Friday, October 31, 2003

The Ten Commandments

And lo, the night of Trick or Treating did approach. And GreenTuna returneth to her home, bringing with her the commandments for observing a most right Halloween. And she brought forth TinyTuna, and sat her down so she may hear again those familiar words of the season. And GreenTuna began by offering a prayer that truly, this might be the one year when the commandments would be heard and followed, and the her child would behave in a manner befitting of her age and station, and not as an embarrassing Philistine, as is often the case. When the prayer was completeth, GreenTuna opened the commandments, gave TinyTuna the look of death, and began to speak, saying,

1. Thou shalt say "Trick or Treat" at each and every door. Thou shalt not say "Bring Me a Shrubbery" as that was a one-year only exception that verily didst bring great joy to the elders. Thou shalt add neither "Arrrrgh" nor "Ahoy Me Mateys" within the Treat or Treat plea, for verily, thou choseth not to be a pirate, despite the pleas of thine mother.

2. Thou shalt say "Thank You" at each and every door post-treat. Failure to do so will result in being sent back to say it.

3. Thou shalt say all door sayings in a voice loud to tumble the walls of Jericho and loud enough so all grown ups can hear it. We shall not accept "but I DID say it" in that whiny elementary school voice that thou useth and we abhorreth so greatly.

4. Thou shalt use sidewalks where they exist and thou shalt refrain from trampling the neighbor's flowers.

5. Thou shalt hold hands or stand within grabbing range of an adult when crossing the street.

6. Thou shalt not trick or treat past the sanctioned time of 8pm. Furthermore, the window for trick or treating may be slammeth shut early by thine elders if thou art too cranky, or not following the rules.

7. Thou shalt eat no candy until the time we returneth home. There shalt be no exceptions to this rule, so thou wouldst be wise to hear these words plainly, and not ask a second time.

8. Honor thy mother and bring her offerings of Milk Duds, SweeTarts and a Mini Snickers, for lo, it is good in her sight.

9. Thou shalt not fight with thy cousin, for all fights cause distress to parents and maketh the venemous bile of anger arise in the mother. Thou shalt not fight over: who gets the biggest piece of pizza for dinner, who gets what to drink, who stands in the middle for pictures, who reaches the trick or treat porch first, who rings the doorbell first, who knocks on the door first, who takes candy out of the bowl first, who says trick or treat the loudest, who says trick or treat first, who says thank you the loudest, who says thank you first, who tells on the other cousin first about whatever infraction the child deems has occurred, who decides which side of the street to go down first, and so on and so on and so on. Thou shalt remember that thou art the child and haveth no power whatsoever. Thou shalt remember the parents giveth and the parents taketh away, and this includes candy, privileges and other things thou holdest dear to thine over-competitive heart. Thou shalt do well to remember this rule all of your days.

10. Thou shalt not covet thy cousin's candy, for verily thou and thine cousin didst visit the same homes. Thou shalt have one piece following trick or treating and the rest shall be saved for later for verily, thy candy lies in numbers greater than the stars of heaven. If thou canst remember and follow these commandments, thou might have candy all your days -- or at least until that time when thy parent tires of the hassle, and taketh the rest to work. For lo, the boss finds favor with chocolate and the co-workers eateth anything.

Amen. Or Else.
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Trick or Treat

Trick: Halloween 2003. TinyTuna was up at 6am.
Treat: Weather forecast: Dry, sixty degrees from 6pm - 8pm.

Trick: Discovering your place of employment (A University Library of all things) is open until 5pm on Christmas Eve.
Treat: Talking your boss into covering the shift. "Yay church!"

Trick: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" get to return to play again.
Treat: Survivor 7 "Outcasts" win the challenge.
Trick: Jon did not get voted out. Drake must be on crack.
Treat: Osten quits. Probst yells at him. Osten is denied any final words.

Trick: Adult Halloween get together tonight. I'll be attending as my slightly taller twin.
Treat: I get to hang with my forgiving friends, who will love me with or without a costume *ahem* (hopefully)

Trick: It's Friday, and it's only 9:25am. The morning crawleth.
Treat: It's Friday. 'Nuff said.

More later.
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Thursday, October 30, 2003

Good Thing: The weather Gods are finding great favor with my sacrificial offerings. Friday forecast is high of 66, with the weather projected to be a lovely 60 degrees from 6-8pm. I'm not getting cocky (see: Drake Tribe, Survivor 7), so I'm keeping those duds a-flowing. It looks promising.

Good Thing: Sick student today has an hour lesson. Double bonus points! I could actually go forth and purchase a lunch within driving distance rather than dashing to 7-11, but I have too much to do, so I think I'll have to pass.

Good Thing: I'm in a Kum-ba-yah I love my job kind of mood today. Actually I'm in a I love music kind of day. The hour long trek up here is a drag, but there is nothing better than grabbing a handful of CDs (Jazz today, because that's what my baby singers are working on) and having a big listening, singing, jam session in my car. There are so many things I want to sing, and hear and teach these kids -- it is unbelievably exciting to me. I'm sure after awhile they think I need to cool it. But, music speaks to me in incredibly powerful ways. The melody, the harmony, the rhythm and the text....each song has its own personality, its own story and its own message. This is what I get to discover every day.

Who could ask for anything more?
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Number of minutes I made TinyTuna's fourth grade teacher shell out compliments before I told her to feel free to "speak freely" because I was well aware TinyTuna doesn't walk on water
Number of days I have to wait until the BIG (CAPS LOCK!!) Survivor with the SHOCKING Twist
Number of minutes I laughed during the new hella-funny Praise Jesus episode of South Park
Number of times I murmured "I love this show" while Bartlett ripped Amy apart on The West Wing
Number of people I worry will think I don't know the saying is Weights and Measures and not Waits and Measures
Number of people I worry will think I spelled that last answer wrong two
Number of hours I have until I'm supposed to be awake again

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Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Doesn't this look fancy? First I called it "Imponderables", but then imponderable didn't seem like a word, even in a leaned-down kind of way. So I made it Latin. I don't know why. Oh, I know why. I looked up "Imponderable" in my handy-dandy online dictionary, and found the Latin word. I thought it was a sign. I bet some Roman Legionnaire is pretty impressed right now. Great Caesar's ghost, I digress. Therefore I am.

But. Over the lunch hour. Thing number one that made me go Hmmmmm.......
I had to pick up TinyTuna from school because it's a half-day. Now, keep in mind it is a half-day for all elementary schools in TunaVille, so it's probably upwards of one thousand children all getting out of school at precisely 12:13pm. (I don't get that time part either. I've stopped asking.) So, fact one is one thousand children = hundreds and hundreds of cars to pick up said children all at the same time. Now, it is also fall in mitten country, which means thousands and thousands of dead leaves as far as the eye can see and the foot can scuffle (weather permitting). TunaVille residents are allowed to take their dead leaves and push them all to the edge of their property. Then, the giant leaf-sucking machine drives by and sucks up the leaves for mulch or whatever. Some TunaVille residents don't like to pile leaves on their grass for fear that it will kill the grass that already looks like crap because of the lack of rain all summer. So these residents rake their leaves into the street. It usually isn't too big of a problem unless there is a lot of rain, which makes everything a slippery leafy mess.

So. Back to our fact. Kids everywhere. Cars everywhere. As I pull into the subdivision where the school is located, the scene looks like something out of Nightmare on Elm-Leaf Street. Every single intersection has an enormous pile of leaves, blocking 3/4 of all traffic lanes. There must have been thirty-five leaf piles scattered all over the neighborhood smack-dab in the middle of an intersection. And Goober, on his backhoe, is busy making more leaf piles. All I can guess is the TunaVille City Council did not recognize this week as "Do Not Push Leaves Into Big Piles On Half-Days" week, because if any idiot had taken two seconds to look at the calendar, they would have recognized the potential chaos.

Thing number two that made me go Hmmmmm.......
The setting: Lunch at a grocery store lunch counter / salad bar area.
The time: Lunch time.
Activity Number One: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.
Activity Number Two: Push chairs around. Ignore people eating lunch.

Activity Number One was performed by a two year old. Activity Number Two was performed by an adult, presumed to be a parent of said child. These two activities went on for forty-five minutes without the courtesy of an intermission. The only difference between the two activities was the child was ignoring everyone in the room as chairs went indiscriminately careening into nearby table legs and shins. After pushing the chairs back to their original location, the parent would ignore everyone in the room (including the child) and eat lunch. On and on and on it went. As annoying as it was, after awhile, I was rooting for the kid. Go on. Do it again. Will she move all those chairs back just ONE more time? Yep. she did.

Leaned Down.
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The Halloween countdown continues. The Weather Gods have found great favor with my sacrificial offerings. As of this morning, the Friday forecast is clear, sunny with a high of 66! This is good stuff, Maynard. More duds. Must buy more duds. TinyTuna's costume at dance worked out just fine. She complained it was "hot" (my response: too bad), and told me in tap they didn't do "buffalos" because it would be dangerous for Princess Odette (TinyTuna) and Hermione. Safety first!

Beethoven wrote a composition called "Rage over a lost penny." Last night TinyTuna wrote "Rage over a denied Tootsie Pop." This is yet another reason Halloween drags on me so much. I hold a pretty tight control over the distribution of candy in my house, because it whacks out TinyTuna, both physically and mentally. So at 8pm last night when TinyTuna was denied her Cherry Tootsie Pop, she went ballistic and was appropriately sent to bed. The good news of this overly dramatic saga is that this morning TinyTuna voluntarily gave me the Halloween Candy dish. She knows because of last night's meltdown, it is going to be retired for the season. I won't toss the candy, but it will no longer be sitting out in the open. It's better that way.

This afternoon is parent-teacher conferences. Why do I get slightly nervous for these things? I don't know. I am anxious to meet her teacher and her student teacher. For the most part, I am very pleased with what she is doing in class. I'm hoping her teachers feel the same. The first conference is always a "getting to know you" kind of deal, since I am a working parent and cannot pop in the classroom unannounced on a whim. I'd rather not do that anyway. Let the teacher teach, I say. Unless, of course, the teacher is incompetent (See - 2nd grade. A story for another day). Hopefully the conference will be productive. Since it is conferences, TinyTuna has YET ANOTHER half-day. A CAPS LOCK event in my irritated mind. She's coming into the office this afternoon, armed with computer games. Good times for TinyTuna. She loves the office.

One final thought in my rambling morning. Last night some of my singing Tuna's sang for each other in our vocal studio class. Overall, I was pretty pleased. There was some word-forgetting afoot, which is never good, but to their credit, nobody stopped mid-song -- they kept on going until they could figure out where to jump back in. They're learning. One of my forgetful students stopped to chat with me as she was leaving. I told her she sang well, but she obviously had some "word problems". Her response? "Yeah, I know. But you should have heard me yesterday. It was REALLY awful! Today was much better, you should be happy!" Whaaaaaat?? That's an interesting leaned-down philosophy. Yesterday my singing sucked beyond belief, but today it only mildly bit, so you should be happy because I'm so much better?? Um, No. My silly, optimistic students. Some of them will have to undergo another session of "being prepared is a requirement, not an option. They'll learn, I promise you.

Oh, and I forgot something else. Uber-Auntie Tuna mentioned yesterday about someone going trick-or-treating where the kids got candy and the adults got beer. Hee Hee Hee. It's funny because it's true. TinyTuna's father was never happier in his entire life. His eyes lit up like it was Christmas. I wonder sometimes if that is why he manages to turn up every Halloween. As for Uber-Auntie Tuna and the upcoming Halloween bash, I sure hope being dressed as a tired mom holding a spare trick-or-treat bag is costume enough, because most likely that's the best you're gonna get. Bah-Humbug.
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Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Actually, I'm not at all. But my 2pm student didn't show, so I'm not complaining. She isn't a "real" student at all. She is a recent graduate, and is trying to pull her stuff together to begin the audition process for various grad schools. Maybe I was only supposed to meet with her once (last week) and now my 2pm slot on Tuesday is open again. I don't know. But I'm not asking either, because, hey, I still have 20 minutes of free time. I already had my obligatory sick student du jour at 11 am, which was close enough to lunchtime for me. Hello 7-11! Thank goodness you are only five minutes from my office door.

Things are fairly quiet here today. The weather is cold and rainy. I've been sending mental rain to California all day -- I sure hope they are able to get on top of these fires. The mitten country sends its love! Anyway, it's quiet here. My studio is in a hallway with lots of practice rooms. A trombone just started booo-buh-buh-booooing in the practice room next to me. This is an enormous improvement over what I'm usually subjected to: Percussionists and Bagpipes. Not at the same time. No. Then I'd be dead. No, I take that back. They'd be dead. There is a fairly active percussion ensemble here, and the students, bless their hearts, actually practice. Unfortunately, they practice right next to my studio. There is nothing worse than BLAM-BLAM-RATA-TATTA-BLAM for hours next to my head. It's torturous.

It used to be bagpipes. My Tunas are Scottish Tunas. The town is known as "Scotland, USA" because, I guess the Scottish people didn't have any place to go if their horse jumped over the Atlantic and got lost. So now, they can come here. The college is known as the "Fighting Scots" -- a big improvement over their previous identity -- the "Fighting Presbyterians." Hee. I'm not making that one up. So, with fighting Scots come bagpipes. I'd be teaching and suddenly "mmmmmmmmRRAWWWWWWWW RAW RE RAW RAWWWWW!" I actually have no clue how to depict bagpipe sounds in words. Although, I'm certain the Chicago Manual of Style doesn't address verbal bagpipe notation, I decided it should be CAPS LOCK and not leaned over. Anyway, Bagpipes. Think cat in a blender, and you'll be close.

Don't get me wrong. I like bagpipes. I love bagpipes. I own half a bagpipe (the cheap non-bag half that sort of looks like a recorder, but houses a double reed inside a wooden tube, thus making your eardrums burst and your cheeks explode, should you attempt to play it). But the bagpipe only has an outside voice, and that's where it should stay. Practice it outside, not in a tiny practice room. And never next to me.

Sometimes -- though not so much yet this year -- but now I've probably jinxed myself and it will happen this afternoon -- Sometimes I get a piano pounder. These are people who aren't playing real pieces. That is, they have no music in front of them. Piano pounders only know about four different chords, and they play them over and over and over and over again. Last year, "Angst Boy" would plop himself in the practice room next to my studio and pound the hell out of the piano for hours on end. If you remember the Dana Carvey "Chopping Broccoli" song, this is EXACTLY what I'm talking about.

I'm actually a little surprised that angst boy isn't about. It's perfect weather for him today. Note to self: More sacrificial duds for the weather Gods tonight. OOoooo, and I had better buy some Twizzlers of Praise. Sick student #2 just cancelled their lesson! I'm on a roll!
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Tuesday. Teaching Day. Steeling myself for an incredibly long day of planting my butt on a piano bench and exhorting students to sing correctly. Whee! Plus tonight I get to add "Studio Class" to the agenda, where we dash over to the chapel on campus and hear students perform for each other. Shaking knees often provide a lovely gentle click-clack-click accompaniment to each and every song. It's a good thing.

Checking the weather Gods -- Today it's weather only fit for ducks and Old Testament big-beard builders of large floating houseboats (with huge rooms for poo. tm Eddie Izzard). Come on Mr. Weatherman, show me the money! I don't care about today...I need to know about Friday. Do I need to buy more sacrificial duds? Inquiring minds want to know. OOOO! Friday shows clear with a high of 63. This is going well. I'm going to get more duds, just in case.

Last night, to my horror, TinyTuna wanted to watch the end of Joe Millionaire II -- An International Travesty of a show that should have realized that once was more than enough. She didn't really care about the Joe (or in this case, the David). She just liked the pearl necklaces. Hee! Every once in awhile, TinyTuna's girly girl really comes out.

More later!
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Monday, October 27, 2003

Next on the countdown parade (I feel like freaking Casey Kasem) is The Big Game (Notice my exquisite use of "leaned down" letters). The Big Game is this Saturday afternoon right here in TunaVille. The Big Game for all Tunavillans concerned, is the annual match up between TunaVille State University and the University of God-We-Hate-Those-Non-TunaVille People-Down-The-Road-You-Know-Who-You-Are-Maize-and-Bluesians. It's a classic. Every year there is so much build up and hype, that by the time you make it to game day, the people that never cared to begin with still don't care and are sick of hearing about it, while the people that eat, live and breathe the mitten country rivalry are already so wasted, they don't mind hearing about it ad nauseum, because, well they are already nauseum themselves and have forgotten everything previously uttered.

So. The Big Game. I suppose instead of being "leaned down", the Big Game should be in CAPS LOCKS. Because it is a CAPS LOCK kind of event. With lots of exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!! The first question, as we approach the BIG GAME !!! is, is it a home or away game? What this question really means (for those of us who live in TunaVille all twelve months of the year) is, "Are the idiots all going to be here, or are they all going to be there?" Because, if the idiots are all going to be there, it is less of a concern. Notice - less. Not none. "There" is close enough that many idiots actually GO there, and perform their idiocy there, where idiocy is harder to identify, because they're all a bunch of hippies. And hippies suck (tm Cartman). Well, a lot of them are hippies. Don't believe me? Read on, McDuff.

Another way you know it is the countdown to the BIG GAME !!!! is the appearance of lounge chairs, coolers, blankets and fools. The fools are a part of "Sparty Watch", which lasts the entire week before the BIG GAME !!! Each fool, or team of fools, takes a turn sitting outside in the middle of an intersection on Campus, guarding a statue. Yep. A statue. A ceramic statue. So in essence, they are spending a week babysitting an enormous coffee cup. And you know what? When they finally move that enormous coffee cup into the stadium in a couple years, these fools are still going to spend the week outside, on their lawn chairs, huddled under blankets guarding the bronze replica statue formally known as the enormous coffee cup.

This year the game is here, so the residents of TunaVille must batten down the livestock and prepare for a lot of depressed corn to invade their fair city. Rioting is always a possibility, so I'm hoping anybody who doesn't want a crispy couch or a singed sofa has the sense to stash it in the back yard, rather than leaving it out at the end of the driveway. We'll all be hoping for a quiet day and a quieter night. I'm counting down the minutes until it's over and the fools have gone home for another year.
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Favorite question of the day -
A library patron calls, asking for information from The Chicago Manuel of Style. This patron needs help with the format for a citation. She doesn't know if it should be underlined or if it should be, ", leaned down."

Investigators later learned "leaned down" meant italicized.
GreenTuna was hospitalized for severe trauma due to excessive laughter.
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This week is a countdown week. It's time to take a look at the calendar (No, it isn't Bible week, so you shouldn't be recognizing that quite yet) and start keeping track. I think counting down can be the worst torture ever. Unless you're counting down to something lousy or particularly craptacular, then I resort to the Ostrich method of "can't see it, can't stress over it." Unfortunately the Ostrich success rate is low. So, we're counting down anyway.

Unless you live in a cave, never set foot in a grocery store or have no kids, you know this Friday is Halloween. In the Tuna household things are percolating nicely. As you know, TinyTuna's costume has been successfully purchased. I say successfully because I didn't kill anyone (including myself) in the process. Tonight GramTuna will be making slight alterations in the costume (read: it was way too big) so she doesn't trip over the dumb thing, and so the sleeves don't hang down to her knees. It was especially funny to hear TinyTuna launch into a ten-minute lecture to GramTuna about the finer details of the sleeves, and how the points had to lay exactly on the top. Hee. It was funny because it wasn't me. In the end, TinyTuna was advised to zip it, because GramTuna was armed with straight pins. The costume should get quite a workout this week. TinyTuna gets to wear it to dance tomorrow, and to go "safe" trick-or-treating in downtown TunaVille at the various stores on Thursday. Friday she gets to wear it at school, and be in the big school parade where you can flaunt your stuff in front of all the drooling Kindergarteners. "Yeah, you wish you could be Princess Doodad, dontcha, little kid" she will think to herself as she does that queen wave thing.

So, TinyTuna begins the countdown with visions of mini Snickers bars dancing in her head. GreenTuna, meanwhile, begins the countdown with all eyes turned to the weather.

Oh great Halloween Gods of weather. Please PLEASE have mercy on our souls.
First request: no snow.
Second request: no rain.
Third request: Not super freezing cold.
I know I'm asking a lot. I will make the appropriate sacrifices of Candy Corn.
What? It won't count because I don't like Candy Corns anyway? Dang It.
Um, OK, I'll give you...Two small boxes of Milk Duds and a pile of Sweet-Tarts
(but only the yellow and green ones). May it find favor and a temperature of
no lower than 60 degrees from 6pm - 8 pm. After that, go wild!
Thanks loads

Halloween is tough, to quote Al Roker, "in our neck of the woods". TinyTuna lusts after costumes like Princess Jasmine that would be fine, if you are trick-or-treating in the Bahamas. But here in mitten country, every costume must be able to work with a pair of sweat pants and a turtleneck sweater at the very least. Heck, some years you have to accessorize with a snowsuit. There is nothing funnier than seeing kids on porches up and down the street flashing the neighbors in an attempt to show off their costume for 1.73 seconds before frostbite sets in. You just have to adapt to your environment. Darwin would be proud.

In stunning lack of "what a surprise" -- the forecast has changed drastically in the past forty-eight hours. We heard "that which shall not be spoken" (the "S" word), we heard chunky rain, we heard scattered showers, and this morning I even heard "high of sixty." I better make sure I'm chocked full of sacrificial duds. It's going to be a long week.

This afternoon on the countdown parade: The BIG Game.
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Sunday, October 26, 2003

Things I've learned from TV today:

1 There is an International Rock-Paper-Scissors championship. It was this weekend, and you gotta love was held in Canada. Due to the exchange rate, the Canadian team was forced to compete with both hands. Ok, not. But in more amazing facts, there is a World RPS Society. Even MORE amazing than that (Is it possible??), is that there are actual named strategies, or "gambits", similar to chess. For example, a player could choose the "Avalanche" gambit (Rock-Rock-Rock). Wow. I mean wow. Where would I be without the Weekend Today show and the Internet? Surely a lot less smart than I am now. Needless to say, TinyTuna was thrilled, and we have yet another current event topic for school. The teacher is going to think I'm nuts. Note to friends: Candle, Shoe, Glue, Lizards, Gizzards and most importantly, Volcano was nowhere to be seen. They haven't really played until they play the rules according to TinyTuna.

2 Dick Buttons, the crabbiest commentator in the world of figure skating never ceases to disappoint. Today's petty gripe? Berating a skater for not tucking in her shoe laces because it destroyed the line in her leg. I'm sure in the scheme of things (not my things), tucking in your laces is a big deal. But I'd probably fall over dead if Dick Buttons ever said something nice or encouraging when a skater made a mistake. I'd pay money to hear Peggy Fleming tell Dick Buttons to cram it. Just once. It'd be great.

3 The Lions are so incredibly bad this year, the network breaks away at the drop of a pass, to show highlights from any other game in progress. Since there isn't much to show on the field today, we've also been treated to lots of shots of fans in their Halloween costumes. Hrm. Lots of bag heads out there. What could it mean?

4 A "Planet of the Apes" marathon grows old faster than a banana gets spots. Yeah, the first one was innovative and interesting and kitschy all at the same time. But the rest of them? Meh to the max.
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Yesterday, in the midst of my basement cleaning blitz I nearly jumped for joy when I turned on the TV and found a rerun of “The West Wing”. It must have been my good luck day, because there ended up being two episodes back to back on the good ole WB. I would like to momentarily take back mean things I said about the WB, on account of they played two hours of West Wing on Saturday, and Lo, it was good.

So, I puttered and cleaned and threw things out while President Bartlett and crew were smart, funny and thought provoking as ever – even though this was probably the sixth or seventh time I’ve watched this. The second episode nearly sent me into a seizure. The episode was “In Excelsis Deo.” This is the first “Christmas” episode where Toby arranges a military funeral at Arlington for a homeless vet who fought during the Korean War.

I have always felt this was and still is to date the best West Wing episode ever. And that’s saying a lot. I’ll go a step farther and say this is one of the best TV episodes of all times. It’s up there with the farewell episode of Mash, the Chuckles the Clown funeral on the Mary Tyler Moore show, and several other classics. It’s just that good.

So, during the commercial, I decided my basement cleaning was done for the day (Yay me!) and I ran upstairs to watch the rest. As I said, I’ve seen this episode probably half a dozen times anyway – probably more. But I still sat on my bed transfixed, as if I’d never seen it before. It is so incredibly engaging on so many different levels. It’s fun to see the characters from an earlier time in the show’s history. CJ was flirting with Danny (local boy from TunaVille, BTW. Remind me to tell you the story when he and many of his friends came to the movies to see his premiere in “Revenge of the Nerds”). Josh was flirting with Donna (We’re talking good old days here), Mandy was on the show, but that’s ok because we know in hindsight she won’t be there for long. And last and never at least, Mrs. Landingham was there. Gah, I love her. I wish she didn’t have to get deaded in her new car. That sucked and was sad beyond words.

Anyway. Everybody was there. One of the main plots centered around a homeless man who froze to death. In his coat pocket was Toby Ziegler’s card (he’d donated the coat to Good Will) so the police contacted him in the hopes that he had some information on this man. Toby ends up finding the man’s brother (also homeless and somewhat mentally handicapped), and pulls massive amounts of string to finagle this full military honors funeral at Arlington.

At the end of the show, I cry. Just like I’ve done every single time I’ve watched this. It is an incredibly moving scene, because it juxtaposes the military funeral with the singing of “Little Drummer Boy” by The Harlem Boys Choir at the White House. I get teary just writing about it.

My Grandfather is there. My Grandfather is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. He always used to joke that he was only going to move from his house once – and that would be seven miles up river. He didn’t quite get his wish, but he was close. They sold the house and moved into a beautiful apartment adjacent to an assisted living center. If you needed assistance, it was there, but if you didn’t you could be very independent. It’s a great compromise, I think.

My Grandfather (a retired naval captain) scared the living BeJeebus out of me and my siblings most of the time. He was a big imposing man with a booming voice. He was hella smart, and when the mood struck him, he would grin his evil grin that went from his mouth deep into his eyes, and he would slice you in half with his razor sharp wit– while you were still laughing. I love those memories.

The only thing scarier than my Grandfather was the Alzheimer’s disease which severely altered his mood and his demeanor towards the end. Usually for the worst. Still in all, I carry mostly very cool memories. Like the time he packed us sandwiches for the road on the way home from North Carolina. He told us in a mysterious voice to “beware of the ringer.” It ended up being Peanut Butter and pickles sandwich. Younger Brother Tuna got the ringer, and we laughed about it all the way home. I also remember the time – ok, every single time – when we would leave his house, and he would walk (painfully with severe arthritis) outside with us, and then he’d cross the road, and “wave us out” of the driveway when it was safe. It was a colossal pain in the ass to have to wait for him to do this. But he did it because he cared. TinyTuna doesn’t remember him doing this, but interestingly enough, she actually waves me out of the garage every morning. If she had a perfectly mixed Bloody Mary in her hand and was another two feet taller, she’d be the poster child for reincarnation. Those two have an awful lot in common.

My Grandfather died, and we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral.

Now, I must admit that I’m not particularly a gung-ho military type person. Every country needs a military, and they have an important job to do. I am, however, going to own up to being a weenie, and say I’m glad I don’t have to serve. But nobody cares about that here. We are in Arlington, which is military central. I feel a little (and a lot) out of place and unworthy.

The family gathered in a small room adjacent to the Arlington chapel. It is not a large church at all – it might seat 100 if you squished. No more, and probably less. Once the family was gathered, we were led to our seats. The casket was rolled in by honor guard with great solemnity and pomp. The service was fairly brief. My uncle spoke, and we all fell in love with the ministers beautiful booming voice which had a Jamaican-like lilt to it.

At the end of the service, the honor guard returned. As they began moving the casket out of the chapel, I thought I heard music, but far, far away. The doors to the chapel opened, and as we stood and followed the casket out of the church, we saw the navy band. It wasn’t a pickup band. It wasn’t the “oh jeez, I gotta go play this funeral, but I’ll meet you at lunch in a hour” band. It was a full naval band. It was over 100 people in full naval dress. Amassed and in formation. They were playing for my Grandfather.

The casket was placed on the horse-drawn caisson. The band remained in formation and followed the caisson to his grave site. They marched the entire way. They played the entire way. It was over a mile. When we reached our destination, a few final words were spoken. Prayers were said. The twenty-one gun salute was sounded. Taps was played. The flag was folded and presented. All of this was for my Grandfather. It was something I’d never seen before, and I knew I would never see again.

Some say “the military knows how to put on a good funeral.” And yes, I suppose it’s true. But it struck me – cynical me – that it was so much more than a “good show”. Of course it was a moving service, but it was also very impressive. It was impressive because all of these people: the minister, the honor guard, the navy band, the riflemen, and the bugler, were there for my Grandfather. They didn’t know him from the next crabby guy on the street. But with every last thing they did – how they moved, how they played, how they looked – it said one word. Honor. It wasn’t pomp at all. It was honor. Honor for a comrade. Honor for a fellow military man. Honor because that’s what is done, and nothing less.

Still, it doesn’t seem enough to say that it was “impressive”. That word is best left for mountains and large snowfalls. “Awesome” is too trendy and overused. It lends itself more to a description of an unadvertised sale, or the quality of ones nachos at the local pub. It was, however, “Awe-Inspiring.” Every crisp, deliberate movement, every word spoken and every note played echoed the theme of honor and respect across the endless rows of pristine white headstones. They didn’t know him, but he was one of their own.

So as I watched West Wing and snuffled through the ending, I thought of the Ringer sandwich and smiled a little smile. In the years since his death, I’ve heard many stories about my Grandfather from GramTuna and from my AuntTuna, and I’m not so afraid of him anymore. I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him, but on that crisp September day, a large group of strangers took me and showed me what lies beyond respect. They showed me Honor.

Thank You.
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Saturday, October 25, 2003

Our usual Saturday routine (as usual as it gets) begins with breakfast at a local eatery. The head grill dog (Larry) calls TinyTuna "Pickles" (because she would always ask for a side of pickles), and his faithful assistant, secondary grill dog (Wayne) calls her "Trouble" (for obvious reasons). We sit in the far corner booth so we don't freeze. Unless they are new, we can order by saying "the usual" and everybody knows exactly what it is. I love local businesses in a big way for just this reason. We know them, they know us, we've established a nice relationship, and they bring us our Diet Pepsi without asking.

After breakfast, we often head out to the mall for some power walking with some of the "Aunts" (Gram's friends) from church. Sometimes there are upwards of seven of us doing mall laps and dishing the business. None of the aunts are real aunts of TinyTuna, but she calls them all "Aunt Whoever" and they have a really cool relationship. TinyTuna loves to go walking -- not for the exercise, but for the company of these sixty-plus year old women. TinyTuna and I generally cut out halfway through the three mile trek and dash into the bookstore to read kids books. Today we read the new Edmund Fitzgerald book (wooHOO), and that was fun. We also bought two additional copies of "Old Turtle and the Broken Truth" for friends. Because it's just that good.

Today we dashed home post-walk in time to intercept TinyTuna's cousin. GramTuna and I were taking them to "Chemistry Days" at a local science museum. Woah! The place was jam-packed. It was a pretty cool event overall, geared towards kids and scout troops. First of all, it was free (ALWAYS a bonus), and there were probably around 20 different stations where you could watch, learn or participate in different experiments. If you completed 8 (on a punch card) you got a free patch. Of course we did. We watched them suck air out of marshmallows and Halloween Pumpkin Peeps, we tried to catch soap bubbles that had dry ice gas inside, we guessed acids and bases, we watched the effects of liquid nitrogen as it froze a bouncy ball, a flower and a rubber band, we made Cartesian well-divers to take home, and we got a prism to see a rainbow wherever we looked. I'm sure we did more things too, but you get the idea. I especially loved the table that was "Chemistry Women of Tunaville University." I tried to make a big deal out of the fact that this was a girl-power table, but I don't think the two boy scouts in front of us were buying it. All in all, it was a lot of fun. At the very least , it was a large improvement over sitting in front of the TV all morning (which we wouldn't have done anyway).

Post-chemistry, it was off to Johnny Rockets for hot dogs, burgers, and doing the Love Shack dance once again with the staff. Even though "JRs" as I call it is a chain, we've been there enough that we know or at least recognize alot of the staff. The head waiter -- who must never get a day off -- always whispers to TinyTuna and asks if she's ready. Cousin Tuna opted to watch the dance, which I'm sure made TinyTuna secretly very happy. Nothing like having two competitive, Type-A, first-born personalities to deal with. Yeesh said the laid back Type-B Tuna. Lunch? Yummy as always.

We're home now (obviously). I finally pulled out the Halloween decorations, and yes, I consider that a victory. If they make it out of the basement before Halloween, it's close enough for me. I put one of my pumpkin candles right next to my uh, well...My stained glass nativity scene. Ok. I admit it. I never put it away last year. Hee! I try, you know? I'd like to see a Martha Stuart show that wasn't about decorating, but instead was about moving 10 piles of junk in the basement to get to the area where you think you MAY have put the decorations from last year. I know, I know. Martha would never be so disorganized. Hers would be individually wrapped in tissue paper, rolled in bubble wrap, packed in decorative orange and black containers and clearly marked for the following year. But in my house, the tissue paper gets stuffed into last-minute birthday bags, the bubble wrap gets stomped on by TinyTuna (GreenTuna believes that method to be tres gauche and prefers the individually hand-popped method), and I never think of buying an enormo-halloween themed tupperware bin until oh, say January. This year, the decorations were found crammed carefully in several plastic trick-or-treat pumpkins that were stashed in a box. Hey, at least I found them. And they'll most likely stay up until oh, mid December. I am not a slave to the calendar.

TinyTuna and Cousin are in the other room watching TV. They have to agree on whatever they watch -- it's just another one of my many rules. I don't do the "let's take turns" deal, because then you have one happy, gloating child, and a room full of pissed off kids ready to spit in their chocolate milk. So they stand in front of the tapes and DVDs and discuss each option with all the seriousness of an international summit roll call. "Lion King?" "I agree." "I disagree." "Peter Pan?" I disagree. I disagree. On and on it goes until they hit an "I agree" all the way around. Sometimes we have to take a couple spins through the list before they reach consensus. Now, I have nothing against kids making deals, because hey, compromise is part of life. Overall though, the "agreeing" policy works pretty well, because mean mom says they don't watch anything until they've reached a resolution. The TV-off rule moves things along nicely.

Other than that, the two are coloring like crazy. They are drawing pumpkins on paper plates, cutting them out with TinyTuna's "special" (ragged edged or decorative) scissors, gluing them to plain white paper and then decorating the paper. I'll have a fully decorated house soon. Meanwhile, I'm off to do battle with a chemistry experiment of my own -- my fridge.

More later.
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Friday, October 24, 2003

Ramblin' Road

It's true. I don't want to work anymore today. I'm just making sure the carpeting doesn't roll up under my feet for the next two hours. Don't snicker...It's an important job. I may even multi-task and sort my recycling at the same time. Yay me!

Survivor last night? It was great. Best moment? Not from the castaways. Not from Probst. From TinyTuna. She and I watch Survivor in my bedroom. She lays on my bed and watches, and I sit in my chair and watch while I chat on Hamster Time. At one point early in the show, I must have been chatting and looking away from the screen. An enormous GASP comes forth from TinyTuna. I stop. "What? What? What happened?" I ask. TinyTuna starts shaking her head slowly. Here comes the Melodrama (we call it "Mellydrama"). "Oh mom," she says. "Jon just did something entirely RUDE!" "What?" I ask. TinyTuna looks at me with her most serious look: Eyebrows jacked up to the heavens and eyes as wide as plates, and exclaims (with pauses between each word):

"Middle. Finger. UP!"

I crack up. But I regain my composure quickly. It's good that she thinks that "middle finger up" is an Emily Post don't. I shake my head in sync with her. Jon isn't very nice, we agree. Later, TinyTuna pulls out her journal. She tells me she is going to write about Survivor. I say ok. She adds, "but I'm only going to talk about nice things. Not Middle Finger Up Things." I tell her that's a good idea. We shouldn't write about those things. Well, she shouldn't -- I just did.

I get emails from an organization called Emergency Email. It was one of those things that I think got started up post 9-11. Maybe it was around earlier. I don't know. It sends out alerts about lots of different things: severe weather, natural disasters and the Homeland Security color du jour --so you can be sure your socks don't clash. I just got one this afternoon, and hoo boy, it's a message I've never seen before:


Now, I don't know why. But I started laughing. A lot. First of all, I love it that emergency letters are all in CAPS. Caps mean it is IMPORTANT. Caps mean, "listen up. WE'RE NOT KIDDING. Hey! Parental revelation. It has just occurred to me: TinyTuna leads her life with the Caps Lock on. (see: MIDDLE. FINGER. UP!!) Anyway. A Geomagnetic storm. It sounds very science fictiony to me. Beware one and all. Your cell phone might not work. Oh the horror! The humanity!!

Look people. My cell phone loses its signal whenever it damn well pleases. It doesn't take much: A bridge, A hill, A shrub, hell, it could be a shadow. If it feels like Schwarzeneggering my conversation, it does, and without the courtesy of WARNING ME ahead of time. Emergency guys? I think us savvy cell phone people are pretty used to their phones not working. After three or four minutes of yelling "Are you still there??" we figure it out, hang up and call a few minutes later. Not that big a deal. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the fact that the Emergency guys care enough to send me their very best. But you know what's even better than the big scary warning? It's a link to their web page, so I can learn me all about sunspots and geomagnetic storms. Hmmm. I feel a current event coming on.
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One of my many pet peeves is the overuse of the word "Word!" in conversation. It mean -- or at least I interpret it to mean -- "I agree with what you just said." Knowing full well that I am behind the times in hip phrases and slang, I asked my boyfriend Google about the word "Word". I jumped over to the International Slang Word and Phrase Dictionary to make sure I was correct in my interpretation of "word".
Word having the final say in an argument.

Not as close as I thought. I've never associated it with an argumentative situation. I've always thought of it as a more friendly "Amen Brother" kind of thing. The Online Slang Dictionary courtesy of Berkeley suggests the following:
Word exclamation 1. an affirmation of agreement. (Question: "I'm going to the movies tonight, dawg - you want to go?" Response: "Word!") Submitted by Slink, FL, USA, 02-04-1998. 2. When used as a question, equivalent to "Are you serious?" ("Statement: "I met Michael Jackson!" Response: "Word?" Submitted by Jasmine, Washington Twp., NJ, USA, 06-12-2002.

That seems closer, although I don't think I've ever seen or heard it used as a question. SlangSite says
Word I agree.
Example: Somebody says something, you say word.

One phrase. Heck, it's just one word. With three different interpretations.

Words can be tricky. Ask General William Boykin. He's in a heap of trouble over a few verbal bombs he has dropped over the past few weeks, and now he is under internal investigation. It's not surprising to me (although it is to him, go figure) that he finds himself in the proverbial verbal doghouse. His central argument with the world at large was based on the classic nanny-nanny boo-boo philosophy "mine is bigger than yours" ("Mine" meaning God), and those words aren't going to sit very well with a large segment of the population. Predictably, Boykin is now singing the familiar song of last defense: "I was taken out of context, Doo-dah, Doo-dah". Uh huh.

Words don't give you a chance for a mulligan (that's a "do-over" in golf-speak) if you screw up. Once you've said them, you're stuck with them. If your words are smart, or witty, or thought provoking or humorous, this can be a good thing. But if they are insensitive ("Watch that little monkey run!"--Jimmy the Greek), boneheaded ("What a waste it is to lose ones mind --Dan Quayle), stupid ("I did not have sex with that woman" --Bill Clinton) or cruel ("I will pursue as my primary goal in life the killer or killers. They are out there somewhere" --O.J. Simpson), you may be spending a long time explaining yourself over and over again. You can apologize, beg forgiveness, say you were misquoted, or taken out of context, but words stick to you forever. Even after you're gone, your words live on. Doo-dah. Doo-dah.

Despite my excessive electronic ramblings to the contrary, I am not sure I'd categorize myself as being a person of a great many words. I enjoy getting my zings in where and when I can, and certainly there are times when I need to be clunked on the head with a shut-up anvil, or taken to task with a giant delete button. But overall, I prefer to have my actions do the talking. I'd rather listen first and talk second. I would hope that my words would support and not contradict my behavior. I'm not saying actions cannot be misinterpreted as well. But over the length of days, which is more powerful and more meaningful --- what a person says, or what a person does?

As I am currently caught in the struggle over the interpretation of words, I have come to realize how powerful words can be. Over the past several weeks, I have listened to and read the words of people exhorting their expert opinion on the exact, irrefutable meaning of words. Interestingly, in many cases, the level of expertise appears to have a direct correlation to the personal perception of power -- educational, social, financial. These words somehow are thought to carry more weight than others. These opinions matter more than others. Words. Words. Words.

But in the end, it's just words. And if there is anything I've learned and worked so hard to instill in TinyTuna, it's the fact that while words are a good first step, it's the next step that really counts. It's what you do. It's the actions that back up your words. It's Missouri. TinyTuna gets it, even when she'd rather not. "I know mom. It's not just what I say. It's what I do." I only wish adults understood this concept.

Easier said than done?

Actions speak louder than words?
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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Counting Sheep

I need the counting sheep. Now. It is 3:30am. I have to teach all day today, and it's 3:30am and I'm awake. This is bad. I didn't go to bed until midnight. I won't live on three hours sleep plus 10 hours teaching plus an hour drive up and back. This is the second night in a row. Something is up in the windmills of my mind that isn't letting me sleep, and the more I worry about not sleeping, the less sleepy I become. The bad part? I can guarantee that I'll get really, really sleepy around 5:30am, and then I'll only have a half-hour before I have to get up.

While I puttered last night doing not much of anything, I caught the latest West Wing. I thought it was a good episode, centering around a North Korean pianist who wanted to defect. I love it that Bartlett can do musicspeak, even though it seems a bit improbable, only because he seems to be able to do everything. Still in all, he had a great scene as Charlie begged him not to give him a two-hour lecture on this history of Chopin Etudes. It was funny. And yes, unfortunately, there was yet another squicky scene with Josh and Amy. No feet, thankfully. Josh said they needed to "put language to whatever they were doing (relationship-wise)". I'm watching this yelling, "Sick and wrong. The words you want are sick and wrong!" I don't think he heard me. The last scene was great

Dear God
CJ looked absolutely stunning in the last scene.
I want that dress. Of course, you know it means
that I'll also need the body to go with it. As always,
I know you're up to the task.

Thanks lots,
~~Green Tuna.

Bartlett discussed the meaning of the word "Han" while mournful Chopin played in the background. One thing this show knows how to do is use a soundtrack to get the point across. It's the whole "a picture is worth a thousand words" idea, except using music instead of art.

I also caught the new episode of South Park which lampooned both Boy Meets Boy and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Overall it was a great show (Yay! Chef was back and had lines) but I always feel a little (a lot) left out because I don't get QE. Why? Because I don't have digital cable. Why? Because I'm not ready to bow to the corporate cable weasels just yet. So the only time I've gotten a chance to see the show is when NBC deigns to throw me a bone. Still in all, it was a great SP episode, and the word "metrosexual" is sure to creep into our vocabulary soon.

Tonight is Survivor and ER (If I can stay awake that long). I don't have a feeling yet for Survivor -- but I'll be checking the boards during the day (pray for sick students) to see what scoop might be. As for ER, well, I'm kind of meh on the whole show. Will it be a Congo show or a Chicago show? I don't know. All I know is it would be a pleasant change of pace if it was a good show. I'm not holding my breath.

OK -- pray for sleepiness.
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Pride Cometh Before the Fall(s)

Hoooo boy! Do we have a current event for TinyTuna today. It has it all -- death defying feats, national landmarks, eyewitnesses, survival, rescue, ambulances and arrests. Yes, my friends, another idiot from the glorious state of Michigan, in a pathetic attempt to "make some money" went over the Niagara Falls, and lived to be arrested at the bottom. Either the Niagara Barrel Company was completely sold out, or this guy was in a time crunch, because our hero went over the falls au naturale -- No barrel, no container, no nothing. Just his pants, shirt, and undies, which must have been a mess by the time he got to the bottom. It's interesting to note the undeniable jealousy coming from a man they interviewed who has gone over the falls in a barrel twice himself. He claimed the fact that this guy used no "device" in going over the falls "cheapens the legend". I wasn't aware there was an idiot etiquette book, but hey, if you say so. So thanks, Michigan, for giving us yet another moronic representative for our lovely state. Niagara guy, you go over and stand next to the Unibomber, Mmmmkay?

In other watery news, I was just reading a blurb in Newsweek that said right before Hurricane Isabel, Pop-Tart sales rose over 20%. Wow! Personally, I would worry they would get soggy in Hurricane weather. Heck, I would worry they would get soggy in high humidity. But maybe that little tin-foily wrapper is stronger than I thought. Now, the lowly Pop-Tart has gotten quite a bit of press over the years, particularly for it's ability to burst into flames while in the toaster. If you ask my boyfriend Google about "Pop Tarts", you get over 70,000 responses:

1 A scientific description of "The Flaming Poptart Experiment" (courtsey of our friends at that Maize and Blue School down the road. Yick)

2 A flaming Pop-Tart experiment complete with Video Footage

3 The usual corporate advertisements of the Pop-Tart brand. Look at all the flavors! There is one called "Wild Magic Burst". I have no idea what flavor that would be, but I'm guessing it was named by a former employee of the Crayola Crayon factory.

4 Pop-Tart nutritional information courtesy of the drugstore chain Walgreens. Now what, do you suppose, would possess Walgreen's to devote a webpage to the nutritional value of Pop Tarts? I don't know either. But I do know one lowly tart (Frosted Strawberry, in this case) is 200 calories, 5 grams of fat and 38 grams of carbs. Yikes. Maybe burning it, rather than eating it, is a better course of action.

But, back to the Hurricane. So humanity at large, seeing a large wall of water approaching land, decided en masse, "we'd better go out and get some Pop-Tarts, and fast! I find this fascinating. The Newsweek article claimed that Pop-Tarts fit the bill of being a "high-energy, stress/comfort food." Really. Not that I have spent much time thinking about this, since the likelihood of a hurricane in Michigan is well, rather low, but if I made a list, I'm not sure Pop-Tarts would be on it. They could get wet from the rain, they could get soggy from the humidity, or they could catch on fire in the toaster. Seems pretty risky choice to me. Next time I'm on vacation in Hatteras, I'm going to ask the local grocery outlets if they noticed an increase in Pop Tart sales. It sounds like research to me. And another current event topic for tomorrow.

What high-energy, stress/comfort food would you pack?
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Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Can I tell you how happy I am when I have a sick student? "Why, mean voice teacher?" I hear your ask. Because, I teach from 9 am until 7 pm with no breaks. My poor McDonald's hash brown has long since worn out it's usefulness, and I'm ready to gnaw on a shoe about now. So when my student tells me "I have an upper resperatory infection" (the favorite diagnosis of the Scottish Tunas) I shoo-shoo them away. I don't want them to be sick, but I count on at least one student a day to come down with the crud. So far today I've had two!
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Tunas-1, Utah-0

So. GramTuna was outside last night slapping in daffodil bulbs as fast as she can. I have been regrettably delayed because I discover I have fourth-grade homework to do. Earthquakes. Draw a picture of what you imagine may have happened with the great earthquake of April 8, 1999 that happened near the Russian Chinese border. With no damage or injuries reported, I don't know what kind of imagination the teacher thinks we have. How should TinyTuna depict subtonic plates? Yeah. I didn't know either. Thank Google for Google. I had to Google the longitude and latitude of the quake because all my globes and atlases were in the wash. Whatever. It's done.

Once my earthquake assistance was no longer required, I strolled outside to alert GramTuna to the fact that it took longer than I thought, and most likely I would not be assisting in the deep-sixing of the tulip bulbs tonight. As we chat, I look up. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, was two guys walking down the sidewalk in navy pants, white dress shirts and ties. Uh Oh. RUN!

Note: If you're Mormon, love Mormons, or have a strong distaste for said mockery, you should probably stop reading.

As for the rest of us. When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but two Mormons strolling down the sidewalk. I'm not in the mood. I just struggled with earthquakes for the last 45 minutes. And I most definitely do not need speechifying. I go to church. I'm a religious person. But I don't go around accosting strangers in order to make it to the next level or the inner circle, or whatever it is they are doing. Unfortunately, I make the mistake of making eye contact. Verily, they shout "Good evening! May we come talk to you!" I'm a weenie. I make a hasty exit, stage right. I shoot a look at GramTuna (who misses everything I say, which is too bad, because it was funny) and I tell her "I'm going inside. NOW.....I have to sacrifice a goat." I run inside and feel guilty for abandoning her with the zealot twins. My guilt passes. Quickly.

A few minutes later, I venture outside once again. The Wonder Twins are gone, and I'm cracking up. GramTuna shakes her head. She said they offered to help. She said no thank you. She said they wanted to talk to her. She said no thank you. They wanted to know on which side of the duplex she lived. She gives me a deadpan look, makes that itty-bitty sign with two fingers, and says, "I was THIS CLOSE to saying Which Side?? The INSIDE!" I fall over laughing. She said they wanted to talk to her neighbor. She tells them they already did. "Didn't they hear my crack about sacrificing a goat?" I ask, disappointedly. Nope, they missed it. Damn. I hate it when a good punch line floats by, but by the same token, if they had heard it, my net gain would have been an additional 15 minutes of sidewalk sermonizing. By now I can see the prophet boys across the street. I just don't get this whole thing about wandering for years on end, preaching the Gospel according to Donny and Marie. It isn't the wilderness, afterall, it's just TunaVille.

And yeah, I'll probably burn for this. Please don't send me letters about being insensitive. I am an equal opportunity mocker, and feel no qualms about zinging anybody, even (or especially) the home team Episcopalians. But for the next couple days, I'm going to keep laughing about "Which Side? The Inside!" That's right up there with the classic Jehovah's Witness comeback: "But I didn't see the accident."
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Monday, October 20, 2003

Cowboys, Shmowboys

So, Tracientx is over at her blog doing a big ole gloating two-step atop of my poor, pathetic Lions. Well, I might be more impressed with the Cowboys if, it wasn't the Lions. These days, the Lions would be seriously challenged by a PeeWee Flag Football league. Poor Kitties. I hope they aren't taking suckitude lessons from the Tigers. Want to bet how soon TinyTuna comes home saying "The Lions Suck"? Yeah, probably today.

Speaking of cowboys -- so what's up with this new The Next Joe Millionaire International deal? Oh my Lord. If you haven't checked out the ad, hop on over to the Fox website . It even has a sing-along theme song with light-up words so you don't get lost. Fox execs shout, "Spare no expense!" Yay us! While the fake Johnny Cash wannabe (shame on you) sings his baritone yee-haw song, a cartoon silhouette cowboy dude (all cowboys are dudes, aren't they) rides along the animated trail. In the background are cacti and other Southwest type things (excluding box cutters and silly putty). On the bottom of the screen you see a little dotted line along a map. In case he gets lost I guess. Suddenly, the cactus are gone and he's galloping past the Eiffel Tower! Woah there pardner -- I didn't see that horse jump over the Atlantic. Hrm. Maybe they're saving that for tonight's show.

Finally the cowboy arrives at the Fox website. He keeps changing from his Levi Strauss Yee-Haw clothes to Tuxedo Junction finery. I have no idea what that means. But I'm leaving it in. Moving along. He's got a bio. Oh joy. Now let's find out the real story.

Q - What are the most important qualities you look for a in a woman?
A - Athletic, honest, pure

Pure? Pure how, exactly? Ivory soap pure? Buddy, if you are going on a dating show, I'd think pure wouldn't be a high priority. Pure as the driven snow? I suggest you shoot for the driven on snow. Don't believe me? Ask Evan and toe-sucking Sarah. Slurrrp.

Q - Describe your perfect date.
A - A good girl that likes to do things. Talk & outside activities

Back to the "good girl" thing again. Buddy. Even the Swiss Miss is a hottie. But I love the rest of the sentence. "that likes to do things." What things? Half my brain screams X-rated answers. Half my brain mocks Cowboy Joe mercilessly. Half my brain thinks I should be working now. Shut up third half of my brain. "Do things." "Do things" as opposed to "do nothing?" I must admit that having coma girl for a date wouldn't be "good TV" (as they say in the biz), so I'll ride with you on that one.

Q - Do you want to have children someday, if so, how many?
A - Yes, but not anytime soon. I’m only 24 and that would be hard on my rodeo dream

International Ho-testant: "Oooh La La Cowboy Joe. Zee Amour eez zee toujours. Let us do things togezer.....Mmmmm, slurp.
Cowboy Joe: "Git along little dogie! Your buckaroo is hard on my rodeo dream. YeeeHaw!"

Q - What was your favorite part about being on Joe Millionaire?
A - I got to see the world and meet a great group of girls and learn culture/

Yes, that is what is says. "Learn culture/" Was it the end of a sentence? Did he mean cultural .... something? Learn the meaning of life? Learn how to jump his horse over the Atlantic ocean without being hard on his rodeo dream? Fox! Do not torment us so.

Q - What surprised you the most about the girls?
A - Different cultures, how they take things, greetings

Methinks Cowboy Joe and his horse don't get out much. Different cultures? Was he surprised there were cultures other than Texas? A world unto itself, I know. Ba-DUMP-bump. But the next statement really intriguess me. "How they take things." Back in the gutter I go! He can't really mean it that way, because then his international Ho-deo roundup wouldn't be too pure, now would they? I know. Maybe he means coffee. Greetings? I guess he hasn't seen Sesame Street. Or Dr. Seuss. Whatever. "Cat. Hat. In French Chat chapeau. In Spanish, Don Gato in a Sombrero. In German I'm a Katze in a Hut and dontcha know, I'm a bunka in a bunkakwunk in Eskimo!"

Q - If you actually were very wealthy, what would you do with the money?
A - Buy a ranch and cows and just raise cows and sell calves. Be a cowboy.

Did you notice anything missing in that answer? How about a female? Oops. I had better be more specific. How about a human female? Anyone? Anyone? Buehler?? Absent. Nosirree Bob. Cowboy Joe wants Cows. Buy a ranch. Buy a cow. Big cows. Little cows. Go cows, go. Cows on a ranch. Raise the cows. On the ranch. Sell the calves. On the ranch with the cows. Be a cowboy. With cows. On a ranch. Moooo.

Q - What's your favorite food?
A -Momma's porcupine balls. AKA stuffed peppers.

I make stuffed peppers. We call them "stuffed peppers". Momma's porcupine balls. I think Momma should team up with Chef. They could have a whole "ball" meal. Porcupine balls, and then Chef's Salty Chocolate Balls for Dessert. Yum. YeeHaw!

So, that's our boy. Cowboy Joe. Or Joe Cowboy. Actually his name is David Smith, but I think I'll call him Cowboy Joe. I didn't catch the name of his horse. But I'll catch it tonight at 8pm on Fox. The network of mind-numbing, mockery filled television. I love it.

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Things That Make You Go Hmmm

I'm preparing a new piece of music to be sent to the bindery (and yes, amazingly enough, it is taking me precisely ten minutes!). It is called "In Alaska". But check out the dedication note: This choral arrangement of In Alaska is dedicated blah blah blah for their beautiful performance of this work in Story City, Iowa... blah blah blah.

So a choir in Iowa premiered this piece that extols the beauty of Alaska? I don't know why I find this humorous, but I do. I hope they didn't sing it during the Iowa State Fair or something. That would be like the Tunaville Choir singing the praises of, oh I don't know...Chickenville or something.

Carry on.
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Sunday, October 19, 2003

Everyone Hail to the Pumpkin Song

First of all, I lied. Our Peter Paul & Mary tickets are for next Sunday, not today.

So, we are duly pumpkined and patched, cidered and doughnutted and it's now officially Halloween season. Why? Because I said so! Here in Tunaville, it was a drop-dead gorgeous day, so the Cider Mill was a veritable sea of humanity. Still in all, it was a very nice afternoon, and a great day to be outside. All the way up and back, we were singing along with the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack. If you haven't seen this movie -- you should. It's a Tim Burton film, featuring the music (and voice) of Danny Elfman, plus Catherine O'Hara (Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show), Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman) and others. For those of you who know this little gem, TinyTuna does an awesome Oogie Boogie. If anybody is a billionaire and doesn't know what to do with their money, I've always thought this would make one kick-ass Broadway musical. Why? Because I said so!

Tonight I got my Scottish Tuna's exams graded and submitted all the midterm grades. This weekend I award myself a passing grade on the getting-stuff-done-ometer. Lots of laundry done, Dishes mostly done, pumpkins bought, and I've gone through another milk crate of old papers. There is hope, yet.

Meanwhile, it seems there is no hope for the Lions again this season. Why? Because I said so. And because we lost another one. So, which is worse? Losing to the Cowboys, or losing to Bill Parcells? Actually it doesn't matter which you think is worse, because it's double whammy day. Parcells now coaches the Cowboys. I don't know why, but somehow it seems wrong. Bring back Tom Landry. Just prop him up in the corner. Well, eww. On second thought, let's stay away from the dead guy stuff. Vampires, you know. Maybe we could just prop up his hat.
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Pick One

First, of all, Ewww.
You are Form 9, Vampire: The Undying.

"And The Vampire was all that remained on the blood drowned creation. She attempted to regrow life from the dead. But as she was about to give the breath of life, she was consumed in the flame of The Phoenix and the cycle began again."

Some examples of the Vampire Form are Hades (Greek) and Isis (Egyptian). The Vampire is associated with the concept of death, the number 9, and the element of fire. Her sign is the eclipsed moon.

As a member of Form 9, you are a very realistic individual. You may be a little idealistic, but you are very grounded and down to earth. You realize that not everything lasts, but you savor every minute of the good times. While you may sometimes find yourself lonely, you have strong ties with people that will never be broken. Vampires are the best friends to have because they are sensible.

Which Mythological Form Are You?
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Second of all. Ewww. Quizzes and I never seem to get along. I can remember being in High School and taking one of those tests which is supposed to assist you in picking a career path. The results were plotted on a sort of circular-grid thing. My dot? Right smack dab in the middle. Where it says "Your options are open" or something equally maddening and unhelpful. But back to this quiz. Vampires. Yick. I don't want to be a vampire. Vampires are just kind of ewww. It's interesting that "Vampires are the best friends" ... I guess that's true if you don't mind the whole neck biting blood sucking part. Hmm.. Blood sucking friends. Maybe this isn't as far off as I thought. Kidding! I don't like Vampires. They give me the willies. I don't even watch Buffy, which I know makes me an outcast among many. I did, however, buy Uber-Auntie Tuna the first couple seasons of Buffy on DVD. That should count for something.

So, forget the vampire thing. Today we are off to the pumpkin patch for apple ciders, fresh doughnuts and ... pumpkins! It will require the usual wagon ride out into the midst of pumpkin field number 12, and then, if the line isn't too long, a horse and wagon ride to go around the apple orchards. I'm always equally fascinated in watching the apple cider press work. Smooosh! It's pretty cool.

Of course, right about now, I'd rather option out and take a nap. Wonder if I can get in a half-hour quickie before we leave? Nap, that is....
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Saturday, October 18, 2003

Follow the Logic Brick Road

No wonder my head hurts. I sat down tonight and looked over the Friday edition of the University news. The front page headline reads: Bible Week Resolution Debated. You can read the entire article for yourself, but allow me to recap: The Tunaville city council approved a resolution recognizing the last week of November, as “Bible Week.” Predictably, some members of Tunaville thought this was a bonehead idea, because it violated all sorts of principles, including that pesky separation of church and state. Equally predictably, the elected members began to backpedal as fast as they possibly could.

In defending the resolution, the Mayor of Tunaville said, "This simply says for those individuals who wish to read the Bible during the week, it's a good week to do it." Another Tunaville official assured the citizens that the city doesn't directly endorse the week and won't host any activities.

So, by approving this resolution, what Tunaville officials are really doing is checking their calendars. When the last weekend of November rolls around, they point and say “There it is! I recognize it! It’s right over there! I’d recognize that week anywhere.” But would the officials then alert the citizenry to the fact that this would be a good week to dust off King James and read all the begats? No, I think not. We might confuse alerting with endorsing, and then we’d have a big mess on our hands. I suppose the Tuna council would have to wait until its citizenry wondered aloud if they should read their bible. At this point, the Tuna government at large might be heard to mumble loudly in reply, “it’s a good week to do it” to no one in particular -- lest they be accused of endorsing any activities.

By following this logic, approving a resolution by recognition does not mean endorsing a resolution by action. Ergo, the Tunaville Council could approve anything under the sun, because it means --- Nothing. The council could approve a resolution recognizing the sixth week of Octember as “Stomp on a squirrel week.” It doesn’t mean they endorse squirrel stomping. Au contraire. It simply means, if you, as a citizen, were contemplating stomping on a squirrel, it would be a good week to do it.

But what if your schedule was just too booked for squirrel stomping? What if you were out of town? Would the following week be a good week to do it as well, or would it somehow be inferior – or worse – would it be unrecognizable?

Official #1: What is that citizen doing?
Official #2: It looks as if he is taking large steps atop a small furry rodent with a large fluffy tail.
Official #1: What does it mean?
Official #2: I don’t know sir. If he had done it last week, I’d surely recognize it. But today, it simply confuses me.

Furthermore, where’s the excitement in doing something when everybody else is doing it at the same time? Squirrel stomping wouldn’t be half the fun if the entire city was doing it during the same week. It would just be messy. Activities like squirrel stomping should be spread out among the citizenry. I’ll stomp squirrels this week. You stomp squirrels next week. It’s twice the fun. However, maybe other activities, like oh say, Bible reading, shouldn’t be confined to a single seven-day period. I bet The Holy Powers that Be think the last week of November is indeed a good week to read the bible. But I bet they also think the following week is a good week too…and the week after that. I honestly don't think, though, that our illustrious Tunaville mayor has to worry about endorsing much of anything during the last week of Novemember. Our major concerns are: Turkey and stuffing, the Lion’s point spread against Green Bay, and being one of the first 200 people through the door at 5:00am for the Day-After-Thanksgiving Day Christmas Sales.

Let us pray.
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Friday, October 17, 2003

Autumn Leaves

I'm having a warm and fuzzy type day. The weather, although chilly, is sunny. This makes for good leaf scuffling. Leaf scuffling is a required activity of mine in the fall. You cannot scuffle in leaves after it rains, because all you get is cold, wet shoes. The weather has been sufficiently dry for the past couple days, and windy too -- meaning new, dry leaves just perfect for scuffling. Working on a campus that is loaded with trees (seriously, one of the most beautiful campuses in the country), in another couples weeks, groundskeepers will be blowing the leaves into massive piles and then driving the huge leaf sucking vacuum around to pick them all up. True fact: Piles of leaves are depressing. The leaves don't like it -- they've told me so. I don't like it either. If you put them in piles, they get soggy, which in turn causes inferior scuffling. Leafy piles also get wormy, which is just eww. So, if the piles of leaves are dry? I free them from their leafy bondage by scuffling right through the middle of them. That's me. A leaf rebel.

Reading through Tracientx's blog and her excitement over finding a Schoolhouse Rock video, I couldn't help but start singing half the songs I know. Well, I know most of them. We have the complete Schoolhouse series on DVD. Last summer on the way to Hatteras, TinyTuna played them over and over again. I didn't mind. Who could ever tire of "Conjunction Junction, what's your function?" Not me! Besides, ask me to recite the Preamble? Well, I couldn't. But I could probably sing it. Thanks, Schoolhouse Rock!

I love those things that have the power to transport you back to the good memories you carry from your childhood. Every semester I play Puff, the Magic Dragon for my college kids. It is the funniest thing you'll ever seen. They all simultaneously "awwwww" and start singing. That, my friends, is the power of music. Speaking of which, Gram, TinyTuna and I have PP&M tickets for this Sunday night. Sweeeeeet! The last time we saw them was a summer concert where we had lawn seats. Unfortunately, we were sitting near a bunch of drunken heathens, more interested in talking loudly to each other, or on their cellphones. A shut-up anvil was needed that evening.

I'm ready to go home now. Only two and a half hours to go. With no baseball games tonight, what do you suppose the chances are that NBC will air their regular lineup?
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Queen for a Day

Thank God and all that. I'm beat and ready for the weekend. My restful day of from teaching resulting in being slammed at work, and then having to shop for the dreaded Halloween costume. I'll cut to the chase: We got the costume. But not without visiting four separate places and having a near meltdown in the Disney Store.

We tried generic department store number one. No costumes unless you're an infant. I could have guessed that. The saleswoman suggested Target. Off to Target. Where are the costumes? As far away from the front door as humanly possible. Hours later, we reach the costumes. Pickings are slim, and the largest size is a kids medium. This won't work. TinyTuna is getting sad. We decide to go to the Disney store to buy the rose crown we had seen earlier. Hello Disney store. Rose crowns? Sold out. It figures. Well, let's look at what's left. The answer? Not much. The usual array of "princess dresses" (sparkly, big poofy skirt kind of thing, huge twirl factor) go for about $34. It's more than I want to pay by a mile, but at this point, I'm ready to grab one and bail. TinyTuna spots a frock. Wowzer. Very fancy-shmancy. I call it "Betsy Ross Goes to the Prom." We try it on. TinyTuna is in heaven. She is alternately curtseying, promenading and grand jetee-ing all over the store. My eyes are rolling to the back of my head. GramTuna notices the sign says 33% off. I'm thinking ok, this could be my savior. But then -- You knew this was coming, didn't you -- GramTuna takes another look at the rack of these particular dresses. Evidently, these aren't "regular" princess dresses. These are "deluxe" princess dresses. And you guessed it, they come with one deluxe price tag. This sucker is $85. I am not kidding. Even at 33% off, you are talking in the neighborhood of $57, plus tax. No way in hell. I stop TinyTuna in mid-leap. I explain the cost of the dress. Tears. I explain that like lots of things, we have to choose how we spend our money. Tears. I tell her we aren't going to buy this dress. It wouldn't even fit her in another six months, and it is way too much to spend on one piece of clothing that she will wear for 2 hours. More tears. To her credit, though, she took the dress off, and said she understood as we trudged sadly back to the car.

Note: I did NOT explain to her that the actual cost of material for this dress was probably $5, and they probably paid some 14 year old kid a quarter an hour to sew the thing. Disney? You have more money than you know what to do with. Mickey says price gouging sucks.

GramTuna, meanwhile, has lost her mind. She attempts to engage TinyTuna in "let's think of other things we can be for Halloween. You don't HAVE to be princesses." I wonder if GramTuna is on crack. GramTuna launches her "we could get a big flannel shirt, and a hat, and you could get some straw and a big pillow and you could be a scarecrow" routine. I nearly laugh out loud. The silence from TinyTuna is deafening. No scarecrow. No to the pirate idea, No to the wear a box and be a Christmas Present idea, No to the football player idea. I'm keeping my mouth shut.

Next. Local store of we-clear-everything-else-out-once-a-year-to-sell-Halloween-Crap. Well, there are costumes here. We grab several bags of the generic queen / princess / fancy dancer variety that have long twirly skirts. She finds one. She likes it. Thank God. I'd tell you what or who it is but I don't recall. TinyTuna is calling herself "Queen Isabella". Good enough for me. She wants to wear it home. Nope, says mean mom. She wants to put it on as soon as she gets home. Fine, says had enough of Halloween for another calendar year mom. TinyTuna is thrilled. GreenTuna makes a beeline for the hard lemonade. GramTuna wins because she is not a princess (she is a queen. SNORT). TinyTuna wins because she has a long twirly dress with shiny sparkly gold trim (she tells me "it will look beautiful in the moonlight." Whatever). GreenTuna wins because there are four more hard lemonades in the fridge, and Survivor is on. All is right with the world.

More later. I promise.
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Thursday, October 16, 2003

Notable Quotables

First. Huzzah! It's Thursday and I'm not driving up north. My precious Scottish Tunas have a "Fall Break", which translates to "a long weekend", which means I get the day off. It's the halfway point of the semester. Time flies. Today at work I am going to finally compile the figures for my statistical fiction I talked about awhile ago. As soon as I finish writing. And running to the bathroom. And going to lunch. And answering questions. And. And. And. Who am I kidding?

Fact: Last fiscal year I sent 1613 items to be bound
Fiction: Each item took 10 minutes to process
Calculator: 16,130 minutes or ~270 hours
Monthly Average: 22.5 hours / month or ~5.5 hours per week.
You know. I think that sounds good. My work here is done.

Second. Cubs. Poor guys. Even in my limited interest of baseball I feel sorry for the Cubs. I even feel sorry for the poor Schlub who went for the pop fly and is now the whipping boy for the entire state of Illinois. Yes, hindsight says he should have kept his hands to himself. But if you check the instant replay, it certainly looks like there are about 15 pairs of hands going for the same ball. So, I think you should give the guy a break. Besides, it could be worse. Your team could be the Detroit Tigers. Pee-U!

So. TinyTuna. She was ticked off this morning. Why? Mean mom made her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for her lunch instead of the Holy Spaghetti-O's of Antioch "with meat" (meaning hot dogs). Why, mean mom? Why do you treat your child so poorly? Because she has been warned that she needs to empty out her lunch box every day and get her Spaghetti-O thermos thing in the sink to be washed. She already got her "I forgot" mulligan earlier this week. So today, the threat stuck like peanut butter to the roof of your mouth (MWFFFWH!). And she was mad. Too bad. She knows I don't make threats without carrying through. I bet she'll remember her thermos from now on. Or at least for a good long while. This mom thing -- the being in charge, rule maker thing is interesting to me. Not in a Napoleonic "Thank God I finally have someone to boss around" kind of way. More in a "what I say goes" kind of way. So I have to be careful what I say.

If you have kids, this probably makes sense. If you have a dog, well, you still get to be the master and be in charge, but you could make up whatever words you wanted. For instance, you say "NEE!", and your dog would bring your slippers. Or a shrubbery. Your commands have power, but the actual words? Not so important. If you have a cat, well you can forget everything. Cats don't have masters. Cats have a staff. You can say whatever you want to a cat, and it will either roll over and go back to sleep or say, "Were you talking to me? You were? Ah, good. Now that I have your attention, bring me some kitty treats. And my scratching post. And my little fishing pole toy with the feather on the end. And my slippers. NEE!" You see, it's just not the same.

But when it comes to kids, what you say counts. And how you say it counts too. One of the most horrifying days of early motherhood came when I uttered "that which shall not be spoken." TinyTuna and I were no doubt going around and around about something or other. Most likely I either wanted her to do or didn't want her to do something while she wanted the opposite. She would be saying "But why?" a lot in this conversation. Finally out of exasperation, I blurted out "Because I said so!!" Gasp. It was the sentence. The dreaded sentence. The hated sentence from my childhood. And I said it.

And it felt good.

It felt good. It felt good because I was out of reasons. I was tired of the circular conversation. I wanted it to end. So I said it. "Because I said so" is the ultimate parental armor. Kids will do anything to find a breach in your defense. Everything they do or say is a tiny attack *Pwang!*--> ricocheting off your parental armor --|*THUNK*.

Q "Mom, can I have TWO Kit Kats in my lunch (huge cheezy smile) *PWANG!*-->
A No. --|*THUNK*

Q"Mom, can I stay up an extra half hour? Pleasepleasepleasepleaseplease?" *PWANG!*--> *PWANG!*--> *PWANG!*-->
A No. --|*THUNK*

A NO. --|*THUNK*

Q "Pretty Pleeeze?" *PWANG!*-->
A NO! --|*THUNK*

Q "But whyyyyyeeeeee not?? *PWANG!*-->
A Because.I.Said.So. ----| |||WHUUMMMP|||

Block of concrete. It's the ultimate defense. It's Volcano in Rock-Paper-Scissors. Game over.

And I don't know what it is that makes it so powerful. Maybe it is instinct. I think most kids know there is no use in going any further. Most kids know that attempting to breach the block of concrete "Because I said so" defense, would prompt the FirstName-MiddleName-LastName (or just "Buster" in my house which was equally ominous) anvil of great big trouble.

Most Kids know. But TinyTuna? She knows the game. She knows how to work around it (*PWANG!*-->) so she won't draw the block of concrete defense. She managed to figure out, at an early age, how to keep asking for something, but in a slightly different manner every time I say no.

TinyTuna It sure is hot out here.
GreenTuna Yes, it is.
TinyTuna Are you hot, mom?
GreenTuna Yep, I am.
TinyTuna Would you like some ice cream? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna No thanks. It's close to dinnertime. --| *THUNK*
TinyTuna Ok. Can I have some? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna No. It's close to dinnertime. --| *THUNK*
TinyTuna Can we go to the park and play?
GreenTuna Maybe we could go for a few minutes.
TinyTuna When we go, can we enjoy some ice cream because it's so hot? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna No. It's too close to dinnertime. --| *THUNK*
TinyTuna Don't you think it's nice to enjoy a cool refreshment when it's hot? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna Yes I do. --| *THUNK*
TinyTuna Are you sure you wouldn't like to cool down with some ice cream? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna No Thank You. It's too close to dinner. --| *THUNK*
TinyTuna Could I have just a little? Pleeeeeze? *PWANG!*-->
GreenTuna ASKED AND ANSWERED. --||||||| CRASH |||||||

Asked and Answered. My ultimate defense. TinyTuna hates "Asked and Answered" even more than "Because I Said So." And the best thing? It's an original. It doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile, being Volcano is a good thing. And you can quote me on that.
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Wednesday, October 15, 2003


I love things that take me by surprise. BUT, before you all run behind a door to scare the BeeJeebus out of me, that's not at all the kind of surprise I'm talking about. I'm talking about books, or film or music that seemingly ambles along in one direction, only to reveal, in the end, it was going in an entirely different direction the entire time. And I love it when I don't see it coming. A true surprise.

I loved the movie The Sixth Sense for just that reason. Maybe I was just stupid not to see it coming, but I didn't, and it was a wonderfully delicious ending to the film. This afternoon I'm listening one of my most favorite "surprise" songs. It's from the musical Assassins by Stephen Sondheim. Yep. He wrote an entire musical about assassins. This is no Oklahoma and we aren't in Kansas anymore, Toto. One of the numbers is a beautiful duet called "Unworthy of Your Love." On first listening, you would swear it is a standard Top-40 1970's duet.

I am nothing, You are wind and water and sky, Jodie....
It's pretty. Strumming guitars, tootling flutes, soft saxophones ...
I am nothing, You are wind and devil and God, Charlie....
Take my blood and my body for your love. Let me feel fire, let me drink poison,
Tell me to tear my heart in two, if that's what you want me to do.....

Ughhh. Whuh? Blood and poison and do what....?

It goes downhill from there. Or it soars, depending on your point of view. I LOVE THIS. Why? Musically, it is written as a gentle, generic elevator Muzak kind of piece. Textually, though, it is an incredibly dark, disturbing love duet of John Hinckley (to Jodie Foster) and "Squeaky" Fromme (to Charles Manson). It's the perfect song for two schizo wanna-be assassins, don't you think?
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Quick show of hands – how many of you completed the title with the line from “Die Hard”? You Did. Good for you. Me too. Today is Blog Roundup (ergo Yippee-Cay-Yay xxxxxx xxxxx) Yep. I have no original ideas today (OK, that’s not true, but I wanted to talk about this today), so I’m going to Robin Hood my friend’s blogs. Look there! I turned Robin Hood into a verb. I Robin Hood Blogs. I steal from the rich and give to…me! It’s very Martha Stuart. Oooo! I adjectived her! And Look! I verbed a noun. Take that! And that! And that! Mrs. English teacher! I smited you. No, I smoted you. No, I deaded you with my grammer. And It’s a good thing.

Chefgracegeorge put up some fun Halloween pictures. It’s that time again, isn’t it? TinyTuna very pointedly remarked on Monday that there were 18 more days until Halloween. Sheesh. Even worse, I had to do some quick counting to find out, Lo and Behold, she’s right. Dang it. She keeps dropping hint anvils about the need to finish her costume. All she has is a pair of fairy wings that she got at a festival this summer. Par usual, she is going to be a princess. In order to placate her weary mother, she isn’t going to be a Disney princess. Nope. She is going to be a “fairy rose princess.” This means finding some sort of skirt thing with a twirl factor of 10, and getting the rose crown and wand from (take a wild guess now) The Disney Store! Someone shoot me now. I have to admit, this is one battle I never have the strength to fight. I try every year to get her to be something – anything – besides a princess. I know it’s a losing proposition, but in the grand scheme of things, there are better battles to fight, so I don't make a huge deal out of this one. It’s just that as a kid, and even today, I never cared two cents about what I was for Halloween. All I needed was the shoulder pads from the basement and an oversized shirt. Voila! Football player. Now give me the candy. After all, wasn't that the point? Give me the candy. I don't care what I wear. Just give me the candy (Today it's replaced by "give me the beer."). As I think about it, maybe TinyTuna and I aren’t so far apart. I require shoulder pads; she requires a super twirly skirt. Now, give us the candy.

LifeonHold talked about diet success and the National Do-Not-Call Register. I’m all about anybody’s diet success. Go team! I should be on the bandwagon myself. Yep. I should. Moving along. The DNC Register? I signed up right away. But I also have caller ID, so if they strike down the register, I still won’t be answering my phone. Screw you guys, I ignore you. Someone mentioned the potential increase of Spam if the DNC Register is enacted. I get plenty o’ Spam right now as it is. I even got a Nigerian Bank Spam-o-gram yesterday. Woot! Unfortunately for my financially strapped friends who still manage to send out billions of emails a day, about all they would get out of my bank account is some lint and a few Canadian pennies. And then, they probably wouldn’t even take the pennies. I was once in a McDonalds in the middle of nowhere Virginia, and was told with great disdain, “We don’t take THAT money.” I looked at my hand, thinking I had mistakenly given this guy the money I forgot to exchange when I was on PLUTO. But no, it was a Canadian penny. “But they’re my neighbors to the South!” I wanted to say. But I didn’t, because I was hungry and feared I wouldn’t receive my deep fried breakfast product.

Opheliagh has been regaling us with stories from her childhood diary. (More stories, please!) I can remember trying to have a diary or a journal several times as a child and as an adult, but somehow, it never worked for me. I felt silly writing to … well, me … about things I already did that day. I can remember writing and writing and then thinking, “I already lived this once today. Why talk about it all over again?” And that, always seemed to be the end of that. Looking at the excess verbiage in this blog, it’s apparent that I’m over my journalistic writers block. Maybe having an audience helps. And TinyTuna certainly does her best to keep me supplied with stories to tell.

Rappy posted an awesome link about Big Dumb Idiots (BDIs). I have a great BDI office story. A systems employee (Systems being the branch within the library who does all things computers – installs, repairs, etc. etc.) was assigned to go to every public computer in the library (we’re talking four floors – a lot!) each morning and make sure that each computer and printer was functioning properly. I’m sitting at the front desk one morning at about 8:05 am. BDI walks in to check the computers. She pounds the button to print a sample page. Nothing happens. She pounds it again. Nothing happens. She looks at me from across the room and says, “This printer doesn’t work.” I calculate the number of years I’d have to spend in prison. I get up, walk over in a very irritated manner, look at the printer and say, “it's unplugged.” I look at her. She stares at me. I finally figure out that she isn't going to do a darn thing about this, and she is waiting for ME to plug it back in. So, I plug the printer back in, while simultaneously attempting to stun her with my “get a clue” death stare. I return to the desk. BDI moves to the next printer. The printer (dot-matrix … it was the olden days) starts whirring: ZZZeeeeeeeet! ZZZeeeeeet! ZZZeeeeeeeeet! ZZzzzerrrrgghghghghghghghghghghghghCLUNG. Silence. (Hee! Here it comes, you know). BDI looks up at me and says from across the room, “This printer is jammed.” I am sure now this situation would be the reason they placed the word “justifiable” in front of homicide. I look up at her. If she were smart, she’d be praying that I stay behind the desk. Lucky for her, I’m not moving. I look up and say, “Well, you work in Systems. Why don’t you FIX IT?” I then shot off a very pointed email to the head of systems. From that day on, BDI was relieved of her duties on the fourth floor.

TeemSpirit shared a story about calves. I have to tell you a fell over laughing. Why? Calves are not particularly funny. Especially when you’re talking muscle cramps. The kind where you go from a dead sleep and then POW you shoot across the room at 150 miles per hours yelling “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” while you try to return your leg to the upright position. Anyway. So why was it funny? Because I had two this past weekend, and started to write about them myself, and then got distracted and started gabbing about other things. So, TM? It’s not just you. And it better not be a blood clot either.

Urber-Auntie Tuna (Happy Birthday + 1 day) introduces one and all to the EOT (Evil Office Troll). My solution? Put EOT and BDI on a plane, send them to China, and have them be the next team blasted into space. Maybe they’ll Robin Hood me some more Plutonian change so I can bother Goober at that Virginia McDonalds again.
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