Tuesday, May 30, 2006

And As Your President, I Will Never Say "New-cu-lur"

Of course, I am a member in good standing of the B'burg Community Band. Well, I hope I'm still in good standing after skipping out on their annual Memorial Day concert, which was at 10:30am yesterday and would have involved my getting up early and forsaking a rare day off from work and having to play patriotic music, which I hate.

It's a long story, that. I'd hate to think I'm getting jaded here, but I may be.

I've been in the band since its inception, I was there on the first night and many, many nights since, and I show for almost all concerts. It involves a lot of driving. I've only taken two sabbaticals from band, one during my surgery and one several years ago when I had to sit beside someone so horrid I just couldn't take it anymore. She was annoying, and she hit me. She actually hit me, several times, in the arm, and thought it was funny. And she was the worst oboe player I've ever heard, even worse than I am, and that says more about her oboe playing than you'll ever know. But eventually she moved off to greener pastures, and got to hit other people in the arms, so I went back, and when Kellie with an i-e came along and started playing oboe with me, it was nothing short of a little slice of heaven. And all was well again.

But I can't help it. I'm getting a little tired. I'm tired of the traveling and time, and I'm tired of giving up every holiday I have to scoot to B'burg, a 70 mile one-way drive, playing a selection of music, then driving back home. I told myself I was going to pick and choose my concerts this year, not worry about being the "dependable one," the one who'll always show up because numbers are going to be thin for whichever concerts people don't want to attend because they have something better to do. And I don't care if I don't have anything better to do; sometimes sitting in the chair in my pajamas staring into space is something better to do. That decision went by the wayside last week when I hauled my cookies out to Claytor Lake to play, yes, patriotic music, wind blowing my music and my hair, which I did simply because no one else wanted to show up.

Now, before I go on, maybe I should say that the B'Burg Community Band has given me many years of pleasure. Playing pleasure and socializing pleasure. We're an incredibly varied selection of folks of all ages, economic backgrounds, musical backgrounds, and personalities, and I like it that way. I'd never suggest we become a group of musicbots.

Somewhere along the third or so year of band, we started having a board of officers. A president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and three members-at-large, who were sort of liasons from the band members to the other officers. In the early days this didn't mean much, and I was once a member-at-large back in those days. We had about one meeting a year where we talked about trying to get new members and raise money, but we didn't do much of either, and no one much cared anyway. Now it's a little more organized and intense.

A couple of years ago, we started a new feature at band. Our practices go for two hours, which is more than enough and yet can never possibly be enough, if you get my drift, and there's a short break in between the two hours where we can socialize, get a drink of water, go to the bathroom, socialize in the bathroom, or whatever. For years, at the beginning of break our Fearless Leader Ed would make a few announcements of upcoming concerts we had, and then we'd all get up and hit the hallway to talk and stretch.

Then something changed. I'm not sure whose idea it was, Ed's or the new president's, but it changed wherein at the beginning of break the president now comes to the head of the band and gives announcements. And all fucking hell has broken loose.

Our break used to be about 10 or 15 minutes of relaxed happiness. Now that's been taken up with endless announcements. No, you don't understand. Endless announcements. It meanders from our upcoming concerts, all sent out in emails anyway, to upcoming concerts by the B'burg Community Strings, The Early Music Ensemble, The Master Chorale, The Grand Hoo-Hah Winds, The New River Harmonica Band, The Children's Deaf-Mute Sign Language Choir, concerts at Virginia Tech, local musicals coming to town, student recitals, and Aunt Fran playing the piano in her living room next Tuesday at 7:00.

Then, when asked if anyone else has anything to say, we get people raising their hands and giving their announcements of charities they're working with, political causes, sign my petition so the new road won't come through my backyard, my daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies again, thought you might like to hear this joke someone told me, help the B'Burg High School Band by buying whatever, let's help the Bird Quartet get back together even though they all hate each other's guts and are involved in lawsuits, and please pray for Aunt Fran and her arthritis, since she's decided to play the piano in her living room next Tuesday at 7:00.

And just as you think it may possibly be over, someone - this isn't a random someone, this is the same someone every single week, has to pop up and start the "remember what we're wearing for the concert" conversation, which should be amusing since we've worn the same thing for concerts all 17 years of our existence, but it's not amusing, it's fucking annoying, and then she has to remind us all to bring our own stands to the concerts, which we've also been doing for 17 years.

So our 10 or 15 minutes of relaxed happiness is now 20 or 25 minutes of all this, with me sitting there on the front row with my head down uttering, "Jesus Christ," and "Oh, God, let this be over," and "Holy shit," and "Shutupshutupshutup." And someone usually has to pipe up somewhere during all this with a loud, "SHHHHHH!" to stop people from being rude and talking during it all, when no one seems to understand that people are talking because they don't give a shit about any of this and just want their fucking break. I mean, I'm the kind of person who frowns upon people being rude and talking over other people, but Holy Jesus, I can understand it. The talking during the actual playing of the music I don't understand, however, and there's someone in our ranks who does that as well, but I'm not the type to call anyone on that, just like I'm not the type to call anyone on the fact that she might want to ix-nay on the constant honking of her bassoon reed while our conductors are trying to tell us something that could possibly be important. So instead, Mr M has been bringing the duck call from Sauerkraut Band to practice, and every time she blurts out what we call a "bassoon fart," we answer her with the duck call. Which I guess makes us just as rude. And shame on us.

So where is all this leading? Well, it's leading here. I think next year I'm running for band president.

I've generally shied away from being officer material, simply because I don't live in B'burg. Sure, being a member-at-large was fine, there's no schmoozing with town officials to get us gigs, and back then we only had that one meeting anyway. But I'm setting all that aside so I can be band president and whip this bunch into shape.

My first order of business will be to declare war on the B'burg Community Strings. I hate the B'burg Community Strings, they just formed because they saw the band playing around town, they didn't even come up with a creative name, they just stole ours, and they horn in on our two biggest concerts of the year, the ones for Christmas and July 4th. This past Christmas I think the band's entire setlist had dwindled to four songs. The strings' songs are endless repeatings of the same musical phrase for about 10 minutes, and we've had to alter arrangements of our own music so they can play along, and that normally involves clarinet parts with upwards of five sharps in them. And they sound like bees. They sound like bees swarming a man and preparing to kill him, and when they play with us it sounds like the B'burg Community Band is being attacked by bees. Which I know probably makes the odd soul out there happy, but I don't like it, and I'm declaring war.

Then I'm revamping announcement time. Announcement time will be 15 minutes of relaxed happiness again. It will begin with me saying hello, announcing the next concert, and saying, "read your email for all else." Then I'll maybe read a blog to them or suggest a movie, and they can hit the road. If anyone in the band has an announcement or question, they can damn well send it out in an email or get off their asses and talk to their neighbors about it during the break. We're not babies here, people, step it up and act like men.

I'm also toying with the idea of a 2½ hour band practice, the first half-hour of which will be Impromptu Cocktail Time. We're making enough money in the treasury now that we can furnish some beers, I'll make a pitcher of martinis, and I have no doubt this will make for a happier band. I begin almost every spring concert with a healthy dose of Goldschlager and it hasn't hurt me yet.

Incentives. Incentives, people. We need sectional practice, but no one wants to take the time to do it. So I'm going to instill some section pride the hard way. At the end of every band practice I shall stand up and announce who the worst section was for that practice. Then everyone gets to scowl at that section with a look that says, "You're a disappointment and you're bringing us down." This might push the band to do what I've wished they'd do for years, and the clarinets have tried unsuccessfully once, have actual sectionals outside band time. I know it's revolutionary, and the idea of thinking about band anytime other than the two hours we're there has been till now unheard of, but unless these folks want scowls and embarrassment for their sections, there'd better be some by-God practicing. Because if a section gets the Disapproving Scowl two weeks in a row, the floggings will begin, by the other band members, involving whatever flogging tool they've brought along for the task.

Now, practice attendance at band has never been mandatory, and I'm not about to change that. However, I am adopting a new rule regarding practice. If you decide that coming to practice is not important enough to fit into your busy schedule, then show up at a concert to play the first part and all the solos because your family and friends have shown up to see you, and you screw up your part, and you inevitably will, you will be punched square in the moosh by the band member who draws the lucky ticket, the white piece of paper with the big red dot on it. Tickets will be sold to band members at a nominal fee of one dollar, and members can purchase as many tickets as they like until we run out of tickets. This is going to be called the G Rule, and if only I could have that rule written into every band I'm associated with, and I'm only associated with two, so you know where that's going, I'd be a happy girl indeed.

And finally, I'm taking a little idea from reality TV. Every month the band will have a "Survivor"-style vote wherein one band member will be booted from our ranks. Members can vote during practice, then I'll tally the votes and read them before we go home. Voting can be based on musical ability, whether or not someone attends practice, or concerts, or is just generally annoying. Or broke your reed. Or wore something one week you didn't like. Or looked at you funny. I don't care. I am, of course, exempt from banishment, being president, but whoever gets the most votes will be out. Or at least sent to the front lines in the war against the B'burg Community Strings. And believe me, that won't be a good place, at least not without bee repellent, and eye protection from all those flailing bows.

I think it could work. Unless someone reads this blog first. Damn that power of the press.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. We don't have acrowinners? Oh, I don't guess we do. Sorry about the absence from blogging lately, but sometimes a girl just needs a little vacation.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Boy, are you folks lucky tonight.

For tonight there will be not one, not two, but three - count them, I know you won't - blogs for your reading enjoyment.

Continue on, if you dare....

Blog One: It's Worth The Extra Effort

I've made an internet discovery that I'm inviting you all to partake in.

It's a little video, made in The Netherlands, of our very own Hackensaw Boys, doing what they love to do. In an elevator, no less. Apparently this is a "thing" in The Netherlands, elevator performing. Oh, those Netherlanders. What cards.

Anyway, here's where the extra effort comes in. I'm giving you the link, and listen, you'd better take it and watch this or I'll be very cross indeed, but the video on the website is of the most crapoid quality imaginable. I guess it's "streaming" video (I don't know my geek terms, which I guess means I have to turn in my "geek" t-shirt), but it consists mainly of stills, and the video stops over and over to buffer and re-connect.

So here's what you do. Right click on the little "play" and "volume" panel and you'll get an option that says "Play With Real Player." Select that, and you've got an actual moving, continuous, rousing, happy, guaranteed to make you smile performance.

Go Here For The Hackies - It's Worth The Extra Effort

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Look! Below! Blog Two!

Blog Two: And She Laughed and Laughed....

I saw something on television this morning that made me howl with laughter. It was even funnier than the man with the eyepatch on the Today program watching Barry Manilow singing on a ship.

On the local news feed this morning, the small five-minute news and weather update, our local newsgirl had to read an announcement. Now, I like our morning news girl, our local station's finally got it right, a cute girl who can pronounce the words, seems to actually know what she's saying, and has that added feature of a personality. And she sometimes wears glasses.

And so the announcement she had to read was that there was a "boil water" advisory for a local region in the viewing area. And this is what she had to say:

"The Health Department has announced a "boil water" advisory for Hoo Hoo Hollow Road today until 4pm. Repeat, if you live on Hoo Hoo Hollow Road, you're under a "boil water" advisory until 4pm today."

As the announcement was being read, there was a graphic with the news flashing across the screen so that we could not see newsgirl. But when the graphic was taken away and she was back on camera, well, you could see it all in her face.

She was starting to lose it.

She just couldn't contain her grin any longer and it surfaced as she was heading us back to the Today program. And as the picture faded out, she let out a cackle that will go down in the annals of TV history, for me, anyway.

And so I've giggled all day over it. And one day I'll set out in the podmobile to see if I can find Hoo Hoo Hollow Road. And maybe I'll return, and maybe I won't.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Look! Below! Blog Three!

Blog Three: We Love Your Breasts, Kind Of

I got a letter from my gynecologist today. Well, from her conglomeration of doctors/partners, operating under a CompanyTheyOwnAndWorkFor banner. Now, my gynecologist is a lovely person, kind, understanding, and very competent to boot. And that may be where the whole problem lies. Everyone loves her.

Anyway, my letter. It's one of those letters to their valued patients that begins "Dear __________," with that valued patient's name typed in in all capital letters. As an added attraction, mine says "Dear BET'S NAME," with my middle initial being " ". No, I'm not making a set of quote marks with nothing in them for my middle initial, that's what the gynecologist people think my middle initial is, a set of quote marks. " ". Looks like eyebrows - I think I'll start using it on my checks.

So here is what my letter says to me, Bet " " B:

It is time again to schedule your annual screening mammogram, according to our healthcare records.

Since it is the one-year anniversary date for your mammogram, we want to take the opportunity to remind you of the importance of this exam. We follow the American Cancer Society's recommended guidelines for screening mammography that state in part: [and here's where I start paraphrasing]

- You're not getting any younger
- You may have family members who've had cancer
- You may also have really good insurance that'll pay for the tests
- We like that funny face you make when we squeeze your breasts in a vice

[I'm still paraphrasing here] It is exceedingly important that you don't let this one-year opportunity pass you by, as your life depends on it. You can also have your mammogram using our special brand-new technology which is way better than what we've been giving you, but more expensive, so if you're poor you'll get the same old thing, but you really should get your ass in here to get the damn mammogram done, OK?

And by the way, you're overdue on your pap smear too, dearie. What's the deal?

Sincerely yours,

On the back of this letter, I have written a reply.

Dear TheCompanyEtc,

Thank you for your letter of the 10th informing me of the need to schedule my yearly gynecological appointment and mammogram. However, your mail department apparently is not quite in sync with your reception department.

My yearly gynecological appointment in 2005 was May 4. This was after I called in October 2004 to schedule my yearly appointment for January 2005, a year after my January 2004 appointment. In October 2004 I was told the soonest appointment I could get for my yearly exam would be May 2005. Which I took, and was, as my dad has been known to say, damn glad to get it. At the time of my May 2005 appointment, I asked if I could schedule next year's exam. I was told by a seemingly incredulous giggling receptionist, "Uh, we don't do that."

And so I called in January 2006 to schedule my May yearly exam, which should have been my January yearly exam, but we won't even go there, which I knew was a very foolhardy thing to do anyway and that I'd left myself way too late, but I still wasn't quite prepared for the answer I received from your offices. I was told, "The Dr has nothing in the near future. Call back in August and we'll see when we can work you in."

And to your credit, which I'll give freely where it's due, you called me, to tell me a la Marcia Brady that "something suddenly came up," and that I could have my May 2006 yearly appointment in October 2006. And I jumped all over that appointment like a rooster on a junebug, for it may be my only chance in 2006.

And furthermore, if I may share just a trifle of my mind with you all, I know babies are important and make your business a lot of money, but I'd appreciate it if in October I wasn't made to wait, naked, sitting on a cold piece of tissue paper, for 2 hours while my gynecologist, a lovely, kind, understanding, and very competent person, delivered a baby, as happened to me at my May 2005 appointment, which was supposed to be my January 2005 appointment, but we won't even go there.

Listen - I know you're all busy, but you do have 9 doctors in your practice at this time, and I've been a valued patient for more than several years, so I don't think an actual yearly appointment is too much to ask. I mean, as I'm writing you this small epistle I could possibly already have breast cancer, as well as cancer of the cervix, uterus, or ovaries, cysts, polyps, the clap, dry rot, or any number of other conditions, fatal or otherwise, and none of us knows about it because no one will deem to see me. But thanks for reminding me I'm overdue.

Sincerely yours,
Bet " " B.

PS - Shouldn't it be two words? Health care? Not healthcare, I'm sure of it.

The only thing keeping me from sending this letter back to TheCompanyEtc is the fact that if they read it and want to get all pissy about things, I'll be dropped from their valued patient list and have to accept biennial appointments from now on, which is how things are leaning anyway, or I'll have to find a new gynecologist altogether.

And as we girls all know, a good gynecologist is hard to find. I don't think I could find mine these days with a geiger counter.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, why can't we trust Monday, anyway?
- Honorable Mention goes to everyone out there who was trying to come up with a good acro but couldn't, due to the shitiness of the letter draw. No problem, guys; I just have to use what I'm dealt. Or drawn.
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie, with her "It reeks! Official oddity!"
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her "Its rudimentary offering offends." I'm normally offended, so we'll go with that one.
- Thanks for playing - you've all done very well!

Monday, May 22, 2006


Hello, letterers, letterees, and letterites. Welcome to another What Will It Be This Week round of acromania.

Monday. Monday, Monday. Can't trust that day, or so they say in song. And why not? Is Monday that sneaky? Is Monday a criminal? Or is he just a victim of bad press? Maybe Monday had a bad upbringing, alcoholic parents, uncaring teachers, no mentors.

Or maybe Monday's just a bastard. In any case, that's this week's acrotopic. "Why Can't We Trust Monday, Anyway?"

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 doesn't mind Monday. Of course he doesn't - he just sits on his wicker ass on my desk all week long, what's Monday to him? I shall be reading the acros at 10pm est tomorrow night and naming the winners, who will get next Monday off (that's a safe one, considering it's Memorial Day), and the non-winners, who will be doomed to a month of Mondays.

So the topic, "Why Can't We Trust Monday, Anyway?" The letters:


Ick. Sorry about that. Blame it on Monday.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* It's Monday. Did you know that?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, you end-of-weekenders, and welcome to another round of Picture Sunday.

Before we go any further, let me just say that dinner out with the family and two massive martinis make for a rather inebriated Bet. I do have coffee, however, and will try to sober up nicely for a good Picture Sunday blog. I got Granny (my mom) somewhere between martinis number 1 and number 2 when she heard me utter the phrase, "Screw 'em in the eye." It made her laugh. Always good to make Granny laugh.

So, Picture Sunday.

Ahhhh, spring. I've been writing about spring a lot lately, but mainly it's in a sort of "it's spring and cold and rainy and I can't do anything" vein. However, while I seem to be sitting around complaining, someone has been very busy.

As you may or may not remember, my boy (well, he's Peabody's boy, but lives with me, so I consider him mine) Sherman is quite the young botanist. He grows his garden at Poderosa East, aka Mr M's back yard, and has made amazing strides in the world of fruit production. Who could forget two years ago when he grew the very first Shermanhead watermelon?

What a coup. People were lining up all along G Road to buy them from his roadside stand outside Mr M's house.

Then last year, he won rave reviews with his Shermanhead squash.

Another success, especially for those of us "country food" enthusiasts, who bought the squash and fried it up for a good side dish.

Well, this year, the boy has outdone himself. Now, let me tell you, this is a very, very rare sneak preview. I'm only allowed to show these next pictures because no one knows the exact locations of the Poderosa and Poderosa East. But here's what will be harvested and sold roadside this year. It'll have you driving to Virginia, for sure. First of all, how about the soon-to-be famous Shermanhead peach?

Exquisite. And now, and let me stress, folks, this is hot off the presses, and barely off the drawing board, and you, you lucky folks, are the first people to see it. The "only a germ of an idea so far" Shermanhead carrot!

Like I said, this one is just now in the planning stages and may not even be ready by the fall, but, boy, can I not wait to get this little number shredded and into my salad. Even into the Jell-O Tuna Salad Extravaganza! (Yeah, like I'm ever making that again....)

This weekend was one basically spent at the Poderosa. No B'burg, for, as I told Mr M, "I'm tired and I miss home." However, there was one small thing to attend to. That would be the Community Band concert at Claytor Lake on Saturday, for Armed Forces Day. Now, to be honest, I don't really understand Armed Forces Day. I mean, we already have Memorial Day, do we really need something else? I'm afraid I'm with Mr M on this one - why isn't there a National Draft Dodger Day? Now, I'd be up for that. Let's play a concert for all those people who went North!

However, it was not to be. Instead, it was driving 90 minutes each way to play a plethora of patriotic songs, but the scenery sure was nice. Here's the lake.

Well, there's some grass, and trees, and a small mountain, but you can see the lake in there somewhere. That's it kind of middleways between the mountain and the grass. It's bluish.

Then today it was a blissful morning of lazing around in bed until I got up and got going. There was the recipe du jour, of course, and I'm finally caught up with laundry, I worked on re-caulking my shower stall yesterday (a job I'm afraid was in vain, as I'm seriously in need of a whole new shower, if not a whole new bathroom), and also today I ransacked my house for yard sale items.

No, I'm not having a yard sale, the GHS Band is. See, the GHS Band, of which I'm an alumnus and my dear nephew is a member in good standing, have a big-ass yard sale every Memorial Day weekend. It's their biggest money-making project of the year. And in looking for items, guess what I decided would go into the sale?

Yep, I'm sick of babysitting. Remember how I often mention that I've been holding my cousin Jacob's Christmas presents from 2004, that she and her husband apparently haven't thought enough of to come and get? For two years? Well, guess what. If they want them henceforth, they can go to the GHS Band's big-ass yard sale and buy them.

Something there for the whole damn family. Mom can have the brand new smoothie maker, Dad can have the Sharper Image travel bag, teenage son can have the new (or it was 2 years ago) REM DVD, and pre-teen daughter can have the Bratz watch (Jacob always liked the Bratz). My old pedalciser, a couple of videos, a new welcome mat, some CD racks, and several new kitchen appliances (what - like I cook?) also went into the mix.

And now it's time. Oh, yeah, gird your loins, it's time for the recipe du jour. Funny story about the recipe du jour, which will come later. But first of all let's introduce the little fella, yes, from the "Healthy Desserts" file at recipeland, say hello to Brussels Sprouts Pie A La Mode.

Mmmmm, a real treat for those of you who are overly health-conscious, or just didn't get enough vitamins and roughage in your normal meal. This one is surprisingly easy, just take your pie crust, add some cooked brussels sprouts along with a goodly helping of butter and brown sugar, top with pastry latticework, and bake. For presentation's sake, top your pie with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream and lovingly (it must be lovingly!) top it with a brussels sprout. Fun for the whole family, if your family is really weird.

Now, the funny. I decided to take the remainder (minus the piece I cut) to Granny's tonight and present it to her as a "belated Mother's Day present." She was so excited, she thought it was an actual recipe I'd made! She was all set to dig into it until I told her that under no circumstances was she to eat it, that it was a joke, upon which news she became quite disappointed. My dad (Paw) swore, though, that he was going to eat it, because it just "sounded really good." I can't wait to see if he actually tries it, and if he survives. I'll keep you posted.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Do you know that since I stopped eating ice cream, I can't even stand the smell of it anymore? Quite odd.
* A big Betland shout-out to my buddy the dishy Michelle, who informed me that she's going to see the Hackensaw Boys this Friday night! Woo-hoo! She's the first of all my bloggers to take the plunge.
* And finally, goodbye, Mrs C. Mrs C lived across the street from my folks the whole time I was growing up. She was my nemesis in youth, she didn't like teenagers coming and going at all hours, with their horn-honking and rock and roll music, but in adulthood I found her to be quite the nice lady. She died today. She lived a good, long life, and I'm glad we got to be friends eventually. She still bought me a Christmas present every year, even long after I moved away from home.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

How To Eat Bet

My sister and I have a running argument. She says I'm not a true southerner because I don't like sweet potatoes. And I don't. I think they're vile, but my instant retort to this accusation is that she doesn't like grits so how in the hell can she accuse me of not being a southerner? She has no answer to this, but it doesn't stop her from going at me anytime there's a sweet potato in my general vicinity.

Southern food is an entity unto itself, and some I like and some I shy away from. You know, I was recently part of a discussion that contained a few nuggets of wisdom, like the south is probably the only place where green beans with new potatoes are considered a main dish. And macaroni and cheese is never a main dish. And only the lowest snakes in the grass will put dark meat in their chicken salad, and one is never fully accessorized without a deviled egg dish. Usually shaped like a chicken.

I don't know where all this is going, it's just that in the past couple of months I've freaked two people out with the mention of a summer classic around here. Scalded lettuce and onions.

And this is where I guess things are going to get complicated. Because I have my list of what I consider southern food, your fried chicken, sweet potatoes, pecan pie, biscuits and gravy and the like, and I have my list of what I consider "country food." Country food is what showed up in our family many times when I was growing up. Mom and Mamaw Bowles were always big on country food when I was kid, so I grew up on this stuff, but I can tell you that nothing was more disappointing than getting to the dinner table on a Friday or Saturday night and having to say, "Awww, geez. Country food! Weekends are for fun food, like hamburgers and pizza!" And sometimes we got that, but sometimes it was country food, and there wasn't a damn thing we could do about it. I guess the best definition of country food is, "food you generally won't find in a restaurant." Because you have it at home all the time, so why would anyone want it out somewhere?

(By the way, it was a funny thing when my friend Tina first visited here from England. When offered a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, her face took on an expression I can't quite describe. Of course, I knew what was going on, being the erudite fool that I am. She was thinking cookies and brown sauce, which is the English translation of biscuits and gravy. She was still a little suspect of the whole concoction when it was presented to her, but took to it quite well, probably better than I do, actually, because I'm not much of a gravy fan. Biscuits, though. I could eat biscuits all day long, or could before bread started making very bad things happen in my intestines.)

So. Country food. Where do we start? I guess at the beginning. Here are a few of the things that show up on our family's dinner table from time to time.

Of course, you have your scalded lettuce and onions. This sounds a lot worse than it is. You have a bowl of lettuce, and let me stress this is garden lettuce, not store lettuce, and you've cut up a goodly amount of green onions into it. Then you take your cast iron skillet (used for all good dishes and bonking ne'er-do-well men on the head), and you melt up some bacon grease, sugar, vinegar, and water. You boil (or "bull," if you're me) that all up, then pour it over the lettuce and onions, and a good time is had by all. Till you run out of Rolaids.

Now, I don't like scalded lettuce and onions on their own. In fact, for years I wouldn't go near the stuff, until it was imparted upon me that they don't have to be a stand-alone dish. Then I discovered the joys of mixing up some L&O (that's lettuce and onions, not "Law & Order") into a bowl of brown beans, or spreading it out on a good piece of cornbread that's been slathered with butter.

By the by, scalded lettuce and onions, I'm told, make an excellent lunch in this part of the world, only here most people call it dinner, but let's not even go there. This is how to eat Bet, not how to speak it. And I say "lunch," anyway. Erudite fool that I am.

Now, here's a meal from my childhood. Salmon cakes and gravy. This consists of canned salmon mixed with light bread (remember light bread? I know you do!) and made into a cake. Then it's fried up and covered with gravy. I always liked this as a kid, even though I was a little skeeved out by the fact that canned salmon has those cylinder-shaped edible bones in it that occasionally crunch around in the mouth.

Like tomatoes? You can't go wrong with breaded tomatoes, which is a big bowl of torn-up light bread and a can of stewed tomatoes, all mooshed up, with some salt and pepper and butter added. Bake them into a casserole and voila! Side dish supreme. This is, of course, not to be confused with macaroni and tomatoes, which is just what it's advertised as. Make up some macaroni, drain it, and add the stewed tomatoes. And if you're from my family, you never squeeze up your stewed tomatoes. For if you do that, then the dish won't take on the distinct look of macaroni in a bowl of blood and brains.

One of the happiest memories from my childhood is that of Sunday mornings at Mamaw's house eating saltfish. Saltfish was something, I'm still not sure what, it's a fish that was dry, and packed in so much salt Mamaw had to start soaking it in a pan in the sink at about 7pm on Saturday night. While she watched "Hee Haw." Then Sunday morning she'd rinse it off, drain it, and fry it up, bones and all, and, well, the memories I have. It was still like a piece of fish with an entire blue box of Morton Salt poured on it. But it rocked. And there would be Mamaw, Papaw, my aunt Nadine, Jacob, and me, Mom, Dad, and my sister, all sitting around the table picking our saltfish off the bone and eating it, our faces redder than Satan's hayfork. How we didn't all die immediately from the hypertension I'll never know. Especially since the best side dish you could hope for with salftish was fried potatoes.

And as far as breakfast goes, I was probably in late junior high school before I realized that rice wasn't a breakfast food, nor was it always eaten sweet, with cream and sugar in it. Because in my growing up days, rice was one majorly sublime breakfast. It rivaled salftish and fried potatoes, and had I ever had all three together, the salt, grease, and sugar - well, I probably would have exploded, but really, what a way to go. I tell you, I believe that rice with cream and sugar is just God's love right there in a bowl. It's the supreme comfort food.

Fried okra is fun. Okra is a pretty nasty proposition on its own, but cover it with cornmeal and fry it up in some butter and oil and it becomes to die for. (Of course, frying anything up in butter and oil can only improve it, and I'm sure the day will come when I try fried spaghetti and meatballs, fried peas, fried cake, fried shoe, fried bedspread, etc.) The thing you have to watch out for with fried okra, though, is the snot. You know, okra emits this thick, clear, slimy juice when it's cooked, and you have to be sure and separate that from the fried green pieces you eat. If you don't, the snot, combined with the seeds, well.... Afterwards, it's not pretty. It's not pretty at all. (Actually, in thinking about it, fried squash is way better than fried okra, and you don't have to worry about the snot, nor the unpleasantness afterwards.)

Hey, how do you like your brown beans? More importantly, what do you call your brown beans? Some call them brown beans, or pintos, some call them soup beans, and I guess some don't call them at all, which makes a brown bean very sad indeed. Cook them with a ham hock, please, then go wild. Throw in some chopped onions, or crumble up a nice piece of buttered cornbread into them. There's always the above-mentioned scalded lettuce and onions, kids like ketchup in there sometimes, or even mustard, and Jacob likes to put cottage cheese into hers. But nothing beats a "bean sandwich." Put your beans over a piece of light bread and top with ketchup. Easy on the bean soup for that one, though - makes the bread soggy. Oh, and a helpful hint - after brown beans, don't even get out the Rolaids. They won't help. Nothing does. It's a proven fact; the brown bean is impenetrable.

And speaking of ham, what about country ham? Country ham is cured - I mean, it's cured like the lame at a tent revival. It's so cured it's scary. It comes in a white muslin sack, dry, and has to be soaked overnight, just like saltfish. And it's salty. And tough. It's so hard it could cut your lip. It's an acquired taste, but it's big on our Christmas buffets. And more importantly, around here, there is no such thing as a ham biscuit without country ham between the bread.

Finally, let us not forget snacks. Because of course, what is life without a few snacks? It's not much, that's what it is.

Need a little pick-me-up during your day? How about a vi-ennie weenie (or as you probably call it, a Vienna sausage) dipped in mustard? Or a pickled egg? Boy, do pickled eggs look scary in a jar, sitting there, well, pickling. But once they're cut open, it's a festival! Pink outside, white and yellow inside. How could they not be fun? (Till you run out of Rolaids, anyway.) If you're a milk person, which I'm not, so I can't vouch for it, apparently one of the happiest night-time snacks you can have with your TV-watching is a glass of buttermilk with whatever cornbread was left from dinner crumbled up into it. I've seen people enjoy this a great deal, though I cannot say I have indulged. However, I have induldged in this one. Raw vegetables, your raw potato, raw cabbage, and raw rutabagas or parsnips, which make a good crunchy snack.

I like to go with the simpler joys of snacking. That would be your butter on a cracker. Quick and easy as pie, this is simply a hefty pat of butter (margarine? never!) sat upon a saltine cracker. This may not sound like much, but it's a delicacy of the highest order, and I can vouch for it completely, as I just had a couple of these last night. I could probably live on butter on a cracker, though I doubt I'd live for very long.

So there you have it. Country food 101. Try some, you might like it. You might not. And stock in Rolaids might go through the roof. And if you find saltfish anywhere, tell me about it. I haven't had that stuff in at least 30 years. I'd like to try it again, just to see how red my face gets at my now advanced age.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! S, tell me about a blog faux pas.
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie, with her "Authored Grand Record. Irvin Eventually Sued." Oooh. They say your kids are the first to turn on you.
- Runner-up goes to Flipsycab, with her "Antagonizing gracious reader is electronic suicide." Hee, I like it. Does that mean we all go into each other's comments and say, "Piece of crap!"
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her, "Accosted George. Really. I elicited subpoena." I'd heard about that restraining order he has on you....
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Hello to all, the lettered and the letterless, and welcome to another I'm Sitting With My Foot Heater Going Full Blast round of acromania. Still cold here.

First of all, thanks, Flipsycab, for giving me a clue. I now know what pig ear is. You know, I've always seen rawhide doggie toys shaped like a pig's ear, and I suppose that's why. They're fake pig ears.

Now, to my Olympic Update of last night. No, not the Hackensaw Boys ticket, the other one. You see, I was warned that commenting on comments wasn't "good form." I didn't mean it as a whine, though, it's just a fact of life. Many a Friday blog I've posted, and nary a comment have they gathered. It's all about the weekend coming and people not checking other people's blogs, no big deal, really, just a statement. Even if it did come off as a little needy.

That brings us to tonight's acrotopic, "A Blog Faux Pas." What other trouble can we get into in our blogs? I once got in trouble with a statement about Mr M and Scrabble. I guess one could mention names in a bad light, or forget and mention that time he or she was a prostitute in San Francisco back during the '70s. There are all kinds of ways to faux pas up a blog. Give me some.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to try and come 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 not capable of a faux pas; his manners are impeccable. He's the Mr Peabody of wicker. Then at 10pm est tomorrow night I shall be reading the entries and judging you all, and the winners will get a pass from commenting on my blog. The non-winners will have to comment, every day, whether there's a new blog or not, for the rest of their lives.

So the topic is "A Blog Faux Pas." The letters:


Now, stop being boorish and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Big news! The baby is home from camp! Yes, my beloved clarinet, the RC, came back all shiny and clean and oiled and sounding terrific. I played him at Wheatland Hills Saturday and had the time of my life, but gave him a pass at Local Colors, since it was cool outside and threatening rain. He smelled faintly of smores, oddly enough.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Picture Sunday

Well, hello again to all you Sunday night people, and welcome to another very chilly (43 degrees here in Betland) edition of Picture Sunday.

Busy weekend here. This is because we had not one but two, count them, I know you won't, Sauerkraut Band gigs on Saturday. We opened the day up with a benefit for those lovely oldsters at Wheatland Hills retirement home, then hot-footed it to R'noke for our third annual appearance at the city's Local Colors festival. As you'll remember, this was the gig last year where we waited out the rain, then waited out the sound equipment people, then got thrown off the stage after 3 numbers.

But Wheatland Hills came first yesterday. It's always a nice place to play, it's not one of your upscale "retirement villas," it's a place where the middle-class folks live and therefore not many people want to go there to entertain. And so we're always appreciated.

I must tell this story, though. And I can't help it, I know I'll be senile one day, if I live long enough, but I couldn't help but laugh (and be frightened) at this one little old lady. See, she had this "thing." And the "thing" she had was that she seemed to be obsessed with sitting in other people's chairs. She did this the whole time we were setting up, if someone got up for just a moment, she'd go and sit in that person's chair.

Well, when the band started playing, she kept it up. When the trumpets went to the front of the room to play "The Trumpet Echo," she went and sat in one of their chairs and had to be helped away by the staff. Then when Ed was up talking and walking around, she sat in his chair and had to be helped away. Towards the end of the program I just couldn't hold myself any longer and had to make a quick run to the bathroom to answer the call of nature and said to my fellow clarinetters, "Sorry, I've got to run, please don't let that lady sit in my chair." And I was lucky. She didn't take it from me.

Then we got to R'noke, and it was a fun gig. It was cool outside, we dodged the impending rain, and people seemed to enjoy us. Here's a picture that, to me, says it all where SK Band is concerned.

The ever-present beer on Tom's glockenspiel. Cuts down on the number of notes he can play, but who cares, really.

After the gig the aforementioned Tom (Santa to those of you in the know), the lovely and vivacious Sara Beth, and none other than Jude the Corruptor stopped by Mr M's, where we ate, drank, and were merry in general. A fun evening.

During the Local Colors gig, where they are serious, let me tell you, about the dispensing of alcohol, we on the stage -whether we were drinking or not - had to have two different armbands, on our right arms no less, and a "stamp" on our hands to prove we were of age. The stamp came in the form of a big black "X" marked onto our hands with a magic marker by some hoo-hah who got all snotty at me because my armbands were on my left arm and also because apparently some other Sauerkrauters (namely Mr M) gave her the business about all the regulations.

Anyway, these big black Xes were not very becoming, but Sara Beth and I decided that we'd use them as our "gang tattoos," and made Jude the Corruptor take our pictures flashing our "gang sign."

Those of you who know American Sign Language and are standing on your heads realize, of course, what our gang sign is. It's an S, a K, and a B. And don't mess with us - we'll kick your asses, or at least play German music in your general direction, which is infinitely more dangerous. (And before you ask, yes, I'd been drinking.)

And now for one more picture, some local color of another kind. I snapped this on a sign outside a little convenience store today. Now, I know what feed is, and rabbit food, and dog biscuits, but....

What in the hell is pig ear? Is it an actual pig's ear, do people buy those? Is it some sort of strange root, like St John's wort? If you know, please impart the knowledge upon me, if you don't mind.

And speaking of pig ear, that isn't this week's recipe du jour, though it certainly could be. See, as we all know, today is Mother's Day (hi, Mom!), and I was part of a celebration where the men cooked for the women. And so from the "Stuff Men Cook" file at recipeland, say hello to Grilled Meat.

Instructions for this one? Well, sounds easy enough to me. Fire up a grill, take some meat, slosh it with some kind of sauce (and yes, beer can be considered a sauce), and let the good times roll. Beef is the meat for this particular festival, but I'm sure any other meats out there would work just as well. As long as you slosh them with sauce.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sad fact of blogging. Friday blog = no comments. Just the way things are, I guess.
* Oh! And one last picture - guess where I'm going June 2d.

Friday, May 12, 2006

What A Trooper! (A Lunchtime Blog)

Yes, it's lunchtime here at the Poderosa, or brunch, as we call it when we're the unlucky TheCompanyIWorkFor recipients of the early, or 11:30-12:30, lunchtime. And I thought I'd try to throw a little blog together while I'm choking down an Orange Crapius and getting ready for the afternoon onslaught of old people.

See, today is - I'm giving this out as random information to my younger readers and a warning to any older ones I may have - the last day to sign up for your Medicare Part D (remember that blog??) coverage without incurring a penalty. I always thought those old people were early for everything, but quite a few seem to be waiting till the final moments to mark their names on the form. It's OK, though, even if I am self-taught at the whole Part D thing, I've learned it quite well, thank you, and can make it a short appointment without any upset at all to said old people.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was tuned in to the Today program, which I hate, but my TV was on NBC when I woke up and I didn't have the time to surf around for something better. This whole week has been a big, long commercial for the new Royal Caribbean cruise ship, the Freedom of the Sea. And it all ended today with a concert, on that very ship, by no less a person than Barry Manilow himself.

Now, I've been guilty of the odd Barry Manilow joke from time to time. Which I'll admit is quite unfair, because when I was a high schooler Barry was in my Top Five Of Musical Stars.

You know, I'm quite the fan of Joe Queenan, the acerbic but hilarious smart-ass writer of movies and pop culture. (Go read his book, "The Unkindest Cut," about his attempts to make a movie for $6999.99 and finance it all on his credit card, which has one of the funniest passages ever written on the page. Go ahead, I'll wait.)

Joe wrote a book a while back about all the horrid and trashy things America seems to have taken to heart, and he set off on a nationwide tour to experience all these things and write really ugly things about them, as he would. His tour was to end with a big concert by that schmaltziest of singers, Mr Manilow. He wrote pages of what his expectations of this would be, about the zealotry of Barry's fans, about the sappy love songs he was famous for.

Thing is, when he actually went to see Barry, he couldn't find a bad thing to say about the man. This is because he was, as Joe put it, an old show-biz trooper. See, Barry knows all about the jokes that have been bandied about in his direction, and goes right with them. He even beats the naysayers to the punch by making his own jokes about himself. And Barry's all about giving the people what they want, and will work like crazy to make sure the asses in the seats get every penny's worth of their ticket prices. And you just can't argue with an ethic like that.

Barry also made an appearance this season on everyone's (or at least my) favorite love-to-trash-it TV show, "American Idol." He coached the contestants, giving great but constructive criticism, doing interesting arrangements of their songs, and being an all-around good guy in general.

In other words, this isn't going to be an anti-Barry blog. In fact, it's not about Barry so much at all, and may possibly not be about anything anyway, but it struck me as funny, so I thought I'd write it all down.

See, there on the Today program, right on that cruise ship (Lordy, the amount of money Royal Caribbean must have paid NBC for that week-long commercial for them), Barry was on the stage of the ship's lounge with his band behind him, and he struck up his first number for the packed room. It was "I Can't Smile Without You."

And how the room did love that song. There they were, packed in like sardines, swaying and clapping and singing along with the utmost of happiness. And the camera was panning along over the crowd, this Barry love-fest, and we saw Al Roker and Natalie Whats-Her-Name singing and swaying, and Katie, and thousands of random middle-aged ladies and gentlemen all having the times of their lives.

Then all of a sudden, the camera focused in on this one man. He was wearing a suit and tie. He had a bad combover and, I'm not kidding here, an eye patch. And he was just standing there in and amongst the other people. He wasn't swaying, he wasn't clapping, he wasn't smiling. His mouth was kind of moving, but not along to the words of "I Can't Smile Without You." It looked more like muttering to me.

The thing is, the camera, when it hit this guy, stopped panning. It just stayed there on him indefinitely, for an almost infinite amount of time. It was like the cameraman thought, "If we stay here long enough, he will smile and sway, I guarantee it. He's on the Today program, for cryin' out loud!"

But he didn't. He didn't do any of those fun things. In fact, he stood there, unsmiling and muttering, until he realized he was on camera. He glanced over, thought a moment, and shook his head "no." Then the camera began to pan again, to happier shipmates.

"I don't care! I don't care if I am on the Today program, I'm not smiling for your camera!"

And so there he was, captured on TeeVee for immortality, being a big eye-patched grouch.

Maybe he wasn't such a Barry fan. Maybe was drug there by his wife, who was up on the first row smiling and swaying. Maybe he missed breakfast, or had a hangover. Maybe he was still upset that someone had poked his eye out, which is understandable, as is the fact that with him being so grumpy, someone would want to do that very thing. Whatever the case, it was one of the most upsetting things I've seen on television in years.

Oh, and speaking of being a trooper? Barry was apparently suffering a serious bout of sea-sickness, even though the ship was docked and not going anywhere, but showed up anyway and sang his heart out. I'm sure Joe Queenan would have been proud.

That other guy, though - not such a trooper.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The new (well, it's outtakes, but new to you) edition of the hucklebug podcast is up and ready for listening. Go to http://hucklebug.blogspot.com or subscribe through iTunes to listen.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Here I Sit...

... with a blank screen in front of me at 9:46pm and not a thing to blog about.

Mr M suggests I tell everyone to piss off. So I will. Hey, piss off everyone!

This actually comes from a long-standing joke between myself and Mr M's clarinet teacher, Mr N. Mr N is a very good player indeed, and therefore Mr M thinks I should have the utmost of reverence for Mr N, unlike the anti-reverence I have for him. Mr M, that is. So of course, the first time I met the esteemed Mr N, who is (obviously) a very nice man and one of good humor to boot, he told me he'd give me an impromptu lesson on tonguing, and I promptly told Mr N to piss off. This sent shivers of upset down the spine of Mr M, as he never thought I'd have the nerve to do such a thing. Mr N knew, though, that it was all in good fun and I got my lesson, even if I didn't follow the instructions he gave me for practicing, which I don't do anyway, as the instructions involved completely re-doing everything I've ever learned on the clarinet.

But to cut a very long story short, now anytime I have an opportunity to speak to Mr N, or even to pass along a message to him via Mr M, the sentiment is always thusly: Piss off!

Today was the day of the good old DDC Business Luncheon. I blogged about this luncheon last year (see May 13, 2005), the affair where people from downtown businesses are herded to the local Baptist college's cafeteria, sat in a boxed-off area, fed school food, and are then obliged to listen to speakers (one of which this year was my boss) until we're released to go home.

The selling point (blog-wise) of last year's luncheon was the fact that my friend and workmate San innocently made a completely off-color remark to me that made me lose all control and sit for 20 minutes at our table with tears of laughter running down my cheeks, while everyone in the boxed-off area wondered what the hell the mayor could be saying about new businesses coming into town that was so damn funny.

This year, our table included the stalwart TheCompanyIWorkFor girls (God, how they must hate to see us come into the boxed-off area), a lady who was making her first visit to the luncheon, and a newly-elected town councilman.

And I got started off bang-zoom on the wrong foot when the councilman happily asked us all what we thought of the new signs as you're heading into B'field's downtown area, announcing Downtown B'field's Business And Shopping District. The boss expressed her pleasure at the loveliness of these signs, and I couldn't help myself and said, "The signs themselves are great - too bad they waited until the town died to put them up."

Well, this did not go over well with the boss. She tried to happily debunk my statement and make me say I was just joking, but I wasn't about to do that. Hey, I vote, I'm a Town Citizen, and if a guy doesn't want to hear me piss and moan about the death of our downtown area, he shouldn't run for councilman. I think I went on to say the signs should have said "Welcome to Downtown, Former Home Of The Town Hall, Former Home Of The Local Hardware And TV Repair Stores, Former Home Of The Only Grocery Store Local Old People Could Walk To...." It's to the boss's credit, I suppose, that she didn't kick me under the table.

Later in the ceremonies, during the boss's speech, she was telling people about some committee or other, and if anyone wanted to volunteer to be on the committee they could contact Mr A or Mr B. Now, Mr B is one of the most odious weasels the town has to offer, so without thinking I turned to San and uttered, "I wouldn't contact Mr B if I was on fire and he had the only bucket of water in town." Little did I know that our newly elected councilman heard every word I'd said. And was smiling a smile I didn't know quite how to take. It was either an "I'm right with you on that" smile or an "I can't wait to get back to town and tell him what you said" smile, or a "You cantankerous little cretin" smile. Or maybe it was just an "I picked the wrong table to sit at" smile.

Then I got to thinking about how Mr Newly-Elected Councilman was a client of ours and that maybe I should shut my big trap and be a nice girl. And so I was, making the happy gesture of giving away my door prize, a bouquet of flowers, to the lady at our table who was making her first visit to the luncheon.

I hope that made up for things. Hey, I told you I've been cranky lately.

I think my dad would have been proud.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And now the real reason I blogged - acrowinners! We have acrowinners! And so, what did ooze out of Keith Richards's head during his brain surgery?
- Honorable Mention goes to q.o.a.t.i.p with her "Bluish Puss of Earwax. EEWWW!" Ewww indeed! Thanks for playing!
- Runner-Up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Benevolently Protected Ordered Elks? Egads!" I love the thought that Keith Richards could be in the Elks.
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her "British Pounds, Olde English, Englebert." Yep, I could imagine all those stored in his bean. And I'd been wondering where Englebert was lately. He's dead, you know. No he isn't. Actually, he is. No, he's out there in LA, doin' his thing! (Thanks, Eddie Izzard.)
- And thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!

Monday, May 08, 2006


Hello, acroers! And welcome to another cold, rainy Monday edition of acromania.

You know, everyone's favorite "was supposed to be dead 25 years ago but is still hangin' in there like nobody's business" celebrity, Keith Richards, fell and hurt his head. And I just read where he's got to have surgery on it to make it all better.

Can you imagine what a fascinating experience that will be for those doctors? I mean, opening up the cranium of Keith Richards and having 40 years of psychedelic trips come oozing out? I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it's like that episode of Monty Python where they do surgery on a guy and there's a whole commune of hippie squatters living inside him.

And so this week's acrotopic is, "So What Will Come Oozing Out Of Keith Richards's Head?"

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 has no head. His brain is located throughout his many strands of wicker. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading over the entries and choosing the winners, who will receive an autographed picture of ... me! What, you think I could get one of Keith Richards? He's in the hospital having head surgery, for cryin' out loud. The non-winners can have an autographed picture of me, too. Autographs of me all around!

Again, the topic is, "So What Will Come Oozing Out Of Keith Richards's Head?" The letters:


Now, stop playing air guitar and get to acroing.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I'm full. I ate too fast.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, weekend people of all types. You "get out and do active things" weekenders, and you "vegetate at home and watch TV" weekenders, and you all know on which side you stand. Or lie on the couch. Welcome to another (small) round of Picture Sunday.

Well, it may be spring in full-force, but you certainly couldn't tell it by the weather in Betland and surrounding areas. Mr M was nice enough to re-schedule his morning student till later, so I got an hour's reprieve from being kicked out of his house today, with his arm around my neck and his foot in my backside, right out the front door, and me whimpering like a puppy. (Was that good enough, Mr M? He told me to tell you all how I was kicked out today.)

And into the rain. And chilliness. I decided to lift my spirits and ignore the weather, so I went on a little shopping spree with some of my tax refund money. Bought some clothes, pants, shirts, and shoes. Then put up my hood, for it was cold enough to have to wear a jacket (sigh, how I miss my Chicago Symphony windbreaker), headed to Barnes and Noble, found nothing, then put up my hood again and headed to a craft store, where I bought some new storage boxes for my car CDs, a new hat for Mr Peabody (if you'll recall, I lost his German hat in a drunken stupor at Oktoberfest last year), and a little something else.

The last time Mr M and I were at this store we found something, and I debated buying it then. But today was the day for purchases and so it came home with me. And I worked all afternoon (along with a little red-headed boy) painting and personalizing it. And that's why there's only one picture tonight. Say hello to the crew of the SS Sherman.

Yes, he's ready to sail the Seven Seas, or at least the creek in my backyard. And by the way, never a good idea to put a blue dog in a boat. He may be smiling in that picture, but the clean-up was not pleasant, and the boat wasn't even going anywhere.

And speaking of not going anywhere, how about the recipe du jour. You know, it's getting harder and harder to find healthy things to eat. Beef clogs your arteries and gives you Mad Cow Disease, fish has mercury and fish doo in it, chicken gives you bird flu.... That's why in the interest of the health and waistlines of my readers I'm giving you a recipe made with "The Other Other White Meat." No, it's not pork, it's cork. Say hello to, from the "Low-Cal Feasts" file in recipeland, Cork Ka-bobs.

No additives, no preservatives, no fats, no sugars. No taste, either, but that's beside the point. Our main course tonight is in fact Cork Ka-bobs. You take a skewer and add your favorite ka-bob ingredients, we used green pepper, onion, little tomatoes, and bananas, and alternate those with your cork pieces. (We used extra-lean cork for this dish. Because we care.) Then you marinate them in some Italian dressing, and put them in the broiler just long enough that they don't catch fire and burn your house down. Tonight's meal is served with the side dish of Cork on the Cob (butter optional), and for dessert, Cork Cakes topped with chocolate frosting. The chocolate frosting took on a very "Beatle Wig" appearance, so for this blog our Cork Cakes are called John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Only 6 days till the first Sauerkraut Band concert of the year. Woo-hoo!
* Completed the new Ingmar Bergman movie tonight. Had to make Mr M stop it midway last night because I just couldn't take the angst any longer. It was still all there waiting for me tonight.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Sizzler

God knows I love my male readers. I don't hate men, though certain of them may get up my snout from time to time, but I'm sure I get up theirs as well. And so, I don't want to tell my male readers to leave Betland, to vacate the premises and let us women take control of the rides. I'm just saying that at this time they may want to congregate at the snack bar, or take a cosmic trip to the bathroom.

I'm a woman of a mature age. If you haven't figured this out about me yet, you're way behind in your blog reading. For I seem to mention it in about half the blogs I write. I'm in my mid-forties, and even though I live a little like a twenty-something, without many of the responsibilities of a mature woman, which is kind of pathetic when you think about it, I get along OK, I suppose. Actually, I live a little like a twenty-something without benefit of the sex. Or the drugs. I guess instead of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, I'm Abstinence, Coffee, and Bluegrass.

Anyway, as a mature woman, age-wise if not emotionally, I've been having a bit of a problem of late. And now that the men are ensconced at the snack bar, I'll tell you what it is.

I seem to be having quite the rash of hot flashes.

Now, hot flashes are one of those "joke items" in the world of What Women Talk About In General. And I've been joking about them too, even as I'm having them. Because if I don't, well, it's joke or die, and I'm not ready to die quite yet.

I knew that these little fiendish things existed, and that women of my age and even younger suffered from them. And I guess I knew as well that I wasn't getting any younger, and that even though I don't really think of myself as old I was going down that long path and the view behind me was getting pretty damn distant. But somehow I just never imagined myself as being one of those women who fanned themselves and went "whoo" and sat around with their legs sprawling apart.

But I've kind of become one.

And I wasn't really prepared for it all.

I guess what I wasn't prepared for was - well, I've heard women talk about hot flashes and seen women have them. But I just thought a hot flash consisted of getting hot. You know, you're going through your regular day and all of a sudden you get really hot and then you cool off and go back to your day. It doesn't work like that.

Trouble is, I don't know if I can really explain what it does work like.

Because when one gets hot in a hot flash, it's not like going outside and standing in the sun. It's more like the bowels of hell have been put in a cast-iron pot over a flame, with a healthy helping of humidity and a dash of heart attack stirred in, and the whole thing has been sat right there in your central nervous system. Then you get the sweat, the palpitations, the near emotional breakdown, the breathing through gauze, and just when you think you can't take it anymore, it subsides to the point where you think you might live after all. For about another half hour, when it all starts again.

So I've been trying to cope with the world of the hot flash. And it's not working well.

I have my little "flash fan," as I call it, a little battery-powered hand-held fan I flip on at work and hold right up to my face to dry the sweat and cool my face a little, and sure, it helps, but they don't make those in the "full body" size. Which I suppose would negate it being hand-held, but I'd put up with the inconvenience.

At home it's worse. Because at home I tend to try to soothe myself by upping and downing the heat and air conditioning. This is a very bad thing to do, mainly because you're fighting a losing battle and you know you're fighting a losing battle even while you're doing it, but also because I'm afraid I'm going to break my furnace, heat pump, and thermostat all at once, which would be expensive and cause me to have no at-home treatments to my flashes other than jumping into the creek in my back yard. And it's muddy, and probably also has a lot of duck doo in it.

But here are the worst things in the world of the hot flash. The Unholy Triumvirate, the three things that make me wonder many times daily just why God, Mother Nature, or Earth Science, whichever you take to, must hate us women so much. Ladies, most of you who read me are younger than I, and so this may read like scary science fiction to you right now, but don't be like I was in my younger years and think this will not happen to you.

1 - Naked In An Igloo or Swathed in Wool In Hell. This is a little slice of heaven wherein as a woman gets to be my age, there is no happy medium of temperature. I'm never comfortable anymore. I'm either freezing, and need a jacket, blankie, or to stick my arms inside my shirt to cuddle up to myself for warmth, or I'm burning the fuck up, and taking off jackets, blankets, socks, shirts, hair clips, or rolling my pajama pants above the knee. And for added laughs, just when you get to the point where you've done one of those and are starting to feel normal, the other begins.

2 - Get Offa Me! This is one of the weirder highlights in the world of the hot flash. This is where, for me anyway, the moment a hot flash begins, I feel like I've been jumped from behind and someone is hanging off my back. Therefore I have to get out of anything, everything that's causing me to feel so oppressed. If I'm in my little office there at TheCompanyIWorkFor, I have to immediately pop up out of my chair like I've been goosed, and basically I have, and get out of the office. Because it's suddenly become roughly the size of a sleeping bag. If I'm in my car I have to open a window because it's suddenly like being in a thermos. Hell, even if I'm outside, my clothes are suddenly some sort of flannel-lined iron maiden, with locks I have no keys for, and, well, it's no fun feeling like the Hands of God Themselves are around your throat, squeezing, and no matter how hard you're reaching up for them, they're not about to budge.

3 - Beached Whale At Midnight. This is the worst. This is the piece de resistance, my buddies, the one that makes a woman wonder what in the hell she has done to deserve. This is the hilarious laff-riot wherein the hot flashes go into super overdrive the minute I go to bed. It doesn't matter what I've chosen to wear to bed, what the covers consist of, whether windows are up or down - nothing. I go to bed as usual, then fall off into a slight sleep, 10 minutes after which I wake up with a start, on fire, kicking off covers and flailing my arms around. Then I lie there in bed, bloated, sweaty, heart pounding, panting, just like in the clips of those poor beached whales you see on CNN, the ones with ropes tied to them and people pulling like nobody's business trying to get back into the sea. Then things die down a little bit, and drowsiness sets back in, and I realize just how absolutely freezing I am there with my pajama pants legs pushed up and no covers, so I cover back up and roll into a comfy position, only to fall asleep, for 10 minutes, then - well, you get the idea. This goes on over and over and over. All fucking night long. I sleep about two hours a night, in ten minute stretches, and is it really any wonder I need all those alarm clocks set at different times to try to get me up and to work within an hour of the time I'm actually supposed to be there. The Beached Whale At Midnight is the biggie because it's all-encompassing. It's itself (no sleep), the Get Offa Me (pajamas and blankets), and the Naked In An Igloo Or Swathed In Wool In Hell (freezing and burning with each sleep and wake) all rolled into one.

I either can't eat one morsel of food in a day's time, or I can't find enough food to shove in my cakehole to satisfy myself. Some days even drinking my morning coffee is a chore, and others I could eat the Golden Gate Bridge, then, after a healthy burp, head off to eat Alcatraz for dessert.

My parents probably think I hate them, because I'm so cranky all the time. This is because, as you know, they love to stare at me, and when they do this now I just want to poke both of their eyes out. Both sets. Four eyes, all poked out with my fingers, with me laughing maniacally. I'm not the nice pushover at work everyone used to want to speak to on the phone. I actually smarted off to someone this week, but he was such a cantankerous dolt I'm sure he didn't realize I was even doing it, which I'll admit took some of the satisfaction of doing it away.

Only my dear co-workers, women all older than myself, understand me. They let me be as bitchy as I want, as long as they can be bitchy right back at me. Tuesday was one of those days in our office where all three of us dragons were having serious flashing problems. We were hostile. We were women on a rampage. And we decided amongst ourselves that the only relief we were going to get from how we felt was if we could kill somebody.

We debated it over most of the day. At one point we were mulling just killing the next person who randomly walked in, but that could be someone we (at least once, before all this) liked, or a family member, or a police officer.

We finally decided we'd kill Richard, who works in the regional offices of TheCompanyIWorkFor. Richard is the laziest, dumbest, most mush-mouthed employee at any regional office of TCIWF, and the smiles on our faces when we decided we'd kill him lit the enitre room. (Or that might have been the collective heat coming off all of us at a given time.) Each of us was in silent reflecting thought, hoping it would be our own kick or punch or knife in the sinuses that would be the final blow, the one that did him off.

Then we got to talking about it some more and realized that Richard was a good four hours from us, we'd have to close down the office and drive all that way, and somewhere in all that time we'd probably lose heart and decide not to do it, to let him live, then we'd just end up going out to eat and getting drunk once we got to the town where RegionalCompanyWeWorkFor is, and we'd have to drive home all dejected and hungover, and then when we got back home - we'd still have to deal with Richard on a regular basis.

And the trip home would take all day because we'd have to keep stopping the car so we could get out and fan and flail our arms.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* New Hucklebug podcast! http://hucklebug.blogspot.com or iTunes!
* I got my hair cut really short tonight. Shorter than it's been in years. Hopefully, it'll help when things get hot. Oh, who am I kidding....

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hee Hee Hee Haw Haw Haw

Sunday morning as I was gathering my stuff in preparation for being kicked out of Mr M's house (I love ya, Mr M), I decided that I didn't want to see Condoleeza Rice on "Face The Nation." I mean, I really didn't want to see Condoleeza Rice on "Face The Nation." I don't want to see Condoleeza Rice on anything, except maybe a barbecue spit.

So I flipped to one of the - big news at Poderosa East - four channels Mr M gets. Yes, he's gone from three channels to four, we've no idea how or why the fourth started coming in, but it's a Fox affiliate, so I guess maybe it's not as big news as it could be. Now, if he suddenly started getting Turner Classic Movies on his TV, without benefit of cable, that would be some big news.

First I flipped to Blue Ridge Public Television, which calls itself BRP-TV and Mr M calls Burp-TV, and there were two women getting so excited over making a purse it made me uncomfortable. Then I went to that new Fox channel, and there was some program wherein a woman was entrapping two other men into paying her for sex, while some people watched from the hallway on a remote camera and giggled. And then I hit the NBC affiliate out of R'noke. They were having an infomercial.

It was an infomercial for a set of DVDs of the old TV show "Hee Haw."

Now, I don't know, some of you out there might not be from a rural area, or may have grown up in families with taste, and you may not know much about "Hee Haw." I think when it made its first appearance on CBS lo those many years ago it was billed as the Hayseed "Laugh-In." And that's basically what it was. A cast of lovable loonies, regular skits, corny jokes, with the addition of enough country music to make you want to go have big hair.

And yes, I watched "Hee Haw." I'd like to be all chic and nonchalant and say, "Eh, 'Hee Haw.' I was above that." But I wasn't, and there's no reason to lie about it. Then again, I was also a tender 9 years old when it came out, so I hadn't really discovered Fellini and Kurosawa, either, not that I would have understood them if I had. (I have my troubles now.) So Buck (Owens) and Roy (Clark) and the Whole Hee Haw Gang were good enough for me.

For about a year. Then, sadly, "Hee Haw" lost its lustre. And I, my sister, and my cousin Jacob got on to bigger and better things. However, there was hardly a Saturday in my youth that didn't involve Mamaw Bowles in some form or other, either we were at her house or she was at ours, and Mamaw Bowles loved "Hee Haw." She loved "Hee Haw" like a new pair of shoes. Size 5, patent leather, with a small heel.

And so "Hee Haw" went on for years and years, it had the audacity to keep going even after Mamaw Bowles passed away, which I thought was quite rude of them, and many of my formative years involved Saturdays watching "Hee Haw." Well, it kept me off the streets.

"Hee Haw" had, as I said before, lovable loonies and regular skits. Lovable loonies like Grandpa Jones, String Bean, Archie Campbell, the not-so-ubiquitous Hager Twins, who got to sing a rockin' - but with a country twang - song every three or so weeks, George "Goober" Lindsey, Gordie Tapp, the "Hee Haw Announcement Girl" Cathy Baker ("That's All!"), and a bevy of brainless, busty, interchangeable, barely-dressed, prostitutional-looking beauties.

The skits included such comedic gems as The Culhanes, a soap opera involving a family who sat on the couch and talked, What's For Supper, where Grandpa Jones would give us a poem about his evening meal, Have You Heard From Home, where String Bean would read us a letter from his family, The Lazy Men, where four men laid around talking about being lazy, and You Met Another and *Pbbt!* You Were Gone, where Archie Campbell would sing a little song, sometimes with a regular loony and sometimes with the guest star du jour. And the "Hee Haw" version of the "Laugh-In" joke wall was the cornfield, where people would pop up and tell jokes while banjo music played in the background.

And although I went from watching "Hee Haw" in earnest to watching it with one eye to being forced to watch it to hating to watch it, I watched it. And that infomercial of Sunday brought back some heady memories, let me tell you. Especially the clips of people being hit in the ass with the "joke fence," the one-person version of the cornfield, and the clips of a beardless Waylon Jennings, and Loretta Lynn singing the oh-so politically incorrect "Your Squaw Is On The Warpath."

Singers on "Hee Haw" got great sets to sing in. Sometimes they'd be in a barn, surrounded by haystacks, and sometimes they'd be on the porch of a big country house. Or they sang with fake woodsy scenery behind them, just like they were singing down by the crick.

I didn't think much about the "Hee Haw" infomercial once I left Mr M's. Until yesterday at work, when I was covered up with various tasks and trying very hard to concentrate, which of course means my mind immediately flows to places I specifically asked it not to go.

But go it did, right to "Hee Haw," and I had an amazingly brilliant idea. They need to bring back "Hee Haw." The time is not only right for this, it's perfect.

For some reason, in this country there seems to be a sort of "White Trash Revival" going on. I don't know why this is, there's no logical explanation for it, but there's no explanation for bell-bottoms and halter tops, either. My philosophy in regards to this is, "We suffered through all this in the seventies so you don't have to today." But no one listens to me.

So. "Hee Haw Revisited." "Hee Haw in the 21st Century." "Hee Fuckin' Haw," or whatever they want to call it.

Now, right off the bat, I wouldn't even begin to assume that we could replace Grandpa Jones or String Bean. They were irreplacable, they were shining stars of corn, they were lovable in a way that none of today's celebrities are. To try and bring two guys in to be the new Grandpa or String would send a television programmer straight to hell, though he's probably going there anyway when you consider some of what TV has to offer these days, but this would have him in his own special "extra hot" room.

Being Grandpa- and String-less means we'll have to have two really good hosts. Personable, can sing, and slop the hokum with the best of them. I suggest we dust off Jim Stafford, who always used to make me laugh, and add Ricky Skaggs, who seems pleasant enough and plays all kinds of instruments, he can be the Roy Clark of the team. Not that we're losing Roy. He's still around, with hair plugs and everything, and so he can be the papa emeritus of the lovable loonies. Sadly, Buck's no longer with us, so he'll have to watch from that Big TeeVee in the Sky, along with Grandpa and String. And Archie. And Johnny and June and Minnie Pearl and Junior and just about everyone else from the old days.

The cast of lovable loonies can be filled with such high-profile rednecks as Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, the four guys from the Blue Collar Comedy Tour - Jeff Foxworthy, Ron White, Larry the Cable Guy, and the other one, whose name escapes me - oh, Bill Engvall - Fred Durst, Paris Hilton (I don't care how rich she is, she's perfect for the new "Hee Haw"), Pamela Anderson (if she'll be on the same show with Kid R), the guy who played Enos on "The Dukes of Hazzard," and southern actor Danny Thomason, who played Reggie Mac Dawson on "Designing Women." Of course, George Goober Lindsey would be there too, I'm not sure he's ever really left the studio after the original went off the air. And think of the sheer numbers of bimbo starlets in Hollywood nowadays. Any number of them could be the bevy of new "Hee Haw" beauties, as interchangeable as the original show's.

Of course, the country music world would get a shot at being lovable loonies as well. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill could play bickering marrieds, I don't know much about those Big and Rich guys, but they look very high-profile low-rent America, Gretchen Wilson had a song called "Redneck Woman," for God's Sake. Wynona Judd is just looking for a breakout comedy career, Kenny Rogers and his new face could show up, Travis Tritt, Bill Anderson (and his toupee) from the old days, Billy Ray Cyrus and his mullet need a comeback, Dolly Parton would fit in just nicely, and of course, The Queen herself, Loretta, would be a part of it all.

And my choice for the new Cathy Baker? The "Hee Haw Announcement Girl?" None other than recently booted "American Idol" wannabe Kellie Pickler, the ditzy blonde from North Carolina who knows not what a "minx" is, nor the term "ballsy," nor "a cameo appearance," nor "calamari," nor the phrase, "it looks good on paper." Who had no problems admitting she'd never heard any Stevie Wonder songs till he showed up on the damn "Idol" program. I can't wait to see her get hit in the ass by the joke fence.

Wouldn't it be a hoot and a half to see The Lazy Men laying around, with jugs of moonshine and a bloodhound nearby, Kid Rock, Kevin Federline, Tim McGraw, and Larry the Cable Guy? Or Billy Ray Cyrus singing "You Met Another and *Pbbt!* You Were Gone" with Jeff Foxworthy, or whatever NASCAR driver or WWF wrestler came along to hang out for a week?

And of course, Ashton Kutcher could come in one week, donning his trucker hat and dragging along Demi, and he could Punk Jim Stafford or Ricky Skaggs. Or Fred Durst, after which a haystack-clearing brawl would go on till the next commercial break.

And along with your regular musical guests, all those hatted and haired folks you can see any day on CMT, every once in a while the producers could throw in a real surprise, like Robbie Fulks. I'd just love to see him on the new "Hee Haw," tearing up "Cigarette State," there in the barn set, surrounded by hay. He'd burn that barn down, I tell ya.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what strange things can be washed?
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie, with "Take heed. Love olives washed sudsy."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with "That happy little olive woman's skin."
- And this week's winner goes to DeepFatFriar, with "Teri Hatcher's lonely ocelot without spots."
- Thanks to all who played! You all had great acros!

Monday, May 01, 2006


Hello, welcome to Monday, and holy shit, I almost forgot about acromania! Sorry. Busy night at the Pod.

Well, guess what I did tonight. I had my house washed. It had at 4 ½ years of grime built up onto it, and my friend and workmate San's husband said he'd pressure wash it for me. He showed up as I was getting home from work, toiled for 3 ½ hours, and now - well, let me tell you. If I lived in Cartoonland, my house would have little white sparkling gleamies coming from it. I cleaned inside while he cleaned outside, but I finished first so I sat in the Comfy Chair and watched a movie and drank a martini while he finished up. It was cool. I felt like the Poderosa was going through a big automatic house-wash. The water and soap spraying onto the windows was more fun to watch than the movie. So I did.

And so, in honor of my newly-clean house, tonight's acrotopic is "Strange Things To Get Washed."

All the other rules are the same, everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not matches the topic above, but also the letters below which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket dry cleans. Then tomorrow at 10pm est I shall be reading over the entries and naming the winners, who will get something odd in their lives washed, and the non-winners, who, well, I guess shall remain dirty.

The acrotopic is "Strange Things To Get Washed." The letters:


Now, get out of the shower and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The music corner of my living room is now clean! It's clean, I tell you!