The funny disease.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cursed Tongue Mysterious Creatures: In Search of the Treadmill Day Trader

I’ve been going to the little gym in my apartment complex about once a week for the last six months. Apparently that wasn't often enough, because it was only this morning that I came across a creature I thought was the stuff of myths and legends, like Bigfoot or the Easter Bunny. But there he was, as large as life and smelling distinctly of Axe body spray: the Treadmill Day Trader. MSNBC was on both gym TVs at an ear-pounding volume. And shortly after I settled into my own workout the man on the treadmill—he was wearing jeans and a crisp white shirt, whipped out his cell phone. He had the phone in one hand and free weights in the other. Over the whirr of the treadmill, the stair stepper and blaring of MSNBC I caught snippets of, “I’m thinking of selling my Ebay…is down…yes, the turkey was great...”

I was also lucky enough to hear of the whereabouts of said Treadmill Day Trader last night. Apparently, he paid $150 per ticket to see the Rolling Stones. By his account he was one of the youngest people there, being 30. If he was 30, he was also 6 feet tall. The 6 Foot Tall Man Who's Shorter Than Me (I'm 5'11") is another of life's mysterious creatures--however, much more commonplace than the Treadmill Day Trader. Of course, maybe day trading is like coal mining and wears on you. Well, this mysterious creature finished before me and offered me the remote. I declined and asked would he please turn them off. There was a moment of slight panic when the Treadmill Day Trader reared up and said, “Yes, so you can enjoy your peace and quiet.” I feared an attack, but the trader left after turning the TVs off and spreading the stink of resentment throughout the room. Or maybe that smell was me. I don’t generally wear anything as potent as Axe body spray while I workout.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

How to be a Real Estate Investor: or Ensuring You’ll Burn for Eternity in the 8th Ring of Hell

  • Hire a Realtor because face it, what do you know about Realty?
  • Find a hot real estate market. It doesn’t have to be anywhere near where you live. Actually, it’s probably better if it’s not.
  • Buy a property without ever even stepping foot on the front lawn, thereby snatching it from under the nose of some pathetic sap who actually wants a house to live in.
  • Take the fair market value of the house and multiply it by 2
  • Then add 30%
  • Next add another 20%
  • Add another 10% for any special features, such as a fireplace, no holes in the roof, or a carpet that’s only five years old.
  • When a potential buyer offers a reasonable price on the house tell their Realtor that you’re insulted and reject their offer outright.
  • Then tell them that the most you’d consider knocking off the price is $2,000
  • When you do find a sucker…I mean, buyer, dictate all of the terms of the sale--pick the Escrow company, the mortgage broker, the inspectors, and dictate anything else you can think of.
  • If the buyer asks you to fix anything treat them like a whiny child:
    • “You’ll get nothing and like it!”
  • Drag your feet on all responses to buyer—that way you’ll run out the clock and there won’t be time for them to demand you fix that drain that’s probably clogged with cement.
  • Don’t let the buyer measure the rooms, remember, you took five whole minutes guessing the sizes of those rooms you’ve never seen for the MLS listing.
  • Stick to your guns about not fixing anything for the buyer. Remember that they are probably desperate for that house because they have probably had at least three other houses that were gone by the time their Realtor got their offer in.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Cursed Tongue Guide to Tightwad Gift-Giving

Happy Black Friday!

It’s once again that special time of year when you have to not only see people that you’ve been avoiding all year, but put down cash money to give the gift of, “Oh, isn’t that lovely?” I hear that the going rate for proving your love to family members at Christmas is $50. If we’ve learned anything from the myriad of
Christmas Carol rip-offs, it’s that Christmas is about much more than buying the affection of others, unless you’re rich, like Ebenezer. Then you better fork over or people will just think that you’re trying to take it with you. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Bill Gates can manage it, but I think it will be a while before that camel tries passing through the needle.

If you can’t be Bigspender Moneybags, you don’t need to accumulate rib-crushing debt to show that your loved ones that you care. For those of you who still don’t seem to get it, credit card companies are not really doing you a favor by carrying your balance month to month. They are charging you interest. Eventually, the Hickory Farms gift basket you charged in order to impress your in-laws will cost you as much as new condo. Trust me, that doesn’t mean you should have bought them the condo in the first place.

Thoughtfulness is your best bet if you can’t throw cash at the gift problem. Anyone can give Aunt Gertrud a big screen TV, but who would think of getting her the slipper socks that she always wanted. What is your giftee interested in? What are his/her hobbies? Conversations that may have bored you to tears at the Thanksgiving table may have held valuable clues to giving someone something they may accidentally like. You have to pay attention; did Grandpa using an electric knife that you’re pretty sure was a prototype to carve the turkey yesterday?

I was at my Grandma’s house one day, sitting in her recliners when a spring bit me on the ass. Now, there was no way I could afford to buy new chairs on my own, which brings me to my next tip: Go in on gifts with others. I passed the idea along to family members and luckily my cousin, the Honorable Super Organizer Wonder Woman in the family took charge of all of the plans. (So I got out of that one. Teehee.) We divvied up the cost of the chairs, and Grandma and Grandpa got comfy recliners that they seem to enjoy.

If you have lots of giftees spread all over the country sometimes it’s cheaper to mail order an item and have it shipped to its final destination. Or you could move by your Mom and she can send all of your gifts along with hers.

If your budget isn’t too tight, you may want to check out sending a caseload of something that the givee loves. For many things this is not as cost prohibitive as it sounds, and it will have a big impact on the recipient. My parents once got a caseload of Pirate’s Booty for a reasonable sum, and they shipped it for free. Just make sure that it’s something that has a shelf life similar to that of Twinkies. Or you could get boxes of nostalgia candy for under $20. I’m sure that any older relative would love to sink their dentures into a sweet piece of Bit-o-Honey. If you’re visiting them for Christmas, candy has the added benefit keeping people quiet for a while.

I learned something recently that was frankly, kind of surprising. Toys are cheap. It seemed that last time I was paying attention to that kind of thing they were expensive. At first I thought it was merely the change in my perception that came about from earning more than $10 a month. But through various pieces of information that have come my way, I’ve learned that toys are, in fact, cheaper then they used to be. The price of plastic fell and manufacturing is also cheaper. I.E. they aren’t paying the Taiwanese children that work in their factories enough so that they are able to buy shoes. If you’re callous enough that barefoot Taiwanese children doesn’t bother you, you could put together a “Forever Young” gift basket for those people in your life who don’t ever seem to grow up. Like your little brother, and his wife. Get a plastic basket, stick in some Silly Putty, a Slinky, some Monkeys in a Barrel, and some candy.

That brings us to the little tykes on your list. Kids are the best people to give gifts to. I once gave a baby cousin a mini bean bag horse for his birthday. It was in my cereal, for all intents and purposes, it was free. And that kid received about a billion presents that day, but darned if he didn’t carry the bean bag horse around with him all day. Just this year the
cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame. I don’t recommend giving a kid a beautifully wrapped empty box, though. It may seem funny at the time, but trust me, you’ll feel like a big jerk.

If you don’t mind stampedes, another good tip is to brave the crowds of Black Friday to get $3.44 DVDs at Wal-Mart, and other such fantastically unpassupable deals. (Okay, I made up a word, but you know what I mean. You try being clever during a tryptophan-induced stupor.) Of course, if you’re sitting around reading this, you’ve probably already missed the best before noon deals, and all of the good stuff is probably gone. Well, you didn’t really want to be trampled by venomous middle-aged women with bargains on their minds.

If you’re still stumped about what to get for someone special on your list, I hear that everybody needs a lint roller. Maybe it was on a web site selling lint rollers, but I don’t feel compelled to argue with that wisdom.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Misadventures in Home Buying: This is what an Aneurysm Feels Like

Call him William Warranty, call him Sam Smiley, or Frank Feelgood, he seems to be a salt of the earth, okay kind of guy. At least he tells you he’s on your side, he fights your fights. “I work for you,” he says. Only you don’t remember paying him, and maybe that’s why he doesn’t return your calls. He’s the Warranty Specialist, and supposed to know all of the fine points of the builder’s warranty.

"Wow, they sent me a specialist," you might think to yourself. That’s like a gynecologist. A Warranty Specialist must have to go through a lot of training, too. Only you find out that he’s been working as a Warranty Specialist for two days, and last week he was a Builder’s Assistant. An Assistant! Your better nature tells you that he’s a working stiff, and it’s not his fault that he doesn’t know if the warranty transfers from the original owner to you. He’s only been on the job for a couple of days, after all.

You’re just sure that Mr. Feelgood will call you back after you leave him enough messages to creep out even the most adamant stalker. You wait by the phone like a sulky girlfriend and hope that they'll fix the drain in the Master Bathroom, because you really don't want to share a tub with your husband. After a couple of days the tub always looks like he was bathing monkeys in there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Misadventures in Home Buying: Happy Fun-time Continues

Meet builder Johnny Jackalsniffer. Johnny is one member of the freak parade that sashays by during the home buying experience. He is punctual but shows up with his daughter in tow. For efficiency, and because he loves the environment he leaves his truck running. Then he yells at you for daring to impugn his building prowess. Never mind that the tub really doesn’t drain and the garage light doesn’t turn on. The piece of crap house you’re buying is perfect.

The listing agent spent five whole minutes checking the house out before he signed the “This House is Perfect Binding Document.” What more could we want?
It isn't the investor's responsibility to make sure the house is livable. After 15 minutes of yelling at us Johnny Jackalsniffer is out of the subdivision like a health-nut out of a Dunkin’ Donuts. So long, suckers.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Head Case

Migraines are usually a bane that attacks women. But I guess I’m just lucky because my husband gets them, too. You might think having to live with a migraine-sufferer was my own fault for marrying him, but he didn’t have them while we were dating. Sweetface’s migraines just didn’t set in until he was 22. And I believe in my heart it was a coincidence that was the year he married me. It may be that he kept migraines at bay with a steady stream of caffeine by drinking Mt. Dew (He had an entire wall of Mt. Dew cans in his dorm room.) Or maybe Sweetface is right and I am a carrier.

The thing about migraines is, it’s kind of like being drunk. Migraines impair judgment such that my husband doesn’t always realize that he’s having them. Just like I can’t tell I’m drunk until I’m dropped off at my door and can’t find my keys. I usually know Sweetface has a migraine if he yells at me for breathing his air. Generally, he’s a pretty congenial person (He has to put up with me, after all). The transformation that overcame Dr. Jekyll wasn’t weird science; I’m sure he was suffering migraines. When my husband has a migraine, everything from his sweet disposition to his countenance changes. His eyelids turn purple. The rest of his face looks like he was hit sharply on the forehead with a two by four. And from the descriptions I’ve heard from my husband the pain can be kind of like that, except it’s constant.

There is a multitude of things that can trigger a migraine. Some migraines are predictable, and hit him when a weather front comes through, or while I’m shoe shopping. But some of his migraines are as unpredictable as the names celebrities foist on their innocent children. For example, I made sweet and sour pork to surprise him on three separate occasions and each time he came home from work with a migraine. It’s one of his favorite meals, but I refuse to make it ever again. Cutting, breading and frying the pork, and chopping the veggies and pineapple and preparing the sauce from scratch is too labor intensive for Sweetface to come home and pass out on the bed.

We combat Sweetface’s migraines with caffeine and over-the-counter painkillers that contain Acetaminophen, aspirin and caffeine. He had to give up Mt. Dew because it really wasn’t one of our goals to put our dentist’s children through college. (Not that we don’t like the dentist’s children, they’re very nice kids, I’m sure). So Sweetface has medicinal lattes instead. For a while there he was getting migraine symptoms every time we came within a two-block radius of a Starbucks. As you can imagine he was getting them quite often, until I caught on to his monkey shines and broke down and bought him an espresso maker. Of course, whether it’s really cheaper is probably a close call with all of the cafe accessories, the latte mugs and the many fancy flavored syrups we are now the proud owners of. And he still visits Pam at the Starbucks by work more than he’d ever admit to me. As they say, “He never drinks a second cup at home.” Though, I’ll admit I don’t mind Sweetface visiting the cute barista when he comes home happy—and without a blinding headache.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Oogie Boogie

I have another item to add to the Cursed Tongue Most Hated List: Library book desecration.

Is there any confusion among adults that a booger is not a bookmark? I thought it was perfectly clear. Silly me. It was even a mainstream non-fiction book. It wasn't like I was asking for it by checking out The Magic Shield of Blorn the Dwarf Lord.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Oprah Creates Run on Nordstrom Bras -- Hailed as God

Oprah aired a bra intervention episode this week, causing a run on bras sold by Nordstrom’s, according to an article by The Seattle Times. It is hardly the first time that the woman with more money than God has caused a retail frenzy. There is a long list of devoted retailers that praise the glory of Oprah. One retail devotee of Oprah from the Container Store was impressed after Oprah featured an item from her store that soon sold out. She said of Oprah, “She is like God.”

Retailers, of course, only make up a small portion of the vast horde of Oprah disciples. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Oprah, indeed, gives people a sense of religious experience. A poll on revealed that 33% of those who responded felt that Oprah “had a more profound impact” on their spiritual lives than any clergyperson. Talk show mini-mogul, Ellen DeGeneres, pictures God as Oprah Winfrey in a purple pantsuit. As we have learned from Oprah: if a talk show host says it, it must be true. If this is the second coming, it appears that the 25 to 35 year old white guy loses out again. (Let me assure you that it only looks like I could care less.)

Friday, November 18, 2005

Seven Million People Watched Martha's Apprentice? Wow.

I have become aware that NBC is fiercely competing with Fox for the coveted title of Worst Major Television Network. Things aren’t so wonderful in the land that lost Friends and Frasier in the same year. Is my evidence based on actual ratings? Why would I do something as time-consuming and futile as research? What are the signs of the decline of this Network Titan of Television Comedy? It could be the NBC website that’s as navigable as Caesar’s Palace and takes about 3 days to load even though I have high-speed internet. It could be the fact that they entrusted Martha Stewart with her own Apprentice. She had her own corporate empire, like Donald. She had the stern mogul thing going for her. She even had the big blond hair. What was missing in the magic Apprentice formula? NBC wouldn’t even let her use Donald’s catch phrase. I wonder if they made The Donald fire her so the network executives wouldn’t have to pay him royalties?

The show that’s not an indicator of the downfall of NBC is My Name is Earl, which is freakin hilarious. (The Office is funny, too, but I don’t like it that much because it reminds me of various actual offices I’ve worked in.) Maybe it’s the fact that they thought there needed to be a made-for-TV remake of the Poseidon Adventure. Was it really cheaper than paying for the rights to show the real flick? Maybe it’s the fact the Medium must be doing so bad that someone at NBC thought it would be a good idea to do an episode in 3-D. Just last night Sweetface and I were discussing the cheap tricks they use to make Lost (an ABC show) engaging, but 3-D is indubitably the height of pop-culture cheese.

Maybe it was jumping on the Martha’s Apprentice bandwagon, and not jumping off the Donald’s Apprentice bandwagon that made NBC fall on its mammoth network behind. According to the Vancouver Sun, Martha was under the impression that she would be firing Trump for the first episode of her version of the Apprentice. How many times a week did NBC think people wanted to watch a bunch of overbearing personalities duke it out in a work scenario? (Also according to the article, Stewart had dreams of buying Kmart and turning it into Kmartha.) If I were an NBC executive, I’d be watching my back. I have a hard time trusting any woman or man whose smile never reaches their eyes. (Of course nowadays it’s hard to tell: Evil Incarnate or Botox.) Especially since Martha could teach the class on the fine points of crafting shanks from everyday household items.

The lessons for NBC: Let reality television go. Stick with the funny. And they should send Martha a let's-be-friends gift basket. Maybe they could put Kmart in it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Dead Isn’t Funny

Lame and Horrifying Excuses for Continuing to Smoke:

  1. I switched to light cigarettes.
  2. I’ll get fat. (You’ll fit in with the 64.5% percent of overweight Americans)
  3. Why do I need to quit with all of the teeth-whiteners on the market?
  4. As a staunch Feminist, I’m trying to close the gap between the percentage of female and male smokers.
  5. I’m supporting American farmers.
  6. There are only 22.5% of us left; I have to keep the tradition alive.
  7. I like to annoy restaurant goers and get dirty looks from strangers.
  8. I don’t want to see my bratty grandkids grow up.
  9. I switched to chew. That’s much better for me. (Aaauuch!)
  10. If I didn’t quit while I was pregnant, why would I quit now?

Okay, I made some of those up. I heard an actual person say excuse number 10, out loud, in public! That’s more horrifying than the dialog for Commander in Chief. Take this day as a good excuse to bother your smoking/chewing loved ones, and also to tell the quitters in your life that you’re glad they gave up the tobacco habit.

Happy National Smoke-Out Day!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Exotic Dance of Home Buying

I'm finding out the hard way that home buying is like a striptease. The pieces come off at an agonizing speed. I don't think I've ever felt more unprepared and lost, even including the time that I got off the bus at the wrong school on my second day of Kindergarten. Reading seven home buying books, and enough articles to bore even an enthusiastic Realtor to tears didn’t prepare me for this. I think I would have been better educated if I’d slept on the books and tried to accumulate the information through osmosis. At least then I would have gotten some sleep deprivation training.

There have been so many concessions and little disappointments, but really this is the first house we were thinking about buying while we were touring the home. When we snooped around the neighborhood and saw an empty lot within two houses of our interested house, I said, “What’s the worst it could be: an Auto Mall?” We were not deterred when we found out it was, indeed, going to be an Auto Mall.

It’s also spiting distance from the Chandler Municipal Airport. They have little put-put planes. When I found this out I was pretty upset about it, but Sweetface reminded me that I was probably closer to an airstrip when I lived on various Air Force bases. Them F16s used to put me to sleep at night. Now I just have to worry about bi-plane flying nutjobs landing on my roof. Which reminds me, I should check my homeowner’s policy.

Now that our offer has been accepted, it feels like I’m onstage and a bunch of strangers have their hands in my pockets. It’s as if I am a stripper, only instead of putting money in, they’re taking money out. It wouldn’t be so bad if I knew what the whopping total would come to, but apparently the amount is more mysterious than the location of Jimmy Hoffa. I have a lump in my throat that’s been there pretty much since we put the offer down a week ago. Somewhere in my head I know it’s not the end of the world, but I can’t remember feeling this wretched for such a long period of time. Maybe it would help if I cut back on the Diet Dr. Pepper.

There has been one home buying frustration after another. I’ve had to track down documents from the title company and the Inspection report from the Termite Inspector. I actually signed a contract where the escrow company referred to itself as it’s. I thought lawyers could spell. (I realize there are misspellings/typos in this blog, but this is not a legal document meant to protect me from people like those who are dumb enough to use their hair dryers while they’re sleeping.) And did I hear back from the City Planner Martin Mouthfullamarbles about the Auto Mall that is going to be built in our back yard even though I called him twice? No! There seems to be way too much fannying about.

Before all of this I was under the impression that planning a wedding was difficult. It was nothing compared to this rib crunching heartache. It wasn’t that bad; even when I misplaced the CD with the Tchaikovsky Nutcracker Suite for the wedding ceremony and I almost blew a fuse when the DJ suggested using the meowing cat version of the song. No, he wasn’t joking. Yes, I nearly killed a man that day. It was a good thing that I already had my make-up on.

Hold on a sec, I got a call…

That was Mr. Mouthfullamarbles. He says that the dealerships will have walkie-talkies, so we won’t hear “Timmy, quit doing doughnuts in the parking lot and get back to rotating tires,” over loudspeakers. And the lights will have special shielding. For some reason it makes me feel a lot better. Admitting to a belief in special shielding on the Internet will probably open me up to even more pleas for help from relatives of Nigerian dignitaries. If the shielding is a City Planner’s fairy tale I guess there’s always the threat that Cursed Tongue will continue writing sass and publish real names.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Cursed Rewrite!

The two things Cursed Tongue hates most are littering and smoking. It's quite unfortunate that many litterbugs also seem to be smokers.

As much as I dislike inhaling second-hand lung tar, even I think it was a little silly to stop an Arthur Miller play on account of scripted, on-stage smoking. There is a story from Reuters entitled To Smoke, or Not to Smoke..., where a theater in Italy put on a production of "A View from the Bridge." One of the characters smokes, and a conscientious, law-abiding, Italian commanded the actor to extinguish his cancer stick. Which brings me to the third misbehavior that really steams my beans, talking in theaters. They actually stopped the play and did a 15-minute rewrite, sans cigarettes.

Why did it not occur to anybody that the character could hold an unlit cigarette and pretend to smoke? It is called "acting," after all.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Human Knee and the Argument for Intelligent Design

If the design of the human body, for example, is so *intelligent,* then why are the knees of a woman under 30 already shot? I don’t even have any kids to run after, unless you count Sweetface. I have to do my Yogalates three times a week to get to the point where I don’t have to live on prescribed pain killers. I really shouldn’t be at the point where I’m cursing out fitness guru, Denise Austin. She seems like such a nice lady, but in my mind she’s morphed into a militant exercise Hun.

Evolution is only a theory, but so is gravity. Maybe Pat Robertson can stuff that fact up his nose while he’s floating off the Earth into space. We can only pray that will happen. Not unlike the way that Pat Robertson prayed for a space to open up on the Supreme Court (you know, that court where a judge usually retires by dying.) I’m sure that’s exactly what Jesus would have prayed for. Die liberal judge! Die!

What I really don’t understand is why both the theory and the so-proclaimed “Biblical truth,” can’t just live in peace and harmony. Maybe God, who wrote the Bible, knew there would be a lot of simple people, not unlike Pat Robertson. And these simple people would require a simplified, abridged version of Evolution. In the book of Genesis, God populates the world with plants, and then fish, and then birds and then mammals, such as cattle, and people come to the party last. That’s just the Golden Books version of the Theory of Evolution, right?

That’s why organized religion gives me hives. Conservative Christians seem to be missing an important lesson of the Holy Bible: tolerance. Drawing religious lines in the sand and calling down the wrath of God on Dover, Pensylvania is so Spanish Inquisition. I say, “Get with it, Religious Right!" Tolerance is the new black. Cursed Tongue takes pride in digging its own pit to Hell. See all of you non-Conservative Christians there!

Recommended Reading at The Nation:

God's Pat Problem

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Solution to Bratty Behavior in Restaurants

The Open-Mouth Chewing section! It’s the perfect solution to having a peaceful meal out. Arizona doesn’t have smoking sections, so the restaurants here can just turn their old smoking sections into Open-Mouth Chewing section. Families that don’t have rules about indoor voices can leave the rest of the world to eat in peace. Everybody wins.


Saturday, November 12, 2005

Free Range Children

The Taste of Heaven cafe in Andersonville, Chicago is taking a stand against free range children. A couple of months ago they put a sign in the window asking child-patrons to use their indoor voices. Some parents are outraged that some one had the guts to tell them how bratty their kids are. Parents are banning the cafe. It seems that behavior of children in public gets worse and worse. We've gone to restaurants and seen children hanging from the chandeliers.

Now, that time we walked into the Colonial Cafe on clown night, we sucked it up and ate our dinners without complaining about all of the noise. I don't think it's reasonable to expect kids to be seen and not heard. I’m not advocating the breeding of an idealized eugenically pure race here. I don’t think Stepford children is the answer. But I’m hard-pressed not to throttle parents who, when their kid is disrupting everyone around them just get them the box of Captain Crunch. I’m never surprised when I see the kid in the next aisle yelling about something else.

It’s not just about lack of discipline, either. It’s really not smart to take young children to the subtitled version of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Of course they’re going to be running up and down the aisles. I shouldn't even have to say it: a five-year-old can’t read that fast. Many parents don’t seem to understand that it is their job to see that their children are entertained. Bring them to age-appropriate movies, if not for the violence for the sheer boredom. Young children don’t grasp complex plots. Duh.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Cursed Tongue Quest for a Career

Reasons Why I’d be a Bad Teacher:

  • The snot line—there’s no human wainscoting that can protect me from nasty green kiddie boogers.
  • Science-time fun: “Who’s your real Daddy?”
  • No man or woman should be charged with raising 30 kids (It’s not humanly possible for one monogamous couple to have that many. File that under “Things Nature Got Right.”)
  • They’re taking away recess and the cushy summer vacation. (Note to state DOEs: more time molding Jaden’s butt in that little plastic seat isn’t going to make him/her do better on state exams. It should be “No child left on their behinds.”)
  • Parents convinced that there is absolutely nothing wrong with their child even though he/she is head butting the walls.
  • Parents that want something to be wrong with their child so they can get free special services.
  • Biters.
  • Extracurricular activities moderation. Don’t those kids have homes?

Recommendation Time:

“Gee, it’s really nice that Kayla idolizes Brittany Spears, but do you really think a four-year-old should be wearing stilettos to school?”

"My recommendation is that you take little Jacob’s college fund and buy a spa, because no amount of education will enable him to be a contributing member of society."

"You better pray that Hannah isn't one of those kids that looks cute when she's four, but turns into the Elephant man as she gets older--because she's going to need to get by on her looks."

"Sure Ethan is bright. But in my opinion, your lack of interest in parenting has him on the fast track to torturing small animals. In ten years, who knows, he may have a career that rivals that of Jeffrey Dahmer."

Ok, I know you wiseacres out there are thinking, “Why don’t you teach older kids?” Because there is nothing you can do to fix those kids. By then the parents have unleashed and cemented their child’s inner psychopath. Brave Teachers of America, I salute you.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Is it just me?

I thought it was just me, but I recently learned, from trolling the blogosphere, that depilatory cream doesn't work on men, either. Steve from The Sneeze wrote a depilatory installment of Just Between Us Girls. It was his foray into hair removal by depilatory cream. The cream didn’t help Steve with his five o’clock shadow, but it made him smell pretty. I thought it was simply my sensitive skin that made that stuff unbearable, and my super tree-stump leg hairs that made it absolutely useless.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff is on Cheney’s list of preferred torture methods. For those of you who have not tried both depilatories and waxing, waxing probably sounds worse, but it’s not. The pain from waxing is brutal, but short. It’s direct, honest pain. The pain from slathering Calcium Hydroxide and Potassium Thioglycolate on your legs and having to sit there for 15 minutes while it deforms your leg hair is an itchy slow pain. As an added bonus it is good for the environment. I know I’ve added it to my list of chemicals I hope make it into the public drinking water.

Should I be relieved or disturbed? Am I the only woman that this stuff doesn't work on? Why are they still selling it, if it doesn't work? Why did I buy it again recently, hoping that this time it would burn the hair off my legs, not just my skin? Did I really believe in the “bladeless” razor? I guess next time I want to smell pretty I’ll just wear perfume. Ok, anybody know how I should dispose of the rest of this bottle of floral-scented environmental nightmare?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Confessions from the Cursed Tongue

Unemployment: See Failure

You may have noticed that I haven't bothered filling in the "About Me" or you may be wondering about the "Description" of this blog. It's not that I'm lazy--although that would usually be the reason. It's the fact that I'm in a so-called period of self-examination. I'm hopped up on caffeine, daytime TV and a sinking sense of self-worthlessness. Unemployment does that to a person. What do I usually do? Well, before we moved here for my husband's job, I was an administrative assistant. Ok, I was a secretary. I wasn't paid enough, or appreciated enough--like many secretaries, I’m sure. And I didn't get much of a chance to do what I'm good at--or hope I'm good at, which is write. That isn’t the sad part. The sad part is that I stayed because it was convenient. Oh the shame! I went to work with my husband three days a week and the other two days I had time for household chores, and writing.

I'm not very proud of who I am at this point. Though my continued unemployment is not without reason. I'm not only trying to rethink things, but I have also been trying to find a suitable house in this psychotic market. Arizona's real-estate values have doubled from July 2004 to July 2005. Thanks, you money-grubbing investors, I hope your tenants attract roaches. My consolation is that rent in the area is not covering the mortgages. Teehee. Not everything is bright and beautiful in the world of Arizona real-estate investment. If there is a scary housing bubble anywhere, it's here. I just know it will burst as soon as we find a house that is appropriate and doesn't fall through. Negative equity, here we come!

See what I did there. Went off on a tangent, so I wasn't talking about myself anymore. Not that you were all waiting around to hear about my life. I decided a few weeks ago to do something about my miserable state-of-mind. I started this blog. And I put my resume up on-line. The job-finding service I use recommended that I use their format. Their format wants to put my most recent experience first. I decided to go along with that, not really knowing what it is I want to do with my life. So I look like an Administrative Assistant on-line. But I don't feel like one. In the four years I worked at my last job, I never got a raise, not because my work didn't deserve it. At least I was told that they couldn’t afford it. One day at work I was cleaning up after a particularly careless co-worker when my boss walked in. We had a discussion about how I wasn’t a maid. She then said, “You’re one overpaid maid.” Turns out that my fellows in the respectable cleaning industries made more than a quarter than I did on average, and that was working with data that was a good four years old. Of course, there’s no way to tell what my boss would have paid a maid if she had one.

Surprisingly, I’ve gotten some calls and many replies from my paltry, six-line, posted resume. One was for temp work, so far away that I’d have to work for an hour to pay for the fuel to commute, and the others are entreaties for me to join a sales force with a potential to earn up to $100,000. I’m so sure. The last response I got was from a company with some mysterious Tibetan miracle cure. I’m certain they had me purchasing the product in mind when they sent the e-mail, not a job opportunity. Now I realize I should try uploading my resume that I took hours agonizing over. But I can’t help feeling good about being wanted, even to do temp work and buy miracle cures. So pathetic!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Attack of the Professional Millers

Yesterday we walked into the Best Buy to look at refrigerators. Our path was blocked by a herd of male Millers, all wearing button down shirts and ties. At first I thought we had stumbled into a sales convention, but then we realized that they were circling the big screen TVs. We actually had to excuse ourselves to get past a young dressed-up, Best Buy nametag wearing Timmy. We aren't even safe from the store employees anymore. You'd think that the Best Buy management would want us to have unrestricted access to whatever product we are after, if they ever expect us to go there for all of our big screen TV needs. Which, I admit at this point, are absolutely none.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Cursed Tongue Recipe for Brownies:

  • Take ingredients and mixing bowl out of cabinets
  • Take brownie pan out of cabinet
  • Wash it because it’s dusty with flour and dishwasher residue
  • Crack egg into bowl
  • Measure 1/3 cup of oil pour into bowl
  • Dump in brownie mix
  • Notice that I missed 3 tablespoons of water in the ingredient list
  • Look in the drawer for tablespoon
  • Realize tablespoons are both dirty
  • Wonder if 3 tablespoons are the same as ¼ cup
  • Debate weather it’s easier to wash a tablespoon of hunt down a conversion chart
  • Decide who am I kidding I hate washing dishes and go through 2 cookbooks before finding conversion chart
  • Find out that a ¼ cup is 4 tablespoons
  • Measure in 1/8 cup and half of a 1/8 cup
  • Instructions on box say stir for 50 strokes
  • Ignore and stir only until mostly mixed
  • Pour mix into brownie pan
  • Cover dry bits with wet batter
  • Use rubber spatula to get batter off sides of bowl
  • Lick spatula
  • Turn on oven to preheat because I forgot to do it in the first place
  • Eat fun-sized Nestle Crunch Bar to hide fact that have been eating batter
  • Check face in mirror to be sure that am hiding fact that have been eating batter
  • Bake for less than time on instructions for gooey brownies

Friday, November 04, 2005

Fox, The Ghetto Network

I was checking up on my favorite tv show, Arrested Development, because it was so rudely interrupted. I clicked on the Fox Network site and was shocked and appalled. My beloved tv show was surrounded by banner ads for mortgage loans and stomach stapling. In my dismay I peered up at the URL to find that it did seem to be the legitimate web site of the Fox Network. I even erased everything up to the .com and pressed enter to make sure I would get the Fox Network. I did.

Now I'm sure that Fox can find a use for the 2 cents it must get from every click the ads on its site get, but you'd think they could find a higher class of products to advertise, like I don't know…nutraceuticals? I seem to have forgotten both the roots of Fox, and the general trajectory of said network from raunchy to soft-core porn. Of course, any Network dumb enough to cut the season of its best show short…

Right Down the Funny Drain

I’ll have to be honest with you, Readers. (Not that I’m not always honest.) I think that the house-buying thing has sucked the funny right out of my head. It’s odd, because usually I laugh at inappropriate moments. The twitch in my eye has migrated to my upper arm, and the stabbing pains in my lower back have moved back in. I feel like a sociological experiment in sleep deprivation. And I can see from that last sentence that the paranoia stage has set in.

If this house actually closes as planned, I should be in stellar shape for moving and making decorating decisions. Maybe that explains the Frankenpaint house. What, you may ask, Dear Reader, is at the end of this lovely rainbow? Why, a job-hunt, of course. It’s just the relaxing vacation I need from the wondrous world of Realty.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

For Sale: Husband--Feeds Family of Four

My husband is not alone; I know that Sweetface is only one of millions that are glued to the Food Network like royal icing on gingerbread. For some of these viewers watching a chef make seared tuna with tempura fried squash blossoms and wasabi sauce is like watching a sport. Watching pro football doesn’t necessarily mean you have the desire or ability to play pro football. But my husband pays close attention to technique, because he likes to cook. Cooking combines three of his favorite things: food, science and gadgets. Before I get too far into discussing my husband’s obsession I must explain that we have a small kitchen, and that there are only two of us. There are no children, no dogs, not so much as a goldfish. It’s him and me and his kitchen gadgets.

Our kitchen drawers are overflowing with whisks, spatulas and a plethora of gizmos that appear to be instruments of torture. (Sweetface assures me that it’s just a nutmeg grater, or a vegetable peeler). Not to mention the toaster oven, blender, food processor, crock pot, espresso machine, and the crowning jewel of my husband’s kitchen: the Professional Six Quart KitchenAid Mixer in Cobalt Blue. He calls it Conchita, and I am only allowed to run it for 15 minutes at a time, then “she” has to rest for an hour. Of course I must give him credit, he does use most of these gadgets. I say most because I did supply him with an angel food cake pan, but have yet to have angel food cake. Though I realize it could be worse. One of my cousins collects Star Wars action figures, which pretty much sit on shelves, despite the name “action” figures. I predict he will have trouble explaining to his children why they can’t play with Daddy’s action figures. Sweetface and I will just have to keep any future progeny from playing with the toaster oven.

Of course, using the gadgets is only part of my problem. My husband has to be supplied with eggs, and milk and unbleached flour and bread flour and whole-wheat flour. Our cabinets are stocked to get us through six months of winter, though we spend more time and money in grocery stores than I care to admit. It’s like a sickness with him. We visit the Jewel, Dominicks and Meijers on a regular basis. We go to Michael’s Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s and drive all the way to Wheaton to get to Whole Foods with less devotion, but often enough that I can find the roasted red pepper hummus with no problem. We are a grocery store’s worse nightmare: unfaithful customers. I feel I am being promiscuous in whatever three grocery stores we choose to patronize that weekend, while my husband trips blithely through the aisle hunting for pickled elk snout or something like that.

I used to resist an overstocked pantry. But I’ll admit I yielded what with the threat of terrorism. I know that those can of refried beans and pumpkin pie filling won’t protect us from a bio-terror attack, but it makes me feel better to know that if something does happen, and hording seizes the aisles of the Jewel, Dominick’s, Meijers, Michael’s Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and the 7/11 on the corner we won’t have to wrestle any with suburban working women/mothers for the last can of proverbial Who-hash. (You’d think they wouldn’t have much energy left being mothers and working outside the home, but I once made the mistake of going to the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving, where I witnessed two, by-all-appearances normal women turn into vicious banshee-harpies over the last bag of fresh cranberries. If I was braver I might have said, “Ladies, there’s no need to fight. People eat your gritty homemade cranberry sauce to be nice. It’s in gelatin form in a can for a reason.”)

After seeing his father’s pantry, I know that my husband is restraining himself. My father-in-law has an 8 by 12 room in the basement lined with shelves. And those shelves are generously stocked with staples that include Betty Crocker instant potatoes, corn flakes and enough fruit tea to get him through every evening for the next five years. He could open a modest general store. Not knowing my father-in-law, you might think he’s crazy. But really he was raised on a Minnesota farm, where stocking food for 6 months of winter was inadequate. Part of the reason he continues to hoard is because he is a thrifty shopper and likes to buy a lot of something when it is on sale. The other reason is because he and my mother-in-law live in Germany, and are dependent on the military grocery store, which has been known to run out of various items for weeks and even months. They can’t always go to a German grocery store and just get their favorite brand of soda crackers, or good old U.S. staples like pancake mix. Also, he really likes fruit tea.

Sweetface, on the other hand, is not content with fruit tea, and decides we can’t have strawberries for dessert without a sponge cake that will take three hours at 7:30 in the evening. And given the choice just to wait until the next day to eat it or break my no food for 2 hours before bedtime rule, I inevitably cave in and eat two pieces of sponge cake. Thus I wake up in the middle of the night with roaring heartburn and a sickness in the pit of my stomach that comes from too-many-calories guilt.

The purpose of consuming this money, time and kitchen space is to use what he learns on the Food Network. It’s a little unfair to say that he never cooks our regular meals, but only a little. Or perhaps I just hate cooking so much that it seems like I do it more often. Sweetface likes to go on baking sprees. He’ll make two pumpkin pies, a Shoo-fly pie and fresh bread in an evening. We can only eat so much pumpkin pie for breakfast. (It’s perfectly okay to pumpkin pie for breakfast, as long as you don’t put whipped cream on it, just like it’s okay to eat chocolate cake for breakfast, as long as you scrape off the frosting.) I would suggest opening a food pantry, but he’s not regular, he goes on baking blitzkriegs, and then I won’t see as much as a snickerdoodle for a month. My solution is to foist baked-goods onto unsuspecting relatives, who tell us that we won’t be able to bake like that when we have kids. But I’d like to see a baby stop my husband.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Torture by Mortgage Broker

It seems that a seller has actually accepted our offer on a house. That in itself seems like a miracle, but I don't want to get excited yet, because it seems as if there are still so many things that could go wrong. I've been comparing mortgages for the past two days, I think I'd rather shove bamboo splinters under my nails, or stick hot lima beans up my nose. Meanwhile, I feel like I should be checking whether they only moved the headstones, and picking paint colors.

Between the bank and the mortgage broker they're charging me of everything short of the air I'll be breathing when I sign the papers. It's not the liver scarring interest rates that are hard to swallow, but the Title Insurance, the "5.1 Environmental Endorsement" fee, and the Document E-mailing Fee. When Sweetface and I were married I thought we were being gouged, (if you attach the word "wedding" to a product you can double and in some cases quadruple the price) but this is plain ridiculous. Some of these fees make as much sense as Original Flavored water.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Visit from the Great Pumpkin

Great Pumpkin or Supreme Court Nominee Take Two? Posted by Picasa

It was a banner Halloween at the Letnes household. Not one Trick-or-treater. We bought two bags of candy for those little ingrates. I even checked the door to make sure there wasn't a yellow tag on it. We did, however get a visit from the Great Pumpkin. We also watched a great flick about the pitfalls of homeownership. Poltergeist takes on a whole new meaning when you've just put your earnest money into escrow.