Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This is Halloween

Happy Halloween, everyone!

I had forgotten how much I love this holiday. It is much different on college campuses than it is here in the real world. I was driving one of my younger sisters to a friends house so that they could go trick or treating together (they both dressed up as mimes, my sister the talking version, and her friend of the traditional silent persuasion), and I was suddenly filled with the excitement I felt when I was her age. I wished that I could throw together a last minute home-made costume and traipse around to strangers' houses and get loads of candy. Whose idea was that anyway? And have they one a Nobel prize yet?

Anyway, I have been filled with the Halloween spirit, and in honor of this glorious holiday, I have been compiling a Halloween mix CD. As is true of most mix CDs I compile, they will never actually be made. The truth is, I don't have most of the songs on there and I try to do my part to avoid pirating music, etc. But without further ado...

Jo!'s Halloween Mix CD

1. "This is Halloween" from Nightmare Before Christmas
2. "Spooky"
3. "Hungry Like a Wolf" by Duran Duran
4. "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" from Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
5. "That Old Black Magic"
6. "I put a Spell On You" from Hocus Pocus
7. "Thriller" by Michael Jackson
8. The song from Disney's Beauty and the Beast when their hunting for the Beast
9. "The Pusher" from the Easy Rider soundtrack (that song freaks me out!)
10. "Monster Mash"
11. "Addams Family Theme"
12. "Theme from Young Frankenstein"
13. "Were-wolves of London"
14. "Ghostbusters Theme"

I admit I was getting lazy toward the end and I didn't put tons of thought into the proper order to get the best flow. I do have an excuse: I am just too darn excited for NaNoWriMo to start! less than an hour now (my clock says 11:10pm), and I am rarin' and ready to go! I finally have an idea that I like and am feeling up for 50,000 words!

So, in conclusion, listen to your cableman.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why is six afraid of seven? Seven eight nine!


I have spent the past several days trying to come up with my own personal list of top ten musical artists. This was inspired by the list compiled by 88.5 WXPN of the top 885 musical artists mentioned over in Gale's blog. I quite disagree with most of their top 20 or so, therefore I felt it was my responsibility to make the "right" list.

I am notoriously bad at coming up with top ten lists.

The first problem I ran into was "musical artists." How can one say that the Beatles are #1 when they have to consider the genius of the likes of Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi and others. So I am changing it to "Musical Recording Artists." The next problem I ran into was how many different eras of music that includes. How can one put the Rolling Stones at #3 and leave Glen Miller and Ella Fitzgerald out. What about the classic crooners like Bing and Deano? So I limited my own list to Musical Recording Artists from the 60s on, specifically anything considered "oldies/classic rock" and onward. There was one last stumbling block. My instinct is now and always will be to put Stephen Sondheim at the top of any list of this variety (he's my favorite), but but he just did flow with the rest of the list. I felt that this had to be limited to recorders of "popular" music only; in my mind, that is defined as anything you might hear on the radio if you actually wanted to listen to that kind of station. After I set up those guidelines, I was able to spend hours and hours agonizing over my list. Here's what I came up with:

1. Queen
2.David Bowie
3.Paul Simon
4. Billy Joel
5.Creedence Clearwater Revival
6.Aretha Franklin
7.System of a Down
8.Elton John
10.Alanis Morissette

There it is. I kind of had to force myself just to make some decisions and there is a good chance that my personal list will change drastically in the next few minutes, but it feels good to have a list written down. These kinds of things are important to me. A lot of classic rock in there, but I gotta have some System... sometimes I just love punk! Especially SoaD! They make me kind of giddy. If you're not familiar, check out "Chop Suey" (my personal favorite). And I like that I have it sandwiched between Aretha and Elton. That's pretty telling about my musical preferences.

I was going to be cool and have images of my favorite albums from each of these artists for illustration. The Blogger gods do not seem to like that idea, so I will leave it alone... for now.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

9 Weird Things

Boy, when it rains, it pours, eh, comrades?

The amazing Gale from over "fancy french title" way tagged me for this meme, and I am in a Blog state of mind, so thought I might as well do it now.

Weird Meme: You simply list NINE weird things about yourself and then tag nine others.

It's funny. Gale mentioned in her post that she had a hard time coming up with 9 things. I cannot say that I had that problem. So these things are just the first 9 that came to my head, in no particular order...

1. I cannot spell "weird." Seriously, this is a real problem. Thank the good Lord for spell check because I would be truly embarrassed a lot of the time. For whatever reason, it always comes out "wierd" and I always have to go back and fix it. This entry is a real challenge, that's for sure!

2. When I was in grade school, probably 4th and 5th grades, I had serious crushes on both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. That's right, the presidents. Or former presidents, more appropriately. It stemmed from my obsession with the movie-musical 1776, about the writing of the Declaration of Independence. I loved everything about them for a long time. There are some truly entertaining anecdotes from this era in my life, but they can wait for another time.

3. I love bad jokes. I can hear the same lame jokes over and over again and I will always laugh just as hard. I am a sucker for "A ___ walked into a bar..." jokes. My two all time favorites:

A grasshopper walked into a bar and said "Hey, bartender! Give me a drink!" "Sure, buddy! Hey, ya know we have a drink named after you." And the grasshopper said "Why would anyone name a drink 'Bob'?"

A piece of string walked into a bar, and said, "Hey, bartender! Give me a drink!" The bartender replied, "Sorry, we don't serve string here." The piece of string walked out onto the street and tied himself into a knot and walked back into the bar. He said, "Hey, bartender! Give me a drink!" and the bartender replied, "Sorry, we don't serve knots here." So the piece of string walked back out onto the street, and started scratching his head with thought. Suddenly he got an idea and scratched his head a little harder. He walked back into the bar and said "Hey, bartender! Give me a drink!" And the bartender said, "Sure, buddy! Anything you'd like! Say-- don't I know you from somewhere?" And the string said, "I'm a frayed knot!"

(kills me every time!!!)

4. I completely believe that Champ exists. For those of you who don't know, Champ is the lake monster that lives in Lake Champlain, nestled between eastern upstate New York and western Vermont. He is sort of an American version of Nessie. I swear to God I felt him brush past me one evening when I was enjoying a late night swim under starry skies at a friend's Vermont camp. True story. He's real.

5. I am very rarely seen without sunglasses on top of my head. Sometimes they are on my face instead, which I feel is acceptable in exceptionally bright situations. In my room, I have a gift bag filled with the corpses of past sunglasses, 40 or so of them, that have met untimely ends over the years. Other pairs I have simply lost. It's interesting: for someone who can't function properly without shades, I break/lose them awfully frequently.

6. I often find myself talking in movie quotes. If I get into the movie Clue, I will not stop until there is some sort of physical interruption, usually a sibling launching themselves at me from across the room, hands extended toward the general throat area. Possibly more common in my speech are Eddie Izzard quotes. It is an addiction that I share with my room mate/"sister", Steph. We will have lengthy conversations without an original thought between us.

7. Speaking of Steph, she and I eat at "Riendl" at least twice a week. You may be wondering "What is Riendl? Is this some restaurant I am missing out on? Is it the next big thing? Sounds German. How's their bratwurst?" Well, Riendl is no more than another name for the popular chain of family restaurants, Friendly's. The alternate name came about about when I was trying to convey my desire to eat in code. "Hey, I think we should go to a place that starts with an "F", ends with an "y's" and in the middle is Riendl." (Those of you dedicated to SNL may recognize the syntax from a particularly clever "Superfans" sketch.) Well, the name stuck, and it has become a regular haunt of ours. And we order the same thing every time: Honey Barbecue Chicken Strips platter and Honey Barbeque Chicken Supermelt. And we always switch halfway through. Always.

8. I have an echo mic on my desk in my bedroom. Sometimes, when I am sitting there alone, I will serenade the empty room, belting my little heart out with the colorful plastic toy clutched in my hand, rockstar style. But usually, I use it to address anyone who comes into my room.

9. I name everything. If you have been following this blog, you know about my cars, the late Toby and the current Vincent. I also name plants (Clyde and Ursula live in my office). I love giving people nicknames and they usually stick, at least for me. My friend Dustinopolisbruley Joseph Ticonderoga Smith-Jones can attest to that one. I like to give names to rooms of the house and areas of property. I love naming animals. The mouse who, until very recently (RIP) lived in our basement was lovingly referred to as Eskimo, and the squirrel who lived outside of my freshman year homeroom in high school was known to all as Voltron* (he had a blond tail).

Those are my mandated 9 things. I don't really like tagging people for things, but people who read this who want to do it, will do it. I don't actually know how many people read this anyway, so it probably doesn't matter much in the long run. I hope everyone's happy and healthy!

*I just wanted to share that the word spell check come up with to replace "Voltron" was "paltriness"... isn't that great?

Graffiti, eh?

It feels like forever ago that my friend Gale suggested I "graffiti my blog". Here's the truth: I am still embarrassingly intimidated by the blogging world. I traipsed over to Foxxfyre's Black and White Art Blog more times than I can even count, every time with the intention of graffiti-ing, and every time I chickened out. Isn't that ridiculous? I have a feeling that I will get reprimanded for this post. Certain people will be saying "Jo! Don't be silly! You are always welcome in the world of blogging!" And I know I am, but sometimes I feel shy. If you know me at all, that probably sounds ridiculous and possibly a little disconcerting. It's just one of those things, I guess. Sometimes even Jo! feels shy.

But today, triumph! I went and graffiti-ed! I am happy with how it came out. That is 100% original art-work, world! Here for your enjoyment!

Super big thanks to Foxxfyrre for supplying the medium! It was uber mad fun! (yeah, I said it... don't think less of me).

love to all!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

This Is Getting Ugly

There was a time when my office was always orderly and presentable. There was a time when you could easily recognize the pieces of furniture tastefully arranged in the window-less room. There was a time when people could stop by and sit a spell and I would engage them in conversation in a professional but personable way. There was a time when I could sit in my office and think, "Yes, I am a responsible professional who can function like an adult in the real world."

That was a long time ago. (I think it lasted about a month after I started here). Now, I look at my office and am ashamed. What happened? I had turned over a new leaf but now...

Ok, in all honesty I have always been organizationally challenged. I have a tendency to let things build up. Couple that with an acute case of procrastination, and there is potential for serious health threats. My office was hanging on by a thread. Until a week ago, I could still find things and explain the clutter to my boss as my own personal organization technique. "I know where everything is," I would insist. Then I get the brilliant idea to have a fabric drive to make ugly quilts for the local homeless. Within 24 hours of coming up with this idea, my office was filled to the brim with donations of fabric.

Some people cannot see the forest for the trees. I could not see my desk for the papers. And now I cannot see the floor for the bulging garbage bags of scraps of fabric. At least I can still see the chair for my weary self.

I don't know who among you are religious, but please, if you are so inclined, add my office to your list of prayer intentions. It is a desperate situation.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Have Another Cookie

Hello, Blogger World! I have been eaten up with guilt that I haven't been able to update with any kind of regularity. The fact of the matter is that I do not have internet at my house, so I have to all of my surfing at the office. I have justified checking other people's blogs while at work, but I just cannot justify updating during work hours. Hopefully, I will be getting internet in the next few days (keep your fingers crossed for me), but in the mean time, I would like to share some fiction writing with you.

My friend Gale has introduced me to Flash Fiction in the form of a weekly contest. Each Friday she posts a random word and the contestants have to enter a 350-word piece of fiction containing the word of the week. The word for Friday the 13th was "puppet," and my story "Have Another Cookie" tied for first place. So I am sharing it with you. Hopefully you will get a real post soon! Love to all!

Have Another Cookie

"Here, sweetie, have another cookie."

"Thanks, Mrs. Puppet. Your cookies are as good as ever."

"Oh, Paul, I will never forget when you were a boy. Everyday, after school you would be tapping on my door, pleading for cookies. But that was a long time ago. Now it seems that I never see you! Where has my Paulie been?" Mrs. Puppet's very being exuded cheerfulness; everything about her smiled. Even her gentle chiding was done with pure love.

Paul shrugged guiltily. "Mrs. Puppet, I come as often as I can..."

"I know, dear. How is Amy? I still say she was the loveliest bride I have ever seen."

"She's as lovely as ever." Paul's broad shoulders sagged as he forced the words out, but managed a slight smile.

"When are you two going to have children? They need to taste my cookies!"

"The... The timing isn't right, Mrs. Puppet."

"You can at least bring your beautiful wife by. I haven't even seen Amy since the wedding day. How long has it been now?"

"6 years, 5 months, 14 days." Paul bit his lip ferociously and stared determinedly at the ceiling.

"That long? My, the days do fly! Why haven't you brought her to see me?"

"Mrs. Puppet..." He hesitated on the verge of baring his soul to her. Everyday he sat in her apartment at the Green Valley Assisted Living complex and told her the same story, and it never got easier.

"My dear, you look so distressed! Here, have another cookie and tell me what's wrong."

The newspaper clipping Paul took from his pocket was discolored and well-worn. He handed it to Mrs. Puppet and held her hand as she read the article, dated exactly 6 years, 5 months and 14 days before. ...accident resulted in tragedy... woman in passenger seat died on impact... driver in critical condition...other passenger unharmed...

Silent tears ran down Mrs. Puppet's face. Paul allowed his tears to claim him as he sat down next to her on the bed and welcomed her hug.

"Here sweetie," she choked, "Have another cookie."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

I Wonder As I Wander

Many times in our lives, often multiple times per day, huge life questions get hurled at us and we often find it easier to just brush them aside. I personally find it far more productive to do so, because if I stop and think about them, I find it difficult to concentrate on anything else. For example, "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" It is far simpler to just rattle off the tongue twister than to put thought into it, but it seems to me that if we never stop to consider the question, we will never find the answer. This particular question gives birth to a whole litter of other questions on closer acquaintance. What exactly is a woodchuck? I, for one, immediately think of that delicious brand of hard apple cider, but it must have gotten its name from somewhere. I have never been one to sit in the dark, and have always demanded answers. Why should this be so different? Why should I follow everyone else's example and let this deep and complex question slip by to allow for the pursuit of the mundane?

Do you know what a woodchuck is? It's a GROUND HOG! Possibly one of the least interesting animals in the world that has garnered fame from ruining peoples back yards and keeping our roads populated with road kill!

That was unfair of me. I've actually always liked ground hogs and spent one summer trying to convince my uncle there were more humane ways of getting rid of them than sitting on the porch with a rifle. Granted, those were mutant ground hogs, the size of beagles and completely undeterred by any threat of human interaction, but still! A rifle? Plus, They have, on occasion, provided endless entertainment, scurrying away from my curious pets and siblings and the like. It's funny, sometimes, how easy it is to lump my pets and siblings into one group... Anyway, it's not that I have something against ground hogs, or woodchucks for that matter. The question would probably not have persisted through the decades had it been "How much wood could a ground hog chuck if a ground hog could chuck wood?" It loses something for me. Also, I am not sure that I would trust a woodchuck's forecast come February 2, but I blindly follow whatever a ground hog will tell me, be it 6 weeks 'til Spring or 6 more weeks of Winter. Also, I wonder if sales would be as good for the previously mentioned manufacturer of draft cider were the brand name "Ground Hog Cider." I got a mental image of a pig being ground up and bottled as a liquid... eeeewwww!

If I were The Pink Shoe, I would probably take this opportunity to do "facts about ground hogs/woodchucks," but she would do it so much better. I'll stick to what I do, not that I'm sure what that is, but I'm pretty sure it's not doing "facts about."

Given the fact that neither woodchucks nor ground hogs chuck wood anyway, it is probably in all ways fatuous to even pursue the question. And yet here I am and here you are. And we will both spend more time than is healthy trying to figure it out.