Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to All of You!

Hello Everyone!

For the first time in years, I will be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday!! We're packing up the trolls and heading north. God help me! I was seriously considering renting a limo where Tony and I could shut that swank window between the front and the back seats. Since that turned out not to financially feasible, we will brave it in the minivan and threaten to make any troublemakers ride on the roof (don't worry, they will be secured to luggage rack with rope). I will be thinking of you all and hoping that you have a safe and wonderful holiday. For those of you who might stumble over my pathetic online soapbox who do not live here in the U.S., I hope you have a great week (preferably warmer than I will have).

See ya!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My House

The Dream

I had a dream last night. I dreamt I went back to the house where I grew up. The house where my Italian family lived complete with grandparents. The house where so many warm and sweet memories were formed. I know there were some bad memories in the mix but somehow I can't remember very many and most were the spawn of teenage angst.

The house is here in the town where I still live. I have the opportunity to drive by it often and do. I will go out of my way a block or so to visit it and see what the new owners have done since the last time I drove by. Even though it's been 10 years since my parents have lived there, the people who bought it from my mom and dad will always be called "the new owners".

The holidays in this house were like those you'd see in a movie. My mom was an avid holiday decorator. We had nice decorations but much of it was what we had when I was very little in the 70's. Such excitement would ensue when Mom finally decided that today would be the day that the old, brown decoration boxes would come down from the attic. (Excitement for everyone except Dad because that meant he had to go and get them. Dad was not an avid decorator.) Every year, those boxes would get a little more tattered as they were passed down the attic stairs where the large metal springs on the attic door would catch and tear at the corrugated card board and every year more tape was added to extend their purpose.

The tree ornaments were old, glass, and usually from Germany. Some were newer Shiny Brites with flocked shooting stars and moons on them. As a teenager I pleaded with my mom not to put the ornaments on the tree we kids had made in school over the years, citing tackiness as a valid reason. Every year I lost that battle and up would go the paper chains and hand prints. The tree was always gorgeous and traditional. No theme trees because there are no memories in themes. Old glass beads hung from the dining room chandelier, and the kitchen had Christmas towels and pot holders and whatever wouldn't go somewhere else.

The food. Oh good Lord, the food! Fezzywig would have had a time keeping up with my mother's ability to throw a feast! We were Roman Catholic Italians so that meant fish on Christmas Eve. "Fish" meant scampi, calamari in marinara sauce (tentacles and all. I loved it.), or fettucini alfredo. There was always tons of wonderful salad "fixed" with mom's Italian dressing and served after the meal.

Sometimes, when we were older, we would pile in the car and go to Midnight Mass. If not, we went Christmas morning. My parents were never overkill on the "reason for the season" but Mass was very important.

Christmas Day started with Bloody Marys or Mimosas, coffee and presents. Then we ate and celebrated our way through the day. Antipasto salad piled high with Italian cold cuts, cheeses, marinated olives, and artichoke hearts. For dinner there was lasagna, standing rib roast, mashed potatoes, etc. Wine, wine, and more wine! Desserts were everywhere! Christmas cookies, struffoli (little balls of cookie dough that are deep fried and then drenched in honey and sprinkles), Italian pizzelle cookies, cakes, etc. Frozen grasshoppers were last (even we kids were allowed to drink them).

What I remember most though is, even as a teenager, not wanting to "get away" from the family. I wanted to be there and enjoy my family and whatever family was there from out of town. (One year, we had 18 relatives from out of town staying with us.) Italians are very emotional people and that usually means that someone has disowned someone else in the family. But during the holidays, it was all hugs and kisses. Grandma would pinch our cheeks and say,"Quanto sei bella!" I could go on and on. I was so lucky to have this as a

...but, back to my dream... I am driving by my old house and decide to stop. My 10 year old daughter is with me. Before I get to the front door, I notice that they are in the process of walling up a few windows. How odd, I think. I knock and a woman in her late fifties answers the door. She seems discontent, grouchy. When she finds out who I am she immediately gives me a tour of the house, to show me what she's done since they moved in. As I walked through the house, I recognize nothing... nothing. I see cracks in the walls and although there are furniture and curtains, the house feels vacant. I feel sad and lost. As she leads me back to the front door, she says that her kids are grown and gone and now it's just she and her mother (she rolls her eyes). She says that she's putting the house on the market and I should buy it back. Just before I leave the lady grabs my arm gently, just above the elbow, and says, "I almost forgot!" We turn to the left and she opens a pair of double doors. Memories flood as I realize that this was my grandparents' room. It was exactly the same as I remember it, even the smell. Yes, that old-people smell, but for me at that moment in a house that wasn't mine anymore, it was the sweetest smell.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Have You Noticed?

So I am in the evil Wally World (I think most know this means Walmart) today, and I am standing in the curtain aisle checking out this and that and out of the blue one of those people you see there that wears one of those blue vests comes over and says, "Is there something in particular your looking for?" BAM!... You know what that was? No, it wasn't Emeril... It was me falling over from shock! I actually went into a Walmart and was not only approached by an employee, but was also offered help unsolicited!! After gaining composure I put myself bodily between this person (who clearly had lost his mind) and my two-year-old and backed away slowly.

Later, I went to McDonalds to get said two-year-old some chicken nuggets for lunch. I ordered myself an unsweet tea which they now put into large styrofoam cups. While Two-year-old handles her drink with diligence and care, Mommy goes to pick up her tea and the styrofoam cup slips right out of her not-paying-attention-to-what-she's-doing hands. Tea went everywhere and I couldn't even blame the toddler who was still sucking away on her drink (but stopped sucking long enough to announce to the restaurant that, "Mommy made a mess!").

So I slink over to the counter sheepishly and ask for a mop (it was my mess after all, according to Two-year-old). The young girl behind the counter did what? Looked at me crossways, you say? Nay! Huffed and got the mop? No way! She handed me paper towels so that I could dry my pants and said, "Those new styrofoam cups are so slick! Don't you worry about nothing, Ma'am! I'll get it!" BAM! Hello Floor, I've missed you!

So, now I had just enough time to get to the grocery store and then pick up 10-year-old from school. Well, I had had enough time before my illness for thrift stores deterred me from my plan. After leaving my favorite second-hand-store, I realized that I would not have enough time to go across town to my beloved Publix supermarket. So, I sucked it up and drove to the Kroger which is five minutes from 10-year-old's school. I hate this Kroger. I hate most Krogers because the employees act like they are doing court ordered community service rather than making a paycheck. So I gather Two-year-old and my purse and go in to grab a few necessities (like Oreos). The sliding doors open and there, in a red vest this time, is an older gentleman who says, "Welcome to Kroger! You've got your arms full... Let me get a cart for you." BAM! BAM! BAM!!!!! Does someone have smelling salts?

Events such as these... these, unexplained occurrences of humanity are becoming more and more frequent. Husband and I have been discussing this for several weeks now. Invariably, one of us comes home with an incredulous story of customer service...

Now, I know that you've probably forgotten what those words mean so I took the liberty of going to Wikipedia for a definition:

Customer service

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Customer service is the provision of service to customers before, during and after a purchase.

We have decided that due to the poor economy, these huge corporations are pushing customer service in order to compete with other stores. Even Walmart is feeling the burn. People are tired, depressed and broke. They only have so much money to spend and they don't want to spend it where they are treated badly. They even might be able to scrape a few more dollars together for something extra if the shopping experience is pleasant.

We do have a second explanation: Aliens have taken over the bodies of retail employees nationwide.

But really, what fun is it if some employee in some big store offers to help you? You lose that oh so cheap feeling of having to interrupt their pressing text message to that chick in the produce department. Better to leave the money on the dresser check-out counter and leave.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Am SOOOO Happy!

I went to The Blog Doctor and I figured out how to get just about everything back!! I am so very happy to see everything as it was. I didn't realize how attached I was to coming to this blog everyday and "sittin' a spell" as they say here in the South. It's like that sofa in the den that feels as if it cuddles you right back. I was really just sick when I had lost so much. It definitely wasn't worth a flashy new blog template, lemme tell ya! So I will stick with what's here and what I know for now, and hopefully let my writing be my creative outlet. Thanks for the group therapy!

I Did Something Any Blogger Knows NOT TO DO!

I changed my template without saving my current one. Now, I am trying to revert and somethings are screwed up. Needless to say, I am an idiot and cannot seem to get somethings to work like they used to. I wish I knew how to fix it myself. My blog roll title is missing, I can't seem to get the date to go back to the way it was, and my title is so small. Who knows what other "treasures" are to be found lurking as I try to post new things. I am somewhat depressed about this.

So lesson learned?



Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Moment in the Life of a Comic Book Artist's Wife

Part 3: Conventions, Part 2

(Didn't know it would be this complicated, huh?)
Fans waiting to get into the San Diego Comicon

Okay, we discussed Klingons in our last lesson. That was VERY important for both your safety and your sanity! Now we are going to discuss "fanboys". Let's define "fanboy", shall we?

Mirriam-Webster Dictionary Online defines "fanboy" as follows:

Main Entry: fan·boy
Pronunciation: \ˈfan-ˌbȯi\
Function: noun
Date: 1919

: a boy who is an enthusiastic devotee (as of comics or movies)

So a Klingon is a particular type of fanboy... a particularly frustrating type of fanboy...

That being said, I think fanboys are some of the most wonderful (and intriguing) people on Earth. I once whispered the word "fanboy" to my husband during a convention and was told that even fanboys call themselves "fanboys" and that there was no reason to whisper the term. And here I thought it was derogatory! Who knew someone would want to be called "fanboy"? (I can't even tell you what some would call my enthusiasm for yarn or fabric...)

So, at conventions (let's call them "cons" for brevity's sake) there are lots of fanboys. I mean LOTS of fanboys! Before a con opens, it is not unusual for the line of fanboys waiting to get in to snake through the lobby of the convention center, out of the front doors, and around the block (This is where having a "guest" badge is most useful. There is a bit of satisfaction when one walks past such a line and waltzes right through the entrance. And, God I hate to admit this, it makes one feel sort of... important... Kinda like a body guard for Captain America. Kinda like Macy's, on the day after Thanksgiving, waiting to open the doors until YOU get there. Sorry fanboy friends, I can't help it!).

They wear costumes, t-shirts and shorts, those goth jeans with all the chains, baseball caps, earrings and nose rings, and suits. They carry back packs, boxes (sometimes stacked several high), art portfolios, messenger bags, and small children. Sometimes they look like this:

photo from

And sometimes they look like this:

OH! No! Sorry! I'm HIS fanboy....girl...whatever!

I have even seen a dad fanboy who displaced his baby to fill a stroller with comic book ephemera. His wife did not look pleased to lug said infant through the rest of the convention. Later when I saw fanboy dad's exhausted wife still holding the now dead-weight sleeping infant, I knew that this would be her last con and that fanboy dad would certainly regret his earlier decision.

At cons there are booths and booths of vendors. Vendors of comic books, toys, gaming paraphernalia, t-shirts, and all things manga. As I walk around the convention floor, I stop occasionally at these vendors just to see what's new, what's cool, and to buy the kids a little something. Inevitably my toes get stomped on. Sometimes I get gently shoved, head first, into the Transformers G1 Reissue Powermaster Optimus Prime. These boys, I mean fanboys, are serious shoppers! They know what they want and will go to each and every vendor to comparison shop. Nothing stands in their way (including the throng of Klingons who take up the entire aisle. Yes, I still have issues). They can manage the convention floor like Angelina Jolie manages her leading men. They are going for the throat and propriety be damned! This is something I can completely understand as I am just as much a bully in thrift, yarn, and fabric stores (in that order exactly).

But something miraculous takes place when a fanboy approaches the table of the comic book professional. They are no longer a shark in the sequential art sea. It's almost as if they've swigged a Red Bull and popped a Xanax at the same time. On the surface they are calm, polite, and sweet. But just below the surface, you can see the churning intense excitement of meeting one of the creators of the stories that make them happy. They are nervous when they speak and they say things like, "Excuse me, Mr. Harris. Would you sign a few of my comic books?" (I always chuckle when someone at least as old as my husband calls him "Mr.Harris". My husband is really not a "Mr. Harris". Plus, it's hard to understand the fanaticism when you wash "Mr. Harris'" underwear. Yes, I went there.)

My husband is one of the lucky people that makes a lot of fanboys happy. He's the second guy from the left.

It is very important to Tony to make his fan base happy. He spends most of the time signing books sketching, and talking to fans at cons. After all, these are the people who make our lives possible... they pay our bills and feed our kids. Sometimes I wonder, however, just how far Tony will go to keep even the smallest of fans content!

Photo Source: Side Eyes photostream

So that, my dear Pupils, is the second part of your schooling in the comic book convention survival guide. I am sure you all will put it to good use. Remember: when in doubt, go back to the hotel and ask for the sommelier!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Thoughts on the Eve of Veterans Day

Just a post to say that no matter what our political position is on the war overseas, let's remember what it must be like for our soldiers.

This song was written by Alice in Chains in 1992. The title comes from guitarist/songwriter Jerry Cantrell's father. "Rooster" was his nickname in Vietnam, where he fought in the war. The song is about some of his feelings and experiences, told from his perspective( If you've never heard it, be warned that it is of the Grunge genre so the music is a bit harsh but you can hear it here. There is a very pretty acoustical version also but I couldn't find a good link.

The Rooster
Alice in Chains

Ain't found a way to kill me yet
Eyes burn with stinging sweat
Seems every path leads me to nowhere
Wife and kids household pet
Army green was no safe bet
The bullets scream to me from somewhere

Here they come to snuff the rooster, aww yeah, hey yeah
Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
You know he ain't gonna die
No, no, no, ya know he ain't gonna die

Walkin' tall machine gun man
They spit on me in my home land
Gloria sent me pictures of my boy
Got my pills 'gainst mosquito death
My Buddy's breathin' his dyin' breath
Oh God please won't you help me make it through
Here they come to snuff the rooster, aww yeah
Yeah here come the rooster, yeah
You know he ain't gonna die No, no, no ya know he ain't gonna die

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Steak-O-Lean Part 7: A Pint of Fighting Cock

Small town grocery stores could provide both psychiatrists and anthropologists a life time of clients and case studies. The Piggly Wiggly in Carrington, Georgia was no different. Curtis couldn't keep his business in his pants even though he loved his wife with almost all of his heart. Dotti, after years of being an indulging parent, had realized that she should of have whipped her son's ass far more than she had when he was a child. Brandi's bright mind and sulky attitude made her the recipient of the worst of Curtis' pick-up lines. Twila? Well, Twila was just trailer trash. And May, poor pregnant May continued to pile her hair atop that tiny head and march into work each day to face the man she still loved... or hated... or loved... Well, it depended on the hour.

These folks had their faults, as all humans do. But they were good people too. Take, for instance, Curtis. Few people knew that everyday Curtis would go to the deli and buy a meal from the hot bar to take to the homeless veteran who hung out by the blue dumpster at the side of the store. He would also buy the guy a pint if the horrible evidence of alcohol withdrawal stared back at him in the form of fearful eyes and shaking limbs. Something in Curtis made it impossible for him to deny the things that this man needed. Perhaps it was the fact that Curtis' father had disappeared mysteriously on a seemingly routine TDY. Whatever the reason, Curtis felt responsible for this man's well being. He tried to give him a job as a bagger once but after two days on the job Curtis found the man back at the dumpster, bottle in hand, whimpering softly. That was the end of trying to change the situation and the beginning of enabling it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Romantic Mid Century

I have always said I should have lived in a time different from my own. I have always said that I should have lived in the 1940's or 50's. To me, life seemed simpler and far more swank.

Take for instance vintage tablecloths. If I could, I wish I could have been woven into their screen printed threads to hear the decades of stories; to hear the conversations over coffee between two neighbors, to feel jelly smooshed into my fibers by tiny fingers enjoying a peanut butter sandwich, to feel the loneliness of a housewife waiting up for her husband to get home from work. How it must have felt to hang free and clean from a clothes line flapping in the wind, all the while listening to the conversations of children hiding between me and my bedspread counterpart.

I also have several vintage hats. With no real purpose except to accentuate the perfectly powdered nose and painted bright red lips, these hats are true works of art. Sculptures made from felt, velvet, satin, and fur; set precisely on beautifully coifed heads and pierced with ornate hat pins. And all of this to go to the grocery store. Hats were a matter of pride, pride in one's appearance and stature. Pride in being a woman. Perhaps they were also a shield for what lay beneath the surface, an intricately stitched facade with matching coat and gloves.

So was life really easier? I found the following info at It's a glance at the major policy changes for a women during the mid century era. Let's not forget that only 18 years earlier we were finally allowed to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment. I think women had a few things to think about:

1938 The Fair Labor Standards Act establishes minimum wage without regard to sex.

1947 The U.S. Supreme Court says women are equally qualified with men to serve on juries but are granted an exemption and may serve or not as women choose.

1961 The U.S. Supreme Court upholds rules adopted by the state of Florida that made it far less likely for women than men to be called for jury service on the grounds that a “woman is still regarded as the center of home and family life.”

1963 The Equal Pay Act is passed by Congress, promising equitable wages for the same work, regardless of the race, color, religion, national origin or sex of the worker.

1964 Title VII of the Civil Rights Act passes including a prohibition against employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex.

Basically, if you wanted to work and and wanted to be treated fairly, you were screwed. So you are a stay at home mom and there's a 21.53 % chance that there is no vehicle in your household. There is a 56.94% chance ( that there is only one car in your household and more than likely your husband has it at work. Lonely? Perhaps...

I know my car is my escape.

It's my escape from the never ending laundry, the bills, the vacuuming, the "to do's" that never seem to get done. Would I be a better housekeeper if I had no car? I don't know. And let's not forget the technology that wouldn't be available: no computers, no cell phones, no cable/satellite tv (possibly no tv at all). You had to have a few bucks to afford the new electric vacuums, clothes dryers, dishwashers, and washing machines. If not, well, get out your brooms Ladies 'cause your man's gonna be home soon and he wants a clean house!

But, they were women, and women are ingenuitive. One of my favorite movie lines is from Dangerous Liasons. The Marquise (played by Glenn Close) is commenting on the social situation of women in 18th Century France.

Marquise de Merteuil: Well I had no choice, did I? I'm a woman. Women are obliged to be far more skillful than men. You can ruin our reputation and our life with a few well-chosen words. So of course I had to invent not only myself but ways of escape no one has every thought of before. And I've succeeded because I've always known I was born to dominate your sex and avenge my own.

Well, I'm not so sure that mid century women had it much better (wigs were optional so that counts for something). So many women were in the same boat of cultural predjudice that women's clubs abounded. Opportunities to get together and feel better about the situation in which they found themselves. Coffee over that vintage table cloth was therapy, the chance to release some of that loneliness and frustration.

Or perhaps, they were just too damn tired to be frustrated or lonely. You've probably seen this article. If not read it. I think you can click on it to make it bigger.

So with hats, gloves, laundry, sexism, and bright red lipstick, what's not to love about the American Mid Century? Can't say I want to go back and relive it. But I wouldn't say "no" to a visit or two!