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".

05 December 2010

Bulging at the Seams With That "Can-Do" Christmas Spirit

'Tis the season of giving...where we open our hearts to share our good fortune...and our cupboards to share our bounty...with those less fortunate than ourselves...

...or so the old heartfelt sentiments they've instilled in us would have you believe.

Okay...back to that thought in a minute...I just wanted to say I was in a slump the last month and didn't write a blog. One could say I was tired of making the rounds to countless doctors' offices and, coupled with reading endless dismal news items centering on people killing children...or more precisely, their own children (or in their blood-line somehow) - like the one yesterday about a grandmother nonchalantly tossing their grandchild off the third floor Fairfax County, Virginia, mall's balcony to her death...well, I was figuring life itself doesn't hold enough jubilation for me to write about...lately.

That was...until today.

Today I went to yet another doctor's office and spied a ginormous sparkly wrapping-papered box sitting next to the television cabinet in the waiting room.

I, of course, went to peer inside as I am the curious sort.

Inside were a few cans. Oh, isn't that nice - a box set out for people to give to others who can't afford their deductible or health insurance to start with. Nice sentiment and all, right?

Guess again.

Out of the (maybe) nine cans inside...seven were dented. And not dented a little. Not like the ones that used to be in the mark-down aisle in any supermarket when I was a kid -- the ones we'd routinely consume because the difference between 35 cents and 29 cents was a large enough amount of money to risk your family's health because you were too strapped for cash to pony out the extra six cents. We're talking majorly mangled...bordering on seepage and explosion upon contact. I didn't look closely enough to see if the expiration dates were from the 1990's. Something held me back in the hope that human kindness wouldn't allow such a thing.

But then again...human "kindness" decided to go foraging for cans of stuff they bought ages ago (think "ghost of Christmases past" impulse buys like decadent French chestnuts or Dickensian English plum pudding)...or accidentally dropped from off the top shelf whilst looking for more "normal" things to eat. Then think of someone actually starting up their $48,000+ automobile and driving all the way to the doctor's office to gingerly insert them in a bedazzled box destined for people less fortunate than themselves to consume. Keep in mind these are the very same people who wouldn't think twice about tossing out a can of Fancy Feast cat food if it had so much as a friggen ripped label.

So, it's okay to give sub-par food to someone you don't have any ties to...it's okay...because, as they say: "It's the thought that counts."


(Written "the other day"...but not posted until today.)

18 October 2010

Becoming Unglued

"Mrs. Clayton, Jimmy's eating paste!" Little Suzy's tattletale shrieks broke the relative giddiness of the room and the whole class turned to see for themselves.

There he was...the telltale sign of paste hanging on the corners of his mouth like dingleberries...well, hanging on a whole other orifice; his mouth clamped tighter than that other sphincter, but smelling remarkably better.

"Let me see, James. Open your mouth." Mrs. Clayton's direct order and stern gaze (peering out from behind her black cat-eye glasses which were perched precariously on her hawk-like nose) had absolutely no effect on the kid. He wouldn't, or maybe he couldn't...but he shook his head forcefully back and forth and then a couple gulps later...he'd open wide for all to see. The evidence cleverly swallowed...his fat pink tongue wagging back and forth like an innocent puppy dog's tail. He was triumphant and, like that puppy, clearly oblivious to any wrong-doing.

With the "whiff test" administered directly after, Mrs. Clayton could do no more than to confiscate our group's paste container and we'd have to make do with passing around the industrial-sized Elmer's Glue which always needed Herculean strength to squeeze out a hair's diameter of the stuff on your paper. Even with shoving both a pin and a nail in the top part (over and over again)...the best you could hope for was an inconsistent dotted-line of semi-clotted goop to plop out and sore muscles the next day.

Now paste always had that nice minty aroma to it when I was a kid...I'm not sure if it still does nowadays...but back then it did. Perhaps that's why the paste-eaters of my era treasured it so. And you can rest assured there was always one kid in class who was an elitist gourmand when it came to all things sticky.

Elmer's Glue, although much more fun to play with (when it finally did come out) didn't have the culinary draw that nice white paste had. And don't forget, paste did have that popsickle-like stick inside the cap with which to poke and probe your way to the parts that didn't have any construction or crepe paper bits intermingled with it. Pure, unadulterated paste. Left alone with a tub of the stuff and the likes of Suzy being absent that day...Jimmy could get his fill uninterrupted. Sure, we'd laugh and point...but you have to keep in mind paste wasn't the only thing this kid was "into".

Jimmy had the unfortunate luck to be born a "Barger"..."James Barger" to be precise. Naturally, Jimmy also had reddish hair...all the more to stand out and be different from the other kids - but other than his propensity for paste...Jimmy had another proclivity: Jimmy liked to pick his nose and eat the contents therein.

In the well-oiled machinery of the mind of a five or six-year-old, it doesn't take too much gear-turning to alter "Barger" to "Booger"...and well, the name stuck. Stuck better than a nose-mining paste-oholic on a sub-zero playground in December. If you've never witnessed the sheer amount of "stuff" a nose can leak out of it in the winter in Jersey during recess...well, you haven't truly lived. Usually this is what mittens and coat sleeves were for...but little Jimmy "Booger" would be off by himself with the unbridled passion of a deer with a salt-lick. The kid was an unstoppable, unwavering gross-out spectacle. I'm not sure which he enjoyed more...the taste of paste and snot or the constant attention of his classmates pointing at him and egging him on to eat more paste and snot.

As he went through the elementary grades, Jimmy "Booger" Barger went through his fair share of paste. Paste becoming more and more a rarity with each passing year, Jimmy was eventually weaned off his habit, at least as far as we knew.

The nickname was still in use the year I moved when I was eleven, and while I was never there to know for certain, I'm pretty much inclined to believe it stuck until graduation day...when he could finally venture forth on a new life outside of the Hamilton Township School System.

Memories of youth undoubtedly fade...although some things do seem to cement themselves in our minds. It's silly what we retain in our heads years down the road - and how the simplest things can trigger those memories. You see, lately I've been wondering about poor old James...and whatever became of him -- because there's a boy in my daughter's school who looks strikingly similar.

Oh, I'm not going to blurt out any questions regarding paste ingestion to him...but...I might be inclined to get close enough to catch a whiff of his breath. You know, just for old-time curiosity's sake.

And, if it's minty fresh, eh...perhaps then I'll ask.

15 October 2010

A Great Photo Op...or a Photo Oops?

Just how much does it cost for a night on the town?

Well, not just any night on the town...a hypothetical night on the town as seen through the eyes of someone (me) who doesn't typically see things the way others do...but perhaps a few of you out there have been wondering the same as me. It IS, after all, inevitable.

A little set-up of sorts first:

1. I am old.

2. I love Monty Python.

3. I tend to think outside the box, i.e., not "normally".

4. I'm cynical and sarcastic and sometimes, with the right combination of legal substances, I also am given to flights of fancy that (at least to myself) I am somewhat witty.

Now the gist of what this is about:

Take anyone who reads the online version of their local community paper and give them...oh...a half hour or so...just perusing the site and reading things and looking around. You know -- the normal things.

Normally, this "normal" person will read a few articles, perhaps comment on a few things, perhaps agree with some content and disagree with one thing or another.

But not me.

I've been waiting and waiting for the inevitable. Some might say "Waiting for the other shoe to drop." Others might prefer "Waiting for the $#!^a to hit the fan." Me? Eh...I'm an observer. I'm just waiting around for the lawsuits.

Included in the Gannett online sites are photos of people taken around town...usually at night, and usually these people are in direct proximity to alcoholic beverages.

It has been my experience that alcohol, in small quantities, gives one a slight euphoric feeling; pleasant and a tad giddy. Alcohol in moderate quantities gives you a "devil may care" type of attitude. It's not quite cockiness but it's past the part where some innocent inhibitions start rearing their ugly heads. This is usually where ideas of "singing Karaoke" and shouting "I love you, man!" to everyone at the bar become a really good idea.

Then there is alcohol in more than moderate quantities...but before you get to the spinning, vomiting, and passing out part. Therein lies the "I am immortal" stage. Nothing can hurt you - you are immune. You don't care what you do and what others do and what others see you do.

Enter someone with a camera or cell phone.

And enter you...or more importantly, you with someone who just might not be who you've been routinely photographed with at family gatherings. Someone who you just might not want to bring over to meet Mom. And certainly not someone you'd like to introduce to your Mother-in-law.

Get what I'm saying yet?
For those of you out there who like to be forewarned...there's a naked butt in this video. Twice, I think.

The Monty Python "Blackmail" skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDAFrW_vNNQ

"Aha! Right?" Now you see what my little brain thinks when given things to think about...like how expensive a night on the town might actually be for some people.

Again, for those of you out there who like to be forewarned...ANYONE with a Gannett account can post those photos of you at the local hotspot...possibly getting all hot and heavy with someone you just might not want...in the picture...at all.

Suddenly your local community has gotten a whole lot smaller and much more intimate.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Oh...and smile! You'll look good in the online paper...and in that stack of papers your spouse's attorney has in court.

10 October 2010

Champagne Wishes and Caveat Dreams

Did I ever mention I love alcohol?

Seriously...I love this stuff. I'm tiny and as they would say back in Jersey "I'm a cheap date".

While this brings up connotations of things most untoward, I'm not even going there. I'm a little person and my alcohol tolerance, i.e., "buzz level", doesn't take much alcohol for it to kick in.

Let me be perfectly frank here...I'm not an alcoholic, a lush, or a drunkard. I don't need to be interventioned and I don't need the number to AA.

I am a responsible drinker.

That might sound like a lesson in contradiction, but I am.

I never drive after I drink and I've never have fallen face-down in front of my kids and I don't "worship the porcelain god".

I have what people back in the 1960s would refer to as "The Bewitched Syndrome". (Okay, maybe only I would refer to it as that as I'm the one who coined the phrase.)

Do you not have a clue?

Let me help you out.

Did you ever watch the television show, "Bewitched"?

Darrin always had a Martini waiting for him when he got home. Sure, Samantha and Endora might have been bar-hopping on Saturn (they liked to say "Saturn" a lot back then - I was too little to know if it was an in-joke...and I'm too old now to care) with Dr. Bombay, but by the time the "going home whistle" blew at the advertising firm of McMann & Tate - Samantha was back on Earth being the dutiful wife...and Darrin was on his way home to wet his own whistle.

Honestly, I don't think there was an episode which didn't extol the virtues of alcohol. It's a wonder anyone growing up the 60s didn't have a monkey of sorts on their back...and I'm not counting any shows where Endora actually put one ON Darrin's back. Oh, c'mon the plot was always the same: Darrin does something to piss off Endora - Endora, in turn, casts a spell on Darrin, Darrin learns a lesson, Larry and Louise come over and down copious amounts of alcohol...something "witchy" happens and Samantha always weaves her way out of it.

This was way before Christine O'Donnell came on the political scene. Plus Samantha always tried NOT to be a witch...which was always central to the plot line...and everyone knows when Samantha twitched her nose... there was nothing really political going on. Unless, of course, you count the warlock council and that coven of witches...who weren't so much coveting votes as they were just trying to have a little fun messing with mortals.

Enter again - alcohol.

Every single one of them drank like a fish. The only one I never saw drink was their nosy neighbour, Gladys. She was probably too busy taking psychotropic drugs I guess. She always saw things and no one ever believed her. She was the poster child for Xanax if there ever was one, poor lady. And then there was Mrs. Stephens (Darrin's mother), who always had a "sick headache" -- not to be confused with a "regular one", because long before WebMD was invented she was the most neurotic person on television until Howie Mandel came along.

But, I digress.

As W.C Fields (who drank a lot) always said, "All things being equal I'd rather be in Philadelphia."

And, as Jimmy Stewart said to Cary Grant in "The Philadelphia Story" (and did I mention I grew up in Jersey -- and Jersey was very close in proximity to Philadelphia)..."Champagne is a great leveleler... leveleler. It makes you my equal." If you've never seen the movie - do so...it's better than the sum total of Bewitched episodes...and has its share of other champagne moments that anyone inside and outside of Bryn Mawr can relate to.

And, boy oh boy, can I relate to alcohol -- and if I would have been around during Prohibition - I would have shed my inhibitions to imbibe the 'nectar of the gods'. Did I mention I was a "cheap date"?

Oh well.

God knows I need a drink just to follow what I just wrote.

So, Cheers! Which, by the way, was a much, much, much better show than anything on the air today. Plus, ironically, it centered around alcohol.

Did I happen to mention I love alcohol?

09 October 2010

My Wonky Thyroid and Me

(Arrows indicating approximate location of my wonky thyroid.)

Okay, usually I don't write about "me". Sure, I write about things that happen to me...but usually I hope I do it where someone can go "Oh...yeah...that's happened to ME, too!" and they relate and a fairly good time is [hopefully] had by all.

Well, today is different.

Many of you out there know I have a comedy website I haven't updated in an eon plus two. Many of you out there also know that I am in an extended "pre-divorce" situation and as such I am severely depressed as I don't have: 1) Money; 2) A job; 3) Any relative I could call up and get support from; 4) My "Mummo" (what I called my mother) anymore; and 4) No health insurance as soon as I eventually get divorced. Oh...and did I mention health issues?

I usually tend to keep those to myself and my two or three chosen friends who have to endure endless crying episodes of me on the telephone and my venting and droning on and on and on about how pathetic I am and surely I am indeed a waste of skin. I'm not even a waste of "good" skin as my skin looks pretty thin and old by now and I have a sneaky suspicious feeling that I know why:

My wonky thyroid.

I tried to discount it. I tried to reason it all out. I tried to think of other reasons I have that would make my thyroid a secondary accomplice to all the perpetrators I have in my body which feel like they've gone and burglarized, ransacked and kidnapped whoever used to be IN my body. I am left with this horrible shell of who I used to be - and I don't like the "Folger's Coffee replacement" they left in my stead.

In a few words...I don't LIKE who I've become.

I have absolutely no motivation to do anything.

My hair is really thin and it looks pathetic - it's always been thin but it's even more thin and sparse, too.

I'm losing weight at an alarming rate. I'm not a big person and if I were I'm sure I'd be ecstatic about this part, but when you weigh about 120 to start with and are now at about 108 and NOTHING seems to fit...well, it's probably as bad as having a different weight issue.

I get mad at the drop of a hat. I overreact and I throw little temper tantrums...usually directed at my two kids and I hate myself for doing it.

I'm disoriented and forget things a lot. My brain's not working and of all the things I liked about myself (which weren't many), my brain was at the top of the list. Now it doesn't work. My brain doesn't work. I am crying as I type this...do you know what it's like to have your brain NOT WORK?? I don't remember things like I used to...and you take that and couple it with my neurotic tendencies (which I didn't used to have) well, my "brain case scenarios" are dire at best. I automatically think I have brain cancer, encephalitis, meningitis, brain herpes, a cerebral spinal fluid leak, dementia, Alzheimer's, specific cancers such as "tumor on my olfactory nerve", epilepsy, seizures, and just plain everyday stress-related brain issues in general.

Migraines. I've been having one a lot, especially since I got hit upside my head on the 28th of September after leaning to get out of the "blood chair". The swing arm of it wasn't all the way back and came back down and knocked me upside my head really jarring my neck and making me think I was now going to have an aneurysm in my brain. Did I mention I was on blood thinners? My little brain would bleed at the drop of a hat - and certainly at the drop of the stupid swing arm of the "blood chair". (A CT scan at the ER last week was fine. Yes, I went there as I had the most severe headache I'd ever had.)

Anxiety. I have a whole plethora of things I am anxious about. Basically dealing with my health...and being old...and having no health insurance eventually...and having no job...and wait...I told you all those things already. When your heart skips beats or goes willy-nilly-silly for a bit...and you have been diagnosed with a few things wrong with your heart - like atrial fibrillations...well, you get anxious a lot when it happens.

I'm falling asleep for no real reason other than I've been diagnosed with Sleep Apnea recently and because I didn't do my sleep study at the converted house in Wetumpka which reeked of mold and new paint...my study has apparently been put on hold. This in itself makes me even more anxious as apparently you can have all kinds of heart problems and things like strokes when you have Sleep Apnea. I never was able to go to sleep before and have had to take Ambien just to shut my brain off...so falling asleep at 9:00 p.m. vs 9:00 a.m. (like usual) is really scary.

Energy. I have none. I don't even have enough energy to type up why. Trust me...there's no energy in this body. I am the antithesis of the Energizer Bunny. I am more the Lack-of-Energy Sloth.

But the coup de gras is my wonky thyroid. My thyroidologist (yes, I made that word up) wants to obliterate my thyroid ("...like the first Mrs. Bush" he kept saying) by radioactive iodine. The otolaryngologist (no, that word I didn't make up) whom I saw in Birmingham back in February said my thyroid was "okie dokie" (perhaps not using those specific words) and didn't see any need to have it surgically removed. Then I had six fine needle aspiration biopsies there at the Kirklin Clinic and they sent me on my merry way. So, while I was sent on my merry way...I wasn't exactly merry. And I've been getting less and less merry ever since.

I feel like crap. Pure utter crap.

So...the reason behind my blog here other than releasing pent up hormones of frustration (which is probably yet another sign my thyroid is wonky)...has anyone out there been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism and dealt with it in some way? I know I can go online and read all the thyroid posts and whatnot - but it would be nicer if someone I remotely knew (even tho I don't know any of you, really) had some first-hand knowledge of it they'd like to share with me. Sharing with me via the phone...even better. Seriously, I'm getting very desperate here...I honestly would like to talk about hyperthyroidism experiences (of which there are many more than I listed here).

I really don't want to suck down some radioactive iodine...but it's looking better and better every single damn day. Especially if I can follow it with a Martini chaser.

Oh, for the days Reader's Digest would publish their "I am Joe's Spleen"...as I would rather read that (only you know..."I am Joe's Thyroid") than the wide range of scary things that come up when I type "hyperthyroidism" into that "outlined in black box" thingy known generically as the Google Search Engine.

Anyone? Please...please...please...

08 October 2010

Shakespeare, Dickens and Me?

I hit a milestone of sorts the other day: I posted my 250th blog.

Now, that might not seem that monumental in the grander schemes of accomplishments mankind has made, but my blogs aren't all about my cat, or what I made for dinner last night, and none of them ever just had the "I feel :( today" comment.

Oh, trust me on that last one, there are people out there who do only that as a blog. What's worse -- there are people out there who "FOLLOW" those people's blogs.

Since I've written about so many different things...I wonder if there's a point where I have done -- or at least touched on, everything that's out there.

This recurring thought of mine has crept into my mind many times. And it's got to have come into the minds of people who are songwriters or writers of books.

Stay with me here on this one...

Beethoven had it easy.

So did Shakespeare.

The writers for "I Love Lucy"? Sheesh...all those episodes were a walk in the park compared to what today's writers have to deal with.

Back in the "olden days" - there were like, what? Five people writing songs? ANY tune you came up with was new. NOTHING sounded like anything else because 30 songs, tops, were written. How easy did those music "geniuses" have it? ANYTHING they wrote was new and innovative.

Seriously, is there any tune left that doesn't sound remotely like something else someone came out with? You might not even know the sound sounds the same - and you might not have even heard of it...totally innocent and all...but it sounds like some obscure polka ska band from Lichtenstein - and all of a sudden someone points it out via YouTube. You are now "BUSTED". Katy Perry move over.

And writers back then. Sure, there were people writing back then - but there were only like seven famous ones. Coming up with any book idea must have been - well, a writer's dream. I know for a fact, if I would have been an author in 1884, I would have been on several dreaded Victorian "summer reading lists" in schools.

"Please, sir, can I read some more?"

While I can bask in the heady thought that I probably would have been famous back then...I'd also certainly be dead by now...so it's pretty much a moot point and does me absolutely no good pondering the prodigiousness of my proposed pious past.


So while people like Stephen King gobble up the last remaining 17 ideas which haven't been done yet...and you are on page 221 of some 93rd remake of some re-vamped vampire book from some 24-year-old author who undoubtedly has a relative working at HarperCollins, remember that I'm continually slaving away trying to think of original blogs to entertain you people.

And all for free...dammit.


(Okay, I hit my 250th blog about 16 blogs ago...I'm just late getting around to writing this. I also never claimed I was good at alliteration.)

15 September 2010

Time Travel and the Grandfather Paradox aka My Theory of Non-Relativity

I do not claim to be the greatest thinker of all time. I also do not profess to be in the top one million. When I think lately it's more or less about how my headache is never "just a headache"...it has to be brain cancer...and that not finding the mouth ulcer thingy on my tongue this time (even with a lighted magnifying mirror and a long-handed teaspoon in one hand and a Q-tip in the other) is highly indicative of me having tongue/mouth/throat cancer (thank you - neurotic tendencies). The fact that I've been abstaining from all alcohol for absolutely no reason whatsoever this past week...is again, in my clinical opinion...probably directly related to my tongue/mouth/throat cancer.

So when I thought the other day of a thought I've frequently thought, as I talked to someone whose name I can't even remember...on the phone - for hours and hours (Jimmy Stewart's filibuster scene in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is nothing compared to my ability to talk endlessly)...I decided I would type this out to get it out of my system.

Time travel as we know it has been the thing many movies have been built on. And I always find fault with them all - basically because I'm anal like that and I like to compare notes after the film is over with other anal people who, likewise, feel compelled to share their insight via the Internet Movie Database (IMDb).

We all know "Back to the Future", "The Time Machine" (don't bother watching the remake I didn't even know was remade until I watched it the other day), "Terminator" (and the four or seven sequels), "The Time Traveler's Wife" (horrid, simply horrid), and so on and so on...with "Twelve Monkeys" probably being the best in my opinion along with "12:01 PM.", a short film which is absolutely brilliant...but not true "time traveling of your own free will"...but I thought I'd mention it as it really is great. And then there's "Doctor Who"...who could forget him?

But I'm rambling...kinda like I do on the telephone...

Basically, when I'm not talking on the telephone, I sit and I watch television - mainly old films, very old films...or documentaries.

Some of these documentaries are about time travel...and I tend to uber-analyze them as much as I do the films of the same "genre".

Typically, if you've seen any of these shows...they are way over the average person's head, yet they get the guy with the PhD in Astro-Biological-Time-Quantum Physics to explain to us "little people" about theories we've gullibly bought in above said movies. To do this they resort to convoluted things like bending pieces of paper (marked "A" and "B") over and there's usually a ball and a trampoline employed somehow (think MacGyver as the prop man) and always a flashlight.

Well, one of these theories in time travel is the "Grandfather Paradox". In a nutshell, if you aren't familiar, it's where you theoretically can't go back in time and kill your own grandfather as you wouldn't be able to go back in time as you weren't born if you killed him. It's loads of fun to think about...especially if you've drank enough alcohol to get loaded or taken an Ambien...but never at the same time.

So, people with IQs in the tens of the power of 2 or 20 (or some other such mathematical rot) have concluded their own conclusions and summarily tossed time traveling back to commit such an act -- as impossible. Some have further theorized you can't go back in time prior to the invention of the time machine...as you'd have to wait X years after the invention and then can only go back in time as far as the invention was invented.

Eh...whatever. If I'm going to invent a time machine...it darn well better go back to point one and go in the future and sideways and longways and all the ways that Willy Wonka glass elevator can go.

Now, I've paid as much attention to these programs as one can (given the circumstances)...and they never bring up MY theory:

(clears throat) This theory, which belongs to me, is as follows... (more throat clearing) This is how it goes... (clears throat) The next thing that I am about to say is my theory. (clears throat) Ready? (Oh, lookie there...I time traveled back to Monty Python days.)

Seriously, here it is:

Okay, but first...you know that question which anyone with a child answers the same? The "If you could go back in time and change one thing in your life...would you?" And they get all "George Bailey" on you and say, "Well, I wouldn't because that would mean my child/children wouldn't have been born."

Well, I claim bull crap on that generic answer...which happens to be my theory.

IF you could go back in time...how do you know you wouldn't have the same children? Sure, you can speculate they'd be different...but you wouldn't really know it as you wouldn't know any differently as you don't have a time machine. Perhaps they were destined to be born anyway...and they aren't so much a strand of DNA as they are some cosmic entity that is yours alone...and no matter how many years or dimensions you could possibly travel through...they'd still end up getting here.

So, in principle, you could go back and kill your own grandfather as he wouldn't necessarily have to be related to you.

Or...something like that.

Hey, I'm still working on it...sheesh!

It's a theory in the making...and if Hollywood can get away with a few liberties, well, so can I, right?

(A side note: I am neurotic and always think the worst...I can't tell you how many times over the years it was brain cancer or throat cancer...so I meant absolutely no offense to Michael Douglas...and would never ever joke about something like that. Michael Douglas is doing the brave and right thing to tell people about his throat and mouth cancer...and because of his celebrity...many people will listen...and be saved by early intervention due to what he's been sharing. I applaud him and I hope he wins his battle.)

10 September 2010

Who Says Women Are Inferior?

So, the other day I was rambling on about going to the library when I went off on a tangent and talked about my girlhood days of summer ending instead. This is the bit which was the blog that wasn't...until now.

"The world's greatest cooks are men."

"While there are many women cooks who can prepare a fairly presentable bouillabaisse the dish reaches the heights only in the hands of a man."

"After suffering steam-table tastelessness or misplaced house-wifely economy, any palate will perk up at the taste of fresh fish, properly prepared -- by a man. (Women don't seem to understand fish -- and, we suppose, vice versa.)"

"Game can be cooked in a spick-and-span tiled kitchen, of course, and even exceptionally by some women (who usually are good shots as well); but a log cabin or an open grill is the logical place -- and a man's the proper cook."

Aside from those being "fighting words" for Julia Child, female chefs, and women in general -- these quotes, and countless others along the same line, can be found in a book which I found and bought at the library over the summer. Most libraries, by the way, earn a little extra income taking in donated books (or ridding their shelves of old or outdated ones) and selling them for less than the average late fee. I love going into libraries for nothing else but this...so, when my daughter had to read three books off a designated reading list during the summer, I hit the "selling alcove" to scour their designated "throw-aways".

I have, if you are not aware, a fondness, nay, a love of cooking, and as such own quite a growing, towering mass of these cookbooks and magazines. So, it wasn't much of a surprise when I ran across a pristine 1949 copy of "Esquire's Handbook for Hosts", I ripped it off the shelf as madly as those women you see parodied in movies battling it out over the "to die for" on sale sweater at the end of season sale at Neiman's.

I opened it up and delighted to see it probably had never been opened up once in its very long shelf life. Well, things were about to change...so I grabbed some change, plunked it down, and proud as a peacock (remember men, that's "peacock" not "peahen" as those are SOOOOOOOOO terribly inferior to the male of the species), exited the library with it, my daughter, and a few more books I bought, in tow.

But it wasn't until I got home and perused this uber-snob delight, because, seriously, that IS what this book is: A guidebook for the "well-appointed, well-to-do, well-dressed, and well-inherited" self-made bachelor. It's also a play-by-play guide for any self-respecting man's man who uses words like "buttle" and "canapes".

Hoity-toity men of the late 1940s apparently also had a profound affectation to banter about the word "Esky" when referring to Esquire Magazine. "Esky" undoubtedly felt the need to ram that fact along with some food and drink recipes peppered with assorted other host-related milieu of the impeccably refined...down my throat...and down my throat often.

While I found that little tidbit [I'll never use] out, I also found out this is a genuine time-traveling trip into the "very condescending to women" male-dominant society of...well, mid-1900s high-society. In a word, this is not something you are going to run across every day...nowadays.

Call me an anti-libber, but I thoroughly enjoyed the "James Bondishness" this book had. You know...the circa 1960s Bond, where women were just eye-candy ready to be unwrapped and then tossed aside like the cellophane wrapper you'd have to peel off packs of unfiltered Camels (you know, back when you could smoke in pleasant company without getting arrested) before you tapped the pack and plucked one out.

Yes, this book has everything for the dapper misogynist: Nude cartoons of women (yeah, it's a wonder it was allowed to be sold IN Alabama -- yes, I will never let this state live that 'wine label fiasco' down), hints and tips on how to get a woman...and which woman to choose who won't embarrass your family or bring you down a few notches in the social standings, and how women, themselves, know if they are indeed attractive to a man...or just a homely bore.

Seriously, it does. All that and much, much more!

So, when you are in need of knowing the proper way to shut up a tipsy vulgarian (lure him to a back bedroom and give him a "potent stiff one" to ensure he is rendered totally unconscious), what cures a morning hangover (absolutely NOTHING), or how to cook snipe...you'll find those -- plus a hefty dollop of brain teasers to impress even the most discerning of your Yale compatriots -- in this book.

And, as the writers of this prestigious bit of persnickety pomp would say, "Get out your gourmet viands and let the gay times commence!"

"My, my...how times HAVE changed, haven't they, Jeeves?"


Now where the devil could he have run off to? I tell you...good help is sooooooooooo hard to come by these days.

05 September 2010

What I Dread Most About Summer Ending

(My fourth grade report card. In case you are wondering what my teacher, Mrs. Zoltanski [who had to be 105 if she was a day], wrote -- see bottom of blog.)

A couple months ago I went to the library here in town because my daughter needed to do some book reports to fulfill her summer reading requirement. Personally, I always thought the summer reading list was inherently the same as "homework during the summer" and, had I been given that chore during my vacations growing up instead of the obligatory "What I Did During Summer Vacation" thematic report, I would have been an even more bitter person than I am now. Or at least a different one.

For some people, who took vacations, the "What I Did During Summer Vacation" paper probably was a nice little way for little Jimmy or Becky to show off how much money their families had. "We went to Disneyworld in our brand new car that daddy bought with his summer vacation bonus at the law firm."

Oh, well, I had to be more inventive than that because we never went anywhere and back when my father was a welder, they made pretty much minimum wage...hence the "never went anywhere" comment prior.

This is where I am 99.8 percent certain teachers only doled out this busy work for us the first day of school so that they could recover from their alcohol induced "last-day-of-my-sanity" hurrahs. Undoubtedly, years and years ago some brilliant teacher, who probably had a massive hangover, invented this task as a subterfuge while he took refuge napping at...or under...his desk for a good 40 minutes.

I am also convinced teachers don't read this drivel because, Number 1...who wants to read about some kid whose father just bought a brand new Mercedes when your 1972 Nova with the passenger door's window trashbagged over...is sitting out in your designated teacher's parking spot? And, Number 2..."inventive" kids like me never got the "Can I see you after class?" shout-out.

Having "first day jitters" is not an uncommon occurrence for kids returning to school following a three-month long hiatus/reprieve...I got my jitters for one reason and one reason only: That dreaded "What I Did During Summer Vacation" paper. I knew it was coming...it was inevitable, and inevitably I didn't have anything, yet again, to write about. Nothing...that really happened...that is.

And here's the proof of why I'm so certain not one teacher ever read those reports: I always made up things bordering on the near impossible and of the "highly improbable" genre. My vacation destinations made a trip to Oz and Wonderland seem commonplace. My head was filled with more insanity than the combined episodes of "H.R. Pufnstuf".

In a nutshell, I was a nutjob.

And, not once...not one single time did a teacher ever ask me what I had been sipping, snorting, smoking, or injecting. Not once.

All of us kids sitting there could have (and seriously, we should have) put the exact same vacation story on our papers...and I'm convinced we all would have had varying degrees of grades. I am, again, 99.8 percent certain of this because one year I wrote about taking an out of body experience to Mars during the summer and got "Excellent! -- A+ -- I wish I could have gone along!" inscribed upon it, in red ink no less.

While this all actually happened...and I credit having to resort to my imagination much, much more of a learning tool than any mouse-laden tour of Disneyland ever could have been...this wasn't the original "theme" of this blog. This was all just an elaborate set-up for my next one, which is all about my "find" at my local library a couple months ago.

So, stay tuned for Part 2 - in a day or two.

For those of you who are curious as to what the first two marking period comments shown say...here you go:

First Marking Period: I gave Mariann a B in conduct because I did not want to keep her off the honor roll with a C. However, she must refrain from talking as much as she has been doing to maintain that mark.

Second Marking Period: Mariann is a very good student but she has handed in papers carelessly written. This is probably due to the fact that she is trying to write as fast as thoughts come into her mind. It is an asset to be a speed-reader but not a speed-writer.

(Also, I don't imply all teachers get drunk on the eve of the first day of school...but I do have my suspicions about a couple of the ones I had.)

03 September 2010

My Incredibly Wickedly Brilliant (Albeit Disgusting in a Way) Plan to Get Rich!

I just walked into my son's room and, like the Grinch himself, got an idea! An awful idea! I got a wonderful, awful idea!

Hear me out here...

My son has a gorgeous head of curly hair. If you remember Roger Daltrey of "The Who"...think of him in "Tommy". Now think of Shirley Temple. Then quick...think of my son again.

Do you see what I'm getting at?


Haven't gotten it yet?

I'll tell ya!

I snip off a curl...and put it up on eBay. I claim it's a curl from Roger Daltrey when he was filming "Tommy"...or played at Woodstock...or some other such made up rot. Then someone bids some astronomical price...and I snip off another.

Rinse and repeat.


And when people get suspicious...I start selling them off as Shirley Temple curls. And, heaven forbid it's anytime soon...but when she...you know...um...dies...I take my bag of snipped off ringlets I've been saving...you know -- for kinda like "just such an occasion"...and become a "poor little rich girl".

I mean, c'mon...who there is going to run a DNA test on it? It would probably cost more than what they paid, right? I highly doubt Roger Daltrey is trolling eBay for the occasional odd chunk o'hair...and seriously, I bet a lot of girls he had "been with" took a few for mementos.

Well, there you have it...my "get-rich not so quick" scheme. And, as long as my son doesn't go prematurely bald...well, these little dividends will continue to grow and grow and grow...

31 August 2010

What Made Me Cry Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The "People's Princess" was no more.

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

29 August 2010

Happy Cataclysmic Earth Day!

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

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

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

Same doom, different channel.

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

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

No...not days until the Super Bowl.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"A Charlie Brown Impact Crater Christmas"

"How the Grimch Reaper Stole Christmas"

"The Year Without a Santa Claus"

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

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

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

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

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

26 August 2010

CSI: Cereal Sofa Investigation

Cue some "Who" music here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There's only two reasonable explanations for this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21 August 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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