Sunday, December 30, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, nay, end of yearers! It's the last Picture Sunday of the year.

I must address a comment left in the last blog, by Duke. Duke asked what kind of a blog tender I must be to have an entire week off from work and not print one single blog during that time. And so I answer you, Duke. A lazy one! In fact, it was a lazy vacation. I barely left the house. I slept late, stayed up late, cleaned, took down the Christmas tree, tended the kitchen floor, did lots of laundry, and generally caught up on all the things I'd been letting go lately. Well, except blogging, I guess.

I stayed up all night on Christmas Eve recording blogs for my dad's Christmas stocking. That seems to be becoming the yearly tradition. Then it was a lazy Christmas with the family. Only one picture from that. It's of Sherman and his new car again. However, there's a twist.

First of all, I got a major case of the giggles watching The Nephew playing with the car. See, all I can do is lurch forwards and backwards, turning around and running into things. Then Taytie took over the controls on Christmas. "You forget, I've done this my entire life," the nearly 19 year-old told me. He then sped Sherman here and there, around furniture and the tree and people's legs, and it was hilarious. I'll bet Sherman's car was hitting 20 mph.

The next part of the story comes from something I put in the sister's Christmas stocking. Weeks earlier, we were reading an article about The 10 Worst Christmas Gifts, and one of them was a yodeling pickle. Her response to that was, "Dang, I'd actually like to have a yodeling pickle." Well, I know my Archie McPhee catalog, and I know they have the yodeling pickle. And he showed up in her stocking. And you know, it's a little odd to hear this, but the yodeling pickle is actually quite tasteful. The yodeling is nice and clear, not too over the top, and the pickle itself is very lifelike. She loved her yodeling pickle.

But my major giggles turned into helpless giggles when The Nephew and I decided to give the yodeling pickle a ride in Sherman's car. There the two of them were, speeding all over my folks' house, weaving and dipping and missing feet and furniture. I got a picture.

Oh, here's another thing that happened on vacation. A continuing four-day game of Text Twist, playing whenever I was hanging around the Nerve Center, that's still ongoing and holds my as yet highest score. Yes, folks, as of last night I surpassed the six million point mark.

Alas, Friday I finally got a case of cabin fever, and headed out of town. I found myself in B'burg, where I did a bit of shopping at Target and had dinner with Mr M and the DeepFatFriar. Shopping, burgers, clarinet duets, coffee, then back home. I got two more shelving units for the shelves in the living room, because my videos and DVDs were spilling off the shelves and over the floor. I put them together, my shelves are now really high, and I even splashed out and printed out some new photos for the top.

Did absolutely nothing today, save for watching a very long movie, and put the new stickers on my car. See, along with the camera and printer, Mr M slipped a little something else into my Christmas present. It's about time my car was so adorned.

And that brings us to the recipe du jour. Yes, the last recipe du jour of the year is also the first using my new camera and new printer given by Mr M for Christmas. It's a little number you might want to serve at your New Year's Eve parties. It's from the "Timely Appetizers" file at cardland, and please say hello to it now, the New Year's Eve Tortilla.

It's easy and versatile. Take a tortilla, that's your clock face. Then give it some numbers, I used olives because that's all I had around, and I didn't want to cut numbers out of food. Spread your salsa liberally over the tortilla, and add some hands. I used cheese, because what's a salsa'ed up tortilla without cheese. I, of course, placed my hands right before midnight, so we can all salute the new year.

And a happy week, and happy 2008 to you all.

And since I won't be around tomorrow or Tuesday, the Olympic Update shall be an acro. I'll give you all till Wednesday at 10pm est to play.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* OK, I think we do it every year, but I guess that's because it needs to be done. This week's acrotopic? "What is Your New Year's Resolution?" The letters?


Acro yourself into the near year!


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders! Welcome to another round of Picture Sunday.

Yes, it was a happy "end of weekend" greeting. Because I'm officially on vacation until January 3d. So let it be Sunday night. I don't care if all my presents aren't wrapped, if my house looks like a cyclone hit it (but not like a pigsty, we've been through that already), and that I'm headed to podcast in 30 minutes and haven't had dinner or finished this blog. It doesn't matter, it's all good.

I was pretty busy all week, which explains the lack of blogging. Then this weekend I headed to B'burg to play the clarinet quartet concert I'd mentioned, the one at the retirement home, for which I was to be paid a quarter by Mr M, owing to the fact that I wasn't playing Christmas music again unless I was paid. I didn't get my quarter. I'm taking him to small claims court.

It's OK, though, it came off quite well, even though my own playing was a little suspect, and for a concert that began as somewhat of a surprise (the residents didn't know about it till an announcement as we were setting up), we had a pretty good showing of people, and they really seemed to enjoy us.

Then it was back to Mr M's to celebrate the holiday with him and the DeepFatFriar. And let me tell you, it was an embarrassment of riches. Because, well, Mr M really kitted me out where Picture Sunday is concerned. He gave me a new printer, which I got to pick out today. He'd kind of mentioned that one to me, so it didn't come as a total shock, but it sure was a nice present. I've been limping along on the old printer I've had for at least, well - I had it when I moved here, so it's at least six years old.

But then, he shocked me by handing me a brand new digital camera! That, I was not expecting. It's a Nikon Coolpix, has 8.1 megapixels to my old and paltry 3.2, has movie capacity with sound, and all kinds of nice features. It's also very small, it'll fit very nicely with Sherman in my striped bag when I go see the Hackensaw Boys, and it's black. I mean, really. Black just oozes cool.

And so, let's have a moment of thanks for the old camera, as it passes the torch by taking one last picture. Of my new camera.

Nice polka dot bag it's sitting on, huh? I bought that as a gift for myself. So there.

Oh, Mr M also got me a new reed case, which is very chic and comes with a turquoise plaid flannel case. Yes, it's so high class, my case has its own case.

But what did Sherman get, I'm sure you're wondering. Well wonder no more. Sherman got (let me slip into my TV game show announcer voice) - a brand new car!

Yes, he'll now be tooling around in his remote control sports car. He's been practicing his frontwards and backwards driving, turning, and not falling out. He's also been scaring the bejesus out of Alice the Cat, who just doesn't know what to make of this moving object. Look for him on a highway near you.

And while we're at it, how about my annual Christmas Tree Photo?

Yep, there it is, surrounded by the few gifts I've wrapped and hiding the rest of my boys. I think if you look closely you'll see Mr Peanut, Huckie, and Gossamer. They're all back there, sitting under the tree in the boat I got from Kellie with an ie this summer.

And finally, not one to be content with only receiving, Sherman also got into the spirit of giving and gave Mr M a Christmas present. And really, from the kids, nothing beats a handmade gift. That's just what Our Boy did, too. And it became this week's recipe du jour. It's from the "Sherman's Baked Goods" file at cardland, and please say a big holiday hello to the Clarinet Cookie.

As Sherman himself puts it, "Who doesn't love the clarinet, and who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies?" Who could disagree? All you need for this is some frozen cookie dough. Sherman chose choco-chip, you could choose anything. Then you roll it out thinly, bake it, take a sharp knife, and start carving your horn. Make some indentations for the finger holes, then take white icing and start your adding of keys and rings. Or strings, if you choose to make a chocolate chip violin, or even pedals if you're really imaginative and decide to make a gingerbread organ. Which sounds rather dirty, but that's just me.

Happy week, and happy holidays.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Remember my blog about the practice of overpackaging? There's a blog (and an angry letter) in the future to Mattel for the packaging of Sherman's car. Stay tuned.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another round of Picture Sunday. We will now have a recipe du jour. (*rustle, rustle, looking at papers*) Ahem. We will not have a recipe du jour.

Thank you, "The Music Man." You have a million quotable lines, but that may well be my favorite.

Anyway, no recipe tonight, because I've spent the entire day involved with the Christmas pageant here in town. Two performances, they both came off fairly well, I made my share of mistakes but did OK on the solos, and the second performance was greatly enhanced by some ringers in the choir. One in particular had a booming bass voice the like of which I'm not sure I've heard before. It was fun, and even better, it's now over. And there's a statement where you really don't want to confuse "now" with "not."

OK. Let's talk Christmas.

Due to some dodgy weather here, I didn't get to head to B'burg on Saturday and so I decided to do some local shopping. Disappointing to be sure, but I got a nice chunk of Christmas List wiped off. Finally decided on a gift for The Nephew, but am now worried I've left it too late. I hope everyone out there has the option of Federal Express.

Later last night, though, Mr M and I were having a little chat via Messenger, and we came up with the World's Perfect Christmas Gift. And as a public service to those of you out there still stumped for that special gift for your nearest and dearest, I shall announce it to you now.

The anvil.

I have a feeling you might be doubting us a little. But trust us, please.

1. The anvil comes in all shapes and sizes. You'll never buy one for someone and have them return it because it doesn't fit.

2. The anvil never wears out. It has a two thousand year warranty.

3. The anvil is a great conversation piece.

4. The anvil can also be used as a coffee table.

5. The anvil will not blow away during a hurricane.

6. The anvil comes in different colors, and can be painted if it doesn't come in a color your loved one likes, like puce.

7. The anvil makes a great barrier so people won't park in your driveway.

8. The anvil makes a great sound when you hit it with a hammer.

9. The anvil shines up really nice.

10. You'll never have to clean under an anvil.

11. Shipping costs for an anvil can usually be kept to under $200.

12. The anvil holds heat, so if you put it out in the sun during the day, you can bring it in at night and it will heat your house.

13. The anvil can double as a musical instrument, if your band plays "The Anvil Chorus."

14. If you're stuck for a last minute idea, you can receive an anvil in less than 20 seconds, provided you order it from Acme.

So there. The only downside is that a really nice anvil is rather pricey, but really, isn't it worth it to give the gift that keeps on giving? I think it is.

Speaking of the holidays, I hope everyone got a chance to see my Holiday Special, which is contained in the blog entry below. I was particularly happy with the casting. I hope to leave it up for a little while, but I have a feeling I'll eventually have to remove it when it starts taking up too much space or crashing out my blog.


However, not to be outdone, Mr M has weighed in with his own little film. Yes, my best buddy is trying his best to keep me from winning an Oscar by trying to nab one himself. His isn't holiday-themed, but it's a pip. It's a musical along the lines of Oklahoma, only much, much better. And I'm giving you the link to go check it out.

Go watch Mr M's movie.

In case you're wondering, the cast list is such: Boys are Sherman in his "Pops Sherman" disguise and Huckleberry Hound, and Girls are the DeepFatFriar and my clarinet nemesis (for those of you who remember the whole Chicago Symphony Blue Windbreaker Clarinetfest debacle) Larry Combs. I have to admit that, upon seeing Mr Combs in this movie, I laughed so hard coffee came out my nose.

And now on to a few pictures. Not mine.

You all remember Hiram, don't you? Just like I have The Boys, the cartoon characters who live with me here at the Poderosa, Mr M has Hiram, his large rubber vulture. Hiram makes an annual appearance at Oktoberfest, but the rest of the time stays at Mr M's workplace. This is because he took Hiram to work one day and his co-workers wouldn't let him go back home.

Here's the best picture I can find of Hiram at Oktoberfest.

Rather formidable. Here's what these geeky computer nerds have done with Hiram at the office.

I think he looks stunning, and it makes me wish I worked in a place where people were not only creative, but also had the time to put costumes on rubber vultures.

And that's about it from me. Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Remember - the ACA (Anvil Council of America) is counting on you to push anvil sales this holiday season through the roof.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Don't send a lame Holiday eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I'm Here. I'm Here? (*poke, poke*) Yeah, I'm Here

I'm sitting here with the sinking feeling that my long, fabled and loving relationship with my beautiful and strong-handed pedicurist might be reaching its end.

My beautiful, etc pedicurist and I had a long absence from each other. I won't call it an estrangement, there were no hard feelings. I missed an appointment and never called to reschedule and she had a spate of medical problems, and we just kind of lost each other in the Rush That is Life. I probably went three months with no pedicures, no nice leg and foot massages, and I walked around on feet that sported badly painted toenails, but I survived. It wasn't that big a deal.

Then my beautiful, etc pedicurist called me out of the blue. She wanted to know if I was OK, if I was mad at her for some reason, we talked a while, and we set up an appointment for me to come back. That was in October. She scheduled me for a Monday. I told her I'd rather not be there on a Monday, but it's all she had open. I explained my Monday Podcast Philosophy, and now, I know that people who don't know and/or care anything about podcasts don't get this, but I try to explain it in very plain and simple terms so they will. Due to east-west time differences, I don't start recording my little internet show until 10:oo pm. (This has now meandered to 10:30, but it doesn't matter.) The recording and pre- and post-podcast conversation between Stennie and I goes late into the night, and I sometimes find myself finally disconnecting from the whole matter at 1:30 am or even later. Therefore - and really, how hard is this, even for someone far, far away from the internet broadcasting world - I basically have to be ready for bed at 10:00 pm on Mondays. That means I have to have completed dinner, dishwashing, any household tasks, have my face washed, teeth brushed, contact lenses out, and pajamas on, by 10:00 pm. Because after recording, I must hie my ass to the bed immediately. It's a routine I don't mind at all and have become very comfortable with, but it's the way it must be. It just must.

So I gave this plain and simple tale to the pedicurist, and she said, and I quote, "I'll schedule you for 6:30. That way I can have you back home at 8:00." And I could deal with that. That still gave me two hours to get all my tasks done and be ready to podcast.

When I arrived at her shop that night, at 6:25, there was someone ahead of me having a manicure. The beautiful, etc told me cheerily that my pedicure bath was awaiting me and to go start my soak. Which I did, but at 7:15, I was still soaking and she was still working on the person ahead of me. She arrived for my pedicure around 7:25, and it was about 8:45 by the time I finally got to leave, and it takes a half-hour to get back home. Needless to say, I was a little peeved, and mentioned this to her in a very kind way, not being peeved, but that she was to never again give me a Monday appointment because, and again I quote, "You promised to have me home at 8:00, and it will now be 9:15 when I get home and I still have to do all those things before 10:00." Her reply was, "Oh, I thought that was Tuesday you had to do all that stuff."

Now, this is just ludicrous, because I didn't get a Tuesday appointment. Why would I tell her all that about Tuesday if I couldn't even get an appointment that night?

Anyway, she scheduled my next appointment for a Thursday, which was tonight, and I have no commitments on that night, so I was ready to go have a relaxing pedicure and wash the stress from my feet and my life. When I arrived, she was holding her two-year-old daughter, and - no, I'm not making this up - putting her in a bathing suit. She said, "I've got her tonight," which didn't really bother me, the little girl's sometimes there and sometimes not, but it became very clear to me very quickly when she said, "She'll want to splash, splash, splash" that there wasn't someone looking after the girl, as is usual, and that my pedicure was going to involve a two-year-old child.

I used to hate kids. Let me make that perfectly clear. But The Nephew came along, and I got old and mellow, and I've learned that they're not as hideous as I once thought they were, but this really set my teeth to grinding, and I went back to soak. And after not three minutes of soaking, which, believe me folks, is not nearly enough, back she came with girl in tow to start my pedicure. And so I spent the next next hour getting a pedicure while a two-year-old rubbed lotion on my legs, asked to sit in my lap, gave me kisses, played and splashed in my foot bath, picked up all the sharp pedicure instruments, got smacked for such, cried, and asked for a diaper change.

Well, I'm no fool, and I know there are many, many things worse in this life than being kissed on by a two-year-old girl, but this was the most stressful manicure any person ever had in the history of the Beauty Industry.

I drove home, still grinding my teeth, and I'm now drinking a pitcher of martinis to try and forget.

And this all falls under the heading of, "I'm Just Too Damn Nice." For each of the above-mentioned appointments, I should have walked in, assessed the situation, and said, "This isn't a good night, I'll come back another time." I mean, that's honest and still nice! That's not even having to let out my real feelings, for cryin' out loud. But no, I sit and endure and grind my teeth, and I even let the beautiful, etc make me an appointment for next time, and I'm just a big, fat, steaming pile of sap. That's all there is to it.

Speaking of being a sap, guess who's back on the loose? Yep, Nervous William.

I'd been avoiding him pretty well lately, but last week when the boss was out of the office and I was sitting at her desk, in he came. It was so quick that San didn't have a chance to alert me and let me run to the back of the building to hide. He came in and sat across from me, spewing his spew, only about a third of it based in reality, and I was, well, I think, for me anyway, pretty damn rude. I sat at the desk and worked on all the tasks I was working on without looking up, not speaking to him. Made no difference, he stayed until he got to spew all his stuff, then he headed out and left me behind nursing a headache.

I was back at my desk, my normal station, yesterday, and saw him walk in the door. I immediately picked up the phone. Not to call anyone, just to have the red light blinking that I was on Line One and couldn't be disturbed. I held the phone receiver and went about my normal job duties. Five minutes turned into ten, and San walked back to my desk and said, "He's not leaving till he sees you," and I told her, "He can sit there till hell freezes over or he dies, but I'm not seeing him."

God bless the boss, she ran interference for me and said I was way tied up and could she help, and so he spewed to her for a while and finally left. It's not over, though.

Now, as we all know, it's Christmastime the world over, and in Betland as well. Until yesterday, I'd bought a total of one present. So I decided to get off my - wait, that's a lie - to get on my ass and hit the internet, and I ordered several more presents, but I'm far from being done with the shopping. And that starts into the reason why blogs, Picture Sundays, and Acros have been distinctly missing from your lives lately.

I'm spending most of my Christmas Season immersed in music. Playing music, practicing music, traveling to play music, thinking about music, wishing I didn't have to play music, and on and on. I've done a concert with the Community Band, another concert with a clarinet choir. That one was interesting. About eight of us, clarinets of all shapes and sizes, from the tiny E-flat clarinet to the massive contra bass clarinet. Meeting in a retirement home to play - for the first time ever - a concert. Yes, we sightread a concert, flying by the seats of our pants, and it was as you might imagine. Horrendous in the beginning, but finally starting to gel by the end, and I ended up really enjoying the experience. Other highlights of that concert were meeting a sweet doggie one resident brought along, and seeing, and I'm serious when I'm saying this, the biggest cat I've ever seen in my life. We called him Catzilla, and he wasn't just a fat cat, he was huge! He had feet the size of tigers' feet.

Most of my time, though, has been geared towards what I call "The Town's Christmas Concert," but that's really something of a lie. It's actually the local Methodist Church's Christmas Concert. It's at their church, and features their choir. However, since the church's musical director is the high school's old band director, he wrangles all his old students into being in the orchestra. And we don't dare say no. I mean, it's Mr Jones, beloved Mr Jones, and you just do not say no.

Practices have been at a minimum, and that's a shame because it's a nice program and very difficult, and we're going to totally screw it, due to the few practices and the fact that that church's choir is the biggest bunch of time-wasting bastards I've ever been around. But it will take place, ready or not, this coming Sunday at 10:30 am and 4:00 pm, and we'll either blow it like Mr Wind Himself, or squeak by without making fools of ourselves. And it's just a hunch, but I have a distinct and dreadful feeling that Nervous William is going to be sitting in the pew for at least one, if not both, of the performances.

And so I've said, to anyone who'll listen, that the 16th, the day of that concert, is the end for me. "If anyone wants me to play Christmas music for them after that, they're going to have to pay me," I've said, more than several times. Well, I was reminded last night by the very Mr M that he's lined up another clarinet choir concert for yet another retirement home in B'burg on the 22d. I can't say no because this is the "lesser" retirement home, the one where people with no money end up, and no one comes to them to give them smiles and music, but I told him my play-or-pay rule after the 16th, so he's giving me a quarter to play that concert. I'll take it, but I hope no one finds out, because then he'll have to give a quarter to everyone else who plays.

I've got a week to finish the shopping, get in the presents I've ordered, and wrap. I'm oddly not worried about it all. I mean, I endured 90 minutes of being kissed by a two-year-old. I'm strong.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* What are you talking about? That was an Olympic Update!
* OK, OK, update. Alessandro Carbonare recently won the chromatic scale competition in the Lucerne Open, a precursor to the Clarinet Olympics.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

... In The Whole Wide World

As I write this, I'm sitting (which is good, typing while standing is difficult) and watching the yearly showing of "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer." As we all know, it's the best holiday special, any holiday, in the Whole Wide World. From the 60s stop-animation to the horrible lines ("His beak blinks like a blinkin' beacon!") to the gay elf dentist to the Abominable Snowman that ceases to scare after about age 8 to the beloved songs, well ... the best. No question.

That's kind of what this blog's about. The Best. I'm getting a little sick of The Best.

This all started, well, in my mind, not in reality, last week when I was given a magazine by a nice soul at band practice. She thought I'd like it because it's all about movies. And she was right, it's a fun magazine. It's called "Movies Rock." And it contains a list. We read through it last week, and I looked some more when I got home, and then it hit me how sick I am of all these lists. Everyone has them. The 50 Best This, The 100 Best That. This was just a random occurrence till about 10 years ago, when VH-1 got hold of the idea and rode it for all it was worth. And if you'll notice, VH-1 is now a non-entity in the world of cable television. I'm sure there's something to be learned there.

So now everywhere you turn you have to see The Best of everything. I mean, look at any TV commercial, if you dare, and I don't mean the ones selling products in the store. I mean the ones advertising the shows on the very TeeVee you're watching. It's gotten absolutely sickening in the past year. Every week you'll see a commercial for a TV show, and it's, "This week is the most exciting episode ever!" "The most shocking ending ever!" "The most amazing hour you'll see!" "The most outrageous hour this year!" And they're all for the same show! Every single week we're supposed to believe these shows can top themselves. Well, I don't. Not even the shows I like.

But anyway, VH-1 took this The Best idea and held on. They gave us the 100 Greatest Albums of All Time, The 100 Greatest Bands of All Time, The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time, The 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders, The 50 Greatest Hair Bands, The 100 Most Outrageous Television Moments, and on and on till you want to puke. And maybe you do puke, and I certainly can't fault you there. They never did the lists I wanted to see, like The 100 Best Misheard Lyrics, The 50 Bands That Should Have Retired Long Ago, The 100 Greatest Examples of Bad Plastic Surgery, The 50 Artists We're All Afraid To Admit Suck Wind, and the like.

Anyway, all these shows are four or five nights long, start at 100, and count down to the big Number One Slot, and we're all supposed to watch with bated breath. Like it matters. I mean, the Best? To whom? Youm? I mean, You? Who are you, Panel of List-Makers, to tell us what the Best of anything is.

Now, VH-1 is the most offensive of the list-makers, but there are others. TV Guide comes out with these from time to time, The Best TV Shows of All Time, The Best TV Stars of All Time, The Best Sidekicks of All Time. People and Entertainment Weekly are always telling us the Sexiest and Best and Worst Dressed, and the Most Exciting, and the everything else. We never see "Some Really Good Movies," "A Random List of Cute Guys," or "Here's Some Things You Might Have Missed." I wouldn't mind giving those lists a look.

Anyway, back to the "Movies Rock" magazine. Their list was "The 50 Greatest Soundtracks of All Time." The only thing I'll give them is that they started right out with Number One. We didn't have to turn pages and pages to get to the Big Spot. But that's about all I'll give them. And here's why. The Top Five Alone.

1. "Purple Rain"
2. "A Hard Day's Night"
3. "The Harder They Come"
4. "Pulp Fiction"
5. "The Graduate"


1. "Purple Rain" - Wrong! You've got to be kidding. Actually, Prince would probably appear in the aforementioned Artists We're All Afraid To Admit Suck Wind, possibly in the Top Ten. I can't be the only one who saw straight through this piece of self-aggrandizing crap. And for those of you who contend that "When Doves Cry" is some sort of masterpiece? Well, explain it to me, because I've never understood it. Send me a paper, 500 words, double-spaced, and I'll give it a read. When I have time.
2. "A Hard Day's Night" - Wrong! You've got to be kidding. "A Hard Day's Night" was the definitive music movie. Forget Elvis, he was in hack movies dancing around and playing characters. This was the Beatles being the Beatles, and it was magnificent. You tell me this album shouldn't be sitting at the Number One Spot. I won't believe you, but tell me anyway.
3. "The Harder They Come" - Wrong? Who knows. I haven't seen the movie. I know some of the songs. Reggae. Heard one, heard it all. That's just me, though. I certainly don't see it being Number Three.
4. "Pulp Fiction" - Interesting choice, but I don't know how I feel about it being so high up. Certainly good music in there, and no one can deny that the songs in "Pulp Fiction" made the movie what it was.
5. "The Graduate" - Wrong! You've really got to be kidding here. Simon and Garfunkel? I'm not sure I know what to say. Then again, I thought "The Graduate" was a terribly overrated movie (there's a list!), and for such a supposedly "edgy" premise, I'm not sure I'd go with folk singers doing "Scarborough Fair." Which when I was little, I thought they were singing, "Scarburr Affair." But again, I was small.

There's more to like and dislike in this list. These folks consider, for the Top Twenty, such gems as the soundtracks to "Boogie Nights," "Midnight Cowboy," and "Almost Famous." Forgettable, sorry, Nilsson, I love you and am glad you made some money from "Midnight Cowboy," but I wouldn't call the whole soundtrack great. However, on the bright side, they include in that same Top Twenty "Rushmore," "Animal House," "American Graffiti," "The Big Chill," and "The Blues Brothers." "O Brother, Where Art Thou" came in at 26, "Repo Man" at 35, and "Rock and Roll High School" at 40. "Last King of Scotland" weighed in at 46. I saw that within the past year, and I don't even recall it having a soundtrack.

And just to add insult to injury, there's a sidebar in this article that names the Five Best Music Documentaries, and "DiG!" isn't even on the list. That's a sin and a crime.

Only a few days ago, I was looking around on the internet during some dull moments at work. I'm not supposed to do this, so please don't tell anyone at TheCompanyIWorkFor I was doing it, or they'll send someone out to break my knees. Which unfortunately is not an injury serious enough to keep me home from work, because I'd still be able to sit at my desk. Anyway, I found myself on the Entertainment Weekly website, and they were touting a list called, and I swear to you I'm not making this up, as ludicrous as it sounds, "The 50 Smartest People In Hollywood." They actually found 50 people in Hollywood they thought were smart enough to put on this list, and yes, I was shocked, too. I was even more shocked after reading the list.

Coming in at Number 50 was Ben Affleck. Need I go further?

I will.

On down the list, and I have to be honest here and say a lot of these people are studio insider people and so I can't speak for anything they do, but down on the list is a composer who's done the scores for several films and can't read music. If he's so smart, why doesn't he learn? He might make better scores! Angelina Jolie pops in at Number 33, and I guess that's because she can be sexy and adopt children and go to Africa, all good things save for the being sexy, I guess, the inexplicable Ben Stiller weighs in at the inexplicable Number 20, maybe that's simply because after all the crap he's perpetrated on the world the man still has a career, and Mr Clooney comes in at Number 13, which I have no problem with other than the fact that he started a fight with Fabio recently, and that can't be very smart.

Tyler Perry slides into the Top Ten at Number 7, Meryl Streep edged him out to take Number 6, and Will Smith edged her out to take Number 5. Will Smith, the affable guy everyone likes, but really. I mean, Jodie Foster speaks fluent French and graduated from Yale, and she was only Number 30, for God's sake. Will Smith is the man who, while being interviewed recently and defending Tom Cruise and his Scientology thing, uttered the line, "You have people [that] are attacking and wanna fight that don't know nothing. How you gonna not know nothing about Scientology and attack somebody?" And while his idea is fine and his business, if the grammar is coming from the fifth smartest person in Hollywood, we're all in trouble.

Anyway, Judd Apatow is The Smartest Man In Hollywood, and I like Judd, so I'm not going to say anything snarky. Instead, I'll say this. Number Three was James Cameron. And really, like Ben Affleck, there's not that much more to say.

Meanwhile, not happy to let things be, the New York Daily News came up with the 50 Dumbest People In Hollywood. Lindsay Lohan tops that list, and Britney Spears comes in at Number 14. I have a hard time believing there are 13 people dumber, but apparently the Powers That Be think there are.

In fact, in the Dumbest People List I think we have the perfect opportunity to finally drop the placements and bunch them together. "Here Are Some Really Dumb People." "And If You Care, You're One of Them."

We don't care, though, do we?

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the way, Rudolph? Over. High Definition? Bullshit. They edited the holy crap out of it! They edited lines out of songs!
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what cookies are you bringing to the cookie exchange.
- Honorable Mention goes to me, because no one else played.
- Runner-Up goes to the DeepFatFriar, who just went wild with nut munchies this year, with his, "Rhino Rear End Nut Munchies." Sounds interesting, and oddly crunchy, for some reason.
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her, "Roasted Raisinet-enhanced nut meltaways." Mmm. I can't pass me up a good meltaway.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, December 03, 2007


Hello, lovers of letters. Welcome to another round of acromania.

What shall the topic be this week? How about cookies. I don't know, it just popped into my head. This is the time of year lots of offices have their annual cookie exchanges, where everyone makes a dozen cookies, brings them to work on a certain day, and they're divided up so everyone goes home with the same number of cookies they baked. In theory, this is good. In practice, not always so good. You can make a dozen or so really bitchin' cookies, but if there are some people in the exchange who make things like (as we called them that year in the TCIWF cookie exchange) Little Lemon Balls From Hell, then you've gotten yourself a serious case of the shaft.

But in the acro cookie exchange, we all know each other, and we're making imaginary cookies, so it'll all be fine. This week's acrotopic is, "What Kind Of Cookies Are You Making For The Exchange?" The fancier and more imaginative the name, the better the cookie.

All the other rules are the same. Everyone gets three entries to come up with the best acronym they can that not only matches the topic above, but also the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. The acrobasket is partial to Roasted Toasted Cocoaroons himself. Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

The acrotopic? "What Kind Of Cookies Are You Making For The Exchange?" The letters:


So, don't delay. Acro today.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I could go for a cookie, actually.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to yet another mind-numbing round of Picture Sunday.

You know, I don't know which makes me hate the end of the weekend more - a weekend where I've been on the road and then come back home Sunday to realize the weekend flew away before my very eyes, or a weekend where I stay at home, do sod-all, then lament on Sunday night the Weekend That Could Have Been.

I had the latter this time around. I didn't travel to Mr M's, for the simple fact that I wanted to catch the Hokie football game yesterday on TV and he doesn't get the channel it showed on. A silly reason to stay home, to some, and for a while it was shaping up as pretty silly to me as well, as the Hokies took about 3 quarters to catch some steam before they finally pulled it out. However, the real treat of my Saturday night was watching WVU get beaten and therefore knocked out of a chance to play for the National Championship. The only thing that makes me happier than a WVU loss is seeing it on television, where we get various and sundry shots of pissed off West Virginians in blue and gold. It was great - about as unexpected as the Italians dropping a match in Olympic Clarinet.

Then today I lived a life of absolute sloth, didn't do a thing except fix dinner.

And because of that, my friends and blogees, I have no Picture Sunday pictures for you tonight. Count your blessings. Had I documented my weekend, you'd be looking at pictures of me in various stages of half-dressedness, with really bad hair. However, I have a slight update to my blog of Friday, courtesy again of the dishy Michelle.

See, it was her link to a newspaper article that prompted the Friday blog, and she sent me something of, well, not an update so much as a companion piece. You can read the article here.

Seems the Chicago Public at Large isn't happy anymore with just stealing the Baby Jesus from Nativity Scenes and have decided to go for the whole schmeer. They're now trying to tear down people's entire Christmas displays, and this story tells the tale of one poor soul who tried to do something about it, and ended up being dragged by a car driven by the vandals.

Now, I'm no fan of vandalism, I think it's a pretty silly way to pass one's time. But I have a sneaking suspicion these ruffians might have been hired by the people who live across the street from this man, because if I had to look at all those decorations for the past 17 years (the length of time he's done this), I might be thinking of hiring someone myself. Let's do a quick summary of the picture there. OK, well, I don't know. I can make out some horses, what look like a few polar bears, a couple of reindeer. The trees are nicely decorated. I don't see any of my pet peeve, secular and non-secular items displayed together. Actually, if he'd lose the house lights, drop some of the tackiness from what all's in his yard, and get the lit Santa off his roof, I could accept it. So no, it wasn't me who hired the thugs who ended up dragging him behind their car. I'm innocent. However, I was alone in my house Friday night, so my alibi's a little shaky.

One other thing. I got an email from Mike, Man of Mystery and Movies, today. I just want you people to know the kind of friends I have. It read simply:

"**MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There was a dislocated thumb, an inaccurate news report, a hastily called press conference, a Mizzou meltdown, a Hokie revenge, a Sooner stunner, a Pitt uprising, a Les Miles redemption, a Mountaineer gag job and overwrought fan bases in all directions.**

Kinda makes that WVA game sound a little more unseemly than it really was. Like a night in the mantrap."

Yeah. Thanks, Mike.

But now on to the recipe du jour. You know, the holidays are smack-dab upon us, and I'm sure you're all going to be doing your fair share of party hosting. And aren't you all sick of the same old desserts, the cheesecakes, Christmas cookies, Baked Alaska, fudge, and so forth? Well, here's one your guests are sure to have never been served. Please say hello, from the Fun With Fiber file in cardland, to Bean Parfait.

Now, it helps to have lots of leftover beans in the refrigerator. Which I happen to have had, since I made two very beany recipes this past week. All you do is take the bean of your choice, some vanilla pudding, layer the two in a fancy glass (it has to be fancy, it's Christmas!), and top with whipped cream, cinnamon, and a few decorative beans. Serve to guests, then herd them out of your house as quickly as is humanly possible.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Boy, "The Amazing Race" is getting good. And now I have a definitive team to root for, since Stennie sprung the news on me that grand-dad/grandson team of Nicholas and Donald are in fact the son and father-in-law of singer Robbie Fulks. Blew my mind, that did, and I've liked that team from the beginning. I say, win it all, Robbie's family.