Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Hail To Thee, O Alan Arkin (part 1)

(A blog of interest only to myself, I'm thinking...)

Yes, I promised you it was coming. And I think the time is right.

As I mentioned just the other day, my acting idol, no less a person than Mr Alan F Arkin himself (that's Alan Fucking Arkin for you keeping score at home), stars in a movie that wowed them at Sundance last week ("Little Miss Sunshine"). So what else is new? He's been wowing us all for a lot of years.

I've loved Mr F Arkin for some 25 years, since "The In-Laws," and have always tried to catch his work when it happened my way. But it was only when I saw "Catch-22" for the very first time last year - how did I go 35 years without seeing that movie? - that I realized this man was a, well, a genius. And so I started to seek out things I'd missed the first time around, things I hadn't seen in way too long, and things I didn't even know existed. It's a neverending quest, you know, but I'm making inroads. Really, I am.

Currently, Alan F's imdb.com page shows 86 roles, theatrical releases, TV movies, and the like. I'm up to 55. Does that make me scary? I hope not. I'm not, really. I'm just a normal, everyday gal who likes Mr A. In case you're interested, and in the interest of what's to come, here's my current list of viewed roles.

The current Arkin performances I've seen.

And so let's begin our tribute to Mr F Arkin with my Top Ten Alan Roles. This was difficult for me, there are so many I like. But what was especially difficult for me was choosing between the top three. There are three roles, the Big Three, that are so incredibly well-acted and dear to me, to choose one above the others would be like choosing which of your three children to jettison off a sinking ship. But in the end, I made that choice. Sorry, kids!

Top Ten Alan F Arkin Roles

1. Yossarian - From "Catch-22," surely Mr F Arkin's most famous role, and though it was hard to pick a favorite amongst the Big Three, the Mighty Triumvirate of Alan F Arkin Roles, Yossarian just has to come first. There's not a moment he's onscreen that he's not, well, perfect. From answering Paula Prentiss's "I know just how you feel" (after she's kneed him in the groin) with, "I don't think you do," to his, "There, there" to a dying Snowdon, to that most golden of all lines, "I don't wanna," well, how this couldn't have been Oscar material (he wasn't even nominated, if you can believe it) I have no idea. And the scene where he flirts with the lovely Luciana in the bar is, for my money, the best flirting scene ever performed. And then there's always the great exchange: Luciana - "I work for a big American company." Yossarian - "Me too!" Comedy, drama, angst.... Yep, it's number one.

2. Sheldon Kornpett, DDS of the Greater Manhattan Area - From "The In-Laws," my favorite Alan F film. How can you not love Shelly? Well, in short, you can't not love him. This poor, poor man, this otherwise normal, sane guy who gets dragged along on the most insane of capers by Peter Falk's Vince Ricardo. If I quoted all the great lines in this movie, well, my two-part blog would turn into a five-parter - "Oh, God, please don't let me die on West 31st street!" "Beaks? Flies with beaks?" "There's red tape in the bush?" "You're dead, right? Good." "I have flames on my car!" "What he said." "The ocean? It's over the ocean to Scranton, Pennsylania?" "What flow, there isn't any flow." "I've only had four women in my life. Two of them my wife. Once before and once after." OK, I'll stop, there are just too many. But as much as the lines are the looks. The amazing looks our Mr Arkin gives, to Vince Ricardo's stories, and antics, and, well, the look on his face when Señor Pepe is giving him a little kiss - absolutely priceless. Spun gold, it all is. (And the commentary track on the DVD - Peter Falk telling the story of just how much Alan F loved to serpentine; it's great.)

3. Mr Singer - From "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter," Mr Singer is the deaf-mute who carries a card around with him that says, "John Singer. I am a deaf-mute. I read lips and can understand everything that is being said to me. PLEASE DO NOT SHOUT." Mr Singer is kind, understanding, and lonely. He helps all around him, except his friend, who he wants to help the most. And of course, himself. I hated all those people in town who didn't realize what gold they had in Mr Singer. Mr Singer was also very nattily attired at all times, btw. What a snappy dresser he was. So please, love Mr Singer. Just don't shout at him. Please.

4. Flagg Purdy - From "A Matter of Principle," a PBS television Christmas special. Flagg is one cantankerous old bastard. A father of, I think it was, 11 kids, though I never counted that many in the show, Flagg is a man of principle. So much so that he alienates everyone around him. He'd be worth a mention on this list simply because Flagg doesn't recognize the state of West Virginia, but there's a lot more to love about him. He kicks kids out of the family once they're married (maybe that's where the missing of the 11 I couldn't find went), won't let the family have heat or light in the house, and has his phone turned off because he's refused to pay the county tax of 11 cents attached to the bill, compounded over a period of 3 years. And he hates Christmas. He hates Christmas more than the Grinch ever dared. His refusal to let the family have a tree results in the losing of said family, but of course, just like the Grinch, his heart eventually opens up. After all, this is a Christmas special, right? (BTW, Mr F Arkin reprises his role of Flagg Purdy in a movie, "Raising Flagg," which has had the most limited of limited releases. Shame. I really want to see Flagg again.)

5. Gunny Rafferty - From "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins," the movie Stennie refuses to watch simply because of its title. And it's not much of a title, but I have a real affinity for this movie. Alan F plays Gunny, a drunken ex-marine who now lives, well, not much of life at all and works giving driving tests at the DMV. He's kidnapped by an incredibly dumb Sally Kellerman and an incredibly snotty (and probably high) Mackenzie Phillips for a jaunt from California to New Orleans, where hilarity and pathos ensue. The reason I fell for this movie is just Gunny himself, this hapless slob of a man who you can't help but like. As you'll find out, he sings in the movie, wears the same clothes almost throughout, dons a Stetson hat (I'm always asking if I can make a poster for The Stetsons' "next concert," where I'd use a pic of this), drinks a lot, gets his heart broken, and gets to enter and exit his car through the window. However, the movie also has that added special bonus of Harry Dean Stanton, who gets to say the line, "What did you say yer name agihn wuz?" What's not to fall for?

6. Lt. Rozanov - From "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," or, as I lovingly refer to it, "The Russians Are Coming²," as the whole title is hard to fit on the Movie List. Alan F's first "real" screen role, he plays the confused crew member of a Russian sub gone aground off the coast of a small New England island. Poor Rozanov, trying to find a boat and almost setting off World War III. I always thought he looked more like a character from a cheesy motorcycle movie than a Russian naval officer, but that's OK. He's still a hoot, gets to teach his fellow Russian sailors to say, "Emergency! Everybody to get from street!" and tells Carl Reiner, "I know everyone on this island is complete and total crazy, but you, Whittaker Walt? You are crazy, too?" But for some reason the one that makes me giggle uncontrollably is when Reiner apologizes for shooting at him. He says with a wave, "Don't do it no more." See? I'm giggling now.

7. Milo - From the little-seen but much appreciated movie "Magicians." Alan F plays the mentor of sorts for two budding magicians and one budding magician's assistant, on a trip to Vegas in a stolen van, learning their act as they go. Mr F Arkin completely steals the movie, with his broken English and lines like, "I had a run-in with guys like these in the 70s - they almost killed me to death," and the way-too-hard-to-explain here, "You want to eat? Talk tits!" It's fun. Milo is fun. But don't seek it out if you're looking to watch great magicianship.

8. Burt Kessler - From the 1975 fun western, "Hearts of the West." Jeff Bridges finds himself (it's a long story) in the western movie biz. Burt Kessler is an egomaniacal movie director - actors are so much flotsam and jetsam to him. It's been way too long since I've seen this movie, but I loved Burt, who had a thing for Blythe Danner but of course loses her to Jeff Bridges. The movie is worth seeing, though, for the scene where Mr F Arkin ambulates around in a rolling chair, pulling himself this way and that. That scene is etched in my memory.

9. Harry Roat - From that Audrey Hepburn thriller, "Wait Until Dark." Harry Roat, the master criminal who may be one of the most evil villians to appear onscreen. He also has a haircut that has to be seen to be believed. Poor blind Audrey has the misfortune of having a heroin-filled doll that Mr Roat wants, and wants bad. And he'll stop at nothing to get it. Anyway, Mr A goes through his role as this man of many disguises with relish, completely terrorizing Ms Hepburn and thus making the free world hate his guts. But did I? Not really. I just watched with admiration.

10. Police Captain - From the Mike Myers flick, "So I Married An Axe Murderer." He doesn't even have a name! He doesn't even have a credit! Yes, in this uncredited role, Alan F has 3 scenes and again steals the movie. He plays Anthony LaPaglia's police captain, a "get in touch with your feelings" kind of captain, who answers LaPaglia's long whine about how policework is more Fish than Starsky and Hutch with, "Sounds like somebody needs a hug!" But the second time we see him, he bursts into the room, kicks LaPaglia's feet off the desk, rants at him, threatens him, and pins him against the wall. After Anthony leaves the room, he comes back in to congratulate Mr Police Captain on his efforts. "Really? Was it OK? I liked the first part, but I don't know about the end," he wonders nervously, biting his finger. Then in his final appearance he calls LaPaglia "paisan" and mentions he's going to send his spaghetti-bending butt back to Milan. "I don't have time for this," LaPaglia calls running out. "Was it too much with the ethnic slurs?" the Captain asks. It's wonderful. I need a hug.

Now, it was very difficult for me to stop here. I thought of "The Top 10, No, The Top Dozen, No, The Top 15 Alan F Arkin Roles," but I knew that in the interest of fairness I had to stop at 10. But that doesn't mean I don't have a few roles and performances that were bubbling just under the Top 1o. How could I go without mentioning....

I hated keeping off Murray Abromowitz from "The Slums of Beverly Hills," George Kraft from "Mother Night," Lou Perilli from "Steal Big, Steal Little," and Sam Drebben from "And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself." So I'll mention them anyway. There. Oh, and Rueben Shapiro from "Joshua Then and Now." And Leon Feldhendler from "Escape From Sobibor!" Oh, and Edward Scissorhands's adopted dad and the only nice guy in "Glengarry Glen Ross," and...oh, I'll stop here. There are only so many hours in a day.

And so ends part 1 of my two-part blog. Part 2 shall appear Thursday. That gives you roughly 48 hours to go find all of the above films and give them a watch. Go ahead, I'll wait....

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have Acrowinners! Thanks for playing this week! So, tell me your Car Names.
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie, with her "The Toyota Hiyah, The Dodge Eat-my-dust, and the Subaru Shooter." The Shooter would be a pickup of some sort, I'm sure, and what a friendly car the Hiyah would be.
- Runner-up goes to Flipsycab, with her "The Toyota Hiroshima, The Dodge EXTREME!!!!, and The Subaru Slapteeback." The Hiroshima - how much better does it get than that.
- And this week's winner goes to Mike, with his "The Toyota Humidifier, The Dodge Erotica, and The Subaru Seizure." I'd ride in the Humidifier, I think. And I might take to calling the podmobile the Seizure from now on.
- You all had excellent cars, and did very well! Thanks again!

Monday, January 30, 2006


Hello, you Monday lovers of all things lettery. You happy, dwindling few, you band of brothers. And welcome to another put-your-hands-over-your-eyes-to-shield-yourself-from-the-raw-excitement round of acromania.

Well. We have something a little different for you tonight. I figure if acro's going to die, at least I'm going to send it out in a blaze of glory.

See, Friday night Mr M was down at The Pod. And sort of kind of out of the blue, he announced that there needed to be a car called the Nissan Exfoliator. Which is true, there should be. But you know us. We can't just let anything be a good one-off idea, we had to take it to extremes, and so we came up with a list of other cars that are dying to be manufactured. And they are:

Nissan Exfoliator
Toyota Landslide
Ford Erosion
Dodge Dementia
Volkswagen Pollen
Mercury Premonition
Peugeot Cul de Sac
Hyundai Belch
Chevrolet Kumquat
Mitsubishi Oregano
Honda Fissure
Isuzu Infant
Buick Evangelist
Kia Agent
Subaru Treadwell (good for taking out to live with grizzlies)

And the list is endless. Or I hope it is, anyway, because that's what this week's acro is all about. I'm going to give you three car makers, and three letters. And it will be up to you to give those cars a name with your appointed letter. So I guess the easy name for the acro would be "Car Names."

Now, here's where we deviate a bit from the rules. Everyone has their three entries, but ye shall be judged on all three as a group. Whoever has the best grouping of car names will be named the winner. I guess the other rules are the same, blah blah blah, randomly drawn from the acrobasket, who doesn't have a driver's license and gets carsick anyway, blah blah blah, judging begins at 10pm est tomorrow night, blah blah blah, winners will get a car named in their honor and losers will get run over by a car, possibly with me driving, blah blah blah.

So this week's topic is "Car Names." The letters:

The Toyota H
The Dodge E
The Subaru S

So there you go. Get in your autos for inspiration, if you need, but get in there and make me proud with an acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Remember that big two-part blog I promised for this week? I haven't started it yet. I'm so good.
* However, the Winter Olympics are soon upon us. If I end up not watching much of them, I'm going to make up Olympic news stories, just for the hell of it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, Sundayers. Welcome to another scintillating edition of Picture Sunday.

This was an odd weekend for me. Best described? Boring. Boring! No trip to B'burg this weekend, therefore yesterday was a day of basically doing nothing at all. And I made a very startling discovery. I seemed to have reached the end of the internet. I've been everywhere there is to go. Nothing else to see, ma'am, so move along.

Then today I slept late, had a little coffee, and made that trip we all hate making, the grocery. Just needed a few things, so it wasn't the worst trip in the world, and I decided to take the long way round town to get there, and took my trusty camera along. And so I got a couple of pictures for you from around the old burg.

The first is from a long-defunct school in B'field, on the West Virginia side. Shame, really, because it's such a nice building it's sad no one can find anything to do with it, save for letting it sit there on the hill, like the big monolith it's become, with broken windows and graffiti covering it.

Now, I've always liked this building for one reason - it's a school, and right there on the building it has - scholars! Yes, a very smart boy and girl, standing there as beacons of learning to all who entered. As you can see there, they're right at the top of the school, as if to say, "Hey, look at us, here hanging on the top of this school. Aren't we smart?" Now they're just, well, lonely.

Wonder how tall that boy and girl are in real life? My guess would be about five feet, but I'm horrible at estimating such things, so I wouldn't even try.

Now, while speaking of defunct things, let's just talk about B'field on the West Virginia side in general. The whole city is defunct. There is no downtown area anymore. It used to just bubble and bustle, was full of stores and banks and people and activity. Now it's dead. It used to be run by the coal and railroad business, and when the coal business went bust it took the railroad with it, and, well, to put it succinctly, *pbbbbt*. The whole thing slowly collapsed like a flan in a cupboard, as Eddie Izzard says.

Anyway, I went down by the railroad and decided to take a picture anyway. I like the railroad, you know. I like trains. Always have. This photo was taken from the Grant Street Bridge.

Now, our next photo is of a decidely experimental nature. See, Sherman was working on a project. Peabody was having him do an experiment on cause and effect, so little S came up with an idea that he would play music, and I would do something while he was playing music. I would be the effect of his cause. He originally was going to play the clarinet, but he became quite scared that my effect would be to take a knife and rip his little cloth body to pieces. And so he chose to play his new electric guitar for me instead. And so I began to draw as he played.

After the playing was over, Sherman looked at my drawing and decided he liked the results so much that he wanted to jump right into it. And so I invited him on in, and he's decided that when he releases his album of Rock Guitar Classics, that this may well be the cover. And for Sherman, it answers the question "Are you experienced?" with a resounding "yes."

And on to this week's recipe du jour. For some unknown reason, it's called Turkey with Noodles.

Now, I'm wondering exactly why this is called Turkey with Noodles, because I'm seeing a distinct lack of both turkey and noodles in this particular dish. I prefer to call it Brown and Yellow Stuff with Red Monster Blobs. There are monsters in this dish! Sure, The Card says tomatoes, but those are Red Monster Blobs, plain and simple.

Anyway, it's a big heaping bowl of crap, and that's not all - we get what may be the worst idea in the history of food, a molded Waldorf Salad (I'm sure they meant molded as in "stuck together," although I tend to think of it as "full of mold"), and while we get to see some way-too-fluffy cornbread on the table, The Card doesn't mention cornbread and says we must also have buttered peas and pumpkin pie. Give me the pie, and I'll go eat it in front of the TV, away from the rest of this. Those Red Monster Blobs are scaring me, frankly.

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Hey, did I mention that my idol Alan F's little movie wowed Sundance this past week? Didn't win any awards, of course, but audiences apparently loved it and it sold for a large amount to a major studio. Wanna see a couple of clips from it? Of course you do! Go here, and you can see two.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Knew It Would Happen or Into One's Life, Some Nervous William Will Fall

Only a few of you knew about this. I didn't blog about it, or make any big announcements.

Over the holidays, Nervous William's mother died. My mom called me on New Year's Eve and told me. At the time, NW was confined, and hadn't been told yet. Which I understand. I envision that scene - doctors and family members out the hall, drawing straws to see who got the job.

Now, this was a distressing thing for me. For several reasons, first of which was that his mom was a really lovely person, even if she did convince me to stay in contact with him during his confinements, especially that big one after the first blow-up, which negated the getting him the hell out of my life. But I guess that was her love and my weakness, so I don't really hold that against her. Also, it was an event I'd dreaded for years. I knew the day would come when she would pass, and I wondered what in the hell would happen to William. I had ideas, of his basically becoming a crazy street person. And finally, I knew it would be his opportunity to try and work his way back into the mainstream of my life from the peripherals, and I'd have to say all the things to him I dreaded but knew would be necessary.

I agonized about going to the funeral. It would be uncomfortable, if in fact NW would even appear, and my showing up there I knew would be the opportunity he'd be looking for; if I showed up, that meant I was his best friend and all would be well between us. Normally I'd skip it without a second thought, but there were other family members, NW's sister and aunt, who I know and think a great deal of, and I felt bad about not making an appearance. When the night came, though, I gave it a pass.

But I heard about it, from friends. Apparently, it wasn't good. NW was, I was told, "a time bomb waiting to explode at any moment," and he'd caused a scene at the funeral when he told off the minister and stormed out, not to return.

Two Fridays ago, this would be Friday the 13th, oddly enough, I was getting ready to leave the office. It was 4:58, and I was taking my computer down and anticipating a Friday Chill, though a delayed one, because my sister and I had to make our own family wake appearance, for a great aunt. The phone rang, and when San answered it, she buzzed me back in my office. "William," she said.

"Jesus Christ," I replied.

I took the call, and again NW started the conversation about needing an umbrella for all the salt in his life. He uses that expression a lot. He asked if I was free, and I said, "No." I told him about the wake. Then he asked about my being free over the weekend, and I said, "No" again, that I was never home on the weekend. He told me he really wanted to see me. He told me he wanted me to call him, that he really needed to talk. "I'll try," I answered, and shuffled him off the phone in short order. But I knew it was the beginning of that gift that keeps on giving - William.

I spent most of that same Friday evening doing some serious thinking. And talking to myself. About not letting NW back into my life. I don't want him there, I don't need him there, and I can't let him be there. And so I started composing my speech.

I thought of all the things he needed to hear, the things that I needed to say. And I got my speech down pretty good. And as the days passed, I kept practicing it, telling myself that it didn't matter what expression came over his face, or what turns his emotions took, or whatever. Hopefully, I'd get to do it over the phone, which I knew would be easier, but I had to be prepared either way.

And my speech was brilliant. I can repeat it here word for word for you, if you like.

Last week, William came by the office twice, and called once. I was with someone or on the phone both times. He said he'd try again later. Then Tuesday, when I was at a meeting, he called once and came in once. The nerves started building - I started feeling like Gary Cooper in "High Noon." All that was missing was someone behind me singing "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'." And something Mr M said to me about this anxiety finally got through to me (advice from Mr M got through??), and I decided that tearing myself up over the waiting was useless. I'd be happy when he wasn't around, and when he finally showed up, I'd be prepared.

He showed up this morning. And to make a very long story very short, I wasn't prepared.

I was prepared at first. Oh, yeah. When I saw him coming, I took a deep breath and steeled myself, remembering all the important passages of The Speech. But then when he came in, he was, well - God, he was William.

He'd started talking before he even got to my office. And what he was talking about I couldn't even tell you. It was some manic rant about his wanting me to audition for him, because he needed backup singers for a band he was starting that had something to do with cell phones. Finally, after he died down and kept looking at me, I threw up my hands, which were by this time shaking, and said, "William, you've lost me. No idea what you're saying."

He laughed and sat down, and I honestly felt like I was going to cry and smother at the same time. He told me I looked beautiful, like a neo-classical French painting. Like an unfinished neo-classical French painting. Don't even ask - I didn't. And I hoped that an eye roll might be a hint, but it wasn't, or maybe it was, because he didn't stay long after that. Well, he didn't stay long in my office. He then walked up to the boss's office (we were the only two there), and started spouting off a bunch of gibberish to her. A bunch of lies (remember - when he's off the beam he lies like crazy) about sitting in a Van Der Rowe chair in some museum and the alarm going off, then walking across some carpet in the Dali museum and the alarm going off.

At this point, I knew if I didn't remove myself from this scene I would die immediately, so I got up and walked off. I went back to the back office and began making coffee, just to have something to do to busy my hands. I guess he left as I was off filling the coffee pot, because he was gone when I came back. And the boss came back to me as white as a sheet. I started to tear up. "You understand? Do you please understand why I couldn't talk to him?" I pleaded, begging for some sort of acceptance for my failure, since I couldn't quite accept it my own self.

And she finished what I was about to say. "How do you have some sort of meaningful conversation with someone who's obviously on another planet?" I mean, my speech may have been meaningful, and blunt, but it was in English, or at least as close as I get to English, and when he's like this I honestly don't know if he understands English, much less something of common sense. And so my speech is still left unspoken.

Am I that afraid of confrontation? Or am I, in fact, actually afraid of him? I've been thinking about that a lot following my reaction to this morning's visit.

"William, I know you're going through a bad time right now. But you have to have noticed that for about the past 4 years there's been a distinct distance between us, and it's there because I put it there. And no matter what you're going through, I have no intention of getting rid of it. You come into my life and bring all this upheaval that I neither want nor need. So no, I won't call you, or go to dinner with you, or go out with you, or go visit you at your house. Under any circumstances. Ever."

See? I can repeat it for you word for word. I just don't seem to be able to repeat it for him.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Stay tuned for upcoming blogs. The two-parter I've been mulling over for about 3 months now should finally appear. I hope.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Rowwwrrr! Rowwwwwrrrrr!

Well, I figure that's as good a place to start as any.

Saturday, Mr M and I watched a movie. Boy, was it. It was the documentary "Grizzly Man," written and directed by Werner Herzog, he of that 2-star classic "Aguirre, The Wrath of God," and the film "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," which has no stars because I've never seen it, although I must admit I'd like to because it's a film wherein Werner Herzog eats his shoe. Boiled, if I'm not mistaken, but then again, I've never seen it.

"Grizzly Man" tells the story of one Timothy Treadwell, a man - I think - who made it his mission in life to save the Alaskan grizzly bears by going to live with them. And after 13 or so years of doing this, one eats him. And his girlfriend. And probably a lot of their equipment, too, but not their video camera, because it's on while the feast is taking place. The lenscap shields us from the action, but apparently there's sound galore of the eating.

Now, as I've said, I have no idea where to start in telling you the story of "Grizzly Man." I should probably start by telling you that Timothy Treadwell was, I think the psychological term for it is, fucking nuts. I mean, you'll get the idea as the story progresses that he was actually fucking nuts, but I figure I'll just cut to the chase and let you know right now. The man was fucking nuts.

The short history of our Timothy is that he was a weird kid who wanted to be an actor, went to California, rumor had it he was next in line behind Woody Harrelson for that job on "Cheers," he never recovered from not getting it, and so he drank himself into one breath shy of death. And when he woke up from his drunken stupor he had a vision that he must save the grizzly bears by going to Alaska and living with them and letting one of them eat him and his girlfriend. And it may sound like I'm joking on this one, but I don't think I am.

So, he starts going to Alaska every summer and living with grizzly bears. He takes his trusty video camera along, and films the bears. To a certain extent. Mainly what he films is himself. This man loves filming himself. He loves talking to himself. He may like doing other things to himself as well, but if he does, we don't see it on camera. But that's about all we don't see.

Timothy has blonde hair worn in a boyish style, way too boyish for his advanced years, a very feminine voice, and a manner not unlike that of Mr Rogers. Think of Mr Rogers' creepier son, the one he and Mrs Rogers never introduced at parties, and you might have a little of the Timothy Treadwell gist. And Timothy loves the bears. He does love those bears a great deal. We know this because, along with living with them and letting them eat him, he tells them he loves them. "I love you! I love you! Hello, pretty bear! I love you!" he is often heard to say.

He also loves the foxes who take up residence with him, and we know this because he tells them he loves them, too. "I love you! I love you! Hello, pretty foxes! I love you!" he is also often heard to say, at least until one of them steals his baseball cap and takes it into its den, and Timothy goes absolutely fucking ballistic. Which lets you know that the man could possibly be fucking nuts, although we already know way before the hat theft that this is so.

But I may be skipping ahead here. Let's see if I can go at all this from another angle. The movie. The movie is interesting, and is interesting in two ways. First of all, it's interesting because we watch Timothy in the wilds, touching grizzly bears and telling them he loves them, and we know the man is fucking nuts, and let's face it, sometimes watching a man who's fucking nuts is quite interesting. But then it's also interesting, because this story, about this man who by about 10 minutes into things we're already sick of and can't wait for him to get eaten, this story is filmed with such love and admiration by Werner Herzog it's, well, interesting. I have a hard time believing that Werner doesn't think Treadwell is fucking nuts, but even if he does, he seems to think Treadwell is still the greatest thing since sliced cheese. Individually wrapped. And so then we start worrying about the sanity of Mr Herzog, but then again, when a man eats his shoe you probably should have been worrying anyway.

See, I think the deal here is that Werner actually thinks that Treadwell has gone into the wilds to save the grizzly bears. And so we get clips of Treadwell supporters swearing oaths of love, and shots of Treadwell going into schools to tell kids about the grizzlies, and yes, shots of the bears themselves doing things like swimming, walking, looking around like they're waiting for a bus, and fighting. It's during one of these fighting scenes that we see a bear defecate with great gusto, and this excites Treadwell to no end. Because, as we find out, Treadwell seems to love bear poop. After the fight, he goes and sits in the bear poop. There's also a scene where he has a 10-minute on-camera orgasm over finding a pile of bear poop. "It was once inside the bear! It was just inside her, and now it's here!" he says, touching the poop. "Look at this poop - it's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." Which I'm sure made his girlfriend feel wonderful. Well, I don't know - if she was there with this man, she was probably as nuts as he was.

But here's my theory on the whole Treadwell Going To Alaska Thing. The man was nuts! And also a raving egomaniac, and he latched onto a cause to try to fashion himself into some sort of superstar/martyr/conversation piece at cocktail parties and water coolers by doing what he did. He was also, being fucking nuts, of course, very paranoid, prone to emotional outbursts at the drop of a hat (or the theft of one), and he was also something of a friggin' liar, because the whole time he was there with his girlfriend, he did on-camera sililoquies about how hard it was to be in the wilds of Alaska all alone, feeling like he was the only man on earth. So in other words, it didn't matter at all about the grizzlies. It could have been the whales, where I guess he'd have eventually drowned, or some overseas political conflict, where he'd have been shot, or the plight of the old person, where he'd certainly have been caned to death, because, believe me, those old people wouldn't have put up with him for more than about fifteen minutes, thus making for a very short documentary indeed. In the end, the cause wasn't about anything at all except Treadwell himself.

And as he goes to Alaska, year after year, it becomes more and more about him, and we see his complete emotional breakdown, which wasn't that far of a fall, and there's no doubt in my mind that the bear didn't actually kill him so much as he killed himself. He wanted a bear to eventually eat him to promote him into the realms of lore, where people like Werner Herzog would put down their shoes to travel out and make a movie about him. And when His Time comes, the only thing sad about it, besides the fact that if he wasn't so fucking nuts he'd still be alive, is that he chose to drag some young, misguided snip of a girl along with him for the ride.

Throughout the movie we see interviews with Treadwell's ex-girlfriend and still closest ally, who by all rights should have been on the mountain with him instead of the other girl for dinner, who also thinks Treadwell was the greatest thing since individually wrapped sliced cheese, and owns the video camera on which the sound of the eating exists. She's never listened to it. But Herzog does. In a gripping - or is that griping - scene, we see Herzog, with headphones, listen for a while, then admonish the ex with, "You must never listen to this! Promise me you will never listen to this tape!" delivered in a style only a man who eats his shoe can deliver, and she promises she will in fact keep that promise to Werner, in a dramatic fashion. We also see the ex getting the last of Treadwell's effects, the watch he was wearing when his unattached arm was found at the campsite. She puts it on, smiling, marveling that it still works. Which, if that's not a commercial endorsement waiting to happen I don't know what is, but I found myself being amazed that the watch still worked too, because I kept thinking that after the police held it all that time, surely its battery must have run dead. But that's just how my mind works, I guess.

And speaking of dramatic fashions, the movie is well worth a rent, well, even if you don't find watching a man who is fucking nuts and sits in bear poop interesting, for the "performance" of the coroner who picked through what bits were left of Treadwell and the girl. A nicer description of a bear eating a man I'm not sure I've ever heard, and I know this man had to be the lead in every local theater production whatever town he lives in puts on every summer, because he delivers his autopsy reports with a flair not seen since Olivier. He emotes, he pauses, he moves his arms for effect. I can't wait till the next documentary where someone is befallen by a nasty fate - I hope right at the crime scene they have the body shipped to this man for investigation.

And then....

Well, and then there's that stuff I'm probably going to hell for.

OK, I mean, let's face it, any or all of the above could probably send me there, but I can't help it. Sometimes you have to laugh at a man who's fucking nuts and gets eaten by a bear. And I laughed. And Mr M laughed as well, probably even more than I did, because he's an atheist and therefore doesn't care if he goes to hell or not because he doesn't think there's one anyway. And it's bad enough to laugh at a man who got eaten by a bear, but you know, in the final analysis, since I truly believe he wanted to get eaten by a bear, I honestly don't feel that bad about it.

However, I do feel a little bad about the other things we laughed at. Mainly at the fact that Treadwell, who did a long sililoquy about how he's always being mistaken for gay but was sooo not gay, was obviously gayer than a Strauss waltz, played on the oboe in the middle of France. OK, so he had two women who claimed to be his girlfriend, well, one did, the other can't really account for herself because she was eaten for lunch. But if this man's not gay he's missed the world's greatest opportunity.

In fact, another thing we laughed at that will have us sipping sludgewater in hell was the fact that Treadwell was obviously an animal lover right from the get-go, as evidenced by the fact that when he was growing up his best friend was a squirrel he'd caught named Willie. And then, as Treadwell's mother (who I really did feel sorry for, no joking there) was holding the teddy bear Timothy carried around with him and took to Alaska with him and filmed himself having a conversation with, she told us all about his first job as a young teen. Working at Nick's Pansy Farm. Now, I know. I know, but I just couldn't help it.

Or maybe I could. I don't know. It's just so hard to have any sympathy for someone like Timothy Treadwell. And I guess I should, because I know the world of mental illness is not the happiest of places, but perhaps the saddest thing of all is that Mr M and I seemed to be the only people who even noticed the man was fucking nuts. I honestly don't recall a single interviewee, amongst Treadwell's friends or foes, saying, "Hey, I liked him, but the man needed some lithium." They all seemed to think he was either a hero or a man trying to be a hero who knew nothing about the grizzlies he was trying to save.

And you know, in the end, he didn't. He knew their names, because he'd named them, just like Willie the Squirrel, but he didn't know anything about them. He just looked at them. And he didn't do a bit of good for them. Except, I guess, keeping one from going hungry. And the final irony in the whole story is that not only did he go to live with these grizzly bears, one of whom would end up eating him, but that the one who did eat him was shot dead. And Treadwell and his girl were then fished out of the bear's stomach, barely digested.

So he didn't even get to become the bear poop he loved so much. But he got a movie made all about him, which would have made him infinitely happier in the long run.

(* A post-script to this - Mr M swears that somewhere in that movie, someone - perhaps the pilot they interviewed - did indeed say that Treadwell was fucking nuts. I still do not remember this, and am not willing to give in. And one thing's for sure - I'm not watching the whole movie again to find out. If any of you watch it, you can let me know.)

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have, well, almost acrowinners. Only two participants this week, I'll take it that the X scared everyone away, but if you're tired of acro, let me know. I don't have to do it, you know....
- Runner-up goes to Michelle, with her "Eager x-linked fissure metastisized abnormally." Wow - that was scientific!
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her "Eek! Xerxes fondled my anatomy!" That's entirely possible.
- And by the way, Lilster, the Cipro is for the infection. The yellow pills are for the pain.
- Anyway, thanks to all who played. All two of you.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Hello, acroers, acroites, acroees, and acrophobes, and you know who you are. Welcome to that wonder of Monday called acromania.

Ahhhh. My skin. Yes, I'm always on about my skin, it's too dry, too oily, too wrinkled, too something. But guess what it's been lately? Too yellow. Yes, three times now in the last three weeks, I've awoken from sleep and noticed yellow patches on my skin. Once on my thumb, once on my forearm, and, in an alarming turn of events, just yesterday, all over all my fingers. Now, it's not jaundice, because it eventually comes off, after something upwards of 100 washings. But it's quite disconcerting, and while I have a very very small inkling of what might be causing it, I really have no idea. So why don't you tell me. This week's acrotopic is "Why does Bet have yellow skin?"

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 is brown, has always been brown, and will not tolerate any changes of color in his wicker. Then at 10pm est tomorrow night I'll be reading over the entries and naming the winners, who will spend next week with the golden glow of victory, while the losers will be given the task of washing my skin the 100 requisite times to get it back to its normal color.

So the topic, "Why does Bet have yellow skin?" The letters:


Ick. I think I shook the basket too hard. But no mind - just go acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the way, I'm blaming the culprit on a stray urinary tract infection pill that may have found its way into my cosmetic bag or some other place, and is coming in contact with my skin. I mean, the stuff makes you pee orange, it can't do much for your skin.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, End Of Weekenders. Time for another brief Picture Sunday.

It was a pretty slow weekend. Sometimes a slow weekend is good. Had a Friday Chill, complete with coffee and movie, then hung around the Poderosa most of Saturday before heading out to B'burg.

Once there it was clarinet duets for a while, then nachos and movies. Actually it was movie, nachos, and movie.

Then today it was some more clarinetting, another movie (this one at the theater), and then dinner and home.

Please. Try not to faint.

Only one picture tonight, and it's from my little red-headed boy. He wanted to show you all the present Peabody gave him this week - an Etch-a-Sketch. Here he is taking a rest in my clarinet case after drawing a picture of his dad...

If you'll look very closely, and especially if you have a magnifying glass, you'll see that that actually is a picture of Peabody he's drawn.

And that's it for pictures. I had plans, big plans, but I forgot to tote my camera along with me when I went into B'burg for the movie today. I'm a bad person. I'll let you down, given the chance. I'm not the guy to run with. I'll break you and destroy you. I'm King Midas in reverse. Oh, sorry. I started living out a Hollies song there for a minute.

Anyone still holding onto those "I'm gonna lose weight" resolutions from New Year's? Well, I certainly hope so, because tonight's recipe du jour is from the old "Weight Control" file in Cardland. And it's - Baked Eggplant a la Grecque.

It's Eggplant Boats! It's Crap Thrown Into An Eggplant And Plopped Down Onto Some Green Stuff! It's Yellow! It's Grecque! Grecque? What exactly is Grecque, anyway, and how special does one have to be to stop being Greek and become Grecque? That's what I wanna know. I also wanna know what's in this thing.

OK, we've got lamb. Onion. Green pepper. Pimiento. And everyone's favorite, monosodium glutamate. You know, just last night when Mr M asked what I wanted for dinner, I remember replying, "I don't care, as long as there's monosodium glutamate in it."

So anyway, you throw all that crap into an eggplant, plop it on something green, fancy up some fruit, and you've got a dinner that your family will love you for forever. Or at least until they start rummaging around for the cookies, which will probably be about 4 minutes after dinner. So much for weight control.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Mr M and I watched what may be one of the weirder documentaries of the last, oh, 50 or so years, "Grizzly Man." I may blog about it if I can find out where exactly to start, but it did prove one thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. Bears do in fact shit in the woods.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Happy Birthday

Taylor, Taytie, TayMac, DJTaytieMac, Tayter Tot, Taybird...

My dear nephew turned 17 today. My, how time flies.

He's now into snowboarding big-time. And music, still, still hammering away with the Stetsons, and in the band, and running cross-country, and trying very hard to live up to all the pressures his parents put on him.

He also, a few weeks ago, wanted me to check out his "MySpace" site. And not mention to his parents he has one. Nothing the least bit offensive on it, but I think he just needs that private space away. I'll quote his description of himself from the page:

About me:
Junior at GHS, love taking bubble baths and long walks on the beach but, uhh. Yeah I play drums,guitar,baseball,and run cross country, and I love music and I never really get too worked up over anything..just gotta go with the flow....

And that about sums him up. He goes with the flow.

Taylor, Taytie, Tay, Tay-Tay, Taybird, whatever his nickname from whoever knows him, he's still the same great kid. Happy Birthday, little TaytieMac.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Finally finished the "Up" movie series tonight. Had no idea that I actually had not seen the last two. I just thought I hadn't seen the last one. And by the way, where was Peter? He just disappeared at 35 and was never heard from (or mentioned) again. Hope he didn't die. Not that he was that interesting anyway....

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Oy, The Pressure

You know, Tuesdays are a funny thing. Tuesdays are the one day I feel like I have to blog. This is because of Acrowinners. I have to have an Olympic Update to name the acrowinners, ergo I have to have a blog to stick an Olympic Update at the bottom of. If I'm allowed to end a sentence with a preposition, as I do, because I see nothing wrong with it. Take that, linguists.

And so, normally the pressure starts around Tuesday morning. I spend the morning at work, and sometimes into the afternoon, thinking about a good blog topic, and then when I'm back home at the end of the day I let fly with whatever latched onto my brain and wouldn't let go. Sometimes the idea works, sometimes it doesn't.

We were, after being closed yesterday, very busy today at TheCompanyIWorkFor. During lunch I paid bills, and, well, I just didn't come up with a single blog topic. Oh, Mike? Calling Dr Blog Topic!

Anyway, it's Tuesday, and I just don't have a single intelligent thought in my brain. So I thought I'd just tell you a little story. It's not exciting, it's not really much of anything, just something I figured I could type about.

I did something for my dad for Christmas. I had him a gift, but wasn't really that wowed with it, and wanted to do a little something extra. My dad, who as you know is pretty much sightless at this point in his life, used to love to read. And now he listens to the occasional book on tape.

Now, for years and years my dad has thought of my spending so much time at the old computer as, well, not to put too fine a point on it, loafing. Chatting, surfing, goofing off - well, he thought it was all time much better spent somewhere else.

Until about 3 years ago, when I read him one of my blogs. (I'm still not sure he understands blogs, btw. He just goes with it.) It was my blog about my favorite radio station of all time, WMMT. The look on his face when I read this blog was priceless. It may have been the first time I felt like my dad was actually proud of me. Validation from the old man. Later on I read him one of the blogs I ended up reading on the radio, the one about the old restaurant that was our family haunt for years. I got compliments.

So, I came up with a half-baked idea for Christmas that I figured could either be brilliant or the lamest idea I've ever had. And that was to make him a book on tape, of some of my blogs. A blog on tape. I checked the idea with a couple of people, just to see if it wasn't the lamest idea I've ever had, and got two positive responses. So the Friday before Christmas, I got out my tape recorder and a bunch of blogs, and had at it. I ended up with about 3 hours worth of stuff, and I bundled it up into a present and put it under the tree.

I put the WMMT blog on it, and its sequel, the How To Speak Bet blog, some work-related stuff, the "Burned and Broken" story (which I was sure my folks would hate me forever for writing), the two blogs about my grandmothers, the three-part "Mr M and I Making Each Other Laugh," (including my review of "Robinson Crusoe on Mars"), and then some incredibly silly stuff. Mr M made a guest appearance, and we ended everything up with the PeekABoo blog.

When my dad opened his gift on Christmas morning and I read the letter I'd included with it, about how I knew I was the one in our family who never really talked, and how maybe this would give him some insight into what goes on in my head as well as giving him a chance to hear my voice now and then when he's down in Florida (where he is now), well, he cried. He cried and thanked me. I didn't know - was he incredibly touched, or was this is the lamest idea I'd ever had? I wouldn't know, at least till this weekend.

Mom called me on Sunday, to say hello, and put Dad on the phone. He told me he'd just finished listening to the last of my tapes, and how much he'd enjoyed them. He laughed at the radio blogs, which he said I should read "on the stage or something." (The Stage? I told him Vaudeville had been dead many years.) He said he and mom had cried over the grandmothers blogs, and they were especially chuffed at the PeekABoo, which was good, as we'd had to censor ourselves of the "Jesus Christ"s and "goddammit"s on the spot as we were taping. (My folks are quite fond of Mr M, btw. I'm sure they enjoyed his ranting and raving at me on tape.)

So, I guess it worked. And that was good. All you bloggers remember that next Christmas when you're stuck for gift ideas.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And now it is that very bewitching time of night. Yes, we have Acrowinners.
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie, with her "Toothbrush. Incredibly Enjoyable Windup Animal. Amusing."
- Runner-up goes to LilyG, with her "Tired, I expel wilted apples, asparagus."
- And this week's winner is Flipsycab, with her "Taking inventory eventually warrants an analysis." It's so true....
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!

Monday, January 16, 2006


Hello, Monday Letter People.

Tiring day in Betland, though not a bad one. TheCompanyIWorkFor was closed for MLK Day, though we still had to go to work. It was Inventory Day for us, so I spent the entire day in my office, tearing things up and throwing them away, then putting what was left back where it was supposed to be. I think. I'm sure tomorrow I'll realize I threw away at least one thing I desperately need.

So, it was Inventory Day for me today. Taking stock. I'm sure there's a way to turn that into an acrotopic. How about, oh, say, "Inventory Day." You're in your office, or kitchen, or bedroom, or car. Give me a little inventory of what you're taking stock of.

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 are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket took a little stock today, too. He's missing two "A"s and an "E." Which is perfectly fine with me, because there are too many of those anyway. He's a little irked, though. He likes his letters. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who'll receive - the 12 Hefty-sized garbage bags of everything I threw away today. The non-winners will get to look for whatever it was I threw away today that I'll desperately need tomorrow.

So the topic, "Inventory Day." The letters:


See? Es and As. But forget all that, and acro, acro, acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Hey, I saw a great commercial today! On BBCAmerica, of course. Remember a month or so ago when I saw the commercial about the device that shocks doggies into staying away from things, like the furniture? This one was for "Doggy Steps," a little carpeted set of stairs that actually helps your doggie get onto the furniture! Onto the couch, chair, bed, wherever he wants to go, he just climbs those little stairs and voila. Now, there's a product.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello to all, and welcome the recently absented but now back and badder than ever Picture Sunday.

Well, I just got finished cleaning my kitchen. See, Mr M was down today. He said yesterday, "I'll just come to your house. Can we have meat loaf?" And of course, I said yes, and asked if he'd prefer mashed potatoes or a vegetable, and he said, "Both." And of course again, I was glad to oblige, because, well, I figure if a person wants a home-cooked meal from me, then he must be a man in some dire straits gastronomically.

And yes, I did eat way more meat loaf than I should have, but I'm trying to forget about that, and I just finished cleaning up all the dishes and mopping the floor. And now I'm here to attend to my other little buds, the ones who like pictures once a week.

Since I found myself without a trip to make yesterday, and it was snowy, cold, and extremely windy and nasty out, I stayed in the whole blessed blissful day. One of the things I set my mind to doing was to finish sharpening my big colored pencil set, the one I got for Christmas and began sharpening on New Year's Eve. I finally finished, then of course I had to try them all out. So I decided to make a big 120-square doodle in which I could use each color. And it looks just a little something like this....

Now, there's a great set of colored pencils at work.

You know, I have a funny kind of thing going on in my backyard. Well, it's funny to me, anyway.

When I moved into the Poderosa lo those many years ago, I had, in my backyard, a clothesline. I never used it, I hate the feel of fresh-air-dried clothing, and so it languished there, a lonely monument to a different time.

This past summer when Mowing Dad was mowing one day, he came to my door - he actually knocked, unlike his son Mowing Boy - and asked if he could do something. He asked if he could cut the wires on the clothesline for some reason (maybe his head kept getting tangled up in them, I don't remember - he is quite tall), and since I don't use it and never will, I said, "Sure." And so he did.

But now, every time I go to my kitchen sink and look out my window, I see the two poles there, not connected by wires, just two wooden crosses facing each other in a menacing manner. "Damn, those crosses look like they're ready to have a duel. Ten paces apart and they've just faced each other for the big showdown." So I thought I'd let you look.

I keep wondering what these crosses might have against each other to make them settle their differences with a duel, and the only thing I can come up with is rather distasteful and sacreligious, so I'll just keep it to myself. Oh, hell, no I won't. "I get to hold Jesus!" "No, I get to hold Jesus!" "That settles it, ten paces with pistols - draw!"

Or maybe not. Maybe they've never liked each other. Maybe they've been waiting for the day each was untethered from the other so they could fight to the death.

Anyway, how about a recipe du jour? Well, how about something of a non-recipe du jour. Because, yes, it's time for another series cover card. The big Series 5, With Helpful Guides card.

Well. That's a hunk o' meat. And oddly enough, the back of The Card is all about - how we tend to eat too much meat! Except, of course, men and teenagers, who the recipe people seem to think it's OK to have eating meat like Henry VIII, the big hairy king.

There are a couple of things that I like about this feast. First of all, didn't they take such care and concern to make the taters all pretty by shaving off the middles of their peels. They look like they're wearing halter tops and hip-huggers. And secondly, who the hell cooks cherry tomatoes. I mean, those are cherry tomatoes, aren't they, and they look right charred. Oh, I think that's succotash in the upper right hand corner. It must be a special, special occasion.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I'm listening to my Christmas present from Stennie, the soundtrack to "8 ½." It's so wonderful that at any moment I expect to see Marcello emerging from my living room and walking into the dennette in a towel, with his whip and little hat. I'm expecting that; something tells me it isn't going to happen....

Friday, January 13, 2006

Poor, Poor Bet

Well, there seems to be a new internet game going around. Flipsy told us about it first, then Stennie. They both blogged about it. And as I've often said, I'm nothing if not a follower, and since I had no blogging ideas tonight, I thought I might give it a try.

Apparently, if you go to the Google search engine and type, "Unfortunately, [your name]," you can find out all kinds of fun things about yourself. After reading the above blogs, I thought I'd see what I've been up to.

I typed in "Unfortunately, Bet," and got one entry. "Unfortunately, Bet died in June 1996." Well. That's no fun, and it put a quick end to my game. So I decided to go formal and try, "Unfortunately, Elizabeth," and see what misfortunes might have befallen me.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth also has some detecting to do, as a dead body is found, and none of the wedding party is above suspicion." I mean, which time? That happens to me every time I go to a wedding.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth was also suffering from Christmas-induced narcolepsy." As happens every year, I'm afraid.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth had to leave Boston because she did not have enough students signed up for the new school year." That must be about the time I tried to give those autoharp lessons.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth will not be available by phone." Oh, how I wish.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth was far too parsimonious to realize Ireland could not be held by half measures." Well, screw you. I like Ireland, and I'm not parsimonious. I had to look it up, but I did, and I'm not. So there.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth did not have a phone." I guess that's why I won't be available that way.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth has no artistic talent at all when it comes to painting or drawing." Well, you've seen the doodles, I guess my secret was out long before now.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth makes a fatal mistake and tries to 'fix' her husband Roger." Roger and I divorced shortly after that. Emphasis on "shortly."

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth died on 5/20/1838 on the island." I keep dying. At least I finally went tropical.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth has no memory of what happened to her so they put their heads together to try to discover the truth." We discovered what happened was that I "fixed" Roger.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth should have spent some of her time learning how to write characters people actually care about." Boy, should she have.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth woke up with a stomach problem." So what else is new?

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth just doesn't have any strength of conviction, and it becomes apparent from day one." Well, who didn't know that? From day one?

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth and Sir Thomas failed to produce a male heir." No, that was me and Roger.

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth's friends and family were not supportive of her relationship with Larry." Larry was always misunderstood....

"Unfortunately, Elizabeth stuttered and because of the impediment, she seldom enjoyed social excursions." Which is not to say I didn't go on them. I just didn't enjoy them.

Now, last night in #squeeze when we were playing around with this little feature, Mike, Man of Mystery and Movies, came up with a new little turn. Fortunately! Let's see if I ever get lucky.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth had purchased a standard." A standard what? A standard what??

"Fortunately, Elizabeth didn't have to bear the staggering expense of her wardrobe on her own." Because we all know how owning five pairs of pants and five shirts from Target can burden one.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth found someone she could turn to for help." Yeah. Target.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth's daughter, Patricia, introduced her to a nutritional supplement." No, that's wrong. Patricia is my sister, and she has nothing to do with Orange Crapius.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth did not get a knock on the door by a CACO that day." I have no idea what a CACO is, but it's from a military site, so I doubt I'd want to see the CACO anyway.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth was released from the Tower and became Queen." And I soon recorded "Bohemian Rhapsody."

"Fortunately, Elizabeth signed her donor card and her heart becomes Grace's opportunity." Well, that's not necessarily fortunate for me, now, is it?

"Fortunately, Elizabeth is rescued from a life of sheer non-adventure and nothing-to-do-ness, in her tropical paradise, by the arrival of pirate captain Jack." I hope this is before I die on my island. Oh, Jack - hurry up.

"Fortunately, Elizabeth is now one hundred percent heterosexual and refuses to even look at semi-naked women in fashion magazines." Well, now, let's not be too hasty in that statement....

And unfortunately, Elizabeth, there are no "Fortunately, Bet" entries. I guess it's just not good to be Bet today.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* A-haaaaa!
- "Unfortunately, Mr M suffered long-term sequelae due to his prolonged cortisol excess and was left with several vertabral crush fractures." The excesses of Mr M....
- "Unfortunately, Mr M doesn't prove nearly as interesting." Well, he never did, did he?
- "Unfortunately, Mr M's surgeon removed a brain area which "bundled up" perceptions and symbols of the Total Present Moment." Well, that explains more than I could have ever hoped for.
- "Unfortunately, Mr M dies within 24 hours of his arrival." Yeah. His arrival at the Poderosa for clarinet duets. I guess death comes to us all in the "unfortunately" game.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

D is for Dumb

And I am. About many things, I guess, but I'm finding out I'm dumb about one thing in particular. Medicare Part D.

See, TheCompanyIWorkFor is now selling Medicare Part D (heretofore known as MPD). This is, of course, the big new thing in the Medicare world. Pays for prescriptions. Kind of, anyway. Now, it's at this point that I want to say, why didn't Uncle Sam just decide to include prescriptions into a Medicare Plan, have it be optional, and leave it at that, but I can't really say that, because I know the answer. The answer is we live in a kakistocracy (see Stennie's 1-6-06 trivia entry). In other words, our dear W and his cronies saw fit to take prescription drug coverage and tell Old People it's part of Medicare, but farm it out to Big Corporations, who then farm it out to other corporations (like TheCompanyIWorkFor), thus making these corporations a buttload of money and giving said Old People a buttload of headaches.

And my head hurts too. Mine, and, I'm sure, lots of people across our great land who work for other CompaniesPeopleWorkFor. And here's why my head hurts. Because I don't understand a fucking thing about this MPD I seem to be selling like hotcakes.

See, here's a little how it all went. About mid-year of 2005, we got the word at TheCompanyIWorkFor that were were going to be selling one of the Big Corporation's MPD plans. We were going to have to be schooled in the plan, take an exam to prove we were knowledgeable enough to sell it, then Big Corporation would give us a license, and we could have at it. We heard about this constantly. Memos here, mentions at WeaselFests (TheCompanyIWorkFor meetings) there, emails every few days.

Finally, the time came for our schooling. In October. School consisted of a three-hour class via live remote television. It was two dour Big Corporation Employees going over the ins and outs of the plan. Only that's something of a lie, because it wasn't really that.

Basically, it was two hours and forty-five minutes of these dour hoo-hahs telling us the peripherals of the plan. Like, that we can't market the plan. And that we can't sell it to anyone without giving them a "presentation," which consists of our going through all the details of each type of plan (there are three), and letting the presentee decide which plan would be best for them. And that we can't sell this plan to someone who doesn't, at the end of the presentation, understand all the details and which plan would be right for them. And that the presentee needs to bring a list of prescriptions he or she takes so we can look them all up on the formulary (fancy name for a "drug list") to see if this person's drugs are even going to be covered under the plan. And that the presentee has from November 15, 2005 to May 15 2006 to sign up for the plan.

We were also told, dourly, that if an Old Person (OP) is eligible for MPD and doesn't sign up by May 15, they can't sign up again till the next calendar year, and that every year this OP waits to sign up, they incur a penalty to their MPD premium, of 1% of their premium for every year that OP was eligible that he or she didn't sign up. And that once that OP did sign up, which of course can't be till January 1 of whatever year they decide, then their coverage won't be effective till one month after that.

And they imparted upon us such nuggets that if a person is incompetent, we had still had to have them there, but with their authorized caretaker, and we had to make sure the both of them understood all the ins and outs of the plan. And that if the OP doesn't have an authorized caretaker but is just a senile dottery old coot, well, they didn't explain that, and that's a shame, because I'm sure that's going to happen to me before long.

And then - in the last fifteen minutes of this schooling, the dour faces finally started telling us how the plan actually works. They were a little like John Moschitta of the old Fed Ex commercials, talking so fast no one could understand, and then time ran out and we all went home, scratching our heads.

And at that point I wasn't that worried about it all, because I was sure with that "schooling" I'd never pass the exam and I wouldn't have to sell the damn things anyway. If in fact anyone even wanted them.

But boy, was I wrong.

First of all, I passed the exam with flying colors. Only missed one question. This is basically due to the fact that the "exam" was 20 questions long and all about the ethics and enrollment dates of the plan. In other words, those dour faces weren't there to teach us about MPD, they were there to help us pass the exam. And I was also wrong because OP are scared shitless of this whole MPD phenomenon, and the fact that even though they may take no medicine at all at this point the premium penalty makes it impossible not to sign up immediately, and so they're flocking hither and yon and into my office to sign up for a plan.

The first time someone came in to ask about the plan, I smiled, said hello, and proceeded to develop a massive case of flopsweat. I went and got one of our little presentation booklets, the one we use to make the presentation to the presentee, and hoped for the best.

And I got the best. This woman knew what she wanted, told me, and said let's fill out the enrollment form. And since I hadn't done a presentation for this particular presentee, I at least asked her what drugs she took to see if any were covered. And here's how much I knew about the plan when I sold it - I was telling her her drugs were not covered, because beside their names in the formulary, out from the side of the drug it would say "No." It was only the next day that I discovered that they actually were covered, and the "No" meant there were no limitations on how many of them an OP could get in a month's time. Hope she reads her booklet and finds this out.

After we filled out her enrollment and she left, I went back and picked up another presentation booklet. And I began to read it voraciously.

And you know what? It didn't help much.

One day last week I had what I'd feared I'd have - a client who's a very nice and sweet little old lady who understood nothing about MPD. And so I had to try and explain Big Corporation's MPD to her. Three plans, all with varying degrees of coverage. How the deductible works, and which plans pay her deductible for her. Then how she'll pay $7 for generic drugs, $30 for non-generic drugs, and $60 for non-preferred-plan non-generic drugs. And how, once her drug costs rise above $2250, she pays 100% of her drug costs until she's spent $3600 on covered drugs.

The thing is, I wasn't explaining it to her like I am to you. She would ask a question about any of the above information, and I'd say, "Well, that's..." and immediately pick up one of the five books in the presentation booklet and look up the answer. This sweet little old lady must have thought I was the biggest boob in Boobville. It was a presentation, all right. It was a presentation that would have made a grown man (especially one who works for Big Corporation) cry. She left, smiling, thanking me profusely for answering her many questions, and she had a confused look on her face that made me want to cry.

And I went and got another little presentation booklet to keep at my desk to read voraciously during my spare time. And then someone else came in.

That's the thing! People keep coming in and taking away my little presentation booklets before I get a chance to read them!

The little old lady came back in today and got a Big Corporation MPD. And she's bringing her husband back tomorrow. And the man who took my latest presentation booklet, the one I was studying, is coming back Friday.

Now, there's one thing I forgot to mention. Here we had our schooling, where 98% of the class dwelt upon making sure we gave these presentations and made sure the OP understood everything they were shopping for. And a couple of weeks ago I found out that the very same OP can go to Big Corporation's website and enroll in a plan. Whether they understand it or not. Hell, if they're living or not.

When the little old lady left my office today after we'd filled out her enrollment form, she smiled again and thanked me profusely for helping her out so much. And once she was out of the building I told the boss, "I feel just like Zero Mostel in 'The Producers.' Living off the checks of little old ladies."

Which isn't exactly true. Because see, that's another thing they stressed upon us during the two hours and forty-five minutes of that three-hour class. We get no commissions whatsoever from selling these. We're basically doing it as a "service." Yeah, a service to Big Corporation.

And so, I'm going to continue trying to learn about this MPD I'm selling that I now know just enough about to be dangerous. And hopefully I won't steer any OP the wrong way. And if I do, I figure, what's the worst that can happen? Big Corporation will revoke my license, and I won't have to sell the damn things anymore.

Which is good, because I'm running out of presentation booklets to study at my desk.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what about Picture Sunday. Y'all do know I'll keep Picture Sunday, right? I was just tired of it for a couple of weeks.
- Honorable Mention goes to Flipsy, with her "Displays toys and little things." Emphasis there on the "little."
- Runner-up goes to Kellie, with her "Doodles. Tree and lights. Terrific!" Thank you, thank you.
- And this week's winner is LilyG, with "Drop that annoying little timewaster." About the only thing missing from that acro is an exclamation point. I almost put one in anyway.
- Thanks to all who played!

Monday, January 09, 2006



Well well well well well well well well. Guess who's been remiss in her duties lately.

I seem to have forgotten all about Picture Sunday. It was about 11:58pm last night when I realized I hadn't done my weekend duty, and since I didn't have any pictures anyway, I guess maybe it wasn't such a bad thing. Then I got to thinking that I had no Picture Sunday last week because of the New Year's party.

Then I started wondering if I even care enough to keep Picture Sunday going.

See, I've been, since Friday night, ensconsing myself away, working on a little project. Ensconce, ensconce, ensconce. Hopefully it'll be done in the next day or so, but I just keep thinking that if Picture Sunday is so unimportant to me that I don't even remember it needs to take place..... Well, I don't know. I'm sure I'll never totally abandon Picture Sunday.

But let's let you guys weigh in. This week's Acrotopic is "Why Keep Picture Sunday?" or "Why Dump Picture Sunday?" Take your pick.

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 are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket has only liked Picture Sunday once. When he was in it. Then tomorrow at 10pm est I'll be reading over the entries and naming the winners, who, well, who may get to decide whether or not Picture Sunday continues. The losers have to send me pictures, so I won't be scrounging around at the last minute on Sunday night.

So, the topic: "Why Keep (or Dump) Picture Sunday?" The letters:


Now. Acro. And let me get back to ensconcing.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Do you know that the actual Olympics are a mere month away? I'm going to have to do honest-to-God Olympic Updates!! Aaarrrghh!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

More How To Speak Bet

It happened again today. I channeled the spirit of Mamaw Bowles.

Yes, it was about mid-way through the day, when I'd written the wrong date on something, and I casually turned to my friend and workmate San to tell her such. And I said something offhand about, "It's actually the fifth, isn't it?" and "fifth" turned into "feeuuhfth." And I turned red and she giggled.

And you know, I really shouldn't have turned red, because it is my inalienable right to drag the word "fifth" out just as long as I want to, even if I don't realize I'm doing it when it happens.

After I wrote my blog of 12/8/05, How To Speak Bet, I realized (normally by using them) that there are still some phrases I'm using that people are giving me the stink-eye for. So I thought I'd add them to this sequel blog, this Bill of Rights for the Baker's Dozen of a Decalogue I gave you once before. And I'm perfectly willing to admit here that two of these are even a little obscure for the more "down home" amongst us. I guess they're things my family and circle of friends just say and we know what each other are talking about, even if some in the outside world don't. But this is How To Speak Bet, and remember, I am Bet, and I say these things. But hopefully soon, you'll be saying them too.

Let's get started.

Light Bread - This is a much-used term around here. I heard it all the time growing up. Light bread is your basic white bread, sliced and in a bag, a la Wonder or Sunbeam. This is an opposite to a biscuit or roll, as around here, there's very little mention of other breads such as wheat, rye, pumpernickel, or whatever. "Do we have any biscuits to go with dinner?" "No, but there's light bread, you can have some of that." (By the way, the emphasis in this phrase is on the light. Light bread.)

Eyes - (pronounced however you wish, but around here, it's "ahhs.") Imagine my surprise the day I was going on to Mr M about my eyes and how two of them were out of their little slots, and was met with a stare of total incomprehension. It was only then that I realized that some weird people call the four things on their stoves that the food cooks on "burners." Because around here, they're "eyes," plain and simple. Got it? Good.

If That Don't Beat The Hens A-Peckin' - This is one of your general exclamations on a par with "Well, I'll be a son of a bitch." Let's say a random person has left her keys right on the arm of the Comfy Chair, and goes back five minutes later and they're not there. Then this random person searches her entire house (which could be called something like, oh, say, The Poderosa) for a half-hour and the keys are nowhere to be found. It's at this point that this random person would sit down dejectedly and say, "Well, if that don't beat the hens a-peckin'." And the keys giggle from the cushions of her Comfy Chair.

Swarpin' - This is a degree of drunkenness. I suppose the degree to which this is depends on the drunkard in question, but let's just say it's that degree where you seem to be having a better time than all those in your general vicinity. Not to be confused with the recently mentioned "boo-drunk," which simply means you're too drunk to function. You function quite well when you're swarpin' drunk, though you hope you're not held responsible for whatever functioning you might get up to. "Did you see him last night? My God, he was just swarpin' drunk." (There was actually, a few years ago, a discussion in our local rag, in the section where people ask the local rag's "expert" questions, on the origins of the phrase "swarpin' drunk." No one seemed to know.)

Shoot The Dog - This is the first of the two phrases that are probably only bandied about in my circle of folks, though it's become a phrase amongst me and my nearest and dearest that's accepted as normal. To shoot the dog is to, well, not to be distasteful and upset some of the squeamish assembled, it's to have gas. So named for a poor soul who did in fact have gas while lying on a hotel bed opposite a painting where there was a hunt going on, and the red-jacketed riders were surrounded by hunting dogs. "Oops, I think you shot the dog," a bystander replied, and, well, the phrase is now deep-rooted in our vocabulary. And it's spreading, because, let's face it, it's a great phrase. A perfect example of usage would be my sister, who will kill me if she ever finds out I told this, saying once, "Girls, I believe those jalapenos are gonna make me shoot the dog." And they did.

Bag Glasses - Here's another term I thought everyone used. Bag glasses are just those little bifocal-type reading glasses. But not the expensive kind you get from the doctor, the cheap kind you buy off a rack at a store. "You know, I think bifocals are in my immediate future, but I'm just going to start out with a pair of bag glasses and take it from there."

Ray - A ray is a person completely devoid of any personality, happiness, or even a smile. Shortened from "a ray of sunshine." Overheard at lunch one day a while back: "Boy, that new girl on the morning news sure is a ray, ain't she?"

Squeeze The Owl - This is the second of the phrases that originated with me and those who know me. To squeeze the owl just means to go to the ATM machine. So called because the very first cash machine in our little burg was called "The Owl," and featured a very dapper owl on it in a top hat and spats, not unlike Mr Peanut. So going to the cash machine became simply "squeezing the owl." Now, when one is feeling a little rowdy and is not in the company of young people, one might occasionally say he or she is going to "shit the owl" instead of "squeeze the owl." One might especially say this if one is swarpin' drunk. There is always the fear, though, that if one is especially broke, that one might squeeze the owl and the owl will simply laugh at one.

Hold Your Tater On The Cold End - Being an impatient little podlet, I heard this one more times than I can count when I was growing up. It's the, I guess, country version of "hold your horses." I'm not sure if a tater actually has a cold end, and if it does I guess it was badly baked, but it seems like every time I was in a rush for something and wasn't about to get it anytime soon, I was told to hold my tater on the cold end.

So there you go.

Oh, and may I just mention one more phrase, one that can't be included on the above list because there's only one person I've ever heard who uses this phrase? I don't even use it, but it always makes me giggle.

When my dad is trying to explain that one has to pay for the things one wants in life he occasionally says, "You have to pay a nickel to see a pissant eat a bale of hay." That conjures up such a great picture I'd pay way more than a nickel to see it.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Hey, my quiz is still there for the taking. If you haven't yet, be sure to go here and give me a try.
* There's rule at TheCompanyIWorkFor, by the way. And that rule is, the smellier the person who is in your office, the more that person likes to talk and will therefore smell up your office for a longer period of time. I had my afternoon snack completely ruined today. Oh, and the sub-rule of this is, the smellier a person is and the longer that smelly person stays in your office, the more other people will come in and have to endure the smell and wonder if it's in fact the office staff that's doing the smellying.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Happy Fucking New Year

And yes, I hate to start cursing, right there in my titles, this soon into the year. And it's not even a depressing "Happy Fucking New Year," it just became the watchphrase between Mr M and I over the holiday. OK, wait. Depressing for him, yes. Let's have a few moments of silent thought for Mr M.

See, Mr M went to Cleveland on Thursday. And while that in and of itself should give you all reason enough to have a few moments of silent thought for the man (*ba-DUM-bum!*), that wasn't really the problem. He went to visit his aged aunt, and saw his old clarinet teacher Gus in the bargain, and had a fine time. (Really, I'm very positive on the whole Cleveland thing.)

Friday, on the way back, he called me from the road, as he often does, with a traffic report ("widely scattered cars, with a high pressure truck passing"). He was expecting a 7:30pm arrival in B'burg, where I'd go meet him Saturday and we'd ring in the New Year.

Then he called again, with a report of a different sort - his car was overheating. And he called again. And again. The third time, he was ambling along I-77 at 30 miles an hour. The fourth time, he was pulling off the road to stay, in hopes of having the car fixed Saturday morning.

Then on Saturday, after a Hale and Hearty Farewell, Your Car's Fine, from the shop, things were still not well. Apparently it all started happening again. He called and said he'd be delayed. Then he called and said if it was OK, he'd just come to my house, since it was closer than B'burg. Then he called and said, "Just leave the light on. I don't know when I'll be there, hopefully it'll be in time for the ball to drop, but hang on." Then he finally called and said he was being towed to B'burg, and, well, Happy Fucking New Year.

And so I spent New Year's Eve with a flask of Goldschlager, my new colored pencils, and that douchebag Carson Daly.

And it really wasn't so bad, I said "Rabbit rabbit" at the stroke of midnight, toasted to myself, and was perfectly content, save for the fact that you'd think when one bought a very expensive 120-piece colored pencil set, the pencils would at least be pre-sharpened. I sharpened till about 3am, while watching Looney Tunes, Eddie Izzard, and Sherman and Peabody DVDs. After 3, only about half my pencils were sharpened, so I toasted myself one last time and packed it in.

I finally fell off to sleep around 3:30, then at 7:30, the phone woke me up. I was half expecting the call to be from Mr M, telling me that he and the tow truck driver were stuck somewhere on the wilds of Rt 460, but instead I heard the wonderful accent of my friend Tina, who lives in Ireland. She greeted me with this: "Happy New Year, oh, shit." Yes, in the 17 or so years she's been phoning me, this was the first-ever time she's forgotten about the time difference. That sadly - and happily - made the call very short this year. (Only happily because it let me go back to sleep.)

Needless to say I woke up quite late, and set about the task of getting everything ready (and there was lots to get ready) for my trip to B'burg to see a carless Mr M, and then attend - yes! - the annual New Year's Sauerkraut Band Party.

Now, may I just say that I don't think I've ever had a lovelier time at a party where I spent so much time in the bathroom trying to throw up. It was at Tom's (who had just finished his "busy season," as we all know he is the real Santa), was full of wonderful people, wonderful food, and, and I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you, wonderful liquor. Which was consumed wonderfully (or not) quickly.

I know I've said it here before, but the speed with which the SK Band drinks is quite amazing. I started innocently enough with a beer (oh, once again, just like the "it was hot and I got drunk" party, I made the mistake of going on an empty stomach). And then, two things happened. First of all, I broke the "beer, then whiskey - mighty risky" rule.

And second of all, I'd made some slight remark to Eddie upon arrival that maybe he should try to get me drunk. I've said this to Eddie on a few occasions, and he's a man who takes a task to heart. So no sooner than I'd had a beer and a few snacks, and the Goldschlager started being thrust upon me. And damn that Eddie for forcing me to down the first shot in one take. This was not my idea, and I only did it because he had my arm in a massive twist and I was in pain. Yeah, that sounds good.

And so we started the "Ein Prosits" and the shots, and, well, to make a very long story very short, I was boo-drunk by 7pm.

You know, I've never played Uno. Uno is a fun game. It's especially fun when, 1) no one's keeping score, 2) you have no idea what the hell you're playing, so you just show your neighbors your cards and let them pick them out for you, and 3) the entire ping-pong table full of people playing are in various arrays of snockeredness. Some great pictures from the Uno game I have, and one of them I still don't quite understand what's going on in it. I think someone's being raped. Well, maybe not raped. Everyone's smiling.

After the Uno game I went over to the sitting area and sat. In the floor, where I was having a very good time until I realized I was shit-faced beyond control and I really needed to, as they say, talk to God on the big white telephone. And so to the bathroom I went, did my damnedest, and was not successful. So I sat again, in the floor beside the bowl, and had at it some more. Unsuccessful.

This went on for probably the next three or so hours, a little partying, a little heaving, a little sitting by the bowl. Me and the bowl became really good buddies.

Finally, I had some success when I (and you're going to love this) retched one more time and a little something appeared in the bowl. It was pink. Now, this gave me no small amount of perplexment, and I sat and mused aloud as to why I would throw up something pink. And one of the people going in and out of the toilet while I was there musing (it's a multi-stalled toilet, just like you'd imagine Santa would have at his home), reminded me of the Tums I'd taken earlier. "Oh! Pink Tums," I said happily, and, that mystery solved, I went back to the party for awhile.

And I had some more of a lovely time, until the urge to travel bathward arrived again. And it was then that something happened that filled me with such awe, admiration, and jealousy that I don't know if I can adequately describe it here.

The Tums gone, I was back to heaving nothing but air. So I got up and stood at the sink for a little while, putting cold water on myself and wondering who that was looking at me in the mirror, and who should enter the bathroom but SB. The petite, lovely, vivacious SB. She waved and said hi, smiling, and then the petite, lovely, and vivacious SB proceeded to go into a stall and - lose everything she'd had in her system for approximately two weeks. Then she left the stall, smiling, waved, and said bye. But not before I expressed my utter appreciation for her act.

And I never did lose anything other than my Tums, but as I said before, it really was a lovely party and I had a great time, what I remember of it, anyway. There's something about the Sauerkraut Band that can turn an experience you'd probably end up hating into one you end up with only fond memories of. I love those guys, even if they all know how utterly corruptible I am, and wink and smile as they pour me another drink. We've often mused of renting a cabin one night at Oktoberfest and having an all-night stay, and as much as think this would be a great idea, I also wonder if I'd survive the night. I'm that weak around this bunch.

And now, the big news of the party. It was something to behold, and I'll never forget it if I live to be 100, which we all know I won't. There seemed to be some discussion around the old ping-pong table at some point of Mr M and his Peek-a-boo expertise. So our Fearless Leader Ed said, "Well, we can solve this right now," went out of the room, and produced - a baby! Well, a toddler, the son of Russ, who looks exactly like Russ, or would if you gave him a beard and shoved a beer in his hand. An adorable little boy he is.

And Ed sat the little fella in a chair across from Mr M, and Mr M reluctantly took off his glasses, covered his eyes, and did one of the nicest Peek-a-boos I've ever witnessed. And the little boy's face lit up, he giggled, and was all smiles. Damn - I guess we all owe Mr M his Peek-a-boo props. It was a golden moment.

On Monday I watched the Rose Parade, which they've gone and totally ruined by having people singing during it, and also watched the Hokies win the Gator Bowl. I was secretly hoping they'd lose, because with the exception of James Anderson, they were all so unsportsmanlike and badly behaved they didn't deserve their victory.

Oh, and I got to knock Mr M's block off. See, I got him a set of Rockem Sockem Robots for Christmas, so that from here on out we can settle our differences on the plastic canvas. We weren't having differences, I just wanted to try out the set, and I did indeed knock his block off in short order.

I guess that's par for the course, the way his New Year is shaping up.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. And thanks to all who took my test. And if you didn't go to the link below and give it a try. So - what about "Me??"
- Honorable Mention goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Radically kick-ass intellectual Titan." Yes, I'd say that's apt description.
- Runner-up goes to LilyG, with her "Reasonably kind in temperament." I liked her third one better, but unfortunately, she didn't see that time I kicked the infant across the room.
- And this week's winner goes to a new player! Buck, aka Russ, with his "Reprobate kid in transition." Yep, that's me, baby!
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well.