Tuesday, December 30

Misfortune

I don't consider myself a cruel person but sometimes inappropriate things make me laugh. Things like this that arrived in the mail the other day:



It's from an organization called Earthjustice and it's tag line is "Because the Earth needs a good lawyer". I'm suggesting the Earth needs a better campaign manager. According to CharityNavigator.com they are a decent, well meaning organization but that solicitation has got to go. I understand it was supposed to make me feel sad yet generous. Instead it just made me burst out laughing. I'm not proud of that reaction, it just happened.

I'm also not in the habit of laughing at other's misfortune but today I did. I had been in the produce section of the grocery store with some poor bedraggled mom being swarmed by her kids. The little boy, around four years old, was really a handful. He seemed to be making a break for it or underfoot no matter where she moved. I'd been sort of ignoring them until I turned and saw the boy standing in front of his mother's shopping cart, stiffly facing outward, with a plastic produce bag over his head. Before I could react (and I would have made a stab at yanking it off his head) his mother saw him, gasped and said "NO!". She had more trouble than I might have guessed taking it off his head. I don't know if he was chewing on it or what but it was really stuck on his noggin. I'm sorry, but the whole scene made me laugh. It made me laugh, shake my head and think 'Ya know, Darwin had a point.'

Then, rather suddenly, karma bit me in the ass. I turned the corner and saw marketing genius in action. Some sadistic store schemer had set up a big basket of Oreo cookies in front of the milk section. I mean honestly who can resist that kind of set up? Well, I did, but still that was cruel! I'm incredibly lactose intolerant and haven't had a glass of milk in years but even I might risk a wrecked stomach for a glass of milk and handful of Oreo cookies.

Look, I'll still laugh at the small misfortunes of others and I'll even laugh at poor little Limpy. I'll just be sure to look over my shoulder when I do.

Saturday, December 27

Hole in Pocket


Today, while listening to NPR, I heard an interview with Meryl Gordan. She was speaking of her new book titled Miss Astor Regrets. It's the story of the end of Brooke Astor's long life. Do you remember, a couple of years back, the shocking story of elder abuse she suffered in her last years at the hands of her son? Well, Ms Gordan has written all about it. It sounded fascinating and I happened to have a big juicy gift certificate to my favorite book store burning a hole in my pocket. I immediately planned a trip to the book store and Mom accompanied me.

I eventually decided against Miss Astor Regrets because it's a hardback and costs $35. I'm not a fan of hardbacks. While they remain durable they are difficult to lug around on planes and are overpriced so I avoid them.

I was in the mood for a good read on a crazy family. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to read about rich, crazy families both old and new. (Thank God and Graydon Carter for Vanity Fair). The Tudor's are a favorite of mine with the Romanov's running a close second. I've been hearing good things about the Vanderbilt's... they were good and crazy. I was looking for a book called The Vanderbilt Women because the back cover states "The nearest thing to a royal family that has ever appeared on the American scene was the Vanderbilts … their vendettas, their armies of servitors, partisans and sycophants, their love affairs, scandals, and shortcomings, all were the stuff of an imperial routine." SOLD! Unfortunately I couldn't find that one but I'll pick it up eventually. Instead I picked up Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt. It looks good. I'm not sure how scandalous it will be but Consuelo was a suffragette, romantically linked to Winston Churchill and lived during the Gilded Age and that's always a good time.

Of course I still haven't read The Sisters (all about the Mitfords), or the incredibly cool sounding The Heretic's Daughter (Salem Witch Trials anyone?) and about 300 other books I have in boxes in the garage. Still, I can't stop buying books, I just love them. I have a feeling that I'll be so poor when I eventually buy my house that I'll have nothing better to do than to be a shut in with my books. The idea really doesn't sound all that bad does it?

On the way home Mom and I were discussing long lost favorite library books that we enjoyed ages ago and never saw again. Mom's favorite is something called Tales From New Orleans. Each chapter was about an eccentric New Orleans resident. It sounds a bit like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil but without the story weaving everyone together. My favorite was a now nameless book Mom borrowed for the Monrovia library back in the 70's. Like any good mother of the 70's she didn't pay much attention to what I read... thank God. It was a book all about the most notorious crimes int he past 100 years and I loved it. I picked the book up after she finished it and learned all about the Lindbergh kidnapping, Lizzie Borden and Jack the Ripper. To my 10 year old mind it I was the greatest book written.

I have other books to keep an eye out for that also feature rich crazy families. Here are a few and why I like the sound of them:

Murder of a Medici Princess
"The third of eight surviving children... life apart from her debt-ridden, abusive, playboy husband in Rome... Eager to make his mistress... banished her lover from Florence by branding him a murderer... treasonous behavior... extramarital affairs... murder at her husband's hands and, soon after, Isabella's murder by her husband as well. ." I know it's wrong but I just love this stuff. Besides who else managed to get Michelangelo to do up the family tomb?


The Vanderbilts
"Nearly 250 pictures reveal the striking personalities of this extraordinary family and the glittering interiors in which they led their fabled lives." I enjoy photos when reading biographies. I feel I know the subject better if I have a face in mind. Also, can you ever tire of looking at the The Biltmore?

Queen of Diamonds
"The last and longest private owner of the Hope Diamond, purchased the diamond when she was only twenty-four; spent more than $200,000 on a fabulous honeymoon and ended up in a Paris hotel without enough money to pay the bill; wandered the gloomy rooms of her home imagining crawling reptiles while overcoming her morphine addiction; and stood in the rain wearing a fur coat and clutching the Hope Diamond as her beloved Washington Post was auctioned. The deep indigo stone is but a single facet of her rags-to-riches story." *gasp* SIGN ME UP!!


If you know of any good books on rich crazy families please let me know. The crazier and more scandalous the better!

Thursday, December 25

Merry Christmas


May the spirit of Christmas bring you peace,
The gladness of Christmas give you hope,
The warmth of Christmas grant you love.

~
Author Unknown

Wednesday, December 24

Happy Christmas Eve


So, yes, I've been overworked and exhausted lately. I didn't get to half of the holiday things I meant to like hanging Christmas lights and sending cards. I've felt like a major loser until today. Today I walked out of the office at noon, as instructed, and actually left it all behind. I rushed home to wrap a few gifts and gear up for Mom's Christmas Eve dinner.

We lit a fire and exchanged presents with my brother and his family and had a wonderful time. My brother got the GPS he'd been wanting, my Dad got a hard core rain gauge that needed some set up and my nephew got to work on this humdinger. In other words, the boys geeked out and had a great time. Mean while my Mom, sister-in-law and I fought to bust Barbie from her pink remote control convertible. Later my niece raced Barbie's wheels against my nephew's remote controlled car that he happened to bring today. They raced up and down the drive way and planned to "ambush" their other Grandma when she arrived. I'm not sure what actually happened but they seemed to have had a good time. They then spent a lot of time checking on Santa's route on this site. It's so cute! All I know is that the Santa Tracker would have blown my mind when I was a kid.

Earlier in the day I was able to either email and/or speak with a couple of friends that have lately been MIA. It was good to hear they are well and safely at home. I'd been afraid one was trapped in an airport somewhere. The other seemed to have been lost in the throws of a new relationship. Turns out they broke up before Thanksgiving then sort of got back together again. I missed the whole thing but my friend sounds good to me so I'm happy for him.

As for work, I'm planning to go in on Friday, to wrap of a few things, then I'm taking a week off. I think I need to for my sanity. It's possible I'm coming down with a cold. I feel a little congested and my throat feels a bit scratchy but I don't even care. I have a roof over my head and a warm bed and cable. I'll be fine. I have wonderful friends and family. Does anything else even matter?

Maybe it's that A Wonderful Life is showing on tv but I think I may finally be feeling like it's Christmas. It's about time. I've been so wrapped up in work that I've barely been able to separate and enjoy a personal life. It's not like me. I need to get back to separating. It's so much better for me.

I'm off to wash my face, put on my pjs and Karen Neuberger socks (the only things that keep my feet warm these days) and hop into bed. It's time for some well deserved sleep.

Have a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 14

Curses! *Shaking fist in air*

I knew it was too glad to last but it's over already? That's more than my poor heart can handle.

Damn you oil bastards! For the record, the second I'm able to buy a car that has nothing to do with you I will. Then you can suck it!

In the mean time I may just frame the photo below. You know, to remember the good old days.

And speaking of the good old days, it's only fair to inform you that I also equate those oil bastards with our old friend Dishonest John. Remember him? Well that's who I think of when I hear of prices going up. Curse you DJ! I will admit that hearing B&C sing "A Bob Clapett Cartoo-oon" makes me smile. That and seeing just how gay they all obviously are. Faaaaabulous!

Thursday, December 11

Have I died?

I often ask myself if I've died on gone to hell. It's pessimistic, true, but I sometimes can't help but wonder. As I've mentioned ad nauseam, work is a nightmare lately but as Dory reminds us I "Just keep swimming." It's surprisingly good advise and can really help in the middle of a bad day. Best of all, if you say it out loud, it confuses the grown ups.

Until tonight, that is. Tonight as I filled up my tank and saw this staring back at me...


for the first time in ages, I asked myself if I'd died and gone to heaven. I could be wrong but I don't think I've seen gas in the one-fifties since college. It was a beautiful sight indeed.

I hope you're evening has been as lovely as mine.

Thursday, December 4

Hypocrite

So, my vacation was more stressful than I'd hoped. In fact, getting back to work proved to be less stressful. I spent a few hours in the office on Monday then hopped a plane to Bentonville. It was a trip full of political landmines but it was a good trip well worth the time and effort.

A Bentonville trip is always an unusual one. One one hand, every person you meet is wonderfully kind and friendly. Everyone is smiling and there is no traffic and God knows the eats are good. It's all so quaint and kind and even Jesus seems to love Bentonville. A "Traveller's Prayer" card is left on your pillow each night. Local commercials remind you to remember the true meaning of Christmas with a Bible quote. There are three humongous crosses standing in front of a church on the highway near your hotel. They are intimidating to say the least. They are the perfect symbols to remind you just where you are.


You meet your co-workers in the lobby of your hotel each morning and inevitably run into several other people you know because if you're in manufacturing, you're in Bentonville. I find that being in Bentonville means being lulled into the safe, warm, strong arms of Walmart. Then, just as you're beginning to relax into those fabulous arms, something happens that snaps you back into reality. You suddenly remember that the place holds so much influence and power that it's scary.

It's a very conflicting experience. We all know about the Bully of Bentonville but the people I deal with just don't seem to be those bullies. They are very nice and patient and great to work with. Still, I don't shop at Walmart. On a personal level I'm against many of their business practices. However, because my job is completely dependant on American consumerism I am inextricably tied with and dependent upon Walmart. I'm a hypocrite and I hate it.

Saturday, November 29

Blue as a Bronte (but without the cool real estate or talent)


I've been in what Mom and I call a "blue funk" lately. It's not severe, I'm just sort of bummed out lately. It's likely work related. I usually feel this way after the holidays, when it's back to the grind, but I've been on vacation all week and the feeling has sort of lingered over me like an annoying cloud. This whole week has felt like one long Sunday night. Do you know what I mean?

I've got nothing to complain about. I'm blessed with wonderful family and friends. I've pulled myself out of debt, I'm employed, I mostly like my job and I enjoy those I work with. Still, I've just been sort of in the dumps lately.

Contributing to my funk is the fact that I learned, in the first couple of days of my vacation, that I have to go to Bentonville this Monday. I can be spontaneous with my work travel but the thought of being out of the office an additional week makes me hyperventilate. It's not as though the work is going to slow down while I'm away. Lately, it's coming down to having to be brutally cut throat. I have to spend time on the absolute top priorities and pawn off everything/everyone else. It's the only way to get things done. Trouble is, it's not my nature. I tend to try to be helpful but being helpful slows me down. This dilemma has become a bummer. There is also so much work to do that I could literally work 24 hours a day and never catch up. The good news is that each workday flies by however I'm working late hours and that really gets to me after a while. Down time is critical and this vacation was fraught with worries about work. I used to be so good at separating work and me time but I need to be better.

When I get like this I typically reject all things sad or dark and only allow positive influences around me. What are positive influences? Well, they include good friends, happy tv, homey magazines and classic books. Of course it's not easy to completely control everything entering your world but I find the effort is worth it.

Looking back, the blue funk may have started with a random viewing of Jaws followed by Burnt Offerings. It freaked me out. I also happen to be reading, and enjoying, The Witching Hour. I've been drawn to dark things lately, I don't know why, but I think it's time to back off. Seriously, anything with Karen Black in it is officially off limits. I'm not sure why I keep watching things like Interview with a Vampire (It's not only dark, but Tom Cruise is just dreadful! No wonder Anne Rice was so angry about his being cast.) and The Departed. Such downers! It's time to retreat to Jane Austen flicks, The Vicar of Dibley and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In fact, I should probably just make a pot of tea, wash my face, put on my pjs and get into bed.

Sometimes, just throwing in the towel is best.

Thursday, November 27

Was it good for you?


I just got back from my brother's house where we spend Thanksgiving afternoon every year. He makes a fantastic turkey on the outdoor grill and it's good time.

There were only about 15 of us there today but it gets loud. There are four kids ranging in age from 9 - 3. The girls got a doll double stroller out and took turns racing laps down the hall, through the kitchen and around the living room again and again all accompanied but tremendous screaming. I was raised in a household of only four but it too was loud. As a result I can be in the middle of terrific noise and manage to block much of it out. Thank God.

This is typically what happen after dinner and sometime during dessert. It's annoying but I figure they will outgrow it eventually.

One of my favorite kids was there. He's three and his name is Evan. Evan is a passionate chap, Evan enjoys plugs. As in power strips and extension cords. He asks for them upon entering a house. He then calmly gathers them and links them together. I asked his mother if he had any other interests and she sighed and said "No." What can I say, I enjoy the quirky kids. During dinner Even was a bit upset about the cut up green beans his dad had cruelly placed on his plate. He explained to me that he only likes turkey and that he doesn't eat beans. I tried pushing some yams and mashed potatoes on him but he wasn't having any of it. He told me he preferred corn or carrots. I nodded in agreement. Finally his Mom asked the hostess if she had any corn. She quickly returned with a large bag of frozen corn and poured some kernels on to Evan's plate. "Yea!" he clapped. "Um, is that frozen?" I asked. "Yeah, it's the only way he'll eat corn." Ok. It just made me love the kid more. He's gonna be a fun one to watch grow up.

My niece made seating cards this year and she seemed to have had some say in who sat where. I was supposed to sit next to my brother. We rarely have opportunities to sit and talk so I was looking forward to it. Of course, my brother's brother-in-law panicked when he realized that he or his wife would not be sitting next to Evan. The kid would have been fine but noooooo. Evan's dad felt the need to move seating cards around so that he could sit between me and the poor kid. I later saw my brother standing and eating his dinner in the kitchen.

I eventually got to spend some time with my brother and nephew when I found them cleaning up the BBQ area and loudly listening to their new favorite Wing. Have you heard this woman? Unbelievable. My nephew sat and enthusiastically banged his head to the AC/DC covers. When I asked "Are your neighbors home?" My bro turned up the volume in reply. We spent about 10 quality minutes rocking out to Wing and then moved into a superb Yacht Rock mix. (You'd have to see this to know what I'm talking about. There is a whole series of these things on Youtube. They actually have some funny moments if you have the time to investigate.) I call them sappy 70's songs but these guys have turned them in to something so much better. My brother and I laughed while "She's Gone" wailed. My poor nephew covered his ears, looked up and said 'Well, that doesn't feel good." and left.

Later someone handed a Black Friday sale flyer to my Mom and I noticed her hand was shaking. I loudly asked if she had Parkinson's. She seemed concerned then I saw that she was sort of white knuckling the flyer. I asked her to loosing up her grip and the shaking stopped. "Cured!! She's cured! I cured Mom!!" I shouted. Nobody heard me. Mom seemed relieved. Apparently if you grip something tightly it may shake, loosen up you grip and it's fine. Lesson learned.

So that was my Thanksgiving. How was yours?

Wednesday, November 26

Whoa

(How's that for a Gone With the Wind inspired shot?! Ya gotta hand it to Baz, he's never subtle.)


Today I treated myself to a matinee of Baz Luhrmann's new film Australia. It wasn't great but I liked it. Baz makes such pretty films. I like the the rose colored fantasy glasses he sees the world through.

Many claim the film is a love letter to Australia but I'd say it's more of a love letter to Hugh Jackman. Ladies, trust me, this is a good thing. Baz is gay, right? Well, regardless, I raise a glass to Baz and say "Thank you Mr. Luhrmann for shooting that hunka man in such an over-the-top and yummy light."

Baz and his Cinematographer shoot Mr. Jackman in such a gorgeous way as to make your knees buckle while you're seated. I'm serious. I think I may have let out an audible gasp at least once. Now, I've always thought Hugh was dreamy and when he sang and danced through his hosting duties of the Tony's I was done. This film only reinforces what I already knew about him and what People Magazine is now making tons of money from.

As for the story of Australia, it's good but like most Baz films it's exaggerated. I will say that that beautiful Aboriginal boy you've seen in the trailers carries the entire film on his little shoulders. He's a remarkable little man. I also was impressed with, once again, how little I know of other country's history and thier experience of WWII. I knew only the smallest details of the Lost Generations of Australia but this movie made me want to know more. I also really liked the mysticism of the Aboriginal people portrayed in the film. I've no idea how loyal/accurate it is to their culture, it's a film after all, but it seemed to be sincere in trying to get it right. The young boy and his grandfather are unforgettable.

Oh yeah, Nicole Kidman is in Australia as well but I'm not a huge Nicole fan and, frankly, I wasn't really paying much attention to her. It was all about Hugh. Well, not even all of Hugh. I don't think I spent much time looking at his face. Thanks again Baz! And yeah, I'd like to visit Australia now.

Monday, November 24

Time Well Spent


So, after many weeks of almost non-stop stress I'm finally on vacation.

I kicked off my time off by seeing Twilight (as mentioned in my last post). On Sunday I got together with my crafting group for whats now known as The Feast. A couple of months ago we decided to get together for a potluck Thanksgiving tasting. We each decided on a dish to bring and agreed to make a dozen recipe cards on how to make our dish. We then made a cute recipe book with all of our collected recipes. It was a lot of fun and one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've ever enjoyed. Here is a list of the 12 dishes we enjoyed:

Blue Cheese Pecan Bites
Butternut Squash Soup
Sausage Soup
Turkey
Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cornbread Stuffing
Cranberry-Orange Chutney
Creamed Corn
Cranberry Salad
Praline Yams (OMG!)
Bread Pudding
Pumpkin Trifle

It was all so good! The company was excellent as well. We did this a couple of years ago for a cookie exchange/recipe book making and it too was a big hit.

Looking towards the rest of my week off, I'm particularly excited that we are expecting rain over the next couple of days. Being home on a rainy day is one of my very favorite days but very rare. How will I spend my time on a perfect rainy day? Well, I've (re-)started reading The Witching Hour. It's a fun, spooky book that I seem to get about 150 pages into then set down and lose interest in. I'm not sure why that is because I like those first 150 pages. I guess it's just that short attention span of mine.

As for fun viewing, I picked up a great DVD set at Target for $14. It's a Rodgers & Hammerstein set that includes The Sound of Music, The King and I and Oklahoma! Wheeeeeee! I also have my Mary Tyler Moore, Northern Exposure, The Bob Newhart Show and Netflix discs in a stack and ready to go.

My only commitment for Thanksgiving day is go to my brother's house with the homemade Cranberry-Orange Chutney mentioned above. Otherwise, I'm footloose and fancy free and ready to spend time reading and watching some feel good tv.

Here are some highlights for you to enjoy on Thanksgiving day:
  • Fiddler on the Roof - TCM
  • I Love Lucy Marathon- TV Land
  • House Marathon- USA
Here are some marathons for those determined to stay in shut-in mode on Black Friday (join me, won't you?):
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus Marathon- BBC America
  • Diner's Drive-ins and Dives Marathon- Food Network
  • Cities of the Underworld Marathon- History Channel (and one of my new favorite shows)
  • What Not to Wear Marathon- TLC (I recommend Tivoing a few of these and speeding through the boring shopping parts)
Enjoy!

Saturday, November 22

Twilight review


In four words:

I blame the director.

Ok, four more:

Many ridiculous weeping guitars.


Wednesday, November 19

That was weird


Today I was in a class for the entire day. It was all about corporate culture/politics and how to maneuver through it all. It was a good class that anyone in a corporate environment should take.

About half way through the day, while in the middle of an intense dialogue, an HR person left the room then quickly returned. She sheepish pointed behind her, then to a door in the corner, and said "Um, she has to dust for finger prints on the door. It might be a little distracting but don't let it disrupt the class."

Umm, what?!

Everyone just sat silently with a giant WTF look on their faces. The instructor kept going even when the woman, with the shirt that read FORENSICS across her back, passed behind the instructor to dust the door he had been opening and closing all day. She soon left and we went on with the class.

It wasn't until about 15 minutes later that the instructor stopped, shook his head and said "In all my years I've never had a more surreal experience in a class." I took the opportunity to ask "What the hell is behind that door?"

Turns out there had been some theft in the building. Phew! I thought there was a body behind that door.

Later, we all decided we too should wear cool shirts, like the nice forensics lady, with our department written in large block letters across our backs.

Tuesday, November 18

Stressed


Needless to say, I've been neglecting my poor little blog. This is primarily due to my hectic work schedule. I'm working at a pace I've never before endured. The workload and pressure are almost overwhelming. The saving grace is that everyone I work with feels the same way. Just when I think its just me, and I'm losing my mojo, some poor co-worker stumbles into my cubicle, and slumps over in a chair and tells me a familiar story of barely feeling able to tread water.

I've not been getting very much down time and that's not helping matters. For instance, I chose to leave for NYC on a Sunday and return on the following Friday. Why wold I volunteer to skip one whole day of my precious weekend? Last night I got home around 6:45, ate a quick dinner, then sorted through my work email inbox until past 11:00. The bottom line is that I'm not giving myself enough time to recharge and it's taking a toll on my state of mind. By the way, I DO NOT recommend sorting though hundreds of emails right before bed. Your brain can not stop churning and it leads to a distracting night of tossing and turning.

Believe me, I understand these are enviable problems. I have a good job at a seemingly solid company. I work with wonderful people and genuinely enjoy my work. Considering these times, I'm a lucky girl. Still, it's been challenging.

On the bright side, if I can catch up enough to feel comfortable, I can take next week off. Woo hoo!!! So far I've managed to get a lot of items checked off of my To Do list. I am seriously looking forward to and in need of some time off. When I'm off work I'm very good at separating and leaving it all behind. I just hope I'm able to do it.

What will I do with a whole week off? Here are a few genius ideas:
  • Get a pedicure
  • Read something... anything
  • Make my Christmas cards
  • See some movies
  • Eat some turkey
  • Sleep in as much as possible
  • Spend my b-day gift card at my favorite independent bookstore
  • Watch some Netflix'd movies
  • Write something... anything
  • Be a shut-in for at least one day
  • Pray for rain
  • Start a new cross-stitch project
  • Determine my Christmas shopping list and maybe do something about it
  • Sit up in bed with magazines and see what my friend Tivo has to share
  • Sip tea
  • Dine with friends (who's in?!)
  • Lay down
I know, I know, these are lofty goals but a girl's gotta start somewhere.

Friday, November 14

Home again, home again


I flew in from NYC this afternoon. I still love Manhattan but I also love So Cal. Every time I stand at the shuttle stop, waiting for the Wally Park Shuttle to pick me up, after a biz trip, I marvel at how pretty LA can be and how happy I am to be home.

I saw lots of things in NY that would have made for some great posts but I'm just not that quick with my phone camera. Also, my days, an nights were seriously packed. Some days began at 7:30 am in the hotel lobby and ended at 10:30 pm.

I knew it would be raining on some days so I looked into the subway. I used the F train throughout the week and found that it's my new best friend. There was a subway station on the corner near our hotel and had a straight shot to where we had to be all week. It was great!

I ate at Buddakan which was really nice. They told me it's the restaurant they filmed Carrie's engagement party in the Sex and the City movie. I also got to visit Serendipity 3 again which is every bit as good as I remembered.

I heard lots of talk about our President Elect in the streets. New Yorkers tend to be very loud, passionate and animated when speaking. You can't help but hear snippets of lively conversations all around you. The shopping, the walking, the meetings, dining all make for a pretty good time and I always feel fortunate to be able to do them. That being said, one of my favorite things about NY is getting the New York Times delivered to my door each morning. I know... I'm a nerd. I always read such cool stuff in that paper. I pick it up every morning, throw it on the nightstand and save it for the end of the day. I read it in bed while watching the news or David Letterman. I just plain love it.

My favorite article of the week was this one. I saved the piece because I was afraid to forget to do a search on "mind control" and "gang stalking". (I didn't have the energy to get out of bed to reboot my computer when I read it.) I know it's mean but dang... some things ya just gotta check out. This is one of those things.

Another pretty regular part of my travel routine is reading Vanity Fair on those long plane rides. I realize VF is technically no different than the average gossip rag. However, in it's defense, it does feature intelligently written, lengthy articles with fewer pictures and some $10 vocabulary words. I read a really good piece on the NY Times Baghdad bureau (I think it's safe to say that's a job I wouldn't like). I also read all about Patty Hearst's lame-o step mom who has managed to get herself into about $45M in debt. What a moron.

Ok, I admit it, I really enjoy those scandalous stories about the uber-rich socialites and their falls from glory. I don't know why but I only read VF on planes. I'm not sure when this tradition began but it's now deeply entrenched in my travel routine. I'm now off to finish the article on Rupert Murdoch and the fate of his family fortune. Cool!

Sunday, November 9

What to do?

I flew to NYC today. The flight was uneventful except for some pretty intense turbulence over California. Oh! And remember the crazy McCain Rally lady? The lady in the seat in front of me had that same hair. It was very distracting. Which reminds me. I am still so sad that I didn't think to dress up as Crazy McCain Lady for Halloween. I could have spent the whole day lurching around with a white fright wig, a red McCain/Palin tee shirt and a mic insisting that "Hobama is an A-raab." Doh!

Anyway, I flew in to JFK with a co-worker who has never been to Manhattan. I wanted her to go to sleep tonight really feeling like she was in NYC. I couldn't figure out where to take her at 9:00 pm on a Sunday night. I thought of Serendipity 3 but the only sites along the way are the stores on Fifth Ave. which are all closed early on a Sunday night. A view of Lady Liberty would have been nice but I didn't know how to get a view without walking through Battery Park and that just didn't seem like a safe idea. Then I figured we should just go ahead and get Times Square out of the way. It's not my favorite but you definitely know you're in New York when you're there. Also, Times Square now has a special place in my heart because last Tuesday night, while watching elections results, I cried when I saw that people had stopped traffic in Times Square with crowds cheering and dancing people in the streets when word of Barack Obama being our President Elect hit.

Times Square it was. My co-worker is a very enthusiastic person who is usually up for anything. I told her I'd want to be back at the hotel around 11:00-11:30 (I know, I'm a party pooper) and she was fine with it. We are here to work after all. Being up all night is something others seem able to pull off but not me. I need my sleep.

We met in the lobby where I ran into co-worker #2. She said that if we didn't have plans she's going ice skating at Bryant Park Thursday night and wondered if we'd like to join her. Now, I have a tendency to fall down wearing my Converse sneakers. Strapping on a pair of ice skates just does not seem like a good idea for me. The first works that come to mind are compromised tail bone and concussion. I'm out. My new-to-New-York friend, however, is very into the idea. I think it's safe to say you can expect a blog entry from me that night while I relax with some room service and cable tv in my room.

We got to Times Square and co-worker #1 was immediately drawn to the ferris wheel in the Toys r Us store. It is pretty cool. Besides, I needed to pick up some of the Club Penguin stuff I knew my niece and nephew had been wanting.

We barely looked around then decided to look for a place to eat. First we spotted Carmine's. Unfortunately so did every other out-of-towner. There was a 45 minute wait. It smelled so good that we decided Italian was a must. Eventually we found a nice little place off Broadway and enjoyed a nice dinner of shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and a fantastic seafood pasta. The biggest plus was that we were West of Broadway shows that were ending so we stepped out of the restaurant and immediately caught a cab.

It was a nice way to ease into our week in New York.

My co-worker heard that the hotel restaurant has amazing pancakes so we decided to eat downstairs together tomorrow morning. Our first appointment isn't until 2:30 in the afternoon so we're meeting at 9:30 for breakfast then some shopping. I'm going to show her Herald Square. It's so close to Thanksgiving I'm hoping to see some of the Holiday set up. I'll try to take some pix.

Friday, November 7

Hooray!

I know, I know, I sick of politics too but...

Today a friend sent me this link and I was very impressed. The President Elect is asking for ideas from us. I know, shocking isn't it? The guy actually wants to know what we think. You mean he understands that he works for us and not oil companies? What the... ? Poke around to see what I mean. I remain so damn happy about my vote.

On a silly front, guess what I got for myself with some b-day money. I'll give you a hint, it's a gadget that has been heavily advertised to lure ladies like me to join it's legions of young fans. Give up? I bought a Nintendo DS Lite and I love it.

Yup, I've even decorated it too. Before you judge, please keep in mind that it's my job to think like a girl anywhere from the age of 3-12 so that might help explain the color choice and customization. Also, it all helps cement my status as World's Best Auntie.

So far my favorite games are Mystery Case Files and Mario Kart. MCF reminds me of that hidden pictures game in Highlights magazine. I loved that puzzle when I was a kid! You know you loved it too. Here is a link to remind you of what you used to do while waiting for the dentist when you were 7. I like Mario Kart for several reasons but mostly because you can ram other karts off the course. Legal road rage! Hooray!!! I think I'll like the other games as soon as I invest a little more time in them. A girl's got to have goals.

I'm flying to New York on Sunday and this will be a fun way to waste time on the plane. A girl can not live by iPod alone, after all.

Thursday, November 6


Today while siting in the commissary at work, waiting for a friend, I had such a sad moment. I looked around the room and saw lots of cool fun people that I work with. I then glance over and watched as Brian grabbed utensils and made his way over to some friends and I thought "Brian can't get married because too many people in this state don't consider him a citizen worthy of full rights." I looked over and saw Lisa sitting with a newspaper quietly eating and thought "she can't get married either because too many Californians are bigots." Looking around I thought the same thing about another Brian, Max, Colleen, Kevin, Jim, David and Rex. These are only a few of the wonderfully talented, caring and kind people I genuinely enjoy working with who happen to be gay. It pains me to know that so many people feel so free to openly hate these wonderful people.

I know it's a generational prejudice and that eventually the old-fart-bigots will die off but it's a shame that we can't just get on with it. These are the same people who love to wave the American flag and boast of freedom and are so afraid of diversity and difference that they actively strip rights from perfect strangers. It's as if they think that if they cross their arms and hate gays long and hard enough they will stop being gay. It's so arrogant.

The only thing that makes me smile about the whole issue is this video that a straight co-worker, along with his wife and friends made to make a great point. I hope it makes you smile too.

(I told you I worked with funny, talented people.)

Wednesday, November 5

Today

You know how you get a song stuck in your head and it's pretty annoying? Well, today I had a song stuck in my head and it didn't bother me one bit.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVw0Mb8XR9M

Know what I mean? If not, don't bother telling me, I'm just too plain happy and relieved to care.

Tuesday, November 4

Keep the tamales hot


Well, I've happily done my duty. I voted. I said my little silent thank you to the suffragettes and gleefully punched my little ink-a-stamp in a way that would certainly have pissed off every conservative voter out there.

I did cause a small dust-up at my polling place when I tried to surrender my absentee ballot. I was supposed to be in NYC today for a meeting but plans changed (thank God!). At first the polling workers didn't seem to know what to do with me or my blank absentee ballot but soon a knowing poll worker swept in and told us what to do. I was thrilled to see a poll worker who appeared to be around 20 years old. It's usually the retiree set running the show at my polling place. I regard that kids presence as an excellent sign of the way things will hopefully go from here on out. I keep hearing about the young American vote, this was the first real evidence of it.

Last night , while signing off at the end of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart looked into the camera and implored the new young voters to get out and vote by saying: "To all the youth voters out there, DO NOT BLOW THIS FOR US!!! Every four years we hear about your vote rocking powers and every four years you stay home and play Super Mario. Not this time!" It's so true. So to my little poll working friend I say thank you! Thank you for giving a crap and making your generation look so much smarter than those of late.

After voting, I spoke with Heidi to check in on her on this nerve-wracking day. I then spoke with my cousin who called to remind me to "rock the vote". Admittedly, when I picked up his message, my first thought was "Al's dead". Al (aka Al-Hole) is my ultra conservative, abusive, grandfather. My second thought was "I hope he went before he could vote." When I admitted these wrong and dark thoughts to my cousin he laughed until he cried. I then said "I'm sorry but I can't always control what rushes through my mind. I know I'll burn in hell." He agreed then said "Keep the tamales hot for me until I get there!"

Monday, November 3

Props

Being election eve I'm avoiding all political coverage... again. What's the point? Unless someone key to one of the campaigns runs naked through a field with a kite I won't be tuning in.

I want to kick off a proposition that outlaws all campaigning until one month before election day. That's apparently how the Brits do it and I think they're on to something.

I also like Mom's idea for a proposition. Her idea was hatched while driving past all of the "Yes on 8" lawn signs in our neighborhood.

Lucy: "For the record, every time I see one of those signs I think 'thanks for letting the world know you're a bigot'. How are those fools more married if a nice gay couple isn't? What exactly are they trying to "Protect Marriage" from?"

Mom: "I know."

Lucy: ...

Mom: ... (thoughtfully)

Mom: "I want to launch a proposition that outlaws all divorce. Retroactively! I'd just love to watch all of those straight, family values, people FREAK OUT with a proposition like that. *chuckling to herself* No on divorce!!! Now that would be great."

I think she's right. That would be hilarious. After all, the same folks who love to quote the Bible and claim God forbids homosexuality seem to conveniently forget that the same Bible forbids divorce. Idiots.

Thursday, October 30

Relieved


I've been in deep, deep work mode lately. To give you any idea of how hard I've been working, I didn't leave the office until 9:00 pm last night then was back this morning at 7:30 am. I'm not normally a workaholic but I had to do well at this week's meeting. We do quarterly financial reviews to track our business. It's a long, painful process full of conference calls, spreadsheets, 18' rulers and stress. The past 2 weeks have been spent gathering info to explain any and all anomalies in our numbers. We just didn't have a clear idea of those anomalies until yesterday at around 11:00 am. Did I mention that we had to present it all this morning? Yeah, that's why I've been MIA lately.

My group was the first to present because my boss ROCKS and wanted us to get it over with. I'm so happy she volunteered us for the 9:15 time slot. We all did very well and I think made our boss proud. She's a really good coach and kept us on track.

So, what did I miss in the past couple of weeks? I hear there was a World Series. I think this is the first I've missed in decades. I know we don't yet have a new President yet. I think some new movies have come out that I'd like to see. I know I'm taking this Monday and Tuesday off and that I'll be voting and that I plan to get a pedicure tomorrow. I'm so happy.

What else? Any news you'd like to share? Lemme know!

Sunday, October 19

Shut-in Central


It's official. I've hit the wall. I can not stand one more political message. I am so sick of the constant barrage of political statements coming my way. They're in my email inbox, they're on the lawns of the homes I pass every day, and let's not forget the hysterical, lie-filled, non-stop ads on tv. I've had it! It's even pushed me to take desperate measures. After my incredibly busy week, I decided to be as much of a shut-in as possible this weekend. I don't often get the chance to be a shut-in but I managed to do so yesterday. It was great. After only one day at home, and not leaving the house once, I found myself enjoying the creepy comforts of QVC. While the QVC hosts are disturbingly chipper, and their fans are disturbingly inbred, they at least avoid politics so it's become a haven for me.

I'm now watching Paula Deen flirt with the gayest man on earth. I'm sure the AARPers out there just adore him so it's probably best they don't know about his sexual leanings. Then there's this chick who just LOVES herself. She spends more time looking at herself in the monitor than showing product. The shut-ins seem to like her too.

Here are a few of the things I was actually interested in from my weekend with QVC:
Bakeware ($43.92 for 11 pieces?! Are you kidding?)
Silicone Baking Boards (Cool!)
Philosophy - A Few Good Men ($35 for 3 lbs of Philosophy 3-in-1?! OMG!!! Too bad those scents don't do much for me.)

No wonder this country is in such terrible debt. We can sit on our butts, remote in hand, and charge, charge, charge to buy a bunch of crap we don't need. I've managed to resist but if I was home all day, all the time, I'm sure those sunshiney hosts would wear me down. I can resist over-priced, ugly, Joan Rivers jewelry (and, btw, what the hell is this?!) but Philosophy bath products? That's another story. That's my personal danger zone. It's a good thing I have to go back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, October 18

In the Spirit


With Halloween on it's way I figured I'd let you in on one of my favorite spooky sites.

Where is this eerie corner of the web? Over on a site called Hours Of Darkness. It's a site that features hauntingly beautiful photography of deserted buildings and areas. Architecture and photography are two of my favorite things so this site makes me swoon. I'm particularly fond of the Modern Ruins link in the Galleries section. Check it out.

I mean honestly, is there anything creepier than an abandoned psychiatric hospital? And check out that deserted theme park. I bet that place made for some favorite childhood memories but look at it now. I look at that Methodist Church and it breaks my heart. What a beautiful building. Some of these places beg to be refurbished while others reek of past horrors and deserve to be left to fall into ruins.

Be warned though, this site can really suck you in. I hope you enjoy the trip as much as I always do.

Thursday, October 16

Worked over!


I work for a big company, a really big company. I happen to work in our North American office but we have offices across the globe. Once a year they gather the management teams from all over the world and throw us together for a week. The week begins with regional meetings but soon shifts to meetings that pull us all in a room together to share best practices and get to know each other. Since last Sunday night we've mostly been in a ball room with lots of tables watching presentations, setting goals and calming fears about the economy.

Wednesday we stopped all business meetings and focused on team building. They broke us out into 13 groups so we could put on a talent show to be judged by upper management. I completely lucked out, thanks to my HR guy (thank you Rod!!), and was placed in the African Drumming group. Some other people got, among other talents, rhythmic dancing, cheerleading, magic, comedy, hip hop dancing and everyone's favorite, dog training. Dog training sounds like a lot of fun but, let's be clear, dogs are completely unpredictable and quickly become a pain. Also, dogs have trouble understanding foreign accents which, of course, is a problem with an international group. But back to my drumming! I've found my new love. We learned a few basic beats then put them together and a strange thing happened, we sort of fell into a trance. I learned that beating a drum with your bare hands is a great way to relieve stress but it's also hypnotic. It's like meditation. I took to it very quickly. We then learned some dance steps to go with the drumming. I was doing fine until we were told to jump in the air and spin all the way around. I held up my hand, walked out of the dancing circle and said "I'm out!".

I had a blast during our performance and wailed on my drum. We sounded great! Later, on my way to the restroom, I was stopped three separate times and told I looked like a natural up there. The acrobatic instructor told me I "looked like a pro up there" because I looked so comfortable and was watching for queues from our instructor, who was AWESOME by the way.

After the performance my hands were killing me. We had been warned that bruising was common and that we might be a little sore. To help recover, I sat and clutched the pitcher of ice water sitting on our table to help ease the pain. It certainly felt good and I think it helped with swelling. My fellow drummers had swollen hands the next day but mine were doing ok. They were still sore the following day but I'm happy to report that we came in second place out of the 13 talent groups. We were beat by the Bollywood dancing team. Lame! As I walked off stage with my prize I stopped by the judges table and said "We were robbed!". Today one of those judges admitted, on stage, that the African Drummers had in fact been "hosed".

Right after the talent show I was in the hotel bar with some new friends from the UK office. They introduced me to their big, big boss. He, unfortunately, had a long strong handshake. He grasped my hand and I immediately yelled "OOOOOOOOUCH!" He sort of jumped back and apologized realizing I had been a drummer. I just shrugged and said "Well, you'll never forget me now."

Two days later my hands feel better but I still can't twist tops off soda and water bottles. I quickly learned that if I wordlessly set an unopened beverage in front of a friend they'd open it for me.

Last night we had an awards dinner in a famous theme park. I was faced with an interesting dilemma. I typically don't drink at work events or dinners or anywhere co-workers gather. No matter how well I know them I find drinking with co-workers can get ugly and regretful. Last night, however, I had the opportunity to get a little buzz while in a famously family oriented park that does not serve alcohol. Last night I was faced with an open bar and fast passes to some super fun rides. Well, what's a girl to do? Well, this girl had three cocktails. By the time my big, big boss was striding towards the stage to accept the Country of the Year award it took every ounce of self control I had to not run up there with her, waggle my tongue and hold up two victory signs with my fingers and yell "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO". The thought made me giggle wildly. I confessed my urge to friends who wished I'd done it. I later told the big, big boss what I'd almost done and she said I should have followed through with it. Oh well. It's probably best. My reputation of being a non-drinker would have been destroyed and reversed to party girl in an instant had I lost it.

I'm now home and extremely sleepy. We did a lot of sitting but I'm somehow exhausted. You know how tired you are after a long flight? You think to yourself what's my problem? I've been sitting for hours, why am I so tired? Well, that's how I feel right now. I just need some sunshine and fresh air and a lot of sleep. Here's to a great weekend.

Saturday, October 11

Uh oh

I stumbled upon a real time waster online this evening. I'm a sucker for nostalgia so I FREAKED when I was led to this, from my childhood:


Am I the only one who remembers this game? I'm sure it would be considered completely politically incorrect these days. I guess all of those witches happily spooking from room to room might upset some folks, but I used to love it. Do you remember the "whammy" ball that you dropped through the chimney? Such fun!

Then I saw this bad boy:

When was the last time you saw him hanging around? Oh, and how many of these did your family burn through during the 80's?:

This was, and remains, a big deal for me and my Mom:

It came out the year I was born and we listened to it year after year until it finally wore out. It was lost to me for several decades until I came across it in the Castro District in my early 20s. A lovely music store owner heard me squeal from across the store when I spotted it in his Castro shop. He insisted on playing it and I promptly burst into tears when I heard the first few bars. My then boyfriend was dumbstruck but that sweet queenly man ran out from behind the counter and put his arm around me as I sobbed that my Mom used to dance me around the living room to that song when I was a baby. He tried to give it to me but I wouldn't take it. I didn't think I'd ever be able to listen to it again and therefore refused. Years later I gave it a try again and was able to hear it without sobbing but it will always choke me up.

So, where did I find all of these gems from my childhood? On this fun site. (Beware! You'll be there a while.)

I also found this:

This is the sewing machine my Mom got in school and used all through my childhood. It's apparently a favorite among sewing fans but I love it for the scent. This machine has a smell that literally sweeps me back to the 70's every time I catch a whiff. I think it's the oil used to keep it in working order. I don't know, I just know that I love it. My Mom once threatened to get the smell cleaned out of it and I protested wildly. I will love that smell until I die. In fact, I'd like to be cremated and buried in the sewing machine case that's seeped in that scent. What do you say KB? Your Mom's got one too. Should we be buried near each other in matching Singer Featherweight machine boxes? I'm in if you are.

Friday, October 10

Ha!

I'm glad this was commented on. I was wondering what the hell was going on. Now I know.

This also really makes me laugh.

And Shandon, this is for you because, as of last night, you had not seen it. Tina Fey's last comment really killed me.

And Norman? Since I gave something to Shandon, here's a little something for you. Enjoy!





Wednesday, October 8

My thoughts exactlly!


I'd be blogging more, but all I do is work these days. Today I worked from 8:00 am - 8:00 pm and am nowhere near being caught up. Hopefully I'll be able to blog a bit more some time soon. In the mean time, here is another great clip from The Daily Show.

Sunday, October 5

OMG! You're such a good debater!

The McCain camp can deny it all they want, but this is exactly how last week's debate went down:

Here is a link if the chart is too small to read.

That being said, I must admit the woman wore a kick-ass suit to the debate. That thing was tailored like no other. A friend and I were discussing the suit on Friday and decided it was ridiculous for her to play the "I'm SO middle America" card when she was wearing, what must have been, a $4,000 suit. Yves St. Laurent perchance? Hmm.

Be Glad


It's been a good weekend. Yesterday I saw The Duchess with Heidi. We liked it, but agree that those Spencer women get the shaft every time.

Today, was a nice relaxing day. So relaxing that I decided to make a meatloaf with mashed potatoes. This meal is considered brother repellent because my brother would rather die than eat it. This fact always makes me smile to myself. I haven't made dinner in a long time. Maybe the cool weather helped but I felt like getting in the kitchen for a bit. I even remembered to turn on my iPod's Showtunes playlist. Showtunes make the best tunes to cook to because, they are the most fun to sing-a-long to.

Several weeks ago my Mom decided to make her old standby, Tuna Casserole. We used to eat Tune Casserole ALL the time in the seventies. My brother hated it eve more than meatloaf. When Mom told him she recently made Tuna Casserole for Dad, my brother groaned. We later heard that he told his nine year old son about Tune Casserole with a brief description "Grandma would mix mac and cheese with tuna and mushrooms." "BLECHHH!" my nephew replied. Later mom told my nephew that she also added peas to the dish. Thsi new development was enough to make the kid swoon and fall to the ground in disgust. Tuna Casserole is apparently not served at his house.

Besides cooking, I relaxed today by catching most of Silence of the Lambs on cable. I'd forgotten how good that movie is. I suppose you have to be in the mood for it so it's been years since I've seen it. Following SOTL I watched enough of The Shining to see that disturbing man-in-bear-suit-kneeling-at-the-bed scene. So many images in that movie are disturbing and that one is right up there with the freaky twins in the hall. *shudder* I then watched The Brave One. It all got to be a bit much for a Sunday afternoon so I decided to switch gears. I'm now washing the bummer of those movies off by watching Cheaper by the Dozen, Pollyanna and Annie back-to-back on TCM while getting a little work done. I also plan to do more of that dreadful online traffic school. The work part of my plan sort of stinks but the rest should be a good time. Weeeeeeeee!

Saturday, October 4

Hates the bill... loves the bill!


Needs a bit of build up but the last 5 seconds make it SO worth it.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 30

Technical Difficulties


I've been offline since Saturday afternoon. I was in the middle of my Preventing Sexual Harassment training for work, because I don't have the "spare time" at work to do it, when it crapped out on me. I lost the last 20 pages I'd suffered through and was very blue. I ended up finishing it at work yesterday by putting on my Bose head set and waving co-workers off. I've found that mere earbuds don't work. People don't respect the earbuds, but throw on a honking pair of ear phones and the world steers clear. This also works on a plane. I assume it's because you look plain crazy.

Anyway, I've been relying upon the kindness of strangers for my wireless access for the past 6 months or so. It's been a patchy arrangement but my Airport seemed to be slowing down the desk top computer so we disabled it. I've gone a day or so without internet service in these past 6 months but, after 3 consecutive days of no service, I caved and re-connected it. Desktop computer be damned! So far it seems to be working. My laptop is happy again. Of course I'll have to reconfigure my Tivo which proved to be a long torturous ordeal last time around. I'll give it a go over the weekend when I have more energy.

So, what did I do while I was offline? I eventually completed the sexual harassment training. It's a shocking online course with some fantastic dialog. I was bombarded with one God awful scenario after another. All I kept thinking was 'This stuff is in here because some fool actually said/did this.' Man, are people stupid. I technically "Manage" people so I have to take the Manager's harassment training. It was new to me. The training took me through case after case that was dismissed in court then found it's way to the Supreme Court eventually becoming a landmark case. Let's just say I don't have much faith in the lower courts these days. I don't know who's more moronic, the sexual harassers or the lower courts dismissing so many cases.

I made the mistake of looking at my 401k yesterday. That sucked. The 10% of my salary that I've contributed, so far this year, is gone. Well, I'm exaggerating, I still have $100 of it! *sigh* Obviously I'm a little bummed out about it but I'm not panicking. God knows I'm not retiring for decades so the market has loads of time to recover before I need it. Still, it is a serious situation. I knew it was bad when I read off a CNN email alert to a colleague on the phone. She gasped then drifted off mumbling something like "What?! Oh... I... I've got to call my guy. No, seriously, I've gotta go. Bye." I've never known that to happen. Now all I'm hearing is that I'll never get a loan now. Can a girl catch a break? Mama needs a house! I seriously need all of the Wall Street a-holes to get their act together... pronto. If I can configure a wireless network shouldn't they be able to figure out how to not bankrupt the country? Is that too much to ask from the financial wizards of the US.

And speaking of the world, did you hear all of the world leaders telling off Bush and Congress today about not passing the bailout? If it wasn't all so depressing it might be funny.

Thursday, September 25

WTF??


Far be it from me to give a crap about McCain, and his sidekick Bible Spice, but who the hell is advising them lately? Check out this fun clip.

Lesson learned? Don't fu@k with Dave. (Here is a longer series of highlights from the show, if you're interested.)

Wednesday, September 24

Let me count the ways

Why do I heart The Onion? Well, here's one reason.

Sunday, September 21

On a happier front


While I was incredibly annoyed during my movie outing this weekend, I did discover a favorite new tv show. Well, I didn't really discover it, and it's by no means new, but I do love it. My friend Heidi told me I should check out The Vicar of Dibley and I'm glad I did. It's a wildly popular BBC show that started back in the 90's. Unlike US shows that serve up 13 shows per season, and tend to go on and on long beyond their usefulness, the BBC offers an unpredictable number of shows and tends to produce them only as long as they are genuinely welcomed. From what I can gather, The Vicar of Dibley's first "season" was one made up of 6 episodes. Other seasons and some specials followed from 1994-2006.

I love TVOD because the humor is particularly British, which I adore, and it stars Dawn French who slays me. Because the show is from the UK it manages to get away with murder in terms of inappropriate gags, something I'm particularly fond of. I love the kooky characters in the village (Yippee... a village!) of Dibley and the I literally laugh out loud several times per episode, which is a rare thing for me. I think I can safely say that it's becoming a new comfort show for me (the ones you go to when times are tough). I own seasons of The Bob Newhart Show, Mary Tyler Moore and Northern Exposure. They are my current comfort shows but The Vicar of Dibley is right up there with them.


My only regret is that when I Netflix'd the show I inadvertently requested what seems to be the final two episodes. You'd think that title, A Holy Wholly Happy Ending, might have been a tip off, but no, I cluelessly popped the disc in and was soon a goner. How could I not love it? The finger in this clip alone will forever make me LOL. Not to mention, that it stars Richard Armitage who is adorable (have you seen North & South? It features yet another misunderstood dreamboat. *sigh*). I watched the two episodes back to back and immediately requested season 1. I'm starting from the beginning of the shows and am making my way through the entire series.

I hesitate to recommend it entirely only because so many people don't appreciate British humor as much as I do. I admit, the humor took me a while to appreciate. My Mom and brother would howl every Saturday night of my childhood while watching Monty Python's Flying Circus. I, on the other hand didn't get it. I eventually caught on and was sold by middle school. But if you enjoy that sort of quiet silly humor the Brits specialize in then you too may become a fan of Dibley. Try it on Netflix and let me know what you think. (Trooperdog, you of all people would probably get a kick out of how this fantastic Vicar handles her crazy flock. Here's a taste.)

Snap, Crackle, Pop


Yesterday, Mom and I saw Ghost Town. It made me laugh and was more poignant than I expected and Ricky Gervais was great. However, it would have been much better had the moron behind us not insisted on repeating every single joke line in the entire film. I've come across a lot of morons in theaters but this woman was truly remarkable. Her volume was incredible and her "insightful" comments, that often followed the repeated laugh lines, were about 30 minutes too late to be even remotely interesting. (Come to think of it, in my entire movie going career I've never heard somebody around me whisper something I hadn't figured out eons earlier. I'm no brainiac but the average movie goer is one dim bulb, let me tell you.) I finally turned around and asked her to keep it down. She did but, naturally, could not stop speaking. She whispered from then on but was still beyond annoying.

As a result, I've decided I want to open a theater chain that is bossy and teaches morons how to be proper movie goers. Theaters are far too polite to patrons. Movie goers are rude inconsiderate imbeciles who don't deserve tact. In my bossy theaters I would disable all electronic devices. By this I mean I'd like them all to become magically powerless and the only way to get them to work again is to leave the theater and walk into the lobby. That would save me the annoyance of seeing a lighthouse worthy beam shine up from the lower seats as some idiot decides to text a friend or check worthless messages. I would also have burly ushers, not those scrawny high school kids, on the sidelines who would rudely shout out at those deserving jackholes "Unless you're a Doctor on call, it can wait asshole!" then snatch the device from their hands.

My favorite idea for my fantasy theater chain is to install voice activated tasers into each seat. I would pay extra to go to a theater that shocked the living hell out of any jackass that uttered a word. That would be better than any movie ever made. I don't mind laughter, so the seats would have to recognize the difference between speaking and laughing but whatever... Details, details.

So there you have one of my little fantasies. Yup, I'm weird. Of course, I also dream of living in a log cabin, in a forest, all alone. Maybe I'm not weird, maybe I'm just a granny who hates the unwashed masses more and more every day.

Wednesday, September 17

Times are hard


Well, after seven years with my current employer, it finally happened, I had to visit Bentonville Arkansas for a day of big fat Wal-Mart meetings. Pretty much everyone I work with visits Bentonville at least once a month for business. Looks like I'll now be one of those folks. Here are my first impressions of Bentonville, AR:

First of all, as we drove the back roads to our hotel, I couldn't help but notice the absolutely enormous cluster of three crosses lit up and looming over a nearby church. I've never seen anything like it. Being the rude heathen that I am, I blurted out "Praise Jesus, stage right!" Inappropriate? Yes. Could I help myself? No.

Bentonville is remarkably built up considering the entire city revolves around one retailer but when that one retailer is the Wal-Mart it's not so hard to believe. I was traveling in a pack of eight women. We all agreed to grab some dinner in the hotel restaurant at 10:00 pm after we checked-in. The poor waiter and busboy handling our table seemed completely freaked out by so much estrogen at one table. The poor guy pouring our wine did so with shaking hands. I'm not sure why we were so scary but we were. With new eyes I looked around the table and for the first time realized I work with some very pretty woman. I honestly don't think about it but that poor kid seemed to be very aware. Of course, nobody seemed to bat an eye at the 2 dozen men around the bar and lounge watching Monday Night Football but my gang of alpha females was apparently quite terrifying. I guess I'm just used to them.

As we left the restaurant to get some sleep, I noticed a sign at the end of the bar that said, simply "Times are hard, $2 beer helps". Amen.

While at breakfast a co-worker opened the paper to the weather section to check out the US map. "Where are we anyway?" she asked. I laughed and said "I know! I woke up this morning and realized I wasn't even sure where Arkansas was. It's over Louisiana, right?" Thank God I was right. The airport and news station kept referring to themselves as NorthWest Arkansas but I still have no real idea of where I was in terms of state lines. I'll have to look that up.

By the way, my favorite means of learning about a new city is to enjoy their local morning news crew. LA and NYC are very similar while most other markets are very relaxed and borderline goofy. They also tend to be hilarious although not always deliberately. It's always a great window into a place.

After going downstairs for my complementary breakfast (Fresh omelet bar? Sweet!) I returned to my room to change into my Spanx and business clothes. It was then that I had a terrible Paris Hilton variety thought. I was passing a rather large, scenic window when the sun hit my eyes. I thought, 'Sheesh! What's with that sun?!' as if I could actually be annoyed with the sun. What a bitch! It was, however, the brightest sun I've ever seen. It was then that I realized that Bentonville lacks the smoggy haze that diffuses my every day So Cal sun. It's bright people. Very bright. It almost blinded me.

Later, and armed with shades, a co-worker and I decided to visit a local Wal-Mart in preparation for our meeting. It was the best looking Wal-Mart I've ever seen. I can't begin to imagine the pressure on that store's Manager. It's within a few miles of Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters and was absolutely pristine. I was sort of in awe if it when my co-worker tugged on my shirt and said "Oh my God! Did you see that guy?!" I looked down the immaculate isle and saw a couple walking away. "They were both a little dirty but he had no upper teeth except for one big center buck tooth." I was so bummed that I missed that. I just mumbled something about it being the Ozark country (again...Bitch!). The same co-worker, while driving us off to our first meeting, stopped, pointed and said "Oh God... was that seriously a dead armadillo?" It was. I had been trying to ignore it.

All meetings and Wal-Mart store visits and meals were located somewhere off highway 540. I must say it makes getting around very simple. I was absolutely gobsmacked by the lack of traffic. While out and about at lunchtime we were stuck at a red light behind 5 cars when our sales guy said "What do you think of our traffic?" *sigh* I actually thought about what it might be like to move to a Bentonville-like city after I got a load of their highway traffic on the way to dinner. The highway was two lanes on either side and it looked about as busy as LA traffic at 4:00 am on a Sunday morning. Besides the jeep next to us, that was missing a door (don't worry the passenger was safely strapped in with a seat belt), there were only about a dozen or so other cars driving way ahead, behind and around us. I don't know if I'll ever get over that sight. It's a serious "pro" in the pro/con list. A friend and I discussed the pros and cons for living in a rural area and ultimately decided we'd always have to live within an hour of a Trader Joe's and a Laemmle theater to remain happy.

We had a very nice dinner at a great little place called the James at the Mill restaurant. The food was great and a good time was had by all. I even had some wine, which I never bother with.

So now I'm back at home and happy about it. All in all it was a good trip. My meetings went better than I'd dared hope and I'm feeling good about visiting again. Still, I'm torn about working with Wal-Mart. I've been boycotting them since 60 Minutes did a big expose on them about 20 years ago. I've been avoiding working on the Wal-Mart account for years but I can't avoid it anymore. The people are extraordinarily kind and smart I just have a problem with some of their controversial business practices. I realize this makes me a hypocrite and it bothers me but if I'm going to put on my big girl pants and succeed in my job I have to work with these guys. The power of Wal-Mart is a mighty thing indeed. I'm oddly fascinated by it. Sort of way I'd be drawn to Voldemort if ever confronted by him. It's weird.

This morning I met a friend downstairs and we stopped to get coffee for the road. She spotted a basket with political Beenie Babies. She picked up the blue donkey and squeezed it with a Oh how cute!" She then picked up the red elephant and pretended to kick it across the store and stomp it to a pulp. I, of course, cracked up but as we walked away I said :You know that check out girl thinks we're in league with the devil." My friend just shrugged.

On the way to the airport our sales person pointed out an enormous Wal-Mart distribution center that is over a mile long and God only knows how wide. I've never seen anything like it. How's that for sticking it to the stuck up city slicker? It was a rather surprising trip. Arkansas is a very pretty place and one I won't mind visiting again.