Saturday, May 31, 2008

Movie Review - Sex and the City

Three hundred costume changes over two and a half hours. And that was just me figuring out what to wear.

We are celebrating chickdom here, guys. We are coming out of our respective closets, whether they’re walk-in, hole-in-the-wall, or fab-fantastical Carrie’s, and we are holding the supreme estro-fest. I could not find a single heterosexual guy brave enough to see it with me. It’s ok that you don’t get it. Go watch Indiana Jones again. In other words..... shoo! Or perhaps, shoe!

That's the nice thing about the Internet, isn't it guys? You wouldn't be caught dead at the movie, but you can peek at this Barbie-pink blog and no one will be the wiser. Tsk, tsk. Smooch.

This is an event first and a movie second, so my primary concern was, of course, what to wear. The stiletto cam at the premiere screamed designer heels. Sadly, my Manolo Blahniks were in the shop. Someone else’s shop. But as a loyal fan, I buffed my spike heels and blinged my body to go sit in a dark theater with my sisters. Did I look great? Yes. Could anyone see me? No. Do I feel the need to explain why I did that? Puh-lease.

As an event, it is all about the fun, the fashion, the fling. That’s the level at which I took the movie, and it worked. Show me enough fashion, passion, and compassion and I’ll suspend belief with the best of them. Expecting a bullet-proof plot at something like this is like attending a Jimmy Buffet concert because you think he’s pretty.

Nevertheless, the smart one-liners are back, the plot twists are engaging, and the style is relentless.

And oh, the fashion! Over-the-top, around-the-horn, under-the-table, fashion. I don’t always agree with the choices. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing thigh-high argyle socks with clogs. But damn if I won’t defend Carrie’s right to wear it. Push that envelope past the point of ridiculous and take us with you, girlfriend. I’m sure we’ll enjoy the trip.

Fashion is never complete without the perfect accessories. Here the accessories are, well, men. Lots of eye candy with, if memory serves me, pretty decent lines. I’ll be honest, I didn’t listen very well because I was busy looking. Blink, blink. So shoe me.

For once the shoe is on the other foot- we have female friendship as the heart of the universe, with heavenly man-bodies orbiting their femme stars. It's a shift in thinking that makes many uncomfortable because we’re so used to the reverse. For instance, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Numbskull had a woman as an accessory and nobody blinked. As God intended? I think she knows better than that.

Sorry, Indy, it’s usually not one good guy saving the day. Life’s messy and marvelous and multi-colored, and its resolution is hardly ever black and white. Harder to fathom, but then so are we women.

We’re not looking to turn history into herstory. We’re not just about shopping, socializing, and shrieking. It’s just a side that’s been neglected, if box office returns are any indication. According to Variety, SATC grossed a bling-busting $26.9 million Friday alone, the sort of gross usually tallied by more macho openings.
Do the girls have legs at the box office? Damn straight. Confidence is the new black. And it’s fabulous.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Please Don't Read This While Driving

On July 1st of this year, California will welcome a new law regarding the use of cell phones while driving. Unless it's an emergency, it will be illegal to operate a vehicle and a cell phone unless you are using a hands-free device. It will still be legal, however, to drive and text.

I rode with a driving, texting friend. Once. She was not, as you may assume, a teenager, but rather an adult, otherwise sane, mother of two. We were returning from a weekend drive to Solvang to shop and visit friends. Just the sort of lovely trip, lovely day, that in movies typically foreshadows disaster.

While she was driving, my friend received a text message and immediately popped open her cell phone to see what it said. She was having trouble reading it, probably because of the bright, shiny sunshine of the bright sunshiny day, or perhaps she was distracted by the loud, persistent honking of the oncoming traffic as we repeatedly swerved into their path. Either way, when she finished reading the byte-sized novelette and returned to watching the road, I was greatly relieved.

Relieved until my friend decided to reply to the message, texting a response while maneuvering down what was now a dark, angry, twisting mountain road. "Perhaps it would be better to pull over and do that," I suggested as my complexion turned as pale as the stripe along the highway's edge.

"Oh, no, it's ok," she replied, “I don’t want to inconvenience you.” As I cowered in the fetal position in the back seat, I wondered how much we might inconvenience our rescuers when we tumbled down one of these scenic California mountainsides.

Although we made extensive use of both sides of the highway and some of the curb, miraculously we did not crash. The rest of the way home I prayed that my friend wouldn’t receive a reply and make us to endure another round of driving by Braille. I also pondered the fine line between polite behavior and the will to survive. At some point I should have risen from the safety of the back seat and insisted that she put Pandora's box-o'-doom down and just drive.

I don't write the laws. I didn’t know why texting wasn't also banned. Perhaps there was a strong, covert, pro-text lobbying organization in Sacramento. I asked Senator Joe Simitian, 11th District, the sponsor of the original bill.

The senator introduced the legislation in 2001, reintroducing it every year until it finally passed in 2006. At the time the bill was created, the senator said, texting was not yet an issue, since the technology was quite new.

However, as he moved the bill through the approval process, texting became more widespread, and the senator faced a difficult decision. Should he revise the bill to include texting and begin the lengthy process again, or move forward and get the hands-free bill passed? Not wanting to risk progress already made on the original legislation, Simitian opted for the latter.

“Part of the issue is addressed by SB 33,” Simitian added, “Which prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using any such device while driving.” SB 33 also goes into effect July 1st of this year. This age group is typically high-risk for accidents anyway, so taking the cell phone completely out of their hands is certainly a step in the right direction.

I asked him if there were any plans to add a no-text law. “We’re monitoring the data to see if there is a need to move forward with a ban on texting. If there is a need, we will introduce legislation to address it.” You would think that no one in their right mind would be crazy enough to text while driving. As you may have noticed, being in one’s right mind is not a prerequisite for driving our highways.

Does it really take a law to tell us that texting is dangerous? There is currently no law on the books specifically banning the following stupid things to do while driving:

  • shaving
  • putting on makeup
  • shaving, then putting on makeup
  • watching someone else shave and put on makeup

It only takes a second or two, the time needed to put down the razor and pick up the rouge, to really, really mess up your makeup. After that, someone else may need to help you shave. And dress. And feed yourself.

Have you ever peered into someone else’s car to see what they’re doing at 65 mph? Frightening, isn’t it? Not just what they’re doing, but what you’re doing. For you have just become a distracted driver, distracted by a distracted driver. And we all are so very, very ashamed of you.

Don’t wait until a law is passed. Make sure your brain is in gear before getting behind the wheel. Perhaps if we’re all just a smidge safer out there, the insurance companies will have mercy on us and lower our rates for good behavior. Hey, it could happen. Then we could afford to buy gas again.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Theatrical Review - "Name That Internal Organ"

Tonight I attended the invitation-only premiere of Name That Internal Organ - the Musical. Although overshadowed by the media hype surrounding Indiana Jones and the Crystal Numbskull, this extravaganza promises to do well at the box office. If it had a box office. There was a lovely buffet, but, unfortunately no box office.

Imagine High School Musical, only in fifth grade. With body parts instead of dancers. And a plot. The body parts were competing to get into the "Internal Organ Hall of Fame" - who's most important, who's irreplaceable, yadda, yadda. Lots of dancing, singing, and some unplanned regurgitation. It seems the 'Raging Hormone' got a bit too into his part and tossed his cookies onstage. Really. Everyone blamed the Nervous System, since he was supposedly gunning Red Bull prior to the show and annoying everyone. Whoever cast this show did a phenomenal job.

Eventually, after a break in the action while the bio-hazard crew cleaned up, we got back to the show. We learned a lot about internal organs, especially how sensitive they can be before a musical production.

An insider later told me that the Liver had consumed a bean burrito right before the performance. That would explain the aberrant bass guitar riff I kept hearing, and why the Spleen nearly passed out in the second act.

After the show I got to hang out a bit with the Gall Bladder. He was very cool, even letting me take a photo of him. He says he owes all his success to his mother. What a great kid. By the way, that's not a handlebar mustache - that's a bile duct. You were probably better off not knowing that.

Just be thankful I didn't post the video of poor Raging Hormone emulating Linda Blair in the Exorcist. He was tough, though, coming back up (sorry) for the finale.

A good time was had by Gall.

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Princess" -Tomcat Extraordinaire

When I was two years old I was given a tiny, grey, tabby kitten I named Princess. My parents tried to convince me to name him something a bit more appropriate, but I insisted. Why was gender such a big deal? I was certainly old enough to know a ‘Princess’ when I saw one.

At first an adorable kitten, Princess quickly grew to be a tough, burly tomcat. Perhaps, like the subject of Johnny Cash's song, A Boy Named 'Sue,’ his name made him stronger. Regardless, I take full credit for the many early-life challenges that prepared him to become the feline version of Chuck Norris.

One of those challenges was my penchant for dressing him in frilly doll clothes. Years later this would keep my therapist happily occupied. At the time, however, Princess was less than thrilled. Typically I’d have to wrestle the outfit onto him. Dressing a Barbie doll was for wusses - try keeping a decent outfit on an uncooperative barn cat. Once nicely outfitted and accessorized, Princess would then strut away, his machismo challenged, his tail twitching, and his angry male cat bottom peeking out from beneath pink lace and taffeta.

He soon learned to vent his gender-confusion by killing mousies and kicking canine butt. I had a ringside seat to some of his best fights. When a new dog moved in down the street, it decided to put Princess in his place by barking and charging at him. Any other cat would flee. Princess sat down, waited until the dog was nearly upon him, and swatted the mutt once, hard, across the muzzle, flipping it into the street. The dog yipped, got up, and ran home shaking its head. Princess yawned and went back to looking for mice.

We had some rather large rats living in the barn, some of them nearly the size of cats. They were incredibly quick. I once saw one jump at my dad's head, almost six feet off the ground. Our dogs would often tangle with them, but Princess is the only pet I saw singlehandedly take one down. While the dogs yapped and yipped and more or less acted like dogs, Princess was absolute economy of motion, remaining stock still until his claw or teeth would turn a rat’s mistake into a deadly checkmate. Ninja warriors could learn a lot from him.

Rodents were his favorite snack. He’d consume them head first, a nasty vision if you happened to be around when he was mouse-munching. As disgusting as it was, you just had to watch until the tail was out of sight down his gullet. Weird kitty ambrosia, for Princess, was his furry Mickey kielbasa.

These victories didn't come without a price. Somewhere along the line of countless battles, Princess lost his right eye and his left ear. As he aged eventually his ‘meow’ would be lost, too, replaced with a tape-delay sort of ‘ow’ squawking noise that seemed to emerge long after he opened his mouth.

Gnarly animal that he was, and despite all the emotional cross-dressing abuse he endured, Princess was still an affectionate pet. After seeing him beat up a dog and consume a mouse or a snake, it was a bit off-putting to have a one-eyed, one-eared, squeaky cat purr in your lap. But even Chuck Norris needs a hug once in a while, right?

Me: So, how was your day?

Princess: Me....orwf (fine...and yours?)

Me: Fine, thanks. What did you do?

Princess: Me....orwf (the usual...smacked that stupid dog....ate a mouse...and you?)

When he grew older, in the chilly dead of a New York winter, Princess would disappear for months at a time. Every year I accepted that he had finally passed on - perhaps a bobcat had gotten him, or a trap, or he had starved. After all, he was ancient. But he’d show back up in February or March, fatter than ever. Later I figured he was doing what all proper, elderly New Yorkers do – wintering in Palm Beach.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

8 Seconds - Dad's First Ride - Chapter Two

(psst -Chapter One is found directly below this post - you might wanna read that first)

Patty was quite experienced at avoiding the bit. She'd spin her head back and forth, ducking and dodging the bridle. My dad would get it over one ear and she'd slip her other ear out, then push the bit out of her mouth with her tongue. He’d begin again, and she’d respond with the old ear dodge and head bob, to the point where it looked like they had orchestrated a dance - The Waltz of the Weaving Horse Head.

The trick to getting the bridle on a horse, Dad’s book said, was to first carefully put your fingers in the horse's mouth. Yes, slide your fingers right on in there. Carefully. This was akin to carefully placing your fingers in a wood chipper.

Eventually Dad managed to get the big curb bit in Patty’s mouth without crushing a digit. Patty swished her tail, clacked her teeth, and stomped. Round 4 to a rather tired dad.

By now Patty was well aware she was dealing with horse-rookies. She knew she had the upper hoof in this arrangement, and she set the tone early and often. At times our idiocy must have frightened her. Like the time we accidentally put the bit in her mouth under her tongue instead of over. I’m sure it hurt like Hades, and when I fixed it she gave me a look like we were trying to kill her.

Patty must have had quite the life before she arrived at our little farm. For some reason, most likely valid, she had cause to despise people. Animals aren't born hateful - they need to learn it, and people can be excellent teachers. I often wondered what awful things had happened to her to make her so angry and spiteful. Usually this thought went through my head right before I hit the ground when she bucked me off.

It was time for a ride. My dad grabbed the reins and attempted to swing himself into the saddle. Each time he went to get up, Patty would step away so he’d miss, left foot in the stirrup, right foot hopping madly after his spinning horse. Always fun to see when it happens to someone else. Dad was busy not getting killed, so I knew he wouldn’t catch me giggling.

From watching many Western movies I knew that once you were up it was traditional to simply leap into a gallop from the spot. Dad didn’t let me down. Later I found out it wasn’t his idea to take off at a dead run.

Patty and Dad bolted down the hill. As Patty’s hooves spit out clumps of grass and gravel, I was impressed with my dad’s bravery, at least for a few seconds. Horse and rider reached the bottom of the hill and veered right. Actually, Patty veered right. My dad - left.

Another trick horses have is the nifty hold-your-breath-when-they-tighten-the–cinch move. They exhale when the going is good and voila – the saddle slides under the belly and it’s the end of the trail. Which was of course what Patty did, and why my dad was now sitting, spitting up daisies, in the grass at the bottom of the hill. And which is why, cowpokes, you should always recheck your cinch before you get on a horse. Game, set, and match to Patty.

I don’t think my dad ever rode again. There’s an expression – get back on the horse, meaning when life knocks you down, don’t give up – try again. There’s a little-known amendment to that expression – if you don’t want to get back on the horse, have your offspring do it.

Not that I had to be prodded. Thinking Patty’s vile ways were standard equestrian behavior, I rode as much as I could. In other words, as long as Patty would let me. Honestly, I didn’t care how mean she was – I had a horse and I was going to ride. In no specific order, I ended up getting tossed off, bucked off, scraped off, dragged, trampled and rolled upon. Once Patty even reached around, grabbed my foot in her teeth, and flung me from the saddle to the dirt. But at least I got to ride. As my mother would put it years later – I rode off and on.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

8 Seconds - Dad's First Ride - Chapter One

Ever since I could whinny I whined for a horse. At some point or another most girls do. Usually it’s just a phase, since the logistics of a childhood don't often lend themselves to a 900 pound animal. Eventually most girls grow out of the idea and move on to safer things like boys, wine coolers, and sororities. The difference with me was:
  1. we had the land
  2. my dad had a soft spot for animals
  3. as far as knowing the dangers, the expenses, the effort needed for horses, my parents were blissfully clueless
  4. as far as knowing the dangers, the expenses, the effort needed for boys, wine coolers, and sororities, my parents opted for the horse

My mother quickly ran out of excuses as to why we should not get a horse. She realized how determined I was to ride, especially when she caught me saddling the dog and roping the cat. Eventually, my dad and I wore her down, and she let us go see a man about a horse.

We went to visit Mr. Hornbeck, the farmer down the road, and explained that we'd like to buy a horse. My dad made it clear we had absolutely no equestrian experience whatsoever. In other words, have mercy on our souls and sell us a sweet, gentle pony.

Mr. Hornbeck was an eighty-year-old, God-fearing, whiskey-drinking diabetic, who was also apparently hard of hearing, because we ended up with a horse who was, to this day, the meanest, nastiest beast I've ever met in my life.

Patty was a rangy, speckled grey mare of dubious heritage. If you so much as made eye contact, she’d flatten her ears and practically growl at you, lips curled back in a snarl, flashing big old nasty horse teeth. She had a young filly with her who we named Toni. Only a few months old, Toni was a pretty blonde chestnut. Pretty with the exception that one corner of her lip hung askew like she was missing the cigar that usually went there. Mr. Hornbeck swore she’d grow out of her ‘gangster lip.’ She did not. Mr. Hornbeck was a nice man, but some of his facts left a lot to be desired.

We soon discovered that both horses could go over, through, or around just about anything. I once saw Toni jump a fence that was nearly six feet high – from a standstill. Her momma was on the other side and although the gate was open, hopping over the barbed wire was quicker than wandering down to the gate like a normal animal. We’d build a fence even higher and still find them on the other side of it in the morning, calmly munching in the front lawn, corn field, or trash cans like they belonged there.

Late one night I heard quite the racket coming from the kitchen. I would not have been surprised to find Patty and Toni rummaging through the refrigerator looking for a decent snack. Nor would I have gotten in their way. The next morning I found out it was my brother doing the foraging, but for most of the night I lay very still in my bed, hoping voracious nocturnal mares wouldn’t visit my room. Sometimes imagination trumps reality. Sometimes reality wins the terror contest. If you survive, it’s all good.

Horses have many clever tricks up their furry sleeves, most of them designed to help them avoid doing something they don’t want to do. To this end they make government employees look like slipshod rookies. This may also explain why when there’s an ass in a government position he’s usually in management.

You may have seen a silly video where an unsuspecting rider gets scraped off an innocent-looking horse by a tree branch. That’s one of the simpler tricks a horse can pull to ‘unload.’ I’ve seen many more, first hand and up close.

When my dad first saddled up Patty for a ride he looked like he knew what he was doing. As he flung the worn old Western saddle over her back, Patty’s ears flattened and she reached around to nip him. By this time we had learned to expect this, and had tied her lead rope short to keep her from drawing blood. Round One went to Dad.

Dad reached under Patty’s belly for the cinch, the strap that goes under the horse and keeps the saddle in place. Patty swung a rear leg at his head and nearly took it off. Dad landed on his butt and rolled to safety, cursing. Patty’s tail swished in satisfaction. Round Two – Patty.

The next part was a bit tricky for someone new to horses, but my dad had a book on how to tie a Western cinch, so he was as ready as he was na├»ve. The book said it was just like tying a man’s tie, except different, which was true yet disturbingly inconclusive. Following the instructions, my dad did the over/under/through movements like a pro, making sure the cinch was snug. Patty clacked her teeth a few times in protest. Round Three – Dad. be continued....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Showdown on Bedford Park Boulevard

It was a crisp fall morning in the Bronx, a bit cold but still nice enough to have the windows open before we left for school. I was living off campus in a three-story brownstone, starting my first year at Fordham University. My roommates had already headed out and I was about to sit down to a quick breakfast. I went back to my bedroom for a moment to get a book. By the time I returned, a squirrel had planted himself squarely in the middle of the kitchen table. He must have climbed the fire escape and entered the open window. Judging from the puddle on the table, he had either sampled my orange juice or marked his new-found territory in a most vulgar, animalistic manner. Now he was eating my toast.

It was probably just as well my roommates weren’t there, since they were city girls and not up to dealing with wild animals. Still, it was just a fluffy squirrel and they might have thought it was cute the way it nibbled away at my breakfast.

“Shoo!” I commanded. The squirrel ignored me and continued stuffing rye br
ead in his cheeks.

“Shoo!” I repeated, this time waving my hands and approaching a bit closer.

He stopped rather deliberately, looking a bit peeved, and swiveled his head slowly to peer at the interruption to his repast. In all my country years of squirrel interaction, I’d never actually looked one in the eye. They usually scurried away rather meekly, fearful of a big, mighty human. But this squirrel’s stare was as cold as his tail was fluffy. I was suddenly reminded I was no longer in the country but rather nose-to-nose with a New York City rodent. A fur-coated, bling-tailed rat in the hood.

“Shoo!” I said again, not sure what else to say. I did not speak squirrel, especially city-squirrel.

Without losing eye contact, he tossed the toast to the side and turned methodically, squaring his body to face me. I sensed a showdown.

They're so cute, aren't they? Little bundles of fur, scampering about our yards, scurrying up trees, stealing birdseed, terrorizing our dogs. Little, vicious, rabid, conniving bundles of fur. We feed them, we mock them, we sometimes even eat them. They live perched on the fence between fluffy cuteness and the food chain. Sometimes a pet, sometimes an entree.

Usually we’re fine with them. We’re bigger and scarier. They haven’t figured out that we are absolutely petrified at the thought of being bitten by one of them. Like little babies, they’re adorable, but with a dark side not often mentioned in polite company.

In our back woods my dad once cut down a tree that a squirrel was residing in. The squirrel leaped from the falling tree and ran for what he thought was another tree. It was my dad’s leg. He got about hip high before he realized trees don’t usually wear jeans, gave my dad the squirrel equivalent of the ‘Oh, shit!’ look, and leaped again. Happy ending – my dad lived, the squirrel relocated, and the balance of power between Man and Mini-fur-things was maintained.

In the city, however, Darwin’s pecking order had mutated into something I had never seen before. Unblinking, his cheeks full of bread, the urban squirrel waddled toward me, swinging his hips like a gunslinger, a pudgy stare worthy of William Shatner. He stopped at the edge of the table, still glaring, and made a weird chirping sound. It sounded something like, “Bring it on.”

No way, I thought, am I getting dissed by an arrogant metro-rodent. I laughed and said, “You are SO out of your league, tree-freak.” I know he understood because he tapped his chest twice and chirped again. Then he drew in a deep breath, as deep as he could take with a mouth full of stolen rye.

Suddenly he leapt from the table and ran straight at me, chirping nonstop at the top of his little Bronx lungs, spewing bits of toast everywhere. Surprised and stumbling, I backpedalled into the hallway as fast as I could. He was inches from me when I slammed the bathroom door in his face, knocking still more bread bits from his cheek. He scratched viciously at the door, calling me all sorts of bad names in squirrel-talk.

Finally the chattering stopped. I waited a few more minutes, looking about for a weapon with which to defend myself. I thought about tossing a towel over him. Not my towel, of course. Could be risky if he escaped, so I passed on the idea. I grabbed my roommate’s toothbrush and peeked out the door.

The fur-pig was scarfing down the rest of my breakfast. He glowered back at me, trying to chirp, but was too full to say much. Instead, in a gesture of squirrelly rebellion, he pushed over my glass of juice, as if to say, “Let this be a warning.”

I thought I could slink down the hallway to my room, get my keys and leave. He saw me try to escape and jumped to the floor again, running toward me, amazingly quick for a chubby chunk of fur. I was forced to retreat back into the bathroom.

This went on for nearly forty minutes. That corpulent bad-ass held rule over my house, keeping me trapped in the bathroom, while he trashed the kitchen. I was now quite late for class. Finally he was gone.

The first facet of an event is the experience itself. The rest, the sizzle to the steak as it were, is in the telling. I suppose I could have lied to my teacher, invented a believable story to explain my tardiness. In hindsight that would have served me better than the peals of laughter that met my truth.

And to whomever left the stuffed squirrel in my seat in class the next day, I will find you.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Day! From my two young sons, I received the following coupons:

We have a dishwasher.

We have automatic sprinklers.

It's the thought that counts. I can guarantee a tremendous amount of thought went into these coupons.

I love my kids.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ghost-writing for God

Is any part of the Bible written by a woman? I don't ever remember being in church and hearing the words A reading of the Holy Gospel according to Irene. Maybe at least an editor credit or something? Nothing that I could find, but hey, that's a lot of reading so I may have missed something. I did some research, which is a Biblical term meaning I googled my wiki.

  • The Book of Ruth is a great story about a couple of women saving the family after the guys all die, but no one seems to think it was written by a woman. Wikipedia says any evidence of that is 'circumstantial.' By the way, at a puny four chapters, it's the shortest book. Ahem.

  • The Book of Judith rocks in a This is how it's done, boys kind of way. She seduces and beheads the bad guy. Lots of guys fall for her after that. She never marries. This is where the cowgirl rides away. Angelina Jolie could make this a blockbuster and a video game. Unless she already did with Tomb Raider.

  • The Book of Esther was a bit confusing. Esther marries the king after his last wife won't 'dance,' which is a biblical term meaning 'that dog won't hunt.' She doesn't tell him she's Jewish, but her dad helps save the king's life. Long story short- lots of people die, but the king learns that Jews are good people, too. Only Spielberg could do this one right. Even then, lots of plot fixes needed. Wonder how network wonks feel about messing with holy scripture - "We ADORE the battle scenes, but Esther needs to show a bit more leg."

Anyway, lots of fun, hair-raising stories about women, but no prominent women writers. Are they still taking submissions to the Bible? Maybe The Book of Annie? Not sure. Haven't seen anything new from God in a while. She should really get a blog or at least a chat room. Dear God - Whine.

Wanna rewrite the Bible with me? Come on, it'll be fun! First, let's go Evesdropping:

Interviewer:We're here with the first lady of, well, the very first lady. So, what did you see in this guy, Adam?

Eve: Who knows! You know how it is. The first time it always seems so special, you can’t imagine being with anyone else, the world is your fantasy. Next thing you know – boom! The fantasy is history and you need new clothes ASAP. Not to complain, though – who would listen? It’s not like I could go home to Mother. And the kids – jeez, how they would carry on. Adam wasn’t much help there, either – “Are you sure these boys are mine?” Real funny. Thank goodness I didn’t have to worry about them dating.

Int: That brings up an interesting point. You were the first family, but how did you, um, carry on the line?

Eve: There comes a point in your kid’s life where you just have to trust them. You just gotta say, “Son, have a good time tonight, be safe, and have the oxcart home by midnight.” So, yes, I’m blurry on a few details, but hey, here we all are, aren’t we? That includes you, too, Darwin. If I ever catch you pokin' your evolutionary nose around here again, I'm gonna kick your stinkin'-

Int: We were curious, because certain things don't seem to be addressed very well in the Bible.

Eve: Come on, it was written by men. Big on fancy special effects but dim on basic plot lines. Throw in a car chase, an explosion, walk on water, part a sea, yadda-yadda, lotsa begettin'-begattin' and they forget everything else.

Int: So you're saying the Bible isn't accurate?

Eve: Are you trying to get me in trouble? I could lose my pension!

Int: Are you and Adam still together?

Eve: Absolutely. He plays golf. I've got canasta. It's all good. Why, what have you heard?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sunday is Chicken-whacking Day

After church on Sunday morning, we had what I hope is a unique ritual. We'd attend Mass at the Church of the Good Shepherd. After that, we'd head home, change clothes, and kill chickens.

It was more organized than I make it seem, though. We had about twenty Rhode Island Red hens, kept for laying eggs. We also had over a hundred white Leghorn 'meat' birds, raised for, well, meat. The fact is, chicken nuggets, chicken breasts, and chicken tenders all, surprisingly, come from chickens.

Not a fact many like to face, and better off overlooked, especially at dinner time. However, on our farm we got to see many pretty ugly facts right up close and personal.

Everyone had a job to do. My assignment was to pick who, on that particular Sunday, was going to die. I would peer about the hen house, looking for a likely candidate. Stepping on my foot was a good way to get chosen. Any eye contact with me was another way to receive an invitation.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been *mumble-mumble* days since my last confession. Since then, I have hit my brother, scared my sister, and killed fifty chickens.”

“Yes, my child….Wh-what? Chickens?”

“Yes, Father.”

“You killed them?”

“Yes, Father.”

Long silence.

Fifty of them?”

“Yes, Father.”

Another long silence.

“3 ‘Hail Mary’s’ and an ‘Our Father.’”

“Thank you, Father.”

Thou Shalt Not Kill. I guess there are exceptions to every rule.

I’d chicken-pick, taking the victim to my dad, who would sling the bird upside down, suspending it from a crosspole by baling twine looped around its feet. As you can imagine, it would flap and squawk, until my dad put a board behind its neck and lopped its head off with a hatchet.

One bird, however, had other ideas. As the hatchet came down, he zigged when my dad thought he’d zag. Contact was made, but not cleanly, and the bird was somehow able to slip out of its leg noose and run away, head dangling to the side. Yes, indeed, a chicken with its head cut off, just as bizarre and awful as you imagine.

It ran down the hill, all helter-skelter, finally collapsing a few hundred yards away. As I went to retrieve it I felt a bit sick. A gallant, desperate try, ending in futility and eventually on my dinner plate. I considered maybe some sort of medal would be in order but I didn’t know how to notify his next of kin.

After soaking the bodies in hot water to loosen the quills, we kids would pluck off the feathers. My grandmother, Nana, had the nasty job of gutting the birds. She seemed to enjoy it, though. As she sliced and whittled, I would hear her muttering under her breath, “Well, Margie, you thought I wouldn’t find out, but I did, didn’t I, you little tramp! And now we meet again!” Sometimes Nana really scared me.

We’d perform this ritual ten times every Sunday, with most of the chickens going into the freezer for later. When my friends at school asked me what I did over the weekend, I always neglected to mention this part. In hindsight, perhaps if they knew what happened to those who crossed me, I might have earned more respect from the ‘in’ crowd.

I had friends who’d just as soon not know the short life history of their nuggets. I had other friends who hunted and didn’t blink twice at things like this. Fair enough. While it was a most unpleasant experience, I must say the chicken was the best I’ve ever tasted in my life. So it was a trade-off. Good food is often not guilt-free.

Not all the birds went the way of the plate. As mentioned earlier, the egg-layers were exempt from execution. We also had a few pet chickens, including my rooster, Chump. An elegant, svelte, white Leghorn, Chump would parade about the henhouse like he owned the place. He wasn’t quite housebroken and disliked being on a leash, but he’d come when you called him and could be trusted not to wander too far away. He liked to be scratched right in the small of his back and near the top of his drumsticks.

And he wasn’t too fond of Sundays.

Monday, May 5, 2008

If You Give a Kid a Truly Disgusting Story, He'll Probably Want You to Stop

Remember the old days when your parents would bark "No, because I said so!" and that was that? Now it’s a no-no. We're supposed to explain things clearly and patiently to our children. We consider their views, listen to their feelings, email their therapists, and then tell them, "No, because your therapist said so."

As a single mom, I worried about keeping my boys in line. I didn’t exactly want to be a dad, yet I needed some way to keep them from destroying the house and each other.

Remember the never-ending 'Why?' questions? Frustrating, especially when combined with the ‘No, I won’t’ snipe and the incredibly smackable ‘You’re not the boss of me’ retort.

Child: Mom, can I jump off the stairs?
Mom: No.
Child: Why not?
Mom: You might get hurt.
Child: No, I won't!

And around we’d go, wearing us down until we’d wonder if jail time for assault might be a nice way to get some peace and quiet (it is, by the way). However, with rising court costs, you might want to consider another option I discovered – the over-the-top, graphic explanation that grosses them out so badly they never even consider doing something that moronic ever again.

Child: Mom, can I jump off the stairs?
Me: No.
Child: Why not?
Me: You might break your scapula on the banister and spurt blood all over the carpeting. While we’re at the emergency room having your bones re-set, the blood will set into the carpet and never come out, so when your friends come over, they'll see the stain and ask about it, and I'll tell them and they'll laugh at you for trying something so ridiculous. Would you like a cookie?

See the steps?
1) Gross them out
2) Mention potential embarrassment
3) Lead the topic in another direction

Eventually my kids dreaded the gruesome responses so much that when they made the mistake of asking to do something dangerous, their faces would twist in fear and my stories were no longer necessary. Too bad, since I had nearly turned it into an art form.

Recently, however, instead of asking permission, they’ve opted for the quicker route of just doing whatever stupid thing they wanted to do. At least I don't have to hear the whining and arguing. However, accidents have increased slightly, so as an added deterrent, I’ve amended our agreement to include the following ‘emergency room’ financial rider:

I, _______________________, do hereby agree that if/when I damage myself or my parents’ dwelling, I will be held responsible for any costs incurred in the repair thereof, as well as any damages incurred by siblings, neighbors, and/or pets, in the pursuit of incredibly stupid stunts that I knew better than to attempt in the first place.

Said costs will be deducted from my allowance, and my children’s allowance after that, until repaid in full.
Interest will be added at the discretion of my mother and the Federal Reserve Bank. I understand that management also retains the right to publish, for profit and potential embarrassment, any inane misadventures attached to said costs.

_______________________ date_____

______________________ date_____

Feel free to make it your own!