Thursday, November 30, 2006

(The first episode in a sweeping serial of love and longing, pain and heartache, through the sands of time, lights, camel, action, and right into your homes....)

The Desk, pt 1

So anyway. You all know that I painted the denette, and you all also know that in doing so I caused much disarray at the Poderosa. The denette is now painted, and most of it's all back where it needs to be, and oddly enough, in doing that I also ended up doing some serious cleaning and straightening to the the Beast (the spare bedroom), and even to my living room closet. Which is good, I'll admit. I'll admit that right up front.

But the kitchen is still a mess, because I have certain things I can't move back into the denette yet. Because I'm waiting for my new desk.

Yes, on Sunday I ordered a new computer desk, at great expense to my person, because I've hated the one I have now for some 10 years and I figured while I was making all these denette improvements I may as well go whole hog with it. I found out in the ordering process that even though desks are now suddenly very expensive, sometimes you get your shipping for free, though you still have to pay tax which makes it even more expensive. But I did the deed and ordered a nice little (well, actually it's not that little, a fact I immediately began to worry about) item, forked over my credit card number, and set about the task of waiting for it to arrive.

And so I waited. Impatiently. I think when you order something it should be delivered by Acme, the delivery company of Wiley Coyote, where you put down the phone and the men ring the doorbell with your new item. It's the 21st century, but we still don't have flying cars and we still don't have the instant delivery system, and frankly, I think someone needs to get to work on those pronto.

I waited all week, checking order statuses and the like, and this afternoon as I was passing by the phone I noticed I had 8 messages on my machine. This was a change since last night, when I had 7 messages. These were my seven messages: 1) "This is Sherry (rest of message spoken so rapidly I couldn't tell you a thing in it except a phone number with no area code)." 2) "This is Sherry, from your evil surgery doctor's office wanting you to schedule an appointment." (I never did. Message is about 4 months old.) 3) "Hi, Bet. It's Mom (etc, etc)." 4) "Hi, Bet, it's Mom (etc, etc)." 5) "Hello, it's me, just calling quickly...." (My sister's always "just calling quickly.") 6) "Hi, Bet, it's Mom (etc, etc)." 7) "Hi, Bet, it's Mom (etc, etc)." (Noticing a pattern here? Yes, they're always on the machine, and they always begin the same way.)

So I raced to message 8, erasing messages 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 (I keep the first two just in case I have a moment of weakness and schedule the appointment), and message 8 was from Ray at the freight company. He mispronounced my name, but everyone does, and told me they had a brand spanking new desk for me and if I wanted it, here's the number I could call him back at. And so I picked up and dialed.

A cheery woman answered the phone, and when I told her who I was she put me straight through to Ray. I didn't know the man and had no preconceived notions of his general aura, but it didn't take long for him to piss me off.

It all began when he told me that he supposed I wanted my desk delivered to TheCompanyIWorkFor there at [my address]. I told him no, that [my address] was where I lived and that it was a house. After a period of stunned silence from him, Ray then proceeded to - try and convince me that no, [my address] was where I worked and not where I lived. After much back and forthing and my doing everything but signing a sworn affadavit of my address he let that go, though he still didn't sound very convinced of the whole thing, and then he got on to the delivery part.

"Now, you don't have any steps leading up to your house, do you?" he asked, and I told him that yes, I did, but only two small ones, and he then told me that there was only going to be one delivery man at my house and this desk weighs upwards of 250 pounds, and was my husband going to be there to help him unload the thing. I made the mistake of telling Ray that I did not in fact have a husband, and for some reason he just didn't like that at all.

"Well, this desk weighs 250 pounds," he repeated, and I said rather sadly, "Well, it's just me." I did tell him that maybe I could try and round up a man for the delivery, but that if I could round up a man, well, I don't guess it would just have been me all these years. I tried to help matters by telling Ray that I'd make sure the driveway was clear so the truck could back up right to my door to make it all easier, after which he laughed in my face right over the phone and said that they couldn't very well back a tractor trailer up to the door in the driveway. And I apologized, though I wanted to say, "How in the fiery fuck was I supposed to know that you deliver these things via tractor trailer?" Then he told me about what time to expect a call for delivery, and that was that.

But it still pissed me off. Listen, world (and Ray) - I'm just a schmuck who ordered a desk. What do I know about anything else? I forked over my money and expected it to arrive at my door. The "how" part is up to you all.

These people work for a freight company. Their job is to deliver things, dammit. They're the experts here, and Ray acted it like it was really more trouble than it was worth to bring the desk I bought (at great expense to my person) to my house. And if that's too much trouble, then Ray is in the wrong business. And personally, though I tried to make concessions over the phone because Ray was something of a bully, I don't give a flip if the desk weighs 250 pounds, or 1250 pounds, for that matter. I ordered it, they were picked by the store to deliver it, and if it's too heavy for one guy to slide into my denette door, then why don't they bring two. In fact, why doesn't Ray himself come along and do some heavy lifting?

And while we're at it, whether I have a husband or not, to paraphrase Sheldon Kornpett in "The In-Laws," when is it the policy for a delivery company to ask private citizens to help them unload and move furniture? Isn't there some sort of union rule against this? If I or my imaginary husband throws out a back muscle during the move, is the freight company liable for our injuries?

Because I'm telling you, people, there's only one thing worse than an imaginary husband, and that's an imaginary husband with a disability.

It comes tomorrow, though. I'll keep you posted.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And what will become of the desk I have now? I think I'll ask the delivery man to carry it to the shed in my back yard. Or not.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oh, Bobby

As you may know, I spent a fair amount of time last weekend in the act of painting a room. I was in said room, alone, with my thoughts and a good deal of paint fumes, which I'm not sure my head has adequately recovered from as yet, and since my television was unplugged and I couldn't very well watch it anyway, seeing as how I was painting and all, it was the sound of music from my computer that proved my salvation.

In other words, thank God for iTunes. Party shuffle, no less.

Well, thank God for the most part. I mean, iTunes on party shuffle is a blast, but there were times it absolutely freaked me out. Here are random songs being spat at me by my computer, a machine with a very large brain but supposedly no capacity for humor or irony, right? So then how in the hell do you explain such in-jokes as David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World" being followed by Nirvana's "The Man Who Sold The World?" Or even more bizarre, the Aames Brothers' "Ragg Mopp" followed by Stan Freberg's parody of it, "Ratt Fink?" When you're alone in your house sniffing paint fumes at 3am, that kind of stuff will make you question your existence, I'm telling you.

One of the main advantages of using iTunes while taking on a (spread over three days) 26-hour task is that, not to blow my own horn, but with a random shuffle of my own songs, it was like listening to the coolest radio station in the world. And without commercials.

However, even the best radio stations in the world fire out a clunker every now and then.

Back during the last CD Mix Exchange (and another is on its way, folks, beware), you may recall that I went into iTunes and gave it a complete overhaul, making sure every file had a title and artist attached to it, and that most of them also had a genre attached. I used genres from my old Napster days, "Memory Lane," "Guilty Pleasures," "50s" - and I carried over another to iTunes as well. "Horrid."

The "Horrid" genre basically came about as a joke with all the regulars in #squeeze, when we began the discussion - the discussion that raged for years and even crops up to this very day - of what is the worst song of all time. You know, we all have ours. Our songs that seem to become huge hits even though they're horrible, and every one of the 14 million times they're played on the radio we sit and marvel at who in the hell could possibly stand this song enough to buy it or request that it be played on the radio. You've got your "Seasons In The Sun," your "Patches," your "Playground In My Mind." In #squeeze, we basically narrowed it down to four. The Quadumvirate of Doom. "Honey," by Bobby Goldsboro, "Never Been To Me," by Charlene, "Havin' My Baby," by Paul Anka, and as kind of an afterthought, "Clowny Clown Clown," by actor and all-around weirdo Crispin Glover ("I'm strong - I can kick!"), who for this recording goes by the name of Crispin "Hellion" Glover.

And thank God again, only "Clowny Clown Clown" came up on the party shuffle, but also, when alone in your house smelling paint fumes at 3am, that's not really a song you're longing to hear. Or at any other time, I'm afraid.

Now, I sit square in the middle of that camp that says "Honey" is the worst song of all time. I mean, there's so much there to hate I don't know where to begin. The schmaltzy swelling violins, the story of the girl who's "kinda dumb and kinda smart," and the mentioning of the angels coming to take her away (ha ha, hee hee, ho ho - no, wait, that's another song). But probably the worst thing about it for me, and this is worst in a long line of worses, is how the song tells its sad and sorry tale and winds back around to the beginning again, where the song ends by telling the story again from the beginning. It conjures up making the mistake of sitting beside the worst person you could possibly pick to sit beside in a bar, there telling his story for every guy who walks in to buy a drink. If only the bartender had an assault rifle behind the bar. That song could have finished in short order. "See the tree how big it's grown, but friend, it hasn't been too long..." *Ka-Blaaaam!* And the bar goes up in spontaneous applause.

"Honey" was not written by Bobby Goldsboro, it was written by a guy named Bobby Russell (and shame on him), but I place the blame square on Mr Goldsboro's shoulders for recording the damn thing and having a hit with it. Bobby G could have easily said, "Holy shit. This song's a piece of trash. I need something upbeat and fuzzy, another 'Watching Scotty Grow.'" (Yet another shitty song, this one written by Mac Davis, but we won't even go there.)

But as I said, I was very lucky indeed that this little nugget from my "Horrid" file went unplayed. However.

However, another little Bobby Goldsboro nugget from my "Horrid" file did get played. And it's made me have a re-think of "Honey" being the worst song of all time. The Bobby Goldsboro nugget that did get played was "Summer (The First Time)."

From all I've gleaned while doing a bit of internet research, Bobby G himself wrote this one. It's the story of a young man losing his virginity to an older woman, a subject I'd frankly rather not hear even alone in my house smelling paint fumes, much less over the public airwaves. (Or pubic airwaves, as they become for this number.)

The song begins with a sound effect of ocean waves, then actually sucks us in for a few seconds with a piano line and a rather interesting chord. Then the vocals begin, and it's all downhill from there. This song has such embarrassing lyrics that it comes as no surprise to me that we don't hear about Bobby Goldsboro anymore. One can only hope he's in his home, hiding, with the drapes drawn, in his bathtub, with the shower stall door locked, hunched up in a ball, with a bag over his head. You know it's going to be bad when the first line of your song is, "It was a hot afternoon, the last day of June, and the sun was a demon/The clouds were afraid, 110 in the shade, and the pavement was steaming." Steaming? This man rhymes "demon" with "steaming?" He won't even use "steamin'?" Oh, Lord have mercy. (And by the way, "The clouds were afraid?" Now there's a lovely line to remember. "Mommy, look how blue the sky is!" "Yes, that's because the clouds are all afraid, dear.")

We go on to discover that Bobby's with Billy Ray in his red Chevrolet, and tells old Billy he needs time for some thinking. As all teenagers do, you know. I mean, don't all teenagers say, "Sorry, can't go to the game tonight - I need time for some thinking." Oh, but when Bobby goes out for a walk to do some thinking, guess what. He meets a woman and he swore she was winking. Listen, she was either winking or she wasn't, Bobby. Don't overthink, your black lacquered haircut might catch fire.

Then we find out that she was a ripe 31 while he was only 17, and he knew nothing about love, but she knew everything. And yes, I'm supposing that "everything" includes how to snag jailbait.

And so her wink, come hither look, and probably a wagging finger entices Bobby to her house, where they sit on the porch and we get even better rhymes, like sweat trickling down the front of her gown (Gown? She was there winking at him on the streetcorner in her gown?), the sun starting to swelter while he thought it would melt her, and what should be a hanging offense for lyricists and no mistake, she sipped on a julep, and he stared at her two lips. (Which actually brings to mind a joke, but it's rather vulgar and shan't be repeated here for fear of my being called Lowest Common Demoninator by Mr M.)

Oh, but while they sat there on the front porch swing, Ms 31 told Bobby (he heard her softly say) that she knew he was young, and didn't know what to do or say (hey, now there's what I want in a lover!), but if he'd only stay with her till the sun was gone away, and I quote, "I'll chase the boy in you away." With a broom, if necessary, I'm sure, just like a hound dog being chased off a lawn. (Oh, and how imaginative to rhyme "away" with, well, "away.")

So then our happy couple walks a mile or so down to the beach, and by gum, right there on the sand a boy took her hand, but he watched the sun rise as a man. What, did he get some hot older woman action, or was there some sort of weird seaside bar mitzvah that night?

Anyway, the deed done, now Bobby tells us all that though ten years have gone by since he looked in her eyes, the memory lingers, and also that he goes back in his mind to that very first time, and the touch of her fingers, which worries me because I have a feeling that judging by all of the above, those fingers probably weren't overly clean, and I wonder if Bobby had to make a little trip to the health clinic afterwards for a shot.

But then - then! Once Bobby tells us he goes back to that happy place and the touch of this old bag's disease-ridden fingers, you know what he says? "It was a hot afternoon, the last day of June, and the sun was a demon." He starts the whole fucking story over again! He steals the worst feature of "Honey," a song he didn't even write, and yet again becomes that guy in the bar we all wish would just get blown away by the bartender's AK-47.

Did he think this terrible song device was actually clever? Did Bobby G actually do this, maybe in real life? Did all of his stories start over and then over, and over, and over? Did the man have any friends at all, or did they all run when he entered a room?

Nevermind. It's a horrible song, just like "Honey" is a horrible song, and "Watching Scotty Grow" is certainly no prize, either. And while we're at it, Bobby had the most annoying vibrato in his voice, enough to send a chill up your spine, which just adds to the horridness of these numbers.

Oh well. This woman's in her 70s now, I guess, and I wonder if she's still standing out on the streetcorner in her gown winking at underage boys. If she is, fine. At least she has the good graces not to tell us about it. Over and over.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what is the worst song title of all time?
- Honorable mention goes to River Selkie, with her psychedelic rock number, "Nigel Makes Hot Iguana Pancakes."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with what I'm sure will be a rap classic, "Nutz, My Head, It's Painin'."
- And this week's winner is Mike, with that country tear-jerker, "Now My Heart's In Prison."
- Thanks to all who played! You've all done very well!

Monday, November 27, 2006


Hello, Mondayers! And welcome to another breathtaking round of acromania.

You know, there are a lot of bad songs out there. No, you don't understand. Really, really bad songs. I became aware all too sadly of that fact this very weekend while painting, but that's a blog on the horizon, if I can get it written.

So let's talk worst songs in the world. No, you don't have to think of your personal choice, though if you want to include it after your acro, you're more than welcome. However, this week's acrotopic is, "Title of the Worst Song in the World." That is, if you were writing what would become the worst song ever written in the general consensus, what would its title be? You know, make us up a title, like "My Heart Got a Smash in the Face," or "Never Hit Your Grandma With a Great Big Stick."

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 tells me he's available for being the subject of a song, in case anyone's wondering. Then tomorrow at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get a fabulous recording contract to record their song, and the non-winners, who will be selected as groupies for the winners.

So the topic, "Title of the Worst Song in the World." The letters:


So go groove, and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My desk isn't in, and my hands are full of cat scratches.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

All This And Picture Sunday, Too


Headache, headache, headache. About my fourth in the past four days, actually. But enough about me, let's talk about me. Welcome to Picture Sunday - The Transition Edition.

Against LilyG's advice, and believe me, folks, it was gooooood advice, I decided to take on the task of painting the denette over the holiday weekend. I began Wednesday by moving stuff. Now, one must understand when I say "moving stuff" that the denette contains my computer and all its ilk, most of my CDs, about half of my books, and all of my albums. And a TV, and a water cooler, and, well, why exactly did I decide to do this, I kept asking myself. But I did it and there you have it.

It was a very long two-coat process of which I will not speak tonight. Mainly because I don't have the time to speak of it because I'm too busy trying to get my house back into some sort of living order. I'll tell all later, in my new sure-to-be bestseller, "If You Ever Hear Me Say The Word 'Paint' Again And I'm Not Talking About A Tree On Some Canvas, Please Hit Me Square In The Face." Or in a later blog, whichever comes first.

Anyway, I worked from Wednesday night till about 4 yesterday, when I then headed off to hang at Mr M's and proceeded to - sleep from about 8:30 last night till about 1:30 this afternoon. Got home just in time for Church Practice (remember, that's not practicing how to go to church, it's playing of Christmas music), and when I arrived home at 6:30, this is what the Poderosa was looking like.

Here's the kitchen:

Hey, there's my new kitchen table! Too bad you can't see it with everything I own sitting atop it. My old kitchen table would never have withstood the pressure. Here's another of my kitchen:

And that's just the kitchen. How about the living room, I'm sure you're asking.

And I could go on. And on and on. There wasn't a space of floor or couch in the living room available. And look at Mr Peanut, hiding behind all my stuff. Hope the disarray doesn't send him back to the bottle.

But after Church Practice I hopped on it and got moving, and the albums and CDs were put together in a mere hour. Now I just have to do the books and, well, I'm not sure what all else, but I'm running out of steam, and have that fourth headache, and I'm going to have a cup of coffee and see what happens.

Anyway, I'll get it all done in time, and maybe next week will be the unveiling of the New Denette, with fanfares and flourishes and speeches from the mayor. I also ordered a new computer desk today, and boy are computer desks more expensive than I thought. Or else I'm getting cheaper in my old age, which has been pointed out to me recently, very recently, in fact so recently it happened only today when I was whining about how expensive computer desks are.

But now it's time for a very special event and introduction. Mr M is now the proud parent of a new kitty. Yes, the man who promised me faithfully for years he'd get a doggie is now a cat owner. And so I spent the weekend getting acquainted with the little girl, and having her sit on me while I slept. Her name is Alice, and why I don't know, that's such an odd name for a kitty I don't know where to begin, but I've taken to calling her Hellcat, or Hellion for short. This cat is of the devil, I'm convinced. I've been scratched, bitten, and pounced on more than I can recount. Mr M says that's standard kitty behavior, but I'm buying none of it. This cat's evil.

She sure is cute, though, isn't she?

I don't know. I think you can see her innate evilness in the photo. I've got two words for this little one - reform school.

But now, on to the recipe du jour.

Folks, as you can probably guess, I've been very busy this past weekend. But for you, I wanted to set up a recipe du jour. It's not in the form of a card, my computer equipment's too far-flung to even attempt that. But I did make you a picture, and it's rather self explanatory. For the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, I give you Pumpkin Pi.

Quite easy, this one. Just buy a pumpkin pie off the grocery's "The holiday's almost over so let's sell this shit 50% off" rack, bring it home, and start cutting. Still tastes great, and since so much has been cut away, only a fraction of the calories. Say, only 3.14 of the calories?

Sorry, that was bad even for me. It's the headache.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Bad times for Picture Sunday. Blogger's changed the way I have to upload pictures now. This has made me quite unhappy. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

We The Aforementioned Sentence Thee To Be As Hairy As This Herd of Camels Which Will Feed A Village, With Or Without Celebrities

That title makes about as much sense as the following blog will, I fear. But it's a holiday week, and things are slow, or will be until I decide to start upheaving everything in the denette, and so I thought that just like Washington's birthday is the time to have a clearance sale on sheets and towels, Thanksgiving week shall be clearance week for blog ideas.

The big news this week is that I, and think about this because it says more about our judicial system than you could ever want to know, I have been called into service. Jury Duty. I've never done jury duty. I've never wanted to do jury duty, and I sincerely hoped I could scrape through the rest of what passes for my life without ever having to do jury duty. I would rather be punched in the face by Mike Tyson, be beaten with a bicycle chain by the Italian racing team, and have a railroad spike driven through my head by John Henry himself than do jury duty.

I received my first notice of this happy event at the beginning of September. My inaugural letter told me that I could be called into action at any time, just like the National Guard, well, anytime between October 10, 2006 and April 9, 2007. Me being, well, me, the first thing I did (after screaming "Jury duty? Awwww, man! Lord, what did I do to you?") was to start worrying about missing Oktoberfests. After that didn't happen, I stopped worrying. Damn, I should have remembered to worry.

My dates of duty are during the week I had scheduled off for vacation, shopping, and a Hackensaw Boys concert. Ever get the feeling that lady with the sword and the scales is holding you and your side of the scale is way lower than the other?

But it makes no difference, that lady with the sword and the scales (who is blind, remember, and thus easily snuck up on from behind and goosed) wants me, and she's going to get me, because she has the firepower to back it up. And see, here's the thing. This isn't local. This isn't "someone stole my goat and I know it's Zeke because I saw him with goat milk on his lip." This is federal. This is "someone stole my secret documents and I know it's Zeke because he has a Russian flag in his shed."

Which you'd think might be more interesting, and it may be. Who knows. Being from this area, I might dig a stolen goat more. Whatever the case, the real downside to all this, besides the fact that it's already fucked up my vacation, my Hackensaw Boys, my shopping, my last-ever chance to see the nephew march in the band in a Christmas parade, and that it's jury duty, for cryin' out loud, yes, the real downside is that the federal courthouse is 2 hours away from me. And I have to be there at 9:00 in the morning. Sweet Jesus.

At least I get compensated, about 1/4 of what I'd get at work and not really enough to buy my gas down and back and the coffee to keep me awake during the trial. If I get pissed off enough by the whole thing, I'll just vote "innocent." Let Zeke have his secret documents, he's probably just feeding them to the stolen goat.

But on to the Holy Bible.

I've been watching something on DVD for the past couple of days, and may I just say it's one of the odder things I've encountered. And this is for a lot of reasons which I won't go into in case I want to talk about it all on the podcast, but the main reason is that, and I don't know if this was its intended purpose, it's coming off as 2/3 biblical epic and 1/3 Borscht Belt-music hall-burlesque. If you know your old British TV shows, think "Passion of the Christ" meets "Up Pompeii."

It got me to thinking about something, and it wasn't that either the people who made this movie were on LSD or I was. It was something more serious, and that is, "In biblical epics, why doesn't anyone suffer from Male Pattern Baldness?"

Now, think about this before you giggle. Or, you can giggle, but still think. You have two types of men in BEs (biblical epics): bald of the Yul Brynner shaved head variety, or just awash in a sea of hair. Long, flowing, wind-tangled, and often accompanied by long, flowing, and wind-tangled beards. (Or as Eddie Izzard puts it, "Big fuck-off beards.") There's never a "long flowing from the ears down with bald pate," never a "bald on top and a few spiky five o'clock shadow whisps on the sides," and definitely no "hair past the neck used in a combover." I'm going by BEs I've seen, and I'm the first to admit I've not seen them all (though I have read the book, a line my brother-in-law once used that made me laugh out loud), and I'm discounting Passolini's "The Gospel According To St Matthew" because every man in that movie wears such a by-God hat you can't really tell what kind of hair he has or doesn't have. I mean really, if there was an Oscar for hats, it should be nicknamed the St Matthew.

I will leave this subject with an exception, though, the closest I can figure, anyway: Terry Jones as the hermit who breaks his vow of silence in "Life of Brian." And that scene ends with a man asking a healing from Brian because "I am affected by a bald patch." You know, I'm pretty much convinced that "Life of Brian" is the most accurate biblical epic (BE) out there, and that's including the flying saucer scene.

But on to giving animals as Christmas gifts.

Yes, Yuletime (or Yultime, if you're in the Brynner family) must be upon us, because I am in possession of my yearly issue of the Heifer International catalog. You'll recall, if you've been with me for a long time, I actually spent two blogs some years ago talking about this little nugget, wherein we look at the catalog and pick out our gifts, which are all live animals and will be sent to villages around the world. A dozen baby chicks to Tanzania. An ox to the Ukraine. A big, heaping crateful of Guinea pigs to Venezuela. I think the main gist of my blog before, besides the fact that it's just a damn weird catalog, is that most of these cute, fuzzy, baby animals are being sent around the world to be slaughtered, eaten, and worn as coats. And really, to me, nothing says "Merry Christmas" like squeezing the life out of a baby chick.

The 2006 version of this brochure of barbecuing features a new twist. Celebrities! The cover shows that married acting duo Bradley Whitford and Jane Kaczmarek, and a water buffalo. And I don't mean Fred Flintstone in his lodge hat, I mean a real live water buffalo. Susan Sarandon fancies giving the world a llama or two (she's pictured with two, but then again, she's rich), and Ed Asner is snuggling up to a heifer just a little more closely than I personally am comfortable with. Actress Patricia Heaton seems to be a goat person (as is Zeke, but I don't think he got his from Heifer International), and His Majesty of Terror, Stephen King, is pictured with the goats too, but is on the page where they want you buy pigs, which is fitting, because...well, because.

No, wait. Not because King is a pig, I've never met the man. But because for some reason, this time around the catalog seems to be going for the "milk and wool" market instead of the "eat them all up" market. Maybe they read my blog. But the pig is the first animal where it's intimated that you're buying it to actually feed some people, though they don't come out and say that, they say "eats garbage and has lots of piglets," and I guess maybe no one else would endorse such a horrid thing, and so there's Scary Stephen playing with goats on the "eat a pig" page.

Then things get all warm and fuzzy again with Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen endorsing sheep, which of course, are wool-intensive. But then things get icky again when Barbara Bush endorses rabbits, not for fabulous fur coats for the more upscale villagers, but for that Heifer International Euphemism of All Time, "An excellent source of protein." As in, you're eating Peter Cottontail there. Oddly enough, beside Mrs Bush's endorsement is this picture of a mother and son enjoying their rabbit before he becomes an excellent source of protein. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but even without my glasses I don't think this is Barbara and Jeb.

Walter Cronkite wants us to buy chicks, and this time they're not an ESP (excellent source of protein); however, their eggs are. Eggs, eggs, eggs. It's all about the eggs with Heifer International, but you tell me Walter doesn't chow down on a chicken sandwich once in a while. (Chicks are quite inexpensive, btw - $20 for a whole flock.)

Ahhh, bees. Bees are not an ESP, and honey sure does taste good, but no one would be photographed with bees. This is how I know that celebrities are big pampered babies. And please forgive me, but bees make me laugh and I can't get the picture out of my head of a South American village running amok being chased by herds of bees. I'm ashamed, especially with it being around Christmas and all.

Ed Harris and Amy Madigan are posing with a Heifer, too, and though I thought it would be, it's not wearing a beret.

And in the end, the end of the blog and the end of the catalog, here's how the whole Heifer International hierarchy stacks up in 2006. Cows, goats, and bees reign. All they do is laze around making milk and honey, which if you think about it is just right for a BE (biblical epic). Sheep and llamas are next, they just have to get sheared every so often. Chicks are next, giving up eggs, but I'm putting them below cows, goats, and bees because you know when times get tough, someone's going to look at one of those chickens with bloodlust in his eyes. Oxen, water buffalo, donkeys, and camels come in after that. They're work animals. Which, to me, is as bad as sending an animal off to get eaten, taking a perfectly happy large animal and making him break his back in a draft team. Then you've got the sad guys bringing up the rear of the animal caste system. That would be your Guinea pigs, plain pigs, geese, and rabbits. They're edible.

But who am I to be judgemental? This Thursday, will I be sitting down to a feast of eggs, milk, and honey? I think not.

I might try a Guinea pig.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what color do I paint the denette, according the paint people?
- Runner-Up goes to Mike, with his "Cream Of Orange Rind."
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her "Central Ohio Oilfire River."
- Thanks to the two of you - now come help me paint!
* And yes, I tore that picture I used of Barbara and Jeb. Sorry.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The "I'm Alive" Acrochallenge!

Yes, yes, I know. You all thought I was dead, didn't you? Oh, don't lie to me, I know you did.

Well, I'm not, I promise. I mean, if I were, would I be able to type this? Without help? So cheer up, or get depressed, whichever side you linger upon.

I had no pictures yesterday, no recipe made, I'm lazy and uninterested, but that'll come back, I promise. I had company at the Pod on Saturday, the lovely, the vivacious Sara Beth from Sauerkraut Band crashed with me Saturday night, and if that wasn't a picture-taking opportunity I don't know what was, but in truth, until last night around 11pm, I didn't even know where my camera was.

Anyway, I'm here, I'm around, and since I usually put up acro way too late on Mondays, I thought I'd post one a little earlier and see if I get any takers. Now, I know it's a holiday week and most of you are probably traveling, so I'll try not to be too hurt if it's a small acroturnout.

People, I've got the itch again. I've got the itch to redecorate. It's the denette this time, that paneled piece of inner sanctum in which I spend much time at the computer. I detest paneling, always have, and since I moved in five years ago I've been threatening to paint and lose some of the darkness that is this room. The only thing that's kept me from it thus far is the mind-blowing amount of time it will take, seeing as how the computer and desk, all my albums, most of my CDs, and many of my books are stored in this room. I'm afraid I'll just have gotten the room cleared when holiday week will be over and it will be time for me to resume my normal life. But still. Still, I'm thinking of taking it on.

So last night after Church Practice (this would be practice on the local Christmas pageant, not practice on how to go to church, I know how to do that already, though some ministers would disagree), I ambled into the Home Improvement Store to pick out paint chips. And I may be in trouble. Because even after the narrowing-down process, I'm stuck with a whopping ten colors I can't decide between.

You know, I've always giggled at the colors given my nail polish at pedicure time, but paint colors are just about as bad. I'm fully aware that paint comes in an infinite variety of shades and you have to name them all something, but really. Harbor Mist Dusty Turquoise is just a smidge away from Aqua Foam Sea Mist Jadespring and on and on.

So this week's acrotopic shall be, "What Color Should I Paint The Denette, According To The Fancy Names Given By The Paint Companies?" Yes, it's the longest acrotopic yet, and also a chance for you to be at your most creative. Keep in mind that I'm looking at light teal/aqua colors, please. That'll help, I'm sure.

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 Wild Wicker Woody Sepia Lite. He hates that "lite" part, but there's not a thing he can do about it. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get to come and help me paint, and the non-winners, who will get to come and help me paint.

This week's acrotopic - "What Color Should I Paint The Denette, According To The Fancy Names Given By The Paint Companies?" The letters:


Hmmm, one S and it's beer for everyone. So drink, and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* There will be a hucklebug this week, it'll be an outtakes show. No recording tonight. Movie time!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Puff The Magic (*cough, cough*) Dragon

Today is, so they're saying, the 30th anniversary of the Great American Smokeout. That sounds about right.

The Smokeout kind of holds a place in my heart, although not necessarily a good one. The first one I was but a wide-eyed teenager trying to convince my chain-smoking parents to join in the fun and quit for a day. "But it's just one day!" I kept saying over and over till finally my dad, in that tone of voice only dads can have (and otherwise known as The Feeling-Hurting Voice), said, "Why would I quit smoking for one day when I have no intention of stopping smoking?" And my feelings got hurt and I didn't ask again.

Which is not to say that the Great American Smokeout didn't happen again. It did, every year, without my parents but with plenty of other fine folks for the 30 years it's apparently kept going. I just didn't take much of a personal stake in it after I was told off, save for watching with interest when Mary Alice Williams, who was with CNN at the time so you know how long ago that was, sweated out a Smokeout on TV.

However. However, this year I have a little more of a personal stake in the Smokeout. In fact, well, I seem to be right smack-dab in the middle of it.

Because, as most of you know, in the past 24 months or so I seem to have become a smoker. See? Even now I can't admit it. "Seem to have become." Fuck me, I have become a smoker.

But I didn't mean to, really. It just kind of happened. I mean, here I am, a girl who for all but 2 years of her life was virtually smoke-free. OK, just about everybody has those two or three high school cigarettes, and in my late twenties I'd pop open a box of clove cigarettes when I was really, really drunk. But I certainly wasn't a smoker. I certainly didn't do it in public, and not on any kind of regular basis.

And for years, it was my own personal running joke - that my New Year's Resolution for whatever year it was was to start smoking. Well, in 2004, I by-God did it!

Of course, I had no idea I was doing it. Well, maybe not. I don't even know what possessed me to buy a box of clove cigarettes, that delicacy I hadn't indulged in since my twenties. I took one up the mountain with me to Oktoberfest, hoisted a couple of Jagermeisters, lit it up, and let the good times roll.

And it felt good. That sicky-sweet-smelling smoke winding its way through my post-surgery, still healing tummy. It was wonderful. It was like opium.

Now, I gotta tell you, bloggees, I know I have one of the more addictive personalities out there. I know I was still recovering from surgery. I know I was dealing with clove cigarettes, which, according to a tobacconist I spoke to, you're not supposed to inhale. (If in fact you're supposed to inhale any of them.) Anyway, the thing I'm saying here is that I was smart enough to know all this, and I did it anyway. And I knew I'd probably get hooked, and I did.

One cigarette a month became one a week became one a day became one pack a week became two packs a week, and at that point I knew I was in over my head. I did treat myself by going from the ultra-harsh Djarum Black to the not so harsh and much sweeter Djarum Bali Hai, to the "lightest version they make" Djarum Splash. ("It has to be healthy, there's a surfer on the box!") But no matter how I was slicing it, I was smoking.

And listen to me. I'm not apologizing for that. Smoking's a ball. There's nothing I know like the headrush a clove cigarette gives you, especially accompanied by a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. There's nothing like getting tipsy and lighting up. And really - really - there's nothing like sitting at the computer spinning a blog while you're puffing away.

And as my wonderful buddy Stennie can testify, nothing makes a podcast fun like lighting those ciggies up, one after the other after the other. (Weekly ritual before recording - Stennie asks: "Ready? Got your coffee, got your ciggies?")

And so I learned to smoke. And it wasn't so easy. I set myself on fire once while driving, when I lost an ash onto my knit polo shirt and the front of it went up like the beginning of Bonanza. I had to pat my chest until the flame died down, and had a spot on my skin for a couple of weeks. I also have, thanks to my efforts at learning to smoke, a year-old car with no less than three small cigarette burns on the center console of the interior. That's nice. I also have a black spot - not so much a burn as a brand - on the Comfy Chair. And a gray spot on one of my favorite shirts, the blue, yellow, and white striped one, thanks to another bad light-up.

And then once I was a smoker, I was very upset that I, well, smelled. I didn't think I did at first, until people would be in my general vicinity and say to me, "Have you been smoking?" And then I got ultra-hinky over it all and walked around with small bottles of perfume in my bag, and sprayed Febreze all over the house. And the car. And my clothes, and the bedclothes, and that's not to mention that I sprayed furniture polish all over everything, too.

OK. So I was a smoker, and I smelled, and I burned up several things in my possession. And I toyed with the idea of quitting. And after a long, happy, cigarette-filled Halloween podcast, I decided to quit.

A few things contributed to my decision. First, I was tired of everything I owned, including podmobile2 and the Poderosa, smelling like clove cigarettes. For the uninitiated, clove cigarettes have their very own scent, which to me is no better or worse than regular cigarettes, just different, but it sure seemed to linger a lot in my house and car. I just couldn't seem to get out from under it, no matter how much I cleaned, or how wide I opened my windows.

Second, I developed, if you'll recall, the crud back in October, and I just didn't seem to be able to kick it, even with a high-powered antibiotic. And as I was coughing and wheezing and rattling around in my chestal area, I was also smoking clove cigarettes. And thinking, "You know, I don't guess I should be doing this. But damn, I want one with my coffee!"

Third, my friend San's father-in-law, a lifelong smoker, was diagnosed with throat cancer. And God forgive me for saying this, but this was actually more of an afterthought reason. I know smoking is not good for you, if there's anyone out there who hasn't figured that out yet he shouldn't be allowed out by himself. And I know that this man had smoked for 60 years and I've smoked for two. But there's just something about seeing someone you know discover a lump in his throat and then have to go be marked for chemo. And it was somewhere in the back of my head.

But finally, the main reason in this decision was, well, it just wasn't as fun as it used to be. I got to the point where I'd light up a smoke, get about a third into it, and think, "*sigh*" - and someone who isn't such a dolt would take that to mean, "Hey, why don't I light up a smoke, sigh a third of the way in, and stub the damn thing out." But I don't do that. The addictive personality, you see. Open it, eat it. Light it, smoke it.

Because of that last reason there, the first two days were a breeze. I had a lot of energy, and felt really proud of myself. I made it through a drive to B'burg and back. Then I had a Friday Chill Night and a blog, which were a little tougher, another trip to and from B'burg, still OK. (However, I've noticed my blogs have become a lot more boring with no tobacco involved. Sorry.)

And then came the podcast. I took the coward's way out. Smoking? Nope. Drinking! As you can tell in episode 31 of the hucklebug, Auntie Bet had been imbibing quite a bit.

But it was going OK. I was really feeling good about myself. Emotionally, anyway. Physically, since the day I quit, I've felt like someone's beaten me with a bicycle chain. My joints have ached. I've felt fluish. ("That's funny, she doesn't look fluish.") But it's been worth it to have time to clean the house (smoking took up a lot of my time, I'm convinced, because I have a lot more of it now), and more cash in pocket. (I knew I was spending a mint on smoking, but it didn't really hit me full-tilt till I stopped.)

And there it was. One day from two weeks as a non-smoker. And I went back.

I don't know; I just wanted to. I wanted one at lunchtime. I wanted to smoke during the podcast this week. And I did. And though I can't say that I'm without guilt, I enjoyed every puff. And I puffed till the pack was gone, and haven't bought another.

So I was smoke-free yesterday, and I've been smoke-free today, the day of the 30th Great American Smokeout, which my parents would never participate in. But I am. And I have sympathy for the really serious smokers who are doing without today. Their joints probably ache, too.

But you know, I love smokers, I love non-smokers, and right now, I don't know which I am. I can't say that I never want to smoke again, because there are times that I like smoking. Like the podcast. The only problem is that when the podcast is over there's still a half-pack of cigarettes there calling to me. The sirens.

What they need? To sell cigarettes individually, like cigars. Then I could buy three at a time. But that sounds really sad and not unlike an addict on a bargaining binge.

I'm trying, though.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* There is a new hucklebug podcast up, people, just go here or subscribe through iTunes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Give Me Wood

OK, those of you who couldn't contain a snicker at the title of this blog can just get your minds out of the gutter right now. Unless you're a trumpet player in the Sauerkraut Band, in which case I know you can't help yourself, but also if you're a trumpet player in the Sauerkraut Band, odds are that you can't really read and I guess someone is reading this to you. (I love you guys, you know it.)

This is a perfectly clean blog. It's titled as such because wood is the traditional five-year anniversary gift.

And no, I haven't been married five years, or married at all, for that matter. But this Thursday, November 16th, is the five-year anniversary of my being a homeowner. For on November 16th, 2001, the Poderosa became mine, lock, stock, and barrel, well, with a little help from First Century Bank.

I waited a long time to bind myself in the holy bonds of Podownership. Because I'm hinky that way. I was always sure that I'd buy a house, lay down my closing costs, sign on the dotted line, then I'd lose my job, some sneaky snake in the grass would bilk my savings and checking accounts dry, and that house, along with all my other possessions, would be taken from me by Government People, and I'd be forced to live in a refrigerator box on a plot of dirt right outside the landfill.

But all of a sudden, just one day, it seemed, I got the idea that the time was right and I may possibly have been adult enough to own my own home. I started out by thinking "condo." Condos are nice, you own them, but you don't have to do a lot of the work. I like that "not doing a lot of the work" part. Yeah, a condo was for me. Until I started looking at condos in my little burg.

There are really only two sets of condominiums here. One is outrageously expensive, and the other is, well, near-outrageously expensive but one little section of those are cute as bugs' ears, they're made like little bungalows and I'd loved them since they were built. And one of those came up for sale, and I went and had a look.

It's funny how, when faced with the rest of your life and all the money you have and will ever own, bugs' ears aren't really that cute anymore. This little bungalow was no bigger than a small apartment, and while it had a fireplace and a bedroom with a big sliding glass door overlooking some scenery, it also had a kitchen that was so small a person could barely turn around in it, a kitchen with raincoat-yellow formica fixtures in it. And a second bedroom that had "a problem." "Now, this may be a problem," my realtor (I had a realtor, well, I almost had one, the less said about that the better) said when we walked into the room.

"Yep, that may be a problem," I replied when I looked at the floor of that room and saw that a quarter of it had some serious water damage. After I got home I called a client of mine who does work like that, and because he's a very nice man he went and looked at it for free and gave me a run-down of the thousands I'd be spending to have that little problem fixed. It took me not long at all to realize that the bug's ear was going to be someone else's problem.

Then I got two calls from my realtor (well, almost realtor, but the less said etc etc) about two houses for sale in my old neighborhood. One was not the worst house in the world but certainly not the best, full of little boxy rooms and with two neighboring houses practically on top of it, and it was a little steep in the price department. The other was gloriously cheap, in fact so cheap the conversation went like this when I told Mr M & DeepFatFriar the price:

Them: Does it have a roof?
Me: Yes
Them: Is it on the top of the house, or in the yard?

And while it did have a roof, it also had a myriad of problems, not the least of which was the refrigerator blocking the entrance to the kitchen, forcing one to basically, when going in for a snack, go out the front door, walk around the yard to the back door, get the snack, then go back out into the yard to the front door, and while I love my snacks, in the middle of January I imagined this to be a rather dicey proposition. So cheap isn't always good.

Finally, my almost-the-less-said-etc-etc realtor called me back to the condos, to one of the "other kinds" this time. The other kind being the two story row houses in the lower section of Condoland. There was one for sale that a little old lady was moving out of. She was a nice lady, and had a nice condo to boot, but I knew going in that this would be more than I could afford and I was right. About $30,000 more. I fretted over that one. I fretted over it and the fact that I apparently wasn't going to be a homeowner any time soon.

But then as I was going to work one morning, I passed the Poderosa, which wasn't the Poderosa then, it was Mrs Cassell's house, and there was a "For Sale By Owner" sign in the yard. And I was smitten, it was love at first sight, and I called up the Cassells to ask if I could look around. The Pod was me, I knew it, the price was perfect, and I made that scary trip to the bank, where my friend Brenda said the mortgage would sail through without a hitch, so I got going on the whole thing, with nary an almost-realtor-etc-etc in sight.

And Brenda was right, with one slight exception. Four days after I was approved for my loan, a little something called September 11 happened and interest rates suddenly became not what I'd planned, but it still wasn't insurmountable, and it looked like I'd be a homeowner before the end of that year. And I was, surrounded by buddies, Brenda and Louise from the bank, the Cassells, who were clients, the people I knew at the law offices, it was like a big party at the closing.

It's been a storied five years, as most of you who read my blog know. I've had, let's see, ladybugs, bees, spiders, a snake, and Walter the mouse as guests. I've had a traveling magazine salesman come to my front door and proclaim his love for me. I discovered the first week as I was still setting things up that the town's Christmas parade comes right in front of my house, and I've watched it every year from my front porch. Around back, through my kitchen window, I've seen five years worth of ducks float past me in the creek. I hung, thanks to Mr M, my "Poderosa, est. 2001" doorplate on the door where it remains to this day.

I've had neighbors. Shirley, the lovely little lady who was there at the beginning, moved out about two years ago, and was followed by a wonderful succession of folks who included the quiet but unfriendly, the quiet but family members kept changing, the quiet but disappeared in the middle of the night without an explanation, the not quiet, rowdy, squatting, and drug-dealing, and the quiet but still friendly and had a cat who thought he lived at my house. They're all gone now, and the House To The North of me is empty once again, "For Rent" sign waving back and forth in the yard.

And I've never written about this, but within the past six months I've had a scary situation involving other possible neighbors in the House To The North. About 2 ½ years after I moved in, there was a re-zoning, where only two of us on the whole street showed up to speak to the town council to beg them not to re-zone our street and the council all but laughed in our faces, but that was for lots starting one to the south of the Poderosa. That's all basically business anyway. This past summer, the House To The North was in the process of being sold, which would have started another re-zoning battle for all houses on the other side of me, and put me in the position of facing a future where I could be the only residence on my street. A long story indeed, which is why I never wrote about it, but on the very day of the council meeting where I was planning to go and read my impassioned anti-zoning speech, a technicality stopped it all. I hope for a long time, but I have my speech in a very safe place just in case.

In the Poderosa I have the Mantrap, my purple bedroom, where nary a man has been trapped, I'm afraid, the Beast, the spare bedroom which holds more junk than any of you probably even own, the Egg, my yellow and gray kitchen with painted but still not sanded-down cabinets. (Mr M? Where are you, Mr M?) And in this Pod I love, I've had a leaking, carpet-soaking water heater, rain-damaged guttering, raised roof nails (this is an ongoing problem which is currently, well, ongoing), I have a heat pump that likes to unplug itself once every two years (which Jr and his son come to fix and they're both lovely people), I currently have a broken window in my crawlspace (on which I cut the hell out of my hand), and I had to have my crawlspace water pump replaced. I also have a dryer hose that likes to unplug itself (the repairman loves my plastic sandwich on the kitchen table), and thanks to having to replace the bathroom sink very early on, the whole Shower Wall Debacle (ahhh, Ricky Ricardo and your fine sons, I love you all), and a Friday Chill Night of painting, I basically have a brand-new bathroom.

I've been shown the love that is Mowing Boy, who oddly enough I spoke to on the phone today (he's not a boy anymore, he's all grown up), I've grown acquainted with Mowing Dad, and I've tried very hard not to lose my Cool Aunt Status griping over the recent acquisition of Mowing Nephew. San's husband Ziffel (no, he's not a pig, he's a very nice man) pressure-washed my house this summer and got it all clean, Mr M and ESP helped me paint the Egg's cabinets, Mr M painted the Egg's walls all by himself, and my sister helped me paint the rest of the Pod. My new TV came courtesy of Mr M and my wonderful comfy mattress came courtesy of Mom and Dad, who, if they could, would come over every night to stare at me while I sleep on it. Only last night I was gifted with my sister's ultra-nice kitchen table to replace the one I'd had since I moved in, which was limping along with one lame leg. I guess it takes a village to be a homeowner. And I'm grateful.

As I said in that zoning speech I wrote months ago and hope I never have to read, the Poderosa is my home. It's small and it's old, but it's mine. My home. My sacred space.

When events of the world are too much to bear, nothing beats coming home, closing the door, and curling up in the Comfy Chair. Or martinis in the bathtub, surrounded by the new tile. Or even a nap in the Mantrap. After my surgery a couple of years ago, I had to spend about four weeks of recovery time living with my folks again. On that wonderful day when I got to leave, my mom packed me up and brought me back here, where she said goodbye and we both cried. She cried because she couldn't stand to bring me back here. I cried because I couldn't wait to get back here.

So happy anniversary, Pod. It's wood for us this week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what did you get Mr M for his birthday?
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, with her "He didn't ask. What's needed?" (In other words, she didn't get him anything.)
- Runner-Up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Haploid diatonic accordion with nanotubes." (Now, I gotta see that.)
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, who knows the only thing Mr M really wants - "Harps, dirndls, and woodwinds - new!"
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!

Monday, November 13, 2006


Hello, letter people everywhere, and welcome to a special holiday edition of acromania.

And once again, I'm late. I always seem to be late, but I'm really late tonight. So let's get right to it. Tonight we're going to celebrate all that is my buddy Mr M. Because today is Mr M's birthday. And therefore, the acrotopic this week will be, "So, what did you get Mr M for his birthday?"

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. What did the acrobasket get Mr M this year? Well, the same thing as every year - letters. Then at 10pm est tomorrow night I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will receive a piece of Mr M's birthday pumpkin pie, if he hasn't eaten it already, and the non-winners, who'll receive a dirty look if they go near Mr M's birthday pumpkin pie, if he hasn't eaten it already.

The topic, "So, what did you get Mr M for his birthday?" The letters:


Now, blow out the candles and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Got the sad feeling tonight that podcasts and pedicures on the same night are going to cause conflict in my life. However, for you Thursday hucklebug listeners, I'll be talking with fabulously painted toes.

Friday, November 10, 2006


Lord have mercy, the life I lead.

I now have three, in three rooms, high-pitched plug-in electronic thingies apparently sounding the "so high you can't hear it" charge to keep Walter the Mouse and his ilk out of my house. Since I plugged these devices into my walls, I've seen, each night, Walter scurrying from under my refrigerator to under my stove, from the back of my stove around the corner into the dennette, and I once heard him rustling in the wastebaket in my bedroom.

However, I haven't seen a single tarantula since I plugged these things in.

Anyway, I really don't hate Walter, in fact, I almost feel sorry for the little guy, and that's why I decided not to internally combust him with rat poison or snap his neck in an old-fashioned rat trap. But God help me, I just can't be happy living with rodentia running around my Poderosa. And though I know there is probably no malice in his little rat head, every time I see him pitty-patting through the kitchen it's just a little bit like he's rubbing his existence in my face.

And so last night I got a little more tenacious. I got out one of my "Nobel Prize for Humanitarianism" no-kill mouse traps and decided to give it a go. And realized very quickly that humanitarianism is probably the only area in which I might win the Nobel Prize.

This trap was a little like, and by that I of course mean exactly like, a Greek Math Pyramid Puzzle. It was a box with a slide-open top, only the top wasn't so easily slid, and the instructions printed in raised lettering on the bottom of the box, in real letters but "braille" was all I could think of because the letters weren't painted or anything, they were the same green plastic that the box was, so you basically had to feel them to get the instructions. There was a silver plank and a silver "door" that closed but not all the way, and, well, this thing was just was just not.

It was not what I'd call a mouse trap.

The raised lettering on the bottom of the box told me to put some bait (they recommended peanut butter) in the bait trough, which meant little to me because they didn't tell me where the fucking bait trough was, but there was a little dip in one corner of the box and I dropped a morsel of Jif in it. ("Choosy mice choose Jif!") And I slid the top back over the bottom, and when I did that the little door that was supposed to go against the wall, well, I realized it wasn't so much a door as a hallway, because it was a straight shot out to the other side of the box with nary a turn sign into the trap.

I swear to you, folks, this was like a prison break, and when I say prison break I mean like Walter breaking into prison, the logistics of this mouse trap.

But I did it anyway, because I was desperate. I want to clean my kitchen, and I never want to be awakened by rustling paper in my wastebasket again.

About a half-hour after I set the whole mousetrap game up (you know, maybe I should have done that - bought the game Mousetrap and let it fly), who should come scurrying from behind my stove but Walter. Who took one look at the dark green plastic box, stood as if to say, "Well!" and promptly turned back around and scurried behind the stove. Yeah, this was going real good.

I went about living a normal life, doing some laundry, bathing, and watching some television, and every time I'd go into the kitchen to get a drink or a snack, I'd turn on the light and kick at the plastic box. Nothin'.

I got up at 5:30 this morning to get something to drink, and before I ambled back off to bed I kicked at the box. Nothin'. I turned on the light for a better look. Nothin'. Apparently Walter's tuition at Junior Mouse College was money well spent, or my cash at the Home Improvement Store was money badly spent.

I looked this morning when I got up to start getting ready for work. Nothin'. I got my little flashlight and looked through the dark green plastic of the box. Nothin'. And I said, "Well, this is about the dumbest four bucks I've ever spent," and as I did I picked the box up and turned it over.

And there inside was Walter.

I got so skeeved out that I actually shrieked and dropped the box, but thankfully that little silver door that wouldn't close all the way closed enough, and Walter stayed inside. I started pacing around the kitchen a little like Prissy in "Gone With the Wind," wringing my hands and crying, "What am I gonna do, what am I gonna do?" but I gathered myself back up rather nicely, I thought, which was especially good since I didn't have anyone there to slap my face but Walter, and he was locked in the box.

I got my coffee ready, took it, my handbag, and my keys out to podmobile2, and started the car and had it running. Then I picked up a plastic grocery bag, set the dark green box holding a seriously lethargic-looking Walter inside it, and headed out to the car. I don't know why I figured this would all go so much easier if I already had my car running in the driveway, like a getaway vehicle. I think it was because there was a point in the proceedings where I actually started to worry about Walter. He wasn't thrashing around like I was expecting he'd be. He was just lolling around in that box. And so I became an ER paramedic - "We've got to get him out of here now! Clear!"

Anyway, I loaded the Waltered plastic bagged plastic box into the floor of the car and headed south. And I gotta tell you, my friends, I came an ace of unloading Walter at the local Hardee's. I figured, "Hey, he'd be happy there, and Mr M would love that I ratted up a Hardee's," but I couldn't do it, for no other reason than the Hardee's was too close to my house. And mice might have memories.

So I went to an abandoned grocery store on the outskirts of town and pulled into the parking lot. The parking lot turns into a nice grassy area, on the other side of which is an office building owned by the creature who opposed me in the town re-zoning debacle some years ago, and so I figured that was the perfect place to let Walter begin his new life. I took the plastic box out of the bag, carefully slid the top open, and - basically all hell broke loose.

Walter hopped out like he'd been shot out of a cannon, but he didn't go into the grass like I was wanting. He headed out into the empty parking lot and towards my car - which had an open passenger side door from where I'd taken Walter out in the first place. I decided then and there that if Walter hopped back into my car I was immediately driving it to the nearest dealership and trading it in for something else, but Walter missed the door and kept running through the parking lot like a mouse possessed. He was still doing it as I drove off.

So long, Walter. I hope you left no friends or relatives behind. I still have one more live plastic box mouse trap, so if you did I'll be ready. And I'm making an outright confession to you all right here and now. If I have to go through this again, I don't think I'm letting Mr Mouse out of the box. I'm throwing it in a dumpster somewhere, and he'll either starve or suffocate or die of boredom.

And I'll give back my Nobel Prize for Humanitarianism.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fuck Off. Please. Please, Just Fuck Off.

You know, we have a little thing, this would be Stennie and myself, we have this little thing we do on the hucklebug podcast every week. It's called "Fuck Offs." And oddly enough, and I know this is hard to believe, but it's a little section of our show where we take a few minutes to tell certain folks in the public eye that they can just fuck right off out of our lives. Of course, George Bush is on the Fuck Off list every week, then it meanders from celebrities to schmucks in the news to people in the general population who may have pissed us off.

We recorded, owing to Stennie's business trip, this week's podcast on Sunday. And I'll swear, when it came time to do Fuck Offs, I was stumped. I'm not even sure I got to fire a single Fuck Off this week. I guess things were pretty good in Betland Sunday night.

But how a few days can change things. Especially if contained in those few days is an election. And so, without further ado, my updated (from Sunday night) Fuck Off list.

I guess it would go against tradition if I didn't tell George Bush to fuck off. So fuck off, George, you numbskull. Go have a vacation in Texas and hang out with your Scottie dog who you love being photographed with but what you don't realize is just how much that dog hates your guts and wishes someone else owned him. Fuck off.

If you at home are running for an elected office this year, you can fuck off. Moreover, if you are running for an elected office this year and indulged in the practice of an ugly, mud-slinging TV ad, you can just fuck right off. I don't care if the other guy came out with his first, you shouldn't have lowered yourself to his level. You should have just made an ad saying, "Did you see what that asshole said about me in his ad? He can just fuck off!" And finally, if you are running for Senate in the state of Virginia, you can just fuck right off away from me forever. We have a slimy Republican Bush yes-man running against a Democrat - who's a Republican! I'm not kidding, he was in the Reagan administration. They both also indulged in the ugly ads, bringing pornography and hidden Jewish relatives into the mix. They can both fuck off, and for that matter so can the poor woman who ran from the Green party, simply because with those two losers duking it out, the only way she couldn't get the general public onto her side? Who knows. Either laziness or she's one dislikable creature.

If you are a political action committee, please fuck off and die right away. No, you don't understand. Right now, by your own hand, chop off your own head, hang yourself, or, here, I have some rat poison. You're the guys who come out with the really ugly commercials, the ones that tell outright lies, and I'm talking both parties here so no one gets out unscathed, and we all know they're your commercials because the candidate won't even come on with a voiceover saying he endorses your ads. Even though we know he does, so he can just fuck off one more time.

If you are a local news feed and you come on during a network show for election results, and the first thing out of your announcer's mouth is, "We have no precincts reported yet," and you still spend fifteen minutes interrupting my TV just telling me that you have no results but here's who's running in all the races, you can fuck right off and go the hell away from me. Why do you exist? We either already know who's running, because we just voted for one of them, or we don't, in which case we don't give a shit because we didn't vote at all. Stay off the air.

If you are a national news program and you report on an election race where someone is winning by 50,000 and 11% of votes and you say, "We know she's leading at the moment, but we can feel safe in projecting him as the winner," you can just fuck right off away from me and die. What the hell? You know, it's bad enough that you project anyone the winner before 99% of the precincts are counted, but projecting the loser as the winner? You tell me the fix isn't in on that election.

If you are Britney Spears and/or Kevin Federline, you can fuck right off away from me forever and die and please spend the rest of your post-death years in obscurity. For the good of all mankind, please, think of humanity and just fuck off. Please.

If you favor amending the constitution of your state or our nation to outlaw same sex union-starting, abortion-getting, stem cell research-benefitting, or any number of other socio-religious goodies, please fuck right off away from me right out of my sight and go die far away from my person. These are, as we all know, "personal choice" issues, and what in the fucking hell gives you the right to decide what kids I want or don't want to have, who I want to marry, or if I want someone's brain stem to cure Parkinson's disease. I don't tell you you have to marry a person of the same sex, do I? Do I? Fuck off away from me.

If you work the graphics for national news election night coverage and have gone with the old standby of donkeys and elephants in red and blue and fingers pushing buttons and White Houses and Capitol Buildings and American Flags, you can just fuck right off away from me and go die alone and, well, actually that's a little harsh. You can fuck off, because you used the same old hackneyed thing everyone has used for years and have given me a headache in the process, but I'd rather you just go fuck off, have a beer, and think about what you've done, rather than fuck off and die. You're a working stiff like me. And you probably need a beer. So do I, come to think of it.

And finally, as often happens at the old hucklebug podcast, a lonely "You Rule" in the Fuck Offs.

If you were the woman standing outside the middle school where I cast my votes today, standing there in the rain with the wind blowing off your plastic bonnet and most of everything else you were wearing, and you were the only person with the gumption to stand outside, and you said to me, "Thanks for coming out in the bad weather to vote. And we'd like you to vote the Democratic ticket, but we know that at 6pm you've already decided which way you're voting, and we'd just like to thank you for coming out," you totally rule and you made all of the above tolerable.

Well, almost.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, tell the world about my humanitarianism.
- Honorable Mention goes to the newly-engaged Flipsycab, with her "Is purdy nice, dontcha think?"
- Runner-Up goes to DeepFatFriar (who was remembering the ladybugs), with his "I put none down toilet."
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her "Inside Podland, no deaf tarantulas." You, my dear, have come up with an instant classic. Kudos to you.

Monday, November 06, 2006


Hello, letterites! And welcome to another round of acromania.

Well, I went to the Home Improvement Store after work today and came back home with some more plug-in high-pitched electronic things and some "we won't kill the poor souls" mouse traps. I'm a regular Albert Schweitzer. (Unlike Rob Petrie.) We'll see what happens. I mean, if these no-kill mousetraps actually work, what am I going to do with a live mouse in a trap? I'll have to take him somewhere and let him out - I can just see that happening. The fling from the trap along with my high-pitched squeal will probably kill the poor fellow.

Anyway, since I'm such a kind and lovely person, this week's acrotopic shall be, "Bet - Humanitarian." Yes, wax poetic about the wonders of me, I know you're dying to.

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. I once saved the acrobasket's life. At much personal expense to myself, of course. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est, I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get an autographed picture of myself, with halo, and the non-winners, who will get, well, the same. Because I'm just that kind.

The topic, "Bet - Humanitarian." The letters:


Now, please, I beseech you. Acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The high-pitched anti-Walter electronic devices? Warning on the package: Caution - may be harmful to pet tarantulas. I swear to you it says that.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Welcome to a glorious round of "No More Oktoberfest" Picture Sunday.

Spent Friday having a good old-fashioned chill (coffee and movies), then went to B'burg last night and hung with Mr M. And spent today playing clarinet trios with our new friend Daniel, from Germany. (This is the same Daniel who visited with the Sauerkraut Band up on the mountain, and he sure is a nice fellow and game for about anything, because anyone who can hang with the Sauerkraut Band and Mr M and me playing clarinets is a pretty brave sort.)

However, I've had other pressing matters this weekend. This is, of course, The Mouse Problem. I've now abandoned the idea of rat poison. This is after Mr M went into vivid detail as to what happens in mouse's tummy after mouse ingests poison, and was I not the cruelest person on earth to even entertain the thought of doing that to mouse. I had no idea this would even happen, I thought poison was more humane than being crushed beyond oblivion in a trap, but now I'm thinking a trap may be the way to go. (And Liane's comment on the last blog bears this out, I believe.) That is, if the plug-in high-pitched "keep out of my house, mouse" electronic thing Mr M gave me to try doesn't work.

Anyway, I had a word with Peabody about all this, and he got his crack team of lawyers on the case. They worked up a little dossier on my mouse.

Seems the little fellow's name is Walter. He hails from the second tree along by the creek in my backyard, and learned about my house from his cousin Edwin, who spent last winter at Mr M's house in B'burg.

Walter is single, completed Junior Mouse College (Social Studies), and voted Democratic in the last election. He enjoys saltine crackers, jazz, hiking, and hanging in the pots and pans. He's a fan of Kurt Vonnegut and Sam Peckinpah.

He's also gotten wind of the fact that I'm ix-naying the oison-pay. Well, one can only assume by the set-up in the kitchen.

Doesn't look good, does it?

Well, I hate to do it, but I'm putting out an APB for Walter. I don't want him dead, or alive for that matter, I just want him out.

Oh, well. Maybe the electronic high-pitched thingie will keep him at bay.

And now, it's time for another recipe du jour. And boy, am I glad to introduce this week's recipe. Because someone else (besides our first guest cook Mr M) has come forward and jumped right into the recipe fray.

Our very own LilyG and her friend Karen were doing some amazing baking last week (really, folks, I saw the pictures - I can attest to it), and came up with this little goodie. Election Day is this week, you know. And what better way to celebrate the democratic process than to chow down on this item from the "Political Snacks" file in cardland, the W-Cake.

Oh, my. Now this is something. No instructions on the making of this little goodie, but I'm supposing all it takes is a cupcake recipe and a lot of talent and imagination. When you sit him on a plate does he lean to the right? Is the brain area of the cupcake actually mushy oatmeal? Who knows. All I know is that I hate George Bush, but this is one cute cupcake, and I certainly thank LilyG and Karen for sharing him with us all.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My left leg is not happy. I'm not sure if it's sore or numb. And I know that sounds weird, but it's true.

Friday, November 03, 2006


I've been spending a little quality house time this week.

Oktoberfest, and especially Oktoberfest while also living a normal life, quickly becomes a whirlwind of loading cars and hitting the road. Which of course usually leads to hitting the road again, with one's driveway as the destination, and unloading cars. Lots of car loading and unloading in my life.

Anyway, somewhere around the middle of the whole Oktoberfest thing, I'll stand in my living room with arms akimbo, pat my foot a few times, and marvel at just how absolutely fucking filthy my house has become. In fact, it generally takes on the same phrase every time. "God, I just live in squalor."

And it baffles me. How can someone who's never home have such a messy house? It's not logical. But I guess the coming home, car loading, taking off, coming home, car unloading, picking up new stuff, car loading, taking off again, will generally result in big piles of stuff, and then there's the laundry which never gets done during all this, and the vacuuming, and the dusting, and the on and on till you don't want to hear about it anymore.

So now that Oktoberfest is kaput for another year, I'm trying to take care of that.

The bedroom (which you've all lovingly, well, actually jokingly, but that's OK, nicknamed The Mantrap) came first, earlier in the week, and I cleaned it to within an inch of its life on Tuesday. And last night I had a lot of nervous energy and nothing to do with it, so I had at the rest.

I started in the living room, then moved to the kitchen, the dennette (which was the worst and I even spent a goodly portion of time wall-polishing), then the bathroom, and finally to the spare bedroom, also lovingly nicknamed The Beast, as it holds all those things I have no other place for.

When it was all done, about 10:30pm, The Poderosa looked nice. It smelled nice. It just felt nice. My mom would be proud of me, I decided.

Then I made a cup of coffee and sat down at the computer for a little chat with the poundsqueeze gang.

And as I was sitting there, what should I find myself looking eye to eye with, there on the step leading to my dennette, but a mouse.

A mouse!

Now, those of you who've stuck around here long enough to read me from the beginning know about my storied past here at The Pod. I had the influx of ladybugs, who finally came back this fall after they were chased away by the influx of bees a few summers ago. Every summer and fall I have an influx of spiders, who just love hanging around the doors and windows of my house, frightening me and anyone who might want to knock on the door. (Maybe that isn't such a bad thing.) Then there was the summer I had the influx of snakes. OK, so it was just the one, so I guess it was an influx of snake. That's Mr Snake to you. ("They call me Mister Snake!")

To be honest, I'd kind of wondered when it would happen. I knew it had to sooner or later. I have a backyard which leads to a creek which leads to a wilderness-covered hill. What, was I supposed to believe no mice frolicked around back there?

But still, I guess one is never quite prepared for the shock of seeing a mouse standing there staring one in the face. And then taking off at the speed of light to places one cannot reach with hand, foot, shoe, yardstick, extra-long pencil, coat hanger, or, to be honest, places you'd just as soon not stick your face to yell, "Get out of my house!" Not that I figure a mouse would listen anyway.

I'm very proud of the fact that I did not stand on a chair and shout "eek." I guess women only do that on TV. Also, I've seen my share of the little fuzzy guys at Mr M's, and so I'm relatively used to the sight of them. I was just hoping I could keep seeing them at Mr M's instead of somewhere a little closer to my own living quarters.

And so now my sparkling, shiny, good-smelling house just doesn't feel so clean anymore. Especially the kitchen, which I want to get re-cleaning on immediately. However, there's not much use in doing that while I still have a mouse in my abode, right? Therefore, I have to start planning the mouse's untimely demise. And I just don't know if I can do that.

I've been offered a cat by Stennie, but since said cat lives in Burbank, I'm not sure that's going to work. My sister has offered me her dog, Chippie, who apparently loves to chase mice, but since this is the same dog that loves to pee on me and everything in my general vicinity, I'm not so sure I want him in the house. It's like trading roaches for termites, if you get my drift.

I just cannot fathom the thought of a mousetrap because I couldn't deal with the post-trap fellow in there with his neck broken, or worse, in there with his neck almost broken, squirming for dear life.

I was thinking of sending him a "Cease and Desist" order, but I don't know how well mice read.

So I guess it's poison. Yee-ha. Good old rat poison.

Sorry in advance, little guy. It's not that I don't respect you. I mean, you were even kind of playing with me last night, darting here, darting there, stopping just long enough for me to gasp at your sight. It's just that your kind are dirty little disease-ridden creatures, however nice you may be. Nothing personal, just chain-of-life stuff.

But really, if you'd just go out an open door this would be so much easier on all of us.