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Let’s sum up the month so far.

February 1 was Elvis’s basketball tournament. Elvis participates in a basketball program originally sponsored by Special Olympics but now under the purview of our school district’s special education department. I think. It’s hard to keep track. Anyway, this is his third year as a player. Last year Mister Bubby was a peer coach, and this year both Mister Bubby and Girlfriend are peer coaches. In previous years Elvis had good basket-shooting skills but little ball awareness. Over the last few months he’s been playing NBA Live on the PlayStation and now understands the game very well. He’s one of the better players on the elementary-age team.

The job of the peer coaches on the court is to keep the players engaged (e.g. make sure they’re running in the right direction) and facilitate play (depending on the strengths/weaknesses of the players). Mister Bubby is very assertive about getting the ball for his team and giving his players opportunities to shoot, so rebounds and assists are his game. Elvis has gotten really good at getting rebounds and passing the ball as well. He scored a lot of points and was fully engaged in all three games he played. (In past tournaments, he was only able to pay attention to the first game.) Girlfriend, while not as aggressive as MB, acquitted herself nicely, especially considering she was one of the smallest kids on the court.

Everyone had a good time. My mother-in-law’s courtside manner was somewhat embarrassing. But I got over it. Except I have to relive it every time I watch the videos I took that day, and I took quite a few because in the past I’ve always managed to miss whenever one of my kids did a good play, and I was determined to get footage of something worth watching this time–which I did, but I’ve had to sift through quite a few videos to find those moments so I can post them on our family blog. It’s tedious work, but someone has to do it, i.e. I have to do it. Well, I don’t really–I guess I could just not, but I took all these videos, so I may as well.

Our team got third place in its pool–which was last place, but that was mainly because one of the other teams had its coaches doing all the scoring, which was uncool. We probably would have beat them otherwise. I mean, I’m guessing we would have because if they had players who could score, they would have let them, wouldn’t they have? One would think, but whatever. We had fun, and that’s what matters most.

Groundhog’s Day: Don’t remember it.

We got snow in Portland that first full week of February. The school district decided to close schools two hours early, but that was probably two hours too late, at least for the middle schools, which didn’t get out until 1:40 p.m., when the snow was really coming down. Buses didn’t start showing up until 3 p.m. and most buses didn’t show up until after 5 p.m. So instead of getting out two hours early, middle school students ended up staying two hours late, which sucked for them. Poor Mister Bubby.

Elvis’s school got out at 1 p.m., but he was home in a timely manner. As soon as he came in the house, he announced he wanted to play in the snow. So he goes back out in the snow and about fifteen seconds later he comes back in and says, “It’s. FREEZING!” He had tried to make a snowball but had forgotten his gloves. So he put on his gloves and went out again and stayed out for much longer.

The next day school was canceled. (Good call, school district.) As chance would have it, this particular weekend was one where I had planned a road trip with a friend of mine to see Biffy Clyro in Vancouver, B.C. It’s a long story. Would you like to read it? Well, apparently you have nothing better to do, so why not? My friend lives on the east coast and is a huge Biffy Clyro fan and was coming out here to visit family and see Biffy’s shows in Vancouver and Portland, and she wanted someone to make the drive with her. I had not really any experience of Biffy Clyro, aside from my friend’s constant Facebook posts about them, but you know me. I’m open to new experiences and excuses to get out of the house. (Sometimes.) So back in December I said, “Sure, I’ll drive to Vancouver, B.C., to see Biffy Clyro with you,” not having any idea that there would be all this snow the first weekend in February and the roads would become hazardous. Because who could have predicted that? No one. Because it never snows in Portland, except when it does.

And it really wasn’t that much snow–I mean, it was a LOT of snow, for Portland, but not compared to places where it actually snows as a matter of course. But because it never snows here, no one is prepared and there are no plows and we just have to wait for the snow to melt, basically. I mean, that’s pretty much the case. So my friend flew in to PDX Friday night, 10:30 p.m.-ish, and I met her at the car rental and we started driving north. On the plus side, there were no cars on the road. On the minus side, the roads hadn’t been plowed and there was all this snow and we could only go about 35-40 mph on the freeway. On the plus side, once we got to…Chehalis, I think? everything was clear. We arrived at my sister’s house, just north of Seattle, around 3 a.m. and crashed there for the rest of the night. We woke around 8 a.m. and drove into Seattle to eat breakfast with some other Biffy fans my friend knew but I had never met before. We took two of them to Vancouver with us.

The roads were fine. The border guard was a bit confused as to how the four of us from four different states managed to end up in the same car going into Canada, but we weren’t flagged as terrorists, so it all worked out. Unfortunately, by this time I had a splitting headache. The original plan was for my friend and me to drive back to Portland directly after the concert. It became apparent that this might be a poor idea. Fortunately, one of the women riding with us had had the foresight to book a hotel room in Vancouver for that night, and she invited the rest of us to stay with her. So we had this hotel room, so I got to lie down and nurse my headache in the hotel room while the other, more hardcore Biffy fans went out to explore the surrounding area and hang out around the venue where Biffy was going to play. One of them held a place in line while the other two came back to the hotel to get me, refreshed and ready to rock (mostly). We waited in the cold for about an hour for the doors to open. Then we waited for another hour or so for the show to actually start.

The good news is that we were in the very front. Truthfully, I didn’t care that much about being close to Biffy, but I did appreciate having the barrier to lean against when I got tired. It was a good show. There were some drunk dudes moshing or slam-dancing or whatever it is the kids do these days, and my sneakers got stuck to the floor, but I was able to peel them off and walk again when it was over. Between the opening act (Morning Parade, also very good) and Biffy, the show didn’t let out until around 12:30 a.m., at which time my friends (old and new) wanted to hang and wait for the band to come out and see if they could get autographs and whatnot (because this is what they do). Because I’m open to new experiences and didn’t want to walk back to the hotel room alone, I stayed with them. But the band didn’t come out and the band didn’t come out and it was cold and while it hadn’t been that bad to wait in the cold at 7 p.m., it was much worse to wait in the cold at 1 a.m., and I was really tired, so I walked back to the hotel and probably fell asleep. I don’t remember. Sometime in the middle of the night the others came in too. (They had gotten to see the band members and went to get something to eat, since none of us had eaten since breakfast that morning. I was too tired to be hungry.)

Because the woman with the foresight to book the hotel room had not foreseen that she would be inviting three people to stay with her, what we had was a small hotel room with one king size bed. So three of us slept in the king bed and the fourth took the extra pillows and made a pallet on the floor. It didn’t occur to me until much after the fact that I was sharing a bed with a person I had just met that morning. Well, she was nice and she didn’t snore. (And yes, I was in the middle.)

We drove back on Sunday, dropped the other two ladies off in Seattle, where it had snowed a little bit, and then went on to Portland, where the snow had developed a crunchy, icy surface upon which had fallen more snow. But it didn’t really get uncomfortable until we were on the freeway headed toward the suburbs, and it didn’t get really bad until we got into my actual neighborhood, where apparently no one had left their houses since Thursday, and then it was somewhat harrowing. But we made it.

School was canceled again on Monday, although it did stop snowing (finally). Sugar Daddy and I had tickets to Biffy’s Portland show, so that evening we met my friend (and new friends/bedmates) at the Doug Fir Lounge and I got to see the show a second time. Afterwards, Sugar Daddy had a brief chat with the lead singer of Morning Parade, who complimented him on his jacket, a vintage Sears apparel item he inherited from his grandfather. (It’s pretty badass.) On Tuesday I was very tired.

Valentine’s Day: I attended the Valentine’s Day party at Elvis’s school. I usually try to avoid class parties, if at all possible. I usually try to avoid going into my kids’ schools at all, if possible. But Elvis wanted me to come to the Valentine party, so I said I would, and I was glad I did. For one thing, I was merely a guest and didn’t have to actually do anything. Well, that was really the whole thing. I don’t mind going to a party where I’m a guest. (I did ask the teacher if I could bring something or help out, and she said I could bring beverages, so I brought beverages. That was easy.) Elvis was very pleased to see me. As he told me that morning, “I will hug you when you come to the party.” And so he did. Many times throughout the party, actually. The kids played bingo and delivered their valentines and did some dancing (yes, dancing) and ate some treats. Then they cleaned up and went home. It was awesome. Every party should go so smoothly.

Speaking of Elvis, I have an IEP meeting this afternoon for him. We will be discussing transition to middle school. Can you believe it, gentle long-term readers? Elvis is going to middle school in September. That’s hardcore. You know what else is hardcore? Sick children. I have one of those too. Princess Zurg is sick with a headache and sore throat. I’m taking her to the doctor in about 40 minutes. I’m hoping it isn’t strep because strep is horrible, but on the other hand I’m kind of hoping it is because if it is, at least there’s antibiotics for that. The worst is when you just have to suffer with something and aren’t able to do anything about it but just wait and wait and wait for it to end. Le sigh. Oh, crap. I just remembered I have to buy some pizza sauce for Girlfriend to take to her church activity this afternoon. It’s a good thing I typed that for posterity. Now I’ll remember it long enough to do it. Maybe.

I should eat lunch before I take anyone to the doctor. Gentle readers, I hope you all have a great George Washington’s birthday this weekend.

Carpooling

Madhousewife (to neighbor boy): L, quit kicking my seat.

L: [continues kicking seat as though nothing has been said]

Mad: Seriously, dude, quit kicking my seat or I swear I will stop this car, go back there and tie your legs together.

L: Ha ha! You’re so funny. (to Girlfriend) She’s making a joke, right?

Girlfriend: I don’t know.

L’s sister: I think she might not be.

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Mad: L!

L: What?

Mad: Quit kicking my seat.

L: Sorry. Hey, guess what?

Mad: What?

L: Chicken butt!

Mad: Ha ha! Never gets old…

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Mad: Don’t kick my seat, L.

L: Sorry. I’m just so used to doing it.

Mad: Well, you need to get used to not doing it.

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They used to sing “The Hokey Pokey” every morning. I wish they’d go back to doing that.

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Christmas songs I never want to hear again as long as I live

1. “Santa Baby”–any version, but especially Madonna’s

2. “Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer” — It was only funny the first time. And then only because you weren’t used to hearing whimsical songs about grandmothers dying.

3. “Little Drummer Boy” — I know, I know–Bing Crosby and David Bowie singing “Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth,” but that doesn’t count because it isn’t “Little Drummer Boy.” It’s “Peace on Earth” with a soupcon of “Little Drummer Boy.” That’s the thing about “Little Drummer Boy.” It only works as a seasoning, and probably only in this one instance. You wouldn’t pour a cup of allspice down your throat, would you? (If you would, shut up.) Then don’t subject me to a whole song of unadulterated “Little Drummer Boy.”

4. “Twelve Days of Christmas” –No, not even the Muppet version. No version! Except maybe this version, but only after skipping the first two minutes.

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Fortunately, people hardly ever sing “Twelve Days of Christmas” anymore because everyone seems to understand how obnoxious it is. Except for those few obnoxious people who didn’t get the memo. For that reason, it needs to stay on the list until it is completely eradicated from the earth.*

* (Except maybe for limited use in warfare.)

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Mister Bubby was complaining this morning that elementary school kids have it better because they get to have parties on the last day of school before winter break, and all they’re doing in middle school is reading aloud “A Christmas Carol” in one of his classes. I asked him if he was going to read it in Mr. Magoo’s voice. MB remarked that Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol is actually the most faithful of all the adaptations and that it most effectively shows the transformation of Mr. Magoo’s character over time. I tend to agree. I like most adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” but Mr. Magoo’s is still my favorite. Little Ebeneezer gets me every time.

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I actually love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday, despite the fact that it’s also the most stressful. I’m very bad at gifts, you see. I like to give gifts, I want to give gifts, but I have a hard time choosing gifts. You know how some people are really good at giving special, thoughtful gifts? I’m not those people. I like to think it’s not because I’m not thoughtful. I just don’t have any thoughts that translate into gifts. Once in a blue moon I think of something that somebody would really like and I’m actually correct and that’s awesome, but that’s not the rule with me. Most of the time when I try to think of what gift someone would like, I come up with nothing. Which is how I end up giving gift cards so much of the time.

Personally, I like gift cards. Getting them, I mean. Obviously, I love giving them because there’s no thought required. Not that I’m thoughtless, but I like giving them for the same reason I like playing games of chance: there’s no strategy required, so I don’t have to feel bad about getting it wrong. Except I know some people find gift cards impersonal. Well, they are impersonal. But some people are offended by impersonal gifts. Personally, I am not offended by impersonal gifts, even though personal gifts are also nice. I don’t actually have a preference between the two. If my husband got me a gift card for my birthday, I would not be offended, but he might be offended that I was not offended. A gift card would basically boil down to his explicit permission to spend more of his money that I’m already spending without permission (or rather, with implicit permission coexisting with the implicit understanding that I won’t ruin him financially). When you look at it that way, it seems kind of lame, but I wouldn’t mind. What kind of monster am I? I don’t know.

I almost always give my husband a gift card to Jamba Juice for his birthday and for Christmas because he loves Jamba Juice, and it’s not like I can wrap up a week’s worth of smoothies and put them under the tree, is it? Of course, that’s not the only thing I give him. I’m not that much of a monster. But at least I know he’ll use it. But then, he’ll get Jamba Juice even if I don’t give him a gift card. But he’ll feel guilty about it if he gets too many of them. The Jamba Juice that he buys with a gift card is his guilt-free Jamba Juice. I think a card that absolves its holder guilt, even if it’s only the retail variety, is not so impersonal after all. But maybe that’s just me.

But I’ve digressed. But not really because my husband is a good segue to what I meant to talk about here. My husband is a reasonably thoughtful gift giver. I say this mainly because he starts thinking about birthdays and Christmas way before I do. He’ll make me sit down with him and discuss what we ought to give the kids for Christmas, starting in, like, September. (He’s not one of those people who have all their shopping done in July or anything horrible like that. He’s just organized.) I don’t often have something to contribute to these discussions. My most meaningful contributions are “That’s a good idea” and “We should do that.” It’s not that I don’t know my children or what they like. I just can’t think of what they’d like when I really need to. (My husband, on the other hand, thinks very well under stress. I’ve never considered this in light of things like Christmas, but maybe it has a lot to do with why he’s better at it than I am.) Once in a blue moon I have a good idea that isn’t his first. It makes me feel like less of a monster. But it’s a rare feeling.

Now that our children are older, we are moving out of the toy stage of life. Girlfriend is technically still young enough for toys, but she already has a million. We have been trying desperately not to add to the millions of toys that are already in our house. We have been trying desperately not to add to the billions of things we already have in our house, but those efforts have been mostly in vain. Here’s where I have to beg people not to share stories about how they give their kids the gift of working in a soup kitchen every Christmas or buying a cow for someone in Rwanda or whatever. Just don’t even go there. If you do, I swear I will not rinse this ketchup bottle out and recycle it. (That ought to give at least half of you pause.) We don’t have a problem with spending money. We don’t even have a problem with spending money frivolously. (Well, not a very large problem, anyway.) We just don’t want to acquire more crap that we have to thereafter manage. We’ve thought about giving experience or destination gifts, but nothing really comes to mind. Also, not having something to unwrap Christmas morning kind of sucks. I think every kid who isn’t working in a soup kitchen or buying Rwandan cows knows this. Do they even have cows in Rwanda? I’m sure they must, but how much does your average Rwandan need a cow? This is what I don’t know and I’m kind of embarrassed to admit it. I don’t know why I chose Rwanda out of thin air. I think I just like the name “Rwanda.”

One of the thoughtful things my husband thought to do this year is to (finally) compile a photo album of baby photos for Girlfriend. Baby photos of her, that is. She is, sadly, the only child (of ours) who doesn’t have one. Even Elvis has one, although his is rather thin and stops at around four months of age. I would have to double check on that, but I’m afraid if I did I would discover it actually stops at eight weeks of age, and I don’t want to know that. My husband thought of it, but I was put in charge of executing it–which was fine, because it gave me the opportunity to do something thoughtful, so even if I didn’t think of it originally, I can sort of get credit for it. So I have been spending the last few weeks desperately searching for baby pictures of Girlfriend. And you know what? It turns out there aren’t many. Not of that first year, anyway. Which has actually been very depressing. I mean, I knew there weren’t s many of her as there were of the older children, but…wow, I really had no idea how scant the photographic evidence of her babyhood is. Thank God I still had it enough together at the advanced age of 35 to take her in for professional portraits every three months that first year, or who would know what she looked like at six months? No one, that’s who. NO ONE. It is making me sad just thinking about it. But what can I do? WELL, NOTHING ANYMORE, THOSE MOMENTS ARE GONE FOREVER CATS IN THE CRADLE AND THE SILVER SPOON ET CETERA.

She will just have to remember for the rest of her life that I was still carrying her around the house when she was eight years old because she didn’t have any younger siblings with whom I could compare her weight. (She’s actually sixty-seven pounds, but it doesn’t seem that way because she’s my baby. Eventually, this relative lightness is going to end. It probably should have ended a couple years ago, but at least I’m not still breastfeeding her.)

One good thing that has come out of this experience is that I’ve learned that Walgreens will develop my 35mm film. I’ve been looking for someone to do that for ages. Well, not continuously or diligently, of course, or I probably would have discovered the Walgreens photo lab a couple years ago, even though I hardly ever go to Walgreens. I will be going to Walgreens a lot more often now, believe you me, simply because I’m so grateful to them for developing my 35mm film less than a mile from my house. I feel like I owe it to them. Even though I no longer have any more 35mm film to develop. (That I know of. Twenty years from now we could find several canisters that house Girlfriend: The Lost Months.) But I will use them for all my photographic print needs from now on. And also for buying things like Tylenol, maybe.

Talking of which, I have to take a shower and go to Walgreens and pick up the prints I had made from the CD I had made of the 35mm film I had developed, only about six exposures of which involved Girlfriend in some way, Actually, only a few more than that involved any people in some way. Apparently my children started doing experimental photography before we officially entered the digital age. That makes me glad I waited until we were firmly entrenched in the upper-middle class before developing these rolls of film, or I might have been more upset about spending all this money to see blurry shots of someone’s arm.

Only three more hours until winter break begins, and I have to spend twenty minutes showering and getting dressed. What a rip-off. (No, I don’t know why it takes me that long. Considering how I end up looking, it should take me no more than seven minutes, tops. But my universe is a mysterious place.)

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Actually, I don’t especially mind “Little Drummer Boy” when Grace Jones sings it in Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special, but that’s mainly because I’m so mesmerized by the bizarre visuals of the performance that I don’t notice the audio so much.

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No, I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. I haven’t even been spending all my free time on Facebook. (Just some of it.) This is not to say that I’ve been lacking in free time, or even to claim that I’ve spent my free time in a mostly responsible fashion. This is just to say that I haven’t felt much like blogging this month. No particular reason. Just haven’t. I’ve been reading a lot. Writing a little. Clogging some on the side. Neglecting my friends and family. The usual, only more of it.

You ever notice how blogs go out with a whimper? That’s totally what’s going to happen to this one. One day I’ll realize that it’s been seventeen weeks since I posted something, and then I’ll be like, “Oh, I guess the blog is dead, huh?” and I’ll be ashamed and have regrets, but I won’t go back. Because here’s another thing I’ve noticed: When blogs die, they don’t come back. They just stay dead. I mean, sometimes the blogger in question will shock everyone with their first post in three years and say something like, “Sorry I’ve been away so long, don’t have time to get into what I’ve been up to, but I’d really like to start blogging again, I hope some of my old readers are still here,” but it doesn’t mean anything. They never post again. Sometimes a corpse will move after it’s dead, but it doesn’t mean it’s alive. It’s just kind of scary.

I hope I haven’t scared any of you, incidentally.

No, this blog isn’t dead yet. At least it isn’t completely dead. It’s only mostly dead, and as Billy Crystal taught us in The Princess Bride, there’s a big difference between mostly dead and all-the-way dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. Which means that this will not be my last post ever. Fear not, gentle readers. (Is it kind of rude to say “Fear not” on Halloween? It doesn’t seem to be in keeping with the spirit of the season. Ha ha, I said “spirit.”)

You know what the writing in this post is reminding me of? When you’ve been sitting down for a long time and you get up to start walking again and find that your leg has fallen asleep. Let’s hope things get better as we go on.

Speaking of slightly alive and/or re-animation, I have a Halloween-related anecdote for you. My clogging group had worked up this zombie clogging number, perfect for Halloween entertainment. All we needed was a Halloween gig. Well, one of the gals in the group was throwing a Halloween party and said we should perform there, and since no other Halloween gigs were forthcoming, that was the plan we adopted. We worked very hard to get the number up to performing-in-front-of-other-people level. Even I worked hard. (Incidentally, I can’t tell you how awesome it is to be able to tell people, “I’m dancing at a private party this weekend, and I’m having trouble coming up with the right costume.”)

Anyway. I was very excited to do this number because it really is incredibly fun, and let’s face it, who wouldn’t pay cash money to see clogging zombies? (Not that we were charging anybody, but it’s just the principle–who wouldn’t pay, if they had to? Okay, maybe you wouldn’t, but maybe you don’t understand Art.) It was rather challenging, though, to learn all the steps and the formations and everything in time, and it was hard to predict how it would turn out in the end. As I told some friends, I was pretty sure this performance would either be AWESOME or a complete disaster, but either way, it was sure to be comedy gold. (Because–well, really, do I have to say it again? Okay, I will, just because I like to: Clogging Zombies. ZOMBIES. CLOGGING.)

Well, the party was last Saturday. I went as a zombie pirate. I had some difficulty getting the desired effect with the fake blood. Fake blood is not quite as easy to work with as you might think. I’m not sure what I was thinking, actually. But it proved more challenging than I had anticipated. Over the course of working on my I-just-ate-someone’s-liver-possibly-some-intestines look, I discovered that fake blood is also not as temporary as you might think, i.e. it doesn’t just wash off with soap and water. Well. That’s a thing. It’s Saturday night and I have to go to church tomorrow and I’ve got fake blood staining the whole lower part of my face and throat, not to mention my hands, but okay, there are more pressing issues to attend to just now. Issues like actually getting to the party and remembering where my feet are supposed to go when they’re supposed to go there.

I could possibly twist the tale of my drive out  to  the party, which was being held in the middle of nowhere (at a commercial venue, not someone’s house), into something entertaining, but I really don’t have any desire to relive the tedium of that part of the evening. Suffice it to say it was a 25-minute trip that lasted about 55 minutes, most of which was spent driving back and forth within half a mile of the venue’s alleged location. It gets really dark out in the middle of nowhere.  At night, anyway. Which this was. Fortunately, I arrived in plenty of time. I thought that would be the hardest thing I’d have to do all night. Dancing would be a cinch compared to that fiasco.

Gentle readers, how very mistaken I was. Remember what I said about the number being either  AWESOME or a disaster? It was a disaster. A complete disaster. It’s hard to imagine how it could have been worse. If I’d slipped and fallen, I would at least have had an excuse for dancing so poorly. If I’d slipped and fallen and broken my leg, that would have been a bigger tragedy for me personally, but that at least would have distracted from the tragedy that befell our zombie clogging routine. The good news—well, the good news for me personally—was that I was not the only zombie to forget her steps. Even the gal who choreographed the thing forgot the steps at one point. It occurs to me, in retrospect, that the venue itself may have been cursed. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just grasping for something to console me. In any case, it was a disaster. For my part, I would say a near-total disaster. Like, if it had been an act of God, they would have called out FEMA and waived my Stafford requirement. Maybe it was an act of God. Maybe God doesn’t approve of such unnatural things as zombies clogging. Is that a God I want to believe in? Not really, but it’s hard to come up with an alternate explanation at this point.

Needless to say, I was disappointed. Sorely disappointed. Like “I accidentally went trick or treating in a neighborhood full of dentists” disappointed. I couldn’t sleep that night, what with all the disappointment and regret weighing on my mind. I danced that zombie clogging dance a thousand times perfectly in my head while I lay in bed and wished, for the first time in my life, that Halloween came more than once a year.

Because now we’ll have to wait another year before we dance it again, probably. I don’t know. I like to think zombie clogging is something the folks can enjoy in any season, but given that our Christmas gigs are usually at retirement homes, maybe that wouldn’t be so appropriate. Oh, well. There’s always the Rose Festival.

The worst part is that I seriously misjudged the potential for humor, regardless of how the performance turned out. Disaster was not comedy gold. It was not even comedy silver. At best it was comedy bronze—like, you’d have to be mean to find it funny. As I said: Disappointing.

The good news was that on Sunday I was able to cover the evidence of my fake-blood orgy with conventional makeup. So that was a triumph. (I mean, my fingers were still fake-blood stained, but I don’t think anyone noticed. If they did, well, whatever. MY HEART WAS ALREADY BROKEN.)

So tonight is the real Halloween, and it’s pouring rain and doesn’t promise to let up even for an hour between now and tomorrow. Now I am going to slide back into my familiar Halloween-hate mode. I really, really don’t like trick-or-treating in anything but optimal weather conditions, but soggy trick-or-treating is, in my opinion, the worst. I don’t like getting wet. It’s funny that I should love living in Oregon so much, given how little I enjoy getting wet, but that’s another story. Que sera sera. Or c’est la vie. What was I talking about? Which foreign phrase do I need? I guess I was expressing a c’est la vie sentiment, but reaching for a que sera sera attitude.

I don’t think I’m going to bother dressing up tonight, given that I will just get soggy anyway. That reminds me, I need to find my sneakers that I always forget to wear when I’m going to be walking in mud. But back on the subject, the good news is that my kids are all going to look great (right up until they get rained on). Princess Zurg is going to be Evil Red Riding Hood. Mister Bubby is going to be Sgt. Joe Friday. (He opted not to be Bill Gannon, since it doesn’t really work without Friday.) Elvis is going to be a wizard. Girlfriend is going to be a pirate. She put on her costume last night and ran around the house saying, “ARRR, YE SCURVY DOGS!”

That reminds me, the only joke I can ever remember is about a pirate, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell in connection with one’s six-year-old daughter. So maybe another time.

Well, that’s enough for now. I have errands to run and lunch to eat. Mainly lunch to eat, and if I have time, then errands. Gentle readers who haven’t given me up for dead, adieu.

Waiting in line for the Nightwish concert…

Sugar Daddy: Are we getting too old for this?

Madhousewife: Speak for yourself, man.

So last night my husband and I saw Nightwish at the Crystal Ballroom. Nightwish fired their lead singer, like, Monday, so that was a sad bit of news. The good news is that her replacement, Floor Jansen, was very good. She’s built like an Amazon and she has that long hair that swishes around when she does the head-banging thing. You know what a sucker I am for that crap. Well, maybe you don’t, but I am. Maybe that should be my new goal, to grow my hair long enough so it will swish around when I bang my head at metal concerts. That sounds like I’m planning to have some kind of accident at a metal concert. That is not my intention. I don’t know if I’ll ever have swishy hair, though.

Getting back to my story, it was a good concert. This was our third time seeing Nightwish but first time at the Crystal Ballroom. It was a pretty nice venue, but next time I think we should get there earlier so we can get a seat in the balcony. Everything else is standing room only, which would have been fine except that we were surrounded by really tall people. Seriously, I think the average height of the audience was six feet, men and women. I’m only 5’7″, in case you were wondering. Five-seven doesn’t usually count as “short,” but I certainly felt short last night. Every time we got a clear view of the stage, some giant would move in front of us. One time a wall of giants got in front of us. Seriously, freakishly tall people want to see Nightwish perform. It’s a problem.

The opening act was Kamelot, a band I was not particularly familiar with. I went in with low expectations because, well, “Kamelot”? With a K. Really? But they were pretty good, I thought. SD didn’t think they played a very good show. But they sold a very cool t-shirt, so he bought it. He didn’t buy a Nightwish shirt because they only had one design and he didn’t want us to be twinsies. He’s funny about that.

What else can I tell you? Oh. I’m sorry, I’m super distracted today. You’ll just have to put up with me. I know what you’re all wondering, just sitting on the edge of your seats with bated breath: Did Nightwish deliver, or did Nightwish deliver? Oh, Nightwish delivered, gentle readers. Substitute lead singer notwithstanding. She wasn’t like those non-union refs they were using in the NFL. If there were a metal vocalist union, I’m sure she would be in it. (Who knows if there is or not? These are Scandinavians we’re talking about.) So they put on a great show, as usual. I only have two complaints:

1. No encore. (What the what? )

2. “7 Days to the Wolves”–DENIED.

watch?v=Ro0R_MxwwRs

Naturally, you can imagine how let down I felt. So I guess, yes, technically, Nightwish delivered. I can’t deny their delivery, which was unambiguous. It was an awesome show. It just wasn’t the FULL awesome that it could have been if they had played our favorite song.

I mean, play it. I defy you to name something more awesome than an epic metal song about the threat of wolves devouring us. Go ahead. I dare you!

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Aaaaaaaaaaaand here it is, Wednesday. I went to the dentist today. The teeth are fine. They complimented me on my superior dental hygiene again. Granted, people with braces inevitably get graded on a curve, but still. I don’t have many victories anymore. I like to savor my little self-esteem boosts. Sue me. No, don’t sue me really–I don’t have time to deal with your frivolous lawsuits. I am too busy brushing!

Tonight we have Back to School Night at the high school. I’m not sure I want to go back to school at the high school. It’s really big and crowded. And now all the parents will be there–so twice as crowded, in theory. (But probably not in reality.) The good news is that they might have enough parking. Yeah, that’s the best I can do. I’m not looking forward to it. It promises to be Snoozeville.

The really good news is that Princess Zurg is doing very well at high school now, after her rocky–nay, horrific–start. We had her IEP meeting a couple weeks ago, and her case manager remarked on her miraculous turnaround. We have tweaked her schedule since then. Originally we enrolled her in LDS seminary for one period–I know that sounds crazy, like “why would you do that, Madhousewife?” “I don’t know, it just seemed like a good idea at the time”–well, at the time it did seem like that. At least not a completely horrible idea. PZ may have a complicated relationship with her religion, but she very rarely misses youth activities at the church because she likes being able to socialize. And since most LDS students take seminary (we have so many Mormons here, they do it on a release-time schedule during the school day, in place of study hall), we thought she might want to be there with her peers and maybe meet some new kids in a possibly-more-relaxed-than-Sunday-School environment. Everybody said the teacher was really great and blah blah, but whatever. It didn’t work out for PZ. Not that she really gave it the old college try, but I only wanted her in there if she was going to enjoy it, and clearly she was not of a mind to enjoy it, so now she is taking PE instead. Ha! Okay, that’s only funny if you know how much PZ hates PE. Well, let me tell you: she hates it. But not more than she hates seminary.

Also, if you have to take PE, you may as well take it the semester when you’ll be coming into it a month late.

Apparently, they have two different PE classes–one that focuses more on team-sport activities, and this one she’s taking, which is called “Fitness Movement,” whatever that means. She has to take two semesters of PE, which, I don’t know, I’m happy for her, but man oh man, it does trigger my “In MY day…” reflex. Because in MY day we had to have SIX semesters of PE, and there was only one kind of PE class and it was called “Four-and-a-Half Months of Volleyball with a Smattering of Softball and Tennis Mixed In If Your Teacher Is Feeling Ambitious.” Six semesters! I’m still bitter about it, I admit it. I can’t get over. I don’t think I ever will. But I’m glad that my kids don’t have to suffer the same thing. Budget cuts–they’re good for something after all!

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Well, my housekeepers are here so I’m going to stop typing and leave you with an Elvis story. We’ve been working on Elvis’s reading comprehension skills. This is the conversation SD had with him after book time the other night.

SD: Elvis, does Amelia Bedelia make good decisions?

Elvis (laughs). No!

SD: What does she do?

Elvis: She makes cookies.

Gentle readers, adieu.

So I went to the eye doctor last month. I knew my eyesight had deteriorated (further) over the last year, which is to be expected when you get old and start wearing glasses and your eyes realize they don’t have to work as hard as they used to. It’s like when I (tried to) learn how to drive on a manual transmission, and then when I finally drove an automatic, I thought, “Why would anyone want to drive a stick? This is ridiculously so much easier!” (By the way, I still can’t drive a stick. I know how to drive a stick. I’ve just never managed to actually drive one–and I haven’t been interested in practicing since my parents bought their first car with automatic transmission, when I was 18. I’m digressing. I’ll stop. Put it in reverse, as it were.) As soon as I broke down and got reading glasses, my eyes thought, “Good grief, why would anyone not wear glasses? This is awesome!” And my eyes have been going downhill ever since.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Historically, up until now, I have had excellent distance vision. I only need to wear glasses for close work. I don’t need them to watch TV. I don’t need them to drive. When I start needing them for driving, I’m probably going to have to learn to drive all over again because glasses really mess with your peripheral vision. Anyway. I noticed with my last prescription that I was basically using my right eye to see up close and my left eye to see far away. I didn’t need my glasses for distance vision, but when I wore them, my vision was improved all around. There was no ignoring that. Since I didn’t need to wear them all the time, though, I chose not to wear them all the time, because as much of a pain as it was to take them on and off, it was more of a pain to have them on all the time and have them constantly sliding off, which they tended to do a lot. I seriously thought about getting one of those old-lady-librarian chains for them. (And by “seriously,” I mean I knew I never would but I still thought it would be really convenient if I did.) Plus there was the driving thing.

Anyway. Nearly 400 words later I’m almost at my point. This last visit with the eye doctor, it became clear that I was in that awkward stage between needing single-vision eyeglasses and needing bifocals/progressives. I have not been particularly eager to start wearing progressives because they sound like a pain. And then there’s the driving thing. Plus, I can still see without my glasses. I don’t wear them most of the time. So I figured I could get away with one more single-vision prescription, and next year I would probably have to start wearing progressives. I mean, my doctor and I sort of came to that conclusion together. At least it seemed that way. My eye doctor, thankfully, is not one of those medical professionals who empower their patients so much that you come out of there with no idea what their professional medical opinion is. So he gave me another single-vision prescription, and last week I finally got around to filling it.

Actually, I tried to fill it the week before, but the Lenscrafters, which is supposed to get you quality eyeglasses in about an hour, had to special-order my lenses, so it ended up being quality eyeglasses in about ten days. But that’s another thing.

I got new frames this time, too, since the old ones, which I loved, were getting too old. The new frames are quite different. They’re more Tina Fey than Sarah Palin. (My husband helped me pick them out, so I have to use his sexy-librarian scale.) They also stay on my face better, I’ve noticed, so that’s a huge improvement. The new lenses, on the other hand, I am not appreciating so much. Near vision is certainly improved. Distance vision, on the other hand, is completely out the window. Which is to be expected when you increase the…whatever you do to improve near vision. Maybe one of you gentle readers is an optometrist or an optometry hobbyist and can help me out here. My doctor warned me about this, in any case. I guess I just didn’t realize that once I put on my new glasses, I would literally not be able to see anything clearly beyond six feet. It is incredibly annoying. Talk about taking your glasses on and off. I put them on to see something close, and then I look up to see something not actually that far away, but it’s blurry and so I have to take off my glasses when I look up, but since I was just wearing my glasses everything is blurry and I have to wait for my eyes to readjust before I can see something (relatively) clearly six feet away.

I’m thinking maybe I should have sprung for the stupid progressives this year. Or maybe I just need to get used to these new glasses. When I first put them on, my depth perception was all screwy. That’s started to improve. Or maybe that just means my eyesight has descended to the level of my prescription. Whatever. It’s troubling, in any case.

However, I look awesome in these frames, which is good since I’m stuck with them for two years before I get a new frame allowance.

There’s a smudge in front of my left eye right now, and it’s really bugging me, but I’m too lazy to get up and fetch my microfiber cloth. I wonder if looking through the smudge is hurting my eye. Ha ha. (Maybe it is.)

Speaking of glasses and reading, and not needing glasses to watch TV, I recently finished the second season of Downton Abbey, a show I had only been vaguely interested in starting, but once I started I couldn’t stop. And now there’s nothing left of it, until season 3 becomes available in the U.S. I guess in England they don’t say “season 3,” they say “series 3” or something, but I’m not English, nor am I the sort of person who pretends to be English, except that I sometimes spell gray “grey” and theater “theatre.” (Doesn’t “theatre” just look more theatrical? Doesn’t “grey” look more, well, grey?) Where was I? Oh, right. Downton Abbey. Crap, I love that show. I haven’t watched the trailer for the new season (or series–the new bunch of episodes, whatever they’re called) because I don’t want spoilers and also I can’t seem to find it. (A combination of poor Googling skills and an aversion to spoilers.)

In the meantime, I’m getting these Facebook ads that say, “Love Downton Abbey? Read this book!” and it’s some romance novel about the naughty magistrate or something. I don’t know. I don’t remember. I mean, I’m not going to pretend I didn’t look at it. I did. It just didn’t seem like my cuppa. It also didn’t seem very Downton-y. I don’t think it was even the same time period. (I mean, Victorian, Edwardian–it matters! Actually, it probably doesn’t, to me, but still, it’s the principle.) But I figured, you know, librarians and book publishers have to be cashing in on this Downton Abbey craze, so there’s got to be a list of better recommendations out there. So my inferior Googling skills have led me to some interesting places. Turns out there’s a lot of Downton Abbey-inspired reading lists, but they’re all basically the same list, which is disappointing, considering how many books are out there. Come on!

I’ve also discovered, over the course of my inadequate Googling, the Downton Abbey fanfic archives. I’m not really interested in Downton Abbey fan fiction–not because I’m above fan fiction because I’m not. I’ve read more X-Files fan fiction than I care to admit to. (Shut up, some of it is good!) But, you know, I have my limits. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but I didn’t read Buffy fanfic. I love Jane Austen, but I’m not going to read Austen fanfic. That would be lame. Not that I’m not lame, but as I said, I have my limits. That I discovered Downton Abbey fanfic was not surprising. There’s fan fiction for The Golden Girls. If you can think of it, there’s fanfic for it. What surprised me was that there was so much slashfic, and most of it femslash. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising. But seriously, every lesbian combination of Downton Abbey characters you can think of–I admit that a couple surprised me. (Maybe more than a couple.) Well, of course I read it. I’m just kidding, I didn’t really. But I had you going there, didn’t I? No, I opted instead for a cheap Kindle download of a book about English aristocrat characters that couldn’t be ruined for me. (You know how I am.)

Well, I have to take my kids to see Finding Nemo. I’ve never seen Nemo in the theater–or the theatre (or the cinema, or whatever the English call it)–so I’m very excited because it’s one of my favorite movies ever. (Incidentally, I have never read any Nemo fan fiction either. I just thought I should make that clear. Nor have I Googled reading lists for books similar to Finding Nemo. I don’t have some weird fish thing. I just like the movie. And I will only be wearing 3-D glasses when I see it.)

I am usually the last to learn about stuff that has gone viral. Except for actual viruses. Those I am usually ahead of the curve on. Anyway, I was just reading about this auto-tuned mash-up tribute to Mr. Rogers, “Garden of Your Mind.” So I watched the video, and the audio portion is fine. I love Mr. Rogers’ soothing voice, even when auto-tuned. The video, however, I do not appreciate. One of the great virtues of Mr. Rogers’s  television show was that it proceeded at a relaxed pace, using a single camera, and allowed the viewer to really imagine that they were right there in old Fred’s living room or walking alongside him in his neighborhood, seeing the action unfold like they would in real life–not like if they were watching it on MTV.

[Wordpress doesn’t want to embed video for me today, so you can watch it here.]

The images in this video come at you so fast and most only last for a second or two. Mr. Rogers seems less like a real person and more like a space alien whose signal is being scrambled. (Granted, the auto-tune doesn’t help in that department.) I understand that it’s an affectionate tribute–someone’s labor of love, which is why it’s almost painful to criticize. But it was also too painful for me to watch. I wouldn’t show it to a young child for fear of its effect on their attention span.

 

Princess Zurg: Mom, if they have drugs so it doesn’t hurt to have a baby, why did you give birth without them four times?

Madhousewife: Well, with Mister Bubby and Girlfriend, by the time I got to the hospital, it was too late for me to take anything.

PZ: So what about the other times?

Mad: Um… [long, rambling explanation that makes little sense]

PZ: I am never having sex.

Mad: That’s a good plan.

PZ: Or if I do, I’m going to make the guy wear a condom. EVERY. TIME. No exceptions!

Mad: That’s the correct method.

Mister Bubby: What’s a condom?

Mad: It’s a form of birth control.

MB: What’s that?

Mad: It keeps the woman from getting pregnant.

MB: How?

Mad: It stops the sperm from going in the woman’s body.

MB: What??? What’s the point?!?

Mad: [laughing]

PZ: [laughing]

MB: Why would you do it if you aren’t even gonna have a kid?

PZ: Because it’s fun?

MB: PZ, you’re a pervert!

PZ: I am not!

MB: A selfish pervert.

PZ: I don’t KNOW that it’s fun! I’ve HEARD that it’s fun. People SAY it’s fun.

Mad: [laughing]

MB: The only reason I wouldn’t have a baby is my crotch would split open.

Mad: That’s a valid reason.

MB: You have an expandable crotch–I don’t.

Mad: [No argument]

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Moving to a completely different subject…

MB is a big fan and loyal patron of Netflix. (Yes, I’m sure this is a different subject.) He has discovered many of his favorite shows on there–Man vs. Food, MythBusters, Storage Wars, etc. His current obsession is Quincy, M.E. Our babysitter got him hooked on it, and now he has to watch it every day. At some point during the afternoon, he announces, “Time for Quincy!” and sits down for 51 minutes of Jack Klugman fighting crime. (They had way fewer commercials in the 1970s.) What I love is that it’s on Netflix, so he can watch it any time, but he just decides that it’s time for Quincy. He makes himself a snack and grooves to the theme song. Because Quincy rocks.

At the end of the day sometimes, he likes to tell me what happened on Quincy today. Like the time there was somebody going around choking people to death. A strangler? I ask. Yes, that. And he was going to strangle Quincy, but Quincy got him at a pressure point so he couldn’t move. Because Quincy’s that awesome.

Then there was the time Quincy thought a couple of high school kids were going to kill each other in this football game, so he goes down to the football field to stop the game, and one of the football players says, “We don’t want you here, old man!” and Quincy grabs the kid by the shirt and says, “Well, I guess you’re just going to have to penalize me fifteen yards for unnecessary roughness!” and throws him across the field.

When you think about it, there’s no reason why this wouldn’t appeal to an eleven-year-old boy. They just don’t make shows like this anymore. Which is a crying shame.

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The anniversary report

We had a cub scout pack meeting last night (Elvis got his Wolf badge), so Sugar Daddy and I celebrated fifteen years together by having lunch earlier in the day, and then after the kids went to bed, we sneaked out and went to the Denny’s. It’s a long story. Actually, it isn’t long. We went to Denny’s on our first date fifteen-and-a-half years ago. (November 22, 2006 1996.) Not for dinner, don’t worry. Just for ice cream. So anyway, it’s sort of our tradition to go to Denny’s on our anniversaries. We don’t always go to Denny’s every anniversary. Just when the mood strikes us. And when there’s a Denny’s to go to. Anyway, on our first date I had a hot fudge sundae. I probably should have stuck with that. Instead I had a banana split. And french fries. Because I just felt like having french fries. Let me tell you something forty-one-year-old women can’t do at ten o’clock at night: eat a banana split with french fries. I mean, clearly they can–I could. I did. But just as clearly, they should not. I shouldn’t have. The memories of this fifteenth anniversary will be with me for quite some time. Quite possibly mementos of this anniversary (in the form of wider hips) will also be with me. It sure feels that way this morning.

Then on the way home we discussed ways in which we can help our fourteen-year-old lose weight.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

We really did that.

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I was afraid, on Monday, that I might be getting strep throat. After I said that all I have to do (besides practice a lot) before my big clogging performance on Saturday is not get sick! My throat was feeling pretty streppy. Then I took some ibuprofen. And when I woke up in the morning it was much better. I’m still worried about being sick, but not so much about having strep. Strep has a way of not getting better just with ibuprofen. (Who needs med school with these powers of deduction? Not to mention eight seasons of Quincy on Netflix.) I should rest. And yet I also have to practice. Practice, rest. Rest, practice. Which do you recommend I do first? What would Quincy have me do?

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[Wordpress isn’t letting me embed video right now, so you’ll have to click over here for the ending.]

I’ve had this song on my mind for the last 24 hours. I heard it for the first time a couple weeks ago, on my way to my orthodontist appointment. The radio station was having one of those contests where they play a snippet of a song and if you know what the song is based on that little snippet, then you win. Anyway, I would not have won because I’d never heard this song before in my life. And I like to think I know a lot of obscure ’80s music. A humbling experience, to be sure.

“If I Had a Rocket Launcher” by Bruce Cockburn

Nor had I ever heard of Bruce Cockburn. Apparently he’s Canadian. Maybe he’s big in Canada. I don’t know. I apologize for my ignorance if he’s, like, Canada’s most beloved musical superstar. No insult to Canada intended! It’s a good song. I was almost late for my orthodontist appointment because I was just sitting in my car in the parking lot listening to it, mostly out of curiosity. Because how does a song called “If I Had a Rocket Launcher” not make you curious? But I wasn’t late. Everything turned out fine. Happy ending for me–unlike the poor folks in this song, which was inspired by Mr. Cockburn’s visits to Guatemalan refugee camps.

So, yeah, I’ve been randomly singing about having a rocket launcher since yesterday and thinking, you know, there just aren’t a lot of songs about rocket launchers, hypothetical or otherwise. It does remind me of other songs about rockets.

Like this one.

“Rocket Man” by Elton John


I’m not sure how I feel about this song. I’m not going to hear it on the radio and cry, “‘Rocket Man’! All right!” and crank it up and sing along. But it’s still a good song. Makes one reminisce about the days when Elton John’s music wasn’t crap. My favorite part has always been the second verse: Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids/In fact it’s cold as hell/And there’s no one there to raise them/If you did. Because it’s true–Mars sounds cool, but no one ever thinks about the children.

While I was in college they (of the mysterious “Them”) released an album of Elton John songs covered by other artists, and “Rocket Man” was done by Kate Bush. I thought it would be great because I’m a Kate Bush fan and this seemed like the perfect song for her, but her version was actually pretty boring, I thought. Not much pizzazz at all. Unlike this song by her, which I think is really cool. It features David Gilmour on guitar, if that’s any inducement to listen. If you don’t know who David Gilmour is, then I suppose it isn’t any inducement at all.

“Rocket’s Tail” by Kate Bush


So I was wondering what other songs I knew about rockets, and I was reminded of this song, which I guess isn’t technically about a rocket but about rocketing, since “rocket” is used as a verb.

“Rocket 2 U” by The Jets

Ever wonder what he means by “rocket” in this context? Yeah, me neither. Never been a big fan of this song, although the video is delightfully eighty-licious. Pure trivia moment: The Jets were a bunch of Mormon kids. Which is the sort of factoid that makes you go, “Huh.” Anyway, this is where my Mormon-ness pays its Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon-esque dividends because back before I got married, my (Mormon) roommate’s (Mormon) boyfriend was roommates with one of those (Mormon) guys from the Jets. I don’t know which one. I wasn’t a big Jets aficionado, so I didn’t didn’t know the difference between one and another and didn’t really care. I never actually had occasion to meet him. It was just another factoid that made me go, “Huh.” For what it’s worth, I think he was supposed to be a nice guy. But they were probably all nice. I mean, they certainly seem wholesome enough (all talk of “rocketing” that they can do “all night” notwithstanding).

But thinking about the act of “rocketing” reminded me of this song by Bob Geldof, his first musical venture after Live Aid, not remotely related to Africa.

“Love Like a Rocket” by Bob Geldof

While watching this video, two things came to mind. Actually, three things.

1. Could it be any more obvious that they’re miming?
2. Bob Geldof looks uncomfortable.
3. This isn’t that great a song.

Which last thing is interesting because I remembered liking it back in the day. Maybe I just wanted to like it because I felt Bob Geldof had earned the right to some non-humanitarian success. And what has become of Bob Geldof these days? I was about to look him up, but then I thought it would probably be a better idea to find out what’s become of Ethiopia.

The comments section is open for your comments about songs about rockets.

Mister Bubby: It was hard enough getting the shoes in my backpack, so I’m just taking the fur and the belt as a carry-on.

Madhousewife: What shoes are you taking?

MB: My church shoes. What do you think? I’m in a play. I’m Leif Erickson. Vikings didn’t wear Nikes!

Mad: They didn’t?

MB: Nikes weren’t even around in those days!

Mad: They weren’t?

MB: Mom, this play may be fake, but it will teach you something. Humph!

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Girlfriend is home sick today, so she is relaxing by watching Blue’s Clues. Unfortunately, it is TV Turn-off Week, so she isn’t lying on the couch watching it on the big-screen TV. She is crumpled in a chair watching it on the computer because she is convinced that that won’t count. I don’t have the heart to tell her that it actually does. Also, I don’t care. TV Turn-off Week bugs me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment. We should all watch less TV (except for those of us who already don’t watch any). I just don’t like being told when I’m supposed to turn my TV off. Maybe I celebrated TV Turn-off Week last week. Maybe I’ve been celebrating it for the last six weeks straight, but this week I feel like watching old MST3Ks on the Netflix. Is that any of your concern? No! Have I been celebrating TV Turn-off Week for the last six weeks, or any of the last six weeks? No, technically–but theoretically I could have, and anyway, it’s still none of your business.

The school invites us all to observe TV Turn-off Week and sends home this form for me to sign off on which days my child has not watched TV. Every child who participates gets a prize. I think it’s a pencil or something. I dunno. Who cares? I think Mister Bubby managed to not watch TV for the whole week last year, but he has no enthusiasm for the project this year. Girlfriend has had one TV-free day this week. Or at least she said it was TV-free. Obviously, I have since found out that she has a letter-of-the-law approach. Oh well, I’ve already signed off on it. Because I don’t care! I’m not going to let The Man dictate my media choices. Even if it means teaching my daughter that it’s okay to be dishonest sometimes? Well, yeah, I guess so. I don’t care!

You know what gets me about TV Turn-off Week? Aside from the implication that our family is addicted to TV and we need outside help to get us to turn it off? They send home this sheet of paper with the “rules,” and list all the things that count as watching TV. Watching a video or DVD counts. Watching something on the internet counts. I think under “video games” it says, “Ask your parents.” (Well, thank you sooooo much for the vote of confidence in my parental judgment.) But watching a movie at the movie theater doesn’t count. (What if you have a movie theater in your own home? HMMM?) And watching TV at school doesn’t count because that’s school. Hypocrites!

Well, these days MB likes to unwind after school by watching National Geographic documentaries on Netflix. No, for real. The other day he was telling me all about the situation in North Korea. (It’s bad.) That’s educational. That’s like school–or does it only count as school if it’s government-approved television-watching? Hypocrites! Totalitarians!

I’m still grumpy from Tuesday when I had to pack Elvis a “zero-waste” lunch in honor of Earth Day. It wasn’t a big deal, but my husband thought it was ironic that they had to kill trees making the flyers notifying us of Zero-Waste Lunch Day. (Not only did they send home a notification on paper, but they sent two! Tree overkillers!) And of course I’m freshly irritated at the advent of TV Turn-off Week, so naturally it rubbed me wrong that they were once again deciding for me when I should be a responsible earth citizen. When my child goes on a field trip and has to pack a sack (made of paper!) lunch, they tell me everything I pack in it must be disposable. So it’s okay to hurt the earth when it’s convenient for them. Hypocrites!

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Sugar Daddy: I’ve figured out the perfect frivolous thing to do with my prize money. When Rhapsody of Fire comes to town, they’ll be selling VIP tickets. So for an extra $150 per person, we can hang out with the band before the show and we can go to the after-party. Won’t that be awesome?

Mad: But Luca Turilli’s not even in the band anymore.

SD: No, but there’s still Fabio Lione and Alex Staropoli!

Mad: Do we even want to go to an after-party?

SD: I don’t know. I’ve never been to an after-party.

Mad: It could just be drunken debauchery.

SD: Probably. But it’ll be drunken debauchery with Rhapsody of Fire.

Mad: Your point is well taken.

You know who I find attractive?

This guy.

I was just thinking of him the other day. Never mind why. I didn’t know his name. I’ve always just thought of him as “the guy who plays the cheerleader’s dad on Heroes.” I was never super-into Heroes. I don’t think I finished watching the second season. I dunno. I might have. It wasn’t very good. But anyway, I was thinking of him and didn’t know his name, so I Googled him–because I’ve been known to do that with the handsome men. I probably don’t have to tell you that. So I found out his name is Jack Coleman, and then I Googled the Google images of Jack Coleman, and what appears before my eyes?

This guy.

Yikes. That is to say, wow, that was not what I was expecting. Yes, that is Jack Coleman as he appeared on Dynasty twenty-something years ago. I never watched Dynasty. And yes, I understand that I missed out. What was I watching instead of Dynasty? Probably some great show that went off the air because it got killed in the ratings by Dynasty. That’s neither here nor there. I never watched Dynasty, so I never knew Jack Coleman as this hunky, eighty-licious doofus. I do not find this version of Jack Coleman attractive. It might be the haircut. The haircut is really bad. I mean, it’s almost emasculating. But I actually think it’s his youth that’s the real problem. The intervening years have made his face much more interesting. Without the crinkles around his eyes and the other tell-signs of aging, he’s just another thin-lipped punk in a polo shirt. A turquoise polo shirt. Yegh.

I think that men, generally, tend to get handsomer as they get older. Their faces have more character. Of course, there is a point at which the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Paul Newman was always handsome–he stayed handsome for a disgustingly long time–but was he more handsome at 80 or at 60? I’d say 60, no contest. (No offense, Paul Newman. I hope that in the afterlife, you are perpetually 45-50.) And there are exceptions. Robert Redford is always the first one that springs to my mind, but now that I look at pictures of him, I think I may be holding him to an impossibly high standard. (The Paul Newman standard.)

I think women also get better-looking as they get older, but the age at which they stop looking great and start looking great-for-their-age is much lower than for men. This is probably some kind of sexist crap that I’ve internalized and have no control over. It does pretty much suck. I have to say, though, that I feel more attractive at 40 than I felt at 20 (or 30), but I don’t know if that translates to actually being more attractive. I have to think it does, to some extent. I’m more comfortable in my skin metaphorically, even if the skin itself has seen better days. That has to have some positive effect, or at least a compensating effect.

On the other hand, I’m finally getting my teeth fixed and my jaw properly aligned, so maybe I really will be more attractive in my middle age than I was in my youth. Maybe skin tone is overrated.

Who do you think has gotten better looking with age? Who is aging poorly? Do you think you’re aging well or not?

I’m asking because I have nothing left to say. Also, I’m feeling kind of shallow today.

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