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December 31, 2004

from our family to yours

Below. 2005.jpg * Just a disclaimer that this was a Halloween picture of DJ. Allah thought it might be a bit frightening without an explanatory note. I don't dress my kids up like this all the time. Mostly.

New Year's Resolutions: Keepers

It has been my experience that the best New Year resolutions to make are the ones that are easiest to keep. This way, you don't disappoint yourself by failing to keep to a diet and you don't hear it from your family that your resolution to be nicer is obviously not holding up. Making easy to keep resolutions is a great way to keep your self esteem from deflating. Remember, keep your expectations of yourself low and you will never be disappointed. 2005 List of Resolutions That I Vow to Keep: * Play Star Wars Battlefront at least once a day * Fill up all 20GB on the iPod * Never go on a diet * Eat more steak * Worry about things I have no control over * Be a disappointment to my parents * Complain about the weather as if there was something anyone could do about it * Embrace lack of impulse control; buy Keurig coffee machine * Be more apathetic * Learn how to curse in Japanese * Floss at least once a day * Make fun of Motley Crue at least once a week (just to piss off my sister) * Avoid social gatherings and large crowds * Become a hermit There. I think I can safely say I'll keep all my resolutions this year, with the exception of the last one, which I will need to become independtly wealthy to achieve. But there always has to be at least one resolution unkept, so as not to upset the delicate balance of my low self-expectations.

Woe is Me: A New Year's Eve Tale

I told this one last year, but being that everyone seems to be on vacation this week, who's going to notice a little repeat? Besides, I need time to work on my annual "resolutions I can keep" post.

Worst New Year's Eve EVER

New Year's Eve, 1992. sp3000.jpgI'm eight months pregnant with my second child. The first child, almost three years old, has a raging fever and sinus infection. My then husband has chosen to take the overnight shift at his job, leaving me home to take care of the sick child on a holiday evening. I make little snacks for myself and the daughter to eat while we wait for midnight. Of course, there is no way I'll make it to midnight because I'm suffering from exhaustion, plus the only way to forget that I am so huge that I waddle instead of walk and it takes me about an hour to tie my shoes is to sleep. Forget the daughter. She's on some mixture of antibiotics and cold medicine that knocks her out for hours at a time. After an hour of coloring and making silly little crafts, I decide to turn the clock ahead, pretend it's midnight, celebrate the new year with a toast of sparkling grape juice (white grape juice and seltzer) and go cry myself to sleep while thinking about the misery that is my life. Daughter has other ideas. She decided that what she really wants to do is to vomit up a pile of medicine, snacks and chocolate milk all over the living room floor. I try not to cry as I attempt to clean up the floor, my very pregnant belly pressing against the rug as I'm on my hands and knees scraping puke from the carpet. The daughter has passed out on the couch. I pick her up while she's sleeping - no small feat for a pregnant woman with sciatica - lay her on her bed and change her out of the vomit-covered pajamas she was wearing. I wash her up and tuck her in and she never flinches, never wakes up even once and I wonder if maybe she's gone into a coma and she's suffering from some terrible strain of the flu or a virus that the doctor overlooked, so I stay in her room and make sure her breathing is even and that she responds - even in her sleep - to a pinch on her arm. She does. I feel bad, but love hurts sometimes, you know? I go back to the living room and clean up the crafts. It's only 8:00. I call my husband at his job to tell him how this night is going but he says he's busy, can't talk and as I go to hang up the phone I hear the sound of a merry party going on in the background and I yell into the receiver I hope you're having fun! Slam the phone down. Go on the couch and pout. I flip through various rocking and rolling New Year's specials. I'm bored. I'm lonely. I wonder what kind of husband Dick Clark would make. I wonder if his wife gets pissed that he's out every New Year's eve, but then I figure that she's probably in the ABC green room munching on caviar and sipping champagne and saying, Yes I'm Dick Clark's wife. I'm soooo lucky. I fall into a light sleep, sitting up with the remote in my hand, and I start to dream about the ghost of New Year's past, when midnight meant giant swigs of Boonesfarm wine that someone stole from their father and a joint passed around with Pink Floyd playing in the background and maybe a stolen kiss, even an attempt to get under my shirt, which I respond to with a kick in the shin. If you're not Dick Clark rockin', don't come knockin'. Yea, I always had a thing for Dick. Clark. 10:00 on this miserable New Year's Eve. I decide to go to bed. I call my parents to wish them Happy New Year and I sneak in a few well-placed twinges of self-pity, hoping they'll tell me to pack up the kid and come on over to celebrate with them. But my parents had a long-standing tradition - since all of their kids were old enough to be out without a curfew - that New Year's Eve, being my father's birthday, is their special night and no one is allowed to interfere with it. My father makes lobster and shrimp and he and my mother sit in front of the fireplace and sip wine and enjoy the evening alone. We all comply with their wishes because it's our understanding that this is the only night of the year that dad scores with mom. At least that's what he tells us. So I get on the phone and whine and cry and tell them I'm going to bed because I just want this year to end and they wish me a Happy New Year and I hang up with my bottom lip trembling as I try to keep from exploding in the biggest fit of self-pity my family has ever seen. I put on my pajamas. I settle into bed with Dick Clark and the remote. And then I hear the sound of little feet and they aren't pitter pattering, they are running. Full steam. And they are accompanied by the sound of a three year old girl screaming Moommy! I can't stop the poop! It won't stop! Oh lord. I get up and catch her just as she's about to slip in whatever she's trailing behind her. Oh, yes. Diarreah. Bad, bad diarreah, most likely a result of the antibiotics that I assumed she lost with the vomiting episode. Her jammies are brown and drooping. It's running down her legs. I scoop her up and run into the bathroom, throw her in the bathtub. It takes about an hour to clean up both of us, the kitchen floor and the bathroom. She falls asleep on the living floor, I just fall to the floor in tears. Dick Clark stares at me from the tv. Stop your crying, woman! Get up and make the most of what you have! Right. I go back into the bathroom to wash my face and see that the daughter, who insisted on helping me clean the tub and the floor, threw some of the used baby wipes in the toilet. I flush without thinking. The toilet overflows. And overflows. I try to stop it. I use the plunger to no avail. I call my father. The...toilet...won't...stop! He thinks I've been drinking. Or smoking. He has no idea what I'm talking about and I take his questions as a sign that he doesn't care. I want my sisters to come take care of me, but they both have plans. Sorry, you've got to deal with the toilet on your own, sis. There is no way I can convey the misery of my evening to them. I call the husband while I'm cleaning up the toilet overflow (I finally got the water to stop pouring out) and he asks why I can't take care of anything myself. I hang up. I cry again. My mother calls to see how it's going with the toilet. I break out into a long, wailing cry, the kind that Italian grandmothers invoke over the coffins of their husbands (whom they hated while they were alive). Nobody loves me! I'm now sobbing and my breath is coming in deep heaves. No...body....loves me! I'm all alone and the toilet won't work and Natalie is losing her lunch from both ends and the baby is kicking me and I smell like poop and vomit and my husband is in New Jersey having the time of his life and I bet Dick Clark would never, ever do this to his wife! When I'm finally done, my mother heaves a heavy sigh. Fine, come on over. I wrap the daughter in a heavy blanket and we walk across the street to my parent's house. It's 11:00. I fall asleep at 11:10. I miss Dick Clark ushering in the New Year and when I wake the house is dark and my parent's bedroom is closed so I assume that my dad got his yearly present anyhow, which makes me want to throw up just thinking of it and thinking of throwing up makes me relive the whole sordid evening in my head. I curl up next to my daughter, in the room where I used to sleep back in the day and I wish a whispered new year greeting in her ear. I silently make some resolutions, some that take years to complete, but I do eventually complete them all. Except for marrying Dick Clark. Who, it turns out, is really a robotron. So I hear.

December 30, 2004

i'm a pod person!

My iPod arrived today and man, is it beautiful. Thanks to Jonathan at Jittery for enabling me to win this prize of all prizes. I've already loaded up a few thousand songs and I'm not nearly done. 20GB, baby. That's a whole lot of music. I tested it out already by taking it food shopping with me. It was kind of nice to be able to roam through the aisles knowing that I had a vast collection of "damn, people, you are in my way" songs with me. That Wu-Tang sure came in handy in the frozen foods aisle. A nice, if frivolous, feature of the of the iPod is the ability to name it. I christened mine Matilda. At least one of you will figure out why. Speaking of winning iPods, my husband is thisclose to winning his contest that I blogged about here, thanks to you guys. If you could all go back and click again I'd be really happy because I don't share well and it would be nice if he had his own. He'd name it Léon. I've got lots of gigabytes to fill. Back to work.

Fiction for Charity, Part VI

This is another one of those short-short stories for the fiction for charity thing that ended up being longer than I intended. So much longer, in fact, that it's become a work in progress. In in the interest of getting these stories up in a timely fashion, I'm going to post Part I of Death Has No Name )tentative title). To be continued.

This one is for Dorkafork, who has unfortunately stopped blogging.

383 Hillside. 383 Hillside. Danny kept looking at the card and then looking at the house and each and every time, they matched up. It didn’t look like a temp agency. All the agencies he had been to before this were housed in brick buildings, except for the one that was in the sub level of the mall. That was the last one he had been to, and they had sent him here because they were closing up for summer vacation. What kind of business goes on summer vacation? Well, no matter. At least they were kind enough to send him somewhere else. Maybe he looked desperate. Maybe they could smell the Eu de Loser that seeped from his pores. Sure, yea. They felt sorry for him, what with the joblessness and the hopelessness and penniless, pitiful state of his wallet. So they sent him to....this house. Which was supposed to be a temp agency.

Danny knocked on the door. Sort of. What he actually did was brush his knuckle along the wood, so as not to make too loud a sound so when no one answered the door he could walk away and not be berated by Dina later on for not trying, because he did. They just didn’t answer. It wouldn’t be a lie to say he didn’t knock. There was knuckle meeting wood and as far as he was concerned, that was a knock and not a lie.

Too bad for Danny that someone inside that house had really good hearing because just as he was about to turn around and head back to his car, the door opened.

“Good day.” A middle aged woman with large breasts and a high, tight ass stood in the doorway. Danny didn’t mean to notice her breasts and ass. That is, he intended to look her in the eyes and say hello, but his brain pulled a fast one on him and directed his eyes towards first the breasts - which looked firm and full and encased in a push-up bra - and then to the woman’s ass, which was heart shaped and rose up in just the right spot and which Danny imaged he could bounce a quarter off of.

“Good day,” she said again.
“Uhh.. Good day. Indeed.” He struggled to stay focused on the woman’s face, without exactly focusing on the way her freckles seemed to form into a kiss. “Is this uhh...,” he glanced at his card and again at the house.
“Forrester Temp Agency. Yes.”
“Yes.”
The woman opened the door a bit more and Danny took that as a sign to enter, even though the woman never actually said come in or do you want a job or would you like to bounce a quarter off my ass?.

It really was a house, with a welcome mat in the foyer and a living room that opened into a kitchen, where children’s drawings hung on the walls, hundreds and hundreds of drawings all taped and curled and faded and torn. Danny got his bad feeling, the one where his skin got all itchy and he automatically reached his hands up to his neck, where he began to scratch until he realized the woman was watching him, head tilted.

“Everything ok?”
“Yep, yep. Ok.”
“Ok, because you look uncomfortable.”

Well yes, Danny thought. I’m uncomfortable because your ass is making me sweat and your wall homage to decades old children’s art is making me itch and oh, I just got this fleeting feeling that the worst decision I ever made in my life was to walk into this place.
“Oh, no. Just a little warm, is all.”
“Well, take off your coat. Mr. Forrester may be a minute, anyhow.”

The woman waltzed over to Danny - no, really, she waltzed - and deftly grabbed the sleeve of his jacket as she swung her arms out and over and the jacket waltzed away with her to the other side of the room, where she tossed it on a wall peg.

"Please, sit." She motioned to the couch, which was olive green stitched with a gold design, which made Danny think of the early 70's, which made him look at the drawings again, which he was sure was from the same decade as the couch. He sat straight upright, spine perfectly aligned, fingers folded together in his lap; a gentlemanly pose. The woman stood in the center of the living room, arms crossed, sizing up Danny. She was actually hmmming and mmhmming as her eyes traveled up and down his body and Danny started scratching his neck again and he knew that under his gray turtleneck, his skin was now blotchy, welted and pink.

Her hmmms and mmmhms were strangely musical, making Danny think of violins and concertos. When she spoke again, only to tell him to sit still, her voice had taken on a quality Danny didn’t notice before; sweet and light and not unlike a flute. This woman was a veritable orchestra! He started straight ahead at her as she continued to tilt her head and sway her hips and hmm and mmhmm and her breasts and ass moved in time with the her musings. He found himself thinking of a quarter rolling down the woman’s left breast and up the right breast and down her sides and hips and over her ass, where it deposited itself in her crack, where it developed an eye, which winked at Danny as if to say, come on over and fish me out of this bitch’s ass.

Danny was alarmed at the raciness of his thoughts, as his mind very rarely traveled in that direction. But alarmed as he was, that did not stop him from feeling a pleasant, warm sensation caress his body when the woman suprisingly touched his cheeks and kissed his forehead. He closed his eyes and embraced the moment - sure, Dina would kick his ass if she ever found out about this, but there was no way he was going to spurn a woman with a body like that, especially when her lips felt like fire and her hands like a hot bath running over him and yea, he had lost all control of himself.

Later, he found himself laying prone on the green and gold couch and the woman nowhere in sight. He had no idea what happened after she had touched him with hands that seemed to melt his skin right off. Did he do it with her? Did he make out with her or get his hand up her sweater or pull a quarter out of her ass? Oh jesuschristalmighty. He made it, did it, got down with a gorgeous babe and he had forgotten the whole thing. She must have drugged him. He immediately searched his pants pocket for his wallet, sure this whole thing was just a ruse to rob him, even though he was broke and there wasn’t much to rob. But his last dollar bill was still folded up in the wallet, his last two pennies tucked in the bottom of his pocket and his over extended credit cards still in place. Something was very, very wrong here and Danny knew that he knew the wrongness of the whole scenario the second his knuckled refused to knock hard on the door, because his gut feelings were always right in the end. If only he had learned to heed those feelings. If only the woman wasn’t so perfectly shaped. If only his head didn’t ache like Daffy Duck had just dropped an anvil on him.

He ran his hands over his body, from top to bottom and side to side, making sure that all his extremities were still intact. Yea, they were all there, even that one. And then he unbuttoned his shirt and checked for the tell tale scar of kidney removal. Danny believed that all urban legends were based on real events and even though he didn’t wake up in a bathtub filled with ice, he wanted to make certain that the woman hadn’t removed any of his vital organs while he was passed out.

When he was sure that he was as complete a human as when he entered the house, Danny sat up slowly and decided to make some decisions. That was the way Danny always did things - first he would decide upon what he was going to do - and actually say to himself, ok I have decided to do such and such - and then he would make the logical next set of decisions. Here, it meant sitting very still on the couch until his head cleared. Then he would grab his jacket, go out the door, get in his car, dig his cell phone out of the glove compartment, call the police and smoke a cigarette while he waited.

And what would he tell the police? Oh, yes. This beautiful woman with a killer body seduced me by humming at me and then I woke up. Well, yes, I guess you could say she molested me. No, I’m not quite sure if she did more than kiss me because I was passed out. Yes, officer, I still have my kidneys (because surely they, too, would suspect kidney thieves) and my $1.02 is still mine and so I’m not really sure what they did with me. And then he made the decision to not call the cops at all because somehow Dina would find out and then he’d be really, deeply screwed.

After a few minutes, when Danny’s head had gone from throbbing with pain to dull ache, he made another decision, this time to walk around the room and observe. And then he would leave. He would need to be able to describe his surroundings in great detail when he told this story at the Friday poker game. Details made a story believable and this one was not believable by any stretch, so he would have to bring in as much minutiae as possible.

He tiptoed into the kitchen, so as not to disturb the woman, who was probably lurking in a bedroom somewhere down the hall. Danny realized he knew the layout of the house. It was a cape, the same kind of house Dina’s mother had. He peered down the short hall which was off the kitchen and nodded to himself when he saw the familiar set up. Bathroom on the right. Closet, basement entrance and small room on the left. Another room straight ahead. At Dina’s mother’s house, the room on the left was the tv room and the room at the end of the hall was Dina’s childhood bedroom, left intact with the purple curtains and Cabbage Patch dolls and wicker laundry basket, in much the same way parents of dead children often left their bedrooms untouched, unmoved, like a forever shrine to their child. Danny wasn’t stupid. Well, not that stupid, anyhow. Dina’s mother was waiting for her to come to her senses, leave that no good husband of hers and come back to her purple room and Cabbage Patch kids. Forever 12. Dina once told Danny that when she got her period at 13, her mother cried for two days straight because it meant Dina wasn’t “her baby” anymore. Danny probably should have run at that point, but it’s kind of hard to run when your fiancé is holding your balls in a death grip.

So there he was in the hallway of this strange yet familiar house, having just woken up from a forced nap that might have been two minutes or two hours or a Rip Van Winkle amount of time. He touched his hand to his chin and it was still smooth and hairless, so he knew it was probably still the same day as when the woman kissed him. God, I hope I felt her ass before she knocked me out.

He turned around again, back into the kitchen and faced the wall of children’s art. The first one he examined was by Ezekiel, age 6 ½, who scrawled a picture of what appeared to be a caped mean with giant head and sticks for legs. Underneath the drawing, Ezekiel wrote: Dear Mr. Death, thank you foryur vizit and for beeing so nise. Luv, Ezekiel. The boy had dotted the drawing with tiny X’s and O’s all around Mr. Death, a hailstorm of love raining down on his big head.

Danny looked at a couple more drawings. Some of them were dated. Love, Andrew, July 1976. Kisses, Bettina, 1982. There was one on blue construction paper, a yellow crayon/white chalk masterpiece with the big headed guy front and center, standing in a garden of daisies, a crowd of stick figure kids gathered around him. Dear Mr. Death, you are cool. Thanks for the gum and stuff and I hope I can work for you some day. Love, Jaime, age 12.

Danny was about to let his imagination run away, far, far, away, when he heard a small, feminine cough behind him. He spun around and she was there, the woman, her breasts and her ass. Danny was torn between screaming and staring. He chose staring, as it presented less of a problem. The woman smiled at him.

“The kids just love Mr. Death. Such a shame he has to retire. They’ll miss him so.” Her voice was lilting and wistful and nearly rocked him into a state of euphoria.
“Yes. Yes, they’ll m..m...miss him. Mr. Death. Y..y...yes.” Danny silently admonished himself. Stupid Danny. Stupid Danny. You sound like a blithering idiot, a starstruck school boy, a damn bedwetter. The more coherent side of Danny’s mind quickly reminded him that they were faced with a rather strange situation and it was ok to stammer, even in front of a beautiful woman who may or may not have molested him while he was passed out.
“We’ve done the necessary study on you, Danny. We’d like to hire you.”
“Excuse me?”
“For the Death job? Hire you?” The question marks in her voice made Danny feel like an idiot. And perhaps he was, because he had no damn clue what she was talking about.
“I was looking for a temporary accounting job. I think I was sent to the wrong kind of agency.”
“Hmm.” She put a finger to her lip, her hmmm still sizing him up. “No. Joe never makes that kind of mistake. Or any mistake. No. No. No. Joey sent you to us for a reason, I’m sure.”
“Joey?”
“From BestTemps?” Again with the questioning tone. This time the woman raised her eyebrows, which only added to the effect of her speaking to a retarded person. She sighed. “The agency. In the mall. That sent you here.”
“Oh, yea. That one. But I applied for an accounting position, not an acting job.”

The woman laughed. She threw her head back, her red ringlets dangling in the air, and she opened her mouth wide and laughed. Her hands were on her hips and when her head leaned back like that, her breasts pointed straight at Danny. He thought of a display in a hands-on museum and for a brief second he imagined a “touch me” sign on hanging off the woman’s sweater. She was still laughing and leaning as Danny shoved his hands in his pocket, forcing himself to control his impulses. He always had a hard time with that. Dina told him he had ADD, but he shrugged it off as Dina’s way of saying “you don’t pay attention to me.”

The woman stopped laughing abruptly and faced Danny again. Her look was serious, nothing like the playful amusement that he had seen on her face since he first arrived. Her eyes were hard, her lips pursed and her arms crossed in front of her chest.

“This. Is not. Acting.”

------------------------------

to be continued.

catching up

This is the first day since way before Christmas where we have no plans, nothing to do, no obligations. I'm not even going to clean today. In fact, I think I'll just sit here at the computer, listening to my Launch station, playing games and catching up with various things. If all goes well, I'll have my last two pieces of fiction for charity up today. Meanwhile, I'm getting busy with the 500 songs annotation thing. I take on the uber-sentimental Manhattans hit, Kiss and Say Goodbye today. Check it out, yo.

The Year of Aging Ungracefully

Oh, 2004, I hardly knew you. Twelve months isn't a lot of time to get to know someone (some year) but let's just say I'm glad - for the most part - that we got to spend some time together. Sure, our relationship was somewhat rocky and there were times (as in all my past relationships) I wished you would just die already, but we saw it through to the bitter end. As our time together winds down, it would only be right to take a scrapbook trip down memory lane. Actually, no. I don't have the self-indulgent will power necessary at the moment to go through a year's worth of posts and rehash the whole damn thing here. That might change, of course, as self indulgence is one of those things that comes in waves. The tide is out right now. I will say this: The best and worst thing to happen to me this year was becoming a homeowner. It's a joy, it's a tax write off, it's an investment, it's the most wonderful feeling. And it's a lot of work. Home ownership will suck your bank account dry like nothing else. You start off with all these grand plans and realize soon enough that you will need ten years and fifteen side jobs (this one sounds interesting) to finish off those plans. So you end up living in a place of halves - half finished bathroom, half finished office, half the moldings need replacing, half the hallway floor is warped, the previous owner had only half a brain, hey, can we pay half the mortgage this month? But it's my home, mine all mine. It may be a crap box, but it's a decent crap box and I'm (mostly) proud to call it my own. So that was the standout moment from 2004, which wasn't really a moment, but more like an eternity from the first day we looked at the house, right through the buying stage, the packing, the moving and the moving in, which, six months later, we still feel like we're doing. The move has consumed my year. I suppose this is a good thing, as previous years have been consumed by things like poverty, divorce, , really bad football teams and who can forget 1997, which was consumed with buying vintage Star Wars figures? How times change. This year I was consumed with not buying anything George Lucas related. I think this was the first year I really started feeling my age. It wasn't turning the ripe old age of 42 that did it for me - no, it was when the Beastie Boys released their lastest album. To quote myself (here comes the self indulgence!): Listening to middle aged white men rap is sort of like watching a 70 year old clown tell fart jokes to a room full of kindergarteners. Something about the gray hair and Geritol coated voice shouting All you klingons in da fuckin' house really set me off. Once Ad Rock and the crew are old, you're old, man. Talking to myself here, not you. 2004 was a mean mistress in that respect. It forced me to relive my youth again and again, shoving the idols of my teenage and young adult years down my throat, forcing me to puke up memories that were best left dormant. Duran Duran. Dio. Europe. Heart. Motorhead. They all released albums this year. Can't these people just let it go, already? Why must they hang on to the frayed ends of their careers like that? Live off the past accolades, guys! That's what you're supposed to do. I'm talking to you, Motley Crue! At least when Danzig hangs around, he knows how to make it interesting. I'm gonna be eatin' my cereal out of the bottom of your fucking skull. Verständlich? You know what else aged me? Natalie started high school this year. That's like taking a poison tipped arrow and sticking it in the heart of my inner child. It wiped the youthful glow right off of my face and, I swear, two days into Nat's high school career, I had wrinkles, a full head of gray hair and I was saying things like "when I was your age...." I'm not supposed to have a child in high school. I listen to heavy metal! I watch cartoons! I'm only 18, I swear... damn, you, chronological aging. Oh, the hell with this recap. It's too painful. I started off the year full of vim and vigor and I'm ending it hoping that my company leaves at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve so I can get to bed at a reasonable hour. What the hell happened to me? Damn you, 2004! I shake my fists in fury at your cruel, cruel, aging mechanism. Anyhow, you just knew where this was headed. Below, a list of my favorite posts from 2004 which, while a somewhat rocky year, was a pretty decent year for me, writing-wise. Salad blogging obsessive compulsive zombie disorder Ben Franklin and the Magic 8 Ball All I Want For Christmas - A John Kerry Adventure George Lucas Almost Ate My Soul (in which I fend off the power of the dark side with the help of Green Day) Channeling Grandpa Simpson Culture Wars: Disco Sucks! Babies, Songs and Stepford Mommiesl Stay gold Dissecting Popeye on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday Happy Birthday Donald Duck, You Dirty Old Man There's probably more that I liked enough to put on this list, but I'm too damn lazy (or old and tired) to go through the year in posts. If you've got a suggestion to add to the list (surely you have memorized each and every thing I wrote, no?) feel free to add it. And that was the year that was. Unless something of great magnitude (my breast suddenly lift up again, the wrinkles disappear, George Steinbrenner retires, Motley Crue cancels their reunion) happens in the next day or so to make me feel like this wasn't The Year I Got Old.

December 29, 2004

Line of the Day

After dealing with the Worst. Waitress. Ever. at a diner today, I complained - vociferously - to the manager, he said "What do you want me to do, take her out back and kill her?" Well, now that you ask...

random christmas gift photo

Present to my father. Message to my mother. There are few things more annoying than a kitchen buddinsky.

head smacker

Now I remember why I stopped doing serious/politically charged blogging. DOH! Sorry if you came here from a link looking for a post that has vanished into thin air. What you're looking for can most likely be found here.

December 28, 2004

Pod People and a Carnival of Stories

First bit of news: I AM TEH WINNER!!!11!! If you look over to the right, you will see an ad for Jittery. Jittery runs Blogpoint, which I am using (also over on the right) to sell some stuff. Jittery, bless their little souls, had a contest to give away an iPod to one of their users. And YES, I am that user! I won something. Not just something, but a freaking iPod! At least one of my technological dreams has come true. Thank you, Jittery people! Second bit of news: I will be hosting the Storyblogging Carnival on January 3. There are so many great storytellers in the blogosphere. Thanks to Donald Crankshaw, who started the carnival, you can share your fiction with the blog world and all its readers. If you'd like to particpate, all the info you need to know (and I need to know) is below). Spread the word! [Instructions from Mr. Crankshaw] The next Storyblogging Carnival will be here on Monday, January 3, 2005. If you have a story on your blog that you’d like to have included in the Carnival, please e-mail me at karlrovesbrain-at-gmail.com, including the following information (and title the email STORYBLOGGING): * Name of your blog * URL of your blog * Title of the story * URL for the blog entry where the story is posted * A word count * A suggested rating for adult content (G, PG, PG-13, R) * A short blurb describing the story * Author’s name or pen name The post may be of any age, from a week old to years old. The submission deadline is 11:59 PM Eastern time on Saturday, January 1st. If I don’t reply to your submission within 24 hours, please try again. I’d hate to miss anybody. Will include up to 20 submissions. More detailed information follows: 1. The story or excerpt submitted must be posted on-line as a blog entry, and while fiction is preferred, non-fiction storytelling is acceptable. 2. The story can be any length, but the Carnival will list them in order of length, from shortest to longest, and include a word count for each one. 3. You may either send a complete story, a story in progress, or a lengthy excerpt. By lengthy excerpt, I mean that it should be a significant portion of the story, at least 10% of the whole thing. You should indicate the word count for both the excerpt and the complete story in the submission, and you should say how the reader can find more of the story in the post itself. 4. If the story spans multiple posts, each post should contain a link to the beginning of the story, and a link to the next post. You should submit the first post to the Carnival. 5. The host has sole discretion to decide whether the story will be included or not, or whether to indicate that the story has pornographic or graphically violent content. The ratings for the story will be decided by the host. I expect I'll be pretty lenient on that sort of thing, but I have some limits, and others may draw the line elsewhere. Aside from noting potentially offensive content, while I may say nice things about stories I like, I won't be panning anyone's work. I expect future hosts to be similarly polite. 6. The story may be the blogger's own or posted with permission, but if it is not his own work he should gain permission from the author before submitting to the Carnival. Previous carnivals can be found here.

psa -2

All you people - from both sides of the political alley - who are using the disaster in Asia as a springboard to frothing at the mouth about people/politicians/religions/organizations you hate - are big, giant, fucking assholes.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Please click the above link for a long list of organizations that are seeking donations for the relief effort. The list will be updated during the day.


psa

I am no longer going to update the How to Help post here - it is already time consuming trying to keep the post at TCP updated. Please check this post at TCP for ways to help - the list is constantly being updated and includes local as well as national agencies, in addition to smaller charities and organizations that are starting relief efforts. Also listed are numbers to call if you or anyone you know is searching for friends or relatives missing in the area. Tsunami Help Blog has been a tremendous source of links, news and charities, as well as emergency phone numbers.

something i can never have

I fell in love on Christmas Day. Deep, lustful, head-spinning love, the kind that takes your breath away and makes you drool like a slobbering idiot every time you gaze upon your new interest. I have dreamed about my new love. I have fantasized. I have concocted all kinds of ways in which I would be able to snatch this love away from its current possessor. I have pined. Oh, how I have pined. It happened at my father's house. It was a magical moment, a love at first sight occurrence that swept me off my feet. I literally swooned. I touched my new friend surreptitiously, feeling the sleek contours, taking in the warmth that exuded from my object of affection. As often happens in life, I have fallen hard for the unattainable. Why do we seek that which we can not have? Why do we reach for the stars, knowing damn well that the stars are not ours to be had? Why, oh, why, did I have to fall in love with a $250 coffee machine? It's name is Keurig . It rolls off my tongue, it does. Do you have any idea what a machine like this means to a coffee lover? Oh, I'm sure by now you've all heard of pods, the latest trend in coffee making, but have you seen a pod machine up close, in someone's home? Do you have any idea what it would be like for me to wake up in the morning and have a steaming, fresh, frothy cup of coffee twenty seconds later? And I could choose which of several blends I wanted? I mean, I could have a breakfast blend at 5am and a cup of Columbian at 5:30 without having to make two different pots of coffee! I could have tea in the afternoon and hot chocolate at night! Hazelnut after dinner! This beautiful, sexy machine could feed both my need for delicious coffee and my need for instant gratification. It is, without a doubt, the greatest invention of our time. Right now, at this very second, I am trembling with the thought of sticking a pod in its receptacle and making it foam. Alas, I cannot spend that amount of money on a coffee maker. In the true tradition of unrequited love, I will settle for something less, something not as spectacular, something that doesn't give me the same thrill when I come in physical contact with it, but nonetheless offers some of the same qualities. It will be a constant reminder of what I could not have and I will spend many a moment staring at whatever lesser machine I can latch on to and wondering, what if.... Sometimes I will yell out Keurig! YES! in the midst of making a cup of coffee, letting my fantasies slip out while I'm fondling my cheap, not nearly as lovely coffee pod machine. But that is love, isn't it? Settling for second best because the first best is a snobby, stuck up bitch who wouldn't give you the time of day. Well, it's love in the time of coffee pod machines. Oh, Keurig. Some day. Some day I shall grip you in my arms and never let you go. For now, I will just visit the object of my lustful desire at my father's house, where I will build up a feverish envy and simmering hate toward my parents for being able to obtain the one thing I want and can't have. Anyone know a good coffee therapist? Update: Thanks to Keith, I found this blog entry on the Senseo. Guess I won't be buying that cheap imitation. Time to find another not-as-great-as-the-real-thing machine. Update 2: I may be obsessive about coffee, but at least I'm not crazy about cookie jars.

December 27, 2004

Earthquake Relief (Updated)

NOTICE:
I am no longer going to update this post - it is already time consuming trying to keep the post at TCP updated. Please check this post at TCP for ways to help - the list is constantly being updated and includes local as well as national agencies, in addition to smaller charities and organizations that are starting relief efforts. Also listed are numbers to call if you or anyone you know is searching for friends or relatives missing in the area. If you are linking to this post, please link to this one instead.
* India: Prime Minister's National Relief Fund, by bank transfer, or by credit card * Sri Lanka: Reliefweb (United Nations office) * The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE (CCODP) is accepting funds to aid victims * Sustainable Development and Ecological Development Society seeks to raise $100,000 for affected population in India. * Canadian Red Cross is calling for cash donations To be updated - if you know of any rescources for sending donations, please leave a link in the comments. * Red Cross/Red Crescent is accepting donations * Via Tim Blair: Jay Manifold has a list of relief organizations you can donate to; Indian blogger Chanakya has some links, also. Updates - 12/27 7am EST * Here's a list of banks in India that are taking donations * Oxfam is taking donations * Save the Children is creating an Asia Earthquake/Tidal Wave Relief Fund * CARE Australia has launched an earthquake appeal * From the TCP Forums:
Thai Red Cross Siam Commercial Bank - Red Cross Branch Acct: 045-248899-3 Swift: SICROTHBK Have your bank use the note section to note that the donation is for Relief in Phuket. The Thai Ministry of Health is the lead agency, and they are looking for volunteers, especially those who speak Italian, French or German. There is a shortage of medical supplies and storage facilities for bodies. All donations are appreciated.
* AmeriCares is accepting donations Update: Local residents have set up the Southeast Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog, which has lots of information on how to help the victims and important phone numbers, as well as updates on the situation. ---Updates 12/28 6:30 am EST----- * Oxfam donations page * Mercy Corps * Singapore Red Cross * Indian Red Cross * AID India * The Tamil Association of Colorado is collecting relief funds. Make checks out to: Tamil Association of Colorado. In the memo, write "Tsunami Relief Fund." Send to: PO Box 270243, Littleton, Co 80127. The organization's e-mail address is: tamilcolorado@yahoo.comTo donate to the International Red Cross, call 800 HELP NOW, or log onto DenverRedcross.org and designate funds for "International Response Fund." [via TalkLeft] * Stand Up For Penang relief fund * Indian Association of North Texas Religious Charities: [List via Ilyka] *Christian Aid * American Jewish World Service * Catholic Relief * American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee * International Orthodox Christian Charities * Islamic Relief

so this was Christmas

We've got fresh, sparkly snow out here this morning and even though it's only a few inches, we're going to pretend it's a major blizzard and we're snowbound. Why? Because there is no better way to spend the days after Christmas than stuck in your house with all your new toys/games/DVDs. Christmas was good. A healthy mixture of mudslides, karaoke, board games, too much food, wine, weird relatives and the slight buzz one gets from opening presents all made for a very merry Christmas. And how was yours? What did you all get? [I'll post some holiday photos - and get back to more regular blogging - later on today]

December 26, 2004

Human Tragedy or Pop Star Circus? Cable News Makes the Call

After spending all day covering the earthquake for TCP and trying to dig up news and updates, I have to say I am really, really disappointed in the network coverage US) of this tragedy. 11,000 people dead in one day and they give the same, if not more, coverage to the Michael Jackson trial. Is it because the dead aren't Americans? Or is it because the networks think no one will care? Or do they just really believe that we are all more interested in who was hot or not in 2004 than 11,000 fellow humans dying in one day?

aww damn

Reggie White is dead. Back when I worked in a record store in the 80's, I had this friend Kevin, a Cowboy fan, who was fond of saying "Damn, damn Reggie White!" Every time I see Reggie's name, I can hear Kevin saying that. Damn, damn Reggie White. One of my football heroes is gone. RIP, man.

4,000 Dead in quake

Post-Christmas blogging on delay, as I spend some time over at Command Post, covering the devastating story of the Southeast Asia earthquake. 4,000 dead from the quake and resulting tsunamis, floods, etc. The death toll will surely rise today. I'm collecting links for relief efforts and emergency numbers (there are a lot of western tourists in the are this time of year) - if you know of any, please drop a link in the comments. 4,000 dead. Hard to fathom. Today happens to be the one year anniversary of the Bam earthquake that killed over 4,000 and devasted the area.

December 23, 2004

The ASV Happy Holidays Open House

With the exception of a post or two here and the possibility of finishing his short story today, this will be my final ASV post until the day after Christmas. I leave you with an open thread by the fireplace. I left some hot cocoa and the liquor cabinet is open. There are freshly baked cookies. Talk about anything. Gather round the fireplace and tell stories. Let's talk - talk about your holiday food and holiday traditions and whether or not you think Christmas tree Peeps are overdoing it just a little bit. Tell me your holiday horror stories. Paste in the lyrics to a South Park Christmas song. Give me a recipe. Throw me some links. Drop a link to your own posts about the holidays. It's an open house, write anything you want. Thank you all for all the comfort and joy you have brought me this past year(s). May all your days be filled with good cheer and may your holiday season be merry and bright.

the reason for the season

Circa 2002, my action figure nativity. That's all I got for this morning. Oh, and this: Download - Weird Al/The Night Santa Went Crazy(MP3) Ho, ho, ho!

December 22, 2004

the things we do for love

I was not planning on blogging tonight because I'm up to my ass in wrapping paper and Scotch Tape (c). Being the world's worst wrapper (not to mention worst rapper), it's a frustrating experience. However, my husband has pleaded with me to post this link, which you will click, which will enable him to win a free iPod, which I will usurp from him. I do it because I love him. And because he bought me this and this for Christmas even though we said we weren't exchanging gifts this year. So maybe if he wins an iPod I can say it was because of me, because I got you all to click that link for him. And then I won't feel so guilty about having only bought him this. You don't have to do anything but click and close. What a great Christmas present - you can help relieve me of gift guilt! Back to wrapping. And rapping. [What am I rapping? Anyone else seeing those annoying, east side, west side, where you at commercials? Yea, that.]

A Festivus for the Rest of Us: Grievance Airing Day

Tomorrow begins the great holiday of Festivus. grievances.gif Festivus begins with the airing of grievances. Please feel free to use this space to do just that - air your grievances, whether they be toward me or your spouse or the creators of the horrid new shows on Adult Swim or your local radio station or Ben Stiller or your neighbor's dog or what have you. You know you have been aggrieved this year - now is the time to let it all loose. When we are done with our grievances, we shall challenge each other to feats of strength. As I said last year: So join me in celebrating Festivus. Air your grievances. Share your disappointments. Make challenges you would probably never win if you had to actually perform them. There's a whole world out there just chock full of crap for you to carp about. Now's your chance. Take a whirl around my Festivus pole and let loose a torrent of atrocities. Trust me, it will make you feel better in the long run and it will empty your soul of all the darkness living inside of you so you can enjoy the rest of the holidays in peace. Serenity now! When you think about it, this is the perfect holiday for me. Festivus rocks.

around the blogs in twenty seconds

* We've finally added something to Command Post that people have been demanding (and I mean demanding) for some time now. So go ahead and get your feet wet in the Command Post Forums. Lots of hot topics and a chance to have interesting, informative and polite discussions on gentle topics like war and terrorism. * Have you been reading Sheila O'Malley? If not, you are missing out on a great thing. Start at the top and scroll down and do not miss the Jewel poetry as well as the comments on this post. * To some, Xmas is about coke, whores, and ruined dreams. Yep. Download some songs that show the dark underside of Christmas, at one of my favorite recently discovered blogs. * My newest blog crush has the lowdown on tacky Christmas decorations. I've sort of abandoned my tacky Christmas project this year, due to lack of interest on your part. Maybe it's all that "missing Christmas" stuff going around blogs. * Treacher. Need I say more? Scroll down as well. * Another new favorite of mine, ProSound blog, tells the tale of The Smithereens are Cokeheads. Ya think? * I need to do a 500 songs post today (at the rate I'm going, it's going to take two years to complete). Pick a song, any song. * The Storyblogging carnival is over at Dodgeblogium this week. Check it out.

The Itchy Skin of Christmas (plus a song)

An emailer asks: Why do you hate Christmas so? I don't. I know it may come off that way but I don't hate Christmas, per se. Christmas just happens to entail my least favorite activity ever, shopping. And I don't particularly hate shopping as much as I hate shopping in person. I could spend all day browsing Amazon or Think Geek, but put me in a mall or department store and you've thrown me into my own personal hell. Ok, so it's not really shopping I hate. It's people. Let's face it, I'm not a people person. As I mentioned yesterday, I have some kind of crowd phobia. More than two people is a crowd to me. I'm not much of a socializer and I'm one of those crazy people who values their personal space. If I could build a four foot invisible wall of solitude around me, I would do it. I even mentioned to someone the other day that it's a good thing I'm not independently wealthy, or I would be a recluse by now. Sometimes I just have to cast my phobias and hatred of humanity aside and venture outside of my home. Work is fine. I have my own office, I'm by myself most of the day and not in some cubicle where I have to listen to other people chatter away or hear their phones ring or listen to their music. My job is solitary and I like it just fine. It's when I have to do anything that involves being with people other than myself or my immediate family that everything falls apart. So I've made three trips to the mall this week, plus two to Best Buy and two to Target. I make these sacrifices so my son can have his electronic dart game and my daughter can have her Hot Topic clothing and the rest of my family can be all smiles and happiness when they unwrap their Christmas gifts. I broke out in hives at Best Buy last night, which is a good indication that Christmas is just a few days away. Sunday's trip to Broadway Mall had to be the worst experience ever. From the woman in Target (yes, there is a Target in the mall) who kept ramming my ankles with her cart, to the overbearing, aggressive salespeople in that gadget store (no, I do not want a sheep with a clock in its stomach, thank you), to the girl at the Taco Bell in the food court who did not understand that in English, two burritos means TWO BURRITOS and not one taco supreme, to the laughing, smiling little children playing in front of the escalator, it was a day that left me sympathizing with people who climb water towers armed with machine guns. By the time I got to the escalator kids, I was already jumping out of my skin. My poor daughter, who swore that she would never, ever ask me to take her shopping again, was hiding behind her packages because I was snipping at every person who rudely bumped into me. Just let it go, mom. No. I will not let it go. Is it really that hard to watch where you are walking? Is it really that difficult to put the cell phone down for just a minute or two while you are navigating through a very crowded mall? Is it asking too much for people to apologize when they hip check you into the wall? So when the time came to flee the mall and we walked over to the down escalator only to be blocked by three little kids playing precociously in front of it, I lost it. No parent in site. Just these little tikes, maybe six or seven years old, blocking my path and playing a game of chicken with the escalator steps. Their shoe laces were untied and I think they were attempting to test out the age old theory that if you get your lace stuck in the steps, the escalator will drag you downward to certain death. So I waited a few seconds for them to move. They didn't. That's when I leaned down so I was eye level with each of them. I put on my best "this woman is psycho" smile, stared straight at them and said in a voice tinged with a growl "Are you going down or are you just playing?" The three kids just stared at me and one of them giggled and turned back towards the escalator, putting her foot down on the first step. She said "We're playing." So I looked right at her and said "Santa's not bringing you anything for Christmas." She stared a me for a minute, grabbed the other two kids and ran off to find their parents, I presume, who left them there to play by this mechanical monster while they sipped lattes in Starbucks. Anyhow, what I started off wanting to address was not malls or bratty kids or rude salespeople, but the perceived absence of Christmas in the malls. Maybe I didn't see any life size nativities set up in the center square, but I certainly saw my share of Christmas-y decorations, heard my share of "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas" and saw enough people waiting in line to greet the somewhat disheveled and tired looking Santa to know that Christmas was, indeed, present. As I drive down my local equivalent of Main Street, I see wreaths and garland hung from the light fixtures and banners proclaiming Seasons Greetings, said banners adorned with angels (who I assume you have heard on high). As an atheist who has already proclaimed that I am not offended by depictions of the holiness of the day on public property, I have to note that I am also not offended by the more secular greetings of Happy Holidays that adorn many stores. I take Happy Holidays to mean Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, not to mean Happy Non Religious Winter Days To You. No matter. Tis the season regardless of how many decorations are strung in its honor, right? We all know it's Christmas, the scrooges and grinches all know it's Christmas and the cash registers at the mall all know it's Christmas. And I know it's Christmas because I'm sucking down Benadryl to get rid of these anxiety hives on my neck and chest. Maybe if I wear a low cut green sweater, I'll look like a Christmas tree. A walking holiday decoration! How's that for Christmas spirit? Well, I have one last shopping trip to make today and providing that I don't go on a murderous rampage before it's all over, I will finally be able to relax this evening and enjoy the remainder of the week for what it truly is to me: a time to spend time with my family, eat like a pig, drink like a fish, play stupid trivia games that always result in a thrown game board, give, receive and take a week long forced vacation from work in which the building is closed yet I have to use my own vacation time. I'm trying here. Really. I want to enjoy it. I think I'm just too high strung to ever really look past the aggravations and see the genuine warmth and love that pervades our culture during this time. Hey, I said that with a straight face. Maybe this will help: Download - Blink 182 - I Won't Be Home For Christmas [Sorry, download has expired] Lyrics below (Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la) (Tis the season to be jolly fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la) Outside the carolers start to sing I can't describe the joy they bring Cause joy is something they don't bring me My girlfriend is by my side From the roof are hanging sickles of ice Their whiny voices get irritating It's Christmas time again So I stand with a dead smile on my face Wondering how much of my time they'll waste Oh God I hate these Satan's helpers And then I guess I must have snapped Because I grabbed a baseball bat And made them all run for shelter It's Christmas time again It's time to be nice to the people you can't stand all year I'm growing tired of all this Christmas cheer You people scare me Please stay away from my home If you don't wanna get beat down Just leave the presents and then leave me alone. Well I guess it's not cool to freak on Christmas Eve Cause the cops came and arrested me They had an unfair advantage And even though the jail didn't have a tree Christmas came a night early Causes a guy named Bubba unwrapped my package (hot damn) It's Christmas time again It's time to be nice to the people you can't stand all year I'm growing tired of all this Christmas cheer You people scare me Please stay away from my home If you don't wanna get beat down Just leave the presents and then leave me alone I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas (please post my bail) I won't be home I won't be home for Christmas

no big unit for christmas

The deal is dead. Which is just fine, as I wasn't that thrilled about it, anyhow.

Jason didn't like the deal, either, so I'm not alone in not mourning the passing of the Randy Johnson as a Yankee dream.

Besides, if I really wanted a big unit, I'd ask Santa to bring me one of these (NSFW).

[it does occur to me that non baseball fans may be wondering what the hell the 'big unit' thing is all about. I'll let them wonder, it's more fun that way]

Update: Baseball Crank writes:

So, after all the speculation about Javier Vazquez not being able to pitch in New York, Vazquez apparently scuttles the Randy Johnson deal by refusing to report to the Dodgers for a physical.....he seems to have decided that he'd rather try to make it here, and prove he could make it a-ny-where
And Ed in the comments says:
And if it turns out that Javier Vazquez was in any way responsible for the deal falling apart, he has as much future in New York as Jason Giambi, anyway
.

The plot thickens.

December 21, 2004

stuffing a day's worth of blogging material into one post

Like a stocking stuffed with goodies. That turn out mostly to be crap toys made in a third world factory and some stale candy. Little to no blogging today. Work is kicking my ass, we have a holiday obligation with friends tonight, both my kids have huge projects due tomorrow, I haven't finished my Christmas shopping yet and I haven't even wrapped one single present and I still have to figure out a way to get my kidney out of my body so I can sell it in order to afford the rest of my holiday shopping - or I'll be forced to dig those red fishnet stockings and green bikini out of the closet. Money, cash, hos, baby. I did get one blog thing accomplished and that was to start using Jittery/BlogPoint, an adverstiser of this blog. If you'll notice on the right sidebar, I am using it to sell a piece of my husband's art (and lo, did we learn our lesson last time about shipping/packing). I'm thinking of this as a blog yard sale. We have tons of stuff around the house (including unopened video games) that we'd like to get rid of and what better place to sell it then right here? If have a blog you've got some items you'd like to depart with/make cash off of and you can't be bothered with the whole eBay thing (BlogPoint gives you much more control), then you might want to look into this. And that ends today's commerical portion of ASV. I will no go back to working/printing out items for a timeline of space travel. Which leads me to a question: Do teachers ever take into account that a child might have projects going on in other classes as well? How hard would it be for the teachers to get together and say, hmmm...do you think giving the kids four projects to complete in one week, in addition to regular homework, tests and quizzes would be too much? This is where I usually end up doing half a project, more out of pity than anything else. Also (trying to cram everything into this one post) it has come to my attention that nobody outside of Long Island knows what a Dairy Barn is. This is a Dairy Barn. It's a small store that looks - you guessed it - like a barn. It is specifically a drive through store; you can't walk int (unless you're buying beer, then you have to get out of your car). Not only are these stores wonderful in cold weather when you don't want to leave the warmth of your auto, they are also a boon for lazy people who just don't feel like walking the ten feet from parking lot to front door of the 7-11 and for people like me, who realize they are out of cigarettes/coffee/ice cream and can get into their car in pajama bottoms, a t-shirt, no bra or shoes, and no one will be the wiser. I think that's everything. I'm going to test my anxiety levels by braving Target during lunch hour. I would say wish me luck, but you'd be better off wishing luck to those who come in contact with me. I have not had good shopping experiences lately, which can be attritbuted to my psychological shortcomings, my fear of crowds and my hatred of humanity, but a girl's gotta shop when Christmas is coming (online shopping just wasn't happening this year for various reasons). I think I picked a bad week to be out of Xanax.

rudolph on repeat

I'm going to have take a pass on any lengthy morning blogging until it warms up around these parts. We still haven't replaced the windows in our home office - that home improvement money sure does run out fast. Maybe we should have waited on fixing the bathroom. I mean, what's more important, a decent toilet bowl and shower or a warm office? Anyhow, it's about ten below in here (give or take a few for the wind chill factor) and the space heater isn't really helping. So I offer you a timely repeat until I can get to the cozy confines of work. Update: Wind Rider, having seen my home office up close and personal, has taken pity on me and is trying to collect $345,273.47 (Lawn Guyland rates) for my new windows. The $273.47 cents is for parts. The rest is for labor. ---- rudgun.jpgBefore you all go grab your latest issue of TV Guide and start circling the various holiday specials you intend to watch (A Kid Rock Christmas, anyone?), I'd like to talk to you about something. Rudolph. Is there a creature so beloved as that red-nosed reindeer? Is there any stop-motion animated movie that tugs at your heart more? No, of course not. You will gather - and by you I mean everyone, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Satanists - in front of the tv with your children at some point in the next month to watch this time-honored tale. Well, I'm here to put a stop to that. Rudolph is not a cuddly, warm, fuzzy story. Rudolph, in fact, is a tale of pacifism and appeasement and mental abuse. When Rudolph is first discovered to have the light bulb nose, his father is appalled. Ashamed, he tries to cover up his son's nose. What kind of father is that? He is telling his kid right off the bat, kid, you're ugly and you embarass me. Diguise yourself in public. Right then and there someone should have called social services to tell them that there was a brute of a stag emotionally damaging his child. I mean, the poor kid has a disfigurement. They should have been helping him, not making him feel even worse about it. So everyone eventually finds out about Rudie's nose anyhow. The kids torment him and pick on him and turn him into an outcast. He's not allowed to join in their games because he is, gasp!, different! So what happens? Rudolph goes off on an adventure (where he comes upon the Island of Misfit Toys, but that's a whole other dissertation), where it is discovered that his nose can actually come in handy. Hey, the kid is a freak, but he's a useful freak. The rest of the reindeer gang find out that Rudolph is going to lead Santa's sleigh through the snowstorm. You know what happens. They suddenly love him. He's a hero. Even though he's been scorned and ridiculed and isolated, the other reindeer discover that they can use Rudolph's disfigurement to their advantage, so now they'll let him in their little club. And what does Rudolph do? He leads the damn sleigh and saves the day. Now everyone in this movie, from Rudolph's parents to his girlfriend to Santa, the other reindeer and the Yukon guy mock him throughout or at least make him feel like crap. Apparently, Rudolph has no balls. This is all his father's fault. Dad turned Rudolph into the reindeer equivalant of a nerd when he taught Rudie to just take the abuse from his neighbors and classmates because he deserved it. After all, he was hideously deformed. In essence, he taught his son not to stand up for himself. If Rudolph learned anything at all on his great adventure, he would have turned around and said fuck off and die you miserable bastards. Find some other sucker to save Christmas for you. And then he would take out his AK-47 and turn the whole crowd of miserable reindeer into a carnivore's dream. Then he would go back to the Island of Misfit Toys, become their ruler and plot to take over all of Rankin-Bass land. So parents, don't let your babies grow up to be Rudolphs. Don't watch the show. Or it could be your kid standing in the middle of the forest one day, gunning down all the kids who wouldn't let him play their reindeer games. This has been a public service announcement.

December 20, 2004

blog satire, DJ style

DJ got tired of waiting for Natalie to update her Live Journal so he could get his turn on the computer. So he decided to write his own Live Journal entry, on paper, and called it a satire of his sister's blog.
Dec 20.
Today I made a PB&J sandwich. Then I farted.
Dec. 21.
Today I made a tuna sandwich. Then I farted. TWICE!
I rock.
He asked us to leave comments on the paper, so I wrote: OMFG! LOL! WTF?? Underneath that, he drew a frowny face and wrote [listening to: the saddest song EVER] You probably had to be there. It was funny, really.

monkeys

I've joined the gang over at Protomonkey, where they post fiction and essays and all kinds of creative writing. I'd like to thank Jim for letting me join. I just posted my first thing, which is the bizarre Christmas fiction I posted here last month. Check out what the other monkeys have to offer, there's some good reading over there. For those two people still waiting for a short fiction piece in return for your SoA donation, I'll have one up tomorrow evening and another by Friday. These things take time!

Guitar George

The fresh snow has reminded me of one of my 515 favorite songs. Head over to the 500 Songs Blog, where I reminisce about skitching, bad teenage poetry and Greek civilization, all to the tune of Sultans of Swing. Did anyone else used to skitch (hang onto bumpers of cars to slide on the snow) or were we the only retards who tried that?

The Legend of milk, bread and snow storms

And so another year of my love/hate relationship with snow begins.

I do love the first snow of the season, especially when it happens overnight. You wake up to a world of beauty; everything white and sparkling and quiet. There's something about snow that hushes the world up. All you can hear is the soft sound of the swirling flakes on the window.

Unless, of course, the snow is mixed with ice. Like today. Then it's a whole other world. The sparkling that looks so pretty when it's from powdery flakes now looks like shards of glass have covered your lawn. You hear the organ music of horror movies in your head, bursting out a staccato, ominous tune. You hold your hands to your face Macaulay style and scream. AAAUUUGHHH!

Well, that's what I did today. Because I know my fellow Long Islanders well enough to know what I'm in for this morning, traffic wise.

I'm sure their panic went into full attack mode yesterday afternoon, when it was announced that - hold onto your hats, now - we would get one to two inches of snow! Gather the children! Man your posts! DEFCON ONE! And, like a sea of panicky lemmings, they drive en masse to their local delis and supermarkets and Dairy Barns, stocking up on milk and bread. Yes, milk and bread. It's an interesting phenomenon and I'm not sure if it's indegenous to Long Island, but it's been around for as long as I can remember.There must be some forgotten urban legend that wove its way around the Island decades ago. A suburban family wakes one morning to find that it has snowed. The patriarch of the family cautiously goes into the kitchen only to find that there is only a half quart of milk and two slices of bread left! The horror! The family screams in unison, the children start crying, the mother frantically tries to pump milk out of her breasts even though she weaned the youngest eight years ago. And oh, irony of ironies, the deli just two blocks away has one gallon of fresh, whole milk left and one loaf of white bread on the shelf. If only there were some way to get two blocks away with having to trudge through the monster snow storm that dumped two inches of the white stuff all over town!

That would explain the way people head out in droves to the store when a storm warning hits. Innate fear, left over from the telling and retelling of the fate of the poor Levittown family who had to eat each other's flesh and drink each other's blood to stay alive during the great snow dusting of 1931.

I'm not trying to disparage those who feel the need to prepare for a snow storm. If the weather channel says we're going to get eight inches of the white stuff, it's a good idea to have the things you need in the house. It's just the whole milk and bread thing that's perplexing. I worked at my uncle's deli for about seven years and every winter, it was the same thing. Snow alert equals run on milk and bread. No one bought anything to go with the items. No cheese or ham for the bread. No boxes of hot chocolate or cereal to go with the milk. No one bought toilet paper or soda or cans of soup. Just milk and bread. It would get to the point where a line would snake around the deli and I'd be ringing the customers up as fast as I could, to get them in and out before a fight broke out over the last loaf of Wonder bread. He's buying a gallon of milk and he lives by himself! Lynch him, that selfish pig! Flaming torches and pitchforks ensue.

As I look up and down my street, I notice that every house has at least one SUV parked in the driveway. Here are all these people with four wheel drive on their behemoth mountain vehicles (disclaimer, I have an Explorer), yet they are afraid to go out the door as soon as the first flake hits the street. And those who eventually do venture out fall into two categories; the overly safe driver, who clutches the steering wheel in a death grip and takes each turn as if she were navigating Mt. Washington, and the No Fear guy, who does 90 on an icy road just to prove he's a man. Meanwhile, all the other people are ensconced in their homes, rationing out the milk and bread. They eye each other suspiciously and the oldest sibling, who has been designated family captain by the father, has to escort each family member to the bathroom, making sure that no one is trying to make a break for the kitchen try and steal someone else's ration.

Never mind that there's six pounds of chicken in the freezer, two dozen eggs in the fridge and a Poland Springs cooler that offers hot or cold water in the kitchen. We're talking milk and bread here. No one wants to end up like that long ago family, turning into cannibals and then possibly zombies because they were unprepared for the storm at hand.

Two inches, baby. A little ice, a little snow, which will all disappear by noon today. Still, I'll stop at 7-11 on my way to work, as I do every Monday, to get a quart of milk and a can of coffee. There will be no milk. And then I will have to inch my way to work as a thousand drivers in their Navigators and Expeditions make the treacherous drive through some dirty slush, everyone riding their brakes and fighting off panic attacks as the sprinkling of leftover snow hits their windshields.

Go ahead and laugh at us, Buffalo and Syracuse. Smirk at us, Montana and Minnesota. We deserve it.

December 19, 2004

Shaking the Snow Globe

Busy. In a word, my life right now, like millions of others. I just know there are people out there like me, people who, in their mind, concoct the perfect Christmas from the trimmings right down the perfect presents. We start our plotting and planning in October, as soon as the ghosts come down and the fake leaves on the front window go up.

It's ingrained in us somehow. Christmas is perfection. Christmas is snow on the ground and a home that smells like gingerbread and a tree that takes your breath away. It's little girls in blood red dresses trimmed with white lace and little boys barely breathing in tightened bowties and buttoned dress shirts. It's Silent Night playing softly in the background, and garland hanging from the ceiling beams and platters of cookies pile high on the counter, waiting for the colored sugar frosting. It's aunts and uncles and laughter and everyone loving their gifts, all smiles and appreciative kisses and hugs. It's a warm, cozy day that ends with the little children shuffling off to bed, the plastic bottoms of their feetie pajamas scraping against the polished wood floor and the clutch their brand new dolls and trucks and sleep with them because they were that good of a present. The children dream of elves and reindeer and the parents sip late night drinks and stare at the tree and sigh. Another Christmas come and gone.

It plays out that way in mind every year and sometimes my memories are clouded with my ideals. I imagine our Christmases as if we were plastic figures in a snowglobe, always in the same position, making the same faces, surrounded by the same things. Oh, we were always happy on Christmas, we always wore stiff dresses and hugged our aunts who smelled like formaldehyde and smiled for the 8mm camera. We have the grainy film to prove it.

But I don't think we baked cookies all that often and I know for sure that my mother has never, ever made gingerbread men and we were more likely to hear Elvis's Blue Christmas than Silent Night.

So I don't know where I got this image of the perfect Christmas from. Or do I? All my Christmas childhood memories are good and warm and happy, yet somehow I've taken those memories and warped them to an extent, inserting recipes from Ladies Home Journal and decorating tips from Martha Stewart Living into them. I've taken what the magazines and tv shows tell you what Christmas is supposed to be like and merged it with what Christmas was really like.

When I came to this conclusion yesterday, I stopped myself from buying all the essential gingerbread ingredients - I am the world's worst baker anyhow, so what's the point? - I gave up on hanging the garland from the beams and I stopped looking for the perfect gifts for everyone and decided to buy what was on their lists.

I did manage to do the one domestic thing yesterday that's important in order for me to enjoy Christmas. I cleaned like a madwoman. The floors were sparkling, the counters scrubbed, the dishes all done and the laundry finally completed. I sat in the living room at 11pm and watched the lights on the tree blink on and off. My neighbor's Christmas lights gave a nice backdrop to my tree and I stared at the scene in front of my window for a while, feeling good about the holidays, feeling warm. The kids joined us in the living room and we stayed there until midnight, no fighting, no whining, watching Aqua Teen Hunger Force episodes until we all fell asleep.

I'm still not finished shopping, nothing has been wrapped and my Christmas cards are still sitting on the kitchen table waiting for stamps. But I finally felt the spirit, maybe enough of it to carry me through today, through another trip to the mall, which tends to suck all of the holly, jolly Christmas tidings out of my soul.

I was just reading an article where people related their perfect Christmas memories. I thought of the year I got the Chrissy doll, the perfect doll whose hair grew when you pushed a button. And the year I got K-Tel's Super Sounds of the 70's albums, two discs of rock and roll with Black Sabbath and Yes songs that I played so much I thought I would burn a hole in it. I remember those two things so clearly that I could tell you what kind of pajamas I was wearing when I opened the presents, what song was playing in the background. They are sense-filled photographs in my mind, with my parents yawning and the smell of coffee and bacon wafting in from the kitchen and my little sisters tearing into their own gifts, searching for that one perfect present they knew would be under the tree. Santa never disappoints.

And really, Christmas never disappoints. Even without the gingerbread, without Silent Night, without aunts and uncles long gone, with me in my parent's place as the yawning, coffee drinking grownup watching kids unwrap boxes with glee, it never, ever disappoints. It's the charm of the season. Everyone is happy, everyone is laughing, everyone feels good. An aura of glad tidings does indeed exist around here. Even with Cartman's O Holy Night replacing my mother's Elvis, and store bought sugar cookies and a house that smells like strawberry scented Windex instead of gingerbread, it's a version of perfection I'm willing to accept. Because it's ours.

I just wonder if some day my kids will be in their own homes with their own children, getting ready for the holidays and wondering why the smell of Lysol and the voice of a belligerent milk shake will be part of their vision of the perfect Christmas.

December 18, 2004

and winner loser is....
(plus: the tv category)

No competition, really. [click for bigger] I'm trying to come up with something for the television category - the suckitude this year far surpassed previous years so I'd rather not go with the general worst tv show. I may just give the award to the whole reality show genre for foisting the worst in human behavior upon us. Or maybe I'll just give it to the people who actually tune into these shows week after week. Or maybe I'll just reverse the whole thing and give out an award for something good. Arrested Development comes to mind. Maybe Lost? The Farscape movie? So what did or didn't you like on television this year? (Difficulty: I don't want to hear from anyone who doesn't own a tv or hasn't watched tv in ten years or only watches educational programs on PBS).

Saturday Guest Blogger Story: The Crap Christmas Tree

I don't think I've ever done this before. Today I have a guest post for you. Reader Dave sent me an email last night telling me the story of his fight to save his colored-lights Christmas tree from extinction - an extinction forced upon him by his wife's desire for a white-light Christmas tree. It's the age old story of beauty vs. the beast, except in this case, the beast is more desireable. The story is in the extended entry. Dave writes a good tale - make sure to leave him some comments.

The Crap Tree

By Dave (dbrutland) [click for larger image] Several years ago my wife devised a plan to take over Christmas decorations in our home. She’s been oh so patient, moving so carefully that I only realized the scope of her plans this year. This fight isn’t over, not by a long shot. But I’ve lost a lot of ground. I am what you would call a “Christmas kind of guy”. I love Christmas. I love the lights and the pretty packages, the wreaths, the greenery hanging everywhere. I like Christmas plates and coffee cups. Christmas cookies, Christmas music, Christmas towels in the bathrooms, Christmas napkins, Christmas movies and books…if they had Christmas toilet paper I would buy two cases (does anybody know if they make that?). I think Christmas lights on pickup trucks look terrific. I really dig Christmas. As soon as the clutter is cleaned away from the Thanksgiving feast, I’m up in the attic getting boxes down. I know where every one of them is, and pretty much know what’s inside of them. Not because I pack them up every January, I suppose it’s just that we tend to use the same boxes for things. You could sum up my tastes in Christmas decorations in one phrase. Colored lights. Yes, like the late Michael Kelly wrote on the topic of Christmas lights, there are white light people, and colored light people. I’m in the second group. Years ago I conceded the inevitability of teeny lights taking over – I long ago gave up trying to find those big painted bulbs that burned your fingers. I miss them, but I understand. Technology changes things. But, even if they’re teeny, I have to have colored lights. This theme naturally extends to other decorations. I have an affinity for Christmas-schlock. The cheesier the better. Dancing Santa Claus with an electric guitar and sunglasses? Oh yes. Strings of lights that look like jalapenos? Lovely. Elves laid out in a winter “North Pole Office Party” display, holding little cans of Bud Light while singing drunken Christmas tunes? I am so there. By now you may have guessed the dark secret of Christmas in our home. My wife, whom I love dearly, is not a colored lights kind of person. She is a white lights gal. I don’t blame her… taste is subjective, no? Eye of the beholder and all that. But we can coexist. Surely we can cooperate, compromise, a little give here, a little take there. Find a way to get along. You know, the Russkies and the Americans. Détente baby. So naturally I didn’t see it coming. It started with a new Christmas tree. She brought it home a few years ago. It’s bigger than our old tree. 10 feet. Huge. Me, I’m all excited. What could be better than one Christmas tree? Two trees! Oh yeah, two sets of lights and ornaments and glitter, extra room for more presents. This will be cool! I set it up first. In the formal dining room, right there in the front window where everyone can see it. We decided the older tree would be just fine in the den, we moved some things around and set it up there. Looked just fine. I didn’t even notice when my wife pulled the strings of white lights out that something was amiss. Sure, I thought, “woo... fan-cee”. What the hell. White lights on the new tree. Then I noticed we had packages (really nice packages, you know, the kind of shopping bags you keep cause they’re so pretty?) with more ornaments in them. Fancy looking ornaments too, glass and crystal and gold. Wow. But hey, 10 foot tree, sure, we’ll need more stuff to put on it. No, it was when I reached into a box to pull out my favorite lights, the string of little Fender Telecasters, and headed for the new tree, that the plan was revealed to me. Pat said “STOP right there!”, evenly spacing her words in a tone that said I should seriously consider stopping right there. “There will be none of that on this tree”, she said. Same tone. I said what most husbands say when they are confronted with wrongdoing. “Wh-a-a-at”? Real slowly, dumb-like. “No guitar lights. No old pictures. No jalapenos”. She was serious. She looked right at me and announced “this is the ‘nice tree’”. The Nice Tree. In the front room, prominently displayed in the big window. I looked around. The other decorations in the room began to make sense to me. The special Christmas china was set on the formal table. The expensive candle holders on the table by the entry, with long tapered white candles in them, you know, the kind you can’t get at Wal-Mart (10 for .55 cents). And then I understood. This room, was going to be “pretty”. Like a Christmas display at some expensive store on 5th Avenue, the ones whose names I can’t pronounce correctly. I looked at what was now my tree. Guitar lights. Ornaments from Fender. The decorations my kids made in Sunday school with funny shaped noodles and gold spray paint. Popsicle sticks and yarn and pictures. Hidden in the den where no eye shall be offended. No one can see it. I began calling my tree the "Crap Tree". The Nice Tree has gold swirly things on it, and a special tree skirt thingy made of silk and shiny stuff. It's really pretty. It looks like something you would find in one of those stores in Salado. The Crap Tree has an old skirt made of something that looks like shag carpet. It sort of resembles a Christmas tree, at least, the way a Christmas tree looks to a myopic drunk. In a moment of weakness my brother in law crocheted it for us. It's been more than 15 years and I still kid him about that. I am not allowed to put my special guitar ornaments on the Nice Tree. Who am I kidding? I’m not allowed to put anything on the Nice Tree. Every now and then, I sneak one on it when no one is looking. It doesn't matter. Jessica, my oldest daughter, finds it and moves it back. When she’s not on duty her sister Abigail puts it back. All you guys understand this dynamic. It’s called "they gang up on you". The Crap Tree has lights on it from The Hard Rock Café. I think those are my favorite, although the lights that look like jalapenos are a close second. Ever since my wife debuted the Nice Tree, Christmas in our house has been looking a little different. The living room is starting to spread out. Our old Frosty the Snowman and Christmas tree hand towels we used to put in the guest bathroom have been replaced with much prettier hand towels. None of us is allowed to touch them. My “singing Santa” with the electric guitar and the sunglasses is now back in my bedroom on the dresser. The battery has been removed. This year I couldn’t find the Drunken Office Party Elves. Pat says she has no idea what happened to them. She says it in a way that makes me think she knows exactly what happened to them, and I will never see them again. So I know what I’m up against. Soon, next year, or maybe the one after that, I could find myself locked in a desperate battle, a last stand in front of my dearest Christmas decoration, the Crap Tree. She may relent. You see, the Crap Tree has ornaments that have all our Christmas memories on it, 22 years worth. Ornaments we bought when we spent our first Christmas together. Ornaments our friends gave to us. Decorations that Pat's students gave to her. Special ornaments with years on them from Christmases past that go back before our kids were born. Pictures of Jessica and Abigail when they were little girls in red and white Christmas dresses, hugging Santa and telling him how good they had been this year. So long ago, before cars and boys and college. Every now and then I find a little bit of attic insulation in one of the branches, from a Christmas years ago when I slipped in the overhead and put my foot through the ceiling, right over the tree. Abby looked up and said “Mommy, Santa’s here”! I think she was 4. I love the Crap Tree. It is an old friend. It's the decoration in our house that says "Christmas" to me, and I hope it always will. --------- Thanks for sharing this story, Dave.

December 17, 2004

Kazaam Awards: Final Movie Poll [Updated]

In the extended entry is the poll to vote for the receipient of the fourth annual Kazaam Award for Worst Movie of the Year. Vote early, vote often and let's try to send a message to Hollywood to please stop ruining good comic books by turning them into crappy movies. [And please note these are not my personal picks - these films were nominated on a previous post. If I had my way, Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen would have walked away with the award already] Update: CHANGE IN POLL - I've taken Jersey Girl out (it didn't have any votes, anyhow) and put Drama Queen in. Because I can. [poll expired]

500 songs and a lot of dollars


An article about the issues in today's rock music prompted me to review song #371 on the list, over at 500 songs. It reads more like a blog post than a review, so I'm counting that as my morning ASV post. Update: Starting with the current song, I'm also including mp3s with each 500 songs post. ----- Also, the Spirit of America blogger challenged has ended. I road the coattails of the Winds of Change contingent towards the end, and they raised a total of $5,755.56. The challenge in all raised over $90,000 for Friends of Iraq. That is truly amazing. I thank everyone who donated. I still have two stories left to write in the Fiction for Charity part of my SoA effort and they both will be posted this weekend.

all i want for christmas is a big unit

Well, I asked Santa for a decent Yankee pitching staff for Christmas. Maybe I should have been more specific. As in, a decent pitching staff that will have an impact for years to come.

Randy Johnson is thisclose to becoming a Yankee
. Is it a good deal? If you're into instant gratification, sure is.

I'm not sure I like giving up Vasquez for a pitcher who probably has one good year left in his arm, though. I know, I know. Vasquez had a great first half, a fading second half and was the goat of the World Series, more or less. But, still... Johnson may be a five time Cy Young award winner, but he's over 40 years old. I'm more into building for the future than throwing 20 million dollars and a decent player at a team just to get one ring. But that's juts me and I'm not Steinbrenner.

Depending on which story you read, the deal is either done, near done or not even close to being done. It's either a two team deal or a four team swap fest. No one knows for sure yet, but this is the closest the long running Johnson to New York rumor has gotten to the front pages of the local papers, so I
m assuming this is imminent.

I wish I could be as giddy as everyone else is over this, but that much money for that old a guy, no matter how golden his arm will be for the Yanks in 2005, keeps me from celebrating too hard.

Well, at least I can look forward to an entire season of making "Big Unit" jokes.

December 16, 2004

in a bad state of humbug

And much Christmas shopping ensued. And lo, there was an aching back and sore feet and frazzled nerves. Anyhow. Not only was Target empty nine days before Christmas, but they seem to have forged ahead right through winter, as the winter coats were on clearance and there were five racks of bathing suits on display in the girl's department. In New York. In December. For some reason, that annoyed me a lot more than it should have. Also on the annoyance factor was the fact that I sat through House of Sand and Fog this morning. That movie sucked in ways I thought hadn't even been invented yet. And how many times is Jennifer Connolly going to make a movie where she has to stand on a pier and look introspective? I'm counting three right now. Well, at least she wasn't taking it up the ass for heroin in this one. Then again, that might have saved this movie. Just awful. Where was I? Oh, shopping. Someone who has diagnosed herself with mallergy really should stick to online shopping. From rude people to insolent children to ineffiecent/non-existent sales help, this day was in the crapper before I even stepped into Roosevelt Field mall, which is, in my estimation, the level of hell Dante forgot about. Ok, I'm in a rotten to the core mood. More on my shopping woes and my growing agoraphobia tomorrow. I'm going to bed. At 7:21. I can still salvage this day by not killing anyone and sleep is probably the best way to avoid that scenario. Ho, ho, fucking, ho.

hark, the fighting children scream

As I begin my Christmas shopping today (procrastination is a disease, not a choice!), I am reminded of this little ditty I wrote last year, updated for timeliness and freshness. Twas nine days before Christmas And all through my mind was the running thought that I'm way too kind The XBox is wrapped tucked under the tree but what have those children done for me? They've not cleaned their rooms not made their beds they've not done their laundry they've played games instead they never listen to a word that I say yet what will they get come Christmas Day? Expensive guitar things; (strings, pods and some picks) two hundred dollars worth of junk from Hot Topic Some zombies, some Lohan all DVD fun Some Taking Back Sunday and Sum 41 Pink and black Converse a new pair of Vans A Star Wars game I wanted and Franz Ferdinand All of these things I bought on my own no help from the fat guy I did it alone for my wonderful children I've bought all these presents they deserve such rewards (is my sarcasm evident?) and now they are fighting and whining and crying and making a mess and cursing and lying I want just one night in a nice, quiet house where no creatures are stirring not even the mouse I need one small moment to contemplate why I spent so much money and stayed up so late wrapping the presents topping them off with a bow whispering to myself ho fucking ho fourteen years now I've been doing this schtick and what to I get? aggravated and sick And for all of my ranting and bitching and screaming come Christmas morning my kids will be beaming Yes, Christmas is the time to say "I love you, I cherish you, here's a whole bunch of presents, now get lost and let mommy get some sleep." It's really not like that at all, but some nights it sure feels like it. It's all good, though. I'll have the last laugh. That XBox is for me.

December 15, 2004

song of the day

No rhyme or reason, I just think it's a beautifully sad song. I might have to add it to the list.

Brand New - The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot (MP3)

[sorry, download has expired]

Lyrics below. Go ahead, sing along.

(I've plugged this Long Island band a million times. On this track, they remind me a lot of my favorite Canadian, Hayden)

Brand New
The Boy Who Blocked His Own Shot


If it makes you less sad
I will die by your hand
I hope you find out what you are
Already know what I am
And if it makes you less sad
we'll start talking again
and you can tell me how vile i already know that i am

i'll grow old
start acting my age
ill be a brand new day in a life that you hate
a crown of gold
a heart thats harder than stone
and it hurts a whole lot
but its missed when its gone
call me a safe bet
im betting im not

im glad you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget

if it makes you less sad
i'll move outta the state
you can keep to yourself
i'll keep outta your way
and if it makes you less sad
i'll take your pictures all down
every picture you paint
i will paint myself out
its as cold as a tomb
and its dark in your room
when i sneak to your bed to pour salt in your wounds

so call it quits
or get a grip
say you wanted a solution
you just wanted to be missed
call me a safe bet
im betting im not
im glad that you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget

you are calm and reposed
let your beauty unfold
pale white
like the skin stretched over your bones
spring keeps you ever close
you are second hand smoke
you are so fragile and thin
standing trial for your sins
holding onto yourself the best you can
you are the smell before the rain
you are the blood in my veins

call me a safe bet
im betting im not
im glad that you can forgive
im only hoping as time goes
you can forget

Spiked [Updated]

I caught about five minutes of the Spike TV Video Game Awards last night (I won't even link to their site because it is mangificently unavigable) - there was a rapper/rocker thing going on and I was really enjoying it until a fuse blew and the tv went off (too many lights on the tree, I guess). Anyhow, if anyone knows what I'm talking about and can tell me who was doing the singing/rapping and what song it was, I'd be grateful because it was the shit, as the kids say. Do they still say that? [I didn't bother watching the rest of the awards, due to my distaste at last year's efforts] Update: Turns out the performer in question was none other than Ludacris, who happens to be a former advertiser right here on this very blog. He's going on the playlist. He owns.

how soon is now?

*
The Smiths' How Soon is Now gets the annotation treatment over at 500 songs. That's 5 down, 508 to go. And probably more, as I thought of some songs I forgot to put on the list. * Also, get your nominations in for the Kazaam awards. I'm closing them out on Friday, so the sooner the better. * Tomorrow is the last day for the Spirit of America/Friends of Iraq challenge. Get on over to Winds of Change and make a difference. Soon, now.

best. guitar. ever.

By artist Peter McGilton. What an exquisite piece of work.
It's interesting that because so much mass of the guitar's body is carved away (a bare bones guitar), the entire instrument is LIVE. Touching the neck is like tapping pole pieces on the pickup. Running your fingernail over the ribs makes a sound like a xylophone. Excellent sustain. The jack is located at the end of the tailbone, and while some guitars have coil tap, this one has a spinal tap.
This would be a perfect gift for my son - it combines his two favorite things; guitars and horror. The price isn't listed but I'm sure it's equal to the GNP of a small country. Larger image Specs Update: I'm definitely looking at it from a conversation piece point of view, not for usability. I think this is something that would go in a glass case in the living room. When I win Lotto, of course.

everything i know i learned from tv

I can't be the only person watching the Greece/Albanian hijacking thing unfold while singing: Albania! Albania! You border on the Adriatic. Your land is mostly mountainous And your chief export is chrome...

a yankee christmas

Checking my referral logs, I noticed that someone got here by Googling for "Christmas present for a Yankee fan." The New York Mets have already supplied us with the greatest gift, that of making sure Steinbrenner didn't sign Pedro Martinez. The Red Sox have also gifted us with the signing of ex Yankee David Wells. This is a gift to Yankee fans because it will give us the opportunity to sit back and laugh at the folly of the Red Sox when Wells eventually breaks his wrist in a bar fight or pulls himself out of the rotation on a big game day because he's hungover. Then again, all any Yankee fan really wants is a decent pitching staff. Santa? Can you help us out here?

rockwell v. griswald

Another year, another tree decorating night come and gone, and another shot at holiday idealism shot to hell. Perhaps in a past life I lived in a Norman Rockwell painting. Where else would I have gotten the idea that the days leading up to Christmas are filled with cheer, good will, smiling children and calm adults? When I think of decorating the Christmas tree, I imagine a family gathered around a tall, perfect spruce, carefully hanging heirloom ornaments on the perfectly spaced branches while Christmas carols played in the background. Steaming cups of hot cocoa piled high with marshmallows sit on a tray table (for some reason, my imaginary tray table is decorated with horses pulling a wagon through a snow forest), next to a plate of home baked cookies. The aroma of pine needles hangs in the air, mixed with the sweet smell of gingerbread baking in the oven. Mistletoe hangs from the ceiling and every once in a while the mom and dad sneak a kiss while the kids giggle. And everyone's eyes twinkle. The funny thing about all this is I don't think we've ever - from my childhood up to last night - had a tree decorating night quite like that. Have I really been harboring this Rockwell fantasy for over 40 years? You would think by now I would get it - it's never going to happen. And if it did, it would seem so out of place, so wrong, that it would probably ruin my entire Christmas. Because, like it or not, the Griswald type Christmas experience is the only one I know. Anything else would seem foreign, no matter how many times Martha Stewart and her cronies tell me that I'm doing it wrong. Aha. So perhaps that's it; outside forces made me believe we were doing it wrong. Maybe somewhere out there exists a family in which Martha Stewart has married Norman Rockwell and the kids are all as sweet as Cindy Brady, but I'm now inclined to believe that family exists only in paintings, made for tv movies and commercials that make you think if you only buy the right products, your family will be less dysfunctional this Christmas. Apparently, Coca-Cola and Campbell's soup are all the therapy we need. So last night we brought the tree inside (we bought it Sunday evening, but didn't dig out the tree stand until yesterday), shook about six pounds of needles from it and, after an hour or so of cursing and much mumbling under breath, we got it to stand up straight. This is our first year in our own home. We have a beautiful bay window in the living room and it excites me to no end to be able to have a tree all lit up in that window so everyone who passes by the house can say gasp in awe as they witness a display of stunning Christmas decor. A half hour of decorating went something like this: We have three extra feet of tree this year, you should have bought three extra feet of lights. These ornaments are ugly. She touched me. He looked at me. Stop yelling. Put on some Christmas music. Blink 182 is not Christmas music. If you want hot chocolate so bad, make it yourself. Is something burning? Why is the tree naked over here? Close the curtains, the neighbors do not need to see you choking your brother. What is that smell? Eww DJ, stop farting on me! And so it goes. We are part Griswalds, part Simpsons and a product of ever other tree decorating experience I've ever had. The sibling fights are so ingrained into our Christmas traditions, that we actually stage arguments when we decorate my parents' tree every year, just to get in the spirit. What would Christmas be without the burnt cookies, the spilled cocoa, the shed tears and the overwhelming panic that comes when you realize it's ten days before Christmas and you're going to have to sell a kidney in order to get all your shopping done? It's only now - after 42 Christmases (14 of those as a parent) - that I finally accepted the fact that not only are we not a Rockwell painting, but that I wouldn't want that. We've made our own traditions and even if they involve farting and fighting, they're all ours and we always end up laughing at our exploits later on. No one wants to hear the story of your perfect family decorating your perfect tree and the perfect behavior of your perfect children. Those tales are easily forgotten. But the one about the tree going on fire? That's one the grandchildren will be hearing about years from now. Long live dysfunctional traditions.

December 14, 2004

It's Officially Christmas

The tree is up and somewhat decorated. tree04.jpg My idealistic fantasies of what tree decorating night is supposed to be like have once again been shot to hell. I should probably lower my expectations. Or come to the realization that idealistic=unreal. More on that tomorrow. Read this as a precursor. Well, no matter what the tree looks like or how much my kids hate each other this evening, it at least looks like Christmas around here.

girls of porn*

I'm reading the commentary over here and here and sort of laughing while I do. Sometimes I'm not sure if Steve believes everything he writes or if he's just really good at parodying himself. And then somehow I ended up here and my sense of humor just failed me. The blog post is called Women and Porn, but don't let that fool you. I'll zip it up for you in one little paragraph: Men like sex. They like football and basketball but they like sex more. Women don't like sex as much. Their version of porn is home improvement shows. They get off on Trading Spaces. Women like shiny metal kitchen appliances. Men like power tools. You can take away a man's football as long as you replace it with some pussy, but don't take away a woman's decorating show, because not even a ten inch dick will be able to replace that. That's not a direct quote, that's my summary. So one hand you have Steve saying all women are money grubbing whores and on the other hand you have this Duane guy saying that all women are whores for home improvement shows. No matter which way you slice it, we are whores of one kind or another. I'm here to set Duane straight. See, his mistake is in assuming that all women are just like his wife. He sees his her staring at home remodeling shows for hours on end and thinks that all women do the same, that every woman out there masturbates to the Behr's color chart. You know what my porn is? Why, it's porn! Yes, I have amassed a vast and varied porn collection. And - now don't faint in surprise here - I like sex. I think about sex. I sit at my desk at work and sometimes my mind drifts and suddenly I'm thinking about things that make sitting still uncomfortable. Power tools? I have this recurring fantasy where I'm standing on the bed in a Wonder Woman costume, revving up a chainsaw and telling my husband to beg for it.
Men, do this experiment. Next time your one-and-only is watching HGTV, stand in front of the television (if you dare), and wave a thousand dollar bill, all the while screaming “Free shopping spree! Here’s the cash! I’m watching the kids!” She will decapitate you as she responds, “Move, dumbbell, Candice Olson is describing why she stenciled a polar bear next to the fireplace!”
Well, my husband has never waved a thousand dollars in front of me and most likely never will, but if he did, we'd probably get naked and roll around in the money before we headed out to go comic book and video game shopping. Stenciled polar bears, be damned. I'm just a bit tired of men thinking that all women they date and/or marry represent every woman. Just because you dated a woman that sucked your bank account dry or married a woman who was more interested in his tools than your tool doesn't mean some of us won't get it when our husbands say they want their wood polished. * [Comments have been closed - I already deleted ten and I'm not going to leave this space open for people so people with the dignity of barn animals can just make stupid jokes at the expense of others]

s-s-s-s-saturday night

Song #306 gets the treatment over at 500 songs. Is anybody reading this stuff or are you waiting for the hardcover $25.95 edition? 'Cause if you are, I'm going to charge you ten bucks for autogrpah /life is just a fantasy

tradition!

Someone just emailed, regarding the post below, and asked about our Christmas traditions. I assume he means traditional traditions, as opposed to watching movies about psychotic Santas. I wrote about this previously, but there's no time like now for a repeat, as I'm getting my ass kicked by work today. Below, my musings on our holiday traditions, as seen on DPITMF, written circa 2001. November is here and the holiday season is rolling in. Some of my neighbors are already hanging their Christmas lights. One neighbor saved himself some time and put the inflatable snowman up right next to the inflatbale pumpkin in October. I was talking with the kids about holiday traditions. DJ had to write a little essay for school about families and holidays and the things they do each year that make the holidays so special, those moments that you look back upon when you are old and gray and sitting in the nursing home while your kids try to jar your memory. Most memorable holidays is the topic for DJ's essay. We're in the car, me, Natalie and DJ and as we talk and I drive the memories start rolling in. Natalie asks, "What was my first Christmas like?" "You had pnuemonia," I tell her. "You were wearing a green velvet dress and your fever was so high that your face was all red and you looked just like a Christmas decoration!" DJ says, "What about my first Christmas?" "You had the croup," I tell him. "I put a bow on your nebulizer and told you it was a special treat from Santa." "Hey, mom," Natalie says. "Remember that New Year's Eve when we were both sick?" How could I forget? We both had sinus infections. We spent three hours in the waiting room of the doctor's office, got our prescriptions, went home, pretended it was midnight at 7pm and went to bed. "Don't forget," she adds, "that New Year's Eve when you were pregnant with DJ and we were home alone cause Dad went out and the toilet overflowed and you were hysterical crying." "How the hell do you remember that? You were barely three!" "I remember everything. You know that." "I wish you would forget sometimes." And then, Natalie runs down the litanny of holiday catastrophes, big and small. Remember when......... Poppy punched dad out on Thanksgiving? That Mother's Day when I almost got ran over by the Peapod truck on the lawn? That St. Patrick's Day when you called poison control 'cause I peed green and it turned out that Grandma put green food coloring all over my dinner? The Fourth of July when I had chicken pox? The Fourth of July when DJ had to go the hospital for the ear infection? Remember when you were really sick and dad forgot your birthday? That Halloween when DJ choked on the cake and you like totally froze and someone else had to help him? That Christmas that you spent in your room crying? That big party for some holiday when we lost DJ and the neighbor found him around the corner and he was like two years old?
Or....
I stop her at this point. "That's quite a memory you have there," I say. She beams. "I know. I remember every single thing in great detail!" "Really?" I say. "What happened to your retainer?" "Umm...I don't know." "Did you bring your drumsticks to school today?" "Uh..no, I forgot." "What's the capital of Turkey?" "Ok, mom, I get the point." That night, DJ finally gets his essay written. It goes something like this:
Every Christmas Eve we go to my aunt's house. All the kids make a huge mess and lot of noise and we eat until the grownups say how full they are and they are going to puke, but then my aunt brings out dessert and everyone keeps eating. Then the grownups start drinking and we all exchange presents and the grownups act like idiots while the kids mess up the house some more. Then my poppy takes out the video camera and tapes everyone doing embarassing things and then the babies start crying so everyone leaves. It's the most fun day of the year.
Eating, drinking, puking, acting like idiots. The basis for all family holiday traditions around here.

some rambling thoughts about santa

It's been quite a few years since my kids believed in Santa. Rather than taking the magic out of Christmas, their non belief has made the holidays even more fun. We certainly couldn't we sit around and make up horrible stories about the jolly old man if they thought he was real. From dreaming up tales about what that coal in your stocking is really made of (packed ashes of little children that didn't complete the requisite 70 hour work week at the North Pole), to watching Silent Night, Deadly Night, our Christmas traditions have become somewhat warped. What do you expect from a family that are experts in zombies?

When I read yesterday about Santas run amok, I smiled. I'm sure there are a lot of people worried about the fragile psyches of the children who witnessed a hundred drunk Santas running through the streets, but I wonder how many of those people realize that their own Santa traditions are nothing more than fucking with a kid's head, anyhow?

At some point in history, Santa Claus went from some guy who helped poor women get dowries to a fat man with a voyeur fetish. Perhaps to children, Santa is still a jolly old man who bestows gifts upon them and performs magic that can make reindeer fly. But to parents, Santa is nothing more than a convenient scapegoat.

I'm convinced that the modern version of Santa was put out there by an underground cabal of irresponsible parents. If they could blame this Claus guy for the shitty presents under the tree, there would be no need to tell their kids that daddy spent all the Christmas money on hookers and beer. Instead of waiting on line five hours at PlayWorld for Betsy Wetsy, mothers could just blame the absence of the doll on the fat man. Who cares if little Suzie harbors a resentment towards Santa for the rest of her life? Mom could save tons of energy by avoiding fights in Suzie's teenage years that would stem from her latent anger over not receiving the doll that pisses her pants.

By using Santa as a scapegoat, parents do run the risk of setting themselves up for disaster. Eventually we all have to explain the standard parent lies of Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, but by blaming every bad or absent present on Santa, you'll just exacerbate the situation. Some day at a large, drunken family gathering, someone will be telling a story about the time you got plastered at your office Christmas party and called your boss a tightwad bitch so she fired you on the spot, and a light bulb will flash in your son's head, at which point he'll stand up and shout "You god damn liars! You told me I didn't get the Ewok Village that year because Santa was disappointed in my report card!" Estrangement ensues.

This is what happens when you use a gentle little fib, one designed to make children happy, and turn it into a full scale lie, complete with intricate webs of deceit. I've seen many a parent go down that road when their kids asks for the unattainable. Can I get a pony for Christmas? Instead of just saying No and that's the stupidest thing you ever asked for, the parents says We'll have to ask Santa. We'll see. To a child, the words we'll see mean the opposite of yes. He didn't say no! He said we'll see! So that kid spends weeks and weeks keeping her fingers crossed for a pony from Santa and when Christmas morning comes and all she gets is a few dresses and My Little Pony coloring book, she starts crying. But the parents absolve themselves of any blame. Eh, Santa fucked you but good, Sally!

One Christmas we were performing our tradition of putting out some salt for the reindeer and some Jack Daniels for Santa. Natalie seemed extra anxious that year and I asked her why. Apparently, she had written a letter to Santa asking him to put a baby sister in my belly for Christmas.

I was a single mother then. I hadn't had sex in over a year. I though to myself, if Santa comes down that chimney and say let's make a baby, I'm going for it. I spent that whole night waiting for the sound of sleigh bells on the roof. Sure, I stopped believing in Santa when I was seven, but sometimes, when you are in the throes of desperation, your mind plays tricks on you.

Which is probably why my daughter, 14 years old and desperate for a $500 digital camera, has taken to writing letters to Santa again. Which she delivers to me. And I promptly destroy her Nikon dreams, resulting in a rush of foot stamping, whining and petulance.

Santa sucks, she says. I know she means me. In fact, she let on a few years ago that she always knew I was the one who bought the presents. She never fell for that elves in the workshop crap because she always managed to find the "Made in China" stamp on her presents. She did believe in Santa, but she thought he was just some overlord who bossed his workers around and shopped at flea markets for her gifts. DJ, who is observing our whole conversation, chimes in that he always thought the elves were really zombies and Santa was an alien who controlled them some with kind of radar machine.

All those years, they never once believed in Santa as the benign, jolly old man. Which explains why in every single picture I have of them sitting on Santa's lap they are screaming in terror.

[ed note: How the hell did I get from the opening paragraph to this? Let's try to connect it all here]

This is also why my kids would never be shocked to see an anarchist Santa having his way with a piece of sushi in a Japanese restaurant. Or why, many years from now at a drunken family gathering, they will only laugh when my sister tells them the story of that Christmas night when I mistook a friend's jingling car keys for sleigh bells.

Ho, ho, ho indeed.

December 13, 2004

belated thanks

I blame the on again, off again headache for the lateness of this. Thanks to everyone who voted for me and/or got out the vote for me in the Best Culture Blog category in the 2004 Weblog awards. As the winner, I promise to fulfill my duty to bring about world peace, feed the starving children and wear the diamond encrusted tiara Kevin has promised me with pride. For a few days, at least. Then I'll sell it on eBay. Does this mean I have to act like a cultured person for the next year? Thank you, everyone, for your votes and for reading. And congratulations to all the other winners. Don't forget to get your diamond tiara from Kevin.

Thank you santa, for not bringing me pedro

Word around town is Pedro is going to sign with the Mets today (FAN is reporting that it's thisclose to happening). I've got two words for you Met fans: Ed. Whitson. Some people just can't play in New York. Mark my words, Pedro will be one of them. This is why I specifically asked Santa to not bring Pedro to the Yankees this year. Thank you, Santa. I'll let the whole X-Box thing slide now. Boston Dirt Dogs have more.

MY BLOGGING THEME SONG

As written by Gerard Van der Leun, totally unsolicited, for which I both blush and thank him humbly because, regardless of how view the words, someone wrote a song/poem for me and that rocks (because the last time someone wrote something for me was 1967 and they rhymed Michele with Smell).
I, BLOGGER (to the tune of....) I am blogger, hear me roar, About hot dogs, about war About the state of music pop, About my noisy neighbors -- Stop! Send me traffic, send me comments, but no Spam! About elections, not erections, About Saran Wrap's deselections, And the Tupperware that turns green eggs to ham! About my kids, about my job, About bloggers who are snobs, And refuse to link to those that rank below them! About my life, about Iran, I've Andy Rooney in a can! And I grew him from some cells without a stem! About reform in education, About depression and elation, And how a latte always beats a coffee perkus! My opinions are all mine And I'm glad you've found the time To let me tell you why you too should hate the circus. I am blogger! Hear me roar! -----
I could probably go and put a link to match every word, but today has me collapsing under the weight of the Worst. Headache. Ever. Thank you, Gerard. You're all that and a bag of honey mustard pretzels (I don't really care for chips). Update: Managed to put some links in.

a little hockey, a little patton

I've been missing hockey, so I used the 500 songs annotation thing as an excuse to reminisce about hockey's glory days. Oh, oh! I'm an expert on something! The beautiful and gracious Sheila O'Malley has included my Mike Patton 101 post in her Expert Series. You can read it here and read all the other experts here. Where else are you going to learn how to tie a cherry in a knot with your mouth, eat a lobster and thread a film projector in the same place?

Fourth Annual Kazaam Awards- Nominations

In the past, I have given out my Kazaam award to the worst movie of the year. The award is so named for the worst movie I have ever seen in a movie theater. I am now taking nominations for the 2004 Kazaam Awards. This year, I am opening the awards up to not just movies, but television, music, video games, whatever "worst" entertainment experience you've had this year. Feel free to suggest categories as well as make nominations. Use the comments below. I'll start by nominating Confessions of A Teenage Drama Queen, a movie which I was forced to watch and which was not even redeemed by the stature of Lindsay Lohan's boobs.

Spirit of America

foi_1.gifI have decided to give up raising money as an indivdual blogger. Winds of Change has made me an offer I can't refuse: Basically, join them and make more of a difference than I've made on my own. So as of now I am part of Team Pajamahdeen, which has already raised over $1500 for the Arabic Blogging Tool - Viral Freedom project via Spirit of America. I will no longer be offering stories to those who donate, as teaming up with WoC would make that an overwhelming endeavor. I still have two stories to write, so those will be coming up shortly. Thanks to Joe Katzman for offering me the opportunity to help make a difference in Iraq. I bring them my $705.00 (thank you again to everyone who donated) and my promise to help raise a bit more. You can read more about it here.

not the droids you're looking for

There was a post here that's not here anymore. I've decided it was a bunch of drivel that was important only to me. For those who read, the whole thing was precipitated by an email I should have ignored, but didn't, because I'm one of those emotional females who would be better off writing in a paper diary. You know, the kind with the flowers and butterflies on the cover, where the pages are scribbled with ten paragraph equivelants of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Anyhow, it was all kind of silly and now it's gone. Sorry if I trackbacked you on what is now a non existent post. I owe you one.

December 12, 2004

told ya

You thought I was lying, didn't you? Santa came at 4:30, just as advertised. Yes, DJ is wearing his sister's pink gloves. And no, I'm not getting an X-Box this year. Something about being on the wrong list.

My Own Award Show

The ASV Awards for blogs you may or may not be reading, but were not represented on the Wizbang awards and maybe you want to click on over and see how much goodness there is outside of your blogroll. AKA, The Look Over There Awards. Three best blogs I discovered very recently: The Grand Staircase Pro Sound Blog I Read the Comics So You Don't Have To The only blog for which I have a bookmark folder in which to drop all the links I find there: Ultimate Insult Best writing on a blog by a friend I haven't spoken to in a while: Acerbia Blogger I was happiest to see resurrect her blogging mojo: Matrixland Blogger who has a tendency to pick on me but I read his site anyhow: Bozzy Blog that most enables my list obsession: Fimoculous More later - I'm still waiting on Santa. I think he's avoiding me.

vote early, vote often, kick santa in the nuts

The Wizbang awards are winding down (voting closes at 7pm), and I would like to take this last chance to implore you to go throw some votes at your favorite blogs. For the record, in the categories I voted in, my votes went to: Treacher Command Post Kerry Spot* Babalu Blog Meryl Yourish I didn't really vote in a lot of categories - I kind of got disgusted with the whole thing early on. But I don't want that to take away from the people who voted for me and asked others to vote for me, for which I am truly grateful because that means you like me, you really like me! *In the best new weblog category, I had a hard time deciding between Kerry Spot and Media Drop. KS had a big impact on the Rather story, so they deserve a vote, but Media Drop is really a great blog. So I voted a few times and split my vote between them. And to those lovely people who emailed accusing me of nefarious deeds that enabled me to pull ahead, try reading here before you jump on me like that. This is not something I care enough about to cheat to win. I save that for Monopoly. So, if you have a favorite weblog in the running, go vote before the clock ticks down. I just wanted to get this in now because Santa is coming here at 4:30 and I'm going to go stand outside and wait for him. I want to hand deliver my letter asking for an X-Box, because he completely ignored my letter of last Christmas. And I'm wearing my steel-toed boots just in case Santa tries to pinch my ass like he did last year. Ho, ho, ho my ass. Update: Well, that was the quickest deletion of a comment ever. For the intelligence impaired: I did not do any cheating to gain the top spot in my category. My nearest competitor had votes taken away from her, which pushed me to the top. Apparently someone was cheating on her behalf, more likely than not without her blessing or knowledge. I sincerely doubt she would do something like that. A few words to anyone and everyone who cheated in this award thing. Get. A. Life.

Fiction For Charity V

This one is for David. Thank you, David, for your generous donation to the Friends of Iraq blogger challenge. For info on the fiction for charity thing, see here. David's story is called Happily Ever After and you can read it here. Also, two songs for the price of one over at the 500 Songs Annotation Project, or whatever I'm calling it today.

curtain call

The high school production of Once Upon a Mattress was a success. It's really a very cute story (a musical take off on The Princess and the Pea). It's so rewarding to see the hard work of the students pay off. They put an awful lot into these plays. I think Natalie was home a total of ten non-sleeping minutes in the past three weeks while rehearsals went into overdrive. And I'm proud that not only did she perform her part (lady in waiting/chorus) well, but she maintained her grade average while spending so much time at rehearsals. Which, if you know anything about my daughter, is a huge accomplishment. The rest of the cast was stellar, especially the girl who played Princess Winifred. Her comedic timing was impeccable and man, could she belt out a song. [click for bigger - Nat is in pink] Beautifully done, but I'm glad it's overwith. An exhausted teenager is a cranky teenager.

December 11, 2004

here, piggy piggy

We've all remarked at one time or another how adult life is no different than high school - whether at work or elsewhere. I was talking to Allah about this and he said Is high school the way it is because kids are kids, or because kids are people? I wonder if we're just destined to always wind up in some Lord of the Flies scenario.

2 down and whole new layout to go

There's a new entry over at the 500 Songs annotation site, which really needs a better name. And a better layout. I've been fooling around with it all morning, but I messed a few things up that I just can't get back. Anyhow, #44 is explained away and I'm going to try to get to a few more before we head out to Natalie's high school theatrical debut in Once Upon A Mattress. Again, I'm not going in any order, so if you are curious about a specific song on the list, let me know and I'll try to get to that number today. Not avoiding the Bay City Rollers thing, either. That one is coming soon. Might as well get the heckling overwith.

December 10, 2004

most awesome web game EVER

What's that song. Put in your favorite band and give it a whirl. I went 10/10 on the Faith no More. I'll hit a band I don't know as well next, just for fun. Ohh, you can put in years, too! (Thank you, Carol!)

let the music play / Q&A time

Of all the things that are pissing me off today, it's the one that should matter the least that's really driving me to drink. Why, oh why does my LaunchCast radio station insist on playing songs I have rated as never play again? What is the point of offering such a rating if the stupid randomizer isn't going to pay any attention to it? Or do they need to add a rating that says never play again and I really mean it this time? If I really wanted to hear the insipid Papa Roach crap that keeps coming up in the rotation, I would just turn on the radio because they seem to be on of about ten bands that K-Rock plays over and over again. So between that and the fifth consecutive day of rain and gray skies and some other things that are eating at me today (here's a hint to my mood: I just signed an email not bitter, just bleeding), things have been quiet around here. I discovered the hard way that it's better not to blog when you're in the midst of violent mood swings. Anyhow. I've been trying to get to some of that annotating of the songs, but work has been busy today. Now that I have some free moments, I can't decide what song to do next. So if there's a certain song that you're curious as to why it made my list, let me know and I'll get cracking. I'm also working on a FAQ for the page, as I'm getting some weird questions about the whole thing (still can't figure out what my bra size has to do with 500 songs, so I haven't answered that one yet) - if you have a question regarding the song list that you think should appear in the FAQ (most common: why no Beatles?), ask away here in the comments. Ok, motivate me to write something besides work-related legal mumbo jumbo: Songs you want explained away and other relevant questions.

metal's bad rap

It didn't take long for the vultures to swoop down on the body of "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott, using his death as vehicle to drive home - once again - the fallacies of and prejudice against heavy metal. Yesterday's rumors are today's facts - Nathan Gale, the man who killed Dimebag, was so distraught over the breakup of Pantera that he believed the band's demise ruined his life. He blamed Abbott for this and relieved his angst by shooting him in the head. As with any news story that blames music, video games or movies for someone's criminal, deranged actions, the media misses one glaring point: in order for the killer to react in such a manner, he had to have some serious, deep rooted issues that go way beyond the music he listened to, the games he played or the movies he watched. Metal has long been a favorite whipping boy of the hypersensitive, shallow-thinking My Morals Should Be Your Morals set. From the time Ozzy first barked at the moon, metal was imprinted with a warning label: This music is hazardous to your children. Freaked out parents and sociologists looked much deeper into the music than was necessary and proclaimed the genre as one that would cause its listeners to sign up for the church of Satan or become zombies in an army of juvenile delinquents. You would think that when all these years later Ozzy became the darling of television and looked upon as a sweet, if dopey, father figure, the world would have figured out - albeit belatedly - that heavy metal is as much a theatrical act as Britney's original virginal persona. Yet every media commentary I've read this morning on the death of Abbot has the same underlying tone - live by the sword, die by the sword. Metal is music for misfits, don't you know? What can you expect from the fans of a band whose lyrics are all unprintable in a family paper? They were heathens, I tell you! They drank and smoked and cursed! It's all so shrill and so unnerving. It's interesting bands like Pantera and Damageplan can be sworn off as dangerous and crude because of the lyrics, yet a guy like Eminem can be hailed as the voice of a generation even though his lyrics have more cursing than a Quentin Tarantino film and they tell stories of murder and mayhem. Eminem:
Gimme the keys I'm drunk, and I've never driven a truck But I smoke dope in a cab I'll stab you with the sharpest knife I can grab Come back the next week and re-open your scab (YEAH!) A killer instinct runs in the blood
Pantera:
I wonder if we'll smile in our coffins while loved ones Mourn the day, the absence of our faces, living, laughing, Eyes awake. Is this too much for them to take? Too young for ones conclusion, the lifestyle won. Such values you taught your son. That's how.
Look at me now. I'm broken. Inherit my life.
Did I pick and choose which lyrics to use? Sure. Don't you think the media does the same? All you'll hear today is how Pantera's lyrics were hostile and angry, how they motivated angry kids to act out their immoral thoughts. Most of the articles will speak in general terms. Very few will cite specific references. And if they do, you can bet no one is going to quote Cemetery Gates. The need to make more out of this story than is there, the need to sensationalize and give it Weekly World News headlines is far greater than the need to be honest. Of course, they will point to Abbott's nickname of Dimebag. They'll look at the Pantera DVDs and a see bunch of hard drinking, hard partying guys. And they'll conclude "the metal lifestyle is a dangerous one." And tomorrow on Page Six, there will pictures of some pop music princess with a bottle in her hand and her tits hanging out of her dress or a some boy band star holding a bottle of Jack Daniels and spitting at the camera. But, hey. They're just having fun, right? Pop Stars Gone Wild! What a riot! Give that guy some long hair and a guitar and suddenly he's a wild eyed beast who wants to eat your children. It's not just the music of heavy metal that's misunderstood. The fans also get their share of the lies and distortion. We're all emotionally disturbed individuals with deep psychological problems, bad parents and broken homes who draw pentagrams on their bedroom floors and torture the neighbor's cats. I grew up listening to metal. I was all of nine years old when I first heard Paranoid and War Pigs playing on my cousin's stereo and became hooked. It wasn't the lyrics which, at nine, I didn't understand at all. It was the music. It was the screeching guitars and pounding drums that reached out to me in some primitive way. I didn't know what Ozzy was singing about, I only knew how that music made me feel. Even at nine, I knew I was hearing something powerful that would stay with me forever. More than 30 years have passed since I heard my first Black Sabbath album. I haven't killed anyone. I never attempted suicide. I haven't sold my soul to Satan. Like millions of others, I appreciate the music (and yes, the lyrics) without becoming so involved in it that, like Nathan Gale, I can't separate myself from the entertainment. There are millions of people who play Grand Theft Auto who will never see the game as an impetus to go steal a car and mow down a few innocent people. But the one person who does see the game in that way will cause a posse of hyperventilating parents to claim that all video games are evil, none of them ever stopping to think that maybe this kid had mental issues that prevented him from separating reality from fantasy. Games and music are always convenient scapegoats, especially when some morality group can use an otherwise sad news item to strike up publicity for their agenda. And so today's papers will all say the same thing - yea, Gale was a little nutty, he had been acting strange for a while and hey, did you see the lyrics to Fuckin' Hostile? Then the article will veer off on some tangent dealing with terrible lyrics and angry undertones and somehow, Gale will become the victim and Abbott will have died by his own sword. Instead of quotes from fellow musicians talking about Dimebag's talents and friendship, instead of references to the fact that he was one of the most influential guitarists in rock music and he was murdered in front of his own brother, we'll get chapter and verse on the wild lifestyle and brainwashing lyrics of heavy metal. disclaimer: I know that not all of today's articles on the death of Darrell are saying these things. I've mainly read through the links sent me in email last night.

December 09, 2004

one down, 512 to go

I've got lots of updates, links and commentary over at the RIP Dimebag Darrellpost. ------ My first song in the great annotation attempt of the 500 songs list is up. I'll be working on the design and navigation of the site soon. I know it's ugly. Questions: Are you really going to read these? If you are, do you think I should go in order or should I go by whim and then maybe put them in order later? And while I have your attention can you please help Jim out? Dude deserves to be way higher than eighth place and you all know it.

500!!!

I AM DONE!

Everything is subject to change. The list may also grow to more than 500 at some point. But I have reached my goal of 500 songs without having to resort to Biz Markie and that makes me very happy. And now, the annotating project begins. I suspect it will take at least six months to get the whole thing finished, by which point I will be the only one left who cares. I have not proofread the list yet, so if you see any numbering/grammatical/repeat errors, please report them here. I think after completing this list, I deserve the title of best culture blog. Update: How much do I suck? Well, an awful lot because apparently I can't count. Thanks to JFH, who is my personal proofreader, for discovering that I have 513 songs, not 500. He also made a new list for me, with proper number ordering.

Damn
(with LOTS of updates and music)

I guess it's obvious that I'm a Pantera fan, because my inbox was flooded this morning with links to this story.
Dimebag Darrell, guitarist for Pantera and Damageplan, was one of at least four people fatally wounded during a bizarre shooting at a concert in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday night.
dimebag.jpgDimebag, formerly known as Diamond (back in the Pantera glam days), whose real name was Darrell Abbot, was the brother of Damageplan/Pantera drummer Vinnie Paul and the son of country singer Jerry Abbott. It's a bizarre kind of story. Not only did the gunman intentionally single out and kill Darrell, but he shot blindly into the audience, killing three people. The gunman himself was killed, so we'll probably never know what made this guy freak out. And I'm sure I'll get a lot of "who the fuck cares?" comments/emails, and they'll all be deleted. Because, as a fan of his work, I care. According to the Damageplan message boards, a bassist from the opening band tried to shield Darrell and was shot. Also, they are reporting that another member of Damageplan, Pat Lachman, has died and one of the other victims was a security guard. DJ had just picked up a Guitar magazine last week that came with a DVD of Dimebag giving guitar tips. He was in awe of Darrell's talents. R.I.P. Dimebag - you will be missed. Andrew has more on the story, over at Blogcritics. Update: I can't confirm the death of Lachman - there's a lot of conflicting reports. NBC4i seems to be keeping up with the breaking news. The Damageplan website has apparently been overloaded, and is down for the count, as is almost every Pantera fansite and message board. See also, Say Uncle, Diggers Realm, Six Meat Buffet. And Walk just came on my Launchcast station. Damn. This is really upsetting. Updates: The gunman has been identified as Nathan Gale, 25, of the Marysville area northwest of Columbus. And I swear, if this starts a news wave of "your children are not safe at rock concerts!" stories, I will go ballistic. Dave Mustaine on Darrell Martin Poppoff on Darrell More updates: Read more about Darrell here, and why he was such an influential guitarist. More on Dimebag here. Police say gunman had hostage when he shot Dimebag. There's a rumor going around that the gunman killed Darrell because he was upset over the break up of Pantera. He shot the wrong guy, then. Just saying. I'm not going to believe this until I see some proof of it, like friends or family who knew the guy went batshit when Pantera officially broke up. And even if it's true, I don't understand why he blames Dimebag when Phil is the one whose ego and death-defying drug habit ruined the band. Dallas Stars issue statement (Pantera were huge hockey/Stars fans) Tons to read over at Zakk Wylde's message board Words from Scott Ian

December 08, 2004

Educashunal lunacie*

[click for bigger] Stuart Buck's TCS education column today got me thinking about how I "learned" to read. I emailed Stuart and he posted what I sent him over at his site, so you can read it there. The image depicts the alphabet I had to work with for nearly three years. One thing I didn't mention to Stuart was the lingering effect the ITA way of learning had on me; to this day, I have problems with my handwriting because I still try to connect certain letters together. Imagine a classroom where this little story would get you an A+. I have never come across another person - including those in the education field - who has heard of ITA. I was part of some small, isolated experiment that presumably failed, because it vanished from our school as soon as we left the program and "graduated" to the normal way of reading. Yes, I wuz speshil. *

458475 and the rest is up to you

Ok, I think I've put up enough free ice cream for one morning. I'm headed to Guitar Center for my lunch break where I will by my son the most expensive Christmas present he's ever received or ever likely to receive from me (and he has assured me he is ok with getting little else). Speaking of guitars, I'm up to 475 on the list. And I am leaving the final blanks up to you. Leave your choices here and I'll pick and choose from the comments to come up with my final choices. I'm anxious to get the annotating started but I won't do that until the list is complete. So name your poison. No Meatloaf. No exception to that rule. And it wouldn't hurt you to go vote for me while you're just sitting there twiddling your thumbs. Update: 475 now. 25 to go. I went a little new wave crazy their towards the end, but scrolling and clicking through allmusic reminded me of so much good stuff from that genre. I did admit the other day that I'm an 80's chick at heart, anyhow.

His Dark Materials Shredded of All Relevant Materials

When I tell you the news of this made me cry, I am not exaggerating. Why bother? Why even make the film at all? I would rather not see this brought to life on the screen if they aren't going to do it right. It would just destroy the wonders of the stories for anyone who hasn't read the books. I implore you to read these books if you haven't already. They rank right up there with the greatest and most profound novels I have ever read. I can't believe they are going to rip the heart and soul out of these books in order to turn them into a friendly, controversy free movie. It's going to break my heart to see the guts of the story destroyed like that, all for a little bit of P.C. goodness. What is it about religion that leaves people quaking in their otherwise creative shoes? Why do people censor themselves so when faced with a possible reprimand from religious figures or patrons? Well, money speaks I guess. Wave millions of possible dollars in revenue at someone long enough and they'll start to believe that it's ok to fuck with the very essence of a creative work just to stave off future protesters. Mkae up your mind, oh easily offended people of the world. Does religion offend you so much that we have to curb our songs of the season, or is your religion so revered that no one dare poke holes in it? George Lucas may have sold his soul for the sake of the almighty dollar, but Pullman's sell out is even worse; he caved to the very people he was taking on his books. I know, it's his works, his choice and who am I to bitch about what he does with his property? Well, I am a reader of his works. I am an admirer of his words. And as I praised him so many times, I can certainly voice my disastisfaction with both his choice of director (American Pie to Golden Compass? That's quite a jump) and his willingness to sell his own ideas down the river so as not to upset the religious apple cart. And don't even get me started on the casting rumors. I'll probably edit this later, as I'm in full Cartman I.am.so.pissed.off.right.now. mode.

tacky christmas 2004: angel with her ass on high

Ok kids, it's camera/link time. By now, most of your neighbors have put up their tacky decorations and it is time to get those pictures taken and send them in for the Tacky Christmas 2004 thing. I'm also accepting links to stories of bizarre behavior in decorating. Today's treat comes to us from England, that land of all things tacky. It seems Madame Tussauad's Wax Museum, not content to just let the holidays slide by without adding some wax tackiness to them, has concoted a nativity scene from hell. Here, we see Samuel L. Jackson as one of the shpeherds, along with Hugh Grant and Graham Norton (insert obligatory "give him the fucking myrrh, motherfucker" line here). And here we have Tony Blair and George Bush as wise men. And, of course, what British display of tackiness would be complete without Posh and Beckham being foisted upon as Jesus and Mary? But you know what makes this all worthwile? This. Oh, she is an angel, isn't she?


I'm sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes. Tackiness. Christmas. Ugly Christmas Lights has already gotten the season in full swing, complete with a Rudolph that must have been polishing his antlers with Viagra. And there's this debacle which is described perfectly in the caption. Now get cracking on those pictures and links. There's tackiness in every neighborhood, if you just take the time to hunt it down. Am I the only one mesmerized by Kylie's ass?

on this date

Ed notes the date and asks, where were you? I've printed this on every December 8th since I first wrote it in 2001. This is where I was. [When you're done here, please go read this.] December 8, 1980 When an event happens that shapes your life, or plays a significant role in it, you tend to remember every little detail of the moment it happens. Twenty-one years ago last night. December 8, 1980. I was in my bedroom, lying on the bed with the headphones on, listening to WNEW. It was Jim Morrison's birthday, and the station was running a two hour special devoted to him. I was obsessed with Morrison at that time, and was taping the special I was listening. I know I was wearing an old Led Zeppelin t-shirt and sweat pants and I was writing a poem as I listened to the radio. My room faced the front of the house, and the Christmas lights that hung from the roof glowed red and green and white over my bedroom window. There was a decoration hanging on the window; a big white star made out of plastic pieces melded together. The colors of the bulbs outside made the star look psychedlic. I had smoked enough pot that night to stare at the star for a length of time, imagining the colors blending into one another. My concentration would be broken every now and then by headlights beaming down the street, and I would run to the window and peer out. We were waiting for my cousin Michael, my favorite cousin, to arrive by car from Florida. I was anxious to see him and disappointed that each susbequent headlight did not belong to his car. All the while, Jim Morrison's life story played out in the background, and I stopped looking down the street for my cousin at some point and started paying attention to the radio. I remember it was late, probably close to 11:00. I may have drifted off at some point and I was jolted fully awake by a shaky voice announcing that someone tentatively identified as John Lennon had been shot outside the Dakota apartment building in New York City. I waited, nearly numb, hoping for more news. Soon after, it was confirmed. I went inside to tell my parents, but they already knew. I think they announced it on Monday Night Football. I was never much of a Beatles fan. But sometime in high school I went through a hippie phase and took a liking to John Lennon and his ideas. The fact that he spoke out for peace and died so violently was one of the first things that struck me when I heard the news. The event didn't change my life the way it did the lives of Beatles fans. It didn't impact me in quite the same way as someone who was mourning Lennon the man, or the music he created. I mourned something else. I think up until that point, I still had a sense of innocence about me. I was still naive about the ways of the world. I was still all about peace and love and tranquility. I assumed the rest of the world was too. I thought we could all live in harmony and love one another and make the world a better place for future generations. Something happened to me the night John Lennon died. I lost a lot of that idealism. I couldn't get past the fact that someone who was so fervent about living peacefully could have his life taken from him in such a way. I couldn't fathom that something like this could happen. How did we let our world get to this point, that people could just walk around murdering one another? It was then, that very night, that my eyes opened to a new vision of the world. When Lennon died, whatever was left of the peace movement died, too. I dropped my peace sign mentality some time after that night. I gave up and gave in and became cynical like every grown-up I knew. It wasn't all because of Lennon; there were other things that lead up to it also. But the death of John Lennon - the murder of John Lennon sure as hell played a very significant role in shaping my psyche for the rest of my life. That, more than anything, is why I remember every little detail of that night. Somehow I knew, I felt it in my gut the moment I heard the news. I knew that I would never be the same again. I ingrained that moment in my brain somewhere, marking it down as a "this day in history" of my meager little life. 21 years now that I'm a cranky bastard. [Originally posted December 9, 2001] ------------------ And happy birthday to Jim Morrison, a man who I once believed was my connection to the afterlife.

This isn't really about mothers and babies at all, is it?

Standing on line at Kohl's the other night, I noticed a few books propped up on the display next to the register. Among them was a bright colored paperback - about half the height and double the width of most paperbacks - titled 1001 Tips for Moms. Or something like that. It's hard to remember the exact title because there are about 5,000 brightly colored paperbacks with the words "Moms" and "Tips" on the cover that they all blend together after a while. I did pick the book and glance through it while the line moved at a very slow pace towards the cashier. I was overcome by a strong sense of deja vu. Hadn't I read this already? Well, yes, in a way. In my fourteen plus years of being a parent, I've probably read a book just like the one in my hand a thousand times. And every one of them were the same book, just wrapped in a different cover and penned by a different author. How many times can you say the same thing and expect people to buy it, read it and enjoy it? How many different times can you read the tip "prepare the week's meals ahead of time" before you scream "I know! I know! Tell me something different!" And I got to wondering about the author of the book and what made her decide that the world needed another 300 page tome dishing out ideas that have already been passed around like gossip at mommy and me groups? Did you know that Cheerios make a great finger food for toddlers? Why, those little o's of nutrition not only give your child a sugar-free snack, but picking them up off the high chair tray will also improve her finger dexterity and handy-eye coordination! Yea, yea, we got it. We read it in 365 Fun Facts For Busy Moms and in 101 Ideas for Moms Who Haven't a Clue. I think those books even used the same illustration. So what makes a person want to spend their time writing a book on a subject in which the market for that subject is already saturated to the point of being washed out? The easy answer to that is because people write what they know and enjoy and, quite often, they will assume that because they are ass deep in diapers and bottles and mother support groups, that everyone else is, too. When you become so deeply entrenched with something specific, your world view becomes quite narrow. When you have a toddler, you hang out with other people who have toddlers and you talk about toddler toys and games and tv shows and the consistency of your kid's poop and the power of projectile vomiting. And, because you've surrounded yourself with others in your situation, you get nods and sighs of agreement and very few differing opinions. In your mind, everyone has a toddler. Everyone will be enthralled by your potty training stories and everyone wants to you to share your bedtime ritual tips. And then one night you go to a dinner party and you try to strike up a conversation with several people, none of whom have toddlers in the house. You are bewildered that people seem, well, bored to tears when you regale them with tales of spiked fevers and pediatricians. No one seems to care about how you figured out a way to keep the baby quiet on long road trips. You go home feeling out of touch with the rest of the world. You had completely forgotten that there are people outside of your little circle of Gymboree friends, people who know nothing about the fine art of burping a baby, but who know everything about, say, reggae music. You can do a few things in that situation: vow to diversify your life a little and start seeking out friends outside of the mother's group set, or you can swear to never go to another dinner party and just settle in for a comfortable life where you are only asked to discuss what you already know. You'll probably buy that new parenting book on the shelf at Kohl's, too, just in case there are one or two tidbits in there that you missed. You totally miss the fact that there is a third option, which is to keep going to your mother's group and all that entails, but set aside some time for outside interests as well, so you don't forget that a whole big, wide world exists outside of the realm of parenting. This way, next time you're invited to a dinner party, you don't make the mistake of assuming that not only does everyone want to talk about babies, but they want to talk about your baby and compliment your parenting skills. that way, when you get that idea to write a book called 1001 Ways To Keep Baby Happy, you will smack yourself upside the head for thinking that you're going to change the world with your sage advice and cute anecdotes. Some day you will walk into Border's and stroll through the thousands upon thousands of parenting titles and you'll be glad you decided to give up the ghost on that book idea because struggling every day to come up with something that hasn't already been said in all the other busy mom tip books - while all the time reading books of the same nature - was kind of getting to you. You'll smile and whistle as you head start browsing the other sections, wondering what kind of interesting topics that have nothing to do with baby vomit await you. ------- Well, this all made perfect sense when I thought about it at 3am. See: Sissy, Gerard, Laurence.

December 07, 2004

once we were rock and roll, now we're yanni

This is definitely the most interesting comment thread I've read in ages. On many levels. The title of this post refers to this particular comment. I'll have more to say about it in the morning. Go keep an eye on this one. Update: Ilyka wonders if we aren't more Tesh or Hasselhoff instead of Yanni. Me, I was thinking Nickelback. I'll leave you to figure that out.

some words involving dead kittens, dookie, weeners and being cultured

So I've been trying to figure out a way to bribe you guys to vote for me in the thing which I swore I would not care about, but ended up caring about anyhow because I have this fragile ego that would just shatter if I were to lose. Meryl has offered links in her sidebar if you vote for her. Robb is going with the guilt thing, which worked for me (ok, he gets my vote on merit, too). Treacher has just given up and come up with his own sure fire way of winning a poll. I could go the sleazy route and offer you cleavage, but you've all seen that already and that also leaves out the [straight] female portion of my readership. I would offer some male frontal nudity, but everyone knows that girls really don't like to stare at the male appendage in quite the same way that men like to stare at tits. Besides, how do you prove that you voted for me? For all I know, you could come over here and lie just to get one of the free lollipops I intended on handing out. Nevermind that, now. Well, all I can tell you is that out of the top running culture blogs, my blog has the most culture like content. And if that's not enough to get you scurrying over there to vote for me well, then, I'll just concentrate all my intense link throwing power on people who have the good taste to vote for me. And thus ends my pathetic little cry for attention, which was put here in place of the post I was working on about the Grammy nominations because I'm still trying to figure out if I'm just too hung up on my own definition of rock to see that these choices in the rock performance category have merit or if the Grammy people are completely out of touch with what rock is supposed to be. The only category I'll go out on a limb for this year is the best rock album and whatever else Green Day's American Idiot album was nominated for. It's their best work since Dookie and deserving of what ever awards it reaps. The epic song Jesus of Suburbia is worth the price of the album alone, but the whole damn thing is excellent and, if listened to back to back with Kerplunk, shows just how much these guys have matured musically. Anyhow, vote for me or I swear, I'll kill a dozen kittens in the next 24 hours. Look, that was a CULTURE post!

Now that's what I call Karma

Those of you who particpate in Strengthen the Good might remember Debi Faris, whose Garden of Angels was an StG charity choice in October. Debi's Garden of Angels is a project involves "providing dignified burials to infants when they're found, and encouraging parents to avoid making that choice in the first place." Last week, Debi Faris won 27 million dollars in the California lottery. That's a beautiful thing, isn't it?

500 songs: T-5850

Many interesting things have come up while composing the 500 songs list. For instance: * I have a much softer place in my heart for Yes, Genesis and ELP than I thought. * I am coming to terms with my love of show tunes (I also spent a few hours this weekend watching the PBS Grub-a-Thon special on the history of Broadway). * My hippie past will never be fully exorcised. * I am a sucker for a guy with a broken heart. * My memories are Kiss are much better than the real thing. * Three David Bowie songs? That suprised even me. * When all is said and done, I am an 80's new wave chick all the way through. 58 songs to go. This will be done today, then I can get to the business of explaining them all away. Update: Yet another counting error noted in the comments. Since fixed and it means I only have 50 songs to go. I really need someone to proofread this list for me.

the 12 days of Christmas Repeats

Another morning, another Christmas repeat. The darker it is in the a.m., the harder it is to get everyone motivated to get out of the house on time. I chose this particular post to reprint because it will act as a nice segue for what I have coming up later. Also, it is cultural. As in culture. As in best culture blog.

working retail in december: a horror story

qr1.gifThose of you who have worked retail during the holiday season will understand my reluctance to speak about this before now. The memories are horrific, brutal and sometimes cause flashbacks that leave me curled up in a fetal position, sobbing and begging to be sedated.

1983 was my first holiday retail experience. It was a baptism by fire, as I landed a job at the busiest record store at the busiest mall on Long Island. Record World, Roosevelt Field, a/k/a/ RF#1. On my first day - two days before Thanksgiving - I was handed the requisite blue vest, a name tag and a few whispered words of advice: don't let them get to you. My co-workers were referring to the barrage of customers that were at the gated entrance to the store fifteen minutes before opening and still clinging to the cassette racks as we were trying to close. You have not seen a whirling dervish in action until you have seen someone hell bent on getting everything on their kid's Christmas list.

I, however, was no wimp. I could handle any customer, any crowd, any cash register breakdown or old woman sobbing over the Julio Iglesias albums. I immediately volunteered to work the irons - the opening to closing shift - nearly every day. From Thanksgiving until Christmas, I would not have a day off, and most of the days would be the full work shift.

In the beginning I had superhero powers. I never got tired from the long hours. I manned every spot in the store; the cash register, the cassette department, the imports. I spent time downstairs unpacking boxes upon boxes of shipments, sorting albums, slapping stickers on them and writing the title, artist and store # on the plastic sleeve of every record with a blue sharpie.

By the second week in December, I was spending more time on the floor, helping customers find exactly what they were looking for. During the holiday season, this usually consisted of frazzled mothers trying to remember exactly what it was their son or daughter had asked for. This resulted in a lot of guesswork, humming and/or singing. It also involved many loud gasps of horror when the mother matched the title of the record with the album on the wall (the wall was where the albums were displayed in rows of pockets). So many dropped jaws and wide eyes as parents spied the cover to Quiet Riot's Metal Health. That's what my child is listening to? Oh My God! He's a devil worshiper! I knew it!! And the mother would run screaming from the store and head straight over to Catholic Supplies, where she would beg for some holy water.

The kids were just as bad. They would come in without a list, trying to buy music for their parents. Getting the title of a song out of them was like pulling teeth. How about if I sing it? Yea, sure kid. Sing away. A tuneless dirge would emerge. No words. Just la la humm hum la da dee. I begged for lyrics. Just one or two would do. Uhh. Love. And umm...heart. I would lean in close to the kid and say sweetly, Well that narrows it down. And as soon as the kid smiled I would yell, To about 3,000 songs! Eventually I would convince the kid to settle for a Billy Joel or Lionel Richie single, unless the kid was really rude and obnoxious, in which case I would convince him that the song he was humming was actually Frank Stallone's Far From Over , knowing full well that I would be going to hell for inflicting such pain on an innocent person.

The closer it got to Christmas, the more of a frenzy people were in. They fought over the last copy of Synchronicity. They mobbed us when we opened a new box of Madonna cassettes. And every once in a while, I would have to step over some fur-coated, blue-haired grandma who fainted when she saw the larger-than-life cardboard cut-out of Julio. And I started to feel the result of all work and no play. I was tired, cranky and I lost my voice.

My co-workers made signs for me to hold up so I could still help customers. Two days before Christmas, the only sign I had to use was "Sorry. We are out of that title right now." I faced the wrath of customers who, through no fault of mine, had waited until the very last minute to pick up that Echo and the Bunnymen album and sorry, we are out of that title right now. I listened to the complaints that the register lines were too long (this is when everything was done by hand) and the store was a mess and the floor people were rude. We had to chase people out of the store ten minutes after closing and even as I was vacuuming and closing up cases they would say "oh, are you closing?" I lost my patience and I lost my fixed greeting smile. No longer was it "Welcome to Record World, how may I help you," but "What you really want to buy your kid is clothes. Go to The Gap and leave me alone."

This was all played out to the constant background music of the crapfest of pop music that came out that year, especially Huey Lewis and the News's Sports album which, to this day, makes me break out in hives.

Had I known that the next year I would be doing the Record World Christmas stint again and would be subjected to the non-stop playing of Do They Know It's Christmas, I might have appreciated Huey a little more.

I tortured myself through Christmas of '86 and decided that I was going to retire from retail after that. I could not handle another holiday season of bitchy parents and surly kids and girls screaming and drooling over New Kids on the Block albums. I had used my holiday bonuses and store discounts to accumulate a nice collection of imports and that almost - almost - offset whatever mental damage that job caused me.

Despite all that, I still refer to my term at Record World as the best damn job I ever had. But I never did work retail again.

Don't forget to vote for me. And Meryl. And Silent Runing>.

December 06, 2004

whip it good

Via Rox, I went over to UGO and made myself into a super hero. I think Rox's chick is naked. And she has better boots than me. cgirl.jpg She's not as nude as Rox's girl but you gotta admit, she's got it going on. And she looks just like me! Yea...just like me. Mmhhm. (cue Jon Lovitz) That whip is to get you motivated to vote for both me and Meryl. Depending on what kind of person you are and what you do for her (or don't do), the whip is either a reward or punishment. Culture girl knows how to dish it out either way. That's what they mean by cultured, you know. She knows the art of leaving a good slash mark on someone's back. I have the sudden urge to go buy a pair of boots.

things no one understands but me

Watching Welcome Back Kotter reruns this week, I realized that one of the most underrated/forgotten comedic moments to ever grace a tv screen is when John Travolta's Vinnie Barbarino imitates a drug user in the Very Special Episode where Washington gets hooked on painkillers. Gimme drugs! Gimme drugs! I'm not saying it ranks up there with Rev. Jim getting his driver's license, but it's still a great moment nonetheless. Yea, your mileage may vary.

Fiction for Charity, Part V

This one is for Mike, who sent me a photo he took himself and it so inspired me that I started writing a short novel instead of a short story. For info on the fiction for charity thing, see here. Thank you, Mike, for your donation and inspiration. I've still got three stories to go. The story is here: No Spitting. More fiction here. The good citizens of ASV land have raised $555 for the Friends of Iraqi blogger challenge so far. Thank you all.

the childhood trauma of second place and how it figures into blogging

Well, I haven't exactly campaigned for my category in the weblog awards. In fact, I kind of dissed the awards last week. But for the sake of my competitive nature (which kicked in thanks to some challenging words) and because people are coming here, looking around and saying "tell me why I should vote for you," well then, ok. If I'm going to be in the running, I may as well whore myself for the top spot. Giving an award to a blog for its culture content would denote the fact that the blog does, indeed, have lots of content about culture, which could be described as subjects pertaining to the arts and the effect of those arts upon us. Well, I've got music, sports, television, movies, comic books, video games, novels, fiction of my own, toys,> and so many of these posts engage my readers in an interactive sort of give and take. Lots of quizzes and contests on the subject of culture, as well. Poetry contests, even! I'd like your vote. I'd really like to win mostly because I hate to lose. I'm not going to threaten you or bribe you or anything else unseemly. Yet. I just want to win, damn it. You know, I once ran for some school election thing. I think I was up for secretary, nominated by a teacher who I have yet to forgive for subjecting me to such public humilation. Becasue I got my ass kicked. Mainly because I had no friends to speak of and the votes were all about how many friends you had. I would have made a damn fine secretary, too. Much better than that Kenneth kid who beat me and who spent his time in office trying to feel up our president, Mary Theresa, in the copy room. I would have never tried to stick my hand up Mary Theresa's shirt. I would have just done my job to the best of my ability and condcuted myself with pride. But, no. Kenneth was cute and rich and his parents sent him to school the day of the elections with bags of candy to hand out to his classmates. All I had was my sincerity which, obviously, wasn't quite enough. I implore you to not let me live through another fifth grade fiasco. I have friends, damn it. I have readers. Don't make me relive the nightmare of a concession speech all over again. So yea, vote for me. I have the sudden urge to yell out "Vote for Pedro!" Below, for your perusal, several of my "culture" posts of 2004. And really, how many bloggers of culture have devoted their limited time to composing a list of 500 songs? By the way, a greatly missed blogger has come out of retirement to show his support for my ummm...culture. Has nothing to do with fishnet stockings, I swear. Thanks, Allah. * Channeling Grandpa Simpson * George Lucas Ate My Soul * Ben Franklin and the Magic 8 Ball * Obsessive Compulsive Zombie Disorder * Salad Blogging * Babies, Songs and Stepford Mommies * All I Want for Christmas - A John Kerry Adventure * The High Cost of Living * Squeezed Out * Disney, Ducks and Goofiness * Happy Birthday Donald Duck, You Dirty Old Man * Dissecting Popeye on the Occasion of his 75th Birthday

peanut butter and chocolate!

I was struggling with how best to annotate my 500 songs list. The pop up text wasn't working because some of the annotations would be very long and I also wanted to include links with some of them. And then - light bulb! Hey, you got your songs in my website. No, you got your website in my songs! Errr...nevermind. Just click the link and you'll understand. Meanwhile, I've added a few songs and I have a list in front of me to add to the list later. I think today will be the day it gets finished and I can start annotating in earnest. With all that spare time I have. I can just imagine the conversation with my kids: Christmas tree? I don't have time to go shop for a tree! I have to explain to people why that Dead Milkmen song means so much to me! And then they commit me. Which they've been itching to do, anyhow. Just so they can put white lights on the tree when I'm not there.

(Repeat alert) santa, satan and scooby poo: worst.party.ever

A quickie repeat this morning, as it's going to be a busy one. This is one of my favorite Christmas-themed posts ever. Orignally from 2001.

Every year I am dragged, kicking and screaming, to the firehouse Christmas party. I have been going to this thing since I was a baby, stopped when I was about 14, and then was forced to start going again when I had kids. Every year, I say no. And every year I get the lecture about the "firehouse family" and traditions and how the kids look soooo forward to it. My ass. They're crying to go home five minutes after we get there. And with good reason.

When I was little, the party was ok. There were food and games and prizes and songs and a generally festive air. Somewhere along the line, the party deteriorated into a 4 hour, mind numbing trip to hell.

Satan's minions must have been out in full force today. Hell was never hotter nor more terrifying. The party started at 1:00, and we were left to our own accord until a little after two. The kids ran around like crazy, fortified only by burnt Bagel Bites and gallons of soda. We gave them handfuls of quarters and sent them to the room with the video games, only to have someone kick them out ten minutes later.

It should be noted that save for my family, I do not like most of these people. Hell, I don't even like my family sometimes. But these people are so low-class, so low on the totem pole of life, that the only analogy I can really offer you is this: Think Clark Griswald's family in Christmas Vacation.

So there we sit, waiting for some form of entertainment, watching the clock for the time Santa is supposed to arrive so the kids can get the presents that I brought for them and we can get home. I'm sitting there minding my own business, trying extra hard not to look like I might want to talk to one of these cretins. But they have these radars. Like a homing system that let's them know a captive audience is just waiting for some incredibly boring conversation. The woman that got me is a mother of one of DJ's classmates. So she automatically assumes I want to talk to her, I need to talk to her, I live only to hear her drone on and on. She chatters about the field trip and the class bully and then repeats verbatim her monologue from last year when she described in full detail how wonderful her son, her neighbors, her whole block is. As my eyes started to roll in back of my head and my brain began to short-circuit, she told me this story:

So I was taking Adam and his friends to play mini-golf and one of the friends, Brendan, starting talking about how there is no Santa Claus and the other kids were yelling at him and he was insisting that Santa is just fake. Fake! The nerve of him telling my kid that! So after I dropped Brendan off I asked the other boys how they felt about what Brendan said and they were all so sad and shocked so I acted quickly and figured out what to tell them. I said 'guys, Brendan is a different religion than us. He's Jewish (emphasis hers). They get so jealous of you this time of year, so they act out by being mean and telling you there's no Santa. Of coures he's lying. It's just because he's Jewish.'

She then smiled at me, this grin that made me think she was awfully proud of herself for coming up with that winner. She waited for me to tell her how ingenous it was. Instead I looked at her and said, "You really are as stupid as they say!" I didn't wait around for a response.

The day then descended into the fourth level of hell, the one where you are surrounded by costumed characters that look nothing like the beloved children's characters they are supposed to be representing. There was a blue dragon, a 7 foot tall Elmo, my brother-in-law dressed as Clifford the Big Red Dog and pinching my ass the whole time, and this big brown walking piece of dirty fur that was supposed to be Scooby Doo but looked more like just the Doo. At one point he bent down to say hello to a little girl and his head fell off. Much crying and screaming of little children ensued.

Then there was the face-painting lady in the green and purple Jester's hat and hair that was such a hideous shade of orange I thought it was fake at first. When she walked in, she spotted DJ and a friend laying on the floor by the door, lulled into a coma by the dull festivities. She walked over to them and kicked Michael on the edge of his foot. This conversation followed:

Lady: Hey, I'm gonna paint some faces now. Come on, get up.

DJ: I don't want my face painted.

Lady (menacingly): Everyone gets their face painted when I'm here, ok?

Michael: I'm not getting a stupid flower on my face.

Lady: Hey! I don't do flowers! I used to do the make-up for Cats on Broadway!

Michael: Cats sucked!

Lady: Well the make-up didn't.

DJ: Why didn't you do Les Mis? (he puts on his fake old lady voice now). It's better than Cats! I'd see it again and again!

DJ and Michael go into fits of hysterics, rolling around on the floor.

Lady: Well fine, I see you don't like me. The hell with you, then!

She turns and sees me standing there and it dawns on her that I must have been there the whole time.

Lady: These kids are rude!

Me: Your hair is on fire.

So then Santa finally came and the kids got their presents and I was scrambling to get the kids out of there as fast as possible. As I was dragging the kids out the door I was thinking that no one could have possibly enjoyed the party less than me. Then I saw a fireman standing talking to the big brown Scooby Doo and handing him baby wipes as they talked. "I'm sorry," the fireman said to Scoob. "I didn't know when I put her on your lap that she had diarreah."

Ok, so there was someone who had a worse time than me.

December 05, 2004

The 24 days of xanax

I don't think we ever did a real advent calendar in my house when I was young. If we did anything at all like that, it was just a countdown to Christmas thing, and had nothing to do with the reason for the season. Of course, your reason for the season may vary. For most kids, it's about the presents. So getting up each morning and running with excitement to the advent calendar on the wall and prying open the tiny little cardboard peephole just to reveal a bible verse or an admonishing to be good or you'll make the baby Jesus cry would be a bit disappointing. At least to a kid who is practically wetting his pants waiting for Santa to bring him toys. I was thinking of making a personalized countdown calendar, in the tradition of the advent, for my husband. I'd take a photo of myself each day, wearing one less piece of clothing each time. Finally, on Christmas morning he would open up the last box to reveal instructions to come find me in the bedroom. When he got there, I'd be standing in the room, holding a bunch of tools and a list of home repairs that I'd been patiently waiting for him to complete. I'm sure you all get the point. And I'm sure he would get it, too, after he grabbed the hammer out of my hand and beat me over the head with it. I also toyed with the idea of making a calendar for my kids. Each day would reveal a message like this one: You still haven't taken that moldy glass of orange juice out of your room yet. Say good-bye to another present. Instead, I concentrated my efforts on making personal Christmas Countdown calendar, in the tradition of the advent. Below, my very own The 24 Days of Xanax Countdown Calendar. 24. Today is the day! Make that list of loved ones you need to buy presents for. 23. How many of those people do you really like enough to spend money on? Whittle that list! 22. Big day! your mom will call and guilt you into spending the holiday with her instead of your husband’s family. She has volunteered you to host the holiday. 21. Drag out last year’s decorations from the attic. Examine the teeth marks in baby Jesus and call an exterminator. 20. Cross Aunt Betty off your shopping list. Who knew exterminators were so expensive? 19. Get wish list from kids. Explain to them that Santa’s elves don’t make digital cameras or iPods. 18. Accept the fact that your kids stopped believing in Santa years ago and they know you are to blame for all the crappy presents. 17. Give kids a three hour lecture about economics. Tell them to choose between food and shelter or an iPod. 16. Receive heartfelt, manipulative note from kids about how much they love you and cherish you, complete with photo of the smiling like cherubic little angels. The letter is served with a mug of hot tea and some Godiva chocolate. They sing Christmas carols for you as you sip your tea. 15. Go to Best Buy and purchase two iPods. Stock up on mac and cheese. 14. Cross two more aunts and a friend off your list. Man, those iPods cost a lot of money. 13. Go to the mall. Get in a fight with a rude salesperson. Kick a small child who has wiped their snotty nose on your pant leg. Walk around for three hours in the cold because you can't remember where you parked your car. 12. Take the family out to buy a tree. Listen to your kids fight over who gets the final say. Listen to the other families fighting and wonder if that's what yours really sounds like. Lock kids in car and pick out the damn tree yourself. 11. Discover that the box of Christmas ornaments was stored under a box of books. Run to the dollar store and purchase cheesy, faded ornaments. While you are there, pick up some lights that were made in some third world country that doesn't believe in electric codes. Plug in lights. Blow ten fuses. 10. Consider selling a kidney so you can finish off the rest of your Christmas shopping. Your husband suggests that standing on a corner in a green bikini and red fishnet stockings while holding out a cup might work better. Give husband a nice black eye. 9. Make attempt at baking for the holidays. After six hours of intensive labor that has left your kitchen in shambles, drive to Krispy Kreme and purchase two dozen of their festive donuts. Eat them all yourself. 8. Explain to children that they will not get anything for Christmas if they continue to behave like wild animals. Watch as they roll their eyes at you because you have never, in all their lives, followed through on that threat. 7. Return iPods. Buy two used Walkmen at a garage sale for 50 cents each. Include cassette that plays I'm Getting Nothin' For Christmas. 6. Panic. Even though your kids are rotten to the core and even though you have sworn not to buy presents for the seven generations of cousins, aunts and uncles this year, you find yourself at the mall again, frantically trying to finish off your list. 5. The first credit card bills come in. The Christmas tree caught fire. Your mother informs you that seven more people will be joining you for Christmas dinner. Your son has invited all of his musician friends over for a rock and roll Christmas jam. Renew Xanax prescription. 4. Do a reverse Christmas shopping. Go to Target and start buying whatever is on sale. You'll figure out later who to give the items to. You're sure Uncle Fred will adore the all animal cast, stop motion animation version of It's A Wonderful Life, even though he's deaf and blind and consumed with hatred. 3. Stand on the street corner wearing nothing but a green bikini and red fish net stockings. Your husband uses his Christmas bonus to bail you out of jail. You swear to fight the sexual solicitation charges. 2. Make a last dash to the mall. Return all the presents you bought for your twenty seven distant relatives that you only see once a year. Go to Best Buy and purchase two iPods because it will be a cold day in hell before you let your kids be disappointed on Christmas, paving the way for them to blame you for every single failure for the rest of their therapy-filled lives. Your daughter will write a book from jail titled "The Christmas That Ruined My Life" and your son will hit the Billboard charts with an angst-filled punk rock song which contains the refrain "all I wanted was an iPod, just one iPod and she wouldn't give it me!" 1. Christmas morning. Your kids find you curled up in a ball under the Christmas tree, humming South Park Christmas songs and stinking like cheap rum. You're still wearing the bikini. "Merrrrrry fucking Chrishtmash, everyone!" Disclaimer: Don't take all of this literally. While I may have kicked a small child and set my tree on fire in the past, my kids aren't getting iPods, I don't hate my family and you would never catch me in red fish net stockings. How gauche.

December 04, 2004

dead lights, dead pool

Spent the day decorating the bay window all nice for Christmas with lights and (tasteful) moving, lit up objects and such only to find out that the outlet underneath the window is fubared. Blew a fuse when I turned the lights on. Have I mentioned that U believe the previous owner booby trapped the house? Anyhow, Laurence has opened the 2005 Dead Pool. I've decided to play again this year, even though in 2003, none of my chosen people died. I guess that's a good thing. So I'm taking suggestions for the 2005 pool. Help me out here. I don't want to go 0-for the year again.

The ASV Arbitraries, Part II

See here for explanation and the first batch of awards. * Movie that met and exceeded all of my expectations: Shaun of the Dead * Movie I watched just because I have this obsession with Lindsay Lohan's boobs, which sucked so much I swear I heard the sound of my brains being sucked down a vortex of suckiness: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen * Movie I watched which exceeded my non-expectations and which also restored my faith in Lindsay Lohan's boobs: Mean Girls * Best remake of a cherished movie that I really liked despite it breaking the unwritten rules regarding zombie movement: Dawn of the Dead * Movie that I had no expectations of when I went to see but fell in love with and have quoted extensively since seeing it: Napoleon Dynamite * Favorite gaming moment of 2004: killing Ewoks That's it for now. I'm trying to get that song list finished before I go crazy with the annotations.

Fiction for Charity IV

This one is for Patrick Hogan. Thank you, Patrick, for your generous donation to the Friends of Iraq blogger challenge. For info on the fiction for charity thing, see here. Patrick's story: Tainted.

December 03, 2004

of wrong numbers and steve perry. geddy lee and stuff

I deserve an award. Specifically, this one: Most egrarious error in a sequentially numbered list: Me, for mis-numbering a bunch of songs on my 500 songs list. Which means I have 110 songs left to go, not 100. Actually, 107 as I just added a few. I'm going to be working on this tonight as it's the only way to combat my other great error of the day, which was telling both my children that they could have friends over tonight. Holy noise levels, batman. And why do these kids always arrive at 5pm and ready to devour any food in sight? Don't their parents feed them? Anyhow, I'm fooling around with the title tags on the 500 list - I think that's how I'll do the annotations. The problem is, the tags don't show up in their entirety on Firefox, so I'll have to figure out a workaround for that. You'll have to suffer with another browser for now if you want to read them. And, in a move nobody could have predicted, Journey makes an appearance on my favorite songs list. Along with some hippie music. Also, I've been thinking about adding Rush's Spirit of Radio, but I keep getting stuck on the canned applause towards the end of the song (after the concert hall line). It's just so cheesy. But is it cheesy enough to eliminate the song from contention?

The 2004 ASV RABSOWMTNOEBTPOSA Awards

I shall now regale you with post one of several posts which will detail in vague terms my favorite things of the past year. In a random sort of way. Presenting, the 2004 ASV Awards for Random, Abritrary and Subjective Opinions Which Matter To No One Else But the Presenter of Said Award * Book that I took out of the library but liked so much I purchased it and read it again: Blankets. * Book I took out of the library because everyone and their sister raved about it so much I took it to be the reading equivalent of an orgasm but five pages in, I decided I didn't even care enough to fake the moans: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. * Book I thought was going to be fantastic based on the writer's previous works but which ended up "tasting like ass": Summerland.' * Album that came out in 2003 but which I listened to obsessively in 2004: Brand New - Deja Entendu * Song which I found myself inexplicably singing and enjoying: Encore/Curtains Down - Eminem feat. 50 Cent, Dr. Dre * Best album by one of my favorite artists ever whose last album disappointed me but man, did he come through on this one: Abattoir Blues/Lyre Of Orpheus - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds * Worst musical idea that used to be a trendy sort of thing in a quiet way but now is ubiquitous in a horrid, ear burning way: Mash-ups * Band that did nothing to make me think they got any better over the years: Godsmack * Band that put out an album in which they cringingly sound like middle aged men trying to keep relevant while rapping in a "let's buy a corvette and have an affair with a 20 year old blonde" sort of way and personally, I don't think they succeeded but I'll let it go because I have a long history with them: Beastie Boys * Worst band name ever that became fairly well known in 2004: Hooboostank * Song which at first blush I hated in a way one would hate any band that was obviously struggling to pull off a Geddy Lee affectation, but which grew on me so much that I finally appreciated the song for what it was, despite the Geddy Lee thing; Coheed & Cambria - A Favor House Atlantic Ok, That's all I have time for right now as we have our annual holiday luncheon today and I'm gearing up for some free food and drinks, which takes a certain amount of concentrated energy to gear up for. I have about fifteen of these posts in me, I think. Fair warning and all. If you have suggestions for categories, be they straight forward or assinine like some of these, let me know. Update: Ok, I think I'll shorten this to the ASV Abritraries. Has a nice ring to it. Update: Weird. Before I left for lunch, there was a graphic on this post. When I got back, it was gone, the code wiped from the post. I put it back. Now let's see if it stays put.

clarification and whatnot

Kevin has since removed the passage I excerpted here and as the post is no longer relevant, it has gone the way of the recycle bin, so to speak.

Hold the line: the worst non-christmas christmas song ever

My least favorite Christmas song is not a holiday tune at all, but rather a lame pop song from the late 70's that reminds me of what was my Worst. Christmas. Ever.

The year was 1978. It was tumultuous year; the death of Keith Moon (not to mention the Pope), the Jonestown Massacre, the debut of Garlfield, Saturday Night Fever. For a 16 year old, I had an acute awareness of the world outside of my own little high school/town. I knew everything that was going on in the world in regards to culture, politics and news. Too bad I had no inkling what was going on right in front of me, in my own home. I would have put a stop to their evil plans sooner.

I do believe the plan was sprung on me at the last possible minute so as to avoid a protracted, dramatic reaction from me.

"We're going to Florida for Christmas!" Dad says this in a tone of voice that is trying to be both firm and jolly. As in: We are going to Florida and I know you think you'll hate every minute of it but the decision is final and you better make the best of it for the sake of your sisters and your mother or I will kill you. Kill you dead.
"But...but....," I manage to stammer.
"No buts."

I flee to my room, throw myself on the bed and cry in the way that only a 16 year old who thinks the world is supposed to revolve around her can cry. How dare they not consult me? I have a life, too. I have Christmas parties to go to. I have friends to exchange presents with. I have a boyfriend!

I tried explaining all this to my mother, who just answered me with lines that had obviously been practiced. Your cousins really miss the family. It would be nice to spend a holiday with them. Just think, it will be warm on Christmas! We can go to the beach!

The beach? This is supposed to make me feel better? I'm sure people in warm climates don't think twice about going to the beach on Christmas, but I am a New Yorker, damn it, and we don't do sand, surf and sun on a winter holiday! No snow. No wind howling down the chimney. No bulky sweaters. No itchy wool hat pulled down over my eyes as I run through the mall parking lot with my friends, trying to find the right bus home. It just wasn't right.

Of course, there was the whole boyfriend thing to deal with. Bobby was what I called a Cling-on. He followed me around like a wounded puppy that needed constant petting. I attributed this to his youth. He was, after all, just a 14 year old freshman (obviously, my thing for younger guys started early). I had tried several times to break up with him, but I always backed off when he hinted that it would destroy his very existence if I were to leave him. I hadn't yet developed my crusty, hardened shell necessary to not care if he slit his wrists. Which was all just puppy boy talk, anyhow. So I figured this would be a breaking point for him. If I were to take off to Florida for the Christmas break, he would get all mad and petulant and maybe he would be angry enough to break up with me! Finally, a silver lining in the Christmas in Florida dilemma.

I'm sure my parents were confused about my sudden turnaround. I was all sunshine and smiles as I packed my suitcase for the trip. I had found a way to make this trip work for me, self centered teenager that I was.

So, after waiting for my little sister to tearfully compose her postcard to Santa informing him that she would be elsewhere for Christmas (she was terrified that Santa wouldn't forward her presents to Florida), we took off for the great green south.

The first thing I noticed about Pompano Beach, Florida (I had been there previously, but I was too young at the time to take it all in) was that everyone within a five mile radius was either a crackhead or a senior citizen. There was no in between. Even my cousins - former New Yorkers - had taken on that slight glow of Florida craziness. Their neighbors to the right had no teeth. Their neighbors to the left had no furniture. The people around the corner sat on their rickety front porch all day and night, drinking beer and throwing rocks at passing cars. Everyone spoke in a slow, monosyballic drawl. No one knew anything about the world outside of their own block and, even worse, they didn't know who the Ramones were.

Making matters worse were the palm trees decorated for Christmas. It was a holiday twilight zone. Colored lights strung from coconuts. Flowers blooming amidst the cardboard cut out reindeer. Pictures taken with a surfer Santa on the boardwalk. It was wrong.

I was pining for New York, pining for my friends and, worst of all, pining for Bobby who, while annoying and clingy, at least had all his own teeth and listened to good music.

Music. Oh, there was music playing all the time. My cousins had the radio blasting at all hours. No Christmas music, for which I should have been grateful, but some top 40 radio station where the disc jockeys had fallen in love with Toto's Hold the Line.

If you've never heard that song, be thankful. It's pop dreck at its worst. The band consisted of several studio musicians who had played with some of the most popular bands of the 70's (Steely Dan and Cheap Trick to name but two). I think they were using Toto as a pretentious nod to the masses, as if to say "you guys don't appreciate musical perfection, so maybe if we wrap it up in some dumbed-down lyrics and candy chords, you'll buy it." Or maybe they just thought that putting all that talent together in one place meant they would be assured of chart victory. Think of them as the New York Yankees of 70's radio.

It's not in the way that you hold me It's not in the way you say you care
It's not in the way you've been treating my friends
It's not in the way that you'll stay till the end
It's not in the way you look or the things that you say that you do Hold the line
Love isn't always on time

Repeat that to varying degrees for a few minutes and you have Toto's first hit. It really wouldn't have been so bad if it wasn't playing on the radio - I swear to you- every half hour. And it certainly wouldn't have stuck in my craw the way it did if it wasn't the background music for my Christmas in Cracktown.

Everyone was singing it. The old, the young, the toothless, the drunk, the surfing Santa. It was almost robotic, in a sense, like these people had been subliminally poisoned into believing that singing Hold the Line was going to make their clothes brighter, their cars faster and their beer stronger. I seemed to be the only one impervious to the horror.

Christmas Day arrived. 80 degrees and sunny was the forecast. I laid in bed that morning dreaming of a White Christmas and not at all anticipating going into the sun room to open presents with the lovely bunch of coconuts on the palm tree peeking in the windows and the warm ocean breeze wafting in.

I took the grin and bear it route for my little sister, who was overjoyed to see that Santa had indeed gotten her postcard and delivered the presents to Florida. Whee. Yay. Merry Christmas, everyone. And the gods of eternal summer bless us all.

Bobby called my aunt's house Christmas afternoon. He missed me. He wanted me to come home. Christmas was depressing without him. And I was just about to give in and start crying and sniffling that I missed him, too, and I wanted to be home with him right then and he blew it. Completely and utterly blew it.

He told me to hold on, that he had a present for me. I waited. What kind of present could he give me over the phone (this was in the days before anyone heard of phone sex and really, phone heavy petting just doesn't have the same ring to it anyhow)? In a few minutes he came back on the line. He was strumming his guitar. Said he had a song to sing for me. Oh, you know what's coming, don't you?

It's not in the way that you hold me. It's not in the way you say you care....wooOoooo.

Something burst inside me. I could not take it anymore. I thanked Bobby for the song and told him we had to talk when I got back to New York. I hung up and made the decision right there and then to break up with him when I got back, death threats to himself be damned. That song was a sign that things were just not going to work between us (and in an historical footnote, this wouldn't be the last time that I would make a break up decision while in Florida).

I spent the rest of Christmas break walking around the streets of Pompano Beach making observances of the strange breed of people that lived there for future novel-writing reference. I was relieved to finally get home to the cold, yellowish gray New York snow. I think I kissed the ground at the airport.

I broke up with Bobby the night I got home. I said nothing of Hold the Line. I just told him honestly, in a 16 year old's version of honest which is, I guess, brutal, that he was too clingy and whiny and he was smothering me. He responded by singing Hold the Line into the phone until I hung up. Oh, and he did try to kill himself, sort of. Rumor had it that he spent five hours under the sunlamp in his bathroom thinking he could burn himself to death. Which would explain why he came back to school looking like he took a bath with a cooking lobster.

I've carefully avoided the Toto song until now. And I have no one but myself to blame that it's careening through my brain at the moment, bringing back all kinds of memories of surfing Santas, lit up palm trees and crackhead Floridians.

*I'm not sure crack was even invented in the 70's, but you can substitute your drug of choice. Crack just reads better than mescaline or speed or Boones Farm wine.

December 02, 2004

Fiction for Charity, Part III

This one is for Dave H., who chose one of my husband's photographs for me to work with. I was immediately inspired by the photo to dust off something I started writing ages ago, which was a hybrid of a real life dream and a short novel that was started and stopped several times. For info on the fiction for charity thing, see here. Thank you, Dave, for your donation. I've still got four stories to go. Thus far. Oh, the story. It's here: Refund.

songs I’m currently enjoying to the greatest fulfillment one can achieve through mainstream rock music

Taking Back Sunday - This Photograph is Proof Green Day - Jesus of Surburbia The Killers - Mr. Brightside My Chemical Romance - I'm Not Ok Interpol - Slow Hands Franz Ferdinand - This Fire Snow Patrol - Run

quickies

We're supposed to be having an evactuation drill at some point today. I guess they got tired of us not responding when the alarm goes off or there's yet another bomb/anthrax threat. So just some quick things before they send us outside into the cold for who knows how long. Two new (to me) blogs that I've become enamored of: I read the comics so you don't have to. I've written many times about my disdain for the recent years of newspaper comics. This blog takes that disdain to a new level. Funny, well written and right on target. The Grand Staircase. Beautiful, descriptive writing from a guy who travels a lot. There's a slight mystery involved in this blog and figuring it out has left me intrigued enough about something to head to the library after work. And just because I haven't linked it in a long while, go read Acid Keg. As for Jason Giambi, I'm not shocked, not even slightly surprised. Sad? Yes. Disappointed? Very. Of course I knew this was coming, it's just disheartening to actually see it all admitted. The Giambi jersey is retired from the wardrobe as of today. And my growing animosity towards professional sports deepens. It is my goal today to, in between evactuation drills and real work, complete the 100 last songs on the list as well as finish off three already started short stories for the charity thing. In fact, I will not blog again until at least the song list and one story is done. Now, go read those good blogs I linked.

the warm fuzzies of mac and cheese

Charlie on the Turnpike is perplexed as to my mention of comfort food in the post below.
There it is again! Comfort food. Am I the only person in the world to whom this reference is completely meaningless? What is this strange phenomenon around certain foods? Why is 'baked ziti' considered ordinary (therefore not comforting) yet the seemingly cherished 'mac & cheese' the stereotypical comfort food of all comfort foods?? Aren't they in the same genre of foodstuff?
As I tried to explain to him in his comments:
Comfort foods are foods that give you comfort not in a taste sense, but in that they remind you of good things, like sweet childhood memories.....My favorite comfort food is pasta and meatballs because it always reminds of me of Sundays at Grandma's house. It's like eating your memories. Or something like that.
Would you, dear readers, please help me explain Charlie what a comfort food is and why we eat them? Oh, mashed potatoes. Talk about comfort. I could fall asleep in a pile of garlic mashed.

Powerless

The whole time I was standing in the supermarket trying not to crawl under my shopping cart or die of embarrassment, I kept thinking that soon enough the day would end. I would go home and go straight to bed just so it could not be Wednesday, December 1, 2003 2004 anymore. And the whole time that the machine kept spitting out my debit card and even when I ran over to the ATM and produced a slip that said I had way more than enough money in my account to cover the grocery bill and even when I realized my bank had fucked up in some serious, shame-inducing way, I kept my hopes high by reminding myself that the day had to end at some point, it just couldn't go on forever. And even my daughter refused to understand the situation was just a technical glitch and no, we weren't poor, we weren't going to starve to death because mommy has no food money and would you please stop making a scene, I know you're doing it on purpose, even when I called home to see if we had cash laying around but no one answered the phone and I had to leave my cart of groceries at the counter while I drove to my mother's house (braving the five million mph winds that were threatening to knock down every street light and telephone pole) and dragged her back to the store with me so she could use her AmEx to pay from my freaking food, most food items being of the "I'm sick and I need comfort food" variety like frozen pizza and a chocolate coffee eggnog cake and some Ring Dings and thank jeebus I had some fruit in the cart so my mother didn't give me a lecture on how my kids were going to suffer from malnutrition, through all that I kept repeating the mantra, it's almost over. It's almost over. Groceries packed in car, mom dropped off, on our way home, where I would leave the putting away of the food and the making of dinner to the husband because the previous hour, topped with still feeling flu-ish and just having a miserable day in general, made me want to crawl into bed at 6pm. So imagine my surprise and horror when I turned the corner onto my block and realized that the entire west side of my street (the side on which I reside, of course), was bathed in complete darkness. No street lights, no Christmas lights, not a single speck of brightness emanating from any of the houses. When I got out of the car, I noticed a peculiar yet familiar smell. Ah, I love the smell of a burning transformer in the evening. Smells like.....HELL! This is what I get after I spent the last hour and most of the day combating all kinds of evil karma and twisty, knife-wielding fate? This is the thanks I get? It is times like this that I curse my atheism because it leaves me with no god to damn, no one to cry to about being forsaken. So I gave the finger to Mother Nature and brought the mostly frozen groceries into a mostly dark house (the husband had placed a few candles throughout) and shoved all of the cold food into a mostly getting warm freezer while I fought back bitter tears of self pity. It's only 5:30 at this point. Of course, this being December, it's pitch black at 5:30. I make the suggestion that we all just go to bed. I think everyone looks at me like I'm crazy but I can't be sure because it's, well, dark. So we try to pretend it's just a normal day. DJ watches Shrek 2 on the laptop. Natalie tries to do homework by candlelight. Justin is trying his best to calm me down, as I am still fuming over the whole shame in the supermarket thing. He offers me the bottle of Jack Daniels. I decline. My rage, frustration and general flu-like symptoms will keep me feeling as though I'm on a three day crack binge, thanks anyhow. The contentment of the rest of my family (including my sister and brother in law upstairs) lasts about fifteen minutes. Natalie can't concentrate on her homework because the flickering of the candles is distracting her and she keeps finding herself staring into the flames, getting sleepy....sleeeeeeeepy...so very sleepy. I snap my fingers and tell her to act like a chicken. She rolls her eyes. Do chickens roll their eyes? Maybe teenage girl chickens do. The Shrek entertainment is over because the laptop battery is at a critical low point. Much like me. The house is cold. I'm hungry. We have no heat and no way to cook dinner because both our stove and our heat is run by electricity. Now, I know you Florida people are thinking I can't believe she's complaining about being without power for a little bit, does she remember hurricane season? I was HUNGRY. And COLD. And I tell you, if it wasn't for the little incident in the supermarket and the feeling like crap thing, I really would have handled this a lot better. Maybe I would have suggested a backyard campfire with roasted marshmallows for dinner and a few ghost stories. But as it were, I found myself instead drinking a Jack and warm Coke and staring out of the living room window. Everyone across the street had lights. Bright, blazing lights in their kitchen and living room windows. Merry Christmas lights. Porch lights. Giant Santas glowing on the front lawn. They were mocking us. I just knew it. They had all gotten together and came up with a brilliant plan to make fun of our plight and so they all turned on every single piece of lighting equipment in and outside of their homes. They were in their houses, laughing at us, eating warm food and turning up their heat and taking hot showers. It was the their side of the street against ours. East side v. West side. And I was gonna pop a cap in their asses. So I devised a plan in which we would go into their homes, knock them all unconscious with blunt instruments and string extension cords from their homes to ours. We'd make them pay for mocking us with their electricity. And so, standing there behind my curtain, I envisioned the lot of us from the East Siiiiiide (gotta say it like Cartman) running out into the street, decorated with war paint and brandishing torches, declaring war on our West Siiiiide neighbors. No Blood for Power! Sigh. A futile fantasy, I know. My next best option was to stage a naked protest to the electric company in the middle of the street. We would stand there, stripped down and chanting slogans, until the LIPA trucks came and restored our side of the street to its rightful, lit up glory. I harbored these fantasies - and even went so far as to fashion a makeshift torch - until 10pm, when the power finally came back on. Ah. Heat, warm food and hot water do so much to take one back from the frayed ends of sanity. I went to bed at 10:10 and as I drifted off I wondered if maybe the previous night's dream about the supermarket wasn't an omen. Perhaps I should learn something from this whole episode. Let's see.....Ah, I got it. 1) Always keep the laptop battery charged because you never know when you'll need to have six people gather around a tiny screen to watch a movie you've all seen ten times. 2) Don't try to buy $144 worth of comfort food at once because bad food karma will get you. See, it was all fate's way of keeping from eating five frozen pizzas for dinner. Yes, five hours without electricity. I am a wimp, I know.

December 01, 2004

dreams, foodstuffs and talking to myself

I had another in a long line of post apocalyptic dreams last night. This time, I kind of brought about the apocalypse myself. I was furious at the world and was walking around like a monster run amok, smashing down sign posts and tearing tree limbs from the ground with my bare hands. I didn’t talk or even scream; I just growled and roared and people scurried out of my way like I was Godzilla unleashed.

I came to rest at a supermarket (the local Stop ‘n’ Shop), where I laid down in aisle 6 (cereal, fruit bars and votive candles imprinted with images of Jesus and Mary. The candles, not the cereal or fruit bars). Anyhow, I fell asleep somewhere between the Apple Jacks and Honey Bunches of Oats and when I woke up my neck was stiff and everyone was gone. Everyone.

There was no sign of struggle, no dead bodies, no overturned shopping carts. Just silence and emptiness. I walked outside the store and the parking lot was devoid of humanity. Lots of cars, some of them idling. Filled carts, carts half emptied, a pair of boys’ sneakers next to an SUV as if a child had been lifted right out of his Vans.

I checked out a few nearby stores - a GameStop, a pizza place and a CVS just to make sure this wasn’t something that happened only at Stop N Shop. But the silence was everywhere. I walked around town for a bit, opening doors to homes and yelling inside for people. I ate a ham sandwich at one house and drank chocolate milk out of the container at another. And wiped my mouth on my sleeve.

In the dream, I kept thinking about Burgess Meredith in the Time Enough at Last episode of Twilight Zone. I waited for something to come and ruin my one chance to be truly alone. I thought that the only thing that could destroy my serenity was being hungry, so I went back to the supermarket and started loading up carts with non perishable food. Then I found the As Seen on TV Aisle and used the vacuum sealer and the food compressor to store as much fresh food as I could. I hooked all the carts together (at one point, I held up a box of Parmalat milk and said ‘what a great invention,’ the only words I said in the whole dream) with string and led a parade of canned goods and boxes food towards my house.

You would really like it if right about now I told you that all the can openers of the world just up and disappeared, just like the human beings and now I was left with barely anything to eat. Wouldn’t you?

Well, the dream ended abruptly, right there with me walking the chain of food down the street and I woke up wanting a ham sandwich and chocolate milk.

See, I know there’s a lot going on in this dream beyond the hoarding of food. It’s a whole “I need my space” theme which gets revisited again and again in my dreams.

Anyhow, I think I might turn this one into a story.

Speaking of stories, thanks to the few of you who have already donated to Friends of Iraq through ASV.

If there's anything I'm learning from this endeavor it's that things can change an awful lot in a few months.

when is a word not a word? when it's a blog

Publisher: 'Blog' No. 1 word of the year The word of the year isn't even a real word. I'm thinking that if "blog" was the most looked up word of 2004 that means there are an awful lot of people who had no damn clue what a blog is, rather than it proving the widespread popularity of blogs and thus giving extra heaps of hope to those who think bloggers should be named Time's Person of the Year. Just because someone wants to know what a word means doesn't mean that the thing the word represents is univerally loved or embraced. Just ask number six on the list, the cicada. Blog is an ugly word, anyhow, and no amount of accolades will keep you from sounding like you are vomiting when you say it.

Under Cover

[Thanks to my sister Lisa for the Christmas logo] Got a good link emailed to me today to XFM online, which announced the 50 best cover versions of songs (as voted by the Daily Telegraph, a link to which story cannot be found). Here's the 50. (And I realize this story is about a week old already) There's some crap on there, some stuff I never heard of and a few things (notably Siouxsie & the Banshees cover of Dear Prudence) I like, but it is, as you probably guessed, a far cry from what my list would be. I am a connoisseur of cover songs. I collect them, dissect them, savor them. My favorite covers are the ones where the artist made the song their own rather than just giving the song the same exact treatment the original artist did. What's the point, otherwise? That does not necessarily mean the newer artists had to completely change the song, but that they gave it their own flavor, put their trademark on the tune. Off the top of my head, without thinking too much about it, my favorite cover songs. * Faith No More - This Guy's in Love With You (Burt Bacharach) * Faith No More - Easy (Commodores) * Quicksand -How Soon is Now (The Smiths) * Richard Cheese and Lounge Against the Machine - Down With the Sickness - (Disturbed) * Patti Smith - Because the Night (Bruce Springsteen) * Johnny Cash - Hurt - (Nine Inch Nails) * Filter - One- (Three Dog Night) * Goldfinger - Rio (Duran Duran) * Deftones - Chauffeur (Duran Duran) * Lovage - Sex (I'm a...) - Berlin * Rammstein - Stripped (Depeche Mode) * Talking Heads - Take Me To The River (Al Green) * Type O Negative - NIB (Black Sabbath) * Smashing Pumpkins - Landslide (Fleetwood Mac) * Primus - Have a Cigar (Pink Floyd) * Nirvana - Man Who Sold the World (Bowie) * Wall of Voodoo - Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash) * No Use For A Name - Redemption Song (Bob Marley) * Refused - Bullet (Misfits) * Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - I Believe I Can Fly (R. Kelly) * Fine Young Cannibals - Ever Fallen in Love (Buzzcocks) * Cake - I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor) * Helloween - From Out of Nowhere (Faith No More) And, an mp3 someone once sent me of The Bloodhound Gang doing a live version of Weezer’s Undone, mixed with Wu Tang Clan's Wu Tang Ain't Nothin' to Fuck With. Ok, that's it for right now, though I'll be adding to it. I've got real work to do, fiction to write, and 100 songs to go on my list of 500. I'd tell you to add your two cents, but you will anyhow. So just do it.

Charity Blogging: I'm a Loner, Dotty - A Rebel

Today is the start of the big push for the Friends of Iraq Blogger Challenge (made possible through Spirit of America) (click the image for my original post on this) Like the last SoA challenge, some bloggers have gotten together to form teams and some, like me, are going solo. There's a few reasons for going it alone this time. Mostly, I don't have - at the moment - the time and energy that is necessary to put into a team effort. I would start to feell like I was dragging a team down with my puny attempts at fundraising. Besides, no one asked me to join their team this year - for the past few weeks I've been sort of relegated to the Island of Misfit Toys. Which is fine with me. Because I'm a loner......yea, you got that already. Also, I thought I concentrated too much on the competition aspect last time out. This time, I'd like to raise money in a competition free environment. I'm obviously not going to "win" the challenge by raising the most money, but I will do what I can to raise a nice amount (there's already $377 in the pot under the name of ASV). As I've already mentioned here, I will be offering in return for your donation to Friends of Iraq under the ASV name, a piece of short fiction. I've already written two stories for people who donated, you can find them here (they are noted with an asterisk). Read this post for instruction/details on the story writing bit. It's all I have to offer you this time, except my thanks. I'm calling it Fiction for Charity. Clever, I know. So if you've got a few extra bucks laying around and a charitable heart and you like me better than anyone else on this list, or you pity me, or I have blackmail material on you, then you know what to do. The A Small Victory donation page is here. I'll be doing daily reminders from now until December 15, when the drive ends. Good luck to all the teams and individual bloggers taking part in the Friends of Iraq challenge.

psa on blowjobs

That got your attention, eh? To everyone who is linking the Target website items like marijuana, blowjob, prostitute, anal massage, etc.; no, Target has not been hacked and no, they are not selling sex and drugs (though that would be a great niche market. Red light special in the back of aisle six!) If you click on the "additional info" link on each of those products, you will notice there is an ASIN number. Take that ASIN number, put it into the search bar on Amazon (which runs Target's online sales) and you will see that not only are these items real, but they are all books or CDs, whose titles are truncated on the Target search. So, while the item names may elicit giggles and jokes (yes, it did for me when I saw the anal massage on Fark about two weeks ago), they are not the product of a middle school hacker with too much time on his hands. I could still make a thousand one liners about giving a blowjob for Christmas, though. In fact... Nah. Too easy. Update: Santa has some, err...tips.