Friday, May 30, 2008

Bet's Celebrity Roundup

Hello, star-watchers. We here at Betland had a really slow day at work yesterday, and found ourselves reading a lot of and And realizing that these two sites seem to consider news of celebrities just as important as actual stuff that we might care about, or even that may affect our lives.


Back on the market: It seems everyone's favorite handsome, devil-may-care bachelor George Clooney is a bachelor once again. Yes, girls, he's split from his most recent girlfriend, the one that lasted an amazing 9 or so months, possibly a record for Mr Cute. If you're interested in competing with Stennie, LilyG, and I for his affections, please send in your application. And realize that in our particular book, "compete" does not mean "fight to the death," it means "George is put into rotation traveling between the three of us and being our shared boyfriend." On second thought, don't apply, because that's already dividing his affections into thirds, and we'd just as soon you keep your big noses out of our affairs. You'll just have to apply for someone like Charlie Sheen, I'm afraid.

Dropping like flies: Sadly, a lot of the celebrity news taking up space on the news websites is of the sad RIP variety. It started with Sidney Pollack on Monday, and then came the flood of bad news: Dick Martin, he of "Laugh-In" fame, as goofy a guy as was ever on TV, and TV's all the better for it. He was the Gracie to Dan Rowan's George Burns, and I can't think of him without thinking of the Farkle family and their neighbor (who looked suspiciously like all of the Farkle children) Ferd Burfle. Earle Hagen, composer of the "Andy Griffith Show" theme (let's whistle along), a million other TV themes, and the cheesy jazz standard "Harlem Nocturne," which I always liked, cheesy or not. It's extremely hard to play on the oboe though, as that was the instrument I was playing when the mighty and feared B'burg Community Band did the piece, and, let's face it, I was certainly no oboe virtuoso anyway. Then Joseph Pevney, who directed a slew of "Star Trek"s, including everyone's favorite, "The Trouble With Tribbles." Last night it was Harvey Korman, one I'm still in a blue funk over because I absolutely adored him, and I feel like I need to watch "Blazing Saddles" tonight as a tribute to him and Hedy Lamarr. Sorry, that's Hedley. Then only today came the news of the death of Alexander Courage, who wrote the theme to "Star Trek." If I worked in any capacity on "Star Trek," I believe I'd be hiding under a rock for the next few days.

Karma bites you in the ass: The other celebrity news I've been keeping up with, and am frankly quite sick of keeping up with, is actress Sharon Stone's little faux pas regarding the earthquake in China and how it was "karma" for how the Chinese government has been treating Tibet. Apparently Ms Stone thought she'd found a way to work her particular cause into an interview, and it backfired tremendously, because the press got hold of it and ran, pissing off a third of the world's population and losing her her comfy celebrity endorsement with Christian Dior. Apparently she's been scrapped from all ads appearing in China, which struck me in a way that had me saying, "Christian Dior advertises in China?" but apparently it was something of a big deal. Now, let's be honest, China's government is creepy and oppressive, but I really don't think it's the place of an actress to tell the nearest and dearest of 80,000 dead peasants that it's their fault their loved ones died, especially an actress who's only famous because she decided to cross her legs and show her hoonie in a really bad film. So now she's saying that she wants to help the victims of the earthquake, and I say, fine, go over there and dig up dead bodies and start building them new houses. You hack.

Harvey Korman wouldn't have said such a thing.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I've been forbidden to drink wine while recording the Hucklebug podcast. Ever again. And rightly so. For any listeners this week, I was just obnoxious, and now it's my turn to apologize. However, I will not be losing my Christian Dior endorsements, for which I am grateful.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Lily Dances!

Ahhhh, I said I'd be here, didn't I.

I almost wasn't.

Sometimes things don't work out quite as planned. As was the case with this week's movie. Or should I say "movies." Yes, there were two, right in the can, that can go up in times of emergency, but they just didn't really have that "special something" to be headliners. No offense to them, not everything can make the Comfy Chair Cinema cut.

About an hour before the podcast, though, I came up with an idea. Problem is, there were logistics involved.





I was a little late for podcasting (which was a blast tonight, only in part because I myself was blasted), but after we wrapped things up at the Hucklebug, I went back to it in movieland. And finished out the idea I'd had a few hours before.

So please, take a moment to go over to the Comfy Chair Cinema and have a little look-see for yourself. Someone really took a lot of pains to make this movie special, and it wasn't me. Well, I did, but that's beside the point.

Happy viewing!


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, if you don't have tomorrow off, and one more blissful dayers if you do. Welcome to another round of Picture Sunday.

I'm off in an hour or so to Mr M's, so I'm posting early. I stayed local yesterday, and did my annual Buying of the Flowers. They were a little picked over by this time, apparently people have the space to buy their flowers in the rotten weather we've been having, then store them somewhere safe for a day of beautiful weather like we had Saturday.

I got my flowers - plus three bags of potting soil - to the podmobile only to find that, once again, the back hatch was stuck and wouldn't open. I think my podmobile has a brain and does this at the most inopportune times, then snickers behind my back. Anyway, there I was loading nine plant sets and three bags of soil into the passenger section of my car.

Got home, got them out, and decided first that my yard once again needed a mow, and so I had at it. I've been using the bagger, because I like the way it makes the yard look, but damn if it's not a lot more work. I mean, you detach a bag full of grass, turn it upside down over a trash bag, and wouldn't it logically follow that the grass would fall out into the bag? I mean, given the nature of gravity and all. Well, it doesn't! It just stays there in the bag, so you have to manually grab the grass and put it into the trash bag, all the while holding the bagger upside down, and, well, it's a giant pain in the ass.

But that done and the yard looking nice, I went to the flowers. I started by putting up the new fencing I bought for the flower bed, since last year's was all ratty and I threw it away last fall. Then I started with the pots on the steps leading up to my house.

And yes, how many times have you seen this picture? It happens every year about this time, I could probably go back in my files and get one from four years ago if I wanted, but I promise you this is indeed this years edition of the Baby Pot Flowers.

Then I went to the flower bed, which is always a disadvantage, because - well, because on the pot flowers I get to sit on the steps most of the time. It's all bending and stooping at the flower bed, and I seem to have lost my little spade somewhere so I had to go at the ground with a sturdy plastic cup. (And that's why you'll never see me on "The Victory Garden.") But after stooping and digging and weeding and almost falling over once - which believe me, isn't a good thing as I live right on the main road into town, and in a town this small, had I fallen over in my yard it would have been all over town in about 10 minutes - I had Baby Bed Flowers.

As always, Sherman was keen to help, and in a show of real Poderosa togetherness, Mr Peabody got into the act as well.

In fact, Mr Peabody did most of the hard labor with the hoe, and Sherman played the clarinet, because he said that would make the flowers grow better. And you know, Sherman knows his plants, so I believe him.

There's Mr Peabody giving it a go in the flower bed.

And now it's time for a very special recipe du jour.

Since tomorrow is Memorial Day, I thought it would only be fitting if I honored our men and women in uniform with tonight's recipe. Sure, most people serve up those cakes made to look like American Flags, or red, white, and blue Jell-O on such an occasion, but not me. Because I care about you, my blogees. So from the "Holiday Snacks" file at cardland, would you please give a patriotic welcome to "Memoreos."

It's easy to make Memoreos for the loved ones at your home. All you need is a bag of Oreos, some army men, and then cut loose.

Because of holiday travel, there will be no acro tomorrow night. However! Be sure to stop by Betland tomorrow anyway, because there just may be a Comfy Chair Cinema movie, providing all goes well at Mr M's tonight.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* By the way, how tired was I after mowing and planting flowers yesterday? Pretty damn tired.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I Don't Think I Can Do This

It all started when I left my Flip digital camcorder at Mr M's.

See, it was in my green bag. My green canvas shoulder bag, which I'd toted to Mr M's for our Saturday park performance. It had a book, my music for the day, some other music, a green tea, my still camera, and my Flip. For some reason at the last minute I started to worry about losing the Flip if my bag was snatched. Which I know was kind of silly as my other camera was in there too, but it was a split-second thought and decision. I took the Flip out and put it on Mr M's cabinet.

Of course nothing happened to my green bag at the park, and when I left for home on Saturday evening, I also of course forgot I'd taken the Flip out. And so it's at his house as we speak.

You know, had someone told me this time last year, "Bet, you curly-headed little so and so, this time next year you're going to revive the Comfy Chair Cinema, and make movies - even by yourself - and upload them onto You Tube," I'd have said, "Awww, you're just saying that." And I'd have meant it.

It goes back a long way. I never really give myself much of a chance. I've heard, "You can't do that" a lot. My dad, God love him and bless his heart, has said this to me for years, and says it to this day. No matter what household project I mention to him, the first thing I hear is, "You can't do that." or, "You can't do that by yourself." I used to listen, but I don't anymore. I thought all dads were like that, that it was just a standard Dad Phrase, like, "We'll see," but I think it's just that I grew up in a different era, not the current parental climate of, "You can be anything you want to be!"

And I'm not even blaming Dear Old Dad. I mean, if I was a stronger person I could have always said, "Yeah, Dad? Sez who?" and gone about my plans.

Anyway, I never think I can do anything. I never thought I could create a website. And not only did I do that, but I created one I now neglect with an alarming fervor! I didn't think I could start, or keep, a blog. (A blog that, oddly enough, makes my dad proud and he asks for recorded copies of.) I didn't think I could play a duet with Mr M at his formal recital. I didn't think I could be my own Mowing Girl. I didn't think I'd be worthy of going from hilarious and hideous pre-made recipe cards to creating my own with an idea and leftover food.

And when I saw that little Flip camera in a store, I wanted it desperately. I remember the fun I had helping Mr M make the little movies at the original Comfy Chair Cinema, and thought about how fun it would be to revive that. Of course those early Cinema days were before You Tube, they were the days of shooting and uploading to a website, and crossing all fingers on both hands you had enough webspace to handle it.

So Mr M was kind enough to gift me with the Flip. At first I just spent a lot of time opening and closing the lens and making movies of my feet. Then I incorporated Mr M into my first movie - never published - "Guess Who's Coming Over For Clarinet Duets," in which I open the door and Mr M is there to attack and strangle me. (Cute idea, badly shot movie.) Then I came up with the idea for "The Sound of Pickles," a movie with, as my buddy Stennie pointed out, "Titles longer than the movie." But it was a start, and I've not looked back.

By the way, speaking of Mr M, he does something (well, one of many things) that absolutely drives me crazy. When I'm trying something technical, say in Paint Shop Pro, and I get stuck, I'll ask him how to do it. He will invariably answer, "Keep playing with it, you'll work it out." And even though when he says that I want to reach through the internet and poke him in the eye, he's generally right and I've learned a lot of things by just playing around and making mistakes. Never has this been more true than when he used that line with me in my first couple of forays into Movie Maker. I was confused, and it really does just take a lot of bumbling around to discover what you want to do.

And I'm having fun, even though every time I come up with an idea my first thought is, "Nah, I could never make that work." Then I think, "Hey, if I can let the world see Sherman and a yodeling pickle drive through my living room for 10 seconds, how bad could it be?" And so I give it a try.

Now, skip back to the green bag, and leaving my Flip camera at Mr M's. That left me with my still camera, the wonderful Nikon also given as a gift from Mr M. It's made the recipe du jour so much easier.

A year or so ago, I saw a short film one of my Dear Nephew's friends had made using stop-motion photography. It was terrific, and I've wished ever since that was something I could try. Of course I didn't think I could try it, but I wished I could. A few weeks ago I almost tried. I used the Flip camera and made 2-second clips of myself making the recipe du jour the Marshmallow Castle.

And with a still camera and a day full of rain Sunday, I finally got up the nerve to say, "Oh, what the hell."

I don't know a thing about it. I made no plans. All I knew is that I wanted it to be short and moveable, so I took an idea from a picture Mr M and I created together of Sherman flying. I decided I'd let Sherman fly across the screen. And I made a sky out of cardboard.

I didn't do any kind of measurements at all, just kept a mark on the floor where the stand holding the camera would stay. I made Sherman a cape, affixed him to a doll stand, made a flat base out of shelving boards on boxes, and had at it.

I had no idea how much to move Sherman from one shot to the next. I improvised. I'd scoot and shoot. Scoot Sherman a bit, shoot a picture. A little more, shoot a picture. I'd occasionally look at the camera window to see where he was. I didn't think I'd ever shoot enough pictures to get his whole body in the shot! But I kept at it, scoot and shoot.

Somewhere around the middle I started to get really adventurous, and decided I'd try to make Sherman cross and uncross his feet. That was fun. Then it was more shooting, more scooting, and more moving this way and that, slowly. I decided to have Sherman take one look forward as he headed off the screen, then turn back to face the camera. A few more shots, and his foot was finally out of the frame.

I took the camera to upload the pictures into the computer. 90 pictures. I took it to Movie Maker and started creating a movie. 22 seconds. 90 pictures and I was going to have a movie the shorter than my credits! I began to think of all the movies using animation and claymation. Boy, that must be a lot of work. I'm surprised they don't take 20 years to make.

But there was my 22 seconds of Sherman flying. I added a few titles, then went to find the Air Force song in iTunes. I was torn between that and the Skater's Waltz, but decided the Air Force song would work better. I downloaded a version, went to Polderbits sound editing and recording, which I also learned to use from the phrase, "Keep playing with it, you'll work it out," and recorded enough seconds to fit over the movie. Saved it, and voila - Sherman flies across the screen to the Air Force song. Well, voila with the added attraction of trying to make a movie with all those stills crashing my computer right in the middle of things.

So Sherman flies for a few seconds, and even though it was crude, I did stop-motion photography. Trouble is, I want to try it again. For a longer time. Maybe using Barbie and Ken. That's four arms and four legs to move.

I'd never be able to do something like that.

Betland's Olympic Update:
- Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. So, what will happen when your ship comes in?
- Honorable Mention goes to no one. We have a scratched entry.
- Runner-Up goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her, "Elegant dinghy. Rowing to Greece."
- And this week's winner goes to LilyG, with her thoughtful, "Escape debt, retire, travel, grow." Although I do like the idea of evicting the deadbeat relatives.
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!


Monday, May 19, 2008


Hello, letter folks. Welcome to another round of acromania.

I mowed again today. That seems to be one of things I'm going to have to do weekly now. Tonight I did it weakly. It was hard, for some reason, wasn't even hot outside, but I sweated and tugged and I couldn't seem to get a grip on the mower.

I came in and took a shower, ate a little tuna salad, and rested. And what this has to do with the acrotopic, I have no idea. I just seemed to be thinking about it once I quit working for the night.

Tonight's acrotopic, "When My Ship Comes In."

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 very well-off financially. He lives off some sort of monthly wicker supplement. Then tomorrow night at 10:00 est I shall be reading the entries and naming the winners.

Tonight's topic, "When My Ship Comes In." The letters:


So there you go. Sit on the pier and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Word on the vine is that the Italian Olympic Clarinet Team is going to Beijing next week to get an early start on training for the games. They want to be used to their surroundings.


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome to Picture Sunday, now back and badder than ever. And you can take that whatever way you want.

Friday Chill Night was canceled this week, because I had to go to Mr M's. See, he'd roped me into playing a festival in R'noke yesterday. He had a half-hour, and was going to do a few solo pieces, a few pieces with other people (like me), and then turn things over to two of his students for a piece.

Now, I was really hinky about this in several ways. First of all, this was the annual Local Colors festival, celebration of all things ethnic. Those of you who've been around a while may remember the story of the Sauerkraut Band playing there a few years back. Sound problems galore took up about 40 minutes of our playing time, we played to a wildly cheering audience for two songs, and - the festival people kicked us off the stage. (I'm not kidding. They were yelling, "Run!" if I'm not mistaken. It was time for the main act.)

So, well, you can imagine. How in the hell would some clarinet players fit in with all those belly dancers and steel drummers and mariachi bands? I was convinced that if I could handle the stress of having unkind epithets hurled in my general direction, I might not be wily enough to dodge the rocks and garbage.

Then there was that other thing. The piece Mr M and I decided upon, well, before Friday night we'd never played it all the way through without stopping. We tried Wednesday night and it ended in a fight, and so it was to B'burg Friday after work to do some serious practicing.

We didn't.

We worked on it about 20 minutes, played it through twice, and went on to other things. I went to bed nervous Friday night.

However, when we arrived at the festival, my fears waned. Well, not at first - it was absolutely packed, the most crowded I've ever seen the place. But when we got to the stage, we were told by the operators that we were on Stage 2. We walked to find Stage 2, and when we did, I immediately dubbed it the "Sidney, Clayton, and Juglesh" Stage (if you know your "Animal House"), or the "We Didn't Really Want Your Kind Here, Anyway" Stage.

Because it wasn't even a stage. It was a canopy. It was a canopy facing a grassy knoll where about four people sat, and in between us and the knoll was a sidewalk where people were milling going in and out of the festival. No one would notice us, much less hear us.

And so I suddenly wasn't nervous at all. I was like an ant to these people! And so I became very calm and relaxed and actually ended up playing fairly well. And was more than happy to get the hell out of there right when it was all over. Which we did. Photo courtesy of the DeepFatFriar, who went along as photographer and fun guy to hang around with.

And it was really windy. My hair blew right off my head. I'd just put it back in this picture.

Then I came home and enjoyed a Saturday Chill Night.

It rained all day today, so I did what all kids do on rainy days, I stayed inside and played.

Actually, I thought you might like to see a little work I did on this week's Comfy Chair Cinema movie. I needed a little set decoration for this week's feature. And so rainy day play became Fun With Paint!

A little floor liner first, in case I got messy.

My illustration board, which I'd had forever for just something of this nature and finally got to use. And a tin of blue paint.

Ahhhhh, hard at work - I mean, play - there.

And a finished product!

Now, what happens with that? Well, you have to hie yourself to the Comfy Chair Cinema to find out, don't you?

And now it's time for this week's recipe du jour.

I've had a package of skewers in my kitchen drawer for some two years. To be honest, I don't even know why I bought them. Oh, that's a lie! I do! It was for one of my first recipes, "Easter on a Stick." Anyway, I seem to have been saving them all this time, knowing full well I'd never make anything so elaborate it would be served on a skewer. So it's time I started using them.

Now it's time to enjoy them to their fullest extent. Would you please welcome, from the "Fiber-Filled Italian" file in cardland, Sticks Marinara.

All you need is some sticks and some marinara. (The sticks made an appearance in last week's Cinema movie, "The Typewriter." One bit part and now you can't keep them off-camera.) And you don't even have to worry about cooking time, because the sticks will always be al dente. Don't forget to sprinkle with a little cheese, because, well, that makes it special, doesn't it.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* And yes, the aforementioned and sneak previewed movie is up at the Comfy Chair Cinema. I'm whoring like mad tonight, aren't I? Anyway, it's called "Whooosh!" and even comes with a short behind-the-scenes feature that's not really interesting at all and I have no idea why I included it.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Lower 40

Hello, friends. I have no blog for you tonight. I feel like I'm letting you down lately, what with no Picture Sunday, and shoving the acrotopic off on Stennie last night. Lovely acrotopic though it was, she came up with a very good one.

I mowed the yard today. Today has been the first rainless day since, well, probably since I last mowed. It's supposed to rain the rest of the week, so I figured it was today or get lost in my grass.

Here's the end result.

And what is a front yard without a back yard to compliment it? Well, I guess it's half the mowing.

Anyone have a good blog topic for me? I'm waning here.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners! So, courtesy of Stennie, tell us about "our trip to the zoo."
- Honorable Mention goes to LilyG, who had excitement at the zoo, with her, "Wooly rhino escaped -- wild mayhem abounds."
- Runner-Up goes to the DeepFatFriar, who saw, "Waluuses rub elbows with manatees, alligators." And that probably lasted about till the alligators got hungry.
- And this week's winner goes to Kellie (with an ie), whose trip to the zoo sums up about I feel about going myself, "Wretched. Rhinoceros, Elephants Were malodorous. Awful!" Really, the aquarium's much nicer.
- Thanks to all who played - you've all done very well!


Monday, May 12, 2008


Hello, lovers of letters, and welcome to another round of acromania.

I'm a little tired tonight, and so I gave the honor of Mistress of the Acrotopic to my buddy and podcastmate Stennie. And she came up with a really good one.

This week's acrotopic? "Our Trip to the Zoo."

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

The topic, "Our Trip to the Zoo." The letters:


There you go, now acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I've been watching a PBS show about FDR. He was quite the ladies' man. I guess that was back in the days when they didn't talk about those things.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

No Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders, and welcome an edition of No Picture Sunday. I spent a weekend at home, shopping yesterday for Mother's Day and birthday gifts, and spent today at Granny's (she's doing much better thanks) with the family. No pictures, no recipes.

So sorry to you all, and hope this will only be a temporary Picture Sunday vacation.

In the meantime, though, please - I beseech you, please! - visit the Comfy Chair Cinema and view our latest movie, starring more very familiar hands. Our ticket sales are waning, and we lost Ethel, who makes the popcorn, and we've had to resort to the kind you microwave in a bag, only we don't have a microwave, so we just give you a bag and let you eat the kernels. This is just a minor setback, and when Ethel's hip gets better, she'll hopefully be back and our ticket sales will skyrocket. For your convenience, however, Goobers are on sale this week. 10% off.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I've been tagged! Mr Middlebrow, he of the always-great CDs in the Mix Exchange, has tagged me to do The One-Word Memo. I'm feeling a little one-worded tonight, so let's give it a try.

Yourself: Dreamer
Your Partner: Huh?
Your Hair: Curly
Your Mother: Fruity
Your Father: Stubborn
Your Favorite Item:
Your Dream Last Night: Unremembered
Your Favorite Drink: Coffee
Your Dream Home: Bigger
The Room You Are In: Cozy
Your Fear: Flying
Where Do You Want to be in 10 years: Elsewhere
Who You Hung Out With Last Night: Records
What You Are Not:
Muffins: Untouchable
One of Your Wish Items: Energy
Last Thing You Did: Blogged
What You Are Wearing: Uncomfortable

Your Favorite Weather: Brisk
Your Favorite Book: Zippy
Last Thing You Ate: Strawberries
Your Mood: Dread
Your Best Friends: Understanding
What Are You Thinking About Right Now: Trash
Your Car: Dependable
Your Summer: Sweaty
What’s on your TV: Black
What Is Your Weather Like: Changing
When Was the Last Time You Laughed: Hours
What is your relationship status: Nonexistent

So, there you go, Mr Middlebrow. Thinking of trash because it's time for trash duty.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

The 7th Great CD Mix Exchange Track List

Hello, loves.

Things seem to be amazingly normal at the Poderosa. My mom, aka Granny, is out of the hospital, but having to do outpatient IV treatments of her antibiotic. The Great Water Debacle of 08 seems to have ended, with my old friend Barbara at the water office telling me my meter doesn't seem to be running when I'm not home, and my water usage is way down since the plumbers came.

So now I'm back to busying myself with laundry catch-up, cleaning, practicing the clarinet, and worrying about my next recipe du jour and if I can come up with an idea for another Comfy Chair movie. And putting CDs into envelopes and mailing them 'round the country.

Because it's Mix Exchange Time!

Yep, that thing we do, we Mix Exchange Fanatics. For those unfamiliar, Mix Mistress Stennie announces an exchange every several months. She comes up with a list of song categories, and those who want to participate sign up, make up their own CDs using their particular songs matching those categories, and send them to the other participants. If 10 people sign up, you make 10 CDs, keep one for yourself, send nine out, and everyone else does the same, and in no time nine CDs will be in your mailbox containing some very interesting music, much of which you'll have never heard before. It's a great way to hear new music, and to get an insight into how the other mixers think.

Some people include the titles to their songs along with the CD; others don't. Those who don't wait until the CDs have had a chance to wing their ways across America, then print the titles in their blogs. And I'm in that camp, so it's time for the official song list to "007: Licensed To Mix," the Mix Exchange title that I apparently came up with some months ago, but I swear I don't remember doing it.

007: Licensed To Mix

1. Kickass cover song - with a twist. It must be a cover of a song someone else used in one of the six previous CD Mix Exchanges. "Not Like Everybody Else," Camper Van Beethoven. Probably my favorite song from anyone on the last exchange was Mike's "B-Side" entry, by the Kinks. I went searching on iTunes to see if it had been covered, and was quite surprised at the number of times it had. You can't go wrong with Camper Van Beethoven, although nothing will beat the original.

2. A song that gives you goose bumps. "Mercy Seat," Nick Cave. I had a couple of entries sketched out for this, songs so beautiful or that had such strange chords that the little bumps made an appearance on my skin. In the end, I went a different way. This produces goose bumps of the creepy kind. "Mercy Seat" is a song, sung in the first person, about a man getting ready to go to the electric chair. The droning guitar and endless repeating of the chorus, along with the lyrics, which contain a hefty amount of Jesus on the cross imagery - well, I don't suggest you listen to it alone in the dark at 4 am. Which is, oddly enough, exactly how I heard it the first time.

3. Song about the state where you live. "Carrie Brown," Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band. Living where I do, about 90 minutes east of Bristol, VA, I think this song has one of the brilliant lyrics of all time. It's a sad tale of lost love - and murder, I mean, it's a bluegrass song, after all - about a mountain boy, on his first trip to town, who falls in love with Carrie Brown. She's in Bristol town. See, Bristol is a border town. There's Bristol, VA and Bristol, TN, and the state line between the two runs right down the middle of the main street in town, State Street. When I was in high school band, we marched a parade on State Street every year. If one was lucky enough to be in the middle of a row (I never was), one could actually march the parade with one foot in Virginia and one foot in Tennessee. So the kicker line to the song, when our narrator can take it no more after seeing Carrie Brown walking on the arm of her boyfriend Billy Wise, is, "I shot him in Virginia and he died in Tennessee." Apparently poor Billy Wise fell backwards.

4. Parentheses! Song with a parenthetical title. "(C'est La Vie) You Never Can Tell," Emmylou Harris. When I decided on this one for my final mix, I realized it's rockin', but it's country rockin'. Since it came right after a bluegrass song, I went to my CD collection and found the original by Chuck Berry. It's simply called "You Never Can Tell," with no parentheses. So I went back to Emmylou's version, and I hope I didn't cheat.

5. Therefore I am: A song about thinking. "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby," Marvin Gaye. There's really not too much to say about this other than what I said on the CD insert. For my money, one of the greatest records of all time. I've loved it since I was a kid, and Marvin Gaye has a voice like warm cream, silk, sunshine, and chocolate, all wrapped together and tied with a bow.

6. Alliteration! Song with alliteration in the title. "Flip, Flop, and Fly," Jools Holland. I looked all over the place for an alliteration song with more than two words in it. There are two-word alliteration songs galore, but I wanted more! I wanted at least three! After finding "The Poor People of Paris" (instrumental), "Flat Foot Floogee" (not a good version), and "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" (which I'm sure has been used before), I found this one in my album collection. I used it, and only this very day was wandering through my iTunes - where I happened upon AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." Proving that I am not perfect.

7. Favorite song from the year you were born. "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop," Little Anthony and the Imperials. Hey, I was born a long time ago. I didn't have long, flowing lists of great rock songs from my year. There were a few, most of which I'd unknowingly used in previous mixes. When I saw this on a "Playlists of 1960" website, I picked it immediately, because it always reminds me of that little scene in "Big" where the two kids are walking home singing, and the line "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop" makes an appearance. Oddly enough, know what else is a song from 1960? "The Hucklebuck!" But podcast listeners have heard that one way too much already.

8. Song about an animal. "Quinto," Alan Arkin. Psych! I know everyone who participated in this mix was expecting Mr Alan Arkin to show up in the next category. I had other plans there, so I needed to fit Mr A into another slot. This is a very sweet song about a boy and his pony. I had a bunch of other animal songs, but most of them just had animals in the title. The category was about an animal. Only two songs were specifically about animals, and Mr Arkin won.

9. Song performed by a non-traditional musician. "Highly Illogical," Leonard Nimoy. When I first read this category in the exchange, I knew I wanted to try and find this song. When we were kids, my cousin Jacob had the album "The Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy." Apparently one side was Spock singing and one side was Leonard singing. We used to think this song was the funniest thing in the world. It's amazing how easy it was to find. It's not nearly so funny now, but still kind of a giggle, mainly because it's so dated.

10. Grammatically Incorrect - song with bad grammar in its title. "Ain't Got No Home," the Band. Many years ago, in my "Vinyl Fetish" blog, I told of how when I was young, Moore's potato chips used to include a 45 single as a prize with every double bag. Normally they were pretty lame, bargain basement fare, stuff you'd never heard of or wished you never had, but one fine day, the prize in my potato chips was this single. I loved it, and still do. I like it way better than the original.

11. Song with your favorite guitar or instrumental solo. "I Fought The Law," the Clash. I'm not much on guitar solos, but I love this one. The way the two guitars swirl around each other is fun. I'd gotten the song list for this exchange set and later, driving home from the grocery, I had a panicked thought - "I've used this before!" I went back and checked all my previous CD lists, and it wasn't there, but I swear I thought I remembered writing this line about this song - "When the Clash sings this song, you have a feeling they mean it." So I'll write it now. In fact, I just did.

12. War - ugh! - what is it good for? Song about war. (Good God, yall.) "Polly on the Shore," Robyn Hitchcock. Not much to say here. I like it because it's simple, it's beautiful, and it shows how the anti-war song has been around during just about every war there was.

13. Song about sex. "Men Who Love Women Who Love Men," Steve Goodman. I knew I couldn't put some overtly sexual ditty on my mix without a red face, so I went milder. Well, the language is milder, but I think there are very few orientations left out of this one. Boy, I miss Steve Goodman. Man was a golden nugget songwriting machine.

14. Song about drugs. "Candyman," Donovan. Well, here it is. I've blogged about this song twice that I know of. It's the song I fell in love with when I was about six years old when my dad brought home Donovan's "Fairytale" album. I thought it was about a man who sold candy! Boy, did I want to meet the candyman. It also features my first mis-heard lyric. "The candyman, he's Morocco-bound." I thought it was "he's my rock o' bound." You know, like my Rock o' Gibraltar. Hey, I was six. And how can you not like a song with the old refrain, "Run fetch a pitcher get the baby some beer?"

15. Song about rock and roll. "I Knew The Bride When She Used to Rock and Roll," Nick Lowe. And to be honest, there are parentheses somewhere in that title, but I'm not sure where they go. I picked this one because it's the same song as "You Never Can Tell." I mean, I think it's supposed to be, but you can almost sing one on top of the other. And for some reason, I really, really like that.

16. Why so sad? Song about the blues, a broken heart, crying, etc. "Sales Tax Blues," the Mississippi Sheiks. I must admit, I first heard this song by the Hackensaw Boys. It used to be a staple, when, at the end of their concerts, they go out into the audience and sing songs without microphones or lights, but with a lot of happy dancing people circled around them. Sadly, they haven't done it the last few times I've seen them. I went one night looking for the original, and found it. Complete with narration. And people? These guys are sad.

17. Bonus or hidden track from a CD. "Jump Up," Elvis Costello. This was a bonus track from "My Aim is True" on the Rykodisc box set. I knew I would use Elvis for this track, because the man has so many bonus songs strewn around CDs it's hard to keep up with them all. I hadn't heard this one in years, and when listening last week, had a newfound appreciation for it.

18. Perchance to dream: song about dreaming. "Dream," Forest for the Trees. Yes, it's a guilty pleasure. And I like it for the reasons most other people think it's a cheesy piece of tripe. Let's see, inventory: rain? check. bagpipes? check. baby? check. electronic cow? check. running stream? check. sitar? check. alarm clock? check. Somewhere in there, I'm sure someone's playing a kitchen sink.

19. Song with the same title as a famous book or movie. "Lust for Life," Iggy Pop. If this is based on the epic film about Van Gogh, I've certainly missed something. I had a hard time coming up with one for this category, only had two choices. I picked this one because, dammit, I don't care if it was used in a cruise line commercial or not, I like it!

20. Amnesty song - song you wanted to use for one of the above categories but didn't have room. "Poor Thing," the Hackensaw Boys. Boy, just under the wire. For a time, I thought I was going to have a Hackensaw-less mix. I knew I wouldn't let that happen, and realized that this song, the one Hackensaw Boys song guaranteed to make Mr M smile, was an alternate for the "why so sad?" track.

And another CD Mix Exchange is in the can. When the next comes up, I'll bitch and moan, but I'll be the first to sign up. Of course.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Sorry, after that, I'm just typed out.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

RIP, Mr Key

It came across the wires today that Ted Key died. He was 95, which was good, he almost made it a whole century.

Most of you, well, those who know the name at all, probably know Mr Key as the cartoonist who created Hazel, the maid who ran roughshod over a family, and who was later played by Shirley Booth on TV. However, he was also the man who created Sherman and Mr Peabody.

When I saw the report this morning I was at work. I saw "creator of Sherman and Peabody," and thought, "Wait, that can't be right." I knew he was something on the S & P team, but I had it in my mind that he was a writer. Well, I had it wrong.

I went to the shelf of my office and pulled out my book. The book "The Moose That Roared," which was written by Keith Scott and is a goldmine of information on the Bullwinkle gang. I mean, if you've ever enjoyed an episode of Bullwinkle, it would do you well to seek this book out. It tells just about everything there is to know about the Rocky and Bullwinkle World.

And so I opened the book. And there it was. Yes, Ted Key was singularly responsible for the birth of Sherman and Peabody. And everything else I'm going to say here is taken from one section or other of Mr Scott's book, and I give him all credit.

Key got the idea for our favorite boy and dog team by watching, of all things, his cat. He found it amusing how our pets dictate how we behave, and also decided what a cute idea it was for a dog to have a pet boy. And he'd been asked to create something for Jay Ward's upcoming "Rocky and his Friends," and began to form a basis for "Peabody's Improbable History."

Only that wasn't the original title. It was, believe it or not, "Danny Daydream." Sherman was called Danny, and he was the pet boy of a genius dog named Beware. Mr Key knew he wanted time travel to be a part of their segment, and he started thinking of ways to incorporate a time machine into the story. When he met Jay Ward and the other powers that be to pitch his idea, they loved it. And with a few roundtable discussions it would be decided that not only would the two characters go back in time, they would actually have a hand in creating the history they observed. Because it would be funnier if all those historical figures were "complete boobs," according to Ward.

And so the WABAC machine was created, and Beware turned into Peabody, which was the name of Bill Scott's - show writer and voice of not only Peabody, but Bullwinkle as well - dog at the time. Danny became Sherman, from Sherman Glas, a technical director. And thus was born a legend.

The character of Peabody was actually modeled after Clifton Webb's Mr Belvedere, a fact obvious to anyone who's seen a Peabody cartoon and a Mr Belvedere movie. To me, they even look alike. Scott remarked once that it was actually rather painful doing the voice of Mr Peabody, because to do so he had to contort his mouth into a tight purse. Walter Tetley voiced Sherman. Tetley was an actor who, due to a genetic condition, had a high voice and sounded quite young. He was also the voice of Andy Panda, and for those of you lucky enough to have heard "Stan Freeberg Presents the United States of America," Tetley provided the very Sherman-like voice of Myron, the kid who lived next door to Ben Franklin, from whom Franklin stole all his inventions.

Ted Key, when "Peabody's Improbable History" got the green light, created 93 episode ideas, and in the end 91 were scripted.

If only there could have been more!

So raise a glass and wish Godspeed to Ted Key, please.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* Acrowinners, we have acrowinners. What is the name of your big band?
- Runner-up goes to Kellie (with an ie), with her, "Rolicking Ned Lerner's Oboe Enthusiasts, 'Nifty Five.'" (Nothing like rollicking oboists!)
- And this week's winner is LilyG, with her, "Red's Nebraska Lovin' Orchestra, Evenings, Noons, Fridays." (Go see them at noon, they swing!)
- Thanks to all who played, you've all done very well!


Monday, May 05, 2008


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

I'm very tired, and time is short, because I'm about to go record the 100th episode of the Hucklebug podcast. So let's get right to it.

I was thinking today about big bands. Not bands full of big people, or marching bands, but big bands that play jazz and swing. Like, well, like the band from my favorite Bob and Ray skit, Lloyd Fletch and His All-Male Orchestra. Big bands tend to have big names. Claude Hoople's All-Star Rhapsodic Revue and the like.

This week's acro? "What's the Name of Your Big Band?"

Rules are easy. Three entries per person to come up with the best acronym you can. It must match the topic above and the letters below, which are randomly drawn from the acrobasket. Who once played triangle in Wally Williams and his Wistful Wayward Wickerbaskets. I'll be reading the entries and judging at 10:00 pm est tomorrow. Then I shall name the winners.

The topic, "What's the Name of Your Big Band?" The letters:


Now, tune up and acro.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* I mowed the lawn today. Started the mower twice, once for the back and once for the front, and on the front - one pull. Started with one pull. I'm pretty special, huh.


Sunday, May 04, 2008

Picture Sunday

Hello, end of weekenders. And talking about the end of a weekend, I've left it till the last minute to post Picture Sunday. The weekend has 7 minutes left.

I've been absent most of the week, physically and emotionally, and mentally too, I guess, because my mom, also known as Granny, has been in the hospital. As you all know, if you read me much, I've bitched and moaned about Granny for about three months now. She doesn't take care of herself, won't listen to her doctors, and her psoriasis is raging because she refuses to take the medicine her specialist gave her.

It's an incredibly long story, and I'm not going into all the gory details here (if you're interested, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and fifty cents and I'll tell all), but the upshot of it is that Tuesday she came into my office a complete and total wreck. She was freezing, could not warm up, and was shaking like a leaf. I tried to get her to go to the emergency room right then, was going to take her there myself, but she wouldn't go. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth (actually crying and fighting), but she refused.

She was worse the next day, and agreed to go to her family physician. Who told her she was to hie her ass to the hospital immediately. He arranged admittance, and I took her and my dad up there. I stayed with her that day until about 8:45 pm, and leaving her to go home was the hardest thing I've ever done. I'm not kidding - at that point, I wouldn't have given you a dollar for her to last out the week. She was pitiful. She also had a temperature so low it wouldn't register on a thermometer.

What's worse, her psoriasis was in full rage. I'd never really seen the full extent of it until that day, when I helped her change into her hospital gown. She looked like a leper.

After much testing and waiting, it was determined she had a bacterial infection in her blood. From, wonder of wonders, a break in her psoriasis-plagued skin. She's been in the hospital since, getting antibiotics via IV, and is doing better, but she'll be there several more days.

The only good part of all this is that her attending physician while she's there, who's not a dermatologist but an allergist and sounds exactly like Huckleberry Hound, has finally gotten her to understand that when this is over, she must go on her psoriasis medication. For if not, this could happen again and again.

So, we'll see, and it's been an extremely long and tiring week, but seeing Mom improve has helped me survive it. And in case you've been wondering, yes, the real Huckleberry Hound, "Luckie Huckie" himself, who stays with all my family members when they're in the hospital, has been with my mom since the first night.

That long narrative over, I've got lots of pictures, so I'll try to keep the lines short from here on out. (Notice I said "try.")

As one enters the hospital here in town, there's a long hallway, and down the entire damn thing hang portraits of men. I'm assuming they're doctors but can't prove it, maybe they're department heads or something.

I've walked past this gallery of guys every day since Tuesday, and the same thing always bores itself into my brain. Because there's one picture that drives me absolutely batshit crazy.

When exactly was comedian/actor Richard Belzer a doctor at our local hospital? Judging by the glasses, it seems to have been in the early 80s. That was before his whole "Law & Order" gig, so I guess he was hurting for entertainment money and had to turn to the medical profession.

Of course I stayed local this week, and Mr M was kind enough to come down to visit me, then visit Granny, today. He was also kind enough to bring a chicken to roast, and we had a very nice home-cooked meal, which was a first for me this week.

But more importantly, he helped me with my lawn mower!

I finally rolled it out of my dennette on Saturday, rolled it back to the shed and left it there. He showed me how to put gas and oil in it, we got the grass catcher on, and he showed me how to start it. I told him I'd never be able to pull that rope, but he said "pish tish," which was a lie, he actually said "bullshit," and killed the engine so I could try.

And I tried. I tried a lot.

I tried so many times, in fact, that I became delirious and was consumed with the helpless giggles. I laughed so hard I got light-headed. I laughed so hard Mr M abandoned me and went inside to watch television. I laughed until my sides were sore.

And then I laughed some more.

And then I somehow got the thing started, but I swear it was a one-time deal, and I'll never be able to do it again.

Once it was started, though, I had to give it a try, so I mowed the side of my house. And boy, does my house look nice and trim! OK, sorry, I mowed the grass at the side of my house. If I can get it started tomorrow and back from visiting Granny in time, I plan to do the rest. It's actually very easy to work with mowing-wise, very agile, and leaves a great look to the grass.

Here's a mowing girl. Not a starting girl, just a mowing girl.

OK, now comes the recipe du jour.

You know, when I was growing up around here there was a popular brand of bread called Rainbo. I don't know if it was everywhere or just in the South, but I remember it vividly from my childhood days. For two reasons. First of all, even as a child I hated that they thought it was cute to leave the "w" off, and second of all, I don't know why anyone would want to associate their bread with a rainbow when every damn piece of bread in there was white.

Well, I've done something about that! From the "Colorful Staples" file at cardland, would you please say hello to "Rainbow Bread."

All you need to do for this one is to mix up some food coloring, get a paintbrush, and go wild. I've chosen to make my bread green, purple, blue, and red. And just for fun, I've color-coordinated their garnishes. Tell me that would make a bland sandwich - I dare you!

And I left the "w" just where God intended, thank you very much.

Happy week.

Betland's Olympic Update:
* All this and a movie, too! A new movie is up at the Comfy Chair Cinema. After seeing Sherman's movie last week, Mr Peabody decided to get into the act. And you won't want to miss this one. Line up and get your tickets now, or just follow this link. You won't be sorry!