Sunday, November 30, 2003


I had a strange day today. I had a day where I felt like I was pretty much the only person on earth.

You know, I just spent an entire vacation where I was by myself. Save for one day, anyway. I loved it. I worked around the house, I got things done, I watched movies. I'm not sure why today it was so upsetting.

I had a nice Thanksgiving, with Mr M and his friends Donna and Brandon. We ate, and watched Eddie Izzard videos, and did one of my favorite things, played board games. It was fun.

Friday, I was alone. I went out for a bit, rented some movies, came back and watched. Saturday, I was alone. Did absolutely fuck-all the entire day. Never left the house. Sat on my ass. Watched the snow. Watched the Hokies lose. Took a nap.

And so on to today. I woke up at about 7am. After an hour or so, went back to bed, but no sleep, just some TV. Alone, alone, alone. Got up again. Realized everyone I knew was somewhere else.

It was official. I'd gone stir crazy.

Around noon, I jumped into the shower, pulled on some clothes, and decided I had to get out of the house, even if it was just to drive around town for a while. And so I got in the car and drove.

And it was odd. Around town, even at noon, when you'd think people would be coming from church, and going to eat, and heading to all shopping points, the streets were relatively empty. So I hit the highway.

I drove and drove, finally in traffic, which was somehow comforting. I drove to B'burg. I didn't go to Mr M's. I didn't go anywhere. I had the perfect opportunity to be around lots of people, at any store I pleased, and yet, I never got out of the car. I looped around the town and started back home.

And I drove home, alone, with the sun in my eyes and a sinus headache. I got home about 4pm, went to the Comfy Chair soon after, and napped for about 3 1/2 hours.

Yep, a tank of gas and my last day of vacation blown to smithereens. And I still never spoke to another live person.

So tomorrow I'll start back to work, and be bombarded with things and people from all sides. And soon after I'll be praying for a few days with nothing to do and no people to have to see or talk to face to face.

Life's funny that way, I guess.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Hamlet & Cheese

It was just this morning that I was asked by the dishy Michelle how I knew certain things. The "certain things" in this case being movies and directors and reviews and such. I explained it away by saying, everyone has his or her area of expertise and interest.

What I didn't say was that we also have our areas of ineptitude.

I don't guess there's any real harm in my admitting that I'm hopelessly non well-read. It's not that I don't like to read. I do, from time to time. It goes in phases, where I'll read something voraciously till it's over, or I'll read here and there, when I'm alone in the doctor's office, or the restaurant, or waiting for the movie to start.

The problem is, I just read what I like. Basically essays, with the occasional novel thrown in for good measure. But I've never had any great yen to read The Classics. "War and Peace?" Nope. "Les Miserables?" Nuh-uh. "The Cherry Orchard? Pride and Prejudice? Nicholas Nickelby?" Nip, nip, nip. "Anna Karenina?" Nyet. Well, you get the idea. I haven't even read the modern classics, like "Catcher In The Rye" or "Catch-22." Or any other book with "Catch" in the title, I daresay.

Which brings us to Hamlet, that melancholy Dane. Now, I'm not a total boob where Shakespeare is concerned, I got through some in school, "Romeo & Juliet," "Julius Caesar," and "MacBeth," the last of which I really liked as a story and a play. I discovered "Henry V" and "Much Ado About Nothing" in a much more pleasant way, via Kenneth Brannagh films. And "Richard III," I knew the story of anyway, and have seen treatments of it as well.

But Hamlet. Where were you, sweet prince?

(As an aside: After seeing "Henry V," still a great film that bowls me over, I actually went back to read the play. I flipped to the St Crispian's day speech, read it a few times, and that's as far as it got.)

For some reason, I was never introduced to Hamlet in school. High school or college. I knew all the soundbites, the one-off lines, the dead father and his ghostie, you know, the basics. But for some reason, recently I've been wanting to get to know my Hamlet.

A while back I saw Brannagh's screen version of the play. But, apparently after having some of those great successes with Shakespeare plays, the studio gave Ken free reign in filmmaking. And the result was an overly long, overly bloated, overly visual, overly expensive, overly everything type of a movie. I didn't like it, I didn't pay attention to it, and not even that charming Brannagh face could get me interested. I zoned in and out. Mostly out. And I forgot about Hamlet for a while.

Imagine my surprise and excitement when I saw that one of our movie channels was showing the original "Hamlet," the Laurence Olivier one, last week. Wow, I thought, this was 1948. There's no way this can be a big overbloated extravaganza of boredom! And I'll get to see good old Larry in the role he's probably most known for amongst all others, if you don't count the Nazi tooth-puller in "Marathon Man."

I snuggled into the Comfy Chair, got a water and a blankie, and started watching the movie. I didn't get far. How far? Well, I was dozing before I even got to see Lord O. I woke up at one point to see the stepfather and new king harking and forsoothing to the court, and it was back to dozing. Oh, well.

Damn you, Hamlet! You're one tough nut to crack!

I even went so far as to, last weekend, suggest to Mr M watching a movie that he likes and I don't like. I really really don't like. "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead," a Tom Stoppard play that takes a really skewered roundabout stab at Hamlet. So much so that it's not about Hamlet at all. It's one of those what I call "paper movies." Good idea on paper, just sucks on film. (Baz Luhrmann makes lots of paper movies.) And alas, I wasn't happy with this, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were dismissed in very short order.

And so today, I went for broke. "Hamlet 2000," well, I think it was actually just called "Hamlet." It was made in 2000. But it's the "Hamlet" that stars Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles and takes place in 2000 New York City. Now, here's a "Hamlet" for me! A pop culture "Hamlet!" A schlock "Hamlet!"

When the movie started, I must admit I was reticent. Oh yes! I was reticent. This was because Hawke's Hamlet started to sililoquize, and it was in the original text. I wasn't expecting this. I was expecting "To blow my brains out or not. That's the fuckin' question." I was getting the original stuff.

And it was a little hard to get used to. To see people traipsing around New York City speaking Shakespeare, to see Bill Murray and Steve Zahn speaking Shakespeare.

It was surprising, though, how easily it all fell into place. In fact, the whole movie did. It was cool and stylized, and, I don't know, I just found it quite endearing. And the "To be or not to be" speech takes place as Hamlet is walking around - Blockbuster video! Hey! I've felt like that looking for a movie too!

Anyway, I did make it through a "Hamlet" tonight, even if it was "Hamlet Lite." It's OK, though. I'll think of it as my starter "Hamlet." My "Hamlet" with training wheels. Now I'll go back and see if I can find Larry's version again. And if I can't, I'll seek him out as the tooth-pulling Nazi.

But for now, goodnight, sweet prince.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Selling and Smelling

Well, it's the night before Thanksgiving, and I just finished my work. Most of it having nothing to do with the actual holiday, just work. All I did for the holiday was make a pumpkin pie (I'll be potato-mashing in B'burg tomorrow), and for the rest, I sold out. Well, better put, I bought out. I bought broccoli casserole and a pumpkin cake from the Bumble. Better known as the Bumbleberry Patch, a local cafe run by women who can really cook.

The last task of tonight was putting the bed back together. Bedsheets, the last of my laundry. You know, I wouldn't have chosen housecleaning as a way to spend my vacation, but it's been oddly satisfying. I guess one just has to be in the right frame of mind.

This morning I was padding around the house - now, I want to make this perfectly clear, that I was not sitting watching the Game Show Network on my vacation. Not that there's anything wrong with that - and the TV was on in the background, the yammering of some decades-old game show as my day's soundtrack.

So in the background of my pie-stirring, or towel-folding, or whatever the hell it was, I hear that a lucky contestant has won an all-expenses paid trip to Jamaica! Wooooo! And along with that, the lucky contestant has also won a complete set of Amelia Earhart luggage!


Amelia Earhart luggage?

Now, this is just wrong on so many levels. The first being, when one thinks of Amelia Earhart, I don't believe "luggage" would actually be the next sequential association. I mean, I've seen Samsonite luggage being thrown off trains, hit by semi-trucks, and raped by gorillas, but.... Amelia Earhart luggage! "You can disappear somewhere over the Pacific Rim and never be seen again, but be secure in the fact that your luggage will keep your most personal belongings safe and dry!"

Then there's the idea that, well, I'm assuming, and Mr M and I have had this very discussion about Harley Earl - you know, the dead guy Buick resurrected to sell their cars? - that one would think that the celebrity's, albeit the dead one's, family would have to have some sort of say in licensing their loved one's name to sell a product. Right?

I would like to have been in the room when that pitch was made. "Yes, what does Amelia say to the world? Courage, adventure...luggage! Very stylish luggage!"

And we won't even address the issue of whether or not men can carry Amelia Earhart luggage, or if carrying a woman's luggage would be too, well, sissyfying.

And on a completely unrelated note, I must report to you that my car smells like syrup.

It's smelled like this for a few weeks.

Now, I must also tell you that I've had syrup possibly once in the last two years. It was poured upon some pancakes, and was in the comfort of Chez Mr M. And the remainder stayed there, on my plate, till it was washed off. So why my car smells like syrup I've no idea.

And it's weird. Because it comes and goes. Now, when I back out of my driveway and head south, and get to the first stop light, *pow!* syrup smell. Right at that intersection. In fact, at first, I thought there was actually something wrong with the intersection! Like, a maple syrup-carrying tanker had wrecked or something.

Then I started smelling it on the outside of my car. In the parking lot at work. In the parking lot of the video store.

I'm stymied as to why this is. It's certainly not a constant smell, it comes and goes, but it's not a pleasant smell, either. It's incredibly sickly sweet. I don't like that. My car sat in the driveway for two days of driving pouring rain, and whatever it is didn't wash off.

I think my car's possessed. It's possessed by the ghost of Aunt Jemima.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Radio, Radio

Well, today was the day I traveled to the radio station to read my essays. In a way, it was nothing like I expected, and in another, it was pretty much just what I expected. It was odd.

I've been looking back through my old entries here, and I don't see where I've told this story before, so I'll give you a very Reader's Digest version of the background.

Mr M saw on the website of the local public radio station that they take essays from local people for consideration of their being read on the station's "Morning Edition" program. Read by the writers themselves. Upon seeing this, which, believe me, was almost a year ago, Mr M had been asking, encouraging, cajoling, and bullying me to send some of my stuff in. And of course, I wouldn't, because I was sure it would be of no interest to them.

So finally, and oddly enough, during a time when I was absolutely at my lowest personally - I figured, hell, what could one more rejection mean - I sent something in to the station. 4 essays. In a week or so I received an email from the show's producer saying there were 2 essays in particular she liked, and invited me to come to the station and read them for broadcast. I was flabbergasted.

After a few backs and forths and trying to find days and times we could meet - note, I call this the "local public radio station," but it's still 2 hours away from me - we agreed upon today. Bright and early, at 10:30am. And that's where we pick the story up.

First of all, the producer, whose name is Dutchie, by the way, couldn't have been nicer. She made it all very easy and comfortable, and was very complimentary.

We got to go into the big studio, where she showed me the microphones - they were the big cool kinds that are rotate around on metal sticks - and the headphones, which we both wore when we talked to each other. Wow!

Then she went on to tell me about these microphones. "They're extremely sensitive," she said, "And they'll pick up just about any sound - breathing, lip-smacking, shifting." And all I could think of was the scene in the Andy Griffith Show where they have to convince Barney Fife (who can't sing - not a lick) that the microphone he's about to sing into at the chorale is ultra-sensitive, and the least little sound will burst the eardrums of the audience. (Of course, they get him to the level where he's basically not singing at all, and pipe someone's bass vocal solo over him.) As it turns out, that wasn't the case with me, because I was actually told to speak a little louder into my ultra-sensitive mic.

I think what kept me fairly free of nerves, besides Dutchie's kindly manor, was the fact that she said the editing program was very easy, so if I flubbed a word, or didn't like something I'd read and wanted to read it over, all I had to do was say, "wait, I'll do that again," and she'd mark it for editing and I wouldn't have to start the whole thing over. And that's what I did.

First I read the thing I'd written about Frankie's, a local restaurant institution in my town, and its demise. Stennie actually suggested I send that one, thanks, Stenns. It turned out to be a little long - over four minutes, which shocked me, as it felt like it only took a minute to read - and she said she'd need to edit a little of it out, but she knew where. I didn't ask, but I wonder if it's the same paragraph I'd edit out.

The second thing didn't need to be edited. It was my piece about surfing the 'net at work. (Which by the way, for those trivia buffs out there, it was also the very first time I ever used the phrase TheCompanyIWorkFor.) She just kept complimenting me on that piece, which was very kind, and I felt like I was blushing after a while. Not that it wasn't nice to hear, believe me.

And then, that quickly, it was over. She said I wouldn't air till after Christmas, there were a lot of holiday essays they'd have to get on. But if I send her an email in the next couple of weeks, she can probably tell me the days my things will air. So stay tuned, I'll let you know.

All in all, it was a very pleasant and enjoyable and not-at-all nervewracking experience. Dutchie also said I had a good delivery and a face made for radio. Well, actually, she didn't say that last one, I've just been chomping at the bit all damn day to use that line. But a good delivery - whee!

Oh. And yes, for those of you who wonder about such things, every time I flubbed and started a sentence or paragraph over, I did say, "Oooh, I'm sorry." "Oops, sorry," "Sorry." Except the very last time. I said, "I didn't like that, I'll do it again." hahahaahhaah! What a pro!

And then it was back home, after a few stops along the way. Back home to the Poderosa and laundry and pumpkin pie-making and napping in the Comfy Chair. But if I may say so, my few moments in the spotlight were awfully fun.


You know, as a very non-timely person, timely people just impress the hell outta me. And Krizzer is one timely goddess. In fact, I wasn't even expecting the winners! I just looked down, saw I had an email, and voila! There she was.

This week's letters were B E N N I E E. The entries:

*Becks: Especially Nasty, Not Ingestible, Evil Export
*Bad Emissions Nuked Nine Ice-cold Eskimo Echidnas
*Breasts Excited Nocturnal Ned - Internally, Externally - Everywhere!
*Bet’s egg nog nearly ignited everyone’s eyelashes.
*Bean’s entry: never need incubate embryos ever.
*Butt engineer? Never! Narrowly, I eschewed employment.
*Brian Eno's neverending neoclassical intensely experimental electronica
*Been everywhere near Norway. It's exquisitely erotic.
*Bruce: evil naysayer, nefarious, immoral. Eats eels.
*Boys enter Neverland nearly innocent; exit experienced.
*Betcha Elaine Nardo's nude Ignatowski exhibit's excellent.
*Bam! Emeril's Nutmeg Nibblers is cool cuisine!
*Bet enjoys nudely napping in eveningtime.
*Beware! Everybody needs "Neighbours" in England.
*Bennifer eventually nixed nuptials in ET.

And now, let's turn things over to the girl of the hour, Ms Krizz:

My Dear Acroers:

Well, first I’d like to say:

Hey everybody! I won a million dollars today!!!!!!!

I’d like to be able to say that very much. Sadly, it’s not true. IN FACT I got to borrow $200 for tuition today. So that’s practically the same thing.

But enough about my exciting adventures. I’m here to judge acro, and acro-judging I will go!

I must confess that all the entries were better than anything I would have come up with. So you’re all winners, except those of you who are losers. And I think you know who you are…

The Special Mentions go to:

Flipsycab’s: “Bean’s entry: never need incubate embryos ever.” Because it’s so timely!

Michelle’s: “Breasts Excited Nocturnal Ned - Internally, Externally - Everywhere!” Because it’s so tee-hee!

Stennie’s: “Boys enter Neverland nearly innocent; exit experienced.” Because it’s so topical!

But this week’s winning entry has to be:

Flipsycab’s: “Bet’s egg nog nearly ignited everyone’s eyelashes.” Because it’s so true! That Bet, I’d wager she makes one hell of a ‘nog!

Happy Snacksgiving everyone! I hope you have a good one.

Incidentally, my brother, who I’m visiting in Baltimore for the next few days, emailed me and asked “Do you want me to make a turkey for you? I don’t mind, but I could use the time for something else.” Oh great. Way to make me feel like I’m putting you out. This should be fun.

So…send me a drumstick in the mail, if you think about it! Bon appetite!

So, there you have it, everyone. Drumsticks to be mailed to Krizz. I don't have a brother, but that "I could use the time for something else" is SO brothery. It's great.

Thanks for playing acro, and have a nice holiday, everybody!

Monday, November 24, 2003


OK, now I know that those of you who know me are already aware of this. And probably those who don't know me wouldn't find it too much of a stretch to believe. I'm horrible at setting and achieving goals.

In fact, one of the surest ways for me to fail at a particular goal is to set it. I can be going along fine in a particular area, then say, "Hey, this is going OK. Maybe I should set a goal of doing this every week for so long and then have this accomplishment by so and so date."

And then, *pbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbt!*

So please rejoice with me today when I announce to you that I've accomplished the goal I set back in January when I decided to keep a movie list just like my movie heroes Stennie and Mike. I set the then Herculean task of 200 movies in one year. And this afternoon, I by-God hit 200 movies for the year.

My movie #200 was "Whale Rider," which I'd heard a lot about and rented this weekend. I took it Mr M's Saturday and we started watching it, but it being the weekend of the bad knee, and subsequently the weekend of getting a couple of the Naprosyn tablets Mr M had for his arm, I fell dead asleep about 8 minutes into the film. He finished it while I dozed, and was not bowled over by it. I personally liked it. It's a great story, and a great movie to recommend for kids, especially girl kids. Great "girl power" movie.

And just to go one better, I hit 201! Tonight I watched a movie called "Winged Migration" that I'd seen Ebert & The Other Guy review on their show this weekend. It's a documentary all about birds and their migration habits. It was filmed by people who got "up close and personal" with these birds, and no doubt about it, it was beautiful and breathtaking. But it was also about two hours of birds hopping about.

Now, don't get me wrong, it had its moments, even sad ones, as we see some succumb to hunters on their trips, and caught in land tractor reapers, and we see one bird get stuck in oil that was absolutely heartbreaking and luckily they didn't let the camera linger too long.

However, I think a much better story would be just how they got these amazing shots. I'm hoping somewhere in the special features there will be a short story about this.

But the thing it impressed upon me the most? Baby birds are cute. Baby birds are the cutest things in the world. Every one of them, even birds that grow up to be ugly mofos in adulthood are absolutely adorably cute as babies.

Damn. I've watched 201 movies this year.


Yes, ladies and germs (and you know who you are), it's Monday and time for another foot-stompin' woo-hoo-yellin' round of Acromania.

Auntie Bet got drunk last night. She (hey, Seth, I know how it feels now!) couldn't feel her face when she went to bed. But her knee was bitchinly good.

Now I'm sober, I've conquered the grocery, went out to buy a new clear plastic chair mat thingy so I won't fall in the floor anymore, unloaded my groceries in a windy, driving downpour of rain, and still have to start laundry. But I'm on vacation! Wooo!

Our guest judge this week is the lovely, the tall, the sexy, the rock star who often gets mistaken for Xena Princes Warrior, the one and only Krizzer! (Just call her Medusa.) She will be judging based on the same old every single time rules.

Everyone has three entries to come up with the best acronyms they can that correspond to the letters below, which are from tiles randomly drawn from the acrobasket. Judging will end tomorrow night at 8pm est, and the winners will be announced shortly thereafter. I kindly ask that no one hit, punch, stab, or shoot anyone else when the winners are announced. It reflects badly on you as a citizen.

And this week's letters are:



OK, there you have it. Get acroing. Auntie Bet is going to go put her knee up and watch a movie. Don't get rowdy.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

No Comment

I'm currently a bit, well, I drank about a third bottle of Goldschlager so I'll let you guess. So I'll try hard not to comment on the state of the world. I might say things I'll regret tomorrow. A lot.

I installed, on the recommendation of Mike and Stennie, much much more memory today. I'm now sailing along at 512 instead of 128. This is a good thing. Thanks, guys.

I also had a really bad knee wrench this weekend, but it's slowly getting better. I shall survive. Yeah. I Will Survive.

So guess what. I have the coming week off. The only thing on the agenda is that Tuesday morning I have to go to Roanoke to visit the Public Radio Station, WVTF. Seems for some reason, they want me to read two of my essays on the air for broadcast "at a later time." Hmmmm. Anyway, I'm going to go to that in the morning. Other than that, it'll just be hanging around, grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, and cleaning around the house. And hopefully, movie watching.

I think I'll leave it at that. Not get myself in trouble. See you tomorrow for acro.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Dad's Pooves

That actually comes from a joke in a Monty Python episode. A take-off on the old Britcom "Dad's Army." Absolutely no idea at all why I even remembered it.

I was at the video store today looking for a couple of movies for the weekend. I came upon a very unexpected find. "All The Queen's Men." I knew about this movie, I'd heard about it a while back. During World War II, a quartet of men go behind enemy (German) lines undercover - undercover as in, dressed like women (the army calls them the Poof Platoon). It co-starred Mr Eddie Izzard, the transvestite comedian.

When I saw it on the shelf, I was slightly taken aback. "Damn, that's already in the video store? I don't remember it being in theatres! It must really suck," I said to myself. "This cover looks really bad. It must suck," I said. "It stars Matt LeBlanc," I said. And with that, enough was said.

But I rented it anyway. The Izzard Call.

When I put it in, I got to the menu. It had a myriad of choices: Play movie. Scene Selection. Cast and Crew. "This is gonna suck," I said. I clicked on Cast and Crew. A still picture of each actor with a list of movies. Very cheap. "This is gonna suck," I said, one last time.

And so the movie started. And you know what? It sucked. It sucked bigtime. The graphics of the titles sucked, the music sucked, the scenery sucked, the plot sucked, the writing really sucked, the jokes sucked, and well, as you might guess with a Matt LeBlanc movie, the acting sucked.

I wish I could give you a better review other than "it sucked." But I can't. I mean, the idea of four strapping men (well, actually, a lie, three strapping, one very effeminate) going into Germany: not one of them has the slightest resemblance to a woman (think four linemen for the Chicago Bears in drag, I mean, let's be honest, Eddie himself does a bit in his stand-up comdedy about dressing as a woman with his extremely butch face). And only one of them speaks German. One of them is a 60-year old man. Add to that the fact that we're in World War II, and Eddie Izzard is given, well, Eddie Izzard lines. Like, after a German mentions Eddie's character is bisexual, pronounced "bee-sex-yahl," Eddie says, "Yes, I'm bee-sex-yahl, I have sex with bees." I used to hear that all the time back when I was in World War II. I'm sure you did too.

When movie list time came, I was all set to give it one star. And something held me back. I didn't want to give it the same rating as the schlockfest "Robinson Crusoe On Mars." So I gave it one and a half stars. Then I almost went back and changed it, based on the theory that at least the makers of "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" knew they were making a schlockfest. They took a budget of about $1.25 and gave it all they had. By rights, that should have rated higher than this piece of tripe.

But in the end, I kept my one and a half star rating. I figure one for the movie and another half for Eddie. Poor Eddie. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

More Ideas That Died On The Drawing Board

Hundred Dollar Matches: How many times, in how many circumstances, have you seen a high roller pull out a hundred dollar bill, set it aflame, and light up his big fat cigar? Pretty effective, huh? Hobart Pubst thought so too. He set about pitching his idea to novelty and specialty stores for the Hundred Dollar Matches. They were actual $100 bills rolled tightly, with a special match head at one end for striking (an amazing development, Pubst thought, not having to light the actual bill that lit up the stogie). When working out the final logistics, any way they looked at it, a book of matches was going to cost $2000.15. Ix-nay on the atches-may.

Sockdals©: In what may be one of the strangest fashion ideas in history - and believe me, folks, there've been a load of them - the FineFoot, Inc, company came up with the idea for socks worn specifically with sandals. These socks were cut in the same pattern as the sandal; therefore, one had the basic thong sock, the two-strap mule sock, the open-toe with backstrap, etc. FineFoot, Inc was sure that, at its debut in London in 1965, the sockdal would be the hit of the summer season. Not only were they disdained for being a "one-style stocking" (ie, one couldn't wear one's open-toe with backstrap sockdal with one's basic thong sandal), but people just outright laughed at them. Two weeks later in New York, after a model hung herself backstage while trying to put on the "knee-high strapped Roman sockdal," this fashion faux pas died a quick death.

No-Burn Sliding Board: Ahh, the playground. Where we've all seen shorts-wearing bare-legged children climb a sliding board filled with the anticipation of fun, only to reach the ground again blubbering in tears with a burned backside from the slide. Well, the city of West Progression, Oregon sought to stop such a traumatic experience for the kiddies by commissioning the first-ever No-Burn Sliding Board. After much research and trial and error, the scientists on the project fashioned a liner for the board. It was made rather like a 10-ft long Tuck's medicated hemorrhoid pad. In fact, it was made exactly like one. In fact, that's what it was. There were a myriad of problems. First and foremost, it seriously slowed up the sliding process. Kids everywhere hate that. Also, while most kids liked the "cool, swimmy" feeling of the witch hazel, they all pouted when they got up from the slide with a case of the damp-ass. Then there was the smell. No one likes a kid that smells like hemorrhoids. Case closed.

Tellovision: There's one thing you can say about Phil Wirtz. He likes to talk TV. Ask anyone he's cornered on the street and regaled with the latest episode of "Law & Order" or "Scrubs." He went to a major television cable conglomerate (who asked not to be named) with his idea for a special cable channel called Tellovision. It would consist of a daily schedule of the programs we all love. However, instead of tuning in and seeing the program, we'd tune in and see Phil, behind a desk, telling us what happens in the episdoe. Say, you like "Friends?" Tune in at 8pm Thursdays. See and hear Phil say, "And then Rachel comes in the room and says, 'Ross?! Not Ross! Never Ross!' And Joey's standing there all confused, and the audience is laughing like their sides are gonna split!" The cable conglomerate (who pleaded with us not to be named, really) ran a test broadcast of a week of programs, and asked those viewers to submit their comments via index cards. Comments ran from "The stupidest thing I've ever seen in my life" to "I hope Phil Wirtz rots in hell." But most of the cards just said, "Why?"

The Party Stirrup: There are loads of old wives' tales about drunkenness and what to do about it. Hair of the dog, Alka-selzter before bed, a healthy dose of Pepto before the drinking starts...the list is endless. Of all these remedies, there is one widely accepted above all others. Go to bed drunk, be sure to keep one foot flat on the floor. It will keep the drunkard from spinning out of bed into a heaving, hurling pile. Sounds easy enough. However, ever go to bed swarpin'-ass drunk and try to keep a foot flat on the floor all night? Why, even awake you can't remember where your feet are - if you can even feel them - and asleep, who has control of a foot, leg, or anything else? That's why Guzzletime came up with the Party Stirrup. The Party Stirrup is a metal stirrup attached to the floor. The boozer, after tucking him/herself in, lays the fateful leg out of the bed, and places a foot in the stirrup, thus keeping it immobile and floor-bound the whole night through, also keeping the old reprobate asleep and sick-free. A great idea on paper. However, in actual usage, there were injuries from broken legs when the sleepers started to toss and turn to broken noses when the recently awakened hopped out of bed and, being tethered, were thrown face down on the floor. Several claims for soiled/urine ruined mattresses were made against Guzzletime, and one poor soul gave himself something of a penisectomy with the device, though no one's really sure of the facts on this.

The Nonmagic 8 Ball: Sometimes a really dumb idea can net a man millions. Think Pet Rock. William L. Hutswaggle thought it. And came up with his stab at fame and fortune, the Nonmagic 8 Ball. Of course, we all remember the Magic 8 Ball from our childhoods. Ask 8 Ball a question; give it a good shake. Turn it over, and you've got an answer to your question from the plastic prognosticator. With the Nonmagic 8 Ball the drill is the same. Ask Nonmagic 8 Ball a question; give it a good shake. Turn it over, and you've got...nothing. Not a friggin' thing. You have the bottom of an 8 Ball. Brunswick, The Pool Table People, threatened to sue before the project was barely completed - they said the Nonmagic 8 Ball was a copyright infringement upon their 8 Balls. The real death of the Nonmagic 8 Ball, however, was the test group, the children corralled to play with the toy for an hour. Ever seen a 6'4", 230-lb man felled by a roomful of 8 year olds? It's not a pretty sight.

Good God Gumdrops: A candy treat that took all the fun out of candy treats. The idea of Hazel Leffel. Bless her heart. All she wanted to do was combine her love of the Lord with her love for candymaking. She came up with the idea of a fortune cookie of sorts, a piece of candy kids would love that would contain a scripture verse or some religious advice inside. Her favorite candy, and she was convinced, the favorite of kids everywhere, was the gumdrop. And since all her life she'd heard the happy phrase "goody goody gumdrops," and decided to call her candy "Good God Gumdrops." Hazel was a persistent woman. The prototype for the drops failed miserably. One can't exactly crack open a gumdrop to pull out a scripture inside. So people were biting the bible verses, chewing them, swallowing them, they were impossible to pull out of the gumdrops, well, it was a mess. After being turned down by numerous candy companies, Hazel rethought the idea, and came up with a dye to print the religious sayings right on the outside of the gumdrop. Imagine people's surprise at picking a nice green gummy out of the box, only to read on it, "Premarital Sex Leads to Hell," or "This Gumdrop Could Choke You. Pray Hard." It was generally accepted that actually eating the paper verses was the better deal. Hazel was banned from all candymaking activities.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

There. I moved my pixie to a town closer. Let her enjoy some of this rain like the rest of us.

News Bulletin

It's certainly nice to have my weatherpixie back, but I don't like her being wrong. I think I may have to browse a bit to see if there are cities closer to me than B'burg.

I'm sitting at my computer writing this at 9:09. I'm home. I left for work at 8:40, but didn't make it. Our town seems to be underwater at the moment.

I slept through a large part of my alarm this morning, got up, raced to the shower, got some clothes, and dressed. It was only when I came to check my email that I bothered to look outside. The creek behind my house has overflowed. It's up into my yard, a little over halfway. It's never been this high before, even back in the May after I moved here when the whole damn area was underwater. It shocked me, and I started to worry.

Then I started thinking about it. There was no busy morning traffic going by my house this morning. I heard sirens several times. I still hear random sirens.

I got in the car to start to work, but I already pretty much knew the drill. I was right. No access to town. College Ave intersection blocked off, they made me turn right. I proceeded up Tazewell Ave, then took a quick left that would lead me to Virginia Ave, the main street through town. Turned left, making a little square back towards town. Another intersection blocked, routed me left. One more block and a right turn later, I was back on College, heading home.

I almost got to be too smart (and curious) for my own good. On the way back home, I passed up my house and went a little way on to see how far the water was up. When I turned around to start back to my house...they'd changed the blocking towards town. They were trying to route me somewhere else. I had to get out in the rain and explain to a policeman that my house was only a few feet down the road and I was trying to get to it. He kindly let me go through the roadblock.

So here I sit. There's a huge pool of water in my front yard, and the creek's raging into my back yard. My poor next-door neighbor Shirley has water almost up to the back of her house. Her front yard's a pond. There's water pouring out of the drains built into the mountain across from my house, into the road. And there are still sirens.

It's a bit of a worrying time. Please keep a good thought for us today.

Links Aplenty

*Warning: contains links aplenty. Be prepared to click. And click back.

By way of a blog tonight, I'm going to give you a couple of links. Check them out, you'll he happy you did. Or should be. If you're not, it's no one's fault but yours.

I'm sure everyone knows by now that I'm quite quite fond of Blogger. Ever since the Big Blog Block of 2003, they've been very kind to me, and for this, I like them. I also like them for this:

A couple of weeks ago, a really cute article appeared in The Onion titled "Mom Finds Out About Blog." It tells the story of a geek's worst nightmare come true, his mom finding his weblog.

A few days ago as I was going into Blogger to blog, I noticed that on their main page not only did they show a link to that Onion story, but they had a counter to it as well. It was called "Update: We now have an official stance on this matter." I hope you can access that link without a username or password. It's a very cute FAQ page, all set up around how you can keep Mom from finding out about your blog. So, "Go Multi-lingual" ends up with a link to "How to post in a foreign language."

Just today on the same Blogger main page, I noticed they've added a new feature. It's called "How Not To Get Fired Because of Your Blog," and addresses a story about some schmoe at Microsoft who got fired because of his. Again, it's anothe FAQ-type setup, my favorite question being how "Photos: Choose your captions wisely" leads to a link for "How to post photos to your blog."

You know, Blogger could have become all shitty about showing up in news articles and funnies now that they've become a pop culture icon for the new century. I'm glad they seem to be having some fun with as well. Well done.

The next link came to me only today, by way of Mr M. It's made me laugh over and over and has occupied my tiny mind to no end. I don't know if you've seen it or not, but since I hadn't I thought I'd pass it along. It's the Church Sign Generator.

Go ahead, I dare you. Make a marquee for the Church Sign. And tell me you could stop at one. I won't believe you.

You can't link to the site for a sign you've made, but you can save your marquee as a picture and do things like post it on your blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003


We have acrowinners! On time, no less!

First off, if you'll look to the right, you'll see that my weatherpixie has come back from her little, um, sabbatical to who knows where, and is now back gracing the blog. I found out what was going on. Apparently, B'field lost their link somehow with the weatherpixie people, so to get my girl back I had to compromise myself and use the weather from B'burg instead as my guide. So I may not be as accurate, but at least I have a pixie. No idea why this is, it just is. So there.

The acroletters this week were: H S E D H. And our guest judge was Stennie. She was nervous. With good reason! So now, let's turn it over to that niblet of delight, Stennie!

This week's Acronym: H S E D H, a letter combination that made me
quite nervous, to tell the truth.

Here are the entries:

* Heidi says, "Eviscerate David Hasselhoff!"
* Hipsters sport egregiously dumb hats.
* Hedonism? Sex, enjoyment, delight, HEAVEN.
* Holy shit, Elizabeth! Damn hippies.
* Help Stennie evoke deflowering highlights.
* He sells eggshells down home.
* !!HOLLIES!!, Stones, Eagles deserve Hall
* Hop Sing enticed dieting Hoss.
* Huge sneeze ejected Dave's hairpiece.
* Help save Edward Dmytryk's house.
* Hope someone else does her.
* Heidi slapped Eliza Dushku hellaciously.
* Heidi Sackerson: Every day, high.
* Holy shit. Everyone's dead here.
* He stalked eaters, did Heimlich
* Hot sex eludes Don Ho.
* High sixes? Easy. Dwarf hands.
* Hokies score, Elizabeth dances hula.

Honorable mentions: Mike gets a special "Know Your Judge" award for
dropping Edward Dmytryk's name, although why I would save that
ratfink's house is beyond me, no matter how good a director he is.

Lily also gets a "Know Your Judge" award for "Help Stennie evoke
deflowering highlights." Well played.

Bet gets a special "Should've been a movie line" award for "Holy shit.
Everyone's dead here." There are those who will argue she should get
the "Know Your Judge" award also for her first entry.

And now, the big winner -- Feffer, for his delightful "Hop Sing
enticed dieting Hoss."
I think I saw that episode of Bonanza on TV
Land last week. Congratulations to the big winner!

And there you have it. Thank you Stennie, for judging duties. See you all next week!

Monday, November 17, 2003

Happy Me

Yeah, so I'm relatively happy today. No idea why, it was a Monday, and I have "early morning" this week, and my left foot hurts (but that's all in my mind, right?).

And by the way. You know, when you buy a house, there are things you expect are going to happen, like the leak in the washing machine and a cameo appearance by Mr Snake. And there are things you'd never expect to happen, not in a million years. One of the biggies on that list for me is, for some reason, I never expected to have to deal with people whose greatest joy in life and favorite pastime apparently is to throw the garbage from their cars out the window right into my yard.

Twice a week, I'm out there, after work, with a little plastic bag, picking up whatever fast food bags, paper cups, pieces of the newspaper color supplement, and basic nondescript food wrappers are out there, sometimes they're nice and dry and I can just tuck them in the bag and go on, but sometimes they're wet and slug-covered, and I wince with every item. Damn people who are so lazy, or idiotic, or just plain scummy, that they'll throw their trash, well, outside at all, much less into some unsuspecting person's yard. I hope there's a really slimy corner of hell reserved for them.

I practiced the clarinet a while tonight, till it was time to watch my movie. Mr M loaned me a movie, on loan from his advisor, "Life As A House." We seem to have started a mini-trend of watching "psychologically-related relationship movies for discussion afterwards." Not that there's anything wrong with that.

It all started with the Mike Leigh film "All Or Nothing," which I'll make no bones about being the best film I've seen this year. (Along with "The Philadelphia Story," but it's hard to rank moderns and classics together.) Anyway, "All Or Nothing," I'm recommending it. It had an impact on Mr M as well, and it got me to thinking about the first Leigh film I ever saw, which became one of my favorites, a little movie called "Life Is Sweet." And so I decided to buy it for Mr M as a birthday present. Yes, folks, that's what we call in the business a "sheriff's badge," buying someone a present because you yourself want it. (So named for a little boy's habit of buying his dad a present of a baseball hat or a sheriff's badge.)

We watched "Life Is Sweet" on Sunday afternoon. It'd been probably 10 years since I'd seen it, but it was still a great watch. There was a scene I remember hitting me really hard the first time, and seeing it again was still great. It's hard to explain, the movie is about... ha! What is it about? It's about nothing and everything. Generally, it's about a mid-lower class British family and their life for a small window of time.

But within that is the story of the kids of the family, twin girls, about 18 or so. One's a responsible happy girl who works as a plumber. The other's a total mess. Just an absolute mess. And the scene I remembered so well was when the mother finally confronts the "mess" about her life. Or lack thereof. It's not a screaming match, it's not a huge epiphany, it's not major catharsis. It was just like eavesdropping on a mom and daughter having a major discussion, and it really hit me when I first saw it. It was still a great scene all these years later.

I often read about how Leigh only has skeletons of scripts and the actors flesh everything out themselves by improvisation. I don't know how much truth there is to this, but if it is true, man, they all deserve Oscars. Every year. Whether there's a movie out or not.

"Life As A House" was a little different. Dying man with his share of mistakes behind him finds out he's dying, and collars son with his share of mistakes ahead of him to spend a summer together, building a house and finding love. That's a pretty pat description of a movie that wasn't that bad at all. There were certain paths the movie took that were really nice and enjoyable, then just when you were lulled into thinking you were watching something really good, they just had to throw in some horrible, hokey, pulled-out-of-their-ass plot twist. Still, how can you not like Kevin Kline? And Jamey Sheridan - someone give that man a non-asshole movie role, OK?

And so, OK, I admit it. Today was kind of a happy day. I even thought it was funny when "Laura" and her blog seemed to take over blogrolling for a couple of hours this morning. (Did anyone else catch that? It was bizarre - all blogrolls were nothing but links to this Laura's blog.) I do wish I knew what in the hell was going on with my weatherpixie, though. I've checked the site and nothing's out of the ordinary there. She's just disappeared. That flag standing there alone looks like it's been poked into the surface of the moon.


Wooo, I'm so excited about this week's acromania, I've given it two exclamation points!! Just like Lester Bangs!!

This week, our guest judge (and this is hot off the presses, folks, it's just been confirmed), is the wonderful, the talented, the funny, the sexy-to-the-point-of-tongues-lolling-on-the-floor, our very own, and she's in the midst of making a film, people, a film! It's the one and only Stennie!

The rules are the same as always, you get three entries to try and make the best acronym you can to the letters below, which are tiles randomly drawn each week from the acrobasket. Then tomorrow around 11pm-ish EST, the fair Stenns will read the entries and pick the winner, who will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing they won this week. Whether or not they choose to stick out their tongues and say "Nanny Nanny Poo Poo" is entirely at their discretion.

So get ready, the letters are about to be drawn:


So, what are you waiting for? Acro!

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Ex Peed

That's my rather rude way of saying that I've now been, as it were, XP'd.

Yes, folks, as you can tell by the giant "L" on my forehead, I've been dabbling in the world of computers this weekend.

Friday night I finally broke down and bought, after needing one for months, a new mouse. I almost went for the trackball, but when using other folks' I've always had a tough time maneuvering. And since there are still a few computer card games I play occasionally where speed comes into play, I gave that a pass, and went for a cute compact silverish number.

When I got it installed on Saturday morning, I really really liked it. It moves so easily, like gliding along on ice. I was telling Mr M about it, and just happened to mention, oh, that's why it moves so nicely, it doesn't have a ball in the bottom of it. And he was all, "Ooooh! You got an optical mouse? Touch you!"

Yes, I did get an optical mouse. So touch me. Even though I have no idea what an optical mouse is, when I bought the thing, and even now. I caught Stennie online and mentioned to her my new mouse didn't have a ball (actually, instead of typing "it doesn't have a ball" I typed "i doesn't have a ball," which she jumped right on), she also did the "Ooooh, optical mouse" thing, and mentioned the lights on it. So apparently these lights on my mouse are part of it being optical. I thought it was for show, like when toddlers have lights on their little tennis shoes.

I ended the weekend by installing my Windows XP upgrade. Took a long time, and I lost Norton Anti-Virus in the process, but it's here. Nothing blew up. It's all blue, and the icons are cheerier, and other than that, I don't know much if I like it or not. I mean, I've not really seen any differences yet. Which is a good thing, I guess. I don't guess it would be that great if I put it in and it was a different language or something.

Anyway, I can now have both iTunes and Napster, and I downloaded both, but haven't had much of a chance to look at either of them for the getting everything else in place. I did do a couple of quick searches on each of them, and it looks like the dearth of stuff that was on the old Napster is but a faint dreamy memory. We'll apparently never see those days again. The paying I don't mind. I mean, 99 cents a tune is a veritable bargain. But the reason I always loved Napster was the wealth of choice.

Oh well, what are you gonna do, right?

In between those bouts of geekiness, Mr M and I went to see "Master and Commander," the new Russell Crowe flick, and it rated a solid three stars. It was the living embodiment of three stars on my Movie List star guide: "Not Bad."

After the movie we went to Barnes & Noble and browsed around, I bought the Jet "Get Born" album (catchy as hell), and the new REM video dvd. Then we went out to eat at Zeppoli's, one of my two favorite restaurants in B'burg. I ended up asleep around midnight, probably the earliest I've been asleep in weeks. And I slept well.

There you have it. Weekend of the gods. No, wait. Weekend of the pods.

Friday, November 14, 2003


I don't know what in the world is up with my weatherpixie. She seems to have taken a powder, leaving only an American flag in her place. Did she get tired of standing there, day after day, in sun and rain, just telling me what the temperature is? Did it get too cold for her, and she pissed off inside?

I don't know. I kinda miss her, though.

Thursday, November 13, 2003

Hey, Mr M

My friend Mr M:

* went back to school to get his degree in psychology

* is a card-carrying atheist

* roomed in college with sax-man Lou Marini, met John Cleese in an airport, and once had lunch with Peter Schickele, aka PDQ Bach

* is a close personal friend of Captain Asshole's

* is arrogant, opinionated, and infuriating

* got me into the Sauerkraut Band

* once biked across country

* is totally scared of little girls

* is the best clarinet player I've ever heard

* has helped my clarinet playing by leaps and bounds

* makes the world's best Tuna Pasta Salad

* loves Mark Twain, "Lonesome Dove," and "Moby Dick"

* thinks Albert Ellis can save anyone

* can make me laugh, whether it's with a line like "Eye pokers only come through the front door" or just a well-timed "pbbbbbbbbt"

* can also make me cry - weep - sob

* never fails to chuckle at the Eddie Izzard line "I got babies on spikes. Ya wanna rack o babies? I got babies on racks."

* was born November 13, 1949

Happy Birthday, Mr M!

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Ow, This Hurts

Listen, I know I'm goofy. If the truth be known, and after all these years, I think we're all goofy, it's just that some people hide it better than others. I seem to have the rather unfortunate ability to let my goofiness flow to the masses.

I've been thinking lately about psychosomatic illnesses. Which I have. I think. Well, I mean, I know there's one recurring one I have. But it was quite a revelation to realize that something else I've been suffering with for a while seems to be psychosomatic as well.

For years I've had a problem with anxiety-driven symptoms. The most prevalent of those being heart palpitations, coupled with that ever present "help!-there's-an-elephant-sitting-on-my-chest" feeling. Back in the early days of this, it was a very upsetting and worrying thing. There's nothing quite like feeling the breath is being stolen from your body.

And it's the oddest thing. I always knew, or at least after the first couple of times it happened I knew, that it was not in my body but in my head. I just couldn't convince myself of it. Until...

Until I took a trip with my cousin Jacob to Atlanta. In the two weeks preceding the trip, I was sure I was walking my last steps. My heart was pounding, slow, fast, hard, my breathing was labored, I felt horrid. And then we got in the car on a Friday afternoon, and with every mile I put between me and home, the heart started beating more regularly, and the elephant on my chest stood up a little more, and my breathing got back to normal. And I felt great. It was so noticeable; it was like being hit in the face.

A couple of more times of the exact same situation, and I realized that yes, I too was the victim of the old "it's all in your head" syndrome. And once I accepted that it's made life a lot easier. It was the greatest health discovery of my life, at least until I met Mr M and he discovered my Migrating Brain Tumor (MBT).

Lately, well, lately being the past few months, I've been complaining of pain. Pain in my knees and my feet. What I call "floating pain." Floating pain means today I may arise from bed and not be able to stand. My left knee may not work. My right ankle may not work. Both feet may hurt so much I want to cry. They may feel like they're actually broken. My right knee may catch with every step. And I may rise and feel OK. I keep attributing this to my age, and my size, and while there certainly may be some truth to that, there may be something else I need to attribute it to.

My brain.

This past weekend, as you know, I took a trip to North Carolina to play with the polytet. I spent the days beforehand getting my stuff together, packing...and wondering what the hell kind of shoes to take along. Because my feet were killing me. Both feet. The bones in the tops of my feet felt like they'd been crushed.

We loaded onto the bus Saturday morning around 8:30. I arrived back around 8:30 Sunday night. During that time, not a pain, not a catch, not a crick, in either foot, either knee, either ankle, either leg. I walked up inclines, stairs, stood in one position, climbed on and off the bus. Everything was fine.

Monday morning, woke up, right knee caught. Walked like Frankenstein to the shower.

And that started me thinking. Thinking about 6 or 7 weekends of Oktoberfest. Up there on the mountain, the gravel parking lot, the standing and sitting and toasting and moving and walking around. Did I have constant leg, knee, and foot pain? No. I had none.

Frankly, it's starting to make my head hurt.

I can truly accept the fact that I can make my heart palpitate with my own unhappiness and anxiety. And in fact, I'm now to the point where most times I can keep it from happening, or make it stop, just by thinking myself out of it. But I can't accept this where the knees and feet are concerned. Because it's pain. It's real honest-to-God pain. I don't seem to be able to fathom that my mind can conjure up real honest-to-God pain in my body.

And yet, there has to be some truth to it. After all, B'field can't be some sort of strange vortex where all who are in the town limits feel some sort of physical agony. Mental, yes, but not physical. Does my day-to-day life (as well as my day-to-day pickles) evoke crippling pain? Is it depression, boredom, fear, sadness, anger?

Am I crazy?

I don't know. All I know is that yesterday and today to work I wore Birkies. The shoe that proves God has a sense of humor. The joke being that the most comfortable thing you can put on your feet, Birkies and socks, are also the most Godawful ugliest thing you can put on your feet. I haven't cared. It felt good.

Feeling good - the secret weapon against...well, feeling bad, I guess.

Now my head does hurt.

A small Tuesday ramble....

I watched "Finding Nemo" last night (as you probably have guessed below), and found it to be an immensely sweet and entertaining movie. I love those guys at Pixar, they haven't floundered yet.

I took the "which character are you" test at quizilla and ended up being Nemo himself, which was a surprise, although not a bad surprise. It's just that if we're talking personalities here, I'm much more of a Marlin (Nemo's dad) in reality, but while I'm wishing, I really wanted to be Dory.

I spent most of the day today at work hating TheCompanyIWorkFor. I mean, actively hating them. See, they have these corporate weasels who don't know their ass-ends from a hole in the ground coming up with all these ideas to make us work better - and believe me, folks, they're dumb ideas, a child could see it - then when we do what they tell us, and it doesn't work, guess what. It's our fault. And we get punished. Today we found out that we're being yanked from our underwriter, our favorite person at TheCompanyIWorkFor, because we didn't meet some percentage requirements from corporate, after doing exactly what they told us to do! Fuckers. Every one of them, TheCompanyIWorkFor fuckers.

When it got quiet at work, I rebelled by doing some serious surfing. I checked out my Gold Box at Amazon. Oooooooooh! A veritable smorgasboard of crap. I was offered, for 50 bucks or so, a "Lenox Butler's Pantry Alternative Metal Bowl." Does this mean it's some sort of some alternative metal - like tin - and they're afraid to tell us, or does it mean alternative in a real punk/new wave kind of way? "It's an alternative metal bowl, man. It'll mosh your fruit altogether till you get salad right there at the table." I was also offered a Sony Discman for $85.99, that's a real groovin' deal considering I can get one anywhere in town for $24.99. Let's see, I was also offered an electronic toothbrush (already got one), computer modem (don't need one), and a mitre saw (I'd cut my hand off). Finally, I had the unique and not-to-be-missed opportunity to buy an espresso maker for $1869.95. And even though it'd be almost worth that to be able to yell out my door to passing strangers, "Wait! Where are you going? I was gonna make espresso!" I had to pass on the offer.

As of tonight, I'm totally caught up on laundry, and my car is finally clean. Can't beat that.

We Have Acrowinners!

Yes, it's time, Mr Mike himself has picked from a decidedly small number of entries to name this week's Acrowinner.

This week's letters were S B V O E E I. The entries were:

*Such beautiful visions of ecstacy entice even I.
*Steve's bowels void over easy eggs instinctively.
*Shockingly brutal violence or exotic erotic intimacy?
*Silly boy -- Venus ogles erotic, excessive idiots.
*Stennie, Bet, Venice -- overly expressive, emotional icons.
*Such bollocks. Oversized egos evoke indigestion.
*Sport butane vehicle: open, enter, exhale...ignite!
*Shot Big Vince. Offed Eddie. Eating Italian.
*Some boys "Variety" outed: Eastwood, Eddie Izzard.
*Sororities: begrudging virgins offer exchange. Engagement=intercourse.
*Suddenly, barfing violently over everything, Egon exits inebriation.
*Susan believes veal offends everyone everywhere, incidentally.

And before we turn things over, where does Madonna get off calling her book "Mr Peabody's Apples?" Did she ask Mr Peabody if she could swap off his name for her little dog and pony show book? Hmph.

OK, that said, now let's turn it over to Mike for the announcements.

Presenting the winners of this week's Bet-minster Acro Show!

First off, the varieties:

For best visual, the winner is, from deepfatfriar, Shockingly brutal
violence or exotic erotic intimacy?

For best example of name-dropping, it's bet's Some boys "Variety" outed:
Eastwood, Eddie Izzard.

For best use of sex, we have flipsy's Sororities: begrudging virgins offer
exchange. Engagement=intercourse.

And now, for Best in Show:

Some boys "Variety" outed: Eastwood, Eddie Izzard. (Owner: bet).

Congrats bet! Now take your victory lap with your acronym!

Wowie. Thanks, Mike!

Stay tuned for more acro next week. (arf! arf!)

Monday, November 10, 2003

I Watched Him, and I Am Him....

You are NEMO!
What Finding Nemo Character are You?

brought to you by Quizilla


Well, the polytet is over and I'm back home. Things I learned while on my trip:

1. Bus rides are only fun for about 30 minutes. When it was suggested we all go down together on a chartered bus, it seemed like a great idea. And while it was certainly nice to not have to drive, and it created a kind of "group atmosphere" for those of us who rode together, when you're past 40, riding on a bus is kind of like riding on a covered wagon. The bumps, the noise, the smells, the two-lane mountain roads. Next time, I'm thinking chauffeured limousine.

2. One needs to peruse all the serving tables before making lunch selections. The Watauga band had a big lunch ready for us when we got to the practice hall. We were lead down a table with buns, a hamburger or chicken patty, condiments, baked beans, and potato salad. Which was fine. But once I had my plate full, then we went by a second table that was full of all kinds of homemade stuff, tuna and a variety of other salads, side dishes, and desserts. Damn, I wish I'd have seen that table first, it would have been adios, burger, beans, and p. salad.

3. Always be prepared to blame Mr M for any projected failures. I had a solo on the Dixieland number we played. In practice, I thought it went well, till Mr M suggested to me I didn't do something I should have - a "smear" from one note to another to start the solo out. I'd never done that before, and immediately got all emotionally distraught because I then felt expected to do that and I'm not good at it, and my confidence collapsed like a wet house of cards. As it does. So on Sunday, after a few dismal stabs at it, I decided that I'd just stand up, play my solo, and when I screwed up that very opening smear and it lead to ruination of the whole rest of the solo that followed, I'd just blame Mr M and not speak to him for several hours. Of course, the smear went OK and I went on to play the solo with no snafus.

4. Never order fried apples from Cracker Barrel. They suck. They don't peel them! Whoever heard of unpeeled fried apples!

5. A night of drinking beer, wine, Goldschlager, wine, Goldschlager, and vodka can leave you not nearly as drunk as you'd think, and with no hangover. Still don't know how I escaped that one. Had fun though, socializing and watching the Hokies lose. And catching part of what has to be one of the dumbest movies of its decade, "Tango and Cash."

6. People generally like Sherman, even if they don't know who he is. People from the Watauga band remembered him from when they were up in B'burg (most called him my "little man"), and some others even knew he was Sherman. Most were very impressed by his new clarinet, too, by the way. What a goodwill ambassador that boy is.

7. Policemen can have a heart. Friday evening I was late and in a very rushed attempt to get to B'burg. Zooming my way out of town, I looked in the mirror to see those familiar flashing lights. "Oh, shit," I thought, and looked at my speedometer. It was on 65, and that was after I'd taken my foot off the gas. I was probably going about 70. Just not paying attention. A young trooper came up to the car, asked for license and registration, I handed over the license - and couldn't find my current registration. I knew I had it, and I was just leafing through all my papers, leafing, leafing. Finally the trooper said (and I quote), "Well, ma'am, just give me your expired registration, I'm not givin' you a ticket nohow." How I got out of that I've no idea. The only thing I can possibly imagine is that the state is having a big "click-it or ticket" campaign, and maybe when they pulled me over and I was wearing my seat belt, they had a little mercy. Whatever the case was, I sure was grateful.

8. I'm not the best person at trivia (non-pop culture variety). On the way home yesterday, we had a little trivia quiz on the bus. 29 questions, standard stuff everyone should know (which hand does the Statue of Liberty hold her torch in, how many matches in a standard book). Not only did I not win, not only did I not come in second (I came in third), I only got 21 right. Shame upon me.

9. You'd be surprised how much fun a squishy rubber chicken can be. For no other reason than he was lying in the back seat of the betmobile(which is rapidly becoming the heapingpilesoftrashmobile), we decided to bring along my squishy rubber chicken. He's actually Mr M's rubber chicken, but Mr M hates his guts, so I have to be his caretaker. He's about 6 inches long, and has a little rotund belly, a rubber outside, and the same insides that stress balls have. So he's squishy. Anyway, we had fun with him at Oktoberfest, and decided what the hell. The bus crowd liked the Squishy Chicken. His best trick was being stuffed into the box of Chicken In A Biscuit crackers, so he popped out at everyone who reached in for a treat.

10. Mr M can still come up with a good one-liner. During the concert, after the first song, Mr M caught my eye and said, "After every song I still have the urge to sing 'Ein Prosit.'"


Hello, folks. It's Monday and time for another hell-hath-no-fury round of Acromania. We have a guest judge this week! And in fact, the next several weeks! Wooooo! This time it'll be that sex machine himself, Mike.

Rules: everyone gets three tries to make the best acronym they can using the letters below, randomly drawn each week from the acrobasket. Then tomorrow night, (11ish or so?), Mike shall pick the winners and there'll be shouts of "hallelujah" and cries of "oh, damn."

Ready for the letters? Here they are:


OK, there you have it. Time to acro!

Friday, November 07, 2003

Hello, buds and budettes.

It's Friday, and I'm getting ready to skip town so I can be closer to the bus that loads tomorrow morning at 8:15 for the polytet. I won't be back till late Sunday, so I thought I'd send something into the ether to last me the weekend.

It's an odd thing, actually. I have this disk. This A-drive disk that I store blogs on that I've written at work, or written parts of at work, or, like my creepy "dead client" blog, written some of and decided to bail on before they're over. Yesterday I found this disk in my purse, and put it into the drive of the computer here at TheCompanyIWorkFor - which is a distinct no-no, according to the corporate weasels - to see what all was on it. And there was a file I couldn't place. It was called "I'm Fine."

I opened up the file and read it. I distinctly remember writing it, I distinctly remember the experience it's about and what I was thinking at the time. But I didn't remember it ever being a blog. I looked back to the beginning of the new Betland and didn't see it. I looked back through the old blog and didn't see it. Then it hit me. I'd written it during the Big Blog Block of 2003. It was one I tried to publish that went into the netherworld. It made me wonder how many others I wrote that disappeared into this netherworld - the "Pleasure Island" for blogs.

So I decided today's entry would be that blog, written October 2d. Only last month, and yet emotionally, a long, long time ago. It's nothing monumental, nothing really even that good, but when I re-read it, I can just remember exactly how I felt when I wrote it. How I felt when I was waiting there in the hospital. I don't know, I just felt a kind of affinity for it. So here it is.

I'm Ready For My Close-Up, Mr DeMille

I had to have some medical tests done today. I had to have vials of blood extracted from my body. And during this experience, a thought was present.

I think I'd make a good actress.

It's not the first time I've thought it. I actually went to class play auditions when I was in high school. Only when it came time to pick a part and read for it, I chickened out and went to sign up for a "backstage" committee. So long Sara Bernhardt, hello, Eve Harrington.

I'm good at memorization. I remember lines of dialogue from movies, lyrics of songs, and even pieces of conversations vividly. I read well. I like to put emotions and voices to dialogue in reading. I even "cast" my books. When reading a book, I cast the parts, and as I read what's before me, I turn it into a movie in my mind. That may be why it takes me so long to read anything - I'm trying to get everything just right for the movie in my head. (This last thing can also come back to bite you in the ass when the book you've lovingly casted and directed becomes a shitty motion picture with a bunch of jerks in all the roles.)

There are but a few small things holding me back. Let's see, between the fact that I hate seeing images of myself, and my, well, non-beauty, and that it's terribly uncomfortable for me to be in front of people, maybe an actor's life is not for me. Well, a real actor, anyway.

I still act, though. Of sorts.

I don't think I'd be revealing any big secrets here if I said I've been teetering on the edge of total collapse lately. My mind's a racetrack of self-defeating, despairing, and downright evil thoughts. And yet to the outside world, well, most of it, anyway, I'm a smiling, laughing, happy old fool. "As happy as if she had good sense," my friend says.

I've always been able to do this, at least since I've been an adult. I do it very well at work, smile through the chewings out, friendly and caring while still thinking about the $900 hospital bill and the lawyer's office, making happy small talk with people while thinking about family illness, or death, or loneliness. I don't know, maybe that's not so much a me-intensive trait.

That's the thought my mind rested upon at the bloodletting.

I have to go to the hospital for the tests. There's always a longish wait, in with all walks of life, the rich, poor, infirmed, elderly, kids, teens, the washed and the unwashed of our little area here. I always go in alone, with a book, am polite to the lab people, wait my turn, smile at people, and adopt a happy face. A happy face that belies my thinking behind the mask of that book.

Today I found myself furtively glancing around at the other people waiting. Most stared blankly up at the TV suspended from the ceiling. It was "I Love Lucy," but no one seemed to be smiling. Some looked around for magazines, others talked to a loved one accompanying them. I watched the hospital volunteers behind the desk. The lab workers busily scurrying around.

"Are they like me?" I wondered. "Do they hide as well? And what would I find behind the blank faces, the business-like ones? Worry? Despair? Crises of faith? Hope?"

I guess we'll never know.

I finally got inside to get my blood drawn. It took three needle sticks and two lab techs to get a good flowing vein. They kept telling me to turn my head while they stuck me, but I cheerfully said, "No, I gotta watch." And I do. That's why I hate shots in the ass. If there's a needle going into my body, I gotta see it go in. The third stick, when they kept moving the needle in and out and around, trying to get a vein, pressing over top of the needle with a lab tech's finger, got to be a little painful. They apologized. "No, that's OK, I'm still all right," I said, getting shaky and irritated and pale. They finally moved to the right spot and the blood shot out into the vial. The two vials, actually.

One gauze square and band-aid and a short wait later, I got to start home. On the way out I saw a client from the office. We exchanged pleasantries. "Hello, and how are you?"

"Oh, I'm fiiiiiiiine," I said in my hick accent.

"I'm fiiiiiiiine," I lied.

I'd like to thank the Academy....

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Damn. I Need To Vacuum.

You know it's going to be one of those days when you start it out flat on your ass in the floor.

I have one of those clear plastic things that my computer chair sits on. You know, like a hard plastic floor mat so you can wheel your ass around like a big shot. Only I'm not a big shot, because my current clear plastic thing has several cracks in it and I've not replaced it with a new clear plastic thing. So therefore, I have these ruts and holes in my clear plastic thing. And sometimes the wheels of the chair get caught in the holes in the clear plastic thing, and not only do I not wheel my ass around like a big shot, I don't do anything, because my chair won't budge.

Today, as with any other day, I bashed my alarm clock till it quit beeping, fell out of bed, and stumbled a la Frankenstein Monster to the computer to check my email. After reading several pieces of junk and a genuinely funny rant from Stennie, I pushed my chair backwards with my feet.

It caught a hole in my clear plastic thing. And before I could say, "Oh, shit," I was in the floor.

It was actually quite funny, and shortly after my mind processed, "Oh, shit, indeed, I am in the floor," I began giggling. It didn't hurt, and the reason it didn't hurt was what was so funny.

The chair turned completely over sideways. Normally, especially with the base of it stable (because it was caught in a hole), this would have thrown me sideways as well, which would have hurled my precious head right into the wall beside my computer. But for some unknown reason I seemed to have been hurled ass-first, upright, smack dab into the middle of the floor. With a decided *slap!* as my amply fleshy backside touched down.

And so there I sat. Or was sat. Cross-legged in the floor. Whole new perspective on life from down there, you know. I certainly realized how filthy the carpet gets under my computer desk, anyway. And I found my green pen.

Ever Heard A Doggie Giggle?

A story.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Too Darn Hot

It's hot.

As I sit and write this, it's 74 degrees. Monday and Tuesday it got up to 80. When I left for Oktoberfest Saturday, the last Oktoberfest of the year, November 1st, it was 86.

It's hot. And I'm not happy.

I've never been much of a summer fan. I'll admit, as I get older I seem to mind it a bit less than I once did, but for the most part, I like to swim, and after that summer can kiss my ass. I don't like the sun bearing down onto my head, I don't lie out to get a tan, I don't like to eat outside, I don't like the beach for more than about one day, and all the heat means to me is an opportunity to crank the air conditioner a little higher.

And I know the world's changing and the ozone's disappearing and hell's getting closer and all that, but it still kills me that when I was a kid it used to start getting cold in September. Now we're lucky if we're wearing coats in December. In fact, I don't even worry about winter coats anymore, I need one so little.

So it's now November 5, and 74 degrees. And to add insult to injury, one of the houses I see on my way to work now has Christmas decorations in the yard. Bless their hearts, at least they waited till Halloween was over.

And their Christmas decorations break the number one Bet Says Never Do This rule for lawn accoutrements. Piling too much shit on.

There's nothing I hate more than Christmas decorations that feature the nativity scene, and Santa's peering over the manger and Rudoph's stepping one of his hooves on a wise man's robe and Frosty the Snowman looks to be having a private tete-a-tete with Joseph while Mary's busy shooing the elves away from the ox and ass. I'm generally not a fan of segregation, but people, people! Keep the sacred and the secular on opposite sides of the yard, please.

The only time this combining of cultures, as it were, works for me concerns the Christmas when dear TaytieMac, now a handsome young man, was just a babe. Maybe 4. His mom set up a little nativity scene for him in his bedroom. And she went in there one day to see that TM had placed a little Cruella DeVille action figure in the nativity scene. She took it away and tossed it in his toy pile.

The next time she went in his room, Cruella was back in the nativity scene.

This went on for about two days, and finally she told him Cruella was a toy and didn't go in the Christmas scene. He was disappointed. My sweet Mr TenderHeart, I guess just wanted Cruella to be included in Christmas, too.

So unless you're adding Cruella to the mix, keep your scenes separated. And at least wait till the temperature hits 50 to set them all out. If in fact it ever decides to get that cold.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Two Quick Points:

1. Remember the Polytet of August?? This weekend there's going to be another one, only this time our band travels to Boone, NC to play. We're renting a bus to go down, it's going to be a lot of fun.

2. The Sauerkraut Band website,, now has a guestbook! Go check out the site (which Mr M maintains) and say hello. (you know, I have a guestbook, too. did you know that?)


The time has come, o my droogs and bretheren, to bestow some acro honors. A little of the Ludwig Van, if you please....

(It's been way too long since I saw that movie.)

This week's letters were A L H A. And we had a boatload of entries this week! Woooo! Here they are:

*A less hairy asshole.
*Ah Love??? Ha!!!!! Assholes!!!
*Assholes love hating assholes.
*Aliens love Harry Anderson.
*Al's last hurrah: assassination.
*Apparently Linda has asthma.
*Allah likes honey, apples.
*Applying lotion, heavy anticipation
*Ask Louis, he's answering.
*Arsonists left Hawaii ablaze.
*Ain't learning Hebrew again.
*Ask 'lizabeth: Hokies awesome.
*Artie loves Halitosis Anonymous.
*Attention, literati: hokum abounds.
*Alsace-Lorraine? Highly arrogant.
*All lasses have asses
*Awwww, little holy anus!
*Another lonely hooker asphyxiated.
*Alan Leanspan Hates Atkins
*Arabs lack harlots, areolas
*Aging Llamas Hurl Abundantly
*Always laughing has advantages.
*Alligators love having apples.
*Andrea looks half asleep.

Wow. I don't know what's going on at the friar's house, but there's a lot of you out there thinking about asses this week.

First of all, I liked Jellybean's sad and cautionary "Another lonely hooker asphyxiated." Maybe she should have taken that job at Taco Bell.

I also liked Kevin & Kellie's "Alligators love having apples." It just conjures up a vision of happy alligators hanging around the swamp eating caramel apples and having a good old time.

It was really hard to come up with a winner though, so I'm giving an "Almost Winner Runner-Up" to Stennie for "Aliens love Harry Anderson." I'm sure they do!

And this week's winner goes to Mike, who, even though he tried to suck up to me with a Hokies acro, wins with "Ain't learning Hebrew again."

Thanks to all who played, it was really hard to decide this week.

Anyone wanna judge??

Monday, November 03, 2003

A Movie Classic

Since I told you a story of how I made Mr M laugh, I think tonight I'll tell you a quick story of his making me laugh. Not that it was his most shining example of wit, but it was lasting, because I still think of it.

I was telling you I wanted to blog about some of the movies I'd seen in the past few months, and tonight I'll tell you about one of those movies. Was it the best one? Nope. Was it the worst? Yep. In fact, I almost didn't include it in my list out of pure embarrassment, but afterwards I figured, hell, I suffered through this thing, I'm using it for my movie list.

The movie in question is that monumental classic "Robinson Crusoe On Mars."

We caught this classic late one night on AMC. Very late. Excruciatingly late. So late, in fact, that Mr M pleaded for me to please let him give up on it and go to bed. He cried, he begged. I refused. Something was drawing me to this movie, and I didn't want to watch it alone.

The story of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars," which will hereafter be known as RCoM, was the story we know. Robinson (an astronaut) gets stranded on a desert island (Mars), and tries to survive as best he can, finding his own Friday (a renegade alien who looks and acts remarkably like some sort of weird-ass Indian) along the way. But it's so much more. Or less. Or something.

I mean, let's get real here. It was a cheapass thrown-together low-budget crapfest. But in a kind of a fun way.

So here's the deal. RC, his spaceman partner (played by Adam West), and a monkey (got me there, I always thought they sent the monkeys up instead of the men) go on a mission to Mars. Things go awry, as they do out there in space, and there's a crash that kills Adam West (yes, I was excited too) and leaves RC and his monkey to figure out the big bad world of Mars. Friday comes into things a lot later, and we won't get to him, because I'm a very nice person and therefore not going to sit here and tell you the whole story of this movie.

The middle of the movie is post-crash, and is all about RC and his simian buddy trying to survive. RC's rationing air, and water, and food, leaving a little out for the monkey. Who's not eating or drinking. RC takes this as some sort of "emotional distress" on our monkey friend's part, and it takes him forever to discover the reason for this is because the monkey's just not fuckin' hungry! Because he's discovered a limitless stash of food and water on his own.

The water looks just like plain old water, and I guess it takes a desperate man and monkey to just jump right in, swimming and bathing and drinking and everything elsing in this water without even boiling it first. But the food is in one form and one form only. And yes, you can take this how you like. It's in the form of a pod. Of sorts.

It actually looks like what we called as kids "cat tails." You know, the plants with a stem and a little oblong brown pod at the end. Anyway, RC sees monkey eating pod and follows suit. "Hey, these things are pretty good!" And now they're in high cotton, eatin', drinkin', swimmin', and livin' it up.

Then one night RC gets the brilliant idea to make pod soup.

I'll tell you the movie's punch line first. When the pods are cooked instead of eaten raw, they're poisonous. And also a hallucinogen. So RC gets mighty ill and has some visions not enjoyed since Timothy Leary laid on the couch and listened to a Grateful Dead album.

But here's the real punch line. We were sitting watching this movie, me and Mr M. And the scene where RC eats the pod soup and starts to be sick... Well, I've seen bad acting and I've seen bad overacting. Most of it involving Sting or William Shatner. But the guy who plays RC (a fellow named Paul Mantee, sorry Paul, I'm sure you're a nice guy) puts on a performance that beats just about everything I've ever seen.

After his bowl of soup, RC immediately starts to feel, well, ill. He winces. He grasps the table. He tries to move, but can't. Finally, he pulls himself up off his chair (well, actually, I think it's a rock), he's hanging onto the table, he's trying to stand up, dragging his feet into place, wincing, contorting. And he gets almost in an upright position, then doubles over in pain again, still hanging onto the table.

Cue Mr M.

At that point, Mr M decided to provide us with a sound effect. A large "pbbbbbbbbbbt."

I lost it.

I lost it because I was wryly, silently thinking the same thing. "Apparently the only thing this man had to go on as an actor as far as being poisoned is concerned was that time he had searing gas pain."

And I also lost it because I couldn't help but think that back in the mid 60s (the movie was '64, I think), when that cheapass movie played in every town across America for the week or so it was allotted, up in every balcony of every theater of every town, there had to have been at least one wiseass kid who did the same thing, making a raspberry that resonated throughout the whole movie house.

And I also lost it because, well, it was fuckin' funny. Stennie said it best when she said "farts are funny." I guess that goes even when the fart is manufactured with the lips.


Ooooh! I'm late, I'm late, I'm sorry I just got home! (No, that doesn't rhyme, but it's true.)

It's Monday again and time for another Novemberrific round of Acromania! I shall be judging this week, since I didn't have anyone clambering all over me to be a guest judge. Really guys - anyone who wants to judge, just let me know.

The rules, quickly. Everyone gets three chances to enter and give me the best acronym possible to the corresponding letters below, which are drawn from the exalted acrobasket. Tomorrow night, 10pm-ish, I shall judge which acro was in fact the best of all. And announce the winner, who'll be the new proud owner of a big plate of nothing! Except my good wishes, and the envy of acroers everywhere. And this week's letters are:

Oooooooooh, a first time occurrence at Acrochallenge. I've drawn a blank tile! Do I give you a free letter to acro with, or draw again? Hmmmm, I'll draw again, but if anyone has an opinion on that, let me know, could be interesting.


There you have it. You know what to do now....

Sunday, November 02, 2003


Oh! Mein Lederhosen!

Yes, Oktoberfest is kaputfinito. We finished up last night in a furious flurry of high notes, alcohol consumption, rowdiness, "Unter Donner & Blitzen," and helpless giggles. For some reason, I had the uncontrollable urge to yell all night, at the top of my lungs, "Oh! Mein lederhosen!" This was because Mr M and I (and Sherman) gave Ed a little gift to commemorate the ending of Oktoberfest this year, a set of Wind-up Hopping Lederhosen from Archie McPhee. ("Happy Bavarian Folkpants With A Mind Of Their Own!") The packaging featured a little cartoon German man running, in his underwear, after his pants yelling, "Oh! Mein Lederhosen!" It seems to be the only thing I can say in a German accent.

Mr M awarded me the "Line of Oktoberfest" Award for my exclamation, on the 12th of our 12 performances, with 10 minutes left in the show: "Hey! We need to tune!"

I also, about halfway through the evening, put on the bavarian hat reserved for the leaders of the march-around, and realized it turned me into an instant smartass. "Instant smartass! Just add hat!"

The surprise I was working on yesterday morning seemed to go well. I fashioned Mr Peabody himself a set of lederhosen (Oh! Mein Lederhosen!), and he tagged along with a baritone to sit in last night. Seth, who plays baritone, was pleased to have him hang on his music stand. Here's a pic of the maestro.

We hung around afterwards to help with the "teardown" process (where all the lights, sound equipment, etc are taken down), but seeing as how I 1) know nothing about any kind of technical equipment, and 2) was pretty much blitzed, I ended up sitting and looping some cables around for storage. And being way too happy.

And then it was time to say goodbye to everyone. And as glad as I am in one way to have my life (or at least my weekends) back for awhile, I'm gonna miss those guys and all the fun we have up there. It's been a blast.


I Folded My Napkin

I made Mr M laugh today.

Today was an odd day at Mr M's. We slept late, and had coffee (I also had my apple turnover from last night, my one dessert from all of Oktoberfest), and then, as soon as we were awake, it was time for Mr M to show me the video he wanted me to see. A video of a therapy session conducted by his personal hero, Dr Albert Ellis.

And so we watched, and in the grand tradition of me and Mr M and the subject of therapy rearing its ugly head, there was a fight. It all ended in tears. And then there was the pouting and sulking and everything that went with it.

Then we played clarinets!

I should have known my psyche would overpower whatever I talent I may or may not have. I was holding back, my fingers were getting in their own way, I kept missing notes, then stopping. And every time I stopped, Mr M said, "Don't stop! Come on, play, don't stop!" which unnerved me even more.

"You wanna quit?" he kept asking.

"No! Yes! I don't know!"

And so we'd play again. Stop, start, miss a note, hit myself in the head, shake my hands around where they'd gone numb, and walk that fine line between helpless laughter and uncontrollable sobbing.

"You wanna quit?"


"Well, come on, let's play, don't think about it, you're thinking about it, just play, quit stopping!"

Finally my entire being became a heaping mass of jello. My spine disintegrated, my muscles packed in, my nervous system gave up, and I fell over onto my stand, face buried in the music, body heaving with the laughter of a woman who's lost the will to live.

And the reason I couldn't stop laughing was because of the image that had entered my head. Do you know the scene from the movie "The Miracle Worker" where Annie Sullivan locks the dining room and is teaching Helen Keller to eat breakfast? And there's fighting, and food-throwing, and biting, and slapping, and cold water-dousing, and screaming, and plate-breaking, and crying, and hair-pulling? And at the end of it all, out comes Annie, hair askew, clothes covered in food, scratched and bloodied, walking out of the completely wrecked dining room, announcing to Captain Keller, "She folded her napkin."

There are days when that's what practicing the clarinet is for me. Exactly.

Only poor Mr M gets to be Annie Sullivan, all torn and bloodied, and I get to be Helen Keller, in the dark in so many more ways than one. And some days may end up total failures, and some other days there may be scrambled eggs all over the floor and broken plates, but I end up with a folded napkin.

I told this to Mr M and he got the analogy. And enjoyed it.

And that was today. We finished the piece. My napkin was folded. But I distinctly remember Mr M's hair askew and glasses sitting crooked on his face.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

One Down, One To Go

Last Oktoberfest is tonight. I'm still rushing around trying to get ready. Spent the morning working on a little surprise. I don't know, I'm happy overall with the results. I don't know if that's just because it's all over and I have a completed product or because it's really not that bad. I'll have pictures tomorrow.

Saw a feat of Herculean proportions last night. Seth drank a bottle of Jagermeister. And I don't mean one of those little pint bottles you tuck inside your suit jacket. I mean the big square substantial ones. It's like the Eddie Izzard bit about Pol Pot killing 100,000 people. It's so incomprehensible to you, you finally just say, "....well done! I'm very impressed!"

Before we started playing last night, Ed, as he always does, stood before us and said a few words, "Last weekend, small crowd tonight, but let's have a lot of fun, Seth can't feel his face."

Well, I laughed.