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Pumped Full of Pumpkin

25 Sep

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Last night I was ruminating about how I hadn’t busted my Fall 2014 hymen yet by savoring the first Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, despite the Starbuck’s gift card that Girlfriend Stacy sent me for my recent birfday. Yes, I just turned twenty nine (again…shhh). Big Daddy threw me some side eye and said, “I don’t understand how you can love everything pumpkin so much, while I know it’s gross”. I was all like, “Um, duh! It’s because I’m a White Girl, and You. Are. Not”. I don’t know exactly why the delicious Pumpkin has become the mascot of White Girls everywhere. Maybe it has to do with our feelings evoked from gazing at Martha Stewart’s face peeking through an elegantly disheveled arrangement of pumpkins and Indian corn or how from an early age we coveted the versatile buckle adorned ankle boots worn by Pilgrim women in all of the the first Thanksgiving depictions which also featured lots of pumpkins, but I think it is just been woven into our DNA somehow.

As such, we are such an easy target. Just adding the suggestion of pumpkin to an offering gets me and a herd of White Girls coming with pupils dilated, tongues swollen and wallets wide open. Me? Personally, I am like the Bubba Gump of pumpkin: baked pumpkin ravioli, pumpkin and cinnamon scented bees’ wax candles, cold pressed pumpkin seed oil, slow roasted pumpkin seeds with sea salt (pepitas if I’m feeling exotic), savory pumpkin soup with a dollop of crème fraîche, maple glazed pumpkin loaf, pumpkin hued cashmere sweaters, jet puffed spiced mallows for when you have to do coffee at home, whipped pumpkin butter, pumpkin spiced harvest ale, even Eggo’s limited edition Pumpkin Spice Waffles…I’m so dedicated that I’ve even had a pumpkin body scrub at the Ritz Spa. It was everything I could do to not lick and inhale myself in front of the aesthetician. 

* And yes, I realize that Bubba Gump is neither White, nor a Girl, but it fit, so just deal. 

Two of only a few major pumpkin missteps that I can carve from recent memory have come from the brain-trust of Pontiac, who thought they could force fugly cars into being palatable dollops by giving them the pumpkin spice treatment:

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The (Loser) Cruiser

The Aztek

The Aztek

It did not work. The result looks like some sort of mechanical transformer car/cockroach.

But something has happened this year that has me recoiling from my beloved pumpkin anything, just ever so slightly.  Apparently the Market has caught on to this pumpkin-infused economy and has sought to exploit it with thoughtless commodities that just don’t fly for the average White Girl’s sensibilities, or anybody’s for that matter. It turns out that sometimes pumpkin isn’t the best ever. For instance:

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Pumpkin Oreos. Why? Oreos should be one thing and one thing only: chocolate wafers with the snow-white cream that you scrape off with your front teef. I should have seen it coming, though. Oreo has polluted their brand with all sorts of fucked up flavors: mint, birthday cake, berry, peanut butter, marshmallow crisp, cookie dough, lemon and don’t even get me started on what flavors they are pandering in Japan. 

These come in several  limited edition "wrong" flavors

These come in several limited edition “wrong” flavors

Pringles Pumpkin Pie Spice Chips are Fifty Shades of No Way. Correct me if I’m wrong (don’t really, though), but potato chips should be salty with varying amounts of delicious grease. Potatoes are potatoes. Why are we trying to make them be pie, candy canes or toast? Let’s just allow potatoes to be great the way they are.  This is food bullying. Someone needs to consult The View about this.

Honey Boo Boo’s sister, Pumpkin…Another thing that’s just crying out for help!

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There are so many wrong turns in the land of Pumpkin this year, such as pumpkin spiced almonds, which is like making sunflower crusted macadamia.  What about Hershey’s Pumpkin Spiced Kisses? I tried to eat on one, but it just made me so sad that I couldn’t swallow it.

As far as being pretty to look at…Chobani and Yoplait both have created a pumpkin spiced flavored yogurt.  I guess it could be an ingredient for an apple dip, but it just looks like the post-meconium poop of a three day old baby.  Pumpkin spiced yogurt might just be the ugliest step-sister of the bunch.

Punk'n Poo

Punk’n Poo

Exactly how much does the Market think us White Girls crave the pumpkin? Well, there was this…

Come into Autumn

Come into Autumn

Earlier this month, the internets was in a lather over images of a Durex Pumpkin Spice Condom.  It turned out to be a soul-crushing cruel hoax to the skinny hipster dudes looking for an angle on getting laid during football season.  Said a Durex spokesperson, “Durex has heard that people are saying we launched a ‘Pumpkin Spice’ condom. We can’t claim this one, but we do love it when people spice up the bedroom.”  However, all hope is not lost…or is it? You decide.

Glide it on your gourd

Glide it on your gourd

In 2013, just a day before my last twenty-ninth birthday, the Lord of Lube, Astroglide, announced that Spicy Pumpkin Warming Liquid, would debut in fall 2014.  The company promised that the Spicy Pumpkin Personal Lubricant will feature the same quality as other lubricants offered by Astroglide. Oh, yay. A spokesperson said the product is “water-based, water-soluble, and condom-compatible, but with the subtle taste and smell of America’s favorite gourd.” As far as I can tell, after a quick feel-up of their website, this new lube has not yet been released. However, if you are in a hot and bothered hurry, companies such as Sexcusemoi and Pumpkinhead have products available online to light up your jack-o-lantern. 

Happy Fall, Everyone!

Dead Market

5 Aug

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To launch a successful product or business idea a lot of things swirling in the cosmos need to align.  You need to have a widget or service that is unique, with an identifiable market that will either benefit from or want said widget/service.  Or if you are crafty, you will be able create a demand for it, like they did with the Pet Rock in the 1970s. Once all that big picture stuff is established there is all of the unsexy and technical stuff that has to be finessed, like building prototypes, culling investors (or getting your parents to stroke a check), manufacturing, distribution, packaging, sales, marketing, evolving the widget, hiring employees, plus yada-yada-yada, all in no particular order.  Heads up: I majored in English and Special Education, not Business.  Don’t blow up my comment box with what I left out or how I’ve over-simplified the process.  Mmm-k?

But that was then.  We live in modern times with evolving models where businesses can get a foot in the door selling only mere possibility, or be funded by Kick-Starter campaigns, they can outsource everything to China for, like, a nickel or claw their way into appearing on Shark Tank, like girlfriend Jenny did with her Hold Your Haunches pants, and blow it up.  (You go girl!)  But many emerging “cottage industries” have just buried the whole having a meaningful product thing in favor of brainstorming niche ideas while seemingly getting super-duper baked in their parent’s basement, building the requisite website and then enjoy the fat stacks coming in.  The internet, and YouTube in particular, has proven time and again that there are VERY specific audiences and consumers to be exploited.  For instance…

Are you getting ready to sell a house or buy a house?  According to website diedinhouse.com, having any type of death in a dwelling can cost you “thousands of dollars”.  How?  No idea, they just say so in their commercial.  DiedInHouse admits that, “You may not be a believer in ghosts, but you do not want to live in a house that someone died in, no matter the cause. You also may not want to invest your money in a home that had a death, because it could possibly decrease its value and make it harder to resell.”  No matter what the cause?  I’m actually okay with a house where sweet Grandma died in her sleep at the ripe age of 97 as long as it doesn’t smell ripe. Does that make me creepy or something?

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Oh, no!  What’s a girl to do?  DiedInHouse contends that the G’u’v’ment is not doing its job and failing us all by not enacting more laws to protect citizen buyers from getting stuck with “stigmatized” property.  Allow me the slow hand clap of congratulation for DiedInHouse; not only did they identify and groom a niche problem, but they have developed and offered the solution, too.  Praise be to God!  Well payed, DiedInHouse, well played. For the low, low price of $11.99 per search (compared with a possible range of up to $39.99…a range that I think was just pulled out of a dead guy’s ass), DiedInHouse will provide the curious, under-informed prospective buyer with a ghoul report.  This report will contain a “vitality status of previous residents and people that are associated with the residence”.   Of course, “the US Government did not start digitizing death records until the 1960s.  Even today, there are government records that have not been digitized.  Most of our data is from 1990 to present”. But, take heed because DiedInHouse cheerfully reminds clients that, “if we are not able to find a death record in our search, keep in mind that does not mean that a death has not occurred there….Our disclaimer states that DiedInHouse.com is merely a great tool to use to assist you with finding out if someone has died at a specific address.”  Or you could just ask the current owner.  Or Google.  Whatever, man.

To support their assertions of financial harm and drawn out listings, DiedInHouse cites two well known and recently sold Death Houses. 

What horrors await behind the front door?

What horrors await behind the front door?

After well documented hot mess Amy Winehouse trotted outta rehab in her Fuck Me Pumps and flew over the rainbow while clutching the wings of a pegasus named Heroin Cocktail Sparkle her father, Mitch, listed Amy’s Camden Square home in North London for sale at £2.7 million.  It eventually sold at auction for £1.98 million.  That does seem like a big downgrade for a 3 bedroom house, which included a widely-in-demand custom recording studio, in a neighborhood mostly populated by architects, barristers and writers…HOWEVER, at the time of listing the average home value for that street was £871,092 while the average asking price for homes on the market was £1,215,611 with the average closing price settling at £618,333.  Maybe the discrepancy between list and sales price was more about unrealistic expectations and less about the pallor of death or chalk outlines.  After all, the home did sell for a whopping £1,371,666 more than the average of other home sales in the area.  Just putting that out there, DiedInHouse.

You are not Alone...in not wanting to get murdered by the asking price

You are not Alone…in not wanting to get murdered by the asking price

Another famous residence DiedInHouse cites is the home where Michael Jackson, crooner of possible DiedInHouse theme song “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”, took his last and longest nap.  The house, an architectural Gobstopper, sold in 2012 for $18.1 million, down from its initial asking price of $28.995 million.  Whoa!  Talk about taking a beating…but wait.  The house had been sold in the real-estate heyday of 2004 for $18,500,180.  At the time of his death, the King of Pop was renting it for $100k a month.  About 5 months after Jacko donned his jammies and eye-shades for the last time, the house was listed and quickly scooped up by Hubert Goez, CEO of douche bag clothing house Ed Hardy, for a cool $18.050,000.  Note that the year was 2009.  How were your investments and bank accounts doing in November 2009?  Mine were either wheezing or filled with tumble-weeds.  Just months after closing, Goez and his wife, Roxanne, presented the house for sale for a staggering $28.995 million, inflating the value by a ghastly 62.25%.  Unbelievably, there was not an immediate bidding war.  I know.  One year later they wanted to be startin’ something by bringing legal action against Linda Welton, a woman who operates an outpost selling umbrellas, coolers and maps to the stars’ homes. In their complaint, The Goezes asserted that, “potential buyers are bothered upon approach by the quite visible and annoying constant illegal stopping and/or parking of cars in front of the home on what otherwise would be a quiet residential street.”  Let it be noted that they did not file a complaint against the devious former owners for not disclosing the dead Michael Jackson that used to be in the upstairs bedroom.  Also note that it then sold for $50k more than the Goezes originally paid for it.  I don’t know of too many other properties where the sales price only took a 2% dip during this time period.

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I dunno, all things considered, it seems like these real estate survivors have ended up with fairly lively returns.  Having not seen any sort of tax files, I can’t say whether or not DeadInHouse is making a killing, but just looking at the quantity and profile of advertisers they boast on their website, I’d certainly say their business  is alive and kicking.

Aside

NoTel, No More

6 Mar

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Hot Damn had a little swim in Lake Me followed by a sobering attitude adjustment this week.  See, I’ve always had a secret smug satisfaction with some low-key character traits that set me apart…you know, the sort of things that used to make Big Daddy coo, “You’re not like other girls…”  Of particular pride is that I am not a hotel snob.  If my bags are packed, who cares where I’m sleeping.  AmIright?  I know this is my personal truth.  Don’t believe me?  Check out these two compelling examples:

1.The summer my brother and I traveled across Europe, each armed with a Eurail pass, a hostel membership card, a deluxe backpack, $2000 in travelers checks (in lieu of a credit card) toted in my flesh colored money-belt and absolutely no plan.  We happily slept on trains, benches, sofas and sometimes beds.  The less money we spent on accommodations, the more we had for fueling the wanderlust.  I washed my hair in train station sinks and never held a blow dryer.  It was cool.

2. A motel just outside of Charleston, S.C. called The Lord Ashley Court.  You had to pay a $10 deposit to have the phone activated in your room. The cable for the TV dangled from the roof and was snaked through the window.  There were rollie-pollies on the shelf above the sink.  I stayed here two years in a row during Spoleto.  The first year was by process of elimination, the second year was a choice.

So, this week Snakebite and I needed to spend just one night in Sewanee, Tennessee.  Our options were slim and it was the Best Western Smokehouse Lodge that was both recommended and available.  I did briefly pause at the $72 per night reservation, but then recalled a darling Best Western where I once stayed in Chaing Rai, Thailand on the banks of the Mae Kok river.  That this would be just fine for us girls for a scant 12 hours was a given.

My Facebook status when we finally got checked into our room:

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When we checked in at the front desk, the “lobby” was kinda packed with what I thought might be the stragglers from the weekend’s mountain family reunion/meth-cook recipe swap.  Lotsa mullets, jeans without back pockets, hoodies that had seen better decades and extreme smoker teef.  Turns out this was the lodge’s cracker-jack staff on perpetual break.

On the bottom floor, our room overlooked a parking lot flanked pool and a retention pond.  The walkway outside of the room was built of peeling painted wood decking boards.  Any time someone walked the plank it was loudly announced.  It was also super slippery, which I didn’t realize was foreshadowing.

A well rested Snakebite on the gangplank

A well rested Snakebite on the gangplank

We got 2 queen beds, piled high with pillows stuffed with…cotton balls?  We sat down at our tiny laminate table to our Sonic feast and rallied for the saddest Oscar party ever.  Before you judge me for feeding my sweet daughter Sonic as a sit down supper, know that my choices were a skeevy Pizza Hut, Hardees, McDonalds, Waffle House (which my digestive system will not abide) and the adjoining restaurant which tempted with offerings such as fried frog legs, fried chicken livers, fried catfish fillets, fried pies and something called a BeerCooler, a bargain at $3.  Probably, their food was awesome in a country cookin’ way, but at this point I just couldn’t belly up to the food jamboree.  Sonic’s sweet ‘tater tots was THE healthy option.

Look at all of the dirty, smudgy human paw prints.

Look at all of the dirty, smudgy human paw prints.

Once I began tending to my evening face-wash-tooth-brushing routine I discovered that we had been furnished with just 1 bath towel.  So, I had to undo the lock-chain on the door (the deadbolt didn’t work so much) and go back to the front desk.  I tried not to touch the actual door as I think CSI will be coming back to lift someone’s prints in the near future.  But in the present, at 8:30pm on a Sunday, they hadn’t gotten to the laundry just yet.

On the way back to the room I pit-stopped to get some ice and that’s when saw the vending options…

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Because what else do you need to compliment a 2-liter of Mountain Dew?

I don’t know if the machine hasn’t been restocked in years, or if it was full on Friday and the methy guests snarfed it all up over the weekend.  Either way…

With the Oscars underway, I brushed the ladybugs off of the top of my bed, secured my handgun, plus an extra loaded clip, by my side and settled in.  And by in, I mean on top.  I wasn’t getting under anything.  After I plugged in the window-unit heater, I had to turn up the sound on the TV every 4 minutes to compensate for the noise, then turn it back down 4 minutes later when the unit rested.

Ready for anything

Ready for anything

During commercials I fielded texts from friends with helpful advice like, “send pictures” and “check for bed bugs”.  That last one had the same effect as the annual lice letter from school.  I immediately became, and have remained, itchy.  Thanks, Claire.

My morning shower didn’t do much to quell my scratching.  My focus was trained on the wallpaper that was caulked to the top of the wall against the waaay water damaged popcorn ceiling.  I’m not real clear how the ceiling height even passed code.  Yet another thing about my visit that had me scratching my head.  Oh, and there was a shoe print on the outside of the bathroom door…like someone had locked herself in while her abuser was trying to get in a kick to the spleen through the closed door.  Shudder.  Who can get clean in that set-up?

Gross.  Just very, very gross.

Gross. Just very, very gross.

The good news is that we woke up alive that morning.  The bad news is that the crappy weather system forecasted for Tuesday stepped it up and blew in early to wrap my car in an impenetrable ice condom.  I don’t have a scraper for my windshield, so I of course appealed to the concierge.  No help.  They would not let me borrow a scraper.  I guess they thought I’d either keep it for scraping my meth pans, or use it as a shiv and shank them.  Luckily, 15 minutes of the defroster going full tilt coupled with the edge of a Starbucks gift card cleared enough ice to let me drive to 4 different gas stations in search of a scraper.

What did I learn from all of this?  I need to keep an ice scraper in my glove box?  Done.  I should keep healthy snacks in the car?  Yep. Or is it that I’m no longer as traveler carefree and cool as I once I was?  That summer when I slept in train stations?  I was 17.  And my weekends of slumming it at the Lord Ashley Court?  Early 20s.  Things have changed, I’m older with excellent credit and it’s time to check myself and recalibrate.  Damnit.  I do like fancy sheets, marble bathrooms, pristine door jambs and in-room safes.  I like a fleet of kiss-ass front desk staff.  And even though I may not order a fruit cup and La Croix from room service, I NEED that option.

So long hostels, motor-courts, motels and couchettes.  I’ll be at the Four Seasons if you need anything.

The smell of Fame…Fame stinks

14 Sep

Any one else catch Lara Spencer interviewing Lady Gaga on Good Morning America this morning?  During the spring of 2011 I discussed Gaga’s perfume development deal here.  Well, hold out your spritz wrist because it’s ready for market and the fragrance, a black tinted potion, previously reported to combine scents associated with blood and semen, is called Fame.  However, I think that l’eau d’Bullshit might be more appropriate.

Who the #?!@ puts their bare pit front and center on a perfume ad?

If I didn’t already love GMA’s Lara Spencer, I surely do after watching her keep a straight face while stifling what must have been  very strong visceral urge to roll eyes, throw shade, pee herself then ultimately fall on the floor and dissolve into a puddle of snort-giggles.

Seriously, tell me about Fame. I won’t laugh.

For this planned interview, Ms. Gaga wore a long fuscia sheath dress, a gold-tone crown reminiscent of stalagmites sprouting from her forehead and long, pointy fingernails.  Gaga’s delivery was very dour and stoic, as though discussing herself in relation to her sense of scent was of the utmost importance.  While watching the interview, I felt kinship with the Long Island Medium, as I was able to visualize a teenage Gaga Stefani Germanotta sitting in her bedroom listening to a Sisters of Mercy cassette and writing awful haiku in a black and white composition book.

Here are some of the provocative and deeply meaningful things that Gaga had to say about her new scent:

On why she chose the color black for her perfume:  ”I wanted the black liquid to represent the duality of fame.  The beautiful smell of it, but the dangerous evil propositions around the corner.  It does spray clear.  It doesn’t get on your clothes.  It’s just a nice little artistic statement.”

Lara then led Gaga with a statement about how aromas and scents can lift the mood of a room and change the conclusion of the evening.  As if possessed by Gloria Swanson’s dramatic, self-aware Norma Desmond character in “Sunset Boulevard”, Gaga had this to hiss out in response: “It’s quite like me, I think…I’m a good party ender.  Yesss…Or a party favor.  Anyone would want me to go home with them.  I smell like fame.”  Here, again, I think bullshit is interchangeable with fame.  Even I could smell it from my sofa in Atlanta.

A load of…fame

While gazing off into a sideways distance, Gaga leaned in, dragged her gilt metallic spiked nail finger from her neck down to her décolleté and oozed out this gem: “The fans, when they want to smell me.  They say, ‘Gaga, can I smell the fame?’”  Oh, puhleese!  The last time anyone demanded to smell me, it was my mother when I was in high school.  And it wasn’t me she wanted to smell…it was my breath.  Which of course smelled like…bullshit fame.  And a freshly chewed breath mint, combined with 5 pumps of Binaca masking the feint bouquet of Mad Dog.

Gaga cautions that this Fame is a sexy fragrance; one shouldn’t even go near it unless she is hell-bent on seduction.  In fact, she even warns Lara that “you should never wear it if you’re not likely to look for a lover because it is going to attract them.”  It’s like heat in a bottle.  Well, if that’s the case, I might just save my cash, hit up the CVS and buy some Designer Imposter fragrances instead.  Those fragrances seemed to always inspire strange men to follow you with a fist full of bought flowers every time you stepped outside.  I mean…same result, less bullshit.  Right?

Someone get the vomit bucket!

Speaking of men, Lara asked Gaga what a man should smell like. Like all women of fine breeding, Gaga said that she likes the smells of leather, tobacco, “alcoholy smells and things that smell like you’ve been in a bar being bad all night.  I really like that smell.”  So, stale beer, boot bottoms, ciggie butts and upchuck?  Jodie Foster entertaining on a pinball machine?

She describes her hopes and dreams for her first foray into the world of perfume as, “I wanted it to be a very slutty perfume, because that is sort of the addictive nature of fame.  It is that it is seductive; you want the life of the person that is famous.”

I don’t think she understands what “slutty” is.  Or maybe she doesn’t understand what “seduction” is.  Odds are favorable that I don’t either, but I do understand that slutty doesn’t seduce.  I took Human Sexuality 201 for college credit after all.  Slutty just throws itself out there for the taking with no regard for self-respect, long-term consequence or dignity.  Oh, wait.  So, is Gaga saying that she is slutty because she has fame?  Mother Theresa was famous, but I wouldn’t necessarily call her slutty (though the late Christopher Hitchens might have disagreed)

Holy slutty fame!

Then things got weird-ooooo.  Gaga starts talking about how sexy her Mom was when Gaga was still Stefani Germanotta.  Mom apparently was a real sexpot and Daddy was down for Mom’s sexy, seductive vibe.  Stephanie and her sister really enjoyed seeing their parents not being private about hugging and kissing.  The End.

Ewww.  My kids practically puke up their entire G.I. tract if Big Daddy touches the top of my head.

Lara then voiced over rolling footage of a “performance” from last night’s Fame perfume launch party, held at NYC’s Guggenheim Museum, where Gaga treated fans to watching her get her neck tattooed as she lazed in a giant replicated Fame perfume bottle while noodling around on her ipad.

Thank Sweet Jesus that her hair can grow through this mess

Someone needs to call Dr. Drew stat.  I caught a whiff of someone that needs to spend some time at the Pasadena Recovery Center for the next season of Celebrity Re-hab.

Fiddy Shades of You’ve Got to be Kidding

9 Jul

This week’s New York Times Best Sellers list is a head-scratcher for me.  Number 1?  Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.  Number 2?  Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James.  Number 3?  Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James.  And slipping in at Number 8…yep, it’s the freakin’ Fifty Shades Trilogy by E.L. James.  In the event that you have been tied up for the past few months, the Fifty Shades books are filed under Mommy Porn.  As I understand it, the “plot” explores the erotic relationship between an inexperienced college co-ed and a slightly older, complicated business man who likes to get his freak on with props.  Snore.  Consequently, the books now have people in the BDSM, that’s Bondage-Domination-SadoMasochism, community all twisted up that their fetish is being demonized as a psychopathology.  But, that’s not who’s snatching these books off the shelves.  So.  What.  Ever.

Here’s a quote from the first book that I found online:

“He grabs me suddenly and yanks me up against him, one hand at my back holding me to him and the other fisting in my hair.
“You’re one challenging woman,” He kisses me, forcing my lips apart with his tongue, taking no prisoners.
“It’s taking all my self-control not to fuck you on the hood of this car, just to show you that you’re mine, and if I want to buy you a fucking car, I’ll buy you a fucking car,” he growls.”

I think that Forever by Judy Blume may have been more titillating and for sure better written.  I don’t even know what “fisting my hair” would do besides warrant 15 minutes of “me time” in the bathroom with a bottle of Johnson & Johnson de-tangling spray and a wide-tooth comb.  Ouch, now that hurts!

Over the weekend, girlfriend Tracy said that one of her friends had just posted on Facebook that she had gone to her local library in hopes of checking out one of the Fifty Shades books.  She landed at number 300 on their list of frugal, horny housewives waiting for the book.  Given the subject matter, I am pretty sure that I would want a fresh, unused copy that has not been clutched in over 600 spontaneously self-molesting, public library hands.  I don’t want to be glued to those borrowed pages.  Ewww.

Have you read one, or gasp, all of these books yet?  I haven’t and it is making most of my girlfriends about to crawl out of their skin from frustrating disbelief.  “Oh.  My.  God…you HAVE to read them!”  “Read them with your husband…you’ll be so in the mood!”  “I couldn’t wait to get home and be alone; you know…”  Call me easy, call me predictable or call me consistent, but I still respond enthusiastically to a bottle of red wine and Big Daddy asking, “Did you start working out again?”  Really.  That’s pretty much the entire how-to manual of getting just about any woman to give it up.

Livin’ la vida Lotto

30 Mar

Let it be known that I got my Lotto cherry popped today.  Well, it’s not technically popped until 11pm tonight, when I find out that I’ve been screwed out of $5.  Right now I’ve only got Lotto’s tip in my grasp.  And it’s soooo big!

It’s true; until today I have never bought a lottery ticket.  But the siren call of $640 million dollars got me a bit hot and bothered.  No lie.  And it’s been kinda nice.  All day I have surrendered to the fantasy of “What if…” But we both know the truth is that anything over $100 million is just being a blow-hard.  And if I am totally honest, I could make do with just $15 million.  I would happily donate the lion’s share and I would get Georgia’s labor market back in full swing by sub-contracting out a myriad of jobs beginning with digging me a pool in the backyard.

Hot Tub got in on the action, too.  He gave me money to buy a lottery ticket for everyone in the family…his gift of Hope for the people he loves.  Aaw.  He was so thrilled to hold the sheet and when Snakebite got home from lacrosse, he could barely contain his thrill as he revealed the ticket and told her what he’d done for her.  The response had all of the sadistic enthusiasm of the fellow inmate who beat Jeffery Dahmer to death with a broom handle in prison.  There was yelling, belittling, gnashing of teeth, crossed arms of disapproval and full on steam shooting from her ears.

From the beginning, Big Daddy and I have always scoffed at the unfortunate, uneducated proletariat who spend their rent money on playing “their numbers”.  Snakebite has especially bought into our message that lottery tickets=life’s losers.  

Once, about four years ago, a ten-year old Snakebite spent the night with a friend from school.  The next morning when I went to pick her up I hung around for the usual Saturday morning debriefing of “how things went”.  The host mother got a big grin on her face and told me to settle in, because I was going to love what she had to tell me.  Apparently, after school they made a pit stop at the grocery store to get some sleepover fortification.  After passing through checkout, the mother went to the customer service desk to buy $25 dollars worth of lottery tickets.  At about the time she was up, she noticed that Margaret was looking distressed and on the verge of a making a puking scene.  With great concern, the mother asked, “Sweetie, are you okay?  Are you going to be sick?” as she was feeling Snakebite’s forehead.  Young Snakebite blurted out, “Don’t do it Mrs. Elliot!  Don’t you know that the lottery is a scam?  You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than ever winning!!!  You need to save your money for important things like life insurance and college.”  The mother was stunned; having expected to hear something more along the lines of how bad lunch had been at school that day.

Mrs. Elliot assured Margaret that the groceries had already been paid for, they were current with their mortgage and school tuition had been taken care of; clearly, there was no need to worry.  Snakebite’s response?  “Well, you’ll always have your property taxes to pay for!”

So, that very practical ten-year old, who is now fourteen, is thoroughly disgusted that her mother and brother have been revealed to be losers, who are going to end up living in a trailer park if they are lucky.  I have long wondered what it would be that I would do that would truly offend and embarrass my child.  Turns out it’s lottery tickets…unless I win.  Then I bet 10 to 1 she’ll be kissing up to me and Hot Tub, big time.

painting by Brian Stewart

Wanna go for a ride?

22 Feb

So, I know it’s been a long year that you fine people have been waiting, no doubt with bated breath, to find out about how my whole car hunt thing turned out. I dithered on about it here , here and even here. It was about this same time last year that I was told my trusty Toyota, Suki (I name all of my cars), was knocking on death’s door and that she had only weeks to live. By the way, it was the dealership’s mechanic who broke the news to me while graciously offering to escort me to the dealership showroom to look at the “fantastic group of 2012” offerings, or sit tight while he replaced my rear axel for a couple thousand dollars, with more repairs to follow. It was my choice, he assured me. I opted for an automotive band-aid instead. Suspiciously, with only new front brakes, tires and an oil change, that SUV of mine managed to eek out another 13,000 miles of carpools, trips out of town and commutes to work.

To recap, my list of parameters was that I wanted a new SUV/Crossover/Wagon that has great fuel economy using cheap gas, optional third row seating, a black exterior with a tan interior, all the techy bells and whistles, free maintenance, oh, and I wanted it to come in under 40k, including my trade-in. I was giving myself a month or two to indulge in due-diligence. I tested just about everything: Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Audi, Cadillac, Buick, Acura, BMW, Volvo, Lexus…I couldn’t get all that excited. At a few dealerships, I drove several models. Some cars I drove several times. All told, I drove over twenty different makes/models. I made spreadsheets and charts. Took the family to visit certain cars. It boiled down to this: for the amount of money I was willing to barf up, if I were going to get the all of the fun stuff I wanted, I’d have to get a 5-seater. Given seat belt laws and our lifestyle, that just wasn’t going to work for us. I suffered from a debilitating case of analysis paralysis. The family was getting frustrated with my inability to make a move. I just couldn’t get comfortable enough to pull the trigger, but I came close twice. All the while, Suki’s health was in a downward spiral. Things quit working, the driver side air bag was bulging, the antennae just stopped, the rear hatch gave up, and finally she started grinding and refusing to go any higher than third gear. Even Snakebite and Hot Tub started seeing the white light when we were out on the road. It was time to send this car over the rainbow… or to a hard-up landscaping crew.

My last ride before I jumped ship to Toyota was a huge, pimp-style Mercedes. We kept that car until it was fifteen years old. She was unreliable as hell and cost us thousands of dollars a year in maintenance plus untold hours of inconvenience and frustration. But I had inherited it from my mother and it looked great and was pretty dreamy when it was actually moving. Of course, by the end, it wouldn’t go in reverse. After we got rid of it, I brushed my hands together and said “never again”. I even chucked my goofy “Mercedes Only Parking” sign that someone had given me for our garage. I meant business.

On a lark, I found myself at RBM of Atlanta, just to see. Just to look. Just to assure myself that I would never go back there again. And there they were: glossy German SUVs with voice activated systems, burled wood inlays and sexy new car smell. A salesman quickly came over and started to give me the stats. I put on my best dour “I’m not impressed face” as he had me sitting in the third row and folding seats with the touch of a button. While my body language tried to remain stoic, I was falling in love with a $75k car. Shit. “My” salesman, Steve Szczupak, assured me the he was going to become my new best friend. Then my best friend asked the magic question that was going to lead to a speedy break-up: “So, how much are you looking to spend?” I came clean and he gently redirected me to a 5-seater. I drove it while Steve was imploring me to “drive it like ya stole it” and “stomp on it”. It did not suck; it was everything I had hoped it would be, with the exception of those much-needed extra seats. Damn.

And then we started talking about “previously enjoyed, certified” cars. Say whaaa? All of the warranty love with none of the depreciation? Okay. Free car washes anytime I want? Roadside assistance for life? Good coffee in the waiting room? I was open. And then there was a deal. And I was smitten. And you know how when you’re in love a lot of the ideas you had before suddenly seem a little silly and trite? Your heart takes over and your mind can’t help you. I felt like Pepe Le Pew when he first sees the French pussycat.

Here she is in all of her silver exterior, black interior, premium unleaded, never-again-a-Benz glory. I named her Augusta:

As an aside…I believe in signs. We made the deal on what was Big Daddy and my sixteenth wedding anniversary. Other than it being poetic to be getting a new ride on my sweet sixteen, I literally bumped into Joan, who was a bride’s maid in our wedding. And then when we got in the car, Kiss’ “Christine Sixteen” was on the radio. It was meant to be. The planets were in alignment. And then the next night? The couple that we went out with for Augusta’s inaugural night on the town bought their car from my new best friend, Steve, too. Go figure.

Pink ribbon…untied

6 Feb

I have long been uncomfortable with charities whose primary goal is to “raise awareness”.  What does that even mean?  To me it just sounds like a kinder, gentler way to say “ strategic marketing”.  There is one charity in particular that has long plagued me.  Sure, I have participated in some of their sponsored races, or bought the special edition Lily Pulitzer scarf in October.  But it’s about liking the print and wanting to run.  I’m not trying to establish my commitment to letting people know that I am “aware” of breast cancer.  If only it were that simple.  As the daughter of a mother who died from breast cancer, and a friend to a whole slew of women who have been through the ringer, I’d say that I had heard of breast cancer before Estee Lauder came out with that damn pink ribbon in the 90s.  I have felt as though if I said anything questionable about the You-Know-Who Foundation or others, it would be just like denouncing kittens and chubby, wittle-bittle babies while throwing a Heil Hitler salute.  Because, what kind of monster doesn’t want to support “awareness”?

Whew!  Last week, after The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation for the Cure  made a political statement that they would no longer be providing grants to Planned Parenthood to aid funding of early breast cancer detection and screening for poor and uninsured women, the world went bonkers.  Facebook blew up, Twitter was freaking out…it was as big as Kim and Kris breaking up.  And now, I am finally free to express how grossed out I am and how I really feel about all of the pink crap that Komen has partnered in schlocking to the masses in the name of “awareness”.  The marketing practice, called “pink-washing”, targets consumers who think they are doing the right thing and making a difference by purchasing all sorts of items in the trademark soft “cancer-pink” color.  It’s so deceptive.  When I see pink I think feminine, fun, cheerful, upbeat, positive.  Pink is good.  Pink is sooo not cancer.  The breast cancer logo ribbon should be ashy and clammy, if possible.  It should convey feelings of nausea, anxiety and resentment.  It would be less misleading.

So the partnering companies come up with all manner of wares that they are looking to sell under Komen’s umbrella of warm and fuzzy good deeds.  Everything is billed as being “for the Cure”.  And you had better not mess with calling anything “for the Cure” without it having been cleared through Komen’s legal department first.  They have trademarked “for the Cure” as their intellectual property and Komen spends about $1,000,000.00 annually to preserve that “right”.  What could be better than convincing your consumer base that they are actually doing the world a favor every time they purchase a limited-edition pink nail polish, or that very special pair of pink rain boots?   The partnered company purports to donate a potion of proceeds toward “the Cure”, with an amount that usually caps at between $10,000-$30,000.  Remember Yoplait’s pink lids?  You saved the pink aluminum lids from your yogurt and mailed them back in to Yoplait and they would donate $0.10 per lid…up to $10,000.00.  I have to wonder if the U.S. Postal Service wasn’t in cahoots on that deal, too.  But a lot of these products are, well…let’s just say that some of the  “for the Cure” partners and products seem like very odd bedfellows to me.  For instance:

Do not adjust your screen.  That IS a pink-washed bucket o’ Kentucky Fried Chicken pictured above.  What, you may ask, does the Colonels’ 11 secret herbs and spices have to do with breast cancer research or awareness?  Beats the hell outta me.  It’s weird, right?

Meet the “Handgun for Hope”, offered by Discount Gun Sales for $429.99.  No lie.  This is a  Walther P-22 limited production pistol with an “exclusive DuraCoat Pink slide”.  The pink part commemorates breast cancer.  Because nothing says “Save the Ta-tas” like a cap in some one.

Have you ever fretted that the language barrier between you and your domestic help has kept her from knowing how important breast cancer awareness is to you and your family?  This pink Swiffer will assure her that you are “good people”, and she may even do a better job and quit pocketing the loose change from the dryer now that she knows!

You know, one way that you could really celebrate a Cure is with a pink flat-iron.  Sure, all those women with breast cancer are loosing their hair from chemotherapy, but that doesn’t mean that your hair has to look all frizzy.  

Again with the hair products?  It seems a little insensitive, especially from a company called “Bed Head”.

If you really want to impress your house guests with your philanthropic spirit, you might consider stocking the powder room with Cashmere’s couture toilet paper.  Let everyone in your home tell breast cancer how they feel about it by wiping their ass with pink 2-ply.

This past October, lots of sports teams got in on the pink-washing.  Hot Tub wore pink sweat bands during football games that one of the moms got for all of the boys.  Some boys wore pink shoe laces.  It’s a nice gesture and all, but I am pretty sure that not one 10 year-old boy was dumbfounded when presented with the pink ribbon terry wrist bands only to ask, “Breast Cancer?  What is that?”   They all already knew.  I knew what it was when I was six.  We don’t need pink rubber bracelets, pink cordless drills or a pink George Foreman Lean Mean Grill to be aware of breast cancer.  Do we?

Oddly enough, despite all of the awareness and all of the funds that have been raised for more marketing of awareness and research, scientists are no closer to finding a cure for breast cancer, nor a definitive cause.  What we know now is what we knew thirty years ago…early detection through self exams is your best bet.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy pink stuff.  If you like pink, then buy it. October will be your month!  I like pink and I even have a pink flat-iron, but not the official cancer one.  But maybe, just maybe consider stepping away from the pink ribbon engraved blender and instead send that money that you “think” “might” get donated to a charity to a local hospital, a hospice center or to a family who is getting further crushed by mounting medical bills.

Choking on chunked and formed movie scraps

2 Feb

I have long been popping a gasket about how there just seems to be next to no original ideas left for Hollywood and television executives to make do with.  TV shows get made into movies; movies become TV shows.  Why?  I will spare you the full, unedited, throbbing forehead vein version of my disgust and just toss out some examples and then some.

Last year had me contemplating building an ark in which to save myself from the flood of reprocessed films of yore that squirted out of 2011 and 2010 like commercial chicken nugget paste.  And I am not even going to count sequels (there are a ridiculous amount!), prequels, installations, novel-to-screen or adaptations of foreign language films in this.  So, let’s see what that left us: 2011 coughed back up Footloose, Arthur, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Conan the Barbarian, The Three Musketeers, and The Muppets to name a fewThen 2010 reintroduced us to Nightmare on Elm Street, Robin Hood, The Karate Kid, Avatar in 3-D, Grease Sings-A-Long (actually the same flick, but re-released as a sing-a-long…shoot me now!), The Last Exorcism (it’s the same as The Exorcism, but new), I Spit on Your Grave, The Tempest, True Grit, The Crazies (featuring ex-pat fellow blogger and mother of Hot Tub’s BF, Kathryn), and Clash of the Titans.  And upcoming for 2012?  Get excited to re-rendez-vous with modern versions of: Total Recall, Halloween, Spiderman, The Great Gatsby, A Star is Born (The first R movie Hot Damn saw in a theater.  It was 1976.), Les Miserables, Logan’s Run, Dirty Dancing, Anna Karenina, The Crow, King Lear, Mad Max, Frankenweenie…and blah, blah, blah.  This week Reese Witherspoon was asked about a remake of her 1996 movie Fear, starring Justin Bieber.  She responded, “Fine. Great. That would be cool. Would he be playing me or Mark Wahlberg?” reports The Huffington Post.  Love her.

 

But recycling old celluloid and “reimagining” past plot lines isn’t that new.  I accept that updating a black and white movie with people speaking in those stilted 1930s accents opens up an audience base for a great movie to be enjoyed by a younger audience.  But then, the big studios decided to recreate successful TV shows.  I’m sure we’ll all be camping out for the likes of The Three Stooges, Dark Shadows, and most certainly 21 Jump Street this year.  Again, why?  Those shows eventually got cancelled for a reason.  There is also going to be a Glee  movie.  Just yuck.  Then studios twisted Saturday cartoons into big-budget movies like: Yogi Bear, Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Smurfs.  And so many movies based on comic books!  Recently: Batman, The Avengers, Superman, The Green Hornet,  X-Men, Iron Man, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk (what were you thinking Edward Norton?), Captain America and so on.

Last year’s success with 3-D reissues such as Jackass 3-D, Saw 3-D and The Lion King 3-D got studio moguls all kinds of worked up to dust off and tweak “old” money-makers and suck them drier than when they were licensed on Betamax, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, cable, in-flight, on-demand and in some cases to network channels.  Moving into 2012, you can pay an up charge and re-see Titanic 3-D, Finding Nemo 3-D, Beauty and the Beast 3-D, Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 3-D, The Hobbit 3-D, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D.  In discussion are 3-D re-releases of all of the Harry Potter flicks, all of the Lord of the Rings.  On a side note, how long until Vivid Entertainment penetrates this technology?  Ron Jeremy in the glory of 3-D, can you imagine??? 

But Hollywood hadn’t hit bottom yet.  This year will give audiences movies based on dolls; G.I. Joe 2, comes out in June.  Rights have been bought by Relativity Media to base a movie on Stretch Armstrong.  I suspect a story line will explore Stretch being pulled too tight and how the hard, red gel that bursts from his “skin” is contained.  My brothers used Band-Aids.  The sequel will introduce his pal, Stretch Monster, who also oozes red.  It will be a lesson about how we may be different on the outside, but on the inside, we are all made of the same goo.  But wait!  There’s more!  In “oh no, they di’nt” news is the dearth of movies being released inspired by board games.  Not video games like ­Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or Tron and it’s update with a CGI Jeff Bridges (awful, both times!).  I’m talking about the likes of Ouija, based on the banned-at-Church-lock-ins game where a group of girls summon spirits from beyond to answer burning questions like, “When will I get my period?”,  “Has Sonya Adams done ‘it’ yet?”, or “Does Mark Hood like me back?”  No shit.  You’ll have to wait until November 9, 2012 to find out how it all goes down.  In boo-hoo news, Universal Studio has benched plans to make its movie about Clue.  But this is my inspiration for this blog:  Deep breath… 

Sony and Happy Madison have conspired, with the blessings and partnership of Hasbro, to bring to life on the silver screen…wait for it…Candy Land.  Plans have yet to be released referencing follow-ups with Hi Ho Cherry-O and Chutes and Ladders to complete the unholy trinity of the dumbest board games ever to be cinematized.  I am pretty sure that “Hungry, Hungry Hippos” or “Tic-Tac-Toe” would provide more riveting story lines. Worse still is that Adam Sandler intends to both co-write and star in the live-action/adventure-family film.  Mon dieu!  Of the forty four titles he’s acted in, thirty seven he’s produced and seventeen he’s written or co-written, I can vouch for only four…three of which he neither wrote, produced nor developed. 

I should probably consult an entertainment attorney or something first, but I am pumped to announce that I am soliciting to receive funding for a screen-play that I am going to write about sitting in a Cracker Barrel playing the triangle/golf tee game while drinking sweet tea out of a mason jar.  The working title is I Ai’nt no Eg-No-Ra-Moose, I’m Just Plain Dumb.  Cathchy, no?  I will also need to find out whether or not Jim Varney has been cryogenically frozen and if not, I need a contact number for Jesco White.

I’m not jerkin’, you can buy a merkin

19 Jan

Feeling fancy?

I thought about getting snarky about Paula Deen’s outing as a diabetic this week, but it’s kinda already been done to death by other bloggers and Anthony Bourdain. There isn’t much more to be said on the subject. Besides, I couldn’t let this jewel slide past y’all…

Apparently, the merkin business is making a come back. Seriously. Aren’t sure what a merkin is? Did you think I was talking about George W. Bush being proud to be a ‘Merican? No. It’s merkin. Sit down and take a deep one while I explain. Merkins are “pubic wigs” that are documented as being “worn” as far back back as the 1400s by hookers to either a) camouflage STD blisters and lesions on their money-maker or b) cover up a hoo-ha that was shaved to combat crabs and lice. Eew. Nowadays, merkins are occasionally worn by actors or actresses whose roles require a frontal nude scene and they need to either a) skirt around “technical” nudity issues or b) appear more faithful to the era they are portraying. For instance, Evan Rachel Wood smeared on some spirit gum and slapped on a bushy merkin for her role as Veda in the Golden Globe Award winning “Mildred Pierce”. Her 1930s era character, it seems, would not have sported a landing-strip styled coochie.

Flair for your fair

It should be no surprise that a “star” of the “Real Housewives of New York” franchise, Cindy Barshop, is championing today’s merkin revival. Is it ironic that a klassy reality “star” would be pedaling the wares of old, diseased and crusty prostitutes? Not in the least. Barshop owns a waxing salon where she is hawking two varieties of luxury wigs for confused clients. First, they get their downtown lady bits waxed bare and then replace their God-given nether-mane with either a plume of colored feathers, called the “Carnivale” or with a thatch of fox hair, which can be custom dyed. Think baby-doll pink or sky blue. It’s called the “Foxy Bikini”. Be prepared to spend upwards of $200 for this special look, which is touted to typically last about 3 days.

My head mind is swimming. It has just never occurred to me to get that kind of spiffy down there. Certainly, a lavender fox pelt is much less aggressive than some other recent trends in tootie grooming. The fetish community goes wild for piercings and tattoos down there. One of my favorite moments from “The Jerk” is when Steve Martin’s Navin R. Johnson is recounting Patty’s tattoos and pointing to his crotch says, “And she’s got one up here that says ‘slippery when wet’!” For the less committed, there are temporary tattoos that can be applied for some kinky flair.

Another trend that I find to be a real head scratcher is Vajazzling. This is the professional application of clear and colored Swarovski crystals in designs to accent the no-no place. Of course, if you are good with tweezers and a mirror, you could get one of the DIY kits. The results should last about 5 days. Looking at the company’s official website, it is noted that one may choose to Vajazzle because, “For some people, vajazzling is just about feeling good while others have significant reasons to go for the bling, which may include coping with a terrible break up or getting back the lost attention of your partner.” I can’t imagine that I would even want to regain the attention of a partner who is only lured in by shiny objects. Are these sad women sleeping with The Situation?

Apparently some men are also glamming their ham. Dudes could also sport a merkin, though I think that the “Carnivale” could be a bit tricky, looking more like a crazed mutant peacock and less like a festival. Vajazzing is not sexist.

Pucker up, Man!

It’s Goop that lets you know you’re alive!

13 Jan

If you scanned my brain from a satellite in space while I am sitting in carpool or as I am handing my coupons over to the grocery cashier, you might pick up the refrain from The Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” swirling through my grey matter. Remember? The drone of , “Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was…Letting the days go by, letting the days go by, letting the days go by.” Sometimes I get too gelled into my family’s daily routine or hyper-focused in whatever I am working on at the moment and stuff just runs together and turns into mental white noise. I wouldn’t say that I move through the days numb, that would be Sad Housewife territory, but it can lean towards being a little flat Monday through Friday. This isn’t unique to me and different people have developed different strategies to keep them looking forward and from stalling out. A lot of type-A personalities lean toward high-risk leisure activities like sky-diving, snow boarding or day trading to feel invigorated. Middle-age men play World of Warcraft, Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty for a healthy change of pace. Moody teenage girls listen to Nine Inch Nails and cut themselves on their thigh to find out if they still feel anything. Me? I subscribe to Gwyneth Paltrow’s blog, Goop. I’ve discussed it before, here. It comes right to my inbox once a week. I scroll through it and feel like sticking a screw-driver in my ear. My intelligence feels insulted, I’m outraged by how detached a person can be and yet so self-righteous about it, I am overcome with a smug every-man superiority and feel proud that I am able to function in a world that 99.9999% of my peers can understand.

Briefly, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, Goop is Gwyneth’s way of sharing her really amazing talents and resources with us common people, so that we can learn how to create and live a clean, holistic, green and fabulous life that is spilling over with wonder, nurture and growth. Just like Gwyneth does. (Insert smile, head tilt and chirping birds here) Gwyneth gives us great gift ideas, guides us in how to shop for ourselves, exposes us to the coolest of cool stuff that we wouldn’t otherwise know about and now won’t be able to live without. She teaches us craft projects and lets us in on some of her best travel secrets from all of the really amazing places that she gets to visit. Gwyneth knows where to shop, eat and stay practically everywhere!

One of Gwyneth's totally great suggestions

But, best of all, Gwyneth shows us the path to being better citizens of the planet and dispenses lots of directions in regards to mending medical ailments and proper nutrition.

Judging by my Goop-o-Meter, 2012 is going to be a banner year for feeling alive and the one where I come to discover that Gwyneth and I are like identical cousins. Last week, Gwyneth told us that the start of new year is a great time to give our digestive systems a break, reset our bodies and get an energetic boost by engaging in a 21-day cleanse program, proceeded by 3 days of preparation and 7 days of reintroduction. See, according to Gwyneth, our digestive tract gets clogged with toxic sludge and other debris is trapped in the folds of our intestine. It then leeches into our cells and blood. Yikes, y’all! It makes us irritable, have bad skin and we feel sluggish. We need to heal ourselves and poop out all of the bad mojo. For a mere $425 (includes free 2 day shipping! Can you say, “what a deal?”), we’ll get protein powder, supplements, a manual and access to an online community of other people who have or are currently cleansing, too! And the best part is that we get to have an actual lunch each day that we will make ourselves from ingredients we already have on hand at home like hemp milk, carob powder, wild game, blue-green algae, teff, nama shoy and plenty of sea vegetables. Done, done and done!

Yep.

Thank heavens I had a new Goop in my inbox yesterday, because I’ve really been thinking about how to get my kids turned on to eating these new, clean foods too. Because she is all-knowing, Gwyneth anticipated that a lot of us plebs would be needing some kid-friendly recipes. And boy-howdy, did she deliver! Snakebite and Hot Tub’s mouths are positively watering for “Baked Salmon, Cauli and Capers” because really, what kid isn’t crazy for capers? And I’m going to have to find out if I can freeze the “Nori Handrolls”. You can bet that sheets of seaweed filled with the likes of beetroot and mung are going to be in high demand at my house! Did I tell you that Gwyneth knows what she’s doing or what? She is the sage of my generation, my Ravi Shankar.

I think it’s great that Gwyneth is starting the year off with a cleanse…because she is so full of shit.

File under “Special Interest”

12 Jan

There is a new Facebook fan page called “Beautiful and Bald Barbie!  Let’s see if we can get it made”.  A couple of mothers have started a “movement” to urge toy maker Mattel Inc. to manufacture a shiny pated Barbie to promote awareness of childhood cancer and acceptance among young girls who have been afflicted by the disease.  Social network activists Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham believe young girls grappling with hair loss due to cancer treatments, Alopecia or Trichotillomania will find comfort and inspiration by a late 1980s Sinead O’Connor styled Barbie.  I am pausing and taking a breath before I proceed.  Inhale.  Hold it.  Exhale.  Okay…go.

As a kid I played with Barbie and her friends, including “Growing up Skipper” whose breasts would magically “grow” when you wound her arm around like she was getting ready play fast-pitch softball.  I would braid my Barbie dolls’ hair, put it in a chignon and sometimes I would make Barbie a brunette with a chocolate scented Mr. Sketch marker.

"I'm mad at my parents" Barbie

I even made one Barbie punk with a spiked mohawk.  I used scissors to clean up the sides and Elmer’s Glue for the lift in the middle.  Ken wasn’t fooled.  He thought Barbie looked like a cross between a back-up dancer from Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield” video and a mall food-court poser.  Eventually, her mohawk got bent and I took my scissors out again, creating what was essentially the Ghost of Britney Spears’ Future.  I had myself a “Skinhead Barbie”.

Of course, Cancer Joe will likely lose his beard, too

Getting in on the esteem-building-bald-doll action is the spirit of the same people who made wuss boy doll “My Buddy” happen in 1985.  Suggestions that there should also be a bald G.I. Joe are now on the table so that young boys will have a cancer doll, too.  Inhale.  Hold it.  Exhale.  WTF?  Firstly, when I was a kid, G.I. Joe had a flocked Sergeant Carter buzz cut that was pretty darn close to bald.  Anything more and he would have been mistaken as a Kojak action figure.  Secondly, if G.I. Joe were suffering from chemotherapy induced hair loss, I would hope to hell that the military would excuse him from active duty and let him convalesce at his hometown V.A. hospital.  On a side note, would he come with a camo hospital gown?

Barbie wannabe Jenny Lee

Don’t get me wrong, because I do get it: the idea to give kids a doll that they can identify with, but…Barbie?  I thought that “modern and liberated” women hated Barbie exactly because she stands for everything that is physically unidentifiable or attainable for girls. “Real” women and little girls don’t grow up to look like Barbie and so what “she” exudes is a false sense of what is appropriate beauty, or something like that. Were Barbie to be sprinkled with magic toy dust and become a living girl, she’d be 6’0”, weigh in at 100 lbs and wear a size 4.  With measurements of 39″/19″/33″ she would have to come with a kick stand to keep from toppling over.  I don’t care if it’s “African-American Trial Attorney Barbie”, “Pan-Asian Scientist Barbie” or even “Old-School WASP Stewardess Barbie”, no little girl will ever attain Barbie’s solid rack or high check bones without being injected with Mattel Inc.’s plastic.  And forget a college fund; to identify with Barbie, she’ll need a weave fund. Once “Cancer Barbie” goes into remission, you can bet your sweet ass that her coif will be long, strong and goin’ on.  And you can snap that down in a Z.  Personally, I think that if I were a little girl with cancer, “Cancer Barbie” would hit a nerve.  “Mommy, why is bald “Cancer Barbie” smiling, looking great and playing tennis, but I feel like crap?”

Now, I know that this could evolve into a clever fund-raising idea, and maybe Mattel Inc. will eventually come out with a Chemo Barbie that will be packaged in a pink box and sold in October.  And if they do, I hope they would make her realistic, something that little girl cancer patients actually could relate to, with sores in her mouth, brittle bones, a port site, gaunt, and pissed off.  Oh, and then they could sell her with some accessories, like a freezer full of casseroles, that Barbie doesn’t have any appetite for, from Barbie’s well-meaning friends.  There could be a collection of turbans, a pulp kidney dish and a Snuggie for those “sofa days”.

Despite the grassroots excitement being generated on Facebook, Mattel Inc. issued a letter that they do not take suggestions from outside sources.  Hasbro Inc, the makers of G.I. Joe, has issued no comment.  The truth is that if either manufacturer gets invested in this, then every special interest group is going to want their own Barbie mascot.  First on the list would be a call out for a LGBT Barbie/Ken mash-up.  Can you imagine?  Barbie’s body and Ken’s hands and feet.

"Midtown Kandy"

My inner music snob was murdered today

11 Nov

Have you heard of Zumba? If you haven’t been sleepless at 2am and seen the infomercials about the latest “fitness craze” that is sweeping the nation, well, it’s a fitness craze that’s sweeping the nation. In fact, you don’t even have to buy a Zumba instruction system to do at home, you can assuredly find a class somewhere in your neighborhood. I did. The Zumba people tout it as “an exhilarating, effective, easy-to-follow, Latin-inspired, calorie-burning dance fitness-party™” A party? At 8:30 in the morning? I am so totally in.

There was no sangria nor ceviche and chips at this party. What there was in high supply was old white women in Lycra pants and reinforced sports bras that were all ready to shake it. And shake it they did. The class was taught by a young black fella, whom I am guessing is sassy as hell. That, btw, is code for gay. He’s a hoot, and he’s kind and patient, but he is still a fitness instructor and that means he is secretly trying to break me so he can talk about it later. I would absolutely love to hear his recap to his friends at Blake’s this weekend about all of the crazy white housewives with no choreography.

A little background is that I have no rhythm and no coordination. None. I tried to get in on the aerobics craze in the 1980s. It seemed so fun in movies like Perfect, starring a pre-Scientology John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis. Or what about Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” video? How great did she look with that headband and spandex get-up? I started by getting Jane Fonda’s Workout, which I did in the basement during a summer. My dad came home for lunch one day and came downstairs to let me know he was there. He took a quizzical look at me all sweaty and red, then glanced at what I was looking at on the TV. Then he completely popped a gasket, lost any couth he had and started yelling about “that GD-Hanoi Jane-Communist-bleep-bleep-NOT IN MY HOUSE-bleep-bleep-Damnit to Hell!” Tom had been in Vietnam. He wasn’t fonda Jane. And that was that. The next time I tried aerobics was five years later in a class at a health club. During the warm up, I fell and sprained my ankle. I quit. Why bother?

But this Zumba thing is a fitness p-a-r-t-y and I do like parties. In my head, I was picturing Jazzercise for the 21st Century, but while listening to Stan Getz, Joao Gilberto and Sergio Mendes. There would be confetti cannons and a lot of spontaneous trilling of tongues. Those Latin countries are known for bringing the fun! Um, no. This was NOT my mother’s Brazil. What happened in place of a little slice of Carnivale? My inner music snob was murdered today and replaced with an out of shape middle-aged mom who doesn’t have it goin’ on half as much as I thought I did. I was put to shame by “mature women”, some twice my age, who could hip flick, shimmy, bootie-shake, plus do arm movements all while jumping up and down to Gloria Estefan, Rihanna, and Maroon 5. The final blow to my self-esteem came when I was limply shaking my flacid groove thang to the Backstreet Boys. This was happening in public. Heck, I couldn’t have tongue trilled if I wanted to…I could hardly breathe! I drank all of my water bottle and smelled like the boy’s middle school locker room when it was all over.

But, I think that I’ll go back…at least I didn’t break anything! That, and I just can’t bear the thought of going to Curves yet.

Car flair can stick it

22 Sep

More observations from the road

If Snakebite were allowed to cuss, which she is not, this is what she would have said to me on a recent road trip, “Mom, what in the hell is with all of the shit people put on their cars?”  Because I am raising her to be a lady (uh-huh) she instead asked, “What’s with all the car flair?”  Living in an area where private schools are numerous, country clubs are abundant and people like to throw money at whoever is running for office, we are used to seeing a lot of bumper stickers.  Now, I have always thought that this cleverly served a three prong purpose: first, all of the school annual fund support stickers keep meddling mothers off your back in the carpool line.  That sticker lets people know you’ve done your part and so you can move on to chatting about something more important than the school’s scholarship kitty or the endowment fund, like who’s gotten bad lip injections or where to download DSW coupons.  Secondly, “The Club” membership sticker lets potential car-jackers know that you have a mean backhand, a nine iron under the front seat and are damn near close to broke after paying tuition at aforementioned school on top of monthly dues.  That Club sticker says, “I got nothing to lose, so bring it!”  And lastly, the political campaign sticker tells state troopers that you are connected and you will likely weasel out of paying off any speeding ticket; that even pulling you over for a finger wagging is an exercise in futility.

But Snakebite pointed out all this other stuff and before I knew what was happening it seemed like every car we saw had some sort of gratuitous crap on it beyond the 1980’s Baby on Board hold over, that smug “Coexist” one or bragging rights for a seven-year old honor student.  If your seven-year old isn’t an honor student, I will pray for you.  You know when I’ll be impressed?  When that sticker says “My child graduated magna cum laude from Princeton and I didn’t have to pay a dime.”

Just gag

We were particularly struck by the silliness of the giant rear window monograms.  I admit to loving having my stuff engraved or embroidered.  My brother, Chris, thinks that this is total bourgeois behavior, but I have to disagree.  It’s practical…it’s the time-tested upper-crust version of masking tape with your name written in Sharpie.  When babies all look alike and have the same smocked outfit on in the Church nursery, it is a much more genteel way to keep up with which one is yours.  And how many times have I left a cake server somewhere and had it returned because my scrolly letters were on the handle?  Well, actually never, but it would be true if I were forgetful enough to leave it some place.  But on a car?  Why?  Doesn’t it beep when you press your key?  Isn’t your license plate really just a Government Issue personalization…and it’s metal and one of a kind, not like that die-cut plastic peel-and-stick thing.  We give this two thumbs down and a frowny face.

Aww...just precious

And then there are the stick figures…we’d seen those before, but this was a new twist.  They have been flaired further by having team logos on their tiny t-shirts.  Puh-leeease!  Dork squared.

If only my car had a lapel...

‘Member when Hollywood slobbered all over AIDS awareness and introduced us to the red lapel ribbon?  Then breast cancer awareness took it on in pink and it snowballed from there.  I really couldn’t say which color is for what group, until now.  Thanks to magnetic car ribbons with the cause written on it, I can keep up.

However, not all car flair is on the body of the car.  A lot of people like cutesy antennae ornaments like this…

Punk rock car

Then there are people who have considered the body of their car, hog or truck an actual body and have made it anatomically correct.  That’s nucking futs!  May I present the best of the best?

Hot Tub made this truck writhe in pain by administering a swift kick

They are sold under many names, but Truck Nutz is the original.  They come in array of colors, including brass and chrome.  Some brands have kinky chains attached.  Despite my kids thinking they were hilarious, they are fairly controversial.  A case is going forward to trial in South Carolina sometime this month to neuter this novelty accessory.  States like Tennessee, Florida, Virginia and Maryland have tried to have them banned in the past on the grounds of indecency.  That’s especially ironic for Florida.  Letting your truck’s sack hang is you First Amendment right for the freedom of expression.  But just to be on the safe side, I’m ordering mine in camo.

Undercover ballz

Sky Mall fuels the U.S. economy; everything is fine

13 Jul

More and more I am starting to think that this whole busted economy scare might just be a big fat lie.  Sure I keep seeing houses for sale, darkened high-rise buildings at night, abandoned construction sites and increasing unemployment percentages that all seemingly point to a problem.  However, I have also noted that everyone has a smart phone filled with Akon ringtones, huge Louis Vuitton bags, and the masses spent over 20 million dollars on seeing Zookeeper last weekend.  But the most damning evidence that we are being hoodwinked is this:  Sky Mall Magazine.

In the event that you haven’t flipped through the barf bag/instruction pocket at your seat while on an airplane, Sky Mall is THE in-flight catalog for you to pour through while your body dehydrates, your oxygen mix is wonky and you are captive at 30,000 ft.  This rag has some of the most useless unique items for sale and I think that there is a reason why you only are seeing them while you are in a metal capsule being propelled through the air.  For instance, check this out…

What happened to our garden gnome?

The Easter Island Monolith Sculptures from $350-$995  If you are trying to thwart tweaking home invaders, by confusing them as to whether they are creeping around a subdivision in the sticks or in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, this is the lawn art for you.  The only question I can think of is whether I’ll be displaying this in the front yard, out back by the septic tank or next to the above-ground pool.  And thank you Sweet Jesus for this next item…

Three thousand dollar time saver

The Armada 20 Winder Pro $2,999.95  I just have no time on my hands anymore, because I am always burdened with having to make sure that my twenty automatic winding watches are constantly wound.  I like for my timepieces to be accurate.  Once I have this unnecessary piece at my disposal, I can’t imagine getting off of a long flight and wanting to spend my found time in this…

Jerk in a box

The Hide-Away Foot and Body Personal Infrared Sauna $499  This box for one is supposed to help boost your body’s immunity system by heating up to 107 degrees in just ten minutes.  This is not for anyone with fears about being closed in a tissue dispenser.  I am pretty sure that it is just a box with a deluxe hot lamp in it.  Think of it as a glorified Easy Bake Oven for people.  Maybe it’s just what I need after getting hassled by TSA.  After chillaxing in the hot box, I might want something cold to drink, but I may not be able to lift my arms after the infrared therapy session.  Good thing Sky Mall also offers this for sale…

If only I could find a place to set my drink

Armadillo Beverage Holder $29.95  It’s not even a koozie.  It’s made of hard, painted plastic and doesn’t do anything to maintain temperature for a cold beverage.  Why?  Why would I need this?  Maybe, the armadillo is meant to make me mindful of what my face could look like if I don’t take care of myself.  That’s when I’ll remember to order this…

A face gym

FaceTrainer by no!no! $149  Truthfully, I just want this because it makes me think of something a lucha libre wrestler would wear if she were worried about sagging skin and being fabulous.  That’s a big if.  I would have bought it yesterday if it came in pink with butterflies and starburst adornments.

This stuff is for sale because there is a demand for it.  None of these items could possibly be filed under “needs”.  That only leads me to conclude that people have scads of money that they don’t know what to with.  And you know what that means?  It means that there is clearly a surplus of disposable income.  Sky Mall is doing its part to provide tantalizing items to keep the market stimulated.  If you still aren’t convinced, I will share this with you…

Dumb, smug butler

Butler Tissue Holder $99.99  If the country was in a state of economic depression, would anyone buy this?  This nearly two feet tall resin statue is touted as function art because it holds a roll of potty paper in front, while cleverly concealing a spare roll under its hat.  Oh, and did you catch that it’s a butler?  I’d think that was klassy, if its shirt actually fit.  Also note that “he” his holding his nose, a suggestion that your poop does, in fact, stink.  Or is that the economy he smells?

T-shirts…they’re back and they’re cool

7 Jul

But this shirt looks so new.

Remember when t-shirts were a novelty?  Your worn out t-shirt proved that you went to a concert, played on a team, attended that college (even if you didn’t graduate) or were loyal to a brand or institution.  At the very least you well knew someone who did or was…and all you got was a dumb t-shirt.  The point is that somehow you were connected to whatever it was to get the tee.  As a teen, my t-shirt wardrobe wasn’t huge because t-shirts didn’t fall into the category of “things my parents want to pay for”.  My favorite t-shirts went with me to college and were so soft and thin that they looked better suited to wiping grease off a wrench or stuffing a drainpipe.

At some point silk-screening technology, cheap Chinese manufacturing and the Internet came together in a poly/cotton three way that exploded into a tee-gasm that is still reeling with aftershocks.  I first noticed it’s infancy in the gas station, Mr. B.’s, which was just off campus from my college.  Next to the oscillating hotdog heating contraption, the pot of thick black coffee and a shelf of Dolly Madison pies (just typing the name makes my fingers feel diabetic) was a little rack of joke t-shirts.  All the captions sounded like something Dilbert would say if he was high…”A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work”, “S.S.D.D. – Same Shit, Different Day” or “Free Mustache Rides”.  On the other side of the t-shirts were primary colored foam trucker hats atop a turn-style of bumper stickers that said stuff like: “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for”, “My other car is a Porsche” or, my favorite: “Ex-wife in trunk”.  I’ve never had an ex-wife, but if I did, I’d keep her in my trunk, too.

I've been shot by a horse, I'm bleeding...t-shirt!

Next came an avalanche of just giving away t-shirts.  Of course, they were usually all polyester.  Gross, but free.  You’d go get your car washed; they’d give you a t-shirt.  Go to a fraternity mixer, leave with a commemorative party t-shirt (usually designed by one of the more creative brothers).  Open a savings account at the bank; check off a new t-shirt.  Ball parks even bought special t-shirt cannons to blast freebies into the crowd.  And my favorite t-shirt give-aways were from the bail bondsmen near all universities.  When you would go make bail for a friend who was sobering up in the drunk-tank figuring out how they were going to spin a D.U.I. to Mom and Dad, the bondsman would give you a consolation prize t-shirt for the accused.  If they were wearing said t-shirt the next time they were arrested (because let’s face it, that first D.U.I. is just a gateway arrest), the bond company would cover a cool $50 of that resulting bail ticket.

I know that my liver has been very, very naughty

When Big Daddy and I were strolling La Rambla in Barcelona last month, I pointed out that I had seen maybe three different Spanish kids in two days wearing Black Flag tour t-shirts circa 1986.  Black Flag was a SoCal hardcore punk band popular in the way back.  WTF?  Then Big Daddy said that Barcelona was the hippest city just based on all the t-shirts and that he was going to go on www.threadless.com when we got home and have one made that says, “My t-shirt is cooler than your t-shirt”.  And that’s when it hit me that I could just let go of all of my see through and holey t-shirts because I can just order new ones.  I don’t have to “ be there” to get it.  I don’t even need to be in the right year or even on the right continent.

Pretty much everything is destined for a re-issue, and that includes t-shirts.  “Vintage” t-shirts sales are thriving.  There are not too many things that can fall under “collector’s item” anymore.  Artwork is photographed and stored on disk, someone will download a concert to an mp3 for sharing within hours of the curtain falling, Disney re-releases everything and the Franklin Mint replicates their own replicas.  With mass production, ordering from home and FedEx, it’s not easy to buy something unique anymore.  With everyone having access to a new jersey sleeved Van Halen 1984 tour shirt with the stroke of a keyboard, the joke shirts are back.  But now they are intellectual and/or ironic.  Look out Americans, because right now they are huge in Europe.  Unlike other American exports like David Hasseloff and Jerry Lewis, these will make a successful comeback here at home.  You’re already seeing them on teenage hipsters and trust-fund deadbeats, but when your mother shows up to the family Labor Day party wearing this you’ll know I’m right…

Everything old is new again...even Grandma!

Thank me later: travel tips

30 Jun

I have always had a personal rule against weaving anything into conversation that could be found printed on a mug in the Cracker Barrel “gift shop” or found stitched on a hat sold next to a five gallon jar of pig’s feet.  I’ve got standards.  Sue me.  But I know that every rule has an exception and I have recently discovered mine.  Recently, when asked about our family trip via cruise ship in the Mediterranean, what rushed out of my throat was, “I need a vacation from my vacation.”  Did I really say that?  Yep.  And I meant it too.  There was not trace of irony on my tongue.

Remember that movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles with Steve Martin and the late John Candy?  Things went screwy.  In the end, it was heart-warming and everyone learned something about patience, giving up control and finding forgiveness.  Well, if this movie were being remade today, which, thanks to Hollywood’s shortage of original ideas, is high on the probability-o-meter, and starred my family it would be called Planes, Trains, Automobiles, Boats, Donkeys, ATVs and Wheelchairs.

I am still absorbing it all and can’t possibly recap it in just one or two posts.  Instead of forcing you to sift through what would amount to a voluminous slide show, I am just going to begin by imparting some lessons learned during our inaugural trip of the summer.  It should be noted that the last time I left home for this long with suitcases and multiple stops, there were no babies on board.

The first stop of our 18-day “vacation” was Venice, Italy.  It’s beautiful and old.  It looks every bit like what you have imagined from movies and postcards.  Yes, there really are no cars there.  And yes, there really are canals everywhere with a jillion bridges that were all built hundreds of years before any sort of Disabilities Acts and inclusive building codes had been thought of and imposed.  And those bridges aren’t smooth ADA ramps.  There are cobbled steps.  Lot’s of them.  And the hotel where you might stay if you are visiting Venice…it doesn’t have an elevator or ramp of any kind either.  Don’t go if you are gimpy.

Rule 1  Pack as few bags as possible.  If at any point during your “vacation” you are going to be handling your own baggage, rethink what you are taking with you.  Pull a page from the Johnny Cash fashion chronicle and just pack a few black separates.  Consider exploring going commando, too.

We make a habit of traveling with another family.  It is great for us and for our kids to be with someone else.  Odds are favorable that because we travel together we will be doing all of our excursions together too.  That means that when it’s good it’s great and when it’s bad, you are ganged up on by double the kids.  There is a lot to see that kids may not think is too thrilling.  There is a lot of walking involved in getting from one boring Church to another boring Church.  Oh, and it’s hot.

Rule 2  At least a month before departure, cross-train your kids.  Go for long walks after dinner.  Break in new shoes.  Make them carry stuff up and down the stairs at home.  Turn off the AC on the weekends.  Give them a water allowance.  Trust me.  In fact, just go all Lou Gosset Jr. and boot camp the hell out of the kids.  It’s bad enough to hear them complain about regular stuff, don’t give aching muscles, side stitches and blistery feet a chance to enter into the mix.

If you are a regular reader of HDCA, you know that I am “aware” of potties.  This is by no means a fetish, but I do appreciate a nice bathroom.  Unfortunately, outside of the US and Japan, I am set up for disappointment.  It is ironic that a continent that values having bidets in any dwelling, puts up with what passes in public.  I will say that Europe has gotten a little more together as far as tissue is concerned, but that has been the only advance that I can speak of.  Thank God for small miracles, right?

Rule 3  Cross-train your bladder.  The only way that you are going to get through the day without the heaves is to limit the amount of time you spend in any restroom outside of your hotel room.  The solution is not to limit your fluid intake.  That would lead to dehydration.  That would be bad.  Simply put, you gotta learn how to hold it.  Don’t be fooled by the “pay-for” public restrooms.  They are worse than the others.  And on a side note for the ladies:  You will not find a purse hook in any WC.  Learn to do the hover with purse straps around your head.  It’s harder than you think and requires practice.  While the kids are doing stair drills in their cross training, you might do well to practice squats with a weight yoked around your neck.  Those strong quads will be your friend.

Because we were gone for so long and good advice, like what I am giving you, is gleaned from hindsight, we had a lot of luggage: five suitcases, four carry-on bags and two purses.  Too much luggage.  See Rule 1.  Do not let any part of your stash ride shot-gun with the cab driver.

Rule 4 Chain yourself to your bags.  At the very least, make a kid sit in the taxi until everything has been removed and counted from the car.  Believe me, no driver is going to inadvertently take off with a sweaty kid whose itouch has lost its charge.  My carry on continues to be staying out late and making friends in Barcelona, long after I have returned home.

My last tid-bit is the most important.  It is my new mantra and one that I just might have stitched on a trucker hat or screened onto a mug:

Rule 5  Buy Travel Insurance.  Things can go wrong.  Things can also go horribly wrong.  You could end up admitted in a Sicilian hospital for five nights, for example, where no one speaks English.  Worse still, it could happen to your child.  You could need to get somewhere afterwards.  One day it might be funny, but in the thick of it…not so hilarious. And it will probably never be funny if you are still figuring out how to come up with tens of thousands of dollars that just weren’t in the plan.  Regular health insurance will cover you at Wally World or the Grand Canyon, but it usually doesn’t cross international borders.  If you are taking a passport, take out a policy.  Trust me.  And for extra giggles, find out everyone’s weight in kilograms.

Hot Prom Queen: menopause edition

23 May

Do you mind if we dance with yo' dates?

Last week I read something that made my blood run cold.  Apparently, there is a growing faction of sad, sad people who are participating in “adult proms”.   The idea is that grown, married women and men have somehow realized that they missed something meaningful in their teen years and it’s high time they rewrite history and relive prom.  It’s known as a second chance dance.  I’d rather stab myself in the eye with a rusty fork.  Inspired by their own children’s high school dances, these middle aged desperatos are shining in a community center strewn with crepe paper garlands, balloon arches, pin lights and lime sherbet ginger-ale punch.   This movement will be translated into an unscripted show on TLC in five…four…three…two…

So why do I care?  Have I mentioned my day job?  I work at the apparel market in a wholesale showroom that specializes in Prom, Bridal, Pageant and Special Occasion costume jewelry.  Yes, I sell tiaras and scepters coated in crystals.  The entire complex is just known as “The Mart” and it is only open to the trade.  Our wholesale clients are generally focused, professional and easy to work with.  They know what they like, what sells and are pretty low maintenance.  They are in and out.  However, there are about five showrooms in The Mart that will notoriously call in passes for any jack wagon that wants to come in and sniff around.  These are people who want a retail shopping experience and think nothing of trashing displays, trying to negotiate prices and demanding your full attention.  In our showroom, we call these people Brides.  When they are under seventeen we call them prom-dates.  Mon Dieu!  What is going to happen when these two personalities meld?  You put your wedding in my prom!  You put your prom in my wedding!  Two great tastes?  Me thinks not.

Hey Dan!

The boy I was dating towards the end of my senior year in high school went to a different school than me, so I went to two different proms in 1988.  I don’t remember it being such a BFD back then.  I bought my dress off the rack less than a week before hand, a pair of died to match satin pumps at Fayva (oh yes, I did!), got my jewelry at a vintage shop in Little 5 Points and we had dinner at home.  The whole notion of a professional up-do and make-up, combined with chauffeured limousines and a dinner reservation made by someone’s mom just seemed manufactured and goofy.  But times have changed…

Prom season 2011 saw girls spending upward of a thousand of Daddy’s dollars on dress, jewelry, hair, tanning and hopefully, birth control.   And wedding garb?  I regularly talk to brides who spend between seven and ten thousand dollars just on the dress and veil.  So what happens when you have a grown woman who wants to recreate an imaginary hallmark event that has been gnawing at her for years?  She never went to her prom and her wedding was a quickie shotgun affair.  This is going to be THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF HER LIFE again!  This is keeping me up at night.  Can you imagine helping a grown woman shop for her prom jewelry?

Can I get change from my Big Mac?

12 May

Guess who’s getting a face-lift and a whole body tuck?  No, this isn’t about Chaz Bono’s appearance on Oprah this week.  It’s bigger.

Everything is changing!

Give up?  It’s McDonalds.  That’s right, the fast food Godfather is ditching the red tile roofs and its iconic golden arches in favor of a more upscale, contemporary look.  I remember years ago hearing about a “study” that discovered that the McDonald’s arches were the third most recognizable symbol in the world, after the Christian cross and the Coca-Cola logo.  I don’t recall which came in first.  Um, wow.

The universal sign for fast food

But the transformation isn’t just on the exterior.  Mickey D’s has been doing some serious soul searching and some “inside work”, too.  That therapy bill is going to invoice for around a cool billion dollars and change.  That grody rust colored tile floor with the mildew concealing black grout is being replaced by wood floors or travertine look tiles.  Buh-bye laminate everything and hello to lounge chairs, coffee tables, farm tables and faux leather seats.  The alarming primary scheme of red and yellow is being replaced by calming neutrals with punches of color here and there.  Think Starbucks with burgers.  They even offer free Wi-Fi.

McDonald’s has gotten a tough rap in the past few years.  Ever read Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser?  Not a great marketing tool.  Ditto Martin Spurlock’s eye opening documentary, Super Size Me.  The public reaction was akin to the aftermath of Upton Sinclair’s explosive novel, The Jungle, which lifted the curtain on the unregulated meat packing industry at the beginning of the twentieth century.  So, the muckety-mucks at the tippity-top have made menu changes, too.  The salad offerings are more, there are grilled chicken options, apple wedges and even oatmeal.  Their coffee ain’t bad neither.

I gotta say, my neighborhood McDonald’s has already been retooled and…I’m lovin’ it.  Starbuck’s can be fucked out for me.  I like being able to go in there and write my blog, have a coffee and maybe a nibble.  But my coffee is $4 and the muffin offerings are high fat and high calorie.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re great tasting, but I need to eat that kind of thing while shackled to a treadmill, not sitting in a comfy chair.  At McDonald’s I can get a drink and a low-fat yogurt for about $2.  And I can always find a seat or a table to spread out at.

Mimes in McDonald's?

The downside is that they play that new-age Musak replacement stuff that sounds like ambient yoga jazz.  Take your iPod lest you start thinking someone is going to offer you a glass of cucumber water and introduce your masseuse.  I am also a bit concerned that the higher-ups may get carried away with this rebranding and trade in Ronald McDonald for something more sophisticated, like a mime.  That would be bad.

I’d like to see the old guard make a come back.  Of course, they would need to be in sustainable hemp jumpers and TOMS shoes.

Flav’s Fried Chicken: tastes like failure

26 Apr

Winner, winner? Not so much...

I’ve got some bad news for those of you who have been planning your summer vacation around a road trip to Clinton, Iowa to eat at the flagship Flav’s Fried Chicken.  Just four months after its grand opening, FCC has turned off the fryer and closed its front door.  Moment of silence.  And as for those hundreds more Flav’s Fried Chicken restaurants that were planned as franchising opportunities?  I know, I know.  Pour a little of your forty on the ground for respect.

You might ask, “How could a fried chicken joint in an old Long John Silver’s, helmed by this smart dude in the middle of nowhere, fail?”

Yeah boyeee!

A couple of months ago there were reports that employee’s paychecks were bouncing.  Flav said it wasn’t true and that those employees were just “haters” who were more or less just jealous that Flav was there.  Or they were hatin’ on him for being fired.  Either way.  One report said there was just a glitch in the credit software, or something.   Even the system was hatin’.  But not Flav.  He was keepin’ it real.

And certainly, it wasn’t the innovative concept of fried chicken that didn’t deliver.  According to Flavor Flav, his  business partner, Nick Cimino, may have not been entirely on the ball.  Say’s Flav, “Let me be straight up with you, I went up inside there on April 2nd and I found potato salad that expired on February 28.”  Yes, he said “went up inside there”, like he was conducting a cavity search for something rancid and scored.  Eew!

Tater salad

However, Cimino claims that Flavor Flav is a fraud.  I can’t imagine how on earth he could have misrepresented himself to be anything other than this…

Business man Flavor Flav

Bacon is the new black

21 Apr

Bacon has got to have the best publicist and marketing team ever.  Despite being an evil red meat that’s overwhelmingly fatty, loaded with salt and usually laden with a boatload of cancer inducing nitrates… the populace has gone whole hog for bacon.  That stuff is showing up everywhere!  It used to be that the only bacon inspired thing in the market place was Bac-os; the bacon flavored gravel that dieters pour on plain baked potatoes to fake themselves out.  (It works because you end up chipping or cracking your teeth trying to eat that crap.) And of course we’ve been enjoying the plays of Francis Bacon and the cinema proliferation of Kevin Bacon for years.  But they are alone no more.  Everywhere you look you can find a slice of bacon related merchandise.  But it’s not just the savory, salty deliciousness of bacon that’s getting all the attention.  No, now you can smell it, drink it and wrap yourself in it whenever the mood strikes. When you want to smell like your favorite food from the inside out, there is now Bacon cologne.  I have a mental picture in my mind of spritzing my pulse points and then stepping out get the morning paper.  Cut the camera to me being chased up and down the street by a pack of neighborhood cats and dogs to the strains of Yakety Sax.  Perfumer, John Leydon, insists and that his unisex fragrance is very wearable and that you really have to be right up on someone to catch the bacony whiff.  Just the same, I think that I’ll stick with Chanel No. 5.

Initially I was grossed out to the max over the bastardization that is bacon vodka and then I thought about how good it would be in Bloody Mary.  Mmm, bacon.  To be fair, as of press time, I haven’t actually had a bacontini or any other bacon libation.  However, one time my friend, Jackson, made Skittles vodka.  It smelled fruity and divine, but still managed to taste nothing like a rainbow and everything like rubbing alcohol.  I have to wonder if even bacon is strong enough to bust through the isopropyl wall.  If you want to make your own bacon vodka, check the “recipe” here.  Seems like a lot of work.  I have done my time with home distillery.  Remember my Boarding School Bordeaux?  Just go to your local package store and ask for Bakon Vodka to get started in screwing your liver and your cholesterol in tandem.There is no shortage of bacon-flavored candy, either.  This seems to most likely be the brainchild of Asians, who are known for creating confections that taste like seaweed, dry fish or beans.  Candy should be sweet.  Bacon candy is wrong.  Well, except for Vosage’s “Mo’s Bacon Bar”.  Chocolate and bacon should get married.

But not all bacon fans are about taste and aroma.  For many, bacon is a look.  How else could you explain using bacon bandages?  There is something a little whimsical about covering an open wound with something that looks like slimy, raw meat.

And like any fad, fashion follows.  Pot smokers, wear hemp when they can’t fire one up.  Acid-heads like staring at the trippy patterns and colors of tie-dyed anything.  Gym rats wear those low-crotch cotton genie pants and muscle shirts out to dinner.  Unless you’re Lady Gaga, and thank God you aren’t, being a bacon lover and wearing a suit of cured meat just doesn’t work.  But how do you advertise that you love pork…

Does this bra make me look fat?

The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft: a craptacular fail

18 Apr

Not too long ago I was listening to the Adam Carolla podcast with guest Dana Gould.  Apparently, Dana had been working on a screenplay for Sigmund and the Sea Monsters.  Mercifully, it got canned.  I mean, bad for Dana and all that, but it’s for the greater good.  Most likely last summer’s turd blossom, the big screen adaptation of Land of the Lost, can take the lion’s share of credit for ruining the chances of Gould’s work ever seeing light.  However, hearing about that crapfest got me to thinking about an obscure footnote in Atlanta history and in my own childhood.

One of a kind in Atlantas Omni

When I was five I discovered the magic of shows like the above mentioned in addition to Dr. Shrinker, H.R. Pufnstuf, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.  They are all “from the creative minds” of puppeteer brothers, Sid and Marty Krofft.  Having my own children now, I know all too well that kids will watch anything that’s on TV.  Five year olds have neither taste nor discrimination.  Because of that whole “lots of brothers and the one television” situation at my house, I had these beloved Krofft shows put on ice.  Those boys usurped my getting to the TV first by simply telling my mother that all of the Krofft shows were drug culture propaganda disguised as childrens programming.  Maybe so.  I was crushed.  In retrospect, it was a brilliant ploy by the brothers.  But, I was going to be getting an opportunity to expose my parents to, and thus persuade them of, the awesomeness of all that was Krofft.  I’d make them see and then they would know!

A complex map

The year of 1976 is not only notable in U.S. history as the bicentennial of our great country; it also marks the year that The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft came to Atlanta and took up residence inside of downtown’s Omni International.   It was an indoor, vertical, psychedelic theme park that was dreamed up and designed by the brothers Krofft after their great success with creating and implementing shows and rides at Six Flags Over Georgia.  I spent weeks begging, performing perfunctory chores and dutifully brown nosing until my keepers agreed to take me to my Mecca as a birthday outing.  I would have done anything and given anything up to go.

Harlequin head

It was beyond anything that I could have expected…because it sucked!  Hard! Aside from listening to Mom and Dad chant “waste of money” over and over, it was not good…and at six, even I knew it.  It started out pretty great, riding a huge, world-record-breakingly tall escalator to the top of the park and being greeted by a pair of giant clown heads…and then it fell apart.

There was no shortage of weird talking trees and character people walking around and dancing like they were at a Dead show looking for a miracle, which only gelled my mother’s belief that everyone associated with the Kroffts was “on pot or glue”.

"Clearly on drugs," according to my mother

I was most looking forward to the crystal carousel.  It was a transparent, three-story merry-go-round made of imagined beasts, crystal trees and it was going to change my life.   Yeah, it was closed for repair.  Not only was it not operating, but also there was a barrier around it, so you couldn’t even get that close to it to see all of the wonder.  “I can’t believe we paid for this; what a waste of money.”

Pinball ride...Im sure it was a metaphor...for DRUGS

Even though the carousel was a bust, at least we could go on the pinball ride that was down a level or two.  Think of a huge pinball machine and you are in an orb bouncing from side to side and against big bumpers.  That’s totally cool, right?  It’s not especially cool when that ride breaks about 15ft. into it and gets shut down and you have to crawl out of the ball and walk off of the platform.  “What a waste of money”.  Again.

A family ejecting from the pinball

We did see a “show” that at least gave my folks a chance to sit down and tag a butt or two.  That worked out okay for me.  Things were starting to look up and I was pretty sure that I’d be watching Wonderbug at home again in no time.  Not so fast.

Our next station was the bottom level of the park and I was really excited.  This was where all the H.R. Pufnstuf stuff was going to be.  It was called “The Living Island”.  It was purported to be the real meat and potatoes of the whole experience and we were saving it for last.  To get there, you got on a big freight elevator that was meant to simulate being in a mineshaft.  Did you know that my birthday is the last day of August?  That means it’s hot.  Seasonally, this is not a time when you want to get stuck on an elevator.  For about ninety minutes I got to listen to lots of grown-ups muttering my parents mantra, “Such a waste of money.  I want my money back.”  And for the duration, between the bellyaching of bitching parents and disgruntled guests, I could hear the cackle of Witchiepoo and the sounds of shipwrecked Jimmy and his flute Freddy having adventures.

They haunt my daydreams

And I was stuck in a fucking fake mineshaft.  Once we were finally freed from the elevator we were given vouchers to return to the park as an apology.  We never made it into “The Living Island”.  My parents were pissed and it was over.  They practically dislocated my shoulder jerking me out of there.  I like to daydream in my head that it would have been just like Bob Odenkirk and David Cross’ rendition that you can see here.

In a cruel twist, the brothers that came with us and ditched us the moment we got there…had a blast.

And, on a side note, and this will surprise you…The Wonderful World of Sid & Marty Krofft closed within six months of opening.  In 20/20 hindsight it was a bad idea to open a theme park with four rides that don’t operate reliably in the middle of what used to be the scariest city ever.  The space is now part of the CNN complex and all that remains is that tall-assed escalator.  People were so pissed by that debacle that next to nothing has survived.  When the doors were shut they stayed that way and eventually it was all just demo.ed and put in the trash.  Where it belonged.

Play sexy

29 Mar

Everyone is in a tizzy over Abercrombie & Fitch’s new bikini for young girls.  It’s called the Ashley and the smallest size is for eight-year-old girls.  The big gripe isn’t so much that it’s on the skimpy side of things, but that the top has push up pads in it, so that young girls don’t feel self conscious about their chesticles.  It can really cause a lot of anxiety for a girl to not be able to fill out her swimsuit.  Especially in the second grade when she isn’t yet confident enough to tell her playmates at the sandcastle to “Suck it!”.  Really, I don’t see what the BFD is.  Parents buy baseball inspired outfits for their young boys that say “L’il Slugger” on the front, anticipating growing an NBL pitcher.  Daughters twirl in ballerina inspired dresses, dreaming of one day being a principle dancer of a famous ballet company.  Maybe the aspirations that some parents assign their daughters are a little less lofty and a bit more…pedestrian.  Now, doesn’t that bikini top start to make sense?  Because,  let’s make no mistake…eight year-olds aren’t driving themselves to the mall and throwing down the plastic for some new swimsuits to train in.  Mawma and Diddy need to get that money-maker out there early if they want their little precious to be successful in dancing, acting on an “unscripted set”, landing a pro-ball player in lieu of college or where ever she sets her sights.

There is a lot more to it than an A&F bikini to usher little girls along the twisted path of sexual dysmorphia and daddy issues that will lead to an early start on a fruitful career at Tattletales.  I’m not even going to talk about lucite shoes, degrading rap lyrics or Club Disney shows.  I’m a talk about toys.  For decades, feminists have ranted and raved about the unrealistic body image that Barbie dolls presented to young girls.   Mattel mitigated that by giving Barbie her choice in profession, ethnic friends and recently letting her divorce that eunuch husband of hers, Ken.  He was boring.  In more recent years, the Bratz dolls upped the ante by being soft and plush…a perfect snuggly slut baby doll for toddlers.  But just like Hollywood can’t come up with many new ideas, toy makers are now looking to the vamp up past victories for today’s market place.

Strawberry Shortcake works as a stage name

Strawberry Shortcake first came on the scene in the early 1980s.  Her acrylic hair was actually infused with the scent of fresh, wholesome strawberries.  Her friends Blueberry Muffin and Lemon Meringue smelled just as sweet.  What do you think their new-millennium effigies smells like?  I’m betting it’s a combination of cigarette smoke, stale beer and motor-court bedsheets.

Brushes teeth with a bottle Jack

Rainbow Brite now looks like an anime Ke$ha getting ready to dose up with some ecstasy and hit a rave.  I’ll bet she pays at the door with all $1 bills then grinds her jaw all night while giving Starlite the Catherine the Great “come hither” eye.  Shudder.

Pole ready

Dora the Explorer has been to see Dr. 90210 and also made friends with celebrity hair weaver, Ken Paves.  Dora has lost her pudge, injected a little Restylane in her lips, gotten Kardashian extensions and is just shy a pair of leggings and a trapeze top of the pole.  Last year, Nickelodeon teased audiences with her makeover by releasing a silhouette of Dora, before the “big reveal”.

Looks like a mudflap

Just like on Fox’s The Swan.  I wonder if Dora can say “Love you long time” in Spanish.

Hope Magic Milan has condoms in her purse

Not all little girls want to spend time with dolls, though.  They can be a little creepy at night when the full moon is shining through your bedroom window.  What is a parent to do if they want their daughter to have appropriate toys to model and role-play being flirty with???  Thank heavens for the toymaker Playmate (seriously) and their contribution of a line of fashionista whorses.  They are called Struts.  Rhymes with sluts.  Pictured here is Magic Milan.  She is wearing high-heeled horseshoes, dangly earrings and what appears to be a purple and black lace bustier.  Damn, that’s one hot filly!

Trollz...with a z

Even Troll dolls have been retooled.  Now they are called Trollz, because substituting a z for an s is kewl.  But these little figures have a powerful messsage for today’s wallflower little girls: just because you’re a troll, doesn’t mean you can’t be sexy.  Miley Cyrus has built an empire on that premise.  Oops, did I type that out loud?

Piercing high

28 Mar

This is a stick-up

My daughter, you know her as Snakebite, waited until she was thirteen to get her ears pierced.  The day we went to Merle Norman last December to pay a woman to shoot her in the ear lobes with an earring pistol was fraught with trepidation and second-guessing.  By the age of eleven almost all of her friends and classmates were wearing dangly plastic ice-cream cones and the like or super sparkly fishhook earrings.   Her similarly aged cousins would swoon just passing by Claire’s at the mall.  For the uninitiated, Claire’s is a chain of “accessory boutiques” that targets the notoriously sophisticated, stylish, and discriminating 7-12 demographic.  Think Noah Cyrus.  Their specialty is Cadmium laden baubles for junior wanna-be-hookers.  It all looks like the crap that you would “pay for” with skee ball tickets at a boardwalk arcade.  It’s catnip for little girls, but not mine.

Tween Mecca

Why all the anxiety surrounding what boils down to body mutilation?  Seven years ago, Snakebite’s bff in pre-first got her ears pierced and one of them got infected.  Long after the friend’s crusty ear lobe healed, Margaret remained scarred.  But teenage peer awareness is pretty powerful stuff though and can, like, lead you into doing stuff outside of your comfort zone.

The instigator

Margret has been thrilled with her bedazzled ears.  And the child who literally can’t remember if she’s eaten lunch or whether she’s ever broken anything, has really stayed on top of caring for her newly pierced ear lobes.  She always seems to be swabbing with an alcohol soaked Q-tip and turning the posts.  And when she switched over to her special, fancy earrings two weeks ago she made sure to tighten the backs so that she wouldn’t lose one.  There’s good news and bad news here.  The good news is that Snakebite has been so fastidious that she has managed to stave off the infection that should have alerted us that her ear lobes had swallowed the earring backs.  Yeah, the securing of the earring backs surpassed being an act of responsibility and veered off towards pathological tightening and resulted in them getting embedded.  In both ears.  Double friggin’ yikes!

Since ear lobes don’t have a mini-uterus in them to contract and push big things out of their little pierce holes, they have to be cut to make way…like an episiotomy.  For your ears.  Gross!  This revelation was not handled with grace and calm.  It was received with a lot of “Blaaah, why me?  This is the worst day ever!  Blaaah!”  More than anything else, she was worried and totally worked up over getting shots.  The kind doctor decided to give her an oxycodone to address future pain and help her chill.  Because we aren’t hillbillies, I’d never seen my teen on oxy before.  We don’t roll that way.  Aside from the initial bitchiness, and a brief episode of nodding off, it was hilarious.

I learned a lot about Snakebite’s hopes and dreams.  I found out that she is really looking forward to going to Daytona Beach this summer so that she can get a bucket of water from the ocean, evaporate it on our deck and make her own sea salt.  Which reminds her that she would like to go float in the Dead Sea because it’s the saltiest and so you are super buoyant there.  Oh, and banana popsicles and banana pudding are, like the best.  She likes opals.  She likes moonstones.  She likes opals AND moonstones!  Did you know that people in Africa wear lip-disks?  She would never do that.  And she never wants for us to take a family trip to Djibouti because it has a weird name.

After we left the hospital, I took her to Menchie’s for some froyo.  She got a huge tub of cake batter flavored yogurt, added cookie dough, sprinkles, about four other toppings and buried it under liquidy marshmallow squirts.  And for the first time ever, she offered to share her yogurt with me because she said it was such awesomeness and I had to try it.  I politely declined, because like I said: we are not hillbillies.  Or Lohans.  Mothers and daughters do not need to eat stoner food together while one is flying high on the good shit.

Sour puss

24 Mar

Oh, spring time…you minx!  You…with your blossoms and blooms, your warm sunshine, sprigs of green grass and patio dining.  Your chirping birds, outdoor festivals, and open windows feed my soul.  The things to love and glory in during the late days of March and early days of April are many.  But every action has an opposite and equal reaction, or something like that.  For every morning without an overcoat, there is a dude with flabby man-boobs thinking it’s okay to jog shirtless around the park.  For every whiff of the white clematis vine over my garage doors, there is a pint of pollen being dumped in my face holes.  And for every missing Christmas tree lot there is a god forsaken lemonade stand.  I may just be the Grinch of spring.

When I was a kid all I wanted to do on a pretty day was have a lemonade stand.  My mother put the ixnay on it almost every time.  My kids want to have a lemonade stand, too, and I continue the family tradition of not letting them participate in that kind of messed up economic system.  In what universe does it make sense to pour Gatorade into Solo cups and charge $.25 for it???  Maybe this is the sort of thing that Venezuelan nut-job Cesar Chavez was talking about earlier this week when he said that capitalism destroyed life on Mars.  After supplies for sign making, the pain-in-the-ass cost of sticky lemonade getting spilled all over my kitchen counters and floor, and about $10 at Publix for cups and concentrate…well you do the math, genius.  But you know what’s worse than my own kids wanting to just give it away?  Other kids’ lemonade stands, that’s what.

Hall had a baseball game last Saturday and at the corner just before the driveway to the ball field was a gaggle of about 5 or 6 kids with a lemonade stand.  I think they wanted something crazy like $.50 for a cup of warm, diluted Crystal Light.  Because there was a stop sign, I had to stop and they all started coming at me like a bunch of hobos with squirt bottles and rags at the North Avenue exit.  My first instinct was to lock my doors and grab the mace.  You know what though?  I wasn’t going to be intimidated, plus no one’s Mom was there to give me a disapproving glare.  I didn’t buy their lemonade.  I had a big water bottle with me already (because I live in Georgia and prepare for hot days in the car) and was just fine.  To show that there were no hard feelings I shot them my best smile and a wave.  They jumped up and down, then started yelling at me like a pack of jackals and giving me the fist in the air.  All I could think was, “Oh, how adorable.  What a bunch of little a-holes.”  How is that for a warm spring afternoon at the ball field?  It’s the stuff of Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post.