Monday, April 30, 2012

Natural Disasters and Final Words

I think a lot of kids go through a natural disaster phase. There’s just something morbidly fascinating about the fact that the earth can and has wiped out civilizations.

My sister’s interest in this manifested itself in films. She loved Dante’s Peak and Twister (the movie, not the game. Though she liked that as well). Roomie was more into the Titanic, which while certainly tragic, was more human error than natural disaster. I asked another friend if she had also been interested in such things and she responded:

If by fascinated, you mean terrified and morbidly interested in…then yes. If by “which one” you mean “ALL OF THEM EVER – EVEN EARTHQUAKES I DON’T CARE IF I LIVE IN FLORIDA WITHOUT FAULT LINES” then that’s the answer. Although, I would say that tornadoes fascinated me most. Also, potentially dinosaurs coming back to real life, a la Jurassic Park. I still occasionally have those nightmares.

My tragedy of choice was Pompeii. I lost count of the number of times I took out Edith Kunhardt Davis’ Pompeii…Buried Alive! from the library. I would just read it over and over again, equal parts enthrallment and horror. Sometimes I would try to create stories where the people of Pompeii had a different, happier ending. Some crazy epic about a hero (or occasionally a group of aliens) who rode in just in time to get the city’s inhabitants to safety. At other points, I would accept their tragic ending (often there were tears involved on my end) and create death scenes that at least allowed them a chance to get whatever had bothered them in life off their chests.

It’s one of those things that drives me nuts in TV shows – things look grim for the main characters; even though we know they won’t, they think they’re likely to die. But rather than give voice to all those pent up feelings that have been building for seasons, they just give each other meaningful looks as the clock ticks down.

I get it. They’re not actually going to die and the writers don’t want to create a situation where they have to deal with the fallout of near-death emotional declarations that would make it more difficult to string out the will they/won’t they tension for another fifty episodes. Still, though, it annoys me. And is one of the reasons I so loved Chuck. They were willing to have the “oh, so we’re not actually going to die….awkward” moment

I love stories that are fantastical. The more I have to suspend my disbelief, the better. But when it comes to dying, it’s just too unrealistic to me that people wouldn’t be spilling their guts if they actually thought it was going to be the last chance they got. Of course, that may just be me. For all I know, everyone reading this may be stoic badasses. If so, congratulations, 'cause that's impressive. But I’m guessing that in such a situation, my reaction would be akin to that of Emma Corrigan in Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep A Secret? Plane’s going down? Volcano’s erupting? Dinosaurs are back and roaming the city? Apologies to whoever happens to be next to me, because I’m pretty sure you’re going to have to hear quite the stream of vocalized inner monologue.

There’s a very good chance that if a natural disaster of Pompeii proportions was to strike, my last words would not be eloquent nor something that history would see fit to quote. But let me tell you, they would be comprehensive.

Friday, April 27, 2012

And roll credits....

Did any of you ever watch Daria? I loved so much about that show and then my affection was just compounded when it got to the end credits and all the characters would be shown in bizarre outfits, doing strange things.

This is kind of how my brain works sometimes. I think of the people around me and they suddenly appear in my brain as a character. While I think this is just my natural inclination, I also kind of blame my sister for this. She's always pointing out when people look like something other than people. 

Back in the day, when I was trying to figure out where I wanted to go to college, my family visited a lot of schools. At one, we were sitting in an auditorium, listening to a panel of speakers. Everything was going fine, until my sister leaned over to me and said, "The woman on the right? She looks like a turtle. Seriously, look at the way her head moves. She's totally a turtle." 

Well, once she said this, I couldn't see anything but the turtle-like aspect of that speaker's mannerisms. I think it was mostly the head bob, but I don't think the shell like sweater coming to a peak over her shoulders really helped matters. So, I started to laugh a little. Seeing that she had made me laugh, my sister started to laugh, which made me laugh harder. That's the thing about my family. Laughing is always contagious. You don't even have to find what originally sparked the outburst to be funny. One of the others is laughing and it's pretty much a done deal. 

My mother, of course, noticed that we were laughing like hyenas and asked what was going on. I explained to her that it had begun because of the woman's turtle-ness, but had now spiraled out of control. My mother told us to knock it off. But, you see, my sister and I come by the contagious laughter honestly and in moments mom was laughing as well. The thing was she was trying harder to stop than we were, which just made it worse for her. And then she tried to get mad, to stop the laughing and said to me, "I want you to leave." Which just set me off, anew. It was a mess. My dad was just lucky he came into the presentation a couple minutes later than the rest of us and was able to sit in the back.

The point of this is, because of my sister, when I see people I think things like, Man, he kind of looks like an earthworm. Or, That guy would make a great cartoon giant. Or, She's got kind of a old-school Strawberry Shortcake thing going on. Of course, that might just be the hat/dress combo.

Since I expect this to be going on the rest of my life, I thought, out of fairness, the people who I see the most frequently should have some say as to what kind of character my brain is turning them into. So, I asked a few if they were going to be turned into story characters what would they want to be. Here are the answers I got:

The Roomie: What about a sports writer? No superpowers. I’m the Xander. (When asked why she chose sports writer, her answer was succinct and eloquent: SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS SPORTS. Can’t ask for too much more than that.)

The brother: A wise cracking, street smart detective. No superpowers. (When asked why:) It’s something I actually think I could do right now and I wanted to be true to myself. (I'm seeing a cross between Sam Spade and Mick St. John (when he's not all vampiric), with a splash of Shawn Spencer in there.)

The sister: A smart exec rising to the top (working for a company whose field is never described, of course) by day and an Indiana Jones-like woman saving the world by night. No superpowers…unless you consider your hair never getting messed up in a fight a superpower. (For one thing, not getting your hair messed up is totally a superpower. And who wouldn't want to see a lady Barney Stinson fighting archaeological crime?)

The sister-in-law: I’d like to be the wise cracking, street smart detective’s charming and beautiful wife. =) Or, I’d like to be on a sci-fi show where I’m the female in a pair of FBI agents who solve mystery cases…oh, wait, that’s already been done. And lastly, I’d like to be on some type of dramedy (a la Desperate Housewives) with completely unrealistic plot lines, and fabulous clothes and hair. (Married FBI agent living in a neighborhood of aliens, affluence and allure. Fantastic.)

Ah, yes, that should take care of my Daria-like credit role for a little while. But, if anyone else would like to share their chosen characters, I'd certainly love to hear about them. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

My thinking cap is securely fastened...

In the last few days I’ve heard a number of people using some iteration of the phrase, “Let me just put on my [INSERT PROFESSION/HOBBY/IDENTITY OF CHOICE HERE] hat to answer that question.”

So, naturally, after listening to all these folks explaining what metaphorical cap they’re throwing on, I had a thought: What if these hats weren’t figurative?

Voila! Eureka! Some other word indicating the birth of a wondrous idea!

Roomie doesn’t know it yet, but she and I are about to embark on a new entrepreneurial endeavor. From now on all graduates upon receipt of their diploma, will also receive a hat by us declaring their profession. After completing tasks to prove their expertise, dedicated hobbyists will be awarded our wares to ensure that when they discuss their activity the people around them know that they’re opinions come from a place of authority.

Avoid any of those awkward moments where you’re left wondering if your doctor friend is thinking about your question in terms of her medical background or pondering it as the heavy metal enthusiast you know her to be. As long as she has on DOCTOR HAT, you’re in the clear!

And no longer will you have to waste precious seconds explaining to your coworkers that you’re drawing on your scrapbooking know-how to answer their question. Just place this bad boy upon your noggin and everyone will know where you’re coming from!

Clearly, this is going to be a multi-BILLION dollar business. And think of all the time we’ll save and misunderstandings we’ll avoid. Forget the money, there could be a Nobel Peace Prize in this! 

It’s all very exciting.

So, to my Roomie/Business Partner and to the world on whole… are extremely welcome.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Artificial Flavoring

Roomie and I were just at a conference where they served a cheesecake with a chocolate crust and cherries jubilee-ish topping after lunch. Roomie mentioned that she wished there were strawberries rather than cherries – that cherries would, in fact, be her last choice. I took interest in this as she categorically chooses cherry flavored candy when the opportunity presents itself. When I inquired as to this shunning of real cherries, she said that she liked cherry-flavored things because they didn’t taste like real cherries. She then offered the following theory:

I think that cherry-flavored things were the beginning of the end. Once they got away with calling something cherry that didn’t actually taste like cherries, they were like, ‘What else can we get away with?’ So, next they tackled watermelon. I’m convinced that the person that they assigned this to had never actually tasted a watermelon. That’s the only way to explain why watermelon-flavored things don’t taste even remotely like the fruit. But once people accepted this, things just went downhill. And that’s how we ended up with Blue Raspberry. I mean Blue Raspberry? That’s not even a thing.

It might have been my deficit of sleep or it could have had something to do with the sugar cube I took for my iced tea (but instead stealthily ate), but I could see the logic in her argument. Some might dispute this, stating that Blue Raspberry flavoring originated with the Rubus leucodermis, but I like Roomie’s theory better. ‘Cause I’d be willing to bet that the Rubus leucodermis doesn’t taste anything like a Blue Raspberry Jolly Rancher.

Therefore, I thought I should share this wisdom with you all, as well.

Strangely, artificial flavoring has been coming up in conversation a lot lately. Particularly surrounding Dr. Pepper. (Slight confession, I’m a bit of a DP addict.) Recently, I’ve come into contact with more than one person who refuses to drink the soda due to its flavoring. A coworker said, “There’s just too much going on in there. I just can’t get on board.” Not long after, a classmate stated, “I've never drank Dr. Pepper. There are just too many flavors. Freaks me out.”

My philosophy, on the other hand, is, when the opportunity presents itself, throw some more flavors on in. The other day, I got soda from what I can only describe as a futuristic machine (I’m assuming it’s a step in the direction of flying cars, so….very exciting) at the nearby Noodles & Co. and chose Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper.

I would highly recommend it.

Now, you may be asking yourselves, “What is the point of any of this?” To that, I would have to respond that there really isn’t any. But I’m thinking about, so why shouldn’t you?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Squirrel Menace Update

I'm going to be away from the computer today and won't be able to post. I can already picture the one tear rolling gracefully down your cheek as you read this and realize that you will have to go a full day without my magical words. Or maybe you just stubbed your toe. It's really 50/50.

Regardless, in my absence do not forget that the battle against the Squirrel Menace continues. The best advice I can give you at this point is to avoid wearing outfits entirely of pink. This drives the squirrels to delirium. They are unable to stop themselves from latching on to your shoulder and attempting to engage in a staring contest. There are very few who can beat them in such a feat. My best advice if you find yourself in such a situation is to stare forward, avoiding the demon gaze of the vermin, and let out your best pigeon coo. With any luck, one of Winkie's descendants will hear you and come to your aid.

Best of luck, my friends. I shall return soon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Pirate's Life for Me

It rained pretty much all weekend here. And it was wonderful.

The rain makes me think of when I was a kid. I’ve always loved thunderstorms. The louder, the better. I like the drama of it. 

We had a lot of lawn furniture when I was growing up and we tried to bring the cushions in whenever it would rain. We’d shake them out to ensure that no icky creepy crawlers were allowed entry into the house and then drag them into the living room. That’s when the real fun would begin.

Like any self-respecting kids, my sister and I would use the cushions to create forts of epic proportions. Once inside our cushion-y creation, we took on a whole host of new identities. Sometimes we were princesses inside a haunted castle on the stormy moors. Or we could be witches in a cave by the sea, stirring our potions. More often than not, though, pirates became our chosen personalities.

As the thunder crashed outside of our sturdy frigate, we yelled orders to our fellow buccaneers. We fought valiantly against the ravings of Mother Nature, doing everything in our power to keep our ship afloat. To keep our crew from losing hope as the waves threatened, we would engage in the enthusiastic singing of sea shanties that always sounded shockingly similar to Disney tunes. And when the sun finally peeked out again and we found ourselves on solid ground surrounded by treasures untold (you know…like ice cream or the newest episode of Fraggle Rock), we would take our fill. Then all our fellow pirates would be commanded back on the ship, to take to the high seas once again for as many adventures as we could squeeze in before it was time to take the cushions back outside.

I thought about my past life as a pirate a number of times this weekend. As there was no thunder, it didn’t seem quite right to resurrect the old ship. But with the possibility of summer storms not too far in the future, I’m thinking I better invest in some cushions, with or with out the lawn furniture. And tell my sister to brush up on her pirate jargon. I’m going to need all hands on deck.

‘Cause it’s been far too long since I last set sail.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Soundtracks To Our Lives

I often wish my life had a soundtrack. Now, I’ve given it my best shot. Playing music wherever it’s possible, singing regardless of the social awkwardness it prompts in those around me. And I can't count the number of times I've felt like this. But it’s not the same. I want music to play from the heavens – mostly with lyrics, so I can sing along, but some instrumentals are okay, too.

In addition to making impromptu dance parties more understandable, this life soundtrack would serve the deeper purpose of informing people as to how they should feel in certain situations. Often the appropriate feeling for an event is easy enough to figure out. Person One hands you a giant ice cream cone: joy and rapture. Person Two knocks the ice cream cone out of your hand and then runs away laughing and waving his arms in the air: sorrow and rage. Easy peasy. No music required. But everyone has those moments where they think, How exactly am I supposed to react to this? Solution – life soundtrack.

No longer will you struggle with questions like: Is she serious? No, instead you’ll think: Damn, listen to that music. She’s not fooling around. Or: She expects me to believe that something’s wrong? Does she not hear those jovial strains playing around us? What a clown.

You get home from a long day of work and, as you turn the key to your door, ominous strains ring out. You drop your head to your chest for a second, thinking, Crap, would you listen to that? Someone’s totally going to jump out at me. Ah, well, I’ll just go wait in the car for the cops to arrive. Problem solved.

Or let’s say you’re having a bad day. Suddenly your soundtrack gets jauntier and you feel relief over the guarantee that things are going to get better soon. Or maybe the music stays morose and, in your effort not to wallow, you work hard enough to make things better that it prompts an inspirational power ballad. Now, not only are you feeling great about yourself, but as people walk by and hear your music, they’re left thinking, Now, there’s an inspirational fella. You go buddy!

Here’s where I trip up though. Considering the vast number of people in the world, how would we handle that many soundtracks? Sure, there would be times when your soundtrack would coincide with the people around you. I would assume, for instance, that Roomie and her soccer team would hear a fairly constant stream of Queen songs while on the field. But for the most part, people’s lives are going to be going in all different directions, ultimately leading to a cacophony of clashing melodies, which could possibly result in a rise in the incidences of insanity. Which would be bad. This is probably the main reason why the heavens do not start playing my song when I wake up in the morning. And I can understand that.

Still….it would be kind of cool.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

You Talkin' To Me? No? Well, I Am.

When I was four years old, I was in a recital where I danced to Elvis’ “Rock-A-Hula.” My uncle video-taped my stellar performance (My head piece kind of fell off and I was one of those kids who looked down the line at everyone else to see what they were doing. Spoiler alert: it rarely was what I was doing.). Afterwards he interviewed me (for posterity’s sake) and told me that one day my future self would be watching this video and was there anything I wanted to say to her?

I stared at him for a moment, laughed derisively and said only, “I’m not talkin’ to myself.”

Ah, tiny past Kelly. If only you knew how wrong you would be….well, you probably still wouldn’t have said anything. Tiny past Kelly was a stubborn kid.

As for present Kelly, I doubt this will really be that big of surprise to anyone who has read anything else I’ve posted here, but I’m a big talking-to-myself-er. It’s how I work out problems, story lines or occasionally just pass the time. In a slight nod to societal norms, I do try not to have these conversations out loud when in public. Do I always succeed? No. But the attempt is there.

Even when I can get the audible discussions under wraps, I’m still rambling on in my head. And since, every once in awhile, I can be unintentionally witty, sometimes I laugh at what I’m internally saying. I actually think this is worse than just talking out loud to begin with. ‘Cause now I’m the creeper who is walking by herself, staring into space and chortling nonsensically.

The potential for maniacal laughter aside, I still highly recommend self chats. They’re almost always interesting because you know what you’re interested in. Really makes it easy to tailor the conversation for your audience. If you manage to bore yourself, then you know that this is not the topic to try with other people. Because if you don’t care about what you’re saying, why would anyone else? And when else can you have an argument where you ultimately have to be both a gracious winner and loser? It’s a great learning tool.

Do you ever talk to yourself?

Fair warning, if your answer is “no,” I’m not going to believe you. Most likely I’ll even go past that and start regarding you suspiciously. You see, I don’t completely trust people who scoff at talking to themselves. You don’t want to talk to you, but you think other people should? That seems weird. (Yes, I know, me calling someone weird is a little bold. But I'm standing by it.)

Still, there are occasions when I see someone talking to themselves and have the desire to tell them to rein it in a little. This morning, Roomie and I were driving to work and stopped at a light. A young gentleman walked past on the sidewalk. Not only was he involved in a whispered yelling match with himself, but he was punctuating it by quite literally shaking his fist at the sky. (At least that’s how I saw it. Roomie said it looked like he was working out with an imaginary Shake Weight. Eye of the beholder, I guess.) It was a little more public, yet solitary, rage than I’m personally comfortable with.

Here’s my suggestion, if you don’t already talk to yourself, give it a try. You probably have some interesting stuff to say. If you do, keep up the good work! If you’re afraid you’re going to start having these conversations in public, throw in a blue tooth ear piece. Sure, in your case, it won’t have anyone on the other end, but for all you know, neither does anyone else’s. I would just recommend that all parties keep violent hand motions to a minimum. ‘Cause that’s when you start looking like you may be a danger to society.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Like Barbie's Dream House...Only Haunted...And With an Ostrich

Roomie tricked me into exercising with her yesterday. She said, “You want to go for a walk after work?” I assumed she meant to the grocery store for ice cream or something. Four miles, two hills and countless curses later we finally made it home where I sat on the couch and toasted my new physical prowess with some chips and cheese dip. Only we ended up not having chips, so I ate tortillas and cheese dip. And some pizza. All and all, a healthy night.

But my athletic nature is not actually what I’m here to discuss. Roomie offset the horrors of physical exertion by walking me through different neighborhoods where we picked our favorite houses. Occasionally we’d find two houses that were connected, sharing a porch and a yard, but with their own doors and space. We leaned towards those. Mostly because if we had houses like that, there is a much greater possibility for the construction of secret doorways, which as I’ve mentioned before is one of my requirements for my future home.

Between my huffing and puffing and Roomie’s incessant “Charlie Bit My Finger” quoting, we did finally come up with a fairly comprehensive list of what we’re looking for in our future homes.

- Either two houses joined together or a giant castle-like house with two separate wings (Roomie wants some freedom from my holiday decorating frenzies and if I have to listen to another Chelsea game on the soccer network there’s going to be fisticuffs. Still we would like to live close enough to each other that midnight Step Up marathons are not inconvenient)

- Movie screening room (See Step Up above)

- Secret doors, hallways and book shelves

- A ghost (Really looking for a place that already has one. I’ve heard trying to move them from one house to another is extremely difficult. Still, if you know of a really friendly ghost, let me know and I’ll give it a shot)

- Soccer field in the back yard (Really a Quidditch pitch would be better, but a soccer field is a good starter field)

- A well (For wishing, not drinking)

- A fairy garden (just in case we every get any spritely visitors)

- Gargoyles (I’m completely willing to create my own once settling in a place, so it’s not required that the house already have them)

- A drive way (Looking for street parking is always annoying. Takes time away from learning to do magic)

- A dog

- An ostrich

Basically, I want to live The Bloggess’ dollhouse, but in my real size, not all shrunken down to doll size. So, I’m going to go try and find a machine a la Honey, I Blew Up the Kid to make the house a little roomier.

In case this doesn’t work out as brilliantly as I am currently assuming it will, please let me know if you hear about anything meeting the above requirements. We’re looking into a moving time between now and ten years from now, but that’s not a hard and fast time frame.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pronunciation Aggravation

You know what’s pretty much always awkward? You’re having a discussion with some friends and suddenly you notice them all looking at you strangely. You inquire as to why and they laugh and mention that you just pronounced a word incorrectly. This is not the awkward part. The awkwardness sets in when you realize that this was not just a one time slip up. You really thought the word was pronounced that way.

You feel the weight of awkwardosity settle on your shoulders.

How many people have heard you pronounce it that way? Sweet heavens, how many??

Even as you’re asking yourself this, you know what the answer is – a lot.

You’re so horrified by this, that you can’t even laugh it off for your friends. So, now they know that it wasn’t a one time thing, too. Which makes them laugh harder. When you realize this, you try to save face. Play it off with the old, “I’ve heard it both ways.” But you all know you haven’t. So, you get annoyed at them. Why didn’t they ever tell you this before? Why hasn’t anyone ever told you this before?

These questions haunt you, even as the voice in the back of your head reminds you of all the times someone else has pronounced something incorrectly at work and you kept your mouth shut. 'Cause calling someone you're not close to out on their word wrongness is as awkward as being the person committing the word wrongness.

Still, your friends are suddenly in the position of having to explain that you rarely discuss missiles with them, so how could they know that you always used the British pronunciation for it (even though you’ve never been to England). And search engines just don’t come up in conversation as frequently as you’d think, so how were they supposed to hear that you say Moxilla, instead of Mozilla?

We’ve all done this. I used to pronounce epitome, ep-ee-toe-m instead of ih-pit-uh-mee. Embarrassing.

Sadly, there’s really only one way to deal with this. Accept the fact that your friends will never forget it and make fun of you for the rest of your natural life, whenever anyone mentions the word. Make sure you don’t say it wrong in front of anyone else. And wait, in horror, for this to inevitably happen again.

In the meantime, though, you can just laugh when it’s happening to someone else.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Threat Persists....

It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the weather is getting warmer. And the Squirrel Menace is getting stronger.

Though I completely understand the desire to kick back and enjoy the lovely spring weather, I encourage you not to let your guard down. In the last week, I have received word that the squirrels are increasing their offensive.

My sister observed the following disturbing behavior of a squirrel on the sidewalk just days ago:

I turn and glance at the creature. Looks normal at first and then I see what’s in front of it…The longest worm I’ve ever seen, as long as a shoe string. The squirrel picks up the end of the worm and starts stuffing it into his mouth. He kept going and going, but it was such a long worm…He was moving at a rapid pace, stuffing as much as he could in and when he finally got to the end of it, more than half was in his mouth and the other half was bunched in a ball hanging out of his mouth. He looked at me and ran. Creepiest thing I ever saw.

While many might see this as a just another strange animal story in the city, my sister, being aware of the Squirrel Menace, understood its significance. The squirrels have received information of the F.P.F.’s growing movement against them. In response, squirrels are doing their best to eradicate the pigeon food source, hence their recent attacks on worms. Thankfully, while the early squirrel may have caught the worm, pigeons are not so picky in their diet that this offensive will really cause them any harm. However, our forces, both human and pigeon, would be wise to take note of these new squirrel strategies in order to ensure that the rodent forces never get the jump on us.

My father has also drawn my attention to some rather overt attacks by squirrels against humans currently taking place in Queens, NY. The creatures are getting more brazen and we must prepare ourselves accordingly. But perhaps most importantly, we must remember, we are not alone. (If you don't believe me, just check out Google.) And if we stand together, we can not lose.

At least that’s what we’re hoping.

In the interest of further elaborating the strengths of the pigeon forces, I will now present you with Commando. Please look for more information on decorated war pigeons in the future.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Friday the 13th!

I know that, traditionally, this is thought of to be a not so great day. But it’s always been one of my favorites. No triskaidekaphobia here! And it’s a good thing too, as I turned 13 on Friday the 13th. (We went to a Japanese restaurant where the waiter juggled knives. Show no fear!)

Of course, not being a particularly superstitious person doesn’t make superstitions any less interesting. So, in honor of the day, I offer you thirteen:

1. It is bad luck to wish an actor “Good Luck!” before a performance. Always say “Break a Leg!” (Strangely enough, Roomie never seems to appreciate this when I yell it to her before her soccer games.)

2. Never place shoes on a table as it means bad luck for the remainder of the day. (Also, it’s not all that hygienic.)

3. Put a pair of open scissors under your pillow for good luck and to keep away evil spirits. (Yeah. There’s no way that’s going to end badly.)

4. Never invite a door knocker to come in without seeing who is there first. It might be an evil spirit. (Or just a jerky person. Which would be worse.)

5. If you eat from the pot, it will rain at your wedding ceremony. (Looks like I’m fated for an indoor wedding. Thanks a lot, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese!)

6. If you start to go somewhere and come back for something, you will have bad luck. (Seems like you’ve already had it with the whole forgetting something issue.)

7. If your ears itch, someone is speaking of you. (If you find this happening regularly, it is likely you are super popular. But consider consulting a dermatologist. Could be eczema.)

8. If bird excrement lands on you, it is good luck. (See, this just sounds like someone trying to make themselves feel better. Sorry, Roomie, but I'm looking at you.)

9. Dream of a birth, someone will soon die. Dream of a death, a baby is coming. (That wily Sandman. Always trying to keep us on our toes.)

10. If a bird flies toward you, bad fortune is imminent. (I once had a seagull swoop down and steal an entire sandwich out of my hands. Certainly seemed like bad fortune to me. Of course, I can’t think of too many situations where an animal charging you is going to end well.)

11. A horseshoe hung in the bedroom will keep nightmares away. (Particularly if you hang it above your bed on a shoddy nail. That thing falls on you, you’re pretty much guaranteed a dream free night. And a headache in the morning.)

12. You can break a bad luck spell by turning seven times in a clockwise circle. (Of course, you’ll probably end up vomiting. So figure out which is the lesser of the evils before you make any decisions.)

13. If you read a fortune from a fortune cookie before eating the cookie completely, you will have bad luck. (This is possibly the only superstition I adhere to and I’m 99.9999% sure that my brother made it up to see how gullible I am. Turns out the answer is very. Still eat the full cookie before reading my fortune.)

Hope your day is full of whatever you believe to be the most lucky!

Squirrel Menace Update: Beware the Night Squirrels.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Driving Towards the Future

When I was a youngster, I had a very clear picture of how my chosen modes of transportation were going to evolve during my lifetime. And for this, I blame two families, in particular – the Flinstones and the Jetsons.

I regularly watched these shows as I planned out what my life was going to be like. (Remember when they met? Awesome.) At that point I was the co-owner of a very sweet vehicle. My sister and I were taking turns tooling around the house and yard in this classic.

It was a great car. One of the only ones I knew of that could be driven inside. Plus, the money we saved on gas? Not too shabby. Of course, our feet would occasionally get tired, but then I’d watch an episode of The Flinstones and think, But look how cool Fred looks! And I’d be back in the car. (My sister and I never did come across any dinosaurs, though. Disappointing. But I just assumed we were looking in the wrong places.)

Still, despite the awesomeness of our car, I knew that it would not always be my first choice. Why? Because I had seen the future. And the Jetsons had shown it to me.

I was totally going to grow up and get my own flying car. It was inevitable. I would look up at the sky and try to figure out the best path to take for my first trip. It would be magical. I figured I’d work somewhere other than Spacely Space Sprockets. Mostly ‘cause I wasn’t entirely sure what a sprocket was. Plus, at that point, I was trying to create my own Rosey out of my Erector Set. So, I was pretty sure I was going to go into robot production. Or become a space rock star. Something along those lines.

Eventually, I was too big to get into my Flinstone-ish car. But that was all right. Flying cars were just around the corner. So, I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And continue to wait.

I still don’t have a flying car. This was extremely disappointing to me until I read that the Jetson family is actually from 2062. So, there’s still time. Not a lot, but some. Given the advanced level of the flying cars during their lifetimes (and the fact that all buildings are built miles off the ground), I figure that production is going to be starting in the next couple years to get us to that point in time. Some have predicted that we will start seeing a mixture of automobile ground and air travel within the next two and a half years, but that may be a little optimistic. I’m okay with waiting a little longer for everything to be up and running, but by the time we reach 2062, I want what was promised to me.

I was discussing this with some coworkers the other day.

One replied, in all seriousness, “But you have Facebook and Twitter and stuff.”

Not the same, my friend. It’s just not the same.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just the usual, please

My sister has always wanted to walk into a restaurant and say “I’ll have the usual,” and for the wait staff to know exactly what she’s talking about.

I don’t think that dream has come true for her yet. I, also, have never had that experience, though I do think the folks down at the local CalTor are starting to recognize me from the far too frequent nacho runs that Roomie and I make. Embarrassing.

This makes me think of all the TV shows where the whole gang has one special hang out spot, outside their homes, that they like to patronize. On a production level, this makes sense. I would guess that fewer sets mean less resource loss, in terms of time and money. Why develop more locations in the city of Bayside, when most of the time the kids just wanted to go to The Max anyway? (Where else would Hot Sundae have performed?) And Sunnydale really didn’t need an alternate hangout place from the Bronze. After all, that place had everything. People of all ages could come to study, dance, do some general hanging out and regularly be taken hostage by the undead.

But more importantly, I think, is that the audience has more of a chance to be on the “inside” of the story when they are as familiar with the location as they are with the characters. Come on, don’t tell me that the few times the gang entered Central Perk and there were other people sitting on the center couch, you didn’t feel a little lost too. ‘Cause you know you did. And I totally wanted to join in yelling at Barney about pursuing Wendy, the waitress. Don’t ruin the bar, man.

Whether it be Luke’s Diner, McGinty’s, Beacon Street Pizza, or The @ Bar, a regularly used location grounds the audience further in the lives, both personal and professional, of fictional characters. And I, for one, always look forward to revisiting them.

Now, I just need to come up with a place like that in the real world for my friends. We have way too much variety in our outings. I’m thinking the best way of going about this is just to be all entrepreneurial and open my own place. At the very least, my sister will finally have someone to remember her regular order. (Pretty sure it has something to do with coffee and corn bread. Maybe pastina? Whatever. I'll write it down.)

Any suggestions as to the theme of my new endeavor? Right now, I’m leaning towards something along the lines of the 80’s cafĂ© in Back to the Future: Part II, but I’m open to other thoughts.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Under the Big Top

I’m not that into the circus.

I think it’s mostly the clowns. I don’t have a recurring-nightmare level of clown fear, but it’s just hard to really trust someone who makes it that difficult to read his facial cues. No one is actually always smiling or frowning, so make-up that suggests a perpetual expression is just creepy.

Fizbo is, of course, an exception. The character of Cameron is hysterical (and Phil’s reaction to him is even better). Plus the make-up around his mouth is in a circle, not a smile or frown. Infinitely less creepy.

I’ve been the circus a total of two times. Once when I was a kid and I remember the blue snow cone I ate, out of a clown head mug (again, creepy), more than I remember any of the show. The second time was a couple years ago. I was the person taking sudden, audible breaths when the acrobats did their thing. I mean, bravo, for being able to catch each other as you’re flying through the air, but as impressing as that is, it’s not worth the freaking heart attack I’m going to have watching it.

If you’re looking for someone with whom to get excited about the Big Top, I’m probably not your girl.

All this being said, I was once co-proprietor of one of the greatest clown-free circuses that ever performed, that of the Great Golden Circle.

One spring, during a big storm, a tree fell in our backyard, crushing one of the sides of the swimming pool. There was no fixing it, so the pool had to go. In its place was a giant circle in the backyard, that was covered in some kind of gold dust.

At first, the sister and I were disappointed that the summer was coming and the pool was no more, but then we realized the new world of possibilities that had just been opened. The great golden circle was the perfect performance venue.

Taking inspiration from our beloved Golly Sisters, we began to plan our acts. Playing to my bossy strengths, I became ring master. My sister and one of our friends performed as acrobats/trapeze artists (certainly some of the finest I’ve ever seen). The three of us made up the GGCC’s stock company, but we had many visiting performers who would pop in for select shows, including a Mighty Man who could lift two lawn chairs at the same time (impressive!).

Showing my nerdy historian nature early, I also organized spectacles depicting scenes from the Constitutional Congress that I’d gotten from another book, of which, sadly, I can no longer remember the name. All in all, it was quite a comprehensive show.

But the act in our main ring was the most impressive. One of daring and danger, involving a barely tamed beast…. Outrageous Odysseus, the Dangerous Dalmatian.

In the ring, this once domestic pet became a creature of great cunning. In spite of the inherent danger of the act, we soldiered on. Risking life and limb, we stood strong as the beast ran towards us. Veering off, at the last second, rather than maiming us, he would jump majestically through a hula hoop (provided there was a slice of cheese waiting on the other side) that was at least a foot off the ground.

And the crowd went wild.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Biding Her Time

Back in the old college days, Roomie and I used to share a room.

She often would head off to sleep earlier than I, as I had episodes of X-Files to watch (which she hated). One night, after hours of rooting for Mulder and Scully’s paranormal crime-solving skills – I, too, want to believe.– I decided it was time to go to bed.

When I walked into the room, Roomie was sitting straight up in her bed, just staring at the door. Her face was totally blank. Having spent as much time as I had watching the mysterious and creepifying, I, quite naturally I think, jumped. She gave no indication of having noticed my surprise. Instead she said, in complete monotone, “I just woke up,” and promptly fell back on her bed, grumbling for a few minutes before, once again, falling silent.

She had no recollection of this in the morning.

Well, I was sufficiently creeped out, but I’d never heard her talk in her sleep before, so I figured it was a weird anomaly. Sadly, not so.

Over the next few weeks, I heard random, short bursts of words coming from her side of the room as I fell asleep. And then one night, she uttered the most terrifying words ever spoken.

“Roommate alterations.”

I sat up and stared over at her bed, but nothing else came. That was it. “Roommate alterations,” then silence.

What could that possibly mean?

Me being me, I started envisioning the horrible things this alteration process might entail.

Her in a white lab coat and me strapped to a table as she began to cut open my head. On a far table, sits a jar with poor Abby Normal’s brain floating around in formaldehyde.

I’m being submerged into a tank of water, with large needles sticking out of my arms and legs. Through the hazy liquid I see her pull the switch, pumping
Adamantium into my body. But I don’t have the healing mutation! I’ll never survive!

She straps me into a chair, attaching a
helmet of jumper cables to my head. She paces the floor, whispering to herself, maniacally, as I wait for her to pull the switch.
The possibilities were equally endless and nightmarish.

I informed her the next morning that I knew of her plans. That I was on to her. That forewarned was forearmed. That Goonies never say die. That nobody puts Baby in a corner! (Yeah, I might have lost the thread a little bit there, but she got the point.)

Roomie laughed and said she didn’t remember saying that. She even agreed that it was a truly creepy thing to say. And wasn’t it all just so weird?

Sure, all the words were right, but I knew. Behind the sunny smile and blonde curls lay a mad scientist. Just waiting to get out.

Four years have passed since her terrifying mumbling and, as far as I’m aware, she has not attempted the fruition of her dastardly plot. But every once in awhile, she’ll look at me in a certain way and I wonder if, maybe, just maybe, she’s playing the long game.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bad Movies/Good Party Themes: Grease 2 Fort Party *updated*

The first Friday of the month is upon us, it’s party theme time.

I am fast approaching the glorious day when I shall graduate and hence forth be known as “Master” across the land. While this is exciting, it also means I’m in a bit of a work crunch. Now, I don’t know about all of you, but sometimes when I am in such situations, I find the best way to replenish the old brain box is to take part in something that requires the firing of absolutely no neurons.

Enter, Grease 2.

Now, for all of you who have not already been privy to this cinematic masterpiece, you’re missing out. Big time.

This sequel stars Maxwell Caulfield (Rex Manning!) and Michelle Pfeiffer. Some of my movie-viewing buddies were pondering what Michelle Pfeiffer’s reaction is when someone in an interview ultimately asks, So….Grease 2?? In my mind her answer to that is always an enthusiastic, Damn straight! ‘Cause who wouldn’t be proud of being part of this classic?

Anyway, Caulfield plays Michael Carrington, Australian Sandy Olsen’s British cousin (quite the international family). Michelle Pfeiffer is Stephanie Zinone, the newest leader of the Pink Ladies.

This movie has everything. Some old favorites – Frenchy’s back in high school, apparently majoring in chemistry (not the most unbelievable plot point, by any means). “Crater-Face,” Eugene (the years have made him somehow more clumsy), and certain faculty members have also stuck around. And some new – I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks the original T-Birds would kick the stuffing out of the more recent crop.

Ah, and the music. Dear, sweet heavens, the melodic tunes that accompany this profound plot. There really are no words to adequately describe these songs. I think I’ll have to make one up to do them justice: Awesotasticexcellence. Yeah. That’s what I’m going with. All that stuff that was just barely subtext in the score of the original movie? Straight up text here. Really makes it easy on the viewer. No time wasted on the whole searching-for-meaning thing.

In its nod to the historical time period, there are also a number of scenes involving bomb raid sirens and bomb shelters. Hence the remainder of our theme. We, too, built quite the shelter. I’d be surprised if it could have withstood the pelting of a Nerf gun.

But we did get up to seven people in there, so be impressed.

All in all, this was one of the greatest nights of all time. And I’m sure if you choose to attempt this with your chosen group, it will be a life-changing event.

Or at least a fun way to waste a few hours.

Crackerjack dialogue to look forward to:
- “Howdy fellas, let’s bowl some balls.”
- “I catch you with that punk one more time, and he’s a dead man! You know what I’m saying? D-E-D!”
- “We’re going to die and I’m wearing my mother’s underwear!”

Tagline: “Grease is still the word!”

For a Grease 2 Fort Party of your very own, here’s what you need:

- Grease 2 (1982)
- Boxes, plastic bins, sheets, chairs (really, anything that can be used in the construction of a fort – we found Swiffers in keeping the roof up)
- Snacks: pizza, popcorn, salt water taffy, cookies, root beer float cupcakes (freaking delicious)
- A volunteer to be “dance captain” (get those people out of the seats and bopping along with the cast!)
- A volunteer to be “song leader” (helpful if this person just so happens to know all the songs already due to some tragic twist of fate, but this is not necessary. It can just be someone who is willing to sing along loudly regardless of whether or not they know the words. Come on…every group has at least one.)
- A group photographer to capture images of what is likely to best the best. fort. EVER.
- Group of indiscriminate musical fans and/or Rex Manning groupies and/or living room fort connoisseurs and/or mentally exhausted individuals.

See you next week!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Invisible or Imaginary?

When we were but wee lassies, my sister told me about her invisible friend. His name was Jenkins and he was a butler. Now, whether or not he was employed as her butler, or simply a butler with whom she was friends, I was never entirely sure. She did occasionally ask him to bring her things. I remember one time, in particular, when we were sitting in a hospital waiting room after my uncle had gotten surgery, where we whiled away the hours seeing what sort of ridiculous things that we could get Jenkins to bring us.

I decided I didn’t want to be left out. And thus, Lily was born. She was very pale, with long, black hair to her waist. She always wore tiger lilies in her hair. One because I liked the orange color and two because her name was Lily and therefore she had to wear lilies. It was, like a rule, or something. And she was a big fan of flowing skirts.

Basically, I created a vampiric hippie.

I’m not sure if this choice was simply inspired by the tiger lilies in the front yard or because on some level, I knew her easy-going personality would offset Jenkins’ formality nicely. Either way, I loved her. And regardless of their personality differences, she and Jenkins got along very well. They even occasionally went on trips together. Little sis and I were always anxious for their return. We wanted to hear about their travels. And, of course, see the gifts they brought us.

Despite all the fantasy souvenirs we collected, it is important to note that while Lily was imaginary, I’m still pretty sure that Jenkins was just invisible. He never revealed himself to me, but my sister’s conviction that he was there was pretty convincing. There never seemed to be any traumatic event that caused Jenkins to leave (no Drop Dead Fred moments, as it were), so I’m guessing he had to leave at some point to go buttle* for another kid and they parted ways amicably.

So, a big thank you to both my sister and her invisible friend for allowing me my imaginings so I wouldn’t be left out.

Lily, if somehow I am mistaken, and I didn’t just create you in my mind, please accept my humblest apologies. And feel free to stop by. I’d love to catch up.

*Spell check doesn’t recognize this word, but I’m going to assume it’s the verb for what a butler does and spell check just isn’t ritzy enough to realize it.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

World of Possibilities

I have always believed in the possibility of magic.

Key word being “possibility.” I certainly have no proof that magic exists, but I also have never been offered compelling enough evidence to dismiss it out of hand.

So many of the books I read as a child contained beings of magic. While I never had any issue differentiating between fact and fiction, I did wonder where these ideas came from. In more recent stories, I could assume that the authors had been informed by tales of magic that had come before them. But where had the magical discussion started? That, I didn’t know.

In second grade, my class did a project where we wrote and illustrated books about whatever struck our fancy. Once we had completed our masterpieces, the class moms would laminate and staple them. In that year, I wrote a record-breaking eighteen stories (that’s right, be impressed). Some of them were straight fact, some of them had some fantastical elements. One, in particular, that I remember, was all about a haunted graveyard.

I had never been to a haunted graveyard, but it seemed like a cool idea to write about. So, at the age of seven, I understood that authors could write about whatever they wanted and it didn’t have to be real. But I also knew that every single one of my stories took something from my real life. None of them were completely devoid of my actual experiences. And that got me wondering.

I had written about a haunted graveyard because I had been to a cemetery and read stories about ghosts. The idea did not just appear, utterly unique and fully formed, in my mind. I had a frame of reference. But what about those people who first told stories of magic? What was their frame of reference?

This line of thought planted a seed in my little seven-year-old brain. Maybe they were writing about things they’d seen or heard about from people they knew, like I was. If so, then maybe magic was real then. And if magic was real then, maybe it was still real now.

Sitting at that little desk, armed with my crayons and construction paper, I developed a belief in the possibility of magic that, even now, I can not shake.

I’ve never been willing to sit around and wait for something magical to happen. That takes up too much time and I have things to get done. But, while I’m going about my work, I keep my eyes open. Just in case. ‘Cause the only way I even have a shot at finding out if possibilities can be realities is to continue looking.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Waking to Wonderland

I got my first lead role in a play when I was in sixth grade. I was Alice in the first act of Alice in Wonderland. After the intermission, the girl who was playing second act Alice and I did a mirror bit where we switched places. I don’t know that this would have worked for any other play, but given the bizarre nature of Wonderland, it fit.

It was an extremely fun experience, but I still didn’t come out of it liking Alice in Wonderland any more than I had before. It just wasn’t my story. I could never get invested in the characters. Sure, I wanted Alice to find her way home – the same way I would for anyone – I just didn’t want to have to watch it.

I went with some friends to see the Tim Burton version when it came out a couple years ago. Visually, it was certainly interesting and I liked that there were some twists to the original story, but, overall I still wasn’t all that connected to the characters. I wanted to like them more than I did.

Last night I caught up on the last couple weeks of Once Upon A Time. The first episode up was “Hat Trick,” with the fairy tale flashes starring none other than the Mad Hatter. And for the first time in a long time, Wonderland held some interest for me.

One of my favorite aspects of the show are all the character backgrounds it provides. I love seeing how these well-known characters got to where they were when we initially met them in the original stories. Because, as great as fairy tales are, the classics are generally lacking in back story. Stepmothers are apparently prone to evil. Okay. But, why? Was their malevolence born or made? And if the fathers of these fairy tale princesses are such noble men, what prompted them to marry these wicked individuals?

Do fairies have lives outside of helping all those mere mortals or are they basically just sitting around, waiting for the phone to ring?

Was the hatter always mad or was he driven to it?

The show tries to provide some of the answers. And, for that reason above all others, I love it.

Watching “Hat Trick,” it finally made sense to me why the hatter was such a looney tune. More than that, it made me root for him. Yeah, I was ultimately happy that Emma smacked him in the head with a telescope and Mary Margaret kicked him out the window. ‘Cause, kidnapping? Never the proper answer to the question. But, I do hope that he ultimately finds his way back from his madness. And I couldn’t help but wish that some of what he was saying was getting through to Emma, because despite the maniacal glint in his eyes, he made a pretty compelling case for why she should belief.

He also spoke what might be my favorite line of the series thus far, “You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants a magical solution for their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.”

But more on that tomorrow.