She's a Real Mother

Mutha's got eyes in the back of her head.

Friday, August 07, 2009


In ballparks across the world fans hold their collective breath waiting to see if players will make the catch. In a nifty parallel, many crowds will also cheer when fans catch foul balls and home runs. There are exceptions of course -- you better be sure it's foul or "outta there" before you go for it. If you don't it gives birth to infamous moments in which a Cub fan is hated forever or Sheffield decks a guy in the stands for getting in his space. With that in mind, if you're in the right and you catch it -- the ball is yours. A moment of glory and a souvenir that the management will let you take home. Nice. Unless you find yourself in Fenway -- where, in addition to your moment and your ball, you better be ready to be handed a critique of your catch.
What gets the biggest hand? A kid catching a ball.
What gets booed? If you drop it after catching it of course or spill your drink/hot dog/popcorn while trying. Also, if your drunken ass falls on the field while reaching for it.
Then there is a middle ground I had no idea of until I heard a discussion of the subtleties of the craft. An adult will not be given a hardy cheer if he catches the ball in a glove. At a game once, I heard fans give the raspberry to this. Apparently, for adult males -- it is bare-handed or nothing.

Having revealed the rougher side of the critique -- I must, in all fairness say that Red Sox fans will also defend their own in these moments. The night John Lester pitched his no-hitter, I was sitting way down the third base line and saw a man hit in the face by a singing line-drive foul. Another fan caught it in rebound and held it up for the cheer. He was booed. The fan-catch-code clearly rules that if a fan gets hit in a face the souvenir belongs to him/her. The rebounder would not give it up -- and everyone in my section agreed -- that was some cold shit.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

You Are Who You Date

Like so many women who grew up listening to the radio in the 60's and 70's, I have been a fan of female singer/songwriters for as long as I can remember. So, I was excited to read the biographical piece by Sheila Weller, entitled, Girls like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon, and the journey of a generation. Ambitious to say the least, Weller tells three life stories, packed with juicy tidbits and sometimes endless side story footnotes. I was so intrigued by the three different routes these women took in order to get their music heard, and then to be taken seriously. What was less intriguing was the nonstop stream of bad relationships these women pursued. The lists include drug addicts, women beaters, mentally ill guys, embarrassingly young guys, tepee-dwelling mountain men, and just plain too many guys named Rick. Then there were the occasional guys in common -- including James Taylor, Jackson Brown and Warren Beatty -- which can get...awkward. I found myself the least interested in this element of the book and even cringing a bit now and then. I started to feel embarrassed that I knew about so many of the guys they chose to date. But why? Why the cringing?

The reason for this became more clear when I attended a recent college reunion. A dear college friend and I toured the campus and reminisced -- and even though we did not run in to any old beaus that day, the conversation did often wander to the men we pursued during those four years. In order to cushion the blow of memory -- and also to make it more fun, we opted for code names describing type when speaking of the gentlemen.
There was Tony Soprano,

The Lizard King

and Gentle Ben.

The guys were far easier to appreciate in these characterisations -- an interesting cast of characters rather than a string of lousy choices. But it also pointed to why I found it so painful to hear Carol, Joni, and Carly's list of men. I would find it unbearable to think that was one of the way I was judged (as if anyone besides me would care). Let us all be grateful that in the end we are not who we date.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Five Things I Know

My style as a teacher is to ask people to think about what they already know. I have a strong bias that through such reflection we can start to recognize what we don't know and even what we wished we knew. So recently, I thought I should put my money where my mouth is -- and take my own medicine, pull myself up by my bootstraps because...oh, you get it.

Five Things I Know:

      1. You should only split hosta plants in the fall.

      2. Turning a nob or screw to the left will make it looser, to the right will make it tighter. In other words, Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey.

      3. If I could eat as many potato chips as I wanted I would end up one of those people who need to be buried in a piano crate.

      4. Swimming laps keeps me sane. If I had to stop, the cops would have to be called.

      5. Birds sing because life is sweet.

      What 5 things do you know?

      Wednesday, March 18, 2009

      Peeking search of spring

      Brave Cosmos seedlings out my kitchen window, taken last Tuesday -- and yes that is all snow. It is close to 60 today so we may see the yard yet. Spring officially starts next week -- but I am wishing hard today.

      What is it doing where you live?

      Thursday, January 29, 2009

      Great Things to Get for Your Birthday

      Today is my day! And it has made me think about what great gifts I have received:

      A trip to NYC which included maki from Morimoto's restaurant. No I didn't win a contest -- only the Husband Lottery.

      Tickets to see Equus, which my husband called "Potter Shlong." See above.

      My 8-year-old handed me his Spy Recorder at 6:30 a.m. When you push the button it plays his voice saying, "Happy Birthday, Mom!"

      A vase of tiger lilies from my brother.

      A video from my best friend's young twin sons proclaiming their love for my dimples.

      A yard full of very pretty snow.

      Now if only Varitek would just sign that deal the Red Sox have put on the table...
      What's the best birthday present you ever got?

      Monday, January 26, 2009

      Sometimes People Drink Vodka and Do Strange Things

      I found this while reading FAQ on a U2 site, in response to the question: Did Bono really take off his clothes in the middle of a crowded restaurant?
      This is true. From Newsday March 27, 1992: At a dinner earlier this week at London's celebrity haunt, Nikita, Bono surprised his 18 dinner guests by removing all his clothes - including his black bikini briefs - for no apparent reason. During the Russian meal of mainly vodka and caviar, we're told the Irish rocker sat naked and acted as if being nude in a plush, crowded restaurant was the most natural thing in the world. Which, in some quarters, we suppose it is. "Sometimes people drink vodka and do strange things," Nikita owner Sylvain Borsi told us. But didn't he find Bono's behavior a bit eccentric, to say the least? "No, he was very nice and very civilized," Borsi said. "I think he just felt more comfortable with nothing on." But he had a really good reason! From Newsday March 30, 1992 : His spokesman says Bono was actually being interviewed by a journalist during dinner when the Irish rocker decided to undress, as we reported. "The writer was so unimaginative, so frozen, so unloose that Bono thought it would be a good idea to take his clothes off," the spokesman said. "And there wasn't much of a reaction."

      Friday, January 16, 2009

      What's Ann Coulter Doing on Tuesday?

      Oh I just hate her -- and I have made that clear before. I also encouraged anyone who was game to spread the rumor that she was a drag queen. I can honestly say that I took a break after that. I ignored her. Then, right after the election last November, I heard the news that Ms. Coulter's jaw was broken and had been wired shut. My imagination ran wild -- who finally popped her one right in the mouth? The mind reels at the number of possible suspects.
      But she's back and the gums are a-flappin. Her latest? That all successful blacks are successful only because of their playing of the "race card." That the world would be better with no Jews. I wish I were kidding -- or exaggerating -- but no, this is what Ann has to share. This is of course alongside her claim that all teachers are closet pedophiles, that all liberals are terrorist sympathisers. As frustrated as I am with her -- I am more frustrated with the majority of people who interview her. Jesus! Who is going to take her down!!?? Why has no one pointed out that she is constantly playing on the fact that she is a woman and legging blonds should simply be allowed to get away with more. If not, then why the hell is she constantly wearing little black cocktail dresses with plunging necklines? Even first thing in the morning on the Today show! Did she dress that way because slamming the 9/11 widows, telling them to shut up and take the money, was a blacktie affair?
      As I feel my blood pressure start to rise -- I remind myself of the reason I finally settled on regarding what happened to Coulter's jaw: She found out Obama won and the mofo unhinged on its own.
      And that makes me feel a whole lot better.

      Wednesday, January 07, 2009

      Things I Can't Believe I Like

      I have always admired people who could continue to grow in their interests -- people who kept wanting to learn about new stuff even after their college years had passed and the "settled down" section had moved in. I mean, what's the alternative? Congealed stagnation? Ooooo...yuck. But with that said, I am stunned by what I have come to like in my forties because in some way it is an about-face to who I was in my younger days.

      For instance:

      The Terminator Movies: I know! Isn't that crazy?! I used to hate these things -- never spent money or a ticket or a rental. Then, a couple of years ago my husband talked me into watching Terminator 2 and I ended up loving it! Now I've seen the other -- including the very low budget original -- and I am so hooked. I gotta say though -- buff and psycho Linda Hamilton in T2 is my favorite part. She's just loony and kicks ass.

      Boxing: When I was little, my brother had a big poster of Muhammad Ali towering over Sonny Liston on his bedroom wall. I was scared of it -- but also impressed. He was The Champ -- untouchable through out my whole childhood, and I can remember watching the Wide World of Sports waiting to hear him come on and recite poetry or simply look into the camera and insist with his own amazement, "I am so pretty!" But watching the actual fight upset me. I remember being confused that it was even called a sport. I thought it was just guys hitting each other. Fast forward to about three years ago. One night, by chance, I caught site of an old Ali fight on the Classic Sports channel, and was dazzled. His ability to move, his theatrics in the ring were suddenly not just a show but strategies. I then became a devotee to the series The Contender. If you haven't seen it is like Project Runway only the designers are boxers -- men train and challenge each other for weeks until it comes down to one pair. What I love is how much work and thought has to go into a match -- in other words, the opposite of my original impression. I can now admire any fight, and do. Imagine that.

      Stuff Blowing Up: I used to hate to watch things get destroyed. I was the one person who would look away at a crash. Now I can't wait -- Show it again! Show it in slow motion! I have turned into the guys on Myth Busters who giggle and cheer when stuff goes BOOM! Now, I do have a threshold here folks -- I don't want to blow stuff up, even in video games -- And I really can not watch footage of people getting killed. But -- if those criterion are met well then FIRE IN THE HOLE!! What have I learned from this? In most cases, (Excluding of course ever becoming a Yankees fan during this incarnation) never say never. It is a lot more fun that way.

      Thursday, January 01, 2009

      Let's Ask Oprah -- She's Knows Everything

      I can honestly say, I feel an unconventional connection to Oprah. I do not watch her show, but she and I share the same birthday. Strange, but true -- and a good enough reason to check in now and again with what this incredibly powerful woman is thinking and preaching. So was the case this week, when I saw that she had decided to discuss her on-going weight issues in the pages of her magazine, O. It had become a national headline, of course: "Oprah says she is embarrassed by her weight," which made me feel for her. It's bad enough to feel that way -- it must suck to have to admit it to strangers. It also dispelled the myth I do nurture in my mind that if you are childless and wealthy enough, you can either have a team of people who make sure all your needs are met -- or you have all the time in the world to get your own damn needs taken care of.
      Having said that though...
      I can't help but wonder this: when you have a personal chef -- couldn't there be a lot of thought and care put into the kind of food that is served to you? Thought and care you don't have to invest? Couldn't you have a pre-arrangement in which you say, "I don't care how much I beg don't feed me a double-bacon cheeseburger."? If you have a personal trainer -- don't you have to simply show up and do what he/she says? These folks are paid to listen to bitching and moaning. For those of us who have to drag our asses home at the end of work, collect our kids, then cook the dinner -- Or drag our own sorry carcasses to the gym or the track or the town pool to try and get something like a workout under our belts a couple times a week -- I honestly believe there is only a slim comparison with what makes it tough for a woman like Oprah to feed and exercise her own body.
      And yet -- here is what is ultimately interesting to me about the article: Oprah was not content with identifying the issues leading to her weight gain, but nailing down the solution. This also made me worry for her -- I mean, come on -- you sure you got all the answers?
      Don't get me wrong, her answer is an valuable one: take care of yourself, make yourself a priority. It has been something I have had to think long and hard about this past year as a result of my own health issues. But one of things I had to learn the hard way -- and I offer to Oprah as a reflection -- is that letting go of our own sense of false power is an important element to self-care. That was hard enough for me to do in my teeny-tiny empire of work and home -- I can imagine it would be far more complex in the Oprah Universe.
      In the end, I do not understand why it is true -- but I can only admit it: It's not easy to be Oprah. But listen, honey, our birthday is coming up and I'll bet there must be something nice you can do for yourself -- and I'm sure you've got some dough set aside to pay for it.

      Friday, December 19, 2008

      Scenes of Pumpkin Destruction

      Every November we indulge in pumpkin destruction. We have a hill in our yard and in front of our house on the street that make rolling the buggers very fun. Then there is the stomping and the chucking. Then the flinging into the woods. Good times are had by all. It is a kind of purification before the first snow. Pagaen and nourishing to the soul.

      Monday, December 15, 2008

      Peace on Earth and...hmmm, hmmm, hmm, hmm

      I was asked the other day what my favorite Christmas song was and I had to take a minute. I like a lot of them. Then I realized that sometimes -- its not just the song, but a specific version of the song. For instance, the original version of the Drummer Boy, with the choir-sounding people makes me cry -- but no other version does. And I think it should be illegal to record White Christmas -- as Bing is the one and only version I wait to hear each year. I also recently heard Nat King Cole's version of Oh Holy Night and almost drove off the rode. As a friend pointed out -- if you were raised Catholic, that "Fall on your knees/ and hear the angels voices" part can cause you anything from chills to tears to a promise to be a better person. What did I come up with? I think my favorite is Joy to the World because it does what it sets out to do.

      What's your favorite?

      Monday, December 08, 2008

      God Spelled Backwards

      My younger son has been asking for a dog since before he could even say the word. I have been strong in my resistance. I like dogs and all -- grew up with a very sweet, very fluffy Samoyed (the white husky-type). But it was easy to say no when my boys were puppies themselves. I knew I would be the one taking care of the animal -- and, frankly, I had enough poop to look after. But now my boys are older and the dog conversation has resumed with gusto. The difference this time? I have moments when I think I might buckle. First sign things were changing? I started to have dreams in which I had a dog companion. In these dream, I would have a dog by my side, usually a fairly little guy -- and he would be my company. That is when the severe soft spot started to develop. The I started watching "It's Me or the Dog" on BBC America. The problem with watching it was that it started to convince me that most dogs are trainable -- and that even the weirdest dogs are lovable. So the foundation is crumbling and I need some advice: If you are a dog enthusiast -- tell me what kind to get. If you think I am a kook for even thinking about it -- remind me why it is a bad idea. I am counting on you.

      Wednesday, December 03, 2008

      Single Ladies in the Pool

      I kept hearing the song Single Ladies in my head while swimming laps today. Perhaps I was trying to will my thighs to miraculously turn into Beyonce's. But dang girl -- this video makes me even think about puttin a ring on it.

      Sunday, November 30, 2008

      Did You Hear Who Won the Election?

      Now that several weeks have passed, I am fascinated with how different people are letting the election sink in. Here is a sampling of encounters, eaves dropping, birthday party small-talk, and even a would-be Christmas card.
      Reaction 1: Walking in downtown Boston, I passed a very large black man who was wearing a very large black t-shirt with the American flag in white. The T-shirt read, "My president is a black man." I wanted to high-five him. I did not.

      Reaction 2: The morning after the election I was in a local diner and overheard this conversation between two older men.

      "Did ya hear?"


      "Whaddaya think?"

      "I think she knew more about what she was doin than he does."

      "I dunno about that. She seemed a little bit ditzy to me."

      "I got in that voting booth and I said, 'Put me down for what ever the hell you want! These choices stink!'"

      "I guess everything's due to change now."

      "Let's talk about the Bruins instead."

      Reaction 3: My brother would not say who he voted for at a family birthday party. He is conservative -- but always has a few tricks up his sleeve, so I was really curious. I figured he would vote Republican -- but there was no way in hell Sarah Palin would do anything but drive him up a friggin wall. So, I kept asking him -- other people asked him, no dice. Then my sister-in-law walked up and outed him. "He voted for McCain," she said. Then turned to him and said, "Loser." Then it all became clear -- my brother holds dear the privacy of the voting booth because he really does hate to lose.

      Reaction 4: A conservative aunt and uncle on my husband's side of the family are usually the first to send out their Christmas card each year and it always include a letter catching us up on the news of their family. This year they decided to send out a Thanksgiving letter praising God for being a beacon to us all in these unsettling times. They couldn't wait until Christmas to praise God? What's the hurry? I guess its all relative. I thought the push for legislation to shoot wild animals from a helicopter was a sign of the apocalypse -- they think a young black liberal in the white house is. Or maybe that guy in the t-shirt.

      Monday, November 24, 2008

      We're Number Two!! We're Number Two!!

      The new list for Amerca's most dangerous cities is out and Camden, NJ -- my hometown, is NUMBER TWO!! We were beat out by none other than New Orleans -- God Bless 'em.

      Cheer up Camden, you're Number One in robberies. It was that Number Three in murder that was holding you back.

      Friday, November 21, 2008

      Daniel Radcliffe and the Tacklebox He Rode in on

      I have a crush on Kevin Spacey. I also have a "little thing" for Mike Timlin (middle reliever for the Red Sox) and an even "bigger thing" for Jason Varitek (captain and catcher). I think The Edge (of U2) is hot. Jeff Tweety (Wilco) makes me weak in the knees. So what does my husband think of this? He says he is happy to hear that I am interested in "the old guys," men that are in their 40's, men that are around his age. And I must say, that's true. I'm not sighing after all the young guys on the Red Sox, for instance. In fact, something about their 20-somethingness even bugs me.

      But then their is Daniel Radcliffe. Yeah...Harry Potter.

      He is far from 40, I know. But listen, I didn't have a crush on him when he was 10 -- for crying out loud. He looks like this now, for God's sake.

      And now he is in a production of Equus in New York. For those of you who don't know the play -- it is fantastic and disturbing, the story of an emotionally unhinged young man who loses his shit and attacks horses -- the only warm-blooded animal he is able to relate to. There are only 4 or so characters and the staging is modern and sparse, including actors in wire-sculpture horse headdresses to play the part of the animals. The acclaimed and controversial original production had Richard Burton in it as the boy's therapist, the other central role. Because I lived right outside of NYC as a kid, I remember seeing the commercial for the production on TV -- and it used to scare me. Burton staring into the camera in extreme close-up, stressing how ill some boy was in his fabulous baritone, and then this weird horse mask flashed. Eeek! But it was not the horse heads or Burton's stirring performance that made the production controversial. It was the fact that the climactic (sorry) scene in the last act included full-on nudity. And not, "Let the Sun Shine In" romping-around-for-the-hell-of-it nudity. This was a scene that depicted the young man having ill-fated sex with an older woman. And so, when the news hit that Daniel Radcliffe would be playing the part in the London production last year, the first question was obvious: will Harry Potter show us his pecker?

      Apparently the answer is yes -- which, amongst other reasons, was publicized so that if parents were oblivious to the plot of the play, they would not make the mistake of thinking it something appropriate for young Harry Potter fans. And as a result, once the play started its run, the adult theater-goers crammed the blogworld with reviews and more than one crappy video from someone's phone trying to show the evidence. One review was especially funny to me though. Having seen the production and therefore Dan in the nude, a male gay blogger wanted to weigh in on whether Radcliffe was homosexual -- which apparently is a hot topic, and by the looks of that leather vest -- it's no wonder. This blogger claimed with great confidence that Radcliffe was (sigh) heterosexual -- but, wait!, could tell by looking at his "tacklebox." Having never heard a man's genitals referred to as such, or the act of deciphering a man's sexual preference from how it was hangin, I asked around. Gay or straight I could not find a man that had heard of either the term or the talent. Now, as a disclaimer I must point out that none of these men were British -- so maybe it's simply cultural.

      In any case, I'll do more research. I got my ticket to see for myself in January. Who bought the ticket for me? My husband. Who has, I guessed resigned to the fact that I've got a thing for the young man. And why not? His crush is on Beyonce -- who, last time I looked, was NOT in her 40's.

      Friday, November 14, 2008

      Pity and Nutrition

      One of the great disappointments of my childhood was that my mom would not let me get a cool lunchbox. Paper bags had served her well through 5 children and she was not about to change course for the sixth one. But she underestimated my ability to beg.

      I wanted a Brady Bunch lunch box something awful. I dreamed of bringing the Partridge Family to school with me every day.
      But my ma would not budge.

      "I'll spend all that money," she would say (meanwhile, how much could lunch boxes have cost in the early to mid-'70s??) "and then you'll end up liking some other TV show and want something different the next year."

      So my mother disagreed with lunchboxes in principle, and even if she DID change her mind -- she wanted me to take one lunchbox to the grave. Hard to concoct an argument to counter that when you're 7.

      But then I saw the lines of reasoning she would go for: Pity and Nutrition.

      Pity: Milk cost a dime. I explained to my mother that when she sent my lunch in a brown bag, the dime would routinely slip between the folds of paper at the bottom and I would be reduced to tears. Could she imagine her only daughter going without a healthy, vitamin and protein-packed beverage? Sniffle.

      Nutrition: Lunchboxes have Thermoses. You can pack all sorts of wonderfully nutritious soups in Thermoses, Mom. (P.S. I hated soup -- that is how desperate I was.)

      But somehow it worked! The next August she said I could get a lunchbox! But then declared that SHE would pick it out. Tearful, I agreed. And what did I get? The classic red plaid.

      My embarrassment at carrying that lunchbox for the next three years would only soften in my late teens when, consumed with punk chic, I carried a replica as my purse.

      Friday, November 07, 2008

      Survival Tips

      I have been told this is an absolutely true story...

      A friend was in line at a supermarket, in back of a very large woman. Despite the heat of the day, the woman was wearing a long coat. Then, as the woman took a step closer to the cashier, there was a resounding thud. My friend looked down to see a canned ham at the woman's feet. The cashier and other customers were also looking by this time.

      Now, you must stop and ask yourself, if I were this woman, what would I say at this point?

      Give up? The answer is:

      Look around aghast and demand,


      Wednesday, November 05, 2008

      This Good Feeling

      You could not wipe the smile off my face today. The only sensation I could compare it to was how I felt the day after the Red Sox won in 2004. It is the notion that anything is possible. No outcome is inevitable. And that, as Tennyson said, 'tis not too late to seek a newer world.

      But I also thought about something Deval Patrick, the first African American governor of Massachusetts said at his inauguration. He told the crowd to "remember this good feeling we have right now. Put it somewhere safe. Because the day will come when we will need it."

      God bless President-elect Obama and God bless America.

      Tuesday, November 04, 2008

      Close Your Eyes and Make a Wish

      I said a prayer and kissed my ballot for luck today.

      Monday, October 27, 2008

      Who am I? I Live Here!

      Back in the care-free pre-house days -- my husband (and then eventually babies too) lived in apartments in Somerville, MA. Known for its three story homes called "triple-deckers," Somerville was the one of the cheapest place to live -- and sometimes for good reason. You don't get the nickname "Slummerville" because you won any beauty contests. So, if you found a good one -- you stayed in it as long as you and the landlord could stand each other. Well at least we did. My husband and I both hate moving, so we stayed put. But lots of people were just passing through.
      Always on the second floor of the triple-deckers, we had to meet and stay pleasant with the stream of folks occupying upstairs and downstairs. It seems downstairs always had college students who could keep themselves pretty under control (Okay- once in my 8th month of pregnancy I had to stand in the doorway and intimidate the hell out of five boys who were blasting Sticky Fingers at 2:00 a.m. -- but no one was hurt, I promise). But the upstairs apartment was a much more exciting affair. To call them all "young professionals" would be stretching that term to its outer limits.

      There were several instances of young white men who were working on dissertations and all of them had Asian girlfriends.

      There was a guy who was somehow related to James Taylor. He wanted a bird feeder outside his window, but our landlady said no, because everyone knows birds attract mice. We became friendly enough with bird-loving-James-Tayloresque guy for me to trust him with watering my plants while we were away. He killed my African violets.

      There was a young woman who was the manager of a large homegoods store. She was the only person I knew who was in her twenties and had a Christmas tree bursting with ornaments. Then one day during the holiday season, a squirrel got into her apartment from the attic and trashed the place. We found out by hearing her scream.

      There were two guys named Seth and Jeff who played Peter Cetera songs on a casio keyboard and sang along really loudly. "I am a maaaan that will fiiiiight for your honor! I'll be your heroooooo...." Yeah, you get the drift.
      Then, there was the most exciting couple. A young man and woman who ran their own "business." They got chattier and chattier, more and more animated. They came and went at all hours as did their guests. They bought an expensive new car, announced that they might be moving, and then left after one night of frenzied packing. But before high-tailing it out of Dodge, they left us the gift of a stuffed animal for our soon-to-be-born child. A week or so later a guy who really honestly looked mob-connected knocked on our door and asked where the couple upstairs had gone. We kept shrugging and saying, "Sorry buddy," as good-naturedly as we could. Again, my large-pregnant-self may have been the reason he decided to leave us be -- but after that, we referred to the couple's gift as "Coke Bear."

      Monday, October 20, 2008

      10 Reasons I'm Cheering for the Phillies

      My red Sox did not make it to the World Series this year. A disappointment, but not a shock. I am 100% behind Philadelphia, and here's why:

      1. The Phillie Phanatic. In the spirit of my last post about mascots, the Phanatic is really a stand-out. Rather than just mocking people, he can be downright socially unacceptable and sexually suggestive with that weird long party-blower tongue and the belly-bump/pelvic-trust move he has. Now that is family entertainment.

      2. I was born in Camden, NJ -- right over the Ben Franklin Bridge from Philly.

      3. Philadelphia Hot Soft Pretzels. I had a warm(ish) soft pretzel the other day in Cambridge and I am here to tell you it sucked. Philadephia has incredibly good pretzels -- and spicy mustard to go with them. I mean, it is in Pennsylvania -- pretzel homeland of these United States.

      4. The Mummers. For those of you who do not know who the Mummers are, you have not lived until you see the drunken strut that is the Mummer's Parade. Picture Mardi Gras Vaudevillian Cross Dressing -- but with drinks.

      5. They boo Santa at the end of the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Yes this is unnecessarily mean -- but even as a little kid, I found it funny.

      6. Would be cheesesteaks if I ate meat. I'm told they are delicious, so if you are a meat-eater, go enjoy one in my place.

      7. The Phillies have lost more games than any other franchise in baseball. With over 10,000 losses -- here is an honor you have to have been around a long time to reach. And you have to have really sucked a lot of years.

      8. Tamp Bay Who? The Rays have not been around long enough to even have a history. I love my old time teams.

      9. The Philadelphia fans are never afraid to boo their own players. If your family can't be honest with you -- who can?

      10. The Phillies are not the Rays.

      Let's go Phillies -- Beat 'em bad!

      Tuesday, October 14, 2008

      If You Can't Take the Mascot -- Get Out of Chicago

      I caught my first sight of the White Sox mascot during the White Sox/Rays playoff last week. Turns out the thing is named "Southpaw," a reference to not only left-handed pitchers, but the south side of Chicago. Any who, the reason the thing got my attention was because he sat himself down in what could not have been a cheap seat directly behind the batters box. The Ray's pitcher had just stopped the game in order to demand a retooling of the pitcher's mound. It had rained before the game, and this pitcher was not liking the gravely substance that the Chicago grounds crew put at the base of the mound in order to counteract the dampness. Play stopped, grounds crew in, everyone starts digging and scraping while the pitcher stands by and occasionally taps his foot onto the area. When the game resumed, and Southpaw had taken his new space directly in the pitchers view, the mascot -- already completely distracting with his gigantic fuzzy green head, decided to make fun of the Ray's pitcher. He dramatically rubbed his eyes and then rocked his arms in a cradling motion over and over -- the universal gesture meaning "Cry Baby."

      I found this ridiculously funny. As I have said before, silly is very underrated. Silly and passive aggressive is even better. I kept hoping the pitcher would call time and complain. I couldn't wait for what the discussion with the ump might sound like.

      Pitcher: "He's mocking me, sir,"

      Ump: "Who? That green thing?"

      As far as I am concerned mascots can mock whom ever they please. While looking into Southpaw I came across list of current and former baseball mascots. Almost all of the former mascots were discontinued after they were beaten up by fans! Can you imagine? Drunken middle-aged men taking swings at something in fur and a too-large head...

      "Get the fuck outta they WAY! I can't see the game -- you FREAK!"

      Man, that's funny too. But not for the kids...Which reminds son and I got to go to part of the pre-All Star game festivities when it was held in Fenway. My son was a toddler in a backpack, excited to be at such an exciting event. He pointed at everything and had lots to say. Then the mascots from all the teams paraded around the field and my son got very quiet. "You okay?" I kept asking, but he didn't answer. Fast forward to a year later, when he woke up crying from a dream. I asked him what had scared him and he said, "That man with the ball head! Remember?" I didn't remember, until months later, when for some reason we saw a Mets game on TV and my son yelped. It was Mr. Mets, the mascot who scared my child as a toddler and haunted his dreams! Do you blame him?

      I knew there was some reason I didn't like the Mets.

      Wednesday, October 08, 2008

      Oh the Agony...

      I read something the other day that made me wince. It seems a Cubs fan is trying to auction off his loyalty on eBay. I don't think it's the guy in this picture, but who knows -- it could be. There's enough misery to go around in Chicago right now. For those of you who don't pay attention to Major League Baseball, the Cubs just tanked a post season...AGAIN. This marks 100 years since the club has won the World Series. Say What?!! Yes -- One Hundred Years. Damn.
      Much has been written about the phenomena of "Wait 'till next year." There's been much speculation about how people can stay loyal to a team even though they are let down over and over again. And not just over one lifetime -- but through generations.
      One of the most unexpected sights I encountered here in Massachusetts after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 were balloons, flowers and champagne bottles at graves. Then I heard story after story of people who went to graveyards all over New England (maybe the country) in order to celebrate with the fans who never got to see the day come to pass. I must say, a die-hard Sox fan myself, I do get it -- but...YIKES. Why do we do this to ourselves?
      A story comes to mind as one way to understand it. A journalist shared that he regretted his father was not alive to see the Red Sox win. It seems the father had been a loyal fan since boyhood, and had most tragically died of cancer in January 2004. But the journalist said that the thing he kept remembering was one of the last times he was able to talk with his dad. Ill and weak, his father beckoned his son to his bedside and asked, "Did we get Schilling?" -- referring to whether the Red Sox had won over Curt Schilling, the Ace pitcher, in trade negotiations. His son told them the Red Sox had him and his father smiled.
      That feeling of possibility can get human beings through so much. Even a failing economy, even illness, even a hundred-year drought. Well, not every human being I guess.
      Sorry buddy. I hope you get something for your trouble, but something tells me the Cubs have got you whether you like it or not.

      Wednesday, September 17, 2008

      Play Date with God

      I grew up in a Polish and Irish Roman Catholic home. Amongst all the kooky things this experience included (see many past postings) it never included going to bible camp, being asked to invite other little friends to church, or being sent to a Christian preschool. And so recent brushes with church-goin' folk have left me at a real disadvantage. Thank God, yes GOD, for my husband, the recovering Southern Baptist in this partnership, who has been my only tour guide and cultural interpreter.
      Brush #1: I watched the documentary Bible Camp. For those of you who have not heard of or seen it, it is the story of a real fundamentalist bible camp and the families who attend. I found it interesting until the adults put on a play for the children in which they wandered the room with a scroll of paper with hundreds names on it, asking, "Where are all these babies?!" Cut to a 3-year-old in the front row clutching a baby doll and looking panicked. Patiently, the adults explain that all the babies have been killed because of abortion. Oh no, I'm not kidding. When I looked at my husband with my mouth dropped open, he asked, "What did you expect?! It's fucking BIBLE CAMP! I wanted to turn it 20 minutes ago!"
      Brush #2: My son is friends with a very sweet little girl. They play wonderfully together, gone over each other's houses and had a blast. Her family seems as nice as they can be. So far so good. Then I get a phone call from her mom asking if my son would like to go bowling with them on Sunday after church and Sunday school. Wha? She explained that it was the Community Month in their church and her daughter picked my son to invite to their "Ask a Neighbor" day. After stumbling through a caught-by-surprise rendition of how my kids didn't belong to a Christian-organized-anything...not that anythings wrong with that...we don't have anything against Jesus or anything, I told the mom that I would ask my son if he felt like going. When I told my husband about it, he shook his head, saying, "Sneaky Methodists."
      In the end, my son did go. The review was that bowling was fun. I asked about the church and Sunday school part and he said that the Sunday school stuff was fine but the church part was boring. After a moment of further contemplation he observed, "The Jesus part was so annoying. I mean, I get it -- he died and it was because of people sinning. You don't have to keep saying it over and over again." Ah, to have an 8-year-old's clarity.
      Brush #3: A friend who lives in the southeast of these United States told me about a recent conversation with a coworker. It seems the coworker recommended a community camp as a way to cover the last week of summer vacation for my friend's preschooler. When she asked what the cost was, her coworker told her it was free. Skeptical, my friend asked why it was free. Well, wouldn't you know it? It's run by a Christian church. My friend did a stammered explanation similar to mine concerning her child's lack of church affiliation and then asked how much religious stuff was included. The coworker assured it that it was at a minimum -- you know, a couple of bible stories, prayer before lunch, no big deal. In fact, the camp was run on different themes for each week. The theme for the week in question? Hawaii.
      Why Hawaii? Because it is an example of how heathens can be converted? Because it's a paradise that also has volcanoes so that God can rain down lava on you and yours if you get out of line? Because Bobby Brady just had to pick up that tiki thing and get all mixed up in false gods, nearly ruining the Brady's fabulous vacation???
      When the coworker was asked what the Hawaiian theme week would include, she said, "Oh you know, grass skirts, flower necklaces, fun stuff." Ah ha! Culture!
      In order to understand this better I brought the scenario to my interpreter husband. It has since provided weeks of jokes combining Christianity and luaus in fun-filled camp activities.
      Such as:
      Poi in the Gospel
      Jesus loves you and coconut drinks
      And, my favorite,
      Hula for Christ.

      Tuesday, September 02, 2008

      Sick, Tired and Sick-n-tired

      Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph -- you name it. It has been a summer of crawling out from under some stupid group of illnesses: severe anemia, high blood pressure, menopause -- Oy, enough!

      My hope is that I can once again return to the blog world, read about clever stuff and hopefully write something mildly entertaining now and again. I mean, holy crap -- the Red Sox are in the Wild Card race and I hear there's a presidential election going on. You'd think there'd be something to write about, after all.

      So here I go.

      Friday, June 06, 2008

      Family Intervention at IKEA

      For years and years I heard about the wonders of IKEA: how the furniture, rugs, lamps, dishes -- you name it -- were hip-looking and cheap as hell. But, interestingly enough, Massachusetts had no IKEA store. In fact , the closest one was over the George Washington Bridge in New Jersey! So, when one finally opened just South of Boston, I was psyched. My husband and I did our homework, checked out the website, had a good idea what we wanted, but we were also kind of excited to experience the international phenom that is IKEA. So, on a Saturday we put our two children in the car and suggested that although this was in deed a trip to a furniture store -- this might even be fun.
      First sign we were in for trouble: the building and parking lot were overwhelming in their size -- and yet we still only managed to get one of the last parking spaces in the whole joint. But, we were still game -- even after walking the length of several football fields to the entrance.
      Then things got weird.
      At some point early on, my husband and I realized that we were being herded in a specific path. (He and I don't take easily to being herded. We attribute it to our on-going struggles to shake off the effects of being raised within organized religions.) Then we were handed a checklist that we didn't understand and a tiny pencil, like the ones you get at miniature golf courses. We started shuffling through display rooms with countless other customers, dutifully following the arrows on the floor, but kept wondering aloud, "Where are the bookcases?" rooms -- we just wanted to buy some bookcases! When we finally saw something close to what we wanted in one of these faux-rooms, we couldn't find a price on it. It took a while to find an IKEA folk, but when we did she responded brightly that we had to write down what we wanted on the checklist and then get all the way to the end of the shuffle-path to find it in bins. Bins? I had no idea furniture could come in bins.
      This predicament started wearing my family thin almost immediately. The lighting was too bright, there were way too many people, and there were way too many things to look at, period. By the time we got to the place where the bookcases lived, the heart of the shopping experience, my kids were at each others' throats and then turned on us. "Why are we still here?!" they pleaded. "When can we go home?!" We tried our best to make our choices quickly, but the checklist was still throwing us, and despite the fact that there seemed to be lots of individuals who had the trade-mark Swedish flag-colored IKEA shirts, no one seemed particularly ready to assist us. But somehow, we made our selection and realized that the numbers to the right told us what BIN to go to in order to find the bookcases. Got it! "We're thirsty?!" my kids whined.
      "We are too, but we're almost there!" we rallied.
      Several departments more through the shuffle-path and we were practically dragging each other, human chain style, in order to make it to the end.
      Went to the correct aisle, found the correct bin and...half of what we needed WAS NOT IN STOCK!
      "Are we done?" my kids asked hopefully.
      "Jesus, I guess," I responded.
      After wrestling half of what we needed into our car, I mentioned aloud that we would have to come back for the rest of the components. My eight-year-old took this as a cue to plead: "Please do it when I'm at school!"
      Lessons Learned for next trip to IKEA:
      • Find out what time they open on any day but Saturday or Sunday
      • Check stock availability on line before going to the store
      • Bring a canteen and compass
      • Leave word with a love one when you expected to return
      Note: I wish I could take credit for the ball-crawl picture above -- the trip to IKEA might have ended on a much more fun note -- but I got it from a website called "Writer's Block Magazine."

      Monday, June 02, 2008

      How I Used to Be Funny (Maybe)

      I have been gone a while -- from the blogshere that is. This has been for several reasons:
      • The community outreach project I run is finishing up a big grant and trying to russel up some new money.
      • Both of my children play baseball in the spring -- on two different teams -- which means lots of games and practices and interesting conversations with other parents (see previous post).
      • My husband travels for work in the spring -- which means single parenting (and God bless you all who do it for real, 24/7.)
      But also, or more likely as a result, two more things played heavily in the last couple of months:
      I got sick -- as in "You need to get an MRI to rule out anything scary" sick.
      I stopped being funny.

      So here's more: The MRI showed nothing scary -- but getting the MRI was VERY SCARY. I hate small places, kids -- and an MRI is nothing but a small place. So I guess I am not dying but I am still feeling ill -- so the tests continue. Meanwhile I am getting acupuncture, which seems to be helping -- and will contribute, at least, to future posts about my groovy-goolie acupuncturist team/married couple.
      And then there is the funny -- or lack there of. Besides having less time and energy to write, I did not feel funny or anything close to sharp. So I didn't write. I watched Bugs Bunny a lot, trying to get the funny back. But I kept thinking -- "Now that is funny, and I am not." I mean, how can you top Bugs swatting away a giant bull, snorting at him from behind, exclaiming "Stop steamin up my tail! What are ya tryin to do? Wrinkle it?!"

      So I ask any of you who might stumble over this blog to be kind and encouraging. Not only am I working on getting well, I am nursing a funny bone and I can use all the help I can get.
      Heard any good jokes lately?

      Tuesday, April 22, 2008

      Take Me Out to the Ballgame?

      Having grown up with five brothers, I had a rocky road into figuring out how female relationships worked. The communication was the toughest part. I found growing up that men pretty much said what was on their minds, while women used all sorts of complicated double meanings, kooky eye contact that changed the meaning entirely, and switcheroos -- in which you thought you were going to discuss one thing, only to end up talking about another.

      The ironic thing is that my chosen profession includes talking with people (often times women) who are in some kind of crisis or high stress situation. This has been the case for so many years that my husband refers to the show Intervention as "your people." Somehow, it has all worked so far. But...

      These two sides of my life recently collided at, of all places, baseball practice.

      My son has played with roughly the same group of kids for three seasons -- which means, I have interacted with the same group of moms. The first year, I took myself out -- mostly because I would use the endless innings in which kids were learning to pitch (and sides batted around) to catch up on paperwork or watch my daredevil younger son on the adjoining playground. The central group of moms took this as a snub -- and in the coming years, a reason to not remember my name. The second season, I helped during warm-ups and some practices -- and was, frankly to my surprise -- the only woman who did this in the whole town. Freak Mark number two. Season three I gave it the ole college try and sat with the ladies -- only to be largely ignored and not included in their reindeer games.

      So, when I arrived at one of the first practices this year -- 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday -- I decided to sit alone and skip the whole thing. Soon enough, a new mom came and sat next to me. She introduced herself and asked which one was my son. When I returned the pleasantry, she reported, "I've got two kids on the team -- only they've got two different fathers and my ex has his other kid on the team too. So I'm here watchin three half-brothers. They get along, but the one got ADHD, the other one -- we don't know what his story is. Just rude. But what do you expect? He was born 3 months early and weighed two and a half pounds."

      Oy, I'm not working, I thought. "Jeez." I commented -- which apparently was more than enough encouragement to go on.

      She explained that she had grown up in this town and knew everybody who had. She observed the other moms and declared that several where "no bargain." "Like my neighbor," she went on. "I've known her since kindergarten and she knows I went down a tough road, but I've been sober since the Superbowl, so fuck her. Yeah, I blacked-out and don't remember a damn thing about the Patriots -- so I said -- forget it, and got engaged to a sober guy. But anyway,"

      (Author's note: this woman is talking to the side of my head. In my failed attempt to discourage her, I am not giving her any eye contact. Conveniently for her, she does not seem to need any.)

      "The thing is, my neighbor still acts like I'm some kinda head-case -- when everybody knows that the guy she married is gay. Been gay since the third grade! So they're divorced now -- so ha-ha, I guess your shit does smell, Cheryl."

      Being ignored by the mean moms was starting to look pretty dreamy. But it wasn't until the started describing the fight she was in that resulted in her losing her front 4 teeth -- and the oral surgery required to replace them that I excused myself to the bathroom and never came back to sit with her. I wondered if this made me a mean mom too? Or am I just acknowledging that it is a long way until baseball season is over and self-preservation is golden?

      All I know is the empty patch of grass on the hill behind the dugout is mine -- and I'm bringing paperwork with me next time.

      Sunday, March 23, 2008

      God, Sex, and/or Quarterbacks

      It is difficult to live in Massachusetts and despise the quarterback of the New England Patriots. To say a word against Tom Brady during the historic winning streak this year was to chance backlash from the sweetest of folks.

      TOM BRADY?? What could anyone have against Tom Brady??

      You'd think he was the baby Jesus!

      Well, he bugs the crap out of me -- the kind of jock who was the opposite of my black-clad, pot-smoke-smellin-self in high school. Sure there's other stuff: he left a pregnant girlfriend to date a super model, he routinely wears a Yankee cap -- but it really all comes down to the "My shit don't smell" factor. So shoot me -- not only did I speak against this christ-child-wanna-be -- I also refused to buy my seven-year-old a Tom Brady poster. I told him that he could buy one with his own nickels and dimes -- but that I didn't want to spend money on any picture of the yutz.

      Now I understand my son wanting it -- and even being ticked-off when I wouldn't buy it, but that is nothing compared to the number of adults who have been shocked by my actions.

      One friend told me I was a control freak -- and that I better get ready for parenting through a very rough adolescence.

      One told me I shouldn't impose my own taste on something that was to go in my son's room.

      One told me I was the meanest mommy (okay, that was my son.)

      My response was that beside the fact that I really DON'T have to buy something for my child just because he wants it -- I am not raising my children in some opinion-free zone! They are encouraged to share how they feel about stuff -- and I do the same. When did it become popular to believe that parents should not let their kids know their personal opinion for fear that they will stunt their intellect or the sanctity of their childhood. What if it were porn? Would I be obligated to buy that for my son because he wanted it?

      Now, don't get me wrong. My son knows this household is still free to be you and me. You can like Tom Brady. You can invite him to your birthday party. AND you can buy his poster with the money you squeezed out of raking the leaves last fall. Make those choices: today it is which athlete you like, later on it will be which kid you think it hot, or what church you want to join. God, sex, and/or quarterbacks -- we all can weigh in on our own, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

      So, what did my son learn? He decided to become a pollster. Mom thinks Brady is a jerk (check)and would not spring for the poster. Dad likes Brady just fine (check) and made sure a little boy version of the quarterback's jersey was underneath the tree on Chistmas morning.

      Monday, March 17, 2008

      What You Know If You're Irish For Real

      On this Saint Patrick's Day, I am reminded of my connections to the fair isle. Having not yet made it to Ireland myself, I rely on my mother's connection to the place and a few friends who grew up there. And then there is the fact that I live in Massachusetts, which somehow makes you Irish-by-association. But with all those factors considered, my very favorite story about Ireland involves my friend Kerry and a ditzy Irish-wanna-be girl.

      Kerry was raised in Ireland and came over to Boston during the big wave of visa-waving young adults who fled their homeland in the mid-80's. He has since come to own several very successful Irish bars -- and looks as if he had to brawl for every single dollar. Kerry is not tall, but is strong, has jet black hair, ice-blue eyes, a nose that's cleary been broken several times, and a scar that runs the length of his cheek. Let's just say -- from the look of him, you'd never try and stiff him on a tab. But the other thing to know about him is he's a big mush when it comes to his wife, kids, and friends -- and that he has a very quick wit that waits for no one.

      Once at a party I was standing beside him when a ditzy, chatty woman started talking to Kerry simply because he had a brogue. Kerry has pointed out to me before that a brogue helps if you're running a bar in Boston, but everywhere else it can be a pain in the ass because, as he said, "You're either seen as the ambassador to Air Lingus or people are after your Lucky Charms." Plus, in this case, we were kinda drunk. And so, when this woman approached him grinning from ear to ear opening the conversation with a too-excited, "Are you from Ireland??" Kevin just sighed and nodded.

      "Ohhhhh I love Ireland," she gushed. "We went last year and I just loved everything about it! The landscape is so beautiful and the people are so friendly! I want to live there!" and then finally stopped and took a breath, gazing at Kerry dreamily and then wondered aloud, "Why would you ever leave?"

      Kerry took a deep drink of his beer, leaned forward, looked the ditzy chick in the eye and said in his deepest brogue, "Because it fookin sooks."

      Yes, the moral of my story is that Ireland sucks. Kerry's message to us all is that he could have stayed in Ireland and been a "fookin bootcha" as his butcher-father and grandfather before him -- or he could have got the hell out and been rich in America.

      Somewhere along the way he learned how to pour a great pint of Guinness and what else do you want on this day of pride in one's heritage? God bless and may you be in heaven an hour before the devil knows you're dead.

      Monday, January 28, 2008

      Cake Me

      I make it a habit to ask people about their favorite birthdays and also their favorite birthday cake. My husband's was from childhood and featured plastic depictions of the Beatles. How cool is that? Drum set and all.

      When I was little, I remember being in awe of a classmate who had a Barbie cake. For those of you who have never seen such a thing -- it involves placing a Barbie in the middle of a dome cake and then icing it to look like her ballgown skirt. When I asked my mom to make me one (Barbie cakes were not available in bakeries back in the day -- although I am told that now they are) she told me, "No way." My mom was really not the baking type -- and she also thought it was a little gross to stick a doll in a cake.
      So I settled for the traditional one with the frosting roses, white cake and white buttercream on the outside. What is strange though is that very cake is now my favorite kind. Interesting what adaptation can do.
      My favorite birthday has multiple answers -- which I allow in my version of this game. One was when I turned nine and my father returned from Japan with a beautiful geisha doll for me. The other was when I turned thirty and many friends celebrated with me at a since-demolished but wonderful dive called The Ratskellar (The Rat to us regulars). There was a great live band, a lot of beer, and a biker who wanted to kiss me.
      What was (were) your favorite birthday(s)?
      What is your favorite kind of birthday cake?