Monday, April 30, 2007


Hello, letter lovers! Welcome to all things acro, this week's round of acromania.

You know, Mr M thinks he's funny. Cracks himself up, he does. Well, I crack myself up too, but of course, my jokes really are funny. Anyway, last night after reading my blog, Mr M just couldn't help himself and said, "I didn't know you had a little TV." He apparently took exception to my "I watched a little TV" line.

So this week's acrotopic is, "How Little Is Your TV?"

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 letter below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket isn't such a stickler for language. A little TV is, you know, a little TV. Then tomorrow night at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners and non-winners, and you'll win nothing or not win nothing.

So, the topic: How Little Is Your TV? The letters:


Now, stop watching TV and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sigh. No update. Busy day. Oh! My bathroom is now clean!


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to the latest round of Picture Sunday.

This weekend was more of the same. Not that that's bad, but no new stories to tell. Had a nice Friday in, after a good walk. Took a bath with a pitcher of martinis (no, not in a pitcher of martinis), watched a little TV, hung at the computer, and finally hit the living room for an autoharp lesson. This was a good one. Learned a new finger style, in a song that used four chords, that would be "Goodnight Irene," and was so satisfied from that I didn't even go all loopy when Mr Sebastian started talking about the diatonic scale, which I know nothing about. I left it there and went to bed, happy in the knowledge that if I ever meet anyone named Irene, and I have my autoharp with me, I can sing her a song.

Then it was to B'burg and Mr M's, where I got a by-God clarinet lesson. It was kind of a shock. I was expecting a lesson on how to play the piece I'll be duetting with him on at his upcoming recital. Instead, it turned into one of those lessons where he decided he's going to completely change the way I play the clarinet. Which I'm not saying is a bad thing, my style could use some changing. But in that one lesson I went from how I normally play to how someone who's never held a horn before plays. I'm worried about the recital now. I wasn't before. I mean, my sound after that lesson sucks.

He grilled us steaks, and we had a nice dinner, watched a couple of movies, and that was about that. Then it was home today, some catch-up laundry, and dinner at the folks' house. Dad's still in good spirits, and his chemo starts May 7th.

A few Random Thoughts © (used without permission from LilyG, but copyrighted, so I hope she won't kill me):

- Over the weekend, Stennie sent me the greatest link. And here it is. You can go there and make your own 45! Well, now, wait - I don't mean you can record it, I mean you can make it to see what it'll look like. And when you sing like me, well, that's the best kind of record to make. The possibilities are endless, and I made this little number.

I encourage everyone to go there and play around. Hey, maybe that's a Picture Sunday in the making, like the Kim Jong Il fashion show. Everyone go there and make a record, send it to me, and we'll have a record show. Leave comments if you may be interested, and if we have enough takers we'll proceed.

- I realized today that I don't drive with my hands in the 10 and 2 position. I drive with them in the 5 and 7 position. I'm supposing this is what allowed me to lift my steering wheel over my head the night it came off.

- I think there should be a national law that frees up one point on the FM dial for radio transmitting iPods. Pick any spot, 88.1, 87.9, and it should be illegal for any radio station to have its signal there. That way there could be a universal spot for iPod listening, and one would never have to change stations. And there would always be a free station in the Big City, where there's a radio station at every point on the dial.

- This weekend Stennie also announced the 4th (four, can you believe it?) Great CD Mix Exchange. Yes, it's that time again, time to scour your music collection for songs and make CDs for the participants. And if you've never participated, what are you waiting for? Go to Stennie's site right here, read all the rules, and sign up. It doesn't matter if you've never done one before, or if you think your tastes in music are different from everyone else's. That's what makes it fun. Go on, you know you want to.

And now it's time for that very special point in the proceedings, the recipe du jour.

You know, I'm from the South. Not only am I from there, but I live there to this day. And we in the South sure do love us some biscuits and gravy. Now, I can tell you something, and it's the God's honest truth. My mother makes the best biscuits and gravy in the Free Fucking World. And yes, I know some of you may be from the South, and may have mothers, and therefore think your mothers make the best biscuits and gravy in the Free Fucking World, but guess what. You're wrong. I'm sure your mothers are all wonderful people, but their biscuits and gravy would pale in comparison. People come from all over just to plop themselves down at my mom's breakfast table and eat biscuits and gravy.

But I don't make biscuits. Never have, which is good, because now I don't even eat them anymore. However, they figure in this week's recipe du jour. It's from the "Dubious Southern Dishes" file at cardland, which is scary, because, let's face it, there are a lot of dubious Southern dishes, but this one may take the cake. Say hello to it if you dare, Biscuits and Gravy Train.

Ahhhh, what says "Good Morning" like waking up to a big plate of biscuits topped with that most wondrous of doggie dishes, Gravy Train. All you need for this one are some biscuits, and yes, don't tell Mom, but I bought canned biscuits, and a bag of Gravy Train. I even found a little bottle of - and I swear I'm not making this up - doggie gravy, so my Gravy Train would be even gravier. Spread the Gravy Train over the biscuits, and you'll have a dish that - well, I wasn't so keen, but all the dogs at the Poderosa sure look interested.

Unlike recipes of late, this one was not cost effective. Can of biscuits, small bag of dog food, doggie gravy - $7.00. But you're worth it, dear readers.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Remember the blog I did a while back about how I hate how everything in this country is so overpackaged? You unseal a bag, and inside the sealed bag is another sealed bag? When I tore the plastic sealing off that bottle of doggie gravy, and opened up the cap - there was a sealing piece of plastic over the top of the bottle. Because God forbid someone should spit into a bottle of doggie gravy on the store shelf.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It Doesn't Play Itself, You Know

As you fair readers may know, I am the proud owner of an autoharp. Yes, I'm a musical sort, and play several woodwind instruments, some better than others. (If you've ever heard me play the oboe, well, I'm sorry.) But I've never been able to play strings. And I've always wanted to play strings. Strings are cool. You can take strings along to a clambake, and play by the bonfire late into the evening. You show me an oboe player who goes to a clambake, and I'll show you a person weeping as they watch their oboe allowing the bonfire to burn a few minutes longer.

And it's not so much that I've never been able to play strings, really. I've never attempted it so much. I've tried on several occasions to get my dad to teach me guitar, but my midget boxer's hands refuse to wrap all the way around the neck. I was grappling with that defect of my actual person, and thinking, "I don't know one of these here strings from the other," realizing very quickly the guitar was way too complicated for me, and so I gave up. And this baffles me, because I know people far from Rhodes Scholars who can play the guitar, even if it's only four chord strumming, but hey, that's more than what I can do, so good on them.

I've toyed with the idea of trying violin, or, if you're me, fiddle, from time to time. But I quickly learned three things about that. 1) The fiddle has no frets on its neck, and how am I expected to learn where my fingers go if there are no frets? 2) The fiddle uses a bow, which somehow seems very tricky to me, and is also just one more thing for me to lose. 3) When the fiddle is played by someone who doesn't know how to play it properly, it sounds like a cow is being sawed in half. Believe it or not, even after #3 there, I still like the idea of trying to learn to play the fiddle. I just don't like the idea of being arrested for disturbing the peace.

So I got a wild hair one day (well, I have wild hair every day, but that's another story) and bought an autoharp. I love the autoharp, it's a real mountain-type instrument. I love its little plinky sound. And what I love the most is that everyone told me it was such an easy instrument to play. Makes sense. It's called an autoharp, for cryin' out loud - to me that implies one of two things: it plays itself, or one teaches oneself to play it. Right?

And I bought the autoharp. When I brought it home and took it out of the box, I just sat for about 20 minutes and marveled at its beauty. That was about 4 years ago. I haven't done much else.

Jude the Corruptor, who plays the autoharp, as he's a music teacher and that's pretty much a prerequisite, kind of giggled when I asked him to teach me. He said they were easy to play, too, but added, "But they're a bitch to keep in tune." He didn't jump around dancing hallelujah and volunteering to teach me, so I didn't pursue it. Instead, I marveled at its beauty for about six months, strummed it a few times, put it in its case, leaned it against my bookcase, and now it's 3 ½ years later.

But lately, my beautiful autoharp has been calling to me. And what it's been saying is, "Come on, Bet, give me another chance. I'm easy! I'm pretty! I don't use a bow! Expand your musical horizons!" And so with the gift certificate given to me by Mike the Blogless, Mike, Man of Mystery and Movies, for my birthday, I cashed that fella in and bought an autoharp instructional DVD.

I'm being taught, well, via DVD, by John Sebastian. We all know John Sebastian, and to know John Sebastian is to love him. I grew up with the Lovin' Spoonful, "Do You Believe In Magic" and all the others, and John stood right there on the stage in the 60s, the age of psychedelia, in his tie-dye and fringe, playing the autoharp. If that's not the measure of a man I don't know what is. Also, John plays the autoharp the way God intended, holding it against the chest. I knew that for me, it was playing the autoharp holding it just like Mother Maybelle Carter or not at all. None of that lap-playing, like Mrs Richardson, my elementary school music teacher. So I knew I wanted John to teach me to play the autoharp.

A couple of Fridays ago I waited till late in the night, got out my autoharp and DVD, and decided to let the good times roll. John came on the screen, playing away like I knew I would one day, and greeted me and got right into the learning process. The first thing he covered was tuning, and I became aware of a couple of things very quickly. Like, Jude the Corruptor was right, and when my autoharp was calling to me from its case, one of the things I never recall hearing was, "I'm one tough cookie to tune!"

John, thankfully, goes 21st century with his tuning, and got out a mechanical tuner, which I have, and so that certainly made things easier. Which is good, because had I used the old-school tuning fork method, I'd still be tuning my instrument and not writing this blog. See, my autoharp has 36 strings. Each string is wrapped around a knob, which is then turned with a vice-like thingie to tighten or loosen the strings. My autoharp, being dormant for so long, had gone incredibly flat. And I began to tune it. John said start with the highest note, the C, and I did just that. Took my flat pick and hit the string. *ping!* Flat. Tighten. *ping!* Flat. Tighten. On the second round of tightening, I promptly broke my high C string.

Now, if John covers "restringing your autoharp," it's not till the later chapters. I said, "Well, shit," as I do, and then quickly decided that one tiny string on the far end of my autoharp couldn't be that important, and I soldiered on. Tightening strings, playing them in conjunction with all the ones tuned before to make sure they sounded right. On about the seventh string, I dropped my flat pick into the hole of my autoharp. I turned it this way and that, shaking vigorously, hoping I wasn't de-tuning what I'd just tuned.

My flat pick is to this day in the hole of my autoharp.

I turned to my trusty thumb pick for the rest of the tuning. Somewhere around string 14, my thumb pick popped off my thumb and went sailing, in a perfect arc, into my potted plant. It took me about 10 minutes to find it. But find it I did, the fact that it's as brightly tie-dyed as John Sebastain's old t-shirts helped, and after a mind-numbing 1 hour and 40 minutes, I was tuned up and ready to start playing the autoharp. It was about 3 am at this point.

John's first lesson was using the thumb, which was how I'd always attempted it to that point anyway, on a simple three-chord song. "Mary, Don't You Weep." G, C, D7. And you know what? I was playing! I was playing an actual song! In fact, I was rockin' the house on "Mary, Don't You Weep." I could have gone on tour doing "Mary, Don't You Weep."

Then John showed me how I could change keys and use 3 different chords, like F, Bb, and C7, and I rocked the house on "Mary, Don't You Weep" in that key, too. I went to bed at about 4 am Saturday one happy autoharp player. Mother Bet.

As we all know, last week was the week from hell, for all of us, and certainly for me. No playing till the next Friday, that would be this past Friday, when I had some wine to celebrate the end of that hellish week and ended up sitting in front of the TV with John Sebastian again. After another complete tuning of the autoharp, well, complete tuning minus the aforementioned broken C string. Somewhere Jude the Corruptor is saying, "I told you so."

Lesson #2 from John was heading to the three-fingered style. We used our fingers, together, walked them up and down the board of strings, and he told me how I could use my index and middle fingers to strum "Three Blind Mice." Which I wouldn't necessarily recommend for a clambake, but I was game, and so I began. I did fine at the "Three Blind Mice, See How They Run" part, but the middle section, whose words I don't remember, went so fast and used so many chords I quickly decided I'd never sing that stupid song anyway, and so I took a rest until the next lesson.

Which was good, because the next lesson was a barn-burner. It was using your thumb, index, and middle fingers to play "Wemoweh," or as some of you may know it, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight." Same three-chord pattern as "Mary, Don't You Weep," so I was OK there, but the finger pattern gave me fits. Seems easy enough, thumb, index, middle, index, thumb, index, middle, index.... But coordinating that with chord changes was akin to juggling. I don't juggle, and on Friday, I wasn't doing this so well, either. I could get it, but it wasn't smooth. I set my sights on practicing my "Wemoweh" every night this week before going to the next lesson. I missed it on the weekend, but "Wemoweh'ed" my way through about an hour of time last night. And about a half-hour tonight.

Somewhere on Friday night/Saturday morning, I happened upon the two-finger style of playing. Thumb and middle finger. I've seen people use this in old-time pickup bands, and this is so incredibly easy I see myself doing it for the rest of my playing days. However long that may be. You wanna talk about autoharp playing that'll bring a tear to your eye? Let's talk me playing the two-finger style on "Mary, Don't You Weep."

Anyway, that's where it stands as I write. Two Friday lessons, two styles learned. There was a slight point the first night where John got adventurous and tried to teach me a four-chord number, he said doo-wop was great for those, and so he used "In The Still of the Night," but I totally bombed at that, the A-minor was way far away from the other chords, and so I decided that for now I'd be three chords and a cloud of dust, and that I could always go back to four later on.

But see, here's the thing. I'm not a natural string player. The Nephew, a talented fellow indeed and a drummer by trade, picked up the guitar and within six months was playing like he'd had lessons for years. I could listen to him play for hours. And here I sit, in the Comfy Chair, strumming my three chords and making my fair share of dubious sounds.

But I'm having a blast! I play the clarinet fairly well, and get so frustrated when things don't come out the way I want them to. I scream, I cry, I beat my head, and my leg, and start unnecessary arguments, even when I'm alone in the house. I can barely do a three-chord strum without looking down at my autoharp, and it's all good. If I bomb out, I laugh, and try again. I'm also either going to get really strong in my left hand (the chord button hand), or come down with a rather debilitating case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

And if you need a rousing chorus of "Mary, Don't You Weep" at your next clambake, invite me over. Just give me advance notice, so I can tune, get my high C restrung, and try one more time to get my flat pick out of the hole.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! And boy, look at the entries that poured in. You all wanted to tell me how Alec Baldwin's daughter replied to his little tirade.
- Honorable Mentions go to Flipsycab, with her, "Told old tyrant that Billy’s films glow," and Kellie (with an ie), with her, " Too Overreactive To Be Father. Gawd!"
- Runner-Up goes to Michelle, with her, "Took out tomahawk, bludgeoned father generously."
- And this week's winner goes to, for the second week in a row, the DeepFatFriar, with his, "Try online texting, butter fingers. Gawd!"
- Thanks to all who played! It did my heart good to see so many entries this week. You've all done very well!


Monday, April 23, 2007


Hello, Monday People. That would be your acroers, acroees, acroites, acrogals, and acrodudes. And welcome to another stimulating round of acromania.

It's a happy day in Betland, mainly because the sun is out and my first publish last night in the new blogger worked perfectly. I'm still waiting for something to go wrong.

Hey, how about that Alec Baldwin? (And how about that subject change?) In case you haven't heard, Alec was caught red-faced and swearing, only this time not at a Republican or member of the press. It was at his daughter. The answering machine message he left her was more than a little disconcerting. Now, sure, I know this was all for private consumption, and the fact that it went public is what we should all focus upon, but damn o' mighty! How can we?!

Alec yells at the pre-teen, who apparently chose not to answer the phone at his scheduled call, for some three minutes straight, says he's coming to her house for a day to "straighten her out," and calls her a rude little pig several times. Hey, she may be rude, with those two parents it's damn-near a certainty, but calling one's daughter a pig, well.... Calls for a cast-iron skillet to the face, if you ask me.

Anyway, it's a very private and delicate situation for this family. So what am I going to do with it? Make it into this week's acrotopic! Because that's what being a celebrity is, having your dirty laundry splashed all over the place.

This week's acrotopic? How Did Baldwin's Daughter Reply To His Little Tirade?

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 would have taken out his own tiles and spelled curse words at Mr B. Then at tomorrow, 10:00 pm est, I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who will get a free phone call to Alec to say your piece, and the losers, who'll be locked in a room with him for a few hours.

So the topic, How Did Baldwin's Daughter Reply To His Little Tirade? The letters:


So there. Start replying. Via acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Today while walking, my future husband Mr I. Pod decided I needed to get religion. "Satan's Jeweled Crown," "I'll Fly Away," "By the Mark," and just for good measure, "Man of Constant Sorrow." Yeah, walk to those, if you dare. Those of you participated in the Great CD Mix Exchange know that "Satan's Jeweled Crown" was one of the songs that made me cry!


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to this week's edition of Picture Sunday.

Damn. What a week. I'm with Stennie, who said in her blog, and I quote, without permission, but I doubt she'll hurt me: "The only wrapping I'd like to do with this week is wrapping it up in duct tape, attaching weights to it, and dumping it into the ocean somewhere where I would not have to see it again." Amen, Stennie.

I spent Friday night here at the Pod, mostly cleaning. It wasn't bad, though - sometimes there can be a certain relaxing chill in cleaning. It's not all about watching movies, you know. I had some coffee, and ended up at the computer at about 1 am playing Text Twist. It was then I decided that I needed to celebrate the end of what's been, if not the worst week of my life, certainly the worst I can remember. (What am I saying. It was the worst.) And I started drinking wine. Got good and buzzed, and finally crawled off to bed around 3:30.

Goodbye, week.

I went to Mr M's, Poderosa East, on Saturday, and it was my first trip back to B'burg since this all happened. I got off at my exit and went straight to campus. I knew I'd end up there at some point in the weekend, sooner or later, and so I decided I'd make it sooner and get it out of the way.

It was such a beautiful day here yesterday, it was like the gods were telling us to start anew. The campus was packed with people. Most of the media had gone away, off to cover the mishaps of other people's lives, and I took a short walk around the drill field. It was an oddly lovely sight. Flowers at the War Memorial, on one end of the drill field, and at the main memorial, which was at the edge just across from Burruss Hall. (Burruss Hall was the first place I ever saw Squeeze, and Elvis Costello, more years ago than I'd like to admit.) There were tents set up, some I didn't have the slightest idea why, others gave shade to boards where people could write messages. Then there were more boards at other spots on the field, and the individual memorials, a single stone for each victim. People had left not only flowers, but beads, trinkets, letters, pennants. It was sobering.

Although people were snapping photos, I didn't. I didn't feel right about it. But it was eerie. It just doesn't feel like the same place. It's odd standing on grounds you've been upon many times and knowing something of this magnitude has happened there. I can't even imagine how that feeling of eeriness must be multiplied for the students. But still, it's only been a few days. I hope it changes.

Anyway, I'm glad I went, it was a good way to wrap up the week and let it go.

At Mr M's, it was business as usual. A nice dinner out, clarinet duets, a movie, and playing with Alice the kitty, who only implanted one hole in my leg. That was this morning. Went birthday shopping (for my friend, workmate, and mother figure San), and saw Jacob. I hadn't seen her in close to a year. We talked for a while about Dad, and about the newly-announced Hackensaw Boys gig in R'noke.

Yes, the event that's already causing a growing hinkiness here in Betland. See, Mr M is giving a clarinet recital in June, he's been planning this forever, and I'm going to be a part of it, for one duet anyway, unless he decides I'm unworthy or I faint before the time comes. But the Hackensaws have had the incredibly bad taste to schedule their R'noke concert the same night of the recital. Mr M says there's no way he's rescheduling the recital (yes, I asked, even with the puppy-dog eyes, which are not nearly as good as Taytie's puppy-dog eyes), and so now I'm trying to wrangle a way to see the recital, play in the recital, hit the road, and see the Boys. It's still 6 weeks away, so I'll have more planning time, but I think it can be done.

Then back home, and to all my Sunday tasks. Weekends are so short.

You know, having a friend like Mr M has its advantages. Searing honesty, good conversation, nice gifts, kicks in the ass, free clarinet lessons. However, there are also the artistic advantages. Those of you who have seen the Mr M wing of the Galerie de Chien et Garcon at The Comfy Chair know what I'm talking about.

For about the past two weeks, Mr M's been sending me pictures. I thought I'd use some of them to make up this week's Picture Sunday.

It all started with my Podmate, Huckleberry Hound.

Mr M told me that sometimes Huckie gets a little tired of being a blue dog. He's generally a very happy sort, and wonders if people think he's often sad and depressed because he's blue. So Mr M got on the stick and gave him a few previews of what he might look like if he decides to change colors.

First they thought about white. But decided very quickly that he'd be confused with Quick Draw McGraw.

Yellow? Looks naked to me. Naked Huckie, naked Huckie!

Neon's great. He looks very Andy Warhol.

Neon's so chic. But how about green? Green is just not Huckie. What is he, an apple?

Finally, here's what Huckie would look like if he drank an entire bottle of Pepto-Bismol, which is certainly a possibility, what with his nervous stomach and all.

Peptoberry Hound.

Finally, Peabody convinced Huckie that blue is the color for him. I mean, how many blue dogs are there around? It's distinctive, it's unique - it's him.

In fact, Peabody himself decided to get into the act.

And never one to be left out, so did Sherman.

This one's a little unnerving. What with the expression on his face, he looks like he's very low on air.

See? You got pictures, didn't you! And my camera wasn't out of the overnight bag one single time.

But how about a recipe? Oh, yes, we have a recipe.

Actually, this recipe idea has been rumbling around in my head for so long you wouldn't believe it. When I was first deciding to do to my own recipes after the recipe cards ran out, I made a short list of about three things I could make. This was one of them, and why it never got made, I've no idea. But today is the day. Yes, we have rock lobster. We have rock salt, and rock candy, and the Hard Rock Cafe. So from the "Wake-You-Up Breakfasts" file at cardland, please say hello to this week's recipe du jour, the Rock Omelette.

If you can make an omelette and have access to gravels, this is the dish for you. And I can, and I do. All you do is make up a tasty omelette, throw in some gravels, and you've got a breakfast you're fully aware of chewing, no matter how sleepy you may be. As an added attraction, I threw in some dirt and sticks from the driveway beside my house (where the gravels came from), but if you're one of those "neat freaks," you may leave them out.

I think I'll feed this to Huckie and see how quickly he becomes pink. From the Pepto.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Well, it's with crossed fingers that I'll be pushing the "publish" button tonight. Once again, when opening blogger, I had no choice but to sign up for the new blogger. Remember what happened the last time I did this? Lost my archives, lost my blog - lost my mind. It seems to have gone smoother at the beginning stages, but the test will be in what happens when I publish.


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

My week began on Monday, with the Virginia Tech shootings. On Monday I was shaken, shocked, depressed, disgusted, and yet still thankful everyone I knew was OK after the episode.

Then Tuesday I found out I wasn't so untouched.

Now, let me get this out of the way immediately. It wasn't anyone I knew. It wasn't even so much anyone I knew of. But the mother of one of Mr M's former clarinet students was a victim. His student, who I also never met, but I heard much about from Mr M, was a slight snip of a girl, a middle-schooler. He always joked that her clarinet was as big as she was. And now, thanks to all this, she's a mother shy.

I also learned one of the victims was from Narrows. N'rows, I always call it here, a miniscule bump of a town between B'field and B'burg. It's where Mamaw Bowles lived, and my dad graduated from high school. I spent every summer of my life there, playing with my sister and my cousin Jacob, who still lives about a mile out of town. The deceased kid was a four-sport letterman, band member, and valedictorian of his class.

Then yesterday the news broke of Mr Cho's (I call him "Mr" even though that's a term of respect and he deserves none) package sent to NBC, and the news services jumping on it like the proverbial rooster on a junebug. Up until Wednesday I'd already seen and learned more about this guy than I ever cared to know, and now I know just enough to make me want to vomit. I know it's newsworthy that he made some sort of maniacal decision to spill his guts after the fact, but that doesn't mean we have to see the results of it. It adds nothing to the story, to him, and certainly not the victims. Nor his family, who are victims as well, and to whom this whole little foray into the surreal must be incredibly painful.

I found out last night that the mental health facility Cho was sent to after his first run-in with police was the facility Mr M was working at while getting his master's degree in psychology. He had no dealings with him at all, but it goes a little to show all you big-city folks out there how everything in a small town is so insular. (One more time, all together, with feeling - How can a man with that many past run-ins with mental health and the police buy a gun so easily? My mind will never unboggle.)

The videos and pictures are still showing today. Today is Thursday. It's raining here, a hard, steady, soaking rain that ruined my hairdo and washed out my clothes as I was running around getting groceries.

And today I learned that my father has "a cancer."

When I began my blog of Monday, I mentioned "family members and medical procedures." My dad had a biopsy and scope of his bronchial regions on Monday. He's known about this for approximately a month. He had a chest x-ray that showed something it wasn't supposed to show. They told my dad a cat scan was in order, which he had, and which showed a mass. Then he promptly hauled ass to Florida for three weeks, taking a worried wife with him and leaving two worried daughters behind. But hey, that's my dad. God love him. If he wanted to escape for a while, who were we to chain him to the house?

Finally, he called me from Florida, saying they were hauling ass back here, because he knew he had to get the tests done they wanted. And he had the biopsy and scope, and since Monday I've been living with, "Tests aren't in, but it looks suspicious."

I knew that today at 1:30 he had his appointment with the doctor. I had the afternoon off, and came back here to wait. And wait I did. It got to be 3:00, then 3:30, and 3:45. I knew the longer they were gone, the better the chances were of the news being bad. Finally they arrived at my house, shielding themselves from the pouring rain, at 4:00.

My dad began with, "Well, the news isn't good, but it isn't horrible." And he told me that yes, there was a malignancy in his mass. The mass was near his lung, but yet everything so far had showed his lungs were clear, and it was possible that the cancer wasn't coming from there. However, that wasn't a 100% certainty, as nothing seems to be a certainty in the world of cancer, other than it's a sucky world.

No surgery, no radiation. They're going chemo. And more tests. He's being referred to oncologists here in B'field to begin with, who'll give him their opinions and strategies, then it'll be up to him to decide if he wants second opinions, or to go to a larger town or hospital for the same or different treatment.

Dad said that while the doctor was concerned, that he was also optimistic. He said he'd had cancer patients who'd managed their tumors for as many as 10 years or more. He also gave my dad a long talk about attitude, which was good, because Dad needed that.

I've been on pins and needles for more than a month. The past week, the worry, the sadness, the dread - I've been near explosion. Or implosion. Some kind of plosion. I've been going through the motions of work, home, laundry, cleaning, but not giving any of it much attention. This afternoon, waiting for my folks to come by the Pod, I was a wreck.

And now I know. And it's sad. It's scary. But I feel like a weight's been lifted off my shoulders. When my friend Tina called Monday, after the shootings, we talked about my dad. She went through the same thing, losing her mother to this disease. She told me it would happen. "The waiting's the worst," she said. "Once you know, you start deciding what to do next." She was right.

It's not like I'm in Happyland here, though. I know it's not going to be easy. It may be worse than they first thought, chemo will be tough, and we'll all have to learn to live with the fact that Dad's a cancer patient. There will be worse days ahead, but hopefully we'll deal with those.

Stennie and I are the founding members of the "Let's Kick Cancer's Ass" campaign. Have been for several years. I hope my dad's wearing his pointy boots.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I'll of course keep you posted as I know things. And will get back to the business of living, and blogging. Have two ideas written on paper, but not fleshed out. Maybe they'll show next week.

Monday, April 16, 2007

No Acro

"I hate this day."

That's how I entered work this morning, a half-hour late.

I've said it before, I hate to damn an entire day, but at 9:30 am, I already truly hated this day. I got up too late, rushed around, got dressed, spilled my coffee, had to change clothes, and clean the coffee off my white cabinets before it stained. I went outside to start my frozen and snow-covered car, and took the week's trash out with me to sit by the driveway for pickup. For some unknown reason the garbage men seemed to have run over three hours early today, and the trash had already been picked up. I was wet from the snow that had blown inside my car, as was my trash bag from the driveway, and I slogged it inside and threw it into the laundry room. Then I poured my second cup of coffee, in my second set of clothes, and started to work.

I was on pins and needles, due to some other stuff going on, stuff I'd rather not elaborate upon but which involves family members and medical procedures. I didn't want to be at work. I didn't want to leave my wet trash bag in the laundry room. I wanted my first cup of coffee, which I'd spilled, and my second, which was still in the cup, awaiting my work arrival.

I got to work and got to start that second cup of coffee, which was actually my first cup of coffee, and after a few work tasks, I hit CNN. And screamed, "Holy fuck."

My friend, workmate, and mother figure San started to laugh. See, she'd been out in the hallway, and said my oath rang throughout the entire first floor of the building, surely to the office next door, and possibly the church whose offices are upstairs had heard me. And I explained to her the reason for the shout.

A gunman had shot someone on the campus of Virginia Tech.

One dead, that was the story. A student described it as "mayhem," and said two people, a boy and girl, had jumped out of a window to escape the shots. The boy had broken his ankle.

I kept refreshing CNN. I had early lunch, brunch we call it there at TheCompanyIWorkFor, which was at 11:30. I immediately went home and turned on the TV, only half expecting it to be on the news. But it was. The story had changed to 1 dead, 1 hurt. Then 1 dead, 17 hurt. I watched through the file footage, through the same pictures taken by cell phones shown over and over, then CNN broke to a local affiliate. And it all changed.

20 people dead.

I couldn't help it. I began to cry.

I think it was just the culmination of everything. The morning, the shock, and the fact that I consider B'burg my second home. The home of Hokie football games, and Mr M and Poderosa East. The home of the B'burg Community Band, and my Sauerkraut Band buddies, and Ed, and Kellie (with an ie). And the numbers. From 1 dead to 20. It was hard to take in.

And so 20 became 22, which became 24, which became 31, and by the time I left work (I'd since gone to to watch a live feed), it was 33.

By about 3pm, I'd gotten OK's from most people. People whose kids were on campus, and Mr M emailed me to let me know he and ESP's hubby, a professor, were OK. My sister had heard from Taytie, and all his Tech buddies were OK. A bus of students from Graham High, Taytie's school, had been on campus during the shootings, going to campus to attend an art show. They were caught in the campus lock-down, but were all OK and on their way back home.

And the boy who broke the ankle jumping from a window? He's OK, too, and the son of a family my sister tailgates with at Hokie games.

I got a call at work, picked up the phone, and it was my friend Tina. Tina is English, but lives in Ireland. She saw it on her television news, and was calling to make sure I and mine were OK.

When I got home, I got the OK from Kellie (with an ie). She hadn't left for work when it all began. I got a messenger message from Michelle the Dishy, asking if all mine were OK. And an email from Jellybean, who I hadn't heard from in ages. I have the best friends.

An email from Stennie was awaiting my arrival home, asking if I was OK, and if I was up to podcasting tonight, that it was up to me. I'm not sure at this point. I certainly don't feel funny, and even feel guilty laughing at jokes. Then again, it might help me. If I don't do the podcast I'm liable to sit here alone all night and dwell. Dwell way too much.

And that's mainly why I'm writing tonight. To get it out, and hopefully not dwell so much. But still, there are things I can't stop thinking about.

Like why a first shooting could take place at 7 am, and nothing be done about it for two hours. Two hours for students and employees to live their normal lives, or what was left of them, and go to classes only to end up as sitting ducks at the second shooting.

And the wind. This has been a particularly windy day here, and it caused a downing of medical evacuation helicopters.

And how now the media has descended upon my second home. Katie Couric's in town, interviewing students. The local news girl, who informed us of the drastic jump in the number of fatalities, proudly announced she'd be speaking to Katie on the CBS News. George Bush appeared at the White House to tell us how he was leading a grieving nation, yes, Mr NRA himself, and the news was filled with talking heads talking about how easy it is to buy firearms in Virginia.

None of it matters now, and I'm sick of it already. And I'm still watching. And dwelling.

So maybe I should go ahead and do the podcast. But I'm telling you right now, I still hate this day. This is a day I don't feel guilty about damning.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Welcome to another world-weary round of Picture Sunday.

I'm not necessarily world-weary. But Picture Sunday is. And so I'm going to cut right to the chase here.

See, I like pleasing my tens of readers. And so I try my level best to get a Picture Sunday going if at all possible. But it's getting harder to do that, and frankly, I'm losing the will to try.

The reason for this is two-fold. The first has to do with Blogger, and how they've changed their picture uploading. Pictures must be uploaded as pictures, and can't be uploaded as files anymore. Therefore, to upload a picture, one must do just that, upload the picture, then drag it to the spot. Now, that doesn't necessarily sound like a major piece of work, but it ends up as such. It's actually taken me weeks to find the easiest solution to the new system, and that's to write my blog, in WordPad, just like I'm doing right this second, then insert five dashes where a picture will go. When the whole blog is completed, I transfer it to Blogger, then start uploading and dragging pictures. Upload a picture, drag it to its correct set of dashes, go to the end of those dashes, drag back to the beginning of them, place the picture, remove the dashes, and move the next paragraph underneath the picture, being sure to leave an extra space underneath to the typeset doesn't go all silly on me. After all the pictures are placed, I still have to go back to the top of the page, because every picture uploaded sets the title of the blog down a space.

I hate this. It makes me curse. Last week's Picture Sunday had two measly recipe pictures inserted, and it took me a solid hour to do it.

The second reason for my distaste of Picture Sunday is simply because, well, I'm running out of damn pictures! Unless there's some sort of special event, I usually come up empty at this time of the evening. I may love my camera, and be delighted I got it back after losing it, but that still doesn't mean I carry it around with me at all times snapping pictures of my life.

So for this reason, Picture Sunday as we know it is taking a little vacation. Now, don't start getting hinky. It's not disappearing. If I have pictures, I'll gladly put them up, dragging, dashes, and all. And more importantly, this is not the end of the recipe du jour. Now, to be honest, the recipe du jour is no walk in the park, either. Thinking up a recipe, making it, taking its picture, uploading, PhotoShopping it, going to Word to make it into a recipe card, printing that card out, cutting it to size, scanning it, and PhotoShopping it again. (Understand now why I end up bitchy on Sunday nights?) Anyway, I know you all like the recipe du jour, and to be honest, I like it too. I like the feeling I get when I've completed a recipe card that actually worked, and so for that reason I'm not so keen to nix it from my life as yet. Maybe in time we'll rename Picture Sunday to Recipe Sunday. Or Recipe Sunday With Pictures.

I kind of came to this decision when spending the weekend at Mr M's. Of course I had no pictures, and so I figured I needed to start by-God making some for tonight. Lucky he had that huge mallet lying around.

Don't worry. I'd never hit Sherman with a mallet. However, I would hit someone else. In fact, with glee, and probably while whistling.

Alice the kitty made mincemeat of my right hand this weekend. Then during the night, she started in on my naked foot without provocation. I have a gash. That cat loves my flesh more than a baby loves milk.

Anyway, when Picture Sunday has resorted to this kind of stuff, it's time to give it a rest. And so, that's what I'm doing. There might be a picture next week, there might not. Fiddle dee dee, what do we care - we're people of the world, right?


That said, let's get back to the recipe du jour, and Mr M. We were having dinner last night, and he made an announcement. He told me he thought he deserved a little recognition for being the one to push me towards making my own recipe cards after my originals ran out. And although I personally think that recognition should be in the form of a sock in the jaw (read above recipe card directions), I knew I couldn't do that right in the middle of the restaurant. So I thought the only fitting tribute was to turn him into his very own recipe card. So from the "In Appreciation" file in cardland, please say hello, if you dare, to the Mr M Salad.

All you need for this is a salad, and a Mr M. The salad part's easy, I used the leftovers from my tuna salad platter at that same dinner. That would be, minus the tuna, I ate that, some shredded lettuce (wet, too), three tomato slices (at the hairline), cucumber slices (eyes), and a nice pear (nose). The Mr M, well, maybe he's available for hire. Just spread your salad ingredients over your Mr M, and you've got about as bitter a salad as they make. Blue cheese dressing optional.

Actually, watching him squirm under those cold, wet fruits and vegetables gave me a feeling of satisfaction way better than I'd have gotten socking him in the jaw. He was quite creeped out.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Still spreading the "My Name Is Earl" love. My movie list is suffering, but I'm one DVD away from having viewed the whole first season. Mr M swears it's filmed not with actors, but real people from B'field. No way. We don't have such culture.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Pod's Pod

Yes, I am a pod. You know this already, because I tell you of the fact from time to time. I was diagnosed by Mr M many years ago, and though I'm not quite sure what the scientific definition is (as he says, "It's more of a 'you know one when you see it'"), I do accept this fact. I embrace it. I didn't used to, but the inevitable happened that fateful day when I was eating potato chips with a fork. *Hug!* "I'm a pod!" I ate Tostitos with a fork this past weekend.

I grew from podlet into full-fledged pod. And so, as a pod, I live at the Poderosa. I drive the podmobile2 (after the original podmobile went toe-up in a very podlike way, having the steering wheel come off while I was driving on the interstate). I (along with Stennie the Maven) do a podcast.

And since Christmas, thanks to that same Mr M, I've been the proud owner of an iPod.

I love my iPod. No, I don't think you understand. I love my iPod. In a perfect world, a world where women are free to marry computer gadgets, I would be Mrs I. Pod, and I'd come home from work every night, make my iPod dinner, and we'd snuggle together in front of the TV set in wedded bliss. Our Poderosa would be filled with music, and several little tiny iPod Shuffles. With curly hair.

Back during the whole "painting the dennette" period some months back, I did a blog about my first time using the "shuffle" feature of iTunes. And how some of the back-to-back playings of songs made me laugh, or freaked me out to the point where I was starting to question my existence. And from that blog, my friend Kellie (with an ie) left a comment. In it, she told me how she'd written an article, all about statistics, called, "Does Your iPod Have a Soul, Or Does it Just Like Soul?" I think about that title a lot these days.

Because I rarely play my iPod in any way other than "shuffle."

It's a blast. Whether I'm zipping along in the car or walking around the track, I have hundreds of tunes at my disposal, and the excitement of what may be coming up next keeps me driving that extra mile or slogging that extra lap. However, sometimes I wonder about my future husband.

Is he tired? Trying to please me? Trying to make me mad, start an argument?

When he's trying to please me, well, no problem there, he's an absolute doll, and I know just exactly why I agreed to be his wife and have his little iPod Shuffles. There's nothing like the long drive where we're completely in sync, and he's throwing me stuff from the 40s followed by 70s punk, Hackensaw Boys followed by Ray Charles followed by Elvis Costello followed by Spike Jones. And how could I not be in love with the little fellow who gives me poppy and peppy numbers while I'm walking only to slow it down a bit just when my legs are starting to get tired? Then, after a 3-minute rest of slow song, he'll rev it back up.

Sometimes, though, we're just not in perfect harmony. And I begin to wonder about this guy I've fallen for.

Like, why does he occasionally like to give me two artists in a row? Does he have a crush on Gillian Welch? Is he needling me, jealous because he thinks I have an unnatural attraction to Marshall Crenshaw? Does he think I'm depressed? Well, he must have a few weeks ago, because he gave me so many songs by Morrissey and the Smiths, I finally had to start deleting them from his person. And even then, with only two songs in the cue, he played them both!

And it's easy to tell that sometimes he's trying not so much to please me, but himself. IPod's favorite album is obviously REM's "Reckoning," because not a session goes by that at least one song from the album doesn't play. He seems to like Nirvana's cover of "In The Pines" (theirs is differently titled) so much, I finally had to delete it as well. His favorite band must be the Pogues. His favorite Hackensaw Boys song is "Traveling Kind," and his favorite Southern Culture on the Skids song is "Banana Puddin'," which is OK, because it's one of mine, too.

But why? Why oh why does he want to play for me, always late in the dark of night, Allan Sherman's "Ratt Fink?" The file of that song is so loud, and the song has such frantic music at the beginning, that it nearly makes me wreck my car every time it starts. Surely he's not trying to do me in.

And then there are those times when we're just not on the same plane. I guess it happens with all couples. I want fast and hard music to drive by, he gives me band music. I'm looking for funny, quirky lyrics, he gives me sad ballads. I'm hoping for sing-alongs, he gives me instrumentals.

And just this week, he's been showing me another side of himself. I guess it was bound to happen. After I spent all that time, and had all that fun, recording albums and singles and turning them into MP3s, then loading them into Mr iPod, he's promptly turned his nose up at them, and of about 60 songs of that ilk loaded into his sleek, metallic body.... I think I recall three of them playing in two trips back and forth to B'burg. Yes, Mr 21st Century Downloadable Music doesn't like my 20th century vinyl.

You know, when he gets like that I have no choice. I just reach out to him, caress his slim frame, take my index finger - and push his forward button. Sometimes it gets him back in line, sometimes not. But that's part of the great thing about iPod love. One never knows. And hope springs eternal. Hope of the next song.

As far as Kellie's (with an ie) article, I didn't get to read it. I know the answer to the question though. I, the future Mrs I. Pod, know that my intended has a soul. And a brain. And feelings.

I also know that he doesn't really like soul. Four months, one Marvin Gaye song, and a cloud of dust.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Speaking of iPods. On a trip back from seeing the Hackensaws a while back, Mr M and I listened to the latest by Kurt Vonnegut, "Man Without A Country." It was (believe it or not) my first experience with Mr V, and it made me laugh. It also made me think twice about ever using a semicolon again. Kurt died today. RIP.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Times Change, But There'll Always Be Rich Kids

I had a rather interesting movie weekend. It was a long weekend for me, Friday off, and I celebrated by renting four DVDs. Only one of which I had any interest at all in seeing. And it was a TV show. So I had three recently released big-name movies I just couldn't force myself to watch. And I ended up watching movies on cable instead.

And the story of one of those movies was also rather interesting. (See? I told you. Interesting movie weekend.) The movie itself wasn't interesting in the least, just the story.

Having Friday off, I of course slept late. My favorite activity, sleeping late. And so I began watching this movie in bed. And as it started, I said to myself, "I'll just pop in to this one till I get out of bed." I got out of bed and kept watching, saying, "When I get dressed, I'll quit watching." Then it was, "I'll go to the grocery in a minute and quit watching." Then it was, "Really, I'm going to quit watching this movie." I think I was saying that one as the end credits were rolling.

The movie in question was a horrid little number called "Rich Kids."

"Rich Kids" was released in 1979. I knew this, not only because my cable info guide told me so, but also because this movie was so 1979 it made my eyes hurt. Everything about this movie screamed 1979. Finally, during the scene where The Mom misplaces her daughter, while in bed with her lawyer (See? 1979!) and frantically asks for the phone, the lawyer hands her a big white phone, the cord of which is draped over his chest during the call. It was at that point that I couldn't help myself, and I screamed, "1979!"

"Rich Kids" wasn't so much about kids being rich as it was about kids who were rich, and how terribly painful that all is. It was one of those movies with kids who have everything but parents who love one another, yes, self-absorbed parents who think too much, argue too much, and love to talk about their innermost feelings too much. Everyone in this movie had some serious innermost feelings. Because the late 70s, and especially the late 70s in New York, were just full of innermost feelings. (Also, apparently in the late 70s filmmakers didn't realize that there were Rich People outside of New York. I think there were, though I don't have the facts and figures to prove it.)

OK. See, Franny's 12, we know this because at one point she screams, "I'm only 12!" before running down the street in a fit of angst, and her parents have a very unhappy marriage on the verge of kaputness. Mom's sleeping with the lawyer, and Dad's sleeping with a practically teenaged Jill Eikenberry, except he only sleeps with her till about 4:30am. Then he gets up, slogs his unfaithful self home, and is there with Mom when Franny wakes up, because they haven't told Franny just how terribly unhappy their innermost feelings are. But she knows, of course, because this movie's all about how kids are smarter than parents.

Franny's made a friend, a new kid in school named Jamie. His parents are already divorced, so he's an old hand at this. His life is a little different, his mom and stepdad talk about their innermost feelings, which are basically how happy they are they're together, and how much they hate Jamie's dad, the hip photographer who sleeps around a lot. And of course, they're so busy being happy and hating Jamie's dad that they don't pay much attention to him.

And hilarity ensues. It's unintentional hilarity, because this wasn't a comedy, but I guess you take the laughs where you can get them. Franny and Jamie start spending friendly weekends together, platonically, at Jamie's dad's bachelor pad, which is so 1979 I kicked my legs with glee, kicking the covers right off myself and forcing myself to get out of bed, saying I was going to quit watching this horrid movie. The pad is some kind of chic New York loft with skylights and live trees and birds, and neon skylines and stereo components mounted on the black walls. It was delightfully craptastic.

The kids spend these weekends discovering their innermost feelings, learning how to kiss, and with Jamie telling Franny all the ins and outs of what it's going to be like when her parents finally grow some balls and tell her they're going to divorce. And of course, it all goes exactly like Jamie's said, but that doesn't make it any easier on Franny, and that's when she runs down the street, and then that fateful weekend comes when Franny's mother misses her daughter and starts calling around for her on that behemoth corded telephone (at least it's a push-button, but again, they're rich), and all the adults, Franny's parents, Jamie's parents, the stepdad, and the lawyer, who has slept with every woman there and possibly some of the men, find the two kids having an innocent bath in the 1979 bachelor pad, and, well, the innermost feelings that are flying around, I can't even begin to tell you. (That sentence was long, and I apologize.)

And after all that primal screaming we get the fallout, which is Franny's mom and dad sleeping together, and Franny hoping this means they'll get back together, but of course this is 1979, and so we're left with no clear-cut answers, but a glimmer of hope that the reuniting will take place. Yes, we the audience are hoping too, because these two people are so deserving of a slap in the face they just need to spend the rest of their lives together, if only to be in close proximity so slapping both their faces won't entail driving across town to the teenaged Jill Eikenberry's apartment.

Now, the only reason I even began to watch this movie Friday morning was because one of the Rich Kids was an actress I remember very fondly from that era, Trini Alvarado. She was one of the more appealing kid actors, and I'll try my best to forgive her being so cute and vulnerable and hooking me into watching this whole film. John Lithgow was Franny's dad, and another great clue to it being 1979 was the abundance of hair he possessed. Paul Dooley, a great movie dad if there ever was, was Jamie's stepdad, and Jamie's real dad was Terry Kiser, a much in-demand character and commercial actor in the 60s and 70s, who went on to be dead in the 47 "Weekend At Bernie's" movies. ("Bernie! He won't decompose!")

Anyway, it was just an awful movie, where you really did want to slap everyone there in the face, and it was a product of its time.

Which got me to thinking.

What if this movie had been made in other years? Well, one can only speculate.

"Franny & Jamie" (1955): Franny and Jamie meet at summer camp, a lush, rolling farm and dude ranch. One day in the barn while pitching hay with a fork, Franny tells Jamie her deep dark secret, that she thinks she was sent away because her parents are getting a, you know, a thing. (D-I-V-O-R-C-E.) Later, the two find something in the hay - a locket. Jamie gets out his trusty spy kit and looks for fingerprints and marks with his magnifying glass. Franny and Jamie spend the rest of the movie trying to figure out the mystery of the locket, but it just turns out Franny's parents had hidden it there because it was to be her birthday present, given to her at a big camp party with all the kids around. And Franny's parents, who, it turns out, are just as happy as clams. Because these were the Eisenhower years. Featuring a cameo appearance by Tim Considine and David Stollery as Spin and Marty.

"Rich Kids Beach A Go-Go" (1964): Franny's an unhappy girl, so she and friend Jamie head to the beach to discuss what can be done about her possibly separating parents. There they meet the other kids, dance, play volleyball, and hang out at The Cove, featuring house band The Ventures. This older man keeps spying on them at The Cove, and invites all the kids to his Big Mansion, where he reveals himself as an evil scientist who's made a machine that turns kids into Communist Robots. Just when the kids think their doom is near, Franny's parents show up, with the FBI in tow. The Feds drag the evil scientist away as he shakes his fist in their general direction, and everyone lives happily ever after. Featuring Lesley Gore as Franny's best girlfriend, Lesley.

"Rich Kids Trip Out" (1968): Franny and Jamie live with parents they cannot understand nor respect. Franny's dad is a suit-wearing, cigar smoking Board Member, and her mother doesn't realize she exists, because she starts having cocktail hour at about 1pm. So Franny and Jamie start hanging out at Jamie's divorced dad's groovy bachelor pad, where Dad turns them on to the wonders of marijuana. They escape into a world of psychedelic bliss, wearing fringed jackets and sunglasses, and one day while Jamie's dad is out on his motorcycle, Franny and Jamie go up to the roof to drop some acid. As they're in the middle of a particularly outtasite trip-out, they both fall off the roof to their deaths. The parents are called to the scene, and there is much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and screaming, "Why?!" as the camera pans out. Featuring the Strawberry Alarm Clock as Jamie's dad's motorcycle gang.

"Rich Kids In Love" (1972): Jamie's divorced parents pay him no attention, nor do Franny's unhappily married ones. So the two kids pool their allowances and run away, hitchhiking across the country and sleeping under the stars. There they discover the joys of first romance and prepubescent sex (in a cornfield, as the music swells). By the time they reach Oklahoma, the parents are hot on their trail. They catch up with the kids in New Mexico, where her parents drag a sobbing Franny away. However, Jamie escapes, and we get a final shot of him walking along a deserted western road.

"The Society of Rich Kids" (1984): Franny's in a funk because because her parents are separated, seeing other people, and she wants a date with the ultra-rich Big Man on Campus. So she and best friend Jamie, class clown and outcast, decide to crash the BMoC's exclusive party, where Franny and Big Man get hilariously locked inside his Maserati, and Jamie becomes the object of affection of the head cheerleader. Nothing much happens, but there's a soundtrack by every musical act who made a record in the mid-80s. Featuring Cyndi Lauper as Franny's favorite English teacher.

"Rich Kids Save Their Family" (1989): Franny's parents are about to divorce. Jamie's parents already have. The two of them decide to go on a crusade to get their families back to the happy entities they once were. So they spend their birthday money printing up fancy, expensive invitations, invitations to Jamie's dad's stark-white minimalist apartment, for a fancy dinner party. When all are assembled, the kids cut the electrical wires, lock the doors, and refuse to let anyone out until all problems are solved. Look for the scene where Franny's dad's practically teenaged girlfriend has a bucket of frogs poured on her, it's a classic. By sunrise the next morning, all the parents realize just how wrong they were to split up, the girlfriend and stepdad realize how cute each other are, and everyone goes home paired up, happy, and grateful for having such wonderful kids.

"Who's Watching the Rich Kids?" (1996): Both of Franny's parents are divorcing their second spouses. Jamie has a mom, three stepdads, and a succession of nubile blondes runing around his dad's Soho loft. No one has much time for Franny & Jamie, so they spend their time in the squat of the older brother of a friend of theirs. They spend their summer days taking ecstasy and sleeping with each other, their friends, their friends' brother, and their friends' brother's friends. They max out their parents' credit cards on Chinese take-out and liquor. Since all of the sex was unprotected, they all find out they're now HIV-positive. The movie ends with them all at the free clinic, staring into space. Featuring Edward Furlong as the older brother.

"RichkidscurseD" (2004): Franny and Jamie escaped from their unhappy home lives by spending weekends at Jamie's dad's cottage on Long Island. There they hang out, get high, and watch movies. They find a DVD of Jamie's dad's marked "Private - Do Not View." Of course they watch, and find that it's a home movie of Jamie's dad killing his old girlfriend and raping and mutilating her dead body. The electricity suddenly goes out, and when the lights come back on, the kids have entered the DVD and Jamie is his dad and Franny is his girlfriend. Franny grabs onto a family heirloom on the coffee table, and this transports the two kids back to the present day. What the two do not realize, however, is that by watching the video and entering the netherworld, that they have been cursed. All of their friends and relatives are dropping like flies from gruesome, grisly deaths. They figure the only way they can find a way out of this hell they've created for themselves is to watch the video again, enter the world, and see if they can change the past. They do just this. However, when it gets to the time of the murder, Franny cannot find the heirloom, and the movie ends with her close-up, a face secure in the knowledge that she shall now be murdered and mutilated. Flash forward six months, when a couple of kids who've broken into the cottage find the DVD and begin watching.

That's a lot of Rich Kids. But not so many innermost feelings. Innermost feelings are saved for the late 70s.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, who went wild with this free fround?
- Runner-up goes to LilyG, with her, "Jumping. "Geronimoooooooo!" Nuts, here's ground." Gives new meaning to the phrase, "Lileeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee (*pbbt*)."
- And this week's winner goes to DeepFatFriar, with his, "Jeb Goes Nuts; Hangs George." Hey! Now that's a whole new version of "Rich Kids!"
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Hey! Acroers! Yes, you. Let's acro. It is Monday, you know.

If you have trouble with acro, boy, is this your lucky week. There's no acrotopic. It's a free acro round! Now, of course, I'm the acromaster, and so you should know that there's a caveat with this free acro round. I want you to give me the zaniest acro you can come up with. Just go acro wild!

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 (of which there isn't one), but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket needs a free round. He's tired. Then tomorrow at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners and the non-winners, who, let's face it, won't win anything real, but I like to pretend.

(By the way, can you tell I've been asleep and just woke up, all off-schedule?)

So, there is no topic, just go wild with acros this week. The letters:


So there you have it. Now, don't be like me and fall asleep - acro!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* No update. Busy day at work. Busy evening cleaning. There's you an update.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to a holiday round of Picture Sunday. What makes this edition of Picture Sunday so special is that - well, there are no pictures.

Kind of.

The big news of the week, for those of you who don't listen to the hucklebug podcast (and if you don't, why not?), is that I got my beloved camera back! Thanks to good ol' ESP, who read last week's blog and went on a quest of sorts to find it for me. She called the high school where I left it. See, I did this too, but apparently got a rather dim lady who told me they didn't have it. She told me this about 2 seconds after I explained the situation, so I should have known she didn't really check so good, but I have no oomph. ESP apparently has oomph, and spoke to the right people at the school, and voila! I have my camera!

And so I celebrated by not taking any pictures! That's so me.

It was a long weekend here at the Pod, I had Friday off, and I spent all of that day, most of that night, and part of Saturday recording my vinyl to mp3s. Yep, on Thursday I got the equipment I'd ordered for the task, it works beautifully, and I had a blast. Had you been here, I don't think it would be possible for you to have seen me any happier, sitting here at the Nerve Center, in my pajamas, surrounded by vinyl. Got lots of 80s stuff done, just a drop in the bucket really, but at about midday on Saturday I kind of ran out of steam and couldn't think of anything else I just had to have in iTunes. So I stopped. I haven't moved the turntable, though, because I have a feeling I'll get the urge again rather soon.

I did a blog some 3 years ago called "Vinyl Fetish" where I mentioned how I hadn't gotten out stacks of records and played them all day in such a long time. I got to do that this weekend, and I loved every minute of it.

Then Saturday it was to Mr M's, where we played clarinets, went out for Mexican food, and tried to watch movies. I rented three movies this weekend, only one of which I really wanted to see, but I fell asleep during that one. When I woke up, Mr M had changed to a different movie, I couldn't get interested, and so we ended up watching about 6 episodes of "My Name is Earl." I love Earl. I think Mr M may have been enjoying it, too. I don't know when those movies are ever going to get watched. They have to be back by Wednesday, and I have a feeling I just wasted my money renting them.

Anyway, since I have no pictures for you, I'm giving you not one, but two recipes du jour. Because, well, it is the holidays, you know.

Yes, it's Easter. And what does Easter say to you? Turkey? Ham? Eggs? Never. It says Peeps, people. Easter is all about the Peeps. Our first recipe is from the "Happy Easter" file at cardland, and here it is, say hello, it's just waiting for you, the Peeps Pyramid.

OK, this isn't so much a recipe as it is just playing with your food. I'll admit that right up front. All you do here is take a big-ass mess of Peeps and start stacking them on top of one another. This would make a fine table centerpiece for when the family comes to call for the holiday dinner. And then they do, well, those Peeps aren't through making everyone happy. They'll be a fine dinner when they become the Peep Loaf.

Ahhh, the good old Peep Loaf. All you do here is take your Peeps and line them up, as many as will fit, in your meat loaf pan. Then sprinkle them with cheese and bake them for several minutes. It's an odd thing with Peeps. When I took this pan out of the oven, the Peep Loaf was so high it was popping right out of the pan. After about 10 minutes it had sunk to its current state. But not to worry. I still scooped some out, covered it with the remaining pink sprinkles from the Peeps box, and everyone please keep a kind thought that my meat loaf pan will survive this. It's still soaking, and right now, things aren't looking so good.

Hey, do you like my Easter Eggs there? Made them myself. And by the by, you may want to have a couple of eggs handy if you're having Peep Loaf. You may need them later. If not to eat, then surely to throw at the cook.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Back to work. The only bad thing about a long weekend. Harder to go back to work.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

Ahhh, yes, it's that time again. Betland delves into the world of TV commercials.

And yes, as always, I generally despise TV commercials. However, there are the few that make me giggle, or tug at my heartstrings, or just have weird characters I think about way too often. God, how I miss the Elidel man. Remember him? A little computer animated superhero who looked like the offspring of Buzz Lightyear and Elvis Costello? ("Elidel. That's El - Ih - Del.") He hovered in mid-air, and yet, still walked upright there in mid-air. I loved that little guy.

However, someone has flown in to try and take his place. Superhero? Well, not in my book. Nasonex, the "helps you breathe" medicine, has given us all the Nasonex Bee. He's also computer animated, and flies around in the air, but walks on none of his six little legs. I'm supposing he has six, I haven't really counted. I haven't counted his bee legs, nor have I really heard anything he's said. I'm supposing it's, "Spray this stuff up your nose and let the good times roll" or something, but the reason I can't seem to be getting his message is because - no, I'm not lying, and yes, if you've seen it you know what I'm about to say - this bee has a Spanish accent.

The Nasonex Bee is Antonio Banderas!

Well, I guess he isn't, really, and he doesn't look like the bee pictured here. And he certainly doesn't wave a gun, though he is a drug pusher of sorts. I just imagine him to be the Antonio Banderas circa "And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself" type of bee.

Anyway, he's OK, as bees go, gun or no gun, and I certainly understand the whole Bee Thing, stuffy noses and pollen, but why does he have to have that accent? Is he one of those Killer Bees heading our way from Mexico? Or is he just like Mirna and Charla from "The Amazing Race," who go to foreign countries and speak to the natives there in badly accented English, thinking this will make them better understood.

No matter, let's continue.

I will now readily admit to being totally in love with the Rozeram commercials. They're the tranquilizer commercials who tell all us insomniacs, "Your dreams miss you." And we see one poor soul whose dreams miss him, and they confront him about the whole mess right there in the guy's kitchen. Abraham Lincoln's there, as well as an astronaut and a rather grouchy talking groundhog. I don't know what this guy eats before he goes to bed, but those are some interesting dreams, because apparently they all play chess together ("Abe cheats," Mr Groundhog says, and I don't believe that for a minute), and the astronaut's fixing something to eat, and the groundhog's chowing down on either pancakes or French toast, I can't tell.

I'm crazy about the whole idea of this, and I love that surly groundhog. This is not him, by the way, this is Herschel. Herschel is the groundhog who lives in a hole in Mr M's backyard, and used to come up onto his deck when we played clarinet duets. The DeepFatFriar got this photo of him enjoying a tune. Sherman and Herschel are great friends, and though I haven't seen Herschel in a long time, Mr M swears to me he's still there in backyard. I don't know if I believe him or not. I get a little hinky about these things, you know.

Anyway, just as I was grooving on this commercial with the astronaut and Abe and the groundhog in the kitchen, a couple more commercials started showing on my TeeVee. Suddenly the astronaut was out of the picture, apparently poor Mr Insomniac cut out the pepperoni and anchovies on his midnight pizza, but Abe and the groundhog are still there, and they confront a sleepy Mr Insomniac at the bus stop. There's also one where Abe and Mr Groundhog are in an office space playing paper football at a desk, and it borders on the bizarre, but I guess maybe that's where they wait to be summoned into dreamland. One of these ads, I guess it's the bus stop one, features an ending that's quite cute, where Mr Insomniac is speaking to his co-worker, we'll call her Ms Insomniac, and we'll do that because she's being followed by a little blue pony as she walks away.

You know, I don't sleep much, and I'm just waiting for my dreams to confront me. I don't remember a lot of my dreams, and I'd like to see what some of them are.

As you all know, because I often tell you, I'm a grown woman, allowed to go out by myself and vote and everything. However, sometimes I sit in front of my television set and blubber like a baby at commercials. This isn't the kind of thing I'm particularly proud of, but it happens. And the latest series of commercials that have me running for my tissues are for Pedigree doggie chow. If you haven't seen them, I'll tell you about them, but I'll wait a few seconds while you run and get some tissues for your own self.


Pedigree is embarking on a public service endeavor where they're trying to get dogless doggie lovers like me to adopt. And their new commercials show various dogs, with their big, wet, sad, doggie eyes, looking out at us from behind cages in various animal shelters. And the voiceover says, "I know how to sit, how to fetch, and how to roll over. What I don't know is how I ended up here." Then Pedigree gives its little talk to us, and the commercial ends with the voiceover saying, "I just want to go home."

Well, I can't tell you exactly what this does to me. I could try, but it would be pointless.

And just when I was getting over the fact that I was going to have to buy a new box of tissues for the Poderosa, I'll be damned if Pedigree didn't release a follow-up commercial. It features Oliver. This is Oliver, brave Oliver, who was one of those original pound puppies, but guess what. He got to go home! They show Oliver being picked out by his new human, and then they show how great Oliver's life has become.

Oliver's happy now! So where does that leave me? There in front of my set, blubbering like a damn baby again. Sweet, valiant Oliver, happy in his new home. *sniff.*

Wonder if I dream about Oliver, he'll come to see me? I'll fix him pancakes and French toast.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, tell me about Exercise.
- Honorable Mention goes to Duke, with his, "And your pink potato dish is still creepy." OK, that wasn't really an acro entry, it was just a comment. But I needed a third place.
- Runner-Up goes to Flipsycab, with her, "Fulfilling: pilates, yoga. Hard: jousting." Yep, jousting is definitely hard. Especially if you're on the business end of that pole.
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her, "Fat? Pallid? You hate jogging." I am! And I do!
- Thanks to all who played (and the one who didn't). You've all done very well!

Monday, April 02, 2007


Hello, acroees, acroers, and acroites. And welcome to another happy round of acromania.

Here I sit. I threw away some stuff on the Nerve Center desk, but it's still a mess. It's OK, I'm too tired right now to care. See, I've started back walking.

Now, exercise was a topic of conversation at the last poundsqueeze chat, and let me tell you, the opinions were flying. I personally am of the "two camp" opinion. There are two camps, those who love exercise and those who hate it, and one chooses one's side early in life and it never changes. I'm in the "hate it" camp. I may do it, but I'm not happy till it's over. And even then it's not a "filled with endorphins" kind of happy, it's an "oh Jesus, I got that finished" happy.

So this week's acrotopic shall be Exercise. Love it? Hate it? Do it? Tell me anything you want, just tell me something, or we'll have an acrochallenge like last week's. Everyone's a winner, because only one person took the challenge.

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 do much exercise. He figures he'll stay in shape by carrying all those letter tiles around in him. Then tomorrow at 10pm est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners, who'll enjoy a day of lazing around doing nothing, and the non-winners, who'll have to work extra hard.

This week's topic, Exercise. The letters:


There you go. Now get off the couch and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Cute comment on yesterday's blog, Stenns. "Heh" right back at ya. I knew all of that stuff Duke imparted upon me, because I've been reading! Yes, me! Reading!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to a rather short round of Picture Sunday.

This is because, and if you listened to this week's hucklebug podcast you already know this, one week ago today I lost my beloved digital camera. Well, I didn't lose it, I know exactly where it was, I left it at the high school after the Community Band's Spring Concert. I sent a student of Mr M's to check on it the next day, but no. Not that I was expecting to get it back after leaving it in such a public place, but I'm now left with the old camera I dumped but (thank God) didn't throw away when the new one was purchased. Picture taking is not so much fun, and pictures aren't so good.

You know, though, changing the subject, ever since I got my new big computer desk, Mr M calls the dennette of the Poderosa the Nerve Center. He bought me a wall clock for there just like the ones TV newscasters in the 60s used to have behind their desks. In fact, he says I should have about four more, all set with the times of big cities around the world. I personally think I need four more, all set with the times of big cities on the east coast. That would be funnier.

Right now the Nerve Center is about as messy as it gets. For a desk as big as this one I'm sitting at, there's not an inch of empty space on it. It's filled with the regular stuff, printers, scanners, etc, but also with scraps of paper from past recipe du jours, mail, snacks, wires, cables, headsets, note pads, pictures of Kim Jong Il in various states of dress, clarinet music - well, it's a horrible place to spend as much time as I'm spending lately. And yet, I've not seemed to mind it enough to do anything about it. Maybe the cleanliness of the Nerve Center is dependent upon the condition of my nerves at any given time. Somehow, I could believe that.

Here's a particularly messy corner of The Nerve.

See? And no matter how bad it may look to you, I promise you it's worse. It's like I'm in this chair looking out upon a vast wasteland. Literally. A land of waste.

Anyway, the reason I'm even taking pictures of the Nerve Center is to show you what I spent the second half of my day doing. I spent the first half sleeping late and loafing, by the way. But I spent the second half grappling - I mean really grappling - with trying to set up a way to record my LPs and save them into the computer as mp3s.

See? Speaking of beloved. There's my turntable, part of my old, cherished, and beloved stereo system, right there at the nerve center. I got a small album and two sides of a single done. This is because they were mono, and sounded just fine. Stereo stuff, well, it would sound just fine if it wasn't so damn soft. I need to either buy another piece of equipment or lug the amplifier from my old, cherished, and beloved stereo system to the Nerve Center, and I'm not sure I have the werewithal to do that. Not today, anyway.

When I get it going, though - my iTunes library will know no bounds of limitations!

OK, let's get to the recipe du jour. Picture may not be much, but boy, am I proud of this recipe. So proud, in fact, I've yet to chuck it out in the recipe du jour cleanup. It's still sitting there, prettying up my kitchen (The Egg).

Hey, you like carbs? Feel guilty about it? You shouldn't, I say, "Eat what you like!" However, you probably don't listen to me, do you? And for that reason, I've concocted this little dish of delight. From the "All-Inclusive" file at cardland, please say hello to Pink Protein Potato Peafest!

Put this on your plate (or in a fancy glass, like I did), and your meal will give you all the elements to make your nutrition complete. All you do is take a serving of mashed potatoes, mix some Crapius protein powder into it (I used strawberry kiwi, for the pinkness, but think of the colors you could have!), and then for a little more vitiminimal oomph, I added some peas. Because, well, really. Peas! How can you go wrong with peas?

I didn't have the nerve to taste it, but by damn, it sure smelled nice. And it looks something like a disease. Tropical Crud, or Measles, or something.

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* It is with a heavy heart tonight that I announce the death of Chippie, my sister's terrier, who met a very untimely demise at the end of last week. It was a very sad story. I almost blogged about it, but it was so sad I just couldn't. He was killed by two pit bulls who escaped from their pen and caused an afternoon-long police manhunt. (Or doghunt.) They killed two dogs, two family pets in town, and Chippie was one of them. This was the happy little dog who loved to pee on me. He once peed on me, and then sat on my head. But he was a loveable little fellow, and I'll bet when he got to doggie heaven, he peed on St Peter. Bye, Chippie, you shall be missed.