Friday, July 31, 2009

'Your Heart Is As Black As Night' ...

Oh, baby.

I love this tune. It's sassy and vampy and film noir-y. It's the other track from Melody's second album that I was itching to try.

But Tuesday, before I headed off to the studio, I sang it a few times and thought, "Oh, I don't know if I can pull this one off."

And then a voice in my head said, in a somewhat exasperated tone, "Beth, you have to at least try."

I arrived at the studio and Brian imported the tune into his system as I said, "I don't know if I have the chops for this one."

Without skipping a beat, he said, "Oh, you have the chops."

So I headed into the booth and sang while he adjusted the levels.

When he was finished, we tried a take. And then I came out of the booth to listen to it.

I stood behind his chair and said, pleasantly surprised, "Huh!"

And he said, good-naturedly, "You don't get to be surprised anymore."

We left Melody in at the end, but when I return to the studio to tweak a few things, I'll record that bit, too.

And if you need it, the direct URL is here.

I'll also add this track to my post that hosts all my tunes to date.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The 3-Day: Get Ready, Get Set ...

Greetings, Chicago walkers! It’s almost our turn!

This event will be my sixth 3-Day. I’m truly excited about walking this year, more so than in years past. I always look forward to it, but this year, I’m really eager to lace up and hit the route. That’s because I’ll be walking with Amy this year. I met Amy on last year’s event and she’s become one of my dearest friends. There are thousands of wonderful things about the 3-Day (beginning with all the walkers and crew; everyone starts off at “amazing” in my book, just for showing up, and they become even more awesome to me over the ensuing three days) but one of the best things about the 3-Day is forming friendships. A year ago, I didn’t know Amy. Today, she’s an important part of my life.

But lately, I’ve also been thinking about my first 3-Day: Atlanta. October. 2001. Three weeks after September 11th, I had to get on a plane. And I did. And I was fine. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it.

In the end, of course, it was an amazing experience. So why I waited until 2005 to return to the 3-Day fold, I couldn’t tell you.

But I’ve been there, that mental place of being a week away from embarking on my first-ever 3-Day and being nervous, the need for air travel aside.

The 3-Day was unlike anything I’d ever done before. I had a friend who’d done one before me, and her advice and assurance was invaluable to me. But still, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d gotten myself into.

Would I meet anyone? Would I be able to walk the whole route? What would it be like, camping?

Did I meet anyone? You bet. I met walkers at the gate at O’Hare. And then we met more people at Hartsfield. And then we met more people at the Marta station. And then we met people on the coach to Day 0. (There used to be a Day 0, before computers became such an integral part of the 3-Day process.) And then we met more people at the hotel. Getting the picture? You’ll meet people. Lots of people. On that event, I walked into Closing Ceremonies with the first three women I met at O’Hare, Hartsfield, and on the coach, Sherri, Shannon, and Pat. We spent the whole weekend together. Fast friends.

Was I able to walk the whole route? Unfortunately, no. Some of the terrain on Day 1 was unlevel and I have knee issues that decide to flare up at the most inopportune times. Pat and I were tentmates and walked at the same pace. Her hip was giving her trouble. My knee was very displeased. So we set out on Day 2 determined to complete the day’s miles, but about five miles in, as our pace slowed and our limping became more evident, we admitted to ourselves that we needed to sweep. Our strategy was to rest for the remainder of Day 2 so that we could walk all of Day 3. We swept to the next stop and hopped a coach back to camp. Pat went to the medical tent to get some help for her hip. I was feeling guilty about not walking, so to assuage my guilt, I set up a dozen tents. Tents are very easy to set up, but it’s a little bit of luxury to arrive in camp and discover that someone has taken care of setting up your tent. We were able to complete all of Day 3.

So, two words about sweeping: Do it. Don’t injure yourself. Listen to your body. If you really can’t continue, don’t. Lots of people sweep at some point during the 3-Day. LOTS. There is no shame in it. By the time you step onto the route, you’re already a hero. You’ve already trained and raised funds, and, even more importantly in my book, raised awareness. Everyone is proud of you for being bold and becoming a part of the 3-Day. Remember that.

And learn from my stubborn streak: During Day 3 of the 2006 3-Day, I was in a world of hurt. I should have swept. But each time I arrived a pit stop, I took one look at the coach and kept walking. In my mind, I couldn't sweep from a pit stop or lunch. If I had to sweep, I told myself, I had to be on the route. I had to at least be trying. I finished the event. I walked every step. And for several days after, I could barely move. Do not put your body through that. It will tell you what it needs. Listen to it.

As for the camping? First of all, let me say that I don’t camp. Before my first 3-Day, the last time I’d been camping was sometime when my age was in the single digits. But I remembered very clearly, even all those years later, that I hadn’t liked it. My idea of “camping” is a three-star hotel. But “camping” on the 3-Day is hardly camping. Yes, you sleep in a tent, but that’s about where the any similarity to real camping ends. The 3-Day “camp” is more like a city. But when you arrive in camp, I highly recommend that you make your first stop the dining tent. It will most likely be set up very near the entrance to camp. Go grab dinner then sit down and eat. Don’t worry about your tent and your gear. It’s not going anywhere. Eat. Drink. Refuel.

Let me stress this in bold, capital letters: DO NOT SHOWER BEFORE YOU’VE EATEN DINNER.

Got that? You will have just completed more than 20 miles. You will need fuel. And you will need to let your body acclimate to not moving. You do not want to faint in the shower. And trust me, those around you do not want you to faint in the shower either. We 3-Dayers are a loving bunch, but when it comes to picking up naked strangers, we have our limits. (You should be laughing now. Are you laughing? Good. Then I’ve made my point. Let’s move on.)

But once you’ve eaten and retrieved your gear and set up house for the evening and then showered (right?!), by all means, head back to the dining tent to hear the day’s announcements and hear stories from fellow walkers and participate in whatever entertainment is on tap for the evening.

And then head for your tent. Do bring something to attach to the top of your tent to make it easier to identify in the near-endless sea of hot pink. Personally, I make a huge streamer of curling ribbon and use a clothespin to clip that to my tent. But bring a windsock or colorful towel or whatever you have handy that you’ll be able to spot with ease.

You’ll sleep, regardless, because you’ll be tired, but I highly recommend bringing some sort of sleeping pad or air mattress. The ground is hard. It will also suck the heat out of your body. I’ve seen people blow up inflatable pool floats, which seem like a pretty good idea.

I also recommend ear plugs.

But most of all, I recommend just having fun. The 3-Day is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. It is emotional on every level. You will laugh, a lot. If you’re anything like me, you will cry, a lot. You will witness the best that humankind has to offer. You will be a part of the best that humankind has to offer. You will walk into Closing Ceremonies forever changed.

YOU, first-time walker, are about to do something amazing. I’m really proud of you. I’ll see you at Opening Ceremonies next week.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Blessed ...

Well, that was unpleasant, wasn't it?

I'm referring, of course, to my most recent post.

As my friend Steve wrote to me over the weekend, after reading it, "Wow, the jerks are really coming out of the woodwork lately, aren't they?"


But I am surrounded by a remarkable circle of friends, men and women for whom I have great respect and admiration, and appreciation for their unconditional support.

Their friendship warms me and, at times like these, certainly softens the occasional blows.

My heartfelt thanks to all of them.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Insane Olympics ...

And the men clinch the gold!

Below, an exchange with a now-former Facebook "friend."

He was upset that a mutual friend, a person who is a friend of mine but whom he only knows online – and whose name is redacted here and replaced with "[friend]" – recently unfriended him. He wanted to talk to me on the phone. I was tired so I replied with an e-mail:

[Name redacted], some points to ponder:

You write, "try telling her such things, and out comes her defense mechanisms." But then you also write, "actually, add her to the list."

I'm sure you've considered that when it comes to all the women on "the list," you are the common factor.

Perhaps what you're defining as "defense mechanisms" are simply the other person not being interested in pursuing something with you.

So when you arrive at "i pushed her away," the key word there is "pushed."

Some people – most people– aren't a match. You need to accept a woman's decision, not keep pushing. Pushing is never the answer.

If you're in a store and you're browsing and a sales person follows you around and constantly tries to sell you something, are you more or less inclined to buy that something?

You want to arrive at the decision to buy on your own. Having someone insist that you want to buy something doesn't work.

I'm sorry that you're a little heartbroken, but such is the nature of relationships.

In my book, in any situation that doesn't end the way you hoped it would, it's best to reflect on what transpired and learn something about yourself in the hopes of altering the outcome the next time.

Then I received this:

Beth, I asked for a phone call. Why can't you talk on the phone like an adult? Why are you responding over email? You know very well that this is hard to talk about over email.

And then I received this:


I feel I can address your criticisms, but I just can't manage that over email. If you are sincere about your ideas, you'll hear me explain my perspective about this over the phone.

Briefly, I was very clear to [friend] that I was just friends with her. Now maybe you can't say you have deep association for someone, and just be their friend, but I can. I'm fine with that. So was she, until I showed her a mirror. Likewise, my criticisms of her were, very on target, appropriate, and good for her to hear. I did this because I feel that I understand a part of her that I think you don't, and I'm being a friend. I would prefer to keep the details of that between her and I, but hey, if you want to hear it, I'll show you what I got.

So drop the rudimentary math, would you? This isn't fractional dynamics, it's more like set theory:

A=Truth is hard for some people to hear.
B=Good friends say it like it is.
There is nothing more here than the union of those two truths.

Good night, Beth.

I very much miss my friend.

Unfortunately for him, I refuse to be "spoken" to in such a manner. "Why can't you talk on the phone like an adult?"

So I replied with this:

[Name redacted], I didn't *feel* like talking on the phone, that's why. I've been really tired today. Just because *you* wanted something, doesn't mean you get it. So you got an e-mail because I wanted to be nice enough to reply in some form.

And phrases like, "So drop the rudimentary math, would you?" do you no favors toward endearing people to you. I didn't have to respond at all, but I did. You copping a tone with me is perhaps exactly what the issue is between you and [friend].

At the end of the day, you need to remember, you don't KNOW either of us. An e-mail/Facebook relationship only gets you so far.

So don't insult me by suggesting I'm not an adult. Don't draw conclusions unless you know you have all the information. THIS is a perfect example of what's wrong. I owe you NOTHING, yet you're dare to be pissed that I didn't give you what YOU wanted?

Grow up.

And then I unfriended him. But this morning, I was treated to this:

Yeah, well I got something that trumps your concerns. You are ignoring that I invested my time and energy caring about then getting defreinded by a wallowing insecure broken-winged mom, who doesn't have the guts to see she not only made an ass of herself, but she kicked out the guy that told her the truth for a change.

Listen, BETH. The reason why you get the tone is because you are an immature co-dependent, and you are not at all a good friend to [friend]. A good friend would have got on the god damn phone. You are one excuse after another. Just like [friend]...Both little suburban crossed-wire left behinds. You both clearly attend the same quack-pot nunnery.

But I guess that's ok, Beth. That's what you both want. You both have an aversion to men that you can't and don't want to deal with. That's why you are alone, Beth. It has nothing to do with men, It's you. At least I have a real excuse for not being married. Get out of the burbs slumdog, it has sacked your mind. Hey, and while you are at it, look in the mirror, Beth. You are getting old, and you 're maturity just reverted to your teenage years.

Run away from truth...go ahead. At the end of the day, I know you better than you know yourself.

And you just made my point.

Who needs assholes like you and [friend], Beth? No men need that. That's why you are alone. You'll spend the rest of your life realizing how men won't put up with your bullshit.

You are now the running joke of IL. Get off your ass and get a job.

Low life.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Companion A La Carte ...

In my morning perusal of blogs, I ran across Random Esquire's list of what is sexy in women, a response to QT Mama's list of what is sexy in men.

Which inspired me to make my own list, a work in progress and in no particular order, a modification of QT Mama's list, because she made a really good list. Feel free to add others, in the comments. And note that I don't expect one man to embody everything listed below.

- Treating everyone politely

- Having confidence

- Lacking arrogance

- Walking on the side of traffic

- Opening doors, especially car doors

- Standing up when I leave or return to the table; SWOON

- Displaying intelligence

- Writing well; he doesn't have to be a descendant of Shakespeare, but spelling and grammar and punctuation count for a lot

- Wearing cologne; I shouldn't be able to smell him across the room, but up close – Mmm!

- Knowing when to make me laugh and knowing when to dial down the humor

- Having an accent

- Playing an instrument

- Living with honesty and integrity

- Having strong hands, wrists, and forearms

- Sporting a slightly scruffy face

- Knowing how to fix things

- Knowing what I like to drink

- Ordering for me (once he's asked me what I'd like)

- Appreciating food and wine

- Wanting to travel

- Cooking for me

- Giving flowers for no reason; men, seriously, most of you have yet to grasp just how many points you can score with an unexpected floral delivery

- Having an idea for a date

- Doting on me; I don't expect it, but a man who won't let me lift a finger to help with dinner, for example, earns extra credit

- Carrying things for me

- Reading more than Playboy and the sports section

- Appreciating culture

- Having a pleasant voice

- Maintaining good relationships with his family

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

'Our Love Is Easy' ...

Do you know of Melody Gardot?

I love this woman's voice. If there is any musical justice in the world, she will soon be as popular as Diana Krall, though she should be more popular than Diana Krall because, vocally, she's more talented than Diana Krall.

There are at least two songs from Melody's first album that I'd like to record, and there are at least two from her current album that I'd like to record.

Of course, what I'd like to record and what I'm capable of recording are not always synonymous.

But Monday, Brian and I spent a couple of hours playing around in the studio and turned out a reasonable cover of Melody's "Our Love Is Easy" from her sophomore effort, "My One and Only Thrill."

And if you need it, the direct URL is here.

I'll also add this track to my post that hosts all my tunes to date.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Homegrown Goodness ...

I don't grow things.

I have two houseplants, and they do fine. But outside, I leave my yard in the hands of Mother Nature. She does a pretty good job. Like me, her favorite color is green, so we get along.

Mom, however, is a grower. Yesterday, early, she came by with a paper-towel package.

"What's this?" I asked as she handed it to me.

"Two pickles and five cherry tomatoes," she said. An early harvest from her container garden. I unwrapped my gift and smiled at the cherry tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes are cheery.

I ate the five tomatoes and the big pickle for breakfast.

Mom doesn't plant a garden in the ground, but she coaxes unbelievable bounty out of tomato and pickle plants she pots in various containers just beyond her patio. What started as small cherry-tomato seedlings have grown taller than her gas grill.

Now is about the time of year that tomatoes start coming into their own. Mom plants mostly tiny tomatoes, and soon the day will arrive when we'll head out to her yard with a big glass bowl and fill it full with red and orange and yellow orbs.

And we love them but when it comes to tomatoes there can be too much of a good thing. So mom will share them with me, neighbors, friends at church, whomever would like a bulging Baggie of tomato-y goodness.

I love vegetables right out of the garden. As mom and I harvest tomatoes, we wipe them off and pop 'em in our mouths. There's nothing like that burst of flavor from a tomato warmed by the sun.

And I'm sure, soon enough, the zucchini bounty from other yards will start appearing on her doorstep. (The sooner the better, as zucchini bread is one of my all-time favorite things.)

Flipping through an issue of Family Circle the other day, I ran across an article about Amy Grey, who lives in Moscow, Idaho. In her first foray into gardening, she let her boys plant an entire packet of lettuce seeds and ended up with 200 heads of lettuce.

So she called her local food bank to ask if it accepted produce. It did.

And The Backyard Harvest was born.

I love her idea! She and a multitude of others plant and harvest fruits and vegetables and donate it to local food banks. The program has expanded beyond Idaho to California and Washington. With other communities expressing interest, local chapters are starting to sprout up across the country.

For more information on starting a chapter in your area or to make a contribution, visit this page.

The Backyard Harvest is also compiling recipes and tips to share along with the produce. You can share a favorite recipe or tip here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The 3-Day: A Glimpse ...

For those who've wondered what walkers experience on the 3-Day, this video will give you a brief glimpse into what life is like for those three days. The Chicago event – my sixth – is less than a month away. And I'll tally as many contributions as I can between now and then with your generosity.

Heartfelt thanks to all those who have contributed to date. I can't wait for this year's walk! As ever, I look forward to writing my post-walk recap for all contributors.

One word of advice before watching the video: Go get a Kleenex. Or, if you're like me, grab the whole box.


Sunday, July 12, 2009

If Only I Had Gone To Camp ...

Then perhaps I would have been able to repay my mom, all those years ago, for all she's done – and continues to do – for me.

Alas, I did not. And what else could possibly ever suffice?

I am in love with Billy Collins. Mom, this poem's for you.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

State and Lake ...

Part of me wants to tell the world about this restaurant and part of me wants to keep it a secret so I can always get a reservation.

But here I am, telling you.

State and Lake, in The Wit Hotel, located, cleverly enough, at State and Lake, is my new favorite place in the world.

I simply cannot remember the last time I was so delighted by a restaurant.

First, a word about the atmosphere: dark.

State and Lake is dark. Once you move away from the two-story windows by the entrance, it's almost cave-like – in a good way – despite the soaring ceilings. It's a great date restaurant. The bar, with its extensive collection of seltzer bottles, is central to the space. The music was a tad loud, but I asked Will, our server, if he could turn it down just a skosh, and he quickly obliged.

I instantly fell in love with the details. Details everywhere. Well-thought-out details. The water for the table arrives in what resembles an old milk bottle. Each table features a small dish of salt and a spoon, and the pepper grinder is a funky red number, though my memory is fuzzy at the moment and I'm not sure if it's meant to look like a seltzer bottle or a fire extinguisher.

Even the candle on the table was unusual.

The menus are interesting enough to offer something for everyone yet brief enough to reassure diners that the kitchen should be capable of executing everything well. I don't trust restaurants that offer too many options.

The wine list featured a cabernet sauvignon bottled specifically for the hotel, so I ordered a glass. From the moment Will set it on the table, the aroma told me I was in for a good glass of wine. And indeed, it was lovely.

Never one to hew exactly to the menu, I opted for a side order of mushrooms as my starter. Cue more details! The mushrooms arrived in the most adorable oval cast-iron mini-Dutch oven, if you will. And here I offer my one complaint about the meal: The mushrooms could have been a bit warmer. Those in the bottom of the dish were a better temperature, but those on top were tepid. Still, they were delicious. But then, I adore mushrooms.

Will asked if we'd like bread. (I was there with my mom for a pre-Goodman dinner.) We did. The butter arrived on a little rectangular white ceramic dish, just a cube, softened. The bread arrived as a little loaf in a piece of ceramic bakeware. But it wasn't baked as a loaf. It was baked as four pieces in a little loaf pan – a la cloverleaf rolls – so that each piece could be pulled away from the rest of the loaf and resembled a chubby slice of bread. Adorable!

Mom started with the evening's soup, beef barley. We fancy ourselves beef-barley soup connoisseurs and mom reported that the soup was very good, loaded with beef and barley and vegetables, as it should be.

For her entree, she opted for the summer fruit salad, a lovely combination of watermelon and peaches and goat cheese tossed in a sherry vinaigrette and topped with a chiffonade of basil. I tried a bite of the watermelon with a bit of basil and goat cheese. The watermelon was the definition of watermelon and its cool, crisp sweetness paired with the creamy goat cheese and the hit of fresh basil was outstanding. Simple ingredients, done well.

Oh, but my entree. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be my mom's lasagna, but if I were to pick a second thing, it would be last night's entree: roasted leg of lamb, country cheese ravioli, and grilled broccoli rabe, all drizzled with a bit of lamb reduction.

Oh. My. God. The lamb, roasted to medium-rare perfection and sliced and plated atop a mound of the broccoli rabe, featured an exceptional crust. The broccoli rabe was cooked to exactly the right degree of crisp-tenderness.

But the country cheese ravioli. Never before have I been enchanted with ravioli. First of all, they were wee, about the size of a quarter. Each must have been filled with something like a 1/16th of a teaspoon of filling so light it was practically air.

But the pasta. How can anyone prepare pasta so delicate? And given that pasta swells with cooking, how thin must it have been before? Finished, it was practically tissue paper.

They were ethereal. They were practically memories of ravioli, so perfect and delicate they nearly dissolved on the tongue. Spectacular. I told Will I was in love with the ravioli. He said he'd tell the chef.

Will brought dessert menus, which were also appropriately brief. He recommended the devil's food cake. Mom and I never need to be coaxed into chocolate. And I still had a bit of wine.

The menu revealed that it came plated with raspberry sauce, one of Mom's all-time favorite things, and Will told us it was topped with a bit of meringue which was browned.

Really? Well, all righty, then. One dessert, two forks, please.

What arrived was not devil's food cake. What arrived may as well have been ganache, whipped and then formed into a two-layer "cake," on top of which were piped spikes of meringue that were indeed browned off almost as if toasted marshmallow. All of which sat in the middle of a plate drizzled with raspberry sauce and sprinkled with crunchy chocolaty bits and diced golden raspberries.

Mom and I managed to polish it off, but it's so insanely rich, it easily could serve four.

The check arrived when we asked for it, not before, and came tucked inside a State and Lake bi-fold business card, clipped closed with a tiny clothespin. Details! Details! Details!

Will thanked us for coming – earlier, I asked him how long they'd been open, and he said, "A month and change" – and I told him that I could not remember the last time I was delighted with a restaurant, but I was delighted with State and Lake.

Katie, the manager, came by as we were standing up, and asked us about our experience. I repeated to her what I'd just told Will, and told her that I have a friend coming into town on business in a week and that we'll be there for lunch. Katie recommended the fettucini with rock shrimp and asparagus when I return.

I may take her up on that suggestion, but only because the lamb with ravioli isn't part of the lunch menu.

Do yourself an enormous culinary favor and make your way to State and Lake. I'll probably see you there.

Still 'In Bruges' ...

I'm reposting my original post about this flick because my pal Rick watched it today and wrote tonight to tell me how much he loved it. And I want the whole world to see and appreciate it. Stop what you're doing, right now, and find it.

Ohmygod, I love this movie.

Extreme profanity.
Graphic violence.

Bits of dialogue such as "What are they doin' over there? They're filmin' somethin'. They're filmin' midgets!"


"You can't sell horse tranquilizers to a midget!"

No, it is not politically correct. But it is brilliant.

I knew nothing about it going into it, other than that it was well-received by critics and that Ciarán has an uncredited role in it.

Colin Farrell is great, but Ralph Fiennes is outstanding. Remember his role as the dashing count in "The English Patient"? His role as Harry in this movie is absolutely nothing like that.

And look: two movie posters. I like the top one much better than the bottom. But check out the tagline: "Shoot first. Sightsee later."

Rent it. Rent it now.

Or buy it.

Or rent it then buy it.

Either way, see it.

Unless you can't abide the sight of blood.

Then maybe not.

Maybe just listen to it, because the writing is brilliant.

Martin McDonagh, making his directorial debut, also wrote the screenplay. I bow to him.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

'He's Just Not That Into You' ...


How did this film attract so much top-tier talent?

No, wait. That's not the first question that bears asking.

The first question that bears asking is: Who thought that the book was adaptable into a movie?

Because, um, it wasn't.

I just described it to a Facebook friend as "annoying" and "contrived." That about sums it up. If ever there was a movie that could have wrapped itself up in 90 minutes, this is it. Yet somehow, it manages to be annoying and contrived for more than two hours.

Kodachrome ...

I have 20 rolls of Kodachrome if any photographers out there are looking for a stash to shoot without getting raked over the coals by retailers who are suddenly charging a mint for the stuff. You can have all 20 rolls for $200, exactly what I paid for it.

Expiration dates are 08/2010 and 09/2010, FYI.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Just Because It Made Me Laugh Out Loud ...

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Lip Service ...

Sleep is fickle.

Lately and for many months, I've gotten into the bad habit of allowing myself to fall asleep on the couch. When I rouse myself and head to bed, I often find myself wide awake, staring at the ceiling, trying to sleep but having little success.

The other night, lying there, I started to think about the men I've kissed.

Now, I have no idea if the handful of men I've dated read my blog, and of course I won't use their names. I don't want to offend anyone. But some kissing practices simply must be stopped. This post is just my way of doing my small part of behalf of womankind to end our collective liplock suffering.

The thing is, kissing is fundamental. Some people's lips simply seem to fit together, others don't. Kissing, in that way, is an early indicator of compatibility.

The following categories are presented in no particular order. That said, any man who may recognize himself herein should not despair. Women, very often, are willing teachers. Which isn't to say that there aren't women out there who are bad kissers. I'm sure there are. But I've never kissed another woman, so this post is about men.

The Static Tongue — Why, yes, you do have a tongue in your mouth. What's that, you say? You'd like to use it as part of your kissing technique? OK. The key, then, becomes to use it. Actively. Simply sticking your tongue out of your mouth (speaking collectively here) and into ours doesn't leave us with many options now, does it? What are we supposed to do with it once it arrives?

The Slobberer — Swallow first, please. No, we don't want to kiss cottonmouths, but we don't need all your saliva. We have our own, thanks.

The "ChapStick? What's ChapStick?" — You know how you love kissing someone with really soft lips? So do we.

The Too-Much-Mouth — Gentlemen. Please. Let us do something. When you (again, speaking collectively here) put your entire mouth over ours, it ceases to be kissing. It becomes CPR. The following graphical depiction (from is exaggerated, but also amusing (to those of us who have been on the receiving end of such treatment):

Ladies, others you'd like to add?

Men, you're welcome to share your peeves in the comments, too, of course.

'New In Town' ...

Gee, I wonder if the exacting would-be executive from sun-and-sea Miami and the widower union rep who's moved to the frozen fields of Minnesota will wind up together?

And I wonder if the screenwriter was consuming a lot of Snack Pack whilst pounding out this script and therein found the inspiration to make tapioca a plot point?

And I wonder why Renee Zellweger squints so much?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Briefly ...

This is a fun bit o' news for those who've read The Girls From Ames: The other day, on the spur of the moment, I invited my friend Jeff, author of The Girls From Ames, and his wife, Sherry, to join my 4th of July festivities. Later that afternoon, he called to catch up – he'd been busy polishing the manuscript for Sully's book – and asked, "Guess where I'll be on the 4th?"


"Grand marshal of the parade in Ames, Iowa."

I LOVE that!

"They asked me if I wanted a convertible or a pickup truck. I went with the pickup truck," he said.

"Sure," I replied. "It's more Ames-esque. Convertibles are too politician-y."

"Or too astronaut-y," he said, which made me chuckle.