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".

25 December 2008

Fig Theory

300ml (½ pint) Milk
225g (8oz) Flour
175g (6oz) Dried Figs
150ml (¼ pint) Brandy
110g (4oz) Suet
110g (4oz) Prunes
85g (3oz) Raisins or Sultanas
50g (2oz) Dried Apricots
50g (2oz) Dates
25g (1oz) Dried Apples
1 tbsp Honey
¼ tsp Ginger
¼ tsp Cinnamon

Those are the ingredients for Figgy Pudding - as written by "The Foody" - a website from the UK and Ireland (the rest of the recipe can be found here:
http://thefoody.com/pudding/figgypudding.html . I figured if anyone knew how to make Figgy Pudding, they should know. I discounted all those Americanized versions of it and settled on a "traditional" one from across the pond.

But why am I even bothering listing a recipe for Figgy Pudding you might be asking yourself about now. I have to admit the song, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" got me to thinking that something MUST be in it for the people to be demanding it so.

According to what is out there in Internet-land, the song was written by an unknown person back in England in the 16th century. That is quite a while ago...and throws a slight curve into my theory as to why these people weren't going to leave until they had some Figgy Pudding.

You'd figure people back then would have been more polite than to demand someone dole out some dessert or they were going to basically hang around like the in-laws who came to stay. I mean, these were the same people who produced the likes of "Please, sir, can I have some more?" That's a far cry from "...and bring it right now!"

Something keeps making me think these people had a pretty bad case of the munchies...but what drug could have induced them? My first thought was perhaps there was a little bit more than figs fermenting in that pudding...perhaps they were drinking something to wash it down their throats. They did do a whole lot of "wassailing" back then. But would throwing back a cup of spiced hard cider be enough to get that demanding?

Nay...I think they needed something with a little more oomph. Perhaps they were all doped up on Laudanum? Sure, it didn't come into big fashion until the 1800s - but, I did a bit of research and it was indeed around in England in the 16th century.

Therefore my theory is that a bunch of hopped up on opium dopeheads were inciting all too much frivolity and being a tad demanding when it came to the sweetmeats.

So, the next time you are happily and blindly singing along lyrics to songs which have been around forever, most of which give credit to "Traditional" as their author, delve a little deeper into the lyrics and see if you can't develop a few theories of your own regarding their origin. You could even consider my newest Christmas song theory: "The Twelve Days of Christmas" aka One Person's Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. See, isn't it fun? And we all know Christmas and family get-togethers bring out the best neuroses in everyone...and there certainly are lots of songs to go around.

And, lastly, chances are, if you want those pesky guests out of your house nowadays...serve them some Figgy Pudding. They'll probably opt to leave before they get some.

Merry Christmas to everyone! I wish only the best to each of you and your families...and may the joy the holidays bring remain with you throughout 2009.

14 December 2008

A Room (I don't want to be in) With A View

"Get busy living...or get busy dying." I've said it before I know - but it's one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite movies, "The Shawshank Redemption". It seems that I haven't been taking it to heart, often quoted - but never devoted - any real time to realize the importance of those seven little words.

I have resigned myself, as I stand here like Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window" (altho he was sitting), gazing out my 4th floor hospital window from Baptist South...my life's entertainment now reduced to seeing how many of the three enormous lighted angels at the Alfa Building directly across from me will be working tonite, walking the H-shaped corridors outside my room, and the high point of my day: anxiously awaiting the reaction of the guy who parked his silver out-of-state car in the blue-lined non-space designated to be used as access points for the two adjacent handicapped spaces which were already taken. Two policemen moved an orange and white barrel directly behind the car...but didn't ticket it. But, he hasn't emerged yet. And here I stand...waiting...waiting.

Yes, one can get a little stir crazy in here, luckily there is "naked man" who "resides" in the room next to mine to keep my spirits up. No, don't even go there...but he IS an amusing topic of conversation here. He certainly isn't here to break up the tension...but moments such as those do break up the tension I'm sure.

You see, I've been here since Sunday, when I awoke with the apparent symptoms of a stroke and the trappings thereof: unsteady gait, difficulty swallowing, uncoordinated arm movement, and scariest of all - not being able to speak and reason properly.

So, I am here. The barrage of tests so far have pointed to a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) as the culprit. I am, essentially, "back to normal" - or should I say, "my normal".

But as I walk my IV pole, with the obligatory wonky grocery cart-type wheel, down the halls, I am reminded of how precious...and fleeting human life is...and no matter how impervious we think we are - we are very frail creatures...us humans.

Oh, that's probably not saying much - or maybe it's speaking volumes, depending on your interpretation of it. Personally, I am not usually places where I see trauma every day - I don't usually talk to the grandparent of a child who just lost his ability to walk by a totally unforeseeable accident. I don't usually see people strapped to neck and back braces trying desperately to negotiate the slightest of steps...I don't usually walk past doors with signs which state things like "turn patient every two hours".

I know these things happen and I know people deal with these things every day...but I am usually far removed from these situations. Today I was moved by them.

And today...I really want to start "get busy living" more than anything.

24 November 2008

The Food Oracle Blogger

No novel idea here...but I thought it would be fun and informative - and perhaps "dialogue inspiring" if I picked one day a week as my "taster's choice"...or "munchie review"...an outta the box or bag and into my mouth and back down my arms to my fingers out to you - in the guise of a food review...a portent of lesser importance. I shall be, for one day only, and only one day per week: "The Food Oracle Blogger". It sounded impressive to me...well, at least more impressive than "Dishing With the *cough* Semi-Hot Old Chick"...but, I'm willing to take suggestions.

Sadly, no companies or stores will probably ever give me anything to review...but if they want to - well, they can reach me at the contact info via my Profile. But I DO tend to eat...might as well pretend to make a living from it.

My tastes range from organic, ethnic, fancy, downright plain, to "can you believe she actually ATE that??" - and I plan to make it a habit detailing to you, bite by bite, my likes and dislikes of various gastronomical goodies...or "baddies"...as the case may be. It's not going to be "here's a recipe for a meatloaf dinner" or anything - just things you buy pretty much "ready-made". Oh, you might have to nuke them in the microwave or add hamburger, some milk, or an egg...and stir. There might even be ovens or cooktops involved...I can't promise you exactly what it will entail; but a wide array of products will be put to the test and unselfishly sacrificed to our stomachs just to please you, our "viewing audience". I promise to pull no punches or sugar coat anything (unless the instructions say to do so)...what I think is what you are going to read. Hopefully I can save a few of you some bad choices and $$$ and introduce you to things you might not have wanted to try.

I am planning to do one per week...but, you never know...I might sneak another one in on you in the process...I do tend to eat more than once a day...AND I also drink. So all things "imbibable" will fall into this category as well.

If you have a suggestion (within reason) feel free to pass it along. I love food - and basically have tried nearly everything out there. I am not squeamish in the least...but I won't eat raw oysters and such. Luckily, most raw oyster dishes don't call for the use of microwaves, ovens or stovetops.

All of these food choices will be made by me (or my children) alone, and as such, major entities like CBS and NBC will have nothing to do with it...no one's seen ABC in so long I don't think we have to worry about them...I think they're in the witness-protection-program or something. I don't watch FOX...so that's a moot point. There is, however, a standing invitation for "Food TV's" Alton Brown to come over and taste test food with me...but I won't hold my breath until then; he can, however, feel free to send me pointers and thoughts galore...or, more specifically, hire me.

Lastly, all product placements will end up in the trash...that's just the type of people we are.

11 November 2008

Halloween (Part II)

Well, I never did get around to writing part two of my Halloween blog, so I'm going to tack "Part II" on this one and give a much abbreviated version of it here.

In all honesty I was waiting until the election was over so the political blogs would die the death they should have had before they started...but apparently they haven't. Oh, don't get me wrong - it's not that I don't like to spend time reading interesting blogs...it's just that I find politics very uninteresting...especially when it comes to peoples' viewpoints trying to convince other people that they are complete idiots for thinking what they do because they are more right because they are voting for the "right" candidate...because all other candidates will be the downfall of America as we know it.

If the election wasn't so much like watching "Entertainment Tonight" - it might have captured my interest more...but when I start finding out "integral" information like how much Sarah Palin did or did not pay for her wardrobe, what consignment shop she claims to frequent, how much John McCain pays for his shoes, and what kind of dog Obama may or may not get due to his wife's allergies and which pound he plans to rescue it from...or not...well, ya know what? I don't care. Get a damn goldfish and let's move on to some REAL issues...but the dumbing down of America has definitely kicked up a notch and Mike Judge's film, "Idiocracy", is starting to look more and more like a quatrain from Nostradamus with each passing day. I'm now anxiously awaiting whether Paris Hilton is going to accept her invitation to the Presidential Inauguration...and where she and Michelle Obama plan to go shopping together, like the "BFF" they are...to pick out their gowns. Ummmm...NOT.

I do hope I'm wrong on all counts...so... ...back to Halloween. I dressed as Medusa, my daughter was a witch and my son, Alex, reluctantly wore the giant skull head I just had to buy him several weeks before because I thought it would be THE best costume ever...even if it was a lawn ornament. When I donned it on my head in the store - there wasn't anything that was going to stop me from getting it. He, of course, thought it was downright stupid...but at the last minute he popped it on and appropriately coordinated his wardrobe (even the Republican party would have been pleased) and we left for greener pastures and lighter lit areas to get our Halloween fix. He was complaining all the way there about how idiotic he looked.

But...while I still hope I'm wrong on some issues...I also love to be right. Oh, I do. And I don't think one person passing by didn't comment on how great his costume was or where he bought it. The SUV-pulled "hay ride" turned out to be more like a "hey ride" as countless Trick or Treaters shouted "Hey...big head!" each time they passed, cars pulled up next to him and the insiders gawked, a man who came to the door of his house quipped "Your costume is definitely a keeper" and, if those didn't clinch the deal; a gorgeous babe had her friend take her photo with him and it's probably up on her MySpace or Facebook account as I type this. In fact, I'm betting his image is on more than one (quite a few people took his photo). I have to say, hands down, this was THE best Halloween I've ever been treated to.

That's "two for two" Halloweens - and I am once again vindicated.

It's nice to be the "prophetic" Mom. :)

01 November 2008

Halloween (Part I)

Yes, I know I said I'd repost a few "old" blogs...but I was inspired to write this just now.

Is it my imagination or are the 'Trick or Treaters' becoming increasingly older and few and far between as each year goes by? Now, I know there are a lot of churches and other places around the area which hold their own events - but, in my opinion, nothing can beat going around, door-to-door, to elicit free candy from people you don't know. And while that's a big part of the fun, it's not THE part I like the most. Wasn't what I liked best back when I was a kid...isn't what I like best now. And with less and less little kids partaking in it...well, Halloween, in general, is kinda losing its original appeal.

What I always liked best was being able to dress up and go off to school wearing my costume. I lived for that. All year long. Second only...maybe...to Christmas. In fact, when I really think about it...I think I liked it more.

My parents never actually BOUGHT me a Halloween costume - we invented things from stuff lying around the house...plus my mother could sew. I remember (in vain) that I "oh so wanted" to be a princess...with all the trappings of a "bona fide" fairy-tale princess: the poofy, scratchy-itchy skirt netting, the sparkly cardboard star on a stick that you'd wave in desperation of something magic-like actually happening...as if magic "magically occurred" once you glued two otherwise innocuous and cheap glittered components together - and...to complete my fantasy ensemble: that hideous 1960s hard plastic princess face mask. You know the one, don't you? The one you can't keep on your face if you tried even tho you knotted off that ridiculously long semi-elastic string in the back with the two metal clasps that would always pop out of their respective hole-holders. The one with the enormous "Little Orphan Annie" eyeholes that, no matter how hard you tried, still ended up lower than your own personal eyes - so the only thing you could do was to look down and hope your parent paid attention to the terrain when they dragged you by the hand down the sidewalk that always seemed to love skinning my knees for some reason (personally I don't think my knees "unscabbed" until I hit my teen years). The one that always had that pasty white complexion with the "yellow" hair...because we all know that only true princesses have alabaster skin and hair the colour of the "fairest" Crayola crayon in the 8-pack...because Disney told us so. And the one your friend let you try on...for a brief shining moment...before she snatched it off your face with a stinging rubber band "thwak" and obligatory "hair pull" to the back of the head.

And "joy of joys", I remember one year winning for "best costume". I went as a Hindu...complete with my makeshift "lipstick-anointed" red bindi - not sure if that is "allowed" or "politically correct" to do nowadays...but it's a moot point anyway as you can't dress up at most schools. Regardless, as a child, I certainly didn't do it with any form of disrespect...I just loved the whole "sari" thing and, so, that is who I went as...as that's the fabric my mother had - and the costume was indeed gorgeous...and worthy of the accolades that only a third-grade teacher can bestow upon a student.

But it seems Halloween gets such a bad rap from the same people who, as kids, loved dressing up...only now they don't allow their kids to dress up and they certainly don't tolerate their schools allowing them to. When I was a child, the furthest thing from my - and my friends' minds - was "the devil worshipping practices and rituals surrounding a pagan holiday"...and don't even get me started on that one - you can just Google for yourselves.

So, it's a letdown to dress up (and yes, I did dress up - I dress up each time...this time I was Medusa as I love Greek myths) and see a handful of kids walking around delighting in being a little "different" than they are the other 364 days a year. Even if you don't trust the "candy givers"...toss out the candy, but let the little ones live a little...and by all means - bring back the costumes at school. Especially now with all the schools regimenting a set uniform...one day a year to buy a wig and let your hair down wouldn't be asking for too much, would it? At least for the elementary grades. Don't deprive them of the joy I once felt...because, for some kids, in the homes they grow up in and the stuff they are subjected to (and I know...I was beaten as a child, with a belt, by my father)...it's seriously the most fun they might have all year...and it's also the stuff good childhood memories are made of.

23 October 2008

Sounding Off

I have a "white noise" machine. Well, actually, it's one of those "sound" machines the "Sharper Image" people make. It comes with such "soothing and calming" sounds as: White Noise, Heart Beat, North Woods, California Coast, Rain, Ocean, Brook, Summer Night, Rain Forest, and Tropical Cruise.

The theory behind these things is innocuous enough: mask noises so you can relax, fall asleep, not be able to eavesdrop on someone else's therapy session, etc. And, in this theory, it sounds like a great, applaudable and laudable idea...until you get the darned thing home, plug it in, and...


The sounds are on a loop. A continuous "can actually pick it up - audibly" loop. You can tell where it ends and where the "seam" is. If you've ever watched a looped video - there's that "jump" you can see when it starts from square one again. I swear I can "hear" the jump on these.

And they are far from "natural" representations of nature - in fact, some are downright frightening. Instead of that nice peaceful sit by the lake in the "woods" as you originally "bargained for" -- you know, sitting by the campfire, roasting marshmallows and getting all "kum-bah-ya" and then...unbeknownst to you, you suddenly get "worst nightmare in the Serengeti". I swear it sounds as if something or someONE is being gnawed on...off in the distance. If you've ever seen The Twilight Zone episode "The Jungle" where the couple brings some trinkets home from Africa...and he and his wife end up being stalked in their own Manhattan apartment only to be torn to shreds (sorry to spoil it for you - but it's only been out since 1961). Well, that said...hopefully you don't have a monkey paw back scratcher or elephant wastepaper basket from Pier 1 Imports or anything dessiccated once belonging to a living jungle animal. To be on the safe side, that "good luck" rabbit's foot Uncle Joe picked up for you when you were a kid - (you remember) you got a green one, your sister's was purple and she wouldn't let you trade -- you've long since forgotten but they've been lying about the house since circa 1969 - or that pig's ear "chewy" you just picked up for the family dog? Well, I'd change the dial...just in case.

Edgar Allan Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart" has nothing on this "Heart-Beat" one - if you'd like great ambient music to play while kids are "Trick or Treating" - crank this baby up...it's sure to scare them senseless.

The "Brook" - by their own admittance from several people - brings thoughts to the forefront of another kind flowing into their minds - constant flowing water...flowing...flowing. You got it - another constant: your trips to the bathroom. So, if you need a "natural" diuretic...skip the coffee and tea and literally - go - and get one of these.

But, what's even more disconcerting to me is - my steadfast belief that a subliminal message is embedded into one of the sounds. No, seriously - I've heard it. My kids have heard it. I can't make out what is says, but it creeps me out...much worse than anything old Edgar could conjure up - and he was pretty damned macabre.

Consequently, I don't listen to the "noise-masker" any more. I found not sleeping...or sleeping with the "help" of Ambien was preferable to my imagination getting the better of me...convincing myself that "take the ax from the tool shed...sharpen the ax...take the ax into the..." message set to the beat to "
Stayin' Alive" from the Bee Gees...just weren't worth the blood-gurgling "Shaper Image"ry that water-gurgling brook sound emitted...regardless of how many lives it could possibly save...or not.

What I have to show for this experience is a very expensive piece of electronic equipment shoved somewhere in my house, undoubtedly next to the Sharper Image foot massager I just had to have...which is probably next to the one-way video monitor I also had to have...which is tacked on top of...

As a side note: I realized only today their brilliant strategy for playing the looped Sharper Image soundbyte at my therapist's office: What better way to drum up business than to submit unsuspecting would-be patients to the "take the ax from the tool shed"...brain drone? Sure...I know it's only in my own imagination...any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or eventually to be dead, is purely coincidental...

02 October 2008

Biden My Time...or Palin Comparison?

Well, I am not politically-minded. I can't wait until this election is over so I can stop seeing all the political stuff...especially all the blogs just saying the same stuff over and over - or worse yet, just copying the same stuff over and over and popping it in a blog.

Yeah...thank goodness Joseph McCarthy isn't alive as I'd just have put my name in the top of that Communist witch-hunt list with that last comment.

But, I am a curious sort. I haven't watched any Saturday Night Live/Tina Fey impersonation of Sarah Palin. Not because I didn't want to get my opinion swayed...but because I haven't watched SNL in years...yes, can we please put THAT up to a vote? I know one person who watches SNL...and he does so only BECAUSE of Tina Fey. Everyone else says that it's well passed the time we just "stick a fork in it...it's done". But, that's neither here nor there. I'm not debating whether or not I think SNL should be cancelled...at this point the debate on that would be "when SHOULD it have been cancelled?"...but I digress once again...

...I DID watch the debate tonite because I wanted to see...as one reporter said, in essence, "the train wreck we were all waiting for" And what I'm debating is...after the fact, due to a 30 minute TiVo delay, is: sitting here watching the first of the press-scrutinies - on which one won. They haven't gotten this many women reporters out of the woodwork since...well...I don't know when. I'm watching the NBC coverage of it, by the way...so I can't speak for what the other networks are doing...but the only one I haven't seen yet is Cokie Roberts...and probably because she's on another network.

But it seems these women watched a whole other debate than I did. Oh, it's not that I don't like this woman...I don't really know her...so I have no real preconceived perception of her...but what I've seen OF her...well, let's just say it's "Bush-esque". To me, no pun intended, but she "skirted the issues"...and she kept saying the same thing over and over again...if nothing else, I do come away knowing that "John McCain IS a maverick". She must have said it 14 times. It got to be that the only thing that I remember her saying...was that John McCain IS a maverick...and maybe, just maybe, that WAS their point.

Just like that annoying television commercial on television that doesn't tell you anything - but you remember it only because of its repetitive catchphrase...well, she did a fine job advertising her candidate. But, in my opinion, not much else. Sure, she didn't give the "deer in the headlights" look I was anticipating...and I was really anticipating it...but, although she "held her own"...I think just because someone doesn't fall flat on their face isn't grounds to say "she's terrific!"

Biden, on the other hand...seemed to be genial and just was smiling a bit too much for my liking. I kept thinking "oh, don't hold back...I recognize that smile...it's the smile I do when I'm trying to be nice to anyone who 'just doesn't get it'...take off the kid gloves and hit back!" But, he really didn't. Maybe the whole "she's a girl...I can't come off like gangbusters and get into all kinds of stuff with half the voting public" mentality. I don't know.

Personally, I still like Biden better. He's much better on his feet - and it's not only because he didn't wear heels (even my daughter remarked she must have some stamina for standing there in those shoes that whole time)...but maybe Biden is more like me. More outspoken and not a "mouthpiece puppet" for their Presidential counterpart.

I don't know if that's a good thing...but as Biden did mention (and again, I'm paraphrasing), "Obama picked me because I wouldn't be afraid to tell him I disagreed with him" - I really don't want a "Yes-Man" as a VP...even IF that "Yes-Man" so happens to be...a woman.

Now...on to the "REAL" debates...but in the meantime...who do YOU think won? And does it EVEN matter at this level?

26 September 2008

Adamant about...Adam Ant...and Other Such Fond 1980s Memories

Have you ever misplaced something and then found it later in a place you least expected? It could be hours, days or even months later and you think..."Oh THERE you are...you silly thing, how'd you end up here?"

Well, I lost something less tangible years ago - and, in a way, I found it the other day.

Through a random act of Internet association, someone happened upon my interactive comedy website because someone mentioned it to them. I, in turn, noticed their screen name and avatar...one thing led to another and I am now an active participant on an Adam Ant forum. I also found a group of people who rekindled something in me I lost long ago: memories of my youth.

You see...way back when, I was also one of another group of people - those who witnessed the advent of MTV. I was there from the get-go - from the days they stayed on the air just a few hours...to the days they went 24-hour format...to the days they went global...to, sadly, the days everyone complained they stopped playing music.

But, back in their youth...and back in MY youth - wow! Those were some exciting times.

Sure, there are a lot of people you will find who will tell you how much 80's music sucked and how MTV played a monumental part in its doing so. But -- there are also a LOT of people who cruise YouTube extolling the virtues of 80s music...video after video, wishing they lived during that time. Multitudes of people love the music and the antics going on in the videos.

Truth be told...MTV and 80s singers had a symbiotic relationship...MTV gained viewership by playing beautiful videos sung by beautiful people. Beautiful people flourished -- it was like the "Golden Age" of Hollywood all over again - but on a much smaller screen.

One of those beautiful people gracing their airwaves was unknown to me at the time. I lived in New Jersey, and altho I would listen to Philadelphia radio stations, they still managed to play only what was selling advertising, which equated to Top 40 rock format...with a few local favourites thrown in. Princeton University would broadcast a much more eclectic sound and through them I found the likes of REM, The Police, U2, Depeche Mode and The Cure...all well before they were mainstreamed over to the "popular" stations.

But people like Duran Duran, Madonna and Adam Ant were bypassed altogether...and without MTV around to find their niche - these talented, albeit beautiful, people...would have probably fallen by the wayside.

But a little less about them and more about me...

Duran Duran burst on the MTV scene about the same time as my hormones started bursting out of me. And while they undoubtedly were the fantasy of schoolgirls everywhere...eh...they weren't my cup of tea.

Then I caught my first glimpse of Adam. I remember it distinctly - I was hanging out at my friend, Cecelia's house, watching MTV, talking about boys, and making life-long plans we'd always put down on paper. I guess it was more official when you had it in writing. And somehow, ultimately, living in Los Angeles or England was always involved - as was "marrying a rock star". And when Adam swaggered into her living room that day - well, our lists got updated.

We then ran out, for the first and only time in my life - and bought one of those Teen Beat-type magazines. I can't recall the exact name of it - but I do remember Adam was featured prominently inside.

Then out came the make-up kits - we now had in front of us our "Rembrandt" if you will - to copy. We spent many hours trying to replicate that "masterpiece"...but honestly, I really think we spent more time drooling over Adam than drawing on our faces. Could anyone in their right mind blame us?

It goes without saying that we also bought up all the albums of his we could find...then promptly taped it over to cassette. Keep in mind these were the days pre-recorded cassettes sorely lacked any real quality recording...so when you bought the album you'd also buy a Maxcell tape and do it yourself. Then you'd sit down in front of the stereo with the lyric sheet (another reason you'd buy the album...they rarely provided them then in cassettes) and play that record until you had it memorized. And then you'd pop that tape in the car and play it everywhere you went. Yeah...you might say this whole regimen bordered on obsession - but, boy...what an obsession!

And what obsession would be complete without the 'coup de grace' of them all? The ultimate paying of respect? Yes, when Halloween rolled around, Cecelia and I went as Adam.

I had all but forgotten these things - as childhood memories make way for adult ones; and friends, sadly, come and go and then eventually drop out of contact altogether. People move, get married and start new families and new memories - the years pass by all too quickly and you stop making wish lists and make grocery lists instead.

And the only ones dressing up for Halloween are your children. Sure, you can always dress up as well (I know I still do)...but it's never going to be with the same innocence, fervour, and wonderment as when you were young. And now there you are...gazing upon your kids; the reflection of the doorstep jack-o-lanterns twinkling in their eyes, their quickening gait as they try to outrace the other kids to the door, and the sheer, unbridled passion only a new Halloween costume and the prospect of copious free candy can give a kid...and you can't help but reflect back to those carefree days of your youth and wonder how they went past so quickly.

Twenty years seem like ages when you're a kid - but are, in reality, a blink of the eye when you, yourself...much later...look back. That thing my mother always told me WAS true: "Before you know it, Mariann...20 years will have gone by..." She would say it so many times and I always, always dreaded hearing it. Funny the things you remember - and the things you don't. I can remember her saying it, well...like it was just yesterday...

...but...one thing I'm not dreading - is turning into my Mother, like some people do theirs; you see, I always dragged my Mom around wherever I went - and she listened to Peter Gabriel, Genesis, U2, Yes...and yes, Adam Ant as well. And one thing's for certain, if she were alive today, I'd still be dragging her around town with me, laughing, shopping and driving all over the place while listening to what's on the radio. And...she'd probably want me to turn it off. But probably not for any reason you might think, but because, like Adam sings -- "That music's lost its taste - so try another flavour..." And, my mother would be the first to agree. It IS time to try something different from what they've been playing on the radio (at least in this town) lately.

So, c'mon everyone...play something new...even IF that "new" thing just so happens to have hit it big back in the 80s.

21 September 2008

The Rift of Gab

I like to talk.

Everyone who knows me knows this.

This is how I start all practically all conversations when I meet someone: "Hi...blah blah (please insert actual words in place of the "blah blah"...as I don't actually SAY "blah blah") blah...by the way, I tend to NOT shut up. If you start talking to me...I can not and WILL not stop. And IF we ever talk on the phone...well, I had one call I made to a new friend in Hawaii from 12:30 - 7:00 a.m. the other nite. Yes, she is now my new "official record holder".

Poor thing.

So I think you get the picture.

Well, another friend I have (all my friends are not in any reasonable driving distance, by the way...possibly for a reason) called me today to let me know he just signed up for one of those unlimited long distance calling plans. And he was quick to toss in "...but I'm going to be watching a game tonite so don't call me".

Now, I'm not completely stupid - I know what the deal is and I told him: "You got this plan just so you can call to tell me not to call, huh?" Oh, sure - I know I call - I call a lot. Try to make me feel even more guilty about it than I already do. Take note that I stressed the word "try".

Are you one of those people who are always doing the dropping by someone's house or calling them up? After a while you think to yourself..."Self...if they really wanted to associate with you, they'd once in a while be on the receiving end...maybe, just maybe they are giving you a not too subtle hint?"

But then I remember what my friends always say..."I wish we lived closer as we could go over to each other's houses and hang out together". But then I counterthink with "well, maybe they are just saying this BECAUSE they don't live near me"...you know, the way people offer to help you when they never intend to - to begin with? Sorta like when people say "see you later" when you just met them - and you will never see them again as long as you live. So...it's my uneducated guess that if we lived closer we'd undoubtedly see some idiosyncrasy we do which grates on the other's nerves which we don't see over the phone and then we'd never go out again. You know - like when you go out with someone to a nice restaurant and they hold their knife like the killer in "Psycho"...only sticking straight up and down in a Neanderthalish manner? Or when someone uses their finger to scoot their food onto their fork at the very same restaurant...or reaches into their mouth repeatedly with what appears to be their entire hand to pick something out from between their back molars? Or...okay...okay...I'll stop...but you know...things like that which they never stop - yet they'd chastise their own child at the dinner table at home for doing the same thing.

I know what you are thinking: Who am I to talk about stopping since I never stop...talking? And don't I have some of my own idiosyncrasies? Yes, I do. But they are the good ones to have.

Don't believe me...give me a call and we'll talk about it. ;)

13 September 2008

Illegal Drug Pens

If you've been keeping up with any of my blogumns, you might know I've a penchant for pocketing pens. Drug company pens to be exact...but I've only "officially" stolen one. It's been my experience if you ask the receptionist or doctor for one of those pens they get by the truckload along with other miscellaneous drug company merchandise like clocks, mouse pads and squishy heads...they will more than likely accommodate you. Unfortunately, I have too many of these free pens lying all over the house, in my car and in my purses to count. I say it's unfortunate because I've been to that many doctors.

Now the way I see it - the pens are free...the drugs are pushed, the drug reps need to unload them and the doctors need to keep those reps busy, so I'm actually doing them a service by providing them more opportunities to drop more pens off. Plus, I'm pretty much paying a lot to see these people, the least they could do is "toss me a cookie" once in a while in the form of a pen.

And having one lying around along with 25 of its "clones" sitting in a drug provided coffee-cup is akin to dangling a carrot in front of Ole Bessie. Two guesses as to whether I'm the carrot or Ole Bessie (and keep the side remarks to yourselves). They won't ever miss ONE - they have a never ending supply of them...plus I DO bother to ask politely. There's plenty of people who just abscond with them without so much as a "howdy do" and a tip of their hat. You know, those hats they don't ever wear anymore - which I referred to in my prior "Men Without Hats" blog. (Yes...this is how I getcha interested in reading another blog...or hopefully get you interested.) As for those pens, in all shapes and sizes, colours and materials, each proudly sporting their drug name emblazoned on it...in near full regalia as it were. Some are very handsome indeed...and therein lies my fascination with drug pen acquisitions. This obsession of mine is purely based on getting something for nothing which is in a pretty package that is useful...especially useful to me, actually, because I sometimes write my blogumns with those very same pens. See? What better justification for an inanimate object infatuation could anyone want?

But it is a sad day indeed. I was gleefully, cheerfully, and oh so set-uppingly administering my "you just can't possibly deny me one little pen when you have hundreds in the back" I've used countless times before when out of her mouth I heard those nine little words that would change my life as I know it. "They aren't allowed to give us drug merchandise anymore." She continued, "These are the last of them...after we run out...we'll have to use our own." Insert one of those Hollywood "
Wilhelm Screams" here. Surely, she's just messing with me - she just won't pony up the pretty pen for pathetic me. How dare she...why, I bet she takes those things home and sells them on eBay. And I left.

What fortuitous event met me at the elevator...why it was a drug rep herself with her rolling carrying case of goodies...rolling because all those squishy heads, clocks and pens get rather heavy when you have to lug them around, office door to office door. The glamorous life of a drug rep...must be hard work. Lunches every day...rolling her little personal trolley into doctors' offices day in and day out, whilst a myriad of patients huff "why I never" in unison, and wait until you've uttered your rehearsed drug soliloquy speech - then you bound back out, hands waving and many "see you next weeks" being bantered about with as much enthusiasm as one can muster up for people you don't give one darn about.

So...I gazed longingly at her laden pack and, while never looking up to make eye contact, asked, "I just heard a horrible, vicious rumour...please tell me is not true! The receptionist wouldn't part with a pen...said you guys aren't hawking them anymore...surely she's having some type of mother hen complex with them...correct?"

"No...we aren't allowed to give them out anymore...it's a new law." So, I thought to myself...'bribery disguised in cylindrical plastic form...is...sniff...sniff...a thing of the past; it is, alas, no...sniff...more.'
While I never did condone them wining and dining and schmoozing and trinket-ing the physicians...I really had no problem taking pens promoting drugs I'd never take in my lifetime. My Viagra pens are one of my prized possessions...battles in this house have been won and lost just over coveting rights alone.

Now in case you are wondering just what is and isn't allowed and why the lowly pen has now become a professional pariah...here's a little breakdown, courtesy of the "Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals," Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, July 2008; that, come January 2009...will go into effect:

Educational items, such as anatomical models, worth less than $100.
"Modest" in-office or in-hospital meals with informational sessions by drug reps.
"Modest" restaurant meals as part of an informational session by an expert speaker.
Funding for CME programs.
Payments for bona fide consulting or advisory arrangements.
"Fair market value" payments for speaker training.
Funding for scholarships chosen by training institution.

Not acceptable

Reminder items such as pens, notepads, coffee mugs and
wall clocks. (New in 2009)
Restaurant meals with drug reps. (New in 2009)
CME grant funding based on marketing objectives. (New in 2009)
Sports equipment; tickets to sports or entertainment events.
Physician travel or lodging subsidies for meetings or CME.
Payments for sham consulting or advisory arrangements.
Financial support "in exchange for prescribing products or
for a commitment to continue prescribing products."
So, stock up on those "not acceptable" items while you still can get your little hands around them...as they might be worth a small fortune one day on eBay...if they don't rescind the laws. Or better yet, send them to me for addition to my own personal stockpile of drug-rep paraphernalia. Hey, those pens just might afford me the opportunity to send my daughter to Med School.

Ahhh...irony. Gotta love it.

03 September 2008

Interview to a Skill

If I can borrow a line from David Letterman...everyone "hold on to your wigs and keys" - I actually had a job interview, I think...the other day.

Oh, I know what you are thinking...even before you thought it - "you THINK?" Yes, I think - let me elaborate...just a little...

I went to drop off my resume - nope, I didn't email or FAX it - I did it the "old fashioned way"...I hand-carried it. And in the process, ended up sitting down and speaking with the woman who either ultimately decides who gets the job or, at the very least, plays some part in the decision. At least that's the impression I was led to believe.

About an hour later - I came back out. Far be it from me NOT to talk, but if had known I wasn't going to just drop my resume off and then leave, I would have at least brushed up on some things - like what exactly the place I just put in for a job...does. What an entity sounds like it might do by its name and what that entity does in real life are sometimes two totally different things; this was one of those times. So, I must say a felt a bit stupid for asking (what informed candidate would dare ask such a thing) - but I'm hoping that whole "there are NO stupid questions" adage will hold true this time, because honestly, I have indeed heard my share of stupid questions, so I know they're out there.

I also would have dressed nicer and put on a "better" aka "corporate face". Oh, you guys have it easy - pretty much the only thing you have to do to get ready is shave and make sure your tie matches. Women have the "whole package" process to attend to. From head to toe, most of us still do some obsessing, literally, from top to bottom and all points in between. We have a wide range of clothes to choose from (not just suits...which all look pretty much the same) - and shoes (here again, men's dress shoes don't usually deviate far from the others which look pretty much like all the rest). But women's shoes...geez...do you men have any idea how stressful and challenging it is to find "just the right shoe"...each time we dress up? Do you THINK we actually LIKE shopping for shoes?? Wait, let me rephrase that...and when I think of something to rephrase it with, I'll get back to you...unless, of course, there's a really great shoe sale or something in the meantime. But I digress once again...

Then, in the process of getting ready for a job interview - we must work hard to get that "first impression" look genuinely less than contrived. Sure, I know it's contrived, you know it's contrived, I know you know it's contrived...but it is the first impression and we want to make a genuine good one nonetheless.

Our hair...of course we need to do something to it, and because luck will befall us in the way it always does on such occasions, the more we try to get it right, the worse it ends up looking. Any other time when we have no such intentions to run into anyone...the hair will fall as if someone named Raoul had been working on it all day. When it counts, it's always someone named Igor. Trust me...this hair problem is not uncommon...look around you. You don't honestly think those women having those hairdos asked for them, do you? Even though that part of the hair is technically dead - doesn't mean it still doesn't hold a grudge against you for something...all grudges will be carried out at the most inopportune time, such as dates, interviews, and marriage photos.

Next are make-up issues. You never want to walk into a new place you haven't scoped out ahead of time without putting on some amount of make-up. Going sans make-up might be fine once you get the job...but during the pre-job feeling out process - it's best to go for natural kicked up a notch. You certainly don't want to come off being the office glamourpuss - as chances are you WILL be running into SOME women during this whole interview process - and bad vibes are the things you'd least want to be sending off. No one wants to be out-glammed, plus you'll come off looking so high maintenance they'll probably think your work takes second stage to make-up touch-ups. So...you have to find a nice balanced middle-ground until which time you are welcomed into their fold...then you can rely on the "office attractiveness bell curve" and you will eventually learn just where you fit in. Trying to ring that bell-curve when you make that all important first impression...well, one should never attempt this...because - it will take its toll on thee.

Okay, at this point in my blogumn, the men think I well crossed that "insane line" mentally drawn in the sand - and the women, hopefully, are agreeing with me, nudging some guy somewhere in their vicinity, going "SEE, you guys DO have it easier". You are not scrutinized like we are...you just will never know the woman's psyche ...of course, you can't figure out women period (oh, c'mon a whole nation of comics for ages can't be wrong), how can you be able to understand them on this very subtle level? We, alone, "get" all sorts of subtle cues we give off...some are harder to read...some aren't subtle at all...but at one point the judging procedure has already gone full swing and is now winding down. This is the point where you should not overstay your welcome - there must be time to let the would-be employers mull over what you did and didn't say and if you meshed or bonded at all...or if you are of such a personality you'd cause dissension in the ranks and even IF you could handle the work...even with the best ability, would anyone want you...given your personality or attitude type? These are questions which all must be weighed in - and it's a very precise balancing act. It's not like they can just take you back to the pet store if they didn't like you - it's a little more involved than that.

There's been places I've worked where certain personalities just didn't mesh...in fact wondering which job would be their best chosen field...well, let's just say - .some people are best left to their own devices, out of the way of the daily interaction, located in some back room where their attitude can learn contentment in containment and reflection as it were...as some people aren't exactly "people" people...no matter how many times they continue and persist to remind you that they are.

So, while I don't know how I fared or scored, I do believe , if nothing else, they will think I have no problem, whatsoever, being able to talk to anyone who works in he office, walks into the office, calls the office, or, really...anyone who actually breathes. That part at least, has been established...even without a walk-past mirror-check.

23 August 2008

More Olympic Musings aka Olympic Musings II

Some more Olympic meanderings...

It seems to me that it isn't the safest job in the world to be the guy who stands out in the field while they throw the discus, hammer or javelin. The shot put doesn't seem to be that terrible - but that discus seems it could go anywhere...even hitting one of the people running by who are doing the other events. All that guy has to do is get some vertigo or trip up while he's spinning around to toss it and it ends up walloping someone in the head. No thanks...I'll stick to being the gymnastics "bar spotter" (oh go read my first part).

Then I present to you - two multi-part Olympic events and my thoughts regarding them...

Triathlon: A competition comprised of three events. The events and official distance for them is thus: 1.5 km swim (almost a mile), a 40 km (almost 25 miles) cycle and a 10 km (over 6 miles) run. (Yes, I added the feet in because I just can't fathom what the distance is without feet, yards and miles involved...I am metric impaired.)

Decathlon: A competition of ten events - broken out below.

Day 1:

100 meters (328 feet)
Long Jump
Shot Put
High Jump
400 meters (1312 feet)

Day 2:

110 meter hurdles
Pole Vault
1500 meters (almost a mile)

So, the way I figure it - the Decathlete has it way easier. When you add up all those distances - they don't even jump, run or throw anywhere near the distance the Triathelete does - yet they get all the glory - PLUS they do it in two days instead of back-to-back-to-back like the Triatheletes. Where is the justice? How many Triatheletes have you ever seen on a Wheaties box? How many can you name? There...my point is now made. :) Now just for fun, a bonus question: How many Heptathlon winners can you name? Again...my point exactly.

More random stuff that popped out of my head...

The Steeplechase: Typically this seems like a race a horse should be doing...you go over the same type of obstacles - the gates don't flop over like hurdles do - so you can actually vault off them with your foot if you really wanted instead of clearing them totally...plus there's also a water jump...like the horses do. Seems either the horse event or the human even should be retitled...or at the very least make the human competitors carry a small monkey on their backs or something. I'm betting it would get a lot more NBC coverage if they added the monkeys.

Sports vs Competitions: There are a lot of events at the Olympics which seem to get peoples' ire up over the single fact they don't consider them a "sport" per se. Now...one can contest this until the cows come home, which, incidentally, is not any event IN the Olympics that I know of. Some people have been telling me that Women's Rhythmic Gymnastics - you know the one with the ball, ribbon or hula hoop type things...is not a sport. I counter with "well, Beach Volleyball isn't a sport either" - my justification volley (yeah, that was meant as a pun) goes something like this: "How can that be an Olympic sport? I mean...[possible] time outs for "desanding", wearing hats backwards and playing "Who Let the Dogs Out?" between volleys? That last one alone should disqualify it."

My friend and I were talking about clarification of what exactly constitutes the events that are in the Olympics and are some actually not sports? I told him I thought it might be like that Wide World of Sports voiceover would always say "The human drama of athletic competition..." Merriam-Webster Online defines "sport" as: 1 a: a source of diversion : recreation b: sexual play c (1): physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2): a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in. Even watching Olympics late nite...I've never seen anything they televised remotely coming close to that "b" one (at least not on NBC). So, while some things are clearly sports...using teams and balls...some are clear winner one-against-one...such as races and archery and such...and some are scored against others you are still competing against even though you aren't competing against them at the same time...such as gymnastics, diving and ice skating. So that got me trying to find out exactly what the Olympic's basis for allowing a sport/event - and while I didn't find any real 'cut and dried' criteria, I did find this if you are interested:
Lots of rules regarding the Olympics. No word yet on Olympic dart throwing and NASCAR.

And while we were talking on the phone, the marathon was run and diving resumed...and I mentioned how great Greg Louganis was and how remiss I was for leaving him out of my "all-time favourites" list in my last blogumn. Ironically, as soon as I mentioned him, Visa featured him in a commercial. That man could dive and I got to see him in the 1988 Seoul, Korea Olympics...in fact I have photos of him in the preliminaries (I didn't get to see him in the finals) and I was there when he hit his head on the diving board...and he STILL managed to win
gold in the end. Best diver ever. Ever.

And is it just me but does the "Bird's Nest" stadium remind anyone else of one of those giant rubber band balls? At some angles it also looks like it's Duck (duct) Tape...which would be apropos because...well, a duck IS a bird.

Maybe more later...

Olympic Musings

First off - an excuse...I've been dealing with a stabbing ice-pick headache for the last few days...so if this makes no sense and I find out later and you find out before me...I apologize. But considering this idea's been sitting in the back burner of my mind since the second day of the Olympics and the time is waning...I'm going to jump while the iron in that burner's still hot.

I LOVE the Olympics (Summer and Winter)...I have since the 1968 games. When they grace my screen, I stay glued to it watching everything and anything they throw at me...from those "gotta see" events like gymnastics, swimming (how about that Phelps!) and ice skating to the ones that make you go "hmmmm" - like Men's Synchronized Diving and Women's Synchronized Swimming...to the "Ski a Bit...Shoot a Bit" competition I only have a vague idea of the name (Biathlon - "thank you", Google)...to Curling, which has GOT to be the oddest of all Olympic "sports" out there. Somehow I think boredom and booze were involved coming up with that one. But, last Winter Olympics - I watched Curling...and it seemed to get its 15 minutes of fame and glory - at least everyone was talking about it...due to the actual airing of the event. That "leftover '
Whatizit' element" - probably artfully tied in somehow during their commentary when they did their backstories. Eh...probably not. Let's move on...

And for my money (not that I'm buying anything NBC's advertising)...other than the late great Jim McKay, you just can't beat Bob Costas as a host. He's informative, intelligent, silly enough to seem like's actually being genuine while being silly, and darnit, he's still pleasant on the eyes (even with the darker hair). But first and foremost the show and his sporadic interviews with various athletes is not about him - it's about them and he is an unpretentious sort and not an opportunistic attention grabber like that irritating weasel, Pat O'Brien was when he covered the Olympics. I cringed each time he showed up because it was going to be HIS interview - no matter the subject matter...it always segued into "the show about him".

But there are some things which always stay the same...and things that always make me go "hmmmm" - so since I am now watching platform diving...I thought I'd take the platform myself and share some of my own personal Olympic meanderings and musings...

First off, the sideline comments:

There are rule books the judges use, the officials use, the participants use...but there should be one the reporters and commentators also use. One that deals with cliches and just plain dumb verbiage. In other words - sporting vernacular they always fall back on which makes everyone else cringe or go "NO...REALLY?? It also begs the question, "Do they even bother to know how silly it's going to sound before they say it?"

Oh, I'm not saying I could do any better...altho I think I'd jot down some "pre-event" comments before I went on the air and then tried to work them in instead of the others. You'd think a big network would say..."Could you possibly refrain from using the following utterances? (Hands list to them.) Please?"

Keep in mind these are things which highly paid people say during the Olympic broadcast (and have for years) and, just because it's my blogumn, some of my comments after...

"Oooh, that's gonna cost him."

"I don't think he meant to do that."

"He really didn't want to do that during this competition."

"What's going through their mind right now?" (Before, during, and after winning or losing any event.)

"She hasn't been able to do this all week..." Promptly followed by either "...but she managed to do it this time" or "...and she still didn't". It's witty banter like this which secures their place in the annals of broadcasting history, right up there with the "oh the humanity" guy.

And I don't know about you, but if I hear one more reporter say "He really wants to win this thing"... Noooooo, really?? I thought he was trying for fifth, ya moron. And then there's the "geez, ya think??" factor for the ever popular "Oooooh, he's going to regret doing that the rest of his life".

And now...some random Olympic thoughts:

The guy who lifts the guy up at the high bar in men's gymnastics...just what does he shout to the guy who's doing the routine? "Yes...that's it - now swing around again...and again...okay, that's good...don't forget to grab the bar...now go around again...now get ready to let go...but only when I tell ya." I mean, you'd figure the gymnast already knows his routine...and it's not like he's relaying key information like "Hurry up...the guy swimming next to you is catching up!" or anything. I'm kinda curious as to what they say.

And why don't they have balance beam spotters? Do you only get a spotter when there's a bar involved? The men's high bar has one and the women's uneven bars does...why not a rings spotter? And doesn't this "back seat driver of the bar" get on the gymnast's nerves? Each time they do any move - the "bar guy" inches up a foot and then retreats...inches up again...flinches...puts his arms up...down again...then steps back. You'd think it would be like the guy yelling just when the golfer's going to make his putt. Plus I've never seen them stop anyone from falling. When the gymnast misses...they end up splatting on the ground...not really like the "bar guys" are that much help if you ask me.

Can they call a time out in order to get the sand out of their bottoms during Beach Volleyball? And if so...just what does the hand signal for that look like? (Oh...trust me, I made one up...it's pretty good.)

Shouldn't there be Olympic "do-overs"? When someone trips you from another team...say, hypothetically...when you are Great Britain and Jamaica comes into your lane and bumps into you when they're passing their baton. That really isn't good. By that adage...they could possibly team up like in NASCAR. Get two teams in the finals - have one smash into the one who poses the biggest threat...so you can run off with the gold. Seems plausible. Not that I'm saying they do it - but I have seen missteps in quite a few Olympics...from the Zola Budd/Mary Decker incident...to, well, this one tonight. It's never fair - and I think they should have "do-overs". At least let the "wronged" people do it over...I'm not saying everyone has to start over - but sheesh...let them have their shot.

If some athletes like to take banned drugs and swipe the glory away from the true-deserving competitors (sometimes years after the fact) - why don't they just have a "Steroid Olympics"? Heck, I'd watch that for sure. Just think of the arms being pulled off during weightlifting and the records being broken and how itty bitty the men's Speedos could be with all the ...oh, c'mon you DO know the side effects of taking steroids, right?

And can we please only compete in the country in which you were raised for the majority of your life? Not "oh I didn't qualify for Berlique...so I'll go to Upper Slobovia...they have no one...I'll be a shoe-in to make the cut."

Yeah...I know - that last one probably already got me some hate mail...but can we just give the games back to the people who didn't turn pro yet? I mean a cereal box here and again to fund the house your parents mortgaged three years ago so you could afford moving to a place where an Olympic coach trains - is one thing. But when you've been pro for X years and you can now (technically) represent your country in the games just to win a medal that you (ultimately) take away from someone else who isn't pro who'd also like the possibility of a medal...well, that's still unfair and unsporting if you ask me. Yeah...medals are nice - but opportunities are, too. Give the opportunity to a non-pro athlete - there are probably plenty of them out there who'd love to represent their country and could do a darn fine job in the process.

Lastly, since I'm getting hate mail from the last two...might as well go for three. Mark Spitz still ruled and always will in my book. Yes, I know, Michael Phelps is phenomenal. I agree. I really do. But Spitz was magical back in my day...and like one of the commentators said after Phelps won...(and I'm paraphrasing) "Spitz was from 'our generation'" referring to us older viewers who lament Spitz' record being broken. His "our generation" is also MY generation and it is the one of my glory days of my youth - and that youth comprised of Olga Korbut, Mark Spitz, Bruce Jenner, Dorothy Hamill, Franz Klammer (anyone else remember him?) and the incredibly great Toller Cranston (who got cheated out of a gold if you ask me). It always will. It's a bittersweet moment to see it...I knew Phelps was capable...but, secretly I'll admit - I wanted him to tie it. I knew he wouldn't - but to see Spitz "dethroned" considering he didn't swim eight races...seemed - wrong. (And some people were just so incredibly disrespectful if you ask me about the whole ordeal.) Yes, I know...Spitz only swam two strokes and Phelps swam four...but a part of me...again, a part of my youth I wanted so desperately to hang on to...was relinquished. I'm just glad it was by someone who wasn't an arrogant twit. Phelps is so very nice...and no one (in their wrong or right mind) can possibly argue he can't out-swim anyone and everyone...but...I'm still a tad curious just how much slower he might have been had he donned a Speedo and a moustache. ;)

14 August 2008

The "Dating Game" (Conclusion)

Now don't get me wrong, we aren't ALL hypocrites...but I've spoken with a lot of people about a lot of things and what people say to one person of one sex isn't necessarily the thing they tell the person of the other. I've actually been quite surprised by the number of people who contacted me, privately, via message, and posted on my blog about what I've been writing. And it goes with what I've been learning, and yes, I say 'learning', over the course of my life. Ironic it's the "course" of my life...because it has been a sort of education...it's a "course" I'm in...and it's not an elective. It's mandatory. And I can't opt out. Well, I could...but I'm not going to.

And I know I whine. Many times I feel so alone since my parents died, so wronged and so cornered with no way out...and then I look around and see what other people are going through, all around the world - and I can't help but think of how fortunate I really am. I honestly don't know how some people can go through what they do...and how many even rise above everything and persevere under such adversity.

But most of the comments I received were from people who felt as I did and felt like so many people I talk to. Regardless of whether you are male or female - if you've devoted a portion of your life to another and it goes wrong, or you had to take out a zillion loans to pay off your bills...and now you are only working to pay off those loans, or you lost your job and you find yourself looking for another one when you are in (or fast approaching) your 50s...and you know you are competing against people who are younger than your own kids...or you're now tasked with taking care of one or both of your parents, or had health issues of your own...it's hard. I think you'll be hard pressed to find someone from the above list who would disagree.

I have to admit - I had a different road I was going to take this story down...but, I don't jot down notes...and when I write one of these blogumns, I sit down at the computer (sometimes on a notepad) and basically run with it. It always turns out differently than what I envisioned...and this time is also no exception.

What I've found out is that people are resilient, remarkable, and also very easily hurt. That guy you see where you work each day who you think has it all together? Probably doesn't. And that woman who brightens up everyone's day...well, she might have been through a lot - but covers it well. Many times I start talking to people, and trust me, when I start talking...chances are we're going to be at it a while...and for some inexplicable reason, they do something I'm not sure they do with everyone. They start to confide in me...and most times very intimate details of their lives. Yes, I am a complete stranger to them...but for some reason they feel compelled to unburden themselves and vent...or, what I'd rather think...they sense I have compassion, empathy and I'm easy to talk to. I'd like to go on thinking that.

Case in point...I ran into a lady the other day at a store here in town...she's from another country and new to the area - and, rather apologetically and reluctantly she asked me a question regarding finding school supplies for her child. I answered, walked away, got in line, and then saw her again while I stood there...and I debated in my head, "Should I just walk up after I'm done here and start up a conversation with her? Maybe she's new here (she DID have an accent afterall) and could use some help finding her way around? Should I even bother?" Well, I'm an extrovert, so the extrovert part of me took over and after I made my purchase - walked over to her and offered up my aid, if she needed it. I think she was appreciative...she started telling me some details of her life...and even a story from her country (yes, I'm respecting her anonymity) about someone who lived there essentially her entire LONG life...and when she died, the cliquey townspeople came up with their "less than welcoming" epitaph for her: "She wasn't from around here." Now, I don't know how true this story is...but it's a story she shared...maybe because I cared enough to lend a hand to show her around town. Sure, I made it known I would also love to have a friend...as you see, I'm also "not from around here"...and altho I've lived here for 18 years and not 99 like the lady in her story...I always feel I'm just an outsider looking in. I've got my nose pressed up against the proverbial glass outside the shop...but they just won't open the door to let me in. And just like that dog that's been kicked so many times...you learn to stop trying to gain anyone's affection...and you go sit back down in the corner licking your wounds.

And there are a lot of wounded people out there. My theory is - as people get older they don't necessarily let new people and new situations into their lives because life IS scary. The longer you live...the more you might have seen it...especially if it seems to happen to you over and over. But familiarity is safe. So some people stay within the confines of their "safe zones"...and their circle of friends...and their dead-end jobs and equally dead-end lives. It IS scary to trust another person...it's hard to not think about rejection (especially when you're not a stranger to it)...be it in a job, a relationship, or even, sometimes...something as simple as talking to a stranger in a shop.

But I'm trying.

10 August 2008

The "Dating Game" (Part 2 of 3)

And what IS this preoccupation you men people have with breasts? It doesn't matter if they look as fake as two grapefruit halves shoved under some tightly stretched skin...you still crave them. If the woman bleaches her hair to that totally unnatural shade of blonde (c'mon, there's a reason Crayola doesn't have that colour in the box...please pick a shade that actually registers in our spectrum) and then cackles at the top of her lungs like the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz...as long as she's packing some 'boobage'...she can do no wrong.

But when those puppies start going south...

...well, let me give you a scenario which has happened to me a few times. True scenarios. They kinda go like this: "You could always get a tummy tuck and a boob job IF you won the Lottery." "IF you got a boob job you'd be happier." "Would you get a boob job if you could afford it?" And yes...they were all uttered by men.

You know...after living 47 years I'd like to think people are above looking at me below the neck...but it just isn't so. Sure...there are those of you out there with husbands, boyfriends - or ARE husbands and boyfriends...who are probably shaking your heads in disagreement with me right now saying "well, that isn't ME"...well, it might not be YOU...but look around. You are deluding yourself if you don't think that's the prevalent thought in man-stream (and main-stream) society.

I run across nice women every day. Really nice women. Women of all ages. And don't fool yourselves - we talk about you guys. We flat out slam ya. Yup, we do. Oh, if we could take a vote tomorrow to have you guys voted off the island...let me ask just one thing? Have you ever heard of the
Amazons in Greek mythology?

Regardless of a bitter hatred of all things men (oh...c'mon, surely I jest), there's a couple other things these women have in common. They are nice, smart, and funny - but they aren't all "Barbie-doll" perfect.

Let me clue all you guys in...most of you aren't up to Antonio Banderas-par neither. But I have yet to hear any woman say "ya know...if he'd only have liposuction or some type of implant..." - and what would you guys say if we started preaching how much better YOU'D feel if YOU had a little work done?

I'm not speaking out of turn. Look at those magazines and Internet celebrity sites all over the place. They pick on Uma Thurman for being a bit "saggy" or Jennifer Love Hewitt for having a big butt. Geez the woman weighs 100 lbs...it's against the laws of physics for her to be ABLE to have a big butt. But I never see "oh look at Matthew McConaughey...he's going to need a pec lift soon", "Brad sure is in desperate need of electrolysis" or "ya know - in retrospect...Sean Connory DID make an unsexy Bond".

Those tables sure are turned when it comes to women and their bodies...no wonder we aren't content...no wonder we feel like we can never live up to our expectations...we can't live up to anyone's. And that is JUST not fair.

We live in a society which tells our daughters to be happy with the body God gave them...that they aren't overweight, that their chests are just the right size and that they will grow into their noses...then we turn around and nip and tuck and shove implants (or wish we could) in our own bodies - or, worse yet, tell our wives or girlfriends to do it...to achieve something we can never get back: our own youth. No, a BETTER youth..."better" than the one we originally had.

We are such hypocrites.

(Part 3 tomorrow...and yes, that will be the conclusion...I promise.)

09 August 2008

The "Dating Game"

I am 47.

Some of you may know this - some of you may not. Some of you may also know I am going through what I call a "pre-divorce" situation. It's been for a couple years now. Why I haven't gotten divorced is personal...most of it has to do with the fact I have no family (my mother and father died in 1999) who can help me out monetarily, I haven't been able to get a job in years because I have no college degree and I can't afford to get a college degree in order to get a job which pays more than barely minimum wage...plus once I get divorced, my health insurance, which is provided by my eventually-to-be-ex-husband's Air Force retirement, will stop cold turkey altho I've been married to him for over 20 years. Yes...I am, in their eyes, and the eyes of many others a non-entity. And I count myself fortunate. Many people don't have health care at all - many people can't afford a lot of the stuff I still treat myself to...many people deserve better than what they have to live with.

But, I still think...I too, deserve to be happy. There is nothing wrong with me wanting this.

I've been reading in the paper (online) about the speed-dating thing - X amount of seconds you spend with each person as you flit from table to table trying to fill out a "score" card (yes, that's an obvious double entendre there and meant to be) based on mere moments with a person. It's been around for years, I don't know why Montgomery is making such a big ta-do about it - but perhaps it's new to this region. Whatever the reason...the idea behind it is the same: "People who want a relationship seeking out people in a venue which doesn't seem sordid." It IS a nice way to meet people - it's not while you are drunk at a bar at closing time...it's not in the supermarket where you will, trust me guys...run into THE most attractive person in the world...but only when you don't have a face on and are dressed like a Dickensian orphan. I NEVER run into anyone at ALL when I have a face on. I've not tried church...you see...I'm NOT divorced. I don't think they want me dating...they probably really would have a problem with me remarrying without that whole "divorce technicality" cleared up.

And WHO would want to date me anyway?

First off, I'm married - I have this thing about dating...as, well...I'm still married. I'm married on paper...but definitely NOT in my heart...but that is where it counts...legally. Again...I am a non-entity.

And I am not getting any younger. My youth is way behind me. I am one of those women who can't but look at her life and say "Ya know - I devoted my YOUTH to this person...and for what? It's OVER." Both my marriage AND my youth. I didn't bank on that. And I didn't bank on getting divorced so I didn't funnel away money in some secret bank account...I am sooooooooooo stupid.

But not really. I'm actually very intelligent when it comes to IQ...if I told you what mine was you'd probably not believe me. I read once...that those with "my IQ" usually do one of two things..."excel" and "fail miserably". Well...altho I possibly made some stupid decisions...staying home with my children wasn't one of them, and I feel I am constantly being penalized for that decision. Especially in this juncture in my life.

So, I'd still like the opportunity to "excel".

(And because this is getting quite long...and I'm on a rant here...I'm going to "pull a Scheherezade" on you...and continue this story...tomorrow.)

01 August 2008

Dying To Get To Sleep?

This is something somewhat silly (and hopefully somewhat entertaining) I wrote back in January 2006. What jogged my memory of this long-forgotten piece you may ask? Well, I was reading blogs here (yeah...I sometimes do indeed read other people's blogs...and sometimes I comment on them, too - hint hint) and I came across chernandez's blog about the Stephen King novel, "Insomnia"...and that got me thinking about the little comedy snippet I wrote about his book after I had picked it up at the librar... well, you can read it for yourselves below. As for Ms. Hernandez...and anyone else I don't coerce into reading my blogs: Thanks for reading...AND commenting on them...thank you very, very much.

So, anybody here have trouble sleeping?

I seriously have problems sleeping...which I've had since as far back as I can remember. Tried relaxing, warm milk, cold vodka...NOTHING works. So, I figure I'll go and read a book...you know, you read some...you get tired...you fall asleep. That old wives' tale.

I drive on over to the Wetumpka library because, one...it's close; two...I have a card, and, three (mainly, three)...you can pick up used books there for like a quarter...and I picked up a few, including one massive one by Stephen King called "Insomnia". Well, I'm no genius, but I figure the reason most of these books are for sale for less than a buck is because no one wants to read books with more pages than the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Warren Commission's report on the JFK assassination - COMBINED. But, first and foremost, who's going to want to read some horror book about not sleeping when they're trying to sleep?? Just what the hell was he thinking?? Oh wait...I said "hell". Can I say that here? Well, regardless...that's a whole OTHER story he wrote.

But I've got to hand it to Mr. King...he thinks of an everyday happening and then makes a scary as anything story out of it. The way I see it, he's sitting there in his home at the typewriter...yellowing-at-the-edges disturbingly gruesome crayon drawings his kids drew long ago tacked up behind him on a cork memoboard, going..."Dogs...YES! Really...mean...dog. Really...mean...RABID dog...Cujo! Corn. People like corn, right? How about kids AND corn? Kids IN corn? Hmmm...children OF the corn? Oooh...what else do people like to do? Drive...yeah...Christine...okay...how about talk on their cell phones...I got it! "Cell"!

Okay, so let me get this all straight. I can't want things, can't get on an airplane, can't lose weight, can't have a dog, can't ever bury anything behind my house if anything were to die, can't eat corn or talk on my cell phone...forget about talking on my phone IN the car...and I'll never sleep again IN a hotel...especially IF I read "Insomnia".

What's next? A horror story about a toilet?

Oh, gee...thank you, Mr. King.

14 July 2008

You haven't got a Clue do you?

Because if you do...can you sell it to me, cheap?

Again, you are shaking your collective heads going..."Um what IS she talking about THIS time?" followed by "typo typo...the stupid twit capitalized 'Clue'". Well, if you'd just stop the head shaking long enough for you to read what I wrote, you'd see the motive behind my actions.

I was sitting here at the computer the other day, pretty much minding my own business, when my somewhat deranged hermaphroditic, geeky friend who has a vestigial tail, a third nipple, and a small rudimentary horn slightly off-kilter from the midline of his Cro-Magnon-type brow, IMd me. I told him I WAS going to embellish his "description"...so I did. Well, you know...somewhat. ;)

All kidding aside, he IMs me...that 'Instant Message' thing...and gives me a link to an eBay item he's bidding on, which, most people, including myself would have thrown out long ago without batting an eye. It is a MiltonBradley board game called "
Fireball Island". (All those people with one of those games, please contact me at the address listed in my bio.)

Now, had I the foresight of Nostradamus or a Greek oracle years ago, I would have bought these all on some masstravaganza close-out special at Toys-R-Us - as these babies weren't exactly flying off the shelves. The things I could have done with the proceeds of these: put my kids thru college...put myself thru college...paid the retainer a lawyer wants for a divorce, invested in Viagra stock, etc. - well the possibilities go on and on. And so does the bidding - apparently. It's nothing for a nice, complete, slightly played with...because, get real, no one played with these, that's why they probably stopped making them in 1987...game (it was first manufactured in 1986) - goes for upwards of $250...IF you can find one. Even the pieces are highly sought after. A "non-taped up corner" intact box can even fetch you some massive bucks...because people are out there who are willing to invest a smaller fortune to make a larger fortune by making their less than desirable game...well, more desirable- to the people who want them. And who the heck wants them?

Apparently the same people who are willing to pay the big bucks for 'Clue'.

Which brings me to my original statement - do you have a Clue? Especially the "
Master Detective" version - because I know people who want one...*I* want one. In fact it doesn't take too much investigating to deduce which one individual will be canvassing the thrift shops to get their hands around one of these.

So...I will, heretofore, make another list...and this one's a mental list...regarding "vintage" games...because, like a fine wine, a lot of these only get better with age...and a lot of them are just held on to because they might increase in value. It's all just a roll of the dice - and it's a risk I'll have to take (which, by the way, the 40th Anniversary Edition of "Risk" is going for around $232.00 on

06 July 2008

Top 20 Dumb Guys Ever On A Television Series

I now present my "Top 20 Dumb Guys (and Gals) Ever On Television" list...which also includes women - because we all know women can also be pretty brain dead. But, it's not just a list of stupid guys - or funny guys - it had to be people who "seriously" were dumb...who convinced you they didn't have anything going on "upstairs" - and did it well each time. Not just one line once in a while every 5th episode. And I don't mean "mentally challenged" - I mean those well-meaning dolts who just plain "got in the wrong line when God was handing out brains" kinda people aka airheads extraordinaire.

This was a list, as I predicted, which took some time in the undertaking. I don't do anything - um, half...way...so, I took my time in doing this. I wanted to produce a quality list, and as such, enlisted a few people I hold in high regard to "double-check" and help out in compiling this.

The rules were quite "simple": Only people who have been in a recurring role on a television series...and only then, a television series which occurred more than a short-lived time. You had to be memorable in your character - and if you had "staying power" - all the better. Some people were tossed from the original list - for one reason or another. It was difficult. I also included "pairs or triplets" as "one person" - as if they were synonymous with being "grouped" - that's the way I remembered them. People who were in a "variety" show were not considered altho they contributed greatly to the "dim-witted" comedy arena. So, our hats go off to the likes of Harvey Korman, Tim Conway and Dennis Day. And feel free to let me know who I/we forgot -- we're only human, and as such, am sure are remiss in "immortalizing" everyone. A massive "thank you" to the others who were involved comparing notes, giving me names, helping to formulate where they should go and which should come off the list. It made a much more rounded list and one I do feel proud to present. We did a lot of homework and had a few days of conversations regarding all this. So, I'd like to thank Mark, my other friend, Mark, David, my kids, Ron, and mostly Phil who had to listen to me on the phone non-stop about this for the past few days.

Unfortunately, some great cartoon dumb guys couldn't, for the obvious reason, make the list...but that doesn't stop me from recognizing them:

Beavis and Butthead - Mike Judge in the cartoon of the same name: Cartoons, yes...but I went to school with these people...well, not THEM...but they nailed "dumb high school guy" antics...right on the head. But, they aren't "real people" so I took them "off the list"...altho I did indeed love these guys.

Phillip J. Fry - Billy West of "Futurama": Again "just a cartoon". How this show never attained the notoriety of "The Simpsons" I'll never know...but Fry has got to be THE most lovable dumb guy I was ever drawn to. Get it? "Drawn" to? Oh...forget it.

Here are some runners-up:

The Three Stooges: Another guy thing...and many guys don't like them, by the way...but since I am a stickler for "falling into the category" - they didn't, per se, have a bona fide television series, so they were not able to be on this list - so don't complain. Sgt Schultz - John Banner from "Hogan's Heroes", Christina Applegate as Kelly Bundy on "Married With Children" , Randy Hickey - Ethan Suplee on "My Name is Earl", Maxwell Smart's Don Adams on "Get Smart", and Major Healey - Bill Daily from "I Dream of Jeannie" are some of the people who came awfully close to insertion into the list. And, as a side note, I must admit Anthony "Tony" Nelson -Larry Hagman - from "I Dream of Jeannie" was pretty darned daft when it came to telling a sexy buxom blonde genie to "Just get back in the bottle, Jeannie" when she'd ask, "What do you want me to do for you, Master?" And the two Darrin Stevens (Dick York and Dick Sargent) , from "Bewitched", forbade his hot witchy wife to use magic...ever...anywhere. Both of these guys had issues and were just plain numskulls...so that doesn't exactly qualify here.

So, here we go...and putting them in order was obviously a hard task...but they are listed from 20th to 1st, Letterman "Top Ten" style - with my comments, justifications and rationales:

20. Edith Bunker - Jean Stapleton from "All In The Family": The loveable dingbat wife and Mom with a heart of gold. Who else woulda put up with Archie all those years? Altho, it is debatable whether she was really "dumb"...as she was quite smart a lot of the times...she just didn't let on to Archie the majority of those times.

19. Georgette and Ted Baxter - Georgia Engel and Ted Knight on "Mary Tyler Moore" - Blissfully "dumb as a stump" couple.

18. Latka Gravis - Andy Kaufman in "Taxi": Sure he [somewhat] knew two languages...but he was clueless in both of them.

17. Larry Finkelstein - Alan Rachins - Dharma and Greg: As the radical hippie father of Dharma, Larry Finkelstein is still crazed after all these years...who woulda thought (in real life) he is a member of Mensa.

16. Rose Nylund - Betty White in "The Golden Girls": Pitted against an outspoken woman and her live-in mother (who grew up in the old country), and a southern belle whose libido has been steadily rising since the burning of Atlanta in "Gone With the Wind"...Betty White struggles to maintain her own battle of wits and isn't usually winning in this ageless sitcom.

15. Woody Boyd - Woody Harrelson in "Cheers": Replacing a beloved character on a hit series isn't easy...Harrelson managed to do just that without making the show skip a beat. He instantly fit right in...unfortunately they didn't have the same such luck with Kirstie Alley.

14. Larry and Darryl and Darryl - William Sanderson, Tony Papenfuss and John Voldstad on "Newhart": What's funnier than two dumb guys? Three dumb guys with two names.

13. Lenny and Squiggy - Leonard "Lenny" Kosnowski and Andrew "Squiggy" Squiggmann - Michael McKean and David L. Lander on "Laverne and Shirley": A classic dumb guy team...they are only as dumb as the sum of their selves...and even they could never count that high. Ironically, they played two guys just wanting to "get it"...who just never got it.

12. Ernie "Coach" Pantusso in "Cheers": The bar where "everybody knows your name" also knew the ingredients for a great show...one of which was casting Nicholas Colasanto as a devoted loveable ex-minor league baseball coach who made bumbling and forgetful a home run each and every time.

11. Vinnie Barbarino - John Travolta in "Welcome Back, Kotter": "What? Where?" Sure the other Sweathogs were stupid, too...but Travolta stood out from the rest of the class...which he proved later on in his career...if you don't count "Battlefield Earth" that is. Hey, c'mon...you do the math...Vinnie never could.

10. Chrissy Snow - Suzanne Somers in "Three's Company": Chrissy's character was the typical dumb blonde. And while she didn't necessarily pull it off like Marilyn Monroe or the great portrayal of "Billie Dawn" by Judy Holliday in "Born Yesterday"...Sommers did manage to hold her own on the smaller stage - and is still emulated.

9. Jethro Bodine - Max Baer, Jr. in "The Beverly Hillbillies": Gave a whole new meaning to "simple country boy".

8. Joey Tribbiani - Matt LaBlanc from "Friends": Someone has to be the "doesn't get it" friend, right? A combination of good looks and a total lack of brains never stopped Joey from trying to convince everyone else he did indeed get it. Case in point...this exceedingly witty "moot point" example...rationalized as only Joey could: "Yeah, it's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo."

7. Les Nessman - Richard Sanders in "WKRP in Cincinatti": As a clueless newscaster at a faltering radio station..."Les Nessman" was definitely the antithesis of the likes of Walter Cronkite...or the consummate professionalism exhibited by Herbert Morrison, his quavering voice uttering the memorable words "Oh the humanity" during the tragic Hindenberg disaster...but Sanders' same words about turkeys plummeting to their deaths during a store promotion...well...it's still a classic.

6. Danny Dallas - Ted Wass from "Soap": Let's see...how dumb was Danny? Well, on one such occasion he WAS dumb enough to fall in love and marry the Mob guy's daughter after they took a hit out on Burt, Danny's father. Oh, yes...did we mention who "the Mob" wanted to kill Burt? Why, of course, Danny himself. Yes, boys and girls, this was years before "The Soapranos" Oh wait...that's "Sopranos".

5. Harry Solomon - French Stewart in "3rd Rock From the Sun": I don't know about you - but if Earth ever gets invaded by aliens...I want them all to be as hilariously devoid of brain-matter as French Stewart's "Harry" was. His character's "less than intelligent" life-form portrayal is needed more than ever in today's day and age of obviously "superiorly less than intelligent" reality television programming.

4. Ed Norton - Art Carney on "The Honeymooners": The original dumb guy friend who definitely set the bar for all future dumb guys to walk right into.

3. Jessica Tate - Katherine Helmond from "Soap": With a stellar cast and some of the best writing EVER in a series, poor rich Jessica seemed to be right with us...not having a clue what was going to happen from episode to episode.

2. Reverend Jim Ignatowski - Christopher Lloyd from "Taxi": Would have made #1 - but in all fairness, his stupidity was drug-induced...uuuh...okie doke?

1. Lowell Mather - Thomas Haden Church from "Wings": Funny without realizing it? Check. Loveable? Check. Deadpan delivery of lines that would make anyone crack up? Check. And the consensus is unanimous on this one...no one did a better job of playing dumb on television. I liken him to the Jimmy Stewart of dumb guys...Church made it all seem so easy and effortless...it looked so natural...it was not over the top or contrived. Thomas Haden Church's acting remains grounded as he soars above the others to nab #1 Dumb Guy.