The latest in strange illnesses to hit my house

I woke up last Wednesday with a stiff neck. I went to work, and it just kept getting stiffer and more uncomfortable. I did some ibuprofen loading and that took the edge off - when I got home, I took a Vicodin, and that really helped.

But it was back on Thursday. And Friday, when I called in sick. Now, not only was my neck stiff, but it hurt to swallow, my glands in my throat were swollen, I could feel a sinus infection starting on the right side of my face and my right ear was itchy.

I've had it every day since last Wednesday. It has eased up a bit today, and I went to my sister's house to exchange Xmas gifts and told her about it. And she said she had the exact same thing about 2 weeks ago. If it doesn't clear up by this Wednesday, I'll have to see if I can get in to see my ENT.


Fans of Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber:

Loki is writing something based on the Amber books. Please visit his blog for excerpts, like this one.

Feeling Blue

My mood today is switching between crankiness and melancholy.

I knew this Christmas was not going to be perfect, but it ended up being much farther away from perfect than I expected. Two friends died in the week before Xmas. Loki has some health issues that are going to take some time to resolve, and in the meantime, he's driving me a little crazy over both his health issues and some other things. I was overscheduled due to my three jobs and school. And our budget is so tight that there is little margin for wastefulness, but we, of course, had an unexpected and unwanted $400 expense.

In addition, I am sort of in a bind with taking time off from work. I'm feeling really overwhelmed, and I think I need to take some time off, but because I'm just a lowly admin asst (title-wise and pay-wise only: responsiblity-wise, I am way beyond admin asst), I can't take time off without coordinating with my fellow admin assts - and they are both out for the rest of the week. So I'm stuck here.

And I have a sort of overarching unpleasant feeling lurking inside me. I have a lot of things that I have to figure out, and way too many demands on my time that I should take to do so.

I kind of feel like checking into a hotel room for a day, just to be by myself, just me and my thoughts.


I'm devolving

I'm a
Insignificant Microbe
in the
TTLB Ecosystem

Jeez, and earlier today I was a Slithering Reptile!

ETA: And now I'm a Marauding Marsupial. I went from being ranked 21,000+ to being ranked 6040.

I'm not sure I trust these rankings!

Cat or meerkat?

This was the second time I caught Madouc sitting like this. Something caught her eye outside, and she couldn't quite see high enough, so up she popped. She sat like this for about 5 minutes, occasionally stretching up even higher. She's a funny cat.

Our Christmas Tree

Completely decorated by my children. I almost posted another picture that allows you to see the disco ball star on top a little bit better, but this one won out for clarity.


Review: Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Although I had read that the movie was a fairly straightforward adaptation of the original musical, Tim Burton made the choice that the actors would sing without reaction from anyone they interacted with (unless the other character was also singing). I think that is probably a good choice to make for a film of this material, but I was disappointed to lose the chorus numbers, like The Ballad of Sweeney Todd, God That's Good, and the haunting quintet on The Letter.

I also was slightly disappointed that they truncated some of the numbers, like By The Sea, although again, I can justify the decision to do so because the reason some of those songs are included at the length they are in the stage show in the first place is to accommodate set and costume changes, which were unnecessary for a film. I can't say that I missed the lover's frantic duet or the extended version of Pirelli's Miracle Elixir.

Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter both delivered very good performances, acting-wise. One complaint that I've had at various productions of Sweeney Todd is when Mrs. Lovett is turned into some kind of sex maniac. Yes, Mrs. Lovett desires Sweeney, but it's all delusional: she desires a man who doesn't exist - she imagines some sort of normal life for them, but Sweeney is broken, possibly irreparably, before he ever walks into her meat shop. They avoided going down that road in the film.

I thought Alan Rickman was quite good in his role as Judge Turpin. He's a sick man, a predator and capable of great cruelty, and yet sees himself as a trully moral man - he has that kind of self-delusion that a lot of powerful people seem to have.

Sascha Baron Cohen provided both comic relief and some menace as Pirelli. Ed Saunders was Toby, and I'm not sure they could have cast the part more perfectly. He had a baby face and that sweet unchanged voice, but also deftly portrayed that Toby had experienced a hard life and didn't have high expectations for the future.

The story of the lovers got short shrift in the film, which I think was a good choice. Jayne Wisener as Joanna looked like a doll, but as in the stage show, she is less naive than her would-be lover, Anthony Hope. I thought Jamie Bower's voice was a little thin and reedy for the part, but when he sang in the Joanna reprise, I could understand a little better why they cast him, since his thin and reedy voice made Depp's sound positively beefy.

No one else I was with noticed, but there was a cameo by Anthony Stewart Head (causing me to squee: GILES! Although only silently, because I am respectful of others at the movies). Which makes me disappointed that they didn't have him sing anything.

On to the singing! My main complaint about Depp's singing is that too often, he closed the vowel, e.g. "I will have vennnngeance" instead of "I will have veeeengeance", which is sort of a general no-no when singing in a non-rock/non-pop style. That wasn't enough to detract from what was overall a terrific perfomance. He captured the emotional resonance of the character so well.

Bonham-Carter had fairly poor breath support - there was a lot of swooping to the right pitch, and breathiness, and she didn't really hold anything out, but her voice had a sweet clear tone. She did handle the patter of Mrs. Lovett's songs well, and I could understand every word.

I was underwhelmed by the presentation of A Little Priest. Although the choices Burton made can be defended, I didn't feel exhilarated at the end, as I usually do. I did like the nod to the blocking of the original production, though, with Todd and Lovett holding up their "weapons": a butcher's knife and a rolling pin. I would have preferred a more vigorous presentation, but I didn't direct the movie, so all I can do is tell you that in my head, it's a lot more exciting of a number.

The orchestrations were great - they are reason enough to buy the soundtrack. The songs and chorus parts that were cut are in the orchestration, so if you are anything like me, you'll sing along where the movie does not.

All in all, it was a worthwhile adaptation of what is possibly my favorite musical. Not perfect, but very good.


Need a laugh?

I recommend McSweeney's Reviews of New Food

A taste:

Gatorade A.M.

Submitted by Chris Olwell

The bottle says Gatorade A.M. helps put back the fluids and energy you lose during a full night's sleep, to which I reply: "It's about time." Finally, someone has engineered an athletic drink for people like me, Athletes of Sleep—people for whom it is less physically taxing to be awake than asleep.

I had to try it. So recently, after a thoroughly exhausting night of sleeping, I woke up with orange-strawberry. I quickly regained all the energy I lost by sleeping so hard.

Sleeping like I do drains fluids from the human body at an astonishing rate. But after drinking 20 ounces of Gatorade A.M., I had fluids to spare. I peed three times in three hours! Four times in four hours! I, and the scientists of the world, remain confounded by the fact that any one of those pees would've filled two 20-ounce Gatorade bottles. Easily.

Plus, Gatorade A.M. also works in the afternoon and early evening if that's when you wake up. A-fucking-mazing.


The Late Al Rawlins

My friend Al Rawlins died yesterday morning.

I met him in 2000, when I started singing in the church choir in Hartford. He was a bass in the choir. He also taught music in the Hartford school system and at the church, where he was Monkey's first music teacher.

Al reminded me of my husband in so many ways. They are both tall and thin, they both are great conversationalists, and neither one of them are ever on time.

At Thursday night rehearsals, he would routinely show up 20-25 minutes after rehearsal started. Sunday mornings, we often wouldn't see him until just before the service started. At our concerts, we would always have to wait for Al before we could "melt" into place (it was our way: we are a choir that hates processing, so we would just go to our seats in the minutes leading up to the concert start time, in no particular order.)

We had a Pops concert every spring, and the year we were singing songs from Disney movies, no one could find Al. We were all in our seats, and there was no Al. All of a sudden, he came running into the room, dressed as the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, singing "I'm Late". The audience loved it, but I think the choir loved it even more.

R.I.P. Al


How Can I Keep From Singing?

Well, this has been a big fat week of singing for me, and it's not over yet.

MONDAY: first rehearsal with Harmonious Soul. I was late, which makes me angry, but I do have an excuse. My dog got out of the house while I was at work and he got picked up by the pound, so I had to go bail him out of jail. Poor guy was hoarse from barking, and he lost his collar somewhere, but he's home and warm and safe and well-fed. I am only sad that I couldn't bring home the other dogs, but Loki is not a dog person, so I couldn't bring another canine home *and* stay married.

Okay, so I was a little late, but I apparently missed some socializing. They are a lovely bunch of women, they were so welcoming and I felt appreciated. When I say lovely, I am just scratching the surface. I can't tell you the last time I sat with a group of women I just met and thought "I fit here". So it was great. We worked on 3 songs (On Children; First Date; Ave Maria), got a CD of songs that are currently in the HS repertoire, made a decision about business cards, and then I had to head home.

TUESDAY: Dress rehearsal for Madrigals and Chorale. I cannot say enough wonderful things about my Madrigals teacher, he is just a fantastic teacher, and I wish we had enough skill in our class to sing the songs with the love and passion and ability they deserve. We are singing a gorgeous Vaughan Williams piece "The Lover's Ghost" and an arrangement of "Weep O Mine Eyes" by one of my classmates (who used to be one of Sio's classmates). Dress did not go well. Flat, lifeless....it was sad.

Then came Chorale dress rehearsal. We are singing (and I use that word loosely in this context) "For Unto Us" from The Messiah (or as this group sings it: foruntouSSS a chald is bohorn), Bring A Torch, Jeanette, Isabella, Sanctus from Leonard Bernstein's Mass, and a horrible "gospelite" song that starts with a spoken word introduction that goes, roughly: "This is for that little boy who doesn't have a father, and all the people with AIDS...." Seriously. One of my fellow altos and I have been adding additional lines, like "and for that dog that got run over"

I got a little frustrated and totally took over directing the chorale during the Handel. I did hear some improvement from the men when it came to the rhythm of the "and the goverment..." section. I appreciate that our director allowed me to take the reins, she was frustrated herself, but I figure that when you have said the same thing 50 times, sometimes it helps to find another way to say it.

WEDNESDAY: Been listening to my HS CD....I love almost all the songs we're doing, but some of the bass lines will need to be spiced up, I think. My wonderful Mads teacher called for another rehearsal, so I picked Monkey up from school and she came with me. We made a lot of progress. We have two people in the group who don't have good tuning, that can't be helped at this point (it's supposed to be an audition only class, but they leave it open for people to apply...I hope they change that, because too much time is spent learning notes), but I think we won't embarrass our leader, either.

I'm giddy tonight because I don't have to work tomorrow or Friday! I'm kind of bummed, though, because we're supposed to get 6" of snow tomorrow.

Later in this singing week:

THURSDAY: Depending on the weather, I have rehearsal for my church gig, which is always slightly depressing.

FRIDAY: Sio comes home from school! And I have my school concert. Loki will come, because there is free food, put out by the culinary students. I don't know if he'll ever make it into the auditorium, but he'll be there.

P.S. The title of this post is a link to a piece of sheet music arranged by Sio's high school choral director. It's a beautiful a cappella piece, you can hear a sample performance at the link (the basses are a little too loud in the sample, but it gives you the general idea)

The lyrics are:

My life goes on in endless song
above earth's lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a new creation.

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear it's music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth, it liveth.
And though the darkness 'round me close,
songs in the night it giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm,
while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
how can I keep from singing?



I'm with the band

I got it! I'm now a bass with Harmonious Soul.

what I'm listening to tonight

Wish the sound was better on this one. I can *almost* taste the deliciousness.

I love singing this arrangement


Although I'm not religious, I kind of love the imagery of Jesus Christ as an apple tree. It's so humble.

Hey, it's my friend Sarah! She probably weighs about 80 lbs. soaking wet, amazing voice, and as charming and delightful as she is as Despina on stage, that is but a pale imitation of Sarah as herself. Love her!


My giant head

A couple of posts down, I commented on the general largeness of my head.

Yesterday, I went to buy a new hat. My old earflap hat met an untimely end, so I needed a new one. I tried on several hats in the women's section, and none of them fit me. So I went to the men's section (where there is a greater selection of ear flap hats, since women should always be stylish, even if they have to suffer and freeze their ears off, while men can be warm and goofy looking), and tried on hats there.

My friends, the only size hat that fit me in the store was an EXTRA LARGE men's hat. It's very nice, wool tweed on the outside with a faux wool lining, but....EXTRA LARGE MEN'S.


The Audition

It went okay. I took Minstrel Boy's advice (since I have absolute trust in his judgement on music), and they really enjoyed the song. I was a little shaky from nerves when I sang it, which I hope they will spot me.

We also did some exercises. I could tell they were impressed with how low I can sing (B below the C below middle C - impressed eyebrows were raised, I still have resonance that low, provided I'm not too warmed up). I sang in close harmony with one of the members; I thought it sounded good, I listened to her and adjusted to her dynamics, and I had no problem keeping my part accurate.

They said they will have a callback next Monday, so I have another round ahead of me. Thanks everyone for your input on which song to sing.


Ignore the fabulous production values...

...and the double chin, please*, and vote (in the comments) for which of the two songs below you prefer. I have an audition coming up and I'm trying to figure out what song to sing.

(Be aware: I am singing these songs at approximately 7:30 a.m., I'm not even a little bit warmed up, and I'm sitting down so my breath support is not all it could be. I just wanted to hear myself singing each song so I determine which one I like better.)

*I am occasionally impressed by the vast swath of real estate on my face. I had a huge head when I was a kid, and it seems to get bigger with each passing year. Maybe it's an Irish-American thing...Alec Baldwin and Teddy Kennedy also have ginormous heads.


Ambiguous fortunes

Pay Per Post

As I mentioned in my post about The Mist below, I have signed up for Pay Per Post. I found out about this from a friend of mine on a message board, and I was initially reluctant. I've been to home parties before (for those of you who don't know: Tupperware, Princess House, PartyLite, Pampered Chef, etc., etc., etc.), and I always thought to myself "I could never have people over my house just to ask them to buy stuff."

I decided to do this after tallying up my debt level, and realizing that I need to make more money. I am working on cutting back our budget at home, but in the meantime, I'm trying to bring home as much money as I possibly can. So now I'm thinking "yeah, if I have to, I'll invite people over my house just to ask them to buy stuff."

Not that I'm asking anyone to buy stuff. Pay Per Post asks you to take "opportunities" to talk about particular subjects on your blog. Some of the sponsors are asking for a positive review; some are just trying to create buzz, so any discussion at all is sought. They do require that you disclose your association with Pay Per Post when you have a post up that was inspired by a PPP opportunity

The Mist was an easy one for me - it's a story I enjoyed and a movie I don't mind talking about. I'm interested in it.

I hope I can find more such opportunities, because I need the cash!

My promise to you, my sporadic and quiet and occasionally invisible and non-existent readers, is that I will always be honest and upfront about any Pay Per Post posts. I apologize for having what are essentially advertisements as blog content, but I hope you will understand that my financial situation requires drastic measures.

Thanks for reading.

If you are interested in Pay Per Post, here's the link: get paid to blog


First day at new church

Today was my first day singing for the Catholics. Our tenor section leader laughed when he discovered not a single man could sing the tune when we sang in unison.

I laughed when I discovered the name of the priest who performs at the Mass just before ours is named Father Ted.


The Mist

When I read the Stephen King novella "The Mist", I immediately visualized it in my mind, and thought it would be a great movie. Many, many years later, it's about to come out in the theaters.

The Mist by Stephen King

If you aren't familiar with the story, it takes place in a small town in Maine (of course). It's the day after a big storm, and a strange mist is rolling across the lake. The protagonist of the story is David Drayton, an artist, who gets trapped at the local grocery store with his five year old son.

A mix of locals and seasonal residents are trapped with him, including one Mrs. Carmody, a fanatical religious nutjob who (in the novella, anyway) seems to take great delight that the End Times Are Upon Us - she takes this disaster as evidence that God has come down to smite the wicked.

I always imagined Piper Laurie as Mrs. Carmody (probably the influence of another Stephen King movie, Carrie), but Marcia Gay Harden can definitely do that New England whackadoo type. Although this is also making me think that Kathy Bates would have been completely awesome as Mrs. Carmody.

I loved this novella, in part because I think Stephen King is at his best when he is at his briefest. I've always enjoyed his short stories more than his novels (even though I've enjoyed his novels - some of them more than others, but...). I'm sure that the movie won't be as good as the book, because it never is, and the book was exceptionally vivid in the mental picture it created - in my mind, at least.

I'm looking forward to seeing the movie - I know that filmed versions of King's stories can be fantastic (Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, Misery), but they can also be terrible (Christine, Cujo)

Also: Laughing Wild is selling out! In my quest to improve my bottom line, I've signed up for Pay Per Post. See below for opportunities to review this post and a disclosure of my association with Pay Per Post.


Last Rehearsal

Tonight was my last rehearsal for my church gig.

Rev. Right Wing has mandated that the choir directors lose the classical repertoire, set up bleachers in the front for the choir, hire a guitarist and drummer, and perform only Contemporary Christian music (aka: religious music for people who hate music) from now on.

As a response, the choir directors quit.

I'm bummed. It was a good gig. I learned so much from the choir directors, and from my fellow singers. We sang some great music - tonight's rehearsal was basically us singing choir favorites: What Sweeter Music, Biebl's Ave Maria, Greater Love Hath No Man - and had fun. We had our little inside jokes - anyone picking up old copies of my music will occasionally come across a Pi sign, or a Julie Andrews The or a Carol Burnett or a Lawrence Welk.

When I started singing there 6 years ago, I had a good ear, but poor sight reading skills. Now I'm confident at sight-reading, have an even better ear, and can tell a G# from an A.

But all is not over for me. The choir directors are going to a new church, and I'm going with them. It's going to be very different for us - the new church has a much less experienced choir, and it's a Catholic church, which will of course be familiar to me, if not welcome. So I'll still be collecting a paycheck. I'll miss what we had, though.


Light Posting Ahead

We are about 40 minutes away from National Novel Writing Month. I had spent a little time plotting out my mystery novel, but something else was calling me, so I scrapped most of what I had plotted, and now I just have a main character and I'm not sure what's going to happen next.

But most of my computer time will be taken up trying to reach 50,000 words before the end of the month, so I will likely not be posting much.

If this notice works they way it usually does, I will suddenly be inundated with writing ideas.

Happy November! Remember, my birthday is this Sunday, and I love it when people make a big deal about my birthday!


Ticket Price Gouging

I was listening to Marketplace on NPR last night, and there was a report on ticket prices for the World Series. The reporter talked to people who were lined up alongside the Green Monster at Fenway, spending the night there in the hopes of getting the limited number of same day tickets that are made available.

The prices reported for World Series tickets are obscene, ranging from $700 for one bleacher seat to $7000 for a ticket behind home plate. And these prices are down from the 2004 World Series.

The reporter also talked to some ticket agents, and the gist of their argument was: free market, baby.

But no one ever asked the question I had, which is: how do these agents get the tickets? They aren't the ones sleeping out overnight in front of the stadium. Do they clog up the phone lines when the tickets go on sale? How do they then get access to prime seats like right behind home plate? Or is it the simplest explanation, which is that they are given the rights to sell tickets that the general public does not have access to?

I can't quite imagine a scenario that doesn't leave me thinking: these guys are price gouging. Many states had implemented laws against this sort of mark-up, but it is almost never enforced, and most of the states that did so have removed that restriction all together.

I'd be curious to hear from anyone who is familiar with how ticket agents get their supply, and whether I'm making this more nefarious than it needs to be. Either way, I think it's wrong to essentially make it impossible for people of limited means to participate in something simple like going to a game.


Learn from my mistakes

Do not take one dog and two cats to the vet at the same time.

Unless your blood pressure is low and the doctor recommends more stress, in which case, knock yourself out.

New to Blogroll

Basket of Kisses, a blog about the outstanding AMC series Mad Men, started by Deborah Lipp and her sister Roberta, has been added under the "Entertain Me" section of the blogroll. There are 9 or so months until season 2, and the show has enough going on that there will probably be plenty to talk about until it's here.

ETA: Rich Sommer, who plays Harry on Mad Men (one of my favorites), also has a blog, and it's been added to the "Entertain Me" section as well. Do check out his new driver's license picture, and then scroll down to see his old driver's license picture, which is the best driver's license picture in the history of automobiles. And by best, I mean funniest.


I have a feeling this will negatively impact my productivity during NaNoWriMo

The Daily Show now has its own website featuring 8 years of videos.

Here's one of my all-time favorites:



As a lifelong Connecticut resident, I never thought I'd say this, but I'm starting to catch the Doddmania:


It's been a busy day, but I wanted take a moment and let you know that I have decided to place a "hold" on legislation in the Senate that includes amnesty for telecommunications companies that enabled the President's assault on the Constitution by providing personal information on their customers without judicial authorization.

I said that I would do everything I could to stop this bill from passing, and I have.

It's about delivering results -- and as I've said before, the FIRST thing I will do after being sworn into office is restore the Constitution.

But we shouldn't have to wait until then to prevent the further erosion of our country's most treasured document.

That's why I am stopping this bill today.

I've gotta run, but please visit my campaign website for more details.



Thanks Chris for being a leader!


Quick Note

I haven't commented much (here, anyway) about the latest in politics (sliming Graeme Frost, SCHIP veto, World War III with Iran, etc.) because I am not currently in the proper state to say anything much beyond 'HAS THE WORLD GONE COMPLETELY INSANE?!'

I am instead relying on distraction, and urge you all to help my favorite new show stay on the air: please watch Pushing Daisies! (ABC, Wednesday, 8pm) That goes double if you are a Neilsen viewer. I need whimsy to help me through these troubling times!


The weekends just fly by

Saturday - up at 8, shower, fold a load of laundry and start another, out the door at 8:30. Stop at Weight Watchers for weigh-in, then head to Petsmart to get mealworms and crickets for the class gecko, Geiko, who we are hosting this weekend. Home. Home, and then leave with my sister and mom to go pick Sio up from school. But first, we have to stop at the car rental place so I can share the driving with my sister.

Drive up to Worcester, check out her room, explore the campus with my mom who's never been there, load up the car with stuff Sio is bringing home, start home. Stop for some shopping and late lunch/early dinner. Get home and immediately feel horrifically ill. Take a nap on the couch, miss my class reunion - eh. Watch one terrible movie (My Super Ex-Girlfriend - just atrocious), then a pretty good movie (Thank You For Smoking - not much like the book, but definitely more satirical), then a movie I can't quite describe in one or two words (Borat - I had to cover my eyes for parts of the movie (naked wrestling), wonder at the fact that people who ostensibly speak in tongues live in this century and country, and kind of enjoy the sweetness of Luenelle and Borat together).

Go to bed.

Up at 8 for church gig. Shower, dress, all that jazz. Go to church, criticize the intergenerational message along with my fellow altos, sing one kind of cheesy song and one lovely Handel piece, leave before the sermon. Get home, immediately get a call from my sister, she'll be over in 5 minutes. Try to track down Sio to see if she wants to come, but cannot find her. My sister comes, we head down to New York. Stop at IKEA on the way down. Shopping with my mother is like shopping with a 5 year old, she keeps disappearing on us. Get back on the road. Make our way to Long Island, but my mom can't remember where her sister lives. Fully explore Montauk Highway between West Islip and Cogiacue (sp?). Finally get a map and figure out where my aunt lives. Visit. Stop at the pizza place so my mom can bring home a pie she likes. She buys 4 pizzas and gives one to me. We drive home.

Get home around 9:30p.m. Send the little one to bed. Have to get up early for orchestra tomorrow. And bring the gecko back, which I'm looking forward to, because it's cold in here and I don't want to turn the heat on yet, but I don't want the little lizard to freeze to death, either. I have swaddled his tank in blankets and put a space heater next to it.

Watch Pushing Daisies with Sio. Fool around on the computer. Jeebus, it's already almost 12:30. Must go to bed!


Did you hear me scream?

Johnny Depp sings
Alan Rickman as Judge Turpin
Sasha Baron Cohen as Signor Pirelli

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street trailer

I'm underwhelmed by Depp's singing in the trailer (oh, Len Cariou, you spoiled me with your crazed fury on that line), but I am keeping an open mind.

New to blogroll

Stephen Fry - make some time, read his blessay on fame, and ponder how he would shame everyone if he were ever on Celebrity Jeopardy.


Answers to Tuesday Trivia

We'll start with #11

11. Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Cyd Charisse

I was surprised no one got this one, but the correct answer is The Harvey Girls. Judy Garland is a mail order bride, but she ends up working at The Harvey restaurant with a bunch of worldly young women. Features a great classic song, "On The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe".

#6. "Friendship", "Do I Love You?", "Salome"

This one is kind of a moldy oldy, but it does offer some fun moments if you like vaudeville era jokes. These songs are from the movie Du Barry Was A Lady, in which a hat-check clerk played by Red Skelton in a nightclub wins the Irish Lottery, which wins him the hand of the nightclub singer he loves, May Daly, played by Lucille Ball, even though she's really in love with a poor but talented dancer played by Gene Kelly. I wish I could find a video of the song Salome as performed by Virgina O'Brien - she is the queen of deadpan.

3. Betty Garrett, Bob Fosse, Dick York

I'm not surprised no one guessed this one, but it makes me kind of sad because it is the delightful, if flawed, My Sister Eileen. You should definitely add this one to your Netflix queue if you are a fan of musicals - there is an absolutely brilliant dance battle between Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall that may be one of my favorite filmed dances ever. The movie also stars Janet Leigh as the sister in the title and Jack Lemmon as Betty Garrett's love interest. Definitely check this one out if you haven't seen it - Fosse choreographed at least one other number in the show, and you can see a some of his soon to be trademark style.

OOOOH! I'm so excited, the dance battle is on YouTube - see below:


Tuesday Trivia

Since Deborah at Property of a Lady isn't feeling well, and will not be putting up a Tuesday Trivia post, I thought I would put one up for those who need their Tuesday Trivia fix.

This one is all about movie musicals. I'm going to list three songs or actors, you name the musical they have in common.

1. "That's Entertainment, "By Myself", "Sweet Music"
The Band Wagon, solved by Melville

2. Donald O'Connor, Mitzi Gaynor, Marilyn Monroe
There's No Business Like Show Business, solved by Melville

3. Betty Garrett, Bob Fosse, Dick York

4. James Whitmore, Bob Fosse, Keenan Wynn
Kiss Me, Kate! solved by Deborah

5. "My Baby Just Cares For Me", "Looking At You", "Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)"
Everyone Says I Love You, solved by Melville

6. "Friendship", "Do I Love You?", "Salome"

7. Fred Astaire, Oscar Levant, Billie Burke
The Barkley's of Broadway, solved by Deborah

8. Ray Bolger, Frank Morgan, Joseph Cawthorn
The Great Ziegfeld, solved by George

9. "You, Wonderful You", "Get Happy", "Fell In Love"
Summer Stock, solved by Deborah

10. Buddy Ebsen, Eleanor Powell, James Stewart
Born to Dance, solved by George

11. Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Cyd Charisse

Place your answers in the comments!


Sometimes work is so busy

I didn't get to post anything much this week because my job was kind of insane for the past week. But I did post some videos at YouTube (of the SYTYCD show, my username on YouTube is maurinsky), got a little deeper into the book I'm reading (The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie...it's getting more interesting and funnier as it goes along), ate a buffalo burger at the Pequot museum, which I visited with my sister and niece, did some grocery shopping, planned some meals for the coming week, did a small amount of cleaning, and I will shortly be taking a dose of Nyquil to help me sleep despite my sniffling, sneezing, stuffy head and sore throat.

And here's a picture of me, just because I like it:

I like it because this picture looks like the person I see when I look in the mirror, plus it shows my nice $13 Supercuts haircut and my little crows feet, which I love because I think they make me look both kind and good humored.



Siobhan did come home yesterday, she needed 3 stitches, which isn't too bad, but she had some shallow but ugly lacerations, too, and was in a lot of pain.

The wedding was beautiful, and we had a great time at the reception - I think she felt a lot better afterwards.

Tonight, Monkey and I went to the So You Think You Can Dance tour, and we had awesome seats. We could see backstage, and when we yelled their names, the dancers smiled and waved to us. We had a blast.


Phone calls after midnight are rarely good news

I stayed up a little bit late to watch the Flight of the Conchords marathon on HBO (which I added just for the purpose of catching the marathon), and the phone rang at 1:0something.



"I'm okay, I don't want you to worry, but I'm in the hospital right now."

(there's nothing like hearing "I don't want you to worry" to really put your mind at ease)

Turns out Sio was playing football with some people from the dorm, and she fell and cut her leg badly enough that she will probably need stitches. She didn't have her insurance card with her at the hospital, so I went to get it from my purse and lost the call. She was calling from her roommates phone, and I haven't been able to get back in touch with her.

I'm supposed to be picking her up tomorrow morning for a wedding we're going to. I'm not sure if she'll be in any shape to go at this point.


Comfort Food

Last night I went grocery shopping, and since I'm a bargain shopper, I always check out the little areas where they hide the older/damaged produce, dented cans, discontinued items, and day old bread.

I scored a day old baguette for .50, so I made bread pudding last night. Bread pudding and I are old friends. I love bread, and I love pudding, so it was only natural that I would love the two of them together. And it's so easy to mix things up with bread pudding. The last time I made bread pudding I used day old danish - that was the best bread pudding ever. I've also used flavored coffee creams instead of heavy cream or half and half, which also makes for delicious bread pudding.

Last night, I made a very basic pudding. French bread, 2 tablespoons of melted butter drizzled over the bread, 4 eggs, 2 cups of half & half, 3/4 c. of sugar (1/4 of it brown, because that adds a little more richness), vanilla and cinnamon mixed together and poured over the bread. I don't like raisins when they are baked, so I exclude that common ingredient. It'd definitely a treat for cooler weather, since it bakes for 45 minutes. It's good cold, but it's divine warm.

Monkey and I had some for breakfast this morning. What a comforting way to start the day.


Writer's Block - a poem

Ideas flitter in my head
like butterflies with feathery wings,
their gossamer grace glimpsed and grasped for.
Elusive, they slip away.
Determined, I reach.

Words are my net.
The page is the frame.

Unspoken and unwritten, they enchant.
Pinned down and cruelly contained,
they are shades,
ink and paper,


A Bedtime Story

courtesy of Flight of the Conchords

Recommended Reading

Winkie by Clifford Chase

My church gig has started back up again, and I happened to get to the most miraculous part of the book when I opened it up when Rev. Right-Wing started his sermon. You couldn't tell, because it was so hot that everyone was dripping with sweat, but I was silently weeping for Winkie and his/her offspring, Baby Winkie.

After church, I read the rest of the book. I cried more than once, out of anger, out of grief, out of beauty.


Cute and not so cute animals

L-R: Not so cute, cute, not so cute

1. Our new bunny, Copper
2. same
3. a big spider, Loki's legs, my legs
4. Monkey in the garden at Higgins House at WPI
5. My nieces Lauren, Molly and Sarah, and Monkey
6. Sio in the garden at Higgings House at WPI



I wrapped up season 1 of Deadwood last night as a weeping mess on the couch. Between Doc Cochrane's angry prayer for God to take Rev. Smith, Joanie Stubbs' matter of fact declaration of incest and prostitution at the hands of her father, and Mr. Al Swearengen acting as an instrument of God and answering Doc's prayer, I could not keep the tears from flowing.


separated at birth

Thanks to Melissa (Bill's sister), I have become addicted to Flight of the Conchords. I was watching the video I posted below, and realized that Bret MacKenzie of FOTC reminded me of someone. And then I figured out who it was:



Uncanny, no?

Magical bling-bling


flotsam and jetsam

I keep starting posts that go nowhere, so I'm just going to write a few things that are probably incomplete.

1. I've been listening to NPR after work, and they've had a series about summer food. Various people have written in to talk about foods that bring back happy memories of summertime, many of them were invited to come in and record their little stories.

As I listened, I kept thinking about summertime foods from my childhood. We had a lot of cookouts, so there were lots of burgers and baked potatoes and toasted marshmellows. And I have a wonderful memory from when I was about 4 years old, and our neighbor Mrs. Bartolucci gave me a huge wedge of watermelon and told me the seeds reminded her of the freckles I had on my face.

But the food I kept coming back to hardly qualifies as a food: ice pops.

My mother is not a demonstrative woman. We've never hugged or kissed - even when I was a young child, she made it clear that she did not like to be touched. She has a hard time expressing her feelings, too - well, she's pretty good with anger, but feelings of love and affection are kept inside. So she always used food as a way to show her love.

Unfortunately, my mother is a terrible cook. She didn't bake us special cakes or teach us recipes handed down for generations - what we lacked in quality she made up for in quantity. She would pack huge lunches for me and tell me to share them with my friends. She would buy an extra loaf of crusty Italian bread from Iuliano's Bakery so we could all eat as much as we wanted.

And in the summertime, our freezer was chock full of ice pops.

She would send us out the door early in the morning, with the instruction that we were not to bother any of the neighbors until 9:00 a.m., but when it started to get hot, she would come outside with a huge handful of ice pops for all the kids in the neighborhood. She would lop the tops off of our chosen colors (ice pops are always ordered by color, not by flavor) with a knife and hand them out. There were always seconds available.

That's my summertime food memory.

2. So You Think You Can Dance

If I was voting, I'd be voting for Danny Tidwell - he's just beautiful. Although I will be fine with anyone winning - I love Sabra, Lacey has been great at almost every dance no matter the style, and Neil is a great dancer for a gymnast ; )

But I'm kind of excited, because Monkey and I got tickets to the So You Think You Can Dance tour. Pretty good seats, too!

3. Stu Bycofsky

I know everyone else has already addressed this douchebag, but if the right-wingers don't like the dissent and division in this country, they could A) avail themselves of a poll showing that the country is pretty solidly together on the subject of getting out of Iraq, so how about rallying around that?; and B) remind themselves that they are the ones who supported the scorched earth strategy, 50+1, only governing for wingers President Bush. If you want a unified country, you need competent leadership. Bycofsky is one sick bastard.

4. My kid is going to college in 3 days!

On Sunday, we're taking Sio up to Worcester and leaving her there.

We went to a WPI BBQ last night, which turned out to be great. The organizers had the students sit together at one group of tables and the parents sit togethr at another group of tables. You might think that a group of people who have a Polytechnic Institute as a common factor would be very geeky, and you would be correct. I love a geeky crowd though, and I enjoyed talking with the other parents. Although I'm going to have to practice saying "I was young when I had her" if I keep interacting with other parents! One of the dads said "and you are here for....I'm stumped, you aren't old enough to have a college age child." Well, I am, actually.

I'm vicariously excited beyond belief. I wish I was going away to college. I especially wish someone else was paying for it.


To Tie Together My Last Two Posts

In the post on Deadwood, there is a comment left by Sio (although it says maurinsky) shaming me for using bad language. That reminded me that the only time Sio has ever heard me say a swear word was when she, John and I were playing a game - I think it was Risk - and John absolutely screwed me, and I yelled "FUCK!", which was sort of a callback to my random fact about being a sore loser. I guess even though I'm much better now, I still have a little of that sore loser inside me.


Tagged by Toast

1. We have to post these rules before we give you the facts.
2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don't forget to leave them a comment telling them they're tagged and that they should read your blog.
5. 8 is a magic number. Not three.

Thems the rules - here are the random things about me:

1. I occasionally make homemade pudding, but only in the winter, because I like it hot, and my favorite part of the pudding is the skin on top.
2. Even though Loki sleeps during the day and I sleep during the night, I always stay on my side of the bed.
3. I have never eaten a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
4. I spent my 16th birthday filling out job applications.
5. I remember the first time in my life that I realized it was possible for me to be wrong. I was in second grade, and we were going over a sheet of math homework. The teacher would go around the room and everyone would have to answer a question, and if someone answered something incorrectly, she would ask the next person the question. Mrs. Johannsen got to me, I answered, and she said "that's incorrect", but before she moved on, I protested and told her that she must have the wrong answer, because I do not give wrong answers. She showed me the teacher's edition, and I still protested, but then I redid the problem and realized that I. Was. Wrong. I thought I was going to vomit.
6. As a child, I was a sore loser, and if I was playing a game and it looked like I might lose, I was not above upending the board and suggesting we should start over. If we did, I would cheat. I am still very competitive, but I am now gracious in loss.
7. I lost 60 pounds when I was pregnant with Sio, because I had hyperemesis gravidarum. I did not have this condition with Monkey, but I had so many food aversions and such a loss of appetite (without nausea or vomiting) that I only gained 1 pound when I was pregnant with her.
8. I have six nieces and 2 nephews.

Okay, now I have to tag some folks: konagod, Terra, Sio, Hazel, Leslie, Mike, Loki, Tree.


Listen up, you motherfucking limberdicked cocksuckers!

Yes, that's right, I'm watching Deadwood. We had HBO when it started airing on HBO, but for whatever reason, I never watched it. But I added it to my Netflix queue, and I watched the first two episodes.

It's fucking Shakespeare, my friends. And the acting is just incredible. Ian McShane was robbed if he didn't win any awards for his performance. Also, the show's cast includes one of my odd little crushes, John Hawkes.

There is something about that worried look, the vulnerability of his expression - I just love him.

I'm only two episodes into the series, and I'm hooked.


Some pictures from Ireland

My cousin Timmy's cottage in Ennis.

Walking my Aunt Julia's dog, Rua, towards the sea.

Just some beautiful landscapes.

I think the boys are trying to show off their biceps.

Sio having a perfectly legal beer in the pub.

This used to be the landlord's home - back before my family owned the land. Now it's a ruin with trees for a roof.

No eggs, because Sio is allergic, but some lovely Irish bangers, bacon and black pudding, and toast and tea.

Sio worked on the bog with my cousin Michael.

She turned this pile of turf - she said it was hard work.

This is the village where my Aunt Mary lives, it's called Cloondahamper. That is a fun word to say.

Beautiful, eh? I think this is in Co. Kerry

Cliffs of Moher

This is the house built by my great-great grandfather, with some more recent additions.

This is the view from the backyard of the farm.


Everyone's Home

Sio's home from Ireland, Monkey's home from camp, and my mother-in-law and her husband are on their way home to California. We managed to avoid any fighting while they were here (although they did launch into Loki about Sio's plan to move to Ireland after she graduates from college - they tried to appeal to his nationalistic pride, which is actually deceased.)

It was exhausting just being around them, I felt the need to be in bed by 10pm every day they were here. It takes a lot of energy to avoid talking about anything of consequence!

Next weekend will also not belong to me, I'll be working at a local purchasing conference. I'm kind of pissed about that, too, but it will probably be not as bad as anticipated, just like the MIL.


Just the kind of thing you want to read

On the day your child is flying into JFK.

WASHINGTON - Airport security officers around the nation have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft.

Of course, the Bush administration could just be talking this way because of Bush's approval ratings, and to distract attention from discussion of the Democratic candidates for president after the debate. But I also don't have any faith that they've made an iota of progress in diminishing al Qaeda's ability to attack us in the 6 years since 9/11. I'm going to not worry, but I'll be glad when I pick Sio up this afternoon and get her home again.


Talked to Sio

Sio called me this afternoon. She has a full-on Irish brogue now. Loki and I have agreed that we aren't going to say a single word about it. I sent Monkey a letter (still nothing back from her, the little brat) and told her not to say anything. I told my parents not to say anything.

I also told my sister-in-law not to say anything, and she is going to pass it on to my mother-in-law, who by happy (ha, ha, I'm laughing through my gritted teeth) coincidence is going to be here on the very days I took off from work so I could go to the beach and shop for college stuff.

So part of my vacation is going to be chewed up visiting with my right-wing religious fanatic mother-in-law and her even more right-wing controlling jerk of a husband. SIL and I have already agreed that we must do everything in our power to avoid getting into a car with him, because the Man. Cannot. Drive. He basically drives in two speeds: 50 mph and whiplash stop. And lord knows he would never be the passenger and let his wife drive, because men who sit in the passenger seat lose their penis - it just falls right off if you aren't behind the wheel.

And that's not even mentioning the politics. These people are firmly in Bush's base. So we all will avoid that topic, but if they start talking about how the gays are ruining America, I might have to cut a bitch.

They are coming in tomorrow evening, so we won't be seeing them tomorrow. Thursday, we'll have to visit my family to talk about Sio's visit with all our people back on the auld sod - but we'll probably see them in the evening/late afternoon. Friday will be spent with them, and I'm hoping like hell to make it to the Irish festival in the evening because I will need some alcohol to recover from spending the day with them. We have to pick Monkey up from camp (damn, that was a fast two weeks) Saturday morning, and they'll want an early evening on Saturday because they are driving to one of MILs husband's kid's houses for the remainder of their trip.

I need patience to survive this. MIL's husband has a myriad of annoying qualities that make me want to be incredibly rude to him - I have to live with snarking under my breath while he's here, so I don't start a big fight.


Is everyone still reading?

I swear, all my usual haunts are dead as a doornail.

Well, I'll talk to myself then.

The day after tomorrow (or, tomorrow by the time this is posted), Sio will be coming home from Ireland. I can't wait to see her, in no small part because I'm ready to start shopping for college stuff. I may be taking this whole going away to college thing way too vicariously, but I'm so excited for Sio! I actually couldn't wait for the shopping, so I already bought her a printer and an electric kettle - she drinks coffee, but she's primarily a tea drinker.

I've been checking her WPI mail, just to make sure no deadlines passed while she was gone, so we already know where she's going to be living - and she's not happy about it, but what can you do? I also googled her new roomates (yes, it's a triple) and they both seem interesting in a positive way.

And we still haven't gotten any mail from Monkey yet. Last year at least we got a token "send me more Mad Libs" note.


The internets are awfully quiet

Or at least my familiar internet haunts are quiet. Is everyone reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? (I picked it up at 2:30 yesterday afternoon and finished it a little after 11:00 p.m., including a time-out to prepare dinner and then another one to eat dinner - we had a pork roast marinated in jerk sauce and curried lentil salad - yum).


Life's a show, and we all play our part

I am unreasonably excited about two things in the Whedonverse right now.

1.) Tickets haven't gone on sale yet, but when they do, I'm going to the Buffy the Vampire Slayer musical (Once More, With Feeling) Sing-a-Long at the IFC Center in New York this August.

2.) James Marsters, who played Spike on Buffy and Angel, is joining the cast of Torchwood, the Doctor Who spinoff. Truly, this is a geek marriage made in heaven. My pervy little heart is hoping for some Captain Jack/Spike snogging.


I can't put a title in for some reason, but I wanted to share that today, on our way to and from the beach, we saw "Impeach Bush" signs on people's front lawns. True, it was in the least Republican state in the nation (Rhode Island), but there are signs!


Shorter Tim Noah

I'm an idiot who doesn't understand the difference between a partisan witch hunt and an actual criminal investigation. Bully for me!

It's 12:15 a.m., do you know where your pets are?

I do. Right now the big cat is sleeping on my bed, the little cat is curled up on the loveseat, and the basset hound is a flat basset in the driveway. He doesn't want to come inside. He's having some kind of teenage rebellion or early mid-life crisis or something, and he just won't listen to me today. I believe he's trying to force me to take him for a car ride, but it ain't gonna happen. Well, maybe this weekend, we can go to the dog park, but until then, he's homebound.

In a couple of minutes, I'll force the stinker to come back inside, no matter how forlorn he looks.


Day In The Life

Me first thing in the morning. Even the camera is a little bleary-eyed. Note that my bedhead looks kind of fabulous. Also: bodacious tatas.

One of my favorite places to be, although I do try to limit my driving.

Not one of my favorite places to be, but I have to lose weight before I can get my hip replaced.

Healthy breakfast of green tea.

My backyard.

I got my first ever pedicure a week or so ago.

Stinky in typical position - I call this the flat basset.

An uncharacteristic action shot of the furry beast.


Had to pick up Monkey at SIL's house, this is a notable building in my town, Cheney Hall. It used to be a kind of Lyceum for the employees of the Cheney Mills, but fell into a state of disrepair when the mills closed down. One woman single-handedly raised a million dollars to save this building, and now it's restored to full glory. It's used as a performance space and wedding reception hall now.

Going over the Connecticut River to get to my SILs house - you can kind of see Hartford. I really shouldn't take pictures while I'm driving, though.

Still motivated by my Weight Watchers meeting, I have a healthy lunch.

I met SIL at Chuck E. Cheese, where the kids were eating lunch. This is my niece Sarah.

My nephew Ryan.

My niece Molly.

Monkey at Chuck E. Cheese.

After lunch, SIL had to return something to the evil empire. Monkey was trying to look pathetic, telling me that if the owners of the store saw her looking so pathetic and sick, they would open up the claw machine and let her pick out a stuffed animal.

Monkey tried to get her cousin Lauren in on the act, but Lauren was too giggly.

I went shopping for refrigerators....

...while SIL and the kids went to see Ratatouille.

After the movie, the kids had dinner at the park, and Molly did her imitation of Macauley Culkin in Home Alone.

Yes, a healthy dinner of chicken nuggets and a root beer float. I abstained.

They played on the playground for a while.

Then we went back to SIL's house, where the kids played on what has quite literally become a jungle gym.

My SIL's cute gingerbread Victorian.

Back home, I clean up. This picture would look a lot more impressive if you had seen the before, but I do have some shame.

I settle in to watch something recorded by the Tifaux - this time, it's Kathy Griffin: My Life On the D-List. I love her.

The husband, snuggled up with his outer space blanket, made by yours truly. In a few minutes, I'll have to wake him up for work, but we'll let him sleep a little bit longer.