Thursday, December 22, 2011

RE: (Holiday Humor) Oh, Christmas Tree of Controversy

Oh, Christmas Tree of Controversy
Trees. Oh, converter of carbon dioxide, emitter of oxygen; rife with all manner of positive symbolism such as growth, life, and knowledge. They are genuinely nature's good guy.
Until Christmastime, that is, when regular ol' evergreens transform into seasonal symbols eliciting spirited debates. That's when the Douglas fir really starts to fly and away we go in a manger.
Like so many insidious instruments of divisiveness it goes by many ambiguous names. However, no matter which way you cut it down — whether you call it a Yule tree, a Christmas tree, or a Holiday tree — it is, most assuredly, a Tree of Controversy.
I don't know if my personal “Wonder Years” represented a simpler time, or if it's merely that I was simpler, but when I was growing up a Christmas tree was just a Christmas tree. The majority of the people I knew who had a pine of some sort seemed to have the identical version — slightly spindly and decorated with tinsel — but some of the “rich folks” had flocked trees.
The truly daring (usually estrogen-heavy households) opted for a pink, flocked tree. Certainly where there was not a tree, there might have been a Menorah or some other cultural talisman for the season. In fact, there wasn't much ado being made about the having of a Christmas tree or the not having.
Nevertheless, the times, they are a changing. This means the wind they're blowing in may not be pine-scented in the future since one man's decorative highlight is another man's perceived nose thumbing.
To summarize the political hullabaloo: It seems several people are ticked off that other citizens are making them gaze upon a Christmas tree when it's so not their thing.
While separation of church and state may be at the crux of the public controversy, I would venture to say there's a fair amount of separation of husband and wife in the private sector as well, due to this non-deciduous symbol of incitement.
The disagreements may not be exactly alike, but there is a shared premise: Two parties do not view the same thing the same way and no one is coming out of this thing unscathed. This argument pits them against one another and they need to hash it out and come to a mutually acceptable decision.
To summarize the domestic hullabaloo: It seems several family members get ticked off when they are forced to stare at a type of Christmas tree that is so not their thing.
Let me elaborate based upon my own experience. The real lightning rod of controversy centers on scoring the perfect evergreen. During this process our family uses technical terms like “bushy” and “branchy” when communicating our desires and expectations which apply to our prospective tree.
(We are quite devoted to the little known art of adding “y” to most any word in order to tone down the overwhelming connotative load of the aforementioned word in its original form-y.)
Which type of tree we adopt — the aforementioned bushy or branchy one — is dependent upon who won the rock-paper-scissors contest for that year. The branchy one is more like the tree
of our youth and it makes my husband very happy when we stare gape-mouthed at that vision of wonder.
Historically, I have been a fan of the branchy. In any case one thing is for certain. We will acquire a tree that is much too tall for our non-cathedral ceilings.In point of fact, it will barely fit through the door and will not be able to assume the vertical position until Edward
Scissorhands gets to it. Now, my husband is a musician and, as such, you would think a man who relies upon his hands to create dulcet, sweet, thrashing rock ‘n' roll chords would be careful. Nope, nope, nope.
You would be wrong because he is darned confident in his slashing abilities, perhaps due to his admirable musical chops.It's like the Texas Chainsaw Massacre guy has taken on a part-time job as a tree trimmer, there are so many plant parts flying.
I am always petrified I will have to fashion a tourniquet out of evergreen boughs as
I wait and watch to see if Rudolph will be emerging in topiary form.
When we're all done, there's more tree on the floor than in the stand, but it is now
lofty, poised, and looks as though it was meant for that corner.
It's a lot like childbirth in that way; you remember only the joy, not the pain … until the next

Sunday, December 11, 2011

An Essay of Hope...Winter Wonderland...reflections on an inauguration

Winter Wonderland

As we hear the pounding hooves that constitute the 2012 election year, I offer up my non-winning essay I wrote when the soon-to-be-newly minted Obama Administration launched a contest that would net the winner a sweet front row seat at the inauguration.

Recently I came across my unpublished piece and I was struck by the fact that I still believe every word, albeit one must substitute telling references from the past such as "January 22, 2009" and "inauguration" with other timely, perhaps more general mentions, such as "in the future" and "the presidency."I realize "hope" has become part of a hackneyed phrase. Truly that fact does not negate the importance of preserving hope, regardless of whether you’re an active player in the board game called Politics or simply actively affected by it.

It is my belief that we may land on any square -- Libertarian, Democratic, Republican, or Undeclared – let us NOT land on the apathy square.

As a teacher I’m fond of the review process, so maybe by revisiting the optimistic frame of mind we may have held from 2009, we will reignite our will and surge forward together toward common goals that we all share. We can pick new game pieces, if you will.
A girl can dream.

What does the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama mean to me? It means that winter is a season of hope, rather than a metaphor representing our country’s disillusionment. It means we are experiencing a shared awakening, after a long and dispirited hibernation. It means that we possess the combined ability to change and this ceremony signifies a celebration of that fact.

Ticking off the ten inaugurations that have taken place during my lifetime, I note this is the first year in my adult life that I am sitting front row center, in a socio-political revolution that envelopes me in tropes of inspiration. While I am certainly signed on for change as a mantra, accepting it as a way of life long ago, the induction celebrating Barack Obama’s presidency intensifies our country’s cultivation and commitment to this thing we call “change,” this thing that is the real constant in our lives. Attaching a richly traditional rite like the inauguration to our nation’s progression is a transformative moment not to be missed. With this historic inauguration, we exemplify the duality of our individual histories and that of our country’s history as we show change to be as constant as care and we connect to one another for the first time in almost a decade.

Barack Obama’s inauguration is a metaphor for our collective ability to change. I would be remiss if I did not mention the momentous element that resides in the inauguration of a racially mixed president, not just because it is inspiring to show the world that, though a stubborn nation, we are able to evolve and grow, but because Barack Obama represents the global citizen that we all need to be. We know this administration is not a panacea for all of our ills, but how refreshing that it offers a solution, a healing, a balm for what ails us and, make no mistake, we have been ailing.

The fabulous news is that what we need for change is already in us, confirming our innate ability, not just to court change, not just to embrace change, but to acknowledge its absolute necessity in any governing body and its populace. We have, of course, inaugurated many worthy presidents, some worthier than others when applying a variety of governing litmus tests, but this inauguration, this one resonates loudly, deeply, cleanly, genuinely and differently in our soul because the timing is so right and we are spiritually famished. Swearing in our forty-fourth president, we embrace all of the leadership legacies of the past, simultaneously honoring all of the promise and trust sitting on our hopeful horizon and we are made new again, daring to care.

Truth be told, as a nation, we never quit caring. I see it in angry youth, I see it in those who inspire critical thinking and I even see it in the disenfranchised. “Give us a reason to care” is what resonates with us all and while we have always had the ability to care, of late it has not seemed quite safe to invest overly much in that emotion. And that is the trick: to never give up caring; to avoid apathy; to preserve our right to feel significant.

Human nature is a funny thing; when it seems time will prove us unworthy of even our own survival, our better nature prevails and we show that we care plenty. If we would just look up and in, regularly, seeking to bring out the best in one another, we would gain so much more from our enlightened thinking. Room would be made to ponder our future, reflect upon our past and savor our hopes, dreams and aspirations, making the lightness of conciliation a part of our everyday world, much as will be symbolized at that lectern on January 22nd. In this way we can engender the co-existence of even technology and humanity, not making them mutually exclusive. Nature has already done this. I see it in action every time I witness airplane tracers beautifully paint a sky picture, enhancing nature’s sunrise in hopeful shades of beginning, resulting in artful expression. Care is a somewhat intangible term, though positively connotative, but perched on the precipice of honoring a new leader to whom we have entrusted the care of all we hold to be true, there is so much value to the process.

This particular investiture represents our country taking constructive action, avoiding a birdwalk into indifference. The fact that so many cared enough to weigh in, to vote; youthful activists, overachieving babyboomers, pontificating pundits, marginalized citizens, all spanning a rainbow of ethnicities, backgrounds and beliefs. Our overwhelmingly common belief is that we should care enough to keep trying to “do the right thing,”whatever that means, specifically, to any of us. As the citizenry, it is our responsibility to parry the untrue, to not get lost in the rhetoric, reject negativity, refute untruths, disavow posturing and think for ourselves with great heart and intention. Freedom has a place in all of this; free thinking, free will, free choice. The exertion of all of these rights leads to the preservation of them and that is the real litmus test of how we are doing.

Gazing out over my personal landscape of just under half a century, I can assess how I am doing in my personal evolution by looking at how the general populace is doing at the intersection of this year’s inauguration because we are all connected. My greatest individual accomplishment is that I have never stopped caring and I know I am not alone in this exigent endeavor. Americans believe in doing the right thing and while we can acknowledge the oppositional aspects of our history that has us doing both the right and wrong things over and over again, it is with humble acknowledgment of our past follies that we may proceed in a more forward-thinking manner. We cannot boast perfection, but we can boast aspirations of leaving things better than we found them – always.

On January 22, 2009 I envision myself attending the inauguration, standing humble and proud in my spiffy, newish black and white houndstooth-patterned coat, wearing the purple mittens my daughters gifted me with this Christmas and dabbing my eyes with a sodden tissue, as I pay tribute to the man who will lead us because we never gave up. We cared enough to pay attention and invest in our seamed futures and while I certainly respect Barack Obama and all he will facilitate, bringing out the best in us, it is the sagacious Dr. Suess who spoke the message best in the story, The Lorax: “UNLESS someone like you; cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Things will be better.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

RE: (Humor) Hurry Up and Join the Party! Zoom-zoom-zumba!

Hurry up and Join the Party!

I’m a devotee of fast; fast walking, fast talking, and fast doing. I come by all of this honestly as I hail from a long line of extremely active folks for whom, “Hurry up!” was a type of mantra that prefaced, well, everything.

“Hurry up or you’re going to be late for school.”
“Hurry up or I’m going to be late for work.”
“Hurry up so we can enjoy all of those precious childhood moments and then firmly launch you into adulthood where you belong.”

My fast life style includes fast dancing, exemplifying my “let the good times roll” philosophy where I passionately pursue one hot tamale of a calorie-burning package: Zumba!

This Latin dance-inspired program even has a motto, “Ditch the Workout, Join the Party.” Any pursuit subscribing to such an energizing and positive agenda is my kind of activity and truth be told, any time I’m dancing it’s more fun-in, than work-out.

Plus, I love, love, love parties. Now I know folks like to spin that into: “I love, love, love alcohol-swilling, “where did my clothes go?” partyin’, but that’s not my interpretation though I admit it might make for a more interesting column.

There’s another reason that I am devoted to finding and attending every Zumba class and specially scheduled Zumba party taking place in my tri-county area of coverage.

I love all things Latin; as in Latin American Latin, not Roman Latin. When I’m influenced by the “scholarly” Latins I’m likely to overthink myself into a fluffy, intellectual state of caloric overindulgence. With the spicy Latin American Latins I’m in motion, thus avoiding the ice cream headache too much reflection can cause along with adding “more of me to love.”

Though I’ve glided along on the arm of my fair share of ballroom buddies and two-step twirlers, it is the “shake it until the sweat flies” Latin American moves of Salsa, Merengue, Mambo, and Cha Cha that have always converted me from onlooker toe tapping status to full-out dance floor performance mode.

After formally studying Spanish from tiny twinkie-dom through the full-grown college years, I am left with the dubious distinction of being able to roll a mean “r.”

Granted, remaining fluent in the language is a much more employable attribute; however, this talent comes in mighty handy when cha-cha-chaing with my fellow zumberizers.

Now we’ve got the fast dancing, the rolling of the r’s and, as if all of that doesn’t constitute a good enough Zumba fit, I am able to bust out a bevy of sounds I’m not usually able to work into my normal day-to-day activities.

(This is primarily due to various auditory county ordinances, code restrictions and with greater frequency, requests from others to stop emitting blood-curdling, banshee-like sounds. I also boast one memorable blast in my repertoire that is eerily reminiscent of Mel Gibson’s battle cry in Braveheart.)

Let me add that the vocalization Zumba inspires in me is more satisfying than that double shot of whipped cream on my pumpkin pie which, coincidentally, is one of the things that motated me on over to class on Thanksgiving Day.

There I was with 32 fabulous, inspirational, and gorgeous women burning more calories than I had consumed thus far. To be fair it was still only 10:00 a.m. in the morning, so I hadn’t been able to really apply myself fully to the task at hand.

During this class – and in all of my Zumba classes – I execute moves normally reserved for dark, smoky barrooms and open bar-fueled wedding receptions. I shimmy shamelessly as I channel Che Guevara in my rallying cry to fellow dancers yelling, “Ye, ye, ye! Viva la revolución” or something like that.

As a sidebar, there are other shouts, chants, war cries, and general auditory outbursts that work well in fitness classes:

Good for Zumba:
-- ¡Vamános!

Good for martial artsy classes:
--Hi ya!
--Kiai! (pronounced key-eye)

Good for line dancing:
--Yee haw!

[Warning: Do not confuse any of the above calls with similar refrains, such as Soo-wee, Mayday, or God Save the Queen. These have no application whatsoever to the world of fitness; nevertheless, as you begin to achieve a state known as “muy caliente” you may find yourself nonsensically blurting them out.]

For all of these reasons I say, “Hurry up and Join the Party!” Just follow the auditory trail of those continuously trilling r’s over to zoom-zoom-zumba –– before the holiday scale zooms out of your comfort zone.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Re: Life is a fun-filled luge ride...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Even though I'm in the "bosom of my family" as it were, I felt it was important to blog on with happiness, which often beats my usual blather.

I began the day with a phenomenal one and a half hour zumba class where folks brought in five cans of food and danced away for free.

The feel-good vibe was amazing, not to mention the caloric burn factor. Unfortunately, I've been handling my calorie burning similar to my cash burning -- I'm consuming the cash and calories before and having to play catch up afterwards.

But you know what? I'm having a doggoned blast!

Having just finished up birthday festivities that I managed to draft off of for two weeks I'm still in reflection mode. (Though I'm also in the party-hardy, the healthy way, mode as well.)

I'm surrounded by smart, funny, active, sassy people who do, do, do in a grand way. The petty, the inconsequential, the stagnant is a thing of the past.

Serendipity is not just a word, but a way of life. I'm just letting it all be without my helpful prodding. The universe actually seems to function quite well without my helpful hints and I find if I just allow the music of the Beatles to remind me, I'm able to synthesize usable philosophies that actually work.

Like "Let it Be."

And that's what I'm doing today...I'm just bein'. Cha-cha-cha.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

RE: (Humor) Thanksgiving is near which is also a fabulous place to keep our gratitude...

Gratitude Where Gratitude is the Near-sighted

I have now attained the age where my time is better spent plucking multiple bodily quadrants, developing my personality and making gratitude lists, than it is perfecting my “image” with the attendant hair styling, make-up applying, and accessorizing with purse dogs that would be needed.

Yes, as we slide into the retail double play that is Thanksgiving and Christmas — THANKS-GIVE-US — I feel it is only appropriate to initiate one of our family's child rearing requirements – the gratitude list.

(In fact, I still have a list my daughter drafted when she was about 6 years old and fretting over her young lot in life that was being born into a family devoid of heiresses. Her beatific listing of things to appreciate was so heart-meltingly sweet. She was “great full” to have a cat, sheets, a mommy, a daddy, and a sissy. I think she still feels the same way all these years later.)

Maybe it's because my red-letter day (actually, I prefer purple) often coincides with the Thanksgiving holiday that I'm more inclined toward throwing a festive, life-affirming birthday party than I am a depressing, poor-me-I'm-aging pity party. The former provides me with an undeniably rich opportunity to look at my Big Gulp serving-sized life glass that is full right up to the straw.

What am I grateful for? I am grateful to the near-sighted for it is you who have genuinely made my aging so much easier.My own near-sightedness is a fact that has forced me to compensate for the unrelenting march of time by implementing the Larger-than-life Letter Labeling System (LLLS) of which my favorite tool, the Sharpie, is an integral part.

Without the utilization of such a system, I am left to my own devices and the results are never pretty, occasionally hazardous. For instance, when showering it is essential that I correctly identify which of my many bottles of delightfully smelling girlie stuff I require for use on my hair. When I haven't taken the time to alter the ant-dropping-sized font to a larger proportion, my day gets out of whack immediately.

We are all familiar with launching the requisite shampoo sequence of lather, rinse, repeat. In the absence of my method I'm likely to implement a flawed system whereby I lather, condition, lather, lather, rinse, lather.

My gratitude to the near-sighted folks who have crossed my path extends to those who may be classified as such both by virtue of physical and emotional myopia.

After all, it's really all about how the people you adore, value, and respect view you. You allow them entrée into your personal bubble, they get “magnified one thousand times” close and, lo and behold; they like what they see. There is no better gift than this kind of unconditional love.

I don't have enough space for an all-inconclusive list, but 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 25 hours a day, I am grateful for:

— My husband who tells me I'm beautiful and that my appearance hasn't changed even a little bit over the years, (although one time I did catch him lusting over a photograph of the 24-year-old me standing next to my beloved Camaro).

— My mom who still views me as her baby.

— My Bob who looks at me like his new baby.

— My sassy daughters who tell me I'm a pretty mama and that I dress hip, but appropriately (although sometimes a little too matchy-matchy according to the youngest).

— My treasured friend since junior high school, Mady, who assures me we both haven't aged one iota and darned if she didn't produce a Facebook-worthy profile picture that almost proved her point.

— My photogenic, photographer confidante, Sharon, who always uses the word “gorgeous” when she talks to me.

— My beauteous friend, Sue, who promises me I'm still “hot” at this point in my life (flashing hot, baby!).

— My all-around, forever gal pals, Sandy, Julie, and Tami who tell me every time I see them that I look “Great!” and that my hair looks wonderful, even when I had that '80s, hairbrush-breaking perm and pregnancies that turned me into a female Humpty-Dumpty.

— My adopted “big sis” Bev for looking at my college dance pictures and saying, “You know, you really haven't changed at all.”

— That older gentleman I hope I see again really soon who said I look like a young Natalie Wood.

— All those folks out there who exclaim, “You don't look old enough to have a teenaged daughter,” when the aforementioned teenaged daughter is actually my youngest child.

— The multitudes of young people working at my favorite caffeinated beverage purveyors, grocery stores, and retail outlets who don't say “you remind me of my mom/grandmother/older maiden shut-in great aunt” AND stop themselves every time they start to call me “Ma'am” and refer to me as “Miss” instead.

That's my kind of “Miss” – as in miss the mark on my biological age.

I am grateful for not-corrected-to-20/20 vision!

Biography. Diane Dean-Epps is an author, teacher and comedienne. She can be reached at or for more writings, clips see:

Sunday, November 13, 2011

RE: (Humor) Carol Wright is All Right By Me...'tis the season for crazy catalogs...

Carol Wright is All Right By Me

Start your retail engines and warm up those credit cards. 'Tis catalog season!

On more than one occasion I've written about the odd array of catalogs seeming to find their way into my cobweb-encrusted mailbox, my recent acquisition being Carol Wright Gifts.

I must tell you, this offering is quite a boon for a humorist in addition to the discerning consumer who long ago might otherwise have given up on finding “must have” items, such as bottle tops that turn drink cans into drink bottles. (Everyone knows a can is gauche. Now a bottle? You can really pour on the class with this receptacle.)

What caught my eye instantly was the “the world's first bake, slice, and serve brownie maker.” Come to Mama! Where have you been all my life? If only my metabolism would allow for it, I would purchase this necessity pronto, enabling me to fulfill my lifelong dream of baking and consuming the perfect brownie. (You so get me. I don't care so much about the baking. I'm all about the consuming.)

Then there's a particular favorite product of mine — Liftight life serum — if only just for the “before” and “after” pictures provided rather than the outcome. However, speaking of results; the handsome gray-haired model illustrating the aftereffects looks surprised such a procedure would work, let alone that anyone would buy it in order to “look years younger in just 90 seconds.”

If you're math-oriented, and I know you're out there, a 60-year-old who wants to look, say, 30, would need 450 seconds for each set of five rolled-back years, so the total seconds tallied for the full 30-year regression lands somewhere around 2,700. What is, no doubt, the outrageous price for such a miracle product you ask? Only 14 bills. It's a steal at double that price!

There is one issue with this time machine in a bottle, though, and it resides in the fact there is a warning about the elixir lasting a maximum of 10 hours. Consequently, you must be ready for a future whereby your life will play out as the NeverEnding Cinderella story only you'll turn into a wrinkly pumpkin.

Next we have the perfect-posture back support, which is to posture what the chastity belt is to virginity. If you can slip into this rather daunting apparatus, you will likely achieve the desired result.

I will admit to giving more than a cursory glance to the sonic molechaser, but in my defense that was on a day when I was acutely irritated at our front yard wildlife known as Odocoileus virginianus. (The white-tailed deer.)

As a result of the voracious appetite of deer for deer-resistant foliage, I was forced into a first, second, and third planting of my vegetation, so I was a wee bit miffed.However, once I viewed the illustration featuring — I kid you not — a cartoon mole running away from a pencil-sized stake with its little mole paws up in a stick-'em-up-and-give-me-your-money gesture mouthing, “Eek!” I lost my thirst for the ruination of deer hearing.

I just consider anything we manage to grow my contribution to the propagation of a healthy food chain and utter a sacrificial, “Damn!”

Carol Wright is similar to other bygone catalogs that were ever-present in my grandparents' household, a relic of the popular pastime that was shopping by mail.

In business since 1952 and founded by a housewife out of her Mount Vernon, New York, apartment, Lillian Vernon is one of these. I remember my grandfather spending hours looking through catalogs, ordering items he didn't really need simply because it tickled him to get stuff in the mail.

He's been gone for over two decades now, but I am reminded of love not loss whenever I look at the Geisha doll he ordered for my grandmother so long ago.

I don't order from the catalogs I receive very often, which may explain why the delivery of them is so sporadic. I guess that's why I also don't need to order the featured pamphlet, How to Solve the Little Mysteries of Your Life.

One mystery down; just another couple hundred to go.

Friday, October 28, 2011

RE: (Humor) Care to take a poll? Pole fitness that is...THE NORTH AND SOUTH POLE

The North and South Pole

I’ll try just about anything (legal) once which is what propelled me into giving pole fitness a whirl. Literally.

The week leading up to the event I gleefully told anyone I came eyeball-to-eyeball with about my impending class. I loved seeing the look on their faces; something akin to horror and curiosity – horriosity maybe.

Eventually it dawned on me I needed to quit fooling around and prepare for the class mentally and physically.

Thus, I commenced with carrying out the equivalent of balloon flight offloading of unnecessary items and applied it to unnecessary calories.

I didn’t just purchase fruits and vegetables, so they could sit prettily in hand-painted bowls, but I actually ate them. All of them. All of the time. Because I was starving.

Then I turned my attention toward mental preparation. I needed to become at one with my not-as-yet-grasped pole. Be the pole.

I envisioned a mini training pole that I would twirl like a middle-aged Ninja, in readiness for the full Monty, so to speak. Then “wa-cha,” (a well-known Ninja sound effect), it would unfurl into full-scale and I would install it as easily as a shower curtain rod, albeit in a different direction.

My pole fitness instructor would be my Miyagi and it would feel as though I had been waiting my entire life for this moment. Okay, then I snapped to, hitting the humbling reality that was my pole. Literally.

As it turns out pole dancing is more pole than dancing.

Though Cirque de Soleil has never come knocking on my door, I have been dancing my whole life, even matriculating toward a dance minor and performing in a dance company. I was amazed at how well all of that did NOT prepare me for this particular foray.

I had fun stretching to the upbeat pop tunes and, initially, I was all sensuality and smiles as I shimmied closer to my pole. I’m on my way, oh, sexy, silent sentry.

As long as I was swinging along as though I was clutching a benign maypole I was in decent shape. Literally.

Arches, hip rolls, galloping horsie kicks. All good. Until we initiated our choreographed routine.

As executed by me, it did not manifest so much as an artistic form of expression, as it did a survivalist’s form of expression illustrating what it looks like to be hanging outside a 40-story building by a pole.

As I watched our teacher demo how the piece was supposed to be performed I realized I was so far out of my league I didn’t have a league.

Additionally, it is not a welcome sight to be standing adjacent to a reed thin pole in comparison to my not-so-reed-thin-like physique.

A few moves sent me into an ice skater death spiral, only I wasn’t on ice or skates and I was spinning on a pole.

The mirrored room that had looked so inviting when I arrived now garishly reflected my moves from the perspective of a fun house mirror. It mocked my every purposeful and not-so-purposeful move with exaggerated reflections of an act gone dreadfully wrong.

(By the way, screaming “Here I go!” does nothing by way of mastering the routine or scoring “pretty points.”)

The solution, and as it turns out the problem, was body weight. Not only was I attempting to launch, hold and swing my Rubenesque lusciousness up and onto a pole, but we were schooled to use our body weight for momentum. Uh-oh.

While our instructor beautifully rocked to and fro, using her pole as a prop that accentuated her lithe stature, flowing flexibility, and athletic prowess I was juxtaposed as the opposite of all that. I had taken my own advice to “be the pole” to heart; stiff, immovable, unable to change my form.

I’ve never been known for my skills at defying gravity as my severe pommel horse flashbacks will attest.

At one point I had the oddest sensation that I was being watched. As I glanced out the window I saw a group of someones standing in the parking lot – no less than 20 of them – watching my one-ring circus act due to my awesome pole positioning.

Pole fitness should encourage the inner vamp in you. For me, instead of a “come hither” look I had more of a “come hither and take me down” look.

While it was all good fun I’m not sure whether I’ll be working pole fitness into my regular exercise schedule.

I’m still undecided. Maybe I need to take a poll?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Re: (Humor) Julia's Child...the cheffing gene skipped a generation, landing firmly on Generation Y-ME?!

Julia’s Child

My kids are often the subject of my columns. Truth be told, so are my pets, my husband, and anyone, (or thing), that crosses my path, really. That’s how it works when you’re an observational comic.

Because of this my friends require assurance whenever they do something even marginally amusing, “Oh, no! That’s not going to be in your column, is it?”

Uh, no, huh-uh. Of course not. Certainly not without a drastic renaming, rewriting, or retelling applied to the whole thing.

Which brings us to this week’s installment spawned by my spawn. I didn’t even have to leave my house for this one, thereby negating the need for a change out of my “house shorts” or a comb-out of my “house hair.”

The topic? Food. Specifically: The cooking of it.

A funny thing happened on the way to my snazzy black and white checkerboard-floored kitchen. I met up with my youngest who was cooking.

Lest I under-present this finding, she wasn’t just cooking, she was cheffing. In fact, it looked like minute number twenty-two in a professionally produced thirty-minute Food Network show.

I stood there motionless and mesmerized in the presence of this culinary whiz, what with the professional chopping, scrumptious smells wafting, and foodstuffs sizzling.

Though I’ve prepared adequate feed-the-machine offerings for my family over the years, (something I’ve detailed in a column or ten), it is not my special gift.

Consequently, my style of cooking can best be described as home cooking with a dash of low fat applied to it: Low Home Cooking.

And speaking of lo, lo these many years I’ve yearned for an in-house chef. Did the universe hear my not-so-silent pleas?

After two decades of serving tolerable meals no one is more amazed than me at the bounty procreation has gifted me with in the form of children who produce gastronomic delights. Perhaps this culinary mutation occurred in self-defense.

It is the youngest, however, who has gone beyond all measure, as she rolls out, often literally, delicacies and delights that confirm my belief in miracles.

Gourmet Girl can magician together three seemingly ordinary ingredients she excavates from my understocked larder and – wha-la – the creation of an exquisitely memorable repast.

At first I’m sure folks thought I was bragging in that parental Lake Woebegone, “all the children are above average” way, but then Julia’s Child proffered her homemade fare to the masses. All that’s left now is the shouting – for more!

And her inspiration? Well, it’s a Dean, but it’s not her Mama Dean. It’s Paula Deen. Therefore her not-so-secret ingredient for everything is about two sticks of luscious butter.

Oh, the rivers of beautiful, sunny, delicious butter that flow through these sumptuous meals. We’re talking down-home biscuits and gravy, the best hamburgers I have ever chowed down and mouthwatering casseroles, cobblers, and candies, oh my!

At any moment I’m expecting Guy from that “Dine and Dash” program to show up at our house touting our dining room as an unknown gem of an eatery in the Gold Country.

The cuisine my culinarian produces would make a fitness trainer weep. This is both due to its innate ability to tip the scales unfavorably in the Battle of the Bulge as well as for the sheer beauty of the bounty that lies waiting to be forked in at record speed.

I’ve even instituted a little game I like to play that marginally amuses our chef-in-residence called, “Surprise me!”

I tell her, “I’m thinking basil, apples, and chicken for a meal. Surprise me!” Just thinking about the results always sets my tail to wagging.

The only problem is that I’ve noticed lately it’s getting a wee bit more difficult to lift the aforementioned tail, but oh, how it’s worth it.

Hum, worth. Mrs. Butterworth. Gosh, I could really go for some of those homemade banana nut pancakes Chef girlardee makes.

Do you think her teacher would mind if I texted her while she’s in her math class?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

RE: (Humor)...ere's (ears) a little column about fitness "Sometimes It's Just Too EAR-LY"

Sometimes It’s Just Too EAR-LY

I “treat myself” to daily exercise and, oddly enough, I really do enjoy it, never considering it torture or anything negative. Until I attach technology to it.

At this juncture let us start the clock.

8:01 a.m.

I head over to the fitness center.

8:02 a.m.
But, alas, poor Yorick, this particular morning it got ugly immediately. Essentially, because my keen observational skills led me to note a couple of integral items absent from their usual spot in my rolling locker, known as a car.

Not only was my water bottle missing in action, but so were the ear buds that go with my iPod. I absolutely cannot gallop on the treadmill sans music.

8:22 a.m.
Being a somewhat resourceful woman, with cash in her change tray, off I went to purchase my auditory accessory.

8:32 a.m.
Arriving at my health club, new headphones at the ready, I hop onto the treadmill. With my keen investigational skills I notice straight away that something is awry.
The wires are quite tangled up. No problem. I can take care of that in under three minutes, leaving plenty of time before my looming 10:00 a.m. dental appointment.

8:42 a.m.
All right, so that wasn’t my personal untangling best. I’m ready now. I’ve even tucked a tissue into my pants, just in case. (It’s best not to ask, “Just in case what?”)
I swig down some water to quench the thirst I’ve developed as a result of my exhausting trek from the parking lot. Here we go.

8:50 a.m.
I’m into the zone for about eight minutes, burning enough calories to enable me to eat a lemon juice enhanced green salad for dinner. Now it’s time to access that motivational music. Let’s insert those ear buds.

8:51 a.m.
This is when I notice that one of those black cover thingies is missing in action. No biggie. I’ll just wear them anyway. (In about a minute it will become clear why these items are crucial.)

8:52 a.m.
I cannot get the danged things in, but I doggedly attempt to retain some semblance of a fast walk. I have now logged in approximately 8 minutes of exercise time.

8:59 a.m.
I am convinced I have punctured my left ear drum as I repeatedly insert and re-insert the ear bud without the cover. Contrary to what the manufacturer may have claimed, shoving the equivalent of a rubber Q-tip into the ear is not well-received by the ear.

9:06 a.m.
I spend the next 7 minutes playing around with these minuscule instruments of torture as I attempt to remember the reason I’m here; to work out my body, not my ear canals.

9:22 a.m.
“Viola!” They’re in! I am 16 minutes into the apex of this session when I realize I’ve got music pumping into my cranium at an insanity-inducing volume. The tunes are reverberating around the walls of my mind, the resultant effect being a tad bit disorienting. I need to adjust the volume or my ear canal is going to invert itself and jump out of my head.

9:23 a.m.
I struggle to maintain my stride, noting that I am almost out of time as I am perilously close to the 30-minute limit imposed by the club.

9:30 a.m.
I’m so nervous about getting kicked off the machine that I accidentally hit the cool down button. I act as though I meant to do it and bellow, “Whew!” just in case anyone is watching and rating my level of work-out intensity.

9:31 a.m.
Knowing I have barely enough time to get my heart rate up, I hit “quick work-out,” but for some reason I get diverted. That’s when I make a rookie error and bend over to take a look at my shoelaces.

9:35 a.m.
I knock the buds right out of my ear sockets and in trying to catch them I come close to pulling my knee out of its socket.

9:37 a.m.
Another couple of minutes elapse as I assess my patella for potential damage, sidling through the rest of what is now my second cool down. Dismounting I feel the white hot glare of waiting members upon me which causes me to finally break into a sweat.

9:38 a.m.
I limp over to the free weights where others are hard at work grunting, sweating, straining, and flexing. The more talented patrons accomplish this all at the same time.
As I belly up to the weight bar I overhear a woman saying she wished she had music because it makes the time go by so much faster.

They really should sell headphones in six-packs.

Friday, September 16, 2011

RE: (Humor) 'Not-Not' List for Aging...let's spend our time laughing, not looking in the mirror

‘Not-Not’ List for Aging

By way of recap, to celebrate my love of lists and humor applied to just about anything, even aging – ugh, yucky, pooey – I’ve created several “Not Not” lists in the past.

(Two have appeared in THE UNION newspaper. See ‘not-not’ list for romance and ‘not-not’ list for fitness.)

These “Not Not” lists operate somewhat like a mathematical equation, whereby multiplying two negatives renders a positive.

Because I’ve addressed wide-ranging, hard-hitting issues of social, economic, and cultural import in my columns, it makes sense that I would move on to this powder keg of politically charged topics – aging.

Interestingly enough, the most controversial element I encountered when compiling this particular list was whether to spell “ageing” with an “e” or whether to utilize the more compact version of “aging” sans the “e.”

Since I enjoy time saving almost as much as I do list making, I went with the latter. (Two t’s, not two d’s, in case you’re reading this out loud to someone.)

It’s Not That It’s Not Time to Think About Aging When:

1. You call your kids by the names of your dogs…repeatedly. Some of these are even dogs that have already crossed over Rainbow Bridge;

2. You graduated from college some year preceding the inception of the band, Bon Jovi;

3. You know someone who attended Woodstock and/or you would have attended, but you couldn’t drive because you have a late birthday;

4. You remember what a freedom shirt (female) was and a Nehru jacket (male) was and, no, they aren’t coming back in style;

5. You’re on your third or more witnessing of the remake for the song Big Yellow Taxi (Don’t it always seem, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone);

6. You are more interested in developing your stock portfolio than your biceps;

7. You find yourself looking at old pictures of yourself exclaiming, “Dang, I was hot!”

8. You find your wife/husband/friends/talking parrot looking at old pictures of you exclaiming, “Dang, you were hot!”

9. Retirement communities have graduated from sending you generic materials featuring smiling geriatric models to providing you with personalized recommendations from friends and specific unit numbers accompanied by their respective floor plans;

10. Your children are asking you how much equity you have in your home and when you think the market might rebound;

11. You realize updating your Will means removing the part where your 30-year-old-plus-some-odd-years children will not be taken care of by their long-deceased grandparents;

12. You’re the same age as your grandparent was of the same gender when s/he died and you thought they’d had a “good run” at the time;

13. You realize you’ve been married longer than you lived at home with your family of origin – times two;

14. Term life insurance companies keep sending you materials saying “Hurry!”;

15. Your children keep sending you materials about term life insurance and retirement facilities saying “Hurry!”;

16. Long conversations with verbose folks are visualized in your head as an actuarial table in the shape of an hourglass, the sands of time amassing a sand dune squarely on top of diminished life expectancy;

17. You’ve begun wondering if there’s something to this whole playing bridge, pinochle thing and you find yourself buying cards with cats on them;

18. Golf courses are suddenly the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen in nature and you find yourself trying on visors as you take practice swings in front of the mirror;

19. You wonder why those all-weather, perky, pink flamingoes have gotten such a bum rap because nothing spruces up a front lawn as nicely as a flock of flamingoes playing freeze tag;

20. When people ask how old you are, you insist on making them guess, querying back with “How old do I look?” sometimes adding “whippersnapper.”

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

RE: (Humor) No Iphone, you can almost laugh about

No Iphone, Iswear

When our family sets out to enjoy some scheduled spontaneity, it seems the only way “normal” works its way into the experience is if we watch other families on their outings.

Witness our recent adventure when we all got together for a bit of revelry marking our birthdays.
There we were, waiting outside an eatery, having a good ‘ole time engaging in the laugh riot that ensues as we torture each other with the usual conversational fodder.

This non all-inclusive list of topics consists of: our advancing age, “what were we thinking?” presents, and a wealth of stories with embarrassing moments that are sure to mortify the subject.

Just about the time our table was ready a young woman advanced upon us, ostensibly seeking solace as she set forth her tale of woe.

It seems her cousin had set her Iphone on the bench, over yonder, and though she didn’t think it was the case, she was wondering if we had seen it.

We assured her that we had not seen such an item. (Heck, truth be told, we hadn’t even seen the bench.)

We made the appropriate sympathetic noises one would make when a stranger reports the loss of something and, thinking we were done, we made our way over to the front of the establishment.

Then it got ugly. Real ugly.

Immediately the launch sequence was initiated for one of my least favorite spectator sports – the public scene.

I distinctly noted her glowing red eyes, octaval voice drop, and six-inch height increase as she tuned up for an orchestral rant.

The kicked-up-a-notch-shrew told us it sure was funny we hadn’t seen her iphone since we were talking about it when she walked up, to which I cleverly interjected, “I what?!”
[By the way, that play on words thing may work well in columns, comedy clubs, and even congregations, but not with an angry, unhinged fruitloop.]

Oh, sure, that’s right. Just call me Ma Barker. That’s what me and my younguns do for kicks on the weekends. We travel to area restaurants, absconding with folks’ iphones, making a passel of trouble for ‘em.

As an aside to my aside, the she-devil was wearing a particularly fetching frock, which did not even hint at the unpleasantries to follow.

Timing being everything, it was at this juncture that the bistro maître d (that’s fancy talk for “person holding menus”) called our party’s name. A good thing too, because I was just getting ready to helpfully offer “Young Yeller” a southernmost locale where she might seek out her missing Iphone.

After such a bizarre interlude we somnambulated our way toward our table, shaking off the road dust and our odd experience. We even managed to laugh about the incident as we sat down to consult our “quick pick” 30-page menu.

I laughingly advised my family, from now on I was going to ask everyone, “Want to see my new Iphone?”

By the end of the meal we’d all but forgotten about our rendezvous with crazy in the form of “America’s Next Top Possessed Model.” We were excitedly contemplating the embarrassing birthday festivities at the end of our meal, having long been the hallmark of restaurant merrymaking; singing, clapping, and lighting a delicious confection on fire.

It was at this moment our server returned, inquiring as to whether we had an Iphone. I was aghast, affronted, and apoplectic, in addition to other words not beginning with an “a.”
Heretofore my ire had remained a stowaway on my skiff of outrage, but it now launched on the behemoth ship known as, the U.S.S. Incensement.

I took a shallow breath and ahoy, matey, full steam ahead!

“Oh, for pete’s sake. We don’t have a flipping Iphone. This is ridiculous. Did that girl actually get you to ask us that? She is one cuckoo short on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, let me tell you. How about she reels it in and takes responsibility for whatever happened and then she can quit harassing us?”

Our nonplussed waitress looked at me in growing bafflement, commenting matter-of-factly, “Oh, yeah, I heard someone lost their phone. No, no, no. I was asking because if you have an Iphone there’s an app you can access to get a restaurant coupon.”

Chagrined, my response was vintage Gilda Radner, via that inimitable “Queen of the Misunderstandings” character, Emily Litella, from “Saturday Night Live.”

“Oh.” [Insert long pause.] “Never mind.”

Friday, August 26, 2011

RE: Oh, Fiddlesticks! Humor about outmoded expressions known as minced oaths

Oh, fiddlesticks!

We are a perpetually surprised species. Attesting to this fact is the sheer volume of astonished utterances we boast in our distinctly American lexicon and language.

No doubt, many of these outmoded expressions now reside in the Smithsonian of Jargon.
We have always been willing to travel quite a piece, euphemistically, in order to avoid objectionable words or terms, rather than giving voice to the blasphemous ones that erupt rather more naturally.

Since the Crusades we have made every effort NOT to take the big guy’s name in vain, resulting in the accumulation of a runneth-over treasure trove of idioms that are not so much logical as plentiful. These terms are known as minced oaths.

I’m sort of a closet linguist and, believe you-me, this is not the kind of closet anyone wants to see me step out of any time soon. Be that as it may, because of this fact (the linguist part, not the closet part), my observational pursuits stretch far beyond what folks are doing and well into what they are saying and how they are saying it.

Word count and my ability to sustain my own attention span necessitated that I only cover three minced oaths this time around.

Last uttered by the last Confederate widow when she learned her husband’s pension would continue to be issued in Confederate currency, which was no longer legal tender, at least on this side of the Mason-Dixon line.
What I thought was the origin.
Fiddles were once played with sticks.
How I fared.
I was almost right.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
There appears to be a wee bit of controversy here. Some folks are like-minded with yours truly, asserting that fiddles were played with sticks, while the oppositionally inclined non-fiddle-lovers say fiddling itself is nonsense; therefore, the saying is synonymous with “that’s nonsense.” Of course, the Fiddle Players for Change in the World through String Instruments are all up in arms, if not sticks.

Last uttered by the last World I veteran when he figured out he had been collecting his pension for longer than all of America’s combined years at war.
What I thought was the origin.
I was pulling for a Betsy Ross connection.
How I fared.
I could be right or I could not be right.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
There are countless derivatives for this one, including Heavens to Murgatroyd, my heavens, for heaven’s sake, and heaven help me, but the provenance of the phrase has baffled linguists and bored laymen for a couple of centuries. Two consistent explanations offered up are that it’s a reference to the rifle “Old Betsy,” which has offended every young Betsy who ever lived, and the infamous Betty Ross flag lore supported by her relatives, rather than historical accuracy.

Last uttered by Walt Disney when he realized he’d given Mickey Mouse a girlfriend, but neglected to do the same for Jiminy Cricket.
What I thought was the origin.
Though the peanut and the cricket shared the same clothing designer, the peanut always scared me while a childhood visit to Disneyland established the cricket as a favorite of mine. In short, I knew who Jiminy was.
How I fared.
Partial success on this one. I was spot on knowing from whence the cricket came, but I had never made the association with Jiminy Cricket’s initials of J.C. and why he would then be an apt substitution for a colorful, though potentially sacrilegious interjection.
What seems to be accepted truth about the origin.
You need to be a certain age to even remember anyone bellowing, “Jiminy Cricket!” let alone know who – or what – Jiminy was. However, my friend Wikipedia has provided me with a solid frame of reference. As it turns out, Jiminy was created by one dude for his appearance in the children's book Pinocchio, but revamped by one of Disney’s Nine Old Men animators for his future starring role in Disney films.

So, if you’re bored some Saturday evening and, no, it doesn’t have to be a Saturday evening, smarty pants, go to the font of endless, senseless information – any search engine—and tap in “origin of expression” plus any ‘ole turn of phrase that comes to mind.

The hits will just keep on coming.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

RE: Parenting Humor...the real reality show: SURVIVOR...Parent Style

SURVIVOR: Parent Style…the real reality show about survival

Perhaps I am only one of a handful of people able to make this claim, but I’ve only seen the show, Survivor, a few times.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an entire episode, although I was drawn in ever so briefly by the exotic locales and resultant geography lessons, such as in the case of Survivor: Marquesas, which provided me with a look-see at Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands.

To me this show isn’t hardcore enough, barely registering on the ‘ole endurance meter.
Nope, my idea for a REAL show about REAL survival would be called, Survivor: Parent Style.
None of this namby-pamby eating of bugs, ratting each other out to narrow the playing field, and being subjected to Generation Y-ME’s hook-ups that – gasp! – don’t seem to ever work out.

No living the unreality of a reality show, as contestants vie for a cash prize and the chance to be on the cover of People magazine as the “hottest” television survivalist of the year.

In my production Survivor: Parent Style features parental contestants leading the way as they plan and implement a family journey out back, out front, or out in the middle of nowhere.
This set-up is rife with possibilities illustrating what it’s really like to be challenged beyond the limits of human capacity.

(In point of fact, most of you know what we usually call this kind of adventure: camping.)
In a civilized society parents are challenged by family life every ding-dong day. Imagine how entertaining it would be if this domestic show hit the road.

Survivor: Parent Style wouldn’t be a wimpy show with whiny people dispatched to a gorgeous island where they’re interviewed about how hard it is to balance, standing on a raft, for hours. Huh-uh. No, sirree!

This reality show would follow whiny families living on a marginally attractive land mass where we hear kids ponder existential topics. For instance, the concept of time as applied to destination by asking, “Are we there yet?” to which their wise, well-spoken mother would reply, “We are here, Josh. There is here. Now be quiet, eat your pill bug, and pass the larvae.”

Think of the hilarity that would ensue as the sheer volume of scenes roll out, fueled by rich family history guaranteed to incite one another to achieve personal bests in emotional wrestling. It would be Swiss Family Robinson on steroids.

And the visuals. Ever balance over a latrine while holding a three-year-old’s hand? Moms, I know you have.

Now, there’s a challenge America is probably not ready to see, but that’s what true survival looks like. There could be plot twists, like temper tantrums that scare the natives so badly, they try to figure out how to get off of their own island.

One set of flying flip-flops, soaring across the forested treetops after they’ve been launched by an entitled child hearing the word, “No!” from their parent for the first time is all it would take.

The only problem is that Survivor: Parent Style might not be the ratings bonanza networks are looking for because this would be “real” reality and that may be too darned scary.
Nevertheless, I have come up with a pretend introduction for my pretend show:

“Watch Survivor: Parent Style as ordinary people, previously living ordinary lives, take their extraordinary children into an extraordinary world filled with dangerous obstacles.

Observe parents spending 18 years raising their children in the wild, without losing them, their own sanity, or the keys to the jeep that will escort them out of this hellhole when, and if, the jeep starts up at the end of their almost-two-decade-long journey.”

That’s right. I forgot to tell you the best part of my idea for the series, Survivor: Parent Style.

The show would air for 18 years OR until all of the minor children attained non-minorhood OR until all of the majority-aged adults were majorly nuts.

Whichever comes first. Care to lay odds on this one?

Monday, July 25, 2011

RE: (Humor) Not Made in America...inventions that could have been

Not Made in America

There’s no doubt about it. There are plenty of products that have never made it into the mainstream.

While some may be items we’re really missing out on, I’m guessing most ended up just where they needed to – in the copyright office vault, under lock, key, -ground.

I decided to come up with my own list of products that have never been added to a shelf, showroom, or stockpile. These, of course, are all in jest, erupting from my brain as one of my little “What if?” scenarios.

Humorous List of Inventions That Were Never Meant to Be...

1. (Talking) Chair for single living.

Explanation: If you are a sole practitioner in life, this is the chair for you, offering up a variety of verbal settings to suit your differing communication needs. Whether you’re looking for a motivational cheerleader, empathetic counselor, compassionate friend, or drill sergeant, this chair will supply what you lack, intuitively adjusting for mercurial moods. At the press of a button, this piece of furniture will prove more responsive than your last blind date and you don’t even have to wear a clean shirt.

Problem: The first trials indicated confusion with the settings and the intuitiveness of the chair morphed into a “here’s what’s best for you” approach. In the process, every member participating in the focus group was offended when suggestions of losing weight, getting a life, and piping down were offered by the surly recliner.

2. Salsa-flavored milk.

Explanation: The theory behind this product was to counteract the accumulated heat associated with salsa ingestion, while preserving the requisite desired kick of the aforementioned product.

Problem: The lab tried countless fillers, coloring agents, and bulking ingredients to get this product to just plain look better and less gloppy, but to no avail.

3. Liver-infused donuts.

Explanation: Market research showed that at each end of the age continuum -- babies and elders -- enjoyed the tasty treat that is the magnificent donut. Couple this finding with the fact that both ends of this demographic spectrum require iron supplementation and this seemed to be a winner.

Problem: They’re liver-infused donuts. Without lying, that is a tough sell and while lying was discussed, the underlying taste of liver could not be fried out of those donuts, no matter how much canola oil was plumbed from the depths of the Canola Sea.

4. Cheese-flavored Antacid Tablets.

Explanation: Not everyone is a fruit person and few people over the age of five are *chalk eaters, so it seemed logical to pickup on the passion that is cheese eating by consumers and flavor a popular, though ghastly tasting, product with this familiar taste.

Problem: As it turns out, most people only like cheese in, on, or around their food, not their antacids, gum, or other helpful, training-to-be-medication products.

*Right after I wrote this column there was a Dr. Phil special on people who eat non-food items. Sure enough, one of the guests was a woman who ate chalk (as did her mother) proving, once again, that fact and fiction are more than just kissing cousins.

5. Luggage with a built-in chair.

Explanation: You’re at the airport, waiting in line to check-in and you would give anything just to be able to sit down. Wha-la! That piece of stylish luggage you’re supporting is now supporting you by converting into an on-the-go deck chair, allowing you to “take a load off” quickly and efficiently.
Problem: This proved to be a popular item in the testing phase and the product was ready to launch when a terrible sitting accident occurred. It seems that one of the last focus group members decided to perch on the luggage in a “hands free” manner, misunderstanding the importance of thigh support in concert with successful perching. Gravity took over and production plans have been suspended for the foreseeable future. Patents and lawsuits are still pending.

6. Disposable running shorts.

Explanation: Of course runners are very active people who go through running shorts more frequently than they do finish line tape. Initially, NASA was involved in the manufacturing of material that would be strong, disposable, yet comfortable or as one scientist said, “Yeah, right!” Subsequently, a group of young, underemployed physical education majors were asked for their design ideas.

Problem: Alas, many runners sweat profusely and this wreaked havoc with the replication of test results when fine tuning the Dispose-away-shorts-today™ design. A host of additional problems accumulated when runners were polled as to styles that would be offered. As one sprinter put it so succinctly, “Our shorts can have style?”

7. No-Luv.

Explanation: No-Luv is a medication which renders a broken romance, not just a distant memory, but a "non-memory," acting as a reverse Sodium Pentothal drug.

Problem: I personally don’t see any problems whatsoever, but those crabby ACLU people did, as well as some humanitarian groups and non-profits like L.O.V.E.L.O.R.N. were all up in arms, if not in someone else’s arms.

8. Estrogen-laced chocolate.

Explanation: It was thought that this food of choice for most women could really pack a punch if it was infused with those crazy hormones that are intrinsic in our XX makeup, making us women to be reckoned with...or else.

Problem: Silly men. This is a repetitive product! Women have long known about the medicinal properties of chocolate. There is no need to enhance an already perfect supplement.

Monday, July 4, 2011

RE: O Captain! (Crunch) My Captain!...humor about that crunching sound...

O Captain! (Crunch) My Captain!

CRUNCH. At first glance, in and of itself, this is a fairly innocuous word. I would even go so far as to say it’s a positive word, evoking gastronomical imagery of fresh, sassy food infused with texture.

(The Food Network has noticeably expanded my vocabulary and my waistline.)

Crunch has the added bonus of providing a bevy of onomatopoeic opportunities. This includes an English terminology refresher course on what the heck onomatopoeia is (when the word represents the sound) and how to spell this blasted term that flouts all spelling conventions.

I would like to offer a different spin on the word “crunch” with my own “MeSpeak” when talking about how my body feels after exertion.

A simple sentence illustrating this meaning might be:

“Man, I am experiencing a skosh bit of stiffness and I’m crunchy after that work-out.” This renders the connotative meaning of crunch to be tight.

Granted, I didn’t use crunch in the usual context and I even added a “y” not before an “i” or followed by an “e” with a side of “s,” but that’s the connotative fun of it all.

The utterance of crunch does not really possess all that much life-changing emotional meaning or mood until…

Duhn, duhn, duhn…

…you consider its application to eating. As anybody who has ever sat in a crowded movie theater next to a soda-swilling, popcorn-chomping patron can tell you, you can connote the heck out of the word “crunch” when that business is going on.

A simple sentence demonstrating this might be:

“She thought to herself, Gosh, if he doesn’t stop chewing like that, I am going to clock him on the head with my purse until I hear something crunch.”

Of course, this reaction may seem a wee bit violent. I posit that the crunch auditory assault situation elicits just such a response from generally gentle persons, forcing them to turn their yin-yang jewelry backwards, zip their sweaters over their peace sign teeshirts and pretend to get into a different car than the electric one with the “Coexist” bumpersticker.

But they’re not responsible for their actions because this is a syndrome that can’t be helped. They didn’t choose to feel this way. It’s in their DNA. As surely as they inherited, say, stunning blue eyes, they may have inherited this unpleasantly prevalent reaction to crunchy food. In point of fact, this is a syndrome with its own acronym because I have helpfully created both.

Thus, it’s the same word as the word. C.R.U.N.C.H.


Although popcorn and other ambiguously caloric foods may qualify as the culprit, bringing about an attack of C.R.U.N.C.H., it is more frequently health foods that are the real perpetrator here.

It doesn’t even matter if someone closes their mouth while they’re eating these torturous victuals which necessitate excess mastication. Healthful offerings are just as high-decibel whether the maw is open or closed.

Crunchy foods garner the attention of my own husband, who normally enjoys the ability to accept any noise level due to his life-long status as a rock ‘n’ roll musician, suffering the resultant collateral damage that is hearing loss.

Let someone (and this someone is usually moi) “fire up” a carrot and this habitually mellow man turns into a high frequency detecting, cranky Chihuahua, exhibiting the same combative tendencies. With my first bite his ears go up, his head whips around, and he launches the detonation sequence on his patented I-will-give-you-one-minute-to-eat-that-item death ray glare.

I’ve been known to transport a cellophaned bag of those luscious baby carrots into the bathroom, just so I can enjoy them in a judgment-free zone where comments like, “Are you about done with those?” and “How many are in that bag anyway?” don’t machine gun away at me every three seconds, harshing my carotene mellow.

(Okay, I am a bit prone to hyperbole. It was the bedroom, not the bathroom.)

The real problem with C.R.U.N.C.H. is that you don’t seem to know you have it until someone helpfully points out to you how annoying crunching can be.

You’re welcome.

Friday, June 24, 2011

RE: 'Tis the Season for Fitness Humor...It's Not that It's NOT Time to Get Fit

The Not Not List…10 Reasons to Not Not Be Fit

I love lists, don’t you? I’m thrilled by the power that surges through me as I check-off one nagging task after another, watching my chores dwindle from countless to count ‘em down.

Daily, I leave brightly colored pieces of paper in my wake with “To Do” emblazoned on the top of the page, heading up the most scintillating tasks known to woman; buy cat food, make bank deposit, acquire drain unclogging liquid, and “Be Here Now.”

Everything from menial tasks to mantras of inspiration are reflected on these shreds of paper which also document my hobby of running hither and thither.

In a nod to my love of lists and humor applied to just about anything, including fitness and test taking experiences of all things, I’ve created this particular “Not Not” list.

The general provenance of “Not Not” lists comes by way of my experiences as an adolescent student when I navigated countless test questions that ended with: “Which of the following answers do not best describe…”

These drove me crazy because I spent my entire educational career matriculating toward the right answers, so why on earth were the blasted test makers having us identify the wrong answers? I swear I heard electricity in my brain whenever I was presented with this ilk of examination.

(Also, truth be told, I’m also somewhat of a closet “knock, knock” joke fan, so “Not Not” is designed to sound like that classic joke set-up.)

The “Not Not” is not just for lists either. The reference can also work as a conversational gambit, such as when folks ask you for money.

“It’s not that I’m not interested in donating to your organization.” This leaves them confused and you off the hook.

In honor of the fact that summer seems to have finally arrived and with it the moment of truth that is, “Oh, no, my traditional build does not bode well for swimsuit season,” I will address the topic of fitness.

Even now, as I skim the aisles for a beach burka that will highlight the parts of my body that actually do illustrate the fact that I work out, I have come face-to-face with that never fun, always true revelation – I’ve got to stop eating the wrong things.

Since I will not be spending my summer stuffing my piehole with pie I must stuff my mind with humor, so here is a Low-Cal helping.Ten Reasons to Not Not Be Fit:

1. During the parent-teacher conference you’ll be able to avoid that cursed excuse, “Oh, no I’m not stuck in the chair, I’ve just got a kink in my leg” when trying to escape the student chair that has you wrapped like a human burrito;

2. Not having to assert that you’re big-boned and from hardy stock when you’re 5’2,” wear a size five shoe and you hail from people who paid people who were of hardy stock to do things that your decidedly non-hardy clan couldn’t;

3. Once and for all you can put an end to those “Red Rover” flashbacks from childhood when you simply couldn’t make it over;

4. You will no longer have to make excuses for your “does not play well with others” metabolism that always seem to include the words “thyroid,” “medication” and “mumu”;

5. Squeaking furniture will no longer sound accusatory;

6. Driving up hills won’t wear you out;

7. You can postpone the improvement of your personality, instead drafting off of the fact that your fit body will encourage more looking than talking;

8. You will no longer need to generate fantastical stories like, “I’m in the witness protection program” to justify your NO PICTURES policy;

9. You’ll be able to quit saying, “This runs small,” even when you’re talking about jewelry;

10. When others say they need to get fit, you’ll just smile, flex your new muscles, and mentally cross this one off your To Do list.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

RE: PRONING THE ACCIDENT...humor about being a wee bit accident prone...

Proning the Accident

I’m a wee bit accident prone and though there isn’t a support group, or 12-step recovery program for this condition, the distinction may at least merit qualification as an unofficial club.

I will call those of us who possess this tendency “proners.” (I almost said for the sake of clarity, but even I know that’s a bit of a stretch.)

I often joke I can dance, but I can’t walk because I not only bump into inanimate objects on an almost hourly basis, but I have patented a type of running trip that often lands me somewhere I wasn’t planning to go, narrowly avoiding full implementation of my full coverage insurance.

My clumsiness has always been a part of my life, but as I’ve gotten more – mature – I seem to have incorporated a new twist into my customary movements around this earth. I don’t even notice when they‘ve occurred.

It isn’t unusual for me to be told things like: Your zipper is down, your hair is stuck in the car window and your sweatshirt is zipped over your seatbelt, often at the same time.

This worries me when I watch elder care commercials and the words “surrendering your estate,” “power of attorney” and “best placement of least restraint” flash by.

Proners beget proners and clumsiness begets antics and that brings me to my mum.

She has always been a source of slapstick comedy and, thus, hours of amusement. She is Lucy and we’ve always had a “Lucy and Ethel” sort of relationship.

Instead of stuffing chocolates in our faces as the conveyor belt runs rampant we‘ve found ourselves stuffing overdue bills in our purses as my father wonders why we never seem to receive any mail.

And speaking of my father. He was a hilarious guy, there’s no doubt about it, but his physical comedy chops were unparalleled, albeit unplanned.

One sweltering summer we were engaged in the delightful pursuit of the American Dream that is traveling via motorhome, necessitating the purchase of a cooling unit due to the aforementioned swelter.

I can still see my father standing at the front of the vehicle, explaining to us all how he had installed a fan right up front and we needed to watch our heads. He cautioned us that if we were “…too stupid to avoid the fan, then I don’t feel sorry for you. I’m only going to tell you this one time. Watch your head.” It’s not like I retained a transcript, but that is the phrase we chant when my family tells the story.

As my father climbed off his makeshift podium he managed to snag the edge of the newly installed fan with his noggin, causing him to shift his weight slightly. We didn’t say a word.

One hour later we were at the side of the road taking a potty break – ya gotta love the comforts of the Winnebago – the motor home as opposed to the American Indians – when my father attempted to scoot back into his seat. It looked as though he was going to clear that multi-bladed contraption too, but it all went wrong in a split second and he managed to wing the side of his head.

We immediately guffawed, covering nicely with some coughing. Later that day we pulled over again to enjoy a nourishing, motorhome-cooked meal which always seemed to contain three elements: meat, potatoes, and a can of vegetables. In short, the same fare as we had at home.

As my father made his way past the almost-regular-sized table located behind the driver’s seat, he nearly made it to the driver’s seat, but at the last second he hit his head so hard on the fan that the force threw him down the aisle, bouncing him all the way back down the aisle like an errant pinball in a pinball machine.

We never saw the fan again and I suspect it disappeared somewhere in the oil fields of Texas, arcing into the derrick-dotted landscape.

To this day I cannot look at a fan without chuckling, which makes for some interesting moments when I’m by myself purchasing a fan during my own sweltering summer.