Friday, April 29, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Confession time. I'm a child of the 80s. Name me an 80s teen flick, and I'm all over it. Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Weird Science. The Breakfast Club. Sixteen Candles. Real Genius. Great stuff! Here are some 80s guys who grew up very nicely, thank you:


John Cusack--teen hero made good. He's the star of my all-time favorite 80s teen movie, Better Off Dead. Then he had to go and grow up--and I still loved him. Who wouldn't want a Lloyd Dobler-in-the-rain, "In Your Eyes" blaring from the boom box moment with the guy you love? He's the accessible sex symbol, the guy you can believe as a con man (The Grifters), a hit man (Grosse Pointe Blank), or the kooky guy (Being John Malkovich). And yet, he plays that sensitive soul so well. Watch High Fidelity or Serendipity to see what I mean. Love the big brown eyes. Love the voice. Love everything.


I adore Jeremy Piven. When his short-lived TV show "Cupid" was canceled, I nearly got peeved enough to call the network and chew someone out. Jeremy Piven makes the best sidekick in the world. He's good friends with John Cusack--they've appeared in multiple movies together. He's got a great smile and a great attitude. This is the kind of guy you can hang around with at the ballpark (he's a Cubs fan, which is a good thing), talk movies and TV, and laugh at how bizarre the world can get sometimes. Jeremy, the house next door is for sale. Wanna move in?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Thank a Teacher

I buried a friend yesterday.

Tom, someone I've worked with for more than twelve years, died last week of cancer. Nancy, his wife, is devastated. His kids are devastated. Her kids are devastated. So are 120+ inner city kids who had him as their biology teacher this year.

You never really understand how much impact a teacher has until you say goodbye to one too soon. When my HS English teacher--someone who became my professional mentor and friend--died a year ago, the church was packed with people. Yesterday, kids skipped school to attend Tom's funeral. One girl in our choir cried through the whole service, cried silently while her gorgeous soprano floated up to the stained glass transoms in St. Margaret Mary's chapel. Afterwards, I held her as she sobbed into my shoulder.

This is an education story you don't see very often, and thank goodness. The teacher-student relationship goes far beyond boss-employee. People quit work without second glances. People rarely leave schools without leaving something of themselves, people they love, behind.

And yet if you believe the court of public opinion, teachers do only slightly more than manage bodies in a room. We don't work "real" hours. We have oceans of free time and spend it, what? Drinking coffee? Relaxing on the beach?

People who think like this make me sick.

Teachers like Tom are on the clock when most of the corporate world is still scratching its collective butt hunting for coffee in the morning. They wolf down school cafeteria food in a half hour while the corporate world expenses bistro lunches. They donate hours in the afternoon to tutor, coach, encourage, counsel, plan, grade papers--you name it. They come home when the corporate world does, but you never hear people stumping for overtime pay for teachers. I guess because we're altruistic at heart, public opinion has decided that we don't mind the extra hours for no extra pay. The extra responsibility for no extra compensation. The extra requirements for certification and training at their own expense.

I'll tell you what I mind. I mind knowing that a huge chunk of the work world has little to no respect for Tom, or me, or my colleagues because we chose a life of service over a life of profit. I mind that my profession is denigrated nearly constantly by folks who haven't seen the inside of a classroom for decades. I mind that we get lip service about our value to society, all laws (No Child Left Behind, anyone?) and policies to the contrary. I mind that politicians balkanize their communities and economies by rewarding the haves for their bank accounts while keeping their boots on the necks of the have nots and daring them to get up, then faulting the teachers who work with the have nots for not conjuring miracles. I mind that Tom died and that he didn't get the thanks he deserved while he was here to accept it.

Don't wait until you read a funeral notice to recall how much a teacher has meant to you. Get off your behind and make it mean something. Volunteer. Donate. Shout down the media and the legislatures when they badmouth your local teachers. Best of all, go back to school.

Go back to school and say "thank you."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Golden Heart Frustration II

A writer friend of mine who knows something about statistics took my GH scores and the quarter breakdowns and has concluded that I probably missed finaling by .4 of a point.


Ms. 5.5 is really on my s-list now.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Golden Heart Frustration

Well, I'm three for three in GH judging. Every time I enter, I'm in the top quarter. Every year I enter, I have one rogue judge who's out of line with everyone else, so I never final. *sigh*

Here are the scores for Crash Test: 7, 8, 8.8, 8.9, and a 5.5. I'm sure Ms. 5.5 is a fine person and a discerning reader, but I don't really like her that much right now.

Since it's now Dream Agent's job to help find an editor who will pay money for Crash Test, this is most likely my last dance with the GH. Can't say I'll miss it.

Death on a Waffle

I have just crawled out of an all-nighter coma. Last night was Grad Nite at Disney, and I was lead chaperone.

Remember when we all used to wait until 9:30 to get dressed to go out? Having children kicks that ability right out of the system. Now, consciousness at 9:30 is a major accomplishment, especially if a child has fallen asleep against you (better than Unisom).

Last night, though, I load up ninety kid into a couple of school buses and chug down I-4 to Mouse Town. We turned them loose in the park until 4 am. I got to watch a free screening of National Treasure (not Oscar-worthy, but fun stuff, especially if you actually enjoyed your American history classes, and the sidekick is adorable) and eat free breakfast at midnight. We crawled back to the buses a little after 4 am, and I crawled into bed at six.

Which brings me to my current state of being, Death on a Waffle. It's kind of like Death on Toast, but with the added fun of freezer burn. You know, bad hair, pajamas at 1 pm, knowledge that people have been talking to you off and on during the morning, but no clue what they said...kind of like a hangover, but without the alcohol spike between the eyes.

Shower. Food. Consciousness.

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Sometimes, consistency rises above its "hobgoblin of little minds" status. Case(s) in point:


Here's the King, in all his brooding Ranger glory. If you missed out on Peter's Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, you missed a treat. This is one time when I go back on my unwashed men rule and agree to hurl myself headlong onto someone who probably could use a good shower and a shave. But what decent maiden, elven or otherwise, can resist the Heir to the throne of Gondor? He's got the most beautiful woman in the world pining for him and giving him symbolic jewels and the most ass-kicking thronemaiden in Middle Earth willing to throw down with orcs and wargs to take a crack at him (although ending up with Faramir isn't a bad consolation prize). Hell, I'd take on both Arwen and Eowyn in a cage match to be able to sidle up with Aragorn, son of Arathorn. I'll just ask, nicely, for one of those awesome Rivendell makeovers first.


Cleans up good, doesn't he? With a name like "Viggo Mortensen," you're expecting someone out of the ordinary, and this guy delivers. He speaks English, Spanish, Danish, and some Swedish and Norwegian, writes, paints, and plays jazz, mounts photography exhibits... He's lived all over the world and done things as varied as translating for the Swedish national hockey team during the 1980 "Miracle" Winter Olympics and owning a small publishing company. Does this man sleep? Dinner definitely. Viggo for dessert.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Big, Burly Men

...are currently tearing up my kitchen. Today my new counters arrive. Woo hoo! Our has has beautiful real pine cabinets, so divorcing them from the 30-year-old Formica counters was just not an option. Enter Kornerstone Tops, who will transform worn-out white to sexy black granite by lunchtime!!

This is pretty cool, actually. The guys came out a few weeks ago to measure and make a template of the counters. They used a butane glue gun. That was weird. Today, all my new counter pieces are clipped to a slab of plywood out in their truck. Some power sanding, some fabulous adhesive and hide-the-seam grout, and I'll have black granite counters.

Things you find out while big, burly men tear up your kitchen:
  • The wallboard behind the backsplash looks *really* scary, especially behind the sink.
  • There was enough dog hair under my stove to make a whole new dog. A small one.
  • The sides of my stove were positively grody. I had to get out the degreaser right. then.
  • I also found 37 cents,
  • three marbles,
  • a pork chop bone,
  • and one of the huge ball bearings that came with the Geo-Mags.
Guess I oughta haul the stove out and clean under there more often, huh? Who cares. I'll feel like a domestic goddess. At least until I have to install the tile for the new backsplash.

and one Great Big Boy

My son is eight today! He's having a big week--lost a tooth last night (the Tooth Fairy brought a Sacajawea dollar for it), birthday today. Steaks for everyone at Roadhouse Grill tonight, birthday party on the weekend. In the spirit of home improvement, he's getting a solar-system painted on the walls, new floors, and a bunk bed.

I can't believe he's that old.

I can't believe I'm that old.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Eclectic choices this week!


Okay, let's admit it. The whole J-Lo era was embarrassing. He could make better choices in the career department (I hear he's thinking about directing, which may be a good thing right now). The rehab trips could have been avoided. Despite all these missteps, Ben still gets my vote. He's hot. He can do the smolder for the camera (check out this cover of Details to see what I mean). He's also funny and engaging. Remember his opening monologue mocking the "Bennifer" phenomenon when he hosted Saturday Night Live? He's an Oscar winner for Good Will Hunting--sharing the Best Original Screenplay award with longtime friend Matt Damon. He's charming and cute during Celebrity Poker Showdown. For all these reasons, Ben gets a ticket to the bedroom--as long as current squeeze Jennifer Garner doesn't find out. She'd kick my ass for sure.


Men's Health is one of my favorite magazines. Part of the reason DH got a subscription this past Christmas is so I can read it myself. One of the joys of Men's Health is their advice columnist, Jimmy the Bartender. No bull with this guy. He serves his advice straight up, sometimes with a twist. Jimmy could have warned Ben off J-Lo in a hurry: "You're from Boston and she grew up in the Bronx? I'm all for mixed relationships, but everyone knows a Red Sox/Yankees combo is doomed. Find yourself a different Jennifer." For his humor and no-bull style, I'd be happy to share a table with Jimmy anytime. The porterhouse is on me.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Puppy Love

Last July, I lost my cocker spaniel, Jack. He was fourteen and, as nearly everyone said, one of the best cockers they'd ever met. None of the stereotypical cocker problems like bad ears, peeing, etc.--just a fabulous, funny dog. I cried for a week when I lost him.

Lately, DH and I have been talking about getting a puppy. The kids are asking, and I think I'm finally ready. Not ready enough to get another cocker, but maybe something different. Another sporting group dog. Not a Lab or a Golden (everybody has one of those), but something special. Jack himself was a sable tricolor cocker, a very unusual color. So we do some research and find ourselves liking the idea of a Brittany. We also find a breeder not far from here who has puppies ready to go in May, right when school's out.

We spent this afternoon playing with puppies and some of the older dogs at the breeders. Had to tear the kids away. We're satisfied, though, and ready to go. This is dad:

This is mom:

And our new baby will be one of these guys:

Cute, huh? Here's the kicker. The earliest day we can bring home a new puppy after school gets out is June 2. Jack was born on June 2, 1990. Almost like he's saying "It's okay, Mom. You can have a new baby."

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

Today is my mother's birthday. Turns out a whole slew of interesting people were born in 1942 besides her, including Muhammad Ali, Carole King, interviewer Charlie Rose, Terry Jones of Monty Python fame, Aretha Franklin, Mr. Documentary Voiceover Peter Coyote, Madeleine Khan, Penny Marshall, musical geniuses Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Andy Summers of the Police, and the high priest of stilettos himself, Manolo Blahnik. To celebrate Mama, I proudly present the Birthday edition (born the same year!) of the Bed/Dinner list.


Hard to believe Indiana Jones is turning 63 this year, isn't it? This photo proves that men often age way better than we gals do. (Calista "Toss Me a Cheeseburger" Flockhart sure seems to think so) AARP eligibility or no, Harrison is hot. Love the grin and the scar. Love the grumbly voice. Love the hat and the bullwhip (hey, he can bring them in the bedroom with him, if he wants). Love the "I know" line right before they carbon-freeze him in The Empire Strikes Back. Yeah, we know. You've still got it. And we want it.


Fred Dalton Thompson is responsible for one of my all-time favorite movie lines. Not long after Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin) is pulled onto the USS Enterprise (not the Star Trek Enterprise, the aircraft carrier) in the middle of The Hunt for Red October, Rear Admiral Joshua Painter, Thompson's character, is grilling him about what he thinks the Russians are planning. "Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan," he growls. This Southern gentleman learned a lot more about foreign policy as a Senator from Tennessee. After retiring from the Senate, he took up acting again and can be seen every week as District Attorney Arthur Branch on Law and Order. Politics and movies--sure to be good dinner conversation, with a smooth Southern drawl for a chaser. Sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Sally Field Moment

I'm going through DD's backpack and pull out a piece of paper addressed to me. Open it up, and what do you know--someone out there thinks I might be a good person for the PTA Board.

(moment of silence for everyone to stop chuckling)

The first thing that flits across my brain is "You like me! You really like me!" You know, that Sally Field burble when she won the Oscar for Places in the Heart? (Technically, that's not what she said--read the real text here) They like me! They think I'd be a great addition to the PTA BOARD!! I have achieved community stature!

Then I think about what that really means--more meetings every month, less time being a mom, more guilt because I can't play hooky from my own students during the day to come and head up the wrapping paper fundraiser or cookies for the teachers at Christmas. I appreciate the hell out of the elementary school PTA, but I'm just not the gal to be running things. I have a hard enough time keeping my own household running.

Still, they like me. They really like me. That's good for today.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What's In a Name?

So I'm daydreaming about my writing career-to-be and wondering whether I need to take a pseudonym.

My mom tells me that originally, my parents were going to name me Sarah, after a longtime friend of Daddy's family (I was born on her birthday). Turns out that when I arrived, Daddy decided that I needed to be named for mom, so I ended up as a Mary Louise.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "Mary." I am certainly not a "Mary Lou," God forbid. (I never took gymnastics.) I had a nickname growing up (what Southern girl doesn't?), but you can't continue to go by "Missy" after thirty unless you have a hair helmet, drive a Volvo, and belong to the Junior League, none of which is true of me. So when I got my first grownup job, I decided to use both of my names (what Southern girl who can doesn't?).

I've been "Mary Louise" ever since. Trouble is, I'm writing chick lit. "Mary Louise" says historical. Mary Louise sounds like iced tea on the porch. Mary Louise doesn't sound very hip, know what I'm sayin'? I don't know how well it fits with chick lit. Plus, I'm a teacher, and you never know what parents might think about their kids' teacher being a writer who doesn't flinch at body parts when writing a love scene. Hmm.

I've picked up another name over the years. My sister worked as a nanny for years. I got to know two of those kids pretty well. The older one had trouble with the letter S, so "Missy" was a problem. The younger one couldn't quite handle "Mary Louise." Problem solved when clever sis suggested they both call me "Mimi."

Mimi I became to them and in time, to my sister and my mother. Now all my nieces and nephews call me Mimi. I'm guessing my grandma name--WAAAAAY down the road from now (my kids are working on 8 and 6)--will also be Mimi.

So, chick lit books by Mimi Wells. What do you think?

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Sunday Afternoon

Benjamin Franklin said that you could count on two things in life: death and taxes. I say you can count on three: death, taxes, and my husband taking a nap on Sunday afternoon.

What is it with men, anyway? They get the nap gene hard-wired into the DNA, we girls tiptoe around them multi-tasking until our brains are tapioca, and they wake after a couple of hours semi-refreshed and ready to watch some baseball.

What's that all about?

It's not like I didn't know what I was getting into. He did the nap thing while we were dating--you know, the "Isn't that cute?" phase of the relationship. I should have known it would transfer over into married life, like the socks in the middle of the floor habit and the ice cream addiction.

I'm not complaining. I just find it fascinating. I'm looking around the wreck that is our house, wondering if a fire hose and a push broom are a good idea, and he's contemplating the inside of his eyelids. Seems an unfair trade.

What the heck. I'll let him sleep a while. Once he's up, though, all bets are off. He'll have a chore list, and I'll be lounging outside in the perfect Florida weather, reading a romance novel.

Not bad for a Sunday afternoon, even if I have to do laundry first.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Bed List/The Dinner List

DH went with a friend to a sneak preview of Sin City this week. Amazing visuals, he says, but really violent. You know, your basic graphic novel. It got me thinking about comic books (this is a very weird brain I tote around), so I present to you the all-comic-book version of the Bed List/Dinner List!


Smart men just do it for me. Peter Parker is one smart man. If you've ever read the comic, you know that Peter invented the web-throwers and the web solution (he's a science genius) after being bitten by a radioactive spider. He also gains incredible balance, stamina, and speed. There's something to be said for his spider sense. He can anticipate what's happening before it does. Can you imagine how advantageous that would be beneath the sheets? Hmm. I feel something tingling!!


Even if all you know of the X-Men is how good Hugh Jackman and James Marsden look in black leather (baby!), you have to admit that Dr. Charles Xavier, better known as Professor X, is the brains behind the outfit. He's erudite, educated, and wise. He's the voice of reason in a time of madness--couldn't we all use some of that? He's the mastermind behind Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters, a place for exceptional young people to learn in addition to honing their mutant abilities. Hey, you wouldn't even have to speak--the man can read minds.
All in all, a fabulous dinner companion.

the dish Design by Insight © 2009