Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Picky, Picky, Picky

Item One: Trading Spaces, They Hated It
I'm warning you...If you loved this mess they aired on Monday night, you'd do well to bypass this paragraph. For those of you who live in a cave, Trading Spaces is the 2-day, $1k, 1-room redecorating show. TLC had been swamping its station with ads for this "They Hated It Show" for quite awhile. It was touted to be the show where people who had severely adverse reactions to their room (picky, picky, picky!) talked about what happened "after the show." The designer responsible for the mess was also given a chance to air their opinions. In reality, what the viewers got was a re-re-rehash of three old episodes, each of which was followed by a two minute interview with the designer of the offensive room, and the homeowners. The middle episode was the classic "Crying Pam" ( I have to leave the room now...BooHoo!!) episode. The designer? Doug. Now those of us who watch the show know Doug has the potential to throw a hefty hissy fit when slightly provoked. Overall, in the post-show interview, he had a few humorous jabs. Mr. And Mrs. Crying Pam said they repainted and redecorated in a "Country Barn" style. Doug dryly said "I don't decorate barns." He did mention that he had told Crying Pam afterwards "I'm sorry you're not happy with the room."

But. BUT. The designer that flipped my cakes was the new guy, Rick. He designed a seriously sucktastic room. Not mildly sucktastic. It was Asshatastic. It just blew. His response? I quote here:

I don't see myself as being bad. I just come from an alternative reality. I try to do work that's witty, a little sarcastic and never been seen before. I watched the reveal. I was so excited when they hated it! Either you love it or you hate it. Don't be in between on me. Therapy. Everybody involved in the show needs to go to therapy.

Dear TLC and MPDP,
You must, must, must fire this moron. He makes Hildi look sane.
He makes Frank's rooms look like the Wizard of Oz, BEFORE the
twister. When anybody on this show can make Doug seem like
a caring human being, something is seriously wrong. This soul
patch lovin' psycho case isn't eclectic. He's an Asshat. Learn
the difference now. And Quick.

Thank you for your time.

PS -- Will Vern marry me?

Item Two: Teaching Day. Tuna Style
I teach voice to my Collegiate Scottish Tunas twice a week. They are an awesome group of kids and I love my job. One of my more challenging tasks is to assign repertoire to all my students. Thirty kids. Six songs each. You do the math. That's one heck of a lot of songs, and each one must pass its own picky, picky, picky test.

Question One: Can I stand to listen to this song for the next 13 weeks? Being the one in charge, I am never going to assign a song I hate. I have a fairly open mind, but some songs just bug beyond belief:

Nymphs and Shepherds, Come Away. Come Away.
Nymphs and Shepherds, Come Away. Come Away. Come, Come, Come, Come Away.

I mean really. I can hardly stand to even type the words. How can I make some poor college slob sing this drivel? Sorry Purcell. This song bites.

Question Two: Does the student have any sort of interest in this song? Some kids would reject every song I put in front of them if I let them. But then I think, kids are kids. It doesn't matter if they are 9 or 19. Everybody gets a limited number of veto options, but after that, I resort to TinyTuna logic: "You may wear the red shirt or the blue shirt. You may pick." (Translated, I approve of both, but I'll grant you the power to control your universe in a pre-approved manner). My students are the same. Just substitute "songs" for "shirts". I do try hard, however, to match songs to a students' personality. It's important, because if a student truly hates a piece, they will never practice the thing. One of my students said they liked "angst" songs. Now this kid has a super-sweet personality. Think MaryAnne on Gilligan's Island. It seems weird that she wants an angsty song, but I'll try. Think. Think. Think. I've got it! It's not so much "angst" as "super creepy lullaby". It's got bleeding stars, dying suns, broken needles and tattered bridal gowns. A real pick-me-upper. I start playing through it and this sweet kid starts jumping up and down for joy. It's the best song she's ever heard. It's exactly what she wanted. Ok. There ya go kid. Be sure to sing it for Grandma when you go home.

Come to think of it, it is a pretty cool song. There is something about unraveled spools and weeping stars that just speaks to me after a long day of work. It's good not to be too picky.

Monday, September 29, 2003

The Salmon Mousse

It's a Mr. Death or Something...He's come about the reaping...
Death has been wielding a wide scythe of late. Robert Palmer, George Plimpton, Elia Kazan, Donald O'Connor and Althea Gibson in the past week. That's five. I don't know about you, but I'm keeping one eye peeled for the anvils of you're-next. Best parting shot award is given hands down to Donald O'Connor who was reported to say "I'd like to thank the Academy for my lifetime achievement award that I will eventually get." Nothing like a snerk when you're on the off-ramp of life. Well done.

It was a lovely little fish, and it went wherever I did go.....
This has nothing to do with anything. But back in the day, Youngest BrotherTuna and I used to recite the entire poem and laugh like ninny's. Good times. I used to work in the movie industry for many, many, many years. I schlumpffed the popcorn, I sold the tickets, I busted youngins' when they tried to sneak into slasher films, I ran projectors, but I did not do pink minty sawdust duty. That's what underlings are for. I was the queen of the Raisinettes! I remember when Meaning of Life was released. I remember thinking it was hysterical. I still do. I remember having to give out refunds when the guy ate so much that he blew up. (I'm sorry you're upset....Yes of course you may have a refund....Please visit again....May I suggest a viewing of 'All That Jazz'? The open heart surgery scene is extra special...)

Like all public emporiums, the movie theatres attract their own cadre of special guests. One lady I particularly remember was in for a showing of this Monty Python classic. At the end of the film, she was standing in the empty theatre by the wall. She had her popcorn cup and was alternately staring at the wall and hitting it with her popcorn cup. My usher at the time, went in to check the theatre. He asked her if she was ok. She pointed to a screw in the wall, and told the usher "they were sending messages through this." My usher, bless his soul, told her very calmly that scientific experts had been out that very day and had verified the space was safe from alien message transmission. She was content with the answer and went on her way. You have to love people who think on their feet. It was a classic moment.

They haven't said much about the meaning of life so far, have they?
....Well, it's been building up to it...
Personally, I very much doubt if they're going to say anything about the meaning of life at all.
....Oh, come on. They've got to say something...

Nah. I doubt it tonight. My brain slipped into a coma in the middle of the first Trading Spaces...They hated it. It wasn't really what they led us to believe it was going to be in the ads. Oh well. TinyTuna will be happy, because I have Crying Pam on tape now.

I have to leave the room now.....

Sunday, September 28, 2003


Not Cats. Not Streisand. TinyTuna.

As I mentioned earlier, we've been going through TinyTuna's TeensyTiny clothes and separating out things that don't fit from things that do. This weekend we tackled the closet. It was a dress-a-rama and the too-small pile definitely outpaced the still-ok pile. Such is the life of a growing kid. As we tried on the beloved Easter 2002 dress, it was painfully (really painfully) obvious this thing wasn't going to fit. She had to put herself into contorsions just to get it on, and it was just too snug. It wasn't going to fit. TinyTuna? Tears central. Granted, it's a pretty dress. Navy blue, decent material, with a lace-ish double square collar, and small lace-ish bows at the waist. It was pretty stylish. But let's face it. If you can't breathe, it's a pretty big drawback.

So TinyTuna is crying because her favorite dress is too small. I'm trying to tell her what a big grown up girl she is becoming, but let's face it...She ain't biting. As a last ditch effort I grab her fanciest Christmas dress that I know will fit, and I tell her to test the "twirl". That goes over big. Tears subside. Then I tell her I'll be on the lookout for something similar to her too-small dress. I ask her what she likes the very best about it so I'll know what to look for. She gives me a 10 minute lecture. Oy.

TinyTuna is a packrat. She could go in the basement, find an old sock, and start orating about all the great memories she has of this sock. Then she'll tell you elaborate stories about her and her adventures with said sock. I guess I must have always been unconscious, because I can assure you none of these episodes have ever occurred, despite her assertions that I was there. I let her tell them, though. Storytelling is a good skill. The thing is, I can give her that mom look towards the end of the story that says "I know you are full of it." She'll give me a classic TinyTuna evil grin that replies "Yep. And if it were anybody but you or GramTuna...I'd get away with it too."

Consequently, due to the wonderful memories attached to each and every object she has ever touched, I have a basement full of.....Memories. I desperately need to get these out of the house, and donate them to charity, but I can't do it while she is around. It's too much drama for a GreenTuna to bear.

Now, in all fairness, I must admit that I too, suffer from the packrat disease -- Grownup style. I don't use the "wonderful memories" defense. Oh no. I employ the "I might need this later" offense. I might read it later, I might cook it later, I might mend it later, I might plant it in the garden later, I might fix it later, I might file it later, I might organize it later. I am the queen of good intentions and planning ahead. I am in denial about the side-effects of my disease -- as much as I can be, anyway -- because it's not uncommon to trip over a pile of denials in the middle of the night. So, I'm constantly battling to weed out things I positively won't need later. I don't think I'll ever win the war, but I'm happy when I win little battles. In the meantime, you can be assured that in our house you will find plenty of wonderful memories bobbing gracefully in the river of denial. Hey, wait! Is that my sock?

Friday, September 26, 2003

Simply Irresistible

Robert Palmer has died. Damn

Odds and Ends

Happy Friday, everybody. Today I'm dedicating myself to changing the forces of nature. I'm going to move more things out of my office than stream into my office. Will it work? I doubt it, but it is a worthy goal, nonetheless. Out, out damn books! Off you go. Thank you. But...wait...I should look at this one. I'm teaching this topic. Oh, that one looks interesting. As you can see, it's a problem. I have too many interests, and I'm a wee bit of a packrat. Thus, the state of my office. So, I'm looking for books which hold no interest for me. Researchers Guide to the bassoon? Off you go! Some book written in Russian Cyrillic? Can't read it, so see ya! Music of Lord Berners. Who dat? Buh-bye!

Speaking of books means speaking of libraries, which means speaking of librarians. Evidently librarians are the current political scourges of the Empire of the Shrub. I feel all dangerous now. Snort. Check it out here. And while you're at it, this week is also Banned Book Week. Do you own any? You should. Be a rebel and buy yourself a banned book today. Don't know which ones are the no-no's? Check out the 1990-2000 list. Woah. Where's Waldo??? What'd he ever do?

Changing topics. Hatteras continues to dig and rebuild from Hurricane Isabel. One of the more recent things I've read is their decision to close the inlet, which is much more difficult than you might think. Think back to your basic sand castle, and trying to fix a castle wall before the waves come back in again. It's much the same, except they are trying to dump enough sand in quickly enough to fill the hole, and then put extra on top so the road can be rebuilt. There is continual debate on whether they should rebuild the road, or build a bride and let the inlet remain. I'm glad I don't have to make these kinds of decisions. Two great links for Hatteras pictures are here and here. They include enough background that now I have a better sense of where they are in Hatteras Village. It looks as if Lee Robinson's General Store withstood the storm (huzzah!), as did The Hatterasman restaurant (heh). Hatterasman is the Buick of architecture. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't knock that sucker down for anything. The Buick? That's a story for another day.

I've been having fun reading some fellow Hamster Time blogs. In addition to Rappy's page, there is also a hysterical story offered up on Perpetual Blonde and a great ongoing narrative offered by Opheliagh. They're all great reads.

Speaking of great reads means speaking of books, which means back to work.

Thursday, September 25, 2003


So, it’s over. Big Brother 4 crowned its big winner last night in a blaze of “who on earth cares anymore.” For those of us who watched more often than we’d care to admit, the final two hamsters left us cold, bored and angry that we had to stare at their lazy-ass selves. Their conversation for the past seven days consisted solely of puffing themselves up while shredding all those out of earshot -- and out of the country for that matter. It’s so easy to talk big and scary when the enemy is slurping martinis in Mexico. Predictably, none of the big talk and threats of “taking them down” happened when the sequestered walked back into the house. Feh. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, little girls.

Equally predictable, the voting was lopsided, resulting in a 6-1 vote for Jun (Note: Nate? Your vote and your logic were as misguided as your fashion selection of the dreaded pirate shirt. Dump the shirt. Dump the girl). During the vote, the phrase that kept rearing its ugly head was choosing between “the lesser of two evils.” Oy.

One thing that really bugs about the few reality shows I watch is the running of certain phrases into the ground. It gets to the point that you want to throttle the people and threaten the prize money unless they can come up with something original to say. Some of BB4’s biggest offenders:

I’ve got your back -- Chopping block -- Alliance / Secret Alliance -- Floater -- Honor – Veto – Dude -- My Girl / Donny -- Cuss Words used as nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns and interjections repeatedly in the same sentence.

So they had to choose between the lesser of two evils. A Jewish proverb reads He is not called wise who knows good and ill, but he who can recognize the two evils the lesser. I’d call the sequestered hamsters an awful lot of names, but I guarantee you “wise” wouldn’t be one of them. And if you’re choosing between the lesser of two evils, don't you have to apply some sort of standard to each evil in order to assess them? Would it be a moral standard? Despite Jee’s mantra of “Honor”, I see a “moral” label having the same fortitude as Jun's diet in a Doritos factory. If not a moral standard, do you suppose a legal standard would apply? For many of this crew (see: Gary and Dr. Blue, among others) a legal standard wouldn’t have a pegleg to stand on.

So what’s left? Like most competitions, there is going to be a degree of subjectivity in the choice. You wore elephant slippers? I hate elephants. You wore blue? My favorite grade school teacher wore blue. Is it really choosing between evils, or is it making a decision based on our myriad of life experiences tinged by whether or not the toast was burned in the morning?

Someone mentioned last night the saying that Kent offered when making his choice in BB2. He said something to the effect of “It is like choosing between a hangnail and a rash.” Now that is what I call wisdom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Changes. Part the Second

It's colder here today, so I ran downstairs to get some of TinyTuna's warmer clothes. I grabbed a pile of jeans and sweatpants. *Sigh* Hello Salvation Army. Please enjoy all these clothes that don't fit. Keep in mind, I buy things big. Way, way, WAY too big. And TinyTuna in new clothes? She looks a bit silly because they're huge. Too bad I say. I want them to have a prayer of lasting one complete season before they're too small. She is wearing pants today that last year were a good 3 inches longer than her legs. Today? They're a perfect fit. This means they might last until Christmas.

The weather here definitely says Autumn. It's been much cooler the past few days, and the leaves are starting to change and fall. I used to hate Fall because it was the season of impending doom....Snow, cold, slush, cold, slush, slush, black dirty grimy driven on snow, slush. You understand. I'm not so fatalistic now, but there is nothing more depressing than a naked tree. Now a naked tree coating with a thin pristine layer of snow is gorgeous, but a bare naked tree? Bleah.

Elsewhere in the land of changes. I've been following with great interest and concern the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel. The Tunas at large vacation annually in Hatteras, NC. We drive past all of the commercial yucky parts and go to Hatteras Village, which is at the very, very end of the Island. Our house is about 1/4 mile from the ferry which takes you over to Ocracoke Island. Well, Hatteras got hit badly, especially Hatteras Village. In fact, Hatteras Village is currently it's own island, as the hurricane created a new inlet joining the ocean to the sound. Several businesses were totally destroyed, and there has been fairly massive devastation to the infrastructure. Because Hatteras is so remote, and getting down there is darn near impossible at the moment, they aren't getting much coverage on the national news. Besides, I think TPTB think it is more relevant to show the flooding damage in historic Alexandria. I guess people can relate to the horror of a soggy Ben and Jerry's Ice cream store. Hatteras folk are resilient, though, and we are keeping the community in our thoughts as they face change far more severe than naked trees and too-small-clothes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

It Ain't Over Till...

Tonight, we had tears, but not about the play. I've been anticipating and fearing having to tell TinyTuna about some changes that are going to affect her well-crafted world. GramTuna has taken a job as a church musician at a different church. So tonight, after buying a new pair of ballet slippers and tap shoes for the ever growing TinyTuna, we went across the street to have some ice cream. I told TinyTuna. She burst into tears. *sigh* Alot of tears. I knew she'd be upset, but I wasn't expecting this much angst. In mid-sob she snuffles "I don't like change when it happens to my own family!" Poor kid.

An interesting sidebar -- when she calmed herself down, the first question she asked was if the pottery painting store (across the street) was still open. "Why?" I ask. "I want to paint Gram a tile," she snuffles. We didn't go paint because it was late, but I thought it was interesting that she wanted to turn to art as therapy. TinyTuna will be OK. I told her if she was sad, she should tell me so I could give her a hug. I told her if I was sad, I was going to tell her so she could give me a hug. We made a deal to take care of each other. It was a decent solution to a crappy problem that's been occupying much of my life over the past month.

We walk back to the car, and I tell TinyTuna I have something else to tell her. She eyes me warily and says, "Good news or bad news?" "Good news" I tell her. Our church is going to do the opera "Amahl and the Night Visitors" this December. I've sung it, hrmmm, at least twice before. Anyway, they want TinyTuna to sing the role of Amahl, and I'll sing the role of the mother. Well, she's hesitant. For about thirty seconds. "I'll do it!" she announces. I figured as much.

Home we go. I can't find my score. It must be up north with most of my music. I hope it is, anyway. We decide to sit down and watch the tape of the opera. She saw it live last December. It was the one and only time she's ever seen it or heard it. This kid has an iron clad memory. She remembers much of the music. She certainly remembers the plot. So we watch the movie together, and she seems pretty excited.

Now it's past bedtime, but GramTuna and I say "One Short Story". TinyTuna starts bargaining. Can she read one from her 6-from-Seuss books? No, says I. Too long. Can she read two stories? No, says I. Please? No, says I. Can I.... NO! Says I. Pick one now, or no stories period. She grabs a story. We're snuggled in bed and ready. Our story? "Tacky and the Emperor". Keep in mind, Tacky is a penguin who wears loud Hawaiian shirts, and yells "What's Happenin!!!??" He lives with Goodly, Neatly, Angel, Lovely and Perfect. Of course, Tacky doesn't fit in, but they always agree at the end "he's a nice bird to have around." I heart Tacky in a big way. So, Tacky and the Emperor. TinyTuna opens the book, and starts singing. The book. Operatically. I am now absolutely doubled over in laughter with tears running down my face. GramTuna is in hysterics as well, and TinyTuna is just singing and singing this book at the top of her lungs. Someone earlier tonight asked me "....she sang it to the tune of what?" Let me tell you. She sang it to the tune of I'm-making-it-up-as-I-go-along that lasted for some 20-odd minutes. It was great. It had Allegros, Adagios, major keys, minor keys...the whole deal. While I'm trying to regain some sort of normal breathing pattern, all I can think is ... I have the weirdest house in the universe . How many kids are channeling Maria Callas while turning their bedtime story into an original operatic composition? For my kid though, this behavior is practically normal.

Oy and Veh. And I thought I was a weird kid when I climbed into our backyard tree so I could sing without anybody bugging me. I got nothing on TinyTuna -- not by a mile. I'm telling you all though, if her next audition is successful (Annie -- heaven help me), I'll be writing these posts from the loony bin. It's Tuesday already, which means it's a teaching day. I gotta bolt and get some sleep.

Monday, September 22, 2003


Today was going to be all about PPD -- Post Play Depression -- and the TinyTuna. Morning events have changed all that. The short version on TinyTuna? She's exhausted, but otherwise fine. We haven't gotten the bucket of tears we did when she finished "The Sound of Music". I'm sure it will come.

Coincidences. Oh my. The online community of the world never ceases to amaze me. Toiling away in my office, I start to chatting with Rappy about Blogs and such. She gives me a link to her former diary, and I read through several very funny postings. I heart Rappy. In one of her entries, she discusses meeting Deborah who runs Chicklit. A billion sirens go off in my head. Chicklit! Schubert! Obscure Spanish Painters! "What?" You may ask. Let me explain.

A musicologist colleague of mine is on sabbatical writing his book on Schubert. He has been trying, so far unsuccessfully, to find information on a particular painting by a particular artist entitled "A Melody of Schubert." Keep in mind, the picture is nothing spectacular. Picture several women romantically schlumpffed around a piano, and you'll have the right idea. One of the women looks heavenward with a face that says "did I leave the oven on?" Another two sit on the other side, one holding her head in a true Tylenol moment and the other one comforting her as if to say, "it's almost over dear". A third woman plays the violin, and the fourth is at the piano, no doubt trying to work "Heart and Soul" into the Adagio movement of the Schubert sonata. Over the summer my musicologist colleague ran across a copy of this particular painting on the web. The website? Chicklit. He tried to get information, but all emails bounced back. I took the picture back with me to work and we searched the art library indexes but came up empty-handed. Sniff.

I stop Rappy in mid-chat and begin raving like a madTuna about her entry. Who is Deborah? Does Rappy know Deborah or have email access? I'm Indiana Jonesing like crazy at my desk. Rappy comes through. Does she know her? Yes, she's met her. Does she have her email? Sure she does. Haven't I ever read any of Deborah's recaps on Television Without Pity? Oh. My. God. That's the Deborah? It's the TWoP Deborah? Hell yes, I read her recaps! She got to interview Vern. I grovel appropriately at my desk at the very thought. (Totally off-topic to "Coincidences" -- I just notice that Trading Spaces got shoved into Permanent Hiatus Status. What the hell? *sigh*) Anyway. It's that Deborah. Rappy gives me her email, and I write immediately, including the appropriate amounts of fellow recapper kudos, followed up with this long explanation of my search for the origins of said Schubert picture. I thank her profusely for her time, and pray to the email Gods as I press [send].

She answers! She knows the book, has the book, gives me the citation and tells me the page. Perhaps Deborah is a librarian at heart. I dash to the stacks, and there it is. Plain as day. Yeah team. GreenTuna, Rappy and Deborah unite to fight the forces of failed research. I feel like I should start singing "It's a Small World Afterall". But I don't because might go into diabetic shock (no, I'm not) from the saccharine. I am, however, still amazed. Thanks computer. You came through again.

Speaking of Rappy. I must give some turnabout kudos. I started recapping on Hamster Time not knowing what the freak I was doing, and pretending to write like a lot of other people wrote who I thought were really, really, really funny (Rappy, HighwayGirl, Overgme, Tsylist...Everybody else...I'm talking about you). There are boards and there are bored-s. HamsterTime is smart, witty, and always a good read -- despite the lameness of the Big Brother houseguests. During the nine months we Hamster recappers rejuvenate our creative juices, I'll be busy reading Rappy's page , as well as squatting over at HighwayGirls board Looking Good board.

Sunday, September 21, 2003


I'm supposed to be sleeping in. But no, I'm here. Why? Because I forgot leave the customary monetary homage to TinyTuna's tooth. This glaring omission woke me out of a dead sleep at 5:45 am. I really hate waking up to that panicky feeling of impending disaster. Catapulting myself out of bed, I start searching for the dollar I set aside. Several minutes later (hand-eye coordination just not doing well on 4 hours of sleep) I find the dollar and creep into her room. Pillow. Check. Tooth. Check. Money. Check. Stealth Exit from the Bedroom. Check. Phew. Luckily, I made it. But now? I'm wide awake, and it is 6:00am on a Sunday morning. TV, will you be my friend? "Hell no!" it seems to hum. 46 infomercials, and CarrotTop is on CNN. A sure sign of the Apocalypse.


And lo, a new Blog was born. After much encouragement from all my pals at Hamstertime , I have decided to join the billions and billions of krill and post my own blog. Just like my faithful sidekick, TinyTuna, I hope this blog will be smart, cute, maddening, endearing, occasionally petulant, and one that you'll want to visit every now and again.