Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ice Required, But No Dancing Allowed

I'm going to go on a rant tonight. And what's worse, I'm going to go on a rant tonight about something no one cares anything about.

Ice dancing.

Now, I don't even care about ice dancing. Pretty much, I don't care about figure skating at all anymore. I used to. I used to really love watching it, at least the amateur kind like are in the Olympics. The professional kind, and especially the professional kind featuring people in Cookie Monster costumes noodling around on the ice, not so much. Let me make that clear right now. But figure skating has undergone some major changes in the last few years and has become incredibly boring and predictable, and so I gave figure skating its ring back, even though we still remained on speaking terms. Lately, though, I don't care to speak, and figure skating can do whatever, with or without me. In fact, the only thing currently that excites me the littlest bit about it all is the rise and fall and fall and rise and fall of Johnny Weir, American skater and effeminate goofy snot-nosed little brat, who most of the skating establishment hates but I love simply for the fact that one never knows if he'll skate the performance of his life or fall once, give the judges the finger, and leave the ice. I really like that.

Anyway, due to some boring TV prospects this weekend, I found myself watching the US Nationals in figure skating. And it all came back to me 1) how little I care about it all, 2) how even though it's very little indeed, it's still enough to incense me while watching, and 3) how ice dancing is just shit.

Now, here's my take on ice dancing. It's just shit. Yeah, I know, I've already said that, but I thought I'd reiterate it. It's always been shit, they wouldn't even recognize it as a sport till 1976, when cocaine was big and someone on the board apparently snorted a little too much of it, but there you go. Ice dancing in its early days was, oddly enough, dancing on ice. You know, people holding onto each other and waltzing around. Boring, yes, but at least aptly named.

Then there began an offshoot ice dancing movement, the militant faction I call the Respresentationals. I don't know who started the Representational Movement, but I wish I did so I could find them and pummel them into chiffon and sequin pancakes. I'm blaming it on the Russians, and I think I'm probably right in doing this, but anyway, the Representationals decided that ice dancing should become ballet on ice. And so they began picking out music from famous operas and ballets and putting on their own little four-minute dramas. Apparently it promoted ice dancing to modern art, and the old style of dancing became Dogs Playing Poker.

And suddenly, the Representationals had strategized their way to a major coup, and the old "hold onto me, I'm boring and lonely" waltzers were prisoners of war. And the Representationals went hog wild and pig crazy with power.

Generally, here's how an ice dancing routine goes these days. Blaring, bombastic music, something like Wagner's Ring Cycle, and each dancer in a couple is "something." He's the devil, and she's the good soul trying not to be cast into the pit of hell. She's a statue, and he's the man who falls in love with her, hoping one day she'll come to life. They're salt and pepper shakers at the Last Supper. He's a tree, she's a dog. You get the idea. Then as the music blasts, they dip and turn over the ice, faces contorted to show pain and longing ("Oh, woe is me! Judas needs more pepper!"), and they raise their arms skyward in between twizzles and frappes and lifts where her nether regions are way too close to his face. And at some point, one or both of them end up lying down writhing around on the ice.

Get it? It's just shit.

About the only time a figure skating watcher gets a reprieve from all this sturm and drang is during the World Championships, when there is an Israeli couple in the competition. Israeli couples always dance to Jewish music. And no, this isn't some sort of ethnic slur, it's a real fact of life, a fact for which I am extremely grateful, because it's usually klezmer music which is danceable and fun and easy on the ears. They never win, but by God, at least they're in there representing the prisoners of war from the old skating days.

Cut back to the weekend, though, and the US Nationals. I was the lucky viewer of the whole damn thing, at least where ice dancing was concerned. I got to see about four couples. The first was a couple wherein the girl was American and the man was Russian, and they did the whole "I'm a Wal-Mart employee and she's a shopper who comes in to buy a rifle, but shoots herself while trying it out, and I carry her around a lot while she demises." They got a very high score, as you might imagine.

Then there was a couple that skated - and I know you think I'm making this up, but I'm not - to side 2 of "Abbey Road." Now, normally I'd think that was a pretty damn cool proposition, but I thought it was horrendous instead, for two reasons. 1) I can't believe they let people skate in these competitions now to vocalized music, and 2) they left out "Mean Mr Mustard" and "Polythene Pam," which were really the two songs I most wanted to see someone skate to. (They left out "Her Majesty," too.) They really sucked, simply because they just skated around to this album, not dancing but also not doing anything special with the songs playing. They could have been playing any music and it would have all been the same. They got a fair score, but not as good as the Russian Wal-Mart employee and the dead shopper.

Then came a young couple who did some sort of "I'm a goofball in a velvet bolero vest and she's my Egyptian girlfriend" thing, and they showed a lot of promise, but they made the fatal mistake of smiling throughout their routine. As we all know, ice dancing is like the Oscars. Just as no comedy can win the Oscar, no smiling dancers are allowed at the ice dancing rink. The intro to their performance, though, was my favorite moment of the night. The short program competition in ice dancing is called the original dance, or OD, and the rink announcer proudly said about them, "In third place after the OD...." I kept thinking, "Damn, if they hadn't OD'd, they might have been in first."

Then came the defending champs and current world medalists. Their names are Belbin and Agosto, and as ice dancers go, I like these folks. They've climbed their way up the world ice dancing ladder by sheer talent and grit, for they have two serious things going against them. They're American, and they're not Representationals.

Now by the way, and I kind of promised myself I wouldn't even get into this, but I guess I will, because it comes into play here. All of my above didn't take into consideration the additional reason ice dancing is shit, the judging. Couples are sort of pre-picked for placement, just like in pre-season football polls, and most top couples get major leeway in their performances. I've seen ice dancing couples actually fall, go sprawling across the ice with a thud, and still win a competition. This is just ludicrous, for we all know that if skaters who aren't even doing jumps fall on the ice, they should be disqualified and asked to leave the building.

Then there's that "other" judging problem.

See, Belbin and Agosto (B & A) had a routine for this year's competitive season, I saw it some weeks ago, and it was - gasp and knee-weakness - a prisoner of war "hold onto me and dance" routine. They did it to actual dancing music, and even had the audacity to smile like they were having fun out there. And the judges didn't like this. The judges, this Representational Movement Firing Squad, disliked this old-school routine so much that no matter how well it was performed, B & A's competition placement hovered around fifth or sixth every time they took the ice. And so with all that judicial leaning-upon, B & A had no choice but to change their routine.

Yes, actually change their routine, mere weeks before the US Nationals.

B & A were the last couple to take the ice, and so they did, and they did their new routine. It wasn't so much "I'm a lonely shepherd and she's an unruly sheep who won't join the flock," as it was "I'm a guy who would much rather be doing my old routine, and ditto for her." They did their moves to some bland tuneless music, and took first place. And that's a shame, not that they won, but because it was no more difficult than the original routine, and far less entertaining and interesting.

And I doubt they'll go any further this year in the world ice dancing realm. Unless they decide to work that unruly sheep idea into things.

While we're at it, there is an ice skating move that needs to be outlawed. Used to be that only men did this move, but now men, women, and especially couples are doing it all over the place. It's a move where the skater spreads the legs and bends the knees and puts them in opposite directions, then zips along the ice, and it looks like this.





















It's as ugly as homemade sin, and we need to write to someone to have it axed. Well, we'd need to if we cared. We don't care, though, do we?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, give me some advice.
- Honorable Mention goes to Flipsycab, with her "Try knowledge: titillate others learnedly, yearly."
- Runner-Up goes to DeepFatFriar, with his "Talk kindly to old ladies, y'all."
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her "To know total outrageousness, learn yoga."
- Thanks to all who played. You've all done very well!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Acrochallenge!

Hello, acroites! Welcome to another mind-numbing round of acromania.

I gave some advice earlier in the day. Don't you just love it when people give you unsolicited advice? Just makes your day. Anyway, that brings us to our acrotopic, "Advice." Just think of it this way, fill in whatever comes after, "A very wise man once said to me...."

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's advice? "Play the letters you're dealt." Then at 10pm est tomorrow I shall be reading the winners, who don't need any advice from me, and the non-winners, who'll get an earful.

This week's topic, "Advice." The letters:

T K T O L Y

Take my advice - acro now.

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

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Picture Sunday

Well, hello there, end of weekenders! As you all know, I was iced in last week and that left you without a Picture Sunday, but this week I'm making up for it. Chockfull of pictures tonight, we are.

Now, I have to start with that little nugget in the corner. Yes, that photo is of none other than my very own nephew. Last Friday (that would be Friday the 19th) was the lad's 18th birthday. I guess officially he's not really a lad anymore. Anyway, he began the celebration of being 18 by playing the National Anthem at his school's basketball game. On the electric guitar. Yes, did his own little Jimi Hendrix, without the behind-the-head move and the pyrotechnics. He had to rein it in, as he lobbied to get the gig, and knew that if he wants it again, he couldn't go too nuts.

Anyway, it was very sweet, and I had to give him his props with a picture.

You podcastees (to the hucklebug) already know that that was my highlight of the week last week. Now for a little preview. My highlight of this week.

I went to see the Hackensaw Boys!

Yes, I know you all think I go see the Hackensaw Boys every night. I promise you I don't, and it's hard to believe it's been well over three months, in fact, almost four months, since last I saw my boys.

It was Morgantown, WV again, a place they sure seem to love playing, and though I can't say I'm much of a fan of the town (or the University contained in it), I always have such a good time at the old 123 Pleasant Street club, and always seem to meet some nice people while I'm there.

But let's get to the pictures, and the big news of the night is that after several months away from the touring life, new dad Mahlon Hackensaw is back mandolining it with the band. Great to see him, and I believe a round of applause is in order. You may begin now.





















OK, so he's not mandolining it in this photo, he's BabyJ's baby guitaring it, but that's OK. He was in fine form.

You know, speaking of Mahlon, I found myself uttering a line to Mr M last night after it was all over (in the very wee hours of the morning), a line I couldn't imagine myself ever saying. "Sometimes I find myself actually too close to the action. I mean, what kind of pictures can I take as close as I was tonight, other than up someone's nostril?"

I mean, don't get me wrong, I love it when the Boys come down into the audience and start to jam. It's a total blast, especially if I'm lucky enough to tag in behind one of them so I can end up right on the peripherals of the action. That's what happened last night. Not only did I get hit in the head with Mahlon's mandolin, but I had to switch places with the Kooky-Eyed Fox so he could get into the band instead of me. However, his shoulder made a terrific tripod for taking pictures. Anyway, though, this is kind of what I meant about the nostril statement. In particular, Mahlon's.


















Other news included a tentative April date for the new album, and several songs from the new album in the set. It's going to be a good one.

Between the facts that the Boys came out into the audience, that they also played for an extended time right at the front of the stage, and that I'd staked out my usual "close as you can get" spot in the club, I came out with some really fun pictures. In fact, it took me forever to go through them and edit them, and choose what goes in tonight - I took an astounding 63 photos.

How about my buddy Ferd, I'm sure you're all asking. This was my favorite Ferd pic of the night, with the flying hair. I think this sums up the ball of joy that is Ferd Hackensaw in a nutshell.

















Never stops smiling, that boy.

Of course, we have to have a shot of Baby J Hackensaw, don't we? What a cutie. Bass, accordion, harmonica, guitar, vocals. Is there anything he can't do?





















In fact, how about one more of Baby J? This is during the "let's all go play in the audience," featuring the Kooky-Eyed Fox as tripod for my photography.





















After the show, Mr M and I had a nice conversation with Cousin Spits Hackensaw (guitar). He really is a nice fellow, to whom I confessed my secret that I'm scared to death to talk to all those guys. I don't know why, as friendly as they are. He seemed excited to get Mr M's business card, I'm not even sure what that was all about, and gave me some hints as to what the new album will contain. This photo is called, "One More."


















The "One More" of course refers to one more song before we all had to go back out into the cold. However, for tonight it has a double meaning, as in, "How about one more photo before we pack up the old photo bag for another week."

Before the night's festivities began, in fact, even before the opening band had completed their hour-long soundcheck, I heard some music coming from the bar area, which was a different room from the stage area. Just on a whim, I picked up my camera and went into the bar, where the Hackensaws were having a little practice session. I almost didn't continue in, since no one else was around and I was afraid of making a nuisance of myself, but I popped in just long enough to snap one picture. And I'm glad I did, because it might be my favorite picture I've ever taken of the Boys.



















And a good time was had by all. Except my 46-year old knees, who still aren't quite over all the dancing. Who cares, though, sure was fun at the time.

OK, that fun and frivolity out of the way, let's get to the recipe du jour. I decided since the theme here this week was the Hackensaw Boys, I needed to keep with the program where the recipe was concerned. So from the "Dancin' Dishes" file at cardland, please say hello if you will to Mac'n'saws.


















What self-respecting bluegrass fan would be anything less than thrilled to find the Mac'n'saws at his or her table? All you need to do is to make up some macaroni and cheese (the Mac of our recipe), and add some breadcrumbs along the top (the saws - as in sawdust, get it?). A meal fit for Bill Monroe himself, I'd say, or at least Ferd.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Line of the trip: in the car, Mr M mentioned that Mr Peabody (who was in my suitcase - Sherman always rides on the dashboard) had been reading, said, "I found out what he's been reading. He's been reading Boswell's 'Johnson.'" Then he had the audacity to start laughing before I could even come up with a smutty double entendre. How dare he.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


And The Shelly Goes To....

Hi, blogees. Well, today was the day I'd been waiting for. None other than, yes, no less a person than Alan F Arkin himself was nominated for an Academy Award. It's been some 38 years since that happened, and that's a long time coming for someone so talented.

And now I'm happy. Because as much as I want him to win an Oscar, the nomination was really what I was hoping for. And he got it. He may not win, probably won't, but at least he got in the race. And his little time in the spotlight on February 25, whether he wins or not, will be about a minute of the broadcast.

That's just not enough for Mr F Arkin. So guess what. I'm putting on my own awards ceremony. Sit back as the Academy of Motion Pictures Starring Alan F Arkin (AMPSAFA) brings you - The Shellies!

[fade in. peppy horn music.]

Bet: Hellooooo! Hello to all, and welcome to that most special of nights, the Shellies. The Shellies are of course named for one of Alan Arkin's most famous characters. And speaking of characters, how about that George Bush! [shot of Jack Nicholson laughing] He can just fuck off, can't he? Oh, I can't say "fuck off" on TV, can I? Oops! Take it away, Alan Arkin Dancers!

[cue production number]

He's an actor! He's a singer!
In "Catch-22" he gave someone the finger!
He's got talent - you can't deny
Everyone says he's a hell of a guy!

He's Alan Arkin, Our Alan Arkin
Yes, Alan is a hell of a guy!

Bet: Oh, aren't they something? Let's give them a hand. Boy, this is better than the Oscars already, isn't it. [shot of Jack Nicholson talking to date] But let's get right to our first award of the evening. Best Actor in an Alan Arkin Supporting Role. The nominees are:

Alan Arkin, Milo, "Magicians"
Alan Arkin, Burt Kessler, "Hearts of the West"
Alan Arkin, George Kraft, "Mother Night"
Alan Arkin, Sigmund Freud, "The Seven Per Cent Solution"
Alan Arkin, George Aaronow, "Glengarry Glen Ross"

And the Shelly goes to ... [opening of envelope] Alan Arkin, Burt Kessler, "Hearts of the West!"

[prolonged applause, western music] Well, it appears Mr Arkin couldn't be here tonight, but the Academy (AMPSAFA) accepts this award on his behalf.

And to help us present our next award, I'm honored to introduce one of our finest actresses, Meryl Streep! [applause, shot of Jack Nicholson giving Meryl the once-over]

Meryl! You're looking lovely tonight, as usual. Boy, you sure were a bitch in that movie, so they say, I haven't seen it yet. I will, though, I will. So you've never done a movie with Mr Alan Arkin, have you?

Meryl: Well, no, I haven't, I...

Bet: Why not? Why the hell not? You too good for him? You and your accents, think you're better than Mr Arkin? You couldn't tie his shoelaces, you hack.

Meryl: I beg your pardon?

Bet: No, no, it's all a joke, we're really good friends, aren't we?

Meryl: I've never laid eyes on you before in my life!

Bet: Yeah, yeah, whatever. [shot of Jack Nicholson laughing] Anyhoo.

Meryl: The next award is for Best Actress Supporting Alan Arkin in a Role. And the nominees are:

Abigail Breslin, supporting Alan Arkin in "Little Miss Sunshine"
Madeline Kahn, supporting Alan Arkin in "Simon"
Sally Kellerman, supporting Alan Arkin in "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins"
Sondra Locke, supporting Alan Arkin in "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
Audrey Hepburn, supporting Alan Arkin in "Wait Until Dark"

And the Shelly goes to ... [opening of envelope] Sondra Locke, supporting Alan Arkin in "The Heart is a Loney Hunter!" [prolonged applause, shot of Jack Nicholson clapping] Well, it seems Ms Locke couldn't be here tonight...

Bet: Where the hell else could she be??

Meryl [looking away]: ...the Academy (AMPSAFA) accepts this award on her behalf.

Bet: Damn. That Meryl Streep. She needs to loosen up. And now, how about some music? Let's bring out the Alan Arkin Dancers again! [audible groans from the audience] Ha-haaaaa, I got you with that one. No, I'm happy to present the Best Song Alan F Arkin Sings in a Movie nominees.

"I Saw Three Ships," sung by Mr Arkin in "Edward Scissorhands," sung tonight by Sting!
"Ain't Gonna Grieve My Lord No More," sung by Mr Arkin in "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins," sung tonight by the Hackensaw Boys!
"That French Song," sung by Mr Arkin in "Inspector Clouseau," sung tonight by Andy Williams!
"That Weird And Mumbly Possible Hymn," sung by Mr Arkin in "Deadhead Miles," sung tonight by a small portion of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!

Let's hear it for those Hackensaw Boys! [shot of Jack Nicholson applauding enthusiastically] And the Shelly goes to ... [opening of envelope] "Ain't Gonna Grieve My Lord No More," from "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins!"

[prolonged applause, shot of Jack Nicholson smiling and clapping] Well, apparently Mr Arkin couldn't be here tonight, so the Academy would like to present this award to ... the Hackensaw Boys! Come on out, boys, give us a kiss.

In an award presented earlier this evening to Mr Arkin, who wasn't here to accept it, the best short film went to "People Soup." Thank you.

Now, to our directing award. To help out with the directing award, I'd like to introduce esteemed director Woody Allen! [shot of Jack Nicholson clapping enthusiastically]

Woody: Hello Bet.

Bet: Woodman! How's the wife? How's the daughter? How's the wife and daughter? [shot of Jack Nicholson going, "Ooooh!"]

Woody: I don't like you. I like Alan Arkin, though. We're New Yorkers. You're not. I don't like you at all.

Bet: Think I care? Hey, these pretzels are making me thirsty!

Woody: Oh, yeah, how many times have I heard that? Hey! You kicked me!

Bet: Did not.

Woody: Yes, you did! You kicked me in the shin! Jack, did you see her kick me in the shin? [shot of Jack Nicholson nodding]

Bet: Did not. Present the award.

Woody: Only if you stop kicking me. OK. Just stand over there. The nominees for Best Director of an Alan Arkin Movie Directed by Alan Arkin are:

Alan Arkin, "Fire Sale"
Alan Arkin, "Little Murders"

And the Shelly goes to ... stop kicking me! ... [opening of envelope] Alan Arkin, "Little Murders." Ouch! [Woody runs offstage]

Bet: Ehh, go sort your reeds. Seems Mr Arkin couldn't be here tonight, so the Academy accepts this award on his behalf.

And now, it's time for Best Actor in an Alan F Arkin movie! The nominees are:

Alan F Arkin, Sheldon Kornpett, "The In-Laws"
Alan F Arkin, Cooper the Truck Driver, "Deadhead Miles"
Alan F Arkin, Mr Singer, "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter"
Alan F Arkin, Yossarian, "Catch-22"
Alan F Arkin, Gunny Rafferty, "Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins"

And the Shelly goes to ... [opening of envelope] Alan F Arkin, Yossarian, "Catch-22!" Seems Alan F Arkin couldn't be here tonight, so the Academy (AMPSAFA) accepts this award on his behalf.

It's time for our final award of the evening. [shot of Jack Nicholson clapping enthusiastically] Yes, it's the Best Picture Starring Alan Arkin. And the nominees are:

"The In-Laws," starring Alan Arkin
"Deadhead Miles," starring Alan Arkin
"Catch-22," starring Alan Arkin
"The Heart is a Lonely Hunter," starring Alan Arkin
"Little Miss Sunshine," starring Alan Arkin

And the Shelly goes to ... [opening of envelope] "The In-Laws," starring Alan Arkin! Ha! Guess they don't call it the Shelly for nothin', huh. Seems Alan Arkin couldn't be here, so the Academy accepts this award on his behalf.

Well, that brings our little ceremony to an end for this year, but be sure to tune in next year when we'll beeeeeeaaaaaarrrrrrghhhhhhh!

[Woody Allen runs out onstage and pummels Bet into oblivion]

[shot of Jack Nicholson clapping enthusiastically]

[fade to black]

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, tell me about ice.
- Honorable Mentions go to LilyG, with her, "Louie, you'se iced Joe?" and DeepFatFriar, with his, "Like, yo, it jelled!"
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie, with her, "Lookout! Yonder icy junglegym!"
- And this week's winner goes to Flipsycab, with her, "Leaves you in jail." Boy, does it.
- Thanks to all who played. You've all done very well!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Acrochallenge!

Hello, Monday sentence-makers! Welcome to another round of acromania.

Well, for those of you who popped in earlier for a Picture Sunday, and didn't find one, let me say it wasn't my fault. I was in B'burg this weekend when the whole town was the lucky recipient of an ice storm. I tried leaving yesterday, but it didn't take. I got from Mr M's to the farthest B'burg exit on the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway, realized it was not going to work, and went back to Mr M's. Where I stayed, got up this morning, came back to B'field and TheCompanyIWorkFor, and, well, no Picture Sunday.

And with that little explanation, here's this week's acrotopic. "Ice."

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 doesn't mind the occasional weather condition, but then again, he owns no car and doesn't have to be at work. Then tomorrow night at 10 est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will be frozen until the year of their choosing, and the non-winners, who will be frozen till the year of my choosing.

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

L Y I J

Egads. Sorry. Well, try and acro anyway.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* No update. Time to podcast.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Blogger Is Kind Of Like Boggle, Only With An R

Hello.

Guess what I did tonight. Well, got my hair cut, drank some wine, made up some homemade chicken salad, ate some of the previously mentioned (not hair, chicken salad), dried linens, paid bills, and indulged in my dirty little secret, "American Idol." In other words, I didn't think up an intelligent and insightedly pointed blog.

I have another dirty little secret, too. Well, possibly more than one, but one that's kind of stuck in my head lately. It mainly happens when I'm bored.

Remember the game Boggle? Sure you do. A plastic box with letter dice in it, you turn that box upside down and shake it like nobody's business, then turn it back over and try to make words with the letters on connected dice? Peggy Hill from "King of the Hill" was a Boggle champion. I'm not. But that still doesn't stop me from playing it.

Yes, I play Boggle, though I don't have the game. And I never get a new shake and new set of letters. Because I play Boggle - on my keyboard.

I'm not sure exactly when this little activity began to take up my time. Probably on a slow day at work, but for about the past year or so, when I'm computer-bound and not willing to pay attention to the task at hand, I start scanning the letters on my keyboard. And try to make words with the connecting letters.

This is quite difficult, because the man (or woman) who decided where each letter should go was apparently a complete idiot. This person put O, I, and U right together, side by side by side, then stuck an E way away from them, and an A even farther away. Practically in no man's land, that A is. And so if one is lucky enough to find a word or two among the letters, it's a short word. A short word indeed. I've not found one single word over four letters, and that's not going to win me a Boggle championship.

I'm sure convenience was the watchword when making up the keyboard, I mean, it makes sense that the Z and the Q are up and down in far corners, to be hit by pinkies because they're so rarely used. In fact, on the right side of the keyboard, the corresponding keys to the Q and Z are the [ and the /. And I'll bet that makes the Q and Z feel pretty bad. However, the U is right there in the thick of things, a key to be hit with the index finger. Qs and Us go hand in hand. Why isn't the U a pinky key?

I also don't like that the 3 is right above the E. This causes a lot of problems, for me, anyway, mainly because I think 3 and E look alike. They're mirror images, but mirror images of the same shape. This placement also causes me to mistype a great many words by including a "silent 3" in them. I guess I just like to reach.

And while we're at it, I'm not fond of the C and the X being side by side, because every time I type, "Back in a sec," it comes out, "Back in a sex" the first time, which is normally a lie anyway, plus I have to take a few extra secs (or sexes) to go back and correct it.

Now that we all (OK, so I'm sure there are some cool people out there still hammering away on typewriter keyboards) type at our computers, we have to be polite to the Enter key. Which I'm willing to do, but he's not in the most convenient of places, either. He's right there beside the ", or quotation mark, and I often find myself ending a quote not by closing it out with a quotation mark, but by immediately going to the next paragraph when I mistakenly hit "Enter."

Qs and Us are spread out all over creation, but the parentheses are right there side by side. Which causes me to mix them up, often typing something )like this( before I finally go back and (get it right). And I don't even want to get started on dashes, equals, and underscores. My pinky's feeling all over the damn place trying to pick the right keys on those, and scores about 30% )or is that 30$( (sorry) of the time.

Anyway, back to Keyboard Boggle. Here's a short list - get it? it's a list, and it's short! the short list is the only list! - of words I've found I can make from connecting keys on the keyboard.

Saw
Was
Awe
Awed
Sawed (holy shit, five letters!)
Red
Reds
Sew
Dew
Lop
Poi
Fred (if proper names are allowed)
Serf

And if I'm allowed to track back over letters

Swede
Deer
Reed
Reeds (five fantabulous letters!)
Loop
Pool
Loo
PooPoo

Anyway, it kills me that right there all together are P-O-L-K, and the damn A is over there in no man's land. And me in a German band.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what else do you all use toothpaste for? Take it away, Mr M:
- This week's Honorable Mention goes to me, just because of who I am. (And because no one else played, grumble, grumble.)
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie (with an [grumble] ie), with her "Paul did lick, eventually barfed."
- And this week's [grumble] winner goes to LilyG, with her "Pepperminty denture/Lego-erected buildings."
- Thanks to those who played. No grumbling from me. And thanks, Mr M, for being acromaster.
* And while we're at it, how about the Picture Sunday answers.
1. A snippet of my vinyl collection. (Mike was correct, but also mentioned that this was my entire vinyl collection. You wish, Mike.)
2. A pair of sneakers, taken from the heel view.
3. A peek into my pots and pans cabinet, with my pasta strainer, metal mixing bowl, and a couple of Pyrex baking dishes.
4. The inside of my washing machine. (Though "iron" was a very good answer.)
* PooPoo (I just like saying "PooPoo")

Monday, January 15, 2007

Acrochallenge!

Hello, all you Monday letter lovers, and welcome to another round of acromania.

We have a guest acromaster this week. I'm taking a break and kicking back. So let's turn it over to the esteemed Mr M, who'll be doing the honors.

[grumble grumble grumble acrochallenge grumble I could do it better grumble grumble etc]

That of course is Mr M's way of saying, welcome to acro and here is your acrotopic for this week's challenge: "Other Uses For Toothpaste."

All the other rules are the same [grumble grumble they already know the rules]. Everyone gets three entries [grumble, that's too many] 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 and Mr M get along nicely, thanks [grumble grumble, from both]. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est Mr M will be reading the entries, and grumbling, and naming the winners, who must be pretty special if they pass his test, and the non-winners, which I'm sure he will point and laugh at.

So the topic? "Other Uses For Toothpaste." The letters:

PDLEB

So, stop playing with your toothpaste and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Thanks, Ellen. I'm not much the fan of your show, but you not only had the entire cast of "Little Miss Sunshine" on today, but had them play musical chairs as well. Alan F Arkin almost won.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another round of "12 hours and I'll be slaving away for another week" Picture Sunday.

Tonight's Picture Sunday comes from a suggestion from Mr M. Now, I have to tell you that although the suggestion tonight was his, I've thought of doing this over the time that Picture Sunday has come to permeate my life, or at least my weekend.

One of my favorite magazines of all time, Games Magazine, used to have a regular feature called Eyeball Benders, and it was a page of strange photographs, of strange things and tiny bits of not-so-strange things, and your job was to guess what the photos were of. And so I'm lifting that idea from my favorite and (I think) now-defunct magazine. We won't call it theft, we'll call it an homage. Which brings us right flat-ass into Picture Sunday - The Play At Home Version.

Yes, I have some pictures here, and it is your job to guess what they are. We'll start with an easy one.




















Yeah, everybody got that one, didn't they? I sucked at Eyeball Benders and I would have gotten that one. So let's try one now that's a little harder.





















OK, that wasn't too painful, was it? It's a common item most people have, or should have, in their very own homes.

So let's do to another one, shall we?




















That one may be a little harder, so I'll give you a small hint. Think "Picture Sunday" on that one. Or all of these all too easy? If so, I can make them really, really harder on another night.

Finally, here's the last one. See if this rings any bells. And no, that wasn't a hint.





















Looks like a gray cookie to me, actually. Then again, everything looks like a cookie to me.

If you have answers, just be sure to shout them out in the comments, and I'll post the answers later in the week. As if you don't already know them all.

And now, yes, it's time for that very bewitching time of evening, the recipe du jour. Ahhh, yes, television. Well, a movie first, then as happens sometimes, television later. It's hard to get kids to eat a good healthy breakfast, and sometimes we need help from a higher power. No, not Him, I meant the TV. And so with that in mind, from the "TV-Inspired Breakfasts" file at cardland, say hello to "Kiss My Grits."


















Ahh, yes! Fresh from their appearance as the Grit Man, grits make a triumphant return to the recipe du jour. Inspired by Flo from the TV show "Alice" (the name of Mr M's kitty, of course, and I wonder if Robbie Fulks' song "Dirty Mouthed Flo" was based on that particular Flo), any kid would want to dig right into his grits if served this way. All you need are some quick-cooking grits (simple and oh-so versatile, if you're a recipe du jour maker), and a big juicy pair of red lips. Now, I know not everyone has the lip whistle that I keep for the Sauerkraut Band, but a nice pair of wax lips would work just fine, thanks. You could even try a wax mustache in there, or some wax fangs, but it wouldn't be the same. Flo never said, "Kiss my fangs," or, "Kiss my mustache."

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Update of the highest order. My clarinet playing was complimented by Mr M this weekend. He's apparently happy I don't go all hinky over playing fast anymore. Or, Mr M, maybe I'm just hiding it better! Ha-haaaa! You never thought of that, did you?

Friday, January 12, 2007

It's An Odd World

Yes, it certainly is. I find that out all the time around here, when I least expect it.

Last night I was ordering a few musical items from the Woodwind and Brasswind website, some clarinet reeds and I even splashed out on a ligature for myself just because it looked interesting. I'll bite on just about anything for the clarinet that looks interesting, against the wishes of Mr M, because it's all normally crap, but interesting-looking crap nonetheless.

Anyway, Woodwind Brasswind, or WWBW as they call themselves, sell all manners of musical items, some expensive and some not. But imagine my surprise when I entered the little page there to order my clarinet reeds and found that I could finance them for only $15.00 a month!

The reeds cost $13.89.

And so I chuckled a bit and then found the ligature, which is cool-looking and a probable piece of crap, because it was only $35.99, but I can also finance it for $15.00 a month, so I guess everything's financable at WWBW. A thumbrest? 99 ¬Ācents, but you can finance it for $15.00 a month! A bargain, sign up now!

This is, if you'll recall, but you probably won't because it was a long time ago, the same website that when I was looking for teeth cushions (to keep me biting a hole in my lip), gave me a list of related items, a list containing about six different sets of bagpipes. That I could finance for $15.00 a month, I'm guessing.

Anyway, I got my shipping confirmation tonight and found that they're sending me a saxophone version of the sure-to-be craptastic ligature, so I won't get to use it anyway, at least not for a long time since I'll have to exchange it. I think Mr M may have had something to do with this, but I can't prove it.

I cleaned my house tonight, and cleaned it quite well, thanks, and decided to celebrate by taking a post-cleaning bath. I ran the water and as I did so, prepared to slide a "why do I bother" single serving frozen meal into the oven. I wasn't expecting much, which was a good thing because it wasn't, but as I was reading the directions, here's what I saw.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Do not exceed 350 degrees. (I almost went to 355, just to be snotty about it.)
2. Remove tray from carton, pull back plastic cover to vent. (I wonder if anyone ever forgets and just puts box and all in there?)
3. Place tray on baking sheet on middle oven rack. (When I was young I used to think that meant, "On the middle of the oven rack." I was always very careful not to slide it too far back. I'm smarter now.)
4. Cook for 30 minutes. (Now, I personally don't call putting pre-made, pre-cooked, and possibly pre-digested crap in a plastic tray into the oven cooking, but if they want to make me feel better about it all, fine, they can have at it.)
5. When removing from oven, keep tray on baking sheet. (Lest ye spill.) Let stand 1-2 minutes. (I swear, for a moment, without my glasses, I thought it said, "Let's stand 1-2 minutes," and I almost did.) Stir and enjoy.

OK. I'll stir, but I dare you to order me to enjoy this! I refuse to enjoy it, and I didn't, because the potatoes were lumpy and the chicken was three tiny chips of meat drowned in some thick brown sauce. I shall not enjoy it!

After the meal and before chatting tonight, I decided to brush my teeth, and was shocked to find that my toothpaste came with directions. I guess I've been living under the assumption all these years that toothbrushing was something that came naturally.

1. For adults and children over 2 years. (Because, well, those are the people who generally have teeth. Please don't brush your baby's gums because you think it would be "a good idea.")
2. Brush after meals or twice a day or as directed by a dentist. (I'm sure the toothpaste people are hoping your dentist tells you to brush each time you swallow, but what if your dentist, who loves money and to fill teeth, says, "Brushing is optional?")
3. Do not swallow. (I've never understood this one. We stick it in our mouths twice a day, but we can't swallow? I guess that could read, "Do not swallow. Unless you are stranded in the Andes and it's toothpaste or Bob.")

It's a shame they didn't tell me to enjoy it, because I enjoyed it way more than I did the frozen dinner.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My snack later in the evening was some unsalted dry roasted peanuts, and I liked what that jar had to say to me. "Ingredients: Peanuts." However, they then went and ruined it all by having a warning. "Allergy Warning: Contains peanuts."
* You can't win.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Beating A Dead Horse

It's Tuesday here in Betland. Tuesday has a couple of distinctions around here. One's generally (though certainly not always) good, and one's generally not so good.

The good is that Tuesday is Blog In Earnest Day around here, the night I try to post an honest to God I wrote it myself blog. That's normally pretty fun, for me, anyway, although on those nights when I'm stumped for ideas it tends to lose its luster. The not so good thing is that Tuesday is bad mail day.

I don't know what it is, but for the whole of my mail-getting life, Tuesday has been the worst day for mail. I love mail, you know, get excited when the post office box pops open and I see my take for the day, be it bills, cards, letters, or that most wonderful of golden treats, the "you have a package too big for your box, so come to the postal window to pick it up" card.

I guess I've been pretty spoiled lately too, with Christmas and packages I'd ordered arriving, and packages from kind people arriving, and holiday cards and CDs from the Mix Exchange winging their ways to me. Even bad Tuesdays were tolerable, with the occasional card coming in.

But this week it was business as usual, and today when the mail came, I was the recipient of three lousy pieces of mail. A statement telling me how my IRA is doing (limping along, thanks), a check to me from Citgo for $1400 (normally this would be quite the nice piece of mail, but I can only apparently use this $1400 to pay for things which will later become part of a Citgo Visa), and an envelope from the ASPCA holding my 2007 membership package.

That last one was news to me. I gave money to the ASPCA during Hurricane Katrina, and was glad to do so, but never got the first piece of mail from them until today. I've gotten email after email, email "alerts" they call them, generally telling me how they liked my money and would certainly enjoy having some more of it, but nothing tangible. But today, here was a package telling me I was a member for 2007, over a year since I gave them money the first time without inclusion into their little club.

I got a welcoming letter, telling me again they liked my money and liked it so much they could find lots of places for more of it, and a membership card which I still don't understand. I mean, sure, I understand what a membership card is, it's a card that says you're a member, but this card is quite odd. It's a little piece of cardboard with "ASPCA 2007" emblazoned across the top of it, and has a picture of a dog and cat, and in the mouth of each is a plastic "conversation bubble." You know, the little things over cartoon people's heads holding their words. Only these animals aren't cartoons, they're real, and the way they're holding these plastic conversation bubbles in their mouths is not natural, nor aesthetically pleasing, and I found myself wondering if it was up to me to come up with some catchy phrases to try and write into these bubbles to personalize my card. I could only come up with two ideas for this, one being the dog's bubble saying, "I need a home!" and the cat's bubble saying, "I suck the breath out of babies!" (it's an old wives' tale, you know) and the other being the dog's bubble saying, "I'm a cat!" and the cat's bubble saying, "I'm a dog!" They got them mixed up, you see. Quite humorous in the animal world.

Anyway, not knowing quite how to proceed on that one, I just put it back into the envelope with the letter expressing appreciation for my money.

Then I got an ASPCA bumper sticker. It is also emblazoned with the legend "ASPCA," and has a picture of what I suppose is their logo. And it's so odd I had to print a picture of this bumper sticker right here, right in the old blog, for you to see.















Now, I know this picture isn't very clear, it's not that clear in person, either, but in case you can't completely make it out, it's a picture of an angel, come down from heaven above, to intervene in the act of a man with a horse and carriage, and he's beating his horse to death! I guess maybe when the ASPCA came into being the act of draft horse-beating was more popular than it is now, and I know you're not going to believe this, but we used to have a client some years ago at work who actually did time for beating a horse to death. So I guess it still goes on, and I have spent a fair amount of time over the years wondering exactly what goes through a person's mind as he beats a horse to death, but that's one I fear I'll never quite figure out.

But still, this logo really bothers me. It bothers me that men beat horses to death, but I'm afraid it bothers me more that the ASPCA chooses to keep this as their logo after all these years. Why not update the angel a bit and have her coming down from heaven above to gently pat the heads of some homeless animals? Or give them a treat? Or play fetch with a divine stick?

And what bothers me more is that the ASPCA expects me to display this sticker, put it right in the window of podmobile2, so the world, or at least the passing traffic on the Betty Bet Bet Inspirational Highway, can see, courtesy of me, a man beating a horse to death. The squeamish sickened, the children crying, all right there on Rt 460. I don't think so.

I went to the ASPCA's website later in the day, and could find this logo nowhere on their page. I found the picture of the dog and cat with the awkward conversation bubbles, they're right up there at the top of the first page of the website. But no man beating a horse. Maybe they figure it will turn off prospective members, or maybe they think I once beat a horse and therefore sent this to me as a warning, or something. I'm not sure. For the record, I've never beaten a horse in my life. I want that right out here in the open.

I'm happy to be a member, though, even if I fear my membership won't become official till I send them some more money. Because, you know, they like my money.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, what was the worst New Year's resolution you ever made?
- Honorable Mentions go to River Selkie, with her, "Earn money toweling red asses," and LilyG, with her "Eat more to repel Adam." (I've done that one many years, Lily. Adam hates me now.)
- Runner-Up goes to Stennie, with her "Every morning, trim Rimsey's anus hair." (I wonder how long that lasted. Thanks, Stenns, for dating your resolutions as well.)
- And this week's winner is the DeepFatFriar, with his "Eliminate my two remaining arteries."
- Thanks to all who played, for brightening my day. You've all done very well!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Acrochallenge!

Woo Hoo! Here it is, my babies, the first acromania of 2007. So get your acro on and play.

Yes, it had to be done. It's the first one of the year. You know, as a rule I learned long ago not to make New Year's resolutions. I never keep them, then for the rest of the year (usually 11 months of it), stamp a big "F" for "Failure" on my forehead, then sit around thinking of what might have been.

But some of you might make them. Or have. Everyone's made one on some year or other. So this week's acrotopic shall be, "The Worst New Year's Resolution I Ever Made." Remember that time you resolved to eat the Christmas fruitcake by yourself, in one sitting? The year you resolved to kill Aunt Martha with a pen knife? The year you swore you'd never drive under 70mph? Yes, those.

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's resolution is to only give me z's and x's this year. We'll see. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will, as usual, receive the prize of knowing they were the best acroer of the week, and the non-winners, who, as usual, will bitch and moan about their placement.

So the topic, "The Worst New Year's Resolution I Ever Made." The letters:

E M T R A

So there you go. Start acroing!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* The acrobasket's resolution is already *pbbbbt!*

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Picture Sunday

Oh, my Lord. It couldn't be, could it? Yes, I think it is! After a lengthy absence, Picture Sunday limps back into your lives, the first PS of 2007.

Oh, dear. Where to start, where to start.... How about with Christmas?

You all know I received my ipod from Mr M, my favorite gift of the season, but I only mentioned in brief what my boy Sherman got for me. What did he get? Well, he got me a new boarder is what. Yes, folks, Quick Draw McGraw is now living at the Poderosa, and is one of "the boys."





















So, what can I tell you about the newest member of our little commune here? Well, he's a very nice fellow, gets along well with everyone, loads only caps into his pistol (I was worried about the impending gunplay, so this is good news), and likes beans. I mean, he really likes beans, and requests a pot at every meal. Even breakfast. He and Huckleberry Hound also have quite the friendly argument going on about Alabama (Huckie's home state) and Georgia (where Quick Draw spent a fair amount of time before moving here). Lots of state jokes flying back and forth.

Hey, speaking of the ipod, I finally seem to have hit upon an acceptable car solution. This little gizmo, which is an FM transmitter but has good sound, and also has the added attractions of both charging the pod and fitting in a cupholder.





















OK, so the ipod's in one cupholder, my keys (and "Bill" keychain) are in another - where in the hell am I going to put my coffee? Because, really, if I have to drive without coffee, the trip's not worth it.

Now let's move on to New Year's Eve, and the alcohol-free Sauerkraut Band gig at the church. Don't believe me? Refuse to accept that we could be playing on the altar? Well, here's proof - a special "Ein Prosit" blessing from none other than wacky trumpeter (but then again, aren't they all) Russell himself.



















Sherman and Peabody were there in full force, of course, even though they didn't have the luxury of being affixed to our stands by the stand lights (didn't use those, you see). They decided to hang in front of the pulpit at the lovely plant. Which, during the second set, Sherman decided he'd hide in.




















That boy's such a joker, I'm telling you. Just a card. Anyway, later in the evening Jude (the Corruptor) snapped a photo of a very tired me with the boys. And the plant. Really. I was starting my final sinking spell at this point. As you can tell by my hair - when my hair starts to droop, you know the end is near.





















And so there you go. Christmas and New Year's. And on to 2007, may it be picture-filled, and that's something of a prayer, because I'm hard-pressed lately to find pictures I think will interest anyone.

You know, there's an old saying. "They can't all be winners." Is that an old saying? Well, if it's not, I'm making it a saying, maybe a new saying. Keep that in mind when you take a gander at the recipe du jour this week. It was a great idea on paper, but was a little unruly in practice. Anyway, it's from the "Peppy Treats" file at cardland, and say hello to it now, Caffsicles.


















Caffsicles are for those of you who want a nice frozen treat and a pick-me-up at the same time. Therefore, these little popsicles are loaded with caffeine. On the upper right there you have your coffeesicle, then beside it on the left, for those so inclined, you have your coffeewithcreamersicle. And then, for the younger set and those of you not afraid to spontaneously combust, in the lower center we have the RedBullsicle. (You know, I'm completely convinced that Red Bull has made at least one person in the world spontaneously combust, or maybe just explode, and that it's a lawsuit waiting to happen.)

So have a cool treat that will give you the jitters for the rest of the day.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* A word to the wise. When turning on the eye of your stove, please pay attention to which eye you want burning and which dial you turn. I almost burned up my house this afternoon, and did burn my stove eye cover into oblivion.
* And by the way - Quick Draw's tail? As soft as a puppy's ear, it is. I could rub it forever. But I won't, since that would make all the fur fall out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

OUR LONG NATIONAL NIGHTMARE IS NOW OVER

Poor Gerald Ford. He's barely in the ground, and I'm again using the phrase he himself coined. But it seems to be true, people.

Thanks to my maven Stennie, and some kindly blogger employee nice enough to read my umpteenth message on the google troubleshooting page, I am now operating at full speed again. I have working archive links, so you can go in and see what I was doing in 2004 (not much, really, I don't know why I bothered), and - yes! - I now have working comments. Go in there and comment like crazy, readers.

So, what's been happening with me since last I wrote? Same old stuff, I guess, with the exception of an interesting Sauerkraut Band gig.

Yes, New Year's Eve had me traveling - well, wait, let me start at the beginning of the day. Yes, New Year's Eve had me scrambling around town trying to find a "quick fix" FM transmitter for the car for my ipod, which put me about 15 minutes late on the road, then it was a stop by Mr M's in B'burg, then we were both on the road to the small town of Orange, VA for a "First Night" New Year's Eve celebration. For the uninitiated, if there are any, a First Night is a thing some towns do around here, a big town New Year's, family friendly, alcohol-free.

Think about that. Sauerkraut Band, alcohol-free. OK, now pick yourselves up off the floor, because it gets better. Sauerkraut Band, alcohol-free - playing in a church. Yes, your very own Sauerkrauters, some of the best sinners you'll ever meet, playing in a church.

I was reticent - oh, yes, I was reticent, but we got to Orange in the afternoon, a lovely little town, too, found the church, and started to unload podmobile2. The set-up was going on, chairs and stands and the whole nine yards, right there on the altar, and I started to get that "SK Band as human sacrifice" feeling, but it was certainly a nice church, rather roomy, huge brick pulpit behind us and the altar, and a loft at the back of the room holding a beautiful pipe organ. We got everything set up, got into our "silly people" German costumes, and then, en masse, walked across the town to a bank building where we were to be the honorees at a reception. Well, not just us, everyone who was performing at the various venues in town for the night.

I was feeling a little hungry, and so was hoping that this reception would be more than speeches and hearty handshakes. At least a bottle of water and cheese on a cracker. We found the bank after walking down the middle of the blocked-off main street (Russell said we looked like a really weird version of when the bad guys amble into town in an old Western), walked in, and there was no cheese on a cracker. Instead, there was a buffet of hot foods set up, a buffet that contained some of the most amazing eats I've consumed in a long time. The overriding theme of this buffet was "400 Years Ago," and the dishes included pepper-encrusted bluefish, fire-roasted vegetables, suckling pig with grits, and Devonshire beef with butternut squash. Fuck cheese on a cracker, this was excellent.

It was crowded, all the tables were taken by the time we got there, and so we were encouraged to sit and have our dinners - at various and sundry bank higher-ups' desks and comfy chairs. It was Sara Beth (the lovely, the vivacious) who imparted the wisdom upon us, when we were all a little worried about leaving our instruments behind in an unlocked church, "This is a town where they open up a bank building and let people roam in and out, sitting at unlocked desks. I don't think we need to worry about our instruments."

Once we were nice and full we headed back to the church to get things started. There were things going on at the same time in several different places in town, bands, entertainers, and the like, and I was frankly worried that no one would be interested in us over them, but the place started filling up rather quickly. We were to play three sets, at 7, 9, and 11pm, with other acts at 8 and 10.

Our first set went very well, even if we were a little subdued, but sometimes that's a plus because we tend to play better that way, and we seemed to be something of a hit. Of course, no singing "Ein Prosit," no toasting, no drinking, but still, I feel a good time was had by all.

That over with, the second act in the church was the town's community band, and they were kind enough to invite any of us Sauerkrauters who wished to to sit in and play with them, and most all of us did. I did, and it was fun, I took a comfortable 3rd clarinet part and sightread away.

Then we played our 9:00 set, where the "Trumpet Echo" found Eddie, the Jagermaster who'd been relieved of his duties for a night, up in the organ loft, and Russell, self proclaimed peeceewee peeceebee, sneaking up into the mile-high pulpit, donning a chicken hat, to play his part of the echo, which may have been the liveliest that church has gotten in decades.

The 10:00 act was a barbershop quartet, and they rocked, and I'm not being facetious here, these guys were amazingly entertaining, and Sara Beth, our Fearless Leader Ed, and I sat on a back pew and enjoyed them a great deal. Afterwards, of course, we had to do our own barbershop trio with a few selections from "The Music Man," which had dogs howling and cows dying, but we had fun, which is all that matters.

Then we finally played our last set, and by this time my constant standing in a pair of very comfortable shoes that had suddenly turned very uncomfortable had made me one very tired individual indeed, and that left us about 15 minutes till the ringing in of the New Year, where a big Orange was supposed to drop from the courthouse in town, and so I rushed off to get out of that dirndl and especially those shoes. When I got back to the altar, people were still milling around and tearing down our set-up, and it was right there on the altar that 2007 struck. I think. No one seemed to have the correct time, so I went by Sara Beth's watch, gave her a hug, said, "Rabbit Rabbit," and continued to put stuff away. Mr M and Tom kept telling us it wasn't time yet, so we walked outside to see if we could make it into the street for another celebration, but it was not to be. The after-orange-drop bells were now ringing, and so it may not have been much of a whooping "Happy New Year" moment, but hey, I'm old, what do I care?

Some of us drove back home, and some of us decided to stay overnight since the town sprung for us some hotel rooms (I mean, when this town has a festival, they do it up right), and so Tom, Mr M, Jude (the Corruptor, who could not corrupt anyone in the church), Sara Beth, and I all stayed. We headed out for something to eat and took it back to the room, where Tom offered wine and I offered Goldschlager. I drank a glass of wine and basically collapsed. It had been a very long day and night.

We headed back home on New Year's Day, where the annual Sauerkraut Band New Year's party was to take place that evening. I had told everyone I couldn't go, because of distance and having to work on Tuesday, and on the way back Sara Beth and, yes, you guessed, Jude the Corruptor had just about convinced me to throw caution to the wind and go anyway, until I got to Mr M's house, fell asleep for two hours, and barely had the energy to drag myself off the couch and to my car for a trip home. I sat around Monday night all frowny because I wasn't with my buddies, but got a healthy lift in spirits when they called from the party and passed the phone around from reveler to reveler.

Damn, I was tired, though. Playing sober really takes a lot out of a person.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Did I mention I have comments now?
* Episode 37, first episode of the new year, of the hucklebug is now posted for your listening enjoyment. Go here, or subscribe through iTunes, to listen.