Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Copping out for Halloween

It was one of those days on the job when you were working hard, minding your own business and BAM! a co-worker takes pity on you and sends you a computer link that makes you laugh. So I thought it would be fun to share a couple of my favs with you. My selfish motive for doing this is to save a very tired blogger from coming up with something witty to write this evening. Sit back, watch these clips and thanks for the break.

Clip #1 is from You Tube for the Harry Potter fans in all of us. Especially those who want to see the Hogwarts adventures acted out with puppets. The episode that caught my eye was The Mysterious Ticking Noise - a sort of wizard mini-operetta.

Clip #2 - Now here's a real scary one (in my opinion) from the Joe Cartoon website called Happy Mothers Day. I find it frightening because I am sure I am watching my sons in about 10 years. Check out my sidebar for a link to other Barats And Bereta videos. I love these guys.

Oh yes and before I forget:

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Looking for John

WARNING: Serious blog about death (and Life) but not depressing or morbid. If you have never lost someone close - it may not be the blog for you.

I am sorry about my lack of blogging for the past few days but I find myself caught up in thoughts of my brother. John died suddenly and unexpectedly right after Easter. He was 50 years old, which may seem like ancient to some but is quite young in the scheme of things.

When I got the call I was shocked and hurting. I drove back to Wisconsin and did my best to help my boys understand the loss of their Uncle along with attempting to comfort my parents through the devastating death of their only son. A painful and unbelievable time.

Our whole family rallied around us like a large, downy quilt doing their best to soften the blow. Our extended family of friends showed up in droves to give us their tears and their support. It was truly moving.

So, it amazes me that it is only now, months later, that I really feel the loss. I think time tends to magnify the void left, emphasizing how a loved one is now beyond our reach. There are no phone calls or cards on birthdays and holidays. There are the million times I stop myself in the middle of saying, "I gotta remember to tell John this, " or "I bet John would like that for Christmas."

The memories of him that pop into my head are not what I would expect. They usually involve him as a kid verbally insulting me or beating the crap out of me. No one would mistake us for Donnie and Marie. My brother and I were not close as kids. In fact, I think he found me annoying at best. Our temperaments were different, our interests were different and I was looked on as inferior in every way.

But as he got older he mellowed and found a real respect for who his little sister had become. I asked him to be Godfather to my youngest and he checked in on me regularly through the long demise of my marriage. I realized he did not want to be seen as soft-hearted - but he was. I began to appreciate his wit and intelligence and he told me how he was amazed that I hadn't become bitter, but showed real courage during great adversity.

Had we not been brother and sister, we may never have been friends - but families don't work that way do they. Often you are completely unique people with the same last name. I once read that everyone is born into a different family, meaning each person that comes into it changes it before the next arrives. Our childhood days aside, I'm glad John arrived before me. I wish he didn't leave so soon because I believe he never got the chance to finish the changes he was meant to make in all of our lives. I miss him.

Rest in peace J.D.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Finding my digital womanhood

In college at the start of the 80's the only people who had regular access to any kind of computers were the ones majoring in communication technology. In my freshman year I happened to date a senior who fell into this category. I actually saw the inside of the forbidden computer lab!

This was pretty heady territory for a theater arts major. I knew then and there I would never be tempted to learn how to use a computer. I was too pure to be caught up in the technology lure. I was saving myself for Shakespeare and Ibsen, not to be trifled with by clicks and bytes.

Well, it's pretty obvious isn't in? College life changes you. I fell in love.

I am not a technological virgin anymore. I guess you could say I succumb and lost my "apple" quite a few years back. Hey, don't look down on me. The fact that you are reading this blog on a computer puts you in the digital slut or pimp category as well. You know we gotta have it.

We gotta have it, email it, blog it, vlog it, podcast it, download it, upload it and stream it.

Does anyone else need a cigarette?

It seems like a million years since the days when my cousin Teri and I would sit out on the lawn chairs in my folks backyard playing with my Say it Play It tape recorder. It was made almost entirely of red plastic and had these little yellow plastic tape cartridges on which you could record about 20 minutes of dialogue. We used it to create our own parodies of the Watergate trials. We thought we were so cool. The Jon Stewarts of our day.

Ah, but the innocence of youth is fleeting. Last year I discovered that my then ten-year old was using his school bus rides home to make satirical videos about George Bush and the gang on his friend's Mac laptop and iSight camera. I'll admit I was shocked. We hadn't even had "the talk" yet. They grow up so fast these days.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mary Tyler Moore had it easy


I need to pause here to see if I want to tackle this subject. After the divorce last year I can't say I was eager to date. I figured I'd better get my kids' lives more settled and get my own shit together before I think about that Pandora's Box again.

However, I have started thinking about it.

It's been a while since I dated and I really need some advice from blog readers out there...Your thoughts on the current dating environment...Your gentle advice...Your strict warnings.

I think it only fair to give you a snapshot my past experiences. I dated a decent amount in my life, but only had a few of what I would call memorable relationships; those included:
  • The absolute perfect guy who unfortunately set the bar so high it's been impossible to reach since.
  • The guy that turned out to have two personalities - #1 mild mannered Clark Kent, #2 a velociraptor.
  • The cute, fun guy who was not really sure of his sexual preference and wanted me to decide for him. (Girls, never, ever, decide for them).
  • Two summer romances that were great. One of them I still miss.
  • My Ex. His description will not fit in a blog. Suffice it to say that if some people have baggage, he owned a chain of luggage stores.
So there you have it. When I moved to Minnesota I felt a little like Mary Tyler Moore starting a new life and career. I married and that didn't work out as planned. Now I identify much more with Rhoda (a good example of a TV SB). So if anyone has a good tale to tell or some sound advice to share. I'm listening.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

They're not that nice!

In case any of you are planing to take a trip to Minnesota in the near future I feel it is my duty to warn you about...
You may have heard of us being referred to as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" but I'll bet you've never heard of us as the "Land of Absolutely No Turn Signals." It's true. Drivers let other drivers know things like whether they are changing lanes or turning a corner by using their amazing powers of mental telepathy.

The problem with these ESP drivers is the fact that not all of us are similarly gifted and usually we don't know that the hell they're doing. Although I admit I prefer the ones who don't use their signal at all versus the fools who put it on after they are in their turn. They must want to let us know if we guessed right. Thank you for nothing.

There is also something missing up here that you may be accustomed to where you come from. The lack of this driving signal is probably due to another phrase describing our temperament - "Minnesota Nice." It explains the rare use of "the finger" up here. Oh they think of it, they just don't want to let you know they are thinking of it. (How I miss people from Chicago).

There is a definite self-containment in the personalities of the North Star State. Like the old joke about the Minnesotan who loved his wife so much - he almost told her. I actually love the people up here but coming from a manic mix of Italian and German I have next to no control over things like emotions. I like people to know what I am thinking. I guess that's why I use my turn signal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My hero wore a speedo

When I was a young and nubile teenager back in 1972 (it hurts just to write that date) I had a disturbing incident I feel it is time to share. I've held it in too long and it's about time I thank the man who came to my rescue.

My bedroom was in the back corner of the Wisconsin home my parents still live in today. It had the standard pink walls and frilly curtains of the period. I remember a hot morning in late summer waking in my bed wearing only my baby doll pajamas. (Side note: What ever happened to baby doll pajamas? The stuff they sell today makes you feel like GI Joe rather than Barbie).

Anyway, I awoke with a strange feeling I was not alone. I sat up and to my shock and fear there was a creepy looking meter reader ogling me through my bedroom window. Being young and rather stupid I didn't yell or get my parents, I simply jumped up and ran into my closet.

I had a small window in that closet and standing on a couple of board game boxes I peeked out to see what my would-be attacker was up to. I was surprised to see him running away as if being chased by a rabid dog.

After I came out and shut the closet door I found my rescuer standing there in front of me. It had been the summer of the Twentieth Olympiad and I was madly in love with swimmer Mark Spitz. Taped to the front of my closet door I had a life-sized poster of Mark wearing nothing but a red, white and blue Speedo and his seven gold medals. When I ran into the closet the open door must have stopped right in front of the window and the scum bag outside came face-to-face with Mark and his glistening, chiseled chest.

So more than 30 years after the fact I owe Mark a long over due thanks. Thank you, Mark, for scaring the crap out of the peeping tom in my window, and thank you even more for a poster that gave me many, many sweet dreams.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dirty little secrets

What is your dirty little TV watching secret? Hey, get your mind out of the gutter! I'm not talking porn sites on pay per view. I can't even afford cable so I let's stick to the major networks.

What I want to know is, what is the show you watch that is pure garbage but you hate to miss? Okay I'll go first...

"My name is Susan and I watch "America's Next Top Model."

There, I said it. I have watched it for three years now and I don't intend to stop.

I just love the carnage. Maybe it was the year the narcoleptic girl passed out on the judging runway and still another girl got voted off before her. Or maybe it was the time the girl who contracted what looked like scabes on her face was kept on for another week or two. I wonder what the model felt like who was voted off before her?

Possibly it's the fact that they keep trying to make me believe the poor plus-sized contestants are going to win it. As a plus sized girl myself myself I just don't know how much longer I can get my hopes up. For them, not me. Believe me, the only way I could be stunning to a man these days is with a fully charged tazer. But I digress.

The truth is, I need the weekly escapism that comes with watching them take pictures of 6 foot tall women suspended off of climbing walls, wearing chicken wire and lizard suits and calling the photo "high fashion". I admit I am amused.
Give me a shout and share your TV pleasures. I promise you, I'll understand.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The good, the bad and the unthinkable

WARNING: Serious day...serious blog ahead.

I like to put a disclaimer right at the top for those blog-hopping brethren who are looking for a little lighter fare to cheer up their day. This isn't it. You may click out.

Now if you stayed with me so far I really need to ask you a question that I have no earthly answer for.

Why is it we have this human tendency to rate trouble in our own lives by that old standard, "it could have been worse"?

What I mean is, when some shitty thing happens to us and we feel like wallowing on our pity pot for a while, why is it the one thing that yanks us back to reality is when something shittier is happening to someone else? There is definitely something wrong with this process.

I am wrestling with this today as two dear people I know have had the shittier thing happen. One of them spent 4 hours in surgery today to repair her hand that was severely damaged in a freak accident. The other just notified me that the health tests she has been going through have all but confirmed she has MS.

It wasn't a good day for them. It shook me just to think about what they are both going through.

If I had my SB way, we would all be aware of how fortunate we are without the rude awakenings or the need to learn of someone else's pain.

Oh and one more thing...be sure to be there for those going through the shittier thing. And if it is you going through it, I sincerely wish you peace and better days.

Friday, October 5, 2007

The theory of "real"-ativity

How old are you?

Well that was rude wasn't it. Actually, it is not an offensive question but a scary one because the answer, once revealed, almost always leads to some false conclusion by the person who asked it. I am in the last gasping breaths of my 40's. I hope that won't make my readers in their 30's, 20's and under run screaming. Believe me I'm still the same inside - it's the outside wrapping that's gotten a little beat up. This leads me to one of my most cherished S.B. theories:

When you turn 30, you become real.

My theory comes from reading The Velveteen Rabbit (a book by Margery Williams) to my first born several years back.

It's a great tale of a new and perfect stuffed bunny that learns a most valuable lesson from an old, threadbare toy horse.

Ms. Williams tells it so much better than I do:

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

Now, go read The Velveteen Rabbit and if you are under 30 and still have all your fur it will give you wisdom beyond your years;

If you are significantly over 30 and your stuffing is starting to fall out, you'll know just what I mean;

And if you happen to just be turning 30, congratulations on becoming real.

*Illustration bu William Nicholson

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

You say tomato and I say ta-mah-toe

I am on a little "date night" with my seven year old and he asks to go see the Disney movie "The Game Plan" starring the Rock. Not my first choice, but the boy is only seven. I, not being seven, decide I don't mind looking at the Rock for an hour or two.

We come to a scene in the movie where the Rock has his shirt off (surprise) and is trying to impress a girl by popping his pecs. My boy turns to me with an angelic look of enlightenment and says,

"So! Men have men have boobs too?"

I wipe the drool off my chin and try to put on a motherly face as many responses flash through my mind. The first of which was to say, "Well, THAT man does." Another option was, "Shhh, don't interrupt. This is Mommy Time."

What did come out was, "You see Honey, on a man's chest those are his pectorals. His pecs."

My child came back with, "Ohhh, so only women have boobs!"

Technically... he was right. (I tried to remember ever using the word 'boobs' in front of him but couldn't. Kudos to all those school chums of his for expanding his vocabulary). I replied,

"Well Dear, they are called breasts when they are on a woman's chest. You say breasts."

Then this big, blue-eyed, curly haired cherub announces,

"Well I call them boobs."

Sometimes you just have to let it drop and be grateful Pamela Anderson never made a Disney film.