Friday, February 27, 2004

What's in store . . .
Ok, so the Cynical Rantings Store has been up for about a week. In that week, I've had several product redesigns, and I've added more stuff. I think I've decided that things are pretty much set for now, although I keep getting ideas, so I can't promise that new things won't keep popping up.

So what's the point of the store? Well, sure, it's to make a little money. My two other jobs leave me severely under paid, and this writing thing is actually the thing I do that I like. I'd love for it to earn its keep a bit (without being able to force you people to pay for my blogging brilliance).

But mostly, it's another creative outlet for me. Knowing all my life that I can't draw to save my life, I've still decided to give 'art' another try. I've done all the designs myself. Sure, they would probably look 'better' or 'more professional' if I got someone who actually can draw to do these for me. But, it's really fun for me to do it myself. And, it adds a personal Tyrant touch to every piece of merchandise. Who cares if it looks like my cousin's four-year-old son drew it?

He didn't. I did. I swear.

So if you haven't been to the store, go check it out. You'll find lots of stuff, all based on things I've written here. And if you need a reminder that, say, squirrels don't belong in your house, well, then buy a frisbee.

It'll make us both happy.


Thursday, February 26, 2004

Can't quite figure out what to say.
I saw The Passion of The Christ last night. And before you quit reading this post for fear of a religious lecture or a spiritual recruiting session, just know that I still haven't quite figured out what to say about the movie. Everyone has heard something about this movie over the past few months, and I'm not going to stir up any big controversial discussion about it. Mostly because after seeing it last night, I just haven't been able to say much of anything. It's been an unintentional vow of silence. I'm just simply without words.

I will say that it's a powerful movie, although on what level or in what ways is hard for me to say right now. It's a beautiful film, well-made, superbly acted. The violence is astounding, even though I wouldn't rate it on a scale comparing it to Saving Private Ryan or something similar. However, there were times when I had to look away because it was personal to me to watch people beating the crap out of Jesus. It's brutal. And bloody. And probably very accurate. Necessary to depict it that way? You decide for yourself after seeing it.

When I first heard about the movie, I was highly skeptical and cynical about it. As usual. About Mel, about the subject matter, about another potential Omega Code or Left Behind movie to further cheese up the Christian faith. I couldn't see how a film made by a Hollywood superstar and spoken completely in Aramaic would possibly be a good thing. It seemed like hype, and only hype, with potential to be very, very bad. I intended to not see the film.

But, in recent weeks we've been overloaded in the media about this movie. So, I decided to indulge, reading and watching what I could to better understand the big deal about the movie. Through this, I developed an excitement about it, and have since been slightly obsessed with it. I was curious to see if it could work, if it could dispel all the doubts and controversy, if it could serve the purpose that Gibson had for it. And I was curious to see if Mel was really delivering what he said he is delivering, with all the humility and passion I've been reading about and watching on TV.

Could the man we've known from Lethal Weapon, Braveheart, and Conspiracy Theory really bring a true representation of Christ to the big screen? This was my question. Is Mel for real. Or he is just the next aging actor looking for another hook to get himself back in the spotlight, trying his hand with the Christian camp for support.

I was also adamantly opposed to seeing the movie on opening day, Ash Wednesday. Where I live, the Christian community is going all out to own this movie. Opening day promised to be a 'religion shoved down your throat' kind of day, anywhere near a showing of this movie. I really, strongly, fervently did not want to fight church groups and Christian artillery at the theater in order to view the movie. It's just a movie. I just want to see a movie without being bombarded with tracts and people trying to 'win me' on my way in or out of the theater. I've already been won. Step off.

But, my excitement got the better of me, and a group of friends and I went to see it last night. I vowed that anyone forcing a tract on me at the theater would get a punch in the face. Fortunately, no violence of this nature took place before or after the movie. No tracts came near me, no one tried to convert me. All punching was reserved on screen for almost the entire time of the actual movie.

I'm not sure what else I can say about it at this point, except to say it's worth a see, no matter your religious background. I'm still forming my thoughts about it. I can tell you it has affected me. Seriously. Although I'm not sure in what ways, yet. I won't say it's changed my life and that it will change yours, too. That's up to me, and up to you. It has made me think a lot about myself, my current state. It has helped me understand more about religious history and the time of Christ. It broke my heart. It disgusted me. It horrified me. It touched me. All that, and it's a story I already knew.

I'm not going to force anything on you, and I'm not going to give anything away about the film itself. I'm also not going to make any jokes about it, or offer any cynicism. And I can tell you that before the movie started, I had lots in mind to write about today, and all of it was of a cynical nature. As usual.

Now, it just doesn't seem appropriate to go about it that way.

Words are failing me. And that's probably the best affect the movie could have had on me.

Sometimes, it's best for me to leave words alone for awhile. Just to shut up and be affected.


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Last Check Standing
I pay for things with checks. Almost everything, in fact. It's an old habit, and one I am firmly committed to keeping. I refuse to switch to the check card.

Sure, many people still use checks to pay bills. Some do the online bill pay thing. But mailing checks is still fairly common. However, fewer people carry the checkbook to pay for purchases in stores. It's a dying artform. Sadly. Tragically.

I enjoy the check writing because it helps me keep track of my checking account. I automatically write it down in the check register, and then I don't have to worry about trying to remember it later. With the check card, I fear I would be swiping that thing left and right, never writing anything down, running out of money in my account without a care in the world.

I feel, too, that check writing is safer than the card. Anyone can use my card, just swipe and go. But trying to copy my arthritic signature that is way too long for a signature, in an attempt to forge my check? No way. I have bad handwriting for just such a purpose as to thwart check forgers.

I also find it hard to break old habits. I've done things this way for years. Changing my routine is a daunting idea. For one, my local bank that I've used for many years does not offer a check card with my type of account. When I started the account, check cards did not exist. I'm very happy with my bank. It's a free account. It's local. I'm loyal. So to even think about obtaining a check card would require me to research a new bank, or at least a new type of account with my bank, and then make a major change.

I fear change. I do not fear the checkbook.

I've grown accustomed to being a rare breed these days. Often, I'll pay for something at a store and notice that my check is the only check in the drawer. Cashiers seem surprised, almost bothered, when I pull out the checkbook. They often roll their eyes, as they have to look at my drivers license and run the check through the printer. Like that takes longer, or something. But, I am so good at writing checks, I'd challenge any of you check card-swiping people to a duel. It takes just as long for those keypad swiper thingies to process your card, while you type numbers on the keypad.

Just. As. Long.

So what if I can't write a check, you might ask. Well, there is cash in an emergency or non-check situation. I don't carry much cash, for good reason. I also don't always carry my checkbook, for good reason. But if I can't pay for it with a check, and I don't have the cash, I just don't need it. It's the rule.

Over the weekend, I ran some errands. At my first stop of the day, I noticed a woman at the register next to me. As I pulled out my checkbook and filled out my check for the purchase, she did the same. I almost could not hide my excitement! She wrote a check! I'm not the last one!

So you see, I am not competely the last check standing. Don't think I'm so strange to insist on the checkbook.

But I will make sure that I am the last check standing, if it comes to that.

Long live checks.


What's in a name?
Apparently, whatever name you want. Here on American Idol 3, contestants seem to think changing their last names will somehow help their singing.

Take, for example, Leah. All we've heard from her is how Bulgarian she is. Her parents were famous singing people there in Bulgaria. She is all about being Bulgarian. So what does she do? We see her last night with the brand new last name of LaBelle, rather than her Bulgarian name of Vladowksi. Is it just me or does she not look like a LaBelle?

But whatever this name thing is, Group 3 performed last night and it was MUCH better than Group 2 last week. In fact, I think we would all be much better off to pretend Group 2 never even happened. Can we do that?

So, everyone sang. Yoder is Clay Aiken all over again. The end of his canned promo caught him saying that he is nothing like Clay. But didn't Clay sing "In the Still of the Night" last season, almost exactly like Yoder sang it last night? I swear he did.

I'm not sure what it is about the little guy, but I like Jon Peter, the pen salesman. He's not the best singer, but I like his weird voice and his personality. He won't win. But I like him (as does my Alliance co-hort. we may have to duel over him, or flip a coin for one of his brothers and hope they are as cool as J.P.).

Jonah sank. Bad.

Elizabeth is annoying. And oddly shaped for a dancer.

And then, as if from nowhere, comes LaToya. Before she went on stage, I tried to remember if I remembered her at all. I didn't. But then she blew everyone away with "All By Myself". Where did that come from? It was cool.

I predict the winners from last night will be Leah Labelle and LaToya London. But before they make the announcement tonight, they will switch last names: Leah London and LaToya Labelle. That makes more sense anyway.

The runner up will probably be Amy Adams. But that name won't get her past this round. If she's smart, she'll steal Leah's old name and become Amy Vladowski. Now that's the name of an Idol.

If they all change names each week, how will we know who wins?

In other news, this guy should change his name now. Way to go, Donnie. He hasn't even performed, yet he's already revived the spirit of Trenyce and Cory from the previous season. Will these Idol contestants never learn to stop getting arrested if you want to win the show?

And in still other news, I dreamed last night that Ryan Seacrest asked me out. Should I say yes? He seemed to really like me.

Now to America's Next Top Model, my Alliance co-hort best sums up what I had to say. Although last night the shots of Janice Dickinson seemed to me more like that of a really ugly drag queen. But that she could be a cyborg is also a very real possibility.

Anyway, my Alliance co-hort and I are in like spirit and sentiment about last night's episode, including the return of Catie's spirit making everyone cry as though she never left. The exception in our like spirit is the removal of Camille issue that is becoming a problem. If Shandi or Yoanna go before Camille does, I will be doing everything I can to put my Alliance influence towards the destruction of Tyra's new singing career. Yes, you heard me. She sings now.

Maybe I will change my name to Tyra. My motto, as we know, is that if Tyra can do it, so can I. By changing my name to Tyra, I feel confident my new music video will be out in about a week.


Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Waiting in the worst line ever.
Yesterday at the post office, I waited in line. As usual. It was a line of people waiting to mail stuff. And as usual, there was only one Post Office worker person there to mail stuff for us.

So, we waited.

One by one, she helped the people in line. Mind you, we waited. In line.

One lady decided to strike up a conversation with the one Post Office worker person. She needed a money order, which took only a minute or so to process. Then she just stood there, remarking at how most post offices at lunch are packed full of people, but this one isn't especially busy at the moment. She asked the Post Office worker person if this post office ever gets busier. Those of us still waiting in line then heard a commentary on the busy seasons of this particular post office.

The lady finally gave the conversation a rest and left. Only moments before I was about to throw a fit right there on the floor, due to waiting in line at the post office.

We all moved up one place in line.

The lady right in front of me stepped up for her turn with the Post Office worker person. She needed a book of stamps. This was good. It would be my turn soon.

But, this lady didn't want just any book of stamps. She wanted a specific design. And she would settle for nothing less. So the Post Office worker person had to go from empty worker station to empty worker station, hunting down this specific design of stamps. She called out other designs, but to no avail.

This lady had to have the design she came to get.

We all waited in line, watching the stamp hunt before us.

Eventually the Post Office worker person ran out of places to look up front. She offered to go to the back and look back there. I knew that if she did that, she might never return. I prepared myself to throw a fit on the floor . . .

But, the lady suddenly decided not to make the Post Office worker person go to the back to look for this non-existent design of stamps. So . . .

she bought one stamp.

One stamp!

I stood in line behind a lady who bought ONE STAMP!!

She then put the stamp on her envelope, and walked outside the lobby to put the mail in the slot . . . which is right next to the machine that spits out one stamp at a time.

My patience was violated yesterday.

Not good. . .


visit The Store of The Tyrant, where prices are already slashed and new designs appear without warning . . .

Monday, February 23, 2004

New Tea
This morning I am drinking new tea. I have a cup of tea almost every morning at work, in lieu of coffee. I've finally made it through almost all of my stash of Green Chai Tea. So this week has called for new tea.

Instead of buying the same tea, I bought a different flavor: English Breakfast Black Tea. I don't know why I chose this particular tea, except that it sounded interesting. Almost daring.

But, I'm so far puzzled with this tea. It's the same brand of tea, so one would think there would be similarities in consistency between flavors of tea. The Green Chai Tea looked, smelled, and tasted like a Green Chai Tea should taste. It comes in a green box. The color of the actual tea is a light green-ish color. And it has a wonderful herbal taste to it. Green Chai Tea. It is what it says it is.

This English Breakfast Black Tea, however, is nothing like the Green Chai Tea. It comes in a red box. Being black tea, one would think it should come in a dark black box, since the outside of the box boasts 100% natural assorted black teas. With more than one black tea in every tea bag, this box should be the blackest of black boxes.

As for the tea itself, after reading the box and just by name alone, I would expect to be drinking something roughly the color of tar. Or asphalt. Or charcoal. Black. Give me black tea. Instead, the tea itself is also a shade of red. I'm beginning to wonder what is so black about my Black Tea.

And, as advertised on the box, I'm expecting breakfast. English Breakfast Black Tea. Am I wrong to anticipate this tea is also accompanied by, say, an English Muffin? A scone, perhaps? Do the English merely drink this tea for breakfast? Breakfast is not breakfast if it is only liquid. This tea does not taste like any breakfast I've ever had. Not even cereal. But according to this box, I should drink this tea as breakfast and be full, like I just had eggs and bacon and waffles.

I've concluded this box of English Breakfast Black Tea is full of empty promises.

But, it's really good tea. Quite tasty.

I chose well.


visit The Store of The Tyrant and buy stuff

Lightning. Twice. Same Spot.
They say lightning doesn't strike twice in the same spot. But I'm here to tell you it does. In the form of Girl Scouts.

Last year I had this encounter with Girl Scout Cookies. This past weekend, they were out again, in the same exact spot where they struck last year. It was creepy. Almost. But this year I was strangely in the mood for Girl Scout cookies.

Of course, these cookies were the last thing on my mind when I left the house Saturday. I didn't even realize it was Cookie Season again. I was just out to run some errands. But I eventually found myself near the card store where they attacked me last year, and there they were again. Just like last year. Everywhere. Making people want to buy cookies.

I didn't need to go to the card store, but I did need to go to another store in the same parking lot. I was tempted to go to the card store just to buy some cookies, but then again, I was frightened. I'd survived last year's tangle with the Girl Scouts, being rewarded with a box of Samoas that didn't last long enough. This year, the challenge presented itself again. And I already had a taste for the cookies.

I made up my mind. The lure of the cookie was too great. I would buy some cookies. . .

. . . after I go to the other store. I figured spending some time in the bookstore would help me clear my head about the Girl Scouts. By the time I finished there, I would know without a doubt if I should venture over to the card store for the cookies. And I would have worked up the courage to face them head on.

I parked by the bookstore, looked one last time across the parking lot at the herd of Girl Scouts (making sure they were still there and didn't realize I was coming), took a deep breath, and entered the bookstore through the Girl-Scout-free entrance. It was peaceful. No boxes of cookies flying about. I could think clearly in here, then make my way across the parking lot for a cookie purchase when I was good and ready for it.

I spent some time wandering through the bookstore, found the book I needed, and proceeded to the checkout station to pay for the book. I was feeling good.

Then I stepped outside, into the sunshine. What a nice day . . .

"HI! Would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies? They're only three dollars a box."

What the??? Had I exited the bookstore to find myself across the parking lot in front of the card store? No way. That's impossible!

I looked down to see a short girl in Girl Scout uniform, wielding boxes of cookies, peering back up at me with a hopeful smile. Where did she come from? They've been tracking me ever since I entered the parking lot! They knew it was me! They've hunted me down! The fear that had left while I was in the bookstore suddenly returned.

I looked over and saw several more Girl Scouts, a parent or two (including a dad), and a table full of many boxes of cookies.

Are you kidding me???

During the twenty minutes that I was in the bookstore, another wave of Girl Scouts had set up shop in front of the bookstore, as if from nowhere. I went in- no Girl Scouts. I come out- Girl Scouts with cookies. It was an ambush! Once again, I couldn't escape.

This killed my plan to make my way across the parking lot and buy cookies on my own terms. I was trying to avoid being forced into a cookie-buying escape route. Why did I have to come to this shopping center on this day?? Will I never learn??

The kid with the cookies was still staring at me, practically loading boxes of cookies into my book bag and foraging in my purse for cash. Then, the dad started talking to me. He smiled and said something dad-ish about how they only have a few boxes left, referring to the overly-full table of cookies they had just set up. It was a dad-scout-cookie joke. And it was the last straw.

I smiled and said I would gladly take two boxes of Samoas. I handed over six dollars, and received two tiny boxes of my coveted Samoas in return. The whole group smiled at me and wished me a good day. I think I was their first purchase of the day. I smiled back at them, then left and made my way to the Jeep.

With cookies.

At least it saved me a trip across the parking lot to a store I didn't need to visit.

But next year, I vow to do this Girl Scout cookie thing on my terms . . .

Do you think two boxes of Samoas will last that long?


visit The Store of The Tyrant and buy stuff

Friday, February 20, 2004

Bucking the System
For today's office cake party, I completely broke all the rules. With so many cake parties here, I have to keep trying new things, just to survive.

Today, I had ice cream only. No cake. Just ice cream.

It confused everyone. Freaked them out.

How can you just want ice cream? You might as well have cake with your ice cream. Have some cake! Are you sure you just want ice cream?

I didn't even want the ice cream.

I just did it to buck the system. I refuse to be force-fed cake any longer.


PS: Be sure to check out Cake-Party-Related items, and other great Tyrant Gear at the new highly unanticipated Cynical Rantings Store. I even have a logo now.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Tyrant Gear
It's here.

Not that you've been expecting or waiting for it. But it's here, nonetheless.

So after a year of this blog thing, I've decided I'd like some compensation for the quality writing I bestow upon you people almost daily. No, I am not going to make you pay to come here.

I have, however, opened a store, chock full of Tyrant Gear. Stuff you can buy, which in turns puts a wee bit of money in my pocket. It only contains a few items, and I doubt any of them will be hopping off the shelves in quantities large enough to support my weekly sandwich habit. But, it's fun for me.

If you like the blog and want to spread the word about it, check out the shop. I created all the 'artwork' myself, so if it's not aesthetically pleasing, keep in mind that I have little to no artistic capabilities whatsoever. I've taken the names of some of my postings here and incorporated them into the 'designs'. I think it's daringly creative. I hope you do, too. I'll be adding more stuff gradually. Or scrapping the whole idea as I see fit.

If anyone actually buys anything, let me know how it goes for you. With the ordering and the shipping and the customer satisfaction and whatnot. I'm still working out some quirks.

Tell your friend. Or friends.

Not about the quirks. About the store.


It has to get better
Really. Upcoming Groups 3 and 4 on American Idol HAVE to get better. Because the representatives from Group 2 make me want to quit this whole American Idol thing alltogether.

It's crazy talk, I know. But Group 2 was that bad.

So, the results this week leave us with Matthew and Camile. Camile was no surprise to me, although I'm just not all that excited about her. Matthew was a bit of a surprise, and I can only figure he made it through because America likes him, and because Lisa is annoying. Matthew will need to sing better to impress me into believing he is worthy of being in the competition, but I do like the guy.

Elsewhere in reality TV, the Alliance, despite one third of us being somewhat MIA lately, has finally inflicted our power onto America's Next Top Model. Catie was booted from the show. And not only was Catie sent packing, which she did with a lot of crying and complaining and whining, but Camille (not to be confused with AI Camile) was the other one close to be booted from the show. It came down to Catie and Camille, and Catie cried her way out of our hearts and onto a bus home.

Never have I seen more crying in one show of any show on television than was present in this week's ANTM. I request no more crying for the rest of the season. I can't take any more.

Next week, we hope to finish Camille's inevitable walk of shame out the door, sending her on her way. No one likes her. All of the judges hate her. The Alliance hates her. She needs to go.

And Group 3 of American Idol will hopefully present us with something better than Group 2 delivered this week.

Oh, please. Let it be better . . .


Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I'm Relevant
If you've never visited the Relevant Online site, take a second a go there. It's a great site.

What is especially great about it today is that they published an article written . . . by me.

You may notice it's an article originally found here on my blog. But it's much, much prettier on their site, with the graphic and all.

The content on the site is made up entirely of people who send stuff in (like me). So if you are a writer, or you want to be a writer, or you have a blog, or you just like to write, check out their guidelines section and send them something.

If I can be relevant, you can, too.


Bring Back Group One
After the eight people in Group Two of American Idol tortured us last night with their 'singing', I came to a startling and disappointing realization: There are six people left from Group One that are all better than the eight people we saw last night in Group Two, yet two people from Group Two will definitely get to move on to the next round, and the six better-yet-rejected Group One people will have to live with that for the rest of their lives.

It's so unfair.

No one from Group Two deserves to be in the Final 12. They were all horrible. Especially Jesus. (I never thought I'd hear myself say that)

I hate Group Two.

If it were up to me, for personality points alone, I would choose Matthew Rogers. I was severely saddened that his performance wasn't better, because I like him.

Kara Master needs to go the way of Julia Demato from last season, only sooner and with less fanfare, especially since Simon said she was just like Julia Demato. As though that was a good thing. I couldn't get the comparison out of my head as Kara sang last night, and I fear Julia has returned cleverly disguised as 'Kara'. America, please make her go away. NOW.

I predict we will be stuck with Lisa "I Don't Have to Lose Weight" Leuschner, and Camile "I Lost the Hip-Hop" Velasco. The third possibility is Marisa "I've Killed the" Joy.

But we would be better off to erase Group Two from our memories, and add two more contestants from Group One.

Thank goodness for the Wild Card round.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Non-Guilty Pleasure
One of my favorite things to do is to make a really, really big plate of really, really good food for dinner. Then take my food to a strategic spot in the living room, allowing for a clear view of the tv, and commence to eat the food while watching Survivor.

I know they can't see me, and therefore this is not a form of torture to them. This fact technically relieves me of being considered a mean person.

But there is something really, really satisfying about eating a large amount of good food while watching a group of people being really, really hungry on tv. Not sad, poor, hungry people. That would be mean. But money chasing, manipulating, fame-seeking hungry people.

They put themselves in that situation. I just choose to eat through their hunger.


Monday, February 16, 2004

White. Wet. Cold. Slushy. Um . . . stuff.
This is commonly known as snow. But here in Texas, we don't see enough of it to immediately recognize it as 'snow' when we wake one morning to a Winter Wonderland.

Usually when the weather people tell us it's going to snow the next day, there is a 75% chance the next day will be sunny and warmer than usual. Or, we get ice. Just ice. Not snow. Slippery, ugly, dangerous, stupid ice.

So on Friday when the weather people predicted a 'Winter Storm' bringing snow, I chose not to completely freak out and prepare for the worst. I did, however, loosely plan for a day at my home, snow or no snow.

I rented some DVDs. That was the extent of my planning.

When I awoke Saturday morning and looked outside my window, I saw that my yard was covered with white stuff. Lots and lots of white stuff. And it was still falling from the sky. Could that actually be snow? Real, live snow?

It was. Several inches of it. Good thing I planned for it!

I opened all of my blinds to let the view of snowy goodness into the house. It was like I'd awakened in some place other than Texas. Some arctic, frozen, igloo-ey place. Everything was covered in snow: ground, streets, sidewalks, trees, cars, patio tables. Everthing. And it was sticking. Piling up. This was real snow!

Well, this changed the plan for the day considerably. The DVDs would have to wait. Gazing out my front window, I discovered the priority for the day: build a bigger snowman than the one the kid built next door.

I can't let him win.

I created a mental list of things required of a snow day. These are things I save up for days like this. And since this would likely be the only snow day of the year, my day was suddenly very busy with many things to do:

1. Make and drink a large pot of coffee.
I usually sit in my chair on Saturday mornings and drink a cup of coffee. On this day, since I planned to not leave the house all day, I decided to indulge and drink two cups of coffee. To combat the chilling effects of the snow falling outside. I sat and watched the snow fall, with my coffee.

2. Watch the news for any important weather announcements.
This is always critical in a 'snow storm'. I watched the news on Saturday to see coverage of Winter Blast 2004. They showed kids playing in the snow, snowmen, snowball fights, and general news that the snowfall would continue until noon. There seemed to be nothing dangerous about it. The news people seemed to be having a great time reporting on the snow conditions. Even still, it's good to keep informed about these things, in a near-blizzard situation.

3. Eat something warm for breakfast.
Instead of my usual Saturday morning bagel, I toyed with the idea of making pancakes. This is always a good snow-weather breakfast. However, I went with the best warm breakfast known to man: Cream of Wheat. And not the instant kind. I made it the long way. The three-minute way. Just like Grandma used to make. Although hers had lots of lumps in it. My dad said it wasn't supposed to have lumps in it. But I liked it that way. I can't ever make it do that. But it was still good on my snow day.

4. Bundle up for outdoor activities.
I lived in Colorado for several years. And I took two trips to Russia in the dead of winter. I've seen and experienced some serious cold. Therefore, I have all the appropriate gear for being out in the snow. Wicking long johns, special boots, snow coat, Gortex gloves, thermal wicking socks, and a snow hat. I located all of these items and put them on to prepare for some time in the snow. Sure, the neighbor kids were out in jeans and a sweatshirt, tempting the likes of hypothermia and frost bite. But I know better. You can't mess with cold in such a careless way. I would not be the one person to suffer from hypothermia in Texas in February.

5. Take pictures.
Since snow happens maybe once a year in Texas, it is important to capture the event on film. I hadn't seen snow like this even while I was Colorado for this past Christmas. So, I grabbed the camera to immortalize the Winter Storm on film. It was really beautiful, actually. I was careful to take pictures of everything before I ruined the smooth surfaces with footprints. I knew tomorrow it would all be gone and melted. So I took pictures like I'd never seen snow before.

6. Commence snow activities.
When we were kids growing up in Colorado, there was much to do when there was snow on the ground: Sledding, snow angels, snowmen, snow forts, snowball fights. I would need to cram all of these activities into one day, this day of Winter Blast. But since I didn't have a sled, or anyone handy to at which to throw a snowball, and since there was probably not enough snow to build both a fort and a snowman, I chose to stick with my snowman plan. I had to out-snowman the neighbor kid.

7. Build the man of snow.
It had been a long time since I'd built a snowman. And this particular snowman needed to be the best snowman on my street. It's a personal commitment to excellence with everything I do that is on display at my house. Nevermind that I am a grown-up, playing in the snow. It had to be done. The challenge had been extended by the kid next door. I had to answer with a better snowman.

I began moving snow around in the yard, unsure of the best place for the snowman. And not quite confident about how to start. Eventually I buckled down and got serious. Who cares if the neighbors are in their warm houses, watching the crazy lady in the snow gear build a snowman in her yard?? When I was finished, they would want a snowman just like mine. You just wait.

Soon, the bottom of the snowman took shape and I moved on to the middle section. This was going to be the greatest snowman ever built. Impeccably proportioned, standing tall. It was artwork, in the form of snow. People would come for miles to see the man of snow in my yard.

If I build it, they will come.

I soon had the snow head in place, and finished shaping the body of the snowman. The snow was perfect for the building of a snowman. It stuck and held its shape. The snowman was tall, but not too tall. Perfectly shaped, yet appropriately imperfect. After all, I didn't want to make the neighbor kid cry because my snowman was so much better than his. I just wanted him to see what a real snowman should look like. So he can improve on his performance for next year's snow.

For finishing touches, I gave my snowman two eyes and a nose, made from shiny black rocks I had on hand. His mouth was two twigs bent into a half-smile. A smirk, if you will. I located two longer twigs for his arms. And I finished him off with a hat and a scarf that seemed to fit his personality. My little snow dude was complete.

All that was left was his name. He was a Chanandler Bong if I ever saw one. I named him so.

8. Take more pictures.
I grabbed the camera again to capture Chanandler on film. I caught all of his sides and poses, showing his playfulness, yet his ability to stand perfectly still and wow the neighbors. I was so proud of my little snow dude.

He was definitely the best snow dude on the street. And not only because the neighbors had already knocked over their snowdudes from earlier in the day.

9. Thaw out.
I went inside, removed my snow gear, returned to Phase Four flannel wear, and settled in with some hot chocolate to admire my work. At first I feared that Chanandler would be picked on by others in the neighborhood. But as I kept a watchful eye out the window, the neighborhood seemed at peace with my snowdude. He just watched the cars go by, smirking with his knowing smirk.

Such a good snowboy.

10. Watch DVDs.
All good snowdays should involve watching DVDs on the couch, under a warm blanket. Technically, the streets were safe enough for travel. Nothing was icy. But to truly enjoy a snow day, one must pretend that one cannot leave the house. I was snowed in. The Winter Blast forced me to be homebound all day.

I loved it.

11. Watch the snow begin to melt.
In Texas, the snow we do get doesn't last long. By the end of the snow day, the snow was beginning to melt. The next day, it was almost completely gone. Including Chanandler the Snowdude. He held on for as long as he could, but eventually he melted over backwards and was nothing more than a heap of snow.

I miss him. He was the only man I had for Valentine's Day.

But it was a remarkably good Valentine's Day.

And the only thing that would have made it better was if it had taken place on Friday, instead of Saturday, so I would have gotten a free day off from work.

Maybe next year when it snows again.


Friday, February 13, 2004

364 Days of Blog
Happy Blogentine Day.

One year ago tomorrow, the blog of Cynical Rantings began, and the Cynical Tyrant first emerged. I'm not sure why I chose Valentine's Day last year to begin blogging. But since V-Day is generally dead to me, it can now forevermore mark the anniversary of my blog. As I rarely get to the blog on the weekends, I am commemorating the milestone today, a day early. Come and share with me in this momentous occasion.

Aaah, what a blog year it has been. From the first post (yikes), testing my blog chops, not knowing who I was writing to, if anyone at all- it's been a valuable, fun, and interesting experience. I've come a long way from the first post. I've learned a lot from the blog. I've successfully written at least something, almost everyday, for a year.

That was my goal.

In my first year of blog-related goodness, I've received fans and fan mail, I've had over 13,000 visits from people traveling here for the purpose of reading stuff, I wrote a novel, and I've been nominated for a Bloggie Award.

These are very cool perks that happened in addition to my goal.

I could go on, getting cheesy and sentimental and philosophical about the blog. But, the blog knows what it means to me. We share a certain degree of intimacy. No need to embarrass it in public. . .

But, to conclude my toast to my blog, there have been highs, as well as lows. Pulitzer Prize worthy entries, as well as entries probably better left unwritten. There's plenty to justify a Best Of list (see the masterpieces listed to the right of the page), as well as more than enough to compile a lengthy Worst Of list (I prefer not to draw attention to those). Through it all, I've discovered that I simply love to write, whether it's the best or the worst, whether it's funny or sad, or something situated perfectly in between.

Alltogether, the 364 Days of Blog have been worthwhile, creatively liberating, educational, and very, very cool.

So tomorrow I kick off another Year of Blog, looking forward to blogging here as long as is humanly possible.

Yay blog.


Thursday, February 12, 2004

These Kids Can Actually Sing
Make a note of this, people. After Group 1 of the American Idol hopefuls, I actually don't hate anyone in that group. I was not overly annoyed at any of the first eight contestants. In fact, I found it hard to pick only two that would be obvious to go onto the next round.

People, this is a first. I usually hate at least seven of the eight. I'm shocked and awed that we may have a tough competition this year. This is a very good thing.

I had to watch both of this week's AIs last night: the Tuesday night show from tape delay, followed immediately by the results show, live. I actually enjoyed this better because I could watch the performances, and then not have to deal with the waiting for a whole day before the results of who moves on to the next round. However, this takes me completely out of the voting. But, as I am more influencial as a part of the Blog Alliance, my voting is a moot point anyway. The Alliance has ultimate control.

Granted, not all of the performances were without flaw or some annoyance factors. My least favorite of the first eight was Marque, first because his name is Mark, but he prefers to be fancy and spell it with a 'q'. Plus, he sang "Hero". It was a decent performance, but I hate that song.

On second thought, my absolute least favorite was Ashley. She was boring, too pink, and I just wasn't feelin' her, as Randy would say. She carried her tune and didn't hurt my ears. But, any contestants that feel the need to talk back to the judges, hoping to make a good case for themselves, just annoy me. Shut up and smile, then walk away.

I was definitely impressed with young Diana, the youngest of all 32 remaining contestants, and first to perform Tuesday night. I would never know she is so young, based on her performance. And, I have a soft spot for "I've got the Music in Me." Because much like Diana, I too, have the music in me.

And then, there was Fantasia. I extended a challenge to all of the contestants on the T.I.R.E. (Targeted Idols for Removal and Evacuation) List. The challenge is for those on this hit list to impress me enough that I will justify removing them from the list. My main area of concern with Fantasia is that her name is Fantasia. I just find it difficult to support people named after Disney movies in a competition that is serious. Can I live in a world where my children may one day grow up and say they want to be just like Fantasia, the world famous singer? But, after Fantasia's performance, she is so far my favorite in the competition, overall. If for no other reason than the fact that the world could use a better Macy Gray than Macy Gray.

My picks out of Group 1 after Tuesday were Diana and Fantasia, and on Wednesday we were rewarded with the first two finalists chosen: Fantasia and Diana.

The Alliance is strong this year.

Next week is Group 2, the battle of GI Jane versus the two Jesuses, and a Rose Bowl winner who needs to quit talking about winning the Rose Bowl. I like him. He needs to chill on the Rose Bowl.

Regarding the Alliance and America's Next Top Model, somehow Catie has managed to last another week. And the one to go this week wasn't even Camille, who would be the next obvious choice. Clearly, we are having some communication issues in this area.

But upon evaluation of the situation, I think the person to blame here is Janice Dickinson, who has turned into even more of a super-psycho judge this year. She is everywhere, and inflicting too much influence on the show. Obviously she has infiltrated the mind of Tyra Banks, subconsciously manipulating Tyra into giving her more screen time. When Janice was the 'mystery interviewer' for this week's charisma challenge, the extreme close-up shot of her smiling face almost caused me to fall out of my chair. It was frightening. I sense that she is getting in the way of Alliance communications with the show, and is ruining our efforts to remove Catie from power. We will have to somehow overcome The Janice.

Next week, however, may be Catie's week. The previews showed more dangling from ropes above the ground, which caused her to freak out last time. Maybe she will just lose the will to model, and disappear on her own.

My favorites are Yoanna and Shandi. I have a heart for the underdog, and I will do everything in my power to help them succeed as models. Until they begin to annoy me. Then, they're out.

Once again, the Alliance has spoken.


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Phashion Phases
I go through many phases in my life. A variety of shifts and changes, moods and attitudes. Some are monumental life-changing phases, others are just the phase that I'm in for awhile, until the next phase comes along.

But the most important phases for me are the phases of . . . my clothing. It's a four-tiered hierarchy, learned from my father, who is a slave to no fashion except the fashion of practicality and functionality. It is vital to my survival in the land of the sane. It's simple, but valuable beyond words to the productivity of my day to day existence.

For me, it goes something like this:

Phase 1- Workwear, day wear, business attire, possibly evening wear. Anything worn as a professional, on the job, or to an event. During the week, this is what I wear most often. When in Phase 1 attire, I'm presentable to the public, I look nice, I'm hip, fashionable, ready for the day. These are my good clothes. I feel good in them, most of the time. However, the drawback to Phase 1 attire is that it expires after approximately 8-9 hours of continuous wear. It is only good for being at work, or being out for a finite period of time. It then ceases to serve it's purpose, and must be removed at the earliest convenience and replaced with a subsequent Phase of clothing.

Phase 2 - Casual wear. This is the next stage in comfort after workwear. Jeans, casual pants, fitted t-shirts, sneakers, capri pants, and of course, cargo pants. Anything acceptable when hanging out with friends, going to a casual dinner, being out but not in a professional atmosphere. These are play clothes. This is what most friends see me wearing in social situations. It's relaxed, but still hip and fashionable. Acceptable with or without jewelry. Phase 2 is the most common and preferred choice for what to wear out of the house.

Phase 3 - This is where true comfort sets in. Sweatpants, knit pants, knit shorts, comfortable t-shirt, sweatshirt, socks, no shoes other than house shoes. This outfit does not impress anyone, except for the most comfort conscious. It's an intimate attire, seen only by those closest to you whom you are not afraid to show your less-glamorous side. These are extreme play clothes, including outfits for yardwork or general housework. Phase 3 often follows Phase 1 after a long day at work. When Phase 1 clothing expires, it is often desireable to skip Phase 2 and go directly to Phase 3 for an evening at home. This is my preferred Phase of clothing for a weekend with no plans. Almost any time I'm at home, you will find me in Phase 3. I look forward to Phase 3. I am a slave to comfort.

Phase 4 - This is the ultimate in comfort, summed up in one word: Pajamas. In Phase 4, you are ready for nothing other than climbing into bed and curling up for sleep. Your day is either completely over, or it has just begun. Flannel pjs, over-sized t-shirt, shorts for summer, no restrictive undergarments. Only your closest friends and loved ones ever see this Phase, and they only see it when they are also in Phase 4. It is acceptable to socialize in Phase 4 attire, but only when others are also in Phase 4 attire.

These Four Common Phases of Clothing are occassionally pre-empted by a fifth Phase: Phase 0. This is the formal phase- nice dresses, suits, high-heels, sparkly jewelry. Clothing for proper occassions, weddings, fancy parties, romantic occassions. It's a step above Phase 1, reserved only for emergencies of needing to look your absolute best for a brief period of time.

It is important to remember that these Phases do afford some flexibility. It is not necessary to follow the Phases in sequential order, meaning it is legal to skip one Phase to hasten the arrival of the next Phase. Also, some elements of each Phase can overlap between Phases, to a small degree, and usually in a Phase-forward manner (ie: depending on the person, elements of Phase 2 could be considered casual or comfortable enough for inclusion in Phase 3, and so forth). Although in some instances, particular articles of Phase 2 clothing can also be considered acceptable workwear for Phase 1 (ie: a borderline shirt that can either compliment a nice pair of workpants, or settle in with a comfortable pair of jeans for a casual dinner).

However, it is not acceptable to consider any elements of the highest Phases as appropriate for the lowest Phases (ie: flannel pajama pants are not acceptable in Phase 1 for business attire, house shoes from Phase 3 should not be worn with anything from Phase 0). And once you have entered a higher Phase for the day, it is rarely acceptable to retreat into a lower Phase until the twenty-four hour day has ended and a new Phase Cycle has begun (ie: once you've hit pajamas in Phase 4, it is rarely acceptable to backtrack to Phase 1 for a night out). Phase 4 signals a definite end to the day, and to activities away from home. A Phase Cycle begins when your alarm goes off to start your morning, and lasts until the next morning when your alarm goes off again.

It is also appropriate to announce your Phase, signaling to others where you are in your day. Especially when succumbing to Phase 4, it is important to let those around you know that you are heading for Phase 4, so that nothing else is excpected of you for the rest of the day.

The Four Phases of Clothing is not to be taken lightly. I share it with you so that you may better understand the fashion trends of the Tyrant, and so you may also adopt the ways of the Phases of Clothing, if you so desire.

It has changed my life immeasurably.

And comfortably.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Speaking of shirts that aren't quite right. . .

What the . . . whosit . . how can . . . what is . . . this ?

Notice the sweaters on the site ONLY look good with the gold spandex pants.

And no, I don't know her or support anything related to the site. I just needed the laugh today . . .
(I'm fairly certain the site is a joke. I'm not truly mean enough to laugh at that if it's serious)


Re-discovered Clothing
Sometimes I go in my closet and discover a shirt I haven't seen in awhile. It's like finding a new shirt. It's buried amongst shirts I wear all the time, yet for some reason, it's been awhile since I've worn this particular shirt.

I pull it out of the closet, excited at my find. I wonder why I haven't worn it in so long. It looks fine, from what I can see of it hanging on the hanger. In fact, it looks great. The outfit mentally forms in my head. I will wear this shirt to work tomorrow and it will be as though I have a brand new shirt. I'm ecstatic.

The next morning, I look forward to assembling my outfit for the day. I choose pants that match, and happily don the shirt that has been MIA for an indefinite period of time. I finish my morning routine, doing what I can to prepare myself for a long day at work. Hair in place, make-up mostly intact. Shoes, watch, jewelry- check. I make one last stop by the mirror to examine the finished product as I hurry out the door.


I'm not sure the shirt looks the way I pictured it looking with the whole ensemble. Did it always do that thing right there, and I just hadn't noticed it before? Am I supposed to wear different pants to make it look right? I can't remember. Something's not quite right.

Oh well. It's too late to change now. I'm sure it will be fine.

And by the time I get to work, I now clearly remember why I don't wear this shirt anymore.

I hate this shirt.


Monday, February 09, 2004

Night of a Thousand Bad Outfits
It's time for the Tyrant's Second Annual Grammy Review.

I love, love, love awards shows. Crazy in love. Almost as much as my love of reality TV. The Grammys certainly never disappoint when it comes to opportunities for snark. Last year, I gave a completely unbiased review of the event. This year, I'll do my best once again to give you the Grammys through the eyes of the Tyrant.

In year forty-six of the Grammys:

- The Artist Formerly Known As The Artist Formerly Known As Prince realizes that when no one can pronounce the symbol that is your name, people will stop trying and eventually not care about you anymore. Symbol names are annoying. But, apparently the best way to fix this problem is to reclaim your original name, have a guitar made in the shape of your Symbol, and re-appear at the Grammys to perform really bad covers of your own songs, with a frantically dancing Beyonce by your side. You should even go so far as to forget your own microphone so that you have to share Beyonce's mic with her. Then throw your non-Symbol guitar onto the stage in triumph at the end of the montage.

- When Ellen Degeneres rambles on too long about herself, it's best just to drown her out with Beatles clips in the background. Even when she continues to read from the teleprompter. Just drown her out. Eventually she won't be able to scream over the music.

- The Beatles were honored by morphing into Sting, Dave Matthews, Vince Gill, and one of The Neptunes. Nothing says 'Beatles' more than a country-twanged verse of a Beatles classic from Vince Gill. Yee-haw Beatles.

- The White Stripes, um, well, what was that? Does anybody else not understand a word that dude 'sang'? And what is with the tight red pants? For two people playing just two intruments, they were extremely frightening. The bright lights and furious guitar-ing left me unsure of where I was. But, that chick plays drums. And that's cool.

- Outkast did a great Von Trapp Family Singers impression. Did anyone else wonder where Andre 3000 was when Outkast was announced as winners of something, yet he was nowhere to be found for too many awkward minutes? Check that. I don't want to know.

- Justin Timberlake, as we all know, was so bad last week at the Super Bowl that he had to bring his mom with him this week to the Grammys. He should take her everywhere. He was fairly well behaved.

- If you are receiving a Lifetime Achievement award, or any award for being one of the cornerstones of music, you get two sentences from the teleprompter, and your mug on camera for two seconds. Please, don't come up on stage for your award. Remain in your seat. Whatever you do, you are not allowed to make a speech. We applaud you for making music what it is today so the freaks we currently know as 'musicians' can be famous and make lots of money. But by all means, stay in your seat where we can honor you without having to actually talk to, or touch you. And if you could give your seat back to the seat filler when we are done 'honoring' you, that would be great. Thanks for all you've done for the past fifty years.

- Justin Timberlake seems to wish he was the girl from the Black Eyed Peas. So much so, that he refuses to leave the stage after his own performance, tries to blend in as a superfluous Pea, sings her lines while she sings them, and reportedly tried to steal her short skirt before the show began. Fortunately, she had her wardrobe under control and functioning properly throughout the day, and thank goodness. No way Justin's legs would look as good in that skirt.

- Odd musical match-ups now take the place of good musical decisions. Someone thought the following pairings were a good idea:
=Prince and Beyonce (yep, I wasn't so crazy in love with that purple rain.)
=Sting and Sean Paul (rappin' Roxanne, it just isn't right.)
=The four dudes who butchered the Beatles tune (four genres of music that should never again collide.)
=Earth Wind and Fire with Outkast, and a side of George Clinton (double yikes)
=Chick Corea and Foo Fighters (in what bizarro world does this even begin to make sense?)
=Sarah McLachlan and Alison Krause's fiddle (sounded nice enough, but would have rocked more with the Soggy Bottom Boys added to the mix.)
=Richard Marx and Celine Dion (I'm just sayin', nice enough song, but mic checks are done for a reason. And when did Richard Marx emerge from his cave of not being cool anymore?)
Granted, not all of those were as bizarre as some of the others. But dude, if I was Alison Krause, I'd be ticked at having to play second fiddle to Sarah McLachlan.

- Alicia Keys wore her big blue prom dress. It was really nice in 1985.

- Sting wore knee socks, under what was quite possibly a dress. His cool factor just took a major hit.

- Celine Dion seems able to sponaneously generate a whole lot of hair on demand. Didn't she as recently as not so long ago, have really short hair? Amazing.

- By the end of the Funk All-Stars, there were literally 108,000 people on stage. If you were wearing something weird, you were required to be on stage, attempting to sing. Some people didn't know the words, but that didn't stop the funk. Samuel L. Jackson doesn't know how to funk, but even that didn't stop the funk. Never again should so much funk be attempted on one stage at one time. It was dangerous. We all love some Earth Wind and Fire, but at the rate they were going, it was doubtful it would never end. Thank goodness a prehistoric George Clinton needed to be returned to the museum before it closes at 9:00pm.

- Along with funk, came the year's hottest fashion trend- feathery leg warmers. Thank you, bass-playing Earth Wind and Fire dude. You and the Outkast back-up dancers have done us all a great fashion service. Please see Sting and bestow some feathery leg warmers upon him to cover the knee socks.

- Also ever fashion conscious, the Evanescence chick wow-ed us with her ability to make an entire dress out of black electrical tape. Amazingly, her wardrobe remained intact throughout the evening. Let's hear it for electrical tape, which will be flying off of the shelves of Home Depot in mass quantities and onto your teenage daughter, right about . . . now.

- Speaking of Evanescence, did anyone else notice they have one normal looking guy in the band? No tape, no long hair, no tattoos, no random cane, nice suit. That's a puzzler.

- Mary J. Blige made her dress of out Big Bird. Sorry, kids.

- Jason Alexander made a really lame joke about Jason Alexander Spears. Fortunately, I was distracted by the sparkly, overly-bejeweled goblets of Snoop Dog and that other dude. Sparkly . . .

- Again, Richard Marx? He won an award? What is going on?? Is he popular again? I swear it's not the 80's anymore. Is it?

- Continuing the great grand Grammy Honor to the Beatles, they were actually asked to come on stage for an award. However, the two departed Beatles could only send a wife and a Yoko. A touching moment, of course. And then the two living Beatles decided not to bother showing up to be honored. Next year, we should honor people who would actually be there to receive the honor. Someone like me, for instance. In fact, I'll put it on my calendar now.

- Marching band is cool again. As a former band nerd, I give props to Andre 3000 for incorporating a marching band into the most bizarre musical performance I've seen in quite sometime. A spaceship teepee, dancing squaws with Polaroid cameras, and a marching band. That was just cool. Take that, cheerleaders and football players.

- There is no doubt in my mind that it is impossible to wear too much plaid. Thank you, mohawked dude from No Doubt for reminding us that the only thing that goes with plaid is, in fact, a lot more plaid.

- The teleprompter-reading stylings of Matthew Perry and John Mayer were seriously hampered by John Mayer's inability to relax and play off of Matthew Perry's wit and charm. Dude, Chandler is funny! Stop looking so sad to be standing next to him.

- In an attempt to win the award for Most Inappropriate, while singing a song about being beautiful, Christina Aguilara sports the worst hairdo I've ever seen in my life, borrowing the hair straight from the head of what I can only assume was a neglected Sears mannequin that was attacked by a swarm of bees in a tornado. Then, in hopes of more inappropriate exposure in front of a national audience, she dons a dress that is almost completely missing the front, and then proceeds to make the most off-handed comment possible at the point in time that she discovers her boobs are about to pull a Janet. Someone get that girl a turtleneck, and shave her head. Save us all.

- Noticeably absence from the awards was Britney Spears, in what was quite possibly the first Britney-free day in the past 365 consecutive days. Also absent, Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. A major oversight, if you ask me.

Again, the Grammys delivered on an entertaining fourteen hours of television. Congrats to the winners. Condolences to the losers. Nice to see you, to the performers.

I'll see you again next year for another unbiased review. And I'd better be nominated for something. This 28-year streak of not nominating me for anything is, quite frankly, completely apalling.


Friday, February 06, 2004

A Heartbreaking Realization
Sometimes, we need to stop for a moment and examine our lives. Really take a snapshot of where we are, who we are, and what we're about. It's during these times that we may come to certain realizations about ourselves, things that are not pretty or attractive that have caused us to point a finger when we see it elsewhere. Things about ourselves that have gone on while we turned away, ignoring the things we don't like to see. Things that develop while we insist on seeing things another way.

It's ugly, and yet suddenly it's a part of us.

Taking a long look in the mirror is a tough thing to do. Really standing there, examining the image before us, looking at the brutal realism staring back at us.

I did that today. I bravely assessed what I saw in the mirror, and was rewarded with the disappointment of accepting the reality before me. As my eyes filled with tears at what I saw reflected back, I came to the heartbreaking realization that . . .

I have a mullet.

It's true. I have to finally admit it. My hair has gone so long without a haircut that it has essentially turned into an out-of-control mullet-esque 'do. I have to come to grips with this. It's hard. But, it's true.

However, there is a rational explanation for it. Once upon a time, I had really, really short hair. I mean, short. Gel-and-go kind of short. It was great. I never had to worry about a bad hair day. It was cute. I was cute. The whole thing was hip and edgy. And it took no time at all to fix. It was great.

Then, I let it grow a little bit. Still short, but long enough that I could run a hand through it, or put a clip in it. I still basically did gel-and-go, sometimes drying it with the hairdryer for a few minutes. At this stage, it at least looked like I did have hair, as opposed to the next closest thing to a shaved head. Still edgy and cute. I was hip.

Then, I decided (after much back and forth and failed attempts to let it grow) to actually let it grow for awhile. It was hard to fight the temptation to quit the hair-growing-out process, with all it's ugly stages. But essentially, I just made the decision to not go for haircuts every six weeks as usual. I didn't know what I wanted the hair to look like, but I decided it was time to let it grow a bit. Just a bit. But to be actual hair, long enough to put maybe . . . two clips in it. Sometimes.

My hair grows fast, and before long it was longer than it had been in a long time. Still short, comparatively speaking. Still not yet at my shoulders. But obviously growing. I could put two, even three clips in it if I wanted to. Tiny clips, but clips nonetheless. Not long enough to ponytail, but long enough to be considered flowing locks of hair. It catches in the wind now. This has started to scare me.

I hate taking time to do my hair. It still only takes five to ten minutes, but it requires effort now. I have to dry it with the hairdryer. Worse, I have to use a brush. And hairspray. I went two or three years without brushing my hair, because I didn't have any hair long enough to brush. It was great! Now, I have bad hair days when my hair doesn't 'do' right. I hate that. It's tempting to cut it all off again.

But, I'm trying to stick with it. It's now long enough so that I can begin to decide what I want the next 'do to be. It's in transition at this point in time. Not really anything. Just sort of there. On it's way to something better. Yet, still requiring nearly no effort to look fabulous. I hope.

The issue holding me accountable to refrain from cutting it prematurely again is that my hairdresser is perpetually booked solid. She only works a few days a week, and has been the only person to cut my hair in the last twelve years. This is not a relationship I can break. She knows my hair. So when I forget to call for an appointment, it's usually several weeks before I can get in. Consequently, my hair has gone too long without at least a trim. Months, in fact.

And it has, in fact, become a mullet. I just have to admit it, embarrassing as it is.

An unintentional mullet, mind you. As no person in their right mind would purposely prefer a mullet, thinking it looks good.

But for the next two weeks, until I can have my appointment for a haircut, I will be sporting the unintentional mullet. With two or more clips to hide it as best I can.

Payback, I'm sure, for all the mullets I've made fun of throughout the years.


Thursday, February 05, 2004

The Most Powerful Alliance in the World
Don't ever doubt the Blog Alliance. We will one day rule the world.

I offer as proof last night's timely departure of Scooter Girl from American Idol. The Alliance simply typed it, and it was done. The Alliance is ecstatic at these results. Never have we seen results so quickly. This can only lead to the conclusion that we are growing in strength and power, soon to be unstop-able.

We have no doubt that Catie from America's Next Top Model will follow suit with removal next week.

Now that we are free from the terror of Scooter Girl, we must choose our next victim in the quest for the third American Idol. We are now at the point in the competition where there are 32 finalists. Next week, we begin the groups of eight, at which time we will begin to see who is truly, truly, truly annoying.

In the early stages of the season still, and without knowing the true annoyance factor for each contestant, I offer up the following suggestions for our next Targeted Idols for Removal and Evacuation (TIRE):

- One or both of the twin Jesuses, who can't sing but may be holy.
- Jonah, the whale of a Hawaiian who can't sing but seems like a happy guy.
- Lisa Marie Wilson, the model who can't sing and can't stay out of the swimming pool.
- John Stevens, the Frank Sinatra Doogie Howser who can't remember the words to songs.
- Briana, the GI Jane who I haven't actually heard sing, yet.
- Fantasia, the Disney movie namesake who desperately needs a new stage name.

These are the early annoying Idols. They have a tough challenge ahead to prove themselves worthy of removal from The TIRE List. And I guarantee more contestants will make it onto the list.

Let the competiton begin.

The Alliance has spoken.


Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The Tyrant's Trip to the O.C.
Last week, I was in the O.C. for five days. The last two days were great. The previous three days to those two great days, not so much.

Following is a brief recap of the highlights and lowlights:

1. Highlight-
I like to fly, and we just happened to get to L.A. by plane. I didn't have to sit next to anyone on the plane. This was good.

The two old dudes (boss and co-worker) that I traveled with make the airport and flying experience, um, interesting. Especially the co-worker who hadn't been on a plane in 20 years. Getting him through the airport, through security, and onto the plane was, um, interesting. Especially when he asked me if they let people listen to CDs while the plane is in the air.

2. Highlight-
Ed McMahon was on my flight to L.A. He is very tall.

While Ed McMahon was on my flight, he did not give me any money on behalf of Publisher's Clearinghouse, nor did he ask me to be on Star Search. I was as shocked as you are.

Lowlight, part B-
Since I was traveling with two old dudes, neither of them noticed Ed McMahon. And when I asked them if they saw Ed McMahon and they replied that they hadn't, the experience was much less fun because I was the only one involved in the famous person moment.

3. Highlight-
We were picked up from the airport by a chauffeur in a Lincoln Towncar with dark windows. Being picked up at the airport in such a car causes people to stare at you and wonder if you are famous. I like this.

Traveling with two old dudes takes away from the mystique of possibly being famous. However, once I decided to secretly pretend they were my entourage, this lowlight became a moderate highlight, in my mind.

4. Highlight-
My hotel room had two double beds. I'm not sure why. But there was some jumping from bed to bed at night, and I also considered one bed my 'hanging out' bed, and the other bed as the 'sleeping' bed.

Slumber parties alone are just not so much fun.

5. Highlight-
There was lots and lots of food, free for me. Including fried chicken from a restaurant called 'Chicken Restaurant'.

While the chicken was good, it was probably not worth the 45 minute drive in L.A. traffic, on a bus with conference people, to get it. Also, I had to share most of my meals with 150 people that I didn't know, and didn't really care to talk to. I ran out of things to say after the first hour, and it was downhill after that for the rest of the three days of conference. I was in Small Talk Hell.

6. Highlight-
The hotel had computers for me to use to get to email. Email is very important to me.

It cost $7.50 for 15 minutes of internet use. Therefore, I was too poor to check email after the first five minutes.

7. Highlight-
It was very sunny and pretty and warm the whole time I was in the O.C. I love beautiful weather. Also, the lack of humidity made me have great hair.

They kept us trapped inside the hotel for three days, in dimly lit conference rooms, forcing us through seminar after seminar after seminar. I hardly saw the sun at all, but I knew it was out there . . . taunting me. And the only people who saw my good hair were the 150 people I didn't want to be with. Plus, the dim lighting took away from the fabulousness of my humidity-free hair.

8. Highlight-
The conference organizers provided us with evening entertainment.

One night the entertainment was a singing group from a local college. All I could think about the whole time was to wonder how many of them had auditioned for American Idol in L.A. Another night, it was a Gospel singing group. They screamed songs about Jesus as loudly as possible into microphones. And just when I thought that couldn't get any worse, there was a two-minute tambourine solo. Tambourine for Jesus is something else, I'll tell ya that. Very enthusiastic.

9. Highlight-
On Saturday, my friend rescued me from Small Talk Hell and let me stay with her and her family for the rest of the weekend. Spending time with them is always a highlight.

The weekend ended and I had to come back to work on Monday.

10. Highlight-
I got to ride in a guy's Porsche.

I did not get to keep the Porsche.

Thus concludes the Five Days of O.C., the abridged version.


American Griper and America's Next Crying Model
I have re-named these shows to properly reflect the true essence of what we are seeing on each show so far this season.

Griping and crying.

And I am sad to report that despite the reinforced efforts of the Blog Alliance, both of our intial targets are still with us. However, as yesterday was a rebuilding day for the Alliance, we are now refocused in our energies and efforts to alleviate the public from our targets, as follows:

American Griper:
Our primary target at this stage of American Idol is none other than Scooter Girl. Mostly because she refers to herself as 'Scooter Girl'. I don't even have any idea what her real name is. Last night, she somehow made it through the second round of auditions, even though the show taunted us by placing her in the last group of contestants waiting to hear if they were going or staying. Not only was I thoroughly annoyed with her song last night, although I was glad she did not write another song about her scooter for the 'original song lyric' competition. But I was more annoyed with her shirt, which wasn't so much a shirt as it was a mis-shapen handkerchief somehow hanging onto her upper torso for dear life. When she leapt out of the chair after Simon announced that her group was staying, I thought we were about to have another boob flash, not unlike the Super Bowl. Her dance afterwards didn't help the shirt, or the situation.

Other highlights from last night's American Idol include more complaining from more contestants than I've ever heard on any previous season of AI. They complain about the songs, about the groups, about not being able to practice literally all night when other contestants pass out from lack of sleep and food. Who knew Jesus was such a complainer? They complain about the judges' complaints. Who knew Kira would turn out to be the Ultimate Rude Complainer Champion?

Also making a regular appearance is The Most Over-Used Sentiment so far in the competition this year. It goes something like this: "This show will suck without me! FOX's ratings are going down now that I'm off the show! They made the biggest mistake of their lives sending me home! They will lose so much money because they don't have me anymore!"

I'm pretty sure I've heard one or all of those phrases at some point in every show this season. And so far, I think the show, and FOX, is doing okay. So it's time that people understand that the success of FOX as a network, and American Idol as a series, likely does not depend on people who cannot sing their way out of my life fast enough.

Tonight we will hope Scooter Girl is scooted on her way back home. As fast as a scooter can carry her and her 'shirt'.

America's Next Crying Model:
This show was a special treat last night, as Catie demonstrated to us that she can burst into tears at any given moment, for no apparent reason. She is our primary target for ANTM, and unfortunately will be with us for at least another week. During the first 'show us your individual style' competition, Catie cried when her outfit was critiqued as 'like something a hooker would wear'. This was an accurate analysis. Short skirt, leg warmers, and high-heels. What did she expect?

Of course, at the end of the show, I noticed Tyra was wearing almost the same exact thing, except with her hair in cornrows. But, there was no crying.

This week, Mercedes also cried a lot. But of course, she has Lupus, which is probably a good reason to cry a lot. Catie, to my knowledge, does not have Lupus. And she therefore needs to quit crying more than the girl with Lupus.

In the end, the girls were made up to look like famous celebrities. An earing was broken. There was crying and arguing. Adrienne, the winner from last season of ANTM, made a brief appearance (as did her boobs, nearly popping out of her ridiculously tight shirt- what is with the sudden onset of so much boobness on TV lately? It's like Janet opened the door for boobs to now be everywhere on television). For the final evaluations, the girls proved they have no idea how to accessorize a simple black dress. And Janice Dickinson was, as usual, way too proud to be the first supermodel ever. She always beams like this is something spectacular every time Tyra introduces her as a judge, every week.

Unfortunately, Catie was allowed to stay for another week. She cried about it. Shorty was asked to leave. She's apparently heading back to Hooters. And another tough day of modeling is over for the remaining eight girls.

Our objective remains the same: Scooter Girl and Catie must go. Now. Immediately. Post haste.

The Alliance has spoken.


Tuesday, February 03, 2004

The Tyrant's Official Statment Regarding the Super Bowl Halftime
Everyone else has a statement. It is time for the Tyrant to speak on the issue.

Representatives of the Tyrant have released an excerpt quoted, censored and edited from a completely superfluous post-Super Bowl interview with the Tyrant that never actually happened:
"The question here is not, was there, or was there not, a bare b--b blatantly broadcast on national television. We all know what we think we saw, and consequently I am not sure what that was, or where I was when it allegedly happened. However, the real issue here is whether the b--b in question was intentionally set free, or was this an accidental b--bing.

As a third party, un-involved, I cannot comment on the validity of the actions in question, nor to the motivation of the incident, whether accidental or purposeful in nature. I can, however, only make the claim that the same exact thing may, or may not, have happened to me once. And it is precisely the reason why I broke up with Mr. Timberlake.

Therefore, Ms. Jackson's involvement being predominantly moot at this juncture, the issue of malfunctioning wardrobe is secondary only to the fact that Mr. Timberlake should be kept at least fifty feet away from all wardrobes, or wardrobe-like apparatus, henceforth, indefinitely.

Safety first. We must think of the children. And the wardrobes."

End quote.

Back to Reality
Reality TV, of course. What else?

In my absence last week, lots of reality TV occured. I spent much of last night catching up on it. In fact, I dreamed about it when I went to sleep, waking up this morning wondering if I had really just auditioned for American Idol or not. Seriously. It was very Lizzy Hated Pantyhose.

I dreamed that I was riding my bike, when I happened to find myself at the place where American Idol auditions were taking place. My Jeep was already there, for some reason. So I put the bike in the Jeep and went inside the building. There was a short line (as opposed to the gobs of people in the lines you see on TV), in which I saw several people I used to hang out with but haven't seen in years. We chatted. I decided that since I was already there, I might as well audition, too. So I jumped in line, filled out a form, and then it was my turn. I belted out an amazing rendition of 'Amazing Grace', although I have no idea why I would choose this song as an audition piece for national television. After I finished singing, Randy and Paula were lukewarm about my performance, and Simon said it was 'technically perfect', which meant it was boring and uninteresting. I did not get invited to Hollywood, and the judges got up to leave the room for a break. I then turned into one of those sad contestants that we all make fun of, but who make the best freaks for good television. You know the ones. They proceed to beg and plead to go to Hollywood. I did that in the dream. I actually followed Simon out of the room, pleading my case as he went to get coffee. He stopped me, gave me a hug (totally un-Simon-like), and said 'no' again. Then I woke up.

Too much watching of American Idol maybe? Um . . . no.

So, to touch on just a few things regarding the latest episodes (some a week late) of my favorite reality shows, here I go:

There's no crying in modeling.
If you are not watching the new season of America's Next Top Model, you should be. It's as funny as the first, and with more action-packed drama. The episode from last week featured more models crying about absolutely nothing than should be allowed in one hour of programming. I was trying to lift weights while watching this show on tape last night, but was laughing too hard through most of the show to be able to lift and not harm myself with the weights. There's just something really funny about dressing up a bunch of model wannabees, suspending them from the air over a giant gaping hole, and then making them pose for the camera in between the freaking out and the crying. This week should be a competition to see who can cry the most without ruining a photo shoot. I'd put money on Catie, since Heather went home last week. Catie didn't seem so emotional before last week, but then again, that was before they chopped all of her hair off. Perhaps the long hair gave her strength to not be such a big, whine-y, crybaby. Oops.

Three Idols is always better than one.
This week we get three Idols again. It does hinge on the verge of Idol-overload, but after last night's 'Best and Worst' of the auditions, I was sad when the show ended. I was truly entertained. Tonight the second part of the competition starts, with the 117 (yes, that's an odd and ridiculous number) Hollywood-bound contestants beginning the battle of surviving the likes of Scooter Girl, Jesus and Jesus' brother, and that dude from last night who thinks he is three times better than everyone on the previous seasons of Idol. Truthfully, some of the people who were rewarded with a ticket to Hollywood would never have made it if I had been a judge (and I absolutely should be). But then again, the weirdos and people who can't sing keep things interesting. So I'm sure we are in for a very special treat with the remaining Idols this week.

How do you solve a problem like Tina?
You boot her off the show as the first Survivor to non-survive the All-Star Survivors. How embarrassing is that?? She won one already, and now she's the first to go. I caught the season premier of All-Star Survivor while unpacking late Sunday night, so it was a bit of a blur. But it sounded whine-y and complain-y as usual, which is what we all like to see. And there was something really fun about seeing Tina voted off, after she gave her answer at tribal council about not choosing a previous winner to win if the choice came down to a winner and a non-winner in the end. Here's a hint to the rest of the All-Stars: don't answer questions like that. Just smile and nod. Unless you want to be the next to follow Tina home to what's left of her previous million-dollar winnings.

Nothing says 'I Love You' like a hideously over-diamonded watch.
The new season of Nick & Jessica's Newlyweds is so far, as good as the first. It's also pretty much exactly like the first, but that's the Nick & Jessica I love. For Nick's 30th birthday, Jessica plans a big birthday bash. All by herself, apparently. With some help, that is. But basically by herself, which she announces will make Nick very proud of her. She bestows upon Nick a giant watch completely covered in diamonds, which I'm sure will go nicely with all his ripped-off-sleeveless t-shirts and baggy shorts. Jessica then pops out of a giant birthday cake and sings happy birthday, while scantily clad in something resembling lingerie. All the while, her parents stand faithfully close by, enjoying the festivities. Did you know her dad used to be a youth pastor? Yep. He was.

Anyway, I'm mostly caught up from last week's reality television, just in time for this week's shows.

I hope I don't have a nightmare about Scooter Girl tonight. She does frighten me.



Monday, February 02, 2004

They Don't Call Me Dr. Dolittle
I love creatures, great and small. I just do not love them in my house, Tyrant I am.

Following is the tale of a furry tailed creature, trapped in my house, and the process of getting him out of my house.

Let me begin by saying that the demise of the squirrel was completely unintentional. No animals were intended to be harmed in the de-crittering of my house. No animals were further harmed in the re-telling of the story, as far as I know. If they were, or if they are in the future as this blog is read, it is not my fault and I did not do it. However, I do wish my sincerest condolences to the squirrel and his family. I was very sad that the squirrel expired before I could rescue it. But let this be a lesson learned to all creatures great and small: the tiny space underneath my furnace is probably not the best place to vacation.

Now, on with the story. It's long, but hopefully full of enough hi-jinx (suitable for most ages, with minimal graphic details) that it's worth the read.

When last you heard, I had a critter trapped underneath the furnace in my house. It was something, not sure what, but definitely anxious to get out. What it exactly it was, I did not know at the time that I heard it trying to claw its way to freedom. I just knew it was something other than myself, and as far as I knew, 'myself' was the only thing scheduled to be living in my house at this current time.

To recap before I get to the real recap, the critter kept me up all night. I had to go to work the next day. So I left the critter in the house, still safely tucked away behind the vent, and I proceeded to worry throughout the day at work. I feared what I would find when I returned home, and therefore spent the day trying to decide what to do about the critter situation.

My plan was this: arriving home after work, I would assess the situation of What Lies Beneath My Furnace. Once determining that the critter was essentially harmless, I planned to speak with it, encouraging it to leave from whence it came, on its own, peacefully. If that didn't work, my plan was to grab the following household items (lawnmower bag, electric screwdriver, hazmat suit, lead gloves, hockey mask, tranquilizer darts), then somehow carefully remove the vent cover while holding the bag over the gaping hole, coax the critter into the lawnmower bag (which I scientifically estimated was the exact same size as the opening to the vent, not allowing room for any escape out the side of the vent, thus missing the bag), and then escort both the bag and the critter into the out of doors, through my open back door, in a tossing sort of fashion. There would likely be a good bit of screaming involved throughout this process.

Plan B would occur if the critter did, in fact, make it out of the vent but not exactly into the bag. Plan B involved a lot more screaming and yelling and freaking out, followed by calling 911, Animal Control, and the National Guard.

These were my plans. I had diagrams, schematics, calculations, and elevations. I was serious.

I arrived home to a very quiet house. Eerily quiet, I must admit. The house seemed intact, everything where I left it. Including the critter, I would soon find out.

I turned on a few lights, and still heard nothing. Just as I got close to the furnace, it came to life. The furnace, that is. Perfect timing, so I could see if anything was still stirring underneath. Throughout the night before, every time the furnace came on, the critter came to life. I can't blame it. I'm sure it was (as our good friend Nelly would say) gettin' hot in there. Unable to take off all its clothes, the critter had no choice but to try and claw through the wall. A lot. Loudly.

But as the furnace came on, I still heard nothing. So I went for the flashlight to shine it into the vent, hoping to see what I could see. Maybe the critter left? Maybe there never was a critter? Maybe my prayers had been answered and the critter had decided to vacation elsewhere? These were the things I hoped for.

I bent down onto the floor and shined the light into the vent. After a minute or so, I wasn't sure I saw anything. Still. This is what happened the night before. Every time I shined the light into the vent, I saw nothing. The critter would hide, or disappear, or become invisible. This led me to believe it might have been an alien, able to resemble the wall or the floor or nothing at all. At times like these, you just can't be sure you aren't looking at an alien.

I shined the light through the vent again, and then I saw it. Something red and fluffy. I was pretty sure I hadn't left anything red and fluffy of my own in the vent on purpose, so my heart stopped for just a second as I realized I was probably looking at something attached to the critter.

Except, it wasn't moving.


I couldn't see much from that angle, so I moved to the other wall where the other side of the vent would allow better viewing into the area underneath the furnace. I shined the light through the vent . . . and there it was.

Once I was able to catch my breath and get my hand to stop shaking, I realized I was looking into the opened (but non-moving eyes) of a very . . . dead . . . squirrel.

Double aack.

I'm pretty sure my heart stopped for a full minute or so. Plans A and B did not consider the possibility that whatever was living underneath my furnace might no longer be living when it was time to enact Plan A or B. A dead critter was not in the plan at all.

I thought for a minute, and wondered if the squirrel could just be pretending to be dead, to fool me so that I would open the vent (without my gear) and let him roam freely about the house. He could, in fact, be a very clever squirrel. So, I banged on the vent. Loudly. And I discovered that no, in fact, this was a very dumb squirrel that crawled into my house, got himself stuck underneath my furnace, and then simply lost the will to live.

It didn't move at all. And . . . it creeped me out.

So, since the squirrel obviously wasn't going anywhere until I was good and ready to move it, I decided to leave the house for awhile to seek moral support. I went to be with friends, told them my tale of woe and critter, had them pray for me (since the squirrel didn't need the prayers anymore), and stayed away as long as I could before I knew I had to return to the House of Squirrel Carcass.


Once again at home, I put myself in 'extraction' mode, and did my best to do what Sydney would do. Sydney Bristow, of course. From TV's Alias. Sydney often finds herself in tricky and interesting situations, with limited tools and options, being forced to survive only by her wits and abilities to manuever out of tight places.

My situation was essentially the same thing. Except instead of myself, I had to maneuver a squirrel out of a tight place. This was an extreme extraction, more so than any extraction in the history of Alias. I had a fresh-baked squirrel that wasn't getting any closer to being outside on its own. It was time for Operation Squirrel-Out.

First, I needed to suit up. I put on my nastiest sweatpants and a sweatshirt, the coat I wore through Russia several years ago, my yard gloves, and a hat. It was cold outside, true. But more than fighting the cold, I didn't want any squirrel funk anywhere near my skin.


Once completely covered from head to toe, I considered my resources and gathered what I had to accomplish the task. Since the house didn't come with any specific Squirrel Removal Tools, I had to improvise. I grabbed a variety of shovels, ranging in sizes- three shovels in all. I grabbed a box of plastic bags, my electric screwdriver, a long poking device, and a bucket. Surely these items would thoroughly extract the squirrel from my home.

I carried everything to the site of the squirrel, laying out a careful arrangement of plastic bags onto the floor. I also layered the bucket with several plastic bags, as I intend to keep the bucket and not throw it out with the squirrel. Any surface that could possibly come in contact with squirrel funk was carefully covered with plastic bags. About 108 in all, I imagine.

Then, I banged on the vent one more time to make sure the squirrel still didn't intend to spring to life. It didn't. So I removed the vent cover with the screwdriver . . . and came face to face with the little furry uninvited guest.

I almost threw up.

Not that it was gross looking, in any way. In fact, it looked quite peaceful, like it had just quit, or had laid down for a nap. It looked much like I'm sure it did when it was alive and happy, only now it was just laying on its side and not moving. When I was a kid, my uncle was into taxidermy, and had many a stuffed squirrel sitting around the house. He would have been proud. This Vent Squirrel seemed ready to go on my wall for display. . . . except that my house is a house of Non-Carcass, by design. All carcasses must be outside where I cannot see, smell, or know of them, by order of the queen of the house.

That's me.

So once the nausea and sorrow passed, as I realized I had an actual dead creature, once alive and full of nut-gathering life, now very dead in my home, I began to decide the best mode of extraction operation. The squirrel was a large squirrel, larger than I had estimated through the vent. The hole was probably large enough for the squirrel to fit through, but it would take some creative manuevering to get it through the hole, especially since I intended to not touch the thing with my gloved hands at any point during this operation. I was thankful that the squirrel had decided to quit near the hole, rather than far back underneath the furnace where Inspector Gadget arms would have been necessary to retrieve him.

I started with the long poking device- an old broom handle that was left behind by the previous owner of the house, and would likely be making its way to the trash soon after poking the squirrel. I carefully extended the device, and poked the squirrel. It didn't move, and in fact, just slid backwards a bit. Stiffly, I might add.

The nausea returned.

The big shovel was too big to fit in the hole, so I was left with two smaller shovels. I positioned the bucket near the hole, and grabbed the two small shovels. I intended to somewhat 'tong' the squirrel out of the hole, grabbing it between the two shovels, then deftly depositing it into the bucket with every ounce of skill one would imagine I'd have in a situation such as this. Taking a deep breath (fortunately nothing was smelling bad at this point), I reached into the hole with the shovels.

I attempted one lift, but realized this squirrel was actually kind of heavy. Squirrels, to me, seem cute and mostly made of fur. This squirrel probably weighed five pounds or so, which by most standards isn't heavy. But I was expecting to quickly tong and lift a pile of fuzz. It wasn't so easy as that. And it was still very, very stiff.

At this point, I wanted to bail. I wanted to call a boy and have him rescue me from the squirrel carcass. I didn't care if that made me a girlie girl. I just wanted the thing out of my house, and I don't need to prove anything to myself by taking care of this thing on my own.

But, after taking a moment to regroup, I reminded myself that I am a big girl now. I am a homeowner. This was just a test of my home-owning skills, to see if I'm really up for this trip. If I can remove a dead animal from inside my home, I can do anything. No boys on this one, ladies. I had to do this myself.

Unfortunately, it just couldn't be done with my eyes closed, as I would have preferred. It's just really weird to touch something that once moved and responded to touch (albeit touching it now with a shovel), and for it not to respond at all. I just don't like dead things.

But I forged ahead and eventually maneuvered the squirrel out of the hole . . . and onto the floor. Luckily I had enough plastic bags lining the floor to catch it even if I'd thrown it down the hall. But after a few more tries with the 'tong' shovels, I managed to flip it into the bucket and carry (ie: run) it outside. There, I added more plastic bags to the mix (thank goodness I'd recently stocked up on plastic bags from Wal-Mart), and tied the critter up in as much plastic as I thought would help it last til trash day, which is today. About a week after the extraction.


So there you have it. I cleaned up the tools and plastic bags, burned my clothes (not really, but it was tempting), and tried to get the image of the squirrel out of my head. It's still haunting me. And I'm actually scared to take out the trash tonight, for fear of thousands of squirrels waiting in ambush for me to venture into the alley where they can exact their revenge on me for not returning their squirrel friend to them in the condition he was in when he got into the house.


If any of you ever need any pointers on how to extract a squirrel from underneath a furnace, feel free to consult this blog and the method mentioned here.

Don't call me to help you with it. But please, learn from my experience.