Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy Spew Year

Tink woke up at 5 a.m. this morning with an urgent need to hurl. I'm trying not to take it personally. Last night we had a great time at Newport on the Levee, our first proper date as an engaged couple. On the way back to Julie and Britton's, MB told me she was feeling uneasy. I tend to have that effect on women so I didn't think too much about it. I thought I had shown MB a good time, but instead of gettin' some lovin' afterward I was almost spewed upon. Don't worry, she has assured me this is not a sign of how our marriage will be.

I really think her body is saying it's finally had enough of the beating she's endured for the last four months. Teaching five college classes, welcoming a new nephew into the world, publishing a book, going to France, doing a reading in New York, and getting engaged has taken its toll. Her stomach said, "Skyline is good, but not right now!" and you can imagine the rest. She's been wiped out all day. However, she still wanted to watch the Bengals game with me, which I think is really hot. What a great girl. :-)

The plan for today was after Mass we were going to have lunch with Fletch The Extremist. For those of you who don't know, Fletch is also a Cincinnati-ite. We were looking forward to seeing him before he heads off to Dallas for his big-boy internship with "Ding! You are free to move about the country" Airlines. Congrats Fletch! However, in light of Tink's condition, I sent Fletch a text message early this morning to cancel on him. Around noon, he calls me, in a very sleepy voice, "Hey, dude, are we still gonna have lunch?"

"Didn't you get my text message?"

"No, my phone doesn't get texts."

"Call me back when you arrive in the 21st century."

Good luck anyway, Fletch. I know you've really been looking forward to this.

Many thanks to Carah the BFFE and her husband for inviting us to their New Year's Eve party. Obviously, we're not going to make it. She called a little bit ago and I gave her the sad news. We'll have to wait until the wedding to meet.

We hope y'all have a great New Year's Eve. Don't be concerned about Tink and me; we're together so we'll be fine. She says she'd rather be sick and have me taking care of her on New Year's Eve than be healthy and out partying with some random guy. Ladies and gentlemen, that is why I'm marrying this wonderful woman.

In sickness and in health at:

Friday, December 29, 2006


Today Josh The Pilot and I went cake-tasting. He was all about this part of the wedding planning, especially when he found out what a groom's cake is.

ME: Can we have a castle on the top of the wedding cake?

JOSH THE PILOT: What I want is a cake that looks like a radar screen. You can color the icing. It could be green fading into black with all these dots, or-- hey! You can get little crackers shaped like airplanes! I'll email you a jpeg you can use for a logo.


JOSH: And I want it to be a cheesecake.

raspberry filling at:

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Jim The Small Child Nephew is never scared. He is the most unscared two-year-old in the whole world. It is only the things around him that experience fear.

"Carly scared," he said, hiding his loved-to-a-nub stuffed cat behind a drape as various cousins and grandparents poured noisily into his home on Christmas Eve.

"Baby Will scared," he announced from the back seat when his mother didn't take the expected route home from Grandma's house, apparently unaware that Baby Will shows fear by laughing at Aunt Beth's glove hitting him in the face.

Last week McQueen (R) (TM) (you owe Disney 47 cents for reading that name) was scared when the doorbell rang. But Jim, no.

He was stranded on the back porch without a scapegoat the other day when the vacuum cleaner, an object about which Carly, McQueen, and Will have all expressed apprehension, roared into use. He took two steps backwards, one small hand clutching my coat. "Aunt Beth?"

The screaming, headlit monster slid near the back door. I wrapped my arms around my sister's child. Aunt Beth's coat was terrified, so I took it and Jim to the back railing to watch the barges trudge down the Ohio River.

At one point Jim's hood slid down. I set him on the concrete to fix it. "Hold you?" he said, both arms in the air. I picked him up again, and he comforted my coat by batting at the string on the neckline. "Pull!" he said happily.

It was safe for all winter garments to return inside once the noise of the vacuum growled away. "I don't know if we should indulge this phobia," my mother said as I unclamped Jim's hands from the door handle.

"Weren't Julie and I scared of the vacuum?" I said.

"Oh, never."

Later, when I repeated the story to my father, he said, "I made sure you weren't scared of the vacuum cleaner. You used to ride on it."

"Mom never told me that."

"Your mother doesn't know."

We're talking one of these 70's Explosion, carrot-puke orange specials here that weighed ninety-seven pounds and sucked up not only dirt, but the will to live of everyone within earshot. But I shudder to think of the outcome if we attempt to plop 35-pound Jim down on the head of an Oreck. Progress is not always a good thing.

It makes my coat scared.


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

His Long National Life is Over

The man who was President on the day I was born has passed on.

Gerald Ford was a Navy veteran and an exemplary ex-President. I was proud to be his constituent for five days, and hereby forgive his associations with the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Do not underestimate the power of The Rack.

Last week I wished that The Stack would disappear far, far, away, but it was certainly not my intent to create this:

On Christmas Day a tornado hit the University of Airplanes. The building you see behind that jumble of wings houses some of my classrooms. No one was hurt, which is a great blessing, but-- living crap.

This is our own fault. We got cocky. There was a great deal of nose-thumbing in the general direction of the Atlantic Ocean after such a lame hurricane season, so God was all, "Oh yeah? Here's an F-2 for you. See how you like it."

The administration sent the faculty an email assuring us that classes will begin as scheduled. (This, contrary to what students might think, made me frowny.) Otherwise, this is a Campus Safety Department dream. The property is completely closed, which means the officers, normally engaged with patrolling the campus swimming pool in little golf carts, got to set up sawhorses and parking blocks and barrels and flares and I don't know what all, and tell all sorts of onlookers to move along and that NOBODY'S ALLOWED IN HERE. They've been waiting their entire lives for this.

I am told that my office building is fine. I hope not entirely. A family of wasps has taken up residence above my window for the past two years, and it is my fondest hope that they got blown to Zimbabwe. Not likely, however; if they haven't been whisked off by now, The Rack must not have disintegrated their will to live yet. Perhaps I missed my aim.

great vendor bargaining chip at:

Monday, December 25, 2006

And May All Your Christmases

I hope you got everything you wished for this year.

I know I did.

aw at:

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve, Christmas Eve

I'm not quite sure Jim The Small Child Nephew is on board with this whole Santa Claus bit yet. We know he's not a true Small Child yet, as his mother and I hustled armfulls of packages past him the other day and he batted not an eye, except to voice his displeasure at the fact we were momentarily blocking his view of Clifford's Puppy Days. As a dedicated godmother, I've been carefully encouraging his materialism: "Ask Daddy for one in every color," I suggested when his attention was last arrested by a BMW commercial.

It's starting to work. "Presents!" he said yesterday, pointing at a small stack.

"Those aren't for you," said Julie The NephewsMama. "Santa Claus has yours, at the North Pole." This was met with a blank stare and a great deal of contemplative thumb-sucking, because I totally think he has X-ray vision and was possibly wondering why his mother was redefining "in the plastic bins normally containing the ornaments and Christmas tree parts" as "the North Pole."

This is probably the last Christmas Eve he'll get any sleep for at least five to seven years. I think some of my fondest Christmas memories, outside of running and skidding into paper in cowboy boots, are those glowing with anticipation-- curling into a small trembling blonde ball in my bed, holding whispered conferences with my sister in the bed next door: Did she hear that? What was that? Had he arrived yet?

One year we set carrots next to Santa's cookies and awoke to not only cookie crumbs, but half-gnawed veggies, one abandoned on the snowy lawn. We were transported, and hysterical: Rudolph didn't get to finish his snack! Rudolph was probably hungry! Santa was a slave driver! Somebody call the ACLU on Claus!

This was also the year, I believe, that we received little Mary Lou Retton replica uniforms and gymnastics mats, so our outrage was scrapped in favor of pretending we had any athletic skill outside of smacking each other. Man, those were the days.

If I don't get a chance to type tomorrow, a very merry Christmas and a double shot of gratefulness to all my beloved The Readers. I'll pound one for you this sacred holiday season.

round and round the Christmas tree at:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Red Pill Junkie The Reader Chooses Kindly

One of my most faithful commenters, Red Pill Junkie The Reader, has sent the groom and me an extremely generous, uber-appreciated engagement gift. Somehow videographer battles are now far easier to bear. Thanks so much, my friend.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


It's been said that you can't put a price on friendship. As a bride, you most certainly can. It is $21.95.

That is the per-head price for the reception dinner, and suddenly I'm not feeling incredibly close to a lot of people anymore. Everybody who gave birth to me is in. Those who amuse me, also. The rest of you are on the bubble. Lifelong knowledge is no exemption. The guiding issue is what have you done for me lately? Held doors? Arranged jobs? Hurled scorn upon my head?

Those who hurl scorn shall receive this suggested wedding party gift, without content added:

It's quality because it's monogrammed.

ballet slippers beneath the gown at:


A few friends have sent me "Congratulations on Being Engaged ELOOOOOOOOOOOPE" cards, which are lovely and much appreciated and accidentally hilarious. "Cherish this special, romantic time," one says. Last week I threw my special, romantic sneaker at the special, romantic wall.

This was precipitated by the groom having the audacity to tell me to stop work on the invitations, because he had perceived that I was becoming overwhelmed.

Thus began a torrent of bridal screeching, a diatribe entitled "I Am Working So Hard On This Wedding And YOU DON'T EVEN CARE." It covered an impressive rage of wedding-related topics, including, but not limited to:

-Ageism in Western culture
-The lamentable condition of my windshield wipers
-Something called "halogen fluid"
-Grade inflation at the university level
-My raging self-hatred
-Windows XP

The closing line consisted of "...and I have PMS!"

The groom then spoke for the first time in twenty minutes. "But you're dealing with it very well."

I am much better today. I merely hurled pillows into the couch during the fight over the videographer.

advil at:

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Night Train

Courtesy of The Stack, I was unable to see Discovery's launch from the Space Coast, so I made do at the University of Airplanes. Here it is as seen from Digi the BlurCam:

Liftoff was like a Daytona Beach sunrise, the glow warming the unmufflered choppers and airbrushed IT'S NOT A BALD SPOT, IT'S A SOLAR PANEL FOR A SEX MACHINE tshirts.

This is just after solid rocket booster separation. I'll use pure NASAese to explain what's going on here: The fat orange blur is the spaceship that carries the astronauts, and the two smaller blurs are the white pencilly things that make it go up in the sky. Now you know.

I've seen one other night launch, at Cocoa Beach, and this was a completely different. For instance, for this one I had my hair in a ponytail instead of straight down. It completely changed the entire experience.

fast FAST comet at:


How are your holidays going? My godchild ejected me from his house.

This evening, Jim The Small Child Nephew and I played Up (Aunt Beth carries Jim around the room on her back while he shrieks and kicks her in the kidney) and Aunt Beth Falls Down (Jim hurls himself at Aunt Beth as she collapses on the carpet, and then he shrieks and kicks her in the kidney). Aunt Beth is good for kidney-kicking, apparently, but not general company, as when I attempted to escort him to bed, there was a great deal of furor and shoving at the general direction of my knee.

"Do you want me to go away?" I said, completely just throwing it out there. You have to do this with two-year-olds at times, I have found, eliminating brewing tantrums by knocking out each potential, completely random want or need that two-year-olds tend to develop: "Do you want some maize for snack?" "Do you want an abassatorial appointment to Paraguay?" "Do you want a new career for Scott Baio?" "Oh, you want me to make Sesame Street magically appear on the air now, at nine o' clock at night? Well, that's easy!"

But no. Tonight, Aunt Beth was to go away. "Bye-bye," he said the instant I suggested it. The Paraguay thing would have honestly surprised me less, and caused far less umbrage.

This was honestly the best thing Country The Brother In Law had seen in his entire life. "You just got bounced by a two-year-old," he pointed out. Last time I saw the bouncer, I brought him french fries. Next time? Geese.

I think Jim was mad at me because earlier in the evening I had been a terribly mean aunt, denying him the bottle of children's Tylenol perched on the kitchen windowsill. I cannot imagine what I was thinking, preventing him from accidentally poisoning himself like that.

"I'll remember this," I said darkly, "in sixteen years when you're looking for college money."


"Yeah, bye-bye."

well I never at:

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Stack has been defeated!

I just got off the phone with Tink. She has conquered The Stack!! I am very proud of her for successfully making it through the insane class load my alma mater threw at her this semester. She is now facing an onslaught of whiny student emails very similar to what Owen The Reader discussed in his comment on yesterday's post. I have advised her to ignore them and instead of thinking about all the negative ratings she might get on, she should remember the student who failed this semester but likes her enough he wants to retake MB's class next semester. I don't know of a bigger sign of a professor's popularity among students. :)

Mary Beth is celebrating her accomplishment by watching a RiffTrax while she packs her bags. Tomorrow she heads to Ohio for some quality time with Jim The Small Child Nephew and Will The Baby Nephew.

For those of you wondering about my status here in The Nation's Capital, I am happy to report that things couldn't be better. I tell MB all the time that the only piece of the puzzle missing right now in my life is her, and that will be solved in exactly seven months. I have three awesome roommates (pic below). They love to grill out and they share their steaks! We live in a nice townhouse only three miles from my ATC facility. It's a wonderful change from the 30-45 minute commutes I experienced in The Swamp.

Only two more weeks until I see my bride-to-be at:

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


This is The Stack typing. Mary Beth will not be appearing this evening, because I have crushed her beneath my wheels of comma splices and endlessness.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Stack

Here is why we don't have a longer post today.

Meet, ladies and gentlemen, The Stack. I have 48 hours to make The Stack go away. The Stack comes to my apartment at the end of each semester, and tomorrow I add another two or three inches to it. It has been building in my office throughout the day, and it at last topped the box (yes box) of candy on my desk. When the work outstrips the sugar supply, it's time to curl into a very small ball.

red pen at:

Monday, December 11, 2006


This week marked the first time I sent digital pictures out for printing. I just picked them up. It went even better than I hoped!

Okay, not that I'm the High Princess of Photography, but I'm pretty sure that when I uploaded this picture to the order, I had eyes and a forehead. I'm not a tremendous fan of my looks, but... it... really wasn't my intention to gently place in my scrapbook a deptiction of Will and Beth the Horribly Disfigured Aunt.

What happened here? I'm not going to name the drugstore where I sent the prints, so let us refer to it as RoofRed's. RoofRed's charges nineteen cents a print. I would like to know what kind of person, there at the RoofRed's, would pull this from the online ordering system all, "What a charming picture of an aunt and her nephew! I love the way the top of her head isn't there! It just makes the entire shot."

next time I'm going to RoofStore at:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Official Weekend of Becky The Reader

A very humble thanks to Becky The Reader, who bestowed a shockingly generous, deeply appreciated engagement gift via the handy Amazon banner.

Becky, enjoy an entire weekend atop the BlondeChampagne world. Don't look down. You'll only see the inflatable arch, not to mention straight into this.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Things No One Else Thinks Are Awesome But Me

-Gasoline smell
-Cement-mixing vanilla ice cream and sugar crystals in the bowl before consumption
-Kate Capshaw's tour de force performance in Space Camp
-When Burl Ives says, "Well, they were all very sad at the loss of their friend, but they realized that the best thing they could do was get the women back to Christmastown."
-Close second: "No! This is man's work!"
-Candy consisting of nothing but caramel and dark chocolate
-AM crackle
-The lesser-known George Strait classic "Momma Was a Dodge City Dance Hall Girl, and My Daddy Was a Riverboat Gambler"

anything else at:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Not on the Registry

I'm a wine snob, which means... not so much to the following:

It looks like a Barbie and Ken wedding gone horribly, horribly wrong.

We are currently pondering groomsmen gifts, which had to be explained to the groom.

"We have to get them a present?"


"But... they're guys."

"I certainly hope so."

I don't know what we'll wind up with, but I can confidently X out the following:

-Car air freshener shaped like a foot
-Stripper gift certificate
-Live wombat
-Autographed picture of Mario Lopez
-Paternity test
-Bride and groom wine bottle covers



Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I'm going to be flying a lot in the New Year (yay!) with people other than me (boo.) In this I lament not only such delightful fellow passengers as Freaky the Aisle Partner; I mean the dedicated professionals bent on sending me through international terminals in my socks.

When I returned from France to The Swamp, my connection out of Atlanta allowed me grand total of four minutes to clear customs. This did not, for some reason, pan out. I had to go through security twice, declare the single, highly dangerous bottle of Champagne I was carrying in quadruplicate, and shoot off for my connecting flight in my socks. Shoes are for people with competent travel agents.

I missed the Swamp connection, which landed me on standby. Flying standby was like the NFL draft, or election night; the wretched and the stranded watched our names edge upward on a flat screen anchored on the ceiling, and when we reached the top of the list, we were permitted to board. "I WIN!!" I thundered when Ellis, M. staggered across Cana. The gate attendant was not amused. She did not win; she had to stay in Atlanta, in the airport, all day.

"Anyone not going to Florida, you are now. The door is closed," the flight attendant said as the plane began to roll. I rolled too, into the fetal position.

on the aisle at:

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Now that I know I'm going to leave The Swamp, there is the issue of The Stain.

It appeared near my door on the day I moved in, pretty much immediately after I turned in my lease with all its "The Southern Comfort Splotches Were on the Ceiling When I Got Here" checklists. The Stain appears to be grease. I hope it is. I really, really hope it is.

I think the movers left it when they dragged a dolly across the floor. Perhaps, however, it's sin. I can't get it off the carpet. Every over-the-counter remedy has been applied; The Stain fades momentarily, and then returns, snickering. I am considering an exorcist.


and yes, I tried BAM! at:

Monday, December 04, 2006


When I write a book about this wedding, it's going to be called Is the Groom Averse to Wearing Tights? because seriously, that's what the seamstress said when I showed her the picture of the type of dress I wanted.

She said this with a very, very straight face, which I utterly failed to return as I gently pushed away the pictures she presented of entire bridal parties arrayed in velvet and codpieces. Yes, the groom is averse to wearing tights. The groom would no longer be the groom if I asked him to show up wearing tights.

We are also enjoying the prospect of trotting Jim The Small Child Nephew down the aisle in one of these.

This is when I lay on the floor and ask myself why I took a second semester of Arthurian literature instead of something useful, like water aerobics. The joys of planning a Ren wedding are manyfold. Other women surround themselves with small circles of tulle and ponder the business cards of DJ's; last week, I actually used the word "mead" in a sentence. But as Josh The Pilot says, "We're a unique couple; why shouldn't we have a unique wedding?"

Then again, there's a limit.

ye olde... whatever at:

Friday, December 01, 2006

Where Macrame Went

I'm having a summer wedding solely as an excuse to wear one of these. It will be so very grand as I stand beneath my light-up inflatable arch.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


O so many thanks to Toni The Reader for designing our "save the date" cards, which are beautiful, but which came in an attachment romantically titled: "MB-STD."

Clearly, not what I expected-- but then again, little is regarding this wedding... including the groom. Little girls who grow up in the white Catholic ghetto of Cincinnati's West Side marry other West Siders. So let it be written. So let it be done. I have always envisioned a full-Mass marriage with several dress-fitting sessions in a local bridal salon as my sister and mother clasped their hands at the sight of the baby in bridal white. Instead, last week I found myself wearing the ring of a Lutheran, stomping past palm trees on my way into a fabric shop to return fourteen yards of the wrong shade of chiffon.

"My wedding," Carah The BFFE said to me in exhaustion about a year ago, "is nothing like I thought it would be." And I made sympathetic bridesmaid noises, which was my primary job at that point, and thought, "Well, how could that be? It's her wedding." But now the bridal slipper is upon my foot, and I see, I see: One minute you're at some distant cousin's reception, jumping up and down to Kool and the Gang on a fake wooden dance floor in Mary Janes, and the next you're staring down at a caterer's catalogue featuring a stack of artfully arranged Moon Pies because the glitter icing is backordered and outside the budgetary realm anyway.

Our ideas cling even as the life that spun them changes. Mentally I have officially asked Julie The NephewsMama to be my matron of honor in a crying conversation in which we apologized for torn stuffed animals past and pledged our sisterly devotion 4Evah, but the actual conversation went as follows at our extended family's Thanksgiving dinner table:

ME: Oh, I--

JULIE: Hmmmmm?

JIM THE SMALL CHILD NEPHEW: Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?

ME: I wanted to--

JIM: Mommy--

JULIE: Just a minute, please. I'm talking to Aunt Beth.

ME: I meant--

JULIE: James, do not eat the centerpiece.

ME: --ask you earlier, but it--


JULIE: Oh, okay.

ME:... matron of honor?

JULIE: I'm sorry, what?

JIM: No!

ME: The--

JULIE: Sure.

But you know what else Carah told me during that conversation? She said, "When I started down the aisle and saw Matt at the other end of it, I knew he was the one, and everything was okay." Okay. It's a Lutheran's ring, but he's the right Lutheran, who is fine with marrying a West Side Catholic who twirls her hair, and the unidentified children can cry all they want. They might not have been in the original plan, but imagine how empty those pews would be without them. And then the right chiffon doesn't make one bit of difference.

so hard to let go of the garter toss at:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Many thanks to the lovely 'n' thoughtful Anne The Reader, who so kindly tapped the Amazon Honor System banner for a much-appreciated engagement gift. These FAQs are for you, Anne! It's the Anne The Reader Memorial Wedding FAQ, everybody!

Q. Where are you registered?

A. With Halliburton. There, or Target.

We have forks. What we need is cash. Small bills, please. Unmarked. P.S. This has nothing to do with Halliburton.

Q. Where's the honeymoon?

A. We had our hearts set on Australia, and then we started looking at plane tickets, and the plane tickets alone equal our combined incomes over the next fifteen billion years. So we're working on a few days Colorado.

If you happen to be connected with Colorado, and have the ability to move it over to our side of the country so as to save on airfare, please let us know.

Q. What will the decorations be like?

A. It's difficult to top the quiet elegance of my bridesmaids' shoes, but I think eight or ten of these, tastefully arrayed, just might graze that impossibly high bar:

Then, of course, there's this:

The truly awesome thing about this is, although it doesn't have the classy lights like the arch does, the A/C plug and inflate fan are included. Rock! It's what every bride dreams of: "Everybody get next to the inflatable arch for the pictures while I plug in the cake."

in search of an inflatable crucifix for the altar at:

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Further FAQs

Q. What is your married name going to be?

A. Mary Beth Tricia Ellis The Pilot Sheniqua Sits Pale Tha First

Q. Where is the wedding?

A. As a marine green turtle returns to its place of birth to mate, so too do I migrate from my feeding ground to my homeland. Cincinnati wedding. Skyline and guilt for everybody!

Q. Are you going to be one of those insufferable women who is under the impression that there is nothing more fascinating or important than her wedding plans?

A. Let me tell you about my place card holders!

Q. Should we go to the mall?

A. Today.

any further questions at:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Proposal FAQ

Q. Are you really engaged?

A. I have a ring and a large amount of tulle in my living room and a recent fight with my mother. I appear to be engaged.

Q. Can I come to the wedding?

A. Invitations are available in exchange for large cash donations to the MB and JTP Attempt to Plan a Wedding On the Combined Budget of a Freelance Writer and a Very, Very Newborn Air Traffic Controller Whose Student Loan Debt Makes the Baby Jesus Cry Fund.

Q. Is that a sapphire?

A. It is indeed.

Q. Why a sapphire?

A. See above. Also, sapphires are the color of Mountain Blast Powerade, so you know they have to be quality. Diamonds are only the color of Crystal Lite Lemonade, which is far less awesome.

Q. When's the wedding?

A. July 14, 2007.

Q. July 14? Isn't that--

A. YES. Okay? I'm getting married on Bastille Day. I'm a great big Frenchy-French lover and we're all going to sit around and get married and eat crepes and hate America.

Q. I'm so surprised! This is such a surprise! Weren't you surprised?

A. I hereby direct you to the last comment of this post, in which the sharp-eyed, picture-expanding, slightly creepy Anonymous caught sight of my birthday present, which was a This Space Reserved For an Engagement Ring ring. I was hoping to slip this past everyone, assuming that the sight of the horrid Hair of the 80's would either distract you or kill you.

As with everything else, including parallel parking, I have gone about my own wedding completely bass-ackwards. Because I am a romantic, Josh was under very strict orders to not come at me with an engagement ring unless there was a health insurance policy behind it. We didn't know if this was a fer-sure thing until he passed his initial training courses in Oklahoma City.

But for us to marry this summer, we had to secure the date early on. So I've known for three months I was going to get married, and I had to shove the mules overboard to pay for wedding stuff, and I couldn't tell anybody until it was official. I couldn't write about it. I couldn't talk about it. I couldn't b*&^%$ about it. I have gone through all the preliminary planning without the ability to type one word about how weird and exciting and upsetting and amazing it is.

For example, while securing the bridesmaids shoes, I found these

and couldn't tell you about how I got a great bulk price in all the sizes I needed! Don't worry; they don't light up all the time-- that would be tacky. They only flash when heel-to-floor contact is made.

I'm so glad you know now.

Q. How did Josh propose?

A. Perfectly.

Q. But details make us happy!

A. Josh told me the day before Thanksgiving that he wanted a picture of me against the Cincinnati skyline, and it had to be taken THAT DAY, RIGHT NOW, BEFORE DINNER, and NO we couldn't ask Julie and Britton and the boys to come with us. So we drove off on this perfectly normal everyday mission during which I did totally not suspect a thing to Eden Park, where I totally did not suspect a thing further as he left the camera in the car.

Q. Did he get down on one knee?

A. After I reminded him.

Q. Do you have a dress?

A. It will go a little something like this. I'm having a discontinued, hem-dusty, 90% off blue and silver strapless dress modified by a seamstress to look like the flowing Tolkien drunken haze you see here.

Q. Who is the wedding party?

A. Julie The NephewsMama, starring as matron of honor. Carah The BFFE, flying in from Scotland. Esther The Pending Sister-In-Law, flying in from Africa. Most. Intercontinental. Wedding. Ever.

Josh has asked his twin, Jeremiah, and his younger brother, Daniel, to be groomsmen. There is also a rumored best man, "Jason," but I have never met him or talked to him or seen pictures of him. Clearly he doesn't exist. I suspect Josh is making him up so he has someone to blame potential wedding lateness upon.

His Majesty Jim The Small Child Nephew will attend as ring bearer. It will be the first wedding ever in which the party consists of the bride, the groom, their parents, six attendants, a ring bearer, and a stuffed kitty.

Q. Does this mean Josh has secured the approval of The King?

A. They brokered a preliminary agreement in an official summit over smiley face potato wedges, in which Josh obtained Jim's aunt for five goats, eight ounces of Hi-C, and a cookie to be named later.

thank you all so very much for the good wishes, which will be printed out for the engagement journal (of course there is an engagement journal):

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I've Got Plenty to be Thankful For

guess what at:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Further Background

We now continue our discussion of people and their suckage.

Even the most solemn of circumstances can be made idiotic by The Background People. Here we have a hallway in the Orbiter Processing Facility at the Kennedy Space Center. The walls are painted with the mission patches for Apollo 1, Challenger 51-L, and Columbia 107; a fitting, melancholy reminder.

Until, of course, you teleport in Ron Howard, The Middle School Years:

For some reason, this picture makes me no more inclined to have children.

Now, here in Florida, the days are long, the nights are muggy, and the bugs and toll roads are thick. But it's truly not so bad as this:

Come, come, Furiously Frowning Glasses Around the Neck Woman! Be not ye so rabid. Then again, if I I were ever presented with proof that I could make my face do that, even unwittingly, I suppose I would just capitulate to glasses on a chain as well.

less windy inside at:

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Sorry I wasn't able to post the past few days; Friday I had to meet with my pimp and my parole officer, and then on Monday night Blogger was all cloggy just as I attempted to access the system. So you see, as always, The Man is attempting to keep me down.

What I wanted to post about was this:

People, and how they always be getting up in my pictures.

Here, we see EPCOT Guy. EPCOT Guy got between my camera and the great ball of EPCOT, and the great ball of EPCOT pays the price. I'm quite sure EPCOT Guy is an otherwise fine citizen, who pays his taxes and returns shopping carts and doesn't put large plastic snowglobes featuring the Christ Child on his lawn, but here? EPCOT Guy sucks.

Apparently it's a panhemispheric issue.

I don't take issue so much with this lady being in my picture as much as I do with my concern over the fact that George Michael just called from 1985, and he wants his jean vest back.

Then we have the Invasion of the Tourist Starers:

This, granted, is the reaction of most people when otherwise coming upon otherwise intelligent and educated people wearing a fez, as we see G-Force modeling here. And yet-- my good woman, kindly return yourself to the Sunglasses Hut. These aren't the droids you're looking for.

But ultimately, When Pictures Go Wrong, we have only ourselves to blame.

windy at:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Nerd Test

I find this highly unsettling:

This is frankly the first time in my life that any entity, when presented with the opportunity, chose to not call me a nerd. I don't quite know what to do here. I know about four people, and two of them are directly responsible for my birth! I worked for NASA! I own action figures! I took an Internet test about being a nerd, and then I posted on my blog about it!

Then there's this news, which is further confirmation of said nerd-dom, as well as confirming my grand life design of whining at every turn.

Wait-- maybe I need to take the Loser Test...

by the way, you're reading a blog post about a person you don't know who took an Internet test about being a nerd, and then posted on her blog about it, assuming she is indeed a she at:

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


Hey, kids, do you like the DVD commentaries?

This is what makes me buy copies of movies I have already previously owned in at least nine different forms. There will be no resting until I've watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade against the backdrop of commentary from Spielberg's beard-groomer.

Sometimes you learn things. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes the commentary track make you hate, brutally hate, a movie once enjoyed (looking very hard at you, Kevin Smith, and the track you did for the tenth anniversary of Clerks, in which I was treated to thirty minutes of the sweet, sweet sounds of you and Jason Mewes consuming the box lunches delivered to you on-mike.)

Surprisingly excruciating was the commentary for the restored version of My Fair Lady, which focused sharply what every musical fan aches for more of: Extended discussions of negative cutting and print sizes. The first words of the track are a seventeen-minute monologue entitled "This, of Course, Is a Fastax to C-Mount Adapter, But Obviously the Wollensak Raptar Telephoto Is Optimal."

Possibly the commentators got all techno because when they attempted anything else, it came out like this:

"The actor who played Freddy just had his fifty-seventh wedding anniversary."





"He must be really old."

(I otherwise recommend the My Fair Lady DVD, however, because the print restoration now allows us to fully appreciate the pulsating wallpaper in Henry Higgins' townhouse. It is truly amazing wallpaper. It takes over the entire movie. Prints and stripes and swirls... it needs to have its own stream in the credits, or, at minimum, a duet with Pickering)

This was only slightly better than the pain inflicted upon me by the director's commentary on Wayne's World, which largely consisted of the following: "Uh-oh! Garth just fell off his chair! Haha! Well, let's see what happens next."

I cannot abide the tracks in which the commentators narrate the action unfolding in front of you ("Okay, now he's running away from the building, and now he's... yeah, that's the part with the lemur that hails a cab.") Give me a microphone and a handful of Fritos and a hundred thousand dollars. I'll do it.

watch, watch right here, this is the precise moment in which Lucas destroys the franchise at:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Competent Official College Professor UPDATES

1) Yesterday I ducked into the lav to take care of Lady Business, and as I was washing my hands, I had the following thought: "Well, that's odd. Why would they put a urinal in the womens' bathroom?"




2) Today I ducked into Staples to buy a package of address labels and take care of Professor Business, and found that the printing quote for the Professor Business was way, way lower than I initially thought it would be. So I clutched my address labels and jumped up and down and walked across the parking lot.

Hey-- aren't these supposed to be in a bag?




FONT NOTE: I'm sorry about yesterday's font. I'm so, so, sorry. I hope you can learn to live and love again.

tomorrow, Comic Sans at:

Monday, November 13, 2006

Does This Font Make Me Look Fat?

I haven't been to Pilates class lately, because Pilates demands discipline and time and energy and the ability to care. I had a lovely nap this afternoon, however.

Perhaps I need Dale. Dale taught the kickboxing class that Julie the NephewsMama and I attended when I lived in Cincinnati, and it bonded us immensely, as sisters, because when Dale enters the picture, you only have each other for safety and comfort.

Dale would simply materialize in the gym; no one ever saw him outside of the context of the aerobics floor, he just sort of appeared, or beamed in from Planet Kickboxing Instructor, or whatever, with his clip-on microphone and his tapes of world-ending music and his shorn legs and arms.

“Oh,” my sister would say as he pulled off his sweatpants, “not the lime green shorts.”

“It is,” I said. “It is indeed Lime Green Shorts Day.”

“HOW ARE YOU FEELING!” Dale would say into his microphone. He did so love his microphone.

“Mmmffpt” class tended to respond, following him into a series of warm-up kicks and light punches.

Dale would then take two steps off of his instructor’s platform. “I SAID, HOW ARE YOU FEELING!”

Julie often chose to applaud rather than disgrace herself further by yelling louder. “YAAAAY!”

He retreated. “Don’t make me come out there!”

My sister and I adjusted our territory on the aerobics floor so that we had enough room to move, but not so much that Dale could accost us should he choose to Come Out There, a horrific experience consisting of Dale, who, when dissatisfied with the quality of excitement issuing from the floor, charged into the class and corraled students at random to throw punches into his outstretched hand. This was accompanied by a stream of shrieked encouragement: “PUNCH! PUNCH! PUNCH! ARGH! ARGH! PUNCH! PUNCH! COME ON! WHOOOOOOOO!” All eyes were cast pityingly upon you, and sweaty glistening Dale was, like, right there, and you had to touch him, and I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

We normally withstood two Coming Out Theres per night without personally experiencing Wrath of Dale, but we always moved again during the cool-down exercises, though, to the back of the room, because Dale likes overmuch to splay on the leg stretches, especially when it was Lime Green Shorts Day.

whooooooooo at:

Friday, November 10, 2006


"Did you know Erma Bombeck died?"

Carah the BFFE
asked this of me as we rollerbladed down Saint Mary's Avenue one spring night. I skidded off to the side of the road and was still for a moment; Erma Bombeck is one of those people you simply don't associate with the word "died." She was life, aliveness amongst the dustballs.

I knew Erma before I knew Tom Wolfe or Dave Barry, and as I grew I figured that, as Ohioans and Catholics and lady-writers, I ought to stick with her. Although at seven years old I had never experienced, as she had, the concept that "housework is a treadmill from futility to oblivion with stop offs at tedium and counter-productivity," I knew this was funny, and I knew this was right.

You will understand why I am sitting here in quiet awe, then, when word came today that I am the University of Dayton's Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop Writer of the Month. You know this is an important award, because there are many W's in the title, and at least two apostrophes.

I think my mother is more excited about this than my actual book. She had every one of Erma's, and when one day I brought home a history assignment on which the teacher had written, "If you don't become the next Erma Bombeck, I don't know who will," we gazed in wonderment over that far more than the passing grade penciled next to it.

Happy birthday to the Marine Corps! Oorah and thank you. You swim in mud so I don't have to. I'd invite you to make a wish, but you folks tend to make happen whatever you want to make happen anyway, so I'll forego that, fo'shizzle.

thanks Tim at:

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Josh The Pilot is now in the home of Julie The NephewsMama and Country The Brother-In-Law. His initial contact with Jim The Small Child Nephew was a vast improvement over the first time they met, possibly because my sister warned him of Josh's pending arrival. So when he showed up, Jim kept his distance but freaked not: "Is this the Josh whose coming was foretold to me betwixt Clifford's Puppy Days and Sesame Street?"

It was indeed the Josh of prophesy, and they rolled a dump truck back and forth to each other in the sight of the Lord. Next: Co-sponsoring a Senate omnibus bill.

whew at:

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Look, Ma, No Airplanes Welded Together

Let us all issue joyful finger-guns in the air and make a bunch of firing noises on behalf of Josh The Pilot, who today becomes a man. An air traffic controlling man, with all the rights and privilges and expectations and John Cusackisms indicated therein. Jim The Small Child Nephew celebrated with a tantrum.

He passed his Big Controller Test today, which has some sort of special initial-intensive name, which makes it important. As I type he is on his way to his assigned post in Virginia. This has been six years in the making, which is five years less than my book, but his career stands to spawn far less horror and death than Drink to the Lasses ever will, so... way to go, Josh!

welcome to his sky at:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006



With 0% of all precincts reported in, I completely and utterly don't care about this election.

I haven't followed it at all. I have a me-intensive book to sell, and I remain burned out from '04. My former polisci classmates are emailing me like, "Webb is down 17,000 early on, trending red!" and I'm all, "Wait. Webb is the... guy with... the... election? Thing?" You look back at my posts two years ago, how I wrote on every pieceofcrap political upheaval to rear its insignificant head. And now, MB 2006: Look! It's a two-year-old lying on the floor!

Let us have a moment, however, for an enormous amount of applause for Cincinnati congressman Steve Chabot (R-Combover), the man I helped to elect thirteen years ago, for awesomely attempting to vote without proper ID. Steve! I'm so very glad I plummeted hours and hours and hours of my high school life into stuffing self-stick envelopes for you. It's paying off huge dividends.

I don't know what the big issue is where you live, but here in The Swamp, Northeastern Sector, we are hotly contesting the question of if the Volusia County Home Rule Charter should be amended so that, and I quote, "the at-large council member shall serve as the vice chair of the county council instead of council election of a vice chair." I don't think I have to tell you how flamingly important this is to the future of our nation. If we have another Civil War, it will not be over abortion or pop vs. soda, but... whether or not the at-large council member shall serve as the vice chair of the county council instead of council election of a vice chair. Next election cycle: Taco salad vs. grilled cheese on Fridays at Port Orange Middle School.

This was one of the easier-to-understand amendments. I have a four year degree in political science, okay, and I had to stand there and read some of these issue proposals about 90 times before I sorted out what, exactly, I was voting on: "Okay, so if I vote... yes, that means that the amendment doesn't not pass, and all the manatees die, and if its... no, the financial bond is optioned to a referendum in the state Senate, which leaves the Trade Federation still in control of Naboo's shipping routes."

Oh, and I need to report an incident of voter intimidation and vote-fixing. This is the first election that has taken place since I moved, so I had a new polling place and voter card and chads to not understand and everything. And I rolled up on the precinct, and walked in the door, and the poll workers, who came with Florida when it was originally incorporated into the nation, could not find me in the ledger.

I was made to sit in a folding chair while all the voters around me busted about with their ballots in their Official Election Cardboard Folders, Sponsored by OfficeMax. My driver's license was taken; I was read my former address in Orlando and asked if I still lived there. Yep! Just driving down the beach an hour away from my residence in office clothes at seven in the morning, and thought I'd stop in and vote.

I had the first four numbers of the Voter Fraud hotline dialed when I was summoned forth. "Young woman?"


"You came in the wrong door. Your precinct is voting across the hall."

Quote of the night, courtesy of Glenn Beck: "Ohio is becoming France."

My people! Alert the geese!

continuing to pet my "I Voted" sticker at:

Shut Up, Faith Hill UPDATE


I know, Faith. I know. I was shocked, too, that you were unable to win with your most recent musical masterpiece, with lyrics the likes of "Hey everybody can't you feel the rhythm now/Hey everybody don't you want to party."

I voted at:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Free samples!

There is now an "Excerpts" page at That's right! I've got my apron on, I'm standing at the end of the cheese aisle, and I'm handing out free samples!

Also, I'm sure you've been unable to function all day, wondering about my reaction to this morning's "Doogie Howser: Gay!" announcement. That reaction, my friends, is: "Really?" I have terrible, terrible gaydar. The first time I saw Elton John, I was like, "Why does his wife let him leave the house dressed like that?"

I hope Vinnie is okay with all this at:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

After Omaha

After Omaha, we stopped at the American cemetery in Normandy. The French have ceded this land to the United States, and so, half a planet away from where I was born, I stood on American soil.

The plots are on a hill near the sea where the landings took place.

It's very quiet.We didn't have time to examine each grave, although each grave deserved it. Here are a few.

There are over nine thousand just like them.

I passed one of a private from Ohio. A bird had left its mark; I pulled tissue from my pocket and wiped it clean. The sleeve of my jacket was good enough for my own needs.

This is the ceiling of the cemetery chapel. A mosaic shows America blessing her young men, sending them off to war

...and France placing a laurel wreath on the brow of her gift.

We passed several school groups, and a few veterans-- fewer each year. Here is a gift from some who left just before we reached the Memorial. The card reads: "This wreath is placed in recognition of your bravery in the Normandy campaign. From the English veterans of the Sword Beach."It was laid at the foot of this statue, called "The Spirit of American Youth Rising From the Waves."Every hour, a bell tolls "Faith of Our Fathers".

And it's still quiet.

These are the gates to the Garden of The Missing, which is ringed with walls bearing the names of soldiers whose remains were never recovered.

Here is how closely the names are spaced.

And here is how much wall there is side of it.

No one is ever the quite the same, after Omaha.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Big Picture Roundup

I have an important update on yesterday's breaking news that Jim The Small Child Nephew was a leopard for Halloween. Apparently, later in the evening, he decided to alter the costume to "Leopard Roadkill".

Also, my boyfriend loves me:

Now we all know why air traffic controllers are such famous players. I think the only thing more awesome than this would be dating a scoreboard operator.

fever of one degree at:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Prince Is a Pea

...and the King is a leopard. Roar. Also, (insert whatever sound peas make here).

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


Today's Person Who Rocks is whoever invented self-adhesive postage.

I sent out the birth announcements for Drink To The Lasses to family members, older friends who fear the computer (not that I blame them, sometimes), former teachers who thought I went blessedly away, and a general mish-mash of people to whom I wanted to be all, "Yeah, I wrote a book."

They are postcards. The front is the book cover, and here is the back:

My postcard is awesome. Far from awesome, however, is the phsyical act of spreading the awesome.

I put a bunch in the mailboxes of some of my co-workers, and I only counted three in the trash can next to the mailboxes the next day, which means the cleaning crew probably spared me the sight of all of the annoucements in there by removing the bulk of them the previous night. Sweet. Gettin' the word out. I am a marketing juggernaut.

The rest, though, I had to mail. With postage. From the post office. I got a sheet of sticky stamps, then proceeded to stand in high heels for the bulk of my lunch break peeling and sticking and in general arming myself with the ability to commit major crimes because I now no longer have fingerprints.

Far better, however, than the alternative: I remember sitting with my mother and aunts to send out the invitations for my grandparents' golden wedding anniversary, and this was in 1988, when pterodactyls filled the sky and you had to lick your stamps if you wanted anything to go anywhere. So we stamped and sealed all these invites, with the reply cards tucked snugly inside, and were sitting around congratulating ourselves on a mailing well done when somebody suddenly wondered why we had all these extra stamps lying around.

I have not been able to look at the postage aisle of Staples quite the same way since.

So I was going peel-stick, peel-stick, peel-stick, muttering, "I bet they don't make Stephen King peel-stick" when suddenly one of my beloved birth announcements bit me in the hand. Paper cut, author down. No triage available.

But I had to get to class, so onward I peel-stuck. So for some of you who will be recieving these postcards... the... red smears near the stamp area is a... printing error.

peel-stick at:

Monday, October 30, 2006

The Mules

Turning thirty was supposed to be about the mules.

You are all familiar with my birthday karma; imagine what the karma might wreak for the year marking the official end of my usefulness to the advertising world. I wanted to do something for my 30th to make it something to look forward to. Hence: The mules.

What I needed to do, I thought, was simply stick myself into the biggest hole the ground I could find on the morning of my 30th birthday. The Grand Canyon seemed adequate; I was there as a small bratty child, but only to the rim. I haven't seen it from the ground up.

So I booked a mule trip to the Colorado River for the weekend of my birthday, because what everybody wants to do, in the dead of January on the day their youth culturally expires, is host themselves onto an easily pissed pack animal for eight consecutive hours. Josh The Pilot wanted to come, too, because he does love his digital camera and probably wished to test the speed frame function as I went sailing over the canyon wall.

But this weekend I sat and looked over the numbers and scowled a lot and then called the mules and told them I wasn't coming. I can't afford it; worse, I can't justify it. I miss the West so much that I actually tranced out while on the phone with the National Parks Service because the hold music was Navajo flute melodies.

Five years ago, I would have gone anyway. Five years ago, I had a lot of growing up to do. At inches-to-thirty, I struggle to keep a mildewy roof over my head-- but it's my roof, soon to be partially financed by my book. It is enough, it is far more than I deserve, to see my nephews unwrap their Christmas presents and to hold the hand of a good man who loves me on my birthday, there beneath the mildew.

And so, I give you thirty: It is about the mules... it's about knowing enough to leave them tied to the rail for the moment.

brighty come back at:

Saturday, October 28, 2006

"If It's Red, It's Good."

Here is my YouTube debut, of G-Force and me sampling various flavors of Coke at EPCOT. This is quite possibly the biggest inside joke in all of Disney World, for veterans of the Coke pavillion know: Just because it's free and from Italy doesn't mean it's edible.

My voice sounds unusually nasal, but then again, digital cameras are known for their outstanding audio quality. Watch for the properly horrified people in the background.

good hair day, though at:

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Horrible Thought Of the Day

I am now three years older than the oldest Friend on Friends when Friends debuted.

Also: New content on The book should be at Barnes and Noble soon. But don't get it there. Get it here. It's cheaper. Plus I get more royalties. See, I'm all about you, and your needs.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Always American in Paris

I was excited about Notre Dame.

The original, for once, not the brother school. It was one of my few must-dos while I was in France. I studied the architecture for one entire chapter in one of my Western Civ history courses, and was eager to apply my immense scholarly work.

But see, here’s the problem that I, and I’m sure many other Americans, have with Europe: It really needs to get its weather under control. I did not fly across an entire ocean to be rained upon. Seriously, Paris. I think a sincere and immediate apology is in order.

So here’s Notre Dame, and it’s dark, and I enter, and… really, you guys need to clean your cathedral. You’ve had eight hundred years to do it. The paint was all fadey and stuff. What’s with all the dark smudgy marks on the walls? Why is everything so high? I shouldn’t have to look up to see stuff. Plus I had to walk to get to the back of the church, and I think we can all agree that I shouldn’t have to work while touring abroad.

Here’s what needs to happen: The main aisle needs a moving walkway, okay, with fire twirlers positioned alongside for my amusement. And there needs to be way more natural light, so a few Ikea shelf-lined picture windows need to be installed. All the lame depressing statues of dead people can go. A Starbuck’s in the Joan of Arc chapel would also be a vast improvement, because, like—looking at stuff is hard, and makes me very tired. Better yet, just set up a virtual tour booth at the entrance so I don’t have to actually go in the place. I swear, when they built this, nobody was thinking about me.

I mean, seriously at:

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Great Pick-Up

One of my favorite aspects of Monaco was its truly hilarious cars.

I wanted a picture of me draped over the hood, then I thought about it and realized that I would have to be simultaneously draped over the windshield wipers, cargo fixtures, trunk, and rear bumper. I am not this bendy.

I cannot imagine the point of this car. It would last perhaps a second and a half on I-4 before some tourist in a comparatively looming Volvo crushed it beneath its Yosemite Sam mudflaps.

Why, for instance, lock it? Jim The Small Child Nephew and his stuffed kitty could carry it off. The wide availability of the tires, of course, must be a selling point; all John Deeres are compatible. Where's the engine? Is there an engine? Or do all the clowns it carries about merely squirt their seltzer bottles simultaneously?

Mostly, I like these cars because it is one of the few on Earth that allow me to say, "My Corolla could bury you."

vroom at:

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pig Time

Welcome to the first all-football post in some time. I like to concentrate on my areas of expertise as an English major.

Two wins this weekend. Like all good old-skool Catholics, however, I can enjoy neither of them.

First: Notre Dame. Deeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaam. This is what I like to refer to as a Lando Calrissian game, for that was too close. No way should it have been that close.

Charlie Weiss pronounced himself "happy" at the end of it. I totally believe him, given the fact that he ran off the field looking like somebody just used his new puppy as a scouring pad.

Josh The Pilot called me when the game was won: "Didja see that? That was awesome!"

I played it like one learns to expect these things, once one is in the Notre Dame family, but I hung up and went back to putting my head between my knees, all, "Thirty-eight seconds... why they always gotta do this with thirty-eight seconds to go."

Next day: Bengals. Precisely one Bengals game has been televised here in The Swamp this year, and it was, of course, this one. Waaaaaaaaay too much awesomeness for one season! So I had to follow the score on ESPN's little GameTracker rectangle, which was inconcievable ten years ago and will be hilariously quaint in another ten, when the game will just be projected directly onto our retinas or whatever. Josh The Pilot, given his divided Panther loyalties, did not watch at all.

This time, I called him.

It was a very long while before he spoke.


"Hey!" Pause. "If it makes you feel any better, Boomer picked your team to win today."

It didn't.

Dan Marino picked the Panthers, too, and even that didn't help. It helped me, though, as I was very glad to see them in agreement on something. I've been nervous for Esiason ever since he called Payton Manning "this generation's Dan Marino" with Dan sitting, like, four inches away. Go watch Marino's face at the end of that clip, tell me you're not going to sleep with your hand curled around a Glock for the next several eons. Laces out, Boomer.

midterms done at:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Totally Official FAQ Post

We're gathering more and more new readers (I know, it's all about the polar ice caps melting) and so I'm working on an FAQ, both for BlondeChampagne as well as Drink To The Lasses. Anything you want A'd? You know, that you Q on an F basis?

This will be a "rolling post" that I'll update as the questions come in over the weekend, so check back with it. The post loves you tooooooooo!

midterms at:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


This is one of the pictures the book designer considered for the cover of Drink to the Lasses. It's me on the night of my first dance (described in horrid, searing detail in Chapter Thirteen.) Look at me. I'm nineteen. I haven't had a job yet (well, the desk-intensive, suck-the-soul kind, anyway.) I've only been driving for two and a half years. I have no idea who Ashley Simpson is. Fortunate girl.

Sometimes I miss her. Sometimes I want to slap her. Mostly I want to take her aside and have a very serious talk about bangs.

I still have this dress. It's in a closet, but my designated non-active closet, the same one that holds a garment bag, my high school jacket, four Halloween costumes, and the water heater. I guess a little piece of me still wants her around... or maybe she never left.

those heels are around here somehwere at:

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Drink To the Lasses


It seems I've written a book.

You've seen previews without even knowing it (here, here, and here) but the bulk of this--it's a college memoir--is new writing. I hope you like it. I hope you buy it. I hope you buy it, and like it, and tell your book-buying friends about it, too. I thank you kindly in advance.

You're mentioned, by the way. Page 155.

no, really, I wrote a book at:

Monday, October 16, 2006

One Glass

I would like you to meet Kyle, The Buyer of Magically Refilling Wine.

Kyle appears with me in Formerly SuperSecretDoubleProbation Project with his deep and brave and haunting essay "You Shall Go Out With Joy and Be Led Forth With Peace." We are in charge of keeping the states of Ohio and Florida under control; he grew up in one and moved to the other, and just about the time he departed, I was taking his place in The Swamp. Writers, we do stuff like that for each other.

Kyle and I met at the Formerly SuperSecret Double Probation Project Reading. None of us ate very much beforehand, because we were pretty much on the verge of total spewage, and also what there was to eat was New York-style pizza, which, I'm sorry, is essentially a puddle of grease and pepper on flatbread. Where I come from, okay, your pizza should not contain more liquid than the eight-ounce, $89.95 cup of pop you got on the side.

So after the reading we were 1) hungry 2) wonderfully destressed 3) exhausted, so the proper thing to do was to pump us full of alcohol.

Note that the darts are nowhere to be found. They knew better than to leave us alone in a room with hurlable pointy objects.

Kyle brought me a small bottle of wine, apologizing because it had a twist-off cap, but at point I was all "IT'S FROM GRAPES" and took it anyway. I poured myself a glass, and wandered around being angst-filled and talking writer stuff, and set it down when I was done, very sad that the wine had gone away, and then I went back to our table to fiddle with my camera, and- there it was! More wine! Right in the little bottle! I had forgotten all about it! And so I poured myself a glass.



would you like a drink of pizza at:

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Our Liberators

For as much sniping I've done on France, I will say this: The French do properly tend their D-Day history.

I'm sitting on a bus in Normandy. It is entirely too early to be sitting anywhere. The tour operators are extremely American about departure times, by which I mean when the bus is leaving at 6:30 AM, it's not "wander down to the lobby 'roundabout 6:35." It's AIS, 6:30 AM. We were departing for a military tour, yes, but... seriously.

Whizzing past the bus are a great many cows. Paris blurs behind us, eons away; to liberate the great metropolis, the Allies first had to free the pasturelands. The cows are brown and white and don't seem particularly grateful one way or the other. Look, there go some now:

They are heartbreaking, these cows. They're just standing there. They were just standing there sixty years ago, too. Maybe they started at the sounds of the gunfire. Or maybe by then they were used to it.

The first stop is Arromanches, where the Allies built floating docks. The bases remain, decaying concrete, horrible scars in the sea. They are a tribute to outstanding engineering, remarkable planning. I wish they were never necessary. For how many men were these the last solid ground they stood upon until their bodies were dragged to the shore?

Look at the cliff. For the rest of my life I'll put my hand over my mouth whenever I think of that cliff. That was scaled by real men, with real ropes, under awful fire from real guns. When the ropes were oversaturated with water and blood, the troops hauled themselves off the beach by their fingernails and boot toes.Straight down.

I debate on posing for pictures or smiling at all; it seems horridly out of place, like grinning one's way through the Holocaust Museum. But the town of Arromanches is brimming with life, color, sun. Buses and cars and school trips and vets-- one sign in a store window that nudges me to tears in my leatherette, air conditioned seat is handlettered in painstaking English over a picture of Allied troops: "WE WELCOME OUR LIBERATORS."

And I think that was my biggest fear, with Normandy-- not the emotions or the crying or the threat of rain, but that our bus would trundle alone through overgrown cow patches and rusted-over war material. But everywhere we went that day was thronged over with men and women my age up and my age down, Americans and Canadians, French and British. They had all remembered.

So I allow myself one smile, to honor the honoring.

You see I have a picnic basket. An honest-to-God picnic basket, with a little metal spoon and slim carrots and squares of very suspicious sandwiches. It was a war zone, and now I have a picnic basket.

I am particularly glad that the Allies focused on Arromanches, for it is the only place I could find a proper cheeseburger in all of France.

Between my ghastly French and the counter lady's limited English, I am also able to order fries.

I lost two pounds in France.

Others lost far more.

This is Omaha.
It's beautiful and pure and blue and horrible. The Marines called it "Bloody Omaha," which came from our French tour guide's mouth as "Omaha the Bloody"-- I perfer the way she said it. Omaha the Bloody, an adjective and a place deserving the pause of a well-placed "the."

One of our group carefully scooped some of the sand into a little bag, and wrote on it, "I am an American citizen. This is sand from Omaha Beach, September 2006." He stashed it in his suitcase.

The customs agent waved him through.

The Omaha memorial is scattered with tiny red rocks as a reminder of the bloodshed. Directly in front of it are teenagers playing volleyball, laughing, coveting my picnic basket. I am momentarily appalled, then realize that there could be no better tribute; this is why those young men came. This is why they all slogged on shore, some of them never making it to the beach for the swells and the heavy equipment, so that these very people can do this very thing on this very sand.

More on Normandy, including the American cemetery later. I can only do a little bit at a time, for obvious reasons.

blessings to the children they never had at:

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