Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You call yourselves geeks?

The good news: The computer is back. On Monday, I was without Internet access for 24 hours. I felt completely cut off from the outside world. I think I got the shakes at one point.

The bad news: The so-called "Geek" Squad couldn't get the hard drive back. I don't think they're really as geeky as they claim to be. Do you even care about Captain Kirk, Geek Squad? Do you? He could have died there on Planet Vulcan.

At first, I was beside myself because I thought we'd lost every photo ever taken of WCB. Fortunately, I've kept up on ordering prints and have uploaded all of the photos to the Kodak web site. I found out I can get a backup CD from Kodak (for a fee, of course). Whew. Major crisis averted.

The tiny crisis is that I haven't uploaded since right after Christmas, so we lost all of the photos from January and February. Fortunately, I was a high-school yearbook staffer for three years (See? I am geekier than The Geek Squad). We had a system on the yearbook staff: If a photo of a real event didn't turn out the way we wanted it, we would just go set it up again and take a fake photo. You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to put on their Halloween costumes in April. Anyway, I figure I can just set up some staged photos of WCB. I'll put her back in her Valentine's Day shirt and have her decorate some heart-shaped cookies. I'll find a room filled with other kids and pretend it's a Valentine's Day party. It could totally work.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Awaiting test results

Once again, we find ourselves waiting for test results for a family member. The laptop is now in the "hospital" with The Geek Squad people, and they're going to call us to let us know what they can do for it. Jay seems cautiously optimistic that they can recover the hard drive. "Remember in Mission: Impossible III when that laptop got BLOWN UP, and they were still able to recover the hard drive?" he said. Well, yeah, but there was also that part where Tom Cruise put on a rubber mask and everyone thought he was Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I don't know if we should pin our hopes on Mission: Impossible III, even though it was much better than Mission: Impossible II.

Last night, I started having nightmares about our upcoming trip to the Mayo Clinic. In the first one, Dr. H wasn't there anymore, and my new doctor was Denise Huxtable. This alarmed me, because she was always the most dimwitted of the Huxtable children. She flunked out of Different World college. Why couldn't I at least get Vanessa? She studied from time to time.

In the second dream, Dr. H was there, but she told me my spine was collapsing. However, she explained that if I ran a humidifier at night, it should help. What?? Yeah, I don't know.

Everybody watching the Oscars tonight? I (heart) Ellen DeGeneres.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Help us, Geek Squad. You're our only hope.

Ding, dong, our laptop is dead. DEAD. (I'm typing this on Jay's work laptop.) Jay and WCB just loaded the corpse into the car and headed to Best Buy to talk to The Geek Squad. It's a little alarming to me that Jay feels the computer is so far gone that he needs to seek the advice of The Geek Squad. Usually, Jay can completely outsmart The Geek Squad. We both can completely out-geek The Geek Squad, that's for sure. Last night we were up late watching the episode of Star Trek where Kirk and Spock have to fight to the death during Vulcan mating season. This was actually the first episode of the original Star Trek that I've ever seen all the way through, and I have to say that I was really getting into it. I got really scared that Kirk was dead. (He wasn't! McCoy gave him a "fake death" serum! Thank GOD!)

Anyway. My point is that our family is its own little Geek Squad. We shouldn't need help getting geekier.

In other news: I realize this blog is dangerously close to becoming one of Those Blogs that's nothing but Cute Things My Kid Said. I don't want to become one of Those Blogs. On the other hand, my dang kid won't quit saying cute things, so there's nothing I can really do. Yesterday she said her second "sentence": "Bye, Mr. Rogers!" It sounded like, "Bye, Mistew Wogews", which made it all the more endearing.

Is it bad that my kid is talking to the TV? WCB and I are both in looooove with Mr. Rogers right now. In fact, I fear that one day we will get into a fight over which one of us gets to marry Mr. Rogers when she grows up. That's how in love we are. I think if everyone in the U.S. were required to watch an episode of Mr. Rogers every day, there would be less crime and certainly less road rage. I also think that his closing song would make an excellent theme song for my blog:

It's such a good feeling
To know you're alive
It's such a happy feeling
You're growing inside
And when you wake up, ready to say
I think I'll make a snappy new day
(WCB pretends to snap)
It's such a good feeling
A very good feeling
A feeling you know
That I'll be back
When the day is new
And I'll have more ideas for you
And you'll have things you'll want to talk about
I ... will ... too!

Friday, February 23, 2007

WCB: Appearing at The Comedy Barn all week

WCB and I had the following conversation this morning:

ME: What do you want for breakfast, WCB?
WCB: Toast!
ME: All right. Anything else?
WCB: Banana!
ME: OK. Anything else?
WCB: (Long thoughtful pause followed by an angelic smile) A cupcake?


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Go, Mommy, go!

WCB said her first two-word "sentence" the other night, but I didn't get to hear it. My parents were in town, so I left her with them and went to my exercise class. I'm told that as I was pulling out of the driveway, WCB said, "Mommy go!" She said it a few more times, and Jay heard it, too, when he got home from work.

Of course, in my head I'm imagining that she said it with great anguish, but I'm told it was more of a general announcement. It was like, "If you happen to be looking for Mommy around here, you're out of luck, people, because Mommy go. I just thought you should know."

Then I thought that maybe they were words of encouragement: "Mommy is going to exercise class? Good for her! You go, Mommy!"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Read this book!

I'm a little late in recommending this book, since it is, technically, a Christmas book. I've had it since Christmas, but I finally got around to reading it last night. It's The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry. It's really short; I read the whole thing in about 45 minutes. It's based on Dave's own childhood in a small town in New York in the '60s. Trust me, it will brighten your whole life. OK, it will at least brighten your day. It will brighten something.

Here's an excerpt that cracked me up:

The pageant is a really big deal at St. John's. On Christmas Eve, pretty much everybody goes to it, even the people who you never see at church. The pageant director is Mrs. Elkins, who's a tall, skinny lady with a lot of makeup whose hair is the exact same color as the orange part of a candy corn. She's been in charge of the pageant for a LONG time. My dad says the first year she directed it, the part of the baby Jesus was played by the actual Baby Jesus.

Go out and get it. You'll have a good time.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Sorry 'bout the salmonella ...

Public service announcement: Everyone go check your peanut butter. Go on. I'll wait.

There was a tiny article in the Kansas City Star yesterday about people getting salmonella poisoning from peanut butter. Here's an MSN story about it. The affected jars are Peter Pan and Great Value brands with serial numbers starting with "2111". I read the story and thought, "Well, we don't buy Great Val ... oh, wait, we do. Well, I'm sure it doesn't have that number on it. Oh, wait, it does." We had a big jar of salmonella on our counter. Mmmmm.

Jay and I are totally fine, and WCB doesn't eat peanut butter yet, so I'm sure everything is FINE. I usually get irritated when people go around acting like Nervous Nellies, sending out e-mails about Chinese organ thieves or serial killers using fake crying babies to lure you out of your house or plastic in the microwave causing cancer. On the other hand, there's something about possibly spreading salmonella on my toast that makes me want to jump on the Nervous Nellie bandwagon. Can you imagine? "She was coping with the cancer so well, but then it was the peanut butter that took her down."

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Every year for the past 10 to 15 years or so, at least one person I know sends me this card for Valentine's Day. This card just sort of screams my name. I think I even bought it for myself once:

It wouldn't be Valentine's Day without it! Thank you for this year's edition, Aunt Margie!

Monday, February 12, 2007

Manly likes mustard

Wow. All of you guys have connections. So far we have heard from people who have met/seen or who are somehow connected to everyone from Johnny Cash to Elvis to Harrison Ford. (Good old Han was involved in an ice-cream-dumping incident, no less!)

My biggest celebrity encounter, as my sister has already described, was with Dean Butler, the actor who played Almanzo on Little House on the Prairie. Oh, yes. Manly:

My sister and I spent several hours standing in line at the Laura Ingalls Wilder Festival in Walnut Grove, Minn., in 2002 hoping to get his autograph. The line consisted mostly of 30-something-year-old women, and one festive middle-aged man who enthusiastically acted out the episode where the blind school burns down. (“… and then Mary said, ‘My baby! My baby!’”) Long story short: Almanzo had to leave before we got to the front of the line, which nearly shattered all of our hopes and dreams. We successfully stalked him for a day and a half – and were possibly responsible for causing him to run out of a hot-dog supper at a local church after we approached him at the mustard table – and we eventually got autographs. He was a good sport about it, even though we took paparazzi-type photos of him from the back window of my sister’s car.

Here’s the rest of my list:

In high school, I stood in line with two friends for several hours at the “World of Wheels” show in Omaha, Neb., so we could meet the actor who played Zack on Saved by the Bell. The line wound under and behind the stage, where we had an excellent view of his sneakers, and we took photos of them. I still have the photos in a scrapbook.

In college, I stood in line with my friend Brian at Sears in Sioux City, Iowa to meet the actor who played Lucas on Days of Our Lives. This was a few years before my frightening (and brief) Days addiction, so I wasn't excited. I remember everyone in the line was talking about “who killed Curtis”, and I nearly got thrown out when I admitted I had no idea who that was. A Sears employee dressed as Winnie the Pooh entertained all of us in line, and I found him to be the more interesting celebrity.

A little while later in college, I went to a student journalism conference in New York City, where some friends and I spotted Woody Allen and his – cough – wife Soon-Yi buying dolls at FAO Schwarz. We tried to act inconspicuous and took photos of them from behind a Barbie display. Miraculously, we were not arrested.

I saw the cat from the remake of That Darn Cat in an animal show at Universal Studios. Yeah, that’s a lame one – even for me.

Jay once got his photo taken with Charles Kuralt. I was there, too, but I’m not in the photo. It sort of looks like he’s standing next to a cardboard cutout, but it is really Charles, I swear.

And as long as we’re counting Jay’s celebrity encounters, he’s met a few Star Trek alien-type people.

I saw one of the Sioux City weather guys at the Sioux City Applebee’s.

Jay and I got our photo taken with billionaire Warren Buffett. We used to have a cat named after him, but we didn't tell him that.

I could have met Barry Williams, who played Greg on The Brady Bunch, but my sister “forgot” to tell me he was coming to town. She got her photo taken with him and it was on display at my parents' house for a really long time. Not that I am bitter.

Jay and I once took a wrong turn at a Minnesota Timberwolves game, ended up in a restricted area, and nearly ran right into then-governor Jesse Ventura and his entourage. Once we got back to our seats, we realized we had an excellent view of Jesse’s seat. We spent the rest of the game watching his giant, bald, cigar-smoking head.

Once we were driving through downtown St. Paul, Minn., and Senator Norm Coleman ran right in front of our car. Later my friend DeAnna said, “And you didn't run him over? It’s like I don’t know you at all.”

I angered a group of the original Munchkins at the 2000 Judy Garland Festival in Grand Rapids, Minn. I didn't know fans were supposed to purchase a photo from each Munchkin, so I only bought one and asked them all to sign it. The guy from the Lollipop Guild was downright surly toward me. The Munchkin Coroner agreed to take a photo with me, though, and he touched my hand. Sigh.

OK, everybody keep sending in your celebrity encounters. If you don’t have any (or even if you do), who would you like to meet and why? I’d like to meet Tom Cruise so I can talk some sense into him.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Gruesome paneling, Rudy, and celebrities

I've been getting so many good comments lately. If you don't read the comments sections (and you should, because my readers are hee-larious), I'll reprint a few of them here.

First, Gina told the following story in response to my "remail" post:

"My parents sold our house, which we grew up in during the '70s and '80s, when my dad changed jobs and they moved out of state. The people who bought the house mailed their Christmas cards with a generic letter using computer-generated address labels from a database of their contacts. Well, my folks were in their database and received the card and the letter, which went into great detail about the new house they bought, the gruesome paneling, the hideous red kitchen, and the tacky metallic wallpaper in the hallway. I mean, they really slammed our house and complained about all the remodeling and redecorating they were going to have to do! My mom's feelings were a little hurt, but dad said no worry, the leaky basement could be their little secret... "


Next, my sister-in-law was wondering if Mr. Noodle appeared on The Cosby Show. Yes, he did! He was on an episode in 1987. I couldn't find a photo of him on the show, but here's a picture of him when he's not all Noodled up, along with a photo of Rudy Huxtable. Maybe that will jog some people's memories:

By the way, if you search for "Rudy Huxtable" in Google Images, you'll get a really, uh, mature photo of what she looks like today. I don't think Cliff and Claire would approve. Then again, did you ever notice how, even though the Huxtable parents were extremely well-educated, all of their kids were complete morons? That always bothered me.

Back to the subject of Mr. Noodle: John W. wrote to tell me that his brother appeared on Broadway with Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle. (That would be the late Michael Jeter.) Can you believe it? WCB will be incredibly popular on the playground now: "Oh, yeah? Well, some guy who reads my mom's blog has a brother who knew Mr. Noodle's brother!" All of the kids will revere her.

That got me thinking: What celebrities are you mere degrees from? Which celebrities have you met in person? No celebrity is too insignificant or too lame. No encounter is too minor. My own list (which I will post soon) includes meeting Zack from Saved by the Bell at an auto show and walking past Jesse Ventura in a hallway, so trust me on that lameness thing.

Now you're all going to go Google Rudy. Aren't you? Aren't you? You know you are.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mr. Noodle: Master Thespian

Just yesterday, I wondered if the people who appear in Sesame Street Live are ever taken seriously as actors. Mere hours after I posted that, Jay and I were watching The Lady in the Water. You know, the latest movie from M. Night Shama-lama-lama-lama (I can never remember when to end his name). Toward the end of the movie, I just knew that one of the minor characters looked familiar, but I couldn't place him. Then it hit me.

"That's not ... MR. NOODLE ... is it?"

For those of you who haven’t watched Sesame Street in the past few years, Mr. Noodle is a silent, clown-like character who lives behind Elmo’s window shade:

Each day, Elmo’s goldfish, Dorothy, asks an important question, such as, “What do you see when you look up in the sky?”

“Good question, Dorothy,” Elmo always says. “Let’s ask Mr. Noodle!”

Elmo then pulls up the window shade to reveal Mr. Noodle, who does something wildly inappropriate to answer the question, such as riding around on a little toy car.

“No, Mr. Noodle!” Elmo will shout, as though Mr. Noodle is a complete moron. “A car isn't in the sky!”

Elmo continues to correct Mr. Noodle until he finally answers the question to the fish’s satisfaction. I always wonder how long Mr. Noodle is going to put up with this emotional abuse from a puppet. I've actually heard from other parents who say they have to turn away from the TV when Mr. Noodle is on, lest they witness his further humiliation.

Anyway, Jay and I spent the rest of the movie trying to decide if that actor was, indeed, Mr. Noodle. Given how boring the rest of the movie was, it was a nice diversion. (A quick aside: What happened, Mr. Shama-lama-lama? We just loved Signs.) Anyway, a quick trip to The Internet Movie Database revealed that, yes, the actor was indeed Mr. Noodle. His real name is Bill Irwin. He's performed Checkhov on Broadway and won a Tony in 2005 for his portrayal of George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who knew? I was shocked. Shocked.

While researching Mr. Noodle online, I learned another shocking -- and really sad -- fact. Sometimes Elmo will lift the window shade to reveal a different Mr. Noodle. We are told this is Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle. It turns out that The Other Mr. Noodle has, in fact, been dead since 2003. (Once again: Shocked. Shocked!) His name was Michael Jeter, and he was also a Tony-Award-winning actor.

There's so little we know about the Mr. Noodles. It really makes you think ... mostly about the fact that I need to get out more. At least it gets you thinking, though.

Friday, February 02, 2007

I threw my bra at Elmo!

OK, not really, but I'm sure some mother somewhere has seriously thought about it. Sesame Street Live is that good, people.

This morning, Jay and I decided to let WCB out of the cat carrier, and we took her to SSL. It was the Most. Fun. Thing. Ever. WCB spent an hour and a half sitting on my lap completely limp, slack-jawed, and wide-eyed, as though she could not believe the wondrous things she was seeing on stage. We bought her a hilarious souvenir hat and a hot dog. She wore the hat for a while but chose to ignore the hot dog, even when we held it right up to her lips, because show was just too exciting. It was a fun morning.

I wonder if the dancers in the Muppet costumes get overheated. And is being a Muppet dancer ever a big deal on an actor's resume? Like, have you ever been to a Broadway show and read in an actor's bio, "Before landing the role of Jean Valjean, Bob played the role of Bert in the touring company of Sesame Street Live"? Do you? I'm not being sarcastic; I really wonder.

In other news: The groundhog says we're getting an early spring! Go, groundhog, go!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

She even takes a beer to bed with her

Years ago, Jay and I played a video game called The Sims. In The Sims, you control a little virtual person, or people, and you tell them when to eat, sleep, go to work, watch TV, buy furniture, etc. Sometimes your little Sim people will get the opportunity to adopt a baby. I adopted Sim babies all the time, but I could never figure out how to get them to stop crying. Inevitably, a tiny Sim social worker would show up at the Sim house and take my baby away. Every dang time.

Finally, I figured out that if I stopped allowing my Sim adults to sleep -- keeping them awake until they collapsed into little heaps on the floor -- I'd get to keep the baby, and he/she would grow up into an official child. I quit playing shortly after that, because I felt I'd finally conquered the biggest obstacle in the video game. Then I had an actual baby and realized real life baby-care worked EXACTLY LIKE IT DID IN THE SIMS. I probably realized this while lying in a little heap on the floor. Memories of those months are a little fuzzy.

There are still some days I expect a tiny Sim social worker to come after my real baby. For example, WCB just started saying "bear", but it comes out "beer." What if we're at the grocery store or the mall or the library someday, and WCB begins clamoring for her beer? What if I absent-mindedly say, "You can have your beer when you get home"? I imagine a team of tiny social workers tackling me from behind.

That's not all. This morning, WCB discovered she could fit into Garland's kitty carrier. She climbed in and happily shut the door behind her. There was my child, spending part of her morning in a cage, playing with cat toys.

I think I hear tiny social worker footsteps on the driveway.