Monday, December 31, 2007

45 minutes 'til midnight...

Surely I can make it that much longer?

'Cause, you see, I REALLY DID make no plans for New Year's this year, and other than my very grown-up daughter's insistence that this is THE YEAR she will stay up until midnight, and the Flight of the Conchords marathon on HBO, there is not much reason to stay awake. (That, and the 6:00 AM wakeup time for the flight back from Kansas City this morning is also starting to make itself felt.)

Egads. The OG just pounded through the living room at top speed, demanding to watch The Empire Strikes Back (after just finishing Star Wars in the back room,) at 11:27 PM. And she got up the same time I did. Christ, how is that possible?

Happy New Year, everyone. My partying tonight will be just to celebrate getting back home after a bittersweet rollercoaster of a Christmas. I hope that, whatever you are doing this evening, that you are happy.

I, unshowered, in my most ratty of ratties, most certainly am.

--------------------------------------

Oh, by the way, the Missouri Tigers play in the Cotton Bowl tomorrow (10:30 AM, central time).

Be sure to get your brunch on and root hard against Arkansas (a state which is entirely populated by criminals and people with FAR too much schooling, I've heard).

Friday, December 28, 2007

Viva...VIVA....






Want to take a guess where I went this week?

Oh, yes, baby; you guessed right.

And I have been DYING to tell you all that I was going, and I COULD NOT, because we were surprising our bestest friend Todd there, upon the occasion of his 40th birthday...and Todd is a regular reader, y'see. So, this was not ONLY a decadent, kid-free, money-and-diet-be-damned vacation...it was also a SUPER-SECRET vacation. Woohoo! (And, it was also, by default - as we can't afford another one - our 10th anniversary vacation, albeit about six months early. Hope we make it that much longer, honey, just to make our claim on that title legit. Kisses!)

So, The Man and I dropped off the kids with my mom, and left them on Christmas day, because we are AWESOME parents, and arrived that evening at New York New York. Todd and Aimee - Aimee being the instigator of all this deception several months ago - arrived a couple of hours after we did. The Man and I scurried along after them, and jumped into the hotel registration line a few people back, just to see how long it would take him to spot us. The tied-for-first best moment of the whole trip - I'll get to the other best moment in a bit - was the approximately eight-second stare that was directed at The Man, until recognition of the situation dawned. Bloody priceless.


Now, Todd and Aimee are No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker crack whores, like The Man and I. We were there to see each other, obviously, but we were also there to PLAY CARDS. I downloaded a list of every Hold 'Em tournament that was held, in every hotel, and it became our trip bible.

Our first tournament was at 10 AM the next morning at Mandalay Bay; there were about 30 people. Aimee, Lee and I were out pretty fast, but Todd made it to the last table, and came in "in the money"... fourth, I think? After that one was over, we scuttled across the bridge to the Excalibur, grabbed a quick and fattening lunch, and proceeded to their 1:00 tournament.

And, guess who won? GUESS who won, ALMOST FIVE HUNDRED EFFING DOLLARS, in a 40-person, Texas Hold 'Em, Poker Tournament, IN LAS VEGAS?

No, wait! I'll show you!!!


Oh, friends, that was so fucking sweet. I felt like I was winning one for every woman who was ever underestimated as a card player. (And, ooh, the sexism there is palpable.)

Sadly, the most exciting hand that was played, and the one that pretty much cemented my lead, was at the expense of Todd. (This next paragraph will include poker talk. Please jump down if this bores you to tears. That is OK with me.)

Before the flop, I went all in with my pair of queens, another guy went all in on his pair of jacks...and Todd calls us, with his fucking pair of kings. A train wreck was clearly about to ensue. I was about to bow gracefully to the birthday boy and withdraw from the game, when the cards are flipped...to reveal a queen. So, I got three of a kind, which knocked the other guy out, and mortally wounded Todd. (I would like to tell you that I handled this like a very gracious winner, and that I did not shriek at the top of my lungs and jump up and down. But that would be a lie.) After that, it was pretty much all over. Damn, that was fun. I'm sorry, Todd. But damn, that was fun.

We played in a third tourney that night in a seedier club off of the strip called the Tuscany. Definitely an interesting experience. Not what we're used to, suburbanite poker-player-wannabes that we are; it was the sort of place where you got the feeling that someone was gonna pull a knife before the evening was out. I didn't last long in that one, and was actually kind of OK with that. (For example, I got called "baby" there, and not in a good, or ironic, way. Feh.)

Todd - who was happily still speaking to me - took us downtown later that evening, and we got into a cash game at Binion's, which is apparently THE really famous poker place. There - yay again - I doubled-up my money, and won about another $100. This is a picture from outside Binion's, the "Fremont Street Experience," which is the big downtown, old-schooly area:

The next day, feeling that my luck was probably played out - and since the rooms were filling up much faster, due to the fact that people were starting to arrive for New Year's - I didn't play anymore poker. The rest of them did one or two more tournaments, back at Mandalay Bay and Excalibur, but I did some shopping, and went to the Star Trek Experience at the Hilton. (Brilliant, as usual. I got this:


which makes me AWESOME, and we also bought Fruity Girl Drinks at Quark's Bar. (It is a little known fact that The Man, "Beer Guy" that he is, is in actuality a Girl Drink Drunk. Here is proof:


(You will note that he is faking distress. However, you astute Sherlocks will also note that there are TWO DRINKS in this picture.)

I also bought some Manilow water - yes, friends, THAT Manilow, as if there were any other - just to say that I had:

Finally, last night, our last evening there, we went to see "Love," the Cirque du Soleil show that is entirely set to Beatles music. Though the acrobatics were not as awe-inspiring as "O," which we saw about six years ago, it was really beautiful and moving, and put me in a great mood. (And, it's the best music ever for a damn Cirque du Soleil show, for sure.)

The capper to the vacation was a trip off the strip to see if there did, truly, still exist, a $6.99 steak dinner in Vegas. As it turned out, there is, at a place called Ellis Island, a red-leather booth-bedecked anachronism which appears completely unchanged from the Rat Pack days. Todd's buddy Mikhail, who happened to be in town, and knows of these things, took us here, and spread the gospel of the cheap meal to me, the non-believer:


And damn if five of us didn't eat a steak dinner, with baked potato, green beans, a salad, and a beer, apiece, for a grand total of $37. (Todd, I'm a true believer now. I shall never espouse a $26 buffet again.)

We had an absolutely wonderful time. So much fun, and such good company. Today, sadly, I'm back, back to the drudgery of eating Egg Beaters and roughage, reading bedtime stories, and having to pay for my cocktails. My high-roller glory days are behind me. I won't look back.

However...who's up for next year?

Monday, December 24, 2007

'Cause we ALL WANT ONE!



Mom got drunk, and Dad got drunk, at our Christmas party
We were drinking champagne punch and homemade eggnog
Little sister brought her new boyfriend
He was a Mexican
We didn't know what to think of him until he sang
Feliz Navidad, Feliz Navidad

Brother Ken brought his kids with him
The three from his first wife Lynn
And the two identical twins from his second wife Mary Nell
Of course he brought his new wife Kay
Who talks all about A.A.
Chain smoking while the stereo plays Noel, Noel
The First Noel

Carve the Turkey
Turn the ball game on
Mix margaritas when the eggnog's gone
Send somebody to the Quickpak Store
We need some ice and an extension cord
A can of bean dip and some Diet Rites
A box of tampons, some Marlboro Lights
Hallelujah, everybody say "cheese"
Merry Christmas from the family

Fred and Rita drove from Harlingen
I can't remember how I'm kin to them
But when they tried to plug their motor home in
They blew our Christmas lights
Cousin David knew just what went wrong
So we all waited out on our front lawn
He threw a breaker and the lights came on
And we sang Silent Night, Oh Silent Night, Oh Holy Night

Carve the turkey, turn the ball game on
Make Bloody Marys
'Cause we all want one!
Send somebody to the Stop 'N Go
We need some celery and a can of fake snow
A bag of lemons and some Diet Sprites
A box of tampons, some Salem Lights
Hallelujah, everybody say cheese
Merry Christmas from the family

We over at the Mags household hope you, and all of yours, are warm, safe, and together.





Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'll Tumble 4 Ya


This - or these; I bought two of them - was, or were, my Christmas gift to myself this week.

They're Ecco Waves. Objectively, of course, I recognize that they are not much to look at; sort of utilitarian and work-shoe-ish. However, I LOVE them.

And here is why:

Monday, I was walking out of work, with a cloth briefcase and a lunchbag (OK, a plastic grocery bag with the remains of my lunch) on my arm. My cell phone was in my ear, and I was sort of distractedly headed to my car while saying something to The Man on the phone that I'm sure was very important. (Typical of our phone conversations: "Did you get cat litter?" "I'll pick up the OG if you'll pick up the YG" or "Fuck, no, you can't go out drinking with your layabout buddies tonight, because you didn't do the dishes, pig fucker!" )

Anyway. Just as I see two of my co-workers standing in the parking lot right in front of me, I FELL DOWN. On my right knee. Straight off of my old Dansko clogs:


...which, if you'll look, have the BAREST MINIMUM of a heel for me to fall off FROM. And yet, I managed to do it. I completely bought it, knee to pavement, cell phone skittering across the ground, co-workers yelping and rushing to help, EVERYTHING AS EMBARRASSINGLY AS POSSIBLE.

As it turns out, my co-workers were actually more focused on one of their cars having been vandalized and broken into. (Have you heard about this rash of car vandalisms that some assholes are perpetrating around Austin? They shoot out the back windows of cars with BB guns. Most aren't robbed, but my co-worker's was. Pig fuckers.) So, I was able to extricate myself from the situation fairly easily there, and to limp to my car in peace, blood clearly oozing from my knee underneath my pantleg.*

I am now, as always, astounded by my own clumsiness. I don't know why it always comes as such a shock to me, when I fall, OFF ONE-INCH CLOGS, onto the ground. And yet, it does.

So, in my embarrassed, alone, silence, I drove. Straight to Dillard's. And I bought myself the Eccos, because they had the combined effect of having a brand name that does not immediately bring to mind Grandma (e.g. Naturalizer) with the fact that they are as soft as Cupid's ass in a bushel of cotton. And, most importantly, I do not believe that it is possible that I could FALL OFF OF THEM.

However, I have been wrong before.

*The Man was, I think, actually a bit nonplussed by this particular conversation; which I believe sounded something like "I know we're out of milk, but they don't carry Horizon at Walgr-AAAAH! (rattle rattle slide)... (pause)...Uh, I'M OK!"

-----------------------------------------
I also bought these, for no good reason other than my hurt pride needed some more balm:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Qwertyuiop

I'm sorry. I am just not able to compose anything of worth these days.

I think Dad's death, though not unexpected, has hit me harder than I thought it would, and in a different way than I ever considered possible.

It's like I have a complete dearth of creativity. Like I'm just going through the motions of living my daily life without that constant, omnipresent, narrator's voice running through my brain, which has always been there, all my life. Strange, to have that silence in my head, even if it is only temporary.

I hope you will forgive my meanderings now, and for a little while longer. I fear that, if I stop writing, I will clam up altogether.

So, fair warning; this, and immediately forthcoming, writings, may seem more like typing than writing. For right now, I'll strive to keep my fingers limber, if nothing else.*

------------------------------
Among today's "Xmas 2: Electric Boogaloo" booty:

OG:

  • The Harry Potter "Monster Book of Monsters" stuffed animal thingy (are you beginning to pick up a theme, here?)
  • A Harry Potter "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good" T-shirt
  • sparkly lavender slippers (snaps to the avowedly tomboyish OG, who did not shriek and/or throw them across the room)
  • sparkly body glitter (ditto)
  • a marker and crayon easel
  • a Webkinz - white dog - for which I hope not to lose the little card, this time, because I've found that, if you do, you will NEVER access their website again
  • a gift card to McDonalds (for which I am grateful; unfortunately, she honestly doesn't like their food much. She likes the toys from the Happy Meals, but usually eats only the plain hamburger patty - no bread - and about three of the little "apple dippers," no caramel. No wonder she's so freakin' skinny.)
  • clothes (I warned them, no pink; it was realized. Forest-green, stretchy shirt - good. Beige cords - maaaybe. She's not one for a buttoned-fly anything.)

YG:
  • A Leapster (Pink!)
  • slippers (black and pink)
  • shirt (pink - but a turtleneck, which could be problematic. Sorry; I breed 'em red-headed and sensory-defensive, apparently) and jeans (with pink belt)
  • a Webkinz (pink dog)
  • the same easel as the OG
  • the same gift card to Mickey D's (she claims to like the food, but does not actually EAT any of it, beyond a few fries and a token nibble at the bun)
Me:
  • red cut-glass earrings from Ann Taylor (from The Man)
  • all the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics (also from The Man)
  • a Visa check card from Lee's aunt (yaaay!)

The Man:
  • a turntable that converts vinyl to MP3s (from me)
  • a book about country music dance halls in Texas (from his cousin)
  • a gift card to Target (yaaay! That's for me, too!)
  • giant, toeless brown Crocs "Skutes" (from the girls. He actually got those on Friday, but it seems remiss not to mention them, as they are SO PROUD to have gotten him those. The OG has been attempting to convert him to Crocs since kindergarten, and she is beside herself that he likes them.

And now, the age-old question: Where, on earth, am I going to put all of this?

---------------------------
Dang, I just heard that Dan Fogelberg died today. He was only 56.

That made me sad, actually. My formative musical teeth were cut, for better or for worse, on adult-contemporary radio. I liked the song "Leader of the Band," and "Another Auld Lang Syne" still plays in my head on New Years Eve.

Bah. Mortality sucks.



*And, I'll also strive not to take an Ambien before I post. Yesterday's post was a frickin' disaster before I edited it this morning. That crap is kind of evil...I don't think I like it. Anyone else have experience with it? Does it make you...um, STUPID? And not in a fun, "I'm buzzed," kind of way?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Holiday Haul So Far

The OG:

  • A Nintendo DS with two games: "Lego Star Wars" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix"
  • Winter Crocs (with the fuzzy lining)
  • A light-up Harry Potter wand
  • A Harry Potter Christmas ornament ("Potions Class" - it lights up)
  • A Harry Potter Calendar
  • Many packages of "Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans," "Chocolate Frogs," and "Blood Pops"
  • About a dozen books, including the Harry Potter supplementary books Quidditch Through the Ages and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, The Guinness Book, Wandology, Frindle, and The Pain and the Great One
  • A Magic 8 Ball
  • Pajamas, wool hat, mittens

The YG:
  • Her very own Pink! DVD! Player!
  • A Pink! "Giselle" doll, that - get this - her SISTER picked out for her, and bought for her. (She's from Enchanted. If you haven't seen it yet, you should. It's very good. Amy Adams is excellent, I love James Marsden A LOT, and Susan Sarandon is as awesome as ever. McDreamy's fine, too.)
  • Several books, including two storybook adaptations of Enchanted - the short version and the long version. (The Man elects to read the short version whenever asked.)
  • Pink "Dora" Crocs
  • Pink Princess pajamas
  • A warm-up suit and long-sleeved shirt (ummm....pink)
  • A Dora Mermaid (her fondest wish this holiday)
  • The Dora Mermaid baby brother and baby sister accoutrements
  • A couple packages of "Bertie Botts" (though she was not as excited by them as was her older sister. And, seriously, they're GROSS. I tried the "sausage" flavor, which was just mildly nasty, but the soap? That was just it for me.)
  • Her own Magic 8 Ball (black, not the pink one. First of all, it was kind of meant for older kids, and the responses were inappropriately "date-y" and coy. Second of all, I'd had just about enough of buying pink things, and felt that an 8 ball should be, well, BLACK.)
...and it's still 9 days still Christmas! Imagine!

That was a result of our "Christmas With the In-Laws" foray this weekend. We are all very pleased - The Man and I included; we got the Universal Christmas Gift...yay! YG particularly loves her Giselle doll, and OG hasn't put down her Nintendo yet.

Round Two; Tomorrow night, with grandma, plus all the aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Expect tales of how I had to discipline the OG after she made a face upon receiving a flowery pink dress. (I'm just guessing.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Back to Glumland

I'm back down from my Duran Duran high.

This is, quite literally, the sky, in my world.




God, Christmas this year is going to suuuucck...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

D-Squared

OK, I am very nearly too embarrassed to tell you HOW good a time I had last night.

Sigh. But I shall. Because it was oh, so lovely.

First of all, I was so delighted to go with Milena. She GETS me. I'm grateful that I can name as many people as many people as I can that DO get me; I'm rather strange, actually. But, even out of all those people, I think only she REALLY gets the Simon LeBon thing. Love that. She, like I, came with one mission: to listen, and to gaze, and to dance. (OK, three missions. And to drink some wine. But I'm diluting the point, so I shall proceed.)

We attended the show at the newly renovated Austin Music Hall. It's not done, actually; it's really still got a lot of plywood and taped drywall visible. And, surprisingly, it's not a lot bigger. They added some room on the sides of the upstairs and downstairs, and they put on a smoking balcony and some extra bars, but that's about all that I could see, other than a nifty little starfucker area right over the stage, off to the side. Milena and I briefly considered asking what it would take to sit back there, but decided against it.

Milena and I sat upstairs on the balcony to listen to the opening act, Sara Barielles, a nice young girl lead singer that sat behind a keyboard, Tori Amos-style. She was not as annoying as Tori. (Sorry, Tori fans. Don't stalk me or shred anything that belongs to me, please.)

For the SHOW show, we moseyed downstairs to push ourselves into the madding crowd. Madding it was, too; it was SOLD OUT. We were packed in like middle-aged sardines. I was thankful for the brief shower I had taken before leaving, and glad that my sense of smell is poor enough that I couldn't detect if anyone else had neglected to do so.

The crowd was great. Most were my age, or so; some older, some younger, but mostly it was us. It seemed that most women were showing off their "girls," and many were in terrifying heels. (Mil and I went for comfy and danceable.)

This time and the last time I saw Duran Duran - about a year and a half ago? - I noticed, most of all, the men in the audience. Now, I had me plenty of gay male friends that were into them, back in the day, and yes, there were plenty of life partners there last night, being very cute and latter-day preppy and all that. But, I think, perhaps cutest of all, to me, is the straight male contingent at their shows. These guys - my age - are self-conscious, a bit, at first. Then, a beer or two in, the band plays some kick-ass, danceable oldie like "Planet Earth," or "Rio," and then these big ol', teddy-bear type straight men start bopping around and singing all the words. They make me happy.

The show? Yessss, the show. Was AWESOME. Fuck, it just does not matter that I fell in love with Simon LeBon twenty-four years ago. I. STILL. LOVE. HIM. And he still looks bloody HOT in his tight black trousers. At one point, he did this little dance move with a growl combo move, and I swear to GOD, the frisson I felt might as well have been generated when I was fourteen years old. (I saw Milena whoop at that one, too. It's NOT JUST ME.)

The last show, which was at the Paramount, was a different kind of affair...it was, somehow, more tentative, like they were asking, "Do you all still love us?" and as a result, played a lot of old stuff, and just a bit of new, which was OK, but not anything compared to the oldies. This time, though, it was much more like a rock concert, like their confidence had been restored. And, I will say, the stuff off the new album - that they recorded with Justin Timberlake and Timbaland - was VERY good. Much better than anything they've released since I was in college, anyway.

After the echoes from the encore - "Girls on Film," natch - Milena and I left, glowing, and delighted with our evening. And, yes, WOCA* do not feel as good as they used to, the next morning, after they stay up too late on a school night; however, it was worth every penny, and every minute of missed sleep.

So, in three weeks, I've seen the two greatest loves of my early high school life - Sting, and Simon LeBon. (Which, of course, brings back the question that I wrestled with, back then...Sting, or Simon? But, then I always kinda hated to separate them in my fantasies, ifyaknowwhadImean. I mean, why choose just one?) Too bad I've gotten home so late from these concerts, honey; you could have taken advantage of my nostalgia.

Hey, there's always next time, though...The Cure, Austin Music Hall, June 8? Who's with me?

***UPDATE...As if I NEEDED more proof that he was my soulmate, check out these lyrics from one of their new songs, "Falling Down":

Howl at the wind rushing past my lonely head
Caught inside its own motion
How I wish it was somebody else instead

Howling at all this corrosion


God, now I REALLY wish I'd asked about the starfucker backstage area.

*Women of a Certain Age. I'm trying to popularize that, over "MILF." Who's a Woca? I'm a Woca! Wouldn't you like to be a Woca too?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Random Things I've Done This Week

...other than lie around feeling bummed and writing-blocked, which has, truly, occupied way more of the past week than I would have expected:

  • Went to see the excellent Ms. Karla May at her Mortified! show...damn, that was a good time. I never knew how much fun it could be to hear others reading from their high school diaries, bad poetry, et al. KM, the whole Huey Lewis tribute book was sick, yo. (The best kind of sick...sick like ME.) It made me almost wish that I'd saved all my high school diaries, and not threw them away, ensuring that they were buried in banana peels and coffee grounds, at the bottom of the trash can, on trash day, when I was about 17.
  • Slashed a 3/4-inch long cut into my left thumb...with a BUTTER knife. I was trying to pry the lid of a jar open. Afterwards, The Man helpfully pointed out that the lid was a twist-off. Dick. Where was he when I needed him?
  • Went to see Christmas fireworks (!) at the lake with Bill and Julie, on a beautiful, 80-degree Austin December evening on Saturday.
  • Ordered obligatory tacky Mom-photo-Christmas cards online.
  • Went shopping for an entertainment center, that could - THEORETICALLY - SOMEDAY - hold a big-screen TV. (We're considering joining the middle class.) Maybe this one - which is cheaper - or maybe this one, which is expensive, but a very nice piece of real-wood furniture. Just not sure.
  • Cleaned out terrifyingly messy cutlery drawers after an incident - involving the OG, an inconveniently located can of black beans, and a smashed bottle of Cholula hot sauce - that is best not fully explored here.
  • Froze my ass off in horrible, gray, crappy, Austin December rainy-and-47-degree weather today.
  • Wondered what I'm going to wear to see Duran Duran tomorrow night. Because I like to look good for my man when he comes to town.
  • Nearly finished my Christmas shopping, or what will have to pass for it this year.
  • Talked to my mother on the phone approximately six hundred times. She's doing OK, but God, she's trapped in a friggin' ice storm right now, if that weren't the cherry on the cake of her week.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

I still got nothin.

I will do my best to post substantively tomorrow.

Still pretty blah. Wondering about the "Dead Parent Club," of which Michelle spoke the other night. Pretty crappy club, if you ask me.

In the meantime, you get some more videos from the Harry Potter Puppet Pals:





Why? Because you NEEDED them.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Bright, Sunshiney Day

It's hard to stay downhearted when it's 80 degrees and sunny in December.

But I somehow managed it.

Man, I'm just kicked to the curb.

Work got backed up, of course, while I was gone (seriously, it was only THREE DAYS, people). My body feels fat and bloated from all of that rich food we ate up there. I've done a fairly good job of getting back to Egg Beaters and chicken breasts - free and yummy trip to The Melting Pot last night notwithstanding - but finding time to really exercise has become challenging.

And the creative juices? They are not flowing. Rather, they are stagnating and fermenting, like my sour, bloaty stomach.

I think I'll just stop now. You're welcome.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Back

I'm back in Austin; it's all over.

Man. I want so much to write about everything, but I'm just sort of blown out. I'll give it a shot, but it's entirely possible that I may have to abort this attempt.

First of all, the support of our friends and family was nothing short of astounding. I have never seen so many people send flowers, or call, or stop by with food, ever, in my life. (I have never seen THAT MUCH FOOD in my life. Do your families eat like there is no fucking tomorrow when there's a death, or is it just mine?) The house was positively drenched with the smell of flowers. People came from so far away...seriously, mind-bogglingly far, to be with us. Me, even. We, I, are deeply humbled, and so grateful, to receive that kind of support.

The planning of the funeral was the part that I dreaded, but even that turned out to be OK. We, not being church-goers, only met the minister that would be performing the service the night before. We requested a nice, simple Methodist, and one was delivered, on time, at 7:30 on Sunday night. He arrived, and - lo and behold, there stood before us a jovial, heavy-set, red-headed older man, from northwest Missouri...wearing a BLACK AND GOLD STRIPED TIE. As the evening progressed, and we told all of our stories, it was revealed that this minister - a Morel-mushroom hunting, fishing, and Missouri Tiger fanatic - was actually my father's soulmate. (Albeit being much more, well, peaceful and ministerial and all that.) He ended up staying a bit late because his wife was a little long in finding our house, and thus my mother had time to show him ALL of her MU memorabilia. We were all absolutely delighted with each other. It was precious.

The one thing we asked was that Dad would not have been into scripture-reading or hymn-singing, and that we would rather have the minister tell stories about him. So, my sister, brother, and I each wrote out our favorite memories...and the minister read ALL of them. It was really very moving, and exactly what he would have wanted.

Then, the minister ends his sermon, and says something along the lines of this: "I'm not supposed to tell anyone during my services that I didn't know the deceased. I'm breaking a big rule here. But, I must tell you, that perhaps more than any other time I've done this, I feel like I know Richard, just from the evening I spent at his house, with his family, last night." And then he passed out a copy, to the family, of this cartoon, in which a man, entering heaven, sees a field of morel mushrooms, and says "It's just like I always dreamed."

Dad? Not much for the ceremonies...but he would have LOVED it.

I'm glad I'm home. I feel like someone's been hitting me with sticks for five days. (The OG and the YG were great at the funeral, by the way, open casket and all. OG probably had like ten cookies later, I was feeling so generous to her.) I'm glad that I got to see my nephews, whom I adore deeply and never get to see. I'm glad that my mom is holding it together, even though she wasn't ready to see him go. And, I'm glad that he left, the way he wanted to, at home, and I'm sure to the absolute core of my being that he was ready.

There are other memories, of course, besides the good ones. But, those are for later.

For the record, this is what I wrote for the funeral:

My favorite memory of Dad was of him taking me to the Olde Firehouse, by ourselves, when Mom was at NEA meetings. (This was after John and Sharon had left for college, and it was just the two of us for dinner on quite a few nights.) He loved the Mexican food at the Olde Firehouse, and I did, too. He ate the hot salsa, and mine was the mild. (He would be proud to know that mine is the hot salsa now. I've clearly inherited his love of hot and spicy food.)

My friends asked me to remind everyone about the breakfasts he would cook for them when they stayed over at my house. Whenever we rolled out of bed - no matter the hour - Dad would have coffee made, and a table full of bacon, eggs, and toast with jelly, all hot, and piled high. He was a very gracious host to me and my friends when we came; nobody ever left here feeling like anything but family.

Dad initially thought that I would be a good fisherman...as, at the beginning of his "training," I was! However, I lost my taste for it early on, after I realized that I was killing the fish. My anti-fishing strike began at about age 9, and I've never picked up a rod since then. In my newly-activist desire to save all of the little fishies, I had a secret, pre-PETA-inspired quest that did NOT please my father, and that was to set free all of his minnows from his bait buckets in the lake. When he wasn't looking, I would sneak down to the docks, and "accidentally" spring the latch on the buckets. (He knew.) And, though I did really feel for the poor minnows, the final straw came the day that he brought home a bait bucket full of crawdads. Now, I LOVED crawdads, as I caught the ones that lived near our docks, and fed them shrimp and bread, on a nearly daily basis. Dad let it be known in no uncertain terms that these were bait, and were not to be touched. He went to bed, and I sat there with Sharon, who was babysitting me, watching TV that night, completely unable to think of anything except the crawdads. Sharon, finally tired of my sniffling, looked at me and said, "Do what you think is right." I thought about it for a second, and then walked down to the dock, in the dark, and let loose the crawdads. The next morning, I did not say a word about it...and Dad, who must have figured it out the next day, never mentioned it, either.

One of my earliest memories of Dad was shopping for his birthday - or Father's Day, can't remember which - present at Dolgin's with my mother. I was probably about three years old. I insisted that he would want, above all else, a Fisher-Price Little People Doll House. And so, that is what my mother got him. He graciously thanked me, and told me that I could play with it anytime I wanted. Another early memory is when I filled out the order form for the $30 Disney book that I wanted, and took it to the mailbox and mailed it, all by myself, at age four. He could have been livid - that was a lot of money for a book, at that time - but he thought it was so cute, that he let me keep the book. To this day, I still have that book.

Thanks again, everyone. I'm going to go melt into jelly now.

---------------------------------
Just so you don't go to bed all bummed out, though, here is a little nugget of joy for you. (It's five minutes long, but it's a giggle, especially to any Harry Potter fan:)



"Leprechaun taint." Hah!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Thanks

Thanks for all of your kind words regarding my dad's passing. It was a bit harried for a little while getting plane tickets and getting out the door yesterday morning, but we all arrived in Kansas City yesterday evening with no complications.

Because the funeral home wouldn't confirm with my mother exactly when the funeral would be, I planned a fairly wide window that I would be up here - from yesterday until Tuesday. And, it looks like it was a good thing that I did, as it won't be held until Monday morning. (That was kind of a hassle...they knew all along that they were having some sort of event all day Saturday, which was when my mom wanted to have it, but they wouldn't TELL her that until yesterday afternoon. The kids could have stayed in school another day, you know?)

I've now heard the whole story of how Dad died. He started getting sick Wednesday morning, and - being my father - refused to go to the hospital that morning, and again that afternoon, and again that evening. When his breathing got very bad, Mom called the ambulance, but they couldn't bring him back.

I believe that this is what he wanted, and that he was wholly ready to go. It's never pleasant, of course, but he died here at home, not at the hospital, which was his desire.

Everything is calm up here now; there's just the comings and goings of people with casseroles and such. My brother arrived from Boston last night, and of course my poor sister - who was here at the house for the whole horrible thing - is also here, although she's taking a well-deserved rest today. The girls are eagerly awaiting the arrival of their cousins, my brother's boys, who will arrive tonight. (Their response to all this is rather clinical and curious, and not particularly emotional. I suppose that's normal for their age.) The adults are going through papers, and calling insurance and social security peoples and the like.

So, it looks like we'll just be talking and gathering and eating for the weekend. There's a brisket, and baked beans, and a whole lot of cookies...and Lee, being Lee, stocked us with a fridge full of Boulevard Nutcracker Ale. Erin and Trish will be coming -which was VERY nice and totally unexpected - and have offered to come to rub my shoulders and raise a glass with us.

The festive aspect of funerals always interests me. I've never been to a family funeral that didn't also involve a lot of joy in the reuniting.

And, I know that my Dad - the bringer of the enormous breakfasts - would not have had it any other way.

-----------------------------
Postscript: And yes, my mother did exclaim, "Oh, what a shame you'll have to miss the football game!"

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sad news

My dad died.

I'm assuming I'll be out of pocket for a while, though I may visit here briefly as needed for sanity's sake.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

300

Happy 300th post! Shall we celebrate?

Actually, erm, hold that thought. My belly is plumb celebrated out. This week shall be one of Egg Beaters, sliced turkey breast, and steamed vegetables. NO. MORE. CHEESE. (Or delightfully fattening cheese sticks, though the leftovers are singing their siren song to me, even now.) Alcohol shall be eschewed in favor of nice digestive teas. (Until next Saturday, and the Big XII Championship Game, beeyotches!)

But I'll not tire you with more football and/or Midwestern history lessons tonight. Tonight is the night on Mags when we chill and watch The Simpsons on the TiFaux.

Hope you have all recovered. In the words of the OG tonight, "Whew, I'm glad THAT vacation's over!"

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Mizzou Wins!


36-28.

Damn, that was a hard-fought victory.

A belated congratulations for a great season to the KU Jayhawks. Though it's hard to believe - given my previous post - were it any other year, I would be right there with y'all. I'd so much rather see someone like KU in a championship game than someone like Oklahoma or Texas, who have seen more than their share of title games. (No offense, honey. Hook 'em, mean it!)

And, in my regrets for my pre- and during-game anxiety, I am very sorry for calling KU Coach Mark Mangino "Mark ManGINA." That was not called for. (However, it was a tincy bit funny. Might have been the wine.)

For this night only, and in tribute...Rock Chalk, Jayhawk. See you, and your badass quarterback, next year.

Now...The Man has gotten us tickets for the Big 12 Championship Game against Oklahoma next weekend in San Antonio. Wonder what we're doing with our kids?

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Story of a Rivalry


I grew up on the outskirts of Kansas City, MO, about five miles from the Kansas/Missouri border; less than that as the crow flies, or if you'd wanted to swim across the (huge and log-swollen) Kansas River.

It seems, perhaps, to an outlander, a strange point of pride, to claim oneself a "Missourian" over a "Kansan," particularly when we share a major city, split nearly halfway down the middle. And, lets face it: to anyone else in the country, this is Flyover Land, our big hair and un-Yoga'd, barbecue-fed keisters indistinguishable from those of twenty other states.

But, to a Missourian and a Kansan, you are One. Or. The. Other. Period. And if you are The Other, this could, very well, be a problem.

Again, to an outsider, this would perhaps be linked to the great sports rivalry between our two major state universities, the University of Missouri and the University of Kansas (MU and KU, respectively. No, I don't know why it's not U of M and U of K. It just isn't.) They wouldn't be wrong; this is a very huge and storied rivalry, and the oldest west of the Mississippi. They've been keeping stats on MU vs. KU for over a hundred years now...and we can't even agree on THOSE.

But, the history behind this conflict is actually much deeper than similar rivalries, such as UT vs. Oklahoma, or UT vs. Texas A&M. Those, to my eyes, mostly appear to stem from long exposure to each other's teams in the same conferences, and yes, proximity of two major universities that are packed to the gills with drunk-ass testosterone-fueled college students.

No, the MU/KU divide, like the Missouri/Kansas divide, was birthed in the good old days of slavery, and those heady pre-Civil War days of border raids, murder of innocents, and burning of villages to the ground. (I'm going to apologize in advance to my History Major Friends - and you know who you are - for putting forth what is a total simplification of the facts. The lateness of the hour, and the limits of my patience, forbid me from telling the whole story. But I'll try to sum it up as best I can. If I get anything very very wrong, tell me, and I'll amend it.)

Kansas was admitted to the union under a clause in which the residents were to elect whether they were going to allow slavery or not. It was assumed that Kansas would become a slave state, but an enormous amount of violence erupted as a result. (This became known in the popular parlance as "Bleeding Kansas.") It seems that many Kansans - who will forever hold the moral high ground, and I'll swear to that - were pro-Union abolitionists ("Jayhawkers," in the common parlance,) particularly over in Lawrence, the neighboring village to Kansas. Fiery old John Brown was a Kansan, and the gun he was raising over his head in most of his iconography was mostly aimed towards the immediate east.

My state, I'm sad to say, was a slave state, and while not secessionists per se, we were clearly horribly, morally, in the wrong. Due to the passions and the horrifying conflict of the years leading up to the Civil War, skirmishes erupted on both sides of the borders, stemming from both sides. In many ways, these skirmishes - portrayed in the very good Ang Lee movie Ride With the Devil, if you are so interested - were the kindling to the beginning of the Civil War.

During the Civil War, the Union army conducted a few atrocities, including imprisoning (and executing) women and children who were accused of aiding and abetting the guerillas. The land of these women was also seized and given to pro-Union sympathizers. The Union attacked Osceola, MO, and nine men were given a quickie "trial" and executed in short order.

As a response to these events, a man named William Quantrill led a guerilla raid into Lawrence, in which he and his men burned the town of Lawrence to the ground, and systematically executed all of the males in the town, including young boys. When the day was over, 187 were dead, and nearly every building burned.

Needless to say, the repercussions on my state, when the Union came in to put the smackdown on these folks, were severe. The Union essentially evicted EVERYONE in four counties on the Missouri side of the border from their land - including my mother's ancestors, as a side note - and burned everything to the ground. Quantrill died, and the guerillas petered out after the end of the Civil War, leaving only a few disgruntled folks on the Missouri side whose mamas had lost their land; notably, Frank and Jesse James, two of my other, erm, famous hometown boys.

(Whew. You still with me? Good. If you're bored with this, scroll down. There's a hot picture of Sting on my last post.)

So, fast-forward to the present day. I am a fourth-generation Missouri Tiger. Plenty of my high school friends went to KU, and that was typical, as it was actually closer to my house than MU was. However, in my family, going to KU would have been, shall we say, FROWNED UPON. (Unless I was going to be a doctor, and in that case, it would have been grudgingly approved, as long as I swore never, ever to root for their sports teams.)

The MU-KU game is legendary, in our schools...but, at least in football, honestly, it rarely, if ever, means anything to anyone else but us. Quite frankly, our football teams have historically, well, SUCKED. We are usually lucky to make it into some lame-assed bowl - my favorite being the "Insight.com Bowl" one year - which is why, typically, we have MORE fun during the MU-KU game than any silliness that goes on in the post-season.

UNTIL. THIS. YEAR.

Missouri is number THREE. KU is number TWO. IN THE NATION.

And THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE NATION - LSU, my mother-in-law's beloved alma mater - JUST LOST.

The winner of this game - it's tomorrow night - goes to the Big 12 Championship, and, if they win that one...they go to the National Fucking Championship Game.

This is it, it's for all the marbles. This will NEVER happen again. The winner of this game will have bragging rights for thirty years. And the loser will hang their head in shame.

Oh, my God. I am just about to burst out of my freaking skin in anticipation.

And, now, you know the vicious backstory. I hope you watch the game, and enjoy it, if you're into that sort of thing. Really, I wouldn't blame you for choosing John Brown's side over Quantrill's, but I promise you, the pro-vs-anti-slavery issue isn't a thing anymore. (If anything, you can think of Kansas's new infamy, and root against them as the "Anti-Evolutionist State.")

Go Tigers.

-----------------------------------------
On a related note, here's some of the (admittedly tacky on our part) t-shirts that have been spotted on the MU-KU fans of late:


...on the back of which reads "Missouri 187; Kansas 0."


...on the back of which reads "Suck it, Slaver!"

Now, do you see? DO YOU SEE?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Police: A Recap


(And why? At $90 a ticket...$110 with parking and service charge...I really feel that I have no choice. It's my Big Social Event of the season, by default.)

I am still basking in the joy of last night, my first Police concert since the Synchronicity Tour in 1983. (November 24, 1983, according to Wikipedia. Nearly 24 years to the day. Damn.) My face literally hurts from the huge grin I had plastered on my face all night long.

The evening started off with a rush-hour, pre-holiday-weekend, thankless drive to San Antonio. (Huge thanks to BobNoxious, our mostly cheerful driver, even after the end of the first hour, when we were still in South Austin. Cristen and I were free to get our pre-concert beer on, and to debate the relative merits of Regatta de Blanc and Outlandos d' Amour as they were played over the car stereo.)

The AT&T Center in San Antonio was a fairly standard stadium venue; but, lord, how long has it been since I attended a "stadium concert?" I think, maybe U2 back in the early 90's? I went with an old boyfriend to see James Brown at the Erwin Center, but it was really a fairly small show...not sure if that counts. Anyway, it was big, but the crowd last night was only about 11,000. That seemed strange...I think Houston sold out in like minutes.

Our seats were a little crappy, but not horrible. None of the three of us were willing to pay $200 for floor seats, but we did get first balcony...however, the stadium itself was oddly rectangular, and we were sitting in what was essentially the opposite corner from the stage, so that if we looked straight ahead, we would just be looking at the seats on the other side of the stadium. Our seats were exactly the ones that formed the right-hand turn of the corner - what is inappropriately named the "Super Box" - so the whole section was sort of crammed together and craning our heads to the right. But, the good news is, that two ginormous Bud Lights in plastic stadium cups later, there was little to no discomfort noted.

Sting's son Joe Sumner opened the show with his band, Fiction Plane. Now, I usually eschew all opening bands, but I liked them. Honestly, when we walked in, and they were already playing, I was afraid that we were late...Joe sounds JUST like his dad! (Can't believe he's 30...shit.) I'm considering getting their album, or at least a few songs off of iTunes.

Man, though, good as the opening act was, the electricity that coursed through that place when these three - OLD - guys took the stage was freakin' amazing. (Eat your heart out, Hannah Montana.) From the opening moments - Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up" - we were on our feet, and remained there for almost the entire show.

Thanks to the lovely interweb, the set list from last night was posted somewhere almost immediately. Perhaps the thing to do is just amend that list with my observations? (Note: Every song not annotated should include the default statement "I was totally blissed out when they played THAT one.")

1. Message in a Bottle
They take the stage. Sting is in a clingy forest-green t-shirt. Fucking SHIT, he is still AMAZING LOOKING. Seriously! Look at those arms! And six-pack abs! Cristen and I, goggle-eyed, confirm that we know no twenty-year-olds with a body like that. Damn, this song is still really good, too. We dance in our confined seats.

You would think that his sexiness would have declined in 24 years. You would think that he'd not look as good, or that age would have tempered his insane hotness.

But you'd be wrong.

2. Synchronicity II
My favorite Police song. It has the good rock-and-roll thrash that I missed in all the several subsequent Sting solo concerts that I've attended, which all seemed to be jazzy and mellow. They sound great. Super tight. I can't believe it's only the three of them, making that wall of sound.

3. Walking On The Moon
Stewart Copeland has also aged really well. Same floppy hair; just a bit grayer. I'd take Stewart, too, probably any day...but, poor guy, it's like standing near the sun. Andy Summers looks like a small, aged hobbit.

4. Voices Inside My Head
Elfin or not, Andy is still an OUTSTANDING guitar player. Wow, they are the ultimate rock stars. I can't believe they ever hated each other.

5. When The World Is Running Down
Cool! The really old stuff! This song is one of their best ever. Cristen and I are seriously getting on our white-girl 80's bop dance. Bob is amused. At one point, the phrase, "Good CHRIST, I love him!" is shrieked. Might have been me.

6. Don't Stand So Close To Me
He says, "Before I got this job, I used to be a teacher." Cristen and I decide that we'd have mixed emotions if he were our daughter's teacher. She decides that she'd need a conference.

7. Driven To Tears
Nice one. A closeup on the big screen of Andy's guitar reveals that his hands are actually carved from wizened pieces of driftwood. But they are still smoking on that thing.

8. Truth Hits Everybody
We don't know this one, but it is very rocking. We enjoy.

9. Hole In My Life
Man, they are totally hitting the back catalog! Approximately 100 of us in the crowd know this song and are dancing. Why isn't this concert in Austin? I bet every person at a Police concert in Austin would know every word to every song, and would be at completely rapt attention.

10. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
They take this one slower than they should. It's a jubilant song, and they play it jazzy and a bit slowed-down. I consider peeing. It's getting slightly urgent. But...no. Not just yet.

11. Wrapped Around Your Finger
Do you remember all those candles in the video? And seeing that video 10,ooo million times? I do. Bob points out that, in our post-cigarette smoking times, nobody holds up lighters anymore. We all decide that holding up cell phones is extremely queer.

12. De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
We all agree that this is a dumb song. But, by this point, Cristen and I have decided that we'd pay $90 a ticket to hear him read the phone book. We sing "AAA Automotive...ABC Plumbing..." along with the song.

13. Invisible Sun
Cool. A dark one. Somehow, though, the crowd is getting more amped up, now. Good, about damn time.

14. Walking In Your Footsteps
Much call and response. I still have to pee. But not yet.

15. Can't Stand Losing You
AIEEE! I can't believe they're playing this one! Total back catalog. They're bound and determined to rock out tonight.

16. Roxanne
First encore. Completely expected. But, no denying the thrill of seeing the red lights come on the big screen.

17. King Of Pain
This is the big crowd pleaser? Everyone is finally singing in unison. Don't get me wrong; it's a fantastic song...it's just kind of, well, an obsessive bummer. But, hey, you gotta go with it. Yes, Sting, that's my soul up there.

18. So Lonely
Yeah. Blistering reggae backbeat. My head is about to bop off my shoulders. My love, you can't hit ALL the high notes anymore, but what you can still do with your voice is fairly startling.

19. Every Breath You Take

Of course. Bob, Cristen, and I remember them playing this song about three times per hour on MTV and on nearly every radio station for like 10 weeks straight. Thus, it's our collective least-favorite song...but, upon a good, hard, re-listen, it really is great...it's dark, obsessive, and freaky, and not anything like a love song, actually. I would have ended with "Synchronicity 2" - something a little more rockin' out - but, it's still a great finale.

By the time I finally peed, I was about one nanosecond away from deep embarrassment. Thankfully, I made it out sans accident. Bob drove us home, to The Man, who had valiantly volunteered to watch all four (!) children, all by himself.

Sadly, this was not the evening that Sting chose me from the crowd; the night that he had but to point at me and crook his finger, and I would forget my previous life and be his forever. Next time, then? Call me!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

OmiGodOmiGodOmiGOD!!!


Sigh!

It was AWESOME.

But, it's late. I'll tell you about it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Your Annual Dose of Gerard Manley Hopkins

I'm 38 years old today.

Take your English Major medicine.

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie.
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

----"Spring and Fall to a Young Child;" G.M.H.

--------------------------------------------
A recap of the childless birthday weekend:

Friday night: Eight of us went to dinner at Bellagio, a fairly spendy Italian restaurant in North Austin that Lee took me to a long time ago. I wanted Italian, I remembered it was good, so we went there.

The evening was...well, quite frankly, kind of bizarre. Our waiter was very good, but just this side of creepy. He served and advised well, but...he was very chummy by the end of the evening. Kind of cracking wise with us, but in a very superior kind of fashion. And though he started the evening with a pronounced speech impairment, it had completely disappeared by the end of the evening (admittedly some hours later).

And the food was really unremarkable, for the most part. Some things were definitely off. The tomato salad was mealy, and I sent it back, and my filet was cold, and I sent it back. (I ended up waiting like 15 minutes for the filet, and when it returned, it was pretty much after everyone else had finished.) Admittedly, the filet, when it returned, was fantastic, but neither of these things were removed from the menu, and they should have been.

The upside to the evening was that our waiter, odd and chummy man that he was, kept the wine glasses full all evening in such a stealthy fashion that my wine glass was never actually empty. Which made me, um, lose track of exactly how much wine I had drunk. Which turned out to be a lot, actually. (It was this kind of evening: Eric, at one point, just stopped talking and said to the group, "You know how I know [Mags] has had too much to drink? When she starts gesturing VERY BROADLY." (I was all, no WAY. I don't ever gesture broadly. Or with my hair. )

After dinner, Bob, Cristen, and Julie went with us to Opal Devine's, where I had two martinis, which was a GREAT idea. I am not sure how I escaped vomiting, but I did; I cruised on the 'not quite so drunk as to hurl' margin for the entire night, and fell asleep around 1:00 AM.

Saturday: The morning was spent tending to the care and feeding of my brand new baby hangover:

  • sleeping in as late as possible (in my case, that's 5:30, but, oh well;)
  • lots and lots of hot coffee
  • a hot Mexican breakfast including eggs scrambled with serranos and machacado, refried beans with lard, rice, tortillas, and fresh salsa, from my new favorite eastside Mexican restaurant, "Juan in a Million"
  • Migraine formula Tylenol (with caffeine!)
  • Fizzy water
  • bready things eaten approximately hourly throughout the day

I watched college football that morning...Missouri beat K-State, and are on their way to meeting the Jayhawks in Kansas City next Saturday. Fucking A. More on that later. I am unduly excited over this stupid fucking football game.

Sadly, due to the combination of my late evening the night before and the lengthy football game, my yearly Movie Day did not yield a vast amount of movies this time. Whereas we used to do five movies in a day, we only did two this time. I saw Michael Clayton and Superbad. I enjoyed them both very much. Because this seems apropos as per lately, here are my Four Word Film Reviews:

Michael Clayton: Clooney owns smart thriller.
Superbad: Crassness aplenty; sweet heart.

Sunday: The Man picked up the children from the in-laws. It sounds as though it went as well as it usually does. Sigh. OG is still hard for them, I guess. I had thought it would go better this time, but apparently not.

I spent the better part of the day grocery shopping, preparing for a lovely gathering over here tonight to celebrate a combination of my birthday and our friends Bill and Carla coming in from Portland. It was fairly small in scope, but we did drain the better part of a keg of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, so I do believe that some fun was had. (I didn't get drunk this time. Still not completely removed from the hangover.)

We had a nice time. It was a positive-feeling group, and I enjoyed hanging out with most of my dearest Austin friends. It was a nice evening, too; upper sixties/low seventies, moon out; clear and warm. It was good to be outside with my friends and kiddos.

----------------------------------------------
So, in a nutshell, there are way worse ways to usher in the next year of my life. Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts and your hey-there's, your gifts, and your company.

Happy birthday to me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Some people will call it a one-night stand...

...but we can call it paradise.

Guess what band I'm going to go see in December...not three weeks after I see the Police in San Antonio...?

No, you have to guess...come on...

You give up? Well, flip on the YouTube and embrace the dream, my loves:



The Divine Ms. Milena thought of me this morning and got me a ticket. For this, I am truly grateful, and I am in rapt anticipation of seeing them again. Plus, I'll get to spend another delightful evening with Milena, a lovely woman who is simultaneously a great mom and a fabulously good time at parties...AND who shares my joy and obsession for all things D-squared.

(But, seriously, M? Love ya and all, but hands off my Simon or I WILL CUT YOU.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

At the age of 37...

My once-again rapidly approaching birthday brings to mind a small confession that I've been meaning to share for some time, and it is thus:

I never, ever used to use those fantastic-smelling lotions that my friends got me for birthdays and holidays.

Oh, sure, I liked the way they smelled. I've always been a big fan of the Aveda-slash-Body Shop-slash white musk lemon verbena mandarin lime what have you sorts of stuff. I would sometimes remember to swipe some around on my body when I was, like, going out on a hot date, that sort of thing.

But, moisturizer-free, my skin has historically tended to be really soft, and one of the few joys of being zaftig is that a certain level of plumposity in one's face tends to fill in wrinkles fairly well. So, all these years have gone by, and I've never really paid THAT much attention to my skin, other than to pluck random Gramma hairs and to tend to the odd zit. So, the lotions mostly just sat around in my bathroom cabinets, growing old, until I would realize that - hey! I've had this bottle of hand lotion for ten years now! - and, with the shades of my mother permeating my being, I would, shuddering, pitch the stuff.

Last year, however, Trish got me, for my birthday, a nice little sampler of Burt's Bees moisturizers. They're not the usual yellow label stuff, though; these are in purple boxes, and they have a nicely-preserved, Tilda Swinton-looking Woman of a Certain Age on the front.

Is it now, said I? Has it come to this? Have I been creased by time? As I peered into the mirror as unflinchingly as possible, it occurred to me: Yes, there are some lines there. And, erm, some of them are, as it turns out, kind of...deep, actually.

I, suddenly, knew that I had really, really been kidding myself for Quite Some Time. The forehead? It looked like Edward Scissorhands had gotten to it. And the two frikkin' horizontal lines between my eyebrows might as well be a tattoo. And...when I pushed up the skin around my eyes? It stayed up, for just a nanosecond, like it was made of crepe paper.

That night, I began to moisturize in earnest. And it's been all downhill from there. I swear, since my birthday last year, I have become a total Unguent Ho. If it's greasy and expensive, I will slather it onto my face and hands and neck with no questions asked. It could be made of thousands of baby kitten toes, and I would not care, if it made any difference whatsoever in this sudden desert that is my complexion.

So, my friends? I promise not to let any more fancy creams, lotions, or oils go to waste. If you've tried them, and they smell good and/or promise to erase ten years with every application, I will accept them gladly. And I'll wear them to bed, EVEN THOUGH it makes me feel about as sexy as Ethel Mertz from I Love Lucy. (Sorry, honey.)
-------------------------------------------
Five days 'til 38...and I'm clearly in my annual pre-birthday funk.

I'm terribly sorry to inform you that history suggests that this will not ebb until I'm nursing my post-birthday hangover. So, expect some droning, mewling, pissing/moaning, etc., to be spewed forth for at least the next few days.

In the interim, here is Marianne Faithfull, singing the Anthem O'The Soccer Moms. Enjoy.



(And, I also found this, which made me totally miss Absolutely Fabulous!)


--------------------------
Four-Word Film Review of Bee Movie (which I took the chillen to Sunday):
Movie? O.K. Seinfeld? OVEREXPOSED!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Worn Down to Nubsies

I typed SO MANY WORDS TODAY that my fingers feel like they are falling off of my hands.

My shoulders ache from eight hours completely hunched over my computer, and my forearms and wrists are singing from the prolonged use of the laptop instead of the desktop.

I know; it's been a few days....and I FINALLY have the time tonight to sit down and gather my thoughts. (And there are so many! The Man's consulting a urologist to consider the snippage! Holiday-Anticipating Fun-n-Hijinx! Six days and counting until my dreaded, fucking, 38th birthday!) However, I just don't think I have it in me tonight.

I b'lieve I'll fix myself a nice cuppa, and watch me some Heroes instead. Maybe a TiFauxed 30 Rock or two.
________________________________
Four-Word Film Review of Pink Flamingoes: "Do my balls, Mama!"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Life's Little Victories, Part II

No, not NaBloPoMo. I didn't post yesterday. I told you I couldn't do it every day for a month. Some evenings are meant for clearing out the DVR and watching several back-to-back episodes of The Office.

(And Pushing Daisies. I resisted it for a while - it looked a bit too cutesy, like when Northern Exposure went off the rails - but it won me over when Kristen Chenoweth and Ellen Greene started singing "Birdhouse In Your Soul" - which is probably tied with "Under Pressure" as the best song OF ALL TIME - in the back of the sisters' car...which is of course being driven by the OTHER driver, who is frickin' cool-as-hell Swoosie Kurtz. Hell, I guess, since the damn show is apparently WRITTEN for me, that I need to start watching it.)

No, my victory today was thus:

I had a sort-of-crappy at work. I forgot a meeting; no excuses, nobody's fault except my own, I just forgot to check the calendar. I got caught up with something, and just fucking spaced it. (And I just love when I look all competent like that, in front of like seven people. It's great.) Everyone was nice about it, but still. Dumbass.

After that, I went to pick up the OG at school. Now, she and I are still doing really awesomely, but the OG is not one for the effusive displays of affection, even on the best of days. I mean, she cuddles up with me and tells me that she loves me every night, but it's at home, in secret, and absolutely NEVER within earshot of any child that is anywhere near her age.

The other day, OG came home with a piece of work that she had completed with her new, 5th grade "buddy." They had been getting to know each other, and were instructed to complete Venn diagrams to define their similarities and differences, and where they met in the middle. OG's Venn diagram wasn't too detailed; from what I could tell, they both had short hair and went to the same school, but that was about all.

Today, I noticed that the 5th grade teacher had posted up her class's Venn Diagrams, which were of course more thorough and detailed. Right on top was the OG's buddy's diagram. In the middle, where they had to write where they and their second-grade buddies, she had written "Both our moms are the people we most respect, and they're also our role models."

Awwwwww! I chased her around the playground, threatening to give her a big ol' kiss on the face - in front of everyone - for that.

-----------------------------------

Four-Word Film Review of Little Shop of Horrors: Feed me! FEEEEEEEED ME!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Badly Mixing Song Metaphors

Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon....

Another gay-baiting, hypocrite, criminal, Republican goes down. (And not in the sense that we're getting used to these days.) That Kentucky governor lost the election.

And another one's gone, and another one's gone...another one...well, you know.

____________________________

Four-Word Film Review of Blue Velvet:

It's Daddy, you shithead!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Kenfucky

Hmmmm... so, you're telling me that, the Kentucky GOP is...let me see, foundering in the gubernatorial election, which is tomorrow, so they - THEY - decide that, it would be an EXCELLENT idea to insinuate that the Democratic candidate is...say it with me now, children: GAY.

Must be Tuesday.

But, that's not all...get this: They even have a RoboCall going out tonight from none other than Pat Boone, who asks if Kentuckians want a governor who wants Kentucky to be "another San Francisco." (Because that would clearly be a bad idea.)

Pat Boone! Damn, now there's some relevance for ya!

I feel very like sending out this link to all the people that received that call and are seriously considering listening to Mister Christian tell them how to vote. (Serious Caveat: That link is Not Safe For Work, and will burn out your retinas. You have been warned.)

---------------------------------------

Four Word Film Review of The Princess Bride:

Have fun stormin' dacastle!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Louisa Mags Alcott

OK, I am reasonably sure that this is, perhaps, a strange question, for those of you with children:

When you're doing the "fever" thing - the really good one, the past 104-degree one - the up-past-midnight, mopping of the overheated brow with the cold compresses, the checking the temperature every ten minutes, the exchanging furrowed-brow looks with the spouse...that one?

When you're doing that, do you flash on "Little Women," and imagine that you are Jo, bustling around and worrying, with your sisters and Marmee, working slavishly to help Beth's fever break?

Or is that just me?

-----------------------------------

Four-Word Film Review of the training video I am supposed to finish watching before work tomorrow:

My eyes...so heavy....

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Today

My Saturday was spent hanging out on the couch, with the feverish OG, for most of the day.

(The Man and the YG went to Wurstfest, but the OG was still too sick to attend. So, we stayed home.)

We read several - correction; MANY - chapters of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, watched football, played some computer chess and some "Line Rider," watched some movies, periodically took temperatures, and giggled about names we generated on the Captain Underpants "Professor Poopypants Name Generator."

In short? Today, I did not exercise; I did not go to "Wurstfest," I did not attend the school carnival, and I did not attend the last soccer game of the season, or the corresponding soccer party. I sat, on my largish ass, on the couch, pressed up against my (very warm) daughter, for the entire day.

And?

We had the BEST TIME. EVER.

Did I mention that I'm totally IN LOVE with her? Because I am. Sick or not. (Dorky Chickensprinkles is our favorite Professor Poopypants name. Haw!)

----------------------------------------
OK, I'm now going to write about Missouri Tigers football.

(Insert: A quick survey of those of you that I know of that customarily read this blog, that are interested in football at all:

You? No.

The rest of you, individually....? No...no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, sort of, no, no, no, not by a long shot, no, no, fuck no, and NO.)

You all? The ones that I surveyed? You can stop reading now.

Because the MU Tigers just STOMPED THE FUCKING SHIT out of Colorado. And it was damn near sexual in execution. (For me.)

Pretty fun stuff. Those who never dreamed that an MU - Kansas game would command national attention? Those guys? Are dying a little bit inside.

I can't WAIT to kick the crap out of Kansas. Yes., evolutionary stance included. Your backwards-thinking asses are GOING DOWN.

--------------------------
Four-Word Film Review of Young Frankenstein:

Madeline Kahn IS GOD.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Four Word Film Review of "Reno 911! Miami"

The show! With boobs!

-----------------------
The OG is OK, BTW. She's still sick, but it's nothing funky; just a virus that makes her hive out. I'm a little disgruntled that our Wurstfest! plans are possibly - I hate to use the word "likely" - not going to work out.

Hey, it's probably for the best. I didn't even WANT to go.

Drinking tons of beer with my friends, eating lots of sausage and fried food, riding poorly-maintained carnival rides with real! actual! carnies, dancing the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey to Brave Combo...who wants to do that, anyway?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

One way to spend one's Thursday evening...

...is to spend it in the emergency room at the new Children's Hospital.

Sigh.

The story starts, I guess, thusly:

The OG went out on Halloween last night, suitably overstimulated and bouncing around like the hyperactive little monkey that she is. However, I did notice that her stamina this year was not quite what it was last year - I mean, she really only did two blocks - but I figured it was probably just that she was ready to come back and play Harry Potter with her best buddy Cole.

This morning, she woke up tired...I'm all, "No, shit, dude?" - except that I don't really say "No, shit, dude," I say something motherly instead, like "Um, yes, honey, you stayed up until ten last night, remember?" She complained of her finger hurting; I took a look at it, and didn't see anything, but it was red and kind of swollen. In fact, I noticed, all of his fingers were a little sausage-y, but I chalked that up to candy and the late night. I gave her a band-aid for her finger...I figured she'd gotten a splinter or a little piece of glass in it, or something, and sent her on her way to school.

So, later, the school nurse called me at about 11:00, to tell me that OG has now developed a rash on her legs and arms, and that her hands and feet were swollen up. We chatted a bit about the amoxicillin that she's been on for a week or so due to what I'd presumed was a flare-up of her old, recurrent strep infection. The nurse said that the OG looked, to her, like she was having an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin, and that her doctor should probably take a look at it. OG got on the phone with me and said that she didn't feel well, but I encouraged her to eat a bit of lunch, and she agreed to try.

Hmmmm, says I; OK. I made an appointment with her doctor for right after school, 'cause there didn't seem to be a huge rush, or anything.

When I got to school at 2:45 and found her, she looked TERRIBLE. Her face, which is pretty pale to begin with, is stone white, with that distinctive "high-color" on the cheekbones. When I touched her, she was burning up with fever, and the rash was angrily throbbing. Worse, her hands and toes were PURPLE, and HUGE.

We bustled off to the doctor's office, wherein the OG promptly fell asleep. (No! I'm serious! Yeah, MY DAUGHTER!) The doctor kept us there for quite a while, putting in calls to various infectious disease specialists, and then said - in that inimitable doctor way, "Well, it could be an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin, or it could be just a virus, or it could be a really serious disease like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever." (Me: "Huuuunhh?) She advised us to hightail it down to the new Children's Hospital Emergency Room.

I shall spare you the details of the Four-And-One-Half-Hours That We Spent There. With no books. Or dinner. And only evening television to placate the cartoon-loving OG. Needless to say, we were hungry and cranky...though I must point out that ONE of us at LEAST had a BED to lie in.

After much, much, MUCH waiting and bloodwork, we determined that yes, indeedy, it is an allergic reaction to the amoxicillin, or a virus, and that, either way, it should clear up in a day or so. Though I was of course glad to hear that, part of me was a little - just a tiny, little bit - like, "Seriously; four and a half hours, and she doesn't even have something exotic?"

We didn't arrive home until 10:00, and clearly the OG is really sick, as I tried to make her (?) feel better by buying a box of warm Mrs. Johnson's Doughnuts on the way home, and she was not even remotely interested. (DAMN, that is an insidious place! I mean, they put an extra doughnut on top of the box when they hand it to you! They are FORCING me to eat one!)

Anyway, pity me, folks...not for having to spend all that time in the ER, but because I NOT ONLY watched "Drake and Josh," and I NOT ONLY watched three episodes of "Courage the Cowardly Dog," but....I watched an ENTIRE EPISODE of "Full House."

I need a glass of wine, now. STAT!
__________________________
(Interjection: My favorite conversational interlude from today:

OG: "Where in the HELL is the nurse?"
Me: "Um...where in the HECK is the nurse?"

I have NO idea where she heard that.
___________________________
My Four Word Film Review of the "Annual to Semi-Annual E.R. Trip with One of My Children:"

God, PLEASE KILL ME.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dorothy and Hermione


Happy Halloween, everybody. Aren't they cute? I'm totally jealous of the OG's ensemble...but, then again, I could probably put on the YG's wig tonight and have some fun with The Man, too.

If relevant, I hope you got your kids shoveled into their beds into something like a reasonable hour, with something less than forty pieces of candy in their stomach.

Us? Not by a long shot. In the words of the inimitable OG, "Whoooo-EEEE! I'm gonna be a WRECK tomorrow!"

-----------------------------------
I've decided not to attempt the National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) thing again. It makes writing a chore, and I want it to be fun, or at least theraputic. Plus, Badger had the best idea - to write about a song every day - and I am too consumed with jealousy to come up with anything on my own.

But - if I were going to do NaBloPoMo...I would do Four-Word Film Reviews. Or, TV reviews; I don't get out much.

For example?

My Four-Word Film Review of last night's "Heroes" episode: Hey, that's Yakov Smirnoff.