Tuesday, November 29, 2005

I Seeeeee You!

Well. This past weekend I had an opportunity one is not often afforded. I got to interview a genuine sports champion.

I happened to find out, quite by surprise, that our own Mr M, yes, that man, was a championship Peek-A-Boo player. I had no idea of this fact until we happened to be out at a restaurant and there was a baby close by, and he revealed it to me. It was a shock, and fascinating, to say the least. I hated to impose upon his celebrity for the sake of my blog, but not that much, really, and in fact, I didn't mind at all. I mean, it's the blog, man.

So I asked for an interview re the apparently cutthroat world of competitive Peek-A-Boo. And Mr M was nice enough to grant me the interview I wanted.

ME: So, what kind of champion were you? Primary school, state, city-wide? What?
Mr M: I was a National Champion. In fact, I was the reigning National Champion when they did away with competitive Peek-A-Boo.

ME: So is that why I never hear of it anymore?
Mr M: I'm sure it is. It was pretty much my doing as well. I was doing a Peek-A-Boo with a baby, and the baby started crying. The baby was subsequently removed from his parents' home, and I was charged with child abuse. Competitive Peek-A-Boo was banned in the US, and after that if I wanted to compete I had to go to places like Dresden. Still do.

ME: Still? Even now? No age limit on Peek-A-Boo?
Mr M: Of course not!

ME: How did you get started in Peek-A-Boo?
Mr M: I was very young - Mom always encouraged me, when she first saw me do the Double [double-handed peek] she knew I had the gift. You know, I perfected the Lateral Peek-A-Boo before age 15.

ME: So it didn't embarrass you to be a Peek-A-Booer at 15?
Mr M: What are you implying?
ME: Well...that it's for babies.
Mr M: No. They have a stable of professional babies for these competitions.

ME: So, did you babies face off against one another, or did you compete for points with an adult?
Mr M: Jesus Christ! Do you not understand how Peek-A-Boo works? Goddammit, man, didn't you do any research before you came to interview me?
ME: It's Peek-A-Boo. I assumed it was, well, babies Peek-A-Booing.
Mr M: No! I was the Peek-A-Booer. The babies are the Peek-A-Booees. They have professional babies there for the Peek-A-Booers to play Peek-A-Boo with. And the competitors draw lots to see which baby they Peek-A-Boo with. Jeeezus. I mean, I was 23 when I won my National Title.
ME: You were the Peek-A-Booer.
Mr M: Yes! Peek-A-BooER. [demonstrates with a two-handed Peek-A-Boo]

ME: Tell me about your championship match, then.
Mr M: It was against Boris Platnik. He was a great Peek-A-Booer from Pennsylvania.
ME: And did you play Peek-A-Boo with the same baby?
Mr M: Are you listening to anything I said? They have a stable of babies. You draw lots to see what baby you Peek-A-Boo with.
ME: Oh, OK. And what was your baby's name?
Mr M: Oh, we weren't allowed to know that. We couldn't know their names because there can be no familiarity between Peek-A-Booer and Peek-A-Booee. It wouldn't be fair. I won my title with Baby #5.
ME: And what about Boris? Does he still Peek-A-Boo?
Mr M: No, not since that match. It unnerved him to lose, and he gave it up. He runs a delicatessen in Pittsburgh now, and has nothing to do with the Peek-A-Boo world. Shame, he was an OK guy, and good Peek-A-Booer.

ME: Exactly how does one score in Peek-A-Boo?
Mr M: Well, you can get a big score with timing, and by the payoff on the baby's face. Like, Boris elicited a great reaction time from the babies, but didn't have a lot in the way of facial payoff from them.
ME: Ahhh, so there are "style points."
Mr M: Oh yes. It goes on how quickly your baby reacts and the degree to which he or she reacts. If your baby cries, of course, it's a disqualification.
ME: And your relationship with Baby #5....
Mr M: Was great. Laughed, gurgled, beat his hands up and down, it was great.
ME: And you know nothing about Baby #5?
Mr M: Well, I know he's now the branch manager of a bank in San Francisco, is married, and has 2 kids of his own. He occasionally sends me a line.
ME: Can he do that?
Mr M: Sure, it's been long enough. He still signs his letters Baby 5, though.

ME: Did you have a Peek-A-Boo coach?
Mr M: Well, not as such, but I was helped along by my Uncle Sam, who was a very loveable guy. He taught me everything I know, except of course my "unfair advantage."
ME: Unfair advantage?
Mr M: Well, I probably shouldn't mention, but you know I did have an unfair advantage over all my competitors. My wonky eye. Babies went crazy over my wonky eye.
ME: But it was legal, right?
Mr M: Oh, sure, it was legal, that's what drove the other competitors crazy. Especially Boris.
ME: And why was the wonky eye such an advantage for you?
Mr M: Because I could Peek-A-Boo with two babies at once. And occasionally I'd be accused of "wearing down" the other competitors' babies.

ME: So, what did you win for getting the national title?
Mr M: Squat.
ME: Well, shit. Then what was the motivation?
Mr M: You have to ask?
ME: Yes!
Mr M: Prestige! Product endorsements! Sunglasses, eyedrops, Venetian blinds, window shades....

ME: We're always reading about performance-enhancing drugs in sports today. Was that ever a problem in Peek-A-Boo?
Mr M: Not a lot, no. Murine was something of a problem, and brain concussions.
ME: Excuse me?
Mr M: Occasionally people would give themselves brain concussions.
ME: People actually did that.
Mr M: Oh, you bet they did. They'd bang their heads against the wall of the waiting area till they gave themselves a concussion, then only one pupil would dilate. That always seems to fascinate a baby, one dilated pupil. You know, Peek-A-Booers have a patron saint.
ME: They do?
Mr M: Yes. St. Blinky
ME: Sounds like you all need one, if you're giving yourself brain injuries....

ME: What about dress? Is there a Peek-A-Boo uniform?
Mr M: Oh, yeah. We have to dress all in black clothes, wear a black hooded jacket we put up over our heads, so the baby can't see our hair. No makeup can be worn. And of course, no contact lenses.

ME: Did you ever worry about eye-poking?
Mr M: Constantly. I had my eyes insured by Lloyd's of London. Then after I became more and more well-known in the Peek-A-Boo world, I went ahead and insured my face and hands as well. Oh, by the way, did you know that in the style points of Peek-A-Boo, you get a bonus if you can get snot to come out of a baby's nose?
ME: No, I didn't know that, but thanks for telling me.

ME: What about your clarinetting career? Did Peek-A-Boo interfere with it at all, or was there any relation between the two activities?
Mr M: No, no. [pause] Well, that was dull. Well, actually, it was dumb. It was a dumb, dumb question. Nonsense. Now, go to bed.
ME: No, wait, I have one more question. Was there anyone you looked up to, any Peek-A-Booing idols?
Mr M: Well, not Peek-A-Booing idols, but there were certain people whose eyes and facial expressions certainly inspired me. Let's see, there was Arnold Stang, Ed Wynn, Boris Karloff, and Sidney Poitier.
ME: Sidney Poitier?
Mr M: He had nice eyes. And rumor had it on the vine that Arnold Stang was in fact a hell of a Peek-A-Booer.
ME: Oh.
Mr M: Are you finished now?
ME: I guess.
Mr M: Good. Go to bed.

And so I did.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, get your red-hot acrowinners here. So, what about the Acro Blend?
- Honorable Mention goes to Krizzer, with her "Relieves that no-good hangover."
- Runner-up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Rare, truly New Guinean hutzpah."
- And this week's winner is LilyG, with her "Robust tasty nectar goes Hollywood." You know, I can really see that up on the chalkboard. And I can really see myself ordering it.
Thanks to all who played! And remember, if you're like the Friar and can't get in anytime, just email me (agnes_g@hotmail.com), messenger me, phone me...anything.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Hello to all, and welcome to a post-holiday round of acromania.

You know, I find myself, on occasion, stopping at a certain eatery. Well, actually, it's a certain drinkery. Where one can order a certain drink, made from a certain bean. All right - it's Starbucks, OK?? There seems to be a great deal of anti-PC-ness about Starbucks and to be honest, I don't understand what it's all about, because I've never bothered to find out. (And I'm sure this post will bring about some explanation for me.) Anyway, sometimes I'm in B'burg, and Mr M's not, and I need coffee, dammit. So there you go. My confession. Before you and God and everybody.

Now, here's the thing with Starbucks. I go there and get a large coffee, whatever's on the "Freshly Brewed" chalkboard. And every time I walk in, there's a name of their Freshly Brewed Blend, along with a description. "Smooth and Rich!" "Spicy With a Hint of Sweetness!" "Bold But Tasteful!" Or whatever.

And every single coffee I get there tastes exactly the same. I'm totally convinced that Starbucks only has one bean, the Starbucks Bean, and they just brew it up, assign a name to it, and make up a description.

And that's where this week's acro comes in. For our topic is "Acro Blend." Yes, here at Betland our coffee of the week is the Acro Blend, and you have to assign a description of its taste for the chalkboard.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket is very bold, with a slightly woody taste. And he's loaded with caffeine. Really. He actually shakes on my desk. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I'll be reading the entries and naming the winner, who shall receive a complimentary baby straw that you can't suck through, but it'll stir your coffee. And it's red and white striped. You know the ones. They're very valuable, you know.

So, this week's topic is "Acro Blend." The letters:


There you have it. Now get all coffeed up and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* You wouldn't believe it. I slept last night. Real sleep. Not one car door. I'm in heaven!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Picture Sunday

So, did we all eat, shop, rest, watch football, and all those other things we were supposed to do this weekend? I did, I did! And guess what? You're about to see it in this week's Oh-Boy-Oh-Boy-It's-Time-For-It-Again edition of Picture Sunday.

As I mentioned before, Thanksgiving was at Mr M's, and it was a fun day. There were clarinet duets, movies, cooking, eating, lazing about, coffee drinking, and not nary an argument. Well, except those duetting fights - I don't even count them anymore. The turkey was great, Mr M's first-ever attempt at making stuffing rocked (I mean, it rocked - as good as my mom's), the pumpkin pie was enjoyed, and everyone was happy. Everyone.

There's the gang awaiting dinner. Gossamer's already preparing for dessert.

Huckleberry went mad for the taters, as he calls them.

Of course, my boy Sherman had something else on his mind. In fact, he and Mr M had to fight over the last piece. I won't tell who won, but it sure is nice making something that people fight over.

Oh, and Lily really enjoyed the turkey.

Please don't ask me why Lily is so unkempt. She's just a very loved little girl, that's all I can say. I love her, the boys love her, Gossamer really loves her, and she's been around the world and back. It's really not my fault she can't bathe or fix her hair. Really.

So, that was Thanksgiving at Chez M, aka Poderosa East. Friday was Sloth Day for me, did absolutely nothing, but Saturday was jam-packed full of fun.

I went to the Hokie game with my sister, brother-in-law, and the nephie. Oh, and Sherman. Sherman, who made lots of friends. I swear, that boy just spreads sunshine wherever he goes.

First of all, he made friends with the folks who were tailgating beside of us. Now, I'm saving these pictures, I think, for as was explained to me only last night, it could be a long winter and I may need more Picture Sunday fodder in the future. Yeah, like maybe next week. Anyway, the people in the next slot took to Sherman quite a bit. Quite a bit, I tell you.

Then, without benefit of a ticket, for as a celebrity he gets all kinds of perks like that, Sherman joined us in the stadium to watch the Hokies win over UNC 30-3. It was cold to be sure, but people warmed up to my little fella, even rubbing his head, going on the theory that it's good luck to rub the head of a red-headed boy. And so it must be! Here's S watching the Hokies getting ready to score a touchdown. Everybody! Gooooo Hokies!

However. We all know why Sherman wanted to go to the game. Yep, to see the bands. And boy, did he love the Marching Virginians, one of the best college bands in the country.

And a good time was had by all. You know, it was suggested to me that Sherman is my very own version of Flat Stanley, and you know what else? I guess in a way he is.

And now Thanksgiving weekend is all but over. And are you sick of turkey? Stuffing? Swear you'll never want it again? Well, look at this and think again. You could be forced to eat this week's recipe du jour, Shepherds Pie.

You know, back when I had doggies, there was this certain food I'd buy for them. It was made by Pedigree, and it looked very good, had hunks of meat, potatoes, carrots, peas - I swore one day I'd try some for myself, though of course I never did. And add a couple of mushrooms to that dog food, and I swear you'd have the filling of this dish. So I have a certain fondness of it. Well, to a point. The smooshed up sweet potatoes piped through a bag around the edge kind of ruins it all. I don't think even Bill and The Petster would have wanted that.

The card says we're to have this with peas and onions (well, actually "green peas and onions," though I don't know many other colors of peas, except maybe black-eyed peas, but I don't consider those peas, and anyway, I'm drifting here), apple sauce, and chocolate cake. Chocolate cake! Chocolate Cake!

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And folks - an olympic update it is! It all started this morning, when I heard some decidedly strange sounds outside. I had to take a peek. I got so excited I almost peed myself, but tried to keep my emotions in check. But the outward movement continued throughout the day, and at about 5pm, this appeared at the House To The North:

OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS OVER! Thanks to all who listened to my constant whining these past few months. Oh, and yeah. Now I get to worry about who moves in next.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

What I'm Thankful For

Yes, folks, tomorrow is that day we all give thanks for the bounty in our lives.

I'll be spending the day with Mr M, in the Fourth Annual Refugee's Thanksgiving Dinner. It's a fun day, no family to be on your best behavior around, and no one minding if you play the clarinet in the kitchen or cuss a lot.

I went to the store today, I was in charge of choosing a turkey (sorry, Flipsy) and producing a pumpkin pie for tomorrow. A pumpkin pie I shall be presenting to Mr M, for I can't eat the damn things anymore. No bother, though, I still like making them, since pumpkin pie is one of the cooking items I can honestly say I do well. (Pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes, meat loaf, tuna salad, deviled eggs, and my fish and tomato concoction. Wouldn't I make a wonderful wife!)

Anyway, I had to cram my visit to the grocery into my lunch hour, so I was speeding around like a contestant on "Supermarket Sweep," trying to get all my items and back to the salt mines. As I was cutting up an aisle to make it to the turkeys, I had a little stop. See, I realized I was on the pen and pencil aisle.

I love the pen and pencil aisle. Something about pens and pencils really excites me. I could look at them all day, and I thought I'd take a few minutes and scan around for a certain pen I've been looking for. It's a blue Paper-Mate with a medium point I just love, and I came back to work from vacation a few weeks ago to find that mine had disappeared. I scoured the office, everyone else's desks, and it was nowhere to be found. I was crushed.

Well, they didn't have that particular pen, I wasn't expecting them to, but they had something else. They had something else so stupendous, I just had to buy it. It was only $2.50, but I don't care if it had been $20.00, it would still have to be mine.

Lawks a mercy. Pens with anti-bacterial pen protection!

Now when someone with exceedingly dirty hands, or bird flu, or syphillis, or anything else decides they want to handle my pen, I can still take it back from them and stick it squarely in my mouth! What a time to be living in.

If that's not a reason to make you hit your knees and give thanks, I don't know what is.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I said I was going to do tonight what I'd planned to do every single Friday night of Oktoberfest but failed to do. That would be get everything ready and right at the door so all I have to do tomorrow is get up, get ready, and get out the door. Have I done it yet? Of course not.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Leave Me (And My Face) Alone

Quite an anti-social title for an only moderately anti-social blog.

Because for all I say that I hate people, I’m always the kind of person who smiles and says hello, and it’s a distressing thing that this quality seems to be leaving the world by and large.  

But smiling and saying hello is a little different than having a total stranger come up and start telling you his or her life story.

That happens to me quite a bit.  I have “that face.”  That face that says, “Hey, stranger! Come up and tell me your life story!”  I inherited that face from my mother, she has it, too.  The difference between the two of us, however, is that my mom actually enjoys people telling her their life stories.  She’s truly interested in their histories, ailments, marriages, divorces, jobs – I mean, people she’s never met tell her all this and she’s enrapt.  And she’ll come over to me, when I’m with her, and say, “What a nice person….” And will then begin to repeat everything that person said.  So even if they pass me up in favor of my mother for a life story, I’ll eventually get it anyway.

Normally when people do this to me I’ll smile, nod, and back away.  Then when I’m just out of eyeshot, I run screaming, hands waving in the air, like a madman.

Sometimes I go places by myself, and I generally do this because 1) I’m by myself, and 2) I have to go someplace.  Odd, that.  But the thing is, when I find myself alone, I don’t mind going places.  I don’t mind eating out by myself, and especially don’t mind going to the movies by myself.  In fact, that’s an activity I quite enjoy.  But more about that later.

The doctor’s office is a biggie.  Anytime I hit the doctor’s office, or the hospital for tests, and sit down in the waiting area, I grab a magazine or produce whatever book I’ve brought along for the sit.  And about 10 seconds after opening it, someone will lean into me and start a conversation.  And I’ll smile and nod, because I’m nice, and I guess if you’re born with “that face” it would be a sin to deny it, by pointing to yourself and saying, “See this?  See this face?  This may look like one of those faces, but it isn’t.  It isn’t the ‘tell me your life story face.’ You understand that? You’re mistaken about this face!”

I guess the thing I’ll never understand is that how the people who tell people with the “tell me your life story” face their actual life stories never seem to understand that these people are usually doing something else.  Like reading, or minding their own business.  I mean, to a normal person, you walk into a setting where a person’s sitting alone reading, and no matter what kind of face that person has, you kind of get the feeling that they might like to be left alone.

But no, the people who tell people with the “tell me your life story” face their life stories just go right in, never mind the book, never mind anything, they just go right in and start telling their life stories.  You know, the more I think about this the more I’m thinking that there’s some kind of lunar pull-effect that might be going on, whatever it is that causes the people with the “tell me your life story” face to be matched up in the same general area with the people who want to tell you their life stories.  I mean, imagine what must be going on out there in the cosmos.  It’s right trippy.

But anyway, I still go, and I still take my book or magazine or whatever, which of course gives people the perfect opening gambit.  “Whatcha readin’?”  And I generally hate answering this question, because I generally read things that I don’t like explaining, because, as happens, once you answer, “Whatcha readin’?” the next question that comes is, “Oooh.  What’s it about?”  You know, if a person with “that face” would answer the question “Whatcha readin’?” with, “I’m reading a book called ‘How To Plant Coffee Beans In Your Own Back Yard,’” I swear the next question coming in would be, “Oooh.  What’s it about?”

I like to carry David Sedaris around with me, well, his books anyway, I don’t tote the man himself around.  He writes books like “Naked,” and “Me Talk Pretty One Day,” and “Dress Your Family In Corduroy And Denim.”  I hate telling strangers I’m reading a book called “Naked,” so I just say things like, “Oh, I’m reading a collection of stories by this guy.”  “Oooh. What’s it about?”  “It’s about 200 pages, actually, thanks for asking.”

See, I’d love to be able to answer like this.  But I never do.  Because I’m so damn nice.  Sure, in my mind I’m a raving smartass, but only nice words roll out of my mouth.

So Sunday I went to the movies, by myself.  And of course, I toted a book along with me, in case I got there early enough to read a little before they started dimming the lights.  I’ve been re-reading the book by no less a person than Alan F Arkin himself, “Halfway Through The Door.”  And so I took myself, and my book, up to the ticket booth to be torn in half (well, the ticket, anyway) and shown my way to the concrete box in which I’d see my movie.  

The woman who tears the tickets looked at me, and my carry-on.  “Whatcha readin’?”  “Mmm,” I mumbled, and held up the book. “Oh, I thought it might be Harry Potter,” she replied.


Now, there were two things that struck me as odd about this reply.  First of all, she was on her way to directing me to a movie that was decidedly not the Harry Potter movie, but OK, I’ll let that one slide.  Maybe she figured since I was reading Harry Potter, I had no need to see him at this time.

But here’s the other thing.  Alan F’s little book, good though it is, so good I’m reading it for about the third time, is, well, little.  It finishes up at a scant 85 or so pages.  You show me a Harry Potter book that’s less than the size of the New York City Telephone Directory (all boroughs), and I’ll eat my hat.

“I thought it might be Harry Potter.”  Harry Potter indeed.  

I wanted to say, “Yes, this is the Cliffs Notes version of Harry Potter.”  Or, “No, this man could clean the floor with your fucking Harry Potter!”  Or even, “Leave me alone.  This isn’t the face you think it is.”

But I didn’t.  I said, “No, not Harry, I’m afraid.”

Because I’m nice.

Betland’s Olympic Update:
* And yes, we have nice acrowinners.  So, what was it about The First Thanksgiving?
-Honorable Mention goes to Michelle, with her “Jettisoning marooned Pinta, Americans munched castrated turkeys.
-Runner-up goes to Flipsycab, with her “Just make pie. Already murdered countless turkeys.” (Although I must admit to loving the idea of the Massachusetts Couture Team.)
-And this week’s winner is LilyG, with her “John married Priscilla. And Myles? Cried terribly.”
- Thanks to all who played!

Monday, November 21, 2005


Well, that week is here. That week where we not only get to gorge ourselves senseless, but most of us get not one, but two days off from work. Hooray for Thanksgiving!

And hooray for acromania, and by now you'd have to be a complete and total boob to not have guessed what this week's acrotopic is. That's right, it's Christmas. No, no, no, it's Thanksgiving. In fact, it's "The First Thanksgiving."

So whatever your thoughts are on how it was, how it really was, and what the history books neglected to tell us, spill your guts in this week's acro.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but the letters below, which were randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket likes yams. A lot. I mean, that basket can put away the yams like nobody's business. Anyway, I'll be reading over the entries tomorrow night at about 10pm est, and doing the judging. The winner gets a pilgrim's hat made out of black construction paper, and the losers get a turkey made out of a paper plate. Well, with those prizes, you'll all be winners, right?

So again, the topic this week is "The First Thanksgiving." The letters:


And there you have it. A feast of acro. Now go away, you're bothering me.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Pedicure tonight. Toe polish color? A grapey-looking number called "Don't Wine, You Can Do It." I mean, that's bad even for nail polish namers.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Picture Sunday

Hello, hello. I'm bringing up the rear yet again this week, but there are pictures, so never fear.

I'd been sitting here bemoaning the fact that I had no pictures for tonight, then I decided, hey. I tell you about it from time to time, I tell Mr M about it all the time, tonight, I'll just show you.

So tonight welcome to Picture Sunday - What Are The Boys Up To?

I couldn't find Good Luck Baby Lily at first, which threw me into just a bit of a panic. She's so small, you know, and has that hole in her midsection where Gossamer tried to eat her but coughed her up just in the nick of time. Finally I found her. She was playing in my make-up.

She likes mascara.

Mr Peanut seems to be negotiating a new commercial deal. By the way, don't you just love his latest where all the characters are having a big dinner together? And Mr Clean is in the kitchen doing the dishes? I think it's fine. Except for Charlie the Tuna. Mr Peanut's not overly fond of Charlie. Thinks he's crass. Anyway, there's a happily sober Mr Peanut, waving from a conference call to his agents.

Mr Peabody's been with me, and Mr M, and Sherman most of the weekend. He needed some relaxing "quiet time." So he's been soothing himself by playing his violin.

He's playing a little Mozart. He's quite good, you know. But please don't ever, I mean ever, call his violin a fiddle. I can tell you this from personal experience.

It's almost his bedtime, but Sherman's having a little fun with Huckleberry Hound. They're playing a rousing game of Jenga.

You know, I've discovered something. For all the quiet and steadiness of hand one needs to play this game, when the blocks topple over and the tower goes down, it's quite a noisy time. Very noisy, when these two play.

And finally, Gossamer is eating my bedroom slipper.

Ahh, the fun we have here. Never a dull moment, really.

Now it's time for the recipe du jour. From the coveted "Seafood" section of Cardville (ooooh!), say hello to Almond Baked Halibut. ("Halibut is the jug fish.")

Now, besides the fact that there is way too much crap surrounding this particular dish, I'm finding it very hard to believe that this is indeed baked halibut. I'm convinced it is actually two pears, halved, imitating baked halibut. I see nothing whatsoever the least bit halibutish about this picture. In any case, whatever it is, it's loaded up with almonds, and all those grapes and limes and other green things on the plate are, well, I don't know what they are, but those are pears, and I don't care if you agree with me or not. They're pears.

The card says we're supposed to have this dish with a salad, Brussels sprouts, baked potatoes, and baked bananas. Which you can leave off, because you're already getting your fruit in the main course. Pears.

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Went to see "Walk The Line" this afternoon, and it was very good. I wasn't expecting to like it quite as much as I did, and Joaquin did a fine job as Mr Man In Black. And for my money, the movie's final scene, and final shot in particular, were just about perfect.
* A shout out to my buddy ESP, who is recovering from hip surgery. We visited her this weekend and had dinner, and she's doing very well, up and around and still her energetic self. And already asking when she can get back to doing aerobics.

Friday, November 18, 2005

It's Friday, Dear, But It Still Isn't Your Week, or Shock The Doggie

All right. I survived the Convenience Store Fiasco of Monday. I made it through the Afro-Mullet Hairdo Debacle of Monday and Tuesday. I passed the Who Is This Moron Looking Back In The Mirror At Me Test of Wednesday morning, and I even rose above the Nosetip Pimple Menace of Thursday.

I was so looking forward to today.

But I guess when Friday is still part of a week like this, well, I shouldn't have bothered being excited.

It all began in the wee hours before I went to bed. It was around, oh, 2 am in Betland, and I was washing up the final few glasses before turning in, and I decided to get a nice mug of ice water to take along to bed with me. So I put my mug up to the icemaker and heard the familiar grind it makes when a piece of ice gets stuck in the rack and there's no ice made to come out. So I went to jiggle the ice from the rack, only to find - there was no ice there. Or anywhere.

And I started to get the sneaking suspicion something could possibly be wrong.

This morning I got up and started out with an Orange Crapius drink. Wait, first of all, an aside here, to let you know just how much the gods hate me this week. After I banged myself in the eye buying coffee, I got up this morning and realized my thermal coffee mug was at work. Where I'd left it yesterday. I had no way to get my coffee to work so I had to wait until lunch to have coffee, and of course, by lunch I had a pounding headache. Just so you know.

I mixed up the Crapius and went to get a cup of ice to add in, as one can never have too much ice in a Crapius. (I think that’s on the jug of the powder – “Remember! One can never add too much ice!”) No ice again. And then I started feeling around. My frozen items were not as frozen as I’d like them to be. In fact, they weren’t near as frozen as I’d like them to be. And so I started to panic, not only at the thought of drinking a lukewarm Crapius, but also that something was wrong with my fridge.

I hung around work till lunchtime, when I then came back home and called the Fridge Man. I had to leave a message. I then started thinking not only about my slowly defrosting items in both the fridge and freezer, all of which I’d spent about $80 buying just the day before, but also that there was the distinct possibility someone would be in my house, which looked relatively as if a bomb had just detonated inside it. So I ate a little while cleaning up the place. And while the coffee brewed. And while my head pounded.

On my way back to work, I picked up all the perishables I could bag and took them by the folks’ for safe keeping. And upon arriving back at work, I found I had a call back from Mr Fridge. He could come immediately, a fact for which I was extremely grateful. I sent the folks to my house to let him in and hoped for the best.

And soon enough, one new heating element and $120 cash later, my fridge and freezer were all better. So he told me. As I was handing over the $120 cash.

You know, the gods must have suddenly realized that I’d had two $50 bills tucked away in my handbag for something special. And they said, “Ohhh, no. No, I don’t think so. In fact – tee hee – let’s make it more!

I worked the rest of the day and then headed to Mom and Dad’s to get my food items. As I was pulling into their driveway, I happened to look over onto the passenger seat of Podmobile2, only to find that there upon it was the TheCompanyIWorkFor bank deposit, which I’d forgotten to take to the bank. I had about $5100 of cash and checks there in my car, and about 20 minutes to get it to the bank to deposit it.

I walked into the folks’ house, explained my hurry, and gathered up my frozen goodies. Then, in true parent fashion, my mom – remember, this is the woman who loves to tell me long drawn-out stories while I’m standing in the nude, trying my best to cover myself, and my embarrassment, with a towel – began to tell me a long drawn-out story about the Fridge Man. I stayed as long as I could, explained that here on my Friday Chill Night I’d really rather not be arrested for embezzlement (ooh – shades of Janet Leigh in “Psycho”), and then I hit the trail back to town.

Where I reached the bank, the slowest bank in the history of banking, by the way, and got in the line of approximately 37 cars waiting to be, well, banked. Finally I gave up, swerving out onto the street to park, go inside TheCompanyIWorkFor, get the night deposit key, walk back to the bank, deposit the $5100 I wished was mine but wasn’t, and hopefully make the short trip back to The Pod.

Which I did.

So, this week has kicked my ass from pillar to post and back again, and I’ll be happy to see it end.


One thing I have to mention.

While I was home for lunch, I saw a commercial. It was a very long commercial, BBCAmerica seems to really like those long commercials, and was for one of those systems whereas you put a collar around your doggie’s neck, and put another device near where you don’t want your doggie to be, and voila! Your doggie stays away from that particular place. This would be because your doggie is in the process of being shocked into submission.

Now, I’ve got to say right up front that I hate this idea of doggie training. I mean, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a bad dog, other than Bill, but he wasn’t bad, he was just evil in the mind, the kind of dog that would pull a pocket knife on you or steal your grocery money, but I can’t get over the innate cruelness of these shocking devices.

But all the people in this commercial were just so happy that their beloved doggies were staying away from all the things that doggies aren’t supposed to be around, like the trash, the furniture (another thing that pisses me off – dogs were meant to be on the furniture, if you ask me), and so forth.

There were several families with several different doggies, but the commercial people kept coming back to this one family with a very sweet-looking Yellow Lab. And this poor doggie. They had him being shocked to keep away from the trash can. And there he was, panting, sitting about 3 feet away from the can, looking longingly as if it were his best friend. Just sitting there, right next to the trash he couldn’t enjoy having a good go-through.

And then later there he was sitting about 3 feet away from the kitchen counter, which held a nice juicy sandwich on a plate. And he looked longingly, panting, thinking, “Oh, God! Oh, God, I don’t ask for much in this life, and when I do I never get it anyway, but please God, if you really exist, just please let me just get one bite of this sandwich without being shocked to death.”

And this commercial had the audacity to tell us that this is going to keep our family – and our pet – really happy. Now how this is going to keep a pet happy is so far beyond me I can’t even fathom it right now.

Not with the week I’ve had, anyway.

Betland’s Olympic Update:
* It’s Chill Night here in Betland. The pajamas are at the ready, though not on yet, I’ve got two movies to watch, I have my favorite coffee mug, and the coffee I gave my eye socket for, and so the world can kiss it for now. At least till tomorrow.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

I'm Afraid This Isn't Your Week, Dear

You know, it happens.  You’re all probably young enough that it hasn’t happened to you yet, but wait.  It will.  You’ll have it too, one day.

That morning you look into the mirror and say, “Ye Gods.  That isn’t me.”

My week began, along with all the crap with the “new system” at TheCompanyIWorkFor, with my smacking my face on a wire auxiliary rack at the convenience store.  And OK, no black eye, no swollen socket, but it certainly didn’t make me feel like Miss America, either.

I’ve been running late every morning this week.  So much so that Monday and Tuesday I didn’t have time to straighten my hair.  As you know, on a good day when my hair is left to its own devices it curls.  And curls and curls, but it’s halfway manageable, I can run my fingers through it a couple of times, or put in a headband, or clip it up in the back, and it almost looks like hair.  Almost.

But there must have been more humidity around than usual this week, because in those two “free hair” days, my curls were so tight that even finger-combing didn’t loosen them.  And so my hairstyle for those days became something of a tightly-packed afro, clinging about a half-inch high closely to my skull, except for the fact that my haircuts keep being postponed so it’s quite long in the back, and my tightly-packed ‘fro had in reality become a tightly-packed ‘fro mullet.  Not one of your better coifs, to be sure.

But Wednesday was the day it happened.  I actually had time to work on straightening my hair and therefore looking like a true upright Citizen of the World, but when I ambled into the bathroom to brush my teeth, newly full of Orange Crapius drink, I flipped on the light and caught sight of myself in the mirror.  I jumped back with a start, uttering a sound that was, well, if I can try to recreate it, something like, “Aaa!Ahhheeewwwwwwww.”  Then I said it.  “Ye Gods. That isn’t me.”  Followed by something like, “I mean, holy shit.  What has happened to me, and when did it occur?”

The hair, soon to be relatively normal-looking, was still wet, curly, and beginning to frizz.  My eyes were red. My skin was – well, you know those commercials where they keep talking about “combination skin?”  Half of my face was dry enough that it looked scaly. The other half was a quagmire of oiliness.  I had dark circles under my eyes.  And yet….

And yet, I’ve seen all that before.  It was like yesterday morning, my face wasn’t – well, it wasn’t mine.  It had a different shape.  It was puffy, and not colored like mine, and my eyes were set too far in.  Or maybe not far enough in.  I don’t know, whatever they were, they weren’t right.  Someone had moved my eyes while I wasn’t looking, and I didn’t know how to get them back where they once had been.

Maybe it’s all bad nutrition.  Or not enough sleep.  Or too much caffeine.  Or – well, you know.  Old age.  

Maybe I just woke up yesterday morning and realized that all of a sudden I got old.  I don’t know.

All I do know is that I soldiered on and straightened my hair, put on a nice new shirt, and got on with my day.  And it wasn’t a bad day save for the fact that I spent a good deal of it thinking about how horrible I look lately.  I went on to Community Band last night, and believe it or not (and maybe the moon has passed whatever phase it was in over the weekend) I played pretty well.  I paid under $2.00 a gallon for gas, got a nice coffee for the trip home, and made it to bed by midnight.

Then I woke up this morning and went to face myself in the mirror.  And much to my surprise, saw pretty much my regular old face looking back at me, with one exception.  I had a whopping big pimple.  Right on my nose.  Right on the tip of my nose.  It couldn’t have been better placed had I been sent from Central Casting to play a witch.

And so I thought, “Well.  That’s nice.  Now what?”  I contemplated going back to bed, but that wasn’t really viable.  Then I started wondering what other famous folk would have done in the same situation.

Amber Von Tussle from the movie “Hairspray” would have gotten her mom (Deborah Harry, no less) to pop it.  That wasn’t really an option for me.

Laurie Partridge would have gone to school, spending the day in a funk with her hand covering her nose.

Lindsay Weir from “Freaks and Geeks” would have gone to school, too, where she would have been made fun of by her Freak friends, especially Kim Kelly, who would spend the day wondering aloud how the perfect Lindsay got a pimple.

Mary Ann would have gotten The Professor to concoct a special pimple-removing cream.  Which Gilligan would have mistakenly used, after which hilarity would ensue.

Laura Petrie would have looked in the mirror and cried, “Ohhhh, Rob!”

Marcia Brady would have gone to school with her hair combed over her nose.

Jan Brady would have found a way to blame Marcia.

Cindy Brady would have just acted like the baby she is.

Laura Ingalls would have called the family together to show them, where they would immediately look skyward and weep.

Cher Horowitz from “Clueless” would have chosen a wardrobe so spectacular that no one would ever notice the fact that she had a pimple on her nose.  And her dad would find someone to sue for it.

Opie Taylor would have a heart-to-heart talk with Andy about how pimples build character.

In the end, I went my own way.  Lots of makeup.

On the plus side, though, I pulled out a nice warm shirt to protect me from the 20-degree weather of today (it actually went from 70 to 29 degrees here yesterday), only to find that it was way too big.  I wore it anyway.  It felt good and comfy.  And big.

And I got the afternoon off.  That never hurts.

So on to Friday.

Betland’s Olympic Update:
*While I was driving around this afternoon, I noticed a folded up newspaper clipping lodged into my sun visor.  I got it out and looked at it, while I was driving, and noticed it was an obituary. Of someone I’d never heard of.  As I read through it, I realized why I kept it.  So I could tell you about it here!  And so I will.  Seems Our Deceased was survived by (I’m skipping names here) a wife, one son, one son’s wife, one daughter, one daughter’s companion, two grandsons, three brothers, all wifed, four sisters, three of which were husbaned…”and his special cat, Butthead.”  Some things just don’t need to be in the paper.
* I’m trying something new tonight, which my web-maven Stennie told me about. It’s a new feature where you can publish your blog right from Microsoft Word.  I don’t know whether or not I like it yet. If anything weird shows up for anyone (besides the pop-ups, which, believe me folks, I hate and I’m getting them myself), please let me know.  Even though I may not choose to use the feature anyway.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I've Been Everywhere, Man. Well, Not Exactly.

OK, it's been going around. Stennie did one. Jellybean. Krizzer. And now I'm going to do mine.

The "States I've Been To" Meme!

First of all I have to be up front here and tell you I didn't use the html code to upload this. The size of the picture is grotesque. So I saved mine into a file and played with the size. But I'll still give the links so you yourself can go do your own version.

So here it is...

Where I've Been

(create your own visited states map)

Now, as I look at this map, something strikes me as a bit odd. Umm, a little bottom-heavy, right? I promise you I don't have anything against The North, really I don't.

I was going to do the "world" version of this as well, but it was quite depressing, as I've only been to two countries outside of the US.

You know, if my plan to get rid of the more useless states (see August 4, 2005 blog) ever comes to fruition and all those upper states really do get sold to Canada, I think I could pretty much have completed a clean sweep.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. And so, where did all those black eyes come from?
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie, with her "Nevin arrogantly ran right. Wooden Santa." Ouch.
- And this week's winner - well, it's winners, actually. A flat-out tie, two so good I couldn't decide between them. LilyG's "Needed a roaster. Rushed Williams-Sonoma." Wow, the nice picture that conjures up. And Mike's "Never ask Rene Russo, "Why Scientology?" Yep, I'd say that could be dangerous. And she seems the type to really be able to throw a punch, too.
- Thanks to all who played!
* By the way, as for my own self...no black eye today. I was almost disappointed.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Wow. I can't wait to see myself tomorrow morning.

Now, don't get the wrong idea. I'm not expecting to wake up beautiful or anything. I didn't have botox treatments during the evening nor am I sitting here with a towel on my head while my new hair color sets in.

Today as I was leaving work I realized I really didn't want to go to the grocery. I needed lunchmeat, and cheese, and a new jar of pickles, but I figured I could stretch it out one more day and avoid the market on a Monday. However, there was one staple I knew I couldn't do without.


I mean, no coffee at the Poderosa means no reason to go on living. And so I decided to stop by a little convenience store before going home, just to pick up a small can, only they're not in cans anymore, they're in plastic containers, which I actually like way more than cans because they're cuter and more convenient. But I've drifted.

So I went into the store, where there was only myself, the counter girl, and a man standing drinking a cup of, well, coffee. I headed towards the back, and when I found the Magic Shelf I leaned over to pick up my container. And - *wham!* - I hit myself right in the face on one of those little "auxiliary racks" they sometimes stick onto the regular racks. You know, the kind that hold bean dip and air freshener sticks. Or in my case, Crystal Light.

I hit my face so hard that I actually reeled backwards and stumbled a bit. And it hurt, but, surprisingly, not that much, so of course I immediately set about the task at hand, which was to see if either of the other two people saw this happen. I looked around and caught Coffee Drinking Man chuckling. So I chuckled too and headed to the counter.

"I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you," he said as I made my way up there. "Ehhh, that's OK, go ahead and laugh at me," I replied. And so he did. I paid for my coffee, and while doing so touched my eye socket and was already feeling a knot appear. So I don't know if I'll have a black eye tomorrow or not, but if I do I'll be sure to take a picture for Picture Sunday and posterity's sake.

As I got into my car, I could see him gesturing while talking to the counter girl. He was telling her my sad and sorry tale, I'm supposing, by the smack he gave his eye region.

So this brings us to tonight's acrotopic: "How did you get that black eye?"

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket's never had a black eye that I know of, but he once told me he was kidney-punched by the red candle on my computer desk. I separated them after that. Then tomorrow night at about 10pm est, I shall be reading over the entries and doing the judging. The winner will get a nice, fresh, cold steak for his or her eye.

Again, the topic: "How did you get that black eye?" The letters:


Ooh. That almost spells Narrows.

Now, box (and acro) clever.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Today was the first day of "The New System" at TheCompanyIWorkFor. God's teeth - what a nightmare. If they don't work out the bugs in the whole thing, I'll be on the roof with a shotgun by Christmas.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Picture Sunday

Sunday. What more can you say, really?

And why is it weekends go so fast and the workweek goes so slowly?

Anyway, spent my first Friday chilling in my pajamas since about six weeks ago, that was fun, movie of the night was "Picnic At Hanging Rock," which is really hard to type. Go ahead, type "Picnic" and see if you don't try putting two "k"s in there after the "c"s. I'll wait.

Then it was to Mr M's on Saturday, more movies, dinner out, and some clarinetting. Boy, the moon must have been in a terrible clarinet phase this weekend. Because not only did I suck, which I'm wont to do on occasion, but Mr M didn't play well, either.

Then today I tried again getting used to something new, which is being kicked out of Mr M's house by noon. He's giving lessons. Not at kicking people out, though he could, he's very good at it, but he gives clarinet lessons to the kiddies in B'burg. So I decided to do a little coat shopping. I desperately need a coat for the coming winter, I can't wear a single coat I own anymore. I found two that were exactly what I was looking for, but alas, I must be an incredible cheap-ass, because I don't want to pay $160 or $180 for a jacket. I mean, I'll only get to wear it for 3 months or so.

And so, while I mulled over this fact about myself, which was by no means a newfound fact, as I've realized that the older I'm getting the cheaper I'm getting, I headed from the outskirts back into the town of B'burg. And I went to MishMish.

MishMish is a great art store, and I'd been thinking about going there since Friday. Friday was when I made my confession about, after all these years, still enjoying the activity of coloring in a coloring book. So I figured, hey, they probably have some cool coloring books. And they did. And this brings me to tonight's Picture Sunday.

Picture Sunday - The Coloring Edition. (I was going to call it the Back To Childhood Edition, but I'm of a mind that coloring isn't necessarily a child-exclusive activity.)

First off, an easy one. This comes from something out of my collection - my Sherman and Peabody collection. It's an old coloring book where The Boys decide to go visit Atlas. Sherman seems to be having a bad day in this picture. Why? Well, because he feels like the whole world's on his shoulder, of course.

Isn't that a wonderful rug they have? They bought it at Wimbledon, apparently.

The next one's from one of the books I bought today. And it answers the question on everyone's lips, "Just what is a ranking government official from the Meiji period in Japan wearing these days?"

Well, to put your mind at ease, he's wearing that. I like it - a government official having to go around with a bow and arrow. I also forgot to color in the handle of his sword, which I'm supposing that's what it is, as I don't think a government official from the Meiji period in Japan would have a tail.

Next is from the Mosaics coloring book I also bought today. It was fun.

And there you have it. I said Friday I liked coloring until the cows came home, and today, I did it. I'm assuming. I guess the cows are home at this hour.

And in almost keeping with a theme here, wonder how our government official from the Meiji period in Japan would like this week's recipe du jour? For it is Japanese Spiced Barbecue.

Well, I see nothing about this that looks either 1) Japanese, 2) Spicy, or 3) Barbecued. Looks like roasted chickies to me. And to this point, I still don't know what's behind it on the nice orange plate there. When I first pulled out the card, I thought it was some fried eggs, but it became apparent soon enough it wasn't. So let's look. Ahhh. Pineapple Spears and Kumquats. That's appropriate, since wasn't pineapple on last week's card about fruits in season?

Tonight's recipe is the first in our very last set of cards. This would be Series 5 for those of you keeping score at home. Hope there are better ones down the road.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* An official Happy Birthday to Mr M. His was today.
* Just for the record, I didn't color in my collectible Sherman and Peabody book. I copied a page to print out. That's why everything looks a little gray. And isn't it nice to see a coloring book where someone's fixing his pipe?

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Sandwich of Destiny

A short blog for Friday. Well, shortish, anyway.

I told you the other day I thought you needed to hear the story of this sandwich. It's a good story.

Many years ago, well, I guess not "many," more like "some," maybe eight or nine, my cousin Jacob and I took a trip Up North. To the wilds of Akron, OH. (Yes, I know, how did we ever survive in this veritable Sin City, you ask, but somehow we did.)

While we were there we decided to do some shopping, as one does, or two, in this case, and we found a store that sold "educational toys." You know those "educational toy" stores. Full of unfinished wooden shapes with wheels that parents feel really good about giving their kids but the kids want absolutely nothing to do with because they're fucking boring toys.

But this educational toy store was different. It had fun stuff in it. It had neato drums and book-bags (I still have mine, thank you very much), and a whole section of coloring books and crayons. Now, I'm a woman of a mature age here, and I still could color until the cows come home. I try my best to limit this activity to the privacy of my own home, because I know if the public-at-large saw a 45-year old woman coloring in a coloring book, well, crayons would be the only utensil she'd ever be allowed to write with again. Because they don't let one have sharp objects at The Home.

After a while Jacob and I ambled over to about three rows of plastic bins, and in each of these bins was a different kind of plastic food. And these foods were so realistic-looking it just made us giggle out loud. There were meats, cheeses, breads, vegetables, eggs. Pats of butter, squirts of mustard and ketchup. And there we were, right in the middle of the educational toy store, giggling, putting together food combinations, and generally having a good old time. And the stuff was cheap, too, and by all rights I should have bought one of everything they had, but I kept thinking, "What am I going to do with a bunch of fake food," and so I just picked out a couple of things I thought were the cutest as a reminder of my trip to the wilds of Akron. I picked up a piece of bread, a piece of lettuce, and a slice of tomato and headed to the checkout with them, plus my green canvas book-bag, a swell coloring book, and a 48-box of crayons.

When I got home I sat the lettuce and tomato atop the bread, right there on my TV. I thought it was cute. Never once did anyone mention that I had fake food on my TV. And so I became very sullen and boxed them all away somewhere.

But cue a couple of years later, when that Abundance of Assholishness known as Mr M happened into my life. He'd just moved to B'burg, and it was the first-ever time I was visiting him at his new rented home there on G Road. There were still boxes and crates everywhere, but he was showing me around, upstairs and down, and finally when we settled in in the kitchen, where the wallpaper still gives me the willies, he scooted a box towards me with his foot. "Here, look through that and see if you find anything you like."

I opened it up and it was like Christmas morning. The box was chock-a-block full of toys. Old tin toys, cars, Happy Meal prizes, wind-ups, toys that hopped, flipped, whizzed, spun, and anything else you could name. I started going through the pieces one by one, picking each up, inspecting it, seeing how it worked, commenting on its utter coolness, and setting it in the "give back" pile. I set everything in the "give back" pile. As cool as the stuff was, this was only my 2d meeting with Mr M, and I just didn't have the heart - or the courage - to bounce in there and say, "Holy shit! I'll take this! And this! And this, and these two, oh, and I want this one and that one, too."

But then way down in the box I spotted something. And something else, and some more - Mr M had pieces of my plastic food set!

I started pulling out foodstuffs. He had a piece of ham, a piece of cheese, another lettuce, another tomato, and - one more piece of bread. Yes, I found out on my second-ever meeting with Mr M that he had that all-important one piece of bread.

After I expressed my utter bliss at finding these items, he graciously gave them over to me.

I brought the items home. And when I moved into the Poderosa later that year, I got them out, unpacked mine, and put them all out on the kitchen counter at The Pod, where they've remained ever since (even though one of my tomato slices fell behind the stove, where it remains to this day).

Mr M's birthday shall happen this weekend. And I can proudly say that on that 2d meeting all those years ago, I knew we were destined to be best buddies. Because together, we completed a sandwich.

Now, wasn't that a good story?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Played the last gig of Sauerkraut Band season last night. It was very fun. I love those guys. It's always hard, being happy you're taking that last long trip down the mountain for a while, but knowing how much you're going to miss everyone in the off-season.
* Damn. I'm just a sentimental old fool tonight, aren't I?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Reading Club

Well. The Poderosa Reading Club seems to be back on the move lately, and may I just say how proud I am of this fact. See, my boys, because they love me so, have dedicated this session to reading the works of an outstanding but underrated author. That would be no less a person than Alan F Arkin himself.

Misters Peanut and Peabody (oh, shit, I didn't do that alphabetically, I'd better correct that before there are billing fights) - Misters Peabody and Peanut are reading Alan's book about his own spiritual journey to enlightenment, "Halfway Through The Door." Huckleberry Hound is reading the still-popular "The Lemming Condition," Good Luck Baby Lily is thoroughly enjoying "Tony's Hard Work Day," and up to this point Gossamer has eaten the covers of two of my Alan F videos, "Simon" and "Magicians." He's quite proud of this, because he's one ahead of everyone else. (Well, actually, that's an assumption on my part; I once thought Gossamer had no pride, as he's a little sketchy on all his emotions, but he does enjoy a makeover. There's got to be some pride in that.)

And Sherman and I just finished the book I acquired yesterday, "Cassie Loves Beethoven." And we both liked it so much Sherman thought I should do a "book report" on it. And since I'm not a student, and he is, and Peabody promised him a little extra credit in English and Technical Communications, we've decided to turn the blog over to Sherman tonight and let him review the book.

So - take it away, Sherman!

Hi, Folks! *Ahem. Ahem.*

"Cassie Loves Beethoven," by Alan Arkin (Bet, there's no "F" in Alan Arkin, I just don't understand why you keep doing that, but it makes you giggle, so I guess I'll put up with it.)

Cassie is a cow. She was bought by the Kennedy family because the kids, David and Hallie, thought it would be fun to have a cow, and also because they could have lots of milk, yogurt, butter, and ice cream from her. But Cassie won't give any milk!

So the family tries everything they can think of so she will give milk. Finally, they decide to play music for her. They try all kinds of music, and it works a little, but when they find a classical music station on the radio, the milk starts coming.

Everything is going fine until one morning they find Cassie and she won't give milk. In fact, she won't do anything. She just lays on her side and sighs. She then tells the kids why she is so emotional. She heard some music on the radio that just turned her upside down.

After the family gets over the shock of the fact that they have a talking cow, they start trying to find out what music it was that she heard. They find that it was Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. It's all she can talk about, that music and how wonderful Beethoven must be that he can make all those sounds by himself. They tell her he doesn't do all that, that he just wrote the music and musicians play it and it goes on the radio.

Cassie goes missing one day and when the family finds her, she's on her way to go see a concert where Beethoven will be played. They sneak her into the concert where she can hear the music, and she goes wild. And decides she is going to learn to play an instrument.

Now, I have to tell you right here that Cassie is a very headstrong cow. If she wants something, she's going to find a way to get it, mainly by wearing everybody down till they give in. Hmmm, reminds me of someone I know.

So the kids go to the school music teacher, Mr Katzenbach, and start borrowing instruments, but Cassie can't play any of them. They try a trumpet, cello, tuba, and some others. She wanted a flute, but they told her she couldn't play that because of her hooves. Or an oboe, or clarinet. That's probably good, as those are hard instruments to play, at least the clarinet, which I can tell you from personal experience.

Finally Mr Kennedy makes a big piano for her to play, and she starts to try. And she gets really mad because she thinks she can just start right out playing Beethoven's Sixth Symphony, even though she doesn't know anything about music. She gets even madder when the kids tell her she has to learn to read music and play the notes. And she has to practice. She doesn't want to practice, she wants to play the Beethoven piece. Boy, does that sound like someone else I know! Never wants to practice, just wants to be able to magically play the music. Sheesh. Some people.

But she knuckles down and practices. Every day, all day long. (I hope some people learned a lesson from that.) And she learns to play a few songs, but no Beethoven because his music is very hard. Then Cassie decides she wants to give her own concert, and tells Mr Katzenbach and the kids, and they decide she can give a concert with the school orchestra. But Cassie says she'll only do it if she can play Beethoven. So everyone has to look for a Beethoven song she can play. After they look a lot, they find one.

And the work begins. Cassie practices and practices. And finally the day of the concert comes. The school orchestra has been practicing too, but when Cassie comes out onstage and begins to play, they're all shocked and can't play. A cow?? Finally, they try again, and everyone plays the Beethoven piece (it's a Rondo), and the audience thinks it's the greatest thing they've ever seen.

That night Cassie is asked to play another concert, this time with a symphony orchestra! She accepts, and begins to work again. But something is happening to Cassie. She's so caught up in the concert and her performance that she's starting to become not a very nice cow. She's a nervous wreck. She yells at people and berates them because she doesn't think they play as well as they should. (Hey! That kind of reminds me of someone else I know! Ha, Ha, only kidding, Mr Bruce!)

She plays her Beethoven Rondo with the symphony, and again everyone loves her and thinks she is wonderful, and she is basking in the glory of success. She's also gotten quite a big head. I don't mean a big head like mine, which is actually a large head, but a big head meaning she's pretty proud of herself.

This is until Hallie reads a newspaper review to Cassie, and they didn't like her very much. Cassie gets really bent out of shape over this and goes to find the reviewer and is telling her off in no uncertain terms when the reviewer says something that brings Cassie back down to earth. That maybe Cassie has the idea that she's more important than the music she's playing. (Hey! That sounds like yet someone else I know, but thankfully, I only have to deal with that about twice a year.)

Cassie is now a very unhappy cow, and says she's never going to play the piano again. And she doesn't. At least for a long time, until one day she starts playing again, just because she likes the music and how it makes her feel. And that's how the book ends, only with something really cute at the very very end that I'm not going to tell, because I'm sure after this report you're all going to go out and find the book yourselves to read.

And so that's the story of Cassie, and of the book. There was only one thing I didn't understand in this book and that was that David and Hallie and Mr Kennedy were all very shocked when Cassie began talking to them, but no one else ever gave it a second thought. I asked Bet about this and she said that she was sure there was a reason for this, that maybe once they saw that a cow could play the piano maybe they weren't so shocked when she started talking. She said that Mr Arkin was a very good writer and smart person and she was sure he knew what he was doing.

And I agree with Bet. It was a very good book. Mr Kennedy should have found a way to make a giant clarinet though, instead of a piano. The clarinet is a much better instrument than the piano.

I shall sign off now. Back to you, Bet!

Thank you, Sherman. Now was that a great book report or what? The boy's talented, there's no denying it. He gets an "A" from me, Mr Peabody.

By the way, I know there are lessons to be learned in the book, but there's one fact that Mr Arkin, as good a soul as he is, failed to mention in his book.

Practicing is boring!

(Take a good look at Sherman's lederhosen above - after one last performance Thursday he'll be putting them up for the season. And by the way, I must tell you the story one day of the sandwich in the picture. It's a good story.)

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. Figure skating acrowinners. And I just have to say that this is one of those weeks where any one of you could or should have won. Every one of you had at least one acro that rocked. No losers here.
- Honorable Mentions go to Michelle, with her "Gracefully, nine elephants finessed numbingly beautiful arabesques," and LilyG, with her "Glacial nerves eject fear. Now bowing, arrogantly."
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie, with her "Gliding. Nathan. Effortlessly. Found nick. Bangs ass."
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her "Gillooly nabbed eventually. Finally, Nancy bowed again."
- Again, thanks to all who played. Your acros were great!

Monday, November 07, 2005


Hello, everyone. You, you, and you two, and yes, even you. And welcome to another of the treats of delight known as acromania.

Gliding, sliding, jumping, spinning. Ruffles, silk collars cut to the navel, and more make-up than one should ever wear. Yes, welcome to the world of figure skating.

It's that time of year again, and remember, this is an Olympic Year. (Olympic Updates in earnest? Could it be?) So in honor of those who go from a twizzle spin right into a triple chocolate frappe with a twist, our acrotopic this week is "Figure Skating."

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are, as always, randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket once had a very embarrassing moment doing a camel spin, but he asked that I didn't tell you about it. So I won't. Interesting though it was. I mean, you'd really like the story, I promise. But I guess I shouldn't say anything. Too bad though, really. Then tomorrow night about 10pm est I shall be judging and announcing the winners, who will receive a punch square in the face from Tonya Harding.

This week's topic, "Figure Skating." The letters:


Now - go spin those letters.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sherman and I are reading my latest acquisition, "Cassie Loves Beethoven," by none other than Alan F Arkin himself. A book report will follow.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Picture Sunday

Ahhh, Sunday. Sunday's almost over. Now it's back to the workweek. I don't like the workweek.

Well, last night, quite soberly, I published my drunken blog. And in the spirit of drunken blogging, although I'm still as sober as a judge (although I know a judge who was arrested for drunken driving, but I really am as sober as they come), I'm going to give you for this Picture Sunday, another round of - Stuff On My Head!

Help! There's a rabbit on my head!

That little fella's name is Livingston. I didn't name him, Boyd's Bears named him. He looks quite sullen, so he fits in well here at The Pod.

And now! Ayeeeee! The Llama! The llama, which has a beak for eating honey, and swims in the sea! The Llama!

I just want you to know that I've had that llama for a long time, and he's really dirty. I hope I don't catch something putting him on my head.

And speaking of interesting animals - Help! There's an anteater upon my head!

Really. I am sober. I promise.

Let's give this next one the caption of an old Gary Larson cartoon. "Now there's a little hat."

All right, so it's Sherman's hat. It's his gardening hat. He said it was OK.

And now, this one is for one person and one person only. Michelle, this one's just for you. "Whenever there was a call for help - help!help!...."

And now it's time for that very bewitching part of Sunday, the recipe du jour. Well, folks, we're at the end of another card set, and we only have one more to go (and I'm still forever in gratitude for Jellybean for these last sets I've been able to publish). As in keeping with the "Opening Cards" of each set, this one's a bore. It's - a salad. *yawn!*

So there you go. It's a nice looking salad, I'll give them that. I like the fact that it has olives. I like olives in my salad. The back of the card tells us what fruits are available in what months. Let's see, November? Coconuts, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, limes, papayas, persimmons, pineapples, pomegranates, tangelos, and tangerines. So there. Go get you some of those.

But really, now. Do these card people really care about you the viewer? Of course they don't. Because if they did, they'd have done this with their salad.

Yeah. I care.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Went to see "Good Night And Good Luck" today. At a real theater! It was mighty fine, two hours in a darkened room with David Strathairn and George Clooney. If they'd have just thrown in Alan Arkin as Bill Paley, I might have exploded right there in The Lyric.
* If anyone has anything they'd like to see me put on my head, just let me know and I'll see what I can work out.
* I think my little hat may be on backwards.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

My Drunken Blog

Awww, how proud we all must be, we happy few, we band of drunken brothers. OK, so I'm not drunk, after my evening I wouldn't mind being, but I agreed to stay sober tonight, and I have to keep my word, because if Mr M and I end up arguing any more I'm going to have to be in a condition to drive home.

Anyway, re NaDruWriNi. You all knew the drill, because I told you Thursday. I wrote a blog last Saturday when I actually was drunk and stored it away, to be opened on this auspicious occasion. I just now did that. I'm starting to see what the subject matter is, and I really hope I can read my own handwriting.

OK. So I'm hedging. I'm a little worried about spilling this out, but here goes. My drunken blog.

Oh, by the way, I was supposed to tell you what I'm drinking, which was three Spatens and more shots of Goldschlager than I could possibly remember.

Let's All Conjure Up Some Hate!

Hi Folks -

It's Oct 29th, a Saturdy - as I write this. And I'm drunk. Let's make no mistake - I am drunk. Not tipsy, not cutely inebriated, I am drunk.

I've just played my last night of Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is where we celebrate all things German. Or Bavarian, I should say. Men in lederhosen and girls in dirndls, German milkmaids, people who enjoy yodeling and drinking beer and hanging out celebrating life and having fun.

But here's the thing. Mr M has a joking saying about me - "you hate Nazis more than any person I've ever met." And he's probably right there. I do. I'm sure there may be people who were in concentration camps who have found it in their hearts to forgive their capturers and torturers. And here I am, a free woman who has never suffered torture under anything more than her own hand, and I hate Nazis more than anything on this earth. Nazis, neo-Nazis - I hate them all with every fiber of my being. Its probably what some would call "an unnatural hate," but to me, it's perfectly natural. It's healthy. It's normal. It's right.

Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated with Nazis. I love to watch anything having to do with Hitler, with World War II, with concentration camps, with Hitler Youth marcdhing around all puffed up with pride.

It must be the hate.

Or the wonderment - how a group of people can so hate another. So much so that their total annihalation is the only solution.

There's a running joke amongst us in SK Band. Every single performance, before our first waltz of the evening, Ed asks "What do Germans do during a waltz:" Of course the answer to that is schunkel, ie, sway back and forth - but to us in the band the joke answer to that is - "What do Germans do during a waltz? Invade Poland!" And other than that, well, save for our "Nazi Marching Version" of "Strangers In The Night" for birthdays and anniversaries, that's really the only "Nazi" thing about Oktoberfest. And that's all for fun anyway.

Except for this one night. It was my first year playing with SK Band. About 2/3 way through the season, the house was packed that night, and it was right after the march around, where the crowd links hands and marches a snaking line through th barn. A man came up to Ed and requested a certain song. And Ed got very excited and said - "we have that, we have that!" Then he called the number of that particular song, a march. We all got the music in front of us.

Ed then proceeded to introduce the song. And he did so by saying - Someone requested this next song, an we have the original German print of it - because it's not available anymore anywhere. And it was Hitler's personal march - and here it is! Ein zwei drei fier!

I was mortified. Well, I was more than mortified - I was sickened. And so I did something there as a newbie to the band, a first year player, that I am to this day proud of. I sat there with my horn, looked to the left of me and to the right, and put my horn back on its stand. I then crossed my arms in front of me and refused to play. I sat, arms crossed, for the song then got my horn back out to play the rest of the show. A bold move for a newbie I think.

And I'm sure Ed, our fearless leader, and a wonderfully nice man, didn't realize what he was doing. He was just so excited that someone had requested a piece of obscure music we had in our playbook that we'd never had the opportunity to play. I truly believe Ed is no Nazi.

But see, I had time to think about how I felt, about how people in the audience may have felt. That I know of we'd never done the song before and we've certainly never done it since. It was a one-off abomination.

And so [so? sou? son? I think it's so] now I'm down off the mountain an Oktoberfest is over. I spent the evening in th company of the SK Band, some of the friendliest, nicest, and kindest people one could ever know. Hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too badly - in front of the band or my family, who was there for the occasion - (personally, all I can remember is is that I kept introducing my nephew as his friend Andrew and Andrew as my nephew Taylor.Oh, and that I sold my own 2 personal Sauerkraut Band mugs for $10 apiece)(I don't know what they go for at the souvenir stand. I hope I at least came out even on the deal.)

And so I'm back at Mr M's, he's long gone to bed by now, he's not feeling well, and I'm here watching TV. PBS is showing yet another program about immigrants. And I'm seeing people who came to America to escape - Nazis.

And that's I guess what inspired this unabashedly drunken blog, a week earler than it was supposed to be.

It's those damn Nazis.


But now I'll sign off. I'm sitting here smoking clove cigarettes (since Mr M has gone to bed, I do that in front of him in his own house since he hates it so much) and drinking coffee in an effort to sober up enough to fall asleep.

But here's my plan - to wad this blog up into a little ball and put it in my travel bag, leaving it till next week to open and publish as part of National Drunken Writing Night. I will do it - IF I can read my own handwriting enough to publish it a week later. And if I am, forgive its content. And my incredibly drunken indiscretions.

And hate Nazis.


So there you have it. What I get up to when I'm three sheets to the wind. I seem to be quite fond of the dash - yep, that little fella. And I don't check for spelling.

Anyway, sober now I am. And you know what? I still hate Nazis.

Watch yourselves, Drunken Bloggers for Real! Don't go overboard!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Nah, no update, guys - it's Saturday, for cryin' out loud.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

I Won't Be Drunk On Saturday...

...not that I'm anticipating, anyway. Last Saturday was enough for me for a long, long time.

Still, I shall be halfway, kind-of participating in the National Drunken Writing Night. Stennie's doing it in earnest, as are several others.

And here's my plan:

See, I wanted to participate since I first heard about it on Stennie's blog. And I planned to. But as I said above, the events of Saturday last just left me unable to fathom getting drunk again. My liver can't take it, my psyche can't take it.

And so I did something smart, even though it's not exactly conforming with the given rules of the NaDruWriNi.

Last Saturday night, when I was potted out of my mind, unable to sleep, and alone (Mr M toodled off to bed early), I wrote a blog. I wrote and wrote till I finished, then took the blog, crumpled it up into a little ball, and put it in my overnight bag. Where it sits to this day.

On this coming Saturday, I'm going to take it out and publish it, ver batim, and believe me, folks, this is a scary thought to me, because I can't remember a lot of what's in it.

Anyway, that way I figure I can publish a drunken blog without being actually drunk.

Now, I know this isn't going to please the NaDruWriNi people. I don't care. I don't know them, and I didn't sign an application or anything, so I figure I can do it the way I damn well please. Anyway, in looking over the rules, I'm not really doing anything too sinister. It says I have to tell you what I'm drinking, which I can, and I can't post-edit, which I have no plans to do anyway. I'll publish in all my slurred glory.

So there. Stay tuned.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Vacation is over. Have to go back to work tomorrow. That alone might encourage me to drink Saturday against my better thoughts.