Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy new Year!

I for one, am happy to say goodbye to 2006! Wishing everyone a happy and healthy 2007!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alright, this kinda pisses me off

I just found this article on Yahoo News.

Arnold Schwarzenegger breaks his leg so badly, it requires a surgical repair, and he gets a nice 4 day stay in the hospital.

I break my leg so badly it requires repair, the nurses are sitting me up while I'm still doped up on anesthetics, dress me, sit me in a wheel chair and make my family wheel me out of the hospital the same night.

It's good to be rich and famous in this sometimes-stupid country.

The Latest Round of Hilarious Spammer Names

I've been collecting for a couple months, and hope you find this new collection just as entertaining.

Hoarded T. Crinkly
Militarize T. Importunes
Mangiest F. Seawards
Bagel S. Hearken
Erratas A. Pestled
Blanchard O. Doll
Retype B. Agree
Jockeying V. Contrast
Earthlings F. Landslidden
Hauptmann U. Citadel
Pendulum U. Dam
Suitable E. Inhalation
Grandstanding U. Postponed
Yelling H. Activates
Woodpeckers L. Louver
Clarion Q. Orly
Mayes L. Paddy
Homered S. Sony
Throughways R. Ration
Switchbacks S. Investigation
Floy F. Hays
Freebies R. Jubal
Administer D. Ireland
Medically I. Inception
Heartache F. Confirmatory
Grapnels V. Ascendant
Photocopies S. Casually (my 2nd personal favorite of this round for some reason!)
Senegal U. Stanchions
Firms I. Fundamentally
Relational E. Unwarier
Belief U. Therapies
Adulterates A. Biker (my #1 favorite this round)
Moistly L. Framework
Hunching E. Maternally
Interns T. Saucer
Cleanser A. Unpretentious

These really fizzled out for a while, but now they're starting to pick back up, so I may have some more soon. I hope everyone finds these as amusing as I do, but you all may just think I'm a nerd. Oh well. hehe

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I just want to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas!! I hope it's filled with only good things...

I'm here, surrounded by three of the people I love most. If the other two were here, life would be perfect. :-) But even now, it's pretty damned fantastic.

Love you all.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Day With Saturn


Yesterday was one of those days when NOTHING goes right.

I took my car in for an oil change and the state inspection. Should be easy enough, right?

Wrong. Poor Glerrts needed about $540 in repairs to be streetworthy by Virginia's standards.

So, fine, I"ll take the tire, the brakes, do what you have to do, just make my baby run!

And do it early, I have a doctor's appointment.

Ok, so it's all done, and I'm invited to the back room to come and pay for it.

So I whip out the old checkbook, and write a check. The woman runs it through a machine, and the machine beeps, and she gets a message prompting her to make a phone call.

She makes the phone call, and talks to someone, and when she hangs up, she says, "Your check has been declined."

Uh, excuse me!?

Me: "Can you tell me why?"

Her: No, there's nothing wrong with your account, everything seems to be fine, but they won't accept your check. Your account came back with no negatives, but they won't take it.

Me: Who did you talk to?

Her: I don't know. You'll need some other form of payment.

Me: Did you talk to the bank or someone else?

Her: I'm not sure, I'm not the regular cashier.

I hand over my Visa check card. BEEP! It's soundly rejected. Ok, this is ridiculous.

Her: Well, don't you have some other form of payment?

Me: No, I have a checking account, which is full of money, because Mr. Man got paid Friday. I don't understand this.

Her: Well, I don't know what we can do about this situation.

Me: I'll go over to the ATM across the street and bring back cash.

I drive to the ATM. I do a balance inquiry. As expected, everything is A-OK. Plenty of money in the account. I try to withdraw the money to cover the car payments.

ATM: Sorry, this amount exceeds your daily limit for withdrawal."


ATM: Would you like to try again?

Me: *Sigh*

Finally, I deduct my limit of $400 and go back to the dealer.

Me: Here's $400. Now, you run my card again and see if it'll accept the other $140.

Her: (whipping out calculator) Ok, so I'll be charging... *crickets chirping*


Why can't people do simple arithmetic??

So she runs the card, and lo and behold, it works. Saturn has their money, I get my car and my license back.

AUGH!!!!! And don't you know, I was late for the doctor?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I May Be Done With the Food Network People

So, last night was the Rachel Ray book signing.

On top of the grand disappointment that was the Paula Deen book signing, I was hoping for a little something more.

Instead, I think, if possible, I got something less.

No pictures within 5 feet of her. She did not so much as look up from the table when it was your turn. At least Paula Deen said, "Hello, sweetheart." When I said "Thank you" to Rachel, she more or less grumbled, "you're welcome"... I mean, this from Little Miss Sunshine? HELLO!?

Seriously, I was so disappointed. My book got handed to two of her handlers on one side, then it got passed to a handler after it was signed, and that final handler stuffed two stupid bookmarks in it to promote her shows.

But to treat the people who watch her shows so dismissively, I mean, seriously, that was just wrong. Considering I sat in line for 3 hours, to be rushed through with not so much as a "HI, thanks for buying my books and watching my shows" was beyond the pale. Honestly.

The only good thing about it was Melissa came to keep me company starting around 5:30--and since RR was an hour late due to DC traffic, well, it made the time go by a bit faster.


I mean, for crying out loud, Alan Alda, a revered veteran of stage and screen, gave me a full minute of his time. And he had a thousand people to get through.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Well, I've finally gotten some sleep and I'm rested and ready to write about my trip!

I left Friday night to go to Florida and of course, I got stopped at the security gate, and my toothpaste was confiscated. The Colgate mafia is probably looking to bring down planes all over the country, and they can't be too careful, so my beautiful tube of toothpaste is now consigned to some level of airport hell.

On the plus side, my flight arrived early, and since I didn't check any bags, once I found my mom, we were able to walk right out and head for home! The Orlando airport is a lot easier to navigate than the Tampa airport, in my humble opinion, so I was feeling pretty good.

Although I was still pissed off about my toothpaste.

So we get home and I got to see BUSTER the wonder cat, who now weighs, I would say, a minimum of 20 pounds, and I bet he's pushing 25. For anyone who doesn't know, Buster was the cat I took in when I lived in Arkansas and since Michael's allergic, I decided he would move to Florida. And I have to say, of all the cats I COULD have rescued, Buster has been 150% personality and just a fantastic choice. We all just love him. Plus his two sisters, Bianca and Hermia, but I must confess, I did not see Bianca in 4 days with the exception of about 15 seconds where she gave me the eye and fled back under the bed. Hermia has become quite affectionate--she used to be the "hide under the bed cat" but now she's all purring and cuddles, which is nice. And my mom's new dog, Sidney, is just the most hilarious little dog. He's a chiuhuahua (however the hell you spell that) and he is Mr. Personality in a 4 pound package. yes, Mom has a 4 pound dog and a 25 pound cat. Go figure.

So anyway, Saturday dawned bright and clear, and we decided we'd spend the evening at the beach to go check out the space shuttle launch, but first a tour of the beach! So we went over to Mom's favorite IHOP and then went down to the beach.

Let me tell you something about Vero Beach.

For some reason, the waves come in to a point, and then they stop. And what happens is a big, 2 foot wall of sand builds up, and then there's a plunging cliff. But since it's made of sand, it's not particularly sturdy.

So we decide to shoot some video of me, in the ocean, in December. I give Mom the camera, walk down to this cliff and it crumbles beneath my feet and down I go and the waves are coming and the beach is full of jelly fish, and I get up and run into the oncoming water, and hop back out and yell to find out if mom got the footage, because there was a jelly fish swimming over my foot (how stupid are jelly fish? Every time I go to the beach, I see dozens of them washed up on shore. Can't they navigate?)

So I look up, and Mom's coming down the stairs and I'm trying to climb back up this cliff, which you guessed it, continues to crumble, and she's standing there, laughing, and I'm covered in sand, plus I'm wet, which is charming. (And the water was absolutely FREEZING) And Mom says she's not sure, she could only see herself in the camera. Hmmm. So we get back in the car, and I turn on the playback feature and discover that my mom has video taped her feet.

Oh, there's a bit of footage of me, from the waist up, but you can't tell really that I'm in the water, and then mom drops the camera to her side and films her feet.

It's a minor masterpiece. I may leave the thing in its entirety and post it on YouTube as is. An artistic view of my mother's feet, and not my own.

So we spent the rest of the day shopping for Christmas decorations and then Mom decides what she really needs is a new computer. Christmas is generally a good time to get a deal on a computer. So we go to Office Depot, where we disappoint the little old man who is the greeter, by not purchasing anything after he merrily points us in the direction of computers, and then go to Best Buy, where a very nice guy talks us almost into buying a computer there, but it doesn't come with a monitor that's flat and mom only has a small desk and the upgrade is a teensy bit more than she wanted to spend. But the General gives his blessing on that particular machine, so we tell him we'll be back if Circuit City has nothing better to offer.

So we go to Circuit City. And we find a machine that looks plausible--a bit cheaper than Best Buy, and a bit more bang for the buck. Plus for only $70, you can upgrade to a flat panel. So we're waiting, and 3 salesmen are wandering around helping ONE GUY, and ignoring us. And Mom's getting hot under the collar, all "I guess they don't like serving women" and all and I was getting a bit cheesed, but then this young guy comes over and asks if he can help us. Now, I'm telling you, this kid looks like he's all of about 10 years old. So we point to the computer we're thinking about (which also gets the general's approval) and ask about it, and the sign says it costs $349, and we tell him we want that, plus the $70 upgrade to the flat panel monitor. So he pulls all the stuff out of the shelves, and we go up to the cash register, and he scans it all in, and the bill comes to $813.

So our eyebrows shoot over our heads and we're kind of like, "Wait a minute, this sign says $349."

To his credit, even he appears a bit confused, so he hits a button on the register and unfurls a pile of register tape and starts making calculations on the paper, and during the five minutes he is figuring out the price of everything, he actually (I swear to God I am not making this up) stands there and counts on his fingers.

Well, I guess the Yankee in me starts getting a little uppity, because I was getting impatient and I grab the $349 sign and I ask him, "What about this price right here? Can you just tell us what we have to do to get this price?"

And he looks at me just as angry as he can and says, "Wait, I'm not finished yet" and grabs the sign out of my hand and starts counting all over.

I look at my mom and she looks at me, I just about lost it. I was laughing that silent laugh when your whole body shakes from the effort of not bursting out laughing. Her mouth dangled in disbelief and then she had to try and hold it in too.

So eventually, he finishes up his complex set of calculations, and shows us how to get the $349 price, sort of. There are 2 mail in rebates worth $240, which drops the price to $573. The $349 + $70 upgrade is $419, and the rest is apparently made up in various taxes and whatnot, although frankly this is never made quite clear.

Well, not surprisingly, Mom doesn't have $800 to drop on a computer, so we tell him "Thanks anyway" and head out.

We go back to her house in time to get a phone call from the General who has considered the situation and says "Don't buy the Circuit City computer, it's not good" after all. So we dodged a bullet.

Mom's friend Judy comes over, and they decide to go be nosy. The town where my mom lives is getting all built up, although for no apparent reason, since at the moment no one is moving in. There is a place nearby where they are building homes that "start" in the $400's, and the two of them have been dying to go check them out. So we go on over there.

The realtor was a snot, and while the model itself was beautiful, I'm not sure I would have bought one. Some of the tiles had fallen out of the tub, there were various small flaws in the construction that I think they should have been embarrassed to show the model with those flaws showing. So Mom and Judy are busy exclaiming over the decorating and I was sitting there kind of fuming about it, because frankly, their furniture was way nicer than ours and it's just for display and that really gets me pissed off that they can afford to buy nicer furniture than I can and their furniture is not ever going to be used for anything. So I decided that if a couple of bars of their fancy French milled soap happened to fall off their granite vanities and happened to land into my pocket, I wasn't going to do a thing about it, and that is precisely what happened.

So we got back in the car, and Mom and Judy were hashing it all out, and I just burst out, "Well ladies, we can't afford their house, but it looks like we can afford their soap" and handed each of them their own little souvenirs of the place. Mom almost drove off the road.

Saturday night we went down to the beach and watched the space shuttle take off. It was an amazing sight. We were about 60 miles or so south of Cape Canaveral, and it was night time, and it was windy and cloudy and we were hopeful that the launch would happen, but we couldn't sit around at home and wait, since we had a little bit of a drive to the beach to start with, so we sat in the car and listened to the NASA transmissions on the radio and then hit the beach. Wow. When the thing finally lifted off, what an amazing sight to see. All of a sudden, the northern sky lit up like a brigh orange sunrise, and then this flaming dart shot out of the middle of it. Unfortunately due to the cloud cover, we were only able to see it for about 15 seconds before it disappeared, but it was mesmerizing. Definitely cool. And I shot the footage on that, so you won't see Mom's feet. :-)

Oh, and we went back to Best Buy and bought the computer there, which in total, with a flat screen monitor, came to $510. And God bless Best Buy, the guys who work there are all gorgeous.

On Sunday, Mom had gotten us tickets to see "A Christmas Carol" on stage. We spent the day channeling our inner Kathy Bates, yelling "TOWANDA!" and pulling down all the crappy blinds and shades in the house and letting in the sunlight. We installed curtains, cleaned out the garage, decorated Christmas trees, put up lights, listened to Christmas music, and put up the new computer and changed all Mom's old passwords. All of this is helping Mom reclaim her life from Asswipe, and I was only too glad to be a part of the transformation. Particularly when I got to wield a hammer.

So, we drive to the school where "A Christmas Carol" is being held, and Mom all of a sudden stops dead in the parking lot and says, "Did you see that?" Nope. She backs up, and there is a huge crab skittering across the lot. He/she was definitely lost. So we parked and stood around it until it safely reached the grass, figuring that was the best it was going to do. It was really neat to see, though!

So, we were given seats up in the "stadium level" of this school's auditorium. It made me weep to see what a state of the art facility they had. If I'm ever a quadrillionaire, I'm totally refurbishing Clifton Fine's auditorium. This place was gorgeous. So we people watched for a while, and then this dude in a tweedy coat goes down to the front and says in the most condescending voice you can imagine, "Now what's the first rule of going to the theater? We must do what?" and everyone replies like a bunch of stupid apes, "Turn off our cell phones." I rolled my eyes. I couldn't believe this guy was going to get away with that. Then he says, "And remember, no pictures, and only record your memories in your mind."

Yup this guy was up for the Mark Twain Award.

So, OK, the show starts, and to tell you how great it was, the two old ladies behind us fell asleep.

It's not that it was bad. It just wasn't well written. The acting and singing and the sets were great. But there was no point to the way it was all put together. For instance, when Ebenezer and Belle break off their engagement, she says, "I release you from your obligation, Ebenezer" and then breaks into a five minute song about how he's broken her heart. I mean, dump him and leave. Or sing to him and then dump him.

Towards the end, when Ebenezer learns whose grave he is at, and his name flashes up on the tombstone, rather than dramatically cutting the lights with only the tombstone showing and the sound of his sobs, he breaks into a five minute song. It could have been one of the most dramatic scenes in the show, but it was ruined by some idiot's desire to have a song thrown in there. Now, don't get me wrong, I *love* musical theater, and I *love* "A Christmas Carol" but it just didn't gel well. The only times the singing was appropriate was when the Fezziwigs had their party (although, frankly, Mrs. Fezziwig's sole character trait appeared to be that she would wave her head in the air to cause her pigtails to waggle back and forth) and when the Cratchitts had their own celebration. But again, I certainly don't fault the cast, they sang the hell out of it. It was just not a great idea.

Monday and Tuesday were spent on more remodelling and decorating, and Tuesday also included a very healthy nap. Also on Monday, I was tremendously excited to go see Paula Deen do a book signing.

I had sent my mom to get a ticket after she found out that tickets were required. Now, the tickets were free, and all the signs said if you had a ticket, you could get two books signed. Two book per person maximum. No problem. I wanted one for myself and one for someone else. So Mom bought me a book there to get our ticket and then I went over to Borders and used my holiday savings and their 30% discount and got a second cookbook for 4 whole dollars. So we go over there and I told Mom we needed to go early, since I know how these things are, and we left home at 4:30 and got there at 5:00 and there was already a line. There was nowhere to sit, and they wouldn't let you inside for the signing--everyone had to wait outside in line. So I decide to go in and scope out the situation. No podium, no anything, just a table. So I was like "Well, I guess she won't be speaking." So I go outside and we're standing around and Mom's talking to the people in line, and she sends me around the back of the building to the strip mall to get some drinks while we're there. Now, I don't want to sound too crabby, but there was nothing back there so I had to cross the street to go to a nearby Panera. And it was a 5 lane highway, with no signals and no crosswalk. Fortunately, it was not very busy. But people are honking at me while I'm standing on the freakin' median. "Um, hello, I'm not moving, so just drive your car and leave me alone." It was ridiculous. All for 2 pepsis. hehe

So I get back and around 6:30, they start letting the line move into the store, we're wending our way around the shelves like the chutes at Disney World, and then this woman comes through to check tickets. She grabs my bag and tells me that since I have only one ticket, I can only get one book signed. I asked her "What do you mean? It says two books per person?" and she says, "No, you need a ticket per book" and storms off. Now, the people behind us didn't qualify, because they didn't buy the right books. So wound up that they had extra tickets and agreed to get my book signed for me. But it was just wrong.

So 7pm, and out comes Paula Deen and her husband, Michael and literally, you got 3 seconds with her. She said to me, "Hello, sweetheart" which I missed responding because I was trying to get my mom to take a picture, and then passed my book to her husband, and that was it. That was it. I stood in line for 2 freakin' hours to meet this woman and didn't get to talk to her. It was a complete waste of time. I was SO disappointed.

So next week I'm going to go meet Rachel Ray and it better be an improvement over that one, I must say! My mom said she would not go to a book signing again, and I was also disappointed about that, since as you know, I've been to many amazing book signings in the past year. I mean, even Alan Alda took time to talk with me and personalize my book, and there were definitely more people at that book signing than at Paula Deen's. But her goal was to be done with it in 2 hours, and it led me to wonder, "Why bother?" I mean, what a disappointment for fans. I wasn't a big fan of hers, but I do enjoy watching her show and she does make some recipes that I've used that have come out really well, and this left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. Oh well.

So now I'm back home and relaxing. Heading to Orange County today and I'm so excited to do some rural driving. :-) It's nice to know that the bunnies survived without me and it sounds like Judy, the General and Joe all had a lot of fun while I was away, so I'm glad it worked out--I was a bit nervous to be gone so long. :-)

Till next time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

i'm back...

...I don't have it within me to blog about my trip to Florida tonight, it was a BLAST despite my initial worries about it. Mom and I did some pretty great stuff, and I had a marvelous time. I can't really do it justice when I'm tired, so I'll write about it tomorrow or the next day.

I also shot some fun video that I'll be putting on youTube, and I'll post the links here, if not embed them, when I get them uploaded. Again, the editing process is not going to happen tonight.


Basically, we got up at 4:15 this morning to head to Orlando so I could sit on the runway while DC's fog lifted, and when we finally landed, we got to sit on the runway some more because there was another plane using our gate.

And I had a meeting to get to, for which I was 25 minutes late.


On the plus side, we're getting our Christmas cards done tonight. :)

See you all soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Where Does the Time Go?

Just yesterday it was Thanksgiving... I have no shopping done for Christmas, nor do I have any of my cards sent out, or my indoor decorating complete. I haven't listened to Christmas CD's nonstop, nor have I baked all the cookies I need to. And on Friday, I leave for 4 days in Florida, smack dab in the middle of everything!!!

It's been crazy. In November, I got sick, and with NaNoWriMo, things got REALLY backed up around the house. I cleaned the daylights out of everything before my dad got here, but of course, Hurricane George and Hurricane Judy simultaneously swept through, and pretty much laid waste to my hard work. But I haven't done a whole lot to make up for it--the circulars from black Friday are STILL strewn around the coffee table... Too much energy to pick them up.

Plus my cold has been dragging on and on and on. To date I am mostly fine, although I do have a nagging frog in my throat.

I've been busy sending "the book" around and trying to solicit feedback from it. My in-laws LOVED it and Michael LOVED it, but haven't heard from my own family yet. I'm working on a little worksheet to give the people who read it and then I'll send it out to a few folks. I found an option for getting it published and copyrighted, and I'm hopeful that it might work out, but I have some work to do on it still. If you're interested in possibly reading it, let me know. We had our "Thank God It's Over" party last night here in Fredericksburg, but actually, I'm kind of disappointed that it's over. I don't know what to do with myself, and until I get some more feedback, I don't have any real ideas about areas for improvement. My sister gave me a couple of suggestions back in November for just one of the chapters, and I was able to add 3,000 words in one sitting, so it's definitely valuable to hear what other people think. Oh, and I read an excerpt at the TGIO party and was well received. So that's good.

I've started YouTubing for real, and have posted 5 (?) videos to date. I love the new video camera--it's tons of fun.

And before you ask, no, I don't know what I want for Christmas. :-P

Otherwise, it's quiet. I'll spend tonight cleaning the house and then tomorrow Michael and I are going to see "For Your Consideration." Then Friday night I fly out around 8pm. I haven't been to the Orlando Airport in a LONG time, so it'll be interesting to try and find my mother there. And just as I was getting Tampa down pat. DARN IT.

When I get back, fortunately it's a pay week, and so I can do the Christmas shopping for real, and will probably spend all day on the 22nd doing the baking. Cards, I just don't know... It's even a pain at this point trying to get to the post office. UGH.

So that's the update for now... Ta ta!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Not only...

...did I finish writing my 50K word novel in 30 days, but I also managed to read it to the General. :-)

I called my mother-in-law today after I got a message that she wanted to talk to me about it... She got a copy yesterday evening and had it finished by 11:30 this morning. I called her and got glowing reviews.

Now if only I could get my own mom and sister to read it...

(I'm still too nervous to send it to my dad, if he hates it, I'll be devastated)

Monday, November 27, 2006

It's Never Felt So Good

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My New Favorite YouTube Video

Thank God I'm not the only one who runs around my house doing such things... :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Night at the 9:30

Well, as many of you long time readers (all 3 of you) know, when I hit 30, I experienced a major shift in thinking. I came to the conclusion that I had hit the halfway point in my life, and the first half hadn't amounted to a whole heck of a lot. Oh sure, by conventional standards, I've done everything right. Advanced degree, successful marriage, home ownership, no unhealthy debt, had done a bit of traveling.

But the thing is, I'd spent a lot of time being "good." Playing it safe. Not taking chances. Not doing things that would seem out of character for me.

This year, I won the Oscar pool that Heather sponsored, and she gave me a book as a prize. It's entitled, "101 Things To Do Before You Die." Some of them are pretty silly and some of them I'm pretty sure I will never do, like joining the 16 mile high club by traveling into space. After riding the Mission to Mars ride at EPCOT, or whatever the hell the name of that ride is, there's no way in hell I'm going to space. And I'm fine with that.

But it got me thinking and I compiled my own list. I carry it around on a little index card in my wallet, and every now and again, something comes up and I add to it, but I never subtract. That list is a contract with myself. And it's private. And this weekend, for the first time, I got to add a check mark to one of the boxes, to mark it complete.

Ok, so this probably seems kind of crazy, but I've never, never, never been "clubbing" before. I've had an impression of what bars and clubs are like and what kind of people tend to be there, and they fall into one of two categories: a) high end trying to be glitzy or deliberately disgusting or b) total dives with no apologies.

If there is one thing I hate, it's pretentiousness and I've got no interest in hanging around with people who are showing how cool they are by sitting in a bar that's faux filthy or happy 70's discoland while they're dressed in sequined tank tops and designer jeans, sipping designer martinis. Nor do I have a whole lot of interest in hanging around with some guy named Ted while he works on his next hangover and we sit in a cloud of smoke and I can't move because I'm glued to the stool by God knows what.

Ok, now I know, unfair, undoubtedly. But I live in my own little world, and those are my choices in Susanland. But for some reason, I added "go to a bar/club" to my list, as I didn't think I'd ever be able to speak to hypothetical children I may or may not have about experiences I didn't have with any level of credibility if I hadn't done some of this stuff myself. And what the hay, it's supposed to be fun, right?

So, a few months ago, a blog I visit fairly regularly posted links to Ok Go's website with their treadmill and backyard dancing videos. I really thought the videos were cool, but I also really liked the songs, and I watched a few of the other videos, and the music was pretty good, so I went out and bought the CD.

Now, honestly, the CD took a little while to warm up to. One does not jump from the Lite FM to hard rock without a few misgivings. Out of the 13 songs on the CD, I found 5 that I really liked and probably 2 more that are OK, and the rest I can keep or leave, doesn't really matter. But considering the giggles I give my sister over Linkin Park (another story entirely), this is progress.

So I was perusing their website about two months ago, and happened to see that they were coming to DC to the 9:30 Club. So I told Michael about it, and he was up for it, and I told my sister, who said she would go, but I should be ready.

I bought the tickets and of course, Michael went to Rhode Island, but I didn't care, Judy and I were going and I sold Michael's ticket anyway, so all was well.

But I started getting little warnings in my excitement. Little "are you sure you want to do this?" and "it's in a real bad neighborhood" and "it's not a nice club" kind of warnings.

But I thought, "Great! That's what I'm looking for!"

And it was. I wanted to go to the kind of place where you can barely breathe for the cigarette smoke, where it's dark and cramped and loud and you get a little bit pushed around. I'm so up for that. Well, maybe not the bad neighborhood part.

So, Sunday morning dawns, the show is that night at 8:30 the opening band goes on, and my dad calls, and apparently he and Judy have been in serious discussions about this quest, and all bets are off. My father says I will not last an hour in there. I suspect Judy was secretly pleased to be tapped for this mission, since she would be able to report back on my success or failure.

So Sunday we hang out with Heather and Nancy and Steve and go to the movies in the afternoon, and then we decided to leave the car at Gallery Place and take the Metro to the club, since it really isn't that safe a neighborhood over at U Street and I had all my book club gifts in the car.

So of course, Judy's stomach has an attack, and we get above ground and we have to find a bathroom. So I'm looking around, and it really is a shitty neighborhood. There is a crappy bar, a couple of storefront pizza places, and a Subway. So I stop to look at a map, stupidly, in front of two shady looking characters and look up to discover Judy is booking it halfway down the block. So I run and catch up with her, and she hisses, "This is not the kind of place you stop and consult a goddamn map" which strikes me as hilarious. But we get to Subway, and of course, you can't use the Subway bathroom without being a customer, so I bought some cookies and soda and wait until she gets done.

Finally she's finished and we head out, and we have some directions concerning Vermont Avenue, but we're not sure, and finally I just go with my gut and tell Judy where to go, and thankfully it turns out that I'm right. We passed guys who were passed out, boarded up former homes and businesses and everything is dark, there's no lights, and everything smells like urine. So I was thanking God when we turned a corner and Judy said, "That's it, thank God, that's the club!"

Well, the club was everything, and more, that I'd hoped it would be. It was a squatty, two story industrial building with no windows. A giant radio tower was on top of the roof, and the whole thing was painted blue. Big, husky bouncers in black shirts, spotlights tracing circles in the sky, and laminated 8X11 sheets of paper tacked to the side of the building announcing "SOLD OUT".

I told Judy when we left that I was concerned that I was underdressed in my jeans and red shirt with little bedazzled gem thingies on the collar and cuffs. She assured me that, if anything, I was overdressed, and by and large that appeared to be correct. So we stood in line and I occasionally looked for the girl who was coming to get the tickets and frankly, I just felt completely alive. I think my senses were a bit heightened from the harrowing 4 block walk from the Subway, but I also was just so excited to be going in.

They opened the doors at 7:30, and Judy went up and secured us seats on the balcony. By seats, I mean she sat on the lower level of the built-in risers that would allow the people up there to see over the heads of the people standing along the railing. I found Angie and gave her the tickets and then went in myself.

Oh, the 9:30 Club, how you are everything I hoped you would be.

Pretty much everything inside was painted black. I doubt that the club ever gets aired out, since the air was already smelling of cigarette smoke. Dim sconces lit the walls, and you could barely see anything once you got out of the entryway. I went up the stairs and Judy was sitting at the bar, and we made our way over to the balcony where we wound up sitting. We were about 50 feet back from the stage, maybe 10 feet up.

I knew there would be 2 opening acts, and I had not heard of either of them. At 8:30, the first act took the stage, the Swedish singing sensation "Quit Your Day Job."

I'm going to chalk their songs up to their lack of English. I can't really think of any other reason for the music they were singing. Every single song they sang consisted of one line screamed over and over and over again, with the exception of the haunting "Beat Your Boss" which had two lines.

In addition to "Beat Your Boss" there was "Sperms are Germs" (which they graciously dedicated to all the ladies in the house) and "Piss on the panda" which I was shocked to discover went down like a house on fire in the city where our panda cub is the National Zoo's shining star... Their big gimic, however, is their keyboardist, a fairly large guy, totally bald, who spent the set either spitting on himself, on the lead singer, or all over the stage, while proceeding to strip down to his gray undies. He even took the time to remove his socks.

I think you can imagine, it was beyond fantastic. Judy was in tears she was laughing so hard, and all these 15 year old girls were just screaming and totally beside themselves.

The next group was frankly kind of a sleeper after that. The French Kicks took the stage at 9:30 (see, Dad? I did last more than 60 minutes!) had a lead singer who exuded a moody introspectiveness, and I couldn't understand a word they were singing. Between each song, the singer would announce, "Thank you, thank you, this is our last night on the tour... Our last night. Man..." and then they'd hit it. I think the girls behind us were probably big fans, because they were screaming and dancing around. And finally it was "This is our last song of our last night on the tour, man, and you've all been really awesome."

And then we all figured it was OK GO time...

Yeah, right. It took until 10:40 until the idiots working the stage had it ready and OK Go went on. Something was going on with the sound system--I don't know if the amplifiers weren't working or the sound guy just dropped his lo mein into the sound board, but everyone was getting pissed off. The grumbling started and clapping, screaming, etc. and finally the lights dimmed and the band took the stage.

Well, I don't have to tell you, they were just great. And it turns out the lead singer is from DC so he played to the hometown crowd, which was cool. They played every song on their latest CD and they did some pretty cool stuff, like they set up a stage right in the middle of the crowd and played out in the middle of the pit for a while. They also played their song "Oh Lately It's So Quiet" which I love and had everyone get out their cell phones and twirl them around, which I must admit, looked pretty darned cool, particularly in the smoke and haze.

So around 11:40, they had run through all their songs and decided to play some covers, and I just had a funny feeling it was time to get out of there and head back to get the car.

So we left, and as we cross the street to head for the Metro, these two shady characters come up to us.

Now, I have to say, I could not hear one goddamned thing. My ears were ringing from the noise of that place, and I was in my own happy place.

So this guy starts yakking at us and says "I hate that club you all just came out of." Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooh-kay.

So he starts yelling, I guess he figured we couldn't hear him.

And all of a sudden, Judy takes off like a shot.

But I could tell this guy had somewhere to go, so I was going slowly, as I figured that it was better he's in front of us than behind us. But this is an important rift in the philosophy my sister and I have. In her opinion, outrun the bastards. In mine let me fall back and see what they're up to.

So he's really ranting now, "I'm whiter than you two will ever be black. I'm whiter than you two will ever be black."

Sir, I'd venture a guess that I'm probably the whitest white girl you'll ever meet. But let's not debate the finer points of racial profiling right now, shall we?

My sister finally stops and we let him go, but then she asks me did I hear what he said? And I said I had agreed with him, but she looked kind of strangely at me, so I asked her, and she said that he had firmly stated, "I may be homeless, but I'm not harmless."

Well, OK, I just about peed my pants.

So we get over to the Metro station and isn't the damned escalator broken still? And I look up, and see this guy across the street looking at us, and Judy's looking at him and I'm trying to decide how to navigate the escalator because I HATE walking escalators like they're stairs, and all of a sudden this guy starts jogging across the street right towards us.

Very calmly, I must give her credit, my sister says, "Kate, run."

My brain just kicked into a new mode and I flew down those stairs. My left leg didn't even stop to consider if it could handle that yet. We got down those stairs, and I just ran over to the operator's booth, and Judy was right behind me and we hung out there for a minute, but the guy didn't wind up following us down, thank goodness.

We go down to the platform and aren't we there just in time to catch THE LAST TRAIN out of there? I was like "Thank you, Jesus! So glad we left when we did!"

But I have to say, I felt so giddy and alive once the experience was over, it really gave me great hope for the rest of my list being fulfilling! The bands were, in their own way, each something special, OK GO was fantastic, the club was everything I wanted it to be and more. And I think I made my sister a teensy bit proud of me, which was just the icing on the cake.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tonight I'm making the final push

I'm at 38.7K out of 50K and tonight, I'm making the big push towards completion on my novel, The Spectre of Frankie Stanton.

I've started a forum over at NaNoWriMo's website, and I'll be checking in there once an hour until I'm done. You'll find it under "NaNoWriMo Ate My Soul"... If anyone's up and wants to cheer me on, leave a comment here or there!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

NaNoWriMo & YouTube Updates

Well, it has been a little while since I've posted to my blog, mainly because I was a) out of town; and b) didn't want to waste words here while I've been writing my NaNoWriMo book.

When I started writing my novel, I had great aspirations of writing the western version of "Gone With the Wind" or something like that. In fact, it's just turned into your basic chick lit kind of book, and not the epic novel I had planned. I have no problems with that--I may not have an epic novel within me. I may just have to write something a little bit fun.

In any event, today I crossed the 30K line. Considering that for at least 3 of the first 15 days of November, I didn't write anything, 30K is pretty freakin' impressive. It adds up to roughly 80 pages. Probably a bit more. I just discovered that my compilation file has crapped out. So I'll have to do it over again.

We spent the long weekend in Kentucky last weekend, visiting my friend Tim and his family. Wow, what a blast. I haven't seen Tim in WAY too long--six years. He and his wife are the nicest people, the most gracious, you would ever want to meet. His two daughters are adorable. Tim has a HUGE plot of land, and he got a golf cart to use while he does the weedwhacking and all that jazz. I asked him if he'd teach Michael to drive it, and he said he sure would. I took some video and I've posted it on YouTube. You can find it at The film is quite jumpy since the 2-and-4-year-olds were jumping on me, plus I was laughing my head off when Tim would yell, "LEFT! LEFT!" or when they ran into a low tree branch. Michael did a great job for his first time driving.

The rest of the time was great as well. I had a ball playing with the kids--we need to get some of our own--and we saw the sights of Franklin, KY. This included a stuffed horse that had died in 1936, named Blinky. I may have to post the video of that as well.

So that's about all from here. Playing with the new video camera, visiting old friends, and writing my great novel. I'll check back in soon--I just want to keep up the pace!!! I've got a bad cold, so I'm trying to write through a clogged head. Not easy. :)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Will He Say It?

I've been addicted to election returns since voting yesterday... What I'm dying to know is, during his speech today at 1pm ET, will W say, "The American people have spoken"???? He says it when the American people agree with him, how about now that we so clearly don't?

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weekend Update

I can't believe the weekend has come and gone so quickly! It seems like just yesterday it was Friday, and now here we are, Sunday night, time for bed.

The weekend was great. As I stated in my last post, last night Heather, Ambareen, Judy and I went to see Barenaked Ladies in concert at the Patriot Center in Fairfax. It was an awesome show. We had great seats and they put on a heck of a performance. They were promoting their new album for the first half of the show and then for the second half sang all the old favorites. It was so touching when they sang "What a Good Boy", the four of us wrapped our arms around each other and sang and I about cried. It was great. They did 2 encores, which I've only ever seen once before. They had quite the warm up act, whose sound system was crap. Mike Doughty's Band or something like that. I turned to Judy and said, "Is my hearing going, or can you understand a word they're saying?" and she assured me that it wasn't me, it was the sound. The 4 of us made a little game out of "guess those lyrics". Heather won for "I go ski awesomely" and I won for "there's mustard on my life" or something like that. It was hilarious.

Otherwise, I spent much of Saturday NaNoWriting. Today, I relaxed--we listened to a lot of music, I caught up with Jer out in Ohio and Tim in Kentucky, and I took a nice nap this afternoon, only to be awakened by Michael screaming "TOUCHDOWN REDSKINS!" He's not a Redskins fan, he just desperately hates Dallas and wanted them to lose.

I NaNowrote this evening for quite a while, and broke the 20K mark. I might just get this damned thing done after all. I like writing my ending better than my beginning, so I'm going to have a lot of stuff in the middle to write and finish. But I figure I'll write what's inspiring me for now and worry about the rest as it comes. :)

This is a short week--we have Friday off due to the holiday--THANK YOU GOD. I'll be busy though, we've got to do our voting duty, I'm trying to get my school stuff straightened out because *drum roll* I am going back to school in the spring, and various and sundry other tidbits. So by the time we fly out on Thursday night to Nashville, I'll be ready to relax!!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

NaNoWriMo Update

Well, NaNoWriMo is moving along. I'm doing better than I ever thought possible. Knowing that at least 4 days this month I won't be able to do ANY writing at all, I figured I'd better get an early crack at it... For Veteran's Day, we're heading to see my buddy Tim from grad school, and when my dad gets here for Thanksgiving, all bets are off... So I gotta write right now!

I got up this morning to write in quiet (if you call bunnies hurling themselves against the closet doors quiet), and broke the 12,000 mark. I'm trying to move from point A to point B. I have the beginning written and I have the beginning of the end written, so I need to write the end and fill in the middle. It's a strange way to write.

Unfortunately, the middle is not currently coming to me... But I think it's pretty good so far, and eventually, when all the fury of NaNoWriMo is over, I'll probably be soliciting readers to read my "manuscript" and submit handwritten comments on their copies... Something to think about... :-) That's what Harry Shearer did and he read them all and slept on them, and then the ones that stuck out in his brain were the ones he worked on. I really like that idea.

Of course, distractions abound, as well!

This week, Michael bought us a Sony Handycam, which we've been wanting for quite some time (Well, not a Sony per se, but a camcorder)... The thing is almost as small as my digital camera, and quite easy to use to record on, but I'm just getting started on learning to load stuff onto the computer and such. We'll be taking it with us next weekend.

Tonight, Judy, Heather, Ambareen, and I are going to see the Barenaked Ladies in concert in Fairfax. I'm tremendously excited about that.

And of course, didnt' my state car pick Thursday afternoon to go on the blink? The circuits are loose or something--the digital odometer crapped out, and I can't get gas or keep track of mileage without it. So consequently, I've spent a lot of time in the VDOT garage. I've been writing longhand while sitting there and then transcribing onto the computer as I have the time... It's more tedious that way, but it gets done.

Last night we went to a "Marriage Builders" class, sponsored by one of the local churches here in Fredericksburg. It was very interesting--all the people were so nice and seem to have a lot of fun together, but they didn't make us feel like outsiders. We enjoyed it very much. We were at the Lonestar Steakhouse, and I kid you not, the service was so terrible that at one point when someone asked the waitress if she would bring him a glass of water, she rolled her eyes and stormed out of the room. We were all dumbfounded. There were about 18 of us, and we all ate in stages, as she didn't much feel like taking orders or bringing drinks or finishing taking orders around the table or anything. Whenever anyone would point out that we hadn't been served or those people hadn't gotten their drinks, she'd say, "I know, I'll take care of it in a minute" and disappear for 15 minutes. No one left her a good tip... And one woman's chicken was not even fully cooked. The next class is meeting at a Mexican restaurant, and I'm glad because I was not impressed with the Lonestar.

So that's what's new from Susanland. Back to the grind... :)

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo Day One

Well, I've started off with a bang, I'm already more than 1/10th of the way there. I wrote over 5400 words today. I'm trying to make up for time I know I'm going to lose next weekend when we go to Kentucky and over Thanksgiving when my dad is here. Who picked November anyway? I'd far rather do this in January when it's cold out and snowing, and we have a long weekend.

Oh well!

So far it's been easy enough. I had a basic idea in my head of where I wanted to go, and I'm not writing linearly, which I think is interesting. I wrote the first chapter and now I'm writing the middle of the end. I've written one and a third chapters of that.

Is anyone else having trouble with the site? I can't log onto it for love or money--I'm just trying to update my word count, and I'm hopeful that perhaps in the morning it'll be working again, or perhaps mid-month when some people may drop out.

If you're participating, let me know and we can add each other. I'll be needing support and encouragement once I get this "easy" part out of the way :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006


You know those little flashes when everything seems to be OK, those moments when life seems normal, and you're completely happy and everything's right with the world, and in the next instant, it's gone and you realize that the horrible thing you've put out of your mind is actually reality and it's here to stay?

I've been having those fleeting moments of happiness lately, where in my mind I think to myself at random moments, "When I get home I need to email Tim, I haven't talked to him in a long time" and in the next instant I realize it's because he's gone.

It's literally just an instant that I think about him still being here, and in the next instant I know he isn't and I'm being stupid, and then I wonder through tears, "Is it better to have those happy moments, or is it making it harder to get through this crap?"

Our little band of friends has given up talking about the whole situation, and I guess that's good, why drag down a good time, right? But I wonder what everyone else remembers, what everyone else is thinking. Are they thinking about Tim? Is anyone else missing him, is that hole in the room something only I notice?

I'm afraid to bring it up, because I don't know. I don't know where everyone stands, and for all I know, bringing the whole thing up could interrupt the one good day someone is having. Or maybe no one is thinking about it at all.

Dealing with someone's suicide is not only a shock to the system, but in many ways, it's terribly isolating. We missed our support group this week--after the week I had, I was just way too tired. Michael and I drove home Thursday afternoon and just as we got back, I said, "That group is tonight, but I have zero desire to drive back up to Woodbridge." And even though he admitted to feeling sad, and I was feeling sad, we decided not to go anyway.

I guess in a way, I want to sit down and talk about it, but in a way, I don't. The grief in the beginning was dealt with so unevenly that even that was getting me upset. I guess some of the fear is my own.

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's coming... won't be hearing much of me from the month of November...

This year, I'm going to do it. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Thought For The Day...

I just cleaned the Rabbit Room.

If bunny poop suddenly becomes a tradeable form of currency, Donald Trump is going to want my number.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

An Evening with Harry Shearer

When Judy and I love something, we love the daylights out of it... Granted, it has to be something that for some reason captures our imagination as "extraordinary", but once we find it, typically we latch onto it, and don't let go. Thus far, there is one movie and one movie only we have in common that we both can't get enough of.

Said movie is Oscar. It is a comedy from when we were much younger, starring Sylvester Stallone as a mobster who wants to go straight, as that is his dying father's final wish. As far as I am concerned, it's probably one of the most clever and hilarious movies ever. There are a lot of people, most people probably, who look at me like I have 3 heads when I say that. Tough. :-) Judy and I always put it in when we're in a mutual bad mood, and thank God for DVD's, because over the years, we burned through a couple of VHS tapes (although to be fair, one died when it got stepped on).

Last summer, Peter Riegert (who I'm sure is much more well-known for his role in Animal House) came to Bethesda to promote his new movie, King of the Corner. In Oscar, he plays a mobster-turned-butler, and I was tremendously excited to meet him. We all went up there, and when we pulled out "Oscar" he about fell on the floor. He couldn't believe someone wanted it autographed. His direct words were, "Oh my God, Oscar!"

After the stunning success of the Peter Riegert venture, we decided it would be our lifelong goal to have as many members of the cast as we could find sign the DVD. We came close to getting Tim Curry, but not close enough, and are nowhere near Sylvester Stallone or Marisa Tomei, but Mother Luck shined upon us, and sent Harry Shearer (who played one of the Finnuci Brothers, a tailor) back to DC last night.

This was not as easy as it sounds, however!! He was actually here a month ago, and I didn't go to meet him because my ladies' supper club was meeting. I agonized and agonized about it, but finally I decided that it would be more important to spend time with my friends, some of whom I do only see once per month.

While at the Alan Alda book signing, a woman told me about a website where you could find a listing of celebrity book signings all over the country, and I found it via google. (Since I'm nicer than she was, I'll give it to all of you:

Imagine my delight when I found out that Harry Shearer was coming back to sign copies of his first novel! So, of course, I decided, this was it, I would get my second autograph on the DVD. There was a minor glitch, being that the signing was going to happen in Georgetown which means a) driving into the city, which I don't like, but there's no transit) and b) finding parking, which can be a bear over there.

Now, since Mr. Shearer is quite well known as the voice of The Simpsons and as one of Christopher Guest's big ensemble players and musicians, we figured there'd be a heck of a crowd. I went early enough that I got 2 seats dead center, first row. There were seats set up for 50 people. I was shocked. I was sure there would be a lot of people there. When it came time for the signing, there were MAYBE 75 people there. Compared to the 100's I was expecting, that was kind of sad. However, Mr. Shearer was suffering an ocular migraine and was jet lagged, so it was probably better that he didn't get stuck with a huge crowd :-)

Barnes and Noble Georgetown needs to get its act together in introducing these people however!!! The guy they had working the store-wide speakers had no idea what he was doing, mispronouncing names (at one point after Harry had entered the store, he was sitting across from us in a back corner of the store and the guy announced that Henry She-har would be upstairs and Harry just looked at the ceiling and laughed), stumbling over his words, the whole 9 yards. The guy who was in charge of special events introduced Harry as a star of "A League of Their Own" so Harry first said, "I don't want to embarrass my friend here, but IMDB or Wikipedia had it wrong, I was never in 'A League of Their Own'."

Anyway, the small crowd worked well for us!! Harry didn't mind signing memoribilia, so Judy got a copy of the "A Mighty Wind" soundtrack autographed, and then I stepped forward and handed him Oscar. His reaction was the exact same as Peter Riegert's: "Oh my God, Oscar!" We had a good laugh over the whole thing, and he signed it and then agreed to pose for a picture with us.

It was a lot of fun and a great evening. I think it's my last book signing for a while--I'm planning to go meet President Carter on 11/28 in Bailey's Crossroads with a co-worker of mine. In December, I'm going to my mom's and we're going to go see Paula Deen at a book signing there. It'll be a great way to wrap up my most literary year!

UPDATE: Blogger likes me again.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Weekend Update

Not too much to report.

The great dog experiment has failed... Michael once said, "Susan, we're not camping people" and I have now said to him, "Honey, we're not dog people."

Thursday night we brought home 2 darling Italian greyhounds. I had desperately wanted iggies since my own died in 2001. We saw a lovely family on Craig's List DC and met with them in person, and all was well, and we picked up the dogs and brought them home. But sadly, it did not pan out. They developed a taste for hassenpfeffer, so we had to return them this morning. All 3 bunnies are fine, but I think TomTom in particular is glad to have his kingdom return to some normalcy.

We went up to the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church today for their Bazaar Rus. We all ate way too much delicious Russian food (the beef stroganoff was out of this world), and enjoyed looking at some greatly overpriced Russian handicrafts. Seriously, Christmas ornaments that the Orthodox Church near Boston used to sell for $5 were on sale at this church for roughly 6 times that amount. It was shocking. So we didn't buy anything other than our food.

I have a new addiction that is slowly overtaking MySpace in my world: YouTube. I've started getting addicted to people's video blogs, and it's all getting a bit too serious... But I can't quit watching. The old men talking about the war, the drunks, the satirists, hell I'm even addicted to LonelyGirl15. I thought I'd post my viewing list... For a good laugh, you've got to check out KarlDaly81 at The guy is an absolute genius. I've probably watched all of his videos 10 times. Sadly he only puts up new videos every week or so, so in the mean time, I watch all the old ones... I also LOVE Geriatric1927 at He also is only putting up one or two a week, but they're so full of wonderful memories about growing up during WWII that each one needs to be rehashed several times anyway to really get the full experience out of them. I also love to watch BradThunder at He's got the most soothing persona ever, and shows some great stuff. He's pretty new, but I would expect that he'll have great things to say about life in general. He's got a beautiful accent and just really relaxes me. The video he just posted of him walking his dog was awesome.

I am plugging away at "Ragtime" for the book club. My mom is reading the selections that we read for Lit Chicks, and I was thinking that since she wants to participate, it might be interesting to start my own book club on Yahoo Groups to have a sort of "on line Lit chicks" as well as the real life one. Anyone interested? We could select books and discuss them via email just like a real book club. Distance would be no barrier. It would be cool!

Well, I guess that's about all from here. I need to vacuum the house and put the dishes in the dishwasher. I will now be here for Thanksgiving, since, sadly, too many factors were stacked against me to go to my mom's house for the holiday. I'm now planning to go to Florida in December and we'll go meet Paula Deen at a booksigning in my mom's new town. It'll be pretty cool. So, my dad is coming to spend time with Judy and me, so if anyone is lonely and in DC for Thanksgiving, come on over for the most incredible turkey you've ever had... :) Saturday, we're all loading up and heading for my dad's alma mater, Rutgers, to take in a football game with his beloved Scarlet Knights (who are now, according to his euphoric phone call last night, 6-0 and Bowl Game eligible). Go 'gers!!!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Book Club Selections So Far...

We had our meeting on Monday, October 2nd, and I'm only just getting to the point where I'm sitting down to write out what we selected to date... Granted, I've been at the computer loads, I just haven't felt like blogging until today... Bad Susan. :)

Well, to start off with, I selected The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. The minute I read the description after Lesley recommended it, I was tremendously excited to read it, but never quite got around to it. Now I will have the chance, but not until June next year. (I'll probably read it before that, however!)

We will be reading Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow for our November book. I've started it, and it's pretty good, but I do seem to fall asleep a fair amount when reading it, which is funny because I'm enjoying the vignettes. It's my sister's FAVORITE BOOK EVER, she wrote a 25 page thesis on it, so I'm hoping that she will get some favorable reviews from the girls. I'm not sure if they'll love it or hate it.

After that, we'll be reading Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, which is quite funny since Melissa gave me that book for my birthday. I've been reading it more than Ragtime, I must confess, and I'm really enjoying it. The women in it are fascinating.

The other 3 books that have been selected thus far are Hannah's Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson, March by Geraldine Brooks and The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Everyone else has been not quite sure about their book choices for the year. So I'll post them as we get them! :)

My mom is interested in joining as a cybermember of the Lit Chicks, and I'm mulling over how to make that happen. I considered setting up an online Yahoo Groups kind of book club. Don't know if it's been done before, but we'll see...

What's Wrong With Good Ole Fashioned...

...hand washing?

This has been bothering me since it happened a week and a half ago, so I've decided to blog about it...

This comes with the disclaimer that: I AM NOT A PARENT. So I really can't say for sure that I wouldn't be the same, but I don't think I would... But I don't know.

So, every now and again, a news story comes up that basically states that with all the drugs and such that we are using nowadays, we are creating a hearty strain of bacteria and germs that are antibiotic-resistant.

Just yesterday on NPR they were talking about how handwashing is the single most important thing you can do to reduce the spread of germs, and how 78% of people either a) don't wash their hands at all after using the bathroom; or b) don't wash their hands long enough to do any real good after using the bathroom. SEVENTY EIGHT PERCENT. That's just gross. And I was just patrolling the CDC website and several others, and they have actually launched campaigns about handwashing. CAMPAIGNS. Meaning tax dollars are being spent to tell people to wash their hands. What the hell? Weren't we supposed to learn to do this in kindergarten?

So anyway, the other day, I was in line at my new favorite place for lunch, Panera. And in front of me were 3 women, and each woman had 1 or 2 children with her. They had just come in from someplace, I don't know where, but they must have been outside, since they were dressed for it (sunhats, sweaters, etc.), and the kids looked a bit dusty.

They had given each kid a piece of bread from the sample tray, and the kids were happily running around, screaming, eating their bread, and just being kids. All of a sudden, one of the moms, in the midst of ordering I might add, shrieks, and demands her child comes over to her, takes the bread away and begins madly rifling through her purse. She is somewhat manic because she can't find her Purell. Mom #2 offers her bottle, and she squirts some on the kid's hands and makes her rub them together, then gives her the bread back and continues ordering.

So my brain immediately starts working, and I started to wonder all of the following...

1. The kid had already eaten half her bread. Why didn't they go in the bathroom when they entered the store and WASH THEIR HANDS???

2. Purell does a bang-up job of killing germs, but aren't the kids hands still dirty?

3. Isn't 2 or 3 years old a bit young to use Purell?

4. Since she used a sizeable glob of Purell and it didn't evaporate entirely on the little girl's little hands, isn't possible that said child was now eating Purell on her bread?

5. Is such a use of Purell leading us down the primrose path of finding Purell-resistant bacteria? And then what? Are we going to have to dip our hands in bleach? And what happens when bleach no longer works?

The thing is, Purell has its uses, and I use it regularly, because I see so many clients, and some of them are quite ill or don't live in the most sanitary conditions, and for me, it's a good stop gap between houses or between places I can wash up. But in no way, shape, or form, does it take the place of handwashing.

I dunno, maybe it's a symptom of our "gotta have instant gratification, instant results" culture these days. For the folks who now Swiffer instead of mopping, and reheat potroast from a plastic bag instead of cooking, maybe Purell is the just the logical next step to handwashing. But it strikes me that it a) doesn't solve every problem and b) could lead to bigger problems down the road.

(I never knew I was such a hygiene freak)

Sites on handwashing:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

All Grocery Stores Are NOT Created Equal

Ok, well, basically since I'm cheap bastard, as my husband would say (he wouldn't call me a cheap bastard, but he uses the phrase occasionally), I have always shopped at the grocery store on the corner. Until recently, said grocery store was a Food Lion. Around Memorial Day, they underwent intensive remodelling and re-opened as a BOTTOM DOLLAR FOODS...

Now, prior to this change, the Food Lion was not too bad a place. It looked a little dated, but I shopped there because a) it was the same food loads cheaper than Yuppie-Heaven/Giant; and b) it was close to the house. There was a nice mix of people there--some like me who wanted to save money, a lot of single people, and a lot of folks who didn't appear to have a lot of money too, judging by their WIC checks and such. (I have no problem with those people, incidentally, I know a lot of people in my hometown who, through no fault of their own, had to depend on WIC a lot, and saw the good it did.)

Damn, I'm getting off on a lot of tangents here.


Immediately after the place became Bottom Dollar, it was advertised as THE place to save. They eliminated the deli, widened the aisles and dropped about 4/5 of their products. They advertised that while most grocery stores carry about 30,000 items, they would carry 6,000 and all of it quite cheap. Ok, fine with me... But I immediately had a couple of beefs with the place.

Number one, they now charge for grocery bags. This royally pisses me off. I flat out refuse to pay for them. I would much rather pay an extra penny on my Cheez-Its than pay 5 cents for a stupid grocery sack. What the hell?

Then I started shopping. They have the strangest system. Not only do they only have 6,000 items, but they don't have the variety you might expect.

For instance, let's take the aforementioned Cheez-Its. They have 6 or 7 varieties and brands of Cheez-its. This appears to be a big ticket item in the Bottom Dollar food chain. But, pudding? You cannot buy chocolate pudding over there. You can get vanilla, you can get tapioca, you can get rice pudding, but not chocolate. What the hell????

Well, I went in last night to pick up 3 or 4 things, and the place has just become SO low rent. Seriously. The clientele, a term I use as loosely as possible, seems to have deteriorated to the town drunks, freaks, and generally the very strange.

For instance, I was walking past the case of $2.00 Ben and Jerry's (about the only thing the store has going for it at this point) last night, when a little girl (she couldn't have been more than 9 or 10) came flying around the corner, planted herself in the middle of the aisle, and began to do the stripper dance.

For those of you who are as white as I am, let me explain the stripper dance.

I first heard about it when I rented the documentary, Rize, on my Netflix. I had heard about "clowning" and "krumping" after seeing a trailer for Rize, and they explained it very well in the documentary. It's a form of dancing the street kids have developed in LA to keep out of gangs and reduce teen violence.

And apparently, a good part of it has to do with the stripper dance. What you do is, you plant your feet about shoulder length apart, and stick your butt out, bending your knees to accomplish a good butt-stick-out. Then you just shake that thang up and down as fast as you can, like a stripper. I swear to God I am not making this up. The sick thing is, while watching the documentary, I tried it, and it's actually about the easiest dance in the world. You will never see me dance like that, but I could if I were forced to stripper dance for my life. Well, if it keeps kids off drugs, who am I to judge?

So, I here I am in the dairy aisle, surrounded by ice cream and raw cookie dough, and here's a little girl stripper-dancing in front of me, when suddenly her family comes around the corner, and she yells, "How do you like me shakin' it now!?" Mom had the decency to look slightly mortified, but not much, and the other kids attempted to run into "it" with the shopping cart.

After leaving that charming little tableau, I headed to the register, where the biggest collection of scruffy individuals I've ever seen were standing around with cases of Coors Light and a 12-year-old young lady. As I went past them, they were discussing returning to the trailer park to "tie one on"...

So, low rent patrons, payin' for bags, and no chocolate pudding is looking like it's adding up to me making a once weekly trip to Central Park to shop at either Shoppers or Walmart Supercenter. Although, I probably wouldn't get some of the entertainment out of it if I go elsewhere... It's a point to debate. We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Little Bit of a Book Binge at Borders

One of the worst things about living in Fredericksburg is that, instead of my beloved Barnes and Noble, we have a Borders. Now, mind you, any book store is better than no bookstore, but Barnes and Noble feels more like, "Come in, sit down, read, and stay a while" and Borders is more "what do you want to buy and get out"... (Although, I did go to the Borders in Warrenton VA yesterday and it was amazing, so not all Borders are created equal.)

In any event.

My mom came to town this weekend and we spent a good bit of time book browsing. At Borders. Because it is Year 3 of Lit Chicks, beginning in November, and we are all announcing next year's book choices at our October meeting. And I had no idea what to pick.

I always ask Lesley for book ideas, and she always obligingly provides them, and then I go to the bookstore and browse the shelves anyway, and usually a book absolutely leaps off the shelf at me and I don't wind up using Lesley's selections. (I have a whole folder of suggestions in my favorites, as well, of books that have been recommended.)

Well, miracle of miracles, Lesley, I'm going with one of your selections this year. :-) I'm not going to post which one, just in case the girls tune in for a sneak peak. However, it's a book I've been wanting to read for a while and I'm excited about it.

Now, some other books did jump off the shelf at me while I was shopping and browsing, and I thought I would post them here to see if anyone's read them. I'll also post a couple reviews of the last few books I've read.

The first one is a book that I literally rushed through the end of Augusten Burroughs's Running With Scissors to get to. The cover caught my eye--the feel of the paperback and the overall simplicity of the design, and I read the back of the jacket outloud to Judy and we both commented, "Wow, that sounds pretty darned good!" It is Marina Lewycka's A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. It was nominated for the Man Booker prize (not that that means anything to me, so was Life of Pi) and has been translated into 22 different languages.

From The New Yorker:

In this comic first novel, two estranged sisters living in England discover that their addled elderly father, a Ukrainian war refugee and expert on tractors, is planning to marry a young, enormous-breasted woman who sees his modest pension as her ticket to capitalist comfort. The sisters put aside their differences, and embark on a spirited campaign to save him from boil-in-the-bag dinners, slovenly housekeeping, and such extravagant purchases as a broken-down Rolls-Royce. In the midst of these machinations—which include long-winded letters to solicitors, venomous gossip, and all-out spying—Lewycka stealthily reveals how the depredations of the past century dictate what a family can bear.

Then my mom happened upon her favorite book while growing up, Betty Smith's Joy In The Morning and we got talking about A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, and I've decided to take a crack at it. It's one of those books that everyone raves about, but you never quite get around to reading, and I'm not sure why or in what context, but I've heard people talking about it lately, and decided that, what with my mom stumbling upon it, it was a sign that I should read it.


Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny. She is her father's child--romantic and hungry for beauty. But she is her mother's child, too--deeply practical and in constant need of truth. Like the Tree of Heaven that grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. Betty Smith's poignant, honest novel created a big stir when it was first published over 50 years ago. Her frank writing about life's squalor was alarming to some of the more genteel society, but the book's humor and pathos ensured its place in the realm of classics--and in the hearts of readers, young and old.

Another book which looked just too good to pass up was Lee Martin's The Bright Forever. This one was nominated for the Pulitzer, but I think mainly I was just hoping to find something that would put the disappearing child genre back in my good books after I could not stand The Lovely Bones. I've read the first 30 pages of this book and it's a quick read, but very, very good so far. I'm looking forward to reading more of it after I finish Tractors. I hope it's going to be as good as I want it to be.

From Publisher's Weekly:

The halting, harrowing narrative of Martin's second novel (after 2001's Quakertown) draws upon multiple voices to piece together a tragedy with its own slippery backstory. On a summer evening in an "itty-bitty" Indiana town in the 1970s, nine-year-old Katie Mackey rides her bicycle to the library and never comes home. Her father, Junior Mackey, owns the town's glassworks, and to the town's residents the Mackeys are like the Kennedys, envied for their looks, their wealth and their picture-perfect life. Peeling back the layers of his characters, Martin slips easily into their darker, secret lives—lives that may harbor clues to Katie's disappearance: Henry Dees, the reclusive math tutor who sometimes lurks in the Mackeys' house; Clare Mains, the widow shunned for remarrying out of loneliness; her galling husband, Raymond R., whose drug binges and blackouts occupy stretches of unaccounted-for time; Katie's parents, freshly tortured by their own tarnished past; and Katie's brother, 17-year-old Gilley, who seizes the chance to gain his father's approval by avenging Katie's death. Rich details and raw emotion mix as Martin, in engaging the human desire to excavate the truth, underscores its complex, elusive nature.

For my birthday, Melissa gave me Angry Housewives Eating BonBons by Lorna Landvik. I did get slightly distracted by Running With Scissors, so I'm only about 50 pages into it, but so far, I love it. She gave it to me since it's about a book club set up by some women in a small Minnesota town, and all the women have different stories and struggles to endure. I am greatly looking forward to reading more of it. I've only read one other of Landvik's books, Welcome to the Great Mysterious, which I really liked, but this one already seems a lot better than that one.

An exerpt from Publisher's Weekly:

Five friends live through three decades of marriages, child raising, neighborhood parties, bad husbands and good brownies-and Landvik (Patty Jane's House of Curl) doesn't miss a single cliche as she chronicles their lives in this pleasant but wholly familiar novel of female bonding. When Faith Owens's husband is transferred from Texas to the "stupid godforsaken frozen tundra" of Freesia Court, Minn., in 1968, her life looks like it's going to be one dull, snowy slog-until the power goes out one evening and a group of what appear to be madwomen start a snowball fight in her backyard. These dervishes turn out to be her neighbors: antiwar activist Slip; sexpot Audrey; painfully shy Merit; and widow Kari. They become fast friends and decide to escape their humdrum routine by starting the Freesia Court Book Club, later given the eponymous name by one of their disgruntled husbands.

So, those are all my new "to be read" books, and combined make about 1500 pages of reading to enjoy!

So, now on to my book reviews...

I only have 2 books to review at the moment, since I've been a little bit busy!!! Since I've already mentioned it several times in the above "to be reads" section, I'll start with Augusten Burroughs's Running With Scissors. I selected this book to read because I saw the preview for the movie, and I thought, "Wow, that looks like one crazy story!" Little did I know.

I completely forgot the name of it, and when browsing in the bookstore some weeks ago, came across the new paperback cover, now screaming "Now a Major Motion Picture!" and thought, "Oh yeah, let's see what this is about." So I read the reviews and notes inside, some of which compared it to Dave Eggers's A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which I loved.
Running is a memoir, detailing Burroughs's life as a teenager dealing with his mother's mental illness and parents' divorce, at which time his mother sends him to live with her psychiatrist and his family. To call Dr. Finch's methods unorthodox would be a gross understatement. To call his family unusual would be the same. Augusten goes from being a pristine, prissy little boy to a sexually active high school drop out. He spends his time shuttling between his mother's apartment, which is full of her lovers, who are now women instead of men, and the Finches, where chaos reigns supreme. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Augusten and Natalie decide the kitchen ceilings should be vaulted, with a skylight, and proceed to knock down the ceiling and steal a window from elsewhere in the house to put in the roof.

I greatly enjoyed Running, though I will confess, I liked Heartbreaking Work so much more. There were times that I would put Running down for a couple of days, almost as if I needed a break from the chaos myself. This to me, makes it an even more powerful book, since the written chaos was so overwhelming. I would recommend it, and I'm glad I read it before I go see the movie, as I always like that better.

The movie will feature quite a cast, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Annette Bening, and Alec Baldwin. It will be released next month.

The other book I've finished and LOVED was Kim Edwards's The Memory Keeper's Daughter. This book created a lot of buzz because it didn't do well in hardcover, but now that it's in paperback, it's flying off the shelves. It was selected as one of Diane Rehm's books for her reader's review, and I was intrigued because they had a journalist on whose daughter was born disabled and he talked about how the book really spoke to him.

The basic story is this: A doctor's pregnant wife goes into labor on a cold snowy night, and he brings her to a clinic to give birth, only the regular doctor cannot make it, so he and a nurse deliver the twins themselves. The first baby is a healthy boy, the second is a girl with Down's Syndrome. He gives the little girl to the nurse and asks her to take Phoebe to an institution he's heard of and leave her there. When his wife awakes from the medication used to keep her calm during delivery, she remembers giving birth to twins, and the doctor informs her that their daughter has died. The nurse cannot bear the thought of leaving the newborn in the institution and decides to keep her and leaves the state. The book then tells the rest of their story--how the doctor and his wife live, how the son grows up, how Phoebe and the nurse live, and how their paths intersect.

This was probably the best book I've read this year. It was not chick-lit, let's all sit around and cry and wipe each other's noses. Instead, the book tells of love, protection, redemption, secrets, betrayal, and forgiveness, without the use of a bunch of syrupy, maudlin prose. It would have been quite easy to turn this into a Lifetime Movie of the Month kind of book, but it was a lot stronger than that. I literally could not put it down. I lent my copy to my mom on Monday, and she's already just about halfway through it. I cannot recommend it enough. A wonderful, wonderful piece of writing.

So that's all I've been reading from this end. Next week, the Lit Chicks pick their 2006-07 books, and I'm so excited to see what the girls all select. Even if someone else selects my book, based on this list, I've got several back ups ready. I haven't read any book club books in a while, since I read ahead and our last book was The Time Traveler's Wife, which I've already read. My gift cards are ready and I'm ready to read!!! Oh and this weekend is the National Book Festival, which I'm pretty excited about. I'm looking forward to meeting Khaled Hosseini, who wrote The Kite Runner, as I really enjoyed that book. And of course, I have my YouTube viewing to keep me busy :-) (If you're not watching Geriatric1927, you really should be!)

Till next time...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Spammers Are Getting Crafty

I hate spam, granted, but lately, I've gotten a new generation of spam with a bunch of made up names that are absolutely hilarious. I've compiled a list for the past month, and I've gotten emails from all of the following people:

Credit M. Unduly
Timothy S. Stupidity (my personal favorite)
Lamebrain E. Balloting (!!!!!!!!!!)
Prophetically M. Licenses
Halley B. Flummoxes
Chink H. Heedlessly
Nicks I. Entices
Visas A. Enthusiast
Pleurisy O. Cosmetic
Tortillas O. Remitting
Gruyeres B. Ages
Exemplify D. Opponent
Junket H. Nicer
Seoul V. Illegality (is this a court case?)
Duchess D. Catbirds
Hermetic I. Underdogs
Dieter V. Patsy
Baseballs D. Blotchiest
Defense A. Ladybug
Crocket G. Job
Cusses M. Newfoundlands (sorry, Lesley!)
Triumphed A. Triptychs
Hunter T. Mappings
Revolved C. Infield
Ratio F. Umped
Incensed P. Receives
Papers C. Bleeds
Picadilly F. Melton
Ergonomics K. Aeschylus
Timothy H. Develops
Unhands U. Tricksters
Elliptic S. Demands
Strings U. Harridan
Franchised M. Shipper
Seemliness R. Sectionalism
Karachi P. Knack

I hope you all find these as hilarious as I do!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Tonight's Book Signing: Alan Alda

Last week I got a frantic call from my sister, sounding mildly like Paul Revere, "Alan Alda is coming! Alan Alda is coming!"

This afternoon it was, "I just found out they've got the chairs already set up! We've got to get up there!"

The book signing was in Bethesda, MD. Mind you, I got next-to-no sleep last night, and I was a little tired and grumpy.

But oh well.

I decided to go ahead and leave work and head up to Bethesda to meet Alan Alda. I got up there at 3:30 (and I left work at 3:00, so it was no mean feat), and I was the third person there. I got a seat front row, center. The book store expected 1,000 people there. Whether that happened or not, I don't know, but I truly wouldn't be surprised.

In the picture you see of him and me, I was telling him how much I enjoyed his work with Woody Allen. In the other pictures, he was giving his presentation about his book "Never Stuff Your Dog" which is quite good!!!

I *may* be going to another signing this week, but I dont' want to post it just in case. It's on Wednesday night, which would mean skipping my ladies supper club, and I'm not sure I want to do that. On the other hand, it would be an amazing opportunity.

Alan Alda was a fabulous speaker, he had us laughing our heads off, and has a fascinating life story. I highly recommend the book--I started reading it, but I got caught up with the 3 ladies around me, one of whom had no idea how to use her Blackberry, one of whom actually goes all over the place to go to book signings (she has been to 400 of them, she estimates), and one who was a dedicated MASH fan and Alan Alda fan (she cried through his presentation). I love these book signings, you meet such fascinating people. It's as much fun as meeting the author himself/herself.

I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Normal Life

Life has returned more or less to normal since my crazy August... I'm glad the fall is here--the weather has turned from hot to cool (being in the 70's mind you) in no time and we're experiencing some beautiful weather. Very overcast, but who cares?

Last night was our next-to-the-last book club of year 2... It's hard to believe. We lost two more members, so we're down to 10 now with two openings, but I've decided not to recruit until after the 1st of the year. We are having all our year-end parties and stuff, so it's not really fair to ask someone to come in and promptly drop $50 on stuff when they haven't participated for the first 11 months. I did put up a cool MySpace for the book club at and our final book of the year was chosen as The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I already read it, so I get a free pass for the month. I am looking forward to hammering out the next set of books in October, since I've been looking for a good book to chew on. Last night we discussed Wuthering Heights and it was a great discussion. Sometimes these things come out of nowhere--lesson learned: quit sweating it and just pick a book. Things flow.

Speaking of MySpace, I've started finding family members on it and it's been fun to see what my crazy cousins have been up to. The only thing I miss about our family being spread apart is that I am not close to my cousins--and so many people are. I'm lucky to have my sister nearby. It would be interesting to be a part of one of those families that never moves away from each other--at least for a while. I'm sure it'd get old after a while.

The big news: Judy has, mercifully, been offered and accepted a new job!!!!! She will now be working for the Firefly Children's Network, which works to help Russian orphans with real or perceived disabilities by educating caregivers and reducing institutionalization. The job has real promotion potential and she'll be helping them set up a DC office. The hilarious part? Her old job, which she is leaving in less than 2 weeks now(!), is hiring two people to replace her. Those bastards should have done that ages ago. I hope she'll keep in touch with some of her friends from there so we can find out how they are managing without her.

Continuing to read and see movies and watch Project Runway... And I'm freakin' addicted to MySpace... It's sick, truly. When I start finding ex-boyfriends on there, look out. (I've looked, but they must not be registered!) We saw "Little Miss Sunshine" over Labor Day weekend and LOVED IT. I also LOVED The Memory Keeper's Daughter. I'll blog a better review later, but suffice it to say, it was the best book I've read this year.

So now I'll be contemplating yardwork now that the weather is better, and our next home improvement projects... The beach room is complete now that there is furniture in there--I'm so proud of the room, but sad it's done!!! It's a beautiful room and the furniture is perfect. Looking forward, we are considering remodeling the General's bathroom, which looks every one of its 32 years, but I don't know how to go about it... So I'll start looking into what it takes to replace vanities, medicine chests, lighting, etc. We also desperately need to replace windows and carpet and to install a railing on the front porch and stairs before winter... FUN! Damned houses are expensive.

In bunny news, Rambo is back and Rocky's adoption fell through, so we've still got 3 babies. Rambo was traumatized by whatever his experience was and has been an absolute basket case since. He is now litter trained again, but is systematically destroying his cage, and when he gets out, he just lays by his mother's cage (he's staying at Judy's) and stares at her. He doesn't move or run around. He just lays there. Poor baby. So we'll be even more selective than before about placing these guys... I'm probably going to wind up building a cube cage for the girls, and separating them soon, as they've started ripping out each other's fur, which is not good. I've found some plans on line that look good and I'm excited to get that project underway.

I've also nearly completed the chair refinishing project. My mom brought some butt ugly, but comfortable, dining room chairs up from Florida, and I've removed the seats and spray painted them; now I just need to charge up the staple gun and recover the seats themselves. The only hold up is that I lost our iron during our move last year (it's probably in the storage closet from hell), and can't iron the fabric. I meant to grab Joe's iron yesterday, but forgot. So I'll probably get a cheapie one at Walmart and complete them this weekend. Then they'll be done for when my mom gets here next week--I know she'll be impressed. They are really nice and look totally different.

That's about it!!! I'm looking forward to the coming weeks--they are chock full of stuff to do, but look very, very interesting. Thursday is my first Survivors of Suicide (SOS) support group. I'm hosting a MyPC event, another presidential field trip, on Saturday to Chatham Manor here in Fredericksburg on Saturday. Sunday is my mother-in-law's birthday. Next week is our ladies only supper club and then my mom will be arriving... I have a CD exchange, tickets to see a lecture or show or something about Second City at the Natural History Museum, my dad's birthday, and the National Book Festival. Not to mention trying to find time to catch up with friends--our little posse has all been going in different directions all month and we've all been missing each other, so we're hoping to catch up soon... I'm exhausted just thinking about it! :-)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Project Runway

Well, ole Angela's finally gone... I didn't like her when she and Vincent went head-to-head in an epic battle of wills, but she grew on me after she stood up to Jeffrey. I only don't like him because he doesn't treat people with respect, and that really aggravates me. He's not my favorite designer, but whatever... Angela's stuff never appealed to me. It was too busy and crazy.

We had our weekly PR party at Judy's last night. Heather brought Panera over (YUMMMMMMMMMM) and Joe bought a dark chocolate torte (YUMMMMMMMMMM)... We are now planning our own PR Finale party, complete with make your own PR design on your own model (we all have to go out and buy a Barbie, basically)... I definitely can't wait for that... We are all gathering supplies in anticipation...

PR is, without a doubt in my mind, the BEST reality show on television. It's smart, hilarious, packs in drama, and shows off the talent of truly talented people. This season has been the best one yet. I can't believe we're better than halfway through it!!!! And then we'll have to wait a while, sadly, until the next one comes along...

But I'm sure it'll be oh-so-worth it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Book and Movie Updates!

It's been a while since I've blogged about what I've been reading and watching, so I thought it was time for an update...

I've done a fair bit of reading, a lot of it with Michael, lately...

We just finished the latest Philip Gulley book, Almost Friends. In this particular book, Sam Gardner takes some time off to care for his ailing father, and becomes intensely jealous of the interim pastor, Krista. When Krista inadvertantly pisses off some of the church bigwigs (and most religious zealots), Sam must take action!

Almost Friends was a WONDERFUL book. It was full of the kind of hilarity, warmth, folksiness, family, and friendship I've come to expect of the Harmony series. I get so mad when we finish one, since they're all wonderful and we breeze through them so quickly. Each book is about 150 pages long, and you can read them in a day if you put your mind to it. Even reading it outloud, this particular book only took us 3 sittings to complete...

I love these books because they're not preachy, and some of the other books we've read have really turned me off with their preachiness. Since I consider myself a "sort-of Christian", I don't like all the stuff about praying and being saved and the gospels and the Bible being crammed down my throat nonstop. Why do I read Christian literature? Because if you skip all that stuff, you usually wind up with a darned good story... But I'm kind of getting off topic here. Read Philip Gulley's entire Harmony series, if you haven't already. You won't regret it.

We are about halfway through Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, which we are enjoying. Barbara took a year and traveled around the country, trying to survive on only minimum wage jobs. She worked as a waitress, cleaning hotels, and as a store clerk, and tried to sustain herself with an apartment, food, etc. She set up only minimal parameters (she allowed herself the privilege of a car and refused to live in a place that felt unsafe) and then tried to make do. I can't comment on the entire book, as we haven't finished it yet, but it has been a great deal more interesting than Bait and Switch.

Our last book club book was Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer, which I didn't particularly care for. I read the first 70 pages and felt like it was every other chick lit book I'd ever read. Fat girl is unhappy, skinny girl best friend is getting married and making her miserable, she gets revenge and the boy, lives happily ever after. Blah. Don't bother unless you're looking for pure fluff.

I've just started The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards (I think??), which everyone is raving about this summer. I get a lot of book picks from the Diane Rehm show (, and the panel was raving about it a couple weeks ago, and I was excited to read it. I'm only about halfway through the first chapter, but so far it's quite compelling!! I will post a better review later.

Our current book club book is Wuthering Heights... Now this one will blend into the movie portion of this post... It was an interesting pick for the club, since we haven't read any classics before. I had an idea in my mind that Heathcliff was quite the sympathetic character, and quite frankly I think I had Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre all mixed up in my head.

Anyway, I started reading WH, and I was getting very confused indeed, so called my sister and asked her what on earth was going on with this book... She suggested I add it to my Netflix, so when I found a version featuring Ralph Fiennes (pant, pant, drool, drool), I did.

Ok, that freakin' movie literally gave me nightmares. I can't believe I've had such a strong reaction to a character, but I dreamed that I was young Catherine and Heathcliff was drowning me under his boot in a pond behind Wuthering Heights...

I plan to read the book, as I suspect there were many portions that might have been missed should I not read the book, but WOW, the movie was really something... It was deliciously creepy in a psychological kind of way... Ralph Fiennes was really quite something. Juliette Binoche was also excellent.

Other Netflix I've recently viewed...

I finally saw Capturing the Friedmans, which I'd been wanting to see for a while. It was a documentary about the Friedman family, which is torn apart when allegations of child sexual abuse circulate about the father and youngest son. Supposedly the two men molested young boys during the course of a computer class they were teaching in their home in Great Neck, Long Island, NY. The documentary included family film footage, as well as a lot of interviews with the police detectives, victims, family, friends, and others involved.

It was a fascinating look at the hysteria that begins to happen as allegations start to fly. It was kind of like the Salem Witch Trials, honestly... I can't say for sure what happened, I doubt anyone will ever know what happened, but I must say, based on this documentary, the evidence and the whole thing looks rather suspect. Just my opinion based on nothing but a documentary, people!

I also just watched Adaptation. I am not typically a Nicolas Cage fan, but I thought I would take a crack at it, since I've been on a bit of an Oscars kick lately. I have to say, I loved it! The story was great--the tale of a screenwriter trying to adapt a book into a movie, and his crazy twin brother is making his life difficult, as is his devotion to and vision of the story. Meryl Streep was great, Nicolas Cage was great, Chris Cooper was great. It was a little bit out there, but definitely a good film.

Before that, I got The Safety of Objects, in which four suburban families attempt to connect with each other over their disfunctional lives. I did not like this one at all... It took me two days to get through it, and I just keep thinking, "Why are you people torturing yourselves in these ridiculous ways?!" At the end when it all comes together and you see how all the people are related (I guess, actually, that starts happening about 1/2way through), it's kind of like, "Yeah, I already figured all that out. Thanks."

I also got Better Off Dead, in a fit of adding John Cusack to my queue. Frankly, I might have been better off dead than watching that stupid thing. I love him, but... A girl's got limits, John. I probably would have loved it back when I was 12.

So, you are all now up-to-date on what's been keeping me busy... I am also still addicted to Dog, the Bounty Hunter and Project Runway. I watched the two hour Dog wedding special, and I've been combing the web for PR updates and sneak previews. Judy, Heather, and I have a Wednesday night date with the TV at Judy's and then we re-hash until Monday of the following week when I start calling up the teasers and so forth and we discuss that. It's a sickness. But there are only 6 designers left. And they are pretty much insane. From Laura "I can't get emotionally attached to another baby" to Jeffrey "I hate your mother" to Vincent "Everything sparkly makes me giggle" I just can't get enough of that show... For tons of great info and links, visit and read to your heart's content! (I'm so crazy about it, 2 of this season's designers are on my MySpace friends list!)

Nighty night!