Sunday, January 27, 2008

Picture Sunday? Well, Not As Such, But CDs? CDs, Yes!

Hello, end of weekenders. There's no Picture Sunday this week, although there is a recipe du jour.

I've had something of a slacker weekend. See, I was sick Friday. And when I say I was sick, I'm telling you right here and now, I was sick. When your humble blogger ditches work for a day in her bathrobe curled up in the Comfy Chair, something is amiss, and it was. I was feeling a little better by the afternoon, but to be honest with you, I still don't think I'm back to my old self. I think I may have a touch of sinus infection.

I soldiered on to B'burg on Saturday for clarinet quartets, which, when I got there, were clarinet trios. Nevermind, the three of us had a good time playing. It was me, Mr M, and one of Mr M's students, a nice guy who's just right on the lip of having a really good time. I'm hoping one of these afternoons I'll say the right (or wrong) thing and get him to break out into an actual laugh.

Other than that, I wasn't much company. I slept most of the weekend, and even turned down the chance to go out to the movies so I could stay in and watch TV.

I came home today and sat around like a limp dish rag.

So I'm sure it comes as no surprise to you that I have no pictures for you, be thankful I even have a recipe for you. Instead, since the Sixth Great CD Mix Exchange has come and gone and the CDs are winging their ways to all of us participants, I thought it might be a good night to post my track listing.

For those of you not participating, this Exchange was called "The Do-Over," because all of the song categories had appeared on previous Mix Exchanges.

Here we go.

1. Sellout - song from a TV commercial: "Baby, Please Don't Go," by Them. Them! Those? No, Them! Them, featuring none other than Van Morrison on lead vocals. This song was used in a commercial that happened so many years ago I'm not quite sure whose product it was advertising, so I guess it didn't do a very good job. It was either Audi or Volkswagen, and featured a winding mountain road with cars and cars and cars driving around all those curves. At dusk, because their headlights were on. Even though the advertisers didn't make me remember who they were shilling, I sure appreciated them using this song, because I've loved it for years.

2. A song in a foreign language: "Cocoreyo," by The Arkin Family. Or as Mr M once said when I found this obscure gem of an album, Alan Fucking Arkin and the Whole Fucking Arkin Family. I don't know how many of these little vinyl nuggets are out there, the album was produced by Parents Magazine. And happy, happy day, it contained this song, sung in Spanish, about a Mexican chicken. Mexican chickens don't say "cock-a-doodle-doo," you know. They say "cocoreyo." As we find out. Mr F Arkin, man of many talents, actor, writer, teacher, singer, guitarist, and personal idol, also plays the flute on this one. Do his talents ever end?

3. A song about cheating: "Fake In Heart," by Pokey LaFarge. It's a joke between Stennie and I. We're often caught saying, "There are no songs about ____ (fill in the category of your choice)" when trying to do these mixes. Of course, there are hundreds, we just can't think of them. It took me forever to find a cheating song, but I chose this one because it not only mentions the man-woman cheating obvious to the category, but is also about people being mean and talking behind your back, which is certainly another kind of cheating. And it's by Pokey! Pokey LaFarge, also occasionally known as Pokey Hackensaw, who filled in on mandolin when Mahlon Hackensaw was off on paternity leave. Pokey's a total sweetheart, and when I met him, he sang me a song.

4. A song that makes you cry: "Center of Asia," by Paul Pena. This is from the great documentary "Genghis Blues," about Paul Pena and his trip to Mongolia to study Tuvan throat singing. Think that sounds dull? Well, think again, my friends. This film is at once interesting, uplifting, heartwarming, and yes, sad. At the point Paul sings this song, he's very sick (he's blind and a diabetic), can't get the medicine he needs, and has been told he has to end his trip and go back home. He sits in a room with his guitar and sings this song about being in the center of Asia, and it's about the saddest thing you'll experience.

5. A B-side - you remember B-sides: "See No Evil," by REM. Of course I remember B-sides, I'm a vinyl girl. I used REM last time this category appeared, so I was hoping to go in a different direction, like maybe a song where the B-side was as popular as the A-side. But REM are just rife with terrific single B-sides, and this is one of my favorites. It's a cover of the old Television song, and appeared as a B-side on one of the Christmas singles the band used to send out to their fans. And still may, but they don't to me anymore. I don't know what Michael's getting up to there at the end of the song, but it sure sounds fun. REM used to do this on rare occasions back in the good days when I'd go see them live all over the place. It was always great because at the end Pete Buck would run over and sing backing vocals. Which if you know your REM, Pete never sang.

6. A kickass cover song: "Wichita Lineman," by Freedy Johnston. Ahhh, the good old kickass cover song. It's a constant in the Mix Exchange. Sometimes it has a twist that makes it harder to pick a song, but this time it was back to the plain old kickass cover of your choice. And finally, after being an alternate more times than I can count, "Wichita Lineman" finally makes it to a CD. Normally the reason I leave it off is because it's rather slow, which some would fail to classify as "kickass." But it's so well done, and gives such a nice feeling to a great song, I'm giving it the legend "kickass" here and now.

7. An earworm - song you hear once and it's in your head all day: "Always Been A Rambler," by The Mercury Dimes. This song is older than dirt, and the melody line just gets into my bloodstream and festers. Add the mournful (and rather sinister-sounding) fiddle to it, and you have yourself an earworm. Or I do, anyway. I like how this song starts out about a man who likes to ramble, gamble, and drink, and then heads to the farmer with the beautiful daughter. You think, "Oh, boy, a farmer's daughter joke!" But this song is no joke, it's a tale of lost love. The Hackensaw Boys have been known to cover this one now and then, but I adore the Mercury Dimes' version - it's very old-time mountainy, just as it should be.

8. A great live track: "Nashville," by The Hackensaw Boys. Well, speaking of The Boys. How could I not use them as "great live track?" I mean, they're the most fun live band ever to take a stage. I almost went with another song for this, but it was an old traditional tune, and I thought it only fair to use one of the Hackensaws' original numbers. Great vocals, great charismo solo (go, Salvage Hackensaw!), faster than shit, and, well, by the time the Boys are singing, "Gonna pack my mule and ride," tell me you're not tapping a foot. Go ahead, I dare you.

9. Title out of nowhere - the song's title is mentioned nowhere in the song's lyrics: "True Faith," by New Order. I like to use a song for this category that not only doesn't say its title (well, if it did, I couldn't use it, could I?), but also leads you to believe the song is called something else. When "True Faith" came out, I loved it immediately, and went around stores looking for the single (remember those?), thinking it was called "Morning Sun." But it wasn't, was it? As I said in the CD insert, I think a lot of what I call "machine music" doesn't hold up well with age, but this one does. And that video - remember it? The people in weird rubber suits, and the two guys slapping each other's faces to to the drumbeat.

10. A song you've discovered since the last CD Mix Exchange: "The Mistress Witch From McClure (or The Mind That Knows Itself)," by Sufjan Stevens. Now, it's odd how this song is my recently discovered song. I've owned the album this is on, "Avalanche," for over a year. However, I'd never really listened to it. I'd sort of "spot listened." It's an album of outtakes, and contains three versions of Sufjan's "Chicago," a lot of songs lasting about 20 seconds, and a few songs deleted from the "Illinois" album. After recently seeing that "Danielson" movie, I picked it back up and listened, and found three really terrific songs on it, and this one's my favorite. I mean, how could you not love a song that uses, "Oh, my God" so effectively as a backing vocal? I had this as my "cheating" song for some time, then realized that what the boys see in the song may not actually be cheating. We don't know about the dad's situation. It sure does paint a vivid picture, though.

11. A duo or vocal collaboration: "Flesh #1 (Beatle Dennis)," by Robyn Hitchcock and Glenn Tilbrook. Miracle of Miracles! I found this one while going through CD and record after CD and record looking for "cheating" songs! Finding it was a godsend, and it cleared up this category so I could, well, truth be told, so I could completely re-tool my mix and put a lot of songs in different places. This is an odd little number, as if Robyn Hitchcock does any little numbers that aren't weird. I do like the lines, "Everyone worries so much about themselves/Everyone wishes so much upon themselves." Nice going, boys.

12. A geographical location song: "The Fly That Rode From Buffalo," by Southern Culture on the Skids. Why this song? Why this song when there are 15 million other location songs? Why this song when I could have used SCOTS in so many other categories? I don't know! This song makes me laugh out loud, and is fun to sing, and I like to listen to it in the car. And that's enough for me. Hope it is for you.

13. Musical question - song's title asks a question: "Where is Groovy Town?" by The Young Fresh Fellows. I can't remember if I've used the Fellows before on a mix. I've certainly tried. Great late 80s/early 90s band from Washington State. This song does in fact ask where there is a place where they don't have to hear, "I don't like what you do, what you think, or what you say."

14. And answer! This song's title answers the question of the previous song: "New Orleans," by Gary "US" Bonds. I couldn't think of any better answer to, "Where is Groovy Town?" than, "New Orleans." I'm actually kind of proud of this little couplet. It's like after being asked where Groovy Town is, Mr "US" Bonds takes the time to not only answer, but give an explanation to The Young Fresh Fellows. "Come on, take a trip, they've got honeysuckle, every belle is a Mississippi queen, listen to the dixieland." I'd like to see him leading them around town, actually.

15. Four letter word - song's title is a four letter word: "Smut," by Tom Lehrer. This was an alternate for the last mix's "four letter word." I tried to come up with something new and fresh, but kept coming back to "Smut," because it's just so damn funny. And not only is the title a four letter word, it's kind of, well, a four letter word. "I could tell you things about Peter Pan, and the Wizard of Oz, there's a dirty old man!"

16. A song about one of the Seven Deadly Sins: "The Money Song," by Monty Python. Is this a song? I do not know. It was a sketch back on the old TV show, and it's under a minute long, which is manna from Heaven in CD Mix Exchangeland. And is there anything greedier than these men singing, "There is nothing quite as wonderful as money?" I think not. Case closed.

17. A song you'd be embarrassed to play in front of your mom (or Stennie's mom, if yours is kind of cool): "Dirty-Mouthed Flo," by Robbie Fulks. Now, odd thing, this one. You'd think with a title like "Dirty-Mouthed Flo," this song would have more cussin' in it than you could shake a stick at. However, there's not one rude word in the whole song. However, it's got a couple of lines that are worded in a way that's pretty sexually graphic. May be mild by your standards, but not mine, not in front of Mom. And this just goes to prove that when I start out statements by saying, "Well, I'm no prude, but...," I guess I actually am.

18. A song about violence or death: "Caleb Meyer," by Gillian Welch. I love this song. The guitar work makes me want to pick up a guitar and play till I can play it, even if my fingers fall off. (Which would probably be fairly quickly, as I don't play the guitar.) Has violence, death, praying, great vocals, and, well, did I mention I love this song?

19. A guilty pleasure song: "No Time To Kill," by Clint Black. Ohhh, yeah. As I said when sending out my CDs, this genre of music usually has me running for the exits. I like old country, alt-country, psycho country, bluegrass, old-time, and honky-tonk music, but modern commercial country music just makes my damn skin crawl. 99% of it is utter and complete crap. But occasionally it produces a diamond, like this one. Great lyrics, and a melody line that just won't quit. A damn-near perfect example of writing a country song. And I don't know why, but there's just something so Beatlesque about it for me. I'd love to hear someone cover this.

20. An amnesty song - a song that fits two of the above categories: "What Am I Doing Hanging 'Round?" by Those Big Belt Buckles. This song comes from a little nugget of a CD called "Here No Evil," which is a bunch of crazy-ass covers of Monkees songs. So it's a kickass cover, mark that one off. It also asks a question, so mark that one off. It's also a nice version of the original, which is one of my favorite Monkees songs. (And yes, I love the Monkees. Not a bit ashamed to say that.)

21. A Bonus Track!!: "Leaning on the Lamp Post," by Herman's Hermits. I had no intentions of adding a bonus track to my mix, but when I realized my final song was a question song, and I realized I had the perfect answer, I couldn't help myself. And I also love Herman's Hermits. Hey, it's my childhood, OK?

So there you have it. Another Mix Exchange come and gone.

And now, the recipe du jour.

You know, I like coffee. I like coffee a little too much, actually. And you might like it too. Sure, every once in a while Those In The Know will come up with some benefits coffee may have, like antioxidants, but the naysayers usually have the final word. Until tonight! Because I've come up with something no one can poo-poo. From the "Because I Care" file at cardland, will you please say hello to Totally Benign Coffee.

Yes, this is your basic coffee, pick your personal favorite. However, instead of cream, I've stirred an entire small bottle of Pepto Bismol into it. I've let it cool down to "tepid" stage, cool enough to be poured safely into a glass. Then I rimmed the glass with toothpaste, and sprinkled the contents of two Tylenol PM capsules over the top. There you have it folks - a coffee that won't upset your stomach, won't burn you, won't stain your teeth, and won't keep you awake. It's totally benign coffee.

You know, I try to be cost-conscious when making the recipe du jour, and was a little worried at the prospect of buying a bottle of Pepto. Imagine my bliss at finding a cheap-o brand for $1.99.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* You've got to be kidding. Look at the size of this blog! I've been sick! I have no updates!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

In Bed, In My Pants, With Dire Consequences

Until about five years ago, I'd never heard of the "In Bed" game. I learned it from someone 20 years my junior. Apparently all these years I've been reading my fortune cookies incorrectly, because this young whippersnapper informed me that after reading one's fortune, the cookie-chewer is then supposed to add the words "in bed." You know - "He who eats duck has luck. In bed."

Well, when I'm with friends who know about the "In Bed" Fortune Cookie Rule, I use it. When I'm not, I don't. I'm not tied to it - well, I don't think I am. I probably have been guilty in some cases of reading my fortune aloud to an assembled throng, then quickly thinking to myself, "In bed!" Just to see if it fits.

Some time ago my buddy Stennie told me she had a great idea for the "Movies" segment of our Hucklebug podcast. As you may or may not know, this is the segment of our podcast where we each name the movies we've seen in the past week and give 30 second reviews of them. Stennie said she wasn't telling me her fun idea until we were recording, and I was fine with that. Turns out her idea was to, after saying the title of each movie we'd seen, add "in my pants." You know, had I been aware she was going to spring that game on me, I'd have been sure to watch "That Thing You Do! (in my pants)," "The Seven Samurai (in my pants)," "The Sound of Music (in my pants)," "Mr Hulot's Holiday (in my pants)," "The Man Who Came to Dinner (in my pants)," and "They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (in my pants)."

Now and then, when I'm least expecting it, Stennie will mention a movie on the Hucklebug and add "in my pants," and it never fails to crack me up.

The other day Stennie put up a new blog, called "Consequences, Schmonsequences." She told us how she got tickled at reading something on her TV information guide. It went like this: "The new maid of a wealthy family befriends the local postmistress, with dire consequences." She then hit the "info" button on the TV digital guide again, and started adding "with dire consequences" to the end of each. She invited us to do the same, and so I thought I'd pull up my own TV information guide and give it a go.

Maury Povich: Guests who believe they've witnessed paranormal activity discuss their experiences, with dire consequences.

The Andy Griffith Show: Opie spices up his penny newspaper by adding gossip he's overheard from Andy, Barney, and Aunt Bee, with dire consequences.

Fetch! With Ruff Ruffman: The second season ends with the kids competing to become the show's grand champion, with dire consequences.

Manna For Today: A weekly series featuring Bible teachings, with dire consequences.

Monk: The head of the West Coast mob asks if Monk can take the case when a barbershop is the scene of a shooting, with dire consequences. (I have a feeling there are dire consequences any time Mr Monk is involved.)

Snoop Dogg's Father Hood: Snoop tries to get more black Americans to play hockey, with dire consequences.

Mad Money: Colorful financial analyst Jim Cramer offers his insights into the market, with dire consequences. (Wonder if he was responsible for that stock market debacle earlier in the week?)

30-Minute Meals: A Greek-inspired meal is prepared, with dire consequences.

The Beverly Hillbillies: Jed gets an honorary doctorate when he donates money to a college, with dire consequences.

Cash Cab: Unsuspecting NYC taxi passengers are subjected to a trivia quiz, with dire consequences.

Rock of Love 2: The ladies compete in a peep-show contest, with dire consequences. Later, Bret holds a dance-off, and three contestants are eliminated, with dire consequences.

Clean House: Host Niecy Nash brings a sense of humor to the task of overhauling clutter-ridden homes, with dire consequences. (Everyone should know by now that cleaning house is not a laughing matter.)

M*A*S*H: BJ and Hawkeye go to extremes to get Charles to give up the French horn, with dire consequences.

Hannah Montana: Jackson is hired by Miley to be Hannah Montana's new assistant, with dire consequences.

Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: The Fenwick Arms, a mismanaged pub in rural Lancashire, England, is advised to get rid of its complex menu and get back to the basics, with dire consequences.

And that's just what's on right now. What if I want to watch during prime-time?

FOX - Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?: The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders assist a contestant, a paramedic from California who happens to be a Cowboys fan, with dire consequences. (Paramedic, heal thyself!)

ABC - Ugly Betty: Betty's assignment to interview a writer is spoiled by a case of mistaken identity, with dire consequences; Daniel is surprised to learn he's closer to his new love interest than he imagined, with dire consequences; Marc helps Amanda in her quest to meet her biological father, with dire consequences. (This show is just teeming with dire consequences - all this in 30 minutes?)

NBC - Chuck: When a contingent of Russian arms dealers descends upon Los Angeles for a clandestine meeting, Chuck discovers that one Russian lady may share a romantic past with Casey, with dire consequences.

CBS - CSI:NY: A 19-year-old woman is murdered in her bed at the hospital where she's being treated following a car accident she caused while driving drunk, with dire consequences. (I would think those were the dire consequences.)

PBS - Doctors on Call: A panel of health care providers answers viewers' questions on a specific topic, with dire consequences. (See they're not really doctors, they just play them on TV.)

E! - Celebrity Plastic Surgery: A report on celebrities who have undergone plastic surgery, with dire consequences. (Well, Michael Jackson springs to mind.)

HGTV - Designed to Sell: A plain bachelor pad is spruced up, with dire consequences.

Soap Network - All My Children: Ryan starts acting even more strangely, with dire consequences. (Come on, on the soaps, sitting around clipping your fingernails has dire consequences.)

FLN - The Martha Stewart Show: Martha prepares an egg-white and avocado salad, with dire consequences. (I hope it doesn't land her back in jail.)

While I was doing these, I started to realize I was leaving a lot of people in some damn dire circumstances. So let's do a few more, only changing "with dire consequences" to "and hilarity ensues."

Survivorman: Les Stroud is stranded on Costa Rica's Osa Peninsula, armed with swimming goggles, three ballpoint pens, a multi-tool, and the clothes he's wearing, and hilarity ensues.

Atomic Twister: A series of powerful tornadoes threatens to destroy a nuclear power plant in a small Southern town, and hilarity ensues.

Most Evil: The motive of revenge is investigated, and hilarity ensues.

Law & Order: Criminal Intent: A promising young violinist is brutally murdered while her mother, a famous opera singer, is performing, and hilarity ensues.

CSI: Grissom investigates the mysterious hanging death of a young man whose body looks like that of a female, and hilarity ensues.

The Winter X Games: The 12th action-sports festival opens in Aspen, Colorado, and hilarity ensues.

Larry King Live: The trial of Mark Jensen for the 1998 murder of his wife is discussed, and hilarity ensues.

Celebrity Rehab With Dr Drew: Entertainers enter treatment for substance-abuse problems under the guidance of Dr Drew Pinsky, and hilarity ensues.

Extreme Makeover: The "Extreme Team" goes to work on a newly single high school counselor and a 36-year-old sales rep, and hilarity ensues.

Yes, hilarity ensues. In my pants.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Hey! Check out my blogrolling links on the left there. I've done some adding and subtracting. Out are Flipsycab and Krizzer, whose blogs I miss, and if you two ever decide to take blogging back up, please let me know. Added are our very own Duke's It's A Noir World, which contains movie stuff, stories, and current events, and In The New, which is written by Jen, and is dedicated to her mission of doing one new thing every single day of her 29th year. I don't know Jen at all, read about her blog on, but I like her, her mission, and her blog.
* And speaking of doing new things, I did something I've wanted to do for years. I thanked a teacher. I saw my 10th grade English teacher today, and finally worked up the nerve to tell him how much he made me love writing, and how he'd inspired me. I don't know why something like that is so hard to do, but he seemed to genuinely appreciate the compliment.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

EK Betnstuff


I think I've told you about my idea for the perfect sitcom. Maybe I haven't. My brain's not what it used to be, but I have to have mentioned it somewhere along the line.

Anyway, my idea for the perfect sitcom would be about my life. It would star no less a person than me, and it would revolve around my job and life outside the Poderosa, but when the action came inside the Poderosa, it would star me and the cartoon characters living with me. Sherman, Peabody, Huckleberry Hound, Quickdraw McGraw, Good Luck Baby Lily, Gossamer the monster, Mr Peanut, and now, Che Guellama. We would all interact, and they would be living, breathing, talking cartoon characters.

Now, this wouldn't be one of those stupid "Mr Ed" type shows where I'm the only one the horse talks to and everyone thinks I'm crazy. This would be just how things are at the Poderosa, and anyone who came over would be able to speak to The Boys, and it would be considered as normal as going to someone's house and having a conversation with a spouse or child. The doorway into the Pod would be the doorway into a whole wonderful magical happy world.

I was thinking about this last night as I was putting up acrochallenge. It popped into my head because I always try to take time to mention my cranky wicker friend, the acrobasket, when I'm doing each week's acro. Then it hit me. I seem to give life to a lot of inanimate objects.

I have the acrobasket. My spare bedroom's The Beast, my bedroom's The Mantrap, my kitchen's The Egg. I drive podmobile2, who took over from the original podmobile when his poor steering wheel decided to detach itself from his body. I have the talking Scooba Doo doll, my beloved Comfy Chair, and hey, even my house. The Poderosa.

So today while I was very busy and trying not to think about things like my very own sitcom, I of course couldn't help but think about my very own sitcom. And it hit me that it wouldn't resemble "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" so much as it would resemble "H R Puffnstuff," or any other Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday morning TV show.

There would be no Witchiepoo, well, I certainly hope there wouldn't, but I do have a flute, so I guess I could have my own talking Magic Flute. The difference would be that all my cartoon characters and household objects would be smart and funny when they come to life. I also kept thinking of how cool it could be if the Poderosa itself could come to life, with window eyes and a door mouth.

And our little TV show would be full of all the things you hear about here, Fish Stick Night, and Friday Night Tag. I'd come home some nights to find Peabody morris dancing, Lily coloring, Sherman and Huckleberry playing Chinese Checkers, and Che doing a flamenco on the kitchen tile. And of course, Mr Peanut's sobriety would be an ongoing storyline.

And often, just like on "The Partridge Family" or "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet," we'd all end up the show with a good old-time musical number. Possibly with choreography.

It's a brilliant idea. There's just one problem with it. Well, actually, there are two problems with it. One I've known from the beginning. The other one hit me as I was heading home from my second foray to the grocery tonight, driving along in the cold rain.

The one I've always known? It would be logistically impossible. The owners of the cartoons would never give me permission to use their characters, and the cost to produce one episode of the show would be more than the national budget of Spain.

The one that just hit me? Take out the cartoon reel, and my perfect sitcom is "Pee Wee's Playhouse."

Well, OK, Pee Wee spoke directly to the camera, and it was understood that he was a fantasy character in a fantasy world, but when my blue Comfy Chair started talking, and all my belongings started coming to life, I'd be headed straight towards Lawsuit City, Arizona.

I doubt Sid and Marty Kroft would be thrilled, either.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what's the worst thing about clones?
- Honorable Mention goes to Kellie with an ie, with her, "Too obviously better. Yes, egotistical."
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her, "Totally obnoxious because youth eliminated."
- And this week's winner is the DeepFatFriar, with his, "Two ornery Bruces, you egghead!" That is scary.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, January 21, 2008


Hello, my lovely letter lovers. Welcome to another mind-numbing round of acromania.

It was in the news this past week, and it shall be the acrotopic this week. "The Worst Thing About Clones." Yes, some lab has cloned a human embryo, and frankly, I'm surprised all hell hasn't broken loose about it yet. It seems to be on the down-low, but then again, with Britney Spears running around in a pink wink and speaking in a British accent, I guess reporters have better things to do.

Anyway, everyone gets three acronyms to come up with the worst thing about clones, and those acros must match the letters below. I'll be judging tomorrow night at 10:00 est. The letters come to you courtesy of my cranky wicker friend, the acrobasket.

So the topic, "What's The Worst Thing About Clones?" The letters:


And yes, clones are welcome to play. Acrochallenge does not discriminate!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Inventory day at TheCompanyIWorkFor. We usually close for MLK Day to do that. My shoulders are sore, but my office is spotless.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to another round of Picture Sunday. Strange, it isn't actually the waning hours of Sunday night as I post this. It's the waning hours of Sunday afternoon. I'm trying to get all my tasks done because tonight is the big finale of "The Amazing Race," and I want to be able to sit back and enjoy it.

I had a weekend at home this time around, because yesterday was the Dear Nephew's birthday. Nineteen, the boy is. We picked him up at school, then went out to eat. Did Japanese, where I reached a milestone in my forty-some-odd year life. I ate sushi.

I'd eaten sushi before, but not the real raw fish kind, just vegetables, which I don't really count. News flash - I loved it. It was spicy tuna, and it rocked. So the next time I mope on about being in a rut, I'll remind myself I did something new this year.

Birthday picture of The Boy, well, of my Two Boys, because Taytie's close personal friend Sherman came along to celebrate. (You know, Tay has his own Sherman, he's in his room at home, and is enviably clean. Because, as Tay says, "He just hangs in there and chills.")

OK, so don't ask me about the hair, for I do not know. I have no idea what these wacky kids get up to today with the hair. I do know he was wearing a hat earlier, so maybe it was hat-hair and not the chosen style. I think I'm probably wrong, though. I like this picture because it looks like Sherman's hat is on fire.

This one's called, "Drink Up, Little Man."

Whoo. Don't let Peabody see that one.

One final Saturday night picture and we'll leave it. Speaking of not knowing what these wacky kids get up to, my Dear Nephew wore these shoes - and I mean, proudly wore them - out to dinner. Is this some new shoe trend I'm unaware of? If so, please find whoever's responsible for it and shoot him for me.

My sister and I spent many happy moments asking The Boy what clown he beat up and robbed for those shoes.

Let's see. Here's an interesting tidbit. I was the recipient of a rather odd delivery sometime during the day Friday. I came home from work to find this in my yard.

It's a bicycle. Well, OK, that's a bit of stating the obvious, but it's a really nice bike. It's not broken, has both wheels, the chain, seems to be in working order, and looks relatively new. I have no idea why it's there, and if anyone is going to claim it. It's been there for three days now, so I fear it has now become my responsibility. I don't need a bike, especially a kid's bike, but I need to start calling the town and seeing if they'll come and get it and maybe give it to some kid who does need one.

I don't guess Santa just dropped it.... Nah, I guess he's through with his chores for the year.

Actually, I wonder if my mother was right. She said someone probably stole it, saw the police coming, and the Poderosa happened to be the spot where they ditched it and took off on foot.

OK, let's get to the recipe du jour. And to do that, I have to tell you a little something about the DeepFatFriar.

The Friar is a man of many talents, and he may enjoy lots of things. I know two things he enjoys. He likes giving me recipe ideas, and he likes spicing up his food. He puts Tabasco sauce on just about everything he eats. And if you don't believe me? Well, how many men do you know with their very own Tabasco sauce caddy?

I think I've proved my point. On Sunday mornings, when DFF has arrived back at Mr M's after Unitarian Practice, he generally makes a little something to eat, and several times he's made something that - well.... I don't eat macaroni and cheese anymore, it's in fact one of the few foods I've left behind that I still miss, and DeepFatFriar will make up some mac and cheese and give it a good lashing of Tabasco, and it looks so good I want to stick my whole face in it.

So keeping that in mind, and also the fact that he likes to give me recipe ideas, it should be no surprise that this week's recipe is from him, and that it is what it is. From the "One a Penny, Two a Penny - Owwww!" file in cardland, will you please say hello to Hot Sauce Buns.

Hot Sauce Buns are the sure-fire way (oh, Lord have mercy, pardon that pun) to pep up a boring old roll. Melt up some butter, then pour enough hot sauce in it to fell a 300-pound man. Dip your buns in it, and stick them in the oven to bake. All that buttery, fiery goodness will bake right in.

There are several ways to serve Hot Sauce Buns. Plain. With something on them. At your next "This Is What Hell's Going To Be Like" party. Or serve them at a surprise party, and I mean, if you don't tell anyone what you've done to these buns and put them out on a plate, I think you know where the surprise will be.

By the way, Hot Sauce Buns do not make for the most visually stunning picture, but when DeepFatFriar suggested the idea, it made me laugh out loud. And sometimes, laughing out loud is as good as a visually stunning picture.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I forgot to mention that any time this weekend not birthday- or recipe-related was spent working on the Sixth Great CD Mix Exchange. My goal this time around was to have no hinky moments putting it together. That was all well and good until Friday night, when I did in fact get quite hinky, but got a mix done. However, in the wee hours last night, I decided I wanted to fine tune, and got really hinky today looking for songs and moving things around. I'm done, though.
* Well, I think I'm done. There's still a few hours to completely retool the whole damn thing.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Can You Just Imagine If There Were Two Of Me?

I was getting ready for work today and watching my old nemesis, The Today Show. Lord have mercy, I do dislike that show.

But for the uninitiated, I'll just tell you a snippet of what happens nine - yes, nine - times every single day on that show. At every hour and half-hour, the network goes to the local station for news and weather. And when we link back up with those Today Show Stars, they're always together, either in the studio or out amongst the great unwashed who've shown up to see them and get their faces on the TeeVee. And they tell us what's coming up this half-hour. "Next we'll be interviewing William Shatner, Mr Chef will stop by to show us how to make eggs, we'll give you tips on cleaning your toilet, and Meredith will try to solve the Middle East conflict." Except for one thing. It's a blatant lie, because they tell us what's coming up until the end of the show, but we don't know that till we watch the next half-hour and see that a lot of what they told us was coming didn't come.

And it's annoying, but it's neither here nor there.

Anyway, back to this morning. I was getting ready for work and half-listening to all this in the background, and when The Today Show Stars came back after the local news feed, they were standing amongst the great unwashed. And along with the snow in New England and the presidential race, Matt Lauer said, "And it was reported today that a lab in California has actually cloned a human embryo. So we'll have more on what you need to know about that."

And that made me laugh. I don't know why, but it did. Well, actually, I do know why. It made me laugh because I imagined The Today Show Segment Treatment of the news of a cloned human embryo. Unfortunately, my imagination is all I have, because I had to leave for work before the segment took place. Because, of course, it wasn't in the damn half-hour they advertised it in!

I can just see Matt, there on the uncomfortable stools, with the editors of Ladies Home Journal and Men's Health magazines. He'll ask them all the pertinent questions, well, pertinent to The Today Show viewers. And we'll learn all we need to know about cloned humans.


* If your ear gets cut off, you don't have to call the Cloning People to get a new one anymore. You can call the Cloning People to get you a whole new person, from whom you can slice the ear of your choice. Then he can call the Cloning People to get a whole new person.
* Women younger than 12 and older than 55 can now have babies out the wazoo.
* Cloned humans may or may not be as sexually viable as uncloned humans.
* It is bad etiquette to point out at dinner parties and other social gatherings that a certain guest may be a clone.
* Cloned humans will probably have a few problems, like dry hair and skin, and a simple homemade concoction of olive oil and avacado will keep them moist and all spiffed up.
* Just before the segment began, Mr Chef pointed out to Matt that clones probably won't have food allergies.
* A relationship with a clone will not only be filled with the problems of all relationships, but a whole new batch, and the non-cloned partner must be extra understanding of this.
* The new Clone Diet will help you lose 12 pounds in one week.
* If your clone is being bullied at school or on a myspace page, you should report this to the authorities.
* For clones in 2008, brown is the new black.

I drove to work imagining our "need to know" segment about cloning, but it wasn't until later in the morning that the revelation hit me.

Finally, The Today Show has an answer to its problems.

As I report every time I talk about this cussed show, the woman they hired to replace the odious Katie Couric, yes, that bucket of wallpaper paste known as Meredith Vieira, leaves her Today Show post every single day at 9:00. That's two hours before the show actually ends.

Now, through the miracle of cloning, they can have her until the show leaves the air at 11:00!

And so it's true what they say. You know, about the power of all this science being a little scary.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I spent the evening playing with my new clarinet ligature. Thumbs up from me.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Head's a Dead Head

Over the weekend I watched, for the umpty-twelfth time, "Deadhead Miles." While I have an affinity for this movie I can't quite explain, I must tell you it was Mr M's fault this time. I was headed there for the weekend, and he suggested I bring it. He also has an affinity for this movie, and I don't know if he can explain it or not. He's never explained it to me. It makes him chuckle, though, which is a rare feat in moviedom.

So as I sat sideways in Mr M's nice leather chair Saturday watching "Deadhead Miles," I began to form some theories about this movie. To paraphrase Ms Anne Elk, this theory is mine, and it is my theory. I don't know if any of my thoughts are right. I don't care. I don't think there is any right or wrong where this movie is concerned.

I guess before I start postulating about a movie none of you have seen - I mean, if you've seen this movie, I want to hear about it, because you're one of tens - I suppose I should tell you a little about it. First of all, it stars no less a person than Alan F Arkin himself playing a loony truck driver. He's brilliant. Then, it was written by Terrence Malick, who went on to become very famous making "Badlands," "Days of Heaven," and "The Thin Red Line." It also features Paul Benedict (Bentley from "The Jeffersons"), Avery Schreiber, Loretta Swit, and and cameos by Ida Lupino and George Raft, but that doesn't really figure into things, so we'll leave that be.

"Deadhead Miles" has no plot. It has an outline. Alan Arkin is driving around in a twice-stolen semi-truck. See, the people he worked for stole it from a reputable trucking company, then he stole it from the people he worked for. He takes off with a trailer full of carburetors for parts west. Almost immediately he stops at a fruit market for an apple and a gourd, and is accosted by two hitch-hikers and a dog, and shoos them away. "I hate hitch-hikers, they're a waste of time," he declares. They persist, and finally he agrees to take one of them. The two confab, and the male of the hikers gets the ride. (That's Bentley.) And so off they go, and that's the movie.

We don't know where either are headed, or what they have in mind once they get there. The next 80 minutes of the film (it's only 90 minutes long) consists of scene after non-sequitirial scene (did I make up a word?), none that lead anywhere. The story goes that this movie was made and immediately shelved for many years. I believe it, and understand it. I happened upon a copy shown and recorded from A&E network some years ago. Thank you, A&E.

And so on Saturday, during that umpty-twelfth viewing, I tried to figure out anything about this movie. Why I liked it, why it was made, where the ideas came from, and so on. I didn't get far, but here's what I came up with.

1. This movie was written, on post-it notes, napkins, the backs over overdue bills, and possibly apartment walls, as a showcase for all the conversational hilarity Terrence Malick has enjoyed throughout his life. Because that's what I glean every time I see this movie. The scenes aren't in any kind of arc save for how much farther west they take place. They're just sketches and vignettes that feature some of the funniest lines and conversational backs and forths I've heard in ages. And when these exchanges and one-liners take place, it hits you - "Oh! This is why this scene is here."

2. This movie, when finished, was nine and a half hours long. It was the "Berlin Alexanderplatz" of semi-truck movies. When the studio got hold of it, they hired the most ruthless editor in the business. I keep trying to convince myself that somewhere in a shoebox in a studio in Hollywood there's miles and miles -deadhead miles, even - of more footage of this film. Film that goes into why Mr Arkin's character is like he is. About where the hitch-hiker is headed and why. About, oh, anything resembling a plot. If you work in a studio, please check around for a dusty shoebox. For me.

3. This movie, when finished, was 45 minutes long. It was barely a short feature. When the studio got hold of it, they hired the opposite of the most ruthless editor in the business, and he went through lighting tests, outtakes, and bloopers to flesh the film out. Really. I keep splicing and splicing this film in my head, wondering if taking anything out would actually make a more logical story. So far, I've been unsuccessful.

4. Everyone involved in this movie may well have been on drugs. Now, I can't accuse, and I don't judge, but there's some weird shit going on in this movie. There's a ghost story scene, an urban legend scene, a visual gag scene, and a scene thrown in for the sole purpose of telling one of the oldest jokes in humanity. If I myself was a drug-taker, I wouldn't mind getting all toked up and going for my umpty-thirteenth viewing.

5. Somewhere, maybe while brushing his teeth, Terrence Malick had a split second, maybe while spitting, where he envisioned "Deadhead Miles" would have a sequel. This movie not really limps, but crawls to an end. No one got where they were hoping to get, well, I'm supposing this, since we didn't really know where they were going in the first place. Arkin just ditches his hitch-hiker, his trailer, and his twice-stolen truck, takes his belongings in a paper bag, and begins to walk. He then stops and sticks out his thumb. Freeze-frame, and a voiceover of the film's earlier, "I hate hitch-hikers." So is it that final irony of becoming what you hated? Or! Is it where "The Original Deadhead Miles" leaves off? "Deadhead Miles II" takes Mr F Arkin on a new odyssey as the hitch-hiker being hauled around by his own crazy truck driver!

Nah. Sadly, that last theory even I'm a little suspect of. Interesting idea, though.

I guess I'll have to just keep loving "Deadhead Miles" for what it is. An incredibly goofy way to spend 90 minutes. Sometimes it's best not to overthink.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Holy Lord! I published this blog without adding the acrowinners. We can remedy that. Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, tell me what stinks about getting old.
- Honorable Mention goes to the dishy Michelle, with her, "Overt retardation, terrible tits, nymphomania." Hell, I have two of those now.
- Runner-Up goes to the DeepFatFriar, with his, "Orange, rotten teeth; tattered nails."
- And this week's winner is LilyG, with her, "On rising, those terrible noises." Sadly, I have that, too. I fear I'm joining the ranks of the aged.
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, January 14, 2008


Hello, my Monday acro people. Welcome to another round of acromania.

This week's acro comes courtesy of Mr M. Mr M gave me my lead-in to last Tuesday's blog, you know. He wanted me to write about his getting old. So when I mentioned to him I needed an acrotopic, he volunteered an idea. And oddly enough, it was, "What's The Worst Thing About Getting Old?" (I think Mr M's starting to obsess.)

So, that's what the acrotopic shall be. You know the rules, you all get three entries to come up with your acronym that fit the topic and follow the letters below. You have till tomorrow night at 10:00 est to do so.

The acrobasket does not like my new abbreviated version of acrochallenge, because I never mention him. But the letters are still drawn from the acrobasket, and he's still a rather surly piece of wicker.

Anyway, the acrotopic, "What's The Worst Thing About Getting Old?" The letters:


So what are you waiting for? You're growing old - acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My legs need lotion. Stop the presses!


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Picture Sunday

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

A quick blog tonight, and it's finishing the kitchen cabinets. I only have one left, and it's a small one, so I'm bound and determined to finish tonight, since tonight's trash night. I want everything in the bag and on the curb.

But first, you need some pictures, right? Well, of course you do, and some pictures you shall have.

Imagine my surprise and horror earlier this week when I arrived home from a hard day at work only to find Sherman in his car. With this.

Then imagine my surprise and horror this weekend when I got to Mr M's, opened up my overnight bag, and guess who was wrapped around Sherman tighter than a rubber band. Of course, Mr M's reaction was typically male, "That's my boy!" but I was shocked. Sherman's only ten years old! I mean, I know women go for guys with cool sports cars, but this is ridiculous. Finally, when I was back home, Sherman finally fessed up. She's Inga, his new babysitter. See, Peabody's been a little busy lately with some serious inventing work, and wanted to be sure his boy had someone to look after him and get him where he needed to be. Inga is a college graduate with degrees in philosophy and children's studies, and comes highly recommended by the Royal Family of Lichtenstein. So I guess it's OK.

They seem to get along very well.

I thought you might like to see a little of the trials and tribulations I sometimes incur while trying to make the recipe du jour. Tonight I had a very specific idea. Teaming, Steaming Beans. I had lima beans, and was going to sprinkle them with baking soda, then douse them with vinegar. Yes, as Mr Science himself would tell you, that will get you some teaming, steaming beans. I started with the beans on a plate, then sprinkled and doused.

As you can see, it just wasn't the slam-dunk I was hoping for. I wanted more of a volcanic effect.

And so I washed off my limas.

So why not make a volcano, I asked myself. And I did just that. I found something to use as a tube, put the baking soda in it, surrounded it with beans, got the camera ready, then poured the vinegar. All well and good, but my lima volcano was decidedly off-center.

And so I washed off my limas again. Lima beans are amazingly durable, by the way.

I realized this just wasn't getting me what I wanted, and I was running out of ideas and time. Until! Until I remembered what I found when cleaning out the spice cabinet last week. Food coloring!

And so I went in a completely different direction. It became the recipe du jour. Coming from the "Eat Your Vegetables!" file in cardland, will you please welcome into your homes The Beans of Many Colors.

Aren't they lovely? You show me a kid who'll turn up his nose at lima beans when they're served up this way, and I'll show you a weird kid. They're pretty, they're nutritional, and they'd make a lovely side dish on Easter. And simple? Those durable beans and some food coloring's all you need. I used red, green, and blue.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* My 2008 Movie List is now linked on the blog, over there at the right. Don't ask me what the strange characters are at the bottom of the list, for I do not know. Ask smart ftp.


Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I'm totally stumped for a blog idea tonight. I asked Mr M. His response was, "How about my getting old."

Well, that's all well and good, but I needed some examples of his getting old. I couldn't use memory loss, the man's had a hazy memory for as long as I've known him, he knows this, and he says it's been that way the whole of his life. I couldn't use gray hair and beard, he's had that rather lovely distinguishing feature since we met. Posture and shuffling gait were out, they were not products of age but of injuries and accidents. The shoulder aches and pains have nothing do with age other than his being in his 50s when he tripped over a railroad tie in the parking lot of Oktoberfest a few years ago. I find that hilarious, by the way. Not that he got so hurt by it, but that the only member of the Sauerkraut Band who doesn't drink should be the one who trips over a railroad tie in the parking lot, doing himself a mischief.

And so I said to him tonight, "Well? Examples?"

His reply? "Hair in the ears. It's icky."

And I daresay it is.

So there. Mr M has hair in his ears because he's getting old, and it's icky.

I had to kick my mother's ass today. Verbally, even in my worst moments I couldn't physically kick my mother's ass. She's much too nice a lady, and I'm much too respectful of her.

As you all know, my dad has been undergoing cancer treatments for some eight months, but is doing well now and has been pronounced cancer-free at this point. Dad's a strong man. And mom's a strong woman, and has taken it upon herself to be his caretaker all through those months. She's been his eyes for some six years now, since his sight has gone to almost nothing, but lately she's been so much more. Much more than she has to be. The sister and I have offered up help of any kind we know how, and the only acceptance has been of an occasional trip to the hospital to take my dad for radiation. That's it. It's very odd. In a way, I imagined that coming, the fact that they'd want to keep my sister and I completely free of work and worry where this is concerned, because my folks are just like that. But in another way, I just wasn't prepared for the scope with which were kept out of the whole cancer loop. I can't explain it, I've thought more about it than I can tell, I guess I've thought about it up to but not past the point of just coming out and asking them why they don't seem to want us to be a part of the whole cancer experience.

But for months now, probably since September, my mom has been complaining. My mom has done this forever, she's very vocal about complaints. I've blogged about it before, how no matter what you have or how bad you may feel, don't mention it, because she has something else and feels even worse. But she's been complaining about her feet.

Now, my mom has what is known as The Fowler Family Feet. (her maiden name, btw) I also am the sad recipient of The Fowler Family Feet, which is the main reason pedicures are so important to me. Dry cracked heels, sometimes to the point of tippytoeing around like an idiot for a day or two, every lotion, balm, gel, cream, foot soak, gizmo and gadget bought, constant foot attention. It becomes a part of life, and to be honest, until the blissful days of pedicures, I wouldn't even wear a sandal, or go barefoot in front of another living soul. Those days are behind me now.

So when my mom started complaining about her feet, the agony, and the, "I don't know what I'm going to do," I thought it was just what I go through from time to time. Until they arrived back here, in December, from their last Florida jaunt, and I'd heard enough of this complaining, and I finally said, "Let me look at your feet, please." And she showed me, and I was more than a little shocked about what I found. Her feet were not only dry and cracked, on the soles, anyway, but the sides and tops were covered with sores. Open sores.

Now, you and I (I'm assuming you would, because you have enough sense to read), upon having this condition, would hie our asses to the doctor and find out what was going on. And if that doctor couldn't tell us, I'm guessing we'd go somewhere else, and else, and else, till we found someone who could.

But my mother keeps going to her same family doctor, the general practitioner who doesn't know about foot fungus and the like, and he gives her an antibiotic and she takes it for two days, quits, and complains. When you mention maybe possibly going to someone else, she brings up the time she went to a podiatrist who told her if she was his wife, he'd kill her (now, I wasn't at this appointment, so I have no idea, OK?) and then sent her to a dermatologist, who looked at her feet and said, "Well, I don't know what it is." This was, by the way, some three years ago, before the sores and agony. But it's apparently still very fresh in her mind.

And the thing is, if that podiatrist actually said he'd kill her, while that's incredibly rude and unprofessional, I can almost understand why he said it. Because my mother is one of these people you just can't tell anything. No matter what you suggest to her, no, it's not that, that won't work, I've tried that, you don't know what you're talking about, they told me not to do that, I don't think that could have anything to with this, and on and on till really, well, I do love my mother a great deal, but many's the time I've had to hold my hands behind me so they don't make a beeline for her neck.

And so she complains, has talked for five months now about her her feet hurt so much she just can't walk, stand sheets to touch her feet, stand up, wear shoes, or anything else. But all the while she's walking, standing, running here and there, to the store every day, Christmas shopping, cooking, baking, taking care of everyone in her life, and doing everything but saying, "Listen, you folks fend for yourselves a while, I'm going to go put my feet up."

Finally, my friend, workmate, and mother figure San got involved. She's now become my mom's mother figure. She, completely on her own, called a foot specialist she knew about and made my mom an appointment. I loved it, and wondered aloud why I didn't do such a thing.

So my mother went - all the while complaining that she didn't see the head specialist, but another foot associate - and that specialist did all kinds of things, took cultures and scrapes and sent them off to be tested. Her follow-up appointment was to be this Thursday.

Today at work, I got a phone call from my dad. He upset me right off the bat by saying something my dad just never says to me, or my sister. "I'm worried to death about your mother, and I don't know what to do." Seems last night she had some sort of reaction where the itching in her feet spread all over her body, and she spent another night in agony keeping them both awake while she scratched and ached. So this morning, she went straight to - her family doctor! Who knows nothing but to give her something for the itching, and to send her for a blood test.

I was really stacked up with work, was tired from my own sleepless night (but I love podcast recording nights!), and said, "Dad, put Mom on the phone." She said, "Oh, the agony I'm in," and when I told her to tell me all that happened, I told her to call her foot specialist and tell him what was going on. And then she let out two little nuggets Dad didn't mention. First, the family doctor's nurse said it was possible if there was infection in her feet it had spread, possibly into her bloodstream, and second - she had called the foot specialist, and they told her they could work her in as a walk-in - not with the first guy she saw, but with the one she complained about not seeing in the first place - today at 3:00. And she said no.

And it was at that point that 40-some-odd years of dealing with my mother blew right out of the top of my head, and I went flat-ass crazy nuts. I told her I was basically ready to give up. That no matter what anyone told her, she wouldn't listen, wouldn't take care of herself, and that, "You're going to die. If you have infection in your system, you're going to die right there in your house sitting on your ass not bothering to do anything about it." And then, even though I didn't mean to, it was involuntary, I pulled out the Trump Card. I started to cry. That's the one thing that will upset my mom more than any harsh word could, if one of her girls cries. She started backing up, oh, I can wait till Thursday, I can't go without the results of my blood test today, and on and on. I told her that if she didn't call the specialist immediately and take that 3:00 appointment, and let me leave work and drive her to their offices, she need not speak to me anymore. She agreed.

However, in fifteen minutes, she hadn't called me back to come get her. I called her. They'd given the appointment to someone else and couldn't see her. I told her that at 5:00 I was leaving work and taking her to the emergency room. She started again. "But they won't have my blood test results." I told her the hospital could get her results in two minutes, and to have her clothes on, I was coming.

Well, it's tonight, well, actually it's tomorrow because it's after midnight, and guess what. My mother didn't go to the emergency room. Because she's my mother. She's the "I'm in so much agony I can't move and listen to me tell you about it, but don't worry, I'll be all right" person.

And I officially give up. If she has infection in every inch of her body and if she ends up losing both her feet and really not being able to walk, there's not a thing I can do about it now. She has to take upon herself to care enough to want to do something about it instead of complain and argue with anyone who wants to help.

It's mean, I know. But I can't help it. I give up. I still care, but I give up.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So - two men walk into a bar.... Punch line?
- Honorable Mention goes to Stennie, with her, "One leans near Esther's face, retches." I actually liked your other one better, Stenns, but the letters were wrong. It's OK, you haven't played in a while.
- Runner-Up goes to LilyG, with her, "Only lice, not eczema? Fooled Roger!" Somehow, "Fooled Roger" is very funny.
- And this week's winner goes to that acro juggernaut, the DeepFatFriar, with his, "Only Latvian nerds eat fried rutabags." You know, I can almost construct a whole joke from that.
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!


Monday, January 07, 2008


Hello, acroers, acroees, and acroites. Welcome to another round of acromania.

Tonight's acro is, I haven't decided, either going to be very easy or very difficult. I'm leaning on the side of easy, because the possibilities are about endless. You're going to give me the punchline of a joke.

The acrotopic, and first line of the joke, is, "Two Men Walk Into A Bar...." All you do is use the letters below to give me the punchline of that joke. Doesn't matter what happened once they got into the bar, what they ordered, whose head a duck was sitting on, where the frog hopped off to, or what religion either of the two men were. Just give me the punchline.

Since it's a new year, we're doing a new acro blog. If you don't know the rules by now, you never will. If you're new and aren't sure, leave a comment and I'll put up an explanation. Everyone still gets three acros as an entry, and the deadline is still 10:00 pm est tomorrow.

So, "Two Men Walk Into A Bar...." The letters:


Now, acro and make me laugh!

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Two more cabinets cleaned. Small ones, baby steps for a new week.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. Yes, it's that time again. Is it the first Picture Sunday of 2008? I do believe it is. Well, let's wait no more!

I'm getting right to the first picture. You know, it snowed here last week. Of course it's 55 degrees right now and there's not a flake left, but it was exciting to have a little white on the ground.

It was exciting for me. Not so much for the Virgin Mary of our town's nativity scene. She had a little mishap during the snow and high winds of last week. And no one in town saw fit to help her out, so I took their laziness as my own picture opportunity. I call this one, "Christmas Just Exhausts the Virgin Mary."

Yep, there she is, unable to even kneel. The Baby Jesus is snow-covered and freezing (at least no one stole him), and Joseph hasn't lifted a finger to give Mary any aid. In fact, he has a distinct, "Well, what are you going to do?" look on his face.

So it's only January, but this is my favorite picture so far this year.

Now, let's talk home improvement. Because it's been on my mind lately, and more importantly, in my hands. I've set my mind (and my hands) to doing some serious cleaning around the Pod, and I don't mean dusting and vacuuming. (Although with all my vacuums - four now that I got a Swiffer vacuum for Christmas, I could vacuum for the entire country.) Anyway, I mean organizing, moving, and throwing away. This week it's been my cabinets. As of tonight, my entire upper tier of cabinets are done.

We'll start with the easiest to work on, and progress to hardest.

Let's go to the upper dish cabinet in my corner hutch.

Easy peasy. Very full, but not overly taxing, was the tea and Crystal Light cabinet, which has now become my coffee cup and glass cabinet as well. That helped make more space in the dish cabinet.

Next was the food cabinet. It was just hard because there was so much food in there that was unnecessary. Way old stuff. I kept some for future recipes du jour, but threw much away.

Let's move on to the bottom dish cabinet in the corner hutch. That one was bad. It was one of those, "Don't open the door, you'll break your foot" cabinets. I moved all the wine glasses to the top hutch cabinet, moved all my cookbooks (which, let's face it, I never ever ever use) onto shelves in the spare bedroom, and made it the space for serving bowls and odd plates.

The hardest two, well, the first was the Tupperware cabinet. It was a nightmare. I've been hit on the head by more falling Tupperware than any woman alive. I removed it all, matched tops to bottoms, was left with an alarming number of mateless tops and bottoms, and pitched them.

And finally, the spice cabinet. That came today. I've never been hit on the head by falling spices, which would probably hurt a lot more than falling Tupperware, but every time I need a spice I'm left blaspheming and pulling out spice containers by the armload. I also knew I had a whole bunch of outdated stuff in there, and duplicates, but I wasn't quite prepared for what a scope it would be. Five gingers, three cumins, three chili powders, two ground mustards. And old? I had stuff that was Kroger brand. We haven't had a Kroger in our town for at least five years. It was a good clean, that cabinet.

So there you go. Four bottom cabinets next week, including the dreaded pots and pans. Let's see how long I can keep them relatively straight. I give myself six weeks before all of them are in disarray again.

And really, how could I clean out five years worth of spices and not include it in the recipe du jour? Well, I couldn't, that's how, and so I have for you tonight a dish I think the more adventurous of you will enjoy. Just have a little Alka-Seltzer at the ready. It's from, naturally, the "Cabinet Cleanout!" file at cardland, and here it is, the Quiche L'Spice.

The Quiche L'Spice is your plain old basic quiche recipe. Eggs and milk in a pie crust. However, to, well, if I may be sold bold, spice it up, I added liberal shakes of cayenne pepper, parsley, anise, thyme, onion powder, rosemary, chili powder, lemon peel, ginger, ground mustard, cumin seed, dill, paprika, cilantro, basil, pumpkin pie spice, a few cloves, and Liquid Smoke, since I dropped the bottle and the cap broke. Bake that up like your favorite quiche (although, really, won't this be your favorite quiche now?), cut yourself a nice slice, and top it with whipped cream and a bay leaf, just like God intended. Really, He intended to have you put whipped cream on your Quiche L'Spice.

And after this dish was done, my house smelled like the International Food Court.

Happy Week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sad news to report - my wonderful Sherman and Peabody stickers you saw in last week's Picture Sunday did not stand up well to a week of rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. Their outlines are now green, and Sherman is yellow. Even sadder, I took off my great Shag Rat Pack sticker to put on S and P.
* Wow, that was a lot of pictures to place. And I can't believe I opened up my cabinets for you people. Better now than then, though.


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Dear Sirs, or My Grumpy New Year

Well, it's officially 2008. New blog years to mark, new movie list Excel spreadsheets to column out, new resolutions to break. I hope you all survived. I did, spending a virtually alcohol-free New Year's Eve with the Sauerkraut Band. Oxymoron, I know. But it was a gig, and a dry one at that. We did meet secretly (in the basement of a church, no less) before the gig, closed a door behind us, Fearless Leader Ed pulled out the Jagermeister, and we sang a round of "Ein Prosit" and all had a toast and a shot before the show started.

However, I'm now back home, back at work, back buying groceries and stomping around in the snow. And I knew that one of my first tasks of the New Year was to write a letter. See, you've seen pictures of Sherman in his ultra-cool remote control convertible, and the first time I showed this to you, I made a small comment that there was a story involved. And there is.

After opening the package, I told Mr M I was writing a letter forthwith to Mattel. He bet me I wouldn't, and I took him up on that bet. (He still owes me a quarter from that Christmas concert, by the way.) I knew I needed to vent about this, and I wasn't going to let it go this time, just take the punches given to me time and time again by the Manufacturing World.

So I went to Mattel's website to find out where I could contact them. It was huge circular maze of confusion. I could send them a letter, or call them, or use the website to find out about toy recalls. But I couldn't email them a complaint. And the more I looked around for a "contact us" link that actually let me write that email, the more I started to realize something.

Sherman's car wasn't made by Mattel.

And so then I had to find a whole new website. The MGA Entertainment website. And their site is fine, the "contact us" link not only gives me an address and a phone number, but has an email link that tells me that's their preferred method of contact. I was starting to like those MGA people.

And so I pasted my very eloquent letter into their email box and hit the "submit" button. I got a window telling me my email had to have less than 2000 characters. And you know, I'm nothing if not wordy, but I went back and started paring, started taking out spaces and unneccessary words, and I pared more and hit "submit" for about 45 minutes. I still got the window.

I finally got a little pissed off at the whole affair, so I opened up Microsoft Word, which I'm no fan of, pasted my letter there, and started using the "word count" feature. It took forever, but I got my flowery complaint to 1978 characters. I hit "submit." I got an error screen. I hit it again, and got the same thing.

So at this point, I don't give two shits what their preferred method of contact is. I've printed out my un-pared original letter, on my brand-new printer, thanks Mr M, and I'm sending it first thing tomorrow morning. Along with a separate note of complaint about their email system.

I'm sure you're asking at this point, well, I hope you are, anyway, "Dearest Bet, what could possibly have you to the point where you'd spend all this time writing a toy company?" It's something I wrote a very angry blog about on 8/29/06. Yes, I was again the victim of Corporate Overpackaging, on such a scale that crying out in anger (via email or post) was all I could do to save my sanity.

So here's what I have to say. To MGA Entertainment and anyone else who'll listen.

I'm an adult woman. Childless, but a sometime toy and doll collector who will buy something that strikes my fancy.

Over the Christmas holidays I purchased your Bratz remote control sports car. I'm sure you know the one. The white convertible with FM radio capacity, opening doors and trunks, and safety belts on the seats. And don't get me wrong. It's a great car. It's well-made, adorable, and works perfectly.

The problem with the car is that I didn't think I'd ever get to experience the fun of owning it.

I brought your car home from the store and proceeded to open it up. It was approximately 8:00 pm. I began on the outside, on the plastic pull tabs. They were taped shut to the box. They would not pull open, nor would they give when I slid a finger or fingernail underneath them. I tore the plastic around them for the first two tabs, then resorted to a small kitchen knife for the rest.

Once I had the box open, I found that the car, which in its box is perched on a small cardboard platform, a platform that has nothing underneath it, well, almost nothing, was taped to both the box and the platform, and that you had also taken to using a favorite packaging item, twist-ties, to bolt it down on each side. And to add insult to injury, these twist-ties weren't just poked through plastic and cardboard and twisted. They were - as I'm sure you already know, since you did this - run through thick plastic bolts, then knotted anywhere from three to five times. And these twist-ties are not the simple kind we get around TV wires and the like. They are so thick and unwieldy, fingers became sore after about the second knot.

After finally getting the cardboard platform untied from the box, I was left with - a really cute car affixed to a cardboard platform. With tape, which I managed to cut away, only to find that what was underneath that cardboard platform was more bolts and twist-ties, this time with the ties not only threaded through the bolts and knotted multiple times, but also threaded through the spokes of each of the car's tires. After untwisting the first tire's knots, I could take it no more. I resorted to the kitchen knife again, but these twist-ties were so thick and strong the knife wouldn't cut through them. Finally, my friend, who until now had been watching me tackle this automobile with some bemusement, went looking through his tools and found a wire cutter.

He cut the twist-ties and freed the car from the cardboard platform, and we were still left with a car we could not play with, because we had to de-thread the remainder of the twist-ties through the spokes of the car.

So I began opening my car at 8:00 pm. I finally began the task of loading the batteries into it at 8:55. And pardon me for being so bold, but that's just too long.

I know of no reason your packaging must be like this. It's absurd. In fact, there was a point during the opening where I wondered aloud what Christmas morning must be like for the poor child receiving this car, this child who's chomping at the bit to play with it, and the poor parent who gives it and has to spend the entire morning getting the thing out of the box. And isn't the age recommendation you place on your products actually wrong, when a knife is needed to open the box for play to begin?

If you can explain to me why you must use these overpackaging methods, I would love to hear it.

Thank you

You know, I generally don't like having my picture taken, but it might have been a little entertaining had Mr M (or the DeepFatFriar, who was also around for part of the trials and tribulations) had thought to video the event.

Anyway, it's written, printed, and in an addressed envelope. I don't expect a reply, but it doesn't matter, I got it off my chest. Even though I would certainly enjoy a reply, just to see if anyone can give me an answer to my question.

And now that that's done, I'm headed off to fire an angry email to BBCAmerica. I figure if I'm going to be a Grumpy Consumer in 2008 I may as well go at it full-bore. And I can get that email done with a minimum of characters:

"BBCAmerica - Why are you showing the American version of 'Dancing With The Stars?' This show is crap. I could live with it if you were showing the British version of that show, because it would at least be British crap. But you're showing American crap. This defies description, but if you'd like to try and describe to me why you're doing this, I certainly will listen. Yours truly, Bet."

There. Unless BBCA have a maximum capacity of 393 characters, I'm fine.

But I'm not fine. I'm grumpy. I'm pretty happy, but I'm also grumpy. I guess I'm also Dopey and Bashful. And definitely Sleepy. I've even been a little Sneezy lately.

I'm not Doc, though. I guess I'll just never be all things to all people.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners! We have First Acro of 2008 Acrowinners! So, what's your resolution this time around?
- Honorable Mention goes to the dishy Michelle, with her, "Make some omelets for erstwhile Jews." Dishy loves to cook, and I editorialized her entry because I'm sure she meant "for" instead of "from."
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie with an ie, with her, "Make scrapbook of favorite Ervin journeys." Awwww, Ervin the cute - I want pictures!
- And this week's winner goes to the DeepFatFriar, with his, "Master saxophone, oboe, fluegelhorn, elementary jazz." Very ambitious indeed, Friar. (And I liked your entry devoted to Alice the cat as well.)
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!