Monday, December 31, 2007

Countdown

Let us review the highlights of 2007:

1) I was Princess Center of Attention MYYYYYYYYYYY SPECIAL DAY BRIDE

2) As you well know, pretty much nothing else matters.

Thank you for your friendship and readership. I hope your remaining two hours of 2007 are the best two hours of the year. We are putting the decals on our Life board game, because nobody parties like two newlyweds on their first New Year's Eve.

confetti at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I'll say it again: I love my bride!

I've been told wives remember everything their husbands do and say, good or bad. I married Mary Beth because she's the rare one who doesn't bring up past faults during an argument, and simply thanks me for the things I've done for her. This Christmas Tink showed me once again why I have no reason to think we won't make it long term: she gave me a surround sound system for the man-cave! Normally, there's no way we can afford such a luxury, but she took on an extra e-Stack to earn the money.
That's her real gift to me, and I'll always remember it. I'll never forget how she was willing to sacrifice time and energy to earn money for my present, time and energy she could have spent on her next MSNBC article or the manuscript for her next book. I'll always remember how she remembered me missing the Daytona 500 to help her move, and has returned the gift, with interest. A long time from now, when the system is long since upgraded and the price she paid is pocket change for us, I'll still consider it the most priceless gift she ever gave me.
I love you, my bride!!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Ornamental

The Dick Cheney Memorial Christmas Tree is up, and it will stay up through Epiphany, because I love Christmas and the Dick Cheney Memorial Christmas Tree was a world-class pain in the crack to construct.

Because it came in a box, we had to unbend the needles and branches from their fresh-from-nature position, which was exactly parallel to the shiny metal trunk. And because people are idiots, we removed the following pile of warning tags from the various parts and pieces:

All because somebody out there once tried to eat the tree, or desperately needed to be told in Spanish that the tree was made in China, or tried to water it with the pre-lit bulbs fully ablaze.

Tony The Reader recently hoped that Josh The Pilot and I had a "Just Married" ornament for our new tree. I think that wedding-related ornaments on a Christmas tree are extremely narcissistic and detract attention from the baby Jesus to the newlyweds, so we have five, plus one I found today for 75% off. In ten years, it will not matter that it never made it on the tree the year we were actually Just Married.

But the great pile of tags will live forever in our hearts.

halls decked at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, December 27, 2007

You Just Know a Bedazzler Has Been Deployed In the Blue Room

This year's White House Christmas theme, of which I heartily approve, is Holiday in the National Parks. Also known as "The Parts of America Which Will Kill You Without All That Unnecessary Human Intervention."

I watch White House Christmas on HGTV every single year, because it is craft porn. What this show does is follow the process of decorating the White House, all the while insinuating that you, too, can create a replica of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, had you merely access to the engineering blueprints, a private carpentry shop, a staff of full-time florists, 60 volunteers, and a glue gun.

Because that's what they used in the White House Christmas decorations, a glue gun. They didn't use it to put together the 300-pound gingerbread house for the State Dining Room, which would have made me feel much better, as a new homemaker; they used it to put together a shell wreath for the West Garden Room (How are you decorating your West Garden Room this year? Pre-lit topiary carousel horses? Me too!)

I slung a serious glue gun back in the day, before I copped to my own utter incompetence in the crafting arena. If you toss me a glue gun, large clumps of yellowish adhesive and tiny, mucus like strings hanging from the just-shot crafty object will soon follow. Release me into the White House with a loaded glue gun, and I will have the JFK desk in the Oval Office lumpily arrayed with ribbon lining in no time at all.

stick em up at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Perfect Men

Warning: This post contains graphic nudity

I made a grocery run on Christmas Eve Day, and nearly walked directly into the ladder of a Friendly Customer Service Team Member Associate, who was very busy removing all the Christmas decorations. Good. Make sure the Easter egg dye is good and dusty by Ash Wednesday.

I was there to obtain salad, because the house was alarmingly full of sugared objects. A week earlier, in a great caloric experiment, I attempted to make the most horrible for-you cookies possible within the limits of human digestion. So I dumped pure cake mix in a bowl... and added real butter... and M&M's. Then I paused, tapping my fingertips together: What, what, could I do to make them worse?

Why, roll them in pure sugar!


And what, what could I do with them to cause the greatest amount of chaos?

Why, distribute them to very small children!

I packed up the little nuclear sucruse bombs and drove them under military escort to my family's Christmas party, where there were nine children under the age of six. They had to call in FEMA by the time we left.

I had earned enough do-gooder credits to get away with this; in honor of the holiday season, I'd taken care to clothe the cold and naked.

Very fashionably too, I might add. You should be so lavender.

sweet at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Merriest

I wish all of you-- new The Readers, old The Readers, bypassers on the cyberhighway-- a very blessed Christmas. May the Christ Child surround and infuse you with His Love.

adoring Him at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The "Yes, I Actually Have To Write This Post" Post

Dear People Who Don't Understand That My Most Recent MSNBC.com Article Is, In Fact, a Satire:

Exactly three people have emailed to express their disagreement. I sent each one a reply. Two wrote back immediately to apologize and admit that they'd misunderstood the piece. One copped to reading it too quickly, which interfered with his comprehension. I may yet hear from the third, as I answered him just an hour ago. I am beginning, however, to see a pattern here. UPDATE: I just received an email from my third correspondent, the opening line of which is: "My heartfelt apologies." Huh.

As to the rest, well...

Thank you for your concern about what you assume was an unhappy childhood, not to mention your express wish that I not celebrate Christmas at your house. However, please rest assured that I don't curl into the fetal position in front of my TV while watching "How The Grinch Stole Christmas!" because I am so very, very upset over that poor dead roast beast.

What fascinates me about this entire affair is the source of the many kind comments and emails from people who did like the article. (And thanks to those who took the time to send along these much-appreciated words.) They all came from people with traceable addresses or OpenID accounts.

The rest of you were content to take to take time out of your lives two days before Christmas and click away to an anonymous MSNBC.com forum, where you typed very earnestly, sometimes in ALL CAPS, sometimes with expletives, that I really needed to lighten up about life. Some then proceeded to dedicate a great deal of time, a few in several different posts, to announcing that you wished you had the five minutes of you life back that you wasted reading the article.

Allow me to reiterate that at least three different editors had to clear this piece before it was posted. I'll admit the headline--which I didn't write-- might be misleading. I asked the features editor on call to change it to something less ambiguous, such as "No, She Doesn't Actually Sit Up Nights Worried That Yukon Cornelius is Busting Up ANWR." She wrote back that she cannot believe some of the reactions regarding the piece. Another editor, who guided me through the drafting process, is flummoxed as well. I can't speak for the third higher-up, the one who originally approved the concept, but I'm fairly certain she wouldn't OK 1000 words on the hatred and fearmongering to be found in "Frosty The Snowman."

Dave Barry once said that if a reader doesn't get a joke, it's the writer's fault. So maybe it's my lack of clarity, and I over-trusted and under-worded. If it really is me, then I'm honestly sorry that you didn't like the free entertainment section commentary upon which you clicked, and I'll try to do better next time. However, I figured lines like "May God have mercy on their cartoon souls should any of (the Charlie Brown characters) appear on 'Dancing With the Stars,'" would tip most people off that I was demonstrating absurdity with absurdity.

Writing is about community, and in no way do I expect every single person to faint away in transports at every single word I write. I certainly don't view my own writing that respect, and am constantly in need of constructive criticism. But good heavens, please do let us discuss this as rational human beings.

I'm not sure if God has called me to have children just yet, but I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't type that you hoped that I never have any.

Yes, I did get paid for this article. And many, many others.

I am not part of a mass media agenda to take down the George W. Bush administration.

I'm also pretty sure that my 66-year-old parents, a retired Catholic school teacher and a small business owner, are not hippies.

You may now stop calling me a bitter, angry bitch who hates the baby Jesus.

Have a very blessed Christmas, and a peaceful and happy New Year. And yes, I'm quite serious about that.

UPDATE: Thanks to all for a good discussion. There were a handful comments which I did not post, both against the article and in defense of it, because they violated the no-flaming commenting policy of this site. (In case you missed it, which I understand can happen, it's spelled out at the top of the comment form.) Although I appreciate the sentiment of those of you who wish to defend me, I really don't want any insults flying here in the Tasting Room. It's just not that kind of place.

As I'm sure we all need to get on with our lives and concentrate on the true meaning of the season, I'm locking the comment thread. Scat, now, and make Christmas the verb it is meant to be.

I mean, really at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Concerning More Things Which Are Shiny

Perhaps to rectify The Jeff Gordon Who Ate The Baby Jesus, an extraordinarily kind gift has arrived from Red Pill Junkie The Reader. It is a beautiful Nativity set, complete with cow:

However, since this Holy Family was mailed from Red Pill Junkie's home in Mexico, they created their own immigration crisis. First the international shipping of it all presented a red-tape problem; then Fed-Ex tried to deliver the package, but the intolerant, immigration-unfriendly postal employees bounced it to another address. Baby Jesus was then shipped to a nearby town to wait in Fed-Ex purgatory as Congress reconvened to sort it all out.

Once everyone arrived, I placed them on my server (newlywed term for an avocado green, fourth-generation hand-me-down dresser with a tablecloth thrown over it) next to our Advent wreath. You can't have too much Jesus in a house, especially when He arrives packing sheep. Prior to this, the only item I've ever had in my possession from Mexico was a fantastically tacky sombrero I dragged back from Nogalas when I was six, and this smells way better. Thank you, my friend.

año y felicidad prósperos at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

"Diamonds: That'll Shut Her Up"

Good morning, The Readers and above quote from Ron White! Do we have room for an email?

Well! There's an infinitely expanding white box here that says... we do.

An email from The Reader who identifies him or herself as "*Fan*" writes:

"I am so curious to know what you think of all the Christmas-time jewelry commercials on TV right now...?"

Thanks for writing, "*Fan*." Well, *Fan*, (I need to get myself a set of asterisks; that's right snazzy) I'll tell you-- those commercials are awesome, and truly remind me of the real meaning of Christmas. I, for one, enjoy celebrating the welcoming of my Savior with a reminder that shiny things=love. What woman doesn't want a man who can only express himself via mall kiosk? What man doesn't want a woman who puts out only after he takes the hideous risk of placing unattended diamonds beneath some random evergreen at a corner tree lot so that she can find it?

My favorite jewelery-related commercial isn't from a jeweler at all, but a radio ad for a gambling casino. There's this guy? And he goes gambling? And then you hear him say, "Here, this is for yooooooou!" (it is at this point when I feel especially grateful that this all takes place on the radio) and a woman's voice responding, "Oh, it's beautiful!" To which the guy says-- hold on a second, I have to make sure I get it exactly right, so that you can appreciate the full impact... okay, got it--"Baby, it's worth it to see the look on your face." Yes, he certainly worked very hard rolling those dice across that table.

I invite all to this diamond-purchasing article, which reminds potential purchasers that "if she is a platonic friend, think twice about it as she might get the wrong message." Dude, not if you leave it lying around on some tree-intensive street corner. Then she'll totally get it.

every kiss begins with GIMMIE at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Welcome MSNBC.com Readers

I really mean it this time. Unlike last time.

all together now at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Festivus Yes, Sit 'N Spin No

I had a phone audience with The King yesterday, in which he announced, "I was in time out."

As his aunt, it is my job to comfort Jim The Small Child Nephew when the outside world dares to offend; besides, it is the proper time of year for The Airing Of Grievances. So I feigned disbelief and listened as he described how he delivered his own personal Feat of Strength in the form of hurling a cup of yogurt on the floor.

While we're at it, I have a Grievance to Air of my own. My parents recently presented Jim with a Sit 'N Spin, under the theory that if the child were rotating, he would remain relatively quiet. I am furious. Where does he get off having unfettered access to a Sit 'N Spin? I wasn't allowed to have a Sit 'N Spin! I had to go across the street and use the Richards', who, it must be noted, also had an Atari. I had "Math Magic" on the Texas Instruments TI-99. I don't care if I grew up to teach college; I want my un-Pitfalled childhood rectified.

for the rest of us at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

50-50

Most of you within sight of this page have probably never heard of Cincinnati's Ruth Lyons, America's first talk show hostess. She singlehandedly invented the format. Without her, there is no Oprah. She was better than Oprah. Tom Cruise would not have jumped up and down on Ruth's couch. Ruth would have clocked him with the bunches of flowers she carried around with her to hide her microphone.

She had a seven-year waiting list for audience requests, but these days, Ruth Lyons is largely associated with her worthy Children's Fund, which purchases therapy equipment and delivers gifts to hospitalized kids. But a few years ago I discovered that she also wrote for, performed on, and produced Christmas albums. And now I understand why nobody--sponsors, guests, audience members who were required to wear white gloves--crossed Ruth.

One cut from her Christmas album, "Christmas Marching Song," positively orders her audience to have a nice day, but the only way they're going to get there is to do so in a fully regimented fashion. "Make a list," she says severely. "Now's the time. Here we go! Get in line!"

Then she counts to ten in German as her terrified castmates shout out their assigned cheer-related tasks, such as "put the lights on the Christmas tree" and "tie the presents with bows so fine." And you WILL LIKE the bows so fine, Herr Braun.

See, we Cincinnatians respond to that. We're overwhelmingly Catholic, and German, and if there's one thing we understand, it's making lists and getting into lines. In fact, it probably wouldn't be Christmas for most of us if we weren't reduced to near-tears by ensuring that each gingerbread person received precisely the correct amount of nonpareils.

There's a smidge of me that's French, just enough to grant transactional France-joke immunity. I think it's that part that stares down at the acres of dough on the cookie sheet, mutters "Whatever," and strews sugar more or less at random; if it actually ends up on the cookie, so much the better.

eins zwei drei at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome MSNBC.com Readers

We're so glad you've finally come to accept Donner as he really is.

NOTE TO THE READERS: Sorry that I don't have a link yet... I just wanted to provide a nice, soft landing for new The Readers who clicked from the piece overnight, but the article is taking longer to go live than I thought. I'm not sure why it's held over, but I have a fairly solid suspicion that breaking news quite vital to the future of the human race intervened. I apologize for the chase through cyberspace for those of you who made one. When I have a link, I'll post it.

Oh, and The Readers, Blogger has now switched to OpenID in the comments section. For some reason, this has sparked enormous blog debate, about which I do not care, because I have bigger problems. I have The Looming Gordon to attend to.

blitzen, however, is another matter at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, December 17, 2007

O Fir Tree Plastic

This is the first year I've had a big-girl Christmas tree of my very own that does not involve batteries or for-illegal-drugs-only fiberoptic shifting, so it was important to find the correct one.

By which I mean "made in China." Real trees terrify me; the responsibility is horrific. Last month I dreamed that I had a baby, which I kept in a dresser drawer and never remembered to feed. I woke up deeply concerned that one of my special occasion bras had been pooped in. A live tree, my people, is little more than a twelve-day albatross.

So Josh The Pilot and I, as my German ancestors did, made a traditional Christmas journey to claim a pole of green plastic from a hardware store. Home Depot may have bestowed this terror upon the world, but it also had seven-foot trees for under a hundred bucks. I will forgive any number of outdoor decor crimes if it means more money for merlot.

We made the attempt on a Sunday, directly after church, no stops at the Jesus doughnuts, for we had to return home before the Vice President arrived from the Beltway in our little town. He wasn't coming to see us, which was good, because I hadn't cleaned, but close enough so that his motorcade would clog our hideously quaint one-way streets for miles. When you're racing the Vice President, there's no room for error. He has a helicopter, and guns.

Once the tree was located, I left Josh behind to close the deal while I gathered other Home Depot-related items and ran to the grocery store next door, because if the Vice President swung by anyway, I wanted to at least have crackers. When I left Josh, he was standing at the Customer Service desk holding a credit card. By the time I returned with a paint chip from what passes for the lady aisle in Home Depot, he was alone and sad by the tree display.

"They don't have any more," he said.

"So get the display."

"The guy won't sell me the display."

"Why display it if they don't have any to sell?"

"He said it would throw off the look of the department."

"There's a FOUR-FOOT INFLATABLE SNOWMAN DANGLING OUT OF A TONY STEWART CAR over there, and he comes with a pit crew. A missing tree isn't the issue here."

I went to the grocery.

When I returned, Josh was seated forlornly in his suit and tie on an empty dolly. "It's in stock," he said, "they just have to get to it."

"Is it... still in China?"

"The guy said it was in a warehouse."

"Is he getting it?"

"He needs to find a ladder."

"We're in Home Depot!"

"I said that, and he laughed at me."

I returned to the grocery for merlot.

When I came back, Josh had added a plastic-wrapped ladder to the dolly. "There is now a manager involved."

"Why do you have a ladder?"

"Because I went to the ladder aisle to show the guy that he could just grab one of these, and I remembered that we don't have a ladder either." He pointed to the price tag. "See? Forty percent off."

When the tree at last arrived, as all fine evergreens do, in a cardboard box with a plastic handle, we wheeled it into the parking lot and moved aside all the wine to make way. This involved folding down the back seat as I climbed over it in my skirt and heels to provide counterweight. See, I can be useful.

We were shoving the box into the car when we heard a loud whirring noise from above. We paused.

"What's that?"

I turned around to see, as all Americans dream of seeing, Marine 2 and a military escort bearing down on the Home Depot. "It's Cheney!"

"They're closing the streets! Get the trunk closed!"

I don't live a hugely exciting life, but every now and then it's fun to rum-rush a boxed Christmas tree across an intersection with the Vice President of the United States at the other end of the street.

Tannenbauming at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Friday, December 14, 2007

O Come, Let Jeff Adore Him

In my first Christmas as a married lady, I struggled for days decorate our new home with a respectful mixture of old traditions and new tackiness. So the ornaments from the year I was born went right next to the great globs of 47 cent tinsel from Wal-Mart.

We have new stockings, which we hung with care by the over the pressed-wood board supported by aluminum brackets. Santa can fill them after he comes in through the fireplace's gas line.

My nativity set is the Precious Moments one from my childhood, constructed a day at a time throughout Advent, Baby Jesus last, so that by Christmas Eve a multitude had gathered to gaze worshipfully at a hunk of bent hay from Frank's Nursery and Crafts. I'm not that patient, so now that I'm in charge of this Bethlehem, everybody showed up at the stable at the same time.

It was startling, however, once I pulled everyone out of their respective Styrofoam cradles; everything was so small. I honestly thought I was missing some of the pieces, and there was another, larger set back at my parents' house somewhere. Wasn't St. Joseph, like, the size of of my head? What was he doing this teeny? It was like revisiting the teacup ride at Disney World after trying to wedge myself into the seat since last sitting there in 1985; women have shrinkage issues too, you see.

St. Nick found his way through the gas line on the 6th, and left Josh The Pilot a Jeff Gordon: Attractive Famous Person DVD, and also Pez. I was fine with this as long as Jeff and his left turns stayed in the living room and out of my office, and kitchen, and living room, and backyard, and car. The next morning, however, I came downstairs to find the following:


Well! Isn't it nice of Jeff Gordon to loom ominously over the Christ Child!

Once more, issues of proportion frighten me enormously here; Jeff Gordon towers over the very trees of Bethlehem, daring them to pass him on the inside. I am assured, however, he brought sponsor-approved gifts of DuPont paint, Nicorette gum, and Pepsi.

merrily on high at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another One From The Pilot

Several of you have asked Mary Beth how to send cards, gifts, and books for autographing. Yes, pretty much all the above can be done online, but it's nice to be old fashioned every once in awhile, isn't it?

We'd like to give you an address. It's especially useful for those of you who would like your copy of Drink To The Lasses autographed. Wait... you say you don't have a copy yet? What is wrong with you?! Hit the ol' button on the side over there and correct that problem right away, please. For those of you who have already purchased a book, we thank you very much, and remember, it makes a great Christmas gift, so buy more copies to send to friends and family! The autograph is free, but when you send your copy, please, please include return postage.

The address is:

Morning Works Media
c/o Mary Beth Ellis
PO Box 3174
Leesburg, VA 20177

Checks for return postage should be made out to Mary Beth Ellis. PayPal is also available. Stamps included in your package is the preferred method. Thank you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

JTP hits the coffee

I am buried under another eStack, and still feeling a little sick, so for today I've asked JTP to share his recent conversion to coffee drinker status. - MB
---------------------------
Hi, everyone. My name is Josh, and I'm a coffee drinker. Twenty years ago I swore to myself I would never touch the stuff, but now I have a big-boy job with rotating shifts, and I simply can't take the constant switching between day and night shifts without a little help from the bean. I have been chugging energy sodas, but those are getting expensive, and I don't like the thought of what all that carbonation is doing to me.

I've become a regular visitor to the coffepot in the controllers' union break room. I still can't stand the smell or taste of black coffee, so I thoroughly pollute it with creamer and sugar. I basically turn it into sweet ice tea, except it's hot, not cold, and coffee, not tea. I even have my favorite mug, a Jeff Gordon insulated travel cup I got from my parents a little while ago. I had been using it to keep ice tea cold, but now it keeps my coffee warm.

I'm trying to limit myself to one cup a day, usually in the morning to get me going. However, yesterday I had two cups 'cause I was bored at work and needed something to keep from falling asleep. Don't worry, I wasn't controlling airplanes while almost falling asleep. I was bored precisely because I was sitting around not working because there were no senior controllers available to supervise me. That's a whole other story on its own.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Shattered

Many thanks to all for your node-related comments and emails. Life is less swollen today, but hardly more energetic; I was wiped out by a trip to the post office, but that may have more to do with the post office, which unleashes fresh forms of purgatory with each visit, than with any particular life-sapping virus.

I am stunned to have completed Christmas decorating before the fourth week of Advent, and you will be pleased to know that after a move of 500 miles and any number of months in various storage capacities, only one ornament emerged scathed.


The shiny spherical celebration of Notre Dame football. Oh, no, not at all appropriate.

change the date, that's all at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, December 10, 2007

The Season

This is my post today since I am, as SportsCenter would announce, out with a node. But you-- you go get yourself a cookie.

little lump under the covers at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Friday, December 07, 2007

Remember Pearl Harbor

It still matters.

Further In Sickness

I've been curious to see how my body would adapt to its first winter in five years, and this week I got the answer: It will sacrifice the lymph nodes.

Those of you who have read my book (don't tell me if you haven't; I'll just feel rejected and you'll just feel guilty) are aware of my titanic battle with a tonsil abscess. A lymph node infection kind of feels like that, only slightly less like total upper-respiratory Armageddon. On the plus side, according to the medical link up there at the top of the post, swollen lymph nodes can also indicate genital herpes and the plague, so I've got that going for me. For the time I am content to have nearly passed out in the emergency clinic after a blood draw, although it involved hanging up on Josh The Pilot with the announcement, "I need to go now. I'm fainting."

So my most excellent husband magnanimously offered to stay home from work and care for me, which so far has involved laying next to me while eating a Rice Krispie treat, and also trekking to the grocery for chicken noodle soup, which I asked for due to the fact that it requires a great deal of courage to swallow at the moment.

Josh The Pilot returned much flummoxed, declaring that he was not aware soup was so complicated, and handed me a can of Campell's Chunky Homestyle, which is precisely what a person who cannot swallow pines for-- large bits of carrots and chicken. So as I type this, he is manually de-chunking the soup, which, while tedious, is probably far preferable to dealing with my last major illness, the Dreaded Both-Ends NoroVirus. I am sure my sister's duck-shaped bathmat agrees.

Mary Beth Ellis and the Nodes of Lymph at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"Boring Conversation Anyway."

We have achieved the perfect geek storm for Christmas: The next Rifftrax will be The Star Wars Holiday Special.

This steaming pile aired when I was all of a year old, so I don't remember much of it except for all the weeping and rioting that followed. But I have seen it, thanks to eBay, and now it shall be tied to MSTiedom, forever. The Internet: The gift that just won't stop regurgitating the worst possible crap our society can create.

No, The Holiday Special is not commercially available, and blessedly so. It's perhaps the only Star Wars-related product George Lucas hasn't released, possibly only because the residual traces from the enormous amounts of cocaine that clearly powered this thing could be classified as a WMD. How bad is it? Even Lucas-- even Lucas, the man who served you "I hate sand" on a platter of CGI platinum-- once admitted, "That's one of those things that happened, and I just have to live with it." To my knowledge, there's no mention of it on the official Star Wars website, and, as we all know, if George doesn't like something, it never existed to begin with.

Well, George, you can't CGI-purge and redub a bootleg. The special introduces us to Chewbacca's family, which, if I recall correctly, involves Chewy's son, Lumpy, and his father, Itchy, because apparently Wookies only name their children after current skin conditions and cookie descriptors.

I can't wait.

now knowing what to get a Wookie for Christmas when he already owns a comb at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Man's Work

Upon viewing Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer as a married thirty-year-old lady, one notices stuff that one did not notice the first twenty-nine times around. Rudoph and Pac-Man were my first true loves (dissect and shudder over that as you will) but, having moved on to 1) human beings 2) who actually exist, I am now able to watch Rudolph as a fully actualized person might.

I said might.

The Rudolph Realizations

1) Donner: Not A Reindeer I'd Necessarily Hang Out With, But I Sort Of Get Him Now

I'm surprised CBS still shows this thing unedited, given its outstanding contribution to gender equality issues. Which makes it, somehow, wonderfully refreshing. Every time Donner says "No! This is man's work!" as he stomps out of the cave, I shake my head over the fact that he still has a job when he comes back. You try that today, you'll have a picket line the size of China by noon and every blogger in America tip-tapping furiously away: "I must admit I was shocked today when Drudge reported Mr. Donner's comments. Here's the link. This is unacceptable, and I..."

But I can see, psychologically, where he's coming from. Given the fact that Santa Claus completely emasculated him about ten minutes prior by being all, "Donner! You should be ashamed of yourself! Your sperm produced a mutant! YOU AND YOUR SPERM SUCK, ALL OF YOU!" in front of everybody, he needed to reclaim his reindeer sack, his very manhood. Therefore, he lashes out at the Missus in a self-defensive patriarchal manner. You see, folks, all negative behavior stems from pain, and so I ask you, on behalf of Donner-- don't hate. Appreciate.

2) The People of Christmas Town Were Really Kind of Emotionally Stunted

It is no wonder that Donner has trouble expressing himself in a more constructive manner; poor communication has been modeled for him his entire life. He and his wife are so shut-down they just kind of stand around cowering while the Abominable Snow Monster prepares to eat their son. People, I once saw Jim The Small Child Nephew go careening down a driveway in the direction of street traffic at approximately 400 MPH in a wagon, and I, quite the least athletically talented person I have ever met, hurled aside a wine cart and covered about ten yards in .00000000001 seconds to catch him before he hit the curb. And that's just aunt instinct. You're telling me proper parents wouldn't be butting the living crap out of that thing?

We've been over Donner's issues; what concerns me here is his wife, whom, you'll notice, does not have a name of her own. She exists merely as "Mrs. Donner," as an extension of her husband. Her non-personage (non-deerage, if you will) expresses itself in her perceived inability to help her child.

That, or she's just a raging *&^#%.

Finally, consider the following narration from Sam the Snowman:

"Well, they are all very sad at the loss of their friend, but they realize that the best thing to do is to get the women back to Christmas Town. So, they make it back."

There--sexism, an improperly completed grieving process, and a raw violation of the show-don't-tell rule of storytelling, all in two sentences. If they can't talk to us, how can we expect them to talk to each other?

3) Clarice Is a Big Ol' Slut

Really, now. She just met Rudolph, and then she lets him walk her home, and before they've taken two steps? Full body contact. Then, at the end of the film, while everybody else is working, she's standing around under the mistletoe like the little harlot she is. This is not seemly, Clarice.

And I really don't think she cares all that much about Rudolph anyway. The Abominable Snow Monster is looming over him, and what does she say? Not "NOOOOO!" Not "Fry me up instead!" You know what she says? "Why doesn't he just get it over with?"

Most supportive, and also helpful. Shut up, Clarice. You and your bow, you shut it. This particular Christmas special has been decried as sexist, but when we have ho-bags the likes of Clarice sashaying about, it's no wonder. She's filling exactly the role the men surrounding her expect her to, and her ten-foot eyelashes must be saved by Yukon Cornelius and a non-licensed dentist.

4) On The Other Hand, The Female Elves Were Really Quite Liberated

Don't let the pink hats fool y'all. They sang with them male elves, and, I am told on very good authority, also played instruments, which indicates a healthy development in the arts. At the end of the story, they are shown carrying and pushing presents to the sleigh, just like their male counterparts.

They also wear very sensible shoes.

5) This Movie Is Kind of Deep, Actually

Setting aside the massive dysfunctional issues present at the North Pole, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer offers up life lessons not normally found in a seasonal film. We learn, for example, that life sucks. We are reminded that we cannot run away from rejection and the failure to find self-fulfillment. Instead, what we need to do is have angry outbursts that almost get us and everyone around us killed, and then, once our former detractors discover a use for us, then we will be accepted.

As a chronic misfit myself, this is what first resonated with me in Rudolph. Do not be swayed by the Christmas decoration-eating squirrels; there is subtlety in this film. Watch, for instance, the pond Rudolph and Hermey ford during "We're a Couple of Misfits"; at the very end, a goldfish pops his head above the surface and gives 'em the fishe... never mind, I shall not allow myself to go there. The point is, during this simple song about misfits, we're slyly shown, quite literally, a fish out of water.

(Actually, that's not so much a truly deep thing as much as I'm really, really proud of myself for noticing that. After a mere 30 viewings.)

6) Those Are Some Pretty Pissed-Off Elves Santa's Got Working For Him

In the scene in which Hermey admits he doesn't like to make toys (very self-actualized, Hermey was) all the other elves have these beetled eyebrows, even before he makes his Shocking! Confession!. None of them look happy, and methinks their shame on yous doth protest a bit too much.

I can feel that. There is zero room for self-expression in Christmas Town if you're an elf; you will wear this pointy hat, and you will like it. And those who might change the system from within simply shrug their shoulders at their plight; when we return from that scene, Sam is all, "Oh, well. Such is the life of an elf." Whatever. You get to have the wild plaid vest and the very expressive umbrella, so step off, Snow#@*. You're The Man every bit as much as Claus here.

Much has been made of Santa's incredible sense of entitlement in this film, and as we can see, the North Pole is very much a top-down operation, with counterproductive attitudes flowing right from the boot of St. Nick. I suggest a corporate retreat, or, at the very least, Hawaiian Shirt Day at the Pole.

7) Dolls With Mental Health Issues Are People Too

On the Island of Misfit Toys, every inhabitant features some sort of fearsome deformity, including a bear who not only has peacock feathers, but a bicycle. That's some serious LSD toymaking, right there.

You've wondered about the dolly, right? What was wrong with the doll in the red checkered dress? The one who can even can even say "How do you do?" Perhaps that was the problem. Perhaps she had some sort of STD. She and Clarice could go barhopping, flashing their non-pantied selves at the paparazzi.

But I checked, and you know what the problem is? She was depressed.

I would not kid about something as serious as chronically depressed doll. From Rick Goldschmidt's The Enchanted World of Rankin-Bass:

"Arthur Rankin says that Dolly's problem is more psychological... Dolly is perhaps there because she feels she is unloved (as King Moonracer explains about misfits) and perhaps the little girl who once played with her is now grown up and Dolly now sits in a box, unwanted, waiting to be loved by another little girl again."

This is huge. This was enormous, for 1964. Even Toy Story, in all its incarnations, doesn't feature a mentally unbalanced toy. For a special often derided for its heavy focus on rejection, behold! Prozac Nation is represented.

8) Yukon Cornelius: Red-Stater

Yukon is on his way to obtain, quote, "cornmeal and hamhocks and gunpowder and guitar strings." Fatty foods, capitalism, willing to bust up ANWR in exchange for a form of transportation, access to firearms, and country music: Yukon would not much care for federal health insurance, I'm thinking.

9) The Character Who Seems To Require The Least Amount of Changing and Learning Actually Changes and Learns the Most

That would be our hero, and that's some pretty bold film making.

Rudolph was the only one who showed any character development whatsoever. Him, and the Abominable Snow Monster-- and the former only did any changing because he couldn't find anyone to hire his hairy self.

Upon reviewing the tape, Rudolph was, in his youth, really a whiny little *&^%#. He was the Luke Skywalker of reindeer. ("What do we do now?" "It's my nose! It's ruined us!" Dude-- maintain.) As he sailed away from us on his ice floe, he was a naive and innocent little buck, with no idea what a dentist was and blissfully in the dark about Yukon's eeeevil mine plotting; his only concept of silver and gold is their function as "tinsel." Rudolph has some thinking to do.

When we see Rudolph again, fully antlered, he's done that thinking. He stands up for himself now, and even though he's clearly the victim here with all sorts of filable lawsuits, he attempts to protect those who have hurt him, and, as we all know, pulls Santa's judgmental *&# right out of the fire.

Okay. I'm done inhaling writing now.

and they told me I'd never use that English degree at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, December 03, 2007

Whirling Cows

Dear People Responsible For Desperate Housewives:

Many congratulations on your creation of the World's Least Realistic Tornado. I would love to know what sort of otherworldly weather dome hovers over Wisteria Lane, such that people in the path of a tornado have an entire day's warning in the form of a wind machine slowly ramping up over a 24-hour period from "suspiciously breezy day" to "WHAT?! WHAAAAAAAAAAT?! I CAN'T HEAR YOU REDUBBING YOUR LINES OVER THE WIND MACHINE!!"

And then when the funnel actually arrived, it was so good as to do so the guise of a hurricane. Everybody was wandering around taping windows, people. There was a little kid selling bottled water at gouge prices door to door. If some little kid back in my 'hood (shoutout to the General Custer's Last Ice Cream Stand, yo!) tried gouging people in the middle of a tornado warning, you know what would happen? That is correct: Nothing. Because everybody would be in the *#&$% basement. You don't have time to sell bottled water in an actual tornado. You might create some water, but you don't buy any.

Are none of the writers or producers from the Midwest? Have they never spent, like, four seconds in front of You're Going To Die Any Second Now on the Weather Channel? All they had to do was screen the first twenty minutes of that meteorological poop for one Midwesterner, and that Midwesterner, after he stopped laughing, would have gently informed the big famous important Hollywood people that when there is a tornado watch, most towns forgo setting up a public shelter.

Once the storm actually showed up, it was a particularly efficient tornado. Let us have a casualty roundup:

-Victor (killed by fisty, fisty irony)
-A fugly lawn fountain (killed by the forces of good taste; the tornado was not only efficient, it was fabulous)
-Some woman some guy slept with some time (sucked right out of a doorway)
-One car (dropped upside down in the middle of a street as Victor and Carlos stood fully upright nearby, hair slightly tousled)
-Possibly Carlos (taken out by the fountain)
-Possibly one cat (because only the smartest, bestest cats run towards the danger)
-Possibly Lynette's entire family (buried under a neighbor's house, which would at least solve her childcare problems)

Not that I don't allow room for suspension of disbelief, but when that disbelief is supposed to be suspended for twenty minutes while the people who see the funnel cloud bearing down on the cul-de-sac run outside for a nice gun battle? Noooooooot so much.

supercell at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hi, God!

When I was a little girl in Catholic grade school, I received not catechism classes but the choreography to "If I Were a Butterfly (I'd Thank You, Lord, For Giving Me Wings)" from a record album entitled Hi God!

It's another piece of the puzzle, isn't it?

That link, incidentally, includes a brief audio sample of said butterfly ruminations, but it doesn't do justice to the hand motions, which, just as Christ instructed the Apostles, we were required to master before approaching the altar at our First Communion. This, however, comes close to replicating what I might have looked like on a riser some twenty-four years ago. They aren't exactly the same jazz hands as the ones I learned; it seems, like all great mythological traditions, the original form becomes corrupted over time. I also don't quite remember the highly liturgical Elvis-style "uh-huh-huh"s at the end of each verse, but perhaps advancing age protects us from such things.

But wait! There was also "His Banner Over Me Is Love", and I'm pleased to report that this choreography has sustained for at least two and a half decades. So Western civilization has that going for it.

In the act of viewing these videos, it has occurred to me that this is likely how I will view Jim The Small Child Nephew's First Communion in about three years: Not at all. There is no way that decidedly untall me has any chance of seeing the child betwixt the advancing forest of raised digital and Flip cameras of every classmate relative within a forty-state radius.

But in the same way, I rest comfortably in the knowledge that there is likely no surviving footage of second-grade me flapping her arms while pronouncing that if she were a robin, she'd thank You, Lord, for making her sing--nobody could afford a whole entire video camera, and the people who could were doomed to view the major moments of their children's lives with an eight hundred pound VHS shoulder outgrowth. All to preserve, for all time... Hi God!

I have also discovered that while the errors of Hi God! had spread to Hi God! 3 by the time I began high school, we are now up to Hi God! 5--and in CD form. Featured song: "Yes We Can!"


...no we can't at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Around The Horn With Mom

For someone who talks a big Rosary Ranger game, it's difficult for me to actually pray the thing on my own. Put a Rosary in my hands and the attention span shortens to that of a flea that just fell into one of those person-sized Pixy Stix. It's one of maybe two activities I'm actually better at in a group setting; somebody else has to count, others are there to keep things moving, the guy next to me isn't going to let me wander out of the room, suddenly called by cookies.

The Rosary is quite nightmare exercise for the OCD patient: Did I say that "Hail Mary" right? What if I didn't? Should I go back and do it again? Decades can seem to take, quite literally, decades.

To address the issue, I tracked myself with a CD from the Notre Dame Bookstore, Praying the Rosary With Father Theodore Hesburgh. Ted was lost in my move from The Northern Swamp to The Very Northern Swamp. He's spinning somewhere over one of the Carolinas.

It's interesting, especially given my past with the Internet, that the answer would be found right here. As in, here-- VirtualRosary.org. It's a freeware program which includes bead count, prayers, decades, corresponding Scripture quotes, and a little Ave Maria MIDI flava thrown in. (Which is, wisely, entirely toggleable.)

Now it's not just me and Mary and my little crystal circuits. It's circuits of another kind, because this involves my computer, the very conduit of my career--and Virtual Rosary, in the oddest of ways, serves to sactify my little laptop in a "You click to your Mother with that keyboard?" sort of fashion.

In the true tradition of the Internet, Virtual Rosary enables me to pray alone without praying alone; PrayerCast (also with Full Toggle Power) slowly scrolls across the bottom of the screen, uniting my intentions with this poor mother in Texas who's always asking St. Monica to help her son find friends who aren't quite so pre-Bengal.

In the event you're not the Rosarying kind--although I highly recommend it, I just wish I could get through five decades without once thinking over-fondly of frosting--all are welcome on PrayerCast. Go ahead! Cast a Prayer! All the un pre-Bengaled kids are doing it!

gratia plenas for everybody: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It All Makes Sense Now

Most of you have probably seen that most requested of holiday gifts, the highly disturbing Jesus Is My Coach line of figurines. We Catholics have had a bead on this SportsCenter For Youth Jesus for at least two Popes now; I owned, in my youth, a muted pastel picture of the Messiah joyfully elbowing a second-grader out of way to get to a soccer ball. While wearing His sandals. Because He's the Son of God, and was likely never picked last when it came time to choose up teams: "I'll take Ezra, Bartholomew, Silas--oh, and the guy who can bilocate."

I'm pleased to announce the origin of Christ The Cross-Trainer:

This is an actual sign located in an actual church rec hall, and explains many, many things while raising certain other, far more disturbing questions. If leather soles aren't allowed, then I'm pretty sure Jesus and His sandals can't play, and I don't think He'd like that. But at least the faithful rests assured in the knowledge that He would never "kick balls over head."

In my parochial grade school, the principal once solemnly informed us via purple mimeographed letter and loudspeaker announcement that we were not permitted to "play throw up," with or without--again, directly quoting here--"the Nerd balls." You have to wonder how we all graduated with the athletic prowess to stride correctly through your average revolving door.

Then again, this could very well explain Notre Dame's season. Those non-throwing up kids left their Nerd balls at home for eight solid years, and now they can't block for shinola.

but the utter inability to serve a volleyball, I take total personal responsibility for that at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Are You DOING?!

Two things.

THING THE FIRST: The Cellar looks different, I know. Many have written in support of that spiffy new-old banner up there, created last year by Red Pill Junkie The Reader. (As if I could do anything remotely so competent.) For some reason just about everyone seems to prefer this banner to the one which was there before, which, as one The Reader indicated, closely resembled carbonated pee.

Mike The Longtime Reader and Amy The Reader tried their durndest, complete with attached jpgs and solar flares and very small words, to help me center the new banner. Alas, my blondeness persists, and the only way to make the banner nice and centery was to change the layout. I'm sorry. Please do try to carry on.

THING THE SECOND: If you haven't checked the Appearances and Events page recently over at DttL.com, you might wanna. I will be Appearing at several Events over the next few months, including a wine tasting this Friday, November 30, at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Potomac Falls, VA. Because if there is one thing we Catholics know besides beer, running hospitals, guilt, incense, fish fries, bingo, pointy hats, and making craft projects out of little scraps of construction paper, it is wine. If you can make it, please RSVP to media@drinktothelasses.com. BONUS: Josh The Pilot and his wedding ring will be there.

Also, I lied. There is a THING THE THIRD. It would have been cooler to roll this out on Cyber Monday, but I felt it was more important to stay up until two in the morning fretting over robot urination. You see that little item over to the right? No, not what was left of your human dignity before The Bachelor finale--my Amazon Associate link. That is correct: Four years after the rest of the world hopped on board the Associates program, I grab hold of the dangerously tipping sideboard. While Drink to the Lasses is still available directly from the publisher, if you choose to raft the Amazon, kindly use my skiff. Even if you're not ordering DttL (because you already have so very many copies in your possession, I'm assuming), I'd appreciate it if you'd click on that little thingy-thing there before you slap down that credit card... number. (Buying just ain't what it used to be. Remember all those outstanding "shop until the card is smooth" references? What can we say now? "I shopped until the sever timed out and my rolly chair rollers were all imprinted in the carpet! YEAH!" It's... just not the same.)

The reason why I implore this of you is that it will enable me collect a commission at absolutely no additional cost to you, and now that I've ripped away the day job net and all, my new husband I are in search of scraped-together income at every turn. For the baby, you know. (Not our baby. But somewhere, perhaps in your very own home, there's a baby, and that baby wants you to give me money.) This Amazons Associate system really works, so I'm told; once, somebody on Friendboy Andy's page clicked on his link, and browsed around for a while, then bought a ridiculously expensive digital camera, which meant that Andy got enough commission to buy, like, a whole entire candy factory. So: For me, for the baby, for the candy factory... use the banner, if you please. Many thanks.

yes I know, the most important things in life aren't things at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, November 26, 2007

Where Do We Go Now, Sweet Child O' Mine?

I saw Transfomers recently under Rifftrax duress, and we must agree that it takes some tryin' to make a movie about cars which fold into robots boring and lame. And yet.... Transformers.

I must say I didn't have a great deal invested in the travails of Prime Number and his nemesis MegaDeath, or whatever, as Transformers in its Saturday morning cartoon form was a boy show and therefore uninteresting. All I knew about it was that there was more to them, apparently, than met the eye. Move over, folding and unfolding robots, I want my high-class entertainment in the form of singing chipmunks!

But even I was highly disturbed when, a third of the way through the movie, one of the Transformers--one of the good Transformers, whom we were supposed to root for-- started peeing on a human character. I repeat: THE TRANSFORMER PEED ON SOMEBODY.

It is no longer Morning in America. Retailers realize this, and have been shoving the childhoods of Generation X back at us in hideously repackaged form for some time now, although if I have anything to say about it, Jim The Small Child Nephew and Will The Baby Nephew will never know that Cabbage Patch Kids glow in the dark.

Of course, the rampage doesn't end at the Patch.

This is Minty, everybody-- a My Little Pony circa 1983. She was one of six pastel Ponies. You can respect this Pony, as much as a person can respect a bile-green horse who looks as if she just staggered out of a campus bar in the very early hours of March the eighteenth.

But look what they've done to my herd:

Wha' happen'? Has there been some sort of natural disaster which forced the species to adapt to the color scheme of just-vomited rainbow sherbet? Back in the day, I had a couple My Little Pegasus ponies with screaming-yellow fluorescent hair, and they were way more calming than this Crayola explosion.

Then there's Strawberry Shortcake:

This was the doll I played with, complete with her chokable comb and impetigo-infected cat. I forget the cat's name. The cat is not important. What is important is that an entire generation of girls grew up surrounded by the soft, fake odor of strawberries, and accepted large, pink hats with green striped pantyhose as a laudable fashion statement. She was fully herself, Strawberry was, what with her flat feet and her extreme lack of boobage, and God bless her. She was the anti-Barbie. You could feel good around The Shortcake, because whatever the state of the Pac-Man tshirt you were wearing, you were going to look better than she did.

Strawberry Shortcake, post-New World Order:

What th-- Girlfriend is wearing PANTS. Did she have a Special Experience at summer camp? I mean, notthatthere'sanythingwrongwiththat, but when somebody says, "Meet Strawberry Shortcake!" you are not going to picture a person who looks like she just rolled out of Lilith Fair.

Oh, but you haven't seen what they've done to Holly Hobbie yet. She was a woman of mystery, the original Holly, whose eponymous hobby essentially consisted of hiding from the world beneath The Bonnet That Consumed Schenectady:


I don't know what it was with us Daughters of the '80s and our preoccupation with enormous hats. Perhaps we believed if the Russians couldn't find us, they couldn't launch their missiles and make us stand in lines to buy bread.

Well, nowadays the Russians aren't even fun to play hockey against anymore:

Holly. Put down the macramé and step away from Carrie Bradshaw's stupid newsboy cap. Find some gingham and get back on my lunchbox where you belong.

But the biggest disappointment is the reincarnation of Toss Across:

Toss Across was bascially person-sized tic-tac-toe with beanbags and three-sided plastic blocks on a huge frame. I have many fond memories of standing in the basement across from Julie The NephewsMama, perfecting my inability to hit anything, including her.

So you can imagine my shrieking when I ran across Toss Across in a toy aisle, only the happy shriek trailed off horribly: "TOSS AC--why is it really small?"


This is the approximate actual size of the current Toss Across. It's, like, Smurfified. And neon. You'd think such an obvious chroma-shoutout to the Reagan era would make me happy, but no-- I just feel sad, and kind of calcium-deficient. Man, it just makes me want to pee on a Transformer.

don't even get me started on the Care Bears at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nobody Panic, Part II

There's a new title... thing up there, and I know this is all very frightening, but if we pull together, we can get through it.

And if you can tell me how to scootch it over to the
middle of the page, that would be just outstanding. Scootching is far beyond my poor blog-tampering skeelz.

needing to lie down at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I've (Still) Got Plenty to be Thankful For

Even more, actually.















what a difference a year makes at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"A Dozen Orchids, Loose, Looking Like They Don't Care."

We have now reached the Holiday Inn Tipping Point, which is the release of a special edition featuring a commentary, which means I had to buy it. For those of you who think that Christmas movies featuring Bing Crosby and horrendously uncomfortable minstrel numbers begins and ends with White Christmas, meet Holiday Inn.

Holiday Inn is the film which debuted "White Christmas" (see how this works?) and is also one of only two films which stars both Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. There's a number at the top of the movie which supposedly mocks Bing's inability to dance and Fred's weak singing, but really, this scene makes me bury my head in my hands in generational humiliation, for while Bing was no Astaire (and who was?) he could certainly not-suck his way across a dance floor. As to Fred's singing, yep, the voice a little thin, especially contrasted against Bing's, but it was precisely eleventy billion times more palatable that Paula Abdul's. His phrasing was sublime. Say what you will about Fred; he never inadvertently spawned what was recently dubbed Least Essential Album of the Millennium. I would stack Bing's dancing and Fred's singing up against any half-clad, lip-synching pop blight a future episode of I Love The '00's can trot out.

Movies the likes of Holiday Inn kindle in me nostalgia for an era that ended several decades before I was even thought of, when people celebrated Presidents Lincoln and Washington separately and, apparently, by dining out. It's a Grandpa movie, which means no one is ever pregnant, and there are many gowns. I watched this one at least several times with my own grandfather, who at the time was in his thirty-fourth year of boycotting Sinatra movies ever since Frank divorced Nancy. "This is when they both make like they're big shots," he'd explain as Bing and Marjoire Reynolds sat black-and-whitely at a nightclub table. (It was also Grandpa's job to cue the fire in Going My Way, and I've been mired in many a plothole without him.)

As to the commentary itself, it doesn't touch the gold-thread-on-the-waistcoat standard that was 1776's, but is satisfying enough. We learn, for example, that "White Christmas" was originally intended for Reynolds' character, and that Fred Astaire actually was reeling drunk during the New Year's Eve dance number. The historian doling out the commentary explains all this in a highly credible small-to-medium British accent, and, just after going into great and serious social detail about the history of minstrel shows, he takes on the scene in which Reynolds sabotages Virginia Dale:

VIRGINIA DALE: (rather bitchy remark)

COMMENTATOR: That rather bitchy remark now leads us to double-cross number two.

Hey! Call the kids and heat up so cocoa for all kinds of rather bitchy remarks, not to mention sets of sets, the line "Hit your snow!", and Bing in a straw hat smacking a pig on the rear end.

I miss the '40's.

born in '77 at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Welcome (Still Other, Reality Show-Watching) MSNBC.com Readers

You have arrived at the most dramatic website ever.

Remember this? Well, it all came down, horribly, to this.

having strong feelings for you at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

Welcome MSNBC.com Readers

Our princes have come.

P.S. Yes, I know that Prince Humperdink was not the character in question to have six fingers. It was actually Fred Savage.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

In the Dark With Nuxie

I heard the news while I was, ironically, driving away from the first home I ever knew: Joe Nuxhall was dead. I had to explain who he was to Josh The Pilot, who is from a different home.

He'd been broadcasting almost as long as I've been alive, which meant that for a fourth-grader who dreaded nothing more than the next morning at school, his gravelly voice was a friend in the dark hours when I was too lonely to sleep, especially after my sister moved all the way across the hall. Night games on the West Coast were most welcome; that way, he was sure to be there as I fell asleep at eleven-thirty, midnight, one AM.

When he first played the game, he was famous for being young-- he pitched for the Reds at the age of 15, and since then, every single player who takes the field in the major leagues has had at least a little more life experience. By the time he retired three years ago, he was mostly famous for being old. He'd stayed with the organization so long, through three stadiums and who knows how much bullpen trouble, that an entire generation couldn't conceive of baseball in Cincinnati without him.

Most comforting about Joe's life is that we feted him while he was alive; built him a statue, shook his hand at Bob Evan's, quoted his signoff line in great red letters on our new stadium and turned down the screaming modern klieg lights for a few nights to allow his words to quietly shadow the evening hours. He died knowing he'll live on.

"This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home."

It's easy to roll our eyes at baseball these days--the overblown contracts, the marketing, the asterisks. And like the game here in the twenty-first century, Nuxhall was a stumbler. His vocabulary was limited and at the end the calls and strikes whistled through his dentures, but he was friendly and he was familiar and he was ours. And we'll miss him.

just up to bat at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Spokesmodel Competition: One Out of Five Stars

Today I was attempting to film a product demo for a client, and went the usual distance before mucking the entire enterprise. I wouldn't doubt it if stocks drop immediately.

video

tadah at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Welcome MSNBC Readers... and MSTies

Ah, The Nelson has spoken.

For those of you interested in the pre-edited article that was originally submitted and which actually contains adjectives, along with a full transcript of this, look at that.

pushing the button at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Line One

Jim The Small Child Nephew is beginning to conduct coherent phone conversations, although not necessarily in the same call. Often he will bring items to the phone he has made in preschool so that I can see them, which means that he's fully inherited my critical thinking skills.

Should you wish to listen in:

CALL THE FIRST
Julie The Nephews Mama: Do you want to talk to Aunt Beth?

Jim The Small Child Nephew: No.

Julie: All right. So anyway--

Jim: I WANNA TALK!

Me: Hello?

Jim: Hi Beeeeth!

Me: Hello, Jim!

Jim: You're at your house?

Me: Yes.

Jim: You're in Ginger?

Me: That's right. I'm in Virginia.

Jim: I'm at my house! I--

(phone goes dead)

(This was his cue to turn to his mother and announce in utter amazement, "Beth gone!")

CALL THE SECOND
Me: Hello?

Jim: I WANNA TALK TO--

(phone goes dead)

CALL THE THIRD
Me: Hello?

Jim: What happened?

Me: You hung up on your godmother, and Jesus doesn't love you anymore.

(phone goes dead)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

For Veteran's Day

Thanks to Dad, and Dan The Brother-In-Law, and Country The Brother-In-Law, and everyone else's service academies who beat Notre Dame for the first time since there was a world war on and all anybody could recruit for the football teams were, like, ficus trees.

A return to Normandy. Because we need it.

not going to the Macy's sale at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

Saturday, November 10, 2007

"Hi, this is Mike."

For the second time, an Object de Dorkiness is manifesting as a career rung. Behold the power of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and its fame spawn, Michael J. Nelson.

The Nelson cemented himself in my heart the night a friend and I drank an entire six-pack of cider, immediately followed by several white Russians. Mixing + beer before liquoring= several hours of praying for death.

But while we lay on the floor in agony, a tape of several MST3K episodes unspooled over our heads, and as I examined the carpet fibers, Nelson's voice was the one thread that kept me clinging to life. "As long as the man standing between the two plastic robots keeps talking," I said to the millions of air molecules then slamming against my forehead, "everything's gonna be allllll right."

In gratitude, I career-trailed after Nelson once Mystery Science Theater 3000 was canceled, sometimes quietly, sometimes not so quietly. He has since started Rifftrax, in which he creates downloadable movie commentaries, and in this past week, well, some complex issues arose within the MST3K community.

Speaking for the rest of you, when I announced this to Josh The Pilot, his response was to laugh very, very hard: "How can there be complex issues related to Mystery Science Theater 3000? Is one of the robots under indictment for steroid use?" Well. This is how: The cast has fractured into three separate gloriously capitalistic camps. One of the show's creators, Joel Hodgson, has been invited to perform at a Lucasfilm Christmas party (which, given this, I probably won't be doing any time soon), and he'll have a product unveiling just before the holidays. Some of the former writers and performers are sliding back and forth between the two, but... yeah. Separate entities. Very separate from Rifftrax.

My initial instinct was, of course: "To the Dorkmobile!" In this case, my laptop. But as we've seen, for some reason I'm now in a position to whine to several thousand people at once about all things dork, rather than five other people also typing from their parents' basements. I asked MNSBC if an article might be possible.

"Can you get an interview with one of the cast members?" the editor said.

"Oh, absolutely. And can you send me a transexual teal-blue unicorn that speaks Mandarin?"

But I gave it a shot anyway, via Rifftrax, and after passing the gates of two of Mike's People (Mike has People; I have five-week-old bread on the counter) I was granted a fifteen minute telephone audience with The Nelson.

This created, as previously mentioned, a great deal of running about in small circles while squeeing, although sometimes the circling and squeeing occurred separately. A great, Very Important Day for my career. What should I wear for my phone interview? RenFest gear! Perhaps something with fringe.

As it happened, I honored the occasion by publicly affiliating myself with these people

and failing to observe basic rules of hair maintenance. (This photo was taken just before I dialed into the interview; as we can see, I am displaying, in every aspect, the attributes of a professional journalist who totally knows exactly what she is doing. This is all the more compelling once we recall that I recently pouted, for one thousand words, that I Do SO Have A Real Big-Girl Job.)

The choice of apparel was due to a slightly less pressing problem: I had no way to record the interview. The technology upon which I relied as a college journalist--it involved actual wires, batteries, and this thing called an "audiotape"-- hadn't been used since, oh, before you were born. For over a decade I've been writing primarily as a commentator and a humor columnist, which means that I pretty much pull whatever I write directly out of my crack. Quotes... facts... research... pfffffft. I've got a real smelly car in the driveway!

So that meant an eleventh-hour trip to Radio Shack, at which I sank $50 into a digital phone recorder which, unlike the cutting edge technology I had previously been using, is actually compatible with phone jacks installed post-Industrial Revolution. And located directly next to the digital recorders? The universal automatic garage door remotes, which created in us the realization that it might be nice to not leap over an electronic eye as death rolls towards us on a heavy wheeled door every time we attempt to leave our home. $19.95. I will add it it to The Tab of The Nelson.
The Magic took place in Josh's man cave. And what was wrong with conducting The Magic in my perfectly functional big girl office? Why, because my office is on the third floor, and the phone signal can't reach that far ever since I ripped the kitchen jack out of the wall due to the fact that it was interfering with where I wanted to hang a framed copy of our wedding program, of course. Thumbs up, Master's degree!

For some reason, what freaked me out the most was just the concept of Mike Nelson answering his office phone. He was going to answer the phone when I called him! He would pick it up, and say, "Hi, this is Mike," or "This is The Nelson speaking," or "Q102 FM's my world," and then? We would be in conversation. It was a great and terrifying thing, this marriage of the banal and the hero worship. Because a person's voice can come to you over the TV, through the CD player, and via computer speaker for years and years, but nothing will prepare you for hearing that same person's voice coming out of YOUR PHONE, in YOUR HOUSE, which contains YOUR FIVE-WEEK-OLD BREAD, talking TO YOU. When you're on the phone, most of the time, you say things, and the other person says things back, and then everybody goes back to their respective Doritos, and that's pretty much it. But in this instance, I would say things, and the other person saying things back was MIKE FREAKING NELSON, and that is the makings for some pretty vehement nervous vomiting. And so we've come full circle, Mike and I, spewing to spewing.

I'll post the article link when it's live-- probably early next week, I'm told. Until then, postlude this post all day long:

video

bronzing the phone at: mbe@drinktothelasses.com

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