Monday, January 28, 2008

Maternal Guilt: Of Bras, Underwear--Stay With Me Now--Teenagers' Rooms, Rescue Workers, And Microwaves

Remember when your mother used to admonish you about wearing clean underwear or making sure your bra had no safety pins by presenting to you the scenario "What if you were rushed to the Emergency Room! All the doctors and nurses would see that!"? My sister Patti and I would roll our eyes and stomp upstairs muttering about how stupid Mom was, and later in life we'd reminisce and talk about maternal guilt and confess that we'd say the same thing to our own kids. (Well, she'd say the bra thing to her three daughters; I had two boys and could employ the clean underwear line on a fairly regular basis.)

As Jared and Sam became teenagers, I found that I could improvise upon my mother's basic salvo and apply it to their lair upstairs. Sad to say, my sons were no different than any other teen boys: the room they shared was a disaster all of the time. Dressers were unused because the floor was much easier. The cordless phone was located only by calling it from the cell phone and using an advanced system of echolocation. At one point, Rick forbade me from even going upstairs because I became a madwoman unleashed. "What if something happened and emergency services had to break into this house for some reason? Firemen or rescue people would come up here and see all of this! What would people think!? The headlines would read: LOCAL TEACHER'S HOME A MESS--HEALTH DEPARTMENT SUMMONED!" I'd yell.

Truth is, the only person who any of that works on is the mom. I truly believe that my mother's only objection to our safety-pinned bras was that someone else might see them. And, if my boys wanted to wallow in squalor of their own making and I didn't have to see it, well, then, okay, but I didn't want to have to take the fall for it. Know what I mean?

And here's what made me wax philosophical about all of this.

Cleaning my microwave.


Cleaning my microwave.

First of all, I have no freaking idea how my microwave gets so crappy. I cover every darn thing I put in there, I don't cook in there, and no one is around here to use it but Rick and me. And Rick does not use it. I have major issues with a dirty, grungy microwave, but as you know, it is a bitch to clean because you can't just fire up the old Mr. Clean and go to it. (No, you can't! You can't use a chemical in a microwave and transfer all those polymers and carcinogens to your food! Ugh!)

But I digress.

So, I started getting really complacent, and then when I put in some meat to thaw, I saw it. Oh my God, I thought, What if someone comes over and sees this? They'll think I'm a pig. I got the old Pyrex measuring cup out, and steamed that baby up. Totally clean now.

Sadly, I feel so much better. So! If there is some sort of emergency--heaven forbid--at the Dept. and rescue personnel are involved, they damn well better look inside my microwave!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

From UFOs To DD-L: Officially, Of Course

For seven long, long, long years now, I have tried with all my heart not to let my antipathy toward a certain resident of Texas completely sour my entire outlook toward the whole state. I mean, I have some loyal readers of the Dept. who live in Texas and are actual living, breathing Democrats. But now, after reading the news lately, I just have to ask some of you out there:

Are you all crazy, or what?

Everyone down there in the Lone Star State is all wrapped up in seeing UFOs. It's gotten to be practically an epidemic. People from Stephenville who witnessed a UFO and caught it on video (Why is it that everyone who has a video camera also seems to have a southern accent? Have you ever noticed that on "America's Funniest Home Videos?") were even interviewed on "Larry King Live"! The whole town is into being The UFO Capital of the USA now, and get this--Stephenville hopes to become a UFO landing spot. We know this is true; it says so on CNN.

This leads me to wonder: will this be An Official Designation? If so, will there be Paperwork involved? And, if this does occur, can anyone file Said Paperwork for Official Designations? Because, if so, then I want to file one immediately.

And Daniel Day-Lewis is involved.

Allow me to explain.

As Dept. readers already know, I have been obsessed, in varying degrees, with Mr. Day-Lewis since 1992 and it has not been an easy task. His interminable hiatuses between films, his maddening refusal to reprise his Romantic Hero role a la Hawkeye in The Last of the Mohicans, his reprehensible lack of fashion sense, his horrific bald, concentration camp-like gaunt appearance after his last commercial film Gangs of New York, and then his terrible year of looking like the Gorton's Fisherman while doing press for his wife's little indie film...all of this added up to a very off-putting time for The Obsession. I consoled myself with memories and the fact that I was lofty enough and smartypants enough to Care Deeply For His Art.

Which was bullshit.

I switched over to Johnny Depp like everybody else. Come on.

Anyway. Now, Daniel Day-Lewis comes out of his self-imposed...whatever...and makes a new film and gets tons of accolades for it. His performance in There Will Be Blood has already gotten him a Golden Globe, an Oscar nomination, a SAG nomination, and a bunch of critic awards. He's out there doing press and interviews and, more importantly, he looks like this:

Oh. My. God. It's the Old Daniel. And by "old" I mean the Daniel Day-Lewis that got me before. So.

Back to my original point.

And I do have one.

I would like to file Official Paperwork to designate the Dept. as The Daniel Day-Lewis Landing Spot. And I don't want to have to go on "Larry King Live" to do it. Unless Daniel Day-Lewis is a guest, too. Then I'm all over

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Name Game

This news item caught my attention on our local news recently. First of all, there is absolutely no reason for anyone to ever harbor a snake that is 24 feet long and "as thick as a telephone pole." This monster, a reticulated python, should be killed immediately. If not sooner. The Columbus Zoo is asking for trouble placing it on permanent display while it is still alive. This thing eats "two huge rabbits a week." May I remind everyone that"rabbits" means "bunnies."
Allow me to provide a visual aid:

Perhaps the Columbus Zoo hopes to soften the blow when it displays the snake's name. For this vicious bunny-eating slitherer goes by...Fluffy. Yes. Fluffy the Reticulated Python.

I'll admit it. The name is fantastic. If I were going to have a 24-foot long reticulated python, I'd consider naming it Fluffy, for it is the very antithesis of all things snaky. But when it comes to naming pets, I usually opt for people names. There's something very dignified and familial about having a dog or cat or guinea pig with a person name. I just like it. And I like the name to be literary, usually, unless the animal in question has so much overt personality that the name is just apparent.

As many readers of the Dept. know, my most recent pets are Emily and Travis, two cats. Sadly, Travis is no longer with us, but Emily still dodders around, toothless, half-blind, and arthritic. There were no silly kitty-witty names even considered for either feline. Never once were names like Mittens, Whiskers, Scratch, or Mr. Freckles even brought up. Or any boring, dumb names like Brownie, Patches, or the uninspired Kitty.

And please, please, please spare me "Boo Boo Kitty."

I could vomit. A lot. On myself.

My friend Roger thinks everyone should test pet names by going to the front door and yelling for the prospective pet, loudly, several times. If you feel stupid or it sounds just plain idiotic, then it's not a good name. He has a huge Labrador. Its name is Newman, after the lackadaisical mailman on Seinfeld. Roger says that the name has become a self-fulfilling prophecy since Newman now does very little except sigh and loll around a lot. This summer, he may get Newman a pet puppy and see if that turns things around a bit.

Jared, my eldest son, thinks that "Pushbutton" would be a great name for a bunny. I would have to see the bunny in order to decide. I like the name "Robert" for a small, brown boy bunny. I have yet to meet any small, brown boy bunny that did not look like a "Robert."

My pet peeve with zoos is that they get all carried away with naming baby animals in the language of their native country. Then we get stuck with all these terrible names that are sometimes hard to pronounce and get attached to. Also, the names really don't suit the baby animals. One exception to this is Knut, the baby polar bear from the Berlin Zoo.

He looks like a Knut, and it's not hard to pronounce.

Now there's a brand new baby polar bear at the Nuremberg Zoo who was rescued from her mom who zookeepers feared might try to eat her (!), and a naming contest is already underway. Naturally, a bunch of loser names have already been submitted: Franka, Lina, Snowwhite, Yuki Chan. I like "Elinor." I have already watched video of this baby polar bear and looked at photos. This is an "Elinor" if I've ever seen one. Trust me.

I have a backyard fishpond and I have several fish in it. Every summer, I end up having to replace at least one fish due to a predator, the harsh winter, or the fact that someone just can't get with the program and keeps ending up in the skimmer/filter. So, I have to come up with at least one new name each year. One year, I briefly flirted with the idea of naming a fish after a national monument, just for the hell of it. But I couldn't find a fish that looked like one. Current pond residents are: Iron Chef, Johnny Depp, Nancy Grace, Garbo, Ziploc, and Tupperware. Those last two names do bear some explaining, I realize. See, they were leftover table decorations from a school dance, the theme of which was "Under the Sea." Leftover fish...get it? I am still in mourning over the death of Barnabas, the black fantail who kept ending up in the skimmer. I think the weight of his head, due to his huge popeyes, just kept pulling him in with the current. What a way to go. But he had the coolest name.
Update: After receiving more than 30,000 emails with more than 50,000 suggestions, the baby polar bear's name is..."Flocke", which is German for "Flake." What a loser name. This kid is now destined to be a flake--an eccentric screwball, someone who is pretty much on the fringes of civilized society, like Phil Spector or Dennis Kucinich or Sandra Lee, the Semi-Homemade chick on the Food Network. Whatever. "Flocke" will always be "Elinor" to me.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Would You Like Some Politics With That?

One would think that since I am a political junkie, I would be in heaven with this absurdly long Primary Season we've had, seeing as how it began last spring with a debate aired in late April. Now, we are actually all excited about THE! IOWA! CAUCUS! , a political ride in a wayback machine at which I think The Menfolk stand around in plaid knickers and weskits whilst the little ladies circulate demurely in petticoats and farthingales and serve lemonade and try very hard not to swoon. Or something. The press got all revved up about the results from a little flyover state which is geographically kinda mid-north, but whose personality is plumb South (give us our guns, God, and go-away-gays). Suddenly, a town meeting is do-or-die, and hurry, catch your breath because New Hampshire is here. (Two candidates for the Good Guys have already dropped out, Biden and Dodd.)

New Hampshire is not indicative of the tenor of the nation, either. (How many black people live in New Hampshire? How many Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, or Asians live there? NH has a much bigger percentage of registered Independents than other states, and this is for them an open primary. They can decide to cast their ballots either for a Democrat or a republican. ) The press, however, predict dire consequences for the candidates who don't do well here.
It would seem the Big States and Super Tuesday don't mean a thing. And that's what really frosts my cupcakes.

See, Ohio--my state--doesn't hold its primary until March. I don't know why, and I don't really care to know. All I know is this: I don't want my candidate, whomever that may be, to already be decided for me by then. Especially by THE MEDIA. Just because they've had a feeding frenzy of opportunism. You know what I mean because you're seeing it with Hillary. She wasn't "inevitable" until the media started all of its polling eleventy billion years ago. She became the presumptive front runner and then It started. And it became the "I-word." Inevitable. We saw it with Howard Dean. "The Scream" didn't take down Howard Dean (and, for the record, I was never a Howard Dean supporter), inevitability took down Howard Dean.

So, I'm irked at this stretched out, epic primary election season. It's unnecessary and reminds me of the Benjamin Franklin quote about visitors who stick around too long: "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." Well, politicians and the process, like fish, begin to stink, after almost a whole effing year. AND THAT'S JUST THE PRIMARIES!

Can someone please tell me why every state doesn't hold its primary on the same day? On a SUPER MEGA-TUESDAY, if you will? Seems fair to me. That way, the media can't pee in anyone's pool, so to speak. It's all fair and everyone gets a shot. Even Little Dennis.

Speaking of Dennis, I took a quiz online that was supposed to help match me to my candidate. I've cut and pasted the results below, as well as the link to the quiz so you can make a similar connection. I have to say that I'm a little concerned about my top results. Obviously, they can be analyzed in a variety of ways, and initially, one could say that the results show that I am in serious need of some psychiactric help. If one cares to be more astutely analytical, I think it shows just how deeply disillusioned (read: driven to the far left liberal agenda) I've become due to the Angel of Death's immoral and corrupt agenda for the past 7 years.

87% Dennis Kucinich
86% Mike Gravel
86% Chris Dodd
86% Barack Obama
85% John Edwards
84% Hillary Clinton
81% Joe Biden
75% Bill Richardson
40% Rudy Giuliani
26% Tom Tancredo
25% John McCain
23% Ron Paul
22% Mitt Romney
19% Mike Huckabee
10% Fred Thompson

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz
Go take the quiz and get back to me in comments. I'm off to see the results of New Hampshire. Yawn. Screw them. Maybe I'll just watch a House rerun instead. Who cares about a bunch of Independent caucasians who talk funny anyway? ;-)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Nance & The Seven Dept. Dwarves (Even Though Disney Misspells It As "Dwarfs"--No Lie)

Wow. So...that was a bit of a break, wasn't it? Sadly, it was back to The Rock for me today, and while I was busily mining the grey matter of my sophomores for the fine distinctions of indirect objects and objects of prepositions--not to mention the obligatory simple subjects and action verbs, of course--it brought to mind the Miners Extraordinaire themselves and, thus, a Theme for this post was born!

Dopey: For Christmas I received The Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson. Not only is this book filled with fascinating trivia that disproves conventionally believed trivia (no, Thomas Crapper did NOT invent the flush toilet and a rhinoceros horn is NOT actually made of hair), but the writing is delightful. One of my favorite sentences: When surprised, rhinos urinate and defecate prodigiously. What a smart way to say an alarmed rhino poops and pees a lot.

Grumpy: I am increasingly irritated by the number of diet plan, low-fat food, exercise equipment, and other "health"-oriented ads now on television since The New Year. What a load of guilt-driven bullshit. These are the same people who hawked nothing but food and booze for the entire two Holiday Months previous. Leave everyone alone! If the consumer wants to lose weight, he will. He knows what's out there, believe me. Shut the hell up and go back to advertising the Gas-Guzzling Trucks Sold By Obnoxious Country Music Singers even though gasoline is sky-high and our carbon footprint is the size of Sasquatch's. Sigh.

Doc: Would all of You Sick People stop coming to school and work and contaminating me and my work space? You are not heroes, my darlings, really. You are Sick. You need to stay home with your viruses and your bacterials and get better with rest, megadoses of vitamin C, lots of liquids (not sherry or JB), chicken soup (add a knob of fresh ginger; trust me, it is delicious and helps break up that hideous mucus), and lots of lovely movies on the DVD player. We can--we must try--to get along without you. It will be okay. Come back when you feel better and are not contagious and icky.

Bashful: Are you kidding? ME? I haven't been bashful since my last mammogram, and since I'm flat as a board, that wasn't very.

Sneezy: Every morning in the lounge, I have the urge to sneeze and I can't get it to come out. Oh yes, I look at the light, I breathe in real slow through my nose, yadda yadda dah dah dah. It never happens...until my third period class. Then I sneeze. When I am in school, I do NOT sneeze "for real." I have a tiny, little, peep of a sneeze because I am afraid a huge snotful thing will fly out, so when I sneeze in school, it sounds like Tweety Bird is saying "tyoo." It is ridiculous. is better than a huge snotful thing flying out.

Sleepy: Yesterday, I discovered how pathetic I really am. How I am at the mercy of the Caffeine Monkey On My Back. I did not have my usual mug o' coffee, and by 2:45 PM, I was dragging my ass around like it was a toddler in a backpack. But, of course, if I had a cup then, it would keep me up all night, and I had school the next day, so I didn't dare. By 7:00PM, I fell asleep sitting up on the couch, waking up 15 minutes later, totally disgusted with myself. With an enormous banging headache. I WAS IN CAFFEINE WITHDRAWAL. FROM ONE CUP A DAY! HOW SAD AM I?!

Happy: Over break, we discovered that we were down to our last bottle of Cattail Creek Off-Dry Reisling. This is the wine we fell in love with from our last jaunt to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Rick said, "Let's go to Canada the weekend after Christmas and get some more!" So we did! We hurriedly called an inn there for a room, Rick got home from work early that Friday, and we spent the weekend there having a lovely time visiting wineries and relaxing. We snagged two cases of our favorite wine to last us for a while until we can get back there again. If you are ever in the mood for a lovely trip to Ontario and can visit N-o-t-L, please go visit Rosi at Cattail Creek. Their wines are incredible and will make you happy, too.

Speaking of happy...Happy 2008, everyone, from the Dept. of Nance. I'm ever hopeful.
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