Thursday, February 28, 2008

Spring Has Sprung(ish): Film at 11:00

I cannot decide whether to call this photograph "Triumph Over Winter" or "Holy Shit" which is what I said when I found the flowers last weekend.

These are snowdrops; daffodils are beginning to pop up behind them in the flower bed, and I think I have some lilies of the valley sprouting up under a tree in the backyard.
The sidekick is deeply unimpressed by this flora. Her attitude is: If it isn't in my food bowl and if it doesn't crawl, squeak, scuttle, hop, trot, or fly, who cares?

Thursday Potpourri

1) Mission Accomplished! I have made someone snot tea out of their nose laughing. This makes me very, very happy because I live to make people snot liquids out of their noses. I began at quite a young age, doing whatever I could to make my sister snot root beer out of her nose. This often won me the gift of not just her girlish laughter, but a fierce little slappy fight; it is very painful to snot root beer out of your nose.

2) Fight Lily the Monster! What is your monster and can it beat my monster? My monster Lily is a Giant Dragon that spins Vast Webs, has X-Ray Vision and a Humorous Nephew Sidekick, and CANNOT BE STOPPED. The Web site that the monster fight is on is fun--check it out.

3) Mission Aborted! Every morning, I pull up the blinds and look out the window at this birdhouse. I love this birdhouse, and the other day I decided I wanted to stick a plastic dinosaur in the entryway of the birdhouse and take a photograph of it. This might not surprise you.

Anyhoo, when I got closer to the birdhouse, I noticed a ton of nesting materials bunched up inside. It would bum me out to have a giant plastic dinosaur butt thrust into my house--yeah, you too, huh?--so I can't take the photograph. RATS!

4) England Beats America!
All these years, we've been deluding ourselves into thinking that we "won" the Revolutionary War. Well, take a look at all of their different kinds of potato chips (aka crisps) and realize the depth of our folly. Here is a very brief sampling: Brannigans Roast Beef and Mustard Flavor Thick Cut Potato Crisps, Brannigans Smoked Ham and Pickle Flavor Thick Cut Potato Crisps, Burts Hand Fried Potato Chips Hot Chilli Lemon Flavour, Burts Hand Fried Potato Chips Mature Cheddar Cheese Flavour, Eat My Goal! Hot & Spicy Cheesy Balls, Eat My Shorts, Golden Wonder Curry Flavor Quite Hot Crisps, Golden Wonder Sausage & Tomato Flavour Crisps, Hula Hoops Prawn Cocktail Flavour Potato Rings, McCoy's Flame Grilled Steak Flavour Ridge Cut Potato Chips. WALKERS ROAST TURKEY WITH PAXO SAGE AND ONION FLAVOUR CRISPS! GIMME!

5) Exercise Moderation in Moderation 
Last but not least, here: Have some festive baked beans with "moderate amounts of wine." To enhance the festiveness, I recommend discarding the idea of moderation and perhaps limiting the amount of beans involved.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

How I Used to Spend My Saturdays

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Am A Politician, And I Have Approved These Messages

15-Second Ad #1: A Fast-Moving Video Montage Set to Inspirational Music

1) Footage of me flipping burgers at an inner-city neighborhood block party.
(It is interesting how the soundtrack of this ad drowns out all of the people muttering "Who invited this bozo?" and "Did that fool bring this potato salad? I think the mayo went bad.")

2) Footage of me hugging an elderly woman at a senior citizen center.
(Thank goodness you, the viewer, cannot hear her plaintive cries of, "Who are you? Why are you touching me?")

3) Footage of me helping children with disabilities paint a mural.
(It is helpful that the ad's soundtrack of inspirational music drowns out the children's complaints of, "Stop hogging the red paint!" and "You are a really bad artist.")

4) Footage of me hanging out with construction workers, trading quips.
(Honestly? They are making fun of me and I am thinking, "Who ate the garlic?")

5) Footage of me rescuing family pets from a burning building.
(The dog bites me. I am allergic to cats, so I hastily lob the kitten into adjacent shrubbery after they stop filming.)

6) Footage of me on a tractor, waving to the farmer whose fields I am plowing.
(First, nobody informed me that farms smell like poo. What's UP with that? Second, okay--technically, I wasn't plowing a field--the tractor got away from me and I laid to waste a meadow full of edible flowers that the farmer's wife has been marketing to high-end restaurants.)

7) Footage of me giving a speech to a gigantic, cheering crowd.
(Thank god for the blue screen.)

15-Second Ad #2: Me--Kicking Back and Relaxing, Yet Oozing Alert Leadership from Every Pore--In A Nice But Not-Too-Nice Living Room

1) Hello, my new best friend! I am going to tell you a personal story now.
(This seems spontaneous. Yet, the version you are seeing is my 50th attempt at telling this story. Feedback on the 49 prior versions included, but was not limited to: "Cut! Look into the camera," "Cut! You look dead--let's get some make-up here," "Cut! Stop jiggling your leg like that," "Cut! Suck the lettuce out of your front teeth," and "Cut! Stop hugging the pillow to your chest.")
2) Linking story to national issue.
(110 takes)
3) Gaze into camera. Sincere.
(500 takes. Feedback included, but was not limited to: "That's not sincere, that's indigestion.")
4) Sincere.
(200 takes. I think I'm getting this sincere look down.)
5) Bold. Hope. Faith. Free candy.
(1,000 takes. This is a lot to try to communicate.)
6) Subtle crack at opponent.
(1 take. I'm getting good at this!)
7) Light humor chuckle chuckle.
(3,000 takes. Feedback included, but was not limited to: "That laugh sounded forced," "You looked like Nixon trying to be jolly," and "Can you laugh? I mean, do you laugh sometimes in real life?")
8) Sincere.
(You would not be able to tell, but this was the same sincere footage from before.)

To sum up: I would like to see the out-takes and cutting-room floor footage from candidates' television ads.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Give My Egads To Boadway

I am so vey scewed.

It appeas that a cetain key on my laptop is malfunctioning. Thee is a good chance that thee is a fickin' cumb stuck unde it.

Who could have guessed how many wods this lette is in? Lots of wods I use with my clients, such as:

1) Dea Ms. X,
2) Best egads,
3) This section needs ewoking. EWOKING!
4) Wong wod
5) Edito Notes
6) Fagment
7) I have ewitten this section; ead it caefully.
8) Seious gammatical poblems.
9) Un-on

Ats! I'm gonna lose all cedibility. This will NOT look pofessional. I will look etaded.* Vey, vey etaded.

Testing. One, two, thee. Testing. One, two, thee.

Cap.

Geegollygoshdandeucedevildamn.**

Testing. One, two, three. All RIGHT! It's back! The crumb must have sifted. Sifted. Sifted. SIT! I sould vac the cap (SIT! The cumb as subdivided and scooted unde bot keys!) out of my keyboad.
SCEWED, I tell you, SCEWED!

*Yet not quite as etaded as the estauant down te road tat used to call itself "Tom's Pube" in an attempt to seem ustic.
**A cuss used by my geat-gandad. Was supposed to calm im down befoe "damn." Yet, I bet geat-gandad skipped to "Damn" lickety-split when is best fiend accidentally sot is eye out! Poo one-eyed geat-gandad.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Words of Wisdom

1) "Never jump from a window except as a last resort."
2) "Newspapers have an innocent air, but just wait until they meet Old Man Fire."
3) "Unfortunately head lice are no respecters of persons."
4) "Many women treat their pillows to astonishing neglect!"
5) "Let a handy man do the heavy cleaning."
6) "If desirable flavors can be absorbed, so can undesirable flavors!"
7) "The yellowing of piano keys troubles many homemakers..."
8) "Children love to fly kites, and it is up to you to see that they indulge in this sport where there are no power lines nearby." Sport? Kite flying is a sport?
9) "Too much wax is the great offender."
10) "Contracts that are long, detailed, and printed in parts in small type are likely to contain 'jokers.'"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Books I Should Probably Read #1

Because: (1) It's by Mel Brooks's son and likely to have the humor; and (2) Well, you never know when you might need some mad zombie-quelling skills.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A Pox on this Merciless Rain. Dance this Mess AROUND!

They do the Shu-ga-loo
Do the Shy Tuna
Do the Camel Walk
Do the Hip-o-crit

Ah-Hippy Hippy forward Hippy Hippy
Hippy Shake, Hippy Shake

Oh-it's time to do 'em right
Hey now, don't that make you feel a whole lot better?
Huh?
I say, don't that make you feel a whole lot better

What you say?
I'm just askin'

Shake-Bake-Shake-Bake

Everybody goes to parties
They dance this mess around
They do all 16 dances
Do the Coo-ca-choo
Do the Aqua-velva
Do the Dirty Dog
Do the Escalator

Ah-Hippy Hippy forward Hippy Hippy
Hippy Shake, Hippy Shake

It's time to do 'em right
Hey! Now don't that make you feel a whole lot better now?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Best Grammy Moment Ever

I've given up on awards shows these days. I used to watch 'em all--Oscars, Golden Globes, heck, Miss America. I reveled in the sporting spirit of the thing and would make gentle book on the outcomes with family and friends (safe bet--Miss New Hampshire never stood a chance). Nobody's kneecaps got broken over the wagers, but I'd definitely make my bets and compare notes after the show. Prizes would be given, embarrassing moments would be joyfully relived, and a good time would be had by all.

No more. I've reached my legal load limit and I can't watch the shows anymore. Long before the writers went on strike and Mary Hart's c-cup golden globes bounced in to take over the proceedings, my stamina was worn down by endless five-hour shows and awkward hosts.

So, the five minutes of the Grammy Awards that I saw last night were a complete and happy accident. Desperate for a distraction from work, I flipped on the TV, surfed through the four channels that I get, and BAM! There it was. Keely Smith and Kid Rock singing "That Old Black Magic." I love The Keely Smith. Here she is with Louis Prima, with whom she sang--very deadpan and poker-faced most of the time, as shown below:
And then, Keely 'n Kid presented an award to the Foo Fighters and up on the stage trotted the FFers and Pat Smear.
Pat Smear of The Germs! Pat Smear of The Decline of Western Civilization! Pat Smear of Nirvana! Pat Smear of The Foo Fighters (at one point)! Pat Smear of, uh, The House of Style!

So, there he was--a giant Pat Smear lurking at the back of the stage with a swarming horde of current and former Foo Fighters in the foreground--and there was tiny little Keely Smith trying to ease and ooze herself out of the picture and boom! Pat Smear gently takes Keely Smith by the shoulders and steers her back into camera range and says quite clearly, "Hey, where do you think you're going?" It was pretty dang sweet.

Pat Smear, Keely Smith. Both outstandingly good at what they do. Both usually in the background. Both survivors. Together! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Thank you, 2008 Grammy Awards. That was a good few minutes. Anybody else watch? Anybody enjoy anything?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dino Shore Casserole: Tennessee Lasagne

Yep. Tennessee Lasagne. Hey, there's nothing I can do. I woke up this morning, the blog banner was different, there were all of these clips with David Bowie, and the robots were in the kitchen making this casserole. Has this happened to anyone else's blog? Is it just me?
10 servings
2¼ hours 35 min prep
1 (16 ounce) package elbow macaroni
1/4 cup butter
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese, cut into cubes divided
1 cup parmesan cheese
Sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon oil
1 small celery rib, chopped
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
2 lbs ground chuck
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 dash oregano
8 mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 dash worcestshire sauce
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes
2 (16 ounce) cans chopped tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

Prepare macaroni as directed on pkg.
For Sauce:.
Brown onion and garlic in oil; add celery and green pepper.Cook until softened. Remove from pan. Add ground beef to pan and brown well. Add salt,pepper, chili powder, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, pinch oregano, mushrooms, and then onion mixture. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce. Simmer low for 1 hour, or until sauce blends.

In a large cassarole dish, assemble by putting a layer of cooked macaroni;dot with butter, add 1/2 of cheese cubes, and then layer of sauce. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Then add another layer of macaroni, butter and cheese cubes. Finish with a layer of sauce;top with Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 oven 30 minutes or until cheese is melted inside and dish is thoroughly heated. This can be prepared ahead.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Actual Transcript of a Telephone Call

Sparkle: "So, you know, sometimes the approach you're proposing can work well--sometimes not so much. Why don't we keep an eye on the process* and see how it goes?"

Client: "Did you just say no to me?"

Sparkle: "?"

Client: "Because I think you just said no to me, but in a nice way. Did you just say no to me in a nice way?"

Sparkle: "Yes."

Client: "Are you always this nice?"

Sparkle: "?"

Client: "Because you haven't said anything absolutely negative yet. And, you're so nice.** And, you seem to have an accent of some sort. Are you from Minnesota? Are you from somewhere nice?"

Sparkle: "No. Uh...where was I? So, I'll have a lot of queries for you by the end of the week, and..."

*Yes. I say things like this to clients. Yes. I do.
**Whenever someone says I'm "so nice" it kind of makes me want to be mean or naughty. This is, no doubt, a very immature reaction.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Move Over Puppy Tug...There's a New Toy in Town

"For me? Well, how nice. Smashing. He seems like quite a companionable little chap. I'll just sit here and hold hands with him."
"Okay. Change of plan. This is a sassy monkey. A cheeky little monkey. I. Must. Eat. This. Monkey."
"Eaaaaaat. Monkey. Muuuuuuuust. Eaaaaaaaat. Monkeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeey."
"C'mon! Try to take the monkey away! I swear I'll let ya get him! I swear! See? You can hold on to his tail. Really! Really! Cross my heart!"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bowls That Will Not Make You Weep

So, as my highly esteemed blogeague No Oprah notes, there was this big football game called a "Super Bowl" and the team 'most everybody I know wanted to win lost. So, here are some other bowls.

SUPPER BOWL '08! (DANG--it's time to wash Supper Bowl '08...it's the fish oil...makes everything stick!)
SNACKER BOWL '03 (these are the perfect size for a nice little trail mix consisting of M&MsTM, almonds, and dried apricots)
SUGAR BOWL (I love how two-handled sugar bowls always look indignant...it's the hands-on-the-hips look)

SWINGER BOWL (play it, daddy-o)
STREAKER BOWL (it's my job to take your mind off your woes...if this gives you new woes, I'm not responsible...Nude Bowling in Cleveland!)

Friday, February 1, 2008

ME? A NIELSEN FAMILY?!

So, I just got a card from Nielsen TV ratings addressed to: TV HOUSEHOLD, MY ADDRESS, MY TOWN, MY STATE, MY ZIP.

It says: "It is my pleasure to tell you that your household has been chosen from all the households in your area to participate in a Nielsen TV ratings study. In a few weeks, an interviewer from Nielsen Media Research will contact your household by telephone to conduct this important study. Please be sure to let everyone in your household know that we will be calling. The interview should take approximately 5 minutes. Your participation is strictly voluntary and all of your answers will remain confidential. Please be assured that we are not attempting to sell anything to you. Our only purpose is to learn about TV usage in your area. We will telephone you soon. Thank you." Susan Whiting, President, Nielsen TV Ratings

Me...Me and Lily...A Nielsen Family?! HUH?

Okay, there is a little problem here. First, I only have a cell phone, so I'm thinking there's no way in hell they are going to be "telephoning me soon." Don't you think? Even if they look up my address, they won't find a phone number, will they? It will be interesting to see.

I kind of hope they get through. I'd like to do this! And, just in case they do get through, are there any shows you want me to be enthusiastic about in case it helps? You're kind of in my household because you pop up on my computer. So, I say your response is valid.

HAPPY WEEKEND.

Sincerely,
Sparkle "I'm a Nielsen Family!" Plenty

Actual Transcript of a Phone Call

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4."

I'm none of the above! I want to find out about your small business plans! And I couldn't figure out the info I want from your Web site! This is your main 800 number. You have to have more options. C'mon! Presses 0.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4."

Presses *--sometimes that works.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4."

Presses #--I feel like a chicken playing tic tac toe.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4."

Presses 1.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Please enter your member number."

I don't have one.

"I'm sorry. I did not hear your member number. Please try again."

Sorry, no can do.

"I'm waiting for your response."

'kay.

"I'm sorry, I couldn't 'get that.' I'll need to transfer your call to a representative."

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Fist pumps.

System hangs up on me. Dial tone. State of shock. Redial.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4."

Presses 1.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Please enter your member number."

Wait, wait, wait.

"I'm sorry. I did not hear your member number. Please try again."

Wait, wait, wait.

"I'm waiting for your response."

Wait, wait, wait.

"I'm sorry, I'll need to transfer your call to a representative."

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! Fist pumps. A strange, tinkly piece of music titled "Theme for a Nervous Breakdown" plays and repeats, plays and repeats.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us--"

You lie like a rug!

"--please continue to hold and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."

Start to sort mail and do bills. Finish sorting mails and doing bills. Do a little light spot cleaning. Pick up some tumbleweeds of Lily fur. Decide to have a snack. Fill mouth with tangerine and begin to hum strange, tinkly piece of music.

"Blue Cross Blue Shield, this is MelAHnie. May I have your member number please?"

"Mrumph schla. Excuse me. Hi, MelAHnie. I'm sorry. I think I might have the wrong number. I'm not a member. I want to find out about your options for small businesses?"

"Okay. That would be small business sales. Would you like that number so you can call them back?"

"Actually, could you transfer me?"

"Sure. But, sometimes people get lost. Would you like the number just in case?"

"Okay. But, is there a toll-free 800 number?"

"I don't know. I just have the in-state number, but I'm sure if you call that number you can find out if there is a toll-free 800 number."

"But, if I do that...Okay! Sure. That would be great. Please give me the number and transfer me."

"Is there anything else I can do for you today?"

Resist. Resist. Resist. It is not MelAHnie's fault.

"No thank you, MelAHnie. You've been very helpful."

MelAHnie botches transfer and hangs up on me. I dial non-toll-free number MelAHnie has provided.

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are a member, please press 1. If you are a doctor or doctor's representative, please press 2. If you are an agent, please press 3. If you have a claim, please press 4. If you are a corporation in this state, please press 5."

5! 5! 5! Beautiful 5! Presses 5.

"Thank you for calling the business sales division of Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us. Our menu options have changed. If you are interested in Healthy Choice a Whizbang, please press 1. If you have a claim, please press 2. If you are a member, please press 3. Otherwise, please stay on the line and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."

Neil Diamond song starts to play. "Girl, I don't wanna fight I'm a little bit wrong, and you're a little bit right I said girl, you know that it's true It's a little bit me, and it's a little bit you, too."

I page through a magazine, unpack a box of books I've been "meaning to get to."

"Thank you for calling Blue Cross Blue Shield. Your call is very important to us--"

Uh-huh.

"--please continue to hold and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."

I begin to brush my teeth.

"Your call may be recorded for customer service purposes. We are now connecting you with a representative."
I rinse and spit to be ready.

"You have reached the small business department of Blue Cross Blue Shield. Our hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please leave your name, number, and a message and we'll get right back to you."

To sum up: It has been four days.