Friday, December 31, 2004

One Gone Too Fast

And here we are, a mere few hours left of this year.

For some strange reason I've been thinking of the last days of last year. Here's what I wrote at the time:

And I'll be celebrating. I'll be saying a few words to 2003. And to 2003 I'll be saying, "Fuck off! Go to hell and die, and carry thee from my life! I hope I never see your like again, and if I do, I hope I see you coming so I can smite your ass and get on with life. So go. Go fuck off. Now."

And to 2004 I shall be saying, "Hello, there! Hi, my new friend. Come in. Have a cookie. A drink. Let's get acquainted. Do you like TV? I have three - you can watch anytime you like! You need a loan? I'll spot you a few bucks anytime you're short."

I don't know if it was the cookie, or the karma, or divine intervention, or that things just work out this way. But 2004 was a good year. It was a very good year, I was happy, and it's all gone by too fast.

This was the year I faced my fears, let someone open me up and tinker around in my body, and got my life back as a result. As of today 102 pounds lost and counting, not afraid to go outside, to walk, to shop, to wear jewelry, to be silly, to look people in the eye, to stand up for myself, to have fun, to live life.

When one has an event that monumental, it seems trivial to mention the other things. But we'll give it a go and see what happens.

I met my goal on the Movie List. Sure, my goal was 50 less than last year, but it was realistic and I made it with 2 movies to spare. And as a result, I ended up watching movies because I wanted to see them, not because I was trying to build up numbers, and had less 1- and 2-star movies and more movies I'd not seen before.

The big trend for me this year was The Documentary. Some of my favorite movies this year have been documentaries, from the popular ("Farenheit 9/11," "The Fog of War") to the more obscure ("How To Draw A Bunny"), to the ones that inspired reams of discussion ("Capturing the Friedmans"), to the two wildest, loopiest, and flat-ass fun movies I've seen this year ("Tribute: A Rockumentary," "Dig!"). Documentaries were a great source of movie watching.

I finally got to see "Run Lola Run," which I'd been seeking out and was worth the wait. And after what, four tries? finished "Andrei Rublev," the movie whose cast I listed as "A lot of dirty Russians." I meant that literally, by the way. They were mostly covered in dirt.

This was the year I received my Doctorate in Sauerkraut Band. I'll never forget that concert - 3 or 4 weeks out of surgery, dizzy, barely able to eat a piece of cheese, not able to stand up and play, being introduced as "Doctor" Bet and having everyone in the band cheering and patting me on the back. And then having to duck out of the concert 20 minutes early because I was just too pooped to play anymore.

Oktoberfest was again a blast, went way too fast, and usually I was gassed. Actually, I wasn't, but I needed another rhyming word. I took loads of pictures for a scrapbook I was making. Am making. Will maybe someday make.

2004 was the year that saw Picture Sunday and the Recipe du Jour, with the cards that sadly will not last through 2005. Still working on that one, I am.

And even though I kept schlepping along this year in Community Band, I got a respite and breath of fresh air with the As Still Unnamed Clarinet Quartet.

I found out during my surgery what great buds I have, with get-well wishes and even gifts coming in from you. That meant everything.

This was the year that my dear Taytie entered the world of dating. He traded in his first girlfriend, a senior with a car, for his second girlfriend, a, well, a senior with a car. So if you're interested in dating my nephew, you now know what the requirements are.

The past two years I've done Bet's Wags and Gags. I decided to ditch it this year. I don't know if it's from lack of creativity, lack of goods and bads, or just lack of initiative. But let's put a gag on it nonetheless.

Anyway, it's been a great year, here in Betland, anyway, George Bush notwithstanding, but now it's time to say goodbye to 2004. And to 2004 I'll be saying, "Goodbye, my friend. Here, have another cookie, and a drink. Thanks for being so good to me."

And to 2005 I'll be saying, "Hello, my new friend. I gave my cookie away, but come on, let's go away together and see what happens."

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Another death. Artie Shaw died, at 94. That's a lot of good, musical years. Let's all dance to a chorus of "Frenesi." They normally come in threes, you know. Jerry, and Artie....
* My New Year's party isn't till tomorrow night. But everyone have a good one. Be safe, be careful.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

New Ride In Betland!

Gather round all you clowns. There's a new ride about to open in Betland.

It's called "Bet's Tunnel of Guilty Pleasures."

We enter our little moving cars shaped like The Comfy Chair. Once we're strapped in, the Awesome Ottoman joins up for us to rest our feet upon. We're given a couple of clove cigarettes and a nice big cup of coffee, and just when the headrush begins, the conveyor belt starts to move through the tunnel. (This is, of course, after we've been outfitted in pajamas, be it day, evening, or night.)

First we pass by a small table where we grab a bag of Tom's Hot Fries. Crunchy, carby, and no nutritional value whatsoever. We open and begin munching just as "The Newlywed Game" comes on the surrounding screens.

Then we enter a light-show-pumping, state-of-the-art stereo chamber blasting that country and western song that says, "Back when a hoe was a hoe, and Coke was a Coke."

Next we roll to a long slow-moving up- and downhill section where someone reads the "Gossip" page from These stories change almost daily, so there's always a reason to come back and ride.

Finally, we slide into a dark room with a window simulating morning light, where we're allowed to sleep way longer than we should.

And as we wake up to ride's end, we look around to see all the things in Betland that need cleaning and straightening up, that are still lying around uncleaned and unstraightened.

It'll be an E-ticket ride, so save your pennies.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* It is with great sadness that I mention the death of Jerry Orbach. I loved Jerry. From Lumiere in "Beauty and the Beast" to Baby's dad in "Dirty Dancing" (about which I heard him tell a hilarious story, re filming in Giles County, Virginia), to Jack Rosenthal in "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (my favorite Woody Allen movie, btw), to the never-to-be-matched Lennie in "Law and Order." We'll miss you, Jerry.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Palmed and Quartered

Hello, hello all my friends. Day 3 in New Orleans, day 2 blogging about it. Today could best be summed up by, well, get a visual in your mind - a visual of people walking. That was Mr M and I.

Now granted, we did have a nice sleep in this morning. We were getting calls from all sides of the family asking us where we were, what we had planned, etc etc, and we kept answering the phone and saying "ehhhhhhhhh. still asleep. go away."

We finally got going around noon and after a quick stop at Saks to get some wonder products for my hair (well, hopefully, more on that story as it develops), we headed to the French Quarter. We were looking for Preservation Hall, where the jazz happens. The icy snowy New Orleans turned today into the calm, sunny, and mildly warm New Orleans, and thankfully I was wearing only one jacket instead of the two I donned yesterday.

After winding our way over and back, down this street and across that one, we found Preservation Hall. It didn't open till 8pm, and so we did some more walking and picture-taking. We had lunch, then headed back to the room for a quick rest before going to the movies.

We went to see "Sideways." I made my 150th movie for the year! (I almost made it last night, actually, but we missed about the first 20 minutes of "Pulp Fiction" on cable.) I enjoyed the flick, enjoyed Paul Giamatti quite a bit, enjoyed the fact that the movie theatre sold coffee at the concession stand. It was packed to the gills, but it was a small room. Just odd to be in a theatre where every seat's taken. Doesn't happen much at home.

By the time we got out of the flick it was time to get ready for dinner. My sister and brother-in-law, the Social Directors of the trip, had already made reservations for us at a place called Mulates.

Now, I have trouble giving credit to her sometimes because she can get on my wick with her orders and scheduling, but I had a blast. Good food, seafood, live cajun music, and dancing. And Red Ale on tap.

After dinner Mr M and I caught a cab and went back down to Bourbon St and the French Quarter one last time. We zipped (well, as much as one can zip when walking through a sea of people) to Preservation Hall, only to find it full up and people lined up a block to get in. So we decided to go on a little walking quest to see if we could find some sort of alternative.

This is where things turn quite sad. Apparently the music New Orleans and the French Quarter are famous for seems to be something of a dying art. We may have seen a good Dixieland band yesterday, and a pretty good one hanging around this afternoon, but at night? In clubs? Forget it. Hell, we didn't even hear much of anything live, just rock and hip hop blasting out of speakers. I saw a blues band in a club, and a folk singer in an Irish pub. That was about it.

And so it was getting late and we were getting tired of trying, and we started back to the hotel. But not before I did something I've always wanted to do but never had the guts to - I had my palm read.

My palm reader was a man, I would have chosen a woman had there been one, but this guy was a menthol smoker, so that put me at ease. He was nice, and said all the vague general things fortune tellers are supposed to say, but I still enjoyed it. Apparently I don't need to worry about death or life-threatening illnesses till my late 70s or early 80s. I'm going to come into "a little money" (damn, he didn't even say "some money," it was "a little." I mean, that could be $1.50) quite soon, either connected with work or through a gift.

It all ended with him telling me I was a nice person, and I often got taken advantage of because of it. Well, that part was correct enough. Maybe I had it written all over my face.

And in conclusion, ladies and germs, for tomorrow I'm going back home, here was my tally for today:

* Danced a waltz with Mr M
* Danced a two-step with my dad
* Had a palm reading
* Caught my 150th movie
* Drank cup of coffee #8
* Braved a department store the day after Christmas
* Took a picture of a seriously big-ass accordion

It's going to be a long trip home tomorrow, but I'm ready. It's been fun here, but I'm ready.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The big tsunami in Asia took place in a town called Phuket? You've got to be kidding me.

Happy Christmas From The Road

Hello to all, and a very happy holidays. I'm here in New Orleans, blogging courtesy of Mr M, who paid an additional extortion fee to get the internet service in the hotel room.

And speaking of Mr M, he's had the most quotable line of the trip so far. "So much for the sunny goddamn south."

It was cold yesterday when we arrived, about mid-30s. Funny how finally getting out of the car and into your room and the heady excitement of being someplace new will take the chill right off. We walked parts of the French Quarter, and to lunch and dinner, and were fine.

This morning, however, we woke up to something a little different. Ice. At first we thought it was just raining hard on the windows, but when we ventured outside to find the Christmas Jazz Parade, we discovered that hard sound on the window was ice chips being hurled at us by none other than Mother Nature herself. When I got off the street car and started down the stairs into the French Quarter today, it was like walking on an Icee. Little bits of ice condensed into the wetness.

And needless to say, or maybe needed to say, I don't know, the Christmas Jazz Parade didn't come off. Mr M and I did get to hear a nice Dixieland combo playing at what would have been the parade's beginning point, though, and while the sister, bro-in-law, and Taytie explored other venues, we stayed there to listen.

You know where this story is going, and you're indeed correct, Mr M and I were at our meeting-back-up place at the appointed time, but were not met up with. After waiting around a freezingly uncomfortable amount of time, we headed back to the hotel on our own, deciding to forgo the streetcar for a trip on foot. Which was a good thing, as we found out once we were back in the hotel that the ice had downed all the streetcars in town - I could have still been there waiting, thus depriving you all of this mind-numbingly boring blog entry.

The sunny goddamn south indeed. But tomorrow's supposed to be better. And I did get a nice shot out of the hotel window of snow covering the tops of the buildings here.

What I've done so far in New Orleans:
* Drank seven cups of coffee
* Had my picture made with a giant shrimp
* Drank my first-ever martini, followed by my second and third-ever martinis which got Auntie Bet quite bombed. R Sackerson, I'm right there with ya.
* Wondered how I was going to deal with all the food I've been confronted with
* Run through the revolving door at the Wyndham Plaza (several times)
* Drank a beer
* Been allowed to pick out any CD I wanted at Tower Records courtesy of Mr M (I went wild and picked something by the Brian Jonestown Massacre)
* Been in a lot of shops that sell things that say New Orleans on them

Yes, it's been a riveting day and a half so far.

Tomorrow I'm going to the movies even if I have to go alone (the shops at our hotel include a theatre, which is showing "Sideways"), am probably making a foray into Saks Fifth Avenue (also attached to the hotel) because I haven't spent enough money yet and I thought I'd waste some on hair care products, and then Mr M and I are going exploring and band-hunting.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* You know, if they'd sell those olives at the bottom of a martini, they could make a fortune. I know I'd buy them.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Happy Holidays

I'm leaving today for New Orleans. But first I wanted to wish you blogees, my favorite people, a very happy holiday. I hope you get what you want, in the presence of those you love.

My dream is to find access to blog on location, but in case I don't, love you all, and see you when it's all over.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Invitation to the Galerie

I told you a couple of weeks ago I'd let you know when Sherm's picture with Santa (the real Santa) would be posted on my site.

Well, it is, at the bottom of this page.

While you're there, I invite you to look around - you might find some stuff you'll enjoy. I especially recommend the "S Goes Hollywood" Wing. Some new images there, though my personal favorite will always be the Che Guevara audition picture.

Galerie de Chien et Garcon

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My old nemesis is back. That would be packing. I want to go on this Christmas trip, I just don't want to have to pack my clothes to do it. I'm considering buying everything new once I get there.
* Amazing Race: Jonathan must be stopped. If it takes death to do so, then so be it.

Monday, December 20, 2004

Rare Discovery and Christmas Essay

Well, not an essay as such.

First of all, Peabody approached me today with something he was having a chuckle over, and he thought I might enjoy it. I was shocked.

It's an old still from an audition Sherman did in 1964. He tried out for what was sure to be an obscure Christmas TV Special, as a little elf who didn't want to be an elf. His character was to be called Shermey. Of course he passed the audition with flying colors, but at the last moment the producers decided to go with some unknown. And so Shermey was changed to Hermey, and I think you know the rest.

But the picture's lovely - it's my boy and Rudolph doing a little "We're A Couple Of Misfits."

I thought a little Christmas game might be in order for the few of you who are still out there. We won't put a deadline on this game, yall can play it all the way up to springtime if you like.

Let's say they're casting a Hollywood shoot of "Rudolph." Of course Rudolph and Abominable will be FX'd in later, but they'll need voices. We also need casting for Hermey, Melf (Tall Elf), Yukon Cornelius, Misfit Doll, Charlie in the Box, Elf Leader, Sam the Snowman, and of course, Santa and the Mrs.

Who are you going to cast?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Damn, I lied. I've only seen 145 movies. I guess it's Buckwheat Groats for me this Christmas.
* It was -2 degrees here this morning. Right now it feels like -2 in the dennette. And my socks are wet from being outside.
* The Dept of Betland Security would like to announce that a pre-holiday change in the alert status has Bet as "giggly." Please don't say the phrase "Aged Pecorino Cheese" around her, the laughs will never stop.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Picture Sunday

Hello, all my Sunday friends!

Welcome to what promises to be a very exciting Picture Sunday. Not for the pictures so much as the news of the weekend.

Left the house for B'burg at about 1:30 yesterday afternoon, and didn't arrive at Mr M's until about 5:30. Along the way I did what turned out to be some really really fun Christmas shopping. The family decided that since we'll be on the road but it would still be nice to have a present to open, that we'd exchange names. I got Taytie, which was pretty much a dream (and I can mention this because he doesn't read my blog), so I picked his up, got a little something for Mr M, a stocking stuffer or two - and then I picked up a little something for myself.

See, here's the story. I had some Sauerkraut Band money that was definitely not burning a hole in my pocket. I've been hanging onto it forever trying to decide how to spend it. I wanted to buy something for myself but kept thinking, "Nah, that's wasteful, I could spend it on better stuff, nyah nyah whine whine, etc." But I still wanted this thing. And last weekend I hit the 100 pounds lost mark and so I decided, hell, I need to do something for myself. And since my ears couldn't really fit in another piercing and I don't want a tattoo (two things that seem to be very popular as landmarks in the WLS world), I just thought I'd throw caution to the winds and buy myself a present. And here it is:

Yep, I got a new digital camera. It's a Canon A75, which is familiar to at least one of you, since the dishy Michelle has the same kind of camera. I'm still getting used to it, though, I've taken some pretty ragged pictures so far. But it's really cool, it has stuff the old one didn't have, and I look forward to a long friendship, as well as learning to use it correctly before I go on my trip.

Then I finally made it to Mr M's, where there was something of a gathering going on. Well, a small gathering. The lovely SB from Sauerkraut Band was over, and we were joined by the very lovely Kellie, of oboe and acro fame. And Ervin, Kellie's way too cute little boy. And wouldn't you know it, nice person that she is, Kellie came bearing gifts. Tell me now if this isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen:

Wow, that is just excellent, and is going right into my office tomorrow morning. You know, I thought he was adorable when I opened him, but when I sat him out tonight to take his picture, I'm even more in love with him. Because he's waving! "Hello, I'm Sprout!" Thanks, Kellie!

Today was the day of the first ever concert by that clarinet quartet whose name shall not be mentioned. That's because we still don't have one. We made light of this fact during the concert.

We played at a retirement village, for a small crowd, but they were very nice to us and kept telling us how wonderful we were. Which was a blatant lie, because we were pretty spotty. Not only did we have some squeaking problems, we had some entrance problems with certain songs, and to beat it all, we kept losing our music. I'm serious - we had sheets of music literally flying around the room. I tried to snag page 3 of "The Manatee Rag" out of the air, but failed, and it also fell to the floor.

Now, hot off the press, is yet another soundclip for those interested. This is a different tune than the ones posted last week.

Part IV of The Divertimento Thingie

Anyway, we got our trial by fire, no one died, we had a really nice dinner afterwards, and M's (that's M, not Mr M) mom was kind enough to take our picture for posterity's sake.

These people need a name. And some windclips.

And thus ended the weekend. Except for driving home in the cold cold wind, and arriving back in B'field to find a good dusting of snow, and more expected. Oh, I hope I hope I hope.

You know, when little boys and girls are good, at Christmas they go to bed with of visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. What you may not know, however, is that really bad little boys and girls, and I mean we're talking the serious stinkers, the tantrum-throwers and the schoolyard bullies, they go to bed with dreams only of this week's recipe du jour - the food equivalent of a lump of coal, the dreaded Buckwheat Groats!

I mean, this is for little boys and girls who've committed murder. Arson. Genocide. Crimes against humanity. This is Santa's revenge for dog-kicking, pants-peeing, and public nose-picking.

This recipe is so bad that that it says, other than the groats, water, oil, (oily groats!) and onion, "3/4 cup diced cooked meat." Meat! They know you're not gonna fix this dish, they don't even specify what kind of fucking meat to put in it. And by the way, if this is under "Natural Foods," shouldn't it be forgoing the meat anyway?

The serving menu says the dinner should also include Waldorf salad, roast pork, buttered green beans, and poached peaches. But I'm warning you, bad little boys and girls, you pants-peers and dog-kickers: While Mom and Dad are having a nice slice of roast pork, you're getting nothing but a big bowl of Buckwheat Groats. With cooked meat on top.

Happy week. If that's possible now.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I really want to hit 150 movies for the year. I'm currently at 146. Can I do it? Do I dare?
* I'm serious, guys, you'd better be good. Buckwheat Groats, man.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Looking At The World Through Crossed Eyes

I had an eye appointment this morning.

I hadn't mentioned this previously because, well, to be honest, because I haven't been blogging much lately, a fact for which I am truly remorseful, even though things have been a whirl here and I just don't have much to say nor the time in which to say it. I basically got a stern talking to by my folks when I mentioned to them Tuesday night how I was worried about my eyes and it'd been over 2 months since I'd gotten my yearly "check-up card" from Dr T (who doesn't smoke, btw). After everything they've been through with my dad's eyes, they thought this was totally unacceptable, and told me that if I didn't call for an appointment the next morning that they'd call and make one for me, thus embarrassing the shit out of my person. So I called Wednesday morning, and got the appointment for Friday. Very quick, and that's why I've not mentioned it.

I have mentioned, however, how much I worry about my eyes in general, and how disturbed I've been about them lately. For the past few months I've noticed a real change in my eyesight, I just can't seem to focus on anything. Then came the upsetting realization while looking at my face in the mirror one morning (a scary enough proposition in and of itself) that I seem to have a "droopy eye." My right eye, to use the scientific medical term, fuckin' droops. At first it scared me shitless, because one of the very first symptoms my dad had in his macular degeneration was that he saw "distorted" pictures. Like when he'd look at your face, there'd be no symmetry in it, your eye and nostril and mouth on one side would be way below where it was on the other side. And so while I joked on the outside about my droopy eye, inside I was building up more and more panic. Then I took a picture of Taytie and I on Thanksgiving, and was actually quite relieved to find that my eye was droopy in the picture. Meaning it wasn't my vision playing tricks on me, it was actually there. But that still doesn't make it any less ugly or annoying.

Lately when I look at my droopy eye, and I'm the first to admit that I'm sure I'm looking at it way more and way harder than I should, it appears to be becoming wonky. Wonky meaning it turns a little to the left. Now. I'm perfectly willing to admit that this might be totally pod behavior, and I'm imagining that part of things.

So I went this morning, and I must say that while Dr T is one of the nicest fellows you'd ever want to meet, he has the most unfriendly staff in town. But that's neither here nor there, I suppose, and after not too long a wait I got entrance into the office with the Big Eye Chair. I love the Big Eye Chair, I have since I was a kid. If I could afford one, I'd have one in my living room. Turn on the TV, pull that lens thing across my face - hey, do I wanna see closer? Here we go!

Dr T arrived, and we caught up on the past year's happenings. We started first with the vision. He pulled the lens thing across my face and started testing my right eye, since I mentioned it was the one that bothered me most. He kept going back and forth, what can you see? better now? better? better? worse now, right? no, that's better too?

Well, when I reached my level of perfection, he got really enthused, for some reason, and wrote it down on my chart. Then we went to the left eye and through the same drill, better, better, no, worse, better, better, yep, I think that's it.

Then his enthusiasm waned a bit. And he said, "Hmmm." And he wrote in my chart some more.

Then he looked at me and said, "Well, we've got one of two things going on here. You tell me which you think it might be. Either your right eye has improved by the exact same amount that your left eye has digressed, or you've been wearing your contacts in the wrong eyes."

I took a moment to digest all of that.

He went on to explain that the strength of my left eye was the same strength of the contact in my right eye, and vice versa.

Now, I'm pretty careful, always to do anything lens-wise with the right eye first, then the left. But it's always possible, I guess, that I could have switched them in a moment of reckless abandon. Or sleepiness, which is more likely. The thing of it is, Dr T said if you're careful, you're basically screwed, because if you make a small mistake and switch right and left, you'll remain careful and likely not switch them back. Whereas if you're haphazard about it, you could always get it wrong again and get them back in the correct eyes.

Anyway, he went to the Big Wall of Contacts, and got out the strengths he'd measured, and put them in my eyes. It was like a light going on. Everything looked exactly like it was supposed to look, plus I had the added happiness of a new pair of contacts. Unless you're a wearer you don't know the warm and watery comfort that is a brand new pair of lenses.

And so, since we are going on the fact that it was my stupidity, since the chances of the improving/digressing thing is pretty miniscule, that also means that since last year my vision hasn't changed. And that made me damn happy. I've also escaped bifocals for yet another year, even though I still can't tell you what the names of any of my lipsticks are.

Then I went into part 2 of my problems, the droopy wonky eye. He looked at me face-to-face, moving my eyes and muscles around with his finger, and said he honestly couldn't see any difference or anything out of the ordinary. He didn't say I'm crazy, which was nice of him, but I still wanted more than, "Nope, I don't see anything." Or I don't know. Maybe I did want him to say I'm crazy. "You're crazy, there's nothing wrong with this eye!"

Then he got down to the examining of the eyes themselves, and said they look very healthy. He gave me the in on some vitamins I should take that are eye-healthy (more vitamins! just what I wanted!), and said "Dark leafy green vegetables." It wasn't a shouted non-sequitir, he said it as another preventitive measure against macular degeneration. "With your family history, I'd do all I can, which is basically vitamins and diet, but that's not much. The rest is in your genes. Which are getting baggier and baggier." He actually said that. And I thought he didn't notice. (That joke doesn't come off well in print, does it?)

Oh, and I got some eye drops because he said my eyes were quite red (which I knew) and had some stuff in them (which I didn't). Then I got a little lecture about how I wear a pair of lenses much longer than I need to and how it irritates my eyes. And this is true, I'm as guilty as sin on this count, Your Honor.

Funny, because since I had no change in lens strength, I don't have to worry about my glasses. There was a time that would have disappointed me greatly. I love trying on glasses and getting new ones. Or used to. Now it's a pain because my lenses are so thick it cuts by about 3/4 the number of frames I can wear. And I can't really afford them anyway. No need to look if you can't buy.

The wrong lenses. Only me.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* December 17th and I'm finally getting into the Christmas spirit. When I got home I wrapped presents for the girls I work with.
* OK, I think I need this. Agree? Disagree?

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

We're Better Than Having Your Foot Sawed Off

OK, so I guess if we can have Picture Sunday, and Picture Monday, we can have Soundclip Tuesday.

As I've alluded to several times in the past, Mr M and I have banded together with, well, at first, with B, to play some clarinet trios, but then with M, who plays bass clarinet, for some quartets. We'll be playing our first ever concert on Sunday afternoon, after what I feel is waaaay too few rehearsals. But I'm just one of four, and the others think a trial by fire is just what we need to get us in the spirit. The spirit of what, I'm not sure. The spirit of kamikazee clarinet playing, I suppose.

Anyway, I'm posting a couple of sound clips below. I've also been asked to post a disclaimer along with them that this is a rough recording of a rough rehearsal. In other words, when you speak of this, as I'm sure you will, please be gentle.

By the way, these are all relatively short, so never fear.

French Suite, pt 1 (Stately and Spiky)

French Suite, pt 2 (Lonely and Longing) (And Spiky)

French Suite, pt 3 (Poncing and Prancing) (And Spiky)

Entry of the Gladiators (Or of Bears Riding Motorcycles)

Thank you for not laughing.

By the way, we as yet still don't have a name. Anyone have a suggestion they'd like to throw in the pile?

Here's the list I've made so far:

* The Stiff Winds
* The Windy River Boys (gives it a little Bluegrass feel)
* The Windy Bottom Boys (gives it a different feel altogether)
* The Clari-nots
* The Clari-neats (that only works if we wear white sweaters with varsity letters on them. and maybe saddle oxfords.)
* The Clari-nuts (that's if we do only novelty tunes)
* The Clari-newts (nah, that's just creepy)
* Here Comes Treble!
* Ow! My Lips!
* Blasting With All Barrels
* We're Better Than An Enema
* The Mild Bunch
* We'll Hang For This
* Give Me Your Purse Or Die (adds a punk feel)
* Bloody Diarrhea (adds a really punk feel)
* Bloody Pyorrhea (adds a punk feel and is probably more accurate)
* Look Ma, No Brass!
* Powered By Coffee (well, that's B & I, anyway)
* Four Horns, No Waiting
* Reed This

Betland's Olympic Update:
* It's finally snowing here! It's 18 degrees and snowing big fat pretty flakes.
* I need coffee.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Picture Monday

Delays, delays. You know, it's just been bedlam lately here in Betland. Actually, it's been bedlam in Bet. So once again, Picture Sunday has turned into Picture Monday, and if I don't get my ass in gear here, it may end up Picture Tuesday.

First things first, and I'm trying to put my pictures here in chronological order. I mentioned last week I bought a new wreath for the door, with lights and all. I got it hung and got out my Santa Plaque, and voila, Christmas Decorations. It's as good as it gets for me.

Also last week, I got a little surprise in the mail! And we all know the coolness of getting a surprise in the mail. From LilyG The Scary One, who went to South America not so long ago spreading the love through song. It's a Hard Rock Cafe pin from Rio! It'''s Jesus!

Ah, that is just excellent. Way excellent. Speaking of Hard Rock Pins, I was thinking about taking a snapshot of mine. And, well, so I did!

I still want to put them on a map. Maybe someday.

The band Christmas concert was Saturday night. It came and went, nothing special. No one died. Santa was there - and I mean the real Santa, folks, none of your everyday Joes in a fake suit. Sherman had his picture made, which I'll post in the gallery soon. But also in tow with me at the concert was my little friend Lily.

No, not that Lily. The other Lily.

I acquired Lily about 16 years ago. I used to take her everywhere with me. I've never flown without her, therefore she's been to London twice, and New Orleans once. She's been to Disneyworld and Epcot. She's been to New York City and Washington, DC. She used to come along to every band Spring concert with me. Then Lily started showing her wear. She developed a sizeable tear in her lil' purple body. And so now she mainly stays at home on the nightstand by my bed. But by darn, I decided to take her Saturday for a little Christmas cheer. And she decided to play bells.

And remember, when I get Sherman and Santa's (the real Santa) picture online I'll give you a shout.

Finally, let's take a look at our recipe du jour. And guys, call me crazy, I've been called worse, and fairly recently, but I think I'd eat this dish. It looks like a bowl of regurgitation, but I think I'd eat it. Welcome to the hell that is Beef Compote Casserole!

Oh, shit. I take back what I said. I thought this was like some eggs, meat, and tomatoes all jumbled together. I'm looking at the recipe and it's not. It's way not. It's eggs, beef, prunes, raisins, yams, honey, almonds, wheat bread.... This isn't compote, it's compost! This is "the night you clean out the cabinets" cooking! Prunes and yams? OK, I may still be crazy, but I'm not eating this. It can go blow.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:

*I had a very fine experience watching "Access Hollywood" while not sleeping during the wee hours of Sunday morning. I watched it while the closed-captioning was on the TV, and had that wonderful experience of listening to the show whilst seeing what the typing dialog was coming up as. The show was all about the great movies we love, and in their segment on "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the hostess was telling us how all the Indy movies were about to be released in a dvd set with plenty of bonus material. However, the closed-captioning told us it would have plenty of "bogus material." It also told us that if we were wondering where Indy's famous hat was now, it's in the Smith Sewn Yen.

*Forgive the look of this blog. It's not my fault; the spacing in Blogger seems to be totally fucked tonight.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

A Kinder Gentler Game Show

I seem to have a problem with coffee. You know that line in "A League of Their Own" where Geena Davis is talking about her sister's affinity for high fastballs and says, "She can't hit 'em - can't lay off 'em?" That's kind of me with coffee. Can't handle it - can't lay off it.

I know I need to just purchase a can of decaf and keep at Mr M's, but if I do that, I won't have all these tales of insomnia to regale you with.

Last night I got to Mr M's before the man himself did. I was cold, and I walked immediately to the kitchen and started up the coffee. I was enjoying my first cup when Mr M arrived home. I was starting to get warm and relatively happy.

Since nothing was on TV save a very Civil War-happy PBS Pledge Drive, he suggested maybe a few duets were in order. And feeling happy-go-lucky as I was, I took him up on his offer. And before I sat down to play, I made that fatal mistake. I poured that second cup of coffee. ("That's funny; Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home.")

So we played, and I drank. And the evening tapered off and I knew it was time to start back home to B'field and the Poderosa. And approximately the time I ascended the first mountain (of the two that lead you out of B'burg), I started to feel the caffeine kicking in.

Of course it's fun at first. You're energetic, you're driving, you're pulling out tapes and listening to CDs and singing along with the music. You're dancing and not worrying about falling asleep at the wheel. You're just alert, man. Sometimes you're so alert you're actually out there ahead of the car.

And then, as you must, I guess, you arrive back home. And I did, last night. It was exactly 1:00 am. Now, by 1:00 am I should be tucked into bed counting sheep, or in my case, ways in which I hate George Bush. But I was still a hopped-up bundle of shakes.

I toyed with the new Christmas wreath I bought for my door. I didn't go as far as tearing around the house for an extension cord (it has lights!), but I did get a hanging thread on it and got it up on the front door. (Helloooo, Picture Sunday.) Then I washed up and went to bed, though I had no intention of going to sleep; well, my body didn't, anyway. It was almost 1:30am.

I got in bed, armed with my little note pad and a handful of markers. See, ever since I saw this bitchin' documentary about artist Ray Johnson, I've been thinking about how much I miss fooling around with art. (Although I don't know if Art particularly misses it.) The movie (and a few discussions with Mr M) inspired me to take Ray's approach which was "do what you want, do it for yourself, and fuck everyone else." And since then I've seemed to be a little less, well, creatively constipated, as it were. By the by, Johnson offed himself in the end, which may or may not mean anything.

So I was sitting in bed last night, under my little lamp, scribbling madly in my note pad. I reminded myself exactly of that girl in the wonderful anti-drug ad "Meth" from a few years ago. The girl sitting in her bathroom floor scrubbing her tiles with a toothbrush. ("That's funny; Jim never scrubs the bathroom floor with a toothbrush at home.")

It was coming up on 3:00am, and though I wasn't in the least sleepy, I knew I had to try to chill out a little. So I put down the pens and pad, turned off the light, and turned on the TV. It was time for the Game Show Network's hour of black-and-white game shows from the 50s. Now, this a gem of an hour of programming, one I don't get to see nearly often enough. Only on the occasional Friday, or if I'm of a tossing-and-turning nature.

In fact, it'd been so long since I'd seen the black-and-white programming (which if I'm not mistaken used to be two hours) that I didn't realize they'd slipped a new old show in on me. It's called "The Name's The Same." I've now seen about three episodes of this little nugget, and I truly think I'm falling in love.

Here is the story of "The Name's The Same." We have a panel of guests, "The Bright Young Comedian" Carl Reiner, "Star of Stage and Screen" Joan Alexander, and Some Other Person. A couple of times I've seen it this person was a guy named Bill Stern, and the other, it was actually - get this - Meredith Willson, of "Music Man" fame! And we also have a host who goes by the name of Roger Q Lewis, though I'm absolutely positive that "Q" stands for nothing whatsoever.

So we have The Person come out, always a very common-looking soul, a man in an ill-fitting suit, or a woman in a hat and corsage, and they sit down with Roger Q. And then they show the studio audience - and us - The Person's name. And they have the name of a famous person. Like Robin Hood, or Mona Lisa, or Winston Churchill, or Nelson Eddy. Or - and, oh, this is where it gets so exciting - they have the name of something else! Like Dill Pickle, or A. Brain, or A. Buggy, or Merry Christmas.

And now the panel each get ten questions, asked in a "yes or no" manner, to discern the name of The Person. It's riveting, I'm telling you.

The funny thing, and when I say "funny," of course I mean "totally fucking annoying," is that Roger Q will never let the poor people answer the questions asked them. He always finds that they're answering no when they should say yes, even though 90% of the time he's wrong and The Person's right. Then in explaining why he's overruling the answer of The Person, he always goes on to tell the panelists way more information than he should, stuff they'd never get in a "yes or no" question, and the information goes way beyond "helpful hinting." I'm convinced Roger Q is the kind of person who could never keep from telling the end of a movie to someone who hasn't seen it. I'm sure no one's present was a surprise in the Roger Q household at Christmas.

And so inevitably they guess The Person's name. Except for that time that Roger Q decided they they were just all too off the mark to ever get it, even though each panelist had about 4 questions left. And once The Person's name is discerned, there's laughter all around, and the person goes over to the panel to personally shake their hands and collect a check for $25 from the two panelists (and in that one case, three) who didn't guess their names.

Now, as a special added bonus, there's also a round where a famous person comes out and the panelists have to guess, by the same methods, who that famous person would like to be. Who would have ever imagined Peter Lawford always wanted to be Peter Rabbit....

After "The Name's The Same," we get to see "What's My Line." Now, we all know about "What's My Line," with the glorious Dorothy Kilgallen and Steve Allen, the learned Bennet Cerf (who I always remember as a Muppet on "Sesame Street") and the dour Arlene Francis, who always guessed the Mystery Guest because she peeked out from under her blindfold.

However, these old episodes of "What's My Line" have a wrinkle I'd never seen before. After Their Person signs in and is introduced, they have to walk over the panel, so the panel can "look at them." I'm serious - that's what the host, John Daly, says - "Go over to the panel and let them have a look at you." And This Person does that, walks by all the panelists, and inevitably one will want to see This Person's hands, which they dutifully hold out like the Handwashing Police are inspecting them.

The best part of "What's My Line," though, is the very beginning, so even if the show puts you to sleep, you'll still have seen its apex. "What's My Line" is sponsored by Stopette Deodorant. Not anti-perspirant, good old clean American, no-frills deodorant. Stopette's (I mean, is that not the best name in the world for a deodorant, Stopette?) advertising slogan is "Poof! There goes perspiration!" I wish they still made Stopette Deodorant. I'd buy it and use it religiously, 10 poofs under each arm every morning.

Now we live in a world where a game show means walking on a wire 20 stories above the ground, eating a live bug, and being slammed into a brick wall. Or earning money with your teammate then deciding if you're going to screw him out of his share before he screws you out of yours. Or trying to answer rapid-fire trivia questions whilst being abused by the show's host.

I want more "The Name's The Same." I want it resurrected. I want to be the new Roger Q Lewis. And I want Stopette to come back in business to sponsor it.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* "Why look at you, don't you look beautiful! And you smell so nice!" "Oh, well, that's my Stopette Deodorant. I just use it and 'Poof! There goes perspiration!'"

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Of Heat and Hair

I've been standing at the kitchen window looking out onto the creek behind my house. It looks incredibly cold. But looks are deceiving. It's 65 degrees here, a veritable heat wave.

I don't know whether to be happy about this or not. When Christmas season arrives and it gets into December, I want snow. I get so excited with the first "real" snowfall, not those useless flurries like we had on Thanksgiving. I mean, real, wet flakes peppering down and making sure there's no green sprigs visible on the front lawn. I love the term "peppering down." Ms Stennie told me, last year I think it was, that seeing as how it was snow, the correct term should be "salting down."

But anyway, it's not salting or peppering or anything else. Rain is the only precipitation we're seeing here.

And that should be making me happy, as cold-natured as I've become lately. Seems I just can't get warm enough, except for those flashes of fire that strike me totally unexpectedly lately and turn me into a very unpleasant person to be around.

Saturday night, driving the 45 or so minutes from B'burg to N'rows for the band concert, I was in Mr M's car and the heat was rumbling through the floor and dash vents. It was blowing hot on my face, blowing so hard I could feel my face turning red and my eyes drying out. Still, it was wonderful. I felt like I was sitting in the summer sun.

My closest buddies, my nearest and dearest, are kind of poking fun at me for this. They're blaming my lack of therm, so to speak, on my decreased poundage. And they may be right, I don't know. All I know is that I'm wondering, if it turns out to be a cold one, how I'm going to make it through the winter this year.

Speaking of which, things in the dennette have come to a crisis point. As you may recall, the little side room, where my computer and lately my clarinet and music are, is woefully short on heat. I have been, for the last 3 years, attributing this to the fact that there's only one heating vent in the room, and it's high on the wall at the opposite end of the room, facing in a really dumb position.

I'd made up my mind last week to get a small space heater for the room because I can't stay in there for more than 30 or so minutes unless I'm in coat, booties, and possibly blanket when the weather turns. (Ever try playing the clarinet in a blanket?) Then the day of the night I went out shopping, I discovered something - the vent on the dennette wall is the only one at the Poderosa with a lever on it. It turns off and on!

So I didn't go for the space heater while shopping that night, only to get home, start fooling around with the vent lever, and discover that whether it's on or off, there is no - no, none, nada, zilch, zippo, zowie, nothing - heat coming out of that vent. It's just what we call in the heating biz "fucking broken," and it's no wonder I've been so damn cold in that room; I've not been sitting there with the heat coming out in a dumb position, I've been sitting in there with no heat whatsoever.

Therefore, again, I should be happy of our little heat wave this week. Now I can float a while before having to buy a heater.

And while we're on the topic of various and sundry crisis points, how about my hair?

I'd lulled myself into somewhat of a delusional state that my hair was getting better. It wasn't coming out in handfuls anymore, and by switching from my normal hair goop to a new hair goop ("Frizz Eaze" is the new hair goop), I was even losing the dreaded Brillo Effect my hair had been taking on. Oh, sure, it was still thin, but I had some hope. Then the smoothness seemed to be slowly dying away, and the Brillo-y feel seemed to be creeping back in.

So Saturday I tried something radical. A brush.

I got out of the shower and slathered the new goop on my soaking wet hair (as per the instructions). Then when it was time to get ready, I took a brush and a hair dryer - two tools I haven't lifted in years, I guess - and started brushing and drying, brushing and drying. Two wondrous things happened: 1) I noticed very little hair in the brush after all those strokes, and 2) I ended up with some very straight, if thin, hair.

I liked it. It wasn't exactly me, but sometimes we need something that's not exactly us. It was wearable as was or with a headband run through it, and so I picked up my cases, and my hair, and left for B'burg.

After we got back from the band concert I was washing my hands when I noticed my reflection in the mirror; my hair looked dirty and was laying close to my head. I mentioned it to Mr M later, how this new style didn't hold very well. That's when he told me my new hairstyle was ugly. Well, he wasn't quite that blunt about it. Quite that blunt. I think it came more in line of he didn't like it.

Goodbye, self confidence!

Anyway, yesterday and today I've gone back to the old method, hair goop on wet hair, and let it air dry to its naturally curly state. I look a bit like Kramer.

I wonder if Santa brings wigs.

Betland's Olympic Update:
*Tonight's BOU was going to be a visual. A picture of Sherman wishing everyone a Happy Hanukkah. However, since he seems to have lost his dreidl, the picture might have to wait.
*Tonight's episode of "The Amazing Race" had a jewel of a line: "Every time Don throws up, I catch a fish."


Notice the lack of a plural in the title.

And now over to TheFriar himself:

Well, it's 9:00 PM FET (fruitcake eating time), and apparently the fruitcake was more fatal than I intended. But we had a contest, and all prizes must be awarded.

So the honorable mention is Lily G. for "Lily eat? Egads! Only anorexic." Thanks for trusting us enough to share.

The runner-up prize goes to Lilly G. for "Less energy expended opposing argument." Because I can't quite parse this entry, I like it anyway.

And the winner this week is, surprise surprise, Lilly G. for "Liked eating exciting oval ambrosia." Sounds like she gets her fruitcake the same place I get mine. God bless Lily G. and the monks at Holy Cross Abbey.

Thanks DeepFatFriar, and thanks, LilyG.

Monday, December 06, 2004


I wasn't going to do one, because no one seems to be out there. But I got a volunteer judge and topic, in the form of one DeepFatFriar, and so, let the acromania begin.

DFF's topic this week is "Why You Ate The Fruitcake After All." Sounds like someone is getting into the holiday spirit.

The rules are the same, everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that matches the topic and the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. Then tomorrow night at 9pm est, TheFriar will judge, and the winner will be exulted while the losers will be cast into the pit of hell for all eternity.

So, the topic, "Why You Ate The Fruitcake After All." The letters:


Dang. Those letters are about as exciting as a fruitcake. Good luck on this one.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Well, the play team came in 5th in the state championships. They automatically set themselves out of first or second place because they went over on time by several seconds. Still, by all reports, it was a good trip and everyone had fun. And in the end, isn't that all that matters?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Picture Sunday

Hello, hello. Getting home later and later on Sunday nights, it seems. I got a visit from my "old friend" on the way back home tonight. Yep, the "check engine" light is back shining in the podmobile. I don't know whether to care anymore or not. But let's not worry about it right now.

Let's get right to the pictures!

First of all, a little nephew love. Again. Let's all send good Monday thoughts out to Taytie, because tomorrow is the State Play Competition in Hooville. They'll be performing their play in the morning. Last week, The Man got his picture in the paper. There was a little article on the play and the competition in our local, the B'field Daily Tellalie. Here's the picture accompa - accompa - going along with it (thanks, "O Brother"):

Excellent. Now, I'm sure you've waited for the next photo. It's here, it's new, it's hot off the press. Without further ado, may I introduce the 2004 Official S & P Christmas Portrait:

Isn't S's outfit the best? He wore it to the band's Christmas concert Saturday night in N'rows. Where, I might add - Mr P was recognized by a spectator! He, S, and Hermey (they were all sitting together on the stage) even got their picture taken! I was so chuffed.

Keeping in the Christmas vein, I'm going to put a little something of mine in here. This would be called "A Doodle," or "What Happens When You're Given A Pencil And Are Completely Bored Out Of Your Mind." This was from last year's TheCompanyIWorkFor "Holiday Staff Meeting." See, we used to have fun "Christmas Lunches." Then that became politically incorrect, so they became "Holiday Lunches." Then TheCompanyIWorkFor lost all sense of fun and it became "Holiday Staff Meeting, With A Nice Lunch." Which means six hours locked in a room with TheCompanyIWorkFor Weasels, with a slab of turkey and dressing thrown in for good measure. I'm hoping to get out of going this year. We got pencils and pads to "take notes" with last year, and here are the "notes" I took:

I like drawing bricks. Very soothing, bricks.

And now to this week's recipe du jour. Hold onto your hats, everybody, it's Chili Beans!

First of all, I'm sure Chili Beans' feelings will be hurt to know they're a "budget meal." Let's see, we've got a big ol' heaping scoop of beans on a corn muffin, sharing a plate with a salad with a genuine throwback to the old days - radishes!! When I was little our salads always had radishes - you just never see them anymore. Go, radishes. So, we're having the chili beans on a muffin, topped with cheese and onions, and a salad with radishes in it, and just to be the lighter to light the Roman candle that is this dish, we're supposed to have applesauce spice cake for dessert. Open the windows after this one.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Bloodletting update: I'm now officially off all prescribed meds! I got the results back, and not only is my LDL cholesterol down a whopping 66 points, I'm also way under optimum range. That's the good news. The not-so-good news is that one of my liver functions came back testing high, so Smokin' Dr J said drop the Lipitor pronto. Which I did. We're trying that for 3 months. That leaves me taking only vitamins, biotin, and cranberry extract. Oh, and calcium.
* VA Tech beat Miami this weekend to win the ACC in their first season there. Why should you care? Because I - Miss Negativity - was the only person I knew who went around all last week predicting a Hokie win. Now they'll be playing in New Orleans on New Year's. Everyone around here will be heading down just as I'm heading home.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Ho Ho Ho-ly Crap

I've just realized something. The Christmas Season seems to be upon us.

I played my first Christmas concert, last night, and in doing so missed the 40th anniversary of the showing of my wonderfully misfitted friends, Rudolph and Hermey. So you know what I did? I just went out after the concert last night and bought a copy of the show on DVD. So there. Now I can watch at my leisure, over and over, doing the twirling dance with Melf as he sings "We Are Santa's Elves," and more importantly, skipping right through Burl Ives singing "Silver and Gold."

But quite a bit of my Christmas thought processes this year have been taken up by The Tree.

The ol' Christmas Tree is always a sticking point with me. I love Christmas Trees. I detest throwing the lights on them, but once those babies are on I have a ball putting on my ornaments, sticking Abominable Snowman atop it so he can put on the star, and then sitting back and enjoying my efforts.

But of course, I'm me. I always have the pre-Christmas Tree nervous breakdown.

Last year was the worst, I'm sure because I was having a damn nervous breakdown anyway. I was depressed past the point of suicide. But still, every day of December, I agonized. Am I going to put a tree up? Do I want to do the work necessary - especially those damn tree lights, the bane of my existence? I always have to wait till someone else is around to help me buy the thing, help me load it in a car, get it home, get it in the stand, and then get it in my house. I either have to wait till my Dad's back home for the holidays, or my brother-in-law has the time. I've never imposed upon Mr M for this task. Then I have to remember (usually when waking up at 3 in the morning) to keep it well watered so it doesn't spontaneously combust in my living room. And then there are the needles.

And so I agonize, and wait later and later and later and 99% of the time get a tree up and going but in not nearly time enough to enjoy it. Then add in the fact that I generally want a Christmas Tree down the day after Christmas. Nothing's lonlier than a post-Christmas Tree.

And having said all that, I love a real tree. I fought with my parents when I was young, and fight with them now, every time they say they're not doing the real tree thing. "If you want me at your house on Christmas, you will!" I usually answer. And I never imagined a time when I myself wouldn't have one.

Until now.

I've been thinking of the Fake Tree route lately. And it's killing me. Especially since I found one last night that really, really like. It's very very full, and pre-lit - a pre-lit would be the main reason for having a Fakie - and not only that, its lights are colored lights and not white. I'm a colored light gal. The tree is $199, on sale for $149. Which isn't bad for such a nice tree, but do I want to spend that money and be locked into a Fake Tree for eternity?

Do I want to become a Fake Tree Gal??

Anyway, it's odd that I should be thinking so hard upon it this year, the Christmas that's shaping up to be pretty stress-free for me. See, our family's going to try something a little new this year, something we've flirted with for years and never quite got together.

We're getting the hell out of town for Christmas!

We mulled over three scenarios, but for me there was really only one of the three for me. And I was determined to do all I could to make sure my location won. The three nominees were: a cruise, Las Vegas, or New Orleans. I wanted New Orleans. And the winner was - New Orleans!
We're leaving on the 23d and coming back the 27th. It's going to be me, the folks, my sister, her husband, and Taytie. And we're hoping Mr M will see fit to come along, but he's still on the fence. We're hoping he'll fall off on the side of going.

So. That should be fun. And even though I'm going to be gone, I've got the itch to put up a tree. Maybe even a Fake Tree! What's wrong with me?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Well, I had my bloodletting yesterday morning. I decided to do an end run past the hospital and go straight back to Smokin' Dr J's office and make sure that was in fact a thyroid test he'd set me up for. And he had. It wasn't pretty. I didn't speak to the doctor directly, but I was sitting nearby when he read the note attached to my orders saying I wasn't taking the test, and saw him take a pen, put the orders on his knee, and scratch out the thyroid part of the test. Then he tossed the paper back to the receptionist. I won, for now.
* Remember the funeral home in town I told you about that had the jolly "Merry Christmas, You're Going To Die" 12 ft inflatable snowman in their yard? This year they have a jolly "Merry Christmas You're Going To Die" 12 ft inflatable Santa in their yard. Kids here are going to be traumatized.