Saturday, January 28, 2006

January 28, 1986

Twenty years ago, because I sat in a third-grade classroom and watched the Challenger explode, I'm now sitting here-- in Florida, a former Kennedy Space Center employee, struggling to teach a sometimes-angry contingent of pilots how to write. I want to explain it to them, individually, take their hands and say "We thought it was safe, but all of a sudden it wasn't anymore" because at the time they were embryos, fetuses, toddlers. I can't make them understand.

An attempt.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Okay. Okay. End-Of-Month Roundup:

-New Year's Eve was excellent, as long as you don't judge it by the sparkling wine (as any wine snob worth her sulfites knows, Champagne is only Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France. Also, I simply enjoy typing Champagne; hence the name of the blog. ChampagneChampagneChampagneChampagne.) Josh the Pilot and I were on the hunt for red sparkling wine from Italy that is awesome, but as the only liquor store within driving distance was located between a Dollar Tree and the Nail Hut, we wound up with some... rose... thing that involved a screw off cap. The only other selection available? Cold Duck. You would have a finer wine experience sucking on grape Jelly Bellys crushed between schoolyard blacktop and the wheels of a Volvo.

-Speaking of, for you siblings out there looking to bond, may I recommend sharing an enormous tray of jelly beans between you. Julie the NephewMama and I recently balanced a 42-flavor box between us, and we shoved individual beans in our mouths until we discovered the recipies card, in which we were encouraged to create "blueberry muffin" and "root beer float." Reviews ranged between"I could subsist on just this for the rest of my life" and "EWWWWWWWW! EWWWWWWWW! EWWWWWWWWWW! Here, try the jalapeno."

-Worst Things Ever Overheard on an Oprah Show, Both Heard Within a Two-Minute Window:

1) "More women should consider a Brazilian bikini wax."

2) "Do what makes you love life, ladies!"

These two things, I am telling you RIGHT NOW, are mutually exclusive.

-I've firmly added kickboxing classes to my workout regimen, which are less specious than my Pilates in the sense that there is no pretense that this whole affair isn't going to just absolutely suck yaks. There's no soft lighting. There are no mats. It's just gym floor and Madonna and pain, and since the university where I teach has no real workout center, we have to share space with the volleyball team, the cheerleaders, the kids' camps, the basketball clinics, and the dance club, with which we recently had a rumble.

The dancers were rehearsing their routines with a large boombox (I am informed that "ghettoblaster" is no longer acceptable terminology, and yet somehow America is okay with Jeff Probst saying things like "Cincinnati, REPRESENTED!") and we were attempting to hold kickboxing class, also with a loud boombox, and they turned their volume up, and we turned our volume up, and they decided to run laps directly through our kicking lines, and then they sent an envoy over with a glitter tank top and peaceful tidings, and asked Rochelle The Instructor to turn our music down, and she looked at them like they had just asked her to lick Velveeta directly off the gym floor. Then we stood in little groups and mocked their faux-hip hop, and then we got back to a grim series of leg lifts and arm slashes that did not in the slightest resemble kicking, or, for that matter, boxing. This is the best exercise class ever.

-Several of you have asked me what I think about the two Deuce miniseries that were on TV around Christmastime. I haven't responded because I wanted to appear thoughtful and reflective, not because the emails got buried under some bill reminders and spam about my great need for Viagra. Which... never mind.

Let me say this about that. These movies together had six hours in which to tell the story of John Paul II's life, and of all the great and defining moments from over 85 years, CBS decided to reenact... this. Because when you think God, dignity, and the Holy See, you think: "Let's bust out the mimes! But only if they're the juggling kind!"

like I said, excommunicate all clowns at:

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Lauren The Reader: Truly a Person You Want On Your Side

Bigol' teary thank you to Lauren the Reader, who is wise as well as kind. Now I can go back to Howl at the Moon for up to forty-five consecutive seconds! Lauren, you made this blonde's day. Many thanks.

Monday, January 23, 2006


I'm 29 now, and therefore old, apparently. If I were a figure skater--and this likely wouldn't have worked, seeing as figure skaters probably need to know their right from their left-- I would be in reitrement about fifteen years by now. Friendboy Andy went through this, I believe, when he passed the maximum age requirement for applying to The Real World. All I know is, when my parents visited me earlier this month we popped into a crappy T-shirt shop on the beach (you know the ones, the kind that have 94320 clones within a 1.2 mile radius, all selling the same ceramic alligator) I caught my father staring inquisitively at a blank tank top with white lettering.

"What," he said, "is a 'Hollaback Girl?'"

The fact that I could not provide a definitive answer made me angry, and frustrated, and also hungry, so we left. Pushing-30 people should be past this sort of thing--wearing it, understanding it, and drinking it.

But! There's always... The Howl.

Now the original Howl At the Moon Saloon was what passed for my social life while I was living at home and completing my MFA. It's a wincible thing to be living with your parents past car-rental age, and even wincier to still tag after your accountant older sister in order to find nightlife, but there I was about five years ago. Julie the NephewMama's bachelorette party was held at The Howl, and let us just say that at one point an Indiana Jones-style whip became involved, and also some suspiciously shaped gummy candies, and our mother got to see a grand total of a photo and a half when the film was developed.

Another Howl had opened in Orlando by the time I moved, and that was fun, until Lou Pearlman decided--and if you don't know who Lou is, please just understand that he is responsible for *NSYNC, and that should tell you all you need to know about how much he hates humanity and you in particular--that what Orlando needed, more than anything else, was more him. So he bought up and shut down Church Street Station, the Howl included. For the past three years, the citizens of The City Beautiful have been offered in this space, as an alternative to fun, large piles of shale and a crane. I do not miss Orlando.

But The Howl just reopened in a tourist-intensive part of town, by which I mean "any part of town," so Flipper and Oogie and I went to post-celebrate my birthday, which I frankly thought couldn't get any better following this conversation:

JULIE THE NEPHEWMAMA: Tell Aunt Beth happy birthday.

It was a better-formulated greeting than the one I got from the guy leaning against the wall, who was watching us lean against the wall, which I suppose is what the kids do these days while attempting to attract a mate. "Do you live here?" said Wall Boy, and at first I was like, "You mean, in the bar?" which would suck, because I would be absolutely destitute by the first bathroom break of the day.

The cover, to begin with, was ten dollars. As in ten. Dollars. And cover time is always a scary time, as last year the three of us plus G-Force went to a bar, and bouncer said the following:

TO FLIPPER: Can I see your ID?
TO ME: Can I see your ID?
TO OOGIE: Oh. You can go ahead.
TO G-FORCE: Can I see your ID?

I've since lost count of the number of things wrong with that entire transaction, and if we were going to be insulted, we didn't want to lose two day's worth of groceries in the process.

But all three of us were duly carded, and then I ran into Michelle The Former Co-Worker from the Evil Boring Day Job. Beyond the fact that reflecting on this particular portion of my life makes me want to ram a pair of desk scissors directly into the back of my neck, I hadn't had anything to drink yet. I wish I could hate Michelle, as she is very pretty, but I can't, because she is also very nice, which makes me wish I could hate her even more, which made me want to drink.

And when I did? $6.75. Please tell me when the formula for a fuzzy navel became "8/10 ice, 2/10 orange juice, briefly dip the cap of the Schnapp's into the Dixie cup," because I seem to have missed the staff meeting.

Once we got to a table, we sat, and Wall Boy was sad and went away. This was the waitress' cue to want to know what we were drinking, and when we said "Um, until the Extraneous OrgansMobile shows up with a wad of cash, nothing," she said, "Not to be rude, but--"

Let's just pause the tape here for a moment. Does anything good ever follow these words? These, or "Maybe I shouldn't say this" or "I don't mean to be critical" or "This is just my opinion." Inhospitality really requires no introduction.

Well. It seemed that if we wanted to sit at her table-- these were her exact words, her table, as if the rest of the cheerleading squad always sat here for lunch--then we had to order drinks. But! They didn't have to be alcoholic drinks! Which was good, because the fuzzy navel certainly didn't qualify as one.

We could order water. Wasn't that nice? For three dollars. A bottle. For three dollars a bottle, each individual hydrogen and oxygen molecule had better be hand-fused by Algerian monks trained to the task from birth.

Flipper and I danced on the stage and left. We picked a fine time to leave them, Lucille.

you... at

Previous Tastings