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 August 2010

What Made Me Cry Today

It's been 13 years to the day and I still can't do it.

I can't watch any show about Princess Diana without crying. And I've watched a ton of them...and another one just now (some 2007 rerun on The Biography Channel). If you weren't aware, she died 13 years ago, today, in Paris...after what is still considered by many people, very suspicious circumstances. But I don't think I'll go into that here...instead I'll try to tell you why I cry.

I don't really know how, living in New Jersey, and way before 200 channels on my television set...I somehow was mesmerized by a lithe shy creature all the way over in England by the name of Diana Spencer. Now I never bought People magazine or tabloids or watched "Entertainment Tonight" all that often, but somehow the whole fairytale princess thing captured me and held me fast.

I've always had a thing for England...I don't know why but I do. All the rock groups I loved were British groups, all the accents I could do were English (okay, I could do only one and probably not the greatest...but that didn't stop me), all the shows I loved..."Monty Python's Flying Circus", "To the Manor Born", "'Allo 'Allo!", "Doctor in the House", and countless others, were English. So, to love a real-live royal romance...in England...by a girl who was only a half a year younger than me -- well, was pretty much a given.

And it wasn't only me who found this whole dream-come-true fantasy fascinating...the whole world was transfixed and caught up in it, too. One can only speculate that Diana, with her cocked head and down-glancing ways, was just a glimmer of something magical yet to come. Hollywood way back when had a name for it: "It". Clara Bow was coined "The It Girl" back in the 1920s. And after that - you either had "It"...or you didn't.

I think Diana had "It" right from the start...and everyone knew it.

In the very wee hours of Wednesday morning on the 29th of July 1981, me...and a "few friends" - estimated at over 750,000,000 of us, sat enthralled, anxiously awaiting a ceremony the likes of which most of us had never bore witness to before. The only thing remotely in that realm was the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953...and I wasn't around back then. This was, by far, the grandest spectacle I had ever seen in my life: a mere girl was going to be wed...a mere girl who would be Queen one day. Wow! All right before my eyes.

Now, I don't know about you...times have changed...but when I was little I wanted to grow up to be a princess one day. Princess and ballerina came first...writer came later. I would dream of having my Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet and then living happily in the lap of luxury forever after. We didn't have a lot of money growing up...so becoming a princess seemed one way to strike it rich (this was way before the lottery, too). But it wasn't just about the money...it was about the dresses and the balls, the kissing and the "grown-up" stuff grown-ups didn't talk about back then...and knowing which fork out a seemingly endless array of forks...was which. This was what being a princess meant to me when I was very, very young.

Then I grew up and realized I could never be a princess...but here was Diana...MY Diana...stepping up to bat for me...and millions of other long disillusioned "once upon a time" little girls...who were now, like me, expected to have grown up and out of all that fairy-tale nonsense.

But as we are all too aware, her dreams of being a ruling figurehead monarch of the British Empire never came to be...but the unimposing princess, like that ugly duckling in that other fairytale, transformed into a glorious swan instead. And she was adored by millions along the way. Her journey could have ended with just being content to be waited upon hand and foot and rolling her eyes at every daily function she had to partake in to appease the "little people" she would someday rule so she could keep taking those month-long vacations at Balmoral. But...she didn't. She made friends with all the "little people" instead, graciously shaking their hands in the endless lines they queued up in -- and made each of them think they were just as important as she was. Her humanitarian causes were legendary. Who could forget her walking through the minefield in Angola or touching AIDS victims who, at the time, were still shunned and ridiculed by a great deal of the population? Those images ended up being much more synonymous with Diana than that 25-foot train of her bridal gown ever could.

And, on that tragic night in that fateful Paris tunnel...it all came to a screeching halt.


The "People's Princess" was no more.

Tears are welling up in my eyes as I'm typing this. Tears shed for a person I've never met. Tears shed for a person who was chose to step out from the self-indulgent, grand facade opulence of her world...and step into the real world and lives of those less fortunate...and into the hearts of people...just like me.

29 August 2010

Happy Cataclysmic Earth Day!

Only 844 days, 3 hours, 23 minutes, and some seconds left.

I'm watching a program on The Discovery Channel right now titled "Bad Universe". The name of this specific episode is "Asteroid Apocolypse" and the guy just said "The cosmic clock is ticking!" (I won't even bring up the disturbing fact he had a smile on his face when he said it.)

Five minutes before starting this blog I was watching the movie, "Speed". I then said to my daughter, "I wonder if something's on television dealing with some type of cataclysmic Earth thing...it IS Sunday after all." So I scrolled around and found this show. It's a new show...2010; it might be a rerun, but I never saw it before...or should I say I've never seen this one before...as I've seen plenty of the same shows dealing with the same scenarios.

Same doom, different channel.

And it's only going to get worse. See that opening line up there starting off this blog? You know what that is?

No...not days left before the Olympics come to London.

No...not days until the Super Bowl.

No...not days left until the last soldier comes home from Afghanistan.

Not even how many shopping days are left until Christmas. In fact, we won't even have to WORRY about how many days left until Christmas...in 2012. Yep, you guessed right...it's the "Mayan Calendar Clock of Doom!"

Oh, they might have given it a more fancy name - but that's what it is alright. It's a countdown clock to human demise. Our collective demise. Nice handy gadget there - I wonder how many people have input "21 December 2012" into their cell phones to remind themselves to cancel all their appointments for the rest of eternity.

Do you have any clue how many "End of Days" parties are probably booked in swanky hotels all over the world? I wonder if credit cards are charged before or after? I don't know about you -- but that little tidbit of information would significantly effect MY party for sure.

I also wonder what these dedicated Doomsday "propheteers" have up their collective sleeves for us as far as television programming goes. Did you ever stop to envision how December 2012's line-up will look? I have. Seriously...I have. I already know what it looks like NOW...geez...I can just see our happy pre-holiday shows being replaced by the "Twelve Days of Armageddon" or something. Hmmm...just think with me...

"Frosty the Snow, Man, Is About Fifty Feet Deep and This Is Florida!"

"Rudolph's Shiny New Year that He Better Have Celebrated on the 20th of December 'Cause He Won't Be Celebrating it AFTER!"

"A Charlie Brown Impact Crater Christmas"

"How the Grimch Reaper Stole Christmas"

"The Year Without a Santa Claus"

Well, okay, that last one's title was already sad and pathetic enough as it was, so it needed no changing. The rest of them I mentioned...eh...not so funny...but neither is being bombarded every waking moment by some show or another that my life -- and the life of everyone else on the planet, is in some cosmic collision course with Mr. Death.

Sure, we're all going to die someday, but the morbid factor these shows take is just a bit...too icky. Planets lining up - we're all gonna die. Asteroids - we're all gonna die. Giant solar flares - we're all gonna die. The Mayan Calendar, Nostradamus, and Edgar Cayce all said, "You're all gonna die!"

While this is all fun and games and serious hyped-up laugh riots the way it is, millions of kids are toddling off to bed being constantly reminded there won't be any goodies under the tree two years from now. "You just go off to bed now, Timmy, mommy's watching another 'Doom and Gloom' show...I'll be right there to tuck you in during the commercial."

My daughter, who is in the graduating class of 2013, doesn't know what she wants to major in when she goes to college...because, according to the History, National Geographic, Discovery and A&E channels, she won't even make it to high school graduation! Why bother thinking four years out when you're not going to be thinking anything after two?

Anyway, all you television programmers out there...just something to think about...

26 August 2010

CSI: Cereal Sofa Investigation

Cue some "Who" music here...

"I woke up in a Soho doorway...a policeman knew my name..."

Only let's change the lyrics up a tad, shall we?

"I woke up on the couch this morning...a box of Krispies in my arms..."

Now some explanation, which, again, like another "Who" song..."I can't explain".

Many of you know I am a chronic insomniac. Many of you also know I take Ambien. But the thing that many of you don't know is what Ambien does.

Ambien is in a class of drugs called "hypnotics" - what they do is basically make you forget everything you did while under their influence...in varying degrees. It's like short-term amnesia...and you literally walk around in a haze if you get up in the middle of the night or, like I do, wait for them to "kick in" instead of taking them and heading for the bed. Then you do things you have a vague recollection of -- or no recollection of doing. I've written emails, blogs and typed comments to news stories all over the Internet...all virtually without my knowledge.

Hemingway had his alcohol...I have my Ambien. Unfortunately, Hemingway also had something I didn't have: Much more writing talent. But that doesn't stop me from trying. I'm always hoping for that exceptionally great book idea to pop into my head before I forget it and be crowned the next great American writer of "my generation".

Last night was no exception. Or should I say "this morning". My nights I spend writing, watching television and waiting for the Ambien to kick in.

Now, back to the Ambien. Ambien has been implicated in a lot of strange behaviour people do. People have raided their refrigerators, had sex, cleaned their whole house, weeded their gardens, driven to the store, attempted to drive out of their driveways in their SUVs but been clubbed by their now ex-wives in high profile sport careers (if you can really call golf "a sport"), and I'm sure people have even tried to use it as a defense for murder.

As far as I know I've never driven around, I've never killed someone...and I know for certain I haven't had any sex after taking it. The eating, cleaning, and weeding...I've done.

While I don't mind the "magical elves" effect with the cleaning and the weeding...the eating thing I've never really had a problem with...until yesterday.

I woke up and a box of Rice Krispies was on the sofa next to me. I looked at it all perplexed and wondered, "Damn, that's strange...WHY is there a box of Rice Krispies next to me on the sofa?" In fact...I don't even remember waking up (or going to sleep for that matter)...but there it was...right next to me.

There's only two reasonable explanations for this:

Number 1: I got the box of Rice Krispies out of the cabinet and took them back with me to the sofa...for whatever reason I don't know. It's not like I was covered with tell-tale "Krispies dust" all over the place. No bowl and the package wasn't open (unless I ate a handful of dry cereal, neatly rolled the waxy-inner baggie liner and closed the box back up).

Number 2: My son thought it would be fun to play a practical joke on me and put the Rice Krispies package next to me on the sofa while I was semi-comatose. But I don't remember him coming out nor draping my arms lovingly around the box. Certainly he wouldn't have risked doing this as I could have "regained consciousness" at any point and asked him what the heck he was doing.

Number 3: Elves. C'mon...there's three of them on the friggen package...it coulda happened!

Yes, I know I said there were "two"...but I also stated they were "reasonable". The third one, while not totally impossible...is highly implausible.

I really wouldn't have thought too much more about it until I came home after picking my daughter up from school and my son, with total dead-pan delivery, asked me why I was arm and arm with "Snap, Crackle and Pop" this morning.

While I'm quite good at coming up with far-fetched excuses as to why the check wasn't received by the cable and electric companies...I'm apparently not that creative and drew a total blank.

The only thing I could possibly consider is that I wondered how nourishing the ingredients were or that I somehow found myself plagued by a comment at the paper which might have remotely referenced Rice Krispies...and in my altered state decided I would respond with complete and irrefutable information by getting the box out.

While I haven't checked online...that's the one I'm sticking with; I also haven't checked online for any photos of me on YouTube...and I don't intend to.

So let's cue that Who music again, shall we? The opening line from "Eminence Front" sums all of this up nicely I think...

"The sun shines...
People forget..."

21 August 2010

Unemployment Figures...It Shouldn't Be This Way

I've been sitting here the past few months wondering something: If there's so many people needing jobs in Montgomery (and across the country), why haven't the people who do a bad job...at their job...been let go and replaced by someone who would do a much better job?

In fact, the other day, on WSFA's news, I saw a report about a pizza shop owner talking about how he had to fill 50 slots and had 200 applicants (or some numbers similar), so he could pick and choose only the best and friendliest people to fill those slots.

Well, this got me thinking about the original thought I was thinking...you know, the one in the first paragraph. Why aren't more discourteous and incompetent people being fired and more capable and willing people being hired?

Now, here's something I've addressed a few times - in my blog and elsewhere: The workers at "Chick-Fil-A" are always super nice. I can go through that drive-thru at any time of day and they will be super nice..I could go loop around and drive through it 17 times in a row...and you know what? They'd be nice every single time. Down the street a ways the people at "McDonald's" and "KFC" made me so annoyed by their abject lack of anything resembling manners or people-skills, I long ago stopped going. I have heard it hasn't changed.

I go into stores...just random stores - I won't mention any names this time...but the niceness is spotty at best. Some places...I swear the workers see you approaching them and they dodge away from you as fast as their little feet can carry them without breaking into an all-out sprint. These stores are typically called "home improvement stores" and "stores with initials in the beginning of their name followed with a double consonant at the end of their name". I'm not even counting Walmart here...because they already have a reputation for "having a reputation".

And I'm sure there are countless other stores I don't go into which do the same.

I also see this at doctors' offices. Many times I'll get a receptionist who won't even say "Good morning" or "How are you today?" How hard IS it to do this? It takes about three seconds tops. No, what I get out of them is "Your co-pay is $12.00". Not even a "Thank you for coming here so I can actually have a job." (Yes, that line was an exaggeration, but I think you know what I mean.)


I also have been waited on, in line, by a cashiers (yes, several different ones - at several different stores) who made me wait while they clearly conducted a conversation with their boyfriends - and they weren't getting off for me until they were done with that conversation. I've been looked at by workers who were too busy talking to each other, usually in groups of three for some reason, to see that I needed help. When I dared interrupt them to ask for help, they only stopped long enough to say "It's not my department" and went right back to talking. Not, "I'll find someone to help you." or "Let me see if I can help."

I've rarely reported these people to management - and when I have, the management seems to have more issues than the workers themselves. Calling up "corporate" makes me feel like I at least talked to someone who cares, but the same issues never seem to get resolved.

I read forums devoted to why people can't be nice in these instances...and always the same line gets uttered, "Well, what do you expect when they're getting paid minimum wage?"

I worked YEARS for minimum wage, after school at the high school's office. I worked for years for minimum wage (or very close to it) at McGuire Air Force Base in admin offices. Granted, I never worked at a store or fast-food restaurant...or even a doctor's office for that matter, but it mattered to me to be courteous and do a good job. The thing is...I took PRIDE in my work, regardless of what I was paid for it. It was a reflection upon my own self and I didn't want to compromise my integrity as a good worker by doing a lackluster job.

So, what I want to really know, is...if these places can get 200 applicants and hire only a handful, why do some stores, restaurants, and doctors' offices hire, what seems to be, the worst 50?

And, how come I still can't get a job in this town? Is it because I'm too old? My lack of a college degree? I think I'm a nice person - I still look (somewhat) pretty when I put on make-up and I have a fabulous wardrobe. I'm definitely a quick learner (except for politics...yeah, political bloggers, I put that one in to see if you are reading)...and other than cleaning restrooms and changing light bulbs in their 50-foot high signs outside, I'm willing to do most things; the more challenging, the better.

Seriously, do I have to just come in with an "I don't give a flying fig" attitude in order to land that elusive job? I'm beginning to really think so.

Lastly, taking me totally out the equation, when ARE things around here going to change for the "better"? If there's such a glut of people looking for jobs, you'd figure it would be a hiring market...you'd figure they would hire the best people, right? Or are they hiring the most inept people to camouflage their OWN inadequacies and incompetence?

Face it -- next to the worst person in the room, everyone else looks so much better in comparison, right?

19 August 2010

The Dead Sea Monkeys

(That fuzzy brownish-green stuff growing on the bottom and the green floating stuff growing on top...um...aren't stalagmites and stalactites; and I highly doubt either is supposed to be there.)

Well, it was destined to happen, but considering I got them last April, it probably wasn't the shortest longevity record ever set, but nonetheless, it was pretty devastating...

...my last Sea Monkey died the other day.

Now, I don't know if you kept up with my Sea Monkey blogs I did a few months back - if you didn't, you could always go here...then here...and finally here if you're interested.

I also don't know exactly what went wrong, but I'm willing to take a few half-educated guesses, and, as usual, I'm willing to share them with you.

First off, let me tell everyone that I didn't buy any of the gimmicky things they had for sale, like water purifiers, pumps and "executive-sized desk aquariums", so perhaps, by my frugalness, they were doomed from the get-go.

I did do some things, however, which might have, oh, speeded up their demise a tad slower than just chucking them down the toilet.

First off, the Sea Monkey people don't give you any instructions on how to scoop out the "dead Sea Monkey sludge" from off the bottom of the Sea Monkey container. Now, granted, it might have been addressed in the "Deluxe Sea Monkey Booklet" I could have paid extra for, but I didn't because I thought I'd be able to accomplish this menial task without spending $3.99 and another $3.00 for postage (or whatever it cost...I'm too distraught to actually check).

Sad to say, I couldn't.

I figured the easiest way might be to pour off the alive Monkeys into another container, but since the Sea Monkey container itself doesn't have the pointed/angled pouring spout like a Pyrex measuring cup...I probably spilled about 329 Sea Monkeys all over my counter before I figured out it wasn't going to work. They just dribbled out over the side of their home and, I, filled with horror at the thought of them being maimed in some way if I tried to slide them off the countertop and back into their happy habitat, decided "death by paper towel" would be much more humane.

It was, however, a noble try.

A less nobler try was the "suck them up with a straw" procedure.

Let me elaborate a little.

It seemed like, in theory, this would work. You get a straw, insert it down to the bottom of the container...which, by the way, has the plastic terrain equivalent of the Mariana Trench, i.e., it's not smooth and suck-uppable...and then put your finger on the top of the straw, and then draw their remains out, siphon-style.

Yeah, right. Again, this works ONLY in theory.

In reality, what happens is that you only manage to stir up the debris on the bottom and each time you try to pull the straw up out of the water, most of the water just manages to dribble back out of the straw. Then you are left with the agonizing decision of what to do with the mucky "yuk" you just removed and put into that Pyrex measuring cup (hey, give me some points for thinking ahead here). Do you then wait two hours for the sediment to settle to ascertain which specks are alive and which are dead...or do you just toss it down your sink...or do you do the moral thing and just pour it all back into the original container?

Yep...my morals won out and I ended up pouring it all back into the original container, thereby stirring up more dead bodies which probably really freaked out all the live Monkeys. In fact, this agitation action of the water alone probably killed another 128 of them.

But I tried. Oh, and remember the forethought of the Pyrex cup, too.

The last way to do it proved as futile as the other two...

...I found out that you cannot logically scoop out enough water, one tablespoon at a time, to catch all the live ones...what you can do is scoop out about 1/8th of a cup of Sea Monkey-laden water before you say "Screw this, it's going to take an eternity". I then tried my utmost best to at least separate the old water from the Sea Monkeys and, in that process, lost at least another 72 of them doing this.

At that point I'd pretty much determined it was best to just give up thinking of new and innovative ways to kill my Monkeys by trying to save them. I would just let nature take its course.

Well, at least tell us, Mariann, what exactly happens to Sea Monkey water that's been virtually left to evaporate over the course of four months?

The answer to that is: It gets very cloudy and the bottom of the aquarium, which has now become a Sea Monkey burial ground, starts to resemble some primordial Chia Pet.

Now, I'm not terrible, I was adding more water to keep it at the optimum Sea Monkey level and all...but after a while, it just seemed like all I was doing was probably creating a super-concentrated inevitable death lab of sorts, where, had I managed to keep them alive for a month or two more, might have had the chance to see some Frankensteinian/Re-animator thing happening.

As it just so happened, it didn't happen, and the last Monkey is now among the "rotting dead".

I'm not getting any ideas they will start hatching out of eggs again...but just in case there ARE such things as Sea Monkey Zombies...I think I'll let the water sit around for another month...or two.

You know...just in case.

15 August 2010

It's Not What You Say...It's How You Say It

(As you can plainly see, my copy has long since lost it's bright yellow cover; the colourful words inside, however, remain intact.)

"We lost our empire, we suck at tennis, our food is lousy, but our television sure kicks ass!" - BBC America's new slogan of sorts they just started airing.

On BBC America's "Being Human" tonight, the werewolf guy was dealing with some anger issues...and kept cussing throughout the show. I think he was not only pissed...but pissed as well. (Oh, go look it up - it's British slang interspersed with American slang...a two-fer, if you will. Mind out of the gutter!)

"Fluffernutter". Just wrong on so many levels. Seriously. I'm surprised no one's complained or that the Marshmallow Fluff people don't have a very crude commercial on the air. Heck, I would if I were them.

And even more shocking, is William Shatner, starring in CBS's "$#*! My Dad Says". Personally I think it should have starred Clayton Moore (The Lone Ranger) years ago. The whole "Who was that masked man?" would have been really funny in my opinion.

In 1972, George Carlin came out with one of the most recognized and repeated bits in history (that was "bits" with a "B"...not a "T"...which, had it been a "T", it would have been number seven on his list): "Seven words you can never say on television." It's been nearly forty years; some of them have crossed over and some have not.

As a Jersey chick, I am well-versed in the art of vulgarity. When I was the tender age of twelve, me and my friend from across the street, Robin Howard, (if you're still out there Robin, say "Hi!") took my often used Monopoly game, pretty much worn out to the point where, had it been real money, would have long since met the incinerator...and decided we'd give it the "naughty treatment".

On the back of each of the bills (and there are 240 of them in a brand-spanking new game) we put "naughty phrases". Taking into consideration we were naive pre-teen girls and there might have been some bills missing, we still had to come up with at least 200 semi-offensive phrases. Offensive enough to make us giggle like pre-pubescent idiots, yet not offensive enough to make a parent within earshot suspect we had put 200 "Beavis and Butthead"-like utterances on the backs of "not so legal" tender.

And we were determined not to repeat ourselves. Granted, some of the bills mentioned boys in town we had crushes on...like Kenny Lear and all three of the Cook brothers, but most were just scrawled with the rudest words we could think of. Some words we really had absolutely no clear knowledge of what they meant, and most words we didn't even have a vague notion. Remember, this was pre-Internet days and Webster's didn't list "vulgarities". "Slang and its Analogues" did, however, and I was never quite sure if my mother knew exactly what she gave me when she presented her flea market find to me when I was about eleven.

This book, besides being a huge book of slang originally published in seven volumes from 1890-1904, is a treasure trove of "all things naughty". I think the guy who wrote "Mrs. Doubtfire" did exactly what I did (the one scene where Robin Williams, as "Mrs. Doubtfire", is talking to Pierce Brosnan about his intentions towards Sally Field, is pretty much a straight read from this book) when I first got my hands on it -- which is, turned to three select locations: "Male Genitalia", "Female Genitalia", and "The Act Itself". As they always say, "Location, Location, Location!", right?

So...when we finally completed our Monopoly money mission, we were downright proud of ourselves. We had the "usuals" in there...and also some others, like...the defunct "Trans World Airlines" acronym with an "extra" initial after it, oh, perhaps initials of Bon Jovi (they were, after all, from Jersey) before they made it famous (it, not IT, famous), and possibly Bruce Springsteen's as well (hey, he's from Jersey, too) and I'm pretty sure we mentioned the illustrious "C" word.

Way back in my day, back in Jersey, the "C" word wasn't primarily used as a euphemism for the "P" word, or for the even more naughty sounding and clinical "V" word. The "C" word was something we used for descriptive purposes...kinda like using the "B" word today. Like "Oh, stop being such a 'C'" - unterstand me now? Ooops, sorry, typo..."understand". And, again, how some words managed to get "letter recognition" status and some are still okay to say...in a way, is beyond me. I never got any of the memos.

Of course, the "mother" of them all...is the "F" word. That's my personal favourite. It's so handy. It can be a verb, an adjective, a noun, and I probably have used it in the past imperfect tense and didn't even know I was being so incredibly correct when I did so. Grammatically correct - not politically.

But, as the Bee Gees sang way back in 1968, "It's only words...and words are all I have...to take your heart away." Granted they probably weren't thinking about naughty words, but I'd like to get a feel for which words, be they on Carlin's list or not, take your heart away, or at least raise your blood pressure some.

So, which "bad" words are you okay with...and which would never touch your lips? Are there exceptions to the rule? Are there any films or TV shows you'd say called for their usage...or would you rather see them cleansed entirely from the screen and you totally wash your hands (and mouth) of them?

For the longevity of this post, please be a "good ranger" and mask your words as well.

(The above statement was for the Montgomery Advertiser's online site commenters. I left it stand because I thought it was witty.)

(For those who are wondering, I still actually have that Monopoly game. It's fun to get it out now and again and read about the good old days. ;) )

A blog forethought on this subject matter as an afterthought: I'm more of the mind-set that it's really not the words you use...but the intention behind them. Unfortunately, in my life I've been called many certain words. These certain words were not naughty, dirty, vulgar words said in jest...but common, everyday words which hurt much more. When someone does that...it doesn't matter what they say...it's how they say it and the meanness put behind it. People don't need to resort to cuss words to be cruel and put you down...regular words do just fine.

Words, are, after all, only words.

11 August 2010

"Slater"ed for Fame

By now everyone has heard the story of Steven Slater, JetBlue Airways' flight attendant, who, fed up with the non-compliance of a passenger, and after getting bonked on the head with her overhead baggage, threw a hissy fit, cussed at the passengers through the plane's intercom system, grabbed a beer (or two - depending on who you're listening to), told everyone where they could put his job, opened the emergency hatch and slid his way into relative fame online.

He somehow managed to drive back home where he was then later arrested and taken into custody.

Well, this whole thing spread like wildfire and everyone and their mother is sticking up for this guy.

His mother, by the way, unfortunately, has been diagnosed with lung cancer and is dying. Some attributed his strange behaviour to this, which, of course, is never easy to deal with. I never had to deal with my mother dying while I tried to maintain composure on a plane-full of people who listen about as good as a pit bull on steroids.

I tend to be one of maybe 18 people who think this guy did the wrong thing.

And I think the media attention he's getting for flying off the handle and quitting in this way is only opening another door for much more deranged workers to emulate.

Think about being the person standing downwind of the cashier at Walmart when she has had it with the guy trying to pass off an extra item in the "15 or less" line. She grabs his can of hominy grits and throws it at his head, but being that she has carpal tunnel syndrome from doing the repetitive scan "bip bip...bip bip...bip bip" plus coupled with the fact her hearing is shot because you can hear the scanning dinger bell in aisle 12, it whizzes past his head and hits yours instead. She claims it was all due to a nervous tic she developed over the years from being hit on by the octogenarian greeter who also claims he's gone deaf from the incessant "bip bip" noise and mistakenly took her "tic-wink" as a come on.

Your last vision before you depart this life is seeing everyone applauding her as they always thought a case of Coke should be counted as 24 items, too.

Or, there you are, waiting in line for two hours for your six-year-old kid to get a photo op with the drunken Santa they just fired but can't replace as it's nearly closing time so they let him stay on to finish the night. You and your child, totally oblivious to this fact, gleefully await your turn when he suddenly stands up to leave...gets an alcohol head rush and has to sit back down (those of you who've had this happen know what I mean...those who don't - ask someone who does). After grabbing your kid "Ralphie-style", he gets some whack epiphany and starts off on a tirade that would make Mel Gibson blush and your kid is now scarred for life and lashes out worse than a bull each time he sees red.

The people in line who didn't get to see Santa start some rant about commercialism and how Santa has about as much place in Christmas as a bunny does during Easter. Someone captures the whole event on their cell phone and posts it up online. It goes viral overnight and your kid's picture ends up on about 57 comedy website photo caption contests and is further taunted after school starts back up in January.

Then there's the Post Office. But I won't go there as it's really not funny.

And I don't think this is, either.

Luckily this guy wasn't the pilot.

09 August 2010

Chasing Dummies aka "The History Channel Jumps the Shark"

(Bear in mind I was going to submit this last week only I didn't get around to it, i.e., didn't write anything other than the opening four paragraphs.)

How appropriate is it that I'm writing a blogumn about The History Channel "Jumping the Shark" right smack in the middle of "Shark Week"??

Okay, granted "Shark Week" is on another channel, but still.

What can I say about The History Channel that hasn't been said by me before? I love this channel...or should I say, I "loved" it.

The other day, I'm going through the "scrolly guide" as I call it, trying to find out what's on. It's a fairly simple task as there are less and less channels I seem to watch.

A typical night on the sofa for me goes as follows...

Computer on, various stages of dinner preparation, some wine or a Martini on the table next to me and both my television and TiVo remotes located and within reach.

Yep...check, check, and more check.

Now it's time for me to check what's on...and this is how I systematically do it:

Step 1: Channel 65 - TCM. Any old films I care to watch? No? Proceed to "Step 2".

Step 2: Channel 58 - The History Channel. Some interesting show or documentary on? Something besides gangbangers in jails or trucks on ice would be nice. Nope.

Step 3: Channel 51 - National Geographic Channel (I refuse to call it "NatGeo" - nope, that's almost as silly as changing "SciFi" to "Syfy"). Eh...saw everything already...twice.

Step 4: Channels 401 and up - aka "All the Movie Channels I Pay for and Only Watch 'Kate & Leopold'...93 Times as Everything Else on Sucks". Nope. I'm not going to watch "Thinner" for the eighth time and I can't watch "Busty Cops and the Jewel of De" because: 1) I have kids, and; 2) I think I already know the plotline. Noticing that "Spanking the Monkey" is on yet again, I snicker for the umpteenth time about it and keep on scrolling.

Step 5: Channel 140 - BBC America. Nothing on and I'm not too keen on watching "Top Gear" and "Doctor Who" isn't on until the series starts up again in the fall. I'd watch "Being Human" just for the eye candy factor of the vampire guy, but you see one episode and you've seen them all - at least for me, as I'd still only be staring at the vampire guy and not paying any attention to the show. Move on.

Step 6: Repeat Steps 1-5. Over and over and over again all night long.

So, the other day I notice a new show on The History Channel: "Chasing Mummies". First off, I LOVE Egyptology...if there's a documentary with a pyramid, Pharaoh, or mummy...oh yeah, I'm there.

And joy upon joy, the guy who's hosting is foremost Egyptologist, Dr. Zahi Hawass! Oh, this will be great! He did for Egyptology what Carl Sagan did for astronomy.

"It's about time they put something interesting on" I think to myself, and I actually gaze upward and away from the computer directly in front of me. I mean, c'mon, there's only so many times I can check my email in one day and I've way since surpassed that number.

Granted, only a true Egyptological connoisseur would probably know this guy - but I've seen him on numerous documentaries over the years and I happen to know this guy is brilliant. He didn't become world-renown for nothing and now he'll become a staple every single week in my very own living room! I am, honestly, in my glory.

I catch on to the premise of this show quite quickly and it seems hokey but, what the heck, it's MUMMIES! Basically, a camera crew tags along with Dr. Hawass and a couple of archeological students as he goes around showing them stuff and quizzing them about what they're seeing.

Now, I never studied Egyptology. I did, however, Google what credentials you have to be in order to be an Egyptologist as I was hoping I could still be one. But, it's really quite an undertaking and one should probably not start whilst in their mid-forties (okay, smarty pants, I know...but I Googled this a few years ago). You can check out the daunting mass of stuff you have to study here (I'll wait while you go read it): Egyptologist


Okay, I'll continue. So, after studying all the studies you have to learn and gathering all the expertise you have to possess when you come into (and onto) the field, you'd figure someone would at least have a small practical grasp on Egypt-like stuff -- or at least be able to pronounce a two-syllable word, right?


Someone who runs things over at The History Channel must have figured for "comedic affect" they should throw in a totally inept female student and for even more "comedic effect" the camera crew should also participate in the show and talk a lot ON camera. There's the camera director guy, an affable fellow by all outwardly appearances, but I was under the impression this show might be about a guy who holds a doctorate in Egyptology showing me interesting things on camera whilst the camera crew remains BEHIND camera.

Silly me.

So, what we have here is a very skilled Egyptologist, a bumbling airhead (think Suzanne Somers from "Three's Company") and a camera director and his crew getting in on the antics, kinda like "The Keystone Cops".

While this alone was quite enough for me to make the "WTF?" face, they decided a bit of Jerry Springer was what this show really needed.

And when I say "bit" I mean a "big dollop of".

Dr. Hawass, whom I have always respected before, either had been in the sun too long or he's been sniffing way too much mummy dust lately. This guy has taken "insane God complex" to the nth degree and added a bit of annoying on top of it. Oh, did I just say "bit" again? Sorry. See above statement.

He is yelling at the students, yelling at the camera guys, demeaning the students, demeaning the camera guys, yelling some more and then saying how much he knows and then demeans everyone some more. All the while he's doing this the cameras are rolling and we never really get to find out just how much he knows as he only spends about two minutes showing anything of interest.

One episode I saw had him yelling at the airhead student (sorry, not to demean her some more, but seriously, my cat knows more about Egypt than she does) because she couldn't hold her bladder on what turned out to be a much longer than "five-hour pyramid crawl-thru" to view five burial chambers. Not only was this girl terribly afraid of going further up, she did after all, have Dr. Hawass constantly yelling at her and reminding her of the plain fact that "every single expedition he'd been on...he never knew if he was GONNA DIE or not!" And if she wasn't going to risk her life that day she had no business choosing this field and she certainly wasn't going to be on any future "chamber of secrets" missions with him.

She had a mini-panic attack (understandably) and then she mysteriously (but predictably) showed up after the others crawled on further. Then, Dr. Hawass spent pretty much the next half hour chastising the poor girl for peeing her pants. "How dare you desecrate this sacred place!" he bellowed relentlessly at her. Then the camera director guy had his own panic attack and the next thing I knew - the credits were rolling.

Now I've never been on an archeological expedition, but if I'm going to go hang out in 120 degree heat in tiny little confines of burial chambers for five-plus hours I'd figure one would have to hydrate constantly. And when you hydrate constantly your kidneys do this thing...and then your bladder does this thing...and they don't exactly have public restrooms on "Burial Chamber #3" level, so I'd figure perhaps wearing a Depends-type undergarment would be of common, or at least practical, knowledge.

I tried watching a second episode the following week, but I had to turn it off. Dr. Hawass had them all sitting around in his hotel room or somewhere on big comfy chairs, which didn't seem remotely Egyptian to me, screaming at them some more in another of his previous episode-like egotistical rages.


Seriously, "History Channel" people, it's time to change the catch phrase from "History Made Every Day" to "History Made Unwatchable Every Day".

And, unfortunately, in my opinion, with this series debut, they officially "Jumped the Shark".

01 August 2010

A Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

"Bigfoot started it, dammit!"

"You mean sightings of paranormal things, Mariann?"


"The whole Sasquatch craze of the 70s, Mariann?"


"The idea for Chewbacca's costume, Mariann?"


"Then spit it out already...what??"

"The shaky camera technique."

Personally, I'm getting a bit more than miffed at the whole thing. It seems I can't watch a show which doesn't employ some of this annoying jumping thing. Films have it, television shows have it - in fact documentaries are using it to the extreme.

I've never been schooled in the cinematic arts, but you can bet I can qualify as a camera operator. I mean, think about it...how much knowledge of being able to jerk around a camera is there? Are there actually "Less Than Steady Camerawork" degrees being handed out? Can I get one online because it seems to me I already qualify...maybe I should add it to my resume - it's not like I couldn't do it, right?

And those paranormal shows with people looking for ghosts and Chupacabras have taken this "Blair Witch Project"-styled theme and ran with it.

In fact I don't think there's anything filmed IN those shows which isn't taking you on a nauseating roller coaster ride...it's annoying and I can't stand it. It hurts my eyes and gives me migraines...I also keep thinking I'm going to go into seizure mode worse than listening to Mary Hart's voice.

And, if that wasn't bad enough, who's the idiot who decided each of these shows would also have the "night camera" going? I'm tired of seeing things in shades of blue. I'm tired of seeing their eyeballs glowing. I'm tired of seeing people toting flashlights wherever they go...if I want to do that, I'll watch an episode of "The X-Files". At least they were able to shoot it with a guy who knew how to operate a damn camera.

I mean, heck I'd be able to scare up the whole viewing public of my ghost show if all I did was jump up and down in the dark going, "Oh my God...did you SEE that???"

"NO! I can't! You're filming in the dark, you hop-scotching moron!"

Every single episode I see advertised looks like every single previous episode I've seen advertised. Do they ever catch a ghost? Do they ever find the "Jersey Devil"? Has anyone ever filmed one of these episodes without a camera falling over and someone screaming in traumatized fashion about it? It's on a tri-pod and you set it up on the side of a mountain...ya think perhaps maybe it MIGHT possibly fall over???

Consequently, I refuse to be lured into watching any more shows with the words "Ghost Hunters" or "MonsterQuest" in the title.

But, while these may get my goat...and not in the "Goat Sucker" kind of way, what takes the cake is on my favourite and unfortunately rapidly "Jumping the Shark" network: "The History Channel".

Stay tuned for it...in my next blog.

I didn't mean to insult anyone's intelligence, but I linked a couple phrases...just in case.