Sunday, July 30, 2006
  Calling All Cooks

Michele sent me over to meet Phoenix. She is helping put together a "World Of Bloggers Cookbook". She is asking for recipes, cover art , a dedication page and some illustrations. Some of the proceeds will go to charity. She's asking for input on that as well. Interested ? Check it out.

Thursday, July 27, 2006
  Fresh Air Sold Separately

If you have a toddler in your life, chances are you are familiar with the Baby Einstein videos. If you've never seen one let me tell you, they are quite delightful. The Baby Einstein people know their target audience . Using puppets, toys and classical music the videos can hold the attention of a little one for longer than you would imagine possible. It works on big people too. More than once we adults realized that we were still watching even though the Cutie Patootie had wandered off to new pursuits.

They know the people who control the purse strings of their target audience as well, wisely selling the puppets and many of the toys they use in their videos. One DVD has amazing toys in it. I think it's Baby Bach, although I am not willing to go back and watch it to be sure. Whichever one it is has a segment with stacking tops. They spin one at a time or on top of each other. I thought they would be great fun to have when the Cutie Patooie comes over. So I went online to find the exact ones. Of course , they aren't sold by baby Einstein and they didn't list a link for them. So I ventured further out onto the internet. I did find site in The UK, but it seems silly to convert Pounds and Shilling to Dollars and Cents for about $5 worth of toy. Not to mention shipping. I figured I could find them closer to home.

I took myself off to the big toy store, run by the giraffe. I looked up and down every aisle but didn't see any tops, stacking or otherwise. A woman with a name tag and a smock was approaching. I asked her if she knew where I could find tops.

"Tops" she queried. "like spinning tops?" I replied affirmatively.

""Just plain old tops, no plug, no batteries, not having anything at all to do with a Playstation. Just plain old manually operated tops?" Again, I replied in the affirmative.

"I don't think we have anything like that. Kind of a shame, don't you think?"

Yes I do.

Monday, July 24, 2006
  The Donald

Sarcasdad and I raised three wonderful daughters. Three females. Watching my grandson as he grows has definitely driven home the point that girls and boys are wired differently. That sort of explains why when we go to a movie I think it's boring if all they do is blow things up, while Sarcasdad will find that entertaining. Of course, Fried Green Tomatoes captivates me , but would put him to sleep. I think it's safe to say that males and females view humor differently as well.

The Cutie Patootie is a fan of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. He refers to the Big Mouse as something that sounds like "pizzapizza" to me. His Mom thinks he may be trying to say "Meeska Mooska", the magic words to open the clubhouse. That could be it. But he has Donald Duck's name right on. He likes Donald. The other night after watching an episode on tape I asked Pop Pop Sarcasdad if he could still talk like Donald Duck. He could, which made the CP squeal with delight. And then the CP did it right back to him. Nineteen months old and already a member of the boys club.

I shudder to think what will happen if he ewer sees the Three Stooges.

Saturday, July 22, 2006
  The Stalker

It's a good thing I have amusing friends, or I might never have anything to blog about. This story is about Lucy, my friend from Backwards Borough. You remeber Lucy.

Lucy answered the phone at the Supermarket where she works. There was a slightly agitated man on the other end of the line.

Man: Can you tell me why we are out of trash bags.?
Lucy: I'm sorry, what do you need?
Man: Trash bags! just tell me where the damn trash bags are !!
Lucy: The ones on sale ?
Man: I don't know if they're on sale. I just need a thirteen gallon trash bag!

Lucy said the caller was really getting worked up over trash bags. She also thought that he was calling on a cell phone, and drawing on her years of experience in customer service she deduced that the guy was a raving maniac, in the store on a cell phone, about to go postal. So she put him on hold and called for the grocery manager to deal with him. When the grocery manager got off the phone he told Lucy that the man sounded irrational, and that he might even be a stalker because he kept asking for Lucy by name. Lucy said the voice was somewhat familiar to her so it was possibly someone who she had waited on in the store.

The phone rang again, Lucy answered and was relieved to hear her husband on the other end.

Lucy:thank goodness. I thought you might be the stalker.
Hubby:What stalker?
Lucy:Some crazy guy who called yelling about trash bags.
Hubby: That was me!!! I was outside raking leaves and I can't find the trash bags! And why did you put that other guy on the phone?

Sometimes I miss the Borough

Wednesday, July 12, 2006
  Bea, the Bra, and the Drag Queen

This story is not really mine to tell. It happened to a friend, but it's too good not to share. I really doubt that she, or anyone from this group of aquaintances will ever stumble across my blog. Just in case , I am changing all the names and being intentionally vague about some details. So here is the story about "Bea" the bra, and the drag queen.

My friend Bea had two family functions to attend last weekend, a birthday party on Saturday and a wedding on Sunday. She was so not looking forward to going that as of Friday afternoon she had not decided what she was wearing to either obligation. On her way home from work she stopped at the mall . At the first store she went to she found an outfit for the party, and for the wedding she purchased the uniform of every middle aged, middle of the road, woman with old fashioned values,who is not on the shape she wishes she was . Black pants and a black jacket. Remember it's July in Philadelphia, where it's not the heat, it's the humidity. She couldn't find a shirt so she went to another store. This one caters to plus size women. A salesgirl looked at the pantsuit and bought Bea a selection of shimmery tank tops. Now, Bea is not a tank top wearing type of woman. But one was a pretty sea-foam green. And she figured that if she kept the jacket on she might just be able to pull it off. When she tried it on it was a little more low cut than she likes so she went out to the store wearing the tank top and asked if they had something a little less revealing. From across the display racks came a booming voice that said "Girl, all you need is the right bra". The voice belonged to a rather tall, dark skinned man dressed as a woman right down to the hair and nails. His name bade identified him as a store employee. He was bearing down on Bea with a tape measure in hand. As he approached Bea started backing away. "Don't you worry honey" said the drag queen. "You ain't got nothin' Ronnie wants to see". There was some measuring and some adjusting and Ronnie left and returned with a bra that Bea would never in a million years have picked for herself. She tried it on with the shirt and even she had to admi t- she looked good! She went back out onto the salesfloor for Ronnie's approval which he gave. "When you got it, you have to flaunt it" it told her. Bea let Ronnie pick out a couple more things for her. He told her she shouldn't wear black and gave her a list of colors that would compliment her complexion. She told him he got her into the bra, and that was enough for now. Ronnie said they were gonna work on it.

When Bea got home she showed the outfit to her son who couldn't believe his mother was going to wear it out of the house. He vowed to be home to see her leave for the wedding. He was and he told her she looked awesome.

On Monday morning, Bea called Ronnie and the store and told him what a success the outfit had been. And to expect visits from all of her friends.

"You tell them Ronnie will be here waiting"

Saturday, July 08, 2006
  Bat Ball Yea!

Last night we took the Cutie Patootie to his very first major league baseball game. His Mom came along too. Sarcasdad's job doesn't offer many perks, but every once in a while he comes home with some primo seats for baseball games. Fourteen rows behind home plate ! I was really surprised that he was offered the tickets for this game because there were fireworks scheduled for afterwards. It always packs the stadium, and this night was no exception.

I don't know if it's because he is all boy, or if his father is whispering sports related sweet nothings in his ear while he sleeps, but the CP loves balls. Especially baseballs, or, as he refers to them, bat-balls. And bah-balls, or as we like to call them, basketballs.

He was uncharacteristically quiet at first. His Mom said it was sensory overload. There were so many people. The park seats 43,500 and this was a sold out night.. There was the largest LED display board in the National Leauge, alternating electronic flags waving in the breeze and real-time pictures of game goers. And the music and the vendors and the roar of the crowd. Once he settled in he watched the action on the field, occasionaly clapping and cheering with the masses. He seemed most fascinated by the foul balls that sailed backwards over our heads.

As little boys do, he got antsy. On a regular game night there is usually some breathing room around us. But, as I said, the place was packed. So we took turns taking the CP for a walk. My turn came around the sixth inning. It was closing in on the CP's bedtime and he wanted to be held, so we actually took up a spot behind our seating section, and with the CP resting on my hip, I imparted my vast knowledge of baseball to him. ( That noise you hear is the rest of the Sarcas- family having a giggle .) I told him that the pitcher and the catcher are on the same team and that's why they wore the same uniform. And I told him that the batter was supposed to get a hit. And that even though he seemed captivated by the foul balls, the batter was trying to hit it in the other direction. I don't know much, but I do know more than he does. At least for now.

A man appeared beside us. I think he worked there. An elderly gentleman wearing Khakis, a while polo and sporting a multicolored security badge. He held up a baseball. "Here Sweetie" he said to the CP. "Because you can't run for them", and he gave the ball to my grandson. It was an actual MLB baseball, slightly used. He said he had found it down on the field.The CP took it in one hand and held it close to his chest. The smile that lit up his face would have obliterated any fireworks display. I thanked the man and told him of the CP's penchant for all things spherical. "so you like baseball? the man said. "Give me five." The CP took his other hand from around my neck and slapped the man's upright palm.

We left after the seventh inning. The weather wasn't cooperating. The forecasted scattered showers had materialized as a constant steady rain through most of the game. The little guy was tired and we all had to work the next day. And there was going to be no topping that ball. Of course there was a quick stop at the gift shop for a T-shirt and because his Mom vetoed the miniature wooden bat, a foam rubber one.

Settled into his car seat for the trip home, with his ball in one hand and his bat in the other, the CP gave his review of the evening's festivities.
He said "bat-ball yea! Bat-ball Yea!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006
  What is a Twelve Letter Word For.......

............the study of puzzles ? *

Back in April I received an email from Sarcasmo. It basically said "guess where I am & guess who else is here". The where was easy. The Philadelphia Film Festival was in full swing and being the film buff, I knew she was at a screening. The who was solved with the next email, a picture of Will Shortz. If you are a crossword puzzle aficionado, you know who that is is. Will Shortz is the editor of the New York Times Crossword Puzzle, and he was appearing at a screening of Wordplay. Sarcasmo has hobnobbed with some directors and actors as a festival goer and as a published film reviewer. But this was the only time I was envious.

I used to have this ritual. On Sunday afternoon I would sit down to read the Sunday paper. One of the last sections is Entertainmet. On the last inside page of that section our paper runs the Sunday New York Times Crossword. As soon as Sarcasdad was also through with that part I would remove the outer pages and fold them carefully so that the crossword and clues were a workable area. There is also a cryptogram which I did first as a warm-up. Then I would begin the puzzle. As many of the puzzle solvers featured in the movie said-show me empty boxes and I gotta fill them in. If you never tried a NYT Sunday puzzle, let me clue you in. It's tough. The crosswords in the Times increase in difficulty from Monday on, leading up to the piece de resistance on Sunday. Our local paper only runs the Sunday one. Thank goodness, because it usually takes me a couple of days. In fact, I would give myself until Wednesday night, and however complete the puzzle was I was done. There is no cheating. I will not allow myself to look up an answer to finish the puzzle. Usually I can finish them with maybe a space or two empty or filled in with a questionable letter. Occasionally they stump me and I have to admit defeat. And, ever so rarely, I could finish it the same say I started it. So I thought I was pretty good. Until I saw the movie.

Wordplay is a series of interviews woven into the story of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament held in Stamford Connecticut. The people who compete do these puzzles in minutes. Not days. Minutes. They time themselves with stopwatches. One puzzle fanatic has kept a journal of his time everyday for years. I briefly considered timing myself, but I do the puzzle to relax, not to add more stress to my life.

Wordplay is a fun movie for anyone to see, but a crossword fan will defiantly relate to the people in in the film. The audience was small when Saracsmo and I went to the theater last Sunday. There was murmured assent among us when celebrity puzzle doers were polled about their writing implement of choice (pen. It has to be done in ink!),and conspiratorial laughter when Jon Stewart admitted that if away from home he will do another paper's crossword, but will not feel fulfilled when he is done.

A couple of things have gotten in the way of the "Sunday Ritual" lately. The crossword puzzles are piling up. I thought about just throwing them out and beginning again with this Sunday's puzzle. But I can't dispose of them untried, anymore than I can pass on a book yet unread. So I collect them, and picture myself in September, in Aruba, on a beach chair next to Sarcasdad, with a stack of puzzles, a supply of pens and a Bahama Mamma. I'll catch up then.

*the answer is enigmatology.

Saturday, July 01, 2006
  Happy Fizzies Party

The weather in the Northeast part of the US has been somewhat contrary. There has been torrential rain and massive flooding. The kind of flooding that causes news people to stand knee deep in brown river water interviewing weeping homeowners who live feet from said rivers and then cry when the water overflows it's banks. I guess that information isn't disclosed with the home inspection.
Sarcasmo Jr. forwarded me some pictures of the flooding in Bear Country where she resides. She is well above water, but has spent the last few days helping those not as fortunate. One of the pictures was of kids swimming in the street. That prompted a memory from long ago.
When I was a kid I lived blocks from where I live now. In the city. But , in a relatively newly developed section back then, when compared to other sections . Our sewer system was apparently not up to snuff. Whenever heavy summer rains were forecast my father would do one of two thing. Either he would move our 1959 Ford ( named Betsy) to higher ground a few streets away, or if there was no room left at the op of the hill he would tie it to our Spruce tree with rope and hope for the best. That sucker floated quite a few times. Every time it rained like that somebody, some newbie who didn't heed the warnings, saw their vehicle float away to streets unknown.
Do you remember Fizzies? They were effervescent tablets that turned tap water into rootbeer and cola. You dropped them in the glass and watched them ffizzzzzzzzzzzzz. When the rains came and the storm drains could no longer contain the pressure, the manhole covers at either end of the block would suddenly rise up into the air. This, my mother would proclaim was a Happy Fiizzsies Party. The street would flood as well as our basement. My brother who was thirteen years older than me, and his friends would all go swimming in the street Of course, being 4 or 5 years old I was not allowed to join them. At the time I found this to be incredibly unfair, but no amount of crying and pleading would make my mother budge.
Of course my poor parents were having anything but a Happy Fizzies Party. They were dealing with water in the basement. After the first time it happened, everything possible was put up on cinder blocks. Even still, there was always some damage and concern about the heater. Makes me wonder why my brother was out swimming in the street when he should have been helping in the house. On our side of the street the homes were higher up over above ground foundations. On the other side you entered at street level. Those poor neighbors must have really had a mess on their hands.
The city eventually fixed the sewer systems and the flooding stopped. But in Bear Country there are still kids swimming in the street. And maybe a little sister crying at the screen door because she can't join in.

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