tails and stuff if it wasn't so. I mean, this was one of those "money back if you're not satisfied" deals that guarantees this is the real McCoy. And, honestly, how would you even mail back a bunch of living, growing sea creatures, anyway?



So...I carefully laid out my instructions and three foil packets...and removed the paper which surrounded my Sea Monkey habitat...and laid that out as well. Sure, it read like a car or stereo manual...with pictographs and hieroglyphics and arrows and such...but since I have only one shot, I want to make sure I don't do anything wrong. There is, after all, freeze-dried life at stake here.

So, there I was, with my Sea Monkey paraphernalia strewn in front of me like Indiana Jones and a temple map...my eyes darting from one instruction bit to the next...making sure I wasn't going to screw up a crucial step and somehow upset the delicate balance of Sea Monkey-ness.

Everything I did would have to be carefully planned and carried out...plus double checked and rechecked...and rechecked again before I even started. Once I got that ball in motion, as in "Indiana Jones"...there's no stopping it and no turning back.

Day 1: Pour water into Sea Monkey container...let sit for 24 hours.

Damn, damn, damn, damn.

But I've waited for 40 years...another day won't make THAT big a difference.

Sure, that's what grown-ups tell you when you get all antsy and can't wait another minute...and, true to form...I felt like I couldn't wait an entire day. A whole day was light years away...and I was that little kid on Christmas Eve again.

("Monkey Sea...Monkey Blog Two" next time.)

18 April 2010

Of Haggis and Owl...and Other Things Foul

I've recently been called out by a fellow blogger to participate in writing a poem. For those who don't exactly keep up here (at the Montgomery Advertiser blog section), mgb12345, who is very fond of writing poems, suggested I write one. Now, truth be told...I am not at all poem-y.

And I don't really like the ones which don't rhyme.

To me, if there's no rhyme...there's no reason. A poem without rhyme seems like a very short story with random line breaks. And I seriously don't get it.

But I wrote a silly poem the other day and I wrote to mgb12345 and told her about it. She wanted me to share...and I haven't, until now.

But, first I must confess that this is not my first foray into the poem realm. Long, long time ago, one of my online friends recruited the efforts of her group of online friends to attempt to win a radio contest in Scottsdale, Arizona. The gist of this contest was this: write a "funny" poem about haggis and win. Oh, wait, there's more...this was for the Arizona Renaissance Festival and the prize would be 10 free tickets (a small fortune, let me tell you - even in those days) and the "honour" of being crowned King (or Queen) of the Festival and all sorts of miscellaneous things being bestowed upon them.

So, I...a sucker for nearly any contest and downright pathetic whenever anything remotely challenging or competitive is put into the mix...set about writing a poem. Then I sent it to my friend. She culled all the ones sent to her (yeah, try to get the money back from her now, Renaissance Faire people) and submitted the one she considered her best bet.

As luck would have it, it was mine. And as further luck would have it...we (and when I say "we" I mean "I") won. Without further ado...I present my winning poem...from about 10-15 years ago:

The Minstrel's Ode to Haggis

Now gather ye maidens for a tale from our land...
Of the Scottish fare we eat that has gotten out of hand.
It's bits of the sheep innards that no one would eat...
Then boiled it its own stomach and WE call it a "treat".

So drink up and be merry for soon we will dine...
On a boiled tummy bag...ugh wench, fast, more wine.
If you think living now seems sometimes too dismal...
Just think of the Renaissance with no Pepto-Bismol.

Even Shakespeare wrote of haggis in a play called MacBeth...
With three witches a-cooking, a fate worse than death.
Listen close, heed my words, 'tis true in Scotland we tell...
That the something "rotten in Denmark" was the haggis smell.

So, as previously stated, she won all sorts of things...one of which was a real live (er...dead) haggis which she, in undoubtedly a grog-like induced state, decided a keen idea would be to ship this thing to me in the middle of summer, in a box surrounded by dry ice.

Dry ice, it seems, isn't necessarily "dry" when the bag it is encased in ruptures. And it isn't so much "icy" then, either. So, when I got this soggy box in the blistering heat of an Alabama summer...the first thing I did was say, "Ooooh a box." The second thing I said was, "Okay, the FBI will surely be coming to my door as whatever is inside this head-sized box...smells like...a severed head."

Okay, I've never actually smelled a severed head sent UPS, but chances are it's not too far off the mark from what I received. I, being the inquisitive sort...and not knowing what was inside the box...but really, really curious at this point, opened it.

All I can say is that the smell a sealed box of rotting, spoiled, decaying haggis emits pales in comparison with an opened box of rotting, spoiled, decaying haggis. Words like "vile" and (puntastically apropos) "gut-wrenching" come to mind. Also every single mob movie I've ever seen came to mind...and the "ear scene" from David Lynch's "Blue Velvet" as well...but mainly because I had recently watched it just prior to opening the box.

Yes, smell and memory are closely related because of the brain's limbic system. "Limbic" looks and sounds remarkably similar to the word "iambic", which, ironically is poem-related. In a strange way it's all very poetic really, right?

And that brings us to present day.

The other day I stumbled somehow upon a site which makes and sells "Hello Kitty" wine.
My online friend loves all things "Hello Kitty" so I forwarded the URL on to her. After she asked me which wine I would recommend, I perused their write-ups and came across this "tasty tidbit" for their Pinot Nero: "Best served with red meat, rabbit, lamb, roast beef, 'Zampone and Cotechino', wild owl and hard cheese."

Now, I don't know about you...but it's been virtually years since I've had any "wild owl" and frankly, if I can't get my hands on some prime grade "Spotted Owl"...I'm just going to say a resounding "No" to the whole owl species.

In the wee hours of the morning (all things are much funnier in the wee hours of the morning...hence my timely posting of this blog) my friend then asked her friends (on her forum) if people routinely eat "wild owl" in Britain. I figured it was probably just a typo and they indeed meant "wild fowl"...but, you have to admit..."wild owl" just reeks of the things a parody poem is made of.

So, I made one.

For further clarification of this poem's impetus - I must relay that someone from England replied at the forum saying they knew "gypsies who would cook up roadkill hedgehogs". Again...the things "memorable" poems are made of.

Please keep in mind my poem is in many different meters (at least I'm consistent in my inconsistency)...and I vehemently try to offend everyone equally across the board. :) Also, in my dealings and dabbling into the "world of poems" I've found out that I'm apparently very fond of the word "Ode"...and have used it in the title in all those I've penned. (Yes, all two of them.)

An Ode to All Things Eaten

Wild owls and guinea fowls and hedgehogs found as roadkill
These are the things that Brits do eat...as tasty as a duckbill.
When Americans eat...we like fresh meat...
We hunt it then it's skinless.
But in the UK they're drunk all day...On cheap rosé and Guinness.

Here in the South they like their deer, turkeys and some gator...
They boil them up in a big ole pot with carrots and po-tater.
I'm from New Jersey...we don't kill there, we just go to the market...
We point at things behind the case -- then pay from out the pocket.

Now I won't grab a gun to kill some meal...or a shovel for on-road scraping...
I don't have a pig, or a chicken or a cow...and no sheep here for raping.
So while I sit down with a store-bought snack and log on my computer...
...at some given point I will be drunk...but not with a guy named "Cooter".

You all have mgb12345 to thank for this...please feel free to direct all complaints directly to her. ;)

09 April 2010

Ah...the Sweet Smell of Spring...on Venus!

In keeping with my monthly suggestion of a Montgomery Advertiser online theme (last month was "...Nature's Little...") - I read Liberty4USA's blog and she suggested others post their Spring memories...so I decided to go for it and do a Spring blog myself.

While Liberty let slide she's a closet pyromaniac...and heaven knows I've done my fair share of "setting things on fire for the 'sake' of science"...I won't divulge what horrors befell the unlucky specimens who got the hot end of the deal. Plus...I really don't want PETA putting my childhood photo on signs with a circle and red line through it. So, I'll just confess she's not the only one who found out that you can indeed set things on fire with a magnifying glass...altho I'll admit my infatuation with it stopped LONG ago. ;)

But...back to Spring.

Spring always conjures up imagery in my head of getting a brand spanking new matching pastel outfit to wear to church on Easter Sunday. This included "the works": hat, dress, a flimsy coat, and "shiny as a just minted penny" shoes. Photos were obligatory; gloves were optional...but as I grew up in the 1960s, they were still in vogue and I had to have them. I don't remember ever wearing the outfit more than once...but it was always an event - and fond memories are made of such events.

Spring, growing up in New Jersey...was a transitional thing. My son even remarked to me the other day, upon seeing the outside temperature while in the climate controlled atmosphere of my car, that Spring lasted about one day...and what was up with it going from freezing cold to blazing hot literally overnight.

It is true...I remember in Jersey how the flowers would herald the changing seasons. First the crocus would poke its clever blooms up and out thru the snow...then the narcissus and daffodils...giving way to the luxurious scent of lilac. If you've never smelled a real live, honest-to-goodness lilac bush...you really don't know what you're missing. Forget those Glade air fresheners...even Yankee Candle can't come close. A real Yankee knows lilacs don't reek of things like patchouli and cotton...or whatever combo they use to try to recreate the "lilac" experience. Real lilac hangs on the air as delicately as those lace-like structures etched on a dragonfly's wings...and darts off in the wind as effortlessly and quickly as well. It's there for a moment...and when you think you can hone in on it...it eludes you yet again.

Grabbing handfuls of the lovely blossoms and deeply burying my nose in them...ah...the thing that Spring memories again are made of - but are probably only as sweet as the remembrances of youth. I'm sure the flowers don't emit the same odour they once had. Time has a way of altering the senses and perceptions...and turning the most lovely memories into the mundane when you stray down that road again in another time. Some things are best left to memories...so perhaps it's a good thing I've never seen a lilac bush here in Alabama...and those waxy "effigies" the companies make - well, can't hold a candle to them.

But I'm waxing nostalgic (yes, that clearly was intentional)...

Spring in Alabama - what does it mean to me now?

Mosquitoes? Yeah, okay but they seem to find me year-round...so not that "Spring-like" really. Think, think, think...what do I remember most about this place in the Spring?

I know!

Primordial soup.

We have a swimming pool...or as they call it here in the South, a "cement pond". (Oh, c'mon...that was a joke.) Each year, instead of letting it run (via the pump)...we just let nature run its course...and then just drain it in the Spring, clean out the sludge which accumulated...and fill it back up again. Voila! Yankee ingenuity at its best. (Again...I'm jesting.)

But...in between the time we stop swimming and the time we start swimming...there is this interim period...a "Spring" of sorts if you will...which happens, coincidentally, between Winter and Summer. And in that time period - all kinds of things take up residence in my pool.

There are bugs...water bugs. I don't know how they find my pool...but they do. It's not like there's a little river which leads into my pool...but the water bugs find it anyway. Then the frogs and toads come. This is about the same time that the algae decides to go into hyperdrive. It begins to look like the scum on top of a soup...the stuff that you scoop off when it's simmering. Seriously...this stuff looks like it's just about to boil. There's some anaerobic activity going on I'm certain. Then...that's when "it" happens. Out of this bubbling cold cauldron - "things" begin to grow in this massive soup mixture.

Primordial things.

Primordial things begin to grow...and grow and grow. It's like a full-scale science experiment - my own little planet of life brewing...right in my backyard. We had these one-celled creatures you could SEE with the naked eye. You aren't supposed to SEE one-celled creatures like amoebas. But these were giant amoebas! I kid you not. I had giant microbial mutant life in my pool...and I will probably have it again. The abject lack of a transitional Springtime is probably to blame...certainly not due in any part with our lackadaisical approach to proper pool maintenance.

So while SETI and NASA are out there with their mass spectrometers, telescopes and space stations...searching the far distant skies for extraterrestrial life on other planets, I have intraterrestrial life in my pool each year. Life that I let slip down some drain.

On some grand cosmic scale this is probably terribly sad or terribly ironic...which it is I'm not really sure.

But it sure wouldn't be Spring in Alabama to me...without it.