Saturday, December 31, 2005

End of Year Summation

For newer readers, I always point back to December 2001 and ask you to read my New Years entry from way back in the day. Go read. Now. Then come back here. Okay, you're back. Here's this year's entry. The entire universe knows that I am an opinionated pop culture whore. But it seems that 2005 wasn't the year for me to soak up the media culture surrounding me like the metaphorical sponge I have been known in the past to be. I was in the office recently and they were talking about "the rap song with the part in it where the chicken tastes like wood" and I launched into a total oral interpretation (a la Princemere Readers for you Gordonoids out there) of Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" word for word. Not the whole thing from the beginning, just the part where the friend invites the rapper over to eat and the food is horrible and it ends with "that's okay baby bubba we're still friends."

Everyone in the office was in stitches, so I went to the computer and googled the lyrics and brought them back to lunch and read my other favorite part of the song ("I said I am the Master Gee and I'd like to say hello...") which had everyone screaming in the aisles once again.

It then dawned on me, that I'm really good at the I love the 80s and 90s kinds of trivial pop culture pursuits, but the first half of this decade has not been that interesting to me, thus I have no really good Year End wrap ups for you. I will look back on a few things that happened in pop culture and in my personal life. Most

I only saw a handful of movies this year, so I don't have a top 10 list. I saw Harry Potter. I enjoyed it. It was sad that more than half the story was missing but the movie was still too incredibly long. I still haven't seen Narnia, but I will next weekend for Geoff's birthday. I saw Wallace and Gromit Curse of the Wererabbit, and because I am an Aardman fan I liked it, but I could see why so many people wanted to throw rotten tomatoes at it. I'm sorry. It was a film made for me, and my kids, and it was funny. And that's all that mattered. I watched both of the King Kong Movies, from 1933 and 1978 or whenever

As far as music goes, you all know I continue my love for BNL, and won that guitar from that radio station and then proceeded a few months later to have it signed by the rest of the band members just about a month ago. They are working on a new album, which hopefully will be as amazing as their past work and will make me love them even more.

But do I like any other bands as of late?

Yes I do. Yes indeedie I do.

Death Cab For Cutie is the one gem out of the caucophony of sounds that are flung at us from around the planet, over the airwaves, on TV Shows (like the OC, where they have been featured) and in TV commercials. This Seattle based band released their sixth studio album this past year, Plans, and it is simply beautiful and astonishing and stunning.

They remind me of Barenaked Ladies in a way, because the songs are gorgeously layered and immensely sad. BNL puts out a lot of songs that are simply heartbreakingly sad, deal with mental illness, and hide behind happy pop-tunes and silliness. Once you get past "One Week" and delve deeply into the BNL catalog, you see that they are incredibly smart, thoughtful, sad and profound songwriters. Death Cab For Cutie does the same thing to me, and featuring keyboard as strongly as BNL does with their star Kevin Hearn, I find myself deeply thankful to have found them and that they're breaking through with this album. I look forward to going back through their catalog and find gems that I can attach to my heart.

I have an ongoing love for the Wallflowers, Jakob Dylan's band. Their album released this past year "Rebel, Sweetheart" contained one of the most beautiful songs ever "God says nothing back," which blew me away the first moment I heard it.

For books, I didn't read anything Oprah Book Clubbish or popular. I'm steering clear of the whole DaVinci Code madness that is masquerading as spirituality and profound thought these days. I refuse to read the book, see the movie, read the counter arguments against Dan Brown's novel. I'm just not going there. I read a lot of history this year, and a little bit of comedy. I read Laurie Notaro's books, they were like reading a blog, only I could fall asleep and drop the book on my husband's head. I read an interesting study of what is left of the chunks of rock strewn about the planet that are still labeled the British Empire. It is called "Outposts" and it is by Simon Winchester. It is a good book. And I learned a lot more about the Falkland Islands than I ever knew before.

And I read the first two of the three (third one not yet released) Eragon books while camping this summer. They are beautifully written and while it is totally nerdy of me to be a 39 year old woman reading about Dragons and crap like that, I greatly enjoyed the stories. And I am so painfully worried that the movie, which will be coming out in 2006, is going to suck and blow at the same time.

I also read the Artemis Fowl books, again...

I think that grown up (allegedly grown up) fiction in my opinion is Oprah book club shove down the throat crap, poorly written or written on a fourth grade reading level. So I stay away from a lot of that and am enjoying sharing the literature that my daughter enjoys. Truth be told, it's better than most of what's on the NY Times bestseller list for grownups.

On the whole though, I read a lot of blogs. But you knew that.

Teacher, Mother, Secret Lover. Yes, TV is still my good friend. We enjoyed our DirectTV football package (and are still enjoying it this weekend, which is the last weekend of the season) to enjoy our favorite sport ever. We also watched a lot of Mythbusters, which is by far our favorite show. Simpsons reruns not withstanding, I greatly enjoyed watching My Name Is Earl and The Office back to back this fall, and have grown completely addicted to Earl and hate going a week without him. I need to see the BBC version of The Office, but truth be told, I'm completely crushing on the guy who plays Jim on The Office. Sssh. Don't tell anyone.

We watch a lot of kid TV here, and the stand out is Avatar: The Last Airbender. Jessica is so into it that she writes fan fiction and nerds it up with other A:TLA fans online.

And I think the Real World Austin finally broke me of my Real World addiction. It sucked so bad, and I hated all the kids, and I didn't get sucked into the marathon the way I do every time it comes on. That speaks volumes.

The rest of life
We didn't geocache nearly as much as we have in years past. We were on pace to find our 450th but October was so rainy and horrible that we got monkeywrenched. I also gained back the weight I lost last year... so I'll be trying hard to drop the pounds again and not look like the pregnant one in my circle of friends. Of course, doing it right and healthy and with plenty of hiking is the way to do it. I only hope mother nature cooperates with my plans.

As you know, we lost our dog Kinger this year. Geocaching hasn't been as fun without him.

Aaron moved out west, he and Michelle split up. Tonight, it being New Years Eve, I'm missing them the most. Funny how three or four years ago I never would have imagined spending New Years without them.

zombieI secured full time employment after 2 years of underemployment / unemployment, and am incredibly happy with where I landed. I love my coworkers, I love my boss, I love what it is that I'm doing. I'm immensely happy. I just wish it wasn't such a long commute with lots of dingbats in front of me. That's the only thing I truly dislike. I may kvetch or complain or whinge about a little thing here or there, but on the whole, I'm in a good, happy place work wise. The kids are good. I love Doug. And that's all there need be.

I got a new camera, and got addicted to, where I live daily and have met some really cool people through there.

And on that note, there isn't much else to say. The fondue is ready, and Doug made me a scorpion or a zombie or something. And I'm going to go join my family in having fun. Pictured here is this entry with my drink for my New Years Eve toast. Here's to you in 2006 friends. Be well and happy and safe. Much love.

Friday, December 30, 2005

What we have left undone

2005 was supposed to be a year where we got ahead and finished some projects around the house. I find myself sitting here photocopying receipts for FSA (flexible spending account) reimbursements for an obscene amount of money... at the 11th hour. I'm glad I saved all our receipts all year in a pile where I could put my hands on them quickly instead of doing what I did at the end of 2004, which was calling up the pharmacy for copies of receipts, and calling LensCrafters for copies of receipts, and going and buying Geoff a new pair of glasses ON NEW YEARS EVE last year because we would lose the last 79 bucks in the account if we didn't have ONE MORE receipt to show for 2004.

At least this year I had enough receipts and didn't need the ones from LensCrafters.

And I didn't need to make phone calls.

2005 was the year I was going to be more responsible with stuff like this and do it every quarter. That's 1000 dollars of our money sitting in an AFLAC account, and me sitting on my ass watching Real World marathons instead of filling out forms.

I admit it. I'm not very good with stuff. I'm not organized. I procrastinate. I would rather watch My Name is Earl and The Office than actually balance my checkbook, heaven forbid I try and do both at the same time.

Will 2006 be more of the same for me here? The slacker mom 39 year old lazy assed, messy house keeping, crazy kid rearing, hiking fool?

You betcha.

I'm not resolving to change. I'm going to resolve to keep surviving and keeping my head above water. Because right now, I'm actually happier than I've been in a long time. And that is how it is, dear reader. You'll continue to enjoy the happy, ocassionally ranting about something insignificant, me.

I hope that's good enough for you and the five of you keep returning.

On that note... we're waiting for a tow truck. The VW pooped the proverbial bed last night as Doug was getting ready to take the kids down to my parents. So we're both going into work late. We both get out of work early because of the holiday, and hopefully the car can be fixed early next week so we can continue to do our jobs with one vehicle for only one or two days.

The kids will hang out here instead of at Grandma's, which is a bummer because they were both looking forward to it.

Such is life. It could be worse, so there is no freaking out over here. I'm okay with it. Too bad I can't apply Flexible Spending to my Dependent Car.

I'm sure I'll eek in an end of year tomorrow at some point. After I scrounge around for bank statements for the mortgage guy who wanted them last week, and ship Amy's popcorn to her at BadGroove headquarters.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Christmas Came and Went

It's been quiet here for a few days. Christmas came and went. We spent most of it on the couch playing video games. Most notably a collection of 80s arcade games which has hooked Jessica in whole hog. She was born in the wrong decade. 30 or so years too late.

I had Monday off, wherein we lounged on the couch playing video games. I worked yesterday and Doug took the day off, wherein he lounged on the couch playing video games. And I'm home today... but won't be lounging on the couch (well, not the whole day). Marcia and the kids are swinging by on their way from Maine to the South Shore to visit with family... so we're going to go out to lunch. But first I must needs clean up the livingroom and dining room a tad. And after that I'll drop the kids off here and head into the office. They can fly solo until dad gets home. He won't be too late. It's a slow week for him as well.

Tomorrow the kids are going to K's house to play. I have to pick them up by 4:30 and then take them to my mom and dad's where they will spend the night, and then spend some time during the day with my cousin and his family... they're having a party. We'll leave the kids there until Saturday morning, when I'll come down and get them.

It's kind of a wash -- I should have sent them there on Tuesday and Wednesday instead. Friday I have a half day of work which was news to me. I thought we'd put in as much of a day as possible... but yesterday G was talking about pad thai and vodka mint chocolatinis at lunch for New Years, so I think we're all aiming to leave early. In theory, the kids could have just stayed here and hung out here all morning and be fine. But. I already made the arrangements.

Plus, that gives me and my husband an evening alone. Which is always nice.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Christmas you get you deserve

"I wish you a hopeful Christmas, I wish you a brave New Year.
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear. They said there'll be snow at Christmas.
They said there'll be peace on Earth.
Hallelujah! Noel! be it Heaven or Hell, the Christmas you get you deserve."

-Emerson, Lake & Palmer

So here we are, Christmas eve. Some folks are on the frontlines of the War On Christmas, on either side of the philosophical debate. Me? You know me by now. At least, if you've been reading for a few years, you do.

I chose the quote of the moment, from a song that is known the world around as an anti-Christmas song. It's classified as an atheist Christmas carol. I don't know that I take it to that length in my interpretation. I think it is a realistic assessment of the holiday. And the ending lines sum up for me where Greg Lake was taking us in his eye-opening, almost angry, still childlike embrace of what the day is.

Hallelujah! Noel! Be it heaven or hell, the Christmas you get you deserve.

I don't think it is a negative sentiment. I think it is exactly what Father Christmas himself would say. Look back on your year and wonder if you don't deserve a lump of coal, or a pair of nice fuzzy wool socks, or a jet ski. What did you do this year, what kindness did you offer, what comfort did you bring? What Christmas do you deserve, and are you going to receive it?

What Christmas are you going to give to others? Will you forgive the sins of others against you and give them more than they deserve, or will you hand off that angry lump of coal? And who are you to even deliver it? It isn't up to you.

What Christmas am I going to give?

There are those of you reading who are watching a loved one die right now. I wish you a hopeful Christmas. There are those of you reading who are lonely, alone, feeling abandoned by everyone around you; you've lost everything, made a mistake somewhere along the line and you cannot go back and fix what happened. I wish you a brave New Year. There are those of you reading who lost a child unexpectedly; a loving baby girl who you would so give the world right now to see opening her presents, dressed in her Christmas dress, playing with her cousins. All anguish, pain, and sadness leave your heart and let your road be clear.

There are those of you reading who are persecuted for your faith by members of your own family. There are those among you who I know have a sick child who will never heal. There are friends reading who think I've gone hopelessly liberal, and others who think I am next to Limbaugh in my conservativism.

Whatever your lot in life right this minute, whatever your picture in your mind of me, I cannot deliver anything to you, my dear friends, except the love in my heart and the companionship that I can lend when I can. The kind words of encouragement, the financial support when I can swing it. The connections to people I know who can or may help you, when I come across those people. My constant prayers for you, even if you have no faith or different faith, is all I have.

The spirit of Christmas is not whether or not you say it in the grocery store or if you bristle when someone says "Happy Holidays" instead. The look in the eye, the smile, the fact that no one spit at you when handing you your groceries -- this is the spirit of Christmas. Not whether or not the right saying went with it. Try and enjoy and embrace some kindness this year. I know it is almost over. But we as a people are so fractured and divided, that sometimes I doubt there is ever going to be any sort of cohesion culturally ever again.

I am not participating in the War On Christmas as a defenseman. Many would probably expect me to. I accept the Happy Holiday from the guy at the store, the gas station attendant, the mail man, whomever gives it to me. I may say the same back, I may say Merry Christmas, I may say Happy New Year. I look on the fact that someone helped me and didn't spit in my face as a way of praying, and a kindness that isn't to be repaid with snark. I accept, I open it, and I give it back.

me on christmas eve, Goldsmith AVIS reservation, Andover MA - USASo my dear reader: Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Hanukkah, Good Solstice Yule happiness to you. Don your gay or straight apparel, and just be kind, be happy, be alright with your beliefs, your faith, your non-faith, your life. And in the end, if everyone does that the offensensitivity will melt away.

I wish you a great night. A peaceful night. A holy night. A kind and happy night. A safe from harm night. A sexy night. A good night.

Good night.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


I am not sure if this is a cautionary tale which will provide you with some sort of moral lesson in the end, or if it is just a story to be filed in the "Too Much Information" annals of history. Either way...

It is my turn to come down with a head cold. It's fairly minor right now, consists of a scratchy throat and post nasal drip. And some sneezing. The sneezing is important, I'll come back to that in a bit.

Combine the minor head cold with the fact that our mattress sucks and my neck and back are killing me. I don't have full range of motion in my neck, even though I've used heating pads and begged the spouse to rub my neck and back this morning. He grudgingly obliged and I felt better at 7am, but I'm right back where I started pain-wise. We need a new mattress. I know.

So I am not in the best sorts today to begin with.

I took Geoff to the bus. When I walk outside most mornings, I sneeze. Geoff does too. The bright sun, the snow, the glare, all add up to a glorious sneeze. This morning though, I didn't get my sneeze. It just wouldn't happen. We went to the bus, waited, and after Geoff was gone I headed back to the house. I stopped at the side of the road to enjoy looking at the pond. I also looked through the trees directly at the sun. When I need to sneeze and it won't happen, I sometimes think about the movie "Gregory's Girl" from 1980 or so, and how he's in the cafeteria trying to impress the ladies with his mad scientific knowledge and he starts talking about how fast a sneeze comes out of your nose. The chicks aren't digging his mad skill (and now that I think of it, "Gregory's Girl" is the Napoleon Dynamite of the early 80s, don't you think?).

Anyway, I looked at the diamonds on the water, I looked through the tree branches, I looked at the ice and the snow, and got my sneeze.

It was a glorious sneeze, powerful, from the belly outward up through the schnozz. And when I sneezed this glorious sneeze, this wonderful, stupendous sneeze, I pooped my pants.

Yes I did.

I shat.

Somehow, this most powerful of sneezes managed to knock the crap out of me, literally. It also caused several huge pops up and down my spine, one of which I am sure should have severed my spinal cord. But it didn't. Instead, I stood there, across the street from my house, suddenly aware that I was carrying a load.

Quickly, I managed to get across the street and into the house. Gloves off, boots off, coat off, cursing the whole time. Sweater off, pants and skivvies onto the porch. I got my body into the shower for the second time in less than one hour.

This just ain't right.

The laundry is washing and now the truck is pre-heating. All I have to say is that I may not go fishing the sky for a sneeze in the near future. I may just have to start wearing Depends or "Oops, I crapped my pants" brand adult diapers.

With this, I go. May your skivvies enjoy a crap-free day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

360 degree review

groan. Long, prolonged, heavy-assed groan. I just finished writing my annual review: my self-assessment, an assessment of a co-worker, and my assessment of my boss. I got reviewed by my friend Mickey, so all these things put together are referred to in HR circles as a "360 Review." I hate these things. Goals and flipping objectives. Gah.

Here's my assessment from last year: I scheduled content to run on a screen. My goal for next year is to continue to schedule content up on a screen.

What is to goal and object about that?

I have a feeling though that the company is growing and I may get stuff thrown at me, or my workload could shift and someone else may be hired to come in and do half my job. I'm sure that the sitting and scheduling just these screens thing days are coming to an end. And the goals and objectives I wrote today for next year (ie: schedule stuff for next year) will have to be revised.

That's all fine and good as long as our company keeps growing and evolving. I like where we are, but if we could be the big player it would be more fun to be in the game. Kind of like... playing for the Patriots vs. playing for the Saints. If you get the analogy.

This past week or so has been unbelievably busy. I got about 90% of our Christmas shopping done. And the only problem is I haven't yet bought for those who live far away. So shipping could be a pain in the ass. I may end up early tomorrow, running around like a basket case, and hitting the post office.

I went shopping after work on Thursday night, before the ice storm hit. No one was out, which was really nice. I did however make the following observations.

1. It is hot in these damn stores. It was about 15 outside, and then inside Target and Radio Shack and these other places it was 90. I felt like I was going to puke after going in and out of five stores.

2. I don't like being in enclosed spaces with other people and their kids. I especially don't like it when the people reek of cigarettes and their kids smell like puke and the parents are fighting and the kids are grabby asses... I wanted to get a particular RC toy for Geoff but this one couple and their three horrid little children drove me into the housewares department. Then they wouldn't clear the hell out of the aisle I wanted to be in, so I left. Enclosed spaces, high heat, and horrible stench do not make me happy. I thought to myself "I wish I had shopped online, sooner. See item number five for why I found myself shopping in person.

3. Jess is hard to shop for. Geoff, on the other hand, I could spend a million dollars on and still find stuff he'd like. I am at a loss as to what to do for Jess. Gah. 13 is hard.

4. Looking at some of the shit on the shelves convinces me that as a nation we suck. Some other nation has hundreds of thousands of people getting paid pennies on the dollar to make some of this plastic horse shit, and I felt guilty and nauseated looking at it and knowing where it came from, and how in a few weeks most of it that doesn't sell will be on sale at Big Lots or Building 19. This is why America is hated in the world.

5. I tried shopping online for some things, but I discovered that this year everyone bought stuff I wanted to buy and now everything is backordered two weeks. Nice. Recently, I heard a report that six million people will shop online for Christmas gifts for the very first time, and it boggled my mind. We were shopping at eToys in 1998, and have shopped online every year since. How 6 million people shopping for the first time online EVER can screw up what I want to buy pisses me off.

6. I despise these giant blow-up figurines everyone has on their lawn... with Snoopy on an igloo, or Santa in a giant sno globe. I want to pop them all. I won't be stealing them, though. Hating them does not mean I'll go out a-thieving. I just think they're tacky as all hell, a complete waste of freaking money, oh, and tacky. Feed some starving kids in Africa or something. Don't put this crap out on the side of the road for me to drive past. Another thing for the terrorists to hate about us.

So I sound a bit grinchy, yes. But I'm not really. I love the season and the holiday and the whole thing. But every year it just gets more and more ridiculous and tacky. Gaudy and stupid. I like simple white strings of lights or a lighting display put on at someone's property when they have the space. I do not like 10,000,000 BTU of electricity emanating from some house on the side of the road in Saugus. It just tack-ifies the whole season for me.

Anyway. I still have some stuff to take care of but all told I'm done. Compared to last week when the to-do list was making me plotz, I'm in a good spot. The cards are done and in the mail. The decorations are out and ready to be put on the tree which we will get tomorrow. Yes, we wait until late to do the tree. We get a live one, and take it down around Geoff's birthday because his is the 7th of January, and epiphany falls on the 6th. So we've built-in a little tradition there. Together.

And on that note, I'm off to go spend time with my kids and my husband. After all, I kind of see the season as the time to be with people you love. So I may as well go and do that instead of sitting here bloviating.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

What are my weird habits? Thunder Snow. Thoughts on Goblet of Fire

A friend sent me the “What are my weird habits” game.

Typical meme rules. Here are my five weird habits, keeping in mind that the term habit means that it is something you do repeatedly, this is a hard list to compile. A habit is very different from a quirk.

1. We don't flush the toilet if it is pee. We are conservatives in a lot of ways and you'd think we'd love to thrash the environment wholeheartedly, but around here we conserve water in each way possible. Hence we abide by the philosophy of "if it is yellow, let it mellow."

2. I go out of my way to avoid making left turns.

3. I have saved all of the baby teeth my children have lost.

4. In the wintertime, I do not shave my legs at all. Nope. I go Sasquatch, and I have better skin for it.

5. Every morning it goes like this: check WXRV, go to WBCN, go to WAAF, go to WERS, go to AM for traffic. Back to WXRV, WBCN, WAAF, WERS and back to AM. Wash, rinse, repeat for the entire ride to work. Unless something good is on one of the stations and I stay for a few minutes, my hand is hitting the pre-programmed buttons the whole way down the highway.

So, what are your 5 weird habits?

So Friday was an eventful day.

First, we got 20 billion (actually 18) inches of snow. At one point my tenant and I were out there with the snow thrower and it was snowing an inch every 15 minutes. No lie. With thunder snow. I was standing in the driveway and saw flashes all around me. I thought I was having a seizure until I heard the thunder. Then I was scared to be standing out in the drive with a metal shovel. Luckily, it passed and the novelty wore off long before the snow itself stopped falling.

sitting in traffic
see above? I sat there for 20 minutes.

After the snow fun, I had to go inside and get ready for our holiday party at work. I left 2 hours before the start of the party and got there 1/2 hour late. Yes. It took 2.5 hours to go 25 miles. Seems that 128 was a wreck. It took me 20 minutes to make it to Danvers and then over 2 hours to get FROM Danvers to Salem.

It was a really fun party, and no one got disgustingly drunk and embarassing (the way so many office holiday parties wind down).

I took a lot of pictures of course and they are up at of course. The party was a lot of fun, and Amy was there, and we took tons of pictures (some of each other at the same time) and I got a nice bottle of wine at the Pirate Swap. All told, the 2.5 hour trip down there was the only crappy part of the night. I had an excellent time and love the people I work with.

Saturday I took the kids to Chunky's to go see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. After seeing Wallace & Gromit at a big chain theatre I decided that I don't ever want to go to the movies again out in the theatre, but Chunky's is awesome and I can have beer and onion rings and relax with some space between me and the very noisy people who tend to go to the movies and behave as if they're at home.

Chunky's rules.

We had put off going for a long time, the kids wanted to see it and I was loathe to go because of my complete disdain for the movie theatre scene. I was relieved to see it listed at Chunky's. Another reason why we went was because I could not bear staying inside and there is too much snow out to go geocaching. I didn't feel like taking Geoff up to the sledding hill. Movie sounded good.

Doug went to work in the morning to make up some time, and then when he came home he needed some peace and quiet to do some continuing ed classes online. So we cleared out and gave him the space he needed. He finished up all his hours this morning, so he's all set and refuses to learn anything else until faced with another deadline.

My thoughts on the latest Potter are as follows.

1. Half the damn plot isn't in the movie and it is still 3 hours long. There was SO much missing, so a bunch of things that are IN the film don't really make sense unless you read the book and you know what happened.

2. I hate the modern clothing thing that they did in the last movie and this movie. They look stupid. They need to be in Hogwarts uniforms. Sorry. I know they modernized it for kids in the USA, 90% of which have no clue why schools wear uniforms, but it looks crappy and disappointing.

3. Snape is still the greatest. The scene in the study hall where he whacks students in the head for talking and forces their faces into the books all without speaking is one of Alan Rickman's best moments. Stage and Hans Gruber aside, he is and always will be Snape to me.

4. The dragons were cool. I would have liked to have seen the other 3 champions battle their dragons but it looks like all the screen time had to be given to Harry's quest for the golden egg, and that's okay by me.

5. Lord Voldemort's rebirth was scary and gross and just right. He needs a nose though. Too much talking from the bad guy. When are bad guys going to learn not to boast and talk to the victim for ever so they can get away in the end. I expect better of the darkest of the dark lords. Smite away!

6. I cried when that thing happened to that other student (for those of you who have not seen or read the book, there are a few of you, I won't say it). I cried when I read the book too. I can see how some parents think that this is all way too dark and scary for their kids, because heck -- I was scared and it made me sad. But Harry's life isn't puppies and lollipops. And life in general isn't puppies and lollipops. So the stark reality of what happens in the plot and how abrupt and serious it is, well. That's life, right?

7. I love Neville Longbottom. I really love him. I love him because he is just like Harry, only no one notices him, no one knows he is there. His parents were destroyed, his grandmother tourtures him (like Harry's ghastly family does to him). But he carries no fame, no legend. He has to show in the end of all this that he is a hero as well. And that kind of low-key rise to the ocassion heroism is the kind of character I love the most. I love him in the books, and I love how slowly he is emerging through the movies.

8. The ending sucked. I thought the last film was too schmaltzy and wrapped too nicely in a big shiny bow. This one? Bleaugh. Barf. Meh.

Top all this off with the fact that last night there was nothing on TV so we watched, yet again, The Two Towers on TNT. I made Jessica stay up with me. Geoffrey moaned and complained at all the kissing (heh. 8 year old boys rule) and I fell in love all over again with Sam. Tell me more about Samwise the Brave.

And I guess that's it. We have football watching and house cleaning on the agenda today. I have so much to do that I don't want to do and I'm just ... meh. Tired. But we have to get our tree and our decorating in gear, so we need to hop to it at some point. Today may as well be the day.

On that note, off I go.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Procrastination Sandwich

My BNL filled weekend has left me in a dizzy whirly-woozy wonderland of happiness, but this afternoon I am slowly recognizing that my to do list is about as long as I am fat around. And that's pretty big. Being so singularly focused and obsessed for the last week, I'm amazed my children have been fed, much less have clean clothing and completed homework. I do not know when those things took place because I was so enthralled with the dates on the calendar and the events tied therewith.

My to do list is frightening.

We have done no Christmas Shopping yet. I have ideas, I just need to make time. In years passed, we would open up a bottle of wine and just dig into eToys or some nerdy Yuppie smart kid toy webpage and shop with reckless abandon! This year -- I'm thinking "What can I run into Target or CVS and just grab and they'd be happy with."

I'm a shitty mom, aren't I?

But yeah, you're right! I've preached here before that it isn't about the gifts, so my sloth ties into my somewhat self-righteous "Keep Jesus as the reason for the season" philosophy. They'll be lucky if they get a bottle of mouthwash and some hair scrunchies. Geoff better be thankful for those hair scrunchies.

I'm totally off the hook.

Jessica informed me that tomorrow night she has a choir concert. Nice of her to tell me tonight instead of tomorrow. If she had waited until tomorrow she would prove for certain that she is indeed my child. But she told me 26 hours in advance, so ... she's no procrastinator! No indeed! Now I need to find her a white blouse and black pants.

Which leads me to our laundry situation. 50/50. Half washed and unfolded. Half dirty and piled up in many rooms of the house. To find said black pants and white top I have to filter through BOTH levels of laundry... the clean and unclean. While filtering through the clean you would maybe think I'd fold and put away, but that might take time away from filtering through the unwashed! So I can't do that.

Of course, I will do this tomorrow morning before leaving for work, and it will make me late. I'm like that, you know.

I need to figure out what I am supposed to wear to the company holiday party on Friday. I have ideas, but the one blouse I was going to wear may need to be dry-cleaned and there is no way that can happen in 24 hours. I may end up shopping. Hell, I need to go shopping anyhow because I don't yet have a gift for the Yankee swap. And for the first time in a long time I have nothing to "regift" here at the house unless I pull an old Barbie doll from when Jessica was 9 out of the closet (totally still unopened, WNBA Barbie. Kick ass!)

The school actually sent a note home reminding me that it was winter and Geoff was "underprepared" for outdoor play. I had been sending him to school in four layers... topped off with a fleece which he'd outgrown last spring. Last night when it was 30 degrees I finally took Geoff shopping for a new coat. I loathe winter and loathe shopping this time of year. When it comes to Geoff I had more things on my mind like his one day bus suspension, the parent-teacher conferences, the play ground basketball incident, Cub Scouts, popcorn (which I need to go pick up -- again... total procrastinator!) and all of the academic concerns I have for him. Buying a coat? Please. So bottom of the list.

I am ahead by a full week in scheduling at work, which is the only place where I am staying ahead of the game. That and my mortgage payment isn't due until February because I am still a full month ahead on that. Otherwise, I've got a large toasted procrastination sandwich sitting on my plate and I'm enjoying every bite.

Why I procrastinate and am never prepared or ahead of the game is beyond me. I know there are things that need to be done and know the deadlines. I know people who are fully done with all their holiday everything and they are sitting back and enjoying "The Year Without A Santa Claus" and the TBS or TNT marathons of "A Christmas Story." Me? I'll be shopping and wrapping the night before. I always do. Doug will be asleep on the couch, the kids will be in bed, and I will have a giant rum and coke and will be wrapping presents at 1am.

My only hope is that Geoff doesn't lose a tooth that week, because you had better believe there is no way I will remember to play tooth fairy for him. I will totally drop the ball on that one. Sheeesh.

Anyway -- it's almost 11pm and I really am tired. I am still thinking of the BNL concert and how much fun it was. I wish I was seeing them again but have to live vicariously through my girl Annie who will be going to see them on the 13th in LA. It's her first time, and I hope to hell she loves them a fraction of the amount I love them.

And I guess that is it. Now. ... ... let's not put off going to sleep any longer. It is time to embrace this reality, and do that I must. After I blow up a few aliens in Ratchet Deadlocked. Mwah ha ha ha.

Jeeeeesis and Hannnakhaaaa.

Jessie's school choir had a concert this week. They didn't sing Feliz Navidad. I was sorely disappointed. Jessica didn't solo on a song, like I'd hoped she would. She said last year she wanted to sing one. This year, not so much. Not sure why.

The thing that cracked me up most was that the kids sang Jeeesis and Hannikka. They didn't sing Jesus or Hanukkah. Jeeeeeesis Lord at thy buuuuuurth. I would like to smack the choir director on the back of the head.

Or should I say choir directir.

Around here, people just talk funny, yo. A couple of years ago, Jessie had a substitute art teacher who was talking about 3D drawing and how to do a sphere. She pronounced it "Sveeeeeeaaaaahhhh."

Seriously, the kids sat there and stared at her as if she'd just said something in Greek that they didn't understand.

"You know, a Sveeeeeeeaaaahhh."

After a while one of the boys said, "Do you mean sphere?"

"Yeah, that's what I said. Jeesh."

I know I've said it before but Mr. Householder would have sliced our throats open and let us bleed upon the stage before allowing a single soul to set foot upon riser and say Jeeesis and Hannikka. One of the reasons I don't have a really discernible accent is because he took great pains to teach us to sing words correctly and a lot of that carried into speech. I'll be forever grateful to him for his efforts.

Jeeesis. Pfth.

Well, it's here. Our first Category Four Death Storm of the year. Longtime readers know my love for the media overhype and the weather exaggerations that come with pending storms. We're supposed to get 6 to 11 inches of snow here at my house. At my office, it should change over to rain at some point, and the totals will be a lot less.

The alliance between bread and milk manufacturers and the meteorologists of the region is still a deep dark secret, but we're going to get to the bottom of it one of these days and expose the bastards.

We have enough milk and bread and I will fight off any interlopers who attempt to come steal our supplies. And I'll allow their bodies to freeze in huge piles in my back yard and then build a pyre to dispose of them. I'll use plenty of accelerants this time so they actually are demolished.

Don't F with me and my bread, yo.

Doug got up at 5 to check the weather and the school closings. He's like a little kid, all thrilled that there's no school... my own kids weren't this excited. I don't know that Jessica is even aware that there is no school. She's fast asleep. Heh. She stayed up until 11 doing a report that is due today, or I should say WAS due today. She said "with my luck, school won't be canceled and I don't want to risk not doing it." She's a wise lady, and learned lessons from the Simpsons. Don't ever say the Simpsons don't teach people things. Now she has time to refine it over the weekend if she wants.

Geoff just went straight to playing video games. He's all happy.

Me? I'm going to get ready for work, I'm going in a little late (obviously) because it will be a no-getting-any-work-done kind of day today. We're having our office party tonight, so I need to organize whatever it is I'm wearing (still don't have a clue) and get myself down to the office. I think Geoff is coming with me because Doug is going to pick him up around 3. So the later I go in, the less time Geoff has to be in my office. Perhaps we'll stop at Blockbuster and rent a movie for him to watch on the laptop.

As for the Christmas party tonight, I'm sure the roads will be cleared and life will be good and getting home won't be a problem. I'm looking forward to having some fun with my girls and meeting some folks from our other office if they come up. The weather is scaring off the faint of heart. Which means there is just extra dinner for me! Ha ha haaaaaa.

On that note. I'm off. Have a nice day all.

Monday, December 05, 2005

"I have a problem with my sandwich" - the BNL Weekend In Review

I really don't know where to begin with summarizing the weekend experience, but I'll take a whack at it. If you care not for my BNL related adventures, you'll really want to just skip this entry and come back another time. But bear with me -- it has a dream-fulfilling ending and I explain the meaning of the title. You really want to know that part, don't you? Yes you do.

Many of you know I won a guitar from a local radio station this summer. It was autographed by Steven Page. And I knew that I wanted it to be complete with all five members of BNL signing it, not just our boy SP.

Friday I went to work and left a little before 3. I had my guitar with me because I'd gotten email from BNL's record company letting me know they'd notify Fin, the tour manager, that it would be there. And then I could get it signed. I hit a ton of traffic and ended up getting to my hotel room at 5:30 when I wanted to be at the arena at 5:30.

My sister, Ronnie and K's parents were already there. We all met for a quick chat and a figure out as to how we would proceed over to the hall. I grabbed my guitar, my confirmation will-call info (the last 3 times I've done will call they've screwed it up, so having the confirmation number is essential) and we dashed over to the arena.

Security wouldn't allow me to bring the guitar into the concert hall but had a safe and secure place to check it. The director of security for the arena radioed Fin and told me that yes, Fin is expecting to see me but it'll have to wait until after the show because it was already 7:15 and I should have come earlier. I said that I fully understood and tried my best to get there -- and all was agreed, hands were shaken and the guitar was safe in storage for the show.

We proceeded to the arena with drinks in hand and smiles on face. Ed and Steve were on the floor in the aisles signing autographs and taking pictures. We got online (K's mom and I) and I got to talk to Ed for a minute about the guitar and told him that after the show I'd give it to security to send backstage if that was okay with him. He said "Wow! cool! I can't wait to see it!" and then the stage guy pulled him away so I couldn't get a picture of me and his royal hotness. He did sign my ticket quickly and that was cool. I may or may not give it to Jessica.

The LeeVees opened yet again. They were awesome. If you're not familiar with them, they do semi-novelty style songs about Hanukkah, but they're cleverly written and very catchy. After their set K's mom and I went out to meet them -- and I got to talk with David "LeeVee" and told him that his song "Hockey Monkey" which he does with his other band, The Zambonis, was the greatest song EVER written. He laughed hard and thanked me, and gave me a Zambonis sticker. Nice.

The second opening act for the show was a school choir. Last year it was high school kids. This year it looks like they're reaching for the younger crowd and getting them involved.

At Portland the night before they had the Maine Boy's Choir, and they were polished and perfect and sounded wonderful. This choir was from an elementary school in Salem CT, and they were less polished but no less adorable. They really had a lot of gorgeous kids, including a beautiful little Asian girl right up front who preened and posed and had a great time performing. They had a little boy with CP and he stood a little ways off from the rest of the group and moved around a lot. He threw his arms in the air in victory when they finished songs and I think the entire audience fell in love with him, even though most of us were thinking "Timmy!" from South Park. When the audience cheered he covered his ears which everyone of course found amusing. The little girl behind him consoled him and encouraged him, and he really seemed to enjoy himself.

The audience went nuts when BNL came out, and they performed with the kids, and it was just so fun and magical. I've never heard so many grownups cheer for little kids. Kickass.

The show was fantastic, and it was a lot more rowdy and high-energy than the night before. The crowd was nuts, and I think the guys fed off that and really got into it.

At one point, they started up doing "Too little, too late" and Steve jumped up in the air with his guitar the way he ALWAYS does at the beginning of this song, only this time...

he landed on his ass.

Splat! wipeout! And the audience went nuts laughing... it was hard not to laugh at him, because with the guitar on, dude could not get up. Oh my gord, it was funny. They stopped playing and Jim Creegan came over and lifted him up. Ed asked what happened and Steve explained that he jumps the way he always does only tonight he gave just a little more because the energy was so great and... boom. Everyone cheered him and he sheepishly laughed it all off. I hope he didn't bruise his ass too bad.

Ed did yet another whole dissertation about Barbecue. Whe we saw them over the summer he talked about Virgil's in Times square and how he ate 3 meals in 2 days there. At Mohegan Sun he ate at Big Bubbas and stated that he ate the entire Big Bubbaque, which is a platter of meat and nothing but meat. For like 24 bucks. "I shoulda stopped at the links" he groaned.

They did a great job, throwing in "King of Bedside Manor" and "Trust Me" both of which I've never heard live. King of Bedside Manor is a crazy out of control song, and I think that the people in the audience who didn't know it were sucked into it by the energy because the crowd was nuts when they were done. It was a hell of an offering. Hats off to the guys for that one.

And, I got to hear "Break your heart" live for the first time -- sorry Jessica missed it. In all the shows we've been to, we've never heard it. We've heard some drunk assed jackass screaming the request every 4 seconds (Jones Beach, summer 2005) but haven't heard the song.

Finally, Steve pointed out a special guest of honor in the form of the Christmas Farter. Last year at the Orpheum Theatre, there was a guy a few rows ahead of us who farted through the whole show. At the end of that show, Steve thanked him for making the evening just a little more enjoyable as he stood up on stage watching everyone behind the guy try to deal with the stink. Well, Christmas Farter has embraced the label, and the band introduced him to the crowd. Everyone who was there last December died laughing...

And there was the end of the show. I ran up and got my guitar out of security. I went to bring it back in and a security woman stopped me. I explained my tale. She didn't believe me. She radioed her boss. Long wait. Got clearance. Went to go in, got stopped again. Stopped a third time. Finally, enough people were walking out that I was able to get into the floor area again. The usher who sat right by us looked at me funny but didn't stop me. I went up front and Mohegan security told me to leave. I explained, they turned to a guy and said "who is Fin?" One of the touring guys said "The big boss, the big cheese, the big kahuna. The man. why?" I explained again what I needed, and someone radioed for him.

There was a long wait, they had us (Linda, Ronnie, K's mom and me) wait in the first row up from the floor to be out of the way. After a while, security was getting pissy, and I was told to leave but someone yelled out "No! Tell her to wait a bit hang on hang on!"

Mark from BNL security came out and verified my story. Steven Page guitar, signed in the summer, record label told me to ask for Fin yadda yadda. "I don't want to be a pain in the ass, I'll leave if you want, I totally understand... I don't want to bother the guys, I don't need to meet them. It's just that the guitar is incomplete without the other four, ya know?"

He was all smiles and "Nah! It's okay. Fin's busy so he's sorry he couldn't come out here and get it. Lots of backstage paperwork, he's holed up in a room. I'll take the guitar. Sorry we kept you waiting."

And there it went. Dude was apologizing to me. That blew me away. Again -- this band and their management are top notch in my book, experiencing this and having people be nice to me was far more than I ever expected.

Oh dear. Wow. It's going, going, gone. And we waited, watching the crew break set and pack up. They were fast, they were thorough, they were impressive. Security from the casino was a little snitty with me but we ignored them (except K's mom and Linda who were all like "Settle Down Mattlock!" when he got on the radio to get all official like.

After quite a wait, I told the other three that they didn't need to wait with me. I think they were all hoping (as was I, secretly and deeply, that one of the guys would come out. But I knew they wouldn't and that I'd be lucky if I got 3 of the 4 signatures.

Once Linda, Ronnie and K's mom were gone, a few more minutes passed. And Mark reemerged with the guitar. "Got all four for ya. Thanks for waiting." He smiled and shook my hand.

29 the BNL autographed guitarI had it. In my hands. Signed. Sealed. Zipped up in its case.

Giddy as a school girl, I exited the arena. The head of stadium security was there at the exit and asked if I was all set, if Fin was able to meet me. I explained how Mark saved the day and he apologized to me (people can be so nice) that it took so long and people were confused or may have been rude to me.

I told him that it was all okay. In the end, it all works out. I told him his staff was thorough, professional, and even though at times confused they were kind while performing their duties. I got to the gingerbread house where K's parents, Linda and Ronnie were waiting for me. We whipped open the case and all of us gazed upon the wild wonder of the joy that we had found. It was beautiful and complete. The Steven Page Guitar was now the BNL guitar. Hallelujah, Amen.

Casino security wouldn't let me walk around with it. So we put it in the car and spent the next three or four hours running around the casino like goofballs... enjoying every minute. We were about to leave when we saw Tyler and Kevin re-entering the arena and I yelled to them "Love you guys! You rock! Thank you Ty and Kev!" but I should have added "For signing my guitar!!!"

They waved back and left. And I didn't stalk them. Because I'd done more than my share of stalking in form of guitar signing action that day.

Best night ever.

I slept like the dead until hospitality pounded on our door like the hotel was on fire at 9:30am "You want your room clean?"

No, I want to SLEEP!

Well, we were up then.

We decided, Doug and I, to go up to Willimantic to this brew pub he'd read about. The Willimantic Brewing Company is housed in an old post office, built in 1909. Seeing as we're all about brew pubs, we thought we'd give it a whirl.


The food, the beer -- the 60 ft mahogany bar. The place is awesome. We were there close to two hours. The guy at the table next to us was a riot. He was there with two friends, and throughout the afternoon we talked with him, learned all about the big glass sculpture in the middle of Mohegan Sun (he did iron work on the casino) and just generally had a ton of laughs. K's mom once said to me "You could talk to a light post," meaning I'm the type of person who can just have a meaningful, friendly conversation with just about anyone. Tis True. I am that way. This guy was ten fold.

At the end of his meal, the waitress came over and asked how everything was. His plate was spotless... almost like he'd licked it clean.

"I had a problem with my sandwich," he says to her, completely straightfaced and honest... very serious. She looked at the completely clean plate, and then looked at him, and all of us started cracking up.

"You had a problem setting it down long enough to do anything else," said his friend. He was just messing with her.

"I have a problem in that it's gone and it was really good." She laughed too, but for a second you could cut the air. He left her a big tip, and we did too. Now I wish I lived in Willimantic so I could go there all the time. The wings were fabulous, the beer was awesome.

The thing about Willimantic is they have a frog fetish. There is a local legend that tells of a night when settlers heard horrible noises and everyone believed they were under attack, but in the morning found that hundreds of bullfrogs fought to death in a dried out pond during mating season. So they referred to the event as "The Battle of the Frogs" and the frog became the town mascot.

They've got frogs on EVERYTHING. Doug pointed out that most places would have been ashamed of their settlers being scared of frog noises and they'd hope the story would die, but Willimantic embraces the legend and they have fetished frogs every three inches in this town... including a big honkin' bridge with four guardian frogs atop thread spools spanning the river.

We were drunk so I took 110 pictures of the frogs. They're all up in flickr. Of course.

We then drove down to Stonington to a cider mill we'd seen on the TV show "The Thirsty Traveler." We got wine and cookies and looked around the apple press, and enjoyed a nice visit there where there were no frogs.

In the evening, we met K's parents and went back to the casino because we wanted to go to Big Bubba's after Ed's glowing endorsement of the place the night before. We walked around the casino for a while, played penny slots because 10 dollars goes a hell of a lot farther in penny slots than it does in quarters. We had some margaritas, we people watched. We had an 11:15 shuttle back to the hotel and so at 9 we went to eat.

The food was fantastic, I loved it... and Doug and I shared a gianormous margarita with the silliest long assed straws ever. No one had the Big Bubbaque though. Ed would have. He would have had it twice. I'm sure. We shared the "I have a problem with my sandwich" story and we decided we'd use it on the waitress here. She didn't fall for it. She zinged us before she could be taken for a ride, even a brief one. We laughed our asses off. It was so much fun.

We got the shuttle back, and I think I was out cold by 11:35. Very tired.

The following morning Doug took off to go home, I took off to go get the kids at my folks'... I stopped at Aaron's parents' to pick up the container for our defunct Geocache which we had to remove from its hiding spot in Maine. I had a nice visit with them, sorry to have missed Aaron, and then I went and got the kids.

All told, it was the best weekend in a long time. There were parts of it I would have liked to share with my daughter, the big fan of BNL that she is, but all in all it was nice to have a kid free weekend. I think K's parents had fun too. It was fun to see Linda and Ronnie again. And I need a vacation from my weekend.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Hell is not other people. It is finding you have no milk for coffee

My head is killing me. I got to bed at 2:15 and was up at 7. "That's okay," said I. I will begin drinking coffee even before I go to the bathroom. But I opened the fridge, and the gallon of milk was gone. Drained. Bereft of liquid it rests in peace in the bottom of our trash barrel. Oh woe is me. I need coffee! To get in the car and run up to the market leaves Geoff stranded. So I must wait until after he gets the bus. What to do until then?

Write an entry.

So yeah -- last night's BNL concert was tremendous. Fourth row seats Steve's side. I need to figure out how to make my shutter close faster on the digital camera because 90% of my pictures were blurry. The keepers are up in Flickr in their own set.

We got to the show later than I wanted. Around 7:15ish. K and her mom were with us, and because of K's vision issues (blind in 1 eye after brain surgery) I decided I would ask at the box office if they could upgrade their seats. I bought their tickets through ticketmaster. They were floor seats but around row 30.

The box office manager looked at their tickets, punched up some stuff in his monitor and printed out two tickets in row H, 8th row, right behind us (we were row D). I gotta tell you -- I was quite impressed. Very cool. K's mom almost cried. "I can't believe you asked that and he did it."

"Honey, y'all have been through so much, one may as well make some lemonade with the big pile o'lemons you've got sitting around. I hope the seats are good enough."

And they were.

So I got in at 1, messed with my pictures, went to bed. I woke up when I heard Jessica leave at 6:50. That's hard core.

Well -- I need to pack some stuff for the kids to go to grammy's so I am outta here. More later.