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".

29 October 2006

C'mon Get Happy...I'm Almost Done Talking

"Whoa, Leela...slow down, you're talking a mile a minute." That's a quote from Futurama's "The Day the Earth Stood Stupid" episode...when the less than brainy character "Fry" is speaking to "Leela" whose brain (along with everyone else's but Fry's) is pretty much fried when powerful alien brains try to invade Earth. Oh...did I mention Leela is speaking very s-l-o-w-l-y when Fry tells her that? And what does that have to do with anything? Well...I'll get around to it...I hope.

I might have let slip that I talk a lot. Oh, let me rephrase that. I talk a LOT. Ask anyone who knows me...I don't shut up...BUT at least I'll be the first to admit it. I give people the common courtesy to let them know ahead of time what they're up against if they start talking to me. If you talk to me on the phone...well, don't plan on hanging up anytime soon. I've single-handedly made the phone company and others give in to whatever it was I wanted...face it...they either acquiesce or talk to me for a couple more hours. Ever see "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with Jimmy Stewart? Oh...that filibuster scene has nothing on me - and I don't even get hoarse. I've even had one doctor here in town ask me how I manage to talk without ever stopping to take a breath...and he was from Philadelphia...where they can talk! And that brings me to my point...

I'm watching "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson" Friday night, speaking of someone who can talk...but altho I think this guy is brilliant and extremely witty amongst being extremely chatty, he's not who I'm going to talk about. I'm going to talk about his guest...Danny Bonaduce, who has been on his show a bunch of times already. Now if you are old like me...or if it's made it to Nick at Night, you might better know him as "Danny Partridge" of "The Partridge Family"...and if you pay any attention to Entertainment Tonight or tabloids, you might know him as "that guy from The Partridge Family...with the drug problem who has a radio talk show and did some homelife reality show that you've probably never seen...but the one who wasn't "Keith" aka David Cassidy". Now I know that Craig has mentioned a few times that he bought Danny's pick-up from him a while back and something tells me they actually know each other off the show, but this guy is extremely entertaining. Oh...I know what you are saying "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout??" Uh...wrong show, but...yes, I think I do.

Yes, I will be the first to admit it...possibly in the country...but Danny Bonaduce is extremely interesting. He's funny, energetic, enthusiastic and above all else...talks a mile a minute. Now, yes...that could be drugs talking...but I've heard people on drugs talk and they usually don't ramble on cohesively...usually something ends up being disjointed (pun intended) and they go from one thing to another like...well, I could name celebrities here...but I'll let you fill in your own. Plus he's still kinda cute. Oh, c'mon...you thought he was cute in "The Partridge Family"...and I'm not talking about that creepy kind of cute that child actors usually end up being...again, I'll let you fill in your own celebrity here.

So, I call my son out to come see him show...well, a Craig Ferguson "Late Late Show" tattoo he was sporting...um...uh on his...well, let's just say I got to see a side of Danny Bonnaduce I'll probably never see again. And I TiVo'd it back a bit and he (my son, not Danny) remarked that this guy talks about as fast as I do and was he from Jersey? Now, I always thought he was from California, but I'm game, I'll look him up on the IMDb...and lo and behold, he's actually from Philadelphia (sure, he probably moved when he was 3...but it still counts in my book)...so that would explain it all. Usually whenever I really like a guest on a talk show, I'll look them up and 9 out of 10 times they are from my "area". My "area" being Jersey. There's still a difference about them...and I think the difference is just the ease they have being totally open, being rather interesting, and also speaking a mile a minute.

Now you might totally disagree with me here...but...you gotta ask yourself this..."Are you actually willing to talk to me about it...and even with the time change...do you really have THAT many hours to kill doing so?"

26 October 2006

The Basic Instinct To Not Attempt To Do Much Of Anything

I was going to write an extremely interesting blog the other day...oh it would have been my best, I'm sure...but I've had this stabbing ice-pick headache that has decided to take up residence in my brain the last couple days. Hopefully it will vacate the premises any time now...of course that scintillatingly brilliant blog idea of mine is lost forever...but I'm sure I can muster up something next time. :)

21 October 2006

A Very Strange Election aka Swann's Song

I was watching the news tonight and they had a story about how the race for Lt. Governor here in Alabama was now embroiled in controversy. It seems Republican Luther Strange's election campaign ad being shown on television mocking Democrat Jim Folsom, Jr., was undoubtedly a complete and utter rip-off of another one which is simultaneously airing...in Pennsylvania, for gubernatorial candidate, Lynn Swann (R). The ads depict both Folsom's and Ed Rendell's (Swann's opponent) careers throughout the last three decades (portrayed by an actor prancing around in disco duds, jogging suit, and Miami Vice-alike attire) and alleges such things as Folsom putting his family and cronies on the state payroll and Rendell never owning up to his "reform" promises.

Just some comments here that I'd like to make, altho I'm not at all usually political by nature...

It's an AD...get over it...it's not the first time someone is going to steal, borrow, or otherwise engage in a form of this...dare I say "plagiarism"...period. It happens in television...heaven knows if only one person could have kept the idea of a "reality show" to themselves, we wouldn't be in the predicament we are nowadays. How many times is the "two buddies and a girl" situation comedy going to happen? How about a "life at home" scenario? Or one about writers who work on a comedy show? Ooops...sorry, we can't do that, they had "The Dick Van Dyke Show" years ago. "Lost"? Sounds too much like "'Gilligan's Island' revamped for the 00's" to me. Something with a lawyer? Sorry...no can do. Forget doing anything CSI-ish as there was a show on The Discovery Channel called "The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science". Oh, but you say that one was real? How about that show back in the 70s with Jack Klugman modeled after real-life Medical Examiner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi. Oh...wait...do we see a pattern here? Most ideas are rehashed...political commercials are no exception. Granted it is an awfully irritating ad to watch...and it's pretty much the same as the Lynn Swann one...but if the first person to do political mud-slinging ads had the patent on it...well, we wouldn't be talking about this right now...and no one else would be either.

Oversight or brilliant campaign strategy? Now from what I've gathered, the same Washington, DC firm to do the Folsom ad was also the one behind the Swann ad. Either they really put one over on both candidates or this is some form of genius. Face it...what sticks better in the minds of the collective consciousness than controversy? Is this really going to plague the Strange campaign? The most you can determine from all of this is that their spin doctors are now engaged in counter-control and they were stupid in not determining that this ad was already out there in some shape or form. Did Strange know about it? Well, he's a politician...he'll answer that by avoiding it...and why even BOTHER to answer it? Does this have any bearing on the platform he's running on? Let's see...it's going to be like those Teen Beat magazines..."Uh, Mr. Strange...what colour do you like best? What did you eat for dinner last night? What do you look for in a girl (oh, wait...that's a question for Clinton...ba-da-bing)...Did you purposely know that there was a gubernatorial candidate/ex-football player running the same annoying disco ad as you? And, by the way, what's your fav disco song?"

So, I say this really is a reality show of its own...and further testament to the dumbing-down of our society as a whole. Do we really want to base our political decisions...waste our precious votes...and further degrade ourselves in the process by letting THIS "issue" be a militating factor this time around...and then surely in the future?

I don't know about you...but I vote "No".

12 October 2006

Some Alarming Facts aka Dauphin Island 3

A little back-history for the moment...not recapping my last blog, but about Dauphin Island itself which I found interesting. It wasn't named for dolphins per se, although by the way people pronounce it, you'd certainly think it was. Just like people pronouncing "croissant" the way most people in America do...I have an issue (which has been handed down to me from my mother who was born in Belgium) about pronouncing French words...well...the French way. But I am getting a little ahead of myself...

...the island was originally mapped in fantastic detail by Spanish explorer, Alonzo Pineda, the first European in documented history to visit it in 1519. In 1699, French explorer, Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville renamed it...quite appropriately..."Isle de Massacre" based on the fact there were human bones heaped up in piles lying around. This "officially" kicked off the island's French history and colonization along that area...but being named "Massacre Island" seemed a tad too icky and didn't sit well with the locals...and in 1707 was changed to "Dauphin Island" to honour their then heir to the French throne, "the Dauphin". Ironically, the Dauphin used a coat of arms with dolphins on them, hence his nickname "le Dauphin" meaning of course, "the Dolphin". Over the next 100 or so years, Dauphin Island's "ownership" (via lots more piles of bones I'm sure) changed from France to Great Britain and then in 1780, to Spain. Finally, in 1813 the United States seized the territory around Mobile Bay, encompassing the island as well...and now we have it - and there you have it...a little history about an island you possibly haven't ever visited...and some have never heard of. But something you might have heard of...the quote "Damn the torpedoes...full speed ahead". Well, Admiral David Farragut uttered that phrase just a few hundred yards away from Dauphin Island, which is home to Fort Gaines, built between 1821-1848 and subsequently occupied by the Confederate forces in 1861 until being captured by Federal troops during the Battle of Mobile Bay. This battle was also Farragut's last hurrah...after which he retired upon returning home to New York in 1864...dying only a few years later in 1870.

So we have now come full circle as to why you see symbols of dolphins all over the place there and not some rich dead French dude. As far as the pronunciation...well I'll still pronounce it the way I want to until they change the spelling. And speaking of spelling, nothing makes a bus load of little kids go "Ooooooooooooooh they are showing a bad word" more than a big brick wall outside of Fort Gaines with the word "Damn" on it. Good thing this wasn't a trip to New York City or Los Angeles. And speaking of trips...back to my trip story.

My daughter's teacher (and one of the Science Olympiad coaches) was nice enough to let me follow him on the way up to Dauphin Island (and this guy followed behind me)...and we were all ready to do it on the way back...but her teacher first wanted to stop at this quaint little sandwich shop on the island to get a sandwich instead of eating at a fast food place, which, of course, all the kids wanted to go...so our plan was to get our food there and then consume it at the place we ended up going for the kids. So...off we go and get our sandwiches and then I proceed to open my car door and I set off the alarm...something I've never ever ever done before...and my auto-door-alarm doohickey just broke the week prior...as luck would have it...and I couldn't "disarm" it. So...this was so incredibly prescient, as right before we left I checked the owner's manual to find out what to do in case I set it off...I kid you not. AND, true to Murphy's Law...what they recommended...or at least what I remembered reading...failed to do anything except let the exceedingly loud alarm continue within feet of this little place with old ladies on the porch sipping tea. This alarm, by the way, turns itself off in three minutes. Three minutes, which seem like 15 when you are the loudest thing on the island, unless you count the cannon they fire at Fort Gaines (yes, they do and yes, it is pretty insanely loud). So, we...the teacher...the other guy...and me (and all our passengers) sit around waiting for the time for the alarm to go off since it didn't cut off as the manual said...and yes, I did dig it out after the first few seconds and recheck...and yes, I did as it said all along.

And after I try to start the car, about five times unsuccessfully...since the engine cuts off when the alarm goes off...I figure...well, this is totally unsuccessful...and start doing all manner of other things to get the darned thing to stop the alarm and allow me to start my car and go on about my merry way...none of which work...I am forced to (well, it was easier to get my husband, Doug, to do it as he knows the people at the dealership) call my husband. Meanwhile, since Doug never answers his phone when he sees it is me calling...the guy (whose name from the other point on until the end of this story will be known as "the guy") starts suggesting we yank fuses out to disengage the system and try to bypass it. I am thinking "oh, I bet that would really make the system mad and it would probably not work again until some Dodge guy came over and keyed some 'magic Dodge combination' to get it to ever start again". Luckily he listened to me and didn't have the faith in his own mechanical know-how to even attempt to open the trunk without a diagram.

Doug finally answers the phone and he agrees to call the Dodge people to see what I'm supposed to do...after telling me that I should probably do what the manual tells me...like I haven't the brain-power (and apparently the teacher or the guy hasn't either) to have thought of that on my own by then. After another 10 minutes, and a couple more three-minute interludes of alarm mishaps (yes, I'm still trying to get the stupid car to do as the manual suggests)...he calls back and tells me that I should do what I've been trying all along...which doesn't work. And if that doesn't work to go and lock and unlock the door then start up the car. Well, locking and unlocking the car turns off the alarm...but lo and behold...doesn't allow you start the car...which, by the way...you guessed it...sets the alarm off again in the process of turning the ignition switch. So...I get a revelation: Get one of the kids to unlock the door from the inside after I relock it...figuring that someone has to be INSIDE the car and thus might bypass the whole stupidness. Well...that doesn't work worth a damn (in the torpedo sense because I'd like to start going "full speed ahead") as the alarm sets itself off and the car automatically shuts itself off again when I try to start it. So, I'm about to resort to Plan B...which is to systematically do the lock/unlock to each of the doors and then the trunk...when I say "oh let me try this a couple more times on the driver's door...when it finally figures out I must have the key and if I have the key...I MUST have the key...and duh...I should therefore be able to use said key to start my car and leave whatever place I've already disrupted for the last 30 minutes. Which I did. Luckily I will probably never see these people again as long as I live because I am probably now going to be front-page news in "The Dauphin Gazette" or something with the word "IDIOT" plastered next to it with a nice cell-phone photo of us all standing around looking totally dumbfounded like none of us could figure out that all we had to do was press the "Panic" button to turn off the alarm (they'd never figure out it wasn't working after all).

Anyway, needless to say, when we finally arrived to the fast-food place I was more than reluctant to lock my car...but I mustered up the courage to do it anyway...and was exceedingly proud of myself to not set it off when the time came for us to leave. The simple things in life...for the simple...I guess.

And needless to say we all arrived much later than our rendezvous time of 4:30 at the school.

But it could have been worse...much worse. I could have been on Dauphin Island until the following Monday waiting for some guy (not to be confused with "the guy") from Mobile to get the part from Detroit to work on a 1996 Dodge Grand Caravan.

Lastly...and ironically, the sandwich I purchased from the quaint little restaurant...was on a croissant.

09 October 2006

Sea Hunt at Sea Lab

Last time around I left you waiting in line...so I think we will move ahead now. I had no doubt in my mind that Dauphin Island's Sea Lab food would be terrible and that the atmosphere would be rather the same as when I went to Space Camp...which, in a nutshell, was as soon as I sat down to eat, literally, we had to get up and move on to our next event. I wasn't going to be a happy camper...I just knew it.

One of the kids pointed out the sign right over the trays which said we could return in line and get seconds. Things were looking up...as I was assured that I would indeed choose the ickiest thing on the menu the first time around and be forced to eat it or go without...at least I'd now be able to get a second try. But wait...this food actually looks edible. And the servers...so incredibly nice...I guess I should have suspected something was amiss with the little hand-made "thank you, lunch ladies" cards taped on the fridge behind them. So, I told the woman what I wanted and scurried off to my table...my table which was clean...and so was my silverware. So, I bit into my chosen fare...a chicken sandwich and french fries...and altho salty...they were quite edible. They also had a massive salad bar - but right after that spinach scare...I'm not biting into anything leafy lately (speaking of which they just recalled some lettuce today)...so I passed on that...and actually too bad, too...because it did look quite tasty...but hanging out in a communal bathroom isn't an idea...or reality...I wanted to entertain. We also had plenty of time to eat our food and drink our drinks before we moved on to our scheduled event.

Enter Hazel Wilson, our designated marine educator guide, who proceeded to show us, via school bus, the devastation on the island that Hurricane Katrina exacted on it. You could see quite a few houses which have not been torn down...houses which were left standing...like a Hollywood set...with the exterior wall removed...and we were the eye of the camera which panned from one room (still appointed with furniture) to the next. In a way I felt like a voyeur...peering into these houses from the safety of a bus...knowing I was only invited in by something evil and malevolent. Other houses, their bodies long removed...the only remaining proof they once stood there being their "legs"...the pilings still sticking in the sand like toys left by toddlers in a gigantic sandbox. Then we went pretty much as far as we could since the island was cleaved in two...a mile-wide canal now where land used to be..."thanks" to Katrina...showing us yet again the power of the forces of nature in action.

On now to more fun events...Ms. Wilson led us down to the beach and encouraged the kids to pick up hermit crabs and dead things. It was getting interesting now. Then on the bus as we didn't want to delay mucking through the marsh...that's why we had to bring shoes we didn't mind messing up or losing. Oh, the kids found all sorts of things from snails to crabs to shrimp...and mud. Lots of mud. But it was okay as we were going to wash it all off in the Mississippi Sound picking more living and dead things up anyway. We were given hand-held nets and buckets...and even seine nets to drag around scooping up even more unsuspecting things. This was far from a boring, run-of-the mill trip staring at things while the guide spoke...this was not only educational but enjoyable for both children and adults...and Ms. Wilson was exceptional.

Fast-forward to dinner...which again was better than I expected...and the dinner crew was as friendly as the lunch people were. These people all had their act together...maybe it was the Gulf air or the area in general...but whoever is in charge of this operation certainly should be running the country. Next on the plate...not the dinner one...but the scheduled events...was a night-time walk on the beach finding and subsequently catching ghost crabs by flashlight...and we didn't lose a single kid. I guess I've seen "Jaws" a few too many times in my life...but even without the shark, the dangerous undertow, the Gulf, and a bunch of kids all running around in the dark didn't seem like a good combination - but luckily the kids were good.

Bedtime came earlier than usual for me...and so did the start of the next day...and I wasn't looking forward to either, but the kids quieted down quickly...I'm sure they were quite worn out from the events of the day. Even the boys stopped running around upstairs and I think even without the aid of Ambien I might have been able to sleep through the night...had the night lingered on until 3:00 a.m...but as it were, I, too, had an early start and a long day of foraging for more sea-things the next day. This place was no place like home...but it wasn't like my previous overnight trip either. It was remarkably quiet. Perhaps being on the far end helped, but no doors clanked...no people screamed in the hallway...and best of all, I didn't have to share my room with a bunch of others who got up every hour on the hour for one reason or another. I slept.

The following day started out with an early breakfast...again edible served with the same graciousness as the previous meals. Ms. Wilson, to my delight, was again our guide and this time we'd be tasked with going out and catching things from two different waterways to take back to the classroom to view under microscopes. We also had plankton "races"...using wire and Styrofoam each table had to construct a "plankton"...and the slowest one to sink to the bottom of the jar of water was going to be declared the winner. I was at a table of all parents...and my ingenious plankton design coupled with the Styrofoam bits added on by another parent was destined to be the sure winner...ours drifted down so incredibly slowly...ONCE. Each subsequent try hardly matched that one magnificent time...and we were beaten by our own kids...how humiliating is that? But I guess if you have to lose to someone - it might as well be your own. But still...and I still resent one of the chaperones, who happened to be the older brother of one of the students...telling us "old people" that our "sea-based" name for our table should be "The Ancient Mariners"...okay, it was extremely funny - I'm just annoyed by the fact I didn't think of it myself. We went with "Exoskeletons"...hey...we were a bunch of old skeletons after all...I admit not nearly as good...but then again, unfortunately, neither was our little plankton display.

Our last scheduled stop before we left was to check out the Estuarium only a short walk away...which was chock full of all types of Alabama marine life...rather like a mini-aquarium, but done nicely nonetheless. They even had a display of dead things we could touch and another with live horseshoe crabs...kind of like what we experienced before only this time we didn't have to run off into the water to retrieve them. Pity. As what we'd done up until that point had all been extremely enjoyable...made even more enjoyable by the staff and the "edutainment" factor of Hazel Wilson. I was sure going to miss this place once we left...but as you shall read in my next blog installment of this story...well, I'll just leave it at that for now.

04 October 2006

Bloggus Interruptus

Well, I was going to continue my story the other day, but my daughter started running a high fever and has been out of school...and then again, because I am sharing a computer with my son...by the time I finally had my hands on it I wasn't in the mood to finish it. She's going to be out of school for at least one more day here...so I am going to try my best to write Part 2 of my blogstory either later tonite or sometime tomorrow.

01 October 2006

What a Long Strange Trip It's Going to Be

Going on your child's field trip isn't always fun. Personally, I am not into trying to corral five kids whilst traipsing around Fort Toulouse with 25 other school bus-loads of kids there at the same time. Yes, I DO watch the children in my charge...but it's not exactly a piece of cake with 14 activities going on and them all thinking they can each go their separate ways...nuh uh, girlfriend...not on my watch. And staying overnight at a trip? Don't even get me started...I have two words that changed my outlook on that: "Space Camp". And didn't change it for the better. So, you can bet I was reluctant when I heard we were doing it again...only this time at Dauphin Island's Sea Lab.

First off, picking up sea-life from the Gulf of Mexico and mucking around in the mud finding things that only an estuary can hold was pretty darned intriguing to me. A nighttime walk on the beach to "hunt" for ghost crabs...well that sounds like fun...and so does looking at minute squirmy things we just plucked from the water under microscopes...so I actually was looking forward to this trip. Driving the 3 1/2 hours with three other children besides my own and staying overnight with public restrooms and showers...well THAT I wasn't. Keep in mind I did stay two whole nights at Space Camp in Huntsville...sleeping six to a room in bunkbeds...lights literally turned out on you at 9:30ish to be turned back on for you at around 5:30ish. This was a "joy" I didn't soon want to relive. But things started to look a little up when they said we'd be staying at the dorms and they sleep two to a room. Now when they said we were going to sleep on "cots"...that kinda didn't sound too appealing, but this was only for one night. I think I'd be able to rough it.

Meeting up at the school at 7:15 isn't exactly a night-owl's dream...and then imagining "can you PLEASE stop singing that same song over and over and over...and by the way, stop kicking my seat" for 3 1/2 hours wasn't exactly helping. But I made it up there, packed up the van, and proceeded to head out for our destination to arrive sometime around 11:30 just in time for "lunch". Oh...lunch..."yummy"...visions of a previous trip's version of "food" dancing in my brain like so many rancid sugarplums.

But, wait...these kids were pretty good...in fact they were excellent. No "I have to go to the bathroom, Mrs. Simms"..."Why didn't you go the last exit when we stopped?"..."I didn't have to go then." antics...no "A million bottles of..." song to drive me completely insane...and apart from my coaxing to get them to stop that one game they were doing and try this other one I made up instead...it was ideal. In fact the worst part of it was thinking that the rest stop I was supposed to meet up with the teacher wasn't the right rest stop and maybe we are hanging around and they are hanging around...15 miles apart. But they finally showed up...so our worries about that were all for naught.

So we made it there...unloaded the van and dropped our stuff off in our room...which, by the way, to my delight, didn't have measly cots but actual "mattressed" beds. The showers had individual little stalls AND curtains...Space Camp didn't. As a plus the bathroom was next to our room and didn't have a clanking door and you couldn't hear anything really thru the wall. The only discernible noise were the boys who occupied the upper level of the dorm and the fact that boys must run wherever they go...and apparently the average 11-year-old boy's weight while in run-mode is comparable to that of a full-grown elephant. And speaking of elephants...it was time to herd up outside the dorm and go grazing at the cafeteria...with no doubt in my mind this shall be about as tasty as an elephant's hide...

...but enough for now...I am going to play Scheherazade and continue this blog tomorrow.