Friday, September 30, 2005

The Darndest Things

Scene: Fourth grade corridor of our daughter's elementary school on Back-to-School Night. The walls are decorated with the children's "All About Me" posters.

We admire our daughter's artwork and her love of bubble gum, hatred of vegetables and wish for world peace.

Then another child's poster catches my eye. Because in the "Things I Hate" space he has pasted the heads of Oprah and Dr. Phil. As I move closer for a better look, I see he has also scrawled "Bush" in between the magazine cut-outs.

My only question is, "Who is this kid, and how can I get him to marry my daughter?"

That Crystal Banister Table Lamp gets an A+

It is somewhat disturbing when you meet your daughter's teacher for the first time and think, "I believe Miss C. is young enough that I could have given birth to her." Luckily, given my shallow mind, this thought is soon replaced by, "Great shoes!" (For the record, a black stiletto pump with white trim.)

Anyway, I digress. Miss C. starts her talk to the parents by telling of her six years of teaching experience. She then adds that she also often takes on additional part time work --- in the local Restoration Hardware.

There is something very wrong with an experienced teacher having to work in retail on the side (or at least a joke that I haven't been able to come up with. Feel free to add your own.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Image Projection 101

There have been many times I've thought how much easier life would be if I were a man.

Don't get me wrong -- I enjoy being a girl. But face it, just the simple act of being born a white male in this grand ole land of ours gives one a lifelong leg up on the competition.

Sure, guys have that whole having-to-repress-your-emotions burden, but I'm a card-carrying member of the burying-stuff-until-it-manifests-itself-as-a-neurosis club anyway.

But I digress...

Boys and girls, our lecture today explores the sexual divide as it pertains to fashion. More specifically, fashion as it relates to image projection as it relates to attending the grade school function commonly referred to as "Back to School Night" as it relates to how I will be spending my evening.

For those not familiar with the beast, Back to School Night is the September event where parents go to their children's classroom, sit in the teeny tiny little plastic chairs suitable only for grade school butts and listen to the teacher's talk about curriculum, all the while experiencing flashbacks of the boredom of their own school days.

And while you are doing your best to at least maintain the illusion of hanging on the teacher's every word, you will also be sizing up the other parents. At least I always expect someone will be sizing me up (and ridiculing me later.) So I will need to put on my game face (and game attire.)

That's where the image projection thing comes in. Because if I make the wrong first impression I might spend the next five years pretending to be Martha Stewart to make up for it. (Although the jail time might be a nice little retreat at this point in my life...)

For the male of the species (as in my husband) the answer to the "what to wear" question is easy: khaki pants and button-down shirt. Office casual, if you will.

Whereas, I must choose from a menu of "looks":

Fashion-forward Mom
Tasteful and Tailored Mom
Retro-chic Mom
Vixen Mom

Because at any given time I can be any one of the above. (Note: Vixen Mom usually only shows up when alcohol is involved; and although my husband is very fond of her, she rarely leaves the house.)

Of course, each look involves the careful selection of the appropriate accessories. I'd conclude that accessorizing was some sort of male domination plot (you know, to keep the female brain occupied with minutia so women can't get all uppity on them) if I didn't enjoy it so much myself.

My "style" was once described (on reality TV no less, but we won't go there now) as "Hugh Hefner if he shopped at Old Navy." As in, I wear something akin to pajamas all day long unless I am leaving the house -- but cotton (as in Old Navy loungewear) as opposed to Hef's silk pjs. (You know, if you have to explain a concept this much, it's probably not worth conceiving in the first place...)

However, loungewear is not PTA-approved garb.

There are certain other lines that must not be crossed at a school function:

No cleavage. Little Suzie will never have a play date with your daughter if Suzie's mom catches Suzie's dad sneaking a look down your blouse.

No peekage. This one is a more difficult issue because it can escape detection until one is sitting in the teeny kid chair with parents on all sides...and then comes the ugly realization that one's gaping back waistband has exposed more than one's sparkling personality.

Anyway, at this point I'm thinking I'm going to go with the combination of Fashion-forward and Mom-Next-Door commonly referred to as "Didn't you get that at Target?"

And maybe I'll put aside my triple-skull drop earrings until Halloween.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

My Dad's Name Is Earl

And my Grandfather's name is Earl. So you might say I had more than the usual amount of interest in the NBC's new comedy "My Name is Earl."

There aren't a whole lot of Earls in our neck of the woods. And I always thought my grandparents were a little nuts to call him by his middle name of Earl when he had a somewhat more conventional first name. (You'd think his father, Earl Sr,. would've known better.) But my dad did manage to be a very cool "Duke" in college (as in "Duke of Earl")

Duke, er, Earl is fond of saying that the only other people he's met with his name have been farmers or black. (For the record, he is neither.) In the very least, he can now add small-time-crook-trying-to-make-good-TV-character to his list. (For the record, he is not that either.)

The advance word on this show was so good, I didn't think it would live up to the hype. But I couldn't even count the number of times my husband laughed out loud during last week's episode. And he's usually more of a laughing-on-the-inside kind of guy.

There were the kind of lines in that show (particularly the voiceover stuff) that I aspire to in my writing. Note that I said "aspire." Unfortunately, in my case I'm coming up with my (theoretically) funniest stuff when I'm drifting off to sleep and those clever lines are long gone by the time I actually start to now...

O.K., enough of my little endorsement. I can only hope tonight's show is as well done as episode 1.

If it is, the only real loser will probably be my dad. The show's success will mean he's probably going to have to deal with the title (and whatever goofy comments people throw his way about being "Earl") for a long time.

NBC's official site for the show

Sunday, September 25, 2005

I Am the Pot...

...calling the kettle black (although I prefer "ebony" or maybe "onyx.")

In retrospect, I had some nerve being disturbed by Mr. Tweezers (as chronicled in my earlier blog post.) Because I am currently in the process of extracting myself from an orgy of obsessiveness, the likes of which have rarely been seen outside of a padded cell.

You see, my daughter just had this thing called a birthday. Which evidently gives me a free pass to preoccupy myself with minutia to the point of inspiring insomnia, anxiety and general crankiness.

In our suburban environment, there is a certain expectation that one will throw a party for one's young child that includes all of said child's classmates. And on paper, it's a good idea -- you get to meet the kids your kid is talking about and also their parents, theoretically fostering friendship and other warm fuzzy stuff.

It just doesn't work that way for me.

First problem is deciding on the venue. I had just three criteria:

1) Not Chuck E. Cheese
2) Not too expensive
3) Not Chuck E. Cheese

After much research on alternate venues, we decided on a gymnastics party. A month before the desired date, I called to reserve the space. The lovely gentleman who answered the phone said "Oh, we're booking for December now..."

Next choice: a roller skating party. Only problem -- the birthday girl had never roller-skated. So two Saturday afternoons were devoted to practice runs -- lovely Saturday afternoons spent indoors in a fluorescent rink.

But I digress...because my biggest problems were the ones I created myself -- little ideas of stuff that I could make for the party -- stuff that ended up taking about 500% more time to execute than I expected.

It used to be kinda fun to be obsessive. Like when I was single, childless and had no one to answer to but myself. I could work on some painting or project all night long if I wanted to; and not only feel O.K. about doing so, but almost revel in my single-mindedness.

Nowadays this sort of behavior appears to my significant others as preoccupation and neglect. Because when I'm in the middle of a project, it would take a fire or someone tap dancing on top of the computer (or maybe both) to get my full attention.

Meanwhile, I am righteous, because after all, I'm just trying to do something nice for my kid...and so I allow visions of creative projects to dance freely in my head.

First graders love seeing their own name in print. At least that's what some parenting site I perused in search of ideas told me. So I decided to design some personalized labels for the guests. Forgetting that our computer is from the crustaceous period. And it crashed approximately 237 times during the process.

Since evidently that wasn't frustrating enough, next was a banner making project. I began with a mental promise to do something simple and non-time-consuming. But...wouldn't it be cute to put photographs of my daughter's legion of teddy bears on her banner?

It was a fine idea at the time...but trying to import the photos and edit them in my publishing program REALLY made the computer freak out. I may have lost one morning sitting in front of the computer with the bears' headshots, but I did gain a nice cramped neck muscle.

And then there are the delusions of grandeur that somehow make me forget that I am not a master baker. Thus a subsequent morning is spent trying to depict a roller skate in two dimensions using icing and colored sugar.

All the while, the clock ticks, ticks, ticks closer and closer to B-Day.

Yikes! I believe I have officially exceeded the blog allowance for whining.

Anyway, if my husband ever speaks to me again after feeling invisible for the good part of the last week, I guess I can declare the party itself was a success, at least from a kids' point of view. All the 1st graders looked happy and there were no injuries that I know of.

And I skated too...on the pretense of helping the kids, but more accurately to avoid having to do that small talk thing that I generally fail miserably at.

However, I was accosted by one mom when she entered, who proceeded to tell me how she was hiring limos for her daughter's birthday next month to ferry the children to a mall in another county where they would make body lotion (because we all know that 6 & 7-year-old skin really needs moisturizing.)

If I put on my objective cap (and it's a lovely tweed newsboy cap), she was being as super nice as one can be while working in a mention of one's nanny to a member of the underclass.

And, to be fair, her planned extravaganza sounds like something girls that age would thoroughly enjoy.

But the whole thing sorta makes me feel like crap.

Because, at that moment, she makes the event we are hosting for my daughter seem rather pedestrian in comparison.

Because it shoves our relative poverty in our faces.

Because I don't want my just-turned- six-year-old kid to be ferried anywhere out of the area without me, and now I'm going to have to invent an alternate "previous engagement" for that date (because my daughter will want to go.)

Because no matter how much creativity (seasoned with a nice dash of angst) I throw into my little birthday projects, I can't compete with the cash that others seem to have to throw away.

Even after the skates are off, my imagined shortcomings continue to haunt me, and jolt me wide-awake at 5 AM this morning.

But it's time to move on. I've got a "Back to School Night" on Wednesday to obsess about...

The Vending Machine Guy Giveth And The Vending Machine Taketh Away

It's a scant two weeks since my rejoicing over a free peanut bar and today, in some form of retribution, the snack vending machine has decided to relieve me of .75 without delivering the snack.

It’s a bad sign. But I’ve committed to a purchase and I’m going to follow through.

Another .75 later, I have my clutches on “Mr. Nature Unsalted Energizer Mix.” And while I really needed the “energizing” it turns out my $1.50 has bought me two ounces of somewhat rancid trail mix.

I say "rancid" because I don’t think almonds are supposed to taste like sunflower seeds.

Peanut bar, where art thou?

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Most Heinous Display of OCD

So I’m driving home this evening and the traffic ahead begins to slow…the car in front of me is a Saab convertible with its top down.

Nothing strange about that, it’s a nice day. But then a repetitive motion catches my eye. The guy in the Saab is touching his head with his left arm and then arcing the arm out to the side.

At first I think he is picking some sort of debris out of his hair. But as the traffic slows to a stop, I see that he is pulling hair out of his head. He is actually TWEEZING his hair in the middle of traffic in a convertible! With actual TWEEZERS! And with each extraction he is tossing the apparently offending strand out of his car.

I don’t know that there is a word for this type of behavior (except maybe “EW!”) but the collection of words I would apply is “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.”

Now, I may be a teeny, tiny, tad of a psychotically-obsessed person. And perhaps I also might over-groom on occasion. And I used to drive a convertible. But never in my wildest mania did I ever consider combining the activities.

So I found myself simultaneously grossed out, curious about the motivation behind the behavior, and fighting the urge to yell out of my open sunroof “DUDE! Do you realize you’re in a freakin’ convertible and we all can see you?”

Instead I turned up my stereo, hoping the power of the pop would break through his nit-picking reverie long enough to make him realize he was actually out in public. No luck.

I suppose what he was doing was not littering in the technical sense of the word (being bio-degradable and all) so I had no grounds to call the cops or anything. But I wanted to do something – anything -- to make him stop. Because at this point we’re going on a solid ten minutes of defoliation.

Then I began to wonder if the faded magnet-ribbon on the back of his vehicle might hold a clue…like maybe it was for some sort of follicle-oriented society. Upon closer inspection, I saw it was just some patriotic thingie and had nothing to do with his coiffure. Damn.

There had to be an explanation…what if there was actually a midget in the passenger seat (that I couldn’t see) holding a knife on the convertible driver (pressed against his kneecap?) and the driver was leaving a trail of hair DNA, like crumbs in a forest to mark his trail? Well, it seemed just as plausible as anything else at the time.

It just didn’t make sense. He was checking himself out in the rear view mirror and going after specific hairs scattered throughout his head. But his hair was salt and pepper…so if his aim was removing all the white ones, this behavior could only lead to semi-baldness.

Didn’t the guy ever hear of Grecian Formula?

Perhaps it is something to do with the Saab convertible itself. I once dated a guy who drove one and he had this weird aversion to anyone who wore pastels. He did not see the pretty in the pink.

Anyway, back to the present day. Eventually speeds picked up (and he kept picking) but I was stuck behind him until Mr. Tweezers turned into a driveway. (Well, he made a right into a driveway, he didn't actually transform into a driveway.)

And so my saga ends...but now I have an irresistible urge to reshape my eyebrows. See ya!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Vomit goes so nicely with Mayan ruins, don't cha think?

Nobody needs a re-hash of the new season of Survivor here, so I'll present just a short comment.

Even though it's in its...I don't know...97th?...season, bless lil ole Mark Burnett, I do still enjoy the show.

And that's saying a lot given the prolonged scenes of vomitting going on in last night's opener.

Ya know, the sound of heaving is enough. We really didn't need to see the regurgitation streaming from the supposedly macho mens' mouths.

Hydration, Bobby Jon. It's all about the hydration.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Blog as Therapy

Please excuse me as I use this blog to exorcise myself from the demons of a kid party.

As always, I’m doing a mental post mortem – basically remembering every stupid thing I said and hoping that the other moms will not remember them as vividly as they probably will.

It’s especially bad in that rare moment when I start to feel comfortable, for (in an attempt at humor) I am sure to say something that will either freak the others out or just leave them scratching their heads in confusion.

Sample conversation:

Other mom: The thing that really drives me crazy when the kids get silly. Like, at the dinner table they will be getting the other to laugh…

(Meanwhile, I’m thinking that a good meal at my house is if my kids can get through it without trying to fashion their cutlery into shivs to use against each other.)

But what I say is: Yeah, my kids get so silly and wild when we’re shopping that I just want to put a paper bag on my head and pretend that I don’t know them. ‘What? These kids? Oh, I’m just the nanny…”

Okay, the other mom laughed – meanwhile I imagine she is mentally scratching our kids’ playdate off her calendar.

In a conversation with another mother (I actually talked to more than one person tonight, which may be a record) she was saying that her husband was so into watching football that she could run naked through the room and he wouldn’t notice.

I was so very pleased to hear another mom use the word “naked” – it gave me the courage to say that she should try it again wearing a football helmet.

Score one for me! I actually made a joke that made sense to the person I was saying it to. And she laughed.

However, even as the pleasant conversation continued I was thinking that I couldn’t relate – because the only way my husband wouldn’t notice me naked is if he was watching me naked on TV. Umm, not that he would ever actually be able to do this or anything. I’m just using this as a non-based-in-reality example, okay? You know, that he’s got his priorities straight and, uh, yeah, um….ok, back to the kid’s party thingie.

The brightest moment came as I was on my way out (and not only because we were leaving!) and thanking the “party mom” (oh, how I hate myself for even knowing that term). I was saying how much better this place was than Chuck E. Cheese (but I won’t name the place we were at because they don’t need more business, and really it wasn’t that great.)

Anyway, the party mom responded “I hate Chuck E. Cheese!” (And I thought, oh yes, there is hope for humankind.) In fact, she went on to say that if there was a hell, it would be there and perhaps even the devil himself resided at Chuck E. Cheese. (Yes, I said, he’s in the Chuck E. costume.)

Hurray! What she was saying was so very much like my blog post about Chuck E.! A kindred spirit!

Then I began to think…gee, could it be possible that someone at my kids’ school could actually be reading the stuff I write here? Yikes!

So, just to clarify, I do not live in South Jersey…I, uh, live in, uh, Southern France. I just blog in English to express my solidarity with the U.S. during the hard times the country is going through under the Bush regime.

Any similarity to any parent of any of your children’s classmates (living or dead) is strictly co-incidental.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Happiness appears in the guise of a peanut bar

As I walked down the corridor towards our office kitchen this afternoon, I was surprised to hear a child's voice. Although there is often childish behavior in this workplace and some of us are rather short, as far as I know none of my fellow employees are actual children.

I've been working the same Sunday shift for about 5 years, and one of the perks is that the office is generally deserted. Normally, if I anticipate an encounter with someone I don't know I will retreat, unseen.

But I needed to heat up my tea, and generally I can deal with kids.

So I proceeded into the kitchen only to be confronted with the snack machine guy refilling the vending machine, with a child I assumed to be his daughter sitting in a chair at the nearby table.

Thus the dilemma: I don't particularly like vendors, but I do like snacks. Plus, it's a small kitchen and there was no easy escape route.

Therefore I was forced to engage in the activity commonly known as small talk. An activity that generally I suck at.

During said small talk, he asked me what snacks I liked. Well, it just so happens that I have an unnatural love of the peanut bar. Probably because I can delude myself that the protein (13g!) to sugar ratio makes it somewhat healthy.

The dude said he thought he had some -- I figured that probably meant that he would put some in the machine, but there was the sliver of a chance that it meant he was going to give me one for free. That sliver was all I needed to continue to chat up the child that was indeed his daughter.

Yes, it is sad that I can be bought so easily...but these bars are "Now 25% Larger!" for heaven's sake!

Actually, the conversation wasn't entirely a calculated effort. I thought she looked about the same age as my oldest daughter (nine) and I was right. Plus she had just been in Philadelphia auditioning for a role in a play, so that awakened my inner stage mother enough to fuel more chatter.

And, in the end, it was the kid who asked her dad if it was okay to give me a peanut bar. He fished through his big brown cardboard box of haphazardly tossed-in snack food (somehow I would have hoped the process was a little more orderly, like a sterilized robotic arm taking packets from a hermetically sealed carton.)

But who am I to quibble when someone's about to hand me a totally free snack? And I'll probably never see them again, so no further conversational obligation involved.

Once bar was safely in hand, I bid my patrons a fond farewell and hastened off to my little hole in the wall.

And so I sit here and gaze lovingly at my free Fresh-roasted Peanut Bar (Barra de cacahuate if you're into that whole espanol thing) and think, yeah, my life is good.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Rocks Stars in Excess

First of all, thank goodness somebody finally found Brooke Burke a shirt.

If you don't know whom I'm referring to, then you haven't been tuning in to watch Rock Star: INXS. For all I know, my husband and I may be the ones watching...well, I guess not, since theoretically folks are voting each week...

For the uninitiated, the premise is that a number of rockers are auditioning to be lead singer of the group INXS. If you are like me, you’re not all that familiar with the catalog of INXS, but may be aware that the lead singer erased himself permanently from the planet in 1997…thus throwing the rest of band members into a deep, deep sleep that only the kiss of Mark Burnett could awaken them from.

Anyway, it has been a guilty pleasure for us; albeit one that is made more pleasurable by taping and fast-forwarding through the more mundane performances. Even without the advantage of FF, RS:INXS contains nowhere near the filler and groan-worthy stuff that American Idol hurls at the viewer. And all the contestants seem to be experienced performers (at least since I started watching.) So it has been immensely more enjoyable than AI.

And there is just enough stuff on Rock Star INXS to ridicule, so it fulfills all our viewing requirements.

Take the lovely hostess Brooke Burke. Methinks her stylist has a nice S+M bent …last week’s outfits: on Tuesday we were served up thigh-high boots and a bra-revealing sheer top, and on Wednesday our dear little Miss Brooke seems to have stumbled into some sort of shirt-shredder with only strips of fabric remaining to drape across the aforementioned black bra. Poor girl.

But yesterday she was much more covered up. Perhaps as the contest heats up she needs to appear more credible?

To Brooke’s credit, she did seem a bit, um, less than totally comfortable in some of the more revealing get-ups

To my naïve eye, she appears to be a lovely and not a bit tart-y young lady

However, a google search enlightens me on all things Brooke. For example, the website entitled “The Goddess Brooke Burke” identifies her as a Frederick’s of Hollywood model and contains 182 photos of her in lingerie. So maybe she wasn’t as uncomfortable in that string-y thing as I thought.

And, in the interest of equal time, I present to you the website “Dave Navarro is God”

You see, Dave Navarro (formerly of Jane’s Addiction and Red Hot Chili Peppers) is the…well, I’m not sure exactly what his role on Rock Star INXS is (god?) Maybe he’s there to give the show more cred?

Oh, he's a ROCK MENTOR! I can't believe I didn't figure that out on my own.

Regardless, I enjoy his many tattoos and unruly facial hair…besides trying to look fierce (but generally not succeeding) he seems to just basically say nice things to the contestants.

After weeks of viewing, I still can’t identify any member of INXS by name. But one guy is distinguishable by his John Waters pencil-thin mustache. Dude! This look does not work on anyone other than Mr. Waters. And it only works on him because we love his freakiness. On you, it’s just scary

One of the funniest things about the show is the way “INXS” is mentioned over and over (I guess because no one would know who the f-ck this guys were otherwise).

For example, the kiss-off line is “I’m sorry, but you’re just not right for our group INXS.” And then (if the kick-off-ee is a woman) they say, “Come over here and give us a PROPER goodbye” and proceed to hug the woman very, very tightly while the camera graciously cuts away.

Anyway, as usual I detour so much there is not a whole lot of useful information here on the actual competition (see Wikipedia entry below for mucho actual info.)
For those familiar with the players, I really like Mig -- he’s got lots of talent, a good look and plays the role of “nice guy” very well

There’s the scary blond guy (Marty) who is fascinating to watch, probably not exactly right “for our group INXS” but will likely make a name for himself.

And then there’s former Elvis impersonator J.D. who wins the asshole award and may be right for the gig if only that he seems to be channeling Michael Hutchence, that is if you can channel someone in an overly studious way.

Yeah, there’s a chick left too (Suzie) but I’m not into her that much (although I do love her two-tone hair.)

As much as I’ve enjoyed the process thus far, I think it’s time to wrap this sucker up. We know what everyone’s all about, and I get the feeling that “our group INXS” has probably already decided who they want to go with.

If any of the select few that read this also watch the show (not great odds I guess) I’d love to get your opinions – feel free to comment!
Rock Star: INXS
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Rock Star: INXS is a reality television show where 15 contestants compete to become the lead vocalist for the Australian rock band INXS.
INXS enjoyed great popularity through the 1980s and early 1990s, but in 1997, frontman Michael Hutchence committed suicide. The band attempted to go on with alternate singers, but remained largely latent until this show.
Contestants are housed in a Hollywood mansion, and square off in an American Idol-style singing contest. Unlike Idol, however, the songs are more rock and roll and less pop. The performances too, are much more animated and "rocking." Each week, viewers vote for their favorite contestant. The bottom three then perform an INXS song and the members of the band select the two they wish to keep and let the third go home. The final remaining contestant will win the job of lead vocalist.
The show originally appeared three nights a week on CBS. The format ran with a half-hour behind-the-scenes episode on Monday, a one-hour performance episode on Tuesday and a half- hour elimination episode on Wednesday. However, on August 3, 2005, CBS announced the behind-the-scenes episode would move to Sunday nights on VH1 effective August 7, 2005 due to low ratings.
The show is executive produced by Survivor's Mark Burnett and is hosted by Brooke Burke and former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro.
Brandon Calhoon - 31 (turns 32 on December 8) (Beaverton, Michigan) (Eliminated seventh, 8/10/2005)
Dana Robbins - 30 (turns 31 on December 14) (Studio City, California) (Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada) (Eliminated first, 7/11/2005)
Daphna Dove - 30 (Los Angeles, California) (Originally born in Germany, and raised in New York City, New York) (Eliminated fourth, with Heather Luttrell, 7/27/2005)
Deanna Johnston - 36 (Reseda, California) (Originally from Kingston, Ontario) (Eliminated ninth, 8/24/2005)
Heather Luttrell - 27 (turns 28 on December 5) (Atlanta, Georgia) (Eliminated fifth, with Daphna Dove, 7/27/2005)
J.D. Fortune - 32 (Oakville, Ontario) (Originally from Saltspring, Nova Scotia)
Jessica Robinson - 26 (Chicago, Illinois) (Eliminated eighth, 8/17/2005)
Jordis Unga - 23 (St. Paul, Minnesota) (Eliminated eleventh, 9/7/2005)
Marty Casey - 31 (turns 32 on September 26) (Chicago, Illinois)
Mig Ayesa - 35 (London, England) (Originally born in the Philippines, and raised in Sydney, Australia)
Neal Carlson - 29 (turns 30 on December 11) (Queens, New York) (Eliminated third, 7/20/2005)
Suzie McNeil - 28 (turns 29 on October 15) (Toronto, Ontario) (Originally from Mississauga, Ontario)
Tara Slone - 31 (turns 32 on September 7) (Toronto, Ontario) (Originally born in Montreal, Quebec and raised in Nova Scotia) (Eliminated sixth, 8/3/2005)
Ty Taylor - 36 (Las Vegas, Nevada) (Originally from Montclair, New Jersey) (Eliminated tenth, 8/31/2005)
Wil Seabrook - 28 (turns 29 on October 25) (Pasadena, California) (Originally from Morganton, North Carolina) (Eliminated second, 7/13/2005)
External links
Official Site for TV Series
Official Band Site
Official MSN site

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Victoria's Secret Massacre

It's back to school shopping time, which in my family means that I have taken my children bra-shopping. (For me, not them.) It's all part of my secret plan to make their summer vacation so tedious that they can't wait for the school year to begin.

But they will have their revenge on me this day, in what might go down in history as the Victoria's Secret Massacre. O.K., no one was actually massacred. But it did cross my mind a few times.*

Normally I wouldn't even think of bringing two grade schoolers into V.S. But I had a $10 promotional card that was about to expire. And, after all, ten bucks is ten bucks.

Plus I needed a new T-shirt bra.

Bra definition for the lingerie-impaired: The Victoria's Secret catalog, the eminent authority in all matters bra-ular, defines the t-shirt bra as one that has "molded, lightly padded cups." The main purpose (my definition) is to provide the T-shirt wearer with a smooth cup surface that basically obscures the, umm, general areola area (which may be the one and only time I will ever type that phrase, I hope).

Only nothing is ever that simple...and I now believe that Victoria's secret is that if they confuse you enough, you will end up buying something you did not really want/need.

For a perusal of V.S. online finds not only is there a "Classic" T-shirt bra, but also the Mesh t-shirt bra, Stretch Cotton t-shirt bra, Padded t-shirt bra, Convertible t-shirt bra, and the NEW! (their exclamation point, not mine) Lace Trim t-shirt bra.

B.V.S. (before Victoria's Secret) buying a bra was a rather straightforward affair. Boring, yes, but there was little to confuse and/or tempt the buyer from their utilitarian mission. You knew your size, you decided between beige and white, and you were outta there.

Today there is a bra for nearly every occasion -- functional, seductional (I'm just making up words right and left, aren't I?), seasonal ('cause don't we all need a red velvet bra for Christmas?)

To complicate the issue even more, I happen across an Oprah show where an expert informs that 99.99% of women are wearing the wrong size bra.

Evidently, one's bra should be very, very tight across the rib cage to ensure a perky profile and very little lung function, which then cuts off one's supply of oxygen, kills brain cells and makes one watch more daytime TV.

Using the Oprah-endorsed measurement system, I am a 32D. When I tell my husband, instead of being impressed (or laughing) he just gives me one of those "that's what you get for watching Oprah when you should be doing something useful like learning to cook" looks.

Anyway, I digress...

Despite the fact that Victoria's Secret offers so many variations of the t-shirt bra, on this particular day in this particular store, I cannot find one. Stereotypically, guys don't ask for my version, I don't like to ask questions (or engage in any conversation) when I am buying undergarments.

So I wander around the store for an hour confronted by many Miracle bras and the prominent display of IPEX (as in "I, pecs?" as in "I am my pectorals?") bras. The Ipex is evidently the "WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED BRA" but with a range of $45 - $47 it's too advanced for me to even try on and see how advanced it truly is.

IN fact, it's so advanced that there is a video devoted to it:

Ipex page

Meanwhile, my girls have long tired of lace and have resorted to playing hide and seek among the unmentionables, shrieking loudly at whatever, and scaring the lone male who has sheepishly made his way into the store with the hopes of picking up something slightly naughty for his girlfriend...and who will probably schedule a vasectomy upon his departure.

It all culminates in one of those moments when you're so very, very proud to be a parent: when my 5-year-old insists on feeling up the mannequins -- her arms outstretched, honking the plaster breasts.

I am on my way out of the store --embarrassed, annoyed and defeated -- when I finally spot the wall of t-shirt bras! Perhaps if they had been as advanced as the Ipex bras they would have done something earlier (soft-shoe?) to attract my attention. But there they are, in all their molded cup glory!

In an effort to squelch further mischief, I try to let my kids pick out the bra color, but they are favoring a dog print, which might show through clothing in a most peculiar way. And I'm a cat person anyway.

So I settle for a solid pink. But it does have cute little polka dot straps.

As I check out, I imagine the store personal is surreptitiously taking our photos to be posted in the back of the store, with a warning to immediately lower the steel gates if we are ever spotted within 20 feet of the storefront again.

It isn't until I get home that I realize I ended up with the convertible version. A little hook and loop that turns it from regular straps into a t-back. Super cool! Suddenly it was all worthwhile.

*Child advocates, never fear. I do not spank my children or otherwise physically discipline my children. And although there was much rough-housing and wrinkling, no lingerie was harmed in the filming of this story.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I started this blog with very little in mind other than to vent in a semi-humorous way.

But after seeing the human misery caused by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, anything I might write in an effort to amuse seems just too shallow.

My initial reaction while watching the news coverage is the Mother Nature innocently wreaked more havoc than the most evil of terrorists. But as the inadequacies of the relief efforts become more and more clear, one can’t help but question whether class structure is a factor – and does our government have less regard for the lives of the lower classes?

Would relief have been mobilized faster if the affected were higher income folks? Say in Washington, D.C.? I hope to god that the answer to this is no, while fearing it is yes.

In this nation where we’re given the illusion of safety, that our system will protect us in times of disaster …well, our cover has been blown.

In an effort to be fair, I will concede that perhaps I’m not informed enough to cast judgment on the efforts. And perhaps I don’t have the right to, as I sit at my computer in my air-conditioned home with its stocked pantry.

But I can tell you this -- suburbia has never looked so good to me.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Evil That is Chuck E.

Three little syllables. Seemingly so innocent, they have the power to strike such fear in my heart.


More dreaded than a trip to the OBGYN is the prospect of attending a children's party at this place where a kid can be a kid, and an adult can be demoralized.

If you are a veteran of the chucksters, you may want to skip this post at the risk of it prompting some sort of post-traumatic stress reaction.

For the uninitiated, Chuck E. Cheese is a horrid combination of pizzeria and arcade -- although it fails miserably at both -- which specializes in parties for the grade school set. Can you call letting kids duke it out over quasi-functioning machines a party? (If there was wagering involved, perhaps…)

Upon entry, each child is given a cup of tokens that can be used to play the various arcade-like games. The payoff is that each game spits out tickets that the tikes can redeem for quality prizes the likes of which you can purchase from the Oriental Trading Company for $5.99 a gross.

These tickets are kiddy crack and I have seen some of the greediest, nastiest behavior from children in their attempts to accumulate tickets. (Not my children of course, because I surgically attach myself to their sides in an effort to shield them from their peers.)

That said, my kids love the place. They are thrilled to be invited to a party there. After all, you can never have too many sets of iridescent press-on fingernails.

So, I sacrifice my dignity and take them if I don't have a legitimate excuse.

Here is where I suggest that perhaps it might be wise to invent a legitimate excuse if one doesn't present itself outright.

For example, it might be less painful to fling oneself down a (short) flight of stairs in order to obtain a legitimate injury that prohibits driving (to said Chuck E. Cheese) than to endure two hours of claustrophobic cacophony.

To add insult to injury, this joint can't even make the cake-eating part OK. Long lines of rectangular tables are packed tightly together with about 30cm (I love the metric system, don't you?) of space between them.

The parents are forced to stand/hover in the non-existent aisles as the children eat. I believe this is a plot to ensure that there will be no escape when the goofy pseudo-animatronic mouse figurines spring to life on the stage at the front of the room…and shortly thereafter Chuck E. himself (no doubt some underpaid and very sweaty teenager in a pungent mouse costume) leaps out (well, maybe “waddles” is more like it) from behind the stage to lead the children in a cha-cha line.

The kids go nuts, but all I see is an evil Pied Piper determined to undermine my efforts to install taste and dignity in my children. (Well, I really haven't done much to that end, but it sounds good, doesn't it?)

And then I go and buy more tokens because the party's not over yet and our cup is empty.

If there is a hell, I’m betting it’s just like Chuck E. Cheese (but probably without the cake.)