Anglo File

Beyonce has Sasha Fierce; Bruce Banner, The Hulk. I have Ermintrude Devonsby-McKibbinsworth. I have a deep-seated desire to be British, probably stemming from a steady childhood diet of Benny Hill, Monty Python, and Masterpiece Theater that played in heavy rotation in my household.

Everything sounds so much more dignified when you speak the Queen’s. If I’m peckish, I’ll enjoy pint and perhaps a dish with rocket. If I’m knackered, I’ll have a bit of a lie-in. Even near-disaster is adorable, I’m almost chuffed to come a-cropper. Hugh Grant isn’t a pervert, he’s a just a prat.

I’d prefer to go to the loo or sit on my bum; chivvy along eating crisps. If I think an idea is crap, I just say, “Hmmm” or “Interesting.” I can ring your mobile and go for a nosh up at the pub for a few quid.

I can whinge instead of whine, ban the letter zed, consider words like “data” and “team” to be plural nouns, not the collective singular; develop an abiding love of all things clotted, and take my holiday–a fortnight at the sea.

I have a few things going for me already: I love the Beautiful Game, and I find the British version of “The Office” far funnier than the American version.I’ll just revert back to Barbara for a few things: dentistry and the Frito Pie.



Unnecessary Evils

You may have noticed I’m prone to strong opinions. There are many things in this world that are unbearable, disgusting, and traumatizing, but many of them are also useful or essential, like colonoscopies. But this is a list I think we can do without, in a segment I like to call JPU, or Just Plain Unnecessary.

1. Watermelons. Stop trying to convince me to like them by saying, “but they are mostly water!” I don’t like nasty flavored water, either.

2. Nasty flavored water. I don’t need my water to come in Black Cherry Dragon Fruit, Peach Mint, or “Skinny” Water varieties. Isn’t water already skinny? Just the H, the 2, and the O please. Crystal Yuck. It was equally as vile when it was Tang.

3. Ikea. It’s like a Chinese finger puzzle. The harder you strain to escape, the tighter it grips you. I imagine it’s a giant arena in which the masters are watching us scurry and try to break free.

4. Styrofoam. I don’t like the way it clings to me. I think it’s trying to colonize. I can’t stand the sound it makes when rubbing against a cardboard box. It freaks me out and is toxic to humans and the environment.

5. Celery. Again, I don’t see the point. This one is just stringy water.

6. Sweatpants. There’s just really no need, especially for the ones that advertise the contents within as “Juicy.”

7. Hummers. Embarrassing! I bet you don’t even own a kayak.

8. Egg Yolks. Especially the runny kind that people like to dip their toast in and ruin a perfectly good piece of toast. Super gross and happy food poisoning. (Note: I’m starting to make a connection to the origin of my oldest’s food issues.)

9. Moist. The word. I don’t like it. I avoid it. I’ll pass up the cake mix that advertises it’s the moistest. In the superlative, it’s even worse.

10. Word Finder Puzzles. I use the word “puzzles” loosely here.

Nut Elegy

I ask you: Has anyone fallen so far as Mr. Peanut?

Going from foppish man-about-town to Public Enemy #1 faster than you can say “Hold my Monocle”? He’s got about as much public sympathy as a boozed-up Mel Gibson with an opinion. He’s banned from schools and restaurants and has entire websites and blogs dedicated to his eradication. Only Joseph Kony enjoys more notoriety at the moment.

I feel like the lowly peanut deserves a break. His pariah status is cramping my style. It would be so nice to send a peanut butter sandwich to school at least one of the 132 days I have to pack a lunch. Surely the turkeys could use a break too. Couldn’t we establish March 28th as Peanuts In Da House day?

But it isn’t really his fault, after all. He seems to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time when we stripped our immunity systems of any useful job to do. Sort of like the victim of a hate crime. Thuggish antibodies sitting around with time on their hands and nothing to do. Who wouldn’t take a baseball bat to a nut in spats and a top hat? Something satisfying in the crack of the shell and the heaving lump of butter left behind.

In my extensive research (read: cursory Google Search) there is no organization dedicated to saving the peanut. Even the Peanut Board’s sheepish mission is to “provide peanut growers with a receptive and growing market.” Nothing about restoring the peanut to its former grandeur, elevating it to the king of nuts, going X-treme protein.

I guess the peanut never stood a chance, suffering first the indignity of the moniker “the goober pea”, the wholly unnecessary foam rubber confection known as the Circus Peanut and then becoming slang for pocket change. Not even an adorable cartoon, which as far as I can determine had nothing to do with nuts or nut products, could save it. How long before the verse becomes “Buy me an Energy Drink and Cracker Jacks”?

Somewhere George Washington Carver weeps.

Gender Bender

I am sort of perplexed about the recent uproar over the so-called “War on Women.” Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t one, I’m saying it has been going on for millennia, ladies. Case in point: ratio of women’s bathrooms to men’s. Rise up, sisters.

Desperately Seeking Stupid

Let’s talk about the R-word. First of all, in defense of its roots, it’s a useful word in the context of slowing down the progress of something. For instance, ritardando comes up in music a lot. Should it apply to people with mental or physical disabilities? Well, aside from the fact its connotation has rendered it offensive, its not a particularly accurate term anyway. So, let’s agree, no.

That word does pop into my head more than I’d like to admit. But if I’m to abstain, I do need a word to describe actions or persons who engage in actions so irretrievably ridiculous or irrational they merit they own word. It has no association with IQ. Bone-headed does not discriminate. I am among the most guilty. No matter how many times I do it, I am seemingly incapable of unloading the dryer without slamming that tiny protrusion on my elbow into the dryer door. And then howling in pain. Eric must think I really don’t like laundry.

So, I commence with finding an apt word for my lapses in judgment, lack of perception of bodily clearance, and general failure to act in accordance with my intellectual ability.

Here are the criteria I have assumed:

1. It can’t be offensive or derogatory to any group, other than people who do stupid things on occasion. We’ve already eliminated R. Bone-headed and block-headed may offend the generously-sized cranial types. I think PETA would take issue with “ass,” and besides that fails rule #2…

2. It has to work in verb, adjectival and noun form, as in, “I really _____ that”; “That was really ________” and “I’m such a(n) _____”.  Stupid, dumb, idiot, and dense are out.

3. It has to be one short word or compound word. I am already having challenges managing myself, I can’t be expected to get multi-syllabic here. Boorish/boor and imbecilic/imbecile fail here too.

4. It has to convey the appropriate amount of ineptitude. Dull, inane, fool, and doltish are almost charming, they don’t say how narrow an escape from the Idiot Awards it was.

So, I’m left with making up a word – a word that suits the purpose without having the baggage of being a perfectly useful term that people loaded with connotation and contextual meaning and turned it ugly.

I’m thinking “gack” as in, “I really gacked that” and “Did you see that total gack?” Epic gack. Uber gack. Gack attack. No lack of gack. (I’m just hoping if I type it enough times my auto-correct will stop changing it to “back.”) Mortal gack. Back to back gack. Gack flack. And maybe even gackity-gack.

Crazy Pique

I have a new obsession. It’s something I call “Peek o’ Crazy” It is a glimpse into the void that is the mind of the general public. Here’s how it works…

1. Open a browser with Google

2. Start to type in an open ended question, like, “What would you say if…”

3. Stare bat-shit in the face.

4. Repeat for hours of fun.

Just a sample of what I was able to turn up in a few minutes…

What should I be…doing right now? Well, here’s a suggestion…Try to make Siri cry by telling her that that Google has been talking smack and you’ve only got eyes for Majel. Alternatively, back away from the computer.

Why won’t…God heal amputees? Really, you get one question about God and that’s what you’re going with. Are you serious?

What makes you think…I won’t cut you? Whoa, ok. Issues. Moving on.

Why does… my cat lick me? I’m going out on a limb to guess the asker is the same one who asked, “What should I be doing right now?” Assuming that’s the case then we can safely assume said asker is 200 pounds overweight, subsists on Ben & Jerry’s, has a deathly pallor and the cat probably rightly thinks is close to a sudden demise. Besides, the cat already googled, “Do cats…eat humans?”  (I’m not kidding, it comes as number #5). And Fluffy knows the answer.

Boy Trouble

Eric commented on the dearth of snark lately and asked if I were in a good mood. I could not let such an accusation go unanswered. So here is one that I’ve been contemplating for, well, 16 years.

I live in a household dominated by boys–four of them if you count the dog. I don’t claim to understand their rituals and ways, but here are a few observations.

1. They are net zero beings and easily distracted by shiny objects. Anything they take on, they must jettison something else. This works with objects, thoughts, and especially to-do lists. It’s kind of like the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” books. It’s easy enough to reconstruct why there are Hot Wheels in the refrigerator and a tape measure inside my boots if you accept this axiom.

2. Males cannot walk by throw pillows on any surface without batting them all off and stepping on them. This would never occur to a girl.

3. A trip to the bathroom is an event. He might need a snack or reading material. I really wonder why there aren’t special PS3 consoles.

4. The urge to streak is strong. The urge to engage in pants-free activities is apparently impossible to resist. I have actually had to state, out loud, my policy on underwear at the dinner table and while playing the piano.

5. Boys come equipped with the ability to make sound effects that girls can’t.

6. The rules of socks are complex. After much observation, I have decided they are such:

If you are in the house, when the shoes come off, so must the socks. It is imperative that you leave them on the floor, but never together in the same room.

If you are outside, if the shoes come off, the socks must stay on.

If you are upstairs, you may leave the only the left one on. The right must never be found.

7. Boys have a loose interpretation of table manners.

8. Once in the shower or bath, boys forget why they are there. The soap and shampoo bottles do not jog the memory. They need to be reminded of the steps involved.

9. Men will spend time setting up an elaborate process to accomplish a simple task. By the time their process in place, their women have accomplished the task, cleaned up after themselves, and bought shoes.



Here comes Khaos

I’m not exactly sure what a Kardashian is and why I’d want to keep up with one. But from what I can glean, I’m going to posit that they are a tribe of wealthy, shallow, under-educated, over-modified, K-branded, caricatures that allow the average person to shake his head in wonder and go back to snaking the plumbing.

I would like to suggest a new idea for a reality show– a contest to become a Kardashian. It would be much like a presidential primary process, where the least desirable candidate can surge ahead at any given time, and like it or not, the establishment is stuck with him or her. In my own Kampaign, I’d market myself as Khaos Kardashian, the smudge on an otherwise immaculate white sofa, the honey badger of the Kardashian empire. The anti-Kardashian.

First of all, Khaos has a job and drives a Prius. Khaos has been spotted wearing Crocs and using coupons at the store. Khaos goes to the store and buys nasal spray. Khaos eats chicken in nugget format. Khaos has a PhD in Gender Studies, is a concert bassoonist, and has a skin condition inflamed by tanning beds and creams. Khaos hosts a drum circle, cries at AT&T commercials, and has a unicorn figurine collection. Khaos lends her celebrity to support micro financing for women’s co-operatives in the Congo. Khaos knows where the Congo is.

As for the slogan, “What America needs now is a little more Khaos!”


Bowling for Snoot

As it is college bowl season, I thought I’d share my decision tree of how to pick a team in any given game.

1. Follow the Money

Root for the school Eric and I went to: Northwestern. I figure at $20,000 a year, for a combined total of 11 years, we’ve earned the right to enthusiastically support the team that makes other teams’ bowl dreams come true. You may ask if I root for DePaul, since I do have a degree from there as well. Let’s put it this way…I’m unaware of it if they have a football team, and I have tried unsuccessfully to send my diploma back for a refund, as I’ve never used that particular degree.

2. Conference Solidarity

I generally stick with The Big 10 because in some complicated Ponzi scheme, it’s good for Northwestern’s program. I don’t recognize Nebraska or Penn State as part of The Big 10. They were late additions, hangers-on. It’s like adding Scrappy-Doo – brings the whole level of the enterprise down. I don’t even have to make a Penn State joke, but they also disqualify under both the silly helmet and unidentifiable mascot rules.

3 and 4. The Silly Helmet and Unidentifiable Mascot Rules

Talking to you, Oregon. Judging from your pathetic band uniforms (windbreakers and baseball caps?), you spent all your money on mirror ball helmets. I want my marching band in full outdated, impractical, foppish attire. I want feathers, spats and high stepping. I want my band to get jiggy with Hall & Oates. But I want my football team in smart uniforms with no white pants. Miami Dolphins also have a stupid helmet. Why does the dolphin wear a helmet? It covers his blow hole.

I don’t know what a Nittany Lion, a Hoya, or a Gorlok is.

5. Root against any or all of the following:

Ohio State (unless they are the only Big 10 team left, and we need a win)

Any Florida team (out of general principle)

Texas A&M (I resist for fear of being assimilated)

And if still unsure, use

6. The Bad-Ass-o-Meter

Determine which mascot would win in a fight:

Examples of Muy Badass: Badgers, Wolverines, Gary Busey

Examples of Latent Badass (could become aggressive if cornered): Wildcat, Cardinal (like the mean one in my yard), Bulldogs

Examples of Lame: Ducks, Banana Slugs, Hustlin’ Quakers (unless up against the Irascible Mennonites, of course)