After a week with my parents at their house on Lake Ontario, Rahul and I are full of song.  Well, actually, just song titles.  I doubt we’ll ever get around to writing the lyrics, but I’m pretty sure we’ll always remember the subject matter.

Don’t Hook Your Mommy (This is what I kept saying to Rahul as I followed him various fishing holes.  I did actually have a couple verses of this in my head, about different friends who have had to go the emergency room after getting a fish hook stuck in various body parts.  Luckily–and probably because I kept repeating this title unendingly–no fish hooks got stuck in mommy.)

I’m Never Going Canoeing Again (This is what Rahul said after a rather eventful canoe trip he and I took over to a nearby harbor–for some fishing, of course–that nearly ended with a coastguard rescue.  The lake was fairly calm on our trip to the harbor, but by the time we were heading back home the waves had whitecaps and the wind was against us.  Rahul and I were heaving and hoeing with all of our might and literally staying in one place.  So I called it and we turned around, nearly capsized and headed for the shore of a private beach.  Later that day Rahul got introduced to a Smith family classic, The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  Its a lovely song documenting the death of 29 boatmen on the Great Lakes.  Sample lyric: Superior, its said, never gives up her dead.  Lovely.)

Grandpop, What’s a Redneck? (One can only imagine the lyrics of this song and, believe me, its better that it not get written!  Rahul heard me say the word, and when he asked me I was so embarrassed/ashamed that I had used it that I told him it was a bad word.  So he asked my dad the next day, and I’m sure he told him ALL about it.)

Marchiano Diablos Caca Poopoo Means I Love You (Marchiano Diablos Caca Poopoo is Rahul’s latest catchphrase.  He usually has a new one each week, usually a random line from a cartoon, and throughout any given day will insert it in different types of sentences.  This is the first time his catchphrase has had an Italian accent.)

Pickup Trucks Don’t Float (This would be quite a song.  Every year my parents put a dock in the water at the beginning of the summer and take it out again at the end by attaching it to their pickup truck and driving down their right-of-way.  This year Rahul was sitting on said dock as it was being loaded into the water, and when my dad stopped the truck to adjust something, I had Rahul get off. While my dad held his foot on the brake I adjusted the ramps that fit behind the large iron wheels of the dock. When I was finished, I moved aside and as my dad prepared for the final descent into the water the truck’s brakes gave out and the dock and the entire truck went crashing into the water.  The back end of the truck landed on the front end of the dock, where Rahul had just been sitting.  Nightmares have been had by all, imagining all the possible outcomes of that scenario.  This would definitely be a Country song.)

 

By All Means, Bring Your Coffee! (After we learned that pickup trucks don’t float, we also learned that AAA doesn’t cover towing vehicles that are in the water, even if they are only 18 inches from shore.  So emergency recovery vehicles had to be brought in.  And while extremely helpful, they are not discreet.  My parents live on a dirt road.  Until a few years ago, it was only known as Fire Lane 44.  3 or 4 huge towing vehicles, covered in flashing lights, parked in my parents’ front yard at midnight caused quite a stir in the neighborhood.  Personally, I’m not a big fan of many of my parents’ neighbors.  Much to my peace-at-all-costs mother I have had words with several ill mannered people in her neighborhood who have crossed the line in various ways over the years.  I know it upsets her, so I REALLY made an effort to hold my tongue while scads of neighbors she has never met flocked over to see what all the hubbub was about.  Most of them began with, “Is there a fire?”, which would have been fine if it was uttered with concern, not hopeful glee.  And I noticed that all of them except the one neighbor who is actually a dear friend were holding travel coffee mugs.  In case they needed a little refreshment while they watched tragedy unfolding.  I was inside the house watching all these people flock around my mom and her friend, while I knew she was holding back tears thinking of all the money they were losing by the minute.  Finally I had to emerge and join them and my icy stares shushed them right back to their homes. )

 

 

While creatively inspired by the events of the week, I am also feeling like I need a vacation!

 

Album Cover? Baby Fish Mouth is standing in the spot where the dock eventually was placed.

 

Somebody Needs a Band Aid

December 16, 2010

Band-Aid-2

 

I’m feeling particularly snarky tonight–I think the overwhelmingness of this overwhelming season has, well, begun to overwhelm me.  So with all the bitterness and Bad Santa I can muster, here’s my dissection of the worst, most creepy and disturbing Christmas anthem ever recorded:

DO THEY KNOW ITS CHRISTMAS–by Band Aid

Click here to see the video…

It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid 

  • OK. Right off the bat I have a problem with this song.  The people who usually say, “There’s no need to be afraid” are usually people who are about to mug you or hurt you in some way.  Of course we have no reason to be afraid!  Its Christmas!  And that’s all you’ve said so far! What’s scary about that?  Are you referring to the death gongs we’re hearing in the background?

At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade 

  • So, not to be critical, or anything.  But has anyone ever said, “Oh its Christmas time–let’s make sure we banish shade!”  I’m mean, what did shade ever do?

And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy!
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time 

  • Boy George, I have no problem with you. Yes, let’s.

But say a prayer – pray for the other ones 

  • Yes, we should say a prayer.  Thank you for reminding us, George Michael.  What “other ones” are you referring to?  And are they in some way connected with a creepy guy named Ben? (Sorry. Outdated Lost reference.)

At Christmas time

it’s hard, but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window 

  • For a minute here I feel like I’m gonna like this song.

And it’s a world of dreaded fear 

  • And here’s where the song starts to go downhill for me.  And its not that I disagree that a large part of the world lives in fear.  Its just so First World of this song to make it seem that the whole world–except us–is living in dreaded fear.  Yes, there are some parts of the world, even today–many years after this song was recorded (!) where people are living in extreme poverty.  And I believe our lives, if we have any means at all, should be spent working towards eliminating that poverty.  But to paint the picture that everyone in Africa is miserable and only with money and power can you find the true meaning of Christmas, seems to be the underlying message of the song.

Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears 

  • Aww! Sting sang the word “sting”!

And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom 

  • What?????? Clanging chimes of doom??? “Sorry, you impoverished, suffering person.  You may think those lovely Christmas bells are meant to represent the hope and promise of Jesus’ birth.  But actually they are signaling your doom.  Just wanted to let you know.”

Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you 

  • OH. MY. GOD!  What??!!! What is THAT supposed to mean????!!  I’m sure whenever Bono hears that he wants to throw up just a little.

And there won’t be snow in Africa this christmas time 

  • There’s NEVER snow in Africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (except for the Atlas Mountains in Morocco).  Is this supposed to imply that because many countries in Africa are suffering economically God changed the weather on them?  Just to drive the nail in a little further??

The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Where nothing ever grows

No rain or rivers flow 

  • Nothing? Nothing ever grows?  No rain? Ever?  The picture being painted here is less an accurate.  It seems like they are trying to say that everyone on the continent of Africa is lucky to be alive and all the land is a barren wasteland suffering drought.  I mean, the suffering in parts of Africa is beyond our ability to even imagine.  But if I were an African hearing this song I would be offended. Can anyone say Broad Generalization?

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? 

  •  Well, 47% of Africa is Muslim, so I’m pretty sure they don’t care if its Christmas.

Here’s to you
Raise your glass for everyone 

Here’s to them
Underneath that burning sun

  • All right.  So let’s say I’m moved by this song.  I’ve realized that I’ve been taking my abundance for granted and I’m ready to do something that will make a difference.  “What should I do, oh 80’s pop stars?”  Their answer: Have a drink.  Cheers, “other ones”!

Do they know it’s Christmas time at all? 

  • Once again, just saying. Only 40% of the continent is Christian.


Feed the world

Feed the world
Feed the world
Let them know it’s christmas time and
Feed the world

  • Hey, Bob Geldof is OK in my book.  He did a really cool thing and has spent a lot of his life trying to do SOMETHING for the poor and that’s more than most can say.  ( Bob, please tell me the money DID go to the poor.  Some say it went to buy weapons for Ethopian rebels.  Oh whew!  The BBC retracts that claim! http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-11688535) So to his cause and his idea I give an A+++++.  To the lyrics of this particular song, D-.

Wow.  I feel so much better.  Thanks Band Aid.  I now will pour myself some wine and raise a glass to you!

Click here to see the video…

Marathon Ready

November 30, 2010

December is a marathon and Christmas is the finish line.  To gear up, I decided that I need a better fuel than Diet Coke.  That has been my go to energy source for the past 3 years, and honestly, I think I’m starting to flatline.  I guess my body has built up a tolerance, because it doesn’t seem to work quite as well as it used to.

 

One day, three years ago, I was sitting around a conference table at a lunch meeting and I was about to open my mouth to say, “Yawn, I’m soooo tired!” when I stopped myself and instead started a conversation with myself (yes, it was out loud).  It went something like this: “Oh, shut up Renee.  You’re always complaining about how tired you are. ” “Yeah…I am!  Why is that?  I don’t hear my coworkers complaining about how tired they are all the time!”  Then I looked around the table and realized that everyone at the table had either a Diet Coke or a cup of coffee in front of them.  And I had an aha moment!  Caffeine is the answer to all my problems!

 

Before that day I rarely ingested caffeine.  I didn’t drink soda, had never had a cup of coffee in my life, and only sometimes drank tea.  And I was always tired.

 

So I started drinking Diet Coke and seriously, I felt so much more focused and energized.  And then I adopted Rahul and my Diet Coke intake tripled.  I know it sounds awful, but I really don’t think I could have made it through without it.  I’m down to 1-2 cans per day, but I know its evil and rotting my stomach lining and giving me all kinds of diseases.  And please don’t tell me how horrible it is for me unless you want to hear my rant about all the things I abstain from in life and how this is truly my one and only vice and you’re prepared to lay all your vices out on the table, because that’s the kind of conversation it would be.  I’m very defensive.

 

Then the other night I was thinking about December.  I’ve got a lot to do this month.  Lots of work, lots of holiday stuff.  And that on top of an already full life/schedule.  And my financial situation is such that one bout of illness could wipe me out completely–I can’t miss a day of work.  So it occurred to me to get a better plan than Diet Coke.  So here’s my plan: 1. Go to bed earlier.  2. Get up earlier and work out in the morning (its about time I incorporate that into my routine).  3. Drink lots more water.   4. Eat more fruits and vegetables. 5. Drink less Diet Coke.

 

Pretty good, right?

 

I’ve actually done it for two days now and both days have been insanely full from morning to night.  But I’ve had energy to get through the day and I haven’t felt the urge to take a nap while I’m driving or anything.  So I guess its working so far!

 

Wish me luck:)

Rahul and my sister after running an actual race last week

It all started with the turkey.

 

The restaurant where I was working when I was, like, 24 years old gave us all free, frozen turkeys as a Thanksgiving present.  So my roommate, Kara, and I decided to make a night out of setting each another up on dates, eating said turkey in the context of a fancy dinner, then going out to Lincoln Center for a concert.  I had always wanted to attend a Handel’s Messiah concert, so we got tickets and we got dates.  Then our friend Mike (and neighbor–he lived one floor above us in our apt bldg) heard about our plan and wanted to join us.  He got his own date.

 

My job was going to be preparing the turkey/stuffing.  Kara (who was a vegetarian, BTW) was going to make soup–a family recipe.  That left Mike in charge of dessert.  Kara and I were unsure of Mike’s comfort level with baking, so we looked up a few recipes and offered suggestions.  We thought something light and fruity would be appropriate pre-concert.

 

He chose to make a Betty Crocker chocolate cake.

 

The day of our event I woke up and went to the freezer to take my turkey out.  That’s right. I hadn’t thawed it.  It was frozen solid.  And our guests were coming over in about 8 hours.  In a panic, I read the packaging on the turkey and it said something about a “quick thaw” method that involved soaking it in a cold water bath.  Whew! I thought. Crisis averted!  I put the turkey in a cold water bath, then left to go on an audition.  When I came back 2 hours later, the turkey was still frozen solid.  I chipped ice off it and tried to scrape the gizzards out of the cavity, but my fingers were getting frostbitten.  I was beginning to think the turkey miiiiiight not be ready to serve in 6 hours.  So I called Kara at work to alert her.  She worked in a wall street office and offered to go around to the executives and pilfer bits of fruit and crackers from the Harry and David gift baskets they had all gotten from their clients for Christmas.  Then she told me she would have to work late and would only be getting home in time for the dinner.  Uh, what?  What about your soup, Kara?  No problem, she assured me.  She said all the ingredients were in a grocery bag and all I had to do was open all the packages and dump them in a pot on the stove.  I said, Uh, Kara?  I can’t cook. (Obviously.)  So when you say, open the packages and dump it in a pot, that is LITERALLY what I am going to do.  I don’t have any method of discerning if I should perhaps add some water or some other soupy ingredient.  I’ll try not to burn it, but at this point, that’s all I can promise.  She was OK with those odds and said goodbye, leaving me again to my turkey dilemma.  I set up another cold bath for the little guy and went about preparing the table.  I had place cards, floral arrangements, china…table setting was my strength and really, I should have just stuck with that.

 

Then there was a knock on the door and it was Mike, stopping by to show me that he had purchased his Betty Crocker cake mix and was heading home to bake.  Uh, Mike, don’t bother me.  I’m thawing a turkey.  After he left I went back into the kitchen and searched through my cookbooks looking for some miracle cure for the chunk of ice and flesh taking a bath in my sink.  Then I saw it.  At the bottom of the page in one of my cookbooks it read:  Questions about cooking your turkey?  Call the TURKEY HOTLINE!  It listed a 1-800 number and I ran to the phone to call it.  Unfortunately the lady who answered my call was moving at a non-New York City pace.  I think she was from, like, Alabama.  Even the way she said hello was slow: Heeeelllllllllloooooooooo-oooooooooo?????  Before she even got to the lll’s I had screamed hello!!!! In about 2.7 seconds I detailed my crisis to her and awaited instructions.  She paused.  For a long time.  Then she said, Sooooooooooo.  Yyyoooooouuuuu’rrrrrrreee ffffrrrrrooooooooommmmmm  NNNNNeeeeewwwww YYYYYooooorrrrkkkkk CCCCCCiiiitttttyyyyyyyyyy????????  Another long pause.  I edited what came to my mind so that what came to my mouth was, Yes.  And I really need some help.  RIGHT NOW!  Then Super Slow Turkey Hotline Lady came through and told me that I could actually cook the turkey while its still frozen, I would just have to add a half hour of cooking time for every pound.  I quickly did some math in my head and realized that if I put the turkey in the oven right then, it would be ready at 10:30 pm, just about the time we would be getting back from the concert.  I was elated!! I thanked SSTHL and got off the phone.

 

Then there was another knock on my door.  It was Mike again.  Renee, do you have a bowl I can borrow?  I was about to criticize him for not having a bowl when he was making a cake, then I remembered that my turkey was still solid as a rock.  Sure, Mike.  Let me get you a bowl.

 

I put the turkey in the oven and called Kara again to check in when there was another knock and the door.  It was Mike again.  Do you have a measuring cup I could borrow?  Ran through my own cooking failure in my head again and edited my comment to, Sure Mike, Let me get you a measuring cup.

 

Then I set about finishing up the cleaning and opening all the packages for Kara’s soup, when there was another knock at the door.  Mike.  2 eggs?  Oil?  I gave him a look that said everything my brain was thinking and after I silently passed him the eggs and oil I slammed the door in his face.

 

Our guests were about to arrive, so I went in the bathroom to get ready and Kara came home from work just in time to greet them with her pears and crackers.  She stopped in at the bathroom to see how I was doing and I was just sitting in a heap crying.  I was so stressed out and felt like such a failure. She talked me through it, gave me a hug and got me on my feet again.  I asked, Did the soup come out OK?  She averted my eyes and said, No, it hadn’t, and quickly exited.  A few minutes later she came back in the bathroom.  She had tears in her eyes and she was holding back a huge laugh as she asked me to come out into the kitchen.  I followed her out and greeted all our guests, who were pretending to like their Harry and David castoffs.  And when I got to the kitchen, she gestured to Mike’s “cake”, which was sitting on the counter.  Actually, it was kind of sliding off.  He had attempted a layer cake.  And I’m pretty sure he was waiting at the oven door for the cake to finish baking with a spatula full of frosting.  Because the cake was still steaming hot and the frosting had turned to “icing/liquid” and was running down our counter.  The top layer of the cake had slid off and was at a 45 degree angle.  And cake was on a cheap Kmart plate.  I loved it.  I laughed so hard that I had to sit down on the floor.  Our elegant dinner was such a flop and we were all losers in the kitchen, but it really was starting to strike me as incredibly hysterical.

 

After our hors d’Oveures we set off for the concert, with the plan that after the concert we would come back and sit down for our “feast”.  The turkey remained in the oven, causing approximately 7 fire hazards.

 

The concert was very nice.  But I have a bit of a sensitivity to people making noise around me in theaters.  I can hear someone sucking on a hard candy across a room full of 300 people.  And unfortunately, the women behind me had just purchased some fascinating opera glasses at the gift shop.  And unfortunately, they were wrapped in what sounded like 13 layers of crinkly, plastic wrap.  And UNFORTUNATELY, they chose the very quiet, sad, alto solo, “He Was Despised”, about Jesus’ crucifixion, to unwrap their new goggles and chat all about them loudly right in my ear.  Kind of wrecked it for me.

 

Anyway, after the concert we went back to my place, where the turkey STILL was not cooked.  It was now late and we were all cranky and starving, so we decided to eat the only piece of food in the house.  The cake.  We sat down at the fancy table I had set up and set the “cake” in the center.  Then we all grabbed our forks and just started hacking away at it.  It was too lopsided and slippery to actually cut, and we were too tired to try anyway.  So we just ate like pigs in fancy clothes.

 

Then Mike left to take his date home.  And my date went home.  Then Kara said goodbye to her date and went to bed.  At 2:30 am Mike returned.  He was hungry and the turkey was finally done.

 

So we carved it up and the two of us ate, what I swear to this day, was the most delicious turkey I’ve ever eaten.

I don’t know when it started, but many years back I started accumulated a series of “holiday” movies that I loved watching each year.  They were so special to me that I only wanted to watch them once a year, so I could savor them and anticipate them.  And I have to see them in a certain order. (Oh My God, I just realized that that’s a little OCD.  Uh-oh.)

 

The first one I watch each year is When Harry Met Sally.  I watch it whenever I feel like its really Autumn.  And my film series culminates in my absolute favorite movie of all time, Its a Wonderful Life (please see the title of my blog for proof), which I watch right before Christmas.

 

So yesterday I watched When Harry Met Sally and remembered all over again how much I love that movie.  And here’s why:

 

10.  “Oh, I’ve been looking for a red, suede pump!” The perfect excuse to pull over a girlfriend and vent/gossip/discuss while you look like you are perusing the shoe display.

9.  “No one I know would call at this hour.” How Bruno Kirby answers the phone in the morning.

8.  “…this stupid, Roy Rogers, garage sale, wagon wheel coffee table!!” Sometimes when I go off on a rant I end with this line, just to get my point across.

7.  “Pecan Piiiie.” I can’t see pecans or pie without quoting Billy Crystal and his weird accent.

6.  “People were always crossing rooms to talk to Maxine.”  Aha! Obscure WHMS reference, n’est pas?  Its my favorite line from the vignettes where the couples tell how they met.  I can relate, as I’ve had a lot of friends that people crossed rooms for.

5.  “Tell me I never have to be out there again.” “You will NEVER have to be out there again.” Someday someone will say this to me.

4.   “At least you can say you were married.” This is how people really think. Its said in response to Sally’s friend suggesting she marry a dying man.

3.  “And I’m going to be 40!” “…In 8 years!” I don’t think turning 40 is a big deal, but I love this line because I have been there before.

2.  “Sally, please report to me.” Right before H and S sing karaoke Surrey With The Fringe On Top, which is the rendition I hear in my head anytime I see Oklahoma.

1.  “Oh, and Baby Fish Mouth is sweeping the nation.” Well, my dog is named Baby Fish Mouth, if you didn’t know, and my “cool test” when I meet new people is to tell them my dog’s name and see if they get the reference.

Baby Fish Mouth (taking a bath)