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Wait, what?

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I’ve been absent while I slave towards a seemingly impossible goal of finishing my current WIP before the end of the month, but I had to break my silence to report of the stupidest headline I’ve ever read. On CNN.com, a headline reads “A Star Explodes Halfway Across The Universe”.

Okay, wait, what? If the universe is infinite, as some believe, then how does one determine a halfway point? Or, if the universe if finite, but too large to be measured, as others contend, you still can’t determine a halfway point.

To say something is “halfway” across the universe is to say that you know where the universe begins and ends. So, what’s wrong with just saying “A Star Explodes A Long Way Away”?

Driving Skills Pop Quiz…

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Question 1
You are in the right turn lane. The light is red. Do you:
A. Watch for an opening in traffic and safely turn on red?
B. Punch your accelerator and cut into traffic without a care for the drivers who have the right-of-way, because you are clearly in a much bigger hurry than they are?

Question 2
You are on a road with four lanes of traffic. The lane beside you is moving faster than the lane you are in. Do you:
A. Wait until there is an opening in traffic and safely move into the other lane?
B. Wait until there is barely a car length between the two cars beside you, then force your way in just before a red light, possibly creating a pile-up and, for the driver who ends up behind you, a ticket for failure to stop at a safe distance?

Question 3
You are a busy mom who has little time in the mornings. Do you:
A. Drop your child off at school, then make important phone calls while drinking your coffee at home?
B. Make important phone calls while drinking coffee and dropping your child off at school in you enormous SUV, even though you are clearly a stay-at-home-mom and could do two of these tasks at home without endangering the other drivers and children in the parking lot?

Question 4
You are driving a large lumber truck. Do you:
A. Keep in mind that you are seated above much of traffic, and proceed with extra caution to avoid possible accidents?
B. Assume the way is clear and tear out of the lumber yard without looking, causing the car directly in you path to swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid being crushed, then flip off the driver of said car, even though you did not have the right-of-way?

If you answered B to any of these questions, you were one of the jackasses that nearly killed me in my morning commute today. Thanks a lot, dillweeds!

Pieces Of My Misplaced Childhood

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That sounds like some fake ass “memoir” that James Frey would write, doesn’t it? Anyway, I’m looking for some books. I know it sounds crazy, but there are books that I loved as a child that I cannot for the life of me remember the names of now. I know that some of you who read my blog also have kids, and they might know what the heck I’m talking about. If you have any information regarding the titles or authors of these books, let me know, because it’s been driving me crazy for years.


  1. A collection of short stories in a giant, hardcover book. One of the stories was about a kid trying to outwit his sister in picking the color of the new toothbrush he wanted. He knew it was important to pick the color that he truly wanted and not be swayed by his sister’s machinations to get him to pick the color she didn’t want.
  2. A Y/A novel about a girl who was a medium. She helped the police to solve cases, and it was set in either the late 19th or early 20th century. At one point, she was trespassing on someone’s property and he shot a shotgun full of rock salt at her, if I recall correctly.
  3. A chapter book about a boy who lived in a town that was so foggy the residents had to memorize how many steps it was from landmark to landmark to make their way around town. The lead character was an errand boy and at some point a sinister magician-type man comes to town to commit a bank robbery or something nefarious.
  4. A book about about a doll house family who come to live when no one is playing with them.
  5. A book about a family of tiny people with tails who live in the walls of a house and get into all sorts of adventures.

Ring any bells for anyone?

OMG, WTF, ROFCOPTER vampires.

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I have very little time to blog today (big, important, superhero rock star things to do), but I had to share this. By share, I mean torture you with it. And by torture, I’m talking more about the “hurts so good” bdsm thank-you-master-may-I-have-another kind of pain, because I guarantee that some part of you is going to like this. The part that is trying to wrestle your bleeding wrists out of the warm tap water.

What? Vampires aren’t alive. They’re dead. That’s part of what makes them vampires. But I think my favorite part, aside from the interpretive dance, is the line “I sleep through the daylight, hence my grave.” It’s like he’s just singing a conversation. Like he’s the singing, speed-dating vampire. You just sit down and the trippy club music starts and he’s like, “My name is Peter and I like to ski! I have a time share in Hancock MA!” (Sing that to the tune of the music, trust me, it’s hilarious.

Now we do the dance of joy!

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Yeah, so, I’ve been an irresponsible blogger. I take responsibility for that, fully. But you don’t understand the lure that is Perfect Strangers on DVD. I got the seasons 1&2 DVD set, and I’ve been doing practically nothing but watching Balki and Cousin Larry, chortling heartily at their antics. Oh, Balki, pink lemonade doesn’t come from pink lemons, you crazy Meposian!

Since I’m not done watching my newfound treasure trove of TGIF comedy gold and obsessing over Mark Linn Baker’s hair, I’m going to make Wednesday a cop out catch up day and answer some blog comments from last week at random.

Ashley Ladd asked: What is “schmecksy”? Or the program about “Bob”? I never heard of them.

Okay, Ashley, I am happy to answer your very good questions. “Schmecksy” is the phonetic spelling of the way I pronounce “sexy,” but only when it applies to the really, terminally sexy. For instance, Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, or Iggy Pop. Either of those people are examples of schmecksy. It is an imminently changeable way of describing someone, and a single individual can pass in and out of schmecksiness as many times as I choose to upgrade or downgrade them. Brad Pitt, while very nice to look at it, has been in a sexy holding pattern since 1996, but Gerard Butler maintains the title of schmecksy, so long as he doesn’t say anything boneheaded or wear ugly sneakers.

As for “Bob,” he is a character from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series of books, and the television program of the same name. In the show, Bob is played by Terrence Mann, who is currently just sexy, until he gets rid of that beard he was wearing at the Pippin concert.

Tez Miller asked a lots of questions: You has kitties? Will you photograph them for us, please?

I do have cats. Three, unfortunately. Her Majesty, Fred, and George (the latter pair named for the Harry Potter twins, as they are brothers from the same litter). I would photograph them and share, but I have a very strict policy about people forcing others to view photographs about their cats. Namely, what goes around comes around, and the moment I post a picture of my cat, I’ll run into someone at a cocktail party who has a 3 gigabyte memory card full of cat pictures that I shall be forced to look at.

Do you drink the Diet Coke straight from the bottle? (I’m on small glasses of LA Ice MAX, which is a rip-off of Pepsi Max, Coke Zero.) I do drink Diet Coke straight from the two-litre bottle. I have a real problem.

Re Jenism: Do we come from outer space, or from the ground, where we rise like zombies?

In the post she left this comment on I had mentioned Jenism, my made-up religion. I’m glad to clear this bit of theology up. Jenism teaches that we’re not entirely sure where people came from, but it’s good that they did and that one of them had the idea for TV.

Re your chair: you know when the hard rubbish collection is coming up, and people put busted washing machines and whatnot on the nature strip about a week in advance of the collection? That’s when you poke through other people’s junk…and maybe find yourself a better chair.

I understood about five words of all that. I’m pretty sure “hard rubbish” is equal to “large item pickup” and that “the nature strip” is something to do with pubic hair. But the important bit is that I’m horrified at the suggestion of getting rid of my chair, no matter how uncomfortable, because I don’t like change. I had to buy new underpants the other day and I’ve been a ball of anxiety for quite a while. When we redid our basement den I nearly had to be hospitalized for exhaustion. The real kind, not the celebrity kind.

Bronwyn Green said: I think you need to bring the uglyass unicorns out of hiding and post them on your blog.

I’m saving that idea for another day when I have nothing to talk about and would rather watch Perfect Strangers.

Lori from Plainwell said:one time, i met this cool author at B&N on 28th st. i explained to her about how i kept telling my coworkers about how we were going to be BFF after meeting. and then she agreed to sign a book i was giving a friend “to my BFF’s….” she laughed and was a great sport. and then when i found out she sometimes writes at “coast”, i had to drive by on my way to B&N on Westnedge today, just in case she was going in or out and recognized me and had to invite me for coffee.
instead i got to point it out to my husband and tell him she goes there sometimes. he wasnt quite as impressed. what does he know?? 🙂

That author does sound cool. Also beautiful and very smecksy, with great taste in sitcoms. I think I’ve heard of her, and also seen her down at Dino’s, as well. This morning, in fact.

Ha ha, Cousin Larry is so not smooth with the chicks.

Jen Meets Celebrity Story #1

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Because I’m tired, cranky, and cold (it’s a balmy 18 degrees Fahrenheit where I am. That’s -7 degrees Celsius, 265 Kelvin), we’re having a “Listen to Jen ramble about a celebrity she met one time.” Otherwise known as “That time I met Mandy Patinkin once.”

Okay, this one time, I met Mandy Patinkin. But let me break it down with breathless, massively urple prose.

It was the winter of 1996. My mother, knowing my love of all things musical theatre, presented me with an early Valentine’s day present. Tickets to see Mandy Patinkin at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids on February 9th.

Now, since February 9th is my mother’s birthday, one might assume that she bought those tickets partially for herself, but I trust my mom. She used to give super awesome presents for weird holidays. For instance, one year for Christmas I got like, a VHS of Purple Rain and some random assorted weirdness from the outlet mall, but then for Valentine’s day she got me tickets to the lady’s professional figure skating world championships. She used to pull really weird pranks, too, like putting a life-sized cut out of Darth Vader in the doorway of my room so that when I opened it he would be looming over me and scare me half to death.

But I digress.

My mother bought us the tickets, as well as a hotel room at the swank downtown Amway Grand Plaza. If you are from Michigan, or are familiar with Amway, it will not surprise you to hear that these two properties are connected. We arrived in plenty of time to check in and went to dinner, but I couldn’t concentrate on eating. I was going to see Mandy Patinkin, of “Evita” and “Yentl” and “Sunday In The Park With George” fame. Also “The Princess Bride,” lest you forget about that a crucial part of the story not make sense.

Show time came closer and closer. We paused in the lobby to purchase his latest cd, “Oscar and Steve,” and I bounced and hopped in my seat, full of expectant, nervous thrill at the thought of finally seeing one of my favorite performers on stage.

The lights went down. Mandy came out. It was rapturous.

The show was very informal. He came out in jeans and a t-shirt. There was no backdrop on the stage, just the blank back wall and a ghost light, and Paul Ford at an upright piano. Mandy chattered like he was putting on a show for friends in his living room; at one point a woman’s coughing in the audience grew so distracting that he passed a bottle of water back to her. He stopped mid-song to sheepishly admit that he had to burp and it would ruin the mood of the piece, so he started a new song and promised to go back to the ruined one later. It was the most fun you could have watching a man and a piano, unless there was some sort of balancing act involved.

As we left, happy and excited about what a great evening it had been, an usher stopped us.

“Looks like you enjoyed the concert,” he said, indicating my perma-grin.

“Oh, yes!” I exclaimed. I might even have locked my hands together and brought them up behind my ear in the classic pose of a delighted child.

“Would you like to meet Mandy?” he asked. He might have added “backstage” to the end of that sentence, but I could hear him because all I heard in my head was the bit of The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” where Roger Daltry screams “YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!”

The usher led my mother and I to a backstage area, near the dressing rooms, where group of about twenty people waited in a line. A door opened. Mandy emerged, showing no signs of fatigue after his nearly two hour concert except the still damp sweat stains on his clothes.

It seemed a lifetime as we waited for him to sign autographs and pose for photos with the people ahead of us. I was almost convinced I was having one of those dreams like I always have where I’m about to eat a cupcake and then I wake up before I take the first bite and realize that there are no cupcakes, and the world is as hard and cruel as it has always been. Except in this case it was not a cupcake, it was Mandy Patinkin, and also, I would not bite him because I have learned my lesson about biting strangers.

But lo! I was no dream, and we approached the golden-throated near-counter-tenor that thrilled my drama geek heart as Georges Seurat in Sondheim’s opus “Sunday In The Park With George”! My palms sweating, I stepped up when he motioned me over. Trembling, I handed him the “Oscar and Steve” cd to sign, which he did, as well as my program. “Enjoy the show?” he asked, sounding just like Dr. Geiger from “Chicago Hope”, which makes sense because that was him. I just hadn’t, until that moment, realized that he sounded that cool in person.

I nodded dumbly and took my cd back. I opened my mouth to say “Thank you,” but what came out was this: “Say it.”

Without batting an eye, without pausing in momentary confusion, in fact, without any sort of change of expression at all aside from a charming half-smile, he said: “My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

“THAT WAS AWESOME!” I exclaimed, shaking his hand heartily. The ice broken, I told him about my theatrical aspirations (I was still laboring under the misconception that someday I would be a big Broadway star), and told him very earnestly, “I’m going to do what you do someday.” He smiled and said, “Well, I’ll see you down the road then.”

I was about to say thank you and walk away when a man with a press badge approached and interrupted. “Excuse me, Mr. Patinkin, can we get a picture for the Grand Rapids Press?”

I mumbled a quiet thank you and, clutching my cd and program, started to walk away, when Mandy said, “Wait, can she be in the picture too?”

I theorize that he’d overheard my conversation with my mother moments before our turn in line, when I’d lamented not knowing to bring a camera. Either that, or he thought the guy should have just waiting in the line and was annoyed at him.

The press guy looked a little bit put-off, but he said it would be okay. How are you going to tell Inigo Montoya no? Mandy waved me back over and put an arm around my shoulders and we said cheese for the camera. Just as the photographer was about to take the photo, Mandy called for him to wait. “Is that mom over there?” he asked, pointing to where my mother, all 5’2″ of her, stood, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up. “Let’s get mom in the picture, too!” Mandy said, and my mom hurried over to stand on the other side of him. With his arms around us like we were the greatest chums in the history of friendship, we smile big for the picture. Just as the flash goes, he turned his head and planted a great big kiss on my cheek. Everyone still in line laughed, my mother and I shook hands with him and thanked him again for the autographs. We went back to our hotel room and ordered an obscene amount of room service food, ate ourselves into comas and she even let me skip school the next day.

My only regret about the whole thing was that the picture never ran in the paper. It would have been a fantastic shot for my scrapbook, where my treasured pictures of all the celebrities I’ve stalked met go.

And that’s it. That’s the story about how this one time I met Mandy Patinkin once.