Sunday, December 30, 2007
In support of the dh, I've taken a complete leave of my senses and rescued a labradoodle puppy. Here he is, as yet unnamed. His foster family called him Houdini, because he liked to escape. That's pretty good but we're looking for other options. Any suggestions?
Saturday, December 29, 2007
He can't see or speak well. His eye-hand coordination is askew (a forkful of mashed potato is just as likely to land on his cheek as in his mouth). Hasn't started walking yet. He's in a safety bed for now, like a big play pen for adults. He can do somersaults and cartwheels in it, but he can't escape from it. It's kinda funny.
He'll start intensive rehab today: physical, occupational, speech...they promise to work him hard and not let him get in any trouble. He'll be in rehab for weeks.
His recovery will take awhile, but the surgeon keeps telling me that he'll recover most, if not all, of what he's lost. So then I can't make jokes about him losing his marbles.
I have to make the jokes. There's no other way of getting through it.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I've been telling him for years he should have his head examined, and he finally did. The MRI shows a tumor the size of...a tangerine? A small orange? Something bigger than a clementine, but smaller than a grapefruit. Something in the citrus family.
Maybe a sports ball comparison would be better. Maybe a baseball? A hockey puck?
It's hard to tell, really, but the thing is big, and it's right there in the back of the head, close to the brain stem.
It needs to come out.
So he has surgery on Friday, before Christmas. The outcome is uncertain. He could be up and about in a couple of weeks. He could end up in rehab. He could lapse into a coma.
Of course, the best way to deal with this, as with all other catastrophes and misfortunes that befall us from time to time, is with seriously dark humor, which hides a cautious optimism.
Consequently, there is an upside to this: I've successfully bailed out of making Christmas dinner for 12. Yay!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I know I am. I loved Pee-Wee's Playhouse back in the day. When I left Florida, my co-workers pitched in for my farewell presents: A pullstring Pee-Wee Herman doll and Chairry, to keep me company on my return to NJ.
Chairry has a mouth-slot between its cushions that you can move using a knobby thing in the back. In the show, Chairry was a rather uninspired and bland character, almost the moral center of the show. Playing with the moral center of a kids' show isn't much fun. I mean, it's a chair for pete's sake.
Pee-Wee, on the other hand, was fun to play with. He's stuffed, not bendable. Maybe 16 inches tall. At one point, he said "I know you are but what am I?" among other famous expressions.
Now, however, he sits in my lonely attic with Chairry, and when I pull his string he says "beeedeeebeedeeebeeddeeeee" in a very high-pitched whine. I should have taken better care of him so I could unload him on ebay, but the truth is: I could never part with him.
Sexual symbolism runs amok throughout the commercial, featuring a too-smiley 12-year-old kid, his banana-eating dad (or perhaps his "funny" uncle) and a bunch of monkeys in propeller hats. Honestly, though, I think Reubens got a bum rap in the movie theater. If getting caught masturbating in a porn theater is enough to get you thrown in jail (and isn't that the whole point of the porn theater, to provide a safe, secure and nurturing environment in which to "shoot one's wad"), surely that makes Pee-Wee the perfect presidential candidate.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Monday, December 03, 2007
Whose idea was it to make rice crispy, and then put it in chocolate? I mean, rice and chocolate. That's like sliced bananas on a saltine.
Weathercasters here in the Northeast use this term "wintry mix" to describe a windy, rainy, snowy, sleety, icy, crappy weather condition that up until recently had not had a suitable adjective to describe it. Now they say it all the time, because it's a "wintry mix" time of year. Every channel. All the time.
"This morning, look out for a 'wintry mix,' and don't forget your umbrella. You'll need it for that 'wintry mix'! Hahahaha! Back to you, Juanita."
I frigging hate that expression now. "Wintry mix." Sounds like it should be something happy and sparkly, with little sugar snowflakes and peppermint, bits of silver and blue, maybe a festive pudding or a bowl of candy or something. But no. It's not something to look forward to. It's something to fear, encouraging people to run to the Ack-a-me RIGHT NOW to load up on milk and salt and a shovel that will only fall apart the moment you use it on the "wintry mix" left behind.
Speaking of pudding, I hate it when you're at the cashier, at, say, the CVS, say, this morning, and the person behind you just can't manage to hold onto their stuff, and stands very, very, too close to you to facilitate placing it all on the counter while you're still standing there continuing your transaction. Or even in the Ack-a-me, when people just can't wait to put their stuff on the belt after you. You barely have begun to put the divider thingy on, and they're already piling up their shit on the 1/2 inch of belt left.
Ah, yes. It's that grouchy, ho-frigging-Mchoho time of year.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
See? Even without the green food coloring, which I conveniently forgot when I went to the Ack-a-me to buy it, this is one sorry-ass cake.
It's not too badly misshapen, but what's with the bits and pieces of cake and crumbs in the frosting/icing? What's a gal gotta do?
To prevent her from donning her "martyr-mom" cape, I ought to mention here that yesterday was also my mother's birthday. Happy birthday, Mom.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Birthdays require cake, so I made a layer cake this morning. Usually, if the boys have a birthday party I wuss out and make a rectangle cake, only requiring frosting on the top. Or icing. Frosting. Icing. Is there a regional difference? My past attempts at layer cakes usually result in a sadly misshapen, leaning lump of cooked cake, with the outside frosting infiltrated with bumps and crumbs and small bits of cake. Not a very appetizing presentation.
For Boo's birthday, I'm expecting an even more unappetizing presentation, as his cake will have a mint buttercream frosting. And of course, nothing screams MINT!!!!! like green food coloring, which, of course, requires a special trip to the Ack-a-me, because the concept of "food coloring"--whereby a normal-colored food is transformed into an even more delicious NEON color--is lost on me.
The cake is done and cooling now, the devil's food.
My mother used to make a flour icing, with flour, sugar, butter and frigging Crisco. Crisco! A half a cup of white grease! This is a frosting made famous during World War II, when people ate Crisco by the spoonfuls to support the war effort. It sounds horrible, but it's really good on the devil's food. Not too sweet.
That's why I don't like canned frosting, unless I'm eating it directly out of the can like Crisco. Canned frosting is too sweet for cake. It's designed for direct can-to-mouth consumption.
Kids don't care, though; they don't know about the hardship and painstaking effort that's required to make the perfect frosting/icing. They can't tell the difference between canned and homemade. They don't care about the effort you put into the misshapen cake, or how many times you had to make the icing before it was just the right consistency. No matter how many times you tell them that homemade is and always will be superior to "store-bought" or "canned" or "BJs brand"...they don't care. They can't tell.
They just don't understand.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
(I have a love/hate relationship with the media anyway. I hate the way they swoop down on some stupid, irrelevant crumb of information (Britney ran over a photog's foot! How could she not when they're surrounding her car all the time?!) and turn it into an earth-shattering event. Yet, they're now telling us (well, maybe Fox isn't) that Scott McClellan is throwing Bush under the bus. That Bush and his evil gang of criminals actually--gasp!--told him to lie to the American public about their role in exposing Valerie Plame. So, I like that. I just wish they'd impeach this fucking guy and be done with it. We should be storming the frigging White House to physically remove this corrupt, cowardly sack of shit. And I rarely use the term "sack of shit" because it's kind of stupid, so it really means something coming from me.)
You kind of have to expect a younger candidate might have a history of some drinking and drug use. And I'm not sure I'd trust him/her if they didn't. I don't trust most of the "holier than thou" crowd, who surely have some skeletons in their closet somewhere, along with the leather bondage gear.
What irks me is the word "experimented."
You "experiment" with a childhood chemistry set. You "experiment" with your mother's makeup, your dad's razor. You "experiment" with kitchen ingredients, concocting this ghastly, delicious meal of Captain Crunch, Fluff and avacado.
What's it mean to "experiment" with drinking? Is that the same as creating a Long Island ice tea, just throwing a bunch of different liquors in a glass with ice, maybe mixing in a little soda or juice? How does one "experiment" with drugs? You either "take" them or "smoke" or "snort" them. I mean, there's no explanation for "experimenting." It's disingenuous, much like saying you didn't inhale.
It's supposed to make us think that, while you may have tried drinking and drugs back in the day, and even enjoyed doing those things for a while, you no longer indulge, at least to the extent you might have when you were younger. You grew out of it.
If you're a serious presidential candidate from Harvard Law School, we figured that out already. So you can just skip the "experimenting" part. We get it. We did it too.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
None of this really served to chill the general bad vibe coming from some parents who still don't quite understand that moviemaking isn't an exact science.
The boys were called at 9 am. (To get there by then, we had to leave at 7 am to account for rush hour traffic.) They sat and didn't start shooting until about 3 pm. We got home well after dark.
Now, I have no problem with this. I brought a book, my laptop, my ipod. But there were a few parents who just bitched the whole time about having to wait. Why was lunch so late? It's so cold in here! We should've been called in later. Aren't they DONE yet?
To those parents, I offer these immortal words from Julianne Moore, as Linda Partridge, in Magnolia:
"Shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up. Now, you must really shut the fuck up now, please - shut the fuck up."
You wanted your kids to be in the movie. You knew, going into it, that it would be a huge inconvenience to you to drive them to the set, to wait, to miss work...you knew all this going into it.
And yet, you're sitting there bitching about the inconvenience, the waiting, the missed work.
Parents love to bitch. I get it. But you're sitting here in the Green Barn, which has just been infiltrated by a bat, and there's nothing you can do about it now. It's cold. It's dark. You missed work. Look at the bright side: Your kid is filming a movie by a disheveled Academy Award-winning director. And the port-o-pots have a sink.
So shut the fuck up.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Which was kinda cool, except he's a short, rumply, disheveled sort of guy. He looked like he'd been out all night drinking sometime during 1976, fell asleep in his clothes, and woke up from a time warp to direct the movie.
Moviemaking is very slowgoing and tedious. At one point, one of the PAs tried to corral us back into the holding area, but we ducked inside a classroom, where we could view the filming outside. Which mostly consisted of the boys running around in their short shorts and tight t-shirts and kicking a soccer ball. Hell, we could do that during a Sunday soccer game and have a cocktail to go with.
But the food! The food has been delicious.
As parents, we are the last in line for lunch, and if there's nothing left by then, we miss out. We've hovered and paced the hallway like hungry cougers. We've had to wait for for the cast and crew to get their second and third helpings before we've been allowed to eat.
And damn! They've served many different kinds of salads, cold salads, fresh mozzarella (yum), lamb chops, turkey, ribs, chicken, pasta, salmon...and it's been good! Not like the buffet at your cousin's wedding. We try to restrain ourselves so as not to appear greedy, but I suppose we look like hungry moms, eagerly wolfing down anything that's not nailed down.
Food always tastes better when someone else makes it for you.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
You know the one: where the mini pad is riding the mechanical bull? Maybe it's a panty liner. It hardly matters.
And why not? I know the first thing I want to do after I've stuck the thing to the crotch of my underwear is ride a mechanical bull. My crotch really craves that rough stuff at the peak of its flow!
Sanitary pads (or "napkins" as they were so graphically named way back when, when sensitive mothers explained this mysterious find to their children after finding them prying in the cabinet beneath the sink: "Yes, Billy, it's called a napkin, but not the kind you wipe your chin with." "And Billy, by the way, that's "chocolated" Ex-Lax, it's not real chocolate. Well, heh, heh, you'll find out soon enough.") have really evolved so much over the years. When I started menstruating, I needed a damn contractor's toolbelt and an instruction manual to strap this brick-like thing on. Now they can go swimming and ride horseback and mechanical bulls all by themselves!
And, really, why should I have all the fun? Hey, mini pad, get on the bull and ride! It's fun! Yee-haw!
I'm a tampon gal myself. But sometimes a gal likes that extra layer of protection. And when I go supermarket shopping for mini pads, I think, "hmmm. What brand of mini pad would be a better mechanical bull rider? So many choices. Do I go with the extra-longs? The extra absorbent? That would make sense. The ultra-breathable? The freshly-scented?"
And then, of course, the choice becomes obvious. The winged mini pad. Of course! The wings keep the mini-pad from flying off the mechanical bull! It's genius! The wings must have spurs built in!
But wait. Unless...the wings help the mini pad..go flying off the mechanical bull! Because, well, they're wings, after all.
Geez, it could go either way. I don't think I'd be having this debate about tampons. Have you ever seen a tampon trying to balance itself on a mechanical bull? They fly off, they climb back on, they go flying off...it's pathetic. They shouldn't even try.
At the end of the commercial, I was told to "have a happy period." Is there any other kind? God, I'm ecstatic when I'm on the rag. I can't think of anything I'd rather do than down a few shots, strap on my winged mini pad and go hump a mechanical bull.
And that's just on a Monday night. Imagine what me and my mini pad would be capable of on the weekend! Just me and my high-flyin' bull-ridin' mini pad! Yee haw!
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
Hey, I'm a mighty consumer! I'm confident! I can stand up for my right not to be overcharged!
"I'm sorry. It scans $20.99."
"Well, it might scan that, but the sign says '14.99' for the 12-ounce candle," I politely informed her. "Plus the 25% off." I stood there in a daze as my lightning fast head calculations put the final cost at about, what...11, 12 dollars. Give or take.
She was wrong.
We marched down the aisles, my arms flailing wildly as I explained my point. We arrived at the candle display, where--very clearly, it seemed to me--the prices of the various sizes of candles were listed, next to a sign that promised 25% off of 3 different fragrances, the smell of dead leaves and rotting foliage among them. As it happens, there was a candle for sale that was $20.99, but it was a much larger candle.
"Here. It says $14.99 for the 12-ounce candle. And 25% off of that." It was CLEAR AS A FRIGGING BELL THIS GODDAMN CANDLE WAS $14.99.
"Well, no. The $14.99 is the sale price, including the 25% off."
"Well, when you have sales, you post the sale price next to the regular price. That's how I, as a consumer, know that an item's on sale." I pointed to another sign that in fact did this very thing. "That's not the case with this sign. As a consumer, I look at this sign, and it says $14.99."
"But that's with the 25% off."
"No. That's not how you do it here at Kohls. Do you understand how I would interpret this sign to mean that this particular candle is actually $14.99?"
"Well, no. You know, that's probably an old sign. I'll take it down." She removed the 25% off sign.
"Um...I'm not sure you're getting my drift. The sign that's still here says the candle is $14.99. Taking away the 25% off sign doesn't matter. The problem is, the sign says one thing, but it's scanning $20.99. Taking the 25% off sign won't change the scanned price. Which, according to the current sign should amount to...(again, using my zippity math skills)...about 11 dollars. Or twelve."
By this time she had crisply removed the 25% off sign that magically added 6 dollars to the advertised price and we marched back to customer service.
"You have to understand. I don't normally do this. I'm not a nag, I'm not usually a very assertive consumer. But I'm just trying to save you from yourselves." By this time, a line had formed at the counter.
I continued. "You keep that sign up, and you'll have more people like me demanding the price be changed."
"Oh, I don't think that will happen." She smiled insincerely.
"Whatever." By this time, I wasn't angry, but...a little agitated that she wasn't agreeing that Kohls was, in fact, wrong. I was right, she was wrong, dammit. The price couldn't have been interpreted any other way. It was like trying to explain the miserable failure of the Bush presidency to...oh, never mind.
I glanced behind me to see the line had grown. "If the price on the sign is wrong, you need to change it. If it's right, then you need to change it in the scanner. Whatever. The point is, the sign very clearly says $14.99, regardless of the 25% discount. I don't even care so much about the discount. But this candle is not $20.99," I said triumphantly, brandishing the candle about for emphasis. The people in line gave me the hairy eyeball and seemed to take a small step backward.
She just wasn't getting it. But at this point, perhaps sensing that I might be armed and crazy, she gave in. The price ended up being about $12. Which was great, but I was disappointed that I had not been persuasive enough for her to just say, "you know, you're right. And I'm a moron."
I'm tempted to go back today and look at the candles again. Just to see if they caved. In the meantime, "Autumn Foliage" actually smells pretty good.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
It's just another excuse for a grown-up cocktail party.
Some neighborhood parents assembled at the Slus house last evening for food and drinks. They're on a high-traffic corner so they get a lot of trick-or-treaters. All our kids are officially old enough to go out on their own, so we can relax outside for a couple of hours and eat and drink and shove the bowls of candy toward the kids and snarl, "Here, help yourself. NO, just one. Now say thank you. Say THANK YOU, you little bastards!"
There's no way I could outdo last year's Chef Boyardee costume, so I didn't even bother this year. Boo went out as Chris Angell, or however pretentious way he spells his name, and Remy was Elwood. One Blues Brother. They returned home with 10.6 pounds of candy, slightly short of the record 11 pounds.
And what's up with Dum Dum pops? And Smarties? Kids HATE them. Back in the day, you got regular size candy bars, maybe some Good N Plenty or JuJubes or something, but mostly it was chocolate, and lots of it.
These days you get prissy, diminutive Dum Dum pops and Smarties and those horrible Nerds, and maybe an individually wrapped Lifesaver. What's the frigging point of THAT? Might as well just open the door and throw sugar packets at the kids.
And those...little jelly things shaped like hamburgers and hot dogs from the dollar store. WTF?! What moron thought these were a good idea? Kids are savvy these days, they know the dollar store candy from the good stuff, and they'll just toss that cheap shit. Don't waste your money. Well, it's only a dollar, but still.
Monday, October 29, 2007
I'm not driven to greatness, but I want my kids to be.
My definition of parenting includes exposing my kids to extraordinary, out-of-the-box stuff. And that doesn't mean visiting Disneyworld for vacation every year, or driving a minivan with TVs.
So last week, Boo had a couple of days off of school to film The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter "No-longer-a-huge-tub-of-lard-so-don't-confuse-me-with-Michael-Moore" Jackson. I thought it might be fun for him to see how tedious and dreary moviemaking can be, even if it's a movie made by an Oscar-winning director.
I read the book a year or two ago, and remember none of it. None. I hear it's a good book.
Apparently there's a boys' soccer team in the story, and the dead gal's sister plays on the team. In the scenes they filmed last week, the team is running through a 70s-era neighborhood. Boo has a prime spot within the group, running right behind the gal, so hopefully he'll stay in the scene.
A van transported them to the set. Their driver happily cursed at them, which the boys thought was hilarious. "Hey, don't get fingerprints on my windows, you little bastards!" he hollered. "Someone get these fuckers off my bus!" The boys howled with laughter. Ha! Ha!
Between filming scenes, Boo had a conversation with Stanley Tucci, who plays the murderer (oops, did I give it away?) He said he was very nice. Stanley--may I call him Stanley?--has appeared in, like, everything. Mr. Tucci. Stanley. Stanleys' a funny name if you look at it long enough.
For authenticity, the boys had to wear 70s-era workout-wear. This meant tight, banded t-shirts and short shorts, with tube socks and Converse sneakers. All the boys were clearly uncomfortable in these outfits, since they're all used to wearing big baggy everything. They came out of wardrobe holding their limbs tightly to their bodies. They tugged their shorts down, trying to hide their white thighs. Their thighs are never exposed to the sun!
I shared with Boo the horror of 70s-era gym suits, those blue one-piece monstrosities girls were forced to wear, with the poofy, elasticized leg openings.
By the end of the shoot, they had all loosened up a little, united in their disdain for one of the boys, who kept waving to the camera and acting like an idiot. Otherwise, they became fast friends and are hoping to return in November to shoot some scenes in which they're actually playing soccer.
And the moms? We got to sit. And sit. And sit...
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
It's just another excuse for a grown-up cocktail party.
When the weather's nice--as it has been for every socccer game the boys have played--we bring coolers to the games filled with snacks and beer and wine coolers. More intrepid parents bring a thermos filled with a preferred cocktail, like gin and tonic. Hardcore drinkers...er, parents, bring bottles of hard liquor and stealthily prepare more elaborate cocktails from the back of the minivan.
We bring plastic cups--red for Republican, blue for Democrat--in which to disguise the beer and cocktails. We surreptitiously crack open a beer and quickly pour it in the cup, looking around to make sure no one's watching, which we all invariably do, so we can ask if there's more to share.
We behave like naughty 12-year-olds, sneaking a beer behind the barn, giggling and filled with our own cleverness, eagerly drinking up this forbidden fruit.
It's probably a violation of some rule or another. But hey. We're grownups! We revel in our own smug rebelliousness. We're weary 40-somethings who, back in the day, happily accepted the challenge of dropping acid and then drinking and driving. Hah! That'll teach those rule-makers!
The weather's been mostly warm and sunny, but it should turn by the weekend. When the crisp November air sweeps around the soccer fields, we'll bundle up in sweaters and hoodies and our Chase Utley fleece blankets, and moan about how cold it is. And then, when we get to that point of reason, say, after about 2 beers, 2 cocktails...we'll stop. We have kids to drive home, after all.
Monday, October 22, 2007
There’s a diverse mix of students in my V&D class. James is from Nigeria, blahblah is from Columbia, Sister Pepita is from the Phillipines and Occasional (named because of his attendance) is from Somalia. It’s always hilarious when the instructor hauls out the F-bomb and starts talking about venereal diseases in class while watching Sister squirm.
The other students are mostly college-age kids, mostly unkempt and apparently unbathed. Even the girls. They're sweet and dumb and self-absorbed; they know nothing about the world. When they presented their autobiographies, all they could talk about was elementary school and high school, ending with “and well, here I am in county college, and I don’t know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.”
I don't remember being that boring and misinformed at that age, but perhaps I was.
They wear slippers and sweatpants to class. Some are still wearing their pants at crotch level. Isn't that look over yet? They still forget to bring #2 pencils on test days.
And then there’s Bambi, a little haggard with a whiskey grin and a smoker’s cough, and a couple of kids of her own. Her daughter is a a drug addict, unable to care for her own 2-year-old daughter, so that job has fallen to Bambi. Which pretty much has to suck, so I will try to refrain from making snarky comments about her in the margins.
And nearly 2 months into class, the only interesting thing we've done in class is breathing and tongue exercises. And not with each other.
Monday, October 08, 2007
Given my acting background and the heady mix of praise and adulation I've received the last few summers as baseball/swim meet/bingo announcer (example: "Gee. You're funny. You make swim meets sound not so boring."), wellll, it's enough to make me plunk down some dough and attend classes twice a week where I can flaunt my life experiences in a classroom full of young, boneheaded college students who don't know the difference between JFK and RFK.
Class started in September, and this is about all I've learned: the "th" sound is rare outside of American English. And, oh yeah: James Earl Jones was a stutterer, and then was mute until high school.
And: I've listened intently to my instructor's hilarious stories not once but twice, even, and it's only the beginning of October.
I've started once again, just like in high school and college after that, cartooning and editorializing in the margins of my notebook when I'm not fully paying attention. Comments include:
"OH, this woman's going to drive me INSANE. We have to go over really simple things, like old movie plots, like SINGING IN THE FUCKING RAIN, just to bring her up to speed on popular culture." (This is referring to my classmate "Bambi,"--no kidding, Bambi--who is the class suckup, which isn't an attractive feature for a 40-something woman.)
Followed by a cartoon of a starlet with big boobs.
And here, look, Bambi asks this question of the instructor, which I've duly noted in the margin: "This is a nosy question, but...why did you get divorced after 28 years of marriage?" OMGAAHH. The instructor politely brushes her question off. Bambi is not the brightest color in the crayon box.
And here are some more margin cartoons, mostly of heads...I'm relearning to draw mouths.
"OK, when does the learning take place?" I ask plaintively in the margin. "I didn't pay to hear stories."
That's the class. We gave autobiographical speeches last class, which was rather fun, but I'm afraid the kids didn't get most of my jokes. Maybe they were too esoteric. Or maybe I wasn't speaking clearly!
I'm going to say more about the kids next time.
Friday, September 28, 2007
The Cialis commercials are really creeping me out. I guess now with football season upon us, so, too, will be more and more Cialis commercials.
The generic name for Cialis is tadalafil. As in, "Hey, honey, I have an erection. Ta-da!"
According to its website, Cialis improves the chance that a man will at least have one successful intercourse attempt. Multiple attempts per dose have not been studied.
Now, how would they study that? Wouldn't that be like watching porn? How would the conversation in the study lab go?
"OK, Steve, you've made a successful attempt at intercourse. Congratulations. You didn't....quite...get there, but you tried. Ok, now, I want you to keep trying."
"But I'm tired. I don't want to."
"Keep trying! You can do it, big guy! Millions of women worldwide are depending on you! C'mon, Steve, women love this stuff. C'mon, give it another shot. That's good. A little more to the left."
According to the website, Cialis has many benefits:
- Works for up to 36 hours.
- And, it also works fast.
How do you control that?
"Well, I don't want to have sex now for crissakes, but look: here's an erection. I wanted an erection 36 hours from now. What the HELL am I going to do with this? I'm in the frigging beer line at the ball game!"
- Works effectively. As opposed to working ineffectively.
- No need to plan around meals. Great! You won't have to buy her dinner first!
- Lets you choose when the moment's right (for both you and your partner)
Believe me, your partner wants nothing to do with it.
I think the commercials creep me out because the guys all seem like these lecherous, horny old men. And their women are all fawning over this magic, mammoth hard-on. Then there's the porn movie music playing in the background.
And then, in one commercial, the spent, happy, post-coital couple is inexplicably lounging around in his-n-her matching claw-foot bathtubs on the rocky shore.
Him: "Ahhh, wasn't that a fabulous ROMP, dear?"
Her: "Whatever." Rolls eyes, heaves big sigh.
Him: "Let's try making multiple attempts, shall we?"
Her: "Hmmmm. I don't think so. That hasn't been studied. I wouldn't want you to break anything."
I feel like I need a bath after watching these commercials. I'm not sure who they're designed for: guys don't pay attention to this crap on TV. As for me, well, the only horny, middle-age guy I want to see running around naked with a hard-on is Viggo. (And he does in Eastern Promises, but he gets beat up in a Russian bath house knife fight. What a waste of full frontal nudity.)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I'm not sure how the discussion came around to dead jews and slavery...according to one lady, we have a choice. Yay!
Yup. "Nobody likes war, but sometimes it's necessary." I'd like this gentleman to explain why, exactly, this particular war in Iraq is "necessary."
And then Bush has the nerve to say we still--still--need to be patient, and he needs $200 billion to fund more "necessary" war...yet there's not enough money for the SCHIP program? He's a fucking lunatic! Can't we just...coup, or something?
Ok, I've effectively raised my blood pressure for the day.
Monday, September 24, 2007
What's that about Bush being a "uniter, not a divider?" Delusional neocon twits.
The only Osama picture I saw was one that said: "Osama's free. Are we?"
Still working on the video; may repost ..
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Boo and I took the train to DC; his first trip on a “real” train. We hoofed it to the Capitol and then to the Mall. I didn’t think to look online to find out exactly where the anti-war protest march would be. I thought, hey, it’s DC. There’s the Mall. Where else would it be?
So we saw some folks gathered around a stage, flags flying…but there were only maybe 200 or so. THIS didn’t look like some grand protest march! My heart sank. Then I looked closer and saw the Harley jackets, the gnarly, mostly middle age white men milling about, and heard a faint whiff of country music, then I knew: it was a protest to protest the protest march!
We hightailed it from there to Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, where many more people had assembled, somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 altogether. I felt tingly—no kidding, I got goose bumps—when I saw the signs. It was electric. People of all ages, colors, religions, political leanings, galaxies, genders (two, possibly three), and species (dogs and children) had gathered to protest the war and the Bush administration. Spontaneous chants of “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Bush and Cheney have got to go!” and “Impeach!” and “Shame!” filled the air.
If you can't read it, the Hitler button quote is: What good fortune for governments that the people do not think.
This is what it felt like when I was in DC for the Million Mom March several years ago. That electricity you feel when you’re part of a large group with a common bond. And you're all pissed.
We listened to Ralph Nader (who was actually quite good), Cindy Sheehan, and some Iraq war vets, who were, to me anyway, the most moving. These guys are not only courageous, but are taking a risk by speaking out. They’ve frigging been there; they KNOW what it’s like, unlike our Chimp-in-Chief. They led the way as we moved along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol.
…to be continued. Maybe with video!
Friday, September 14, 2007
Oh, wait. He's still here.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
My bloodletter was a guy named Josh (or Justin, or Jesse, or Jake, or some other J-name that many 20-something boys seem to have). He was nerdy but cute enough. And chatty.
We talked of many things. The air circulator thing in the church was howling and making all this racket, and at one point it settled down. At which time he said, "Yay, it stopped."
"You said 'yay'," I said.
"Yeah. I say it a lot."
"I do TOO!" I exclaimed, my blood filling the bag at a record pace. "Just yesterday, I called about some x-rays, and they told me they were done, and I said, 'YAY' they're done!'"
"Yeah, but do you say it sincerely, or sarcastically?"
"Hmm. Good question. I'd say about 80% sincerely. I say it a lot."
"I'd say I say it about 70% sincerely. But my friends seem to say it more often sarcastically."
We talked about "yay" for awhile. And I do say it a lot. But it's not just me; more and more people are saying "Yay" for various reasons. "Yay, I'm going shopping, yay!" "Yay, I just put on 5 pounds." "Yay, the stupid trash men left the cans in the street again!" "Yay, we'll be in Iraq forever!" "Yay, I found a $5 dollar bill in my pocket!"
Listen, and you'll hear it.
I filled the bag in less than 5 minutes (Josh told me they like an average of 5 to 7 minutes), because I constantly squeeze on the squeezy thing to keep the flow going. He seemed impressed.
"Wow, NICE," he said. "You can lay down for me anytime."
At this point, after talking about "yay" and music and the Titanic, I wondered if he was just flirting with me. I overlooked the common grammatical error(lie/lay) and I took the bait.
"Only if you buy me dinner first."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I think God's probably pissed at us humans because we're mostly such horribly idiotic stewards of the earth and each other. For some reason, he decided to take a little terrorist action on my laundry line.
Yup. Nothing like a huge limb inexplicably dropping off an even more enormous oak tree to make you wake up and smell the fabric softener.
I think the national psyche will always be a little on edge on 9/11. But I don't waste a lot of time worrying about terrorists "following" us here. We've got quite enough local terrorists to go around.
The psycho neighbors, for example, and these mysterious late night prank phone calls we've been getting.
Or, today, some misanthrope decides to call in a few bombscares to the local county courthouse, thus putting one's children in "lockdown" mode at school.
Or, today, a homicidal escapee from the nearby mental hospital is reportedly roaming the local streets.
See? I don't need to look for terrorists abroad. They're literally in my backyard.
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
1: We didn't fall from the gorge-spanning, 100-year-old aero car and plunge into the swirling rapids below us, as I expected.
2: We didn't pay for a second day of transportation aboard the people mover, which was, well, illegal to do. We spent the day nonchalantly sneaking on and off, wearing hats or taking them off to confuse the drivers.
3: We saw aliens.
4: A hotel fire alarm awakened us at about 2:30 am Saturday; this ear-splitting, beeping warning coming from the ceiling speaker, with the rather vague announcement that, well, the alarm had been sounded, and they're "investigating." Just in case, you know, we might have been SLEEPING and couldn't fully understand what this horrifying sound was. They were "investigating." Well, what the hell does THAT mean? A FIRE? Should we EVACUATE? A terrorist attack? What the HELL is happening?After some discussion, I decided we ought to evacuate, at least give the boys a chance to see responsible adults in action. Fortunately, many other people chose to do the responsible adult thing and we all stood around the hotel grounds...looking up at the other suckers still in their rooms with the smug certainty they were going to be overcome by some poisonous gas or something.
And we stood. And stood. Finally, after no official word from anyone, we collectively shrugged and went back in. Those still in their rooms pointed at us, laughed, and promptly went back to sleep.
5. My purse was stolen. I swear, it was in the desk drawer, cleverly hidden from the maid, but then we saw a strange guy hovering around the cleaning cart as we were leaving for the day, and when we returned, my purse was GONE!
I immediately reported it to the hotel manager, who was patient and kind and worked with me on it. He brought up a guy who collects data from the key cards, showing when the door was opened. He patiently asked me to go over my morning activities and if there was any other possible explanation. There was none, as far as I was concerned.
Clearly, he recognized me for what I was: a dumb American middle-age blonde caught in a perimenopausal fog. They found the purse later that evening. I had left it in the dining room at breakfast.
Other than that, just the usual stuff:
Saturday, September 01, 2007
“We’re on vacation. Puh-leeze?”
“I’m not sure Hooters is…uh, appropriate for boys your age.”
What was I thinking? Of COURSE it’s appropriate. Hooters is appropriate for boys of any age!
So we trudged off to Hooters. It was nearly empty. A very pretty blonde Hooter greeted us warmly and showed us to a table. She was wearing the Hooters uniform of a tight white top and tight orange short shorts, made of some unforgiving space age latex/nylon/polyester material. And then the heavy, camouflaging pantyhose under the shorts—a timeless look since 1983. She took our drink orders.
A minute later, another Hooter--this one brunette with a schnozz like Jimmy Durante—asked us for our drink orders. She was rather buxom, but we were hoping for the blonde.
“We just told the blonde,” I said.
She looked puzzled. I’d confused her.
“Uh, well, ok then.” She then left for a good long while, and eventually, after we started twisting our heads around the room looking for her, she returned.
The kids ordered. The dh and I weren’t hungry, but in the spirit of Hooters, ordered 10 wings.
She looked concerned. “Are you sure? That’s not a lot of food.” Judging from her muffin top, I could understand her thinking that.
“Well, we just ate not too long ago,” I said.
“But that’s not enough for two people.”
“It’s ok. Really.” She looked at us like we were insane. Then she changed gears. “What can I get you to drink?”
Again with the drink order. I'd had a bad raspberry daquiri before, and now I wanted a Pepsi. I asked for a Pepsi.
“A Coke. A Pepsi. Whatever you have.”
“Ok.” She walked away. She returned 10 seconds later.
“I’m sorry. What did you say you wanted to drink?”
“Coke. Pepsi. Whatever.”
Five minutes later, she returned with our drinks. I got water.
An eternity after that, during which time people who had arrived well after we did were halfway through their own meals, our food arrived.
Boo’s hot dog was twisted and brown. Remy’s fries were cold. The plate of 10 wings looked like they had been sitting under a heat lamp for the last week or two. We didn’t want them fried, but that’s how they arrived. Fried under a big hot sun, so very, very fried. Arguably the worst wings I’ve ever had anywhere. In fact, the entire dining experience was probably the worst I’ve had in a long time.
We ate them anyway. We picked at the crispy fried skin and fat. In the spirit of Hooters.
The boys begged me for Hooters shirts, and I reluctantly bought them so they could get them autographed.
“Can you ask them?” Remy asked me.
“Nope. You wanted the shirts, you ask for the autographs.” Remy got all giggly and awkward, but joined his older brother to get autographs from these lamely famous Hooters.
“Breast wishes!” wrote Miranda.
“What’s up, hot stuff?” wrote Nicole.
“These Hooters girls think you’re a cutie!” wrote Jasmine, to Boo.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The natives were nice enough, if not a little humorless. For example: At the check-in at the end of Rainbow Bridge, the border patrol guy looked over our paperwork. He almost said hello.
"How do I get to the Sheraton Fallsview?" I asked, summoning up as much charm as I could, given that I had been driving for, what, maybe 7, 8 hours and looked like hell.
"Just go straight ahead."
I looked ahead. There were 3 different paths one could consider "straight ahead."
"Well, there are 3 roads that are straight ahead," I said, charmingly.
"Take the straight one."
"Uh, but the one on the right says "To the falls."
"That's on the right."
"So it's not straight ahead."
"Okayyyy...but there are 3 roads that are straight ahead."
"Take the straight one."
I peered at him intently now, to see if he was just being playful.
"So I take the middle one."
He looked at me disdainfully, convinced that I was yet another idiot American tourist, and explained how to get to where I needed to be. Never cracked a smile. I still think he was playing.
The Falls are truly breathtaking, but the town is kinda hung up on their tightrope walkers and wax. Wax everywhere: wax movie stars, wax rock stars, wax famous criminals...celebrities in wax everywhere, not always rendered flatteringly.
At the entrance of the Movieland wax place, Remy asked, "Who's THAT?"
"That's Brendan Fraser. From the Mummy."
"Oh. His hair looks like a toupee."
"Well, it is, because he's made of wax."
"Yeah, but it's all falling off. I mean, he doesn't even look real."
"Yes. That's because he's made of WAX. That's why I won't pay to go through these wax places, because what's the point of seeing celebrities made of wax? It's stupid. Think about it."
Score one for mom, sucking the fun out of a childhood vacation.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
That's the name of the show, 10! I guess because it's on the air at 10! and it's on Channel 10! And 10! is exciting!
As it happens, Remy is 10! Wow, spooky!
Anyway, it was his first modeling gig. We arrived at the studio way too early, as I usually make the mistake of being late, or, more frequently, allotting way too much time for unforeseen disasters, like traffic jams, flat tires, car crashes, bridge collapses, etc. Anything can happen, but it usually doesn't, so I ended up arriving about, oh, 35 minutes too early.
They didn't have much in the way of refreshments, so they brought the kids some soda and candy. Just like breakfast at home.
Remy was outfitted in a rather ugly orange striped polo shirt, and jeans about 2 sizes too big. He's an odd size: very tall, but skinny, so for pants to fit him in the waist, they end as long as his knees. To get them long enough, they're 2 sizes too big in the waist. Which is usually ok, given that the baggy, sloppy, look-at-my-underwear look is apparently still in. Which would still be ok, provided the pants actually could find a home on his hips. Which are virtually nonexistent.
But they didn't. They fell right to the floor. Which would've made for great live TV.
Nobody seemed to think that was a great idea, so there was a mad rush around the studio for something to hold them up. The PA found a big black clip thing and we clipped about 3 inches in the back. That's a good look.
The gal announced his name, and he strode up on stage (LIVE! Before a STUDIO AUDIENCE!) And he stood there, kinda swaying as if listening to some silent rap music in his head, put his hands at his pockets, eyes on the camera but couldn't resist checking his look on the studio monitor..and smiled. He smiled and smiled, and kinda giggled at one point, but he looked pretty comfortable out there on stage. Then they brought the other 3 kids up, these adorable 1st and 2nd graders..and there he is, towering over them. They did ok.
We discovered the unglamorous reality of live TV: lots of people running around with walkie talkies attached to them. And the host of the show? Always shorter than you think.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Why? I dunno. I'm mystified by this guy. Where the heck did he come from?
First of all, he's pretty hot for a 60-something guy. I'd do him, if Mick Jagger weren't around. Well, to be honest, the idea of doing Mick Jagger sets my teeth on edge. Ok, no Mick Jagger. Ok, still, for a friggin' 64-year-old, he's pretty fit. Ok, ok.
(Unfortunately, I'm at that awkward age where it's totally unrealistic to entertain the possibility of getting busy with a kid half my age; yet, the idea of doing some 60-year-old guy seems totally preposterous, because he's so OLD.)
So here's Mitt, a successful businessman (who has yet to divest himself of holdings in a company in Sudan, which promotes genocide) who happens to be a one-term governor, has this annoying tendency to "misspeak," and can't seem to make up his mind about important issues.
Who's very attractive. And articulate. Which, of course, makes him the antichrist.
And what's with the name, anyway? I just went along wth "Mitt" because I was too lazy to question it. "Mitt." Ok, the guy's named after a baseball glove. Mitt. It seemed odd that the MSM didn't pay more attention to his first name.
Mitt. Mitt. Mitt Romney. Nope, says CNN, nothing unusual about that, nosiree. I mean, they've got Wolf Blitzer on staff.
This started to bug me last night, after I'd been out with the girls and had a few blue hawaiians. Turns out--and I had to look it up because I truly had never heard the MSM use his real first name--Mitt's real first name is "Willard."
So, Willard conjures up a pretty negative image. Say it: President Willard Mitt Romney. Absolutely not.
In baseball, there are good baseball names, like "Jose," "Chipper," "Chase," "Wily Mo," "Crash," "Dizzy," "Catfish," "Rocco Baldelli."
"Mitt" is simply not a good presidential name. (Think "Grover Cleveland.") President Oven Mitt. President Baseball Mitt. President Mitten. It just doesn't work. And for that reason alone, the man should not be elected president.
After dropping the kids off at camp, the truck broke down in the middle of an intersection in Mt. Holly. Just quit. About a month ago the same thing happened, and we installed a new fuel filter and pump. At a cost of several hundred dollars.
So the guy tows us back to Mr. B's, (who is no longer my favorite mechanic) unloads the truck off the lift, crawls underneath, bangs on the bottom, and starts it up again.
Of course he didn't think to do this before towing it. Frankly, neither did we. It's like that printer at work. How would you know something will work if it never occurs to you to try it? He surmised it was some clog or another. I wonder if it will cost us another several hundred dollars for Mr. B to come to the same conclusion?
Later, I watched as 2 wandering Jehovah's Witnesses took a picture of my bumper magnets. I'm not sure if they thought they were amusing or are planning to report me to FBI.
The weird thing is, they didn't come up and knock on the door.
Friday, August 10, 2007
When Boo was younger, he used to wear pajama bottoms on his head and dance around his room. I’d watch him, reflected in the glass of the attic door, so he wouldn’t see me.
They don’t do this kind of stuff if they know you’re watching.
Monday, August 06, 2007
I got a MacBook. YAY! I love Apple!
Slide show was a success, thank you. Yay Keynote! Frigging suckass powerpoint is officially history.
Just finished up Tri-County weekend, in which the boys swam respectably and the adults, most notably those from Pheasant Run, acted like chimpanzees in the stands, hooting and hollering and going "oooo ooooo oooo" each time one of their swimmers finished an event. But I overheard an account of their team cheating during a meet, in which the other team's relay won on the touch, and proven on film, but by the time the cards made their way to the announcer, the outcome had been changed to reflect a Pheasant Run win. And with that event win, they won the meet. Oh, did I mention Pheasant Run cheated? Wow, sorry.
It's just like baseball. Parents ruin everything. They get into fisticuffs with other parents. They take over kids sports with their scheming and conniving and let's try this fancy play in which we fake it to the third baseman, and then the first baseman acts like he has the ball but doesn't, in an attempt to draw the runner and catch him off base. I frigging HATE that. It's not baseball by subterfuge. It's not baseball by illusion. It's just baseball. You pitch it, you hit it, you field it, you run the bases, you're out, you score a run. That's it. That's all it should be.
But these coaches huddle around with their trick plays, in effect making kids on the other team feel foolish and, well, tricked...what does that prove to their own team? That the game can't be won unless you humiliate the other team. Football has a couple of tricky plays, but everyone knows them. In baseball, these guys have secret meetings, devising these schemes, spending hours training their kids how to run them. And yeah, they often work. But at what cost? So these ego-driven, doughy middle age guys playing baseball vicariously through their own children get to play a little one-upsmanship against a bunch of 10-year-olds?
That's it, that's the driving force in kids' sports these days: coaches want bigger dicks.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
I swam in the Masters Meet this weekend: 25 breast and free, and 50 back and free in relays. Swimming fast is hard! The best I wanted to do was finish my races without sinking to the pool floor first, and I accomplished that. "Masters" is just code for "middle-age, doughy white people," which actually encompasses swimmers from about 20 to 85. The 85-year-old was a woman who did the 100 IM. God bless her; it took her about 10 minutes but she did it.
The women mostly wore figure-flaw-hiding black, which only works--and then only marginally--on the areas the suit actually covers, which, of course, doesn't include back fat rolls. With few exceptions, batwings and cottage cheese thighs were the norm. (Incidentally, nobody, but nobody, looks good in a swim cap and goggles, both of which stretch and contort your face into Phyllis Diller-like proportions).
Meanwhile, the men wore...well, it didn't really matter what the men wore. When they're in Speedos, there's no hiding anything, and as far as I could tell--and I researched this intently--most had nothing to brag about.
It was a fun day; we all cheered each other on and gave each other high fives, even if we lost our individual events miserably. Afterward, we enjoyed a BBQ and beer and fruity girly pineapple and coconut concoctions, and by the end of the day, we were vowing to embarrass ourselves, er, do it again next year.
Sunday, July 15, 2007
The dermatologist makes me nervous because it's really the only doctor that needs to see mostly all of your skin, which requires being mostly naked under harsh, unflattering fluorescent lighting. The paper cover-up thing they give you never seems to be big enough and I'm never quite sure how to wear it. Over my shoulders, like a cape? Over the front, but held together by a hand in the back? Around the back and open in the front, like a bath towel? It's all so confusing, and becomes moreso when it inevitably rips when you're trying to pull it just a little bit to cover that one exposed last inch of thigh skin.
This was a new Chinese doctor, so I had to listen carefully because of his accent. He looked around, checked out between my toes, commented on a birthmark on my back, and informed me I have mild rosacea on my face.
"The Irish tend to have rosacea. People think it's because they drink, but it's because they're Irish. Are you Irish?"
"Ah. Well, that's it, then." Eliminating the possibility that it's really from excessive drinking. Which it isn't. Really.
He starts examining my scalp. Then, a revelation:
"You have really big ears."
Now, nobody's ever told me this, and it has never before occurred to me that I have big ears.
"Yeah? Really? Gee, nobody's ever told me that before."
"Oh, yes." Then, sensing my concern that having big ears may be detrimental to my health--or at the very least, to my sense of self-esteem because now I think I look like fucking Dumbo--he adds, "People with big ears live longer." He smiles. He's making a joke. About my big ears! Ha! Ha!
"Ha! Well, you're pulling my leg now, doctor." At that time, he really was pulling my leg, looking for moles.
Now, some people might have been offended if their doctor made this observation. But because he was obviously amused by his discovery, I played along. I mean, so what? I have big ears. I can't change them. My hair covers them. But unfortunately, now that this has been brought to my attention, I'll forever notice the size of other people's ears, and compare them to my own. In fact, I looked at his. They seemed normal enough.
When I got home, I rushed to the mirror to look at my ears. He was right! They're huge! When the hell did THAT happen? Oh, NO! It's happening! My head is shrinking, and now my ears are getting bigger! Good grief, in 40 years, I'll look like this:
Saturday, July 07, 2007
But it was the unluckiest day in my laundry.
So I’m at the sink, picking off the shit that always seems to remain at the bottom of my glasses after they’ve run through the dishwasher, when I hear this horrible BANGBANGBANG in the basement. Not the jaunty BOOMBOOMBOOM the washer makes when it’s unbalanced; this was more sinister.
BANGBANGBANG. Really loud, like there’s an evil troll with a hammer, trying to get out.
I hustle downstairs, open the lid, and see that the machine has stopped spinning during the rinse cycle. That BANGBANGBANG is apparently the sound of the transmission whining that there are too many towels in there.
I fiddle with the knob, try different things, but it won’t spin. It’s done spinning. It’s spent.
Then I heave the soaking, sopping wet towels into the laundry basket to hang outside to dry. The damn thing’s heavy, so the handles break on my laundry basket. But I manage to get it outside, water dripping up and down steps and through the house.
I hang up a towel. The line creaks. I hang up another one at the other end. More creaking. I hang up a third. The line breaks and the towels fall to the ground.
But that’s ok. I have another, stronger one. I hang up all 6 towels. The line breaks. The towels fall to the ground.
Now the towels are dirty and I have to wash them again. I think if I were a neighbor and I watched all this, it’d be funny.
Because you demanded it, here are pictures of L's feet from the 4th. The top picture is from 2007; the bottom from 2006. She took a fashion risk by wearing different sandals. L often takes very colorful fashion risks, and you know how that tendency becomes exaggerated as women grow older, so we're really looking forward to what she'll be wearing in 20 years.
She has promised to stay away from pink cocktails, however.
Friday, July 06, 2007
This 4th of July in Wenonah was pretty much like all the rest of them have been, except it wasn't the hottest day of the year like it usually is. A little morning rain kept the heat away, and the lingering cloud cover and low humidity helped me stay fresh and dry throughout the festivities.
Usually by the time the firehouse opens, people are sweating and glistening like pigs.
What struck me this year is that people looked old. Classmates. Friends. Of course we all look older, but I've been able to kinda gloss over that and see people as they looked 20, 30 years ago.
I couldn't do that this year. I noticed balding heads, wrinkled faces, yellowed teeth, tummy bulges, broken capillaries...and while some of us have aged better than others...we're our parents now. Our parents look the same as they used to, but now we look like them. We're the people the kids look at now and call "old."
And yet...we can stand there and trade stories about youthful adventures and drink beer (though not as much as we used to) and still not feel any older than when we drank Bud and Annie Green Springs and smoked pot and piled into Tom Hoover's beat-up van, speeding down Breakneck road, Zeppelin on the 8-track, not knowing or caring what curveballs we would be faced with the next day.
Yup. It was 4th of July in Wenonah. Same as it ever was.