Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Fantasyland

Tonight I’ve been watching the closing ceremonies of the Olympics and I’m much more impressed with Canadians than I used to be.

It’s not that I have ever not been impressed with them, I’ve always liked Canadians. They seemed laid back and easy going and good hearted. I just didn’t realize they had so much spunk.

They’ve also got a sense of humor. On opening night, there were four athletes who were supposed to light four pillars leading up to a giant torch. These pillars rose magnificiently from beneath the floor – except for one. So tonight they did a little skit where a clown coaxed the fourth pillar out of the floor and then the 4th athlete came out of the floor and lit the pillar. I like that they owned up to this blight of the opening night and turned it into entertainment. Smart, those Canadians!

I always enjoy the Olympics in the same way I enjoy Disneyland. You pay a huge fee to get in the door, but then you leave reality behind and have smiling giant mice greeting you at every corner. The employees blend into the fantasy, and when you see them, they’re always super nice. People walk around singing and happy. Everything is colorful. No one knocks you to the pavement and steals your purse. I always hate leaving Disneyland and going back into the cold, surly world where Californians blow their horns at you simply because you have Oregon plates and you go a tad slower. Sheesh!

The Olympics give me that Disneyland high because everyone is a good sport – no one is getting into brawls like in regular sports or yelling obscenities that have to be bleeped out. People play fair (except perhaps Chinese gymnasts who like infants in leotards), and greet each other kindly, congratulating each other. This is definitely a fantasyland compared to a lot of the sports I’ve seen, and I like it a lot.

I really enjoyed everything except for one thing. What happened to Bob Costa’s pupils? His eyes are solid blue without any black. Very strange.

The Olympics ending is always sad for me, but thanks to NBC we’ll get three more days of enjoying our Olympic heros, so I'll be able to look forward to that. Jay Leno, who ousted Conan O’Brien to return to the Late Show because he couldn’t make it in prime time – though I was the one American who actually liked his show – Jay is going to have Lindsay Vonn, Apollo Ohno, and Shaun White on his show to try and woo viewers back.

Oooo – I just had a great idea. Someone needs to open an amusement park and call it “Olympic Fantasyland.” It could be an escape from reality like Disneyland, except have rides that are Olympics inspired for those of us who like our sports dangerous but virtual. Wouldn’t the Bobsled Ride be a thriller? And a rollercoaster fashioned after a downhill course where it lunges toward gates and makes hairpin turns. Then you could have the Halfpipe Ride where you shoot straight up in the air and get rotated around like Shaun White’s McTwist before coming back down and going up the other side. And there could be ski jumping where you could glide down a long ramp and launch out into space. And virtual skeleton rides and snowboard cross. I’m getting really excited about this idea! There could even be curling where people get to sweep frantically with brooms and nothing happens. Well, maybe not.

So I’m going to go to bed tonight, not with a heavy heart from the Olympics ending, but with a head dancing with ideas for my own Olympic Village Amusement Park. By the way, If you are an investor with a lot of money, please email me and let’s get this baby started.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Funny Dog

This dog of mine has some pretty interesting behaviors. For one, she tries to bury her food, especially if she doesn’t like it. Since there’s no dirt in the house, she pushes imaginary dirt in the direction of her food. Her head goes back and forth, the nose dipping down toward the floor then rising up as she pushes the “dirt” toward her dog bowl. If she doesn’t like what I’ve given her that day, she’ll push the dirt so hard that her nose bangs into the dog bowl and lifts it up off the tiles. It bangs back down just in time for her to raise it up again. This goes on for about a minute. Anywhere I am in the house, I hear this clomp clomp clomp sound and know what she’s up to. The more she hates the food, the longer and louder the bowl clomps. She wants that thing six feet under.

We have floor to ceiling windows in the back of our house, and we live in a wooded area, so there are deer, raccoons, crows, cats, and lots of squirrels tromping through the yard at any given time. The squirrels come down on the concrete patio and sidle right up to the window, teasing the poor dog, whose name is Shelley. She gets this high-pitched, excited bark and starts running around the window, which delights the squirrels. They come closer. When I hear the commotion, I come out of my office and sneak over to the front door so as not to tip off the squirrel, then whisper Shelley’s name. She darts over and I open the door as quietly as I can. She races out the door, around the side of the house, and tears across the patio after the squirrel, looking like a black bullet flying over the ground without legs because they’re moving too fast to be detected by the human eye. The squirrel flicks his tail in the air and heads for the trees, which are close enough that the squirrel always gets away. We have a giant maple tree with a crotch that she jumps into so she can stretch up the trunk and bark at the squirrel, which is flicking its tail just out of range. This happens several times a day. Those squirrels are having the time of their lives!

Another thing Shelley does is hide behind my legs when the kids want to pick her up. If they go to one side, she goes to the other. So they try that side, and she goes back to the other. “Mom, make her be still,” they say. Actually I’m on Shelley’s side, because they’ll just torment her. My son blows in her face to make her snap, and my daughter holds her on her back like a baby and talks to her, which she doesn’t like. So I stay out of it and make them catch her on their own. After a little while Shelley gets tired of going back and forth and starts barking ferociously, which delights my son because the dog is a black, 9 pound dust mop, and when she barks and snarls her white teeth look about as scary as grains of rice. It’s ludicrous that she acts like a tough character. My son will finally catch her, she’ll bite him, he’ll get mad and put her down, and life returns to normal.

Dogs are always leaving their scent everywhere. Luckily Shelley doesn’t do this in the house, but outside she’s like a water pistol, soaking everything in sight. I read once that dogs try to one up each other by making a squirt a little higher on the tree than the last dog. This is a definite disadvantage for small dogs like Shelley. She can’t possibly get a squirt as high as a German shepherd with legs that aren’t even six inches long. So she goes up to a tree and stands on her front legs like she’s doing a handstand and fires her shot off. It’s the silliest thing you’ve ever seen with those back legs up in the air. When she gets done she scratches the ground with all four legs like she’s trying to throw dirt on the other guy’s scent just in case she didn’t get high enough. She does it with such vengeance – really digging in and spraying little tufts of grass behind her several times, making sure she’s got the job done.

This dog is a delight to our home, and we love her. Right now she’s sitting on the chair beside me, patiently hoping that I’ll remember to toss the little yellow tennis ball that’s about the size of a golf ball so she can try to catch it on a bounce. Normal tennis balls are too big. Maybe I’d better go do that right now.

Controlling the Remote

Someone needs to invent a TV with his and her remote controls so that women can change the station when men go to sleep in front of the TV watching boring guy shows.

I don’t think men falling asleep in front of the TV is uncommon, because all the women I know complain about it. The men insist on holding the remote, flicking through station after station before lighting on the same shows they watch every single night. They get that contented look on their faces because they’ve found the perfect show – for them – and then a few minutes later they are sawing zzzzz’s.

My husband loves shows he knows I don’t like. He watches shows like Ice Road Truckers, and Big Machines, and World’s Craziest Foods. He knows I’m not a big fan of these shows because they involve close-up shots of big machines moving around – yawn – or an overweight guy eating grotesque food like chocolate cockroaches. I’m not even sure he likes these shows himself, because he immediately falls asleep when they’re on. So why does he always turn them on? I believe it’s to torment me. It’s a power struggle that he wins because he controls the remote.

In other words, it’s a passive-aggressive thing. I’m convinced that everything anyone does that doesn’t suit me is passive aggressive. I like having a label for things that drive me nuts.

My friend, Julie, and I were talking tonight about the remote. Her husband is like mine. He insists on holding it, finding the station, then falling asleep. When she goes over and tries to slide the remote out of his hand, he wakes right up and says, “What are you doing? I’m watching that!”

This is exactly what my husband does. He can be sound asleep, talking away, snoring, head bobbing to one side, completely oblivious if the phone rings, the dog barks, or children scream – but if you lay a finger on that remote he springs awake like a watchdog and asks, “What are you doing? Give me that remote!”

I think that the scientists of the world should come up with dual remotes so that women don’t have to go through this whole crazy charade of trying to ease the remote out of the clutches of sleeping men. When the men doze off, which is right after supper, about two minutes after sitting on the couch, we can turn a switch and the control of the remote goes to us so that we can watch something decent like a nice sitcom or chick flick or reality show. The men will continue sleeping until 9:00 or so without interruption, and without knowing the channel has been changed, and then startle awake, clutch the remote, look around like they’ve just been resting their eyes, and say, “I think I’ll hit the sack.” Women say, “Okay, honey, I’ll be along in a few minutes,” and we can continue paying bills or knitting or combing the dog while we watch our favorite shows. I think this is an excellent idea.

Of course you and I both know this won’t happen. The very thought of having a women in charge of the remote is an affront to a man’s virility, even if it’s only while he’s asleep. Men everywhere will revolt against it. But we can dream, ladies, and hope that it will some day become a reality. In the meantime, if you slide the remote very gently on each snore, and let it rest in between, you’ll have a better chance of successfully getting it out of the sleeping guy’s hand. I wish you all the best of luck!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Can't Do Attitude

I wrote yesterday about those crazy Olympic athletes who risk their lives flying up in the air on skis or racing over the ice, and how their parents should have stopped them from these maniacal pursuits. Then it dawned on me that the parents were probably encouraging their little tikes all along.

These parents must have demonstrated a “Can Do,” attitude to their children. Here’s a normal response to a small child wanting to race down a hill full speed on a couple of boards: “Are you crazy? You’ll kill yourself.”

Here’s the response from Olympic parents: “Not only can you fly down the hill like a blur, I will buy you all the expensive equipment and lift tickets, and drive you two hours to the mountain every weekend.”

That’s a can do attitude, which I think is probably essential to any potential neck-breaking activity. But it’s not just limited to sports. A can do attitude carries over into all walks of life.

Which is why I think it’s so sad that I seem to only have a Can’t Do philosophy. I tried to keep track of how many Can’t Do’s I say in a given day, and it’s about a zillion.

Here’s a sample list:

I can’t see without my glasses

I can’t reach the clock to replace the batteries

I can’t stand waiting in lines at the grocery

I can’t walk that far

I can’t remember the subject of this blog

These are self-imposed limits I put upon myself that keep me from being as rich as Warren Buffet and as talented as Meryl Streep. My can’t do attitude is the only thing keeping me from the successes I know are out there waiting for me to pluck them like low growing fruit.

I’m taking a stand right here and now. I’m not going to play second fiddle anymore – even if I could play the fiddle, because I now realize that I, too, could be great in way more ways than just shuttling kids around and shouting at them to be quiet. Perhaps I could aspire to swim the English Channel, or climb Mt. Everest.

There’s only one problem. What busy adult has enough time to practice at being great? You can’t just walk up to the base of Mt. Everest in your flip flops and start moseying up to the top. There’s equipment to purchase, and hours of hikes and exercises to get ready. You have to have Shirpas! How can I, a woman without visible means, work, have a family, and do all that?

The answer is, I can’t. Oh crap. I didn’t mean to say that. The answer is, I could if I really wanted to, because I’d make time and I’d earn the money, by golly.

But now that I think this through a little more, maybe this is why Olympic athletes are all young. Their parents are their athletic supporters, and they’ve got all the time in the world to practice.

While I, sigh, may not be able to pursue dangerous, death-defying dreams of my own at this juncture in my life, I can still keep a can do attitude about my everyday activities. I can push away that brownie. I can get to appointments on time. I can exercise when I’d rather be sleeping in.

And I can see without my glasses, if I put the zoom up to 300%. I feel like a champion already!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Crazy Olympians

I have been watching the Olympics with awe. I think these athletes should receive all the admiration and accolades we can give, whether or not they walk off with a medal.

That being said, does anyone besides me realize how insane these people are? Look at the halfpipe competition. The snowboarders are going up a wall of ice that is 22 feet straight up, and they’re trying to go as high into the air ABOVE that as they can, AND do flips and twists while they’re up there, then come back down and land on that same sheer wall. Shaun White went 18 feet above the wall to win the gold medal. They kept showing a video of him at an earlier competition coming down and smashing his face against the lip of the wall. His helmet flew off, his head snapped back, and it looked like it wouldn’t be an injury anyone would walk away from, but he did.

I’ve skied in a halfpipe. It’s scary just going straight down the middle. You’re in a tunnel, and we’d make a little ripple over the base of the wall; just enough to go up in the air slightly and then come back down. Scared the crap out of me. I heap an avalanche of praise on all the snowboarders who compete on the halfpipe.

Then there’s downhill skiing. These lunatics go 80 mph and more on ice and in fog as thick as gravy. I’m afraid to go that fast in an automobile.

The people doing luge, bobsled, and skeleton are certifiable. My view of these sports is obscured by my fingers. I watch them like I watch a horror movie – with my hands in front of my face so I won’t see something too awful for too long. I just saw a women’s team doing bobsled where the back teammate was flung out of the sled and went the rest of the course sliding down the track on her back going 35 mph. What possesses people to want to do this?

The ice skating stresses me out when the athletes jump into the air and do triple turns and then land on a blade that looks thinner than a fingernail file. These people must have bruises all over them, because they fall even in competition, so you can imagine what they do in practice. Ice racing is frightening to watch, too, because when a racer goes down, (s)he takes everyone else with them, with those razor blades on their feet going in all directions as they skid across the ice on their backs.

Freestyle skiing, snowboard cross, ski jumping – all of these are so dangerous looking. You’ve got to wonder, who are these athletes’ parents? When that little five year old came up and said they wanted to ski and win the a medal in the Olympics, why didn’t their parents lock them in the closet for a few years until they grew out of it? If my child were one of these crazies, I don’t know how I could sleep. Of course I’d be proud, but I would wear out my welcome with the good Lord praying for my child’s safety night and day.

The only winter sport I’d ever want any child of mine to aspire to would be curling. It is both a safe Olympic sport and an entertaining one – and by entertaining I mean hilarious. Those sweepers with their frenetic brooms intently swishing in front of the stone as it works it’s way toward the target – in a covered building with no hills in sight – are the perfect demonstration of athletic prowess. So what if they are such a powerful contrast to Lindsey Vonn and Shaun White. At the end of the day, they all stand on the podium as equals. As a mother I could brag just as much about my curling athlete going to the Olympics.

I’m so proud of all these athletes, and they are an inspiration to all of us to not spend so much time in front of the TV and get out there and live – after the Olympics are over, of course.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pursuing 1990's Trivia

Whatever happened to the nineties, as in the 1990’s? There’s a Trivial Pursuit game with questions just from that decade that I and some relatives played this evening after dinner. Our ages ranged from 5 to 57, and none of us knew any of the answers. We made a couple of lucky guesses, and with a few gimmes we were finally able to end the game, but not without a struggle. It didn’t help that one of the players was from Italy.

The 90’s were a blur to all of us. Of course, to base a whole board game on trivia questions from one decade meant that the questions were somewhat obscure. On each of those little cards, there are six questions, and there must be a hundred cards with the game, or more, so that’s 600 facts about the 90’s. 600 things didn’t even happen in the 90’s, so some of those questions may have been made up. We certainly wouldn’t have known the difference.

I was buried under small children in the 90’s, so the big news of most of my days was who had hit whom and how it allegedly started and why that was a lie because it really started this way. The only music I had in my car were kids songs with lyrics like, “Riding along, ding dong, I see a cow – you do? Oh wow.” If these songs weren’t on in the car, then the fighting escalated. The soothing sounds of stupid lyrics had a calming effect on my children.

At home the TV had Rugrats on or nothing at all. I couldn’t watch news because of the violence, and I couldn’t watch sitcoms because of the sex. My husband and I had to sneak and watch this stuff in the bedroom – like it was some kind of news porn. I could have read the paper, but when you have young children, all the doom and gloom in the world is frightening. It also makes you feel guilty. How could you bring innocents into the world with wars, scandals, natural disasters, airline crashes, and the Back Street Boys?

So I missed all the music, all the news, all the actors – the only movies I saw were animated – everything that might have made the 90’s a decade to remember.

I liked the Trivia of the 60’s and 70’s because there was so much going on. The music was outstanding – my daughter and her friends know all the words to so many of the songs from then, which always surprises me. I didn’t know any songs from my parents’ generation, despite their protests that the likes of Lawrence Welk was good listening.

After playing tonight I don’t actually feel that bad. I know if there were a Trivial Pursuit game for moms of the 90’s, I’d beat everyone. I know all about Chucky’s fears on Rugrats, Mufasa’s demise in “The Lion King,” what kinds of animals Milo and Otis were (and their genders), and how Chance, Sassy, and Shadow made it home in “Homeward Bound.” So heads-up, Trivial Pursuit. If you want me to win, throw out some of those questions, such as, “What year did the Back Street Boys break up?” (which I just made up – although this would be a typical question) and ask stuff like, “What was the heroine’s name in Beauty and the Beast?” That kind of trivia would make me feel like a winner rather than some vacant headed bimbo. Shame on you.

And Let the Bickering Begin

Why can’t we all just get along? Whenever family comes visiting, everyone starts bickering.

I know everyone anticipates these visits from relatives – we plan for them, put crisp sheets on the beds, shop for food we hope they’ll enjoy, spruce up the house, and try to make things inviting and wonderful. We greet each other with hugs and exclamations of delight.

By the second day of the visit we can’t wait until it’s bedtime and there’s a few minutes of peace and quiet. By the end of the fourth day, you wonder if you’re going to survive. And by the sixth day, you’re ready to move into a motel.

I don’t know if this is true with everyone, or it’s just my relatives. No one seems to like anyone else in my family. The women are chomping at the bit to get into a cat fight. Petty jealousies are rampant. We criticize each other’s food, clothing, and shelter.

Perhaps other families don’t do this. You ask someone casually if they enjoyed the visit with their relatives, and they always say, “Oh yes, it was just great seeing everyone and we did so many things together.”

Well, my family does things together, too. Any women together talk about the one who isn’t there. That’s our main topic of conversation, and I hate to admit it. If someone in the family is in trouble in any way, than that one gets to be the topic of conversation, with speculation on how they ended up the way they did, and how you saw it coming a long time ago, and what they should have done if they were smart, which they weren’t. They were stupid.

Quite frankly, I don’t know what else women would talk about, and this may be true for men too, though the men I know don’t seem to want to engage in this sort of thing for long – mostly because they don’t want to engage in any conversation for long. I know the nicest people who still end up slicing people to shreds; they simply do it with less venom and an appearance of deep concern. “I wonder why she drinks so much. She’s such a nice person, and yet when she drinks she gets loud and she gets that look on her face like this, that really just makes her so unattractive and I just want to tell the poor dear to…”

So there have been many testy nerves, some slamming doors, a lot of rolling eyes, a few raised eyebrows, sideways glances, and assorted other signs to tell someone else that we’re not happy with the way the others around us are conducting themselves.

But when it’s time for the company to leave, there will be tears of sorrow, we’ll miss you’s, come back when you can stay longer’s, and begging them not wait so long to visit. Then when the car doors close and they’re driving away, I for one will flop into a chair, let out a huge sigh, and start complaining that I don’t know why they couldn’t have stayed a couple of days longer.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Be Your Own Self

I recently heard on the radio some advice that a psychologist gave to teenagers, and it was profound. I am being sarcastic, because this learned advisor said: “Just be yourself.”

That’s what they told us back in the day, and I still don’t know what it means. There are plenty of people who I wish would NOT be themselves. If a person is naturally selfish, annoying, or gossipy, would you want them to continue being this way?

This “be yourself” advice is flawed from the get-go. Would you advise an axe murderer to “be yourself?” Do they tell people in jail to be themselves?

You go into the self-help section of a bookstore and every one of the titles is about trying to fix what’s wrong with you. There aren’t titles that say, “To Be a Success, Just Be Yourself.” If there were, I would have bought it just to figure out how people figure out what their self is. Curiously, all the books are written by psychologists, and all of them are trying to give you “10 Steps to a Better You.” If I’m supposed to be my self, then why would I want to change for the better? Isn’t being my self my ultimate goal?

My own personal self changes depending on circumstances. With my friends I’m loud, rowdy, and goofy. With a boss I’m quiet and attentive. With my children I’m trying to present a good example. I can’t image which one of these selves I’d pick to be all the time? And at heart, I’m a bitch. Is that the self they want me to be? It would sure make my life easier not to have to be making nice all the freaking time.

Even the simplest things like wardrobe choices vary depending on which self will be wearing it. If I’m going out partying with friends, I might wear something tight and low cut. If I’m going to dress my church self, I’m going to wear a modest skirt and sweater.

I don’t know anyone who has only one self all the time. My daughter is completely different around me than she is around her girlfriends. And they get really polite with me and don’t cuss, but I’ve overheard them when they didn’t know, and they are potty mouths. My son gets very polite and outgoing around everyone but me – to me he’s impatient and persnickety.

My guess is that they are advising kids not to be posers or fake. However, this is the very essence of being a teenager. We were always faking something. We faked being nice to someone in our group, or we faked being coy to the cute guy we had a crush on, or we faked being sick to get out of PE. We even faked boobs. Before boobs became so high tech, we used toilet paper. We had to wear bras to be socially accepted, and if the bra had nothing to go in it naturally, toilet paper worked just fine. I remember coming out of a bathroom after putting wads of toilet paper in my bra, and apparently I must not have gotten one lodged in there, because a little way down the hall a boob-shaped wad fell out of my dress. I’d felt it slip out and heard it hit the floor like a brick. I scurried forward and pretended I didn’t know anything about it, clutching my three ring binder to my chest until I could adjust my lopsidedness.

But my boobs, as interesting as they are, should not be a source of distraction from this important topic. I’ve come to the conclusion that psychologists keep telling teenagers to be themselves because it’s the only advice they’re willing to give out for free. They probably figure that those people who want to discover the meaning may even pay for some 60-minute couch sessions. It’s probably a marketing scheme. Next time someone says that around me, I’m going to fire back, “How ‘bout you be your own self?” or, if nothing else, I’ll say, “Which one?”

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sadistic Shoes

Women’s shoes are the most irritating things in the world. For something that is essential, why are they so difficult to buy?

First there’s the question of fit. Have you ever seen women’s feet? They come in a million shapes – narrow at the toes and wide at the heels, narrow at the heels and wide at the toes, and narrow at the – in other words, women’s feet are outrageously various. Some of us have a really long second toe – the one beside the big one. As if this toe is trying to show off because it can’t be the “Big” toe, so it has to prove something by being the “long” toe. Unlike the poor 4th toe that has no distinction whatsoever. It’s neither the big toe, the long toe, the middle toe, nor the little toe. There is no nickname for this toe. For this reason, it is obstinate. During a pedicure, the cuticle clings to the nail of the fourth toe like super glue to your finger. It’s a spiteful toe that will often develop a corn, stone bruise, callous, bunion, inflammation, or some other misery to attract your attention. On my foot, this toe leans to the side, making it harder to paint.

But this doesn’t have a lot to do with shoes per se, so I will leave it and get back on topic. Which is, let me go back to the top and read…shoes.

I have a duck foot, so buying shoes is torture. No regular department store shoe is going to fit my foot. The shoe can be perfect in every way, but my toes will be scrunched up in the toe box like those dehydrated sponges you give to kids in the shape of crabs or sea horses. Once they hit the water, they get 10 times their size. My toes get in most shoes and shrink down, lapping over top of each other and screaming obscenities at me. Sometimes I have to wear earplugs.

I’ve gone to wide shoe stores but they have been designed for very old crippled women with odd bones and warts covering their feet. Just try to find something fashionable in there. If you do happen to spot a pair you like, they cost a fortune, as if to say, “With such a fat foot to cover, we’re charging you extra, baby.”

What women end up having to do is buy the least uncomfortable pair of shoes we can find, then go home and try to walk around on them just enough to see if the pain in our feet keeps throbbing or subsides to a dull ache that is bearable. But we can’t wear them too much or they’ll look “worn,” in which case we won’t be able to take them back. I’ve had sales clerks bring out magnifying glasses to see if there is any minute speck of gravel on the sole indicating I’ve worn it – gasp – outside. “It’s okay to walk around with them in the house, but don’t you dare go outside,” the sales clerk always snipes.

I used to wear 3” heels and stand up a good part of the day. That’s before I had children and my feet grew two sizes – from B to D. I refuse to wear old women’s shoes, even though no store carries my size anymore, and shoe stretchers break under the pressure of trying to make a regular store shoe suitable for my foot.

But enough complaining about the fit, let me launch into the style. What lunatic decided that those ugly, clunky shoes from the roaring twenties should be the new fashion rage? Good grief they’re ugly. They were ugly back then, but you only saw them on very thin women in movies. These are definitely not attractive styles on the average American woman today.

Plus there are Ugs, aptly named because you look at them and say, “Ug! Those are ugly!” And little flat shoes that are darling but either fall off your heel or reveal too much toe cleavage. And the big giant heels they have now – 6 inches and rising. They offset the height with 3 inches of sole on the front, so women wearing them look like the bride of Frankenstein.

I wish everyone could wear house slippers around all day like me. With my matching robe, I think I make quite the fashion statement.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Odd Jobs

With this economy, people are out looking for work, and if there aren’t jobs in your area of expertise, you might want to consider some of these non-traditional jobs I found on Google.

Here’s one - a zoo artificial inseminator. Think about that one. No, go ahead, take your time – I’ll wait. Pretty crazy, huh? I’m just wondering how you train for such a position, and how do you apply? What would you list under “Experience?” “I have impregnated my wife four times, and I had extensive practice before I got married, though I haven’t done anything with animals so far.”

Here’s another job – a telephone psychic. What I’d like to know is what the interview would be like:

Interviewer: Let’s test your psychic ability. What is my next question going to be?

Psychic: You’re going to ask if I’ve ever been a phone psychic before?

Interviewer: No, I was going to ask if you’d be available to work on weekends.

Psychic: Oh.

Interviewer: I’m afraid you don’t have the skills needed for this job.

Psychic: Best two out of three?

Another job I found online was a jelly donut filler. Now that’s a job I could get into. But I’m having a hard time picturing it. Does the person stand on an assembly line, clutch a soft donut, insert a jelly gun, and squirt? I’m thinking that, with a little experience, the person who gets this job could probably move up to a zoo inseminator.

I like the sound of this one – a truffle hunter. Truffles are funguses (fungi) that the French hire people and their pigs to dig out of the dirt because someone decided they’re an exquisite delicacy. I wonder who cooked up the first one of these. “Hey, look, a giant fungus under the dirt! Let’s eat one!” This was no doubt a French person, because they live on the premise that you can make the most disgusting thing on earth tasty with the right seasonings. That’s how they got people to eat snails. If I had a trusty pig, I’d be a truffle hunter in a heartbeat.

I’m going to come full circle with my last job – working at a sperm bank. Say you meet someone at a party and they ask what you do. Do you tell them the truth? If someone told me they worked at a sperm bank, I wouldn’t want to shake their hand. Not that they use their hand for anything in particular that I know of, it’s just one of those things I’d be squeamish about. If I had that job I’d say I was a teller.

Other interesting jobs I came across were Magician’s Assistant, Fortune Cookie Writer, Snake Milker, Dog Food Tester, Golf Ball Diver, and Dice Inspector. I hope if you are unemployed, you’ll consider these off-the-beaten-path careers, if for no other reason, it will make you way more interesting at parties.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Smoke and Ash Wednesday

A lot of people know all about Mardi Gras – the big party that lasts about 300 days in New Orleans. But apparently some don’t know where the celebration came from, so I’ll try to explain.

Mardi Gras (pronounced gra – like bra) is the time before Lent. Lent is not what collects in the screen of your dryer, though there are some similarities which I don’t have time to get into right now.

No, this Lent is a religious observance in which Catholics and Episcopalians and probably some other Christians get together and have a church service and get black ashes smeared on their foreheads to remind them they need to wash their faces, especially behind the ears.

Actually, that’s only one reason, the other has to do with mortality and the fact that we all came from ashes and we will return to ashes. Plus ashes are a sign of repentance – we are visually saying we haven’t been the best we could be, and we’ll try to do better. In the meantime, giving up our candy, alcohol, and/or iPod for the next six weeks will help remind us to stay on track. Ask any Catholic what they gave up for Lent and they know exactly what you’re talking about.

I love almost everything about Lent. This sounds crazy, but I like having a heavenly hand slapping mine when I reach for the chocolates. That doesn’t really happen (usually), but the threat of it is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow, so I always lose weight during Lent. Saying no to something you crave and lust over for six weeks gives you a certain intestinal fortitude. Which makes me wonder, where does an intestine get fortitude? I’d certainly like to explore this, but I must press on, because there’s one thing about Ash Wednesday I’m not so sure about.

It’s the incense. Why do we have incense? I consulted Google who, unfortunately, wasn’t very clear on the subject. Basically we do it because it’s a pleasing aroma to God, it represents repentance, we’ve been doing it for at least the last 1200 years, probably longer, so why stop now, and/or it was the early worshippers’ form of deodorant. According to one site, the practice may have started among the Jews and early Christians because they lived in a very hot climate without showers and Right Guard. Perhaps the early priests saw them dropping like flies (also attracting them), and decided they’d better burn some incense if they wanted parishioners to stick around until the end of the service.

Yesterday at church someone put a big hefty dose of incense in a wooden pot and walked up the center aisle of the church very slowly. Brides go faster. It was quite solemn, except incense is made from aromatic wood which, when lit, puts off that thick, curly smoke that swirled around all the way up to the ceiling. There was so much incense burning that the poor guy holding the vessel was completely encased in smoke – a virtual abominable smokeman. As he walked, the smoke wafted even more into his face, and I expected him to start gagging any second. It’s probably why he walked so slow. By the time he got to the front, the entire church was filled with smoke. It looked like a seedy bar with statues. I leaned over and whispered to my daughter, “This is some crazy goin’s on.” She gave me the evil eye because it was so quiet everyone heard me, and she gets tired of me embarrassing her. As for me, I just knew the fire alarm was going to go off and the sprinklers would drench us all.

All in all it was a good service, and I came to fully appreciate the incense when a man squeezed in beside me. He might have just come in from the desert, if you catch my drift.

Interior Desperation

For years I’ve wanted color and pizzazz in my home, but my husband didn’t want to paint “until the kids are grown.” That was sensible, since they seem to splatter things on walls and leave fingerprints everywhere. Finally, my husband consented that it was time. Halleluia!

But what color? For help, I called my cousin, Nancy Adair, from Memphis. She’s an interior decorator whose work I’d admired for many years. I asked her if she’d come to Portland and help me choose colors and accessories for my home.

Nancy arrived six weeks later, and after exchanging a few memories and laughs, we started right to work. She faced the dining room wall of our great room, the wall I thought was my best decorating accomplishment in the whole house, and said, “Let’s start here. You need a large canvas instead of those little pictures, and something tall on the china cabinet because the ceiling is so high."

My husband agreed. “I never liked that wall.”

I was speechless. Nancy’s gaze turned toward him and took in the living room half of the great room. “I like the pictures behind the sofa, but you need a higher sofa, a red sofa, and an end table and lamp instead of that floor lamp.”

My heart was broken. The dining room was my favorite spot in the entire house. And sure, the sofa was faded and too low, but I’d sat there reading Bernstein Bears stories to my children, illuminated by my trusty floor lamp.

That night I barely slept, worrying that Nancy would change all the things I loved.

Morning brought a new day; however, and I was gung ho to get started. Nancy was right, by George, I did need a new red sofa with a textured fabric, preferably synthetic instead of cotton so it wouldn’t fade in the sunlight.

We went to the housewares section of Fred Meyer, a mid-range department/grocery store, because I wanted to show her a bookcase I’d seen. She gave me a doubtful “maybe” on the bookcase, and then started loading items into the shopping cart: a trio of vases that were the ugliest things I’d ever seen; wicker baskets and boxes. I’m not a wicker person.

“Wicker will help bring warmth to your house,” she smiled, “and give you some texture and variety.” My chest tightened and my breathing became shallow from the anxiety attack I was having. She piled a cheap nylon area rug on top of the other junk, and we headed to the checkout counter.

“Three hundred fifty dollars worth of trash,” I moaned to myself as I handed over my credit card.

When Nancy placed the purchases around my home, I didn’t like any of them. She tried to console me. “You have to think about the whole picture,” she said. “Clients have a hard time because they only look at one piece, but decorators are thinking about the whole room – paint color, textures, the play of light. You just have to trust me.”

The next day I took her downtown to the Pearl district, home of more contemporary furnishings and accessories­ - my style, but mostly out of my price range. Nancy began picking out single items that I absolutely loved but cost more than the whole cartload did the day before. I felt another anxiety attack.

“It’s important to have a few things you truly love,” she said. “These are investments.” She nodded toward a $750 lamp that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. “Put these things in perspective. Think about how much you spend at an expensive restaurant for dinner and drinks.” We bought some hand blown glass vases and a torchier lamp. I dreaded seeing my credit card statement.

We took a couple of days break to go to the beach so Nancy could enjoy the September sunshine. Both my nerves and my checkbook welcomed the interlude.

Back home, relaxed and refreshed, I was ready to tackle paint. Our kitchen, living room, dining room, and family room are all open to each other, and in those areas alone, Nancy picked out six different colors -eggplant, sage, lilac, red, gold, and white. I-yi-yi-yi-yi. Every wall had a different color. We painted swatches on the walls in semi-gloss paint. “These rich, dark colors need semi-gloss to reflect the light,” she said. “Trust me.”

My husband was against the paint color, against different colors on different walls, and especially against semi-gloss. “Eggshell white’s the only thing we need,” he grumbled. We compromised on satin paint.

Nancy’s last day was spent frantically trying to tie up loose ends. She painted (did I mention she’s also an artist?) a 3’x 4’ abstract seascape for the dining room wall. I have to admit, the large canvas does look a lot better than the wimpy little group of pictures I had there.

She put sticky notes on the walls so I’d remember what color went where. She made my bedroom look bigger by catty-cornering the bed, re-hung pictures and moved furniture to dramatize space. Finally, she switched some of my accessories around, using them to enlarge small spaces or create focal points. I began to see the whole picture, and I liked it, especially the things we’d bought at Fred Meyer. The nylon area rug was perfect with the pictures she’d moved to my entry way, and the wicker did create warmth. The ugly vases, grouped with other things, were stunning.

After Nancy left, the painters came, and you know what? I now have a warm, inviting home that makes me smile. We’ve received so many compliments, and my husband’s happy with the satin paint.

I called Nancy and told her how much I love my colorful, accessorized home.

“Well, you know, I told you all along to trust me,” she said serenely.

And all I could say was, “When can you come back and help me with the bonus room?”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Too Many Cooks in Ze Kitchen

My husband and I can’t be in the kitchen cooking at the same time. Our styles are totally different. He’s a cooking show watching, recipe experimenting, gourmet chef kind of guy, and I’m an open a can, bring it to a boil, and avoid burning it sort of gal.

My husband’s a cooking snob, plain and simple. He’s never said this out loud, but it’s easy to see that he’d prefer not to share his sacred kitchen with some short order cook who sees food primarily as a means to silence my children’s cries of “hungwee!” This may sound crazy, but I’m convinced he tries to keep me out of the kitchen by sabotage.

Here’s a recent example. Last week I told him I’d cook dinner, and that I was having cod filets, corn on the cob, sliced tomatos, and salad from a bag. Simple, wholesome, and tasty. He sneaked home at lunchtime and prepared a marinade for the cod filets. I found them swimming in olive oil and spices. The tomatoes were bathing in balsamic vinegar, and the de-cobbed corn was tossed with other vegetables to a make a chutney. To use one of his fancy cooking terms, I was fricaseed. I’d been soooo looking forward to the taste of fresh corn on the cob, lightly salted and dredged in butter.

Another thing he does is hide my utensils. I’m looking for the slotted spoon to stir my green beans, the one I’d been using only moments before, but it’s gone. “I don’t know what you did with it,” he says innocently. A few minutes later it’ll be right back by the green bean pot. I’m sure a detective would find his fingerprints all over it.

Since my husband loves combining millions of ingredients to form one new taste, he is always in front of the sink washing and chopping something. If I need to use the sink, I have to wait, because I guess it interferes with his artistry or something. I can almost hear his thoughts, “Should a Michealangelo have to step aside for a mere house painter? Or Frank Lloyd Wright have to wait for someone who merely builds castles in the sand? Certainly not!”

We’ve worked on this cooking situation over the years, and have come up with solutions like him cooking on weekends and me cooking during the week, but even this he sabotages. He knows I grew up being taught never to waste food, so he cooks enough on Sunday to generate leftovers through Thursday, and Friday night we always go out for pizza!

Then we tried having him do the entree’ and I’d do the side dishes, but entrees weren’t enough to challenge his creative genius; he’d wait until my back was turned and then “help” me. For instance, I once experimented with a gourmet salad. It called for purple cabbage finely chopped, with pears and walnuts, and a homemade dressing, garnished with tender strips of grated carrots. While I was mixing the dressing, my husband took one of his culinary gadgets and sliced my carrots into three inch long twigs, tossed everything else together and said, “Don’t you

like how your salad turned out?” It was totally not what I wanted to do with that salad. And he wonders why I get so stirred up.

Last night I was cooking rice and he sneaked in, looked at the gas flame under the pot, and must have said to himself, probably in some cheesy French chef’s accent he saw on a cooking show, “Ah, zee flame eez vay too hot for zee rlice, so I weel turn it not so hot.” I came back a few minutes later, knowing I’d timed that rice to cook to perfection, but when I lifted the lid to fluff it, I found the tiny grains staring up at me through a half inch of murky water. Puzzled, I looked under the pot. It took a magnifying glass to find the teensy little blue flickers. My husband breezed in, smiling, and said, “You had that up way too high, so I turned it down for you.” The rice didn’t boil, but I sure did. It’s sabotage, I tell you.

The only satisfaction I get out of cooking these days is when my children look at the gourmet fare their father has lovingly prepared for them and say, “Oh no, not again. Mom, would you please cook next time?” I just grin and chuckle to myself, “Wee, wee, my leetle buttercups, zee mom-ma will cook up somezing very magnifeek for zee leetle children tomorrow. Perhaps zee Spaghettio’s and zee meat-balls, no?”

Livid and Let Live

This is an article I wrote a few years ago, and I must say it's better than some of the ones I've been doing for this blog. I know I spent about 4 times more time on this, and it shows.

I’ve just had a startling revelation. I’ve discovered that my children must surely want me to yell at them. Why else would they litter their rooms with wet towels and dirty clothes, or continually bicker like WWF wrestlers? They must want to bring out the drill sergeant in me.

Picture the scene this morning. While my teenage son was making faces at his little sister, and as she fiercely retaliated by calling him deplorable names like, “you cuckoo dung bird,” I calmly asked them to please stop, which they did. However, the second I turned my back to refill my coffee mug, my daughter whined, “Mo-om (a two-syllable word), he’s making faces at me.” I’ve been keeping track, and this is the ninety-zillionth time I’ve asked my son not to pick on his sister. Before I could think of anything better to do, I screeched, “How many times do I have to tell you to leave your sister alone?” Bedlam ensued, apologies flew and peace was finally restored. For the moment.

Later I strolled down the hallway toward my bedroom. You’d think by now I’d have better sense than to glance into my daughter’s room. It’s always a mess even when it’s clean. She hoards everything, from favorite rocks (I only know of two she’s come across that weren’t special), to candy wrappers that remind her of Disneyland, to pictures yanked out of magazines and Scotch-taped randomly to the walls like paintball splatters.

But this morning. O, mercy. This morning my daughter’s room looked like thieves had ransacked it. Every drawer was open, with pants, underwear, pajamas, and tank tops trying to escape over the sides. Mismatched shoes lay like stepping stones through the rubble. I counted slowly to ten and then calmly called, “How many times do I have to tell you to put your things away?”

I’m a peaceful person. I was a hippie back when tie-dye was an art form rather than a fashion statement. And I’ve read all the books like, “How to Talk to Your Children So They Don’t Cower.” I know what I’m supposed to do, but it’s just so hard when the two of them keep repeating the same behavior that turns me from a “live and let live” kind of gal into a livid and let rip mood.

Every Sunday I go to church and pray that God will help me see the best and overlook the rest. Unfortunately, in the same prayer I usually have to ask forgiveness for bellowing such things as: “How many times have I told you not to wear your church shoes in the mud?” or “If you’d hang your coat up where it’s supposed to go, you’d be able to find it!”

I love these children dearly, but let’s face it. They do things they know they’re not supposed to do - when I’m having a pleasant dinner with my family, and my knee gets stuck to the underside of the kitchen table with Silly Putty, or when I’m scraping melted chocolate chips off the sofa cushion (“How many times have I told you not to take cookies out of the kitchen?”) – do they not realize these are yellable offenses? Don’t they have any respect for me? They say they love me, but can it really be true when there’s purple toothpaste spit all over their bathroom sink?

One of my parenting books said that when they’ve left the nest, and their rooms are perpetually clean, I’ll yearn for just one little mole hill of dirty clothes to remind me of the way things were. The books aren’t right about everything. I definitely won’t pine for the endless “Mo-om!’s” when they tattle on each other.

I sometimes worry what my children will say about me when they get together as adults. Will they laugh or cringe? I think I know what they’ll say: “Remember how the windows used to rattle when mom hollered at us?”

“Yeah, that was so FUNNY!”

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Most Romantic Experience

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d disclose my most romantic experience. This happened with a guy I was getting ready to break up with. He was a lawyer, a bright, fun loving guy on rare occasions, but mostly what he enjoyed doing most while we were together was filling me in on every mundane detail of his legal day. He talked about writing briefs and his boss and numerous phone calls he’d gotten through the day. I concluded that a dog groomer has a more exciting job than his.

He was also living in a place that literally had a path running through the mess to get from room to room. Dishes covered every surface in the kitchen. Note pads, mail, books, and newspapers covered every other surface in the house, and clothes and paraphernalia covered the floors. I knew one other person who lived like this – in her hippie parents’ house. She was embarrassed to have anyone over, but not this guy. He didn’t see anything wrong with his housekeeping.

There were a couple of other reasons I was ready to end our three-month courtship, although I liked his personality when he wasn’t busy reciting lawyerly dribble. Perhaps he picked up on my vibe, because I loved to hike, so he suggested we start at McLeay Park and walk to the Pittock mansion.

It was a sunny, warm summer day, and I was thrilled at the prospect. When we got to Pittock Mansion, we could see the whole city and several mountain peaks in the distance. I had that feeling of happiness that makes every hair follicle, every pore, every sensation crisp and vibrant so that I just wanted to dash around like Julie Andrews on the mountaintop in, “The Sound of Music.”

We walked around, bathing in the sun’s rays and delighting in life. Then he sat down on a bench, and I sat beside him, looking at the view. He reached into his shirt and pulled out a small, leather-bound book. He opened it deliberately and started reading out loud to me - in German. The sounds had a rhythmic cadence that was lyrical and soft, like a verbal caress.

“What are you reading?” I asked.

“German poetry,” he said. He looked down and read some more, and I listened more intently than I would have anything in English. Not knowing the meaning, I had to focus on his voice, his lips moving, the slight variances in his tone as he came to the end of lines, the miniscule rise in energy which meant something in the words was more lively. I was sucked into a vacuum of lazy sun’s warmth, musical words, and his lips moving softly.

After a period of time that could have been seconds or hours, he stopped reading, closed the book slowly, and tucked it back into his shirt. I had little hearts floating out of my chest, and twinkles in my eyes. I felt I had been caressed by words, and that I was the most special woman in the world.

That romantic experience carried me through an extra few days, but alas, reality bitch-slapped me and I knew this relationship was doomed to destruct, despite the poetic dalliance.

I have been wined and dined, I’ve gotten long stem red roses in a box delivered with a large red ribbon, I’ve had a few other tokens of romance that I’ve enjoyed, but none of them held a candle to listening to words I didn’t comprehend on a warm Sunday afternoon. Knowing that he stowed the book secretly with the intention of reading to me made it even more special.

It’s too bad that romance alone isn’t enough to make a good partner, because if that were enough, we’d still be together, and I’d be bored witless and continually digging out of his quagmire of daily debris. Ah, but the memory lingers like dark chocolate covering a creamy caramel center that flows when bitten in half.

Happy Valentines Day!

Mardi Grab

We went to a Mardi Gras party tonight. My husband prepared by going to the party store and buying a bunch of beads and masks and noisemakers. We took them to the party to find that our host had mountains of beads, masks and noisemakers scattered everywhere.

My husband says that the guys are supposed to wear lots of beads, and if the girls ask for a string, the guy gives her one but then she has to lift up her shirt. “It’s a tradition,” he said.

“The women at this party won’t have to lift their shirts very high,” I said.

I’m sure he didn’t care, because men seem to love the sight of a women’s private areas no matter how awful they are. Me, I’ve been in locker rooms with all ages, and I’d rather keep my eyes aimed at the floor. The imagination can’t even conceive what time and food will do to a woman’s body.

My husband likes to cook, so he wanted to make something even though we’d been requested not to bring anything. He was going to make crawdads but couldn’t find any, thank goodness. They give me the creeps and I won’t eat them. I’ve swam with them before and they shoot through the water backwards. To me, this is unappetizing.

He brought fixins for mint juleps instead, which I didn’t think was a Mardi Gras drink but Google said it was. Mint juleps seem like a Kentucky thing. We had quite a lot of fun at the party, but he didn’t get any flashers.

Then we went to a nightclub because one of our friends was playing horns in the band. They were great – they had a lead singer that had such a clear, powerful voice that glasses where shattering all around. I’m making that up, but it would have been fun to watch. My husband thought all the members of the band needed beads, even the ones playing guitar using both hands. The band was right on the dance floor on a foot high platform, and he stood in front of each band member, and there were eight of them, with the beads held out until they stopped playing and took them.

Then a bunch of girls wanted some beads, and he became the darling of the dance floor, handing out beads and explaining the tradition while I rolled my eyes. He’s decided he’ll carry beads around with him all the time since they are a babe magnet. I should be jealous, I guess, but I know him – he just wants to be silly and the life of the party. Who would have though a few strings of beads could attract new friends from all directions?

I, on the other hand, seemed to be attracting male attention like a Hummer driving up your street. I forgot to mention at the first soirĂ©e an older man offered to give me a neck message. I said, “Cool,” because my neck has been achy lately. He came over to where I was sitting and started rubbing my neck, except he’s just letting his hands kind of glide over the surface. He says, “I’m letting my energy pass to you to help loosen your muscles.” I don’t know if it was doing that much good, but it was pleasant enough. Then he started moving down my neck to my back, and around my shoulders. My husband was talking to the host but glancing over from time to time. I was talking to the guy’s wife, who assured me he does these massages everywhere he goes. As his hands wandered down my arms, I got the suspicion that those hands were going to start seeking out areas that didn’t need to be explored by a strange man. My husband walked by me about that time and leaned down to whisper, “It didn’t take you long to attract the party perv.”

All in all it was an evening of adventures, and I feel I’m ready now for the long forty days of Lent, which is what Mardi Gras is supposed to be about – doing everything you’re not supposed to do and then spending a couple of months repenting. My husband didn’t get any girls to raise their shirts, but he had fun trying. I got a pleasant massage from a geezer who, after he was done with me, set out to lavish his energetic hands on other fresh meat at the party. I don’t know if you could call any of this being naughty, but it was fun pretending.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dashing Off to the Olympics on TV

I am enjoying watching the pageantry of the Olympics opening ceremony so this is going to be swift and sweet.

I love the creativity of the show – I love that it’s so unique. I also love the players are real looking people and not the most beautiful, the most polished, the most picture perfect. Canada has done an excellent job and I’m so proud to be her closest neighbor.

I cried when Georgia’s contingent walked into the arena.

I found some skiing terms submitted by Brian Lundberg I copied off the internet in 2003 that I’m going to use for my blog in the interest of time. The torch is coming in 7 minutes!

Alp: One of a number of ski mountains in Europe. Also a shouted request for assistance made by a European.

Bones: There are 206 in the human body. No need for dismay, however, the two bones of the middle ear have never been broken while skiing.

Gloves: Designed to be tight around the wrist to restrict circulation, but no so close fitting as to allow any manual dexterity; they should also admit moisture from the outside without permitting any dampness within to escape.

Nuts: Male area, prone to painful damage when skiing over small trees.

SKI: A shout to alert people ahead that a loose ski is coming down the hill. Another warning skiers should be familiar with is “Avalanche!” (which tells everyone that a hill is coming down the hill).

Skier: One who pays an arm and a leg for the opportunity to break them.

Thor: The Scandinavian god of acheth and painth.

I’ll close with this last pun, which has nothing to do with athletes or the Olympics, but I neglected to add last night:

In theory, housebreaking your dog is a good idea, but I warn you, it won’t look good on paper.

The torch is coming!!!!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fun with Puns

I started a comedy workbook a few years ago and thought I’d lost my homework when my PC crashed, but I just came across a few of the exercises (because I only did a few) that I printed out. Yippee!

This one was called, “Fun with Puns,” and came from Gene Perret’s Comedy Workbook. I’m going to give you a few of them because it’s better than some of the stuff I write late at night, but there are some groaners in there – I like to put the bad ones in to make the good ones look better.

What do Eskimos get from sitting on ice too long? Polaroids.

What happened to the survivors when a red ship collided with a blue ship? They were marooned.

If you are American when you go into a toilet and you are American when you come out of the toilet, what are you while you’re in the toilet? European, of course.

Wait a minute – this is me talking and I’m not sure I wrote these. They’re actually pretty good, which makes me think I just copied them from the book. However, I’m not going to look because that would mean I’d have to get up AND maybe have to start from scratch. It’s late and I’m tired, so I’m going to forge ahead, no offense to Mr. Perret. If these are mine, you’re a darned good teacher, or I’m so exhausted everything seems funny. I did go skiing yesterday after all, and every muscle in my body aches, including a new one on the back of my knees I didn’t know was there.

The human cannonball decided to quit the circus. The owner was furious. “You can’t quit!” he raged. “Where will I find another man of your caliber?”

Old college deans never die, they just lose their faculties.

Old accountants never die, they just lose their balance.

Old policemen never die, they cop out.

Old tanners never die, they just go into hiding.

Me again. I really don’t think these are mine. Tanners? Where would I come up with that? But I do vaguely recall writing some funny stuff, so it’s possible. I once took a photograph of a snowboarder flying through the air – beautiful shot – and a newspaper wanted it. People on the snowboard team were always forwarding pictures to me to put up on the team’s website, so I was surrounded with photos all the time. I asked everyone if they took that picture, and finally the snowboarder in the picture told me it was me. That was my first published photograph! So maybe these are mine…

Here’s a couple more:

I tried to get my bicycle to stand up, but it was too tired.

When a clock is hungry, can it go back four seconds?

Did you hear about the raisin who cheated on his wife? It was in the newspaper under the current affairs section.

What’s a drunk baseball player? A pitcher full of beer.

I wanted to learn how to make frozen desserts, so I went to Sunday School.

Okay, I’m giving away my best material, or I’m plagiarizing and risking getting sued. But boy this was sure fun. Maybe we’ll do it again tomorrow. I’ve got lots of material here.

Valentine's Day Shopping Tips

Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday. This is a head’s up to men who might want to know about the perfect gift.

The perfect gift is any gift at all. Don’t show up empty handed, even if you think the whole holiday is just the card and candy shops trying to make an extra buck. You can be assured, despite her protests, that your sweetheart will appreciate any effort you might put forth to show her she’s dear to you.

You can show her (or him) what a special person (s)he is by taking a second to think about what (s)he’d really like. This will actually take more than a second, because a second’s worth of thought is only going to motivate you to buy the standard gifts: flowers and/or chocolate.

This is what my husband always gets me, and I act nice about it but these are the wrong gifts. Flowers must be maintained. Yes, they look very pretty, but they need to have their water changed and ends cut off or they won’t last more than a couple of days. If you send them to her workplace she’ll get to have her friends ooooo and ahhhh over them, so that may be something she’d like. I work from home so it doesn’t do me much good. If she’s not a plant person, though, flowers may not be the best gift. Ditto for a live plant – which is a curse on any occasion. If you aren’t a plant person, you’re going to kill it. If you are, you’re going to have to water it and nurture it for years to come, and worse still; you’ll have to find a place for it. If you and I become friends, do not give me a live plant. I’ll take cut flowers any day, but I’d rather have something that will last, like diamonds.

Chocolates can be a nice gift, except for me. I’m Catholic and usually give up sweets for Lent. Lent happens a week or two after Valentines Day, so in any given year I’m either gorging myself on a giant box of chocolates to dispose of them, or letting them sit until after Lent. They call my name the entire time, even in my sleep. This is cruel. If you’re on a diet you’re not going to want the temptation, either. Think about this before you buy.

Nice gifts, in my book, are things that I can wear or physically enjoy. That’s why jewelry is cool – but don’t get me the expensive stuff, because I don’t wear it. If your sweetie does, then that’s a good choice. If she’s like me, go look in her closet and see what color clothes she has the most of – if it’s black, get her some nicely crafted black earrings at a little boutique. Look in her jewelry box and see if she likes big hanging earrings or small posts. I don’t know why this is so hard for guys. I never wear posts but I seem to always get them for a gift from my husband. If I say anything, his feelings get hurt. It’s a no-win situation unless you do a little snooping around. Notice if she wears big necklaces or small, dainty ones. Gold or silver? Beads or jewels? This is not rocket science.

If you’re buying for a guy, give him golf balls or a ticket to a basketball game – but only if HE likes these sports – not if you’re trying to get him interested in a sport you like. I get ticked when my husband gives me a gift that’s got HIS best interests at heart, not mine.

If your darling likes bubble bath, go that route. If she disdains scents, or only uses a certain line of products, then get her something she can use.

Take a few minutes, do your research, be thoughtful, and you’ll be rewarded on Valentines Day with less nagging. You may even get your heart’s desire, and if you’re a guy, I know exactly what that means to you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Even the Dogs Are Falling Apart

My friend, Laurie, and I walked our dogs together this morning. Her dog, Pepper, is a 14-year-old standard poodle who’s getting down in his back. Actually he’s pretty spry for his age, and I've wondered if some of his “medical” complaints are due to Laurie being overprotective. She says he’s deaf, but he seems to selectively hear just fine. “Pepper, let’s go,” gets ignored. “Pepper, do you want a treat?” gets an immediate response. She would say I'm not be honest here, and I'd be the first to admit it.

Here was our conversation: “Oh my legs are so stiff,” I said. Laurie tried to one up me. “Yeah, I’ve got a stomach ache and no feeling in my finger where I whacked the tip of it off slicing apples.” Used to be we’d one-up our escapades – how many lemon drops we drank or tables we danced on. Now it’s how many trips to the doctor or bowel movements. I’m just kidding about this last one, but it sounded funny. Also kidding about what Laurie said because, honestly, I can't remember from one minute to the next.

Just as I said, “We’re falling apart,” Laurie tugged on Pepper’s leash and he tipped over. Tipped right over like the idiot Burger King commercials that show a couple of guys in a pasture tipping over the Burger King guy. I refuse to eat there because of their recent ad campaign, which is a shame because I used to love their breakfasts. I guess with their newer ads they’re going for a demographic that doesn’t include people who aren’t stupid.

Whoever heard of cow tipping anyway? It seems mean. Cows are so sweet-looking with those big brown eyes. Did you see the Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl? I know, they had about 30, but this was the one with the little Clysdale playing with the little calf.

That calf was so cute looking through the fence, and all I could think of was, “Your horsey friend is going to be in a green pasture or a stall with two feet of fresh hay while you’re crammed in a semi-truck on your way to being a burger at Burger King.” I did not say this out loud because I didn’t want people throwing M & M’s at me since I was the only vegetarian in the crowd.

When they showed the calf all grown up, it was a Texas longhorn, which according to Savieur Magazine is mighty good eating. I don’t know if you could tip a longhorn, but why would you want to? Grown cows still have those big brown eyes, and they’d let you walk right up to them because they are naturally sweet, and a couple of sissy girls could tip one so why is this considered manly?

So Pepper falls right over on his side, and Laurie rushes to his aid. The poor guy can’t get his back feet under him because I guess he does have hip problems after all. She had to un-tip him, which involved trying to shove him up off his side and then lift up his hindquarters which, I’m sure if we walk tomorrow, will be the basis of a new back injury.

It was rather sad for a little bit, but the dog, either embarrassed or tired of hearing, “Are you okay, Pepper, are you okay?” took off running and jogged practically the whole walk. We had to step up our speed a notch, which was hard on our aching bones and joints, but since it was 36 degrees out, I wasn’t too sad about getting done sooner.

Oh, I just realized we won’t walk tomorrow because I’m planning on skiing. With any luck Laurie’s back will heal by Thursday.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kids Say the Darnedest Things

My friend works for Headstart, and she was sitting at the lunch table with several four year olds when two of them got into an argument about whether the fruit one brought for lunch was a lime or a kiwi. The boy who brought it said it was a kiwi, but the other boy, who tended to get into trouble, was emphatic that it was a lime. My friend listened to them going back and forth until the argument started getting a little heated. She thought it had run it’s course, and look at the child who said it was a lime and said, “Demond, I’m going to put your mind straight right now on this – it’s a kiwi.”

Without missing a beat, Demond looked her straight in the eye and, in a slow, surly voice, said, “Shut up, bitch.”

My friend was taken aback at first, and then could barely contain herself from laughing. Meantime, the kids jumped to her defense. “Don’t call our teacher a bitch. She’s nice. She’s always smiling. You shouldn’t call her a bitch.” Another said, “Yeah, she’s not a bitch, she’s nice to us.” One protested on principle, “Demond said a cuss word. He called the teacher a bitch, and bitch is a cuss word. You can’t say bitch at school, Demond.

Several others chimed in until it got loud enough that the head teacher came over to see what was the commotion. My friend whispered it in her ear, and she could barely contain her laughter. She had to maintain her composure and explain to Demond why this was not appropriate language for 4 year olds at school.

Out of the mouths of babes…When I was a kid, there was a variety show called Art Linkletter Presents, and on one segment that lasted about ten minutes, he’d have five or six kids about Demond’s age sitting in chairs on the stage with their starched dresses and pressed slacks, and he’d ask them a question most of them probably didn’t understand, and they’d say funny little cute things that made the audience laugh and Mr. Linkletter smile like his pants were being charmed off because everyone was enjoying these little darlings on his show. I bet the director didn’t have to coach the kids on language, because nice boys and girls didn’t hear those things in their homes, on TV, or in the movies.

Fast forward to today and you can’t go anywhere without hearing cussing right out loud – in the check stand at the grocery store, on the baseball field, even at church. My priest has said “damn” a couple of times during his sermons to make a point.

Kids will repeat what they hear, and I remember my two year old son walking through the mall saying, “Damn, damn, damn,” because he’d heard it somewhere (not from me!) and I’d read it was okay to let kids say these words because it helped with their creativity or something. An older lady gave me the evil eye big time, and I told him to stop saying it. He did, because he liked me back then – before he turned 15 and decided that zombies must have slurped up my brain because I became the stupidest human on earth.

After that I didn’t let my kids cuss. For better or worse, I never got called about language, which was a good thing because I got called on enough other stuff over the years, kids being kids. I never had to un-train them, like Demond’s mom is going to have to do or else get in fights with teachers all through school. But quite honestly, I’m glad he said this to my friend because I laughed when I heard it, I laugh every time I tell it, and I was laughing as I typed it just now. As Art Linkletter used to tell us, “Kids say the darnedest things.” I’m mighty happy they do.

Addendum: I ran spell and grammar check and my computer thinks I should change, “Shut up, bitch,” to “Shut up and bitch.” What makes my computer think that’s a more grammatical way to say this? Who programmed this phrase as good English? It’s actually a contradiction – you can’t shut up AND bitch. I think I’ll complain to Microsoft. “Dear Bill Gates: Why are you telling me to shut up AND bitch? You’re married. You know this is not possible. What’s the matter with you?” I could have some fun with this.

Or I could go to bed.

Super Bowl Relief

Super Bowl Sunday – the day we gather with friends or food or both and enjoy a game of watching grown men run around the field holding a ball and being chased by other very large men who want to stop their progress, and if they’re lucky, drag him to the ground and create a human pile on top of him that weighs in excess of 4,000 pounds. And after they slowly climb back off, everyone lines back up and does it all over again.

As much as I enjoy football, I have to wonder what kind of crazy person plays this game? We see one man go down who doesn’t get back up. Another limps off the field, supported by men on either side. We watch in slow motion as men get hit from behind, their heads snapping back unnaturally, hitting the ground on their shoulder, flipping over and over before other giant men dive on top of them.

Everyone knows they play for the money, and the money is huge. But these guys didn’t start out playing in the Super Bowl. They started in grade school or high school, where there wasn’t any cash to motivate them. The players weren’t as big, but it was all relative; they were still getting knocked down, still getting piled on, and still getting back up to play some more.

Men will make fun of women when we go shopping all day in high heel shoes, or wrap our hips in suffocating elastic to appear slimmer, or wear curlers to make our hair pretty. But women have enough sense not to play football.

Today’s game was great, closely played, and with a good outcome. Some of the commercials were funny. My team won, and the food was ample and tasty. People stayed to help clean up, which was a real treat. I know they’re celebrating in New Orleans, and the Saints have become that much richer and probably are very thankful for the opportunity to play on the winning Super Bowl team.

Their headaches, twisted ankles, stubbed fingers, and aching elbows are probably distant memories as these players celebrate. And I have my own little celebration, because my son found other athletic entertainments growing up besides football. I know I would be proud of him if he were part of a winning Super Bowl team, but I would not enjoy the day knowing what might happen. So here’s to Super Bowls, and my selfish hope that I never have any of my relatives playing in one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Hula-Hoop Hoopla

I went to a hula-hoop class today, dressed in jeans and a sweater because I had no idea what would happen in this two-hour class I was subbing in for my girlfriend. I assumed the class would involve learning how to make a ring stay on your waist while you sway back and forth. I did not know that a hula-hoop is actually exercise equipment.

I arrived a few minutes late and was chagrinned to find that people were holding the hoop over their heads and leaning side to side, with lively music playing in the background. I grabbed a hoop and joined in as we bent over and put it on the floor, then picked it back up and raised up. Oh boy! I felt duped. This was an exercise class using a hoop like dumbbells – which is what I felt like.

I wondered if I could just sneak right back out the door, but thought it would be rude, so I decided to give it a few minutes. Soon we were holding the hoop by our sides and using it to balance us as we did ballet moves. Yawn. I checked my watch. 3 minutes had passed. I would give it fifteen, tops.

Then our teacher, a tall, thin wisp of a thing with a waist my hands could have wrapped around with room to spare, turned the music off and said, “Now that we’re all warmed up, are you ready to hula?”

She put the hula around her waist and it started going in circles. She didn’t seem to be moving at all and yet it was maintaining a nice steady orbit as she walked around talking to us about the best technique.

“First thing you all need to know is that we’re going to be hearing a whole lot of this.” She let the hoop drop to the gym floor with a loud enough bang to cause me to jump. “When I hear that sound I can’t help but let our a little cheer, like this.” Then she gave us a sample, a high-pitched, “Who-oop!” that was cheerful but a little unnerving. I checked my watch again.

“Now all of you try it.” All twenty of us did, and so many hoops crashed to the floor it sounded like someone banging pots and pans and yelling, “Who-oop!” while they were doing it. My hoop wouldn’t go around more than 1 and a half times before it crashed to the floor.

There were mirrors on the waist, and I avoided looking at them. But when I did, I saw my hips looking like they were having spasms. Even though the instructions were to just shift our weight and do the motion in our legs, not in our hips, my hips wouldn’t obey. They insisted on swiveling in all directions like giant magnets were pulling them from different corners of the room. But after a bit, by golly, I had that hoop going for seconds at a time!

Hula hooping is good exercise, but I hadn’t anticipated that when I wore the sweater. It lived up to its name – I was definitely sweating. My whole head was getting wet, and pushing up my bulky sleeves didn’t help.

Once we got the hang of keeping the hula around our waists, she had us add movements like swinging the hoop around with our hands and stepping through it. People kept letting them go, and they’d roll across the floor, bumping into other people before crashing with a bang. “Who-oop!” Hula-hoops can roll forever. I wished I’d brought earplugs.

All of a sudden the teacher turned the music back on and ordered us to stretch the hoop over our heads. I glanced again at my watch and discovered that the two-hour class was over. What fun I’d had!

In my blog yesterday I was tongue-in-cheek criticizing people who become skilled in such things as yo-yos and hula-hoops, but after today I’m eating those words. Our teacher was in great shape, she was very graceful and entertaining to watch, and she could do just about anything with a hula-hoop. Trying to imitate her and looking like a wooden puppet made me realize that anything a person can master is a sight to behold and worthy of our admiration and respect. Which does not mean that I’m going to start practicing all the time. I had fun but I’m not so sure I’m that into it. But I’m going to try not to make fun of people anymore, and that’s going to take a whole lot of practice.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Am I a Yo-Yo for Hula Hooping?

My friend signed up for a hula-hoop class that she can’t go to and she doesn’t want to let this incredible opportunity slip by so she’s talked me into going to the class as her proxy. I’m to learn the proper technique and teach it to her.

She called me twice to beg me to do this. Once was early this morning because undoubtedly I was her first choice since I have a hard time saying no. I did say no, though. But I left the door open a crack by agreeing to allow her to call me back if she’d talked to all her other friends and they had the good sense to pass. She just called back and said no one else would go (fancy that) and would I please?

Let me ask you this. Why would it take 2 hours to learn how to hula-hoop? Granted, I haven’t been able to do it since I was a kid, and I don’t know if 2 hours is long enough for me to learn, but what if people in the class pick it up really quickly. What are they going to do all that time?

I agreed to go because she was so earnest in her groveling, and it seemed to mean so much to her, and Lord knows I could use the exercise. In fact, I’m thinking that my body shape may lend itself to hula hooping. If I can keep the thing riding on top of my spare tire I may re-master this valuable skill that used to engage me and my friends for a week or two in our 4th grade youth.

Hula hooping isn’t really a skill that, once you’ve mastered it, you engage in that often. It’s fun for a while, but then what do you do with it? Just stand there rocking your hips around? For what? I bet there are people who can do all kinds of tricks and entertain themselves and others with their expertise. I never wanted to learn anything that thoroughly. At the basketball game last night they had some guys doing tricks with bicycles that you can’t believe. They were riding backwards on the handlebars, riding up ramps and doing flips over the bikes in the air. Me, I just rode a bike with my feet on the pedals. These guys must practice for hours and hours.

Same thing with yo-yo’s. If I could get one to go up and down I figured I was a successful yo-yoer. But then someone comes along who can walk the baby and do a loop-de-loop and shoot an apple off someone’s head with one. I guess there is merit in learning such a skill. My yo-yos mostly ended up in knotted wads that I’d lost interest in long before I got them untangled.

Perhaps hula-hooping can be my claim to fame, my chance to be in the spotlight. Tomorrow I will show up at hula-hoop class and perhaps learn to jump through a hula-hoop like it was a lariat, or have someone toss it over my head and I’ll catch it on my waist and start gyrating it around, walking up and down the floor, shaking mariachis and balancing a plate on the tip of one foot. Now I’m getting excited!

Who knows what I might be able to learn in two whole hours. I wonder if that’s going to be enough time. I better make sure to arrive early!

Is It Too Loud in Here?

This evening I went to a Trailblazers basketball game and lost my hearing. Thank goodness it’s only temporary, but the ringing in my ears will last for days. I even use earplugs, but still the noise is amazing.

It’s no longer the roar of the crowd, it’s the roar of the sound system. They have it turned up so loud blaring out, “We will we will rock you,” with all the clapping and foot stomping that goes with it. And if the game gets close, lights flash all over the place with messages to, “MAKE MORE NOISE!” My gosh, the floor is shaking already, do the players really need us to turn it up a notch?

I’m not averse to noise. I’m a rock n’ roll kind of gal who likes to crank up the sound, but somehow the very loud concerts I’ve attended all my life have gotten louder. Doctors warn that kids are losing their hearing, but they’ve been saying that for years – even when I was a kid. But now the noise is so elevated I’m starting to believe them.

When the floor shakes in a huge building, I think it’s probably too loud in there.

Thank goodness we won the game at the last minute. I guess my desperate prayers begging, “Please Lord don’t let this game go into overtime,” were heard. I despise overtimes. They make the game last another twenty minutes and turn me into a nervous wreck. By the end of a regular game, I’m as exhausted as the players from all the noise, cheering, clapping, stomping, and searching for a concession stand that serves ice cream instead of yogurt. Not to mention climbing over seats to get in and out because there is barely enough room to keep you from hitting your knees on the seat in front of you when you’re sitting down, much else trying to walk in front of anyone else in your row. So I climb over the back of the seat because there’s no one in the row behind me, but I know I could fall and break a hip.

The one thing I really like about these basketball games is the mascot. His name is Blaze and he’s got a human body with a wolf’s head – I guess it’s a wolf, or some kind of giant animal. Anyway, he’s a pretty cool guy who can do flips on the trampoline and make baskets during commercial breaks, and he can dance. He struts around getting into mischief, coaxing people out on the court to dance with him and pose for pictures.

I also like the cheerleaders because they do flips and build very tall pyramids with guys holding them up by one hand. Every now and then a guy will get tired and drop one of the cheerleaders, which is entertaining. They all look wholesome, too, unlike the Blazer Dancers who look like tramps. My husband says that’s what’s so great about them. They are very professional looking, though, and dance well. They could all be strippers, which I guess is a compliment.

We won by three points after being behind all evening, so it was a great game, and I’m happy I went even though now I keep reaching for the telephone, but no one is on the other end.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Give Us Some Medical Advice We Can Use

I read about a study in the paper today that seems to indicate something really amazing – the kind of thing you’d say to yourself, “Why, who would have thought?”

It seems the study, conducted by Harvard biologist Daniel Lieberman, concluded that people were born to run – barefoot! That’s right, folks. We were not built to run on elevated running shoes that have lights flashing in the soles and a pump up air mechanism. Sounds crazy, doesn’t it?

The study revealed that people wearing those cushy shoes strike the ground on their heels first. You don’t have any choice the way they’re designed. This gives everybody painful heels, a condition doctors call plantar fasciitis because they want to sound smarter than all the rest of us.

I have had painful heels myself and spent a lot of money, which I’m not going to divulge the exact amount in case my husband ever sees this blog - trust me, it was A LOT of money – to get insoles put in my shoes by a specialist in foot doctoring who said it would help my heels heal much faster. It did not. What cured me was a half hour visiting with Google who said I needed to stretch my Achilles tendon by standing with the balls of my feet on a step and letting the heels hang down. This cured me right up. What was interesting is that my foot doctor told me NOT to do that – he said I needed to keep coming back to him for exercises and examinations. Interesting…

I once had a co-worker who ran all the time, and he explained to me that I needed to change my running style and land on my heels first, which I went to great pains to do (and the pun was intended – I have to take them when I can get them). He said he got this information from his doctor, so I assumed he knew what he was talking about. I know now that it probably explains why I kept getting heel pain.

I’m coming to a point, if you’ll bear with me, just as soon as I can think of one. In the meantime, I have to wonder why so many people have an aversion to common sense? It seems like it would cure most ills if we humans would just quit listening to learned specialists. I remember when the food pyramid came out and they wanted everyone to eat lots of grains and pastas – it was at the bottom, so the biggest chunk of your diet was supposed to come from breads and cereals and Italian food. I looked at that and thought, “Every time I eat this stuff I put on 10 pounds, and now I’m supposed to go out of my way to eat it?” I’m convinced that America became obese because of this pyramid, and I think we should file a class action suit because of our pain and suffering. If someone wants to spearhead that, count me in.

Over the years the know-it-alls have told us all kinds of things that have not been good advice. I can’t think of anything else right now, but I’m sure you can. Well, I am thinking of something, though it’s not so recent. They used to bleed people for illnesses – cut right into a vein or artery and let the blood squirt up and arc into a bucket – I saw a picture in a book one time. Ghastly. That was supposed to cure you of everything from pneumonia so a sore pinky finger. The doctors of our first President, George Washington, bled him literally to death, or so my history teacher told me and it’s such a good story I don’t want to risk looking it up in case it’s not true. These days we’ve figured out that losing blood can actually kill you, and we busy ourselves putting blood back into people who have lost it. I don’t know how they missed that back in George Washington’s day. Maybe they were too preoccupied because they were also diving into ponds and catching leeches for medicinal purposes as a supplement to slowly bleeding people to death. Can you imagine walking around town with about 10 leeches stuck to your face and neck? I get embarrassed if I have a band-aid showing. And what was that conversation like at the doctor’s office? “Well, son, I see you have an infected cut on the shin, so we’re going to surround it with these leeches here, and you need to wear them 24/7 for the next two weeks, or until you die. I’m just joking, of course, because we all know this is proven science that will cure just about anything that ails you. Now, let’s see that leg.”

All in all, as I read about medical “discoveries” they’ve spent years researching on millions of mice and men, and how they reach such obvious conclusions like we should breastfeed our babies or run barefoot, I scratch my head and think, this is what centuries of humans did before modern times and the species survived just fine. But who am I to judge? I sit up until all hours writing blogs and staring at bright computer screens, driving myself slowly blind, and where’s the common sense in that?

I will end on this piece of interesting advice from a write-in column about home remedies. Aloe vera will cure warts. Honest to goodness. Take the leaf of an aloe vera plant; slice it open and put the plant juices on your wart and sometime or other it will go away. Now this is the kind of information we can all use – and, wouldn’t you know it, it didn’t come from a scientist.

You Can't Trust Anyone

I’ve been posting this blog for 109 days and I’ve gotten some interesting comments. I’m not sure but I think people must find random blogs and try to get your to respond back to them so that they can infect you with some mischievous virus that causes your computer to hand over all your personal information and then start smoking.

I’ve gotten comments like, “Yes, to agree that a fine post but never before.” As flattering as it is to get comments in the first place, I’m not sure exactly what this means. This one is a mystery too: “bluilpile is chaper than you think. Click here!” Plus I got one that said, “Remember me? I’m Mary from Russia. Reply back soon.” I’ve had several like this, and, of course, one of them had the word, “Viagra,” in it because for some reason I cannot escape this word being splattered everywhere I look at a lighted screen – be it a TV, computer, or my child’s old Lite Brite that was invented before Viagra – before all the men in America became limp.

I have written a blog about Viagra already, and I’d like to repeat everything I said there, but instead I’m going to somewhat stick to my subject for once. These identity theft people are very sneaky. I have posted some ads on Craig’s List, and I’ll get responses like, “Yes, I am very interested in your item. Please email if it is still available.”

“Oh boy!” I think. “Someone wants to buy my item!” I reply in an email right away and don’t hear back, so I figure they’ve bought someone else’s item. Then about a week later I get an email from my email provider, let’s say Comcast, that reads: “We are updating our email security from before and wish to have your current login and password for our records. Please to provide and reply to this email. Thank you for your very immediate assistance. comcast.”

When I got the first one of these, I scanned the message and, I’m ashamed to admit, typed my user name in the space provided. When I started typing my password, that little voice of caution whispered in my ear, “ARE YOU NUTS?”

I re-read the email carefully and was able to pick up on a foreign accent, plus I thought the “comcast” wasn’t very professional, and there was no cute little logo on the bottom.

I forwarded the email to Comcast (not my real service – I’m trying to guard my privacy here), and they replied that it was a scam.

Now I trust no one. If my daughter calls on the phone, I make her answer a security question before I’ll agree to whatever she’s asking.

It’s a sad world when you can’t trust anyone or anything, especially if it’s on your computer screen. But I’d live without complaint even in these trying times if I could just get Viagra away from me. I want this company to go out of business right now!! I don’t care if they are helping billions and billions of Americans. I can’t stand them. And KY Jelly is moving up my list of despised products in ads. Back in the day, in mixed company, I used to think Kotex commercials were bad. Now I’d give anything to replace all the limp men’s commercials with feminine hygiene products. They could have as many side-by-side comparison tests where they pour a gallon of blue water in the chosen brand and it doesn’t leak a drop. They can show dozens of carefree girls in white pants doing squats or on a dance line kicking their legs up over their heads and I’d be delighted if it would just get rid of Viagra. I’d gladly watch a million hemorrhoid commercials if I could just go back to the good old days…

Monday, February 1, 2010

Avatar Again

I saw Avatar for the third time today. The first was in 2D with my son and daughter on my birthday. The second was in IMAX 3D with two girlfriends last Thursday. The third was with my daughter, also in IMAX 3D because she hadn’t seen the 3D version yet. All in all I’d say I’ve gained three pounds because of this movie – a pound of popcorn each at the first two and a pound of candy today.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t go into any building where they are showing a movie without gorging on popcorn. As I go in the door, waves of popcorn smell lift me in the air and carry me, half hypnotized, to the concession stand where I get the biggest bag because it’s a much better deal. The concession stand guy says, “Do you want the large bag for $50 – that’s only a quarter more than the medium bag.” Who can pass up a bargain like that?

My daughter wanted candy, so we were forced to buy a two-pound box of Reese’s Pieces that could have satisfied an elephant. Human-sized boxes are not available anymore. As we worked our way through the box, the remaining pieces rattled from the very bottom to the small opening in the top. Very often my daughter had to shake the box to get a fistful out. If you haven’t seen Avatar yet, let me explain that this is a very engrossing movie, and many parts are wondrous and quiet, so no one talks or makes a sound. A rattled box of candy sounds like a mariachi band. I could feel eyes boring into the back of my head. I kept slumped down in case someone decided to take a swipe.

I’m at least smart enough to get a large diet soda because I figure I can burn off substantial calories lifting that huge container up and down, which might offset some of the “butter” calories on the popcorn. I put the word “butter” in quotes because we all know the substance is artificial oil that comes from a “butter” tree, a tree that was scientifically engineered by Julia Child and only grows in France. The oil from the butter tree has 10 times the calories and toxic chemicals of real butter, but at a fraction of the cost.

Unfortunately, the carbonization in all sodas, particularly diet sodas, acts as a bladder massager – the more you drink, the more your bladder gets massaged. Scientists studying the phenomenon believe that carbon bubbles go in the bladder and mutate into actual fingers that push on the walls of human bladders, thusly simulating the urge to pee – and pee right this instant. Therefore, even though the giant tumbler seems like a good deal on the surface, the average moviegoer will end up missing about 25% of the movie due to frequent bathroom breaks. When you consider that an IMAX 3D movie like Avatar costs $15.50 at today’s prices, and you’ll have to see it at least twice to try and catch the 25% you missed the first time, your good deal, just like your bladder, doesn’t seem to hold water.

Today it was unfortunate that even at 3:00 in the afternoon the movie was sold out, so the only two seats left in the house were in the middle of the row, and they weren’t even together. I had to beg people to scoot together so that my daughter and I wouldn’t have to sit on opposite ends of the theater. On my frequent trips to the restroom, because the rows in the theater are built for pygmies and are impassible without forcing fifteen people to stand up along the way, there were many angry patrons hissing, “SIT DOWN” behind us as I made my way back and forth. It was like one of those “waves” at a football game, except this was a wave of hissing.

All in all it was a fun experience, except my eyes felt like cotton balls after wearing the 3D glasses for 3 hours. But who’s complaining. I’ve finally gotten to see the whole movie from beginning to end. And if I have missed anything because of going to the bathroom, my husband still hasn’t seen the movie so I’m sure I’ll get a chance then.