Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Oooooh. Ooooooooh!

Yes, it's Halloween, that spookiest of days. Actually, that's not all that true, Halloween isn't spooky anymore, although it is rather a hard holiday to bear for someone like me, who has this innate and unnatural fear of opening her front door. It's not like I fear being killed or anything, I think it's the spinal goose I get from hearing the doorbell and realizing I have to face the unknown on the other side. Usually my mother, come to stare at me.

Anyway, I'm making the holiday a little more scary for myself by dressing up as a single middle-aged woman trying to hold it together, and also by indulging in that most terror-inducing of activities, paying bills. Aaaiiiiieeeeeee! The Citgo Card!

The nephew, who you've all seen pictures of and can attest to the fact that he's certainly a very white boy, went to school today as Flava Flav. I don't know what fact about his outfit excited him more, that he got it all together for $20, or that today in English class he had to recite from Macbeth and would do it dressed as Flava Flav. Both are very exciting, to be sure.

My favorite baby, Kendall, came to see us at the office, she was a cowgirl. Complete with pink cowgirl boots, hat, and two six shooters, which thankfully were fake. That girl has the meanness in her, and I give her till about Jr High to replace the toy guns with real ones. Then of course, she'll charm her way out of a prison sentence after she shoots up the town.

Of course, there's a Halloween party at The Pod tonight. It's Sherman's favorite holiday, even over July 4th, and that's his birthday. He just went wild this year, designing everyone's costumes. Funny, because he's been (of course) Shermula for the last two years running, but decided to go with something different this year. He decided he'd go as Hermey the Elf Dentist. Check out his costume.

Amazing, I say.

Now, Huckleberry Hound thought it would be a real laff-riot if he went as another famous dog, and so Sherman helped him work up a costume as Astro, from The Jetsons. Pretty good, huh?

Good Luck Baby Lily may be just a baby, with a hole in her midsection, but she's also a free spirit at heart. She decided to be a beatnik this year. Boy, did they have fun with the wig and the eye makeup.

Mr Peanut's always a good sport, and thought maybe he could be some other sort of food. Sherman suggested a parsnip, and got going on the outfit.

And I think Gossamer's costume was particularly fetching this year. Of course, he didn't know what to be for Halloween, as he doesn't know what Halloween is, even though he sure does love candy. Wrapper and all. And the plastic pumpkin he uses to collect it. Handle and all. Sherman came up with this idea - a dustmop.

And finally, that master of disguise (and everything else) Mr Peabody designed his own Halloween costume. He's been working on it for weeks. He chose to be a water cooler.

Of course, he's an actual working water cooler. He's been dispensing drinks to everyone at the party. Except me. Not that he didn't offer, I'm just holding out for something a little harder than water. After all, I'm going as a single middle-aged woman trying to hold it together. I have to stay in character.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what did yall go as on Halloween?
- Honorable Mentions go to Kellie, with her "Alien dominatrix Natasha Torres," and Lily, with her "A damn Nazi terrorist," and Flipsy, with her "Arkin's dark, naughy twin." Ooh!
- Runners-Up go to DeepFatFriar, with his "A dentist; nude, toothy," and Froliche Fluegelspeiler (also known as Russell), with his "Absolutely disgusting, nude trumpeter." Russell! You're supposed to dress up for Halloween!
- And this week's winner goes to Michelle, with possibly the best idea for a costume I've heard of. "A dead, nebbishy turtle."
- Thanks to all who played - handouts from the real candy for you all!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Hello, letterers, letterees, and letterlovers. Welcome to another spooky round of acromania.

Well, Halloween is tomorrow. Bought a small amount of candy, last year I only had about four tricksters, so of course this year I'll probably have a hundred. If the candy goes, it's protein bars for everybody!

We probably did this last year, but I don't care, if so, we'll do it again. This week's acrotopic? What Are You Going As This Halloween?

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket is working on his "scary wastebasket" costume. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get a big handful from the candy bag, and the non-winners, well, sorry, but it's protein bars for you.

So the topic? What Are You Going As This Halloween? The letters:


Be sure and ring my doorbell. With an acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Well, the hanging thing on podmobile2 is now fixed. When I got my car serviced, apparently they forgot to put the oil filter cover clips back on. It was the cover that was flapping. Fixed for free. I like free.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. And how did everyone like the extra hour of sleep? Welcome to another round of Picture Sunday.

Well, I did it again. I survived another year of Oktoberfest. Kind of.

Odd weekend, this one. I have, as you all know, and I'm so sorry for still having it, I have been fighting the crud for over 2 weeks now. Thursday when I went for my yearly (which is not yearly, but that's another blog done months ago) "women's checkup," my doctor was amazed at what she heard through her stethoscope. She said I sounded like I was in the throes of pneumonia, and prescribed me a five dose wonderdrug, which I began Friday.

And it made me worse, at least on that first day. I sat at my desk like a zombie most of Friday, left work earlier than I normally do on Oktoberfest Fridays, came home, put on the dirndl, walked around crying, took off the dirndl, cried some more, put it back on, loaded up the car in a driving freezing rainstorm, came inside, cried some more, and unloaded the car and took off my dirndl again. It may have been my last weekend of mayhem with the Sauerkraut Band, but I just couldn't do it. I had a fever and knew that even if I did stay conscious long enough to get up the mountain I'd be no use to anyone once I got there.

So I took an extremely hot bath and slept a good portion of Friday evening.

And it helped a little. It at least built up my resistance enough to hit the road on Saturday, which was good, because only Death Himself would have kept me off the mountain on the last night.

I got there early, made merry with my friends, gave out my closing night gifts, drank four large shots of Jagermeister in a very short span of time (which helped the cough, actually), and it seemed I no more blinked than we were playing the last song and saying our goodbyes. It was an odd season. Not the most fun, but maybe the fastest. After hanging around and helping (well, a little, I never help enough at these things) the guys tear down all the lights and wiring, I hit the road home.

When I was looking at the pictures I took of last night, a large number of which are not suitable for public consumption, I realized that over the weeks of Oktoberfest I'd taken a lot of pictures that not only had I not printed here, but that I hadn't really even looked at that good myself. So I'm going to print a few final 2006 Oktoberfest photos.

All the women love Jude. They don't call him The Corruptor for nothing.

This is from the night our new German friend Daniel played with us. (Hucklebugsters heard that story.) He was kind enough to pose with Sherman.

Now, here's a good picture. It's a box of chickens! My fiancee's in there somewhere.

Oh, yeah - there he is, facing the camera. We'll be married one day, you know, in a land where a woman is free to marry the rubber chicken she loves.

This also came from the night Daniel visited us, that was last Friday. Folks, not only is this the closest thing to an actual picture of the entire Sauerkraut Band as you're ever going to get (we're notorious for never being all in one place for a camera), but I'll swear there's someone in this picture I cannot recognize.

Yep, that dude back row center. He has to be one of us because he's wearing the hat and shirt, but I'll be damned if I can figure him out.

Now, two major omissions from the above picture, Russell and Sara Beth, because they were inside entertaining the crowd. And we can't leave them out. First, Russell and I during the tear down, with the sign the Sauerkraut Band "borrowed" from Fallfest.

And finally, me and my buddy Sara Beth, also from the tear down. Boy, doesn't the combination of Jager and a hat flatten your hair right to your head?

And so it's over. And you're free from Oktoberfest pics for another year. And the German Club didn't know what they had in us. I mean, really, they had no idea, seeing as how they kicked us out and all.

That done, now it's back to real life. Like the recipe du jour.

I hope you'll be kind this week, because the original idea for the recipe du jour failed. And it failed big, taking a good portion of my kitchen and a tupperware bowl with it. It wasn't pretty. So I rethought the matter and decided I'd go upscale on you. From the "Bistro Cooking" file at cardland, please say hello to Cahfee-Cahfee.

Cahfee-Cahfee is for the young professional on the move, who likes a cup of coffee after his meal but simply doesn't have the time. It's a nice piece of coffee-encrusted mahi-mahi, pan fried. It is served with a special side dish. Mashed French Fries, the dish for the person who can never make the decision, "Mashed potatoes or fries?" Everyone's happy. And probably up late, as Cahfee-Cahfee is never decaf.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I have a large piece of rubber hanging from the bottom of podmobile2, and have since Thursday. Maybe now that Oktoberfest is over and I have my life back, I can go see what it is and how to get it fixed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Groucho said he wouldn't want to be in a club who'd have him as a member. I love the line. I just wish I agreed with it.

Yesterday was an interesting day in Betland. I knew it would be pretty interesting, but I wasn't at all prepared for just how interesting it became. I did know this - I'd have to work all day at TheCompanyIWorkFor, find a way (it can be done, I did it last week) to change into my dirndl at work, and hit the road for B'burg no later than 5:00 on the dot. Because I had to be in B'burg at 6:30 for a concert with the Sauerkraut Band. I was expecting the stomach churns that come from my being rushed. I just don't do "rushed" well.

San and I had a fairly leisurely afternoon together at the office. At least until 4:45. I'd already taken the bank deposit across the street and had removed my shoes and socks and was sitting at my desk barefoot when San informed me I had to call a client. This client is an extremely nice fellow, as is his whole family, but this client also has the slight drawback of English as a second language and is often quite hard to converse with. I steeled myself and dialed the phone, now with one arm out of my blouse and my pants unzipped, in an effort to get a jump-start on the dirndl.

Now, while I was having a conversation with Mr Client, San was the lucky recipient of a mother and daughter, also two very lovely people normally, who'd just been involved in an accident. It was your run-of-the-mill accident, well, to us, I guess when it happens to you it's not so run of the mill. And so both of them were in complete hysterics. Screaming, crying, screaming while crying, all very loudly, while I was trying to understand the broken English of Mr Client.

That was going on on my end of the phone. On Mr Client's end, well, he was trying to understand me and be understood himself - while his son was very enthusiastically practicing the trombone. (I'm 99% sure it was "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," for those of you keeping score at home.)

So I was talking, and listening to screaming, crying, mass hysteria, broken English, and trombone playing, and watching the clock grow ever closer to five. And it got there.

I finally edged Mr Client off the line by telling him I'd be glad to check out his questions by calling the Regional Office, but they were closed right now, and wouldn't re-open till tomorrow. And so tomorrow I'd be glad to have his answers tomorrow, if he could wait till tomorrow, when I'd find all that out. Tomorrow.

As for San, I don't know how in the hell she did it, but she had those people from mass fucking hysteria to, "OK, see you tomorrow!" in the blink of an eye. Maybe she flashed a gun at them, I don't know. Whatever she did, I owe her.

So I started hopping around all over the damn place finishing up my dressing (part of the hysteria was conducted in the front office while I was naked in the back), and I grabbed my stuff and ran out the door, armhole of my dirndl around my neck, back of it in my underwear, shoes on the wrong feet.

When I got to the car it was 5:11. I was pretty much doomed. Not much reason to even start. But I couldn't help it. I really wanted to be at this concert, because it was at the German Club.

The German Club is the most exclusive fraternity at Virginia Tech, and in the world of southern college fraternities, I guess that's saying something, at least if you're into that kind of thing. I've seen their chalet-looking building from the road on campus many times, wondering what those hallowed halls must look like inside. When the chance to actually find out came along, I was going to do everything I could to take it.

And so I started up podmobile2 and proceeded to bust it.

Now, I don't like to speed anymore, well, actually, that's a lie because I love to speed, but I don't do it anymore since the $150 speeding ticket a couple of years ago. I'm an exceedingly good girl now in this area, but tonight I lapsed. I made a 90 minute trip in an hour and 10 minutes, screeching past the stone pillars at the driveway of the German club on two wheels and whipping into the parking lot.

My stomach and heart were still going 90 miles an hour while I hopped out of the car, tied on my apron, pulled the dress tail out of my rear end, and grabbed my stuff. I could see the band inside the club warming up, and I ran, still on high speed (or "puree," if you're a blender), and pulled open the door.

Where everything hit a dead stop. "Ho-leeee sheeiit," I said, under my breath.

It didn't take the time for the door to hit my ass for me to realize that this was a place that didn't want me in it. It was swanky. It was full of codgers who'd never seen a poor person. It had a big German Club seal on the wall surrounded by pictures of big important alumni. And a huge portrait of some dude I'm assuming was Mr German Club, their founder. Huge fixtures. Huge stone fireplace. Huge everything.

I walked over and started getting my stuff together, and Ed was nice enough to take my coat to the coatroom. I grabbed my mug and went over to the bar for a meager glass of water. And I stood there (and this was no big surprise to me, I'm not that much of a rube) while all the rich people who came to the bar behind me got their drinks. With every new rich person the bartender would look at me, mouth "I'm sorry," and serve up liquor to the wealthy. I waited there so long the band started the first song without me.

I finally waited out the rich drinkers and made it back to the band in time to play the last page of the first song. When we finished with our usual flourish, the assembled crowd - well, have you seen "The Producers?" Right after the end of "Springtime for Hitler," when they show the faces of the audience? Well, that's what we saw. Those people were looking at us like we were from outer fucking space. The only difference to the movie is that we didn't have the luxury of one poor soul who clapped for us. Ours was complete silence.

For the next song, we went with a waltz. Our fearless leader Ed stressed that we needed to keep it quiet and tame (we were already that, for us, we weren't even mic'ed), and so we started the waltz. Again, at the end, stunned silence. So we decided we'd try a quiet and tame polka.

At the end of the polka, Ed finally stood, raised his glass, and we sang a round of "Ein Prosit" and toasted each other. And you think they looked funny at us before? Good God's Hat, it was amazing. It was also the first time the director of the shindig visited Ed.

She would do this several times during our playing spell. It was always in a whisper, and it always began the same way. "I'm sorry - I love you." Then Ed would nod, pick out a song, and tell us to do it slower, quieter, and tamer.

My dear blogees, the Sauerkraut Band has played gigs at convalescent homes, with people in comas being wheeled in on gurnees, that were rowdier. We were doing waltzes so slowly that we'd actually lose our places schunkeling. "Wait, I was going to the right. Wait, it's not the next measure yet." And after a couple of songs, along would come the co-ordinator. "I'm so sorry - I love you."

And Ed would tell us quieter and tamer. He actually counted our four beats into one song by saying, in a whisper, "Ein, Zwei, Drei, piano!"

And here's the thing. We weren't even in and among these people! We were on one side of the stone fireplace, and they were on the other. And every once in a while you'd see some old-monied blowhard, from the nose up, peeping from behind the stone fireplace wondering who in the hell let this bunch of lunatics in the door. I swear I looked up at the wall at one point to see the portrait of Mr German Club change from his having his hands folded in front of him to having his hands covering his ears. I might have been hallucinating, though. It was a pretty surreal experience.

Finally, the co-ordinator came over to Ed again, whispering, "I'm sorry - I really do love you," and then some more whispering took place, and I heard her whisper, "At least you'll get paid." And I knew we'd gotten the Antique Handcrafted 24-Karat Golden Hook.

The Sauerkraut Band had been officially kicked out of the German Club.

We were told, and this was by Ed, so I don't know if it was a missive from the co-ordinator, to pick up all our stuff, carry it outside, and we'd disassemble it and pack it away in the parking lot. In the 30 fucking degree parking lot. But I was otherwise occupied high fiving band members and saying, "We got kicked out of the German Club!" and then went to fetch my coat, saying to anyone who'd listen that I really hoped my $14.99 Wal-Mart sweatjacket hadn't been stolen by one of these hoo-hahs.

Oddly enough, no one stole my $14.99 sweatjacket. I picked it up and headed outside, where we finished packing it in in the 30 fucking degree parking lot, then a few of us decided to go out to dinner.

And so it was over. Blackballed from the German Club. By the way, the German Club has absolutely nothing to do with Germany, save for the fact that I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find some of them had descended from nazis, but for the love of Jehovah, they had to know who we were. They hired us, for fuck's sake. Did they think the Sauerkraut Band was a chamber orchestra?

Anyway, back to my old friend Groucho. Since he doesn't want to be in a club that would have him as a member, the logical next step is that he'd only want to be in a club that wouldn't want him as a member. A bold philosophy, but I just can't cotton to it. It may be nice knowing that I'm pissing someone off by my very presence, but the emotional turmoil of being in theirs is too great.

Fuck the German Club. Get me back on the mountain with my rowdy, fun-loving buddies. Common, but yet so uncommon.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The Special K people need to get better commercial writers. Has anyone seen the one where the skinny woman meets her friends for breakfast? And the voiceover says, "Studies show that women who eat breakfast like Special K weigh less." But when said aloud, all I get from it is, "Studies show that women who eat breakfast like Special K way less."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Stand-By Tambourinists and the Ten Commandments of Marching Band

As you all know, I celebrated my annual "get in touch with your inner geek" festival Saturday when I attended the Virginia State Marching Band competition. I love these things. I'm a band geek in the truest sense of the word, I sometimes think that's my main identifier because I've been one so long. Longer than I've been anything else, I guess. Hell, I was a band geek before I was even old enough to join a band. And so sitting on a cold slab of concrete for six hours watching kids march around and play music was just fine by me, even if the wind did whip around my ears and intensify this crud I've picked up, oddly enough, picked up last week when I spent four hours outside in a driving wind - playing in a band.

And as many of you also know, when I did this geekfest thing last year I got a case of the HHGs (Helpless, Hopeless Giggles) at the fact that there was a flag girl out on the field who stood there without a flag because her arm was in a sling. The same corps also had a girl, if you'll recall, who suddenly hit her knees on the field and went catatonic on us for about a minute, which just added to the hilarity.

Well, I didn't have such an occurrence this time, although one band did have a kid on crutches and with his leg in a cast who sat on the edge of the field in a chair and played. I found this not really so funny, no HHGs at all on that one, and in fact I found it just plain dumb. No one could hear him sitting there playing along with everyone else, and he wasn't on the field adding to the marching drills, and mainly he just (shades of slinged flag girl) drew attention away from the band and to himself.


However, one band did have a rather interesting member. She is pictured above. I call her Stand-By Tambourinist.

This young lady (and I'm sure she's a great girl) was part and parcel of a marching band that did a load of 70s numbers, and her talent was to play the tambourine for four measures of that old Chicago classic, "25 or Six to Four." For the entire rest of the band's performance, she stood there exactly like you see her in the picture. Hands in front of her, holding her unplayed tambourine over her nether regions.

I called her Stand-By Tambourinist because of a line from the old Andy Griffith Show, where Barney buys a pair of cymbals - Andre Kostelanetz Marchers, no less - and wants to join the Mayberry town band. Andy gives him the job of stand-by cymbalist. When Barney points out that there's no regular cymbalist in the band, Andy replies, "Well, that's the best kind to stand by for."

And that's kind of how it went in this band. There was no regular tambourinist. Just her, standing there, in sunglasses, with her tambourine over her private parts, looking around at the band, out into the audience, then - "Hit it!" Four measures of tambourine tapping, and then she went back to standing with her instrument. She didn't play anything else, no other song, no other instrument, and I couldn't help but wonder just how important that four-measure tambourine passage had to have been to that band. Because it sure wasn't important to me, and what's worse, from the look of her, it didn't seem to be important to her.

Stand-By Tambourinist was in the percussion pit of her band. And this is where everybody's going to get out their remotes and start flipping around to other blogs, because I'm about to repeat myself. This is my version of when your dad says, "Of course, in my day, we had it hard."

Of course, I'm from the old school.

I was a high school band marcher in the mid to late 70s, and it was all different back then. I might have been more easily adaptable to how it's changed had I been around during the progression. But I wasn't. I left high school, longed to go sit on cold slabs of concrete watching marching bands for 20-some years, and then when the nephew became a band kid I got my chance. It was like waking up in a different band century. And I don't like it. And not only do I not like it, I just told a tremendous lie in this paragraph, because I wouldn't have been more adaptable at all, I would have spent 20-some years going, "There's change afoot. And I don't like it." Just so you know.

Anyway, I've been mulling over my Marching Band Manifesto. And I shall publish it here.

The Ten Commandments of Marching Band

Thou shalt have no percussion pit before me. This is one of the darker influences of the popularity of drum corps. Now marching bands have percussion pits, full of xylophones, marimbas, timpani, chimes, gongs, and, yes, even stand-by tambourinists, standing in front of the band on the edge of the field, flailing away. This sucks. Does marching band really need timpani? I say unto you, no. The percussion pit has also laid waste to the marching bell player, traipsing around out there with her bell set harnessed to her. I used to like marching bell players. They were always perky. The true marching band philosophy? If you can't march with it, you don't need it. Enough said.

Thou shalt march up and down the field. Probably the single most disheartening marching band trait today is the fact that none of them march up and down the fucking field. They start at one sideline, march onto the field, dip and doodle around there in the center, making circles and marching sideways a lot, then they exit off the other sideline. Lord have mercy, how I miss the days of marching bands that started in the endzone, marched to the middle of the field, did a little band derring-do, then marched off to the other endzone. You've got a whole field out there! You have room to roam! I have a fear that this lack of field coverage may be due to laziness. You have to have some gumption to march back and forth over a whole football field.

Thou shalt not waveth flags, pompoms, ribbons, nor fuzzies at my person, nor shalt thou flingeth thy fake wooden artillery into the heavens. This is a fancy way of saying, "No auxiliary, please," or more succintly, "Get those fucking flag girls off the field." Now, when I was a marcher, there were bands that had flag girls, and large schools even had rifle girls, but we didn't. We had a band director who swore that as long as he swung a baton, no flag girl would march with his band. About two years after I graduated, he caved. Flag girls are useless. They're members better put to use playing instruments and marching in lines.

Thou shalt not handeth over 20 pieces of silver and purchaseth a band show. I actually take back what I said above about the most disheartening thing. Because I was wrong, this is the most disheartening thing. No band makes up their own show anymore. They open a catalog, pick out a show, and write a check. In my band days, our director and a college band director buddy of his would come up with an idea, sit and write the arrangements, and draw out a marching program to go with it. It was amazing. We had the most creative shows around. They were even open-minded enough to take suggestions of songs and show ideas from the students, with great results. And the other bands in the area, they didn't have that great braintrust, but they still went and pored over their music till they picked out enough songs to make up a good program. No one does that nowadays. It's all pre-packaged crap. That is why you go to a band festival now and see two and three bands performing the exact same show. They just picked badly from the catalog. There's no imagination anymore.

If thou handest over 40 pieces of silver for a canned show, thou art doomed to eternal damnation. Yes, it gets worse. Everyone buys a band show, but some bands out there spend even more of that donut and pizza-selling money and buy what I call a "canned" show. It's a pre-packaged show that comes not only with music, but with a taped track of narration and sound effects. Completely embarrassing. These shows usually contain narration on some sort of theme explaning why the band is playing the tuneless blips and blops they're playing, because we'd have never figured it out otherwise. Like the worst-ever attraction at Disneyworld.

Thou shalt not doeth weird shit with electric guitars. It seems like at these band things, there's at least one band that just has to stick a long-haired, pimply-faced kid in the pit with an electric guitar. This is just a fucking disgrace. Electric guitar has absolutely no place in marching band. The kids are marching, twirling with precision, and that kid is in the pit shredding like he's in Metallica. He's not. He's in a marching band. The only way I'd even entertain the thought of electric guitar is if the player agreed to actually march with it. With it plugged in to the amplifier. And now I have the scene from that Woody Allen movie in my head, the one where he's playing cello in the marching band. Hey, at least he was trying. Well, the guitar players are trying, but in a different way.

Thou art a marching band. Therefore, thou shalt marcheth. There's way too much standing around in marching band these days. In our day, the only time you stood still was in between the songs. Now it's march a little, get to a spot, and stop and stand there and blow. Again, laziness. You're not marching up and down the damn field, you don't need to stop and rest! Band directors also seem to be afraid to have their kids playing while marching away from the audience. It cuts the sound, you know. So they'll stand and play, turn and march away, turn back around, and stand and play. Ridiculous. One band director from Saturday had kids playing while marching away, and to balance, she had the quieter instruments, like flutes, marching towards the audience. The balance was amazing. This woman is a genius, I'm convinced.

Thou shalt not playeth alone. God, every band has to have at least one soloist. I blame the popularity of drum corps for this, too. They're big on soloists. It detracts from the band. It sounds rotten. And it, well, it goes against the whole approach to a marching band - they're a unit! They're not a back-up band for some flashy-ass trumpet player, or saxophone noodler. And if your soloist is on crutches - well, we won't even go there.

Please remembereth - thou art a marching band. Yes, a band. Not a traveling Broadway troupe, not a group of interpretive dancers, not the Six O'Clock News. You're a band. There was one band on Saturday who basically put on a three-act play about Billy the Kid. Complete with his demise. It was bad. It was real bad.

Thou shalt haveth and inspireth fun. I mean, really. Isn't that what band is? Learning music, having fun with your friends, and entertaining crowds? Sure it is. But tell some of the bands today that. It's all sturm and drang with some of these kids, they're playing atonal music, looking skyward, dragging around the field not knowing what the hell is going on. Don't come up with some highfalutin' show that'll impress three disgruntled composers who had to become band directors and now make a little extra money judging these things. Do something for yourselves! Do something for your audiences, for God's sake! Have a little fun! Our band used to sing, dance, throw in musical jokes, play three and four different songs at the same time because it was goofy, and it never hurt us any. My favorite band on Saturday did just this. They were the only band out there that looked like they were actually having a good time. And the crowd went absolutely nuts. Other bands, other band parents, everyone jumping up and down and giving them a standing ovation. That's what being in band is all about. Making people happy, dammit.

And so that's my manifesto. And I shall print out enough copies to sit at the door of every bandroom in America. And this manifesto shall be read. And then thrown away, but I'll print out some more copies, at great expense to my person, and do it all over again, until someone out there understands it. And changes his or her band for the better. And after that band is changed, maybe another director will look and say, "Wow, that's pretty damn good," and change his band. And on, and on, until band will become what it used to be. Back in the last band century.

Or maybe not. Maybe it'll just get worse. Anyway, this was the nephew's last competition, so it may be another 20-some years before I go sit on a cold slab of concrete all day. I hope not, though. It would just be more fun if I could go back in time and sit on one all day.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, tell me about your having the crud.
- Honorable Mentions go to LilyG, with her "Nasty rash itches. Smallpox? Damned terrorists." And Kellie (with an ie), with her "No Rest. Incessant Sniffling. Downing Triaminicin." (Mine's Robitussin, but she's got the idea.)
- Runner-Up goes to Stennie, with her whole little story, but mainly "Not rubella; it's strep damn throat."
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her "Nightfall rears its sadistic dripping tendencies." She hit the nail right on the head - the minute I lie down, the coughing begins.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!

Monday, October 23, 2006


Hello, letterers. Welcome to a slightly limping round of acromania.

I've got the crud. It's been coming, well, it's been coming and has actually arrived since about Thursday of last week, and now is in its "lingering" stage. I went in to work today, though I didn't feel like it, and after a day in the saltmines I logged out at five, came home, laid in a tub of hot water for 45 minutes, put on my pajamas, and went into catatonia. I have no long-term plans for coming back out. By the way, it snowed here all day. Snow in October! Just like the days of my childhood!

And so - well, why not? Tonight's acrotopic? "I've got the crud."

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 takes a lot of vitamins, and stays indoors. He seldom has the crud. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get a free flu shot, and the non-winners, on whom I will breathe in the hopes of passing this on to someone else for a while.

This week's topic, "I have the crud." The letters:


Oooh. The acrobasket felt a little feverish. Oh, well, acro anyway. Do it for the acrobasket!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* How many days in a row can a person eat tuna? I may be going for the record. I'll soon have enough mercury to hire myself out as a thermometer.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. It's back and badder than ever, welcome to this week's round of Picture Sunday.

Well, I would tell you about my weekend, but you already know. Up the mountain, down the mountain. But wait! I did do something new! I spent Saturday at my annual band geek paradise, the Virginia State Marching Band Festival. Yes, watching the nephew in his last-ever marching band competition. It didn't go well. Now, let me correct that. I had a great time all day, and Taytie's band did a nice job, but they didn't get their third "superior" rating, they got "excellent," which is one down the rung. I wasn't surprised; judging was pretty strange, and the fact that the GHS Band didn't get a superior wasn't that big a deal until I heard a couple of the four bands on the day that did.

Anyway, here you have it, somewhere in that throng is a picture of the nephew in his final competition with the marching band.

Oh, and there at the back of the field are the two giant flugelhorns I drew.

I spent most of the day sitting with Jude the Corruptor, whose son (Corruptor, Jr) was playing in another of the bands. And you know, he actually had me convinced to head up the mountain for a Saturday Oktoberfest, I had my stuff with me in the car, but it came to pass that by the time it was all over with and I got back to my car, it was 6:45, so Sauerkrauting it was right out. I came home and had something of a Saturday Chill instead, drinking coffee and watching movies, and it was nice to have a weekend night home.

OK, those of you who listen to the hucklebug podcast, and you know who you are, remember my story of the baby mug I was given at Oktoberfest. It was a very sweet surprise, and turned out to be the highlight of the week on that week's podcast. I promised Stennie I'd publish a picture of it, and, hey, I'll bet you forgot, didn't you, Stenns? Well, I didn't.

There it is. Right beside its big brother, the Sauerkraut Band mug.

The last two pictures come from last weekend. We were blessed to have a special guest with us on the mountain, in the name of one Huckleberry Hound. If you'll recall, he was interested in coming to an Oktoberfest and hanging out with Sherman and Peabody, but was a little worried about the trip up the mountain (the motion sickness, you know). Well, he faced his fears and joined us last week, and although he spent the beginning of the night cowering under the music stands shielding his ears from the trumpet blares...

...he eventually came out of his shell a little, had a piece of apple pie, and I even saw him dancing the polka at one point.

That same night, Hiram, Mr M's new rubber vulture, joined us as well. He spent the evening in the rafters, looking for dropped pieces of food and frightening people.

Nothing says "fun and festivities" like a rubber vulture, I say.

Well, it was absent last week, but it's back this week, the recipe du jour. You know, my boy Sherman is a weird kid. Everytime I ask him, and I do this about every week, what the recipe du jour should be, he answers, "Me!" He desperately wants to be a recipe - fried Sherman, sauteed Sherman, Sherman ka-bobs, Sherman soup. I reminded him that he was once a Sherman sandwich for us, but he says that doesn't count because he wasn't actually cooked, just laid on a piece of bread. He wants to be cooked.

And I love my boy and all, but i can't bring myself to cook him, no matter how hard he begs. However, in an effort to appease him, I decided to do a Sherman recipe. Safely. From the "Good Boy! Tasty Boy!" file in cardland, say hello to Sherman Cookie.

All it takes to make a Sherman Cookie is some sugar cookie dough and icing. And the patience to cut out a Sherman. And yes, I know the little tyke's hands are burned, but it's OK. They don't hurt. You know, I've heard many people say Sherman's so cute they could just eat him up. Now it is possible.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* One more week of Oktoberfest! Then I get my life back! And my podmobile2 serviced!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I Need Servicing

Well, I don't think that's any big surprise to anyone in the free world.

But really, my car is about 200 miles past a servicing, and also needs a tire rotation and a brake inspection. I've been trying to get this done for about a week. It's not going well. I finally decided to ditch band last night in an effort to go after work to get this little task completed and checked off my "to do" list, which is growing bigger by the minute. As I was standing at the counter, in the process of telling the service guy what I wanted, I realized I didn't go and pre-buy my oil filter. (They never have the oil filter that goes with podmobile2 on hand.) So my conversation went a little like this: "I need a regular servicing, and a tire oh, man! I don't have my oil filter. Man!" I'm so proud I resisted the urge to say "shit."

So I started backing away and apologizing, saying I'd be back tomorrow (which is today now), and the service guy said, and I'm not kidding here, "Yeah, tomorrow would be better actually. I'm off tomorrow." Yes, he used the exact line I've longed to use at work for over a decade.

Instead of the servicing, I just took podmobile2 to have a deluxe car wash. Then I cleaned him well on the inside when I got back home.

And so today became servicing day. I used my lunch hour to drive to the Subaru dealership, two towns over, to get my Genuine Subaru Part. I went to the counter I always go to. When someone finally decided to wait on me, they told me they were now Honda only, I had to go to the Subaru building. I got in my car and drove up a hill to the Subaru building and went inside. Where I was told that this was sales. Servicing was one more building up. I was starting to feel like I was trapped in a Monty Python skit, where I'd eventually end up getting hit on the head with a hammer and then taught to say, "Waaah!"

I drove up one more hill to the next shop, figuring it had to be the right one because there were no more any higher on the hill. I went to the entrance door and it said, "Employees Only." So, and this time I did say "shit," right out loud, I went in the main door of the building and ended up in a section where you buy car stereos. After another wait a young fellow asked me what I wanted, and though I wanted to say, "Not a stereo," I didn't because that might have hurt his feelings, and so I asked where I could get my oil filter. He looked at me a little like I was a complete idiot and said, "It's the door right outside. The door beside the big garage door." When I mentioned that door did actually say I shouldn't go in it unless I worked there, he dismissed it and told me they just hadn't changed the paint on the door yet. "Well, do that," I said, in my mind, while remaining silent on the outside and turning around to finally get where I needed to be.

One oil filter, a lot of heartache, and a drive back home, and my lunch hour was over. To be honest, it was past over, I was about 10 minutes late getting back to work. But at least I'd be ready to zip right from work and get podmobile2 his servicing.

I'd planned to leave the car, take a walk, possibly to a couple of stores nearby for some shopping, and I even brought a book along with me in case the shopping didn't excite me and I didn't browse long enough for the car work to be completed.

Notice I said "planned."

Since I was going to be out and about and walking around, I decided to quickly hit the restroom before I left for work. I told the boss to go along, I'd be behind her, I had a small wee, then as I was washing my hands I realized something. I didn't pick up my keys before I left. I had no car keys, no house keys, no office keys. I lit out of the bathroom and went to the back door, only to see the boss backing out of her parking spot. I screamed and waved, smartly resisting the urge to run after her because that would have meant the door of the building closing and locking behind me.

Normally it's such a nice sight, seeing my boss drive away from me....

And so there I was. Stuck.

Luckily, someone was still in the office space across from TheCompanyIWorkFor, and I asked if I could use the phone. They were very nice and said yes, and I called the boss's cell phone. No answer. I called the home phone. No answer. I called my workmate San's number. No answer. Shit. I really was stuck.

Now, I live within walking distance of my house, but I had no key, so that didn't help. In fact, my spare set of house keys? I keep them in the office. So I went to the last resort - I called the folks. After a very long and confusing conversation with them (I don't know, could have been my fault), I finally made my mother realize that all she needed to do was to come and pick me up on the street in front of my office. They live about 1 ½ miles away. It took her 20 minutes.

Not that I wasn't grateful or anything. She drove me to the boss's house where luckily I got a set of keys to the building and my office in it. Mom took me back, I picked up my keys, and, though I kept telling myself all was well now, I had a decidedly sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. But I hopped in the car and headed out anyway.

When I got to the servicing place it was six o'clock and there were nine cars in front of me. Seven in the lines going into the service ports, and two more in the parking lot, because they wouldn't fit in the lines. When I inched my way to the service counter, they all but laughed at me. At least they held back, and didn't point me out to the other service guys - "Hey, look at her! She thinks she's going to get a car serviced tonight!"

I backed away apologizing again, and said I'd return. I don't know when, though. I don't have a single free night next week. Pedicure Monday, haircut Tuesday, Sauerkraut Band gig Wednesday, driving back from an afternoon doctor's appointment in Roanoke Thursday, Oktoberfest Friday. At least I'll look nice and be healthy when the engine of my car falls out.

Did I mention I'm tired?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* When I got back home tonight, unserviced, I used my pent-up venom and wrote an e-mail to the Movie Gallery. See, when I was there renting movies last night a very upsetting thing happened to me. The girl in front of me asked the counter guy, "Hey, where's my movie?" and he reached under the counter and handed her a dvd. The lady she'd been talking to made a remark about it "being nice, knowing a man who works at the video store." I didn't think much about it till the girl was leaving, and I noticed the movie in her hand was "Monster House." A movie that doesn't come out until next week! That just pissed me off to no end, and so I tattled to the Movie Gallery. Mr Brady would be so disappointed in me. I don't care. Mr Brady's dead, and it's unfair.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Pod That I Am (An Update)

Boy, was I right on target when I picked this week's acrotopic, "Whoops! The wind blew off my ____!" Because after that acro was posted and I did laundry, watched a movie, cleaned, stripped beds (well, I just have the one), paid bills, had dinner, and podcasted, strange things blew into Betland.

And I do mean blew. Whoops indeed.

I went to bed, after the podcast, about 1:30. A 60 mph wind was whipping all around the Poderosa, the rain was whipping with it, and I thought, "Perfect. I'm gonna sleep like a baby tonight." A phrase I've never quite understood, by the way, because I think of babies as basically being up all night long, and maybe I was a little more in the know than I thought.

For I climbed into my wonderful bed, snuggled up to the pillow, closed my eyes, and *whap!* There was this - this sound. It sounded a little like, and by this I mean exactly like, a person jumping from a 12-story building and landing square in the middle of a giant snare drum. And I popped up and opened my eyes.

Then it happened again. And again. And again and again, about every 30 seconds. Every time I'd close my eyes, *whap!* Another person hit the giant snare drum.

I got up several times to look out my bedroom window to see what could be going on, and I gotta tell you I had all kinds of ideas running through my head about what I'd see through the window (mainly people falling from the air onto giant snare drums), but I saw not a single thing each time I looked. And so I'd climb back in bed, close my eyes, and *whap!* There went another poor soul.

I laid there all curled up and waited for each *whap!* And like clockwork, each *whap!* came. A new scenario hopped through my brain for each *whap!* My guttering had blown down, and was beating against my metal outbuilding. Things, and by things of course I mean shingles, were blowing off my roof and landing on my car. My trusty yellow broom, which is a permanent fixture beside the side door of the Poderosa, was whapping into my vehicle, denting the hell out of it. Or people were falling out of the sky and landing on a giant snare drum.

After a full 90 minutes of this, I could take no more. I got up, pulled on some pants, and went outside. Now, this was a rather dicey proposition, with the wind and the rain, but I had to know. I started towards my car and saw it was fine. The broom was lying in the driveway, and I left it there because at that angle the wind didn't seem to be able to blow it into things, like my car. I checked windows, porch pillars, nothing.

Then I turned around and saw it. The next door neighbors, yes, in the House To The North, their storm door wasn't latched and with each gust of wind, *whap!* It was being blown open, backwards, into their house. And I have to tell you, folks, it was loud in the bedroom, but out in my yard? It was like shotgun fire.

And now, here's the thing. My neighbors were home! They were in that house with all that whapping going on! And so I stood there with a decision to make. Did I sneak over there and latch their door for them, or did I go back inside to a sleepless night of whapping? And Pod that I am, I don't guess I have to tell you what I chose. I went back inside. And listened to *whap!* all fucking night long. I'm like that, you know.

This morning as I was leaving for work, the door was still whapping. It had also lost most of its bottom. And I drove past it, wondering how my neighbors could have possibly slept through it all. Or if they, like me, laid there in bed and listened to their own door making nothing less than a public nuisance of itself. But then when I came home for lunch I noticed that that same dreaded door had now been forced shut with a brick lodged up against its broken bottom, and I figured maybe it was broken and wouldn't latch, and so now I don't hate my neighbors like I did several hours ago.

But if I hadn't been such a pod, and had gone over to check it, I'd have known that earlier. Wouldn't have helped me sleep at all, but I'd have had some sort of peace of mind.

I was lucky in the whole Windy October Night of '06. My only casualty was my watering can. It's now gone. To where it blew, I've not a clue. I made a rhyme, it was sublime. Anyway, it doesn't really matter because the can was kind of broken and had a white cloth bandage tied around its spout to keep the water from seeping out during watering sessions, and since my flowers are completely and irretrievably dead I don't guess I needed it anymore. See, we had a serious frost last week, and even though they were still rather perky the next morning when I left for work, when I came home for lunch, they were all toe-up. My theory? The shock of realizing they'd survived the frost killed them.

Anyway, back to the can. Pod that I am, I spent about 15 minutes after work driving up and down my street looking for the damn thing. My years-old watering can I probably paid a dollar for and with a bandaged spout. I just wanted to see where it ended up. I never found it, though, so if you see a bandaged watering can in your town, give me a call, please. I'd like to know; I worry.

I got hinky today at work over something. It's one of my things, those things that make me cringe and I have to force myself to do. I had - and try not to shudder, please - I had to finish an application that someone else started. Oh, my Lord.

This drives me crazy for some reason. I can't stand to start writing on an application, form, or anything else that someone else has written on. Seeing two different handwritings on something sends me goofy. So when I'm called upon to do such a horrid thing, I always try to copy the handwriting of the person who began the task. "Hmmm, slanted printing, how do they make their e's? Do they curve their y's, or make two sticks?" And I especially hate to have to make an 8. I make my 8s in a very specific way, one circle atop another, and these people who squiggle their way through an 8 - God! How do they do it? And more importantly, how do I do it?

Now, I have no qualms whatsoever in admitting that this may well be podly behavior. Because in filling out this application and analyzing my hinkiness, I thought of some other things. Mainly how when we in the offices of TheCompanyIWorkFor are signing a card for someone and one of us happens not to be around, I'm generally called upon to sign that person's name. "Oh, San's at the post office, just sign for her." And so I'll spend way too long trying to recreate that person's signature.

No one we send cards to knows how any of us write! What difference does it make? Well, to me, a lot, because I have to copy signatures to the letter. No pun intended.

Then! Then I got to thinking about something else that drives me crazy. Back to the forms and applications. God forbid I've been called upon to finish someone else's, and they've used a black pen and all I have to write with is a blue pen. Two colors on a form of any kind is just unacceptable. As is a combination of felt-tip and ballpoint, or even medium tip and fine tip. I'll spend triple the time it would take to fill out the form looking for a pen to match the one that began it. And then of course I have to mimic the handwriting.

It probably wouldn't surprise you to know either that I waste more office forms than any human on earth because I'll pull one out of my desk, fill in two lines, look at it, say, "Eww. I don't like how that looks," throw it away, and start again. I've taken to actually hiding these thrown away forms way down in the wastebasket so I won't be found out. Like an alcoholic hides vodka bottles.

Pod that I am.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! Whoops! The wind blew off your what?
- Special mention goes to Michelle, LilyG, and Capt A for not being able to resist "nads." Although some of you may have meant that sticky hair removal gel from the 90s.
- Honorable Mentions go to qaotip, with her "The wind blew off my new car," and Mike, with his, "The wind blew off my Nikes."
- Runners-Up go to Michelle, with her "The wind blew off my nosering," and LilyG, with her "The wind blew off my negligee." (Sure. Lily always blames that on the wind.)
- And this week's winner goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her, "The wind blew off my necktie."
- Everyone gets a mention, because everyone had great acros. And now everyone gets to touch my Chicago Symphony Windbreaker.
- Thanks for playing!

Monday, October 16, 2006


Hello, all you Monday letter people. Welcome to another round of acromania.

I'm toying with another one-letter round of acro. Wanna do it? Well, I'm easy. If you don't, simply don't participate, and my feelings won't be overly hurt. I'll just cry, take some sedatives, and resist the urge to jump out the window, which will be rather easy since I live on one floor. Wouldn't do much good anyway, would it?

Anyway, I was part and parcel of a four-hour long concert Saturday where the wind was so strong it was like - well, you know that old Marcel Marceau bit, "Walking Against The Wind?" We were standing and playing against the wind. Everything was blowing everywhere, our flags, music, stands, dresses, hats, and it didn't help that the cover over the stage was held down by the huge steel beams which creaked every time the wind caught them and made me think I was going to be hit square on the head by a falling metal pole.

So this week's one-letter acrotopic? Simply fill in the blank: "Whoops! The wind blew off my ____!"

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 used to have a toupee. March is a cruel month. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get to touch my Chicago Symphony Windbreaker, and the non-winners, who, well, won't.

The acrotopic? "Whoops! The wind blew off my ____!" The letter:


There you go, now acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sorry about the lack of PS and recipe. I shall blog this week, I promise. Or threaten.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

It's That Time Again!

Yes! Fall is in the air, the leaves are starting to turn, football season is heating up, Thanksgiving is just around the corner - and I'm having a nervous breakdown.

Now, don't cry for me, Blogentina, because this isn't any big special surprise news. I have a nervous breakdown every year about this time. It's an odd thing. I know it's coming, I see it coming, it comes, and there's not a damn thing I seem to be able to do about it.

And the fact that it always happens this time of year, of course, has to do with the fact that we're three to four weeks smack-dab into the middle of Oktoberfest. My NBD (nervous breakdown) always comes three to four weeks smack-dab into the middle of Oktoberfest.

It basically happens a little bit like this. Well, it actually happens exactly like this, every year. First week of Oktoberfest - Oh, joy! It's Oktoberfest time again! I'm leaving work early every Friday, putting on my outfit! I'm driving up the mountain, all nervous and tingly! There's German food! As much German food as I can eat! There's beer, and Goldschlager shots! Clarinet Polka! Singing, toasting, making rude jokes!

Three weeks later, and it goes a little bit, meaning of course exactly, like this, every year. Third week of Oktoberfest - Oh, God. I'm leaving work early every Friday, putting on the iron prison that is my outfit. I'm driving up the mountain, all weary and unenthused. If I have to look at any more German food, I think I'll puke. Beer's too heavy, and Goldschlager's too sweet. How will I fuck up the Clarinet Polka tonight? God, please not more singing and toasting, and by the way, I've heard that joke before, along with all the other ones, including the ones I myself make.

And then, sometime along in there I'll be driving home late at night and I'll start sniffling, and shaking my head, and making little whining noises, and by the time I've arrived back home I've thrown myself onto the couch, bawling like a baby and asking myself what on God's Green Earth I've done to deserve this. How a person can do what I've been doing and possibly survive till the end of it. Why me, why is it always so hard on me, poor delicate flower of a soul that I am.

And after about an hour of this my tears subside a bit, and I answer the "what have I done to deserve this" question with "because you wanted to," and I try to toughen up a little, and then the nervous breakdown starts to go away, and I go on, limping, till the end of Oktoberfest.

Then, of course, the last weekend of Oktoberfest I want to cry because I'm going to miss it all so much until next year.

Now, mainly, this whole NBD thing comes about because by week three to four, I'm just plain old garden variety tired. I'm so tired sometimes I don't feel like I can't put one foot in front of the other, much less in a dirndl while playing "The Clarinet Polka." And the fatigue comes from doing Sauerkraut Band season while trying to live my normal life at the same time. So here's what a week in October has become for me. Working all day at TheCompanyIWorkFor, coming home, doing housework, finding time to walk, making sure I have clean clothes, blogging, podcasting, judging acro, driving 90 minutes to band on Wednesdays, 90 minutes home, packing for the weekend, then driving the same amount of time up the mountain on Fridays and home, driving the same amount of time on Saturday to Mr M's, where we head back up the mountain together, then home to his house, then driving back to B'field on Sunday, hoping I have some pictures for Picture Sunday, and knowing that unless some kind soul volunteers to be creative on my behalf, I'll have to think up and make a recipe du jour on Sunday afternoon while staving off phone calls from my parents to have me come over there and have dinner so they can stare at me.

And that's a normal week. Sometimes I travel out for a pedicure, or haircut, or there's a Community Band concert or other Sauerkraut Band gig on one of the free nights, which causes more driving and puts all housework, laundry, etc, out of kilter. Then there was last week, where I skipped Community Band on Wednesday but more than made up for it Thursday by working half a day and driving to see the Hackensaw Boys the other half, seeing The Boys, dancing, drinking, staying up late, then getting up early to drive back home, changing into the prison that is my dirndl, driving up the mountain, etc etc etc.

And now, check out what this week has in store for me. Working, walking, cleaning, podcasting, blogging, judging acro, going to Community Band this week, shopping tonight for the brother-in-law's birthday present, packing for the weekend, going up the mountain Friday, back home that night, then Saturday I have to be in Roanoke (a 2½ hour drive) at 11am for a Sauerkraut Band gig that will last most of the day, and from Roanoke we haul our cookies back up the mountain for Oktoberfest, then back to Mr M's, and Sunday afternoon I have a Community Band concert, after which I'll drive about 2 hours back home just in time to go to the brother-in-law's birthday dinner where my parents will stare at me, and, well, folks, if I were yall I wouldn't really expect a Picture Sunday. Just don't expect one and be pleasantly surprised if it happens.

So if I was brave enough to look out my picture window, which believe me I'm not, I have a feeling I'd see the Nervous Breakdownmobile on the street outside my house, with his left turn signal on to enter my driveway. And I have the same kind of feeling that Sunday night might be boo-hoo night on the couch for me.

Next Friday I won't be able to leave work early, and so getting up the mountain on time is going to be a rather dicey proposition. As will Wednesday after next, when the Sauerkraut Band has a Wednesday show in B'burg and I can't leave work early. See, if only a dirndl was proper work attire. Then I wouldn't have to take all that time getting ready, and could just zip from work to where I need to be. On that Wednesday gig I guess I'll be running in the door as the first song is in progress, tying up my apron and still putting my horn together. If I'm lucky. But that's the future, and I'd just as soon not think about it right now.

Now, let me impart this little goodie on you. Along with the rush of life and Oktoberfest, as I said, I'm also doing my everyday work stuff as well. I've known for about three weeks now that by October 13 I have to take an online class and exam to recertify to help old people buy Medicare Part D. I did this last year, blogged about it, it made my life very busy and nervous, and now that the government has decided to change a lot of rules about it all I find myself having to re-test. According to TheCompanyIWorkFor, the test takes 45 minutes and a person gets two chances to pass it, or they have no recertification and can't help old people buy Medicare Part D anymore.

Since 45 minutes (and that was just for the test) of uninterrupted time is impossible in my office, I'd planned to stay late from work and take the class and test tonight.

When I got back from lunch today, the boss was flashing her new recertification paper at me and said, "Listen, it doesn't take 45 minutes. Just forget the online class, go straight to the test and take it, and if you get a question you don't know the answer to, ask me."

This is cheating. I did not care. I wanted this thing out of my life, and we found out from last year's onslaught of old people (because many came by our office specifically to tell us this) that we were taking care of their needs and helping them with their Medicare Part D plans better than anyone else in town who was doing it. So I fired up the test and had at it.

Many of the questions were easy ethical questions, but I finally hit a question that involved new Open Enrollment or Special Enrollment or Annual Enrollment periods, and so I read the question to the boss. Instead of answering the question and letting me get back to it - she came back to my office and stood right over my fucking shoulder the entire rest of the test, telling me what answers to put in. This made me an absolute nervous wreck, but I took her advice, answered the questions, and pushed the "submit" button. I failed. I was one question away from success.

And so I fired up the test and had at it again, with the boss over my fucking shoulder the entire time again, telling me what to answer. I pushed the submit button. I failed again. Again, I was one question away from success.

And so I failed my two tests. Actually, my boss failed my two tests. I guess that's what I get for cheating, but the upshot of it all is that I cannot recertify. I cannot, at least in 2007, help old people buy Medicare Part D.

And I got depressed. I have this thing in me about passing tests. I don't care what it is, if I'm taking a test, failure is not an option, at least not until today, when failure was not only an option, it was a cruel fact of life.

I went and had a nice pee for myself ("Oof!"), and while I was sitting there dreading getting up, for the pain in my pulled muscle and the fact that it would make me have to go back to work, I decided to change my whole attitude about failure. I spent hour upon hour this past year helping old people buy Medicare Part D, and what did I get for it? Nothing. I got behind in my other work, I didn't get one single penny of compensation, and I didn't even get a pat on the head from the boss, TheCompanyIWorkFor, or TheCompanyThatShillsMedicarePartD. So fuck it. Fuck the whole thing. It's now one less task at work I'll have to perform. Let someone else worry about it in the coming year. Thank you, God, for the failure!

Still, the NBD is signaling to turn into my driveway. It's OK, though. It'll only last an hour or so.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Before you have your nervous breakdown, rest assured that there is a new hucklebug podcast up and ready to go. Go here to access it via website, or listen through iTunes. And enjoy!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tickets To What I Need

You know it's going to be one of those days when you're delivered a rubber vulture in the mail.

OK, so I actually ordered the vulture, it's not like someone anonymously sent him my way as a harbinger of doom, but it was still an interesting experience opening up that box. I ordered the vulture on Mr M's behalf, and those of you who know Mr M realize that there is nothing at all abnormal about him wanting a giant rubber vulture. In fact, it might be out of character for him not to want a giant rubber vulture.

He's a little bit endearing, to be honest. I know that must come as an incredible insult to him, this Bird of Death, but I like him quite a bit. I've named him Hiram.

As I mentioned oh-so briefly yesterday, I hurt. I'm injured in some way, and I'm not sure exactly how. I guess I'm injured in that way where you just mysteriously hurt. It's in my stomach, on my left side, and at first I thought I'd cut myself, because the pain seemed to be topical. So I looked at my stomach, not an entirely lovely proposition, and realized there was no cut, bruise, nor anything else. The pain is akin to being stabbed quickly with a butcher knife when I am in the act of sitting down, standing up, or bending over. When this pain happens, everything goes a little quiet in my body, save for the sound of me going, "Oof!"

Now as you might imagine, these three motions that cause me pain, sitting, standing, and bending over, make something that was once a pleasant experience, having a small pee for myself, a now not-so pleasant experience. Sitting, "Oof!" Standing, "Oof!" Bending over to catch the pants afterwards, "Oof!"

I had convinced myself that I'd pulled a muscle in my tum-tum somewhere over the past few days, though I'm not sure how that could have happened. Dancing to the Hackensaw Boys? Toasting on the mountain? Driving? Going to the movies? With the slight exception of number one, not exactly your more strenuous activities.

Anyway, it just so happened that today at work I got to speak to my buddy TT. TT is, of course, my surgery mentor and is, if you'll remember, also not above kicking my ass. Thankfully, today I didn't come in line for an ass-kicking, but I did mention my little "Oof!" problem to TT and she said, "I wonder if you have a hernia."

Hernia? Shockwaves went through the body. ("Oof!")

Now, I know that by virtue of the fact that I've had surgery I'm more vulnerable to a hernia than most. In fact, I'm not supposed to lift anything, really, but I still do because I'm just that kind of girl, but I just never pictured myself as the "hernia kind." Even though I couldn't tell you a single thing about what the "hernia kind" might look like.

TT told me a good way to find out if I need to be thinking hernia instead of pulled muscle. Lay flat on the floor, and do a sit-up while holding the area of my stomach that hurts. If there is a knot or bulge, I may want to see a doctor.

I didn't really have the heart to tell TT that doing a sit-up while holding my stomach might actually give me a hernia, if not a full-blown stroke, and so I told her I'd try it. I haven't yet, but I plan to before, oh sometime, I guess. Before I forget, certainly.

So I told TT that I'd do that, but that I just didn't have the time in my life right now for a hernia. Actually, what I think I said was, "I don't want a hernia," in a particularly whiny way that was just an invitation to an ass-kicking, but instead of getting out her pointy boots, TT replied, "Well, now, don't be so hasty. If you have to have hernia surgery, they'll automatically do a tummy tuck at the same time, if you like."

And so now I'm kind of hoping for a hernia. In fact, I'm wondering how I can get me one, and I even asked TT if she had any suggestions on this. I could feel her foot heading towards the phone receiver and so I let up on the subject, but I did go online tonight to do a little research on how a person can prevent a hernia. And so I'm going to do the opposite.

Seems all I have to do is slouch in my abdominal area and lift heavy objects poorly. And I figure having an abdominal slouch while lifting heavy objects is pretty poor indeed, and I can kill two birds with one stone. And then have my surgery, and kill two more birds with one stone. Two stones, four dead birds, everybody's happy. Except the birds, I guess.

So if you see me in the future holding a bowling ball in one hand and a five-gallon jug of water in the other, slouching in my abdominal region, please remember this blog and don't ask me what I'm doing. I won't have time to answer. I have a hernia to induce.

Until then, if you'll excuse me, I have to go have a nice evening in with a rubber vulture.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. I think. I liked everyone's answers so much I couldn't decide, and so I'm letting Mr M hand out the favors this week. So, Alaska.
- Honorable Mention goes to Flipsy, with her "Everlasting natural terrain: eskimo’s ransom."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her "Eskimos need tender erection relief."
- And this week's winner goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Ebullient northerners tally energy reserves."
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well. All complaints and/or thank yous to be sent to Mr M for processing.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Hello, letterites. Welcome to another round of acromania.

We're going to do something we haven't done in a while. A state Acro. Tonight's state will be "Alaska." Well, it will be Alaska, not "Alaska," but since my acrotopics are always in quotes, I guess it will in fact be "Alaska." So quotes or no quotes, tell me anything you'd like to about that big icy expanse of state up north.

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. A moose once bit the acrobasket's sister. Really! Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get to look at a picture of Alaska and proclaim, "I won an acro about that!" and the non-winners, who will get to look at a picture of Alaska and proclaim, "I didn't win an acro about that."

So, the topic, "Alaska." Or Alaska. The letters:


Good Lord, I pulled out a word! That's never happened before!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I hurt. I'm injured, and I have to podcast.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hotel Room: $95
Ticket: $10
Gas: $45
WV Turnpike Tolls: $7.50
Seeing The Hackensaw Boys: Priceless

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another road tired and sleepy edition of Picture Sunday.

My weekend started on Thursday. After much worrying, gnashing of teeth, rending of garments, etc, I finally decided to make the trip to Morgantown to see my very own Hackensaw Boys. OK, so I don't own the band, but in their own way they're "mine." I left work at 1:30, came by the Pod to pick up my stuff, and headed north, where I kept heading for 4½ hours till I reached that mecca of redneckedness. Found the hotel with no problems, did a slight bit of freshening up, took about a 10 minute nap, and headed into town till I reached 123 Pleasant St, the venue for the evening.

Of course I was early, as I always am to these things. The first band didn't start till 10, and I got there at about 8. I went to the cafe across the street for a cup of coffee, which didn't take nearly as long as I was hoping, and so I went back to the car for a little while and did my usual, "Geez, I'm alone, I don't want to go into that place alone and sit around like a dork waiting for the Hackensaw Boys and no one likes me anyway and I'm going to have a rotten time" routine till about 8:45. Then I took a deep breath and headed back across the street.

When I got there the place was virtually empty, save for a few people coming through to head to the bar. "Hmm, the bar," I thought, and headed out for a beer, then came back and sat at a table. Within 15 minutes or so, though, three hippie kids came in and started up a conversation with me, and so I was fine. We were having a good old time talking Hackies, and then who should come by but the one and only Ferd (that's Four Hackensaw to some), and he gave me a hug and sat down at the table with us awhile. The mysteriously canceled Rocktoberfest (which was to be today) was a topic of conversation, as was Mr M's now being gainfully employed. "What will become of him," Ferd mused.

I also learned at that time a few things. Nice hippie kids will hold your seat for you while you go get another beer, and that you can smoke in bars in WV, and that hippie kids will also hold your seat for you while you go back to your car to get your smokes, and that this night, the six Hackensaws would be five. Mahlon is still off being a dad, and Pokey was off being, as Ferd so eloquently put it, "A solo southern star," and so there'd be no mandolin player that night. A little disappointing.

The first band started a little after 10, and I ambled off for one more beer, saying goodbye to the hippie kids, then found a place on the floor to worm my way closer to the stage. The first band were a fun little outfit called '85 Flood, and the best thing about them was that they didn't overstay their welcome. When they were through, I got bold and moved myself as close to the stage as I could get.

Where I met some more nice folks after taking a ribbing from them about smoking clove cigarettes, and I met a very nice fellow named Grady who was asking me who all I liked musically, and though he seemed quite young, I was impressed with his knowledge of 80s music. He'd never seen The Boys before, and was hoping they'd do his favorite, "Lonesome Train." They did. Go Grady. Grady also tried to buy me more beer, because he was an extremely nice fellow, but I had to cut myself off since I was driving home. He also called me ma'am.

In short order, the five that were normally six took the stage, and it was a blast. The dancing started immediately, and I was in the middle of it. They opened up with "Gospel Plow," followed closely by "Alabama Shamrock," and really, how can you argue with that.

And the fact that they were mandolinless actually put an interesting spin on things. It changed up their set list a bit and also changed some of their arrangements.

You know, it's great being really close during a concert, but I find myself so close sometimes that I can't get the full band in a shot. Which makes for an "individual pictures" type of Picture Sunday. It's OK, though. You know the roster.

How about Ferd doing a little testifying for us?

With Salvage at his side, of course. Ferd was in rare form Thursday night. He seemed to be having as much fun as I was, and I don't think it would come as any surprise that he was having more beer.

I like this picture because of the look of astonishment Salvage is giving BabyJ.

I mean, he was just singing. He's sung before.

A little more BabyJ, perhaps? I mean, really, does anyone ever get tired of looking at this boy?

Bass, guitar, harmonica, accordion. The boy plays everything. Say hello to Cousin Spits, too, of course, don't make him feel left out.

Finally, my favorite picture of the night.

Now there are some nice boys.

It ended all too soon, but not necessarily too early, as it was after 1:30. I hung around a little while just to get the chance to thank Ferd and tell him I'd see him again soon, hopefully in Thomas, WV (going there the right way this time) in December. I stuck out my hand to shake, and though he was squatting on the stage, he said, "Wait, I gotta hug you," and hugged me and gave me a big kiss. That Ferd's good people.

As I was walking out I walked pretty much into Salvage, who looked at me a little like he was looking at BabyJ above, and said, "Ohhhhhh!" I knew why, and replied, "Yes, our dream died." See, Salvage was the one who was really interested in the idea of the Sauerkraut Band and the Hackensaw Boys trying to do a number together at Rocktoberfest. A short conversation and hug later, and I was out the door.

Back at the hotel by 2:45, didn't go to sleep till about 4, then up at 8:30 the next morning to hit the road home, arriving there just in time to shower, get into the prison known as my dirndl, and head up the mountain for Oktoberfest. Which was fun, as was Saturday night, then it was a few clarinet duets, a movie, dinner with Granny & Paw, and I'm finally home.

And need some sleep.

And now, time for the recipe du jour, and a special announcement.

Tonight will be the first-ever guest recipe. Now, I know I've done dishes suggested by you fine folks, but I'm now opening the floor for any of you to make your own recipe. All you have to do is make the thing, whatever you want, surprise me, and take its picture and send it along to me with a description. I'll turn it into a card for you, and you will become semi-famous. It'll be fun. So do it, I know you want to. Just email me, and I'll help you any way I can.

Tonight's recipe is a wonderful concoction created by no less a person than Mr M himself. It comes from the "Satisfying Dishes" file in cardland, please say hello to it now, Cream of Tobacco Soup.

Leave it to Mr M to cook with the one thing that's always on hand in his home. This is a little number that starts with your basic cream base and Captain Black tobacco. Then when it's about 10 minutes away from fruition, you add a second round of tobacco. This makes it, as Mr M says, "rustic," and gives it texture. It is specified that 2 things are extremely important in the consumption of this dish. You never put grated cheese on it, and you never eat it while wearing a nicotine patch. The soup is served with crackers, and cigarette papers, which are to be rolled and dipped in the soup for eating.

As a special added attraction, we even get dessert with tonight's dish. That would be up in the left-hand corner there, Ramen Surprise, a chunk of ramen noodles with strawberry puree and whipped cream. The surprise is that the noodles aren't cooked, which I guess takes the surprise right out of it, actually, but it does help you to have your teeth firmly in place before trying it.

Many thanks to Mr M, and happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I know Stennie & I were having a podcast discussion of the rudeness of not stopping for emergency vehicles, and I'm all for doing that, even the police, unless the police are after you, then I suggest you hit the gas and don't look back. However, a question: Why are the police allowed to drive faster than everyone else? Here we are toodling along at the speed limit and the police are just going 70, 80, whatever they want, passing everybody and thumbing their noses at their own rules. I find this very unfair, and I plan to write someone about it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Shameless Promotion Department

Hello to you all. It's Tuesday, otherwise known as blog in earnest night in Betland, but I don't really have much to tell you about. Except that I finally got off of my indecisive ass today and made that final decision to go and see the Hackensaw Boys this week. I'd been back-and-forthing about it for about three weeks, thinking of 98 reasons not to go and one reason to go. And today at lunch, the 98 reasons lost out and the one, because I wanted to, won.

So that said, and with nothing else to ponder, I thought I'd indulge in a little Shameless Nephew Promotion. Because, see, there's this radio station called WUVT, it's the radio station of Virginia Tech. And, see, on Wednesday nights from 7pm to 9pm they have this show and it's called "Local Scene." And also, see, guess who the guests on this show are going to be tomorrow night? Yes, none other than my nephew's band, the Stetsons.

They'll be doing some playing in the studio, and talking, I suppose (which should be fun as none of them are talkers, per se), and maybe playing stuff off their CD. Anyway, the big news is that you can listen to this all online. And I urge you to do so. Because if you don't, well, won't you have missed out when they become world famous.

So here's what you do. Go here, which is a link to WUVT's website. There's a "listen online" link from there. It's 7pm eastern time, so you west-coasters can listen while you're wrapping up your workdays. Then all there is left to do is ooh and ahh over my nephew and his band. It's very simple, really.

Oh, I'll leave you with a Stetson story I've not told. One of the members spoke to a man who someone told him owned three clubs in the area. And that was true, the man did own three clubs. So the member (this is Andrew, guitar player), gave the man a CD, and the man called him back and said the Stetsons would be on rotation in all three of his clubs.

What the guys found out later is that the three clubs the man owns are all strip clubs in the area. So the fine young boys who make up the Stetsons can be content in the knowledge that some poor girl is pole-dancing for lunch money to their music. Ahh, showbiz.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. "Oh, and by the way...."
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, with her "Roger eats small rodents."
- Runner-Up goes to Flipsycab, with her "Read everything. Stimulate reason."
- And this week's winner goes to Bitterspice, with her "Reality ended Sunday. Repent!"
- Thanks to all who played. You've all done very well.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Hello, letter lovers. Welcome to Monday, and another I'm posting late again, I know it round of acromania.

Quickly, quickly. Let's see, topic right off the top of my head. OK, here's one. It's called, "Oh, and By The Way...." It's just a little p.s. to the end of a conversation. Say you've been having a long phone conversation with someone and it's time to sign off. And you say, "Oh, and by the way...."

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. Oh, and by the way, the acrobasket did six years for armed robbery of a furniture store. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will be lovingly looked upon, and the non-winners, who will also be lovingly looked upon, because, let's face it, you're all my friends.

So this week's acrotopic, "Oh, and By The Way...." The letters:


So there you have it. And by the way, go acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Folks, guess what. My house is clean. It's clean!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Welcome to another where did the weekend go already round of Picture Sunday.

Well, we're into the full swing of Oktoberfest two weeks in. Friday was good, Saturday was good.

Friday I drove back home off the mountain after it was over with, and even after 2 cups of coffee (one on the way up the mountain and one once I was there), I sat down at midnight in my Comfy Chair to watch a movie and fell asleep 10 minutes in. I woke up in that same chair at 5:18 am, transferred to bed, and kept right on sleeping. And even though I set all three alarms for 8am, I hit "off" on all of them and continued to sleep, thus missing the nephew's drumline's appearance in a local parade Saturday morning. Sorry, guy. I tried.

Big doings on the mountain on Saturday. It was a happy day when it happened to me 2 years ago, and it was happy day for my friends and roommates. Last night, my boy Sherman and his mentor Mr Peabody got their honorary Sauerkraut Band doctorates. So that's now Dr Sherman and Dr Peabody to you, thanks.

And I guess it was bound to happen. After his doctorate, Mr Peabody even indulged in a few German beers to celebrate. Who'd have guessed such an erudite canine couldn't hold his liquor?

He's nursing a bit of a headache today. So of course I've been yelling and making as much noise as possible.

Hey, here's me taking a picture - of someone taking a picture of me.

OK, one more. Here's this week's art pic. Yes, in actuality they're called mistakes, but this is my Picture Sunday. I'm calling it an art pic.

That's Mr M and his clarinet. If you've had a little too much to imbibe.

Here's this week's non-Oktoberfest photo. It involves a trivia question. And that question is, "Who is the most frequently seen political talking head in the history of television?" Well, it's this guy here.

Good old Senator Joe Biden. Now, I have nothing against Senator Biden, in fact there's a lot about him I like. But Jeezy Petes, the man is on television every friggin' day. If he's making appearance money, he's a wealthy man indeed.

The funny thing about this is that this is today's picture of Mr Biden. I've actually taken about six others previously, thinking he'd show up in Picture Sunday, maybe all my pictures of him as one PS round. Then I realized they all look exactly alike, his head sitting there talking, and so I ditched the others and went with today's.

And now, time for the recipe du jour. You know, some are born to greatness, and others have it thrust upon them. And some who have it thrust upon them would really rather just be somewhere else rolling around in the mud. But one poor porcine did in fact have it thrust upon him this week and he became this week's recipe. From the "Unfortunate Souls" file in cardland, please say hello to Hermann.

The directions to a little Hermann are simple. Take Rt 460 in southwestern Virginia until you see the Mountain Lake sign, then head up the mountain, hand over your money, and have at it. Now, for all my vegetarian friends out there who I'm sure are cursing the day I was born, I will say that while I eat meat, I never eat the pig du buffet. I don't know if it's because I'm not that much of a pork fan, that I don't want to eat anything that's looking at me, or that I don't want to eat anything with a name. But there he is, may he rest in peace. Or pieces, many of which were partaken of by the revelers.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* In an effort to keep my house from collapsing under the dirt that seems to be gathering while I'm off doing other things, today it was the bathroom that came in for a major cleaning. Hoping I tidy up the living room tonight while taking in a movie. You and I know this will not happen, as the movie has subtitles, but a girl can dream, can't she?