Thursday, December 27, 2007

What's in a Name?

Hmmm… Any relation?

If you’ve been anywhere but under a rock for the past few months, you most likely are familiar with the sad case of the 24-year-old missing mom, Stacey Peterson. As I live in the area, you’ll have to take my word for it when I say coverage has been INTENSE. As in, “Stacey’s last grocery list found!!” and “Drew’s third wife’s second cousin once-removed speaks!!”

So the fact that I was spending yet another night in front of the info-tainment that passes as my local news watching some new “clue” exposed was no surprise.

The anchor was discussing rumors that neighbors might have seen Drew taking a large blue barrel or tub – that could have weighed 115 pounds!- from the house. Right then, the image on the screen changes to that of men in white haz-mat suits pushing a BLUE BARREL on wheels while the voice-over is President Bush declaring
Iran is still a threat whether they have nuclear materials or not!

It suddenly hit me. We have to go to war with Iran to save Stacy Peterson!!! It’s that simple, folks. What are you, against motherhood?

Coincendence? I Think Not!

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan -

Enraged crowds rioted across Pakistan and hopes for democracy hung by a thread after Benazir Bhutto was gunned down Thursday as she waved to supporters from the sunroof of her armored vehicle. The death of President Pervez Musharraf's most powerful opponent threw the nation into chaos just 12 days before elections, and threatened its already unsteady role as a key fighter against Islamic terror.

Wow, what are the chances al-Qaida would be linked to a spectacular act of terrorism days before the Iowa caucauses?

Tiger: 0 Stupid Humans:3

June 27, 2003-December 25, 2007

Oh, where to start with this fiasco? Poor Tatiana the beautiful Siberian Tiger was senselessly slain Christmas night. The unarmed feline was gunned down by four uniformed police officers who emptied their guns into her tawny fur. Her crime? Being a tiger.

First, the zoo was fined $18K over an incident whereby Tatiana ripped a female zookeeper’s arm open during ‘public feeding time’.

“The California Division of Occupation Safety and Health said the zoo was responsible for the incident because Komejan was inadequately trained for the task and the cages were set up in a manner that facilitated the attack.”

So… they closed down the exhibit for three months. (And hopefully made a note that Tatiana didn’t ‘play well with others’.) Now this tragedy occurs.

Currently it is under investigation as to how Tatiana escaped. Preliminary findings indicate it was not keeper error; the doors were closed and locked.

That leaves the cat leaping a 20 ft. moat / scaling an18 ft. wall… or the cat being assisted out of the cage – either by humans or poor cage design.

Wait! This just in! The 13 ft. wall was three feet below the minimum height recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums!! This contradicts the San Francisco Chronicle’s report of 18 ft high!!

“Since the investigation began Tuesday, officials have given at least five different measurements for the enclosure”, I thought they had re-vamped the enclosure; this report claims it dates to the 1940s! (Tigers didn’t do steroids then)

Whatever the cause, Tatiana killed one young man and pursued his two friends some 300 yards to maul them as well. Now zoo animals are very well fed; and the tiger wasn’t munching on the first guy, or hiding the body away for later, but continued to attack, so let’s conclude this wasn’t hunger.

That leaves anger.

Seems to me the fact that the tiger ONLY attacked three that were visiting the zoo together could be a) opportunity: they were the only spectators near the enclosure b) selection.

I pick b.

Do not taunt the tiger, idiots! Did you not hear what happened to Roy Horn? Police are now investigating a footprint at the scene.

The exact sequence of events may never be known, and “sources close to the investigation tell The Chronicle that the surviving brothers have not been entirely forthcoming during interviews with police”.

Marian Roth-Cramer recalled the day she and her son, who was 4 or 5, visited the tiger exhibit in 1997.

"My son had his hands on the metal bar,"
said the San Francisco woman, a children's dance and family programs coordinator at a branch of the YMCA. "All of a sudden, I saw the tiger leap over the moat, put a paw on the dirt (and hang on). I screamed and grabbed my son."

The animal slid away. She turned to a zookeeper and asked if he'd seen what she had.

His reply: "She always does that. She hates my guts."

She wrote a letter to David Anderson, the zoo director at the time, about the incident and canceled her membership. She said she never got a reply.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peace On Earth, Goodwill to Lizard Kind

How many times do I have to tell you, Don't Get My Hopes Up!!

Two Lizards Tinkering

O! You better watch out!
You better not cry
Better not pout
I'm telling you why…
Tainted Toys are coming
to your town!
They’ll poison you while you’re sleeping,
The Saftey Seal’s a fake…
They’ll toxify you to your toes
Cause dangerous is all they make!
The CEOs making a list,
And checking it twice;
Gonna find out whose
labor rates are nice.
Tainted Toys are coming
to your town!
The sweat shop’s working when
you are sleeping
And even times when
you're awake…
The orphan knows that
bad or good
He’s working a 16 hour shift,
for goodness sake!
You might want to pass
On gift-giving this year,
Haven’t got a chance with
the lax FDA here…
Tainted Toys are coming …
Tainted Toys are coming
to town!

This year’s card is brought to you by:
Ma-Tell You Months After We Knew There Was a Problem
and Cheaper-Price Toys.

Copyright 2007
Dressed Dragons Productions

Wish I'd Said That Half as Well

Gosh, here's some surprising news: Stephen King wrote an insightful review about the Clapton autobiography that expresses everything I wanted to say only about 50 million times better. (But really now, can the man dress up dragons?) Read the review here.

Excerpt:"...and the result is an honorable badge of a book. He may not have the skill of a Mary Karr or Frank McCourt, but I’m sure he writes better than most memoirists play guitar."

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Can't Lay Off Just One!

Jays To Close South Side Potato Chip Plant

Company Facing Bankruptcy, 220 Jobs Will Be Cut

CHICAGO (STNG) ― Jays Foods Inc. will permanently close its plant on 99th Street on Wednesday, displacing about 220 union employees, the company told union workers Monday.


I know this is really old news,
but I did want to point out this
horrible example of Auto Abuse.
Very sad.
Rust In Peace
Read the latest here and here

O Why Not?

So I tried to donate blood the other day. Let’s face it, that’s the only nice, self-sacrificing thing I would ever do for another human being.

That’s only because:

A) Blood is self-renewing when taken in small amounts
B) It’s relatively painless and not terribly time-consuming
C) It goes to another human only because interspecies blood transfusions don’t work, otherwise I would have insisted mine go to Barbaro the racehorse.

First off, the nurse quizzes me about my weight. Of course, I give her my Driver License weight. You know, the fantasy weight you wished you were at 16 when they first issued you the license. I think my eye color changes more than that first weight figure. As I’ve noted before, they should consider this a real source of revenue down at the DMV. Just put up big signs – Eye Tests, Photos, Weigh Station… then tell people for an additional $20 they’ll put any 3 digit number on you like.

The nurse looks at me with skepticism. Are you sure? Well, uh, maybe ____ (I admit to ten pounds more). Why? She explains they take less blood from lighter people and some aren’t allowed to donate at all. She thought I was too slight? Woo hoo! I will have that juice and cookie, thank you! I think the cutoff was 110 lbs or something. I assure her I’m in no danger of failing the parameters and she proceeds with a finger stick.

So they tell me I’m one lousy point too low in iron to donate! As someone who consumes so much red meat the danger of Mad Cow disease is a greater than anemia, I find this very hard to believe. Finding rust in my blood seemed more likely. Dejected, I shuffle out. The least they could have done was give me an “I Tried to Give” sticker with a little sickle cell cartoon figure on it or something.

Great. Now I’ll have to give money to that creepy bell-ringer in front of the grocery or something.

Does Rachel Ray Call Her Mother?

Actual Conversation

Me: Wish me luck, I’m cooking salmon for the fist time.

Mom: Is it fresh or frozen?

Me: Fresh? That’s for rich people. I guess it was fresh when it was full price. By the time I came along and found it on the clearance rack it had already spawned…

Mom: Do you write this stuff down? It’s pretty funny.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I've Been...

Ive been reading and watching plenty of great things, what with my computer being down and all, so I’d like to try and recap a few here. Do weigh in with what you’re currently enjoying – I’d love to hear from you. Here’s a link where you can buy cool T-Shirts like “Guess What I’m Reading” and “Read Irresponsibly”.

I’m researching which reader’s shelf website to go with for my blog. I’ll try to have something up by the new year and start one where just the things read that year will reside as a widget of some sort on my side bar.


Super Crunchers: Why Thinking By the Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart
by Ian Ayres
Cool look at how those billions of terabytes regarding my shopping habits are helping the evil superstores guide my every move. Fun and educational! I give it an A.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
By Sherman Alexie

My pick for YA book of the year about a teenage boy on a Reservation who aspires, and how the cards are stacked against aspirations, no matter what they might be. A.

I Am America and So Can You
by Stephen Colbert
It’s no America the Book. C+

Clapton the Autobiography
Good, but of course I wanted a tell-all with more name-dropping. Still, if he truly is in recovery, this is a great achievement. He spent enough on therapy to get to the point where he knows what his problems are, and I do hope he is overcoming them. B

Our Dumb World – The Onion
Funniest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m deep-green with envy. A+

All The Rage
By Aaron McGruder

Loved it! Wish he were still doing the strip. Flagee and Ribbon were pure genius. B+


The Golden Compass
(Audio, narrated by author Phillip Pullman)
What can I say? This is a very ‘different’ read for youngsters, and I’m reserving final judgment until I finish the His Dark Materials trilogy. So far, I’m impressed. It’s so refreshing to see a child protagonist that is not an orphan. (That’s so Disney. Or horribly Harry.) On the contrary, Lyra’s parents are supposedly live and well – and total jerks that want to use her to advance their own diametrical causes. There’s lots of cloak and dagger, and a Snow Leopard thrown in for good measure. Lyra herself has more than a few flaws, as do the people she encounters. I’m awaiting what the summation will be, as the books are taking some big digs at religion. After all the Lord of the Rings and Narnia dogma will this be a departure? Or will it rush back at the end? I’m now working on The Subtle Knife, and I don’t think that’s as powerful as the first one, but I’m not quite done. A-

Introducing Joss Stone
Love her voice, but hated these songs. Sorry. C+

Raising Sand – Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
Despite my initial misgivings, I really like this album! What saved it for me were the instrumental arrangements – very Strange Sensation. As for the chick, she can stay home next time. Just Robert. All Robert. B


Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth
Excellent! What’s not to like? Costumes. British Accents. A few horses. Oh, and just show me an English Country manor and I’ll show you acceptance to your marriage proposal so fast it’d make your head spin! A

Bleak House with Gillian Anderson
Nothing says ‘snowy weekend’ like a 32-part BBC miniseries!
And you thought Gillian Anderson was just some hot flashlight-wielding FBI agent chasing aliens in high heels? Well, she’s also a hot chick hiding a deep, dark, only offensive to the British aristocracy-type secret, too! A

The Mist
This was a Twilight Zone episode that stretched to two hours, and bore no resemblance to the Stephen King short story. It was one of those movies where you shout out directions to the imbeciles on the screen who are, of course, going to go into the dark basement alone. If nothing else, it confirmed what I always suspected. If any crisis happens, I want my friend Louise at my side. She wouldn’t have put up with Preachy Lady either, and we both would have spent some time THINKING things through. At least it didn’t have a happy ending. C.


Found this adorable plush dino at a restaurant gift shop and decided to buy his little friend the Woolly Mammoth, too! I did a Dinosaur display on my mantle that looked very nice. I put the mammoth off to the side, over on the stereo, since I wanted to include him but am a bit of a purist when it comes to large mammals shown alongside dinosaurs. (Please ignore the fact that I totally mixed eras on the dinosaurs.)

I don’t have an Ice Age genre yet, so do let me know if you see a nice Saber-Toothed Tiger or Dyer Wolf anywhere. Cavemen need not apply.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Go Green, Young Man!

Saving the Planet - One Super Car at a Time

Check out Jay Leno's new wheels!
600 HP, 585 lb torque - and - the ability to run on
E85 fuel! Awesome!!

Ok, it's a beautiful car, I want one, I want to protect the environment, reduce dependence on foreign oil, etc. etc., but I still think we're being sold a phony bill of goods on E85.

I mean, more cornfields? Yes!!

But of course it is our government bureaucrats and a few factory farm owners that will benefit, not small farmers. Plus, it's very costly to create and there are much better choices for alternative fuels and modes of transportation.

That said, I'd be happy to do my part by driving one of these lovely Vettes and using 105 octane E85 to save the environment.

One muscle car at a time.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Here I am Lounging About the House

Hey, I'm getting better at this photoshop thing already!

Cold-Blooded Humor

Veni, Vidi, Grande Visa

We came, we saw, we shopped at a really big mall.

As aforementioned, Al and I took a trip to Minnesota to check out a museum exhibit on Pompeii and the Underwater Adventures Aquarium which just happens to be conveniently located in the basement of the Mall of America. I find the six-hour drive up there to be very scenic and relaxing – or, perhaps it’s just knowing the destination. One of those. No, really, it’s a nice drive. Too bad we didn’t get our acts together earlier in the season when we could have taken the Vette, as parking was pretty safe around there.

The first day we set off around 4 a.m. and arrived at our hotel around 10 a.m. Right as we crossed the border into Minnesota there was a short burst of snow flurries! Nice place, Minnesota. If only it were warmer! I couldn’t even hear the desk clerk as they were doing a huge renovation on the hotel and I canceled my reservation right then and there! I saw an Embassy Suites across the way and headed there instead. I’ve heard rave reviews about their chain, and was willing to pay extra for a romantic weekend getaway. Mistake!

Oh, I paid extra all right. However, two elevators were not working. Since the hotel was at near-capacity, things became a horrible mess. Seems the State Girls Volleyball tournament players were all staying at that hotel, making the complementary breakfast bar a total madhouse in the mornings. The food offerings were fantastic, but the lines, crowds, and lack of seating were very off-putting. The pool and fitness rooms were great, but crowded.

They had this ‘free drinks’ from 5-7 p.m. offer. Now usually I’m not a drinker, but when suddenly faced with ‘free’ and trying to get my over-priced rate’s worth, I suddenly become Lindsay Lohan’s BFF. The hotel room itself was a suite, but the bathroom was way too small. I’ll try a Hilton next time! This would have been a nice place to stay during a quiet weekday, but I was not happy with our visit, and I didn’t even see one of those little comment cards where I could express my dissatisfaction. I’ll have to find something online…

Anyhoo… we made it to the museum and saw the ruins of Pompeii. I overheard a curator telling some visitors about how a child ran into one of the glass cases and bumped a ring loose, causing it to fall to the bottom of the display. They had to shut the exhibit down and call Italy. They then sent photos of the damage, and their plan of action for repair. Once they obtained their permission, the exhibit was restored and reopened to the public.

The day we were there a group of little cub scouts was wreaking havoc on the exhibit. Once again I would like to call for “Adult Thursdays” at museums and zoos. I’ll gladly pay extra!!!

I didn’t get to see any mosaics, but they did have some genuine frescos on display that were very impressive. (No photography allowed, so sorry-no pictures) I didn’t expect to be moved by the exhibit, but the final room was very emotional – the plaster casts made from impressions left behind after victim’s bodies had decomposed in the lava and ash. These white casts were placed on little lava stone beds for display, like a big barbecue grill. There were various poses of “trying to cover up” as the smoke and ash suffocated them. Every person was very small – not even as large as me. There was also a pig and a dog. Poor doggie! I can recall seeing pictures of the dog cast in a history book as a child, and that’s what prompted me to seek out the exhibit. The dog still had his collar on, but there’s no telling if he was tied up at the time of death. He obviously died in great pain.
Awww... according to this source, he was chained up

Another sad case was the guy crawling face down – still tethered by the manacles on his feet! I can just see his rich slave-owning masters taking the last chariot out of town the day before, telling him to stay behind and make sure no lava comes in the living room.

Of course, the feeling of “This is So Hurricane Katrina” permeated the whole experience for me. Anyone with any sense or resources had already left town with whatever valuables they could carry. I can just imagine some slave agitator telling everyone how the god Vulcan hates indentured servants…

We then toured the dinosaur floor where I saw my first Triceratops! Fafner is the largest and most complete Triceratops skeleton ever found. The fossil was dedicated in 1966 during the intermission of an opera program where Friedelind Wagner, granddaughter of Richard Wagner, sang at the St. Paul Arts and Science Center. I was surprised to see how close those two huge spear-like horns jutting from his skull were to each other. I guess I expected a broad forehead between them, like a longhorn cow. The hips were amazing, this high pelvic girdle supported by massive femurs.

They had this tiny little picture depicting how small this massive animal’s brain was, and I couldn’t help but think this must be some dig about how stupid dinosaurs must have been. I love how human-centric our race is, how vain. First off, how do we know they didn’t have higher-order thought processes or skills that were somehow not related to brain case size? Secondly, even if they were just lumbering eating machines, who are we to say they did not lead happy productive lives? They ran the planet for millions of years, and the smart money says Homo Sapiens isn’t going to make it to their 100,000th birthday. So there. Big brain = big destruction.

They also had a juvenile Allosaurs and a huge Diplodocus. There was a cast of a Stegasaurus, but that didn’t impress me in the least. I want to see real fossils!!! I also took the opportunity to play ‘stump the staff” when I saw an old guy over by the Ask a Palentologist booth. I asked why they didn’t have the Allosaur dated with the new technology to see how old it was. He didn’t really know, said it was a new thing. Guess it’s costly or something.

We Exited Through the Gift Shop of course, and I could have spent the whole trip’s budget right there. In retrospect, I should have. They had way better stuff than the Mall. I got an Egyptian candle holder with 3 cobras and some Pompeii magnets. Lots of other cool stuff I left behind, unfortunately. Oh, well.

The next day we got to the Mall right when it opened so we could stand in line with thousands of screaming kids awaiting entry to the Aquarium.

When we finally approached the ticket booth, I was informed that the ‘feed the sea turtle’ tickets were all sold out. Devastated, I booked a Behind the Scenes Tour as consolation. The first part of the Aquarium was really cheesey, very mall-like experience where you walked past some turtles and alligators in display tanks amid phony foliage. Very tacky. The true aquarium part started when entering a tunnel that had tanks to left and right, with an arched ceiling of glass that allowed the fish to swim above spectators.

There weren’t any spectacular sharks, but they did have three sea turtles, two loggerhead and a Ridley’s. One had deformed flippers, and obviously could not survive in the wild, whereas the others didn’t have obvious health problems that I could detect. Any sea turtle in an aquarium is one that cannot be released, so I am sure there were reasons for their residency.

The behind the scenes tour was conducted by a college intern who was getting her degree in marine biology and she did a great job of showing us the lab and kitchen areas. The sea turtles are fed squid stuffed with broccoli, which didn’t sound bad. Everything is restaurant quality food, so I can only imagine the cost. (Lord knows my $24.95 admission certainly helped out…)

Viewed from above, the aquarium was almost a circle, with pie-slice dividers separating each of the categories of fish: Freshwater, Amazon Basin, Saltwater, etc. There were also quarantine tanks for any sick fish. One sea turtle was recovering from a shell injury (there was putty in the cracks on her back) and two stingrays were expecting. They give birth to live pups, and were in a small round holding tub. Fish were fed by offering food on long poles on certain days. Fish rising on the wrong feeding schedule were denied food. This was unlike the set up at the Shedd where I understand each fish is cued by a symbol on a card for feeding. There may have been fewer varieties here, thus the need for complex turn-taking unnecessary.

After playing Stump the Staff for a bit, we Exited Through Gift Shop where I promptly bought a bunch of cool stuffed sea life toys: Morray Eel, Sea Horse and an octopus. It was supposed to be 20% off one toy, but I got 20% off each! Also scored a sea turtle candle holder.

Entered the Mall and started methodically walking each level. Most stores were chains you could shop anywhere in America, and that was very disappointing. Last visit, there were more independent locals. One neat place was Lake Woebegone, after the whole Garrison Kellior creation. They had all his stuff on tape and CD, plus books and other radio plays, Minnesota souvenirs, etc. I bought some audio tapes of his stories and had a nice time browsing. There was also a shoe store that I can’t recall the name of, so I can’t say if it was a chain or not. I’m guessing it was. They had the most magnificent shoes on earth, and the only thing between me and the boots of my dreams was about $450. A woman who looked like Jennifer Anniston was actually buying items, and her friend had on a gorgeous coat that must have cost several hundred dollars as well. I slunk out before anyone could smell “Macys” on me.

Al dutifully walked after me carrying bags, despite my offer to drop him off at Lego Land or the Mini-Putt. There was an amusement park at the center of the Mall, but the water rides were closed. Another cool gimmick was a NASCAR simulator where you paid to sit in a car to play a driving video game. Al didn’t try it to my surprise. Guess he didn’t want to humiliate all those other losers. Auto racing lost a huge star since Al was never exposed to auto racing as a kid. He’s really good at it, and with the right opportunity could have made a career out of his behavior that is so rude on public roadways.

Found a J. Crew store and scored a grey wool skirt for $40. Yay! Also bought a grey sweater vest, a black turtleneck, a white turtleneck, a blue sweater and a $15 summer dress. Not much else, the one jacket I wanted at Nordstrom’s Rack wasn’t my size and I was heartbroken the whole day.

Ended up closing the Mall and ate dinner at the Rainforest CafĂ© as that was the only thing left open near our parking spot. Would have preferred to try Bubba Gump, but that was not to be. Maybe next time. I really don’t have any reason to go back to this mall. My next shopping pilgrimage will be to the outlet stores of Aurora, but I want to wait for spring.

Pot, Meet Kettle

American newspaper headline:
“Mexico officials did little to prepare for known flood threat”.
“Really?,” replied the citizens of New Orleans.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Foil Metal Jacket

Not only do I fear family gatherings and most other social obligations, I also hate the obligatory ‘dish to pass’. I dread any type of cooking or preparing. Couple that with the chance to showcase my total lack of culinary skills to the public, and voila! A recipe for disaster.

So when I was asked to bring potatoes to a Thanksmas gathering this weekend, I opted for “Baked”. I wasn’t going to disgrace myself with lumpy mashed or mushy au gratin. I figured, how bad could I mess up poking a few holes in a spud and wrapping it in shiny paper? Then I read the box of aluminum foil … Made in China.

Guess I should have stuck with the “instant” kind after all…

Send Food!

Just got PhotoShop installed!!

Then spent four hours playing with it, trying to create my annual Christmas card opus. I see myself becoming a Dorian Grey-type figure, holing up in my office with a photograph of myself I try to photoshop into perfection…

I’ll do a tutorial next, honest.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's ME!!

All I Really Want for Christmas is...

Some new presidential candidates, please!

Front Page of Chicago Tribune

Can you say ironic kiddies? I knew you could...

Yellow paint on a Godzilla toy at a shop in Hyde Park showed a high lead content in a readout from a hand-held scanner operated by a Tribune reporter. The owner immediately pulled the toy. (Tribune photo by Terrence Antonio James / November 17, 2007)

Am I the only one who thinks Godzilla is SUPPOSED to be toxic? Wasn't that the whole moral lesson here?

Old Halloween Photo

But so cute, I can't resist!!

Veni, Vidi, V8

We came, We saw, We arrived in world-class automobiles.

Sorry to be reporting on such old news, but the lack of a computer has really taken its toll. I’m going to try and catch up, so things may not be chronological, to say the least.

DustFest 07 (see other bloggers

We decided to descend on Effingham, Illinois, for the Corvette Funfest weekend at the end of September. About 45 thousand other enthusiasts decided to do the same, making it the second largest Corvette gathering in the country. There were about fifteen thousand Corvettes. Did we have hotel reservations? Of course not! Where’s the adventure in that?

The weather was a record-breaking high in the 90s that suited me just fine – and didn’t upset the Road Warrior any, either.

Didn’t see too many Vettes until the very end of the trip there, which was a bit unusual. As we approached the end of the six-hour drive, late models appeared on the road – many with their tops up ! What’s with that? Why buy a convertible if you just want to drive around blasting the air conditioning? Must have been the passenger’s desire to not get their hair mussed. It seemed men over 50 are issued a slightly younger blonde with any purchase of a C6.

As we pulled into town, the Hotel Hunt was on!

Al had his Crackberry out, locating and calling hotels. We found the only one with two rooms still available and pulled into their parking lot. Ewww!!! I think this place is rejected by most truckers. Things were not looking good. The only positive was, all the other guests had Corvettes too, so at least we could all be appalled together.

I was shown a first floor room that was most recently rented out for the four-day RJ Reynolds Tobacco Lover’s Convention (this year’s theme: Smoke em’ before they’re Illegal!!). Suddenly the Hilton Garden Inn called back and said they just had a cancellation! Take it, I demanded! I don’t care how marked-up that clean, shiny, non-smoking room is, just get it!!!!!!

Al obliges, but of course complains about the cost. Considering the Bates Motel wanted almost as much, I thought it was going to prove a great bargain; it was brand-new and extremely upscale. We pulled into the parking lot and Paris Hilton herself was getting out of a Vette. No lie, this young woman looked like a Paris doppelganger, complete with designer handbag. She smiled at my car like it’s the cutest little thing she’s ever seen and Daddy just has to buy it for her key chain.
I began feeling a lot more positive about the weekend.
We checked in and found a gorgeous room – complete with little used hotel towels that are ours to keep for use in washing our cars! Plus a little toy car. There was even a hose out side for washing your baby.

This place will have my business forever- unlike places that don’t provide towels and then try to charge you extra for messing up their bath towels. provoking a fight between your credit card and their management, resulting in you winning, ha-ha, not like I’d know anything about that, now would I, Nowhere, Nebraska Super 8, now would I???


We went to the MidAmerica grounds where literally thousands of Corvettes are parked in a big empty field. It had not rained in months, hence my designation of Dust Fest. This is one of those events that was really cute and quaint when no one knew about it. Now it’s the Disneyland of all things Corvette. Oh, well. We put the top up to minimize the dirt, and began to walk the grounds.

Overheard at the review stand…

Woman (picking up her trophy): Of course we trailered the car here! It’s almost a seven-hour drive!

(I wanted to point out I just drove six and would be scraping bugs off the mirrors well into January but at least I DROVE MINE!!!! But why bother? Her hair and bumpers were spotless so she got a trophy. Big whoop. )

After wandering the grounds for a few hours we headed back to the hotel. It was one big tailgate party in the parking lot – all Corvette owners on little folding chairs behind their cars. We walked to a really cool restaurant and had a great dinner out on the back deck over a little pond. I had not expected to be staying at such a nice hotel or eating at a ‘fine dining’ establishment, so I felt a little silly in my Speed Racer T-Shirt, but everyone else was pretty casual too. (Next year, I’ll bring something a little nicer…)

I think this one event pretty much fuels the entire economy of this town. MidAmerica also does a PorscheFest, and I’d love to see that sometime. I’m guessing it’s much smaller and more intimate. Except… I’d buy one at the event. I just know it.

We stopped at a liquor store and joined the tailgaters for some fun conversations about our cars. The next day we attended some seminars and I did some shopping. Scored a cool Corvette camera bag, some Corvette sunglasses and a Corvette throw.

There were all these lifts going where you could get new wheels or exhaust put right on your car at the event. Kind of a car day-spa. They had an actual day-spa type thingy going for the ladies in another area – there were booths to make beaded bracelets (total mark-up, and they had run out of the I(heart)My Corvette charm, so I didn’t bother), manicures with the Corvette logo, etc.

At night there was free entertainment – Three Dog Night played! I love them.

First, we went to the local TGI Friday’s for dinner. Turned out, the local high-school was having Homecoming the same night. Couldn’t they have planned this a little better? Apparently TGI’s was quite the place to take your evening-gowned date. I enjoyed seeing the fashion show and people watching.

Now imagine some five thousand plus Corvettes parked in a field at night for a concert. I mean, the average age of attendee is about 50, so a pretty mellow crowd. Like any show, some people are getting up before it is over to ‘beat the rush’ out the exit. And I do mean singular.

Al suggested we leave. I refused.

“I’m not getting off this lawn chair until I hear “Joy to the World”.

“Wouldn’t you like to hear it sitting the car?”


They did exactly one song as an encore. Yep. Joy to the World.

We then left with the throng heading back to the cars that were now little lumps of dust dotting the landscape. Like any big gathering of a sporting event or concert, all access roads except one were blocked, and the rent-a-cops were on hand to hinder traffic and not allow turns in any useful direction.

One would think that this mellow, older crowd would leave the grounds in a polite and orderly fashion. Guess again. Suddenly everyone seemed to possess a $50K fiberglass bumper car….

Me: They’re not letting you in!! Slow down! Watch out!
Al (driving): That’s ok. Our car is worth less.
Me: Not funny. I don’t care if we do have metal bumpers, don’t hit anything. Look at that idiot! Where’s he going?

Took forever to go the three miles back to the hotel – could have walked quicker, and next time I think we will. Afterwards, we walked to a neighboring hotel that was having better tailgate parties and met some more nice people to talk cars with far into the night.

The hotel had a great breakfast buffet and we were on the road home nice and early. Even though the event has gotten huge, I think I might go again next year because we had such a nice time. We’ve been to the vast majority of Funfests, starting with the second year.

One thing I would change is the Celebrity Judging. It’s a ‘fun show’, so no real car show judging is done. Dignitaries are allowed to pick their favorite car out of the field and tie a balloon to the antenna, signifying their choice. Those cars are brought forward to get a little trophy. This is fine, but many people come for both days, and I noticed some cars won on both days, and really they should just be eligible once. Even these informal picks turn up the same cars over and over, year after year. I’d just like to see some variety.

The ones that made the biggest impression on me were the husband and wife who each arrived in an incredibly restored 68 coupe, one yellow, one green. Al spoke to the husband who said BOTH cars were owned by the wife. My kind of woman! Although I think the Road Warrior needs a little sister. A nice, new, bouncing 6 Speed convertible.

Hey, Al, I think it’s time to try again!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Am (Connected) Therefore I Blog

Am I back?


Sorta. Maybe.

It's like this - we had to buy a whole new computer!!! But something still isn't right, and the connection is slower than ever. But I do plan on getting some posts up soon. I have plenty of book reviews to share, and a few trips. And photos! Yes, photos too. This may not happen for over a week; we're going on a trip this weekend, so I won't be around. (SOMEBODY owed me a Pompeii exhibit)

Since we're going all the way to Minnesota to see a museum, it would be a downright sin to drive past the MALL of AMERICA with out stopping... so I got a hotel room right across the street from it just to be sure. Why tempt the gods of retail?

Much like Mecca, the MOA is a required pilgrimage for professional shoppers like myself. Sure, there are bigger malls (Woodfield has more retail square footage) or older supermalls (Edmonton) but MOA has its charms.

...Like dropping Mr. Right off in Lego Land and telling him to build himself a motorcycle while I do some serious shopping.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Well, of Course it's Made in China

This rolling, rough and tough Dusty the Talking Vacuum Cleaner comes alive with animation, realistic sounds (that would be you, swearing) and fun activities (being tested for lead is a great passtime!). Dusty's friend Brushy comes attached and the two have cleaning fun all day long as they talk to each other. The vacuum cleaner's handle moves up and down just like a real one, and the free-rolling wheels activate 30 fun phrases and realistic vacuum sounds (Like "favorite toy caught in a vortex"). As the vacuum rolls along, watch the "dirt" swirling in the canister! *
*Had this been a real Hoover, that dirt would be swirling out the motor...
Phrases include :
"Maytag Sucks - But Hoover Doesn't!"
"My warranty has just expiiiiiiirerrrrrrrdddddd"
"The toaster will lead the takeover at dawn - pass it on"
"I'm sorry, this model is not included in the recall. Would you like to buy an extended warranty?"
"This item falls well within the limits of lead particles per million when used as directed. Directions: do not touch with bare skin. Do not inhale near product. Do not leave in direct sunlight or feed after midnight."


As if you needed any further proof as to the fact that all of my appliances are in a perpetual state of revolt – my computer hard drive crashed leaving me without an Internet connection!! We had an old computer hooked up and it was so slow…zzzzzzzzzzzzz. I’ll try to catch up as I can, but the major stuff will have to wait. The Blogfodder folder grows ever larger, while my time continues to shrink. Thanks so much to anyone who is still reading this blog!! Also, I may have to ask you for email addresses again, if my data can’t be recovered. For those keeping score: Computer Age – less than six years old. Hard drive warranty: Five Years. Yep. That planned obsolescence has given way to willful warranty expiration self-sabotage by the devices. Little kamikazes.

So I get this coupon from a local shoe store, not my favorite store, (that would be DSW) but $10 off is nothing to sneeze at. Coupon in hand, I head for the sale stuff way in the back and start trying on more shoes than the prince in the Cinderella story.

After Goldy-Marcos finds the Just Right pair, she heads to the checkout. Me + Coupon + Clearance Rack of shoes = Happy Ending, right? Wrong. Seems the lighting in this particular retail establishment leaves something to be desired.

I get home and open the box of shoes under a fluorescent light in my kitchen only to find I have one navy blue and one black sandal. I mean, even in bright light, these colors are thisclose.

Called the establishment and explained that despite the checker looking to see each shoe was the same size (which does make me wonder where that woman with one size-eight foot and one size seven-and-a-half foot shops, but apparently that’s Not the Store’s Problem) I left the store with two different colored shoes. Snickering, the employee put me on hold. She came back and said she found the size 6 mis-matched shoes just as I described and will hold them for me until I can come back for the exchange.

I’m telling you, this has been a really bad week. I promise to tell you the story of the really great weekend I had at Dustfest 07 soon. Unfortunately, I can’t even get the photos off my camera right now!!

I bought a new pair of Rollerblades. I have mixed emotions about them. They are very comfortable and have the old-fashioned traditional brake I like best. I am very brand-loyal to Rollerblade, and this is my third pair. The bad thing is they were a really cheaply made model, and I just couldn’t find anything better, despite my willingness to spend more on the right ones. These just seemed to have really cheap fittings and I doubt if they’ll last more than three years. I don’t know if they truly were extra-low end, or if everything is being made junky now, or what. I wish I knew where the Rollerblade factory was so I could just buy factory-direct and save a few dollars while having the whole line available in one spot (and they might even have my size!). Unlike the Jelly Belly factory, I would NOT want rejects with square wheels, however.
Do Rollerblades count as a footwear purchase? I think it’s more sporting goods. Anyhoo,
I really should try and break this whole shoe-shopping habit. I think the longest I’ve gone is 60 days without a shoe purchase. Blogs and the Internet are great ways to reach out to others with your addiction and offer support, chart progress, etc. So if you are addicted to buying shoes, I’d love to hear from you.

As aforementioned, I’d join a 12 – step program, but that might actually wear out a pair…

My name is Getalife, and I’m a Shoeaholic. It has been seven hours since my last foot wear purchase….

I’ll chart my progress here and let’s see how I do. Can I exclude certain items? I really need some new black boots, and I don’t have any silver shoes…


Ok. It’s actually been twenty-five days since my last footwear purchase, and I feel good. I can do this. I can go, oh, thirty days. Let’s start small. 31 days, as it’s October. Or a really big coupon. Whichever comes first.


Thirty-one days.

I can do this.


*Bet that requires a passport, and don’t get me started on that whole thing again. Did I tell you what happened with that?? How many public officials will be getting nasty letters from me about the fees and difficulties of a US citizen having to prove the same and fight their bureaucracy to the tune of hundreds of dollars? Oh, wait, that’s a whole other post. I’m NEVER getting a passport. I will sneak out in the middle of the night, never to return.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Please Come Back, Readers!!

I have about a million things to blog about, most of them quite stale, but I've been out of commission for a month! Please bear with me as I catch up on all the things I need to comment on. You know, like Warmest October Ever!!!!!!!!!!! Yay!!! This so makes up for the August wash-out! I'm still driving my Vette and wearing short sleeves. Here's to a 40 degree average January!!

And I Thought Maytag Sucked....

Once again, an electronic device has failed me in a disaster of Biblical proportions - this time my Hewlett-Packard piece of junk computer decided to give up the ghost just past its 5-year hard drive warranty. Convenient, eh?

Someone tried to tell me that was the law of 'planned obsolescence'. I disagree. Planned Obsolescence is the Sony Playstation - they continue to improve the product and create software that needs the new system to be appreciated - they want you to buy a new game box every few years. Fine with me.

Junk that breaks just past the warranty is an evil, dastardly plot perfected by successful manufacturers that laugh all the way to the bank. The item you are replacing it with is made even shoddier, and has even less of a warranty that the item you just replaced. See: Automobiles, esp. American, and Maytag, as in "Maytag Sucks". So does Hewlett-Packard.

Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks. Hewlett-Packard sucks.

So... If you were wondering what happened to me, I've had no internet access for forty days and forty nights (or so). I have lost my hardrive, which means my banking, photos, and all your e-mail addresses have vanished into the ether. Please email me again so I can add you (back) into my address book. I will then send you my new cell phone number.

What's that, you say? Can't you just transfer a cell phone number over? Let's just say after speaking with a major portion of the residents of Mumbai to no avail, it just became easier to give up and start over. Much like Al's efforts to restore our computer. Again, I apologize for the absence; I do hope I still have some loyal readers out there.

Yeah. Right.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Despite persistent rumors that this blog was shut down due to subversive content, I am still alive and well. I just haven't made the time to blog lately, and really, there's no excuse. The Blog Fodder folder is overflowing, and I promise to try and work through it soon.

I haven't been blading since the 'tar pit' incident, and I may just put the skates away for the year. The mosquitoes are so bad I've dubbed my walks with Cyrus 'the two thousand meter slap'. Then a cold spell whooshed through, bringing with it my annual Winter Depression. I tried bundling up to do a two thousand meter shiver, but guess what? The mosquitoes are still out there!!

This weekend I'll be too busy to blog, but I promise to be back with more caustic commentary than you can swat a skeeter with.

(In fact, I must share a little slice of my Getalife: If I wasn't depressed enough about the impending Ice Age, I was once again reminded of my lifelong regret #1 Never Landed a Job Working as a Comedy Writer. Seems the woman who does my nails said she was waiting to hear what I had to say about the whole OJ thing. When people look to you instead of Jay Leno and David Letterman for humorous commentary, you've missed your calling. Sniff! No one can hear you cry in cyberspace.)

Funfest or bust!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Coffee, Tea, or You Annoy Me

Shadow Yang: ‘He was alone’
By Eric Litke
Sheboygan Press staff

A Hmong man who took his own life on Monday after shooting and killing a former coworker lived a reclusive and quiet existence, devoid of friends and family and cut off from the local Hmong community, neighbors and acquaintances said Tuesday.
I love how being quiet and minding your own business is of note in today's world.

Shadow Yang, 40, who lived alone in the rundown upper flat of a Kentucky Avenue duplex, forced his way into the Rockline Industries plant about 4:30 a.m. and killed 28-year-old Christina Wollenzien, police say. Wearing a camouflage jacket and armed himself with a semiautomatic handgun and 100 rounds of ammunition, Yang shot Wollenzien three times before retreating to another part of the Maryland Avenue plant to kill himself.
Another account mentioned Yang worked in the 'coffee filter division' there. I'm imagining a guy in Urban Camo with a white pith helmet, and instead of the iconic 'shrubbery' stuck all over him; the white coffee filters are glued all over his helmet and shoulders to help him blend in as he stalks his prey...

Somsy Kingpadith, Yang’s downstairs neighbor for the last two years, said the shooting “surprised me and it kind of didn’t.”
Your point being? The only positive here is he killed himself.

“Just the way he carried himself, he seemed like a person that would go to an extreme if he had to do something,” said Kingpadith, 29, who lives at 707 Kentucky Ave., with her husband and four children. “He never really smiled, never talked … kind of creepy in a way.”
What of the name Shadow? Was he dark in mood as a little boy? Change his name as an adult? Interesting.

Kingpadith said she saw Yang only a few times over the last two years, and never once talked to him. She never saw anyone else come or go from his apartment.“It just seemed like there was no one living there,” Kingpadith said.
I'd check around for some other missing people who aren't "living" there...

Vue Yang, a leader in the Sheboygan Hmong community, said Shadow Yang moved to Sheboygan from Detroit about 2001, when he started work at Rockline. He had no family here, and his parents live in Detroit. Vue Yang said he hadn’t seen Shadow Yang since he first came to the community.“He is part of the Yang clan, but he didn’t want to mix with anybody … he never attended any function or social activity, he just stayed by himself,” Vue Yang said. “That’s very unusual. Most of the time when there’s a summer festival or somebody died, or some New Year’s thing, people show up, but for some reason he didn’t come.”
Man, I'm a regular ticking time bomb myself!

But while Shadow Yang kept to himself, he also kept out of trouble, police and Rockline officials said. Sheboygan police had no contact with him outside of a 2001 citation for unsafe parking, and Rockline officials said he had a “very good record” in his five years working as a forklift operator.
His aim with those pointy forks was really good...

He stopped coming to work without explanation in October 2006, and had been unemployed since, said Lt. Jeff Johnston of the Sheboygan Police Department.
He had some blogging to catch up on...

Kingpadith said she wished her neighbor had reached out to someone before taking the drastic steps he did.“I wish he would talk to somebody or at least ask for some kind of help that he had to go and do this,” she said. “He was alone.”
So he could have taken more people with him?

The Twin Gripes

Inevitably, the question was asked, "Do you remember everything about September 11, 2001?"

"Of course," I blurted. "I paid a reasonable amount for a tank of gas and I was still proud to be an American."

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pop Goes the Lawsuit!

Doctor warns consumers of popcorn fumes
By MARCUS KABEL, Associated Press Writer
Wed Sep 5, 7:47 AM ET

Consumers, not just factory workers, may be in danger from fumes from buttery flavoring in microwave popcorn, according to a warning letter to federal regulators from a doctor at a leading lung research* hospital.

The Pop Secret is out! Knew there was a reason I liked Doritos.

A pulmonary specialist at Denver's National Jewish Medical and Research Center has written to federal agencies to say doctors there believe they have the first case of a consumer who developed lung disease from the fumes of microwaving popcorn several times a day for years.

Wait a minute - eating four bags of microwave popcorn a day might be bad for you? It might indicate other health and nutrition problems?

"We cannot be sure that this patient's exposure to butter flavored microwave popcorn from daily heavy preparation has caused his lung disease," cautioned Dr. Cecile Rose. "However, we have no other plausible explanation."

Like his two-pack per day Marlboro habit? Why would you say that, Dr. Rose of Newport Beach, SC, married to an R.J. Reynolds heir?

The July letter, made public Tuesday by a public health policy blog, refers to a potentially fatal disease commonly called popcorn lung that has been the subject of lawsuits by hundreds of workers at food factories exposed to chemicals used for flavoring.

Pop music to the snack cracker companies' ears...

In response to Rose's finding, the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association issued a statement Tuesday recommending that its members reduce "to the extent possible" the amount of diacetyl in butter flavorings they make. It noted that diacetyl is approved for use in flavors by the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The Flavor and Extract lobby is very powerful. That's why there's so many black jelly beans in a bag.

One national popcorn manufacturer, Weaver Popcorn Co. of Indianapolis, said last week it would replace the butter flavoring ingredient because of consumer concern. Congress has also been debating new safety measures for workers in food processing plants exposed to diacetyl.

In a totally unrelated incident, Jiffy Pop Stove Top Popcorn sales are threatening to blow the tinfoil roof off the industry...

The FDA said in an e-mail it is evaluating Rose's letter and "carefully considering the safety and regulatory issues it raises."

Bribes are being prepared now. If you were sick of ethanol kick-backs, just wait!

Fred Blosser, spokesman for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said it is the first case the institute has seen of lung disease apparently linked to popcorn fumes outside the workplace.

Oh, but we knew about the ones inside all along. Didn't tell the employees. But we knew.

The occupational safety arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it is working on a response to the letter.

Because they keep smudging their reply with their greasy 'real butter' fingers...

William Allstetter, spokesman for National Jewish Medical, confirmed the letter was sent by Rose, a specialist in occupational and environmental lung diseases and director of the hospital's Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic.

Forget letters that have anthrax fall out of them - the new threat is Mrs. Dash's Butter Substitute

"There have been no other cases that we know of other than the industrial occupational ones," Allstetter said.

Butter not be.

Rose acknowledged in the letter that it is difficult to confirm through one case that popping buttered microwave popcorn at home can cause lung disease.

Like perhaps it's the malignant Maytag Microwave????

However, she said she wanted to alert regulators of the potential public health implications.

You realize every business in America just banned Microwave Popcorn as a CYA that does nothing to address actual employee safety issues...

Rose said the ailing patient, a man whom she wouldn't identify, consumed "several bags of extra butter flavored microwave popcorn" every day for several years.

Bet it's her dad.

He described progressively worsening respiratory symptoms of coughing and shortness of breath. Tests found his ability to exhale was deteriorating, Rose said, although his condition seemed to stabilize after he quit using microwave popcorn.

Really? Quit how? Hazelden Pretzelden?

She said her staff measured airborne levels of diacetyl in the patient's home when he cooked the popcorn. The levels were "similar to those reported in the microwave oven exhaust area" at the quality assurance unit of the popcorn plant where the affected employees worked, she said.

Did the extra exertion of the subject as he pounded on the little metal box screaming "Faster, dammit! Pop faster!" help things along any?

David Michaels, of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who first published Rose's letter on his blog, The Pump Handle, said the finding is another reason for federal regulators to crack down on diacetyl exposure by workers and consumers.

You go, Pop Culture Bloggers!!

"This letter is a red flag, suggesting that exposure to food flavor chemicals is not just killing workers, but may also be causing disease in people exposed to food flavor chemicals in their kitchens," Michaels wrote on his public health policy blog.

Mrumg...wreally? Like these (crunch, crunch) Fakin' Bits I put on my salad every night?

*Funded by the Orville Redenbacher Old Fashioned Popcorn Institute

Monday, September 03, 2007

Veni, Vedi, Visa II

Some events you can attend once or twice, and then you’re bored or at least want a break for a few years. For some reason, I can’t get enough of a local Maxwell Street Days festival. A glorified sidewalk sale near the end of summer has become an annual event for me and Louise, and we now have it down to a science, eating breakfast and dinner with hours and hours of shopping in between.

This year, I decided my theme would be the letter S.

Sandals: The end-of-season half price sale on Minnetonkas is not to be missed! Every year I get at least one pair for the next season. This year I wanted orange.
Seahorses: so far I’ve bought a candle holder and purse with a seahorse theme at the event, so I was on the lookout for anything else that might catch my eye.
Sunglass holder: mine broke.
Scented candles: Love ‘em!
Scarves: scored some nice ones in years past.
Skirt: for some reason I get really good wool skirts at this event. I’m not sure why, as most of the merchandise is summer wear on clearance, but who am I to argue?
Stegosaurus: I have a stuffed Triceratops, Proceratops, Raptor, Tyrannosaurus, Apatosaurus and Godzilla. (Yes, I know… but he’s really cool and makes the trademark roar while his eyes light up red when you squeeze his tummy…) I suddenly decided I needed a Stegosaurus. So shoot me.

So I had no problems with the orange sandals, or the other two cool pairs I found at Jones New York.

No scented candles to be found, and nary a Stegosaur or Seahorse in sight. I did however, stumble into a Speed Racer close out and snapped up a pink baby doll T with the whole gang (including my favorite character, the Mach 5) on it and a Speed Racer coffee mug!

Also got a great deal on a little lighthouse purse that will match my lighthouse scarf and a Route 66 rolling tote bag to replace the one that broke.

When reading fashion magazines, I like to rip out the pages featuring outfits I’d like to try or buy. I keep these in the closet until I assemble the needed pieces. For several years I’ve had a photo of a tall willowy model in a camel-colored tartan plaid skirt (complete w/big safety pin) as a ‘must have’ item on my wish list. When I would spot such an item in a store, it would always be super long – for that tall toothpick-like supermodel. I’d hold it up and watch the fringe drag along the ground. So much for looking cool in tall boots. No one would know I had boots on. Finally, I threw the picture out. I was never going to find it.

Much to my surprise, right on the sidewalk was the skirt! And it was short! Only to my knee. Glancing at the tag, I saw 9/10. Not my usual size, but it looked as if it might fit – and it was 50% off!!
First, a word about me and “50% Off”. I’m reasonably bright. Capable of basic math. Cognizant of the national conspiracy from the President on down to get me to spend my hard-earned dollars, lest the terrorists win. Cerebral enough to recognize the Skinner Box a coupon presents to my psyche. Yet, I still get excited by the words “Clearance” and “percent off”. Where’s my pellet? What do you mean this coupon’s expired?

Anyhoo… I go into the Irish import store and try on the wool kilt. Due to an elastic waistband, it fits. Score! As I’m checking out, I notice the tag says ‘ages 9-10. Children’s Kilt.” Oh. Must be some ‘authentic’ native dress for tweens doing Riverdance. Who cares? It’ll look great with boots all winter.

I really should research what that particular tartan means. I’ll bet it corresponds to the “Coupon-Wielding Cheapskate Clan” or the “Short Sarcastic Lassies of the Lowlands”.

I've Been Reading/Watching

Need to report on all the things I’ve been reading/watching from way back when it was too rainy to go outside. Now, it’s too mosquito-y to go outside.

Tara Road – movie with Andie MacDowell
After reading Circle of Friends (loved it) and seeing the movie with Minnie Driver (loved it, but why change the ending?) I must question whether the book had such a happy ending. But who cares? Just cute escapist chick movie. I love Andie, so I give it an A- for feel-good no-brainer.

Screamers – System of a Down
The Diary of Immaculee

Nothing like a rainy weekend and some documentaries about genocide to make you feel good! Jokes aside, these were both very informative and eye-opening. I wish Diary had been longer and more in-depth. It certainly made me realize how violence can happen anywhere, with any excuse. There’s a lot more I would like to know about – how she left the country, etc. and I realize it would take many more hours to discuss that. I plan on getting her book to see if it covers her whole life more effectively.
Screamers: B+
Immaculee: B-

NOVA specials
Kingdom of the Seahorse….Awwww! About time males took some responsibility for reproduction. B+
DNA: Secret of Photo 51 Gee, I want to be a woman scientist when I grow up! No wonder Lisa Nowak went nuts. There’s just no respect for women in science. A for outrage.

Becket Movie w/Richard Burton Peter O’Toole
Love costume dramas in castles! Love the relevance of the topic: we still can’t get a priest into a courtroom to face civil laws. A.

Wonderful Tonight – Autobiography of Pattie Boyd
In case you don’t know, Pattie Boyd was the model who married George Harrison of the Beatles, only to leave him for Eric Clapton. Do you need any more name dropping than that to pick up this book? I certainly didn’t. I give the book a B. I give the vicarious thrills an A. This is pretty much every woman’s fantasy. Well, at least mine. I’d love for Robert Plant and Klaus Meine to get into a fight over me. Oh, let’s throw Steve Perry, Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar and David Coverdale in there too. Just for good measure. May the best rocker win.

Speaking of rock-wannabe’s…
A cute book is Mom, Have You Seen My Leather Pants? by Craig A. Williams
Craig writes about his experiences as a teen musician in the 80s. Hysterical! B.

The Bourne Ultimatum - Movie
Mr. Right and I went to see this, despite my dread of public movie theaters. The movie was great, I give it an A! It was so refreshing to see the anti-24. Perhaps Bourne signifies our nation’s conscience?

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (in progress)

Dear Ms. Rowling:

As I am not yet finished with this book, I realize this comment may be premature, however…

I don’t care if you kill off Harry, Hermione, Ron and the whole kit and caboodle at Hogwarts – in fact, if you did, I would only respect you more for teaching little ones that good never does triumph over evil. But how could you be so callous as to off that innocent little fluff-ball Hedwig? People dying? Tough toenails. Animals*? Not allowed!!!

Girl Who Cried Through Dances With Wolves Because Wolf and Horse Were Shot

*Includes Magical Creatures

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Pigs Fly!

From the "They're Handing out Earmuffs in Hell" dept.:

LOS ANGELES -- Owen Wilson, hospitalized after an apparent suicide attempt, has dropped out of the upcoming ensemble comedy "Tropic Thunder."
The 38-year-old actor will not appear in the DreamWorks movie, already six weeks into production in Hawaii. Sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment, told The Associated Press that Wilson was to have a cameo role in the film. "Tropic Thunder" stars Jack Black, Robert Downey, Jr., and Ben Stiller, who is also directing.

Who could have guessed that Owen Wilson would be the high-risk bet to not complete a picture due to personal demons/drug use? I mean, if Robert Downey Jr. is still upright... Whew! Owen must really be a mess.
For great Owen coverage, see: OwenWatch

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Why I Hate America

As mentioned before, I’ve really procrastinated about getting a passport. For, oh, about, 32 years. Since I’ve never gone anywhere or done anything – in short “No Life” – it’s never been an issue. Just an “I really should” and “someday I’ll…”. Yeah. Right. Whatever.

So when all the hoopla of “Now You Really Need One or We Won’t let You Back in from Canada*” came up, I thought I really should get around to it. Sometime. Whenever.

First, I got the forms. Back in December, I think. Went to my local post office and picked them up easily. Found out that the post office in next town over would take the completed application, as would the courthouse. I’m on my way!

Fortunately they were festooned with obnoxious orange headers which made them easy to spot as they spent the next six months moving from ‘to do’ pile to ‘just make a neat stack’ pile to ‘I really need to get to this pile’.

Read forms. Filled out simple questions. Argued with Mr. Right about how Hazel is Light Brown, and his eyes are NOT Light Brown, not even close, just put down Blue, damnit! BECAUSE I SAID SO!!!

Shuffle papers.

Applied to get a ‘certified’ copy of my birth certificate. Ranted about how many people can’t prove they are in this country legally, yet my legitimacy is questioned to the tune of $17. Wait another week.

Received proof that I am indeed alive. Lamented fact that there is no fee to pay in order to ‘Get A Life’, as this would be far more useful.

Had Al take my picture. Worried I wouldn’t look ‘innocent’ enough for customs. Worried when photo is flashed on nightly news next to phrase Suspected Al Qaida Operative the girls from High School will say, “Well she certainly has put on some weight!” before getting to: “I always knew she would amount to no good”.

Spent an afternoon discovering there is no way to resize a photo with the crappy software that came with the computer, and figured the next 20 minutes is not the time to try Photoshop out for the first time. Decided that will be my next Procrastination Project.
Wondered if the whole 2” X 2” thing was some plot to keep people from doing their own photos so they could charge $6 for an ugly DMV photo.

Went to appointed post office after work. Big signs greeted me, “Now Open Until 7 p.m.”

Stood in line. Stood. Stood. Wondered why these idiots haven’t learned the joys of on-line bill pay. Stood. Stood. Don’t really care about your kid at college. If he can’t figure out how to pick up his mail, is he really college material? Stood.

“Hi, I’m here for the passport…”

“I’m sorry. We only do passports until 4:30 p.m. Next!!”

Excuse me? Only to 4:30? How did I miss that on your big sign? Oh, wait, IT WASN’T THERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This whole passport scam is working like a charm! Now I WANT to leave the country. Forever!!!! Uncle Sam can let some third world blogger come in and do my complaining for pennies on the dollar. I should have asked for some old Priority Mail Boxes. They look pretty waxy. Just give me a shove towards Cuba, I bet Fidel would love to see me. He wouldn’t ask for no stinkin’ passport…

You know, NASCAR started due to some moonshiners trying to out run the law. I’ve always thought Mr. Right would be a prime candidate for being a prescription drug runner for old people…

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Owen, what were you thinking?

Owen Wilson drops out of Stiller movie

...had been due to take part in Tropic Thunder, directed by friend and long-time collaborator Ben Stiller.
However trade journals Daily Variety and the Hollywood reporter said Wilson had now dropped out of the film, which began shooting in Hawaii recently.

NO!! That's Career Suicide!! Nooooooooooo!!! Where's his agent? Get him on the set!! That's a loss of ten million dollars!!! Nooooooooo!!! Suck up some Prozac and get to work!!! Like who can be all 'woe is me' in Hawaii? Didn't see Magnum P.I. crying into his umbrella drink, now did you? Book 'em Dano! On charges of Self-Absorption with Intent to Wallow.

A Special Message From Al

Dear Mr. Stiller:

I can only imagine how distraught you are at the personal turmoil of good friend and Tropic Thunder co-star, Owen Wilson. With days to go before shooting on location in Hawaii, Mr. Wilson had to regretfully drop out of your production.

But, as they say, the show must go on.

Which is why I would like to offer my services as a funny, blond heart-throb.

Oh, sure, my nose is annoyingly small, pert and perfect, but I'm short! 5'7" or so, almost an inch shorter than you. Imagine how good you'll look.

Call me!

Mr. Right

P.S. Next time you visit Owen, say "Hi" to my wife. (Owen got my wife -I got his job - win-win!!)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Spin Out City


Here’s one for the “Too much money, Too much horsepower, Too little brains” file.

Once again an idiot celebrity has destroyed an innocent super car with callous disregard. This time the victim is a Lamborghini Murcielago Roadster LP640. (The 640 stands for the horsepower of the car - !)

It has 12 cylinders, cost $353,400, and was seriously damaged in the incident.

Bear’s linebacker Lance Briggs abandoned the car on the Edens Expressway in Chicago shortly after crashing it around 3 a.m. He initially reported the car had been stolen. This has led to speculation he fled the scene to avoid charges of driving while impaired. Right now, there is no evidence to that effect. Or more than speculation that he may have been coming home from a dog fight... At any rate, he needs to be punished!

I’d like to see some public outrage along the lines of Michael Vick here, people!!

One of my favorite bloggers, Jennsylvania,
led the charge to put public pressure on corporations using Vick as a sponsor to drop him after dog fighting charges were filed. Jen actively works to rescue and rehabilitate pit bulls, knowing firsthand the damage that dog fighting can cause. As a sports car aficionado, I would likewise urge others who feel as I do to join me in demanding spoiled celebrities lose custody of their cars once it is proven they don’t deserve them. These vehicles should be then adopted by loving owners who have proven they can care for a fine automobile. You know, people like myself.