Friday, September 30, 2005
I always got a kid’s meal and I would ask my parents to get me some pudding from the salad bar. My dad would say, “No, we can’t do that because it’s all-you-can-eat.” I didn’t understand that. If it was ‘all-you-can-eat’ why couldn’t I have pudding? I mean, they were always trying to get me to eat more. Why the pudding Nazi treatment?
My Wendy’s cheeseburger came with pickles on it and I would always take them off. Gross. I hated pickles. Still do. But one Friday in October 1987 we had more on our minds than pudding, pickles and even frosties. Baby Jessica had fallen down the well. She had been trapped since Wednesday morning—over 55 hours. That’s longer than Britney Spears was married to Jason Alexander.
So this time, instead of taking my pickles off my cheeseburger, I made a deal with God. I told him that I would eat ALL of my pickles (both of them) if he would just let baby Jessica out of the well. It was gross. It was disgusting. It was my ultimate sacrifice.
That night when we got home the Dukes of Hazzard had been interrupted with a special report. At first I was peeved (back then we were peeved rather than pissed). But then I saw the headline. Baby Jessica had been rescued! I wasn’t sure why she looked like a mummy but who cared? I had done this--with the help of Dave Thomas’ pickles, of course.
I encourage everyone to eat pickles in times of crisis. But there are a few rules:
1. You have to not like pickles. If you do like them, you have to choose something else.
2. It has to be a really big problem. I’ve tried to eat them to get a boy to like me, to get an A on a test without studying and to get rid of a killer hang nail. No success.
3. Once you’ve eaten your pickles (or other enemy food), you can’t celebrate until the crisis is over.
And whatever you do, don't ask for pudding from the all-you-can-eat buffet.
Thursday, September 29, 2005
I even liked some of her music. Hello? Her song inspired one of my most googled articles: PDA. It's so Yesterday
Plus, she sings the theme song to my fave reality show, Laguna Beach: “Let the Rain Fall Down.” LC v. Kristin? Now there’s another blog-worthy battle.
But the other day I heard one of Hil’s songs and the lyrics stopped me in my tracks. Well, they stopped me in the oversized pedals of the elliptical machine at the gym. Here’s what Hil sang over the speaker:
There's people talking. They talk about me. They know my name. They think they know everything. But they don't know anything...about me
What? Sounds like a prepubescent nursery rhyme. And even those kids are too old for that. And it doesn’t rhyme. So that’s a big con on Hil’s list. Let’s weigh in on everything else:
Well, she’s “pro” as Frank would say but even he thinks she's too skinny now.
It’s all relative:
She needs to lose that sister, Haylie. She’s just bringing her down.
She dates that Joel Madden guy from Good Charlotte. I like their music (could he help Hil?) but I couldn’t eat and look at him. So I’m neutral.
Then in the other corner we’ve got Lindsay. She’s blonde but I like her better as a redhead, don’t you? She’s NOT naïve. In fact, she seems a little bit dirty. And her songs? Well, here’s a sample:
I'm tired of rumors starting. I'm sick of being followed. I'm tired of people lying, saying what they want about me.
What? That sounds just like Hil’s song. I’m not here to debate who wrote which brilliant lyrics first; I’m just saying they’re about the same subject. Why not be friends?
So Lindsay’s con is that she’s dirty. And that she's way too skinny. She makes Hil look like a chubster. Other areas of her life that we can examine?
Her movies are pretty good. Who doesn’t love a Parent Trap remake? Or Mean Girls?
It’s all relative:
Oh, poor girl. Her parents are white trash. I know she's phasing out Dad but she should go ahead and ditch mom, too.
Sometimes they’re enormous. Sometimes they’re teeny tiny. What’s up with that?
Bottom line, the two teen queens hate each other. Lo says she tried to make nice: "I called her last week, and I was like, ‘Do you wanna hang out?’ And her sister hung up the phone on me!" See, Hil? I told you to lose that conniving sis, Haylie. You could have hit the clubs with Lo!
The real tragedy is the reason they started fighting: When they were 14 they both dated little Aaron Carter. That's like me fighting with my friend Amber in college over some guy we both dated in junior high. Wait. Nobody wanted to date me in junior high. Hence why we're still friends.
So who's the winner and who's the loser here?
Loser(s): Us. The radio listening public.
Winner: Why, Joel Madden of course. When he's done with Hil he can surely hook up with Lindsay. Hil may even tell Linds, "He's great for your figure. You won't be able to eat and look at him!" and Linds will snap back, "I don't eat anyway, chubster."
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Now I’m not the first person to acknowledge Neil’s talents. In fact, I remember when I was little watching this commercial for his compilation album that said, “NEIL DIAMOND. THE GREATEST SINGER/SONGWRITER OF ALL TIME.”
Wow. That’s quite a title. And I hadn’t even voted. But I certainly would have. And not just because his songs rock but because Neil and I, well, we have a special connection:
My mother’s maiden name is Diamond
Neil was born on January 24th (mine and Thea’s birthday)
Hello? Are you getting goose bumps? I’m pretty sure we’re related somehow. Like maybe he’s my uncle. Don’t you think we look alike? Actually, I’m really surprised Neil hasn’t responded to my letters stating these facts but I know he’s super busy. And speaking of being super busy, how many performers have been able to tour for over 30 years and still play to sold-out crowds? And have you seen these crowds? They’re a smorgasbord of young and old, WB and PBS, American Idol and Solid Gold.
And his songs! They’re all so different that you have to love at least one or five:
--Girl, you’ll be a woman soon
--Heartlight (remember from a previous blog? I called it “The E.T. Song” and Miss Davis was pissed. http://writinggal.blogspot.com/2005/08/why-hall-oates-rock.html)
--America (Personal Fave: “They’re coming to America. TODAY!”)
You gotta give it to Neil. He’s smart. He knows what the crowd wants to hear. Not new songs from this decade. Give us the old stuff! The stuff before I was born! So he delivers. And he even wears sequined shirts that he had before I was born. That Neil.
Sadly, I have never had the chance to see Neil in concert. Once Frank and I were going to a U2 concert and on the way we passed another venue that was having a Neil Diamond show that very same night. I was a 25-year-old but I would have traded Bono for Neil no question.
He’s coming to Dallas in a few weeks and I looked into getting tickets. It’s $42.50 for my usual nosebleed seats. Yikes. I mean, he does rock, but at those prices it’s like he really believes he’s the greatest singer/songwriter of all time. I’m gonna need to talk to Uncle Neil about getting the family discount. And maybe I'll talk to him about losing the sequined shirts.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Observation: when two girls travel together they get a lot of attention. Therefore Thea and I made life long friends at the GR Solaris resort. And we’re not discriminating—we hung out with guests, employees and even people from Oklahoma.
Allow me to introduce you to our new friends:
Roger and Jenn: I’ve never been to Oklahoma but I've heard the rumors: People are white trash, poor and obnoxious. Well, after meeting Roger and Jenn I have to say, the rumors are true. Rog and Jenn liked to drink, dance and talk loudly about their genitalia. Can I say that word on my family-friendly blog?
Roger and Jenn, we thank you for teaching us to have faith in stereotypes and to not bother trying to be PC about our neighbors to the north.
Federico: At first glance, Federico looked like the resident hottie employee of the GR Solaris. But then he opened his mouth. He decided to join Thea and me while we sat eating our lunch at the buffet one day. Instead of making small talk he launched into a monologue about his childhood, his parents, his life in Cancun.
Federico, we’re glad your parents reconciled and that your apartment is not so messy anymore but I just came here to eat guacamole with a spoon and drink queso. Can I go get thirds now?
Bucky and the NJ boys: You know these guys. They come in a big group and make friends with people like Roger and Jenn. Dislikes? Shirts and sobriety. Likes? Many tattoos and wrist bands that go up their arms (this is a badge of honor representing how many cheesy Cancun clubs they've hit.) They make comments like, “I don’t remember Thursday or Friday. I sort of remember Saturday but not this morning.” Bucky is their leader and he took a liking to Thea. He wanted to be her instant Cancun boyfriend. Now there's an oxymoron.
Bucky, we know that’s not your name but it should be (see pic below.)
Perfecto: Now this is his real name and it fits him, well, perfectly. He brought us drinks by the pool. I bet he never gets tired of guests yelling “Perfecto!!” every time he brings them those high-calorie, weak drinks. NJ boys say he only makes $16 per day. Hey, that’s more than I make on this blog.
Perfecto, thank you for making us “Tickets to Fly” and for bringing them so promptly. You are muy perfecto!
Oh, I'm getting that Oscar-speech panic. I have so many more people to thank but not enough time: Ramón with the mohawk, Carla the curly-haired entertainer who competed with me on the treadmill (good try, Carla, but you could pick up the pace a little), Luis the waiter who raised his eyebrows at us at breakfast (I couldn't return the look, see last week's blog), Lupe and Sylvia for singing "Now I had the time of my life" every night in the lobby bar and Henry, the deli sandwich maker for creating those delicious mayonnaise sandwiches. Hey, you try drinking a dozen "Tickets to Fly" from Perfecto and see what weird foods you crave.
But now it's over. It's back to the real world. A world where you have to pay for drinks, you don't eat every two hours and a day's work involves more than rubbing on SPF 30. And as for our life long friends? Well there's talks of a Cancun reunion Spring Break time. Thanks, guys. But I think we're gonna try Cabo.
Federico: He looks cute but don't let him talk.
Roger: We didn't dare tell him we root for Texas.
Jenn: Just like Federico--if she would just keep her mouth shut!
Come on, you would have called him Bucky too, right?
Friday, September 23, 2005
Blog readers: Thank you for visiting writinggal.blogspot.com. I will be out of the office, today, September 23rd and Monday, September 26th. I will be traveling with a regular blog character, Thea (see photo at left) to Cancun.
If you need immediate assistance, please refer to my past blogs as they should help you through these next two days. If you are having serious writinggal blog withdrawal, may I recommend "A picture's worth about 300 words" in which Liz and I do the "working girl" dance? I think you may chuckle. There now, all better.
While in Cancun, Thea and I will be taking pictures much like the one above. They will all feature alcoholic beverages (as we will always have one or four in hand), we will be smiling and we will be fully dressed. You see, we're so white that we would surely cause some sort of malfunction with the camera flash should we attempt to be photographed in our bathing suits.
So I'll blog you when I get back. Maybe I'll have stories from the "trip with two petite blonde girls born on January 24th with four-letter, weird, European names." Wait. What do I mean maybe?
P.S. Just because I'm gone, doesn't mean you can't click on my ads. Come on, this trip isn't gonna pay for itself.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
And if we hadn’t already contributed enough, Frank pledged money at work and they matched it. We’re still waiting for a personal call from the president. Or at least mayor Ray Nagin. But we understand they’re busy. Hey, we just like to give.
Just as we were getting sore from patting ourselves on the back, we got an email from Frank’s Aunt and Uncle in Houston. They gave peanut butter crackers too—to the displaced family from New Orleans living at their house! That’s right. They’ve got a family of three sleeping, eating and swimming (they have a pretty cool pool) in their home.
I should have seen this coming. If anyone was going to outdo us (and we set the bar pretty high), it would be Aunt Marilyn and Uncle John. Why just this past June, when Frank and I had to change our travel plans and fly out of Houston at the last minute, Marilyn and John stepped up. We gave them two-hours notice. And when we arrived, not only did they have a room all prepared for us, (I think maybe there was even a mint on the pillow) Marilyn had cooked this extravagant meal. And what’s more, we ate in the dining room with a tablecloth and candles! I’m hesitant to get out the tablecloth even at Thanksgiving. Then very early the next morning, John rose to drive us to the airport. But not without a full breakfast from Marilyn.
I mean, if someone wanted to sneak a visit on me, I’d be okay with it. I may even call Papa John’s in honor of their arrival. But they’re not getting a tablecloth or candles. They’re lucky if they get clean sheets!
I tried to imagine what it would be like if Frank and I took in a family.
(Begin dream sequence):
I mean, really, hurricane victims are the best kind of houseguests. They’ve been living in horrific conditions. You know what that equals? Low expectations. I could cook mac-n-cheese every night and they would be grateful. Pop Tarts for breakfast (we have a huge box from Costco), PB&J for lunch…they would think I was their queen. But after a couple of weeks, they may start complaining: “Mac-n-cheese again, Queen Elsa?” and “Really, I’ll wash the sheets myself!”
And then what if they got wind of what was going on at Marilyn and John’s? “Queen Elsa, they’re getting steak on tablecloths over there! And I heard they get to play water volleyball and chill out in a hot tub!”
“It’s all a myth!” I’d tell them. “Marilyn IS cooking them mac-n-cheese. But it’s not even Kraft. It’s the generic kind from Wal-Mart. So consider yourself lucky!”
(End dream sequence.)
Do you see what saints like Marilyn and John do to the rest of us? I used to be this charitable, giving person and now, here I am, lying to hurricane victims! I decided I could never go beyond providing lame snack food or making impersonal monetary donations.
But then, a second chance. Another hurricane. And this time in my hometown. I got calls from family, asking if we could take them in. And these hurricane victims would be a tougher crowd. They were going to arrive before the storm. You know what that equals? High expectations.
I prepared for at least six people plus five pets. And when I say “prepared,” I mean I just daydreamed again about what I would cook, where they would sleep and whether or not I needed to clean the bathroom. I didn’t bust out the table cloth or anything.
And then last night at 9:00 the troops arrived. Well, it turned out to just be one troop. And by that I mean just my mom. Everyone else decided to stay.
Nevertheless, I’m going to do my part. I’m giving my mother and her cat the best accommodations. And yes, I even washed the sheets. She may not get candle-lit dinners, a hot tub or fun-filled games of water volleyball. But by golly, she can have all the peanut butter crackers she wants.
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
We sang it several times a day that summer, to the point where her two-year-old brother even knew some of the words. Family and friends would request us to perform at gatherings. We really should have taken our act on the road. We could be rich by now. But there are two very sad facts about this story:
1. The frightening amount of TV we apparently watched that summer.
2. The fact that, 16 years later, we still know all the words and when we get together, still sing it. And by the way, this is against the request of our husbands.
Because I know you are bursting with anticipation, I will perform it for you now:
First scene: Man is working at a fast food chain. His boss comes in and yells, “Hey Shorty, fifty double meat, double cheese!”
Hey, man. You think you’re cool.
Well I think you better get in school.
Flippin’ those burgers just ain’t your style
But workin’ with computers can make you smile.
Get a career, not just a job
Become somebody different, not part of the mob
Earn some money, get some respect
You can make it big, ain’t that correct?
Girls in short dresses:
CLC that’s where you need to be.
Try CLC and you will soon see
That minimum wage is not where it’s at
Girls in short dresses:
So whatcha waiting for? Step up to the bat
And call 781-6800, That’s 781-6800
You get hands-on training and it’s quick not slow
So call 781-6800 (aside: this was the days before Houston had four area codes. I'm so old.)
If you qualify, don’t you see?
You can get financial aid, call CLC
Call us now, don’t be slow
Don’t you wanna see your income GROOOOOOOW? (aside: this is where Jaime’s little brother would chime in. He’s in college now. I'm really old.)
Girls in short dresses:
CLC. CLC. CLC. C-L-C!!
So there you have it. Jaime, I know you’re singing along. You better be. We’ve got the 20th anniversary coming up in just four years and we need to get ready for the big tour.
And yes, we are auditioning for opening acts. But you’ve gotta be good. We’re not taking “Big Mac, McBLT, A Quarter Pounder with some Cheese, Filet-O-Fish, a Hamburger, A Cheeseburger, A happy meal…”
I’m ashamed to say I think we’ve already got that one covered.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
But lately I’ve had some bad experiences at W. The first:
I’m at the check-out and I see one of those signs about donating to a cause. It’s juvenile diabetes. That’s nice. But then the check-out girl straight out asks me, “Would you like to donate to help the victims of juvenile diabetes?” How do I answer that? I liked the kids on the sign when it felt optional. But now they were staring at me like, “What? You and your healthy pancreas don’t want to help us?” I whispered, “Uh, no.” I felt awful. I think it’s how they phrase it: “Would you like?” And then my answer is basically, “Nah, I don’t feel like it.” Maybe I don’t have any money after paying $7 for toothpaste!
The next time I go the sign is pushed back and the kids aren’t really staring at me anymore. The check-out girl says, “Would you like to donate to the victims of Katrina?” What? What happened to the diabetes kids? Now, suddenly we don’t care about them anymore? Like their insulin problems have to take a back seat to the hurricane victims? And by the way, W, EVERYBODY is helping the hurricane victims! Maybe it would be more noble if you stuck to your original cause. Maybe I was even gonna donate this time (hey, I might have!) Plus, I’ve already contributed to that sneaky Red Cross. So again I have to say, “Uh, no.” This girl thinks I’m anti sick kids and displaced people. I’m evil!
The third strike against W (which lead me to take email action):
Frank and I go to W because I need to pick up a prescription. I totally fall for the end-cap scam and grab a tube of that Jergen’s lotion that’s supposed to make you tan. Does that work, by the way? I’m still ghostly. So the check-out girl in the make-up section (we’ll call her Barb) sees me grab the tube and says, “Hey, I have a $1 off coupon for that when you’re ready to check out.” I tell Barb, “Great. I have to pick up a prescription and then I’ll come back over here to pay.”
I pick up my prescription at the pharmacy and tell the tech (we’ll call her Tanya) that I’m going to pay at the make-up counter. Tanya says I can’t do that. Guess she thinks I’m going to steal my $8 prescription. So I go to Barb and say, “The pharmacy won’t let me check out over here so I need to just get that coupon and take it back there.”
Barb rolls her eyes, sighs and looks like she’s going to kill Tanya. It’s Walgreens War. As I’m walking away Barb says, “You know, you could buy everything here and then buy your prescription there.” Yeah, that sounds super easy. Talk about customer service. I say, “Does it really matter?” Barb says, “Yes, I get in trouble if I don’t ring up someone every 15 minutes.” Barb then proceeds to tell me about all the make-up items she makes commission on and how I should always check out there.
What?? Did anybody know this? I felt so uncomfortable—like I was being sucked into some sort of pyramid scheme. And I did it. I checked out with Barb and then with Tanya. Tanya rolled her eyes when I came back and told her what I’d done. And poor Frank. He’s just going back and forth with me between Barb and Tanya and he doesn’t know what’s going on. He’s just glad I got $1 off that expensive faux tanning lotion.
Walgreens, do you see what you’re doing? You’re making customers feel bad about themselves for not donating, you’re causing friction between employees and you’re contributing to the juvenile diabetes epidemic!
I’m sending them a note saying as much.
So forget you, Walgreens. Forget your extensive array of salon quality hair products. Forget your vast selection of cards of both humor and sentiment. Forget your quality luggage sets. I’m no longer white Walgreens woman. Soon I’ll be taking my newly tanned self to another drug store. That’s right. I’ll be a dirty CVS girl.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Every year TV Guide puts out a cover story called “The Best Show you’re not Watching.” I love that issue because it usually features a show I am watching. So since I obviously have elevated taste, I thought I’d do my own little “The Best Shows you’re not Watching” blog.
But before I reveal my top picks, I want to give some advice to those who think they prefer the page to the tube. You don’t. You love TV. You’re just ashamed for some crazy reason. And next time I say that I love TV, whatever you do, don’t give that standard, cliché, non-TV-watcher response: “I don’t have time to watch TV.” Ugh. Who likes that person? No one. And we’re not going to invite you to our Desperate Housewives watching party with an attitude like that. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way…
Arrested Development: Premiers tonight at 8/7 on Fox (Non-TV Watchers: All TV times are given in Eastern Standard Time so I’m offering the Central time too: 8/7. Get it?)
I know, it’s old news. All the critics love this show. But I had to give it a little plug for the following reasons:
1. I’ve loved Jason Bateman since Silver Spoons.
2. AD is probably the best written show on Television.
3. It’s about a cooky family—who doesn’t love a cooky family?
I’m not sure why this show isn’t catching on. Is it because people are scared they won’t understand it? Don’t worry. There’s a narrator (kind of like the Housewives) who explains it all. And if you still can’t follow it, please refer to reason #1.
What I like about you: Friday nights, 8/7 on the WB. Don’t give me the old, “But I have a life. I go out on Friday nights” excuse. This is the perfect show to watch while you’re getting ready to go out. It’s got Amanda Bynes (what a doll) and our fave, Kelly Taylor. She prefers to be called Jennie Garth now for some reason. They’re sisters and they live in a fancy apartment together. I’m not sure why. They have all these problems with boys and jobs and I’m not sure what else. But I always laugh out loud. Hey, is it possible I only like this show because I’m usually downing wine whilst watching it? Not sure. But you should try it. The wine and the show.
CSI: St. Louis: Special Victims Unit: Trauma and Guts: I think I made this up. But it sounds real, no?
The Comeback: Sunday nights, 10:30/9:30 on HBO. Can’t believe Frank lets us have HBO, right? He doesn’t. We got HBO and Showtime free for two months. I called to cancel the two “premium” channels when our free trial was over (I promise, Frank!) but then they said I could keep HBO for $5 a month. I kept it just for The Comeback. Frank immediately started doing the math: $5 for four episodes is $1.25 per episode. Nope. Not okay. So we got into Entourage too. That’s about $.63 per show. Not bad.
The Comeback stars Lisa Kudrow as a has-been TV actress who just got her second break with a new series. But the show is really about the reality show she’s filming while she’s filming the TV series. It’s a show within a show within a show…I think. At first you won’t like it. You’ll think she’s goofy and quirky and you’ll hate her voice but then for some reason, you’ll get sucked in. I’m like in a trance when I watch this show. It’s brilliant. Or maybe HBO is pumping some sort of fumes into my home. Oh, well. It’s a nice $.63 high.
Although I’m obviously an established TV writer, I’m not privy to pre-screenings of new shows. So I’ll have to check them all out this week, same as everybody else, and get back to you.
But when it comes to TV, you should listen to me—not that girl from E! Remember when she was pleasantly plump and her stint was called “Watch with Wanda?” Then suddenly she got all skinny and demanded that we call her by her real name—Kristin. And the folks at E! totally caved. Instead of saying, “No, Kristin doesn’t lend itself to a catchy segment title. I mean, we can’t say ‘Kickin’ it with Kristin’ now can we?” They said, “Okay. Since you’re skinny we’ll give you anything you want.” And now she’s the host of the lame “Watch with Kristin.” What?
But she does seem to have more of the inside scoop on the shows. She obviously just has more time to watch TV than I do. I wonder if she wants to hang out with me and the WB on Friday nights. Hey, fine with me. As long as she brings the wine.
Friday, September 16, 2005
But back to the guys from Athens, GA. Kristin was a mega-fan. Their tapes blared on her boom box all the time. And it was old-school stuff like Murmur and Reckoning--long before "Stand" became their flagship song. But it was Stand's album, Green, that R.E.M. toured for in 1989.
And that was the year I attended my very first concert.
Having a big sister who's into music is helpful for moments like these. That way you don't end up with a story like, "My first concert was Color me Badd. 'I Wanna Sex you up' was their opening song."
No, for me, it was much cooler. It was March 21, 1989--Spring Break. Like I said, I was 12. So Kristin was 17. We were in Austin with our parents for a quick mini-vacation. It was pouring so we couldn't do the regular Zilker Park/Barton Springs excursions. We drove by the Frank Erwin Center and the marquee said that R.E.M. was playing that night. Duh, like Kristin didn't know that already. She had tickets to see them two days later in Houston. Somehow we convinced our parents to buy us tickets for that evening since we didn't have any other plans. I remember that they were $17.
Along with having no musical taste of my own, I had no sense of fashion either. Luckily, Kristin picked out a very appropriate outfit for me--all black. We looked like we were going to the rockingest funeral ever. My parents dropped us off at the Frank Erwin Center and we took our places in the nosebleed section (this seems to be a theme in my life).
Before the boys took the stage, I noticed a strange smell in the area. I inquired about it and Kristin said, "Shh...it's pot..." Huh? "It's marijuana!" Well, what's a first concert without some drug paraphernelia?
Then the lights dimmed and the band entered much in the same way Britney Spears would enter 13 years later--with some sort of explosion. They opened with "Pop Song 89" which you know better as "Hello, I saw you I know you I knew you..." Luckily, I had spent a lot of time with Kristin's cassette's too so I was able to sing along with our neighboring pot heads.
The set list went like this:
Pop Song 89
Welcome To The Occupation
Turn You Inside-Out
Feeling Gravity's Pull
Time After Time
Begin The Begin
World Leader Pretend
Frogmore - Tired Of Singing Trouble - I Believe
It's The End Of The World As We Know It
Then they did THREE Encores which included Stand, Fall on Me, Finest Worksong and some others.
Yes, I remember it like it was 15 years ago but it was really 16. NO--they have these set lists on the Internet! Some other loser documented every single R.E.M. concert ever. That's how I knew the exact date too. I'm not that psycho sentimental.
So I thank my sister for taking me to my rocking first concert. Unfortunately, after she went off to college I had no musical guide and my tastes faltered. And now I have to live with the fact that my fifth concert ever was, in fact, Color Me Badd. And lucky me, they did open with "I Wanna Sex you up."
Thursday, September 15, 2005
I attended her concert in July 2002 with my friend Jacquie. Yes, we were the only people over the age of 13 who weren't moms. Yes, we were the only people who drove ourselves. And yes, we were the only people buying beer at the concession stand. We sat in our nosebleed seats, feeling quite Amazonish in a sea of tweens. But we were pumped.
Before the show they played videos of other songs that would probably be found on "Now that's what I call Music Volume 32." We were singing along to 'NSYNC's (Ah! Brit's ex--how rude!) song "If you were my Girlfriend." And I should add we were singing quite loudly. But why not? It's a freaking great song.
The little 5th graders next to us were singing along too. When the song was over, one of them tapped me on the shoulder and asked, "Um, do you like sing professionally?" I KNEW my parents' money wasn't wasted on those voice lessons. Here I was, meeting my first fan. "No," I told her. And then just to make sure they weren't fair-weathered fans I asked, "Did you hear her sing too?" and pointed to Jacquie. The girl said, "Um, yeah." Oops. Obviously not impressed with Jacquie's soprano. Did I feel sorry for her? Um, no. Take one look at Jacquie and you'll see why. Let her have the looks. I had the voice of a pop star.
Now the 5th graders were huddled together, discussing something that must have been very important--the state of the war in Iraq, perhaps? Their spokesperson tapped me again, "Okay. We've decided something. Not that we would EVER want this to happen," (they all shook their heads, pony tails going side to side) "But...if Britney died" (a solemn look from the group and a gasp from one) "we think you should take her place."
Wow. Never have I received such an honor. What could I say? I was beyond flattered. But even though I had a rockin' voice and with a little more time at the gym, could also have some rockin' abs to match...I couldn't accept. So it was with great sorrow that I had to say, "Oh, no. Not me. I couldn't do that." The spokesperson said, "You're right. No one could ever take her place." We didn't have time to continue our discussion nor did Jacquie have time to fume with jealousy. Brit was making her entrance--which included an underground tunnel, some smoke and I think maybe an explosion of some sort.
We danced in our seats as Brit lip sang her heart out. It was magical. And when it was over we bid farewell to our four-foot friends and vowed to meet up at the next Backstreet Boys show.
I've been closely following Britney's career ever since--wondering if there would be a chance for me to step in and carry on her legacy. But Brit, in true over-achiever form, has paved a challenging road for me. If I truly want to take her place and win the love of those young girls (or maybe their little sisters since those girls are driving by now), I have to do the following:
--Have a quickie wedding in Vegas
--Find an unemployed loser with two kids, marry him and quickly get knocked up
--Consume massive amounts of Cheetos
--Develop a love for public restrooms
--Toss out all my shoes
So Brit, as your understudy and heir to your throne, I just want to say, "Congratulations." But I think my lone fan was right. No one could ever take your place.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
In my seventh grade yearbook this girl wrote (and I have it right here so this is a direct quote), "Elsa, you are a very weird person. Keep watching Tribes! It rules! Well, see ya later. Don't draw on your eyebrows (ha)! Love ya."
Well that was the end of my little experiment to try to look like everyone else. I sort of forgot about the issue until college. Twice it was brought to my attention that I was lacking in lower forehead hair:
1. I was out with a girlfriend and we were having a few Adult Beverages. She said, "Hey, I never noticed before...but you don't have any eyebrows." After a few more AB's I didn't really care. Later, we called the UT designated driver hotline (see, parents? I was responsible!) and I yelled into the phone, "Come quick! I don't have any eyebrows!" Their response time was unprecedented. I think they thought I was involved in some sort of terrible fire.
2. My first date with Frank: We ran into some friends of his and Frank later told me that one pulled him aside and said, "Hey, man. She's cute. But she doesn't have any eyebrows." Luckily, this friend's opinion didn't mean too much to Frank. Plus Frank is oblivious as long as the girl has blonde hair.
Do you know what life is like without eyebrows? When girls talk about going to get their eyebrows waxed, I can't relate! And tweezers? Never needed 'em. Wouldn't even know what to do with 'em. Can I make a menacing face? Nah. Can I look really surprised? Not really. And if I get sunburned, people are apt to start singing, "Santa Claus is coming to town."
Last night Frank and I were having our weekly post Laguna Beach recap (I'm not ashamed). He was saying how he thought Taylor was so cute and I said, "There's something weird about her. I can't put my finger on it." And he said, "Really? Because I think she kind of looks like you." Then I realized what it was. The chick was eyebrowless too! And I thought she looked weird! That means I look weird too but I'm so used to it I don't notice.
So today I have a plan. I'm going to Clinique and I'm going to have them show me how to properly draw on my eyebrows. I'll let you know how it goes. If it doesn't work out I'll just go back to being no-eyebrows-girl. And when people ask what happened, I'll tell them there was a terrible fire and I don't wanna talk about it.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
I mean, I knew I wouldn't be good at it. I was 26 at the time and we all know only 3-year-olds can learn to ski. I'm highly uncoordinated and not particularly fond of layering. But Frank sold me on the idea because he said after we skied I could sit in a hot tub and drink hot cocoa. Or wine. Or better yet, a shot of tequila.
I also knew that we were staying with his brother in Durango--about 30 minutes from the slopes. I was fully aware that we weren't staying at some fancy ski resort with a log cabin and a warm fireplace with easy access to a hot tub from the slopes. But for some reason I kept imagining it that way.
Another false daydream I had was that the bunny slope would be much like a North Texas driveway. I thought perhaps I would try that a little while and then move on to a more challenging hill--like a Central Texas driveway.
But when we got there I saw that no bunny could survive this slope. I took a lesson and at first I seemed to be the star pupil. "Maybe I'm a natural skier!" I thought. But after about an hour one of the two teachers, Liam, had to separate me from the class and help me privately. And no, it's not because he was hitting on me. I'm not that hot. I really just sucked. I was that kid.
I tried skiing for at least an hour with private instructor Liam. I couldn't get off the lift--fell every time. I couldn't make it down the hill--crashed into several other bunny slopers. I hated it. I couldn't wait for the day to be over. And where was my tequila?
But then Frank showed up to watch me. I think he had been skiing on a yellow or purple or whatever they call those other hills. I don't understand their complicated color-coding system.
He waited for me at the bottom of the hill and I started skiing towards him. As usual I started to lose control of my skis but for some reason, I stayed upright. And I think I was turning too. There might have even been some "swoosh, swoosh" noises. I was getting closer and closer to Frank and I yelled for him to get out of the way--Liam and I hadn't gone over stopping yet! But then I was at the bottom of the hill and I just stopped. "Wow!" Frank said, "You learned a lot in one lesson!" I was so thrilled--I had skied down quite a challenging hill all by myself! Then Frank said, "Now we can ride the lift and ski down the hill together."
What? Didn't he see? I had already skied. Done. Check it off the list of "things to do before I die" or at least before I turn 30.
So I didn't ski again. And I don't plan to. You can call me a quitter. You can call me a loser. But I say I'm just someone who quits while I'm ahead. I go out on out a high note. And then I get into the hot tub. But not with Liam.
I don't care if I'm miserable. I still gotta try to look cute.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Customers at your stores are too lazy to bring their carts back inside. That means there are grocery carts scattered all over the parking lot. This is even happening at the upscale, more expensive Signature stores! Kroger employees are spending time gathering the carts rather than bagging groceries or swatting flies out of the organic section. You're losing productivity! What do you do?
You probably would have said, "Hey, where's that damn Jason's Deli tray we ordered for this meeting?"
And then you would have said, "I've got it. What if we replace a few of our parking spots with "cart corrals" so that customers don't have to go all the way back into the store? They can just walk a few steps and leave their carts in these designated areas! Surely they're not too lazy to do that!"
Yes, Ms. Kroger Executive, your customers are indeed too lazy. And it's not just at Kroger. It's at Tom Thumb (Randall's for you Austin/Houston readers), Albertson's, H.E.B., Piggly Wiggly (hey, it's a national blog) and Wal-Mart. Poor Wal-Mart. They may just have the laziest shoppers of all.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?? What goes through your head when you unpack your groceries and then just casually push your cart to the side? Do you know the grief you're causing? First of all, it will likely scratch a fellow customer's car (because of course you pushed it just far enough away from your own car). Also, it just makes the parking lot look ghetto. And do you want your grocery store to look ghetto? Then there's the lost productivity we discussed earlier. And to give you a reason that may actually resonate with you: If the grocery store has to hire more people to shepherd the carts, they have to increase their prices.
How do ya like them pricey apples?
So save our grocery store prices! Save our cars! Save our parking lots! Save our humanity! Walk a few extra steps and place your cart nicely in the designated cart corral. Sometimes, when I'm feeling especially saintly, I walk my cart all the way back to the store. Right back up to the elderly greeter. He gets a little confused but that's okay.
And if you don't care about any of my compelling reasons, at least you'll get a little exercise.
Now I'm sure most of my blog readers are good, cart corralling people. But if you're not, I beg you not to confess this in my comments section. I'll have to assume that if you're blasé with your buggies, you're also that person who leaves their trash in the movie theater. And then all the Jason's Deli trays in the world couldn't save our friendship.
Friday, September 09, 2005
Call girl: Welcome to Medco. I am an automated assistant here to take your call. Please tell me the reason for your call today.
Elsa: What? Just tell you the reason? How am I supposed to say "You sent me back a note saying I can't get reimbursed for my claim because I didn't have the pharmacist sign my claim form but I really did?" Isn't there a list of options? Preferably one that will get me away from you?
CG: I'm sorry. I don't understand. Could you repeat that?
CG: Okay, would you like us to mail you a claim form?
CG: Would you like us to mail you a brochure of our services?
Elsa: What? NO! (to self: Does anybody EVER want that?)
CG: Would you like us to mail you a list of our pharmacy partners?
Elsa (screaming): NO! N.O.!! Can I just talk to someone please??
CG: Okay, let me just verify your address.
Elsa: NO!! DON'T YOU DARE MAIL ME ANYTHING, CALL GIRL! I JUST WANT MY $20 YOU OWE ME! LET ME TALK TO A HUMAN!! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOOOOOOUUUUUUU!
CG (still irritatingly cheery): I don't understand.
Click. (There would be banging here but you can't slam down cell phones. Sucks, doesn't it?)
Call Girl: This is American Airlines flight information system. To get you up to date on departure and arrival info, I'm going to ask you a few questions. By the way, if you've already used this system, you can say the answer before I finish the question. I don't mind interruptions.
Elsa (to self): I love the FliFo girl. Her voice is so soothing and conversational. Plus, she doesn't mind if I interrupt her!
Call Girl: First, what's the flight #? It's okay to say "I don't know."
Elsa (to self): How awesome. It's okay if I'm totally unprepared and stupid--which I am! (to FliFo girl): I don't know.
Call Girl: Okay, let's find out which flight you want. What's the departure city?
Elsa (to self): She's so sweet. Like a second grade teacher. It's like she's holding my hand through this whole traumatic experience. (to FF girl): Dallas.
Call Girl: Now is that for departure or arrival info?
Elsa: I just love your closed-ended questions, FliFo girl! It's so much better than that Maniac Medco girl who's just like, "So whaddya want?"
Call Girl: I'm sorry. I don't think I understand. Could you repeat that please?
Elsa: That's okay. I didn't really need flight information. I just think you're cool and wanted someone to chat with. Hey, do you like margaritas? With salt or without? If we go to happy hour and you start chatting about flights and I get bored, can I just interrupt you? I love it. You and me are gonna be the best of friends.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Preparation is key. And I should know. My holiday letters are legendary. Well, I've only written two but I think I've got a little cult following. Why just last week Will Fagan told me that he really looks forward to getting my letter every year. Poor guy. I might need to send his a little early to lift his spirits.
So what's so great about my letter and so lame about everyone else's? It's very simple. Mine is written in the first person and it's clearly from me. Many letters aren't sure who their author is. I'll show you some examples:
Dear Friends and Family-
This year Sheila and Mark traveled to Iceland to visit some distant family members. We loved learning their quirky Icelandic traditions. Mark is still working on turning our garage into a boxing ring (will he ever finish?!! Just kidding, honey) and I'm continuing to scrapbook. Mark and Sheila also dance in a German folk group on the weekends.
Who's writing this letter? Pick a voice and stick with it. Although first person is preferable. I think it's quite spooky when it's all in third person:
Dear Loved Ones-
A soft sheet of snow lays patiently on Debra and Donnie's house. Donnie shovels it every morning so he can get to his new job as District Manager over all the Marble Slab Creameries in Southwest Ohio. Debra is also enjoying Donnie's promotion as it means she can focus on her dream of being a Pampered Chef consultant and stay at home with daughter Kailee Grace.
Is there some omnipotent perv peeping in on their activities all year long? It's okay if the letter is from one of you. In fact, it's better. Oh, and that was also an example of too much nature in a holiday letter. We don't care about your snow, your leaves that change color or how the air smells. I mean, the paper's not scratch-and-sniff, is it?
Now I don't personally own a dog or a cat so I've never understood the temptation to have a non-human pen my holiday letter. But some people go for that. That's cool but just remember: you're not the first person to think of this idea and you should try to be clear from the beginning that it's from Miss Mittens. Or Bailey. Or the Rileys. Some people like to put paw prints all over the letter. Got any better ideas?
But back to the basics: If you can stick with the first person throughout your letter, you're halfway there. Now all you need is a good-looking photo and some exciting things to talk about. You're on your own with that.
Ah, Christmas is in the air. Can't you just smell it?
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Okay, but back to the issue. California lawmakers have approved a bill allowing same-sex marriages. Now they're just waiting to see what the Terminator will do. That made me think of a theory of mine that I've shared with many people and it's sweeping the nation. Well, it's just sweeping the few people I've told about it but now that it's practically in print, it will surely sweep my blog audience.
I call it the "11 point system." It's a device, really, to help you determine if a guy you're dating (or your friend is dating) is gay--not that there's anything wrong with that. Only time I'll say it. Promise. Here's how it started:
A friend of mine in college was dating a guy who was clearly gay. Except it wasn't clear to her or even to him. So a few of us sat down with her and made our case:
He loves to sing.
He only has female friends.
He loves to shop.
He's obsessed with his hair.
He's got more clothes than you.
He takes longer to get ready than you.
He thinks driving around and looking at houses is fun.
He gets jealous of his female friends because they're so pretty. They make him feel ugly.
His voice sounds feminine.
He's very interested in moving to San Francisco.
He'd rather help you with your make-up than make-out.
We were keeping count and when we got to #11 I said, "Now, come on. Do we need to go on? That's ELEVEN points. I say, once you have eleven, that's a pretty fair assumption."
So if you were just reading through the list I'm sure you were thinking, "But my boyfriend loves to sing! My boyfriend has always liked San Francisco! Is he gay?" No. That's only two points. See, most guys (and even girls) have a few points. Take Frank, for instance: He's not into a lot of boyish activities like sports, hunting or fixing cars. And my friend Scott Womack. He has a lot of female friends. And so what if he chooses a swirl margarita over a beer? He doesn't have nine more points so he's still in the straight-zone. And hey, I actually BOUGHT the Brooke Burke calendar to hang on my wall. Totally have a girl crush on her. But I don't have eleven girl crushes. Well, maybe I do but that's still one point, don't you think?
When I explain the system I also get a lot of, "So what ARE the eleven points?" No, no. There isn't a pre-determined list. This isn't a bitch hunt. There are probably hundreds of qualities out there. You just have to determine if you or the potentially gay person have eleven. That's the magic number.
And my results are full-proof. My friend's college boyfriend who inspired the system has since come out. Good for him. He's now able to get $300 hair cuts without having to worry about what some girlfriend (or her sorority sisters) will say. I hear his hair is fabulous by the way.
So if you've read this and determined that you or your loved one may have eleven points, that's cool. You may soon have a lot more options: the Disney wedding, the Napa wedding or even the Alcatraz wedding.
Oh, and just like a good politician I somehow distracted you and avoided saying what I think about gay marriage. Well, let me see. We heteros don't seem to be getting it right with our divorce rate at 50%. So why not give someone else a shot at it? I'll just leave it up to the Terminator (who has at least eight points himself). If it's okay with you, Arnie, it's okay with me.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Sure, they're both Monday holidays. They're both observed during hot months. They both call for burgers, beer and extra police enforcement on the highways. But do you know why I'm able to keep them straight? Because I've been through this 29 times! To be fair, Frank was born after Memorial Day '77 so he's only seen 28 of those.
Here's a little trick to help you keep it straight: Memorial = May (see that nice alliteration of the M's?) Labor = September (it practically rhymes).
But why should you even try to distinguish between the two besides the fact that it annoys me? Because we celebrate them for very different reasons: Memorial Day is to honor lost veterans and Labor Day is to honor workers.
Here's the scoop:
Memorial Day used to be called "Decoration Day" (but don't start thinking it falls in December). Some women in the South went around decorating graves before the end of the Civil War. Anyway, we observe the day now as a tribute to those who died in war--any war. But the Memorial Day PR team (if that exists), needs to do a better job of getting the word out. Some people think it's to honor all dead people (and we all know that's Groundhog Day). But my family in North Carolina is perhaps the most confused. We use Memorial Day as an excuse for a pig pickin'. We eat some pig, some deviled eggs, all kinds of desserts and get snockered. At least we put up an American flag (if we're not too snockered).
The Labor unions started the whole concept of Labor Day. Why the first Monday in September? Because it was halfway between Independence Day (you know when that is, right?) and Thanksgiving. It was President Grover Cleveland who signed a law designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day nationwide. Funny because Cleveland wasn't a fan of labor unions. But you know those politicians.
Just because only 14% of workers are part of labor unions today doesn't mean people don't labor just as hard. You're just stuck in cubes instead of coal mines, that's all. Still a good reason to have too many Natty Lights.
Let's clear up one more thing about Labor Day. On your calendar it will say "Labor Day" in May also. But next to it in parenthesis it says "UK." Ah! I actually knew someone (who may or may not be a blog reader) who planned a vacation because she thought we had the day off from work. I know, we can't help everybody.
Hopefully I've helped you to understand the two holidays and to look smart at parties. Oh, and the one we had yesterday also means you shouldn't be wearing those white pants today. Better go change.
Now, could someone please explain Daylight Savings Time to me?
Friday, September 02, 2005
Did you also know that he's brilliant? Yep, he scored a perfect 800 on his Math SATs. And that was before all this scoring inflation:
"I can't even spell SAT but I got a 1400!"
"Yeah, we get 1300 points for using a #2 pencil."
Huey went to Cornell and majored in Engineering. But in typical rock star fashion he dropped out and that's when he met the news. And that, my friends, is when Huey Lewis and the News began to rock.
In 1984 Huey Lewis and the News (or HLN as fans call them) were like the Monkees in the '60's, like the Backstreet Boys of the 90's. And I should know. I was there. Some of you younger blog readers (sis-in-law Julie and special needs friend Liz) were barely alive when we would turn our radio dials to a station playing "the Heart of Rock and Roll" and then turn it again and hear them playing "If this is it." Okay, I was only seven but I remember it very clearly. I even remember the video for "If this is it" with the lady in the white one piece. Or was that "Happy to be Stuck with you?" Maybe it's not so clear.
But what is clear is that HLN kept going in 1985 with the "Power of Love." This little diddy was featured in Back to the Future and got HLN an Oscar nomination, thank you very much. And they didn't stop in 1986, belting out everybody's favorite "Hip to be Square." And then in 1987...okay, they did kinda fade out by then but we've kept them alive in a couple of ways:
--Frank and his friend Dave have these matching lime green koozies that we always take when we go tubing. They say "Budweiser Huey Lewis and the News Hard at Play." What? That album is from 1991. I thought it was a collectable from 1984! There goes my meal ticket.
--Huey paired up with Gwyneth Paltrow in 2000 for the movie "Duets." Movie was kinda lame but I love the song "Cruisin'" that Gwen and Huey sing. I mean it doesn't rock obviously because it's slow and it's News-less but still...
HLN may be a bunch of old guys who would probably be willing to play at your wedding or bah mitzvah but all I know is when I hear "Heart of Rock and Roll," I totally turn it up and dance in my car. I think HLN really sums it up best: Now the old boy may be barely breathing,
but the heart of rock and roll, the heart of rock and roll is still beating.
Let Huey Lewis and the News rock your next event (or maybe he could just help your kid with the SATs)
Thursday, September 01, 2005
So please take a look at the picture below. No, it's not a picture of me trying to use my professional dancing skills to help out at a camp for special needs children. This is just me (an amateur dancer, believe it or not) and my friend, Liz (who has no special needs--well, none that could get her into camp).
When Liz and I worked together we interviewed a girl for a position at our ad agency. The girl diligently sent an email thank-you note to us the following day. Not only did she send the exact same note to both of us and our HR person (duh, like we're not going to show them to each other), she wrote a description of her work ethic that is now legendary:
In my previous experience I've had to juggle many balls while hopping on one foot. And I've learned to sweat with a smile while juggling those balls.
Little did she know that she launched the dance of the year. And it's not an easy thing to do. You have to hop on one foot (and spin around for good measure), juggle balls in the air, wipe the sweat off your body and on top of all that--SMILE! Go ahead, try it at home or in your place of business. And once you get it down, you'll want to do it at all the clubs too. This thing is gonna be bigger than the Macarana!
We're calling it "The Working Girl." I can't promise that it will get you the job you want or even a promotion. But if you do it in public, it will get you noticed...and possibly a free ticket to camp.
Don't forget to sweat under your armpits too!