Sunday, February 29, 2004

It's Here! It's Here! WOOOO!

I know it must be Oscar night - Stennie's Oscar Drinking Game rules are finally posted!

Saturday, February 28, 2004

Thank Yous & Linky McLinklink

I'll be scarce this weekend; not only is this afternoon the first gig of the reformed (really! we've reformed, officer!) Clarinet Choir, but I'm also having a late-ish birthday celebration with Mr M tonight. He's making me tuna pasta salad and there could be surprises.

Speaking of birthdays, yes, mine was Thursday and overnight I became more feeble and senile. I guess it really does work that way, huh. However, I'd like to just say a huge public thank-you to everyone out there for their gifts, cards, well-wishes, kind words, thoughts, and, yes, singing telegrams. This was to be the first birthday that I can remember I would be spending all by myself and instead of it being a quiet day of reflection it turned into a happy, laugh-filled day. I've said it here before, but it can't be said enough, world: I really do have the coolest friends on earth.

Let's talk about being offended some more. I saw something yesterday on e-Bay that's so offensive it's beyond words. I can't believe Mr Peabody himself hasn't gotten his crack team of lawyers (of which he is one, of course) to sue over this abortion. It must be seen to be believed:

Go here and gird your loins

Oh, bllllleeeeeccccccch. It just makes me shiver.

On the other hand, though, this little item is going to be mine:

Go here and kvell

Wish me luck on that one. He'd look great beside my hopping lederhosen, walking ice cream cone, waddling penguin, lumbering robot, and scooting Mr Burns and Smithers in a swan boat.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 26, 2004

No Offense, But....

I've been meaning to change my i-mood. It's read "pissed off" since last Wednesday, when I was actually pissed off. But lately I've been relatively calm and quite happy and thinking, "I need to change that bad boy." And now, here I find myself pissed off again. So I guess I'll leave it.

I have feelings just like everybody else does, but frankly I'm getting pretty damn sick of everybody everywhere being offended over everything.

Everybody was offended because they saw Janet Jackson's boob. They were offended because it may have been planned, and because it came in the middle of that family-oriented event the Super Bowl, where men get together and try to pound the shit out of each other, then dance around like idiots celebrating the fact, and it came in the middle of some overwhelmingly ugly and bad taste-laden "entertainment" everyone was enjoying. Imagine. A boob right in the middle of all that fun.

And so the accusations started and the apologies rolled. The corporations denied, and Ms Jackson herself mea culpa'ed her way into submission, and Justin Timberlake said all the right things and squirmed his way out of trouble, and now we can't see any live TV anymore.

And even without the live TV, CBS and Outkast got in trouble at the Grammys, because Outkast decided to wear indian fringe and headdresses, and come out onstage by way of a really cool-looking teepee. And the American Indian community was livid, and demanded apologies.

And so CBS this time did not deny, but started genuflecting while walking backwards, asking forgiveness for their sins. And I was wondering where the sins were. I mean, the band looked cool. Indian dress is neat. Indian boots rock like nobody's business. And personally, the Teepee - at least the kind made of bedsheets - has given me many hours of peace and comfort in my bedroom when I was little.

So guys, you're cool. They're paying you a fucking compliment. Do you see them dressing like cowboys? No! Cowboys aren't that cool. They like you!

Now, sometime in the middle of all this, the people north of us, those Canadian folks, well, the ones from Quebec anyway, got their French-speaking noses all out of joint because Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, from Conan O'Brien's show, came to Quebec and proceeded to - and I know this is a shock coming from an insult comic dog, folks - proceeded to make fun of the natives. He said such horrible psyche-threatening things as, "you're obnoxious and dull," and "I can smell your crotch from here."

And there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, Canadian teeth anyway, and Conan was right there on the air the next week apologizing, and to his credit, at least he did it in a funny sort of way. But he shouldn't have been doing it at all.

Now, let's forget for a minute that Triumph is a puppet. He's a fuckin' piece of rubber, for cryin' out loud. He's a piece of rubber! Let's remember this. Our insulting friend stood outside in New York a couple of years ago and made the worst fun imaginable of Star Wars geeks. For a long time. Bad fun. And they all laughed! Oh, those simpler times, I long for them.

So anyway, now I'm reading that, with days left to go till the Oscars, people are starting to rag on "Lost In Translation." They say it makes fun of the Japanese. It makes fun of their behavior, and that their L's and R's get mixed up. It's degrading!

Yeah, well, I saw "Lost In Translation." And found nothing degrading about it at all. The Japanese are portrayed as, well, fun, nice, happy, goofy people. Just like people are. Everywhere. There's a Japanese Graham Norton. A Japanese stupid hip commercial director. And yeah. There's a lady escort whose Ls and Rs sound alike. So what - you've never encountered a hooker with a speech impediment? You know you have.

At least no studio, or Sofia Coppola herself, has come out with an apology. Sofia said this is how she found life to be when she was in Tokyo - a place she loved. Oh, Sofia. You know that's not going to placate anyone!

You know what offends me? Turning on the TV and seeing a woman plug a hole in her rowboat with a tampon. Seeing Mel Gibson's fucking face one more time, telling us his wife's probably going to hell, but that's OK, or that he can't say anything against his father, who's either a direct descendant of Hitler or clinically insane. Or both.

And you know what else offends me? Having to listen to Cialis commercials telling me that if my erection lasts longer than four hours I need to seek medical treatment from a doctor. I don't want to hear about anyone's erection, I don't care how spectacular it is or how long it lasts. If your erection is still alive after four hours my remedy for that is to cut the mother off. That's what you get for taking that shit anyway. So when is Cialis going to apologize to me for making my television watching experience so traumatic? Or grease my palm with one half of one percent of their Cialis earnings for one day?

You know what else offends me? The fact that we have a weasely-faced piece of shit president who graduated from Yale and yet still says "new-cu-lar." Who do I call at the news station to apologize to me for hearing that?

You know, in forty-something years of living I've endured every fat joke known to man. Ever really watch commercials? Ever notice the person who uses the wrong brand x product is fat? Generally with a bad hairdo and dress sense to boot. Who's out there protesting for me? Oh, yeah, that's right. Those militant fat people everyone hates. And makes fun of in their commercials.

By the way, I asked Mr M the other night, on behalf of not only the women in my office but women everywhere, why men are so wrapped up in their penises, why their entire universe revolves around that dangly thing. His answer? An exasperated, "That's nothing but women's perceptions." I tried to argue the point, but he stopped listening. I guess his mind had gone elsewhere. If you get my drift.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Five Reasons the Bumbleberry Cafe Rocks (dual reasons)

1. Gooey Pumpkin Cake/Sweetie Owners
2. Loaded Nachos/Low Prices
3. Meat Loaf Sandwiches/Daily Specials
4. Butterscotch Pie/Quick Service
5. Fried Bologna Sandwiches/Hefty Portions

Five Grocery Store Items or Punk Band Names

1. Rid-X
2. Potted Meat
3. Stool Softener
4. Generic Peas
5. Anchovy Paste


Well! Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well. Well.

Did I say well enough?

Anyhoo, the entries are in and the judging has begun. And ended. And may I just say that it was a hard week of judging, because there were quite a few acros I really, really liked. So if yours doesn't show up in the winners, don't think it wasn't a goodie; it probably was.

This week's letters were: R T O S P N. The entries:

*Ring tailed ottars spitting plug nickles.
*Roasted taters, onions, sauteed pigs nuckles.
*Randy teens oppose stupid parental negatives
*Read this, o sagacious pundit: neener!
*Responsive to others, she panders nearby.
*Regal, towering overhead, soaring -- penguins? Never.
*Renal Telepathics Only See Peeing Nuns
*Risking Toes, Orville Sauntered, Perniciously Naked
*Rilke's Totally Obscene Sonnetts Petrified Nietzsche
*Roses? Twelve offered. Suitor proposed nicely.
*Rump tender often? See Proctologist now!
*Really? Ten orgasms?? Someone's pretty naughty.
*Running the only sadomasochism parlor nearby.
*Rip Torn, or studly Paul Newman?
*Red tights, orange shoes, pink nightie.
*Rarely, Toni Organizes Socks. Perfectly Natural.
*Really Toby Only Seems Paranoid, Needy.
*Rusty, Tarnished. Olga's Spoons. Polished Never.

Well, I'm sure if Mr M were judging, he'd choose that "studly Paul Newman" one. You know, Mr M has a thang for Paul. But he's not judging, I am.

And so, two honorable mentions this week. First is LilyG's "Read this, o sagacious pundit: neener!" Because frankly, it's downright knee-slapping hilarious anytime Lily uses the words neener, weener, or nanny nanny poo poo.

Honorable mention #2 goes to Kellie with "Rusty, Tarnished. Olga's Spoons. Polished Never." Because not only is it a good acro, but I've seen Olga's spoons, and they're a smudgy disgrace.

Our runner-up award goes to MSAGRO with his "Rump tender often? See Proctologist now!" His proposal with the roses one was sweet, but this one made me laugh and wince at the same time.

But our esteemed winner this week is Michelle with her "Renal Telepathics Only See Peeing Nuns." It's clever, it's funny, it says "I'm an acro star."

So, congratulations to Michelle and everyone else. See you next week, I hope.

Monday, February 23, 2004


It's Monday! I have a headache! But who gives a shit! It's time for another acros-cure-all-ills-mental-and-physical round of Acromania!

The guest judge this week will It's me, isn't it? Yes, I'll be judging your acros this week.

The rules are as always: everyone gets three entries to make the best acros they can to the letters below, which are drawn from the omnipresent acrobasket. I shall judge tomorrow night around 9pm est, and pick the winners, and they'll all phone home to their nearest and dearest with the good news.

So let's get to it. This week's letters are:


Now, put your thinking caps on, tie them under your chins, and adjust the fuzzy balls on the top. And go!

Sunday, February 22, 2004

The Return (again) of Nervous William, pt 2

(this is pt 2 of a 2-part blog. if you're at all interested, start one entry down, please.)

OK. So, where were we.

When our story ended yesterday, my friend Nervous William had flipped out, proposed to me, and been sent away for confinement in a psychiatric facility. As anyone who proposes to me should be, I suppose. This was in March of 2001.

And so I didn't hear from William for a long time. I kept tabs on him, through his aunt, but let it be known that no matter how much I cared about him, I was going to be caring from a distance from now on. The spring passed, as did the summer, I think he was "back with us" in the fall, which was when I moved into the Poderosa.

And then Christmas rolled around, and I made my fatal mistake. Thinking about Nervous William out there on the holidays, I broke down and sent the man a Christmas card. Yep, I made that decision all by my lonesome. My buddies told me I was a fool. My family told me I should watch out. But you know, Mamaw Grasso, what did I inherit from her but a tender heart, and I was thinking of Wills and thought a little note of Christmas cheer might do him some good.

And all was well. Till January. Then the phone calls started again. And it was at that exact point I knew I'd been wrong and everyone around me had been right. Now, to the boy's defense, he'd developed a new strategy; he would not call me at home. Only at work, a plan that he adheres to to this day. But the calls started, short and sporadic at first, and then sporadic but longer. And rambling.

And that's how it's been since, really. A spate of rambling phone calls to the office, the occasional visit to the office (as he's also confined the visiting to there). Then a period of silence during which I'll find out there's some sort of "hospitalization." And a call from his mom telling me what a bad way he's in, and would I please call him, cause it's his birthday, or send him a card, because he always asks for me.

And like the total bigass fool I am, I do it.

The confinement before last came shortly after he called me and asked if I'd come to his house and watch movies with him. And I said very plainly "no." No reason, no raincheck, just "no." Then there was another, more serious, confinement not long after that one. During which I called once, at behest of the mother.

And yes, I ask myself that question too, folks, the one you're all asking yourself. Why the fuck can't you just tell these people to leave you the hell alone? God knows I'd like to. I mean, seriously, whatever bonds of friendship I ever felt for William are more than long gone, trampled to death by his behavior, his demons, his whatever.

But there's something that nags at me. What is it? No idea. Is it trying too hard to get inside William's head? And thinking, no matter what hell he's making of our lives out here, what's in there? He's probably thinking his friends have forsaken him and he doesn't know why. And then I think, you idiot! Of course he knows why, he's the most manipulative charming bastard I've ever known in my life!

And then I think, well, he's sick. He's got a disease, just like someone with cancer, or MS. And yeah, that's true. But I know in my heart that he needs help with his disease, and it's help I can't give him, no more than I could cure cancer. No matter how many rambling phone calls I listen to or hours I sit at my desk at work and let him waltz in and out regaling me with wherever his life (or head) is at the moment, it's not going to make him - or me - better.

And finally, I think, there but for the grace of God go I. I get depressed too. I have moments of helplessness, I feel sometimes like it's all too much. What if that were me; what if I couldn't reign myself in and get myself back on track? What if I turned into Nervous William?

The last confinement, the "serious" one (that coincided with some very bad behavior I can't really tell you about publicly) was quite lengthy. And he was home for several weeks before he started calling me, of course at work. But it's getting worse. And the visits to the office are starting. And they're starting to upset me. Worry me and piss me off.

When NW gets more manic, he has a certain habit - he lies. He'll tell me something going on his life, some injustice done to him, that without even investigating, I simply know is a lie. I know it's a lie. Time before last he was in the office he closed both doors to my office space and started telling me about a local minister. And how he went to this minister for some spiritual guidance and how he was mistreated. I knew it was a lie. I sat there and listened and let him get it out, but it was just another of his big fish stories.

Later that same day, as I was trying to get the office deposit done so the girls and I could get the hell outta work, he called. Sandy fended him off for a while, but eventually he got to me. And he started telling me about he was going to go back to school to get another degree in art. And I listened, and said fine, and started suggesting schools where he'd have to leave town to attend. (Even though this will never materialize. These things never materialize.)

He mentioned that he was probably too old to do all this, and I said in passing how, no he's not, Mr M was going back to school as we speak. Then Nervous William said something that sent a chill up my spine. He said, "I met Mr M." (using his name instead of "Mr M")

I sat there silent a moment. "You met Mr M." I repeated. "Oh, yes, I saw him at Kroger in B'field. He had taken your car and he was picking up breakfast items for the two of you one weekend morning. I was going to go up and introduce myself but I didn't want to be presumptuous."

This is not true. It can't be, because none of this has ever happened that it could be. I found myself being the object once again of some of the lying fantasy that fills his brain.

And it's at this exact point that I've had enough.

And I hope I still feel this way the next time he pops in, because I have to tell him that he needs a hobby and I'm not it. I know this. And I know that I need to not listen to my tender heart, or my pity, or his mother, or anything else. And I need to not worry that he'll end up in a hospital. I need to not worry about anything here. Except my own peace of mind.

Of course, I'm safe at home right now. All this is easy to say.

Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Return (again) of Nervous William, pt 1

There are things that seem to be constants in my life. Some are good, and some aren't so good. I know I will eventually get quite depressed. However, I also know that somehow I'll work myself out of it and be OK again. I know I'll get frustrated with the clarinet and my playing, and throw the horn on the couch, saying I'm never going to play again, then I'll pick it up, gingerly, and start playing again till I enjoy it.

But turn that equation around. I also know that I'll be going along, minding my own business, thinking everything's OK and I'm in, if not a happy place, then at least the place I'm supposed to be, and who will show up in my life but Nervous William. He's a constant; a little bubble hovering over my head who will eventually pop into real life before me.

Some of you know who Nervous William is already, you've (and thank you folks, I love you for it) had me pour my heart out about him to you previously. But I've never really blogged about him except in passing. In passing, probably, to tell you he'd showed up in my life again and Great Bouncing Icebergs, what the hell was I gonna do about it?

I've known Nervous William forever. Since we were kids. He was always the flamboyant one, talking too loud and too fast and waving his arms around. By the time we got to high school he was, if not one of my immediate clique of friends, certainly right on the peripherals of it. We never said "gay" back when I was in high school, there was no "gay." Guys like that were just "sissy." And most of the guys that we hung around with were sissies. Some of them went on to become gay; some didn't.

Anyway, after high school, we parted ways, NW went to art school in Pittsburgh, then migrated to Atlanta, we lost touch, and I didn't really care. I mean, don't get me wrong. I always liked William. Even with all the bitchiness and dishiness (and there was a lot - and I've been at the barbed end of it sometimes), there was something basically endearing about him. He could be very sweet. He was also a little crazy. And in the general catching up one does with people one sees from school, I found out he'd been "confined" a couple of times in sanitariums. As people are. I didn't give it much thought, to be honest.

On one of his breaks from art school, Nerv came to my house and asked if we could hang out one night. I said, sure, why not, and subsequently spent the evening in his car, driving around all over the place, with him running off at the mouth. He came out to me. "Yes, I can tell you this because you're one of the only people cool enough to understand it. I am gay." And hey, fine with me, I suspected it for years and who gives a fig. And if that makes someone think I'm cool for it, hey, all the better! He told me the nature of his "confinements" (he was apparently having trouble coming to grips with this orientation, and therefore tried to break into a church to gain Eternal Salvation). He begged me to come to art school with him, telling me how much fun it was and how great I'd do there. And for some reason I cannot define, that was the exact point at which my wariness of Nervous William began. I still liked him, I just didn't really feel that comfortable with him.

Needless to say, I didn't go away to art school (and look what it did for my fabulous career!!), and he did, and we lost touch for some time, even after he finished his sojourns and moved back into town. Then again, out of the blue, he showed up at my doorstep. Asking me to have lunch with him. And I was wary again, but he cajoled and I said yes.

And we had a ball. Honestly did. We went to lunch and sat in a back booth, smoking clove cigarettes and dishing about people we knew, we laughed like crazy, and it was a great time. And soon it became a, well, if not a regular, then a semi-regular occurrence, moving to dinners instead of lunches. We'd have dinner out every couple of weeks, talk, laugh, and it was OK.

And Nervous William was sweet. He'd send me flowers for no reason, and cards for no occasion, just to say "hi." And I'd remark to my friend Sandy, who reads too much into every situation, "You know, he really is a thoughtful guy." And she would say, "Elizabeth (as she says when I'm in trouble), I think he's being more than a thoughtful guy here. I think you need to have a talk with William." And I'd laugh and say pshaw, because she reads too much into every situation, right?

But then the phone started ringing too much. And that bothered me. See, there's something about me that I may as well explain, be it good or bad. I like having friends. Like it a lot, love having someone to hang out with. When I want to. When I don't, I like being by myself, doing my things, and with no interruptions from you, thank you very much. And that's never gotten me into trouble before, because I think basically a lot people are like that to an extent. NW is apparently not one of those people. And so the phone rang too much.

The calls were about nothing and about everything. Every crisis, every wonder, every thought he seemed to have at the moment. If I didn't answer the phone, it would continue ringing, 18, 28, 38 times, till I finally answered, and Wills told me everything on his mind. And I listened.

And one night I listened, ecstatically, when he told me he'd found the girl he wanted to date. Until he informed me it was me. I hemmed and hawed and tried to tell him that was the last thing he wanted, and he interrupted me to say "Let's go out to dinner Friday and we can talk about it then."

And at that dinner, it was the first time that I can remember that I was just flat-out honest with someone, no matter what the consequences. I told him no, no dating, not interested, you're my buddy, but no. And his bottom lip went out and he said, "But why?" I gave him two answers: "1) Because we're friends and that's all, and 2) Because you're gay."

He took offense at #2, and decided to argue the point, which was quite silly since just a month or so before he'd showed me a picture of a naked man he kept in his wallet. And it was at that exact point I realized this boy had problems I couldn't help him with. And when he asked, "Does this mean I'm not going to see you again?" there was a big flash above the door of the restaurant, it was red and said not only "Exit" but also "This way out of the hell that your life will one day become - take this door now!" And I, looking right at it, said, "No, we're still friends, sure we'll see each other." And the lights stopped flashing and I didn't go out that door.

And for a while things slowed down. But not for long. I started to decline the dinner invitations after a while, but the phone calls and visits wouldn't stop. They got worse. I couldn't walk in the door that the phone wasn't ringing and NW was at the other end.

Then one day Wills showed up at my door. I didn't let him in, but he stood outside it and rambled for upwards of 30 minutes before I finally politely backed out and got the door closed. Then around 6:30 that evening, I got The Phone Call.

The Phone Call started out as a rambling mess of garbage I could not for the life of me figure out. Then it started to fall into place. He said he'd bought me a puppy and he was going to bring it to me. He said he had something else for me too; a large diamond engagement ring. I started to cry. "William, please don't do this. Please do not do this to me." Then all hell broke loose. He started with a flurry of rage and expletives. And then finally, somewhere, I came out with a string of my own rage at him. And afterwards, I hung up the phone.

He called me back. He was completely different. He was pleading, begging me to forgive him. He was worried that I was so upset, I'd make myself sick. He said he was coming over to my house to make sure I was alright. I told him if I saw him within 100 ft of my house I'd call the police. I hung up.

And it was at that exact point that I realized, "I need to extricate this person from my life from now on."

And the next day, Nervous William went away for awhile. For about 3 months or so, in "confinement."

Pt 2 coming tomorrow....

Too Awake

I went to bed too early last night. Now I'm too awake. I'm also too hot, and too hormonal.

I woke up at 4:29 with a little trickle of sweat running down the back of my neck. It seems to still be there, suspended in time and space, neither evaporating nor continuing its run down my neck.

It's too hot. Too dark. Too quiet. My sheets are uncomforatble. They're poking at me. And I just realized that in a mere 50 hours, I have to get up and get ready for work.

But mainly I'm too awake.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Five TV Shows I've Been Watching Lately That I Really Shouldn't Tell You About

1. American Idol
2. Real World/Road Rules Challenge
3. Survivor All-Stars
4. The Today Show (from 7:00 to 8:45)
5. Friend or Foe

Five Kickass Songs With Even More Kickass Opening Lines

1. Here comes Johnny in again, with liquor and drugs - Iggy Pop, "Lust for Life"
2. I once had a girl, or should I say she once had me - the Beatles, "Norwegian Wood"
3. I wish you'd known me when I was alive; I was a funny fella - Elvis Costello, "God's Comic"
4. Monday gonna take a ride on the N train down to Coney Island, with the money I saved, gonna get me engraved - Fountains of Wayne, "Red Dragon Tattoo"
5. Belligerent ghouls run Manchester schools - spineless swine, cemented minds - the Smiths, "Headmaster Ritual"

Five Things I'm Glad I Lived To See Invented

1. The Swiffer
2. Vitamins in gumballs
3. The Universal Remote
4. Eddie Izzard
5. Thong Sanitary Pads

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Grandmothers, pt 2

Now it's time for me to introduce my dad's mom. That would be Mamaw Bowles, for you keeping score at home.

Mamaw Bowles was more formally known as Nellie Kate Kimberlin Bowles, although there was nothing formal about her. She was from the country, Bland County, in Virginia, where she met and married my grandfather, Eugene Bowles. He worked the farm of Woodrow Bird, a Bland Countian who became a state senator. That's where my dad and his sister, Nadine (Jacob's mom) spent their childhoods. After a few migrations here and there, they ended up in the town of Narrows, VA. Papaw Bowles died there in 1971. Mamaw, Nadine, and Jacob lived together after that till Nadine's death, in 1979. Then Mamaw, who was fiercely independent and wouldn't give up housekeeping, lived by herself.

Mamaw loved horses. In fact, when she was young, she delivered the mail up and down Rt 61 in Tazewell County on a horse. She loved watching the Kentucky Derby, though she always said it looked "so cruel to them horses, to make them run like that." Every year when we were kids there was a big festival and part of it was something called the Mollie Tynes Ride. This was a group of people in Civil War-era dress riding their horses on a 25 or so mile trail, commemorating the Civil War ride of Mollie. Mamaw Bowles loved the Mollie Tynes Ride, and wanted to be at some point on the trail to see the people go by on their horses in their gear. I wonder if it reminded her of her long rides delivering mail.

When we were little, my sister and I, we spent almost our entire summers at Mamaw & Papaw's house. Jacob lived with them, so it was the three of us, and we were inseparable, riding bikes, going swimming at The Boom (their town park, where you swam in the creek), and spending days and days on their huge porch playing with our little plastic animals. (that's another story altogether) Mamaw would keep us in Kool-aid and tuna salad sandwiches. She made her tuna salad different from my mom - she used mustard instead of mayonnaise. She also made the best home fries in the entire universe - OK, Mr M, yours come close - and she loved fixing us saltfish (which I guess you all know as salt cod), the saltiest thing known to man. Even after soaking it overnight, it would still be so salty we'd sit around the breakfast table eating it with red faces. I don't know how our heads kept from exploding.

Another memory I have from those days is helping Mamaw Bowles wash clothes. This was a blast for us kids, because she had a wringer washing machine. We'd stand over the pot, watching the clothes agitate, then got ready for the fun part - feeding the clothes through the wringer. We'd start feeding in items, and Mamaw would start yelling. "Oh, Lord have mercy, watch your hands, they're gonna get caught in the wringer!" It was a nervous breakdown with every load. And we'd laugh and laugh. And then carry the clothes around the kitchen newly-wrung, which meant they were stiff and hard as a piece of wood, and outside to the line, where we'd unfold them and form them over the clothesline.

Mamaw was a quilter, and made beautiful piece-quilts. She made many, but she made one special for each of her three granddaughters. We got to go through her massive boxes of material scraps, and pick out all our favorites. No matter what the colors and patterns. And she took them all and used them to make our quilt. Mine looks like it's been through a war, but I still have it tucked away at Mom & Dad's. She assembled the pieces by hand, and did the backing and the edges and all on a trundle sewing machine. We loved to play with that too, but she feared for our hands more on that than she even did the wringer washing machine.

Interesting Mamaw Bowles trivia. She loved to move. My dad laughs that when he was a kid, he never knew when he came home from school if his family was still going to be there, or if they'd moved while he was in class. I can't tell you about his childhood, but in mine.... Let's see, that I can remember, Mamaw lived in 11 different houses in Narrows. And believe me, folks, it's not that big of a town.

As Mamaw got older, she lost her sight - most of it, anyway. It was attributed to cataracts, but I know in my heart at least part of it had to be the then-undiagnosed macular degeneration. She still wanted to keep a place of her own, which became quite a worry to us. Especially because of her long-standing cooking philosophy of, "if it takes 15 mintues on low heat, it'll be done in 5 on high heat." She was a bit impatient, my Mamaw. (My dad has the exact same cooking philosophy, oddly enough.) Luckily, we found a great place for her (a final move). It was a small apartment, attached to a large house, with a very nice couple living in the house who kept an eye on her.

Then one of my favorite things became taking Mamaw out for bill-paying day (Neither of my grandmothers ever drove, btw). On the day she got her Social Security check (this was a woman who made do with $386 a month), I'd slip out of work a half-day, drive to Narrows, take Mamaw around to pay her bills (she never had a banking account and didn't believe in sending bills off - if she couldn't pay cash in person, she didn't want it), and then take her to the grocery store. We always went to the same small local grocery. I'd get a buggy, put Mamaw at the wheel, and we'd take off. She would pick up every item on every aisle, and give it the once over. "What is this?" "It's laundry detergent, Mamaw." "How much is it?" "$3.49." "Okay." and she'd put it back and we'd move along. And she did this with everything. "What is this?" "Diapers, Mamaw. You need some diapers?" And she'd laugh, "Well, no, I don't rightly think so. How much are they?" "I don't know, let's see. $15." "$15!" and she'd put them back down.

Mamaw Bowles lived to see Taytie enter the world. For about his first six months of existence, she couldn't look at him without crying. Every single time she saw him, she said the same thing: "Oh, you sweet and precious thing, I've never seen such a sweet and precious thing." It became a joke between my sister I - we called Taytie "Sweet & Precious Thing." And he loved her. He called her Meemaw. (It's a source of both great sadness and fantasy for me that Mamaw Grasso didn't live to meet Taytie. I can only imagine - he of the puppy dog eyes, and her, with her kind soul, a total pushover - how she would have been wrapped around his little finger!)

Mamaw Bowles had a stroke. She was in a coma in the hospital for three weeks. Then they said she had to go into a "facility." Where she lay until she died, several months later. She never came out of the coma. By the way, people in comas can lay there with their eyes open. This is a very disconcerting thing.

My sister and I went out and bought nice hats for Mamaw's funeral. Neither of us are hat wearers, but Mamaw Bowles loved to go to church in a nice hat. So we each bought one in memory of her. Mine was black with a wide brim and black ribbon. Taytie was 2, and rather than keep him away from everything, he was included. He was quiet and well-behaved through it all. Then after the burial, we climbed back into Dad's car to go home. In the backseat were me, my sister, and her husband, and he was holding Taytie. As the car started inching along the dirt road that led out of the cemetery, Taytie popped up and scrambled to look out the back window. And he started to yell, "I can't see Meemaw! I can't see Meemaw!" And all our hearts were breaking. When we got back home, he climbed up on my dad's lap and started telling him fairy tales. He was animated, and waving his hands around, and cracking us all up. It was the best medicine any of us could have had, especially my dad.

There were only two things of Mamaw Bowles' that I wanted. One was a wooden crucifix I'd given her, that I'd bought for her in England and she kept by her bed (and I now keep by mine). The other was a picture she had of my dad. He was, say, 18 in the photo? Anyway, it was a "posed," studio picture, made in the 40s, when color pictures didn't look like photos, but actually more like paintings. Mamaw always had it displayed in a double frame beside the same type picture of his sister Nadine. Dad looks like a total matinee idol in this picture, and I've loved it since I was a kid. When Mom and Dad were asking us about things we'd like of hers, that's all I said, "The Movie Picture of Dad (that's what I called it)." The cross was an afterthought. (I should try to scan that pic, see if it works.)

Inerited from Mamaw Bowles? Stubbornness and impatience. I've got it to spare, and so did she. I used to think of those as bad traits, and the older I get I'm not so sure. I kind of like them. Well, except that the impatience gets me into trouble because I don't give myself enough time to get the hang of something, then I get all frustrated and teary. I also think I got a lot of my accent from Mamaw. In fact, sometimes when I'm not watching myself and get even countrier than I normally am, I can hear her voice coming right out of me. It makes my friends cackle. I'll catch myself saying something like "beeus-cut," and they'll say, "Good Lord! Mamaw Bowles!" And that makes me laugh.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Grandmothers, pt 1

I'm glad the babe-o-licious Michelle is back with us after a too-long absence; we had a nice Messenger chat last night. Because of her (even before the chat), I've been thinking about grandmothers lately. Grandmothers in general, and my own in particular.

(I loved Stennie's memories of her Grandma Neff, who made everything taste so good. As Stenns said, even her breakfast cereal was better than anyone else's.)

There are two things I always say about my grandmothers; in fact, I'm sure I've said them right here. One is I was named after them both, my name being taken from both their middle names. And the other is that they were as different as night and day, and both loved each other like sisters.

My mom's mom was Muriel Elizabeth Johnson Fowler Knoy Grasso. She came into being for me as Mamaw Knoy. Her husband Everett Fowler, my mom's dad, died when he was 55 years old. He was walking to catch the bus home and had a heart attack. (It was the night he was to meet my dad for the first time. They never got to meet.) Then Muriel married Mr Knoy, who I also never met (as you can tell, I don't even know his first name), they were married in Indianapolis in 1958 by a young reverend named Jim Jones. My mom and I have mused many many times if this was the same Indianapolis reverend Jim Jones who orchestrated the mass suicide/genocide in Guyana. We asked her at the time. She looked at the TV and said, "Well, it could have been. My Lord." After Knoy, she then married Angelo Grasso. Angie was a Washington, DC cab driver.

By the way, Mamaw's name was Muriel, but it was pronounced "Merle." She had a relative, a cousin or neice, I can't remember, named Arabella. It was pronounced it "Arbelle." Oh, us crazy mountain people....

Mamaw Grasso was my "city grandmother." She lived in DC for many years and worked at an upscale women's clothing store there. When my sister and I, or my sister, mom, and I, would go visit (sans Dad), we always went by train. That was excitement beyond belief. When when we got into the city, Mamaw would take us to coffee shops and museums. Angie would drive us to all the monuments in his cab. My sister got as many clothes as she could carry from the shop Mamaw worked in, and since I was just a kid, I got taken to Toys R Us for a spree or two. That was Heaven on Earth for me; there were no such stores anywhere near us at home, so it was like a wonderland. I bought my favorite Skipper I've ever owned on one of those sprees - she had red hair, rooted eyelashes, and bendable legs.

Mamaw Grasso used to tell us about living in Washington, DC when President Kennedy was killed. How it was like a dark cloud was cast over the city. The endless lines of limousines carrying foreign dignitaries blocking every street - and the endless lines of people waiting patiently to pay their respects. People walking the streets in tears, looking lost, with nowhere to go.

Angie was a sweetheart, but he was a hot-head as well. One night, as a storm of hurricane proportions swept through DC, uprooting trees and knocking down power lines, I saw him pull a knife on my uncle Larry; they despised each other for some reason. Being from a family where there was barely an argument, this was an horrifically scary sight. (I was pulling for Angie, though; Larry really got up my nose.) Later that night, running up to Mamaw's apartment in the storm, I slipped and fell, and ended up covered in tree branches, leaves, mud, rain, and debris blown from 100 blocks away. That wasn't a particularly good night.

After Angie died, Mamaw came back here to live for good. (And after he died, I got to meet his two grown children from a previous marriage. What lovely, lovely people they were; I just remembered that.) She moved in with her family, her father, my great-grandfather, who died at age 91 after being hit by a car, and with her sister, my great-aunt, who lived in the house beside. This caused me no small amount of upset. I didn't know why at the time - I loved being around my grandmother, why wouldn't I want her back near me? I thought it was just because I didn't like her family, and that was partly true. What it took me till much later to realize was that, although she never really talked about it, I always think Mamaw Grasso lived a pretty thankless existence with her family growing up. She was put upon. She was used. And I knew her as the cool, independent Mamaw who lived in the big city. Coming back home would be a step backwards into that life before. I wish I hadn't been so right.

Mamaw Grasso had Parkinson's Disease the last 15 years of her life. I wish everyone could know what Parkinson's does to a person, and at the same time I hope no one ever has to know. We used to joke about Mamaw and how she ate. She didn't, really. She just pushed her food around on the plate, and lined her peas up with each other, and nibbled a bit here and there. After Parkinsons, she didn't eat because the food shook off her fork.

I would hold Mamaw's arm while she was walking, or sit on the couch with her and hold her hand. After 20 minutes of holding her arm, my arm would...and there's no way I can describe this to make it really arm would ache. Just ache, down into the bone. Can you even imagine what the pain of the person doing the shaking must be like? I can't.

After she was stricken, the family that she came home to live with deserted her. Every time she had a bad patch and got sick, whether she was with her father, her sister in town, or her sister in Roanoke, they'd call us. "Muriel's sick, and we just can't take care of her, it's too much, we can't handle her." And someone from our family would go get Mamaw and bring her back to Mom and Dad's. Sure, they could handle her when she was on her feet, taking care of their sorry asses. And we never minded bringing her home; we just minded knowing what she felt like, being sent away because she was "trouble" for someone else, someone else she loved (whether they deserved that love or not).

Finally, we convinced her to stay with Mom for good. She lived there till she died, in October of 1986. She had a heart attack one afternoon, the Parkinsons had just weakened her till there was no more. My dad discovered her when he went home for lunch. That was very hard on him.

It was also hard on Mamaw Bowles. Mamaw Bowles, who'd been totally mortified because the first night Mom and Dad brought Mamaw Grasso to meet his family, she was on the couch in her nightgown and my grandfather was cutting her toenails. And she thought, "My Lord, this prim and proper woman, what is she going to think of us here in our bare feet and night clothes?" All through the "mourning period," the only thing I can remember Mamaw Bowles saying, to anyone who was sitting with her, was "I loved her so much and she loved me so much. I just feel like I've lost my sister." And I think she did.

About 8 years or so before Mamaw Grasso died, she started "promising" us things. You know, designating belongings to her granddaughters. She'd picked out a ring for me, and one for my sister, and two for my cousins who still lived up in DC. And things to her grandchildren out west with my Uncle Carl. She promised my youngest cousin a huge bank she had that she kept pennies in, probably $200 or so in pennies. The ring she designated for me had no stone in it, it was just plain gold - she new that I wasn't into fancy things. She'd point to it while I was holding her hand and say, "That's the ring I want for you."

After she died and Mom and Dad went to her father's old house to sort through her things, guess what. Yep, and it was no surprise to us, either. Mamaw's sisters and their clans, who'd used her to their own good during her lifetime, had raped and pillaged everything she owned that they thought might have the least bit of value. Even the damn bank of pennies. They stole pennies.

And so none of Mamaw's grandkids have any keepsakes of her. And somehow I tell myself, whether it's true or not, that I wouldn't even care about that had these people loved her and cared for when she was alive. And to those people, some of whom are still alive, I say this. I hate you, and I wish nothing for you but misfortune and unhappiness. And if that makes me a shitty person, so be it. It's how I feel. If I see them now in public, I turn and walk in the opposite direction.

What did I get from Mamaw Grasso? My worrying, that's for sure. My dad used to say she'd worry about the fact that she didn't have anything to worry about. She worried about everything, and everybody. I got that in spades from her. And I think I inherited her kindness, even though the above paragraph might make you think twice. I think what I mean by that is, there are people out there in the world who are tender hearts. They see something and it breaks their hearts in two, whether it's a homeless person, or a child in a wheelchair, or a stray dog. Mamaw had the kindest heart of anyone I know. I'm not in her league. But my heart breaks for people in need. My mom's a kind person. As is Taytie. So there's three generations she passed it down to.

That's better than a ring, anyway.


Wow, folks. Am I getting boring? Ultra-low acro turnout this week! But, we soldier on...

The letters this week were L R I W A. The entries:

*Lily, Really I Won Acro!
*Lola Runs, I Walk, Alright?
*Limeys Rebel! Ignite Warring Assholes!
*Leaving Rhode Island, Waving "Aloha"
*Limbo Rock Is Winning America!
*Little Ricky: Insolent, Whining Adolescent
*Lily, ring? I want amor.
*Let's rejoin International Waffle Association.
*Lennon's Revolution I - White Album.

And now, let's turn it over to the woman herself, our judge for this week...Lily!

Hmmmmm, a bit of a low turnout tonight. You all must be giddy from
commemorating the presidential holiday, and impersonating the Gipper,
who forgets just about everything now. Without much further ado:

Second Runner Up: From the eternal optimist category is Betster's
"Limbo Rock is Winning America!" I'm sure that's true somewhere,
but it actually sounds more like something that Dennis Kucinich would
support at this point.

First Runner Up: In an homage to what is probably the BEST acro ever,
is Mike's "Let's rejoin International Waffle Association". Howdy
God. Hey, you do waffles?

But the winner is Michelle's: "Lily, Really I Won Acro!" You
did, dear, you did. Pandering AND accurate, all in one neat little

Congrats to all the players!

Thanks, Lily for judging - and for reminding me of what is truly the greatest acro of all time from Mike. Howdy, God. Hey, you do waffles?

Thanks, players, and welcome back for next week.

Monday, February 16, 2004


Holy guacamole, acroers! I almost forgot this week's post-Valentine's-Day-I've-eaten-all-my-candy-and-now-my-true-love's-back-on-the-couch-watching-sports round of Acromania!

This week we're being graced by another guest judge, fresh from last week's stunning victory, it's the lovely, the scary, and yes, the landless peasant, LilyG. Lily will be judging your entries - three each, remember, drawn at random from the acrobasket. She'll be judging - and believe me folks, if Lily wanted to really judge you, she could, and the consequences could be dire - she'll be judging your entries around 9pm est on Tuesday night, and we'll print the winners shortly after. Then the knives will be drawn and the guns loaded.

This week's letters are:


So there you have it, folks. Let the acroing begin!

Saturday, February 14, 2004

A Valentine's Day Lament (With Candy)

Yes, I'm still contemplating the breakup of the couple that's been a constant for the whole of my life, Barbie and Ken. Who made the first move? Was it really as amicable as they say? What will happen now? Will Ken just fade into the shadows and eventually disappear? And will Barbie one day regret the split?

It's tearing me up inside, I tell ya.

You know, Ken's a lovely boy. He's just lovely. But let's face it, he was never in Barbie's league. She was a teenaged fashion model star at age 16! He was a hunting, tennis-playing soda jerk. And even though he eventually became a doctor and a cub reporter and an airline pilot, there was something we could never overlook about our sweet and lovely boy.

But you know, Barbie's not perfect either. Sure, she has the clothes, and the hair, and the body that won't quit. But I have it on good authority that's not all she has.

But pettiness aside, let's be honest here. We know. Is there one of you amongst us who does not know the problem that has plagued this couple from the invention of dear Ken, some 43 years ago? It's as plain as the nose on your face. All us Barbie collectors know. And I guess now Ken wants the world to know.

So, what's next for Ken? I certainly hope he's not going to hang around the beach house and do Barbie's bidding for her, like some errand boy with no collectible value at all. That's so beneath him. Especially while Barbie's looking elsewhere, like at the new Blaine doll, as has been rumored. One can only hope Ken will head north.

And while Barbie continues to loll in the dream house, entertaining thoughts of another Presidential run, being a veterinarian, and a rock star, and a TV anchorwoman, and whatever else she wants, and tries to hang out with Blaine, and all those new Generation Dolls (which make her look so old, by the by), she'll begin to stagnate. And one day will become just an old broad. A shell of her former beautiful pony-tailed self.

And Ken will be happier in the long run.

(ps, thanks, Stennie, for reminding me of This Site!)

Friday, February 13, 2004

Day of the Zombie

It's official. I've crossed into the world of the Undead.

And therefore, I shall keep things tonight short. However, in this day I've:

* Arisen at 7am, after (yet again) no sleep, and after the fitful sleeplessness, more tired than I was when I went to bed.

* Tried to fix my hair, which was really cute last night, and ended up this morning looking like Larry Fine's of the Three Stooges.

* Before even getting to my car, fallen down the one step into my den and nearly hitting the floor, and fallen down the two steps outside my house, nearly hitting the ground.

* Stalked a little old lady pushing a buggy through the Wal-Mart parking lot, stalked her with my car, because she walked right out in front of me and defiantly put her hand up for me to stop. I drove about two inches behind her all the way to her car.

* Wandered through the Wal-Mart looking for the cupcakes Taytie wanted for Valentine's Day. Encountered every walk of poke-ass in every aisle standing there with the dead lice falling off them. Almost cried when the express lane turned out to be the "standing 20 minutes while a new girl learns how to work the scanner" lane.

* Resisted crying because drugs have made my body so dehydrated and void of moisture, conjuring up a tear would have taken more energy than I had.

* Finally made it home, and, in an effort to sleep, climbed into the Comfy Chair with a blankie.

* Started to float away to dreamland - only to have the phone ring. Mom says it's cold in Florida, btw. (oddly enough, she didn't know what it was like here) (oddly enough, never fell back asleep)

So, it's been a long week. I know, big deal, we all have them. This is true. The hormone pills are now over with and tonight's the last night of the antibiotic pack. Maybe things will get better. (And no matter how bad this week was, it's still beating the hell out of any week in 2003.)

And by the way, wasn't it kind of cruel of Barbie to break up with Ken two days before Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 12, 2004

News Story Of The Day

Ummm, I don't even know where to begin. So I'll let you enjoy it.

(Maybe they're finally letting him come out)

Yes, go here. It's worth it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

I Run All Hot And Cold

I've made no secret of the fact that I've been cold lately. It got so cold here so fast, and the cold has just hung on with such stubborn strength, that it's permeated my being and become a part of who I am.

My mom calls me about every other day from Florida. She calls to talk about the weather. Lord have mercy, my mom loves the weather - she calls to tell me what the weather is up here.

"It's snowing up there," she'll tell me.

"No it's not Mom, it's just gloomy."

"Well, the Weather Channel says it's snowing."

"Well, you call them up and tell them you're Peg Bowles and your daughter says it's not snowing, it's just gloomy, and I'm sure they'll change their forecast."

And things generally go all to pot from there. Lately when she's been calling she always asks the temperature, and I just respond "cold." I'm not being snippity, I just have to explain to her. I've been so cold for so long, nothing registers to me in degrees anymore. It's just cold. After work yesterday I had to put gas in my car. Two different banks in town were telling me it was 43 degrees, and let me tell you 43 degrees is a veritable heatwave around here. But it didn't matter. I stood there, wearing a coat, freezing, shivering. Because I'm cold, dammit. I was as cold as I was when it was 23 degrees.

(BTW, one bank in town was telling me it was 40 degrees, because their brand new digital sign is stuck on 40 degrees. When it was 12 here, at First Community Bank it was 40 degrees. When it was 20 here, it was 40 at First Community. And yesterday when it was 43, it was 40 at First Community. "Come to First Community Bank - Where It's Always 40 Degrees!")

Anyway. I've been on drugs this week. Well, actually I've been on drugs this month. I just got my sinus/tension/whateverelseiswrongwithme drugs, a decongestant, an antibiotic pack ("five pills in five days and you're cured - all for the tidy sum of $98!"), and a painkiller. But since the beginning of the month, as per instructions from my trusty gynecologist, I'm back on this hormone she wants me to take. Take it the first ten days of every month, and voila, the joys of womanhood flower in your very being. Or something. All I know is that I hate the stuff, and of the last 12 months, I've taken it maybe twice. But since she kind of hounded me about it at my appointment last month, I told her I'd give it another go.

One of the effects of one of those new drugs, and I'm willing to assume it's the antibiotic, is what I call BFS. Bad Fitful Sleeplessness. It's gone on the past two nights. Toss and turn, doze off, nightmare, back up, wide awake, praying for sleep.... I don't mind staying up all night when I want to. I just hate it when I'd rather be snoozing.

One of the other effects of these drugs, and this happens the last two or three doses of the hormone, is what I call RSBUHF. Raging Skin Burning Ungodly Hot Flashes. Since Feb 2d, no matter how frozen to the bone I am all day, when bedtime comes I'm lying there in bed like a beached whale wondering what else kind of clothes I can take off since I'm already almost naked.

Put all these drugs together, and I think I may have cooked up a recipe for disaster.

Last night, since we did have that 43 degree heatwave, I turned down the heat at the Poderosa quite a bit. So much so, in fact, that when it was time to retire I almost went and turned it back up. I was cold. Even under the covers I was cold. I took my next to the last dose of my hormone, and lay there, being cold, and finally said, "OK, I'll keep the heat down, but put some sweatpants on under my nightshirt." And they weren't even thick sweatpants, just flimsy knit, but I put them on and finally drifted off into dreamland.

Around 2am I fell awake with a thud. I tossed and turned, tried each side, shifted, rearranged all the covers, and finally after an hour or so, dozed back off.

At 4:04 I woke up again. I opened my eyes, realized I was awake, and then just started flailing both arms and kicking both legs for all it was worth. I was so hot, I just thought, "If I don't throw these covers off of me and off this bed right now, I'm gonna DIE!" When they were finally off, I lay there and panted like a dog for several minutes.

At 5:44 I woke up and finally had to shed the pants.

I mean, I'm not kidding. These past two nights, I've gotten so hot my dreams have been of fires.

And yet this morning, I got out of bed, grabbed a towel and headed for the shower.

"Geez, I'm cold," I thought.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

In an effort to crank out one more list this week...

Five Things That Should Have Been Said To Me Today, But Weren't

1. Try as you might, you're not intimidating in the least. (Amie, Regional Office)
2. A "follow-up call??" Admit it, you just now remembered me from last week. (M, Client)
3. You want nachos. And then cheesecake. Oooookay.... (T, Bumbleberry Patch Cafe)
4. Good God, your hair looks like a bird's nest. (Anyone who saw me today)
5. You know, I miss you too. (Someone I've missed lately)


Arrrr arrrrroorrrrrr arf arf aoooooooooooooooo! Yes, I'm taking a small break from doggie-watching to let you all know who this week's acrowinners are.

You know, I've found the dog breed for me at this show. I was watching last night while on the phone with my sister, and while the announcer was extolling all the virtues of each dog I said to her, "I want a dog that they say 'his best attributes are lying on the couch watching TV.'" Well, lo and behold, in a mere hour later, the Bull Terrier was described by that same announcer as, "After an active and mischievous puppyhood, get ready to enjoy a long and happy life on the couch." Well, there you go.

This week's letters were I N E R L I G. The entries:

*I never expected roses, love. I'm gormless.
*It's nearly endless, repetitive, lousy, insulting -- Grammys.
*Inside Nevada, extremely rowdy Liberace incites guffaws.
*It nowhere ever references limericks in guidelines.
*Illiterate nudnicks eschew reading limericks? It's goofy.
*I nominate Elizabeth Regina Limericka, Imperial Goddess.
*I never ever realized Lynde is gay.
*Internet nerds eagerly reinstalled Linux, insulted Gates.
*I never! Except rarely. Lick it? Gross!
*In Norway, Even Raw Liver Is Gourmet
*I'll Never Eat Rutabaga Lasagna - It's Ghastly!
*In Neon Effervescent Red, Lily Is Garish
*IRS. Notable earnings? Robbery's legal in Government
*Igloos: Nanook Eskimos "Refridgerated Livingroom" is glacial.
*"I'm not engaged. Ring lie. Infuriates Guys."
*I Need Eggs. Runny? Livid, I Gag.
*Interesting, Naughty Ervin Rarely Lies. I'm Grateful.
*In Netherlands, Eveyone Really Likes Ice. Good!
*In Nevada, everybody really loathes internet gambling.
*It's not easy, ruling like I'm God.
*In nihilistic existentialism, rational logical idealism's goofy.

And now, to make his grand pronouncements to the world, may I introduce the man himself, he who will gladly pick your brain and make you question your sanity, the one and only Mr M:

First, let's get this out of the way!: MSAGRO, "IRS" ain't a word! You can't use an initialism in acro unless it's spoken as a word. GRRRRR! For that, you have to tell us something about yourself in Bet's Comments section. You're a mystery man/woman/hermaphrodite/whatever-the-opposite-of-"hermaphrodite"-is, and we want to know about you.

However, the first honorable mention goes to the selfsame MSAGRO for "I'm not engaged. Ring lie. Infuriates Guys" for its pithiness and MSAGRO's persistence.

The second honorable mention goes to Bet for "I'll Never Eat Rutabaga Lasagna - It's Ghastly!" I can almost taste it.

The all around winner is Lily G., for her "I never expected roses, love. I'm gormless."

Lily accomplishes three things here: she salutes Valentine's day, she appropriately and poetically uses an archaic word, and she shows us all the kind of really esoteric vocabulary that one may pick up at Yale. (I bet this was on Friday's spelling test.) Plus, it sounds nice.

But wait! We have an additional winner in the "Revenge" category: DeepFatFriar for "Illiterate nudnicks eschew reading limericks? It's goofy."

(It's my call, so I'm sticking in this new category. If you don't like it, pffffffffffffft!)

So congratulations to the all-round winner Lily, our special category winner DeepFatFriar, and our honorably mentioned.

Time for me to take my cape and head home.

Well, there you have it, folks. The Man has spoken. Thanks to all who played, and welcome back next week for another round of acros.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Some Absolutely Wonderful Things About Watching The Westminster Dog Show On TV

* Seeing $50,000 dogs that look like mutts

* Seeing women handlers in sequined ball gowns and diamonds, and brown orthopedic oxfords

* It's a mop! No, it's a dog!

* Imagining what it must be like judging a breed - 20 dogs that all look exactly alike

* Holding out a hopeful fantasy that one night a dog will bite a judge in the face

* Dogs who smile

* It's a toupee! No, it's a dog!

* Getting to see dogs picked up by their tails

* Recalling Fred Willard's commentary in "Best In Show" ("Maybe that bloodhound ought to have a Sherlock Holmes hat... and a pipe!")

* Dogs who have names like Champion Prince Kuvlier Went Down To The Store To Buy A Tin Of Tobacco And Came Home With A Lady Of Ill Repute - but his owners call him "Tip"

* It's an ottoman! No, it's a dog!

* Finding that a champion can in fact rule and drool - lots

* Doggies! Everywhere you look - doggies!


Hello, all you weary-eyed workweekers. Welcome to another did-the-weekend-really-go-that-fast round of Acromania!

Auntie Bet is still convalescing a bit, with some drugs not only for sinus infection but also for pain. Ding-ding-ding - jackpot!

Therefore, we shall have another guest judge this week, in the form of one Mr M, who asked to judge last week but deferred after he heard about my experimental non-acroing judge. So everyone address your bribes and suck-ups to Mr M, he's quite corruptible, let me tell you.

The rules are thusly. Everyone gets three entries to make the best acro they can to the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the good old acrobasket. Then Mr M will judge, let's say 9:30ish est tomorrow night (give him time to get out of class), and shortly after the winner will gloat and the non-winners will scheme.

And here are the letters for this week:


So there you have it, my babies. Now, make with the acronyms!

Sunday, February 08, 2004

Bet's Capsule Review of the 2004 Grammy Awards Ceremony

"Advil, please!"

Five Things I Could Go The Rest Of My Life Without Ever Seeing Again In A Movie

1. Blind people driving cars
2. Beloved pets being murdered as a plot device
3. 70 year old leading men being paired with 25 year old women
4. Villians being terrible shots
5. Drew Barrymore

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Cracking Up

No, I'm not ready for a straightjacket just yet, in fact my emotional health has been quite good lately, thanks. My cracking up has been more on the laughing side lately. I keep seeing these things about that leave me gob-smacked and giggling.

Like the speech Donald "Rummy" Rumsfeld gave in Germany today. Asking for more support for our (or should that be "our") effort in Iraq. He stood in front of an international audience and said, in a statement so impassioned that I almost think he himself believed it, that the international press were making America out to be an imperialist nation (never!), and that he couldn' matter how he tried to....(trembling bottom lip)....understand....(trying to conjure a single tear a la Iron Eyes Cody)...why the world would want to do that to us.

He also stressed that the "seeds of freedom" need to sown throughout the world. Yeah, and we're just the guys to sow them! And he stressed the importance of "winning" in Iraq and Afghanistan, because, well, I guess because schoolyard bullies always have to win. And let's face it, folks. If the world were an episode of The Simpsons, right now the US would be Nelson. I'm just waiting for W. to come out with a "HA ha!"

I'm also still giggling, but in a much much nicer way, at a blog out there called The Beatles Are Coming. Mike, man of mystery and movies, pointed this site out to some of us a week or so ago. Now, there's a splash page to it I found during some exploring that actually explains it like: "Imagine if the internet had been around in the early 1960's! Experience the birth of Beatlemania through a daily Beatles Blog from 1964!" Well, that helps some.

See, when you just click on the blog section you get a day by day diary of a young girl experiencing the throes of Idol Worship as The Beatles come to America for the first time. It's a cute idea. In fact, it's a really cute (and sweet too, if I may say so) idea. But I gotta tell you. It's disconcerting.

First of all, there's a picture of the "blogger" on the site. Is this a picture from the sixties, or a picture of a girl today made up to look like it's from the sixties? And what's the age of the girl writing the blog? I'd love to know. Because it's written like a 15-year old girl would write. So if it's a woman who actually was 15 at the time...well, I don't know if I should be really admiring of her imagination or weirded out by it.

Anyway, the most fun part of all this is seeing her have to explain things that would have been new in the sixties, like "what is called a telephoto lens." Then she throws around phrases like "people have emailed me from all over" and "I’m typing this blog entry on Debbie’s mom’s computer. She’s rich enough to own a portable computer. It’s really neat. It isn’t that much bigger than a three-ring binder!" It's just weird, man. It's weird!

(But then again, who doesn't long for those oh-so-innocent days of 1964 and the British Invasion? I know I do.)

Finally, last night I happened upon one of the more interesting stories on "Dateline NBC" I've seen in a while. A story about David Gest, whom I'm now convinced is second freakiest man on earth only to Michael Jackson.

We knew something was wrong with him, didn't we? The marriage to Liza Minelli, MJ as best man, and that kiss that has done for lip-locks what mad cow has done for the beef industry. But we got a look into the hell that the man's life has become last night, right there on the tee vee.

OK, so he's suing Liza, not only for divorce after a mere months, but is also suing her for $10 million, because she, as he stood right up there and told us all, she beat the living shit out of him on several occasions.

That alone right there says a lot about the man. I mean, what kind of man is willing to get up there and announce that an old woman, one who's approaching Liz Taylor in the "ongoing injuries and ailments" department and is 56 years old, has beaten him up so badly that he's just a shell of his former self.

This man wants his 10 million.

It's a sad existence for David. He can't leave his multi-million dollar estate in Hawaii, presumably because he can't fly. So he walks the beach in baggy calf-length blue jeans and throws stones into the ocean, or so he'd have us believe.

But he'd also have us believe other things.

That he still has "scars" from the beatings, one of which he happily dropped his pants to show us. On his lower stomach. Looked amazingly like stretch marks, but who am I to say, really.

We also saw David make a trip to a doctor to have injection treatment for the pain. 80 injections he has to have, the poor thing. Of Botox. Injections of Botox all over his face. What a shame for him to have been beaten that badly. Poor fellow.

But even as fun as it was watching a total freak like David Gest, my favorite part by far of this segment was seeing an interview with his doctor. The one administering the Botox injections. This doctor was every doctor who's ever been caught on hidden camera in a "Dateline" scam-bust since the show went on the air. I'm not kidding - Central Casting couldn't have given us a better I'm-A-Quack-But-I'll-Do-Anything-For-My-Share-Of-The-10-Million-Prize doctor than this guy. It was priceless.

Oh, and of course, there's one more thing we need to know. He still loves her. He really does.

I'm still cracking up.

Friday, February 06, 2004


Or that was the week that was.

This week has just about kicked my ass. The blinding headaches have returned, which I've self-diagnosed as a combination of sinus and tension. I'm self diagnosing because I don't feel like taking a trip to see Smokin' Dr Javier only to have him give me a decongestant and nothing for the actual pain. (He's not big on pain pills.) So I am forgoing him and am currently trying to gouge friends and family members for drugs. (I've only got 2 of Mr M's Naprosyn left, and am coming up lemons with everyone else, save for dear stalwart Stennie, who tried to email me a Vicodin last night, bless her heart.)

Anyway, work's been hell, actually work's been hell for about 3 weeks now, with people and flying missives of all kinds landing in my lap and a revolving door of people gone in ones and twos from the office, leaving just a skeleton staff to try to take care of things (and oddly enough, guess who one of the skeleton staff always seems to be).

And so therefore I've been sleeping a lot. A whole lot. I had the afternoon off yesterday and came home and slept four hours and although I later felt guilty about it, it was glorious at the time. And yes, I know that activity and exercise might release some endorphines that will make my life worth living, but I have a headache, for God's sake, I can't move, let alone exercise! So get off my back.

Part of my recuperation (can you recuperate from something ongoing? maybe I should say convalescence) has also been to see some movies I've been wanting to see. So far I've done "Freaky Friday" (cute, enjoyable, and thankfully, not pretending to be anything more than it was), "Lost In Translation" (absolutely kickass, and should win the Best Picture Oscar, but won't), "American Splendor" (as kickass if not more, and extremely enjoyable to watch), and "Seabiscuit" (very good, if not overly long and at times pompous). The problem with that is: now I've seen all the movies I was hankering after, what am I going to watch now?

As you all know, one of my great guilty pleasures in life is watching the Match Game. Now, it had been mentioned at one time (I think by my dear friend and brand new dad Crispy) that there came a point in proceedings where Richard Dawson became very disenchanted with the show and his co-stars and became, for lack of a better phrase, a complete bastard pain in the ass. Well, I've seen a couple of episodes of Match Game this week while I've been home for lunch, and I thought I might be seeing Richard in the winter of his discontent. He was completely surly. No laughing, no joking with the other panelists (including Fannie Flagg, who Richard normally had a good time with), no Paul Lynde impersonations, and really, not even any imaginitive answers. In fact, no personality at all. This was, of course, distressing to me, because I loved Richard and Charles (and goofball Patti Deutsch, who wasn't on nearly enough). So anyway, I thought I'd hit a real televisional gem there, then realized that Richard was supposed to have turned ugly around 1978. These episodes were in 1975! So either there was a really long gestational period of surliness, or else he was just having a bad week. In any case, it was quite bizarre to watch.

So now on to the weekend, thank God. My only goal is to tackle my bedroom. It's gone very awry in the last month or so. So awry, in fact, that I'm not quite sure where to start on it. It shall either be getting the piles of clean-but-folded clothes out of the floor (so I can vacuum) or start a massive clean-up of my night stand shelves.

But if my head keeps hurting, I'll just end up going in there and curling up on the bed for awhile. Like till morning.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Well, I’m No Prude, But…

Everyone's sick of the Super Bowl brouhaha by now, including myself. But I just have one thing to say about it before I let it go. No, make that two.

First of all, I missed Janet's boob, and I'm sorry about that, because I'll never see it again. Oh sure, I'll see the clip over and over again till I want to puke – in fact, I already have – but it will be forever pixelated and I shall die knowing Janet Jackson's glorious tit has remained but a mystery to me.

But mainly, I want to say: the boob is what has everyone up in arms?

I, luckily, saw only about 4 seconds of the Super Bowl. In fact, that's exactly what I saw. When I got back home Sunday, it was after 8, and I had a blinding headache. So I sat in the chair and turned on the Super Bowl. I fell asleep shortly after, waking up with 4 seconds left in the game.

However, when I first sat down to watch, it was halftime. So I got to see some of this Spectacular Super Bowl Extravaganza To End All.

Now, let's all agree on one thing right off the bat, OK? Super Bowl halftime shows reek. They always have. They have nothing to do with the game, nothing to do with anything. It's just "please, these Super Bowls usually suck a weenie, and we need something to keep people interested enough to stick around for the second half." And so they trot out the stars and the pyrotechnics and put on a show that's just so crass it's everything every other country in the world hates about America. So when I talk about Sunday night's festivities, please don't think I'm of the opinion that this year's halftime ceremonies ruined a long line of great entertainment moments. Believe me, they didn't.

So. Here's the thing. From the time I sat down until I fell asleep, here's what I saw. I saw PSeanPuffyDiddyDaddyCombs, covered with gold and a big coat, and singing, hell, I don't know what he was singing because the man doesn't sing, he's a rapper, for God's sake. (Oh, that's another thing we should address but won't: Super Bowl of football = Super Bowl of lip synching.)

Anyway, here was PuffySeanDiddyDaddyPCombs surrounded by girls in cheerleading outfits, dancing around and singing his praises to the tune of Toni Basil's "Mickey." And OK, so this isn't 1981, but within 18 seconds of the singing and praising, out came the ass-shakes and pelvic thrusts into the camera from the girls. And I wasn't surprised. It was bad taste, but typical bad taste.

Then I got the privilege of seeing Kid Rock, aka The Scuzziest Man Who Ever Drew Breath, aka The Man Who Makes Lynyrd Skynyrd Look Like The Tea And Watercress Sandwich Set. You know, Marilyn Manson's success was pretty bad, but at least I understood it. He was a freak, and kids like freaks. Kid Rock's just trash. But there's nothing I can do about that.

So Mr Rock proceeded to not sing (as he's a rapper as well) a not song that mentioned, let's see if I can remember correctly: hookers, topless chicks, Southern Comfort, his heroes who are on methadone, porno flicks, guns, prisoners, crack, and God knows what else. (But he's trying to forget, let me tell you.) You know, as a total aside here, I've often wondered what Kid Rock smells like, though I don't necessarily want to go through the experience of finding out.

Oh, but they weren't through. Who should come trotting out next, gold tooth a-shinin' up to row RRR, but Nelly, who was wearing Kid Rock's tank top, but not his cowboy hat.

Nelly, who not sang his smash hit to us all, "It's So Hot In Here, So Take Off All Your Clothes," became surrounded by a bevy of dancers who judging by their outfits were apparently in the process of doing just that. It's actually kind of sad, whatever affliction Nelly has that causes him to have to repeatedly hold onto his crotch. I hope there's a telethon to cure it soon, because really, I've seen about enough of it. I promise you Nelly, it's still down there, you don't have to keep checking for it.

Then I got to see the beginning of The One And Only (as could be said of anyone in that family) Janet Jackson. And then I fell asleep. And the rest of the story I've seen on tape only. But we all know that right after the gyrating and the dry humping, and right before the garment tearing and the boob bearing, Justin Timberlake sings another of those romantic nuggets that made him the favorite of tweenies and their moms everywhere: "I'll get you naked before the end of this song." So really, what was there left to do? There's really nothing more we can experience at this point than an exposed body part.

So, OK. I'm old, and it's a changed world. But that doesn't mean I have to grow to like all this. Whether or not Ms Jackson's Breast's grand appearance was accidental or not, does it matter? Wasn't all that complete and utter shit that came before it as indecent?

Give me a half time show with a good marching band any day. If that's ratings poison, they can play while marching in the formation of Janet Jackson's exposed breast.

Oh, well. By the way, the supposed theme of the above described Super Bowl Half Time Extravaganza? "Say No To Illiteracy." Yeah, I would have guessed that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Well, the entries have been entered, and judged, and it's all over with but the shouting for this week. Let's get right to the action.

(BTW, Msagro was disqualified this week because he/she got the letters a little mixed up, thinking it was IPHRR. It's OK, that's happened to a couple of us from time to time, don't let that discourage you.)

The letters this week were I P H H R. The entries:

*I Played Haunting Hippo Regae.
*Igor Perfectly Hummed Hippo Regae.
*I Personally Hate Hippo Regae.
*I personally heard her regurgitate.
*Instant Party: heroin, hash, reefer.
*Initially, Polk hid his racism.
*It's Pat! Happily helping. Responsible!
*I pretended he's heavenly. "Rowr".
*Is Penelope having her Ribena?
*Insolent puppet has head removed.
*Irma's piano hides hungry rats.
*Incontinent Paul hates hearing rain.
*Idiotic president has harbored Russians.
*International Pancake House's heavenly recipes.
*Iimpressively, Paris Hilton had relapses.
*Itzhak Perlman's herniated, healing rapidly
*Intense public humiliation happily replayed.
*I'm patting her handsome rear.
*Ichabob pays headless horseman restitutiion.
*Isadore pushes Harry's Hupmobile regularly.
*Iphigenia prefers Hercules. Horny rascal.

And now may I present, your judge this week, the lady who knows absolutely fuck-all about acronym, even less about all of you, the one and only, or at least my one and only sister, Pat! Well, Pat, how does it feel?

I feel.... I feel.... I feel....

Well, I must say that this was a hard task, but not nearly as hard as watching tonight's installment of "American Idol." But let's get right to it here.

A couple of Honorable Mentions from me, first of all, Jellybean's "Impressive Paris Hilton had relapses," and DeepFatFriar's "Ichabod pays Headless Horseman restitution." Very good.

Now, Taylor wants to chime in with his own Honorable Mention, with Jellybean's "Idiotic President has harbored Russians."

And now, First Runner Up: Jeff's "Incontinent Paul hates hearing rain."

And finally, the winner, the Grand TeeTah of the week. It was the funniest, and sounded like a headline from the Weekly World News. And I want to read the rest of the story! It's Jeff's "Insolent Puppet has head removed."

Well, there you have it. (by the way, I had to insert the names, as this was a completely blind judging this week.) Thanks to all who played, and be sure and visit again next week for another breathless round of Acromania.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear

A couple of weeks ago I saw an odd thing as I was heading out of B'field. I was at the big red light on 460, and happened to look over to my right. When what to my wondering eyes should appear but Jesus.

Well, OK, that was an attention getter, I admit. It wasn't really Jesus. However, it was a man walking down Route 460 carrying a gigantic tree-limb-made cross over his back.

It was one of those odd moments one has in life. The kind that strikes you for a while and you forget about it. "Oh, look. It’s Jesus." Then *zooooooooom!* into the Wild Blue Yonder.

For this report, Jesus was a young guy, mid-twenties he looked to be, wearing jeans, hiking boots, jacket, and baseball cap. A short guy, made even shorter, I'm sure, by the fact that his cross had to have weighed 400 pounds. I’m not kidding – it was huge.

I mentioned it to Mr M when I got to B'burg that night, simply because when thinking about it in the car I just kept envisioning that scene from "Monty Python’s Life of Brian," with Terry Jones as the sympathetic crucifixion director. "Crucifixion? Good. Out of the door, line on the left, one cross each. Next. Crucifixion? Good….."

And so that day passed, and I really didn't think that much more about it.

Until yesterday. When I was heading out of B'field once again (as I too often seem to be doing these days), and on up Route 460, on the other side of the highway and walking in the opposite direction, who should I see but, yep, Jesus.

Jesus was walking along the road again, in his jeans, and jacket, and baseball cap, only this time he also had a very long wine-colored scarf wrapped around his neck. And he was carrying the same old, well, for want of a better phrase, the same old rugged cross.

And so now, of course, I can't stop thinking about him.

Why does he pick Route 460 to do it? Is it a particularly sin-filled road, or is it just where he feels the most traffic flow is? And how does he pick when he's going to walk around with it? Sure, yesterday was a Sunday, but the first time I saw him it was Wednesday. Does he just do it when he has some spare time? "Well, dinner's over and I don't have to be at work till 9, I think I'll go bear the cross a while." And how does he get that cross out to Route 460? He must have a seriously large pickup truck, with reinforced bungee cords to keep it in the bed.

But mostly I think about his conviction. To get out there, in the cold and snow, dragging a 400-lb cross miles and miles in hopes one person will see him and think about The Lord. To know that as he struggles out there, walking with his cross, people are snickering, shaking their heads, and writing smart-ass blogs about him. And to do it anyway. Because he wants to.

There's something very endearing about that, actually.


Welcome to all, your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free. It's Monday, and time for yet another oh-my-God-it-can't-already-be-time-for-that-again round of Acromania!

We have another guest judge this week. And this may work, it may not, we shall have to see.

I decided it might be an interesting idea for the judge one week to be someone who knows absolutely sod-all about acronym. The game, the players, anything. So I've found just that person. My sister Pat will be your judge this week. She's never played acro, never heard of acro, never read my blog. She's oblivious. So no, bribes will not work, you can't get her with "inside" acros, and Mike, not even you can be cute enough to influence her. I promise.

So you shall all be giving me three entries each to get your best acros to the letters below, which are, of course, randomly drawn from the acrobasket. Then I shall be listing the entries on paper and taking them to her (yes, they have a computer, I just don't think she'll be able to do this via email, to be honest; she's that out of the loop), and she will be picking the winners, at 9pm est on Tuesday. Like I said, could be interesting, could be a bust. We'll see.

And the letters this week are:


So there you have it. Now, let the acroing begin!