Monday, July 31, 2006


Hello, you acrobabies. Welcome to another "Bet is wet because she swam laps, lost count in the middle somewhere, but still ended on a multiple of three" round of acromania.

I just happened over to LilyG's blog, and found a post there that contained - her obituary! (She got the link from Flipsycab.) Yep, you can go to Quiz Galaxy and get yourself one too, if you like, and I did just that very thing.


'What will your obituary say?' at

Now, mine would be not only funny, but also quite true, if not for one thing. Apparently the Quiz Galaxy people think I'm more than one person. And maybe I am these days, who knows.

Anyway, when I saw this little thing here, I knew it would be this week's acrotopic. And so it shall. "What Will Your Obituary Say?"

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. "He was a fine basket, loved by all the letters he held." Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will die immediately and we'll use their obituaries in their local papers, and the non-winners, who shall live to play again.

So the topic, "What Will Your Obituary Say?" The letters:


Now. Stop sitting there like you're dead - acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Oh my. As hard as I've tried, I have no Olympic Update for tonight. I'm having chili for dinner. There.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, Sunday Nighters, and welcome to it. Another round of Picture Sunday. And you know how Stennie & I apologized in advance for last week's edition of the Hucklebug podcast? Well, you've already figured out where this is going, right? Yep, I'm sorry, too. This may well be the most boring edition of Picture Sunday yet. But it is what it is. I can't hit the bullseye every week, you know.

Now, see that guy up there? The maroon thing with his chest all puffed out? Well, if you live around here, he's a familiar sight. That's Hokie Bird, Virginia Tech's mascot. He's a gobbler, in case you didn't decipher that on your own.

A few months ago I was tooling around B'burg and saw something a little odd. I saw a statue of a very psychedelic Hokie Bird. In fact, here's the little fella I saw.

And isn't he cute, with a route sign on him, and a cow on one leg, and a horsie (without a mask, I'm assuming, though I could be wrong) on the other? The sign beside him was advertising something called Gobble Art, where apparently businesses and rich people can call up these folks and have their very own weirdly-painted Hokie Birds made to order. And you know something? It seems to be catching on, because they just keep springing up. Oh, yeah - this is where this is all going.

There's one outside the convenience store right on G Road where I always fill podmobile2 up with gas....

He's quite rural, wouldn't you say?

Then, one appeared right in the middle of town, outside Henderson Lawn, across the street from the Lyric Theater.

He's probably my favorite, because he seems to have roads all over him.

Then one sprung up on Draper Road.

He's wearing a little suit!

Then there's the one in front of a tatoo parlor in town. Tattooed, I'm not so sure about, he actually looks more like he's been boiled in oil, or maybe he represents how one feels after getting a tattoo, not that I'd know.

Ouch! Skinless Hokie Bird.

And finally, this one now sits outside a dentist's office on Main Street. He's without a doubt the most colorful Hokie Bird around.

I think this dentist's a little on the wild side. I'm not sure I want him working around in my mouth with pointed instruments.

I don't know. It just strikes me a little funny, seeing where one will turn up next. If any more show up, I'll be sure not to print their pictures here. I'm not that mean.

You know, I've been a bad girl today. I hot-footed it home from Mr M's so Stenns and I could get a podcast going (yes! there will a podcast tonight, an "instacast," we're calling it), then I immediately went to the folks' house to swim my first 60-lap swim of the season (and boy, are my arms tired), and then my mom cajoled me into staying for dinner.

It's not that I wasn't thinking of you, really. I mean, look at all those Hokie Birds up there! How could I not be thinking of you! I just wasn't thinking much of the recipe du jour. So I hope you'll all understand as I present this week's recipe. It's from the "You've Been Bad!" file at cardland, and, well, say hello to "No Dinner For You Tonight!"

Now, there are a few ways you can take this. You can take it this way: You're all fine folks, and none of you have been bad. I've been bad, and so the card is aimed at me. Or this way: We've all been there, right? Bad kid, no dinner. Or, possibly the best way to take it is this: Considering some of what you've seen in the past, Cream of Pickle Soup, Mashed Potato Cottages, Fish Muddle.... Hey, I'm giving you a break this week. Being bad maybe isn't such a, well, bad thing.

I'll do better next time.

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* As I said above, if you'll give her just another hour or so for editing, you can go here and listen to Week 18 of the Hucklebug podcast. Or you can go to iTunes and subscribe. Do it. You know you want to.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Friday Fun

OK. I'll bite. This one comes from the everpresent Stennie, well, actually that's a lie, she nor I are everpresent on the podcast, because we'll be missing you this week and next. I hope the network hasn't put us on hiatus. That's a sure sign of cancellation, you know.

Anyway, here are the rules:

1. Go to your blog archives.
2. Find your 23d post.
3. Find the 5th sentence.
4. Print the text of that sentence.

Now, this is so dumb it almost defies description, only it's described right there above. It's so dumb it, well, it kind of intrigues me. Here I go.

It's from June 1st, 2002.

"I was busy beating Mr M in two games of Scrabble in a row (hahahaha), and I watched TV."

Boy, how my life has changed since then. We hardly ever play Scrabble anymore.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Well, seems Mr OutOfStater did in fact call corporate on us from Wednesday's heaving and hoing. The call was directed to our field office manager, who spoke to the boss, got the scoop, and said, "She did the absolute correct thing. If he should happen to return, give him his faxed out of state information and directions to a neighboring representative." Wow. I think I won.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

She's a Witch! No, She's Nice!

My job is killing me. I know I've said that before and none of you believe me, but I swear, when I'm dead I'm putting "Told You So" on my tombstone. Or I don't know, maybe I'll just end up in an institution, spending my waning years babbling and making baskets. Please tell me what color you'd like, and I'll see what I can come up with for you.

I had an interesting occurrence there at the old offices of TheCompanyIWorkFor today. Ended the day with a bang. I had to throw someone out of the office.

Now, I've never done this before. I've seen it done once and it's even been done on my behalf once. I've also been witness to our calling the police when a man threatened to come down to see us and kick all our asses until we were as flat as little pancakes. But I've never done it on my own.

And I'll get to that later, but let's talk about me and my job a little. If you don't mind, of course.

When I have job evaluations, they always end up with the same spiel. "Your clerical skills are top-notch. However, you're a lousy salesperson, and I can't figure out why because you have the most excellent people skills. People love you!" And of course I refuse to believe this, I think everyone hates me, but that's just me, but on those rare occasions I'll deal with someone or diffuse a sticky situation and think, "Wow. I kinda did that well."

I had a couple of those experiences this very week. The first happened with Mr Redhat. He came in last week to get quoted and written up, and I did that, the quoting anyway, did it well, placed him exactly where our trusty TheCompanyIWorkFor systems told me to, and he was happy. He was coming in this past Friday to get everything set up. After he left, the boss said, "I thought we couldn't do him, remember?" And she went on to tell me some reason he'd tried to become our client before but was refused. Why she waited until he left the office happy, and didn't motion for me to come up to her office to tell me while he was there, I'll never know. Yes, I do know. She didn't want to deal with any confrontation over it. She wanted me to handle it.

So Friday came, and Mr Redhat appeared, and I told him up front there might be a problem. I explained it, and said there was a way I could double-check everything with a back-up questionnaire on the computer's application. I went to that section, asked him all the questions, answered them, and yep, there it was, "A-OK! We Want This Person!" So I wrote him and he was still happy.

Monday I got an email from someone in Regional telling me, "Nope, not A-OK. We don't want him. We will, however, take him at almost double the price." And I cussed and the boss said nyah nyah or whatever she says, and I felt like dirt. Because I was going to have to call Mr Redhat. Which I did, left him a message, and he was in the office within the hour. I told him the news, and he was suddenly no longer happy. He wasn't very happy at all, and I can't say I blame him, and he ranted a while and I listened, and then he said, "What do I do?" And I was very honest with him about it all, because, well, I'm that way.

I first told him how much we'd love his business. I then told him some things about what he had at TheCompanyHeWasWithBefore, and how he could probably save some money staying there, and then after six months he could come back to us with the rate we'd given him before, and that would be the most beneficial to him, and that he had a little time to think about it all, and we'd be here now or six months from now, whichever he liked best.

And his answer took me by surprise. "I really thank you for being so honest, and I like you all way more than the other people, so let's just sign me up at the higher price today." And I did, and he ended up staying in the office till the end of the day, showing me pictures of his daughter and talking about the trials of parenting. So, a person who came in my office very unhappy left it being my best buddy.

Then there was the case of Mrs Store. Mrs Store is unhappy her claim is taking too long to handle, and I agree, kind of. It's about 40% her fault and 60% ours. And she knows there's not a thing I can do about it, but I seem to be in the middle of it anyway and she calls me every three or four days and we talk.

And she did that today, not exactly happy, but not ranting and raving. And I listened again, and gave her my honest opinions of what she should do and what I hoped our claims people would do, and we swapped stories of how stormy it's been outside lately and her husband's health, and she ended the conversation with, "Listen, I know this isn't your doing, but I sure do appreciate your letting me call you up and get all this off my chest. It really helps." And I told her to call me anytime she wanted to, and yes, I meant it, and she left the phone happy.

So see? I'm nice. But I guess I have my limits.

Now to the throw-out. The old heave-ho. OK, first of all, let me explain a little of how it works at TheCompanyIWorkFor. I'll keep this as brief as possible. I'll give you enough background info to keep you apprised, but not so much that you'll get bored.

The systems at TCIWF are thusly: at the end of the day we do the bank deposit. The bank deposit software renders just about everything else on our computers useless. We can't take payments, do changes, do applications, do transfers, do much of anything, really. We can look up a client and say, "Yep, there you are!" That's about it. Also, because we're all women, once four women, then three, then normally two, and today it was two, we are forbidden to say, "Our computers won't let us do anything because we're doing a bank deposit." This is because that statement implies that there are indeed large sums of cash being counted only a few feet away. And sometimes that's true. It's very, very true. So the party line we've been taught to toe is, "I'm sorry, but our systems are down."

And so there we were, San and I, and I had started the bank deposit. I was right in the thick of things, tallying and counting and punching buttons. And a man came in the office. We'll call him Mr OutOfStater. Now, I was in the back, so I wasn't catching every word of what was transpiring, but there were two things that struck me about Mr OOS. First, he seemed to come into the office speaking the middle of some sentence that had San really confused, and second, he was really leaning on her hard. I knew this because when someone is starting to back San up against the wall, she starts with the "sirs." And I heard "sir" all over the place. "I'm sorry, sir, but our systems are down and, sir, if that's what you need, sir, well, sir, we can't really do it right now, sir."

Then San popped her head back into my office and said, "Did you catch any of that?" And when I told her only bits, she went on to explain Mr OOS's situation. He was from another state and needed to pay immediately, this was his last day, she said, and needed to transfer here to this state, immediately, and she didn't know what to do.

I thought for a minute, and came up with this idea. "Well, we're pretty much shot for the day, what-we-can-do-wise, but if we can find out exactly what he owes in his other state, I'll take that, get a little of his local information, and we can complete the paperwork tomorrow. Might not be the exact amount, but it'll be close enough to get things done." A logical and rather brilliant idea, I thought. Surely that would make him happy.

Well, by the sound of his constant ya-ya'ing in the front office, I pretty much realized that nothing was going to make Mr OOS happy. But San went and tried to tell him all this, while I went back to the bank deposit, working it now like a nervous sun-visored bank attendant with a rifle sticking up his ass. San talked to his other state's office, who said it definitely was not his last day to pay but that's beside the point, I guess if he wanted to pay he wanted to pay, and that they'd fax us all his information. And so San began that long walk back to that little machine of hate, the fax machine.

And it took forever. That fax was as slow as molasses in January. And the whole time, Mr OOS was up front talking. To no one in particular, but to us, if you get my drift. And what he was saying got uglier and uglier, and I sat there and counted and sighed. The OOS rhetoric went from not believing someone didn't want his money, to maybe some other CompanyPeopleWorkedFor wanted it, to "Systems Are Down" being a euphemism for "It's Late And We're Tired Of Working," to something involving "The Biggest Bunch of Bullshit I've Ever Seen."

After an interminable amount of time the fax was printed, and San brought it up to me. And this is where things get interesting. Because Mr OOS stuck his head in the office in front of mine and said, "You said your systems were down and you're back there playing on the computer! You printed out my information!" To which we answered in unison, "It's a fax!" but it made no difference. He was off again on a new series of rants, and I never even got to the sheet where it told what amount of money Mr OOS owed. Because when I was on about sheet two of the fax, I heard it. Right from the front office.

"You're a bunch of fuckin' liars."

And I snapped.

"That's it!" I yelled, picking up the sheets and charging to the front office. I'm pretty liberal about temper and the bouncing of cusswords, mainly because I have no spine, but I'd had enough. I may drop the old f-word around the boss and San, but I'd never use it in front of a customer, so my rule is none of them uses it to me. I don't get paid enough for that kind of abuse.

I told Mr OOS that we were all trying to make the best of a bad situation here, and that we'd try and help him but if he didn't curb the language pronto, I'd ask him to leave.

Had kind of the opposite effect I was looking for. He went on a veritable "fuck" tangent, using it in every sentence he spoke. So I informed him that I wasn't the agent, but I was the office manager and today I was the boss. And those were my rules and they went. Stop the language now, or leave, or I'd call the police to make sure he did.

To make a long story short, he didn't. So I took another deep breath, told him that he was to leave and not come back, that if he wanted to remain with TheCompanyIWorkFor I'd suggest he try either representative in the two neighboring towns. To which he replied, "You don't think I'll call your fuckin' corporate office about this, do you?" and started out the door. To which, forgive me, I couldn't help myself and said after him, "Please do. Be sure to mention my name."

And that's how it ended. I went back and finished up a very dismal bank deposit, I don't even know what the bank will make of it tomorrow morning, and the rest of our systems "went down" for the day.

See, here's the thing. This man was going to have exactly what he needed, but he couldn't shut his trap for a good 30 seconds while anyone explained that to him. And he chose to get ugly, and I chose to get just as ugly right back. And that's pretty amazing. No one at the office has seen me snap. None of you has. In fact, I don't know if the amount of people who have can be counted on one hand. One finger! But I did today.

And I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but you know, I don't feel bad about it. In fact, I'm rather proud. I finally stood up for myself, stood up for San, and this poor guy bore the brunt of 20 years of my being stepped on by ugly customers. And he deserved it.

I also hope he calls corporate. I'd love to get a call from them and have a chance to explain myself. He probably just went off to a CompanySomeoneElseWorksFor, though. And I hope they enjoy him.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I'll let you know if anything else transpires.
* I also stopped by the folks' after work to swim 45 of the fastest, meanest, most violent laps I've ever done. I think I hurt the water. Mom gave me some green beans afterwards, though. Green beans can help a lot of things.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Oh, The Agony

On Friday, it was nearing 5:00 and I caught the boss loafing by surfing the internet looking for a pair of shoes. She does this. She has a shit-fit when I'm loafing on imdb or one of your fine blogs, but at any given time you can see her surfing for cruise deals and shoes. That woman loves a cruise, and hits the ships with the best shoes on the market. And I'd finished most of what was on my desk and was tired of working anyway, so I popped up behind her and we looked together.

See, we're both on the lookout for a certain shoe. Hers is a good walking shoe, one that doesn't look like a walking shoe but looks like a normal dress and skirt shoe, and mine is a cute pair of mary janes to wear with my new Sauerkraut Band dirndl. And on occasion, those two styles intermingled and we found ourselves oohing and ahhing over random shoes, and poo-pooing others, and laughing our asses off at yet others.

You know, there are some seriously ugly shoes floating around out there.

The boss was looking through the, yes, I'm not lying to you, 835 pages of the category of "comfort shoes." Some of these shoes, well, I refuse to believe there could be any comfort in them, they had spike heels four inches high, or wooden soles, and some looked like they were made basically of concrete. Then there were the sandals, of which the shoe for the picture-taking had to be a size 15, that looked like skis, or even boats that pulled skis, and some looked just like what your Mamaw would wear. Which I guess makes a lot of sense, because we all know Mamaws above anyone else need comfortable shoes.

But then, we ran across these shoes.

Now, these shoes are made by a company called MBT and I'm sure they're fine shoes and no mistake, and I have to admit there's not a style among them that doesn't look comfortable. But damn, are these some weird-looking shoes. This one was the first shoe we came upon, and my initial reaction was that it looked like one of those little flannel housebooties one wears in the wintertime. But then it hit me. It hit me, like a light pole falling onto my head, what they really looked like, and so I said it aloud.

"Those look like how kids draw feet in the second grade." And they do. They're just random unequal triangles of footwear.

And so we were off, in one of those gigglefests that make work worth going to on occasion.

"MBT - the shoe made specifically for the sufferer of Second Grade Feet!"

"No, I never got to serve in the army. I have Second Grade Feet."

"Oh, I don't know what I'm going to do. Last week, my youngest was diagnosed with Second Grade Feet."

Then we went on to decide that there needed to be a telethon, hosted by someone of the magnitude of Jerry Lewis himself, if there is indeed such a person out there, to eradicate the problem of The Heartbreak of Second Grade Feet. It could have its own holiday, Jerry takes Labor Day so maybe we'll give it Memorial Day, and all the C-list celebrities could come on and sing a little song while the toteboard lit up. And in between the entertainment, so to speak, there would be short films about individuals suffering through the scourge of SGF and what scientists were doing to help them. "Yes, little Chloe, brave Chloe, has gone through years of treatment, and we're happy to say she's been upgraded to Fourth Grade Feet! So we're making strides, people! But only if you give!"

And people would give. Because people are nice. And corporations, mainly those corporations who make the shoes with platforms and curvy wooden soles, would give thousands, bring those giant six-by-four-foot cardboard checks out to the host with pride. And maybe Second Grade Feet could be wiped from the earth.

But then MBT would have to go out of business. And the more I look at that little red and gray housebootie number, the more I like it. And I don't even have Second Grade Feet!

And sadly, I also don't have the $248.95 that these little housebooties cost.

So maybe I need a telethon. "Look at Bet. Bet has normal, adult drawing class feet. And she's rather poor. Please, if you can, dig into your pockets and give what you can, anything, to help our scientists give her some Second Grade Feet and we can buy her the housebooties she needs to make her life a little better."

You know, those shoes are actually kind of shaped like the state of Virginia. Could it be a more perfect fit for me, SGF or not?

Oh, well. They wouldn't go with my dirndl anyway. I found a pair of those, for a cool $39.99, but they're on backorder till at least August. I hope I keep my normal, adult drawing class feet till then.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what did the one model say to the other model?
- Honorable Mention goes to Jellybean, with her "Good one, Julia. Very elegant landing." (I love seeing models fall down.)
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her "God, overate. Jello, very extremely luscious." (Hello in Kansas, Lily!)
- And this week's winner goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her "Guicci? Only Jerseys. Versace? Elegant Laundry."
- Thanks to all who played! You've done very well!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Hello, hello. Hi to you letter lovers out there. It's Monday, and time for another round of acromania.

I got a phone call from my cousin Jacob tonight. That was a surprise, and the reason she called me was more of one. She was calling to tell me to turn my TV to NBC and watch an episode of "Project Runway." Now, I wouldn't watch "Project Runway" on a bet, and in fact, didn't even know what it was all about, but apparently one of the contestants this season is a designer who's very well-known in the Barbie World. So I turned over, and watched while we were talking and even continued to watch till the end of the show.

And that's where this week's acrotopic comes from. Of course, on this Runway show you have a lot of prissy designers making a dress, and that dress is shown on a model as she sashays down the runway. This week's acrotopic has limitless possibilities - it's "What Did The One Model Say To The Other Model?"

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 dated a tall, cylindrical wicker model back in the mid-80s. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will take a long walk down the runway in their best outfit for us all, and the non-winners, who will sit on the front row looking like, "I could have done better."

So, the topic, "What Did The One Model Say To The Other Model?" The letters:


So, stop striking a pose. Acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I'm tired. That's about all the update I have. Other than I watched a program about modeling and fashion.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello to all, and welcome to another lazy Sunday evening. Well, it was if you're me, I did absolutely sod-all today. I don't think I was even out of my pajamas until about 2:30pm. Anyway, it's time for Picture Sunday.

It's a small band of pictures tonight, starting with one I took last week while I was traversing G Road (Mr M's street) in B'burg. I didn't go to B'burg this weekend, which probably accounts for my incredible laziness. Podding around the house is fine, but I really do get lazy if I'm here too long. Anyway, back to the picture. Remember that horsie? Sure you do, come on, think a little. The horse I was telling you about in a field on G Road that wears a mask with no eyeholes in it. The horse I worry about on occasion, what he could have done that got his face bagged up like a country ham. Well, last Sunday I saw him yet again, in his mask, so I risked my life to stop right there on the very curvy G Road to take his picture.

See? See what I mean? That horse is blind! No eyeholes, no gauzed-over openings, nothing. That is a sightless horse. I hope he has a keen sense of hearing and smell.

My other pictures are from Friday night. Now, I have to tell you that while being lazy I also spent the weekend crawling out of my own skin, because I found out on Thursday night that my own very favorites the Hackensaw Boys were playing no less a venue than the Purple Fiddle in tiny Thomas, WV (remember that blog? go here 2/20, if you don't) not one, but two fabulous nights, Friday and Saturday. Well, not so fabulous for me, because I couldn't go.

Which is not to say I didn't see a fine band on Friday night. Our little town has something called Evening Shade every summer Friday at 7pm, where local musicians play for townies at the gazebo right on the corner of College & Virginia Avenues. And this Friday the musicians happened to be my dear nephew's band The Stetsons.

An odd evening, it was. The band came over to my sister and I and joked about their ever-changing demographic, because every time they play in town the audience gets older and older. On Friday the average age was about 70. After the very fine funk number with the rapid-fire lyrics, the lady in front of us shook her head and left. But a fine time was had by everyone else, or seemed to be, and here's a picture of the band in action.

That's Brent in the green, Andrew in the red, and of course, the dear nephew in white on the drums.

You know, there's an ongoing joke amongst the #squeezesters wherein everyone assembled at any given time gives me suggestions of song titles to yell out as requests. They've run from the 80s punk classic "Institutionalized" to the 70s pop nugget "Ariel" to the bluegrass barn-burner "The Orange Blossom Special." And while I didn't yell a single one of those out, the boys pulled one over on me when they - in the middle of one of their own compositions - stopped dead and broke into a blistering "Folsom Prison Blues." It absolutely cracked me up.

Hey, do you think Tay noticed I had a camera?

And one of the boy in action.

Hey, look! He's being filmed! The local TV Guy was there filming them for the 11 O'Clock News, and I'll be damned if I didn't forget to watch. What a bad aunt I am.

And finally, a picture that answers the question, "Just where is the shade in Evening Shade?" Well, it's about 7:55, when the sun goes behind the big trees beside the pharmacy.

A lazy weekend.

Hey! Speaking of musical questions, tonight's recipe du jour answers the musical question, "How do you know when it's time to clean out your cabinets?" For some, the cleaner amongst us, the answer is probably, "once a month." Or for some, like our own Stennie who did it this very weekend, it's, "when you move." But for me, the answer is, "when you're stuck at home on a Sunday and have no recipe ideas."

And so this week's recipe du jour is, well, let's see. First of all, it's a small nod to Mr M, who hates the wasting of food (even though he left the goodie bag my mom gave him last night here), and who often mentions to me that I spend too much money buying food that I waste on the recipe du jour. So to you, Mr M, I say that this meal cost me exactly zero dollars and zero cents to prepare. And it's also the perfect way to clean a kitchen of food that's been hanging around way too long, some of it a good three to four years, taking up space I don't really have. So let's all say hello to, from the "Stick To Your Ribs Meals" file at cardland (and boy, will it), Cabinet Clean-Out Casserole.

Now, here's a meal. And you know, the great thing about Cabinet Clean-Out Casserole is that it can be made any number of ways, depending upon the cabinets in question. But here's my version. You start with a can of Campbell's Bean With Bacon Soup circa 2004. Pour it into a casserole dish that's been covered with the bread crumbs that were opened and never used again because you didn't like the spices in them. Add a 2 ½ year old can of chicken. Then over the soup and chicken you spread some instant mashed potatoes, which were still around even after an entire two-bedroom cottage was built with them last week, and for looks how about making a nice mound of potatoes in the middle of the dish. Then that potato mesa is surrounded by a year-old can of pinto beans and some red cabbage that, well, truth be told, is probably around four years old. Top that all with sweet pickled cauliflower, a forgotten purchase from about three years ago, and a half-bag of stale croutons. Bake it all within an inch of its life, and there you go.

Oh, the topping on the served portion of our casserole is made of enchilada sauce and decaffeinated coffee. Because, well, someone's nice enough to give you a package of coffee, you don't have the heart to tell them you don't drink de-caf, you know how it goes. The dish is served with the rest of the coffee, and the only thing that will keep you alive till tomorrow's acrochallenge, some Tums.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Two guests have now peed in my new bathroom. I'm so proud.
* Did I mention I missed seeing the Hackensaw Boys this weekend? Yeah, I think I did.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

You Can Bank On It. Or Not.

There are a few areas in my life I'm rather hinky about. Oh, what am I saying, there are a myriad of areas in my life I'm rather hinky about, but one of those areas is the general vicinity of money. I mentioned this in passing a few months ago, how I'm always chided by Mr M for being so obssessed with having enough money, and hiding money, and not spending money when he thinks I should, and, really, shouldn't I be the judge of whether or not I spend my own money, but if I were, of course, I never would, and this sentence has gone on way too long already so I'll end it now.

I think that passing mention those months ago ended with, "So maybe I do think about money too much, I just don't spend too much time worrying about how I can get more money." And while that's still true, I'm becoming a little worried about holding on to the money I already have. Not in my wallet, or folded under a birthday card in my drawer, but in the bank. Yes, in the bank, the stone building with vaults and locks and guards. Or at least security systems.

I've never quite understood how banks work. Which I know makes me sound like a complete dolt, but I promise you don't understand where I'm coming from. I mean, sure, I know that you have a bank and you go put money in it and they give you this little thing called a checkbook and you can write pieces of paper from it until your money runs out. I know that, I took Banking 101. However, I must have dropped out of Banking School before I got to, oh, say, Banking 560, which is kind of where I've ended up in the Banking World. That's where the lessons get more and more complicated.

For many years, I had a bank that I loved but ended up hating. It was my One and Only Bank, the first bank I ever had a checking account in, then a savings account, it was full of really nice people, and they did a fine job of keeping my funds right there in their building for me. This bank started out as a local. Just one bank, right there in T'well, the next town over from me, which caused me to have to drive a ways for my banking business, but it was well worth it. Then this bank was bought out by a small local conglomerate, and it was still fine and had the same nice people, and I even got to go to a local branch in B'field after that. Then it was bought out by a little bigger, regional conglomerate, and though I wasn't overly happy about that I stuck around, mainly because of the nice people and the fact that, let's face it, changing banks is a major pain in the ass.

But then, several years ago, they were bought out by a huge multi-national conglomerate, and I hated this. Having the nice people around wasn't even enough for me, because two things happened that soured me on this bank right quick. First, being part of a bigass conglomerate now, they began sticking service charges on everything from having a checking account to setting up a call line to phone and ask how your funds were doing, to, well, opening their doors and walking in the building. And second, they stole $96 of my money.

OK, so $96 isn't the biggest amount of money in the world, it's under a hundred dollars and most folks would probably just write it off, but I called people (and paid to call) and went to the bank and talked to people (and paid for that too, I guess), taking bank statements and deposit receipts and everything else, and no one could tell me why I was suddenly short 96 dollars. Then I went to my nephew's Little League baseball game, and his opponent's team were wearing brand new jerseys with the name of my bank emblazoned across the backs of them, and all I could think of was my $96. And I went and got a new bank.

However, sadly, I didn't have the heart to tell the nice people at the old bank I'd dropped them from my life, and found myself overdrawn there because their checking account service charges ate up what was left of the few funds I still had lingering in there. Then I had to go in (which I'm sure I paid for), take care of a return check fee, which wasn't a return check fee because I didn't write a check, so I guess it was an "overdraft service fee," and tell those nice people I'd left them but was too afraid to let them know, then I waved a hearty farewell to them and got on with the new bank in my life.

The new bank is a local chain, several branches in the surrounding counties, and I like them, I wouldn't say they have a lot of nice people there but no one's ever been mean to me or anything. They're basically service charge-free, and I've been happy letting my funds live there and hang out with other local funds, joining the Fund PTA and having Fund Barbecues on weekends.

But for about a year and a half, strange things have been afoot in my checking account.

This all started when I went to the cash machine one day, squeezed the owl, as my little circle of friends say, and popping out along with my cash was my receipt, which showed me as having roughly $400 more than I was showing in my checkbook. I was perplexed but happy, well, warily happy, and I immediately went home to pore over the past six months of check registers to see what I'd done wrong. I'd done nothing wrong, and never went and talked to the bank people about it, figuring I'd just keep a check on things and see what happened.

And what happened? Well, nothing happened. I lived a good year-plus having the wonderful knowledge that no matter what my check register said I could be secure that I actually had an extra $400 floating around in my account, at least according to the bank, and their figures were what counted, right? I never corrected my check register, I let it stay with my math, $400 less than the bank's math. I just knew I had that $400 cushion. And believe me, it was a comfy cushion.

Then one day about six months ago, the owl needed squeezing again so I found myself at the cash machine. And this time, along with my cash, out popped my little receipt, and suddenly that $400 was gone. It was gone, vanished into thin air, I wasn't happy anymore, and again I went home to pore over check registers to see if I'd done something else wrong to make me lose this $400 that I wasn't sure I ever really had anyway. I hadn't, and when I thought it about too much it made my head hurt. So I tried not to, and my head hurt anyway, so I went back to thinking about it again, and didn't come up with any answers. Almost overnight, my cushion had been yanked out from underneath my ass, and I was sitting on the cold hard reality of having the exact amount of money my check register told me I had.

Again, I didn't go and talk to the bank people about it all, because I figured, well, how would I go in and ask about $400 I couldn't account for acquiring in the first place? I couldn't, and so I tried to be content with the fact that at least my check register was approximately balanced, which it hadn't been in about a year. But still, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Why did that $400 leave me? And why couldn't I get rid of this headache?

About a month ago, no, maybe six weeks, yes, you guessed it, to the owl again, who I actually seldom squeeze but lately his sides must be awfully sore, and out with my cash popped my little receipt. And what I saw this time, well, it's a good thing the car was in park because I surely would have wrecked had it not been, and possibly even had it been with me there in park if I wasn't such a good driver and had my foot on the brake anyway.

My receipt told me my balance was now about $150 less than my check register was telling me.

I sped home in a decidedly sickly state and got out the last several months' registers again. I pored over them again, and again, within a scant few pennies, there were no errors with my math. I was just missing $150. And I didn't know why. And basically, this is where it stands as I type. I'm $150 in the hole.

Now, maybe I should tell you at this juncture that - well, you know that little thing on the back of your bank statement that you're supposed to fill in with your checks cashed and uncashed, and credited deposits and uncredited? I don't do that. I don't know anyone who does. Does anyone out there do that? If so, well, I guess you're a more responsible person than I am, and you probably aren't given large sums of monies by your banks and then don't have them taken away from you. I always use that phone line, the one I used to have to pay for but is now free, call it up faithfully (at least in the good days) once a week, see what's been cashed and what hasn't, and make sure all the amounts I've written in my register are correct. And they are. And this recorded lady on the phone is telling me the same thing my little receipts have been telling me, that I was way flush with money and that now my money seems to have, well, been flushed. Flushed to where she's yet to tell me, but it flushed away somewhere.

About three weeks ago I was doing my weekly call-in and I got a bit of a shock. The bank phone lady gave me my balance, as she always does before we start going over my checks, and I had - now get this - a thousand dollars more in my account than I was showing. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, for one brief moment in time I was a multithousandaire. This time I knew something was wrong, so I hit the number on the keypad that gives me my latest deposits, thinking the deposit I'd made minutes ago that wasn't to be counted till the next working day had been counted early. It hadn't. They'd given me a thousand dollars extra, and man, was I loving that.

Of course, it didn't last, not more than a day or two, and the next time I called (my weekly call-ins have started going daily, or almost daily) it was gone and I was back to where I started. Well, not where I started, actually, I started with the same amount of money in the bank as in my check register, then it went way up, then way the same, then way down, and that's where I went back to. Way down.

And so I'm down. But who knows, tomorrow I may be up again. See, here's the thing. Like I said, and you'd probably believe this about me, I'm really conscious of my checkbook and the register therein. I don't miss checks, I don't forget to record owl squeezes, I know what I'm doing. I got a 4.0 in Banking 101. And I keep up with what's going on by phone. It all just happens so suddenly. It's not like I say, "Hey, I'm $40 down in my account." "Hey, I'm $60 down in my account." "By gum, I seem to be $75 down in my account." It's *whap!* "I'm $400 up on my account!" *whap!* "I'm $150 down on my account!"

And I've been wondering exactly what I missed in Banking 560. Is there a small codicil in Banking By-Laws wherein if one person is, oh, say, $400 over the limit for certain tax consequences, the bank can say, "Oh, here's Bet's account, we'll just hide it in there for a while?" Or if someone on the Bank Board is $150 overdrawn they can say, "Oh, here's Bet's account, we'll just take some from it and transfer it over?"

That must be it. Must be Banking 560. Either that, or.... Well, my nephew's now in high school, so I haven't been to any Little League games lately. Maybe I should check one out.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* First of all, let's hold the acrowinners a second. I want to make a shout-out to my own dad, whose birthday is this very day. He's 77 years old. Geezus creepers, that blows my mind. Happy birthday, Dad!
* Now - acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, you got drunk and what did you say to the parents?
- Honorable Mention goes to Michelle, with her "Let go, freaks! Just nattering - only nattering..."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her little story: "Lily G, feeling joyful, nattered on needlessly. "Loved guy, felt jealous, now over. Nuts." "Lil? Go find just nice one -- now!"
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her VERY bold "Lit gigangtic freakin joint. Nodding out now."
- Thanks to all who played - you make my week!

Monday, July 17, 2006


Hello, letter lovers! And welcome to another Monday evening round of acromania.

I found myself out to dinner with the folks last night. And it was fun. It was fun anyway, but it became even more fun when we all ordered a round of drinks, and, because I wasn't driving, I ordered a second round. I found myself talking and talking, which, if you know me and my relationship with the parents, was pretty amazing. (My folks and I have a great relationship, and I normally attribute this to the fact that I don't tell them much about what goes on in my life.)

But there I was chattering away, about my blog, how I make the recipe du jour cards, experiences going to see the Hackensaw Boys, my distaste for Tempie, I was surprising myself with the sheer number of words even as they were coming out of my mouth.

And that brings us to tonight's acrotopic. "I Got A Little Tipsy, And Said To My Parents...."

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 told his elder baskets he always wanted to be a little girl's bicycle basket. They've never quite forgiven him. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who can have a drink on me, and the non-winners, who'll be drinking alone.

So the topic, "I Got A Little Tipsy, And Said To My Parents...." The letters:


A lot of letters. Hey, you're drunk, you're rambling. So acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* A little shout-out to the recovering Taytie, who had the most incredibly unfortunate occurrence today. He was, while mowing, literally "covered in bees."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Picture Sunday

Ahhhh, hello, end of weekenders. It's been a very, very busy week indeed in Betland, and now that the martinis (I took the folks out to dinner) have settled, it's time for another round of Picture Sunday.

And you knew. You knew, didn't you? Yes, this week's PS shall be Picture Sunday - The Bathroom Edition.

Let's go back to the old days. Remember those? Lo those many years ago, in 2001, when I first bought the Poderosa? Well, for those of you new to Betland, here's what my bathroom looked like when I moved in.

Wow, that's not such a bad bathroom, is it? Off-white walls, sky blue tiles, I even had my soapdish on the wall back then.

Then the soapdish fell off, the tiles got old, water got behind it all, and well, I needed a new bathroom. And so my friend and Construction Hero Ricky Ricardo got on the case. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when my bathroom looked like this?

And then this?

Well, Ricky Ricardo finished up in fine order, a few days over time but an astounding $500 under budget. And all that was left for me to do was to put things back into place. But before I did so, I had my own changes I wanted to make.

First thing was to get shut of those brown wooden accessories, the towel rack, bathroom mirror frame, and toilet paper holder thingie. I sanded those down and painted them white. Then the walls needed sprucing up, and since my linoleum has a grayish blue pattern in it, I went for a grayish blue paint for the walls. I started on Thursday night, painting the fixtures and masking the borders of the entire room. Then on my Friday night, I painted instead of chilling. And here's what I came up with.

First of all, check out this tile work. The rubber duckie sure approves.

Now, how about the wall, with the new white painted fixtures?

Hey, I got a new faucet and spigot, too. No reason not to update them as well. Ricky Ricardo installed them beautfully.

I sat in the bathtub and took that one. And while sitting in the tub, I also got one of the far wall and bathroom mirror.

Finally, here's another of the shower, kind of a mirror image of the original Poderosa Bathroom Photograph.

Success and happiness.

You know, this was all finished on Friday night, which was funny, because when I told Ricky Ricardo I was going to have everything done over the weekend, he looked at me with a raised eyebrow. Then I began to doubt myself and thought maybe I was taking on more than I could handle. But I finished the painting at about 9:40 on Friday night. Then after a small nap, a coffee, and a rare burst of energy, I decided to unmask the borders, and that went so well I just started putting the steel rack over the toilet back together, cleaning and putting in its glass shelves, then went whole hog and put all of my items back into place. I may not have made it to bed till 4:30 Saturday morning, but it was, my friends, the sleep of satisfaction.

(The only other thing I want to do is change those off-white switchpates on the light and electrical outlet to white, but when I did that after painting my kitchen, it took all day and nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. Working with electrical wires and such. It can wait till I'm better equipped.)

Then I had time to spend in B'burg at Mr M's, where we went to the movies on Saturday night and played new clarinet duets. (Well, tell a lie, they were actually violin duets, but we played them on clarinets.)

You know, I did something extraordinarily handy on Friday night. Normally my homemade plans go way awry, but I did something that worked. Between the far wall of my bathroom and the cabinet at the sink, there was a strip of wall that was about 2 inches wide, and I had absolutely no idea how in the hell I was going to paint it. So I McGyevered it. One paintbrush, a yardstick, and the strip of velcro we use to affix Sherman to a music stand later, and I had this.

And it worked, people! Not only did it work, and I painted that strip of wall, plus the area of the wall over my toilet I couldn't reach, but that velcro was so strong I could have painted the whole room with it. (Yes, I did have an extender pole for my paint roller, but it was too large to reach behind the sink cabinet.) Boy, was I proud of myself.

And there you have it. A new bathroom for The Pod.

So now let's leave the bathroom and head to the kitchen. Because, yes, even with all that work I still found time for this week's recipe du jour.

For those of you who listen to the Hucklebug podcast, you heard me tell the story some weeks ago of trying to make a Waffle House out of waffles, and having it go very, very badly. I was left with a sad plate of waffles, peanut butter, and toothpicks. Oh, the plans I had for those waffles, but it was not to be. However! This week it is to be. Say hello to, from the "Vegetables" file at cardland, the Two-Bedroom Mashed Potato Cottage.

Well, this should take care of all the vegetable needs for any large family. Our little bungalow's body is made entirely of instant mashed potatoes, and is roofed with green beans. It has a carrot chimney and a lawn made of green peas. And in a stunning turn of events, this versatile little dish also becomes a dessert because the door and windows are made from chocolate chips - the kids will be begging for extra vegetable helpings now! The dish is topped off with a two-toothpick TV antenna and a picket fence. Enjoy.

You know, I've had that little fence forever and have been dying to use it in a recipe. I finally got my chance.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* As I said above, got the pleasure of taking my folks out to dinner tonight. This is because of their extreme generosity in the "Pay Ricky Ricardo Up Front And You Can Make Payments To Us When You Have Extra Money" area. God bless Mom & Dad.
* I also blew my dad's mind tonight, my dad, who has no use for computers and thinks they're a waste of time, by playing him live Hackensaw Boys tunes and showing him their "elevator" video on my little machine. It was as much fun watching him as it was the Boys.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

Mr M wrote a letter to Hardees the other day.

Now, depending on who you are and where you live, you may or may not know who Hardees is. I think they're pretty much, at this point, contained in the Southeast. They're what I've always called "The Southern McDonalds."

And let's get this out of the way right now. Hardees sucks. They suck just like the big fat weenies they put on their horrid hot dogs.

Hardees used to be your run-of-the-mill fast food chain. Cheap and cheerful, greasy food, employees in polo shirts and sun visors. You know 'em, you've been to a million like them. Then all of a sudden (this was about 4 years ago) they went and got all uppity and started selling something called Angus Beef, and something else called The Six Dollar Burger. The Six Dollar Burger's claim to fame is that it's supposed to be just like the burgers you get for Six Dollars in your restaurants, your Applebees and Chilis, only cheaper. Which always made me laugh, because if you bought The Six Dollar Burger and added fries and a drink, like you get at those other restaurants for free, your Six Dollar Burger ended up costing about Seven Dollars. Another fine feature of Angus Beef and The Six Dollar Burger was that it caused everything else on their menu, fries, chicken, drinks, to rise in price by about 10%. But we won't even go there.

(However - Hardees does do a nice breakfast, mainly because of their biscuits, made lovingly at 4:00 every morning by little old ladies, hopefully not in polo shirts and sun visors, and they rock, and you can get your biscuit all the way from plain bread to topped with as many items as there are in the Free Fucking Food World. Old people love this about Hardees, at least around here where biscuits are a big thing, and they also give Senior Discounts which gets the old folks bounding in first thing in the morning and knocking over the younger people, children, pregnant women, the disabled, etc, just to be first in line for their discounted biscuit. I don't eat biscuits anymore, which sucks, because I did used to love my biscuits, but it has at least freed me from the hellish world that is Hardees.)

Now, as you can probably tell, I don't like Hardees and never have, but I don't tend to spend much time dwelling upon it, unlike Mr M. Mr M once made me laugh out loud, a sharp howl of belly laughter, by asking me the question, "What is the coldest thing in the universe?" then answering the question with, "A freshly-made Hardees hamburger." Mr M never has good luck at Hardees, though he continues to go there because the B'burg Hardees is just a mile or so down the road from him.

But that's not why he wrote them the letter. He wrote the letter for another reason, for the same reason that you folks across our great land better hit your knees tonight and pray that Hardees remains contained in the Southeast. He wrote the letter because Hardees has the worst commercials in the history of advertising.

I don't know who Hardees got to come up with their commercials, and what they pay them. Whoever and whatever, well, they're boobs and it's highway robbery, plain and simple. Now, Mr M occasionally calls me LCD, or Lowest Common Demoninator, a nickname that makes me want to punch him square in the face, because I tend to sometimes take the "low road" when making a joke. But these commercials are of the serious Lowest Common Demoninator.

Hardees commercials are geared towards The Guy. Why this is I'm not sure, but the commercials feature random guys of the jeans and backwards baseball cap-type, stuffing oversized burgers into their cakeholes and being general slobs. Normally. There was one that featured a braless tank-topped girl riding a mechanical bull, in a bar, while eating one of their presumably cold burgers, and the voiceover said, "We were going to show you our new Whatever Burger, but we thought you'd rather see this instead." And to be honest, I would have, if at the end of the commercial some dude in a cowboy hat walked into the western bar there with a 30-ought-six and shot this girl off her mechanical bull, but, sadly, that never happened in all the times I had to endure this commercial. So I guess Mr VoiceOverGuy was wrong.

But like I said, most of the commercials just feature these guys, who, believe me, you don't want to know, stuffing their faces. There's the one where the guy is stuffing his face and working on his car while his girlfriend lays on the garage floor, spreading her legs at various angles and sucking on her finger, waiting for him to pay her some attention. What a life she must lead. And the one with a hotel room full of guys stuffing their faces and ignoring a group of very lovely and sluttily attired women who pass by their hotel room. I guess the overall theme is, "Hardees: Better Than These Women! And Almost As Cheap!"

But the commercials are getting worse and worse. There's the one for the new Philly Cheesesteak Burger, which probably had the working title "Heart Attack In A Wrapper" because it's a burger and a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich crammed together on a bun, and this commercial features a streetcorner upon which some guys are hanging out at their cab stand. And the joke here, I'm just supposing this because it's not funny at all, is that between the fact that these guys are from Philly and that they're stuffing these two-foot high burgers into their ugly faces, you can't understand a single word they're saying, so the commercial gives us subtitles. One can only hope that they all get fired from their jobs, for any number of reasons - that they're loafing, eating, or just terrible, terrible people - or that someone else was trying to eat his Philly Cheesesteak Burger while driving his cab and subsequently ran into that corner and broke all those guys' legs, but again, this doesn't happen onscreen, which is very disappointing indeed.

The latest Hardees commercial, and the one that prompted the Epistle of Doom from Mr M, has to do with two things, 1) cheese, and 2) the fact that some guys will eat anything. Because this ad features some ass giving a tutorial on the joys of the melted cheese that sticks to a burger wrapper and how fun it is to lick this cheese right off the paper. Which he proceeds to do for us, in case we didn't get the idea from his explanation. For some reason this one really gets up Mr M's snout, and it does mine as well, because for me, well, I always thought burger companies were kind of embarrassed about those cheese stickies on their wrappers. It's like the fast food burger equivalent of nasty stains on the underwear, and I'd just as soon not think about it, but of course, if it's like underwear stains, surely that's why Hardees chose to feature it in a commercial. Anyway, we all know that the cheese stuck to a burger wrapper is trash, it's to be wadded up and thrown away (I'm sure out a car window, if it's one of these Hardees guys), but apparently now everyone, at least here in The South, is going to be walking around eating their burger wrappers because Hardees said it was OK.

I only hope they don't do it around Mr M. What with the Shower Wall Debacle and all, I'm not sure I'll have bail money at hand.

So I've given you a few visual descriptions of these commercials for Hardees, these commercials that show way too much on every local TV station on the dial, but unfortunately, well, unfortunately for me, a veritable smorgasboard of fortune for you, you can't hear them. Because besides really bad taste, here's what all Hardees commercials have in common. The sound of neanderthal guys stuffing gigantic burgers into their cakeholes. And believe me, it's not a pretty sound.

In fact, it's not unlike this: Schnkarfkschlpschlpschlpskkkkrnch.

Onions and lettuce are crunching, tomatoes and mayo are squishing, stuff's rolling around between the teeth, there's nothing you can't hear. In fact, I think maybe the Hardees commercial people actually put a microphone down to a dog's mouth, after he's been starved several days then is served a big bowl of soft dog food, and they have another couple of people down at dog-level tearing up a head of lettuce and an onion and hoping the ravenous dog doesn't bite off their faces. It's the most disgusting sound I've ever heard, and listen, people, I live in the country and have been around boys and teenaged boys and even a few uncouth grown men, and no one - no one - I've ever heard sounds like that when they're eating.

You know, I'm actually kind of surprised we've yet to hear the big belch in a Hardees commercial. But dare I speak.

Now, speaking of dogs, which we were a little, let's leave Hardees and go up the road a ways to Kentucky Fried Chicken. Who are now, of course, embarrassed to align themselves with either Friedness or the State of Kentucky, and so they just call themselves KFC.

KFC is sporting some commercials for a new item on their menu that, well, in case you haven't seen it, I'll give you a heads-up. It's called the KFC Bowl and is, oddly enough, a bowl, into which is placed some mashed potatoes, and then some corn, and then some little pieces of chicken, and then some gravy, and then some cheese.

After first seeing this concoction on my TeeVee, I described it to Mr M and said, "And you know what that is, right?" And although his answer, "Heart disease," was a pretty good one and possibly correct, it wasn't the answer I had in mind. My answer? "Scraps! It's scraps! Think of what you feed your dog after you've had a meal!"

And yes, what dogowner hasn't at one time or other taken the leftovers from dinner, the mashed potatoes, corn, half-eaten chicken with gravy, and scooped it into a bowl for Fido to have at? Fido loves it, and so do the cleaner and more polished people on this KFC commercial.

Burger King, well, that's another story, and I don't like Burger King either, though I used to. My love affair with them came to an abrupt halt sometime in the mid-90s when I received a burger from them laden with so much stuff I couldn't really tell what was what when I started chewing on it, and some of the what didn't really feel like stuff that should be on a burger. I spat out what I had, threw the rest away, and I promptly gave the Burger King his ring back, destined never to become Queen.

Their commercials have taken a serious downturn as well. They have three kinds of commercials, and, well, neither kind is much good. There are the horrid "Burger King and his Family" commercials, where people walk around with foam rubber burgers attached to them, and Whopper (the dad) and Whopper Jr (the son) are always at each others' throats because Jr wants to sell himself for an undervalued $1. While Mrs Whopper (the mom) and Whopperette (the daughter) look on without interest, as if to say, "Oh, shit, Dad and Jr are at it again." I shouldn't care that the Whoppers are a dysfunctional family but I do, and I can't understand why anyone who does like Burger King would want to eat one of these burgers after finding out what kind of a hellish life they live.

Then there are their commercials that are innocuous but weird. Like the Human Burger, where people dressed as burger ingredients all pile on top of each other like they're playing some odd pornographic drinking game, and finally a girl dressed as a bun catapults herself on top of them all. These are so odd I don't even have much of a comment to make upon them.

But the worst are their chicken commercials, which feature a huge chicken riding a dirt bike and doing other extreme sporty things, and over top of this plays a song, a slow accoustical number, where a man sings, "Big Huckin' Chicken/You are big, you are huckin'." Don't even ask, because I don't know, but what I do know is that the first few times I saw this commercial the song was "Big Buckin' Chicken," and maybe the giant chicken was at the rodeo, but those commercials mysteriously disappeared and the Huckin' Chicken showed up, I'm guessing as a result of several thousand threats of fire-bombed Burger Kings by various viewers.

Whatever happened to nice fast-food commercials? Teenagers eating hamburgers and french fries, families enjoying meals, all happy and smiling, at least on-camera, till they got home and realized they were going to gain weight and have acne from it all? Remember that cute little McDonalds commercial where the pre-teen girl had a massive crush on some guy and ran face first into him at McDonalds? And good old Dave Thomas talking about how good Wendy's was and that everybody should adopt a child just like he adopted Wendy?

Well, maybe I shouldn't get into the whole Wendy thing. That Wendy's a weird-looking girl, with the red pigtails sticking straight out, and the freckles the size of quarters. I'm glad she got adopted, though.

Betland's Olympic Update:
*Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! And boy, look at the entries. I love you all. So, tell us all about Sherman and Peabody's Hot-Air Balloon Ride.
- Honorable Mentions goes to Flipsy, with her "Two pals in transit really soaring."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her "'Tree! Peabody -- it's there!' 'Relax, Sherman.'"
- And this week's winner is the inimitable Kellie (with an ie), for her little acro story. "Took part in throwing ravioli. Sticky! / Then Peabody Inched To Restrain Sherman. / Told Police, 'Ignore. Take Round Sprinkled.'" That was completely brilliant, my dear, and I wouldn't be surprised to find out that's actually how it happened.
- Thanks to all who played, you made my day!

Monday, July 10, 2006


Hello, acroers, acroites, and acroees. And welcome to another round of acromania.

Did you know whose birthday was last week? July 4th, to be exact? If you pay close attention here you should know. It was Sherman's!

Sherman, being an orphan, of course, doesn't really know when his birthday is, so when Peabody adopted him, he let the boy pick any day he wanted as his day. And Sherman, patriotic boy that he is (after all, blue shorts, white shirt, red hair), picked the Fourth of July.

He celebrated last week by playing in the band concert, and watching fireworks, and he got an airplane model from Mr M and a put-together puppet stand from me, which I tried to put together this weekend, and, well, maybe we'd better let Mr Peabody try it because he's a lot smarter and handier than I am. Cause I failed. But his big present was this. A hot-air balloon ride over the nice Virginia countryside.

As you can see here, if you'll look closely at the little basket below the balloon. Huckleberry Hound, a spectator on the ground, took the photo, and although he won't admit it, I'm sure Mr M had a little something to do with its development.

In any case, the picture is so nice it shall be the inspiration for tonight's acro. In fact, it is tonight's acro. This week's acrotopic: "Sherman & Peabody's Hot-Air Balloon Ride."

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 can only dream of being tied to the bottom of a hot-air balloon. And getting to fly his letters across the land. Then at 10pm est tomorrow night I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get - not a balloon ride, but a balloon, the blow-up kind, and the non-winners, who will get - to blow up the balloon of the winner.

So this week's topic is "Sherman & Peabody's Hot-Air Balloon Ride." The letters:


So, stop blowing hot air and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Tonight's Olympic Update has been canceled. I'm too tired to even have an update.
* PS - can you tell I was asleep while I wrote this entire acroblog?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, Sunday nighters. And welcome to another "Perfect Way to End a Weekend" round of Picture Sunday.

What have I been talking about lately? Yes, you know. Two things. Rain, and my shower wall. We've now gone two whole days with no rain, so maybe things are back on the upside there. However, the first picture is from the rougher times, about a week ago, when my little creek in the backyard was taking on a look not unlike that of the New River.

See the edge of my grass there? Where the creek starts? Normally there's a good three feet's drop down a little hill to where the creek begins. So although it didn't make it into my backyard, it got pretty damn close. The cool thing, though, well, cool if you're not worried about flooding, was that the creek actually had little waves and rapids in it. It was a rolling creek. It's still high, but nowhere near the stage it was when this photo was made.

And as for the shower wall, well, you saw where things were Thursday evening. I'll show you now where they are as we speak.

Yes! I have tiles! I have no grout as yet, but things are going swimmingly, which is probably a phrase one shouldn't use when one is talking about bathroom refurbishment, especially when one was visited by a town worker Friday morning while one was still in one's pajamas with one's hair sticking out like the Bride of Frankenstein, and one was informed by the town official that one seemed to have a leak in one's water meter. After which one's water was turned off while the town officials dug a hole, and since one never heard anything back from the town, one is gingerly assuming nothing is wrong. I guess until one comes home from work when one least expects it and is standing in three feet of water at the Poderosa.

By the way, Ricky Ricardo hasn't said, but I'm assuming all will be well by Tuesday, and I think I'm going to start the painting of the walls immediately after.

Now let's go to the arts and crafts section of Picture Sunday. Remember a few weeks ago when the recipe du jour was a papier mache hot dog? Well, that all came about because my buddy Mr M had this yen to make up some papier mache and play with it. We both started projects, and though his kind of went by the wayside I kept working on mine. And I finished it this afternoon. So, how much would you all like to see a papier mache Sherman?

Isn't he cute? I even got a side photo of him so you can see his hair, which was made with paper pulp (and isn't that fun to stick your hands in and work with, since it's cold and feels like cottage cheese) and even sports the Sherman cowlick.

The only thing left now is to figure out an answer to the question, "What exactly does one do with a papier mache Sherman head?" If I come up with anything, I'll be sure to let you know.

And now comes that very bewitching time of evening, yes, time for the recipe du jour.

You know, I enjoy a good Martini. I enjoy two even more, every Friday night while I watch movies, and occasionally while I make a fool of myself on the podcast. I feel the Martini is the perfect drink. It's all liquor, not sweet, two will "do it" for you, if you get my drift, and who can argue with the existence of olives in anything?

So as a tribute to that most wonderful of libations, tonight's recipe du jour takes a little twist on all the new fancy Martinis showing up in bars nowadays. It's from the "Lethal Beverages" file at cardland, and say hello to it if you will, Martinis!

Ahhh, a veritable smorgasboard of smashedness. Let's go counter-clockwise, starting on the bottom row in the far right, with the Chickentini. This is gin, vermouth, and a chicken bullion cube, shaken within an inch of its life then garnished with a boiled egg. To its left is the Hotini - gin, vermouth, a splash of Texas Pete hot sauce, and cayenne pepper, shaken to near explosiveness and garnished with pepper jack cheese. To its left is the marvelous Pickletini - gin, vermouth, and pickle juice, shaken heartily and garnished with a dill pickle. This drink goes well with last week's recipe, Cream of Pickle Soup, well, it goes well with it if you enjoy visits to your local emergency room.

Right above the Pickletini, starting the upper row, is the Proteini. This is Bacardi Limon (since the Blue Crapius people think their drink is supposed to resemble some sort of beachy concoction), vermouth, and a half-scoop of Blue Crapius protein powder, shaken just enough so that there are no blue glumps in the drink. It's garnished with a piece of chocolate granola protein bar. To its right is the Weenietini, where you fill a third of your glass with the mustard of your choice (mine is brown mustard), then pour your gin-vermouth mixture on top of it and garnish it with a Vienna Sausage (or Vi-enny Weenie as we say here in The South). And finally, to its right is a little something for my buddy, the Mr M-artini. It's vermouth, a healthy shot of Goldschlager (endorsed by me and the Sauerkraut Band), and Pepsi, shaken together until the fizz gets really big on the Pepsi, and garnished with the rubber chicken Mr M hates so much. For this picture, the chicken 1) seems to be saying, "He'p me, he'p me, they done put me in a drank!" and 2) is having a peek at the Chickentini below him.

Two things about tonight's recipe du jour. First of all, yes, for the observant amongst you, the Martinis are all laid out upon my Twister beach towel. Because wouldn't it be fun to get all liquored up on Martinis and play Twister.

Second of all, I'm a Vodka Martini drinker. This is why none of the recipes above contain vodka. My vodka is precious to me and too expensive to sling around in drinks I have no intention of consuming. However, after it was all over, the pictures were made, and the mess cleaned up (and what a mess it was, since the shaker came apart on my first Chickentini and it spilled all over the floor), I had just enough gin left for one more. So I had my first-ever Gin Martini.

And you know, it wasn't bad. Had almost a citrusy kind of taste. And although I don't ever see myself throwing over the Vodka Martini for this, I doff my cap to that most famous of Gin Martini drinkers, Richard Sackerson. Have one for me, sir.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Please forgive me if this week's pictures are a little dark. I got the old "low battery" signal about halfway through, but thankfully got them all finished and published. Think of how much better it will all be next week with new batteries.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Shower Walls And Nervous Breakdowns

I used to play a little game in the old blog from time to time. It was called "Bet for a Day," and it usually revolved around what it might be like if you were to, sadly, wake up one morning and find me looking back at you in the mirror. Then it would go on to tell you all the horrible things I endured upon any given day. It was one of those funny exercises, well, funny in a very depressing kind of way.

I haven't done that in a long time, and I'm not about to start back tonight. But I feel like I'm reaching the edge of a mighty cliff here, and I don't know if, once my toes grip the end, I shall end up soaring away to happiness or have the earth crumble beneath me as I fall hard 1000 feet below on my hind end. So just to be safe I shall be polishing my wings and tying a large pillow to my ass.

It was probably, what, 6 weeks ago I started talking about my shower wall? It was actually a highlight - that shower wall was a highlight of my week! I'd worked lovingly on the tiles that I had to replace when the originals fell off, with the soapdish, onto my foot, I'd re-caulked and cleaned and scraped and just been a regular Martha Stewart minus the jail time. But in with that highlight came the lowlight of pushing around on my shower wall during all that work, and finding that the wall, well, gave. It gave way when I pressed upon it, and I knew this wasn't really the way a wall was supposed to be working.

And so began what I've come to call The Shower Wall Debacle.

Since I was worried, I called my general Construction Hero, Ricky Ricardo. Ricky Ricardo and his Mrs are friends of mine and my family's, he teaches at the local high school, and he and Mrs Ricky Ricardo have three of the finest boys put on the earth as sons. He installed my shower door, he's hammered atop my roof. I know and trust Ricky Ricardo. I may not like his news, but I trust him that it is honest news.

His news (for those of you keeping score at home who don't listen to the podcast) was that for this little job, if nothing was wrong once he got behind my shower wall tiles, I was looking at about $1800 of my money and five days of my life. And that right there was a little problem, because, to be blunt, I couldn't look at either of those things, because I don't have them.

Now, money is money and it's set in stone. In other words, if you don't have $1800 you don't have $1800. And I don't, not at hand, to just pick up and hand to someone. And the five days of my life, well, that was a little more complicated, but it mainly has to do with only having one bathroom in the Poderosa and making "outside" showering arrangements. So I started having a nice think about the upcoming Bathroom Battle probably ahead of me, and tried to keep it in that area somewhere middleways to the back of my head.

And I set about the task of living my regular life, all while thinking about the bathroom. And the bathroom's not a particularly fun thing to think about, even in the best of times, and my regular life of late hasn't exactly been a whirlwind of contentment.

I go to work every day, and work the four-person office that's gone down to the three- and subsequent two-person office, where it's been very busy and I spend my days having pieces of paper shoved at me by Tempie the Temp every four minutes with whatever the new task at hand may be, tasks that take way longer than four minutes and so you know what my backlog of work must look like. I often bring a protein-laden Orange Crapius back to work from lunch to pep me up and keep my hair from falling out, and I never drink it because I don't have time. Because I can't seem to summon the courage to drink from a big honking red plastic thermal mug in front of the various and sundry customers who are in my face all day. So I have no pep, and though I still have hair, I have about several thousand less of them than I did a few months ago.

And all the while, it was in the back of my mind. The Shower Wall Debacle.

Then I've been hitting the road, to band practice for the dismal Fourth of July concert I said I'd refuse to play in but let myself get roped into doing anyway, and to Mr M's on the weekend, where I get frustrated over my whole non-mastery of the clarinet, and sometimes it's fun anyway and I laugh, but I'm still thinking about the SWD. Just like it's in my head while I'm doing the podcast, and chatting with the faithful in #squeeze, two very fun activities indeed, and it'll even occasionally pop into my head while I'm trying to enjoy a movie.

So I called and left a message for Ricky Ricardo, just to get this thing out of my mind and into my bathroom.

Speaking of the Fourth of July concert, that came off on, oddly enough, July 4, and I was of such a foul demeanor I'm surprised I didn't just explode and go up like so many fireworks. It was hot and humid, it had rained earlier, I was sweaty, and a couple of things happened that almost pushed me over the edge, not the least of which was Mr M's getting angry at me because I was tormenting him with a rubber chicken. Up until that point, the rubber chicken, which he's always hated, don't get me wrong, he still laughed at because I gave said chicken a great southern accent and always made him say things like, "He'p me, he'p me! They gonna put me in a pot!" I guess it got real old real quick. So I drove home from the concert all frowny, into a storm of biblical proportions, thinking about the death of my funny chicken schtick and my Shower Wall. And woke up the next morning, headed to work, and noticed that the hard rains have all but killed my flowers.

But then, guess what. Ricky Ricardo called and said he could do my Shower Wall. Immediately.

I went home for lunch yesterday, my one hour of solitude during the whole day, and just as I was sinking down into a calmish state, who should pull up in my driveway but Ricky Ricardo and one of his fine sons. They did measurements, and he told me what I'd need, exactly how many tiles of which kind (did you know that there are things called bullnose tiles? I sure didn't), and that he'd start today.

I suddenly started to get a little excited about it all. Wow - I got to go to the Home Improvement Store and pick out tiles, what color did I want, I was getting a new shower! A whole new look to my bathroom! So in another blinding rain, I went and picked up the dad, because we all know things like this are best done with Dad in tow, and headed out. Only to find that if I needed that many tiles that quickly, I had 2 options. White and almost white. Well, that shot my big ideas right in the ass, didn't it? Not necessarily, said Teenaged Boy Working at the Home Improvement Store. I could pick fancy borders, or different colored tiles to put a pattern in my wall, and that, "Tiles are as big as your imagination." And I'm sure he said that not knowing just how big my imagination is, and that wouldn't it be cool if I picked 420 (my tile total) different colors, or just enough dark blue tiles to spell out "Bite Me" on my shower wall alongside the whites.

I ended up with white, but nice white, they're textured and fancy-looking, and I just decided to go on a white spree and get white grout to boot. I figured that doing this will force me to paint my bathroom walls, which I've been wanting to do anyway, and things will really look new and shiny all around. I plunked down my paid-off credit card and charged $208 on it. (Did you know that tiles are cheaper than you'd think? I sure didn't.) And Dad and I hauled them to my car and then inside my house (did you know tiles are really heavy? I sure didn't), and I took him back home, then - headed back home to change and make the 40-minute drive out to get a pedicure.

I needed that pedicure. I needed my wonderful, strong-handed pedicurist rubbing around on my feet and legs and telling me stuff that makes me giggle. What I didn't need, however, were visitors.

There I was last night, naked from the thighs down, sitting in the Big Chair, when a woman just barged right back into the pedicure room. I was shocked, the pedicurist was mortified. This woman just started talking to Ms Pedicure like, well, like she'd been invited in, and then went on to say, "I want you to look at my husband's nails. Just look at his nails!" Upon which she dragged her husband into the pedicure room, where I was still naked from the thighs down, and showed Ms Pedicure his nails. Then the woman looked at me and said, "I'm sorry to come in like this on you," and I just sat there with my mouth open like I was catatonic, which I guess I was, but all I could think was, "No you're not! If you were, you wouldn't have come in here in the first place, you idiot!"

Then, after the husband's nails had been shown, and believe me, there was something going on with them because they were some bad fingernails, the man - went outside, got in his car, and drove away! He just came there to interrupt my pedicure, and did I mention I was naked from the thighs down, and show my pedicurist his nails!

God have mercy, what a life I lead.

Anyway, I recovered from it all, after being apologized to profusely by my pedicurist even though it wasn't her fault, and I made it home at 9:30, heated up some soup, and sat in the Comfy Chair to watch one of the two movies I have to return by Friday and probably won't get to see. Because I woke up 20 minutes later, my soup still in the bowl in my lap, and I was still holding my spoon. This is actually rather sad but I felt a sense of accomplishment because during my slumber I'd spilled nary a drop, and I put the bowl on the table beside me and continued sleeping in the chair till almost 1am. After which I transferred to the bed, and woke up this morning covered in chocolate, as were my sheets and a pillowcase, because at some point last night I seem to have slept on a chocolate-covered protein bar. The sheets are in the washer as we speak, but I have little hope of their coming out de-stained.

To wrap this all up, and I know it's been way too long a story and you've probably already stopped reading (and I don't blame you), I popped by the house at lunch and Ricky Ricardo told me that the prognosis was not good. The wall was indeed very wet from a long spell of tile leakage and it would have to be replaced. And I envisioned spending all of my money and the rest of my life taking showers at my folks' house, but when I got back from work today things were a lot better off than they were at lunchtime. As you can see here. I was also told that though the wall was a disaster, I had very strong studs that wouldn't need replacing. I never knew I had strong studs, and also never knew that the ones I did have were in my shower all this time watching me bathe. Where I'm naked from way more than the thighs down.

So where does that leave me? I don't know. I'm worried about the money, but happy to have a new bathroom. I'm still tired and hate work, and the boss will be on vacation next week, which, frankly, scares me shitless because I'll be the only person there who can actually do anything. My friend and workmate San will be in and out for a few hours, though, so that makes me happy, and at least I can enjoy the fun activities of my life now without the Shower Wall Debacle hanging halfway in my mind.

I'll keep the pillow tied to my ass, though. Just in case.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Just in case you've been wondering, and I know you have, the Hackensaw Boys have a MySpace page, and if you go there you can listen to four great live tracks, one of which is my favorite live song, "Gospel Plow." Go on, do it. It'll make you happy, you know it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Every Word Of This Is Reprinted Without Permission, And If That Offends You, I'm Truly Sorry

Really. I am.

Let's float back to Friday night. I had a rather odd occurrence on my Friday Chill Night. I was all in twos. Watched two movies, drank two martinis, drank two cups of coffee. Went to bed two late. OK, I know it's too late, I was just trying to be cute. I think I failed.

Anyway, somehow when I hit the bed as it was rounding 3am, although wouldn't it have been even more cute had it been 2am, suddenly all of the above there caused my ears to go into massive overdrive. I could hear everything. I could hear my heat pump. I could hear radios of passing cars, whether they were blasting their music or not. I could hear my heart pounding, and I swear I could hear the grass growing outside. Or maybe that was my flowers dying, I'm not familiar enough with the Sounds of Nature to distinguish one from another.

Another thing I could hear was people, and I think those people were walking around my house. I could hear footsteps in the grass, and people breathing. I didn't hear any voices, but at one point I heard a distinct metal thud, just like someone was banging on the side of my metal outbuilding there in the backyard. Was someone trying to break into my building? No idea, if they were, there didn't seem to be any leftover signs of such when I checked it the next day. Also if they were, boy, wouldn't they have been surprised had they succeeded and found that my outbuilding contains nothing more than a few empty cardboard boxes, a few half-used paint cans, and probably a lot of spiders.

Who knows, though. Maybe it wasn't even people, maybe it was a squirrel or raccoon, although I would suppose their breathing and footsteps would vary from a human's, and with my hearing the way it was, I probably could have detected it.

Anyway, it all made me quite hinky, and I didn't fall asleep till the sun was coming up, but it did afford me the opportunity to turn on my TV and watch "What's My Line," where Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme were the Mystery Guests and signed the big chalkboard as "Huntley and Brinkley."

But earlier on Friday night I set about a task that sorely needed tending. I cleaned out my e-mail inbox. I'm terrible about this particular task, and I think when I started on Friday I had an astounding 269 e-mails in my inbox. It's one of those things I'm always going to do but never get around to. Sure, there are certain things that I delete right off the bat, the occasional spam which I thankfully don't get much of, and letters from the rabid fans on the Glenn Tilbrook mailing list, who I'm sure are fine people but they produce some of the most boring mail in history. I don't care what Glenn Tilbrook song just got played on a TV program, or what color his underwear is, or if he's now sporting velcro tennis shoes instead of lace-ups on his latest tour. So I just normally delete those right as they appear without even reading them, and, OK, maybe I'll miss the golden e-mail that announces he's playing the backyard of the Poderosa, but I guess that's my loss. Maybe that was him pounding on my metal building the other night.

The things I'm worst about, e-mail-wise, are the Amazon and Ebay confirmations. I always save those until after I've received my items, then tell myself I'll delete them immediately. Yeah. I had e-mails in there from items I'd had for months. I'm also bad about e-mails I think I just liked, and although there's not a thing I can do with them, I say, "Well, I'll keep that for later reading," then never read them nor delete them, and they just lay in my inbox like so much dust. And I'm also not so good with the Community Band's weekly newsletter, keeping it for fear I might God Help Me miss a concert, which I never do anyway because it's always pounded into our heads at rehearsals, and so they linger on way too long as well.

I've got e-mails from over 2 years ago, like the one from Dutchie telling me my essays had been accepted for reading on the radio, and the one from my early 80s TV hero Bill Tush, and the one from Mr M sent the night before my surgery telling me I was his hero. I'll never get rid of those, I guess.

But Friday night, I got right to it and started deleting stuff. And in deleting stuff I of course had to read it, well, most of it, and you know, some of my friends and compatriots send me e-mails that just make me laugh out loud. So I thought I'd tell you about some of the best.

Like the one from Mike, Man of Mystery and Movies. It was a simple two-line note sent for no reason at all, except maybe as a helpful life lesson. It read: "Here's something that might come in handy someday. If you've committed a murder, and Nick and Nora Charles are around, when he invites you and all of the other suspects over, DON'T GO." I'm going to remember that one.

Later, Mike also, when giving me a movie recommendation, said about the movie "Kikujiro": "Again, Japanese kid, some crying, a strange middle section where some guy runs around naked." I hope that movie's in my Blockbuster queue; if not, I'd better get it there pronto.

This one-line e-mail comes courtesy of Stennie, who was I'm sure commenting on's Pet of the Day. As we often do. "'Mr Noodles likes to be held and rubbed all over.' Hey, so do I!" And well, who doesn't, really? Lucky Mr Noodles, anyway.

Stennie also gave us this statement of distinction, in regards to our podcast topic of the "Eight Is Enough" theme song: "By the way, I'm almost positive now that the line is, 'There's a plate of home-made wishes on the kitchen window sill,' but I'm not willing to watch an episode of 'Eight Is Enough' to double-check it." Neither am I, Stenns - I'll defer to you no matter what lyric you come up with.

Along those same lines, Stennie was waxing poetic about her cat Boo's days as an actor. (Did you know Stennie's cat Boo used to an actor? Stennie's cat Boo used to be an actor. That is why he is irretrievably fucked-up and is now on Prozac.) In reference to his most famous role, Stennie says, "Sometimes I'm tempted to watch 'Nash Bridges' just to see if I can find my little Boo. Fortunately, the temptation always passes rather quickly."

Oh, here's another good Stennie e-mail. It says simply, "Well, screw you then! Who wants your stinkin' autograph?" Sadly, the answer to this question is "no one," my dear Niblet.

Finally on the Stennie front, I would be remiss in my duties as your blogger if I didn't include this one, which still makes me laugh. "'Judgement at Nuremberg' was on today. How fucking hot is Maximillian Schell? I'd do him dead, and he's still alive." I couldn't agree with you more, as I had the same thought the first time I saw J at N. Unfortunately, I just sat there and panted and didn't send such an eloquent missive to anyone over the internet.

I found the e-mail from my friend, fellow Sauerkraut Band member, and all-around Renaissance Man Seth. It read only: "Ice cream lasagna? May the Holy Mother of God and all the saints preserve us!" I guess Sethie had been looking at the recipe du jour. I hope so, anyway. I hope he didn't, totally independent of me, have the thought of ice cream lasagna lurking in his head.

Speaking of the Sauerkraut Band, here's a little exchange between Seth and Mr M in an e-mail sent to the whole SKB, regarding our invitation by some unknown hoo-hah to play an Oktoberfest celebration in, of all places, Malaysia:

Seth: Isn't this the country that arrests you for something as minor as merely chewing gum or drinking a beer on the streets? Hell, they'd arrest Eddie and Russell before we even left the airport, just on principle...
Mr M: Eddie and Russell should be arrested HERE, just on principle. We do incarcerate people for "crimes against nature" here too, don't we?
Seth: It would be a shame if the band were the focus of an international incident. I picture a number of governments in a bidding war. Only they'd be offering a ransom to get the kidnappers to return us to some other country.
Mr M: I say that, if we get kidnapped, we need to trick the kidnappers into feeding hot wings to Eddie and Russell. We'd be on the street in no time.

I don't think the Sauerkraut Band will be playing that Malaysia gig anyway. After all, the first letter of request stated that the country was trying to put on a "respectable Oktoberfest." To quote Seth himself, may the Holy Mother of God and all the saints preserve us.

I also, since I was on a deleting roll, went into my hotmail account to get rid of my current inbox. It's a little different with hotmail. I only have this account to use when signing up for and ordering things, so it's just one big spamfest. As I'm sure all of your hotmails are as well. So I didn't read witty repartee from my buddies there, though I can't say I didn't laugh once or twice at the subject titles of the e-mails.

There was mail from someone called "Rhondas" (I'm not sure exactly how many Rhondas were involved), and the mail's title was "I Send You The Sweet Music." Well, that was awfully nice of the Rhondas, and I thank them the very much. Charles sent me an e-mail entitled, "Sweeeeeeeeet Watches." Charles apparently 1) really likes the letter e, 2) heard the 15th week of the Hucklebug podcast where we mentioned watches would be a fine anniversary gift, or 3) both. Or 4) neither, he's just kind of dumb and 5) really wants to sell me some watches.

I had about 17 e-mails from the Red Cross, somewhat similar to the number of e-mails I get from the Humane Society, because I contributed to both during Hurricane Katrina and they apparently think I'm such a nice person I'm going to give them some more money even though nothing much is going on right now. Guys, I like you and you do good work. I'll tell my friends. Now send them some e-mails instead of me, OK?

Of course, hotmail is just a hotbed of sexual activity, and I got a lovely, lovely e-mail from some nice girl named BarbaraAnn23 with the request, "Let's Screw Our Brains Out." I'm afraid I'm going to have to take a pass on that one, BarbaraAnn, mainly because it appears you already have screwed your brains out, simply by virtue of the fact that you sent this e-mail to me. Anyway, why don't you let me introduce you to Sandra28, who sent me the e-mail with the subject title, "Nice Shoes, Wanna Fuck?" Well, Sandra28, to you I say, "Geez, They're Only Keds, No."

Maybe Mike would enjoy a forward of the e-mail I received from HotChik, who can't spell and is "Looking For Hot Crazy Sex No Strings Attached." Well, I don't know. Are ropes considered strings? Sorry, Mike. I'll let you decide if you're interested; if you are, please try and convince her to add a "c" to her moniker.

And finally, I had an e-mail in there of a type I don't normally find. It was from Costa Rica. The whole country, apparently, and was advertising that I could "Control 60K of Costa Rican Land!" I'm not quite sure what to make of that one. First of all, how does Costa Rica know I even exist, and this land - do I get to own it, or just control it? Because unless I also got control of some people to work on it, it wouldn't be of much use. "I control this land!" I could say to myself, standing there with arms akimbo and a foot planted firmly on a Costa Rican tree stump.

And a blade of grass would answer quietly, "Do not." And I'd hear it. I hear things like that lately.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Again, no acro this week due to the impending holiday. The acrobasket will be occupied, as will I, as will all of you. Enjoy the fireworks and be safe driving home.