Wide Awake in Wonderland

We’re only dancing on this earth for a short while

Construction Zone December 2, 2008

Today has been one of major frustration, mostly around the migration of this blog to its new (hopefully beautiful and perfect, but thus far not so much) web site and due to the fact that I’m packing for a two-week trip to the east coast. I am a super neurotic packer. As a result of far too many business trips where I found myself with too short of pants and too high of heels or too much pink or inadvertent belly shirts or excess cleavage or one of a hundred outfit mishaps, I am now compelled to try every combination on before packing it. And that, my friends, is some time consuming behavior.

Nonetheless, never one to leave you high and dry, allow me to pass on a holiday tip sent to me in my e-mail. For those of you that give gift cards (and PLEASE give me gift cards. At least there’s a bat’s chance in hell that I could use it for something I might actually want or need), you may want to rethink it in a few circumstances.

Apparently, some businesses that will be going into bankruptcy or closing local locations in 2009 are still selling gift cards. There is no law preventing them from doing this. On the contrary, it is referred to as ‘Bankruptcy Planning’.

Below is a partial list of stores that you need to be cautious about.

  • Circuit City (filed Chapter 11)
  • Ann Taylor– 117 stores nationwide closing
  • Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug ,and Catherine’s to close 150 stores nationwide – (I find this amazing because I have a couple plus-size friends and they tell me Catherine’s is pretty much the ONLY place they can buy clothes. Where will these women shop now!?!?)
  • Eddie Bauer to close stores 27 stores and more after January
  • Cache will close all stores – (I’ve never been in a Cache, but through the store window everything always looked so tacky that this does not surprise me)
  • Talbots closing down specialty stores
  • J. Jill closing all stores (owned by Talbots)
  • Pacific Sunwear (also owned by Talbots)
  • GAP closing 85 stores (GAP was getting a little omnipresent, anyway)
  • Footlocker closing 140 stores more to close after January
  • Wickes Furniture closing down
  • Levitz closing down remaining stores
  • Bombay closing remaining stores
  • Zales closing down 82 stores and 105 after January
  • Whitehall closing all stores
  • Piercing Pagoda closing all stores – (Dammit! My master plan to give everyone on my Christmas list Piercing Pagoda gift cards has now been shot to sh*t)
  • Disney closing 98 stores and will close more after January.
  • Home Depot closing 15 stores
  • Macys to close 9 stores after January
  • Linens and Things closing all stores (This is true. If you need knives or a whisk or a new toaster, get in the car immediately and go to your nearest Linens and Things. It’s a serious “Everything must go!” fire sale price slash extravaganza in there)
  • Movie Galley Closing all stores
  • Pep Boys Closing 33 stores (Can you imagine a crappier Christmas gift than a Pep Boys gift card? “Thanks, Grandma. Manny, Moe, and Jack… How’d you know?”)
  • Sprint/Nextel closing 133 stores
  • JC Penney closing a number of stores after January
  • Ethan Allen closing down 12 stores.
  • Wilson Leather closing down all stores
  • Sharper Image closing down all stores (Their website implies something really cool will be happening – http:www.sharperimage.com – since when does ‘something big’ = bankruptcy?)
  • K B Toys closing 356 stores
  • Loews to close down some stores
  • Dillard’s to close some stores

Happy shopping!


Global Gloom and other encouraging word combinations December 1, 2008

2356411353_74c4a3912fSo I have these moments where I come up with a thought that makes me think I may be really smart. Crazy smart. Einstein smart. And then I hear a cricket chirping and forget what I was thinking about.

Seriously though, I have a line of thinking going, and it seems pretty good. For starters, what better way to get the masses into ‘herd think’ and control their actions than to scare the crap out of them?  All these headlines we’re battered with daily are an excellent case in point:

  • “Economic downtown has folks stashing their cash”
  • “Short selling declines as US stocks scrape new lows”
  • “No 401K worries in the afterlife: More people consider suicide a ‘viable option'”
  • “Stocks fall sharply on consumer spending worries”
  • “Treasurys rally, yields slide, on gloomy economy outlook” (this really is an actual headline – all weird and badly spelled like this. Or maybe that’s good grammar at the school Nick Godt of Fox News attended?)
  • “Miami protesters to new parents, ‘What kind of selfish jerks bring a baby into this horrible world?'”
  • “As unemployment rises, work-at-home scams flourish.”
  • “Manufacturing crash adds to global gloom”

(Okay, I admit it. I made a couple of those up. I like to make sure you’re paying attention.

Meanwhile, to the good folks at The Onion: My rates are steep, but you need me. And you can’t put a price tag on quality like mine. Actually, on second thought, you can, and it’s in the six figures.)

So back to my big idea: A friend loaned me this Tony Robbins CD I listened to last weekend on the way to Seattle. In it, he was talking about how money is always in motion and movement and constant flow. What you put into the bank is given to a business who spends it to create something that someone else buys and it goes on and on like this. That is, unless someone hoards it up and stops the flow and causes the smooth cycle to grind to a halt – otherwise known as a recession.

Wikipedia defines it similarly as, “A recession is a contraction phase of the business cycle, or “a period of reduced economic activity.” The U.S. based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) defines a recession more specifically as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP growth, employment (non-farm payrolls), industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.” A sustained recession may become a depression.

So, in short, a recession is when people panic and sell their stocks and put the money under the mattress and don’t buy anything so the people making stuff have no one to sell it to and have to raise prices and close stores and lay people off or otherwise compensate for the lack of income until the whole thing becomes a spiraling self-fulfilling prophecy of doom.  (And imagine that sentence delivered all breathless and urgent, like any good conspiracy theory must be.)

But seriously, think about it. That first headline alone caused me pause and ponder, “Maybe I should take what little money I have and cling to it like a dying man, adrift at sea with only a raft?” All this negative input and fear mongering in the form of ‘news’ is making people panic more. And recess more (so to speak).

Imagine the following thought experiment (proposed by my clearly genius friend Cheryl):  Instead of these kinds of headlines about how it’s all going to hell in a hand basket, what if the only feedback people got was that stocks were set to rally tomorrow, and the U.S. is doing better than it’s ever done, and the world is poised to reach new heights and greater widespread abundance and peace than we ever thought possible by 2010? If people were told to resume buying stocks and buying things and living without fear and moving confidently and happily toward tomorrow and basically acting like they did before being badgered by images of ‘global gloom’, then the wheels start slowing turning again. And then, before you know it, the recession is over.

And when you step back and see how it all works and how this is actually 100% plausible, how totally spooky is that?

One more point for Team “What You Believe Is What Becomes Real.” And I rest my case.


Burn before reading November 29, 2008

So I wanted to clarify on the ‘out there’ book I purchased – Mastering Remote Viewing (Remote Viewing, Third Eye & Astral Projection). I will henceforth be referring to it as the worst. book. ever.   In one evening, it has transformed itself from something I was curious and even a little excited about to bad omen. A harbinger of doom. If nothing else,  a dismal start to my new age education.

Yesterday afternoon I had not yet looked at it and was blissfully unaware. I was naive to its lameness. Clueless as to its stupidity. And happily oblivious of the fact that I’d have gotten more enjoyment out of the money if I’d given it away to strangers a dollar at a time. Or set them on fire.

The book is outrageously, hilariously bad. Cringe-worthy, really. To prove my point, I share with you an excerpt from the chapter “Remove Viewing Truth Stories.” It lists eleven true tales of Sapphire’s remarkable remote viewing skills. (BTW, I am not editing this or punctuating all wrong or dropping words out to make it sound worse. This is literally what was published. And it’s hardly the worst of it, I just don’t have the time to type the whole lame thing up. This nugget happens to represent a random page I opened to:)

“Late Princess Diana sent me a remote viewing (Who is one of queens now – in Kingdom of the gods.)

She sent me a remote viewing that she complained, that the coffin she was buried had symbols on the top of coffin; which was the wrong symbol of her title.

It is like: 4 pictures combined into one. And one of the picture is a lion. And the main color of the 4 pictures were yellow.

I think she is not happy, how she was buried with the human body on earth.

I only saw her funeral in the TV, so there is no way I could see the top of her coffin. And later she sent me another Remote Viewing; that there was a horse that his eyes are very strange – like popping out.

So, I fixed the horse’s eyes. I bet she loves this horse.”


What the hell is this?

Did a first grader write this!? A special ed first grader!?

Princess Diana, wherever you are, I would like to offer my personal apologies. It seems criminal to include you in this stupidity.

Meanwhile, who are the 26 lunatics who all gave this book a five star review on Amazon!? I would like to meet each and every one of you and bitch slap all of your faces. John Simmon, Richard Adams, Chris Ellis, Alex Abingdon – I’m talking to you.

However, now that I comb through the reviews trying to fathom what possessed 26 people to rave about this crap fest, it occurs to me that perhaps Sapphire wrote them all himself/herself? Certainly the grammar is equally bad in many if not all of the reviews. One review goes on about how it’s not bad grammar. Seriously, check this out (and Maxxy, you may want to brace yourself at this is aimed squarely at your patch of the universe):  “I bought tons of paranormal books, none of the books as easy read as this author’s books. If you are well read enough, you should be able to notice…the British and American, they write differently in term of grammar style. When you get on the British air, you will find the flight magazine has tons of grammar mistakes (by American standard), but when the British reading American airline magazines, they accused us… “American does not know how to write,” it is the same thing. This book as far as I am concern, there are no grammar mistakes, it depends on which country you come from. If you really care about the grammar, you should get a grammar book, not this book.”

Chris Ellis of Chicago, Illinois sounds an AWFUL LOT like Sapphire, if you ask me!!!

Most significantly, who is the crackpot selling the same book for $210 on Amazon!? Are you high? Are you kidding me? And if you get a buyer, would you send them my way? I have a story I wrote when I was seven about the Easter Bunny I’d like to sell them…

To add insult to injury, I purchased the book from an Amazon reseller with a shady return policy. It sounds like they’ll only take it back if it’s damaged. I hate to lie, but the poor book may just have to have an unfortunate accident. If there is any justice in the universe, they’ll take this manure back without forcing me to hurt it.

In conclusion, I offer up the following message to Sapphire, who throughout the awful book proclaims him/herself to be a god. (A god with a second-grade education, but who am I to judge?) And Sapphire doesn’t beat around the bush about his/her god status. S/he clearly states, “Being a god, I will get remote viewings sent by other gods or angels or beings prayed to my tile and I would be able to see what is happening to them. For example, I would get images sent by Jesus that he would get me updated by some news.”

Do you think Jesus was praying to Sapphire’s ’tile’ or ‘title’? Or are those words interchangeable in England? And who knew Jesus prayed to pagan gods? I think it’s safe to say this comes as news to all of us.

So Sapphire, if you’re out there and you’re a god, then it follows that you are omnipotent and know I’m really pissed off about your book, and all the fake Amazon reviews, and I would like my money back without a big hassle. So please come and astral travel or visit me as a ghost or whatever it takes to right this wrong and restore my faith in humankind.  And in pagan gods.  And please put $20 under my pillow like any good Tooth Fairy while you’re at it. Muchas gracias.


Don’t believe the hype November 24, 2008

So I’ve mentioned that I have quite the magazine habit. In Style, Lucky, Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar…I get them all. I look at the pretty pictures, and when I can, I read the articles. Usually they’re about how to style your hair or prevent split ends or achieve a smoky eye in less than two minutes. However, sometime last winter all the fashion magazines started extolling the virtues of expensive juice fasts and liquid detoxes and waxing enraptured about the wonders of a week without actual food.

Almost immediately this got in my head, and hung on like a dog with a bone. The next thing you know, I’ve plunked down a couple hundred in herbs, tinctures, and organic fruits and vegetables – the poor man’s juice fast. The ones I’d read about magazines involved going to a spa where they prepare everything for you or a delivery service where everything was pre-made and brought to your door. Not so much with my budget effort. It was labor intensive food deprivation. Kind of like a concentration camp you set up for yourself.

Anyway, the idea behind a juice cleanse is that it will help your body purge the toxins you build up in your system during the course of your everyday life. Someone had suggested that the fact that my pee smells like coffee after I drink coffee (apologies, as I know that’s TMI) is because my liver wasn’t working up to speed.  This may or may not have any basis in reality, but it got me thinking that maybe my body was crying out for an opportunity to purge itself of all kinds of horribleness? And I started to feel for my poor liver and overstressed kidneys and ravaged colon, and a week of juice seemed like the least I could do.

There are all kinds of cleanses, but for reasons I can’t quite recall, I decided to go with “The Herb Doc” – Dr. Schulze’s American Botanical Pharmacy.  I think this was in large part because I suspected I went to college with and was once quite friendly with his son, but that’s a long story for another day.

Anyway, and perhaps not surprisingly, I decided to do the liver cleanse, which took five days. They recommended doing it from Monday through Friday so that you were less likely to goof it up while at home or with friends over the weekend. Although probably sound advice, I was working from home at the time, and this turned out to be the longest five days of my life.

Right out of the gates, Dr. Schulze hits you over the head with what will be regarded until the day you die as, “The worst thing I ever drank.” It’s been almost a year, and I still regurgitate a little bit when I think about it. It’s called the Liver and Gallbladder flush, and you have a big foamy glass of the nastiness every morning. For the curious, I offer the recipe:

  • 8 ounces of fresh apple and/or grape juice
  • 8 ounces of Distilled Water
  • 1-5 clove(s) of garlic (start with one and increase daily)
  • 1-5 tablespoon(s) of organic virgin cold-pressed olive oil (start with one and increase daily )
  • 1 small piece of fresh Ginger Root (about 1 inch long)

It’s bad. Baaad. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad.

There’s something about the combination of juice, raw garlic, and loads of oil that is so very, very wrong. I honestly think the ginger is in there to keep you from throwing up.

Anyway, if that weren’t horrible enough, fifteen minutes after you choke down this vile mixture, it’s time for your two dropperfuls of ‘Liver/Gallbladder Anti-Parasite tonic’. This I would put into grape juice to mask the flavor. It didn’t work.  I’ve never drank poison, but I think I now know what it would taste like.

From there, you just juice it up. For breakfast you have fruit juice, and for lunch it’s diluted fresh raw vegetable juices,  potassium broth (basically a boiled up drink made of stuff you would normally put into a compost bin) , and herb teas. For dinner, it’s back to fruit juice, and the sad lonely feeling that your vital organs are shriveling up.

Now in all fairness, I will admit that by Thursday I felt pretty freaking good. Kind of invigorated and energized, although maybe that was just an adrenaline rush caused by my body’s fear that I might starve to death? Regardless, in the strangest way, when Friday came around I almost wanted to keep going. Not with the gag-reflex invoking garlic oil drink, but with the juices and the teas and the ascetic lifestyle. It didn’t hurt that I’d lost a couple pounds in the process.

With Thanksgiving just days away, I can’t help but thinking about maintaining my girlish figure while knee-deep in food…and the detox came to mind. Nonetheless, although I still have enough tinctures and herbs and tea mixes left to repeat the detox this winter, I think I’ll just try to take it easy around the Christmas cookies, put down the glass of eggnog, and run a few extra miles each week. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll pig out and overindulge…just not so much so that the only way to recover involves drinking the liquified contents of a compost bin.  Salud!


Catastrophe in real time: Canine road trip November 21, 2008

Sleeping in the car

Sleeping in the car

So after three weeks at home, it was time to get back out there and do some traveling. However, poor Dozer (my soft hearted Alaskan Malamute) suffers from residual mental duress caused by losing his sister and then me in a week’s time back in July. Whenever he’s given a bone or a toy since Pixie passed, he roams around with it crying and crying and crying. It distresses the hell out of me. So effectively both of us suffer.
Anyway, when an opportunity to go on a little journey arose, it didn’t seem right to leave Doh behind. So I decided to drive and take him with me. On paper (or screen), this might actually sound like a good idea.

However, truth be told, Dozer has led a pretty sheltered life, and it doesn’t take much to move his cheese. In fact, throw a coat over the back of a chair, and he’s liable to be spooked for half the day.

Moreover, and in light of some previous trips that ended with unexpected and unfortunate violent explosions out of both ends, I decided to see what gems the internet had to offer. I found a couple sites offering up road trip tips, and below you can find the condensed highlights:

A Month Before

Ummmm? What? A MONTH before? Oops.

  • Create the expectation. Even if your animal is accustomed to riding in a car to the vet or groomer, take her on some short trips to other destinations. Walk her around some new places, and let her sniff and explore at her leisure. New smells and new places are highlights in a critter’s life — almost as good as treats! These little warm-up road trips can create the expectation in your pet’s mind that a car trip will be fun — not just a ride with a rabies shot at the end.

  • Ask and ye shall receive (another picture of the beautiful boy)

    Ask and ye shall receive (another picture of the beautiful boy)

Hopefully he’s picked up some of my optimistic attitude and presumed a car trip would be fun, because there was no expectation setting beforehand. Oops #2

  • Get a first aid kit for your dog. It comes in very handy if you need to remove any ticks. The kits are usually available at a pet store, a veterinary office or on the Internet.

Oops #3. Hopefully we don’t need one these cause we don’t have one!

  • If you do not already have a dog harness for riding the car, consider purchasing one for your dog’s safety. They are usually sold at pet stores or on the Internet.

Ditto. Oops #4.

Several Days Before (hopefully morning of’ is good enough)

  • Make sure you have enough dog food for the duration of the trip. CHECK

  • If your dog is on any medication, remember to bring it along. CHECK

Road Trip Day

  • Remember to pack all of your dog’s necessities: food, water, dog dishes, leash, snacks and goodies, several favorite toys, brush, towels for dirty paws, plastic bags for cleaning up after your dog, doggie first aid kit, possibly dog booties if you are venturing to an especially cold or hot region, and bring any medicine your dog might be taking. CHECK

  • Before you head out, put on that doggie seat belt harness. Hard to do when you don’t own one. Oops #5.

  • Bring a current color photograph of your pet. If something happens you can easily show other people what your errant buddy looks like. If need be, you can easily make copies of the photo to assist in the search process. Hmmmm… Under the law of attraction this seems like a bad idea. I could get my hands on a picture if I had to. But I won’t have to.

  • Some hotels are so pet-friendly that they have treats waiting when you check in. We recommend that you not give these treats to your critters, having found from experience that it is much better for them to eat as consistent a diet as possible when they are on the road.

And in conclusion, oops #6. I’ve let him eat everything offered by friendly humans. Hopefully this does result in an explosive outcome that I have to clean!

Although I managed to mess up most of the tips, we made it here in one piece, and without much ado. By and large, I listened to motivational Tony Robbins CDs loaned to me by a friend, and Dozer slept with his face smashed up against the back window.

Meanwhile, we’re learning some new things about each other. Like that I can’t sleep through the sound of a dog whining. And that there is pretty much nothing more gross than walking around carrying a steaming bag of poop. And that he has some separation anxiety if left alone in strange places, that manifests as loud crying and howling and a concerted effort to beat down the door until I return. In hindsight, I wish I had some doggie downers or a tranquilizer gun, but I’ll make a note of that tip for next time.

Caspar the Friendly Ghost

Casper the Friendly Ghost

On the other hand, the more things change the more they stay the same: Doh remains consistent in his easily spooked and high strung ways. Walking down the street we passed a Washington Mutual branch with a large stuffed toy horse visible through the window (presumably some kind of a Christmas decoration and nice to see the government bailout funds are going to such good  use) and he went into complete and total shock and alarm. “It’s stuffed,” I told him. “It’s not real,” I continued, not at all concerned that talking aloud to a dog might be perceived as sad or even crazy by those passing by. Alas, it was for naught and he remained riveted on the vision of this giant white faux fur creature attempting to determine whether it was friend or foe and sizing up how to get inside the branch to fight it.

***sigh*** Reasoning with Dozer is like talking to a dog.


I’m afraid of the iPhone November 19, 2008


Have you seen the ads about the apps for the iPhone? How about the one where if you don’t know a song, you hold the phone up to the source and within seconds it tells you what’s playing and where to buy it? And I don’t mean you hold the phone up to your iPod or some other device that the iPhone is designed to ‘talk’ to. I’m saying you hold it up to your car radio or TV or the ceiling of the Gap and it figures it out. It’s call Midomi, and it scares me.

I think this could be the beginning of one of those ‘end of days’ scenarios where the computers take over and we’re just hanging out in liquid-filled cocoons providing them battery power.

Don’t panic just yet though. There are still plenty of harmless (if not a little stupid) apps out there:

Sonic Lighter – although there are apparently almost a dozen free lighter apps, people can’t wait to pay $.99 for Smule’s Sonic Lighter. Apparently they’ve built in social and viral features such as the option to share your geographic location information with the application, and when you light it you show up on a virtual earth-like globe. The longer you leave it on, the more “kilojules” you burn, and now teams are competing to be the brightest on the globe. Someone needs to get France and Japan some more entertainment, because they’re apparently leading the pack at this. Oh, and you can blow on the microphone and extinguish the flame, which I must admit is beyond cool.

Ocarina – the same company has now introduced Ocarina, which apparently allows you to be a one-man Peruvian band with just your phone. It’s named after an ancient flute-like wind instrument, and lets you play those haunting, South American-esque tunes by blowing into the iPhone microphone and hitting the virtual buttons. Moreover, you can hit a button and listen to what other Ocarina users are playing around the world. It’s social music, and probably the beginning of a whole new arm of the virtual connectedness that marks this century.

zw0upsil9e062ry4uijqKoi Pond – This is a virtual fish pond where you can change the water color, amount of fish, lily pads in the pond, the different animal sounds you hear, and switch it from day to night. You can shake the iPhone and feed the fish, tap the pond to scare the fish, or leave your finger in and watch them eventually swim up to you. Nothing else happens. You don’t get smarter. You still have no idea what string theory is. You don’t make business contacts. But who doesn’t love koi?

Oh, and get this! Remote turns your iPhone into a remote control for your computer. This app lets you pause, fast-forward or rewind anything you’re watching or listening to, or switch to a different playlist. It also operates the ‘Apple TV’, a device that sends music, photos and movies from your computer to your television. Wow.

And last, but not least, Shozu. When you take pictures with the iPhone’s built-in camera, Shozu links the phone with sites like Flickr and your blog and posts them right away. This would’ve been a lifesaver on my backpacking trip, when I never had enough bandwidth to get the pictures loaded in under an hour. I may just have to start a blog-based fundraiser to finance one of these before the next big trip!

So as it happens, all this talk about these apps makes me want an iPhone. Bad.

I don’t care that the phone is transmitting information back to an unknown source and that it’s occasionally scary and may signify the downfall of the human race. Bring on SkyNet and the rise of the machines! As long as I can play my electronic pan flute, I don’t care!


Bring on the thought police November 18, 2008

fp938openb So yesterday someone was telling me about a doll that allegedly spouts pro-Islamic messages. My friend was meeting with a customer, the father of young girls, who had a doll in the office that kept repeating a ‘subversive’ message.

What’s that you say? Color me intrigued. Are the good people at Fischer Price actually Islamic fundamentalists!? The same people who created the beloved “Little People” of my youth!? Did anyone else have the Sesame Street set seen here? I seriously just had a a portion of my life flash before my eyes just looking at this picture.

Anywho, so as not to prime you into hearing something (because if I tell you what you’re listening for, you’re much more likely to hear it), go ahead and see what you think:

If you ask me, I really can’t tell what the doll is saying except “light” or “night” or “right” or something like that at the end. Otherwise, it sounds like babble. Annoying babble. And I think maybe she told me to rob a bank and send half the money to the NRA, but I could be imagining that part.

However, a lot of people think the doll is saying, “Islam is the light,” and they are FREAKING OUT. A small sampling of the reactionary knee-jerk (and poorly spelled) insanity from YouTube brings us such nuggets as:

  • “This doll obviously says “Islam is the light.” I can’t believe people aren’t fighting to get this trash out of America!”
  • “It definately says “Islam is the Light”!!! This is disgusting and outrageous! They startin to poison our children’s minds with this bullshit!”
  • “Well, it definitely says “Islam is the light”. Obviously another form of jihad. Outrageous.”

As for the comment about America, aren’t we a melting pot where everyone is welcome? “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble….etc.”

Personally, I think a nice heavy dose of tolerance is a good idea. If I had a kid, I’d run right out and buy them one of these. In fact, what I’d like to see is the “God – in whatever form you perceive Him or Her to be – is great” doll, which perhaps features a series of phrases like:

Islam is the light

Hinduism is hot

Rasta is remarkable

Buddhism is brilliant

Judaism is joyful

Christianity is cool

Shintoism is the sh*t

Paganism is powerful

Why not give atheism a try?

and then back around again to “Islam is the light.”

This idea you can have for free. I’ve got more important projects to work on. Like deciphering the Satanic messages in Stairway to Heaven (played backwards, of course).


Semi-random thought: I wonder if you played some kind of intentionally dark, Satanic death metal backwards if you’d get a hymnal or part of Paul’s letter to the Corinthians?    😉


Either someone is playing a joke on me, or I have a secret admirer with strange taste in gifts November 17, 2008

1515309I used to travel three or four days a week for my old job, and as a result I developed a pretty serious magazine habit. I soon realized that subscriptions were far cheaper than buying individual copies at the airport, and before you know it, my mailman was wearing a weight belt and cursing my name.

For a while there, I was receiving pretty much anything that had to do with fashion, running, travel, gourmet cooking, and maintaining your physique despite gorging on your own gourmet cooking. The quantity was well beyond what a mere mortal with a full-time job could read, so I started to let some of them lapse.

Thus, I actually do know what I’ve paid to receive at this point, and I was surprised to return home and find some new additions in my magazine pile:

  • Eating Well: Where Good Taste and Good Health Meet

If you want to eat healthfully but aren’t willing to give up your appetite for mouth-watering dishes and heavenly treats, EatingWell is your ultimate companion. The innovative team of researchers, editors and health professionals behind the publication of EatingWell infuse fresh fruits, vegetables and whole wheat into classic recipes to serve up an array of delicious, vitamin-packed meals. With essential tips on eating and shopping, EatingWell is a reminder that cooking great, nourishing meals for the whole family can be easy.”

This is fine, albeit a little unappetizing at times. I do think the average European would get a good chuckle at an entire magazine dedicated to cramming vegetables and whole wheat into regular recipes, but such is the American way.


  • Caribbean Travel + Life

All of your vacation wishes and dreams come alive in Caribbean Travel & Life! Whether you’re looking to retire to the breathtaking, relaxing Caribbean or you have a well deserved week off from work and you’re looking to discover the Caribbean, Caribbean Travel & Life is your magazine. Discover the alluring resorts, nature, and romantic getaways. Plan your dream vacation.”

I would probably enjoy this a whole lot more if I were a millionaire, but the pictures are pretty.

  • Spa: Healthy Living, Travel, & Renewal

With SPA Magazine, you’ll discover the latest advances in self-care, beauty, healthy living and relaxation plus thousands of wonderful ways to pamper yourself at home. With each issue you’ll travel behind the doors of the most luxurious and private retreats for an insider’s look at their amenities and features. Get practical advice on how to select and plan your spa vacation. Leave your hectic day behind, relax and have fun with life-enhancing how-to information and features on health, beauty, travel and more.”

Ditto. I have never been on a spa vacation and it’s unlikely there’s a trip to Golden Door or The Spa at Pebble Beach in my near future. On the upside, I don’t really have too many hectic days lately, so I guess I can just focus on the articles about pampering myself at home.


So at this point, it seems like a theme. A theme involving a fancy and indulgent lifestyle, but with touches of health and well-being. But that’s when my new Secret Santa decided to throw a wrench in the works with:

  • American Legacy: The Magazine of African-American History and Culture.


I don’t get it. What does African-American history in Philadelphia and traveling on the Louisiana Black Heritage trail have to do with spas and healthy food and beaches? If this is a riddle, it’s well beyond me.

That stated, I’m just hoping Soldier of Fortune doesn’t arrive tomorrow. The mailman doesn’t much like me as it is.



An open letter to the kid who keeps crank calling my cell phone November 16, 2008

I have the same taste in TV as a 13-year old boy. Don't even get me started about how much I loved "Rob and Big."

I have the same taste in TV as a 13-year old boy. Don't even get me started about how much I loved 'Rob and Big'.

Look, I get it. When I was a kid, I was an inimitable crank caller. In hindsight, I may have even been an addict. It was my #1 pastime in the seventh grade, and I looked forward to going over to Kim’s house and lighting up the phone lines. I would even argue that I was quite good at it – people would stay on the line for an incredible amount of time, or hand the phone to their co-workers or housemates saying, “You’ve got to hear this!” My two best routines were:

  1. “The company potluck”
    1. I’d call and immediately start in about, “Hi. It’s me. I just don’t know what to bring to the company potluck tomorrow.” Then I would rattle off a variety of options at lightening speed, and then – depending upon my mood – I would go into a whole bit about how I might bring fruit salad and should I put bananas in it and what if people don’t like bananas and how should I cut the bananas? You get the idea. Extreme speed talking wherein the other person cannot get a word in edgewise was critical to the success of this call. When I finally would pause to breathe, usually what they had to say was either vulgar or hilarious (and often both).
  2. “Darth Vader is in my house”
    1. This one was admittedly stupid, but it still makes me chuckle to myself. In this case, you call in a real panic repeating that Darth Vader is in your house (which is very confusing to the other person) and once they finally understand and say, “What? DARTH VADER?” you put your accomplice on the phone who does the heavy Darth Vader breathing and maybe a “Luke, I am your father.” I don’t know if the people getting these calls think it’s funny, but I sure did.

(Side note: You can also substitute Darth Vader with the Hamburgler. In that case, your assistant needs to get on and say, “Robble robble” or however you interpret whatever it is that the Hamburgler says. They must do this without bursting into uncontrollable laughter, which is actually a lot harder than it sounds)

My fall from grace came because I put too much faith in my co-cranker, Kim. You see, she developed a crush on a boy down the street (let’s call him Dwayne, which I believe may have been his actual name), and since I always let her do the dialing as I psyched myself up for my audience, what I didn’t realize was that we were calling his house again and again and again. This was in the late 80s, so it wasn’t too hard to figure out where the calls were coming from. All I remember is my mother’s red and enraged face after Dwayne’s mother came by our house to yell at me. Oops.

Anyway, kids will be kids, and I don’t have a problem with the occasional crank call. It’s karma. However, I do have some standards if you’re going to waste my time and my cell minutes. So to the adolescent boy that keeps calling me, I offer some free tips:

  1. The #1 rule of crank calling is never give up. If you get a live person on the phone, you keep them on for as long as humanly possible. That’s the whole point. THEY’RE supposed to hang up, not you.
  2. Do your research: If you want me to believe my number is on Craig’s List as selling a gun from the Civil War, don’t claim I’m asking $30 for it. Have you never seen “Antiques Roadshow”? Turn on PBS and check it out. A gun from the American Civil War would be worth at least thirty THOUSAND (that’s $30,000, Einstein) dollars.
  3. It’s never to early to learn to curb your “ummmmms”. When you get older, people will start counting how many times you say “ummmmm” and laughing at you. They may be doing this already. Since you obviously cannot think on your feet and use “ummmmm” in excess to fill the gaps, maybe consider writing a script before you call me?
  4. Speaking of which, could you please rent a couple ‘Crank Yankers’ DVDs and learn what it means to be funny? Calling and leaving me messages that your ‘wife has breast cancer and is really freaked out’ isn’t funny.  First off, you don’t even get to hear my reaction, so what’s in it for you? Second, and perhaps more importantly, It’s twisted and maybe a sign that your parents should get you a child psychiatrist.
  5. I have a cell phone plan with limited minutes, so could you maybe call the land line at my house instead? Much obliged.

If you call and Charo answers…it’s just me November 14, 2008

The one and only Maria del Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza Rasten (a.k.a. Charo)

The one and only María del Rosario Pilar Martínez Molina Baeza Rasten (a.k.a. Charo)

First watch this (and, yes, you must endure a 30-second ad for Tide first).

Call in a second party to verify that there’s no way this is for real…and yet why is Diane Sawyer involved?

Then let’s talk.



(and if somehow this doesn’t come through, Google “Yahoo foreign accent syndrome video”)



She doesn’t just have an accent, she’s not even speaking English correctly any more: “It’s the voice I have for 49 year.”

Is this something new I need to worry about!? I’m going to wake up some day speaking like a remedial ESL student? Maybe with an Asian accent (the single most far-fetched accent for a blond white woman. Except maybe for Jamaican.) I love flied lice!

What I really don’t like is the alleged fluency in languages she doesn’t know (she claimed), and never studied (ditto). So is she like possessed by a host of dead foreign people!? Channeling? How the heck is this possible!?!? It’s obviously not some form of savant-ism or super intellect, because she never studied those languages. I don’t know about you, but that spooks me out.

Another question: I can do a pretty good fake Scottish, British, and Irish accents. Couldn’t these women just do a fake American accent? Just asking…

On the other hand, put through this filter, perhaps Madonna isn’t faking a British accent. Perhaps she’s just having a series of minor strokes?


After Liviu’s comment (on ‘Leaving on a Midnight Train to Sighisoara’ and worth a read – the comment that is!), I am feeling REALLY grateful to still have an intact brain at all.  And kidneys. And my own liver. Seriously. All throughout Romania people kept looking horrified that I was alone and saying things like, “You must have very big courage,” but I just thought they were being friendly or referring to my oversized backpack. Jinkies! I almost lived the movie ‘Hostel’!

I enjoy the crazy travel stories as much as (or more than?) the next guy, but not ones that start with, “Let me tell you about why I’m attached to this here dialysis machine…”