Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Idol Snark Station: Carol is King

Did you have a Schwinn banana seat bicycle as a kid? The one with the chopper-esque handlebars to which you'd attach, if you were a girl at least, those glittery, multi-colored plastic streamers that would look so cool whenever you sped down a particularly steep hill or the wind was blowing especially hard?

I did. And for the few years of my little kid youth that we spent living in an actual city, I was permanently attached to the thing. Mainly because during the summer my mother forbid us to spend any time inside. We got up, washed, ate breakfast, and our butts were summarily tossed outside until noon, when we were expected to show back up on our front porch, peering through the screen door until our mothers appeared to hand us sandwiches and something cold to drink. The only way we were actually allowed back inside is if we had a medical emergency (bloody nose: not an emergency, hold your head up and wash at the hose outside; broken limb or cracked head: emergency) or it was dinnertime. After which, we were expected to roam around back outside until dark, when mothers' voices across the neighborhood would ring out, calling their children home like errant puppy dogs.

Can you imagine? Parents treating their children like this today? Can you imagine the adventures those children would have, the skills they'd pick up, the things they'd see and do? The freedom of life on the road, afforded by a $25 bike with a ridiculous seat and cramp-inducing handlebars? I loved it.

But what of our mothers? The thousands of suburban housewives who populated our block? What did they do, once their husbands went off to jobs or school and they had abandoned their cubs to the urban veldt, their days a slow unfurling of dishes and laundry and soap operas and grocery shopping and preparing for their husbands' return?

I got a glimpse into this rarefied world only once. It was a muggy summer day in the early 1970s, Eugene, Oregon, coming on mid afternoon, the streets still steaming from a morning rain shower, worms still wiggling in puddles, the smell of exhaust fumes and mold and green grass a pungent cocktail of scent hanging in the air. I was hot and thirsty and wanted a glass of lemonade, not a blast of metallic-tasting water from a hose. So I headed home on my trusty Schwinn to see if I could convince my mother to let me inside our kitchen, but as I walked up the front porch, music stopped me from opening the screen door.

Inside, my mother, clad in a Pucci-esque caftan, her hair piled loosely on top of her head, barefooted, dancing softly to Carol King's "I Feel the Earth Move," her gold hoop earrings bumping against her neck, eyes closed, arms swaying above her head.

For many years whenever I'd hear that song, I'd think of my mother, but it wasn't until I was much older that it occurred to me to wonder if she had actually been happy in her role as housewife extraordinaire. Was that the life she imagined for herself when, as a young girl barely out of her teens, she put an entire ocean between herself, her family, and everything she knew to strike out on her own in the USA? Did she find that freedom or did she find only drudgery?

Of course, my mother did more than cook, clean, and wipe our noses. She had book club meet ups with the neighbors, participated in the community garden, took cooking classes, threw parties, collected antiques, and went out on the town with my father every now and then. And later, much later, she would get a job and her GED, go to school for her bachelor's and then her master's and then teach. Proof that you could reinvent yourself at any time in your life. That you could say, "This is not enough. I want more."

And ever since, Carol King has always sounded just a little bit like freedom to me.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lost in Technology

So, for my birthday yesterday, my beloved husband, the man who looks askew at all things Macintosh, who never fails to make at least one snarky comment about Apple upon entering my office, put aside all those feelings to bestow upon me my very first iPhone.

If that isn't love, then I don't know what is. Because this thing? It's better than Chanel, better even than Louboutins, because, well, it has an app for both.

And also for Angry Birds, which I'm now totally obsessed with. So much so, that after dinner last night, as I tucked into the latest episode of Red Eye, thinking I'd play while watching, I completely missed my new Fourth Husband, Andy Levy, announce that he's supporting Gary Johnson in the Republitard primaries. Don't get me wrong, I love Andy Levy. But I love Angry Birds better.

Now excuse me while I figure out how to bust through Level 3. But I'll be back tomorrow to announce the topic and prize for the next Haiku Monday, although xl, Aunty, or Troll, can one of you please host because I'll be on da road this weekend.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Haiku Mondays: Chicken

Faithful feathered friend—
chopped, plucked, garlic-stuffed. Sunday's
sacrificial lamb.

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Our Chicken Hypnotizer Extraordinaire, Chickory, is hosting Haiku Monday today at her blog today. Check it out. Fun most fowl. And a prize most awesome.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bunny Hop

Happy Easter, everyone!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

American Idol Snark Station: 21st Century

Three chords in your pocket tonight
Are you, you the one

With the spark to bring my punk rock back?

— Courtney Love

Not that I ever took this show all that seriously, but for some reason, I'm in a cynical mood tonight and barely struggled to get through it. My snark, Party People, it has left me for the tennis instructor next door. Or maybe Adam Levine returned its calls. Regardless, I'm feeling encrusted by ennui. Flattened by fatigue. Dampened by the doldrums. And wondering why rock does, indeed, seem to be dead.

Still, a few observations.

Scotty: "Swingin'"
I'm sure the reason why teenage girls all over America could care less that Scotty looks like a cross between Elvis, George Bush, and Alfred E. Newman is because they don't know who Elvis, George Bush, and Alfred E. Newman ARE. I myself am having a bit of a Tom Cruise moment about him. I know, I know, I'm old enough to be his . . . aunt.

James Durbin: "Uprising"
Can we give this kid some botox or something, keep him from squinting? It makes me nervous. That being said, I like Muse, I like this song, and I think he did a first class job of it, in spite of the ridiculous outfit and anthematic posturing.

Hailey: "Rolling in the Deep"
Why sing a song by a singer so distinctive that you have no choice but to either perfectly mimic that singer's unique phrasing or do something totally different? She ended up sounding pretty much like Adele, but so what? Is she going to build a career as an impressionist?

Jacob: "Dance with My Father"
I would sure hate to say something snarky about something this earnest, so I won't. Okay, I will: zzzzzzzzz. Again. Dude . . .

Casey: "Something By Maroon 5" (I dunno, I don't really like Maroon 5, although I know more than a few gals who keep trying to get Adam Levine to return their phone calls. Snappy dresser, that one.)
Anyway. Casey's performance? Best of the night.

Stefano: "Closer"
I suspect that Stefano is the kind of guy that a good friend of mine and I used to call a "cheese machine." The kind of dude who sidles up next to you in a club, slick-haired, Armani-esque, soaked in Davidoff's Cool Water, to look you straight in the eye and deliver straight-faced a stream of patter culled from a combination of Cosmo ads and a Telemundo soap operas. In other words, he doesn't get the chicks.

Lauren: "Some Country-type Song"
I really don't have anything bad to say about this girl. She's like that friend from school you grew up with who always shared her Barbies and made cute little gift boxes for you on your birthday and never once made a pass at your guy. And then one day busted out of her shell and up and grabbed a huge chunk of the spotlight for herself and there was no way you could hate her for it because she's still just so ding dang nice.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hello, Baby

Never, in all my twenty-plus years of watching birds in the wild and in my backyard, have I ever seen an evening Grosbeak. Two weeks ago, while surfing the confines of S.B.'s recliner, half watching Rory Mcilroy fall apart in the final rounds of the Master's, half eyeballing the goings on at Snow White's Freakin' Wilderness Sanctuary, I saw two of them, a large male and his mate, him outfitted in neon yellow, gray and white, she slightly smaller and a tad less colorful. They were only here long enough to have quick sip from the birdbath before flitting away in a flash of color. I didn't even have time to grab my camera.

Moments ago, I saw them again. And again, no time for the camera.

Still, it was a lucky ducky sighting, because these fellas are not only rare, but rapidly declining in numbers. According to a FeederWatch report, their sightings over all have dropped by fifty percent between 1988 and 2006. At sites where they are still reported, average flock size has decreased by 27 percent. No one knows why.

I'm glad I got to see them at least once, make that twice, in my life. Hopefully, more.

Come back, birdies, come back!

If you watch birds, what's the rarest species you've ever seen?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Haiku Mondays: Clothes

Christian Dior ad photographed by Walde Huth

* * *


Tramp stamped and belly
pierced. Sixteen? No, she's forty!
Taste is obsolete.

* * *

The Black Hills During Sturgis

Flashing fetishists
bare skinned but for tats. Yuh-awn.
Dressed is sexiest.

* * *

Our host for this week's contest is the HM originator,
Troll (Don't Be Dissing My Jorts), so head on over to his house
and post your 5-7-5 on the topic of:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

American Idol Snark Station: Movie Music Week

Paul: "Old Time Rock and Roll"
Remember when it was safe to have a movie star crush on Tom Cruise? I do, and it was all Risky Business's fault, too. But now that I know Cruise is at least half out of his mind, yew! I totally gross myself out, knowing I ever fanned myself for even one second over his tightie whitey Bob Seger dance. Ergo, I cannot listen to this song. And I really don't want to listen to it being re-sung by someone who is also bronc busting the front end of his own special short bus to Crazy Town. The suit is tres cool, though.

Lauren: "Hanna Montana Movie Song"
Sweet, sweet girl. Big, big voice. Totally, totally boring song. Although, how nifty was that, Will and Jimmy dissing Miley and Pia on national television? Best moment of the evening.

Stefano: "End of the Road"
"What separates the good ones from the great ones is the performance." So sayeth Stefano about his ability to toss pizza. Wait? What? Oh, sorry, he was talking about his singing. Meh. I guess the best thing I can say about this performance is that it didn't make me want to clamp both my hands over his mouth in a desperate attempt to stop him from breathing.

Scotty: "I Cross My Heart"
I would rather have heard "Everybody's Talkin'" However, this kid's going to get lots and lots of chicks, much in the same way I suspect Dwight Yoakam gets chicks.

Casey: "Moulin Rouge Song"
This kid will also eventually get lots and lots of chicks, much in the same way I suspect Lyle Lovett gets chicks.

Haily: "Call Me"
There was a period in my life when, had a genie popped out of a magic lantern in front of me and granted me three wishes, I would have taken only one: Turn me into Debbie Harry. To me, she was the epitome of rock chick cool, Blondie the epitome of rock band cool, and I utterly worshiped them both. I dyed my hair like Debbi, dressed like Debbie, and even for a while adopted her bizarre, hiccupy New Jersey accent as my preferential way of addressing my parents. Therefore. I will accept no imitations. Especially when they suck as badly as this sucks.

Jacob: "Bridge Over Troubled Water"

James: "Heavy Metal"
I hate Sammy Hagar. I hate his stupid curls and sun burnt beer belly and faux danger boy attitude and crap tequila that makes your head feel like it's been caught in a high school shop class vice the next morning. And I can't begin to tell you how many midnight movie runs of Heavy Metal (okay, three) had to sit through when I wasn't in shop class, or any other class for that matter, because of some boy or another I had for some reason set my sights on, or that my best-friend-forever had set her sights on, because these were boys with cars that actually ran and older brothers who could buy us beer. But, I liked this version. Although, Randy, seriously, Durbin is nowhere near Oz Fest material.

So, that's that, Party People. Another of the most uninspiring and over-praised American Idos in the history of the universe. Now, excuse me while I go watch some real television. If you're not watching Justified, too, you're missing one of the best shows on television.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Movie Clip Wednesdays: Favorite Movie that Takes Place in Outer Space

Well, a portion of it anyway.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Hilariously spoofy fun, with an irresistibly catchy theme song and gloriously whacked out performances, including one by John Lithgow as the evil Dr. Emilio Lizardo, around whom most of the move revolves. What there is of a plot involves Lizardo breaking out of an insane asylum in order to lead a fellow band of marooned (in New Jersey) aliens back to their home of Planet 10. When? Real soon.

Hell bent on stopping them is physicist (and, also, rock musician) Buckaroo Banzai and his band of sidekicks (the Hong Kong Cavaliers), one of whom refuses to ever button his shirt, another is perpetually dressed as a cowboy (Cowboy Curtis anyone?), and another is an emotional mess of a young woman played by Ellen Barkin who nonetheless manages to squint her way into Buckaroo's heart.

The whole thing is very 1980s camp and chock-a-block full of the kinds of one-liners that immediately get folded into one's everyday vernacular. To this day, I still use the line, "Laugh while you can, monkey boy." but only occasionally remember why.

If you want to play today or every Wednesday, simply post a 3 or so minute clip of your favorite movie that meets the theme's criteria, head over to hostesses Boxer's blog, and post an I'm Up! in the comment's box. And let's see how many people jinxed with Alien.

Pussy, Liar, Fraud

I sure know why I hate you like I do.
You say you're for the people, but you just make us blue.
Stole our faith, replaced it with regret,
And we haven't seen the worst of it yet.

I wanna know
Won't you tell me
Are you here to stay?

Because I want to take you to the river.
Drop you in the water,
Drown your soul and shoot your heart,
Hang you upside down.
That would feel so good,
Watching you drown . . .

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Haiku Monday: Observations of Nature

Sun beats, wind gusts.
Fur and flesh scoured to bone.
Desert's proof of life.

* * *

This week's Haiku Monday is being sponsored and judged by Troll, with prizes by Boxer. If you want to play, head over there and post your 5-7-5 on the theme of

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Drive By

If I had a Sioux Indian name it would be: She Who Works for Shoes.

Hola, Party People.

It is with extreme regret that I will not be able to man the Idol Snark Station this week, due to deadlines that I can't believe a client would actually saddle me with, except said client is paying me well and on time. Which rarely, if ever, happens, so yeah, I'm their bitch for now. Also, see above caption.

So if any of you want to take it over, please feel free and let me know. Otherwise, also feel free to come over here and leave snarky comments in this post. I won't mind. I'll break on occasion just so I know there is still a world out there not comprised of serial commas and arguments over whether or not it's The New York Times or the New York Times.

I should have been a plumber.

Ciao for now.

Monday, April 4, 2011

New Mexico Burning

A fire burns along Albuquerque's bosque in 2009, only a few miles from downtown.
Usually, it's some idiot who drops their cigarette.

Every couple years or so, we have a late winter and early spring so dry, the state literally goes up in flames. Eleven years ago in May, the entire town of Los Alamos, birthplace of The Bomb and currently home to more nerds per square inch than the lunchroom at MIT, burned right to the ground thanks to a blaze that started off as a simple controlled burn. Within days, 48,000 acres were scorched rotten, 400 homes were reduced to tinder, and the U.S. General Accounting Office ciphered up the damage at over one billion dollars. The fire was so consuming the smoke plume reached all the way into Oklahoma, as shown by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo taken from the air.

Whether from dry lightening or human stupidity, doesn't matter, the end result is all the same. Fire sparks, flames fan, property is destroyed, lives devastated.

Those of us who live in rural places, at the edges of wilderness so overgrown one can hardly walk a forest floor anymore, live with sucked in breath in the months between the time the snows stop and the summer monsoons begin. We're told to make sure to craft a "defensible space" around our properties. To have hoses at the ready, brush cut, and all potential fuels removed from our gutters. To have a meeting spot in mind for our families, and places to go for our animals. Around here, that means more than a dog and cat or two. It means horses and chickens and goats and llamas, too.

And even though we live almost some portion of every year with this nightmare pushing at the edge of our brains, S.B. and I don't really have an evacuation plan. Get dressed, put the dogs and their food in the Jeep, a shotgun on the floor, the pistols in the glove compartment, and . . . what else? The photo albums? My father's paintings? My jewelry? The computers?

S.B. jokingly said to me last night, "If our house burns down, then can we move to Georgia? How about Tulsa?" For some reason, that pissed me off, and I told him not to bring that bad juju down on our heads. But then it got me thinking . . . if life as we knew it was about to go up in smoke, what would we do? In the technicolor quick fire flash of panic, when life is on the line and property threatened, what from my and our former life would I absolutely take with me to help navigate impending disaster? I have no idea.

What would YOU take?