Friday, December 29, 2006

Thanks For Nothin', Guys

There's a new meme, no not the one I wasted my time on last night but a brand new one, floating around. It shall be discussed below. But first of all, I have an admonishment for you all, dear readers.

Thanks a fuckin' lot for not coming to my funeral.

You all knew about it, didn't you? I know most of you did, save for one or two.

See, it all started with the 3d Great CD Mix Exchange, which had a track listing, "Song you'd like played at your funeral." I thought and thought, came up with a short list of three songs, and finally decided the right one. Which was "Blackbird," by the Beatles. I said it would be just fine, though I did stress that I'd prefer it without the sound effects, that annoying bird chirping along in the background.

Well, not a scant week after the CDs went out in the mail, Mike, Man of Mystery, Movies, and Music, Mike the Blogless, in a grand gesture of generosity, volunteered to play the song for me at my funeral. And in the spirit of brotherhood, or maybe it was just a desire to see me gone, Stennie volunteered to sing along.

There was a problem, though. Mike was only free on Wednesday, the 27th. I had six days to, well, to kick off.

Mike suggested I go in the style he'd always hoped I'd go in, drinking myself to death. That's quite the herculean task in six days, even for me, even at the holidays. I was thinking of hanging myself, if I could find a strong enough-grade rope, I even had the chair I was going to stand on, my red plastic clarinet-practicing chair. (The chair doesn't practice the clarinet, btw - I sit in it when I practice.) However, I have plain old ceilings with nary a beam in sight, and so hanging was right out.

Sure, I could always cut myself while washing dishes, but that would be messy for whoever found me, and drowning in the bathtub sure sounded nice, but I've always heard that drowning bloats a person, and I've spent all this time losing weight and all, so that just didn't seem quite fair. I was sure I was a goner on Friday the 22d, and would have been happy to hang around dead while Mike made his travel plans, but thankfully the bridge I was stuck on for over 2 hours didn't decide to take a powder. It lead to a river, and I don't know that I'd have ever been found. Dying of a broken heart sounds oh-so poetic, but I figure if I haven't done that by now I never will, and so I gave up on that rather quickly.

And so it came to me Saturday morning while I was trying to straighten up the Pod a bit, and was cleaning off my kitchen table. Back during her knee surgery, just for kicks and because it was such a thoughtful thing to do, my friend and workmate San gave me a handful of her percocet tablets. Drug overdose! You just can't beat a drug overdose, it promotes one to the realms of lore, makes people gnash their teeth and rend their garments and scream, "Why?" So I waited till Monday night, wrote out a few plans, hiked all the percocets down with a bottle of vodka, chased it with some kitchen floor cleaner and dill pickle juice just to be safe, and went and lay, arms crossed over my chest, in the Mantrap.

And wouldn't you just know it. It didn't seem to work, and I woke up on Tuesday. I didn't tell anyone, though. I figured, hey! What's the best kind of funeral? The one you're alive to witness! And so I decided I'd let those plans go ahead as scheduled, would crouch down behind a pillar holding several tasteful but large flower arrangements (with cards of sympathy such as, "Good riddance!" and "We thought it would never happen!"), and watch my own send off. I'd even toyed with the thought of popping out from behind the flowers just as the final prayer was hallelujahed, if only to see who really looked happy to see me and who seemed just a tad disappointed.

But again, wouldn't you just know it, because it is sooooo like him, Mike decided not to show. And since all of those written-out plans were based around him and his guitar, and that special red velvet roped-off area for all of you bastards, my funeral was scrapped. My folks just had my plain pine box planted out by the landfill, and now that they know I'm not in it and still around, they want their money back for the box and the plot, and frankly, I don't have it to give.

Turns out Mike didn't realize he was going to have to foot his own bill for traveling east, and didn't think it was worth the dough, or the effort of calling airports and hotels.

And so you all ruined my funeral. I don't know what TV shows you were sitting at home watching, but I'll bet you anything they couldn't beat a reading of some of my best blogs (I was hoping to get my friend Seth, he of the powerful voice, to do this), a mourner's sing-along (with cue cards - follow the bouncing carnation!) of "Trouble," from "The Music Man," a medley of Hackensaw Boys songs played on the bagpipes, a buffet featuring crab rangoons and hard liquor, a march-around to German music played by the Sauerkraut Band, a "death acrochallenge" with prizes, a reel of film clips from Alan Arkin movies, and in what surely would have brought a tear to every human assembled, Mr M playing his part alone on our favorite clarinet duet, "Roberto El Diablo," or as I call it, "Robert The Devil Goes To The Swiss Alps On His Summer Vacation."

You could have had it all. But no, you stayed away. And there's a pine box out by the landfill instead. I'm so embarrassed, I could just crawl in it.

OK, though, the silliness over with, here's that meme I mentioned above. It's the Celebrity Dead Pool Meme. Here are the rules:

1. Pick ten celebrities who you think will die from 1/1/07 to 1/1/08
2. You aren’t allowed to murder the celebrity.
2.5 Saddam Hussein doesn’t count.
3. The point system works like this: you get one point for every year UNDER the age of 90 that the celebrity dies at. Anyone over 90 gets negative points.
4. Whoever gets the most points, wins.

Sounds like a winner to me. Here are my 2007 projections:

1. Joan Fontaine (I only found out this week she was still alive)
2. Dick Cheney (Just a hunch)
3. Fidel Castro (More than a hunch, and probably betting on an odds-on favorite)
4. Ingmar Bergman (I don't know, though, those Swedes are pretty hearty)
5. Pete Doherty (that British hoo-hah who's supposed to be a singer but is famous for being arrested for drug possession; but then again, look at Keith Richards. If you dare.)
6. Christopher Lee (I don't know; he just keeps coming to me)
7. Dean Smith (UNC Basketball coach)
8. Farrah Fawcett
9. BB King (Lucille will survive him)
10. 50 Cent

Now, let me issue my disclaimer. These are my psychic predictions, and remember, my brain is broken, people. I'm not "pulling" for them in an effort for enough points to win. I'm just playing like everyone else, OK?

And yes, I'm ashamed, but if not for this I'd be ashamed about something else.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* In case you didn't realize, there's a mini, teeny version of the hucklebug up. It's a small outtake from last episode. Head to the hucklebug to listen!
* It's Friday. You needed an update to tell you that?

A Meme! A Meme!

OK, I haven't done one of these in a good while. But when I saw it on Stennie's page today, it was too good to pass up:

If your life was a movie, what would the soundtrack be?

So, here’s how it works:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, etc).
2. Put it on shuffle.
3. Press Play.
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing.
5. When you go to a new question, press the Next button.
6. Don’t lie and try to pretend you’re cool.
7. Don’t skip songs.

(1) Opening credits: "American Patrol," Frederick Fennell conducts the Eastman Winds (A nice opening credits song, but stamps "nerd" on my forehead right from the get-go.)
(2) Waking up: "Excitable Boy," Warren Zevon (Well, I don't know about excitable at 7:30am, but I am thinking about rubbing pot roast on my chest later in the day.)
(3) First day at school: "You Told Me," the Monkees (Yes, you told me to keep my desk clean, and I didn't, and you spanked me. Bitch.)
(4) Fight song: "Big Decision," That Petrol Emotion (To fight or not to fight, that is the question. Or guns or knives, that is the question. Actually, this song is very me. The chorus? "You'd rather sail the ocean/than make a big decision.")
(5) Breaking up: "Jeans On," David Dundas (See, this has nothing to do with breaking up whatsoever, except maybe that my jeans are on instead of off, where they might have been had we not broken up.)
(6) Happiness: "New Amsterdam," Elvis Costello (with a sore throat) (Well, the song's not much about happiness, but since this is the live version and Elv's throat is just about gone in it, maybe he's been screaming his undying love for me.)
(7) Life’s okay: "Coon In The Hickory Tree," the Delmore Brothers (Well, I guess life is OK around here if you've got a big fat coon in a hickory tree. Not much fun for the coon, but there you go. It's my meme, not his.)
(8) Mental breakdown: "I'm Just A Bill," from Schoolhouse Rock (Yes, then there was that time I went over the edge, thought I was a piece of paper, and frantically memorized how a bill becomes a law in all its gory detail. Anyway, how nice to hear cool ol' Jack Shelton again.)
(9) Driving: "Cemetery Gates," the Smiths (Now, if this isn't a harbinger of doom, I don't know what is. I guess I'm driving over a bridge.)
(10) Flashback: "Up Around The Bend," Creedence Clearwater Revival (I flashed back to K and T's back yard, actually, which is where I first heard this song on the radio.)
(11) Getting back together: "Particle Man," They Might Be Giants (Yes, I got back together with a science nerd. It was not to last, though.)
(12) Wedding: "I've Just Seen A Face," the Beatles (I've just seen a face? I'm marrying a stranger! Wonder if I'm in Vegas, drunk as a lord?)
(13) Birth of a child: "The Room Nobody Lives In," Elvis Costello (God, this is so depressing and bizarre I don't know where to start. Actually, to be honest, the first thing that played for this was a wav of Monty Python - Eric Idle saying, "Dung!" which is about as depressing and bizarre.)
(14) Final battle: "Satan's Jeweled Crown," Emmylou Harris & the Seldom Scene (Finally. A song that fits. God and the devil fighting for my immortal soul. Go, God, go!)
(15) Death scene: "Irish Medley," the Pogues (This is a medley of "The Recruiting Sergeant" and "The Galway Races." So I guess I go to the army and get trampled to death by a bunch of race horses. That should pick up the movie.) (Oh, more honesty - the first thing played was a wav of Eddie Izzard imitating an old push-me-pull-you vacuum. "Hoddeddda.")
(16) Funeral song: "If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God," the Pogues (So much for iTunes randomness. But this song rocks, and I should have thought of it for my funeral song on the mix exchange. Let me go, boys, let me go, boys!)
(17) End credits: "The Dressing Song," Michael Feinstein (And it's all happiness and clothes as my movie draws to an end. Leave 'em happy, I say!)

Well, that was about the most useless exercise I can remember ever doing. I guess this works a lot better if you cheat. Kellie? iTunes randomness? Care to explain it all to me again?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The tree is down and put away, but the living room is still a mess. No reason to clean when the phone man is coming back, right? Right??

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Twas The Day After Christmas, or Everything's Broken

Hello, and I hope you all had a merry holiday.

Let's go back aways, though.

As you all know, or should, I've been suffering the "broken" syndrome around Betland. I have a blog with broken archive links and the inability to accept comments. I've now had that for over two weeks. And I must admit to you, with the Christmas rush and all, I haven't been working very dilligently on correcting this. I was going to, I was going to post some more messages on that ol' google troubleshooting page, because I got quite a shock last week when I was informed by my dad, well, by way of a hint, "Boy, all I hope is that I get some more of your blogs for Christmas." And that sent a panic through me because I knew that meant recording new stuff and re-recording old stuff and taking out all the "fuck"s, and that with no archives, that would be an impossibility. I told this to Dad, said my archives were broken and his chances of getting recorded material from me were trim at the moment.

However, fortune, in the way of my net maven Stennie, smiled upon me, and she showed me a way to go in through the back door (so to speak) to where I could gain access to my archives, even though you can't push a link button and get them yourselves. So that problem was solved, and with it being the holidays I figured no one would be commenting anyway, and so I never did post those messages to the troubleshooting page. But they're still broken, and I know I have to try and do something about that.

I also realized last week, when driving to Winston-Salem (over the Pee Dee River) and to B'burg the next day, that something else seemed to be broken. The "logical thought" section of my brain. The "illogical thought" section still works very nicely, thanks.

This is because in my trips to these two towns, well, I didn't seem to be doing very well. Although I can't say I'm overly familiar with all the ins and outs of Winston-Salem, I know how to get there, take all the right turnoffs to get to the mall and other places I like to go, and I generally have a fine old time. Well, I used to, anyway.

This time around, I got lost no fewer than six, yes, count them, I know you won't, times on my little foray south. If there was a wrong turn, I took it. If there was an exit, I missed it. I ended up in "Old Salem," in the smack flat-ass downtown section, in the left lane when I was supposed to be in the right, and everything else you can imagine. It was a complete embarrassment, and I'm glad I was alone. In fact, after my whole lack of success in shopping there, I'd had plans to head right from Winston to B'burg to see if I could do any better, but I got lost so many times that all the stores would have been closed by the time I got there. So I just came on home, or at least headed that way hoping somehow I'd find it, and decided to take another day of my vacation traveling to B'burg to finish up the shopping.

The next day I headed east, and knew the first stop I had to make was in downtown B'burg, to pick up something my sister wanted me to get for her to give to her husband. She told me exactly which shop, what the item was, where it was in the store, and how much it cost. I made that my first mission and first stop, and found a parking spot and headed to the store.

I walked in and went to the spot. The item wasn't there. I looked and browsed, and couldn't find this item anywhere. Finally I went to the "last resort," and asked an employee about the item, and she - lead me back to the original spot, where the items were all stacked neatly where they were supposed to be. "Yes, they're right here," she said, cheerfully. "Now, did you need orange or maroon?"


"Oh, gosh. I don't know. Orange? Maybe orange. I think. Orange. No, wait." And then, for the first time in weeks, my brain actually decided to turn itself on, and I had something of an epiphany. "Oh, wait! I still have the note she wrote for me in my car. Hang on, let me go get it, I promise I'll be right back." And so I walked back to my car, found the note in and amongst an abandoned potato chip bag and 27 CDs, and read it. "Maroon," it said. And so I went back and picked up the item, along with a few Hokie stocking stuffers, and was on my way again.

(By the way, it was a good thing I'd kept that note, because I couldn't have called my sister on my broken cell phone.)

So, that task completed, I headed out to my next stop. It was a very specific store, where I needed something for my dad. I'd looked on the internet to make sure there was one of these stores in the area, and there was, and it even gave me the address. Market Street. That was vaguely familiar, it was in C'burg, the next town over from B'burg, and it's a rather small town, and so I knew I'd have no problems.

And so I headed over to C'burg, and spent the next hour and 45 minutes driving every street in the town, multiple times, looking for Market St. I was in the town, out of the town, past the town on Route 8 into the country, past it the other way on I-81 into the next city.

While I was traversing Depot St for about the 24th time, it hit me, and all I could do was giggle. "My God. I am just a fool in a car," I said to myself, glad again I was alone, because all of a sudden it had come to me that not only did I know where Market St was, but that I also knew exactly where this store was. I could see it right in my head. Turns out Market St is in the huge section of the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway where the mall and all the big shopping is. I never even considered this possibility, because for some weird reason, I still consider that B'burg and not C'burg. To me, C'burg is the little downtown area and nothing else.

So I headed back, found the store, purchased the item, and was on my way.

I did some good shopping, and came home with only two presents left to buy. And I had one day of my vacation left.

Now, I knew what I wanted one of these presents to be. A very specific pair of shoes my mom likes, and I'd looked all over the place for the style and size for her, with no luck. The other present, well, it was for my sister, and I was stumped for an idea save for one thing. Another pair of shoes, one she'd talked about that I knew would both surprise her and make her happy, and no matter what else I tried to think of for her, nothing satisfied my broken mind like getting her those shoes. Those shoes were in A'don, the town 2 hours to the west of me, where I had jury duty (or was rejected for such) earlier in the month. I didn't know if I could get Mom's shoes there, but I thought I might have a good chance of that.

So on Friday, the last day of my vacation, I called the store in A'don just to make sure they had the right size in the style I was looking for for the sister, and they did, and I said, "Hang on to them, I'll be there in two hours or so." (Remember that "or so.") And just on a lark, I decided to go on the way to a store here in town in a last-ditch effort to find my mom's style, and lo and behold, I did. Yes, I'd looked everywhere in a 150-mile radius for them, but had forgotten to look in my own town. I guess that would have been too easy.

I then headed west for my two-hour trip to A'don. I figured, OK, zip there, buy shoes, zip back, then it was to pack up and head to B'burg (I drive a lot, you know) to have Christmas with Mr M. And that's what I started out doing, till I got about 8 miles outside A'don.

Now, by way of background, this is still Rt 460, but not the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway, because that's only the part of 460 from B'field to B'burg. It's a four-lane road, but outside of A'don there's been some construction work going on, they're finally getting around to replacing two decrepit bridges, and so one bridge is torn down and there's a long section of detoured road turned into two lanes. Traffic moves slowly there, but it's been going on for about 6 months and I was expecting it.

What I wasn't expecting, however, is that traffic in my lane would come to a complete halt. Which it did. And now, you have to understand what I mean when I say "complete halt." It wasn't "inch, inch, inch," or "wait, inch, wait, inch." It was "put your car in park and turn off the engine."

It's very difficult to explain what comes next. Because, well, we all have our unnatural fears, and if it's not your fear, I could talk about this till I'm blue in the face and it wouldn't mean a thing to you. The best I can hope for is that you read ahead and try sticking whatever unnatural fear you may have in place of mine and let the good times roll. I got stuck in this unmoving "put your car in park and turn off the engine" traffic - on the old decrepit bridge. And came face to face with my biggest driving fear.

I can't explain this, I'm sure it all has to do with how I don't handle heights well, and the fact that I can remember vividly back in the 60s news footage of when the Point Pleasant Bridge collapsed and cars fell off it into the chasm below. I mean, I can be stuck in a tunnel or right over a set of railroad tracks and sing and dance all day long, but a bridge? You may as well suspend me from the Empire State Building by a shoestring during a hurricane.

But there I was, hopelessly stuck on that bridge. No forward, backward, u-turn, or side of the road. And see, the lane in the opposite direction seemed to be moving just fine, and cars were coming at me, and tractor trailers, and coal truck after coal truck, and as they crossed the bridge it would sway and bounce, shaking my car and bouncing my ass an inch off the seat. And I'm afraid, my friends, I did not handle this very well.

It all started with a few ewwws and eeeeeees, as I was still hoping we were just the stopped side of a two-way "stop and change lanes" procedure, but when it became apparent this wasn't the case, I started getting a little more worked up. And finally, when a gasoline tanker crossing the bridge shook my bottle of water from the seat to the floor, I lost it. I began to cry, I began to scream. I prayed, I invoked names of saints, I beat my leg, I beat my window. I am a person who last year lost her steering wheel while moving at 65 mph, and I handled that like it happened every day. I guess this is because my steering wheel-less car didn't limp to a halt on a bridge.

And all the while, traffic just kept coming in the opposite direction. It would let up a bit, when surely I thought a few cars ahead of me would go around whatever had us stopped and I could inch forward enough to at least get off this damn bridge, but it was not to be. I couldn't see the beginning of the traffic line ahead of me, nor the end of the line behind me.

I'm not sure exactly how I did it, but I finally got myself calmed down enough that I wasn't screaming or crying anymore, though I did still have the death grip on my steering wheel and parking brake, and I spent the rest of my time while stopped methodically breathing in and out, blowing my breaths out like I was in labor, and I know you won't believe me, but I'll tell you this and it's the God's honest truth. I was stopped, unmoving, on that bridge, for 2 hours and 5 minutes. I to this day don't know what caused the stoppage, because once we started to move I saw not a worker, piece of equipment, piece of road wreckage, policeman, or anything else. Traffic just immediately sped to 55 mph again, and it was like nothing had ever happened. I think someone just decided our lane was not to move, and it was time for me to face my biggest fear so they could see my reaction. I hope they didn't, and again, I'm glad I was alone, because I have to tell you people, I was a mess.

I got to A'don, in the 2-hour trip that took over 4 hours, walked in, bought my item, a five minute transaction, headed out to fill a very tired podmobile2 up with gas, and came home. Came home via I-81 and I-77, because I didn't care how much longer it was, I wasn't going to take the old route back under any circumstances. Turns out it wasn't much longer at all, and I got home, packed my stuff, and headed back out immediately to B'burg and Mr M's.

Where I got my nicest surprise of the Christmas season. Mr M had bought me an ipod for Christmas! Yes, I'm now not the last person to own one, and I have myself planted firmly in the 21st century. He'd never given the first hint he was doing this, and those are the best kind of surprises, and I couldn't wait to get home and start playing with it.

However, that was going to have to wait. Because when I got home Saturday I had to wrap gifts (I hadn't wrapped the first one), and set about the task of trying to record blogs for my dad. The waiting was difficult for me, and almost as difficult for Mr M, who kept messaging me to ask me if I'd played with Mr Pod yet, and I was hoping he didn't think I just didn't care enough to tear into it at once, which I promise you all I wanted to, I just knew if I did that I'd never be able to tear myself back away, and Christmas would come and go without me.

Now, Friday when I got home from the hell that was going to A'don, I thought I'd call the folks to let them know I was home and heading out again. I had no phone. I picked up every phone in my house, and none of them had a dial tone. So along with a broken cell phone, I also found myself with a broken real phone. Having no phone doesn't really bother me that much, because I'm not that fond of the phone, but it sure seems to bother the people who want to call me, especially, you guessed it, my parents. And also especially, with Christmas on its way and family plans brewing.

So what were to be my days of solitude, quiet reflection, and Christmas wrapping became days of having the doorbell ring every hour and finding one or both of my parents on the other side of the door, staring at me, telling me whatever piece of news they'd thought of but couldn't phone to tell me.

But, believe it or not, even with my broken brain, broken phones, and broken blog, I got everything wrapped, some baking done, some blogs recorded, made it around to all the family members' shindigs, Christmas came and went with me, and a good time was had by all. And glory of glories, I still had today off to recuperate.

I was blissfully asleep this morning and was awakened by an odd sound. It was the sound of someone knocking on my bedroom window. Then I heard the voice of my mother. I crawled out of bed and fumbled around for my pajama pants, and before I could even pick them up, heard the doorbell ringing. I opened the door, and there was Granny, and I swear I couldn't help myself, and in my sleepiness, the first words out of my mouth were, "Jeeesus Christ." She looked like she was in a panicked worry, and said, "Are you OK? The phone man was here and called us and said he couldn't rouse you, and we were afriad something was wrong!" (We'd called the phone people from their phone on Sunday. Mr Phone was to appear Wednesday to check things out.)

"He wasn't supposed to be here till tomorrow!" I said, a little more than crankily, and my mom kept saying they were worried about me and finding all kinds of euphemisms for "we thought you were dead," and although I probably looked a lot like death there in my pajamas, she finally got the idea that I was indeed alive but surly, and she went back home.

So I made some coffee and decided I may as well go ahead and get up, so I pulled on some clothes and started the happy task I was going to spend today on (besides cleaning the living room), playing with my ipod.

I'd been a little worried about it all because the thing only came with quick start instructions, which were all pictures, and didn't go into any vivid details. But I plugged it in, it loaded up, and I was listening to music and navigating around in no time. I was a happy little ipod-owning girl. Then I realized that it had loaded things from my library I didn't need, and left out things I wanted, and I was going to have to think instead of just putting a plug in a hole. Thank God for the ipod tutorial on iTunes.

It showed me exactly what to do, and I spent about two hours getting my songs exactly like I wanted. Then, with Mr Pod still plugged in, I went to the artists, picked out a random song, and began to play it. It played five seconds of the song and, well, got stuck. I navigated around, but it wouldn't move, to any menu. I unplugged it and plugged it back in, and iTunes was now refusing to recognize it as being plugged in.

I'd broken my ipod.

I was not panicked but "frustratedly perplexed," and Mr M gave me the ipod troubleshooting webpage, which I went to and did as it said, and again, lo and behold, that worked. It did indeed change screens, but the new screen was not illuminated, had a flashing circle with a slash through it, and said, "Do not disconnect." And nothing would move it from that screen, and iTunes still wasn't recognizing it.

I'd broken my ipod for the second time.

Mr M, who has little patience and at the same time the patience of a saint, told me to go ahead and disconnect it, he did that all the time and it hasn't hurt his pod any, and so I warily did it, and voila. It was back on, fully charged, and playing just like God intended.

Now, while all this was going on, while my ipod was being broken twice and while I was writing this longest of long blogs, my phone rang. It was Mr Phone, telling me that they got one of my phone lines working (oddly enough, the one I was speaking on), but the other two were not, and could he come back out now and have a look. Since I was not asleep, sans pajama pants, not presumed dead, and not nearly so surly, I said sure, come on over.

He did, and spent almost two hours here, on his head and in places I'd rather he didn't go, and couldn't get anything working. He informed me he needed to go into the crawlspace, which filled me with a fair amount of dread, because I knew that meant I had to go outside and open it up for him. (My dad fixed an elaborate locking door system on it.)

(By the way, the running joke around here is that since their move to the Pod, the crawlspace is where Peabody now keeps the WABAC. When I informed Mr M via messenger that Mr Phone wanted to go down there, his reply was a very cute, "He'd better be careful. He could push one wrong switch and find himself sailing the sea with Captain Kidd.")

One opened door and some downstairs rumbling later, and nothing's fixed. Mr Phone has to come back. At least I have the one working phone, and won't have to travel to the parents', have them travel here, or buy a few pigeons and teach them to home.

The cell phone? Don't really care, I never use it anyway, leave it unused so long the battery has to be replaced. The archive links and comments? Do care, don't know if they'll ever be fixed, but plan tonight on posting messages to see if any kind blogger employee might see them. Ipod? Up and running, till the next time it gets stuck, when I'll have enough people around me to tell me what to do.

I'm really starting to miss my brain, though. I'm a little worried it might be unrepairable.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My Christmas present from Sherman? Well, say hello to a new boarder here living at the Pod. Quick Draw McGraw has now officially moved in.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Geographical Note

I crossed the Pee Dee River today. Sure, big deal you say, but ever since I discovered Haven Kimmel (she of "A Girl Named Zippy" and "She Got Up Off The Couch" - read these books immediately) and read about her beloved childhood pet Pee Dee the cat, I always make note of crossing the Pee Dee River in North Carolina. I'm sure the river and the cat are totally unrelated, but who cares. It strikes a chord with me.

Back when I was in my twenties till my late thirties, I had a once-a-month occurrence. No, not that, I used to drive to the small town of N'rows to take my grandmother, Mamaw Bowles, out to pay her bills. She never drove, and by this time was about 90% blind, and so I'd take an afternoon off from work and take her around to all the stores, doctor's offices, post office, hospital, and the like. Here was a woman who made do with $400 a month from a Social Security check, and if that's not a reason to love a woman I don't know what is, and we'd go and collect her check, get it cashed, and go around paying bills, cash on the barrelhead. And once the bills were paid, we ended it all with a trip to the grocery store.

Now, I'm sure I've told this story before, at least once, but taking Mamaw Bowles to the grocery store was a mind-blowing trip of the highest order. We'd go to the little local grocery in her town, she'd grab a cart and hang on, and we'd go up and down each aisle methodically. And on every aisle, Mamaw would pick up every item and say, "What is this?" and I'd tell her, and she'd say, "How much is it?" and I'd tell her, and she'd say, "OK," and usually put it back.

This would go on endlessly.

"What is this?" "It's a lemon." "How much is it?" "17 cents." "OK."
"What is this?" "It's a box of diapers." "How much is it?" "8 dollars." "Well, my Lord. OK."
"What is this?" "It's instant mashed potatoes." "How much is it?" "2 dollars." "OK."

Eventually, it would become my mission to make her giggle, and my mission would usually be accomplished. "What is this?" "It's a box of sanitary napkins, Mamaw. You think you might have a need this month for sanitary napkins?" And she'd giggle and say, "Well, I don't rightly guess. How much is it?" "2 dollars and 50 cents." "OK."

And so after about eight aisles of this, we'd finally end up with a cartful of groceries, and she'd dole out the last of her $400, and I'd load them into the car and we'd be off back to her house. And after I helped her get her groceries put away and hugged her goodbye, she'd try to give me five dollars. And I'd say no, that if I took that money from her she knew that my dad, her son, would beat me all over town, and she'd put her money away for another day. In reality, the treat for me was getting the afternoon off from work.

Well, at the time, that was the treat for me. Of course, I didn't realize back then that the real treat was that 15 years after her death, those trips around town paying bills and to the grocery store would become the most cherished memory I have of good old Mamaw Bowles.

It's Christmastime here in Betland, as I'm assuming it is where you live too, unless it's Chanukahtime. And if you're like me, the thought of going out Christmas shopping can just put a damper on your whole day, which is really sad, since Christmas is supposed to be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, with kids jingle belling, and everyone telling you "be of good cheer." (Hey, don't tell me to be of good cheer. Whether or not I want to be of good cheer is nobody's business but my own.) (And do kids still jingle bell? Did they ever?) But think about what a damper the thought of shopping would put on your day if you were 90% blind, like my father is now.

While my mother shops like some sort of Santagranny all over the place (and has no dampening of her day whatsoever), my dad follows her around, yaying and naying her ideas, and they get along fine. But when it's time for my mom's present, Dad needs help, because he can't drive anymore, nor see to shop. In the past, this task has always fallen to my sister, well, it doesn't really fall to her, she volunteers for it, and she takes my dad out to do some Christmas shopping for his gifts to Mom. This year, however, my sister is a little covered up, with work and the Taytie Car Accident Cleanup. Oh, my! With all the blog difficulties going on, I didn't mention that. My dear, sweet, wonderful, tender-hearted, and often loopy nephew wrecked his car Saturday night - flipped and totaled it. He's OK save for being cut all over his general backside region (he ended up on the high side of a turned-over vehicle, and when he released his seat belt, came tumbling down - over the console), and the whole thing could have been so much worse than it was, but the boy is under "house arrest" by his folks and is restricted to driving only to work and school. He told me tonight he's hoping to be out from under "house arrest" by the time he graduates, turns 30, or has a wife and kids, whichever comes first. Pray for my nephew. He needs it. I'm thinking of baking him some brownies with a house key in them somewhere.

Anyway, back to the shopping. So my sister is all tied up, and the task of taking Dad out to shop really did fall to me this year. Hey, I'm on vacation this week, right? Now, I have to tell you that this task filled me with a fair amount of dread. And this is simply because, and I've stated it in this very blog several times, I'm a horrible shopper. Not only has the world of online shopping spoiled me senseless, but in a store I'm so indecisive that I'll stand for an hour in one spot, wondering if this plate is better or that one is, or if I should get a plate at all, and then I'll try to remember what the plot of "Law and Order" was last night, and eventually I'll end up singing some song from 1964 while the salespeople all back away from me.

But I love my dad, and I know he needs the help, and so I said, sure. Pencil me in for Tuesday afternoon. We'll go and finish your shopping, even if that means your shopping will be finished and mine's barely a third done.

And so Tuesday came and I loaded Dad in the car and we took off. And my dear bloggees, the things I discovered. My dad is an incredible shopper! While I'd envisioned tramping all over every store in town describing every item on every rack to him, he knew exactly where he wanted to go, what he wanted to get Mom, and we went there and got it. The man was a wonder! He'd find one thing he liked, we'd find the size, then I'd suddenly remember a couple of pieces that might match it, go get them, show it to him, he'd pick what he liked best, and it was on to the next thing. It was speed shopping! (And though it was always a hoot with Mamaw Bowles, there was no asking, "How much is it?" Good old Dad - when it comes to his Mrs, he cares not.)

And we had a blast. 2 hours, 2 stores, and a cloud of dust. And when it was over, I kind of felt myself disappointed that we couldn't go on. "Stocking stuffers? You need stocking stuffers? A card? Paper? Bow?" I kept wanting to ask. I was just getting in the mood to go.

Today, I went shopping on my own. My goal was to not come home until the gifts were completed. Boy, there's nothing quite like setting your goals too high. I went to Winston-Salem (over the Pee Dee River), and my first foray was to the mall, where I spent a few hours and came out with nary a bag. However, last night's "Law and Order" was about someone who killed the husband of a woman he was obssessed with, and I sang a very heartfelt rendition of "You Don't Own Me," by Lesley Gore.

I had a modicum of success in other places around the town, but still have to trudge back out tomorrow to try and finish up. I'm tempted - and I mean really tempted - to ask my dad to come along with me. He could probably get me finished quicker than the time it would take to get where I'm going and back. Only I fear I'd be the one this time asking, "How much is it?" ("OK.")

So shopping has come full circle, I guess. I took Mamaw Bowles, and now I've taken Dad. The thing I found myself wondering a lot today in the car, though - when I go blind, as I'm convinced is going to happen to me, who's going to take me? I have no kids, I'll have no grandkids. It's a scary thought.

I'll keep five dollars handy, though, for any volunteers.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The greatest thing about being an adult? If you want to have wine and Doritos for dinner, by God, you can.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Let's Forget Acro This Week.

Dealing with blogger/google in trying to get my comments and archives back has become unbearable. Let's call the whole acromania off. The acrobasket's awash under a sea of CD Mix Exchanges and Christmas cards anyway.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. After last week's technical difficulty-filled weekend, Picture Sunday is back. So let's get right to it, OK?

Well, it is that time of year. Played my last Christmas musical of the season, that would be the Community Band's Bigass Holiday Extravaganza. It went well. Shopped a little yesterday, and hung at Mr M's, playing clarinets and watching a little of a movie where Gerard Depardieu plays a French Christopher Columbus.

Also frollicked with Alice the Kitty, also known as the Demon Seed From Hell. Well, I may have to correct that name, as Mr M seems to be teaching her very nicely to play without digging her claws into peoples' bare flesh.

Here's a nice photo of Sherman and Alice. I smell next year's Christmas cards! And for the artistically inclined, and John Cusack in "Sixteen Candles" couldn't have said it better himself, "I think black and white would just capture the moment so much better...."Of course, since today was the Community Band concert, it was also the day for Sherman to get his annual Santa picture taken. Here is the offical 2006 version, hot off the presses.
This year was the best Santa ever. You know Santa's going to be good when he has an English accent. And this Santa was just a little bit on the bawdy side - here's a Santa you'd like to go out for some spiked egg nog with.

And since the blog seems to have turned into a complete Christmas publication, how about a picture of the tree for posterity?Yep, there he is, topped by the Bumble (putting on the star, of course, that's his job), and Mr Peanut, who seems to be determined to get into every picture I make, is again waving hello. (Notice there are no presents under my tree.)

And now, how about a recipe du jour? I'm not sure quite what to say about this one. You see, not only is this the recipe, but for the first time in the history of the recipe du jour, well, I actually ate the recipe du jour.

Now, Mr M has been threatening for years to make me fried mush. I have to confess I was kind of hoping that day would never arrive, but arrive it did, this very morning in fact. He fried me up some mush, and I knew it would become the recipe du jour, as it did, from the "It Is What It Is" file at cardland.Yes, my fine feathereds, that is what fried mush looks like. I was keen to give it a try, well, in all reality I was afraid not to since Mr M was standing over me with a kitchen knife, but it's not at all horrible, especially when you realize that what people around here call "mush," (and what's printed on the package, "mush"), fancy people call polenta. I ate up the crunchy crusty bits and left the rest, but it was, well, it was what it was. Mush.

Happy weekend.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Still no comments nor archives, but I'm trying, folks. I have feelers out. Hey, and guess what my dad asked me for for Christmas - more recorded blogs! And me with no archives....

Friday, December 15, 2006

Hope You Like This, If You Don't You Still Can't Comment On It, And Don't Go Looking For Archives Either Because They're Not There, And My CD Mix Exchange Track Listing (A Catching-Up Blog)

Welcome to Friday, the day I don't normally blog.

Well, I still have a blog, and I can still upload to it, I'm assuming here since I haven't tried to upload this one yet, since it's only a title and two sentences old. I just realized I didn't tell you the sad and sorry tale that is my blogger experience this past week.

See, it all happened Sunday, when I was told I must convert to the new version of blogger. I did so, and for one brief, shining moment, it worked. Oh, but it was brief indeed, friends, and it's been nothing but a quagmire of unhappiness ever since. On my second foray into the new blogger, I had - no blogs. I had a dashboard (which to the uninitiated is a screen with links to all your blogs), but on that dashboard it had me as owning a grand total of zero blogs. So I couldn't publish to a blog because, well, because I didn't have one to publish to. I could, however, still log in to the old blogger, which looked just the same as before and let me go to my "blog body" screen, write my heart out, and push "publish" - after which I would get an error telling me that I was in some deep shit. It actually said that! "Error eos.k14: Elizabeth, you are in some deep shit." Well, truth be told it said something else, about a file path and directory, but it was all the same to me.

So I started looking around on the "issues" pages, sorry Mr M, but that's what they call them, and read screens totaling approximately the quantity of two "War and Peace"s, and nothing fit my situation. Which is sad, because I knew that meant I had to write the blogger people a letter which would not get a reply (and I was right, I never did), but I also found a blogger troubleshooting page on google where I left a message. I liked that page. It made me realize that I was not alone in the blogger hell I'd found myself in, for there were approximately two zillion posts from people in their own little corners of blogger hell.

Monday morning I got up and came online to see what was going on, and here's what I found. Nothing. I had no blog, just a "page not found" screen when I tried to access Betland. Things were not looking good, and though Stennie bet me an entire dime that the problem would be fixed on its own shortly, I envisioned spending the next year writing blogs in longhand and mailing them around the world.

Tuesday afternoon, my blog returned. And I lost a dime. However, the excitement of the returning blog was dampened by the fact that I have archive links which take a viewer nowhere in particular (actually, to another "page not found" screen), and broken comments. So, if you love me, if you hate me, or if you want to read what I was doing in 2004, you yourselves are in some deep shit as well, and welcome to the shithole. It's not particularly pleasant, but I'll make you a cup of coffee, and if you're really nice, I'll tell you what I was doing in 2004, if I can remember. Or if you're so bursting with pent-up excitement you can't stand it anymore, you can always drop me a line at, and I'll tell you what I was doing in 2004.

So that's about it. I left a second message on that troubleshooting page about having no archives nor comments, and someone tried to give some pointers, which I'd already tried anyway and they don't work. I'm just kind of broken here, trying to live with it, and hoping it will fix itself or else I'll have to write another letter to blogger which never gets a reply.

I worked all week, got my Christmas tree up and decorated (that was a two-stage, two-night process), went to a high school band concert, and just now finished cleaning my kitchen floor. It's an exciting life here at the Poderosa. If you'd like to experience it, well, you can't leave me a comment to tell me so, but we'll work out something.

That all said, the 3d Great CD Mix Exchange is complete, and I have a lot of music to listen to this weekend. I now have almost all my CDs, and can't wait to stay up late tonight and let the tunes blast. And without further ado, here are my song choices for the latest exchange.

1. The first song on the first side of the first album you ever bought. "You Told Me," by the Monkees. I had to have a little think on this one. I was going to use something else, then I realized that I didn't buy the early Beatles albums, my parents did. But I distinctly remember my sister and I pooling "gift money" to buy "The Monkees: Headquarters." The album where they supposedly decided to play their own instruments. I love that album to this very day.
2. A holiday song. "Christmas Wrapping," by the Waitresses. You know, I have my big four, what I call The Mighty Quadumvirate Of Christmas Songs. I knew I'd pick one of those four for this track, and I went with this one because it's just so damn fun. And is the most fun song-singing experience since "Trouble," from "The Music Man."
3. A geographical song. "Chicago," by Sufjan Stevens. I'm just discovering Mr Stevens. A snippet of this song appears in the movie "Little Miss Sunshine." His voice is absolutely heartbreaking to me. I love the lyrics, and the refrain, "I made a lot of mistakes."
4. A medley. "Moons of Jupiter," by Scruffy the Cat. Oh, boy. Ohhhh, boy. This is the one I want back. I was having a miserable time trying to find a medley, apparently they're out there, but I was missing them. I had it boiled down to this song and one other, which was quite long. And yes, don't chide me here, I know that this song isn't so much a medley as sticking a refrain from one song into another. I cheated, and I paid the price, because after the CDs were mailed out, I found no fewer than four great medleys I could have used. My weakest CD Exchange moment, for which I apologize.
5. A song about a dance. "The Walk," by the Inmates. I had a few blase choices picked out for this one, but remembered this song when I found the single in my 45s box looking for a b-side. It's cool beyond belief, and I'm glad I found it.
6. A song with a girl's name in the title. "Sweet Petunia," by the Hackensaw Boys. Yes, here they are making their umpteenth appearance in my CD mixes. It's a certainty, you know, I was torn between this one and another girl song by the 'Boys, and I went with this one because, well, because if this one doesn't get you up and moving, you're dead.
7. A song you'd like played at your funeral. "Blackbird," by the Beatles. I had a hard time coming up with any songs for this category. I personally would just as soon not think about my funeral, if you don't mind. I finally came up with three songs, and this one about broken wings and sunken eyes and waiting for this moment to arise just seemed to fit.
8. A song by your friend's band. "Burn," by the Stetsons. This was a given, and if there's anyone who wasn't expecting the Stetsons, well, they don't know me so well. The Stetsons of course feature the cutest drummer in the Free World, or the Locked-Up World, for that matter, my nephew. The boys were 16 and 17 when they recorded it, a mean feat, I say, and it's probably my favorite of the band's original numbers. I love their choice in cover songs, but they never record any of those.
9. A drinking song. "Liquored Up and Lacquered Down," by Southern Culture on the Skids. Finally! Finally, my lifelong dream of using SCOTS on an exchange is fulfilled. They've come so close so many times, but here's the perfect example of a song about drinking. Not as in, "Boy, has the drink ruined my life," but, "Boy, look at my baby guzzlin' it down - ain't she great?"
10. Cover song with a twist - the original version of a song someone covered and had a bigger hit with. "Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me," by Warren Zevon. At the time, Linda Ronstadt had a massive hit with this song, but in the long run, I think people remember Warren's version. Good thing, because his original crushes her cover like a grape. A couple of years ago a country singer (was it Terri Clark?) also had a hit with this, proving a good song never goes out of style. I love Warren. May he rest in peace.
11. A song with a boy's name in the title. "Johnny Come Lately," by Steve Earle and the Pogues. Isn't it odd how there are less great boy songs than girl songs? I guess that's because more boys sing, and sing about girls. Anyway, here's a boy song sung by a boy. I love this song for a lot of reasons, but mainly how the first couple of lines suck you in to thinking, "Hey, this is a patriotic pro-America ditty," then it turns itself around without getting ugly. Tells a great story.
12. A b-side - do you remember them? "Funtime," by REM. Yes, I do! In fact, I not only remember them, but it may be my favorite thing about the poor extinct 45 record. So, here's how it goes, for my money, anyway. REM, Elvis Costello, and Squeeze. The greatest b-side artists in the world. So I knew I'd use something from one of them, and somehow this one kept going back to me. However, I cheated a little bit again, because although this was a b-side, it was the b-side of "Get Up," the version I downloaded from iTunes to put on the CD is not the same version. Same song, though - I tried!
13. A song about the weather. "The Wind and the Rain," by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. Two elements for the price of one! Also an accapella number, a category from the first Mix Exchange. I love the story this song tells, and the vocals (which is good, since vocals are all that's there). Boy, it gets kind of hinky when that "fiddler fair" comes along, though, doesn't it?
14. A musical question song. "What'll We Do With the Baby-O?" by Kristen Hersh. Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care? If you participated in the exchange and didn't immediately think of that, I admonish you! Anyway, this fiddle tune is approximately a million years old, but the first time I heard it is when the Hackensaw Boys did it in concert. I've since discovered countless versions, with verses aplenty. Lord have mercy, the things that can be done with that baby-o, you wouldn't even believe. This version takes the song out of the bluegrass world, though, and gives it a very nice touch.
15. A cheating song. "Little Girl," by Syndicate of Sound. Lots of cheating songs out there, I'm gonna cheat, you cheated on me, you cheated on me with him, you cheated on me and now you're gonna pay, but this song was fresh in my mind because I almost used it on the last exchange for a one-hit wonder song. And what a one-hit wonder it is.
16. A song about death or violence. "Pretty Polly," by Ralph Stanley and Patty Loveless. It was pretty much a sure thing I'd use a bluegrass number - the catalog of bluegrass death songs is almost as long as the blogger issue page. I chose this one because it's not slow. There's another song that tells basically the same story, "Little Omie Wise," I call it the sister song to "Pretty Polly," but it's very slow and methodical. I like happy-sounding death songs, they pack more of a punch.
17. A song you like by an artist you normally can't stand. "People Are Strange," by the Doors. I had a little trouble with this one too. But geez, I hate the Doors - pouty, pretentious, and completely overrated. I just don't get it. However, this song is nice, and I like it.
18. A song you like to play air guitar to. "Cigarette State," by Robbie Fulks. Now, I have to say this right up front. I never, and by this I mean never ever ever, play air guitar. I honestly can say I never remember doing this in the whole of my life. Drums, sure, saxophone, piano, maybe even air fiddle. But never air guitar. There are, though, times I catch myself playing "steering wheel guitar" when I'm driving, but I haven't done that in over a year, because I'm afraid to touch my steering wheel lest it fall off like the one in my last car did. "Cigarette State" features a blistering guitar solo, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out it was this song that caused my steering wheel to come off. (By the way, this song is laugh-out-loud funny.)
19. An amnesty song - a song you've wanted to use before but didn't. "El Paso," by the Gourds. Wow, did I love this category. There have been songs on exchanges I've actually mourned over not getting to use. For some reason I didn't use any of them in my amnesty song category. I chose the Gourds because had "Chicago" not come along it would have probably been my geographical song, and also because Mike the blogless helped me discover the song, which was a category in the first exchange, "A song a friend turned you on to."
20. The last song on your favorite album of all time. "Her Majesty," by the Beatles. My favorite album of all time is like my favorite movie of all time or my favorite song of all time. It changes. "Abbey Road" is a constant though, and if someone asks me the question, it'll generally show up as favorite or in the top three. And wouldn't it have been wonderful to use the entire side two of this album as your medley? Anyway, after a long list of songs, this one's the perfect one to end with - 23 seconds and a cloud of dust.

And that's the CD Mix Exchange listing.

And that's my blog. Thank you.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And for those of you who listen to the podcast, guess what's coming - alternate track listing discussions! I'm telling you now, so you can either get excited or unsubscribe yourself.
* I've got my pajamas, I've got my movie, I've got a half a bottle of wine, I've got a clean kitchen floor - time for Friday Chill.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Blogger hell the past three days, man.

But the post I was going to save till tonight posted tonight anyway!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

No Picture Sunday, But A Blog

Hello, end of weekenders.

Due to blogger and their definition of "a few minutes," there will be no Picture Sunday tonight. Today seemed to be my day to convert to the new Google version of blogger. It promised me it would only take "a few minutes," but after 2 hours-plus it still wasn't complete. I also seem to have lost all of my archives. I don't know if this problem is me-intensive or everyone's having it, but I'm not in the mood to fool with it all tonight. Picture Sunday wouldn't have been very exciting anyway.

I had a two-performance musical kind of day today, and in between my two performances I came home and wrote a blog. I was thinking of keeping it for Tuesday, but since I'm otherwise blogless tonight, I'll go ahead and post it here. As a present. Or a curse. You decide.

Read on.

I'm Spending St Swithen's With My Siblin's

So the 3d Great CD Mix Exchange is over with and the CDs will soon be in the mail, winging their way around the country.

All in all it wasn't the hardest mix, although there were a few that gave me fits. The track listing will be posted in a few days. I think the whole reason this particular mix came about, and why it was a little hurried and has to go out on Monday, is because track #2 on the song list was "a holiday song." And since most people will be choosing Christmas/Chanukah/Kwaanza/Whatever numbers, it was just the right time. And I'm assuming here, because of the time of the year and the plethora of Christmas/Chanukah/Kwaanza/Whatever songs out there. Well, I don't know about Kwaanza, it's still a newly-popularized holiday, but if there's not a plethora now there will be soon.

Stennie and I discussed Christmas Carols on the podcast the other week. Mainly the worst ones, but in doing that I went to several websites to look at lists of carols, and the sheer numbers were mind-blowing. There were Christmas Carols I'd never even heard of. "All This Night My Heart Rejoices?" "Miss Fogarty's Christmas Cake?" "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence?" "Warm And Fuzzy Time Of Year?" There's even one called "Percy, The Puny Poinsettia," and I sincerely hope I never do hear it, because something tells me my brain might explode against the wall if this happens. There's one called "New Kid In Town," and something tells me it's not the one I'm familiar with by The Eagles.

So, there are millions of Christmas songs, and another half-million "winter songs," like "Let It Snow," "Winter Wonderland," and "Baby, It's Cold Outside," which I love and feel should be played all winter long, but somehow it only shows up at the Yule. "Over The River And Through The Woods" can go from late November till February, but it doesn't. There's even one New Year's song, well, one that I know of, possibly more, "Let's Start The New Year Right."

And while we're at it, Halloween has its share of songs. OK, they're songs played at Halloween, I don't know of any "My Halloweenie Bikini," or "Bring Out The Flask, I've Got On My Mask." ("It's all so dandy/Just give me some candy/But now that it's tasted/I'd rather get wasted/So bring out your flask/I'!") Sure, you can play "Monster Mash" till you're blue in the face (a good costume, too), and "Haunted House" and "Martian Hop," but I think I can safely say there are no Halloween Carols.

If you'd pull up a list of songs for July 4th, I daresay it would be as long as a list of Christmas Carols, but let's face it, these are simply patriotic songs and can be sung any time of the year. And sadly, are. My confession of the day is that as a rule I absolutely despise patriotic music, a fact that makes it very difficult for me to get excited about playing the Community Band's Bigass Independence Day Extravaganza each year. I can take "You're A Grand Old Flag," and I long just once for us to play "This Land Is Your Land," a song about loving America if there ever was, and if it came up to a vote on a new National Anthem, I'd mark my "x" right beside that one. But I know of no specific Independence Day songs, except that one by Martina McBride, which isn't about the July 4th we all know. There's certainly no "God Bless Our Founding Fathers." ("They signed the declaration/And made their proclamation/So we can take a vacation/All across the nation/So grill some 'dogs and pop a beer/For there's no place as good as here/Bless our Founding Fathers/For Independence Daaaaay!")

(By the way, I'm sure Stennie will burn me on this one with something from "1776.")

Take Memorial Day. Well, don't take it from me, I like the day off. Anyone know a Memorial Day song? I know of no "Let's Remember," or "Place A Wreath." ("Place a wreath for a soldier/With a gun on his shoulder/With a flag unfurled/He fought round the world/So we could have a long weekend.") Or President's Day. If someone came up with a President's Day song, like "I Like Presidents," I might just sing it. ("I like presidents/right to the core/As long as they're nice/And don't take us to war/Some serve four years/And some four again/And while we're at it/Why are they always men?/We could do with a vixen/She'd be better than Nixon/So happy President's Daaaaay!") Well, maybe I wouldn't sing it.

I learned from Elvis Costello and The Chieftans that there's a St Stephen's Day song (a kickass one, too), but how about Epiphany? People all over the world celebrate Epiphany. ("Epiphany! Epiphany!/For this Epiphany/Get me something from Tiffany!") Hey, my sister's right there in the Episcopal Church every year on Maundy Thursday, but I'm hard pressed to find one "I'm Spending Maundy Thursday At Home." ("It'll be a treat/with Mom washing my feet/I'm spending Maundy Thursday at home.") Or even "The Ash Wednesday Without Any Soap." ("The priest, with grace/Drew a cross on my face/It filled me with hope, till I got home but, nope/I'm here on Ash Wednesday without soap.")

I'm just waiting for the first Arbor Day Carol, like "Get Me Something Green For Arbor Day" ("I planted a tree/Now do something for me/It'll grow in the hills/I like ten-dollar bills/So get me something green for Arbor Day"), and wouldn't it be fun to celebrate the official end of summer with a Labor Day song, like "The Worker's Carol?" (Labor Labor Labor!/Each day I toss the caber/I work, so does my neighbor/So let's take Monday off!")

St Patrick's Day is certainly a musical holiday, and there are a thousand songs of the Irish persuasion one could sing to celebrate. "The Wearin' O' The Green" is I guess the closest to an official St Patrick's Day Carol we have, but as long as you're singing something in the "highdee highdee highdee" category and drinking green beer, I don't think anyone's going to find fault with you. Or just put on a Pogues album and let the good times roll. Hell, you can even sing "The Unicorn" and it's all right by me, as long as you do it with that brogue The Irish Rovers used when they recorded the number. But still, I long for something like "I'm Seeing Double On St Patrick's Day." ("I drank five pints of Irish Brown/And staggered all around the town/With all the green in different shades/I got so drunk, saw two parades/Two mayors on floats/I had sex with two goats/I'm seeing double on St Patrick's Daaaaay!") Leave out the beastiality and you might have a holiday classic.

And so, what about St Swithen's Day? I'd have never even have known this day existed had it not been for a joke on "The Bob Newhart Show" back in the 70s. It not only apparently has to do with the weather, but also apparently already has its own song, by Billy Bragg (who would probably join in a chorus of "The Worker's Carol" with me). Since I don't know his version and if it's really about the day or just something that happened on it, I feel compelled to write "I'm Spending St Swithen's With My Siblin's," anyway. ("I'm spending St Swithen's with my siblin's/We're cooking up a giant pot of chitlins/Look through the window pane/I think it's gonna rain/And our mobilehome is gonna wash awaaaay!") I don't know, I think there need to be more mentions of mobilehomes in holiday songs. (By the way, St Swithen's Day is all about rain in July, as is "The Music Man," kind of.)

We have to honor our folks on Mother's and Father's Days. There's "Mammy" (how I love ya! - no, wait, that's "Swannee"), and that horrible old standard about "put them all together they spell 'Mother'," which I can't remember the words of right now ("M is for the meatloaf that she made me/O is for the oatmeal with no lumps?"), but there are precious few father songs out there, save for "Oh Mein Papa," and that song Paul Petersen sang on "The Donna Reed Show" lo those many years ago. Parents need their own carols. ("You're a terrific mother/You always blamed my brother/So Happy Mother's Daaaaay!") ("You were always a good father/Though we weren't worth the bother/So Happy Father's Daaaaay!") (My carols all seem to end with big Broadway showstopping techniques, don't they?)

And on and on. The world needs a "Grandparents Spoil You Rotten," "A Dragon Bit Me On Chinese New Year," "I'm Taking A Sauna on Rosh Hoshannah," "It's A Lonely Martin Luther King, Jr Day Without You," "When It's Armed Forces Day In Dear Old Dixie," "Happy Sweetest Day To The Sourest Gal I Know," "The Best Thing About May Day Is That It's Pay Day," "Let's Eat Turkey Till We Bust," and "Fuck The First Weekend After New Years, Because College Football Is No More."

But I'm not writing those. I've bored the world enough for one night. I'll bet anything could beat "Percy, The Puny Poinsettia," though.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Other than playing music, about the only thing I got done was watching episodes of "That Girl" on TVLand. If they had Donald Hollinger in the Sears catalog, I'd order him right now.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This Just In....


Well. That's over with. Glad I didn't serve.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Juror's Chair

I know this sounds like a joke, but I promise you it's not. If there was some sort of "sleep school," I swear I'd pay the tuition and sign up.

I have no idea why I can't go to sleep when I go to bed, and why I can't get up when it's time to get up in the morning. Last night before going to bed I upped my three alarm clocks to four (thanks for the red clock, Mr M), and in what I know will come as a shock to you all, even synchronized them with the right time so they'd go off simultaneously at 5:30 this morning. I still slept through them all a half hour, thus ensuring a very stressful getting-ready for jury duty.

I got on the road only 10 minutes late, though, a real feat since I put on the outfit I'd carefully chosen for today only to find that the shirt I'd picked out was now about four sizes too big. After trying on several others I said, "Fuck it," and went with the too-big one. My jury sheet said I needed to dress nicely, as this was a solemn proceeding.

I got to A'don right on time, and began the very cold walk to the courthouse, where along the way I met a nice lady also in the Jury Pool (everybody into the Jury Pool!), who told me she'd done this before, and so I followed her like a shadow through the beginning of the morning's festivities.

Standing there in the lobby were all the Jury Poolers. There were 30 of us, from which 14 would be pulled. I actually knew two of them, they're from my area and are both clients of TheCompanyIWorkFor's. We went inside the courtroom and were given a little talking-to by the Jury Coordinator, then sent back outside to the lobby to wait and size each other up while all the lawyers and judge and stenographer and the like got their stuff ready to go. Then we were called back inside in alphabetical order.

And by the way. That dressing nicely stuff? Hogwash. There were people there who looked like they'd just rolled out of bed! I was one of only two women wearing a skirt, and from then on it was pants, jeans, sweat pants, sweatshirts, t-shirts, and three men - and I mean grown men - were wearing baseball caps. I'd never seen anything so upsetting in the whole of my life. It was like aisle six at the Wal-Mart.

Now, apologies were made to us being in the smaller, auxiliary courtroom instead of the big fancy one, which is where I suppose they keep Sam Waterston, because the big fancy one is apparently being renovated. Or Sam Waterston's getting an eyebrow combing. And because of the lack of space, the first 14 Jury Poolers from that alphabetical list got to sit right in the juror seats instead of in the gallery. I, being a "B," got a juror's chair.

It was a strange experience, mainly because I wasn't quite expecting the defendants (yes, defendants, there were three of them) to be present for this portion of the trial. There they were sitting at the defendants' table, with their three separate lawyers, trying to remain calm while checking us all out from the corners of their eyes, and while the other Jury Poolers stared at them. I was nice enough to glance at them while pretending I was doing something else. There were two men and one woman. The judge told us right up front, and right in front of them, that they'd been charged with possession and intent to distribute cocaine. Well, like they didn't already know that, but the judge spoke about them like they weren't in the room.

Then the judge told us it was question time, and that we were going to be asked some questions and had to answer truthfully (after we'd just sworn to do that anyway, but I guess he wanted to be sure we all understood). It was at this point that I began to get rather nervous, and had visions of lawyer number three saying, "Elizabeth - [turning around to quickly face me] - what's the square root of 4298?" And then I'd burst into tears and everyone would laugh at me.

Turns out it wasn't like that, and the first question the judge asked was, "Did anyone in the Jury Pool (JP) ... work last night?" And a young man raised his hand and said that, yes, he'd worked till 2:00 this morning. After which the judge actually admonished him and said that it was a rather foolhardy thing to do to work so late when he knew he'd have to have jury duty the next morning and be alert for testimony. Yes, Mr I Make $100,000 A Year And Can Work Anytime I Want To actually poo-pooed a man common enough to have a night-shift job. Then the guy was excused, the first to go, and I'm sure he let out a sigh of relief and went home and went to bed. Good on you, fella. (Although I'm sorry you got admonished, especially since I was up till 1 am and wasn't even working, which is much worse.)

The next question from Judge was, "Does anyone here know any of the defendants," and one man actually raised his hand and said yes he did, he kind of knew one and knew several members of his family. And you're outta here! Question three was, "Does anyone here know any of the attorneys," and several people raised their hands and said their kids went to school together, or they'd had services performed by these people. Now, one of the defense attorneys tried what's probably the biggest trial in my area in the last 100 years, I mean, it was big stuff, so I knew who he was, and started to raise my hand and say, "Yep, I saw him on the Tee Vee. Can I go now?" I didn't, but one of the two people I knew basically did just that. She said he'd defended a man from her town, told about the trial, and when she was asked if it would have any bearing for her on this case, she said, "Yes." (Which makes sense, because in that town everyone knows everyone else just a little too well anyway.) Bye, miss - see you in the office.

So three people were now gone, and my chances of escaping jury duty were looking a bit trim.

The judge then turned things over to the lawyers, the prosecutor going first, and the whole thing started all over again. Questions, questions, does anybody here know this person or that one, basically the same as the judge's, and while we're at it, the prosecuting attorney I think had just celebrated his 16th birthday and his mother probably had to drive him to the courthouse for the big trial. No one got dismissed from his questions, and then it was the Big Trial attorney's turn.

Big Trial attorney asked questions for almost an hour, and it was at this point that things really got rolling. Only rolling downhill. Way downhill. This was mainly due to Mr L. When BTA (Big Trial attorney) asked if anyone had any family members who were members of law enforcement, half the room raised hands. When it was Mr L's turn to speak, he said his nephew was a policeman, and well, he must have been really proud of himself for answering so well or else he just fuckin' loved the sound of his own voice. Because he raised his hand and stood up so many times after that it was hard to keep count. When BTA asked if anyone or their families had been the victims of a crime, he told a long, involved story about driving a school bus once and a kid brought a gun on the bus. When another random question was asked, about feelings on drug use or something, Mr L raised his hand and said that he forgot, but maybe he should mention that the kid with the gun on the bus was represented by BTA's law firm. When asked by BTA if we understood that law enforcement officers are very comfortable being on the stand giving testimony, Mr L stood up and talked about his nephew, and how if things "got close" he'd always side "with family" (a remark that had me stifling a laugh, for the second time that morning), then went on to say that maybe he should mention that some of the kids who've ridden his school bus have grown up to become policemen.

It was at that point that I was dying to turn to the older lady beside me and whisper, "Why don't they just dismiss this dildo and let us get on with things in peace?"" but I figured she wouldn't appreciate the comment. She looked really tired.

(And the first time I had to stifle a laugh was at the judge's uttering of the phrase "sitting on a jury," since Stennie once told me on the hucklebug that she'd never sat on a jury, and I just got a case of the helpless giggles.)

So BTA just kept asking questions for an interminable period of time (which turned out to be almost an hour, see above), and finally he asked one that hit me like a brick. And here's where things turn serious for a moment. "Do any of you, for religious, moral, ethical, or other reasons, have a problem sitting in judgement of another person?" Now, think about that statement for a minute. I sure did. And I have to tell you very honestly, it was only sheer cowardice that kept me from raising my hand and replying, "Well, frankly, yes I do."

I took a long look at the defendants. These people could be people caught in a bad situation, sitting there now looking back at their families for support. They could have people speaking against them who weren't telling the truth. Or they could be notorious cocaine-passer-outers. Whatever, I was maybe going to be in a group of people deciding to take their freedom away from them. And that was a sobering thought indeed.

Anyway, after BTA was finished with his laundry list of questions, neither of the other two attorneys had any questions for us. I'm not surprised, I don't think there were any left. So we were dismissed once again while the lawyers and judge hashed us out one more time. I headed off immediately to the water fountain for my second round of Tylenol of the morning, and when I came back into the lobby my new veteran juror friend wasn't around, so I went and stood by the wall, alone. And who should amble up beside me but Mr L.

"I swear before God that if this man starts a conversation with me, I'm walking off in the middle of it," I told myself, but thankfully he didn't. However, one of the defendants' lawyers came walking by (we'll call him Mr D), and I know you're going to think I'm making this up but I swear I'm not, Mr L stepped right in front of him and said, "Mr D, do you have any people who live down in....?"

The only person with a more horrified expression than I had was Mr D, who immediately started waving his hands in front of him, walking away and saying, "I can't talk to you, I can't talk to you!" And for some reason, Mr L seemed to be offended at this remark! Then Mr D went on to explain, "You're a juror, I can't talk to you, it's against the court rules!" and got the hell out of there, and I decided then and there that if Mr L ever spoke to me I was doing the same thing.

Then there was that point where all the lawyers came outside and were shaking hands with other people in the courthouse and heading outside, and for a split second in my mind I started dancing a jig and singing, "A plea bargain! A last-minute plea bargain!" However, they all came back in the courthouse quickly and it was not to be. And so we were all called back in, to sit where we'd originally sat before.

Apparently the hashing was all done, and I'm sure it will come as no shock to you that the first person dismissed after the Big Meeting was Mr L. I wanted to clap, but the courthouse was relatively quiet so I held off. Then two more people got the boot, a lady with a drug trial in her family history and a woman whose job could have been a conflict. I was starting to get that sinking feeling that I was going to be a juror, partly for the numbers, but mainly because of the fact that with those JPer's still left, I was one of only about five people who never raised a hand and spoke.

Next came a little activity I'd never heard of before, "striking." This seems to be where all the lawyers take the list of JPers and strike through some of them and leave some on the list. This took forever, and by forever I mean probably another 45 minutes, and there was a small minute during that time I thought I was going to fall asleep, so I looked at the defendants some more, and their families, and wondered what kind of people they were. One was still looking back at his family, one was writing a lot in a legal pad, and the woman just sat there, unmoving, as she did the entire morning. The wait was excruciating, but the sheets were finally collected from the lawyers and we all had to go outside one more time. And wait.

And finally, the moment arrived. We were called back in, all made to sit in the gallery scrunched up while the juror's chairs were empty, and they called out the 14 jurors one by one, giving out juror numbers as they did so.

I was not called. I don't know how I did it, but I escaped jury duty. The new jurors took an oath to be good jurors, and the rest of us were told thanks but no thanks, and dismissed to go home. (Everybody out of the Jury Pool!)

And see, here's the thing. I went from the courtroom to the restroom to have a small pee, and while I was sitting there alone with my thoughts, and after praying for some 3 months not to have to do this task, I thought, "Why didn't they want me? What was wrong with me?" As I was washing my hands afterwards I caught sight of myself in the bathroom mirror and, with the hurriedness of getting ready in the dark at 5:30, I noticed how horribly haggard I looked. Like a drug addict, actually. "Oh. I guess that was it," I replied, and didn't think too much more about it. Oddly enough though, I have a feeling that with his first pee after the dismissal, Mr L was probably pondering why he didn't get chosen either.

So, called but not chosen. Yep, that's me in a nutshell. I'm $40 plus mileage richer, I shopped for shoes afterwards, and at least I can say I got to sit in a real juror's chair for 3 ½ whole hours. They're not very comfortable. And anyway, I have a feeling I'll be called again before my service time is over in April of '07.

And if I am, I wonder if I'll be asked, "Do you have a problem sitting in judgement of another person?" And if I'll have the guts to raise my hand and say yes. And wonder if it'll get me out of jury duty?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! And so, what was the verdict here? I find you....
- Honorable Mentions goes to Mike, with his "I find you gaseous!"
- Runner-Up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his, "I find you gnawn!" (ouch)
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her, "I find you groovy!"
Thanks to all who played, even though some of you were too late. You've all done well!

Monday, December 04, 2006


OK, folks, podcast time is nigh, I'm rushing around trying to get everything ready, and only a few seconds for acro.

But no, the gods did not treat me kindly and I have to get up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to head out for "potential jury duty," as I was told on the phone today.

Makes for an easy one letter acro, though. "I find you.......!"

You know the rest. Blah, blah, blah, three entries you get, blah blah blah, judging 10pm est tomorrow night, blah, blah, blah, remark about the acrobasket.

So the topic, "I find you.......!" The letter:


Now acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Important news, though. The Third Great CD Mix Exchange has been announced. If you've not done one yet, why don't you go to Stennie's blog, read all about it, and join up? Everyone's welcome, and we'd love to have you!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. And welcome to a very special round of Picture Sunday.

I can't believe the weekend is already over. I worked too much. I guess it's good to work, though, and I got a lot done, with some help from Mr M and Sherman.

Well, yes, Friday was indeed the delivery day of my new desk, and it sat here in a box in my floor until the wee hours of Saturday morning, when I started taking pieces out of the box. There were hundreds, some big and very heavy, and some tiny and very loseable. But I was careful, and set things around the room in neat piles, mainly determined by shapes and what I thought little pieces of hardware might be used for.

Running most of the day Saturday, to the store to get dinner ingredients. See, I had to promise Mr M dinner to entice him down here to work on the desk, and I thought while I was at it I'd make him a pumpkin pie (not a pumpkin pi) as well. Then he arrived and began the task of desk assembly.

We got done about 12:30 am, and that was assembling the desk, moving the old one out into the kitchen (we had nowhere else to take it - my poor kitchen), and placing the new one where it needed to be.

Then today it was finding a way to get rid of the old desk. The only solution I could come up with, seeing as how I was alone again (naturally), was to disassemble that one and carry it piece by piece out to the shed in my back yard. Which I did, and I no more got it done than it was time for Church Practice. Whoosh. A day gone by quickly.

But now is the time you've all been waiting for. No, there are no speeches from the mayor, which is not to say I wasn't hanging out with the mayor today, as he's my old band director and was directing me at Church Practice, but with a few fanfares and flourishes, let's unveil the new denette!

First of all we have to have some pictures of the old denette. Here's one.

Damn, that is an old picture. Those curtains were up when I moved, and I took them down in the first couple of weeks. As you can see, it was a pretty dark and dingy place.

Up there's a view from the old desk. With the old TV. And the old monitor. And hey, I remember when I had that magnet game on my refrigerator! (I took it off because it kept coming off when I opened the fridge door, and marbles would fly everywhere.)

Here's one more of old den.

Yep, and that was about what it looked like. The carpet was certainly cleaner.

And now may I present the new denette, or what two coats of paint, lots of elbow grease, and a new desk will do for you.

Ahhh, now doesn't that lighten up things a bit? And even though the desk is quite a bit bigger than the old one, the fact that it doesn't have a hutch atop it tends to make the room more spacious. How about another view?

And one more, just to say we gave it its due.

There. I'm really happy with it, which is good, because I'm never ever, and I mean ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, doing it again.

And how about a round of applause for that little old deskmaker himself, Mr M. A very tired Mr M, he was when this one was taken.

And no more magnet games on the refrigerator.

Yes, after all that, and Church Practice, I still had 30 minutes before "The Amazing Race" began tonight and I decided to whip up a little recipe du jour for you. I can even make the cards again, everything is back up and running.

This is dedicated to those of you who are shoveling out from under all that snow. And dying to get outside and make your first snowman of the season. Well, here's a fun number from the "Southern Gentleman's Breakfast" file at cardland, and say hello to it now if you will, it's Grit Man!

What a cheery way to start the morning. This fellow begins with some instant grits (as many as you like, depending on what size snowman you want - if you're planning on putting your snowman out in the yard, I'd suggest 50 boxes and a big cauldron). Now, you must remember to go heavy on the grits and light on the water to get the consistency you need for the grit man. After he's done, just go wild. Please. Go wild, wilder than I did, because I have a rather empty refrigerator at the moment. However, my grit man has olive buttons, bean eyes, and even though it may look like a slug, it's not, it's a pickle for his mouth. Top with a hat and you have a breakfast, well, you have something. Personally, I don't like grits.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the by, I've found it much easier doing Picture Sunday if the pictures are aligned to the left instead of the center. Remember that if you're a picture uploader using blogger.
* Also by the by, if you're looking to mold something out of edible substances, try mashed potatoes. Grits are definitely not "art food." I'm really not even sure if they're an edible substance, come to think of it.