Thursday, September 28, 2006

Just Don't Ask Me, OK?

I'm getting grouchy again.

I try not to be grouchy, really. I like to be a happy person, with a smile on my face and a song in my heart, but sometimes this is a harder task to accomplish than I'm willing to put the work into. The song in my heart generally remains there, but occasionally it turns from "Zip A Dee Doo Dah" into "Fuck Off And Leave Me Be," if in fact that is a song. If not, maybe I'll write it.

I walked into the office today on my return from lunch with this statement to the office girls: "I know I'm going to be old one day, but if getting old makes me as grouchy as my parents have gotten, I swear I hope someone takes a cast iron skillet and beats the hell out of me."

See, I have this thing. Well, actually, I have several things and that is why I'm generally considered a pod and a hinky one at that, but there is just this one thing that drives me batshit crazy. And that thing is, when someone comes to me and asks me something, and I answer that something - and then they tell me I'm wrong!

God Jesus, that just gets all over me, like tar and feathers, and I'll stew all day over it.

I have several people in my life who do this to me, and if you're reading this blog you can be assured that you're not one of them, so don't worry, I'm not talking about you here. Anyway, the main two are my father and, in the grand tradition of "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree," my sister.

And it was the father that prompted today's office rant-rave about being beaten with a cast iron skillet.

My father is a man who doesn't drive anymore, seeing as how he can't see to drive anymore, and yes, I'm sure if I couldn't see to drive anymore (and I'm well aware this will probably happen to me in the not-so-distant future) I'd be grouchy too, with the addition of being a whiny-ass baby about it as well, which at least my father is not and so let's commend him there. Let's also commend me on writing the longest sentence in history. So anyway, when my folks want to take a trip, my mom drives. Look back at that sentence, and imagine the fear it causes me on a daily basis. My mother got her driver's license - the same year I did. And since then, at least until the sight going for my dad, her biggest drive had been from her driveway to the grocery store or beauty shop, or if she was feeling very adventurous indeed, the mall. My mom drives about 40 miles an hour everywhere - in her driveway, on a small two-lane road, and on the interstate. Unless she's going in reverse, when she drives somewhere around 70. My mom also smokes, while she drives and does everything else, and when she's driving she's either holding a cigarette tightly between her lips not unlike cartoon characters hold lit dynamite sticks, or she perches it between her fingers and looks back and forth between the road and the ashtray, which, frankly, scares the shit out of me.

And so my mom who once toodled around town is now driving all over the free fucking world. At 40 miles an hour. My mom also gets very nervous while driving, and doesn't really understand that if you miss an exit, you can sit tight and take the next one and generally find your way where you're going. One wrong move, and it's disaster time for her. God love her. And so my dad, who is a backseat driver of the highest caliber, becomes her navigator, and he can't see, God love him, and, well, I don't know how they get anywhere without killing themselves and everyone who owns a car, whether they're on the road or not, but they seem to have done all right so far.

My mom wants to take a trip up to see her sister, who lives in Maryland, not far out of Washington, DC. She's not taken this trip since she became the driver, but she's up to the task behind the wheel with my sightless dad (God love him) as the navigator. In the many previous trips Up North, they've taken the same route - east to Richmond, and north to Maryland. It keeps them off the DC Beltway, and everyone's happy.

So anyway, today my mom and dad came into the office to stare at me a while, and my dad sat down at my desk to ask me if I'd do him a favor. Would I please look up the directions to the aunt's house on the internet for him. And I told him I was happy to oblige, but that I wanted to officially issue a disclaimer that internet directions were what had me going up 8 mountains (2 of them snow-covered) on my six-hour foray to Thomas, WV to see the Hackensaw Boys, when it was really only a four-hour trip (with no snow and the added feature of bathrooms) when I used an atlas and mapped out my own way back home.

He said he understood.

So I went online and punched in home and destination addresses, and in what certainly was no surprise at all, the directions that appeared had them going through DC on the Beltway. "Sorry about that," I said, though it wasn't my fault, and my dad replied that he knew everything about how to get to Maryland via Richmond except for one small detail. "The road that you get off on to get to the town, I just can't remember its number. It's Route 8 or something, but I just can't be sure."

So I read a little through the directions, and saw that after going through Washington, DC and giving George Bush the finger (well, my dad wouldn't do that but I would), and heading south, the road that would take them into their town was Route 5 South.

"Oh, it's Route 5," I said with accomplishment.

"No it's not," my dad replied.

"Yes, it is. It says right here, Route 5 South. All you have to do is take Route 5 North, since you're coming in from the opposite direction."

"No, that's not right."

I went on to draw, actually draw on a piece of paper with grand gestures, how there's a town with a Route 5 running right through it, and if these directions have you getting there by going up and then heading into town on the southern portion, that going east, you take the northern portion of the same road.

"No, that's not it. I'll call AAA," he said, actually pissed off that I was defending my position on this.

Well, fine. I hope they call AAA and are very happy. Or I hope they hitch-hike to Maryland and are not picked up by a man with a bloody hook. Or I hope they walk, and they'd better start now before winter comes. Just don't ask me again, because I'm not answering anymore.

And the next time someone asks me a question and then tells me the answer was wrong, I'm going straight home and getting out my cast iron skillet. God knows it'll be put to better use over someone's head than it will in my kitchen.

My parents. God love 'em. I sure hope He does, anyway, because He can take a lot better care of them on the roads than I can.

Maybe they should ask Him what route it is. (It's Route 5 N, Your Godness.)

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I spent this evening putting my meager drawing skills to use for Taytie's marching band, making props. I drew an 8 by 12 foot flugelhorn!
* And yes, there's a brand new Hucklebug for your enjoyment. Download on iTunes, or go here and listen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

At The Pod

Here I sit on a Tuesday night with nothing to blog about. I'd thought about waxing poetic with my thoughts on how reality TV seems to be all I watch on The Set lately, but once I'd come up with my blog title, "Dancing With The Amazing Wife Swapping Survivor Idols On The Runway Wondering What Not To Wear While Looking For Cash In My Attic," I realized that nothing I could write would ever live up to it. So I crossed that off my list. I don't watch some of those shows either, so even the title was a bit of a lie.

Then I thought I'd write about walking tonight in too-big pants I was afraid were going to fall off, but two things conspired against me. 1) They didn't fall off, and 2) The only thing more boring than walking is reading someone's blog about walking. No walking blog tonight.

OK, so I washed my dirndl but can't try it on to see if it shrunk until it's dry, so that's out for tonight. And I made tuna salad for dinner, not one of your more riveting kitchen tales. A squirrel hopped through my yard tonight, but I can't really expound upon that much, and even the neighbor's cat who seems to think he lives at my house was tucked neatly on his own back porch this evening.

Then I realized that I haven't told you lately what's going on at the Pod. With The Boys.

It's fall now, you know, and Sherman has started another semester of school. He homeschools with Peabody, normally I'm not the fan of homeschooling but it seems to work with Sherman. It's a very free-form type of education he gets with Mr P, studying some days, gardening other days (earth science), and traveling in the WABAC yet others (history).

This semester's subjects also include algebra, music appreciation, art, and composition, in which Sherman will be required to write a research paper.

Of course, this being Oktoberfest time, Sherman is very excited to be playing in the Sauerkraut Band up on the mountain with us again this year, in his lederhosen. He's quite the entertainer, and can even tap dance while playing "The Clarinet Polka."

Mr Peabody, besides being teacher to Sherman, of course, is also a member of the Sauerkraut Band and has been playing with us at Oktoberfest. He plays the euphonium (not as spectacularly as you'd expect from P, but he tries very hard). However, the big news in Peabody-land is that he's made the announcement it's about time he learned to play the clarinet. I'm thinking his reasoning on this was, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," as Sherman, Mr M, and I all play.

Other than that, Peabody's spare time activities include reading the complete works of Shakespeare in Swahili and doing Tai Chi every morning.

Huckleberry Hound is doing well these days. He had a particularly rough summer, as he was learning to sit in a boat. See, in case you didn't realize it, Huckie is a blue dog. Blue dogs are seriously prone to motion sickness, but Huck had promised Sherman that the two would take a ride together in Sherman's new boat. However, every time Huckie got near the vessel, the sickness would begin. But he soldiered on and actually got to the point where he could sit inside the boat while it was sitting atop my stereo. The boat hasn't made it to the creek in my back yard yet, or even to my back yard, and Huck's progress was undermined the night he was practicing sitting in the boat, and out of kindness and as a reward, Sherman gave him a chili dog. It wasn't pretty.

Will the boat trip ever take place? I do not know. I do know, though, that Huckie has expressed an interest in coming to see his compatriots Sherman and Peabody at Oktoberfest this season. I think he'd enjoy himself if he could make the trip up and down the mountain. The roads are extremely curvy, and frankly, I don't look forward to cleaning up my car after that road, a German buffet, and a couple of beers.

Besides sitting in the boat, Huckleberry enjoys reading the Birmingham, Alabama newspapers, following baseball, and breaking in his new anti-flea bowtie.

Now, I know you all worry about my friend Mr Peanut. Mr Peanut's walking the straight line of sobriety. He's done well with this, even toasting me with his lemonade while I'm hoisting the odd martini. However, there's an underlying sadness to Mr Peanut. He's not quite the same bon vivant he was when he first came to live with me. He's more settled now. And no, he still pays me no room or board money, but he also doesn't ride around with me in podmobile2 anymore, so gas money's not an issue.

The most emotion I've seen from Mr Peanut, in fact, in the past year was only last week, when I came home with a generic brand unsalted peanut. I told him that there were no Planter's unsalted nuts in the store but it didn't seem to help, and he kept mentioning his confusion that I didn't come to him and ask for a shipment to be sent to me. I should have done it. God knows he owes me. If I can't get it in cash, maybe I can get it in unsalted peanuts.

I need to be nicer to Mr Peanut, lest he go back to the bottle. Anyway, he spends his leisure time reading stories to Good Luck Baby Lily, shining his shoes, and watching Dr Phil.

Good Luck Baby Lily still has a hole in her midsection, and other than the slip in falling short helping Kellie with a special good luck need earlier in the year, still performs her magic. She's not in school yet, but she hangs around with Sherman when he's in homeschool, and likes to draw and color. She wants to learn to read "Where The Wild Things Are," her favorite book, and also wants to meet its hero Max in person.

Lily also likes to crawl a lot, for some reason, and asked me if I would look online for a ½-inch jumper for her to cover the hole in her midsection.

Gossamer the monster burps, plays hide and seek with Sherman, and has either eaten or chewed a hole in practically everything I own. Including Good Luck Baby Lily.

And that's my letter from the Pod.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, just how did you lose your spleen?
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, whose midsection is magnificent, with her "Left Romania lacking various anatomical necessities."
- Runner-up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Like Ronald lost virginity: amyl nitrates." And a few others, I daresay.
- And this week's winner goes to Michelle the Dishy, with her "Lightning rod lodged vaginally, anally - nightmarish!" Nightmarish? I can only imagine.
- I can't believe with a V in there no one used "vent!" That's what a spleen does! It vents!
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Hello, disciples of all things lettery. Welcome to Monday, and another happy round of acromania.

Let's talk spleens. I'm sure the spleen does something, I mean it's right there in the body, the Lord put it there and everything, so it must have a purpose. But a lot of people seem to lose theirs and get along fine anyway. I think about the spleen from time to time, then again I'm weird that way, but today I've been thinking about the spleen for an extended think.

This is because over the weekend some football quarterback got tackled and had to have his spleen removed. This would be a rather sad thing if I hadn't seen the news wire headline that said, "Quarterback Loses Game, Then Spleen," which made it kind of funny, even though I tried not to giggle too much over it.

So this week's acrotopic shall be, "How I Lost My Spleen." Loads of possibilities here.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket has a warning label. "Warning! Spleenless." Maybe that's why he gets grouchy from time to time. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get the quarterback's spleen in a jar, and the non-winners, who will remain spleenless. Like the acrobasket.

So the topic, "How I Lost My Spleen." The letters:


Ahhh, good old V. Don't worry, though - acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Walking done, laundry in, bath taken - it's chicken time.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Yes! It's back! After a very lazy misstep last week, I am indeed back with another round of Picture Sunday.

Guess what time it is. No, don't look at your clock, look at your calendar. It's Oktoberfest time!

It all opened up Friday evening with a private party, which was way too long, and let me tell you, I wasn't having a great time. I was tired, the crowd was, well, it was a "private party" crowd, and at one point when I was sure it was almost over, which is 10pm, I looked at Mr M's watch and saw it was actually only 8:45. From that point on I basically lost the will to live.

Saturday was much better. The old Oktoberfest crowd, some enthusiasm, the band seemed to be of better humor, and I really enjoyed myself. Only problem? It's two nights in and I'm already sick to death of German food. This does not bode well for the future.

Now, I know I always put pictures of Oktoberfest in Picture Sunday, and you may be getting a little tired of them. So this year I'm making a concerted effort to go offbeat with my photos. Like this one. Who knew the Sauerkraut Band were so well-shod?

You know, well, you probably don't remember since it was a year ago, but last year on the last night's festivities, I sold my Sauerkraut Band mugs in a fit of drunkenness. First order of business on Saturday was to buy a new one. Which held only water all night, but I did have my trusty flask of Goldschlager along for the trip.

Anyway, it was a good time, and you'll be seeing more of it than you ever really wanted to.

Oh, by the way, the new dirndl is still doing well, still fits (though I promise you I'm just not used to wearing form-fitting clothes), and I'll try to get a picture of it for you in weeks to come.

And now, time for a nature photo.

As I was leaving Mr M's today, I just couldn't resist the opportunity to make a picture of the cute little toadstools in his front yard.

Aren't they adorable? He needs a little gingerbread house or something out there with them. A gnome, maybe.

Speaking of gingerbread.... Well, no, wait. Gingerbread's something good. Anyway, it's time for the recipe du jour.

Hey - everybody loves French Onion Soup. And everybody loves French Onion Dip. And tonight's recipe goes with that theory. So you have your appetizer with the dip, and your meal with the soup, but how about some dessert? Well, here you have it, friends. Say hello if you will, from the "Ooh La La" file in cardland, to French Onion Jello.

Ooh la la indeed. This one's a quick and simple goodie. It's mainly quick and simple because I seem to have discovered today that you don't have to make Jello! You can buy it already made! Jesus, had I only known that the week of the Jello Tuna Salad Extravaganza. Anyway, all you do is take your Jello, tonight's is blue because it's pretty, and then add your French Onion Goop to it. That would be, of course, sauteed onions and cheese. And you have a dessert made for a French King. Who's about to be beheaded.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My kitchen is clean. Not so the rest of my house, because I seem to be totally incapable of cleaning more than one room at a time.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Death By Recreation

Hello, daredevils. When last I left you I was telling you about my discovery of the extreme peril I face on a daily basis just living my everyday normal life. Well, it was more than a little disconcerting, I have to tell you. And I decided that after realizing I was surrounded by death, I needed to by-God relax.

Nothing soothes the mind and soul like some good music. Maybe a nice, long walk with my portable CD player will help.

1. Read these instructions (again?)
2. Keep these instructions (again?)
3. Heed all warnings (before it's too late!)
4. Follow all instructions (from everybody? if Jimmy tells me to jump off a building, I should jump?)

- Use of controls or adjustments or performance of procedures other than herein may result in hazardous radiation exposure. This is so poorly worded I'm not really sure I understand it, but I sure understand "radiation exposure." I've been walking a long path at the middle school lately, because the track is taken up by Little League football practice. I'll have that track all to myself, though, when I grow that third eye.
- To comply with FCC rules, this device must accept any interference received, including interference that may cause undesired operation. What? So, is this telling me if I hear the Voice of God through my speakers telling me to kill someone, I must comply? "Keep these instructions" has taken on a whole new meaning. I'll need them at the trial.
- Danger of explosion if battery is replaced incorrectly. Yeah, like with a hammer and nails.
- Replace with battery only of same or equivalent type. Are they telling me to replace my dead batteries only with dead batteries? Because something tells me that's not gonna work.
- Use only with a cart, stand, tripod, bracket, or table specified by the manufacturer. When a cart is used, use caution when moving the cart/apparatus combination to avoid injury from tipover. You know, I was going to buy a special rolling cart for my 4½ inch portable CD player, but I figured rolling it along the walking path might make me look funny.
- This product may contain lead and mercury. And radiation.

OK, walking with the CD player is out. Maybe a bike ride would settle me down.

- Contact between your foot and the front wheel or fender can cause you to lose control and fall. Or lose a toe in the spokes.
- A steering wobble can cause you to lose control and fall. I daresay it could.
- A bicycle that does not work properly can cause you to lose control and fall. I didn't know that!
- A wheel attachment device that is not properly adjusted can cause the wheel to be loose or come off unexpectedly, causing you to lose control and fall. Is there ever a time your wheel comes off expectedly?
- Malfunctioning brakes can cause you to lose control and fall. I have a feeling that where malfunctioning brakes are concerned, losing control and falling is the least of one's worries.
- Applying sudden or excessive stopping force can cause the front wheel to slip out from under you, which can cause you to lose control and fall. Bad brakes - bad. Oddly enough, good brakes - bad.
- A bicycle that malfunctions can cause you to lose control and fall. Isn't that the same as #3?
- An improperly adjusted handlebar can cause you to lose control and fall. Especially if you adjust your handlebar to somewhere below the front wheel.
- A quill system that is positioned too high can cause you to lose control and fall. I don't even know what a quill system is. I guess I'm doomed at this point.
- A seatpost that is positioned too high can cause you to lose control and fall. Especially if it's so high your feet don't reach the pedals. And you're going uphill.
- It is important that you always wear a helmet when riding a bike. Well, with all this losing control and falling, I can see why.
- Disc brakes get very hot during use and can burn skin. Which, something tells me, could cause you to lose control and fall.
- The following riding practices increase your risk of injury: jumping your bicycle, performing stunts, off-road riding, downhill riding, abnormal bike riding. And losing control and falling. They should have just said, "Getting on the damn thing." And hey, downhill is what I do best. And is riding your bike an average of once every three years considered "abnormal?"
- Never modify your frameset or parts in any way. Does this include playing cards clothespinned to the spokes to make it sound like a motorcycle?
- Extended riding with a poorly adjusted saddle that does not support your pelvic area can cause injury. The kind you'd just rather not shout out in a crowded emergency room, too.

Holy Mother of God. So much for that. I don't guess I'll ever ride my bike again.

I guess all that's left is complete quiet, away from it all, in the Comfy Chair, with my soothing vibrating back pad.

- Use this appliance only for its intended purpose as described in this manual. DO NOT use attachments not recommended by manufacturer. So I guess a night of fun with the carnal attacments is right out.
- NEVER use while sleeping, or fall asleep while using the massager. OK, I'm in my Comfy Chair having a back massage. I sleep about three hours a night. I think I'm going to fall asleep, and I'll accept the consequences.
- NEVER drop or insert any object into any opening. Of any thing, at any time, anywhere on earth.
- This appliance is designed for personal, non-professional use only. Personal use? And I can't put any carnal attachments on it?
- Do not use outdoors. Especially with a cup of coffee or a margarita made in a blender.
- Do not crush. Hey, I'm sitting on it, aren't I?
- Do not use product before bed. It has a stimulating effect which may delay sleep. Not without the carnal attachments, it doesn't.
- Please consult your doctor before using product. "Hey, doc, I know it's one in the morning, but can I use my vibrating back pad? No, no, not with the carnal attachments...."
- Do not use while bathing or in the shower. The cord's not long enough, anyway. But I have an interesting vision of myself standing in the shower with a chair-shaped vibrating back pad tied around me.
-NEVER use pins or other metallic fasteners with this product. That's why I'm tying it on in the shower! No pins on my naked skin!

Oh well. I guess I'll just stand around in a safe room. If I can find one. I'm all keyed up, though.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Hey, if you haven't already, amble over to the Hucklebug podcast. It's episode 24, a very special episode indeed!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Death By Convenience

It all started so innocently.

I wanted a keyboard for home just like the one I had at work. I like my work keyboard, it's fun to type upon, peck-peck-peck, all day long. And so I went looking for one and didn't find one for months. But then a few weeks ago, I found one almost exactly like it. In fact, it was the two-or-three steps above the one I had at work model, and so I scooped it up. And have been happily peck-peck-pecking away at home now.

But one night I just happened to look down at my fingers as I was pecking. It's something I don't normally do, and my eyes quickly focused, not on my fingers really, but on something beside them. It was a little sticker on my new keyboard. It had a triangle with an exclamation point inside it and said, "WARNING! To reduce risk of serious injury, read Safety & Comfort Guide provided with product."

"What?" I said. "Serious injury? Is that little quarter moon button in the top left hand corner electrified? That button with the house icon over it - if I push it will it cause my house to collapse around me, burying me in the rubble? Or will it all just, five minutes after the warranty expires, turn into a massive ball of flames?"

I quickly dismissed the whole thing, well, quickly but not completely. For I still look at that little warning label and giggle occasionally, which is precisely why I haven't yet taken it off the keyboard.

But the other day I got to thinking. "If something as innocuous as a computer keyboard can seriously injure my person, what other dangers do I have lurking around me?" Folks, you have no idea.

Let's start with those things I have to deal with during the week. At work. How about our office digital camera?

- Do not place a battery in a fire or heat the battery. I can honestly say I've never had the yen for hot batteries.
- Do not carry a battery together with coins, necklaces, hairpins, or other metal objects. To avoid injury, do not drop a battery into a change-filled pocket. Well, that lets out a fashionable battery necklace or battery hairclip. However, I'm positive that at one time or other I've intermingled batteries and coins, in a pocket or handbag. I still seem to be here, unscathed. And don't think I'm not grateful.
- Do not pierce a battery with nails, strike a battery with a hammer, or step on a battery. I know of no circumstance, other than complete anger, which I'm certainly capable of, in which one would strike a battery with a hammer. However, anyone who's been in my home has been in danger of stepping on one. Let me now officially issue a disclaimer for any lost limbs.
- Do not disassemble or modify a battery. "Boy, if I could just get this thing apart and tinker with it a little, I'll bet I could get a good 15 more minutes of life out of it!"

How about that little machine of hate I wish had never been invented, the fax?

- Never install telephone wiring during an electrical storm. "Martha, I'll get started on this telephone with some pliers, and you go outside and fly your kite with the key on the string."
- Do not install or use a fax machine near water, or when you are wet. Just what I always wanted. A fax machine in the bathtub.
- Do not use a telephone to report a gas leak. Any telephone? What, do we just go outside and yell, "Gas Leak!" Or do we write a note to the gas company - "Dear Sirs, little problem here. Gas leak. Hope this reaches you within the next, oh, 20 minutes. Posthumously yours, Bet."

I was so happy to find out our office scanners can not in fact kill us. Well, the scanners. However, something much more dangerous can. TheCompanyIWorkFor itself. At the bottom of every page of the scanner booklet is printed, and it's the same booklet any Joe who buys a scanner from the store gets, "For internal use only. Nothing contained in this document shall be disclosed outside TheCompanyIWorkFor unless proper authorization is obtained." It's a fucking copy of the fucking booklet that came with the fucking scanner! Just how paranoid is TheCompanyIWorkFor, anyway?

OK. So if I don't touch a battery or use the fax machine (and who wants to?), I think I'm safe at work. But home? I can't believe I've lived this long.

I like my mini-frying pan, or used to, anyway.

- Keep this product out of the reach of children and pets. So much for letting the dog fry up his own burger. Do I have to do everything around here? (And just what is a pet's reach?)
- Do not touch hot surfaces. So simple, and yet so useful.
- This product is intended for use in pan-frying foods fit for human consumption. OK. Who wants to buy my mini-frying pan? Half price, come on.

My gas hot water heater's manual had some good advice.

- Improper installation, adjustment, alteration, or service can cause DEATH, SERIOUS BODILY INJURY, OR PROPERTY DAMAGE. After the death, would the other two really matter much? I say, roundly, "no."
- Hotter water can scald. Noooo. I refuse to believe it. Next you'll tell me colder water can freeze.
- Water heaters eventually leak. Yes, this is a warning. Mainly it's a warning that when this water heater does in fact leak and soaks my living room carpet, like my last one did, they'll shake a finger at me and say, "See? Told you."
- This appliance has a pilot light which must be lighted by hand. If you smell gas, do not light this appliance. Unless you want to end up on "America's Funniest Home Videos."

Think a vacuum cleaner's a walk in the park? Think again.

- Do not use without dust cup filter in place. Lest you spend the evening wondering aloud why there's dust flying all over your damn house.
- Use extra care when cleaning on stairs. Lest you fall down and break your neck, and then smother from all that dust where you didn't put your dust cup filter in place.
- Keep your work area well-lighted. Lest you miss the large clumps of dust which have settled from where you didn't have your dust cup filter in place.
- This vacuum creates suction. No shit. Actually, my answer to this is, "Not nearly enough."
- Do not use as a toy. What is wrong with these people? Didn't they grow up in my house? "OK, girls, let's play house! Bet, you run the vacuum cleaner, and your sister gets to dust, and I'm going to play the little girl and watch my stories all afternoon!"

Lord have mercy. I can't believe I've been living for five years with the Appliance of Death known as the electric range. You know it's bad when the first line of the owner's manual reads like this:

- You can be killed or seriously injured if you don't IMMEDIATELY follow these instructions. I haven't even read them yet! How can I immediately follow them?
- A child or adult can tip the range and be killed. I gave it a $20 bill after it made me a nice turkey and pumpkin pie one Thanksgiving, and it didn't hurt me at all. In fact, it seemed rather appreciative.
- Never use the range for warming or heating the room. Yes, obviously the range people didn't grow up in my house either, because they didn't even add to this disclaimer, "And please don't heat your children's socks in the oven so they'll go off to school happy on a cold day."
- Wear proper apparel. Loose fitting or hanging garments should never be worn while using the range. Lawks a mercy. I made it to my mid-forties without realizing there are "baking clothes." Maybe that's why my groovy babysitter with the peasant blouse went off to make us cookies one afternoon and was never heard from again. I just thought she got tired of us.

I wonder how many people immediately followed the instructions and headed off to read the rest of that manual in really tight clothes?

Never mind. We need to concentrate on the blender now. Because, you know, your life is at stake.

- Do not use outdoors. Now, I have serious problems with this one right off the bat. I mean, a person has a nice back deck and how in the shit can they not be expected to make frozen margaritas on it? Haven't these people ever heard of tailgating?
- Keep hands out of container while blending to reduce the risk of severe personal injury or damage to blender. "Hmm, wonder if those sharp blades are really rotating at a high rate of speed? Just let me check." Or damage to blender! "Hol-ee Fuck. Not only did I cut off my hand, but now I can't even use my stub to push a button to make up a smoothie."
- Always operate blender with cover in place. "There's crap all over my walls now - I'd have never guessed that was gonna happen!" Oh, well, at least it'll keep you from sticking your hand in there while it's running.
- Do not use this appliance for other than intended. Intended by whom? Hey, I bought this thing intending to see my goldfish chopped into a million pieces.

Now, I like the wording of the owner's manual to my coffee machine. Because it says in big black letters, "KNOW YOUR COFFEEMAKER!" People, I know my coffeemaker like no wife ever knew a husband. Still....

- Do not use outdoors. Again with the outdoors! Stop with the outdoors! If I want to make coffee in my backyard, you're not gonna stop me!
- Do not pour coffee in the direction of people. I may know my coffeemaker, but he apparently doesn't know me. I never have people over here.

I have a DVD player, and I'm sure you do, too. Who knew? Its owners manual's instructions start with - instructions!

1. Read instructions
2. Retain instructions (like, in a drawer, or commit to to memory?)
3. Heed warnings (before it's too late!)
4. Follow instructions (you mean I have to read, remember, and follow them? geez, you're no fun)

- Do not place on an unstable cart as it may tip over, causing serious damage to product. Or your toe, but they don't care about that, do they?
- Never spill or spray any type of liquid on the product. Isn't it why they call it a spill? Because it's an accident? And does a spit-take count as a spray? No more comedies, I'm afraid.
- The product should be mounted on a wall or ceiling only as recommended by the manufacturer. The ceiling? Who in the hell mounts their DVD player on the ceiling? You'd have to get up on a ladder to play a movie, and just think of the opportunities for injury that would bring. And the hanging wires! It's a deathtrap!
- "Notes on locating the DVD player." This was a section heading. I thought at first, "Easy! Just point at it and say, 'There it is!'" Turns out they meant, "Notes for scouting out where to place your DVD player." I'm thinking, "By the TV."

Oddly enough, the manual for my new and beloved TV had amazingly similar instructions to those for the DVD player, even though they're made by different companies. Seems to be, anyway....

1. Read these instructions
2. Keep these instructions (thank God I don't have to memorize them)
3. Heed all warnings (before it's too late!)
4. Follow all instructions (including how to locate my TV, I guess)

- This product should be mounted on a wall or ceiling only as recommended by the manufacturer. Now listen, people. This is the television it took four people to carry into my house. This TV set weighs upwards of 400 pounds. It's not gonna hang on my wall, and if it's mounted on my ceiling, well, I don't even want to think about what happens when it falls on me while I'm watching it in bed. I'd end up just a greasy spot on my Sealy mattress.

Oh, speaking of my Sealy mattress, the one my folks bought for me that ensures a restful night, its little "mattress guide" contains these nuggets of wisdom.

- Do not expose mattress to open flame. So much for that bedroom barbecue.
- Do not smoke in bed. What are you, my mother?

And now, back to where it all began. My innocent little keyboard, the one I'm using as we speak (though not near open flame).

- There may be a risk of SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURIES from working at your computer workstation. Yes. Like my ass turning to granite after five hours at the thing.
- The warning signs of these disorders can include:
*Numbness, burning, or tingling. I told you it would become a ball of flames.
*Soreness, aching, or tenderness. Or longing, sarcasm, or disappointment.
*Pain, throbbing, or swelling. If you're visiting the right websites.
*Tightness or stiffness. Ditto.
*Weakness or coldness. Apparently they know about the "I have no heat in my dennette" thing.

However, the keyboard people are spreading the blame, because they also mention the dangers of using a mouse. And those CDs - hell, you could cut someone's head off with those! And the monitor's gonna have us all blind in several years. And the wires around here. How I've kept from being hung this far is beyond me.

I'm typing on borrowed time.

At least I'm not forbidden from using my keyboard outdoors.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, tell me about embarrassing weather phenomena.
- Runner-up goes to Flipsycab, with her "Darting under roofs prevents raindrop fellatio."
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, with her "Donna understimated radar path. Result? Flooded."
- And this week's winner goes toKellie (with an ie), with her "During Unrelenting Rain, Panties Ruined. Fizzlesticks."
- Thanks to all who played. You've all done very well!

Monday, September 18, 2006


Hello, letter lovers. It's Monday, and you know what that means. Another round of acromania.

I walked again tonight, and the humidity took me by the throat and wouldn't let go. And the gnats who seem to love the humidity so much, well, you know how a dog's eyes get in the heat of the summer? Not pretty to be sure, but mine were approaching it when I came off my last lap.

So this week's acrotopic was going to be "Humidity." But then I figured, hey, you just can't do a lot with humidity. So how about the all-encompassing "Embarrassing Weather Phenomena." Were you once downwind of a cow field? (If you were at a Virginia Tech home football game, you were.) Did the thunder once make your grandma wet her pants? Spill it all here, friends.

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 once had a very embarrassing weather moment. After a tornado, his wicker ended up, well, ended up someplace it wasn't supposed to be. That's all he'll let me divulge. Then at 10pm est tomorrow night I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will receive a new umbrella, and the non-winners, who'll just stand there in the rain like, well, like non-winners.

So, the topic: "Embarrassing Weather Phenomena." The letters:


Now, stop looking at that high-pressure system and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Ummmmm. Ummmmmm. I'm stumped. Oh!
* We record the Hucklebug tonight! I'd better get moving!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

No Picture Sunday

Sorry, guys. I'm tired. I stayed home this weekend because it's my last weekend before the whirlwind that is Oktoberfest begins, but instead of resting, I worked really hard.

No pictures.

And to add insult to injury, I went to the trouble of doing a recipe du jour today, and it didn't work. It looks just like a real dish.

So bear with me. Stepping up the walking program has me completely off-kilter, but hopefully I'll get myself back on track soon.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Yes, I know, readers. I've let you down.

Friday, September 15, 2006

(Hello. You know, you write a blog this long in an hour, you're bound to have mistakes. Probably not 57 of them, like I did in this one, but a few. I've corrected them, well, all I could find.)

The Second Great CD Mix Exchange Track List

Hello, music lovers. There are CDs flying around out there, across our great nation, east and west, and right to your houses. Well, to your houses if you involved yourself in the Second Great CD Mix Exchange.

A little backstory for the uninitiated. The First Great CD Mix Exchange happened around March of this year, and it went a little like this: A track list of 25 songs, each song having a different description attached to it. You know, "favorite political track," "great live song." Then anyone who wanted to join in said simply, "Sign me up!" and they took that list and ran with it, finding their own personal song choices that matched those track descriptions. An exchangee would make a CD for every other exchangee who signed up; thus, if 12 people were in the exchange, you'd send out 11 CDs (you wouldn't send one to yourself, of course, unless you're just odd) and get 11 back. CDs were to be sent without track listings (this was one of the more confusing portions of the first exchange, which had its share of snags, but was a blast nonetheless), then track listings would be published in the exchangees' blogs after the CDs were sent out. And a good time would be had by all. We'd get to tiptoe around barefoot in the minds of those folks we only know from blogs and internet ramblings, and more people would visit our blogs, because they'd be heading there to see the names of the songs we'd put on our CDs.

Sounds complicated, but it wasn't. I think about a dozen people participated. Some of us had our own little rules we'd set for ourselves, like Stennie refused to put two songs by any one artist on hers, and I was determined to keep my 25 songs onto a single CD, so the math of song times was a little maddening. ("Hey! I need a 'song that makes you want to drink beer' that's under 50 seconds!") Anyway, it was fun, the tiny circle of my internet world broadened a bit, and I'm glad it happened.

Then - the Second Great CD Mix Exchange was announced. Just a couple of weeks ago, by Stennie, and I knew I couldn't refuse. These things are too fun, and I'm always welcome to hear other people's music, share mine, and spread the love. Only 20 tracks this time around, a blessing, as time wouldn't be of the essence. We had 8 exchangees for Exchange II, and there was only one category that really got me. On the first Exchange, there were a couple of categories that had me pulling out my hair looking for a matching song - like, "A song you like that you completely disagree with its lyrics" (if I disagree with it, why would I like it?), and, "A genre of music no one would have guessed you like" (everyone knows I like just about everything). This time around the only toughie was #13, "A song you've 'played out.'" I mean, if I've played it out, why do I want it on my CD?

But there you have it. I started coming up with a song list for my 20 tracks, and somewhere in there decided I was going to make not one, but two CD Mix Exchange CDs! Just because I could! (And it would make choosing between to the two final candidates easier and help to keep me from repeating artists on one CD this time around.)

At the time of this writing I've received four CDs. Stennie's and Flipsycab's came Wednesday, which couldn't have been better timing because I drive to B'burg on Wednesday nights. Fun, fun, fun from the Stenns and the Flips. Great driving music. Kelly's and LilyG's came today, and I can forsee a music-filled Friday Chill Night in my immediate future. They included track listings, but I'm trying not to let my curiosity get the better of me till I get home tonight and listen. I like to be surprised, but then again, I like to shake Christmas presents till they break.

And now without further ado, here are my track listings for the Second Great CD Mix Exchange.

CD One:

1. A Song you like to wake up to. "Jumpin' in the Morning," by Ray Charles. This little number, oddly enough, does not get me "jumpin' in the morning." It wakes me up, but I find it a great "lazing around the house till you're ready to start the day" song. There was a point in my life a few years ago that I spent every single Sunday morning the same way - sitting on the bed in pajamas, drinking coffee, reading the newspaper, and listening to side 1 of the "What'd I Say" album, which I truly believe is a gift from God above.
2. An "earworm" song - one you hear once and it gets stuck in your head all day long. "Clarinet Polka," by Bela Fleck. As a whistler, any song at all is earworm fodder for me. So I went to a higher power for my choices on this track. My TheCompanyIWorkFor workmates. "What do I whistle the most?" I asked, and the answer was unanimous: "Band junk." So I thought about the band junk that really gets inside my head, and thus the Polka. Hey, love me, people - I was thisclose to putting the Sauerkraut Band's version of this song on your CDs. I put Bela's instead because I think it's cute. As is Bela.
3. A one-hit wonder. "The Israelites," by Desmond Dekker and the Aces. I've no idea why I ended up with this one. There are many other one-hit wonders out there I'm closer to, but when I was looking through my library this one just kept coming back to me. I owned this record. Probably still do, somewhere in that box of a zillion 45s I have. It had a yellow label.
4. A song that makes you laugh. "I'm My Own Grandpa," by Homer & Jethro. The story of a poor fellow whose relatives just fucked his lineage up something horrible. Maybe it's my southern backwoods heritage that endears me to this song, but I can remember listening to it with parents and grandparents (who are two different sets of relatives) as a kid and trying to figure out the story. I was generally OK till about midway through the second verse, then I'd lose the thread. Took me about 30 years to finally get it together enough to believe it works.
5. A traveling song - one about traveling, or one you like to listen to while traveling. "Take You Riding in the Car," by the Babysitters. I knew this day would come on a Mix Exchange - yes, the Babysitters, featuring no less a person than Alan F Arkin himself. Not only singing, but doing the car noises as well. That's the great Lee Hays, Babysitter and member of the Weavers, he's singing with. Mr Arkin, I'll take you riding in the car anytime you want to go. You can blow the horn, you can kick paint off, I don't care.
6. A song you like that your mom would also like. "Fool in Love," by Ike & Tina Turner. My mom likes bluegrass and can flatfoot up a hurricane, but that's dad's influence. Her first love was stuff like this. I can remember watching my mom dance all over the house and thinking how she should be a dancer on "Hullaballoo." This is a great mashed potato song. That Ike was a card, wasn't he?
7. A guilty pleasure song. "Wishing Well," by Terrence Trent D'Arby. There's just something embarrassing about it. Probably the man himself, a pretentious Marvin Gaye wannabe, but somewhere around the, "riverboat gambler - he he he" part of this song something makes me realize it's too cheesy to admit an affection for. So I won't. Even though I have one.
8. A song you like to play when you're pissed off, either to cheer yourself up, or to let off some steam. "Fortunate Son," by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I had another similarly-themed song in mind at first (a possible podcast discussion forbids me from mentioning it here), but decided to go with this original "I'm sick of our administration" song. It actually cheers me up to sing, "It ain't me, it ain't me." But then I think about a jeans company using this song as a flag-waving commercial anthem a few years back, and I get angry again. And then have to play it over to cheer myself up again.
9. An instrumental song. "Jessica," by They Might Be Giants. I have no idea how I discovered this little gem, maybe someone sent it to me, or maybe I just saw it on the old Napster and it intrigued me enough to download. It's a great fun version of the Allman Brothers instrumental classic, done with trumpets, piano, accordion, and bass clarinet. The nerdiest song in the world, and I love it. (That's me on the bass clarinet, btw. Well, in my wildest fantasies.)
10. A song from a favorite music video. "Can't Get There From Here," by REM. This was the most fun video. Michael Stipe with peroxide blonde hair, haystacks and "peanuts for sale" signs along roads I'm sure I've traveled down Georgia way. I wanted to make sure that this video was as good now as I remembered it being then, so I went back and found my old copy. It is. No budget, nothing slick, just, well, fun.
11. A song from TV. Could be a soundtrack, theme song, or even commercial. "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah," by the Violent Femmes. OK, so it's a cover and not the original, but how could I not include Jet Screamer's #1 hit from the "Win a Date With Jet Screamer" episode of "The Jetsons." It's Elroy's song, not Judy's, but she wins the date. (Elroy and Jet on a date might have been interesting.) I blogged about this song last year. About how it's driven me crazy for nigh-on 40 years that "Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah" means "meet me tonight," though the song says it means "I love you." Screw a kid up, won't ya, Hanna-Barbera?
12. A kick-ass cover song. "Success," by Elvis Costello. I don't think I could put it any better than I did on the CD envelope description. Lyrically and musically, the perfect country song, sung by the perfect singer. I wish Elvis would do an "Almost Blue II" album. His voice and musical scale have grown so much since the first one.
13. A song you've "played out." In other words, a song you used to like but have listened to too many times. "Clove Cigarette," by Stephen Ashbrook. I found this in the good old Napster days when I had the intention of putting together a CD of smoking songs. I'd never heard of the song or artist. Still couldn't tell you a thing about either, but I fell in love with this song and played it over and over, till it lost its lustre. Rarely listen now, but I tell you, if I could play guitar I'd still want to learn this. Just to play along and sing, "Light me a clove cigarette, and pass me down the bottle. We'll raise our glasses high, and drink to no tomorrow."
14. A song about one of the Seven Deadly Sins. "The Dressing Song," by Michael Feinstein. I had a few songs floating around for this category, and I knew I wanted it to make sin fun. I chose this one, which is from that movie classic "The 5000 Fingers of Dr T," because it's just glorious in its greediness. It also brings in pride, lust, and gluttony. For me, anyway. Lyrics by Dr Suess, no less!
15. A song that makes you cry. "Satan's Jeweled Crown," by the Seldom Scene with Emmylou Harris. Emmylou has one of those voices that can make you cry like a baby if applied to the right song. And this is the right song. Everytime I hear her sing, "This life that I've lived, so sinful and evil...I know my reward will be Satan's jeweled crown," I just want to boo-hoo. And often do.
16. A song about a real person. "Elvis Presley Blues," by Gillian Welch. The first time I heard this song (thanks, Mike!), I was just blown away. I'm not so much the Elvis fan, and you might not be either, but how you can listen to this song and not end up with a certain affinity for the man is beyond me. Well bless my soul, what's wrong with me.
17. A song about music. "Sweet Soul Music," by Arthur Conley. Also a one-hit wonder (many of my songs ended up fitting multiple categories, btw) that mentions real people even (see?), I've loved this song since I was a kid. Not only is this a song about music, but it's a song about loving music. And really, who can argue with that?
18. A song with a one-word title. "Hell," by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. The song that makes Hell fun! And really, that's about all I have to say, other than I'll get on a jag every once in a while and play this song over and over. Haven't played it out, though, I still always enjoy it.
19. A song you like that your dad would also like. "Gospel Plow," by the Hackensaw Boys. You didn't really think I'd leave the Hackensaws off my Mix Exchange, do you? This has become the one song I wait for when I see them live, because it really is, as I said on my CD envelope description, "the sound of six men desperate to get into Heaven." And it seems like they do it faster and faster every time I see them. Go, Baby J! Play that accordion and sing like a man possessed!
20. Your first favorite song. "Casting My Spell," by the Talismen. Now, to answer LilyG's question, "How can you have 2 first favorite songs," I say, "Easy." I always have more than one favorite anything, and I divided it up between the two CDs into "first favorite record" and "first favorite song." This is the first single I remember from my childhood, and it was indeed my favorite. I even blogged about it a few years ago. It was rockin' when I was five, and it's rockin' now. Thank God I found it on CD, since I was playing my broken single up until then. Bit of trivia: lead guitar on "Casting My Spell?" Oh, some unknown hoo-hah named Jimmy Page.

CD Two:

1. A wake-up song. "Let's Have A Party," by Wanda Jackson. Now, unlike CD One, this one does get me up and moving in the morning. I mean, how could it not? Wanda has a voice that makes you want to jump right out of your skin. When The Nephew was about four, he used to sing this song all the time with me. He was particularly adorable singing, "Honky Tonky Joe is knockin' at the door, bring him in and fill him up and sit him on the floor."
2. An "earworm" song. "March, Opus 99," by Prokofiev. Another band song. It winds up and down and in and out and all over the place. One of the most fun band songs I've ever played, definitely the most fun march. Damn, I'll probably be singing it now for the rest of the day.
3. A one-hit wonder. "Let It All Hang Out," by the Hombres. This song is just weird. It's weird and dumb, and I love it. It also contains, for my money, the best use of a raspberry on a record, and doesn't the lead singer sound exactly like Jim Stafford? I even did some internet research to see if it could be, but never found an answer, so I guess it's not. This was big at our town's pool (Harmony Acres) during the summertimes of my youth.
4. A song that makes you laugh. "The Piano Has Been Drinking," by Tom Waits. I first heard this song on the old "Fernwood 2-Nite" program when Tom appeared and sang it. I thought, "Who the hell is this?" I honestly thought he was a comedian, some cast member they'd hired to be a fake musical guest. Ah, innocence. To this very day, my sister and I use the phrase "couldn't find ____ (fill in whatever the situation calls for) with a Geiger Counter."
5. A traveling song. "Cumberland Gap," by the Hackensaw Boys. Well, of course! Because it is 14 miles to the Cumberland Gap. It's always 14 miles to the Cumberland Gap, for the entire song, no matter how many times you listen. I hope they get there one day. And get to drink their liquor. Yeeee-Ha!
6. A song you and Mom like. "What'd I Say," by Ray Charles. I remember my mom singing and dancing to this one. Yes, all over the house. And to be honest and make a heartfelt confession, that "What'd I Say" album I'm so attached to - I stole it from Mom's collection. She's always been nice enough not to kill me. Thanks, Mom.
7. A guilty pleasure song. "Alright Now," by Free. Yes, for years, my #1 guilty pleasure song of all time. It's embarrassing, but so be it. I sing along, I bang my head, and now that it's out in the open I need not be ashamed. Well, too ashamed. Well, yes, I'm ashamed, but I can't help it.
8. An angy song. "Tattooed Love Boys," by the Pretenders. This song is the perfect "thrash around" song. It stops, it starts, it changes time signatures, it's got everything but the kitchen sink in it. And it's perfect for cranking up to 11 and hitting the gas pedal.
9. An instrumental. "Sleepwalk," by the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Such a nice song this is. I saw Brian do this live on some CMT television program, just him and his guitar, sitting on the steps of the Ryman Theater, and when it was over there were tears in his eyes. This version's a little more powerful and is backed by his band, but it's still good.
10. A song from a favorite video. "Song For a Future Generation," by the B52s. As you see, my videos are from the 80s, because I probably haven't seen a music video since then. I used to love this one, though, had dance steps and the members filming their own video dating tapes. Haven't seen it in years and years, though, but would like to again, just for nostalgia's sake.
11. A song from TV. "Girl," by Davy Jones. I just couldn't help it. From the classic "Brady Bunch" where Marcia promises Davy will play her prom. And of course he does, because she's Marcia Brady and everything works out for her. Davy wears some bitchin' white shoes in this episode. I'll never wash this cheek again! Or is that from the Desi Arnaz, Jr episode? I'm old.
12. A kick-ass cover song. "Uneasy Rider," by BR-549. A case of the perfect band/song cover. BR-549 were just meant to cover this old Charlie Daniels Band song. And it is indeed two covers in one, because the musical interludes between the verses are "Hot Rod Lincoln." They make some nice changes in the lyrics, like putting in George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Dale Ernhardt.
13. A song you've "played out." "The Devil in Me," by John Wesley Harding. Oh, how I used to love this song. I can't say I hate it now, it just doesn't hold the same excitement for me. It's a little hackneyed. And wasn't I nice to keep this on a separate CD from where I had my Elvis Costello song?
14. A Seven Deadly Sin song. "Beans and Cornbread," Louis Jordan. Hey, if these guys aren't filled with anger, I don't know who is! I often like to sit down at dinner and imagine my dishes hating each other. It makes life more fun.
15. A song that makes you cry. "Not Much of a Dog," by Michael Feinstein. This song probably more than any other makes me weep. Profusely. I think of all the dogs I've owned and/or loved. I can listen to this one and just about hold it together, but if I sing along? I'm gone, man. I'm just fuckin' gone.
16. A song about a real person. "Charlton Heston," by Stump. This has to be one of the odder songs in the universe. But how can you not love a song whose chorus is, "Then Charlton Heston put his vest on?" Well, you can't not love it, that's all. The rest of the lyrics are funny, too, which also makes it a song that makes me laugh, i guess.
17. A song about music. "Talkin' Seattle Grunge Rock Blues," by Todd Snider. I first heard this song on a radio station while I was visiting my folks in Florida, and I thought it was absolutely brilliant. Still do. And it makes me laugh, especially the last line.
18. A song with a one-word title. "Radio," by One Ring Zero. Yes, the theramin! I say, more theramin in pop songs! The lyrics to this song are adorable, too, and isn't it fun to sing that refrain, "Fucking Good," over and over and over. Don't listen to this one with Mom in the car, please.
19. A song you and Dad like. "Miss Maybelle," by RL Burnside. Bluegrass and blues, my dad's two musical passions. This song really is a "kitchen sink" song. In fact, I wouldn't be a bit surprised to learn there's a person somewhere in there playing a kitchen sink. The samples and sound effects make it so much more fun, though.
20. Your first favorite song. "MTA," by the Kingston Trio. This was favorite song as opposed to favorite record. Though I sure did like the cover of the Kingston Trio's "At Large" album. They looked like such nice boys. "Kinda hurts my fingers." My sister and I used to sing this as kids all the time, and into teenagerdom, when the refrain, "What a pity," was changed to "What a bummer." Oh, how we did laugh. (By the way, the "question," of course, is, "Why didn't she just hand him a nickel?")

Hope you enjoy. Can't wait to hear the rest of your CDs!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Doing this on my lunch hour. Time to go back now.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I Win, I Win!

I always describe myself as "non-competitive." I think the reason for this is twofold: 1) It sounds very noble, and 2) When I lose at something, it makes it seem like it doesn't matter.

And in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't. Which is not to say that I don't like to win, at the odd board game or trivia challenge or argument. I just don't feel like I go overboard on it.


I mean, is it competitiveness that makes me go apeshit nutso crazy when I play the clarinet? Is that why, after missing a few notes in a two-measure sixteenth note passage, I tend to stop, lose my mind a little, and want to start over? And I don't mean start over at the two-measure sixteenth note passage. I mean start back over from the beginning, even if I'm four pages into the piece. Because I want to have one more shot at a mistake-free play. I sometimes think of that as competing with myself for my own affections. I also sometimes think of it as low frustration tolerance. I also think of it as apeshit nutso crazy. But that's me.

And it kills me to sit there beside Mr M, who can play fast and sightread and be in tune and fry an egg while he's playing the finale of "Rigoletto." Makes no difference that he's a former professional symphony player, and has probably practiced his egg-making skills many years. He's just better than me, and frankly, it pisses me off. The funny thing is, if he messes up a two-measure sixteenth note passage, I think nothing of it. It doesn't ruin the piece. It only ruins it when I mess one up.

I like to be the best at trivia. This doesn't embarrass me in the least to admit, nor for some reason does it embarrass me to admit that I am in fact not the best at trivia. I probably like it the most, but I'm not the best. Take a gander at Stennie's Daily Trivia on any given day (go ahead - take a gander!) and you will see that this is indeed true. I play every day, but I seldom give the right answer. And the thing is, if I don't know the answer and therefore do not give the best answer, then I strive to give the funniest answer. And another gander over Stennie's way will let you know very quickly that I don't do that either.

It really gets up my snout when people are too competitive. And speaking of which, hi sis! My sister, whom I love dearly, is one of these people who must get the last word in. And she's, well, and I do love her dearly, a bad sport. This makes me laugh in one way, because when she was in high school and the Senior Superlatives were handed out, she was given the legend "Best Sport." My sister is the poorest sport in history! But in another way it doesn't make me laugh, because I have to hear her complain, anytime her team doesn't win, about the bad officiating, and the rotten fans of the other team, and that the field dipped too much in the middle, and that the other team contained not-so-very nice players. And often I leave a sporting event with her, but not so much with her because I'm walking two feet ahead of her pretending I don't know her because she's talking just a little too loudly about all of the above and I don't want to be lumped in the "poor sport" category or beaten to a pulp. Everyone in town knows we're sisters, but I still give her a slight glance of non-recognition, as if to say, "Who the hell is this bad citizen?"

Back in the old days of that chat extravaganza #squeeze, some of us would occasionally dip into another chat channel called #trivia. A bot gave out random trivia questions and the first person who typed the right answer would get points. I liked getting the right answer. I will not deny that at all. And I also type very quickly. And so I could generally hold my own in the #trivia world, except for those times when I was just plain stumped. Then, of course, I'd go for the laugh by answering every question with "Don Knotts," or that #trivia standby answer (to the #squeezesters, anyway), "Richard Sackerson."

There was a player in #trivia quite often who went by the moniker S22 (not her real name). S22 (not her real name) was the most cut-throat trivia player I've ever encountered. She was scary. I'm glad the game was online, for if it'd been held at a bar, there's no doubt she'd have stuck a fork into someone's hand to keep them from giving the correct answer. And the thing of it was, we think she was cheating in #trivia. I can't remember exactly how we discovered this. It may have been looking up answers online or going to old logs and looking up repeated questions. It doesn't really matter, though - she was cheating in #trivia! Nothing was at stake, no cars were given out, no chance to advance to the regional #trivia championships - she just couldn't bear to lose. And she was probably also the single reason we all drifted away from #trivia and found another way to occupy our time. Well, that and our short attention spans.

And so I guess in the end, competition is, well, it is what it is. It's winning and losing. It's not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, it teaches you about life, right? I have a real problem with the whole idea permeating the school system these days of not letting anyone lose. Just go to any end-of-the-year school ceremony nowadays. Every friggin' kid in the school wins something. After the "Best Grades" and "Most Athletic" and "Best Singer" and "Best Attendance" awards are given out, they start giving out "Tries the Hardest," "Always Has His Pocket Comb With Him," "Ate the Most Paste," "Owns the Best Homework-Eating Dog," and so forth. Does it really mean anything to win an award on Award Day if everyone wins one? And when these kids get out into the real world and only one of them wins the "Got The Best Job" award, well, I hope I'm not at the post office when the kid who came in second shows up with his machine gun.

I went to a high school football game over the weekend, and was dismayed to find out that my little alma mater that contains about 500 kids now has twelve - count them, I know you won't - cheerleaders. The little school also has a six-letter name. That was always the rule when I was in school - one cheerleader per letter, just enough to do the "Gimme a G!" etc cheer. Nope, we have twelve now. Or do we? In the football program, there are twelve football cheerleaders and twelve basketball cheerleaders! And of those 24, four of them are captains. Exactly how many captains does it take to lead a squad of cheerleaders in looking bored and not knowing the basic rules of the game they're cheering for? Oh, well. I guess it doesn't matter. At least no one got left out, except maybe those kids who couldn't afford the cost of a uniform.

On this week's Hucklebug podcast, which we recorded last night, Stennie and I decided to play a game. We played Jenga. And I'm not going to give you an advance on the outcome, because it was an absolutely riveting game and you'll enjoy it so much more when you listen on Thursday if you don't know. But after much turn-taking and strategy, someone did in fact lose and someone did in fact win. And since the Jenga set was at my house, after someone's victory and someone's loss, the scattered Jenga tiles littered the floor of my denette.

I left them there last night, due to the lateness of the recording, and today when I came home for lunch my first order of business was to bend over and start picking up Jenga tiles. I got them all set correctly in the little plastic sleeve, ready to go back into the box until we play again, and - I dropped them and they went flying all over the floor.

I lost to myself at Jenga today.

My sister probably thinks I cheated against myself. I'm just glad I'm non-competitive.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* We're late people, we're very late. No sleep Monday and a two-mile walk Tuesday does weird things to a person, like makes her fall asleep in the Comfy Chair for four hours. However! We have acrowinners! So, tell me about sin.
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her "Sexual Exploits Got Phillip Locked And Gagged."
- Runner-up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Sodomites encourage groping puppies, legal ass grabbing."
- And this week's winner is Flipsycab, with her "Spent energy gobbling pie, lard, and goobers." Gluttony. It's a fine sin.
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!

Monday, September 11, 2006


Hello, letterers, letterees, and letterites. And welcome to another round of acromania.

Monday is the new Tuesday. Meaning that now that the Hucklebug is recorded on Monday instead of Tuesday, there's just not enough time to get done what I need on Monday nights. Used to be that way about Tuesday, but there you go. Tuesdays are fine now, Mondays are a rush.

Anyway, let's talk about that subject you just can't get enough of, sin. One of the tracks on the Second Great CD Mix Exchange (yes, I mailed out my CDs today, folks), was "a song about one of the Seven Deadly Sins." It was a fun category. It also got me thinking of an interesting way to go about acrochallenge this week.

This week's acro is simply, "Sin." Tell me anything you'd like to about sin. The letters are going to be the first letters of each of the deadly sins, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride, Lust, Anger, and Greed.

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 normally drawn from the acrobasket. However, this week they're not. Sometimes you just go to stick your hand inside the acrobasket and he snaps. This was one of those weeks. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will receive the sin of their choice, and the non-winners, who will have to keep giving it the old college try.

So, this week's topic, "Sin." The letters:

Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Pride, Lust, Anger, and Greed

Now, acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* No update. No time.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders! And welcome to another scintillating round of Picture Sunday.

I had a good weekend. Forewent Friday Chill, or most of it, to attend my one football game of the year. I always do one high school football game and one band festival so I can see The Nephew and his band. He's captain of the drumline this year, and may I just say the GHS band drumline is seriously good. The football team, however.... We were losing 26-7 in the 3d quarter, so I got a ride home with some other people who were leaving. I couldn't take it anymore. Then I began chilling late.

Saturday morning, 9am, was the set-up at Mountain Lake for Oktoberfest. Normally this is a set-up and rehearsal, and I was extremely disappointed to find out that this year it was set-up only, no rehearsal, and so I took my good old-fashioned time getting there. Didn't arrive till about noon, hung around, did absolutely nothing but talk to people, not one whit of work, then ate lunch and had a couple of beers with the gang. We had schunkel practice at the lunch table. Then I watched people work some more (I know nothing about setting up lights and wires) and realized that I was basically just in the way, so I headed back down the mountain and to Mr M's.

(I did, however, learn an amazingly useful skill on the mountain Saturday. I learned how to open a beer bottle on a table edge. I opened everyone's bottle who wanted a beer. And I have the bruised and swollen hand to prove it!)

Mr M had a guest for the weekend, his old condo-mate from Maryland, Carl. Carl's a nice fellow, very personable, and didn't mind a bit that we played clarinet duets in his general vicinity. Later in the evening, Jude the Corruptor and his son (Corruptor, Jr) came by, and Mr M grilled us all steaks and we ate out on the deck, and talked and giggled way into the night.

Then it was home today, and the family all went out to dinner to celebrate Granny's (my mom's) birthday, which was Tuesday. Martinis and beers and general jocularity.

And with all that, not one single picture was made. And so, it's time for an old standby. Another round of Picture Sunday - The "On My Head" Edition!

Here we go. Hang on.

Help! There's a Blue Meany on my head!

He's getting ready to lay a hole in there. Not like it would be the first.

Help! There's a duckie on my head!

Not only that, but he's an evil Devil Duckie as well. It's hard to see, but he has horns.

Help! There's a woman on my head!

Oddly enough, this is this lady's second appearance in Picture Sunday. A year or two ago she made an appearance in the "Bet Goes To the Antiques Roadshow" edition of Picture Sunday. I think she was determined to be worth around a quarter.

Help! There's a TV on my head!

Nope, not telecasting the new Fall season, but that holiday classic, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." And in keeping with all things Rudolph....

Help! There's a gay elf dentist on my head!

I love Hermey. I'm thinking of letting him be my new dentist.

And that concludes my putting things on my head. Now time for the recipe du jour.

Pigs in the blanket, toad in the hole, Adam & Eve on a raft. In the grand tradition of representational meals, this recipe comes from the "Farm Food" section of cardland, say hello, please, to Needles in a Haystack.

Needles in a haystack is the lazy man's representational meal. All you have to do is upend a can of sauerkraut and stick in the needles of your choice. For this version, they're slices of a Slim Jim. So, they're big needles. That makes them easier to find. And they don't pierce the sides of your cheeks, though I don't know that I'll make that claim in regards to your colon. Served with a pitchfork as silverware, and you'd better hurry and get to your plate, because Pokey the horse is ready to eat the haystack if you're late. I just wouldn't hang around Pokey much if he gets to it first.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I have to tell you, my pink clarinet case was all the rage at band practice Wednesday night. I'm a trendsetter for the first time in my life!
* The CD Mix Exchange is now complete. I was ready to mail out on Friday, but didn't get the addresses till the weekend. If you're in, you'll be getting your CDs this week.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fun With iTunes. And Not.

As you Hucklebugsters out there will hear about this week, I spent a goodly (if five straight hours is indeed goodly) amount of time into the wee hours of Monday morning playing with iTunes.

Now, I've had iTunes for about a year. I wasn't so jazzed about getting it, though everyone told me it was the way to go as far as a listening/cataloging device was concerned. I'd just used it as a downloading system, then listened to everything in good old Music Match. Music Match always worked well for me, and we were buddies. At least we were buddies up until the time MM decided to turn on me and do some very hateful things, like refuse to play or burn to CD the songs I'd downloaded from iTunes. I felt betrayed by this, and decided to end my friendship with Music Match and kick him to the curb, or at least off my computer, and so I tried to forge a little better friendship with iTunes.

And it was OK. New friendships are always a little tough at first, and there were some things I didn't really like about iTunes, but nice people like Stennie & Mike (Man of Mystery and Movies) told me how to change things around to where the two of us would be more compatible, and I was settling into the iTunes way of doing things.

But then, the First Great CD Mix Exchange came along, and I found myself in something of a quagmire. See, as you iTuners know, you "import" songs. From your CDs, or other places on your computer. And because some of my imports were from home-made CDs or CDs by people on extremely independent labels not recognized by iTunes, my library had become a, well, what the more refined of us would call a "big-ass mess." Songs had no titles nor artists attached to them, and had such descriptive titles as "Track 1," "Track 6," "Track 24," and so on. I probably had about 18 "Track 6" entries, and 14 "Track 2" songs, and you get the idea.

So when I was putting together the Mix Exchange playlist, I'd have to identify those songs by their times. I wrote it all down on a sheet of paper. "Oooh, OK, this song is 'Track 6' and 3:12 long, and this one is 'Track 6' and 2:49 long.'" This gets very old very quickly.

The CD Mix Exchange came and went, and wasn't it fun for us all, and I didn't really give it much more thought. Until a week or so ago, when the Second Great CD Mix Exchange was announced and I started putting together my song list. And I just couldn't bear the thought of all that "Track 6" crap.

So on Saturday I pushed up my sleeves, which is a lie because I was wearing short sleeves, and started reading the iTunes "Help" section. And I learned how to re-title songs. Now, as I remarked to Stenns last night, this is something akin to making the blazing announcement that one has learned to tie one's shoelaces, but it was still an exciting moment for me. So I re-titled a few tracks and headed off to B'burg, heady with my newfound technological skills.

Then on Sunday when I was back home, the recipe du jour was made, or built, and Picture Sunday was up, I headed over to iTunes to do some by-God cleaning. And that's where the five hours came in.

And I had a blast. I'm one of these people who dread a task, like cleaning house, or reorganizing kitchen drawers, but once I get into it I'm generally happy to do it. And that's kind of how the iTunes thing went. I sat down saying, "Man, I'm going to have to go through all these things, it'll take forever, I'll get confused," and - well, five hours passed and I basically didn't realize it until I looked down at the clock in dismay.

I went to the untitled tracks and began giving them titles and attaching artists to them. Of course, this involved playing those tracks, at least parts of them, and of course when the good music gets going, it's just a party waiting to happen, even if it's only a party of one. I got all those done, then realized I had several tracks in iTunes two or three or even more times. (Hey, I love "The Clarinet Polka," but do I really need the same version in there three times? I say unto you, "No!") I consulted my maven Stennie about this, and she assured me I could delete one track at a time without deleting my entire library, something I must admit I didn't believe her on the first go-around, but of course she was right, and I started getting rid of the extras. Then I deleted stuff I didn't want anymore, samples of songs people had sent me and stuff I really (I mean, really) only needed to hear one time in my life.

And through it all I was saying, "Hey, I'd forgotten all about this," and play a song, then another, and I was having a high old time.

Then I decided that I was going to attach some genres to certain tracks just like iTunes said I could. I had a bunch of stuff from the wonderful bygone days of Napster that was labeled not by song, but by category. Like "Fun: Beck - Loser," and "Cigarettes: Brownsville Station - Smokin' in the Boys' Room," and "Memory Lane: Boz Scaggs - It's Over." I wanted to be able to see songs by their old groupings again, so I gave out genres. Bluegrass, jazz, guilty pleasures, memory lane, comedy, covers, 50s, pop, horrid (Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey" fit nicely in that one), fun, clarinet, German. And I completed that as well.

Funny thing, though. Some of the songs already had genres that iTunes had attached to them. And some of them were intriguing, to say the least. The comedy classic "The Irish Ballad," by Tom Lehrer, was somehow a blues song. Joe "King" Carrasco's Tex-Mex New Wave Dance Stomper "Chicano Town" was labelled as a country song. And anything Bela Fleck did, even the most hoein' down of numbers, was called jazz.

Anyway, I had a ball, listened to all kinds of songs, and spent way too long at my computer. I finished up around 4:30 Monday morning. And I went to bed with a decidedly sinking feeling. Because after all that cataloging and listening and dancing in my chair, I realized something. I didn't like my already-set choices for the new CD mix. The songlist I promised myself that was set in stone at that point, that I would make myself be happy with, was not making me happy anymore. And now I'm retooling the entire thing.

I think about these things way too much, you know. Not that I'm hinky or anything. Never hinky. Nope, not me.

I'll have it done when the time comes, though, I promise.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the way, acro took the holiday off. The acrobasket was spending one last day at the beach. He likes the beach, you know. He's quite brown.
* First Community Band practice of the season tonight!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of - wait! It's not the end of the weekend! We have one more day! Woo-hoo! Hello, Sunday nighters who hopefully have one more day of blissful rest. And welcome to another round of Picture Sunday.

I had a nice occurrence this weekend. Actually I had two. One was clarinet duets with Mr M that didn't end in a fight, but that was overshadowed by the fact that Mr M's guest this weekend was none other than the Deep Fat Friar himself. And so this shall be Picture Sunday - The Holiday Weekend Reunion Edition.

It was good to see the Friar again. We all went out shopping, he made himself and Mr M dinner (but not me, as it was pasta - Mr M made me up something different), and we watched a movie. But did you know that DFF likes to read? Well, it must be true.

Now, I know you're thinking that I took this picture because DeepFatFriar has a moose on his head. Actually, I took it because it was nice to see him again. The fact that he has a moose on his head is nothing at all out of the ordinary.

However, the reason the moose was even around is because Mr Friar just returned from a 2-week vacation in Alaska, and brought the moose back for Mr M. But of course, you all know who made friends with him. After all, my boy is very comfortable around those of the moose persuasion. He knows Bullwinkle personally, you know. Time for a moose ride!

As I said, the Friar made dinner for himself and Mr M. What did they have? Was it a big plate of Spaghetti Shermanara?

No, no, no, of course it wasn't. It was Spaghetti Carbonara, not to be confused with Alessandro Carbonare, a completely different dish I hope to partake of one day. Anyway, this was one of those joke pictures, people, don't get all up in arms.

And finally, the weekend wouldn't be complete without a souvenir picture. Just call this one "3 Goons." I seem to be the only one here unhatted.

Ah, the fun we have. It was a nice visit. A nice Sunday too, since I realized I could come home and loaf around without a care as to getting ready for work tomorrow.

Well, now, wait. Not completely loaf around without a care. I mean, it is still Sunday, and that means there is still a recipe du jour to whip up.

And this week's recipe is a salute to Labor Day and all the workers who celebrate it. So this time let's give a nod and a big hand to all those who built America by the sweat of their brows. And let's let them build a little something else for us. From the "Labor Day Lunches" file at cardland, say hello to Build Your Own Sandwich.

And that's just what these little fellows are doing. They've already done the hard parts, the raising the roof of the top bun up on scaffolding, and the setting of the chicken patty onto the bottom bun. But their work is not through yet, friends. Clem's there on the bun roof, he's already nailed one pickle there, but he's waiting for a second one, which is being hoisted up to him by Wiley. Zeke and Jake over in the corner are painting the mustard onto the chicken. Claude just got a lettuce leaf from Gramps (who's manning the lettuce bin), and is getting it placed on the patty. And then those 4 guys there on the left, for this blog they'll be John, Paul, George, and Ringo, are bringing in the accoutrements, in this case a pretzel stick.

What's the matter? Haven't you ever seen a sandwich being built before? Go to the kitchens of some of your fancier restaurants - I swear this is how they do it.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Yes, if you have a keen eye, you noticed that my sandwich workers are many of the same guys who showed up in the "Big Rock/Gray Rock" edition of Picture Sunday some months ago. Sorry, that's the way it goes. Cheap labor is hard to find these days.