Thursday, November 30, 2006

NASCAR, basketball...and spelling bees

On a recent visit to Florida, we hit the local Wal-Mart. When you live in New York City, where there's no Wal-Mart or Target, you too will make them high-priority stops on your vacation.
This recent visit has only furthered my amazement at the fascination people have with spelling bees. I've posted twice about this phenomenom twice before I know, but I still have to show you this:

That's right, ESPN presents to you "The Best of The National Spelling Bee". Do you know what this means? I don't know what's scarier - that ESPN has produced this dreck or that a spelling bee video with the words "Best of..." in it implies that this is not the only one.

And it gets better. Better than the cover photo of those three kids, looking all hopeful and poignant, almost touching the soul. Almost. Then you remember that right there are three no-hope suckers, who probably get noogied on the playground and like sitting over a dictionary, spelling like it's going out of style.

It gets better when you read the back cover and realize that someone in Copywriting got a wee bit carried away. Just a touch.

"Watch with bated breath as you relive all the best moments from the last seven years of the National...Spelling...zzzzz....zzzzz...what? Oh, sorry."

I mean, you don't want to miss those controversial moments, right? The human drah-ma. Pit the English kid against the American kid in trying to spell favorite/favourite and it's better than anything the WWF has to offer.

This beatdown has been brought to you by the letter U

Cladam, I think I've found your Christmas gift.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The answer was: A sneeze

On Thanksgiving, there's nothing to do other than wait for dinner to be ready and watch lots of bad of TV. So in the spirit of family togetherness, and to drag my dad away from his computer, C and I got out the Trivial Pursuit yesterday for a game with him. A 1981 edition of the game, no less.

I pull out a question-and-answer card. Reading the question, I start laughing, imagining many nights of bad Tex-Mex food.

Me: "Okay, Science and Nature. What human bodily function occurs at the breakneck speed of 200 mph?"

C busts out with: "Sperm!"

I just completely lose it, while my dad sits there, looking mildly horrified.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A very special birthday holla

A belated birthday holla for my oldest best friend, JMS. I'm so high school that way - I've got a long-distance best friend, a high-school best friend, a college best get the idea. I also have a supermarket best friend who I shop for groceries with, one that goes with me to the bank, and a male best friend for when C refuses to agree with my point of view and I need to be right. See, I can't do anything by myself.

Anyway, JMS and I met in the fourth grade on her second day of school as a new kid. In the interests of accuracy, I will confess that I was the designated Class Dweeb. I personally didn't see myself as a Class Dweeb and knew I was far more superior than the rest of them on the Biological Food Chain, but no matter. They still picked on me, beat me up, and stole my things.

Which is why I love this thing called Time. Because it happens, you know. And when I ran into one of my cruelest tormenters several years ago, I was comforted to see she was a rather acne-addled, overweight, sour thing frowning at me and her sister catching up on old times.

And let's not even go there with MySpace, which I love. How else would I find out that the kid who stole my glasses during gym - repeatedly - is now a janitor at a correctional facility. What was that? Oh yes, Karma is most definitely a bitch. And I'm not mature enough to pretend I don't enjoy it.

But going back, JMS was my only friend for a large portion of grade school. This was a result of her defending me that second day at her new school. For the next several years, I was the latchkey kid moderately protected by her popularity from school bullies, until I discovered the thing that made me what I am today: my snarkiness. After that, some scores were settled and life went on.
And with that, I present to JMS the following gifts:

Shoulder pads. As my friend and confidante, you've got to have some pretty big shoulders and I'm sure even hers get tired sometimes:

Yes, those might just make the cut

A pug puppy to add your current little pack. They're ugly, noisy little things that keep me awake all night whenever I visit her, but she loves 'em.

Pugs = Marty Feldman in canine form

A birthday at Disney World. Yup, you read right - the girl loves all things Disney. The only person who's allowed to make fun of her for this is me. You make fun of her and I'm coming over there and kicking your ass.

Photo from the last time someone tried to make fun of her in my presence

She even got married there, rehearsal dinner and everything. Because I love her that much, I endured. But not without the help of getting tanked at her wedding as the maid of honor.

And finally, an airline ticket to come back to come see me in her old stomping grounds. Because I don't think I can take another trip to Orlando, as previously recalled in this blog. No, I don't think I could.

You have no excuses now, missy!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Camp Monroe fixation continues...

Disclaimer: Since this was post was published, the definition on that I linked to has been since changed. So for those of you who erroneously think I authored the original definition which did refer to the Camp Monroe same sex showering society (which I personally find hilarious):

Get. Off. My. Back.

Now, back to the original post:

And obviously I'm not the only former constituent that has been permanently scarred by their stay at this illustrious summer camp and Chef Henry . The feelings are such that the place has carved its little place into the tree of modern lexicon.

My jaw did drop indeed when I read this. A secret same-sex showering society? Maybe I got out of there better than I thought!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cheese-tastic confession No. 2

In deference to my love of all things cheesy and ghost-related, I have another confession to make. It is up to you whether this is worse than my Kelly Clarkson admission.

I love Ghost Whisperer. And not only do I love Ghost Whisperer, but I am the proud owner of the Season 1 DVD (ducking tomatoes).

Hey! I’m not alone, ‘kay? Unlike Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi, which legitimately Freaks Me Out, I know this show makes ghosts the most un-scary thing since Casper. But I don’t care. There’s a reason why me and millions of other people park our asses on the couch to watch Jennifer Love Hewitt and co-star, the False Eyelashes, help ghosts cross over every Friday night.

"I am the ghost of your real eyelashes. Either you match the ten percent the falsies get or we sell our story to Star."

Like Miz Kelly cast her spell onto me, I got sucked into this show. Put the word "ghost" in the title of a show and I'm all "oooohhhh, I gotta see this!". I have a need to satisfy my Inner Vern. It was only several episodes in did I realize that:

This show is not scary whatsoever


I am watching the millennial version of Highway to Heaven

False eyelashes, take note - Michael Landon's hair got twenty-five percent in that show

But it was too late. Melinda and Jim and all those smiley folks of Grandview insinuated themselves into my brain and They're. Not. Letting. Go.

Maybe my enjoyment is tinged with a grudging respect for Melinda. I mean, the girl sees ghosts all day! If I were her, I'd be wrapped up in a comfy white jacket, drooling on myself in a padded cell somewhere. She'll have the ghosts of burn victims and people with eyes all whited out, stalking her and making dolls come alive, and she's just chatting away at them like it's normal. I mean, alright, the show is cheesy, but when they start pulling out the dolls? Hello?!? Are dolls that come alive not some of the creepiest shit you've ever seen?

Seriously, if that were my life? I'd be keeping the adult diaper industry in business all by myself.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Chef Henry, I hardly knew ye

Since my birthday post to Cindy, I have been reflecting a lot on my time at Camp Monroe. In particular, I have reflected much on the camp's cook, Chef Henry, and his prep cooks, Ben-Wah and Ben-Well. Listen, I know what you’re thinking and even I couldn’t make that up!

I realize now that the camp's owner, Stanley, had no business putting my 16-year-old self and peers in near proximity to these individuals. I suppose that on top of charging us room and board, making us slave away all day, and serve snot-nosed kids three meals a day for eight weeks, they were going to break down all of our teenaged defenses by making us work with the kitchen staff. I can personally attest to this fact, having had a meltdown after a carrot whizzed by my head in the sixth week. Entry into the real world begins at Camp Monroe.

There are really not enough words to explain Chef Henry. I was at my parents' yesterday and could not find the picture of him I had once taken, just for kicks. That could be because I did not want to be reminded. And maybe it's better that way. I wouldn't want to be responsible for what happens to you upon viewing of his visage. Think along the lines of The Ring.

Although his origins and background were a complete mystery to pretty much everyone, I’m thoroughly convinced that Chef Henry was a byproduct of post-World War II Germany. In addition, whisperings of “The War” (probably the Korean War) and its ensuing trauma surrounded him. So on top of losing two of his fingers, his hair, a few teeth, and seemingly his mind, he also lost all fashion sense - hence the chef’s hat perched jauntily on top of his ill-fitting toupee.

Simply put, Chef Henry was not right in the head; each day was a matter of life or death for us waitstaff. You think I'm joking, but I'm not. An older generation will tell you the hardships they suffered and how they had to walk through the snow four miles every day to get to school. I’m telling you that I worked as a Camp Monroe waitress in a time before Xanax existed.

Granted, some days you walked out of the kitchen relatively unscathed. Other days were not complete without the “Chef Henry salute”, which consisted of him waving his three-fingered hand, a butcher knife pointed at you in the other, and screaming in that crazy accent: “Get the book out!!!!”.

I lived in a certain amount of fear of Chef Henry, as we all did. At any moment he could freak out and when he did, hilarity ensued. Imagine at least six teenagers falling over each other with their trays in a domino effect, doing their damndest to get out of the kitchen as fast as possible. It got to the point that I tried to avoid eating hot food, as he was responsible for the preparation and distribution of it. Therefore, I gained 15 pounds stuffing my face with bread from the pantry and whatever cans of Chef Boyardee I could smuggle in, eating it cold out of the can.

Meet my new best friend, the can opener

The amount of bacteria and starch I introduced to my stomach was necessary, because:

A) His freak-outs unnerved me (and I was not alone).
B) That cheap toupee sitting on top of his bald pate really bothered me. I had visions of it softly shedding into our oatmeal.
C) Who really knows where those fingers ended up???

Can you really blame Cindy and I for trying to order that pizza?

The icing on the cake was (pause again) Ben-Wah and Ben-Well. Respectively from Pakistan and France, they stayed fast to their thick mustaches and short shorts, reminiscent of a era long ago.

Magnum P.I. - The patron saint of summer camp prep cooks everywhere

There were whisperings around the camp about these two. The camp song began with "Friends, friends, friends..." but they were rumored to be more than friends and didn't mind ogling the male staff either. But I didn’t care. Ben-Wah - Pakistan's answer to Freddie Mercury - had my back and snuck me the odd bowl of soup throughout the summer. And those illicit bowls of soup replenished necessary nutrients denied to me, thanks to Chef Henry’s frequent flashbacks to Korea.

Yes, my time at Camp Monroe was a learning experience and I wonder from time to time whatever happened to Chef Henry. But who knows? Maybe he discovered the joys of Xanax and good hair plugs, and is now in the company of business titans like Bruce Wasserstein and Rupert Murdoch?

All I know is - Stanley Felsinger, I want my childhood back.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Not-politically-correct random

As a media freak who's back working in the media industry, I can understand the impact the loss of Ed Bradley has, in and out of the industry. But because I have no filter for my mind, I can't help myself...

When you report for jury duty downtown, they make you watch a video about why it's so good to serve as a juror. And because Ed Bradley hosts it, it's almost believable - it makes you damn proud to be sitting in a room, staring at pea green walls, doing your civic duty. If they showed that video en masse, people would totally be lining up at the door to sign up for jury duty. So I've been wondering this all day:

What's going to happen to that video?

Happy anniversary

A lot has been going on this week, but definitely not the least was C and mine’s one-year wedding anniversary on Monday. I won’t bore you with what we did and a recap of our year, and to be honest – that’s nunya biz.

What I will say is that it’s essentially also the one year anniversary of us living together and I think we’ve both learned a lot from that.

So, as a result of this experiment, I promise to C that:

- I will fold the towels after a shower, rather than flinging them over the shower door as I’m wont to do…yes, I know this would take away a few seconds from my morning coffee, but I love you that much.

- My daily re-enactment of Hansel and Gretel, starring dirty paper products as The Crumbs, will stop as of now. No more used tissues, dirty napkins, and paper towels all over the apartment. Even in the pockets of your sweatshirt that I like to wear when I walk Zoe.

- The elephant in the apartment in the morning (otherwise known as Moi) has left the building. I will be quiet while you are asleep after working the night shift. No more sounds of clattering spoons, tripping over things, and tap-tapping away at the keyboard. Well, I’ll try anyway.

In return, you must promise that:

- You will stop using our “good” kitchen knives as makeshift tools and slicing devices in our home. This partcularly includes the kitchen scissors that's included in the block. And yes, where I come from, they're Kitchen Scissors and not regarded as an alternative to pliers. Cease and desist from using it in any other manner except for the preparation of food.

- You will never, ever again step on any furniture (especially the sofa) with your work boots on. The same work boots that travel in close proximity to airplanes, along with the oil and grease they produce. Actually, this rule applies to any shoes you may be wearing.

- You will not leave out a package of potato chips in the open again where I can find them. This is for your benefit, as well as mine.

Do we got a deal? :)

As for anyone else there you have it - the secrets to a happy marriage.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

New York City Marathon...sigh, again

Run, Forrest, run!

Every year, a typically quiet Sunday in my neighborhood gets ruined, thanks to the New York City marathon. I pity the fool who's trying to sleep off a hangover right now, because ain't nobody sleeping through the noise of music and cheering that has taken over the neighborhood.
The crowd is whipped into a frenzy as a certain one-balled Texan without his bicycle jogs on by.
As I look out my window and stare at these people cheering the runners on, I have to wonder: Aren't they bored? They're standing around in the cold, praying their mom/brother/friend who's running is not a Turtle, but a Hare in this race, so they can get out of Dodge as fast as they can.
It's every runner's worst nightmare: A giant Poland Spring bottle, without any water in it
Since I live on mile 17 of the marathon, I'll let all you supportive marathon watchers in on a secret: at this point in the race, the runners don't give a shit whether you're cheering them on. All they want for you is to put them and their burning lungs out of their misery.

Listen Friend of Bridget, unless you're running alongside of her screaming the words, she's not feeling the love right now.

And then they're gone. Poof, that's it. All done in ten seconds. You came, you waited, you saw, and now it's time to go home.

I'm sorry, but what's the fun in that?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

But Mama, it is not like the pilgrim in the book

A birthday shout out is in order for my long time friend, Cindy, in Israel.

In one of those weird twists of fate, we first befriended each other in the second grade. I moved away, then we wound up going to the same high school, and becoming best friends. Then she went away to college and two years later, transferred to NYU where I was a student. Now she’s been living in Israel, but who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be crossing the Sahara and we’ll bump into each other at the local oasis. Life is weird like that.

Anyway, first and foremost, a big birthday holla from our favorite boy band way back when. Yes, I know this hurts what little street cred I have left. But these were the ones who gave us reason to practice our “concert faces” and seriously contemplate our outfits for the hard-hitting impressions we wanted to make, over the heads of thousands of other screaming 15-year old girls….

Donnie and the boys say: "Woah-ohhh-ohhh-ohhh, happy birthday!"

And let’s not forget Camp Monroe – the Jewish summer camp where we violated kosher dietary laws by trying to sneak a pepperoni pizza in. Only to have the pizza truck jingle jangle right in front of the office, forcing Stanley the owner to read us the riot act and make us it eat in the parking lot, like we were second class citizens.

And the kids from Degrassi Junior High would like to thank you for your support, during the many hours we were supposed to be studying and not practicing our Russian accents out of sheer boredom:

"Yo, what's that?"

"It's a birthday card for Cindy."

"With a smoove gesture like that, she'll be digging your Garfunkel 'fro for sure!"

And in closing, I would be posting a matzo ball, if only Blogger would let me, to represent the various Matzo Balls we attended. That would represent the numerous times spent at China Club, Au Bar, and the like, fending off advances from Woody Allen types looking for their Annie Halls.

Happy Birthday, shayna maidel!