Friday, December 29, 2006

Two All Beef Patties, Special Sauce...No, Scratch That

I've been holding off on commenting on the below article for a couple of weeks, simply because it wasn't terribly appropriate for the holiday season (or any other season for that matter), but since it's close to the end of the year, it's time to clean out the "in" box to make ready for the new!

After reading it, I've been mulling over the things my kids have ever done in their lives that have really embarrassed me as a parent.

Beyond the fairly normal stuff like the Little Guy telling some elderly person that they're "really old" in the grocery store, or the time the Big Kid came crying out of the bathroom because the toilet seat dropped on his willie when he was peeing and asked me to kiss it to make it better in front of company (he was three, for pete's sakes!), I can't think of too many REALLY embarrassing moments.

The one that stands out the most is when the Big Kid was about 12 and had a goofy friend spending the night. They were horsing around in the living room when I came upon them.

"Queef!" Goofy Friend said. "Queef! Queef! Queef!"

Big Kid was overcome with giggles.

"Queef!" Both of them had collapsed on the floor and were laughing hysterically.

Oh. My. God.

Now I'm not a prude about bodily functions, but I insist that my guys use respectful terminology when dealing with certain areas of the anatomy. I know they pick up all kinds of stuff at school (many times they've come home and asked me what certain words mean), but I was a little shocked.

Plus, the LAST thing I wanted was for Little Guy to pick it up and walk around saying it over and over himself. "Queef! Queef!"

I lectured them severely. "I don't want that kind of language in my house!"

Big Kid: Is it a bad word?

Me: "Uh....don't you know what it means?"

Goofy Friend: No. I just made it up because it sounds funny. Is it a real word?

Me: "Uh...[oh sh*t!] Yes, it is. Stop saying it."

Goofy Friend: What's it mean?

Now there was no way on God's green earth that I was going to explain THAT to somebody else's 12-year-old son!

Me: "Ask your mother."

Needless to say, that was the last time Goofy Friend was allowed to spend the night at OUR house. I can only imagine what that conversation was like.

Goofy Friend to his mother: Big Kid's mom told me to ask you what a queef is.

[Cue demented screaming]

Yikes! It's been 6 or 7 years, but I still cross the street when I see her coming!

Anyway, other than the above, I can gratefully say that truly humiliating parenting moments have been few and far between. The guys have never had any trouble in school. They've never been arrested. They've never harmed anyone else.

A few weeks ago, some nasty little fart in Illinois decided to play a prank on his high school classmates. He took the communal Ranch Dressing off the condiment cart in the cafeteria (say that three times fast) into the bathroom and whacked off into it. And then put it back for everyone else to "enjoy".

Like a typical dumbass, he couldn't resist bragging to his friends about it. They weren't amused and turned him in.

This is a copy of the letter sent home to parents:

"Dear Wheaton North Parent:

A very unusual and disgusting incident recently occurred at Wheaton North High School. Because it could potentially impact other students and most certainly will be the subject of conversation among some students, I want you to be aware of the facts surrounding this issue.

There is no tactful way to give you this information, so I will explain it as it occurred. During the ‘D’ lunch period on December 6, 2007, a male student removed a Ranch salad dressing container from the Student Commons, went into the boy’s restroom, ejaculated into the bottle, and then returned the container to the condiment table. It is unclear if anyone subsequently used the salad dressing prior to its normal cleaning by food service personnel.

We became aware of this incident when several students reported it to the Dean’s office on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 12. The identified student was questioned extensively and later admitted his action. He has been appropriately disciplined and the matter is now being handled by the Wheaton Police Department.

In addition, we immediately asked our nursing staff to contact the DuPage County Health Department to discuss any possible health impact that eating the affected salad dressing might have on the user. While the Health Department indicated it is unlikely that pathogens could survive in that environment, it recommended that the student be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. The student was tested on Wednesday, December 13. Unfortunately, the results of the testing will not be known until early next week.

Once the test results are received we will immediately notify you if the Health Department indicates a need for implementing any additional medical protocols. Only students who consumed ranch dressing in the Student Commons area last Wednesday and/or Thursday may be impacted. Meanwhile, our food service staff has changed to larger, less portable containers that will make it difficult for any similar incident to occur in the future.

I am truly sorry for any stress this may cause you or your student. Again, please know that we will contact you immediately if there is a need for any medical action for any Wheaton North student. As always, please call me at school if you have questions or concerns.


Jill Bullo

As horrifying and disgusting as this whole thing is, I can't help but wonder what that boy's mother must be feeling.

Even though there are many nutty and neglectful parents out there, I can't imagine any parent supporting this kind of behavior. I'd be opening up the BIG can of Whup Ass like there was no tomorrow.

Then I'd hide. Forever. Or enter the witness protection program.

How do you get past something like that?

Still More....

Here's the back deck at 7am this morning. Mind you, there's still some snow left from last week's blizzard under there!

And there's a table and chairs buried somewhere too!

I'm feeling much like my old self again. Thanks for all your kind wishes.

My husband used to swear by one shot of Nyquil and two shots of Wild Turkey (working under the theory that it would pollute your system so much not even a germ would want to live in it!), but plain Advil Cold and Sinus seems to have done the trick!

We're supposed to get a brief respite sometime today until the next wave moves in. I wonder!

But we're safe, we're warm, and we have cocoa!

I also have duct tape if the kids become too much of a pain.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Enough Already!

Arrgghhhh! Another snow storm, this one predicted to last until early Saturday.

I've got a nasty cold and feel like death warmed over.

And wouldn't you know it? Typical Christmas vacation behavior from the sproggins....

"MOM, I'm sooooo bored!!"

How in the world did Jack Torrance stay sane that long with the whiny wife and annoying kid in The Shining?

At least I'm not bored with my new camera. Although I'm still trying to figure out all of the settings!

Here are pictures off our back deck at 1pm.

Hubby is on his way home---everything in town is shutting down.

Luckily, we're pretty stocked up so he didn't have to fight the crowds trying to get that last 2 gallons of milk in the grocery fridge.

Since the blizzard last week, the stores up here STILL haven't been able to restock on many items!

More later...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Blue Christmas

The eggnog has been drunk, the cookies eaten and the presents unwrapped.

Now it's all over but the clean-up.

Was it as good for you as it was for me? Just kidding.

Did you ever notice that there is always one happening---big or small---that makes certain Holiday years stand out from the rest? So when you make a reference to "that was the year cousin Bob had the flu and puked in the box of presents, but everybody thought he'd been drinking and Grandma gave him the stink-eye all day?" or "that was the year you ran your new bike into the back of the neighbor's parked car and we spent Christmas Day in the ER because you needed stitches in your face" everyone knows what year you're talking about?

The Hubby drove down to the big city with his buddies on Christmas Eve to watch the Denver Broncos play a home game. Nothing was terribly remarkable about that, except that it started to snow (again) and I was worried about the long mountainous drive back (again).

The boys were anxious, because we have a family tradition of opening one present the night before, and we had to wait until Hubby got home. If he got in an accident on the way, well no present tonight, huh.

So we spent the evening watching Home Alone 2; Lost in New York for about the 587th time.

It hasn't improved with age.

Hubby finally got home safely, the guys opened their presents, and we shooed them off to bed so we could get "Santa's" gifts under the tree before falling over with exhaustion. Hubby had brought home some leftover tail-gating food, and I munched on a few mini cupcakes with Bronco-colored frosting (dark blue with orange sprinkles) while we were waiting for the guys to be really and truly asleep.

The next morning I got up early, started coffee and a fire in the woodstove. I bent over to plug in the tree lights when it hit me. Stomach cramps. The urge to get to the bathroom immediately--right now--do not pass go, do-not-collect-two-hundred-dollars-get-in-there-now!

Oh no. I sure hoped it was just from eating too much rich food in the last couple of days and not a stomach bug!

I got the tree plugged in, and let the dogs out when a second wave of cramps hit me.

Back to the bathroom just in time. Volcanus buttuptus.

Did the requisite wiping, pulled up my jammie pants, turned to flush, and froze.

It was blue.

My poo was blue.

And not only was it a deep cobalt shade, but whatever had turned my doody blue had seeped out and colored the water as well.

It looked like a smurf exploded out of my butt!

What in the world....?

I thought about leaving the bowl intact so I could show it to Hubby when he woke up, but well, that's gross, and I do have SOME standards.

So after he awoke, and drank his first cup of coffee, I took Hubby aside and mentioned it to him.

"It must have been the cupcakes," he chuckled. We looked at the remaining two in the box. As someone who bakes, the amount of blue food coloring needed to get that shade of navy frosting never even crossed my mind. There must have been enough blue in each mini-cupcake to dye an entire t-shirt, judging from what had survived past my digestive tract!

We opened our presents, and Santa brought me just what I asked for! A digital camera! I posted a couple of my newbie tries here---hopefully with time I'll get all the settings figured out and my pictures will look better!

Just as we were finishing, my stomach started complaining again. I ran back into the bathroom.

After a few minutes, I heard scratching and my little dog whining. Then I heard hubby's voice right outside the door.

"Honey, are you ok in there?"

And more rustling.

Little Guy: "Is it blue, Mom? Can I see it?"

Big Guy: "Don't flush, Mom! I've got your new camera!"


This will go down forever in the annals of family lore as the "Blue Christmas".

And how was YOUR day?

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Yearly Christmas Letter

I propose that we have a law that mandates separating Yearly Christmas Letters into two batches.

I'm serious.

One set should be sent to people who know you well (like family and close friends), and the other set should be sent to people you keep in touch with infrequently or only once a year, mostly via Yearly Christmas Letters.

Because after reading some of these letters, those of us who know what fantastic people you are are often left scratching our heads and wondering if you had some kind of momentary eggnog-induced artery-clogging fat bubble in your brain that caused you to manifest an episode of Scary Orange Hair and Pompous Fart Disorder (it's listed under Donald Trump in the DSM-IV).

Since the early stages of our relationship, Hubby and I would save the Yearly Christmas Letters we received for a special night. We'd put the kids to bed, get out the snifters, have some Brandy or Grand Marnier (or more than some) and read them aloud to each other.

And laugh our damn fool heads off.

Maybe it sounds a bit unkind. But it's not.

We love hearing news from people we don't keep in frequent touch with.

But some letters from family and friends we are close to kind of freaked us out. Since as Paul Harvey used to say, we know "the rest of the story".

And since you know we know "the rest of the story", why in the world would you send us these silly letters? Alternative reality?

An example are the ones I like to call the "Who Are You Trying to Impress?" letters.

"Snotleigh was accepted at the very exclusive private Snerdsville Academy this year! Bratleigh has decided to stay in public school because he embraces all challenges!"

[Snotleigh threw his steel-toed boot at another kid on the bus but missed and hit the driver on the back of the head, causing him to momentarily lose consciousness and run into a telephone pole, so the kid has been banned from all public school buses for a year. Tuition at the Snerdsville Acadamy is an astronomical 25K per kid, so Bratleigh is just going to have make do like the little people!]

"This year, I did what I always dreamed of doing, and took a 60-day European tour (insert fabulous locations, shopping, food and details here)! Although Hubby missed me terribly, he graciously supported me in this opportunity to explore the world."

[I caught Hubby humping the housekeeper and convinced him that springing for this luxury tour would put a smaller hurt on his wallet than my divorcing his skanky cheating ass!]

Then there are the letters that seem to come from royalty, because the entire thing is written in third person with a royal "we".

Then there are the really weird ones.

One very lovely, gracious, successful, intelligent and usually "normal" friend sends out weird letters and writes about herself in third person. Apparently she had a bit of a weight problem as a teen (she's been thin as long as we've known her), because almost every year she references this in her Yearly Christmas Letter.

1995: "Sharon continues to keep her figure trim with yoga and swimming after losing 40 pounds in 1984."

1998: "Sharon is still slender after 14 years of weight loss and enjoys showing off her svelte silhouette in the slinky fall fashions. Vavavoom!"

2004: "Skiing is Sharon's new passion to maintain fitness (after losing over 40 pounds in 1984!). She could be a fashion model in her racy snow gear. Move over, Tyra Banks!!"


So hubby and I would get a little sauced and snicker over some of these letters and compose our own...

"After hitting the pinnacle of smoking 3-packs a day, Attila has managed to cut that in half this year. Now she just smells like a slightly smaller ash tray!

Mr. Attila was able to kick that nasty nose candy habit, and saved the family $6000.00 this year. We're looking forward to finishing the rec room (complete with full wet bar!) sometime in the spring with these extra savings!

The Big Kid has decided that it was time to move on from his first love and find a new girlfriend. Of course the restraining order helped this along a little bit.

The Little Guy has graduated from man-handling his janglies every time someone talks to him to the slightly less embarrassing action of sticking his finger up his nose like he is mining for treasure. We're so proud of him!"

Ok, I know we're a little demented. Maybe a lot demented.

But this is what passes for entertainment in the Atilla House!

Happy Holidays everyone! Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow and Then Knock Me Out With a Snow Shovel and Let Me Have Some Peace

Santa 3/Grinch 3

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a parallel universe!

I don't know about you, but when I was a kid, I loved snow days. No school, and I could curl up with my favorite book, drink cocoa or nap and feel cozy and safe in my house.

Not so with my guys. At least not this time.

If anybody missed the news, Colorado has been hit with a huge snowstorm. It's hard to tell exactly how much we've gotten up here in the mountains, because of the blizzard conditions and blowing snow. Although the news says we've gotten 2-3 feet so far, there are drifts that look like they are closer to 5 or 6 feet in some parts.

Yesterday morning, we only had a scant inch on the ground. Anticipating the upcoming storm, school districts closed all across the region.

When Little Guy got up, I told him he could go back to bed. He looked out of the window and was furious. "There's only this much!" he barked, showing me with his fingers.

I know, I know. But it's barely 6 am. We're supposed to get a lot more.

"But I have finals today!! I'm going to miss my finals!! "

I tried to assure him that he could make them up later, but it didn't seem to penetrate. He stomped off scowling and spent the morning sulking.

Geez, even I didn't love school THAT much as a kid!

Big Kid decided to take this as an opportunity to be a major PITA as well. For days he's been hassling me to drive him down to the city to hang out with a "friend" who is currently living in a seedy motel in a bad area.

I've refused.

I understand that the Big Kid is bored and lonely, and most of his old friends have been away at college or are going on holiday vacations. But this other young man is bad news. Really really bad news.

Bad news with raisins on top.

A couple of days ago, Big Kid asked me if we could "talk about it". I said why not? He explained that he knew his friend was a f*ck-up, but that didn't mean that HE was a f*ck-up. I let him say his piece, and then had my turn.

I got in his face and told him straight out---This boy is NOT YOUR FRIEND. Not only isn't he allowed in his parents' home (I suspect they actually pay him to live somewhere else), but he's a registered sex offender. He has STOLEN from you in the past. He has LIED to you in the past. He has USED you in the past. You DON'T DO THAT to friends. I think he is a sociopath because he has absolutely no problem stealing from and hurting people he calls "friend". I can't stop you from visiting him on your own steam, but he is not allowed in OUR home, and I am not going to facilitate this in any way by driving you down there!

Somehow this was translated into the language of Big Kid's planet as "Yes, I will drive you down to the city on Wednesday."

So snippets of our day yesterday went like this:

Me: Why don't we bake Christmas Cookies!

Little Guy: "I can't believe I'm missing my finals. The teachers are going to kill me!"

Have they ever killed you before?

Little Guy: "No."

Well I doubt they're going to start now over a snowstorm! They might eventually EAT you if you were all stranded together at the school for a couple of weeks and the vending machines were empty....

Little Guy: "Really?"

No, not really! I'm teasing!

Big Kid: "$%&+#@ snow!! It just has to ruin my %$#% life!!"

Help me make some cookies!

Big Kid: "I don't want to! I'm too depressed. @#$!!"

It's not like the snowstorm is a big surprise. Did you think the meteorologists just pulled this information out of their butts?

Big Kid: "They said it was going to snow on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and it didn't. I just thought they were wrong."

So I made cookies by myself all day. How come they never come out looking like the picture? My chocolate macaroons look like little turdlets!

The two knuckleheads kept wandering in and out of the kitchen.

Little Guy: "My teachers are going to kill me!"

I don't think they'll do anything so drastic. Maybe they'll just rip your arm off and beat you over the head with it.

Little Guy: Really?

No, not really!! Look, school is closed for everybody! For the teachers and other students too! You're not the only one who is missing finals!!

Big Guy: "How come you don't have snow tires on your car? If you had snow tires, you could drive me into the city. How come you didn't anticipate this? Are you trying to ruin my life?"

I had to take them off for YOUR driving lessons. We just haven't had a chance to get them put back on. But even if I had them, I wouldn't be driving you down to the city. I wouldn't be driving ANYWHERE in this!!

Little Guy: "The teachers are going to kill all of us for missing finals. They're going to be so mad at us."

Although I've met some squirrely teachers in my time, I hardly think they'd resort to mass murder. Everything will be fine, I promise!

Big Kid: "What time is Dad coming home?"

Early. He says the roads are really bad. Everything is closing in town.

Big Kid: "Well then if he's early, maybe he can drive me down to the city."

Are you insane? Have you been listening to the news? The highway is closed from Denver to the New Mexico border! The highway out of the mountains is closed!

Big Kid: "But that's what 4-wheel drive is for!"

Closed means closed! For EVERYBODY! And do you think he'd risk his life and yours so you can hang out with that asshat in the city? What the heck is he supposed to do in the meantime? Sit in a drift until you're ready to come home?

Big Kid: "@#$%# Snow. Just ruining my life!"

Little Guy: "I'm going to be dead and you don't care! I won't be nice to you in Heaven!"

As soon as Hubby got home I grabbed my book and my cocktail--er cocoa and locked myself away from the screaming horde. There was only a couple of hours left of the snow day and dammit, SOMEBODY was going to enjoy it!

Woke up this morning and it's still snowing.

Oh joy to the world!

Put me out of my misery!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Stupid Asshat Parent Behaving Badly

I didn't know whether to file this under "Did You Eat a Steaming Bowl of Stupid for Breakfast?" or "Asshat of the Week" or "Parents Behaving Badly". It's so nasty that it seems to encompass all three.

So I'm going to call it Stupid Asshat Parent Behaving Badly. Really really badly.

Julie Figueroa was recently convicted of forcing her 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter to take explicit nude photos of herself so she could put them on the internet to meet men. Some of the pictures were taken with her son's cell phone camera, and he took it to school and shared the photos with his friends. [eww. ewwwwww]

The kids are now in the custody of their father.

Figueroa apparently didn't comprehend the potential damage to her children or the level of inappropriateness involved in this crime. She came to her sentencing wearing a pair of tight jeans that had "Booty" on one butt cheek and "Licious" on the other---emblazoned in rhinestones.

I'm sure that wasn't lost on the judge.

She was sentenced to 9 to 48 months in prison. As she was handcuffed and let from the courtroom, her 20-year-old daughter went into a rant.

"This isn't fair!" she screamed.

I agree.

No child should be forced to take beaver shots of Mommy.

What in the hell is wrong with people?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Sunday Trumpet---The Innocent Man

I've been waiting for Ma Titwonky's review with bated breath, and as always, she does not disappoint!

Instead of taking on an obvious target (like Nora Roberts of the heaving bosom genre) she sets her sights on one of the public's most popular authors----John Grisham.

To be honest, I really did enjoy the plots of The Firm and The Pelican Brief. After that I more or less let Grisham's novels pass me by for authors who are more skilled. Why spend 8 bucks if an author's mediocre writing style annoys? Not moi!

Stop on by and read what she thinks of Grisham's latest book---not a novel this time, but a true crime story!

If you'd like to join the Gasbags, sign up here!

Note to New Gasbags: Don't forget to put these up on your blog on Sundays so the other Gasbags will do the same when it's your turn!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Being Santa's Helper....

Santa 3/Grinch 2

I've been busy putting together our presents for the Little Guy's teachers and 40 of Hubby's business associates and clients. eek!

This year I'm going with a "Cold Weather Care Package" theme.

It's a holiday-printed lunch bag stuffed full with an assortment of Bellagio cocoas and mochas, Bigelow Flavored Teas, Honey Sticks, Hot Cider Drink Mixes, Biscotti, bon bons and chocolate truffles, along with a gift certificate to our local used book store.

Oh, and some of those Lazzaroni Amaretti di Saronno cookies. Actually this was an excuse to justify buying 2 bags, because I JUST LOVE THEM.

They're stapled at the top with curly ribbons and look quite festive.

Anyhoo, the big kid and I gave them a test run by giving them to our classmates the last day of school. It was a big hit with the starving students, although some of them had to explain to the old folks what the honey sticks were for!

Since I'm such a fabulous shopper (ha ha--or should I say a lucky one!) I was able to get everything in bulk at close-to-wholesale, so each bag cost less than 3 bucks to put together without the gift certificate. I was able to negotiate with the owner of the bookstore to get those for 20% off, so we're good to go!

Ok, there is a point to this post, and I'm getting to it!!

My mom forwarded me an email last night called A Senior Christmas. It is supposed to be cheerful, but with all of the family stuff going on, it made me feel a bit melancholy.

I started thinking about all of our seniors who are in nursing homes and who don't have families to visit them or think of them during the holidays. There are always a few. My dad was in a nursing home for a brief time, and they can be pretty grim.

So while I'm still knee deep in the extra packages of cocoa and tea and treats, I came up with a plan.

We don't need these extra things to make our holiday brighter. Just being alive and healthy and together makes the season bright enough.

The guys and I are going to spend the weekend putting together a couple of holiday baskets to take over to the local nursing home. I looked on the web to see what might be items most suited and came up with a list:

Warm Fuzzy Socks
Lip Balm
Plastic Cups with lid and straw
Stuffed Animal
Tea, Hot Chocolate, or Apple Cider Mixes
Playing Cards
Note Cards and Stamps
Large Type Crossword Puzzle Book and Mechanical Pencil
Soft Candy

If you're looking for a simple project to keep the kids busy over the holidays, this might be one to think about! You could really brighten up someone's day!


Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Sunday Trumpet---Ghost Whisperer

Ok, I know I'm going to make a lot of fans mad. But hear me out.

With this series, I have a really hard time suspending my disbelief enough to get into it.

Disbelief that some people have extra-sensory gifts and bizarre and creepy things happen?

No. Actually I LOVE that stuff.

When the series Miracles came out in 2003, I ate it up. The fact that it starred the incredibly edible Angus Macfadyen was just peanut butter spread on my 'nana sammich.

I was bummed when it abruptly got canceled after only 10 episodes, and had a brief moment of ecstasy when the DVD of the whole series came out which included the last 3 unaired least I had a tiny bit of closure.

I can't suspend my disbelief enough to identify with anything in Ghost Whisperer at all.

When the show Medium became a phenomenal hit on NBC in January 2005, another network had to get in with the concept to rake up some of the audience-interest profit.

That's nothing new---think Wipe Swap/Trading Spouses, Super Nanny/Nanny 911, Knot's Landing/Falcon Crest, Dallas/Dynasty, Magnum PI/Matt Houston. Some networks have been franchising on themselves--Law and Order, CSI, etc, and the list goes on. Nobody seems to have an original idea any more.

Now I'm not some closed-minded dort who is an either/or person, like those who got snotty over the ER/Chicago Hope thing (ER was "entertainment", Chicago Hope was for people who "think"). I liked both series. Their initial promo ads were almost identical, but they turned out to be very different shows.

But fer pete's sakes, if the creators of Ghost Whisperer had to ride Medium's coattails, could they have at least tried to avoid the tired cliches and "formula" plotting? And what does it say about us as an audience when we just fall all over it?

In the last few years, in my opinion, the really interesting shows have been based on flawed characters, not perfect plastic people. Like Lost, House, M.D., etc.

Although the concept of Medium is "supposedly" based on the life of real-life psychic Allison Dubois, I suspect that the only thing they really have in common is the name of the central character.

That said, in a brief recap----Allison (played by Patricia Arquette) is a housewife and mother to 3 increasingly bratty and pudding-faced kids. Her hubby is some kind of research wonk who doesn't earn enough for them to be financially comfortable. He is at turns supportive and petty.

She has big boobs, but they are big mommy boobs that are proportionate to the rest of her mommy body. Allison has a realistic and limited mommyish career wardrobe consisting of polyester pantsuits and blouses that strain at the seams, but she's comfortable in that and herself, and sexy as hell at home in bed with hubby with her snuggly oversized t-shirt.

I can visualize her life, and when dead people start showing up for help, well, it isn't that much of a stretch to believe it could happen.

The show is a huge success for NBC. So CBS scrambles like heck to get it's own supernatural show and comes up with a slick piece of work with the uber original name of Horse Whisperer. No, I'm sorry, that's a Robert Redford movie about a guy who talks to horses. Dog Whisperer? oops. That's the guy on the National Geographic channel who talks to dogs.

Formula: Couple that is too perfect for words

Beautiful, bland and boring Melinda Gordon (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt's breasts) is married to an equally beautiful, bland and boring man.

He's so boring I don't even know what his name is. Thad? Storm? Ridge? Throw in a couple of cute and quirky attributes--to try to make them seem like real folks---he's trying to restore their house, except that he can't fix anything properly (but he looks adorable doing it), and she talks to dead people (and looks equally adorable doing it).

You can't imagine either one ever having cabbage stuck in their perfect dental work or farting at the dinner table.

She conveniently owns an antique shop (lots of haunted objects for future adventures!), so it's only "natural" that she should wear vintage, low-cut, gauzy, froofy, retro-victorianish dresses that showcase the real star of the show: Her boobs!

Ok, I admit, I haven't watched much of the second season, and maybe all the articles and jokes out there have made the producers rethink all the titty shots that were de rigueur in the first season. But it seems as if the camera panned up over the boobs to get a shot of Melinda's pensive face with almost comic regularity.

My hubby calls it a "Hewitt Hooter" shot.

Formula: Must have a stereo-typical and politically correct side-kick (meaning any of these side-kicks could have been the star and made it more interesting)

First a black woman (played by the gorgeous Aisha Tyler, who I hope gets a starring vehicle of her own soon instead of the supporting characters she's been playing) was her business partner and side-kick. They killed Aisha off when a airliner fell on her at the end of the first season.

Now her new business partner and side-kick is a chubby white single mother (played by another actress I adore, Camryn Manheim).

I predict they're going to kill her off at the end of this season in an equally improbable accident (frozen blue toilet water chunk from the Concorde falls out of the sky and smashes her on the noggin while she waters her begonias?), making room for JLHB's next business partner and side-kick who will be a gay asian man (played by the fabulous B.D. Wong).

He'll get squashed like a bug when an evil antique armoire falls on him.

The next business partner and side-kick will (pick race and gender) drive a wheelchair and have mad computer skills, because gosh-darn-it that's what young TV people in wheelchairs are good at! This character will probably have an untimely demise by falling on the subway tracks and getting zapped by the third rail when pushed by a 12 year-old who is possessed by the spirit of Idi Amin.

And so on, and so on.

Did I leave anybody out? Oh yes, anorectic bimbo socialites. I'm sure in a few years it will politically correct to throw Nicole Ritchie or Paris Hilton a bone after their 15 minutes are over. I might even stick around long enough to see one of them choke to death on a haunted ham and swiss on rye.

I think the reason I dislike this show the most is because Melinda Gordon reminds me of a Confidential Intermediary. And a bad one at that.

When birth parents and adoptees search for each other, some states (and parts of Canada) require an intermediary process.

What that means is that the adoptee will have a conversation with the CI, who will then tell his/her version of it to the birth parent, editing information as he/she sees fit. Then the CI will do the same with the birth parent. And back and forth and back and forth until the CI decides it's "safe" to let these adults actually talk to each other by themselves without being censored.

I've heard of many reunions that have started out on the wrong foot at the hands of inept CI's who put their own "spin" on things. It's like a game of telephone gone bad.

But I digress.

Anyway, a conversation with the dead on Ghost Whisperer goes something like this.

Newly Dead Person: "Please tell him that I'm so sorry I had to leave him. Tell him that he was the best thing that ever happened to me. He made my life worth living. I know he's struggling with this, but he can keep me in his heart and move on with his life. Let him know that I'm by his side watching over him, and that I'm ok. We'll be together again some day."

Jennifer Love Hewitt's Breasts: "She says she's proud of you."


"She's proud of you"?

This is the very last communication these two will ever have in this dimension and you have to water it down to one freaking sentence? That's NOT WHAT SHE SAID!

Ok, ok, technically I know that there are time constraints in TVLand and having Melinda repeat word for word what the newly dead person said would cut into the Cialis and Carls, Jr. advertising space. But every single time she does this I have an urge reach through the screen and grasp her around her perfect throat.

And shake her like a terrier with a rat.

If you'd like to join the Gasbags, sign up here!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Here We Come A-Wassailing!!

Santa 2/Grinch 2

I've been woefully remiss in reading your blogs during the last month or so (due to school and family issues), and I deeply apologize. I'm been catching up as fast as I can!

The very funny and talented Ruth Dynamite wrote a fabulous post about the endearing tradition of repeating peculiar family lore during the Thanksgiving holiday, and it's been percolating around in my brain for a few weeks.

That's one of the wonderful things about blogging. You stumble upon a bunch of people from all over who share an incredible array of experiences from their lives, and something somebody writes sparks you into a burst of creativity.

So Ruth's post about family stories made me think of a couple within my own clan, one that I'm going to share below.

If anybody has a funny, touching, inspirational, silly, etc family story to share---write it up on your blog and let me know.

I'll link and pimp the heck out of it after the 14th of the month.

Here's mine!

About 10 years ago, we had a family get-together. My older brother, who lived in another state at the time, came into town a couple of days early. We usually use our Little Guy's room as the guest room, not only because he is an exceptionally clean and organized kid, but also because he has a nice big queen-sized bed.

When we have guests, he either sleeps in a single pull-out up in our loft, or beds down in a pile of sleeping bags in the basement.

My brother didn't want to put the kid out, so he volunteered to sleep in the basement with the sleeping bags. It's not as primitive as it sounds---it's a nice basement!

Anyway, big brother's girlfriend was due to arrive late one night (she couldn't get off work earlier), and took a cab from the airport. While we were waiting, we started cocktail hour without her and were feeling mighty jolly when she arrived.

I told my guys to have a camp-out in the basement so that my brother and his girl could use the bedroom. My brother protested that they'd be "fine" on the basement floor, but I could tell that his girlfriend wasn't thrilled with the idea.

As the evening wore on, we got quite tipsy.

Ok, scratch that.

We were sh*t-faced, and spent the night reminiscing about silly family stories (like the one my brother NEVER lets go of---he tells everyone about the time I stuck a bobby pin in an electrical outlet and zapped the hell out of myself. He embellishes it with every retelling).

Brother's girlfriend was simply exhausted by the plane ride and altitude change and stumbled off to bed. We all stayed up for another hour or so, drinking and laughing.

Finally my brother decided that he'd had enough and was going to hit the sack. The rest of the party was winding down, and hubby and I started collecting glasses.

Suddenly we heard a bellow. And a thump! thump! thump! My brother came stumbling up the stairs from the basement and raced into the kitchen, looking shocked, sober and a little sick.

"What's wrong? What happened?"

My big kid (who was about 9 at the time) appeared in the doorway behind him, rubbing his eyes.

"Uncle R hugged me and gave me a Wet Willie (licked his ear)!"

Believe me, Uncle "Willie" is never going to live THAT one down!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Santa 1, Grinch 2

Score one for Santa!

Today was the last day that my physical presence was required during my first semester back in college.

Guess what?

I got A's in all my classes!

If you're coming in to my blog late, I went back to college this semester to work on getting my paralegal certificate after being out of the saddle for almost 20 years.

Although the semester doesn't officially end until the 10th, my classes are essentially over. I have two small assignments to turn in for two separate classes, but oddly enough, I've racked up enough points to have A's whether I turn them in or not.

Of course, being as anal as I am, I'm going to turn them in tomorrow.

I just wanted to share with all of you, and to thank you so much for your support and encouragement since I made the decision to go back to college.

I'll be out of school for about 7 weeks, so it will give me time to catch up with you and your blogs, which I've sadly neglected.

Hubby's taking me out to a seafood feast to celebrate this weekend!

Ho ho ho! (and a bottle of rum!)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Do You Hear What I Hear?

Santa 0, Grinch 2

I think I have bad orthodontist karma.
I don't know why, because we always pay the bill on time, we follow all the directions, even the oogy ones involving turning keys in appliances in the top of the mouth, little rubberbands, and the kid has good oral hygiene.

A couple of months ago, I brought you a really embarrassing story about how I snotted all over myself in the waiting room at Little Guy's appointment.

Even though it was just an unfortunate incident, I jumped at the chance to change to the 10am-ish appointment time slot, so I'd be less likely to run into someone who might remember me running out of the office with that mess dripping all over my hands and arms.

You'd think that I'd be pretty anonymous in a doctor's office, but no such luck.

In our small mountain town, the orthodontist only comes up here every other Friday. Every kid in town with braces fit their appointments in on those two days a month. We have to drive down into the city to the other office for the really big stuff. And people with particular time-slots seem to reschedule the same one every visit.

Last Friday was Little Guy's appointment. We got there in time, and the place was packed. They were running behind schedule. We finally got seats, and the kid was disgruntled about the delay. Seems he actually LIKES gym class and was mad about missing it.

We were wedged in at the end of a row, with a small end-table between us and the wall. I just sat back and took in the environment.

Anyway, the kid finally got called in, and I didn't feel like reading my book, so I sat looked around at everybody. On the table next to me, there was a large sign that read, "Due to the sensitive nature of some of our equipment, we respectfully ask that you turn off your cellphones." I looked around again. There was a sign like that on the reception desk, and on the two other end tables.

I checked mine. It was off.

There were 3 women yakking away on theirs.

So I sat there for about 10 minutes working my way into an anxiety attack. I could just imagine the orthodontist putting some pointy electric drill thing in my kid's mouth and having it take on a life of its own due to these inconsiderate asshats---shooting a 10-inch needle up through the roof of his mouth into his brain or something.

Ok, I'm weird that way.

One yakking woman seemed to have 6 kids with her---the oldest in the mid-teens. They were seated when we got there, so they obviously weren't the ortho patient. I started's around 11am on a school day. Is this a field trip? Home school event?

The youngest in the group was around 3 or 4 years old. He actually had one of those plastic guns that shoots the darts with the suction cups on the end. Granted, he only had ONE dart, but what kind of freaking fool would let their kid run around a closed waiting room shooting darts at stuff?

The mother was obliviously caught up in her phone conversation, her older kids were totally disinterested (busy catching up on real-world culture by reading 3 months worth of Teen Beat magazines), and the receptionist kept giving them the hairy eyeball but was too wimpy to tell this woman to take control of her kid.

The kid with the gun shot his dart at the wall in the corner by my head. The dart bounced off the wall, and dropped down underneath the end table next to me.

There was a big decorative holiday basket filled with pine cones in front of the table, and the kid didn't have the age-appropriate knowledge that he could just MOVE the basket to get his dart, and I wasn't about to illuminate him. Relief at last!

I took my book out and started reading.

But then he started whimpering.

First it was just a snuffle. He went to his mother and snuffled at her. She ruffled his hair, and turned away so she could hear better in her cell phone. He went to each of his siblings, and they totally ignored him.

Then he came back and stood in front of me.

He ratcheted up the snuffle a bit. It turned into a whine. Then it became a wail.

All the people in the waiting room who had previously tuned this little cretin out started staring. I think only a couple of people actually witnessed the dart hitting-the-wall-and-dropping-under-the-table bit, and maybe they thought this little brat was mine. Or they thought I was torturing him in some way. Why didn't I take care of him and shut him up?

I looked helplessly toward his mother, who was still preoccupied with her conversation. His siblings were completely unconcerned with his existence.

So I moved the basket of pinecones and got down on my hands and knees to retrieve his toy .

And promptly ripped ass.

Not some delicate lady-like poof, but a big juicy rambling padambling phaducka.

If farts were visible, I probably would have had flames shooting 3 feet out of my butt.

I came out from under the table red-of-face, with the dart in my hand, and I noticed that the room was silent and all eyes were on me. Even the kid's neglectful mother had stopped yakking.

So I handed him the dart and said, "Be careful! You'll shoot your eye out, Kid!"

I wonder if the orthodontist has any openings in the 3 o'clock time-slot?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Sunday Trumpet---The Wicker Man

Our friend Tera over at Sweet Perdition has done a bang-up job dissecting the remake of The Wicker Man, starring Nicholas Cage. I just love her reviews!

This one's coming off the Netflix list!

Pop on by and give her a holler!

If you'd like to join the Gasbags, sign up here!

Previous reviews this season:

The Eleventh

Looking Beyond the Cracked Window

A Droll Way to Look at Things

Miss Keeks

Sven's Personal Memos

My Beautiful Life

Note to new Gasbags: Don't forget to post a link to these reviews on your blog on Sundays so others will do the same for you when it's your turn!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Santa 0, Grinch 1

I love the holiday season. I love everything about it. I love being with family, picking out the perfect presents, and letting friends know how much they mean to me.

I'm having a little trouble getting into the holiday spirit this year. We had a death in the family, and it's finals next week in college. I'm feeling a little stressed out, and maybe when all that's over I'll be able to unwind a bit.

I hope so, because things aren't feeling very friendly at the Attila house!

A few days ago, UPS dropped off a humongous package on my front porch. It was from Since I'm signed up for Amazon Plus, I get 2-day free shipping, and I'm beating the hell out of my membership. I'm kind of like the guy who goes back for 12 helpings at the all-you-can-eat crab leg and shrimp buffet.

Amazon prolly doesn't know what hit them!

Anyhoo, I had the guys lug the box in and stash it in the dining room. I had ordered industrial-sized packages of Pampers and baby wipes for a friend's baby shower, and a very large present for one of my brothers for Xmas. I didn't know which it was, but with everything that's been going on this week, I wasn't in any huge hurry to open it.

I got around to it last night.

That sucker was so overstuffed that the minute I cut the tape, all these big poofy air packaging pillows shot out. I looked in and saw blue canvas.

Blue! Sh*t!

The thing I ordered for my brother was red! Then I saw the gift card.

"To G, with love from Aunt D and Uncle C". Yikes! I backed away from the package.

I looked at the front of the box. It belonged to some neighbors that are 4 addresses away.

When I say neighbor, I kind of use the term loosely. Yes, we're in a neighborhood, but each plot is 2-5 acres. It's not like we can hop down the road to borrow a cup of sugar and be back lickety-split.

So I tried to tape the damn box back up. It was virtually impossible with all the poofy things. I had the little guy lay on top of the box for me, and I finally got it closed with a very messy tape job.

I felt terrible. I know I probably should have looked at the address on the box, but it never even occured to me. I saw the big Amazon swoosh thing, and since I was expecting quite a few items, I thought it was for me. My neighbors had probably been wondering what in the heck had happened to their stuff.

So I tried to call them. Their number is unlisted. I know they USED to have a listed number, because some years ago I had to call them frequently to come get their $#@#!! dog that had the nasty habit of crapping all over my front deck.

Oh wait.

Never mind.

I called hubby back east (he was still there taking care of some things for his mom) and asked if had any idea of how to get a hold of these people. He suggested I call the president of the homeowner's association.

His @#$&%$!! number was unlisted too.

Why didn't I just throw the thing in my car and deliver it myself? Well....I'll tell you.

These people have a very long, steep and winding single lane driveway because their house is set far away from the road. We had a recent snow and ice storm, and I had my studded snow tires taken off my car for big kid's driving lessons. I'm sure I could get down the drive with no problem, but I wasn't sure I could get back UP driving backwards.

Yes backwards. There is NO room to turn around. I'm amazed they manage to get anything delivered.

So I had the bright idea to call UPS. Next time the guy came out, he could pick it up and deliver it to the correct address, right?

Oh brother.

This is how the conversation went.

I called the UPS 800 number, and explained that the wrong package was delivered to my house. I had opened it by mistake...

"You opened it?"

Well, yeah...?

"You opened it without looking at the address?"

I assumed that since it was sitting on my doorstep that it was meant for me. I mean, who else would it be for?
Henry Kissinger?

"I can't believe you opened it!"

Look, I opened it. I can't unopen it. Since I've been getting almost daily deliveries, can your guy pick it up and deliver it to the right house?

"Oh no, he can't! You have to call the shipper, request that they send you a label, and call us to schedule a pick-up, and we'll send it back to them to inspect the contents."

Are you freaking serious? I never took anything out. I looked in, saw it was something blue and taped it right back up! I couldn't even tell you what it was!

"You shouldn't have opened it!"

If I give you the tracking number, can you see if there's a phone number on the order and just give them a call and tell them where their package is?

"No, I can't do that!"

Well, why the hell not?

"You have to call the shipper and request that they send you a label, I'll give you the number...."

By this time, I'd just about had enough. I decided to mess with her a little bit.

No, I think not.


I'm not going to do that. This is stupid. Really stupid.

"I beg your pardon?"

What will happen if I decide not to call the shipper? What if I just do nothing?

"I don't understand what you're saying....?"

At some point these people are going to realize that they haven't gotten their package. They're going to call the merchant who is going to call you, and somewhere down the line they're going to figure out that your company screwed up. And you'll have to replace the item with the automatic insurance that's purchased because your driver can't tell a 3 from a 9.

So if I do nothing, does that mean I get a free blue thing because you can't be bothered to contact them to let them know you delivered it to the wrong house?

"You can't do that!"

Why not? You refused to take the tracking number or any other information, so how are you going to find me?

I gently hung up the phone. Hmph.

Me and the guys loaded the package in the car and decided to chance it. I was afraid that maybe this was a birthday present for the neighbor kid, and I'd already had the box for a couple of days.

We made it down their driveway (and back up backwards without running into a tree or ditch), but alas no one was home. They did have a new dog who tried to brain itself by smashing it's head over and over into the glass that surrounds their door when I rang the bell. I taped a note to the box asking them to call me (so I could explain the odd tape mess) and left it on their porch.

...Next to a package the UPS guy DID manage to deliver correctly (maybe I should have checked it. It could have been for ME!). :::sigh:::

I'm just spreading cheer all over the damn place, aren't I?