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Monday, July 31, 2006

I'm Not Every Woman

It seems I couldn't visit very many blogs the past few weeks without reading all about the upcoming (but now past tense) BlogHer festivities. Blog who? BlogHer. Blog her? I hardly know her! Ahh, I kill me.

Just their slogan alone taunts me: BlogHer- Where The Women Bloggers Are

Apparently I am no longer a woman, nor a blogger. Discuss.

But seriously, I have a confession to make.

I am jealous of all the BlogHer attendees.

Many of them seemed to have oodles of fun preparing for the festivities and blogging about the chance to meet some of their favorite bloggers, as well as the potential to meet bloggers they had never "met" before, online or otherwise. In 24 hours you could potentially get more mingling done than any search engine or blogroll could give you.

Take that Blog Explosion.

Reading about the event took me back a bit to the prom days of high school. I remember the girls were all abuzz about who was going with who and who was wearing what. But I never went to my junior prom, my senior prom or anyone else's proms for that matter. I do remember being invited to one though, but it was the desperate measures of the alcoholic boyfriend of a friend who wanted to be dating somebody else so really, that didn't count.

But back to BlogHer.

One thing that I really dig about the BlogHer movement, for lack of a better term, is how much it took off. I also really think it's cool that a lot of the BlogHer blogs have been blogging for good causes. I think I need to get into that more. I see people blogging for charities and whatnot and that seems worthwhile. I also feel bad because so many of my blogging friends have posts that ask their readers to sponsor them. But as a reader of many blogs, how do you choose who to sponsor? I know Screech from Saved By The Bell would graciously take my dime, but something tells me I can dream for bigger things.

I also like that BlogHer, while clearly about sistas doing it for themselves, is not a man bashing event. In fact, many men were also planning on attending.

The fact of the matter is to all you BlogHer attendees, I applaud you. I don't know if I'd have the courage to fly halfway across the country to meet people I've only met online. That's what the freaky IRC kids did in college, not regular people like you and me.

But times they are a changin' and braver bloggers than I took that leap and didn't look back.

Maybe next year I'll be lucky enough to find a Thelma to my Louise, a Skipper to my Barbie or even a Captain to my Tenille and take this act on the road.

Until then, I'll be known as the wallflower blog, proudly practicing my dance moves to the African Cultural Hour in my kitchen.
Sunday, July 30, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Half Baked"

Before I begin talking about TITMT recipes, I have to ask something. Lately I have noticed that I have been getting a lot of traffic through Google image searches.

Juliette Lewis. Sean Astin. Kirk Cameron is a particularly popular search.

And here's the other thing, those searches? Are almost always from a foreign country! I suppose it wouldn't be that weird if someone was just searching for a good picture of Julia Roberts, but I feel bad when they might not be able to read what they are finding. Maybe that's why they are coming back everyday. They are trying to learn English from my posts, too.

I thought for sure once or twice would be enough for these people, but I am gettingmultiple hits for the same "celebrities" every day. And I don't write about them all the time. All I have to do is mention them once or twice and poof, traffic for life. I mean I've always gotten random hits before, but this has been ridiculous. Not that I'm complaining, I'm just saying. Does this happen to anyone else?


Ok, moving on to the topic at hand- cooking. On Tuesday I asked you to tell me some of your favorite recipes. 27 of you replied, 6 of which were you guys admitting that you didn't actually know how to cook. Commenting anyway takes chops. Or it means you won't be marinating any pork chops. Either way.

As for the rest of you, I did receive some great new recipes, but I wanted to take this opportunity to explain something to you on behalf of the brave novices listed above who may or may not want to try cooking something one day.

You cannot be vague when you are giving a recipe.


I don't understand this mentality. For instance, if I ask you what your favorite recipe is and you say you like lasagna this, people IS NOT a recipe. All you did is merely tell me a food you enjoy. Some people might not cook, but that doesn't mean they don't eat! The last time I checked the TITMT question wasn't what is your favorite food, it was what is your favorite recipe.

Then there are the chefs who are one step above nonchalantly mentioning the foods they like to make. These people will tell you the ingredients you need, but never the details like how much, how long or how many. Old school cooks are notorious for this. If you get a recipe from my grandmother and you ask her how much say, pepper to put in, she looks at you like you are crazy and says "enough". A pinch of this, a dash of that, cook it till it's ready type people...you know the kind I'm talking about. These people do NOT help out the cook by numbers variety who like to follow steps. If they wanted to experiment, they wouldn't be going to you for guidance.

Since I knew I wasn't going to get to try and make any of your recipes in time for this weekend's Write Back, I thought I'd tell you the story of the recipe I did make this week. I went to a luau yesterday at my cousin's house and wanted to bring a side dish. My boyfriend's mom makes a very good tuna with macaroni salad that I wanted to try and make. Incidentally, my mom makes one too, but there's one or two differing ingredients that I wanted to hunker down on.

I called up my bf's mom to get the recipe and quickly noticed she falls under old school, halfway cookers I mentioned above. This is what she told me I needed:

2 cans of tuna, any kind I prefer, but at least one should probably be in oil
elbow macaroni
finely chopped onion
finely chopped pepper
parsley
mayonnaise
salt and pepper

Boil the macaroni. Add more mayonnaise then you think it needs. Add all of the other ingredients and mix.

Now that seems like a simple enough recipe, right? And easy to follow, too?

Only once you actually go to make it do you realize you still have questions:

1. How much onion?
2. How much pepper?
3. Do you fry the onion and pepper or put them in raw?
4. Do you need to use the oil from the one can of tuna?
5. Does the parsley need to be fresh?
6. Is this stuff I bought parsley?
7. Why is it so damn hard to finely chop these things?

The lesson here is that people who have been cooking for ages take a lot of their cutting corners for granted. You can't assume because yes, it makes an ass out of u and me, but you also shouldn't assume because quite frankly, it just isn't nice.

So I'm gonna use some tough love on you people. I counted 13, hard core, detailed recipes in there, all of which I am going to try at some point or another. I also learned that according to half of those recipes, I apparently really need to go out and purchase and embrace the joy of owning a crock pot.

So if you are one of the thirteen, you will most likely see your recipe on here one day. Of course, I can't tell you exactly when it will be coming.

After all, a watched pot post never boils.
Thursday, July 27, 2006

I Can't Help Myself

Ever since I was a little kid I have been obsessed with the plight of everyday people. Of course I apply a certain distance to this obsession. This is why I still don't choose to watch the news or read the paper. All of that would be too realistic. Instead I would opt for safer bets like afterschool specials and early episodes of the Real World. You know, when people were still like, real.

But lately I have found myself having a soft spot for the hard hitting A&E documentary known simply as Intervention.

The program is exactly as the title says. Each week they feature one or two different real life people who have serious, serious issues that make the people on the Real World look ten times crazier than they already do. I know you didn't think it was possible, but it's true.

In fact, the way you can tell how messed up that week's installment is going to be is by whether or not you share your hour with somebody else. If you manage to get a whole hour devoted to you and your problems alone, you are vying for the crown of king or queen of interventions to end all interventions. So in a way, it's a lot like the Celebrity DeathMatch of Inteventions.

The way they rope the people is this- they tell them that they are making a real life documentary about them and their addiction. They do not know that their family and/or friends are secretly scheming to intervene roughly 38 minutes into the program. Essentially, it's a really morbid version of Candid Camera. The participants honestly believe the camera crew is just going to follow them around a few weeks and then say sayonara.

And the fact that they believe this is just another sign these people are severly unglued.

I've tried to figure out for months why I am so taken with Intervention. Recently I've equated it with the innate feeling we all get from time to time, also known as "Curious George car crash syndrome". This is the part of you, of everyone, that slows down or stops and tries to see what is going on when something obviously went very wrong. We know that whatever we see (or hear) is not going to be pleasant, far from it, but something inside of us compels us to seek it out anyhow. Incidentally it's all the same reason shows like the Real World have remained so successful for all of these years.

While the problems themselves vary from everything from various drug addictions to gambling to even shopping, there almost always is one common denominator. After we get a brief glimpse into the subject's everyday lives there is ALMOST ALWAYS a loved one who sadly says, "It wasn't supposed to be this way", or something of the sort.

This is when the flashback segue kicks into high gear. This is also usually when they get me cause as anyone woman will tell ya, the way to heartstrings is good old fashioned slow motion flashback sequence.

You see that no matter what these people's problems are, that usually they didn't start out of the blue. They were abused. They dealt with a lot of loss. They were unloved etc, etc. I find this part so fascinating because it only goes to show you that the majority of messed up people wouldn't be so messed up if life would just leave them the hell alone.

By the end of the episode the participant is crying. The family and friends are crying and then before you know it, I am crying. From day to day I don't find myself to be an overly emotional girl, but the idea that someone who once was lost is now found, someone who is blind can now see is definitely amazing to me.

At the very, very end of every episode we get my absolute favorite part- the update. This I have decided is one thing that is lacking in make believe tv and thus, why reality television has ruled the airwaves the past decade or so. This is because reality tv is full of real life people you can follow up on after the show is over. There are reunions. There are Google searches. There is My Space. In short, the days of wondering where someone is now are long over.

With fictional characters you can't do that. Sure you wonder what happened to the cute kid who played the nerd in The Breakfast Club, but telling someone he's now the guy on The Dead Zone it just doesn't have the same ring to it.

And in the end the real reality is that not all stories have fairy tale endings. Some of them stay on the road to recovery, while others, Robert Downey Jr. be damned, just can't seem to get it right. It doesn't mean any of these people are bad people, they are just lost souls.

Of course I realize the irony here since as I watch each week I find myself become entirely too obsessed with these people's obsessions. Just you wait. One week there may very well be an intervention episode about my intervention to stop watching intervention.

Who knows? It might even be premeditated by one of you.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Blogs Are Bursting Out All Over

The other day I received an email from a man named Eric Roach who is editor of Pluck.com. Some of you may know where I am going with this but for the rest of you, please read on.

Pluck has started a pet project of sorts called BlogBurst. I figured why should I bother trying to paraphrase what it's all about when I can just call in my good friends, cut and paste:

Pluck has just launched a project which involves a news wire service and syndication network for blogs called BlogBurst. The site is live and we're recruiting bloggers on an invite-only basis to join the system. At its core, BlogBurst is a news service bringing quality blogs onto highly-trafficked, high-brand mainstream publisher sites like the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Houston Chronicle and San Antonio-Express News.

Here is a live example from the San Francisco Chronicle.


I believe your blog is great, and would like to invite you to join our network. Below is an invitation, and I would be happy to answer any questions/address any concerns you may have.

When I first read the email I went through the five stages every blogger does when they receive promising solicitations via email:

1. Disbelief- Wow? These people want to do what with my blog?!
2. Belief- AOGB rocks! Damn right you're plucking ME from obscurity!
3. Skepticism- Wait. I'm just a little blogger in a school of blogs. How did you find ME?
4. Realism- How many other people have been "found"?
5. Pessimism- See "Too Good To Be True".

As any educated blogger knows, the final stage usually doesn't set in until your off to see the wizard, also known as Google. If you type in Google: "blogburst", "Pluck.com" or any combination of the sort, you get a slew of differing news stories and opinions, so much that it made me wonder how I could never have heard about it before. In fact, I thought about linking to some of these articles, but I felt like Kirk Cameron trying to answer fan mail circa 1987. Where to begin?

So here are the facts. BlogBurst's service went live on May 2nd, 2006. Since then a number of blogs have both signed up and been "recruited" for the service. I don't have any statistics, but I have heard of at least a few cases where people have been applied and have been turned down. Overwhelmingly though, I think it's easier to get in than to not get in, not unlike I'd imagine, the religion of Scientology.

Which brings me to the million dollar question, if most people get in, how can you, as The Jeffersons once did, finally get your piece of the pie?

The good news is that BlogBurst has gotten some good press...about good press. I mean they ARE in bed with reputable papers newspapers and by hanging out with Pluck, you are one step closer to sitting with the cool kids in the cafeteria.

On the other hand, hanging out with the cool kids, as we all know, doesn't necessarily make you cool. If you don't believe me, just watch the eighties classic, Can't Buy Me Love.

So let's say, hypothetically the Houston Chronicle links to a post you wrote about shoes. I know, I know. Shoes? Just pretend it was a slow week.

Ok, so they link to your post, or repost your post and give you a byline credit, but they don't give you what every blogger wannabe writer wants C-O-M-P-E-N-S-A-T-I-O-N. Find out what it means to me. It doesn't have the same ring to it, but I'll bet you're picking up what I'm putting down.

Now Pluck and BlogBurst say that they are working on a compensation model, but right now BlogBurst is a beta Baby (Say THAT ten times fast!). So compensation, they say, is in their master plan. Of course this could mean anywhere from six months to six years and six cents to six hundred dollars.

In their defense, Blogburst seems like a very straightforward idea. They are telling you upfront what they are all about and leaving it up to you whether or not you want to join. There's no initation, no streaking through the quad and the first rule about BlogBurst is you are actually allowed to talk about BlogBurst. This is what I am doing right now, and will no doubt, end up being Googled one day by some meandering soul who wants to know what it's all about, like me.

Bottom line is I will probably join and see what it brings my way, but I still want to hear what you guys think about it. So if any of you have been recruited for the program or just know someone who has, I'd be interested in hearing what you think. I'd particularly like to hear from the people who have been with them for awhile and if they see a difference in the traffic they receive.

Since I can't get through to Jesus on this one, I'm asking what you would do.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "It's All Good"

Lately I've been doing a lot of experimenting with cooking. Believe it or not, it's been going pretty well. Of course you'll have to take my word for it as they haven't perfected a way to sample food through the internet....yet.

Therefore my question today to you is the following:

What are some of your favorite recipes?

The easier and quicker the better, remember you are talking to a bit of a novice.

I haven't decided yet how I am going to respond to this one. I may just make some of the recipes posted and include pictures of the final creations.

Assuming there aren't too many cooks in the kitchen, that is.
Sunday, July 23, 2006

Write Back Weekend "What Happens At Bachelor Parties, Stays At Bachelor Parties"

Let me introduce you to my new renter, Two Write Hands. While I definitely had a few good bids, I went with Two Write Hands because she's a twenty something, semi-sarcastically aspiring world famous blogger after my own heart.

I truly hope you won't let me down (insert puppy dog face here) and will go visit her. Lately my readers have put me to shame with the clicks over to renters. Come on y'all. Where's your sense of hospitality?


This week I asked a somewhat controversial TITMT question.

The questions were:

How do you feel about bachelor/bachelorette parties?
Do you think there's a line of what's appropriate and what's inappropriate?
Do you feel differently if your signficant other is going to the event?
Is there a different standard for men and women?


The great thing about my readers (yes, that's you) is that you all think so differently. You don't just look at what the person before you said and go, Yeah, what she said.

So it should only make sense that some of you were really cool with bachelor and bachelorette parties while others of you didn't see the need for them, period.

Now for my take.

I am not married or engaged and I never have been. I have, however, been in a committed relationship for sometime now and I can tell you this. I firmly believe that if the other person is going to cheat, you need not provide them with the opportunity to do so. They will figure out for themselves. In other words, the bachelor/ette party itself, does not breed infidelity in someone who wouldn't have done so under normal circumstances.

Now as some of the girls said, I personally wouldn't want a stripper at my bachelorette party. I'm not saying this in a coy, "No, don't shower me with gifts at a surprise party, but I'd pissed if you didn't" sorta way. I seriously have NO INTEREST in having a sweaty stranger dance up on me under any circumstances. If my friends did this I would actually be PISSED.

No, I'd much rather prefer hanging out with a few of my closest friends, and even a few acquaintances, drinking, eating and just having fun being girls. A good rule of thumb is if the gift came from Spencer's, no matter how fun, chances are I wouldn't want it.

I realize, however, that typically men are a different ball game.

A lot of men do see the bachelor party as their last hurrah! Ironically, the men that attend are often already attached to women, and therefore, have had their own "last hurrah". So in reality, bachelor parties are like the James Brown of exploitive fun. You keep saying it's your last time, until your next friend gets married that is.

Typically in my experience, women bachelorette parties have been much tamer. But then again, you can usually tell the type of party that would potentially be thrown if you a. know your mate and b. know your mate's friends. If your mate is a homebody who has a few close friends and prefers chick flicks to keg stands, then chances are this will spill over to her big night as well.

The one thing you have to watch out for though is "the friends".

More often than not I have seen friends make the big bachelor/ette night more and more about them and less and less about the bride or groom. So if the bride is a tame girl but her best friend isn't, then chances are the best friend will try to inject some of her own preferences into the evening, no matter how loud the protests.

The same goes for the guys.

If we're being honest, most women aren't worried about what their man would do, but they do worry about the man's friends. This is because your man always makes it sounds like his friends are the guilty ones and he's just along for the ride.

And guess what? He's probably telling his girlfriend or wife the exact same thing.

But truth be told, it all comes back to one word TRUST. Your significant other is probably more likely to get into a heap of trouble at a random bar then they are at a strip club.

So let's revisit something I said earlier. I don't believe you have to provide a potential cheater with any opportunity to cheat in order for him or her to cheat. I do, however, think it can have the opposite effect if you do.

Growing up I had two close friends who came from a very strict, very religious family. They weren't allowed to watch many things on tv, listen to certain songs on the radio or stay out late. But by the time these kids reached their teenage years, they rebelled FULL FORCE, becoming FAR WORSE, in my opinion, then they would have been had those things not had such strict limitations early on.

The same adage applies to relationships. I believe if you so strictly place things off limits that is just a breeding ground for your significant other to subconsciously want to seek it out. Looking at magazines like Penthouse and Playboy does not make your man want to cheat, but not being able to look does make them want to touch.

In general, that is.

Basically it all boils down to this. If that one night causes either party to be so upset that it could ruin a relationship, it isn't worth it. A successful relationship is built on compromise and the bachelor/bachelorette party is the first true symbol of that compromise.

So maybe you're not crazy about the fact your man wants to pay money to look at naked women and he feels the same about some random guy doing body shots off his bride to be. Bottom line, honesty is the best policy.

Cause honestly, if you can't be honest, you shouldn't be married.
Friday, July 21, 2006

All I Gotta Do Is Act Naturally

Well kids, it's summer and you know what that means.

Incidentally, don't you love when people use the phrase you know what that means and then proceed to tell you what it means anyway?

It means it's time for tv you wouldn't give the time of day during the rest of the year!

These shows are like the semi-nerdy guy who sat in the back of chem class who only seems halfway desirable once all other options were null and void.

TV like that.

First up, we have America's Got Talent or should I say, America's Got Talent!?

If you've never seen the show before you've still seen the show before. In other words, America's Got Talent is a "new" show that revisits concepts much older shows that have come before it.

So here's how you make an America's Got Talent cocktail.

You take equal parts Let's Make A Deal, Star Search and The Gong Show, a cup of American Idol, one washed up too soon singer, a 15 minutes of fame type actor whose clock still manages to tick and a random British guy. Add them to a blender, garnish with Regis Philbin and serve.

The thing about America's Got Talent is that virtually anything counts as talent. You sing like Mariah Carey? You're in! You balance plates on your head? Superb! You dance to the macarena while your poodle barks in harmony? Sold! It's the kindergarten show & tell you never dared dream about.

The problem with shows like these is that while everyone has a chance to be a star, very few of them actually are. Ironically this also includes the people judging them. The guy who swallows swords definitely has talent, more so than say playing second fiddle to a talking car, but his talent is more along the lines of Barnum & Bailey type talent then someone who should say, win one million dollars.

Infact many of the contestants have some sort of act worth watching once or twice, but they are the kinds of acts you'd only ooh and aah over while walking the boardwalk and eating a sno cone. Yet, the panel of highly-qualified judges continues to put these contestants through. When the finalists finally emerge no doubt it will look like the Land of the Misfit toys.

Then we have Rockstar:Supernova. At first glance one might assume Rockstar: Supernova is leaps and bounds from America's Got Talent territory. Au contraire, my friend. Both shows feature performers who want an elusive prize. On America's Got Talent it's one million dollars, and on Rockstar its the chance to have sex with perform with join Tommy Lee's new band.

Last summer, Rockstar: Inxs was like the bastard child of American Idol, but in a good way. If nothing else, it helped pass the time till a new season of AI kicked in. But this year, no matter how hard I try, I just can't get into it.

I think the problem is that there are too many contestants trying to be something they're not instead of just being. Last year there were at least five people I could whole heartedly root for whereas this year I only have lukewarm feelings, even for my "favorites".

The other problem is the that my favorites and Supernova's favorites clearly aren't the same thing. For instance, so far I think the best vocalists on the show are Dana and Josh. But do I think either one of them are right to front the band known as Supernova? Absolutely not. Infact, from what I can gleam about the judges taste in contestants it seems they have almost none.

Speaking of none, let's segue into The One, shall we? If it had not been for a friend who brought this program to my attention I might never have seen its premiere, which would have been unfortunate, if only for the likes of this post.

The One is ABC's answer to all the shows listed above. There's a panel of three "expert" judges, the contestants compete for cash and prizes, America votes...yadda, yadda...you know the drill.

The big twist with The One is that it takes the eleven contestants and puts them in a house to find out what happens when people stop being polite, and start being real.

Now that is originality.

In all fairness, The One is only one week in, but in my mind, you don't need a second chance to make a first impression. Nobody has blown me away vocally on this show. Between this and Rockstar I can't decide if I'm just getting old and jaded or if American Idol really did suck all the talent out of this country.

Also working for The One are the contestants that have the whole "living the American dream" factor. Check out the girl whose family apparently had everything and then gave it all up to help make their daugther's dreams become a reality. Giving it all up, by the way meant moving to a van down by the river and her older sister dropping out of school.

Some would say she should be the one. Others would say she should see someone.

Of course what reality season would be complete without Fox's contribution? The past two summers that has been in the form of So You Think You Can Dance. If the attitude filled title doesn't tell you it all, I don't know what else will.

So You Think You Can Dance
is American Idol part two, stuffy British judge included, only these people dance instead of sing. And lo and behold, the people on this show are actually (gasp) talented! Seriously, the dancers left are like Lay's Potato Chips...you can't root for just one.

Finally we have the red-headed step children of summer reality television, Last Comic Standing and Big Brother: All Stars. These shows are unusual if only for the fact that they aren't all that different from the shows above. There are unnecessary, untalented hosts, there is voting and there is voyeurism. But where the shows above are full of entertainers, these two shows are full of comedic moments, some of which are even intentional.

With Big Brother I even suprise myself because two seasons in a row now I find myself rooting for Janelle and her crew, although I'd probably be happiest if Kaysar won it all. Janelle is so not the kind of girl I'd normally hang with, but I like her strategy. She seems straightforward, even when she's being a bitch. I like that.

Last Comic Standing was rather lackluster this summer and I have a theory on this. It all went downhill when they replaced Jay Mohr as host. Sure Jay wanted out, but I feel that they needed each other more than they both realize.

This show is weird if only for the fact that NBC cancelled it last year, leaving Comedy Central to have to air the unaired episodes. Then they turned around this year and it's as if they have reality show amnesia, not remembering anything that happened last summer. Then again, does anyone else actually remember Dat Phan?

I datn't think so.

So if I were you, I'd jump on the summer reality show bandwagon before it's too late. Come on, everybody's doing it. After all, a chance to see a star in the making doesn't happen everyday.
Just every four to six weeks.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Private Parts

I've decided there's only one thing tackier than celebrities who exploit themselves on psuedo reality shows:

This is celebrities who bite the hand that feeds them by exploiting themselves as a response to such exploitation.

Case in point, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. Back in the early 2000's, very few people knew who Jessica Simpson was and even fewer people knew Mr. Lachey. That number was cut back even further when you factored in those who actually cared.

But then a little reality show called Newlyweds came along, changing everything.

Suddenly everyone loved the real life bobblehead known as Jessica Simpson. People wondered, Could she really be that dumb? And then another amazing thing happened --people actually started to dig her music and like, cast her in actual movies. Yes, without Newlyweds we might never have had Dukes of Hazzard the movie or weeks of Drew Lachey on ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Thanks MTV.

But back to Nick and Jessica. With Newlyweds, they quickly became America's sweethearts. People everywhere were not only rooting for the success of their careers, but also, the success of their marriage.

And then, the inevitable unexpected happened. Nick and Jessica, after fighting off months of rumors that said otherwise, finally broke it off for good.

Americans everywhere mourned. They hadn't felt this sad since the days Brad broke up with Gwen. Or was that when Brad broke up with Jen? At any rate, they were majorly bummed out.

Like Whitney Houston once asked, where do broken hearts go, especially when they are rich and famous hearts? Well apparently they get a pen, some paper and a synthizer and start bad mouthing each other through song.

First up, the slaughtered, gutted and heartbroken, Nick Lachey. One good thing did come out of Lachey's relationship with Simpson and that one thing is that people rightfully realized Lachey was pretty, too! All kidding aside, Lachey can sing, better in fact, than Miss Jessica, in my humble opinion.

So Lachey releases the inner demons about the demise of his relationship with Jessica by releasing, the tortured, What's Left of Me. With lyrics like, "Cause I want you -- and I feel you -- crawling underneath my skin. Like a hunger, like a burnin -- to find a place I've never been. Now I'm broken, and I'm faded -- I'm half the man I thought I would be--But you can have -- what's left of me", pop music hasn't felt a break up run so deep since the tears cried in Justin Timberlake's river.

But anyone whose ever seen War of the Roses knows no jilted divorcee is just going to go quietly into the night, especially when that jilted divorcee is Jessica Simspon.

So now Jessica has struck back with her upbeat crapfest, entitled Public Affair. Although she is adamantly denying her Patti LaBelle like partying, new attitude has anything to do with her big time break up, this is just the tip of the iceberg. See Public Affair is not only the title of her new single, it's also the title of her new album which is full of titles with not so mixed messages.

Other songs on the album include Swing With Me, Sexified, Let It Go, Anyone's Somebody and my personal favorite, Far From the Truth. I mean I guess writing about what you know is what people always tell you to do, right? So if being a hypocritical,half talented bottle blonde and the guy who actually married her thinking it could work is your reality, why not put it out there?

But I say, why stop there? Why be coy? Just write songs that say how you guys really feel. So Jessica and Nick, if you guys are reading this, might I be as bold to throw out a few title suggestions for the next album:

1. It's Not Me, It's You
2. You're So Vain (Jessica just loves her remakes!)
3. Half My Assets, My Ass
4. Don't Hate Me Because I'm More Beautiful
5. Midnight Train To Rebound (a new twist on an old classic)
6. Forever Suddenly Got A Lot Shorter
7. Love Won't Keep Us Together (But Desperation Might Spark A Reunion)

I could go on and on. But why do that when ex celebrity couples can do that for me?
Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Just Get Me To The Church On Time"

After spending a weekend with a friend who is very opinionated on this matter and then watching the latest episode of My Fair Brady, I was inspired to write the following four-part TITMT question...

How do you feel about bachelor/bachelorette parties?
Do you think there's a line of what's appropriate and what's inappropriate?
Do you feel differently if your signficant other is going to the event?
Is there a different standard for men and women?


My thoughts, my friends thoughts, your thoughts and quite possibly even Peter Brady's thoughts will all be highlighted this weekend.
Monday, July 17, 2006

Life Is More Than Mere Survival

I'm not going to blog a whole post about the American Idol concert I went to on Friday. Mainly this is because I doubt any of you are interested.

I am, however, including a brief video that I also put up on My Space featuring two of my favorite contestants, Chris Daughtry and Elliott Yamin singing Nickelback's Savin' Me (better than Nickelback, I might add)
. On the off chance any of you are closet AI fans, this one's a keeper.



Now we bring you back to your original post, already in progress.

When I first heard about this story I blinked my eyes, shook my head and clicked my heels while saying "there's no place like home". But when I looked back, the headline was still there.

Woman Pleads Not Guilty to Stalking Uecker

I'm not sure you read that correctly so I'll say it once more, with feeling.

A 45 year old woman pleaded not guilty to stalking 72 year old BOB UECKER!

There's just so much wrong with the above statement, I don't even know where to begin.

Yes, it's Bob Uecker who used to be a professional baseball player. The Uecker who has commentated on everything from baseball to beer for sometime now. Yup, same guy.

But Uecker is arguably most influential for the time he spent as "head" of the Owens family on the classic eighties sitcom, Mr. Belvedere. My decision to use " " around the word head, by the way, was not an oversight. We all knew Lynn wore the pants in that family with Wesley coming in a close second.

You will notice the words sex symbol never surfaced in my description of Uecker. Not even if you included the word "former". This is because Bobert has not now, nor has he ever been, a sex (shudder) symbol.

According to reports, "Uecker has been seeking a restraining order against the woman, whom he claims has been stalking him for six or seven years, sending unwanted gifts and appearing at ballparks and hotels throughout the country. He said in court filings that she had been approaching him asking for his help with her charity work."

Now let's get something straight. I in no way condone stalking. Stalking, my friends is, bad. But if you hafta stalk somebody, why in the hell would you pick Bob freakin' Uecker!? Even if eighties sitcom stars are your thing, there are about a zillion better looking, younger men more worthy of heavy breathing and lipstick stained notes left on windshields. No offense Uecker.

All this promotes is a downward spiral into the washed up sitcom syndrome. Sure, it all starts with Uecker, but he's merely a gateway eighties star. Before you know it, you'll be sending Howard Hessman scented panties or hiring a sky writer to say Run Away With Me, Conrad Bain!

No, something about this is all wrong. No wonder the chick is denying it. She might just be delusional enough to stalk him, but even she knows that's something you keep on the down low.

Of course somewhere you just know Hasselhoff is screaming, Stalk me! Stalk me!
Sunday, July 16, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Bad To The Bone"

Last Tuesday I asked you to tell me where it hurts. Well, figuratively speaking that is. The question was what were the worst movies you ever saw.

Before I dive into my list, I have to give credit to something Whimsy Chick said about movie watching:

"I find that the more movies I see, the higher my standards become. What used to pass for entertainment several years ago, now rarely rates above disappointing."


I couldn't agree with her more.

I don't know if it's the passage of time or just that movies themselves have just become ways to pass the time. Whatever it is, I find I used to be obsessed with movie watching and rewatching, but lately I'm truly immersed in very few films.

Now for my choices. It was very hard recalling all the horrible films I've seen in my life (although I know there were many). Of course there are also some movies that I need not watch to know they would probably make the worst ever list. Beautician and the Beast is one example. Hot To Trot is another.

But in all fairness, I haven't seen those movies, so I can't list them here. So I will make a promise to you that all of the movies listed below are films I have seen and therefore can personally vouch for their crappiness. Certainly there are other candidates equally if not more deserving of the title, but these are the ones that came to mind at the time of this post.

1. Nothing But Trouble- Even Sharkbait agreed with me on this one. When I think of the worst movies of all time this movie is always the first one I think of. I don't even recall what it was about. I must have blocked it out because it was just that bad. But what made it even worse is that it had a good cast: Chevy Chase, John Candy, Demi Moore. Even Dan Aykroyd starred in, co-wrote and directed it! About all that's good that I can say about it is that it lives up to its title.

2. Cursed- This was the movie that inspired it all as I just watched it last week. Christina Ricci and Jesse Eisenberg star as a brother and sister who begin to transform into werewolves after being bit by one.

The problem with werewolf movies is that it is very hard to walk the line of believability and ridiculousness. Teen Wolf was ridiculous, but it wasn't trying to be serious. Cursed on the other hand, doesn't know what it wants to be.

Interestingly enough you'll also notice that all of the actors in the movie begin to have wolf like resemblances after the first 20 minutes or so. I don't know if this was circumstantial or intentional.

3. Little Nicky- Adam Sandler is like a cheeseburger. When prepared properly, cheeseburgers are very enjoyable. When under or overcooked, however, cheeseburgers are not nearly as good. This is an example of one of those undercooked cheeseburgers. The Waterboy is another one.

4. Date Movie- Another recent addition to the list, Date Movie follows in the footsteps of the Scary Movie franchise. It's not scary, at least not in that way, but it's got the whole 10 minutes are entertaining, the rest is crap formula down pat.

5. Josie and the Pussycats- I still can remember how much I wanted to see this movie when it first came out. It was all about a girl rock group and it had a cute theme song Three Small Words, sung by one of my favorite female vocalists, Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo. I'm still apologizing to myself. I'm almost to the point of forgiving me.

6. Showgirls- I don't think anyone who has ever seen Showgirls and also has complied worst movie list would disagree with me here. Not only was the writing bad, the acting was bad and the casting was shocking. And somebody said Jessie Spano was most likely to succeed? Mr. Belding would not approve.

7. Deuce Bigaloo Anything- Listen, if Rob Schneider, Jon Lovitz or Chris Kattan or are in the lead role I'm gonna need you to put down the remote control and back away verrrry slowly.

8. Napoleon Dynamite- I'm sure I'll get hell for this one, but I really don't care. I know it's somehow a cultural phenomenon. "Vote for Pedro" is on pencils and t-shirts and my space pages galore. But it's like the William Hung of movies. It sucks. You know it. I know it. Only some have chosen to embrace it.

9. The Village- Once upon a time there was a brilliant storyteller/movie maker named M. Night Shyamalan. A new filmmaker, he made truly wonderful movies with Signs, Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense, two of which are now amongst my favorite films of all time. But then he made The Village and something went horribly, horribly wrong. It's one thing when a good filmmaker makes a bad film, but he went from the worst to the best. I'm truly hoping The Lady In The Water will help bring up his overall GPA.

10. The Sweetest Thing- Anybody who tells you The Sweetest Thing is not that bad of a movie must be a guy. I say this because other than to look at the eye candy known as Christina Applegate, Cameron Diaz and Selma Blair, this movie has no redeeming qualities whatsoever.

12. The Doom Generation or Nowhere- When I first rented The Doom Generation I was 18 years old. I did not know Rose McGowan was one of the scariest women, ever and I thought Johnathon Schaech was kinda cute. Little did I know The Doom Generation would be a psychedelic trip to nowhere, which is, ironically, exactly where the same filmmaker went when he made a film by the same name a few years later.

13. Jackass: The Movie- Let's get something straight. I am not a teenage boy. Nor am I a middle aged man still wishing I was a teenage boy. This is why I do not now, nor will I ever, understand the appeal of the Jackass franchise. These are stupid people who only look smart when you compare them to the people who actual shell out money to see this filth.

14. The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant- This movie is a special rotten tomato. I say that because while it truly is a horrendous movie, it is also the only movie on my list that I whole heartedly recommend you watch someday. I was fortunate enough to come across this "gem" one afternoon a few years ago. It stars Bruce Dern as a scientist who is trying to conduct the first ever head transplant. He succeeds in doing this, only with a killer's body, and suddenly there's a 2 headed, transplanted killer on the loose!

If that doesn't seal the deal, look (and listen) for Casey "keep your feet on the ground but keep reaching for the stars" Kasem to pop up in not one, but two roles. One as Dern's friend, another as the radio announcer.

So there you have it, the best of the worst. Don't say I didn't warn you.
Friday, July 14, 2006

No More Teachers, No More Books

It took sometime, but I finally have a worthy new renter who goes by the name of Pointless Drivel. While I'm still learning about PD I can tell you this. The size of his umm, blogroll is really important to him. Oh and he writes a lot of funny stuff, too. So why not get my blogroll together with his blogroll and make some magic happen!

Finally. I now have a few spare moments to write about the last days of school. What? It's only three weeks after the fact, one of which I was on vacation. Cut me some slack.

As anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows, it was a difficult year. The year before this one, I had what politically correct educators would call a "challenging" class. Then this last bunch came along and made the so-called class from the year prior look like paddy cake, assuming I actually knew what "paddy cake" was, that is.

Anyway, with the end of the year comes a lot of summative paperwork. One of the things my school does is hold an awards ceremony. Actually, this year they decided to break it up into two awards ceremonies. One for the academic awards, another for the non-academic awards. Why I don't know. All I knew was that it was the double the opportunity to do something other than live the charade of teaching the little buggers in the dog days of June.

When it came time to nominate students for awards I thought long and hard. A lot of teachers go the obvious route and nominate the kids who are good. But these kids are not always the most talented. In fact as my class this year will prove, sometimes the smartest kids are the ones causing the most chaos.

So I was honest with myself when I sat down to give out awards and gave them to the children I felt were the most deserving, not the best qualified on paper. That meant I nominated two of my "trouble" kids, students who have admittedly never received such awards before, received academic awards, one in Handwriting, the other in math. Since they are only in 3rd grade they can try to play it off like they didn't care, but some small part of me chooses to believe that they thought it was sorta cool.

So the day of the first awards ceremony came. Now what you need to know is that I work in a school where everyone is related to everyone. Seriously, if I had a dollar for everytime I heard the phrase "Miss, that is my cousin." come out of a child's mouth I would be able to buy and sell the school two times over. No lie.

At any rate, they call say "Jose Santiago" for a non-academic award and so Jose Santiago in my class goes to go up. Only problem was he, apparently was not the only Jose Santiago in the school, let alone in the room at the time. He was, however, the closest one to the stage. So my Jose Santiago gets up there and there's tons of confusion. Cause you know, a school district in a area where double, even triple names are common they couldn't possibly forsee this happening and maybe, I don't know, add the teacher's name to the certificate, too.

This wouldn't have been so bad if it happened the one time. But it happened two more times. That day alone. Lucky for him, he was finally the recipient of the final award of the day. He was also a really good sport about all of it.

Now fast forward a few days and the academic awards are about to take place. Now with those awards I know for sure who is receiving them. I know this because I am the one to give them out. So I made it clear over and over. If you did not receive an invitation, you are not receiving an award today. The invitations are only sent home should a parent decide to show up.

Still we get downstairs and again, Jose Santiago's name is called and he's sitting nowhere near me at the time. And so of course, he gets up.

And all I can think is oh shit.

It doesn't matter that we've discussed if you're not getting an invitation that you aren't getting an award. It doesn't matter because the kids in my class didn't retain anything, and therein lies the problem I had with them THE ENTIRE YEAR.

Case in point, Jose Santiago, who is actually being retained and although we talked about it a number of times he still remains confused. I knew this when on the last day of school his teacher for next year came by to introduce herself and he said he "didn't know he was being retained". So I explained it again to which he responded "Oh, ok,I just thought I was doing third grade over again."

And I've got nothing.

Only problem is when it came time for the ceremonies to end my principal called me up and yelled at me that I should have had Jose sitting next to me just in case that happened again. I told her that I spoke to all of them about the invitations and frankly, when you're a teacher, the last thing you have on your mind is something like that. But then again, you need to know my principal in order to not love her.

Speaking of principals and summatives, the principal of the school has to formerly sit down with you and close out the year. Informally she or he assesses how your year went and what the school goals are for next year. I imagine it's a bit different for tenured teachers as in much more of a joke, but I wouldn't know first hand.

So my principal starts out the conference like this "You had a challenging class this year. And I want you to know that I know that."

Ummm, ok.

Now once again you need to know my principal. She is very, very stingy when it comes to compliments. So her public admittance to me that my class was difficult was about as close as I was going to get to hearing the words "Good job." In short, I'll take what I can get.

But quickly I snapped into oh no she didn't! mode when she started talking about motivation and classroom managment and my possibly attending workshops over the summer to work on this skill.

Now I'm all for professional development and improvement. Everyone has something new to learn. But, and this is a big but, I under no circumstances did not give 110 percent to a class many people would have walked out on. I also did it without complaining to her or administration, even once.

So I did what any teacher who feels unnaturally attacked would do. I calmly, and thoroughly, outlined what I did throughout the year and what my behavior plan specifically entails. You know, the behavior plan we are forced to submit at the beginning of the school year that no one actually reads?

To this she had nothing to say but oh. She knew she was down for the count. Professionally speaking of course.

See at the end of the day it really doesn't matter what she thinks. Cause I work for a big school and at that big school we had an end of the year party. And at that end of the year party I won this award:

The Purple Heart Award For Having The "Best" Class

Eat your heart out, principal. Just make mine purple.
Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Big Red Freshness

I decided I have a love/hate relationship with gimmicks.

Part of me hates them because gimmicks are usually more grandiose versions of stupid pranks the idiot who sat behind you in high school English would pull.

The other part of me still hates them, but only out of sheer jealousy since I didn't think of them first.

Take for example the one red paper clip guy.

His story goes something like this. A year ago he came up with an idea to trade items until he reached his final goal of owning a home. I don't even know if owning a home is what his ultimate goal really was, given how he went about it. I think his real goal was to get you to know about his goal and thus the gimmick, as most good gimmicks, was born.

Nevertheless, this twenty-six year old entrepreneur set out on his venture by starting with one red paperclip and consistently trading up from there. I make note of his age because that's another reason to love/hate him. He thought of this gimmick and he's younger than me. I hate when younger people get to somewhere I never knew I wanted to go first.

It took 14 trades for Kyle "paperclip" MacDonald to get from the red paperclip to the house of his maybe dreams. 14 TRADES. That's less than 2 and half times the degrees it takes to get to Kevin Bacon. In my book, that's pretty damn impressive.

MacDonald began his search on Craiglist and his website, aptly titled, One Red PaperClip, details the trades he made.

On July 12th, 2005 he started with a red paperclip. From there he traded to one fish pen. One fish pen went to one doorknob. One doorknob went to one Coleman stove. One Coleman stove went to one red generator. One red generator went to one instant party. One instant party went to one famous skidoo. One famous skidoo went to one trip to Yahk. One trip to Yahk went to one cube van. One cube van went to one recording contract. One recording contract went to one year in Phoenix. One year in Phoenix went to one afternoon with Alice Cooper. One afternoon with Alice Cooper went to One Kiss snow globe. One Kiss snow globe then went to Corbin Bernsen who offered one movie role. And finally the one movie role, led Kyle to the elusive house in Canada.

He did all of this in one year.

This is when the skeptic in my rears its ugly head. Part of me is impressed this average guy managed to pull off his goal, but another part of me wonders how average he was to begin with. Sure, he may not be a household name, but as you and I both know, having a good idea alone does not necessarily lead to interviews on CNN and hanging with celebs like Kurtis Blow and Mike Myers. Basically it's the whole chicken vs. egg debate. Which came first? Being plucked from obscurity or just really popular?

No matter how he did it, you and I both know MacDonald's fifteen minutes of fame are not up just yet. Last year it was Brian Herzlinger, a New Jersey native who made an entertaining documentary detailing how badly he wanted to have one date with actress Drew Barrymore. Before that all eyes were on Morgan Spurlock who documented what happens to the human body after eating only McDonalds for 30 days straight in Super Size Me. In fact, in a best case scenario, Spurlock was able to take that success and get his own tv show called 28 Days, currently on the verge of beginning season two.

So don't be surprised if you see One Red Paperclip the documentary or Who Wants To Be A Trader? programming coming your way real soon.

If nothing else, I'd like to help MacDonald on his next worthwhile endeavor.

And the gimmicks just keep on comin'.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "It Was A The Worst Waste of Time"

There are movies out there that define a generation. These are movies that, when you see them, you instantly feel a connection with them.

You'd never put them in a corner.
They made you an offer you couldn't refuse.
They complete YOU.

Today's TITMT, however, is not about these movies.

No, today I want you to dig deep down into your rolodex of movie trivia and try to recall the worst movies you ever saw.

Maybe these sightings were recent or perhaps you've been lucky and it's been awhile since you've felt like repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a fork during a film. Unfortunately, I haven't been as fortunate as the idea from this post came from a movie I just finished watching.

More about that though on Sunday. Right now I want to hear about you and the movies only a writer could love.
Monday, July 10, 2006

All Bets Are Off

Rarely, if ever, do I write about government issues. I could lie and say it's because I don't like taking sides, but in reality, it's not that. Mostly it's because when it comes to such matters, I'm just ignorant.

But while I was in semi-sunny Florida, a story started brewing that I couldn't resist writing about. This was the impending stalemate of New Jersey's government shutdown. I knew it was big news because it managed to trickle down to me, and I wasn't even in Jersey at the time. Read on while I try to give the New Jersey Government For Dummies version of this story.

Apparently our Governor, Jon "the slime" Corzine wanted to increase the state sales tax from six to seven percent and keep half the proceeds for property tax relief. When he couldn't do that, he took his ball, also known as his power over the government, and went home. Essentially if he couldn't play with the government, no one could play with the government.

Now from what I hear, problems have happened in New Jersey government before. I know. I didn't believe it either, but it's true. Only in the past, when issues had reached a stalemate, eventually a compromise was reached that did not encompass the drama queen tendencies Corzine exhibited last week. This was because Corzine effectly went through with the shutting down of the New Jersey government for apparently, the first time in state history.

So for a week, all government activities came to a screeching halt but perhaps most important to New Jersey residents (and hundreds or thousands of tourists) the shutdown also meant the closing of all twelve casinos in hotspot, Atlantic City.

Now there's something you need to know about New Jerseyans. You can take away our lottery tickets. You can take away our parks. But for the love of God, you can not seperate a New Jerseyan from his right to drink, swear and gamble!

Adding insult to injury, the shutdown occurred right in the midst of a huge holiday weekend. Not letting people play blackjack is one thing, but doing so during a major holiday weekend?! Talk about taking a gamble.

Then news came Saturday morning that a compromise was reached. I'll admit it. A small part of me wanted it to drag on just a little longer so this post would be timely. Plus, it's kinda cool to watch government officials linger in a hissyfit showdown. But my cooler head did prevail and I also breathed a sigh of relief that I could resume harassing my state officials early Monday morning, should, you know, the mood strike me.

Now all that's left to understand is the compromise itself. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done as this was the result:

"Under a compromise reached Thursday, the Democratic governor and Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts Jr. agreed to increase the sales tax, and put half the money earned from it toward easing property taxes, among the nation's highest. The tax increase would raise $1.1 billion. Corzine had wanted all the money to go toward helping close a $4.5 billion budget deficit and help ease future budget woes. The increase is expected to cost the average New Jersey family $275 per year, according to fiscal experts."

So let me get this straight. The government was shutdown with dramatic flair as neither side would budge about the budget, and then a compromise was reached. But doesn't the compromise give Corzine exactly what he wanted in the first place or am I just having a blonde moment?

It wouldn't matter if you thought Corzine was being brave or if he was in the right. Most New Jerseyans are even more ignorant than me and now, no matter what he does, Corzine will inevitably go down in history as the governor who had fun, fun, fun until the day he took the Borgata away.
Sunday, July 09, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Free To Be You & Me"

In honor of the 4th of July last Tuesday I asked you to tell me what freedom meant to you.

Freedom has many different meanings to many different people. For some freedom is wearing a skirt and no underwear. For others it's finally making that last mortgage payment. For Loverboy it's all about Working For The Weekend. For me, it's the title to not one, but two great songs sung by George Michael. Now that's free-king amazing!

As a teacher, I feel a sense of freedom in the summer that I don't feel the rest of the year. This is because I can do whatever I want when I want to, within reason. But I gotta tell you, the idea that there are people out there who are totally "free" 24/7 with no responsiblities, no obligations, no jobs, amazes me. Some of these people are homeless, others of them just might be retired and then of course, there's the rest of you.

Having the opportunity to do what I want when I want for 60 days or so is great, but if you told me I could do that everyday of my life, I might actually get a little bored. Unless of course you threw in a cool million to keep me company while I was busy being "free". Then I might sing a different tune.

On a more serious note, speaking as an American, freedom represents all the things we have that we take for granted. While no US citizen has total freedom, we have a lot more say than the citizens of many other countries do. In fact, we are so protective of this freedom, that we will go and fight on behalf of people who don't have such rights in the hopes they can one day know what it feels like.

But I believe freedom is something that becomes harder to miss once you've had a taste of it. This is why Americans get greedy, because we never really had to question our freedoms in the way many other people in the world do. Just look at the way we feel free to lambast our world leaders in comedy sketches and bumper stickers. It's funny, but it's an alien concept to someone in say, Thailand, who probably wouldn't dream of wearing a shirt that certifies their position of disapproval for their leader.

Sometimes I think of America as that snotty-nosed kid you sorta used to play with when you were little. Your mom, not unlike Canada, was mild mannered, but still enforced some rules, curfews and manners. Your little friend "America" was an alright enough kid, but he did whatever he wanted to, whenever he wanted to. He stayed up all night. He drank soda all day. He never did his homework. And in the end both Canada and America didn't turn out all that differently. But sometimes you can still see the spoiled side of America rear its ugly head when someone tells him to brush his teeth and go to bed.

What I'm trying to say here is that as Americans we really, really hate when people tell US what to do. We like being the boss and calling the shots. Why? Because the dots all connect to the bigger picture, freedom.

And definitely one, if not both, of those George Michael songs.
Friday, July 07, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Three

Ok, if we're all here, I'm ready to begin the final installment of the three hour part tour.

Day Five

On Friday we decided we hadn't had enough of the gators yet and so us crazy thrill seekers decided to take a different gator tour. There were surprisingly many options to choose from. It's funny. Under normal circumstances, no one would want to be within a foot of a gator or a snake and here we are, tourists, actually paying money in the hopes we would see them up close.



Although there were many different kinds of tours, we opted for the cheapest one. Of course cheap and gators isn't necessarily a cocktail for safety, but we did it anyway. On this tour you could rent and drive your own boat for 30 bucks for an hour. And just like the news kept up with and rollercoasters, the news was right there with snake bites, too.

The tour itself was pretty uneventful and there were no gators to be seen, although I can't say after being in the murky water in a dinky boat without a life jacket that I'm complaining. And when all was said and done we only had one semi-brush with death. This was when my boyfriend was driving and decided to make a u-turn in the water to get the picture below of turtles and we hit straight into a tree. He laughed because we had no speed at the time, but to me, one opportunity to fall into gator infested waters was one experience too many.



The gator tour was enough of a brush with death for this girl, but the other three people I with hadn't quite had their fill yet. So from the tour we headed over to this place called G-Force which had more adventures to explore.

There they did something called a Skycoaster and Drag Racing. Although I didn't do either, I imagine the Skycoaster is like jumping out of a plane only without the courses, the significant height or the cost. It's essentially a bungee jump that plunges you from 300 feet in the air. Their website boasts how on the way up you can "see all the attractions around Orlando and Kissimmee" although as my boyfriend and sister will tell you, with all of the swearing and your eyes being closed, you aren't really taking in much of anything.

I would have pictures of this event (in fact we even have the DVD) but before the trip I purchased extra memory for my camera. When I went to go put those pictures on my computer, however, I was told the memory card had to be formatted and in order to do that, the pictures had to be removed. In other words, that project, as well as those pictures, are on hold.

The other event the three of them did was G-Force Drag Racing. There you sit in a car, press the gas pedal when the light turns green and apparently you go from 0-110 mph in less than 2 seconds. The whole "ride" is about five seconds. I was told they now have a new appreciation for race car drivers who do triple that, while switching gears, for a living.

Friday night we mellowed out after dinner by taking in the movie Click with Adam Sandler. I'm not going to venture into movie review territory right now though, so I'll save my thoughts for another time.

Day Six

By day six, you could definitely tell we had been there awhile. This was because no one was particularly concerned with what, if anything, we were doing. My boyfriend slept and his father wasn't feeling well so he slept. So his mother and I took the opportunity to go shopping for some souvenirs and for some food for dinner. That night, after dinner, we went to another movie, Superman (also another post for another time).

Day Seven

Although Sunday was technically not our last day there, we were leaving really early on Monday so it might as well have been. When we booked our flight, my bf had the idea to extend our trip to Monday. For one reason we'd have a little more time and for another, it was cheaper flying Monday to Monday instead of Sunday to Sunday. Only small problem was the resort we were staying at was from Sunday to Sunday, so on Sunday we had to pack up as if we were leaving and head over to the Howard Johnson's down the street.

Now as anyone who has ever stayed at a HoJo would know they aren't bad lodging experiences, although they might differ from hotel to hotel. But when you've been staying at a beautiful condo in a well situated and fully amenitied resort and you downgrade to a HoJo, you're hurting a bit. Still, at 50 bucks for one night, beggars couldn't be choosers.

On Sunday we couldn't agree what to do. My boyfriend wanted to take in another movie. Instantly I was having flashbacks to my Carrabba's experience or in other words, can't we do that at home? I, on the other hand, just wanted to lounge around by the pool. I know we had gone twice, but both times we had been kicked out, for reasons out of our control, and this water loving girl didn't feel like she had enough time to love the water. In fact, I don't have the tan to prove it.

After arguing so long and having that awkward amount of time before we could check into our next hotel, the weather was sick of hearing us bicker and decided for us that the pool was out of the question. By this time we just wanted to rest. So we finally got into the hotel and took a nap before heading out to dinner.

For dinner we went to Joe's Crab Shack. Silly us thought we made some major, hole in the wall find when we found Joe's. Imagine our surprise when we came to find out Joe's was indeed a chain restaurant. Whatever. If you can't beat 'em join 'em. So we did. And the food was good and the waiters and waitresses even danced so really, we couldn't complain.

After dinner we finished off the night by playing a round of mini golf, the ultimate summer by the shore sport. I kicked my bf's ass. Well not really, but I did win by a bit, so it's still good enough to rub his face in it.

So there you have it. A somewhat anti-climactic end to the trip considering the pictures are missing, but since we were winding down at this point ON the trip, you really didn't miss much.

And in the end, although I couldn't take you with me, I think the play by play recap makes up for it...don't you?
Thursday, July 06, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part Two

Since it's summer, rental prices are slighter higher, but this renter decided to give it a go anyhow. Please welcome (and visit) A bit of this, a bit of that! to the AOGB beach house.

I see you all came back for round two for Janet's trip around the world! Ok, so going to Florida from Jersey doesn't exactly constitute a trip around the globe, but it's the furthest I've been away from home in at least four years, so it's going to have to do for now. Without further adieu, let's just pick up from where we left off, shall we?

Day Three

On Wednesday, we decided to get out of the house "early" to make the 10am gator show that was in the resort. We all made it there, not so bright-eyed and bushy tailed only to be told the 10am show had sold out. Everyone else had the same idea for $5.00 a pop. So instead we got tickets for the 12pm show that, if we had known about it, probably would have been our first choice anyway. All this did was give us an excuse to go back and eat a heartier breakfast while we waited.



The gator show was pretty cool, but not what we expected. We thought we'd be outside and one with nature. Instead we were inside in an overly air-conditioned room that made me have to pee big time for about an hour. This guy came in with his traveling gators and he was one of those part time trainers, part time comedian types. At the end of the show we had the opportunity to pet a gator, but none of us felt the need to do that, so we skipped out.



After that we headed back to the pool again which after being in it a short while had to be evacuated again for the exact same reason as yesterday only THIS time, we saw the evidence (sorry, no pictures of that to prove it).

At night we went to see Arabian Nights which, I hear, is really the poor man's Medieval Times. I had never been to either, but after going to Arabian Nights, I might keep my money instead of spending it on MT. Arabian Nights was something we all decided to do because we had four free tickets and so we just split the cost of the remaining two. If we hadn't done that and had paid full price we either would have 1. not gone at all or 2. been pretty pissed that we had gone. All the money we had saved on the price to get in though was quickly spent on overpriced alcoholic drinks (you get to keep the glass!) and a pricey group picture that when scanned, will be fun for the whole family.



Don't get me wrong. The show was ok, but none of us are really theater loving folks. And you get dinner, but the dinner, in a word SUCKED. But then again, what do you expect when the cooks have to serve upwards of 800 people in a timely fashion for each sitting?



Finally, we ended the evening by going to Disney World's Pleasure Island.




Here's the weird thing about Pleasure Island. Anyone can walk around outside and see the sights and eat some food. But to get in to one of the clubs you had to be eighteen to enter, 21 to drink. And here in lies the irony that prevails when you have a setup like this at Disney World of all places. Walk in a club, you see your typical drunk people. Walk outside and you see five year olds, riding on grandpa's shoulders. It was all a bit surreal.

The irony hit full force when going in to one bathroom we saw a girl, half naked, lying on the floor, waiting for the paramedics to arrive. There was another girl holding on to the toilet in another stall. The girl they took away was barely conscious, if at all. They say it was drinking and possibly some ecstasy. I don't know. I have gone to plenty of clubs back in Jersey, but I've never seen a girl lie on the floor in the bathroom like that, looking so beat up. And then to see it in one of the bathrooms of the "happiest place on Earth"? Something tells me Mickey wouldn't approve. Nor would the grandpa types that had the five year olds on their shoulders but then again, why are they out so late, anyway!?



In fact, while at Pleasure Island, we are all pretty certain my boyfriend's sister and her boyfriend were propositioned by three "swingers" who were "conducting a survey". I think my boyfriend and I, and the whole brother/sister thing sorta cramped their style though. Even swingers, as it turns out, have their limits.



Day Four

Day four was the big activity day we had been gearing up for and winding down from the whole vacation. It also was prime, picture taking time. This was the day we went to Universal Studios theme park and decided to tack on the extra ten bucks to see Islands of Adventure theme park as well.



Now since this was my fourth time to Florida, I had seen Universal before as well as Disney World, Epcot, MGM and Sea World. So since the tickets were pricey for each, we only did the one day of theme parking. Universal we had two free tickets and that park offers rides as well as attractions. None of us had little ones in tow, so a trip to Disney World really wasn't necessary for at least $60.00 a pop.

Plus it needs to be said I am not now, nor have I ever been, a rollercoaster loving girl. Now before you all point your fingers and call me fraidy cat let me explain something. I live within a half hour of a cool theme park, Six Flags. And many season passes ago, I bit the bullet and rode the "scary grown up rides" such as Scream Machine and I'm hear to tell you I'm not afraid of them, I just HATED them. Heights don't particularly scare me. I don't get motion sickness when moving, only stationary (explain that one). I just DON'T. LIKE. THEM. I especially hate the roller coasters that require you to have bars around your head to support you. I can still remember how red my ears were and how certain I was I was going to have permament damage after that day at Six Flags.

No, I'm a water ride, slide going kinda girl. We were going to go to Wet N' Wild, but again, when you pay an arm and a leg just to buy a water, you try to pick and choose your battles. So I spent a lot of time at Universal waving to my boyfriend and holding his hat as he went on the rides I didn't dream about going on. They all got a good chuckle out of my trepidation, of course the next morning, when a 12 year old boy died on a rollercoaster at MGM they hushed up, at least until they found it his death was not related to mechanical error. Then they resumed laughing again.

That's me. Second to last row, second one from the left.

The final thing I learned in leg two of my vacation is that theme park foods have evolved. No longer are pretzels, popcorn and burgers enough. Oh no. Now they sell huge ass turkey legs, right next to the lemonade and italian ices. And with that, I leave you with a picture of the huge ass turkey leg, in full effect.



Tune in for part three, the final chapter, tomorrow!
Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Part One

So I've been thinking about how there is no easy way to recap my vacation to Florida in one post. Oh sure, I could do it, but anyone who has read AOGB for more than five minutes knows that it typically takes MORE than five minutes to read. In other words, I'm long winded. I know it. You know it. We both know it. And even if you didn't before you sure as hell do now considering how long of an intro I just wrote.

Instead, let's just take it day by day.

Day One

Monday was my last day of school which I've eluded to before, but I really will break down in a seperate post, even if that post ends up being right before the new school year begins. I got out of school earlier that day but still had to hustle to make it to the Philly airport by my 8 o'clock flight. So I proceeded to take a road I take nearly every weekend to my boyfriend's house with NO PROBLEMS. Of course, today, of all days, there was a misleading detour that when you asked a cop for help, he kinda shrugged his shoulders and crossed his fingers he was helping you out. Yeah, that kind of detour.

Obviously I survived the detour and we made it to the church airport on time, but then there was another glitch. The weather apparently had delayed our flight. It could have been worse. They outright cancelled many other flights. But here we were, all hurry up...and wait. Finally we boarded and were on our way to not-so-sunny Florida.

By the time we landed in Orlando it was close to midnight and our journey still wasn't over. We had to go rent our car and then drive another 35 minutes until we were at the resort. We rented our car from a place called Payless so I guess the fact that it was completely nowhere near the actual airport was to be somewhat expected. I thought we were going to get the cheap, safe four door sedan when the guy behind the counter said that for a little extra we could have a two door Mustang. Of course my boyfriend, like a kid on Christmas morning, had to have that car. So a lime green Mustang is what we drove away in.

Lucky for us my boyfriend's family had made the journey to the resort the night before. This is good because there was a detour no one else bothered to tell us about but them. Even with the detour it was still confusing finding our way in the middle of a rainy night.

Now I told you there were detours everywhere and it was late, but there was still some traffic on the road. There was a car that was right in front of us at one point that suddenly and abruptly jerked into the next lane. We had a split second to wonder why when we saw we were headed straight for a cone someone had placed right in the middle of the road. There was no way around it, so we drove over it and then had to go back and forth a few times to get the damn thing out from underneath our car. The car we just rented and didn't get insurance for, by the way. Fortunately, everything seemed to be ok and we were back on the road, my heart in my throat.

After one or two in the morning we FINALLY arrived at the resort and didn't really want to do anything but SLEEP. At this point, I had been up nearly 24 hours and so I really needed a rest. There would be more to do tomorrow and the day after that.

Day Two

The first thing we decided to do when we woke up Tuesday morning was check out one of the many pools. The family recommended the Lazy River where you can rent a raft and just float through this huge pool, so we headed there for a bit. It was after 10 o'clock by this time, and lots of people were at the pool, but no one was in it. We thought we lucked out, getting there so early. So we get our tubes and my boyfriend jumps into the pool. Then and only then does a lifeguard tell him the pool is temporarily closed. Nice, huh? So he gets out and asks why. Unfortunately, the one honest lifeguard told us more than we bargained for. Apparently someone had pulled a "Caddyshack" in the pool. I know. Ewww. They had been cleaning it for awhile though and sooner rather than later the pool was open again for you to swim at your own risk.

We had our fun in the Lazy River and had decided to just be lazy on lounge chairs for awhile, when I felt something sting me. Now if you remember my bee post from not too long ago, you know that I absolutely, positively hate stinging bugs. I know no one likes them, but I freak out when I see them. I also hate the adage they don't bug you if you don't bug them because once again, I didn't see the bug and so I didn't freak out, till after he was biting me that was. I still don't know what type of bug it was and maybe I'm better not knowing. All I do know is that he got me on...the thumb of all places. I was about to head back to the condo to get some more ice from my stiffening thumb when they announced the pool would be closed anyhow soon because of an impending storm. As it turns out, they have a lot of those in Florida. So I guess you could call our time at the pool for the day eventful, but it was also short-lived.

Tuesday night, our first big night away from home, we had to do what all vacationers look foward to doing most...go out to eat!! A lot of choices (and coupons) were put on the table, but when all was said and done, where did we end up eating? Carrabba's Italian Grill. You might have heard of Carrabba's before because they probably have one by you. I know they have one by us in New Jersey. The point? Well, does anyone else see the irony in "getting away from it all" and then going some place that you could literally go to anytime you want or is it just me? Regardless, the food was pretty good and I've even included a picture of us at the bar for your viewing pleasure.



And with that, this concludes part one of the Florida vacationing experience. Please return all personal items to their belongings and place your seat in an upright position. We shall depart on leg two of our journey, shortly.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tell It To Me Tuesday "Shine, Sweet Freedom"

Happy fourth of July everyone!

In honor of the fourth, I wanted today's TITMT to be Fourth of July inspired. But then I thought I don't want to alienate all of you who read this who might not live in America. So I settled for a compromise instead.

Today's question is...

What does freedom mean to you?

Be as silly or as serious as you want with this one.

Have a red, white and blogarrific day!
Monday, July 03, 2006

Write Back Weekend "Oh, Those Summer Nights...Or Days, As the Case May Be"

Hey y'all!

I'm back from vacation full of amusing pictures and possibly equally amusing stories to tell you!!

I know, I know. I promised to take you with me while I was there, in the thick of the "action", but I have a good excuse. See, at first we had no internet. Apparently high speed access was available, but it was for a fee through the internet cafe on the premises. And then, are you sitting down? We finally ended up getting a cheap DIAL-UP connection just to get a quick fix. Do we know how to rough it or what?!

Suffice it to say, lengthy updates were out of the picture.

So even though I'm back, I'm still recovering from getting up at 5:30 this morning to get on a plane back to Philadelphia. Needless to say, there will be no pictures today. But just to show everyone how much I love them, I am including my answer (a day late) to last week's early TITMT question...What are your favorite summertime memories?

Top Five Summertime Memories Off The Top of My Head

1. "Old-Fashioned" Italian Ices- Nowadays, you can get italian ices, slushies and smoothies just about anywhere you go. But back in "the day" the best way to get the best ices were off the italian ice truck. I don't know if it's just a Jersey thing, but Little Jimmy's was my personal favorite. They had a zillion flavors and you could mix and match them too! Today I am hard pressed to find a truck that drives around my neighborhood with such tasty treats inside. Even when I do, they are usually Good Humor or trucks of the ice cream variety and ice cream is just not the same as italian ice.

2. The Boardwalk- Perhaps another Jersey thing, the boardwalk is one of the best places to go in the summer, and the great thing about my state is that there is more than one boardwalk to walk!

If I you want a short term, quick fix boardwalk you can try Point Pleasant. For a slightly larger sized night (or day) of fun, you can venture out to Seaside Heights. And if you are in it for the long haul, might I suggest a full blown vacation at Long Beach Island or Wildwood.

When I was a kid, we used to go to Wildwood or Surf City every summer. In fact, ironically enough we always used to hear the song "Surf City" by Jan and Dean on the way down. It was almost as if they knew.

The Wildwood and LBI boardwalks were fun for the whole family and quite the stereotypical Jersey experience. There you could buy cheesy, air brushed mementos that unapologetically advertished the 100 miles you drove to get there. You also could ride equally cheesy rides that, looking back on it, you were probably lucky to have survived. Finally you can the best worst food for you that is humanly possible. Boardwalk fries, cotton candy, taffy, funnel cakes...you name it.

Whatever you do though. Watch the tram car, please.

3. Water Slides- As a kid I absolutely, positiviely loved spending as much time possible in the water. The way I see it, I was an only child who was wronged not once, not twice, but three times. I had no siblings. I had no pets and I had NO POOL. This was why having good friends with good pools was so crucial. Otherwise it was hours of running through the sprinkler for me and as any other pool deprived child will tell you sprinker = no fun.

On somewhat rare occassions we would go to a theme park like Six Flags or my personal favorite, Sesame Place and ride water rides like there was no tomorrow. I was never a fan of rollercoasters, then or now, but I've always loved water rides. I can still remember how I would go on water slides over and over and relish in still feeling the sensation at night while I was trying to go to sleep.

4. The Library Reading Club- Ok, here's where my dorkiness shines through. Number four might be something like camp to a "normal" child, but I actually didn't really like camp. It was entirely too much time outside with mostly nasty kids.

For a lot of kids, summer meant no school, which, in turn, meant no reading. I on the other hand, was different. I LOVED summer reading. In the summer, I had far more time to read all the books I didn't get to read during the year. During this time I also signed up for the library reading club where they kept track of the books you read and you earned points. Points for what, I don't even remember. I just thought it was so cool to read with a goal in mind and get to talk to someone about what I was reading.

Whatever. I never said I wasn't a dork.

5. Summertime Concerts- Ok, concerts are fun to go to anytime of the year, but summertime concerts still always hold a special place in my heart.

When I was in high school, getting cheap lawn seats to bands you half assedly wanted to see was the thing to do. For twenty five bucks you got to see a decent live show and hang out with friends at the same time. For an extra 15 or 20 dollars you could commerate that experience with a t-shirt, something I often did.

Summertime concets I once saw include: Tom Petty, Dave Matthews, Spin Doctors, Cracker, Lilth Fair, Beach Boys, Duran Duran, Richard Marx (not once, but twice), John Mellencamp, Rick Springfield....the list goes on and on.

And yes, I am only 29. I just happen to have very random, very eighties flavored, tastes.

Of course you can still recreate the summertime concert experience, but today you are going to pay far more for far less. Redesigned stadiums have taken the fun out of lawn seats and tickets, food, parking and merchandise can easily equal the cost of a ticket to a Broadway show. Then again, teenagers of today no nothing of the days when stadiums were not named after banks, and like the saying goes, you can't miss what you never had.

So there you have it. A kickoff to the summer of '06 with a salute to the summers of the past.

Before you know it another Tell It To Me Tuesday will be coming your way very shortly. In the meantime, I've got some blog visiting to do!

 

 


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