Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Tale of an Ungrateful Kitty

Thought for the day:  An invisible man married an invisible woman. Their kids were nothing to look at, either.

I've been poking fun at the English language lately, so I thought about writing a short Ogden Nash-type poem using words ending in ough to make fun of the fact that those words have so many different pronunciations.

Well, as they say, the best-laid plans of mice and men ...

I did write a poem, but it isn't Ogden Nash short. (or Ogden Nash clever) Has some ough words in it, but I ended up having more fun telling the tale than fulfilling the original premise. So, here it is, a silly little poem. It's based on a true story, and although I got away with batting my eyes back then, I was young, lithe, and lovely at the time. I'm afraid if I tried to pull that stunt now, my hubby would haul me off to the eye doctor.

A Silly Little Poem

'Twas one in the morning, I vow,
When I heard a cat meow from a bough.
High up in a tree,
He seemed helpless to me.
Begged I, "Please get him down now."

With a frown, my man gave a cough,
Said, "No need to get the cat off.
He made his way up;
He can make his way down."
And I batted my eyes, sure enough.

'Twas sleeting and icy, so rough,
But my sweetie, so tender, so tough,
Climbed up on our ladder,
But that didn't matter;
To the cat, it wasn't enough.

The cat pulled back out of reach;
My man yelled, "Son of a beech!"
He stretched a bit more
To the kitty so poor,
And the cat gave a God-awful screech.

'Twas dark, so I couldn't quite see,
But the cat came tearing past me.
He'd run down my sweetie
And clawed off some meatie,
So I figured in trouble I'd be.

"No more!" my man roared to me.
"Next time, we leave the cats be.
We don't need no damned ladder;
It just doesn't matter.
Have you ever
Seen bones
In a tree?"

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Me? I think I'll do some editing, and just ...

hang around

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Duplicity of Plurals

 Thought for the day:  If you clean out your odds and ends drawer and only have one thing left in there, is it an odd or an end?

Now, is it I before E except ... 
As promised, we're gonna take another look at the head-scratching complexities of the English language today. Specifically, we're going to talk about plurals. As luck would have it, a friend recently sent me a poem about that very topic, so hey! I'm going with it. This poem does a bang-up job of saying what I wanted to say, so why fight it? And a great big THANK YOU to Cliff in Tennessee for essentially giving me a post-writing day day off.

This poem has been passed around via the Internet, and has appeared on several websites, usually without attribution, but investigation reveals that it may have originally been written as early as the mid 1800s, and the following version, which includes the non-poem parts, is commonly attributed to Eugenie A. Nidia, but as for the date? I haven't a clue.


                                                       An Ode to the English Plural

                                           We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes,
                                            But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
                                            One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
                                            Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
                                            You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
                                            Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

                                            If the plural of man is always called men,
                                            Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
                                            If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
                                            And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
                                            If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
                                            Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

                                             Then one may be that, and there would be those,
                                             Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
                                             And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
                                             We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
                                              But though we say mother, we never say methren.
                                             Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
                                             But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!

 Let's face it - English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple. English muffins weren't invented in England .We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square, and a guinea pig is neither
from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham? Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend? If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it? If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

 Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital? We ship by truck but send cargo by ship... We have noses that run and feet that smell. We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway. And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites? You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out, and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

And in closing, if Father is Pop, how come Mother's not Mop.??????

Well, I think I'll go see what my cats are up to ...

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, June 24, 2011

As Plane as the Knows on Your Phase

Thought for the day:  If ministers get defrocked, do electricians get delighted? And musicians, denoted?

One of the things amateur radio operators do is relay messages. Although the nature of those messages has changed since the early 1900s, one thing that hasn't changed is the importance, particularly during times of emergency, of efficiently and accurately delivering the information contained in those messages. In recent years, emergency communicators have also recognized the importance of using  plain English. No radio lingo, no acronyms ... just plain easy-to-understand language. Hams aren't alone in adopting this policy, either. The use of plain English is now mandated for governmental departments and agencies, as well as for emergency response professionals.

So, let's take a closer look at plain English, shall we? I've been a word nerd all my life, but if you think about it, the English language  is a mess. Must be extremely difficult to learn as a second language, and what may be plain to you and me could very well be Greek to someone else.

Consider these:

  • Why is the man who invests all your money called a broker?
  • Howcum the third hand on your watch is called a second hand
  • Hmmm, avoidable. Is that what a bullfighter tries to do?
  • And is relief what trees do in the springtime?
  • How about an eyedropper? Surely, that must mean a clumsy ophthalmologist.
  • And eclipse. Sounds like something a cockney barber does for a living, doesn't it?
  • Oh, and selfish. I'm pretty sure that's what the guy at the seafood market does.
  • And, of course, the classic: Why do we park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?
Still not convinced? Consider these sentences:
  • The nurse wound the bandage around the wound.
  • He could lead quite well if he ever got the lead out. (And, by the way, how did lead get in there in the first place?)
  • Betsy Ross, a sewer, fell into the sewer.
  • When I saw the tear in my expensive new dress, I shed a tear.
  • Get close to the door so you can close it.
  • The lawyer said, "I object to that object!"
And don't get me started on pluralization! Really. (I believe we'll take an amusing gander at that insanity on Monday ...)

CQ Field Day, CQ field day
Before taking a look at some of the wacko news stories of the week, one additional word about amateur radio. This weekend, amateur radio operators all over the United States will be participating in something we call Field Day. In many areas, set-up will begin this evening, but the actual 24-hour operation period begins tomorrow afternoon. Most, but not all, groups will be set up in  the great outdoors, and will be powering their stations with anything from generators to solar power. The idea is to practice emergency communications, to contact as many other stations as possible, and to have FUN. And ALL are welcome. The public is invited, and if interested, can even operate under the watchful eye of a licensed operator. You can see the unusual antennas used, the wide range of modes, and might even get to hear contacts made via satellite or with the international space station. We LOVE to show people ... especially youngsters ... around and "infect" them with the radio bug. Oh, and we hams really like to EAT, so you can probably find yourself some mighty fine grub there, as well. Sound interesting? To see if there's any Field Day activity going on near you, check here

Oh, yeah. One thing I wanted to mention before looking at the news. There was a very interesting obituary in our newspaper last week. The gentleman, one Harry Bernstein, died at the ripe old age of 101. The obit says he wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of forty books in his lifetime, but destroyed most of them after receiving rejection notices from publishers. And here's the thing: at the age of NINETY-SIX, his memoir "The Invisible Wall" was published. And at the age of NINETY-EIGHT, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to pursue his writing ... and wrote three more books!

So again, I tell you ... never, never, NEVER give up!

OK, so now the time has come to look at the (ta DA!)

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

***  Find a penny, pick it up, and all the day, you'll have good luck. Ever say that when you were a kid? I still do. (But if the penny is tails up when I find it, I always flip it over, and leave it for the next person to pocket. I know. Weird, huh?) Anyway, an unemployed jewelry setter has been picking up a lot more than pennies in his spare time. On 47th Street, in what is known as New York's Diamond District, this gentleman has been crawling on his hands and knees, plucking treasures from the pavement cracks with a pair of tweezers. He's found diamond chips, rubies, bits of platinum, and gold fragments, which have earned him more than one thousand dollars in the past two weeks. (Heck, and I'm happy when I find a penny ... )

*** Police suspected a 46-year-old Minnesota woman of shoplifting, and placed her under arrest on other charges. Three days later, while still in jail, she whipped out a $6500 mink coat, which she'd hidden in her underwear. Hmmm, softer than Charmin, but I hope the store dry-cleaned that puppy before putting it back on the rack ...

*** A woman attending a Colorado yoga and music festival, called the Hanuman Festival, got a little more than she bargained for when she went into one of those standard blue port-a-potties. She thought she saw something moving in the tank. So she alerted a security guard, and it turned out, that "something" was a 20-year-old, 6' 8" man. In the tank. With the, uh, stuff you'd expect to find in the tank. The man, shirtless, shoeless, and covered in sewage, fled before he could be arrested. Somehow, I don't think the police tried overly hard to apprehend this fellow, who's wanted on suspicion of making "unlawful sexual contact." I mean, would you have wanted to put him in YOUR back seat?

*** An unemployed North Carolina man entered a bank this week, and gave the teller a note reading, "This is a bank robbery. Please give me one dollar." Then, the polite man, who carried no weapon, sat and waited for the police. This 59-year-old, who has a multitude of serious medical problems, has no medical insurance. After considering his options, he decided jail was the best. He hopes to be sentenced to three years so he can get all the healthcare he needs. If his plan works, I fear we may have a rash of one-dollar robberies all over the country.

Enjoy your weekend, and until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It Takes a Lot of Flapping to Fly

Thought for the day:  Do you think people who jump off bridges in Paris are in Seine?

Have you ever seen an albatross in flight? With their huge wingspans, ranging anywhere from six feet to an unsubstantiated report of more than seventeen feet, when these birds take to the air, their grace and maneuverability are unsurpassed.

But they do have a slight problem with take-offs and landings.

With a wingspan that can be as much as three times their body lengths, their attempts at getting off the ground and back again are awkward, clumsy, and when set to music, as Jack Paar did many years ago, hilarious. Also known as gooney birds because of their awkward antics, these guys run and run and run ... and run ...  with heads bobbing, big clown feet slapping and enormous wings flapping, until you're sure they'll never get off the ground. But after several up-a-little and then boom-back-to-the-ground false starts, with their big feet flopping and wings flapping the whole time, they finally achieve flight. And their landings? Let's just say they aren't so much landings as they are bouncing on their butt crashes.

Yesterday, I was a gooney bird.

As I told y'all on Monday, yesterday afternoon was my first writers' group meeting. Since I'm rather directionally challenged, my sweet hubby drove me to the meeting place on Sunday, in kind of a recon mission, so I could find my way there yesterday without burning a whole tank of  gas, and manage to make it back home in time to put his dinner on the table. (He's no fool.)

So yesterday, I got my favorite notebook and pen ready, and printed out some of my writing to share with the group. Decided to go with the prologue to my WIP, since no one had read it before, and I figured any input would be fresh, and hopefully, helpful. Took a shower. Put on shorts with an honest-to-God waist band and shoes that didn't go flop flop when I walked . Even swiped my lashes with mascara and put on a dab of lipstick.

I was excited.

Driving to the meeting, I wondered if the others would like me. Wondered if they'd like my writing. With hands sweating and heart pounding, I headed into the building, feeling like a kid on the first day in a new school.

Two hours later, I returned home. Since I'd told my hubby about some errands I planned to run after the meeting, he was surprised to see me so soon.

I announced, "Everybody at the meeting knew me!"

He was like, "Huh?"

"And," I continued, "they were all married to you!"

After another split second of "Huh?" on his face, he got it. Nobody else showed.

Crap. I'm not even a gooney bird. At least THEY eventually achieve lift-off. Me, I just flapped my wings and looked awkward.

I posted a comment on the community website about the writers' group meeting. Got three responses, all apologies, and one sweet comment about how she could "tell I was a writer" because my complaint was so funny. Today, the writers' group page is conspicuously absent from the webpage. So, I don't know if the group will ever be meeting again, or if it's kaput for good. (sigh)

You know, all writers are a bit like gooney birds. It takes a lot of running and flapping to get our careers off the ground. Even though we may make some false starts, we've got to keep on running, and got to keep on flapping if we want to succeed. After all, the flight is such a beautiful thing to behold, and well worth the effort. Heck,  I'm not even worried about crash landing. I've got plenty of padding.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lazy Days and Ducklings

Thought for the day:  Why waste six days while waiting to celebrate the seventh? TGI Fridays isn't only open one day a week.   

Yesterday, my husband and I took a walk at Jones Bridge Park. Usually, activity at this bustling park is  concentrated around the soccer fields, playgrounds and wide-open spaces, but yesterday, few people braved those sun-baked areas. Instead, most chose to congregate beneath the shade trees and pavilions,  where their grills filled the air with the enticing aromas of Oriental and Hispanic cooking, as well as good ol' American hot dogs and hamburgers. And more than we've ever seen before, people were beside ... and in ... the river.

The Chattahoochee fairly races past this park, bubbling over and around large boulders, dancing in mesmerizing eddies and then resting in small still pools. It's not unusual to see someone sitting out on one of those big rocks, watching the water and the world go by, or to see a couple rafts or kayaks maneuvering around them. It also isn't unusual to see one or two hip boot-wearing trout fishermen in the water, flicking their lines. And year round, no matter how cold or how hot it is, this place is normally a fowl-filled haven for ducks and Canadian geese galore.

But not yesterday. Yesterday, the bone-chilling  river was positively teeming with people. Kids playing under the watchful eyes of their parents. Couples sun-bathing on the rocks. At least a dozen fisherman. One couple encouraging their poor shivering pup to swim. It was the most people I've ever seen in the water there at one time. And, undoubtedly not incidental, the fewest fowl.

There were no geese at all, only a handful of ducks, and one adorable duckling. But let me tell you, that little duckling was one big peeper. As though he were singing, that little guy would swim around, peeping his little heart out, the vision of happy. Then, he'd evidently cross some invisible line, known only to his mother, and she'd go after him. While she poked at him with her bill and quacked at him, his peeps would take on a different tone, but once she left him to his own devices, he went back to his happy song again.

Reminded me of bloggers.

As long as Blogger works well for us, we're happy little ducklings. And then something goes wrong. Something doesn't work right. We have trouble posting images, or can't make comments, or can't even access our own blog. It's as though we cross some invisible line, known only to Blogger, and while we're having problems with it, our happy-happy-joy-joy-I-love-Blogger tune changes. Just like that little duck.

I've managed to overcome (knock on wood) the problems I was having with Blogger, so now I'm doing swimmingly again, and peeping a happy tune. Since I know some of you have been having problems, too, I thought I'd make like the mama duck and give y'all a gentle nudge in the right direction.

If you haven't already done it, I'd highly encourage you to install  Google's

It's free, it's easy to install, and it works seamlessly with Blogger. Once I installed it, my problems with posting images became a thing of the past. However, even after switching to Chrome, I still had one lingering problem that was about to drive me nuts. I was having trouble posting comments on my own blog. Instead of showing the normal prompt signal, the only thing it would give me was a silly little dot or squiggle, and trying to type anything into the comment box only resulted in more of those dots and squiggles. Frustrating, right? Somebody's kind enough to leave a comment on your blog, and you can't respond at first attempt ... or second ... or tenth. Then I stumbled upon the solution. Now, I have no earthly idea why this works for me, but it does. Now, if I get that tiny little mark instead of the proper prompt, I simply click in the comment box on an earlier post. For whatever reason, the older comment box yields the correct prompt. Once I get that, I can go back to the newer post, and proceed without a problem. And I'm a happy little duckling once again.

How about you? Have you found solutions to your problems with Blogger? And by the way, how do you track the statistics, like what searches lead people to your blog? For those of us (ahem  ME) who haven't quite figured it out, please ... do tell!

Tomorrow afternoon, I'm going to visit a local writers' group. I have no idea how many people attend, or what to expect, but I'm looking forward to it, nonetheless. And I'll tell you all about it on Wednesday.

Until then, take care of yourselves. And each other.

one cool chick

Friday, June 17, 2011

In Honor of Toasted Marshmallows

Thought for the day:  Howcum a man can wait patiently for hours on end for a fish to bite, and can wait patiently in the freezing cold for hours on end, waiting for a deer to come by, but can't tolerate so much as a ten minute wait for food in a restaurant ... where it's a sure thing?

You probably wouldn't be surprised to know the highest volume of long distance phone calls always occurs on Mother's Day. Not that there aren't plenty made on Father's Day, too. But most of them are collect. Why is it moms get the thoughtful gifts, while dads can usually count on getting aftershave or yet another tie he'll never wear? And when Father's Day rolls around, why do the kids think it's okay to buy dear old Dad something from the discount bin at the Dollar Store, and what's more, pay for it with change left over from the cash he gave them to buy something really nice for Mother's Day? As Bill Cosby put it, "Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is 'soap-on-a-rope'."

Just because the phrase, "Pull my finger" is in the lexicon of  fathers worldwide doesn't mean they aren't as sentimental as mothers. They just don't show it as easily. Very often, they're like toasted marshmallows: crusty on the outside, and all sweet and mushy on the inside.

In honor of Father's Day, I'd like to share some excerpts with you from an article you may have seen before. "Geezers" has appeared countless places without attribution, but as best I could discern, it may have been written in 2001 by a West Virginia chaplain by the name of Koren Fae Rawlings:

Geezers are easy to spot. At parades, they're the ones standing a little taller and often saluting when the flag passes by. At sporting events and at ceremonies on national holidays, they're the ones who stand erect and hold their hands over their hearts when the national anthem is played.

If you bump into an old geezer on the sidewalk, he'll apologize. Pass a geezer on the street, and he'll nod, maybe say hello. Geezers trust strangers and are courtly toward women. They hold the door for the next person, and always, when walking, make sure the lady is on the inside.

Geezers have moral courage. They're the ones staring down those making offensive remarks or acting in an offensive manner. Geezers seldom brag unless it's about their grandchildren.

This country needs geezers. We need their decent values and their common sense. We need their breadth of experience, their depth of knowledge and high ideals.

Thank God for all Old Geezers.

And thank God for fathers.

Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years." And Charles Wadsworth said, "By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he's wrong."

So give your dad a break. Even if he's not the affectionate sort, and his last hug felt more like a wrestling hold, let him know how much you appreciate him. Because he may not tell you how to live, but he lives, and lets you watch him do it.

To all you fathers, a very happy Father's Day. And to all of you who still have fathers, go ahead ... make him happy.  Pull his finger.

And now, 'tis time for the (ta DA!)

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

Pull my hoof
Cows have taken a bit of heat for the amount of methane they produce, and some countries have even considered imposing a "methane tax" on the people who own them. In 2008, researchers in Argentina hooked cows to the bizarre-looking contraption on the left to collect their methane, quantify it, and ascertain how much it contributed to the country's greenhouse emissions. As it turned out, they contribute quite a bit. Final results indicated that as much as 30% of the country's greenhouse emissions consist of cow farts and burps.

*** Now, the Australian government is taking a hard sniff at camel belches. With an estimated 1.2 million feral camels roaming the outback, each belching approximately one hundred gaseous pounds of methane every year, that racks up to a global warming impact equivalent to 1.1 tons of carbon dioxide. Per camel. The recent legislative proposal would allow sharpshooters to earn carbon credits by killing camels, and then these credits would subsequently be sold to global polluters to offset their own emissions. Bureaucrats are expected to reach a decision on this proposal by the end of the year.

I'd walk a mile for a roll of Tums.

***  The city of Nederland, Colorado, is offering to sell the celebratory rights for ... a dead man. When 89-year-old Bredo Mortoel died, his family decided to preserve his body, in hopes of one day being able to bring him back to life. So his body,  packed in dry ice, resides in an outdoor shed, and for the past ten years, this small mountain town has been celebrating this deceased man on ice with an annual festival, replete with a parade of hearses, frozen salmon tossing, and coffin races. Believe it or not, it's been a very popular festival, but you know how the economy is. The Chamber of Commerce says the festival has simply become too expensive, so they're trying to sell the rights to it, and hope an event company will step up to keep this unusual festival going.

*** Ever wonder what those Scotsmen wear under their kilts? The answer became clear for recent groom Angus McClure, who sat his kilt-clad bottom on his new bride's knee. Unfortunately, his bare and poorly-wiped bottom left a brown "skid mark" on her pristine gown. Let's just say she wasn't at all impressed. In fact, she decked him, and a knock-down, drag-out, free-for-all followed. Police say they've seen nasty wedding party brawls before, but none quite this nasty. Seven people were hauled off to jail. The bride and groom? Once they sobered up, the report is they reconciled, and fortunately, have no memory of the melee. Let's hope no one took pictures.

Have a wonderful Father's Day. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

American History and an Unlikely Hero

Thought for the day:  The moon is always full, even if you only see a sliver.

Not to sound like an old poop, but what kind of education are our children getting these days? It's no secret that American students have been lagging students in other countries in subjects like mathematics and science for a number of years, but according to data released yesterday by the U.S. Education Department, their grasp of  history is circling the drain, too.

I will grant you that young people today easily use and evidently understand a plethora of hi-tech devices and gadgets that weren't even in existence when I was in school, but isn't it troubling that in a recent test,  only 12% of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency in American history? And what' s even more discouraging is that this is approximately the same sorry level of proficiency shown by high school seniors when the test was last administered five years ago. In addition, fourth-graders and eighth-graders also did poorly, showing proficiency rates of 20% and 17%, respectively. Sure, I'll also grant you that there was (ahem) a helluva lot less history to learn when I was in school, but achieving a basic understanding of history, not to mention geography, math, literature and science, SHOULD be a given in our public schools. And it concerns me that it isn't.

Let me add a caveat here after the fact. I am in no way intending offense to any teachers, parents, or students. I am merely passing comment on the latest results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress testing. The percentage of students who passed these tests is appallingly low. I'm not passing judgement as to why that's the case, only that it is the case. 

Although today's teens may know more about the latest American Idol than they do about our American presidents, I'll betcha they all know something about a certain Representative Anthony Weiner. Unfortunately, we ALL know much more about America's latest "folk hero" than we ever wanted to know. For those of you who live beyond American soil, this foolish man rocketed into our collective consciousness when pictures he took of himself and then sent to a number of young ladies came to light. When the first round of photos became public, he tried to tell us he "couldn't say with a certitude" that it was his underwear in those pictures, and that someone had obviously "hacked his twitter account". Not an easy position to maintain, however, when the next round of pics came out, because unfortunately for him, they showed his face. Not to mention other anatomical parts. Got the (ahem) picture?

Now, I wasn't planning to write anything about him. I really wasn't. I mean, what can you say about a politician whose current claim to fame is wiggling his (ahem) weiner at young women via twitter and facebook? But after reading this morning's newspaper, I simply cannot resist.

                                     Would you believe there is now an action figure in his likeness?

That's right, people. Called Little Anthony, the figure is offered by the Connecticut-based online company and is available in two different versions. One, which can be posed in all kinds of possible photo op positions, is going for $39.95, but for a mere ten dollars more, you can purchase the more anatomically correct "adult" version. (One can only speculate as to what kind of "action" this model demonstrates.) Both versions are clad in underwear, with the words Tweet this emblazoned on the shorts.

Not into dolls, you say? Fear not. Everybody wears tee shirts. Now, you too can own your very own Weiner tee shirt. Here you can find shirts with such unforgettable logos as

  • Tweet your meat, lose your seat! 
  • A bigger weiner than Dick Nixon
  • Don't tweet your meat
and, to be a little different, 
  • Junk mail
And here you can find shirts with such logos as
  • Try not to trip over my weiner   and
  • I can't say with certitude that this is my shirt
I mean, you've gotta love the enterprising spirit of America, don't ya? It seems that no matter what happens, somebody in this great country comes up with a tee shirt to mark the occasion. So we've pretty much come to expect the tasteless tee shirts, but how about some genuine Weiner condoms??? I kid you not. About these only-available-for-a-limited-time condoms, the webpage says, Sure to last longer than his marriage.

I'm sorry.

It isn't very kind to pick on someone when he's down. After all, Weiner claims to be going into treatment, so perhaps I should show a little more charity and compassion toward him than our late night comedians have shown. But I ask you, exactly what kind of treatment is available for what ails this man? The best I can tell, his only remorse is over getting caught, and I suspect he rather likes the notion of an action figure in his image. 

For our students of today, there is always opportunity to further their education. For politicians like Weiner, all I can say is, You can't fix stupid.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lucky Sevens

Thought for the day:  Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change our world.   Buddha

Well, I don't know if seven is actually lucky or not, but it's a pretty darned good number for me today, because this particular seven means I'm not scraping the bottom of my mind to come up with a topic for today's post. The delightful Ruby of Blabbin' Grammy has tapped me on the shoulder again, passed on a couple of awards, and provided me with a made-to-order seven-pronged topic. All I have to do is tell you seven things you don't already know about me, and then pass the challenge on to three other bloggers. Here are the awards:

Pretty cool, huh? (Now, you're all hoping I pick YOU for these awards, right?)

Most bloggers simply write seven brief statements to fulfill the "rules of the game," and then go on to the "real" subject of their post for the day, and that's fine, but I'm gonna cheat. Instead of simply spitting them out and going on to something else, I'm gonna expand on them a bit, and let that serve as today's subject(s). (See? Lucky!)

So, here we go.

1.  The poor wasp was trapped in a mud puddle, alive, but just barely, and his infrequent movements were feeble and ineffective. So I did what seemed like a great idea to my 8-year-old mind. Scooped him out of the water, cradled him in the palm of my hand, and gently blew on him to dry his fragile wings. Worked, too. Before he flew away, I'd like to say he thanked me somehow. I'd like to say he did an intricate little butt-wiggling wasp dance just for me, but he actually did exactly what wasps are wont to do. The little ingrate stung me. It didn't make me regret helping him, but it did serve to deliver me an early warning: Do whatever good you can in life, but be prepared to receive the occasional sting.

2. As part of my job in medical research, I used to operate on mice. How cool is that? We had tiny wooden operating tables with an eye bolt on each corner, so we could secure all four limbs. Ether was administered from a soaked swatch of gauze inside of a tiny beaker, which rested over the mouse's snout. Really cool. Also used to make periodic trips to the local abatoir to pick up the occasional bucket of cow eyes on ice. ("Why, yes, I'll have them to go, thank you ...") And to the morgue to pick up various specimens. (No wonder I have such a weird sense of humor!)

3. I used to be an avid bowler, and at one time, bowled on three leagues every week, two handicapped, and one scratch. Best game I ever rolled was a 261, but I blew the game by opening in the tenth frame. Only needed a mediocre score in the third game that night to break my first 600 series, but I didn't do it. Barely managed to break a hundred. That's me ...  Mrs. Consistent. One interesting lesson I gleaned from bowling, though. My average was always higher in the scratch league than it was in the handicapped ones. Perhaps it's human nature to rise to the level of one's competition? Or maybe if we expect more of ourselves, we're more likely to deliver.

4. For my fortieth birthday, a bunch of our fabulous friends pooled their money to treat me to a glamour make-over with Liz Claibourne. Yeah, I know, right? What awesome friends! Anyway, this make-over included a hair cut and style, massage, manicure, facial and make-up, the whole works. Even got a fancy schmancy lunch, complete with a flower and glass of wine. Talk about pampered! When the overhaul was complete, I barely recognized myself. The areas above my eyes and upper lip were blood red and sore as all get-out, thanks to the oh-so-delightful waxing Ms. Claibourne recommended. (Never, never, NEVER again!) Looked like the make-up had been smeared on with a trowel, but hey! It was different! The hairdo was a bit fussier than my usual  run-a-comb-through-it-and-go style, and it was as stiff and hard as a motorcycle helmet. But again, different. Before I left, the people who'd worked so hard on me all day wanted to know where I was going that night to show off my new look. To tell the truth, I'm not sure they believed me, but what can I say? It was bowling night.

5. A friend and I broke my parents' bed by jumping on it. She (the chicken!) headed for the back door, and I headed to the basement to find some nails. The monsters I hammered into that bed frame were four inches long or better, and I used a mess of them, too. Fixed that bed but good. But unfortunately ...  not for long. In the middle of the night, a loud KABOOM came from my parents' bedroom. When the cursing started, I didn't exactly wet myself, but I did lay in my bed with eyes wide and heart pounding, saying my we-who-are-to-die prayers. But ...  nothing happened. Even when they discovered those ridiculously over-sized nails, they never ever suspected me. Years later, I finally told them the truth. I was married, had a kid, and figured the statute of limitations should have me in the clear by then. Besides, I was moving seven hundred miles away the next day.

6. I took two belly dancing courses. I know. Shocking, right? The first turned out to be more of an exercise class than anything, but it was fun. The instructor claimed that in the next semester's advanced class, we'd make costumes, learn an actual routine, and then perform at the nursing home. Didn't happen. It was another fun class, but it was merely a continuation of the first. No costumes. No routine. And no nursing home, which, in retrospect, is probably a very good thing.

7. Our church group DID visit the local nursing home. The idea was to throw them a St. Patty's Day party, and I was drafted to serve as the entertainment. No, I didn't jiggle my belly at them. I played the guitar and sang,  mostly Irish songs, but also a liberal sprinkling of old-time tunes and hymns, as well. While I was singing one of the old hymns, I couldn't help but notice the gentleman who was sitting there with his eyes half-closed, and tears streaming down his face. Concerned that I'd upset him somehow, I spoke with him later. Turned out he was a retired minister, and hadn't heard that hymn in many, many years. So, his tears were those of joy and remembrance. (which is more than I can say if I'd been performing my klutzy version of a belly dance!)

Well, there ya have it. And now,  I'd like to pass the two lovely awards, along with the request to tell us seven things about themselves, to DeloresJulie, and Skippy The ball's in your court, ladies!

How about the rest of you? If you don't have any comments to make about MY seven secrets, how about sharing at least one thing about yourself?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Crack Cream, Anyone?

Thought for the day:  Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even when you wish they were.

Is there a song that momentarily transforms you when you hear it? For me, that song is Steppenwolf's Born to Be Wild. Who cared if I was actually driving around a bunch of kids in my old station wagon when that song came on the radio? All it took was the first couple of notes, and suddenly, my face changed, and my attitude changed. I was no longer mild-mannered, boring old MOM; I was a bad-assed wild woman tooling around in a '56 Chevy, or zooming on a Harley, or zipping around in a snazzy Corvette convertible. Funny thing is, I still want to belt it out and feel the wind in my hair whenever I hear that 1968 song, but there's another newer version now, and it's a bit more befitting of my age. (Damn it.)

 Check it out.

In Wednesday's post, I listed a bunch of books with some rather interesting titles. Just in case any of you would be interested in purchasing some of them for your very own, here ya go:  do it  After all, without a copy of The History of Sh*t, how can you possibly consider your library complete?

Haven't had enough weird books yet? Looking for an unusual gift for a young reader? The lovely Dianne Salerni alerted us to an hysterical list of creepiest children's books . Some of my favorites on this Huffington Post list are:

  • The Pocket Book of Boners   (an omnibus of school boy howlers and unconscious humor)
  • It Hurts When I Poop!   ( a story for children who are afraid to use the potty)
  • Where Willy Went   (the BIG story of a little sperm)
  • The Long Journey of Mister Poop   (The cover is hysterical. It shows Mister Poop, or Senor Caca, clad in a beret and plaid golf pants. And YES, Mister Poop IS exactly what you think it is!)

So, thanks Dianne, for sharing that with us. If you guys want to see the other books on this list, check the link. (Where ... bonus! bonus! can ALSO find some of Sarah Palin's greatest quotes.)

Last week, I couldn't help but notice a tube of ointment on the shelf at the pharmacy. I mean, how could anyone miss it? It was called Crack Cream. Now, I'm sorry, this may be a fantastic product, but that name positively slayed me. I was giggling like a 2-year-old while trying to convince my better half to purchase that particular product, but alas, failed to convince him of the need.

Anyway, seeing that unusual product name made me curious as to what other weirdo names the market had to offer.  Found some, too. Although this is a list that admittedly belongs on Tawna Fenske's blog, remember ... you saw it here first. Consider whether or not you'd like to put any of THESE products into your shopping cart:

  • Trailer Trash eye pencil
  • Deep Throat blush
  • Fat Girl scrub
  • Udder Cream
  • Urban Decay beauty products  (how about some "roach" eyeshadow?)
  • Pedro's Lip Schit
  • Anti-Monkey Butt Powder
  • Boudreaux Butt Paste
  • Nads hair remover
  • Cat Crap  (an anti-fog for ski goggles)

and my favorite:
  • Chicken Poop lip balm   (Allegedly, when a gal whined about her chapped lips, her crusty old grandfather told her to smear 'em with chicken poop so she'd stop licking them. Ergo, the name. Don't know how good the product is, but um, maybe it'd sound a little better if they called it Eagle Poop? Uh, no. Never mind. A rose is a rose is a rose ... and poop ...  is poop ...  is poop.)
OK, it is once again time for the (ta-DA!)

Weirdest News Stories of the Week

* Proving that my post about the importance of a name may not be complete drivel after all, a gentleman in Britain may have tempted the fates when he recently purchased a second-hand, 16-foot cabin cruiser. She may have been a beauty, but she also sank when he took her out for her maiden voyage. The cruiser's name? Titanic II. 
* In compliance with his country's Freedom of Information laws, an Australian newspaper reporter petitioned the Department of Defense to provide him with copies of their X-files. After a fruitless two-month scramble to find them,  Defense finally had to admit that their reports of UFO sightings and other paranormal occurrences had (shhhhh) disappeared. (Abducted, perhaps?)
* The bride wore ... green? Oh, no, my mistake. Indeed, she wore a lovely white gown, but her FACE was green. Painted green, that is, and covered in 192 piercings. In 2000, when this Scottish lass was officially deemed by Guinness World Records to be the "most pierced", Elaine Davidson had but a mere 462 piercings, but she now boasts 6925 ...  including 1500 internal ones, which weigh in at nearly seven pounds. (Think her favorite kind of music is Heavy Metal?)
* To encourage the Chinese people to go vegetarian, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has been dressing an actress in ... salad. And holding the actual dressing, I presume. So rather than merely going green, this young lady has been going greens. Oh, and by the way, my husband and I are also members of PETA, only for us, it stands for People Eating Tasty Animals. Like Sarah Palin said, If God had not wanted us to eat animals, how come He made them out of meat?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Name Game

Thought for the day:  It was a matter of destiny: the streaker's name was Seymour Cheeks.

Gildersleeve, Gildersleeve, wherefore art thou, Gildersleeve?

The fair Juliet declared, What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Easy for her to say. Do you think she would've been half as cavalier about the irrelevance of a name if she'd been saddled with an onerous moniker like Bertha or Broomhilda? And I ask you, could even the great Shakespeare himself have waxed poetic about a damsel in distress if her name were Boobs Galore? (Sincere apologies to any readers named Bertha, Broomhilda, or Boobs.)

Gertrude Stein said, A rose is a rose is a rose, and even good ol' Popeye said, I yam what I yam. If things ARE what they ARE, does it really matter a rat's derriere what you choose to CALL them?

Well, yeah. I think so.

Would a bouquet of roses bestow the same romantic connotation if they were called ... fartflowers? Or suppose that lovely bunch of Mums your beloved gave you were called ...  Ugly Mamas?

Ahhhh ... Smell the Fartflowers!
True, the name or description of an object can't actually alter its essential substance, but it can ... and does ... alter our perception of it. Intellectually, we may adhere to the adage, "Never judge a book by its cover," but in reality, we tend to do just that.

Consider this:

You're exhausted, and judging by the crowd in the doctor's anteroom, a long wait stretches in front of you. Standing on your aching feet is not an attractive option, and there are only two empty seats in the room. One is beside a shabbily-dressed old gentleman with shaggy hair and scruffy beard, who is slumped in his chair, muttering to himself. The other is next to a clean-cut, GQ-looking young man, who looks right at you and smiles. (Or for you men, a shapely young woman with a sexy smile.) Where would you sit? Not gonna pull any made-up statistics out of my (ahem) ear, but where do you think most people would sit?

It's human nature. And understanding that tidbit of human nature puts potential power into our hot little pen-holding hands. When a writer (or speaker) understands the basic concept of perception, he can use it to his advantage and manipulate the crap out of it. 

Take the example of the waiting room. Before a writer brings that poor unsuspecting foot-sore patient into that room, suppose he fleshes out the people sitting beside those empty chairs. Suppose the shabby-looking fellow is a sweet, gentle, lonely soul who's grieving deeply for his wife, and Mr. G.Q. (or Ms. Luscious) is an evil Jeffrey Daumer wannabe. How's that going to change the reader's response when the innocent newcomer considers sitting beside the Daumer copycat?

Titles, names, and appearances DO matter. All of them evoke involuntary psychological  responses, and when we have an active awareness and anticipation of those responses, we wield some control over them through the power of our words. A great book title has the potential to attract a casual browser. Ditto a great-looking cover. Character names carry a certain weight. Names can be perceived as weak, strong, silly, or whatever. Descriptions can be used to reinforce a stereotype, or to mask something shocking and unexpected. Subtle nuances of word choice evoke a huge difference in both perception and reaction.  

Or not. On one hand, I think word choice and title choice can make a big difference. But on the other, if the following book titles have been published (and they have!) maybe titles don't matter at all. Consider:

Beats exploding, I suppose.
Okeydoke, then.

About a master debater?

The only game our cats play is hide and go sleep.

the perfect gift for the grandkids?

guess you have to be Catholic first, right?

  The author's name should be Lucy Bowels.


there's a reason it's a lost art

um, why bother?

stool softener helps

no comment

not cuddly anymore, huh?

And here's some more actual book titles to consider:
  • The Pop-Up Book of Phobias
  • Scouts in Bondage
  • Be Bold With Bananas
  • 101 Uses for Tampon Applicators
  • Suture Self   (Now, I LIKE this one!)
  • How to Make Love While Conscious
  • Up Sh*t Creek: a collection of horrifying true wilderness toilet misadventures
  • The History of Sh*t
  • First You Take a Leek
  • The Romance of Proctology
  • Heave Ho: My Little Green Book of Seasickness
  • More Balls Than Hands  (ahem ... about juggling)
  • Postmortem Collectibles
  • Knitting With Dog Hair
  • Last Chance at Love: Terminal Romances
  • The Book of Lesbian Horse Stories
  • Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank and Other Words of Delicate Southern Wisdom
And finally, my own personal favorite:
  • Get Your Tongue Out Of My Mouth, I'm Kissing You Good-Bye

How about you? Do you think titles matter? Come across any doozies lately?

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Secrets to Spinning a Believable Tale

Thought for the day:  If you can't win 'em over with facts, dazzle 'em with malarkey.  

Ever catch any of Judge Judy's shows on TV? She's a little bit of a thing in a lace-collared robe who sits behind her bench banging her gavel, screeching at people, and waggling her finger at them. She's feisty and funny as all get-out at times, but I've seen enough snippets of her in action to know I wouldn't ever want to face her in court. I can just imagine how that would go. She'd be screeching, "Button your mouth, ma'am! I'm not interested in hearing what you think! Just tell me exactly what happened." And she'd probably laugh me right out of the courtroom if I tried to explain my trips into fantasy by telling her I'm a writer. But I ask you, don't writers have a certain latitude when it comes to spinning our tales? Hmmmmph.  Not to Judge Judy, because that lady has a built-in Malarkey-o-Meter the size of Montana.

I dunno. There's something about her that rubs me the wrong way. Strident? Oh yeah, but it isn't that. And did I happen to mention she screeches? That's a real nerve-grater, for sure, but it isn't that, either. She's just too darned ... how shall I put this? She's too doggoned judgmental! I mean, who made HER the judge of all she sees? Oh. Yeah. (ahem) Never mind.

Anyway, Judge Judy wrote a book with one of the best titles of all time. It's called, Don't Pee on My Leg and Tell Me It's Raining. Priceless, isn't it? Or maybe worth, say, sixty-four thousand dollars, anyway.

And the sixty-four thousand dollar question for the day is : HOW do we writers make our readers believe we're tinkling rain??? HOW do we make the implausible plausible, the insurmountable surmountable, and the outrageous the norm? To find the answer, let's take a gander at the gurus of garbage, those writers with unsurpassed skills in turning tripe into something that passes for "truth." I have no names for these people, but believe me, their skills are vast. I'm talking about those nameless instigators who post something on the Internet and then sit back with smirks on their faces, while their post turns viral and essentially morphs from fabrication into fact.

WOW.  How can WE harness those skills? I suggest to you ...

Three simple steps:

  • Include a smattering of verifiable facts in your writing. It'll demonstrate how smart you are, and establish you as an authority.
  • Write with confidence and authority. In fact, if you demonstrate ample confidence and authority, you don't have to concern yourself with facts at all.
  • Never be afraid to address hot-button topics. In fact, embrace them, baby. Any segment of society with a strong enough bias about any given topic will gladly believe whatever you tell them, as long as it reinforces the beliefs and hatreds they already harbor. As for facts? Pffffft. Don't need 'em. When readers go all Judge Judy on a topic, they're in danger of developing a serious medical condition known as psychosclerosis. Otherwise known as hardening of the attitude, this is not a fatal condition, but has been known to kill conversations and end relationships. (So, how'd I do with that one? Make your malarkey-o-meter tingle?)

OK, so we're not really interested in manipulating the minds of our readers, but you gotta admit, it's downright phenomenal how successful others have become at doing just that, thanks to the viral potential of the Internet. For some reason,  people who wouldn't dream of turning to the National Enquirer as a source for the latest news have no problem believing an article they find on Wikipedia or within a zillion-times forwarded email they receive from a friend. (Would you believe a new error-laden fourth grade social studies textbook entitled Our Virginia, Past and Present had to be recalled earlier this year because the writer of said textbook gleaned her erroneous "facts" from the Internet?)

Seems to me, we should all learn, not necessarily to be Judge Judy-ish, but at least to learn to take the things we read with a grain of salt. But oh, what we write, now that's another story. We don't WANT our readers to reach for the salt shaker. We want to spin locations, characters, and stories that are so well-seasoned and believable, no extra salt is ever needed. How can we do that? Let's backtrack to those three steps:

  • By all means, weave verifiable facts into your story. Unless you're creating a fantasy world that defies our laws of physics, it's best not to buck science. Two examples where writers tried to do just that: In one book, the good guy electrocuted the bad guy by tossing an old capacitor (that he'd been carrying in his pocket for decades) into the sink while the bad guy was washing his hands. WOOP! WOOP! WOOP! Ain't gonna happen. In the second case, the damsel in distress successfully prevents her pursuers from following her by removing the valve stems from the tires of their car ... and thereby flattening the tires! More WOOP! WOOP! 
  • Writing with confidence and authority is always a good bet, even if you have to fake it. (Also known as flying with the eagles when we feel like a chicken on the inside.)
  • And finally, the hot-button topics. Well, that's up to you. Some excellent books have been written about some of these topics, and they've been written with great sensitivity and intelligence. And I already know that all of you have sensitivity and intelligence out the wazoo, right? Now, I'm no Judge Judy, but if you DO tackle one of these hot potatoes, please rely on verifiable facts, okay?

After all, too much salt isn't good for anyone.

So, what do you think it takes to make a reader believe what he reads? Have you read anything that dispels that belief by trying to suspend the laws of science? Do tell, do tell.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Open Up Them Wings, Baby!

Thought for the day:  Just because you're sitting  in a garage doesn't mean you're an automobile.

It's too hot for a heavy meal, but how about a little food for thought? The following is loosely based on a story written by  James Agreey, entitled The Parable of the Eagle.

While traipsing through the woods one day, a farmer happened upon an eaglet, which he scooped up and carried home with him. He secured the young bird in the barnyard with his chickens, and before long, the eagle learned how to walk and squawk like a chicken, and to peck chicken feed from the ground.

A naturalist stopped by one day and demanded to know why the king of birds was confined to a barnyard and scratching around in it like a common chicken. The farmer claimed the bird was now a chicken. He'd been raised like a chicken and never taught to fly, so he was, in fact,  no longer an eagle. But (naturally) the naturalist insisted the bird still had the heart of an eagle, and could surely be taught to fly. And should be. Finally, the farmer agreed to let the naturalist try.

The naturalist picked up the eagle, and told him, "You're meant to be the king of the sky. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

But the eagle was frightened. He looked back at all his chicken friends pecking corn from the ground, and jumped down to join them.

The next day, the naturalist tried again, and took the eagle up to the roof. Again, he told him, "You're an eagle, the king of the skies. Stretch forth your wings and fly!"

But once again, the frightened bird jumped back down to the safety of the chicken yard.

The third day, the naturalist carried the bird to a nearby mountain. He held the eagle high above him, and said, "You are an eagle, the king of the skies. Spread forth your wings, and fly!"

The bird hesitated at first. He looked back toward the farm, back to the only life he knew. Then he trembled, stretched his mighty wings, and with a triumphant cry, soared into the sky.

It's possible the eagle sometimes misses the chickens; he may even visit the barnyard once in a while for old time's sake. But as far as anyone knows, he's still living as an eagle, the king of the skies.

How about you? Are you still hanging around in the barnyard because you're too frightened to stretch your wings? Never let someone else's definition of you and your capabilities prevent you from trying. Because, you too, are an eagle, and you owe it to yourself to fly. Schoolchildren aren't the only ones with untapped potential.

Before we go on to the Weird News Stories of the Week, let's take a glimpse at a couple other items worth mentioning:

  • Don't get too comfortable with the fact that the Apocalypse didn't happen on May 21, because now preacher Harold Camping says he merely miscalculated. Now he says the big day to end all big days is coming on October 21.
  • Residents of Cordova, Alabama are struggling to put their lives back together following the tornadoes that destroyed so many of their homes, but their I-sincerely-doubt-if-he'll-be-reelected mayor has opted to heap insult on top of their injuries. He just said NO to the temporary housing offered by FEMA's mobile homes. Says they're single-wide, and according to local ordinance, illegal within their city limits. Guess he doesn't have a problem with people living in tents.
  • For those of you writing e-books, the New York Times now has a separate listing on their best sellers' lists for e-books. Sounds rather encouraging, don't you think?
  • I'm not Jewish, but a recent story in the newspaper about a special bat mitzvah ceremony held  in the Atlanta area caught my eye. Traditionally, this is a coming-of-age ceremony for 13-year-old girls, but the women participating in this particular ceremony ranged in age from their early 40s to early 80s. For whatever reason, they were unable to come of age when they were youngsters, but after completing an intense year of study, these women proved it's never too late to soar. 
OK, here we go, the WEIRD STORIES OF THE WEEK:

***  While enjoying an airboat ride on the Suwannee River in Florida, a young lady unexpectedly crossed paths with a sturgeon. And lost. The sturgeon, between five and six feet long, and weighing approximately seventy pounds, jumped out of the water and into the boat, and unfortunately, broke the damsel's leg in the process. Although some tried to characterize the encounter as as "attack", it wasn't. Nothing personal, lady. Sturgeons jump. That's what they do. Three days earlier, the state issued a warning about the potential danger posed to boaters by jumping sturgeon, but now I'm thinking ...  maybe the sturgeon general should've issued one, too.

*** Another Florida story, and this one's about a St. Lucie couple who are serious about their shooting. Most people have a TV in their bedroom, but this couple upped the ante considerably. They have a wood and metal target inside their bedroom closet. Handy when there's nothing good on TV, I suppose. Anyway, neighbors called the police on this freqently fighting couple recently, and when police arrived, the wife said she fired an AR-15 rifle at the target in her future ex-husband's bedroom, missed, killed a washing machine, and accidentally flooded the place. Yes, a considerable amount of alcohol allegedly led to the death of the innocent washing machine.

*** The final story is from Lithuania, where an online survey held by a local radio station indicated Lithuanian men felt the need for a day set aside to honor them. So, the station obliged. They declared a National Men's Day, and to commemorate the auspicious occasion, hosted an unusual swimming competition. Inflatable sex dolls were used as rafts. More than two hundred men registered, but only twenty were selected to participate. And that .... is all I'm gonna say about THAT!

Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Drivel from a Ditzy Dizzy Dame

Thought for the day:  The trouble with bucket seats is everybody doesn't have the same sized bucket.

Is the world spinning, or is it just me?
I never much cared for rides that spin you around. I dunno; maybe I inherited my poor grandmother's propensity for sea sickness, but what I do know is I don't like that nauseating feeling of being wobbly and off-balance. But I AM learning to live with it.

For more than a month, I've been fighting tinnitus and vertigo.What cracks me up is that one of the side effects of the medication the doctor prescribed is  ... dizziness. Swell, right? So, while most people have to imbibe multiple adult beverages to lurch around the room like a fool, all I have to do is stand up. Essentially, I'm getting the buzz without the booze. So, at least for now, I truly am a dizzy dame. And feeling rather ditzy, to boot. So if I ramble even more than usual today, sorry 'bout that.

Here we are, the first day of June. We surpassed ninety degrees multiple times in May, and today's supposed to be the hottest day so far this year. So, I ask you ... HOW

IS IT ????

  • Chickens are laying hard-cooked eggs.
  • Hot water is coming out of both taps.
  • Birds are using pot holders to get worms out of the ground.
  • The worms are crunchy.
  • Cows are giving evaporated milk.
  • Seat belt buckles can double as branding irons.
  • Sun tea can be made instantly.
  • Parking lot asphalt is sticky.
  • Trees are whistling for the dogs.
In spite of the heat, we'll be using our new charcoal grill today. And it's all our son-in-law's fault.

A couple weeks ago, he promised us the best pork chops we'd ever eaten in our entire lives. And he delivered. Big time. So much so that we went to Wally World and bought a charcoal grill just so we could reproduce them at home. And tonight's the night. 

And, what's more, I'm going to tell YOU the secrets to making these fabulous chops! Believe me, they will be the BEST, I promise you, the BEST you've ever tasted. The recipe came from the pages of the August, 2009 Cook's illustrated magazine. The magazine calls them, "Really Good Grill-Smoked Pork Chops", but they lie. NOT "really good." The B-E-S-T. 
  • Grill preparation: You'll want a disposable aluminum pan (or something similar) in the center of your grill, with hot coals on either side of it. (So you'll have HOT sections on the sides, and a COOLER section in the middle.)  Soak 2 cups of wood chips, (preferably hickory) for about 30 minutes, and then place the chips onto the hot charcoal. Put your grate in place, and then close the lid until the grate is hot and the chips are smoking. (about 5 minutes)
  • You'll need rib chops, approximately 1 1/2 inches thick. (Don't trim the fat!)
  • Rub the chops with salt/ pepper mix and pass two skewers through the loin muscle of each chop, and then space them about an inch apart on the skewers. (The idea is to be able to stand your chops up on the grill, bone-side down, and to allow the smoke to circulate through them.)
  • Once the grate is hot and the chips are smoking, place skewered chops, bone-side down, in the center of your grill, right above the aluminum pan. Cover, and cook approximately 30 minutes.
  • Remove chops from grill so you can take out the skewers. Brush one side of chops with sauce, then place them, sauce side down, over the hot charcoal. Cook, uncovered, for 2-4 minutes. Brush sauce on topside, then turn to sear other side over the hot charcoal for additional 2-4 minutes.
  • Remove from grill and tent with aluminum foil, allowing meat to rest for five minutes.
  • ENJOY!!!!!
  • SAUCE: I suppose you could use whatever your favorite sauce is, but here's the recommended recipe: 1/2 cup catsup; 1/4 cup mild molasses; 2 T grated onion; 2 T Worcestershire sauce; 2 T Dijon mustard; 2 T cider vinegar; 1 T brown sugar. Combine ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes. (until it reaches a catsup-like consistency) Set 1/2 cup of it aside to serve at the table. The rest, for the grilling itself.

Oh man, now I've got pork chops on my mind. They are sooooo good. Charred crust, rosy-pink moist meat, and a true smoky flavor. Try 'em. If you like pork chops, I guarantee, you will LOVE these. 

I reckon this is enough disjointed babble for one day. Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other. I believe I'm gonna go make some BBQ sauce.