Saturday, May 31, 2008

Movies I've Missed

Last night, I was working with a couple and the wife tells me that they're about to go see a movie, that she'd convinced her husband to go see one with her. He was embarrassed that he'd agreed to go see a 'chick flick', but it was okay to tell someone he didn't know that he was about to see Sex and the City.

It made me think about this one. Why? Because I've never seen a single episode of the show. So, today, I list movies/shows I have never seen and you can laugh at my geekiness! They'll be all across the board, I'm just looking at lists of the most popular movies of the past 10 years

Movies I have never seen:
Fast and the Furious
Austin Powers (any of them)
The Matrix
Rush Hour (either)
Oceans 11 or 12
any of the Spider Man Movies
War of the Worlds
any of the Bourne Movies

By virtue of the fact that I've never seen the tv show, I doubt I'll be seeing Sex and the City:the Movie.

TV shows I've never seen. Like the movie list, it's only a partial listing!

Sex and the City
Family Guy
Desperate Housewives
So, You Think You Can Dance?
Dancing With the Stars
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Twin Peaks
Six Feet Under
Arrested Development
Farscape (other than Dr. Who, I haven't watched much on Sci Fi)
The Bachelor/Bachelorette
Boston Legal
Gray's Anatomy
Big Brother
Lipstick Jungle
My Name is Earl

There are a couple of shows that could be on that list, but I caught an episode or part of one, so I didn't add them. I saw one episode of CSI with Bill and maybe a few minutes of Deal or No Deal. I may have seen a total of 5 episodes of American Idol, and 3 of them were because I was traveling for work and couldn't use the internet at the hotel.

Most of the water cooler talk you get at work is about what was watched on TV the night before. I picked up a lot of what was going on that I could comment without actually watching!

What about you? What thing does the majority of the population do/watch that you don't?

Friday, May 30, 2008

A Pleasant Surprise

It has been years since I've had such a rapport with the majority of my coworkers that I'd want to hang out en masse somewhere. If people from work were hanging out somewhere getting drinks, I wasn't usually part of the 'in' group or just didn't feel that having a drink and driving an hour home was a good idea.

Now, I live minutes from work. We've got tons of restaurants within a few minutes of the store (and home). As a result, I mentioned to one of my other team members (we're split into schedule teams) that maybe, just maybe, we could go hang out after work on Friday night.

If this were most of the other places I've worked, that would have been the end of it. No, instead, I had a couple of others say tonight "you're going to Outback, right?" Cool.

We ended up with a table for eight, a great server and a nice late spring breeze outside. There was a LOT of laughter as we shared stories about work and life. So much laughter that my head started to hurt when I did laugh.

As the group split up, the opinion was that we need to do this again. Next payday, guys?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Grandpa Johnson's Barbeque

Today, we went to Chef's last cooking class for the year. We've been going non stop since September of 2006 and he wanted a break. His rationale is good-he didn't want cooking class to keep us from doing 'fun stuff' on my day off.

On the way home, my plan was to stop at a different location of a BBQ joint we love, First Choice BBQ. We've frequented the one in Brandon for a while, but I saw that there was one in Plant City. The boys were eager and willing to get Que. It's one of those rare meals that you don't have to twist Gameboy's arm to get. In fact, he'll ask for it.

We were heading through Plant City and a different BBQ place was in front of me. Grandpa Johnson's. Now, in my travels hither and yon, trying to find exactly where in Lakeland or Plant City we'd find a home (ultimately neither), I must have passed this place at least three dozen times.

Each time, I'd either just had something to eat or Mom had tempting vittles waiting for me once I got back to her place. It was on the list of 'places to try'. As we didn't get over to Plant City much, it stayed on the list for a long time. Out of sight, out of mind.

The boys were plied-they were psyched for First Choice. The question was, were they eager for Que from anywhere, or specifically for First Choice? I mentioned that there was a Barbeque restaurant right here, did they want to try it? Chef saw that it was next to a strawberry processing plant and that made his decision. Never mind that we're a couple of months past strawberry season.

We get out of the car and the smell is intoxicating. Smoke and meat was in the air. This was going to be good. We entered the screen doors and for a moment, I thought this might be a walk up counter where you ate outside. I was wrong.

Inside the glass doors was a nice little restaurant with a take out counter and friendly servers. A young lady (Hill, I later learned) told us we could choose any table and we did. We mentioned that we'd never been before, even though I'd passed it countless times in my house hunting explorations. She told us she'd bring us a sampler plate of their food. COOL!

Chef is no fool-if it's a good Que joint, they're going to have good sweet tea. It is good (though I think Harry's is better). In short order, we've got drinks and an appetizer plate of chopped pork, beef brisket and a cup of their sweet potato souffle, along with two bottle of homemade barbeque sauce.

This stuff is so tender, it didn't need a knife OR the sauce. The smoke flavor is nice and mellow and the pork had that lovely pink ring. It was good to get the sample-I ended up with a sampler platter because both meats were fantastic. Gameboy went for smoked sausage and Chef the brisket. We had an array of sides between us: fries, banana pudding, sweet potato souffle, creamed corn and fried squash. The icing on the cake was the soft sweet roll that was almost like a popover.

The menus are fashioned as a newspaper, giving you something to read about their history, as well as their offerings. It ends up that this is yet another restaurant from the Johnson family. Locally, they started a buffet restaurant (Buddy Freddys, which they later sold) which is a good down home, southern buffet. They currently own and operate this place and two Fred's restaurants: one we've spied on the south side of Lakeland and another, next door to Grandpa Johnson's.

The meal, well, it just drove home the reason why barbeque is best handled by the independent restauranteur. Don't get me wrong-I love me some Smokey Bones or Red Hot and Blue. However, there is something to be said about the family owned and operated barbeque restaurant. Hill mentioned that her brother in law created all the recipes and you know what? The personal touch just makes the food taste better.

My goal for the meal was to have leftovers for the kids for tomorrow night's dinner and there definitely will be a full meal for all of us. I got Ed a chopped pork sandwich with some Collards. (Chef told me "Greens, not Beans for Daddy." LOL) I figured if I came home with good stuff for everyone but him, I was in trouble! The hard part is that I want to snarf Chef's banana pudding.

Searching for good food around here has netted another place we'll definitely be going back to for a long time!

[pictures from top to bottom: Menu, Gameboy's Sausage, creamed corn and sweet potato souffle, my combo platter with fried squash (not pictured: the homemade ranch dressing that Chef swiped to dip his fries) and sweet potato souffle, and Chef's brisket with fries, banana pudding and sweet roll]
Grandpa Johnson's Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Work Update

It's official: close to 70 hours from Wednesday of last week until Tuesday. Grand Openings can be brutal. Fortunately, for the most part, I'm working with some awesome people.

Interesting stuff:
The caterers hired to feed us for the first few days brought food in in clear plastic tubs. Uh, guys, have you properly stored that food above 140 degrees? Where's your food handling permits, your National Serv Safe Cards? I thought so. As a result, I brought food in on Sunday. Enough to feed me and 30 or so of my coworkers.

The person I had mentioned before and I had a conversation. It was good. She hasn't worked retail before, and hadn't realized protocols and that I'd been with the customer. We're cool. Meanwhile, there's a guy who is purposely 'snaking' sales.

Fortunately, the huge one he took away from someone who was off yesterday was credited back to the right salesperson. Seems he didn't count on the fact that the salesperson who was off giving the customer's name and product info to three other people who were working yesterday.

I have Wednesday and Thursday off every week. I thought yesterday would be sleep in day, then do some housecleaning and unpacking. Gameboy had a bug bite that looked like it was becoming cellulitis, so off to the doctor with him today. The Nurse Practitioner agreed and he's on a course of antibiotics. Today, I take Chef to cooking school. Wheeeee. Oh well, I can clean and unpack next week.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

Waiter, there is too much pepper on my Paprikash. But I would be proud to partake of your Pecan Pie.

This scene from When Harry Met Sally (one of my all time favorite movies) inspired tonight's dinner.
Chicken Paprikash, yum! For a while after seeing the movie, I wondered what Paprikash was. Then I found a recipe in a magazine and I had to make it: Chicken, butter, onions, pepper, garlic, paprika, sour cream and noodles? What's not to love?

It's been years since I've had to use a recipe to make this meal. It's so simple. Most people I know who make it say it's a good winter dish, because it's so hearty, but the one pan stovetop meal is great for keeping the kitchen cooler in the summer. Ed's happy, because he's got leftovers for work, too. As long as I keep the onions out of their portions, the boys enjoy, too.

You want the recipe?

2-3 lbs chicken (I use boneless breast)
4 oz butter or olive oil
3 large sweet onions, slivered
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt (I use kosher or sea salt)
1 tablespoon pepper (yes, it is supposed to have a lot!)
1 pint sour cream

Heat butter/oil, then add all the spices, stirring together. Add chicken and coat with oil/butter. Heat on medium heat 10 minutes, turning chicken and cooking until opaque. Add onions, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in sour cream.

Serve over egg noodles or bow tie pasta.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Gameboy has a horrible time with writing. AT 12, his handwriting is worse than a kindergartener's. It takes him a very long time to form letters and it is obvious that this is painful for him.

We have it stated in his IEP that he needs to use a computer or laptop or dictate his answers to tests. Currently, we're having a conflict with a teacher's aide (if there is a problem, it always seems to be an aide who knows more about our child than us). This aide is butting heads with Gameboy about writing assignments-ones that his IEP says he has to have an alternative method to complete.

Ed was in a doctor's office last week and happened to catch an Accent on Health segment that gives a name to what Gameboy is dealing with: Dysgraphia. It is considered a form of dyslexia (really?) and the pain and discomfort is very real.

Having a name for it is a start. Now, to contact his psychiatrist and find out how we can have him diagnosed...

The Strangest Compliment

Yesterday, I was showing one of my buddies at work something I was working on. It's a sheet of all the skus for a product line, the cost and our commissions.

Dave says to me "I love having you here. It's like having a tree full of owls!"

I get the gist of what he was saying, and laughed my butt off at the comment. At the same time, I should have quipped that I poop a lot less!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Things You Hear While Swimming

I figured it out, that since Wednesday, I have worked nearly 60 hours. It's been fun, but my body has been aching. Tonight, I got home and said we needed to go to the pool.

The four of us went over to Ed's moms and took a dip. While there, some funny things were said:

-You have a Radioactive Butt, Gameboy (because he was standing in front of the colored pool light).

-Radioactive Butt, peace out! (with Richard Nixon victory sign and all, courtesy Chef Jr)

-You need to spin me more, I paid two bucks for this ride. (Chef, and the money paid kept going up)

-If you're giving me invisible money, I'm giving you invisible spins (me, to chef)

-It'll cost you four bucks to grab my butt. (chef)

-It'll cost you sixty bucks to grab my radioactive butt.

No, my kids aren't warped!

My Stupid Leg (Now with pictures!)

You've heard about it, you've read about it, you've heard countless complaints. Now, you get to SEE stupid leg. The one that is FRIGGIN ITCHY right now from the RSD and assorted venous issues.

This looks tons better than even November, when I came back from disability. If I keep it in the compression stocking, it settles down to a dull roar. As soon as I take that stocking off, though, I am a ticking time bomb until I want to scratch the thing until it bleeds.

Use an anti itch ointment, you say? I would, but I seem to be allergic to every darn one manufactured! I think I'm headed out to the garage to find some sandpaper...

If you're fascinated and you clicked on the picture to make it bigger, please don't mind the hairs on my leg. First, shaving over the valve is dicey and second, the fact that there is even hair growing is a miracle. Not a miracle I like, but anything that indicates there is *some* sort of healing going on will do, in my book.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday: Soundtracks

For a weekly feature with soundtrack in the title, you think I'd talk about them more. I just went through the 17 prior Soundtrack Sunday entries, and only found one that featured soundtracks. (I spoke about John Williams and his multiple movie compositions.)

One of my new coworkers, Jerry, and I were talking last week about movies and music as we attended to a time consuming task. Jerry's a huge movie soundtrack buff, and we shared some of our favorites back and forth.

What was cool is that we each had favorites that the other hadn't heard, and both likes some pretty obscure ones that most people would not recognize. It was a great way to pass time. As a result, at least once a day, one of us will ask the other about a soundtrack that we thought the other might like.

He's got the benefit of having a daughter in college, so he actually goes out to movies and can find good music in that genre much more readily than I can. Since Tuesday, we've been talking about the new Indiana Jones soundtrack. He picked it up and loved it.

I've been telling him of one of my favorites. "The Man From Snowy River" is a great Aussie film from the 80's and the Bruce Rowland soundtrack perfectly accompanies the story. However, it's one of those gems that stands apart from the film. His score conveys the emotions that you feel in the movie, sweetness, excitement of the chase, the majesty of the Australian mountains. The whole disc is great, but my favorites are "Jessica's Theme", "The Chase" and "Clancy's Theme."

(If you're a Kirk Douglas fan, and you've somehow missed this one, you have to see it. He does great in dual roles in the movie, as two brothers who have feuded with each other for twenty years.)

Another favorite comes from the Disney stable (what a surprise, right?), but not the movie some of you would expect! The Hunchback of Notre Dame is a movie that has been criticized for the dark undertones of the subject. However, I feel it introduces the younger set to a literary classic in a way that is accessible.

Not only that, Alan Menken did an extrodinary job in creating a score that fits the serious subject matter, yet interjects some lighthearded tunes that don't trivialize Quasimodo's story.

The score is wonderful and I feel that the vocal casting for singers was spot on. Holly Mollenhauer provided the singing voice for Esmeralda. Her voice is a good match for Demi Moore's speaking voice. I'm not sure if her performance of "God Help the Outcasts", Paul Kandel's "Bells of Notre Dame", Tom Hulce's "Out There" or Tony Jay's "Hellfire" is the best performance. Each artist has been given compelling music to perform. It is a fittingly gorgeous soundtrack that is brilliant on its own, and compliments the fantastic animation perfectly.

The sad thing is that I'd given this movie a pass when it first came out, because I thought it would trivialize the Hugo story. It wasn't until I'd met a friend who had performed in the Hunchback show at Walt Disney World. His passion for the show was infectious. One day, he was in singing mood at work (in the mall I worked in Virginia) and he burst into a rendition of "Bells of Notre Dame" that sent shivers down my spine. If you purchase one Disney soundtrack, this is the one I'd suggest.

One that I don't own, but should: 1776. It is an entertaining tale of the birth of our nation. In 1976, I went on a school field trip to see it (at the same theatre that I saw Pinnochio years before) and those songs stayed with me long afterwards. This is a first-I'm telling you of a favorite that I haven't had the pleasure of hearing in a while. I will remedy that soon, most likely involving the kids.

How about you? Do you have soundtracks that you love?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Glad that I'm not "Guilty By Association" on this one

I thought I was done with the DISboards stuff, really I did.

However, the hypocricy and racism displayed by Webmaster Pete and others on a memorial show is deplorable. Sadly, all it does is show that the man who died is the only one who has some scruples among the staff.

I'm awaiting some You Tube links to the entire unedited podcast and then an edited link to just the racism portion. In the meantime, I'm posting the transcript of the 'tribute' to Bob. These were transcribed by a former DISer for me. Thanks.


Here is a link to the DIS' podcast page:
(note, the podcast in question has been removed from the web. It was on YouTube for a couple of days and viewed about 1000 times before being shut down)

The following is a transcribed portion of the show that was especially upsetting to many. It began around the 1 hour & 3 minute mark.

- - - - - - -

Pete Werner:

"Now in the two years we have been doing the show, I can really only speak for myself, but I'm pretty sure the rest of the team feels the same way, the funniest moment that we ever had doing this was our July 10th, 2007, show when Bob discussed the Naturalization Ceremony at the Magic Kingdom. We received a lot of feedback on that show; many of you have told us that it was your favorite as well. And the segment did have some darker humor to it, and I had edited the show after we had received some complaints about it. But even the original version that we put up on the site was heavily edited. Now, after a number of requests to put the unedited version into this show, I've decided to do just that. So, here is the version of that segment none of you ever heard. This is the unedited version of the 'Naturalization Ceremony at the Magic Kingdom.'"

Note: The show began with some banter between the podcast members. Then Mr. Bob Varley pulled out the "Fourth of July" Mickey Mouse Ears; they were a prop that he had wanted to share. The team laughed and made fun of the mouse ears. What follows is a part of their conversation.

Julie Martin - "Those are so retarded looking."

Note: The banter continued.

Pete Werner - "He looks like he's 'special'… wearin' that hat."

Note: The teasing about the mouse ears continued. Then Bob Varley attempted to describe the Naturalization Ceremony that he had attended on July 4th at the Magic Kingdom.

Bob Varley - "I actually went there because they were swearing in 1,000 immigrants to be US citizens. And they really did…"

Pete Werner - "Were you screaming racial slurs?"

Bob Varley - "No. I thought this was really good."

Pete Werner - "'Go back to Guatemala'?"

Note: The ethnic insults continued.

Bob Varley - "Just let me know when I can talk again. I'm gonna take a drink."

Kevin Klose - "Holiday Inn was at the Front Gate, catching 'em on the way out. 'You wanna be a maid?'"

Bob Varley - "Okay, I think I choked."

Kevin Klose - "We have Housekeeping positions available."

John Magi - "They went right from the indoctrination ceremony…"

Kevin Klose - "They were handed Housekeeping uniforms."

Bob Varley - "Well, we know this section's not gonna make it."

Kevin Klose - "Housekeeping or Gardner, take your pick."

Bob Varley -- "Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, delete…"

Kevin Klose -- "You know there were no Doctors in the ceremony, okay."

Corey Martin - "How are we gonna come back from this one?"

Bob Varley -- "I'm just gonna keep talking."

John Magi -- "We're never gonna be elected the best podcast ever."

Kevin Klose -- "Actually, if we put this in, we would."

Pete Werner -- "Yeah, really. Oh, I will try and salvage what I can, but very little'll survive."

Julie Martin -- "It's almost like he's talking about a shipwreck."

Kevin Klose -- "There were no survivors."

Bob Varley - "As soon as I said 1,000 immigrants, it went downhill."

The podcast continued on for a few more minutes but I'll end it here. I think you can grasp the gist of the conversation and it wasn't a very flattering one. And from what I can gather, it sounds like this was the third version of this particular podcast segment. Pete Werner had mentioned that the first version had received complaints, so it sounds like he pulled it and replaced it with an even more heavily edited version (version two). If that is true, what made him think that he could share the entire unedited version (version three) and have it not insult the listeners?

Remember, folks, that on April 19, 2008, the DIS began purging all the "bad" members from their website. Here are a few of the infamous words from their so-called "explanation":

"One group in particular has proven to be vindictive, petty and mean spirited on levels that belie the fact that many of them are adults who raise children. These are people who have chosen to spend their free time targeting…visitors in an effort to hold them up to public humiliation and ridicule. Their hateful tirades are especially heinous when the target is someone who is sick, or dealing with a disability. Not even children have escaped their unmitigated viciousness... These are not isolated incidents - this goes on daily and has for years."

To think that Pete Werner (and the DIS Podcast Team) thought nothing of ridiculing 1,000 of the United States' newest citizens -- and in three different versions of a podcast segment, no less. Plus, in an audio form that allowed folks to personally hear the ridicule from not only his own mouth but also the mouths of the rest of his team as well. It simply boggles the mind.

The DISboards is run to increase business for Pete's web based TRAVEL AGENCY. Would you want to give business to a company that not only has such idiotic and racist views, but shares them on three different occasions on a podcast that you could have found (until 11pm last night) on iTunes?

It was only until this was pointed out by Janet on the UnDIS that they quickly pulled the offensive version. I guess they didn't think it was offensive. They thought wrong.

Friday, May 23, 2008

A diversion for you...

After several eleven and twelve hour days, I'm having a hard time coming up with witty stuff to write about. I could bore you with the minutiae of my job, but I won't do that. We've been very fortunate in that the best of the bunch from stores around the country are here to help us and share their knowledge.

I was helping a young woman last night, backed off for a moment to allow her to fill out a contest entry (which really didn't need my help) and the next thing you know, a colleague was there making goo goo faces at the woman's baby. I thought she just had baby lust. No, she horned in on the customer I'd just spent ten minutes qualifying. Later, the woman came back to me with a question "since you've been so helpful" and I was shot the look of death. Whatever.

So, as I said, I'm going to give you a diversion for when the blog isn't meeting your internet surfing needs. Ed's playing it right now. It's from a website in Spain. You don't need to read Espanol to play it, but I'll explain a little so you don't make the same beginner's mistakes I did.

For an addicting game, click here!

The purpose of the game is to clear the board of all the bubbles (though they look like Spree candies to me. To clear bubbles, aim the bubble in the shooter at the ones above. Three or more touching bubbles get 'popped'.

The bubble furthest to the right is the one you're shooting, and the one to the left is the next color to be in the 'gun'. If you don't pop any bubbles with a shot, your reserve of 'misses' goes down by one. When you don't have any reserves left, the board moves down one or more rows and adds more bubbles. Clear the board and you win!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day One

The store opened today. We weren't as crazy busy as I expected a grand opening to be, but hey, that's life. Apparently, the trends are for business to build substantially over the day before. Works for me.

The VP of the ocmpany came to our store to do the ribbon cutting, even though there were three others opening today. Why us? Because the thought process when they heard about the flooding on Monday was that there was no way in hell the store would be ready. The execs are really impressed by this.

Let's hope our number impress them as much as the hard work to get to today does.

As for me, I'm enjoying sitting on my butt and going to bed pretty soon. Y'all may have a three day weekend coming up. Me? I've got a long selling weekend ahead! :)


Today will be another very long day BECAUSE WE ARE OPENING!!!!!!!

On to making some real money. Finally.

Coolness that Happens When You Blog

My last post mentioned having Ed make me a tall lovely beverage. I didn't even have to ask. He made it because he read it on the blog! :)

How awesome is that?

Thanks, honey! It was gooooooooooooooood.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

A twelve hour day put the kibosh on my plans of making Eggplant Parmesan. I didn't feel like making much of anything-but we did open the store for four hours! Woohoo. I got to help two couples, but didn't close the deal on either one. Tomorrow will be a different story, woohoo!

Tonight's dinner was one of the fall backs for leftover chicken, Chicken Nachos. It was the second time today I had some-but that's because I love them. Especially when I've got lots of cheddar cheese and cholula.

Off to soak the itchy friggin leg and have Ed make me another tall Comfort and Ginger Ale.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cool Jazz

One of my coworkers lives around the corner from me. As a result, he's offered that whenever needed, I can ask him to carpool to work or get a ride home. Pretty neat.

Yesterday's cleanup tasks kept me at work until 7-but Ed and the boys had to be at Scouts at 7, so D was kind enough to drop me off.

We got into his car, he turns the key and jazz begins blasting out of his radio. Sweet! We spent the short drive home talking all about jazz and artists we like. He'd never seen Tim Eyermann perform, but knew of him and was excited when I offered the loan of my cds.

This man is all southern charm, I had no clue that he was into jazz. The best part is that he was able to tell me the three jazz stations in the area and where one could go to check out some good live jazz. Awesome. I am psyched!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rainy Days and Monkey Wrenches Always Get Me Down

Saturday night, we left the store with a sense of accomplishment. Yes, there was tweaking to be done on Sunday, but most of us were given Sunday off to rest. Monday morning's plans were for a little bit of register training before a soft open of the store.

Alas, the GM walked up to the front door to see a FLOOD. The rain that I (and probably most of Central Florida) cheered about last night ended up INSIDE the store. Lousy contractor didn't do a very good job on the roof.

The plans for today got changed. Instead, there was a lot of mopping, cleaning and returning the store to the pristine state it was on Saturday night.

It's a bummer, because today was going to start us earning commission! Oh well, I guess a monkey wrench is part of the plan.

At least everyone had a sense of humor about the whole thing. There were lots of jokes about needing bigger boats, well we are in LAKEland and other amusing stuff. When the going got tough, my coworkers got to joking. Pretty cool.

Tomorrow, my last day off for over a week. I'll use the R&R well.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

While helping to get the store ready for tomorrow's soft opening, I listened to my iPod a lot. I find the way to get through the tedium of cleaning is to groove to some tunes. One of the mixes I made a few months ago got somewhat heavy play and inspired me to hunt down an artist on You Tube to share for Soundtrack Sunday.

About a year after I moved to Hagerstown, I met Judy. Judy was from my ex husband's hometown and we quickly forged a bond, being Long Island girls. We both liked music A LOT. She'd discovered that one of the local restaurants, The New Park Circle, featured live jazz on some Wednesday nights. We made plans to go that Wednesday.

Both of us were blown away by the food, but by the musicians. We both liked Jazz, but wow, this group was incredible. The lead musician played at least seven or eight wind instruments over the evening. Mostly his own compositions, with a couple of standards thrown in.

The band? Tim Eyermann and East Coast Offering. We experienced what must occur in jazz cafes around the world in Hagerstown. Not exactly what you'd expect. I went to see my friends at the local music store and ordered a copy of Jazz on L, their most recent release. It got played to death.

One of the songs is titled Eight Miles, Five Minutes and is a tribute to a friend (Max Leake, IIRC) who drives very fast. I remember getting out the calculator to figure out the speed. Anyway, that first song has a great pace, one perfect for driving in I 270 traffic. The rest of the CD contained songs that I didn't want to skip over. That's rare, to have a disc that doesn't have a clunker (or a filler, as another friend put on his album!)

Judy and I made this Wednesday night gig a regular habit. Tim didn't always play, there were other artists, but boy, were we happy when we would find out that Tim, Andy, Dan and Bill were the featured artists. We grew to enjoy the New Park Circle so much that the ex and I would dine there fairly often, with or without Judy.

An aside about the restaurant: When the time came to pick a site for my wedding reception, we went to the owner of NPC to have it there. It certainly was convenient to the ceremony site, but they had a tradition of closing that particular holiday weekend.

Because of the intimate setting of the restaurant's bar, after two visits, Tim would greet us by name. How often does that happen when you see a group perform. His pianist, Dan Reynolds, told me to bring in my CD and the guys would all sign it for me. They did. When the next album came out, Outside/Inside, they offered to do the same, but I never got around to it.

It's not often that you form a personal connection to the artists you listen to. However, the vibe we got is that small and intimate venues were Tim's preferred way to play gigs. As enjoyable as seeing those shows were, a musician of this expertise could easily be on stage at any arena near you. Judy and I often thought it was such a waste that he wasn't getting the exposure of less capable musicians on the Jazz stations we listened to.

So, after listening to Jazz on L several times this week, I thought I'd scope out You Tube in the hopes of finding an artist you've never heard for this week. Unless you happened to catch one of his performances on the Tonight Show (with Johnny). One who is a joy to listen to over and over.

I found one song, Samba De Orpheo off his latest album, Karla's Fire. Cool, there's some Tim to add to the collection. My happiness quickly turned to sadness, though. Last May, Tim Eyermann died from complications of surgery for lung cancer.

RIP, Tim. It sucks that lung cancer took another person. Meanwhile, I'll listen to those two CDs and smile. Thanks for all the great shows and music.

**If you're a jazz fan and were looking for someone to check out, all three titles I mentioned are available on Amazon. Only Karla's Fire has samples, but the links above take you to CMT's samples of the two albums. Cool to note is that there's a Dan Reynold's composition on Outside/Inside and the featured segment is Dan playing piano.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Shoot First, Explain Later

Nearly a month after the banning, Webmaster Alex finally offers up an explanation for the mass bannings at the DISboards. Rather than make an announcement that, effective immediately, those participating at the UnDIS will be banned, he opted to ban first then wait A MONTH to tell members why.

As your post is in the public domain, Alex, I am sharing it here. Why? So everyone can see your brilliance in action, silly!

We’re aware that many of you are confused over some recent bannings on the DIS and we felt it was overdue that we gave some explanation behind our actions.

We’ve been aware for years of other web sites that have formed from groups of people that had been banned from the DIS. Clearly, these sites disagree with our guidelines and how we choose to maintain the site. If that was the extent of this issue, we would have no problem at all with any of these sites. But unfortunately, it’s not. One group in particular has proven to be vindictive, petty and mean spirited on levels that belie the fact that many of them are adults who raise children. These are people who have chosen to spend their free time targeting DIS visitors in an effort to hold them up to public humiliation and ridicule. Their hateful tirades are especially heinous when the target is someone who is sick, or dealing with a disability. Not even children have escaped their unmitigated viciousness. In fact, some of these people even found it amusing that one of our team members recently passed away. These are not isolated incidents – this goes on daily and has for years.

After years of trying various approaches to keep their vacuous nonsense off these boards, the decision was made to take stronger action. No one that participates on that site can claim to be unaware of what goes on. Whether you participate directly in the harassment, or are just a sideline spectator – you offer your support to their efforts and not that’s not really the type of people we want on our site. So yes, in this instance we reversed a long standing policy that we would not ban people based on their activities on other sites. We're sorry that some bystanders appear to have been caught in the crossfire. Upon request we will review some of the bannings and some people may be reinstated with our apologies if they choose to return. But also, people must understand that sometimes when you associate with certain groups, you’re bound to painted with the same brush.

The purpose behind these forums is to give people a decent place to hang out and share a mutual passion for Disney. It baffles us that grown men and women spend this much of their free time trying to mess with that. And it should be made clear that some of these people are going to have to answer for some of the things they have chosen to say and do in public. Harassment, libel and tortious interference are not forms of protected speech. Free speech doesn’t give you the right to harass, humiliate, denigrate or otherwise publicly embarrass people just because you feel like bullying others. There’s a line that’s been crossed and until it stops we're going to take whatever reasonable measures are available to us to put a stop to it.

We’re fed up with watching our visitors be unfairly targeted and victimized by these people and we are going to start taking action to see that comes to an end once and for all thru any and all legal means available to us.

Let's address this explanation, shall we?

Paragraph 1-Overdue? Heck, if this was a fetus, it would have died from being held FOUR weeks past due date. The time for explanations was when you DID the bannings, not now. Did it take you this long to come up with an explanation? (Besides, we all know the truth-you were embarrassed that you screwed up and banned us for laughing at your mistake)

Paragraph 2-Alex definitely wrote this-notice the run on paragraph? The UnDIS was not started by bannees and until recently, only had a few DIS bannees among the ranks of participants. Petty and vindictive? You may see ONE or TWO people behaving in that manner, but the majority of members of the UnDIS are people who see the hypocricy of your current members and call them out in a forum that allows them to do so.

For instance, the poster who spoke of charging over three grand in Disney Dollars on her credit cards, then declaring bankruptcy a month later? Do you not see insanity in that? This week, with a newly discharged bankruptcy, she brags about being debt free and planning a deluxe WDW vacation. This IS the member you want to keep? Or the one posting about how they love swinging and orgies? On a site for Disney fans?

As far as targets who are sick or disabled, good job on stretching the truth. The one person I could think of that you could be speaking of PRETENDS to be child like and has two mice for mommies. Go search out his user name (Google is your friend) and you'll see that it is all an act.

Meanwhile, two people ridiculed and posted pictures of Robin's (Del's Wife) children on YOUR website. She reported them (MarkRG and WDWLvr) and was ignored. Meanwhile, you made them moderators! So, you say something is happening on the UnDIS that isn't while it actually happens on YOUR website.

I would like to see where someone found it funny that Bob died. Nice lie there, Alex. No, what happened is that many people felt you were using Bob's death as a stalling tactic when you didn't answer the many questions about the bannings that showed up on YOUR website. One person posted this and got called out on it immediately.

Paragraph 3-Alex, nice lies again. If anything, many of us could sue you for libel. Actually, we could go after the website owner, Pete. What would really suck for Pete is that he let his corporation dissolve in 2003 and only recently created an LLC. This means that any legal case against the DIS or the travel agency that is found to have merit would result in Pete personally being financially liable.

My suggestion to you is to stop throwing around lies like these. You do realize there are some lawyers among the ranks of the banned and friends, right? As for bullying, banning people and telling them where they can post and what they can or cannot sure seems like bullying to me! You sound like a certain occupant of the White House!

Paragraph 4-Thank you. You've made it easy to part with the DIS. After all, a site that allows its members to circumvent Disney's rules regarding annual pass use, mug use or Photopass sharing is not one I want to participate in. I don't condone those activities-so I shouldn't belong to your site.

Also, by this token, because we belong to a site, the DIS, that would mean we all are:
-about to leave my husband for my lesbian lover that I met on the DIS
-a member of a swinger's club
-getting multiple free products at CVS with my rewards card that I'm going to try to sell at my yard sale (like glucose meters and preparation H)
-trying to scam people into giving me stuff for my sister's (imaginary) triplets, then selling the stuff on eBay less than a week later

I don't want to be painted with that brush. I'm glad you pointed this out. It makes it easy to walk away.

Paragraph 5-Are you threatening me? Any other blogger? The participants of the UnDIS? No lawyer who has been inside a courtroom would take your case. On the other hand, when you libel people, you run the risk of needing legal defense.

Victimized by Janet2K? DisneyPhD? HelenaBear? Chrisnsteph? Aidensmom? Whatever. The more you keep telling yourself that lie, the more you begin to believe it as the gospel truth. Keep believing it, because you are the only one who does.

If your current members believed it, why would they be starting so many threads questioning you about the bogus 'legal matter', the 'hacking' that happened and the redirect to the UnDIS that YOU did?

Webmaster Alex, thanks for giving your explanation. You have made it clear to many that the DISboards is not the place to be. After all, why would we want to be accused of the above mentioned things? Like you said, we're guilty by association. That goes for ALL websites, and your members are guilty of the things that are done on your boards.

Twelve Minutes with Keith Olbermann

Normally, I shy away from politics on the blog. Those nearest and dearest to me know my views, as I do share them. However, I don't feel this is the proper forum for my point of view. I felt that others did not share it, that I held a minority opinion. Among my friends, I knew I wasn't. Today, I break my personal rule about politics on the blog.

I went to Jessalogic's blog and she pointed me towards another blog that stated a similar opinion to what I have been thinking about the Iraq quagmire we are in. Also on her blog was a twelve minute commentary that expresses frustration with those in White House that I absolutely, 100% agree with:

I find it quite interesting that the topics presented and Mr. Olbermann himself were discussed on Wednesday. Maybe my opinion isn't the minority, after all.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Recalling Silliness of the Past

Wednesday, my day off, was spent in the company of another friend. Ed and I ventured over to Tampa to meet up with Richardina while she was here to see the Yankees play. (If I can convince her to guest blog, she can tell a bit about her hobby. It's cool.)

We went down to Channelside (a ghost town on weekdays), had coffee in Hyde Park, lunch in Palma Ciea and visited the Hoity Toity mall before departing. It was a lot of fun to just sit and talk. And talk. And talk some more. Of course, this means that there is a lot of laughter, too.

After lunch, she and I both needed the rest room before heading over to the hoity toity mall, so we availed ourselves of the one in the restaurant we were in. As we walked into the bathroom, I commented that the last time I was in a rest room with her, there was a strap attached to the back of her pants.

Fall, 1993. Ex and I were up on LI for one of our visits to see friends and family. The Saturday night activity was going to see Rich's favorite band at their usual venue. As was typical when ex and I were on the Island, we had most of the crowd there: Ed, Rich, ex, and a half dozen other friends. Our friend Dave had brought his
girlfriend, T, to meet the gang.

T and I went into the bathroom at the same time, a rare thing for me. I subscribe to the "I go alone" credo. Anyway, T and I ended up chatting at the sinks and STAYED in the bathroom to talk, the better to hear each other. Things got quite animated. What we talked about, God only knows, but we were having a good time in there.

After about ten minutes of this, the guys grew concerned and sent another friend, Lisa, in to get us back out with the gang. She came in and said "the guys are wondering if you fell in!". Next thing you know, T, Lisa and I are clustered next to the sinks-laughing, talking and carrying on. Who knew that the bathroom could be such fun?

Another twenty minutes pass. I don't know what the guys and Rich were thinking outside, but they resorted to drastic measures. They had one female left who could go into the bathroom to retrieve the three that had been inexplicably swallowed up by the Mulcahy's bathroom. If they sent Rich in, odds were great that she'd be swallowed up, too.

Next thing you know, Rich comes through the bathroom door, laughing hysterically. She had someone's belt looped into the back of her pants, so that they could pull her out. I think she said something like "The guys want you BACK!" It was hard to understand what she was saying through the laughing. Then, as soon as she was in the bathroom, the guys pulled on that belt and got her out of Dodge pretty darn quick!

Yes, we departed the bathroom, but I think we all needed to use it again from laughing so hard!

So, if you lose the females of your group into a bar's bathroom, you can always send the last female in. Just make sure you loop the belt into the back of her pants!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wiped Out

It was a VERY long day today at work. We unloaded four trucks and spent 11 hours working, working and then working some more. I forgot about this part of a new store opening, because it'd been a while since I've done an opening like this. I did a ton of them with Bath and Body Works, but that's ten years ago now

All afternoon, while dealing with the heat of the truck and the fatigue, I kept saying I was going to go over and enjoy the pool at Jane and Mom's. I'm sore and the leg is complaining. However, I sat down on the couch and I just don't want to get up. Not even to go soak in the tub.

Tomorrow, we only have one truck. Thank God, because I am not used to this truck thing on such a grand scale.

I'm even too tired to go and get some lovely beverages. Some Southern Comfort would go down nicely right now!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lime Green Antenna Topper Mania

I have a collection of antenna toppers. The collection began because my new car came with a vase, and it looked empty. While sitting at the dealership, in my new car, the inspiration struck to purchase some toppers from work.

Some of the bouquets over the years:

I became known on the DIS for that ever changing display of toppers. The collection grew and grew. I finally had to find something to display them where I could see what I had, like this:This isn't all of my toppers, maybe about half of them.

The picture would change with the seasons. Over the years, as soon as I put up a new picture, I'd get messages "Where did you get THAT topper?" On one occasion, I was driving across I4 to meet up with Mom and Jane at WDW and kept leap frogging with an SUV. I noted it, because it had a pink Tink decal and a Mickey Pot of Gold topper. I thought to myself "if that isn't a DISer, it should be!".

When I got home, there was a thread started with my name on it. "Were you on I-4 tonight? We were the green SUV that kept leap frogging with you!" Sing it with me now "It's a Small World, After All." Martha had seen those topper pictures and saw the bouquet IN my car and figured it just had to be me. She was right.

Eventually, the signature pictures on the boards had gotten out of hand and some guidelines were handed down. Pictures had to be a certain size. I used a resizing program that Jill suggested and thought I was fine. Certainly, I had to be, because there were pictures far bigger than mine out there. Apparently not, as a webmaster sent me a warning that my siggy pic was too big.

I immediately removed the picture, because I followed the rules. I still saw pictures far bigger on other people's signatures, but figured that they knew something about pixels that I didn't. Several people told me the thought I'd disappeared, because the pictures were gone.

When I worked for the stores, I'd grab toppers for friends that didn't have a store nearby. One spring, we got toppers in the official DIS color, Lime Green. I think between my store and the three I helped that spring, I picked up about 20 of those toppers. My intention was to give them to other DISers as I saw them on visits to WDW. Somehow, my idea never came to fruition. I'd forget the topper at home, in the car or they would be hidden in the debris of the office and remembered a week after I'd been over to WDW and back.

When I visited a friend at the Beach Club recently, I told her that I was thinking of selling all my excess toppers on eBay. I've got quite a few that I've got 4 and 5 of and one pesky one that I have almost two dozen of. However, inspiration has struck. While they may get eBayed, somehow, I think I know 108 people (and more coming) who might have a use for this bad boy. What do you think?

Twenty Years Ago

I loaded up a moving van with my belongings, a whole bedroom's worth (and a dining room table) and drove 275 miles southwest. I in the U-Haul, then fiance in the "Lepermobile". We headed for Maryland, land of mountains and oppressive heat. We were such grown ups, heading out to our first apartment and real life.

Within the first year, we had a car die, had to find another place to live (mice infestation), got a job in my chosen career field, and gained a bunch of weight. (that was a fun one-got a card congratulating me on my 'impending arrival.' Eeek!)

It was a strange and interesting land, the country south of the Manson-Nixon. It was plain and simple culture shock. It took almost four years to really feel like it was 'home'. Fortunately, among those who dismissed me just for where I was raised, there were some great people who liked me for who I was.

In the succeeding twenty years, I've lived in two states and six towns, worked in five states (and helped in two move), owned three houses, married, divorced and married again, had two kids and met countless people. I've had grand adventures and some mishaps. I've made a few friends along the way (and lost track of several I wish I hadn't).

One thing is for certain, I'm glad I struck out on that journey twenty years ago. It was the day I began to learn what being a grown up is all about...

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hello, My Name Is Inigo Montoya...

Prepare to Die!

That's what is on the shirt I wore to work today. The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorite movies. As is typical, I cannot pick a favorite, so we'll say it's in the top five, okay?

I can't tell you how many comments and conversations were started today because of the shirt. One of the warehouse guys made me stop when I was walking towards him, because the first two hours of work, all he'd seen was the back of my shirt emblazoned with "Prepare to Die" and he was trying to figure out what the heck it was.

Afterwards, he came over to me and said "All I ever needed to know about life, I learned from that movie!" So we went over them:

Never get involved in a land war in Asia
Never get into a battle of wits with a Sicilian when death is on the line
If you rush a miracle man, you get lousy miracles
Black Masks are very comfortable and will be all the rage
Death cannot stop true Love

I had several guys recite various Inigo Montoya lines and then someone would shout out "Inconthievable!". The only thing missing is that no one quoted the Impressive Clergyman, which is usual whenever this movie comes up. Perhaps that was because this was mostly guys?

Later, I talked with a coworker about having a copy on Laser Disc and being ticked when my ex took the player with the movie. When DVD players first came out, Ed talked of getting one for me that first Christmas they were available. I talked him out of it, saying my top five movies had to come out first. The ones I'd had on Laser.

The coworker asked what five they were and he agreed that they were fine choices:
Princess Bride
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Bull Durham
When Harry Met Sally
Proof that when it comes down to it, if I'm going to escape into a movie, I'm going to laugh.

It almost felt like a sociology experiment. I doubt that I could find a Holy Grail shirt that would inspire as much positive comment, even though both movies are incredibly funny. The closest thing I could say about "When Harry Met Sally" is that the coworker who spoke of top five movie choices said "I'll have what she's having."

I suppose the fact that Princess Bride exists as one of those rare movies that is entertaining for the kids, but engaging enough for the adults. As a result, my coworkers who were kids when it came out had the same affection for it as those my age and older. Not many movies can boast that adoration.

I thought the shirt would cement my geek status. It didn't. However, if I wear the "I'm Warped" OS/2 shirt on Thursday, that most definitely will!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Scratch This!

This weekend was full of homemade goodies.

Yesterday, I used my ebelskiver pan and had some fun making filled cakes of pan. Think Dunkin Munchkins in pancake form.The lesson learned: do NOT skimp on the oil!

Each time I make these, they look more like what they're supposed to! Gameboy asked for apple, Chef for peanut butter, and mine were strawberry or chocolate.

This is Ed's Birthday Cake!
Chef Jr and I asked him what kind of cake he'd like for his birthday, and he said he wanted Mango. This is a Mango Vanilla Cake with Mango Cream Cheese Icing. Yum! I replaced the water in the cake mix with mango nectar. The icing was from scratch and again, I added a cup of mango nectar to the icing. (I'm thinking next up is a mango cheesecake)

Can I just say I love this stuff?
Thanks to this, Ed now enjoys eating THIS:
I love pork chops, but he never did. I have never dated/married a guy who liked them (I suspect all their moms over cooked them), so I was relegated to ordering them when I dined out. We've used this breading mix three times now, and when Gameboy was saying he really, really liked the pork chops (huzzah!), Ed said "I like them, too!"
Thank you, breading!

Also made but not pictured: Deep Dish Chicago pizza. As I'd never made the dough recipe before, when I saw the dough was for a 9-10 inch pan, I halved it again for my 14 inch pan.

Big mistake. The dough was close to being perfect (it was based on Ike Sewell's Uno recipe), but I probably would have been fine with the original recipe. The dough poofed up a bunch and as a result, deposited lots of sauce on the bottom of the oven. It's a TALL deep dish pizza!

Next week, I'll try it again with the original recipe and see what happens.

Yes, my menfolk are spoiled rotten.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Today's SSS takes the lead from a comment last week. One of the people I've come to know through various message boards had a cochlear implant a couple of years ago. For obvious reasons, she's flying blind in the world of music. I can't even imagine spending years of feeling the music to now be able to hear it, too.

Janie's comment about how she was enjoying the Soundtrack Sundays as a tool to exploring music inspired me to expand a topic that I've had on the back burner. What was I waiting to write about? The artists that I enjoy that you may not have heard or you've just heard OF them.

Admit it, you've got your favorites that others look at you and ask "Who? Whaaaa?" My husband probably has suffered this phenomenon more than anyone else I've ever met. (When he has loaded and reloaded an 80 gig iPod, you get an idea of how much he listens to.) My list will probably cover a couple of weeks to start, lol.

For me, the culprit in this "Who the heck is that?" circumstance is that I listen to many genres of music. Long before I met Ed, I had been exposed to his favorite genre, progressive rock. I'd even seen his favorite band perform live before he had. They were responsible for me getting a job in a record store. I'd boasted of my music trivia skills to the store manager. He decided to test me by asking "What group performed the song "Kayleigh" in 1985?"

My answer floored him. "That would be Marillion, and it was the second cut on Misplaced Childhood after Psuedo Silk Kimono. They opened for Rush on the Power Windows Tour in Winter, 1986." (Yes, I am a smart ass know it all-I freely admit that!) I was hired on the spot!

I can understand Merv's shock that I knew the song. Marillion falls firmly in the land of Amazing Groups You've Probably Never Heard. They're extremely successful outside of the US, but have a devoted following in the States. Fans are SO devoted that in 1996, they raised the funds for the band to tour the US when their record label would not!

I'm hard pressed to tell you which is my favorite Marillion album. They've produced concept and conventional style albums. They've also been fronted by two incredible and very different lead vocalist, Fish (Derek Dick, nicknamed for his love of showering) and Steve Hogarth (aka "H").

As I can't narrow it down to one album, I'll point you towards You Tube for a sampling of the two vocalists. A good showcase of the two styles is their greatest hits "Six of One, Half Dozen of the Other", which has exactly what the album title implies.

My favorite albums:
Fish Era: Misplaced Childhood
Hogarth Era: Season's End
Concept Album: Brave

Those who know me well, know it's hard for me to choose just one favorite song, so I'll offer up an alternative! I created a You Tube channel, SoundtrackSunday and I'll put my favorites there. All you have to do is search for SoundtrackSunday!

Another band that got a miss because their record label didn't know how to categorize them is October Project. They're not quite prog, not quite rock, not quite alternative. What they are (or were) is a group of extremely talented musicians who got a bum deal. After two critically acclaimed albums that weren't marketed, Sony dropped the band in 1996.

Soon after, they went their separate ways. Lead singer Mary Fahl ventured out on a solo career and now records for Sony Classical. Three of the remaining band members reunited in 2001 and recorded until 2006 with backing vocalist Marina Belica (an amazing vocalist in her own right) becoming lead singer.

The favorite songs you'll find in You Tube do not feature the band, as they'd stopped recording long before we had that web site available. I'd suggest listening without watching the videos!;) Also included is a Mary Fahl song, as I feel that she's not getting promoted by her label.

October Project (or O Project for short) only released two albums, but both of those would be in my desert island 10, which no other artist can claim. If you were to road trip with my family, you'd hear both albums, Falling Farther In and October Project. Ed and I would sing different vocal parts (there are at least two and sometimes four harmony parts) along with the band.

When Gameboy was small, he made up his own words to a few of the songs, singing a different harmony part from the backseat when Mommy sang while driving. His lyric was "Don't take my mommy" to replace "Come, take my body" from "Dark Time."

While I lean towards the prog bands for the complexity of the music, there are other genres that have their hidden gems, too.

If you're not a country fan, then the name Kellie Coffey isn't familiar to you. I first became familiar with her voice because she is the vocalist you hear during IllumiNations fireworks at Walt Disney World's Epcot. Both vocal performances "We Go On" and "Promise" are Kellie singing. She's got a sweet, strong voice and writes her own music. I am hoping that she someday acheives the success of another artist I once thought would be on this list-Alison Krauss.

I'm remiss on the Kellie Coffey front, as I've only purchased a few songs off of iTunes. However, everything I've heard from her has been quite enjoyable, even if the subject matter is tear producing. Actually, the three songs I put on the You Tube page have ALL made me cry. I take that as a sign of a powerful musician. My suggestion is that if you're the emotional sort, have tissues handy to listen to "Dance with My Father" or "I Would Die For That".

You didn't think you'd have a field trip to another web site today, did you? Just look at it as some things to check out throughout the week before more artists come at you next Sunday!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I suppose you can really say I'm a southerner now!

I'm just a few days shy of living south of the Manson-Nixon for twenty years and I finally tried some fried green tomatoes! They're tasty, especially when served with a horseradish sauce that Bill would say "puts hair on your chest"!

Yard sale turnout was pretty good. Ed got his wings. Tomorrow he'll get the requested Mango/Vanilla cake with Mango/Cream Cheese frosting. It's a rough life when you try to make something new and different! ;)

Busy Day Ahead

I'm about to go put up the signs for our yard sale. Wish me luck, because the last one netted about 40 bucks.

Today's Ed's birthday. The plan is to take him out for wings for dinner tonight. Woohoo! There's a local place that makes some great wings, and free meal to the birthday boy. What's not to like about that?

You got your tax stimulus check, what are you going to do now? Um, if you're Suzanne, you're spending 300 bucks on your son's meds and using the rest to pay the rent. Not exactly what W had in mind! I'm stimulating MY budget, not the rest of the country's. I wonder why it was timed to arrive the day before his daughter's wedding? I wasn't invited!

Friday, May 09, 2008

It's Official

I am a certified, fully trained salesperson for my employer. Wheeeeeeee!

The past two weeks have been an incredible gift. How often do you spend TWO full weeks learning about your job WITH your coworkers? In retail?

The training I received as a salesperson exceeds some of my previous employer's management training! Two weeks ago, I knew a little about the product and nothing about the people who'd be working with me. Now, I can say I know a lot about them and feel very confident about selling any product on my side of the store.

Today's activities included a sell off, where each of our department's three teams selected a member to get up in front of the whole store and sell to a 'customer' from the other side of the store. My team (and lunch buddies all week) didn't ask, they said "You're doing this, right?" Sure, it's my pleasure, guys.

I got the 'couple', where my GM portrayed "Kevina". It was rather funny selling to the two of them, as they kept throwing a lot of curve balls at me. When the role plays were done and the votes tallied, I had in my possession some gift cards. Woohoo!

Later, I got to turn the tables and throw some curve balls at one of the salespeople from the other side of the store. N, the guy I mentioned the other day, said he wanted to play my brother in the role play-we were going to buy a birthday gift for Ed. It was tons of fun.

After a catered lunch, we got our certificates and were served cake.
Yay, cake!

Now, I've got my last weekend off until I get promoted. Monday morning, we get to put a store together. The funny part is that three days ago, I was looking at my nails. Two weeks ago, they were shredded from loading up furniture, moving boxes and everything else that my old job required. Now, they look long, pretty and ladylike. I was ready to give myself a nice manicure. I'm helping to set up a store? Um, tnose nails need to go away.
(The elusive and rarely seen long nails)

Yay, cake! Boo to getting rid of the nails! Woohoo to starting a new adventure with some really cool people.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Reminscing about Retail

I've got about four or five ideas swimming around for an entry today. I decided to tell of the reason why retail is the path I've rarely strayed from. Why, you ask? I saw our local, lame ass mall now has a Macy's. (that's another topic I'll cover soon.)

I'd have to say the retail bug started with that first job at Gimbel's, but that's not exactly true. It's all because of the girl scouts. I started selling cookies in the third grade and I was GOOD at it! Really good at it. Somehow, at 8 years old, I'd figured out a sales pitch. Granted the product almost sold itself. It didn't explain why I sold three times as much as fellow troop mates.

Then came high school and choir. Our way of raising money for the end of year banquet was to sell citrus fruit. Again, I had a sales pitch and I kept going. Sophomore and junior years, I was the second place seller, but my senior year, I sold the most. I looked forward to that fruit sale each fall. Senior year? I sprained my ankle badly three days before the fruit truck arrived. That was interesting, delivering fruit on crutches. I don't recommend it.

Once I began college, I needed a job. Dad covered my tuition and books the first year, but the rest was up to me. Since the college was just a short bus ride from Roosevelt Field (and I didn't own a car), it was a no brainer to get a job at the mall.

At the time, Roosevelt Field was one of the top 10 malls in the US in terms of retail selling space. It made sense to seek a job there, but where? I went to the one store that I'd been in the most besides Record World-Gimbel's. Most of my clothes came from there, I was familiar with them. Why not?

In the interim, since they didn't interview on the spot, I went to Record World and World Imports. I was probably one of hundreds who applied to both of those places. The last place I hit actually hired me on the spot.

I was working in a kiosk in the center of the mall, but they didn't have much to offer in the way of opportunity or hours. A week after getting the job, I was called back by Gimbel's to work one night.

What I didn't know, in all those time of shopping there, is that for their Night Sale, they hired day labor, who would bag items and take sensors off clothing to leave those who knew what they were doing to ring on the registers.

4pm, September 13th, 1984 I arrived for my one day shift. After a quick orientation, I was deposited in the Girl's department (a department I still fit in some items at that time, mind you!) to assist Rosewitha. The line was 20 people long and stayed that way most of the night. Rita, as she preferred to be called, was funny and nice and we hit it off quickly when she saw that I was catching on. She added a task, looking up the sales on the printouts to find out what each item was on sale for. Then, I'd look on the markdown pages to get the sale price.

For example, we had Healthtex clothes at 33% off. I'd find the item was indeed part of the sale, then look up 23.00 on the sheets that listed 20%, 25%, 30%, 33%, 40% and 50% off prices for every price point from 1.00 to 100.00. She saw that I enjoyed what I was doing and flagged down the manager (Iris O.) and mentioned that I'd applied for a permanent job and to go find my application. By the end of the night, I had a job in the childrens department and started two weeks later. Bye Bye, job at the candy kiosk!

Gimbels was a closed union shop, so I quickly became a union employee at 3.50 an hour. Wheeeeeeeeee! One of the union's collective bargaining rules required set schedules. I was given a 13.3 hour shift, Tuesdays and Fridays 6:10 to 9:40 and Sunday 11:50 to 6:10. Did I work 13.3 hours a week? I think I only did that the very first week.

Those Night sales? Like the one that got me hired? They happened about every month and we were open from 8am to 12 midnight. In the years I worked for Gimbels, I worked many "Irons" (inspired by the Ironman races), where I'd be there at 8am and still there at midnight, taking down those sale signs!

It was a great job for a college student. I still had time to study, to hang out with my friends and do things. I kept picking up Floater shifts to get more hours. At one point, I expressed the desire for a full time role, but still needed to work around my school schedule. Officially, there was no full time night job in the place, but I had one. I had a set schedule and put in my 37.5 hours each week. Heck, there were times were I rolled in the big bucks, thanks to that collective bargaining. Work six days and you got time and a half-work seven in a week and you got double time. On a Saturday. During Christmas season.

I was a sponge, I wanted to learn, to do, to help. My coworkers were a great bunch of people. If the place still existed, it's possible you would still find me working there. The encouragement I got from my mother hens and some of the managers told me I could be a manager, too. Its easy to do well when you like what you're doing.

It was heaven and hell to work a Night Sale, to have non stop lines and have to look up stuff. Fortunately, I memorized those percentages really quick and didn't have to look up prices. Eventually, I was working every Wednesday night and thus set up for the Thursday Night Sale, so I knew what was on sale and didn't have to look them up. My line moved fast and I would see people move over to my register in toddlers from the shorter (but slower moving line) in another department! It was a game to be fast and I thrived on it.

One game I never won was the close your register race. I was never the quickest in my department. I think the bad wrists kind of impacted me there. In my tenure at the last job, I was far quicker than my fellow managers. I think all those close your register races with Nancy F each night paid off!

I could go on for pages and pages about the job. The cameraderie, the long hours, the inventories that gave me humorous nightmares, and all the knowledge that was packed into that few years there.

The past two weeks have reminded me of my experience at Gimbels. As a new store, we've been given the gift of two whole weeks training together and fostering relationships. It's feeling a lot like the job I walked into back in 1984. That is a very good thing, indeed.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

What's For Dinner Wednesday

In an effort to be different (again), here's my offering on the picture and Wednesday front.

Jane made Ed one of the most talked about meals from his youth: Bacon Rings:

They are made from homemade stuffing, wrapped in bacon and then baked until the bottoms get hard and crisp.

He loves them, but of course, this is his comfort food. I'd probably make them radically different. Until recently, my favorite comfort meal from my youth left him yawning. Now I make it from scratch and I think it's become one of his favorites.

It just makes me wonder what each of the boys will claim as the comfort food of their youth!

Maybe They Think Tinky Winky Is Scary?

I wasn't going to write any new posts about my banning from the DisBoards. It's old news-I'm over it. I've been spending more time on the UnDIS and a couple of private boards I'd been invited to join.

Part of what got many of us laughing that Saturday night was that if you clicked on a hyperlink on the the UnDIS that brought you back to the DISboards, you instead were redirected to a thread on the UnDIS titled "Get A Life." Ha Ha. However, once the thread was edited by the moderator of the UnDIS, Webmaster Alex probably was quite chagrined that we were mocking him. Plan B came in, and I'm telling you about it because the financial ramifications seriously bother me.

Once people began being banned, any links from the UnDIS (Circle of Sarcasm) to the DisBoards now redirect you to PBS's Teletubbies site. I know you're saying "Big Deal!". Well, actually, it IS a big deal.

You see, Public Broadcasting exists through the generosity of viewers like you and me. Back when I had the funds, I was a supporter of our local Public Radio and Television. It is great programming, and my family has enjoyed many a program from PBS, Teletubbies included.

Currently, anyone clicking on a hyperlink at the UnDIS site goes to PBS. I don't know how much each click costs PBS, but lots of clicks are happening. I'm sure Webdoofus Alex finds this amusing, but I don't, because his little game could actually HURT viewers of Public Television.

Right now, congress is debating whether they'll subsidize public broadcasting or discontinue the practice. What this means is that every penny that PBS earns means even more to them. Do you want their limited funds wasted on paying for the bandwidth wasted on a stupid Disney message board's redirects?

If you want to see what I'm talking about, here's what you do: but there's a caveat involved. Go to the UnDIS. Find a thread with a link that says DISboards in the URL address. To make it easy, there is a thread titled "Another WTF thread" that has a link in the first post. Click on that link and you'll see that it doesn't take you to the DisBoards, but to the Teletubbies site.

Many members of the UnDIS have taken to cutting and pasting any links instead of clicking the hyperlinks, so as to not cost PBS any more money. Several of us have contacted PBS about the redirect. However, not everyone is aware of this issue and the links are still being clicked.

The caveat? If you click on that link, and get to the PBS site, and you have the funds to do so PLEASE consider making a contribution to PBS! They really need your money.

Also, consider contacting your local PBS station and letting them know that the morons at the DisBoards are draining their bandwidth because of some stupid internet grudge.

I don't want to see the Teletubbies site disappear because of some Webdoofus.

Alex, if you're reading this, give it up. Be a man and stop hurting Public Broadcasting.

****About a month after I wrote this entry, the redirects instead sent people back to the UnDIS. Too bad the webmasters at the DIS can't over ride the Mozilla 'click around' feature.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


It's rare that I have the house to myself. Usually, Ed is at home. Evenings, especially, the kids are here and the usual bedtime chaos ensues.

Tonight is a little different. Tuesday involves cooking class and Boy Scouts. With gas prices as high as they are, it makes more sense to make one trip over to our old stomping grounds. So, Ed leaves with both boys before I get home from work.

Last Tuesday, I met up with a friend over at WDW. Tonight, I've sat in peace and quiet, surfing the web. Eventually, I decided to put on the iPod and do a brisk walk out to the mailbox. Partly to test the waters of doing some light exercising again, partly because the quiet was too much.

I'm back home, and the iPod is still playing. I'm just not used to quiet anymore!

Monday, May 05, 2008


One of the things I had to do for work this past weekend was to shop the competition. I didn't expect much, but heck, I didn't think the experience would be that bad.

I went to competitor S. When I got to the department I planned to shop, I was on the cell phone with Rich. I spent the time on the phone completely ignored. Ok, I get that. However, once I got off the phone and walked around looking intently at their merchandise for two circuits of their in store promotional DVD!

One salesperson was helping a couple, but there were four other associates in the department and a bunch of customers over by me. Two employees were behind the cash wrap, one was walking with that purposeful "I've got places to go and things to do" walk, but he wasn't doing anything. I was not the only customer he didn't help in the entire time I was there. I don't think he ever helped anyone.

The fourth person was the manager who was busy straightening a display. (Several of my new coworkers came from store S, and I understand that this manager is supposed to be out on a medical leave-but the store insists that he come to work.) I give him a pass, because I know his sense of obligation all too well.

With all that time of looking and being ignored, I learned a bunch on my own about the product I was pretending to shop for. (Heck, if i wasn't so broke, I'd buy one). After about 40-45 minutes, my phone rings. It's Donna, calling to tell me she's arrived at home. I step outside of the department I was trying to get help in, as she knew of my homework assignment and might ask questions that I didn't want those associates to hear.

The gentleman in the next department heard me say "I've been in store S for about 45 minutes so far and no one wants to help me with anything in that department." No sooner did I get off the phone, did he ask me what he could help me with.

I was telling him that I'd spent at least 40 minutes in the next department with no help. He apologized that he couldn't help me, and hollered over to one of the people holding the counter up to come help the lady who wanted to buy something!

Once she came over, the associate was helpful, even printing out a product information sheet about the item I was considering. However, it took far too long to get that help. Most people wouldn't last 5 minutes.

The good and the bad about not wearing my watch lately is that I had no idea how long I had been waiting. I left, thanking the young woman for the information. When I got in my car, I was shocked. I had spent ONE HOUR in that store!

Keep it up, guys. You'll make my job that much easier! :)

Sunday, May 04, 2008

7 Random Facts About Me

What the heck, I haven't done a MeMe in a few weeks, and this one was on Grandy's blog. I loves me some Grandy! I wish she'd blog more! She in turn, got it from a new guy, Nofaceberg. What's not to like about a guy who's a Mets fan?

If you'd like to do this one, consider yourself tagged. If not, hakuna matata!

1. I'm the 7th of 8 kids, but I'm an oldest, too. This meant Mom was very lenient and Dad? Well, I had to beg for the car to do important stuff like deliver the 120 boxes of citrus fruit that I sold for Choir! Giggles had it much easier a few years later getting that car!

2. I've never been snow skiing, but I have been water skiing. At this stage of the game, I doubt I'll ever get to glide down a mountain, but I'd love to try.

3. I can't stand Minnie Mouse. Thanks to a coworker, I found out the reasons for my dislike: she seems to be stepping out on the Main Mouse. Think about it: you always see her with Goofy! Also, she's always showing those bloomers-a lady (mouse?) shouldn't be showing her bloomers. Nope, not a fan of Minnie.

4. I've lived in three states and traveled to 24 of them. I'm not sure if I'm done living in different states, but I do know I plan on visiting many more.

5. In the nearly 22 years as a NY resident, I never went to Times Square to see the ball drop. That crowd you see on TV? I'd hazard a guess that it's 90% non NYers! Being outside in the cold for hours to watch some lights at the top of a building go down a pole was not my idea of a good time. OTOH, laughing at those people while watching them from the warmth of a house while consuming alcoholic beverages? Much better idea!

6. I have a scar on my lip from a dog bite when I was 7 years old. It didn't traumatize me, because I still adore dogs. Except for little yippers (punters), like the terrier that bit me!

7. If I became rich, one of the odd things I'd probably do is get my favorite arcade games from the late 70's and early 80's and have a game room in the house. The kids would love it and if I had Tron, Phoenix and Tempest with the right controls, I'd be happy. (Oh and I think I'd have to have Ms Pac Man and then KnockOut so I could hear bowwy bwow! Weft! Weft! Wight! Wight! and laugh all over again!)

Your turn, if you're inclined!

Suzanne's Soundtrack Sunday

Have you ever heard a song and said to yourself "I didn't know that XYZ made a new album!", only to find that it wasn't XYZ? Did it surprise you when it was XYZ's relative?

That seems to happen a lot in the business of music. Probably one of the more famous examples is the Brothers Gibb. Barry, Robin and Maurice had their careers well established when younger brother Andy came along. They gave him a helping hand, but the gene pool provided Andy with that same falsetto and abilty to harmonize well (thanks to their willingness to back him on that debut album).

There are many other examples, both on the grand scale and small scale. The Jackson family also has an overabundance of talented musicians (and crazies, too, but that's not my subject today!).

Parents and children also seem to have this gift, though success seems to vary greatly. On the country side, you'd be hard pressed to answer whether Hank Williams or Hank Jr (aka Bocephus) had the greater career. John Lennon had two talented sons, but they will never rival their dad's popularity. I think Julian sounds scarily like his dad when performing similar material.

The future will bear out another one. Billy Joel's daughter, Alexa Ray, has forgone college in favor of learning the ropes of the music biz by touring small venues. I picked up her EP last year and you can hear a cornucopia of influences, but she definitely is not a cookie cutter of her dad.

Lesser known names that I've enjoyed the work of siblings include Danny White, long time collaborator with Basia and his brother, Peter White. These brothers both play Jazz, but Danny's forte is piano and Peter's is the guitar. I just wish that Danny and Basia put out music more frequently. Such is your lot when you're a fan of two perfectionists.

I leave you with a YouTube for one of the coolest examples I can give of the family affair of music. Two siblings of great musicians of the 60s or 70s. You know of James Taylor and Mama Cass Elliot, right? Who doesn't?

Here's Livingston Taylor, James' younger brother and Leah Kunkel, Cass's younger sister. It's a pretty song-and shows that the music gene runs strong in those families. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Good friend, good food, good wine

We have had a low key kind of day around here. Guest's choice, so we went over to Tampa to visit a store she doesn't have at home. Lunch at this awesome German deli/restaurant. However, this is what Donna was jonesing for as part of the dinner:

This is what happens when you post pictures of food you prepare on the blog. I'm not mean, so if she wants it, she gets it.

In exchange, she brought us the fruits of her trip to Napa last fall for work:

(She's a travel agent, so she got to explore Napa on the company. I wanted to hide in her luggage)

The wine in question was a gift from the vintner. Each of the TA's on the trip was told they had to share it with loved ones. This bottle was waiting for the next time that we all were together. Here it is, breathing properly before consumption.

It was good. Probably a bunch more tannic and oaky than any of us would normally drink. However, drinking something outside your comfort level expands your comfort level. Eventually, this will probably be a desired wine for us. It sure got us warm! It's a perfect wine for a cold winter's night-up north.

The rest of the meal, you ask? Well, if some of us had our way, it'd only be the gratin. Instead, we had bourbon chicken (if you buy the bottled stuff, cut it with some teriyaki) and corn. But it was all about the gratin.

Who am I kidding? It is all about the company!