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.

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Finally feeling the love

14 Feb

Stores have been festooned in pink and red since December 26th.  Hearts, balloons and kissy prints have been everywhere.  Yes, it’s Valentime again.  A younger Hot Damn had no love for Valentine’s Day.  Every year it seemed like a mocking reminder that I hadn’t peaked yet.

When I was in elementary school, administrators and teachers had yet to adopt the culture of participation trophies and the belief that all children are special snowflakes.  Thus, birthday party invitations were still subjective and no one was forced into making a Valentine for anyone they didn’t want to.  Well, you can see where I am going with this.  My tissue paper and sticker emblazoned shoebox was never the one that was overflowing with love notes and chalky heart candy by the last bell.  I’m sure it mostly had to do with the gawd-awful Sandy Duncan style pixie haircut that my mother insisted was “just daaahling”, and nothing to do with my winning charms.

By my middle school years, the ritual of exchanging cards and candies halted.  Then, as a high school freshman I discovered a whole new level Valenshame.  

Over-confident and sexually ambitious teens annually organized some sort of school-sanctioned fund-raiser that involved j.v. cheerleaders sitting at a table and  selling carnations for $1 to other students.  They came in three colors: red for smokin’-hot ninth grade romance, pink for crushes and white for “I don’t like you in that way”.  The flower would be delivered to the object of one’s affection during classes throughout the day on February 14.  You could attach a personal note.  Sounds harmless, right?  Ugh.  This was just a new, more obvious posture in the contest for popularity.  And the celebrated teens would schlep their growing bundle of dyed flowers around school with them, to every class, even to lunch, all day long.  For those of us who received a white carnation or two, sent by a friend as a gesture of solidarity, it was a dilemma.  Did you proudly tote what amounted to your boutonnière with you, so that you didn’t look totally unloved, or did you gingerly put your carnations in your locker because they looked like a pittance?  Oh, and there was always that one poor sad sack who would be exposed for boosting her numbers by sending several to herself anonymously.  Bad move. 

By college, I made a habit of dating the sort of really cool guys who conveniently liked to break up right around the second week of December, who then later wanted to come sniffing around again after February 15th.

And in the work world?   The competition for the ultimate love trophy went off the chain.  There was no prouder receptionist than the one with the biggest delivered floral arrangement by clock punch time.  The secretary pool looked like a funeral parlor, but all the women were beaming from the outward display of love.  It was high school on steroids.  

Big Daddy and I had been dating about 2 months when faced with our first Valentine’s Day together.  A couple of days before the V-day, he told me to “wear something really nice” on the 14th  because we were going out for a fancy date.  He was very mysterious about the whole thing.  I was giddy about finally participating in the Valentine’s Day of my dreams.  I knocked off work a little early, got my nails did and put on my best LBD, stockings, heels…the whole thing.   Big Daddy picked me up and took me to dinner at…drum-roll…my favorite Indian restaurant.  I had averaged eating there about once a week from the time I was thirteen.  I loved that place, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  It wasn’t out of the box.  And it certainly wasn’t fancy.  It turns out that Big Daddy didn’t think he would need to call and get a dinner reservation more that two hours before our ETA at any upscale eatery on the most dined out night of the year.   Even the Waffle House near us takes reservations on Valentine’s Day.  Hand to God.  As it turns out, before he landed Hot Damn, Big Daddy was the kind of guy who didn’t do Valentine’s Day.  Oh, well.  The vindaloo was good.

So what sort of gifts were exchanged?  I had searched high and low and bought an antique set of poker chips.  Because I knew Big Daddy liked to play cards, I thought that it showed that 1.) I knew his interests 2.) I put thought into an atypical gift; I wasn’t just dialing it in and 3.) That there was a bit of work involved in expressing my luv.  Big Daddy, it seemed, was hoping to convey the same.  Instead of just picking up a heart-shaped Whitman sampler or a roadside dozen of long-stems, he picked up the phone and asked his sister for advice.  It was a smart move, except that she didn’t really know me.  Through her connections, she was able to hook Big Daddy up with really great seats to Grease: the musical.  Does anyone remember this post?  I put on my best excited face.  A musical?  Does he even know me?  But the truth is that it was the best Valentine’s Day despite the dinner not being over-the-top or that I got a gift that I was dreading having to cash in.  I was with someone who I knew loved me.  But then there was our second Valentine’s Day… 

Big Daddy and I were married on 17 February 1996.  I wanted to be married during the winter, but I am Episcopalian and no weddings are performed during Lent.  Big Daddy is a manly man and believed that no weddings should be performed during play-off season or March Madness.  Given the e.t.a of my dress, it was going to have to be shoehorned in with Valentine’s Day.  On the 14th, I arose with brightness and cheer.  Because so much was happening in the next few days, I kept it simple with a CD, card and yummy meal.  Big Daddy kept it simple too.  He coughed up simply nothing.  W? T? F?  I kinda went bat-shit.  Nothing.  Seriously?  He reasoned that he was giving me himself in three days.  Yes, in three days I was going to be turning myself over to a man who thought that he was gift enough.  Does he even know me? I went Diary of a Mad Black Woman on him.  But don’t think it didn’t cross my mind to go in another direction and go Silence of the Lambs instead.  Ultimately, I would have looked stupid in a man suit.  I considered postponing the wedding to a less clashy date.  I might have done it if people weren’t flying in from all corners of the world.  It never occurred to me that by getting married I would have to forfeit the showiest day of romantic goo known in a calendar year.  Forever.  Oh, the disappointment!  The tears!  And maybe a slammed door.  Or two.  

This week we will celebrate our sixteenth wedding anniversary, which means it will also be our eighteenth Valentine’s Day together.  I am pleased to report that not a bare Valentine’s Day has passed again.  Sometimes there’s a grand gesture, like a shiny bauble or a sterling trinket box.  Or maybe it’s more practical, like speakers for my iPod.   There have been no more tickets to musicals, but there have been tickets to see Ben Folds.  We don’t even pretend about fancy dinners on actual Valentine’s Day anymore.   Tonight we will celebrate our love by going to Hot Tub’s basketball game at 7:45 and listening to Snakebite protest about having to go.  Tomorrow night we will go out to a yummy dinner with friends.

I think he finally knows me.

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"

I was lost in the woods, but now I am found or Go tell it on the mountain

11 Jan

I can easily go off on a tangent.  The legal term for it is a “frolicking detour”.  See, plans are not necessarily concrete for me.  They are more of a loose framework to fudge around with.  And that is how I managed to get myself into a pickle in the urban wilderness, yet again.

So here’s what happened this time.  I am a city mouse, who likes to pretend she’s all woodsy and good with outdoor stuff.  For Christmas, Big Daddy indulged me with new fanny pack that’s not a fanny pack to stuff all of my incidentals in for when I go walking off campus.  But yesterday I was in a big ol’ hurry to get out of the house to take the dog to have his ACL surgery (oy vey!) in Marietta, and I left my new non-fanny pack fanny pack in the mudroom.  So, after a morning of veterinary drama, and a trip through the Bo Jangles drive-thru, I finally parked at the base of Kennesaw Mountain for a little exercise al fresco.  I separated my key from the key ring and had no choice but to deposit it in what my mother taught me was nature’s pocket: my bra.

My storage compartment ain't what it used to be

My “plan” was to go for about 4 miles and be back to the car at 1 o’clock.  However, the weather was sooo nice and the trail was sooo easy that I thought I’d stretch it to 6 miles.  But I still felt good and thought that I was actually circling the base of the mountain and that I’d be back to my car at about the time I’d reach 8 miles.  Perfect.  At a bit over 8.75 miles I felt like I wasn’t really where I should be, because I wasn’t, and then I felt for my key and my bra was devoid of anything not God-made.  Uh-oh.  I was going to have to back track to find the key.  Panic.  I wasn’t nearly as worried about being stuck in the woods come nightfall as I was about having to make a certain phone call.  But time was on my side and I’d find the key and no one would be any the wiser.

So, if I worked backwards exactly (which I did not) I would be walking at least 18 miles.  That’s a lot of ground to cover both physically and mentally.  My mind kept drifting back to how over this past weekend we had “free” Showtime.  I caught about the last thirty minutes of 127 Hours.  That’s the movie with James Franco, where he plays a super laidback guy who goes rock climbing alone, without telling any one details of his specific plan.  Because he is so adaptive and has a good sense of direction and skills, he feels like he’s got the upper hand with being all loosey-goosey like that.  He eventually slips and gets stuck in a crevice because that upper hand of his gets wedged behind a rock.  That sucked for him.  After several days, his water bottle is running low, he starts becoming delusional and despite all of his efforts to wiggle free, use ropes and his body weight to shift the pinning stone and even attempting to use his pocketknife to cut his arm out, he remains stuck.  Finally he resorts to gnawing his own arm off to free himself.   Put that in your pipe and smoke it.  So, now here I am, sort of lost in the wilderness of Kennesaw Mountain, and thinking about this damn movie.  Even though I can occasionally hear the sound of cars, there’s swollen creeks-a-plenty and I am occasionally passing other hikers, I am getting a bit nerve wracked.  I don’t like to ask for help.  It’s a problem.  I am hoping that I don’t have to gnaw off anything in the process of getting back to my car with key in hand…I have TMJ; I doubt my jaw could handle any heavy chomping!

As carpool time was drawing closer, I ended up gnawing off my pride by calling Big Daddy to tell him I couldn’t pick up our treasures from school and then had to explain why.  It may have been as painful as chewing my own flesh.  While alarmed, he was perfectly calm and nice about the whole thing.  I, on the other hand, was full of self-inflicted loathing and humiliation because I ignored common sense and had to admit it out loud.  I was embarrassed that I was throwing a wrench into the family’s afternoon routine, angry that I needed saving, plus I was beginning to feel the effects of so much fast walking and running.

It might not be at all surprising to find out that I was one of those girls who was always reading into things and looking for “hidden meanings”.  As a grown up, I say that I am now watching out for “the signs”.  I love to dissect what I decide is double speak and pick out what I perceive as tension.  I cut my teeth on shows like Moon Lighting and Remington Steele in the 1980s to hone this particular skill set for looking between the lines.  For instance, on the last day of school in sixth grade, Robbie Brown said, “I really like your Trapper Keeper”, but then he looked away suddenly.  What did he mean by that???  What did he really want to tell me???  I knew what he truly was saying was, “I don’t have the nerve to ask you to ‘go with me’, but I think you are fascinating and I think about you all of the time.”  Naturally, at around mile 12, I began turning my inquisitive mind to wondering about why I was in the conundrum and what my lessons and take-aways were going to be.  After all, if I had to be humbled in this process, I had better find out why.  Maybe it was as simple as that God was telling me that if I was going to scarf down a Bo-Jangles chicken biscuit for breakfast, it was going to take a lot more than a lovely 4-mile jaunt to knock it off.

Once the kids were gotten, Big Daddy called my cell and said they would be waiting for me by my car.  Whew.  Just before I was spit out of the woods, I looked down and found a dollar bill.  I never found my key, but I found a dollar.  Then it started to rain.  Considering I was already soaked and nasty, it was not a chink in the program.  Rain was just another damn thing in this long day.  I had to cross the Kennesaw Battlefield to get to where the family was waiting in the parking lot.  I thought that it was a bit ironic that I had been wandering around an historic Civil War battle site for nearly 20 miles with spoiled good intentions.  All I wanted to was to be clean, with my people and going home.  I had gone to war with my stubborn independence; returning a sore soldier who was resolved to not be such a stickler for sole reliance and to accept accountability for that bad flaw of mine disrupting the day.

Where the battle was fought the first time

Epilogue

Everyone was sitting in the car, having snacks, reading and smiling.  I did not get the third degree tongue-lashing I so feared and deserved for not following Common Sense 101.  I had planned to return to the mountain the next day, if I could still stand, and find that key.  I didn’t have to.  It was sitting on the console of my car…right where I had put it, apparently.  Doh!

I wants it, I needs it, I must have my precious key

Snakebite rode home with me and pointed out that at least I had gotten some good exercise outside, found some money and had a new funny story that starred me as Gollum on the quest for my precious car key.  And as a bonus, I didn’t end up on the news as the subject of a helicopter search.  God, I love that kid.

I crossed my heart and hope to die, stick a needle in my eye and all of that, that going forward I will always text Big Daddy if I am going off road.

Once home, I sat in my deep tub for about 1 ½ hour soaking in Lush bath bombs and Epsom Salts.  I took two Tylenol and went to bed around 8 o’clock.  Today, I literally have a pain in my butt, but it’s okay.

Here is what I learned for sure:  Make a plan, share the plan and adhere to the plan.  Be prepared by having everything you need when you start a project or an adventure.  That could include something a simple as a closing pocket or be as seemingly outlandish and unnecessary as taking a buddy when you go some place that is unfamiliar, or a partner to hold the ladder when you clean the gutters.  I also found out that single people get real freaked out when you try to ask them questions like, “Have you seen a key on the trail?” when no one else is around.  Did they think I was going to invite them to my Arbonne home show?  Also, condom wrappers don’t decompose rapidly in the woods.   Eew.  Oh, and nice people hang hoses over their really tall fences for thirsty hikers and dogs.  And nothing looks better after a rough day, than a loved one who’s just happy they could rescue you from yourself…again.

Today I divulged my dumb-assedness on the phone to a friend.  After admonishing me for going into the woods alone, she asked if she could come the next time I go.  So, next week there will be a hiking day with girlfriend Caroline.  I didn’t know I had city friends that would even be interested in weekday trail-blazing.  This is great news; I won’t have to become one of those 9am mall walkers!  If anyone would like to join us in a Mommy Urban Hiking club, just let me know!  Turns out that when you divulge your plans, it all comes together.

Happy endings ahead

University drops smoking

7 Jan

Atlanta’s own Emory University had an announcement to make this week:  No Smoking Allowed.  Anywhere.  Not in campus buildings, dorms, outside of the library, not in a box next to a fox, or even in your own car with all of the windows rolled up.  Huh.  All tobacco products are banned from any place on campus.  This means cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, pipes, hookahs and bongs.  What is college without bongs???  I don’t know this world anymore.  Maybe this is why so many “online universities” are popping up.

I am presently not a smoker, but I used to be pretty hardcore.  I am seventeen years “clean”.  And that is a good thing now, but at the time I thought quitting was a power play and a hassle.  It’s like this: when Big Daddy and I started dating he would light my ciggies for me and was all gentlemanly about carrying a lighter in his pocket for my igniting needs.  Then things started getting serious and the hammer dropped: “I can’t marry a smoker.  You have to quit.”  Like a real woman, I recognized that if it’s a contest between always having a date who wants to give me jewelry and tagging a butt outside of a bar with a bunch of weirdoes, then I’ll take the former.  Done.

The saying isn't "Cigarettes are a girl's best friend" now, is it?

It was in the early 1990s that the tobacco Gestapo rose through the ranks and started messing with me.  It started with no longer allowing smoking on airplanes.  Before a 27-hour flight to Korea, I found my self in the glass enclosed smoke pit it the airport power smoking with the best of them.  Next came to eliminating a restaurant hostess’ most important question: “Smoking or non-smoking section?”, to no smoking in restaurants period.  And that extended to mall food courts, too.  Never again would I smell a group of pale, Goth teens sucking on clove cigarettes while enjoying an Orange Julius.  The lovably cool Joe Camel was crucified and Marlboro points were moot.  Really, Big Daddy’s decree was rather timely, because the other Man was taking away all the freedom of smoking anyway.  I imagine this is how motorcycle enthusiasts felt when states began enforcing helmet laws.  Sure, the Man was looking out for the people’s “health”, but it was also draping a wet wool blanket on the joy.

So hard?

“They” say the quitting smoking is harder than weaning off of heroine.  Having never snorted, shot, smoked or anything else one can do with that stuff, I couldn’t say if this is true or not.  But it was my fear.  Thus, I had never before tried to quit, never wanted to and frankly didn’t see a reason.  My only experience with someone quitting smoking was with my step-dad, Tom.  And that was a doozy.

Let’s back up a bit.  I come from a long and rich line of smokers.  My parents smoked.  Their friends all smoked.  My aunts, uncles and cousins smoked.  In every public room of my house, there was a silver box or beautiful little julep cup full of Vantage 100s waiting to be smoked.  Every room had at least two fancy Waterford ashtrays.  This, by the way, isn’t a sign of growing up in a trailer park…this was classy, abundant and gracious living.  At the grocery store, buggies had clip-on aluminum ashtrays for housewives that liked to puff a cigarillo as they trolled the cereal aisle and thumped the produce.  Large canister ashtrays were in every department store.  And the “better” stores, like Neiman Marcus, would bring you a glass of wine and a beanbag ashtray for your Mom to the dressing room.  We had a huge basket at home of all of the different embellished matchbooks that we would collect from restaurants, banks, hotels…anywhere.  And lots of places also had their own logoed ashtrays.  We took a lot of those too.  It was a golden era.

See that ciggie wand. It's high-style!

Now, back to Tom.  At some point, maybe around 1986, Tom had a sketchy lung x-ray that turned out to be fine, but he was all shook up and he cold turkey quit smoking.  Never in the history of ex-smokers has there been a more smug and self-congratulatory ex-smoker.  Tom took every opportunity to wax on and on about his will power and discipline.  We just all rolled our eyes and closed our ears.  Fast-forward to the spring of 1989ish, when he travelled to Texas to see his middle son graduate from college.  Upon his return home, Tom was fidgety, restless and seemed to have developed a case of adult onset ADD.  The man had chronic ants in his pants and was using a stream of flimsy excuses to get the hell out of the house all of the time.  He kept every car’s gas tank topped off, bought every single size drill bit, one at a time, from Home Depot.  He picked up dry cleaning, ran nonsensical errands and was continually shaking the change in his pockets.  There was no doubt in my mother’s suspicious mind that Tom had rekindled love with his ex-wife while at their son’s graduation.  We assumed that he was really going out to call his former wife and whisper sweet nothings from the Gulf station’s pay phone…hence all the coin jiggling.  Mom hired a P.I. to tail him.  Tom wasn’t romancing his former yellow rose of Texas.  He was smooching on the filter of a cigarette.

Pretty little cancer sticks

 Because Tom had been such a pain in the ass and gloated so much about his dynamic power to just quit, he was unable to admit that he had begun not just smoking again, but making up for lost time.  When confronted, he denied, denied, denied.  “Catch Tom In The Act” became a fun family game.  When I uncovered two cartons of Vantages in the pool pump house, he blamed it on the next-door neighbor’s 12 year-old son.  If I was at the house and he would declare he was going to buy some wood screws, I would insist on going to Home Depot for some mythical need too, just for fun and to watch his squirm.  Because we worked together at a chemical plant, I would run up to the warehouse overlook window to spy him huddled behind a 20 ft. tall pallet tower of bleach boxes…smoking.  One time, unbeknownst to Tom, I was behind him on Powers Ferry Rd.  when he tossed a spent butt out of his car window and it landed on the hood of my car.  Swear.  In Hawaii, my oldest stepbrother, also named Tom, busted him smoking an Eve 120, snaked from Mother’s pack.  It was a new low.  Eve 120 cigarettes are super long, ultra-thin cigarettes decorated with flowers along the filter.  My macho, manly, retired Air Force fighter pilot Dad was hiding out with pretty, pretty lady cigarettes.  It turns out that the graduating stepbrother…hadn’t.  He hadn’t even gone to most of college.  Poor, disappointed Tom was too embarrassed to tell my Mom, who most certainly would have had lots to say about it.  Instead, he turned to his old pal, tobacco.  We were just relieved he wasn’t having an affair with the ex.  We thought it was kind of a hoot, but he remained ashamed of his smoking habit until he died years later.  While it was openly known he was smoking, he never did smoke again in public.  His pride just couldn’t have handled it.

My own bout with smoking cessation?  Well, my motivation was…motivating.  It took me about three days. As this post has already grown into a novella, I’ll save that funny story for another time.  However, I will say that if stopping is harder than kicking heroine, then I think all of those scabby, shaky, puking black-tar junkies are a bunch of lightweights.  I have no respect for them.  Losers.

I’ll wrap it up with this little thought nugget.  I have one friend who still smokes, but she’s cut waaay back.  I have one aunt and two cousins who are still smokers.  You can no longer smoke at work, at the grocery store, while pumping gas, at your favorite restaurant, anywhere in the airport and now, with Emory’s decree, there is a precedent to prevent smoking while enclosed in your own private property.  And the cost of a pack of cigarettes is out of hand.  Do I think it’s “good” that people aren’t smoking anymore?  Yep.  I feel much better, though I didn’t realize I even felt bad.  My kids are totally freaked and obnoxious when they see or smell someone smoking.  But, I have to wonder if some of our country’s employment shift and woes can’t be tied to the vigilante lynching of our tobacco industry.  What are all of those former tobacco farmers growing now?  Corn for corn syrup?  All of the matchbook factories, ashtray fabricators and rolling plants…what has become of them and their employees?  How about the person whose job it was to remove dead smokes from the big, commercial ashtray canisters and then refills them with fresh sand to imprint the hotel’s logo into it?  I just have to wonder if while the end of smoking is good for us, has it been bad for our economic health.  Someone get me an impact study, stat!

Maybe they can get jobs at the smokeless cigarette kiosk at the mall?

You aren’t the special person this year

16 Dec

So here we are on the cusp of knotting up another year.  This means that people are in a shopping frenzy, a decorating tizzy and in a state of baking mania.  Parents with waaay too much time on their hands are doing precious, clever and generally creepy as hell things with their children’s elves.  Teenagers are taking exams and foaming at the mouth over what their Christmas get is going to be.  Working adults are wringing their hands over their “holiday bonuses”.  But news rags and publicity pimps have been busy compiling their lists of the most “Intriguing/Interesting/Fascinating” people of the year.  They got rolling en mass this week.  People Magazine and Time Magazine hit stands, Barbara Walters did her televised celebrity lap dance and again I was amazed just watching her frozen Joan Crawford eye.  And America’s aging sweetheart, Katie Couric, got in the game and did a wrap up of the big news of the year, too.  Isn’t that nice?  Honestly, Katie’s recap was a bit too legit for me.  I like to read or watch trash and then feel all highbrow and sanctimonious by blogging about it later.

 

Barbara Walters ran down her “10 Most Fascinating People of 2011” this week.  Of course, I have issues with it.  Didn’t catch it?  Not to worry, that’s what I’m here for.  Big Daddy and I made our own predictions last week.  We nailed six of them.  That is a big, fat D-.  I guess my expectations were a bit too lofty.  Since I blogged 2010’s list here and here, I figured you people would be expecting a recap again this year.  In keeping with her usual droll style, Barbara picked mostly jack-wagons.  And another thing?  Barbara needs to learn how to count.  There weren’t ten people; there were fourteen.  Well, except one has expired, so really it was thirteen.  It went down like this:

Katy Perry:  She is fascinating for being the human embodiment of an overly frosted and jimmied cupcake.  She dropped out of high school, kissed a girl…and she liked it, and married a former heroine addict.  Bravo!  She’s kinda cute and harmless, I guess.  But one of the most fascinating people to come across my radar in the last year?  Maybe if I lives in a paper sack or in an Occupy Anything tent city.

Simon Cowell is honest, generates a load of revenue and makes people’s dreams come true and yet, he’s still a tool.  He admitted that he wanted to get busy with Paula Abdul when they were on American Idol together.  The best I can say is that he would have been able to save the cost and liability of slipping Rohypnol in her drink.

Pippa Middleton is fascinating because she rocked a bridesmaid dress.  Really?  Baby is fascinating because she got back?  I am certain that had Sir-Mix-A-Lot been asked to weigh in on this topic he would have said, “Aw hell no!  Maybe if she’s 5’3″.”  God, help us.

Shucky-ducky, Herman Cain made the list!  I wonder if he would have made the cut if he hadn’t suspended his campaign amid lurid skirt chasing rumors.  Would Barbara have found him fascinating were he in a position to Obama bash while on top of the world?

Amanda Knox has actually held my attention for the past few years.  However, Barbara didn’t manage to score a sit-down with her.  Instead she just showed a newsreel mash up with Barbara’s own voice over.  That’s a fail.

Donald Trump allowed Barbara to tug on his coiffure to prove that it’s not a piece.  Who actually thought that follicular mess was fake?  No one would manufacture something like that.  I kinda half expected it to spring to life and bite her though.  I never thought it was a toupe.  I always assumed it was a yellow ferret draped across his pate.

Duo Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, you know them as openly gay couple Cam and Mitchell from “Modern Family”, were featured.  Are Eric and Jesse fascinating, or is it their television characters that we clamor for?  Well, straight Eric plays the flamboyant Cam, while the more reserved Mitchell is played by for-real-duh-gay Jesse. That’s not fascinating.  It’s acting.  I guess I can be thankful that Babs didn’t try to shove the cast of “Glee” down my throat.  That would have bumped the 10 turned 14 even higher.

Derek Jeter, thankfully, refused to answer Barbara’s probing questions about his romantic dalliances.  She’s such a dirty old lady!

Now, much has been made about Barbara’s hard line tactics with the four main chick Kardashians.   That’s right, four train wrecks for the price of one.  Reuters reported of the segment, “Walters actually went there, telling Kim, ‘You don’t really act, you don’t sing, you don’t dance … you don’t have any — forgive me — any talent!’”  Wow.  She really went in deep.  That was such a risky line of questioning.  I wonder if anyone has ever pointed out that Barbara also neither acts, sings nor dances.

But the mostest fascinating of them all?  Steve Jobs.  Barbara said that he was intended to be her number one all along, but he crossed over the rainbow before she was able to score some face time.  I don’t want to put words in the man’s now silent mouth, but that is one way of having to avoid intrepid questions like, “If you were a tree, what kind do you think you would be?”  Too soon?

 

This week, Time Magazine released their annual proclamation of their “Person of the Year”.   I didn’t think they could get any lazier than that 2006 gimmick, when they named You as their top pick.  Remember?  The magazine cover had a shitty reflective panel on the front so that you could gaze at a distorted version of yourself on the special cover!  Aren’t you so important?  Aren’t you just the most special little snowflake?  Puhleese.  It was like a participation trophy for grownups.  No, this year Time proved once more that they could just dial it in when they crowned Protesters as their whatever in the hell it is that they are calling it now.  Protesters?  I doth protest!  They didn’t even whittle it down to a type of protestor.  I protest about crap all. the. damn. time.  Hot Tub protests by walking mad to his room and then slamming the door.  If he isn’t sure that the message was received, he’ll open the door and slam it again, extra hard, for good measure.  Store clerks at Toys-R-Us protest with a colossal eye-roll if you ask them anything other than where they get their crypto-gel done.  Don’t we all protest?  About work, other people, The Man, our health, the weather, school, our kids?  Without being specific about the type of protestor, we all just got Person of the Year again.  That means that everybody is special, which to those of us who don’t live in a jar of glitter know means that no one is special.  Congratulations, Time just made us all blah.  Again.  Awesome!

Really, this whole matter of an end of the year naming of people to lists of fascination is really just a roll call for the main players in the country’s own News of the Weird.    These aren’t necessarily people who are truly intriguing or have accomplished much of anything besides distracting the collective from the sputtering economy, expanding health problems, abductions, child murders, foreclosures, overweight kids, neighborhood meth labs, garden variety jihads, and personal responsibility.  To that end, I am aghast that, by far, the most fascinating rose of all was not plucked for the Top of the Everything list:

Sixteen-year-old child bride Courtney Stodden is like something created in the basement of Perez Hilton while tweaking out on a meth-mushroom bender with a side of speed-ball and Lindsay Lohan assisting.  She is so fantastically awful and over-done that I can not turn away!  And her fifty one-year-old geezer husband gives me some serious heebie-jeebies.  I have yet to dedicate a post to Mrs. Hutchison, because I just don’t think that I can summon the right words to capture all of my feelings.  You understand, don’t you?  I vow, though, to spend a chunk of 2012 bringing her story of courage and love to the people so that next year, Courtney will take her rightful spot in Barbara’s hot seat.

Awkward sexual moment

5 Dec

I was two-and-twenty the summer I experienced what I ticked off would certainly be the single most awkward moment in my life.  Not embarrassing, not humiliating…I keep hitting the refresh button on those two.  No, what I am talking about is that moment of being inescapably uncomfortable in a situation, where the only possible resolution is to just wait it out, keep quite and avoid any eye contact until you can pretend that you were never there.  Every seemingly maladroit instance since that time has been a walk in the park.  After all, what else could possibly ever rattle me more than sitting in a dark room on the sofa next to my mother while watching Laura Dern and Nic Cage “go at it” in the David Lynch directed Wild at Heart on cable?  If you haven’t seen it, I will attest that it is awful on just about every level.  The dialog, the accents (Cage was clearly working on what he would later use in Con Air, which I have already blathered on about here), and the whole story line in general is just garden variety bad.  And the sex scenes?  It was more like characters acting out and having tantrums while partially and entirely naked.  If I were sitting around with friends guzzling alcohol and watching it, it would be hilarious.  Like when me and Big Daddy got a case of beer and watched Showgirls.  But in a dark room, with my mother…both of us sober and alert, it was punishing.  The sounds alone of the characters were bad enough, but the sights just pushed it to my limit.  The remote control had been set down too far away on the coffee table for either one of us to have gotten to it without a reach over and possibly a grunt.  Neither one of us was mature enough to just throw out a nervous laugh and make the move to end it.  I still cringe thinking about it.  My personal discomfort could never be topped…or so I thought.

 

In fact, there is something far, far worse than watching an eager “up for anything” sex scene in a dark room with your mom.  It’s me being the mom watching an eager, glamorized teenage vampire-mortal sex scene with my own daughter in a dark theater.  Yes, it’s true.

In an unprecedented move, Snakebite wanted to go see Breaking Dawn, which had me breaking down.  But right now, she is the middle school Queen Bee in our house and I just want to earn her approval and am thrilled when she wants to do anything with me.  I complied, mainly because I thought it’d be laughably bad and then I could blog about it later.  Know this: we aren’t up on the franchise.  We both read the first book and saw the movie when my niece came to stay with us one summer.  I thought it was some of the dumbest fodder I’d seen since my friends and I made a slasher movie one bored Sunday afternoon in high school.  This was 1988 and my mom’s huge VHS camera that we used was not equipped with steady cam.  That movie had a richer plot line than Twilight.  If I recall correctly, about 30 minutes into watching that first one, Snakebite said it was weird and lame; she was bored and was going to go to bed.

 

I have a scant understanding of what goes on in the Twilight series because the world is populated with people who call themselves “Twihards”.  Ugh.  I can’t plead that I was ignorant that the girl character, Bella, was going to marry her glittering and frosty vampire beau, Edward.  And I knew from the trailer that they would be starting a family.  It just never occurred to me that they would have rocker Tommy Lee filming the honeymoon.  While nothing as out there as Ron Jeremy showing up in a nurse’s outfit happened, there were ripped feather pillows, broken furniture, tilted light fixtures, body bruises and a lot of position changes.  And they were both allegedly virgins.  There was no, “Ouch, wait, that hurts”, not a single, “You’re on my hair!” nor, “The school nurse said to always use birth-control, Edward.  I am not on the pill.  Did you remember to bring condoms?”  Nope, none of that real life deflowering dialog.   Instead it was Bella glowing and begging for more the next morning and me trying to neutralize the acid reflux in my throat with a fist full of popcorn.  I can’t even discuss the birthing scene that has, like the Pokémon movie, spawned epileptic seizures in movie houses across the world.  The silver lining, I guess, is that Bella didn’t end up with Jacob, the werewolf boy.  That could have been a far worse sex scene to have had to white knuckle through.

What have I learned from this?  Well, for starters, nothing is absolute.  All the things that I thought were awful about being a disgruntled and misunderstood teen daughter myself are now amplified now that I am the mother of a disgruntled and misunderstood teen daughter.  I will never be smug again in thinking that by getting through adolescence and young adulthood I have passed some imaginary finish line where I am now always mature and insightful in the face of awkward moments.  I have not been properly inoculated against personal horror and am therefore not immune to it, as previously thought.  I did exactly what my mom did when Wild at Heart’s credits rolled.  Nothing.  I didn’t mention anything about Bella and Edward’s sexy time and Snakebite announced that she was tired.  And so the cycle is complete…I hope.

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.

My porn got diddled away

9 Nov

I fancy myself as something of an inventor, maybe even an innovator.  The trouble is that I am a lot of lofty ideas and talk, but not so much action.  The sort of marketable genius that I am capable of is documented here, in my first ever blog post.  As you know, I invented the Obama Chia Pet years ago, but never did anything but sit on the sofa and talk about how great a Chia head with an Afro would be.  I lost out on all of that sweet moolah.

Well, this past spring I “invented” something else that I was pretty sure would be a hit.  Allow me to first disclaim that just because you come up with something, or uncover a need does not necessarily mean that it is rooted in a long time obsession.  Sometimes you just get an idea from the corner of your eye.  Having been burned too many times from past ideas and products that have been scooped up by the early birds of the world, I had actually begun trying to figure out how to give this new worm some legs.  It was going to be a cable television show that would hybridize retro-porn movies, Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Beavis and Butthead and an excuse to drink with friends.  I floated it to some entertainment people-in-the-know and got enthusiastic responses.  And then, I was listening to The Regular Guys morning show almost two weeks ago and the guest was Dave Attell, who was promoting his new show:  Dave’s Old Porn.  That.  Was.  Mine.  Damnit.  What he described was almost exactly my concept.  Curse you, Mr. Attell.

I think I was in my early twenties the first time that I ever saw a real porn movie.  “Showtime After Hours”, “Skinimax” or HBO’s late night showing of Lady Chatterley’s Lover do not count.  The first “adult film” I saw was tears-streaming-down-face-hilarious.  It was shot in someone’s groove-ass vaulted den and there was a pizza delivery guy, who looked nothing like my Domino’s dude.  I believe this particular art piece was called F*cking Brunettes.  Guess what the common thread was.  Yep, it was all raven-haired “actresses” getting frisky with everyone from boyfriends, plumbers to pool guys.  Except that some of the “ladies” were peroxide blondes, so they had to wear wigs.  That sometimes slipped.  Better still was that the “talent” really believed that they were there to act and so there was a script that was adhered to…no matter what.  Since this was edited in a time before Mac Book Pro and you actually had to purchase film, editing was more labor intensive and re-takes were costly.  Let’s just agree that the transitions were not smooth.  And because there is no record of this movie on imdb, I am unable to find out any information about the make-up and wardrobe professionals who worked on set.  My guess is that the “talent” was instructed to just wear something made from synthetic fibers and bring their fluffiest, most all-encompassing merkin to the set.

Then in the late 1990s, we had a malfunctioning cable box that for some crazy reason allowed us access to ultimate fighting and the Spice channel.  The Spice channel was not the precursor to the Food Network.  I know, you’d think so, right?  It showed nekid movies.  Even though they were just the soft-core variety, we should have demanded to have that devil’s box replaced, but getting an appointment with the cable company was just such a hassle, so we kept it.  During this time I would watch the Spice flicks, but only the credits…the names of the “actors” were the priceless work of thirteen-year-old boys.  Names like Peter North, Anna Malle, Ben Dover, Jack Hammer, Chesty Morgan, Seymour Butts were subtle, yet oh, so sexy and to the point.  For those of us living in the mainstream, there are several formulas to creating your own porn name, such as combining your middle name with the name of your first pet, or a street name where you spent your innocent childhood.  I could work under the monikers Ann Beechwood or Ann Ranger.  One makes use of the word “wood” and the other sounds like I’d be good at finding things in the wild.  Score!

Occasionally, I would have to actually see some of the movie to get to the credits.  These later 20th century movies showed significant advancements in breast augmentation, laser hair removal, handheld video recorders, and camera effects.  Someone was clearly investing in these movies, too.  The backdrops were often classy “mansions” with lots of white carpet and Levolor blinds, or fancy poolsides with scads of statuary and no shortage of chaise-lounges.  Also different were some pretty weird group scenarios that were never explained by way of any bulky dialog.  In fact, the talking was reduced to lip-lick sounds, grunts and a random, “Oh, yeah!”  Thanks to the elimination of the once important story line, I still have no idea why no woman ever removed her shoes during a scene.  Me?  I always wear flip-flops in the bathhouse at the pool, or in the gym locker room because I don’t want other people’s sweaty foot cooties crawling under my toes.  But these women, while guarding against toenail fungus and potential harmful liver related side effects from Lamisil, are letting all manner of other things penetrate through their exposed skin.  Does that make any kind of sense to you?

And now with the Internets, and sites like youporn.com, there is no shortage of porn for the masses and their mass interests.  And it’s not funny, or culturally amusing.  It’s aggressive and psychologically damaging to watch.  Too many things are going in wrong places, it all looks manmade, and the pretense of even trying to parlay this into an acting career has been dismissed.  Kim Kardashian’s entertainment empire may have been the last successful springboard from nasty porn.  When I first went on line in 1997, I mistyped a search engine name and was directed to something so icky and depraved that I can only say “donkey”.  Shudder.  I couldn’t get out of its page and I finally broke down in tears and called Big Daddy at work.  I was hysterical.  No body needs to see that kind of stuff.  Ever.

And that’s why I had the idea for MY show.  It would be Big Daddy, me and our most funny friends drinking beers and critiquing movies from the Golden Age of porn.  You’d totally watch it, I know you would.  And now Dave Attell is already shooting season 2 of his show for Showtime.  He was on Chelsea this week talking about it.  He did an episode of it with Adam Carolla.  Why did I drag my feet on this?  Could it have something to do with no longer owning a VCR and having to hunt one down to even get started?  I’m pretty sure that Turner Classics has yet to go in and digitize The Rings Around Uranus or Taboo II yet.

Chaz wasn’t the first to waltz across my screen

26 Oct

I recently had occasion to meet a woman who is “on strike”.  This past month, I’ve seen a lot of people on strike in the news, be it in protest of Georgia’s death penalty, Wall Street bonuses or hotel labor practices.  However, this lady was my first in-the-flesh striker.  Her cause?  “Get that Chaz Bono offa my Dancing with the Stars!”  Whoa.  Really?  “I never thought I’d see something like that in my lifetime…”  It turns out that the perversity that is Chaz Bono, twirling and dipping on live TV, pretty much sums up everything that is wrong, wrong, wrong with the world today.  She must be awash in relief in the wake of Chaz’ booting from DWTS last night.  I’m relieved too since this was all we have had to worry about.  Silly me; I have been fretting over dwindling job opportunities and escalating foreclosures, but it turns out that those sorts of things aren’t really root problems at all.  It’s Chaz, and the gays and the “ I don’t know whats” on public parade.  Personally, I did find watching Chaz waltzing across my screen uncomfortable, but not for THOSE reasons.  They kept putting him in those tight, stretchy outfits and I was afraid he was going to burst out of them like a bit of ruptured haggis.  I was afraid for my eyes, not my morality.

 

But as far as I can remember there have always been plenty of gay, lesbian and transgendered characters on television.  People talk about how amazing it is that there is EllenPeople magazine loves to slobber all over Glee for giving us a gay character.  Really?  This isn’t new.  It’s just that no one really had much to say about it.  Why?  I don’t know; I don’t care.  Any given episode of Hollywood Squares, which began airing in 1965, was likely to feature Rip Taylor, Charles Nelson Reilly, Paul Lynde or all three at once!  Back in the day, attention wasn’t so much focused on a character or actor’s preference or sexual identity, but you’d have to have been a moron to miss it.  Maybe we were all just a little more polite and didn’t need to exploit that kind of thing in the media so much.

Wildly popular early 1980s show Too Close for Comfort was premised on the two Rush daughters moving in to their parents’ deceased transvestite neighbor’s apartment.  The cross-dresser never makes it on screen, but loveable Monroe Ficus, played by Jim J. Bullock, sashayed through 118 episodes of the show.

And what about the ex-con turned sassy decorator, Anthony Bouvier, on Designing Women?  Oh, those southern women were too polite to ever state the obvious, but…am I right?

 

It is generally accepted that Jo Polniaczek on The Facts of Life was playing on her own team, if you know what I mean.  Nudge, nudge.  Wink, wink.  Even though in the past year the actress, Geri Jewell, who played Blair’s cousin, Geri, ‘fessed up, it was tomboy Jo, who set off the gaydar.  To “butch up” actress Nancy McKeon, the wardrobe department gave her a ponytail and a leather jacket.  In her spare time, Jo liked to work on her motorcycle.  Any questions?

There were so many other gay characters on the shows I watched as a kid.  Both goofy Alice and Sam: the Butcher on The Brady Bunch were most certainly bearding for one another.  Don’t you think?  And one being neat and one being sloppy wasn’t the only thing odd about The Odd Couple.  Come to think of it, Skipper and Gilligan were always happy to let Thurston Howell III, clutching his teddy, bunk with them on Gilligan’s IslandBewitched had stereo-typical clotheshorse Uncle Arthur, M.A.S.H. featured Corporal Max Klinger, who was begging to be called out for cross-dressing.  Janet from Three’s Company.  Hello?…oh, there are just too many to get into them all.  But the characters weren’t just limited to live action television.

Sensible Velma from Scooby Doo?  There wasn’t enough weed in the Mystery Van to convince Shaggy that she’d ever be receptive to hanging out and having a Scooby Snack with him.   I certainly didn’t need Charles Schultz to pen a memoir to tell me that Peppermint Patty and Marcy from Peanuts would one day become life partners.  And Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie.  That was a given.

Am I off course here?

Ding-dong! The Doctor will see you now

13 Oct

I swear that I am not picking on the fine people of Florida…it’s just that they make it so easy.  Here is a real headline from 2006: “Man Offers Free Breast Exams, Finds Some Takers”.  Here is a real headline from today: “Fake doc busted for offering door-to-door breast exams reaches deal”.  This all went down in Fort Lauderdale.  Of course it did.

The back story is that a 76 year-old-man, Phillip Winikoff, went knocking door to door in an apartment complex, offering to give women free breast exams.   Most certainly he either got this idea from a gas station t-shirt or from watching back episodes of Beavis and Butthead on Hulu.  Did they have Hulu in 2006?  He carried a little black medical bag to lend himself an air of legitimacy, which worked at least twice.  There has been no mention made as to whether or not he completed his look with the prerequisite stethoscope around the neck or a beeper affixed to the waistband of his sansabelt trousers.

Two women came forward who had been “examined” in the comfort of their own homes.  One patient, a thirty-six year-old female, decided something might be sketchy when her free breast exam included a bonus cervix check.  That was the tip-off.  Really?  It wasn’t that he wasn’t wearing one of those reflector head mirrors, or carrying a clipboard?  Jeesh.  Some people are sooo gullible.  Anyway, patient #1 called the police and the faux doctor split.  He was picked up by authorities while he was in mid-exam with another patient in the same complex.

Had the now 81 year-old Dr. Mr. Winikoff not reached a deal with the court, he could have received 45 years in prison for sexual battery and another 10 years for practicing medicine without a license.  The details of his “deal” have not been made public, but he seems to have avoided going to the big house, where he could have been on the receiving end of a lifetime supply of free proctology exams.

Vampires in Florida…What’s up, Doc?

4 Oct

Boo!

Anyone else remember when parents groups got all bunched up about the harmful societal effects that the Bugs Bunny cartoons were having on children?  This was probably around the late 1970s or early 1980s, when media rags like Psychology Today ramped up distribution and talk show host Phil Donahue was jaw-jacking through the miracle of television to Moms while they folded and ironed the laundry.  The gist was that violence in cartoons was causing aggressive behavior in pre-school tots that would later blossom into full-fledged criminal activity.  From then until now I don’t recall any news story of a teen attacking anyone with a cast-iron skillet, a moody adolescent trying to capture the object of his desire by placing an open lasso on the ground with some snacks within the circle or anything about luring children into cauldrons of boiling water to make Hasenpfeffer stew.  I have yet to receive delivery of a bomb making kit from Acme.  Of course, cats do continue trying to catch birds and chicken hawks are still breaking into hen houses.  What do I know?

Insert laugh track

However, I’ve had an unsettled feeling since that first Twilight movie, that trouble was afoot.  I was a bit off-put by how many grown women were going into full swoon over a young Robert Pattinson as misunderstood vampire, Edward Cullen.  Then another faction of women went weak in the knees for the taut Taylor Lautner as loveable werewolf, Jacob Black.  A t-shirt empire was built on whether you were on “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”.  Ugh.  Ladies, puhlease.

Even Jacob, err Taylor, agrees with me

But it didn’t stop with housewives and their t-shirt messages.  Why not celebrate your love of all things vampire or werewolf with something less likely to shrink in the wash…though more likely to discolor and sag with time.  Enter the Twilight tattoo trend:

Someone is bringing the sexy back

 

Future turtleneck affecianado

If the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote inspired groups to boycott Warner Brothers cartoons, then surely the hint of pedophilia and body mutilation would have parent groups gabbing about the dangers of books and live action movies that romanticize bloodsuckers and body changers by coating them is glitter sparkles and soft fur over six pack abs.  Nope.

Unsexy undead Nosferatu...the way it should be

Maybe if the parent watchdog groups hadn’t been slacking we would have our vampire problem under control in this country.  Anyone else see this story in the news last week?  I must warn you, it’s out of Florida, so it is going to be full-frontal weird.  Panama City, Fl teen Stephanie Pistey, age 18, and four of her friends lured a 16 year-old boy to a house where he was beaten to death then dumped in a storm drain.  Oh, and the house?  It was where Stephanie was babysitting two children.  Stephanie’s explanation of why she was involved in this scene had her telling police, “Since I was like, 12 … I know this is going to be crazy, but I believe that I’m a vampire. Part of a vampire and part of a werewolf.”

Liger's cousin

Really?  A vampire in the sunshine state?  How can this be?  Then I looked at her Facebook page.  Stephanie likes blood, doesn’t read much, hates God and has atrocious spelling and grammar habits.  Her music pages included the likes of Soulja Boy, Hannah Montana, but the most revealing clue of all into her sinister psyche is an endearment to Miley Cyrus.  That. Explains. Everything.

Miley preparing to suck

Rolling old school

24 Sep

So, you think that you roll old-school because you don’t have a smart phone or rely on the internets?  You think that you live a simpler kind of life because you have an herb garden on your deck, take public transportation when you can and have a recycling bin?  I am here to tell you that you a’int nuthin’ compared to the bass-ass luddites in Kentucky.

Meet eight members of the gangsta Swartzentruber Amish sect out of Graves County, Kentucky.

They were booked into the big house for keeping it real, by refusing to bow down to the Man.  Were they going to affix orange reflective triangle flair to their buggies?  Hell no.  Were they gonna pay the fines for not jazzing up their buggies with what they considered to be religiously offensive flair?  Oh, hell-to-the-no!

Trump that, homies!

 

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

Is middle age the new teenage rebellion?

29 Aug

So, I spent a week in Daytona Beach Shores with the tots recently.  When my mother died, my brothers and I inherited her place there.  If it were a car I might put a “Don’t laugh, it’s paid for” bumper sticker on it.  Would it be cooler if she had bought a house in Sea Side or the Outer Banks?  No doubt.  But she grew up going to Daytona as a girl and associated the longest, widest beach in the world with elegance, fun and great memories.  She never seemed to notice the ratty No-Tell Motels, comical NASCAR fans and even got a kick out of the dental-challenged old biker dudes that would flirt with her at the Oyster Pub.

Truthfully, Daytona is good for my soul.  We come down here and very few people know the phone number.  It’s much smaller than my Atlanta house so cleaning up is fast.  I never run in to anyone I know.  Most of the restaurants are pretty awful so fretting about where to have a broiled platter is not a taxing mental exercise.  Laundry is minimal.  The worst part is listening to Snakebite and Hot Tub piss and moan about going anywhere that doesn’t involve ice-cream or how they are hot and tired.  I try telling them about all of those Make-a-Wish kids who are literally dying to come to Florida and they look at me like I’m nuts and whisper back and forth behind my back.

The beach scene down here is not exactly a collection of pretty young people.  It’s the old timers who are the standouts.  In the morning, there are all manner of old, leathery people walking and jogging.  One morning I saw two old dudes paddle-boarding and a kicky older lady rocking her bikini and dancing her way down the beach in a combination of Electric Slide, tap dancing and the Charleston.  All dances that were popular in her day…and she looked amazing.  When these old-timers smile, their teeth are intact.  It’s like the realized promise of the 1970’s Geritol commercials.  This gives me hope for my golden years.  I may not be buff and have it goin’ on now, but maybe by the time I’m scratching seventy-something I’ll be sporting a thong and a belly chain.  You gotta dream big, people.

However, later in the day when the sun is pointed straight down, the AARP have abandoned the sand and surf for bridge matches, golf rounds, paddling the black-water creeks or painting lessons.  Okay, maybe they are sitting in a doctor’s office getting their Coumadin level checked or having a prostate exam.  I don’t really know where they go, but when they do, the B team comes in and, oh my.

I am all for letting your freak flag fly, but at some point you have to know when your flag just don’t look good.  What is wrong here?  The old people have their looks together, and the 20-50 demographic is a mess!  In the last ten years this group has played catch-up at the boardwalk tattoo parlors, gotten aggressive with a piercing gun and found somewhere that sells a new line of clothes inspired by Warrant videos.

What I am figuring out is that the new middle age is the old teenage rebellion.  These kinds of shenanigans used to be the exclusive property of misunderstood fourteen year-olds whose parents are divorcing.  By college they have it all out of their system and just move on.  Instead, I think there is some delayed happy childhood going on, what with all of the esteem-building crap that came out of Psychology Today and Phil Donahue, and people aren’t registering their disappointment with life until they are older and don’t need parental permission for that eyebrow piercing.  I think I’m on to something with this one.  All of these current middle age-ish people have been told that they are special snowflakes that can do and be anything.  It’s when they figure out that they aren’t going to be a princess or run Vivid Entertainment that the self-loathing sets in and they just proceed to pierce and ink the hell out of it to re-create that special, unique person again.  Then they showcase it in coconut oil and an ill-fitting swim suit or short-shorts.  Whoa.

Now, I admit that I take “fashion risks” when I am anonymous at the beach.  I may wear strapless, though my upper arms really need sleeves.  I forgo any make-up and never touch a blow dryer.  But it kinda works.  I swear.  And it certainly helps that tan+fat=muscle.  Always.  That said, if the majority of the people I see on the beach look half that way in “real life”, I might have discovered why unemployment is so high.  It has nothing to do with the economy, but with the pool that employers have to pick from.  I mean, is this who you hire to be the face of your business?

Coasting through reading rewards

17 Aug

My son read a lot of books last year and was rewarded with a “free” ticket to Six Flags.  This was neither a reward nor free for me.  As a kid, I loooved Six Flags.  I couldn’t get there enough and even had a season’s pass.  By age eleven, my mother would drop me off alone at the gates before lunch with a crisp $20 and pick me up during the fireworks just before closing.  But, I haven’t “done” the park since I was nineteen and had no desire to ever revisit it.  Big Daddy was adamant in his refusal to be the parent to take Hot Tub to redeem his award and celebrate his literacy.  Snake Bite is terrified of “anything carnival”, so it was up to me alone to dust off my Mother of the Year sash and be “fun mommy” for the day.  I knew that Buford the Buzzard was no more, but what else would be different?  And, mon dieu, what would be the same?

There was no Great Gasp, no Highland Swing, no Drunken Barrells nor Jolly Rogers Island…R.I.P.  The Chevy Show, Dolphin show and petting zoo…buh-bye.  The Hanson Cars had moved.  Skee ball at every turn?  Nope.  And while I saw no one walking an invisible dog, I did see a few kids on leashes.  Squirm.  Free Fall was replaced with a diabolical contraption that had me breaking my rule about not praying in public.  No, it wasn’t the same at all.  And that isn’t a bad thing.  And most of the artifacts that I was familiar with, had been updated in someway.

In 1978, The Mind Bender was THE new ride.  You stood in line forever, avoiding being pushed into “the gum tree” that was most certainly a breeding ground for all strains of hepatitis.  And for what?  To be thrust along some rickety sounding rails that flipped you upside down three times.  Now there are lots of roller coasters that go upside down and The Mind Bender seems a little retro.  And the gum tree?  They now swathe and staple the trees in a burlap condom, and when it is full of sticky, gnat pocked infected gum, they just take it off and put on a new one.  A new trend has also emerged with gumming the landscape boulders as well.  I’m not sure how that’s going to play out.

It blew my mind though that with all of the advances in rollercoaster building and amusement engineering, the bumper cars are still as unreliable and junky as they were in the 1970s.  Technology has by-passed them.  They still get stuck, having to be manually unstuck, and are still powered by a flat piece of metal rubbing and snagging along the bottom of a volted chicken wire ceiling.  I thought that for sure by now they would have been able to get the kinks worked out of that.  Six Flags has tried to keep up with the times and be respectable.  The park now has a “code of conduct” that does not allow smoking outside of dedicated corners and even purports to ask patrons to leave if they are using loud profanity.  It seems a bit unlikely, but it was quite a nice change to not be standing in line with hickey coated teenagers with dangling cigarettes from their lips while screaming the f-word, s-word, or any other words that would have made my grandmother blush.  So while that turned out to be a non-issue, I did have to explain the verbage on a lot of neck tattoos.

And Six Flags also says that they have “healthy choices” for park goers’ dining options.  For lunch we went to Dee Jay’s, one of the restaurants tagged as having “healthy choices.”  I couldn’t actually figure out what the “healthy choice” was.  I think it was the “fried chicken tender salad” that I got.  It was three large fried chicken fillets on iceberg lettuce with four cherry tomatoes, carrot slivers and two packets of Ranch dressing that each had 17g of fat apiece.  My other options were bleu cheese or Italian.

Being respectable and healthy has gotten the park on the roll to adopt a more natural look.  For instance, that water that used to course through all to the flume rides and ponds…remember it was the aqua blue color of your high school head cheerleader’s eye contacts (that she insisted were her real eye color).  Well, it’s been ditched in favor of normal-color water.  And they are trying to recycle…starting with the staff wearing collared shirts made out of melted plastic fabric.  Signs were posted about their low flow toilets and hand dryers replacing towels in the restrooms.  I’m all for conservation, but I just don’t think that low-flow is the way to go in a park full of out-of shape patrons who’ve been eating funnel cakes and hot dogs in 97 degree heat.  Thoughts?

So, I rode every roller coaster the boy wanted to ride.  I got soaked in Thunder River.  I stood in lines that harkened to Soviet Russia bread distribution.  I bought $9 diluted lemonade.  I cheered as the boy won a basketball.  I finished off a bottle of hand sanitizer.  I ate things that probably wouldn’t decompose if left in a forest for a year.  And on the way home, R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts” was playing on the radio.  I had always thought that was a song aimed at disgruntled teens about getting through uphill battles and feeling kicked around by the man.  It’s not.  I am pretty sure Bill Berry or Michael Stipe wrote if after turning forty and being jostled on roller coasters.  The “hold on” refrain is a reference not to perseverance, but to actually holding on to ice packs and stair railings.

 

 

You know you’re in Florida when…

5 Aug

The billboards start to look like this…

(The “thumb’s up” picture on this sign looks suspiciously like G.I. Joe’s Kung Fu Grip)

Then, you have to reach around those…

When you are trying to fill up a hot, salty cup of these…

And you have to wait for Barefoot Bobby to finish buying lottery tickets at the gas station register counter…

And as you are paying, the cashier throws you the “You ain’t from around here” shade when your teenage daughter comes stomping into the store, fuming and furious that her brother is “using improper grammar on purpose and sounds like” one of these…

Moving into presidential elections

1 Aug

Oh, Gawd. And so it begins again…George Lopez has thrown in the first “if Sarah Palin becomes the president then I am moving to Canada” yawn. Every election, all manner of actors, musicians and “in the papers” types try to excite prospective voters with their fussy threats to vacate the premises if their favorite candidate doesn’t win. Remember when Alec Baldwin famously announced that he’d be singing “O Canada” if Al Gore wasn’t elected. Then he backpedaled, saying that he didn’t use words like “definately” or “unequivocal”. What evs. He’s still here and it hasn’t changed my life a bit.

But it brings into to focus that there is a presidential election brewing in our country. I don’t ever really get too stirred up until much later in the game and even then, I kinda take a “God’s will” attitude. The presidency just doesn’t seem to be as badass as it was for, say, George Washington or Teddy Roosevelt. Ronald Regan was pretty rock n’ roll. He left office last century in 1989. Since then, things have gotten a little, well, tacky and informal. I don’t want to see my leader having beer summits, talking about boxers v. briefs, chatting on daytime talk shows or jamming with a band. I want him, or her, to be stern and unyielding, not warm and fuzzy. I want intimidating, but not nuts. Bold, not loud. Sensible, not safe. Basically, if a person could embody a Diane VonFurstenberg wrap dress, he or she would get my vote.

We’re more than 17 months out from this next election…a lot can happen. No one needs to get all bunched up just yet. And really, will things change? What will be different? Barack Obama took the last election with a platform that promised hope and change. I realize that it’s only been a few years, but I don’t really see it. I think a lot of his supporters hoped that Obama would ride in on his majestic unicorn and wave his magical wand over late mortgages, disconnected utilities, sick children, terrorists and all would be well. It would be better than a campfire kumbaya. It would be the final full orchestra scene of a big stage produced musical, where everyone stands swaying with clasped hands while singing, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (in Perfect Harmony)”. Confetti and balloons would drop, glistening tears of happy would be shed, children would smile in wonder, the infirm would drop their crutches and everyone would glow.

This time around looks like it may be more like a three-ring circus. Donald Trump’s hairpiece rumbled about running and tabloid goldmine Sara Palin remains viable. What if this next election takes the shape of the 2003 California recall race for governor? Among those 135 candidates were bitter child actor Gary Coleman, mogul author Arianna Huffington, porn star and Celebrity Rehab flunkie Mary Carey, purveyor of smut Larry Flint, and even Atlanta’s own incarcerated Scott Davis. Of course an Austrian bodybuilder turned Mr. Universe turned seven time Mr. Olympia turned box-office darling turned prolific breeder, Arnold Schwarzenegger, won.

According to our U.S. Constitution, to be eligible for candidacy in our country’s top election you need only be a natural born citizen, at least 35 years of age and have been a resident for 14 years. I’m out, because I adhere to being perpetually 29. But the door is wide open for a President Ron Jeremy, President J.R. Ewing or even a President Baldwin.

Wanted: dead or alive

28 Jul

The final good-bye?

I don’t want to go all Morbid Molly on every one, but what’s with all of the unusual or unexpected deaths these past few weeks?  I already covered the lady marinating in the pool in Massachusetts (still giving me the willies),  there was my beloved Sherwood Schwartz, America’s snuggle rocker Dan Peek, reformed boozer Betty Ford and the marriage between Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony.  Then last weekend crooner Amy Winehouse passed out for the last time.   A lot of people seemed shocked by this news, but is anyone really surprised?  Really?  Death is imminent for us all, but for 70-pound crack-heads it just seems entirely more likely that it’s going to happen sooner than later.

Because vampires and zombies are just things in teenage chick-lit, us grown-ups sort of expect that when you die, you die.  But this hasn’t always been the case.  In earlier times people lived in mortal fear of being buried alive.  Writers like Edgar Allen Poe did nothing to quell these notions.  Or you can gaze into Mary Shelley’s masterpiece, Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, to be terrified that your body could be snatched from its resting place to be chopped up and sewn together with other not quite dead pieces to make a new, animated creature.  This seems ghastly and fictional, but these ideas took root in a shade of reality.  Being mistaken as dead and not just boring wasn’t all that uncommon.  It was for that very reason, the whole embalming and getting you into the ground lickity-split wasn’t always so.  Our first president, George Washington, was so terrified of not really being expired that he requested to not be buried until he was proven “dead” for at least twelve days.

Because it's better to be safe than sorry

In olden times coffins had glass panes so you could watch your decedent for feint signs of life and not have to catch a whiff if the movement turned out to be decay or just “escaping gases”.  Yuck.  There were also coffin patents for tricked out numbers fitted with little bells that would hang above ground attached to a string that went through the dirt and was placed in the dearly departed’s cold fingers.  You know, just in case.  Others had periscopes, for air supply and flags that would salute via underground pulley system.  At night, graveyard watchmen weren’t only trolling the cemetery to chase away grave-robbers and medical students who were moonlight cadaver shopping, they were also listening out for the cries of  “get me the hell outta here!”

The practice of waiting around is considered antiquated and a bit silly these days.  Most people even by-pass the morgue and head straight to the funeral home, where they get their pipes flushed and someone airbrushes their skin to look like they’ve been dipped in QT, slips them into something that’s never been worn and then fits them with an acrylic wig.  But guess what happened this week that has me thinking: “Not so fast”.

Like, zoinks!

An 80-year old dude in Johannesburg, South Africa had an asthma attack and his family figured he was dead.  Or maybe they hoped.  Either way.  At any rate, the authorities were notified and a freezer truck came and carted him away to the local morgue.  He got his toe tag, a sheet and then was nestled in the big refrigerator for safe keeping until funeral arrangements were made.  Roughly twenty-one hours later morgue employees were frightened when they heard cries for help, naturally assuming that a ghost was haunting the refrigerated compartment.  Morgue owner Ayanda Maqolo had to set an example and be brave in front of his workers, but he was scared too, so he called the police.  Once the po-po arrived they went in together.  Said Maqolo, “I was glad they had their firearms, in case something wanted to fight with us.”  At first I laughed at this.  Something?   But the sad truth is that I would have probably fled the building and ran into the woods yelling, “Chupacabra!!!” at the top of my lungs.

South African officials have contacted health officials and mandated that they make sure their relatives are really dead.  Um, wow.

Swimming through some pool issues

19 Jul

 

I love to swim at the pool.  Any pool.  And by swimming, I mean that I like to lube up with pure Mexican coconut oil, or baby oil and iodine, and read trashy gossip rags in a chase lounge while a radio d.j. reminds me to flip every 30 minutes.  Aaah.  When the heat gets too much I will slip in and eek out a few laps to keep up appearances.  My love of hanging poolside comes from both my mother and proximity.  We had a pool in our backyard and that woman knew how to soak sun like a champ.  Compared to Carolyn, The Girl from Ipanema and the Ban de Soleil chick, with her San Tropez Tan, were hacks.  From some point in May through some point in September, we were poolside daily.  And nighttime sharks and minnows is the best!  Even as I got older, passed through college and single times, I still spent my weekend days at my parent’s house in a pool that was safe and free of E. coli, weirdoes and screaming children in saggy diapers.

There was a time; however, when I wasn’t so keen to jump in.  The year was probably 1982 and watching the movie Jaws on HBO did a complete number on me.  I no longer was emotionally safe to be alone in the pool and I sure as hell wasn’t going into the deep end.  Who knew if a shark could somehow find it’s way from the ocean, through a maze of pipes and come ripping through the base drain of our Georgia pool.  NO chances were to be taken.  It was a long while before I was able to shake the scene in the movie when that giant rubber robot shark flew outta the water at Robert Shaw. 

Years passed and I forgot all about a chlorine loving Jaws and then something else jarred me from the pool.  My parents died, the pool was closed and eventually their house was sold.  While my yard is plenty big to have a pool, we don’t.  That’s a whole ‘nother rant.  I was forced to go to, hand to throat with a gasp, our neighborhood public pool!  I had never been to a public pool before, but by July of 2000 I couldn’t take it anymore.  There were scant lounge chairs (all with busted straps), lifeguards that looked like they just got done serving 7-10, weeds growing from the pool’s coping edge and it was the coldest water I had ever felt.  I sat on the edge of the shallow end (interpret that any way you wish) with a foot in the water as big crocodile tears came and I sucked in my bottom lip.  I missed my parents and damnit, I missed our pool.  When I left, my flip-flop slipped in a turd on the sidewalk.

Another time I was doing a water aerobics class at the indoor pool in my health club and snake cut through the water past me.  A snake in an indoor pool?  I almost gave up.

Fast-forward and our grody public wet-hole has become a veritable neighborhood jewel.   The cracks in the plaster have been fixed so the water isn’t two degrees above freezing, there’s lots of tables and chaises, good music, real mirrors in the bath house, a snack bar and even grills for Friday night member cookouts.  I have been totally comfortable there until this story broke a few weeks ago and it is like the lurking horror of Jaws and everything I thought was sketchy about “public pools” or ever worried about have conspired to freak me out.

Did you hear about this story?  Here’s a re-cap: A woman was found dead in a public swimming pool in the Boston area.  Some teens who hopped the fence for a moon-light swim noticed the body floating in the pool at about 10pm.  It was a Tuesday evening and she had been in there since going down the water slide on Sunday.  Three days!!!  A dead body was in the pool for three days…through a weekend…and no one noticed.  How?  How?  How?  Health Inspectors had been by to test the water twice during this time period and only noted that it was “cloudy”.  Cloudy dead lady water.  Argh!  This makes me want to pass out.  This has sent me in a tailspin.  Now when I swim laps, I am scanning the other lanes for bloated bodies.  I walk to my chaise lounge and check that no fingers are sticking up from the overflow drains.  I notice when a toweled chair hasn’t been visited in a while.  In an ironic twist, the decedent, thirty-six year old­­­­­­­­­­ Marie Joseph, had a tattoo on her hand that said “friends and family” in that fancy greenish-black tattoo cursive.  Where were the friends and family when she didn’t come home from the pool?

So, here I am…fortyish and I’m back to being terrified of the pool.  I swear if something brushes up against me underwater I could easily create a code brown and force the whole pool down for a day.

Jim Jefferies is cooler than my deck

15 Jul

This particular summer has been conspiring against me.  Why is it always about me?

Snakebite suffered a tragic injury while we were on “vacation” and as a result can’t be in a pool, river, creek, lake, or ocean. Bowling and messy crafts are out, too.  Her hand has to be dry and clean at all times.  During summer.  Oh, she also suffered a tragic middle school math average, which has also put summer school in our rotation.  It’s been a blessing actually, because now we have a reason to get up every day and Hot Tub and I have some alone time to go to the pool and not feel guilty about it.  But it’s just hot and thick everywhere else.  I don’t want to go hang out on any deck or patio.  Chastain Park Amphitheater is a stone’s throw from my house and you couldn’t pay me to go sit there (well, maybe you could pay me…I was too hasty).  I know I am good for one white knuckled trip to Six Flags, but that’s about it.  I just want to sit somewhere cool and be entertained.  Hey, the Laughing Skull Lounge is all kinds of cool; it’s dark and climate controlled, the entertainment’s good plus someone will bring you drinks.  According to headliner Jim Jefferies you just need to go behind the toilet door and through the burger joint to get there.  Score!

July resident, Krishna Prasad, got us, dare I say, warmed up and ready to go. Don’t be thrown by the name, he is definitely from around here.  And by around here, I mean Duluth.  You know I love it when people’s outside doesn’t match up with their inside, and frankly I am a bit jealous.  How awesome is it to be able to clear out your airplane row just by deciding to wear a turban on your flight?  I could have used some of that brown skin and a burqa last month for myself.

Matt Pharr, G.ed., played the race card throughout his act.  But, wait; doesn’t he look like a white dude in the picture?  Why yes, he is.  You know, white people have feelings too and have also been deeply affected by the racial ebb and flow in our big melting pot.   Matt is highly offended by the gratuitous use of the “N Word” (you know the one) in the African-American community and is positively stumped by the emotional captivity of blacks still working at Historic Jarrell Plantation.  Matt knows that Tyler Perry Studios may just save the black community from any remaining enslavement residue.  Having this interest in social anthropology, it is only natural that the History Channel should also spellbind Matt.  Or, as I call it, the “Hitler Channel”.  There I go making it about me again.  Sorry.  Matt touches on a notion that has always puzzled me too.  Historical re-enactments: how do they know they have the inflections and body language of delivery correct.  Clearly, there are no recordings of bygone speeches, only transcripts.  We also have no documentation of hecklers, like the “don’t taze me, bro” sound-bytes of days gone by.  It is good summertime fun to read aloud some, say, Abraham Lincoln addresses, but in thick, atrocious accents.  Try it.

Turns out that this oppressive, sizzling heat that we are all bitching about in Georgia is really just God’s way of barbequing rednecks.  At least that’s what Jarrod Harris thinks.  Who really knows God’s plan?  For instance, is it in God’s plan for us to not be able to have Chic-fil-a on a Sunday?  That just seems evil.  That’s not a loving God at all.  Jarrod has a whole bag full of things that he’s realized are out of synch in the world.  One of them is a re-occurring theme in my house: young children with iphones.  Kids should not be allowed to document adults and then post it on YouTube.  It is wrong for those smug kids to be able to judge, document and publish the shortcomings and embarrassing moments of adults.

Other Australian exports

Okay, Jim Jefferies.  Oh, my.  Um, wow.  So, I know Jim from listening to the Adam Carolla podcast.  He’s been on several times and is sharp, concise, informed, confident and has great music recommendations.  I totally dig his vibe.  But, I’ve neither seen his specials, nor TV appearances, so I don’t really know how he works a stage.  Let’s just start with that he is a master storyteller.  He can do jokes and bits, but it’s his recounting and off the cuff quips that are his magic.  Jim dispelled the female-magazine-editor infused myths of what men are looking for in foreplay and romance.  It’s not being tickled with feathers or doused with syrup.  It’s a pretty uncomplicated process…for men.  While we learned that Jim is strongly heterosexual later in the show when he unapologeticlly begged the girl at the table next to us for a no strings attached one night stand, he is aware that there are many advantages for men to be gay.  Gay men can split the expenses of dates and when they get irritated with their partner, they can just punch each other into resolution.  It’s called gay, because it means happy.  Gay men are thrilling and thrilled.  Everyone loves a good queen, but the lesbians are dour and unexciting.  This is because they are around bitchy women all day and have to talk through their issues.  Boo!

Jim went on to divulge true tales of airplane etiquette, and loving the USA (he’s an Aussie), but then expanded on some examples of how our American bravado and Jiminy Cricket myths surrounding how anything is possible if you just dream and try is a steaming pile.  Big, unattainable dreams set people up for failure and eventually just create screwed up, misguided monsters.  Our suicide rate, it turns out, is far higher than that of Africa: a place where people have distended bellies, an abundance of flies and no handles on their water jugs.  Familiar territory was tread as Jim pointedly ranted about how children don’t need to be given self-esteem, told that they are wonderful when they aren’t or smart when they are sub-average.  We agree that calling something by another name doesn’t change what it is.  “Learning difficulty”, while sounding innocuous, is just fantasy code for “stupid”.  It teeters the line of child abuse to teach children otherwise.  I suspect that he may be a fan of the Replacements song “Waitress in the Sky”, which cleverly addressed this topic way back in 1985.  It’s still a thorn.

Now, let’s get to the meat of the show.  Big Daddy and I were at the 10:30pm show, because everything through the weekend was sold-out or nearly sold out.  This late Thursday show was a bonus run.  Jim, had a few Jack and Cokes and a shot or so during his act.  I would imagine he had nipped the sauce earlier as well.  This does not bother me and frankly, there isn’t enough booze that could lubricate me into comfortably performing.  The bulk of my funny comes as I am nestled in a chair with a computer in my lap.  Alone.  Jim began walking into the audience and probing them with sometimes uncomfortably personal questions and observations.  I oscillated between wanting to pee my pants and a flipping stomach every time he looked our way, terrified to become his next object of narrow focus.  Very few people were safe as Jim crawled into their laps, wore their hats, mused about spooky old vaginas, stood on tables, went back to the bar and moved about freely.  Had he not been tethered to the stage by the microphone cord, who knows where he would have ended up.  Bulldogs, maybe?  There was a moment of realization when he asked the audience to please not Tweet any of the show or post anything on YouTube.  I already checked the internets this morning and aside from this blog, I think he’s under the radar.  Sorry, mate.  It was genius and bizarre.  I have never been to a show like this before.  Had it ended up on YouTube, it would be viral.  I would totally watch it again, just to make sure that it really happened.

After the show ended I went to say hello, gush a bit and get a picture.  He was completely tanked so our time was brief.  I did, however, overhear his conversation with a young girl who was asking him about influences and idols.  He said, “Idolize no one…that’s shit.  Just do your own thing”.  Or something like that.  I think that sums him up pretty well.