Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Bizness of Spelling

I had to go driving today. Another TheCompanyIWorkFor class. Meaningless and boring, but I got 2 hours of valued Continuing Ed credit for it.

I arrived on time, parked in the lot, then proceeded into the district TheCompanyIWorkFor building. I saw a sign on a building fifty or so yards away. Then I saw it again, because I had to look twice. It looked like it said "Cruzy Duizy," which I'm supposing would be pronounced "Cruisey Dweezy." I walked, still looking, thinking, "What in the hell kind of store is that?" Then I noticed that on either side of the door facings of the building, in letters going up and down, it said "Tattoos." Only the "A"s in both "Tattoos" were upside down. Then, intelligent being that I almost am, I realized that that first sign said "Crazy Daizy," and both of the "A"s in those words were upside down as well.

And the reason I mention this is not because I was overcome with worry that someone would let a person named Crazy Daizy put a permanent ink drawing upon his or her person, although I must admit that since then I've thought about that quite a bit.

The reason I mention this is because it's yet another example of the way people open businesses and spell things wrong.

Sometimes I take this all for granted and it doesn't bother me much. Like Tastee Freez. Spelling things with two "E"s on the end just means it's that much more, right? Tastee is much tastier than Tasty. Just like Crazee is way more crazy than Crazy, and Krazee is about as crazy as one can get. In fact, anyone who'd let someone named Krazee Daizy near him or her with a tattoo needle would be, well, for want of a better word, krazee. (Now, I will admit that "Freez" kind of gets on my wick. But to anyplace with soft serve that good, and especially chocolate soft serve, I say, "What's a little dropped 'e' between friends?")

On the way home from my class, I passed a children's clothing store. It was called Kids' Kottage. Now that one bothered me. The switching of "C"s and "K"s - how passe. It reminds me of a catering service in a town some miles west of me. Kathy's Kustom Katering. Now, I don't know about you, but here's how I feel about it: Kathy may well be the nicest person in town, but when I look at a van slapped with the epithet Kathy's Kustom Katering, all I see is KKK. And I don't want my soiree catered by Nazis, thank you very much.

You know, I wonder sometimes what kind of ego trip ol' Kath must be on. There are three words in her business. She misspells two just to have them match her name. And invokes the name of the Klan. Wow.

Kathy also breaks another bad spelling rule - she doesn't own the type of business that would lend itself to the name "Kustom Katering." "Just Desserts," maybe, or "A Moveable Feast." But "Kustom Katering?"

Food places, fireworks stands, hairdressers (I don't even want to start on the bad hairdresser names), convenience stores...they have the carte blanche where bad spelling is concerned. You never see it in Banks, or Churches. Or Hospitals. Or Universities. Fargo Farmacological College. Psychiatric Apsociates, LTD (Psally Psmith, Ph.D). Peoplez Bank of Loz Angelez.

So where am I going with all of this? I've no idea. But I won't be changing it to TheCompanyIWork4 anytime soon. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Things I Like
What's a blog for if not to tell people things you like that they should be liking too?

I've discovered some guys I really really like.  Coming home from B'burg one Sunday afternoon, I heard a weekend version of NPR's "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross.  The guests were a band called One Ring Zero.  I'd never heard of them before.

They're two guys, Joshua Camp and Michael Hearst, who met while working at the Hohner Harmonica Factory in Richmond, VA.  They bonded over their love of a weird instrument called the claviola, a combination between an accordion and a breathalyzer.  (The claviola apparently flopped horribly and, after very few were made, production stopped altogether.)

So they decided to get together and form a band, having the claviola be the heart of their sound.  Well, first of all, they formed a Klezmer band called the Klezbians.  Then they went on to form the band who became One Ring Zero.

That story alone was egging me on to go check them out.  Then I heard about their new album.

Their new album, called "As Smart As We Are," contains songs - yes, songs! - with all the music written by the One Ring Zero guys, and all the lyrics written by famous authors.  Let's see, we have Dave Eggers, Daniel Handler, Jonathan Ames, Margaret Atwood, and many others.  

And that alone (even though it was now coupled with the story of the band) was egging me on to check them out.  Then I heard a soundclip in the interview.

It was for a song called "Radio," which starts out with an eerie yet rockin' claviola intro and launches with the couplet, "If I had a radio for every time you loved me so, I wouldn't have a radio at all."  I was hooked, and I knew as soon as I got home I'd be seeking out "As Smart As We Are" and ordering it for my very own.

So I got the album the first of this week (sadly, it didn't come in time for me to take it on my weekend trip).  And this album is so much fun, you all need to go out and buy it immediately.  The band - now, don't be scared by this - is somewhere between the Beatles and They Might Be Giants.  A couple of gals guest vocal on a few songs.

The above-mentioned "Radio" is without a doubt the fucking catchiest song I've heard since Fountains of Wayne's "Red Dragon Tattoo," and that's saying a lot.  But there's also "Natty Man Blues," the lament of how there's no Sin in Cincinnati, and "Half and Half," the unabashedly happy and carefree ode to hermaphroditism.  There's even a 28-second song whose lyric is a haiku.  Oh, and "Frankenstein Monster Song," where The Monster pleads for a woman.

The whole album is just infinitely interesting and fun, and you can get it at Amazon if not in your local record store.  So do that.

PS - I also really like the Office Max Rubberband Man.  He's just such a happy dude.  I wouldn't even mind going back to school in the fall if the Rubberband Man would come and bring me some neato supplies.

PPS - I also like Tony Packo's Pickles and Peppers.  They're probably eating the lining out of my stomach, but I like 'em.

PPPS - Any of the above can send me free stuff and I will accept it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Picture Acro Thing Winners
Well, hello, hello, hello.

I waited a while, lest we have a few more entries.   And here I was worried because people might be up in arms if I didn't have an acro this week.

But the entries we got were great, so let's get right to it.  The topic this week was The Picture Of The Tomato Crammed Full Of Stuff.  The letters were O D A O T D E.  The entries:

*Olive dies atop outrageous tomato. Details eleven.
*Onions deny allegations olive tried deathly elixir.
*Olive daughter admitted olive, tomato definitely enamored.
*Olivia demands an Open Tuna Display entrée.
*Over decades, any overripe tomato delicacy endures.
*Oppose decorative appetizers! Obliterate Tomato Dish! Eliminate!
*Obviousy dated, an odious tomato deserves excoriation. 
*One day, an ovoid tomato delivered everything. 
*Often dismissed, an old tomato dish ecstafies.
*Oh damn, another oversight: tomatoes don't explode!
*Odd dieting, as opposed to decent eating.
*Old Dinner Accidents; or, Tomato Disruption Experience 

OK, good entries all, but let's dispense with the small talk and get to it.

First to the Honorable Mentions.  They are Flipsycab's "Olivia demands an open Tuna Display entree."  You go, Olivia!  And DeepFatFriar's "Obviously dated, an odious tomato deserves excoriation."  Yep, it's obviously dated (1973, to be exact), and I love using the word "odious" anyway.

This week's Runner-Up is Mr Mike with his "Old Dinner Accidents, or Tomato Disruption Experience."  I'll bet they didn't put that at the top of the card for no other reason than it wouldn't fit.

But this week's winner outdid herself.  Our Kellie not only did some fine storytelling overall with all three of her entries, but her first, "Olive dies atop outrageous tomato.  Details eleven," just cracked me up.  To me, the funniest part of that whole picture was that really sad olive laying up there, and to do a whole list of entries about it was very ingenious.  Go, Kellie!

Thanks for playing acro, everyone!

Monday, July 26, 2004

Sunday Acro Monday Picture Mania
First of all, may I just say thank you for playing Caption the Picture.  All the entries were wonderfully funny and clever, and I declare you all the winners.

OK, I tried to decide how to combine two days' blogs into one, and I think I may have come up with an answer.  First, I'm going to show you a couple of pictures, though.

The first is something I found when I was cleaning this evening.  I hadn't thought about it in ages, and it made me laugh.  It was when Taytie was in kindergarten.  And since I've gotten a couple of weepy comments lately about how yall can't believe he's all grown up now (hell, I can't believe it either), I thought I'd scan the copy of it I have.  His mom, of course has the original.  So may I now present to you - the masterpiece - "My Family:"


I know it's kind of hard to read, especially since it was a little bigger than the scanner wanted to copy it at.  But "My Family" consists of his dad, Brian, spelled "Brine," him ("me"), his mom ("Pat"), and their dogs at the time, Guinness (spelled "ginas") and Shandy ("Shande" - he was close on that one).  Then at the left you'll see his recently departed (they lasted about two weeks) goldfish, whose names were, if I recall, Zed and Mickey.  He didn't get that familiar, though, labeling them "goldfish - died," and "died to."  Bless his little heart.  I can remember, "Pulp Fiction" hadn't been out that long, and upon Zed's departure, my sister called me and said, "Zed's dead, baby.  Zed's dead."

Anyway.  The next picture I'm throwing in as an informational thing, just to let you know that somewhere out there, Percy Brown is walking around without his credentials.


Apparently, he abandoned his nametag the last day of Clarinetfest - just went wild, I guess - so I picked it up.  Who knows, I might want to be Percy Brown one day.

And now, finally, the moment you've all been waiting for.  This week's round of Acrochallenge will be tied into the Recipe of the Week.  This week we have everybody's favorite, the stuffed tomato salad.  Which to me is tuna in a hollowed out tomato, but to these folks it's oh-so-much more.  Shrimp, potatoes, mayo, eggs, mustard, sour cream, and a bunch of other stuff (except tuna) all mixed together and crammed right into that tomato there.


So this week's acro is:  acro anything you want to about the above picture. 

Three entries to come up with the best acro you can, I'll be judging tomorrow at 9pmish.  If it helps you at all, the serving suggestion is the tomato itself, along with "assorted relishes," and "creamy cheese pie," which I'm wondering whether or not is a fancy person's way of saying "cheesecake."

And here are the letters with which to embellish our recipe:

There you have it.  Two - two - two blogs in one!

(ps - Blogger has some neat new features, but one of them I hate - I can't seem to reduce the space between the end of the blog and my name and comments.)

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Picture Sunday, Almost Kinda
Hello to all.  I'm back from the wilds of the Greater DC Area and Clarinetfest, which was held at the University of Maryland.  The University of Maryland, where Mr M and I finally got the lay of the land today, the day we left.  Funny, everything took place between two buildings, but we managed to get turned around many, many times.  Oh, we zany Clarinet players.

I have a feeling you probably don't want a minute by minute rundown of everything that happened, but I'll try to hit the high spots.  On Friday night we got to see a concert by jazz clarinetist Don Byron, who was not only ultra cool, but was also the first clarinetist I saw at the Fest who was better than Mr M.  He also had much better hair and glasses. 

Saturday I went to a talk given by David Krakauer, who's a Klezmer clarinetist.  Now, I gotta tell you, this got me all riled up and, even though my clarinet talent is waning by the second, I really want to try to learn some Klezmer stuff.  I was rapt for most of it.

And speaking of my talent waning by the second....  On Saturday I also got an impromptu clarinet lesson.  Mr M met up with his buddy and sometime clarinet teacher David Neithamer, a very talented musician and a nice guy.  M had been wanting him to listen to me for a little while to cure up some of the ongoing problems I've been having with my playing, and he was nice enough to oblige.  Although I didn't really hold up my end of the bargain. 

See, the bargain was that when David took over, I would be just as whiny and surly and as much of a spitfire as I am to Mr M.  But when the time came, I was on my best behavior.  I just couldn't bring myself to call him an asshole and tell him to fuck off.  I tried, but I just couldn't complete the task.

Anyway, the upshot of the whole lesson ended up being - I have to basically learn how to play all over again.  Well, how to tongue, anyway.  It's just awful, and I honestly don't know if I can do it.  See, I've been tonguing the wrong way for the approximately 34 years I've been playing.  I mean, it was no surprise, I knew I was doing it wrong, I just didn't realize how hard the actual correct technique would be to work on.  But I promised I'd work on it and Mr Neithamer gave me some exercises to be working on.  Oh, my.

Saturday night also included a visit from the DeepFatFriar, and we went out to eat at an Italian restaurant.  It was absolutely scrumptious till I had to duck into the rest room and throw it all back up.  My first puking in a public rest room.  Mark that one down.  After that, we went back to the hotel and talked religion, semantics, and generally had a good time.  Always good to see the Friar.

This morning was all performances, including one by David himself, and it all ended up with the President's Own Marine Band Clarinet Choir.  That was a pretty impressive thing.

Anyway, it was a long trip back home, and I'm worn out, haven't even unpacked yet, and so Picture Sunday is going to have to be postponed.  And yes, I know you're all going to hate me, but I'm postponing it till tomorrow, and I'll stick Acromania somewhere if I get a chance.  I'm tired. 

But soon I'll be recovered and will have lots of Sherman pics ready for The Galerie.  He really got around at Clarinetfest, and was even described as "awesome" by a college student.

Until then, here's what we'll do.  We'll play a rousing game of "Write a Caption for this Picture."  I wanted to take a picture of Mrs M and N, so I took a "regular" one, then decided they needed an "action shot."  So I gave them my clarinet and left them to their own devices.  This is what they came up with.

So...caption this picture.


And that's it for me for tonight.  Bet out.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

And Now For Something Completely Different

Believe it or not, I did something different Monday night.

After nights and nights of swimming, cooking, eating, doing laundry, playing clarinet, watching movies, and cleaning house, I took a little trip. I went to a DCI show.

DCI is Drum Corps International. Yeah, I know. Band geek stuff. And I know that drum corps is kind of killing what marching bands used to be, or at the very least bastardizing it, and I'll always take a marching band over a drum corps any day of the week. But hey, it's marching people in uniforms and shiny horns. And it's fun. You know I can't resist.

And it was a blast. Literally and figuratively. Boy, there sure is some by-God tootin' outta them kids' horns.

I went with my sister, my brother in law, Mr "I Just Got My Learner's Permit 3 Hours Earlier" Taytie, and Taytie's Friend, who is also a band drummer. (BTW, I just threw in the learner's permit part to warn People of Earth to stay off the roads. I was going to limit it to drivers in the state of Virginia, but you know, just to be safe.)

Anyway, we all piled into the vehicle and set off down the road the two or so hours to the show, and got there in perfect time - which means, early enough to not miss anything, but not so early that we had to sit around and wait. There were seven bands there competing. They were all "world class," meaning, all bands you'd see in the big DCI world championship competition. And two of probably the top three bands in the DCI world were there, The Cadets and The Cavaliers.

The bands play in reverse order of their standing in the ongoing DCI ratings. So the first bands, save for one group (The Capitol Regiment) that just knocked me out, were good, although  nothing that made you swoon. But the Cadets and Cavaliers were something else altogether.

The Cadets, who hail from Bergenfield, NJ, did a show entitled - get this - Living With The Past (The Music of Jethro Tull). Now, when we read this in the program, we laughed heartily. Several times. Especially seeing as how drum corps have no flutes. I mean, how are you going to do Jethro Tull with no flutes? But one would be amazed at how well some Jethro Tull tunes adapt as band arrangements. Really. One would. They also had a nice balance of seriousness and fun, some of the fun coming from the drumline, but most of it coming through from the flag guard, who wore seventies ruffly shirts and skin tight blue jeans and looked like they'd just come from seeing Led Zepplin. They also had an honest-to-God baton twirler, which I haven't seen in I can't tell you when. And he was not only good, but could do cartwheels and Russian leaps in those skin tight blue jeans as well.

The Cavaliers, who hail from Rosemont, IL, and who, although upset last year in the worlds, are generally regarded as The Best, had a little bit of a departure with their show. They're known for innovative music, which they normally have composed just for them, but this year they just went wild with Anglophilia. Their show was a medley of songs from James Bond movies (yes, Mike, you'd have just peed your pants with excitement). And they were amazing.

See, first of all, you have to realize that the Cavaliers don't march so much as they sprint. They actually run, bent-kneed, around the field for 10 or 15 or whatever minutes playing their instruments. I frankly don't see how they do it, but it sure is a sight to see, and I admire them greatly for it. The music itself was very entertaining and well-played, and they threw in all kinds of added Bondian touches. Whenever a trumpet came forward to play a solo, instead of the obligatory stepping out and waiting for his turn, theirs would leap out, wielding the trumpet like a gun until time to play. You could also see, at various points, little touches like the drummers throwing in a shooting motion with their drumming (while stopping to blow on the smoking gun), and players miming drinking a martini and throwing back the glass. Cute stuff.

When it came time to announce the winners, it was pretty obvious the Cavaliers would win out. But for me, the choice wasn't so simple. The Cadets were just so good, and well, they had the balls to play Jethro Tull in a band show! But the Cavaliers were so polished, and on the marching (running) alone, I had to give them the edge. We were scoring at home, or in the bleachers, in our program, and put the Cavaliers as winners by 2 points. As it turned out, we were generous. The Cavaliers did indeed win, but by a scant .5 of a point. And I was glad. I would have been happy with a tie, actually.

In the car, on the way to the show, I discovered something. Apparently, it's not just Taytie. And when I say that, I think I've mentioned before that the boy's a drummin' fool. On his leg, his head, my head, the car seat, whatever, constantly beating out cadences with his hands and fingers, pencils and sticks. Well, it must be a drummer thing, because Taytie's Friend was exactly the same way. Lost in thought, forever drumming out rhythms and cadences.

On the way back, though, I discovered something else. The "secret language" of drummers. All fired up by the drummers and percussion they'd seen earlier, T and T's Friend spent the entire trip home talking about things they could incorporate into the GHS band. The conversation went something like this:

T: At that one part we could go "paradiddle diddle, diggadigga diggadig diggadig diggadugga diggadugga."
T's F: Oh, that's good, then how about "digga digga digga digga dit dit dit dit. Sixteenth, thirty-seconds, thirty-seconds, bomp...bomp...bomp...digga digga digg! Two and five, two and five, bomp bomp."
T: Oh, man! I can't wait for band camp!
T's F: Oh, man!

Two hours of that is, um, really interesting.

By the way, I'm leaving tomorrow evening for another little excursion of a decidedly different nature. Mr M and I are going to Clarinetfest, the annual convention/gathering of the International Clarinet Association. Yes, I know. A Nerd's Paradise. But I'm oddly looking forward to it. I'll let you know Sunday how it all turned out.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Hello all, and welcome to the winners' ceremony in Acroland.

And may I just say I hate being judge?  It's too hard to pick out of a bunch of good entries.  But pick, I shall.

This week's topic was "Words of Wisdom," and the letters were L C R T N V.  The entries:

*Learn correctly, revise tentatively, never vascillate.
*Libraries can really tempt naked vagrants.
*Let crooks, robbers, and teenagers naivelly vandalize.
*Lousy charisma repels those nubile virgins.
*Little children required to not vocalize.
*Lily, clean room. That's NOW, verily.
*Laughing Can Really Tame Nervous Vibes
*Learn Chinese. Rarely talk Near Vietnamese.
*Leave Christmas Rationing Til November! Violation!
*Leave children rearing to nervous virgins.
*Let chaos reign till numbness vanishes.
*Laughing cats reveal thoughts not ventured.
*Leave car racing 'til next vacation.
*Laotians can't resist taunting naked Vietnamese.
*Little children require tasty, nutritious vegetables.

Fine, fine entries all.  So let's start handing out the trophies.

First of all, Honorable Mention goes to Jellybean with her "As Mom always said to me, learn correctly, revise tentatively, never vascillate." 

This week's runner-up is Flipsycab with her cryptic "As Mom always said to me, cats reveal thoughts not ventured."  Now there are some words of wisdom to take through life.

But the winner this week is that man of mystery Mike with his "As Mom always said to me, Laotians can't resist taunting naked Vietnamese."  That actually sounds like an old saying - maybe about the nature of people's constant will to make other people miserable.  It was great.

Congrats to Mike, and to all who played.

Monday, July 19, 2004

Hello to all, welcome to Monday, it's time for another endorphine-releasing round of Acromania!
I'm doing this on the fly today, so let's just get right down to business here.  I'll be judging this week, and I think my topic is going to be called "Words of Wisdom."  Think of it this way, your acro will be along the lines of an old adage, as in "Well, as Mom used to always say to me...."
The other rules are the same, everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that fits the topic and corresponds to the letters below, randomly drawn from the acrobasket.  I'll do the judging sometime around 9pm est tomorrow night.  I'll then announce the winners, who'll wave and smile and, knowing this crowd, probably taunt the non-winners.
OK. So the topic is "Words of Wisdom."  And the letters are...
As Mom used to always say to me...
There you go - happy acroing!

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Picture Sunday
Ah, hello to all on this Sunday Eve.   Well, wouldn't technically Sunday Eve be Saturday?  Just like Summer's Eve, that feminine product.  Summer's Eve would actually be Spring, right?
Had a trying day.  Played in a band concert, then had to haul ass back home to make it to my dad's birthday party - he turned 75 today.  I was over an hour late, didn't even stop at the Poderosa on the way there, and I'm just now home and able to breathe.
OK, first order of business, since I had a request.  My hair.  It's an odd thing, my hair.  I'd heard forever that after surgery you can experience some pretty massive and therefore scary hair loss. When told that, what did I do?  I laughed!  "Oh, my hair falls out all the time now," I joked.  In fact, I even blogged about that, as evidenced by this link: Thursday, Sept 26, 2002.   Well, little did I know that the joke would be on me.  Because my hair is coming out.  It's thinning.  It's clinging to my hands in the shower, and my nice clean cotton shirts are covered with my own fallout.
Now, some people say this is from a lack of protein, and others say it makes no difference how much protein you get in, the shock your body goes through when you lose a lot of weight manifests itself in this way.  All I can tell you is I'm browsing toupee catalogs.  By the way, why did Fred buy his wig at the thrift store?  Because he didn't want to pay!
But anyway, onwards and upwards, and yes, as you all know, it's Picture Sunday here at Betland.  This is where people gather from far and wide in ones and twos and look at whatever I've taken pictures of this week.
First of all, since it is his day, here's a picture of my dear old dad on his 75th.  He's wearing the "Birthday Boy" blue ribbon.  You saw him a while back at age 18 or so, so this is what a wife and family have done to him.

I cut out his drink and cigarette, but I promise you, they're there.
Next, for the youngest of the clan.  Taytie now when he comes over, immediately heads for my dad's guitar so he can show us what he's learned - he's getting quite a repetoire under his belt.  I asked him tonight when he was adding singing to his list of talents, and his reply was "Never."  Oh well.

Now, I took a great picture of S today at the concert, which was at Smithfield Plantation, but I saved it for the Galerie de Chien et Garcon.  Go look at it here.
And finally tonight's recipe.  I think you'll like this one.  It's the how-can-you-live-without-it Creamed Shellfish in a Rice Ring.  We've got some scallops, crabmeat, and shrimp all creamed together there - I mean, who wants seafood if it's not all milked up? - and stuck in the middle of a ring made of rice stuck together with milk and with some parsley in it.  And for a wonderful finishing touch, they've set the whole thing down on some raw green beans.

Well, I don't know, they could be cooked.  In fact, I guess they are, because that's what you serve with the ring, green beans.  And lemon meringue pie.  And then you take a cosmic trip to the bathroom.  I love those placemats, though.  I'd like to have some for my kitchen.  They're all Picasso-like and shit.
Hey, and those people cheated.  I see a salad on the table too.
Oh well, have a good week, everyone.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Artificial Sex

I seem to have the summer blahs. I can't even make myself blog.

I have some problems. First of all, I'm tired. I'm just plain old garden-variety, everyday fuckin' tired. I travel too much. I work too much. I do too much laundry and housework (though one, upon entering my home, would never say, "My, you sure must clean a lot"). By way of punishing myself for sins committed, I swam not 40 but 50 laps last night. Then I came home, made dinner, did two loads of laundry, folded, put away, and promptly sat in the Comfy Chair and died. I missed Squeeze chat, I didn't get to talk to Mr M; hell, I even missed Letterman. I woke up at 1:30, washed my face, and transferred to bed.

Then, there's the puking. I ate lunch today, the same chicken & vegetables I ate last night and was perfectly happy with. After about 3 bites I got really tired of it and set it aside. Then, blammo. I threw up so hard my nose bled. That's hard.

Anyway, for the last few days or so, hell, maybe even weeks, I've had tiny thoughts rumbling around through my mind. Which is apt. It's a tiny mind. They're just fleeting thoughts of things, things I'd like to mention, but things that aren't nearly important enough to expand to a full-figured blog (The Playtex Full-Figured Blog!).

One is on another "My Man Couldn't Get It Up And Now He Takes This Drug And He's A Regular Bedroom Wonder And Boy Am I So Grateful Because I'm A Brainless Simp And Have No Life Of My Own Without Him And/Or Even Though We're Being Portrayed As Upper Middle Class Here I Apparently Can't Afford A Vibrator" commercial. I think this one's for Levitra. (I actually know a girl named Levita. It's very close, you'll notice.)
After the woman tells us all how happy she is because her heretofore limp husband got his second wind, so to speak, Mr Voiceover Announcer comes on and tells us the side effects of wonderdrug Levitra. As they do. One side effect is a runny nose. Now, I don't know about you, but the last thing I want is some man all pilled up on Levitra jumping on top of me with his nose dripping.

I just hate those erection pills. I still say they could be out there finding a cure for cancer or the common cold instead of finding new ways to perk up a man's weenie. A weenie's either meant to work or it's not. It's not up to us to change Nature's Plan. And now they have the female version of them! Avlimil! (Not to be confused with precocious Canadian singer Avlamil Lavigne.)
I love the Avlamil commercials. Some young, beautiful woman saying, "I used to want to all the time. Then the kids came along and the time was never right. Now, I just don't have the energy. The desire."

Yeah, in the real world, that's called life.

Oh well. I guess they had to come up with something for the women who were having to deal with their husbands all hopped up on weenie pills. And they couldn't come up with a drug that turns your husband into George Clooney. Really, Avlimil pales in comparison if you think about it.
Oh.  And my hair's falling out.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Finally, Acrowinners!

Wooo! Again, folks, sorry about the judging snafu. Flipsy actually sent me an email last night about the finals, and like I said, I didn't get it till the wee hours of today. And before you get all excited about my having a social life or something, I was just at a band concert, with sun in my eyes and a crick in my neck. But a song in my heart.

This week's topic was "Another Useless Business Meeting." The letters were E C G M G O I. The entries:

*Everyone's cowering -- general manager got overly imbibed.
*Enhanced corporate greed motivates garrulous oratory. Ick.
*Executives can gladly meet. Grunts obscure images.
*Egads! Can't get management's goddamned overheads illuminated.
*Ergonomic cushions? Godawful meetings go on indefinitely.
*Even Cary Grant made good on Intel.
*Edgar Called Girlfriend. Meeting Going On Indefinitely.
*Evan Can Get Mightily Gassed On Inefficiencies.
*Early Call. Group Meeting. Going On In.
*Elvis Costello glared. Moguls gushed, "Oh, Impostor!"
*Every cartographer gathered, Mr Greaves offered insults.
*"Either Carter goes, Maury goes, or I!"
*Even Curious George might grow old inside.
*Eventually, corporate gurus might get over it.
*Every committee generates meetings gargantuan, obtuse, inane.
*Executive committee general meetings go on indefinitely.
*Employees came, generally mocked guests, openly irritated.
*Everybody created gliding machines galore of itineraries.

Wow, that's a lotta entries! And may I say, my little theory previously mentioned didn't come to pass. I really didn't think I'd be the only person to mention The Elv, with those first two letters being EC. I mean, come on, Mike.

But now, it's finally time for the big announcements, so may I introduce, fresh from a business meeting...Flipsycab!

Wow-who knew business meetings would be such an exciting and interesting topic! Personally, I can't wait to have more useless meetings now, what with all of these lovely acros to entertain and distract me while some consultant waxes idiotically for hours on end. And now for the winner of tonight's competition. . . (let's not waste time here-we all have meetings to attend!) It should be noted, ladies and gentlemen, that should the winner be unable to fulfill his/her duties, the runner(s) up will ascend to the rank of winner and carry out the duties (which are no easy task, I'll tell you something) of the Reigning Champion of Betland's Acrochallenge for This Week.

Judges, may I have the envelope, please? Oh-wait, I'm the judge. Hang on a sec. . .
(drum roll, please)

Ringing in at number 3 as a runner-up and honorable mention is Mike for his "Everybody created gliding machines galore of itineraries" entry. Gawd, how I would love to do that in the many useless meetings I attend!

And for our number 2 slot, let's give a great big Betland cheer for Michelle for her "Ergonomic cushions? Godawful meetings go on indefinitely" entry. So true, Michelle, so true. How could we possibly talk about these cushions for one more minute?

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for. . .the winner and Reigning Champion of Betland's Acrochallenge for This Week, the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, Numero Uno herself. . .is none other than our very own Bet! Her winning entry, "Either Carter goes, Maury goes, or I!" had me wishing that I'd attended the meeting in which this exciting melodrama took the place of a dull agenda!

Let's hear it for our winners!!!


Oh, my - I'm humbled. And honored. I'll try to live up to the title for the rest of the week.

Thanks to all who played, come back next week, and if you want to judge, just throw your hat in the ring, please.

Acrowinners Delayed

I'm a horrible person. Kill me now.

I just now walked in my door for the first time today, so acrowinners are not going to be posted till later on Wednesday. I apologize profusely to everyone who played and has been waiting on the winners.

I suck.

Monday, July 12, 2004


Good evening, ladies and germs.

Acrochallenge is back from a week of fly fishing out west. He's rested and raring to go - as is, I hope, our guest judge, the one and only Flipsycab!

Flips came up with a very interesting idea for a topic, I think. TheCompanySheWorksFor must be a little bit like TheCompanyIWorkFor, because her chosen topic is "Another Useless Business Meeting." So put on your thinking caps and think about all those useless meetings you have at work, which, if you're me, are all of them.

The other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronyms they can to the letters below, which are about to be drawn from the acrobasket by my precious hand as we speak. Judging will be around 9pm my time, if that's OK with Ms. Flipsy.

And without further ado. The topic, "Another Useless Business Meeting." The letters:


Hmmm. I have a theory here; I'll see if it's correct as the results come in.

Happy acroing!

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Picture Sunday

You know, there are a lot of things I hate about our current administration. In fact, I could probably just say "everything" and sum it all up very quickly and we could all go home. But here's what I hate the most.

What I hate the most is when Tom Ridge calls a press conference (if I recall correctly, this past week was the 3d time he's done this), and announce that they have word of a large-scale terrorist attack on this country. However, they don't know when, they don't know where, and they don't know the method of attack.

Well, folks, I've got news for you. The when was Saturday around 6pm, the where was the B'burg Ruritan Fish Fry, and the method of attack was the B'burg Community Band's rendition of Robert Russell Bennett's arrangement of "My Fair Lady."

I mean, the arrangement sucks in the best of times. But the way we played it Saturday? Well, it was an abortion. There were people bleeding from the eyes and ears, clutching their fish-covered plates and wondering why in God's name they decided to make this their outing for a pleasant weekend out. I would just like to apologize on behalf of myself and the band to anyone who did not survive the experience.

Tra la la, dee dee dee, you are you and I am me. There, I made a rhyme. It was sublime.

Now it's Sunday, however. I haven't blogged in a little while because I felt an amazing lack of interest in writing anything. So now, thank heavens, Sunday's creeped up on us from behind, and instead of feeling the pressure to come up with something still, I can just post some pictures for you and call it a day.

The first picture is for those of you who enjoy automotive milestones. On my way home, looky what the podmobile did!

This blows my mind. I've never had a car that had 100,000 miles on it. Every car I've ever owned I've always traded off at 75,000 miles or less because 1) I didn't really like it much, or 2) everything started breaking down on it at that point. But here's my trusty, valiant, stalwart podmobile, carrying me 100,005 miles and still pluckily at my beck and call.

The next picture, I have no idea why I'm posting it. Mainly because I didn't take my camera around with me this weekend to get anything else. Then again, had I taken my camera this weekend, my pictures would have been of people vomiting up their coleslaw at the fish fry/band concert.

Anyway, of all my toys at work, my prides and joys are my wind-up toys. I keep them right by me where no kids can get them and tear them up. So, I thought I'd bring them home and let yall see them as well. Let's see, we have from left to right, Mr Peabody Walker, Pengie Waddler, Big Ice Cream Cone Walker, The Hopping Lederhosen ("Oh! Meine Lederhosen!!"), Mr Burns and Smithers in a Swan Boat Scooter, and the one that started it all, Mr Robot Walker. Mr Robot is about 30 years old, actually. Remember the story I told once about Moore's potato chips sometimes having 45 records in them? Well, Mr Robot came from a bag of Moore's too. God Bless Moore's.

I'm actually trying very hard to get the wind-up Sherman that goes with Peabody. We've been trying on e-bay, and the prices have gone up as high as $85 for pair. Wish me luck. Mr P needs his Boy.

And finally, this week's recipe. And, if I must say so myself, it's a real pip. Tonight, without further ado, may I introduce to you all....Spinach Soup!

Now, I'm going to try to steer from the rude and profane by the stating the obvious of what this looks like. I'm just not sure I've seen soup, or anything else, for that matter, quite that color and consistency before. The white stuff dolloped on top is yogurt, and those green things, that I thought were peas lying there, seem to be dill sprigs.

Anyway, it cracked me up that this is in the "Weight Control" category. Yeah, no shit! The meal they suggest is the soup, baked halibut, steamed zucchini and a baked apple.

Yep, that would control anybody's weight.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

My Priceless Coin Collection

Yesterday I had to run down to the pharmacy and pick up something. When I got back to the office and looked at my change, imagine my giddy excitement in finding I'd been given a bicentennial quarter.

As you know, or may not know, I collect things. Dust, mainly, and complaints. But I have other, more tangible collections.

Of course, you do all know I collect old Barbies, the dolls, the clothes, the cases, the cars, the paraphernalia, and on and on et cetera till you want to puke. This is what I call a "real" collection. Meaning it's filled with things some other someone might collect and enjoy and pay extortionate prices for they'd probably never get back if they tried to resell. In other words, at least one person out there besides myself, upon seeing it, might ooh and ahh.

Then I have my other collections. Like my old toys. My pull-string talking Mr Ed hand puppet that says things like "Ohhhhhhhh, Wilburrrrrr," only he doesn't say them very well because his talker is all but talked out. And my ultra-groovy Scooba Doo beatnik pull-string talking doll, who wears way too much eye makeup and says things like, "Like dig that crazy beat" and "Scoobydoo deedoo deedoo bopbop, ba doo doo dooby doo doo." Things like these fall into a different category: things I paid a good price for, though not wildly expensive, but probably wouldn't mean much to anyone but myself.

Of course I have my Sherman and Peabody collection. This is a hard one to categorize. It's not that I've sunk a lifetime's worth of money into it, although a couple of the pieces were more than chump change. It ranges anywhere from the original S & P, the ones I dress up and take places and make pictures of, to a larger version of them, which I call "glandular Sherman and Peabody," to another stuffed Peabody made by a different company, which is pretty much an embarrassment (he has poofy hair like a....poodle!), to all kinds of fun and silly stuff. Let's see, coffee mugs, hand-held pinball game, S & P sunglasses, jewelry, coloring books, thimble. T-shirts, hats. I guess this would come under the heading, "precious cargo to me and Mr M, and possibly two or three other people in the world, and kitschy junk to everyone else who thinks we have way too much time on our hands and is probably right."

Oh, and I didn't even think about my Hard Rock Cafe guitar pins. I have those at work. A guitar from all over the place, branches I've been to, and branches my nice and generous friends have been to and have seen fit to send me a souvenir. I have them all, in a line, stuck on a corkboard by their pointy pins. I like my Hard Rock guitar collection, though it's not a huge one, but people who come into the office mostly just say, "Well, look at those. Do you play the guitar?" And I have to explain that no, I got them mainly by traveling, eating and drinking, and knowing the right people. I don't throw in that I'm trying to learn autoharp, but it's not working because I don't practice much.

I've actually toyed with the idea of finding a smallish map of the US and pinning my pins on their respective locations. I can't decide if that would be cool or really dumb, or if it would keep people from asking me if I play the guitar.

And then, there's my coin collection. *ominous chord*

I know nothing about coins, many would say I know nothing about money, specifically the value of a dollar. But I have a small collection I keep spirited away in the second floor of my little collectible house.

How did I come upon my coin collection? I collect what I like. I like bicentennial quarters. I like patriots in tri-cornered hats playing fifes and drums, which is what the reverse side of the quarter shows.

I like wheat pennies. Wheat pennies make me happy. They're pretty. And they take me back to the days of my youth, when I was five or six, and wheat pennies and regular pennies shared about a 50/50 split of penny population. I generally like that they're not shiny like today's pennies. That's right, they're old and dull. Like me.

So every time I happen to luck my way into a bicentennial quarter or a wheat penny, I ferret it away until I can get it home and stick it in my little house for safe keeping.

And then I have other coins, mostly coins I came into the same way: they were just given to me, either by a grandmother when I was little, or my mom, or just from change at a store.

The liberty dollar is from Mom, she gave it to me because it's 1934, the year after she was born. I have a bicentennial JFK half-dollar and Eisenhower silver dollar, Mamaw Grasso gave me one of those, but I don't remember which.

I also have 3 liberty dimes and 1 buffalo nickel that I actually scarfed from work. They were part of coinage rolls we got for change, and when I saw them, I took them. I mean, I replaced them with 3 regular dimes and a regular nickel, it's not like I stole them. I just liked them because they were silvery and worn and, well, cool. Oh, I also have a liberty half-dollar circa 1941 that I've no idea how I came into.

I have a couple of Susan B Anthony dollars and one of those new gold dollar coins. I really hate the fact that a dollar coin just can't seem to catch a break in this country. I like the idea of a dollar coin! But every time they bring one out, people just want to horde them away to collect and they die out of circulation.

I also have a 2 dollar bill that Mamaw Grasso got for me in Washington, DC the day they were re-issued after the long absence. I keep it with my coins.

And that's my coin collection. I was putting up my latest bicentennial quarter last night and got to thinking, "Wonder if this crap's worth anything?" So I started counting.

20 bicentennial quarters, 43 wheat pennies, 2 Susan B Anthonys, a gold dollar, 3 liberty dimes, buffalo nickel, and the rest. Including the two dollar bill.

My priceless coin collection could actually net me the tidy sum of $13.78.

Think I ought to get it insured?

Monday, July 05, 2004

Acrochallenge Is Vacationing, But Here Are Some Pictures

Hello, hello. Monday holiday here, and Mr Acrochallenge seems to be taking a day of fishing at the lake. He'll return next week, though, with a guest judge and lots of fun and frivolity.

Picture Sunday also took a little trip this weekend, back to her old hometown, where she's very popular I hear.

I personally didn't get home till this afternoon, having been hanging at Mr M's and doing my patriotic duty by playing band music for the masses.

My dream came true on Saturday night when rain canceled our first gig, and we were free to do as we pleased. Mr M suggested Mexican, and so we headed out for enchiladas (my first post-surgery Mexican, and it went down great). On our way into town we passed by the local mall, where I saw that finally "Farenheit 9/11" was playing somewhere accessible, and so I begged to go see it. We hit the 10:30pm showing that same night. That movie absolutely rocked; everyone should see it. So go. Now. It's OK, I'll wait....

On Sunday, I dropped Mr M off at Parade Headquarters (I've never participated in the parade), then headed off into town to find a spot to watch. It was 94 degrees. Within minutes, the wind blew, the skies grew dark and it was 87 degrees. And then the rains came. And the thunder, and lightning, and more wind, and rain so hard I thought it was going to turn to hail. And it became 73 degrees! I was sure it was "so much for the parade."

But things blew over, and after about a forty minute wait, the sirens wailed and the parade began. And I must say I enjoyed this year's parade probably more than any other I've seen there. I took some pictures, so I thought that would be my blog for the day.

First of all, I can tell you nothing about this picture except, here is Man Ostrich. He was walking around shaking hands.

Next of all, a familiar face we all know. Everyone repeat after me: I love Smokey Bear mmmwah.

Now, these people, I loved. They were some group of people marching in the parade for a higher minimum wage. They were chanting, "Hey hey, ho ho, minimum wage is way too low." Some kid had on a papier mache cow's head, and one guy was carrying a cardboard caricature of W. with a sliding "growing lying" nose, a la Pinocchio. It was hilarious, I can't believe they got away with it, and here's a picture.

I'm not sure who the people were who created this, but it was spectacular. In fact, so spectacular that my band friend Terri said she was sure it frightened all of the town children. And that makes it a success for me. May I introduce, Uncle Sam!

And finally, what July 4th parade would be complete without a visit from the ol' Community Band, riding along in style playing "Stars and Stripes Forever." As you'll see, there's Mr M on the outside, honking on a saxophone, for some God-knows-what reason.

We skipped out on the Coasters, who were supposed to be performing after us (though I have my doubts; I don't believe the Coasters exist anymore), and went home for burgers on the grill and fireworks-watching on Mr M's back deck. He has a great view of them.

And then home today. I know they're called "long weekends," but why are they always so short?

Saturday, July 03, 2004

Here's To Ya, Uncle Sam

Back in 1988 my friend Tina, who was visiting from England (though she now lives in Ireland), said something to me that, while not bold or shocking, still sticks with me. I was telling her that I used her visit as an excuse to worm my out of going to my dreaded 10-year high school reunion. She laughed. Not at the thought of being my alibi, but at "you Americans." "You Americans are so funny about things. Like school, with your yearbooks and your school rings [she was fascinated by my class ring, btw] and your reunions. In England you do your time and they kick you out the door, saying 'don't come back.' And you don't want to."

And I think that's such an apt summary of Our Great Land.

We like to go overboard about things, including our patriotism. I don't know of any other country, save for the Old Russia, the good ol' CCCP, where people were so fervent about their love of country. And now, as we reach our 220-somethingth birthday (228? I've lost count), the fireworks, flag-waving, song-singing, beer-drinking, and meat-grilling will begin.

And that's fine with me. I'm not going to sit here and say I want no part of that. But if I sit and think about the holiday before us, I'm torn.

I have what I guess would be diagnosed as a love/hate relationship with my country. I hate a lot of what it's become. I hate the greed, the selfishness, the blame-placing, the lawsuit-filing, the laziness, the "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude that seems to have taken us over. I hate the way "freedom of speech" seems to have become "you're free to say anything you want, as long as I agree with it." I hate the pushiness, the bullying.

On the other hand, I love the actual country. I love the purple mountains' majesty and the amber waves of grain. I love that the people are, in general, open, and warm, and yeah, a little crazy, not afraid to go out on a limb. I love that in a time of crisis, people will pull together, people who don't even know each other will work side by side, or dig into their pockets to give. And yeah, in a way, I love that people aren't afraid to wave a flag and yell, "Woooo! I love this country!"

As a rule, I hate patriotic music. That's why playing the Big-Ass Independence Day Extravaganza (which has now turned into two Big-Ass Independence Day Extravaganzas) every year with Community Band is one of my very least favorite concerts of the year. I hate "God Bless America" and I detest "Battle Hymn of the Republic." "You're a Grand Old Flag" isn't bad, and "This Land is Your Land" is better, though we don't play that one.

I also, as a rule, have very little love for the military. And to be fair, I'm sure this is because of 1) the military's mentality of "yes sir, no sir, anything you say sir," and 2) what the military has become in the last 30 years - the long arm of the law for a country that wants to start a war with little or no cause.

However, our band plays a song at the B-A.I.D.E. every year called "Armed Forces Salute." It's just a medley of all of the anthems of the branches of the military. Ed asks that if you're a veteran, you stand when your anthem is played, and people applaud. And I generally make mistakes playing this song, because instead of reading the music I'm busy looking out into the audience to see the men and women stand up and be recognized. And to see if anyone ever stands up during the Coast Guard anthem.

And during that song, watching people stand up and be recognized, yes, I've been known to get a little teary.

I guess my relationship with America is the same as one's relationship with her spouse of 50 years. I love it for what I know it as, not necessarily what it is now. I love it because no matter what problems it has - and believe me, it has a lot of problems - I still think it's the best thing going.

Like if I said, if I think too hard about the holiday before us, I'm torn. Therefore, I generally choose not to think about it too hard. So, hell, pass me a beer, and a burger. And a flag. And let's sing a song.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Good Friday

So, yesterday, "Another Day," has passed and gone, and it's amazing what a sunrise and a few hours can do for you. This has been a good day. Let us rejoice!

* First of all, I called on my medical bill I thought may be a duplicate. Turns out that it, along with the one that landed in my mailbox on the same day, were both part of a larger portion of bills paid by insurance and myself. In other words, I'd already paid them. In other words, I don't have to come up with $1157!

* I ate a whole lunch without getting sick (unfortunately I've been having a little problem in that area).

* I talked to Cute Lil' Doggie's new mom. He's doing fine, and her husband can't wait to meet him (he'll be back in town tomorrow).

* Today was Friday, with a Monday off!

* My mail-order video rentals for the weekend arrived on time. "The Ladykillers," (original version), "Umberto D," and "Real Life."

* I'll be playing in not one but two July 4th concerts this weekend, and in both of them I'll be wearing a new pair of khaki trousers. And when I say new, I mean my mom bought them for me as a gift over two years ago and I've never been able to wear them. But I can now, dammit.

* My car got looked at again, not charged for it, but it may not be fixed, either. They think it could be some sort of emission sensor, so they assured me if the "check engine" light comes on again, I can drive it and I won't blow up in a fiery explosion.

* And I don't owe $1157 to the hospital. Oh, I mentioned that, didn't I?

On a sad note, though, Marlon Brando expired today. So, he was weird, the world needs a little more weirdness. Everyone will always think of him as Don Corleone, but I'll always think of him as Sky Masterson. Anyway, I've had to fight the urge all day to yell, "Hey, STELLLLLLLAAAAAAAAA!"

Have a good weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Another Day

Just punching something in here to keep things afloat. I've got nothing of note to say.

I had the afternoon off, during which I shopped, took the podmobile in for servicing, almost got a dog, then delivered said dog to another home, then shopped one more time, and came home. It was eventful, but not much of a restful afternoon away from work.

I fell in love with the little doggie, a Jack Russell terrier puppy. He was the runt of his litter and the breeder knew she couldn't sell him, so she asked my pedicurist, lover of all dogs, to find him a home. She wanted him to find a home with me, but again, I just couldn't do it. But someone I know's husband has been wanting a dog for almost a year, and we landed the little dear there. But I spent the afternoon with him while getting him home, and he was a total sweetie.

Please. Don't hate me because I'm dogless. Please don't.

After I got back home, I ate a little something, paid Mowing Boy for a job well done (um, mowing the lawn, okay??), and headed out to swim. Did that, and on the way back home, noticed - and now, this is 3 hours after having my car serviced - that my "check engine" light was on. I have a lot of driving to do this weekend. So now I have one day, tomorrow, to get it back there, find out what's wrong, and get it fixed.

And pray to God it's not expensive.

I not only paid bills tonight, but spent a large portion of the evening with my head in The Shoebox. The Shoebox is where I keep all my medical bills, paid by me or TheCompanyI'mInsuredWith, insurance statemtents, receipts, etc. I'm still trying to come up with how in the hell I'm going to pay the outstanding $1157 I have staring me in the face. In a stunning ray of hope, I think $162 of it may actually be a duplicate bill. Either that or I was so nice my anesthesiologist decided to make me pay twice.

Then I ended by finishing up watching the ultra-dour "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf."

Boy, financial nights can be depressing. The doggie was cute, though.