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In an effort to focus on something positive other than an election I am wary of, a financial crisis that enrages me, and the massive frustration of life in general, I’ve been indulging in some escapism. Now I have to admit up front that the book I’m going to go on and on about was written by a friend of long standing. However, as said friend can attest, had the book sucked, I would have told him so and would be writing a completely different entry right now warning all of you of the soul-crushing properties the novel contains. Fortunately, in the most simplified terms, the book rocks.

When I was a kid, my favorite stories hadda-kinda scare the crap out of me while humoring me at the same time. In the books and films I loved most, the adults were silly, slightly deranged, and gleefully endangered the lives of children who were serious and often more mature. Aside from inspiring a sense of wonder about the world, they also taught me to be wary of it. The movie Fantasia with the axe scene (careful what you wish for), Willy Wonka with the fantastic dispensing of all the annoying brats (everything in moderation), and hell, just about any fairy tale not involving a princess can be added to the list. Hansel and Gretel being my favorite, mostly because I believe the witch got a bad rap. If two little porkers came around eating my dream house of candy, you can be damn sure I’d be tossing their heaving fannies into the oven.

The unfortunate part of growing older though, lies in that fact that most escapist fiction for the older audience tends to be written from a science fiction perspective. Consequently, escapist fiction for kids tends to be rather insipid. Science fiction certainly has it’s place, but when I really want to escape from the world at large, I want straight up fantasy, no hi-tech gadgetry need apply, thanks. Lemony Snicket picked up the mantle with his “Series of Unfortunate Events” that appealed to all ages, but since the saga has ended, I have been left wanting. That is until now.

James Kennedy wrote “The Order of Odd Fish” some time ago. I remember when he emailed it to me after Sailor and I first moved to Maine. I spent a fantastic few days lying on my deck overlooking the graveyard with crows flying about reading of the trial and tribulations of Jo Laurouche in the alternate universe of Eldritch City. Rightly, the book was published and released in August.

I of course read it again, this time in proper binding, and was amazed the second time around at small nuances I had somehow missed before. I’ve read the book two more times since then picking out words and phrases that I know Kennedy has been fermenting in that noggin of his since high school. You got that, Kennedy? 2 MORE TIMES! What am I doing? You don’t even read this blog.

I’m not going to even bother trying to explain the plot, so instead I shall list all the things you don’t want to miss:

1. A Russian colonel who lives his life by his intuitive digestive system.

2. Sub-villain Ken Kiang, whom I always picture as Wyle E. Coyote with his “Superior Genius” whenever he appears.

3. The Belgian Prankster. THE BELGIAN PRANKSTER!. In a world of Osama Bin Laden and al’Qaeda, I find this super-villain name particularly enjoyable.

4. The telling of the history of the The Very Polite War.

5. The all powerful Box of Inconvenience.

But here’s what I love most about the book: it’s so fantastically out there. And I do mean out there. Suspend all disbelief if you plan to get through it. And while this is a novel geared towards young adults, come prepared with your dictionary. Kennedy does not deign to dumb it down for anyone. There’s a strict motto here: you’re along for the ride-all of it-or you’re not along at all.

In short, the book assumes the reader is of a certain amount of intelligence and in this age of micro-attention spans, text message spelling errors, and idiot celebu-tweens, I think it’s a rare joy to find a book that both adult and teen can enjoy for the fantasy and for its devilishly clever humor.

Note to Kennedy: you better get crackin’ on that sequel. I want to know the back story on Lily and Karsokov, and what the hell ever became of the Box of Inconvenience???

For two reasons:

#1: It was freezing last night so I was able to open up all the windows and actually SLEEP!

#2: The US Womens Sabre Team whooped ass and swept the sabre fencing event!!!

Way long time ago, in the before time, back in the “dream time”, I used to be a fencer. I learned as a tike and was often an object of curiosity because no one know what the hell fencing was and why I wanted to do it. I fenced through college and retired after thoroughly trashing my feet after many long years of the sport.

Back in that time, the US was able to produce some decent individual fencers, but never a team of note. I remember pretty regularly getting my butt kicked by Germans, Polish and fairly snotty Italian fencers, all my old teammates of course. And they all said the same thing: Americans will never be a fencing force.

The last few Olympics thought have witnessed the rise of the US fencer, and now that the broads have kicked fanny in Beijing, I find myself emailing all old fencing buddies and going:

NYA-NYA-NA-NA-NYA!!!

I say, there’s precious few things funnier in this world than my mother, overseas, drunk, and leaving rambling messages on my phone. Mummy is over on the Old Sod visiting the cousins and it seems like all they do over there is tie one on night after night, or maybe it’s actually continuous, I wouldn’t put it past them. Anyhoo-the result is that I am the receiver of Mother’s Jameson-fueled capitulations at the local drinking establishment in Western Cork, provided at length, in the Irish brogue that only comes out of hiding when she’s angry or drinking…heavily.

What makes it all the more hysterical is that my mom has never really quite grasped the concept of voicemail. Oh, she knows what it is, it’s just that she assumes everyone owns the same late 1980’s style answering machine she owns and further assumes everyone is secretly screening their phone calls…like she does, from behind the furniture apparently.

I present to you my mother, brought to you by Jameson Irish Whiskey (12 year, knowing her):

Yesterday’s Message:

“(my name)! It’s yer ma! Pick up da phone! Don’t tink I don’t know you’re there. Hidin. Behind the couch not answering this phone! Pick up! I picked me luggage to move it tah-cross the room yesterday and hurt me back sumin awful. I’m calling the docter after I get you to pick up the phone. Pick up! Talk to yer mudder! Saw the lovely stone tombs in the west county today. Musta hurt the poor old dears backs as well. A course, they didn’t have doctors. Or whiskey. How in ta world did man become civilized wit-out whiskey? Probably prayed the pain to go away like they prayed for 800 damn years for the English to get out. Of course, we Irish finally realized that God helps those who help tem-selves and set about extracting ’em from the premises. Good stuff that. Damn English! Okay, well, I’m hanging up. You can come out from behind the couch. Tell (Sailor) his old mudder in law sends her love. Watch yer back and lift with yer legs. All righty, bye.”

Mother is over there for another week, so by my calculations I have about another 6 or 7 of these phone calls coming to me.

I can’t help myself, this is just too hilarious and fact, after all, is stranger (and funnier) than fiction…

Seriously, you would have thought someone would have the sense to take the battery out if this thing .

“Hey there, big boy, is that a vibrator in that box or are you just trying to kill me?”

Sailor Man and I made it back from Detroit yesterday. We live another day to tell the tale. Here’s the short version:

1. To all travelers on I-75 and I-90, the nut-cases rockin’ out in the Yaris were listening to Talking Heads, I think that should explain everything.

2. My obnoxious and perpetually drunk Uncle Jim is still obnoxious and perpetually drunk and I didn’t even have to see him to verify this as all his cronies at the Gaelic League were kind enough to do it for me.

3. You still can not use the words English, English Muffin, England, Brit, British, Great Britain, Queen, Prince, King, Princess, London, United Kingdom, George Lloyd, Winston Churchill, or Devonshire Cream around my mother less you want to listen to a screaming tirade about 800 years of English oppression of the Irish.

4. My mom’s older sister, Aunt Mary and her husband, Uncle Bill, are forever the Dog’s Bollocks.

5. I didn’t think it possible, but my brother’s second wife has even a more whack job family than I do, in fact, they may even be scarier.

6. Drunken Jackasses who think they can walk across Iceland in a day should be given the opportunity to do so barefoot, in January, with only a small bag of trail mix and pint of Brenevin.

7. Big echo in Detroit from all the damn concrete. Is there nothing there they haven’t paved over?

8. If my brother is going to insist on keeping his family computer in the middle of his damn kitchen, then he needs to do a better job of securing his and his wife’s porn collection from innocent eyes.

9. Surprisingly, pre-teen children really dig old Bill Cosby stand up routines, which is exactly as life should be.

10. Sometimes there’s just not enough booze to get you through family dinner.

Happy Freakin’ Holidays…

Cowgalutah who is doin’ time in, wait for it, UTAH!, memed me. And since I am feeling ever so charitable this holiday season and since this is a topic I think I can really dig, here’s my go at it:

The Rules: I like this one because it is fairly simple. Write down things or people who make you suspicious. It could be a hundred things it could be nothing. I could go on, and on, and on with this, but I’ve kept it as short as my attention span.

Things/People I am suspicious of:

  • I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: I am suspicious of religious fanatics of all denominations. In fact, True Believers in general tend to creep me out unless it is the true belief in the Monroe Doctrine or the Prime Directive.
  • People who have “Precious Moments” figurines in their homes. I think those things come alive at night when those people sleep, crawl into their ears and eat their brains.
  • People who proclaim to “believe in angels”. I think they must have “Precious Moments” figurines in their homes.
  • Anyone who can’t name the Speaker of the House, the Minority Whip, the Secretary of Defense and at least 3 foreign leaders.
  • Anyone who is constantly on a diet.
  • Anyone who doesn’t drink, eat chocolate or consume coffee. Unless you have that weird enzyme defficiency or an allergy.
  • Anyone who wears white pants without getting them dirty.
  • Women with too much plastic surgery. Actually, I think they just freak me out.
  • Men who wear pinky rings!!
  • Men who claim they “really respect women” but then only date pop-tarts, blow-up dolls, and other inorganic material.
  • As much as I love it there, Iceland makes the list because it is too clean, the people are too nice, it’s all too perfect and it all seems too Stepford Wives-ish…
  • Did I mention “Precious Moments”? I don’t like the way those things look at me.
  • Anyone whose business title includes any of the following words: Congressman, Senator, Alderman, Councilman, President, Speaker,  Justice, Judge, Officer, Secretary of (Insert Title), Mayor, or Presidential Candidate.
  • People who have decorations for every single holiday (unless it’s for Guy Fox Day!), especially those inflatable ones that park on the lawn…oooooh, creepy….I don’t mind admitting I have nightmares about those things.
  • Anything containing the ingredient Soylent Green…

Okay! Now the fun part. I am enlisting the Eriepressible Emma, Eatin’ Vegan Melissa, and Fretting Andrea Frets as the tagged would-be memers! I think their responses should be enlightening, amusing, terribly witty and together will cure Restless Leg Syndrome . Don’t let me down, sisters! I believe in you!

I recently discovered the “stats” function on my blog and find myself becoming rather obsessive about them. I’m a math person, so I’m interested in what numbers have to say, particularly when one entry gets more play than another. I didn’t used to care, I just threw my nonsense out into the ether and if there was a comment or two, then goodie for me. But the new thing that has really got me going is the field where you can see what search terms have led people to your blog.

Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about some of them. In some cases, I’m not sure how the hell the two, the search phrase and my blog, are connected. But others are a freakin hoot. Here’s some examples of just yesterday:

“spanish word for break dancing”

“having sex outside”

“taking fox pee smell off my dog”

“taking fox pee snell off my child”

“how to quietly get rid of a coworker”

“how to field dress a deer”

“what’s the Robert Plant lyric about….” (it cut off and I really wish I knew what the rest of it was!)

“recipe for sweatmeat pie” (what the hell is that? Haggis?)

So for any of you that submitted the previous mentioned searches, welcome to my blog! Hope I provided thoughtful and insightful answers to life’s persistent questions. For the person looking for the sheep gut boiled delicacy, here you go:

HAGGIS 

1 sheep’s stomach bag
1 sheep’s pluck – liver, lungs and heart
3 onions
250g beef Suet
150g oatmeal
salt and black pepper
a pinch of cayenne
150mls of stock/gravy  

Haggis Cooking Directions:

1. Clean the stomach bag thoroughly and soak overnight. In the morning turn it inside out.

2. Wash the pluck and boil for 1.5 hours, ensuring the windpipe hangs over the pot allowing drainage of the impurities.

3. Mince the heart and lungs and grate half the liver.

4. Chop up the onions and suet.

5. Warm the oatmeal in the oven.

6. Mix all the above together and season with the salt and pepper. Then add the cayenne.

7. Pour over enough of the pluck boiled water to make the mixture watery.

8. Fill the bag with the mixture until it’s half full.

9. Press out the air and sew the bag up.

10. Boil for 3 hours (you may need to prick the bag with a wee needle if it looks like blowing up!) without the lid on.

11. Serve with neeps and tatties.

Enjoy with the ones you love…

I almost comitted murder last night. Truly. It’s rather funny story actually.

I came home after dinner with the in-laws (Sailor Man is off sailing at the current time), and having drugged the puppy dog earlier in the evening with a big dose of benadryl to keep her from chewing on her paws, she was not performing her usual guard duties.

Anyhoo-came home, little tipsy, and heard murmmuring up the stairs. Since we live in an enormously old home, I am used to the occassionaly odd sound, but this was different. As I crept closer to the sairs, I heard distinct talking up near the bedrooms. I tiptoed back to the kitchen, grabbed the de-boning knife and headed up the stairs.

I have to pause at this moment and explain a few things: one, I am not sensible enough to leave a house when I think there’s an intruder because the overwhelming sense of pissed-off violation kicks in, and two, the telephone was upstairs, so in my whacked-out brain, the plan was to go up the stairs, subdue the intruders, grab the phone, torture said intruders a bit, then maybe call the police.

While creeping down the hallway, the voices stop. I stop. I have no idea where they are. I open the first bedroom door. Empty. Peek in the first bathroom. Empty. Second bathroom. Nothing. Office. Again, nothing. I open the bedroom door. It looks empty. I sneak over to the walk-in in closet. No one. The master closet. Dammit, where are these effin goons? And then I hear it.

Voices in the hall. I go to the hall. Again, no one. Open the attic door, turn on the light, walk up the stairs, check all the closets up there. While in the attic, I hear them again only back downstairs. WTF?

I grab a second weapon at this point, one of my old fencing foils, and don’t let this fool you, these little bastards hurt in the hands of someone who knows how to use them, and I quietly sneak back down the stairs. As I exit the attic stairwell, I see the culprit.

The Mac computer.

Sailor Man has been teaching himself Gaelic for the last four years via a CD program he installed on the machine and for whatever reason, the damn thing was playing last night when I came home.

I dropped my weapons, sat on the floor and had a good, long laughing fit. Salome hobbled up the stairs in her drugged stupor and sat on my lap while I did so. She gave a drunk bark or two and then started snoring.

Thanks, dog, it’s the thought that counts.

1. 14 hours in a pair of heels is too damn long.

2. People planning all day weddings ought keep #1 in mind.

3. Copious amounts of whiskey makes #1 and #2 mighty bearable.

4. An observation really: isn’t it interesting that people go to such great lengths for “their special day” only to make it exactly like everyone else’s “special day”?

5. Going to seedy bars after weddings is fun.

6. When going to seedy bars: go en masse, and go to the first available.

7. Boozy broads in Anthropologie dresses in seedy bars tend to get away with a lot.

8. Playing pool in heels while inebriated is not a good idea.

9. Given #8, cheating at pool is always encouraged.

10. #9 is especially good when you find yourself playing a pool shark.