Saturday, December 31, 2005

Biggest Phone Bill Ever

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Phone rings. I pick up. I hear, "This is the AT&T operator--"

Great, I think, telemarketer, but then he says, "--with a collect call from Iraq. Will you accept the charges?"

Hell, yes!

It's baby bro, who has two convoys and a lot of paperwork to execute before climbing on a plane to Kuwait. Woo hoo! January 5 is the big day! He talks to mom. He talks to his kids, who are visiting mom for the weekend. He talks to me. He tells me to tell him how much this phone call is costing.

Like I care. Merry Christmas to baby bro, and Happy New Year for us. Our soldier is coming home!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: LL COOL J



I tend to play a lot of music in my classroom, and whenever LL Cool J's "I Need Love" rotates on, all the kids sing along with him. So do I. There's something about this guy that's just irresistible. Probably the growly voice and the six pack. The muscles don't hurt, either.

DINNER LIST: DICK CLARK



This man is a miracle of genetics, or modern science, or something. He never ages. Never. I remember watching American Bandstand (Yes, I am that old, get over it) as a kid, and he looks like that still, even if he is moving a little more slowly these days. The ball drop wasn't quite the same without him last year, was it? Glad to see he's back in action, freezing his *ss off in Times Square for our New Year's enjoyment. We could meet after for hot chocolate.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Back to Normal

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Christmas fun's over. Time to clean again (oy). The living room at Chez mimi has been exploded with toys, which now need to migrate down the hall, especially since mimi will be hosting yet another family dinner (dad, stepmom, baby sis/hub, sis/hub/nephew) on New Year's Day. Yikes.

Resolution season is coming, too, so I'm in the frame of mind to be changing some things. Like financial responsibility. I hate being stressed about money all the time! Since mimi's checkbook register hasn't been reliably looked after since--erm--May, methinks I will start fresh on Jan. 1. (There is a downside to debit cards) That, plus the usual diet/weight resolutions, blah blah, but this time, I'd like to get them right. Less pressure, more success. This could take some thinking. I'll get back to you in a week.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Gee, thanks, Dad!

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If you're sharp, you get the sarcasm in the title, but if not, let me explain. My dad went gray early. Like totally-white-by-the-age-of-fifty early. And of course, I am just. like. my. dad.

Gray hair started popping up when I was in my twenties. My early twenties. Luckily, I have a lot of curly hair, so they were easy to hide, but I'm vain enough to want some reinforcement. So I turn to the marvelous world of haircolor, starting off with a burgundy color wash. (It was the eighties. Sue me.) I think I look exotic. My more practical sister takes one look and delivers the death blow. "Purple." **cringe**

It's soon obvious that my hair will not be Nice 'n Easied into submission, so I turn to the semi-permanent stuff. Washes out in 12-24 shampoos. I'm Natural, I have Instincts, I'm a Southern gal, so I like the sound of this:


Pecan. Reminds me of pie. Pie is yummy. Pie, however, becomes less and less able to conceal the Gray's Rebellion taking place on my scalp. So I gulp and hit the hard stuff. Level 3. Permanent. And I turn to the Europeans.

Europeans like food, too. And so now I'm no longer a pecan. I'm a Chestnut.


Or not. Turns out haircolor oxidizes on your head. I live in Florida. That means lots of oxidation. So instead of my car rusting out, my head does. Lovely. I switch to Truffle,


a lovely shade of brown with no red. One problem: I have curly hair. Curly, dry hair. Curly, dry hair that soaks up haircolor, so if I'm not careful with the balance between enough-time-to-cover-resistant-gray and too much, I look like Goth Girl. Not a good look for an almost-40-year-old. Experimentation is good, especially when you have colors named luscious things like Chocolate Caramel:



(sounds great on the box, but not good on my head). Back to the store we go for more reinforcements. The winner:



Acorn!! Light natural brown. Looks mahvelous. I'm my old self again!

Okay, not that old looking, since the gray is gone, for now. I'll go gray someday. Just not today.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

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Santa Claus came to town. Did you get everything you wished for? I already have. Wonderful husband, beautiful and healthy children, dogs, mortgage, car payments. Suburban paradise.

All I want now is peace on earth, good will toward men. But that's going to need some cooperation from some other folks.

Merry Christmas. And to my baby bro in Mosul, only 11 more days!!

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: MATT DAMON



I know, I know. Matt Damon's a pretty boy. I agree. But DH and I love the two Bourne movies (The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy), so I've been having an all-Matt smackdown for the past couple of days. Matt with his shirt off is darned cute, in a sneak-around-behind-your-parents kind of a way. Kind of like jailbait, but without the messy legal consequences.

DINNER LIST: JOHNNY DAMON



This is Johnny, aka "The Idiot," in happier times, when he was with the Red Sox. He's since committed the baseball cardinal sin and signed a big money contract with the Evil Empire, aka the hated Yankees. I know he's young and semi-good looking, but since I knew him when he was a teenager, he's pretty much permanent jailbait as far as I'm concerned. He'd be interesting to talk to, though. Like how he got a big, fat book contract just because he's a ballplayer. Sheesh!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

In the Trenches

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Never let it be said that mimi has a firm grasp on time and planning. I plan, but not very far ahead. Case in point: I'm still Christmas shopping.

The problem with most of my problems is that I am a Mozart. Let me explain. In college, one of my professors kicked off our Theater Appreciation course with a small book called The Creative Process, which contained numerous essays about wildly creative people (like Mozart, Edison, etc.) and how they managed what they did. When I read the chapter on Mozart, bells went off. Mozart would walk around composing for weeks and weeks--in his head--and only when he could "hear" the piece the way he thought it should go would he get pen and paper and transcribe his work.

That's kind of how I do things. I'm no Mozart, of course, but I also walk around thinking about stuff. The new book. Scenes. Dialogue. Lesson plans. Home decor. Tonight's dinner. Christmas lists. After I've pondered it long enough, it spills out in one great rush. Unfortunately for me, that's usually right on top of some deadline.

Like kids in their jammies on Christmas morning. Eek.

Guess I have to brave the Toys 'R' Us after all. And popping a few cards in the mail wouldn't be bad, either. I think some of my college friends think I died.

Friday, December 16, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: NOAH HUNTLEY



I'm having a Narnia kind of week. DH and I took the kids to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe last weekend (which was great, BTW). Book Club discussed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. One of the Book Club gals pointed us to this online Narnia personality quiz. So I take it, and I turn out to be Peter, the High King. How does this relate to Noah Huntley? I hear you cry. At the end of the movie, High King Peter and his fellow King and Queens are chasing the white stag when they stumble into the lantern waste...oh, heck, read the book for yourself. Noah Huntley plays High King Peter all grown up, and damn. I'd grovel all 'round his throne at Cair Paravel for a shot at His Majesty. Yea, verily.

DINNER LIST: RAY BRADBURY



Since I'm on a fantasy kick, I have to invite one of my favorite authors of all time for dinner. Ray Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451. The Martian Chronicles. Dandelion Wine. Something Wicked This Way Comes. "The Veldt" and "There Will Come Soft Rains" and "A Sound of Thunder." As a writer, I'm in awe of how this man crafts language. As a teacher, I love introducing students to his ideas, his love for language and thought and expression. As someone who loves smart men, I'd just love to spend a long evening with Ray Bradbury. Talk about a butterfly effect on your whole life.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Rejection Part Deux

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Got another reject today, from Kensington. Today's verdict: "The novel had an appealing angle and was very readable, but I felt the story development needed to be much more fresh and original. In the end, the boyfriend/car conceit didn't go very far for me."

Hate that running out of gas feeling, especially when it affects a possible sale. Argh. More pasta in the works.

Then, back into the game. I've been sitting in the writing coach waiting for the damned horses to show up. In essence, no movement. Seems like new horses are in order. Like maybe tooling the baseball book for NEXT. We'll see what Dream Agent has to say about that.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Little Monsters' Mommies!

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Apologies in advance to those of you who aren't as sports-obsessed as mimi, but this morning's paper contained an interesting story that dovetails so nicely with my rant on monster children, I just had to comment.

Apparently Josh Portis, the backup quarterback for the Florida Gators, will be transferring to another school after the Gators play in this year's Outback Bowl. Why? Because mom wants him to.

Mom, you see, has been orchestrating Josh's football career for years. When he wasn't getting what she viewed as the proper level of respect at Redondo Union High School in California, she transferred him to Long Beach Poly, a well-known football power. When it became clear that Josh wasn't going to be handed the starter job over a couple of seniors during his junior year, she transferred him to Taft High. Josh became a starter and was offered a scholarship at Utah, which became a scholarship to Florida when Coach Urban Meyer took over the reins at the Swamp.

This year, Josh is #2--as a true freshman, mind you--behind junior Chris Leak, who's talented enough to have been on the Heisman watch his first two years at UF. Apparently, that's not enough for mom. #2 in a blue-chip football program as a sophomore is just not enough respect for Patricia Portis's baby, so Josh will be transferring.

At this point, someone has to wonder what's in it for Patricia. Is she really looking out for Josh, or is she orchestrating what she thinks will be a mansion and a sweet, expensive ride once Josh makes it to the NFL? (Assuming, of course, his clock isn't cleaned and he's not permanently injured during his remaining three years of eligibility.) Are her machinations for her baby, or for herself?

Either way, that's a scary prospect. I'm a supportive mom and know I have the two best kids on the planet. But so do most of my friends with kids. It's a mother's job to be mama bear, to swat dangerous things out of your babies' paths and teach them how to survive in the big, bad forest of life. But I wonder whether Josh Portis and kids like him (aka, the little monsters who run wild in restaurants until the Big, Bad Owner asks them to behave like civilized creatures) will ever learn those survival skills if mom keeps moving them to a different part of the forest every time they comes up against a challenge?

If Josh Portis is as good as mom claims, there's no reason why Josh can't earn his place himself. Chris Leak, good as he is, hasn't adjusted quickly to his new coach's offensive style. Josh could have become the starter on his own merits, but how can that happen with mom swooping in (and showing up at least once a week at practice, and hanging around the athletic complex where Josh lives). Most tellingly, when asked about her role in his transfer choice, she hung up.

Mom, back off. Give the kid room to grow--and get knocked on his ass by a defensive lineman. More importantly, are you as forceful and concerned about his coursework at Florida? Do you expect him to earn his degree, or do you (and this is a scary thought) view him solely as a professional football playing-gravy train who's going to "get his regardless," as I've heard some parents say?
Assuming your kid does make it to the NFL, do you think a pro coach is going to go along with your demands? Josh's lockermates will probably wonder what kind of punk lets his mama make all his choices for him--not a good situation for a rookie to be in.

And that goes for you moms who scream at Little League/soccer/Pee Wee coaches, teachers, choir/drama directors, ballet masters, and principals when Baby Darling doesn't get the starter/A/star position. Sometimes, baby's gotta be a benchwarmer. A "C" student. In the chorus. How else is baby going to learn to be big?

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: ANTONIO BANDERAS



A couple of years ago, mimi and crew got to see Antonio Banderas in Nine on Broadway. Three hours' worth of singing, dancing, electric Antonio. Talk about charisma--we were in the balcony and wanted to rip his shirt off. Antonio Banderas has "it" in spades. The eyes? Check. The Latin soul (he's Spanish)? Check. The tongue-in-cheek sense of humor--Puss in Boots, anyone? Check. Swordsmanship? Check. And he looks hot in black leather and a mask. Antonio's welcome to mark me with a Z anytime--and anywhere--he wants.

DINNER LIST: HARVEY FIERSTEIN



No one on the planet can utter the words "Oh my Gaaaaaaawwwwwwwd!!" quite like Harvey Fierstein. That voice is classic. The eyeroll is classic. He's quite a performer. Who else could make you believe he's Edna Turnblad one week, Tevye the next? Plus, he's a better human being. He's done more to promote true acceptance for gays and lesbians that just about anyone who's out. Not a bad resume, professionally and personally. Dinner with Harvey Fierstein could get anyone all verklempt!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Little Monsters!

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I have to admit feeling vindicated when reading about Dan McCauley, the proprietor of the Chicago-area bakery/sandwich shop A Taste of Heaven. Irritated to the limit by screeching wild creatures disguised as children that regularly invaded his shop, he posted a sign on the door of his shop reading, "Children of all ages have to behave and use their inside voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven." (Read more here)

Amen, Brother Dan, Amen. This isn't, as some outraged parents in his neighborhood allege, a childless vs. children problem. This is, essentially, a lack of courtesy problem, and one that's gone too far for too long.

I have two children. They are no angels. They don't listen, they think burping and farting are funny, they say embarrassing things. We've shared plenty of family dinners where I have had to say, in a voice slightly less loud than a tornado evacuation siren, "This is not the Wilderness, and I am not Moses. Sit your BUTTS down and DON'T MOVE." And they sit. Their wandering is usually confined to our table ("But I want to hug Mama!" my daughter will say) and doesn't happen every time we eat out. Usually, they sit, pay attention, say please and thank you to the server, and eat what's put in front of them. Are they unusual? Apparently so, if you eat out often.

I loathe rude people. Rude, loud, look-at-me people who think the world should cater to their needs. What's worse is the rude people who spawn. They may be rude, but their kids are worse. These are the kids who run full-tilt into servers carrying trays, who scream and throw tantrums, who have no manners. Worse yet, their parents hold conversations with the adults at their table, completely ignoring the havoc their little monsters are wreaking all around them. Godzilla Jr. can be pulling a destroy-Tokyo maneuver on someone else's table, but Mommy can't be disturbed from her latte to do anything about it.

I'm totally on Dan McCauley's side. From what I understand, several of these Mommies (he called them
"former cheerleaders and beauty queens" who "have a very strong sense of entitlement," which isn't far from the truth) are OUTRAGED and boycotting his shop. Joke's on them. His business has tripled since news of the "behave/inside voices" sign hit the door. Good for him. If I lived in the Windy City, I'd become a regular customer.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: HEATH LEDGER



There's just something about Australian men, something very mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But they're friendly and approachable at the same time (a volatile mixture, to be sure). I don't know about you, but my inner teen fell in love with Heath Ledger in Ten Things I Hate About You. Conditions worsened with successive movies, but he won my grownup, English teacher heart in A Knight's Tale, of all things. The movie is so anti-Chaucer, it's marvelous. And Heath? Something about dressing like the Rolling Stones and dancing in a medieval banquet hall to Bowie's "Golden Years" lets you know that this is a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously, even if he is getting the crap jousted out of him.

DINNER LIST: TED KOPPEL



"The passing of an era" doesn't get much more profound than when you're talking about Koppel stepping away from the Nightline desk. Normally, I'm crashed by the time he comes on, but you have to respect someone who's done the job as long as he has. He's knocked heads with network folks (remember his plans to read the names of the soldiers killed during the Iraq War?) and maintained the respect of nearly everyone in broadcasting. That's some feat, considering that "news broadcasting" seems to be becoming more of the "how well can we get across the message we like better" every day. I think Ted and I would find enough to talk about to last us through dessert and even breakfast.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Feelin' Crappy

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I spent today out of the classroom at a department chairpersons workshop. These run the gamut from really useful to mind-numbing wastes of time. Today's leaned to the useful side of the continuum. Lots of good stuff about teaching writing, approaches to literature for students who aren't good readers, problem solving with other English teacher types.

It sucked.

Not the workshop part--that was good. The sucky part was the self-evaluation that inevitably comes after, the "You reek at this job" kind of obsessive thinking that can paralyze you despite all the cool "Ooo! I should try THIS!" ideas that also pop up during such a day. Unfortunately, my obsessive mind cranks up with the reasons I ought to just hang up the teaching thing right now: You should be doing SO much more. You can't keep up with your grades. Your lesson plans are stagnant (unwritten, actually--yet another sin). How come you haven't built a Webquest? How come you don't worship at the altar of Shakespeare? How can you call yourself a LEADER when you can't even keep YOUR teaching engine running right??

Teachers are already cursed with an overdeveloped sense of obligation. That's what makes us take home piles of work, buy hundreds of dollars of supplies out of pocket, pay for lunches for hungry kids who aren't our personal offspring, and devote hours out of the classroom to coaching, sponsoring, field trips, etc. What's worse is when we start thinking "I should do MORE." Hell, to do this job right, you'd have to spend the rest of your waking hours planning, researching, and designing lessons and seamless, meaningful curricula. This would be on top of the test prep, box checking, paperwork, forms, memos, reminders, assessments, more test prep, counseling, and myriad other tasks tossed in the job description, the tasks squeezing more and more time out of the teaching day and forcing us to do the preparation and research and paper grading at home, when we should be playing with our kids, making love to our spouses, or pursuing other interests, like the church choir or gardening or, God forbid, novel writing (does it help to know that my current project is stuck in the doldrums right now?). One teacher today chirped that she and 21 of her kids tackled NaNoWriMo last month, and she and six of her kids made it. I just about tossed in the proverbial towel when I heard that. I can't keep up with my laundry, and she wrote a novel even though she grades papers for 2 hours a night. Urk.

I can see why people turn to alcohol. Too bad my drug of choice is pasta. I'll be able to rent out my butt for advertising pretty soon if I don't get it together.

Okay. Enough whining. Must do something productive. Laundry would help. Advertising butt needs clean khakis for tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Rejection

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Got the first rejection email on Crash Test today. This is one of those events you expect to have happen but don't really believe once it does. Realistically, it's going to get rejected despite having a fabulous premise (of course I think so, but so do some other folks I trust who aren't my mom or my sister) and a fabulous agent. In the Total Fantasy realm, I'm signing a huge contract and shopping for Christmas in the Neiman Marcus specialty catalog. Not happening. Instead, I've got the no-date-for-the-prom feeling, but in this case, I've already blown the cash for the dress and hairdo. Twice (the full of Crash Test has been revised to agent specs already).

Here's how the editor kiss of death sounds: "I love the concept here, which is very original and exciting. Unfortunately, I just didn't love the execution or connect with the humor in a way that would make me its editorial champion." Okay, I'm liking the "original and exciting" bit very much. Not too crazy about the "didn't love the execution" (it's brilliant, of course!) "or connect with the humor" (argh!!) bits.

Putting on my Pollyanna hat, I have to be glad that this editor didn't say okay. If you can't be my editorial champion, then I'm better off somewhere else. Where else is the key. When else would be even more key. Soon would be good.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Seattle Weather

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I don't care how cool/trendy/earthy the Pacific Northwest is, I could never live in Seattle. We've had two days of gray, drizzly Seattle weather here in usually sunny Central Florida, and I am ready to hurt someone. I'd definitely need meds for Seasonal Affectiveness Disorder if something uprooted Chez mimi to the other end of the country. Plus, I don't do Starbucks. Hate coffee. Hate it. Love the smell, hate the taste. I'd last about 24 hours in the land of constant drizzle and cold. Plus, how often could you drive to and from work with the top down?

Seattle has, I have to admit, one of the coolest open-air markets ever (Pike Place--love the fresh flowers!!), but it's not enough to wrench me out of Florida. Plus, you can't swim or surf at the beach there, especially not in December. Take that!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nick and Jessica: Like We're Surprised

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DISCLAIMER: I have never seen a single episode of Newlyweds, nor do I own a single CD from either Nick or Jessica. I also know the difference between chicken and tuna.

The official word is that Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson are officially separating, "respect our privacy at this difficult time," blah blah blah. Like everyone who scans tabloid headlines in the grocery aisle didn't see that coming. Agent K from Men in Black wasn't far off the mark when he said the tabloids published the best investigative journalism on the planet. Hell, they go through garbage to get the garbage.

Still, anyone with a brain could have known this would happen from the "I do," save-ourselves-until-the-wedding-night notwithstanding. Some clues:

The bondage princess look. For a minister's daughter, Miss Thing can put on the demon torturer look like nobody's business. I searched the Net in vain for my favorite scary Simpson photo, the one where she and her famous bustline are trussed up in black pleather like a Thanksgiving turkey, but had to settle for this one:


Black isn't good with all that blonde (or that spray-on tan), nor does raking her hair back from her forehead do anything to minimize the mouth-like-a-Muppet's thing she has going on. The Alice Cooper eyeliner doesn't help, either.

Accentuating the obvious: She's got a rack. We know. Her dad rhapsodizes over it (which is creepy enough in itself). But do you have to display it in such badly-fitting clothing? (Yes, the one on the right played peek-a-boo in a subsequent shot) There are some things a spaghetti strap should not be asked to do.



Her dad: I love my dad, too, but you don't hear him talking about my boobs on national television. Kinda scary that he is ordained, if you ask me.

Dessert Beauty: I want to eat my chocolate cupcake, not smell like it. Eeeew.

That car washing video: When you can make Paris Hilton's commercial for a cheeseburger look classy, you have a problem.

Diva, thy name is...: Let's be fair and toss both Nick and Jessica in on this one. Musicians by nature are egomaniacal divas. They like things their way. They throw temper tantrums. They don't do well when not being fawned over. When the balance of power (or attention) shifts, implosion is imminent. Nick seems like an okay guy--perhaps the ESPN gig will do him some good. The train's already wrecked for the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Lachey. Dukes of Hazzard, anyone?

Romeo and Juliet: Jessica Simpson famously remarked on her wedding day that her love story with Nick was "like Romeo and Juliet." That should have been the giveaway right there. If your love story is like Romeo and Juliet's, you will end up with the following:
  • Feuding families
  • Dead best friend (Mercutio)
  • Dead favorite cousin (Tybalt)
  • Banishment (Romeo)
  • Dead almost-fiancé (Paris)
  • Dead lover #1 (Romeo, by poison)
  • Dead lover #2 (Juliet, by stabbing)
  • Dead mom (Lady Montague)
I don't know about you, but my love story doesn't involve a BODY COUNT!! (It is, after all, the TRAGEDY of Romeo and Juliet). Were these people paying attention in ninth grade English class, or were they just enraptured by the nice costumes and either a) cute Leonard Whiting and busty Olivia Hussey in the Zeffirelli version or b) cute Leonardo DiCaprio and lovely Claire Danes in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo+Juliet? Either way, they both end up dead. Not what I'd call a happy ending.

Kind of like Nick and Jessica.

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: JOAQUIN PHOENIX



DH and I cannot wait to see Walk the Line. Aside from the fact that Johnny Cash is relentlessly cool, Walk the Line is getting raves for its performances. No surprise there--Reese Witherspoon is so Type A she does everything well, and you have Joaquin Phoenix. That's practically all you need. He's memorable in everything he does, and not just because of that insanely beautiful light eyes-dark hair-brooding thing he has going on. I've been following this guy since he was still going by "Leaf" (remember SpaceCamp?). Parenthood--odd teenager with the paper bag. To Die For--creepy teenager with a Suzanne Stone obsession. Gladiator--not many people can hold their own onscreen with Russell Crowe, but he does it in Oscar-nominated style as the slimy emporer Commodus. Signs--"Swing away, Merrill" and that aluminum foil hat! The Village--just try not to melt when he finally breaks down and tells Ivy he loves her. And now, the Man in Black himself. Quite a body of work. Quite a body, actually. Yum.

DINNER LIST: WAYNE BRADY



Although Wayne Brady is incredibly talented and cute, there's no way I could put him on the dinner list. WAY too close to cradle-robbing. I became acquainted with Wayne when he was still in high school, so there's no way I could go the "Don't Stand So Close to Me" route with him, even if he is a grown man with kids now. Just too Mary Kay LeTorneau, thankyouverymuch. On the other hand, I'd be happy to cook him dinner, laugh my head off as he does impressions, and do some improv.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thankfulness

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There are so many things to be thankful for on this day, but here are some of mine.
  • my husband and kids
  • family
  • phone calls from my brother in Iraq, especially phone calls on Thanksgiving Day with a possible end date for this tour of duty (yay!)
  • turkey dinners
  • pecan pie
  • hell, just about any kind of pie
  • naps (like you would expect anything else on Thanksgiving?)
  • football (except that)
  • top-down weather
  • laughter
  • great books
  • better friends
  • the Internet!
  • pajamas
  • Monty Python
  • dogs who love to fetch
  • ignoring the pressure to go shopping on Black Friday
There are tons more, but you get the picture. Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Jay 'n Dave

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In the battle of late night hosts, I'm a Leno. I've tried Letterman, both the NBC and CBS versions of Late Night and even his short-lived morning show--remember it?--and he doesn't do a thing for me. The Top Ten lists are fun. So is his mom. But Paul Shaffer is, without a doubt, one of the more annoying people on the planet.

Jay, on the other hand, is funnier. Has funnier bits (love the headlines). Has a much better bandleader. He seems like someone you could hang out with on Saturdays, probably in his garage (he owns like a jillion cars and motorcycles). Dave doesn't strike me as a hang out kind of guy unless you're obsessed with basketball. He is from Indiana, after all.

Overall, Jay's the guy. After 11:30, that is. Jon Stewart's my man at 11.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pride & Prejudice

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In a completely girly move, three friends and I went to see Pride and Prejudice this afternoon. My good friend Kelly and I have been addicted to the BBC Pride and Prejudice for years (who wouldn't love the Darcy-rises-from-the-bath scene, I ask you?), so we wondered if the new movie would hold up well against it.

Short version: Yes! And no.

Yes to brilliant casting--all of the Bennets are perfect. Jane is lovely, Brenda Blethyn makes a marvelously flitty Mrs. Bennet, the younger girls are the early Regency version of swoony Tiger Beat addicts (except for Mary, who's prim), and Donald Sutherland steals scenes as the droll Mr. Bennet, who's clearly put upon by all the women in his household and yet mad for all of them. Keira Knightley acquits herself beautifully as Elizabeth. She's brilliant with the starchy kiss-off line, her reaction once she sees Pemberley and realizes all she threw away is a classic. Plus, I love that she is so unashamedly flat-chested!

The men, not so good, but still way better than most big-budget remakes. We all wanted to know what was with Bingley's over-moussed hair. Mr. Collins is the pill we're all so happy Elizabeth escapes (the "please don't leave me alone with him" antics before Mr. Collins's proposal are priceless). Darcy--well, he's in a special class. I enjoyed Matthew MacFadyen's close-to-the-vest portrayal. He has a way with the very tiny gesture (a look, a hand gesture, his adorable nervousness when Elizabeth comes in the room) that made him work for me. Half of our viewing party disagreed. Didn't like him a bit. Then again, Colin Firth left huge shoes to fill.

The whole thing is busy, bright, and not stiff in the least, which is great. It's rumored that Emma Thompson did an uncredited rewrite on the screenplay, and that may show in the flashes of humor. The camera work is divine (must save money for tickets to England NOW). All in all, very satisfying.

And if the last scene with Elizabeth and her father doesn't make you tear up, you need to go to work on your hard heart. This daddy's girl loved it.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: CAMPBELL SCOTT



Campbell Scott is the one man who can truly claim he's "American Theater Royalty"--he's the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst. Big Night, the movie he co-directed with his close friend Stanley Tucci, is a favorite at Chez mimi. Great character acting, terrific casting (Campbell is a Cadillac salesman in a fun minor role), wonderful story--plus Tony Shalhoub (see below) as a temperamental Italian chef. He chooses interesting roles, which makes me think he'd be just as interesting in the bedroom. A thinking woman's hottie, that's for sure. Yum.

DINNER LIST: TONY SHALHOUB



I've yet to meet someone who doesn't love Monk, USA's series about an obsessive-compulsive ex-detective. Tony Shalhoub makes a character who'd annoy the pants off the rest of us interesting, even lovable. That's not easy to do. He's a chameleon who can play everything from the aforementioned temperamental Italian chef to a spaceship engineer (Galaxy Quest--check out his love scene with the chick with tentacles) to an alien arms dealer (Men in Black) and make them believable. He's witty, smart, and not the least bit obsessive. I think.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Beetlemania

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Meet Inga, my new car!



(This isn't actually Inga, but close. Someone borrowed our digital camera, so I'm substituting an Internet pic for the time being.)

After eight years of hard roof, I've finally reached the point where my kids are big enough to be hauled around without car seats. Woo hoo! And since DH's car was nice enough to implode--to the tune of $1600 worth of work we didn't want to pay for--we had to go car shopping. I shop. I shop some more. The Internet becomes my best friend. I finally find what I'm looking for in Tampa. Down the road I go. I fall in lurve.

So, DH gets the Passat, and I now have Inga, my 2003 New Beetle turbo convertible. It's a five-speed. It has black leather interior. It gets up and leaves on the highway.

Why Inga? One of my favorite German gals is Teri Garr's character in Young Frankenstein. Hey, if my new friend Mary can name her Mini "Stella" (which begs the question whether she stops dead in crowded parking lots and bellows for her car like Stanley Kowalski), I can have an Inga in my driveway.

I'm in lurve.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

I Told You So!!

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People just named Matthew McConaughey the "Sexiest Man Alive." Since Mr. Naked Bongos was one of my first Bed List picks, I get to ask, "What took y'all so long?"



Yep, still Biscuit-worthy. As a side note, five of People's top 15 have also been on the Bed List: Matthew Mc, Patrick Dempsey, Viggo Mortensen, Keith Urban, and Clive Owen. The gal knows how to pick 'em.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brittany Lessons

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Chez mimi has two dogs, an ancient cocker spaniel and a Brittany. Brittanys are a new breed for me. I've had cockers all my life. The kids asked for a bigger dog, and since I didn't want to go the Lab/Golden route, we hunted elsewhere. We thought about a Weimaraner, even picked out a name (Wegman), but were dissuaded by its very high activity level. So we end up with a Brittany, the smallest member of the sporting setters, etc. etc. I blissfully ignored the "counter surfing" remarks I saw posted here and there. What do I know about counter surfing? I've owned cocker spaniels. They're lucky to get nose level with a dining room table.

Our Brittany, however, is something else entirely. As in, he just snatched the kielbasa we were going to grill to go with our black beans and rice right off the stove. That'll teach DH to leave things and walk away. Can you say, "obedience class"?

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: BENJAMIN BRATT



Want to know why Julia Roberts is, unequivocally, a crazy woman? She dumped Benjamin Bratt. This man is one prime example of masculinity. He's gorgeous. He's talented. His grin could melt chocolate at a hundred yards. Hell, his eyes are melted chocolate. He's, well, meltable--at least, I know I would be.

DINNER LIST: CHRIS ROCK



Chris Rock's best-known comedy special is entitled Bring the Pain. It's hysterical. Better yet, it's incisive and intelligent. The best comedy usually is. Chris Rock can cut to the ridiculous heart of just about anything with a few well-chosen words (remember the Million Dollar Baby vs. White Chicks bit at the Academy Awards?). He's sharp. He's funny. He'd be a great guy to take to dinner, especially somewhere he'd make the maître d' nervous.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Crossing Over to the Dark (Pink) Side

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It's been a long time since I've done this, but I broke down and did it.

I bought Mary Kay.

I have to say that I wasn't intending to do anything of the sort. RWA shared its conference space in Dallas two years ago with the annual Mary Kay gathering, and it was a mite scary for those of us who don't get the whole multi-level marketing thing. It was even scarier to get trapped in elevators with bunches of them, all dressed in their red or blue blazers and sporting more ribbons than champion Olympic equestrians. Creepy. However, a friend of mine from church is a consultant and is the nicest, lowest-pressure person I know. Since part of my annual birthday present to myself is new makeup, I invited her over to do the makeover thing. Jury's still out on the makeup, but the skin care...wow. I'd forgotten how smooth and nice Mary Kay makes it, even if it is ridiculously expensive. No more expensive than hitting the Clinique counter, though (I tell myself). So, pink it is. For the face. No way I'm getting sucked into the ribbon clique.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: JAKE GYLLENHAAL



It's practically cradle robbing to lust after Jake Gyllenhaal, but I don't care. Woof. Love the eyes, love the bod. Love the energy. Woof.

DINNER LIST: GARY SINISE



My CSI obsession continues intact--here I go picking another crime scene investigator. This time, Steppenwolf Theater Company alum Gary Sinise. I fell in love with his work a long time ago, when he played George to John Malkovich's Lennie in Of Mice and Men (English major, remember? I'm a sucker.) He acts and directs. Plus, who else could hold his own with Tom Hanks the way he did as Lieutenant Dan? Or play an iconic character like Stu Redman from Stephen King's The Stand (my favorite S.K. title)? He's not the most handsome or famous, but he's got it.

Night Owl

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I should be in bed right now. I have to be at school at an ungodly early hour of the morning, and it's nearly one a.m. No sleep in sight for me.

I just finished reading Empire Falls by Richard Russo, the latest choice of the book club I belong to. Good read overall, but the eternal Pollyanna in me has to wonder why modern fiction seems to require a traumatic/depressing ending, especially if it is to win a prize? (Empire Falls won the Pulitzer in 2002.) Are happy endings that reviled in literary circles? Are we not to be happy, but only satisfied or aware of our shortcomings?

I have enough to deal with in my life right now, what with my stressful job, lack of creativity at the moment, money troubles (DH's car needs fixing to the tune of $1,600, three-quarters of what it's worth), kids who need dental work I also can't pay for easily, church drama, and my house's perpetual state of disarray. At times like these, I say "Bring on the romance novels! Pitch me some chick lit!" Hell, bring on any novel in which people manage to bump through life without having to scale the emotional heights of abuse, betrayal, or violence. Is that so wrong? Does that make me an intellectual lightweight even though I love to read Austen and Faulkner?

These are the kinds of things that keep the squirrels on the wheel and me out of bed. I don't like them much, but there they are. At least I had a good idea for a book while taking my shower this morning, but right on the heels of that developing idea was the crushing thought of, "So what happens to the book you've already got planned? Never going to get it done? Let it twist in the wind, unfinished, like so much else in your immediate circle of concern?"

Gah!

Yep, enough to drive you a little crazy, those damned squirrels. Too bad they're not the kind you can silence by leaping out of bed and scrawling a reminder note for yourself on the bathroom counter. What I wouldn't give for a week's vacation and a mildly successful Fantasy Five ticket right now. Guess I'll have to settle with my mom's five-step plan. According to mom (and keep in mind this was a four-step plan until I turned 21), there is nothing in the world that cannot be fixed or improved by means of:

  1. A hot meal
  2. A hot bath
  3. A good night's sleep
  4. Brushing your teeth
  5. A good screw
I'll tackle the Crest first, then hit the sack. Who knows? I might be able to swing step five before breakfast, if I don't whack the snooze alarm too many times. Five am's going to come awfully soon...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Birthday to K

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Today is my oldest friend's birthday. Not oldest as in age, oldest as in most experienced. We met on a frigid Saturday morning, the very first ever Orlando Scottish Highland Games. She was dancing, my mom had conned me into running scores from the judges to the scorers. Our moms hooked up. I got hooked on dancing. I met Kathryn, and the rest is history.

In the (good Lord, has it been that long?) THIRTY YEARS since I've known her, we have gone through a hell of a lot. Scottish dancing--that's enough in itself, given that it involves kilts, costumes, special shoes, shin splints, and bagpipe music. Trauma. Broken bones. Scoliosis. Hawaii. Moves. Career changes. Husbands (plural). Children (also plural). Dogs. Kittens (Kathryn's the only woman alive who could convince me to take home A cat, let alone two--which she did). Home sales. Home building (she's the crazy one, I'll have you know). Turning forty.

She never lets me forget I'm older--twenty-four whole days. She does fun things like plant a flock of pink plastic flamingos all over my suburban lawn to celebrate a milestone birthday. I do fun things back, like leave a totem on her front door, topped with yellow yarn hair, to remind her that she's the primary victim of The Blonde Witch Project. Then we go and get spooky and have baby boys within sixteen days of each other. We always did want our kids to grow up together.

Today's her birthday. Twenty-nine. Again. (Kathryn does anniversaries, not birthdays). Know what my present is? Her.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Full House!

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Wish I were talking about poker, but I'm not. I have six kids running amok (is there any other way to run, when you're talking about kids?) through my house. Four girls, two boys. Believe it or not, it's the girls performing the shock and awe acts of destruction. The boys are playing video games and building stuff with K'Nex. I'll have millions of tiny pieces all over creation, but at least the millions of pieces are all from the same kind of thing.

The girls, however, have embarked on a full wardrobe consultation, both for themselves and for Barbie and all of her evil little friends. It's a clothing explosion back there. I'm afraid to mine for what's underneath. I suspect petrifying snacks, or something equally icky.

Curtains today for the living room, plus resetting of tchotchkes and books, and my living room is finished. Ta da! On to more floors. Two rooms to go, and we can stop construction. For now. Is home improvement ever complete?

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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A couple of off-the-beaten-path choices for you women with brains:

BED LIST: HUGH LAURIE



I'm so predictable. Coming in second to Southern gentlemen for overall deliciousness are gentlemen from the British Isles. Find me a Brit (Scot, Irishman, Welshman) with a brain and a killer sense of humor, and you'll usually find me willing to hop into bed. Case in point, Hugh Laurie, or as most Americans are finally discovering him, "Dr. House." This character is mostly despicable, with a horrible attitude and even worse bedside manner, and yet most women I know (including the Dr.'s lost love, played by the luminous Sela Ward) want to jump him. Or reform him. Or try to do both. Hell, anyone who can pull off both Sense and Sensibility (as the wonderfully droll Mr. Palmer) and Blackadder is worth a spin--he'll probably make you laugh, and even if you don't, you'll be swooning over that accent anyway.

DINNER LIST: VING RHAMES



Ving Rhames is the master at implausible one-liners that make me howl. Some examples: "George Bush." (Striptease) "The stupidhead." (Lilo and Stitch) "I'm gonna miss being disreputable." (Mission: Impossible) "Sweaters make my neck look too thick." (Dave) He has an incredible range--everything from Disney to Pulp Fiction--and a great laugh. Yep, I'd have dinner with him. Hell, I'd cook for him. Anything he wants.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Brain Dead

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I think I've just about decided I hate accountants.

Not accountants, actually. I know some accountants who are lovely people. I think what I hate, though, is the box-checking mentality that accountants have. You know, the one that's much more interested in checking off the boxes (and creating new boxes to check) than in anything else.

Case in point--I get taken to task by a couple of guys at church who can't open my files. I'm saving files in two formats on my Mac and forwarding the ones they need to them. I made a mistake and sent the wrong file format of one last night after 11 pm (this is after a day of looking after half the kids in the neighborhood, mind you). So does my box-checker friend email to ask for the correct format? Nope. He waits until the meeting tonight and ambushes me about it. I'm ready to throw something.

Of course, that's coming after the fact that I've managed to leave an envelope of material somewhere in the church and saved last month's minutes on top of this month's. I'd quit, but I don't think I can do that right now. I just know I'm sick and tired of being box-checked to death.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

HGTV and Me

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I love HGTV, I really do, but I realized something tonight while watching Design Remix. Nearly every show they do features modern design, unless you're talking This Old House. Now I love the clean, modern look as much as the next person (basically because it represents everything that isn't in my own house), but what I want to know is where are all the cool shows telling you how to decorate your traditional interior without spending huge dollars?

Here's what I mean. I inherited some very nice furniture from both sets of grandparents (may they rest in peace). Very nice traditional furniture. As in mahogany dining room, carved Victorian walnut writing desk traditional furniture. These pieces do not blend well with Marimekko color schemes and Michael Graves teakettles. They want Williamsburg brass chandeliers and Karastan rugs. I managed the chandelier thanks to my eagle-eyed mom in an antiques warehouse, but let's face it--on two teacher salaries, I'll have to hit the lottery or inherit something to nab a Karastan. Two Karastans, actually, since both my living and dining rooms will need one once we finish installing the parquet.

Parquet floors--that's another thing that doesn't fly well in laminate-obsessed HGTV-land, but they're perfect for my camelback sofa and wing chairs. See what I mean? Where's the Design Remix for my house?

Friday, October 21, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Work is progressing sloooowly on the new book, but these two guys might provide some inspiration:

BED LIST: LUKE WILSON



I'm solidly in the tall, dark, and handsome camp. If they're tall, dark, handsome, and have great smiles and brains, I'm a goner. Luke Wilson hits the mark on all counts. Athletic? Check (track and football). Tall? Check. Dark and handsome? See above. Quirky smile, interesting taste (what other actor do you know, besides brother Owen, the "Butterscotch Stallion," who can go from The Royal Tenenbaums to Old School and be believable in both?). As a bonus, he's a Southern boy--Texas born and bred. Yep, I'm a goner.

DINNER LIST: SPARKY ANDERSON



Forgive the ancient photo, but this is how I picture Sparky Anderson: in a Reds uniform. The skipper who guided my beloved Reds to back-to-back series wins is one of the best in baseball ever. My latest book has a baseball theme, so remembering the Reds' glory days (the Series in '90 was sweet--er--a sweep) is easy to do. If I got lucky enough to choose a Hall of Famer as a dinner guest, I'd have to go with Sparky. Wonder if it's just coincidence that I use that nickname for DH?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Out the Door--Soonish

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Dream Agent's off to the Florida Writers Conference in Tampa this weekend. We Sunshine State denizens are topping off gas tanks, shopping for non-perishable food, and logging onto NOAA four times a day to check the progress of Hurricane Wilma. She shouldn't get this far north, but we're going to be wet for the next several days.

In the meantime, DA has been waiting for a couple of submissions to clear selected editors' desks, then Crash Test is hitting the courier. I think as long as we were waiting in the pipeline, I was fine. Now that I know it's actually going out, I'm getting nervous. Kind of like waiting for the phone to ring a couple of weeks before prom. Will it ring? Will the right voice be on the other end? And what the hell am I going to wear?

I don't wait well. Guess it's back to working on the website.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Authorial Envy

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Today my RWA chapter, Central Florida Romance Writers, held a big booksigning. Very cool stuff--authors I know and love--but I'm still on the wrong side of the table. I'm on the signee side, not the signer side. Don't get me wrong; I love my author friends, and I'm always happy when one of them does something cool, like sign a great contract, get fabulous sales numbers, or lands a terrific agent or editor, but I want cool stuff for me, too.

I am aware that I sound whiny. I am whiny. I'm whiny and petulant and have a lower lip stuck out so far I could surf to the Outer Banks on it. Thankfully, these whiny moments don't last too long. I hope.

Okay, pity party over. Back to the salt mines. I have a website to design and a book to write, not necessarily in that order. My good friend Nancy says I need to enter the Golden Heart again. Hmm. Not sure about that one, but...

Must call Dream Agent and see how things are going on the submission front.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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I am so lame. I have finally dragged my happy butt to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Loved it, of course. Loved these two, too:

BED LIST: JOHNNY DEPP



They should just hand this man Oscars and get it over with. He's amazing. Love the riff on Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean. Love the oddballs he plays--Edward, with his scissor hands; Willy Wonka, with all his twisted-candy brillance; Benny, who imitates Buster Keaton's dinner-roll dance and makes a disabled girl fall in love. Love most the soulful wanderer falling for Juliette Binoche and her Chocolat, the playwright finding magic in Neverland. Clap if you believe in fairies!

DINNER LIST: TIM BURTON



Genius comes in all styles, and when you look at Tim Burton, you know that's the truth. Who else can combine whimsy and the downright bizarre and somehow deliver the poignant ending the way Tim Burton can? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ends with a dusting of confectioner's sugar snow the same way Edward Scissorhands ends with a dusting of cut paper snow, both courtesy of Johnny Depp. Big Fish had me bawling and believing in magic. He's an odd one, that Tim Burton, but any man who makes magic gets a Golden Ticket to dinner.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Download Queen

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I am having so much fun with my new iPod. When DH got one for his birthday, I thought, "That's cute. I don't think I need one of those."

Oh, so wrong. Once I realized that he would stock his iPod with all that weird atonal music he loves, like the Lounge Lizards, Nick Cave, and Bruce Cockburn, I also realized that I'd have to get my own. Now I have become the Queen of Downloads.

Oh, the joy to have a playlist full of nothing but Jimmy Buffett. Or stuff to play in the car that's loud. Foo Fighters loud. U2 loud. Lenny Kravitz and Garbage and Liz Phair loud. And india.arie when I'm in one of those "I'm every woman" moods, and Jamie Cullum and Michael Bublé for jazz from cute young guys. I'm going to run out of room if I'm not careful...

Saturday, October 08, 2005

My Phair Lady

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DH kept the big birthday surprise a secret. Last night, the kids spent the night at Gran's, and we headed down to the House of Blues to see Liz Phair in concert.



Liz rocks! My birthday copies of the Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street and Liz's answer, Exile in Guyville, were two of the first downloaded into my new iPod. Off to play with my new toys!

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: TYSON BECKFORD



Sometimes, words just aren't adequate.

DINNER LIST: CARL HIAASEN



Any author who'll take on tourists (Tourist Season), developers (Hoot, for younger readers), sugar growers (Strip Tease), pro bass fishermen (Double Whammy), weathercasters (Stormy Weather), Mickey Mouse (Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World), and the Florida Lottery (Lucky You) is aces in my book. When the author does it with the same humor and complete lack of respect for the "establishment" that Carol Hiaasen does, well, that's someone I'd be more than happy to blow cash on for dinner.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

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Today will be a very good day. I woke to about seven birthday messages from dear friends on email (some serious cards, some snarky comments, pretty much par for my group) and a DVD copy of Raising Arizona from DH. This man totally understands me.

I find, from IMDb, that I share a birthday with Elisabeth Shue, Jeremy Sisto, and that yummy Welshman I've already drooled over, Ioan Gruffud. Other October 6 babies are George Westinghouse (yeah, that Westinghouse), le Corbusier the architect (kinda cool, since I once thought I wanted to be an architect), Thor Heyerdahl (Mr. Kon Tiki himself), and the incomparable Carole Lombard.

Should be a good day--let's hope my new iPod arrives!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Worn Out

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I'm whipped.

Part of it has to do with school--I feel like a hamster on a wheel lately, working and working and working and not seeming to get much of anywhere. My writing life is resting quietly by the wall, slowly being overtaken by mental kudzu. There's a novel in there, but if I don't get out the machete soon, it'll get eaten alive. On top of that, crazy people are calling my house late at night (long story involving someone I love dearly and someone she divorced, who's nuts and a drunk), so no sleep for me. No good sleep, anyway.

Two killer headaches in a row, last night and this morning, and a stack of crap to grade I don't feel like looking at, and a living room that's still full of useless toys from my son's room and no molding, and I'm done. Toast. Over. Ready for a vacation. Or a massage. Or something.

On the plus side, I bought myself an iPod off eBay last night--early birthday present for me! It's Blossom-the-Powerpuff-Girl pink. Girly, I know. Don't care. Besides, I'm in such a foul mood right now, I'd probably go Powerpuff Girl on someone's ass for saying something snippy about it.

Comfort food. Now. Must. East. Pasta.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Today Would Have Been...

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...my grandfather's 97th birthday. He was a small town doctor in South Carolina, the kind of man you could call on the phone for a diagnosis. One time he told me he hoped I would write a great story. He said, "like Gone With the Wind, something people would enjoy."

This is for sure: she won't be in hoop skirts and it won't be set in the Civil War and Lord knows it won't be hearkening back to the dear old, misguided "Southland," but maybe it'll be a good story anyway.

I'm working on it, Granddaddy. I'm working on it.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Why I Love Birthday Week

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It won't be my birthday until Thursday, but I'm within striking distance, so I figure the celebrations can begin early. Last night, DH and I kick off the fun with a couple of good friends at the best Italian restaurant in Central Florida, Enzo's on the Lake. Steve, the Italian, had never been there. I think he's a convert. I had the Bucatini alla Enzo while the rest of the table dined on rack of lamb, spicy risotto with scallops, and a faboo mixed grill on lemon risotto. Then we had dessert, an orgasmic experience that totally lived up to the yelp of pleasure I uttered (and Melanie teased me about) over her chocolate soufflé. Creme brulée for me. Love love love the satisfying crack of caramelized sugar. Whoof.

Today, I bought my new face. I usually spring for new makeup for my birthday, and usually I buy everything from the same line. This time, I spread the wealth. Foundation and concealer from one line, mascara and lipstick from another, blush from a third, shadow from another. Hey, sometimes you gotta break out of the matching-packaging straitjacket, right? We'll see how I turn out tomorrow.

My birthday's on a school day, which is always fun for a round of "Guess how old I am" with my students. They still guess young, which is a good thing. Amazing how seniors can turn your hair grey and keep you young at the same time. Between now and Thursday I can count on cards, calls, emails, and surprises from my kids and DH. Birthdays are a kick. Wonder why so many women my age freak out about them?

Friday, September 30, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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BED LIST: STUART TOWNSEND



Stuart Townsend doesn't get nearly the press he should. Yum. I think I fell for him as Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which, by the way, is underrated fun as long as you're willing not only to suspend disbelief, but slip it a mickey and let it crash on your couch for about two hours), but I'm excited I'll have more opportunities to drool over him on Night Stalker. That Charlize Theron is one lucky gal.

DINNER LIST: SEAN CONNERY



Sean Connery is the original extraordinary gentleman himself. You could close your eyes and listen to him for hours. Love the Scottish accent, love the growly voice. Of course, he's extremely easy to look at, even if he is a decade older than my dad. Had I a way-back machine, I'd zip back to the early sixties and the best James Bond. Then he'd go on the bed list. Hmm. Threesome with Stuart and Sean...007, circa 1962? I'd be shaken and stirred!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Croup Dogg

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Baby girl wakes up calling for the seals. Bark. Bark. Bark. She appears to have croup. Time to call in for a sub and play Florence Nightgown, as my mom used to say. DS is happy since he gets to wake up later and go to school at a normal time, rather than the crack of dawn like usual, and DD is loving the whole stay-on-the-sofa-and-watch-DVDs vibe du jour.

Of course, in less than an hour she proclaims she's bored and wants to go to the mall, but what did you expect? Calling in to stay home with your kid who may or may not be this generation's Typhoid Mary is like taking the umbrella when it looks like rain--pretty much guarantees that the microbes will slink back under their rock and release your kid from their evil grasp.

Oh, well. No school for me today. Instead, I get to finish moving the toys back into my son's room so we can finish off the living room. That, and grade papers. Joy. At least I'll feel more caught up, for once.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

School Pix

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I sent the kidlets off to school in their best, as it is picture day today. DS is stylin' in his Hawaiian shirt (and rooster tail in the back of his head, I'm sure, despite the gel), while DD is twelve kinds of cute in a green--excuse me, "Frog"--sleeveless scoopneck (and bangs in her face, I'm sure, despite the gel). They'll both photograph beautifully because they always do.

I get to school and the nice kid from yearbook drops off my free picture package. I look. I cringe. I think three words: "Manatee in lipstick."

Seriously.

Note to self: Check lighting level before allowing them to click the shutter on retake day. Straight-on lighting will result in yet another bullfrog-in-a-wig-style photo. Better lighting reveals that I actually have both a chin and a neck. Insist on it.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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By special request (waving to Bubbles!!), I proudly present...

BED LIST: JON BON JOVI



My friend Melissa is one die-hard Jersey girl. She's die-hard in love/lust with Jon Bon Jovi, too. Now I have to admit that normally, the Northeast doesn't do much for me, being a Southern gal and all, but I have to give her Jon Bon Jovi. He's hot. He's talented. He can rock you out with the full band and get you to take your clothes off in those more intimate acoustic moments. Plus, he's witty and generous (did you hear about his huge donation to Katrina victims when he was on Oprah?). Yep, total package. I'd give him plenty of reasons to give love a bad name!

DINNER LIST: MICK JAGGER



In past years, Mick might have been the hot rock guy I'd like to get out of his clothes, but considering that he's just slightly younger than my dad (and happens to share Daddy's birthday, which is bizarre if you've ever met my dad), I'll steer clear of the bedroom, thanks. Maybe gourmet food and something awesome in chocolate, with plenty of after-dinner talk about rock 'n roll and--what else?--how to get some, er, satisfaction.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mahna Mahna (do doo be-do-do)

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I'm watching a commercial for Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper when my childhood comes rushing back!! In it, a blonde is on a date. She takes a sip of DCVDP, and suddenly every droning word out of her date's mouth becomes "Mahna mahna," and everyone in the restaurant choruses, "Do doo be-do-do." The Muppets live! I sang along! I felt about twelve years old--which is, of course, how old I was when this song made its debut on The Muppet Show, but I digress!!

Anyone else feel uncontrollable, giddy laughter when they saw this one? Did you sing along? If you can't remember how the song goes, read the lyrics
and download an audio clip here. Trust me. It'll come back to you.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Awesome, yet so underappreciated...

BED LIST: SEAN BEAN



I don't know about you, but I was seriously put out when Boromir bit it in The Fellowship of the Ring. I love staring at Sean Bean. I love listening to Sean Bean. I find it difficult to do anything but drool over Sean Bean, even when he's playing a major bad guy, like he does in Goldeneye and Patriot Games. He's so much more wonderful as a hero! Check out DVDs of the Sharpe series (Sharpe's Rifles, etc.) and Black Beauty to see what I mean. Come on over, Sean. I can show you a real ring of power...

DINNER LIST: JOHN C. REILLY



John C. Reilly's big number in Chicago, "Mr. Cellophane," laments "you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I'm there." Too bad that's too often the case with John C. Reilly. He turns in terrific performances every time he's onscreen, and the usual reaction is, "That was him?" I'll notice, John. Come on over Tuesday.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Amazing Disappearing Wife

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Today I had the privilege of hauling self out of bed to go back to school for an inservice training. Sometimes inservice is like volunteering to tour the eighth circle of hell, but this morning's was pretty good. Stuff I can use, even.

Since DH and DS were out doing boy things when I called to say I was finished, I hied myself to the mall. Walked. Matched paint samples for my lovely neighbor. Then decided to get a makeover.

I must confess here that I have never been a girly girl. I do okay with hair and makeup, but I am definitely a low-maintenance female when it comes to cosmetics and "product." Less is more. But once you cross the "new thirty" barrier, you wonder if your look is calcified into 1992, so off to Prescriptives you go. In my case, that is. The gal in the black T-shirt looked more approachable than the lab coat at Clinique or the terribly fashionable pair at Shiseido.

We spend an hour matching foundation colors (Yellow-orange for my skin? I look like death on toast in orange clothes!!), playing with eye shadow, and setting my makeup with their totally cool magic powder, which feels like water going on. Then, eight hours after I left, it's back home to my live-in Fashion Cop, aka DH, to get the final seal of approval.

Thumbs down. He hates it.
As in, "Where did my wife go?" "Spackle" was mentioned (He is so exaggerating. She did a great job.) So much for my great foray into expensive, "I'm worth $38 foundation, right?" territory. Back to the drug store. Anyone have any suggestions?

Friday, September 09, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Coupla guys!

BED LIST: STEVE CARELL



He's no virgin, and neither am I. But he is fortyish, smart, and hilarious. And cute, in a non-threatening-guy-in-the-back-row-of-English-class kind of way. I'd do him. And I wouldn't make him wax first, neither.

DINNER LIST: TED ALLEN



DH and I love Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. My husband flirts with metrosexual territory (although that forgetting to tuck his shirt in thing keeps him firmly in the straight-with-little-fashion-sense camp), so we've always enjoyed Queer Eye's take on fashion, decorating, and food. Especially food. Ted Allen's one of those men who not only can dazzle you with his food and wine selection, but can also keep the conversation lively and interesting. Straight girl, table for two?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Synopsis Hell II

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Dream Agent calls and says things are going well, blah blah, going to be out of the country from X to Y, and by the way, would you send a synopsis for Crash Test so we'll have one in the office?

!!!!

I thought since it was finished, I'd dodged the synopsis bullet, but nooooooo. And of course, since I've revised the final, I had to revise the synopsis to match. Dang!!

Turned out better than the first version, but still. A synopsis is bad enough to write the first time. Having to do it over and over is like hooking up with the same bad boyfriend. You think it's a good idea at the time (and you're probably drunk at that moment), you try reallyreally hard to make it work, then you end up sending him (it) away in disgust. Let's hope the people reading the thing like it better than I do right now...

Friday, September 02, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

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Soulful selections for a rainy Friday:

BED LIST: GARY DOURDAN



I know several cops, and none of them look this good. Then again, Gary Dourdan is an actor playing a crime scene technician on CSI, but who cares. He can play whatever--and wherever--he wants!

DINNER LIST: STEVIE WONDER



I have admired Stevie Wonder for years. He's a true inspiration to countless musicians (india.arie for one, one of my favorites), a genius, a creative dynamo. Few of his songs end up sounding dated--a couple of unfortunate exceptions are Eighties mistakes "Ebony and Ivory" and "I Just Called to Say I Love You"--but for the most part you can wear out your CDs playing "Fingertips Pt. 1," "Lately," "Isn't She Lovely," and "Livin' for the City" over and over and over and over. Treat yourself well and buy copies of Songs in the Key of Life and Innervisions.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricanes: Been There, Can't Fathom That

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Hollow.

That's the only feeling I can muster when I watch the news reports from Mississippi and New Orleans. Hollow.

Hurricane Charley tore through our neighborhood last year, destroyed a huge tree in our yard, left us without power for nine days in an oppressively hot, humid August. Frances and Jeanne added insult to injury in the form of huge branches through our roof, water damage, and more powerless days. It took months to recover--months of sleeping everywhere but in my own bed, months of ducking under the plastic covering the huge hole in my bedroom ceiling, months of low-grade depression that didn't lift until I had a roof, a new ceiling, and normal life.

I cannot fathom what the people in Louisiana and Mississippi are facing. A friend of mine is a firefighter, someone in charge of a hurricane recovery task force who's flown to Mississippi to help. And there's nothing he can do. There's nothing there. No water, no food, no way out. Search and recovery is all they can do at this point; the time for search and rescue has passed.

I'm a little peeved that the international community that took us to task so harshly for our "stingy," "slow" response to the Asian tsunami hasn't lined up to help the people in our Gulf states. Those people have lost everything, and there's nothing to help them get back on their feet, since their livelihood is wiped out, too.

The nation came to our aid, and now it's our time to come to Mississippi's and Louisiana's. Donate what you can:

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hometown Girl

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Tonight was so cool. The City of Maitland had a big celebration for the Little League team--parade, fair, fireworks. I have never seen postal trucks in a parade before, but we had 'em--along with guys on stilts, cheerleaders, half the Little League players on bikes, a couple of bands, Girl Scouts, and Shriners on those teeny little motorcycles. Slice of Americana.

Then we had food and speeches and fireworks. It felt like a real town instead of a 'burb. Saw all kinds of neighbors, watched kids run back and forth playing frisbee, made new friends. Just the kind of thing you want in a hometown.

Baseball. Best. Sport. Ever.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Zoo Class

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After school today, my new office partner and another new teacher and I were discussing the peculiar psychology of the "zoo class." This is the one period of kids during the school day that can be counted on to act like marmosets on speed. Doesn't matter what you do to them or with them, they are--as the kids at my school say--"off the chain."

My zoo class is fourth period. It's not overly large, but it has one screwed-up dynamic; i.e. a sociology doctorate waiting to happen 55 minutes of every day. One side of the room is all boys, most of them jocks. Interesting répartée, to say the least, especially when the comic book/manga fiend speaks up. One gaggle of girls in the corner cannot. shut. up. Cannot. As in, couldn't hold it in at gunpoint. One of them taunts another girl across the room with badly-drawn pictures of Patrick Starfish, because Girl 1 swears that Girl 2 has Patrick's intellect (Girl 2, to her credit, thinks that Girl 1 is full of it and doesn't take the bait. Smart girl.) Two guys in another corner are quietquietquiet. You have to wonder if they're supremely introverted or just plain catatonic. Needless to say, it's a bizarro balancing act every day. Sometimes I make it. Sometimes I plunge screaming into the net and go begging for chocolate.

The trouble with zoo class? Despite all the weirdness, you can't help liking them for their spontaneity and unpredictability. Zoo class will definitely wear you out and send you groaning for the Tylenol, but it can also unearth some profound comments.

Still, every once in a while you wish you had a Cone of Silence to lower, for no other reason than thirty seconds of absolute quiet...

Monday, August 29, 2005

You'd Think They, of All People...

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Not to get too involved in theological debate, but...

A group of folks at my church aren't happy with the direction the church is going in. You'd think they'd be forthright about their opinions and discuss them openly with the paster, right? That would be the Christian thing to do, I'm thinking. But is that how they handle it? Noooooooooooooooooo. Why be forthright and upstanding when you can start rumors and spread innuendo? I mean, that's what being a Christian is all about, isn't it?

Oh, wait. The charge is to "spread the good news." Hmm. You'd think people who claim to be so passionately interested in the church would get the point.

Maybe they need to spend more time listening on Sundays than they do talking.

*sigh*

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Laundry Confessions

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When the water heater went kaput, we had to move the washing machine out of the way. Washing machine stayed in the middle of the curling-vinyl laundry room floor for a week and half. Now that everything's turned back on, this weekend has been the Great Clean Clothes Marathon, aka tackling Mt. Washmore, as my friend Melynda calls it.

Things I have discovered while doing two weeks' worth of laundry:
  • Every woman deserves her own front-loader.
  • My husband has more clothes than I do, all protests to the contrary.
  • My daughter has more underwear than a lingerie model (she's six).
  • My husband has more underwear than a lingerie model. Yes, it's men's underwear.
  • My son cannot keep track of his socks. Either that, or sock-stealing aliens from planet Coldfeet have been making repeat visits to our house while we're not looking.
  • Some of my underwear is in really sad shape.
  • I really need to purge my children's clothes. My son has several pairs of floods that would see him through hurricane season for the next several years, at least.
  • Scariest of all, my family has enough clothes to get us through two weeks of no laundry.
Towels and sheets today, and then we rest. Finally. My mountaineering days are over!
 

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