Saturday, December 29, 2007

Sometimes I cheat at scrabble

I really can't help myself. It's true. A terrible affliction. I hate to lose. I am a terrible, horrible, no good, sore loserpants. But it is only at Scrabble that I cheat. I never cheat at any other game. In fact, I won't even cheat to lose on purpose for my kids as I believe learning to gracefully lose is an important learning lesson. One that I apparently never learned well myself.

For some reason, the idea of losing at Scrabble is unacceptable to me. The little devil pops up at my ear and whispers "He is beating you and the last word he placed on the board was 'fun?' You call yourself a writer? A voracious reader? A brilliant legal mind? He barely reads! The last thing he read for fun was a fishing magazine at Barnes and Nobles which he was too cheap to even purchase. He refuses to see foreign movies because he doesn't like reading subtitles. You are going to let HIM beat you at scrabble?" I argue back, "Listen, I can't help it that all I have are a series of 'I's and 'E's. What the heck am I supposed to do with that? Even Dickens couldn't come with a word worth more than 4 points with the crap I keep getting!" But even the little angel on the otherside of me shakes his head and says, "Listen, you need to step up your game before I smack you silly. Now I need to take a little break, but when I get back, I better not hear you've lost again..."

At this point, it's not like I have a choice anymore, I must cheat, and cheat I will. Strategically holding the bag so the light hits the letters just right, I spy a Z and slyly pick it up along with a few 'O's and 'S's and a very fortunate blank. Utilizing a carelessly opened triple word score box, I crow elatedly over a well placed "Zooms" adding an 'S' to the end of his "fun." As I gloat openly and outrageously at my triple word score, HE coughs carefully and asks me, "Did you cheat?" I look him in the eye ready to angrily deny it and then deflate like a flattened whoopie cushion. I cannot lie to him. He knows me too well. Not because I can't lie, although I do not consider what I do lying, more of a strategic manipulation of certain facts and truths to my benefit, but never outright lies. It is part of the aresenal of a good lawyer. You admit only certain facts, omit others and speak vaguely on all other points. Is this lying? Perhaps that is a topic for another post. For now, I sullenly nod and cross off all my illgotten points. I am losing again. Oh and funs is apparently not a word, which he so graciously pointed out to me. I was not having funs.

Forced to return my purloined tiles, I instead exchange my original crappy tiles for even shittier ones. Now along with all my 'I's, I have only 'U's and 'O's. Apparently for this round of Scrabble, I am to be the Queen of Loose Vowels. As I lose the game 98 to 50 points, I throw a little temper tantrum and kick the board over as I blame everything on the crappy tiles I received. He looks over at the sulky angry brat I've become and asks me if I want a rematch. And I sulk a little longer but then finally agree but ask to go first. He graciously concedes. Viciously shaking the little grey bag, I reach in (without cheating) for my first seven tiles. 'I's. Why did it have to be 'I's? I may have to cheat again. But this time, I hope he doesn't catch me.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Still not completely back...

And do you know why? Cause right in the grand midst of holiday hectic frenziness, the entire family got sick. Like dominoes, one after the other. First the 8 year old, then the 6 year old followed closely by the 3 year old who just turned 4 and then the big baby got sick and that just about killed me. Why is it that when men get sick they revert to the infant stage? My husband pretty much curled up into a fetal position and remained in bed for four days. I AM NOT KIDDING. I get sick and it doesn't matter how sick I get, I could never lie in bed for four days. There is just too much to do and too many things to take care of. Plus my parents were in town and honestly, I don't have the type of parents that come in and help out. Oh no. I have the type of parents that come in and need to be catered to. And because I hate shopping so much, I still had Christmas shopping to do up until Christmas eve, as well as cooking and cleaning and laundry and wrapping and entertaining. All with at least a minimum of 2 or 3 rotating sick people in the house.

So I ask you, why is it that men are such wimps when they get sick? This is an age old question for women. To the ABC News article titled "Are Men Wimps About Getting Colds?" I would answer with a resounding DUH! According to a study by Benenden Healthcare, "Male workers are more likely to call in sick with "the flu," while women tend to go to work and carry about their business when they feel an illness coming on." Is this really news for anyone out there? In fact, there is even a phenomenon called "Man Flu." It even has it's own Wikipedia page . So what is Man Flu? Apparently it is a phenomenon by which men and women suffer the same illness but by which men piss and moan and take 3 times longer to recover than the average woman. I'm sure all my women readers are nodding their heads in sage understanding. Apparently a man will take 3 days to recover where a woman would take a day or a day and a half at most. So why is this? Do women get sick less? Actually, no, in fact, women are more likely to get sick more often because they have more contact with children. Are they stronger? Hard to answer because we would have to consider physical, emotional, pschyological, etc., and how do you analyze all that? Perhaps it is a matter of pain tolerance. After all, the old joke is that if human existence depended on men being pregnant and delivering our babies, then mankind would go extinct faster than you could say "Ice Age."

When I was pregnant for the second and third time, I had very bad pre-term labor. In order to keep from going into early labor, the doctor put me on a terbutaline pump that injected terbutaline into my system every four hours. The problem was I had to insert the needle which would provide the medicine into my system, into my leg and then change sites every few days. Well it was pretty hard to stab a large needle into my own leg. It was NOT like a thin insulin needle, this was bigger, it had the plastic tubing around the needle, and you had to stab it hard past the outer muscle in order to insert it properly. I asked my husband to do it. The first time he nearly passed out and left the needle partly in, partly out, with me screaming at him and him screaming at me that he couldn't do it. I finally slammed the needle in with my palm. But changing it was so bad that I would wait too long to change it and get an infection in my leg before being forced to change the injection site. I finally got my husband to get consistently good at it, but his hands would curl up into claws and he would wince and moan as if he were the one getting the needle. On top of all of this, I also had gestational diabetes and had to inject myself with insulin three times a day. This I did by myself with no hesitation. But if the roles were reversed, I doubt my husband would have been able to go through all that I went through.

In a recent article in Men's Health magazine on Why Men Are Babies the author discusses two types of men, the whimpering crybabies and the stoic silent types that never say a word until they are dead. There are good reasons for both. Men still feel that they are the stronger sex and that they shouldn't get sick and if they do get sick, well then, it must be a horrible illness that is thoroughly incapacitating and everyone around them should coddle and nurse them until they are better. But when weird things happen to their bodies, they are less likely than a woman to go to a doctor and check it out. They will more likely ignore it. This is why men don't catch testicular cancer or prostate cancer soon enough. Because even their doctors will admit that men are babies. (Now I say this because I do think more men need to be more concious about taking better care of themselves.)

OK - I just want to amend my post to also say that my hubby is only sick once a year and is only incapacitated with the flu. So he is that crazy mix of stoic suffering through all other ills and then turning into a baby when incapacitated by the flu. So I shouldn't really complain, it is just hard because usually he is not sick alone - I have a full house of sick people. He is a wonderful hubby and I am just so happy he is better.

So with that rant over, I shall leave you with one last funny ad which cracked me up in my sick bed. Thos Brits have a sick sense of humor.

Friday, December 21, 2007


Here's wishing you all a wonderful, holiday season!

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 4

Whoopee Cushion

A friend of mine brought her son and daughter over to play with the girls. Her son is 5 and her daughter is 8 and they both play really well with my three. The boy brought over his whoopee cushion and proceeded to show the girls how to sit and make loud and embarrassing sounds of extreme flatulence. Giggling madly, the girls began to argue who would get to sit on it next.

Shrieks of “it’s my turn,” “No my turn,” “let go,” “No, you let go” started to get louder and louder until finally I had had enough.

“That’s enough!” I shouted up to them. “No one plays with it anymore. Please put it away.”

There was a few minutes of absolute silence followed by whispers and giggles and then a loud farting sound exploded in the air as the kids began shrieking in laughter again.

“Didn’t I tell you to put that whoopee cushion away?” I shouted. To which my oldest girl responded, “Apparently we didn't actually need it.”

Evil Temptations

A neighbor brought by homemade brownies she had made for us the other day. After the polite thank yous, I sent the plate of brownies up with the girls while I stood chatting with my neighbor. After several minutes of chit chat, I headed up to snag a brownie for myself only to find that the girls had demolished all the brownies, leaving none for me.

“I can’t believe you didn’t save me even one brownie!” I cried out, quite miffed.

The older two had the grace to look a little guilty but the youngest, who is not yet 4, replied, “But Mom, you said chocolate is an evil tentashion for you, so we was helping you by getting rid of it!”

The other two brightened up and eagerly agreed, the middle child even going so far as to say, "Yeah Mom, we don't want you to get fat!"

I bet they were high fiving each other when I left.


While driving in the car with the girls, my middle child lets out a massive burp. My youngest who sits right next to her cracks up and says “do it again!” My middle child burps again, not as loud. “Again!” says the youngest. Another burp, another "again."

“That’s enough,” I chime in. But they don’t listen to me as burps and "agains" keep coming and my middle child is starting to wheeze from the effort.

“Stop it!” I say just as the last burp turns into a vurp – vomit burp with a little spillage, and the middle child starts crying. The youngest stops laughing and says "ill, don’t do that again.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


My Summer Friend Danette tagged me for a Random things meme. Since I've already blogged about a lot of random things and my blog has the term "random" in it, it seems only natural to continue the randomness.

1. I love tabasco. When I went to New Orleans, one of the best parts of the trip was being able to buy a gallon size of tabasco sauce. I put it on everything except sweets, but not for lack of trying. The world is a better place because of tabasco. In fact, I have even composed an Ode to Tabasco.
Ode to Tabasco
Oh glorious red marvel of hot treasure
How I adore thee all the time!
Boring foods now have become a pleasure,
although you burns me behind.
2. I am not good at poetry. See number 1.

3. I hate surprises. My husband knows better than to ever throw me a surprise party cause that would piss me off so bad. I've been known to turn to the end of a book I was reading, just to make sure who ever I was liking or hating, lived or died by the end. Of course I would never do this anywhere near Josephine Damian who has promised to smack me upside my head if she ever caught me doing it. Now I've found which is like my new best friend now! I can know exactly what happens before I go see a movie! Ha, my husband hates this! If I ever even inadvertently give away some small inconsequential plot detail of some movie he wants to see, he refuses to see it claiming I have ruined the experience for him. Talk about overly dramatic. I mean just because I told him Bruce Willis was dead in Sixth Sense. Sheesh. ;o)

4. I don't believe in the line "it's the thought that counts." Cause it doesn't. It's not just the thought that counts but how you execute it. Seriously. I would rather receive no present than have a crappy insincere one. For example, I was once friends with a woman who, when she had her first baby, I sent her a lovely baby present. When I had my second child, this woman sent me a present also. I wish she hadn't. It was a baby blanket that no longer had any labels on it so I had a sneaking suspicion it had been used once before. Plus, it smelled of cat piss. I swear to you all. Cat Piss. I would much rather have never received anything from her, or just a card congratulating me would have been much preferable to a nasty stinky baby blanket that some miserable cat pissed on.

5. My embarassing karaoke story. Back when I was a wild young thang, we all went out drinking at some bar that was having a karaoke night. I got drunk enough to be persuaded to sing Like a Virgin on the bar's stage. I was so toasted I couldn't remember the lyrics and couldn't read the words on the screen so I just kept singing "touched for the very first time" and "like a virgin" over and over again and throwing in alot of "Whoas!" All I can remember is that there were alot of military guys out that night who were trying to convince me that I was the next Madonna and trying to persuade me to sing it again but luckily for me, my girlfriends were wise enough to drag me home. The moral of the story is never go out without a good group of girlfriends to save you from yourself.

So I dare anyone else to share an embarrassing story with me! Come on, let's hear it.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Girls and Holiday Spirit

The girls were helping me decorate the Christmas Tree when oldest says "Let's all sing Christmas songs!" They immediately begin singing Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. When they are done, the oldest asks "What should we sing next?"

Middle child shrieks, "Oh I know! My favorite song!" And proceeds to sing this:
O dreydl, dreydl, dreydl, I made it out of clay
And when it’s dry and ready, o dreydl I shall play, Hey!
I start cracking up and oldest says: "That is most definitely NOT a Christmas song! It is a Hannukah song and you can't sing it for Christmas!"

"Well I don't care cause I like it!" middle child responds.

"You're not being in the Christmas spirit!" oldest says.

"I'm being in the holiday spirit and since that includes Christmas and Hannukah I can sing what I want!" middle child replies very smartly.

Intervening in what looks like a Christmas/Hannukah fight between the girls, I interject and say, "That's right sweetie, it is very nice of you to sing all holiday songs!"

"See! I told you!" middle child replies and sticks out her tongue and blows a raspberry at her.

"Now that's not being in the holiday spirit. Remember, Santa's always watching," I chided her.

"Don't worry he didn't see me cause I was crossing my fingers!" she replied with a big smile.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

My middle name is

Dear Larramie at Seize a Daisy has tagged me for a middle name meme. Something about listing one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of your middle name. If you don't have a middle name, just make one up...or use the one you would have liked to have had.

So my middle name is like 13 letters long and I just don't have that many interesting facts about myself to make this an interesting post. Well, I was feeling weird so I decided to write up the facts and make up a middle name depending upon what I got so here goes:

O - is for OCD. During the winter my hands turn into little alligator clutches cause I wash my hands so much you can actually see the dried up diamond shape markings of my skin. And I would rather pee my pants than use a port-o-potty.

S - is for sarcastic. Try to understand that I'm not trying to hurt your feelings, I really am smarter and better looking than you.

S - is for serious. No seriously, I am smarter and better looking than you.

H - is for happy. Truly I am, especially after I punched that last moron who told me to turn my frown upside down.

E - is for eating. My new avatar is a pig. Need I say more?

L - is for laughter. Hey, if I can't laugh at you, then who will?

A - is for anal. It comes with having OCD. I don't like when people touch my stuff. They'll put it out of order. I don't like lending people my books because I hate it when they bend my spine. I don't like naked dolls. If I see a naked doll, even if it is at someone else's house, I must dress it. This is non-negotiable. While in the Barbados, I got into a little fight with my friend's 3 year old who insisted that her Barbies needed to swim naked in the pool and began screaming at me when I kept trying to sneak clothes on their naked bodies behind her back.

So OSSHELA is now my middle name. But I didn't like the sound of that so I started playing with the letters and switching them until I realized that my real middle name is actually "ASSHOLE." Ain't that a bitch?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 3


I pulled up to a light with my girls in the car when all of a sudden I hear my oldest yell out:

"Gross, that guy is picking his nose!"

A young man in a small sports car sat picking deep into the recesses of his nose.

As the girls squeel in disgust I hear my middle child shout:

"Oh my gosh! He just ate it!"

As all three girls screamed and laughed in disgust, I rolled down the window so that the nose picker could hear the girls. HE looked at us startled to notice a bunch of kids staring down at him, pointing and laughing. The light turned green and he took off as fast as he could. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic so I kept pulling up next to him for a few more lights and the girls would squeal loudly all over again whenever we pulled up next to him. Serves him right. I could never understand people who seem to think that being in a car made them invisible.

Broken English

We have a nanny who is Korean and speaks very little English, but she has been with us for seven years. She used to be fulltime but has gone to parttime to mirror my own parttime status. Although my Korean is not great, I do manage to be able to talk to her somewhat. At least better than my husband who tends to just grunt at her. She communicates with the kids in a mix of broken English and sign language. My girls call her “Halmonee” which is Korean for grandma as a sign of affection and respect.

The other day my middle child comes home and informs me that she was a translator at school for a new child who had just come from Korea and didn’t speak any English.

“But honey, you don’t speak Korean,” I said.

“Yes I do!” she replied indignantly. “Watch!”

Turning to our nanny she says: “HALMONEE, ME (pointing to herself) TALKU KOOOHLEEEAHNNNN ATA SCHOOOOOOL TOOOODAY! BELLLLLY GOOOOOD! (nodding and giving two thumbs up)”

Oh dear Lord, my kid thinks speaking broken English with a Korean accent is speaking Korean. I can only imagine what that poor Korean kid at school was thinking.

You might be an asshole

Sometimes I park in handicapped spaces,
While handicapped people make handicapped faces
I’m an asshole (he’s an asshole, what an asshole)
I’m an asshole (he’s a real f**king asshole)

- by Dennis Leary, The Asshole Song

They say road rage is becoming more of a problem on our highways everywhere. More and more state jurisdictions are trying to crack down on aggressive driving and road rage. Ten states -- Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah and Virginia -- have enacted laws making "aggressive driving" a specific offense. The penalty can be up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine while aggressive driving with intent to injure another person is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine. While aggressive drivers are a huge problem, causing deaths and injuries every year, I’d also like to put some blame on the enablers.

Lately driving is no longer at all pleasurable. The reason is that there are a hell of a lot more assholes on the road driving these days. Rude, obnoxious, nasty, self-centered drivers who have no consideration for anyone else traveling along with them. All I know is getting in my car to drive anywhere these days puts me in a bad mood. Traffic is difficult enough to deal with without the added aggravations of stupid selfish drivers. That’s right, I said it. Stupid and selfish = Asshole. I believe that asshole drivers enable people to lose their minds when they are driving. In no way shape or form am I condoning aggressive driving or road rage. Not at all, I’m just saying that I can understand why people lose their minds on the road when they have to deal with asshole drivers. Perhaps people need to recognize what it is they are doing that makes them an asshole driver. Here is my pick for behavior that drives me crazy. Feel free to add yours.

  1. If you do not have any kind of infirmity that I can see which would prohibit your mobility, but you like to park in handicapped spaces, you might be an asshole.
  2. If you notice suddenly that you are about to miss your exit or street and veer across 3 or 4 lanes, cutting people short, blocking their way and otherwise making life miserable for everyone else in your haste to make the exit you should have just missed, you might be an asshole.
  3. If you actually miss your exit on the highway or your turn off a street and instead of going to the next exit or next street corner, you decide to drive in reverse regardless of oncoming traffic, you are most definitely an asshole.
  4. If you drive a huge ass SUV that you can barely control so that when you are driving, you take up two lanes of traffic, and then you compound it by talking on the phone, putting on lipstick or mascara or any other activity that requires you to take one hand off the steering wheel, then you might be an asshole.
  5. If the sight of someone’s blinker drives your adrenaline up so much that you must speed up and stop them from getting in front of you, even if all they were doing was trying to merge onto the highway or get off the highway, then you might be an asshole.
  6. If you like to cut people off so close and so short with no warning (like using the blinker you moron!) whatsoever so that you cause them to veer, stop short and possibly have an accident, then you might be an asshole.
  7. If you like to tail people really close and find yourself leaning on your car horn excessively, you might be an asshole.
  8. If you like to sit in the left lane and drive at or below speed regardless of all the people lining up behind you, you might be an asshole.
  9. If you love your car so much that you park in such a manner that it becomes impossible for anyone to park in the last remaining spot which happens to be next to your lame ass Toyota Camry. (It’s not like it’s a f**king Bentley or something. Get over yourself!) You might be an asshole.
  10. If you unknowingly park in such a manner that it becomes impossible for anyone to park in the last remaining spot which happens to be next to your lame ass minivan or SUV and you can see that you parked badly but still walk away, you might be an asshole.
  11. If you tend to brake a lot while driving so that your passengers feel like they are going to hurl, you are probably not an asshole, just a really bad driver.
  12. If the subwoofer in your car causes my car to violently tremble in time to your music when you pull up next to me, so that all your seismic movement has shaken my bladder to the point of making me want to go pee, you might be an asshole.
  13. If you do not stop, yield or pull over for an ambulance, fire engine or school bus, you are really an asshole.
  14. If you have a confederate flag hanging or painted anywhere on your pick up truck along with specially rigged rifle and fishing pole holders, you might be a redneck asshole.
  15. If you check and answer emails on your blackberry or IM on your cell phone while you are driving, then you are a dangerous asshole.

If only we could get the asshole drivers on the road, driving might or might not be safer, but it will definitely be more pleasurable again.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Ha Ha - How to talk to telemarketers

I found this audio clip and it made me laugh so hard I wet my pants. But don't listen if you find profanity objectionable. You have been warned.

I stole this audio clip from my nephew's Facebook site, promised him a tampon shooter in exchange. It's long but funny.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thou shall click the link

Check out Curtastrophe's Retailer's Prayer.

Friday, November 23, 2007

God is a DJ

Stupid people handling our most personal data:
From the New York Times - Data Leak in Britain...

The data went astray in October, after two computer disks that contained information on families that receive government financial benefits for children were sent out from a government tax agency unregistered, via a private delivery service (!WTF!). The episode is one of three this year in which the agency improperly handled its vast archive of personal data, according to an account by the chancellor of the Exchequer — including the sending of a second set of disks when the first set did not arrive. (HUH?) In sheer numbers, the breach was smaller than several in the United States over the last few years. Last year, a computer and detachable hard drive with the names, birth dates and Social Security numbers of 26.5 million veterans and military personnel was stolen from the home of an analyst, but recovered apparently without any harm. But the disks lost in Britain contained detailed personal information on 40percent of the population: in addition to the bank account numbers, there were names, addresses and national insurance numbers, the British equivalent of Social Security numbers. They also held data on almost every child under 16 (HOLY S#*T!). “This particular breach would dwarf anything we’ve seen in the United States in terms of percentage of the population impacted,” said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in California.

There should be a law prohibiting stupid people from handling people's personal information.

Anyway - here's something completely different.

This is the most awesome short film! I've stolen it from The Struggling Writer because I absolutely love it. It's a bit long so make sure you have a few minutes to spare before you start watching. I hope you all like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Random thoughts before the holiday gorging begins!

So I was checking to see how many people actually have popped by and I was flabbergasted to find that on Monday I had 867 unique visitors to my blog. I did some digging and I found they had all came from this link. The MSN Tech and Gadgets site. So how cool is that? Maybe not so cool that they are all going to this page but, well, ok - I'll take any kind of publicity I can get!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's to family and friends gathering around a beautiful table filled with delicious food. A table groaning under the weight of a perfectly basted turkey, mashed potatoes with homemade gravy, hot rolls, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, glazed sweet potatoes and heavenly pumpkin pie. Luckily for me, I am not cooking or hosting Thanksgiving. WOO HOOOOOOO! Hurray for me!!!

I am the queen of reheating. I haven't made my own turkey since my first year of marriage, where the defrosting of the turkey debacle left me in tears on the kitchen floor. Nevermore! From that moment on, stores that sold a full Thanksgiving feast for me to pick up and reheat were my best friend! Between Balducci's and the local Giant, I have not had to cook anything myself for nearly ten years! And that is how I enjoy my holidays. Although, if truth be known, reheating all that food can be quite an ordeal also, but nothing like the actual cooking of the feast. So this year my sister has decided to host Thanksgiving. Since this is her first time cooking a turkey, I will be feeding my family some sandwiches before heading over. Just kidding. i hope. But I'll bring sides and dessert so that if the turkey comes out inedible, we will not go hungry. Just kidding sis.

I hope all my American readers enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. Since this is a crazy week, I will begin the story prompt next week and have already selected the picture for it. This time, I am picking the genre for the story and just so you all can think about it, it will be Humor! We shall see how wacky we all can get!

Meme me again!

Before I go, my pal Precie has tagged me for a "Four things you don't know about me" meme. I always find it fascinating to read little snippets of other people's lives. Here's hoping you will find mine just as interesting:

A) Four jobs I've had:
  • lawyer (boring but good paying job)
  • Adjunct faculty at university (work too much for too little pay job)
  • waitress - (hardest and most thankless job)
  • internship at the NY City Morgue - (smelliest and most disturbing job) Cyn has asked me to blog about this and I will have to dig into the recesses of my mind to remember all the stories that have previously been blocked from my mind.

B) Four movies I would or have watched over and over again:
  • Godfather I and II - From I - Leave the gun, take the cannoli. From II - Fredo, I knew it was you! You broke my heart, you broke my heart!
  • Gladiator - Are you not entertained!
  • The Princess Bride - Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father prepare to die.
  • Forrest Gump - Stupid is as stupid does.

    C) Four TV shows I watch
  • Law and Order SVU - I admit to having a thing for Chris Meloni
  • Top Chef - Chefs cooking good food in a crazy competition forum? Love it!
  • Project Runway - Tim Gunn is hysterical!
  • No Reservations - Anthony Bourdain is a cooking God!

D) Four places I've lived
  • Brooklyn - I lived in the one Jewish block nestled between a fairly Italian neighborhood. At Christmas time, you would drive down all these brightly lit and sparkling Christmassy streets before you turned down my dark one. My parents would buy the brightest lights and Christmas toppers that blazed til your eyes hurt in their quest to light our entire street.
  • Queens - I don't remember much about living there. And that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, I like it, uh huh, uh huh.
  • Manhattan - Technically I never lived there myself since I moved out before my parents moved into the city. But, since I go and stay with them for many weekends over the course of the year, I like to consider it a place of residence. I can only say that I wish my parents had moved into the city way earlier.
  • Washington, DC - I lived in Georgetown and then on Capitol Hill. Georgetown is a nice place to live, but when I lived on Capitol Hill our neighborhood was a bit scary. We lived a block away from a crackhouse and my brother-in-law, who lived seven blocks away, woke up one morning to find his car riddled with bulletholes.

E) Four places I have been
  • St. Peters, Barbados - recently for a wedding. Lovely place.
  • La Manga Club Spain - Two of my best friends and I celebrated our 40th by going away to a tennis resort. We had the best time in southern Spain.
  • Cannes, France - for work to Mipcom, but it was definitely a great experience.
  • Montreal, Quebec - for work twice a year at least regularly for 8 years. I always enjoyed my stay and hope to take my whole family up one day soon.

F) Four people who e-mail me regularly
  • My husband
  • My sister
  • My best friend (who hasn't emailed me since her Barbados wedding, hint, hint!)
  • Publishers lunch and the spammers who keep sending me emails for penile implants

G) Four of my favorite foods
  • Steak
  • Really good Peking duck
  • Osso bucco
  • Kal bi - korean barbecued short rib
  • Notice the lack of vegetables...

H) Four places I would rather be right now
  • some place tropical and warm with a cool drink in my hand
  • back in NYC - enjoying a slice or a Gray's Papaya hotdog
  • enjoying a fabulously delicious meal at a great restaurant with terrific service with my hubby and kids
  • sleeping in my comfy, cozy warm bed
I) Four things I am looking forward to this year and next year
  • I am looking forward to a positive resolution to my quest to getting published
  • I hope to finish my second WIP next year.
  • I am looking forward to our family trip next year because we have discussed doing a big Club Med vacation somewhere tropical and warm with babysitting service.
  • I am looking forward to the new season of Entourage, f**king June 2008!

    Open meme call to all who wish to play! Answer all or none or just a few. What four wouldn't you mind answering? Share - after all, tis the season.

I hope you all have a nice Thanksgiving - and for those who are not celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a nice Thursday! Stay tuned for our regularly scheduled programming beginning hopefully this Friday, if I have not lapsed into a food coma. I shall leave you with one last parting thought.

Ohhhhhhh, the pleasures of Pumpkin Pie! Who cares about the turkey! Give me pie! I shall be bringing two large pumpkin pies to dinner. One to share and one to eat all by myself in my attempt to become a human pumpkin. Last year I was thwarted in my attempt when I entered into a dueling fork battle with my father for the last piece of pie. Only because my dad stuck his fork (unintentionally, so he claims) in my hand. This time, there will be no mercy!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Poo Poo Paper


Wideload copyright by Andrew Pescod

Is your source for hand made poo poo paper stationery. What never heard of poo poo paper? Neither did I! But I recently saw this link on another blog showcased at the Absolute Write Cooler and I have not been able to get the concept out of my mind! OK - I admit it is grossly fascinating and cracks me up everytime I talk about it.

They make their special paper by collecting and processing elephant dung pulp. Apparently ellephant dung is full of fibrous materials due to the elephants diet of grasses, bamboo and fruits they eat. They collect naturally dried poop from elephant conservation parks, prerinse with water to leave only the fibrous materials, place it in a giant pot of boiling water to clean it, they add natural fibers to strengthen the paper then mix it together, they make small separate piles which are then allowed to naturally dry in the sun and that is how they make poo poo paper! Ok, if any of you are grossed out by this concept, consider this, this environmentally friendly paper is a truly creative sustainable cycle. They are using raw materials that no other use to make highly functional societal products, providing economic opportunites for the local community and ulitmately is able to direct back portion of their profits to the welfare and conservation of elephants.

But what is the million dollar question? Well that would be their number one asked question:

Questions#1: Do your products smell?

This is by far the most asked question we receive! Our products do not smell at all...not like poo anyways! Our products smell like normal stationery type products although we have been experiementing with adding some nice aromas to our poo papers. We've had requests from cinnamon, lemon and coffee scented papers......we're working in this!!!!!

Our products don't smell because we allow the fresh elephant poo poo to completely dry up first then we thoroughly rinse and wash the elephant dung and all we're really left with are the fibres from the vegetation that the elephant didn't digest. That stuff doesn't stink!

So if this interests the environmentalist in you, check out the
Pootique where you can buy Poo Poo journals, notebooks and stationary. It's rated "Two bums up!" TM Just don't send it to anyone with kids known to eat paper!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say - Part 2

Speak properly

My middle child met a woman in a store who spoke with a very prim and proper British accent. "You speak sort of funny," she says to the woman. "That's because I speak proper English," the lady replied. As we left the store, my middle child loudly whispers, "How come speaking proper English makes you sound so mad?" I think she meant snooty.

At the pool

During our Barbados trip, my oldest and I were sitting in the pool when we watched a young heavily tattooed and pierced woman in a very skimpy black bikini enter the pool. As she passed us, we couldn't help but notice that her bikini bottom was actually a thong. My daughter then asked if we could leave the pool right away. As we gathered our things and walked away, I asked her why she wanted to leave when she was having such a good time. She said, "Her butt was naked in the water. When I swim, the water goes in my mouth. That's just nasty." Enough said.

A Drummer is Born

I was standing in line at our crowded supermarket with my 3 year old. As I leaned against my shopping cart, my 3 year old, who was standing next to me, got behind me and began to slap me on my behind while singing the following lyrics to the tune of Jingle Bells:
"Bum bum drums, bum, bum drums,
Mommy’s bum bum drums!
Oh what fun it is to drum on mommy’s bum bum drums!"
When I asked her to stop embarrassing me as people laughed their bum bums off around us, she responded with a cheeky "My Bad!"

The true meaning of Veteran's Day

Last week my husband was driving my oldest daughter and her best friend home from a soccer game when he asked them if they had school on Veteran’s day. “Yes” replied our daughter, “we don’t get it off.” “Do you know what Veteran's Day celebrates?” asked my husband. To which our daughter's best friend replied, “It’s a holiday for all the vegetable eaters.”

A Husband's real role

My middle child announced at dinner that when she grew up she would have seven pets. "Two cats, two dogs and two birds." She counts on her fingers, "Oh wait, that's only six! Oh yeah, and a husband!" My husband gives her a look and shakes his head, "I see Mom's got you trained already."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm Back!

Ah Barbados!

What a beautiful country! What a pain in the ass to fly to! I was flying to Barbados for my best friend's wedding and my daughter was the flower girl. My day started at 3AM to get to the airport, Dulles International, by 4Am for my 6:30 flight. After standing on a line 5,000 people long, my daughter and I barely made it to our gate on time. It is absolutely crazy how bad getting through security is at DC airports. I don't blame them, I'm glad for all the security. But it is difficult to stand through. Switching in Miami, we sat on the floor of the crowded waiting area for over three hours before finally boarding. I always give my daughter the window seat. She can look out and she doesn't have to sit next to a stranger. A tall broadshouldered well dressed man sat next to me as I was in the monkey seat. After exchanging polite smiles, I completely ignored him even as he kept pushing me off the armrest and his shoulder kept encroaching into my space. Finally, Mr. Nudgey decides to instigate conversation.

"First time in Barbados?"
"So what are you going down for?"
"Really? Me too."
Polite smile. Pause.
He begins again.
"So where are you staying?"
"St. Peter."
"Gee that's far."
"I'm staying in Christchurch. Lot's of fun. There's nothing to do where you are. You're gonna want to come to us to go out."
"So what are you planning to do while you are down there?"
"My daughter and I will do some beach activities."
I point at my daughter curled up in her window seat playing her gameboy.
"She's with you?"
"Uh huh."
"I don't see your husband..."
"Oh I came separately..."
"No! He's home."
Long pause.
"So you okay?
"Any problems with your marriage?"
"No," me annoyed. "He had to stay home with my other daughters."
Finally loses interest.

So how sleazy can you get?!!!

The Wedding was beautiful. the bride was the most beautiful woman on Barbados that day and the groom was so stylish and debonair. I'll have to blog later on aabout the return trip. But in the meantime, something funny to get you in the mood. A funny clip that is a bit old but always so funny:

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday Thoughts - Food Glorious Food!

There are people in this world who eat to live and others who live to eat. I fall in the latter of these two categories and I could never understand the skinny bland white food eaters who only ate because otherwise they would die. I once had a boss whose daughter only ate butter sandwiches on white bread for lunch every day. Apparently there are people in this world who only like to eat white food. And I don’t mean Caucasian food, I mean the color white as in white rice, white bread, potatoes, pasta, butter, etc. Except I don’t think there is an 'etc' after that list, it is literally all they eat. I could not live like that. It would be torture and I would die of gastronomic distress. I love colorful spicy bold food flavors that make your mouth sing and your stomach happy.

But being around lots of friends I consider “bland” eaters, I decided that I would shake them up and introduce them to new foods that they never considered and might actually like. One of my best friends for like twenty years has a very narrow range of food she eats. She has never been interested in Indian food. She has stated that not only is it visually unappealing, but the spices in Indian food would be too foreign for her palette. Actually, like many of my other “bland” eater friends, Indian food is always their number one rejection of places to consider eating out at. Now I love Indian food and I feel that it gets a bad rap for being too spicy and all curry and so on. But there is much to love about it.

Finally convincing my friend that it was in her best interests to try something new, and also threatening to hide something that would leave a funky smell in her car, we took her out to a really good Indian restaurant. Rule number one for trying out a new ethnic cuisine - get alot of recommendations and go to the best restaurant you can. While I love greasy hole in the wall places, as they usually have the best and most authentic food, it is never a good idea to start a novice in a place like this.

We started out with garlic naan, which is grilled Indian bread with rich garlic and butter that is heavenly. It came with a variety of dips and chutneys, one particular favorite of mine was a spicy mango and chili chutney that imparted heat and sweet tanginess. We moved on to Aloo Gobi Gobhi, which is my favorite vegetarian Indian dish made of potatoes, cauliflower and green peas that is so simple and yet is packed with flavor. Then came chicken wings cooked in ginger and cumin and tamarind with enough spice to leave your mouth tingling. Is your mouth watering yet? The waiter then brought a hot clay pot of our lamb biryani, which is meat and rice mixed together and my other favorite dish – chicken vindaloo, a hot and spicy chicken and vegetable dish smothered in rich spicy sauce that is also slighty tangy. Last but not least, a king prawn masala rich with onion, tomato and coriander, all served with a bed of fragrant basmati rice. Notice, there were no true "curries" in our dinner.

We ended our meal with a trio of sorbets in mango, raspberry and lemon which was a perfect icy end to our spice filled meal. I asked my friend if she now liked Indian food and she said yes very enthusiastically. She had no idea what Indian food was really about. It was such a pleasure to introduce her to a whole new eating experience. Now if only I could convince my children to eat Indian food, it could be a great family night out instead of our current standard taco night out.

My Food Hero - Anthony Bourdain

While I am no expert, I am a fairly adventurous eater, although nowhere near the level of Anthony Bourdain, who is my hero. Anthony Bourdain, who was the executive chef of Les Halles in New York, author of Kitchen Confidential (awesome book!) as well as numerous others, and current host of Travel Channels No Reservations, is at this time my favorite celebrity. He used to host a series called A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network but he left them due to creative differences. Apparently the story is that they wanted Tony to stop traveling to Asian countries and stick with countries white America would be more comfortable seeing. Thumbing his nose at them, he took his show and his production team to Travel Channel and there a hit show was born.

No Reservations is an amazing show where you get to watch Tony partake of things both incredible and heinous. He is quoted as saying, "If it walks on four legs, is slower and stupider than I am, and tastes reasonably good; pass the salt." Boy does he take that literally! In my favorite episode, Tony goes to Namibia and has the worst meal of his life. He joins a tribe of bushmen who track and kill a warthog and brings it back to the tribe to be cooked. While enjoying his pre-dinner treat of tree beetles he is caught off guard by what comes next. They buried the head in dirt to cook and pulled out the rectum which is supposedly a treat. Since Tony was the special guest, he got the excrement filled treat. Tony knew he couldn't be rude and ate it to his great dismay. Every viewer shuddered and cringed along with him.

I'm glad Tony let Food Network for a network who isn't afraid to let him be himself. While I still watch Food Network on occasion, I have never been a fan of Rachel Ray or the semi-homemade cook Sandra something or other. Tony really hates them. He is quoted as saying Rachel Ray does to food what Hitler did to Poland. He is harsh because he is a foodie - a gourmand, a true lover of food - and a great chef. Rachel and Sandra on Food Network are not chefs and have never claimed to be such. They are typical at home cooks that most people can relate to, and that seems to be the niche Food Network is pandering to. Not a bad strategy on their part, and while they continue to have Nigella Lawson and The Barefoot Contessa on their schedule, I will continue to watch them.

But as long as Anthony Bourdain is on the air, taking us all over the world for amazing and bizarre cusine, and providing us with his sarcastic, intelligent diatribes, all is good in the food world.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Random Monday Strangeness

Why men don't write advice columns

Dear Walter:

I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a few hundred yards down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help.

When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was parading in front of the wardrobe mirror dressed in my underwear and high-heel shoes, and he was wearing my make up.

I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he tried to make out that he had dressed in my lingerie because he couldn't find his own underwear. But when I asked him about the make up, he broke down and admitted that he'd been wearing my clothes for six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him.

He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore. Can you please help?

Anna Levine

Dear Anna:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber. I hope this helps.


Speaking of cars...

Driving and talking on the phone makes you stupid

So I’m driving in the typical God Awful Monday morning traffic and I am on two lane street with traffic heavy from both directions. I am sitting behind a woman in her luxury Mercedes SUV who I can see clearly yakking her head off on her cellular phone. The light turns green and the woman casually turns her left blinker on, causing a hundred people behind her to start leaning on their horns, moi included. Rolling down her window, she waves her perfectly manicured hand glittering with rings and bracelets in the universal finger sign of contempt. To which, I rolled down my window leaned out my head and yelled, “Hey Moron! If you’d stop yakking long enough to look to your left you would notice an empty space that we civilized people like to refer to as the turning lane.” After maneuvering her big ass Mercedes into said turning lane, she had to sit and wait as a hundred pissed off drivers honked and saluted her in kind, moi included.

But honestly, I think people who can't multi-task should not be allowed to do anything else when driving. It is a dangerous proposition for the rest of us who have to traverse the roads with these idiots. When I was full time and driving my daily commute, I would witness people eating three course meals while driving, putting on mascara while driving, curling their hair while driving, reading the newspaper while driving, knitting while driving, doing Sudoku while driving, answering email while driving, etc. And everyone of these people drive me mad with a terrible urge to smack their heads.

My biggest pet peeve of course is cell phones and driving. I'm not saying you can't do it, but people need to know themselves well. I've got friends who are very competent drivers that are remarkably multi-tasked oriented and can handle calls and driving without any problems. They, however, try not to stay on the phones for extended long conversations, they recognize that driving is the number one priority, not talking on the phone. But we all know of drivers who can't listen to the radio without being distracted while driving, let alone hold a conversation. I watched a young girl putting on mascara, while talking on the phone and driving, weave in and out of two lanes, causing multiple incidents of close calls before finally stopping. At no time was she even aware that she had nearly caused seven accidents in only a matter of two blocks. Which brings me to my next point, teenagers should not be allowed to talk on the phone and drive EVER. They are the largest risk factor for being killed in a car accident as it is. Adding a cell phone to the mix is just adding fuel to a fire.

And so while I know that I do not take a popular position on this issue, I have to admit that I would be quite happy if there was more legislation banning cell phones and driving in general. But at the very least, there should be a restriction for teenage driving and cell phone use.

OK rant over. Enjoy your Monday!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Random Funny Things My Kids Say ...

Cartoon role models:

The other day I caught my middle child jumping up and down while holding and then rubbing her nose furiously. When I asked her what she was doing, she replied “I’m trying to sneeze and fart at the same time.” Ok, I had to ask her why she wanted to do this to which she replied, “Cause in the cartoons if you sneeze you fall back and if you fart it pushes you forward so I want to know what happens if I do it at the same time.” My oldest daughter then replied, “I think all you do is stink up the house real bad cause you will probably poop your pants.”

The best birth control:

My youngest child asked me the other day, “Mommy, when I was in your tummy how did I go to the potty?” My older two girls perked up their ears to listen to this fascinating question. “Well it all came out when Mommy went to the potty.” My middle child immediately cried out “Yuck! You have peepee and poopoo in your stomach!” To which my oldest responded, “I am never having a baby!”

The real monster:

My kids were all acting scared and wanting to sleep with me in my bed when I asked them what was going on. They said they were scared of monsters. I replied, “There are no such things as monsters. The only thing you should be afraid of is if Daddy comes up and finds you out of bed.” My middle child responded, “Huh, and you said there was no such thing as monsters!”

Budding environmentalist:

My youngest was picking her nose and pulled out a big booger and I told her to use a tissue next time and she responded, “Mommy, you always said not to waste tissues and paper cause we're killing all the trees!”

Explosive secret:

My middle child came home and told me she had to tell me a secret. I asked her what was up. She said, “At school today I had to fart but I didn’t want to fart at my station cause I knew it would smell bad so I went to another station and farted and then ran away. But I didn’t know it would be SO stinky. I thought it would just be a little stinky. But it was really bad! It smelled like lots and lots of boiled eggs! Lots of them! I didn’t know my fart could smell like that! And then Grant said Phillip did a stinky fart and Phillip said Nuh, uh and that Grant must have done it and then everyone started going ‘ill, ill, someone farted!’ and teacher got so mad at both of them she gave them both letters (the school gives out letters for bad behavior). And she had to open the window to let some air in. But I didn’t tell anyone that it was me who did the stinky fart and Grant and Phillip got in trouble. I was too scared to admit that it was me that done it. Was that bad? Will God be angry with me? Mommy? Mommy why are you crying?”

Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Slice of Life for Writers

There is a new literary magazine called "Slice" out now which is the brainchild of two book editors, Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson. They know how hard it is for new authors to break into the world of publishing so their mission is to "pave a space for these writers who may not have a platform but show the kind of talent that could be the substance of great works in the future. We are equally dedicated to celebrating established writers, whose work moves beyond the boundaries of writing to not only redefine literature, but to inspire new voices to grow." They came up with the idea for this magazine while they were both editors working together at Random House.

On their website, they proclaim that "Slice is a new literary magazine created to provide a forum for dynamic conversations between emerging and established authors." Their first issue was made available this past September. When putting together their first issue, they decided that established writers would help draw attention to the newer talents. So the inaugural issue spotlights Junot Díaz who's first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books), has been garnering praise from all of the major critics. Check out their very cool website.

The magazine is currently accepting material for their March, 2008 issue. The theme for article submissions is "Heroes." Slice magazine welcomes short fiction, nonfiction, and novellas for serialization. They are looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share but are not currently looking at experimental or "heavy-handed" genre fiction. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as they are notified immediately if the work is selected for publication elsewhere. All submissions should be previously unpublished. All submissions must be submitted electronically, in the body of an email. Be sure to include detailed contact information. Please allow two to three months for them to reply to your submission. They are currently unable to pay for published material, but hope to reward writers by creating a wide audience of readers. Please send submissions to

Because they are a brand new magazine, it looks like they are cautiously testing the waters. Their publishing schedule is only twice a year in March and September. So submissions will probably be very high. But to anyone out there with short stories, please check them out. As they grow, hopefully they can expand their publishing schedule and eventually pay their writers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

And now for somehing completely random...

FAT travelers:

A woman called a travel agent and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know who's luggage belongs to who?"
The travel agent said "No, why do you ask?"
She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said FAT, and I'm overweight, is there any connection?"
The travel agent put the woman on hold to laugh hysterically before coming back on line and explaining that the city code for Fresno is FAT, and that the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.

Bathroom etiquette:

A woman was sitting in her bathroom stall minding her own business when a voice emerged from the stall next to her.

“Hey, how you doing?” the voice said.

Surprised the woman asked if she was talking to her.

“Uh huh,” the voice replied.

“Um, fine thank you,” the woman replied, wondering if perhaps her neighbor needed toilet paper or something else.

“Is everything ok over there?” the voice persisted.

The woman was starting to get annoyed, “Um, yes, not that it’s any of your business.”

“Well, then can I come over there?” the voice asked.

“What is wrong with you?” the woman responded. “Can’t you respect my privacy?”

“Hold on,” the voice continued, “there’s some idiot in the next stall answering all my questions.”

Medical Hijinks!

A new, young MD doing his residency in OB was quite embarrassed performing female pelvic exams. To cover his embarrassment he had unconsciously formed a habit of whistling softly. The middle aged lady upon whom he was performing this exam suddenly burst out laughing and further embarrassed him. He looked up from his work and sheepishly said, "I'm sorry. Was I tickling you?" She replied, "No doctor, but the song you were whistling was "I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Wiener."

And I will end with my favorite Deep Thoughts quote by Jack Handey

"One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. "Oh no," I said, "Disneyland burned down." He cried and cried, but I think that deep down he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday Introspective - Childhaters versus Bad Entitled Parents

All of us know some of one and some of the other. There are plenty of people out there that hate children. Really hate children. If a building was on fire and they had a choice between saving someone’s pet or someone’s child, they would choose to save the animal. I know people like this, I’ve worked with them. I’ve actually heard some of them say these exact words to me. They are the ones that glare at you and your kids at restaurants, movies, cafes and other public places. They panic when they see you on the airplane. They make snide remarks to their other childfree friends about why abortion should be legalized. They gripe about their taxes going to education or playgrounds or other child related public policies. But do I hate them? No. But they seem to hate me, my children and what we represent. An imposition in their child free lives.

But let’s look at the opposite end of the spectrum. The entitled, the spoiled, the obnoxious, the whiny, yelling, stubborn babies that believe the whole world revolves around them. And their children are just as bad. Let’s face it, there are a lot of parents out there that give the rest of parents a bad reputation. I’m sure we all can name one or two of our friends or acquaintances who are guilty of selfish parenting. They make going out in public difficult for everyone, not just the childfree.

I once had lunch at a restaurant and watched two moms chatting and eating while their two little ballerina darlings (probably 4 years old each) smeared ketchup and mustard on the mirrored walls behind them. The whole restaurant watched in fascination and yet the moms did nothing to stop the budding Picassos. When the manager came over and asked the moms to stop their little darlings, one mom rolled her eyes at him and said, “it’s just a mirror, its not like it won’t wipe off.” When she went to grab her daughter’s hands, the little dear flew into a raging tantrum that silenced everyone else in the restaurant. The mom then decided to let the little dear roll around on the floor screaming for several minutes as every single person in the restaurant stared at her. At this point, even her friend was looking at her funny. Finally, the mother got a clue, picked up her little angel and walked out. I kept staring after the woman mystified. Did she not believe that her daughter’s actions were inappropriate? Is this what she allowed her daughter to do in her own house? Paint the walls with condiments?

A friend of mine and her 2 year old daughter were playing at the park when a bigger child of 6 kept pushing her daughter off the play equipment. My friend tried to reason with the 6 year old not to push someone so much smaller, but to no avail. At one point, the 6 year old actually spit in the 2 year old’s face and shoved her down. My friend was naturally upset and yelled out for the 6 year old’s mother who had been chatting with friends and not paying any attention. When confronted with her son’s actions, the mother said (and this is a direct quote), “What’s the big deal, he’s only 6 years old. He doesn’t know any better, he was only playing.” No apology for her son’s actions, no explaining to her son that spitting in someone’s face is considered a socially inappropriate action. Nothing but indignation that my friend should be so upset at her son. She even said “Why can’t you be more understanding?” I don’t get this. If he was my kid, you can safely bet I would have chewed his ear off and although I don’t spank my kids, that boy might have been deserving of the golden rod. I take that back, that mom should have been the one beaten. A 6 year old should know better, or should know better with proper parenting.

In some ways, I am resigned to the hatred between the two groups. A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle about cafes that cater to families triggered vicious comments from both parents and childfree alike. One side claiming that the mommy brigade with their SUV like strollers were ruining the café and dining out experience for the rest of the world while the other side cried out for parents and children’s rights to go out in public.

A few years back, there was outcry over a sign placed in a café over in Chicago. A Taste of Heaven owner Dan McCauley posted a sign that read “Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when they come to A Taste of Heaven.” This triggered talks of boycotts by neighborhood mothers’ groups and overwhelming support for the owner from all corners of the globe. The brouhaha surprised me when it happened. Don’t we all teach our children to use indoor voices inside? Why is it wrong when an establishment’s owner requests the same thing? Well the mistake is in my question “Don’t we all…” for clearly not all parents do.

This also leads me to the interesting debate over breastfeeding in public and Bill Maher. Mother blogs across the country spouted “We hate Bill Maher” titles after his statements against the La Leche nurse-in stance taken when a breastfeeding mother was asked to cover-up, go to the bathroom or leave at an Appleby’s restaurant. The number of blogs commenting on this situation gives you an idea of the depth and touchiness of this issue. Mothers are up in arms. Again, I’m not sure why there is so much controversy. I applaud a woman’s right to breastfeed their baby, wherever they want. But is being discreet problematic? There are so many outfits geared for discreet breastfeeding, is there a need to whip out a large mammary gland as a spectator sport? Is it then ok for people to stare at your breast as you breastfeed? Nobody should take away a mother’s right to breastfeed their child, however, a little discretion is all we ask for.

Another article heralding the end of family pre-boarding courtesy on Southwest airline triggered over 300 comments. The antagonism towards parents was surprising. Even those comments disagreeing with the new policy change did so with considerable animosity towards families with children. Making remarks like “ending pre-boarding for families with children is plain stupid. I liked being able to sit as far away as I could from those snotty nosed kids and their entitled jerky parents.”

I’ve found a lot of interesting blogs and articles which expounds on the hatred of these two groups and I find it fascinating. Real live people who passionately hate children (and their bonehead parents) versus loudmouthed, self-righteous, self-absorbed parents who can’t seem to care enough to discipline their screaming angel who is now pouring syrup all over the café floor. Ooooh, who to root for? Whose side is right and whose is wrong? How about neither side? They both have good and bad points but the biggest problem is the sheer intolerance I see from both these groups. There are plenty of childfree sites out there that don’t hate children. All they want is for parents to start acting responsibly towards their own kids, like don’t let them run screaming up and down the restaurant aisles while you ignore their behavior. Don’t let them kick the airplane seat the whole time during a crowded five hour flight. I find this quite reasonable. I am a parent of three, and I agree wholeheartedly with teaching children the social niceties. And if they can’t behave, you need to discipline them appropriately. We have an obligation as parents to raise our children correctly and teach them what is proper behavior at all times.

Entitled parents are selfish parents, who don’t care that the actions of their children are imposing negatively to others. They make it harder for the rest of us who are trying to raise our children right and teach them proper behavior. No my children are not always properly behaved. But when they act inappropriately, I jump on them, I don’t let it slide. How parents discipline their children is vastly different and I will not criticize anyone’s style. However, I do have a problem with the no discipline approach I have seen in many parents. Children are not your friends and you should not treat them as such. They are children and need to be parented, that means disciplined, appropriately. Entitled parents believe that nothing their precious children do is wrong. I was once sitting in the café area of Barnes and Nobles and watched a 3 year old grab a mug and smash it into a thousand pieces on the floor. The mom did not tell her child the behavior was wrong, but this was not the worst offense. When a bookseller came over to clean up the mess, the woman chided the employee for having breakables in easy reach of small children. No offer to pay for the broken ware, no explaining to little Zoe that what she was doing was not a good idea. In fact, I don’t recall her saying the word “No” at all. Ah, but that is a rant for another day.

At the same time, there are plenty of childfree sites I have found that spout an ugliness towards parents in general that I find deeply distressing and disturbing. One site called parents “breeder trolls” and came up with a list of offensive terms to denigrate parents and their children. For instance, someone who desperately wants to get pregnant has “baby rabies” or someone with multiple pregnancies has a “freaklitter.” Female breeders who whine and moan are “mooing” and a “SHAM” is a stay at home moo (mommy). I won’t link to the sites (and there are many!) because I don’t want them to rabble rouse on my blog. And while most do try to make a distinction between a good parent and a “breeder,” the problem is that it becomes difficult to distinguish between the two amongst all the venom. Hatred in any form is ugly. What makes hate filled remarks against parents and children any different from the Klu Klux Klan and their hate filled positions against minorities? I would say any wholesale hatred against a group is discrimination and it is wrong.

I respect a person’s right to not have children. One of the smartest choices a person can make is one where they decide a life with children is not for them. Realizing that good parenting is about sacrifice, and that this sacrifice might not be what they want in their lives. Many of us have thought of somebody (Britney Spears) who clearly should have thought more about the sacrifices of having children before having them. I admire those who have made that choice. Just as I admire all those parents out there who work hard to provide a good home and safe nurturing environment for their children. The children of today are the future of us all. There is no denying it. Instead of spewing hatred and ranting and raving against one another, we must work to make sure that our future turns out the best possible way for all of us.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Rejecting the Rejection

October 19, 2007

Ms. Hotshot Agent
1357893 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY

Dear Ms. Agent:

Thank you for your letter of October 17, 2007. I'd like to apologize for the impersonal nature of my letter. Rest assured that I do read every rejection letter carefully and unfortunately this rejection letter is just not right for me. However, these decisions are highly subjective and another writer may have a completely different opinion from mine.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving a large number of rejection letters. With such a diverse and promising field of rejections, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite your outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting writers, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I have decided to accept you as my agent and will forward you a copy of my completed manuscript for your immediate representation. I will arrive in New York on November 8th and look forward to meeting you at your offices at that time.

Best of luck in rejecting future clients.


Rejected NoMore

P.S. I would appreciate if you did not call security when I arrive.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Art of Editing

The Shining, Redux
I know this is 3 years old, but it is Brilliant and worth showing again.

Robert Ryang entered a contest run by a post-production house where assistant editors were to take any movie and cut a new trailer for it — but in an entirely different genre. Mr. Ryang chose the most famous horror movie of all time, “The Shining,” Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 horror film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. Look what it became in his hands.

The reason I'm showing it here is because I think the editing process for writers can be so similar. You cut and rewrite and cut and rewrite, continually changing it until sometimes you have an entirely different novel or story from what you conceptually started with. Sometimes it's good and the changes are better, but other times you go too far and you need to go back to the original idea. I find my revising process can be a minefield if I'm not careful. I recently cut out 15,000 words from my WIP and now the tone is different, the pace is different. So far I think it's good, but when does it become too much? When do I need to be cautious of the delete key? Editing is an art. (See above trailer to confirm this.) But when is too much editing, well, too much? I don't know and hopefully I won't end up with a product so different from the concept of my original idea. It is a balancing act and I am trying to be careful of that line right now.

Writing thoughts

Copyright by aussiegal

When you write, do your words come soaring out as light as feathers or must you wrench them from inside word for word? I admit to being the latter. Words come out with too much thought and care to be as light as feathers. They weigh me down, heavy as bricks clunking on to my page with the thud of inevitable rewrites. I envy those who can write free flowing, stream of consciousness without worrying endlessly over each word they write. For me this picture represents a goal that I will set for myself. After my final revisions are finally over and done with, I plan on starting my second novel next month, the one I put down years ago and am ready to pick up again. This picture is my reminder to relax and let the words come naturally. Try not to second guess each word I write then and there. Enjoy more, worry less. Perhaps in this way I can finish my next book in less then 5 years this time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Weirdly Halloween!

Copyright by Daleberts

This is a good time to talk about Halloween, the night of dark deeds and things that go bump in the night. All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain or Pooky Night, as I like to call it, has been bastardized by the large retail conglomerates into a holiday of costumes and candy. Instead of lighting huge bonfires to ward off evil spirits, we dress up our children as princesses, pirates, ballerinas, Spiderman, fairies and other myriad cute and cuddlies. This is in complete violation of the spirit of Halloween! It is supposed to be the night where the living world and the world of the dead collide, allowing the dead to inhabit the earth again. People dressed as spirits or otherworldly creatures when going outside in order to blend in with the walking dead. I’m thinking cheerleaders and Spongebob Squarepants are not exactly blending in.

But one thing hasn’t changed – and that is the telling of the scary story. And so just in time for Halloween, I have my review of Weirdly: A Collection of Strange Stories published by Wild Child Publishing. This is my first time purchasing an e-book and I will admit to previously being pretty skeptical about an e-book. I mean, part of reading is the physical aspect of opening a book and turning the pages. And I love the smell of a new book. Pure ambrosia. But we all know how expensive buying new hard covers are these days. It’s hard to justify over $25.00 for a book sometimes, especially when you could be terribly disappointed. But here is the delight of my purchase, Weirdly is an awesome read. And at the current price of $5.95 with no going to a store and waiting in line, or waiting for a package to come in the mail, this is an incredible bargain. For a terribly indolent person like myself, instant gratification without ever leaving my house is so satisfying. Twenty-six strange and scary stories for $5.95? Seriously, I don’t think you can find a better bargain. Everyone will find at least several stories in this anthology that will make their heart pound a little faster and creep you out just a tad. Now, isn’t that the spirit of Halloween?

So let’s talk about the stories. Well, some of them are more vignettes, but just because they are short doesn’t mean that you are being shortchanged. Now, I can’t review all of them but I can tell you that the ones that hung with me after I finished the book did so with a vengeance. The book opens with vampires and ends with werewolves. Could you ask for more? The first story Those Who Won’t Be Missed by C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp, is a well written vampire story with an interesting voice and an excellent ending. The bookend is aptly titled The Sickness by Amanda Tieman which features werewolves in love. And in between are stories of ghosts, beasts, murderers, demons, morticians, and soulless sorority girls. What is there not to love?

Two other stand-out stories are Anya by Stacia Helpman and The Beekeeper by James Cheetham. One tells the story of the rise and fall of an Avenging Angel while the other delves into the clouded mind of a dying man and his daughter who seeks for one last time her father’s missing affection. The other pieces were all strong and interesting in their various ways but hands down my favorite piece was Stone Child by Bernita Harris. Its central protagonist is Lillie St. Claire and she is a full spectrum mega-Talent and an exorcist. A Talent is a rare individual of unusual psychic sensibility. The mark of a Talent is shown in the silvering of their hair. In Stone Child, we enter a world with a proliferation of spectoral entities and ancient creatures from myths and legends. Talents are employed in criminal investigations to discover missing victim’s by their ghosts and help solve murder cases. The story opens with a missing child case, but the plot untwists itself to reveal no ordinary missing person’s case. I can’t reveal more for fear of giving away too much of this unique and fascinating story. You are just going to have to buy your own copy.

So impressed was I by the story that I immediately emailed Bernita and asked if I could ask her some questions about Stone Child. I had a terribly urgent question I had to ask her, pressing heavily on my mind. I needed to know when I would be able to read an entire novel about Lillie St. Claire. You see I became very attached to Lillie from this one story and was anxious to read more about her. I knew Bernita was working on the St. Claire Chronicles, but I wanted to know when she would be completed. Those who know me, know that patience is a virtue I am not familiar with. And I admit to being terribly disappointed to hear that A Malignity of Ghosts (how cool is that title?!) wouldn’t be finished until February 2008.

So what’s a person supposed to do? Well, what does any fan do when faced with waiting for their next favorite book from their favorite author? They start looking at the history of how it all came to be. So I decided to investigate further into the St. Clair Chronicles and learn more about the creation and evolution of Lillie St. Clair.

The lovely and immensely talented Bernita Harris is also well known for her popular writer’s blog An Innocent A-Blog. And if you are a writer, you need to add her to your blogroll as a place to frequent. It’s filled with great posts on the art of writing and every so often a post will trigger some heated discussion in the comment trails. A former forensic consultant from Ontario, Canada, Bernita has assisted the police in cases involving occult-related material, events, practises and beliefs. She has been a member of both the American Society of Criminology and the Canadian Identification Society and has what she calls a “mild familiarity” with police procedures and psychology, as well as a working knowledge of the belief systems of non-traditional religions. On top of all this, she has a Master’s Degree in English Lit. With all of this background, how could she not come up with a paranormal thriller starring a kick-ass female protagonist with special and unusual abilities. Here’s what she told me:

E: Hi Bernita, I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed Weirdly. It was a really good read. And I have to tell you quite honestly that Stone Child was my absolute favorite story.

B: Thank you for those generous words, and I'm delighted you thought Weirdly a good read.

E: How did you get Stone Child in this anthology?

B: I originally met a couple of Wild Child editors through my blog and liked their personalities, their attitude and their observations about writing. One of them requested I do a short-short story ("Ornamental") and a medieval poem for the Wild Child magazine (a monthly e-pub operating since circa '98, and recently closed so they can concentrate on books.). That same editor asked me to submit a story for this anthology. Since I was already deep in Lillie's POV for A Malignity of Ghosts, and found it difficult to extract myself from it, I thought to provide her with an extra "adventure," explore a different view of the paranatural creature, and take the opportunity to expand on Lillie's ethics regarding them and other paranormal entities.

E: How was it working with Wild Child Publishing?

B: They are a wonderful company and my editor was a honey to work with.

E: So how did you come up with Lillie’s story?

B: Lillie evolved from the writer's classic “what if?” Part of the plot revolves around just who or what appears intent on killing Lillie off, her sympathy with the Godforsaken, her sense of isolation and acceptance at being termed a Freak, and the haunting effects on her self-image by her dead husband's treatment -- all of which complicates a budding and guilty attraction she has developing with a Psi-crime detective, John Thresher.

E: So what type of book is Malignity?

B: Malignity is a contemporary urban fantasy. Stone Child is a further adventure and occurs after the events in Malignity. I have always been intrigued with finding the mythic in the mundane and the auguries of ordinary things and I enjoy cross-genre stories which have that added resonance.

E: Did your background as a forensic consultant specializing in the occult lead you to creating Lillie?

B: Well, I suppose in a way Lillie is a kind of forensic occultologist herself, except that in her world, it's not a question of belief but of reality.

E: Can you tell me about the world Lillie inhabits?

B: Lillie's story is set in a society which strives to accommodate itself in a practical manner to the unexpected and inconvenient emergence of ghosts and other paranatural entities by hiring rare Talents - like Lillie - to take out the trash, so to speak. Talents are used to remove unwanted apparitions who disturb the public peace. Society, as usual, divides over legalities, rights, ethics, and exploitation. Talents are also employed in a forensic capacity - to discover victim's bodies by their ghosts and to supplement CSI indentification in cases of murder. It's an evolving situation, as the society attempts to adjust to this new paradigm. Even Talents are playing at catch-up. The increase in paranatural apparatitions and paranormal creatures, including zombies raised by the unscrupulous or the unwary, has also led naturally to incidents of psi-crime, abuse of apparitions, and other illicit activities. (Want to buy a property cheap? Have a half-assed psychic introduce a ghost to haunt the place.)

E: That is so fascinating. What kind of issues will Lillie face?

B: While Lillie would like to find out who or what is behind several attacks on her life, why a bean sidhe keeps showing up to chat, and just what does the big, ugly psi-crime detective really thinks of her, the question most readers might like answered though, is did Lillie truly kill her husband?

E: And of course we have to wait for your book to find out, right?

B: Right.

E: No hints for special bloggers?

B: Patience…

E: Oh, alright, will you at least tell me what a bean sidhe is?

B: A bean sidhe is a banshee (banshee is the phonetic rendering). Other entities besides garden-variety ghosts, from Celtic and Northern European myth make appearances in Malignity like the dullahan (the Crom Dubh - a death messenger). The appearance of paranatural entities seems largely related to the basic ethnicity of the original immigrants of the area. Lillie also has as a kind of protective companion, a Black Dog of legend, Dumbarton (Dummie, for short.)

E: Oh, I can’t wait to read it! Thanks so much for answering some questions for me and wetting my appetite even more for Malignity.

B: I’m still in a state of astonished delight over your reception of Lillie and Stone Child. Thank you, E, very much!

So there you have it, an inside view into the upcoming novel Malignity by the author of Stone Child, Bernita Harris. I hope more people will purchase Weirdly and read these excellent stories. And after you read Stone Child, I hope you will pop by Bernita’s blog to tell her what you thought.