Saturday, March 21, 2009

Sweetie's Hunk of The Week, 8:

The hunk of the week is Jensen Ackles.

You/Sweetie Know Him As: "Dean Winchester," on the show Supernatural, a show that Sweetie picked on Netflix about 3.1 seconds after she located that picture to the left.

I know him as: and I quote: "Who?" To which Sweetie responded, "Jensen Ackles." to which I said, "Who??" (It's hard to pronounce that second question mark, but I did it.) To which she responded by showing me the picture on this post, which she was able to locate surprisingly fast.

Reason I Tell Myself Sweetie Likes Him: He's on a show about supernatural things. Sweetie must like guys who have an interest in horror stories and scary stuff.

Actual Reason Sweetie Likes Him: "Just look at him."

Point I'd Like To Make About Sweetie's Reason For Liking Him: It appears as though someone has been kissing our computer screen.

I could put my black licorice into the vest pockets.

I really want to be the kind of guy who needs Tactical Tailor gear. I was surfing around today and came across an LA Police Gear website selling stuff like weapons cases, ammo cases, tactical vests, and something called a "Malice Clip Package," and I started thinking about the last episode of Battlestar Ga-Hack-Tica... about which I will have MUCH more to say soon... and how Baltar got to get all geared up and hold a gun, etc., and how I, too, would like to be the kind of guy who puts on a helmet and has ammo clips and boots and vests and goggles and things like that.

It's just so COOL, and tough, and ... yeah, I'll say it: MACHO. What guy WOULDN'T want to be the kind of guy who says "Yeah, I'll be right there, honey, I just need to order up some Tactical Tailor Modular Assault Vests."

I've said stuff that's a lot LIKE that, in my life. I've said stuff like "Yeah, I'll be right there, honey, let me just mark my place in my Entertainment Weekly magazine and turn down my Penguin Cafe Orchestra CD." That's macho and cool too, right? I mean, in the end, is there any significant difference between a guy who owns a lot of CDs of mostly-instrumental harmonium-based music, and a guy who owns a semiautomatic assault rifle?

If there is, don't tell Sweetie. I've got her fooled.

Says You (3)

Supposedly, someone out there has identified The Mystery Song... but has not yet bothered to tell me, and so I am sitting here like a sucker reading my email and listening to "Rage Against The Machine" because The Boy is doing chores and so he gets to choose the music, and he has chosen Rage Against The Machine, a group I say he likes because a girl at his school likes them. The Boy, in response to that argument, claims that (a) he doesn't know any girls at school, (b) if he did, they wouldn't like Rage Against The Machine, (c) if he did know girls and they did like Rage... etc., then he still wouldn't listen to them anyway, and (d) I should shut up.

Anyway, more reader comments -- this one from Scott, whose blog "Husbands Anonymous" today puts life into great perspective. Scott agreed with me about the beauty of my job, and commented on whether Beethoven might have argued with Mephistopheles, saying:

It would have been a one-way conversation, given that Beethoven was hearing-impaired- lots of PARDON?s Love work days that seem stolen.

Me, too, Scott-- and for me, that's every day.

Meet Laura Diaz

When I think of news reporting, I tend to think of the local reporters I see around here. You know the type -- the ones who cover the local costume contest at the Mall at Halloween, or who have to go down to the local coffee shop to ask questions like "Do you think the mayor's plan to put in cable cars is dumb?"

It always seemed kind of boring to me. I wondered who'd ever want to become a local news reporter. Then I read about Laura Diaz. Laura Diaz isn't sitting on the corner covering the St. Patrick's Day parade -- she's reporting things like the story of Billy Queen -- a federal undercover agent who broke up a tough, murderous motorcycle gang. And Laura Diaz doesn't just report on people who take on gangs -- she takes them on herself, like when she went head-to-head and confronted an upset gang member when she was reporting about hatemongering between African-American and Latinos in Los Angeles.

It's that kind of reporting that got her eight Emmy Awards, and got her the 2005 and 2006 Golden Mike Awards -- and it's reporting like getting the first in-depth interview with then-incoming mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that got her the national "Imagen" Award in 2006. She's gotten the LA Press Club's most prestigious award, the "Joseph M. Quinn Award" for excellence and distinction in journalism.

With that kind of background, she could do almost anything -- but Laura Diaz has used her background to help others. She sits on the advisorty board of "The Joyful Child Foundation," which was started to help organize neighborhood watches and keep child predators off the street-- a cause Laura has been committed to ever since she gave extensive coverage to the murder of the foundation's starter's daughter. The group recorded a fundraising album and helps fund creative writing programs and provides assistance to nonprofits helping to prevent child abuse and predation.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Quote of the Day, 19:

"I'm not really a spring person."

-- Security guard at the courthouse on Monday morning, explaining why she didn't like spring.

What? I wasn't sure, at first, that I heard her right. How can you not be a spring person? I understand not liking winter-- it's cold, it's wet, the nights are superlong, Santa only comes once, all that. I understand not liking fall -- leaves to rake, getting colder, the World Series is on TV and who needs that tying up all their TV time.

I can even understand people who don't like summer -- they're nuts, but I can understand it because it's hot, sometimes.

But spring? What possible reason could there be for not liking spring? "I'm just not a fan of flowers and leaves and warmer temperatures?" "I hate it when the world is reborn and fresh and new?"

Mostly, she wore a giant t-shirt of mine and some shorts.

Having watched Sweetie try to find comfortable, nice, stylish clothes to wear when she was pregnant with the Babies!, I know how hard it is to find maternity clothes that anyone would actually want to be seen in public wearing.

We would love to have you to review our maternity clothing website. Our clothes are unique and trendy at very low prices. Check us out at and post a blog about us. Most clothing for expectant mothers appears to be made from surplus army tents -- only with a little less style.

Summer clothes, especially, are hard for pregnant women to find -- and what woman wants to go around in a bland green muu muu all the time?

That's why I'm going to pass along some information now, even though Sweetie is long done with being pregnant: because I AM sympathetic and a nice guy and all that kind of stuff.

And the info I want to pass along is that if you're pregnant, or going to be, and you don't want to appear in public looking as though you're impersonating a tarp-draped fishing boat, then get your maternity clothes at Kiki's Fashions. They've got unique, cute, trendy maternity stuff that's as stylish as, if not more than, regular clothing, and they're a lot lower priced than the "maternity boutiques" that want to rope you in.

And since I'm so nice, etc., I'll let you in on a second secret: Because you know me you can get 20% off on maternity clothes at Kiki's -- just use the code "blogfriends" at checkout and save yourself an additional 1/5.

Blackmailing Matt, 1:

My brother Matt just turned 38, and I found out that he got a gift certificate for an indoor surfing lesson as part of his birthday present.

Aside from the amazing fact that we live in a time when someone can say "Yeah, I went surfing at the mall" and the listener will nod and say "That's cool," instead of "What you just said made no sense, person from the future," the other thing that should be noted about Matt's birthday present is that he used it, and wiped out, apparently badly and embarrasingly, and when I asked if there was video of the wipeout, Matt said there was but he wouldn't post it because he doesn't want to be embarrassed on the Internet.

I told Matt I would use every resource at my disposal to get him to post that video, and so I am doing just that, and hence, beginning today, I am instituting Blackmailing Matt, in which I will periodically post embarrassing (and potentially true) facts about Matt, and will continue doing so until Matt posts that video.

You can help: this is the link to his Facebook profile. Go friend him and say "Post The Video, Matt."

Here we go:

Embarrasing Facts That Might Well Be True About Matt Pagel:

1. When Matt was 22, he attempted to set a world record for most consecutive hours doing the Macarena, an attempt which ended after three hours due to "excessive dizziness."

To Quote Homer Simpson (Possibly the Least appropriate quote for this): Toot On!

I've written a lot on here about the troubles I've had getting the kids to do their homework, and the troubles I myself have had helping them with their homework, and I'm not really kidding about any of those things.

Schools these days, as I've noted a lot recently, seem less interested in teaching kids than simply warehousing them for 188 days a year. Add to that the difficulty parents have remembering math from 22 years ago and the troubles kids themselves can have, and you've got a recipe for trouble: you're creating kids that may not be able to overcome their own limitations, even if parents have the best intentions of helping.

That's where Club Z! Tutoring services comes in. I was a tutor in college and know from experience how first-hand, one-on-one tutoring can really help a person. Club Z! Tutoring Services offers just that. It's the world's biggest one-on-one tutoring program, a company that's helped more than 200,000 students do better in school.

Club Z! Tutoring Service can get you a Math Tutor, a reading, SAT, music, or other kind of tutor, and they'll work in your home with your kids -- at any grade level, too, from Pre-K through adult.

So by all means, keep helping your kids yourself, and keep hectoring the schools to actually EDUCATE -- but in between, get Club-Z to come and make sure that your kids aren't falling behind and are preparing for college and careers properly.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I Get Paid For Doing This (3)

Today's work schedule:

7:45- 9:30 a.m.: Drive to Milwaukee for deposition; talk on the phone to brother Matt for about 45 minutes during the drive. Spend most of that 45 minutes trying to convince him to post a video of him wiping out while trying to surf.

9:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m.: Attend deposition of client. Listen. Occasionally talk.

1:00 p.m.-- 2:45 p.m.: Drive back home, listening the entire time to Tran-Siberian Orchestra's CD, "Beethoven's Last Night." Try to figure out if it's based on a true life story.

2:45 p.m.-- 3:15 p.m.: Eat bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch/look up information about Morehead State University.

3:15 p.m.: Try to buy Paul McCartney's Liverpool Oratorio online.

"Mephistopheles," from that CD:

P.S.: I don't think it's a true story, since I'm skeptical that at some point Beethoven talked with Mephistopheles.

I've looked everywhere.

All this month we've been cutting down on snacks -- in the last three trips to the grocery store, we've bought ZERO snacks and a lot more fruits and vegetables, which is having a beneficial effect on both my waistline and our grocery budget.

We had to do something, because both were out of control-- and not in the good, out-of-control-Saturday night-crazy kind of way -- you know, like those Saturday nights where you say "To heck with it" and put the kids to bed early and then watch TWO episodes of season 3 of Lost on DVD? Yeah, those are wild.

But this out-of-control was a lot more like the BAD kind of out-of-control, like the out-of-control when you mention to your wife that just for a second you maybe let your two-year-old sort of drive the car on the freeway. That was a bad one.

So anyway, the grocery budget's doing better, and it's only AFTER we start doing that that I find out about www. -- a website that has printable grocery coupons -- including even LOCAL coupons. All you have to do is go there, sign up, and print up grocery coupons for everything you ordinarily buy, and start saving money.

AND, they've got recipes, so you can jazz things up a little and stop making burritos all the time. (Save those for the good kind of out-of-control Saturday nights.) The recipes feature the stuff that's in the coupons, for a double-whammy of efficiency.

PPGazette also has online coupons and coupon codes -- you can find them at if you're interested in that.

So I guess it's all for the best, because now that I'm less snack-y, I can still use PPGazette to save money on groceries, and maybe then people will forget about that kind of driving time, and tell me where my Lost DVDs are hidden.

pet coupons

Question of the Day, 52:

What do you think it says about me that whenever I hear the song "Lucky 7 Sampson" from Schoolhouse Rock, I have an overwhelming urge to count the number of clicks when he says "multiply 7x6, grab a stick and make a forty-two clickety-clicks" to see if there's really 42 clickety-clicks in the song?

I'm going to go with: it means I'm really cool.

Answers that involve the word "medication" or "treatment" will be disqualified.

Also, today's bonus question: Why hasn't anyone yet identified this song for me?

At least I could be sure that nobody else had my domain name...

Everyone thinks that if you want to make money on the Internet, all you have to do is have a gimmick or interesting content or both -- like the time I created "Virtual Toast.Com." I came up with the idea, set up the site, and just sat back and waited for the money to roll in.

I'm... um... still waiting.

It turns out that the world is not ready for "Virtual Toast." (Stupid world!) But it turns out, too, that there's more to making money on the internet than just a killer idea -- and come ON, "Virtual Toast" is the greatest idea involving sliced bread since sliced bread.

The steps to making money on the Internet don't begin, as I've found, with simply developing a way to ship the world the EXACT toast it wants, in just 3-4 weeks, with NO TROUBLE on their part. (Stupid world! It's Genius!) They begin, instead, with getting your website online and hosted by a decent web host, one that's not going to crash, one that can handle the bandwidth required for the multitudes of people who will be ordering toast online, one that can in short meet the demands you require for your website.

If only I'd known, and not gone with Uncle Filbert's Web Hosting & Possum Skinnin' Service. But I had these possums lying around, and I thought "I'll get two birds with one stone," and the rest is history.

I COULD have, but didn't, gone with the best web hosting review site around, the Web Hosting Geeks -- guys (and maybe gals) who review and rate and link to web hosting sites, making it easy to tell which ones charge the most, the least, offer the most (or the least), which ones will clearly NOT be experts at possum skinnin' no matter WHAT the home-made sign on the mailbox says, and a variety of other ways to compare services.

And not just that, either: Web Hosting Geeks has a blog where they fill in your knowledge gaps about these things -- gaps like "What is a web hosting service, anyway?" and "What do I need to know about domain names?" and more, all there in non-technospeak and easy to understand blog posts.

If I'd found them first, I'd have known not only to avoid Uncle Filbert's, but also to give my website a better, easier to handle domain name -- I could have gone with "Virtual," instead of the one I picked: youstupidworldyou'dbetterstartorderingmystufforelseI'mgoingtobereallymadatyouplusIwillnevergettoretiretoHawaiiifyoudon'

So for all your industry news, web hosting questions, domain name problems, and other information, check out Web Hosting Geeks. And if you see Uncle Filbert, tell me he owes me three possum skins.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

With a dosey-do: (Says You, 2)

Time for some more answers and responses to your comments.

Lisa Pepin -- whose blog I meant to read today but then I got distracted on a project-- liked the beginning of "From The Cheesecake Truck To The End of The Line," and asked:

Aw, that's such a sweet story. Will you post a wedding pic? Pleeeeaassse?

Here's the thing with that: I mentioned to Sweetie that I was going to be Memoirizing our honeymoon, and she said, and I quote: "No photos of me." However, she did not say No artist's renderings of her, so I will provide you with this Artist Representation of My First Dance With Sweetie:

You will note that in the picture it appears that (a) I was a lot skinnier then, and (b) we appear to be square-dancing. Both are accurate representations.

I also sold some comic books and made $23.00. Less shipping.

With the economy slugging along, maybe it's time to take a sharp look at all the stuff you've got laying around and try to get yourself a little less junk and a little more cash. One report I saw said that on average there's $2,200 worth of stuff sitting in your house that someone else would buy.

We tried, once, to have a garage sale. We put up signs, hauled stuff to the garage, and I hired the kids to man it. Then it rained and a tree fell on the driveway -- putting the kibosh on that. Total earned: $13.50.

I also tried selling some stuff on eBay once -- what a colossal ordeal THAT was. Setting up the account, taking pictures, uploading, downloading, and then dealing with all the email inquiries from people who wanted to know if it was a GENUINE Beatles album (yes) and whether I'd drop the asking price (no.)

So if neither of those seems like a good idea, but you've got to make ends meet or want some extra cash, or maybe are out of work and have to come up with rent, try isold it -- a company that'll do your selling for you on eBay.

iSold It is a full service drop off store: you drop the stuff off, they take the pictures, set up the auction, answer all the questions, and then collect the money and ship the product, all for a modest commission, leaving you free to look for work or collect up more of your stuff that people will pay for, or to just sit and listen to that Beatles' album -- the one that never sold because you didn't know how to run an auction the right way, so instead of having $15,000, you've got your album. But, oh, what could have been!

What's That Song About? (4)

The song: "Thinking Drinking Sinking Feeling," by Slow Club.

What I Thought It Was About:
I first heard this where everyone except the people who are in Slow Club first heard it-- on that potato chip commercial. That is, I guess everyone except the people who are in Slow Club, and someone who works for a potato chip company, first heard it, since the potato chip guy had to hear it somewhere before putting it into a commercial.

That, by the way, I think would be the second best job to dream about having when your own job gets a little old. (This is the First-Best): Guy who picks music for commercials. Your job is just to sit around and listen to music, and maybe categorize it: this song makes me... think about potato chips. This song makes me... want to take a cruise.

So anyway, I heard this song and then googled the line "stick me to you/nature needs no glue" to find out what it was, then got the song -- not that Slow Club needed the money since they probably got a zillion dollars -- and all along, I figured it was about... not snack foods. That's too easy. I assumed it was about love.

Here's the song:

What it's Actually About: It's not about love at all -- it's about timing, and cheating. Here's the lyrics:

Light will pour, out of your eyes
Down into, a field of spies
The grass is green, the sky is blue
All the sun, bullies the moon

But I will make you see, that you belong to me
Stick me to you, nature needs no glue
Always be true

I would never, call you a pig
You are clever, and he is not
The lean-in time, came way too fast
I want you, to collapse

(Chorus) 1x

Thinking, drinking, sinking feeling.

You said watch, that romantic film
But who plays me? And who plays you?
Are you the one, who gets the girl?
Or are you the one, who ends up dead?

[Chorus 2]
But I will make you see, that you belong to me
Stick me to you, nature needs no glue
I could hold you tighter, and I could make you lighter
Than the air that you've been breathin
I know he'll say don't leave him
While the cannons are firing
And the wall outside's expiring
I've started making plans
So come on give me a chance
Always be true...

Thinking, drinking, sinking feeling...

See what I mean? The lean-in time came way to fast? I take that to mean that somebody leaned in to kiss somebody else -- too fast. But nobody's a pig here, and "I know he'll say don't leave him," and cannons are firing, and fields of spies? Here's what's going on:

Two people meet -- in public, and realize that they're attracted to each other. But she has another guy -- a jealous guy -- a guy who is going to make big trouble if the new guy continues to try to get her to leave jealous guy.

Which is by any account the best possible storyline for a potato chip commercial. They shouldn't have tried to gloss it over. Here's what I would have done:

Opening scene: A girl walking in the park, holding a bag of chips. She's in a flowery, pretty dress and smiling. Along the path comes a guy, who makes eye contact with her. He stops, and begins talking to her. She chats back and their hands brush each other.

Then, quick cuts: The two of them at a movie. At dinner. Standing on a porch about to kiss. (In each one, she's holding the same kind of bag of chips.)

Then: The woman's in the park again, walking hand-in-hand with the man. And her chips. A new guy comes along, looking angry and sad. He confronts the couple, points to the ring on his finger, the ring on her finger. He shows them pictures on his camera phone sent by friends. He's mad, he's upset, he pushes the guy, they shove around, he grabs the girl by the wrist, she drops her chips and gets pulled away. She looks back over her shoulder and appears sad. The guy picks up the chips' bag.

Then, more quick cuts: The guy is looking through phone books, talking to private investigators, standing outside office buildings. He's looking for the girl, who seems to have disappeared.

Final scene: the guy, visibly older, stands on a sidewalk looking up at a skyscraper. He goes inside, finds an office, is about to open the door when he sees the woman, walking down the hall, smiling. She doesn't notice him. She turns the corner and disappears. The man pulls the same old bag of chips out of his pocket, eats one, smiles, and walks away.

If you're as sentimental a fool as I am, you're crying now.

Here's a pop quiz for you: These are chocolate-covered potato chips.

Are they
(a) gross
(b) delicious
(c) either way, I'm going to have to try them now that I know they exist?

Here's a not-so-nutty idea... or so you'd think.

I might have found the cure for my cold feet: Acorn Slippers from Hank's Clothing.

Apparently, Acorn Slippers, like Hank's itself, have been around more or less forever, which makes it hard for me to understand how I didn't know about them. There should be a clearinghouse or website or something for people who have cold feet where we could go to find remedies.

Until then, though, there's at least that Hank's website where I can order some slippers. Hank's says that they've been used all over the world: camping in the Adirondacks, kids' parties, and even outer space.

He had me at "outer space." All you have to do is tell me that something was used by Astronauts and I'm there. (That's why I have a whole garage full of Tang. I don't even know what it is; I just buy a jar whenever I see it. I think it's a kind of heat-resistant grout.)

Hank's says that the Acorn slippers have been standard issue on Space Shuttle missions since 1982, and who am I to doubt him? Just a guy with a lot of Tang, that's who.

Anyway, the slippers: They come in waterproof varieties, polar varieties, varieties for people with wide feet, and even kid's versions. In case your kid gets picked to be on a shuttle mission -- and doesn't want his feet to get cold.

So I plan on ordering at least, say, 17 pairs. And then wearing them to work, where I will answer all questions about them with "Are you challenging America's space superiority? No, I thought not."

(That's how I already answer all other questions in the office. I like to be consistent.)

Quote of the Day, 18:

"Yeah, that's kind of creepy."

That's what Middle said when I was regaling the kids with the wonders of the Library's book sale on Saturday morning. They had a whole room where you could buy a bag of books for $3, and I told them how I saw a guy with a whole cart full of bags, about 7 of them, full to the top. That's when Middle described buying lots of books as "kind of creepy."

Not creepy? Mr F and a bunch of then-bigger-than-him stuffed animals:


Monday, March 16, 2009

Bake The Hall In The Candle of Her Brain (I Get Paid For Doing This, 2):

If you've called me on the phone today (or stopped by my office) and it took me a second longer to pick up, that's because in the background as I work, I am listening to Jim Henson's The Frog Prince.

Not watching it; just listening to it, the way I used to in my old room on Hartwood Lane, on my old record player, in the background.

Next up: I will see if I can find episodes of Herman's Head.

It's like having 40 different insurance companies at your beck and call.

It's important, with the economy being the way it is (i.e., crummy) to save costs wherever you can -- like, say, by paying less for insurance premiums. But that's not as easy as it sounds, because you don't want to sacrifice on insurance just to save some money, for a variety of reasons (i.e., The Boy is a crummy driver.)

And, it's difficult to price-compare for insurance, the antics of certain spokeswomen and their imaginary butterflies notwithstanding -- that, and it's not enough to just check 3 or 4 competitors; to really get a good quote, you'd want to check 40, say. But who wants to call 40 different insurance companies and price-check them all?

Autonet Insurance Group, that's who. They do that for you: they price check forty different leading insurers in the UK -- and they do that DAILY, so they're always up to date. Then their dedicated experts compare and contrast them to make it hassle-free for you. Plus, they have a 24-hour claims line set up, further making things easy for you.

That's how they can get you, say, Van Insurance at a 70% discount -- and that's a lot of money to be saved. 70% off of whatever you're paying is a ton of dough.

(Actual) Things I Thought While Judging The Mock Trial Competition For A Second Time.

Every year I volunteer to judge the high school mock trial competition. Ordinarily, I only do one round but somehow, this year, I ended up judging two rounds -- which means that I saw high schoolers present the same 'mock trial' four times. Granted, each team presents the situation a little differently, and I want to emphasize that I do pay attention, because it's important. But when I've seen it a couple of times before, and it's early on a Sunday morning, and I was up late watching the second-to-last episode of "Battlestar 'Why Is The Admiral Shouting, Now'?", my mind tends to wander.

Here's where it wandered to, in order:

There are two kinds of people: The kind who will simply hold a door to the Courthouse open as a crowd goes through the door, and the kind who will examine the door to see if there's a way to prop that door open so nobody has to hold it.

* * * * *

No, wait, there's a third kind of person: the kind who will examine the outer door to the Courthouse lobby to see if it can be propped open, realize that it cannot be propped open, and then, upon reaching the inner door, will examine that door, even though it's identical, to see if maybe things have changed in those few feet and this one can be propped open.

* * * * *

Ooohh. Hazelnut cream cheese.

* * * * *

A kid quoted "the English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton." Isn't that the novelist who's name is on the annual contest for terrible but fake opening lines to hypothetical novels? I wish I had my computer here to Google that. Although some of those opening lines were actually, I thought, pretty good.

* * * * *

One kid has a cast on. I sort of associate "having a cast" with "being lower class." But that's probably not fair. I had a cast on once. But maybe we were lower class?

* * * * *

You know what's a funny name for a nut? Filbert. I wonder if a comedian ever said that.

* * * * *

Does this count as "forensics?" What was "forensics?" I never knew anybody who actually did that.

* * * * *

It's already eleven o'clock and we're not done with the first trial. This is never going to end.

* * * * *

I suppose the metaphor this team used in their opening statement that this case is like a "dripping faucet" is meant to be effective, but it really only just reminded me that the downstairs shower is dripping worse than ever. I bet that house that we saw yesterday that was for sale doesn't have a dripping faucet. It better not, for $549,000. I wish that guy would buy my book so we could get that house and I wouldn't have to fix my faucet.

* * * * *

What would it be like to have a really well-paying, but really boring job? Suppose that for 9 hours a day you had to listen to boring speeches -- you couldn't read, or surf the internet, or nod off, or color, or anything; you just had to sit and listen -- but you made a ton of money doing that simple but tedious job. Would you do it? I don't know. I can't make up my mind.

* * * * *

My feet are cold. I wish I hadn't worn my brown shoes.

* * * * *

I should change the way I write my capital "I's". But if I don't put that little crossbar on the top and bottom, they just look like a lowercase "l." I'd better leave it.


It'll also have a waterfall, according to this sketch I made on the back of a magazine.

One of the final projects this year will be to undo the remainder of the garden The Boy and I tried to put in about 6 years ago on a day when we were feeling especially ambitious and green-thumb-y. We dug out about an 8x10-foot section of the backyard, tilled it up, got seeds, and planted it all (Sweetie was not home, naturally; I find my desire to tear up hunks of the house or yard increases in direct proportion to Sweetie's distance from home. If she were ever to go to, say, the West Coast by herself, I'd probably tear our house down and build a new one. Or at least knock some holes in the wall and then get bored and go watch "Lost" on DVD.)

Our garden made it through two years before we got bored and decided that we were not especially successful at gardening. One particularly unsatisfying part of it was the tomatoes. We had tomato towers and tomato plants and high hopes, and I was looking forward to big, juicy homegrown tomatoes that I could, say, slice onto burgers when family came over and mention, casually "Oh, yeah, these? We grew these in the backyard."

But they never came in -- period. We didn't get a single tomato and I had to conclude that tomatoes are harder to grow than I expected they would be. And now, with the garden slated for demising (?) this year, we might never get tomatoes.

I am, though, rethinking my stance just a bit since I discovered the organic tomato growing kit on sale from Safer Brand. The organic kit has a "Stake It Easy™" tower that allows for increasing height and width of the plants, with easy assembly, and it comes with The Safer® Brand Tomato and Vegetable Insect Killer to fight off the bugs that no doubt helped kill of my tomato plants int he past -- without harming the plants: no more aphids, or caterpillars, of "cabbage loopers," whatever those are -- it'll fight them and you don't even have to know what it's fighting!-- and it's all organic.

So with those on my side, maybe I'll give the garden one last go before we get rid of it and put in that Koi Pond my plans call for. After all, what're the odds Sweetie will go away long enough for me to dig down to the water table?


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Here it is: The Song I Need Your Help In Naming.

This is the song I mentioned that I got from my sister on a mixtape, a mixtape whose cardboard insert is lost to the ravages of time/my garage (which, as Einstein probably pointed out in that theory of his, are the same thing. Isn't that what the theory of relativity is about? That's what I tell Sweetie, anyway, to get out of cleaning the garage.)

So listen to this song -- enjoying both the stunning sound quality and dramatic camera work (watch for a major development about 2/3 of the way through) and then TELL ME WHAT THE SONG IS AND WHO SINGS IT!

Like a genie coming out of a samovar -- a Muppet Genie (Sunday's Poem #9)

This week's poem is simply an excuse to post, at the end, the Youtube videos I found of Jim Henson's Muppets doing "The Frog Prince," a movie that I heard, all my life, solely on LP record -- I had the record of that movie, for some reason, and listened to it over and over when I was a kid. I listened to it so much that 30 years later I still know the "Sir Robin The Brave" song by heart. "They call me Sir Robin The Brave/And History One Day Will Rave/I'm Valiant and Daring..."

Just read the poem, then watch the show!

The Frog Prince

by Anne Sexton

Frau Doktor,
Mama Brundig,
take out your contacts,
remove your wig.
I write for you.
I entertain.
But frogs come out
of the sky like rain.

Frogs arrive
With an ugly fury.
You are my judge.
You are my jury.

My guilts are what
we catalogue.
I'll take a knife
and chop up frog.

Frog has not nerves.
Frog is as old as a cockroach.
Frog is my father's genitals.
Frog is a malformed doorknob.
Frog is a soft bag of green.

The moon will not have him.
The sun wants to shut off
like a light bulb.
At the sight of him
the stone washes itself in a tub.
The crow thinks he's an apple
and drops a worm in.
At the feel of frog
the touch-me-nots explode
like electric slugs.
Slime will have him.
Slime has made him a house.

Mr. Poison
is at my bed.
He wants my sausage.
He wants my bread.

Mama Brundig,
he wants my beer.
He wants my Christ
for a souvenir.

Frog has boil disease
and a bellyful of parasites.
He says: Kiss me. Kiss me.
And the ground soils itself.

should a certain
quite adorable princess
be walking in her garden
at such a time
and toss her golden ball
up like a bubble
and drop it into the well?
It was ordained.
Just as the fates deal out
the plague with a tarot card.
Just as the Supreme Being drills
holes in our skulls to let
the Boston Symphony through.

But I digress.
A loss has taken place.
The ball has sunk like a cast-iron pot
into the bottom of the well.

Lost, she said,
my moon, my butter calf,
my yellow moth, my Hindu hare.
Obviously it was more than a ball.
Balls such as these are not
for sale in Au Bon Marché.
I took the moon, she said,
between my teeth
and now it is gone
and I am lost forever.
A thief had robbed by day.

Suddenly the well grew
thick and boiling
and a frog appeared.
His eyes bulged like two peas
and his body was trussed into place.
Do not be afraid, Princess,
he said, I am not a vagabond,
a cattle farmer, a shepherd,
a doorkeeper, a postman
or a laborer.
I come to you as a tradesman.
I have something to sell.
Your ball, he said,
for just three things.
Let me eat from your plate.
Let me drink from your cup.
Let me sleep in your bed.
She thought, Old Waddler,
those three you will never do,
but she made the promises
with hopes for her ball once more.
He brought it up in his mouth
like a tricky old dog
and she ran back to the castle
leaving the frog quite alone.

That evening at dinner time
a knock was heard on the castle door
and a voice demanded:
King's youngest daughter,
let me in. You promised;
now open to me.
I have left the skunk cabbage
and the eels to live with you.
The kind then heard her promise
and forced her to comply.

The frog first sat on her lap.
He was as awful as an undertaker.
Next he was at her plate
looking over her bacon
and calves' liver.
We will eat in tandem,
he said gleefully.
Her fork trembled
as if a small machine
had entered her.
He sat upon the liver
and partook like a gourmet.
The princess choked
as if she were eating a puppy.
From her cup he drank.
It wasn't exactly hygienic.
From her cup she drank
as if it were Socrates' hemlock.

Next came the bed.
The silky royal bed.
Ah! The penultimate hour!
There was the pillow
with the princess breathing
and there was the sinuous frog
riding up and down beside her.
I have been lost in a river
of shut doors, he said,
and I have made my way over
the wet stones to live with you.
She woke up aghast.
I suffer for birds and fireflies
but not frogs, she said,
and threw him across the room.

Like a genie coming out of a samovar,
a handsome prince arose in the
corner of her bedroom.
He had kind eyes and hands
and was a friend of sorrow.
Thus they were married.
After all he had compromised her.

He hired a night watchman
so that no one could enter the chamber
and he had the well
boarded over so that
never again would she lose her ball,
that moon, that Krishna hair,
that blind poppy, that innocent globe,
that madonna womb.

It's Like We Have Disposable Toilets.

The toilets in our house seem to get treated harshly; with so many kids I'd expect a little wear and tear, but it's ridiculous. We go through toilets and toilet accessories at a prodigious rate -- which means that we are not only contributing to the water shortage, but those toilet parts and toilets themselves are rapidly filling up landfills -- as are toilets all across America.

Toilets are filling up landfills, and it's not just my family, because people are scrapping their old toilets for new efficient toilets, which is laudable, except that while saving water, they're wasting other resources (like land).

A better option to deal with water shortages and seeking efficient plumbing is to instead go for the dual flush retrofit option of Select A Flush. The Select A Flush system lets you retrofit your current toilet into a water-conserving machine that lets you opt for a smaller flush when that's okay, and a regular flush when... uh... when you need one. Which makes it more efficient than you'd ever imagine, because on those... big days... you don't need to flush more than one time, saving money and water.

SO whether you're replacing your toilets out of necessity (us, nearly weekly) or out of a sense of duty and environmentalism (everybody else), go for the Select A Flush system -- which you can get for $5 off right now, too.