Friday, October 29, 2010

SPEED POLL: Halloween Costume

So Halloween is in two days, and I haven't exactly chosen a costume yet.  The Husband and I are going to have our own trick-or-treaters for the first time ever, so I really don't want to screw this up!

That's where you come in.

I have placed a poll in the toolbar.  It's right at the top, so it's easy to see.  Please vote on what costume I should wear for Halloween.  Choose whatever you think will best suit my sparkling personality and lack of coordination.  Here are the choices I came up with, following about 24 seconds of intense deliberation:

Fairy Princess
Crimefighting Superhero

Grammar Assassin Ninja
Abraham Lincoln

Justin Bieber
Harry Potter

(picture unavailable.  invisibility cloak suspected)

If you have a better idea than what's listed, then mark "WRITE-IN" and put it in the comments section. 

(This will be great practice for Election Day next week!  You're welcome.)

I solemnly vow that I will assemble and wear whatever costume choice wins.  I will even document it for posterity and post photos here, to kick off November with a bang.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Grammatical Rage, Expressed through Haiku

Sometimes I can be a little bit of a Grammar Troll.  Perhaps excessive reading as a child did this to me, or maybe it's just been exacerbated since I started tutoring students for the SAT.  Please note that I do not judge individuals by their grammar usage.  We all share this planet, and some of my favorite people in the entire world confuse their objective and subjective pronouns on a regular basis.  In any event, I try to restrain myself when possible, but sometimes I just cannot stop myself from blurting out, "It's 'him and ME!'  NOT "him and I!'"

I do this not to put on airs, nor to seem self-righteously linguistic; I simply have to release the bilious grammatical rage from my core from time to time, before it morphs into a Strunk & White supernova that consumes my person, the surrounding civilians, and eventually the world, collapsing into a black hole that was once the English language.

I should remind you that I occasionally hyperbolize.

Anyway, my rage this evening was stirred during a seemingly innocuous night in with the Husband.  There we were, lounging on the loveseat and fast-forwarding through The Biggest Loser to get to the parts when things actually happened.  I have largely grown accustomed to the poor grammar of reality television, but one bit of idiomatic idiocy stuck in my mind like a throwing star, flung by a grammar assassin ninja disguised as a Biggest Loser contestant:

"I think the team really stuck it out this week.  We binded together."


Oh no.

Really?  REALLY?

Rather than revisit the shock and anguish I felt, how about I just dive right into my rage-induced grammar haikus?

Apostrophe Catastrophe
Its: different than
Really.  Look it up.

To the Guy from The Biggest Loser
It's "BAND together."
NOT bind, NOT bound, NOT bonded.
Don't forget this one!

(band together (against someone or something)
to unite in opposition to someone or something; to unite against someone or something. We must band together against the enemy. Everyone banded together to finish the cleanup work.
See also: band, together

McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.)

Positive "Anymore"
Pittsburghers say this,
Like, "This bus stinks anymore."
I think it sounds weird.

Variations on "Your"
"Your" belongs to you.
"You're" serves to shorten "You are."
Not rocket science.

Hear and Their (Limerick!)
If it belongs to them, use "their";
Combining "they are" creates "they're."
With your ears, can you "hear"
How and when to use "here"?
It's the opposite of the other "there!"

Where You At?
Hate you, Boost Mobile.
Your slogan's a grammar fail.
On many levels.

Ten Items or Less
It should read "Fewer!"
Items are countable nouns...

Hardly None
Double negatives:
Little buggers cancel out.
Make a point next time.

What are your grammar/spelling pet peeves?  I've got an extra copy of "The Elements of Style" (or a super-sweet Grammar Award -- no joke) for anybody who expresses their peeve through poetry. 

Have at it!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #9: Speech and Well-Wishing Misfires

So many things about weddings can be photographed and catalogued for posterity: the people, the cake, the flowers, the dancing, and so on.  But even though a picture speaks a thousand words, sometimes it is just not enough to capture what really happened at a given moment.  Sometimes, the most memorable mental snapshots from weddings are the words that are spoken.  Especially when they are spoken into a microphone.

Speeches and toasts have become an integral part of wedding ceremonies and receptions, as well as rehearsal dinners.  When given properly, a speech can induce laughter, "awws," or even tears among the listeners.  It can become a truly touching moment between the speaker and the newlyweds.  A memorable, heart-tugging speech can transcend the years, and even earn the speaker a free pass if they forget a birthday or anniversary down the line!

However, I'm not here to write about that kind of speech (though the Husband and I have been fortunate to witness many of them).  I intend to write about the cringe-worthy, awkward, did-they-just-say-that, verbal vomit attacks that burn themselves into your memory for all the wrong reasons.

It is therefore with snarky delight that I present for your reading pleasure,

Number Nine: Speech and Well-Wishing Misfires

(awkwardness and creepiness measured on a 1-10 scale) 

At Rehearsal Dinners:

Said the Father of the Groom:
"You know what they say, future daughter-in-law... before you marry a man, you've got to make love to him to hold onto him.  And after you're married, you've got to hold onto him to make love to him!"

Crowd Response - uncomfortable chuckles
Awkwardness - 7
Creep Factor - 8.5

Said the Minister, following a very touching speech by the groom's father:
"I'd just like to say a few words about the bride and groom... (seventeen minutes of unmemorable rambling)... well, let's raise our glasses to these young people finally honoring the covenant of matrimony."

Crowd Response - halfhearted applause, after nearly falling asleep over our salad plates
Awkwardness - 6.4
Creep Factor - 2

Said the Aunt of the Bride, after one too many glasses of White Zin:
"All new brides need to watch out for SSF.  It is well-documented that a woman with PMS has some mood changes, but SSF in men gets little attention.  Deprive your husband of sleep, sex, or food, and he will become moodier than any woman!"

Crowd Response - bemused laughter
Awkwardness - 9.4 for the bride, 8.7 for the groom, 2.3 for everyone else
Creep Factor - 4.  Nobody wants to hear their auntie talk about the birds and the bees.

Said the Grandmother of the Groom:
"My grandson has certainly found an extraordinary young lady.  She plans to work outside the home!"

Crowd Response - pause, wondering if there is a punchline to this.  There isn't.  Belated "awww."
Awkwardness - 7.5
Creep Factor - 0.  Grandma's not creepy.  Feminist cousin Stephanie is looking majorly peeved, however.

At Receptions:

Said the Best Man, to begin his Best Man Speech:
"Well, as Mickey Rooney put it, 'Always get married in the morning.  That way, if it doesn't work out, you haven't wasted the whole day."

Crowd Response - indulgent chuckles, hoping the speech is going to get better (it does eventually).
Awkwardness - 4
Creep Factor - 0.6

Said the DJ when introducing the bridal party:
"I tossed back a few already, so let's hope I get these names right..."

Crowd Response - anxious pause, hoping that he will indeed pronounce them right (Note: he does not).
Awkwardness - 6.  Jumped to 8 when he tries to mix the Electric Slide with "Funky Town."
Creep Factor - 3.  Jumped to 9.7 when the DJ blindfolds the groom, spins him around, and encourages him to find the bride by feeling up the legs of everyone around him.

Said the Father of the Bride, after drinking his emotions, to the Groom and everyone else within earshot:
"Look at my daughter.  Isn't she HOT?  That's yours now, pal!"

Crowd Response - trying to pretend they didn't hear anything
Awkwardness - 9.5
Creep Factor - 9.8

Said the Maid of Honor, Sister of the Bride, during her speech:
"To my new brother-in-law: Welcome to the family.  You definitely made the right call in saying 'I do' today.  Not just because my sister is amazing, but also because in our family... we come armed."

Crowd Response - genuine laughter, accompanied by quick glances at the bride's father, a card-carrying NRA member, to see if he is actually packing inside his tuxedo jacket (unclear).
Awkwardness - negligible.  The term "shotgun wedding" comes to mind, however.
Creep Factor - 0.  The speech is sweet and genuine.  I'm not just saying that for fear of reprisals, either.
... really.

Said the Sister of the Groom, at the conclusion of the reception, which was designated as "Adults Only," chiefly because this particular sister's children are spoiled little devils who throw food and scream like miniature Naomi Campbells:
"This was a really beautiful wedding.  It would have been so much nicer if my children had been here."

Crowd Response - stunned "Oh no she DIDN'T!" silence.
Awkwardness - 9.  Particularly for the bride, who has invited this sister-in-law to be a bridesmaid and will have to see her at every family event for years to come.
Creep Witch Factor - 10+.  This sister knew exactly what she was doing, and she saved her remark to be the very last thing she said before flouncing out of their reception.  I hope the bride gives her a copy of "Miss Manners" for Christmas.  Every year.  The same edition.  With a little bookmark that says "Maybe you'll learn something this year..." 

That's all I have for now, Internet-people!  Now it's your turn!  What is the most outrageous remark you've ever heard at a wedding?  There might be a little super-sweet PRIZE for the most unique response in the comments section!  Just sayin'...

Also, please stay tuned for the next Wedding Mishaps installment:
Inebriated Guests Gone Wild!  COMPLETE WITH CARTOONS!!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lazy Blogging: LOOK, A PUPPY!!!

Evening, everyone,

Well, it was kind of a crappy Monday, all things considered.  This morning, I realized on the commute to work that an obese invisible pterodactyl had apparently perched itself between my shoulderblades.  This left my upper back in crunching, stabby pain that fell somewhere in between a Biggest Loser workout and death by monkeys.

Then I got to work, where we had our monthly committee meeting at noon.  This meeting usually sucks about three hours of life-force from my bones. 

It was ALMOST a better meeting today, because one of the committee members was retiring, so there was CAKE!  But then we were tricked, for the cake was followed by FOUR HOURS of wretched, wretched FAIL.  For those of you who are familiar with Alice in Wonderland, picture the caucus race:

(I'm Alice, btw, only I have to keep quiet and write down what everyone says, and I don't get to chase any white rabbits)

My day did improve after that, with choir rehearsal, breakfast-for-dinner, and a couple of great phone conversations.  However, in any case, I meant to blog about Wedding Mishap #9 tonight, but I've just had enough human stupidity for one day.  Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get into the next step on the countdown.  But for tonight, I present you with something wonderful... pictures of Riley, our puppy!

I know this sounds like a cop-out, and it kind of is.  But seriously, you try blogging with an invisible pterodactyl on your shoulderblades.  Try doing ANYTHING with an invisible pterodactyl on your shoulderblades.

Honestly, though, I'm a proud puppy mommy, and I kind of want to show him off a little.  I'm also about 60% sure that he might be a superhero dog in disguise.
(I tried to select pictures that emphasize both his heart-melting cuteness and his freakish double-joints)

Here is one time when we were on the road to Ohio and Riley climbed into the Husband's lap.  While he was driving.

Everything was really going okay, though... until Riley shifted the car into neutral on us.  And then he yawned:


Here he is, looking dashing, in a rare pose that does NOT expose his manhood for all to see.

And here is Riley using the Husband as a ballet barre.

My little sister Julianne (who has long since forgiven me for the Bathroom Incident) took GREAT care of Riley the last time we visited my family in Ohio:

And while we were there, Riley presented his own revision of "Lady and the Tramp":

(I bet you were expecting some sappy spaghetti scene, weren't you?) 

HERE is Riley's typical immodest pose, on our friends' couch. 

 (Every so often, I wonder if Riley is secretly Robert Opel, come back as a dog.)

One thing is for sure, though -- Riley certainly loves to snuggle.

Another thing -- Riley might be part polar bear:


But even Flashing, Part-Polar-Bear Super-Dogs need a rest once in a while:

Aaaaand sometimes they just need to let it all hang out.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Wedding Mishap Countdown!!! #10: Creeptastic Photographers

Good evening, Internet:

As you may have noted by my copious usage of and Travelocity, as well as Target's Online Gift Registry, the Husband and I have been attending a number of weddings over the past couple of years.  Ah, Internet, how helpful you were to me when I was planning my own nuptials!  And now, I can use your capabilities to share with others the proverbial Good, Bad, and Ugly that I've observed during all of these joyful unions!

So here's the deal, everyone who is not the Internet.  I've seen a lot of things happen at weddings (including at my own... you know who you are).  Some of these things are simply too outrageous, too tasteless, or too hilarious to not share with you through the wonders of technology.  This series of posts was precipitated by an experience at the wedding in Panama City earlier this month, a tale that I will save for the very last, because frankly, nothing can top it.  Seriously, you might want to just swear off reading forever after reading THAT story.  In a good way, I mean.  I hope.

But there are many stories to be told first -- and lessons to be learned! 
I've decided to kick this old school, with a Top Ten list.

(Garth's Mom would be on my list, too.  But I'm jumping ahead of myself... to Wedding Mishap #7)


 NUMBER 10: Creeptastic Photographers

 A few years ago, the Husband (then the Fiance) and I attended the wedding of some dear friends from college.  They had chosen to hold the ceremony and reception in this beautiful, historic performance hall in coastal Florida.  The seating was all nicely arranged on the main floor, and every unique touch seemed just perfect, from the curtained stage to the slender balcony that wrapped around the back of the room.  The Husband and I settled into our seats and waited eagerly as the ceremony began. 

One of the nice things about a wedding is that everyone dresses up in their best for the occasion.  Guys wear suits, gals wear dresses, and there are flowers, cufflinks, and laborious hair-dos in every direction.  As the seating of the mothers started down the aisle, I leaned my head on the Husband's shoulder and looked around happily.  Then I saw him.

Well, it might not have been the ACTUAL old man from Home Alone, but he seriously looked like him, except not secretly warm-hearted and full of Christmas spirit.  The man I saw just looked full of spirits.  Cheap ones.

The man I saw did not, it may be said, fit in at all with the well-heeled and coiffed assembly.  He had long, stringy hair, a scraggly beard, and a brown suit that was unremarkable except for its profusion of wrinkles and seeming lack of laundering.  In short, he looked like a homeless man with a very piercing stare.  And he was watching - nay, gawping - from the beautiful, narrow balcony, as the wedding proceeded below him.  I suddenly found my pleasant pre-ceremony emotions interrupted by anger at this wedding-crashing bum who could potentially pitch forward over the balcony railing at any moment.  I had to DO something!

I know what you might be thinking.  "Inky!  For shame!  That poor man was probably hungry, or lonely, or in need of some restoration of faith in the human spirit!  Don't judge!"  And you would be right.  Except you wouldn't.

I was getting hopping mad as the bridesmaids came down the aisle, all gussied up and beaming for their beloved friend.  "How DARE this guy intrude on this beautiful day?"  I thought.  But then the Husband pointed out to me that the man lurking on the balcony was holding a camera.  He wasn't intruding on the wedding - he was documenting it.  The homeless Old Man Marley was the wedding photographer.

For a moment I sat back in my seat, stunned by this revelation.  But the bride was approaching, so I got to my feet with everybody else.  I craned my head back to find the intense creeptographer, who was probably snapping pictures of the tops of heads and wondering where he left his Thunder Beach cigarette lighter... but he was gone.  GONE!

"Look!" I hissed as I tugged on the Husband's arm.  "See?  He WAS a wedding crasher!" 

The Husband shrugged at me, and I turned back around to face the aisle.  I had to stifle a shout, for there he was.  Old Man Marley was now following the beautiful bride down the aisle.  After a few moments, he shuffled with shocking speed to the back of the room.  From there, he shimmied along the side of the hall to reach the front before the bride and her father did, in order to capture their souls smiling faces as they reached the front.

The wedding was idyllic after I adjusted to seeing his haunting face everywhere.  I think the only way that the creeptographer could have been more intrusive would have been if he had sat on the groom's lap during the ceremony.  Following the wedding, the reception was also haunted by Marley's presence.  However, since everyone was moving around and talking loudly, it was easy enough to hide fom him and enjoy ourselves immensely.

So the take-away from this first Wedding Mishap is: don't select a photographer who seems even remotely creepy, because they may demonstrate an excess of creep when the big day arrives.  Try to find a photographer who is polished, professional, and prepared.  And preferably not easily confused with a faux murderer or homeless guy.

EDIT: Apparently I failed to follow my own advice when selecting my wedding photographer.  I found him through a web service designed to match you with "your ideal photographic style and personality" (do NOT recommend).  His name was Jeffrey (and probably still is, unless he's assumed a new identity).  He seemed to be a professional, capable, middle-aged fellow.  We met the day of the wedding, when Jeffrey showed up at my mother's house, entered the foyer, and promptly snapped a couple of pictures of the shocked semi-dressed bridesmaids at the top of the stairs.  At least his suit wasn't wrinkled, I guess.

Any experiences that you've had with wedding photogs that you would like to share?  Please post them - I'm eager to hear!

NEXT UP... Wedding Mishap #9: Speech and Toast Misfires

Monday, October 11, 2010

Poll Winner: Halloween Haikus

Oh, dear, I've been a neglectful little blog mommy!  Sorry about that, folks!  It's been a super-nuts week, so I only just had the chance to get to some Halloween-themed haikus.  Forgive me, Internet.  For being so late, that is.  Not for the haikus.  You're welcome for those.

Bus People Haikus came in a close second, so I'm going to get to those as soon as possible!  There might even be a little crossover tonight. Excited?  You ought to be!  Here we go...

This year I'm a mouse!
My baby sister's a cat...
I'm very confused.

I am scary witch!
With green lipstick on my face
Mean kid stole my broom! :(

First Grade
Look!  I am LAMB CHOP!
As in, "Song that never ends?"
(Mom thinks*)...this will get old fast.


Second Grade
Now I'm an angel!
Or maybe I'm a fairy...
I couldn't decide.

(you will note that my mom made all my awesome costumes, even with other kids milling about. GO, MOM!)

Third Grade

I'm an Indian!
... Er, Native American?
... I just want sugar.

Some Halloweens Later...
They said I was too old for candy,
But I made myself look very handy:
Got my lumberjack on,
(like from Monty Python)
And got treats just for looking so dandy!

(okay, so I slipped into limerick here.  Too much detail for 17 syllables.  And it was pretty sweet, because I made fake axes to go with the flannel shirts and everything.  It was during that millennial-teenager period when we "discovered" Monty Python and thought it was cool, edgy humor.  I don't have a picture, mostly because my fellow lumberjacks and I (there were three of us) wanted to avoid the pictorial shame of trick-or-treating as teenagers in the "candyland" neighborhood.  It's free candy, people!  Don't judge.  Anyway...)

Following Trick-or-Treating as a Teenager
Thirty-two Snickers?!
My life has reached its zenith.
Think I'll have one now...

Following Consumption of Approximately Half of Resultant Snickers Bars
Must learn self-control!
No more Snickers till next year!
...Well, maybe one more.

From the Kid Dressed as Captain Planet to the Delinquents TP'ing Houses
T.P. on a house?!
Halloween is no excuse
To be wasteful, fool!

From Me to the Delinquents TP'ing My House
I hope the next time
You use a public restroom
The roll's gone.  KARMA!

Teen Who Picks Halloween to Announce to Parents That He's Really A Warlock
"Look, Mom, I'm Wiccan."
"What do you mean, you're Wiccan?
Stop making up words!"

(I hesitated before posting this one, for fear of offending a Wiccan in Bulgaria or someplace.  The Husband pointed out that my odds of offending a Wiccan are very small, especially in Bulgaria.  Besides, I’m running low on hate mail.  So bring it on.)

Upon Discovering a Halloween Lady Gaga Lookalike Contest... for Babies
Just threw up in mouth.
Who would dress a kid like this?
Some folks shouldn't breed.

Guy at the Bus Stop
Likes to wear his cape,
Not because it's Halloween;
He's just a creeper.

More to come soon!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm Legitimate!!!!... ish!

This is going to be a regrettably short post, because it's late, and it's about 49 degrees in our house right now, and I need to crawl into bed before it ices over.  I'm wearing my bathrobe over the Husband's flannel shirt, and I can still feel my skin prickling.  We can't turn on our radiator heat yet, because our system is "open", meaning that a radiator is not hooked up.  Can you guess where?

Yes, the bathroom!  The still-not-at-all-finished bathroom!  We would never have expected when we started this project in July that we would have to keep the heat off in October because of the radiator system's connection to the Bathroom of Neverending Calamity.  But I digress -- pardon the cold-induced whining.  I'm writing this post for a far more productive reason......

This blog is just over two months old today!  HOORAY!  I haven't given up yet!

I've been working long and hard to make it reasonably funny and occasionally pictorial -- I hope you've enjoyed it so far.  I have a new series of posts planned that will be unlike anything you've ever read.  Mostly because of this weekend in Panama City inspiring me through utter insanity and something called "Thunder Beach."  I'll get it going for you as soon as I can!

The quest for legitimacy is far from over, however.  You may recall that I want ridiculous success.  In the short term, I want to be more famous than Ke$ha.  I mean, I have a modicum of talent.  I can tile bathtubs, crochet baby blankets, and bake a mean pumpkin pie.  PLUS I just figured out how to play the Charlie Brown theme on my Victorian piano.  I'm willing to work for it, see?  And I can't be more famous than THIS?

She looks like a first-grade art project rolled in glitter and grain alcohol.

However, I am on my way.  There are a few things, in my opinion, that you need to have to be a legit blog.  And I have begun to (finally) hit some of those marks:

1. Followers: I have some of those!  More than I have fingers and toes combined!

2. A rudimentary knowledge of how the interweb works: I have officially come to grips with the fact that the internet is not a series of tubes.  There are graphics, labels, links, hyperlinks -- I can even embed videos now!  See the end of this post for more.

3. Page hits: I have some of those too!

4. Spam: I received my first spam comment a few days ago!  It was absolutely delighful...

"mystery shopping companies Mystery Shopping provides an insight into what happens when hard won prospective buyers are in contact with your sales and customer service teams. Douglas Stafford’s range of Mystery Shopping services cover every aspect of the customer experience – on-site and face-to-face, on the telephone and electronically, through your website."

"there is a remote possibility that someone, somewhere may be reading your blog.  Some net troll is trying to peddle Douglas Stafford's Mystery Shopping services to your hard won prospective readers, because he is even more of an internet creeper than you are. kthxbai."

5. Hater Mail: I actually haven't received any of this yet!  I don't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.  It seems like some sort of weird validation, when someone considers you significant enough to spend five minutes (or more) insulting your writing, your hairstyle, and/or your very existence.

Well, hopefully I'll get some hate mail sometime soon, and then I'll know I've hit the big time.  Feel free to send some along if you're up to it -- please not too harsh, though, because any resultant tears might freeze on my face.  In the meantime, I feel like I've carved out a tiny sliver of legitimacy.  Thank you very, very much for being a part of it.  At this point, I can and will keep writing, if you'll keep reading.  I am too legit... you might say (sigh), too legit to quit.

(Ha-HA!  See what I did there?  I embedded a video!  And HERE's a link!)